Pixel Scroll 8/12/22 The Hamster, My Friend, Is Scrolling In The Solar Wind

(1) RUSHDIE HOSPITALIZED AFTER ATTACK. Salman Ruhdie was attacked and stabbed at least twice while speaking onstage this morning in upstate New York. He was airlifted to a hospital and taken to surgery. The CNN story says:

The suspect jumped onto the stage and stabbed Rushdie at least once in the neck and at least once in the abdomen, state police said. Staff and audience members rushed the suspect and put him on the ground before a state trooper took the attacked into custody, police said.

… Henry Reese, co-founder of the Pittsburgh nonprofit City of Asylum, who was scheduled to join Rushdie in discussion, was taken to a hospital and treated for a facial injury and released, state police said. The organization was founded to “provide sanctuary in Pittsburgh to writers exiled under threat of persecution,” according to the Chautauqua Institution’s website.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul told reporters Friday a state trooper “stood up and saved (Rushdie’s) life and protected him as well as the moderator who was attacked as well.

The story did not have an update about Rushdie’s condition.

There is now an update from Publishing Perspectives:

Salman Rushdie’s agent, Andrew Wylie, has told The New York Times’ Elizabeth A. Harris, “The news is not good. Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.”

Wylie’s information, emailed to Harris, is the first description of the condition of the author following surgery….

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports “Stabbing sends ripples of ‘shock and horror’ through the literary world.”

Literary figures and public officials said that they were shocked by the news that the author Salman Rushdie had been stabbed in the neck on Friday morning while onstage to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institute in western New York.

“We cannot immediately think of any comparable incident of a public violent attack on a writer during a literary event here in the United States,” said Suzanne Nossel, the chief executive officer of the nonprofit literary organization PEN America, who noted that the motivations for the attack and Mr. Rushdie’s current condition were unknown as of Friday late morning.

Mr. Rushdie is a former president of PEN America, which advocates for writers’ freedom of expression around the world.

She said in a statement that the organization’s members were “reeling from shock and horror.”

Here is Neil Gaiman’s response on Twitter.

(2) PINCH-HITTER. Congratulations to Abigail Nussbaum, who was invited to cover for the Guardian‘s regular SFF columnist, Lisa Tuttle. You can see her reviews here at the Guardian.

…I was a bit nervous about the experience—five books is a big commitment of time and energy, and readers of this blog know that I’m not accustomed to summing up my thoughts on anything in 200 words or less. But I ended up having a lot of fun, mainly because the books discussed were a varied bunch, several of which weren’t even on my radar before the column’s editor, Justine Jordan, suggested them.

The column discusses The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean, a twist on the vampire story that has more than a little of The Handmaid’s Tale in its DNA. The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay, a horror author whom I’ve been hearing good things about for years, so it was great to have an opportunity to sample his stuff. Extinction by Bradley Somer, part of the rising tide of climate fiction we’ve been seeing in recent years, but with a very interesting and original approach. The Women Could Fly by Megan Giddings, a story about witches that combines a magical realist tone with pressing social issues. And The Moonday Letters by Emmi Itäranta, a whirlwind tour of the solar system reminiscent of Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 but with a slant all its own. I’ll have more to say about that last book in the near future, but all five are worth a look….

(3) OVERDRAWN AT THE BLUE CHECKMARK. From one of my favorite authors, Robert Crais:

(4) 2022 WORLDCON ADDS MONKEYPOX POLICY. In addition to its COVID-19 Policy, Chicon 8 now has issued a Monkeypox Policy. More details at the link.

On Aug. 1, 2022, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker declared Monkeypox a public health emergency in the state of Illinois, in order to rapidly mobilize all available public health resources to prevent and treat Monkeypox and ensure smooth coordination at all levels of government….

(5) CATHEDRALS OF BOOKS. With the help of DALL-E, Joe Stech is designing “Future Libraries”. He shares many examples in his latest Compelling Science Fiction Newsletter.

Many years ago I spent some time learning to paint and sketch, and got halfway decent (to the point where I could at least convey a little bit of what was in my head, albeit clumsily). The amount of time it took me to draw something halfway decent was fairly incredible, and after I stopped drawing regularly my meager skillset deteriorated. I still remember how it felt to finish a sketch though, and generative art models like DALL-E 2 have helped me recapture that joy with a much smaller time investment….

(6) DOINK-DOINK. Meanwhile, back on the courthouse steps in New York: “Frank Miller Sues Widow of Comics Magazine Editor for the Return of Artworks”.

The comic writer and artist Frank Miller is suing the widow and the estate of a comics magazine founder over two pieces of promotional art he created that she was trying to sell at auction. The art, which appeared on covers of David Anthony Kraft’s magazine Comics Interview in the 1980s, includes an early depiction of Batman and a female Robin — from the 1986 The Dark Knight Returns series — and is potentially a valuable collectible.

The lawsuit seeks the return of the Batman piece, which was used on the cover of Comics Interview No. 31 in 1986, as well as art depicting the title character of Miller’s 1983 Ronin series. He had sent both to Kraft for his use in the publication; the Ronin artwork was used as the cover of Comics Interview No. 2 in 1983. Miller contended in the court papers that he and Kraft agreed they were on loan, citing “custom and usage in the trade at the time,” and that he made repeated requests for their return….

(7) SEEKING FANHISTORIC PHOTOS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] This year’s DeepSouthCon is working on a project to create a photo gallery of past winners of the Rebel and Phoenix Awards.

We are looking for contributions from anyone who may have such photos. Digital files are preferred, obviously. We’d rather not be responsible for receiving your one-of-a-kind print photo and getting it back to you in one piece. The mail and other delivery services are more than capable of ripping any given package to shreds.

The gold standard would be a photo of the person holding the award at time of presentation or shortly after. We’re also happy to take more contemporary photos taken months, days, years, or decades later. If no such photo is available, we’re also happy to take photos of the winners themselves, just the award, or one of each.

Mike Kennedy, Co-chair, DeepSouthCon 60

(8) ON THE SCALES. Cora Buhlert has a rundown on the creators and works on the latest Dragon Awards ballot: “The 2022 Dragon Award Finalists Look Really Good… With One Odd Exception”.

…Anyway, the finalists for the 2022 Dragon Awards were announced today and the ballot looks really good with only a single WTF? finalist (more on that later) and a lot of popular and well regarded works on the ballot. This confirms a trend that we’ve seen in the past three years, namely that the Dragon Awards are steadily moving towards the award for widely popular SFF works that they were initially conceived to be, as the voter base broadens and more people become aware of the award, nominate and vote for their favourites. It’s a far cry from the early years of the Dragon Awards, where the finalists were dominated by Sad and Rabid Puppies, avid self-promoters and Kindle Unlimited content mills with a few broadly popular books mixed in….

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

2006 [By Cat Eldridge.]ONCE THERE WAS A CHILD WHOSE FACE WAS LIKE THE NEW MOON SHINING on cypress trees and the feathers of waterbirds. She was a strange child, full of secrets. She would sit alone in the great Palace Garden on winter nights, pressing her hands into the snow and watching it melt under her heat. She wore a crown of garlic greens and wisteria; she drank from the silver fountains studded with lapis; she ate cold pears under a canopy of pines on rainy afternoons.” — First words of The Orphan’s Tales: in the Night Garden

There are works that I fall in love from the first words. Catherine Valente’s The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden is one of those works. Well actually it was from the cover art by Michael Kaluta that I fell in love. 

I don’t remember if it came out before or after I had coffee with her in a coffeehouse in the east coast Portland where we both live. (I was married and living on the mainland. She was single and living on Peaks Island. I’m now single and still living on the mainland; she’s married and on Peaks as far I know with her first child. It was an interesting conversation.)

I do remember that she got an iMac that I was no longer using as a result of that meeting, one of the aquarium style ones. Blue I think. I’m sure you’ve read fiction that was written on it.

Now back to the books. It stunned me of the non-linear nature of them which was quire thrilling. Living  in a palace garden, a young girl keeps telling stories to a inquisitive prince: impossible feats and unknown-to-him histories of peoples long gone which weave through each other again and again and again, meeting only in the telling of her stories. Inked on her tattooed eyelids, each of these tales is a intriguing piece in the puzzle of the girl’s own lost history.

I can’t call either a novel in the traditional sense as they really aren’t. They’re something much more complex. What they are is Valente’s take off the 1001 nights but keep in mind that the 1001 nights stories weren’t connected to each other and these are, and so it is a spectacular undertaking of that concept, weaving stories within stories within stories myriad times over. It takes careful paying attention to catch all the connections. 

So what we have here is quite delightful and they are matched up very up by well by the artwork by Michael Kaluta. The cover art for both is by him so that gives you an ample idea of what he does on the inside though those are all black and white. There are hundreds of drawings within, each appropriate to the story you are reading. One of my favorite illustrations is in the prelude of a gaggle of geese. Simple but very cute.

They both won the Mythopoetic Award and the first an Otherwise Award.

I’ve spent many a Winter night reading these. They are wonderful and I really wish they’d been made into an audiobook as they’d be perfect that way. And they really, really do deserve for some specialty press like Subterranean to publish a hardcover edition of them, though I expect getting the rights to the illustrations from Random House could be difficult to say the least. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 12, 1881 Cecil B. DeMille. Yes, you think of him for such films as Cleopatra and The Ten Commandments, but he actually did some important work in our genre. When Worlds Collide and War of The Worlds were films which he executive produced. (Died 1959.)
  • Born August 12, 1894 Dick Calkins. He’s best remembered for being the first artist to draw the Buck Rogers comic strip. He also wrote scripts for the Buck Rogers radio program. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Complete Newspaper Dailies in eight volumes on Hermes Press collects these strips.  They’re one hundred and fifty dollars a volume. (Died 1962.)
  • Born August 12, 1929 John Bluthal. He was Von Neidel in The Mouse on the Moon which sounds silly and fun. He’s in Casino Royale as both a Casino Doorman and a MI5 Man. (Why pay the Union salaries?) He had roles in films best forgotten such as Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World. (Really. Don’t ask.) And he did play a blind beggar in The Return of the Pink Panther as well, and his last genre role was as Professor Pacoli in the beloved Fifth Element. Lest I forget, he voiced Commander Wilbur Zero, Jock Campbell and other characters in Fireball XL5. (Died 2018.)
  • Born August 12, 1931 William Goldman. Writer of The Princess Bride which won a Hugo at Nolacon II and which he adapted for the film. He also wrote Magic, a deliciously chilling horror novel. He wrote the original Stepford Wives script as well as Steven King’s King’s Hearts in Atlantis and Misery as well. He was hired to adapt “Flowers for Algernon” as a screenplay but the story goes that Cliff Robertson intensely disliked his screenplay and it was discarded for one by Stirling Silliphant that became Charly. (Died 2018.)
  • Born August 12, 1947 John Nathan-Turner. He produced Doctor Who from 1980 until it was cancelled in 1989. He finished as the longest-serving Doctor Who producer. He cast Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy as the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors. Other than Doctor Who, he had a single production credit, the K-9 and Company: A Girl’s Best Friend film which you can currently find on BritBox which definitely makes sense. He wrote two books, Doctor Who – The TARDIS Inside Out and Doctor Who: The Companions. He would die of a massive infection just a year before the announcement the show was being revived. The Universe often sucks.  (Died 2002.)
  • Born August 12, 1960 Brenda Cooper, 62. Best known for her YA Silver Ship series of which The Silver Ship and the Sea won an Endeavour Award, and her Edge of Dark novel won another such Award. She co-authored Building Harlequin’s Moon with Larry Niven, and a fair amount of short fiction with him. She has a lot of short fiction, much collected in Beyond the Waterfall Door: Stories of the High Hills and Cracking the Sky. She’s well-stocked at the usual suspects.
  • Born August 12, 1966 Brian Evenson, 56. Ok, I consider him a horror writer (go ahead, disagree) and his Song for the Unraveling of the World collection did win a Shirley Jackson Award though it also won a World Fantasy Award as well. He received an International Horror Guild Award for his Wavering Knife collection. He even co-authored a novel with Rob Zombie, The Lords of Salem. Which definitely puts him on the horror side of things, doesn’t it?
  • Born August 12, 1992 Cara Jocelyn Delevingne, 30. Her first genre role was as a mermaid in Pan. She then shows up in James Gunn’s rather excellent Suicide Squad as June Moone / Enchantress, and in the (oh god why did they make this) Valerian and in the City of a Thousand Planets as Laureline. She was also in Carnival Row as Vignette Stonemoss. It was a fantasy noir series on Amazon Prime which sounds like it has the potential to be interesting.

(11) LEARN FROM AN EXPERT. Here is Cat Rambo’s advice about using social media. Thread starts here.

At the end of the list:

(12) THEY DID THE MONSTER CA$H. NPR is there when “General Mills brings back Franken Berry, Count Chocula, Boo Berry, Frute Brute”.

General Mills is releasing four limited-edition Monster Cereals boxes as part of a new collaboration with pop artist KAWS.

Franken Berry, Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Frute Brute are back for this year’s seasonal release. Fans are particularly excited about the appearance of Frute Brute, which is available for the first time since 2013.

…Franken Berry and Count Chocula now bear the bone-shaped ears seen in many of KAWS’ works. They also have KAWS’ signature Xed-out eyes, as do Boo Berry and Frute Brute. The boxes have been reimagined following the same design as the original boxes, with an illustration of each character and a photo of the cereal in a bowl, all set on a blank white background….

(13) BIGGER THAN SATURN. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.]  In today’s Science: “Starship will be the biggest rocket ever. Are space scientists ready to take advantage of it?”

Jennifer Heldmann, a planetary scien-tist at NASA’s Ames Research Centre…   wants to send another rocket to probe lunar ice—but not on a one-way trip. She has her eye on Starship, a behemoth under development by private rocket company SpaceX that would be the largest flying object the world has ever seen. With Starship, Heldmann could send 100 tons to the Moon, more than twice the lunar payload of the Saturn V, the work-horse of the Apollo missions.

(14) FAN-MADE FF TRAILER. “Fantastic Four: Krasinski, Blunt and Efron stun in jaw-dropping trailer” declares Fansided.

…This awesome fan-made concept trailer from Stryder HD imagines what a Fantastic Four movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe could be about, showcasing how Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm all become their heroic alter-egos….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Book of Boba Fett Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says in The Book of Boba Fett that Boba Fett is the worst crime boss in the galaxy.  But the writer explains he got bored and wrote a couple of episodes of The Mandalorian instead.  The producer gets excited when he hears Baby Yoda is in it, because Baby Yoda is “my little green money baby.”  But then we go back to Baba Fett and how he fights someone who fans of The Clone Wars will recognize while everyone else will be confused.  So the producer concludes, “at least we have some content.”

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

Jordan: 2022 Hugo Finalists for Best Novella

[Introduction: In Michaele Jordan’s overview, she comments on the novellas by Aliette de Bodard, Becky Chambers, Alix E. Harrow, Seanan McGuire, Adrian Tchaikovsky, and Catherynne M. Valente that are up for the 2022 Hugo.]

By Michaele Jordan:

Fireheart Tiger, by Aliette de Bodard (Tordotcom) is a high fantasy. You’ve probably noticed that fantasy has become such a broad field that it can be broken down into subtypes, such as urban fantasy, Tolkienesque fantasy, dragon stories or fairy tales. High fantasy, in particular, has a specific format. It’s always set in a low-tech world – often here on earth, within a particular historical era. It always focuses on the adventures of the ruling class, usually royalty. The magic is often minimal compared to other types of fantasy, as it must be woven into the political or military struggles, and the court intrigues, with which the high-born characters are preoccupied.

High fantasy tends to further subdivide into two types: costume romances (usually of the forbidden kind) overlaid with magic, or political thrillers, also overlaid with magic, but with a great deal of plotting, backstabbing, and poison. In both cases, the characters are hugely constrained by their class obligations, and a lot of attention is paid to their expensive clothing, their plush living conditions, and the loyalty (or lack thereof) of servants.

If you are a fan of high fantasy – and many of us are – then you will love Fireheart Tiger. The protagonist is a young princess, caught up in a turbulent, and possibly treasonous, affair with another princess, even as their two countries circle each other, looking for attack points. The setting is highly original –an analog of pre-Colonial Viet Nam, (around 18th century). The magic is also well handled. There are no spells or amulets. But one of the three major characters is a fire elemental – and a VERY interesting character.

Next we come to A Psalm for the Wild-Built, by Becky Chambers (Tordotcom), I loved it! First and foremost: I was struck by the tale’s charm. The characters are charming. Their culture is charming. Their tea monks are charming. Even the opening, where Sibling Dex notices the absence of crickets is charming. Most of all, the voice in which the story is told charming, full of love and attention to captivating details.

The story seems to take place on earth, in a way-past-the-apocalypse future. Not that the author ever said as much! It may not even be intentional. She may only have wanted it to be earthlike enough to make us feel at home. In which case, she succeeded.

They have a lush ecology, with plants that are not just generic but species that seem familiar to us (especially herbs). The animals seem familiar, too (especially the insects, and not just crickets). There is a complex history of over-industrialization leading to collapse, followed by recovery.

But the place where all those charming things live is actually Pangan (named after one of the local gods). It’s a moon orbiting Motan (also named after a god) which appears to be a gas giant. (For me, the discovery that this is not Earth was genuinely startling. The place feels so homelike it’s almost deja vu.)

Naturally, this means that the inhabitants are not human, per se, but they, too, are so vividly evoked that it’s hard to believe. Sibling Dex does not merely seem to be someone we might know. They feel like . . . well, a sibling. Even Splendid Speckled Mosscap – who could not be mistaken for a human , no matter how quickly the reader is skimming – feels friendly and comfortable.

The story is soft and simple. (If you’re looking for epic battles, go elsewhere.) There is a quest, which involves some very hard travelling into the wilderness. Some of the creatures in the wilderness are more dangerous than charming.

While on the road, Dex and Speckled Mosscap have a lot of time to talk. Speckled Mosscap wants to know why Dex is engaging in their strange and whimsical quest. Dex wants to know where Speckled Mosscap has come from, and why nobody has seen any of their people before. Both are wondering if it is time for Speckled Mosscap and their people to re-emerge into Pangan life.

Their conversation – along with the ending – is philosophical, revolving around such eternal questions as “life, the universe and everything.” The conclusion does not offer any answers, but leaves us very content, just the same.

A Spindle Splintered, by Alix E. Harrow (Tordotcom) starts with an excellent concept. We’ve all seen tales – many, many tales – of young women entering Fairyland, by a variety of means and with a variety of motives. This time, the traveler is propelled by soul-crushing need. She was born with a genetic disorder that invariably kills its victim before the age of twenty-two, at the very latest, and usually much younger. The story opens on the protagonist’s twenty-first birthday.

All her life, Zinnia has been obsessed by the story of Sleeping Beauty. She knows that it’s a terrible story in many ways – most notably in that it makes its heroine a virtual walk-on (or should I say a sleep-on?) in her own story. She knows there are versions of the story much darker and crueler than Disney’s. But nonetheless, she identifies desperately with Sleeping Beauty, who has spent her entire short life watching and waiting for the inevitable curse to strike her down.

Zinnia’s best friend wants her twenty-first birthday to be special, and arranges a Sleeping Beauty birthday party smothered in roses, and complete with a haunted tower and an antique spinning wheel. In a moment of dark whimsy and drunken bravado, Zinnia deliberately presses her finger to the spindle.

In an ineffable moment of spinning within the multiverse, she sees a thousand cursed princesses reaching for the spindle. But only one protests, softly whispering, “Help.” So Zinnia reaches out towards her. The universe goes dark, and she wakes in a fairy tale castle, in the plush royal bed of Princess Primrose of Perceforest.

If this tale has a flaw it starts now. After a truly compelling opening, Ms. Harrow has no place left to go. She has a point that she cares about, and wants very much to make. She has already intervened in the original story before the end, which she wants to change – that being her whole purpose in writing this novella. But fairy tales are not strong on complex plot lines, and now she has no guideposts as to where to go next, or how to get there.

In this place and time, the only alternative to the spindle is a political marriage. So if there is to be any story at all, it must now decry its new ending and find a way to avert it.

Mind you, I’m not suggesting that loveless political marriages are a good thing. But I do not think that was Ms. Harrow’s original point. And they are a far cry from a terrible curse. They were normal in the Middle Ages, where large households were as close as woman could get to a safe refuge in a dangerous world. The only reasonably acceptable alternative was the nunnery, (which apparently was not an option in fairy tale worlds.)

I fully acknowledge that Primrose’s position is not a happy one. But she has been dropped into a much weaker story than the one she started out in, which is disappointing to the reader. And it is still a story that can only be resolved by magic.

Lastly, I am sorry to say, I found the ending even weaker. Primrose is (magically) rescued. Zinnia emerges from her adventure with a few years added to her potential lifeline, and some personal lessons learned. But lessons learned are not the same thing as skills acquired, and she would need some serious skills when embarking on her next life choice – which mostly looks like a bid for a sequel.

Across the Green Grass Fields, by Seanan McGuire (Tordotcom), is also a tale of a young girl entering Fairyland. The similarities end there. Regan is only ten. Unlike a number of her classmates, she’s still definitely pre-teen. (Allow me to interject that Ms. McGuire’s portraiture of young girls is uncanny in its accuracy.) But as long Regan’s best friend is Laurel, the class queen bee, she is sheltered from social consequences, and no matter that Laurel is a rigid, domineering bully.

That is, until Regan’s parents have to warn her that there is a genetic reason why she is not maturing as fast as her classmates. That discovery was the end of her world. The end of her friendship with Laurel—and the end of the social safety Laurel provided. She runs away from home. And in a nearby wooded plot she finds . . . a door.

It doesn’t lead to a fairyland of castles and princesses. Rather, it’s simply a place where the residents are all mythological beings, and there are no humans. She stumbles almost immediately upon a unicorn, (which is not a person, it’s a dumb beast) and shortly afterwards, the centaurs who herd the unicorns. The centaurs are all astonished and thrilled to meet a genuine human. They know the legends. Humans only show up when the serious trouble is coming and they’re needed to save the world, after which they disappear. Which may bode ill, but it’s still thrilling to meet a creature out of legend.

The centaurs offer to take Regan to see the queen, right away, since she will have to be presented to Her SunLit Majesty sooner or later anyway. But Regan would rather stay with the centaurs, at least until the Fair. She becomes best friends (true best friends!) with Chicory, a centaur child, and studies herbal medicine with Daisy, the herd’s healer. She learns centaur customs, and how to herd unicorns and, weave grass beds. She grows tall and strong, and doesn’t bother to worry about the absence of puberty. She does worry how her parents are coping, but there’s nothing she can do about that. This continues for years.

The story here is deceptively simple. Regan runs away and arrives in another world.  She learns many lessons about herself – most importantly, how to be happy insider her own skin – and in the end, she must go to the Fair to meet the queen. The Fair is not as safe and kindly a place as a centaur longhouse. And the queen is not what Regan has been told. I am struggling here to avoid spoilers while warning you that the ending is startling unique: smaller and subtler – and sharper – than you’d expect, but quite wonderful.

In Elder Race, by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tordotcom), Mr. Tchaikovsky applies well known trope: an abandoned colony reduced of millennia to pre-industrial barbarism, but with one lingering outpost, inhabited by one lone anthropologist named Nyrgoth, who long since abandoned hope of his people ever coming back.

The last time Nyr ventured out of his tower, he was persuaded to accompany a warrior princess named Astresse in her pursuit of a monster/sorcerer/warlord Ulmoth. Ulmoth was defeated and Nyr has filled the centuries since with long naps. Our story opens with Lynesse, the great-granddaughter of Astresse, deciding that it is time to solicit more ‘sorcerous’ assistance against an apparently magical menace.

The story shifts focus back and forth between Nyr and Lyn. I found this format a little troubling, largely because the two parties didn’t balance. The Nyr passages are a deeply intimate first-person memoir.

He cannot look at Lyn without remembering Astresse, and grieving that she is so long gone. He agonizes over the endless struggle to communicate with her, since she interprets all technical terms as magical ones. (He must have had the same problem with Astresse, but apparently never got used to it.)

He flagellates himself over his failure as an anthropologist, in that he has intervened (twice now!) in the culture he is supposed to be studying, while simultaneously denouncing the pointlessness of anthropological study. Psychologically, he is a clinically depressed mess.

But  Lynn, on the other hand, is presented in a brisk third person. She is a fairly standard heroic fantasy protagonist, an unappreciated younger heir, raised on tales of her heroic ancestress, questing in the hope of proving herself to her family, and gaining renown. Her emotions and responses are plain, and undetailed.

The monster is interesting  –  although not much attention is paid to it. No one who has not seen it believes in it, largely because it is truly weird, well beyond the normal bounds of either SF or fantasy. The pair painfully but successfully defeat it, seeming at great cost. But of course, a happy ending is tacked on, and all is joy in Mudville.

The Past Is Red, by Catherynne M. Valente (Tordotcom), is complicated. In fact, it’s so complicated that I had a lot of trouble following it. And, therefore, I can’t really say I enjoyed it. It breaks my heart to say that. Ms. Valente is one of my favorite authors. Radiance (Tom Doherty Associates, 2015) and Deathless (Tordotcom, 2011) are two of the best books I have ever, EVER read.

But . . .  for starters, she uses a very convoluted sequence of events. She jumps around in her story line so vigorously that I spent a good half of my reading time going back to reread previous passages in a frequently unsuccessful attempt to find out where I was in the story. On top of that, she used what may have been the most unreliable ‘unreliable narrator’ I have ever encountered.

Usually I don’t mind an unreliable narrator. It adds verisimilitude. Mind you I’m quite comfortable with the impersonal third person narrator, but using one of the characters as the narrator can bring warmth into a story. In real life, a lot of people don’t know much, and usually don’t want to admit that. Why should a well-drawn character be any different?

But . . . on three separate occasions, the protagonist announced, “None of that is true. I just made it all up because I like it better than what really happened.” There was no knowing how much was covered under “that” and “it all.” Maybe everything? I’m still not sure what (if anything) happened in The Past is Red.

Maybe I was just feverish or sleep deprived. Maybe you’ll do better with it. I hope so. I do so love her.

Uncanny Magazine 2021 Favorite Fiction Reader Poll Results

The Uncanny Magazine 2021 Favorite Fiction Reader Poll results were announced February 14.

Tied for the top story are:

The rest of the Top Five are:

2. (Tie)

3. “Proof by Induction” by José Pablo Iriarte

4. “Colors of the Immortal Palette” by Caroline M. Yoachim

5. “Mulberry and Owl” by Aliette de Bodard

Pixel Scroll 1/27/22 All Ringworlds Great And Small

(1) MAUS OUT OF SCHOOL LIBRARY. In response to the banning of Art Spiegelman’s Maus by the McMinn County Tennessee School Board Neil Gaiman has tweeted: “There’s only one kind of people who would vote to ban Maus, whatever they are calling themselves these days.” “Tennessee school board bans Holocaust comic ‘Maus’ by Art Spiegelman” at CNBC.

A Tennessee school board has voted to remove the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel “Maus” from an eighth-grade language arts curriculum due to concerns about profanity and an image of female nudity in its depiction of Polish Jews who survived the Holocaust.

The Jan. 10 vote by the McMinn County School Board, which only began attracting attention Wednesday, comes amid a number of battles in school systems around the country as conservatives target curriculums over teachings about the history of slavery and racism in America.

“I’m kind of baffled by this,” Art Spiegelman, the author of “Maus,” told CNBC in an interview about the unanimous vote by the McMinn board to bar the book, which is about his parents, from continuing to be used in the curriculum.

“It’s leaving me with my jaw open, like, ‘What?’” said Spiegelman, 73, who only learned of the ban after it was the subject of a tweet Wednesday – a day before International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

He called the school board “Orwellian” for its action….

In “Maus,” different groups of people are drawn as different kinds of animals: Jews are the mice, Poles are pigs and Nazi Germans — who had a notorious history of banning and burning books — are cats. It has won a slew of awards, including a 1992 Pulitzer Prize.

(2) CATHERYNNE M. VALENTE MEDICAL UPDATE. Author Catherynne M. Valente has contracted Covid and has been tweeting about how she feels, and is handling quarantining away from the rest of the family. She also will be unable to appear in person at Capricon the first weekend in February.

(3) THE GAME’S AFOOT. In the Washington Post, Michael Dirda gives a con report on the Baker Street Irregulars annual convention. “Sherlock Holmes gets the gala treatment in New York”.

…This year, socializing got underway on Thursday afternoon at the Grolier Club, the country’s leading society for bibliophiles. Opening that week, and running till April 16, was “Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects,” an exhibition drawn from the fabled collection of Glen S. Miranker. Fabled? As I once wrote, “If the Great Agra Treasure — from ‘The Sign of Four’ — contained rare Sherlockian books and manuscripts instead of priceless gems, it would resemble Glen Miranker’s library.”

In display cases below a huge banner depicting Holmes in his signature dressing gown, one could see the only known copy in its dust jacket of the first edition of “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,” with original artwork by Sidney Paget and Frederic Dorr Steele, handwritten drafts of four major stories, and even Conan Doyle’s work ledger containing the December 1893 memorandum, “Killed Holmes.” This refers to “The Final Problem,” which ends with the great detective and his arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty, both falling to their deaths, or so it seemed, at the Reichenbach Falls….

(4) PHILOSOPHICAL FAVES. University of California (Riverside) philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel picks five sf novels of interest to philosophers. “Science Fiction and Philosophy – Five Books Expert Recommendations”.

It’s an interesting conundrum, because some science fiction seems to extrapolate from existing science to a future that’s possible and consistent with what we know about science today. That is, a hypothetical situation that is a plausible, possible future world—or maybe not so plausible, but still could happen. But there’s another kind of science fiction which doesn’t seem to be bound by anything we know about science now—it just allows what you might call magical things to happen. I wonder how the two of them relate to philosophy.

Fantasy just allows magical things to happen. And that can be very useful in thinking through philosophical issues because you might be interested in considering things that aren’t scientifically plausible at all, exploring them as conceptual possibilities. Now, within the constraints of scientific plausibility we can find a second big philosophical value in science fiction: thinking about the future. For example, I think it’s likely that in the next several decades, or maybe the next 100 or 200 years, if humanity continues to exist and continues along its current trajectory, we will eventually create artificial beings who are conscious. Maybe they’ll be robots or maybe they’ll artificial biological organisms. Or they might be a bio-machine hybrid or the result of technology we can’t yet foresee. We might create artificial entities who are people—entities with conscious experiences, self-knowledge, values, who think of themselves as individuals. They might be very much unlike us in other ways—physiologically, physically, maybe in their values, maybe in their styles of thinking.

If that happens, that’s hugely significant. We’d have created a new species of person—people radically different from us, sharing the world with us. Humanity’s children, so to speak. Few things could be more historically momentous than that! But these matters are hard to think about well. Maybe that future is coming. But what might it even look like? What would it do to ethics? To philosophy of mind? To our sense of the purpose and value of humanity itself? Science fiction is a tool for imagining the possible shape of such a future. So that’s just one example of the way in which science fiction can help us think about future possibilities.

(5) WTF. In the Washington Post, Jonathan Edwards says that Peter Dinklage, a guest on”WTF With Marc Maron,” slammed the live-action remake of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as “a backward story about seven dwarfs living in a cave.” “Actor Peter Dinklage calls out ‘Snow White’ remake for its depiction of dwarves”.

…Dinklage, 52, told Maron he was surprised by what he saw as a contradiction.

“They were very, very proud to cast a Latino actress as Snow White, but you’re still telling the story of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,’ ” Dinklage said, adding, “You’re progressive in one way … but you’re still making that … backward story about seven dwarfs living in a cave. What … are you doing, man?”

On Tuesday, Disney responded, saying it will aim to present the characters in a sensitive manner….

(6) POUL AND GORDY. Fanac.org has posted a 1977 video recording from ConFusion 14 with Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson holding forth about a chapter in sf history: “The Way It Was (Pt  1): Minneapolis Fantasy Society”.

This short video features a conversation between authors Poul Anderson and Gordon Dickson on the history of the Minneapolis Fantasy Society (MFS). Gordy, the older of the two, begins with a description of the prewar (World War II) MFS, a serious writers’ group with members such as Clifford Simak and Donald Wandrei. Poul and Gordy then bring the calendar forward with anecdotes of traveling to Torcon (1948), MFS parties, and how the writing community worked in the middle of the century. 

These much loved members of the science fiction community are by turns very earnest, very funny and always very engaging in telling us “The Way It Was”…

Note that this is part 1 of a longer program. As of January 2022, we are working to digitize the next part.

Also note that there are about 5 seconds of disrupted video towards the end of the recording.

Thanks to Geri Sullivan and the Video Archeology project for providing the recording. 

(7) SEE VIDEO OF MANCHESS ADAPTATION. On Muddy Colors, Gregory Manchess posted a link to a video of the stage production of Above the Timberline, based on his story and art. “Watch the Stage Play of Above the Timberline!” (The video has to be watched at the link.)

In an alternate future where the weather of the world has been permanently altered, the son of a famed polar explorer sets out in search of his father, who disappeared while looking for a lost city buried under the snow. But Wes Singleton believes his father is still alive – somewhere above the timberline. Adapted from the exquisitely painted novel, the world premiere stage adaptation is sure to delight.

(8) FARLAND MEMORIES. The Writers & Illustrators of the Future have produced a visual tribute to their coordinating judge who recently died: “David Farland Memorial (1957 – 2022)”.

One only needs to look at Dave Farland’s vast roster of names discovered and nurtured. It is no wonder his keen eye for talent was dubbed “Writer Whisperer.” Dave was an extraordinary individual, a kind soul, and a cherished personal friend and friend to everyone in the writing community. He was always there to lend a helping hand. Dave will be greatly missed. But it is good to know that due to his excellent work and dedication to creating the future, science fiction and fantasy will continue to be in good hands.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1999 [Item by Cat Eldridge.]

Captain Janeway: Coffee, black. 

Neelix: I’m sorry, Captain. We’ve lost another two replicators – 

Kathryn Janeway: Listen to me very carefully because I’m only going to say this once. Coffee – black.

Twenty three years ago this evening on the UPN network, Star Trek: Voyager‘s “Bride of Chaotica!” first aired. It was the twelfth episode of the fifth season of the series. The episode is loving homage to the 1936 Flash Gordon film serial and 1939 Buck Rogers film serial that followed film. Much of the episode was shot in black and white to emulate the look of those shows. 

The story was Bryan Fuller who was the writer and executive producer on Voyager and Deep Space Nine; he is also the co-creator of Discovery. The script was by Fuller and Michael Taylor who was best known as a writer on Deep Space Nine and Voyager.

Critics really liked it. SyFy Wire said it was “campy, hilarious, hysterical, brilliant, and an absolute joy.” And CBR noted that Voyager was “having fun with its goofier side.”

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 27, 1832 Lewis Carroll. Writer, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass. In 1876, he also produced his work, “The Hunting of the Snark”, a fantastical nonsense poem about the adventures of a very, very bizarre crew of nine tradesmen and a beaver who set off to find the snark. (Died 1898.)
  • Born January 27, 1938 Ron Ellik. A well-known sf fan who was a co-editor with Terry Carr of the Hugo winning fanzine Fanac in the late Fifties. Ellik was also the co-author of The Universes of E.E. Smith with Bill Evans which was largely a concordance of characters and the like. Fancyclopedia 3 notes that ‘He also had some fiction published professionally and co-authored a Man from U.N.C.L.E. novelization.’ (ISFDB says it was The Cross of Gold Affair.) Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction says he died in an auto accident the day before his wedding. (Died 1968.)
  • Born January 27, 1940 James Cromwell, 82. I think we best know him as Doctor Zefram Cochrane in Star Trek: First Contact, which was re-used in the Enterprise episode “In a Mirror, Darkly (Part I)”.  He’s been in other genre films including Species IIDeep ImpactThe Green MileSpace CowboysI, Robot, Spider-Man 3 and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. He played characters on three Trek series, Prime Minister Nayrok on “The Hunted” episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Jaglom Shrek in the two part “Birthright” story, Hanok on the “Starship Down” episode of Deep Space Nine and Zefram Cochrane once as noted before on Enterprise
  • Born January 27, 1953 Joe Bob Briggs, 69. Writer, actor, and comic performer. Host of the TNT MonsterVision series, and the ongoing The Last Drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs on Shudder from 2018–present. The author of a number of non- fiction review books including Profoundly Disturbing: Shocking Movies that Changed History!  And he’s written one genre novel, Iron Joe Bob. My favorite quote by him is that after contracting Covid and keeping private that he had, he said later that “Many people have had COVID-19 and most of them were much worse off than me.  I wish everybody thought it was a death sentence, because then everyone would wear the f*cking mask and then we would get rid of it.”
  • Born January 27, 1957 Frank Miller, 65. If you’re not a comic reader, you first encountered him in the form of Robocop 2 which I think is a quite decent film. His other films include Robocop 3Sin City300Spirit (fun) and various Batman animated films that you’ll either like or loathe depending on your ability to tolerate extreme violence. Oh, but his comics. Setting aside his Batman work all of which is a must read, I’d recommend his Daredevil, especially the Frank Miller & Klaus Janson Omnibus which gives you everything by him you need, Elektra by Frank Miller & Bill Sienkiewicz, all of his Sin City work and RoboCop vs. The Terminator #1–4 with Walt Simonson. 
  • Born January 27, 1963 Alan Cumming, 59. His film roles include his performances as Boris Grishenko in GoldenEye, Fegan Floop in the Spy Kids trilogy, Loki, god of Mischief in Son of the Mask (a really horrid film), Nightcrawler in X2 and Judas Caretaker in Riverworld (anyone know this got made?)
  • Born January 27, 1970 Irene Gallo, 52. Associate Publisher of Tor.com and Creative Director of Tor Books. Editor of Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction which won a World Fantasy Award. Interestingly, she won all but one of the Chesley Award for Best Art Director that were given out between 2004 and 2012. 

(11) THE SOUND AND THE FURRY. [Item by Michael Kennedy.] A Texas primary candidate for the state House got in an uproar regarding a tall tale about Furries. She decided that it was an outrage that some schools would be lowering their cafeteria tables to make it easier for these anthropomorphs to eat out of their bowls—sans utensils or hands. 

This despite the fact that Furrys don’t do that. Or that the schools in question had no intention of lowering their tables. Or that, in fact, it was impossible to do so given the tables’ design.

This is hardly the only tall tale about Furries and schools. I’ll leave it to your imagination (or to your clicking though to read the article) as to what alternative restroom arrangements were supposedly on the table for one school system in Michigan. Or, rather, on the floor.  “A Texas GOP Candidate’s New Claim: School Cafeteria Tables Are Being Lowered for ‘Furries’”

On Sunday night, a candidate in the GOP primary for Texas House District 136, which includes a large portion of the suburbs north of Austin, tweeted a curious allegation. That candidate, Michelle Evans—an activist who works with the local chapter of conservative parents’ group Moms for Liberty and who cofounded the anti-vaccine political action committee Texans for Vaccine Choice, back in 2015—tweeted that “Cafeteria tables are being lowered in certain @RoundRockISD middle and high schools to allow ‘furries’ to more easily eat without utensils or their hands (ie, like a dog eats from a bowl).”

She was responding to a tweet from right-wing Texas provocateur Michael Quinn Sullivan, who had shared a video of a woman speaking at a December school board meeting in Midland, Michigan, claiming that schools there have added “litter boxes” in the halls to allow students who identify as “furries” to relieve themselves. Sullivan retweeted the video, adding, “This is public education.” (It isn’t; the claims made by the speaker in the video have been shown to be untrue.) 

… Similar reports have popped up elsewhere. In Iowa, an unsourced, anonymous report claimed that school boards were considering placing litter boxes in the bathrooms, while a Canadian public school director took to the media to connect similar rumors in his community to a backlash around accommodations that his schools had created for transgender students. Evans’s claim that Round Rock lowered its tables appears to simply be a new variation on the myth…. 

(12) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter tuned into tonight’s Jeopardy! and saw a contestant struggling with this:

Category: Books and authors

Answer: This feral character raised by jungle animals originally appeared in Rudyard Kipling’s short story “In The Rukh”

Wrong question: Who is Tarzan?

Correct question: Who is Mowgli?

(13) DRY FUTURE FOR SOME. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] With a global population explosion and climate change, both factors will combine to create water shortages in some places (which would not happen otherwise if one or other factor did not exist).  Now, writing in Nature Communications, N. American researchers based in Canada and the US have mapped the global situation.  (Not looking good for SW of the USA.) “Hotspots for social and ecological impacts from freshwater stress and storage loss”.

The most-vulnerable basins encompass over 1.5 billion people, 17% of global food crop production, 13% of global gross domestic product, and hundreds of significant wetlands. There are substantial social and ecological benefits to reducing vulnerability in hotspot basins, which can be achieved through hydro- diplomacy, social adaptive capacity building, and integrated water resources management practices, the researchers conclude.

(14) A LITTLE CHILD SHALL MISLEAD THEM. In “Misunderstandings”, David Bratman says, “A comment elsewhere prompted me to drag out recollections of words whose meaning I misunderstood as a child,” and gives several engaging examples.

*blind spot
I thought this meant you were literally struck blind if you looked in that direction – whether permanently or momentarily I wasn’t sure and didn’t want to find out the hard way. I specifically remember our coming across a road sign with this warning when we were out driving around house-hunting in the hill country, which would put my age at 7. It is characteristic of me that, well over a half century later, I still remember exactly where this was, even though I’ve never gone back to check if the sign is still there. (I might be struck blind!) But from Google street view, apparently not.

(15) A PARAGON. I felt much better about File 770’s copyediting when I read artist James Artimus Owen tell Facebook readers

I have accidentally replaced all the spaces in my current manuscript with the words, “Chuck Norris”. But I’m leaving it in, in hopes that the change will be accepted as one of those necessary, semi-invisible words like “and”, “the”, and “defenestrate.”

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers:  Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker,” Fandom Games, in a spoiler-packed episode, says the concluding Final Fantasy game has many “beautiful and poignant moments” because “you spent 5,000 hours with these characters in the previous 13 episodes,” but there are exciting sidebars, such as “waiting for a really rare monster to appear while someone writes the entire plot of Shrek in chat.”

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Chris Barkley, Joel Zakem, Bruce D. Arthurs, BravoLimaPoppa, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 12/10/21 That’s No Moon – It’s A Harsh Scrollstress

(1) FOR US, THE LIVING. The announcement that Cowboy Bebop won’t get a second season prompted Ryan Proffer to start a “Save the live action cowboy bebop” petition at Change.org.

“For those people who want a second (or more) of the live action cowboy bebop. It wasn’t a direct copy of the anime but the world they put together was amazing and deserve a second season.”

It had almost reached its goal of a thousand signatures when checked this afternoon.

(2) ANALOG AWARD FOR EMERGING BLACK VOICES. Kedrick Brown’s story is the winner of the inaugural Analog Award for Emerging Black Voices reports Locus Online. The award was announced yesterday during the Sixth Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium. The other finalists were Yazeed Dezele, Erika Hardison, and Jermaine Martin. (Locus did not report the story titles.)

The winning story will be purchased and published in Analog, and the author receives one year of monthly mentorship sessions. The finalists receive one mentorship session with Analog editors including a critique of their submission and a chance to ask questions about the field. 

The members of the judging panel for 2021 were Steven Barnes, Nisi Shawl, Kim-Mei Kirtland, Trevor Quachri, and Emily Hockaday.

(3) CITY TECH SF SYMPOSIUM. Gillian Polack, who spoke at yesterday’s Symposium, presents an expanded version of her paper, “The Problem of Susan Australia, or, The Tyranny of Distance” in this video.

(4) SECOND FIFTH. John O’Neill analyzes “The Controversy over Nebula Awards Showcase 55, edited by Catherynne M. Valente” at Black Gate.

I’m hearing grousing about the latest Nebula Awards Showcase, edited by the distinguished Catherynne M. Valente.

This is the 55th volume in the long-running series, and the second to be published directly by SFWA, the Science Fiction Writers of America. As is customary, it contains the complete Nebula award-winning stories, as selected by that august body, as well as a tasty selection of the other nominees, as selected at the whim of the editor.

Well — not exactly. And that seems to be the crux of the problem. For the first time I can remember, the Nebula Awards Showcase contains only one of the winners from last year, A. T. Greenblatt’s short story “Give the Family My Love,” originally published in Clarkesworld. All the others — including the winners in novelette, novella, and novel category — are represented only by brief excerpts….

(5) AFROFUTURISM. At the SFWA Blog, Maurice Broaddus says adults “notoriously underestimate middle school students” and talks about “writing stories more through the lens of Black joy rather than Black trauma” in “Black Joy and Afrofuturism for Young Readers”.

…One way to define Afrofuturism is that it centers joy and hope. Black joy is the tenacity and audacity of Black culture. It exists outside and indifferent to the gaze of dominant culture. It recalls that Black people had life, history, and culture before, during, and outside of the dominant culture’s racial caste system. It basks in the beauty of what it means to be a people and a culture.

It is Black art that centers ourselves, who we are, who we could be, enjoying that totality without guilt….

(6) STATE LAWS TO AID LIBRARY ACCESS TO EBOOKS TARGETED BY PUBLISHERS GROUP SUIT. “AAP Sues to Block Maryland, New York Library E-book Laws” reports Publishers Weekly.

The Association of American Publishers filed suit December 9 to stop a new library e-book law in Maryland from taking effect on January 1, claiming that the law, which would require publishers who offer to license e-books to consumers in the state to also offer to license the works to libraries on “reasonable” terms, is unconstitutional and runs afoul of federal copyright law…

The Association of American Publishes explained the reasons for their suit in a statement on their website:

…“Maryland does not have the constitutional authority to create a shadow copyright act or to manipulate the value of intellectual property interests,” commented Maria A. Pallante, President and CEO of the Association of American Publishers and former head of the United States Copyright Office.  “It is unambiguous that the U.S. Copyright Act governs the disposition of literary works in commerce—and for that matter, all creative works of authorship.  We take this encroachment very seriously, as the threat that it is to a viable, independent publishing industry in the United States and to a borderless copyright economy.”  

The complaint, filed in federal court in Maryland, argues that the Maryland law is preempted by the United States Copyright Act, unconstitutionally interferes with interstate commerce, and violates the Constitution’s Due Process clause by mandating vague and unspecified licensing requirements….

(7) WALKING THE RED CARPETS OF MIDDLE-EARTH. Twenty years sure went by fast! Polygon says “The Lord of the Rings cast premiere photos are priceless 2001 nostalgia”. They’re really good photos in any event.

…The hype was already real by the time promotion for The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring ramped up. In April 2000, the internet-exclusive trailer for Fellowship was downloaded from Apple Trailers 1.7 million times in its first 24 hours, breaking a record set by Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace. (Compare that, though, to the present-day record: Spider-Man: No Way Home’s first trailer, released in August and viewed 355.5 million times in the first 24 hours.) But by May 2001, the time had come to reassemble the fellowship … for many, many, many step-and-repeat red carpet opportunities.

Photographic evidence of the high-stakes press gauntlet for Fellowship suggests that Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Sean Bean, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies, and Liv Tyler (bringing some much-needed femininity to the red carpet bro-out) had a decent time flying around the world to preach the blockbuster word…

(8) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to eavesdrop on a mid-’70s Marvel Bullpen reunion with Bob Budiansky in episode 160 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Bob Budiansky

This episode’s guest, Bob Budiansky, is a old Marvel Bullpen pal… When I was working at mid-’70s Marvel Comics and decided I no longer wanted to edit their line of British reprint books, I got yet another SUNY Buffalo student and newspaper coworker, Jay Boyar, to take my place, and then when he moved on, he recommended Bob. And that serendipity is how his 20-year career at Marvel Comics was born.

Bob’s led a multifaceted comics career as a writer, artist, and editor. He’s written (among other things) The Avengers and all 33 issues of Sleepwalker, a character he co-created, plus most of Marvel’s run of The Transformers, for which he came up with the names of most of the original Transformers, including Megatron. In fact, his contributions to that franchise were so great that in 2010 he was inducted into the Transformers Hall of Fame.

…We discussed the vast differences between the hoops we each had to jump through to get hired back then, why the Skrulls were responsible for him liking DC better than Marvel as an early comics fan, the serendipitous day he attended a wedding and learned the origin of the Golden Age Green Lantern from its creator, why he stopped reading comics in high school … and how Conan the Barbarian got him started again, which Marvel Bullpen staffer saw his art portfolio and suggested he consider a different career, what it was like to witness the creation of Captain Britain, how got his first regular gig drawing covers for Ghost Rider, his five-year relationship developing 250 Transformers characters for Hasbro, and much more.

(9) EATING ONLY SOME OF THE FANTASTIC. The Offing posted G.G. Russey’s grimm but grotesquely funny “Hansel & Gretel: The Fully-Restored Vegan Version”.

… After three days of wandering, the hungry children came upon a gingerbread house mortared with frosting. Hansel rushed over to take a bite.

“Stop, Hansel! You can’t just eat a stranger’s house! It could contain animal products!”…

(10) TWO-PART HARMONY. Now on Fanac.org’s YouTube channel: Wrong Turns on the Wallaby Track: Australian SF Fandom 1936-60, Leigh Edmonds, Perry Middlemiss in 2 parts.

In this delightful Fan History Zoom (Dec 2021), historian Leigh Edmonds provides both context and details of Australian Science Fiction Fandom in the early days. Beginning with an introduction to Australian history of the period by Perry Middlemiss, the session entertainingly describes the important fans, and clubs from the beginnings in Sydney with a Science Fiction League branch, to the Futurian Society of Sydney and the Thursday night group. Leigh provides both entertaining and instructive insights, from the parallels to US fannish history, to the Australian group whose “main form of entertainment was feuding”, and the impact on science fiction readers of the Australian wartime embargo on the import of unnecessary items. He discusses the uniquely Australian barriers to becoming a professional writer in the field, the banning of Weird Tales on moral grounds and more….

Leigh Edmonds is an Australian historian, and honorary research fellow at the Collaborative Research Centre in Australian History (CRCAH) at Federation University in Ballarat, Australia. He is also a very long term science fiction fan. Perry Middlemiss is a fanwriter and editor as well as a former Worldcon chair.

Note: To begin Leigh had technical difficulties for the first 10 minutes so his portion begins after an excellent, but slightly long, introduction by Perry Middlemiss.

(11) CHRIS ACHILLEOS (1947-2021). Artist Chris Achilleos died December 6. His work has appeared in Heavy Metal, on book covers including series based on Conan the Barbarian, Doctor Who and Star Trek, as well as collections of his own work. Collections of his art include Amazona, Sirens, and Beauty and the Beast. Since 1990 he has mostly worked in designing fantasy trading cards as well as selling prints and original works of art.

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2003 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Eighteen years ago, Big Fish premiered. It was directed by Tim Burton from the screenplay by John August which he did off of Daniel Wallace‘s Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions. The cast is, if I must say so myself, amazing: Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange, Helena Bonham, Carter Alison Lohman, Robert Guillaume,  Marion Cotillard, Steve Buscemi and Danny DeVito. Did critics like it? Generally quite so. ReelThoughts said of it, “Big Fish is a clever, smart fantasy that targets the child inside every adult without insulting the intelligence of either.” The box office was modest at best, making just under one hundred twenty-five million against seventy million in production costs not counting marketing. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a most excellent rating of ninety percent. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 10, 1815 Ada Lovelace. Lovelace was the only legitimate child of poet Lord Byron and his wife Lady Byron. She was an English mathematician and writer, principally known for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Genre usage includes Gibson and Sterling’s The Difference Engine, Stirling’s The Peshawar Lancers and Crowley’s Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land. (Died 1852.) 
  • Born December 10, 1903 Mary Norton. Author of The Borrowers which won the 1952 Carnegie Medal from the UK’s Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals recognizing the novel as the year’s outstanding children’s book by a British author. She would continue to write these novels for three decades. Hallmark turned one into a film in the early Seventies. Her novels The Magic Bed Knob; or, How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons which was nominated for a Retro Hugo at Dublin 2019, and Bonfires and Broomsticks would be adapted into the Disney film Bedknobs and Broomsticks in the same period. (Died 1992.)
  • Born December 10, 1927 Anthony Coburn. Australian writer and producer who spent most of his career living and working in the U.K.  He was closely involved in the earliest days of Who to the extent that it’s believed it was his idea for the Doctor’s travelling companion, Susan, to be The Doctor’s granddaughter.  He wrote four scripts for the show, of which Only An Unearthly Child was used. His never produced “The Masters of Luxor” Who script was released by Big Finish Productions as adapted by Nigel Robinson. Titan Books has previously released it as a novel. (Died 1977.)
  • Born December 10, 1928 John Colicos. You’ll remember him as being the first Klingon ever seen on Trek, Commander Kor in the “Errand of Mercy” episode. (He’d reprise that role as the 140-year-old Kor in three episodes of Deep Space Nine.) He’ll next show up as Count Baltar in the original Battlestar Galactica continuity throughout the series and film. He’ll even show up as the governor of Umakran in the Starlost episode “The Goddess Calabra”. He also played three roles on the original Mission: Impossible. (Died 2000.)
  • Born December 10, 1946 Douglas Kenney. He co-founded National Lampoon in 1970 along with Henry Beard and Robert Hoffman. With Beard alone in 1969, he wrote Bored of the Rings. Kenney died after falling from a 35-foot cliff called the Hanapepe Lookout in Hawaii. It was ruled accidental. Chris Miller, co-writer of Animal House with him and Harold Ramis, paid homage to him by naming the main character in Multiplicity Doug Kinney, a variation on his name.  (Died 1980.)
  • Born December 10, 1953 Janny Wurts, 68. Illustrator and writer.  She’s won three Chesley Awards, plus a HOMer Award for her Servant of the Empire novel. I strongly recommend the Empire trilogy that she co-authored with Raymond E. Feist, and her excellent That Way Lies Camelot collection was nominated for a BFA.
  • Born December 10, 1960 Kenneth Branagh, 61. Branagh’s better genre work includes his roles as Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. As a Director, I’m only seeing Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Thor — anyone know of anything else genre related? Is Hercule Poirot genre adjacent? I think so. 
  • Born December 10, 1984 Helen Oyeyemi, 37. I like it when a birthday results in my adding to my audiobook listening list. She’s resident in Prague now and her take on European folktales that surround her there is particularly sharp in Mr. Fox, which was nominated for an Otherwise Award, off that well known tale. And White is for Witching has all the makings of a damn fine haunted house story. Now one should not overlook her Icarus Girl, her first novel, which is fascinating. I’ve not encountered Gingerbread, her latest novel. 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) WHAT IF? SPINOFF. Captain Carter, recently featured in Marvel Studios’ What If, will report for duty in her very own comic series this March. Jamie McKelvie will write the series and design the character’s brand-new look. McKelvie will be joined by rising star artist Marika Cresta, known for her recent work on Star Wars: Doctor Aphra.

The five-issue limited series introduces Captain Carter in an adventure that will find Peggy Carter as a woman out of time, facing the reappearance of an old foe in modern day and deciding what she stands for as the wielder of the shield. 

A reality where Agent Peggy Carter took the Super-Soldier Serum instead of Steve Rogers is turned upside down when the World War II hero is pulled from the ice where she was lost in action decades before. Peggy struggles to find her footing in a modern world that’s gotten a lot more complicated – cities are louder, technology is smarter and enemies wear friendly faces. Everyone with an agenda wants Captain Carter on their side, but what does Peggy want? And will she have time to figure it out when mysterious forces are already gunning for her?

(16) VOLUNTEER FOR DISCON III. Here is another reason to become a virtual volunteer for next week’s Worldcon.

(17) CARBON-BASED UNITS. The Guardian’s Daniel Aldana Cohen hopes Kim Stanley Robinson, author of Ministry for the Future, has the answer: “How will humanity endure the climate crisis? I asked an acclaimed sci-fi writer”.

…The first lesson of his books is obvious: climate is the story. Compared with the magnitude of the crisis, this year’s United Nations climate summit, Cop26, was a poorly planned pool party where half the guests were sweating in jeans, having forgotten their swimming suits. If you’re reading this, you probably know what climate science portends – and that nothing discussed in Glasgow was within rocket range of adequate. What Ministry and other Robinson books do is make us slow down the apocalyptic highlight reel, letting the story play in human time for years, decades, centuries. The screen doesn’t fade to black; instead we watch people keep dying, and coping, and struggling to shape a future – often gloriously.

I spoke to Robinson recently for an episode of the podcast The Dig. He told me that he wants leftists to set aside their differences, and put a “time stamp on [their] political view” that recognizes how urgent things are. Looking back from 2050 leaves little room for abstract idealism. Progressives need to form “a united front,” he told me. “It’s an all-hands-on-deck situation; species are going extinct and biomes are dying. The catastrophes are here and now, so we need to make political coalitions.”…

… Robinson’s elegant solution, as rendered in Ministry, is carbon quantitative easing. The idea is that central banks invent a new currency; to earn the carbon coins, institutions must show that they’re sucking excess carbon down from the sky….

(18) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter witnessed tonight’s Jeopardy! contestants overlooking the author of Frankenstein.

Final Jeopardy: 19th Century British Authors.

Answer: She called herself “the daughter of two persons of distinguished literary celebrity” in an introduction to one of her novels.

Wrong questions: Who is George Elliot? and Who is Emily Bronte?

Correct question: Who is Mary Shelley?

(19) ENTERPRISING ARTIST. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Artist Alain Gruetter did this piece based on Star Trek: Enterprise (2001-2005) featuring the Xindi-Aquatics and Xindi-Insectoids from their third season (2003-2004).

(20) IT WILL TAKE MORE THAN A BELL. Wings now, but pixels in the future. More than a dozen people, including William Shatner, are being awarded their astronaut wings by the US government, however, they may be among the last. “First on CNN: The US gives Bezos, Branson and Shatner their astronaut wings” at CNN.

…The Federal Aviation Administration will […] award Commercial Space Astronaut Wings to […] eight people who flew on Blue Origin’s New Shepherd spacecraft, three who flew on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, and to the four members of the SpaceX crew who spent three days in space in September, CNN has learned.

But the space tourism industry shouldn’t get used to this generous allocation of wings from the federal government. In a twist, the FAA has decided to end the entire Commercial Space Astronaut Wings program on January 1. After that, the FAA will simply list the names of everyone who flies above the 50-mile threshold, the US-recognized boundary of space, on a website….

(21) STICKY SUBJECT. CBR presents an extended look at Spider-Man and Doc Ock’s first fight from No Way Home.

Much to Peter Parker’s confusion, Otto Octavius appears on an overpass bridge and demands to know what has happened to his machine. When Peter doesn’t have any answers, Doctor Octopus begins throwing cars, endangering the lives of the civilians nearby.

(22) SECOND SERVING OF HEDGEHOG. Could Jim Carrey’s mustache here be the phoniest of all time?

(23) HALO THE SERIES. This first-look trailer for Halo was shown during The Game Awards last night. Halo the series will be streaming in 2022 on Paramount+.

Dramatizing an epic 26th-century conflict between humanity and an alien threat known as the Covenant, Halo the series will weave deeply drawn personal stories with action, adventure and a richly imagined vision of the future.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kayinsky, Ben Bird Person, Lise Andreasen, Jennifer Hawthorne, Chris Barkley, Jeffrey Smith, 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 Andrew (not Werdna), part of “The Hugo Pixel Scroll Winners” series.]

Pixel Scroll 10/19/21 He Learned Almost Too Late That Man Is A Scrolling Pixel

(1) TOR.COM DEFCON DOWNGRADED. Reddit has updated yesterday’s warning that Tor.com was hacked and spreading malware to say the site is now “safe-ish” to use.

It appears that Tor.com has taken action and cleaned up the file mentioned in this post, meaning the information below is now outdated and Tor.com should currently be safe-ish to use.

Safe-ish, as the vulnerability that allowed the hack to happen may still exist, along with any possible backdoors the hackers left behind. So until Tor.com confirms that the problem is completely resolved, it is possible that malware might re-appear on the site.

(2) IT’S CROSSOVER SEASON. [Item by Daniel Dern.] This season/year’s Flash/Arroverse crossover will span five episodes across several shows, starting with The Flash, on November 16. Gizmodo has the story: “The Flash: Armageddon First Trailer for New Crossover Event”.

Despero first appeared in  Justice League of America #1 (October 1960) (via Despero – I knew he was initially a JLA villain and was early Silver Age, since I’m pretty sure I remember buying (or borrowing) and reading it when it came out, for a dime… and the TV preview/trailer’s brief chess images around the 15-second mark are, I’m sure, an homage to JLA #1’s cover.) Despy has returned many times over the decades; in more recent manifestations, all muscle-bulked out. I also realized that I was briefly conflating him, JLA-comic-villain-appearance-wise, with Kanjar Ro, my bad. Based on the trailer, in this cross-over, he’ll look like a human being, no head-fin, etc.

Here’s File 770’s roundup of two past crossovers.

2019:

2017: The musical one

And here’s CBR’s summary of the Arrowverse cross-overs: “Every Arrowverse Crossover, Ranked”.

(3) HARROW & VALENTE ONLINE. The Glasgow in 2024 Worldcon bid invites you to joing them for “Tor-rific tales: Alix Harrow and Catherynne M. Valente in conversation with Anna Milon” on Thursday, November 11 at 7:00 p.m. British Summer Time. Free. Register here.

Offering fresh, feminist perspectives and chilling, creepy visions in their reimaginings of beloved stories, the authors will discuss craft, favourite tales, and of course, their latest novellas. So grab a hot drink and a copy of A Spindle Shattered by Alix E. Harrow and Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M. Valente.

(4) RAUM AT THE TOP. The next two articles in Cora Buhlert’s episode-by-episode review of the West German science fiction show Space Patrol Orion are live at Galactic Journey.

Here’s episode 2, “Planet Off Course”: “[October 18, 1966] Moral Dilemmas and Earth in Peril: Space Patrol Orion Episode 2: ‘Planet Off Course’”.

… So far, science fiction had had no presence on West German TV, so professional TV critics were mostly baffled, to put it politely. The Berlin tabloid B.Z. called Orion “pseudoscientific nonsense” set in a “brainless utopia”. The magazine Kirche und Fernsehen (Church and Television) lamented that the dialogues were too complicated for the viewers to understand, at least viewers not used to science fiction and gadget speak….

And here’s episode 3, “Guardians of the Law”: “[October 19, 1966] Routine Missions and Asimovian Robots: Space Patrol Orion Episode 3: ‘Guardians of the Law’”

After pulling out all the stops in episode 2, what would Raumpatrouille Orion do for an encore? Well, instead of threatening the entire solar system this time around, writer Rolf Honold and W.G. Larsen have opted for a more low-key adventure for the Orion 8 and her brave crew.

And so episode 3 “Hüter des Gesetzes” (Guardians of the Law) opens with that most routine of situations, namely a robotics training course for Space Fleet personnel, including the Orion crew. The Orion crew seems bored, but my interest perked up once robotics specialist Rott (Alfons Höckmann) mentioned the Three Laws of Robotics. Yes, Isaac Asimov’s famous Three Laws of Robotics exist in the Space Patrol Orion universe….

(5) FIRST CONTACT. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Great little twitter thread from Farscape star Claudia Black about her encounter with a young James McAvoy. Bit of a long read (best to see the quote about her in the linked article first, to give context), but it’s just heartwarming. (“James McAvoy, Son Of Dune, Has Advice For His Father, Dune Star Timothée Chalamet” at Slashfilm.) Twitter thread starts here.

(6) HEROIC NEW ENCYCLOPEDIA. [Item by Andrew Porter.] After over a year’s worth of work, Jess Nevins completed the expansion and conversion of his Encyclopedia of Print Heroes (2017) to an online edition. Table of Contents here. Introduction here:

The Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes is intended to be a kind of sequel to my Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana: an attempt at providing a panoptical view of the characters of genre culture from across media and around the world, spanning the years from 1902 to 1945. But as was the case with Fantastic Victoriana the title of Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes is likely to be misleading, and some explanation of what the book is and what it is not is necessary. 

Pulp Heroes is an encyclopedia. However, any book with the word “encyclopedia” in the title is at least implicitly laying claim to both authority and exhaustiveness. I’ve made a reasonable attempt at the former, but the latter was beyond my capabilities, and perhaps beyond anyone’s. As I documented in my Pulp Magazine Holdings Directory, time has been cruel to the American pulps. 38% of all American pulps no longer exist (at least in libraries), and 14% of all American pulps survive in only scattered (less than five total) copies. It’s theoretically possible that pulp collectors own large numbers of these missing pulps, but collectors are hard to locate and many are uncooperative when it comes to letting outsiders view their collections (or even to sharing information). [1] Only a handful of academic libraries have more than one or two issues of the longer-lasting and better-known pulps, and more obscure pulps, like Spicy Screen StoriesThrilling Mysteries, and Zeppelin Stories, are completely unavailable. And the rarest pulps of all, Spicy Gorilla StoriesHobo Romance, and Two-Fisted Quaker Mysteries, are not mentioned in even the most in-depth reference works.…

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1954 – Sixty-eight years on this date, Ballantine Books first published Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. It would be awarded a Retro Hugo at Noreascon 4.  It would also be voted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award. Though most reception at the time of publication was extremely favorable with the Galaxy reviewer Groff Conklin saying the novel was “among the great works of the imagination written in English in the last decade or more”, some were not at all pleased with the P. Schuyler Miller review for Astounding saying that it was “one of Bradbury’s bitter, almost hysterical diatribes”. It would later be made into a well-received François Truffaut film which has a strong rating of seventy-two percent among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. A remake which was made three years ago fares much worse garnering a rating of just thirty- three percent. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 19, 1934 Peter Weston. He made innumerable contributions  in fan writing and editing, conrunning, and in local clubs. He was nominated for a number of Hugo awards but never won, including a nomination for his autobiography Stars in My Eyes: My Adventures in British Fandom. Since 1984, those awards have been cast by the car-parts factory which Weston owned and managed until he retired. (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 19, 1940 Michael Gambon, 81. Actor of Stage and Screen from Ireland who is best known to genre fans as Professor Albus Dumbledore from the Hugo-nominated Harry Potter films (a role he picked up after the passing of Richard Harris, who played the character in the first two films). He also had roles in Toys (for which he received a Saturn nomination), Mary ReillySleepy Hollow, and the Hugo finalist Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. He has had guest roles in episodes of The Jim Henson HourDoctor Who, and Tales of the Unexpected, and played an acerbic storyteller and possibly tomb robber in Jim Henson’s The Storyteller. He has also done voice roles in animated features including Fantastic Mr. FoxPaddington, and The Wind in the Willows, in which he voiced very nicely The Badger. 
  • Born October 19, 1945 John Lithgow, 76. He enters SF fame as Dr. Emilio Lizardo / Lord John Whorfin in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. He’ll later be in Santa Claus: The MovieHarry and the HendersonsShrekRise of the Planet of the ApesInterstellar and the remake of Pet Sematary. Oh, and he voiced The White Rabbit on the Once Upon a Time in Wonderland series! He of course is Dick Solomon in 3rd Rock from the Sun.  And for true genre creds, he voiced the character of Yoda in the  NPR adaptations of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
  • Born October 19, 1943 L.E. Modesitt, Jr., 78. Writer of more than 70 novels and 10 different series, the best known of which is his fantasy series The Saga of Recluce. He has been Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, including a World Fantasy Convention. He won a Neffy for his Endgames novel, and a Utah Speculative Fiction Award for his Archform: Beauty novel. 
  • Born October 19, 1946 Philip Pullman, 75. I’ll confess that I like his Sally Lockhart mysteries, both the original versions and the Billy Piper-led series, far more than I enjoy the Dark Materials series as there’s a freshness and imagination at work there I don’t see in the latter. Oh, some of the latter is quite good — I quite enjoyed Lyra’s Oxford and Once Upon a Time in The North as the shortness of them works in their favor.
  • Born October 19, 1955 Jon Favreau, 66. I can’t possibly list everything he’s done so I’ll just singly my favorite things he’s done or will do. He’s the creator of The Mandalorian, and he’s serving as a director and executive producer for its spin-off series, The Book of Boba Fett. He was executive producer of The Avengers and the first and only great Iron Man film where he made his appearance as Happy Hogan, a role he’s reprised several times. 
  • Born October 19, 1990 Ciana Renee, 31. Her most known genre role is as Kendra Saunders / Hawkgirl  on Legends of Tomorrow and related Arrowverse series. She also showed up on The Big Bang Theory as Sunny Morrow in “The Conjugal Configuration”, and she played The Witch in the theaterical production of Daniel Wallace’s Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions.  She was also Elsa in the theaterical production of Frozen.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) THE PRICE FOR CHALLENGING SCIENCE CLAIMS. [Item by Brown Robin.] Is there (scientific) method to this madness? “Bik And Raoult Hydroxychloroquine Feud Exposes Tensions” at Buzzfeed.

Days after a mysterious new illness was declared a pandemic in March of last year, a prominent scientist in France announced that he had already found a cure.

Based on a small clinical trial, microbiologist Didier Raoult claimed that hydroxychloroquine, a decades-old antimalarial drug, was part of a 100% effective treatment against COVID-19. Then–US president Donald Trump promptly proclaimed that the finding could be “one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine.”

But the study seemed off to Elisabeth Bik, a scientist turned science detective living in Silicon Valley. Bik has a sharp eye for spotting errors buried in arcane scientific papers, particularly when it comes to duplicated images. And much about Raoult’s paper looked fishy, as she later noted on her blog. Unfavorable data was left out, and the trial’s timeline was mathematically impossible. “Something does not seem quite right,” she wrote.

Before long, Bik would learn the price of raising such concerns. Raoult and a coauthor went on to call her a “witch hunter,” a “mercenary,” and a “crazy woman” on Twitter and in the press. Then, in April 2021, Raoult’s collaborator announced that they had filed a criminal complaint against Bik and a spokesperson for PubPeer, a website where she and others post scientific criticism, accusing them of blackmail, extortion, and harassment. He tweeted out a screenshot of the complaint, revealing her home address to the world….

(11) TOURING IMAGINARY WORLDS. [Item by David K.M. Klaus.] Rick Steves is / was my / Nila’s favorite travel writer and PBS travel program TV host, and we wished we could have gone on one of his marvelous European tours. I never saw anything specific until this very article, but he always set off my fannish radar. “Rick Steves Casually Reviews Dangerous Fantasy Locations” by Kurt Zemaitaitis at McSweeney’s.

… The Shire used to be the best-kept secret of Middle Earth, but tourists have been flocking there lately because of their famous “second breakfasts.”…

(12) AMBIVALENT OPTION. Kotaku says “Classic Doom Is Now Playable Via A New Twitter Account”. Yeah, I don’t know – I’m still traumatized from playing it on the network in the Loscon game room years ago and being repeated killed by the same teenager before I’m 30 seconds into the game…

Are you bored, sitting in some waiting room? Maybe, instead of just doing nothing you want to play some Doom? Well you could download the fantastic mobile ports of Doom or play it on Switch. Or, why not play Doom using Twitter via short commands and videos?…

(13) CONFLATION. Yeah, I can sort of see how this might cross someone’s mind. This Dune meme is a callback to the poster for the 2000 stoner comedy Dude, Where’s My Car?

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Every Sean Connery Bond” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies take on the six Sean Connery Bond movies (Never Say Never Again doesn’t count).  They note that Connery is “England’s best Scottish spy” and Connery fights “like a drunk stepdad.”  But he’s up against SPECTRE, whose limited range of evil plans results from all the henchmen who keep getting killed off.  Also, for “peak evil performance” you need “the physique of an egg.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Eric Franklin, David K.M. Klaus, Brown Robin, Ben Bird Person, Cora Buhlert, Olav Rokne, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day m.c. simon milligan.]

Pixel Scroll 9/20/21 Something Is Pixelling But You Don’t Know What It Is, Do You, Mr. Scroll?

(1) SOMTOW’S FILM WINS AWARD. This past weekend Somtow Sucharitkul and an orchestra flew in to do a concert at the Oldenburg International Film Festival — the biggest indie fest in Europe, “Sundance of Europe.” The music selected for the occasion, he says, “included all sorts of great music appropriate to our field including the 1922 score from Nosferatu and the ‘classic’ overture to Piranha II.”

The festival audience also witnessed the premiere of The Maestro, a film made with director Paul Spurrier, with Somtow’s score and onscreen performance.  (See File 770’s post about the making of The Maestro.)

In the video below you can watch the entire concert of film music at the Oldenburg Festival — followed by Somtow’s surprise at receiving the Spirit of Cinema Award 2021 for The Maestro.

Oldenburg Festival founder and director Torsten Neumann (left) Somtow Sucharitkul (right)

(2) NO EMMYS FOR SFF SHOWS. The Primetime Emmy Awards aired last night but I don’t have a post up about them because “Sci-fi and fantasy shows completely shut out of Primetime Emmys”, as explained at Winter Is Coming.

… And while series like WandaVision and The Mandalorian cleaned up at the Creative Arts Emmys, which awards more technical categories like production design and costuming, they came up empty at the Primetime Emmys, which rightly or wrongly are considered to be more prestigious….

(3) NEW LEM TRANSLATION. Stanislaw Lem’s 1964 story, published in English for the first time, tells the tale of a scientist in an insane asylum theorizing that the sun is alive. “The Truth, by Stanislaw Lem”, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, is part of a new collection and a free read at The MIT Press Reader.

Here I sit writing in a locked room, where the door has no handle and the windows can’t be opened. They’re made of unbreakable glass. I tried. Not out of a wish to escape or out of rabid fury, I just wanted to be sure. I’m writing at a walnut table. I have plenty of paper. I’m allowed to write. Except no one will ever read it. But I’m writing anyway. I don’t want to be alone, and I can’t read. Everything they give me to read is a lie, the letters start to jump before my eyes and I lose patience. None of what’s in them has been of the least concern to me ever since I realized how things really are….

(4) MARCIA LUCAS’ OPINION ABOUT SW SEQUELS. From Marcia Lucas’ foreword in a new biography about Howard Kazanjian.

IGN continues, in “Marcia Lucas Was ‘Furious’ Over Star Wars Sequel Trilogy: ‘They Don’t Get It’”.

…And perhaps to set the record straight, Lucas also directs her wrath at her ex-husband’s prequel trilogy, revealing her disappointment in Episode I literally brought her to tears in 1999.

“I remember going out to the parking lot, sitting in my car and crying,” Lucas writes. “I cried. I cried because I didn’t think it was very good. And I thought [George] had such a rich vein to mine, a rich palette to tell stories with… There were things I didn’t like about the casting, and things I didn’t like about the story, and things I didn’t like — it was a lot of eye candy. CG.”…

(5) DUNE, ON THE BIG AND BIGGER SCREEN. “’Dune’ Earns $36.8M in Overseas Debut”The Hollywood Reporter has a breakdown.

The highly anticipated Legendary/Warner Bros. movie opened overseas to $36.8 million across 24 markets and 7,819 screens. Russia led international tickets sales with $7.6 million, followed by France ($7.5 million), Germany ($4.9 million) and Italy ($2.6 million).

Dune‘s giant-format ticket sales were a particular stand-out, with the movie earning $3.6 million in Imax ticket sales from 142 screens, making its per-screen Imax average an astounding $25,000. The Imax ticket sales made up 10 percent of the movie’s total international take. The movie was shot for large-format viewing, with the Imax version featuring an exclusive expanded aspect ratio….

(6) IN CASE YOU WANT TO KNOW. Deadline has a vast calendar of when shows will begin airing: “Fall TV Premiere Dates 2021: New and Returning Series”.

Deadline’s comprehensive annual list of fall premiere dates for new series and new seasons of returning series. It covers more than 450 broadcast, cable and streaming shows bowing from September 1 through December 31

(7) SOUNDS OF SILENCE. I’m gradually working my way through SF Signal’s blogroll. It was compiled years ago and many of the authors have in the interim changed to another platform or dropped blogging for other alternatives. Justine Larbalastier explains why she moved on from Twitter in “Why I Left Twitter, or, the Last Day of 2019”, and left  blogging in “The Importance of Masks”, posted in July 2020.

…I haven’t been blogging because I missed the community that used to be here. When this was a regular blog there was a wonderful conversation in response to almost every post. I’m finding blogging here to silence soul sucking.

I miss the community of the old days but I accept those days are gone. The conversations now unfold on social media.

I have found an engaged community on Instagram ready and willing to discuss the intersections of fashion and politics during this pandemic and there are no trolls. I’m loving it. So I post my mini essays there. I will continue to post longer essays here and will soon be updating this site with my fashion research.

I don’t foresee returning to Twitter anytime soon. It was too depressing. I miss those of you I no longer interact with, but my mental health is so much better since I left. So . . .

(8) RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT IN 1840. Barbara Hambly, who is still at it, recently migrated her blogging activity to Barbarahambly.blogspot.com as she notes in “Experimental Post #2”.

And here we are, at my new blog. The website is yet to come, and for the first couple of weeks I’ll be buried in a deadline: Benjamin January # 19, Death and Hard Cider, which takes place against the background of the 1840 Presidential election. I thought about calling it, “Tippecanoe and Murder, Too,” but realized that a lot of people won’t understand the reference to the campaign of William Henry Harrison. That was the first “modern” style Presidential campaign, with songs, rallies, women’s auxiliary organizations (even though women couldn’t vote – the guys found them convenient for providing refreshments at the rallies, and Harrison’s opponents railed against those hussies for handing out leaflets and reading newspapers and having opinions about the politics of their betters)….

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1979 – Forty-two years ago on this evening, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century first aired on NBC. It was developed by Glen Larson who created Battlestar Galactica and Leslie Stevens who created Outer Limits. It is of course based on characters created by Philip Francis Nowlan. The only cast that counts was Gil Gerard as Captain William “Buck” Rogers and Erin Gray as Colonel Wilma Deering. Oh, and Mel Blanc in the first season voicing Twiki. It lasted but two seasons of thirty-seven episodes. Buster Crabbe who played Buck Rogers in the original thirties Buck Rogers film serial would play Brigadier Gordon in an episode here. It’s worth noting that the series re-used most of the props, star fighters, stages, some of the effects film and even costumes from Battlestar Galactica. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 20, 1935 — Keith Roberts. Author of Pavane, an amazing novel.  I’ve also read his collection of ghost stories, Winterwood and Other Hauntings, with an introduction by Robert Holdstock. Interestingly he has four BSFA Awards including ones for the artwork for the cover of his own first edition of Kaeti & Company. (Died 2000.)
  • Born September 20, 1940 — Jonathan Hardy. He was the voice of Dominar Rygel XVI, called simply Rygel, once the royal ruler of the Hynerian Empire, on Farscape.  He was also Police Commissioner Labatouche in Mad Max, and he had a one-off in the Mission: Impossible series that was produced in his native Australia in the “Submarine” episode as Etienne Reynard. (Died 2012.)
  • Born September 20, 1950 — James Blaylock, 71. One of my favorite writers. I’d recommend the Ghosts trilogy, the Christian trilogy and The Adventures of Langdon St. Ives whichcollects all of the Langdon St. Ives adventures together as his best writing, but anything by him is worth reading. I see the usual suspects don’t have much by him but they do have two Langdon St. Ives tales, Homunclus and Beneath London.
  • Born September 20, 1951 — JoAnna Cameron, 70. I’ve previously mentioned in passing Shazam!, a Seventies children’s series done by Filmation. Well she was the lead on Isis, another Filmation children’s series done at the same time. Her only genre appearance was a brief one in the Amazing Spider-Man series. Anyone here seen it? I don’t remember seeing it. 
  • Born September 20, 1955 — David Haig, 66. He played Pangol in “The Leisure Hive” a Fourth Doctor story. He also showed up on Blake’s 7 in “Rumours of Death” as Forres, and was Colonel Bonnet inThe Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Tales of Innocence. He’s also General Vandenberg in the film remake of A for Andromeda. Finally I should I should he’s The Player in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead done at The Old Vic a few years back.
  • Born September 20, 1974 — Owen Sheers, 47. His first novel, Resistance, tells the story of the inhabitants of a valley near Abergavenny in Wales in  the Forties shortly after the failure of Operation Overlord and a successful German takeover of Britain. It’s been made into a film.  He also wrote the “White Ravens”, a contemporary take off the myth of Branwen Daughter of Llyr, found in the New Stories from the Mabinogion series.
  • Born September 20, 1986 — Aldis Hodge, 35. He played Alec Hardison on the Leverage series which just got a reboot. Ok, I know it’s not precisely genre but if there’s a spiritual descendant of Mission: Impossible, this series is it. Both the cast and their use of technology in that series are keeping with the MI spirit. He’s also had one-offs on CharmedBuffy the Vampire SlayerSupernaturalThe Walking DeadStar Trek: Discovery’s Short Takes and Bones (which given that it crossed over with Sleepy Hollow…)

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) FROM THE NEIGHBORHOOD. “Whistle, Gotham City’s latest superhero, is Jewish. It’s a full-circle moment for the comics industry” reports the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

It turns out that Batman’s hometown of Gotham City has a historically Jewish neighborhood, complete with a synagogue. And for this year’s High Holidays, at least one masked superhero will be worshipping there. 

Her name is Whistle, a.k.a. Willow Zimmerman, and she’s a Jewish superhero — DC Comics’ first to be explicitly created as Jewish in 44 years. She’s an activist-turned-masked-crusader who draws inspiration from Jewish teachings; she develops the ability to talk to dogs; and she’s making her debut this month in “Whistle: A New Gotham City Superhero,” a graphic novel geared to young adults.

“There’s a long and fascinating history of Jewish creators in comics,” the book’s author and character creator, E. Lockhart, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “Superman, Batman and Spider-Man were all invented by Jewish men, and scholars have interpreted them through a variety of lenses that take that into account. But while there have certainly been Jewish superheroes before, Whistle is the first Jewish hero to originate as Jewish from DC Comics since 1977.”

Lockhart was referring to Seraph, a superhero from Israel who helped Superman in “Super Friends #7? before immediately falling out of the public eye. 

(13) TWENTY ACROSS. Catherynne M. Valente celebrated on Facebook her appearance as a clue in a Washington Post crossword puzzle.

(14) NEIGHBORHOOD READY TO BEAM UP. Janice L. Newman tells Galactic Journey readers about their new (in 1966) television-watching tradition: “[September 20, 1966] In the hands of an adolescent (Star Trek’s ‘Charlie X’)”.

….It’s official, we now have a “Star Trek” night at our house each week, when we gather our friends and watch the latest episode. Though we’ve only watched two episodes so far, the show is off to an interesting start! This week we saw “Charlie X”, which had thematic similarities to both of the pilots we saw at Tricon….

(Tricon was “this year’s” Worldcon in Cleveland.)

(15) LIKE THE TUNGUSKA EVENT? It’s a theory. “A giant space rock demolished an ancient Middle Eastern city and everyone in it – possibly inspiring the Biblical story of Sodom” reports Yahoo!

…Experiments with laboratory furnaces showed that the bubbled pottery and mudbricks at Tall el-Hammam liquefied at temperatures above 2,700 F (1,500 C). That’s hot enough to melt an automobile within minutes.

The destruction layer also contains tiny balls of melted material smaller than airborne dust particles. Called spherules, they are made of vaporized iron and sand that melted at about 2,900 F (1,590 C).

In addition, the surfaces of the pottery and meltglass are speckled with tiny melted metallic grains, including iridium with a melting point of 4,435 F (2,466 C), platinum that melts at 3,215 F (1,768 C) and zirconium silicate at 2,800 F (1,540 C).

Together, all this evidence shows that temperatures in the city rose higher than those of volcanoes, warfare and normal city fires. The only natural process left is a cosmic impact….

(16) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter was tuned in to tonight’s episode of Jeopardy! where contestants had trouble connecting this chemistry lesson with a famous film.

Final Jeopardy: 1980s Movies

Answer: The dip used to kill characters in this 1988 film consisted of Acetone, Benzene & Turpentine, ingredients in paint thinner.

Wrong questions: What is “Dune?” and “What is Raiders of the Lost Ark?”

Right question: What is, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”

(17) MOVIE HISTORY UP FOR BIDDING. Heritage Auction’s “Monsters & Friends: Featuring The Kevin Burns Collection” event November 5-7 will include many prime items, including these two:

First, Producer Stanley Bergerman’s Personal Copy of the Universal Pictures Script for Frankenstein (1931). A vintage studio bound and bradded, 99-page screenplay for the Classic Horror movie, Frankenstein. Stanley Bergerman was Universal Studios head, Carl Laemmle’s, son-in-law and a Producer. The oversized script is filled with the content that became one of the greatest monster movies of all time. Second, The Wizard of Oz Metro Goldwyn Mayer Clapperboard (1938). A large vintage wooden clapperboard with metal-hinged clapstick, hand lettered in white on the black painted front face, “Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Wizard Of Oz, Director – Victor Fleming, Camera – Harold Rosson,” and dated, at the bottom of the board, “11-6-1938.” 

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

SFWA’s Nebula Awards Showcase 55 Released

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA) spotlights outstanding science fiction and fantasy with the release of the Nebula Awards Showcase 55. The latest volume in a series published annually since 1966 reprints finalists and winners for the 2019 Nebula Awards as voted by SFWA’s full, senior, and associate members.

This volume’s guest editor is Catherynne M. Valente, author of over forty works of science fiction and fantasy, and winner of the Nebula, Hugo, Lambda, Otherwise, Sturgeon, and Locus Awards.

Valente remarks, “The array of nominated works span just about every corner of the genre as it stood in 2019, an incredible spectrum of voices, perspectives, styles, and tales. I’m thrilled to have been able to help in bringing them together to show the truth—which is that we are living, right now, in a new Golden Age of Science Fiction.” 

The anthology retails for $9.99 in ebook format on most online platforms, including Amazon, Apple, and Kobo, with more retailers coming soon. 

As part of the celebration of the Nebula Award winners, SFWA has partnered with audio-first entertainment studio Podium Audio to adapt, produce, and distribute the Nebula Awards Showcase 55 in audio format as well. Publication of the audio version will be announced at a later date.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Introduction by Catherynne M. Valente
  • “The Best of Twines, the Worst of Rhymes: A Tale of Two C++ies (or, Why Game Writing Is Bad and Great)” by Seth Dickinson
  • “Queering Chaos” by Foz Meadows
  • “Lois McMaster Bujold and Being a Grand Master” by LaShawn Wanak
  • “Give the Family My Love” by A. T. Greenblatt*
  • “The Dead, In Their Uncontrollable Power” by Karen Osborne
  • “And Now His Lordship Is Laughing” by Shiv Ramdas
  • “Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island” by Nibedita Sen
  • “A Catalog of Storms” by Fran Wilde
  • “How the Trick Is Done” by A.C. Wise
  • “A Strange Uncertain Light” by G. V. Anderson
  • “For He Can Creep” by Siobhan Carrol
  • “His Footsteps, Through Darkness and Light” by Mimi Mondal
  • “The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye” by Sarah Pinsker
  • “Carpe Glitter” by Cat Rambo*
  • “The Archronology of Love” by Caroline M. Yoachim
  • Excerpt: A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker*
  • Excerpt: Riverland by Fran Wilde*
  • Excerpt: “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom” by Ted Chiang
  • Excerpt: “The Haunting of Tram Car 015” by P. Djèlí Clark
  • Excerpt: “This Is How You Lose the Time War” by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone*
  • Excerpt: “Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water” by Vylar Kaftan
  • Excerpt: “The Deep” by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes
  • Excerpt: “Catfish Lullaby” by A.C. Wise

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 8/11/21 Only Trust Your Scrolls, Pixels Will Never Help You

(1) F&SF COVER REVEAL. The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’s Sept/Oct 2021 cover art, “Jupiter in Half-Phase, Seen from Io,” is by David A. Hardy.

(2) THE RACCOON AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION. Brandiose is a successful creator of logos for minor league sports teams, notably Huntsville’s Rocket City Trash Pandas.

The name Trash Pandas perfectly embodies the dichotomy of the region. A place with a contemporary, optimistic, fresh energy that retains its country flavor.

We wanted to present the Trash Panda racoon as the clever, intelligent creature that it is. It was important to show that this character was less of a “banjos on the porch” type figure and more of a “this guy engineered a rocket ship out of NASA’s trash” kind of critter. 

We loved the idea that the raccoons have their own rocket engineering facility in the woods, next door to their human engineering counterparts. In their dwelling, the raccoons use the human’s discarded rocket junk to construct their own version of NASA (or RASA – Raccoon Aeronautics and Space Administration).

See more examples of their work and read the stories behind them at the link. The New York Times also ran an article about them: “Sod Poodles, Yard Goats and Trash Pandas, Oh My”.

(3) WHAT-IF ORIGINS. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Having been reading long enough to (vaguely) remember the first what-if/imaginary tales (as in, not part of continuity and/or canon), like Superman asking his Fortress of Solitude’s superdupercomputer “what if Krypton hadn’t exploded,” etc… and, Bog knows why, taking those visualizations as, ahem, gospel, versus, “yeah, coulda gone that way”, ult(cough)imately leading to (some of) these stories becoming canonized parallelisms (I’m talking about you, Marvel Ultimate)… and (while I also fault DC in many cases) I’m not moved/interested by/in many of Marvel’s What If’s, well, there’s one particular issue that remains dear to my heart — What If #11, What If The Original Marvel Bullpen Had Become The Fantastic Four?, written and penciled by Jack Kirby!

“[What if] four members of the original Marvel Bullpen were turned into real-life versions of the Fantastic Four: Stan Lee as Mister Fantastic, Sol Brodsky as the Human Torch, Jack Kirby as the Thing, and Flo Steinberg as the Invisible Girl.”

I’ve still got my copy in one of my “do not sell” boxes.

This is (also) among my favorites of “real world people guesting/in comic stories” (I’m also fond of Don Rickles’ appearances in Kirby’s first New Gods stories/plotlines in Jimmy Olsen; ditto Saturday Night Live’s Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time-Players teaming up with Spiderman in Marvel Team-Up #74.) (No, I don’t remember/know the deets, I’m looking ’em up as I go.) (And then there was the Groucho Marx-y character in a Howard the Duck annual…)

Filers can read and enjoy this Kirby masterpiece! It’s on Marvel’s streaming comic service… also in collected-in-book form, in What If? Classic: The Complete Collection Vol. 1 available from bookstores, (free from) libraries and e-free (on HooplaDigital.com ). And perhaps from a nearby friend.

(4) THE NEXT GREAT SFF AWARD. I commented on Camestros Felapton’s blog about the almost nonexistent window between when the Dragon Award ballot is released and the close of voting, and how many novels are finalists, making the award ultimately for the most popular book nobody has read or plans to read before they vote.

Greg Hullender found in that the seed of a great idea:

Hey, that’s a category we’re sorely lacking: most popular unread book. “Looking through your mountain of unread books, which one do you feel most guilty for not having read yet?”

It could have several categories:

Most Popular Unread Book That I Think is SF.

Most Popular Unread Book That I Think is Fantasy.

Most Popular Unread Book That I Suspect Might Not Be Genre.

Most Popular Unread Book That I Bought Mostly for the Cover.

Most Popular Unread Book That I Can’t Remember Why I Bought It.

What would be a good name for these awards? The Tsundoku Awards is too obvious a name. But obviously the prize for winning in a category should be a new book.

(5) AC/DC. “Robin, Batman’s Sidekick, Comes Out As Bisexual” – here’s a transcript of NPR’s discussion on Morning Edition.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, HOST:

After 80 years, Batman’s trusted sidekick finally had his coming-out moment. In the latest comic, Robin – his real name is Tim Drake – accepts a male friend’s offer to go on a date. Many fans of the character have been looking forward to this.

MEGHAN FITZMARTIN: Tim’s struggle with identity – he knows who he is when it comes to vigilantism. But this was a space where it felt the most correct. This was the next moment for him.

NOEL KING, HOST:

That’s Meghan Fitzmartin. She’s the writer for this series of DC Comics.

FITZMARTIN: The significance, I think, has been others seeing themselves in the character and feeling seen and cared for in a way that speaks to something that they’ve seen for a long time.

KING: Robin made his first appearance back in 1940. And he’s not the first comic book superhero to come out as queer, but he is by far the most high-profile one.

GLEN WELDON, BYLINE: People like Northstar, Batwoman, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Iceman, Apollo, Midnighter. But you notice something about all those names. They’re not necessarily household names….

(6) YOUR TAX QUATLOOS AT WORK. James Davis Nicoll probably didn’t have an easy time finding “Five Sympathetic Science Fiction Bureaucrats”.

Fictional bureaucrats often serve as convenient hate sinks, providing the author with characters whose occupation is generally considered fair game for scorn. Obstructive bureaucrats abound in fiction, perhaps because they are not infrequently encountered in real life. But not all writers settle for such easy targets. Indeed, some writers have gone so far as to make a bureaucrat or two into sympathetic figures.

Don’t believe me? Consider these five….

Aiah from Metropolitan by Walter Jon Williams (1995)

Aiah is a low-level functionary in Jaspeer’s Plasm Authority. Roughly speaking, she works for this world’s electric company, plasm being geomantic energy. Hardly a position to command respect, save when one considers that Aiah is a member of a despised ethnicity, the Barkazil. Convincing her coworkers to trust her with even minimal responsibility is a victory of sorts.

Fate hands Aiah a treasure in plasm. In another person’s hands, this would be the first step towards the sort of Simple Plan that ends with the protagonists as dead as a Coen Brothers’ criminal. Aiah, however, is not just hardworking and ambitious. She is cunning as well, which means not only will she leap on the chance to escape her circumstances, and not only can she find someone willing to assist her with her windfall—she has every chance of surviving the transaction.

(7) CONDENSED CREAM OF MFA. Lincoln Michel puts “Everything I’ve Learned about Being a ‘Professional’ Writer in One Post” at Counter Craft.

Last week there was a bizarrely contentious Twitter debate about whether MFA programs should offer professional advice to students or whether it should be a sacred space for art without the messiness of business. I won’t wade into all the threads, but I’m firmly on the side of publishing demystification. I always dedicate part of my MFA courses to answering student questions about submissions, agents, etc. Perhaps this is because I had to figure all of this out myself while so many writers around me seemed to have been passed all this knowledge in secret. I don’t mean that I’m not privileged, but just I didn’t have any family publishing connections or professional mentors or even know any authors growing up. I wish I’d gotten more of a professional education, from banal things like freelance taxes to general advice like how willing you have to be to promote your own work—did you know I have a SF novel called The Body Scout publishing on 09/21 that you can preorder today???—and so I figured I’d just write down everything I’ve learned here in the hope it helps someone else….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

  • 2010 – Eleven years ago at Aussiecon 4 where Garth Nix was the Toastmaster, China Miéville won the Hugo for Best Novel for The City & The City. It shared this honor with The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi.  It was published by Del Rey / Ballantine in hardcover the previous year. Other nominated works that year were Cherie Priest‘s Boneshaker, Robert J. Sawyer‘s Wake, Robert Charles Wilson‘s Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America and Catherynne M. Valente‘s Palimpsest. It would win an amazing number of other awards including the Arthur C. Clarke Award, a BSFA, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, a Kitschie (Red Tentacle) Award, a Locus for Best Fantasy Novel and a National Fantasy Fan Federation Speculative Fiction Award (Neffie). It would be nominated for, but not win, a Nebula. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 11, 1902 Jack Binder. Thrilling Wonder Stories in their October 1938 issue published his article, “If Science Reached the Earth’s Core”, where the first known use of the phrase “zero gravity” is known to happen.  In the early Forties, he was an artist for Fawcett, Lev Gleason, and Timely Comics.  During these years, he created the Golden Age character Daredevil which is not the Marvel Daredevil though he did work with Stan Lee where they co-created The Destroyer at Timely Comics. (Died 1986.)
  • Born August 11, 1932 Chester Anderson. New Wave novelist and poet. He wrote The Butterfly Kid, the first part of the Greenwich Village trilogy. It was nominated for a Hugo Award at Baycon. He wrote one other genre novel, Ten Years to Doomsday, with Michael Kurland. Not even genre adjacent, but he edited a few issues Crawdaddy! in the late Sixties. (Died 1991.)
  • Born August 11, 1959 Alan Rodgers. Author of Bone Music, a truly great take off the Robert Johnson myth. His “The Boy Who Came Back From the Dead” novelette won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction, and was nominated for a World Fantasy Award, and he was editor of Night Cry in the mid Eighties. Bone Music is the only work available from the usual suspects. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 11, 1961 Susan M. Garrett. She was a well known and much liked writer, editor and publisher in many fandoms, but especially the Forever Knight community. (She also was active in Doctor Who and The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne fandoms. And no, I had no idea that the latter had a fandom given its short longevity.) She is perhaps best known for being invited to write a Forever Knight tie-in novel, Intimations of Mortality. It, like the rest of the Forever Knight novels, is not available from the usual suspects. (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 11, 1962 Brian Azzarello, 59. Writer of the comic book 100 Bullets, published by Vertigo. Writer of DC’s relaunched Wonder Woman series several years back. One of the writers in the Before Watchmen limited series. Co-writer with Frank Miller of the sequel to The Dark Knight Returns, The Dark Knight III: The Master Race.
  • Born August 11, 1976 Will Friedle, 45. Largely known as an actor with extensive genre voice work: Terry McGinnis aka the new Batman in Batman Beyond which Warner Animation now calls Batman of the Future, Peter Quill in The Guardians Of The Galaxy, and Kid Flash in Teen Titans Go!  to name but a few of his roles.
  • Born August 11, 1964 Jim Lee, 57. Korean American comic-book artist, writer, editor, and publisher.  Co-founder of Image Comics, now senior management at DC though he started at Marvel. Known for work on Uncanny X-Men, Punisher, Batman, Superman WildC.A.T.s. and Before Watchman. Now Lee is the sole Publisher of DC Comics.
  • Born August 11, 1983 Chris Hemsworth, 38. Thor in the MCU film franchise and George Kirk in the most recent Trek film franchise. Other genre performances include Eric the Huntsman in the exemplary Snow White and the Huntsman and The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Curt Vaughan in Cabin in the Woods and Agent H in Men in Black: International. Ok who’s seen the latter? It’s on my bucket list. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) DOUBLE JEOPARDY! Deadline says this is how they’re dividing the baby: “’Jeopardy!’: Mike Richards To Host Syndicated Show, Mayim Bialik To Host Primetime Specials & Spinoffs”.

The search for new permanent host of Jeopardy! is officially over. The show’s executive producer Mike Richards has been named the new permanent host of the venerable syndicated game show, succeeding the late Alex Trebek. Additionally, Sony Pictures Television announced that The Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik will host Jeopardy!’s primetime and spinoff series, including the upcoming Jeopardy! National College Championship set to air on ABC next year. The Greatest of All Time winner Ken Jennings will return as consulting producer for the show…. 

(12) HI BROOKE! “I’m Brooke Gladstone and I Am a Trekker” from WYNC Studios – listen or read the transcript at the link.

In September 1966, Gene Roddenberry dispatched the crew of the Starship Enterprise on its maiden voyage through space and time and into the American living room. In a vintage OTM piece, Brooke explores the various television incarnations of the franchise and the infinitely powerful engine behind it all: the fan.

Brooke Gladstone: Editor’s log star date, August 11th, 2021. To mark what would have been the 100th birthday of Gene Roddenberry, the creator of one of my favorite shows, we are replaying a piece I made all the way back in 2006. I’m Brooke Gladstone. I am a Trekker.

William Shatner: Get a life, will you, people? For crying out loud, it’s just a TV show.

Brooke: When William Shatner said that on Saturday Night Live, though to be fair, he didn’t write it, it stung.

Barbara Adams: I think a lot of fans feel like they are not respected. They’re almost ashamed to admit they’re fans of Star Trek unless they hear two or three references to Star Trek in the conversation.

Brooke Gladstone: Not Barbara Adams, so moved was she by this series; optimistic, pluralistic vision of the future that when serving on the jury in the whitewater trial 10 years ago, she wore the uniform of a Starfleet officer. “If it helps to make people think a little more about what those ideals are, then I’ll keep wearing this uniform,” she said, and then was promptly dismissed for talking to the press….

(13) DJINN BUZZ. The Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron staff are joined by Patricia Jackson and Elias Eells to discuss A Master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark on Saturday, August 14 at 3:00 p.m. US Eastern Time. The streaming show is accessible via YouTube, Facebook Live, and Twitch.

(14) HEAR VALENTE. The Glasgow in 2024 Worldcon bid presents “The Present is Purple with Catherynne M. Valente” in conversation with Ed Fortune, August 24 at 7:00 p.m. BST. Register here.

About this event

Summer is slowly fading away but Glasgow in 2024 is not taking a break in bringing you amazing bookish events! Join us on August 24th for an exciting evening with the brilliant Catherynne M. Valente to talk about her brilliant new novella The Past is Red, out now from TorDotCom… Grab a copy and an iced drink and join us!

The future is blue. Endless blue…except for a few small places that float across the hot, drowned world left behind by long-gone fossil fuel-guzzlers. One of those patches is a magical place called Garbagetown…

(15) TRAILER OF DOOM. Doom Patrol Season 3 streams September 23 on HBO Max.

Go through the looking glass with a super-powered gang of outcasts (including Matt Bomer as Negative Man, Joivan Wade as Cyborg, Brendan Fraser as Robotman, and more). Last seen at a decrepit amusement park where Chief (Timothy Dalton) witnessed his metahuman daughter, Dorothy (Abigail Shapiro) engaged in a fiery face-off with “The Candlemaker,” an ancient evil deity who will stop at nothing to fulfill his world-ending destiny, join the #DoomPatrol for an action-packed third season.

(16) ANIMATED WITCHER. Face your demons. The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf premieres August 23 on Netflix.

(17) KITTY THE FREELOADER. Science has discovered “Cats prefer to get free meals rather than work for them” reports Phys.org. No shit!

When given the choice between a free meal and performing a task for a meal, cats would prefer the meal that doesn’t require much effort. While that might not come as a surprise to some cat lovers, it does to cat behaviorists. Most animals prefer to work for their food—a behavior called contrafreeloading.

… “There is an entire body of research that shows that most species including birds, rodents, wolves, primates—even giraffes—prefer to work for their food,” said lead author Mikel Delgado, a cat behaviorist and research affiliate at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “What’s surprising is out of all these species cats seem to be the only ones that showed no strong tendency to contrafreeload.”

(18) THEORY X GETS SPACED. Jacobin’s Meagan Day investigates a lost bit of space history in “Houston, We Have a Labor Dispute”.

For decades, rumors have circulated about a strike in space. The story goes that in 1973, the three astronauts on the Skylab 4 mission took an unplanned day off to protest ground control’s management style, and the job action resulted in improved working conditions. It’s a great story.

According to Skylab 4 crew member Ed Gibson, that’s not exactly what happened. But his telling of events, though it differs from the tidy and entertaining “space strike” narrative, is still a tale of overwork, micromanagement, and perceived noncompliance bringing management to the table. And Gibson’s account still confirms that even a whiff of collective action can shift the balance of power in workers’ favor.

Earlier this year, the BBC broadcast an interview with Gibson, the last surviving Skylab 4 crew member, conducted by Witness History producer and presenter Lucy Burns. “We’ve only had one reporter other than you talk to us in the past forty-seven years,” Gibson told Burns. He set out to correct the record.

Gibson maintains that the crew didn’t mean to go on strike. But what did happen had a similar effect in terms of giving the astronauts leverage and intervening in a bad (extraterrestrial) workplace dynamic.

(19) HOME COOKING. Stephen Colbert’s monologue had more to say about that Field of Dreams Apple Pie Hot Dog beginning around 8 minutes into this YouTube video. Includes info about how to make it at home from creator Guy Fieri.

(20) READERS DIGESTION. Dark Horse Direct is taking pre-orders of these Dune: Sandworm Bookends based on how the creatures appear in the forthcoming movie. Cost  $149.99, only 2,000 will be sold.

Dark Horse Direct, in partnership with Legendary Entertainment, is proud to present the Dune: Sandworm Bookends! Based on the giant sandworms from the highly anticipated new film of the iconic science fiction epic, Dune, these bookends will have you watching your walking pattern over the sands of Arrakis.

Each half measuring 8.5” tall by 8” wide by 6.5” deep, this highly detailed bookend set is meticulously sculpted and hand painted to showcase the fearsome sandworm as it erupts out of the sands, ready to defend its territory and the most precious resource in existence.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Professional Movie Fan Tutorial:  Pro Tips” on Screen Rant, written by Ryan George, Dave Heuff plays professional super movie fan “Fredge” Buick, who explains that a professional movie fan has to be perpetually angry! (his avatar is Heath Ledger’s Joker), have questionable hygiene, and use a lot of duct tape to sneak the noisy snacks you want inside the theatre.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Richard Horton, Todd Mason, John A Arkansawyer, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jake.]

Pixel Scroll 7/14/21 Still Crazy After All These Light-Years

(1) F&SF COVER PREVIEW. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction shared an advance look at the cover of its July/August 2021 issue by artist Alan M. Clark.

(2) A PERSPECTIVE ON AFRICAN SF. Marta Mboka Tveit discusses how “The rise of African Speculative Fiction and other exciting cultural production indicates that modernity is not an exercise in ‘catching up’ with Europe, but an entirely new condition” in “Makeshift modernity” at Africa Is A Country.

…First off, let me argue how excellent the rise of ASF is for everyone, but most importantly for us, the people of African descent. “The place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I make it,” said James Baldwin. To make it, one must first imagine it; to make change, one must first imagine a different kind of future. ASF can be linked to the decolonization of the mind in many ways: we must break the molds of colonial prescriptions, education, and decisions about Africa’s place in the world, much like speculative fiction breaks the mold of what can and cannot exist.

ASF points to an insistence on partaking in the technology-steeped global future and represents a push to actively influence that future. Furthermore, publishing and sharing tales and ideas about the future shows a new kind of optimism and self-confidence. Newfound confidence also arguably comes from stronger and more frequent connections with cousins from another planet—those in African America—facilitated by modern communication technology and faster cultural exchange. Africa is looking to African America for cool self-confidence, and African America is looking to Africa for roots and authenticity. This has been going on for a long time. Increasingly, however, African American interest has given cultural expressions from the continent a boost onto the global stage. After five centuries of the rest of the globe telling Africa its cultures and inputs are useless, those cultures and inputs suddenly find themselves at the forefront of global “cool.” But this time around, we might actually gain something from it….

(3) SCORCHED EARTH. Elaborate attempts to sabotage Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Reddit “Ask Me Anything” yesterday prompted Paul Weimer to connect the dots, saying “the trolls are trying to ruin my life and the lives of those even lightly connected to me” in “A Quick Post on Trolls Again” on his Patreon. He attributes the attack to his having retweeted the author’s announcement of the AMA.

… So what they did is, just before her AMA, they set up a fake account very similar to her name (one letter changed to the number one) and set up their OWN AMA.  So, not only were they impersonating here (with plenty of comments and stuff about my supposed perfidy), Nicole could not actually do her own AMA at first.

And when THAT got sorted and she started her real AMA, the troll account started answering questions posed to her in the real AMA, until the moderators finally banned them from the AMA…. 

And the trolls also subjected Paul to a new round of harassment at work and by trying to get into some of his online accounts.

Nicole Kornher-Stace tweeted a thread of her own about the experience that starts here. A few excerpts —

And here’s a screencap of the Reddit moderator’s announcement while they were trying to manage the trollish invasion of the real AMA.

(4) ADA HOFFMANN BOOK LAUNCH. Ada Hoffmann’s The Fallen, the sequel to her debut, The Outside, was released yesterday. The author will be in conversation with Janelle Shane in a free online event on July 15 (3pm MDT/5pm EDT/10pm BST) on Facebook and YouTube

Released to immediate acclaim in 2019, The Outside was nominated for both the Philip K. Dick Award and the Compton Crook Award, so the follow-up, continuing the story of scientist Yasira Shien as she faces off against awesome AI gods and angels, is hotly anticipated to say the least!

Excitedly, to mark the next book in this eldritch-horror-meets-space-opera universe, Ada will (very appropriately) be in conversation with Janelle Shane, optics and AI researcher, host of the AI humor blog AIWeirdness.com, and author of the 2019 popular science book, You Look Like a Thing and I Love You

(5) I HAVE NO CATNIP AND I MUST SCREAM. Camestros Felapton presents “A Message From: The CattimothyTech Dept.” It was a great ride while it lasted. Which wasn’t long!

…Dear valued subscriber,

Thank you for joining us on the amazing journey into freedom. It has been a truly inspiring five thousand and forty seconds in which we came together in the spirit of unity that shaped our great nation. When our founder, CIO, CFO and CEO Timothy the Talking Cat outlined his vision for a truly free and anti-elite tech platform for all Americans, we were inspired by how many of you rallied around his cause to break free of the shackles of facebooktwittergoogle. …

(6) WHAT ABOUT. Space.com is actually complaining that the Emmys neglected genre despite the huge haul of nominations for The Mandalorian, WandaVision, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Lovecraft Country “’The Mandalorian’ receives 24 Emmy nominations, including Best Drama Series”.

…Sadly, the sci-fi genre wasn’t well represented in this year’s nominations, which were announced Tuesday  (July 13). Again. It seems only the big franchise names received any kind of attention. There was nothing for “The Expanse” on Amazon Prime Video or “For All Mankind” on Apple TV+ or HBO’s “Raised By Wolves” — and while that show gradually descended into insanity as Season 1 concluded, the actual performances were outstanding. And what about SyFy’s “Resident Alien” in the Comedy category? The eligibility period for 2021 submissions was from June 1, 2020 to May 31, 2021, so all of those shows could’ve been recognized….

(7) DON’T TAKE IT FOR GRANTED. On the other hand, WandaVision’s team is a little surprised: “How ‘WandaVision’ Went From ‘Totally Bananas’ Underdog to Emmy Juggernaut” at Vanity Fair.

…Not that the WandaVision team expected it to happen, at least like this. “Honestly, I was like, if we have one nomination, we will have won,” says series showrunner Jac Schaeffer, who also earned a writing nomination. “The cards are kind of stacked against the superhero space when it comes to recognition and awards.”

By the time nominations morning arrived, Schaeffer may have been the only one—most pundits were betting big on WandaVision, though maybe not 23 nominations big—but when it started, WandaVision really was an underdog. It became the first Marvel project on Disney+ basically by accident, when the pandemic delayed production on other shows, meaning that the bright new future of Marvel on television was being introduced by a defiantly oddball story about grief, sorcery, and classic television. “I felt very secure early on sort of occupying this little corner of the sandbox,” Schaeffer says. “The idea was that Falcon and the Winter Soldier would go first and, and that we could be weird in this little space.”

Instead, WandaVision debuted in mid-January at the peak of a world-altering pandemic, which many viewers had spent stuck at home and, like Wanda Maximoff herself, filtering their realities through television. “There was sort of an element of kismet to it,” Schaeffer says. “The content of the show itself ended up being a reflection of what so many people were doing in their own homes, you know, retreating into their favorite shows as a form of comfort.”

On Emmy nominations morning, both Olsen and Schaeffer were busy sharing the celebration with the rest of the team, though it wasn’t easy to take in the scope of the success….

(8) DOUBLE UNDERLINE. Meanwhile, Adweek declares “Streaming Has Officially Taken Over TV Awards Season”.

No matter how you look at the nomination breakdowns released Tuesday, the story is clear: If it wasn’t already a sure thing that streaming is the future of television, the 2021 Emmy nominations have officially cemented it.

Streaming services accounted for four of the five top nominated outlets, with HBO Max (paired with HBO) and Netflix overwhelmingly dominating in terms of total nominations. Disney+, less than two years old, beat out every broadcast and cable network in terms of nominations and came in third overall.

Apple TV+, which isn’t even a breakout streamer (parent company Apple has mostly given it away for free since its launch), received more nominations (34) than all the broadcast networks aside from NBC. 

(9) WHAT’S AHEAD FOR AMERICA. James Davis Nicoll curated these “Five Speculative Visions of a Future America” for Tor.com. I was pleasantly surprised to find I’m not the only fan who remembers this one —

Rosinante Trilogy by Alexis Gilliland

Crisis and political necessity led to the formation of the North American Union, encompassing the United States, Mexico, Canada, and a few other nations. The formative crisis having past, the Union is held together largely thanks to the determination of a cabal of conservatives, the Creationist Coalition. The central figures in the Administration are determined to not let their power and influence slip away. Their resolve proves the North American Union’s undoing.

The Administration is long on steadfast purpose, but short on foresight. Assassinating a Hispanic populist governor alienates Hispanic North Americans. Paranoid attempts to capture a suspected Old Regime sympathizer force the sympathizer to see the Union as his enemy. Each move undertaken to ensure the Union’s stability instead undermines it, with the inevitable result that the North American Union collapses into independent nation states.

(10) EFFECTS HISTORY. BBC Radio 4 has aired the second installment of Unreal: The VFX Revolution “Digital Realms”.

How visual effects changed and how they changed the movies. Oscar winner Paul Franklin explores how film entered the digital realm.

The 1970s saw the very first onscreen digital effects in films like Westworld. Those first pioneers of CGI already spoke of digital humans, indeed of entire films being made within the computer, but Hollywood was unconvinced. By 1979, some of those visionaries like Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith, later founders of Pixar, were working for filmmaker George Lucas, who primarily wanted new digital tools for editing and compositing and to explore computer graphics. Their first all-digital sequence created life-from lifelessness with the Genesis effect for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Meanwhile Disney itself was creating TRON, a spectacular mix of state-of-the art animation and pioneering digital effects that took audiences into cyberspace for the first time. In their different ways these two films were the true harbingers of the digital revolution that would bring profound change to moviemaking within little more than a decade. And then came Terminator 2’s chrome shape shifter-the T1000. The revolution was underway.

(11) MEMORY LANE.

  • 2006 – Fifteen years ago, Catherynne M. Valente would win the Otherwise Award and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for The Orphan’s Tale: In the Night Garden. (It would also be nominated for a World Fantasy Award.) Two years later, she won a second Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for The Orphan’s Tale: In the Cities of Coin and Spice.  Both volumes are available from the usual suspects for just five dollars and ninety-nine cents. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 14, 1904 — Zita Johann. She’s best known for the lead performance in Karl Freund’s 1932 film, The Mummy which also featured Boris Karloff. She wouldn’t show in another horror film for another fifty-four years when she was in Raiders of the Living Dead as a Librarian as her original career only lasted three years. She quit film to work in theater where she where she was a partner of John Houseman, her husband, who she was married to from 1929 to 1933, and with Orson Welles as well. She also taught acting to people with learning disorders. (Died 1993.)
  • Born July 14, 1906 — Abner J. Gelula. One of the many authors* of Cosmos, a serialized novel that appeared first in Science Fiction Digest in July 1933 and then has a really complicated publication that I won’t detail here. It was critiqued as “the world’s most fabulous serial,” “one of the unique stunts of early science fiction,” and conversely “a failure, miserable and near-complete.” The entire text, chapter by chapter, can be read here. *To be precise,  Earl Binder, Otto Binder. Arthur J. Burks,  John W. Campbell, Jr., Lloyd Arthur Eshbach. Ralph Milne Farley, Francis Flagg, J. Harvey Haggard, Edmond Hamilton, David H. Keller, M.D., Otis Adelbert Kline, A. Merritt, P. Schuyler Miller, Bob Olsen, Raymond A. Palmer, E. Hoffmann Price and Edward E. Smith. Gulp!  (Died 1985.)
  • Born July 14, 1926 — Harry Dean Stanton. My favourite genre role for him? The video for Procul Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale”. No, I’m not kidding.  He also played Paul of Tarsus in The Last Temptation of Christ, Harold “Brain” Hellman in Escape from New York, Detective Rudolph “Rudy” Junkins in Christine, Bud in Repo Man, Carl Rod in Twin Peaks twice, Toot-Toot in The Green Mile, Harvey in Alien Autopsy and a Security Guard in The Avengers. He didn’t do a lot of genre tv, one episode of The Wild Wild West as Lucius Brand in “The Night of The Hangman” and a character named Lemon on Alfred Hitchcock Presents in the “Escape to Sonoita” episode. (Died 2017.)
  • Born July 14, 1939 — Sid Haig. Best remembered as having a lead role in Jason of Star Command as the villain Dragos. He had one-offs in BatmanMission: Impossible, Star TrekGet SmartFantasy IslandBuck Rogers in the 25th Century, and MacGyver. His Trek appearence was First Lawgiver in “The Return of the Archons”, and someone in casting at Mission: Impossible liked him as he had nine different roles there. He was Royal Apothecary twice on Batman, not a role I recognize. (Died 2019.)
  • Born July 14, 1943 — Christopher Priest, 78. This is the Birthday of the One and True Christopher Priest. If I was putting together an introductory reading list to him, I’d start with The Prestige, add in the Islanders (both of which won BSFAs)and its companion volume, The Dream Archipelago. Maybe Inverted World as well. How’s that sound?  
  • Born July 14, 1949 — Brian Sibley, 72. He co-wrote (with Michael Bakewell) BBC Radio 4’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. He also adapted The Chronicles of Narnia, and Titus Groan and Gormenghast for the same. Print wise, he’s responsible for such works as The Lord of the Rings Official Movie Guide and The Lord of the Rings: The Making of the Movie Trilogy. His only Award to date is a Sir Julius Vogel Award which is given by the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand (SFFANZ) and the National Science Fiction convention for Weta Digital: 20 Years of Imagination on Screen.
  • Born July 14, 1964 — Jane Espenson, 57. She had a five-year stint as a writer and producer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer where she shared a Hugo Award at Torcon 3 for her writing on the “Conversations with Dead People” episode, and she shared another Hugo at Chicon 7 for Games of Thrones, season one. She was on the writing staff for the fourth season of Torchwood and executive produced Caprica. And yes, she had a stint on the rebooted Galactica.
  • Born July 14, 1966 — Brian Selznick, 55. Illustrator and writer best known as the writer of The Invention of Hugo Cabret which may or may not be genre. You decide. His later work, Wonderstruck, definitely is. The Marvels, a story of a travelling circus family is magical in its own right though not genre. His next work, Kaleidoscopic, due out this autumn looks to just as fantastic. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Gasoline Alley, after a week or so following a colander-hat-guy “hearing ghost voices,” solves the mystery.
  • Broom Hilda needs a proofreader just as much as I do.

(14) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Is Jason Cordova trying to suggest John Scalzi ripped off two of his novels? Here’s a screencap of Cordova’s Facebook post.

What seems clear to Cordova might not seem so clear to anyone else. Scalzi’s “Preservation Society” in his title phrase sounds like it’s about a rather different subject than Cordova’s “Urban Revitalization Project.” And Cordova’s own title resonates with a line from Godzilla 1985 (as quoted in the Wikipedia) — “That’s quite an urban renewal program they’ve got going on over there” – a coincidence that would be of no more than trivial interest but for Cordova’s complaint.  

As for Cordova’s The Corruptor – the Amazon blurb says this is what the book is about:

…The single greatest advance in computer technology since the invention of the microchip, the Warp is a virtual reality gaming system so advanced that players aren’t just in the game, they are the game. And inside the Warp lies the most cunning of all games, the de facto king of online gaming. It is the one game said to be unbeatable: Crisis.

The Warp was flawless, and the game was perfect. Until something went terribly wrong, trapping Tori Adams and her friends inside it, unable to log off and free their minds from the uploaded virus in their brains. With no other options available and time running out, they must do the one thing that has never been done before—what experts say can’t be done—they must beat Crisis in order to save their lives.

I have read Scalzi’s Lock In but not Cordova’s book, however, from the latter’s description they appear to have about the same degree of overlap as Ready Player One and The Matrix.

(15) HYPE TIME. Two members of the MCYouTube react to the upcoming film FreeGuy featuring Ryan Reynolds and Taika Waititi. “Deadpool just slipped into the MCU early, to make fun of Ryan Reynolds”.

…like so many other studios, Disney is facing the question of how to goose up active interest in a film it’s been teasing since 2019. The apparent solution: Bring in Deadpool, dump him into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and have him promote the film.

(16) GAIMAN ON SCREWTAPE. Brenton Dickieson shares “Neil Gaiman’s Introduction to The Screwtape Letters, Marvel Comics Edition” at A Pilgrim in Narnia.

… someone sent me a snapshot of the introduction to an edition that is slightly different than my own gifted copy of the Marvel Comics version of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. This other edition does not reproduce Lewis’ own 1941 preface as mine does. Instead, it has a special introduction written by Neil Gaiman.

As readers will know, Gaiman is not simply a giant in the fantasy world–outside of the horror genre, I think American Gods is the most important work of fantasy on the continent–but one of the new generation pioneers of the graphic novel medium. He is also a lifelong Narnia fan–and, we discover here, a lover and appreciative reader of Screwtape. Leaving beside any technical matters you might normally find in an introduction, Gaiman still manages to orient the reader to the book in their hands while giving us a sense of what he loves about Screwtape as a theologically interested but not specifically religious reader.

Besides some good swipes at the American Christian culture war (the ’90s one, not the current one) and a perceptive description of Narnia, Gaiman draws the reader to Screwtape for entertainment, delight, and wisdom. Gaiman’s perspective of Screwtape‘s impact has reminded me of that larger group of readers of Lewis that keep coming back to his works….

(17) MIGHT BE ON YOUR BOOKSHELF. Fonts In Use looks back at the design of “Philip K. Dick paperback covers (Panther Science Fiction)” from the Seventies.

Roslyn Gothic arguably saw its most extensive and iconic use on the paperback covers with works by Philip K. Dick as published by Panther Books.

Designed by Harry Winters, Roslyn Gothic was released by Visual Graphics Corporation (VGC) in 1972, to be used with their Photo Typositor, a popular display typesetting machine of the phototype era. There were three styles; Medium, Bold, and Outline. The sans serif of condensed proportions is infused with some traits that seem to harken back to Art Nouveau, or Jugendstil: counters in dg, or p are tear-shaped, e has a diagonal bar while the top arm of K is vertical, some stems in mnu are slightly curved, A is asymmetrical, and G is pointed at the bottom. Several of these features can also be found in German typefaces from around 1900, like Sezessions-Grotesk or Skulptur. By giving his design a large x-height and tight letterspacing, Winters turned these influences into a quintessential 1970s display typeface. With its punchy yet slightly alien-looking shapes, Roslyn Gothic became a popular choice on book covers in the science fiction genre.

(18) SPEAKER FOR THE TREES. No, we’re not talking about the Lorax. In this video of “Trees, Chainsaws, and the Visions of Paradise in J.R.R. Tolkien” from 2002, Tom Shippey discusses Tolkien’s relationship to trees, the literary function of forests, and the under-rated sophistication of Hobbit poetry. This quote comes from the YouTube transcript —

…Perhaps the best example of this comes from a colleague of mine now a professor of Harvard who tells this anecdote which I shall rapidly pirate. He said that some it must have been at least thirty years ago when he was a student backpacking his way around Europe he found himself in Oxford and he went to the University parks and he found a bench there and took his backpack off and sat down on the bench and looks at the parks for a bit. And at this point I’m an old guy came up very well-dressed and he came along and he sat down on the bench and he started to talk about trees. Trees, how beautiful they were, trees, some particularly beautiful trees, trees, now some trees he was personally fond of, trees, the awful things people did to trees, trees, how awful people were who did these awful things to trees trees, what we ought to do to these awful people in the world. But at this point my colleague said he was beginning to get rather nervous, picks his backpack up and edged away reflecting that you know they haven’t got all the weirdos locked up yet by any means. But next morning he got the local paper and discovered a picture of the old weirdo in it and it was of course the distinguished professor talking who was in the paper because he’d been collecting an honorary doctorate… 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Gordon Van Gelder, Anna Grace Carpenter, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]