Pixel Scroll 9/24/22 A Click of Scrolling Pixels Are We

(1) HAPPY BIRTHDAY SYFY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Today, September 24, 2022, marks the 30th anniversary of the Sci-Fi Channel (now SYFY). Can you guess what the first movie they ran was? “What was first show on Sci-Fi Channel, now SYFY?”

…The lead-up to the debut of the channel was marked with intriguing, somewhat ominous promos warning of “an invasion” that was “coming for you.” As the date drew closer, a countdown clock ticked down the seconds until the Sci-Fi Channel made its debut on a reported 10 million of the United State’s then-56 million cable-owning households. (In New York City, Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy was the Master of Ceremonies at the launch party, which was held in the Hayden Planetarium.) The first official broadcast of the Sci-Fi Channel was a sad one, dedicating it to Roddenberry and Asimov, both of whom had died before the Sci-Fi Channel launched. 

The dedication was followed by a nifty little faux news report from the year 2142….

(2) SOUND DECISION? Deadline reports James Earl Jones may be done as the voice of Darth Vader. “James Earl Jones Signs Over Rights To Voice Of Darth Vader, Signalling Retirement From Legendary Role”.

James Earl Jones – one of the most distinctive voices in the history of film – appears to have made steps to step back from voicing the Star Wars character, Darth Vader, after nearly 40 years in the role.

Vanity Fair reports that the actor, aged 91, has signed over the rights to his voice to filmmakers using new AI, technology, Matthew Wood of Lucasfilm told the magazine that the actor “wished to keep Vader alive”

“He had mentioned he was looking into winding down this particular character,” Wood told Vanity Fair. “So how do we move forward?”…

(3) THE HUGO HAS LANDED. It took awhile for Cora Buhlert’s Best Fan Writer Hugo to arrive. So naturally – as fan writers do — she got a good blog post out of it! “2022: A Hugo Odyssey”. However, the ending is not that happy – it arrived with the base broken.

…By Tuesday, there was still no change and no answer to my e-mail either, so I called FedEx Germany customer service and explained my problem.

“Did you order this?” the lady at the other end of the line asked me.

I said, “No, I did not order it, I won it.”

“Are you aware this might be a scam?” the lady asked.

I explained to her that no, it’s not a scam, that the Hugo is a legitimate award and that I won it, that she can google it, if she doesn’t believe me and that I’d really like my trophy now….

(4) TWO STEPS FORWARD, ONE STEP BACK. The new Chengdu Worldcon website, which launched without any reference to who its Guests of Honor are, or even having any, has now progressed to (1) a placeholder graphic and (2) a link to Guests of Honor that only goes to the About page. I think we’re all looking forward to reading what they have to say about Sergey Lunkianenko.

(5) TOMB OF DOOM. Galactic Journey’s Jessica Holmes is tuned in as the 1967 season of Doctor Who begins. “[September 24th, 1967] A Really Cool Story (Doctor Who: Tomb Of The Cybermen)”.

Doctor Who is back for another season, and let me tell you: we’re off to a promising start. The Cybermen are back, we’ve got a new companion, and Patrick Troughton continues to impress in his role. Let’s take a look at Doctor Who in The Tomb Of The Cybermen….

(6) ERIC IDLE IS BACK. Eric Idle told TIME about his experience surviving pancreatic cancer.

About three years ago I was incredibly lucky: I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Lucky? One of the most lethal forms of cancer, how on earth was that lucky? Well, because it was found incredibly early. No, not before lunchtime, but before it had gone anywhere…

The 79-year-old then proved to himself he still has what it takes by participating in costume on The Masked Singer. “The full Monty: Eric Idle talks ‘Masked Singer,’ secret cancer battle, the Rutles, George Harrison, his lost David Bowie/Kate Bush movie, and making Queen Elizabeth II laugh” at Yahoo!

The Hedgehog is among the many absurdist roles that Monty Python’s Eric Idle, who was unmasked this week on The Masked Singer Season 8’s premiere, was perhaps born to play. “The Hedgehog was perfect for me, because I’m prickly, and when I’m attacked, I curl up into a ball,” he jokes to Yahoo Entertainment the day after his big reveal. On the show, Idle actually pointed out that going on The Masked Singer was one of the more normal things he’d ever done in his career, and he tells Yahoo, “Yes, being silly and dressing up in silly animal costumes is not strange to me. When they asked me, and it was out of the blue, I thought, ‘Well, this is in my wheelhouse.’”

But there was a serious reason why the 79-year-old British comedy legend accepted Fox’s invitation: to make a comeback and test himself after his secret, against-all-odds pancreatic cancer battle, and to spread awareness for his new Bright Side Fund partnership with Stand Up to Cancer. Idle revealed the news about his 2019 diagnosis shortly after his Masked Singer episode aired.

Below, Idle discusses his cancer recovery; how he convinced Paul McCartney to let him cover “Love Me Do” on The Masked Singer despite the Beatle’s previous grudge over Idle’s Fab Four parody band the Rutles…

(7) SNAPE SNIPES. “Alan Rickman’s secret showbiz diaries: the late actor on Harry Potter, politics and what he really thought of his co-stars”:  the Guardian has excerpts.

2001

4 November
HARRY POTTER PREMIERE.
6.30pm The film should only be seen on a big screen. It acquires a scale and depth that matches the hideous score by John Williams. Party afterwards at the Savoy is much more fun….

2004

23 May
NEW YORK.
4pm Harry Potter 3. World Premiere.

Arriving at Radio City was like being a Beatle. Thousands of fans screamed as we got out of cars. Mostly for Daniel Radcliffe but a rush for everyone. Not to mention walking out on to the stage to 6,000.

Alfonso has done an extraordinary job. It is a very grown-up movie, so full of daring that it made me smile and smile. Every frame of it is the work of an artist and storyteller. Stunning effects that are somehow part of the life of the film, not show-off stunts. Later back to the hotel w. Ariel Dorfman, who takes egomania to utterly charming heights. He just loves being him…

2007

20 July
[PUBLICATION DAY OF THE LAST HARRY POTTER.]
11.15pm Tunbridge Wells and Waterstones. I had guessed at 20 or 30 people waiting for midnight. Probably 300-400. And a queue moving slowly. One hour in the queue and it was time for action. Went to friendly security man. “Have you read the books?” No. “Have you seen the films?” One of them. “I’m in them.” Oh yes! There will be mayhem if I go into the queue. “I’ll get the manager.”

(Manager arrives.) “Oh! Hello!”

(8) A SLAP IN THE FACE OF OUTER SPACE. Zapf.punkt #15, edited by Filer Mlex, reviews the French science fiction novel, Metro to Hell (1962), by Validimir Volkoff, which features half-human zombies called Necrozones.

Then there’s a brief tour of the British paperback houses: Consul, Corgi, and Compact, in a review of Steve Holland’s Mushroom Jungle: A history of postwar paperback publishing (1993)

(9) LOUISE FLETCHER (1934-2022). Actress Louise Fletcher died September 23. She won an Oscar as Nurse Ratched, but she also played Bajoran religious leader Kai Winn Adami for 14 episodes of Deep Space Nine, and had appearances Invaders from Mars and the Ray Bradbury Theater.

… “I knew from the movies,” she would say, “that I wouldn’t have to stay in Birmingham and be like everyone else.”

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1995 [By Cat Eldridge.] So what’s the best televised SF series ever done? Max Headroom? Farscape? Babylon 5? The original Trek? May I put in a vote for a series that lasted just one season twenty-seven years ago? That would be of course Space: Above And Beyond. A series with strong overtones of Robert Heinlein in it.

It was created and written by Glen Morgan and James Wong who would collectively write many of the X-Files scripts.

It originally had been planned as a five season story, but only ran for one season, due largely to low ratings. The cast, I submit, of Lanei Chapman, Kristen Cloke, Joel de la Fuente, James Morrison (sexiest actor alive I say), Rodney Rowland  and Morgan Weisser was absolutely stunning in their roles as members of the United States Marine Corps 58th Squadron of the Space Aviator Cavalry fighting the methane breathing Chigs.

Trivia: though humanoid, they were named after a species of fleas. 

Just in case there’s a soul here who’s not seen it yet though I find that extremely unlikely, I’ll not do spoilers at all. It’s perhaps the best depiction of a military campaign in space that we are likely to see. Think of it as the complete and absolute antithesis of Starship Troopers. No breasts in the showers here. No almost Nazi references. No hotshot pilots. 

It ran a mere twenty-three episodes, and depending on your viewpoint, wrapped its storyline, or didn’t. The writers certainly thought they did. I’ve actually heard it argued both ways by its fans. 

The producers have said it is not Starship Troopers that was their main influence but rather was The Forever War. (Good choice I say. A stellar book that very much deserved the Hugo it won at MidAmeriCon.)

Interesting note: if the sound effects later sound familiar to you, it was because they were reused on Futurama.

It’s not apparently streaming anywhere.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 24, 1922 Bert Ira Gordon, 100. He not only wrote but directed such films as Serpent IslandKing DinosaurThe Amazing Colossal ManEarth vs. the SpiderVillage of the Giants and Empire of the Ants. Forrest J Ackerman nicknamed him “Mr. B.I.G.” a reference to both his initials and his films’ tendency to feature super-sized creatures.
  • Born September 24, 1934 John Brunner. My favorite works by him? The Shockwave RiderStand on Zanzibar which won a Hugo at St. Louiscon and The Sheep Look Up. I’m also fond of The Squares of The City which was nominated for a Hugo at Tricon. That was easy. What’s your favorite works by him? (Died 1995.)
  • Born September 24, 1936 Jim Henson. As much as I love The Muppet Show, and I’ve watched every show at least twice, I think The Storyteller is his best work. That’s not to overlook Labyrinth, The Witches and The Dark Crystal and the first two Muppets films which are also excellent. Warning note: the three newest takes done on The Muppets suck beyond belief. Disney should be ashamed. (Died 1990.)
  • Born September 24, 1945 David Drake, 77. Writer with his best-known solo work being the Hammer’s Slammers series of military science fiction. He has also written the Royal Cinnabar Navy series which are space operas inspired by the Aubrey–Maturin novels. He has also drafted story ideas that were then finished off by co-authors such as Karl Edward Wagner, S.M. Stirling, and Eric Flint. He’s very, very well stocked at the usual suspects. 
  • Born September 24, 1945 Ian Stewart, 77. Mathematician and writer. He makes the Birthday Honors for the four volumes in The Science of Discworld series he wrote with Jack Cohen and Terry Pratchett. It was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000. Each of the books alternates between the usually absurd Discworld story and serious scientific exposition. (All four volumes are available from the usual suspects.) He would write a number of genre novels, none of which I’m familiar with. Anybody here read his works? 
  • Born September 24, 1951 David Banks, 71. During the Eighties, he was the Cyberleader on Doctor Who in all the stories featuring the Cybermen — Earthshock (Fifth Doctor story), The Five Doctors, Attack of the Cybermen (Sixth Doctor story), and Silver Nemesis (Seventh Doctor story). In 1989, he played the part of Karl the Mercenary in the Doctor Who: The Ultimate Adventure stage play. There were two performances where he appeared as The Doctor as he replaced Jon Pertwee who had fallen ill.
  • Born September 24, 1959 Harriet Walter, 72. I knew I recognized her — she shows up in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as Kalonia, in A Dorothy L. Sayers Mystery as Harriet Vane for the entire run, and the Thirteenth Doctor story, “Revolution of the Daleks” as the Prime Minister. And that’s not mentioning the many appearances on mysteries that she’s made! 
  • Born September 24, 1965 Richard K. Morgan, 57. The Takeshi Kovacs novels are an awesome series which are why I haven’t watched the Netflix series. His fantasy series, A Land Fit For Heroes, is on my TBR, well my To Be Listened To pile now. And yes I read Thin Air, the sequel first and it’s quite excellent. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) BRIDGERTON LITIGATION SETTLED. “Netflix Settles Copyright Suit Over ‘Unofficial Bridgerton Musical’”Variety has the story.

Netflix has settled a copyright lawsuit that it had filed against the creators of “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical.”

The streaming service dismissed the suit on Friday against Emily Bear and Abigail Barlow, the creators of the musical. Though the court filing did not say so, a source confirmed that the suit was in fact settled. The pair had earlier canceled a performance of the musical at Royal Albert Hall in London, which was to take place this week.

Netflix sued in July, alleging that Barlow and Bear had infringed on its copyrights by putting on a for-profit stage show at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The service argued that their conduct “stretches ‘fan fiction’ well past its breaking point.”…

(14) ONCE A KNIGHT. Deadline reports “’Star Wars’ Composer John Williams ‘Knighted By Queen’ In Final Honors”.

Star Wars composer John Williams is reported to have been made one of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s very last knights, with the honor one of the final awards approved by the late monarch before her death a fortnight ago.

British press reports that the veteran composer’s name is on the final list of honorary awards for foreign nationals. 

Ex-Disney chief executive Robert Iger has also reportedly been awarded an honorary KBE for services to UK-US relations…

(15) REWILDING IN FLORIDA. Jeff VanderMeer is interviewed in Audubon. “Best-Selling Author Jeff VanderMeer Finds That Nature Is Stranger Than Fiction”.

…VanderMeer hoped that, one day, native plants and the insects they supported could sustain birds visiting his backyard. In the meantime, he laid out an avian buffet. This included at least three types of seed feeders (hopper, tube, thistle sock), along with suet cakes in squirrel-proof cages and abundant globs of bark butter. The spread attracted dozens of species. There were Pine Siskins and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Yellow-rumped Warblers, which he called “adorblers.” He learned to recognize their calls. VanderMeer noticed that the Blue Jays uttered a certain warning cry if a cat ambled into the ravine. Whenever he heard it, he ran outside to shoo the cat away. He liked to think they were fighting this predator together. “It’s the least I can do for the community,” VanderMeer deadpanned.

… Even without help from his imagination, ShadowVale could be bracingly strange. One morning a raccoon rang his doorbell at 5 a.m. (The glowing buzzer was unusually low to the ground and paw prints revealed the culprit.) Another time the mailman pleaded with him not to eradicate a patch of invasive grass, calling it “Larry” and arguing “he’s been here 10 years longer than you.” (In the spirit of compromise, VanderMeer gave Larry a haircut instead.) On the east side of the house, he sometimes heard a shriek when he plunged his shovel into the dirt. (The former site of a dog run, it was mined with squeaky toys.)

Apart from such oddities, VanderMeer also had neighbors to contend with. Some doused their lawns with pesticides that could leach into the ravine. Others had solar lamps that ran from dusk till dawn, emitting a constant, low-level light pollution that might disorient nocturnal creatures. He worried about the neighbors’ attitudes toward local wildlife; one insisted, somewhat defensively, that an armadillo had “bared its fangs” at his dog. (Around that time, VanderMeer adds, one of two armadillos frequenting the ravine appeared to go missing.)…. 

(16) NORDIC LARP. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster/] In WIRED, Jason Anthony discusses “Nordic LARP,” the Scandinavian variant of LARPs which focuses on recreating realistic events rather than engaging in fantasy adventure. Anthony spent $300 to take part in a weekend “gay conversion camp” where psychologists are supposed to make gay people straight.  One of the “staff psychologists” in the game is revealed to be Swedish sf writer Karin Tidbeck.

Anthony says that while a weekend of “gay conversion” was not meant to be depressing, there’s a variant of Nordic LARP called “misery LARP” where people spend a weekend in a  “concentration camp” or “slave plantation.” “Nordic Larp: My 4 Days in Fake Gay-Conversion Therapy”.

I’m sharing a silly groove with Walker. The slicked-back bob is gone. The polyester suit is packed away, and now it’s pants and a shirt with a genderqueer pride pin. After a while the two of us duck over to the dining hall, where the group congregates around a few cases of Tuborg beer.

Walker’s transformation is dramatic. They are now Karin Tidbeck, an icon of Swedish science fiction who counts the late Ursula K. Le Guin as a fan. Their novel Amatka described a world constantly created and destroyed through language, and I can’t help but think how much that describes Nordic Larp. Tidbeck looks drained but happy, a beer in their hand….

(17) VERY WEIRD VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I have NO idea what this one by John Butler is about.  But there’s a Bradbury reference in it! “The Avant Garde”.

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

New Chengdu Worldcon Website Is Up

The Chengdu Worldcon has opened a beautiful new website:

The website is taking subscriptions for notifications. That worked for me.

The new site has pages with the information and forms for buying memberships; I did not put them to the test, since I already have a membership. (There was no way to sign in using the membership I already paid for, which was not a surprise; mine is part of the group they haven’t counted in yet.)

The current list of committee members and their assignments is here.

There are many departments with updated information. The News section on the Chinese language site (only) includes a detailed article about the successful Chengdu Party held at Chicon 8. Curiously, there is no page about the guests of honor.

[Thanks to Goobergunch for the story.]

What Did We Learn About the Chengdu Worldcon During Chicon 8?

Chengdu Worldcon co-chair Ben Yalow provided some updated information in response to questions posed during the Future Worldcons panel on September 2. With him on the platform were the Vice-Chair, and the Chair of the Chengdu Science Fiction Society (the business entity behind the convention). Yalow fielded most of the questions.  

COVID. Asked “Will we we need to quarantine two weeks to enter China,” Yalow noted that Chengdu had recently gone back into lockdown, and prior to that there had been periods when a 14-day quarantine was in effect, but ultimately he could only say, “Tell me what the pandemic is going to be a year from now and I will tell you what the quarantine situation will be.”

CHENGDU WORLDCON FINANCIAL ISSUES. Several basic questions people have tried to ask on the Chengdu Worldcon Facebook page in recent months – “Why haven’t I heard from the committee since you won?”, “Why isn’t there more information on the website”, “When can I buy a new membership?” – at first seem to be about different topics, however, the answers all come back to the committee’s trouble in figuring out how to open accounts in the U.S. where they can hold their money and do credit card transactions. That is affecting how memberships are being handled, delaying the installation of a new website, and keeping new people from joining.

When Chengdu won the 2023 site selection vote last December, it was reported that 2,915 valid votes were cast, and a further 917 tokens were sold for which no matching ballots were received. According to DisCon III, they are still holding $180,253.50 of site selection fees in escrow for the winner. 

However, the Chengdu Worldcon committee’s financial report to the Chicon 8 Business Meeting showed they are only counting 1,305 domestic (Chinese) memberships. An accounting footnote says: “Until the voting fees are transferred, we are not showing those memberships in the totals. However, everyone who purchased an advance supporting membership in Chengdu (voting token at DisCon III), or who voted at DisCon III, is already a full attending member, with all WSFS rights of Chengdu Worldcon 2023.”

At the Future Worldcons panel Yalow said they have been trying to find workarounds for the restrictions on sending money to China. He did not explain what those restrictions are. Right now the funds are in an account held by a US tax-exempt entity, the corporation that ran DisCon III. And the plan is for the money to be transferred to a new Wyoming (U.S.) corporation.  

Yalow told the audience, “We have finished setting up the corporation. We received our certificate of incorporation about a week ago.” They now have to pass corporate resolutions, open corporate bank accounts, and apply to credit card companies to take credit card purchases of memberships. “We believe this process should take a few more weeks.”

An entirely new website is being developed to handle the transactions. He said the beta version is ready.

“Until we are able to deal with the credit card situation we can’t turn on those functions in the website. We don’t know for sure, but probably within the next few weeks.”

He also said they have found a way to pair with WeChat, which works in China but most people “here” don’t have it.

PROGRESS REPORTS. Yalow said there was a draft of Progress Report #1 being worked on that he thought would be ready “within another few days.” All of their Progress Reports will be published electronically.

VENUE. Asked about the cost of hotel rooms at the Chengdu Worldcon’s venue, Yalow said they would cost “a few hundred dollars at the headquarters hotel.” There are cheaper places around the city, and the convention location is on the mass transit system (and much of the signage there is bilingual).

VIRTUAL WORLDCON. Yalow said there will be fully virtual memberships. They have not yet taken a platform and until they have one in place they won’t know how different or similar the experience will be (presumably a comparison to what it has been in past virtual Worldcon presentations). Yalow said there are “substantial limits on what technology will and won’t allow, but we will do our best to work around those.”

SERGEY LUKIANENKO. Someone asked will they retain Sergey Lukianenko as a guest of honor. “Yes,” was Yalow’s one-word answer.

The question was probably asked with awareness of the resolution before the Business Meeting condemning “Sergey Lukianenko’s appalling utterances, calling Ukrainians Nazis and encouraging an illegal invasion of Ukraine.” The day following the Future Worldcons panel, the WSFS Business Meeting voted to adopt the resolution.

Update 09/06/2022: The new Chengdu Worldcon website launched today. See “New Chengdu Worldcon Website Is Up”.

Pixel Scroll 9/5/22 Boosterspice Fields Forever

(1) CHICON 8 MEMBERSHIP NUMBERS. Chicon 8 drew 3,574 warm bodies (494 at door). Another 947 watched at least one hour of virtual programming. There were ~6,500 total members of all types. (Numbers via KevinStandlee.)

(2) WORLDCON MASQUERADE PHOTOS. Chicon 8 posted a rich gallery of photos: “Masquerade! Astounding Faces on Parade!” Includes notes on the award winners, including Best in Show, Arwen’s Lament presented by Rae Lundquist and company. (Which also won “Excellence in Workmanship for Hobbit Feet”.)

(3) CLOSING CEREMONIES. Thanks to Kevin Standlee who encouraged me to run any of his posts and photos.

The 2023 Chengdu Worldcon leadership:

The Chengdu Worldcon committee singing to the Closing Ceremonies audience.

(4) HE WAS A WALKING WORLDCON HIGHLIGHT. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki shared some general comments about being able to achieve his trip to Chicon 8, and the Hugo acceptance speech he didn’t get to give. Lots of photos, too! Thread starts here. (Full text of the speech is on Facebook.)

And there’s a photo of another heartwarming moment on Lezli Robyn’s Facebook page here of Ekpeki being “gifted an iPad and keyboard, for all the future masterpieces he will write.” Robyn added in comments, “It was not from us! But I was the messenger/organizer.” So I don’t know who gave it to him.

(5) CONGRATULATIONS, HUGO WINNER. When Cora Buhlert sent these photos of her Hugo outfit last night she was about to practice her speech again. Now we know – the extra rehearsal was worth it!

(6) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Lincoln Michel contests a recent meme: “No, Most Books Don’t Sell Only a Dozen Copies”. After dissecting the premises of how sales are measured, Michel offers some conclusions.

…In terms of the dozen copies statistic, I can’t evaluate it because it is unclear what it’s referring to. Fifty-eight thousand books is more books than PRH publishes in a given year, but far less than their entire backlist. Is 58k all new books published with an ISBN, including self-published books? Is it something else? I really don’t know and none of the publishing professionals I follow seem to know either. (Editing to add: Jane Friedman, who posted this number originally on Instagram, noted there was no source given in testimony. Friedman gives her own guess in the comments.)

In my experience, and with the data I’ve seen, most traditionally published novels that you see on bookstore shelves or reviewed in newspapers sell several hundred to a few thousand copies across formats. Many sell much more of course. I’ve seen some flops that sold only a couple hundred. And of course not all traditionally published novels appear in bookstores or reviewed in newspapers. Is it possible someone has published a Big 5 novel that sold only 12 copies over its lifetime? I suppose. But I don’t think it’s 5% much less 50%!…

(7) SHARED UNIVERSE. Wole Talabi tells Guardian readers: “Out of this world: why we created the first collaborative African fantasy universe”. (See the list of members of the Sauúti Collective at the link.)

Creative writing can be a lonely business. As writers, we inhabit whole worlds and characters that live only in our heads for days or years, as we deposit them on the page. This is particularly true for speculative fiction – an umbrella genre of stories that involve supernatural or futuristic elements, or settings that are not the real world.

This creative loneliness is why I’ve always admired the concept of a “shared world” – a fictional setting with its own set of rules where multiple authors can create stories. Some examples are Thieves’ World, edited by Robert Lynn Asprin, or George RR Martin’s Wild Cards (which spawned dozens of books, comics and games, and was optioned for film and TV).

Because writers use the same settings, characters and concepts of the shared world in a connected way, they are in conversation with each other, as a community in the act of creation.

As a speculative fiction author from Africa, where recognition for the genre is growing and community is an important part of the culture, I’ve long wanted to be able to do this with my contemporaries – create together. Not only with other African authors but with the greater African diaspora.

That’s why, working with Fabrice Guerrier, a Haitian-American author and founder of Syllble, a production house based in Los Angeles, and the Nigeria-based magazine Brittle Paper, I sought out a group of like-minded volunteer authors from five African countries to form the Sauúti Collective.

Together we have created Sauúti – a unique shared world for and by Africans and the African diaspora….

(8) MEMORY LANE.  

1967 [By Cat Eldridge.] Alan Garner’s The Owl Service (1967)

It all begins with the scratching in the ceiling. From the moment Alison discovers the dinner service in the attic, with its curious pattern of floral owls, a chain of events is set in progress that is to affect everybody’s lives. — Alan Garner’s The Own Service

Yes, I do have favorite novels as you already know and Alan Garner’s The Owl Service which came out fifty-five years ago is one of them. I think of it as an Autumnal work so it being September, I decided to take a look at it. So here we are.

The Owl Service is supposedly a young adult novel, however, it is much, much more than that. Set in modern Wales, it is an adaptation of the story of the Welsh myth concerning the woman Blodeuwed who becomes an owl — equally made of feathers and claws. It was, as Garner has said, an “expression of that myth”. 

In his version, three teenagers visiting a Welsh estate find themselves re-enacting the story by the two boys both being bitter rivals for the girl who came with them to the estate. They awaken the legend by finding a dinner service with an owl pattern, hence the title of the novel.

It is a novel filled with myth come to life with characters, both the children and the adults, being fully realized. It wasn’t his first novel as he’d written three novels previously (The Weirdstone of BrisingamenThe Moon of Gomrath and Elidor) but of all works he’s done, it’s my favorite still. It’s not his most complex, that honor goes to Boneland which is a sequel to The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath.

The Owl Service was made into a Granada Television series in 1969. If you live in the U.K., it’s available on DVD.  It was BBC Radio 4 series in 2000. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 5, 1914 Stuart Freeborn. If you’ve seen Yoda, and of course you have, this is the man who designed it, partly based on his own face. Besides being the makeup supervisor and creature design on the original Star Wars trilogy, he did makeup on The OmenDr. Strangelove2001: A Space Odyssey and all four of the Christopher Reeve-fronted Superman films. (Died 2013.)
  • Born September 5, 1936 Rhae Andrece and Alyce Andrece. They played twin androids in I, Mudd, a classic Trek episode. (And really their only significant role.) Both appeared as policewomen in “Nora Clavicle and the Ladies’ Crime Club” on Batman. That’s their only genre other appearance. They appeared together in the same seven shows. (Died 2009 and 2005, respectively.)
  • Born September 5, 1939 George Lazenby, 83. He is best remembered for being James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Genre wise, he also played Jor-El on Superboy and was a Bond like character named JB in the Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. film. 
  • Born September 5, 1940 Raquel Welch, 82. Fantastic Voyage was her first genre film, and her second was One Million Years B.C. (well, it wasn’t exactly a documentary) where she starred in a leather bikini, both released in 1966. She was charming in The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers. She has one-offs in BewitchedSabrina the Teenage WitchThe Muppet ShowLois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanHappily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child and Mork & Mindy
  • Born September 5, 1946 Freddie Mercury. Now you know who he was and you’re saying that you don’t remember any genre roles by him. Well there weren’t alas. Oh, Queen had one magnificent role in the 1980 Flash Gordon film starring Sam J. Jones, a film that has a seventy percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. But I digress as only cats can do. (Prrrr.) Queen provided the musical score featuring orchestral sections by Howard Blake. Most of Blake’s score was not used. Freddie also composed the music for the first Highlander film. And Freddie was a very serious SJW. He cared for at least ten cats throughout his life, including Delilah, Dorothy, Goliath, Jerry, Lily, Miko, Oscar, Romeo, Tiffany and Tom. He was adamantly against the inbreeding of cats and all of them except for Lily and Tiffany, both given to him as gifts, were adopted from the Blue Cross. (Died 1991.)
  • Born September 5, 1964 Stephen Greenhorn, 58. Scriptwriter who has written two episodes for Doctor Who: “The Lazarus Experiment” and “The Doctor’s Daughter”, both Tenth Doctor stories. He wrote one episode of Around the World in 80 Days, reuniting him with David Tennant. He also wrote Marchlands, a supernatural series with Doctor Who’s Alex Kingston
  • Born September 5, 1973 Rose McGowan, 49. Best known as Paige Matthews on Charmed. She played two different roles in the Grindhouse franchise, Cherry Darling in Planet Terror and Pam in Death Proof. She was Miss Kitty in Monkeybone, a very weird film indeed.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) ARCANE. Boing Boing points out that “Arcane is the first streaming show to win the Emmy for best animated program”.

…The aforementioned Arcane from Netflix was the talk of the town last year, earning heaps of praise from fans and critics. Now the series can add Emmy award winner to its growing list of accolades. The win marks the first time an animated show from a streaming service snagged the award….

(12) KERFUFFLES OF POWER. Stuart Heritage of the Guardian wouldn’t want you to miss any: “The backlash to rule them all? Every controversy about The Rings of Power so far”. What, only six?

It’s hard to know exactly what to make of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power so far, for several reasons. The series has veered wildly in quality, with its second episode a vast improvement on its stunning but directionless pilot. It’s hard, too, to crosscheck with the source material, given that the entire shebang is cobbled together from a bunch of Tolkien’s appendices.

But the main reason why it’s difficult to form a consensus is the internet. Even more so than usual, it is being especially internetty about The Rings of Power, churning up no end of controversies about it in service to the discourse. Here’s a quick compendium of what we’ve all endured so far….

(13) HUGO LOSERS TROPHY. Camestros Felapton had an artificial intelligence art program help him gin up a trophy for those who didn’t win last night. Image at the link. “For those who need it today”.

(14) PHOTOS FROM JAMES BACON’S PRESENTATION AT CHICON 8. Including the badge ribbons distributed to support Ukraine fandom.

(15) TAMMY’S TASTING AT CHICON 8. Tammy Coxen serves Ukraine-themed drinks.

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

Chengdu Worldcon 2023 Redirects Passalong Funds to Support Chicon 8

Chicon 8, the 2022 World Science Fiction Convention, and Chengdu Worldcon 2023, the 2023 World Science Fiction Convention, are delighted to announce that Chengdu has redirected over $57,000 of its Passalong entitlement to support Chicon 8 as Worldcon continues to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chicon 8 has already received over $113,000 of Passalong from its three predecessors (Dublin in 2019CoNZealand 2020, and Discon III [2021]), as well as $15,000 of CoNZealand Passalong that Discon III redirected to Chicon. In addition, Chicon 8 has received grants of $5,000 each from the previous Worldcons of 2012 (Chicon 7) and 2018 (Worldcon 76).

In total Chicon 8 is therefore being supported by the Worldcon community with over $195,000 of funding (nearly 20% of its total budget of $1.1m).

According to Helen Montgomery, Chair of Chicon 8, “We are enormously grateful for the support we have received from past and future Worldcons, and in particular for this unique gesture by Chengdu Worldcon 2023. As with so many events, Worldcon attendance has been significantly impacted by Covid-19, and this has inevitably made budgeting that much more challenging. While our expected on-site attendance of over 4,000 people shows a strong recovery, it is still some 1,000 less than we would normally expect for a Chicago Worldcon.”

Montgomery continued, “It is only through this exceptional level of community support that we are able to deliver the full Worldcon experience that our members have missed over the last three years. We have over 600 program items featuring over 700 program participants, along with 50 Dealers in our Dealers’ Room and 70 Artists in our Art Show. And we know how much our attendees are looking forward to seeing friends who they have missed over the last three years”.

Speaking on behalf of Chengdu Worldcon 2023, Co-Chair Ben Yalow said “While this may be the first Worldcon in China, Chengdu Worldcon 2023 very much sees itself as part of the Worldcon family. The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted every country around the world, and we are delighted to do our part to ensure that the Worldcon institution recovers and thrives as it approaches its 85th year.”

About the Passalong Program. Under Passalong, Worldcons commit to pass a minimum of 50% of any surplus forward to their three immediate successors, subject to those conventions also joining the program. Given that every Worldcon is a financially separate entity, Passalong plays an important role in reducing the financial risk for each event and enables committees to plan with confidence.

[Based on a press release.]

Chengdu Worldcon Committee Names Yalow as Co-Chair; Adds Overseas Staffers

The 2023 Chengdu Worldcon committee tweeted April 24 that it has named Ben Yalow one of three co-chairs of the convention. They have also appointed Dave McCarty, Donald Eastlake III, Randall Shepherd as Vice-Chairs.

 In addition, Bill Lawhorn has become a co-division-head.

A number of other overseas fans – Colette Fozard, Nicholas Whyte, Tammy Coxen, Pablo Vazquez, and Dave McCarty – were previously announced as part of the committee in a handout distributed at the DisCon III business meeting.

Here is the committee’s latest organization chart:

CO-CHAIRS

Ben Yalow, Hongwei He, Chen Shi

HONORARY CO-CHAIR

Haijun Yao, Xiaolan Liang

VICE CHAIR

Tong Xia, Yating Wang, Yao Chen, He Huang, Feng Yang, Zhenyu Jiang, Yue Sun, Zi La, Dave McCarty, Donald Eastlake, Randall Shepherd

ADVISER

Colette Fozard, Nicholas Whyte

INTEGRATED PLANNING AND COORDINATION DIVISION

Division Head: Yating Wang, Bill Lawhorn

ARTISTIC DESIGN DIVISION

Division Head: Yue Sun

MARKETING DEVELOPMENT AND BRAND BUILDING DIVISION

Division Head: Yuxi Tan

PUBLIC RELATIONSHIP DIVISION

Division Head: Tong Xia

MEMBER SERVICES DIVISION

Division Head: Yao Chen

TRANSLATION SERVICES WORKING DIVISION

Division Head: Shuang Liang

HUGO AWARD SELECTION EXECUTIVE DIVISION

Division Head: Zhengyu Jiang, Dave McCarty

BUSINESS MEETING EXECUTIVE DIVISION

Division Head: Xue Yao

2025 CONVENTION SITE SELECTION IMPLEMENTATION DIVISION

Division Head: Chi Yao

EVENT OPERATIONS DIVISION

Division Head: Liu Yang

PUBLICITY DIVISION

Division Head: He Huang

NORTH AMERICA, EAST ASIA, EUROPE AGENT

Division Head: Feng Yang

CONVENTION SERVICE DIVISION

Division Head: TBA

Many of the overseas committee members were part of the international array of visiting writers and Worldcon runners who attended the 5th China (Chengdu) International Science Fiction Conference in 2019, including then-DisCon III co-chairs Colette Fozard and William Lawhorn, then-Chicago bid co-chair Dave McCarty, plus Ben Yalow, and Pablo M.A Vazquez who was there as a winner of the Shimmer Program’s Two-Way Exchange Fund.

Below is the handout distributed in December.

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh for the story.]

Chengdu Worldcon Publishes Q&As to Explain Their Membership and Admission Structure

The 2023 Chengdu Worldcon committee has updated its membership rate chart and posted a set of Q&A’s to clarify their original announcement made earlier this month.

The official channel to buy memberships will open in May (right now the website is not taking them).

The revised rate chart is below. (Click for larger image.)

The text of the Q&A’s follows.

Q: What is special for the fees plan of 2023 Chengdu Worldcon?

A: We have set up a pre-packaged five-day on-site admission pass bundle, which does not include WSFS MEMBERSHIP rights (Hugo nominating/voting, site selection voting). It is not a full ATTENDING MEMBERSHIP. This is designed mainly to attract more young fans from our local community who are not familiar with Worldcon system but enthusiastic about science fiction and fantasy genre. You can also consider it as an introduction gateway to the Worldcon community. We will be offering Single-Day Admission passes next year, starting from July 1st, 2023.

Q: Is WSFS Membership required to buy the in-person five-day admission package?

A: No, WSFS membership is not a requirement to buy the in-person admission package, but if you buy both, you’ll be given a full ATTENDING MEMBERSHIP.

The same applies to Online Admission. Just remember, to “attend Worldcon activities” with an “admission” does not grant you WSFS rights or ATTENDING MEMBERSHIP status.

Q: How to upgrade to a WSFS MEMBERSHIP?

A: If you bought a 2023 Advance Supporting Membership from DC3, you don’t have to do anything to upgrade. Not matter you voted or not for the 2023 Site Selection, no matter which city you voted, you automatically have WSFS MEMBERSHIP, and you have been given a full ATTENDING MEMBERSHIP for free, both in-person and online attending.

Q: What rights do people who voted for Site Selection at DisCon III have?

A: People who voted for Site Selection at DisCon III, including people voted on-site without a DC token, have been given WSFS membership plus In-person Admission.

Q: What rights do people who bought 2023 advance Supporting Memberships but didn’t vote?

A: The same rights as people who voted, WSFS membership plus In-person Admission.

Q: The above situations do not apply to me. How to obtain a full ATTENDING MEMBERSHIP?

A: If you are a first time Worldcon attendee in 2023, you need to pay $50 to obtain a WSFS MEMBERSHIP, and pay another $50 to obtain the IN-PERSON FIVE-DAY ADMISSION. So you will need to pay $100 to have full ATTENDING MEMBERSHIP.

If you are NOT a first-timer, WSFS rate is $50, and the five-day admission is $70. So you will pay a total of $120 to have ATTENDING MEMBERSHIP.

If you are a student, 12-year-old to the end of postgraduate studies, with a valid student ID, you can get the student discount. Student ID will be required when purchasing and picking up your badge. If you are also a first time attendee, then the student discount fits you better, which is $50 for WSFS MEMBERSHIP, and $30 for the admission package.

Q: Who are eligible for the First Worldcon discount?

A: The First Worldcon discount is for adults who have not attended any Worldcon in person before. Note that if you only had a Supporting Membership in DC (or another) Worldcon, you are still eligible for the First Worldcon discount.

Q: If I want to take part in Site Selection for 2025 Worldcon, what will be the requirement?

A: You will need to buy an Advance Supporting Membership in 2025. This will likely be about $50. We will announce it later according to the WSFS Constitution.

Q: What are your other discount packages?

A: Children ages 0-11 can attend for Free. This admission has no voting rights. And childcare hours are not included.

Family discount, discount for people with access requirements, coupon for flight over 3000 km, and other discount programs will be announced later.

Q: If I bought In-Person Admission package, can I still attend the convention online?

A: Yes. The in-person admission package will also allow the holder to attend the convention online.

Q: What are included with a WSFS Membership?

A: Being a WSFS member of the Worldcon gives you the right to participate in the ongoing WSFS activities of the Worldcon. So, the WSFS MEMBERSHIP rights include:

1) The Hugo Awards nomination in 2023 Worldcon and 2024 Worldcon;

2) The Hugo Awards voting in 2023;

3) 2023 Chengdu Worldcon Business Meeting voting rights (on-site);

4) Opportunity to purchase Advanced Membership to vote in 2023 Chengdu Worldcon for 2025 site selection.

The fact that you have read through this whole thing means you are a real fan! So if you still have questions, please let us know!

NOTES:

  1. The currency is in US dollars.
  2. Major credit cards will be accepted.
  3. For Full ATTENDING MEMBERSHIP status, you need to combine a WSFS MEMBERSHIP and one choice of admission rights.

Chengdu Worldcon Posts Membership Rates

The 2023 Worldcon committee announced today its official name in English is Chengdu Worldcon, after the city in China where the convention will be held from August 16-20, 2023.

The official channel to buy memberships will open in May (right now the website is not taking them), and major credit cards will be accepted. At that time they also will announce staff and volunteer opportunities.

The Chengdu Worldcon Facebook page has added a chart with membership rates, accompanied by this statement:  

The chart shows a lot of rates for attending and supporting Chengdu Worldcon — what do they all mean?

In reading the columns, note that when we refer to having a DC token, this describes anyone who voted in Site Selection at DisCon III, or who purchased a voting token and did not vote.

The first row represents a Supporting membership. That carries all of the voting rights that the WSFS rules, under which the Worldcon operates, gives to members of the convention. Those rights include the right to nominate and vote on the final ballot for the Hugo Awards which will be given out at Chengdu Worldcon, and the right to nominate (but not to vote on the final ballot) for the 2024 Worldcon’s Hugo Award. We don’t know where that Worldcon will be held, yet. It will be voted on at the 2022 Worldcon, in Chicago. In addition, Supporting members can buy the right to vote in the 2025 Site Selection, by buying a token for $50 which will give them a Supporting membership in the 2025 Worldcon, wherever it is held.

If you voted in DC (for any candidate), or bought a voting token but didn’t vote, you already have a Supporting membership according to the WSFS rules, with the full set of voting and nominating rights. And, for those who have a supporting because of voting/buying a token in DC, we will upgrade you for free to a full attending membership, and you need to take no other action.

For anyone newly purchasing, we are selling the right to attend the convention, either as a full convention admission pass, or as an attending membership with full voting rights. The price difference between the two will always be $50 – the price of a Supporting membership. If you only wish to attend, but not vote, you can buy the admission pass, but, if you want to vote, and don’t already have a Supporting membership, you can buy an attending membership. So if you already have a Supporting membership by buying one between now and the convention, and later decide that you want to attend, the prices will be $50 less than the attending membership price at the time when you convert.

The basic cost for an attending membership is $120. This will give admission to the convention, and a full set of voting rights. Again, remember that if you already bought a Supporting, then the price is only $70 to convert your Supporting membership to an attending membership. And, if you don’t want to get voting rights, then the full convention admission is $70, since you’re not buying the voting rights piece.

We are offering several discounts. The first is that for people who have not attended a Worldcon in person before, we are offering a $20 discount, so a full attending membership costs $100 ($50 if you already have a Supporting), or $50 if you want an admission without voting rights. Note that if you had a supporting membership in DC (or another Worldcon) that doesn’t make you ineligible for the First Worldcon discount; you are only ineligible if you attended another Worldcon.

The second discount is that students, with student ID (we will check when you pick up your badge), get a $40 discount (which can’t be combined with the First Worldcon discount). So a student can get an admission for $30 without voting rights (or with voting rights if they already had bought a Supporting), or $80 if they want voting rights as well as admission.

Finally, Children aged 0-11 at the time of the convention can attend for free. This admission has no voting rights.

These rates will be good until at least Sept 30, 11:59pm, Chengdu time. We may raise the rates after that, but have not decided whether we will do so.

A second post on their Facebook page concludes with this message:

…Being a first time Worldcon runner, our team strives to provide to our members as best as we can a unique and fulfilling con-going experience, following the WSFS Constitution, the SFWA’s mission guidelines, as well as local laws, to ensure a safe, colorful, and culturally diversified Worldcon. Currently we are working diligently to finalize more funding resources, more experienced talents, and most importantly, more enthusiastic fans, to join our endeavor, as we are putting efforts to integrate our own local experiences with the Worldcon tradition.

Sorry folks for this delayed updating! Please keep communicating with us. Our information address is chengduworldcon2023@gmail.com

Staff vacancies and volunteer opportunities will be announced in May. We are looking for more volunteers to join us in putting on the Chengdu Worldcon. At chengduworldcon2023@gmail.com, we will open a volunteer channel soon for people who are interested in volunteering to help. We have already received many inquiries on this matter. Sorry for the slow updating. But we will get there.

Thanks all (for the support as always, and for the patience)!

Stay safe and be well!

Pray for peace.