Pixel Scroll 6/26/24 Listen To Them, Scrolls Of The Night, What Pixels They Make

(1) CONGRATULATIONS, MR. MAYOR! We are happy to report that Hungarian Filer Bence Pintér won the mayoral election in his homewtown Győr. Győr is the main city of northwest Hungary, halfway between Budapest and Vienna, home to 130 000 people. It was a tight race against opponents who were, respectively, the incumbent and the former incumbent, a member and an ex-member of the ruling Fidesz party.

(2) SFF IN HUNGARY. And Sci Phi Journal brings us all up to speed on contemporary Hungarian SFF with Éva Vancsó’s article “The Kaleidoscope Of Hungarian Fantastic Literature In The 21st Century”.

Hungarian science fiction dates to the middle-19th century with tales of moon travels and fictional worlds of advanced technology that reflected the spirit of the age more than any other genre. In the years to come, though themes and forms had changed, Hungarian literature mirrored society’s problems, hopes, fears, and dreams. It expressed the terrors of totalitarian regimes and world wars, and later, during the communist culture policy, it either served as a „honey trap” of natural sciences or became the literature of opposition before the change of regime in 1989. For years, only selected Anglo-Saxon/Western SFF works could seep through the crack in the cultural door, but it was swung wide open by the end of the Cold War. The previously encapsulated Hungarian fantastic literature absorbed the influences from outside and started to grow in terms of authors, titles, themes and styles. In this article, I intend not to review Hungarian science fiction and fantasy since the turn of the millennium comprehensively but rather as a kaleidoscope to present the tendencies and genre-defining authors and works in the last twenty-five years….

(3) TWO-YEAR-OLD SUIT MAKING NEWS. [Item by Anne Marble.] The lawsuit involving Entangled Publishing reminds me of the case involving the agent who was dropped — except even more so. It is being discussed on Threads and elsewhere.

An author named Lynne Freeman is suing one of Entangled Publishing’s star authors — Tracy Wolff (the author of the Crave series, a popular YA vampire series). Also being sued are Prospect Agency, LLC as well as Entangled Publishing itself. Other defendants are MacMillan Publishers, LLC and University City Studios, LLC. The court documents were filed in 2022, but most people are only just starting to learn about the case: “Lynne Freeman v. Tracy Wolff – Crave copyright complaint”.

Lynne Freeman is alleging that she sent her novel to Emily Sylvan Kim of Prospect Agency (referred to as “Kim” throughout the document). Kim made Freeman do multiple revisions and create new material — and then (allegedly, of course), Kim sent this material to her client and friend, Tracy Wolff. And Wolff (allegedly, of course) used these materials to create her series, which consists of four books: Crave, Crush, Covet, and Court. Freeman claims “substantial similarities.” Usually, when I see lawsuits that claim “similarities” between two works in the same subgenre, the similarities are usually vague — or they’re thing that are common throughout that subgenre. But in this case … wow. They run from page 13 to page 74 — and some of them include multicolored highlighting. Interestingly, according to this document, the CEO and publisher of Entangled (Liz Pellitier) claimed that she created the storyline of the Crave series and then passed this concept on to Tracy Wolff.

The discussion on Threads is especially passionate.

@ellen_mint_author says:

And @dr.elle_woods’ comment drew heated agreements.  

Entangled Publishing owns Red Tower Books — the imprint that published Fourth Wing and Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros — among other romantasy books. Entangled (which started out as an indie) is now an imprint of Macmillan Publishers.

(4) OFTEN CHOPPED. Animation World Network interviews a brave writer: “’Inside Out 2’: It’s What Gets Cut That Counts”.

For Inside Out 2 story artist Rebecca McVeigh, her earliest memory of wanting to be a storyteller was a camping trip with her family when she was just five years old.

“I was writing and illustrating, as much as a kid that age can, my own books,” she shares. “On that trip, I remember just sitting with a pencil and crayons and writing a story about a princess who gets turned into a horse. So perhaps I was a writer before I was an artist. But writing and drawing were always intertwined because every time I wrote anything as a child, I also drew it in pictures.”

McVeigh, who is also known for her work on Netflix’s Annie Award-winning film Nimona, says being a story artist on a film as emotionally driven as Pixar’s latest hit film, which follows the complicated and often destructive dynamic of the emotions inside a teenage girl’s head, is not for those without tough skin. In addition to the sheer drafting mileage, creating an incalculable number of story sequences, McVeigh says one of the biggest challenges of the process is accepting the fact that 99 percent of it ends up on the cutting room floor.

“Over the course of the whole film, I couldn’t even begin to guess how many sequences I have done in total,” says McVeigh. “I’ll work on a sequence for two weeks or however long they’ll give me to do something. And then I’ll deliver it to editorial and they do what they need to do. I may not see it again for six months, or ever again if it gets cut. I’ve had scenes where I will do a version of it and then it’s a year before I see it again. Either way, you need to have the humility to let your work go.”…

(5) MEMORY LANE.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

June 26, 1962 King Kong Vs. Godzilla. Sixty-two years ago in Japan two great monsters united when King Kong Vs. Godzilla premiered. Really would I kid you? (Well I would and you well know it, but that’s for a different discussion, isn’t it?)

Not at all surprisingly, this Japanese kaiju film was directed by Ishirō Honda, with the special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. Nine years previously, Honda directed and co-wrote Godzilla of which Tsuburaya is considered the co-creator. 

The script was Shinichi Sekizawa, mostly known, again not surprisingly, for his work on the Godzilla films but he did some other genre work such as Gulliver’s Travels Beyond the Moon and Jack and the Witch.  

It started out as a story outline written by King Kong stop-motion animator Willis O’Brien in the early Sixties in which Kong battles a giant Frankenstein Monster. The idea was given to the Tojo film company without his permission and they decided Godzilla would be a bigger draw. They were right. 

An individual by the name of Merian C. Cooper filed a lawsuit against the film showing here claiming he had exclusive right to the King Kong character in the United States, a claim that the film distributor quickly refuted as it turned out many individuals did.

It had already been the single most popular Godzilla film in Japan before it showed here and remains so to date. It made nearly three million here, not bad considering its tiny budget of four hundred thousand— two men in suits don’t cost much, do they? — so the film made twenty times that in its first run. Monsters rock! 

The Hollywood Reporter liked it: “A funny monster picture? That’s what Universal has in “King Kong Versus Godzilla.” 

Though the New York Times in an anonymous review grumbled quite loudly stating as only the Old Grey Lady can that“The one real surprise of this cheap reprise of earlier Hollywood and Japanese horror films is the ineptitude of its fakery. When the pair of prehistoric monsters finally get together for their battle royal, the effect is nothing more than a couple of dressed-up stuntmen throwing cardboard rocks at each other.” 

Finally John Cutts of Films and Filming says “Richly comic, briskly paced, oddly touching, and thoroughly irresistible. Outrageous of course, and deplorably acted and atrociously dubbed to boot. “

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give a so-so rating of fifty six percent. There is no Japanese version of Rotten Tomatoes to my knowledge which would be fascinating to read in translation of course. 

(6) COMICS SECTION.

(7) MARVEL UNLIMITED LAUNCHES ‘AVENGERS ACADEMY: MARVEL’S VOICES’. Last month, Marvel’s Voices reached its 100th Infinity Comic issue and marked the milestone with a brand-new hero: Justin Jin, a.k.a. Kid Juggernaut. Now Kid Juggernaut is joining a new team and a new adventure in Avengers Academy: Marvel’s Voices, a new ongoing weekly Infinity Comic series written by Anthony Oliveira and drawn by Carola Borelli, Bailie Rosenlund, and guest artists. The first issue is available now, exclusively on Marvel Unlimited.

Avengers Academy: Marvel’s Voices will bring together some of the world’s brightest teen heroes to learn from and train with the best of the best. The Academy’s first recruits include:

  • Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur, the dynamic duo of Inhuman super genius Lunella Lafayette and her psychically bonded Jurassic giant
  • Red Goblin, the grandson of Norman Osborn, Normie Osborn, bonded with the unpredictable newborn symbiote Rascal
  • Bloodline, Daughter of Blade, the Daywalker Brielle Brooks who inherited vampiric super powers, currently in the middle of Marvel’s blockbuster summer comic book event, Blood Hunt
  • Captain America of the Railways, Aaron Fischer, a protector of fellow runaways who first appeared in United States of Captain America and recently headlined his own Infinity Comic series
  • Escapade, Shela Sexton, the breakout mutant hero who first debuted in Marvel’s Voices: Pride and went on to battle alongside the New Mutants
  • Kid Juggernaut,Justin Jin,the avatar of the demon Cyttorak who also recently headlined his own Infinity Comic seriesKid Juggernaut: Marvel’s Voices, which just wrapped up last week!

 Don’t miss what lies in store for the newest students of Avengers Academy every Wednesday on Marvel Unlimited.  

(8) CITRUS CONTROVERSY. [Item by Steven French.] Is the Earth shaped more like an orange or a lemon? “Royal Society exhibition revives 18th-century debate about shape of the Earth”

…It was a row that split scientists, launched globe-trotting expeditions and for one man, ended in murder: was the Earth shaped like an orange or a lemon?

The 18th-century debate – and the endeavours that settled it –can now be relived by visitors to this year’s Royal Society summer science exhibition, in a display called “Figuring the Earth”.

Opening to the public on Tuesday, and remaining on show in London until October, the exhibition – which is presented in English and French – celebrates the importance of international competition and collaboration.

The citrus fruit conundrum, it seems, is a case in point….

(9) FROM THE MOON TO MONGOLIA. “First ever rocks from the Moon’s far side have landed on Earth” reports Nature.

The first rocks from the far side of the Moon have just landed safely on Earth and scientists can’t wait to study them.

China’s Chang’e-6 re-entry capsule, containing up to two kilograms of materials scooped and drilled from the Moon’s most ancient basin, touched down in the grasslands of Siziwang Banner in the Chinese northern autonomous region Inner Mongolia at 2.07 p.m. Beijing time on Tuesday, according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

“The samples are going to be different from all previous rocks collected by the US, Soviet Union and China,” which came from the Moon’s near side, says Yang Wei, a geochemist at the Institute of Geology and Geophysics in Beijing. “We have very high expectations for them,” Yang says….

(10) VALSPAR TIME TRAVEL COMMERCIAL. [Item by Andrew Porter.] What could go wrong in this commercial for interior house paint? See the video at the link: “Valspar TV Spot, ‘Time Machine’”.

(11) BLAST FROM THE FUTURE. Keep watching the skies — “Once-in-a-lifetime nova will appear in Earth’s sky. Here’s how to spot it.” at Yahoo!

A rare nova explosion will soon be visible in the Earth’s nighttime sky, according to officials at NASA.

The event, which could occur anytime between now and September, is creating a buzz within the astronomy community, as both professional and amateur astronomers alike will be able to see the explosion….

…Located 3,000 light years from Earth, T Coronae Borealis (T CrB), nicknamed the Blaze Star, is a binary star system in the Coronae Borealis (or “northern crown”) constellation.

In this binary system, a white dwarf (a dead star) and an ancient red giant (a slowly dying star) are gravitationally bound to each other. Every 80 years or so, the hydrogen from the red giant fuses with the surface of the white dwarf, causing a buildup of pressure and heat, resulting in a thermonuclear explosion — causing the system to go nova.

The last time a T CrB nova was seen from Earth was in 1946.

(12) VIDEOS OF THE DAY. [Item by Dann.] I came across Studio C on YouTube.  It is a creative effort coming out of BYU.  There were quite a few genre-related pieces that I thought might pique Filers’ interest.

  • Meeting King Triton – Ariel’s dad
  • Indiana Jones swapping out the golden idol

And lastly, something that might be of interest given the discussion about fandom and The Acolyte

  • Star Wars Fans When the Acolyte Comes Out 

[Thanks to Steven French, Teddy Harvia, Kathy Sullivan, Lise Andreasen, Dann, Bence Pintér, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Thomas the Red.]

Pixel Scroll 6/4/24 Cats And Pixels Like Snuggling Together

(1) RACHAEL K. JONES Q&A. Oregon Public Broadcasting interviewed awards nominee Rachael K. Jones: “Beaverton author is announced as finalist for literary awards”.

Marshall: This short story, “The Sound of Children Screaming,” drew inspiration from real life events, including one that involved you. Can you talk more about that?

Jones: It was one of the more scary experiences in my career in education. I’m a speech language pathologist, which is someone who works in special education with children who have communication disorders.

There was a lockdown at my school that happened during prep planning, which is the week before the school opens for children. All the teachers are in the building. We’re getting our classrooms ready and we’re getting the space ready for children. One evening I stayed late to finish building some Ikea furniture. While I was getting ready to leave the building you could hear weird sounds outside the school, little popping sounds.

The secretary called a lockdown of the whole school. It turned out that there was a shooting happening in the neighborhood. I went back and had to hide under my desk in my office with all the blinds drawn on a Friday night. I’m really grateful there weren’t any children in the building, but the most disturbing thing was that, because there were no children in the building, I knew it couldn’t be a drill. I was really scared.

It was one of those moments where we all tell ourselves stories in our own heads about what we would do in an emergency situation. With school shootings, you have a fantasy about how you’re gonna block the door, throw that stapler over there or tackle the guy and how you’re going to be this hero in your imagination. It was this really chilling moment to realize that this could be it. And what am I doing? I’m hiding under my desk and I’m not any more heroic than I usually am. I could die tonight on a Friday night at my job and that would be that, and there would be nothing I could do about it.

A lot of times I use my stories as a way to process strong feelings, I can’t really get out in any other way. For me, the story represents that kind of story where it says the things that are hard for me to say in any other way than fiction….

(2) TAKE THE AUTOBAHN TO THE CON. Cora Buhlert went to a German Masters of the Universe convention in May and posted a three-part con report with many photos. To get there required a three hour road trip:

…Last Saturday, I attended the 2024 Los Amigos Masters of the Universe fan convention. There are two big Masters of the Universe conventions in Germany, Grayskull Con and Los Amigos, plus at least two general toy cons which attract a lot of Masters of Universe fans and collectors.

Last year, I considered going to one or more of those cons. However, there was one problem or rather two, a)  I live in North Germany and most German cons, whether general SFF or specialty cons, are much further south and quite far away, and b) I had sick parents at home and/or in hospital and didn’t really want to leave them alone. Since point b) is no longer an issue, there was only point a) to consider.

Until last year, the Los Amigos convention used to take place in Hanau near Frankfurt, which is a four-and-a-half-hour drive away (or a one-hour flight to Frankfurt and then a train ride to Hanau). However, for 2024 the convention relocated to Neuss, a city in the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region, which is somewhat closer, though still roughly three hundred kilometers away, which means a three-to-three-and-a-half-hour drive, depending on traffic conditions….

…In fact, there were quite a few customisers were displaying their creations, sometimes for sale, sometimes not.  One stall offered a regular Origins Battle Cat customised to look like Battle Cat might have looked, if he had appeared in the 1987 live action movie (he didn’t, because the production team couldn’t make him work with 1980s tech). That Battle Cat looked great, but he was also quite expensive – 130 Euros – and there was so much to buy, so I passed on him. Besides, the Battle Cat was in Origins scale, but the movie figures Mattel is currently making are the bigger Masterverse figures, so the movie style Battle Cat wouldn’t fit in with my movie figure….

… I also learned that Tecklenburg has a castle ruin, as the name implies, and that bits and pieces of the castle have been integrated into buildings all over town. The ruined castle now houses an open air theater – the largest in all of Germany. The open air theater opened in 1924 and is hugely important for the town, since it’s a major tourist draw. The local handyman frequently builds sets and backdrops for them. The theatre used to stage everything from boulevard comedies to operas, but nowadays they most do musicals and children’s plays, because those are the most popular. They also host pop concerts on occasion. This summer, the open air theater Tecklenburg is staging Mamma Mia!Madagascar (based on the eponymous CGI animated kids film) and a musical version of The Three Musketeers. Personally, I’d prefer operas and operettas or regular plays (Shakespeare should be great on an open air stage in the middle of a ruined castle), but money talks and musicals are popular with people who’d otherwise never watch musical theater or otherwise set foot inside a theater….

(3)  HELP WANTED. Cora also has written a recruitment ad parody for the Evil Horde, which is one of the main villain groups in Masters of the Universe and a remarkably diverse bunch. Many positions are immediately open! “Join the Horde! Conquer the Universe! Sign Up Now!”

Are you dissatisfied with harassing peasants and raiding space tramp freighters? Are looking for a new challenge? Do want to see the galaxy and help to subjugate it? Do you want to become part of something greater? Then join the Mighty, All-Conquering Horde.

The Horde Empire is seeking, at the earliest possible date….

(4) KAIJU KORNER. Camestros Felapton is among those dialing up Netflix this week to see “Godzilla Minus One”.

…So firstly, if you are a fan of kaiju stomping and chomping their way through populated cities and military forces who foolishly think their puny weapons can stop the rampaging monster then this film absolutely delivers. Godzilla bites through warships, stomps on buildings and blasts all and sundry with atomic breath. Have no worries in this regard, if that is what you want from a Godzilla film, you should be satisfied. If you want Godzilla to be the misunderstood hero who battles a much worse kaiju, then no, you won’t get that but otherwise this is a solid entry in kaiju mayhem….

(5) MARYANN HARRIS (1953-2024). MaryAnn Harris, wife of Charles de Lint, who had been hospitalized and on a ventilator since 2021 after contracting Powassan virus, an extremely rare tick-bourne illness, died June 3. De Lint made the announcement on Facebook:

I’m so so sorry to have to tell you all that Mare passed away this afternoon, June 3, 2024. She fought long and hard to try to beat the awful state in which the Powasssan virus had left her but in the end she just didn’t have the strength to carry on any longer. She died peacefully in her room, surrounded by family, in the beautiful space that her friends and family made of what had been a sterile hospital room.

She touched the hearts of every one she met and we were all so blessed to have known her.

Lately I’d been wondering what this day would feel like. I’ve been on my own since September 2021 and feel that I started grieving at that point, but all that time did nothing to prepare me for how desolate I feel now that she’s actually gone.

Thanks to everyone who cheered her on through this journey, who sent her cards and little gifts, donations towards her care and all the love and words of encouragement. That did much to carry her forward with strength and determination until her body finally gave out on her.

Words can’t express how grateful we are for your support.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Compiled by Paul Weimer.]

June 4, 1960 Kristine Kathryn Rusch, 64.

By Paul Weimer: For me, Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s diverse and large oeuvre, in my reading, runs along two main tracks.

Where I first discovered and encountered her work was in the boom fantasy period in the 90’s with her Fey series. The Fey novels were my first experience with a robust and expansionistic version of Elves. Up until reading The Sacrifice, The Changling and its sequels, my impression of Elves as I had read them to that point were Tolkienistic: hermit kingdoms, quietly holding their power, or slowly fading away, or looking for the chance to slip away and head west to somewhere over the sea. Elves “belonged” to a world that had passed them by. Imagine my surprise when I started reading the Changeling, and discovered a Elf-like race, the Fey, who were not retiring quietly. Instead, these Fey had decided to conquer the entire world with their battle magic. Sure, Blue Isle proved to be an insurmountable roadblock to those conquests, but the very idea of militant expansionist elves…well, I’ve read takes on it since then in various guises and authors, but Rusch’s Fey were the first time I had ever encountered the idea.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch in 2019.

The Wreck series was not quite as innovative for me, but it sits in a relatively unexploited portion of space opera: Space Archaeology.  Boss’ story, in Diving into the Wreck and its sequels, is the story of a character whom, when I met her, thought, “Hey, that would make a neat Traveller character– someone who plunders old spaceships for a living, especially for their history, as well as for the financial aspects of same.  I’d read McDevitt, and Modesitt, and other authors which explored Xenoarchaeology before running into Boss, but Boss was and is a one-of-a-kind character, larger than life. I can always tell that a character resonates with me when I want to make an expy of that character for a RPG. Boss and her adventures in the first couple of novels wanted me to do that.  I didn’t quite as warm to the other various characters, such as Coop, in the later Diving novels, but maybe that’s because Boss so firmly imprinted on me that she ate up the space for me to do so. 

But in the end, Rusch has a prodigious output, under a variety of pen names, in a wide variety of subgenres from tie-in novels to romance, and thus  is one of those authors you could lose yourself in her massive oeuvre and not come out for months or years. 

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Thatababy reports something that once was commonly known
  • Bizarro shows why they’re a perfect match.
  • Macanudo has an expert taster.
  • Pearls Before Swine wistfully remembers a social media platform. (Wait, it’s still here!)

(8) BASED ON AN OCCASIONALLY TRUE STORY. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] ROH Press published an interesting profile about the Italian adventure fiction writer Emilio Salgari (1862-1911), who created Sandokan, the Tiger of Malaysia, and the Black Corsair. Salgari isn’t very well known in the US, but I encountered his work via the film adaptations which were a staple of afternoon TV, when I was a kid: “Emilio Salgari: Master of Adventure”

…He claimed to have travelled throughout the American West where he met Buffalo Bill; he had explored the Sudan, lived at the Mahdi’s court, loved Indian princesses, sailed among the many islands of the Far East. Here was a man of action that had explored the world and lived many adventures, adventures he would use for the basis of his 80 plus novels and hundreds of short stories to captivate readers worldwide. At dinner parties he regaled his hosts with tales from his many voyages, guests to his home would often be shown artefacts acquired in far off lands. Throughout the 20th century illustrations of him on the back of his novels showed him clad in his captain’s uniform. His memoirs were filled with adventures in the most exotic lands. A remarkable life, envied by many.

Except that very little of it was true. He did meet Buffalo Bill, but at Sherman’s Wild West Show in Verona, not, as he claimed, while exploring Nebraska. He was knighted for his stories, that much was true; he founded the adventure genre in Italy, his tales captivating young and old, and inspiring many to take up the pen….

(9) NO SUCH THING. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] This is a year old, but it’s still a lovely remembrance of Manly Wade Wellman from Stephen Smith who was one of his creative writing students: “Manly Wade Wellman: Our Forgotten Man of Letters” in The Pilot.

…Wellman was fiercely proud of his stature as a writer. “Outlaws,” he called us, generously including his students in the designation, and he had the rare ability, from the moment he stepped into the room, to instill in each student the strong belief in self that made him a successful writer and a charismatic presence.

Each Tuesday morning that semester, I’d drop a story in the campus mail, and Manly would critique and correct it and hand it back after reading it aloud to the class. I was no doubt an annoyingly eager student, and on a couple of occasions I submitted two stories in one week. “You’re like the tiger who’s tasted blood,” Manly laughed — and in fact, I was spending entirely too much study time writing fiction. Not all my stories were keepers, but one was good enough to win a state-wide short story contest that earned me $100 and a magazine publication. When I met with Manly after winning the magazine prize, he asked what my major was. I told him it was sociology. “Change your major to English!” he barked. “There’s no such thing as sociology!”…

(10) WILL SPIELBERG ADAPT ANOTHER CHICHTON NOVEL? “Eruption: James Patterson finishes Crichton passion project” – and the BBC says now that it’s done Hollywood is abuzz.

Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton died from cancer over 15 years ago – now, his unfinished “passion project”, about a humanity-threatening volcanic eruption, has been completed by fellow literary giant James Patterson and is already generating heated interest in Hollywood.

Eruption takes readers on a thrilling journey through Hawaii’s biggest island, which, unbeknown to its residents, hides dangerous military secrets dating back decades.

There has been no formal screen auction yet – but Sherri Crichton, who discovered her late husband’s unfinished manuscript over a decade ago and controls his estate, told BBC News she was now in talks with Steven Spielberg about a possible big-screen adaptation.

(11) LE GUIN LOOKS IN THE MIRROR. B.D. McClay’s article “Ursula K. Le Guin was her own toughest (and best) critic” is behind a Washington Post paywall. If you have access, lucky you!

… What a pleasure it is, then, to open “The Language of the Night: Essays on Writing, Science Fiction, and Fantasy,” and discover someone vigorously disagreeing with herself on almost every page. To say that the Le Guin we meet in this book is argumentative, sometimes unfair, sometimes wrong and even self-contradictory is not to diminish her greatness. It is rather to rescue her from the dullness imposed on her by her canonization.

By her own account, Le Guin was an indiscriminate reader of books at a young age; she read science fiction, but with no particular devotion. As she got older, the genre did not seem to have a place in it for an adult. “If I glanced at a magazine,” she wrote in the essay “A Citizen of Mondath,” included in this collection, “it still seemed to be all about starship captains in black with lean rugged faces and a lot of fancy artillery.” She drifted off to “Tolstoy and things,” and it was only when a friend told her to read a short story by Cordwainer Smith that she went back to science fiction.

Smith — whose real name was the somehow even more improbable Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger — worked for the United States military; he was, perhaps, too close to war to fantasize about it. He drew imaginatively from other sources, like Joan of Arc and Chinese mythology. His work, which features psychic pilots and heroic space cats, is elastic, wild and, perhaps most importantly in seeing his influence on Le Guin, very funny.

For Le Guin, who was also uninspired by military aesthetics, similarly eclectic in her influences and would complain that nobody ever noticed when she was being funny, reading Smith must have been a shock of recognition akin to love at first sight. (“I don’t really remember what I thought when I read it,” she wrote, “but what I think now I ought to have thought when I read it is My God! It can be done!”) …

(12) JMS Q&A. Also behind a paywall (it’s not our lucky day!) is the Los Angeles Times’ interview with J. Michael Straczynski about his work preserving Harlan Ellison’s legacy: “Harlan Ellison’s books being reissued by J. Michael Straczynski” This passage talks about the façade of Ellison’s home dubbed “The Lost Aztec Temple of Mars”.

On a hilly street in Sherman Oaks, writer and producer J. Michael “Joe” Straczynski gestures to a row of gray gargoylesque heads mounted above an entryway. “If you look carefully, you’ll see they are the Watergate figures,” he says. “Nixon in the middle, surrounded by Mitchell, Dean, Haldeman, all of them.” He smiles, knowing that the mind that created this funky tableau belonged to none other than his closest friend, the eccentric author of speculative fiction, Harlan Ellison….

…. The Watergate grotesques form a small portion of the weird and sometimes wacky, but always carefully curated, world of Ellison. The largest portion of the facade features stone-intaglio pictographs that at first glance might be Egyptian hieroglyphs or Aztec sun symbols; closer examination reveals all sorts of imaginative creatures, from tiny robots to taloned divinities to monsters. Every piece of the house was carefully chosen by Ellison, and many pieces, including carved doors, staircases and even hinges and handles, were designed to his specifications. Next to the doorbell hangs a small framed sign: “Dig. Or split.” The author had no interest in catering to people who did not share his enthusiasms or worldviews….

(13) JUSTWATCH TOP 10S FOR MAY. JustWatch has shared their Top 10 streaming charts for the month of May.

(14) HOMEWARD BOUND FROM LUNA. “China moon landing: Spacecraft Chang’e-6 unfurls flag on far side of the moon”AP News has the details.

…The Chang’e-6 probe was launched last month and its lander touched down on the far side of the moon Sunday. Its ascender lifted off Tuesday morning at 7:38 a.m. Beijing time, with its engine burning for about six minutes as it entered a preset orbit around the moon, the China National Space Administration said.

The agency said the spacecraft withstood a high temperature test on the lunar surface, and acquired the samples using both drilling and surface collection before stowing them in a container inside the ascender of the probe as planned.

The container will be transferred to a reentry capsule that is due to return to Earth in the deserts of China’s Inner Mongolia region about June 25.

(15) WONDLA TRAILER. Animation Magazine is there when “Apple TV+ Unveils Trailer for Animated Sci-Fi Series ‘WondLa’”.

…WondLa centers on Eva, voiced by Jeanine Mason (Roswell, New Mexico), a curious, enthusiastic and spirited teenager being raised in a state-of-the-art underground bunker by Muthr, a robot caretaker, voiced by Emmy Award nominee Teri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives).

On her 16th birthday, an attack on Eva’s bunker forces her onto the Earth’s surface which is now inhabited by aliens, covered with other-worldly fauna, and no other humans to be found. In fact, it’s no longer called Earth, but Orbona. Otto, a loveable giant water bear with whom Eva shares telepathic powers, voiced by Emmy Award winner Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond), and Rovender, a cantankerous alien with a troubled past voiced by Gary Anthony Williams (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows) join Eva as she leads the team on a dangerous quest to find humans, her home, and her true destiny….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Teddy Harvia, Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 6/1/24 If You Like My File And You Think I’m Pixely, Come On Baby Let Me Scroll

(1) $UPPORT THE BID. The Worldcon Heritage Organization, which maintains several fixed exhibits to be shown at Worldcons, including a collection of past Hugo Awards, is putting together a bid in hopes of acquiring the first Hugo Award ever given when it goes to auction on June 7. They will also try to get the honorary one given to Hugo Gernsback in 1960, another lot in the same auction.

WHO President Kent Bloom said in a comment on File 770, “Our funds are limited, so if anyone bids against us we may not succeed. I don’t know how to set up a fund to collect donations, but anyone who wants to donate can send money to Worldcon Heritage Organization, c/o Kent Bloom, 1245 Allegheny Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80919. If you want this considered as a contingent donation, please let us know and if we don’t succeed in acquiring the trophies we can return your contributions.” Bloom can be contacted at [email protected] or at kent.bloom (at) rialto.org

John Pomeranz followed with this advice: “And, as a reminder, let’s not publicize how much we’re giving. No need to tip off the other bidders how high WHA might be able to go.”

(2) POLAND’S FAN OF THE YEAR. Congratulations to Polish fan Marcin “Alqua” Klak who received the Śląkfa Award from Śląski Klub Fantastyki as the fan of the year.

Marcin “Alqua” Klak

(3) UNEXPECTED KAIJU. “Godzilla Minus One Makes a Surprise Stomp to Netflix and Digital” reports Gizmodo.

Godzilla Minus One was one of 2023’s best movies, if not the best, depending on who you ask. If you’re one of the folks who didn’t get the chance to see it in theaters, great news: it’s now on Netflix and available to own or rent digitally…

…If you weren’t aware, there was some confusion around the circumstances of Minus One’s arriving on streaming and physical formats. Due to a contract between Toho and Legendary, the movie had to be taken out of theaters once Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire came out. Presumably, that’s also why a physical 4K/Blu-rRay version hasn’t dropped in outside of Japan either. New Empire only just hit streaming in mid-May and is coming to physical formats on June 11, so it might be a while before folks get to snatch up Minus One to add onto their physical collections….

(4) WHO KNEW? At Physics World, Robert P. Crease says our Steven French knew! “Ursula Le Guin: the pioneering author we should thank for popularizing Schrödinger’s cat” at Physics World.

… But despite its current ubiquity, the fictitious animal only really entered wider public consciousness after the US science-fiction and fantasy writer Ursula K Le Guin published a short story called “Schrödinger’s cat” exactly 50 years ago. Le Guin, who died in 2018 at the age of 88, was a widely admired writer, who produced more than 20 novels and over 100 short stories.

Schrödinger originally invented the cat image as a gag. If true believers in quantum mechanics are right that the microworld’s uncertainties are dispelled only when we observe it, Schrödinger felt, this must also sometimes happen in the macroworld – and that’s ridiculous. Writing in a paper published in 1935 in the German-language journal Naturwissenschaften (23 807), he presented his famous cat-in-a-box image to show why such a notion is foolish.

For a while, few paid attention. According to an “Ngram” search of Google Books carried out by Steven French, a philosopher of science at the University of Leeds in the UK, there were no citations of the phrase “Schrödinger’s cat” in the literature for almost 20 years. As French describes in his 2023 book A Phenomenological Approach to Quantum Mechanics, the first reference appeared in a footnote to an essay by the philosopher Paul Feyerabend in the 1957 book Observation and Interpretation in the Philosophy of Physics edited by Stephan Körner….

(5) SUMMER IS COMING. “George R.R. Martin reveals first look at his sci-fi short film The Summer Machine” at Winter Is Coming.

…The Summer Machine is a science fiction story and may be the first entry in an anthology. Martin is producing the movie, but not writing or directing it; both roles are filled by Michael Cassutt, with whom Martin worked on the 1985 Twilight Zone reboot. The short will star Lina Esco, Charles Martin Smith and Matt Frewer.

We don’t know many details about the plot, although in the image above you can clearly see that Martin is sitting in front of some kind of sci-fi doohicky….

(6) GEORGE R.R. MARTIN COMING TO GLASGOW 2024. Blink and you’ll miss it, but in a Not a Blog post about yet another TV series based on his work (“Here’s Egg!”) George R.R. Martin said he’s going to this year’s Worldcon.

THE HEDGE KNIGHT will be a lot shorter than GAME OF THRONES or HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, with a much different tone… but it’s still Westeros, so no one is truly safe  Ira Parker and his team are doing a great job.  I hope to visit the shoot come July, when I swing by Belfast on my way to the worldcon in Glasgow.  

(7) CENSORING SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT APPARENTLY FEARS TO TOUCH BOOK. “The Handmaid’s Tale Was Removed from An Idaho School Library. This Teen Handed A Copy to the Superintendent At Graduation”People tells what happened then.

Annabelle Jenkins protested the removal of the graphic novel adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel earlier in the school year

An Idaho high school graduate took book censorship into her own hands at her graduation ceremony earlier this month.

During the May 23 graduation ceremony for the Idaho Fine Arts Academy, Annabelle Jenkins handed West Ada School District superintendent Derek Bub a copy of the graphic novel adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale. The book had been removed from the school district’s libraries in Dec. 2023.

According to the Idaho Statesman, the novel was one of 10 books, including Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen and Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas, to be removed from the school district. It’s administration concluded that the “graphic imagery contained within [the graphic novel adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale] was not suitable for the West Ada School District student population,” per a statement from district representative Niki Scheppers.

“I just realized that I did not want to walk across that stage and get my diploma and shake the superintendent’s hand,” Jenkins told KTVB. “I just did not want to do that.”

In a TikTok Jenkins posted, which currently has over 24 million views, the graduate is seen shaking the hands of other faculty on stage during the ceremony. When she gets to Bub, Jenkins hands him a copy of The Handmaid’s Tale graphic novel instead.

“I got up there and I got the book out. I kind of showed it to the audience really quick,” she said. “He crossed his arms like this and he wouldn’t take it.” Jenkins placed the book at his feet before she walked off the stage….

(8) DOG’S BEST FRIEND. The New York Times’ Amy Nicholson tells why this is a “critic’s pick”: “‘Robot Dreams’ Review: A Friendship That Is Far From Mechanical”. (Link bypasses NYT paywall.)

Decades after Philip K. Dick asked if androids dreamed of electric sheep, we have an answer. This android — one of two nameless leads in the Oscar-nominated charmer “Robot Dreams” — envisions a small, lonely dog in his third-floor walk-up, microwaving a depressing dinner for one. Set in 1980s Manhattan, Pablo Berger’s all-ages, wordless wonder of a cartoon kicks into gear when the mutt assembles a self-aware, spaghetti-limbed robot companion ordered from an infomercial. You might be thinking that sentient artificial intelligence didn’t exist 40 years ago, and you’d be right. But dogs don’t rent apartments, either.

This fanciful vision of New York is populated by animals: sporty ducks, punk rock monkeys, buffalo mail carriers, penguins shouldering boomboxes, and a disproportionate number of llamas. Mechanical beings are sparse and some creatures consider them lower in status, a brutal development when our robot’s relationship with his dog begins to break down. But Berger isn’t interested in science fiction. He’s made a buddy film that’s as relatable as two friends bonding over slices of pizza (but the robot eats the plate, too)….

(9) ZACK NORMAN (1940-2024). Producer Zack Norman, who gained a kind of fame as the maker of a film referenced on Mystery Science Theater 3000, died April 28 at the age of 83. The New York Times obituary tells how he became a pop culture icon.

…A far more obscure film that Mr. Norman helped produce, “Chief Zabu” (1986), entered into pop-culture lore in an unusual way: by disappearing for three decades.

“Chief Zabu,” which Mr. Norman wrote, produced and directed with Neil Cohen, was another bargain, made on a shoestring budget of $200,000. Mr. Norman was also a star of the film: He played Sammy Brooks, a real estate mogul who, with his friend Ben Sydney (Allen Garfield), pursues both financial and political ambitions in a grandiose scheme to take over a fictitious Polynesian island.

The film fizzled in a preview and was never released. For 30 years it was buried, but not forgotten — at least not to fans of “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” the Generation X staple of the 1990s that featured a weary space traveler and his robot friends poking fun at bad B-movies on a journey through the cosmos.

On the show, any time a character in one of those achingly bad movies cracked a newspaper, Joel Hodgson, the original host, would wearily intone, “Hey, Zack Norman is Sammy in ‘Chief Zabu.’”

It was a knowing reference to an advertisement for the movie, featuring a stern photo of Mr. Norman, that he continued to run — stubbornly yet playfully — in Weekly Variety every Wednesday for nine years. Why? “Because it gave me great joy,” he said in a 2016 interview with The Sun Sentinel of South Florida….

Mr. Norman’s faith in “Chief Zabu” eventually paid off. He and Mr. Cohen released a new cut of the film in 2016 and then took it on tour, presenting it at comedy clubs. Even so, it took them decades to realize that the Variety ad had become a cultural artifact.

In a 2020 interview with the film website Skewed & Reviewed, Mr. Cohen said that neither of them had heard of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” until one afternoon in the mid-2010s when they were walking down a Los Angeles street and saw a man wearing a “Zack Norman as Sammy in Chief Zabu” T- shirt.

“We stopped the guy and said, ‘Dude, what is up with that?’” he recalled. “And you can imagine his reaction when he saw he was talking to Zack Norman, whose face was on his T-shirt.”

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

June 1, 1947 Jonathan Pryce, 77. I’m reasonably sure that the first role I saw Jonathan Pryce in was the lead antagonist of Some Wicked Comes This Way. (Bradbury did a stellar job writing the screenplay, didn’t he?)  He pulls off the carnival leader of Mr. Dark in suitably sinister manner. 

Then there’s the matter of Right Ordinary Horatio Jackson in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen where we meet him executing a heroic officer played by Sting for his act of bravery because it’s demoralizing to soldiers and citizens just trying to lead as he says unexceptional lives. 

(That is the Gilliam film I’ve watched the most followed by Time Bandits. Surely you’re not surprised?) 

As media baron Eliot Carter is in the Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, he’s trying to cause war between the United Kingdom and China. Arrogant little prick he is here. 

He’s in Pirates of the Caribbean seriesas Governor Weatherby Swann. I’ve only seen the first film, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and I thought it was an interesting but not terribly great film. 

He’s The Master in the Doctor Who special,  Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death, made specifically for the Red Nose Day charity telethon. It was the only BBC commissioned live-action Doctor Who production between the Who television movie and the launch of the present Who era starting with the “Rose” episode.

In Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars, he got to play that character with Bill Paterson as Watson. The Baker Street Irregulars, a group of street urchins as the BBC press kits described them, is trying to find their missing members, while also trying to prevent Sherlock Holmes being convicted of murder. I’ll end this review with a photo of him in that role.

Jonathan Pryce as Sherlock Holmes.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) STARLINER LAUNCH SCRUBBED. “Boeing forced to call off its first launch with NASA astronauts once again”NBC News has the story.

NASA and Boeing were forced once again to call off the first crewed launch of the company’s Starliner spacecraft.

NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita Williams were scheduled to lift off aboard the Starliner from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Saturday at 12:25 p.m. ET. The flight to the International Space Station would have been the vehicle’s first with a crew.

The launch attempt was scrubbed with only 3 minutes and 50 seconds to go in the countdown — yet another setback for Boeing, which has already dealt with years of delays and budget overruns with its Starliner program.

Officials were attempting to try again the next day but announced Saturday evening that the flight was postponed “to give the team additional time to assess a ground support equipment issue,” according to NASA….

(13) SECOND LIFE. “Scavengers Reign, a sci-fi show like no other, now gets a second shot at life on Netflix”Polygon has the good news.

The streaming era operates via a cold and opaque calculus. Many shows unceremoniously premiere with limited promotion, only to face swift cancellation with an equal lack of fanfare. With no real numbers and a few dodgy reports available to the public and creators (now a little less dodgy, thanks to the Writers Guild of America strike), a show’s fate can feel like a cosmic joke, with no rhyme or reason to why some soldier on and some never get the chance to find an audience. Scavengers Reign, the stunning animated series that debuted on Max last year, found its number was up when the streamer canceled it earlier this May. However, in a rare moment of clarity, there is a way forward for the show: It just has to be a hit starting Friday, when it premieres on Netflix.

Its new summer home (Scavengers Reign is still available to stream on Max) is reportedly considering a season 2 renewal pending the show’s Netflix debut, though what a favorable run looks like isn’t terribly clear. Mostly, this is just an excuse to exercise a rare bit of streaming-era agency: Go check out Scavengers Reign, one of the very best shows of last year, and the rare series that earns the superlative of “like nothing else on television” simply by virtue of its stunning visual design.

Taking visual cues from European sci-fi artists like Moebius and Simon Roy, Scavengers Reign chronicles the aftermath of a disaster aboard the spacecraft Demeter, following a handful of survivors that escaped to the alien world of Vesta Minor, a hauntingly beautiful and hostile planet…. 

(14) THREE SHALL BE THE NUMBER. “’3 Body Problem’ To Run For 3 Seasons On Netflix” reports Deadline.

3 Body Problem creators David Benioff, D.B. Weiss and Alexander Woo on Friday cleared up the confusion over the Netflix sci-fi drama’s recent renewal, confirming that it will produce two more seasons.

At the streamer’s upfront presentation last month, the streamer announced that 3 Body Problem has been picked up for “all-new episodes”, with Benioff, Weiss and Woo assuring fans that they will “get to tell this story through to its epic conclusion.”

No number of episodes or seasons were revealed, creating a confusion and triggering wild speculation. Benioff, Weiss and Woo subsequently indicated to THR that the pickup was for “seasons” but have not provided specifics until today when they confirmed that there will be Seasons 2 and 3 during a 3 Body Problem Television Academy panel at the Netflix FYSEE space….

(15) SMOKE BUT NO MIRRORS? [Item by Steven French.] So, maybe not built by aliens ….? “Are dusty quasars masquerading as Dyson sphere candidates?” asks Physics World.

Seven candidate Dyson spheres found from their excess infrared radiation could be a case of mistaken identity, with evidence for dusty background galaxies spotted close to three of them.

The seven candidates were discovered by Project Hephaistos, which is coordinated by astronomers at Uppsala University in Sweden and Penn State University in the US.

A Dyson sphere is a hypothetical construct: a swarm of energy collectors capturing all of a star’s radiant energy to provide huge amounts of power for its builders. As these energy collectors – basically huge arrays of solar panels – absorb sunlight, they must emit waste heat as infrared radiation to avoid overheating. While a complete Dyson swarm would hide a star from view, this waste heat would still be detectable.

The caveat is that to build a complete Dyson swarm, a lot of raw material is required. In his 1960 paper describing the concept, Freeman Dyson calculated that dismantling a gas giant planet like Jupiter should do the trick.

Given that this is easier said than done, Project Hephaistos has been looking for incomplete Dyson swarms “that do not block all starlight, but a fraction of it,” says Matías Suazo of Uppsala University, who is leading the project….

(16) CHANG’E-6 LANDS ON MOON. “China’s Chang’e-6 probe successfully lands on far side of the moon”CNN puts the news in perspective.

China’s Chang’e-6 lunar lander successfully touched down on the far side of the moon Sunday morning Beijing time, in a significant step for the ambitious mission that could advance the country’s aspirations of putting astronauts on the moon.

The Chang’e-6 probe landed in the South Pole-Aitken Basin, where it will begin to collect samples from the lunar surface, the China National Space Administration announced.

China’s most complex robotic lunar endeavor to date, the uncrewed mission aims to return samples to Earth from the moon’s far side for the first time.

The landing marks the second time a mission has successfully reached the far side of the moon. China first completed that historic feat in 2019 with its Chang’e-4 probe.

If all goes as planned, the mission — which began on May 3 and is expected to last 53 days — could be a key milestone in China’s push to become a dominant space power.

The country’s plans include landing astronauts on the moon by 2030 and building a research base at its south pole – a region believed to contain water ice.

Sunday’s landing comes as a growing number of countries, including the United States, eye the strategic and scientific benefits of expanded lunar exploration in an increasingly competitive field.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. You’re just in time (!) for the “Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark Pitch Meeting” with Ryan George. Does the proposed story have any holes? Shut up, he explained.

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