Pixel Scroll 9/18/23 Take A Pixel, Leave A Pixel

(1) WORLDCON VENUE DISPLAY. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] Blogger skyxiang1991, who posts photos of the Chengdu SF museum/convention centre, uploaded a video earlier today showing a test of the light/laser (?) display at what is perhaps the entrance. See the video here.

The 2 characters on the left of the entrance are 科幻 (kehuan/science fiction), I can’t make out the stuff on the right.

(2) WORLDCON INVITATION. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] Whilst looking for any relevant posts or updates on the Xiaohongshu social media platform, I came across this post from September 5, which — based on the footer — indicates that the Chengdu organizers were still sending out invitations as of September 4. [Click for larger images.]

Google Translate indicates that the English and Chinese language pages have broadly the same information.  There’s nothing about the nature of the invitation though e.g. will they be appearing on panels, that says the Worldcon is offering any assistance towards their attendance, etc.

One of the comments is from a volunteer, who says that they have started training for the event.

I have no idea who Chen Ming Da / 晨鸣达 is, although their Xiahongshu bio and posts indicate they are a street artist in Guangdong province.

(3) BACK YOUR FAVORITE MAGAZINES. Jason Sanford says “Don’t Let Our Current Golden Age of Genre Magazines Fade Away” in a post at Apex Magazine.

…Last month, Fantasy Magazine announced they’re closing their doors, in part because of Amazon’s change to Kindle Newsstand. And there are fears more magazines could follow.

As magazines deal with the fallout from Amazon nuking the digital subscription landscape, people will no doubt be told that magazines are no longer relevant in today’s genre. That it is the magazine’s fault for trusting Amazon. Or that only writers read these magazines (an outright myth, with Neil Clarke’s recent analysis of Clarkeworld’s readership data showing that only 13% of his known subscribers are writers who also submitted to the magazine).

The truth is that in today’s fragmented online world, genre magazines are even more vital to the SF/F/H genre. Magazines are where new and marginalized voices can be heard. Magazines are where genre communities and connections can be formed. Magazines are where our genre futures are being created today….

(4) FIND OUT “HOW TO”. Mary Soon Lee’s How to Navigate Our Universe, released this past week, is a collection of 128 poems, ranging from whimsical to serious — poems about planets, stars, black holes, and astronomers, complete with essential advice such as “How to End the Universe”.

 Here’s an example —

How to Be a Star

Gravitationally collapse a nebula.
Fuse hydrogen into helium.
If desired, explode.

And there is other How-to astronomy poetry to answer vexing questions such as “How to Surprise Saturn”, “How to Blush Like Betelgeuse”, and “How to Survive a Black Hole”.

Mary Soon Lee is a Grand Master of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association, and has won the Rhysling Award, the Elgin Award, and the AnLab Readers’ Award.

The book is self-published, and available through Amazon.com.

This is her second collection of science poetry, following on from Elemental Haiku: Poems to honor the periodic table three lines at a time.

(5) I COULD SING THIS ALL DAY. “Captain America’s MCU Musical is Now Streaming”Gizmodo alerts the media.

You usually go to the Marvel Cinematic Universe for a lot of things, but memorable original music isn’t really one of them. But Rogers: The Musicala corny Hamilton-alike that told a very condensed story of Chris Evans’ Captain America—is one of the more successful attempts at musically spicing things up for the films, if only because people seemed to like its brief appearance in the first episode of Hawkeye. It even took off well enough that Disney brought it to its theme parks for the summer—which is why Disney’s now putting the album out on streaming.

Marvel released Rogers’ 12-track album at the start of the weekend, which comes from the most recent performance held at Disney’s California Adventure Park at the Hyperion Theater. Beyond the novelty of being an MCU musical, the album boasts five brand new original songs that were made specifically for the production.

(6) ONLY 97 SHOPPING DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS. This is what someone at TrekCore.com is getting this year: “Hallmark Honors Data and His Cat with 2023 ‘Ode to Spot’ STAR TREK Ornament”.

…Featured in the episode “Schisms” — did that episode mess anyone else up? Just me? — the poem “Ode to Spot” has a special place in this 90s kid’s Star Trek lovin’ heart. I was delighted to see that Hallmark decided to immortalize this iconic TNG moment in this year’s ornament line up.

The push button audio includes the first and final stanzas of the poem…

(7) A DEAL, DEPENDING ON HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT IT. [Item by Daniel Dern.] I see that Amazon is currently offering three free months of Kindle Unlimited. (Just noticed after pre-ordering a book, by an author I’m overdue to write a scroll about.)

I’m well aware that while this is good for us voracious read’n’release readers, it’s arguably trebleplusungood for creators. OTOH, IMHO much of the reader/creator $ chain seems problematic, e.g., as mostly library/e-library user, not to mention a frequent rereader of the books I own, and still-occasional used-book buyer, creators aren’t being remunerated for much of my eyeball input (ditto audio, etc.)

(8) SUING ANOTHER INTERNET BOOK INFRINGER. “Four large US publishers sue ‘shadow library’ for alleged copyright infringement” – the Guardian briefs readers about the case.

Four leading US publishers have sued an online “shadow library” that allows visitors to download textbooks and other copyrighted materials free.

Cengage, Macmillan Learning, McGraw Hill and Pearson Education filed the suit against Library Genesis, also known as LibGen, in Manhattan federal court, citing “extensive violations” of copyright law.

LibGen operates a collection of different domains that allow users to search for and download pdf versions of books. The suit, filed on Thursday, said LibGen holds more than 20,000 files published by the four suing companies.

“LibGen’s massive infringement completely undermines the incentive for creation and the rights of authors, who earn no royalties for the millions of books LibGen illegally distributes,” Matt Oppenheim, the attorney representing the publishing companies, told the Guardian.

The publishers asked for an unspecified amount of money in damages and called for LibGen domain names to be deleted or transferred to the four companies. The complaint said that LibGen’s activities cause “serious financial and creative harm” because they devalue the textbook market and deprive publishers of income from textbook purchases, which may lead companies to stop publishing “deserving” titles that have low sales….

(9) IS STRIKE AGAINST VIDEO GAME COMPANIES NEXT? “SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher Urges Members To Approve Strike Authorization Against Video Game Companies” at Deadline.

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher, saying that “right now is the time to show our solidarity,” is urging her members to authorize a strike against the video game industry. The guild, which has been on strike against the film and TV industries since July 14, could go on strike against the gaming companies any time after September 25, when voting on the strike authorization ends. The guild’s first and only strike against the gaming companies lasted 183 days in 2016-17.

In a new video, Drescher notes that voting for a strike authorization doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be a strike. But rather, it authorizes the board to “to call a strike if needed.”

“It’s been nearly a year since SAG-AFTRA began negotiating the Interactive Media Agreement with video game companies, “she says in the video. “Despite many multi-day bargaining sessions, the companies are refusing to meet our members’ needs in vital areas.”…

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 18, 1884 Gertrude Barrows Bennett. She’s been called a pioneering author of genre fiction. She wrote a number of fantasies between in the late teens and early twenties, and has been called “the woman who invented dark fantasy”. Her short story, “The Curious Experience of Thomas Dunbar” which was published under G.M. Barrows in Argosy is considered first time that an American female writer published SF story using her real name. I’m pleased to say that both iBooks and Kindle are heavily stocked with her works. (Died 1948.)
  • Born September 18, 1917 June Foray. Voice performer with such roles as Cindy Lou Who, Natasha Fatale and Rocky the Flying Squirrel. She also provided the voice of Lucifer the Cat from Disney’s Cinderella. She also did a lot of witches such as Looney Tunes’ Witch Hazel which you can hear over here courtesy of WB Kids. She was instrumental in the creation of the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature twenty years ago. OGH has a most touching remembrance here. (Died 2017.)
  • Born September 18, 1946 Struan Rodger, 77. He was the Bishop in Stardust, and shows up in the A Discovery of Witches as John Dee. (Loved the novels, skipped the series as I always do.) He voiced the Three-Eyed Raven in The Game of Thrones’ “The Lion and The Rose” and “The Children”.  More interestingly he’s got multiple roles in Doctor Who. First he’s The Voice of The Face of Boe in the Tenth Doctor stories, “New Earth” and “Gridlock”, next he’s Clayton in the Twelfth Doctor story, “The Women Who Lived” and finally he’s a voice again, that of Kasaavin in “Skyfall, Part One”, a Thirteenth Doctor story. 
  • Born September 18, 1948 Lynn Abbey, 75. She’s best known for co-creating and co-editing with Robert Lynn Asprin (to whom she was married for awhile) the Thieves’ World series of shared-setting anthologies. (All twelve volumes!) Her Sanctuary novel set in the Thieves’ World universe is quite excellent. I’ve not kept up with her later work, so y’all will need to tell me how it is.
  • Born September 18, 1951 — Dee Dee Ramone. Yes, the Ramones bassist. He penned Chelsea Horror Hotel, a novel in which he and his wife move into New York City’s Hotel Chelsea where the story goes that they are staying in the same room where Sid Vicious allegedly killed his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. Many predictable ghosts visit them. (Died 2002.)
  • Born September 18, 1953 Michael R. Nelson, 70. Conrunner from the BaltiWash area who got into fandom in 1989. He chaired Disclave 41, Capclave 2002 and co-chaired the DC17 Worldcon bid. He is a member of the Washington Science Fiction Association.
  • Born September 18, 1984 Caitlin Kittredge, 39. Wiki say she’s best known for her Nocturne City series of adult novels, and for The Iron Codex, a series of YA novels, but I think her best work is by far the Black London series. She’s also writing the current Witchblade series at Image Comics. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Close to Home features a super-proud dad.
  • The Argyle Sweater imagines climate change affecting Westeros.
  • Dog Eat Doug is another Game of Thrones gag – and don’t you wonder what kind of seed they’re using?
  • A Tom Gauld doubleheader.

(12) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter was tuned into tonight’s Jeopardy! where a couple contestants were stumped by the show’s final item.

Final Jeopardy: Authors

Answer: He dedicated books to each of his 4 wives, including Hadley Richardson and Martha Gelhorn.

Wrong questions: Who is [C.S. crossed out] Tolkien? Who is Mark Twain?

Correct question: Who is Hemingway?

(13) THE OPPOSITE OF DÉJÀ VU IS NOT DEJAH THORIS. But ScienceAlert will be happy to tell you what it is in “The Opposite of Déjà Vu Exists, And It’s Even More Uncanny”.

…The opposite of déjà vu is “jamais vu”, when something you know to be familiar feels unreal or novel in some way. In our recent research, which has just won an Ig Nobel award for literature, we investigated the mechanism behind the phenomenon.

Jamais vu may involve looking at a familiar face and finding it suddenly unusual or unknown. Musicians have it momentarily – losing their way in a very familiar passage of music. You may have had it going to a familiar place and becoming disorientated or seeing it with “new eyes”.

It’s an experience which is even rarer than déjà vu and perhaps even more unusual and unsettling. When you ask people to describe it in questionnaires about experiences in daily life they give accounts like: “While writing in my exams, I write a word correctly like ‘appetite’ but I keep looking at the word over and over again because I have second thoughts that it might be wrong.”…

(14) SHOULD THESE HOMINID FOSSILS HAVE BEEN TAKEN FOR A RIDE? According to BGR, “Archaeologists are losing it over Virgin Galactic’s latest spaceflight”.

Last week, Virgin Galactic completed yet another flight, sending three passengers and an instructor to the edge of space. But it wasn’t the living passengers onboard the VSS Unity that had a lot of people in an uproar. Instead, reports note that archaeologists worldwide are upset that one of the passengers carried ancient human fossils into space aboard the flight….

The taking of these ancient human fossils into space was part of an elaborate publicity stunt to draw attention to “science, exploration, human origins, and South Africa,” Berger’s request noted. Despite the possible exposure it could bring, archaeologists say that the move put the remains in danger and could have led to the loss of one of the key identifying references for A. sediba, as the shoulder bone taken into space is actually the first A. sediba fossil to be discovered, and thus a reference that helps define the species.

Of course, this story would probably be a lot different if the flight hadn’t been successful, not only because of the loss of life, but because of the loss of history possible if the flight had not gone so smoothly. Luckily, that isn’t the case….

(15) PERMISSION DENIED. “Space Drugs Factory Denied Reentry to Earth” reports Gizmodo.

After manufacturing crystals of an HIV drug in space, the first orbital factory is stuck in orbit after being denied reentry back to Earth due to safety concerns.

The U.S. Air Force denied a request from Varda Space Industries to land its in-space manufacturing capsule at a Utah training area, while the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) did not grant the company permission to reenter Earth’s atmosphere, leaving its spacecraft hanging as the company scrambles to find a solution, TechCrunch first reported. A spokesperson from the FAA told TechCrunch in an emailed statement that the company’s request was not granted at this time “due to the overall safety, risk and impact analysis.”

Varda Space launched its spacecraft on board a Falcon 9 rocket on June 12. The 264-pound (120-kilogram) capsule is designed to manufacture products in a microgravity environment and transport them back to Earth. On June 30, its first drug-manufacturing experiment succeeded in growing crystals of the drug ritonavir, which is used for the treatment of HIV, in orbit. The microgravity environment provides some benefits that could make for better production in space, overall reducing gravity-induced defects. Protein crystals made in space form larger and more perfect crystals than those created on Earth, according to NASA

(16) IT’S A GAS. “Jupiter’s Moon Callisto Has a Whole Lot of Oxygen Scientists Struggle to Explain”CNET has the story.

…It isn’t clear what’s happening at Callisto to produce so much oxygen, but Carberry Mogan hopes to get a better understanding of processes active in the moon’s surface that may yield an explanation or clues. 

“That’s probably Callisto’s most enigmatic feature is its surface,” said Carberry Mogan, who’s a postdoctoral researcher in planetary science at the University of California at Berkeley. “It’s supposed to be an icy body, but when you look at it, it’s mostly this dark surface, anywhere from millimeters to kilometers deep.”

It’s still up for debate whether Callisto’s surface is more rock or ice. The dark material on its surface could also be ice-rich, providing a plentiful source for the mysterious amount of oxygen in the atmosphere. 

For help with the mystery, Carberry Mogan is looking to upcoming robotic missions like ESA’s Juice and NASA’s Europa Clipper, which may swing close enough to Callisto to gather new data that could shed light on the puzzle….

(17) NUMBER NINE, NUMBER NINE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The Science & Futurism with Isaac Arthur YouTube channel marked its ninth year this weekend.  Its first ever YouTube video was on ‘Megastructures in Space’ that came out on September 17, 2014.  To mark this anniversary at the weekend the month’s “Sci-Fi Sunday” with an episode “The Fermi Paradox: Fallen Empires”. In it he contemplated what the ruins of ancient Galactic Empires and the remains of their mega-structures of ancient, interstellar civilizations floating around the Galaxy might look like….

The cosmos seem silent and empty of any great interstellar empires, but perhaps they once existed, and if so, what titanic ruins might they have left behind?

(18) IF THE ROARING TWENTIES WERE SUPER. Today’s ShortyVerse — lots of nice close-ups! Interestingly, a mix of DC and Marvel characters. And an ad for Hulk Chocolate Protein Bars! “Epic Superhero Moments Throughout History”.

Let’s imagine what current movies/series would be like in 1920

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

Witness J. Michael Straczynski’s Vision For Steve Rogers’ Past, Present, And Future

J. Michael Straczynski, known for celebrated runs on Amazing Spider-Man and Thor, returns to Marvel Comics and will be taking the reins of one of its greatest icons in a new run of Captain America. Joined by artist Jesús Saiz and colorist Matt Hollingsworth, Straczynski has bold plans for Captain America with a saga that takes root in Steve Rogers’ earliest days but threatens to throw his future into chaos.

Even before he became Marvel’s star-spangled hero, Steve Rogers was a fighter. Embark on a fascinating journey to never-before-seen days of Steve’s youth where a powerful evil seeks to end Cap’s legacy before it begins. And back in the present, Captain America is giving back to the community in ways only he can by tackling crime on the local level. All that changes when this existential threat from the past begins making moves towards Steve in the here and now, starting with recruiting some of his deadliest former foes. In addition to deepening of the Captain America’s comic book mythos, Straczynski and Saiz will also delve into a largely unexplored chapter of Steve’s life in the late 1930s, as the fascism swallowing Europe threatened to take root in New York City.

Get your first look at this profound new series in a trailer first shown this past weekend at the Marvel: Heroes, Hulks and Super-Soldiers panel at San Diego Comic-Con. The new trailer features never-before-seen artwork including an epic motorcycle battle, team-ups with the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man, and a heartfelt memory of Steve with his mother.

Speaking with io9, Straczynski says, “Overall, the goal is to do some really challenging stories, some really fun stories, and get inside Steve’s head to see who he really is in ways that may not have been fully explored before. If folks like what I did with Peter in Amazing Spider-Man, and Thor in, well… Thor, then they should give this a shot, because I’m really swinging for the bleachers in this one!”

 For more information, visit Marvel.com. Check out the variant covers following the jump!

Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 7/7/23 The Universal Pixelscroll

(1) BE UPSTANDING. The space shuttle Endeavour will be rehoused in a new building that will allow it to be displayed upright in its original launch position, mated to the orange external tank and two booster rockets: “Space shuttle Endeavour preps for move to new museum” reports the LA Times.

After more than a decade on display at the California Science Center, the space shuttle Endeavour will begin the final trek to its permanent home at a new Los Angeles building in the coming months.

To get ready for the grand move, the state-run museum announced Thursday that crews will begin the installation of the base of the shuttle’s full stack on July 20. Workers will use a 300-ton crane to lower the bottom sections of the twin solid rocket boosters, which are 10,000 pounds apiece and roughly 9 feet tall, to the freshly built lowest section of the partly constructed $400-million Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.

It’ll be the first of many delicate maneuvers conducted over roughly six months (if the weather cooperates). Eventually, all half-million pounds of the full stack — including the shuttle Endeavour and a giant orange external tank — will rest on the base of the solid rocket boosters, bolted to the ground by eight supersized, superalloy fasteners that are 9 feet long and weigh 500 to 600 pounds….

(2) OCTOTHORPE. John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty have uttered Episode 87 of the Octothorpe podcast, “We Didn’t Imagine the Third Option”.

Wheeeeeee we’re Hugo finalists again! Huge congratulations to Alison Scott and España Sheriff who are finalists in Best Fan Artist, huge congratulations to John Coxon who’s a finalist with Journey Planet in Best Fanzine, and of course congratulations to transatlantic besties and cocky cake-makers Hugo, Girl! We also discuss the Locus and the BSFA Awards, plus (of course) picks.

(3) MEET RIVERFLOW. Chinese fan RiverFlow, a two-time 2023 Hugo finalist, tweeted this self-introduction:

(4) IT’S AN HONOR JUST TO BE NOMINATED. Wil Wheaton also shared his happy news: “Still Just A Geek is a Hugo award finalist” at WilWheaton.net.

I have been nominated for a few things in my life. I’ve even won a few. But I have not won way more often than I have. Based on my experience, the “I won!” thing is awesome for a short time, but where that euphoria fades quickly, the genuine honor of “I was nominated!” lasts forever. With that in mind, I looked at the other nominees this morning, and … I think it’s very unlikely I’ll be making space for a Hugo statue in my house. But that’s okay! I got to reach out to my TNG family today and tell them about it, and everyone who replied made me feel the love and pride that I imagine kids feel from parents who love them unconditionally.

If Still Just A Geek wins in its category, it’s going to be awesome. I’m not going to lie: I think it would be pretty great if I got to have a Hugo in my house, next to my Tabletop trophies. But if it doesn’t, the excitement, joy, and gratitude I feel that my story even made the finalists this year will never go away, and I get to have that whether I get the statue or not.

(5) COMPLETE LISTS OF HUGO FINALISTS. The Chengdu Worldcon Hugo Administrator limited the number of names they would place on the ballot announcement. As a result, several finalists have tweeted links to the complete lists of people they believe should be included.

(6) HUGO FINALIST ANNOUNCEMENT VIDEO. The Chengdu Worldcon has added the 81st Worldcon Hugo Awards Finalists Announcement to YouTube.

(7) CLARION CROWDFUNDING. The Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop at UC San Diego is in the midst of a 2023 crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to support the next generation of science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers. They have raised over $5,500 of their $20,000 with over three weeks remaining.

Would you be interested in these perks on offer to donors?

Want to have your name in a new Cory Doctorow novel?

Talk worldbuilding with Sue Burke?

Get a signed proof of Kim Stanley Robinson’s story “UCSD and Permaculture”?

Or name a scholarship to support making attending Clarion possible for a student next year? (Donation = $1,000)

All these — and t-shirts! — are on offer through the Clarion Workshop IndieGogo campaign. 

(8) ROGERS: THE MUSICAL. [Item by Daniel Dern.] I’d lost track that info about this was already scrolled — Item 7 in the June 30 Scroll — but it doesn’t look like there were any links to the actual show.

Here’s the five-and-a-half-minute trailer, from Marvel’s D23 Ex (watching the full thing once was enough for me, and it’s not the same without seeing Clint “Hawkeye” Barton in the audience shaking his head…

And here’s two  of many links to the full 37-minute show. (The first one seems to have more close-ups, but “features” some MST3K back of somebody’s head mid-left…):

  • Rogers: The Musical | Full Show, Disney California Adventure Park
  • Full Show: Rogers: The Musical | Disney California Adventure

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1963 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

This Scroll, Mike picked a work by Clifford Simak who I knew thot y’all know, so I see no need to introduce him to you. I will say that he was one of the first genre writers that I read deeply of. 

I’m fairly sure the first work by him that I read was City, a work that remains my favorite by him. But tonight we’re here to talk about Way Station, the source of the Beginning the Mike choose, another favorite of mine.

It was published by Doubleday in 1963 with the cover at by Ronald Fratell. It would win a Hugo at Pacificon II for the original publication as Here Gather the Stars in Galaxy’s June and August 1963 issues. 

And now let us turn to the Beginning…

The noise was ended now. The smoke drifted like thin, gray wisps of fog above the tortured earth and the shattered fences and the peach trees that had been whittled into toothpicks by the cannon fire. For a moment silence, if not peace, fell upon those few square miles of ground where just a while before men had screamed and torn at one another in the frenzy of old hate and had contended in an ancient striving and then had fallen apart, exhausted. 

For endless time, it seemed, there had been belching thunder rolling from horizon to horizon and the gouted earth that had spouted in the sky and the screams of horses and the hoarse bellowing of men; the whistling of metal and the thud when the whistle ended; the flash of searing fire and the brightness of the steel; the bravery of the colors snapping in the battle wind. 

Then it all had ended and there was a silence. 

But silence was an alien note that held no right upon this field or day, and it was broken by the whimper and the pain, the cry for water, and the prayer for death—the crying and the calling and the whimpering that would go on for hours beneath the summer sun. Later the huddled shapes would grow quiet and still and there would be an odor that would sicken all who passed, and the graves would be shallow graves. 

There was wheat that never would be harvested, trees that would not bloom when spring came round again, and on the slope of land that ran up to the ridge the words unspoken and the deeds undone and the sodden bundles that cried aloud the emptiness and the waste of death. 

There were proud names that were the prouder now, but now no more than names to echo down the ages—the Iron Brigade, the 5th New Hampshire, the 1st Minnesota, the 2nd Massachusetts, the 16th Maine. 

And there was Enoch Wallace

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 7, 1907 Robert Heinlein. Let’s have Paul Weimer tell about his favorite Heinlein works: “If I had to pick one favorite Heinlein novel, and that’s a tough road to hoe, I am going to go with the novel I’ve re-read the most and it’s probably not going to be the one you think.  It’s Glory Road. Yes, Glory Road. The back matter once the quest is done can be overcooked, but Heinlein had a keen eye for epic fantasy quests, the good and the bad, long before the rise of Tolkien clones. It was an early Heinlein for me, and the novel has stuck with me since, with a number of audio re-reads. I survived a boring drive across the flatness of the Great Plains by listening to the adventures of Oscar Gordon.” // If I had to pick one Heinlein story, I have a strong fondness for All You Zombies, which encapsulates all the potential paradoxes of time travel in a way that has been done at greater length, but not, I’d argue, with better effect. (The movie Predestination with Ethan Hawke is pretty darned good by the way). Oh, and my favorite book ABOUT Heinlein is Farah Mendelsohn’s The Pleasant Profession of Robert Heinlein. (Died 1988.)
  • Born July 7, 1919 — Jon Pertwee. The Third Doctor and one that I’ll admit I like a lot. He returned to the role of the Doctor in The Five Doctors and the charity special Dimensions in Time for Children in Need. He also portrayed the Doctor in the stage play Doctor Who – The Ultimate Adventure.  After a four-year-run here, he was the lead on Worzel Gummidge where he was, errr, a scarecrow. And I must note that one of his first roles was as The Judge in the film of Toad of Toad Hall by A. A. Milne. (Died 1996.)
  • Born July 7, 1946 Lisa Seagram. I’m noting her here because she was in the Batman episode “Louie, the Lilac” as Lila in which Milton Berle played the title character. She also had one-offs in both The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., plus My Favorite Martian and Bewitched. (Died 2019.)
  • Born July 7, 1931 David Eddings. Prolific and great, with his wife Leigh, they authored several best-selling epic fantasy novel series, including The BelgariadThe Malloreon and The Dreamers to name but three of their series. He’s written but one non-series novel, The Redemption of Althalus. (Died 2009.)
  • Born July 7, 1959 Billy Campbell, 64. There are some films so good in my memory that even the Suck Fairy can’t spoil them and The Rocketeer in which he played stunt pilot Cliff Secord is one of them. (IDW did a hardcover edition called Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures which Amazon has it for a mere twenty bucks! And the ePub is available from the usual suspects for a mere five dollars and ninety nine cents.) Yes, he did other work of genre interest including the main role of Jordan Collier on The 4400, Quincey Morris on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Captain Thadiun Okona in “The Outrageous Okona” episode of Next Gen, the Maine Dr. Alan Farragut on Helix and he’s currently voicing Okona once again on Prodigy.
  • Born July 7, 1968 Jeff VanderMeer, 55. Ok I’ll admit that I’m ambivalent about the Southern Reach Trilogy and am not sure if it’s brilliant or not though it is I’ll say quite disturbing. (Haven’t seen the film and have no desire to so.) I will say the pirate anthology he and his wife Anne did, Fast Ships, Black Sails, is quite tasty reading.  Now let’s see what the Hugos would hold for him. At Noreascon 4 for The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases which I truly, madly love, he got a Hugo. He along with his Ann picked up at Anticipation up one for Best Semiprozine: for Weird Tales. It would be nominated the next year at Aussiecon 4 but Clarkesworld would win as it would the Renovation losing out again to ClarkesworldThe Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature which he co-edited with  S. J. Chambers was nominated at Chicon 7. Another Best Related Work was nominated at Loncon 3, Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction. Finally the film Annihilation based off the Southern Reach trilogy was nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo at Dublin 2019. 
  • Born July 7, 1987 V.E. Schwab, 36. I’m very pleased with her A Darker Shade of Magic which explores magicians in a parallel universe London. It’s part of her Shades of Magic series. Highly recommended. Her Cassidy Blake series is also good provided you’re a Potter fan because she makes a lot of references to that series.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Arlo and Janis know there’s always someone ready to jump in and correct the details. Just like in the comments here!

(12) THE VOID CAPTAINS. Mark and Evelyn Leeper today reminded people of the history of their prolific fanzine in today’s issue, the 2278th MT VOID:

The MT VOID started as a zine for the newly formed Science Fiction Club at Bell Labs in Holmdel in August 1978, but we have always been the editors (and primary writers).  It has been weekly for decades, and has continued even after we retired and the Science Fiction Club dissolved.  The current issue is #2278, making it (I’m pretty sure) the perzine with the most issues ever, and at 45 years, one of the longest running.

In July 1981, our area was split off and moved to Lincroft.  At that point we thought we needed to spin off a new club, so we started re-numbering the MT VOID (not yet called that) at that point.  Hence the volume roll-over in July.  Eventually we ended up remerging the clubs and newsletters, but kept the new numbering.

At some point in the 1980s we also renamed the club as the “Mt.  Holz Science Fiction Club”.  “Mt. Holz” came from the inter-company mail designations for the three New Jersey locations of AT&T et al where we once had meetings:
MT Middletown
HO Holmdel
LZ Lincroft

As the work environment changed, meetings eventually ended, but the MT VOID kept rolling along.  We retained the “Mt. Holz” name in the heading until last year, when we decided it was misleading to pretend there was an actual club behind this.  [-mrl/ecl]

(13) GOING DOWN TO THE SECOND. “After ‘Barbie,’ Mattel Is Raiding Its Entire Toybox” says The New Yorker.

In 2019, Greta Gerwig became the latest in a line of writers, directors, and producers to make a pilgrimage to a toy workshop in El Segundo, California. Touring the facility, the Mattel Design Center, has become a rite of passage for Hollywood types who are considering transforming one of the company’s products into a movie—a list that now includes such names as J. J. Abrams (Hot Wheels) and Vin Diesel (Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots). The building has hundreds of workspaces for artists, model-makers, and project managers, and it houses elaborate museum-style exhibitions that document the company’s history and core products. These displays can help a toy designer find inspiration; they can also offer a “brand immersion”—a crash course in a Mattel property slated for adaptation. When a V.I.P. visits, Richard Dickson, a tall, bespectacled man who is the company’s chief operating officer, plays the role of Willy Wonka. He’ll show off the sixty-five-year-old machines that are still used to affix fake hair to Barbies; he’ll invite you to inspect life-size, road-ready replicas of Hot Wheels cars. The center even boasts a giant rendering of Castle Grayskull, the fearsome ancestral home of He-Man. “The brand immersion is the everything moment,” Dickson told me. “I have met with some of the greatest artists, truly, in the world. . . . And, if you don’t walk out drinking the Kool-Aid, then it was a great playdate, but maybe we don’t continue playing.”

The actress Margot Robbie, who had toured the center in 2018, wanted to continue playing. She’d signed up for a Barbie movie, and had approached Gerwig about writing the script. She saw in Gerwig’s filmography the right combination of intelligence and heart: “You watch something like ‘Little Women,’ and the dialogue is very, very clever—it’s talking about some big things—but it’s also extremely emotional.” The project wasn’t an obvious fit for someone whose screenplays included the subtle dramas “Lady Bird” and “Frances Ha,” and Gerwig wavered for more than a year. At one point, Dickson called her when she was mixing “Little Women” in New York. “I don’t have a ton of friends in corporate America,” she told me, over Zoom. “But he was very excited. It was sweet.” She finally agreed to come to El Segundo…

(14) ASCENDING MT. TBR. Camestros Felapton is catching up on his reading: “Review: The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher”.

…The book makes no apologies and shows no respect for genre boundaries. With a chatty, out-going narrator, multiple sections about the trials of clearing out the home of a hoarder, friendly neighbours and a welcoming coffee shop, the story has many elements associated with, dare I say, “cosy” fiction. The latter sections head more into the realm of portal-fantasy. However, these elements are simply flesh hung upon the bones of the horror of thoughts that overwhelm you….

(15) BERLITZKRIEG. Everyone laughs as “Harrison Ford Roasts Conan O’Brien Mid-Interview for Having a Han Solo Note Reminder: ‘You Can’t F—ing Remember That?’”Variety has the story.

Harrison Ford roasted Conan O’Brien on a recent episode of the “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” podcast after the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” icon discovered O’Brien had “Han Solo” written down in his notes for the interview. The two men were playfully arguing about Ford’s ancestry, which led O’Brien to consult some info he had jotted down prior to the interview.

“I refer you to this piece of paper right here,” O’Brien said. “That says, ‘Born and raised in Chicago to an Irish German father—’”

Ford leaned over to take a look at O’Brien’s notes and then interrupted the host when he realized they included a reminder that Ford played Han Solo in the “Star Wars” franchise. Along with Indiana Jones, Han Solo is Ford’s most iconic character.

“Well if that’s a quality of your research, and I imagine it is because right there it says ‘Harrison Ford’ and then you had to write ‘Han Solo,’” Ford said. “You can’t fucking remember that?”

“No I can’t. I can’t remember Han Solo,” O’Brien hilariously fired back. “I wrote it down because I heard that you were in some of the ‘Star Wars’ films, and this was news to me because I’ve seen those films and I don’t exactly think that you ‘pop.’”

O’Brien continued, “I’m sorry. But I mean, I remember Chewbacca, I remember the bad guy with the black helmet and then… there’s some people.”

Ford took matters into his own hands, asking O’Brien, “How come you’re not still on television?”…

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Kathy Sullivan, Daniel Dern, 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 Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 6/30/23 “What Is The Use Of A Scroll,” Thought Alice, “Without Pixels Or Conversation?”

(1) A FINE IDEA. “Fake reviews are illegal and subject to big fines under new FTC rules” says the Washington Post’s article about a Federal Trade Commission notice of proposed rulemaking.

Fake reviews are ruining the web. But there’s some new hope to fight them.

The Federal Trade Commission on Friday proposed new rules to take aim at businesses that buy, sell and manipulate online reviews. If the rules are approved, they’ll carry a big stick: a fine of up to $50,000 for each fake review, for each time a consumer sees it.

That could add up fast.

It’s the biggest step to date by the federal government to deter the insidious market for buying and selling fake reviews, though the FTC’s rules don’t do as much to hold big review sites like Yelp, Google, Tripadvisor and Amazon directly accountable. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post. Interim chief executive Patty Stonesifer sits on Amazon’s board.)…

Here’s the FTC press release: “Federal Trade Commission Announces Proposed Rule Banning Fake Reviews and Testimonials”.

…In its notice of proposed rulemaking, the Commission cited examples of clearly deceptive practices involving consumer reviews and testimonials from its past cases, and noted the widespread emergence of generative AI, which is likely to make it easier for bad actors to write fake reviews.

The Commission is seeking comments on proposed measures that would fight these clearly deceptive practices. For example, the proposed rule would prohibit:

  • Selling or Obtaining Fake Consumer Reviews and Testimonials: The proposed rule would prohibit businesses from writing or selling consumer reviews or testimonials by someone who does not exist, who did not have experience with the product or service, or who misrepresented their experiences. It also would prohibit businesses from procuring such reviews or disseminating such testimonials if the businesses knew or should have known that they were fake or false.
  • Review Hijacking: Businesses would be prohibited from using or repurposing a consumer review written for one product so that it appears to have been written for a substantially different product. The FTC recently brought its first review hijacking enforcement action.
  • Buying Positive or Negative Reviews: Businesses would be prohibited from providing compensation or other incentives conditioned on the writing of consumer reviews expressing a particular sentiment, either positive or negative.
  • Insider Reviews and Consumer Testimonials: The proposed rule would prohibit a company’s officers and managers from writing reviews or testimonials of its products or services, without clearly disclosing their relationships. It also would prohibit businesses from disseminating testimonials by insiders without clear disclosures of their relationships, and it would prohibit certain solicitations by officers or managers of reviews from company employees or their relatives, depending on whether the businesses knew or should have known of these relationships.
  • Company Controlled Review Websites: Businesses would be prohibited from creating or controlling a website that claims to provide independent opinions about a category of products or services that includes its own products or services.
  • Illegal Review Suppression: Businesses would be prohibited from using unjustified legal threats, other intimidation, or false accusations to prevent or remove a negative consumer review. The proposed rule also would bar a business from misrepresenting that the reviews on its website represent all reviews submitted when negative reviews have been suppressed.
  • Selling Fake Social Media Indicators: Businesses would be prohibited from selling false indicators of social media influence, like fake followers or views. The proposed rule also would bar anyone from buying such indicators to misrepresent their importance for a commercial purpose.

(2) NICOLA GRIFFITH WINS FIRST ADCI LITERARY PRIZE. The inaugural ADCI (Authors with Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses) Literary Prize went to Nicola Griffith for Spear (Tordotcom Publishing), “a lyrical, queer reimagining of Arthurian legend, in which ‘those usually airbrushed from history take centre stage’” (Via Ansible.)

The prize, launched in 2022 to encourage greater positive representation of disability in literature, was announced alongside ten other prizes which make up the annual Society of Authors’ Awards. The SoA Awards is the UK’s biggest literary prize fund, worth over £100,000, this year shared between 30 writers, poets and illustrators.

The ADCI Literary Prize. Sponsored by Arts Council England, ALCS, the Drusilla Harvey Memorial Fund, and the Professional Writing Academy, the ADCI Literary Prize is awarded to a disabled or chronically ill writer, for an outstanding novel containing a disabled or chronically ill character or characters. Judged by Penny Batchelor, Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Nydia Hebden, Karl Knights, Julia Lund, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Vikki Patis and Chloe Timms.

(3) CON OR BUST GRANT OPPORTUNITIES. Dream Foundry’s Con or Bust program for creators and fans of color makes direct cash grants to assist with travel, food, registration, and other expenses associated with attending industry events.

If you’re a person of color planning to go to a convention this year and need support, our Con or Bust program is here for you. Right now we have memberships to the following conventions for any Con or Bust qualifying application.

  • Readercon (July 13-16, 2023)
  • Pemmi-con, aka Nasfic (July 20-23, 2023)
  • Capricon (February 1-4, 2024)

If you want one of these memberships, or need other support from this program, you can apply on the Con or Bust page.

(4) DIAL OF DESTINY. Los Angeles Times’ Mary McNamara joins Harrison Ford on a lap of his marathon promotional tour: “’Indiana Jones’: There will never be another Harrison Ford”.

…That said, his desire for “Dial of Destiny” to succeed feels quite personal.

“I wanted to be ambitious, for those things we have not necessarily done in such measure,” he said. When asked what he means by “those things,” he explains in that instantly recognizable, back-straightening “take this seriously” tone. “I mean take a chance on telling the story of an older character, take a chance on introducing your character in present day in a totally anti-iconic way, reducing him to his underwear and a La-Z-Boy with a glass in his hand.

“That moment in film,” he says, relaxing into a laugh, “may be one of my favorite things I’ve ever done in a movie. That and grabbing a baseball bat and going out to the neighbors’.”

… Mostly, he said, he wanted to see Indy “inveigled into one last adventure. I wanted to see him at the nadir, where we could pick him up and kick him in the ass. I know what age is about. I wanted to bring that into the story. If I was going to be the actor playing this guy, I wanted the reality of my age.”

But first, in the film’s opening scene, he had to play a younger Indy, which made the contrast of past and present more striking. Ford’s face was de-aged through the miracle of artificial intelligence and Lucasfilm’s trove of images from the earlier films, but “the mouth is my mouth, the eyes are my eyes,” he said. “The voice is me talking in a higher register because age lowers the voice, and the body language I had to act. But he moves like I move and I remembered.”…

(5) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to bite into a baconless BLT with Jordan Kurella in Episode 201 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Jordan Kurella

This episode’s guest is Jordan Kurella, who was a Nebula Award nominee this year in the category of Best Novella for I Never Liked You Anyway, which was also longlisted for the BSFA award.  His stories have appeared in Beneath Ceaseless SkiesApexMermaid MonthlyGlitter + AshesStrange Horizons, and many other magazines and anthologies. Some of these were gathered in his short story collection, When I Was Lost, published by Trepidatio in December. In his past lives, he was a photographer, radio DJ, and social worker, and he has also taught at Iowa State University and Rambo Academy.

We discussed which ice cream flavor he chose to celebrate his Nebula Award nomination, the way readers can tell which stories writers had the most fun writing, how  all he needs to pants a story is the first line, what caused him to say “it’s not write what you know, it’s write what you’re embarrassed about,” why he doesn’t like to reread his own published work unless he has to, how to avoid getting stuck in rabbit holes of research, the ways writing a book can be like spending time with your best friends, his rule about story titles, why we’re both so attracted to writing love stories, how playing the violin in public prepared him for surviving rejection, why he published only a single piece of literary fiction before realizing the fantastic was where he belonged, and so much more.

(6) SWATTING. NBC News’ report “The FBI has formed a national database to track and prevent ‘swatting’” includes a long Q&A with Patrick Tomlinson.

Author Patrick Tomlinson and his wife, business owner Niki Robinson, have been “swatted” at their home in Milwaukee more than 40 times, often resulting in police pointing guns at their heads. Their tormentors have also called in false bomb threats to venues using their names in three states. Yet law enforcement hasn’t been able to stop the calls.

The couple’s terror comes as these incidents appear to be on the rise in the U.S., at least on college campuses. In less than a single week in April, universities including Clemson, Florida, Boston, Harvard, Cornell, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Oklahoma, as well as Middlebury College, were targeted by swatters.

To combat the growing problem, the FBI has begun taking formal measures to get a comprehensive picture of the problem on a national level.

Chief Scott Schubert with the bureau’s Criminal Justice Information Services headquarters in Clarksburg, West Virginia, told NBC News that the agency formed a national online database in May to facilitate information sharing between hundreds of police departments and law enforcement agencies across the country pertaining to swatting incidents.

… Security expert Lauren R. Shapiro, who is an associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said: “Swatting involves people making fraudulent 911 calls reporting serious-level criminal threats or violent situations like bomb threats, hostages, killing, etc. to fool the police into raiding the house or business of somebody who is not actually committing a crime.”…

… Tomlinson’s troubles began after he posted a casual remark on Twitter in 2018 saying he’d never personally found the comedian Norm Macdonald very funny. As The Daily Beast reported, the tweet caught the attention of online trolls who soon began to harass, stalk, impersonate and defame Tomlinson and his wife, using a website of their own along with social media accounts on Reddit, Twitter and YouTube to target the couple and invite others to pile on. 

Their harassers mostly converge on a website that’s cloned elsewhere so participants can migrate rapidly if their forum is ever banned by a service provider. 

 Since The Daily Beast report, the harassment escalated both online and offline.

The couple was mostly recently swatted at their home on Tuesday, bringing the total of swatting incidents to 43. Tomlinson’s parents, who are senior citizens, also suffered swatting at their home about 2 hours outside of Milwaukee this year…

Whether the FBI’s database will lead to any results is open to question based on past performance.

… At a federal level, Tomlinson filed a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center in November 2020. He never saw a reply to that, so in early May 2022, he went to the Milwaukee branch of the FBI in person to file a new one.

An FBI special agent was assigned to evaluate his case. He says the agency already had a file on Tomlinson because of a false bomb threat that swatters had called into a hotel outside of Detroit in April 2022, a few weeks prior to a presentation he was scheduled to give. The presentation, part of PenguiCon, was titled,”Elon Musk is Full of S—.” 

Since then, “There has been nearly zero communication by the FBI,” Tomlinson said. 

One agent has requested more evidence from his family by email on rare occasions. But the agency has not brought him or his wife in for an interview, and have not arrested people who the couple identified as participants in their harassment and swatting…

(7) CALIFORNIA AVENGERS. Critic Todd Martens tells how “Broadway-style ‘Rogers: The Musical’ charms at Disney’s California Adventure” in the Los Angeles Times.

“Rogers: The Musical” started as a joke in the Disney+ series “Hawkeye,” which presented a challenge for the Disneyland Resort’s live-entertainment team. How, in a 30-minute, heavily condensed Broadway-style show, do you bring a little heft to a production in which fans will be clamoring for cheese? Sure, there’s Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow and the Hulk, among others, but these are superheroes who spend more time flexing jazz hands than muscle.

In the show opening today, directed by Disney’s Jordan Peterson with a book from Hunter Bell, known best for Broadway’s “[title of show],” the answer was simple: heartbreak.

The story of Steve Rogers’ transformation into Captain America is framed by longing — for better days, for acceptance and for love. It allows the production, which veers close to overt patriotism in its opening moments, to find a sense of personal grounding. When an actor playing a young Rogers is framed by an Uncle Sam military recruitment poster, he gets all wistful and rejected: “What’s a guy to do when ‘I want you’ doesn’t mean you?”

Don’t worry, the production doesn’t stay down for long. “Hawkeye” introduced fans to the over-the-top corniness of the song “Save the City,” a work written by Broadway vets Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, and it pops up multiple times, each one leaning into the showtune parody that it is. When it wants to, “Rogers: The Musical” embraces its silliness….

…The musical features five original songs, not counting the previously heard “Save the City” and “Star Spangled Man,” which dates to the film “Captain America: The First Avenger.” The new works are credited to composer Christopher Lennertz, with lyrics by Peterson, Lennertz and Alex Karukas. None quite reach the heights of “Save the City,” which went all out in its showtune glitz. “Rogers: The Musical” comes off as a series of puzzle pieces constructed around that signature number.

Lennertz, a composer with a lengthy résumé of film and television credits, including Marvel’s “Agent Carter,” plays it more low-key. The new works largely attempt to take “Rogers” out of parody mode, a decision that accounts for a series of tonal shifts and results in a theatrical mood that’s not quite serious yet not fully goofy.

(8) CSI SKILL TREE. The latest episode in the ASU Center for Science and Imagination’s Skill Tree series on video games, possible futures, and worldbuilding is out, featuring the award-winning science fiction roleplaying game Citizen Sleeper (2022). This episode’s guests are Gareth Damian Martin, the game’s developer, and Phoebe Wagner, a speculative fiction author, researcher, and editor of three solarpunk anthologies, including Sunvault. Here’s a link to the entire Skill Tree playlist, with 12 episodes so far.

(9) ALAN ARKIN (1934-2023). Four-time Oscar nominee Alan Arkin, who won Best Supporting Actor for Little Miss Sunshine (2007), died June 30 at the age of 89. He was perhaps best known for playing Yossarian in Catch-22 but his other three Oscar nominations honored his portrayals of deaf-mute Singer in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Russian Lt. Rozanov in one of my favorite movies, The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, and the has-been producer Lester Siegel in the genre-adjacent Argo.  

In Argo (2012), Arkin played the fictional producer of a fake sff movie that provided cover for a CIA operation to rescue Americans caught up in the Iranian Revolution of 1979. He acted in collaboration with a character based on real-life Planet of the Apes makeup man John Chambers, played by John Goodman.

Within the sff genre Arkin did a lot of voice work late in his career – including Dumbo (2019) and Minions: Rise of Gru (2022), but early on voiced Schmendrick in The Last Unicorn (1982).

He’s been in a Muppets movie, in The Monitors (1969), in the film adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s Mother Night (1996), played Detective Hugo in Gattaca (1997), The Chief in the movie Get Smart (2008). He had parts in The Seven Percent Solution (Dr. Sigmund Freud — 1976) Edward Scissorhands (1990), and The Rocketeer (1991).

Arkin also won a Tony for his Broadway debut in 1963’s Enter Laughing.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1989 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

This time Mike picked one of my favorite writers, Sheri S. Tepper. Her series have too many exemplary books to list them all and her standalone novels such as Singer from the Sea and The Companions are excellent as well.

She’s been nominated for a lot of Awards but garnered only two, one of which is the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. Grass, the source of our Beginning this time, was published by the Doubleday Foundation in 1989 (one of their first books was Asimov’s Prelude to Foundation), and was a Hugo finalist at ConFiction. 

And it has an absolutely stunning Beginning as you can read here…

Millions of square miles of it; numberless wind-whipped tsunamis of grass, a thousand sun-lulled caribbeans of grass, a hundred rippling oceans, every ripple a gleam of scarlet or amber, emerald or turquoise, multicolored as rainbows, the colors shivering over the prairies in stripes and blotches, the grasses—some high, some low, some feathered, some straight—making their own geography as they grow. There are grass hills where the great plumes tower in masses the height of ten tall men; grass valleys where the turf is like moss, soft under the feet, where maidens pillow their heads thinking of their lovers, where husbands lie down and think of their mistresses; grass groves where old men and women sit quiet at the end of the day, dreaming of things that might have been, perhaps once were. Commoners all, of course. No aristocrat would sit in the wild grass to dream. Aristocrats have gardens for that, if they dream at all.

Grass. Ruby ridges, blood-colored highlands, wine-shaded glades. Sapphire seas of grass with dark islands of grass bearing great plumy green trees which are grass again. Interminable meadows of silver hay where the great grazing beasts move in slanted lines like mowing machines, leaving the stubble behind them to spring up again in trackless wildernesses of rippling argent. 

Orange highlands burning against the sunsets. Apricot ranges glowing in the dawns. Seed plumes sparkling like sequin stars. Blossom heads like the fragile lace old women take out of trunks to show their granddaughters.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 30, 1902 Lovat Dickson. Australian-born publisher and author who wrote a biography of H G Wells, H G Wells: His Turbulent Life and Times. He was the first Canadian to have a major publishing role in Britain. (Died 1982.)
  • Born June 30, 1905 Nestor Paiva. Sometimes it only takes one film or series for a performer to get a Birthday write-up from me. Paiva makes it for Lucas the boat captain in The Creature from the Black Lagoon and its oft-forgotten sequel Revenge of the Creature. Though that was hardly his only genre role as his first role was in the early Forties as an uncredited prison guard in Tarzan’s Desert Mystery and he’d be in many a genre film and series over the decades as Prof. Etienne Lafarge in The Mole People, as the saloon owner in (I kid you not!) Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, Felicity’s Father in The Spirit Is Willing, Captain Grimby in “The Great Treasure Hunt” of The Adams Family and a Doorman in the “Our Man in Leotards” episode of Get Smart. (Died 1966.)
  • Born June 30, 1920 Sam Moskowitz. SF writer, critic, and historian. Chair of the very first World Science Fiction Convention held in NYC in 1939. He barred several Futurians from the con because they threatened to disrupt it in which was later called the Great Exclusion Act. In the Fifties, He edited Science-Fiction Plus, a short-lived genre magazine owned by Hugo Gernsback, and would edit several dozen anthologies, and a few single-author collections, most published in the Sixties and early Seventies. His most enduring legacy was as a historian of the genre with such works as Under the Moons of Mars: A History and Anthology of “The Scientific Romance” in the Munsey Magazines, 1912–1920 and Hugo Gernsback: Father of Science Fiction. (Died 1997.)
  • Born June 30, 1959 Vincent D’Onofrio, 64. His long running-role is Detective Goren on Law and Order: Criminal Intent which is in no way genre. He was Kingpin in Wilson Fisk / Kingpin in four television series of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Edgar the Bug in the only truly great Men in Black film to date and Vic Hoskins in Jurassic World. He also was Jason Whitney / Jerry Ashton in The Thirteenth Floor, loosely based upon Simulacron-3, a early Sixties novel by Daniel F. Galouye.
  • Born June 30, 1963 Rupert S. Graves, 60. Here because he played Inspector G. Lestrade on that Sherlock series. He also appeared on Doctor Who as Riddell in the Eleventh Doctor story, “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”. He had one-offs in The Nightmare Worlds of H. G. Wells: The MothTwelve MonkeysKrypton and Return of the Saint
  • Born June 30, 1966 Peter Outerbridge, 57. Dr. David Sandström in what I think is the terribly underrated ReGenesis series as well as being Henrik “Hank” Johanssen in Orphan Black and a recurring role on Millennium as Special Agent Barry Baldwin. He’s currently in two series, The Umbrella Academy with a recurring role as The Conductor, and as Calix Niklosin in V-Wars, yet another Netflix SF series. 
  • Born June 30, 1972 Molly Parker, 51. Maureen Robinson on the Lost in Space series. One-offs in Nightmare Cafe, The Outer Limits, The SentinelHighlander: The SeriesPoltergeist: The LegacyHuman Target and she appeared in The Wicker Man as Sister Rose / Sister Thorn. She also was Alma Garret on Deadwood. No, not genre but Emma and Will love the series. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) WIDOWMAKER. Sarah Gailey will be writing Marvel’s White Widow comic reports The Mary Sue: “Yelena Belova Fans, Our Time Is Now With This New ‘White Widow’ Comic!”

Being a fan of Yelena Belova keeps getting better and better. The younger sister of Natasha Romanoff, Yelena is also a widow and is everything that a sassy younger sister could be. And now she’s getting her very own time in the spotlight with a new comic series! First appearing in 1998, Belova quickly became a popular character for fans of Nat but she gained a new level of fame when Florence Pugh took on the role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Getting her own comic storyline is just exciting evidence of how popular Yelena Belova has grown throughout the last twenty-five years. As someone who relates to Yelena Belova a lot (and she’s one of my all-time favorite Marvel characters), this comic makes me incredibly excited for the future of her character!

Called White Widow, the series is created by writer Sarah Gailey and they worked along side artist Alessandro Miracolo to bring her to life. David Marquez gave us a perfectly Yelena cover and the entire reveal is a dream come true for fans. Sometimes, you wait a long time to see a character you love get their time in the spotlight and that’s exactly what is happening with White Widow. She’s not the little sister in Nat’s shadow anymore with this series!

(14) AI IN CINEMA. [Item by Steven French.] The Guardian seems to be having a bit of a bout of listmania these days but this one contains some interesting recommendations: “The best films about AI – ranked!”

16. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

The first Avengers sequel isn’t particularly good, but at least it introduced cinema to the AI lifeform Ultron. Tasked with sparing the Avengers from having to suit up whenever a new baddie rolls into town, Ultron quickly realises that the greatest threat to world peace is humanity and – in time-honoured AI fashion – attempts to eradicate it himself. The moral of Age of Ultron is clear: trust AI less than the irresponsible billionaires who invented it.

(15) FUTURE TENSE. The June story in the Future Tense Fiction monthly series is “The Big Four v. ORWELL,” by Jeff Hewitt, about a copyright lawsuit against a prolific AI author.

The response essay is by sff novelist Ken Liu, “The Imitation Game”.

… But what about ChatGPT-5, ChatGPT-15, or ChatGPT-55? Assuming this goes on, in classic science fiction fashion, the LLMs will surely continue to blur the lines between artificial and “real” authors. That blurriness is the setup for Jeff Hewitt’s “The Big Four v. ORWELL,” a courtroom drama in which a group of publishers sue ORWELL, an A.I. that has become a prolific author, for copyright infringement.

I have my doubts that the current approach to building LLMs, essentially an exercise in statistically predicting the most likely next “token” given a string of tokens, can lead to the holy grail of artificial general intelligence, an imagined state of crafted cognition capable of accomplishing any intellectual task a human can. (ORWELL definitely appears to be an AGI.) Symbol manipulation alone, without more, must plateau at some point short of “true” intelligence—or so I tell myself (using strings of symbols, of course, smug with irony). To be sure, there is reason to be humble here. Decades ago, when I was studying A.I. in college, the idea that anything resembling the current brute-force approach could construct a virtual entity that could tutor you on any subject you liked, compose college essays, and even answer personal ads would have seemed like handwavium sci-fi. And yet, here we are. So, maybe I’m wrong about the future this time too….

(16) SERVING KAIJU CHOW. “Taiwan restaurant launches ‘Godzilla’ crocodile ramen” reports Taiwan News. These days there’s always a suspicion that such a photo is produced with AI, but the ingredient seems plausible.

A restaurant in Douliu City, Yunlin County debuted its “Godzilla” ramen featuring crocodile meat as its main ingredient.

Nu Wu Mao Kuei (女巫貓葵) announced on Facebook the launch of its “Godzilla” ramen, which is prepared by steaming or braising the front leg of a crocodile. In a clip, a young female customer samples both flavors and describes the dish as surprisingly delicious.

She says the steamed version of the dish resembles chicken, while the braised meat has a taste similar to pork feet. The soup contains over 40 spices, and the owner reportedly learned how to make the spicy “witch soup” during a trip to Thailand, SETN reported

The crocodiles used for this dish are sourced from a farm in Taitung. The owner was inspired by the giant isopods ramen, which went viral at another restaurant.

(17) TYPECASTING. [Item by Tom Becker.] Womprat is a bold font, inspired by the classic “STAR WARS” text on the movie poster. But that is just the beginning. There are alternate character sets, ligatures, symbols, and special glyphs galore. It is clearly the work of obsessive font geeks who are also massive Star Wars fans. It is a delight just to browse the glyphs or the free desktop background at http://womprat.xyz

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. From Good Omens’ second season: “What’s The Point Of It All? – Season 2 Sneak Peek”.

A brand new Good Omens Season 2 clip from the upcoming return of Amazon Studios’ fantasy comedy series has been released, featuring David Tennant as Crowley. The next installment will be available for streaming on July 28 on Prime Video.

The video confirms Crowley’s current status in Hell as persona non grata, as the fan-favorite demon continues to question the point of Heaven and Hell. It also features Miranda Richardson’s newest character, who has now assumed the role of Hell’s representative in London after previously playing the role of Madame Tracy in Season 1.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Steven French, Juli Marr, Tom Becker, Lise Andreasen, Joey Eschrich, Michael Toman, 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 Jayn.]

All-Star Creators Celebrate the Legacy of Captain America in Milestone 750th Issue

The next era of Captain America begins in July’s Captain America #750. The monumental issue will be a prelude to the future of the Captain America mythos, revealing the fate of Steve Rogers, Sam Wilson, Bucky Barnes, and Sharon Carter. Check out all the covers for Captain America #750, on sale July 5.

Over the last month, Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson have been embroiled in the pulse-pounding events of Captain America: Cold War. The thrilling crossover is testing Steve and Sam’s bond as they go up against White Wolf and Bucky Barnes who have joined forces to unleash the power of Dimension Z! This game-changing epic will have a heavy impact on both Captains and its devastating aftermath will hit just in time for a major Captain America milestone! Witness what’s to come next in a jam-packed over-sized issue, Captain America #750.

The Captains America mourn their fallen! After the harrowing events of Captain America: Cold War, the Captains America return home to face the cost of victory and honor the power of legacy. Writer Tochi Onyebuchi and artist RB Silva reveal the secret origin of Sam Wilson’s new shield and the reason he chose to pick up the mantle again. Writers Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing and artist Carmen Carnero bring readers the tumultuous reunion of Steve and Bucky. Is there a way forward? Plus, don’t miss a bold new direction for Sharon Carter!

In addition, Captain America #750 will include all-new backup stories starring both Steve and Sam.

Check out all the covers following the jump. For more information, visit Marvel.com.

Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 6/6/23 The Magic Morlock, So Pixeled And So New

(1) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Nathan Ballingrud and Dale Bailey on Wednesday, June 14 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Where: KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs).

Nathan Ballingrud

Nathan Ballingrud is the author of The StrangeWounds: Six Stories from the Border of Hell, and North American Lake Monsters, which won the Shirley Jackson Award. A novella, Crypt of the Moon Spider, will appear in 2024. He has been shortlisted for the World Fantasy, British Fantasy, and Bram Stoker Awards. His stories have been adapted into the Hulu series Monsterland. He lives in Asheville, NC.

Dale Bailey

Dale Bailey is the author of This Island Earth: 8 Features From the Drive-In and eight previous books, including In the Night Wood and The End of the End of Everything. His story “Death and Suffrage” was adapted for Showtime’s Masters of Horror television series. He has won the Shirley Jackson Award and the International Horror Guild Award, and has been a finalist for the World Fantasy, Nebula, Locus, and Bram Stoker awards. He lives in North Carolina with his family.

(2) THESE FIGURES ADD UP. Cora Buhlert’s latest Masters of the Universe action figure photo story is “The Prisoner of Castle Grayskull Revisited”.

Masters of the Universe: Revelation never really goes into what happens to Duncan, after Lyn gets the Power. We only see him again, after he has escaped from the dungeon with the help of the tentacled creature known as the Orlax of Primeria and joins the battle outside Castle Grayskull.

But would Lyn really ignore her favourite prisoner? I don’t think so, so let’s see what happens when the powered up Lyn goes to see Duncan in the dungeon.

In the dungeons deep underneath Castle Grayskull…

(3) SPIDER-VERSE NETS BIG DOLLARS. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse opened to $120.5 million in North America, the third-biggest opening ever for an animated film, as well as a best-ever for Sony Animation. According to Deadline:

Among all animated pic domestic openings, Spider-Verse is sixth behind Incredibles 2 ($182.6 million), Super Mario Bros ($146.3 million), Finding Dory ($135 million), Frozen 2 ($130.2 million) and Toy Story 4 ($120.9 million). 

NPR analyzes why the film is drawing a big audience in “’Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ stats show how representation works”.

Turns out inclusivity also means more people want to give you their money! The early box office figures for the new Spider-Man film — and the demographic data of moviegoers — paint a vivid picture.

Who is he? There are plenty of variations on who Spider-Man is, and now Miles Morales is getting the spotlight….

What’s the big deal? The most recent film in the series, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has made even bigger headlines and received rave reviews.

  • The film grossed $208 million worldwide in its opening weekend, roughly three times as much as the opening of the first film, as reported by NPR’s critic, Bob Mondello.
  • And while in his review Mondello cites the inventive animation and plot as contributing to the success, he says that the diversity on screen was a huge draw for audiences.
  • That ranges from the main hero portrayed by Shameik Moore, to the several Spider-women featured, as well as the India based Spider-guy, Pavitr Prabhakar.
  • According to Mondello’s reporting, the film opened strongly in 59 countries. In North America, exit tracking found that the audience was about one-third Latino and another third Black and Asian, diversity percentages far higher than for most superhero films.

(4) COULD IT BE…TRINITROTRITICALE? The filmmaker insisted on a real crop of wheat for scenes in his movie.“Zack Snyder Goes Galactic: Exclusive First Look at ‘Rebel Moon’” at Vanity Fair.

Zack Snyder is world-building once again with Rebel Moon. This time the 300 and Justice League filmmaker is creating not just one world but a sprawling menagerie of planets, full of cyborg warriors with molten-metal swords, giant half-humanoid arachnids, and ancient robots that seem to have emerged more from medieval times than the future. The new Netflix space saga that Snyder directed and cowrote extends far beyond the verdant orb of the title. That moon is actually one of the more modest worlds. It circles an immense gas giant at a distant edge of the galaxy and is populated mainly by farmers. It’s nowhere special, but it’s about to change the balance of power in this fictional universe.

While any sci-fi extravaganza naturally features copious digital effects, Snyder also used his estimated budget of at least $166 million to manifest as much of it in real life as possible. In a Santa Clarita canyon just outside Los Angeles, a full-size abandoned starfighter decays not far from what appears to be an idyllic Scandinavian-style village, complete with clusters of homes, shops, and barns, as well as a stone bridge arching over a crystalline river. (Team Snyder also built the river.) Vast fields of actual wheat sprout from desert hardpan never meant for such lush growth, but Snyder insisted on real crops for his farmers to harvest and defend. Just over the rocky hillside sits another Rebel Moon set for a larger community known as Providence that looks like an Old West metropolis.  All of these are just locations on the moon of the title; there are other worlds beyond.…

(5) FILM HAS NEW NAME BUT YOU’LL RECOGNIZE THE SHIELD. Yahoo! is on hand when “Marvel Announces ‘Captain America 4’ Retitled as ‘Brave New World’”.

…Brave New World comes on the heels of the events of Avengers: Endgame and the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The former saw Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers pass the Captain America shield on to Mackie’s Sam Wilson, who had been serving as hero Falcon since Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which released in 2014…

(6) GRIFANT Q&A. Space Cowboys Books will host an online reading and interview with KC Grifant on Tuesday June 13 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free here.

In an Old West overrun by monsters, a stoic gunslinger must embark on a dangerous quest to save her friends and stop a supernatural war. Sharpshooter Melinda West, 29, has encountered more than her share of supernatural creatures after a monster infection killed her mother. Now, Melinda and her charismatic partner, Lance, offer their exterminating services to desperate towns, fighting everything from giant flying scorpions to psychic bugs. But when they accidentally release a demon, they must track a dangerous outlaw across treacherous lands and battle a menagerie of creatures-all before an army of soul-devouring monsters descend on Earth. Supernatural meets Bonnie and Clyde in a re-imagined Old West full of diverse characters, desolate landscapes, and fast-paced adventure.
Get your copy of Melinda West: Monster Gunslinger here.

(7) DENNY LIEN MEMORIAL ITEMS. A memorial celebration was held on June 2 for Minneapolis fan Denny Lien, who died April 15.

The photo stream about Denny Lien’s life put together by David Dyer-Bennett for the memorial celebration (which was not screened due to equipment problems) can be viewed on DD-B’s Facebook feed.

At the memorial co-editors Karen Schaffer and Geri Sullivan distributed copies of the 32-page sampler of Denny’s fanwriting, LienZine, now available at eFanzines. Their introduction begins:

Denny Lien was Minneapolis fandom’s gentle giant. He was a research librarian at the University of Minnesota, and a mainstay of Minneapolis fandom back in the day. His height and impressive muttonchops could be intimidating on first encounter, but his quiet and calm demeanor was reassuring. He was also a prolific, erudite, and funny writer, with a fondness for parodies, puns, and imaginative flights of speculation. His letters to newspapers range from stern factual corrections to delightful skewering of logical fallacies. He wrote columns and articles for science fiction fanzines and APAs (Amateur Press Associations). He exercised his skill for parody in musical lyrics, especially in the beloved local production of Midwest Side Story. He even enlivened the minutes from the local science fiction club Minn-StF during his times as secretary.

For this memorial fanzine, we tried to include a representative cross section of his prodigious output, though we undoubtedly missed many gems. Perhaps you, the reader, will discover more someday. 

They suggest if LienZine leaves you looking to make a donation in Denny’s memory, make it to the Down Under Fan Fund or Habitat for Humanity.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2010[Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Catherine Asaro is the writer who provides our Beginning this Scroll. 

She is best known for her books about the Ruby Dynasty, called the Saga of the Skolian Empire.  The Ruby Dice, one of those novels,is the source of our Beginning. 

It was first published thirteen years ago by Baen Books and in audio format by Recorded Books. 

Digging around the net, I discovered the Point Valid band had worked with her. Their second CD, Diamond Star, released fourteen years ago, is considered the soundtrack for Asaro’s novel of that name. She provides vocals on several tracks including “Ancient Ages” and her voice is quite excellent indeed. That album is available on Apple Music and I assume elsewhere. 

It’s worth noting that she’s a member of SIGMA, a think tank of speculative writers that advises the government as to future trends affecting national security.  

My favorite works by her are this series plus The Quantum Rose series and her last novel, The Jigsaw Assassin.  I can’t say that I’ve read he short fiction, so do tell me about it please. 

And now for The Ruby Dice Beginning…

Prologue

The Emperor of the Eubian Concord ruled the largest empire ever known to the human race, over two trillion people across more than a thousand worlds and habitats. It was a thriving, teeming civilization of beautiful complexity, and if it was also the greatest work of despotism in all history, its ruling caste had managed to raise their denial of that truth also to heights greater than ever before known.

Lost in such thoughts, the emperor stood in a high room of his palace and stared out a floor-to-ceiling window at the nighttime city below. The sparkle of its lights created a visual sonata that soothed his vision, if not his heart. At the age of twenty-six, Jaibriol the Third had weathered nine years of his own rule. Somehow, despite the assassination attempts, betrayals, and gilt-edged cruelty of his life, he survived.

Tonight the emperor grieved.

He mourned the loss of his innocence and his joy in life. His title was a prison as confining as the invisible bonds that held the billions of slaves he owned and wished he could free.

Most of all, he mourned his family. Ten years ago tonight, his parents had died in a spectacular explosion recorded and broadcast a million times across settled space. In the final battle of the Radiance War between his people and the Skolian Imperialate, the ship carrying his parents had detonated. He had seen that recording again and again, until it was seared into his mind.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 6, 1947 Robert Englund, 76. I think his best performance was as Blackie on the very short-lived Nightmare Cafe. Of course, most will remember him playing Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. He actually appeared in a couple of now forgotten horror films, Dead & Buried and Galaxy of Terror, before landing that role. And he’s continued to do myriad horror films down to the years ranging from CHUD to Strippers vs Werewolves. Versatile man, our Robert.  
  • Born June 6, 1951 Geraldine McCaughrean, 72. Fifteen years ago, she wrote Peter Pan in Scarlet, the official sequel to Peter Pan commissioned by Great Ormond Street Hospital, the holder of Peter Pan’s copyright which J.M. Barrie granted them. So has anyone here read it? 
  • Born June 6, 1959 Amanda Pays, 64. I first encountered her as Thero Jones on Max Headroom, a series I think could be considered the best SF series ever made. She also had a guest role as Phoebe Green in the episode “Fire” of The X-Files, and and as Christina “Tina” McGee in The Flash. She appeared as Dawn in the Spacejacked film. 
  • Born June 6, 1961 Lisabeth Shatner, 62. Uncredited as a child along with her sister Melanie in “Miri” episode. Also appeared uncredited on TekWar entitled “Betrayal” which she wrote. The latter also guest-starred her sister, and was directed by their father.  Co-wrote with father, Captain’s Log: William Shatner’s Personal Account of the Making of Star Trek V the Final Frontier.
  • Born June 6, 1963 Jason Isaacs, 60. Captain Gabriel Lorca, the commanding officer of the USS Discovery in the first season of Discovery and also provided the voice of The Inquisitor, Sentinel, in Star Wars Rebels, and Admiral Zhao in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Oh, and the role of playing Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter film franchise.
  • Born June 6, 1973 Guy Haley, 50. British author of the Richards & Klein Investigations series, a cyberpunk noir series where the partners are an android and an AI. His regular paycheck comes from his Warhammer 40,000 work where he’s written a baker’s dozen novels so far. Not surprisingly, he’s got a novel coming out in their Warhammer Crime imprint which, though I’ve read no other Warhammer 40.000 fiction, I’m interested in seeing how they do it.
  • Born June 6, 1973 Patrick Rothfuss, 50. He is best known for the Kingkiller Chronicle series, which won him several awards, including the 2007 Quill Award for his first novel, The Name of the Wind. He also won the Gemmell Award for The Wise Man’s Fear. Before The Name of the Wind was released, an excerpt from the novel was released as a short story titled “The Road to Levinshir” and it won the Writers of the Future contest in 2002. 

(10) DRAWN FROM THE SOURCE. Publishers Weekly’s questions about her latest book leads them to revelations about “Tananarive Due’s Haunted History”.

Tananarive Due’s new novel The Reformatory (Saga, Aug.) opens with this dedication: “For Robert Stephens, my great-uncle who died at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida, in 1937. He was fifteen years old.”

Due learned of Stephens’s existence 10 years ago, when she got a call from the Florida state attorney general’s office telling her she likely had a relative buried at the Dozier School, a reform school operated by the state from 1900 to 2011 that has become notorious for its horrific abuse of students. This brutality resulted in the deaths of dozens of boys who were then buried on the premises. After getting the call, Due and her father traveled to the site and attended a meeting of survivors.

Speaking via Zoom from her home office in Upland, Calif., clad in black and with posters for several of her works framed on the wall behind her, Due recalls the meeting: “I heard the firsthand testimony of survivors, Black and white, and the things that they had been through,” she says. “Some of those stories I will just never forget.”

Due mentions a man who spoke about receiving a beating so violent that the school physician had to remove pieces of his clothing from the lash marks on his back. “And this was a white man,” she notes, “which I say because if you’re talking about the segregation era, the 1960s and the 1950s, if they’re treating white students like that—white prisoners—you can only imagine how they’re treating the Black prisoners.”

Learning of her personal connection to the institution inspired Due to write The Reformatory, a ghost story that fictionalizes the experience of her great-uncle at Dozier. It’s set in 1950, when 12-year-old Black boy Robert Stephens is convicted of the crime of kicking a white boy. After being sent to the Gracetown Reformatory for Boys, Stephens finds himself under the jurisdiction of the sadistic Superintendent Haddock.

The school is also crawling with the “haints,” or ghosts, of boys who were killed there, and Haddock soon discovers that Robert has a gift for spotting them….

… “My real wish was to create almost a historical fable,” Due says, “but built on reality, where I could raise awareness about the horrible things that happened at the Dozier School and in the Jim Crow South in general.” Using the format of a ghost story also allowed her to put a spotlight on a broken criminal justice system “without retraumatizing readers.”…

(11) ZILLIONS OF CATEGORIES, MISTER RICO! [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Oh my good ghod there are tons and tons and tons of categories here. And, despite the name of the award, it covers a lot more than just trailers. All that said, quite a percentage of the nominees are genre or genre related. “Golden Trailer Awards Nominations List: ‘Stranger Things,’ ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,’ ‘Ted Lasso’ & ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ Among Most Nominated” at Deadline.

The Golden Trailer Awards has unveiled its nominees for its 23rd annual extravaganza taking place on Thursday, June 29th at The Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles. The awards show honors the creative teams that are tasked with condensing two-hour films into two-minute trailers.

Films that received the most mentions include Black Panther: Wakanda ForeverDungeons & Dragons: Honor Among ThievesGlass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Nope and Oppenheimer. The TV series that were the most nominated included Ted LassoStranger Things and Only Murders in the Building.

This awards show highlights the phenomenal trailers from the current year. The 2023 jury comprises an illustrious lineup of A-list directors, producers, actors, writers, executives, and advertising creatives. Winners are awarded in categories such as Best Action, Comedy, Drama, Documentary, Horror, Foreign, Video Game, Romance, and more….

(12) TRANSFORMERS FRANCHISE POPULARITY RANKING. With the premiere this week of Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, JustWatch has checked how many people are viewing the various films in the Transformers franchise.

Classic Transformers claims the first position, followed closely by Bumblebee in second place, which outshines the third-ranked Transformers: The Last Knight. The sixth spot is occupied by Transformers: Dark of the Moon. completing the lineup.

(13) DON’T LET IT BUG YOU. Mant (1993) is the story of a man who has mutated into a giant ant.

This 16-minute film in glorious black and white is the complete ‘film within a film’, which was featured in Joe Dante’s Matinee from 1993. A parody or homage morphing of several low-budget science-fiction horror films of the 1950s (many in black & white) that fused radioactivity with mad science and mutation.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Good Omens Season 2 Opening Title Sequence has been released.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/2/23 I Thought Muddy Waters Scrolled That Pixel

(1) JMS RETURNS TO MARVEL IN CAPTAIN AMERICA #1. Marvel Comics has announced that writer and filmmaker J. Michael Stracyznski will return this September in Captain America #1. Marvel previously shared the news with io9.

Stracyznski has written fan-favorite stories including AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and THORand now he’s ready to embark on a new adventure with Marvel’s star-spangled hero! Alongside superstar artist Jesús Saiz (PUNISHER, DOCTOR STRANGE), the talented duo is ready to take Steve Rogers on an exhilarating new adventure.

Decades ago, Steve Rogers changed the world forever. Now powerful and insidious forces are assembling to ensure he never does it again. Past, present and future collide as the man out of time reckons with an existential threat determined to set the world on a darker path at any cost…

 Speaking with io9, Straczynski says, “Overall, the goal is to do some really challenging stories, some really fun stories, and get inside Steve’s head to see who he really is in ways that may not have been fully explored before. If folks like what I did with Peter in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, and Thor in, well… THOR, then they should give this a shot, because I’m really swinging for the bleachers in this one!”

 See the cover by Jesús Saiz below.

(2) ARTIFACTS OF AFROFUTURISM. The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC is displaying “Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures” through March 24, 2024. An online version of the exhibit is here.

Investigating Afrofuturist expression through art, music, activism and more, this exhibition explores and reveals Afrofuturism’s historic and poignant engagement with African American history and popular culture. From the enslaved looking to the cosmos for freedom to popular sci-fi stories inspiring Black astronauts, to the musical influence of Sun Ra, OutKast, Janelle Monae, P-Funk and more, this exhibition covers the broad and impactful spectrum of Afrofuturism.

A highlight of the exhibition is the Black Panther hero costume worn by the late Chadwick Boseman. The Black Panther is the first superhero of African descent to appear in mainstream American comics, and the film itself is the first major cinematic production based on the character.

The exhibition also utilizes select objects to elevate stories that speak to Black liberation and social equality, such as Trayvon Martin’s flight suit from Experience Aviation, and his childhood dream of being an astronaut.

Companion book: Afrofuturism: A History of Black FuturesNational Museum of African American History and Culture, Kevin Strait, and Kinshasha Holman Conwill

(3) SOMETIMES THEY DO GET WEARY. Mark Roth-Whitworth says, “I’m so tired of hearing how ‘character-driven’ stories are somehow ‘better’ than plot-driven, and I’ve written a rant, er, sorry, criticism.” “Character- or Plot-Driven – A False Dichotomy?”

As I’ve been developing as a writer, and submitting stories, I read and hear a lot about character-driven stories vs. plot-driven these days. Most novels seem to me to still are “plot-driven”, while a lot of shorter fiction that gets published in magazines is character-driven, or primarily thus, and I have issues with this.

Many years ago, in a long letter to my just-teenage children, speaking of people and relationships, I said that barring some life-changing event, whoever someone is at eighteen is who they will remain, only growing to be more of that. The result of that is that thinking someone is perfect, except for one little thing that you can fix… well, you can’t. In a story, the same is necessarily true….

(4) HAPPY WINNERS. Frank Wu and Jay Werkheiser are ecstatic to have won Analog’s AnLab Award for their novella “Communion” in the Jan 2022 issue as you can see in this photo taken by Brianna Wu. The winning cover was Eldar Zakirov’s artwork for the same story. Frank’s elevator pitch for the story is –

 A space ship is about to crash and a 50-km-long mag wire is an essential part of the drive. During the crash, the robot saves the wire – and the mission and his human captain – by wrapping the wire around his arm and using his own body as a heatfield!

Frank Wu and Jay Werkheiser with their certificates recognizing their Anlab-winning novella “Communion” in the Jan 2022 issue. Photo by Brianna Wu.

(5) THIS JOB IS NOT THAT EASY. “How to be a Regency Lady Sleuth” by Alison Goodman at CrimeReads.

…For instance, the Regency era – officially from 1811 to 1820—was well before England had a police force. So where does a lady sleuth get her official back up and assistance?

What’s more, record keeping was patchy at best and, if it did exist, was not centralised or easy to access. This was particularly the case for women because a vast majority of them could not read. Education, my dear fellow, is wasted on women—or at least that was the majority opinion of the time. How then, does a lady sleuth track down the information she needs to solve her mysteries?

So, when it came to written information, my lady sleuths had to be the kind of women of that era who would be feasibly taught to read, and secondly have access to the various places these records were kept. That is why I decided to make Lady Augusta (aka Gus), and Lady Julia part of the highest rank in Regency society, the aristocracy. At this rank, they would have a chance of some education, as well as having access to private libraries (public libraries as we know them were not yet in existence). They would also have the social clout and contacts to obtain information from other sources. At that time, most of the government officials were men from the gentry class or the aristocracy and since Gus and Julia move in those circles, they literally have friends in high place: excellent sources of information….

(6) BANNED IN 2023. The Los Angeles Times discusses each of “The 15 most banned books in America this school year” before moving on to a list of challenged classics which include these genre works:

“Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley. Modern Library’s editorial board ranked “Brave New World,” the 1932 novel about the discontents of a technologically-advanced future society, as the fifth most important novel of the 20th centuryNevertheless, the book was challenged as required reading in the Corona-Norco Unified School District in 1993 because it is “centered around negative activity.” The novel also was removed from a high school library in Foley, Ala., in 2000 after a parent complained that it showed contempt for religion, marriage and family.

“Animal Farm” by George Orwell. The 1945 allegorical novella has been a target of complaints for decades, according to the ALA. In 1987, “Animal Farm” was one of dozens of books banned in schools in Bay County, Fla. Then 44 parents, students and teachers filed a federal lawsuit, and the school board reversed the decision. ‘’The only thing we have succeeded in doing is making sure every child in Bay County reads the books we banned,’’ a board member told the Associated Press.

(7) BEAGLE Q&A. Shelf Awareness is “Reading with… Peter S. Beagle”

Book you’re an evangelist for:

The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer. If you’re going to write a historical novel, you’ve got to start with that one. It’s a fascinating book about the way that medieval England actually was, as opposed to the novels about it. It’s still a book that I go back to if I’m setting a story in anything like medieval England.

(8) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to dip into durian ice cream with William Shunn in Episode 199 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

William Shunn

It’s time to head to Anaheim, California to take a seat at the table with William Shunn, the first of five guests I managed to chat and chew with for Eating the Fantastic during last month’s Nebula Awards conference. I first met Bill in 1993 though his words alone, when I bought his short story “Colin and Ishmael in the Dark” for publication in Science Fiction Age magazine. We met in the flesh later that same year at the San Francisco Worldcon, and he’s been part of my life for the past 30 years.

Bill attended the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop in 1985, when he was only 17. (A class which included Mary TurzilloGeoffrey Landis, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Resa Nelson, and other writers with whom you might be familiar.) In addition to being published in Science Fiction Age, he’s also appeared in Asimov’sAnalogF&SFRealms of Fantasy, and other magazines. In 2002, he was nominated for a Nebula in the category of novelette for “Dance of the Yellow-Breasted Luddites,” and a few years later hit the nomination trifecta when he was up for a Nebula, Hugo, and Sturgeon Award for his novella “Inclination,” which had been published in Asimov’s in 2006.

In addition, if you’re a writer, you might be familiar with what’s come to be called the “Shunn format,” a guide to proper manuscript preparation which first appeared online in 1995 and has since become the gold standard for numerous publications. His widely acclaimed memoir, The Accidental Terrorist: Confessions of a Reluctant Missionary, was published in 2015, and in addition to detailing the youthful indiscretion which prevents him from ever returning to Canada, explains how Clarion changed his life and helped him become the writer he is today.

We discussed what he hoped would happen when he arrived at the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshop when he was 17 vs. what actually did happen, how his post-Clarion homelife was haunted by Ray Bradbury, the time Kate Wilhelm critiqued his critiquers, how an early rejection from Playboy got him in big trouble, the way a tragedy scuttled the sale of his memoir to a major publisher, how he and Derryl Murphy collaborated on a novella without killing each other, and so much more.

(9) RAJNAR VAJRA-LOEB (1947-2023). Rajnar Vajra-Loeb, known to the sff field as author Rajnar Vajra, died May 16 at the age of 75. Memorial comments are being gathered on his funeral information webpage.

He twice won the Analog Readers Poll, in 2002 for the short story “Jake, Me, and the Zipper” , and in 2005 for his novella “Layna’s Mirror”.

His 2015 Hugo-nominated story “The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale” was on both the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies slates, however, as reported by Chris Barkley at the time “he has vehemently disassociated himself from them. When other nominees dropped out of the Hugo Awards race, he bravely stayed in, because he believed in his story and vacating the nomination slot may have given the ballot yet another puppy candidate.”

He lived long enough to celebrate the “book birthday” of his latest novel Opening Wonders released on May 2.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

2019[Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a fantastic writer. Mexican born and raised, she moved to Canada in her twenties. Her debut novel, Signal to Noise, is a superb first novel. 

She’s the publisher of Innsmouth Free Press, a press devoted to weird fiction. With Lavie Tidhar, she edits The Jewish Mexican Literary Review

Gods of Jade and Shadow, the source of our Beginning, a historical fantasy, was published by Del Rey four years ago.  Gods of Jade and Shadow was nominated for a Nebula Award for Best Novel.

And now let’s go into our Beginning….

But what the lords wished was that they should not discover their names.—Popol Vuh, translated into English by Delia Goetz and Sylvanus Griswold Morley from the work by Adrian Recino

Some people are born under a lucky star, while others have their misfortune telegraphed by the eposition of the planets. Casiopea Tun, named after a constellation, was born under the most rotten star imaginable in the firmament. She was eighteen, penniless, and had grown up in Uukumil, a drab town where mule-drawn railcars stopped twice a week and the sun scorched out dreams. She was reasonable enough to recognize that many other young women lived in equally drab, equally small towns. However, she doubted that many other young women had to endure the living hell that was her daily life in grandfather Cirilo Leyva’s house. 

Cirilo was a bitter man, with more poison in his shriveled body than was in the stinger of a white scorpion. Casiopea tended to him. She served his meals, ironed his clothes, and combed his sparse hair. When the old brute, who still had enough strength to beat her over the head with his cane when it pleased him, was not yelling for his grandchild to fetch him a glass of water or his slippers, her aunts and cousins were telling Casiopea to do the laundry, scrub the floors, and dust the living room.

Casiopea, who had prayed at the age of ten for her cousin Martín to go off and live in another town, far from her, understood by now that God, if he existed, did not give a damn about her. What had God done for Casiopea, aside from taking her father from her? That quiet, patient clerk with a love for poetry, a fascination with Mayan and Greek mythology, a knack for bedtime stories. A man whose heart gave up one morning, like a poorly wound clock. His death sent Casiopea and her mother packing back to Grandfather’s house. Mother’s family had been charitable, if one’s definition of charity is that they were put immediately to work while their idle relatives twiddled their thumbs. 

Had Casiopea possessed her father’s pronounced romantic leanings, perhaps she might have seen herself as a Cinderella-like figure. But although she treasured his old books, the skeletal remains of his collection—especially the sonnets by Quevedo, wells of sentiment for a young heart—she had decided it would be nonsense to configure herself into a tragic heroine. Instead, she chose to focus on more pragmatic issues, mainly that her horrible grandfather, despite his constant yelling, had promised that upon his passing Casiopea would be the beneficiary of a modest sum of money, enough that it might allow her to move to Mérida.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 2, 1915 Lester Del Rey. Editor at Del Rey Books, the fantasy and science fiction imprint of Ballantine Books, along with his fourth wife Judy-Lynn del Rey. As regard his fiction, I’m fond of Rocket Journey and Police Your Own Planet, early works of his. His Jim Stanley series has much to say for it. And he got nominated for four Retro Hugos. (Died 1993.)
  • Born June 2, 1929 Norton Juster. Author of the much beloved Phantom Tollbooth and its less known variant, The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth. Adapted in 1970 into a quirky film, now stuck in development hell being remade again. He also wrote The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics, a story he says was inspired by Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. (Died 2021.)
  • Born June 2, 1937 Sally Kellerman. She makes the list for being Dr. Elizabeth Dehner in the superb episode of Trek “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. She also had one-offs on the Alfred Hitchcock HourThe Twilight ZoneThe Outer LimitsThe Invaders, and The Ray Bradbury Theater. She played Natasha Fatale in Boris and Natasha: The Movie. (Died 2022.)
  • Born June 2, 1941 Stacy Keach, 82. Though best known for playing hard-boiled Detective Mike Hammer, he’s got a long association with our genre starting with being The Mountain of the Cannibal God, an Italian horror film. Next up for him was Class of 1999 followed by voicing both Carl Beaumont / Voice of Phantasm in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, a film I really, really likeMore horror, and a really silly title, await him in Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return where The Hollow has a tasteful title which the Man with the Screaming Brain does not provide him. Storm War, also known as Weather Wars, is SF. And then there is Sin City: A Dame to Kill For which is a rather nice piece of film making. And yes, he’s been in a televised version of Macbeth playing Banquo. 
  • Born June 2, 1920 Bob Madle. Helped start his local sf club in 1934, went to what he considered to be the first-ever sf convention in 1936, and attended the first Worldcon (Nycon I) in 1939. Bob Madle and named the Hugo Awards. He was the first North American TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate to an overseas con (Loncon, 1957). Twenty years later he was Fan Guest of Honor at the 1977 Worldcon (listen to his GoH speech here.) First Fandom has inducted him to their Hall of Fame, and given him the Moskowitz Award for collecting. He’s a winner of the Big Heart Award). This post about his centennial birthday in 2020 includes photos and a summary of his fannish life in his own words. (Died 2022.)
  • Born June 2, 1979 Morena Baccarin, 44. Very long genre history starting with portraying Inara Serra in Firefly and  Serenity; Adria in the Stargate SG-1 series and the Stargate: The Ark of Truth; Anna in the 2009 version of the series V; Vanessa in Deadpool and Deadpool 2; and Dr. Leslie Thompkins in Gotham.
  • Born June 2, 1982 Jewel Staite, 41. Best known as the engineer Kaylee Frye in the Firefly verse. She was Jennifer Keller in Stargate Atlantis, Catalina in the Canadian series Space Cases, Tiara VanHorn in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show and “Becca” Fisher in Flash Forward. Genre one-offs? Oh yes: The Odyssey (twice), Are You Afraid of The Dark (again twice), The X-FilesSo WeirdSabrina: The Animated SeriesThe ImmortalSeven DaysStargate AtlantisSupernaturalLegends of TomorrowThe Order and The Magicians.

(12) A DOCKET FOR DEMETRIOUS. “J.R.R. Tolkien’s Trust Sues Author For Selling ‘Derivative’ Sequel To ‘Lord of the Rings’ As $250 Million Battle Heats Up”Radar Online has the story. “The legal moves comes weeks after Demetrious Polychron filed his own $250 million lawsuit against the Trust, Amazon and Jeff Bezos.”

J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate has filed a bombshell lawsuit accusing a writer of ripping off the late author’s iconic Lord of The Rings series and is demanding his books be taken out of stores, RadarOnline.com has learned.

According to court documents obtained by RadarOnline.com, The Tolkien Trust, which is responsible for managing the intellectual property of the late Professor J. R.R. Tolkien, is suing a man named Demetrious Polychron.

In the suit, the Trust said the lawsuit was brought due to Polychron’s “willful and blatant violation” of its copyright interests in the Lord of the Rings franchise.

The Trust said despite the author being aware of its rights in Tolkien’s work, he decided to “write, publish, market and sell a blatantly infringing derivative sequel to the Tolkien Trilogy entitled The Fellowship of the King (the “Infringing Work”). In addition to clearly mimicking the title of the first book in the Tolkien Trilogy, the Infringing Work constitutes a blatant, wide-ranging and comprehensive misappropriation of Professor Tolkien’s creative opus.”

The Trust said its aware that Polychron plans to release up to six additional books — all based on Tolkien’s characters.

“The Infringing Work is currently being offered for sale on various online platforms in the United States for $17.99 – $26.99 a copy,” the suit read.

The suit explained, “Neither Professor Tolkien nor the Tolkien Estate has ever authorized any written sequels to the Tolkien Trilogy. Not only was the Infringing Work unauthorized, but the Tolkien Estate had already expressly refused the [Polychron’s] request to publish any work of this nature, in keeping with its longstanding policy.”

(13) PAYING THOSE STORY IOUs. Charlie Jane Anders demonstrates with her own novel that “Revision is the Process of Going from General to Specific” at Happy Dancing.

I feel as if a big part of revision is going from the general to the specific. My first drafts, at least, always include a lot of details that are kind of fuzzy. Sometimes, a piece of information changes every time it comes up, because I haven’t made up my mind yet what the actual real version is, and I’m just hedging my bets. Sometimes there’s a highly specific piece of backstory, front story or side story, but it’s just really a placeholder — a supporting character is a stock character, or someone’s job is merely a sitcom job that doesn’t feel like a real employment situation. And sometimes, things are just left so vague that they could be anything, or there’s no information whatsoever.

So when I revise, I try to nail things down more. On one level, this is just a process of deciding on stuff. Where did this character grow up? Who were their parents? What kind of job do they have, and what specifically does the job ask of them? And so on….

(14) AWARD-WORTHY VISIT TO THE SPIDER-VERSE. Variety’s Clayton Davis makes the case why “’Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse’ Should Be a Best Picture Oscar Contender”.

Don’t tell me “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” is merely a cartoon. It’s a visionary work that redefines what the animation medium can achieve, sitting alongside the handful of sequels such as “The Dark Knight” and “The Empire Strikes Back” that elevate their franchises by pushing them in surprising new directions.

On a personal level, this animated second installment of the web-slinging superhero is the closest I’ve ever come to seeing an accurate depiction of my life and culture on a movie screen – well, with a few fantastic elements added into the mix. That’s invaluable.

“Across the Spider-Verse” takes place a year after the events of the previous film with Miles Morales (a.k.a. Spider-Man) facing a new threat. Unfortunately, it’s one that causes him to interact with a new group of Spider-People from across the multiverse.

So why did I respond so deeply to this superhero story? Like Miles, I’m made up of an exciting ethnic mix of Puerto Rican and Black parents brought together in the melting pot that is New York City. Neither of us possesses the acceptable amount of Spanish fluency that our fellow Boricuas require. Nonetheless, we have a weakness for fried platanos, as well as an appreciation for our heritage. Just hearing the word “bendición,” a standard greeting and farewell term used in Latino culture, used in “Across the Spider-Verse, ” filled my eyes with tears and pride….

(15) COMMUNICAT. Salon reports “A ‘talking’ cat is giving scientists insight into how felines think”. And if you think only a hungry plant will say “Feed me”, stick around, it won’t be long until this cat does it.

…Considering Billi’s feline status, Baker was naturally a bit skeptical at first.

“I was concerned because they [the buttons] were quite large for a little tiny kitty, and I was not sure that she was actually going to be heavy enough to press them,” Baker said. “So I started with a word that I’d really not recommend that you start with, which is ‘food,’ because it becomes very motivating for them. And Billi loves food.”

Baker’s concerns quickly washed away once it became clear that Billi was able to press the button “food” — which she appeared to enjoy doing perhaps a little too much.

“She was definitely heavy enough for it,” Baker said. “And then I later regretted starting with food because it kind of backfired on me, but it definitely got the ball rolling.”

Today, Billi has 50 words on her board, and — like Bunny — is part of the ongoing research project called TheyCanTalk, whose goal is to understand if animals can communicate with humans through AAC devices. While the study is mostly made up of dogs, about 5 percent of the animals using AAC devices are now felines. It turns out that many cats have been successful at using the device.

“They have this reputation of just doing what they want and not really caring what the humans are doing, and I think this is a great opportunity to see that they actually are paying attention,” Smith said. “Seeing that they can be engaged, that they’re not just cat automatons, that aren’t driven by instinct 24/7 can function a great deal positively for their role in other studies.”

(16) PAYING DIVIDENDS ON BORROWED TIME.  Ingenuity, NASA’s record-breaking Mars helicopter, continues to fly two years after scientists expected it to fail. “NASA plays hide-and-seek with unrelenting Mars helicopter Ingenuity” in the Washington Post.

…On April 2, Ingenuity soared 52 feet up into the Martian sky — a record height for the drone — to take a suborbital photo of Mars’s landscape.

After landing, it disappeared. When scientists attempted to upload instructions for a subsequent flight, Ingenuity’s radio sign was gone.

Scientists eventually located Ingenuity after six days of searching as the helicopter’s companion on Mars, the Perseverance rover, crested a ridge and drove closer to where the helicopter had landed.

Ingenuity, controlled via radio signals relayed from Perseverance, completed its five-flight mission — a simple series to prove that the helicopter’s design would work in the thin Martian atmosphere — in May 2021. Then, Tzanetos’s team received approval to keep flying.

“At that point, we’re on borrowed time,” Tzanetos said. “None of the mechanisms were designed to survive longer than that.”

Somehow, they did — for months and months, and dozens more flights. By May 2022, it seemed as if Ingenuity’s miraculous story would finally plummet down to (Martian) earth. Winter was setting in, and NASA feared the lower temperatures would cause Ingenuity’s solar-charged batteries to fail, or even freeze overnight.

The helicopter entered a low-power state after its 28th flight in late April of that year, and scientists told The Post they weren’t sure if it would fly again.

Incredibly, Ingenuity’s delicate parts stood up to the Martian cold. But NASA still faced the challenge of reconnecting with the helicopter every time its components froze, Tzanetos said. The Ingenuity team adjusted by using data on Martian sunrises to calculate when the helicopter would thaw out each morning and regain enough charge to power on….

(17) CAN WE MOVE EARTH ACROSS SPACE? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Shades of Stephen Baxter in this week’s PBS Space Time when Matt O’Dowd asks can we move planet Earth across the Universe?

Interstellar travel is horrible-what with the cramped quarters of your spaceship and only the thin hull separating you from deathly cold and deadly cosmic rays. Much safer to stay on here Earth with our gloriously habitable biosphere, protective magnetic field, and endless energy from the Sun. But what if we could have the best of all worlds? No pun intended. What if we could turn our entire solar system into a spaceship and drive the Sun itself around the galaxy? Well, I don’t know if we definitely can, but we might not not be able to.

(18) TALES FROM THE ZONE – ROADSIDE PICNIC. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] In this week’s Media Death Cult Moid Moidelhoff considers Roadside Picnic. Roadside Picnic is in the Goldilocks zone, it is a perfect balance of a straight narrative that requires nothing more than standard plot and characters to make sense. But the sub-text is as thick as porridge… “Tales From The Zone – Roadside Picnic”.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Steven H Silver, Rich Lynch, Jennifer Hawthorne, Scott Edelman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter. John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jake.]

Pixel Scroll 1/11/23 A Song Of Fur And Mice

(1) BRINGS THE MESSAGE. During last night’s Golden Globes ceremony CNN reports “Michelle Yeoh would not be played off during Golden Globes acceptance speech”.

Michelle Yeoh won best performance by an actress in a musical or comedy motion picture for her role in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” at the Golden Globes on Tuesday night, a career first for the veteran actress.

Though she had to stop her acceptance speech momentarily to threaten violence to the Golden Globes powers-that-be for trying to play her off (joking, “Shut up, please; I can beat you up”), her remarks centered on her journey in Hollywood.

“I remember when I first came to Hollywood, it was a dream come true until I came here … Someone said to me: ‘You speak English?’ And then I said: ‘Yeah, the flight here was about 13 hours long, so I learned,” she said….

… “We all know that it’s so hard,” she added on Tuesday night. “I think any immigrant that comes here will tell you how difficult it is and of sometimes failing and not being able to find it.”

(2) SOME WINDOWS OPEN, OTHERS DON’T. Public Domain Review’s post “Happy Public Domain Day 2023!” begins with a caution about what’s not entering public domain this year.

…Each January 1st is Public Domain Day, where a new crop of works have their copyrights expire and become free to enjoy, share, and reuse for any purpose. Due to differing copyright laws around the world, there is no one single public domain, but there are three definitions which cover most cases. For these three systems, newly entering the public domain today are:

  • works by people who died in 1952, for countries with a copyright term of “life plus 70 years” (e.g. UK, Russia, most of EU and South America);
  • works by people who died in 1972, for countries with a term of “life plus 50 years” (e.g. New Zealand, and most of Africa and Asia);
  • films and books (incl. artworks featured) published in 1927 for the United States.

We normally have Canada listed in the second system above, but in a disappointing development, there’ll be no new published works entering the public domain in Canada next year (nor for the next 20 years) after they retroactively extended copyrights on published works from life of the author plus 50 years years to plus 70 years.

There will also be no new sound recordings entering the US public domain this year. Last year we saw a mammoth release of historical sound recordings become copyright-free, but it won’t be until 2024 that those from 1923 will join them.

Some of you may have been following our advent-style countdown calendar which revealed day-by-day through December our highlights for these new public domain entrants. The last window was opened yesterday, and while such a format was fun for the slow reveal, for the sake of a good gorgeable list we’ve exploded the calendar out into a digestible array below….

(3) THE QUICK AND THE DEAD, AND THE NOT-SO-QUICK. “A romance author was believed to be dead. When she appeared to return, the story got more complicated”CNN tries to sort it out.

In September 2020, fans and friends of Susan Meachen received devastating news. The romance writer’s Facebook account posted a message saying she had died. A later post claimed she had taken her own life and suggested her actions were the results of online bullying by others in her thriving, close-knit online writing group.

Over the next two years, her fellow writers and loyal followers helped keep her memory alive through her published works. However, her Facebook account made a shocking claim this month: Meachen was still alive, and she wanted to return to writing.

“Let the fun begin,” the post concluded.

The bizarre post plunged Meachen’s fans and fellow writers into confusion and rage. Did the woman they had considered a friend, a colleague and a mentor stage a devastating, years-long ruse? Those who spoke to CNN say the scandal has threatened to upend the trust and collaboration that keeps their independent publishing community going. More than that, their search for answers after years of mourning has only turned up more questions….

Camestros Felapton also looked at the coverage given to these developments by Michael Gallagher and Declan Finn, who tried to inject their Upstream Reviews blog into the story, in “Twists…”.

…So getting more mainstream promotion by accounts oblivious to the nature of the site was a bit of a coup for them, all fuelled by the possible-zombie Susan Meachen replying to their direct message. However…it is now unclear if Susan Meachen did reply to them at all. After publishing the responses, claims have been made that the Twitter account they DM’d is fake.

Upstream Reviews has since retracted the responses from Susan Meachen…

(4) A LITTLE LIST. Eric Adelson has assembled “An unofficial list of the most influential science fiction works ever” for the Washington Post.

On a Monday evening last September, a NASA spacecraft intentionally blasted into an asteroid in deep space. The goal was planetary defense — protecting our planet from the kind of wayward rock that could end civilization as we know it. The unprecedented moment seemed surreal, with a camera from the craft sending footage back to Earth of a large asteroid getting bigger and bigger until — pow! — impact. It was both incredible and credible — equal parts jaw-dropping and successful in its proof of concept.

Who could have imagined such a thing?

Well, science fiction writers did.

“Crashing big things into celestial objects goes all the way back to the 1930s stories of Edmond ‘World Wrecker’ Hamilton,” Lisa Yaszek, regents professor of science fiction studies at Georgia Tech, wrote in a text message. “In ‘Thundering Worlds,’ we throw Mercury at an invading alien army to save the rest of the solar system.”…

(5) COLLECTORMANIA. Heritage Auctions sent out an email promoting its top 2022 sales. Among them was the “Margaret Hamilton ‘Wicked Witch of the West’ Hourglass from The Wizard of Oz” that went for $495,000, and the “Dracula (Universal, 1931). Fine/Very Fine on Paper. Insert” that fetched $228,000. And there were many more comics and game items at the top of the list.

(6) MEMORY LANE.

2000 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Metheglin from Charles de Lint’s Forest of the Heart

Metheglin figures into Charles de Lint’s Forest of the Heart because the theme here is based heavily upon the pre-British Greenman imagery and the myth that comes out of it, and one the characters here is Welsh. 

There’s also a very great scene of a Celtic music session in this novel.

You can read the first chapter, courtesy of Charles, here.

She took a sip, bracing herself, but the liquid went down smooth as silk, with the full-body of a fine brandy. Not until it had settled in her stomach did she realize the kick it had. She gasped and her eyes began to tear. But a fluttering warmth spread through her and the sour taste was finally gone. The liqueur held a faint bouquet of honey and herbs, of a field of wildflowers. It was like drinking a piece of summer and for a moment she almost thought she could hear the buzz of bees, feel the heat of a hot summer’s day.

‘Wow,’ she said and peered into the mouth of the flask. She caught a glimpse of a light, yellowish-amber liquid. ‘What is this stuff?’

‘Metheglin,’ the man told her. ‘A kind of Welsh whiskey made from hops and honey. Have some more,’ he added when she started to hand the flask back.

Ellie did, this time rolling the liquid around in her mouth before finally swallowing it. She looked down at the flask, noting the fine filigree worked into the metal before her eyes teared up again. She drew in a sharp breath, savoring the bite of the cold as it hit the roof of her mouth.

‘So where would you find it in a liquor store?’ she asked. ‘Under whiskeys or…you said it was made from hops. That’s like beer, right?’

Except she’d never tasted either a whiskey or a beer that was this good.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 11, 1906 John Myers Myers. Ahhh, Silverlock. It would have made a Hell of a movie with the right script and such. I read the NESFA Edition which has the Silverlock Companion in it which is very useful as you know the novel’s very meta indeed. If you don’t have this, it was reprinted separately later. Thirty years after Silverlock was published, The Moon’s Fire-Eating Daughter novella came out. Myers claims it’s a sequel to the novel. There are three different publishers selling it on the usual suspects, all three legit. (Died 1988.)
  • Born January 11, 1923 Jerome Bixby. His “It’s a Good Life” story became the basis for an episode of the original Twilight Zone episode under the same name and which was included in Twilight Zone: The Movie. He also wrote four episodes for the original Star Trek series: the Hugo nominated “Mirror, Mirror”, and “Day of the Dove”, “Requiem for Methuselah”, and “By Any Other Name”.  With Otto Klement, he co-wrote the story upon which the Hugo nominated Fantastic Voyage series, and Isaac Asimov novel were based. Bixby’s final produced or published work so far was the screenplay for The Man from Earth film. (Died 1998.)
  • Born January 11, 1930 Rod Taylor. First genre role would be as Israel Hands in Long John Silver. He would follow that up with SF film World Without End (which you probably heard of), The Time Machine (which I suspect you’ve heard of), Colossus and the Amazon Queen (Taylor claims to have rewritten the script), The Birds (I don’t like it), Gulliver’s Travels and last, and certainly least, The Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy. (Died 2015.)
  • Born January 11, 1937 Felix Silla. He played Cousin Itt (sic) on The Addams Family in a role invented for the show. The voice was not done by him but rather provided by sound engineer Tony Magro in post-production. He was also responsible for the physical performance of Twiki on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century though the voice was supplied by Mel Blanc or Bob Elyea. And he played an unnamed Ewok on Return of the Jedi. (Died 2021.)
  • Born January 11, 1952 Diana Gabaldon, 71. I have friends who read her and enjoy immensely her Outlander series. They also avidly look forward to every new episode of the Outlander television series. Any of y’all fans of either? 
  • Born January 11, 1961 Jasper Fforde, 62. I read and thoroughly enjoyed every one of his Thursday Next novels with their delightfully twisted word play as I did his Nursery Crimes series. I’ve not, though I may be wrong, read his Shades of Grey books and I know I’ve not read the Dragonslayer series though I’ve heard Good Things about them. 
  • Born January 11, 1963 Jason Connery, 60. Son of Sir Sean Connery. He’s best known for appearing in the third series of Robin of Sherwood, a series I loved dearly (including the music which was done by Clannad which I’ve got live boots of). He also played Jondar in the “Vengeance on Varos” story on Doctor Who during the Sixth Doctor era (my least favorite Doctor by far). He was Ian Fleming in Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming. And he was a young Merlin in Merlin: The Quest Begins.
  • Born January 11, 1972 Amanda Peet, 51. Not a long SFF précis but an interesting one none-the-less.  She first shows up voicing Maria Montez in Battle for Terra. She was then Harlee in Martian Child which is at least genre adjacent. She was ASAC Dakota Whitney in The X-Files: I Want to Believe. Say did you know that Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey was paid for in part by NASA? Way cool. She voiced Ranger in it. 

(8) CAP’S NEXT ADVENTURE. Tensions erupt between Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson as Captain America: Cold War begins. The upcoming crossover between Captain America: Sentinel Of Liberty and Captain America: Symbol Of Truth, kicks off in April. More information here from Marvel. 

It’s all been leading to this! Last year, a new era of Captain America began as both Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson picked up the shield and embarked on separate journeys in the pages of Collin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing, and Carmen Carnero’s Captain America: Sentinel Of Liberty and Tochi Onyebuchi and R.B. Silva’s Captain America: Symbol Of Truth. This April, the two Captains will reunite for Captain America: Cold War, an explosive crossover event that will make them question everything they believe in…and each other….

(9) DR. ARTIE MATIC. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] What could be more helpful than having your mental and emotional health evaluated by something that doesn’t have a brain or emotions? How about doing so without your knowledge or permission? Ars Technica reports “Controversy erupts over non-consensual AI mental health experiment”.

On Friday, Koko co-founder Rob Morris announced on Twitter that his company ran an experiment to provide AI-written mental health counseling for 4,000 people without informing them first, The Verge reports. Critics have called the experiment deeply unethical because Koko did not obtain informed consent from people seeking counseling.

Koko is a nonprofit mental health platform that connects teens and adults who need mental health help to volunteers through messaging apps like Telegram and Discord.

On Discord, users sign into the Koko Cares server and send direct messages to a Koko bot that asks several multiple-choice questions (e.g., “What’s the darkest thought you have about this?”). It then shares a person’s concerns—written as a few sentences of text—anonymously with someone else on the server who can reply anonymously with a short message of their own….

(10) GO AND CHANGE YOUR ARMOR. The Daily Record remembers “The abandoned Scottish mine that starred as a Monty Python filming location”.

Nestled away in Perth and Kinross is an abandoned mine that may look unimpressive to most, but will be instantly recognisable to any Monty Python fan.

Tomnadashan Mine was constructed in the 19th century by John Campbell, 2nd Marquess of Breadalbane, in an attempt to mine copper, gold, and sulphur. This venture proved unsuccessful and the mine was deserted after his death.

It wasn’t until over 100 years later that the mine would gain a second life as the backdrop for one of the most iconic scenes in comedy history. Those who have seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail will no doubt be familiar with the Rabbit of Caerbannog….

(11) STILL A VIRGIN. “Attempt at First Satellite Launch From Britain Fails” reports the New York Times.

Britain’s attempt to get into the space launch business on Monday night came up short when a 70-foot rocket stuffed with satellites failed to reach orbit, Virgin Orbit, the company providing the launch service, said.

An hour after takeoff from an airstrip in Cornwall, in southwest England, a modified Boeing 747 released the rocket, which fired away as planned. It was supposed to take nine satellites up into low orbital positions 300 or more miles above the Earth. But Virgin Orbit said in a statement on Tuesday that the system had experienced an “anomaly” while the rocket’s second-stage engine was being fired. It had been traveling at more than 11,000 miles per hour when the mission ended prematurely.

Dan Hart, the chief executive of Virgin Orbit, said in the statement that “the first-time nature” of the mission had added layers of complexities, and that a “technical failure” appeared to have occurred. “We will work tirelessly to understand the nature of the failure, make corrective actions and return to orbit as soon as we have completed a full investigation and mission assurance process,” he said.

People in Britain’s space industry said the goal — launching satellites from British soil for the first time — would have huge importance even though Virgin Orbit, which was founded by the British entrepreneur Richard Branson, is a California company….

(12) PREHISTORIC COSTUME COMPETITION. [Item by Michael Toman.] “Humans First Started Wearing Clothes At Least 300,000 Years Ago, New Research Finds” at Open Culture.

Artist’s conception….

That people wore clothes back in the Stone Age will hardly come as a surprise to anyone who grew up watching The Flintstones. That show, never wholly reliant on established archaeological fact, didn’t get too specific about its time period. But it turns out, based on recently published discoveries by a team of researchers from the University of Tübingen, the Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment, and Leiden University, that Stone Agers were dressing themselves as early as 300,000 years ago — over one hundred millennia earlier than previously thought.

“This is suggested by cut marks on the metatarsal and phalanx of a cave bear discovered at the Lower Paleolithic site of Schöningen in Lower Saxony, Germany,” says the University of Tübingen’s site. The location of such marks indicate that the bear was not simply butchered but carefully skinned….

(13) SPIN DOCTORS. Inertia by Mark Everglade (Rockhill Publishing) features a young geophysicist, Ash, and her father who must solve the ecological crisis of a planet spinning out of control, using the latest cybernetics while evading an oppressive regime profiting off the destruction. 

Gliese 581g is the last remaining colony of the human race, located twenty light years from Earth. The planet was once tidal locked to its sun, with one side draped in darkness and the other half always bright. This changed after a radical group called O.A.K. increased the planet’s rotation to bring daylight cycles to all in the name of equality. All was not well, however, as decades passed, and new generations dealt with continual floods as the newfound sunlight melted the icecaps. Entire neighborhoods went aquatic from rising sea levels. Soon, the planet was spinning out of control, with sunrises occurring every few hours.

Ash and her father discover a research lab where Severum uncovers a connection between Geosturm and the Old Guard, a scion of the now defunct Government of Evig Natt led by Eduardo Culptos. The Old Guard seek to restore their power over the hemisphere by accelerating the planet’s rotation at breakneck speed, exacerbating the negative ecological effects, as they convince the public that the planet was better off in darkness. They’re motivated by the wealth they obtained back when light was scarce and commodified, and seek a restoration of their influence.

The book is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca. Author Mark Everglade has spent his life studying social conflict. He runs the website www.markeverglade.com where he reviews cyberpunk media and interviews the greats.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Screen Junkies’ “Honest Trailers: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” begins with a spoiler warning. So we’ll not blab further in this introduction.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 8/21/22 Of Dyson Spheres And Birthdays Best Told Fresh

(1) ON SAIL. Walter Jon Williams gets reacquainted with his 25-year-old self in “Onward Into the Past”.

Back in April Kathy and I drove the three and a half hours to Portales for the 45th Jack Williamson Lecture, and had to figure out how we were going to entertain ourselves for the long drive across the Llano Estecado. Kathy suggested we listen to the audio book of To Glory Arise, the first of my Privateers & Gentlemen books. I’d met Kathy more than ten years after saying goodbye to that series, and she’d never read them, so she was coming to them fresh.

So we listened to the book driving out and back, and were entertained by the book and Bronson Pinchot’s excellent reading of it. I found the book so entertaining that I’ve been listening to the rest of them as they’ve been released, though the reason I was so entertained was peculiar to me— reviewing that series was a way of re-discovering my twenty-five-year-old self, the person who wrote that series, a person who is not quite the man I am today.

I was surprised by how much time and energy I devoted to the psychological dimensions of my characters. I mean, I certainly knew the psychological element was there— I considered it a selling point of the series that it wasn’t about two-dimensional action heroes, but instead characters of some complexity. But there ended up being more pages devoted to psychology than I remembered, and I think more pages than the characters actually warranted. I did not understand the concept of enough. I was inclined to say the same things over and over. I wish I’d had editors who told me that….

(2) A RISING TIDE LIFTS ALL BOATS. “Game of Thrones effect fires up reissues of ‘lost’ fantasy fiction classics” in the Guardian.

It is a lyrical, beautiful fantasy story about a mythical beast who sets out on a quest into a world that no longer believes in her to find out if she is truly the last of her kind.

Published in 1968, The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle spawned an animated movie 40 years ago and is a cherished novel that appeals to children and adults alike. But it’s not surprising if you haven’t heard of it. It hasn’t been published in the UK for half a century.

This week it is finally being reissued, the latest in a string of classic fantasy novels to find a new audience thanks to the prevalence of the genre on TV and the big screen….

As well as Beagle’s novel, other writers’ work is being reissued, including John M Ford’s novels The Dragon Waiting and Growing Up Weightless, Hope Mirrlees’s 1926 faerie fantasy Lud-In-The-Mist, and Antonia Barber’s The Ghosts, while books such as the Arabic fantasy The Tale of Princess Fatima, Warrior Woman, and Japanese author Yukio Mishima’s delightfully weird Beautiful Star have recently had their first ever English-language publications.

(3) FRIENDS. “Supporters, Opponents Weigh in on Internet Archive Copyright Battle” at Publishers Weekly is a collection of excerpts from the amicus briefs filed on behalf of both sides.

Is the Internet Archive’s program to scan and lend copies of print library books under an untested legal theory known as controlled digital lending (CDL) wholesale piracy? Or is it a carefully considered and legal effort to preserve the mission of libraries in a digital world that is moving away from ownership to licensed access? With Summary Judgment motions now filed in a closely-watched lawsuit filed by four major publishers over the Internet Archive’s scanning program, stakeholders on both sides of the case are weighing in with amicus briefs….

(4) BRAN SPANKIN’ WORDS. Jesse Sheidlower of the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction (HDSF) begins a new Boing Boing series, “Updating the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction”.

…Of course, the most important feature is the continued addition of new entries. Since the launch, we have continued to unearth new information, and we are excited to be able to share it with readers. The over 200 new entries (as of this writing) include accidental omissions (Vulcan); terms from proto-SF (space senses of fleetbattleship, and warship, all from around 1900); and genuinely recent entries that came to prominence after the original project began (cli-fi (2009), murderbot (2006), Nnedi Okorafor’s Africanfuturism (2018))….

… Yet the majority of the new entries are simply common SF terms that never made it into the original: cityship (1953), doppel (1981), the proto-SF ether ship (1883), ion gun (1935), the fandom word kipple (1960), pseudopod (1929), skin job (in an original (1958) and a Blade Runner sense (1981)), star liner (1932), timequake (1954)….

(5) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1985 [By Cat Eldridge.] Since I mentioned yesterday Ursula Le Guin’s Always Coming Home when I talked about Austin Wright Tappin’s Islandia yesterday, let’s have a conversation about Always Coming Home tonight. 

At one thousand and fifty-five pages, the Library of America edition of Always Coming Home is almost exactly the same length as the printed version of Islandia. Le Guin commented upon Islandia that it is “not a great book perhaps, but a singularly durable one, and a durably singular one. There is nothing else in all literature like Islandia.”

Now I will argue Always Coming Home is quite unlike anything else she wrote as it is not really a work of fiction but rather an anthropology of a people that don’t yet exist. It was published thirty-seven years ago and labeled a novel, but I that reject that label as Le Guin, the daughter of anthropologist, has here created the only true genre work of future anthropology ever done.

She lets the Kesh, the people that Pandora, the documentarian from the other civilization, is studying largely speak for themselves. So we as the observers are learning about them through a collage of their mythologies, poetry and their stories. All in an ethnographic approach.

There is a piece of fiction, a central novella, with the story of a woman called Stonetelling who leaves the valley to live with her father’s people, the Condor. That has Stonetelling reflecting upon her people. 

The end of the Always Coming Home contains additional information about the Kesh in more traditional ethnographic form. And there are maps as well. Quite fascinating maps.

The first edition, the trade paper in the slip case, had music too. It was called the Music and Poetry of the Kesh, featuring ten musical pieces and three poetry performances by Todd Barton. 

The book contains a hundred original illustrations by Margaret Chodos. 

The expanded edition released by Library of America is available from the usual suspects. I’ve decided to include the original cover here. 

Lest you ask, yes, I like it a lot.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 21, 1888 Miriam Allen deFord. Almost all of her genre fiction was published at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction under the editorship of Anthony Boucher. It can be found in two collections, Xenogenesis and Elsewhere, Elsewhen, Elsehow. Her “A Death in the Family” story was adapted in Night Gallery‘s second season. Other than a few short stories, nothing’s available digitally by her. (Died 1975.)
  • Born August 21, 1911 Anthony Boucher. I’m now reading The Case of The Crumpled Knave, one of his superb mysteries. Really great read. The Compleat Boucher: The Complete Short Science Fiction and Fantasy of Anthony Boucher is a most excellent read, but it’s not an epub yet. The Case of The Crumpled Knave, The Compleat Werewolf and Other Stories of Fantasy and Science Fiction are available digitally and a lot are at the usual suspects. (Died 1968.)
  • Born August 21, 1937 Arthur Thomson. Fanzine writer and editor and prolific artist known as ATom. Artist for the well-known Hyphen zine, he won the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund in 1964 and visited the States. He was nominated five times for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist, but never won. After Thomson won the 2000 Rotsler Award, it was decided not to present the Rotsler posthumously again. (Died 1990.)
  • Born August 21, 1943 Lucius Shepard. Life During Wartime is one seriously weird novel. And his World Fantasy Award winning The Jaguar Hunter is freaking amazing as are all his short collections. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 21, 1956 Kim Cattrall, 66. Gracie Law in John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China. Fantastic film! She also played Justine de Winter in The Return of the Musketeers, Paige Katz in Wild Palms, Lieutenant Valeris in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and Linday Isley in Good v. Evil. Series-wise, she was in one offs in Tales of the Gold MonkeyLogan’s RunThe Incredible Hulk and The Outer Limits (rebooted version of course). 
  • Born August 21, 1957 John Howe 65. Canadian book illustrator who’s worked on many a project, of which the Peter Jackson Hobbit films are the ones we’ll know best and which he did with Alan Lee, but he’s also done a number of endeavors including a limited edition of George R. R. Martin’s novel A Clash of Kings which was released by Meisha Merlin, A Diversity of Dragons by Anne McCaffrey and A Middle-Earth Traveler: Sketches from Bag End to Mordor.
  • Born August 21, 1966 Denise Mina, 56. Genre wise, she’s best known for having written thirteen issues of Hellblazer. Her two runs were “Empathy is the Enemy” and “The Red Right Hand”.  ISFDB lists The Dead Hour as genre but it’s very much not. Excellent novel but think rather in the vein of Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels.
  • Born August 21, 1966 Carrie-Anne Moss, 56. I first saw her as Tara McDonald in the Dark Justice series. Not genre, just her first video I think. Playing Monica Howard in the “Feeding the Beast” episode of Forever Knight was her first genre role. Oddly enough her next role was as Liz Teel in the Canadian series called Matrix which has nothing to do with the Matrix film franchise where she’s Trinity. And she’s been playing Jeryn Hogarth in the Netflix based Marvel Universe.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) WAS 1970 THE WORST IN SCI FI CINEMA? [Item by Olav Rokne.] Going through the Hugo finalists year by year in order. And oof, 1971’s shortlist was difficult to get through. We even dug through the other movies and TV shows that were eligible that year, and the fact that I don’t think Hugo nominators could have done a better job on that shortlist is an indictment of SF cinema at that time. “Possibly The Worst Year In Sci-Fi Cinema” at The Hugo Book Club Blog.

… Expressing a sentiment that was common at the time, John Baxter wrote: “Written SF is usually radical in politics and philosophy; SF cinema, like the comic strips, endorses the political and moral climate of its day.” While we’d suggest that Baxter was a little too generous towards prose SF, having watched and listened to the 1971 shortlist, it’s clear that there’s some merit in his indictment of screen offerings.

The shortlist was an eclectic one in some ways. It had one theatrically released American movie (Colossus: The Forbin Project), one television movie (Hauser’s Memory), one British movie (No Blade of Grass) one spoken-word comedy album (Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers) and one prog rock concept album (Blows Against the Empire)…

(9) REFRESH AND RELOAD. The School Library Journal believes in “refreshing the canon” and offers this “Refreshing the Canon Booklist”. Click on the title of a famous classic and you’ll be led to a list of newer suggested readings.

George Orwell’s modeling of a totalitarian society in 1984 has long been a staple of the summer reading canon. As an alternative, consider these seven titles that feature dystopian, futuristic, and repressive societies—and teens who fight back.

  • Adeyemi, Tomi. Children of Blood and Bone. Holt. ISBN 9781250170972.
  • Anderson, M.T. Feed. Candlewick. ISBN 9780763662622.
  • Bacigalupi, Paolo. Ship Breaker. Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316056199.
  • Cameron, Sharon. The Forgetting. Scholastic. ISBN 9780545945219.
  • Dimopoulos, Elaine. Material Girls. Houghton Harcourt. ISBN 9780544388505
  • Higuera, Donna Barba. The Last Cuentista. Levine Querido. ISBN 9781646140893. 
  • Jian, Ma. China Dream. Random/Vintage. ISBN 9781640092402.

(10) AH, SWEET MYSTERY OF LIFE, AT LAST I’VE FOUND THEE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A look at the first episode of She-Hulk: Attorney At Law (Disney+) is filled with spoilers for that show and with (some would say) TMI about Steve Rogers’ love life. “She-Hulk post-credits finally solve an incredible Captain America mystery” at Inverse.

…Though Jennifer is related by blood to a famous Avenger, Bruce hasn’t spilled every secret about Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. In the first episode of She-Hulk: Attorney At Law, a post-credits scene continues a joke planted early in the episode about Jennifer and her crush on Captain America….

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Nancy Sauer, Jeffrey Smith, Olav Rokne, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Enter The Next Era Of Captain America With A First Look At Captain America #0!

Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson team up in the opening pages of Captain America #0, on sale April 20, to launch two Captain America ongoing titles.

Writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly and Marvel Stormbreaker artist Carmen Carnero will tell the adventures of Steve Rogers in Captain America: Sentinel Of Liberty while writer Tochi Onyebuchi and Marvel Stormbreaker artist R.B. Silva will see Sam Wilson soar as Captain America once again in Captain America: Symbol Of Truth.

The journeys of both shield bearers will begin in April’s Captain America #0 where they will team up after an explosive attack by Arnim Zola.

“You can see in the #0 issue that we’re getting to play with our favorite scientist, Arnim Zola, The Bio-Fanatic!” Collin Kelly told CBR in an exclusive interview. “That’s a really fun touchstone for us, but what we wanted to do is introduce a new cast of villains. These villains pulling the strings have their own personalities and motivations and they command a force unlike any Captain America has ever seen. That includes lieutenants, generals, and power players. They are critical players in the history of the Marvel Universe, American history, and the world history of the last hundred years.

“We’re giving those characters individual identities that will allow them to stand on their own. So, if and when we do bring in some more of these legacy villains, we want them to be able to stand toe-to-toe with Doctor Doom… These will be characters that Doom also knows of and is reluctant to cross.”

A transformative moment in Captain America history begins. Check out the preview following the jump.

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