Pixel Scroll 11/6/23 Reader, I Pixeled Him

(1) DANGEROUS COVER REVEALS. J. Michael Straczynski  today posted in social media links to the Amazon pre-order pages showing the covers of of Dangerous Visions and Again, Dangerous Visions coming out from Blackstone Publishing next year.

JMS added that, “What’s not noted in this description is that this edition of Dangerous Visions the book has two new introductions, one by me, and one by Patton Oswalt.”

Dangerous Visions, Blackstone Publishing; Hardcover edition (March 26, 2024)

Again, Dangerous Visions, Blackstone Publishing; Unabridged edition (June 1, 2024)

(2) SERGEY LUKYANENKO PROMOTES CHENGDU WORLDCON BOOK. This is news because it’s the first time this year that Sergey Lukyanenko’s blog has mentioned the Chengdu Worldcon, where he was a no-show guest of honor. On October 31 he promoted the book published for the con containing stories by the three GoHs.

A collection of stories by honored guests of WorldCon 2023 (Chengdu, China): “The Stars Echo” Authors: Sergey Lukyanenko, Liu Cixin, and Robert Sawyer

His blog includes several photos from a Chinese promotional event for the book (none of them showing the other two GoHs).

(Interestingly, his next blog post announced a scheduled appearance by Vladimir Putin at the Public Chamber of Russia, of which Lukyanenko is a member. He and 39 others were appointed members by Putin in April.)

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Cadwell Turnbull and Victor Manibo on Wednesday, November 8, 2023. The event begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern in the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs)

Cadwell Turnbull

Cadwell Turnbull is the award-winning author of The Lesson and No Gods, No Monsters. His short fiction has appeared in The Verge, Lightspeed, Nightmare, Asimov’s Science Fiction and several anthologies, including The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018 and The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019. His latest novel We Are the Crisis is available now from Blackstone Publishing.

Victor Manibo

Victor Manibo is a Filipino speculative fiction writer living in New York. A 2022 Lambda Literary Emerging Voices Fellow, he is the author of the science fiction noir novel The Sleepless. His next novel, Escape Velocity, is forthcoming from Erewhon Books in Spring 2024. Aside from fiction, he also spins fantastical tales in his career as a lawyer. He lives in Queens with his husband, their dog, and their two cats.

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

The Tibet SF table in the fan area

(Note: I am of course aware that the status of Tibet is a controversial subject, to put it mildly.  For better or worse, this item focuses solely on the content in the linked article.  Also, given that this item is based on a machine translation of a Chinese-language article that in turn uses many Tibetan names, I’m sure there is a very high chance of mistranscribed or mistranslated names and titles, for which I can only apologize.)

This WeChat/Weixin article covers the Tibet SF table that was present in the fan area at the Worldcon.  Some extracts, via Google Translate, with manual edits:

The crowd in the hall was bustling and noisy, and the schedule of activities was full. However, many details were not satisfactory. The entire convention was not planned like a free and easygoing party, but more like a well-regulated exhibition. After all, the fan area was located in the lobby on the first floor, in a corner space.

I wandered around the exhibition area… and a line of familiar and unfamiliar fonts attracted my attention.  They read “In this way, Tibetans are a people with a long history. A nation with a history of science fiction literature and a great influence on various science fiction works in the world; Tibet is a treasure trove of science fiction decorated with faith and curiosity, as well as romance and enthusiasm.”

Are there actually elements of science fiction in the plateau tradition that I have lived with for many years? …

The table area was not large, and it was filled with Tibetan books with traditional bindings and modern designs. Two “roll-up banners” were placed at each side, displaying the text “Introduction to Tibetan Science Fiction Works” in Tibetan, Chinese and English, and a huge background board stood against the wall. Under the huge bilingual title “Tibetan Science Fiction Works”, there were posters for two film and television works, “2012” and “The Nine Billion Names of God”. Between the posters, an exquisite painting was hung…

[The author of the article in conversation with one of the people staffing the table]

Cang Gou: Could you name a traditional science fiction literary work that you think is representative [of Tibetan SF]?

Yun Dan: Yes, for example, I think the ancient Tibetan book “Semi”, which dates back more than a thousand years, is one of the earliest works with science fiction elements. It is a biography of a character, written in poetic form. It is written in a physical style, but it includes the science fictional element of exploring the universe. There is a phrase in the book: “The world is incredibly infinite.”  It mentions other forms of civilization beyond the earth, showing the insignificance of human beings. What we see is not the world as it is, and that many worlds are beyond our vision and understanding. Tibetan culture not only recognizes the existence of intelligent life on other planets, but also that some of the planets are much more civilized than the Earth we live on.

Cang Gou: This is a very interesting interpretation. Are there any works in traditional Tibetan literature that we would be more familiar with?

Yun Dan: Of course, the world-famous  “Epic of King Gesar” also contains elements of science fiction. Not only is it a “living epic” that is still being worked on, but it also mentions a lot of technological things. For example, the story “Conquering the Snowy Mountains and Crystal Kingdom”, created around the 17th century, describes a wooden aircraft that could seat 15 people . This aircraft was powered by an internal iron engine, allowing soldiers to fly long distances. “House Tales” records the legend of how a team of carpenters, blacksmiths and other craftsmen made an aeroplane that successfully flew into the sky. Other stories also mention “modern” equipment such as ships, wires, and rockets.  Most modern scholars believe that the Epic of King Gesar was created around the 11th to 13th centuries, so the “future” objects mentioned above could not really exist in that era, but from another perspective, they reflect traditional Tibetan literary works, with an extraordinary imagination…

Cang Gou: So are there any science fiction works in contemporary Tibetan literature?

Yun Dan: Yes, for example, there is a story called “The End of the Moon” in Thondup Tsering‘s novels, in which in a future world, a child asks his grandfather, why is there no moon in the sky?  His Grandpa explains that a long time ago, due to the development of industrialization, humans destroyed the Earth’s environment, and furthermore, because of uncontrolled selfishness and greed, they then set their sights on the moon. In order to obtain mineral deposits, they chose to blow up the moon, regardless of [the impact on] future generations.  Such science fiction stories also have strong realistic criticism and warning significance. In addition, there are also science fiction poems such as “Ping” and “Home” in my own “Collected Poems of Gao Yun”, and other authors have published [SFnal work] in “Gongga Mountain”, “Tibetan Literature”, “Zhangchar” and other publications, but overall the number is relatively small…

Cang Gou: What do you think of the current situation of Tibetan science fiction?

Yun Dan: In actuality, Tibetans are a very imaginative nation, and there are a lot of science fiction genes in their traditional culture. However, we have not done enough research, organization and development in this area. The older generation may not understand it well. What does science fiction mean? Young people don’t have many opportunities to be exposed to science fiction works. Many people also don’t know how to rediscover and apply traditional culture from the perspective of science fiction. Therefore, the audience for science fiction works is very small, and the science fiction atmosphere in Tibet is very weak compared to China and overseas.

Cang Gou: How do you think we can promote the development of Tibetan science fiction?

Yun Dan: First of all, we need to discover more Tibetan science fiction elements in traditional culture, so that more young generations can like science fiction and develop a  science fictional mindset.  Secondly, we need a larger number of writers to participate in the creation, translation and dissemination of science fiction works. Thirdly, the government and the private sector should provide more support for science fiction creation and the dissemination of science fiction culture, and cultivate the science fiction cultural atmosphere in Tibet.

Articles about Hai Ya from a finance newsletter and his employer

This article from a financial news organization is a couple of weeks old, but I hadn’t got around to posting it before now.  It’s a fairly standard piece about the Best Novelette Winner, which came to my attention via a bilingual finance blog.  That has some extracts which I imagine are better translated than the Google Translate-sourced material that has been published here.  It also links to another interview with Hai Ya, which seems to be by the account of his employer, and which perhaps veers a little into advertorial territory in places.

There was also a Xiaohongshu post from his employer’s account.

Images from his employer’s Xiaohongshu post

Miscellaneous Xiaohongshu galleries

This one has a photo that shows the organizers were steadfastly refusing to acknowledge the reality that Lukyanenko wasn’t going to be at the con.  (As an aside, I’ve also seen post-con promotional material for the Liu/Sawyer/Lukyanenko anthology that refers to all three as Guests of Honour.)

Several Western attendees are pictured in this image set, posted by one of the con staff.

And finally a slightly random set of images.  I’m not sure which hotel some of these were taken in; maybe the Wyndham rather than the Sheraton close to the venue?

(5) GOT ONE JOE, GET SOME MORE. Justin Caravoulias shared “An incredibly Brief History Of G.I. Joe Action Figures” in the Heritage Auctions newsletter.

…The original G.I. Joe line was released in 1964 with soldiers representing the 4 branches of the military, each with clothing, gear, and weapons that were interchangeable. Additional outfits and gear were available in accessory kits sold separately as well. From 1964 to 1969, Hasbro released many different Military figures and expanded to international soldiers as well with their Soldiers of the World which included German, Japanese, British, French, and Australian fighters. Hasbro even released a fire truck with Crash Crew figure, a Canadian Mounty, and a female Nurse figure which is highly sought after today.

In 1969 as the Vietnam War became increasingly unpopular, G.I. Joe steered away from military toys and released adventure sets. By 1970, the “Adventure Team” G.I. Joe figures were no longer about military but about accomplishing special missions. This also mis when the “Kung-fu Grip” and “Lifelike Hair” were introduced. My first G.I. Joe as a child was a 12 Inch Adventure Team Land Adventurer that my mother purchased at a local yard sale. I still vividly recall playing with him among the planters in the living room next to our burgundy red 1960’s foam-cushioned couch….

(6) STEPPING INTO THE ANCIENT. “In search of strange and sacred sites – the UK’s weirdest walks” – the Guardian is tracking them down.

… And then, in the closing hours of the 20th century, came Julian Cope’s The Modern Antiquarian, a landmark practical tome for the would-be site-seeker, served up in its own mud-proof slipcase, synthesising archaeology, folklore, grid references, helpful full-colour maps, parking advice and a small smidgeon of Cope’s own eccentric interpretations, often later validated by reluctantly admiring academics. The stones were stages! Rock and roll! It was a game-changer, and Cope opened up the crack in the Devil’s Grave of our folkloric landscape to all, like the wizard of Alderley Edge.

But Weird Walk is not The Modern Antiquarian. If anything, the three Weird Walkers, whoever they may be, have returned the love of folk tales, ancient sites and the perambulations that lead one to their locations even more defiantly to the realm of the gentleman and gentlewoman amateurs who first documented them. The sensibly shod 17th-century parson, mapping the megaliths between funerals and marriages, and the aristocratic antiquary, pleading with some Cornish farmer to spare the collapsed burial chamber whose capstone he had earmarked for a pigsty, would recognise the Weird Walkers as kindred spirits. No one knows who they are, or what they are doing.

And yet, in their costly boots and cagoules, they seem to have stumbled into something. They walk the landscape in the shadows of the seasons as we used to experience them before they blurred, reminding us of how we once measured out the increments of our humanity, and etched it into rock and earth, in the annual cycles of rotting and rebirth. When we lose this knowledge, we are lost. We’re probably lost anyway to be honest, but fuck it, let’s go down drunk and walking weird.

Fernworthy Forest, Dartmoor, Devon

Dartmoor is a weird place; temporal dislocation comes with the territory. Wayfinding is not easy among this gorse, these rambling tors and secluded brooks. And when an autumn mist descends, you can be transported: a bronze age farmer to your left, a medieval tin miner to your right, and up ahead the lord of the manor has antiquarian ambitions. He’s just repositioned those stones. The earth gnomes don’t approve.

The stretch of moor between the storied Warren House Inn and the foreboding interwar plantation of Fernworthy Forest is classic Dartmoor; the grasses are thick underfoot and marshy ground emerges without warning, saturated by the capricious weather. Long ago, the moorland here would have rolled uninterrupted and Fernworthy’s ancient monuments would have been as exposed as their neighbours at Merrivale or the Grey Wethers. Now, the break with the moor is absolute, and dark evergreens offer up an entrance out of a Grimm’s tale. Once inside, the silent monoculture can provide even the warmest October day with an eerie chill.

Near the edge of the forest sits Assycombe double stone row, Fernworthy’s planters helpfully leaving a gap between the saplings for the stones to breathe. Although little known, it is a remarkable monument that seems to tumble down its grassy hill, the irregular miniliths descending like a dragon’s spine from an initial menhir to a large blocking stone at the foot of the slope.

Assycombe is one of the many stone rows on Dartmoor thought by early antiquarians, such as Richard Polwhele, to be “Druid ways”. They are scattered across the landscape, sometimes barely discernible, but always potent in their imaginative value. Walking these ancient lines creates an access point, a connection to those who walked them long ago….

(7) LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] More LearnedLeague specials.

You can find twelve questions about vampires here. (I got eleven right.)

And twelve more about “Haunted New England” here. (Only eight of these.)

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 6, 1907 Catherine Crook de Camp. Author and editor. Most of her work was done in collaboration with her husband L. Sprague de Camp, to whom she was married for sixty years. Her solo work was largely non-fiction. Her Science-Fiction Handbook was nominated for Retro Hugo at Noreascon 4, and Dark Valley Destiny: The Life of Robert E. Howard was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. Heinlein in part dedicated Friday to her. It is worth noting that she has been depicted in works by several authors, usually together with her husband. I’ll single out she appears in S. M. Stirling’s In the Courts of the Crimson Kings and Paul Malmont’s The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown. (Died 2000.)
  • Born November 6, 1936 Edmond G Addeo,  87. Author with Richard M Garvin of The FORTEC Conspiracy, a late Sixties SF novel set at Roswell that the X-Files could’ve used for source material. The Roswell conspiracy fanatics thought it was actually fact. 
  • Born November 6, 1948 Michael Dirda, 75. Currently book critic for the Washington Post. His connection to genre is a fascinating work entitled On Conan Doyle; or, The Whole Art of Storytelling which won the Edgar Award for Best Critical / Biographical Works in 2012 and which looks at his SF work as well. Also worth bringing to your attention is Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books which y’all should naturally be interested in reading.
  • Born November 6, 1951 Gary Ruddell, 72. Illustrator whose cover artwork for Dan Simmons’s Hyperion novel was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Original Artwork at ConFiction. I’m also fond of the work he did on the Liavek and Thieves’ World covers.
  • Born November 6, 1955 Catherine Ann Asaro, 68. She is best known for her books about the Ruby Dynasty, called the Saga of the Skolian Empire. When I wrote up this Birthday originally four years ago, I said, “I don’t think I’ve read them, so if you’ve read them, please do tell me about them.” Since then I’ve read The Jigsaw Assassin and it’s quite excellent indeed. The Quantum Rose won a Nebula as did “The Spacetime Pool” novella. And I would argue strongly that her magnificent “Ancient Ages” song is definitely genre in content. It’s available from the usual musical digital sources with her books available from the usual digital suspects. 
  • Born November 6, 1965 Sandra Newman, 58. She has two genre novels, both of which did well as mainstream fiction as well: The Country of Ice Cream Star, a near future dystopian feminist novel and The Heavens which may or may not involve time travel back to Elizabethian times. She also co-authored with Howard Mittlemark, How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them–A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld gives this model a day of rest, but not of arrest.

(10) FROM MCU TO MCFILMS. The New York Times review of MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios by Joanna Robinson, Dave Gonzales and Gavin Edwards shows “Why You Can’t Spell Hollywood Without Marvel”.

Hollywood doesn’t believe in immortals. From Mary Pickford to the MGM musical, Golden Age cowboys to teenage wizards, the city worships its gods only until their box-office power dims. So it feels audacious — if not foolhardy — to open “MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios” and find its authors, Joanna Robinson, Dave Gonzales and Gavin Edwards, declaring that it’s difficult to imagine a future where the Disney-owned superhero industrial complex “didn’t run forever.” Even Tony Stark, better known as Iron Man, has yet to engineer a perpetual motion machine.

Yet the three veteran pop culture journalists behind this detailed accounting of the company’s ascendancy have the numbers to support it. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, a constellation of solo superhero tales mixed with all-star team-ups, including four installments of “The Avengers,” is Hollywood’s most successful movie franchise of all time — 32 films that have grossed a combined $29.5 billion. By comparison, the book points out that the “Star Wars” series, Marvel’s nearest rival, has notched only 12 films and $10.3 billion.

Turning the pages — which are devoid of the usual, and unnecessary, glossy photo spreads — one realizes that superheroes are an X-ray lens into the last decade and a half of Hollywood disruption. Every upheaval gets a mention: corporate mergers; profit-losing streaming services; Chinese censorship; digitally scanned actors; social media cancellations; #MeToo and #OscarsSoWhite; the resurgence of a production-to-distribution vertical pipeline that hadn’t been legal since the 1948 Paramount Decree. Pity there’s no room to examine each in depth.

First, the origin story. In the ’90s, the former overseer of Marvel Enterprises, Ike Perlmutter (let’s give him the comic book nickname “The Pennypincher”), empowered his entertainment division to license its biggest stars for cheap, scattering Spider-Man, Hulk and the X-Men across other studios in service of selling more toys. (“MCU” familiarizes us with the marketing term “toyetic.”)…

(11) IF YOU WANT TO BE AN ACTOR, SEE MISTER FACTOR. “’Stranger Things’ Producer Says Season 5 Won’t Use AI To De-Age Actors” reports Deadline.

The final season of Stranger Things is still on pause, but even as the principal cast gets older, executive producer Shawn Levy doesn’t think the team will need to go to any extreme lengths to de-age them.

Levy, who also directed two pivotal Season 4 episodes, recently suggested that the producers would do whatever they could to make the kids’ aging seem less apparent, because it will have been several years since the previous season wrapped production.

However, in an interview with Deadline, he clarified that he didn’t mean to suggest any computer-generated assistance….

(12) A SHOW WITH A FUTURE. “’Futurama’ Renewed For Two More Seasons By Hulu”Deadline has the story.

Hulu has ordered two more seasons of the adult animated series Futurama.

The streamer revived the series in 2022 with a 20-episode order. Season 11 premiered July 24 on Hulu on and was on Nielsen’s Top 10 originals series list for six weeks.

Season 12 is expected to debut on Hulu in 2024. The 20-episode latest order is for Seasons 13 and 14…

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George shows the way things would have gone differently “If Ouija Boards Had Been Invented Today”.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, David Goldfarb, 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 Jayn.]

Pixel Scroll 7/30/23 No Country For Old Pixels

(1) SURVIVAL ISSUES FOR ACTORS. Bleeding Cool quotes Wil Wheaton’s statement supporting the strike: “Star Trek Residuals ‘Kept Me Afloat For Two Decades’: Wil Wheaton”.

…In 1960, SAG and WGA struck to force management to adapt to the new technology of television. Without that strike and the agreement it birthed, residual use payments would not exist.

My parents stole nearly all of my salary from my entire childhood. My Star Trek residuals were all I had, and they kept me afloat for two decades while I rebuilt my life. I have healthcare and a pension because of my union. The AMPTP billionaires want to take all that security away so they can give CEOs even more grotesque wealth at the expense of the people who make our industry run.

To give some sense of what is at stake: There are actors who star in massively successful, profitable, critically acclaimed shows that are all on streaming services. You see them all the time. They are famous, A-list celebrities. Nearly all of those actors don’t earn enough to qualify for health insurance, because the studios forced them to accept a buyout for all their residuals (decade of reuse, at the least) that is less than I earned for one week on TNG. And I was the lowest paid cast member in 1988. They want to do this while studio profits and CEO compensation are at historic highs…

(2) IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS. The above item made me curious about Wil Wheaton’s The Ready Room. Here’s the most recent episode, “On A Healing Journey With Babs Olusanmokun And Melissa Navia” at Paramount+. Beware spoilers.

(3) CADWELL TURNBULL STORY. Sunday Morning Transport posted their last free story of July, “A Tech Mage Comes to Visit” by Cadwell Turnbull about a “stunning new world, and the characters who have strange powers over the machines there.” Editors Julian Yap and Fran Wilde encourage fans to read it and subscribe.

(4) ALASTAIR REYNOLDS STORY. Auki Labs has posted a short story, “End User” by Alastair Reynolds.

The following is a short story by renowned sci-fi author Alastair Reynolds, commissioned by Auki Labs. It is the third short story published on our Medium about the future of Augmented Reality….

Alastair Reynolds’ “End User” is a chilling reminder, if one could call a vision of the future that, of why it is important for us as a society to reject surveillance capitalism and think critically about how AR will be delivered to us. We should never allow corporations to see through our eyes….

(5) ON THE COVER. These are pretty damn cute. Especially the one of the TARDIS. “Iconic Sci-Fi Vehicles Reimagined in the Cool Vintage Art Style of Modern Mechanix Magazine” at GeekTyrant.

Illustrator Chet Phillips has reimagined six iconic fictional sci-fi vehicles in as front covers in the vintage style of Modern Mechanix magazine. The magazine is known for its wildly cool and exaggerated illustrations, and was popular in the early to mid part of the 20th Century….

(6) AUREALIS AWARDS TAKING ENTRIES. The 2023 Aurealis Awards are open for entry from now until December 14.

The Aurealis Awards, Australia’s premier awards for speculative fiction, are for works created by an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and published for the first time between 1 January 2023 and 31 December 2023.

We strongly encourage publishers and authors to enter all works published already this year by September 30, 2023, then subsequent publications as they are released; our judges appreciate having time to consider each entry carefully.

Read the Aurealis Awards Rules and the FAQ at the links.

(7) COURT PUTS BRAKES TO ARKANSAS BOOK LAW. “Judge halts Arkansas ban on librarians giving kids ‘harmful’ books” reports the Washington Post.

A federal judge in Arkansas temporarily blocked a state law that would have made it a crime for librarians and booksellers to give minors materials deemed “harmful” to them — a move celebrated by free-speech advocates, who had decried the law as a violation of individual liberties.

Act 372 would have taken effect Tuesday. U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks issued a preliminary injunction Saturday, siding with bookstores, libraries and patrons in the state thatargued in a lawsuit filed last month that parts of the law were unconstitutional.

Section 1 would have made it a criminal offense to knowingly provide a minor with any material deemed “harmful” — a term defined by state law as containing nudity or sexual content, appealing to a “prurient interest in sex,” lacking “serious literary, scientific, medical, artistic, or political value for minors” or deemed “inappropriate for minors” under current community standards.

Plaintiffs also challenged Section 5, which would have allowed anyone “affected by” material in a particular county or municipal library to challenge the “appropriateness” of the material.

The plaintiffs argued that the law would force librarians and booksellers to make an impossible choice: Remove books that some might deem offensive to young readers from their shelves; create secure, adult-only spaces for those books; ban minors from their facilities altogether; or expose themselves to criminal charges or fines.

In his injunction, Brooks said the law “would permit, if not encourage, library committees and local governmental bodies to make censorship decisions based on content or viewpoint,” in violation of the right to free speech under the First Amendment. He agreed with the plaintiffs that the state’s definition of “harmful” materials was overly vague….

(8) SHELLEY BELSKY (1955-2023). Shelley Adrienne Mimi Belsky, a New York City fan, died July 25 at the age of 68.

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society’s tribute says: “Shelley was a transwoman known for her knowledge and love of science fiction literature and hearty laugh in east coast con suites in the late ’70s to ’80s before she married and moved to Canada. After a decade she returned to the US and resided in the Milwaukee area. She often attended Balticon….. May her memory be a blessing.”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 30, 1911 Reginald Bretnor. Author of many genre short stories involving Ferdinand Feghoot, a comical figure indeed. It looks like all of these are available in digital form on iBooks and Kindle. He was a consummate SJW. He translated Les Chats, the first known book about cats which was written by Augustin Paradis de Moncrif in 1727. He also wrote myriad articles about cats, was a companion to cats, and considered himself to have a psychic connection to cats. Of course, most of us do. (Died 1992.)
  • Born July 30, 1947 Arnold Schwarzenegger, 76. Terminator franchise, of course, as well as Running ManConan the Barbarian and Conan the DestroyerTales from the Crypt and True Lies.  
  • Born July 30, 1948 Carel Struycken, 75. I remember him best as the gong-ringing Mr. Holm on Next Gen, companion to Deanna Troi’s mother. He was also Lurch in The Addams FamilyAddams Family Values and the Addams Family Reunion. He’s listed as being Fidel in The Witches of Eastwick but I’ll be damned if I remembered his role in that film though I’ve seen it twice. And he’s in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor which I’ve never seen. 
  • Born July 30, 1947 John E. Stith, 76. Winner of two HOMer Awards, given by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature Forum on CompuServe, for Redshift Rendezvous and Naught for Hire. The former would be nominated for a Nebula as well. The HOMer Awards ended in about 2000. 
  • Born July 30, 1961 Laurence Fishburne, 63. Morpheus in The Matrix films. My favorite role by him was Dr. Raymond Langston on CSI. (Not genre, though the forensic science there is SF.) His voice work as Thrax in Osmosis Jones on the other hand is outstanding as is his role as Bill Foster in Ant-Man.
  • Born July 30, 1966 Jess Nevins, 57. Author of the superlative Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victorian and the equally great Heroes & Monsters: The Unofficial Companion to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen which is far better than the film ever could be. He’s also written the Fable Encyclopedia which is a most excellent look at Willingham series. I didn’t know he also wrote fiction ‘til now but he has two genre novels, The Road to Prester John and The Datong Incident
  • Born July 30, 1975 Cherie Priest, 48. Her Southern gothic Eden Moore series is kickass good and Clockwork Universe series is a refreshing take on steampunk which has been turned into full cast audiobooks by GraphicAudio. I’ve not read the Cheshire Red Reports novels so have no idea how good they are. Anyone read these?  She won an Endeavour Award for her Dreadnought novel.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) HOW MANY STEPS TO MORDOR? Literary Hub invites you to “Read W. H. Auden’s 1954 review of The Fellowship of the Ring”. He liked it! I was particularly interested in this measure of praise:

… The first thing that one asks is that the adventure should be various and exciting; in this respect Mr. Tolkien’s invention is unflagging, and, on the primitive level of wanting to know what happens next, The Fellowship of the Ring is at least as good as The Thirty-Nine Steps….

He refers to John Buchan’s 1915 “shocker”, beloved by readers of popular fiction a century ago. Their experience can’t really be recovered by reading the book now (or even several decades ago when I looked it up due to its reputation.) However, Auden’s comparison was a ringing endorsement in 1954.

(12) ANIME EXPLORATIONS. The new episode of the Anime Explorations Podcast is up – covering the conclusion of this year’s Summer of Jojo with the end of Stardust Crusaders. Episode 10 “JoJo Part 3 – Stardust Crusaders (Battle in Egypt Arc)”.

(13) T. HEE? “The Twilight Zone Needed A Favor From A Disney Great To Make The Dummy Work” at Slashfilm.

…Rod Serling and his crew didn’t have anyone on staff that could handle that, so they ended up recruiting for an unlikely source: Walt Disney Animation. 

As the story goes (at least according to 1992’s “The Twilight Zone Companion” written by Marc Scott Zicree), “Twilight Zone” makeup effects artist, William Tuttle was hard up for ways to pull off the effect in a way that would please Serling, who was determined that the gag only works if the audience can recognize Robertson in the dummy at the end. It still had to look like a real ventriloquist’s dummy, but have enough of the actor’s features so nobody walked away from the episode confused…

The rest of the story is at the link.

(14) BERLITZKRIEG. Very clever.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Epic Spaceman helps us visualize our home galaxy:“The scale of The Milky Way – why is the galaxy bigger than we think?”

I love the Milky Way, this crazy, giant whirlpool of stars that’s our home. And I remember being blown away learning that the cloudy line in the sky was something we’re actually inside, something that really confused me at first. So this video is really my attempt to bring a little more appreciation and clarity to our oasis in the Universe. Making it has really helped me get to grips with some of the scale of things and I might well do another shorter video showing the size and location of some other things in the Milky Way on the ‘US’ scale. I also tried to address that existential dread that can creep in when getting to grips with the scale of things like this. To paraphrase Douglas Adams, our galaxy makes a long walk down to the chemist’s look like peanuts so I’ve tried to temper that with a quick reminder of the scale of the really small stuff. I do personally like to remind myself that I’m actually huge when the cosmos gets a little too big for its boots and starts melting my brain.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Lise Andreasen, Rich Lynch, Daniel Dern, Jennifer Hawthorne, Tom Boswell, Alexander Case, Cat Eldridge, 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 brnkn117.]

2022 Lambda Literary Awards Finalists

The shortlists for the 2022 Lambda Literary Awards were announced March 15. Finalists in 24 categories were selected by a panel of over 60 literary professionals from more than 2,300 book submissions. The winners will be revealed in a virtual ceremony on June 11.

The works in the sff category are listed below. The complete roster of finalists is here.

LGBTQ SPECULATIVE FICTION

  • A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine, Tor Books
  • Breeder by Honni van Rijswijk, Blackstone Publishing
  • No Gods, No Monsters by Cadwell Turnbull, Blackstone Publishing
  • Phototaxis by Olivia Tapiero, translated by Kit Schluter, Nightboat Books
  • The Tensorate Series by Neon Yang,  Tordotcom Publishing

Pixel Scroll 12/8/21 I’m Shocked To Find Scrolling Going On In Here

(1) IF YOU CAN MAKE IT THERE. In the New York Times, Amal El-Mohtar names “The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of 2021”. Here’s one of her picks:

In the gray fog of an uncertain year, these books stand out in bright colors and floods of intense feeling. They’re organized only by the order in which I read them….

No Gods, No Monsters

By Cadwell Turnbull (Blackstone, 387 pp., $26.99)

Intimate and intricate, full of charismatic monsters and the dueling secret societies to which they belong. A pack of werewolves transform on camera, prompting hidden powers to rally for or against revealing the supernatural world of gods and monsters to the public. Mysteriously narrated and utterly riveting.

 (2) EXCEED YOUR GRASP. At Futurism, Matthew Angelo tells readers “Why Science Fiction Matters in Literature”.

… Science fiction typically deals with the impact of imagined future science and technology on society. Sci-Fi is an important genre in literature. It teaches us about contemporary ideas, inspires new technological inventions, and entertains us by telling stories that could not have happened otherwise….

Science Fiction is one of the biggest, most influential genres in literature. It taps into human dreams and nightmares about what might be, what could happen to us, and how we might deal with it. It makes up many of our fictional worlds, futures, and inhabitants. Science Fiction stories can be wildly different in content. Still, they all have a similar feeling of being exciting possibilities just out of reach. Science fiction is often thought to be just about aliens and robots. Still, it can also have a lot to do with social commentary….

(3) SPINNING BLADES. Foz Meadows tweeted two threads commenting on the social media heat directed at Neon Yang after Yang, who criticized Isabel Fall’s “Helicopter Story” when it appeared in January 2020, recently promoted the appearance of their own queer mech story in a forthcoming anthology. Thread starts here.

A second short thread starts here.

Suzanne F. Boswell advances a case that Neon Yang’s tweets in 2020 did not cause the outcome for which critics now want to hold them accountable. Thread starts here.

R. B. Lemberg warns about the damage from these exchanges. Thread starts here.

(4) HIS FAVORITE MARTIAN. Congratulations to Jonathan Eller, whose Bradbury Beyond Apollo has been named one of the Choice Outstanding Academic Titles for 2021. The list is quite selective: it contains approximately ten percent of some 6,000 works reviewed in Choice each year.

(5) AS VIEWED FROM ABOVE. Rob Hansen has created “a small extra” for those who read Bixelstrasse, his compilation of early LASFS history (see “Revisit ‘Fighting Forties’ LASFS in Rob Hansen’s Bixelstrasse”) – it’s an annotated Map of 1940s LA Fandom.

(6) A BARKING GOOD CLIMAX. Camestros Felapton announces “Debarkle Volume 3 Now Available”. It is the end, my friend, and the price is right – free! A list of vendors is at the link.

The third and final volume of Debarkle is now available from a wide range of online book stores and by “wide range” I mean “not Amazon”. As with the rest of this series, it’s been published via Draft2Digital and you can access it in these online book shops. Note: this is the “second draft” version with fewer typos than the blog version. A third draft version will be available as a collected edition of all three volumes before the end of the year.

(7) DOWN TO THE WIRE. Starburst Magazine’s Ed Fortune covers 2023 Site Selection here: “China Races Canada For Prestigious SciFi Con”.

… Worldcons are a long-running international Science Fiction convention that tends to be hosted in North America or Europe, and the next venue is determined two years ahead of time.

Recent years have seen the convention come to other parts of the world, such as Japan and New Zealand. Chinese fans have been actively seeking to bring the world-renowned event to Chengdu, China since 2014….

(8) 2023 WORLDCON BID Q&A. Video of last weekend’s bidder Q&A session at Smofcon Europe has now been posted.

Representatives of the 2023 Worldcon bids for Chengdu and Winnipeg present and answer questions. Terry Fong, Tony Xia, Tina Wang, Tammy Coxen (m)

(9) BACK ON HIS FEET. Nicholas Whyte reports on his recovery from Covid after spending the end of November and part of December sick in bed: “630 days of plague, and COVID 20 days on” in his Livejournal.

(10) THE CULTURE. Christopher Fowler, known to fans for his sff, discusses what makes English novels “English” at CrimeReads: “The Curse of Englishness: Why Every British Thriller Is Also a Black Comedy”.

…I first became aware of the curse when I heard the teacups. To be precise, their endless tinkling.

Whenever I listened to an English radio play as a child the sound effects included a spoon endlessly circling bone china. English characters were always going out and coming in, but mostly they stayed inside and drank tea, even in the grisliest true-life murder dramatizations. Our plots unfolded in small rooms. It’s an English thing; neat little houses, inclement weather. Agatha Christie was particularly obsessed with egress. ‘It was a fine old library with the only other door leading out to the pristine tennis courts.’ And as we tended not to point guns at each other, our fictional killers generally dismissed firearms in favour of doctored pots of chutney, electrified bathtubs and poisoned trifles. They escaped without leaving footprints and relocked doors with the aid of string….

(11) TODAY’S DAY.

I am reliably informed by John King Tarpinian that this is how I should have spent my day.

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1966[Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fifty five years ago, Star Trek’s “The Conscience of a King” first aired on NBC. The title comes from the concluding lines of Act II of Hamlet: “The play’s the thing / Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.” Barry Trivers wrote the script. Memory Alpha notes that he also wrote the never made “A Portrait in Black and White” episode based on a story premise by Roddenberry in his original series proposal for Star Trek

The primary guest cast here was Arnold Moss as Anton Karidian / Kodos and Barbara Anderson as Lenore Karidian. Other than a later Time Tunnel appearence, his only genre role. She played Mimi Davis in a recurring role on Mission: Impossible

Reception for it is generally very good though Keith DeCandido at Tor.com kvetches about how he’s identified as the war criminal. (Keith, it’s not your your modern CSI.) Later Trek writer Ronald D. Moore considers it one of the best Trek episodes ever done. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 8, 1861 Georges Méliès. Best known as a film director for A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune) which he said was influenced by sources including Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon. (Died 1938.)
  • Born December 8, 1894 E. C. Segar. Best known as the creator of Popeye, who first appeared in 1929 in Segar’s comic strip Thimble Theatre. Popeye’s first line in the strip, upon being asked if he was a sailor, was “Ja think I’m a cowboy?” J. Wellington Wimpy was another character in this strip that I’m fond of. (Died 1938.)
  • Born December 8, 1894 James Thurber. He’s written a number of fantasies, The 13 ClocksThe White Deer and The Wonderful O, definitely none of which children should be reading. You’ve no doubt seen The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with Danny Kaye which bears little resemblance to the original short story. It would be made into a second film, just eight years ago, again not resembling the source material. (Died 1961.)
  • Born December 8, 1950 Rick Baker, 71. Baker won the Academy Award for Best Makeup a record seven times from a record eleven nominations, beginning when he won the first award given for An American Werewolf in London.  So what else is he know for? Oh, I’m not listing everything but his first was The Thing with Two Heads and I’ll single out The ExorcistStar WarsThe Howling which I quite love, Starman for the Starman transformation, the Beast design on the Beauty and the Beast series and the first Hellboy film version.
  • Born December 8, 1951 Brian Attebery, 70. If I was putting together a library of reference works right now, Attebery would be high on the list of authors at the center of my shopping list. I think The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature: From Irving to Le Guin is still essential reading and Parabolas of Science Fiction with Veronica Hollinger is very close to a Grand Unification Theory of the Genre. He won a World Fantasy Award for his editing of Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, and a Mythopoetic Scholarship Award for Stories about Stories: Fantasy & the Remaking of Myth.
  • Born December 8, 1954 Rebecca Neason. She wrote a Next Generation novel, Guises of The Mind,  plus several Highlander novels, and two fantasy novels; her widower says one novel went unpublished. She was a regular panelist at conventions in the Pacific Northwest. Jim Fiscus has a remembrance here.  (Died 2010.)
  • Born December 8, 1954 John Silbersack, 67. With Victoria Schochet, he edited the first four volumes of the Berkley Showcase: New Writings in Science Fiction and Fantasy anthology series. Seasonally appropriate, he edited with Chris Schelling, The Magic of Christmas: Holiday Stories of Fantasy and Science Fiction. He’s written a Buck Rogers novel, Rogers’ Rangers, off a treatment by Niven and Pournelle. 
  • Born December 8, 1967 Laura J. Mixon, 64. She won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer at Sasquan for her writing about the abhorrent online activities of Benjanun Sriduangkaew. She has written a number of excellent novels including Glass Houses and Up Against It which got an Otherwise nomination. She is married to SF writer Steven Gould, with whom she co-wrote the novel Greenwar.

(14) GEORGE PÉREZ MEDICAL UPDATE. George Pérez, known for his work on DC’s The New Teen TitansCrisis on Infinite Earths and Wonder Woman, Marvel titles like Infinity Gauntlet and The Avengers, and with Kurt Busiek on the landmark Marvel/DC crossover JLA/Avengers (aka Avengers/JLA), announced on Facebook that he has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.  

To all my fans, friends and extended family,

It’s rather hard to believe that it’s been almost three years since I formally announced my retirement from producing comics due to my failing vision and other infirmities brought on primarily by my diabetes. At the time I was flattered and humbled by the number of tributes and testimonials given me by my fans and peers. The kind words spoken on those occasions were so heartwarming that I used to quip that “the only thing missing from those events was me lying in a box.”

It was amusing at the time, I thought.

Now, not so much. On November 29th I received confirmation that, after undergoing surgery for a blockage in my liver, I have Stage 3 Pancreatic Cancer. It is surgically inoperable and my estimated life expectancy is between 6 months to a year. I have been given the option of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, but after weighing all the variables and assessing just how much of my remaining days would be eaten up by doctor visits, treatments, hospital stays and dealing with the often stressful and frustrating bureaucracy of the medical system, I’ve opted to just let nature take its course and I will enjoy whatever time I have left as fully as possible with my beautiful wife of over 40 years, my family, friends and my fans.

Since I received my diagnosis and prognosis, those in my inner circle have given me so much love, support and help, both practical and emotional. They’ve given me peace.

There will be some business matters to take care of before I go. I am already arranging with my art agent to refund the money paid for sketches that I can no longer finish. And, since, despite only having one working eye, I can still sign my name, I hope to coordinate one last mass book signing to help make my passing a bit easier. I also hope that I will be able to make one last public appearance wherein I can be photographed with as many of my fans as possible, with the proviso that I get to hug each and every one of them. I just want to be able to say goodbye with smiles as well as tears…

(15) SEPTEMBER SONG ENCORE. BasedCon will ride again in September 2022, says chair Rob Kroese. The inaugural event he created to appeal to the “sci-fi writer or fan who is sick of woke politics” (see “BasedCon Planning for Dozens of Attendees”) actually drew 70.

(16) THE ROARING TWENTIES. The New York Times applauds this fashion statement: “Just in Time for Christmas: Knitwear Fit for a T. Rex”.

Behold the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex — all swaddled in a cozy Christmas sweater.

The replica T. rex at the Natural History Museum in London is an enormous, ferocious-looking beast that was built to scale, standing about 60 percent the size of the 40-foot-long prehistoric creature.

The animatronic attraction, which features roaring sound effects, often startles visitors, but on Monday, the predatory edge was somewhat softened when visitors found the T. rex bedecked in a giant blue, red and green holiday sweater, replete with cheerful Christmas trees and snowflakes….

(17) A BIRD IN FLIGHT. The European launch of the book The Space Cuckoo and Other Stories by Arvind Mishra will take place online, on December 13 at 6.00 p.m. Romanian Local Time, on Discord, at the international meeting of Syndicate 9 Science Fiction club from Timisoara, Romania. The guest of the meeting is the author, and the moderator, Darius Hupov.

To participate at the online meeting, please click the invitation link for the Syndicate 9 Discord server:
https://discord.gg/rs2YUAwP. The meeting will take place at the “Intalnirea S9” voice channel.

(18) I’M NOT SAYING IT’S ALIENS… [Item by Dann.] China’s Yutu-2 lunar rover has found something interesting on the moon.  The rover is going to spend the next couple of months trundling over to get a closer look. “China’s Yutu 2 rover spots cube-shaped ‘mystery hut’ on far side of the moon” at Space.com.

China’s Yutu 2 rover has spotted a mystery object on the horizon while working its way across Von Kármán crater on the far side of the moon.

Yutu 2 spotted a cube-shaped object on the horizon to the north and roughly 260 feet (80 meters) away in November during the mission’s 36th lunar day, according to a Yutu 2 diary published by Our Space, a Chinese language science outreach channel affiliated with the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

Our Space referred to the object as a “mystery hut” but this [is] a placeholder name rather than an accurate description….

…but it’s aliens. Or the Transformers lunar base.

(19) GRESHAM’S LAW. Guillermo del Toro, director of Nightmare Alley, appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Guillermo talks about his new movie…,, his attention to detail, his drawing notebook, his mother being a little bit of a “witch,” learning about tarot cards, getting married, shooting around the pandemic, Rooney Mara being secretly pregnant during it, buying and selling things on eBay, and he quizzes Jimmy about 1930s slang.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “In Honest Trailers:  Let There Be Carnage,” the Screen Junkies say ,” If you’re making a film about a squirelly guy who talks to himself, you get Gollum (Andy Serkis) to direct it.”  Under Serkis’s direction, the film features “bad CGI goo,” “bad wigs,” “British actors doing really bad American accents,” and a mysterious reference to Beverly Hills Cop 2!

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chris Barkley, Darius Hupov, Dann, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

Pixel Scroll 7/15/21 This Pixel Will Self-Destruct In Five Parsecs

(1) SUMMER READING. In “Meet the Authors of Summer’s Biggest Sci-Fi and Fantasy Adventures” Goodreads features Q&As with Shelley Parker-Chan, Nghi Vo, Matt Bell, Tasha Suri, Becky Chambers, Cassandra Khaw, T.J. Klune, and Cadwell Turnbull.

Cadwell Turnbull, author of No Gods, No Monsters

GR: What was the most challenging part of writing this book?

CT:  Balancing all the narrative elements. I’m very interested in narratives where individuals and groups of people converge around significant events for very different reasons. I wanted the novel to honor individual and collective action where each person is important. That was hard to do. The other challenge was the cosmology underpinning the story, which requires a few conceptual leaps to make sense. I didn’t want to do too much too fast and undercut the emotional weight of those leaps. I also didn’t want to undermine the very real and very important personal conflicts of the characters with god-level madness. Add to that my love of subtlety and subtext and the writing process became a tug-of-war between all these disparate goals. But I did my very best. Luckily I have two more books in the series to tease out every layer.

(2) BARBARA NEELY REMEMBERED. Mystery Writers of America has established the Barbara Neely Scholarship in honor of the late author, a trailblazing Black crime novelist who was named a Grand Master by MWA in late 2019. “She was named a Grand Master not only for the high quality of the work she produced during her career, but also for being an inspiration to an entire generation of crime writers of color.”

Two scholarships of $2000 each per year will be awarded: “One for an aspiring Black writer who has yet to publish in the crime or mystery field, and another for Black authors who have already published in crime or mystery.”

Applications are being taken from July 1 through September 30. The applications will be reviewed by the Barbara Neely Scholarship committee, including Black crime writers, and the winner will be announced in the late fall. The application form is here

Applicants must be Black, American citizens, and age 18 or older. They must submit a brief biography, competed application form, and 300-500-word statement on their interest in the mystery genre and in general terms (class, conference, equipment, etc.) how they would use the scholarship funds. Prior membership in MWA is not required.

The Barbara Neely Scholarship will be awarded on the basis of writing ability, interest in the crime/mystery genre, and likely benefit from the scholarship funds and MWA membership. 

(3) JUICY IS BETTER. There’s a Kickstarter to fund Juicy Ghosts by Rudy Rucker, the author’s twenty-fourth novel. People have contributed $5,302 of its $7,000 goal with 27 days to go. Rucker tells how the project began:

 Juicy Ghosts is about politics, telepathy, and immortality. I started it in 2019, as a reaction to Donald Trump’s repeated remarks that he planned to be a three-term president. That pushed me over the edge.

I started with a short story called “Juicy Ghosts.” Rebels bring down an insane, evil President who’s stolen an election. They sting him with a lethally tweaked wasp, erase the online backup of his mind, and explode his clone. Too much? It’s hard to stop, when you’re having this much fun! Over the next two years, my story grew into a novel. I had to write it. I had to stand and be counted.

So, yes, Juicy Ghosts is a tale of political struggle—but it’s more than that. It’s hip and literary, with romance and tragedy. Plus gnarly science, and lots of funny scenes. I used a loose, say-anything style. The point-of-view characters are outsiders and slackers. The majority of them are women, and they give the tale a grounded tone.

We’ll see commercial telepathy, or teep, before long. And we’ll want a channel that’s richer than text and images. Users might transmit templates for the neurochemicals that are affecting their current mood. Your friends feel your pheromones! In Juicy Ghosts, people do this with gossip molecules, which are nano-assemblers  with tiny antennas.

I’ve been writing about digital immortality since my early cyberpunk novel Software. The idea is to represent a soul by a digital program and a data-base, calling the construct a lifebox. But in Juicy Ghosts  a lifebox needs to be linked to a physical body.  It’s not enough to be a ghost—you want to be a juicy ghost. The linked body might be an insect or an animal or a biotweaked bot—but high-end users will have tank-grown clones.

Lifeboxes and clones will be expensive, so most people will settle for free lifebox storage provided by tech giants. The catch is that if you accept this free service, you’re obligated to do gig-work for the company—as a bodyguard, a chauffeur, a maid, of a factory worker. Typical of our times!

I like happy endings. I’d rather laugh than cry.  My characters destroy the evil President’s political party, topple the pay-to-play immortality racket, and provide everyone with free lifeboxes and physical bodies. Ta-da!

(4) LET IT GO. Lightspeed Magazine shines its “Author Spotlight” on Rachel Swirsky whose story “Innocent Bird” is in the magazine’s July issue.

[Swirsky:] … I actually initially went into submission with a version of this that was 1,000 words shorter. After getting a couple of very kind rejections, I let it lie for a while, and the next time I looked at it, I felt like the story had a reserved quality to it that didn’t seem appropriate. My graduate training—along with a lot of other aspects of contemporary aesthetics—strongly veers toward keeping emotions subtextual in this very discreet fashion. I went back into the story to let the heartbreak go straight onto the page. Shoko is a teenager; she’s full of these big emotions. She doesn’t express them to other people which only means she’s constantly inflated with love and distress and confusion and uncertainty about her future that she has no escape valve from. I think she tries to distance herself from that internally to some extent—there are moments when she underplays what she’s feeling—but she shouldn’t be written like a middle-aged literary professor wrestling with a midlife crisis….

(5) ROBOCREATORS. “Automated art: threat or menace?” asks James Davis Nicoll. SFF authors’ answer the question in these “Five SF Stories About Automated Art” at Tor.com.

“The Darfsteller” by Walter M. Miller (1955)

Thanks to advances in the field of robotic acting, Ryan Thornier, former star, is now Ryan Thornier, underpaid theatre janitor. True, there are many occupations not yet automated to which the old man could apply his thespian talents—salesman, politician, general—but these are beneath the former star. Only stage acting will do. But his desire to shine onstage cannot erase the fact that robotic mannikins programmed with recorded personality matrices deliver the same services as living actors, but are much cheaper and more reliable.

Ryan is very stubborn. Given even the smallest hope of reclaiming his lost place on stage, he will leap to take advantage of the opportunity…regardless of consequences.

(6) PERFORMATIVE REFORM. Radio Times, not surprisingly given their heavy coverage of The Doctor, favors the Doctor/Missy/Master arcs in this analysis: “What Loki got wrong – and Doctor Who got right”.

… A few times over the course of Loki, viewers had compared it to Doctor Who, mainly because of its general time-travel premise (what are the officious TVA except Time Lords with a dental plan?) and especially after episode three saw Loki and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) trapped on a dying world. In fact, many commented that Loki did ‘Doctor Who’ better than Doctor Who itself, thanks to a higher budget and bigger stars. (Though did Loki have a sonic screwdriver? I think not. Case closed.)

And I actually think Loki could learn something from Doctor Who, more specifically, from a storyline that saw an iconic villain try to change their ways with mixed success….

(7) CLEAR CHANNEL. Here’s a post about the new book its author was trying to draw attention to in that sabotaged Reddit AMA: “The Big Idea: Nicole Kornher-Stace” at Whatever.

NICOLE KORNHER-STACE:

Since approximately five minutes after I started publishing, my mom has been telling me I should write a kids’ book. For a while I was…skeptical. Many of the kind things people have said about my work involve it being dark but ultimately hopeful but before that just. so dark. And many of my rejections have been for being “too dark.” None of which really felt super compatible with, y’know, a children’s book.

It’s not that I thought it was a bad idea, it just felt like an idea that was beyond my skillset or ability to even really conceptualize. So on the back burner it sat for a long time, along with a whole bunch of other stuff I’d talked myself out of writing for various reasons. (Thanks, impostor syndrome. You’re the best.)

And then I had a baby. And then my baby grew up into a kid. And just like that I had an audience to write a kids’ book for. And everything kind of came together from there….

(8) DISABLED PARTICIPANTS SOUGHT. Mission: AstroAccess has put out “A Call For Disabled Explorers to Experience Zero Gravity.” Any disabled adult living in the U.S. can apply – see full guidelines and view the application here. The deadline to apply is August 15.

Outer space is not just humanity’s future: it’s a call to rethink life on Earth right now.

In zero gravity, what is standing up? What is lying down? What does it mean to be unable to walk if no one there is walking? How does that shift our understanding of disability?

We are excited to announce the launch of Mission: AstroAccess, a program bringing a diverse group of disabled space enthusiasts on a historic ZERO-G parabolic flight! Participants will complete targeted tasks during the program’s flight to help answer basic questions about how disabled people can live and work in outer space. Mission: AstroAccess’ crew of disabled volunteers will take flight on October 17th, 2021, as the first step in a progression towards increasing diversity in space and the greater STEM field. 

…Mission: AstroAccess serves an additional purpose—while traditional physical barriers are lifted in space, accidents resulting in some form of disability are inevitable during extended missions in space’s dangerous environment. We are dedicated to advancing disability inclusion in space exploration, not just for the benefit of marginalized communities, but for the benefit of all humankind. The tasks conducted during this program will help inform accessible design to make extended space travel safer for everyone.

(9) A GENRE SUCCESS STORY. “Print Book Sales Soar in Year’s First Half”Publishers Weekly ran the numbers, which show graphic novel sales blew up.

…The big story in adult fiction was the strength of the graphic novel format. Unit sales soared 178.5% in the first half of the year, rising to 16.2 million copies sold, making graphic novels the second-largest adult fiction subcategory. Graphic novels made up nearly 20% of adult fiction unit sales in the first six months of 2021, compared to 9.3% last year.

Viz Media was one of the big beneficiaries of the graphic novel boom. Kohei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia, Vol. 26 was the top adult graphic novel in the first half of the year, selling more than 90,000 copies. Other volumes in the Academia line also sold well, including volume two (about 82,000 copies sold) and volume one (81,000 copies). Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Taiba, Vol. 1 by Koyoharu Gotouge, also published by Viz, sold more than 82,000 copies. A title published by a company other than Viz, Attack on Titan, Vol. 1 by Hajime Isayama, published by Kodansha, sold nearly 88,000 copies….

(10) SID ALTUS (1949-2021). Detroit fan Sid Altus died July 13, his daughter Shana announced on Facebook. Sid was a member of the Detroit in ’82 Worldcon bid. He worked on AutoClave and ConFusion. He and Alex Berman co-founded a small press, Phantasia Press, which published high-end limited editions of hardcover sf aimed at the collectors’ market. Fancyclopedia 3 has more about his history.

(11) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1997 – Twenty-four years ago this week, the Roar series premiered on Fox. It would last but thirteen episodes, five of which initially would go unaired. This sort of Celtic fantasy had Heath Ledger in the lead role, his first genre undertaking. The series also starred Vera Farmiga, Lisa Zane, John Saint Ryan, and Sebastian Roché. The show was created by Shaun Cassidy after the success of of  Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess but it truly bombed. It certainly didn’t help that the series was in the same time slot as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Two novels, Roar: A Novel, a prequel, and Roar: The Cauldron, would later be written.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 15, 1931 Clive Cussler. Pulp author with definite genre leanings. If I had to pick his best novels, I’d say that would be Night Probe and Raise the Titantic, possibly also Vixen 03. His National Underwater and Marine Agency, a private maritime archaeological group, has found several important wrecks including the Manassas, the first ironclad of the Civil War. (Died 2020.)
  • Born July 15, 1944 Jan-Michael Vincent. First Lieutenant Jake Tanner in the film version of Roger Zelazny’s Damnation Alley. Is it worth seeing? Commander in Alienator and Dr. Ron Shepherd in, and yes, this is the name, Xtro II: The Second Encounter. Not to mention Zepp in Jurassic Women.  As Airwolf counts as genre, he was helicopter pilot and aviator Stringfellow Hawke in it. (Died 2019.)
  • Born July 15, 1947 T. E. D. Klein, 74. Horror writer with two awards to his name, one a BFA for The Ceremonies novel, another a World Fantasy Award for his “Nadelman’s God” novella. He was editor of the Twilight Zone Magazine in the mid Eighties and the Night Cry zine for several around that time.
  • Born July 15, 1957 Forest Whitaker, 64. His best known genre roles are Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as Saw Gerrera and in The Black Panther as Zuri. He’s had other genre appearances including Major Collins in Body Snatchers, Nate Pope in Phenomenon, Ker in Battlefield Earth for which he was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor, Ira in Where the Wild Things Are, Jake Freivald In Repo Men (anyone see this?) and he was Host of Twilight Zone.
  • Born July 15, 1963 Brigitte Nielsen, 58. Red Sonja! What’d a way to launch your film career. Mind you her next genre roles were 976-Evil II and Galaxis… Oh well… She starred as the Black Witch in the Nineties Italian film series Fantaghiro, and played the Amazon Queen in the Danish Ronal the Barbarian
  • Born July 15, 1967 Christopher Golden, 54. Where to start? The Veil trilogy was most excellent as was The Hidden Cities series co-authored with Tim Lebbon. The Menagerie series co-authored with Thomas E. Sniegoski annoyed me because it never got concluded. Straight On ‘Til Morning is one damn scary novel. His short stories are most excellent thus it’s most fitting his recent The Twisted Book of Shadows collection won a Shirley Jackson Award. 
  • Born July 15, 1951 Jesse Ventura, 70. He’s actually been in far more genre films that I thought. His first film was Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe which audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give a rating of nineteen percent. After that, he’s been in PredatorRunning ManDemolition Man and Batman & Robin

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side has a strange Martian/Wizard of Oz mashup. At least that’s what I think it is.
  • Frank and Ernest meet some innovative cave people.

(14) HIS CUP RUNNETH OVER. At Black Gate, Aaron Starr’s “Long and Winding” is the amusing saga about writing a doorstop-sized novel.

January 12th

Dear Diary,
After Justine’s third encounter with the forces pursuing her, I realized that what this sword-and-sorcery novel needs is some more swords! But Justine has given no hint of any sort of background with weapons. I’ll need to introduce a wise mentor, to teach her the ways of cold steel. Someone grizzled and worldly, cynical and a touch sarcastic.

That’s it! Dear diary, you’re a genius! Her mentor will be her spirit animal! This will kill two birds with one stone, which, I might point out, rules out a bird as her spirit animal, doesn’t it? Tee-hee! Seriously, what sort of animal embodies these qualities? A raccoon springs to mind. They seem sufficiently grizzled and worldly, and are no doubt cynical. But might I be playing into harmful stereotypes? I’ll have to think about that some more.

Later: I have visited the cafe next door, to allow myself a fresh perspective. As I drank a fortifying mug of pressed-almond choco-caf with double-frothed soy, I struck up a conversation with a man who just happens to be a city planner. He confirmed my instincts regarding raccoon-kind, and assured me that, if any urban mammals were to take up arms, they would certainly be among the first to do so….

(15) REINCARNATED IN FANTASYLAND. The tropes come thick and fast in Petréa Mitchell’s “Anime roundup 7/15/2021: Work in Progress” at Amazing Stories.

In this week’s viewing: More summer premieres! More terrible light-novel-based summer premieres! Also a couple of fighting shows….

(16) YOU NEED LITTLE TEENY EYES. The Criterion Collection will bring out The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) on October 19.

…Existentialism goes pop in this benchmark of atomic-age science fiction, a superlative adaptation of a novel by the legendary Richard Matheson that has awed and unnerved generations of viewers with the question, What is humanity’s place amid the infinity of the universe? Six months after being exposed to a mysterious radiation cloud, suburban everyman Scott Carey (Grant Williams) finds himself becoming smaller . . . and smaller . . . and smaller—until he’s left to fend for himself in a world in which ordinary cats, mousetraps, and spiders pose a mortal threat, all while grappling with a diminishing sense of himself…. 

(17) CONSISTENCY. Nothing hits the spot in Schmigadoon like a big bowl of good old corn pudding! Here’s another introductory clip from the forthcoming musical series. Available tomorrow on AppleTV+. View on YouTube. (The stinkers won’t let it be embedded here!)

The six-part series follows a couple (Strong, Key) who stumble on a magical town that lives in a 1940s musical. From there, the pair have to try and find true love.

(18) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter found another show in touch with Broadway – tonight’s episode of Jeopardy. A contestant had trouble with this. Though they really shouldn’t have.

Category: Broadway Musicals by Setting

Answer: Mushnik’s Skid Row Florists

Wrong question: What is ‘The Little Barber Shop of Horrors?”

Right question: What is ‘Little Shop of Horrors?”

(19) DICK GRAYSON & CO. Titans Season 3 begins airing on HBO Max on August 12.

Titans follows young heroes from across the DC Universe as they come of age and find where they belong. In season three, circumstances draw our heroes to Gotham City, where they will reunite with old friends and face new threats.

(20) BLINDED BY THE LIGHT. Experience the world in Vampire Reality. What We Do in the Shadows returns Sept 2 on FX.

A look into the daily (or rather, nightly) lives of four vampires who have “lived” together for hundreds and hundreds of years in Staten Island.

(21) HOOKED UP. “Tapping Into the Brain to Help a Paralyzed Man Speak” reports The New York Times.

He has not been able to speak since 2003, when he was paralyzed at age 20 by a severe stroke after a terrible car crash.

Now, in a scientific milestone, researchers have tapped into the speech areas of his brain — allowing him to produce comprehensible words and sentences simply by trying to say them. When the man, known by his nickname, Pancho, tries to speak, electrodes implanted in his brain transmit signals to a computer that displays his intended words on the screen.

His first recognizable sentence, researchers said, was, “My family is outside.”

The achievement, published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, could eventually help many patients with conditions that steal their ability to talk.

“This is farther than we’ve ever imagined we could go,” said Melanie Fried-Oken, a professor of neurology and pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University, who was not involved in the project.

Three years ago, when Pancho, now 38, agreed to work with neuroscience researchers, they were unsure if his brain had even retained the mechanisms for speech.

“That part of his brain might have been dormant, and we just didn’t know if it would ever really wake up in order for him to speak again,” said Dr. Edward Chang, chairman of neurological surgery at University of California, San Francisco, who led the research.

The team implanted a rectangular sheet of 128 electrodes, designed to detect signals from speech-related sensory and motor processes linked to the mouth, lips, jaw, tongue and larynx. In 50 sessions over 81 weeks, they connected the implant to a computer by a cable attached to a port in Pancho’s head, and asked him to try to say words from a list of 50 common ones he helped suggest, including “hungry,” “music” and “computer.”…

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Stephen Colbert on Tuesday night’s The Late Show: “Welcome back to the cool green hills of Earth,” he said to Sir Richard Branson.

Sir Richard Branson sits down with Stephen after returning from his historic trip to the edge of space, and has some advice for the next billionaire headed to orbit.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/16/20 Hey! HAL! I’m Not Just Sitting Here On The Dock Of The Pod Door Bay For My Health! Open The $^%&$! Door, HAL!

(1) A TAIL OF SPACE. A new Star Trek: Discovery trailer. Complete with a certain feline. 

(2) PARIS CALLING. Halfway through the Constelación Magazine Kickstarter, they are announcing their second special event – “Translation Station” with Aliette de Bodard and Cristina Jurado. Takes place October 23 at 7 p.m. Paris time (10 a.m. Pacific / 1 p.m. Eastern)  Register here.

Our very own Cristina Jurado is hosting a chat with multi-award-winning author Aliette de Bodard. They’ll have a fascinating conversation about translations and languages, and whever else happens to come up.

To date the Kickstarter has raised $10,048 of their $18,000 goal.

(3) ONCE MORE INTO THE BREACH. In “Barnes & Noble Cyberattack” Locus Online signal boosts a warning to B&N customers:

Barnes & Noble CEO Darren Guccione warned customers to be “on high alert” following an October 10 data breach. The company notified customers via email.

While we do not know if any personal information was exposed as a result of the attack, we do retain in the impacted systems your billing and shipping addresses, your email address and your telephone number if you have supplied these… It is possible that your email address was exposed and, as a result, you may receive unsolicited emails… We currently have no evidence of the exposure of any of this data, but we cannot at this stage rule out the possibility….

(4) TOP 100 FANTASY LIST. TIME Magazine has anointed “The 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time”

… To develop our list, we began in 2019 by recruiting a panel of leading fantasy authors—Tomi Adeyemi, Cassandra Clare, Diana Gabaldon, Neil Gaiman, Marlon James, N.K. Jemisin, George R.R. Martin and Sabaa Tahir—to join TIME staff in nominating the top books of the genre (panelists did not nominate their own works). The group then rated 250 nominees on a scale, and using their responses, TIME created a ranking. Finally, TIME editors considered each finalist based on key factors, including originality, ambition, artistry, critical and popular reception, and influence on the fantasy genre and literature more broadly.

The result is a list that underscores the imaginative breadth of fantasy fiction—from early roots in the oral storytelling tradition that brought about works like The Arabian Nights, to modern classics like A Wrinkle in Time and groundbreaking recent novels like Black Leopard, Red WolfThe Poppy War and Elatsoe. Together, these titles help us trace our history and understand our reality….

I’ve read 24 of these, which is a disgraceful score – fortunately a few more of them are on my TBR pile.

Rich Horton regaled Facebook readers about the list’s deficiencies:

… Chew on that for a bit. This list doesn’t include Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. It doesn’t include Little, Big. I could make a case that those are the two BEST fantasies of the past half-century. But they don’t make this list?…

He also noted that a third of the listed books came out in the past 6 years. Is this a Golden Age of fantasy, or is that another problem?

TIME also ran an article by N.K. Jemisin about the “Timeless Power of Fantasy”

… These are fraught times—but there have always been fraught times for someone in the world, somewhere. And there have always been those whose mastery of the art of storytelling has helped us understand how powerfully stories shape the world. C.S. Lewis sought to comfort children with faith. Philip Pullman disturbed them with warnings of encroaching fascism. There is a preponderance of stories aimed at children on this list, possibly because we’re still openly hungry for stories in the years of our childhood, and thus the stories we absorb then have a lasting effect. Our hunger for stories doesn’t really change when we grow up, however; the need is still there, acknowledged or not—especially if the stories we’ve been given up to that point don’t accurately encapsulate reality. Thus it’s fitting that some of the most powerful storytellers on this list, such as Victor LaValle, engage with adult concerns like parenthood instead of myth.

Is it comforting to see how many of the stories on this list wrestle with the need to reform institutions and change the leadership of society? It could be. Yet the newer storytellers on the list, many of whom hail from colonized cultures and thus have vastly different background stories from those of “classic” fantasy authors, also warn us of the realities of societal strife. The good guys don’t always win, the bad guys don’t always lose, and either way, the ones who suffer most will be the people who were already struggling to get by….

(5) FORGOTTEN DOCTORS. Artist Paul Hanley posted his conceptions for the Doctor Who TARDIS console rooms of “forgotten doctors” or those seen briefly in the Fourth Doctor serial “The Brain of Morbius”. Thread starts here. The first two:

(6) POPULAR FEAR. “Little Bursts of Fright: The Horror Anthology Is Having a Heyday” reports the New York Times.

When Mary Laws set out to create “Monsterland,” her new socially conscious horror anthology series on Hulu, she drew inspiration from the concise, unnerving fables of the British playwright Caryl Churchill.

“She knows how to tell a scary story,” said Laws, who has a playwriting background. “She refuses to give the audience a break.”

But Laws also looked within.

“As a woman, part of why I’m interested in horror is that I’ve been put in horrific situations and have experienced something like real terror,” she said. “My womanness has led me into those action-packed two minutes of tense terror that you feel when you’re facing some kind of dreaded situation. That’s the way that I think horror has to work.”

Accelerated terror in a fleeting time frame: that’s the revved-up engine that drives “Monsterland” and other new horror anthologies out this spooky season. Hulu’s “Books of Blood” assembles three tales inspired by Clive Barker’s short stories. “The Mortuary Collection,” on Shudder, is a compilation of darkly antic narratives. Quibi’s blood-and-guts series “50 States of Fright” recently released several new episodes, each set in a different state.

Sam Raimi, an executive producer of “50 States of Fright,” said the best short-form horror is “designed like a great campfire tale.”

“It’s something you can really get goose bumps from in a brief amount of time,” said Raimi, known to horror fans as the director of the “Evil Dead” movies. “I like the precision that it takes for a filmmaker to hold the audience in its grip.”

(7) IMAGINARY PAPERS. ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination has published the 4th issue of Imaginary Papers, their quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination. The new issue features writing from SF critic Alvaro Zinos-Amaro and Katherine Buse, a scholar of digital media and the environmental humanities.

Buse’s Forgotten Futures segment discusses —

SimEarth (1990)

I like to say that my favorite video game is SimEarth (1990). But this is a joke: as far as I know, SimEarth has never been anyone’s favorite. Attempting to embody the paradox of “fun climate model,” it’s borderline unplayable: it’s baffling, slow, and lacking in what McKenzie Wark calls “satisfying win conditions.” It was created by Will Wright in consultation with James Lovelock as a software implementation of the Gaia Hypothesis, a theory of life at the planetary scale which Lovelock began to develop while working at NASA on astrobiology….

(8) NEUKOM WINNERS PANEL. Neukom Institute Director Dan Rockmore invites you to an “Online Event with 2020 Speculative Fiction Literary Arts Awards Winners” on Wednesday, October 21 at 2 p.m. Eastern.

The panel discussion includes Neukom Award winners for Speculative Fiction (Debut) Cadwell Turnbull, author of The Lesson, Speculative Fiction (Open Category) Ted Chiang, whose stories are collected in Exhalation, and award judge Sam J. Miller.

Use the link below to join the online event:
https://dartmouth.zoom.u/j/93780993554?pwd=am5xQU0xTURIYmVHenhhNm0zdUZYZz09

Passcode: 789407

(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

1990 — Thirty years ago at ConFiction, the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, would go to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Released the previous year by  Lucasfilm, it was, of course, directed by Steven Spielberg from a screenplay by Jeffrey Boam which in turn was based off the story by George Lucas and Menno Meyjes. Need we note that George Lucas created the characters? Runners-up were The Adventures of Baron MunchausenBatmanField of Dreams and The Abyss. It holds a rather spectacular ninety-four percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born October 16, 1924 David Armstrong. He never had a major role but he was in myriad gene shows. In The Man from U.N.C.L.E. alone he appeared in twenty-two episodes in twenty-two different minor roles, he was a henchman twice on Batman and had two uncredited appearances on Trek as well. He showed up on Mission ImpossibleGet Smart!The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. and even The Invaders. (Died 2016.) (CE) 
  • Born October 16, 1925 Dame Angela Brigid Lansbury, 95. She first shows up in a genre work as Sibyl Vane in The Picture of Dorian Gray. A few years later, she’s Queen Anne of France in The Three Musketeers. Somewhat later, she’s Miss Eglantine Price in Bedknobs and Broomsticks. She voices Mommy Fortuna in The Last Unicorn, and is Granny in A Company of Wolves which won the BSFA Award for Best Film and is based off Angela Carter’s A Company of Wolves. And yes, she’s in Mary Poppins Returns as The Balloon Lady. (CE) 
  • Born October 16, 1947 Guy Siner, 73. Apparently he’s one of only ten actors to appear in both the Trek and Who franchises. He appeared in the “Genesis of the Daleks”, a Fourth Doctor story, and on Enterprise in the “Silent Enemy” episode. Interestingly he shows up on Babylon 5 as well in “Rumors, Bargains and Lies”.  And that might place him in very select acting company indeed. (CE) 
  • Born October 16, 1958 Tim Robbins, 62. I think his finest role was as Nuke LaLoosh in Bull Durham, but his first genre role was Phil Blumburtt in Howard the Duck. He played Erik in Erik the Viking, and is in The Shawshank Redemption as Andy Dufresne. He’s Woodrow “Woody” Blake in Mission to Mars. He was Harlan Ogilvy in the truly awful War of the Worlds followed by being Senator Robert Hammond in the even worse Green Lantern. (CE)
  • Born October 16, 1965 Joseph Mallozzi, 55. He is most noted for his work on the Stargate series. He joined the Stargate production team at the start of Stargate SG-1’s fourth season in 2000. He was a writer and executive producer for all three Stargate series. He also co-created the Dark Matter comic book series with Paul Mullie that became a Syfy series. (CE)
  • Born October 16, 1973 Eva Röse, 47. Most likely best known for her role as the android Niska in Season 1 of the Swedish Real Humans upon which AMC’s Humans was based. She also was one of the voice cast for the animated Creepschool series, and was Jasmie on The Befallen, a supernatural series that lasted one season there. (CE) 
  • Born October 16, 1827 – Arnold Böcklin.  Symbolist painter.  Here is Self Portrait with Death Playing the Fiddle.  Here is Silence of the Forest.  Here is St. Anthony Preaching to the Fish.  Here is Faun Whistling to a Blackbird.  Most famous for five versions of The Isle of the Dead – here is one – which inspired Mahler, Rachmaninoff, and Zelazny: this Dean Ellis cover is an homage.  (Died 1901) [JH]
  • Born October 16, 1891 – Frances Comstock.  Illustrator, painter, sculptor.  Here is her cover for Dewey’s Star People.  Here is her frontispiece and an interior for Fairy Frolics.  Here is her cover for La Mothe – Fouqué’s Undine and here is an interior.  Here is an illustration for Crothers’ Ignominy of Being Grown-Up.  (Died 1922) [JH]
  • Born October 16, 1926 – Ed Valigursky.  Two hundred covers, six dozen interiors.  Here is the Nov 51 Fantastic.  Here is The Stars Are Ours!, hello Publius – note the really wonderful foreground faces.  Here is The Pawns of Null-A.  Here is City.  Here is The Currents of Space.  Here is an interior illustrating “The Black Tide”.  (Died 2009) [JH]
  • Born October 16, 1947 – Laura Brodian Kelly-Freas Beraha, D.M.E., 73.  Doctorate in Music Education (I heard her play piano two-hands with Somtow Sucharitkul), then San Francisco Bay area fandom.  Moved to L.A., exchanged coats by mistake with Kelly Freas at a party, married him, won a Chesley with him, survived him, married a local teacher whose name means blessed.  No one else outranks me as a Kelly Freas fan.  [JH]
  • Born October 16, 1951 – Patrice Kindl, 69.  Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, Children’s Fiction, for Owl in Love.  Six more novels.  She and husband (son works in Manhattan) have 1 dog, 1 parrot, 1 cat; have raised monkeys, have housed hawks.  “All my characters are made up….  This isn’t an easy profession….  Read a lot and write a lot.”  Do I have to wait until I’m grown up? “No.  You should be reading and writing now.”  Does spelling matter? “Yes.  Yes, yes, yes!”  Grammar isn’t important, is it? “YES!  YES!  YES!”  Hmmmm.  This sounds like work.  “Yes.”  [JH]
  • Born October 16, 1973 – Christian Cantrell, 47.  Three novels, half a dozen shorter stories, despite or because of being Director of Design Prototyping at Adobe.  Hulu, TriStar, Fox 21, Random House projects in the works. “You can,” he says, “plant paphiopedilums [Venus’ slippers] in lava rock”, and he shows us.  [JH]

(11) END OF THE LINE. If you have the stomach for it, you can learn a lot about “The Last Days of Stan Lee” on the AARP site. Tagline: “A heartbreaking tragedy about the (alleged) abuse of the Marvel Comics creator by those who swear they loved him.”

…As we approach the second anniversary of Lee’s death, a half-dozen civil suits are pending and a criminal elder-abuse prosecution by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office remains mired in pretrial maneuverings. The courts have yet to shed light on many of the details and the veracity of the elder-abuse charges against several people. Elder-abuse cases are difficult to bring to trial, tough to litigate and hard to win. Was Stan Lee, like 1 in 10 Americans over age 60, a true victim of elder abuse, which can include physical violence, emotional torment, financial exploitation and willful deprivation? Plenty of evidence and testimony suggests that may be true.

But uncomfortable questions will arise along the way: Is it possible that our real-life hero, like many others in his situation, was complicit in his own abuse? And who will be the villain in this story? There will be plenty of suspects to choose from, but in the end, you will be shocked but not surprised.

(12) CAMEO COLLECTION. Last night’s Jeopardy hearkened back to Stan’s brighter days – unknown to the contestants, evidently. Andrew Porter took notes:

Final Jeopardy: Movie Appearances

Not an actor, this man who died in 2018 appeared briefly in some 40 mainly action films with a combined $30 billion worldwide gross,

Wrong question: Who is ?

Correct question: Who is Stan Lee?

(13) THE TWENTIES ARE NOT ROARING. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Here are a few news stories about the pandemic woes of the British and global cinema industry, mostly from the Guardian

Months after the initial Covid-19 restrictions closed all cinemas, Australian moviegoers are beginning to return for socially distanced screenings across most of the country.

But with most major international releases delayed, the large chains that rely on blockbusters face an uncertain future. And for independent operators, more accustomed to showing reruns of classics and local titles, the outlook is not much clearer….

…But the immediate future for Bollywood in the UK now looks particularly bleak, given that Cineworld venues host more than half of all Bollywood screenings in the UK, presenting between 40 and 50 different films a year. The prospect of reduced takings in the UK is being felt in Mumbai, where the industry relies on the territory for a sizeable chunk of its overseas revenue.

…“But for me the really big success is the BFI restoration of La Haine,” said Wood. “We’ve played it now for four weeks and it’s sold out every single performance.” Bong Joon-ho’s Memories of Murder has also been hugely popular.

“Many of the successes have been foreign language, a number are directed by women, some directed by people of colour,” Wood said.

UK cinema admissions are set to hit their lowest level since records began almost a century ago, with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic wiping almost £1bn from box office sales.

…Do you need the same number of cinemas if they’re only showing blockbusters? For some time, many of them have been artificially sustained anyway, the real estate empty for much of the day. There’s also the problem that this is a sector that’s historically been very conservative and reluctant to innovate. I remember when there was a great controversy about the introduction of cup-holders.

…I love the cinema – it truly brings me joy. “Escapism” sells the experience short; I feel alive and engaged when lost in a narrative that is not my own. I used to see about three films a week, but I think I’ve seen about three films since March because watching them at home just doesn’t come close and I haven’t been back since the cinemas reopened as it doesn’t feel like the responsible thing to do. Covid is meant to spread best in an enclosed environment and I’d feel proper shit if I caught it and ended up giving it to my parents and they then died because I just had to see Tenet.

…One of my routes on my morning runs each week takes me past a small independent high-end movie theater, privately owned. It has a full restaurant, a beautiful bar, a space that can be rented for civic events, and six small theaters with extremely comfortable chairs.

In the Before times, as one reporter likes to call everything pre-Covid, the theater had a wait-staff that would take your orders while you sank into those seats to watch your favorite blockbuster. Every Democratic Presidential candidate held an event in that theater in the run-up to February’s caucus. Not a week went by when I didn’t see or get an invitation to a special event held there.

In March, when quarantine set in, the theater’s owners put up huge sheets of plywood over the display windows on all three stories of the building and made the lovely balcony inaccessible should someone get the bright idea to climb up there.

No one has painted the plywood, unlike so many other plywood coverings in the Arts District here. So the high-end theater now looks like an abandoned building. A group of homeless men slept against the plywood until someone moved them out. Occasionally, one of the totally stoned people from the high-end marijuana dispensary across the street will sit on a bench near the plywood, swaying to music only they can hear….

(14) BUTLER DID IT. Having seen the trailer, JJ calls Greenland “like a bad mashup of Deep Impact, Armagedddon, and 2012: We Were Warned.

A family fights for survival as a planet-killing comet races to Earth. John Garrity (Gerard Butler), his estranged wife Allison (Morena Baccarin), and young son Nathan make a perilous journey to their only hope for sanctuary. Amid terrifying news accounts of cities around the world being leveled by the comet’s fragments, the Garrity’s experience the best and worst in humanity while they battle the increasing panic and lawlessness surrounding them. As the countdown to global apocalypse approaches zero, their incredible trek culminates in a desperate and last-minute flight to a possible safe haven.

(15) DRAMATIC TRACKS. “Prehistoric footprints of woman carrying toddler while dodging sabre-toothed cats unearthed” – let Yahoo! News tell you the story.

Prehistoric footprints of a woman carrying a toddler while dodging sabre-toothed cats and giant sloths are the longest set of fossilised human prints ever found, scientists have said.  

The prints, which stretch for almost a mile and were discovered in the White Sands National Park in New Mexico, USA, date back 13,000 years.

…Locally known as “ghost tracks” because they can only be seen under certain weather conditions, the adult tracks were first discovered in 2017, followed by the child’s.

The prints tell the remarkable story of a woman and a small child as they made their way across the mudflats with large predators crossing their path.

An analysis found the woman was moving at a rapid pace, intermittently carrying and putting down the child.

On the outward journey, her prints show that she was slipping, suggesting conditions were wet and treacherous. But on her return, following the same path almost exactly, she was alone and no slipping marks were detected.

During the trips, other tracks show a giant sloth, mammoths and sabre-tooth cats crossed their path, and the sloth was startled by their scent.

“As the animal approached the trackway, it appears to have reared up on its hind legs to catch the scent, pausing by turning and trampling the human tracks before dropping to all fours and making off,” Prof Bennett said….

(16) HOT ON THE TRAILER. Amazon Prime introduces Invincible. The series will be online in 2021.

INVINCIBLE is an adult animated superhero series that revolves around 17-year-old Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun), who’s just like every other guy his age — except his father is the most powerful superhero on the planet, Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons). But as Mark develops powers of his own, he discovers his father’s legacy may not be as heroic as it seems.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Cora Buhlert, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John Hertz, Joey Eschrich, Ben Bird Person, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel “I Can Improve On The Classics” Dern.]

2020 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards

Dartmouth’s Neukom Institute announced the winners of the 2020 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards for speculative fiction on October 8.

2020 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Speculative Fiction (Debut)

2020 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Speculative Fiction (Open)

The book awards were judged by Nebula Award-winner Sam J. Miller,

Each award winner will receive a $5,000 honorarium that will be presented during a Dartmouth-hosted panel to discuss the genre and their work.

The Neukom Awards has also awarded special recognition to We Set the Dark on Fire, by Tehlor Kay Mejia (Katherine Tegen Books, 2019) in the debut category, and The Archive of Alternate Endings, by Lindsey Drager (Dzanc Books, 2019) in the open category.

Neukom 2020 winners Cadwell Turnbull (l) and Ted Chiang (r) are honored for works in speculative fiction. [Turnbull photo credit: Anju Manandhar and Ted Chiang photo credit: Alan Berner.]

The debut winner, The Lesson, by Cadwell Turnbull, tells the story of the tense relationship between residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands and aliens parked over the island group on a multiyear research mission. The book provides a spec-fic twist to the complexities of colonialism, and of interactions between people.

“Few science fiction storylines are more overused than tales of alien first contact and invasion, which makes Cadwell Turnbull’s achievement in The Lesson all the more astonishing,” said Miller. “He’s managed to make it fresh and alive and painfully relevant for a moment where our histories of colonization and exploitation are poised to teach us all some terrible lessons, and we should all be paying attention. It’s the kind of debut that makes me so excited for the future of speculative fiction.”

The open category winner, Exhalation, by Ted Chiang, is a collection of nine stories that address subjects including time travel, alien life and artificial intelligence. In the book, Chiang’s second collection of stories, the author creates devices such as a digital memory and a digital pet to explore the many imaginative alleyways of the spec-fic genre.

“Ted Chiang is simply the greatest living science fiction writer, and each new story of his is cause for celebration. It’s been 17 years since his last collection, and Exhalation is exactly the kind of brain-exploding, superhuman, profoundly human work we need right now. Far and away the best speculative book of the year, and probably the decade. Ted’s stories rewrite the rules of the world and widen the scope of our dreams, and we are all in his debt,” said Miller.

Turnbull and Chiang will participate in an online award event later this month to discuss their works and the speculative fiction genre.

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 10/1/19 Attention, Slans! This Is a Porgrave Pixel-Broadcasting Scroll

(1) DEEP DISH READING SERIES. The Speculative Literature Foundation will be hosting the Deep Dish Reading Series Thursday, October 3 at 7pm at Volumes Bookcafe (1474 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622).  This event is being done in partnership with the Plurality University Network as part of their Many Tomorrows Festival.

Transcending boundaries of space, time, and imagination, we will gather together in Chicago speculative fiction authors from various communities, each with their own unique vision of the world. This event is co-sponsored by SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) (www.sfwa.org) and Chicago Nerd Social Club (www.chicagonerds.org). 

The event’s Featured Readers will be Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Jane Rosenberg LaForge, and Scott Huggins, with Rapid-Fire Readers Sue Burke, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Jeremy John, and Anaea Lay. Deep Dish readings are open to the public and all are welcome, free of charge.

(2) COUPLE OF AMAZON TRIBUTARIES DRYING UP. The Digital Reader reports a pair of changes will soon be made to Amazon’s marketing strategies.

On September 27 they wrote: “Amazon is Shutting Down Amazon Giveaways on 30 November”.

Amazon is shutting down its nearly five-year-old giveaway service in two weeks.

The retailer sent out an email today, informing authors and others who have run contests that the service is being wound down over the next couple months. The option to start a new giveaway contest will end on 10 October, and Amazon will end all current contests on 17 October. 

A couple days later this item followed: “Amazon is Shutting Down Kindle Matchbook, Its Print+eBook Bundling Program”.

…Launched in 2013, Kindle Matchbook was a program where authors and publishers had the option of creating ebook+print bundles that combine a Kindle ebook with a print book sold by Amazon. The ebook could be given away for free, or sold for $1.99 or $0.99.

If you’ve never heard of this program, you’re not alone. Aside from the stories about the publishing industry losing its shit when Amazon launched Kindle Matchbook, it has gotten almost no media attention.

Most authors have never heard of it, and the ones that do have books in the program report that there was little interest from readers.

(3) BREAKING A RULE. Doctor Strangemind’s Kim Huett assembles an entertaining array of authors reproving critics in “Taking Care When Biting the Bear”. Keith Roberts lights up a pseudonymous reviewer, while James Blish is racked by Anthony Boucher and Isaac Asimov.

It has often been said, and rightly so, that there is little value in an author complaining about what others say about their work. No matter how wrong-headed an author might think such opinions, in the normal course of events complaining about them rarely does the author much good. The problem for any author who feels slighted is that we all form opinions about everything we experience and few of us will happily accept being told our opinions are worthless. Thus when an author uses the argument ‘that X did not understand what I was trying to do’ most of us feel our hackles raise in empathy with the critic.

To argue about anything but clear errors of fact (as Jack Vance once did in response to James Blish) is risky business for this very reason….

(4) MARS BY WAY OF KENSINGTON. Forbes advises travelers, “From A Mars Exhibit To An Out-Of-This-World Tea Time, Here’s How To Have The Perfect Space-Themed London Day”. The itinerary begins here:

…On October 18, the London Design Museum will launch their “Moving to Mars” exhibition, which considers both the science and design behind what going to Mars will look like for humankind. The exhibit is divided into three aesthetically pleasing exhibitions – one on Mars in popular culture, one on what life and living conditions will be like on Mars, and one on what the future of Mars could look like. Guests are then invited to make their own conclusions about how and when humans should make the leap to the red planet. Because it’s a design museum, the curators have collected more than 150 Mars-related objects and commissioned an interior design firm to create a multi-sensory experience. Guests will be able to walk through a prototype of a Martian habitat and study the clothing that will need to blend style and functionality with heavy-duty protection and technical performance. The exhibit will run until February 23, 2020. It’s best to buy your tickets in advance and is recommended for children 8 and older.

(5) POLL CATS. At Tor.com, James Davis Nicoll comments on “Four Speculative Novels Featuring Important Elections”. (And has no trouble reaching that number even before mentioning Double Star.)

My nation (which may not be yours) is in the midst of another election. On the one hand, it’s a glorious celebration of our right to choose who runs the nation for the next four years. On the other hand, many of us view with dismay the endless election—thirty-six full days of bloviation and punditry!—and the sinking feeling that it is all an exercise in deciding which of our colourful array of parties  is least objectionable. Still, even if it feels like one is being asked to choose between the Spanish Influenza and Yersinia pestis, it is important to remember one take-home lesson from Herman Kahn’s On Thermonuclear War: even undesirable outcomes can be ranked in order of preference. The Spanish flu is bad. The Black Death is worse.

All of which led me to consider how elections have figured in speculative fiction novels.

(6) HARLEY QUINN. The first Birds of Prey trailer has dropped. In theaters February 7, 2020

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • October 1, 1957 The Brain From Planet Arous premiered. Starring John Agar, Joyce Meadows, and Robert Fuller, it was made on a budget of $ 58,000. It went into appeared in wide distribution in 1958 as a double feature with Teenage Monster.
  • October 1, 1998Futuresport aired on ABC. Starring Dean Cain, Vanessa Williams, and Wesley Snipes, it polled 23% at Rotten Tomatoes. 
  • October 1, 2001 — The Mutant Xseries first aired. It lasted for three seasons and sixty episodes. John Shea who was Luthor in the 1990s Lois & Clark was a cast member. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 1, 1896 Abraham Sofaer. The Thasian in “The Charlie X” episode of the original Trek. He’s also been on  The Man from U.N.C.L.E in “The Brain-Killer Affair” as Mr. Gabhail Samoy, head of U.N.C.L.E. operations in Calcutta, and also had one-offs on Twilight Zone, Boris Karloff’s ThrillerTime Tunnel, I Dream of JeannieKolchak: The Night Stalker and Lost in Space. (Died 1988.)
  • Born October 1, 1914 Donald Wollheim. Founding member of the Futurians, Wollheim organized what was later deemed the first American science fiction convention, when a group from New York met with a group from Philadelphia on October 22, 1936 in Philadelphia. As an editor, he published Le Guin’s first two novels as an Ace Double. And would someone please explain to me how he published an unauthorized paperback edition of The Lord of the Rings? (Died 1990.)
  • Born October 1, 1930 Richard Harris. One of the Dumbledores in the Potter film franchise. He also played King Arthur in Camelot, Richard the Lion Hearted in Robin and Marian, Gulliver in Gulliver’s Travels, James Parker in Tarzan, the Ape Man and he voiced Opal in Kaena: The Prophecy. His acting in Tarzan, the Ape Man him a nominee for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor. Anyone seen that film? (Died 2002.)
  • Born October 1, 1935 Dame Julie Andrews, DBE, 84. Mary Poppins! I could stop there but I won’t. (Hee.) she had a scene cut in which was a maid in The Return of the Pink Panther, and she’s uncredited as the singing voice of Ainsley Jarvis in The Pink Panther Strikes Again. Yet again she’s uncreated in a Panther film, this time as chairwoman in Trail of the Pink Panther. She voices Queen Lillian in Sherk 2Shrek the Third and Shrek Forever After. And she’s the voice of Karathen in Aquaman.
  • Born October 1, 1944 Rick Katze, 75. A Boston fan and member of NESFA and MCFI. He’s chaired three Boskones, and worked many Worldcons. Quoting Fancyclopedia 3: “A lawyer professionally, he was counsel to the Connie Bailout Committee and negotiated the purchase of Connie’s unpaid non-fannish debt at about sixty cents on the dollar.” He’s an active editor for the NESFA Press, including the six-volume Best of Poul Anderson series.
  • Born October 1, 1948 Michael Ashley, 71. Way, way too prolific to cover in any detail so I’ll single out a few of his endeavours. The first, his magnificent The History of the Science Fiction Magazine, 1926 – 1965; the second being the companion series, The Time Machines: The Story of the Science-Fiction Pulp Magazines from the Beginning to 1990. This not to slight anything he is done such as The Gernsback Days: A Study in the Evolution of Modern Science Fiction from 1911 to 1936.
  • Born October 1, 1953 John Ridley, 66. Author of Those Who Walk in Darkness and What Fire Cannot Burn novels. Both excellent though high on the violence cringe scale. Writer on the Static Shock and Justice League series. Writer, The Authority : human on the inside graphic novel. And apparently the writer for Team Knight Rider, a female version of Knight Rider that last one season in the Nineties. 
  • Born October 1, 1989 Brie Larson, 30. Captain Marvel in the Marvel film universe. She’s also been in Kong: Skull Island as Mason Weaver, and plays Kit in the Unicorn Store which she also directed and produced. Her first genre role was Rachael in the “Into the Fire” of Touched by an Angel series; she also appeared as Krista Eisenburg in the “Slam” episode of Ghost Whisperer. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Where are they now? Grimmy answers the question for one rainbow vaulter.

(10) AT A GLANCE. Camestros Felapton in “Cat Psychology” provides a handy chart of facial expressions so you can tell what your cat is thinking – provided yours thinks the same way as Timothy the Talking Cat.

(11) WRONG ON JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter watch a contestant lose money with this response on tonight’s episode of Jeopardy!

Category: What’s that award for.

Answer: The Arthur C. Clarke Award.

Wrong question: What is tennis?

(12) NEW SFF. Victoria Sandbrook praises an author’s debut novel: “Review: THE LESSON by Cadwell Turnbull”.

…Turnbull’s narrative is measured, calm, until it isn’t, a thundercloud too easily written off until it looms above you. The central, external conflict remains taut and ever-present, even as Turnbull explores the deeply individual experiences of each character with an awareness and love of place rooted in his own history there.

(13) DON’T MISS THE APOCALYPSE. The Daily Mail’s article “Enter the Thunderdome: 4,000 Mad Max fans and their weaponry-festooned vehicles gather in the California desert for Wasteland Weekend – the ‘world’s largest post-apocalyptic festival'” comes with myriad photos.

Roughly 4,000 people have descended on to California‘s Mojave Desert for an annual post-apocalyptic festival called Wasteland Weekend. 

The festival, which was inspired by the Mad Max film series, celebrated its tenth anniversary this year and revelers flocked to the desert in their masses. 

Created in 2010 by Karol Bartoszynski, Jared Butler and James Howard, the festival sees its participants spend the entire weekend in post-apocalyptic costume. 

They proudly note:

The permanent festival site sits between the defunct Nevada nuclear test site, where from 1951 a total of 928 nuclear warheads were tested during the cold war, and Hollywood.

(14) BEAR ANCESTRY. Scientists are “Collecting polar bear footprints to map family trees”.

Scientists from Sweden are using DNA in the environment to track Alaskan polar bears.

The technique which uses DNA from traces of cells left behind by the bears has been described as game changing for polar bear research.

It’s less intrusive than other techniques and could help give a clearer picture of population sizes.

Environmental DNA (eDNA) comes from traces of biological tissue such as skin and mucus in the surroundings.

Scientists and now conservationists are increasingly using such samples to sequence genetic information and identify which species are present in a particular habitat.

It’s often used to test for invasive species or as evidence of which animals might need more protection.

In another application of the technique, geneticist Dr Micaela Hellström from the Aquabiota laboratory in Sweden worked with WWF Alaska and the Department of Wildlife Management in Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow) to collect snow from the pawprints of polar bears.

They tested the technique on polar bears in parks in Sweden and Finland.

“We realised that for the first time we could reach the nuclear DNA within the cells. The material outside the cell can tell what species you are and there are 1,000 or 2,000 copies. But the DNA in the nucleus which identifies an individual has only two copies, so it’s an enormous challenge to get out enough from these snowsteps,” she said.

(15) ONTOGENY RECAPITULATES PHYLOGENY.  “Babies in the womb have lizard-like hand muscles” – BBC has the story.

Babies in the womb have extra lizard-like muscles in their hands that most will lose before they are born, medical scans reveal.

They are probably one of the oldest, albeit fleeting, remnants of evolution seen in humans yet, biologists say, in the journal Development.

They date them as 250 million years old – a relic from when reptiles transitioned to mammals.

It is unclear why the human body makes and then deletes them before birth.

The biologists say the developmental step may be what makes thumbs dextrous. Thumbs, unlike other digits, retain an extra muscle.

(16) GOOD USE. BBC reports “Virtual reality PTSD treatment has ‘big impact’ for veterans”.

Virtual reality could be used to help military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who have struggled with mainstream treatment.

It involves patients walking on a treadmill in front of a screen which projects images depicting the type of trauma experienced.

A two-year trial found some patients could see almost a 40% improvement in their symptoms.

One veteran said it had given him the “biggest impact” out of any treatment.

(17) NOT IN HAWKINS ANYMORE? Netflix has greenlighted a fourth season of Stranger Things. The announcement took the form of this video:

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

Pixel Scroll 7/16/19 Abe Said, Where Do You Want This Filing Done? God Said, Out On Scrollway Pixel-One

(1) ABOUT “FANDOM”. Impressive piece on the meanings of “fandom” by Elise Matthesen: “A bit of musing on where fandom/fandoms communication has oft gone awry”. I’m only going to excerpt the preamble, and save the best parts for you to discover at the link:

The following excerpt is taken from an email conversation with friends about some online reactions to a screed someone had posted about how kids these days should get off of their lawn with their “fandoms” with an s and their fanwriters who are not oldphart fans, among other things. I was trying to explain to my friends how one particular misunderstanding involving the usage of “fandom” versus the usage of “fandoms” was making things so much worse, and how I had had very little luck explaining the particular connotations involved to either group of the fans involved.

Please note that the following has been edited for clarity, but I’m not guaranteeing I actually reached that destination….

(2) DIVE INTO WORLDBUILDING. Juliette Wade’s new Diving Into Worldbuilding introduces readers to Cadwell Turnbull and interviews him about how he devised the background for his novel: “Cadwell Turnbull and The Lesson. Read the synopsis at the link, and/or watch the video:

We were all really excited to meet Cadwell Turnbull and talk to him about his new novel, The Lesson. This is a first contact novel featuring aliens in the Virgin Islands. It takes place five years after the alien Ynaa integrated with humans, and examines the tensions and conflicts between humans and Ynaa. Cadwell told us it deals with the murky relationship between the two groups, and the social, personal, and cultural effects of having highly advanced aliens living here.

Cadwell explained that the Ynaa have one basic technology. “Reefs” are intelligent cells that manage body health and also change the Ynaa’s physiology so they can fit in. They can also be used for technology, ships, cities, and other things. The reefs can build themselves. This technology can also be used to kill people.

(3) MUSIC ABOUT THE FUTURE. Red Bull Music Academy presents 17 selections that make up “An Alternate Canon of Afrofuturist Classics”.

This list sprung from a short question: What is a song you feel best represents Afrofuturism? From that starting point, a number of artists, academics, authors, curators and creative minds contributed selections that reflect both canon and alternate cuts. This list is necessarily limited: The expansive applications of Afrofuturist thought means anything definitive remains out of reach. But wherever and however Afrofuturism travels, it remains a space of utmost creative freedom and expressive possibility.

The titles on the home page are linked to short articles about each selection.

(4) WE’LL SEA ABOUT THAT. The Hollywood Reporter finds support for a POC mermaid split along party lines: “Disney’s Choice to Cast Halle Bailey in ‘Little Mermaid’ Is Mostly Well-Received, Poll Finds”.

About 75 percent of self-described Democrats said they support the casting of the actress in the role, as opposed to 44 percent of Republicans, a Hollywood Reporter/Morning Consult poll finds.

(5) FANS COMMISSION HOGARTH NOVEL. M.C.A. Hogarth says —

I gave my fans a chance to “buy” a novel via Kickstarter I would ordinarily have backburnered and they decided they wanted it. The Kickstarter is still running but they’ve already hit my 10K goal (and in less than five days).

I continue to think it’s cool that we live in an age where fans can fund the books they want that authors would otherwise not have been able to afford. 🙂

The fundraising is not just about the book as a whole — Hogarth has set up an interesting menu of almost 20 different scenarios or character interactions that people can contribute toward having included in the story.

The “Major Pieces: A Peltedverse Collection” Kickstarter has raised $10,127 so far.

(6) SPACEWAR. MIT Technology Review news editor Nial Firth penned an article warning that war in space isn’t just a concern for science fiction writers, suggesting that the first skirmishes may already be occurring — “How to fight a war in space (and get away with it)” – behind a paywall at Technology Review. As Firth writes: “The major spacefaring nations ratified the treaty [against militarization of space] long ago, but the ambitions of the treaty to codify peaceful uses of space seem increasingly distant, as hawkish rhetoric and actions grow more common.”

In March, India became only the fourth country in the world—after Russia, the US, and China—to successfully destroy a satellite in orbit. Mission Shakti, as it was called, was a demonstration of a direct-ascent anti-satellite weapon (ASAT)—or in plain English, a missile launched from the ground. Typically this type of ASAT has a “kill vehicle,” essentially a chunk of metal with its own guidance system, mounted on top of a ballistic missile. Shortly after the missile leaves the atmosphere, the kill vehicle detaches from it and makes small course corrections as it approaches the target. No explosives are needed; at orbital speeds, kinetic energy does the damage.

(7) NOT THE NOMINATION HE’S AFTER. Talking about presidential candidate Andrew Yang, fivethirtyeight.com today said “But while the Yang platform can occasionally appear to drift toward a bid for a Hugo Award . . . .” — “How Weird Is Andrew Yang’s Tech Policy? Only About As Weird As America’s.”.

…In a Yang presidency, election results would be verified through blockchain (an encryption system best known for shoring up cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin), quantum computing research would be better funded, and a Legion of Builders and Destroyers would have the power to overrule local zoning and land-use decisions for the greater infrastructure good. He is definitely the only presidential candidate talking seriously about fighting climate change with giant space mirrors….

Greg Hullender opines, “In point of fact, his platform is pretty long. I’m not so sure it’s a good candidate for Best Related Work, although it does have its moments.” – “Yang 2020 – Our Policies” – “And how can you not like a guy whose response to pink MAGA caps is blue MATH hats?”

(8) A NICK LARTER UPDATE: Nick Larter, quoted in yesterday’s Scroll as opposed to a U.S Worldcon (immigration policies, difficulties), has been getting a crash course in site selection rules and today added this statement to his post:

Yesterday I sent an email to the address provided for the Dublin Worldcon Business Meeting, enquiring how I should proceed.  I have so far heard nothing back.  But others have kindly informed me online that the Business Meeting has no control over the voting process.  I have now looked at the relevant ballot paper.  It seems that if a majority of voters select the None of the Above option for the 2021 Worldcon location, then the Business Meeting is supposed to decide where it should be located.  On this basis, I’ll be voting None of the Above in Dublin.

(9) JACOB OBIT. Charlee Jacob (1952-2019) died July 14. The native Texan specializing in horror fiction, dark fantasy, and poetry won the Bram Stoker Award twice. Her novel Dread in the Beast tied for the Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel of 2005, and her poetry collection Sineater won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Poetry Collection in 2005 as well. Her first novel This Symbiotic Fascination (Necro Publications, 1997) was nominated for the International Horror Guild Award.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • July 16, 1952  — Zombies of the Stratosphere premiered.
  • July 16, 1969 — Apollo 11 launched.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 16, 1882 Felix Locher. He is considered the oldest Star Trek actor of all time by birth year, appearing in  “The Deadly Years” episode. 0ther genre appearances included Curse of the Faceless Man,  The Twilight ZoneFrankenstein’s Daughter, The MunstersHouse of the DamnedThe Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Mission Impossible. His entire acting career was from 1957 to 1969. (Died 1969.)
  • Born July 16, 1928 Robert Sheckley. I knew that his  short story “Seventh Victim” was the basis of The 10th Victim film but I hadn’t known ‘til now that Freejack was sort of based of his Immortality, Inc. novel.  I’ve read a lot by him with Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming (written with Zelazny) and Babylon 5: A Call to Arms being my favorite works by him. Sheckley is very well stocked on the Kindle store but not in the iBook store. H’h. (Died 2005.)
  • Born July 16, 1929 Sheri Tepper. I think I’m going to single out her Marianne Trilogy (Marianne, the Magus and the Manticore; Marianne, the Madam and the Momentary Gods; Marianne, the Matchbox and the Malachite Mouse) as her best work. Both the setting and the characters are unique, the story fascinating. (Died 2016.)
  • Born July 16, 1951 Esther Friesner, 68. She’s won the Nebula Awards for Best Short Story, both “Death and the Librarian” and “A Birthday”.  I’m particularly fond of The Sherwood Game and E.Godz which she did with Robert Asprin. She’s better better stocked in the Kindle store than in the iBooks Store. 
  • Born July 16, 1956 Jerry Doyle. Now this one was depressing. Dead of acute alcoholism at sixty, his character Michael Garibaldi was portrayed as an alcoholic, sometimes recovering and sometimes not on Babylon 5. Damn. (Died 2016.)
  • Born July 16, 1963 Phoebe Cates, 56. Ok, her entire genre appearance credit is as Kate Beringer in Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch. It’s two films that I have an inordinate fondness for that the Suck Fairy cannot have any effect upon. 
  • Born July 16, 1967 Will Ferrell, 52. His last film was Holmes & Watson in which he played Holmes. It won Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screen Combo and, my absolute favorite Award, Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel. Wow. He was also in Land of the Lost which, errrr, also got negative reviews. Elf however got a great response from viewers and critics alike. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) MAKING BOOK. The correspondence of Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone comprise today’s The Big Idea at Whatever.

In today’s Big Idea, Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone are feeling epistolary, which, considering the letter-writing format of their collaborative novella This is How You Lose the Time War, is entirely appropriate.

AMAL EL-MOHTAR and MAX GLADSTONE:

Dearest Max,

I write to you from the past—knowing you’re presently asleep while I’m awake, three hours’ worth of time zone between us—to talk about ideas. It’s tricky to know where to begin; when the most succinct description we can manage of our book clocks in at “epistolary spy vs. spy novella across time and space,” the ideas crowd and clutter.

But I think it all ultimately begins and ends with us. The two of us, becoming friends, and writing each other letters.

Do you remember when we first decided to write something together? I know the fact of it, but I don’t remember the hour, the words—only that we loved each other’s work, wanted to work together, wanted to set a sensible boundary of how and when and for how long to work together….

(14) CAN YOU DIG IT? James Davis Nicoll will be your guide through “Great Lost Civilizations of Science Fiction and Fantasy” at Tor.com.

Thanks to the exploits of 19th-century archaeologists (many of them no better than Indiana Jones, digging for statues and jewelry while ignoring evidence of daily life), lost civilizations were common features of 19th-century adventure stories. The trope was imported wholesale into early SFF. Do you remember your first SFF lost civilization? I remember mine, which was thanks to Scholastic Books: the enthusiastically pulp-ish Stranger from the Depths, by Gerry Turner.

A mysterious relic reveals to humanity that there was an ancient civilization that arose before modern humans evolved in Africa. “Was”…or “is”? Ancient does not always mean vanished. These ancient aliens have, in fact, survived(!!!) in well-concealed refugia. Humans have now stumbled across them. Will humans survive the discovery?

(15) HELD OVER. There’s a new SF play being performed at Hollywood Fringe Festival one more time on July 20 at 8 p.m. called “Life Plan: How to Live Your Life in a Collapsing World”. Here’s the description:

It’s that rare time of year when the Life Plan presentation comes through the Los Angeles Habitable Zone! Tired of struggling in underground shelters and fleeing from mutated dumpster dogs? Life Plan is the answer! You can live out your dream life and you can experience true fulfillment, but only if you come to one of our five Life Plan Presentations this June. This is your last chance of 2068, so don’t miss out!

Life Plan is immersive satirical sci-fi — you’re live at a timeshare sales pitch from our dystopian future. Fulfillment is the offer. Salvation is the opportunity. Will you cash out? Will you buy in?

The play is written by Matthew Latkiewicz of You Can Do Better on truTV and former The Onion managing editor Brian Janosch. There are more details here.

The Parks and Recreation actor Alison Becker raves about the play on her Instagram wall, “I’ve seen A LOT of theater. And this was one of the best shows I’ve seen in my entire life. Wow. It’s like a weird mind fuck that stays in your head for weeks afterwards. It’s been extended for one night only (July 20th) so don’t say I didn’t tell you. I am NOT involved in this play. I am just telling you as a public service announcement — GO SEE THE BEST PIECE OF THEATER OF THE YEAR.”

(16) MAKING OF A WRITER. The Odyssey Workshop gets a plug from a graduate: “Interview: Graduate Farah Naz Rishi”.

You’ve worked as a video game journalist. How has gaming influenced your prose? What do you think writers could learn from successful video games?

I think analyzing video games actually helped me understand world-building a bit better. I try to treat every character, no matter how small their role, as an NPC (non-playable character). Every NPC in a video game should have a clear purpose, not just to propel the main characters on their quest, but to better flesh out the world around them. NPCs in games offer advice and opinions, sometimes drop hints that, if missed, can really screw over the player, or at least make their quest more difficult. In that way, they can make the story interactive. NPCs basically can reward a player for exploration. If you remove them, maybe the overall story won’t be affected, per se, but it will feel less rich.

(17) THE WELSHMEN WHO WALKED UP A HILL. BBC finds a road that’s ideal for geckoes, however, that’s not who’s using it: “Harlech street takes record as steepest in the world”.

A street in north Wales has been declared the steepest in the world.

Residents in Harlech, Gwynedd, are celebrating after Guinness World Records verified the gradient of Ffordd Pen Llech at 37.45%.

The title had been held by Baldwin Street in Dunedin, New Zealand, with a gradient of 35% at its steepest.

Campaigner Gwyn Headley said: “I feel utter relief – and jubilation. I feel sorry for the New Zealanders – but steeper is steeper.”

…Mr Headley and Sarah Badhan know just what an uphill struggle life can be for those living on Ffordd Pen Llech.

While most live at the bottom of the hill, the chemist and post office are at the top.

Mr Headley’s research found the street was the steepest in Great Britain, though a different methodology was used to calculate Baldwin Street in New Zealand.

So they engaged surveyors and measurements taken in January showed Fordd Pen Llech had a one in 2.67 gradient at its steepest part, compared with the current record holder’s one in 2.86.

(18) CREAM OF SDCC. Gizmodo previews what they consider to be “The 10 Most Exciting Panels Happening at San Diego Comic-Con 2019”. Marvel is number one.

2. Enter the Star Trek Universe

CBS has so many Star Trek projects going on, it chose to dump them all into one panel! “Enter the Star Trek Universe” will share news about several Star Trek projects—including the animated show Lower Decks, from the guys behind Rick and Morty, and Sir Patrick Stewart’s highly anticipated return as Jean-Luc Picard. We can’t wait, especially for the dog.

When and where: Hall H on Saturday, July 20 at 11:30 a.m.

Who will be there:

Star Trek: Discovery—Sonequa Martin-Green, Tig Notaro, and executive producers Alex Kurtzman, Michelle Paradise, and Heather Kadin.

Star Trek: Lower Decks—co-creator Mike McMahan

Star Trek: Picard—Sir Patrick Stewart, Alison Pill, Michelle Hurd, Evan Evagora, Isa Biones, Santiago Cabrera, Harry Treadaway, showrunner Michael Chabon, and executive producers Alex Kurtzman, Akiva Goldsman, and Heather Kadin.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, rcade, Carl Slaughter, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Alan Baumler, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Greg Hullender, Olav Rokne, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]