“The Difference Between Love and Time” by Catherynne M. Valente Someone in Time: Tales of Time-Crossed Romance, edited by Jonathan Strahan, Solaris Books, 2022
Review by Lis Carey: Our first-person narrator first meets the space-time continuum when she is a little girl playing with her Lego set, and he is presenting as a boy of the same age. He changes her Lego set in to a fancier one, one that possibly Lego does not actually make. It’s the start of an off and on relationship, in which sometimes, for her, there may be minutes or years between their meetings. They go to high school together. She goes to college, but because of the weird dimensional effects of college with all those young people in transitional stages, he can’t even set foot on campus, and has to meet her elsewhere.
They have breakups and reconciliations. He tells her about other dimensions where she’s a happier woman. Or a happier greyhound. It’s a kaleidoscope, which she spends much of in the decaying seaside town of Ocean Shores, WA, because she loves it.
It’s a strange, kaleidoscope love story, and Things Happen that, well, that would be way too spoilery.
Honestly, just go with it. You’ll find out the difference between love and time.
I received this story as part of the 2023 Hugo Voters Packet.
(1) LISTEN UP, BUCKAROOS. Dan Berger has served for the last nineteen years as the editor-in-chief of World Watch One, the Buckaroo Banzai fan newsletter/zine. Dan sent the link to their latest issue with a note, “I’m not sure you absolutely need to be a Buckaroo fan to find something fun in this issue, but it doesn’t hurt either.” The theme of World Watch One August 2023 is “Afrocentric”.
(2) UKRAINE BENEFIT ANTHOLOGY. [Item by Marc Criley.] Over 30 writers contributed stories to To Ukraine, With Love, a “benefit anthology of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Myths, Legends, Fairy Tales, and Eldritch Stories, Poems, and Art.” Just released and available via all the usual bookseller outlets.
100% of profits from all forms — print, epub, and audiobook — will be donated to charities for Ukraine.
The anthology was spearheaded and edited by Fran Eisemann, the editor of Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores magazine.
Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores presents To Ukraine, With Love benefit anthology, with 100% of the profits to be donated to causes for Ukraine, including World Central Kitchen and similar charities which will earmark 100% of a contribution to a specified cause.
All the science fiction, fantasy, myths, legends, fairy tales, and eldritch stories and poems, and the artwork, have been donated. Contributors include Geoffrey Landis, David Brin, Terri Windling, Andrew Burt, George Guthridge, and Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki. Artists include Scott Gustafson, Stephanie Law, and Howard David Johnson.
Not only is there more and more work being done on what I call the “Tolkien phenomenon” (meaning, not only his legendarium, including the posthumous publications Christopher Tolkien gave us, but also the multiple adaptations and the fandoms all around the world), but more and more the people doing the scholarship are making their work more freely available online. And while I will always cheerlead for open-access scholarly journals like Mythlore and The Journal of Tolkien Research, I also want to recommend scholars who make work available on their blogs/newsletters/etc.!
The three recommendations below also show the wide range of topics in Tolkien studies!…
I asked ChatGPT to write a college admission essay in the voice of a squirrel. The total result is a bit too long to post, here are some excerpts: —
“As a squirrel, I have learned to adapt to different environments and challenges. I have lived in various habitats, from urban parks to rural forests, and have encountered many predators, such as hawks, cats, and humans. I have developed a keen sense of awareness, agility, and resilience that help me survive and thrive in any situation.”
“In addition, I have shown a remarkable leadership and community involvement. I have led many groups of squirrels in various activities, such as organizing food storage, defending our territory, and planning migrations. I have also collaborated with other animals, such as birds, rabbits, and dogs, to promote peace and harmony in our ecosystem. I have volunteered to help humans in need, such as feeding the homeless, cleaning the parks, and planting trees.
“I am confident that I can bring a unique and valuable perspective to your campus. I am eager to learn from your distinguished faculty and diverse student body. I am also excited to contribute to your academic excellence and social impact. I hope you will give me the opportunity to fulfill my dream of becoming a college-educated squirrel. Thank you for your consideration.
(5) EVEN IF IT’S YOUR JAM. Catherynne M. Valente learned something.
(6) FRANNE LEE (1941-2023). Costume and set designer Franne Lee, who created iconic outfits for several Saturday Night Live sketches, died August 27. The New York Times obituary recalled:
Franne Lee, a costume and set designer who while doing Tony Award-winning work on Broadway in the 1970s also made killer-bee suits and cone-shaped headwear for early “Saturday Night Live” sketches, helping to create some of that era’s most memorable comic moments, died on Sunday in Atlantis, Fla. She was 81.
The original “S.N.L.” cast quickly made its mark with outlandish sketches, and Ms. Lee was integral to the look of those now famous bits — dressing John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in black when they became the Blues Brothers, turning cut-up long johns into the yellow-striped Killer Bee costumes, and more.
It was costume designing on the cheap. Ms. Lee’s father, a tool-and-die maker, came up with the bouncy springs that were the Killer Bees’ antennae, which she finished off by sticking Ping-Pong balls on the ends. John Storyk, who first met Ms. Lee in 1968 when both worked at the short-lived Manhattan club Cerebrum, recalled in a phone interview dropping by the Lees’ apartment and seeing on her work table the beginnings of the cones that became the defining feature of the Coneheads, the extraterrestrials who were a recurring presence on the show in the late 1970s and later got their own feature film….
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 2, 1899 — Martin Miller. One of his mod remembered roles was as Kublai Khan in Doctor Who‘s first season. Later genre performances the first Pink Panther film, a bevy of ITC Entertainment such as Danger Man, The Avengers, Department S and The Prisoner. He was in Children of the Damned and The Gamma People to name but two of his genre films. (Died 1978.)
Born September 2, 1925 — Meinhardt Raabe. The actor best known as the Munchkin coroner in The Wizard of Oz. He certified the death of the Wicked Witch of the East. (Died 2000.)
As coroner, I must aver I thoroughly examined her And she’s not only merely dead She’s really, most sincerely dead!
Born September 2, 1944 — Roland Green. His most prominent works are his military SF series —Starcruiser Shenandoah, the Peace Company, and Voyage to Eneh, but he also did a lot of Conan novels, and co-authored two Janissaries novels with Pournelle. (Died 2021.)
Born September 2, 1946 — Walter Simonson, 77. Comic artist and writer who’s best known I think for his run on Thor during the Eighties in which he created the character Beta Ray Bill. An odd character that one is if ever there was one. He’s worked for DC and Marvel, and a number of independent companies as well. He did this cover for Michael Moorcock’s Count Brass. And he did the interior artwork as well.
Born September 2, 1950 — Mel Odom, 73. Not that Mel Odom. This is another Mel Odom. His illustrations have graced many a cover of the works of Guy Gavriel Kay including A Song for Arbonne, the Fionavar Tapestry trilogy, The Lions of Al-Rassan and Tigana. I’ll single out the cover of the Penguin Books edition of Tigana as as Ireally l ike his work here.
Born September 2, 1951 — Mark Harmon, 72. Much better known for his work on NCIS and yes, I’m a fan, though not of the last five years of the series. He’s done some genre work down the decades. An early role was as Gacel Sayah in Tuareg: Il guerriero del deserto, a Spanish-Italian pulp film. He was Jack Black in Magic in the Water, and voiced Clark Kent/Superman on Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. He was in the Wally Schirra in the genre adjacent From the Earth to the Moon miniseries, and shows as Bob Markham in the “Tarzan and The Outbreak” episode of The Legend of Tarzan.
Born September 2, 1964 — Keanu Reeves, 59. Obviously in The Matrix films which so far I’ve avoided watching. So should I go forth now and watch them? Now I have seen the first two Bill & Ted’s films and like then quite a bit, but not the third. Should I? Finally I’ll confess that I have seen Johnny Mnemonic. So i must ask what were they thinking? Really?
Brain-reading implants enhanced using artificial intelligence (AI) have enabled two people with paralysis to communicate with unprecedented accuracy and speed.
In separate studies, both published on 23 August in Nature1,2, two teams of researchers describe brain–computer interfaces (BCIs) that translate neural signals into text or words spoken by a synthetic voice. The BCIs can decode speech at 62 words per minute and 78 words per minute, respectively. Natural conversation happens at around 160 words per minute, but the new technologies are both faster than any previous attempts.
“It is now possible to imagine a future where we can restore fluid conversation to someone with paralysis, enabling them to freely say whatever they want to say with an accuracy high enough to be understood reliably,” said Francis Willett, a neuroscientist at Stanford University in California who co-authored one of the papers1, in a press conference on 22 August.
These devices “could be products in the very near future”, says Christian Herff, a computational neuroscientist at Maastricht University, the Netherlands.
A comet recently discovered by Japanese amateur astronomer Hideo Nishimura is garnering attention from NASA and skywatchers alike.
Using a standard digital camera, Nishimura detected the celestial body on August 11 during a series of 30-second exposures, according to NASA. Though currently not visible to the naked eye, this status may soon change. NASA has noted the comet’s steady increase in brightness since its discovery. Furthermore, astronomers have now charted the comet’s future trajectory through the inner solar system.
“As the comet dives toward the Sun, it will surely continue to intensify and possibly become a naked-eye object in early September,” stated NASA. However, there’s a caveat for potential observers: the comet’s proximity to the Sun will mean it is best visible during the times of sunset or sunrise when the Sun’s glare is least obtrusive….
(11) GUARDING AGAINST ANOTHER PANDEMIC. I can’t help hearing the voice of Bill Murray when I read this headline. “Cats With Bird Flu? The Threat Grows.” The New York Times’ Zeynep Tufekci has the story.
The global H5N1 avian flu outbreak, already devastating wild birds and poultry, keeps spreading to mammals, bringing it one step closer to a potential human outbreak.
Of course, since the coronavirus pandemic taught us the importance of responding early and aggressively to outbreaks …
Sorry, I’m joking. We don’t seem to have learned much from the Covid outbreak, and it’s not funny.
Not enough has been done about an out-of-control H5N1 outbreak at fur farms in Finland or a mystery outbreak among domestic cats in Poland.
Finland, one of Europe’s biggest fur producers, is battling outbreaks among its captive minks, foxes and raccoon dogs — species that scientists warn have been identified as more likely to evolve a variant that can infect people, leading to a human outbreak.
Even the Finnish Food Authority, in its announcement of animals being culled, noted that minks are susceptible to both human and avian influenza. If one animal is infected by both, the viruses can mix genes and give rise to an avian flu that can infect humans. Fur farms in Finland, however, aren’t being closed. Instead the Finnish Wildlife Agency allowed fur breeders to kill wild birds near their farms in large numbers. The Agency told me the killings were authorized “to prevent contacts between infected birds and animals at fur farms,” but scientists point out this is the wrong approach and likely futile — and more fur farms in Finland have since announced further outbreaks.
Meanwhile, officials said a sizable outbreak of H5N1 among pet cats in Poland this summer killed at least 29 animals, though cat owners have compiled lists with as many as 89 sick animals. The outbreak has many unusual features that make it especially concerning, and yet there still hasn’t been an explanation of how exactly it happened or a vigorous investigation….
(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Time to revisit this “Constellation WorldCon Baltimore” video first posted to YouTube 13 years ago. It’s amazing that I recognize most of these people.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael J. Walsh, Marc Criley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
…I’m not even very surprised at how many suspiciously-positive posts and memes I saw the millisecond Threads launched. Or how many big names and brands who’d refused to move to any of the other available competitors, not even so far as to hold a username and a server on Mastodon, the one most usable most quickly, just in case, suddenly had thriving Threads feeds. This is Facebook. It’s been several interminable minutes. We all know how this works. Bots, farms, artificial boosting, algorithms, astroturfing, paying influencers, brands, and celebrities to migrate without saying they were paid. We are not new here. Asking Facebook to not fake engagement and steal data is like asking Canadian goose not to rip anyone’s face off. That is, fundamentally, what it does and what it’s for.
What did surprise me? Well, it’s pretty fucking weird how the launch of Threads, which is ostensibly, you know, a company and a profit-generating service, almost immediately did a sickening costume reveal and became Mark fucking Zuckerberg’s Redemption/Woobiefication tour, and only like four non-Nazi people and one of their alt accounts are pushing back on that because everyone rushed to join this thing with a smile on their lips and a song in their heart a big anime heart-eyes for the guy we all knew was Noonian Soong’s first janky and obviously evil Build-a-Bloke workshop project three weeks ago.
Seriously, have we all lost our entire screaming minds?…
She has assembled acres of evidence about Zuckerberg’s and Facebook’s track record in case you forgot.
… What is the July Short Story Challenge, you ask? Well, in July 2015, Dean Wesley Smith announced that he was planning to write a brand new short story every day during the month of July. The original post seems to be gone now, but the Wayback Machine has a copy here. At the time, several people announced that they would play along, so I decided to give it a try as well. And then I did it again the following year. And the next. And the next….
(3) QUITE THE VARIETY. Rich Lynch’s diverting My Back Pages #28 is available to download from eFanzines.
The 28th installment of my personal time capsule is a “I think we’re finally escaping the pandemic” issue and has essays involving cheap hotel rates and a very expensive personal boondoggle, big balloons and a small cat, scary rollercoasters and not-so-scary sci-fi movies, notable edifices and ordinary-looking spring blossoms, artificial satellites and a very real sense-of-wonder, a long walking tour and a relatively short drive, a famous quote and a semi-obscure composer, a smart chatbot and a dumb stunt, complex machinations and elegant simplicity, drowsy Worldcon attendees and rousing march music, photos of the heavens and an underground fallout shelter, an extended hotel stay and a brief mountain climbing career, specialized historical research and an eclectic museum, National Poetry Month and The Year of the Jackpot. And also an ‘Un-bucket List’ – hey, *everybody* ought to have one of those!
(4) THE HOBBIT: COMPARING RANKIN/BASS WITH PETER JACKSON. [Item by Dann.] The first episode of the Cinema Story Origins Podcast Hobbit series dropped a couple of days ago. Paul J. Hale announced it on Facebook:
This whole episode is the first chapter of the book, the first 8 minutes of the Rankin/Bass Animated film, and the first 45 minutes of Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”.
A big chunk is about J.R.R. Tolkien, another chunk is Jackson’s prologue, but pretty much the rest of it takes place inside Bag End (Bilbo’s house). But I do some extra digging here and there, some stuff about the origin of The Dwarves in Tolkien’s Legendarium, and some extra info and context for certain things.
This is a large project, and I’m already started on Part 2. I have no clue how long these are all going to be. I want these episodes to be meaty on the Tolkien end, and lighter on the Jackson end, but we’ll see… I’m going to try hard to have this done by the end of summer but I can’t guarantee that. I really hope you enjoy this first chapter in the CSO Hobbit Series.
I’ve listened to the first episode. Paul opens with roughly 20 minutes of history about JRR Tolkien. Some of the broad strokes are well known to Tolkien fans; his wartime service, his position as editor of the Oxford English dictionary, etc. There were a couple of morsels that were new to me. For example, the first line of The Hobbit originated from a very unusual circumstance.
As with all CSO series, Paul Hale is comparing and contrasting the original book with the movie versions. In this case, he is comparing the book the Rankin/Bass version of The Hobbit and with the Peter Jackson trilogy films. While Paul makes it clear that he thinks that making three films for a single book is excessive, he deals with the trilogy films as they exist and not as he might want them to be. Paul’s focus is on delving into the book and how the film creators interpreted the book. I believe that he will be only lightly touching on the many elements of the Jackson movies that do not exist in the book version of the story.
The first episode ends as Bilbo is rushing out the front door to meet the dwarves. The runtime is ever-so-slightly over 2 hours. Paul’s style makes every moment entertaining and informative. He sprinkles in audio stingers and other verbal bon mots to keep the presentation lively.
Douglas Hofstadter, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Gödel, Escher, Bach, reflects on how he got interested in the mind and consciousness, how he came to write Gödel, Escher, Bach, and why he is terrified by the current state of AI.
From our cosmic backyard in the solar system to distant galaxies near the dawn of time, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has delivered on its promise of revealing the universe like never before in its first year of science operations. To celebrate the completion of a successful first year, NASA has released Webb’s image of a small star-forming region in the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex.
“In just one year, the James Webb Space Telescope has transformed humanity’s view of the cosmos, peering into dust clouds and seeing light from faraway corners of the universe for the very first time. Every new image is a new discovery, empowering scientists around the globe to ask and answer questions they once could never dream of,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Webb is an investment in American innovation but also a scientific feat made possible with NASA’s international partners that share a can-do spirit to push the boundaries of what is known to be possible. Thousands of engineers, scientists, and leaders poured their life’s passion into this mission, and their efforts will continue to improve our understanding of the origins of the universe – and our place in it.”
The new Webb image released today features the nearest star-forming region to us. Its proximity at 390 light-years allows for a highly detailed close-up, with no foreground stars in the intervening space….
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1995 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
Stephen Baxter’s a truly prolific writer, he’s written close to fifty novels now with the Long Earth series that he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett being my favorite work by him. He’s written essays and short fiction beyond counting. Since there are fifteen collections of his short fictions, I’m guessing that most of it has been collected.
So what is our Beginning the Scroll? It’s The Time Ships, the sequel to The Time Machine, which was published by HarperPrism twenty-eight years ago.
It was nominated for a Hugo at the third L.A. Con. It also nominated for a BFA and a Clarke. It won the BSFA, John W. Campbell Memorial and Philip K. Dick Awards.
Shall we take a look at our Beginning?
The attached account was given to me by the owner of a small second-hand bookshop, situated just off the Charing Cross Road in London. He told me it had turned up as a manuscript in an unlabelled box, in a collection of books which had been bequeathed to him after the death of a friend; the bookseller passed the manuscript on to me as a curiosity–‘You might make something of it’–knowing of my interest in the speculative fiction of the nineteenth century.
The manuscript itself was typewritten on commonplace paper, but a pencil note attested that it had been transcribed from an original ‘written by hand on a paper of such age that it has crumbled beyond repair’. That original, if it ever existed, is lost. There is no note as to the manuscript’s author, or origin.
I have restricted my editing to a superficial polishing, meaning only to eliminate some of the errors and duplications of a manuscript which was evidently written in haste.
What are we to make of it? In the Time Traveller’s words, we must ‘take it as a lie–or a prophecy … Consider I have been speculating upon the destinies of our race until I have hatched this fiction …’ Without further evidence, we must regard this work as a fantasy–or as an elaborate hoax–but if there is even a grain of truth in the account contained in these pages, then a startling new light is shed, not merely on one of our most famous works of fiction (if fiction it was!), but also on the nature of our universe and our place in it.
I present the account here without further comment. Stephen Baxter
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 12, 1923 — James E. Gunn. Writer, editor, scholar, anthologist. Hugo winner at ConStellation (1983) for Isaac Asimov: The Foundations of Science Fiction. MidAmeriCon (1976) presented him with a Special Committee Award for Alternate Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction. The This Immortal series based on his novel by that name received a Best Dramatic Presentation nomination at Heicon ’70. Not surprisingly, he won a First Fandom Hall of Fame Award. (Died 2020.)
Born July 12, 1933 — Donald E. Westlake. Though he specialized in crime fiction, he did dip into the genre on occasion such as with Transylvania Station with a lovely cover by Gahan Wilson. You can think of it as a Clue style novel. With monsters. He wrote with his wife Abby. On the horror end of things was Anarchaos. And he wrote a lot of genre short fiction, some fifty pieces by my count. Meteor Strike: Science Fiction Triple Feature has three of his SF stories is available from the usual suspects for ninety-nine cents. (Died 2008.)
Born July 12, 1947 — Carl Lundgren, 76. He co-founded ASFA (Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists of America), and won 4 Chesleys, including Artistic Achievement. At the tender age of eighteen, he was co-chairman of the first media SF convention, The Detroit Triple Fan Fair which featured comics, movies and various things of a SF nature. At Chicon IV, he was nominated for Best Professional Artist but lost out to Michael Whelan.
Born July 12, 1946 — Charles R. Saunders. African-American author and journalist, much of his fiction is set in the fictional continent Nyumbani (which means “home” in Swahili). His main series is the Imaro novels which he claims are the first sword and sorcery series by a black writer. (Died 2020.)
Born July 12, 1970 — Phil Jimenez, 53. Comics illustrator and writer. He was the main artist of Infinite Crisis, a sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths. He also did the awesome first issue of Planetary/Authority: Ruling the World, and was responsible for the first six issues of Fables spin-off, Fairest.
Born July 12, 1976 — Gwenda Bond, 47. Writer, critic, editor. She’s written a prequel to the Stranger Things series, Suspicious Minds, and I’m very fond of the two novels (The Lost Legacy and The Sphinx’s Secret) so far in her Supernormal Sleuthing Service which she wrote with her husband Christopher Rowe. And she penned the Dear Aunt Gwenda section of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet that Small Beer Press published in the early part of this millennium.
It’s alive! Crunchyroll has officially acquired the streaming rights for the zombie horror comedy anime series Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead, which began its simulcast on July 9 with new subtitled episodes dropping weekly. The animated series, based on the hit manga series of the same name, is streaming on Crunchyroll in the United States; Canada; Australia; New Zealand; Latin America; Europe; the Middle East; North Africa; and the Indian subcontinent.
In the series, with three years under his belt at the company from hell, Akira Tendo is mentally and physically spent, all at the ripe old age of 24. Even his crush from Accounting, Saori, wants nothing to do with him. Then, just when life is beginning to look like one big disappointment, the zombie apocalypse descends on Japan! Surrounded by hordes of hungry zombies, Akira comes to the marvelous realization that he never has to go to work again and may now pursue his bucket list!
While several of TNG’s holodeck episodes included fun stories, there’s one thing about them that never made sense. While it’s understandable that the holodeck would need safety protocols, there is no logical reason why anyone (or anything) should be able to turn those safety protocols off. In TNG season 1’s “The Big Goodbye,” the safety protocols get mistakenly turned off by a probe scan, nearly resulting in the death of an Enterprise crewmember. In “Elementary, Dear Data,” the holodeck computer creates an adversary, Professor James Moriarty (Daniel Davis), who nearly takes over the Enterprise. It makes no sense that Starfleet would put holodecks on their most important ships when such catastrophic failures are possible.
And artist Scott Nelles offers everything from a pulpy ray gun to this King Kong bank (cast in aluminum and bronze, and weighing four pounds!)
Sand-cast aluminum and bronze coin bank, depicting Kong climbing the Empire State Building. A pulpy and charming addition to your home or office, this coin bank will be a conversation piece and unique accent to your décor. Unscrew the pieces to collect your saved-up coins. Designed and hand cast by Scott Nelles in his studio/foundry in Elk Rapids, Michigan.
There are 2 highly controversial trading card sets, that are very sought after today, that I would like to discuss a little about. Today they may seem a bit tame, but back in the 60s these were created by Topps with a pseudonym Bubbles, Inc. so that the company could distance the Topps name with the anticipated uproar that they would eventually create. The trading cards had a lot to do with aliens in space! Have you guessed it yet?….Did you guess Mars Attacks and Monsters From Outer Limits? If you did, then you are correct!
The infamous Mars Attacks was first released in 1962 by Topps via their Bubbles Inc banner, originally named “Attack from Space” on the test prototype launch. The standard 2.5”x3.5” set was 55 cards total in a $.05 pack of 5 cards with a piece of gum. All 55 cards tell a very graphic and gruesome story of Martians attacking Earth and eventually Earthlings attacking back. On the front of each card, there are colorful depictions of a progression of Mars attacking. The backs tell an explanation of what is depicted in the pictures on the front of the card. The cards and the concept were invented by Len Brown.
The drawings were mainly done by Norman Saunders and the story was created by Woody Gelman. It didn’t take long for these very graphic cards depicting Martians brutally killing humans and animals, gory death scenes, and sexual inuendos to create an upset with many parents. The parents were understandably upset because these very colorful cards of horror were marketed for kids. Lawsuits came one after another and Topps worked quickly to sensor 13 of their more violent pictures to be reprinted and dispersed. However, this never happened because a very large suit came forward from the community of parents and halted the production completely. Fortunately, for collectors, this meant the original set of 55 is very rare and valuable….
(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Here’s the official trailer for Wonka.
Based on the extraordinary character at the center of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl’s most iconic children’s book and one of the best-selling children’s books of all time, “Wonka” tells the wondrous story of how the world’s greatest inventor, magician and chocolate-maker became the beloved Willy Wonka we know today.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Cliff, Dann, Jeffrey Smith, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]
(1) DRAGON PRESERVATION SOCIETY? A Twitter user with 90K followers who goes by the handle Aristophanes claims to be incensed that works like John Scalzi’s Kaiju Preservation Society become Dragon Award finalists. As a remedy he is calling for people to band together and nominate all the works on his ticket. Can the Dragon Awards be saved? How would we know if they aren’t? Thread starts here.
The Dragon Award’s policy is to encourage people to campaign for fan support. Always has been. So this appeal violates no rule, written or otherwise. My only question about his list is — can it really be a Dragon Awards slate without a book by Declan Finn on it? This will be the first one without him I’ve ever seen!!
More than a century after the Season 1 finale, tension mounts throughout the galaxy. As the Cleons unravel, a vengeful queen plots to destroy Empire from within. Hari, Gaal, and Salvor discover a colony of Mentalics with special abilities that threaten to alter psychohistory itself. Meanwhile, the Foundation and Empire are on a collision course for war with the fate of humanity in the balance.
(3) HOW MANY NAMES? Best Semiprozine finalist Strange Horizons tells how this year’s Hugo Administrator clawed back the progress SH had made in getting their full team listed. (They weren’t the only ones affected by the policy change, of course.) Thread starts here.
…While writer and series creator J. Michael Straczynski has been teasing for months that he will be at the convention with lots to talk about the new animated film, Babylon 5: The Road Home, we’ve got our first look at just what that appearance will likely entail.
The upcoming animated film continues the story of the 1990’s space opera series, as John Sheridan unexpectedly finds himself transported through multiple timelines and alternate realities in a quest to find his way back home. Most of the cast is returning for the film, including Bruce Boxleitner as John Sheridan, Claudia Christian as Susan Ivanova, Peter Jurasik as Londo Mollari, Bill Mumy as Lennier, Tracy Scoggins as Elizabeth Lochley and Patricia Tallman as Lyta Alexander.
Patricia Tallman revealed on Instagram that she will indeed be at the convention — and so will most of her castmates.
Bruce Boxleitner, Claudia Christian, Tracy Scoggins, and Patricia Tallman will be signing in the Sails Pavilion on Saturday, July 22 from 11am-12pm, which certainly ups the odds of a panel with cast in appearance.
Patricia Tallman will also be signing on her own from 2:30pm-7pm on both Thursday, July 20 and Friday, July 21, and fans can pre-order her Pleasure Thresholds, a Babylon 5 Memoir, for $30 (or $40 if you purchase at the con). Copies can be autographed and personalized….
James Whitbrook, the deputy editor of G/O Media’s Gizmodo and its subsection io9, tore into management on Wednesday after the company published a “shoddily written” AI-generated article “riddled with basic errors.”
After it was revealed last week that G/O Media would begin rolling out articles generated by artificial intelligence, GMG Union — which represents many of the news outlets under G/O Media’s banner, including Gizmodo — protested the introduction of “computer-generated garbage” which “erodes trust in us as journalists, damages our brands, and threatens our jobs.”
Despite the protests of the union, however, G/O Media moved forward with its controversial decision this week.
“A Chronological List of Star Wars Movies & TV Shows” by “Gizmodo Bot” appeared on G/O Media’s tech and science news website on Wednesday, only to be swiftly ridiculed by social media users for messing up the chronological order of the franchise.
In a Twitter post, the deputy editor of the site revealed he had only been “informed approximately 10 minutes” before the article went live and that “no one at io9 played a part in its editing or publication.” In his own “personal comment,” Whitbrook added, “It’s fucking dogshit.”
Whitbrook also published the letter he sent to the management of G/O Media, which read:
“For 15 years, io9 has grown an audience that demands quality coverage of genre entertainment, from critical analysis, to insightful explainers, to accurate news and industry-shaping investigative reporting. These readers have grown io9 into one of the best performing desks at Gizmodo, G/O Media’s flagship site in terms of traffic, and they have done so by rigorously holding this team and the colleagues that came before us to a standard of expertise and accuracy that we have been proud to achieve. The article published on io9 today rejects the very standards this team holds itself to on a daily basis as critics and as reporters. It is shoddily written, it is riddled with basic errors; in closing the comments section off, it denies our readers, the lifeblood of this network, the chance to publicly hold us accountable, and to call this work exactly what it is: embarrassing, unpublishable, disrespectful of both the audience and the people who work here, and a blow to our authority and integrity. It is shameful that this work has been put to our audience and to our peers in the industry as a window to G/O’s future, and it is shameful that we as a team have had to spend an egregious amount of time away from our actual work to make it clear to you the unacceptable errors made in publishing this piece.”
Two authors have filed a lawsuit against OpenAI, the company behind the artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT, claiming that the organisation breached copyright law by “training” its model on novels without the permission of authors.
Mona Awad, whose books include Bunny and 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, and Paul Tremblay, author of The Cabin at the End of the World, filed the class action complaint to a San Francisco federal court last week.
ChatGPT allows users to ask questions and type commands into a chatbot and responds with text that resembles human language patterns. The model underlying ChatGPT is trained with data that is publicly available on the internet.
Yet, Awad and Tremblay believe their books, which are copyrighted, were unlawfully “ingested” and “used to train” ChatGPT because the chatbot generated “very accurate summaries” of the novels, according to the complaint. Sample summaries are included in the lawsuit as exhibits….
(7) MEMORY LANE.
2010 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
Catherynne M. Valente’s an amazing individual. I’m proud to say that I’ve had coffee with her as she lives here in this city. And her writing is just as stellar as she is.
No Hugos so far but she has won Otherwise and Mythopoeic Awards for The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden (both Awards) and The Orphan’s Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice (Mythopoeic). She also has won an Andre Norton Award.
Her other great series is the Fairyland series centered around twelve year-old September. And that’s all I’m saying about this delightful affair. Our Beginning is from the debut novel, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.
It was first published online on her site but she’s taken that down. The first print edition was by Feiwel and Friends thirteen years ago. It was an independent publisher that has since been acquired by Macmillan.
So here’s our Beginning…
EXEUNT ON A LEOPARD In Which a Girl Named September Is Spirited Off by Means of a Leopard, Learns the Rules of Fairyland, and Solves a Puzzle
Once upon a time, a girl named September grew very tired indeed of her parents’ house, where she washed the same pink-and-yellow teacups and matching gravy boats every day, slept on the same embroidered pillow, and played with the same small and amiable dog. Because she had been born in May, and because she had a mole on her left cheek, and because her feet were very large and ungainly, the Green Wind took pity on her and flew to her window one evening just after her twelfth birthday. He was dressed in a green smoking jacket, and a green carriage-driver’s cloak, and green jodhpurs, and green snowshoes. It is very cold above the clouds in the shantytowns where the Six Winds live.
“You seem an ill-tempered and irascible enough child,” said the Green Wind.
“How would you like to come away with me and ride upon the Leopard of Little Breezes and be delivered to the great sea, which borders Fairyland? I am afraid I cannot go in, as Harsh Airs are not allowed, but I should be happy to deposit you upon the Perverse and Perilous Sea.
“Oh, yes!” breathed September, who disapproved deeply of pink-and-yellow teacups and also of small and amiable dogs.
“Well, then, come and sit by me, and do not pull too harshly on my Leopard’s fur, as she bites.”
September climbed out of her kitchen window, leaving a sink full of soapy pink-and-yellow teacups with leaves still clinging to their bottoms in portentous shapes. One of them looked a bit like her father in his long coffee-colored trench coat, gone away over the sea with a rifle and gleaming things on his hat. One of them looked a bit like her mother, bending over a stubborn airplane engine in her work overalls, her arm muscles bulging. One of them looked a bit like a squashed cabbage. The Green Wind held out his hand, snug in a green glove, and September took both his hands and a very deep breath. One of her shoes came loose as she hoisted herself over the sill, and this will be important later, so let us take a moment to bid farewell to her prim little mary jane with its brass buckle as it clatters onto the parquet floor. Good-bye, shoe! September will miss you soon.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 6, 1945 — Burt Ward, 78. Robin in that Batman series. He would reprise the role in voicing the character in The New Adventures of Batman and Legends of the Superheroes, and two recent animated films, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face. (Has anyone seen these?) The latter are the last work done by Adam West before his death.
Born July 6, 1946 — Sylvester Stallone, 77. Although I think Stallone made a far less than perfect Dredd, I think the look and feel of the first film was spot on for the film which was something the second film, which had a perfect Dredd in Karl Urban, utterly lacked. And Demolition Man and him as Sergeant John Spartan were just perfect.
Born July 6, 1950 — John Byrne, 73. A stellar comic book artist and writer. He’s done far too much to detail here so I’ll just single out that he scripted the first four issues of Hellboy: Seed of Destruction, was the writer and artist on the excellent Blood of the Demon from 1-17 and responsible for Spider-Man: Chapter One which took a great deal of flak.
Born July 6, 1951 — Rick Sternbach, 72. Best-known for his work in the Trek verse starting with ST: TMP where he designed control panel layouts and signage for the Enterprise. He’s next hired for Next Gen where communicator badge, phasers, PADDs and tricorders are all based on his designs. These designs will also be used on DS9 and Voyager. He also pretty much designed every starship during that time from the Cardassian and Klingon to the Voyager itself. He would win the Best Professional Artist Hugo at SunCon and IguanaCon II.
Born July 6, 1951 — Geoffrey Rush, 72. First genre role is like the Mystery Men series which I’ll bet everyone has forgotten, followed by House on Haunted Hill, Finding Nemo and some other genre work as well with his major genre role being as Barbossa in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. And I’ll include his role in Shakespeare in Love as Philip Henslowe even if strictly speaking it’s not genre related as I really, really love that film.
Born July 6, 1952 — Hilary Mantel. Though best remembered as the author of the Wolf Hall franchise, she’s actually written some genre fiction. The Mysterious Stranger involves supernatural occurrences in a small British town in the Fifties; and Beyond Black is about a psychic who sees more than she wants to. She also indulged in alternative history in the short story, “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher – August 6th 1983”. (Died 2022.)
Born July 6, 1980 — Eva Green, 43. First crosses our paths in Casino Royale as Vesper Lynd followed by Serafina Pekkala in The Golden Compass, and then Angelique Bouchard Collins in Dark Shadows. Ava Lord in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (weird films those definitely are) with a decided move sideways into being Miss Alma Peregrine for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. And she was Colette Marchant in Dumbo. She’s got two series roles to her credit, Morgan Pendragon in Camelot and Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful.
(9) TITAN COMICS GOODIES AT SDCC. The Titan Booth #5537 at San Diego Comic-Con 2023 will be the place to get some limited availability merchandise. Some of it looks pretty cute, like these pins.
Doctor Who: Thirteen Piece TARDIS Enamel Pin Collection
Titan Booth #5537 at SDCC 2023 is the only opportunity for US Doctor Who fans to buy this EXCLUSIVE Thirteen Piece TARDIS Enamel Pin Collection. Please note: this beautiful, one-of-a-kind TARDIS collection will be available from Titan Booth #5537 from Preview Night (Wednesday July 19th). Numbers are EXTREMELY LIMITED. First come, first served.
And there will be some collectible figures available, too.
Doctor Who: Fourteenth Doctor 3″ Kawaii TITAN Vinyl Figure
Doctor Who: Fourteenth Doctor 3″ Classic TITAN Vinyl Figure
David Tennant’s upcoming Fourteenth Doctor arrives in San Diego as a pair of separately-packaged, separately-available EXCLUSIVE 3” TITANS Vinyl Figures. Both releases (3” Kawaii Fourteenth Doctor and 3” Classic Fourteenth Doctor) are available from Titan Booth #5537.
My Hero Academia: Dabi 3″ Glow-In-The-Dark Kawaii TITAN Vinyl Figure
My Hero Academia: Shigaraki 3″ Glow-In-The-Dark Kawaii TITAN Vinyl Figure
My Hero Academia TITANS Viny Figures return to Titan Booth #5537 as a pair of separately-packaged, separately-available San Diego EXCLUSIVE 3” Kawaii TITANS Vinyl Figures. Both releases (Dabi and Shigaraki) feature Glow-In-The-Dark effects and are available from Titan Booth #5537.
(10) CARVING UP THE STREAMING MARKET. JustWatch has shared their graphs about the market shares of streaming services for the second quarter in 2023.
SVOD market shares in Q2 2023 Prime Video continues to hold down the streaming crown in the US with a 1% lead over global giant, Netflix. Major players: Max and Disney+ also face similar challenges with a 2% gap separating the two.
Market share development in 2023 Newly rebranded streaming giant: Max (formerly HBO Max) displays positive development, gaining +1%; Paramount+ also won with a +1% increase in shares. On the other hand, Disney+ and Hulu drop in shares, suffering -1% losses each.
Gravitational waves are back, and they’re bigger than ever.
After the historic first detection of the space-time rattles in 2015 using ground-based detectors, researchers could have now rediscovered Albert Einstein’s waves with an entirely different technique. The approach tracks changes in the distances between Earth and beacon stars in its Galactic neighbourhood called pulsars, which reveal how the space in between is stretched and squeezed by the passage of gravitational waves.
Whereas the original discovery spotted waves originating from the collision and merger of two star-sized black holes, the most likely source of the latest finding is the combined signal from many pairs of much larger black holes — millions or even billions of times the mass of the Sun — slowly orbiting each other in the hearts of distant galaxies. These waves are thousands of times stronger and longer than those found in 2015, with wavelengths of up to tens of light years. By contrast, the ripples detected since 2015 using a technique called interferometry are just tens or hundreds of kilometres long.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]
…Presently, more and more writers are experimenting with the genre. While only a handful of SF novels have thus far been traditionally published in India every year, a slate of new science and speculative fiction domains is giving space to new voices and ideas, like the magazine Mithila Review and the feminist collection Magical Women (2019).
Vandana Singh, Anil Menon, Samit Basu, Mimi Mondal, and Gautam Bhatia, among others, headline discussions on Indian SF today. Their storylines expose the chaos, upheavals, and power structures of an ethnically, religious, and linguistically diverse India.
Unique to Indian SF is the manner in which mythology and folklore undergird much of the storytelling. From the Vedas and Puranas to the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, historical plots continue to have relevance in Indian SF. As a result, science fiction from India is emerging as a singular genre rich with its own vernacular lexicon….
…The “AI as McKinsey” piece also articulates an underlying capitalist critique in your work. You clearly hold a lot of skepticism about the idea that Silicon Valley can provide magic fixes for social ills; you wrote thisBuzzFeed News essay in 2017that was so saucy. When reading “Seventy-Two Letters,” your short story from 2000, I gravitate toward this conversation between a craftsman and an inventor trying to create labor-saving robots, where the craftsman tells the inventor:
“Your desire for reform does you credit. Let me suggest, however, that there are simpler cures for the social ills you cite: a reduction in working hours, or the improvement of conditions. You do not need to disrupt our entire system of manufacturing.”
At a moment when we’re being promised “labor-saving” AI, this feels…relevant.
There’s this saying, “There are two kinds of fools. The first says, ‘This is old and therefore good.’ And the second one says, ‘This is new and therefore better.’” I think about that a lot. How can you evaluate the merits of anything fairly without thinking it’s good simply because it’s new? I think that is super difficult.
There probably was a time in history where most people were thinking, “This is old and therefore good,” and they carried the day. Now I think that we live in a time where everyone says, “This is new and therefore better.” I don’t believe that the people who say that are right all the time, but it is very difficult to criticize them and suggest that maybe something that is new is not better….
I was a kid playing Atari with my best friend when she informed me, as she sent her frog darting through traffic, that Nostradamus had predicted the world would end in nookuler destruction in August of that year. The exact date she named happened to be my birthday. Since Nostradamus lived hundreds of years ago and didn’t even know what nookuler was, she continued confidently, he must have had special powers and his predictions were therefore true. It was the early eighties and we had no internet, so I accepted her logic and spent the remaining weeks of summer assuming I would die before the leaves fell.
If you were born in the 1970s, like me, or the sixties or the fifties, the Cold War was the backdrop of life, like wallpaper. It had no beginning and no end. It just was. You trundled to school each day under partly cloudy skies and a chance of nuclear annihilation, and when you went to the bookstore or the movie theater you found spy novels, spy movies that pitted Us against Them—the Soviet Union. In these stories, men chased each other around the world while some bomb ticked somewhere, some web of loyalties required untangling. Their manly brows furrowed under the weight of so much responsibility. Their wives worried cluelessly at home. The hot girl in the black sequined dress with the cleavage turned out to be a honey trap….
During an ample period of growth for the LucasArts division of Lucasfilm Limited, the company began experimenting with the new games centered around their tentpole properties; as the Star Wars franchise began developing the initial Rebel Assault and Super Star Wars games, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis was pitched as a canonical sequel to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The game takes place in 1939 during which Indy discovers that his former archeological collaborator Sophia Hapgood has given up her profession to become a psychic. Fearing that she’ll be targeted by the Nazis, Indy teams up with his old flame on an adventure to discover the ancient city of Atlantis and unlock its secrets before the Nazis take it for themselves to use as weaponry in World War II.
Compared to Lucasfilm’s Star Wars franchise, the Indiana Jones saga doesn’t quite have the same extensive expanded universe. While there are a few novel series, comic storylines, and adventure games focused on different aspects of Indy’s life, they’re merely a fraction of the massive expanded timeline developed in the Star Wars “Legends” and modern canon sagas. However, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis didn’t just expand upon the character and tease a new chapter of his story; it developed Indy’s motivations under dire circumstances and featured a compelling storyline that actually surpassed some of the cinematic installments. Even if it never hit theaters, it’s easy to rank Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis among the best projects in the Indiana Jones universe….
(5) GOODER ENGLISH. [Item by Danny Sichel.] The mention of Downbelow Station in Monday’s file reminded me of the “lost in translation” thread from rec.arts.sf.written back in, oh god, 1999.
In particular, it reminded me that Susan Stepney did an archive thereof, which Filers may find amusing. “Lost in the Translation”.
Certain competition threads start spontaneously on the science fiction newsgroup rec.arts.sf.written. One of my favourites was about title/author pairs that can be read as a single phrase (with possibly the best being The Sheep Look Up John Brunner). In May 1999 someone quoting an alleged funny mistranslation, by a translator who missed the point, of a well-known SF book title A Very Important Mission, and a thread took off from there. Below are some of the submissions I’ve collected from that thread, and from ones sent to me later. (The contributors of the titles – either the devisers themselves, or telling of titles they remember from earlier competitions – are noted afterwards.) I’ve also provided answers – but no peeking before trying to work them out – that’s most of the fun!…
…Gene Roddenberry, writing in 1967, was clearly reacting to various stories from the “Star Trek” set claiming William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy were on their worst behavior. It seems they were swapping lines, taking dialogue from co-stars, and going all-out to get as much screen time as possible. “Star Trek,” unlike some other shows at the time, had an open-door policy at [NBC], allowing actors to air grievances, explore ideas, and examine characters earnestly with those at the top. By Roddenberry’s description, this privilege was being abused. Shatner and Nimoy would cause delays in shooting and their characters would start to change on camera. Roddenberry, wanting to put the kibosh on his prima donnas, wrote the following letter, which was addressed to both actors equally:
“Toss these pages in the air if you like, stomp off and be angry, it doesn’t mean that much since you’ve driven me to the edge of not giving a damn. […] No, William, I’m not really writing this to Leonard and just including you as a matter of psychology. I’m talking to you directly and with an angry honesty you haven’t heard before. And Leonard, you’d be very wrong if you think I’m really teeing off at Shatner and only pretending to include you. The same letter to both; you’ve pretty well divided up the market on selfishness and egocentricity.”
Roddenberry knew that actors all have egos and that petty grievances would indeed arise from time to time. Gene evidently instructed the production offices to overlook any foul moods from the cast, as tensions can run high and forgiveness will keep hackles lowered and production smooth. But after too many complaints, Roddenberry admitted, “‘Star Trek’ is going down the drain.”…
(7) IMPOSTOR PRODROME. Writer Beware’s Victoria Strauss warned Facebook readers about fraudsters trying to use her name.
So…after years of reporting on impersonation scams (rampant right now), the scammers have done me the ultimate honor: impersonating ME.
In case you were wondering whether the quote was correctly attributed, see the information at this link.
(9) MEMORY LANE.
1983 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
Our Beginning tonight is a true one as Bruce Bethke tells us the origin story of a now familiar word and the story that he’d use it in.
The essay and story itself were published in Amazing Science Fiction, November 1983. If after reading the Beginning here, you can do so at Infinity Plus where it is up with the permission of the author.
In the early spring of 1980 I wrote a little story about a bunch of teenage hackers. From the very first draft this story had a name, and lo, the name was —
And you can bet any body part you’d care to name that, had I had even the slightest least inkling of a clue that I would still be answering questions about this word nearly 18 years later, I would have bloody well trademarked the damned thing!
Nonetheless, I didn’t, and as you’re probably aware, the c-word has gone on to have a fascinating career all its own. At this late date I am not trying to claim unwarranted credit or tarnish anyone else’s glory. (Frankly, I’d much rather people were paying attention to what I’writing now –e.g., my Philip K. Dick Award-winning novel, Headcash, Orbit Books, 5.99 in paperback.) But for those folks who are obsessed with history, here, in tightly encapsulated form, is the story behind the story.
The invention of the c-word was a conscious and deliberate act of creation on my part. I wrote the story in the early spring of 1980, and from the very first draft, it was titled “Cyberpunk.” In calling it that, I was actively trying to invent a new term that grokked the juxtaposition of punk attitudes and high technology. My reasons for doing so were purely selfish and market-driven: I wanted to give my story a snappy, one-word title that editors would remember.
Offhand, I’d say I succeeded.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born July 4, 1883 — Rube Goldberg. Not genre, but certainly genre adjacent. Born Reuben Garrett Lucius Goldberg, he was a sculptor, author, cartoonist, engineer, and inventor who’s certainly best known for his very popular cartoons showing overly complex machines doing simple tasks in a terribly convoluted manner, hence the phrase “Rube Goldberg machines”. The X-Files episode titled “The Goldberg Variation” involved an apartment rigged as a Goldberg machine. (Died 1970.)
Born July 4, 1900 — Guy Endore. Writer of The Werewolf of Paris which is said by Stableford in the St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers as “entitled to be considered the werewolf novel”. He also wrote “The Day of the Dragon” which Stableford likes as well. He was a scriptwriter hence for writing Mark of the Vampire starring Bela Lugosi. He also the treatment for The Raven but never got credited. (Died 1970.)
Born July 4, 1910 — Gloria Stuart. She was cast as Flora Cranley opposite Claude Rains in The Invisible Man in 1933, and 68 years later she played Madeline Fawkes in The Invisible Man series. She was in The Old Dark House as Margaret Waverton which is considered horror largely because Boris Karloff was in it. And she was in the time travelling The Two Worlds of Jennie Logan as well. (Died 2010.)
Born July 4, 1949 — Peter Crowther, 74. He is the founder (with Simon Conway) of PS Publishing where he’s editor now. He edited a series of genre anthologies that DAW published. And he’s written a number of horror novels of which I’d say After Happily Ever and By Wizard Oak are good introductions to him. He’s also done a lot of short fiction but I see he’s not really available in digital form all that much for short fiction or novels.
Born July 4, 1974 — Kevin Hanchard, 49. Canadian actor best known for his major role in Orphan Black as Detective Art Bell, whose partner’s suicide kicks off the whole show. He also had a significant role in the first season of The Expanse as Inspector Sematimba, Det. Miller’s old friend from Eros. Other genre roles include appearances in the movies Suicide Squad and the made-for-TV Savage Planet, and shows The Strain, Hemlock Grove, Wynonna Earp, and Impulse, among others. (Xtifr)
Born July 4, 1977 — David Petersen, 46. Writer and illustrator of the brilliant Mouse Guard series. If you haven’t read it, do so — it’s that good and it’s still ongoing. It almost got developed as a film but got axed due to corporate politics. IDW published The Wind in The Willows with over sixty of his illustrations awhile back. I’d have love to seen that!
The world has warmed by more than one degree Celsius since the late 19th century, and it is on course to warm by another two degrees by the end of this century. The combination of the speed, likely magnitude, and human cause of this global warming make it unprecedented in the history of our species.
Yet this is not the first time Earth’s climate has changed. In the 13th century, the climate of the Northern Hemisphere started to cool due to natural causes. Although cooling varied over time and from place to place, in general it persisted for several centuries. This period is commonly referred to as the Little Ice Age. Global temperatures declined by just a few tenths of a degree Celsius—significantly less dramatic a change than our current warming trend. Nevertheless, regional effects were often severe, including catastrophic droughts, torrential rains, and entire years in which winter never fully gave way to spring and summer.
…Some of the disasters of the Little Ice Age may sound familiar. Indeed, many scholars study how people of the past coped with extreme weather to better understand how our societies might respond to global warming. The 17th-century Low Countries (modern Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands) provide striking models of just how adaptive and resilient people can be in the face of a changing climate. But they also provide warnings about how climate resilience can create or worsen inequality.
Fortunately, the 17th century has furnished us with a unique resource: millions of paintings, prints, and drawings, created by thousands of artists across the Low Countries, that depict elements of everyday life. By 1650 the inhabitants of Holland—the wealthiest province of the Dutch Republic, the precursor state to today’s Netherlands—collectively owned around 2.5 million paintings. Many of these paintings seem to reflect the presence of the Little Ice Age and record its consequences for ordinary people. Some remarkable examples are included in the National Gallery’s collection.
Although there were forces other than climate change that influenced how artists chose and depicted their subjects, icy landscapes do shed light on how the Dutch adapted to a cooler climate. The coastal Low Countries were crisscrossed by waterways that allowed for the efficient transportation of goods, people, and information.
Paintings like those of Van Breen and Van Goyen accurately portray how ordinary people across the Low Countries used sleds and ice skates—a Dutch invention—to keep these transportation networks open in cold weather. To maintain crucial shipments of goods that were easier to send by water, intrepid traders even designed specialized icebreaker ships.
OH MY GOD LOOK WHAT I JUST FOUND IN THE #BAYCON DEALERS’ ROOM!
I’m so completely delighted! I, big dumb #Trekkie, wrote that thing back when Twitter was fun! Ahh!
(14) THE END OF THE WORLD, AGAIN! [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] There nothing like the end of the world. It is spectacular. It is catastrophic. It has bags of sense-of-wonder. It is anything but mundane. What’s not to like..? Having said that, I prefer my ends of the world to be firmly in science fiction or alternatively in the future: certainly beyond my time; I’m dead sure I would not be personally partial to it and if I were I’d shortly be dead… On that cheery thought, it is time to check out Science & Futurism with Isaac Arthur as he explores ‘Earth After Humanity’.
Isaac Arthur notes that there are many ways humanity’s world could end, but picks six basic scenarios:
An extinction-level natural catastrophe
Mass destruction by nuking ourselves or dystopian industrial scenarios
A super plague
Artificial Intelligence kills us off
Humanity abandons Earth.
Isaac opines that a global-level natural catastrophe – say an asteroid hundreds of miles across – would be unlikely to thread the needle between wiping out humanity, but leave lesser creatures such as plants and insects alive from which the biosphere might recover. Along the way, he touches on problems such as genetic bottle-necking in recovering sparsely distributed, very small populations.
With a super plague, he notes that it would not be instantaneous, and almost certainly there would be time to land planes and turn-off nuclear power plants (though here I note that Ukraine has demonstrated that that is not as easy as Isaac suggests). So the planet would continue without humanity and wildlife would reclaim our farms and cities.
Isaac is more optimistic when it comes to considering whether an AI would want to take out humanity. He hovers between AI possibly being ‘human-like’ as we would create it, and AI being completely alien to us.
With regards to aliens coming along and killing us off, Isaac thinks they would be likely to value life even if they were ruthless about wiping out potential competitors, so again, life other than humanity would survive. Having said that, he reminds us that the first rule of warfare (the physicist Isaac served in the US forces) is that there is no such thing as overkill.
One issue would be our pets. Could larger dogs survive and evolve even better predatory skills? He does wonder who would end up at the top of the food chain?
Finally, Isaac cannot easily see us simply abandoning Earth (unless there was an existential threat). Some humans would not leave…
…By the way, this was the 401th episode of Science & Futurism with the 400th milestone happening the other week.
[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Danny Sichel, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]
(1) BRITISH FANTASY AWARDS TAKING NOMINATIONS. Voting for the British Fantasy Awards is open through May 31.
You can vote for the BFAs if you are any of the following: – A member of the British Fantasy Society – An attendee at FantasyCon 2022 (London Heathrow) – A ticket-holder for FantasyCon 2023 (Birmingham)
In each category the four titles or names with the highest number of recommendations will make the shortlist of nominations.
The BFA also has put out a “Call for BFA jurors” – “ANYONE can apply to become a juror and we would actively encourage non-members to volunteer as jurors.”
(2) BRITISH BOOK AWARDS. R.F. Kuang’s novel has won again – this time a British Book Award. The complete list of winners is at the link.
…The controversy unfolded shortly after New Leaf announced a series of changes to its staff structure. Hamessley has not returned requests for comment, and New Leaf emphasized that they cannot speak to any circumstances around her departure.
In an official statement on the matter, the Authors Guild expressed concern that Hamessley’s clients continue to be supported through the transition. “The Authors Guild strongly believes that every agent needs to have a succession plan for their authors in case of disabling ill health or death, and we instruct authors to inquire about such a contingency plan. We have seen far too many authors left in the lurch over the years.”
The statement continued: “New Leaf authors who were impacted by this sudden shakeup can reach out to us, though we can only represent Authors Guild members in legal matters. Authors who are members of the Authors Guild should send in their agency agreements to our legal staff so we can advise them on their rights.”
New Leaf told PW that it has been actively reaching out to Authors Guild representatives to clarify the situation.
In a statement to PW, author Stephanie Lucianovic said: “Undoubtedly, you’ll find out a lot about our reactions to these unceremoniously abrupt, late, Friday-night agency oustings on our socials, but our primary concern for the last 48+ hours has been about gathering our shocked and distraught agent-mate community and taking care of one another as best we can.”
Audiences have been voting in their thousands across the month of April to find the top musicals of all time – and the results are now in!
We run down the top 20 below, with the subsequent 80 listed at the bottom. Where did your fave end up?
In terms of figures, leading the way with the highest number of musicals appearing is Stephen Sondheim on nine as composer and lyricist and a further two as lyricist. Andrew Lloyd Webber follows one behind on eight, including second place The Phantom of the Opera….
(7) TOR HIRE. Publishers Lunch reports Stephanie Stein has joined Tor Books as senior editor, acquiring adult science fiction and fantasy. She was previously at Harper Children’s.
In a climate-controlled garage, not so far away, sat one of the world’s most impressive Star Wars memorabilia collections, second only to that of the collection of George Lucas, the Jedi mind behind the science fiction franchise. That is until Franco Valobra, founder and CEO of Valobra Master Jewelers, decided to showcase the rare pieces for a limited engagement in his Houston store.
Carrie Fisher’s (aka Princess Leia) personally annotated script for The Empire Strikes Back, a fully functional R2D2 used for Star Wars promotions in the 1970s and a life-size original Darth Vader costume from the first Star Wars movie in 1977 are among the astonishing artifacts that were on display through Saturday, May 13.
Franco Valobra, a renowned luxury car collector, shares a “garage” with a close friend, storing his Ferraris and Maseratis alongside an array of astonishing memorabilia such as a model-size X-Wing Fighter and a Stormtrooper Blaster used in Star Wars: A New Hope. …
(9) MEMORY LANE.
2006 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Some of you I think are likely more familiar with Susanna Clarke by way of her two novels, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and Piranesi, than you are with her short stories. It turns out that she is most excellent when it comes to this form.
She’s not written a lot of short stories but eight of these were collected in The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories, published seventeen years ago by Bloomsbury USA. The cover illustration (there’s no dust jacket) which I not surprisingly really love is by Charles Vess.
All of them are set in the same alternative history as Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
Our Beginning is drawn from one of them, “The Ladies of Grace Adieu Above”. And now here it is for you to read…
The Ladies of Grace Adieu Above all remember this: that magic belongs as much to the heart as to the head and everything which is done, should be done from love or joy or righteous anger.
And if we honour this principle we shall discover that our magic is much greater than all the sum of all the spells that were ever taught. Then magic is to us as flight is to the birds, because then our magic comes from the dark and dreaming heart, just as the flight of a bird comes from the heart. And we will feel the same joy in performing that magic that the bird feels as it casts itself into the void and we will know that magic is part of what a man is, just as flight is part of what a bird is.
This understanding is a gift to us from the Raven King, the dear king of all magicians, who stands between England and the Other Lands, between all wild creatures and the world of men. From The Book of the Lady Catherine of Winchester (1209-67), translated from the Latin by Jane Tobias (1775-1819)
When Mrs Field died, her grieving widower looked around him and discovered that the world seemed quite as full of pretty, young women as it had been in his youth. It further occurred to him that he was just as rich as ever and that, though his home already contained one pretty, young woman (his niece and ward, Cassandra Parbringer), he did not believe that another would go amiss. He did not think that he was at all changed from what he had been and Cassandra was entirely of his opinion, for (she thought to herself) I am sure, sir, that you were every bit as tedious at twenty-one as you are at forty-nine. So Mr Field married again. The lady was pretty and clever and only a year older than Cassandra, but, in her defence, we may say that she had no money and must either marry Mr Field or go and be a teacher in a school. The second Mrs Field and Cassandra were very pleased with each other and soon became very fond of each other. Indeed the sad truth was that they were a great deal fonder of each other than either was of Mr Field. There was another lady who was their friend (her name was Miss Tobias) and the three were often seen walking together near the village where lived-Grace Adieu in Gloucestershire.
Cassandra Parbringer at twenty was considered an ideal of a certain type of beauty to which some gentlemen are particularly partial. A white skin was agreeably tinged with pink. Light blue eyes harmonized very prettily with silvery-gold curls and the whole was a picture in which womanliness and childishness were sweetly combined. Mr Field, a gentleman not remarkable for his powers of observation, confidently supposed her to have a character childishly naive and full of pleasant, feminine submission in keeping with her face.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 16, 1918 — Barry Atwater. Surak in “The Savage Curtain” episode where several reliable sources say he had serious trouble making Vulcan hand gesture. He did a lot of other genre work from Night Stalker where he played the vampire Janos Skorzeny to The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Night Gallery, The Wild Wild West and The Outer Limits. (Died 1978.)
Born May 16, 1937 — Yvonne Craig. Batgirl on Batman, and that green skinned Orion slave girl Marta in “Whom Gods Destroy”. She also appeared in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Wild Wild West, Voyage to The Bottom of the Sea, The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, Land of the Giants, SixMillionDollar Man and, err, Mars Needs Women. (Died 2015.)
Born May 16, 1950 — Bruce Coville, 73. He’s won three Golden Duck Awards for Excellence in Children’s Science Fiction. He won first for his My Teacher Glows in the Dark, the second for his I Was a 6th Grade Alien, and the third for producing an audio adaptation of Heinlein’s The Rolling Stones. And NESFA also presented him with the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction. He was twice nominated for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature.
Born May 16, 1953 — Pierce Brosnan, 70. Louis XIV in The Moon and the Sun adaptation of Vonda McIntyre’s novel, shot in 2014 then not released til 2022. James Bond in a remarkably undistinguished series of such films. Seriously, what do you remember about his Bond films? Dr. Lawrence Angelo in The Lawnmower Man, and he was lunch, errr, Professor Donald Kessler in Mars Attacks! and Mike Noonan in Bag of Bones.
Born May 16, 1955 — Debra Winger, 68. Not I grant you an extensive genre resume but interesting one nonetheless. Her first genre appearance is in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in uncredited turn as, and I kid you, a Halloween Zombie Nurse with a poodle. Really I’m not kidding. And she appeared in three episodes of the Seventies Wonder Woman as Drusilla / Wonder Girl. If you want to stretch it, she was Rebecca in The Red Tent film.
Born May 16, 1969 — David Boreanaz, 54. Am I the only one that thought Angel was for the most part a better series than Buffy? And the perfect episode was I think “Smile Time” when Angel gets turned into a puppet. It even spawned its own rather great toy line. He’s currently Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Jason Hayes on SEAL Team which has migrated to Paramount + which means that the adult language barrier has been shattered so it’s quite amusing to hear a very foul mouthed Boreanaz.
Born May 16, 1977 — Lynn Collins, 46. She was an excellent Dejah Thoris in the much underrated John Carter. Her first genre role was Assistant D.A. Jessica Manning on the very short lived horror UPN drama Hauntings, and she showed up in True Blood as Dawn Green. She survived longer on The Walking Dead as Leah Shaw. Back to films, she was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Wolverine as Kayla Silverfox, Rim of The World as Major Collins and Blood Creek as Barb.
Before getting to the audition for the show, Alan Napier had no clue who Batman was. He never heard of the character, and he didn’t take the casting that seriously. The truth is, when the producers offered him a part of Batman’s butler Alfred, Alan was a skeptic, and he even considered not accepting the part. The story and idea seemed funny and ridiculous to him.
Luckily, after Napier’s agent showed him the income that the role could get him, he immediately changed his mind and said yes.
(14) WOTF 39. Today is the official release of Writers of the Future Volume 39 book, ebook and audiobook.
…report crusts, cracks, aggregates, and bright polygonal ridges on the surfaces of hydrated salt-rich dunes of southern Utopia Planitia (~25°N) from in situ exploration by the Zhurong rover. These surface features were inferred to form after 1.4 to 0.4 million years ago. Wind and CO2 frost processes can be ruled out as potential mechanisms. Instead, involvement of saline water from thawed frost/snow is the most likely cause. This discovery sheds light on more humid conditions of the modern Martian climate and provides critical clues to future exploration missions searching for signs of extant life, particularly at low latitudes with comparatively warmer, more amenable surface temperatures.
No doubt to Alan Titchmarsh’s great relief, the horticultural arm of the post-apocalypse flick is finally entering the growth phase, with the likes of Annihilation, The Last of Us and now this lightweight effort from Chinese director Lin Zhenzhao. The hubris here is that mankind has overcompensated for the desertification of the planet with cutting-edge research to promote plant growth, accidentally creating a super-species of sentient flora that has choked the Earth, and whose roving vines hunt down people to snack on….
When a drug to replicate plant cells creates a sentient form of flower, the planet is over taken by flora and humankind is depleted. A Chinese task force, a widowed father and his young daughter fight to survive in a mission to inject an antidote to the core of the plants to reverse their growth.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Mike Lynch Cartoons tells who’s who in this 1945 video “John Nesbitt’s Passing Parade: ‘People on Paper'”: H.H. Knerr (Katzenjammer Kids), Bud Fisher (Mutt and Jeff), Fred Lasswell (Barney Google and Snuffy Smith), Frank King (Gasoline Alley), Chester Gould (Dick Tracy), Dick Calkins (Buck Rogers in the 25th Century), Milton Caniff (Terry and the Pirates), Chic Young (Blondie), Raeburn Van Buren (Abbie an’ Slats), Ham Fisher (Joe Palooka), Hal Foster (Prince Valiant), Harold Gray (Little Orphan Annie), and Al Capp (Li’l Abner).
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Lise Andreasen, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) NEW FUTURE TENSE FICTION PODCAST. The first episode of the Future Tense Fiction podcast series dropped this week. Produced by Slate, it’s hosted by science journalist Maddie Stone, and each episode features a voice actor reading one of the Future Tense stories, followed by a conversation with the author about how their own experiences with technology informed their writing and vision. The first episode features Sturgeon Award–winning story “When Robot and Crow saved East St. Louis,” by Annalee Newitz. The podcast is free and is available through any podcast service that people use (including but not limited to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Radio Public).
Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes have finally made it to the blue carpet. WHAT.
I could not possibly be more excited to announce that Space Opera, the literary lovechild of @Eurovision & a drunk thesaurus, is officially part of the #BigEurovisionRead and #Eurofestival, sponsored by @bbcarts and @thereadingagency this year!
From a throwaway joke on Twitter to really being part of actual #Eurovision? Oh. My. God.
It truly isn’t possible to express how thrilling it is for an utterly cringe #Eurovision dork like me to be anywhere near the actual event, let alone a small official part of it. I am so honored, so grateful, and I hope Dess and the gang find a whole new galaxy of friends.
Space Opera has been such a ride, and the sequel is out this fall! Thank you so much to all the librarians that chose this book and everyone who has jumped on Mr. Jones’ Wild Ride over the last five years.
“Admission is now open to Starfleet Academy! Explore the galaxy! Captain your destiny! For the first time in over a century, our campus will be re-opened to admit individuals a minimum of 16 Earth years (or species equivalent) who dream of exceeding their physical, mental and spiritual limits, who value friendship, camaraderie, honor and devotion to a cause greater than themselves,” Kurtzman and Landau said. “The coursework will be rigorous, the instructors among the brightest lights in their respective fields, and those accepted will live and study side-by-side with the most diverse population of students ever admitted. Today we encourage all who share our dreams, goals and values to join a new generation of visionary cadets as they take their first steps toward creating a bright future for us all. Apply today! Ex Astris, Scientia!”
The official logline for the series states that it “will introduce us to a young group of cadets who come together to pursue a common dream of hope and optimism. Under the watchful and demanding eyes of their instructors, they will discover what it takes to become Starfleet officers as they navigate blossoming friendships, explosive rivalries, first loves and a new enemy that threatens both the Academy and the Federation itself.”
… Production on “Star Trek: Starfleet Academy” will begin in 2024….
(4) GOODNIGHT MOON. Here’s a strange exercise: “Every Page of Goodnight Moon, Ranked” at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. This page is ranked next to last – and the commentary is one reason I’m not sure this article succeeds at being funny.
21. And goodnight mouse (Page 16) Separated from the toy house on page 3, we see this mouse for what it really is: a thinly constructed, two-dimensional character. What had once seemed whimsical now appears in stark reality: a mouse running around a child’s bedroom, the treatment of which should neither be celebrated nor encouraged.
Deep in the midst of pandemic lockdowns, a plan was hatched: a new illuminated edition of Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio, engineered to unDisnify one of the strangest, most startling pieces of fiction ever to be beloved by generations of children worldwide.
The seed was planted by cartoonist and author Mike Mignola (Hellboy), who had been pondering his own take on the puppet for decades. With the world closed up due to COVID, he teamed up with idiosyncratic publisher Beehive Books and holed up in his studio to create a portfolio of over fifty original illustrations re-envisioning Collodi’s tale. When author Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events) got wind of the project, he couldn’t resist joining, offering elaborate hand-typed annotations of his own maddening encounter with this singular text.
Pinocchio, though one of the most popular literary works of all time, is somewhat paradoxically ill-remembered. Collodi originally published the story as serialized installments in a children’s magazine. The original series ended with Pinocchio hung from a tree, dead by the hands of assassins, and was continued only because of an outcry from readers who couldn’t stand to see such a beloved character reach such a dismal end. This is the true nature of Collodi’s tale — who better than Mike Mignola to illustrate the unremitting darkness and strange whimsy that characterized this bizarre children’s classic?
This exhibition will feature his full portfolio of yet-to-be-published Pinocchio illustrations, including drawings, paintings, process work and other ephemera of Mignola’s pandemic Pinocchio project. The Land of Toys, the City of Catchfools, the Blue Fairy, Fire Eater, the feline Assassins – as seen through the eyes of a modern master of illustration and storytelling.
(7) JOE GIELLA (1928-2023). Comics artist Joe Giella died March 21 at the age of 94 reports Heritage Auctions.
Joe Giella is best known for his work at DC in the 1950s and 60s as an inker. But his career spanned 60 years! He studied art at three different schools before his first gig at age 17 in 1946 where he did “Captain Codfish” for Hillman. After some free-lance at Fawcett, former classmate Mike Sekowsky helped him land a job at Timely as an inker. He met Frank Giacoia there and went with Frank when he took a job at DC in 1949. Over the next two decades, at one time or another, Joe inked nearly every feature that Julius Schwartz edited.
By 1970, Joe had started working with the syndicates and drew or inked Batman, Flash Gordon, the Phantom, while still doing occasional work for DC. In 1991, he took over the Mary Worth strip, where he continued to work until his retirement in 2016. Joe passed away at age 94 on March 21, 2023.
(8) MEMORY LANE.
1972 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Clifford Simak’s A Choice of Gods was published fifty-one years ago by G.P. Putnam & Sons with a simultaneous edition done by SFBC. The superb cover art was by Michael Hinge.
Sixty years ago at Torcon II, it would be nominated for Best Novel though Isaac Asimov’s The Gods Themselves would take home the Hugo that year.
Without being explicit, I will say that I think it shares some similarity in themes to City.
I think A Choice of Gods has one of the finest Beginnings that I’ve ever had the pleasure to read, so without further commentary on my part, here it is…
Aug. 1, 2185: So we begin again. Actually, we began again fifty years ago, but did not know it then. There was hope, for a time, that there were more people left and that we could pick up where we had left off. We thought, somehow, that we could hang onto what we had, once the shock was over and we could think more clearly and plan more cleverly. By the end of the first year we should have known that it was impossible; by the end of five we should have been willing to admit it, but we weren’t. At first we refused to face the fact and once we had to face it we became stubborn with a senseless sort of faith. The old way of life could not be revived; there were too few of us and none with special knowledge and the old technology was gone beyond all restoration. The technology had been too complex and too specialized and too regimented to be picked up and carried on without a large work force equipped with appropriate skills and knowledge that were necessary not only to operate the technology itself, but to produce the energy that went into it. We are now no more than scavengers feeding on the carcass of the past and some day we’ll be down to the bare bones of it and will be finally on our own. But over the years we have been recovering or rediscovering, whichever it may be, some of the older and more basic technology geared to a simpler way of life and these basic rudimentary skills should keep us from sinking into utter savagery.
There is no one who knows what really happened, which does not, of course, deter some of us from formulating theories that might explain it all. The trouble is that all the theories boil down to simple guesses, in which all kinds of metaphysical misconceptions play a part. There are no facts other than two very simple facts and the first of these is that fifty years ago last month the greater fraction of the human race either went somewhere or was taken somewhere. Out of more than eight billion of us, which was certainly far too many of us, there are now, at most, a few hundred left. In this house in which I sit to write these words, there are sixty-seven humans, and only that many because on the night it happened we had invited some young guests to help us celebrate the coming of age of our twin grandsons, John and Jason Whitney. Of the Leech Lake Indians there may be as many as three hundred, although we now see little of them, for they have taken up again, quite happily and to their great advantage, or so it would seem to me, their old tribal wanderings. At times rumors reach us of other little pockets of humanity still surviving (the rumors chiefly brought by some loose-footed robot), but when we’ve gone to hunt for them, they are never there, nor is there anything to indicate they ever had been there. This, of course, proves nothing. It stands to reason that elsewhere on the Earth there must be others left, although we have no idea where. We hunt for them no longer, even when the rumors come, for it seems to us that we no longer have any need of them. In the intervening years we have become content, settling down into the routine of a bucolic life.
The robots still are with us and we have no idea how many there may be. All the robots that were ever in existence must still remain. They did not go or were not taken as was the human race. Over the years a number of them have come to settle in with us, doing all the work and chores necessary for our comfortable existence, becoming, in all truth, a part of our community. Some of them at times may leave and go elsewhere for a while and there are occasions when new ones float in and stay, either for good or for varying periods. It might seem to someone unacquainted with the situation that in the robots we had the labor force we needed to keep at least a small sector of the more vital parts of the old technology alive. It is possible the robots could have been taught the necessary skills, but the rub here is that we had no one who was equipped to teach them. Even if we’d had, I have some well-founded doubt that it would have worked. The robots are not technologically minded. They were not built to be. They were built to bolster human vanity and pride, to meet a strange longing that seems to be built into the human ego—the need to have other humans (or a reasonable facsimile of other humans) to minister to our wants and needs, human slaves to be dominated, human beings over which a man or woman (or a child) can assert authority, thus building up a false feeling of superiority. They were built to serve as cooks, gardeners, butlers, maids, footmen (I have never got quite straight in mind what a footman is)—servants of all kinds. They were the flunkeys and the inferior companions, the yea-sayers, the slaves. In a manner of speaking, in their services to us, I suppose they still are slaves. Although I doubt the robots think of it as slavery; their values, while supplied by human agency, are not entirely human values. They serve us most willingly; thankful of a chance to serve, they press their services upon us, apparently glad to find new masters to replace the old. This is the situation as it applies to us; with the Indians it is different. The robots do not feel at ease with the Indians and the Indians, in turn, regard them with an emotion that borders upon loathing. They are a part of the white man’s culture and are readily acceptable to us upon the basis of our onetime preoccupation with machines. To the Indians they are unclean, something that is repulsively foul and alien. They will have no part of them. Any robot stumbling into an Indian camp is summarily hustled off. A few of the robots serve us. There must be many thousands more. Those that are not with us we have fallen into the habit of calling wild robots, although I doubt they, in any sense, are wild. Often, from our windows or while sitting on the patio, or while out walking, we see bands of wild robots hurrying along as if they had an urgent destination or were involved in some great purpose. We have never been able to determine where the destination or what might be the purpose. There are certain stories of them that we hear at times, but nothing more than stories and with no evidence, and not worth repeating here.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born March 30, 1904 — Herbert van Thal. Editor of the Pan Book of Horror Stories series, twenty-four volumes that appeared from 1959 to 1983. Back From the Dead: The Legacy of the Pan Book of Horror Stories is a look at the series and it contains Lest You Should Suffer Nightmares, the first biography of him written by Pan Book of Horror Stories expert Johnny Mains. (Died 1983.)
Born March 30, 1928 — Chad Oliver. Writer of both Westerns and SF, a not uncommon occupation at that time. He considered himself an anthropological science fiction writer whose training as an academic informed his fiction, an early Le Guin if you will. Not a terribly prolific writer with just nine novels and two collections to his name over a forty-year span. Mists of Dawn, his first novel, is a YA novel which I’d recommend as it reads similarly to Heinlein. (Died 1993.)
Born March 30, 1930 — John Astin, 93. He is best known for playing Gomez Addams in Addams Family, reprising it on the Halloween with the New Addams Family film and the Addams Family animated series. A memorable later role would be as Professor Wickwire in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., and I’d like single out his delightfully weird appearance on The Wild Wild West as Count Nikolai Sazanov in “The Night of the Tartar” episode. Years later I remember that episode and him in it.
Born March 30, 1934 — Dennis Etchison. As an editor, he received two World Fantasy Awards for Best Anthology, MetaHorror and The Museum of Horrors. As a writer, he’s best remembered as a short story writer of quite tasty horror. Talking in the Dark Is his personally selected collection of his stories. (Died 2019.)
Born March 30, 1948 — Jeanne Robinson. She co-wrote the Stardance Saga with her husband Spider Robinson. To my knowledge, her only other piece of writing was ‘Serendipity: Do, Some Thoughts About Collaborative Writing‘ which was published in the MagiCon Program. (Died 2010.)
Born March 30, 1950 — Robbie Coltrane. I first saw him playing Dr. Eddie “Fitz” Fitzgerald on Cracker way back in the Ninties. Not genre, but an amazing role none-the-less. He was Valentin Dmitrovich Zhukovsky in GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough, with a much less prominent role as a man at an airfield in Flash Gordon being his first genre role. Being Rubeus Hagrid in the Potter franchise was his longest running genre gig. He’s also voiced both Mr. Hyde in the Van Helsing film and Gregory, a mouse, in The Tale of Despereaux film. (Died 2022.)
Born March 30, 1965 — Maurice LaMarche, 58. Voice actor primarily for such roles as Pinky and The Brain (both of which Stross makes use of in The Laundry series) with Pinky modeled off Orson Welles, near as I can tell the entire cast of Futurama, the villain Sylar on Heroes, the voice of Orson Welles in Ed Wood, a less serious Pepé Le Pew in Space Jam, and, though maybe not genre, he’s voiced Kellogg’s Froot Loops spokesbird Toucan Sam and the animated Willy Wonka character in Nestlé’s Willy Wonka Candy Company commercials.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Sheldon shows that the Vanishing Cabinet from Harry Potter may have had other uses of interest to Valdemort.
Sheldon, again, depicts Pippin explaining so clearly and simply why it’s time for another meal that even a future King should be able to understand.
Order of the Stick has a magic trap that makes it a bit difficult to determine when the trap has been tripped.
(11) CAT CHAT. Did we do this before? Well, if so, let’s do it again. CatGPT. It seems to be a one-joke idea, so I won’t excerpt the answer I received to my question “What makes a good social justice credential?”
Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, chairman of Marvel Entertainment, has been laid off at Disney. Marvel Entertainment will be folded into the larger Disney business units, a Disney spokesperson confirmed.
The move comes as Disney looks to eliminate 7,000 jobs in multiple rounds of layoffs that kicked off this week, in what CEO Bob Iger calls part of a “strategic realignment.”
Rob Grosser, a longtime third-party Marvel security consultant who is also considered to be Perlmutter’s fixer, is also out, according to two insiders with knowledge of the situation. In addition, Disney has terminated the employment of Rob Steffens, who served as co-president of Marvel Entertainment, and John Turitzin, who held the position of chief counsel for the same division….
…The metaverse division is headed by Mike White, who was promoted to the role from SVP of consumer experiences and platforms in February 2022 and charged with getting Disney deeper into the web3 space. The unit aimed to find ways to tell more interactive stories in immersive formats using Disney’s extensive library of intellectual property, according to WSJ. Aside from the Disney we all know and love, that extensive library includes Pixar, Marvel and all of the Star Wars movies and shows.
All 50 or so members of the team have lost their jobs, sources told WSJ. White will remain at the company, but it’s not clear in what capacity….
(14) WJW INTERVIEW. A 90-minute video interview with Walter Jon Williams has been posted on Tubi by the program “About the Authors TV”. The Q&A is conducted by author and biographer Jake Brown.
Williams posted the link along with a self-deprecating comment: “I’ve viewed only a few minutes of the interview, enough to be amused by the way Zoom’s filters kept making parts of my anatomy appear and disappear. If you’re looking for inadvertent hilarity, or possibly an epileptic seizure, this is the place for you!”
A wedding proposal in a movie theater went viral on TikTok for a creator’s rendition of A24’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” and viewers say they’re in awe of the effort.
“I rented out a theater room, did some photoshop, brought her inside, edited a fake video with trailers in the beginning,” TikTok user Daniel Le, who goes by @danyo_le, wrote.
The TikTok, which garnered over 2 million views and included a film Le named “Anniething Anniewhere All at Once” after his girlfriend, showed clips from the acclaimed film and parody versions edited in by Le….
(16) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter did not touch that dial while contestant flailed on tonight’s episode of Jeopardy!
Category: Quoth the title
Answer: Philip Pullman quoted Milton, “Unless the Almighty Maker them ordain” these “to create more worlds”
Wrong questions: “What are men?” and “What are children of men?”
Correct question: “What is ‘His Dark Materials’?”
Answer: The title of this “Hainting” Noel Coward comedy comes from Shelley’s “To a Skylark”
No one could ask, “Shelley wrote, ‘Hail to thee, “Blithe Spirit’.”
John Coxon is jetlagged, Alison Scott is working, and Liz Batty is under pressure. We get excited about the upcoming Eastercon, barely even mention Chengdu at all, talk a bit about science fiction, and round it all out with Gaming Corner, sponsored by Mark Plummer. Art by the fabulous Sue Mason.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Dann, Joey Eschrich, Stephen Granade, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman, for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]
(1) REVISED 2025 WORLDCON BID DEADLINE. The Chengdu Worldcon has recalculated the deadline for 2025 Worldcon bids to file in order to appear on the printed ballot. They tweeted:
According to Section 4.6.3 of the WSFS Constitution, the new deadline for any bidding party to have its name appearing on the printed ballot for the 2025 Worldcon Site Selection is April 21, 2023. For any inquiry, please contact [email protected]
The DC TV slate is getting thinner by the day. Both Doom Patrol and Titans have been canceled at HBO Max, with each DC-based series set to end for good when their current seasons are done.
Reported at the same time, news of each cancelation on Wednesday elicited a rapid followup tweet from James Gunn, the recently-hired co-CEO (alongside Peter Safran) of the rebranded DC Studios. Gunn clarified that the move to end both Doom Patrol and Titans was decided before he was elevated to the studio’s top position, while Deadline reported that each show is building toward planned ending episodes aimed at delivering series finales that won’t close things out with any cliffhangers….
… KAC: So, how do you fit into the Disabled community?
ODE: I only started to refer to myself as Disabled after publishing my novelette “O2 Arena,” so I’m approaching the Disabled community in baby steps. Though, I’ve been Disabled all my life. Regarding speculative fiction, my current story, which was nominated for the Hugo Award, the Nebula, and the BSFA, is the first where I’ve identified as Disabled.
KAC: Yeah. I mean, that’s common for Disabled people like us, right? Some of us use the word Neurodiverse instead. You may not even understand you are Disabled until you get your diagnosis—and depending on which disability you have, you may or may not have access to a Disabled community.
Chovwe, do you mind if I ask you what disabilities you have? I do that so our Disabled and Neurodiverse readers can relate their experiences to yours.
ODE: Sure. Since birth, I have had chronic sinusitis—it’s a respiratory illness. I have perforated ear drums from the sinusitis infection, which means I’m hearing impaired. It’s all connected, like a network of disabilities springing from one.
That’s respiratory and hearing. Then, because of my chronic sinusitis, I am more susceptible to respiratory illnesses, so I had pneumonia and tuberculosis somewhere along the line. It sort of leaves your lungs a little scarred, you know? I have weaker lungs, and an entire network of respiratory problems.
From my tuberculosis, I got damage to my spine, so I have chronic back pain, too. Chronic sinusitis, hearing loss, chronic back pain, and general breathing difficulties—that’s about it for now.
KAC: I mean, that’s enough, right? Well, I welcome you into my Disabled communities….
In a company-wide memo sent on January 25, HarperCollins announced that it has reached an agreement with its employee union to have a mutually-agreed-upon independent mediator take over labor negotiations. With more than 200 union employees on strike since November 10, the company said that it hopes a mediator will be able to clear “a path forward” for employees to return to work.
“We entered negotiations eager to find common ground, and we have remained committed to achieving a fair and reasonable contract throughout this process,” reads the memo from HC’s v-p of human resources, Zandra Magariño. “We are optimistic that a mutually agreed upon mediator can help find the solutions that have eluded us so far.”
The memo seemed to strike a different tone than the open letter from CEO Brian Murray published early last month, in which he argued that the union’s demands for livable wages “failed to account for the market dynamics of the publishing industry” and the company’s “responsibility to meet the financial demands” of its business stakeholders. In contrast, Magariño’s memo said that HarperCollins is “optimistic that a mutually agreed upon mediator can help find the solutions that have eluded us so far. HarperCollins has had a union for 80 years, with a long history of successful and fair contract negotiations. The company has the exact same goal now, and is actively working to achieve it.”
The union confirmed the mediator on Twitter, and in its own press release, this morning. “We are hopeful the company will use this opportunity to settle fairly and reset our relationship,” it wrote, adding: “This means our pressure campaign is working. The strike will continue until we reach a fair contract agreement. Please continue to hold the line.”
(5) A DUEL OF WITS WITH AN UNARMED OPPONENT. Camestros Felapton continues his explorations of Larry Correia’s In Defense of the Second Amendment.
…Larry Correia will get to the “tired proposals” that he believes can’t work in Chapter 4 but logic is not going to play a big role.
Chapter 1 “Guns and Vultures” sets out Correia’s broad argument and covers briefly several of the themes that he will discuss at greater length in later chapters. Numerous points are made but I think it is reasonable to say that the overarching theme of the chapter is about who the true victims of American gun violence are from Correia’s perspective….
Imagine a public debate on transport policy, with a focus on increased pedestrianisation of town centres. Fewer cars, fewer accidents, safer streets and a more congenial place to shop or visit a library. Not everybody will be in favour of such a plan and maybe a guy write a book about why we should actually have more cars in town. After all, you can’t get run over by a car when crossing the road if you are already in a car! We’ll call this author Lorry Career….
…Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment president Craig Erwich gave a bleak update forThe Orville season 4. The popular Star Trek-inspired science-fiction comedy follows Captain Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane) as he leads the crew of USS Orville on adventures across the galaxy. Although season 1 faltered, garnering middling reviews from critics and audiences alike, The Orville rebounded with season 2 and 3, both scoring 100% Fresh ratings on Rotten Tomatoes.
Erwich recently spoke to TVLine and gave a bleak update regarding The Orville season 4. The executive did not share any new details, avoiding any confirmation that The Orville will return. Instead, Erwich praised the work MacFarlane had done on the latest season. Read all of what Erwich said below:
“We don’t have anything to share right now. It’s a great show and I know that the fans loved having it back in their lives. And Seth [MacFarlane] did a great job, uniquely as he can, in front of and behind the camera. But we don’t have anything to share right now.“
… ‘POV: you are a black cat with a broken leg dumped at a vet clinic to be euthanized but you were finally rescued by the amazing team @perrys_place-la. Then you waited 7 months to find your forever home and now you live with the legend @macfarlaneseth.’ …
Doctor Who fans are always searching for clues about possible developments in the Whoniverse – and it looks like some eagle-eyed viewers have spotted a change to the TARDIS during filming for the show’s 14th season.
Yesterday (Tuesday 24th January) Twitter user Darren Griffiths posted some snaps he had taken when he stumbled upon the set of the sci-fi show while “wandering along a coastal path in Welsh Wales”, and other fans were quick to point out some interesting alterations to the iconic Police Box.
One commenter noted that “the windows are dirty at the bottom”, while Griffiths himself added that “the Police Box sign at the top was also dulled down”. Meanwhile, fan page The Post Monument wrote, “I like how they’ve aged the TARDIS.”
Quite why the TARDIS has been given a new weathered look is not immediately clear – and it remains to be seen whether this will be a specific plot point or just an altogether new look for the Doctor’s trusty vehicle – but it is sure to cause all sorts of speculation amongst the fanbase as they wait for the show to return for its 6oth anniversary celebrations later this year.
Sal Piro, who played a pivotal role in creating the audience participation routines that turned The Rocky Horror Picture Show into a multi-decade, world-wide phenomenon, died at his home in New York City Jan 21.
His death was announced by The Rocky Horror Picture Show Fan Club, which he founded in 1977 and served as its president until his death, becoming a major figure in creating the movie’s cult classic status.
“Sal was the defacto face of Rocky Horror fandom for decades,” the fan club said in a tweeted statement. “He will be sorely missed.”
Opening to terrible reviews in 1975, The Rocky Horror Picture Show soon became a staple of the midnight movie screenings at New York City’s Waverly Theater in Greenwich Village. Surprisingly, the film quickly drew the devotion of young fans, including Piro, who shouted humorous responses to much of the film’s dialogue. As the responses became more elaborate into a sort of viewing ritual, Piro helped shape a floor show of audience members playing out the movie beneath the screen….
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1996 — [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife
Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife which won the Mythopoeic Award for Novel of the Year is without doubt one of my favorite novels.
It was supposed to be based off one of Brian Froud’s faerie paintings which is on the British cover of the first edition of the novel, as opposed to the Susan Sedden Boulet art for the American first edition. What you see below is Froud’s original artwork.
Of the books that wound up comprising Froud’s Faerieland series—Charles de Lint’s The Wild Wood, Patricia A. McKillip’s Something Rich and Strange, and Midori Snyder’s Hannah’s Garden, the first two, plus this in the British edition, got his artwork.
Maggie Black is the artist who’s the central character in this novel and an amazing woman she is. She’s a poet, who comes to the Southwest desert upon learning that a friend, Cooper, has left his estate to her. I won’t say more as some of you may not have read it yet.
Here’s my extended quote from The Wood Wife as she prepares breakfast shortly after getting there.
Maggie woke early, with a wrenching sense of dislocation. She stared at the water-stained ceiling above her and tried to recall just where she was. On a mountainside, in Davis Cooper’s house. The sky outside was a shade of violet that she’d never quite seen before.
She got up, washed, put her bathrobe on and padded into the kitchen. She’d always been an early riser; she felt cheated if she slept too late and missed the rising sun. She cherished the silver morning light, the stillness, the morning rituals: water in the kettle, bitter coffee grounds, a warm mug held between cold hands, the scent of a day unfolding before her, pungent with possibility.
As the water heated, Maggie unpacked the bag of provisions she’d brought along: dark Dutch coffee, bread, muesli, vegetables, garlic, a bottle of wine. In the small refrigerator were eggs, cheese, fresh pasta from Los Angeles, green corn tamales from downtown Tucson. The only strange thing about the unfamiliarity of this kitchen was the knowledge that it was hers now, these pans, these plates, this old dented kettle, this mug decorated with petroglyph paintings. For years she’d been travelling light and making herself at home in other people’s houses. Having an entire house of her own was going to take some getting used to.
She made the coffee, grilled some toast, and sat down at the kitchen table with yesterday’s edition of the Arizona Daily Star, too unsettled to actually read it. Davis’s kitchen was the heart of the house, with a rough wood table in the center that could have easily seated a family of twelve and not just one elderly poet. The kitchen hearth held a woodstove—the winter nights were probably cold up here. Fat wicker rockers were pulled close to it, covered by faded old serapes. The walls were a mottled tea-colored adobe with shades of some brighter tone showing through and wainscotting up to waist-height stained or aged to a woodsy green. The window frames were painted violet, the doors were a rich but weathered shade of blue. Mexican saints in beaten tin frames hung among Davis’s pots and pans; folk art and dusty tin milagros hung among strings of red chili peppers, garlic, and desert herbs. The windowsills were crowded with were crowded with stones, geodes, fossils, clumps of smoky quartz, and Indian pottery shards.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 26, 1918 — Philip Jose Farmer. I know I’ve read at least the first three Riverworld novels (To Your Scattered BodiesGo, The Fabulous Riverboat and The Dark Design which are all stellar) but I’ll be damned if I recognize the latter ones. Great novels those are. And I’ll admit that I’m not familiar at all with the World of Tiers or Dayworld series. Anyone read them? I know, silly question. I do remember his Doc Savage novel Escape from Loki as being a highly entertaining read, and I see he’s done a number of Tarzan novels as well which I admit I’ve not read. Who here has? (Died 2009.)
Born January 26, 1923 — Anne Jeffreys. Her first role in our end of things was as a young woman on the early Forties film Tarzan’s New York Adventure. She’s Jean Le Danse (note the name) around the same time in the comedy Zombies on Broadway (film geeks here — is this the earliest zombie film?). And no, I’ve not forgotten she had the lead role as Marion Kerby in the Topper series. She also had one-offs in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Fantasy Island and Battlestar Galactica. (Died 2017.)
Born January 26, 1928 — Roger Vadim. Director, Barbarbella. That alone gets a Birthday Honor. But he was one of three directors of Spirits of the Dead, a horror anthology film. (Louis Malle and Federico Fellini were the others.) And not to stop there, he directed another horror film, Blood and Roses (Et mourir de plaisir) and even was involved in The Hitchhiker horror anthology series. And Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman is at least genre adjacent… (Died 2000.)
Born January 26, 1929 — Jules Feiffer, 94. On the Birthday list as he’s the illustrator of The Phantom Tollbooth. Well, and that he’s also illustrated Eisner’s Spirit which helped get him into the Comic Book Hall of Fame. Let’s not overlook that he wrote The Great Comic Book Heroes in the Sixties which made it the first history of the superheroes of the late Thirties and Forties and their creators.
Born January 26, 1943 — Judy-Lynn Del Rey. After first starting at Galaxy Magazine became an editor at Ballantine Books, and eventuallywas given her own imprint, Del Rey Books, Dick and Asimov were two of her clients who considered her the best editor they’d worked with. Wife of Lester del Rey. She suffered a brain hemorrhage in October 1985 and died several months later. Though she was awarded a Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor after her death, her widower turned it down on the grounds that it only been awarded because of her death. (Died 1986.)
Born January 26, 1949 — Jonathan Carroll, 74. I think his best work by far is The Crane’s View Trilogy consisting of Kissing the Beehive, The Marriage of Sticks and The Wooden Sea. I know de Lint liked these novels though mainstream critics were less than thrilled. White Apples I thought was a well crafted novel and The Crow’s Dinner is his wide ranging look at life in general, not genre at all but fascinating.
Born January 26, 1966 — Stephen Cox, 57. Pop culture writer who has written a number of books on genre subjects including The Munchkins Remember: The Wizard of Oz and Beyond, The Addams Chronicles: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Addams Family, Dreaming of Jeannie: TV’s Primetime in a Bottle and The Munsters: A Trip Down Mockingbird Lane. I’ll admit to being puzzled by his Cooking in Oz that he did with Elaine Willingham as I didn’t remember that much for food in the Oz book until I started doing the current essays on food in genre literature and discovered there indeed was!
… This is enshittification: Surpluses are first directed to users; then, once they’re locked in, surpluses go to suppliers; then once they’re locked in, the surplus is handed to shareholders and the platform becomes a useless pile of shit. From mobile app stores to Steam, from Facebook to Twitter, this is the enshittification lifecycle.
This is why—as Cat Valente wrote in her magisterial pre-Christmas essay—platforms like Prodigy transformed themselves overnight, from a place where you went for social connection to a place where you were expected to “stop talking to each other and start buying things.”…
… By making good-faith recommendations of things it thought its users would like, TikTok built a mass audience, larger than many thought possible, given the death grip of its competitors, like YouTube and Instagram. Now that TikTok has the audience, it is consolidating its gains and seeking to lure away the media companies and creators who are still stubbornly attached to YouTube and Insta.
Yesterday, Forbes’s Emily Baker-White broke a fantastic story about how that actually works inside of ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, citing multiple internal sources, revealing the existence of a “heating tool” that TikTok employees use to push videos from select accounts into millions of viewers’ feeds.
These videos go into TikTok users’ For You feeds, which TikTok misleadingly describes as being populated by videos “ranked by an algorithm that predicts your interests based on your behavior in the app.” In reality, For You is only sometimes composed of videos that TikTok thinks will add value to your experience—the rest of the time, it’s full of videos that TikTok has inserted in order to make creators think that TikTok is a great place to reach an audience….
“Adult Swim has ended its association with Justin Roiland,” a spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday.
Following Roiland’s exit, Rick and Morty will continue, with the title roles, which had been voiced by Roiland, recast.
Co-created by Roiland and Dan Harmon, the hit series received a massive 70-episode order in 2018 when Adult Swim also signed new long-term deals with Roiland and Harmon. The show, which has been renewed through Season 10, has completed six seasons, with four more to go as part of the pickup.
Roiland is also co-creator/executive producer and voice cast member of Hulu’s animated series Solar Opposites as well as a performer on the streamer’s animated comedy Koala Man. News on his involvement in those shows would be coming shortly, I hear.
Roiland has been charged with one felony count of domestic battery with corporal injury and one felony count of false imprisonment by menace, violence, fraud and/or deceit by the Orange County District Attorney’s office. The incident in question against a Jane Doe allegedly occurred in January 2020, according to a May 2020 complaint. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in October 2020. The semi-sealed case was kept out of the public until a hearing January 12, 2023. Roiland, who was present, also is required to attend a scheduled April 27 hearing….
(15) COLLABORATIVE MEAL. Kelsea Yu, a Taiwanese Chinese American writer, posts abut food in “Huǒguō” at Sarah Gailey’s Stone Soup.
…It’s loud and chaotic. Everyone talks over one another. Spoons cross, sauces are passed around, broth occasionally splashes out, and at any given time, some people are eating while others are serving food or adding ingredients to the pot.
It’s the kind of meal that requires participation, collaboration, consideration. The kind you can’t have alone, because then it would just be soup. It’s like stone soup, except no one’s reluctant to share.
It’s the kind of meal that helped me learn the value of how we care for each other….
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. SYFY released a sneak peek of the first five minutes of its forthcoming series The Ark.
The Ark takes place 100 years into the future when humans must go on missions to colonize other planets. But what would you do if you woke up from cryogenic sleep to your spaceship suffering disaster? Watch the first five minutes of the premiere episode of The Ark. Watch the premiere of The Ark, February 1 at 10/9c on SYFY.
Kenan Thompson talks about former Saturday Night Live intern Aubrey Plaza returning to host the show before leaving the set and coming back as his alter ego, science fiction writer Pernice Lafonk.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John A Arkansawyer, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]
My partner Juli and I set out on a beautiful morning for Chicago. One of our favorite sights is the immense Meadow Lake Wind Farm (which generates 801.25 megawatts of electricity) consisting of 301 turbines, just northwest of Lafayette, Indiana. I have always been in awe of the size and scope of this modern marvel of engineering.
We arrived at dusk and were treated to the enchanting vista of Chicago at night by the river…
Since I was going to be dwelling in the hometown of the Blues Brothers, I thought it would be appropriate to be attired properly.
One of the first people Juli and I met at Chicon 8 was Galaxy’s Edge Editor and Arc Manor Assistant Publisher Robyn Lezli, who was a large display of books and magazines with her benevolent (and generous) boss, Shahid Mahmud.
On my way to the Press Office, Christopher Garcia threw a copy of Journey Planet (paperboy style) as we passed each other. Here is a photo of it in mid-flight…
One of the first things I unpacked for the Press Office was this item. When the staff assembled that first morning, I told them in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that if they stepped out of line, I would not hesitate to blow the Illuminated Death Star Beach Ball up! Needless to say, it remained deflated during the duration of the convention.
After several delays (and escapades) involving the United States Department of State and airline hijinks, Nigeria’s rising literary star (and double Hugo Finalist), Oghenechowe Donald Ekpeki finally arrived at Chicon 8. I greeted him at the Galaxy’s Edge table in the Dealer’s Room with two facemasks and an envelope with some valuable personal papers. Needless to say, everyone was overjoyed to see him…
Also on hand were my daughter, Laura, her husband Charlie (not pictured, unfortunately) and my granddaughter, Navia. They were here to witness my (possible) Hugo Award acceptance speech on Sunday. I may have felt the sting of disappointment by not winning but I was so incredibly happy they were all there.
Chicago By Day…
So here are my Press Office mates, Dan Berger, Juli Marr and Sooshe Blat Harkins, pondering where we should go for dinner along the Chicago Riverwalk. Rest assured, we did eat that evening…
Chicago After Dark…
Day Three of Chicon 3, another beautiful morning.
On my way to the Press office, I made some time Saturday morning to stop by the Exhibit Hall and check out this year’s Hugo Award trophy. This magnificent award was handcrafted by the renowned Chicago artist and business entrepreneur Brian Keith Ellison of BKE Designs.
Ah, FINALLY, a photo from a Chicon 8 panel. Here are the panelists of “Movie Year in Review: A Curated Look at Genre Films (2021–2022)” moderated by yours truly. From left to right are: Matthew S. Rotundo, Daryll Mansel, Joshua Bilmes and Deirdre Crimmins. We had fun. You should have been there.
I was checking up on how Mr. Ekpeki was getting along in the Dealer’s Room when up ZOOMED fellow Hugo Award Finalist Seanan Maguire on her scooter. They both knew of a photo opportunity when they saw it…
It’s Saturday Night so you know it’s time for another magnificent appearance by fandom’s favorite, and most regal, Masquerade Judge, John Hertz!
And here is a wide shot of all the Chicon 8 Masquerade contestants. I apologize for it being out of focus; I BLAME the three apparitions lighting up in the middle of the photo. I don’t recall who they are but let’s face it, they lit up the joint that evening.
It’s THE BIG DAY! And that calls for a BIG BREAKFAST, courtesy of the Chicon 8 Staff Lounge. I hadn’t had a bowl of Rice Chex in AGES. (As a kid, I used to inhale whole boxes in a single sitting. Ah, those were the days…). Anyway, kudos to everyone who helped kept us fed during the convention.
Juli and I are very sneaky. We knew in advance that Sunday was Lezli Robyn’s birthday so we planned something a little special for her. The day before we left, we packed and wrapped her gift specially for her. We have both known for years that Lezli is a bit, uh, accident prone. After the fifth or sixth incident we started threatening to just roll her in bubble wrap, for her own safety and protection. Well at Chicon 8, we decided on this preemptive strike before disaster struck again. As you can see, a nice birthday card was placed on top of the package. And you can see Lezli’s reaction as she realized that bubble wrap was all that was left in the box. All for her. We were later informed by sources that she used the bubble wrap as a pillow (in an appropriate place, mind you) when she needed to nap. You’re welcome, Lezli, anytime.
After delivering Ms. Robyn’s gift, I stole a few minutes from my Press Office duties to have a novel by Catherynne M. Valente signed. We met before when she had a signing at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati where I worked for many years. She remembered me and enthusiastically remarked that she had a great time and would love to return for a visit someday. I told her I would pass the word along.
As the day wore on, the more nervous I became. Since there wasn’t much going on that afternoon, I turned my attention to writing a Hugo Award acceptance speech and a concession speech (which was published on File 770 that very evening). Everyone wished me luck but deep down, I knew that I was long shot to actually win. (And, as it turned out, I was right, finishing second in the nomination count and fifth overall in the vote standings.)
At the Chicon 8 Hugo Award Reception, Mr. Ekpeki and I were recessed to the nines!
Your 2022 Hugo Award Finalists in the Fan Writing Category; from left to right, Jason Sanford, myself, Paul Weimer and Bitter Karella.
The Crowd gathers for the start of the Hugo Awards Ceremony.
My Date, My Love and My Partner, the lovely and vivacious Juli Marr.
My Fellow 2022 Hugo Award Finalist Steven H Silver and his partner, Elaine Silver.
My Fellow 2022 Hugo Award Finalist Chuck Serface.
Our 2022 Hugo Award Ceremony Hosts, Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders.
Two Hugo Losers commiserating, Olav Rokne and myself (being subtly photobombed by Vincent Docherty) at the Chengdu Hugo Reception.
My daughter Laura and I at the Glasgow Bid Party.
My daughter Laura is seen here holding the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form for Dune (Part 1). The award was offered for photos by Chicon 8 Advisor Dave McCarty, whom we thank profusely for the opportunity.
SEPTEMBER 5TH AND 6TH
And it’s all over but the shouting. Here John Hertz and I are watching the proceedings, counting down until the dead dog parties start…
After Closing Ceremonies, Juli and I met author Col.Jonathan P. Brazee and Hugo Award Finalist (Best Professional Artist) Maurizio Manzieri outside the hotel on their way to an early dinner.
As we wind down a day after Chicon 8 has officially ended, we shared a final meal with Dan Berger, Terry Berger and Sooshe Blat Harkins, who were a tremendous help in the Chicon 8 Press Office.
A final portrait from Chicago of your humble correspondents, myself and Juli Marr. Until next time, Goodbye and Good Luck…
(1) DESTINATION FOR THE STARS? The New York Times’ Blake Gopnik reports that last week Christie’s auction house broke records by selling more than $1.5 billion in art from the estate of Paul G. Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft who died in 2018. Although a lot of high art went under the hammer, his pop culture holdings, including sf art, did not and may have a different fate.
… It all made me think of Allen as the kind of person who might have enjoyed buying, and owning, a $15 million Stradivarius violin and a $12 million Mickey Mantle baseball card and a $10 million stamp from British Guiana.
But there was one work in the sale — a real outlier — that meshed with stronger, more focused feelings that I seemed to glimpse when I met with Allen. Hanging among pieces by the certified geniuses of Western “high” art at Christie’s sat a dreamy, sunset scene of teen-girls-in-nature, painted in 1926 by the American Maxfield Parrish, best known for his truly great work in commercial illustration. It called to mind the tremendous excitement that Allen showed, a decade ago, when he had me look at a series of paintings that had been used, sometime in the 1950s or ’60s, I’d guess, for reproduction on the cover of science-fiction novels or magazines: I remember seeing weird Martian landscapes, galactic skies and maybe a rocket ship or two.
I can’t confirm those memories, right off the bat, because none of those pictures ended up at Christie’s. (Even though you could say that Allen’s Botticelli has some extraterrestrial strangeness to it, if only because of its distance from today’s culture, and that his paintings by Salvador Dalí and Jacob Hendrik Pierneef might work with stories by Philip K. Dick.) But I do remember that in our interview Allen’s enthusiasm for those objects from so-called “popular” culture seemed much more intense, and heartfelt, than the feelings he expressed for masterpieces that had cost him thousands of times more.
And that may be born out in the future that seems in store for those sci-fi objects, different from the fate of the ones sold into private hands at Christie’s. Last month, a spokesperson for Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture, founded by Allen in 2000 — his sister Jody Allen is its current chair — told The Times that more than 4,000 objects of un-fine art and culture from the Allen estate, valued at some $20 million, were due to end up among its holdings, and I can only hope that the sci-fi paintings will be among them. (A representative from Vulcan, the Allen company in charge of his estate, later weighed in to say that the bequest to MoPOP was not final and that Vulcan could not confirm the exact number or type of objects in it. As when their boss was alive, his Vulcans play their cards close to their chests.)…
Archive of Our Own is probably best known as the place to read fans’ carefully crafted Harry Potter prequels or Lord of the Rings stories millions of words long. But the fanfiction website also has a lesser known, though no less important mission: to save older fanfic that’s at risk of disappearing. A new initiative, the Fanzine Scan Hosting Project, aims to make fan stories and art from physical fanzines accessible through the Archive, preserving pieces of history previously confined to university libraries, scattered eBay sales, and forgotten corners of attics….
Over the last year or so, however, Open Doors’ Fan Culture Preservation Project has expanded, finally giving them room to launch the Fanzine Scan Hosting Project. So far, they’re making their way through the backlog of scans that Zinedom has already accumulated, which Dawn estimates is “a couple thousand.”
These came from various sources, with Dawn doing a lot of outreach herself simply by searching Facebook for names she came across in zines and making phone calls. Janet Quarton, a Scottish Star Trek zine publisher and preservationist, scanned about 500 zines herself in 2013. But even Zinedom’s digital collection is only a fragment of what’s out there. One Zinedom participant has a collection of around 8,000 physical zines from the Star Trek fandom alone, and digs out the appropriate copies if Dawn is contacted by someone looking to save something in particular.
Open Doors is now preparing to post on the Archive those zines from Zinedom’s backlog which they already have permission to share. Some of these overlap with online zine archives that they’ve been previously importing, like the Kirk/Spock archive. But new requests and permissions have also been coming in since the announcement, and it will be an ongoing process, with volunteers working hard to convert and edit each individual zine.
(3) THE RIGHT WORD? Nisi Shawl was still in search of an answer that hits the spot when I looked at Facebook this afternoon:
What’s the word for the kind of apology you get that blames you for what went wrong?
What role, if any, did reading and writing play during your military service?
I still have stacks of my journals from the whole nine-year period sitting on my bookshelf, unread to this day. I had written poetry and journaled most of my teenage years up to that point, but when I got out of the service I stopped journaling and writing almost completely for reasons I haven’t quite grasped. That was over 15 years ago. Reading, on the other hand is something I have never stopped doing. These combat deployments were well before I had anything like an e-reader, so it was physical books all the way. I must have lugged around a ridiculous amount of books with me. The big ones that hit me the hardest while deployed are still some of my favorites: Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo, Epictetus’ The Enchiridion, my first readings of Ender’s Game and that series. I got my first copy of House of Leaves while deployed to Iraq and that copy is scrawled with my own footnotes and reflections, and is falling apart at the seams. And then of course, King finished out The Dark Tower while I was deployed so I had those tomes sent to me and to tote around as well. So, yeah, I filled my spare hours with both reading and writing, quite a bit of both.
(5) BOOKSTORE REBOUNDS FROM ARSON ATTACK. “L.A. book emporium the Iliad recovering from mysterious fire” reports the Los Angeles Times. The bookstore’s GoFundMe has been an enormous success. The owner asked for $5,000 to cover his insurance deductible. “The response has topped $34,000, sparing him the need to file a claim at all.”
…The cause of the blaze remains unknown. Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott said it has been ruled undetermined.
[Iliad owner] Weinstein said he believes an arsonist started the fire. It appeared that books the store leaves outside for the community to browse were stacked in a pyramidal shape next to the entry door and lit, he said.
An inscrutable motive was suggested by 15 to 20 copies of a flyer Weinstein said he found taped to the sides of the building. It was a collage of conspiratorial references — the Irish and South African flags, a photo of the burned-out cabin where policeman-turned-killer Christopher Dorner died, an address of a nearby home, and a handwritten letter attributed to Alex Cox, a deceased figure in a complex family homicide case depicted in a Netflix documentary….
… The cuts, earlier reported by the New York Times, would represent about 3% of Amazon’s corporate staff. The exact number may vary as businesses within Amazon review their priorities, the source told Reuters.
The online retailer plans to eliminate jobs in its devices organization, which makes voice-controlled “Alexa” gadgets and home-security cameras, as well as in its human-resources and retail divisions, the person said. Amazon’s time frame for informing staff remained unclear….
(7) THE ART OF FANHISTORY. Garth Spencer’s name was chosen from the hat to be Corflu Pangloss’ Guest of Honour. He has published the speech he gave “revealing the hideous basic truths of fandom” in Obdurate Eye #21.
…There was a time when I thought every other country seems to have a published fanhistory; why shouldn’t a Canadian fanhistory be published? Maybe I could compile it, from any information I could gather. Then I got strange responses like “Who are you? Why are you asking me questions? Who sent you? I’m not responsible!” So, I learned that There Are Things Fans Must Not Put on Record. More to the point, my search to find out what people can be expected to do, when to expect it, and how to defend yourself, is not the first thing people think of when they think of fanhistory….
In 1891, Christopher Furness, owner of the Furness Line of steamships, and Henry Withy, head of the shipbuilding firm Edward Withy & Co., merged their businesses to form Furness, Withy & Co., Ltd. Starting out with 18 vessels, by the outbreak of World War I, it sailed more than 200–and it was ready for a new New York City branch office building….
Andrew Porter reminds readers that he published Chandler’s autobiographical “Around the World in 23,741 Days” in Algol 31. You can read it here.
…One very early—but remarkably vivid—memory I have is of a Zeppelin raid on London during World War I. can still see the probing searchlights, like the questing antennae of giant insects and, sailing serenely overhead, high in the night sky, that slim, silvery cigar. I can’t remember any bombs; I suppose that none fell anywhere near where I was. It is worth remarking that in those distant days, with aerial warfare in its infancy, civilians had not yet learned to run for cover on the approach of raiders but stood in the streets, with their children, to watch the show….
(9) READ COMPLETE MOORE REMARKS ON KEVIN O’NEILL. [Item by Danny Sichel.] At the request of the New York Times, Alan Moore wrote an obit for Kevin O’Neill which was too long to publish. Jeet Heer posted it to Twitter.(O’Neill did the art for Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.)
…In addition to writing for Philanthropy Daily, Martin was a senior fellow at the Capital Research Center, and contributed significantly to research on philanthropy and especially the issue of donor intent. Martin’s contributions to questions around philanthropy, charity, and donor intent can scarcely be overstated. How Great Philanthropists Failed remains the leading book on donor intent and the history of failed philanthropic legacies.
Martin’s work has appeared everywhere from the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Reason, and numerous other publications.
Martin will be sorely missed by all of us at Philanthropy Daily and countless others who have benefited from his important work.
(11) MEMORY LANE.
1985 — [By Cat Eldridge.]Shadow Chasers
Before we get started on talking about today’s essay, may I note that this was the day fifty-eight years ago that Santa Claus Conquers The Martians premiered was well? It was considered one of the worst genre films ever released, bar none.
Thirty-seven years ago this evening a series premiered on ABC, receiving almost no notice: Shadow Chasers. Let’s talk about the show before we turn to a brief autopsy on its numbers.
LOOK— I SEE BIGFOOT COMING WITH SPOILERS!
British anthropologist Jonathan MacKensie (Trevor Eve who played Peter Boyd in the excellent Waking the Dead forensic series) works for the fictional Georgetown Institute Paranormal Research Unit (PRU). MacKenzie’s department head, Dr. Julianna Moorhouse (Nina Foch), withholds a research grant to force him into investigating what she says is a haunting involving a teenage boy. He is paired with flamboyant tabloid reporter Edgar “Benny” Benedek.
Benny and Jonathan do not get along, but manage to solve the case without killing each other. The episodes continued in this vein, with Jonathan and Benny grudgingly learning to respect and admire each other, in the fashion of American cop shows.
LOOK IT WASN’T REALLY BIGFOOT, WAS IT?
Now for the rating autopsy I promised.
So understand that it was on ABC as I said for just ten episodes of its sad existence with the last four shows being broadcast solely on the Armed Forces network. Just how bad was its existence? It was the lowest-rated of a one hundred and six programs during the 1985-1986 TV season.
Why so, you ask? Well that’s easy. It was broadcast against NBC’s The Cosby Show and Family Ties and CBS’s Magnum P.I. and, later on, Simon & Simon on CBS. It didn’t stand a chance.
Indeed, local ABC affiliates within a few weeks in started preempting the series for other programming.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 14, 1907 — Astrid Lindgren. Creator of the Pippi Longstocking series and, at least in the States, lesser known Emil i Lönneberga, Karlsson-on-the-Roof, and the Six Bullerby Children series as well. In January 2017, she was calculated to be the world’s eighteenth most translated author, and the fourth most translated children’s writer after Enid Blyton, H. C. Andersen and the Brothers Grimm. There have been at least forty video adaptations of her works over the decades mostly in Swedish but Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter was an animated series in Japan recently. (Died 2002.)
Born November 14, 1932 — Alex Ebel. He did the poster for the first Friday the 13th film, and his cover illustration for The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin published by Ace Books in 1975 is considered one of the best such illustrations done. I’m also very impressed with The Dispossessed cover he did as well as his Planet of Exile cover too. His work for magazines includes Heavy Metal, Space Science Fiction and Fantastic Story Magazine. (Died 2013.)
Born November 14, 1950 — Elliot S. Maggin, 72. A writer for DC Comics during the Bronze and early Modern ages of comics where he helped shaped the Superman character. Most of his work was on Action Comics and Superman titles though he did extensive work elsewhere including, of course, on the Batman titles.
Born November 14, 1951 — Beth Meacham, 71. In 1984, she became an editor for Tor Books, where she rose to the position of editor-in-chief. After her 1989 move to the west coast, she continued working for Tor as an executive editor which she just retired from. She does have one novel, co-written with Tappan King, entitled Nightshade Book One: Terror, Inc. and a handful of short fiction. A Reader’s Guide to Fantasy that she co-wrote wrote Michael Franklin and Baird Searles was nominated for a Hugo at L.A. Con II. She has been nominated for six Hugos as Best Professional Editor or Best Editor Long Form.
Born November 14, 1959 — Paul McGann, 63. Yes, he only did one film as the eighth incarnation of the Doctor in the 1996 Doctor Who: The Television Movie, but he has reprised that role in numerous audio dramas, and the 2013 short film entitled The Night of the Doctor. He also appeared in “The Five(ish) Doctors” reboot. Other genre appearances include The Pit and the Pendulum: A Study in Torture, Alien 3, the excellent FairyTale: A True Story, Queen of the Damned and Lesbian Vampire Killers.
Born November 14, 1963 — Cat Rambo, 59 . All around great person. Past President of SFWA. She was editor of Fantasy Magazine for four years which earned her a 2012 nomination in the World Fantasy Special Award: Non-Professional category. Her novelette Carpe Glitter won a 2020 Nebula, and her short story “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain” was a 2013 Nebula Award finalist. Her impressive fantasy Tabat Quartet quartet begins withBeasts of Tabat, Hearts of Tabat, and Exiles of Tabat, and will soon be completed by Gods of Tabat. She also writes amazing short fiction as well. The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers is her long-standing school for writers that provides her excellent assistance in learning proper writing skills through live and on demand classes about a range of topics. You can get details here. Her latest, You Sexy Thing, was a stellar listen indeed and I’m very much looking forward to the sequel.
Born November 14, 1969 — Daniel Abraham, 53. Co-author with Ty Franck of The Expanse series which won a Hugo at CoNZealand. Under the pseudonym M. L. N. Hanover, he is the author of the Black Sun’s Daughter urban fantasy series. Abraham collaborated with George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois to write the Hunter’s Run. Abraham also has adapted several of Martin’s works into comic books and graphic novels, such as A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel, and has contributed to Wild Cards anthologies. By himself, he picked up a Hugo nomination at Denvention 3 for his “The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairy Tale of Economics” novelette.
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Speed Bump knows of one effect that’s not special at all!
(14) HAPPY NEW YEAR. Lois McMaster Bujold pointed out to her Goodreads followers that the next Penric book Knot of Shadows garnered a starred review in Publishers Weekly. The Subterranean Press hardcover is due to be released on January 1. [Update: Bujold’s author page shows the Kindle edition of Knot of Shadows came out last year in October, so this will be a new hardcover edition, but not a new release per se.]
Temple sorcerer Penric and demon Desdemona return in this page-turner fantasy mystery from Bujold, the 11th in the series (after The Assassins of Thasalon) and possibly the best yet. Penric and Desdemona, the chaos elemental who shares his body, are joined by Alixtra and her own demon, Arra, to help the healers of the Mother’s Order in Vilnoc with an unusual case: a corpse has revived and is now shouting gibberish. Penric discovers that the victim is not one but two dead people—a man slain by death magic and a ghost that has begun animating his body. Death magic is so rare that even Desdemona has never witnessed it performed. A supplicant offers their own life to ensure that the Bastard, Penric’s god, will kill their target. This ritual opens multiple quandaries: Who is the corpse? Were they the supplicant or the target? And where is the other party to the death prayer? Penric remarks that “this case is bound to get ugly and sad”—and indeed it does, in the most creative of ways. Bujold has her protagonists combine mundane and mystical investigative methods to unravel the questions at hand, creating a truly enticing mystery. Series fans and new readers alike will want to savor this intricate , unusual case.
… The challenge, Göransson says, was to find a new sound for the African kingdom of Wakanda and its grief-stricken people while also trying to imagine the sound of Prince Namor’s undersea kingdom of Talokan, whose origins lay in Mexico’s ancient Mayan civilization.
Göransson consulted musical archaeologists and spent two weeks in Mexico City collaborating with Mexican musicians. He auditioned “hundreds of ancient instruments,” from clay flutes to unusual percussion instruments, and saw paintings of Mayans playing on turtle shells, among dozens of similar musically inspirational moments. He discovered the “flute of truth,” a high-pitched whistle-like woodwind instrument, and vowed to incorporate the “death whistle,” which has a piecing sound like a human scream.
By day, Göransson recorded with Mexican musicians, and by night, he was recording with Mexican singers and rappers. “I was using the morning sessions to put together beats and songs that we would use later that day with the artists,” the composer reports….
(16) ON THE GRIPPING HAND. Leaflock™ The Ent™ from WETA Workshop is only fifteen hundred dollars… The image of this veteran of the attack on Isengard “Contains two (and a half) Orcs, squashed, pinned and/or crushed by the Ent’s wrath.”
…But for every icon of the macabre, there are a much larger number of deranged dentists, serial-killing Santa Clauses, and sorority house murderers who don’t quite rank as highly in the frightening food chain. In fact, it’s been a while since a character came along and asserted his or herself as the next count of the Carpathians or chainsaw-wielding maniac. Whoever steps up next has some big shoes to fill, because these are the crème de la crème when it comes to history-making evildoers….
Dracula is the most influential horror villain of all time. The Count stalks like a slasher, murders in droves like a serial killer, and is the inspiration for every single vampire movie made after 1931. Dracula’s vast powers, and his immortality, make him the most formidable of any killer on this list, and while Bela Lugosi is most often associated with the character, it was Sir Christopher Lee who made the Count the vile, sadistic creature of the night.
Lee gave the character a grandiose feel thanks to his imposing height, and there was a sexuality the villain exuded which made him irresistible to women. Unlike his colleague and friend, Peter Cushing, Lee loathed reprising the role because Hammer wasn’t faithful to Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel. “I wanted to play Stoker’s character,” Lee explained. “It wasn’t remotely like the book.”
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Danny Sichel, David Doering, Andrew (not Werdna), 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).]