(1) LOCUS REACHES CROWDFUNDING TARGET. The Locus Magazine Indiegogo appeal hit the target today. When I checked in they had exceeded their $75,000 goal and were at $78,571. Although today was the announced deadline, Locus has extended the appeal to the end of the year.
…But, wait, it’s not over yet! On advice from those that know, we are going to extend our campaign to the end of the year: if we hit $85k that will cover all of the expenses of the fundraiser and we will get the whole $75k. FTW!
Also, we really want to reach our Special Short Story Issue stretch goal!! At $85,000 we’ll dedicate one of our 2023 monthly issues to the art of short fiction, and already have Kelly Link, Usman T. Malik, and Ted Chiang lined up for a roundtable feature.
Oh, and (Jan-Erik Zandersson might want to cover his eyes here) Locus hitting its goal means John Scalzi is going to do a Christmas story.
(2) TRUMP’S BIG ANNOUNCEMENT. Former President Trump’s hyped “big announcement” would probably not be covered in today’s Scroll except that it proved to be the introduction of his “’official Donald Trump Digital Trading Card’ collection with a picture of himself in superhero costume, cape and ‘Trump Champion’ belt.” “’Losing the plot’: Trump mocked after announcing superhero card collection” at Yahoo!
… But when the announcement came on Thursday, Trump said he was merely offering supporters “limited edition cards featur[ing] amazing ART of my Life & Career”, which he promised would prove “very much like a baseball card but hopefully much more exciting”.
“GET YOUR CARDS NOW!” the 76-year-old former president commanded, above the picture of himself standing in a ring for boxing or wrestling, muscles rippling under a red leotard and wearing high blue boots emblazoned with “45” (his presidential number) and an American flag as a cape.
The cards, the declared candidate for the Republican nomination in 2024 said, cost “Only $99 each” and “would make a great Christmas gift”….
And how did the base react? We take you now to Jon Del Arroz’ reaction video titled “Trump HUMILIATES Himself With His New CRINGE Announcement. Make It STOP!”
“This is ridiculous. This reeks of an nft scam where you’re just like collecting these things that are not actually collectible. They’re digital pictures just like this one. Just take a screenshot friends and you’ll have it yourself. Let’s go to the website and check it out. All right. Collecttrumpcards.com here we go. [laughs] And it’s loading slow, too, how exciting. How exciting. Gosh this is so sad. I mean to me like a president doing this, somebody who is a 2024 Contender or kind of was. Uh, the site’s not even loading. Womp womp uh it is actually embarrassing. Like he he should not be stooping to this kind of thing, especially as like a big businessman or whatever. Like I mean you’d think that he’d have a better sort of business plan going forward to where he’s making real money. I mean this is like selling stupid trinkets that aren’t even actual trinkets, you don’t even get anything out of it, and it’s just kind of sad to watch. I think this is really the downfall of Trump when you’re doing a big announcement in all this and this is what you come out with….”
It’s my blog so I don’t have to run an image of Trump’s superhero card to illustrate this item. I think that’s a right guaranteed to me by the Constitution. Or the LA County sanitation code. Somewhere.
(3) MARLEY WAS DEAD. Open Culture invites you to “Hear Neil Gaiman Read A Christmas Carol Just Like Charles Dickens Read It”. (It’s an updated 2014 post.) The recording is here.
In Christmases past, we featured Charles Dickens’ hand-edited copy of his beloved 1843 novella A Christmas Carol. He did that hand editing for the purposes of giving public readings, a practice that, in his time, “was considered a desecration of one’s art and a lowering of one’s dignity.” That time, however, has gone, and many of the most prestigious writers alive today take the reading aloud of their own work to the level of art, or at least high entertainment, that Dickens must have suspected one could. Some writers even do a bang-up job of reading other writers’ work: modern master storyteller Neil Gaiman gave us a dose of that when we featured his recitation of Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” from memory. Today, however, comes the full meal: Gaiman’s telling of A Christmas Carol straight from that very Dickens-edited reading copy….
(4) HORROR HOSTESS. Via the Horror Writers Association blog, “Nuts and Bolts: Interview with Aurora Gorealis”. There’s a substantial excerpt at the link, however, only HWA members have access to the full article.
In the tradition of such sinister seductresses as Vampira and Elvira, Aurora Gorealis is a Baltimore-based horror host who weaves dark magic from a combination of campy movies, sassy attitude, and the occasional pun of dubious quality.
Since 2017, Aurora (aka: Melissa LaMartina) has been playing the character during “Shocktail Hour” at the Golden West Café in Baltimore, combining live comedy and screenings of off-the-wall classics such as “Phantom of the Paradise” and “House on Haunted Hill” (complete with William Castle-style gimmicks)….
(5) STONE THE PHONE. “‘Luddite’ Teens Don’t Want Your Likes” reports the New York Times.
…“Lots of us have read this book called ‘Into the Wild,’” said Lola Shub, a senior at Essex Street Academy, referring to Jon Krakauer’s 1996 nonfiction book about the nomad Chris McCandless, who died while trying to live off the land in the Alaskan wilderness. “We’ve all got this theory that we’re not just meant to be confined to buildings and work. And that guy was experiencing life. Real life. Social media and phones are not real life.”
“When I got my flip phone, things instantly changed,” Lola continued. “I started using my brain. It made me observe myself as a person. I’ve been trying to write a book, too. It’s like 12 pages now.”
Briefly, the club members discussed how the spreading of their Luddite gospel was going. Founded last year by another Murrow High School student, Logan Lane, the club is named after Ned Ludd, the folkloric 18th-century English textile worker who supposedly smashed up a mechanized loom, inspiring others to take up his name and riot against industrialization….
… “But that wasn’t enough,” she said. “So I put my phone in a box.”
For the first time, she experienced life in the city as a teenager without an iPhone. She borrowed novels from the library and read them alone in the park. She started admiring graffiti when she rode the subway, then fell in with some teens who taught her how to spray-paint in a freight train yard in Queens. And she began waking up without an alarm clock at 7 a.m., no longer falling asleep to the glow of her phone at midnight. Once, as she later wrote in a text titled the “Luddite Manifesto,” she fantasized about tossing her iPhone into the Gowanus Canal.
While Logan’s parents appreciated her metamorphosis, particularly that she was regularly coming home for dinner to recount her wanderings, they grew distressed that they couldn’t check in on their daughter on a Friday night. And after she conveniently lost the smartphone they had asked her to take to Paris for a summer abroad program, they were distraught. Eventually, they insisted that she at least start carrying a flip phone….
(6) THERE’S A LOT AT THE END OF GRAVITY’S RAINBOW. “Thomas Pynchon, Famously Private, Sells His Archive” – and the Huntington Library is its new home reports the New York Times.
For years, archival traces of the novelist Thomas Pynchon have been almost as rare as sightings of the man himself.
Only a handful of confirmed photos of him are known to exist. While letters by him sporadically pop up for sale, those that have surfaced in publicly accessible archives have tended to disappear from view just as quickly, following protests from the famously private author.
But now, the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Calif., has acquired Pynchon’s literary archive, promising to open a window into the mind and methods of an author whose dense, erudite, playfully postmodern and often extremely long novels like “Gravity’s Rainbow” (760 pages) and “Against the Day” (1,085) have inspired serious scholarship, cultish devotion and wild-eyed conspiracy theories.
The archive includes 48 boxes — 70 linear feet, in archivist-speak — of material dating from the late 1950s to the 2020s. There are typescripts and drafts of all his published books, from “V.” (1963) to “Bleeding Edge” (2013). And there are copious research notes on the many, many subjects (World War II rocketry, postal history, 18th-century surveying) touched on in his encyclopedic novels.
But for all its richness, those hoping for a more intimate view of the man who twice made a cheeky cameo on “The Simpsons” with a paper bag over his head may be out of luck.
The archive includes correspondence relating to the publishing process, the library said, but no private letters or other personal material. And no, there are no photographs of Pynchon either…..
(7) DEFENDING SANDMAN. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Last night BBC Radio 4 Front Row arts programme had Neil Gaiman. Neil, apparently, has been getting a fair bit of criticism saying that Sandman is too woke what with non-binary characters and all. Neil thinks this strange as 30 years ago when Sandman first came out there was no problem. OK, so woke did not exist then, but Neil points out that nobody back then complained that Sandman was too PC.. “Neil Gaiman, China’s art censorship in Europe, Decline of the working class in the creative industries”.
(8) MEMORY LANE.
1995 — [By Cat Eldridge.] Winnie statues in the London Zoo
Yes, we already had a look at the Winnie the Pooh statue in White River, Ontario, but neither one of those statues is of him. Rather the examples today are of the bear that inspired A.A. Milne to create that marvelous bear.
The first, not at all surprisingly, stands close to the War Memorial.
This bronze statue, which is called the Winnie the bear and Lt. Colebourn Statue, was sculpted by Canadian artist William (Bill) Epp, and donated to London Zoo by the Canadian province of Manitoba. A copy of an identical statue in the Assiniboine Park Zoo, Winnipeg.
The plaque reads:
Winnie and Lt. Colebourn
by Bill Epp
presented by the people
unveiled July 1995
But it’s not the only sculpture of Winnie you’ll find here in the London Zoo! There is another bronze of Winnie, shown as a young cub, by sculptor Lorne McKean. It was unveiled by Christopher Robin Milne in 1981. It is located near Animal Adventure right by the Blackburn Entrance.
McKean likes swans since two of her commissions have been them, Girl and A Swan and simply Swans. She also did a stellar Fox fountain with a bronze fox on a rock with water in Old Fox Yard, Stowmarket.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born December 15, 1923 — Freeman Dyson. Physicist best known in genre circles for the concept he theorized of a Dyson Sphere which would be built by a sufficiently technologically advanced species around a sun to harvest all solar energy. He credited Olaf Stapledon in Star Maker (1937), in which he described “every solar system… surrounded by a gauze of light traps, which focused the escaping solar energy for intelligent use,” with first coming up with the concept. (Died 2020.)
- Born December 15, 1937 — John Sladek. Weird and ambitious would be ways to describe his work. The Complete Roderick Is quite amazing, as is Tik-Tok, which won a BSFA, and Bugs is as well. He did amazing amounts of short fiction, much of which is collected finally in the ironically named Maps: The Uncollected John Sladek. He is generously stocked at the usual suspects. (Died 2000.)
- Born December 15, 1949 — Don Johnson, 73. Though Miami Vice is where most will know him from, he has impressive genre creds including the lead in the Ellison-derived A Boy and Dog, voicing Wazir’s Son in Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, Office Andy Brady in the Revenge of the Stepford Wives film and another Sheriff, Earl McGraw, in the From Dusk till Dawn: The Series.
- Born December 15, 1951 — David Bischoff. His “Tin Woodman” which was written with Dennis Bailey and nominated for a Nebula would be adapted into a Next Generation story. He also wrote the Next Gen story “First Contact” (with Dennis Russell Bailey, Joe Menosky, Ronald D. Moore and Michael Piller.) And he continued the Bill the Galactic Hero story with Harry Harrison. He’s also written a kickass excellent Farscape novel, Ship of Ghosts. (Died 2018.)
- Born December 15, 1952 — Marta DuBoi. Her first genre role is on the Starman series as Dr. Ellen Dukowin the “Fever” episode though you’ll likely better recognize her as Ardra on the “Devil’s Due” episode of the Next Generation. She also had roles on The Land of The Lost, The Trial of the Incredible Hulk and Tales of the Golden Monkey. (Died 2018.)
- Born December 15, 1953 — Robert Charles Wilson, 69. He’s got a Hugo Award for Spin, a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for The Chronoliths, a Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the “The Cartesian Theater” novelette and Prix Aurora Awards for the Blind Lake and Darwinia novels. He also garnered a Philip K. Dick Award for Mysterium. Very, very impressive indeed.
- Born December 15, 1963 — Helen Slater, 59. Was Supergirl in the film of that name, and returned to the 2015 TV series of the same name as Supergirl’s adoptive mother. Also within the DC Universe, she voiced Talia al Ghul in in Batman: The Animated Series. Recently she also voiced Martha Kent in DC Super Hero Girls: Hero of the Year. And Lara in Smallville… And Eliza Danvers on the Supergirl series. Me? I’m not obsessed at all by the DC Universe. Her other genre appearances include being on Supernatural, Eleventh Hour, Toothless, Drop Dead Diva and Agent X.
- Born December 15, 1970 — Michael Shanks, 52. Best known for playing Dr. Daniel Jackson in the very long-running Stargate SG-1 franchise. His first genre appearance was in the Highlander series and he’s been in a lot of genre properties including the Outer Limits, Escape from Mars, Andromeda (formally titled Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda and there’s a juicy story there), Swarmed, Mega Snake, Eureka, Sanctuary, Smallville, Supernatural and Elysium. Wow!
(10) A “KING KONG” BIRTHDAY CAKE. [Item by Steve Vertlieb.] For my 70th birthday (December 15th, 2015), dear friends Bruce and Ann Gearhart in Baltimore surprised me with the most wonderful celebratory cake I’ve ever been given.
“The Girl In The Hairy Paw,” edited and compiled by Ronald Gottesman and Harry M. Geduld, with wonderful cover art by Dave Willardson, was published by Avon Books in 1976 and featured, as its lead chapter, my lengthy essay on the making and production of the original “King Kong.” Its release was a significant benchmark in my life and career, as it was the first time that my work had ever been published in a book.
The opening chapter of this legendary volume was adapted from my series of articles comprising the cover story for the premiere issue of “The Monster Times” in 1972. This astonishing birthday sheet cake, replicating the book’s famous “King Kong” cover, thrilled me beyond words.
Carving into this wondrous pastry was delayed by a solid half hour while we all took pictures of it. It was simply too precious to deface. Fortunately, sanity eventually prevailed and this wondrous cake was ravenously devoured. Still, I wish that it might somehow have been preserved forever…. a delectable artifact commemorating my lifelong favorite film.
After seven years, the astonishing, childlike joy of having received this unforgettable gift brings a wondrous smile to my aging lips.
(11) TURKISH CARVINGS COULD BE FIRST COMIC STRIP. “Prehistoric carvings are oldest known story sequence” behind a paywall in Nature.
An 11,000-year-old carving in Turkey is the earliest known portrayal of a narrative scene. Archaeologists have uncovered other etched images in southeastern Turkey from the Neolithic period, which in the Near East stretched roughly from 10,000 bc to 7,000 bc and
includes the transition from nomadic life to settlements. But, unlike previously identified images, the latest discovery consists of two adjacent panels with a progressing storyline….
Although the Nature article is paywalled, the source journal article with numerous photos is available: “The Sayburç reliefs: a narrative scene from the Neolithic” at Cambridge Core.
(12) SF READER LITMUS TEST. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Having pre-registered as press for the rapidly-approaching CES (I’m not going IRL/F2F, but want some of the PR email barrage), Daniel Dern just got this:
Subject: CES to Feature FoodTech Sessions, Exhibits & More – Connect w/ Cultivated Meat CEO Panelist?
Dern asks/thinks (but did not reply with) this, to a mix of fellow tech journalists and Filers: Who else first quick-read this as a, with all due respect to SF writer Terry Bisson  ‘made-of-cultivated-meat’ panelist rather than the more likely meaning?
(13) WITH ALICE. [Item by Daniel Dern.]It zooms through the skies with the greatest of ease! “Antimatter Could Travel Through Our Galaxy With Ease, Physicists Say” – Gizmodo has the story.
A team of physicists determined that enigmatic ‘antinuclei’ can travel across the universe without being absorbed by the interstellar medium. The finding suggests we may be able to identify antimatter that is produced by dark matter in deep space.
The physicists estimated the Milky Way’s so-called transparency to antihelium-3 nuclei—meaning, how permissive the galaxy’s interstellar medium is to antinuclei zipping through space.
“Our results show, for the first time on the basis of a direct absorption measurement, that antihelium-3 nuclei coming from as far as the centre of our Galaxy can reach near-Earth locations,” said ALICE physics coordinator Andrea Dainese, in a CERN release….
(14) WHY IT CRATERED. MLive takes you back to “Space World: The Michigan amusement park that never was”.
In the late 1970s, a Detroit-area aeronautical engineer who helped make NASA’S Apollo program possible dreamed up an amusement park called Space World. He hoped to build it on what was then farmland in Ypsilanti Township. He eventually broke ground on the park in nearby Huron Township, but down-to-earth troubles like high interest rates scrubbed the project.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. From The Late Late Show With James Corden, “Avatar Ed: James Explains The First ‘Avatar’ To Kids”.
This group of schoolchildren is getting older, so it’s time they got… “the talk”. That is of course, the talk about what “Avatar” is and why they should care.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Steve Vertlieb, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]