Pixel Scroll 3/5/22 Who Had The Decaffinated Pixel With Extra Space Goo?

(1) HUGO NOMINATING DEADLINE IS MARCH 15. There are ten days left to submit a Hugo nominating ballot. Those eligible to vote are the members of DisCon III and members of Chicon 8 who registered by January 31, 2022. More information at the link.

(2) CROWDFUNDING WISDOM. Tansy Rayner Roberts sums up what she’s been “Tweeting about That Sanderson Kickstarter” in a free Patreon post. Many interesting insights. Here are a few of them.

…When Kickstarter (and book Kickstarter in particular) was just starting out, those of us looking to run projects were hungry for crowdfunding advice. A lot of it didn’t even apply to publishing, because we’ve always been seen as a tiny fraction of what crowdfunding is for.

And what advice we got, we used. What we learned, we shared. Here’s a really useful bit of Kickstarter advice that I, and Twelfth Planet Press, and other publishing-crowdfunding friends have often shared: you have to have a big ticket item at the top. Something cool & exclusive.

You don’t want to rely on one person shelling out $500 or $1000 for your little publishing Kickstarter, but you want to give them the option. Having something awesome and ambitious at the top end makes everyone excited about the project, EVEN IF IT NEVER FILLS UP.

Sanderson’s top tier is $500. (Last time I had a $500 tier on a Kickstarter I hand-made a quilt) It’s an all formats extravaganza — 4 hardcovers, ebooks, audiobooks, plus the 8 swag boxes. And over 10,000 people have pledged to it.  TEN THOUSAND.

This is where Sanderson’s Kickstarter is groundbreaking — not just in the numbers it’s attracted, but in the average pledge pulled in from those fans….

… Isn’t is cool that Kickstarter is newsworthy again??? Feels like forever since there’s been a huge positive creator success story, and that it’s a BOOK project makes it even better. In the 2 hours or so since I started this tweet thread, they made another million $. FOR BOOKS.

(3) HECK OFF. But if you’d prefer to shame Sanderson for his success, in the true postmodern sff way, Slate can direct you to those resources: “Brandon Sanderson Kickstarter criticism: why writers are upset about his record-setting campaign”.

… More recently, critics of the industry have demanded that publishers invest in more titles by authors of diverse identities. Since Sanderson’s Kickstarter made headlines, there’s been, unsurprisingly, some grousing on social media about whether such an already commercially successful author needs that kind of money….

(4) BEHIND THE SCREAMS. Ellen Datlow is a guest on Episode 13 of the Let the Cat In podcast, “Herman”, hosted by Canberra-based authors Kaaron Warren, Aaron Dries and J. Ashley-Smith.

The Cat gets technical as unparalleled horror editor Ellen Datlow joins the show from NYC, bringing behind-the-scenes insights into the conceptualising, compiling, editing and introduction of her (then) latest anthology, Screams From The Dark. While Joseph gets lost in a Borgesian labyrinth of shoes, Kaaron discovers the smells of the past, and Aaron takes a drubbing for his failure to correctly identify an alpaca. Ellen endorses cannibalism (of one’s own stories) and shares anecdotes from her time in Tehachapi Prison. The heart of a story is discussed, as are stories that never quite translate to the page. Also sparks, themes, and those horrible fuck ups, the Greek gods. While the viability of various shoes (and their stories) is considered, Jack the Jerk lurks on the couch.

(5) WHAT KIDS ARE READING ANNUAL REPORT. There’s a lot in the news about politicians’ efforts to control the shelves of school libraries. So if you wonder about what kids are reading, every year, the edtech company Renaissance Learning issues a comprehensive “What Kids Are Reading” report. Frank Catalano tweeted the 5th and 10th grade graphics from their results.

Go here to download the 52-page report: What Kids Are Reading–2022. Read the news release here: “Renaissance Shares Findings of World’s Largest Annual K–12 Reading Survey” (it doesn’t highlight the science fiction/fantasy titles).

…Each year, the WKAR report lists the most popular books at every grade level, and also provides new understanding of K–12 students’ reading practice. The report is uniquely illuminating because it draws from two Renaissance programs: Accelerated Reader, which records the books students are actually reading, not just buying or checking out from libraries, and myON, which provides students with instant access to thousands of digital titles for online or offline reading.

The 2022 report uses the data of 4.5 million students in 22,749 US schools who read 128 million books, revealing insights into students’ reading comprehension and the characteristics of what they choose to read, such as word count and text difficulty….

(6) LUNAR REAL ESTATE. The Guardian’s Arwa Mahdawi says “Privatising the moon may sound like a crazy idea but the sky’s no limit for avarice”.

…The real money, of course, is not in intergalactic billboards or short space trips: it’s in plundering space for resources. Apparently, the race to privatize the moon is on. Of course, many people who are starry-eyed about space mining would balk at the idea that they’re suffering from the avariceeffect: they’d argue that it’s all for the good of mankind. Take, for example, the forward-thinking folk at the Adam Smith Institute (ASI), an influential thinktank that champions free markets. To achieve peace and prosperity on Earth, we need to sell off pieces of space, “with a particular focus on plots of moon land”, the ASI recently declared in a paper.

What’s the logic behind this? Well, they reckon that, as long as you’re not too bothered by the fact that global inequality contributes to the death of one person every four seconds, per Oxfam, untrammeled capitalism has done the world a lot of good. “Property rights play a key role in boosting living standards, innovation and human dignity here on Earth,” Daniel Pryor, head of research at the Adam Smith Institute, says. “The same would be true if we applied this logic to space, which presents a unique opportunity to start afresh when designing effective rules of ownership.”

This ASI report, titled Space Invaders: Property Rights on the Moon, may seem a little out there but it is very on-brand for the UK-based thinktank….

The fact is, they’re way behind fandom. Get the lowdown from File 770’s 2008 post “Who Owns the Moon?”

…the Bay Area Elves’, Gnomes’ and Little Men’s Science Fiction, Chowder, and Marching Society…, in 1951, filed a claim for mining rights to 2,250 sq. mi. of the Moon. Their claim was widely reported in the media – even by Time magazine….

(7) SFF AND ROMANCE. Clarion West has made available the video of their “Fantastic Intersections: Speculative Fiction and Romance” Zoom panel held January 29.

From the sublime and magical to the stirring and steamy, storylines centering BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ characters are flourishing in the romance and speculative genres. Zen Cho, S. A. (Austin) Chant, C. L. Polk, KJ Charles, and L. Penelope tackle the nuance of building romance into the plot vs. romance as the plot, the role of the HEA or HFN in representation, and the future of the fantastic in romance in this panel moderated by Rashida J. Smith.

(8) UPCOMING CLARION WEST ONLINE CLASSES. There is still space for those interested in one of these classes coming up in the next two weeks. Register at the link.

Worldbuilding is not just an academic exercise separate from character development or plot; discover how your fictional world exerts pressure on your characters and creates opportunities for plot.

Like a god, you get to invent a world. Maybe several. But how do you make worlds that readers want to visit? How do you make worlds that readers never want to leave? Explore how to create unforgettable environments, creatures, and cultures.

Note: While the course is designed from a place of enjoyment of speculative fiction, the strategies discussed are also applicable across varied genres.

How to work and write with intention and purpose

 A one-hour and one-session free class teaching writers the importance of working intentionally on both their craft and career. We’ll cover what it means to work intentionally at something as nebulous as writing; how to connect with our own intentions periodically and during times of conflict; and how to work within the parameters of our intentions in a way that sustains us.

This class will be great for writers of all levels who want to connect with their writing, careers, and stories in a deeper way that aligns more with who they are, what they want, and how they wish to create.

(9) NESFA SHORT STORY CONTEST. The results of the NESFA Short Story Contest 2021-22 were announced at Boskone 59 in February.

  • Honorable Mention: Shira Hereld, of Pennsylvania for the story “What Feels Good”
  • Honorable Mention: Olga Werby of California for the story “Floaters”
  • Honorable Mention: Alex Evans, of France for the story “First Blood”
  • Honorable Mention: M.A. Florin, of Romania for the story “The Last Choice of Isabel”

NESFA’s Past Winners page explains, “based on the number and quality of contest entries, some years have no winners or no honorable mentions.” Contest administrator Steven Lee adds, “Alas, based on the Judging, this year none of the finalist stories were considered outstanding, unlike the last two years.  These four were judged ‘almost.’”

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1954 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Sixty-eight years ago, Creature from the Black Lagoon first cast its horrifying visage upon us. It was produced by William Alland who had produced It Came from Outer Space the previous year and directed by Jack Arnold who had directed the same film. 

It was written by Harry Essex and Arthur Ross. Essex who (surprise) was the screenwriter for It Came from Outer Space. Ross, though, had nothing to do with it, but he did write Satan’s School for Girls which amazingly got remade twice, once as a Shannon Doherty vehicle. 

Creature has a large cast but I’m only really interested in three performers here. The first is Julia Adams who played Kay Lawrence who gets snatched by the Creature from the Black Lagoon aka GillmanAnd the other two are performers that you never saw. Ben Chapman was the Creature for all the on land scenes whereas Ricoh Browning did all the underwater scenes. Ricoh would return for the two sequels, but the Creature was played by Tom Hennesy for the on land scenes in the second film (which Clint Eastwood appears in), and played by Don Megowan for the on land scenes in the third. 

So how was the reception? The Hollywood Reporter review at the time said, “Creature From the Black Lagoon is a good piece of science-fiction of the beauty and the beast school, the beast in this case being a monstrous combination of man and fish. It makes for solid horror-thrill entertainment.”  

A review recently by Empire magazine was equally positive: “Directed by sometimes-inspired journeyman Jack Arnold (The Incredible Shrinking Man), this is one of the best-loved monster movies of the ‘50s.  Whereas many of its rivals drag until the monster shows up and turn ridiculous afterwards, this establishes an atmosphere of unease and magic in the early stretches, as the monster is glimpsed as a 3-D clutching hand accompanied by its memorable blaring theme tune.” The music was composed by Henry Mancini. 

I’ve no idea what the production costs were but the box office was one point three million, not bad for the early Fifties. 

It would spawn two sequels: the 3D Revenge of the Creature and The Creature Walks Among Us. Each of the sequels would return just over just a million at the box office.  Neither of the sequels is considered nearly as great as the first film was. 

The Creature Walks Among Us is considered to be the last film in the Universal Classic Monsters series.

It rates a healthy seventy-four percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. Neither of the sequels cracks thirty percent. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 5, 1907 Martti Löfberg. Finnish author who did some genre novels including Osiriksen Sormus and Viiden minuutin ikuisuu which were both time travel affairs, and his long running newspaper reporter Kid Barrow series has been favorably compared to Tintin. (Died 1969.)
  • Born March 5, 1936 Dean Stockwell. You’ll no doubt best remember him as Al the hologram on Quantum Leap. He had one-offs on Mission ImpossibleThe Night GalleryA Twist in The TaleOrson Welles’ Great Mysteries and The Twilght Zone. His first genre role was in I think The Boy with Green Hair, a 1948 film. It might be fantasy or not as there’s no explanation for the central thesis of the film. Anything I’ve overlooked? (Died 2021.)
  • Born March 5, 1942 Mike Resnick. Damn, losing him hurts. It’s worth noting that he has been nominated for thirty-seven Hugo Awards which is a record for writers and won five times. Somewhat ironically nothing I’ve really enjoyed by him has won those Hugos. The novels making my list are his John Justin Mallory detective novels, The Red Tape War (with Jack L. Chalker & George Alec Effinger, and, yes, it’s not genre, Cat on a Cold Tin Roof. True story: Kristine Kathryn Rusch tells me he’s responsible for her Spade / Paladin series. When I interview her, I intend to ask her why.  (Died 2020.)
  • Born March 5, 1952 Robin Hobb, 70. Whose full legal name is the lovely Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden hence her two pen names. (I think.)  I reasonably sure the first thing I read and enjoyed by her was Wizard of the Pigeons, but The Gypsy with Steven Brust which is now available from the usual suspects was equally enjoyable and had the added bonus of a Boiled in Lead soundtrack. Really it does and Jane Yolen financed it.
  • Born March 5, 1959 Howard V. Hendrix, 63. Empty Cities of the Full Moon is damn impressive as the Labyrinth Key duology. He’s done an amazing amount of quite excellent short fiction, the latest collection being The Girls With Kaleidoscope Eyes: Analog Stories for a Digital Age.
  • Born March 5, 1972 James Moran, 50. Here for his scriptwriting on Doctor Who where he wrote Tenth Doctor story, “The Fires of Pompeii”, Torchwood where he contributed two stories, “Sleeper” about a terrorist attacking on Cardiff whose filming got halted by a terrorist attack on Glasgow, and “Day Three” of  the Children of Earth series. He also wrote some of the episodes for Primeval.
  • Born March 5, 1975 Jolene Blalock, 47. Best known for playing  T’Pol on  Enterprise.  Genre wise, she’s also been in Jason and the Argonauts seriesas Medea, Stargate SG-1 as Ishta, Starship Troopers 3: Marauder as Captain Lola Beck and as the Legend of the Seeker as Sister Nicci.
  • Born March 5, 1989 Jake Lloyd, 33. He portrayed the young Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace. Ok, every fan site I encounter was full of bile his performance. I’ve not seen the film, so tell why these fans were so upset at this actor? Was it because it was a child actor portraying this character? 

(12) RETURN TO THE VOID. [Item by David Doering.] As we zoom past $23 million on Brandon Sanderson’s campaign (!!), there’s more good news from Utah. The Covid-shuttered VR venture “The Void” is relaunching, hurrah! You may recall that their secret sauce was having Tracy Hickman as writer, making it far more engaging than other special effects ladened VR attempts. Let’s cheer them on as well. “VR Arcade Pioneer The VOID is Making a Comeback” at Road to VR.

… As reported by MIXED, it appears pioneering out-of-home VR destination The VOID is getting ready to reopen.

Before The Void closed up shop—or was rather summarily kicked out of its dozen-or-so locations after it defaulted on loans back at the beginning of the pandemic—it was a premiere mixed reality destination that promised a real taste of immersion. Starting back in 2015, it combined warehouse-scale VR and realistic 4D effects that brought to life some of the most well-known franchises worldwide: Ghostbusters, The Avengers, Star Wars, Jumanji, and more.

Due to COVID-19 safety measures, The Void suffered immediate losses in revenue which were further outstripped by its inability to secure additional funding. The company’s last video before its website went dark featured a pop-up in Westfield San Francisco Center… back in April 2020.

Then, nearly a year and a half later, a report by Protocol broke the news that The Void’s patents and trademarks has been acquired by Hyper Reality Partners, a company headed by Adrian Steckel, a previous investor and board member of The Void. At the time, it was reported that Hyper Reality Partners has already raised $20 million to get The Void back on its feet.

Now The Void’s website is back up, with its creators saying that it will include “upgraded VR technology,” and “a flexible platform designed to evolve with the latest in innovation.”

(13) A WHALE OF A SECOND CENTURY TALE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In this video, Austin McConnell explains that Lucian of Samosata invented the space opera in the second century AD.  He explains that back then Romans enjoyed reading travelogues about distant places and debates about philosophical topics, so he decided to make fun of both of them with this tale about a trip to the Moon, a battle between Moon people and Sun people with bonus fighters from the Milky Way and all sorts of creepy imaginary places, including the years Lucian purportedly spent inside a 180 mile-long whale! Of course he called his novel A True Story, and McConnell shows how truly weird this book is–but hey, it’s the first sf novel!

(14) NO, YOU BE ROBIN. Here’s something even more unbelievable. “Inside the never-made ‘Batman’ movie that nearly starred Bill Murray and Eddie Murphy as the Dynamic Duo” at Yahoo!

…But on one of the infinite earths out there in the DC Extended Universe, there’s a planet where Bill Murray and Eddie Murphy played Batman and Robin on the big screen.

Actually… that was very nearly this Earth. In the early 1980s, the late Ivan Reitman planned to cast the Saturday Night Live stars as the Dynamic Duo in a never-made Batman feature film. “I talked to Eddie Murphy about it, and Eddie wanted to play Batman,” Murray tells Yahoo Entertainment in a recent interview for the latest installment in our video series The Never-Weres. “That’s as far as that conversation went.” (Watch the video above.)

If Murphy wanted to be the Caped Crusader so badly, would Murray have willingly taken on the role of Robin? Holy negatory, Batman! “I don’t wanna be the Boy Wonder to anybody,” the Ghostbusters star says. “Maybe much earlier when I was a boy. But it was too late for that by the ’80s. Also, I couldn’t do the outfit. Eddie looks good in purple, and I look good in purple. In red and green, I look like one of Santa’s elves. There was just a lot of vanity involved in the production. It wasn’t gonna happen.”…

(15)  ADAM ROBERTS INTERVIEW. Curtis Brown Creative announces, “We are thrilled that our new six-week online course – Writing Science Fiction  is open for enrolment. The course features exclusive teaching videos, notes and tasks from Adam Roberts.” They follow up with a long Q&A. “Adam Roberts: ‘Science fiction isn’t about accurate prediction, it’s about the eloquence and wonder of our ideas, our imaginings’”

How much do real life technologies impact your fictional writing?

I feel we’ve reached a plateau in terms of the development of new technologies. Remember I’ve lived through the information revolution: I was born before computers were a thing, and now computers interpenetrate shape our lives absolutely. The changes between the 1960s and now have been immense. It’s interesting: the SF of the 1950s assumed the next big leap in human development would be space travel, colonising distant worlds: but they were wrong—the next big leap was computing. I often wonder what the next next big thing will be, and how far it will change our lives and our world. I’ll probably guess wrong: but that doesn’t matter. SF isn’t about accurate prediction, it’s about the eloquence and wonder of our ideas, our imaginings.

(16) BOOKSELLER CONVERGENCE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Waterstones, the only remaining UK bookstore chain (back when I was studying in London, there were three or four bookstore chains) has acquired Blackwell’s, the largest independent bookseller in the UK: “Waterstones acquires Blackwell’s, the UK’s biggest independent bookseller”. Blackwell’s is mainly known for its amazing selection of academic books, though they also have a good SFF section. At any rate, this is sad news, since I fear that Blackwell’s will now be selling more celebrity memoirs and fewer academic books.

…Along with Waterstones’ acquisition of the UK book chain Foyles in 2018, it marks a further contraction in the book retail market.

The acquisition will be viewed by some as a regrettable end to the family ownership of a cherished independent and academic bookseller. To others, it will be heralded as a turbo-boost for real-world bookshops in the battle for dominance with their online rival Amazon.

(17) SFF CRAFT. The Glasgow in 2024 Worldcon bid shares a cool craft project. Crochet the solar system. It’s a wheelchair spoke cover, but it would also make a nice pillow case or doily. “Crochet Solar System Wheelchair Spoke Cover”.

Today I’m sharing a pattern for a crochet wheelchair spoke cover I recently made!

I took a basic pattern for a doily, altered the dimensions slightly and included a sun at the centre. I didn’t want the middle of my crochet piece to be rubbing against the centre of the wheel, so I took rings from old keychains and crocheted around them.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers:  Dying Light 2″ Fandom Games says this video game is filled with parkour to “recreate the typical commute of the average Frenchman.” But the narrator notes that if you wanted to become fitter and more athletic like the characters in this game, “You wouldn’t be playing video games all day!”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Steven Lee, Errolwi, Cora Buhlert, Frank Catalano, David Doering, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Pixel Scroll 2/14/22 Our Files Are Protected By Mutual Assured Pixellation

(1) PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE ASKS INTERNET ARCHIVE TO REMOVE MAUS. Chris Freeland, a librarian and Director of the Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program, advocates for his work at ZDNet: “Librarian’s lament: Digital books are not fireproof”.

The disturbing trend of school boards and lawmakers banning books from libraries and public schools is accelerating across the country. In response, Jason Perlow made a strong case last week for what he calls a “Freedom Archive,” a digital repository of banned books. Such an archive is the right antidote to book banning because, he contended, “You can’t burn a digital book.” The trouble is, you can.

A few days ago, Penguin Random House, the publisher of Maus, Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust, demanded that the Internet Archive remove the book from our lending library. Why? Because, in their words, “consumer interest in ‘Maus’ has soared” as the result of a Tennessee school board’s decision to ban teaching the book. By its own admission, to maximize profits, a Goliath of the publishing industry is forbidding our non-profit library from lending a banned book to our patrons: a real live digital book-burning.

We are the library of last resort, where anyone can get access to books that may be controversial wherever they happen to live — an existing version of Perlow’s proposed “Freedom Archive.” Today, the Internet Archive lends a large selection of other banned books, including Animal FarmWinnie the PoohThe Call of the Wild, and the Junie B. Jones and Goosebumps children’s book series. But all of these books are also in danger of being destroyed.

In the summer of 2020, four of the largest publishers in the U.S. — Penguin Random House among them — sued to force our library to destroy the more than 1.4 million digital books in our collection. In their pending lawsuit, the publishers are using copyright law as a battering ram to assert corporate control over the public good. In this instance, that means destroying freely available books and other materials that people rely on to become productive and discerning participants in the country’s civic, economic, and social life…. 

(2) SUPER BOWL COMMERCIALS WITH A TOUCH OF SFF. Thanks to Cora Buhlert for flagging several of these in a comment yesterday on the “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – Teaser Trailer” post. Besides the ones I’ve embedded below, there’s a “Planet Fitness – What’s Gotten into Lindsay?” spot with a cameo and narration by William Shatner, and astronaut Matthew McConaughey headlining the “’The New Frontier’ Salesforce Super Bowl Ad” (“while the others look to the metaverse and Mars, lets stay here and restore ours…”).

Enter a new dimension of Strange. Watch the official trailer for Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Only in theaters May 6. In Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” the MCU unlocks the Multiverse and pushes its boundaries further than ever before. Journey into the unknown with Doctor Strange, who, with the help of mystical allies both old and new, traverses the mind-bending and dangerous alternate realities of the Multiverse to confront a mysterious new adversary.

See the all-new Big Game TV Spot for Marvel Studios’ #MoonKnight ?, an Original series streaming March 30, only on Disney+. The story follows Steven Grant, a mild-mannered gift-shop employee, who becomes plagued with blackouts and memories of another life. Steven discovers he has dissociative identity disorder and shares a body with mercenary Marc Spector. As Steven/Marc’s enemies converge upon them, they must navigate their complex identities while thrust into a deadly mystery among the powerful gods of Egypt.

In a competitive home buying market, Barbie was able to find and finance her dream house with some help from Rocket Homes??, Rocket Mortgage® and Anna Kendrick.

Retiring from Mount Olympus to Palm Springs, Zeus is underwhelmed by all earthly electric things and becomes a shell of his former self. But right when we think all hope is lost, his wife, Hera, introduces him to the all-electric BMW iX and helps mighty Zeus reclaim his spark.

(3) THE SIXTIES CONAN REDISCOVERY. At Galactic Journey, Cora Buhlert continues her overview of the Lancer Conan reprints with Conan the Warrior, which includes two of the best Conan stories “and no L. Sprague de Camp mucking about”: “[February 14, 1967] Three Facets of Conan: Conan the Warrior by Robert E. Howard”.

…Valeria is a marvellous character, a warrior woman who is Conan’s equal in many ways. “Why won’t men let me live a man’s life?” Valeria laments at one point. “That’s obvious,” Conan replies with an appreciative look at Valeria’s body. Robert E. Howard is usually considered a writer of masculine fiction and Conan is clearly a man’s man, but I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and competence of the female characters in these stories. Not every women in these stories is as impressive as Valeria or Yasmina from “The People of the Black Circle”, but they are all characters with personalities and lives of their own and every one of them is given a chance to shine….

(4) IT’S TIME FOR TRIVIA. Clarion West’s third annual speculative fiction trivia night fundraiser welcomes anyone to join this celebration of all things speculative. The event takes place March 20 from 5:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Pacific. Purchase tickets here – most options are $15.

Quizmaster Seanan McGuire will host us on Sunday, March 20th at 5pm PT for a night of science fiction, fantasy, and horror-themed rivalry. We’re also excited to welcome celebrity team captains Tananarive Due & Steven Barnes, A.T. Greenblatt, Greg & Astrid Bear, Cat Rambo, Andy Duncan, Brooks Peck, Julia Rios, and Curtis C. Chen!

Clarion West began running Speculative Fiction Trivia Night as an in-person fundraiser in 2019. It’s been such a hit that we’ve kept it going online for our global community. We enjoy bringing everyone together for this annual event, keeping it easy to run (with lots of volunteer power), and low cost to join! Ticket sales support Clarion West, the time and efforts of our staff, and our wonderful quizmaster Seanan McGuire!

You can join as an individual and be placed on a team, bring your own team, or join a team led by one of our amazing celebrity team captains (these fill quickly)!

Learn more about Trivia Night, our Celebrity Team Captains, and other details here.

(5) HIDDEN GEMS. G.W. Thomas remembers the adventures of Thula, a little known 1970s sword and sorcery heroine by Pat McIntosh, whose stories only appeared in an obscure British fanzine and Lin Carter’s Year’s Best Fantasy collections: “The Adventures of Thula” at Dark Worlds Quarterly.

 The Adventures of Thula was a series of five Sword & Sorcery tales featured in Lin Carter’s The Year’s Best Fantasy Stories 1-5Pat McIntosh, the Scottish author of these tales, was a mystery to me. Her stories appeared first in John Martin’s British fanzine Anduril but nowhere else. She was an obvious favorite of Lin’s, along with other women writers such as Tanith Lee, C. J. Cherryh and Janet Fox. He called McIntosh “…a new British writer bound to go places in the years to come!”…

(6) NOPE TRAILER. “Jordan Peele’s ‘Nope’ Trailer Sees a UFO Terrorize Keke Palmer, Daniel Kaluuya and Steven Yeun”. Yahoo!’s preview explains, “One day, a UFO appears in the sky, causing all matter of chaos for those at the ranch and its neighboring town. In one eye-catching scene in the trailer, we see Kaluuya on horseback trying to outrun the UFO; in another, a gooey alien creature stalks its prey.”

(7) IVAN REITMAN (1946-2022). A prolific Hollywood producer and director, Ivan Reitman died February 13 at the age of 75. He worked on many famous non-sf films, but the Ghostbusters movies were his best-known. As a producer or executive producer he had a hand in genre films Heavy Metal (1981), Spacehunters: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983), Ghostbusters (1984), Ghostbusters II (1989), and the reboots Ghostbusters (2016) and Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021), Space Jam (1996), Evolution (2001), A Babysitters Guide to Monster Hunting (2020), and also two animated TV series Mummies Alive (1997) and Alienators: Evolution Continues (2001), plus a recurring segment of the Atom TV series (2008).

The Guardian’s Hadley Freeman found Ivan Reitman impressive: “I finally met Ivan Reitman three months ago – my Hollywood hero was a truly lovely man”.

As the Guardian’s official 80s movies correspondent, I talked to Reitman multiple times over the years, beginning with a phone interview for the last film he directed, 2014’s Draft Day. When I contacted him again a few weeks later to ask if I could interview him for a book I was working on about 80s movies, he immediately agreed, and talked to me for over an hour, reminiscing about films people had been asking him to reminisce about for over 30 years. He never showed boredom or irritation. If I ever needed a quote, or just had a question, I could email him and he’d reply immediately. Does it really need saying that this kind of behaviour from a genuine Hollywood powerhouse is not exactly typical?

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1964 [Item by Cat Eldridge] James Elwood: master programmer. In charge of Mark 502-741, commonly known as Agnes, the world’s most advanced electronic computer. Machines are made by men for man’s benefit and progress, but when man ceases to control the products of his ingenuity and imagination, he not only risks losing the benefit, but he takes a long and unpredictable step into… The Twilight Zone.”

Fifty-eight years ago this evening, Twilight Zone’s “From Agnes—With Love” episode first aired. The twentieth episode of Season Five, it tells the rather silly story of a meek computer programmer who has Agnes, the world’s most advanced computer, loving him. And what ends she’ll go to make sure no end else wins his hand. 

It was directed by Richard Donner who went to fame by directing The Omen and the 1978 Superman. It was written by Bernard Cutner Schoenfeld who had done mostly crime noir before this including Phantom Lady and The Dark Lady though he did write the screenplay for The Space Children, a film currently holding a fourteen percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. You can see it here.

The cast of this series was: Wally Cox as James Elwood, Sue Randall as Millie, Raymond Bailey as Supervisor,  Ralph Taeger as Walter Holmes, Don Keefer as Fred Danziger, Byron Kane as Assistant  and Nan Peterson as A Secretary. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 14, 1925 J. T. McIntosh. Scottish writer at his best according to Clute in his early work such as World Out of Mind and One in Three Hundred. He’s deeply stocked at the usual suspects at very reasonable rates, indeed most as Meredith Moments. (Died 2008.)
  • Born February 14, 1942 Andrew Robinson, 80. Elim Garak on Deep Space Nine. He wrote a novel based on his character, A Stitch in Time, and a novella, “The Calling,” which can be found in Prophecy and Change, a DS9 anthology edited by Marco Palmieri. Other genre credits include Larry Cotton in Hellraiser, appearing in The Puppet Masters as Hawthorne and playing John F. Kennedy on the The New Twilight Zone.
  • Born February 14, 1948 Teller, 74. Performed on Babylon 5 in the episode scripted by Neil Gaiman titled “Day of The Dead” as part of Penn & Teller who portrayed comedians Rebo and Zooty. It’s one of my favorite episodes of the series. Harlan Ellison provided his voice there. Now available on HBO Max. 
  • Born February 14, 1952 Gwyneth Jones, 70. Interesting person that she is, let’s start with her thoughts on chestnuts she did when she was Winter Queen at Green Man. Just because I can. Now regarding her fiction, I’d strongly recommend her Bold As Love series of a Britain that went to pieces as it now certainly is, and her twenty-year-old Deconstructing the Starships: Science, Fiction and Reality polemic is still worth reading. 
  • Born February 14, 1952 Paula M. Block, 70. Star Trek author and editor; but primarily known for working in Paramount Pictures’ consumer licensing division and then with CBS Consumer Products. Remember that novel I noted by Andrew Robinson? Yeah, that’s her bailiwick. She’s also written with her husband Terry J. Erdmann, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion and Star Trek: Costumes: Five Decades of Fashion from the Final Frontier. It looks like she did some Trek fanfic as well including “The Girl Who Controlled Gene Kelly’s Feet”.
  • Born February 14, 1963 Enrico Colantoni, 59. Any excuse to mention Galaxy Quest I’ll gladly take. He played a delightful Mathesar on that film, and that was his first genre role, lucky bastard. Up next for him was A.I. Artificial Intelligence as The Murderer followed by appearing in the most excellent animated Justice League Dark as the voice of Felix Faust where his fate was very, very bad. He had an amazing role on Person of Interest as Charlie Burton / Carl Elias. Not genre, but his acting as Sgt. Gregory Parker on Flashpointa Canadian police drama television series is worth noting as it that excellent series. 
  • Born February 14, 1964 Zach Galligan, 58. You’ll no doubt recognize him best as Billy Peltzer in Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch. He did some really forgettable films after that including Waxwork II: Lost in TimeWarlock: The Armageddon and Cyborg 3: The Recycler even if the star of the latter was Malcolm McDowell. He did show on Voyager on as Ensign David Gentry in the “In the Flesh” episode. 
  • Born February 14, 1970 Simon Pegg, 52. Best known for playing Montgomery Scott in the sort of ongoing Star Trek franchise. His first foray into the genre was Shaun of the Dead which he co-wrote and had an acting role in. Late genre roles include Land of the Dead where he’s a Photo Booth Zombie, Diary of the Dead where he has a cameo as a Newsreader, and he portrays Benji Dunn in the ongoing Mission: Impossible franchise.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro has a cringeworthy joke for the holiday.  [Link worked earlier; right now it appears none of Comics Kingdom’s comics will load for some reason.]

(11) TUBERS IN SPACE. Nerdist gives us fair warning when “Mr. Potato Head Joins STAR WARS with The Yamdalorian Toy”. (See it at Hasbro.com.)

…Bring some space saga to your kid’s toy chest with Hasbro’s newest Star Wars plaything. This intergalactic version of Mr. Potato Head is ready to carry Grogu, in this case known as the Tot, everywhere he goes. Even in his stomach. The Yamdalorian features a 5-and-a-half inch body and comes with 14 parts to make him into the greatest bounty spud in the universe. That includes a Mandalorian helmet, armor, and cape. As well a base with feet, eyes, two arms, two ears, nose, and mustache. And his adopted son can also fit inside his pouch…

(12) FUN FACT. [Item by Sam Long.] I was looking up the word “god” in the Online Etymological Dictionary, and found that it could be derived from the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) word ghu-to, to pour a libation (as of bheer).  Apparently fandom–or at least the fannish “h”–dates back five thousand years or more.

“Bloomin’ idol o’ egoboo,

Wot they call the ghreat ghod Ghu!

(Plucky lot she cared for idols when I gave her some corflu.”

          –On the Road to Fandalay

(13) IMPRISONED ALIENS. Some aliens may never be able to leave their world due to things like high gravity or self-generated orbital debris. Isaac Arthur considers “The Fermi Paradox: Imprisoned Planets”.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. As one commenter calls it, “The all-Boston crossover you never expected, but deserved.” “Your Cousin From Boston (Dynamics)”.

While working security at the Boston Dynamics robotics lab, Your Cousin From Boston gives a robot a Sam Adams. At least he brought a Wicked IPA Party Pack to share!

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Cora Buhlert, Bill, Sam Long, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kevin Harkness.]

Pixel Scroll 2/3/22 You Can Scroll, Scrollsocki, If You Pixel Down

(1) AFRICAN STORY FORMS. Clarion West is offering an online workshop “African Story Forms: Ngano & Black Fabulism” with Yvette Lisa Ndlovu on February 26 at 4:00 p.m. Pacific. Register here. Cost: $75.

This craft talk & generative workshop will explore the form & structure of ngano, a Zimbabwean storytelling form that blends fables, folktales, and the surreal. We will examine how some of the structures and techniques of this traditional narrative can be used for plotting and structuring in the short form. In a ngano strange things happen: animals talk, people fly, time collapses, & nature eschews the laws of physics. These fantastic tales have social justice elements at their core: they call out social evils and speak truth to power. In this session, I’m specifically interested in interrogating Ngano as political fantasy that holds a mirror to our world. What can writers borrow from this traditional African storytelling form to reflect our bizarre & impossible realities across the globe? 

We will engage with the work of Zimbabwean Sarunganos, like Ignatius Mabasa, who are keeping this form alive, as well as Black fabulists like Lesley Nneka Arimah, Irenosen Okojie, Helen Oyeyemi, Nana Nkweti, and others. All writers are welcome.

(2) CAT IN A VACUUM. James Davis Nicoll has been “Revisiting The Amazing Adventures of Space Cat!” at Tor.com.

… Flyball is a cat. Who—and this is the complicated part—lives in space. His career is documented in four illustrated volumes: Space Cat (1952), Space Cat Visits Venus (1955), Space Cat Meets Mars (1957), Space Cat and the Kittens (1958). All four are illustrated by Paul Galdone (June 2, 1907–November 7, 1986).

I have not read these since 1969. How did they stand up? I am glad you asked….

(3) STOP WATCHING THE SKIES. [Item by Michael Toman.] Has anyone heard anything from Liiliput, Brobdingnag, The Floating Island (with its associated Grand Academy-of Lagadu-at-Balnibarbi,) Japan, Houyhnhnm-land, and “Other Remote Nations of the World” lately? Or, like my sister, residing in the Still-Improbable-Sounding-to-the-Undersigned, Red State of “North Carolina, USA,” has already seen the movie? MSN.com shares what happens when “Physicists consider real-life ‘Don’t Look Up’ scenarios”.

… “Effective mitigation strategies are imperative to ensure humanity’s continuity and future advancement,” Lubin and Cohen write. “Existential threats to humanity are very low recurrence, but are known to have happened multiple times in the past.”

NASA takes the threat seriously, scanning the heavens in search of potentially threatening bodies that cross Earth’s orbit. Last November, the agency used a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to launch a probe at a 525-foot-wide moon, Dimorphos, orbiting a a half-mile-wide asteroid named Didymos.

The 1,210-pound DART spacecraft is expected to slam into Dimorphos at a blistering 15,000 mph in September, disintegrating on impact as it gouges out a fresh crater and, in the process, slows the moonlet by a minuscule fraction of an inch per second.

The test will not move the targeted asteroid off its trajectory any appreciable amount. But it will allow scientists to assess their ability to one day deflect a threatening body by nudging it off course to ensure it misses Earth entirely.

Deflection works best at great distances, where a small nudge can have a major effect over many months. That requires early detection…

(4) A LANDMARK IN HORROR. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] BBC Radio 4’s series 1922: The Birth of Now, has devoted a short 15-minute program to Nosferatu. Available for download as mp3 from BBC Sounds (simple registration required). Details here — “1922: The Birth of Now, Nosferatu and Modernist Horror”.

1922: The Birth of Now – Ten programmes in which Matthew Sweet investigates objects and events from 1922, the crucial year for modernism, that have an impact today.

 Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror.

 F. W. Murnau’s 1922 gothic masterpiece is the first vampire movie. It is German Expressionism in cinematic form and still influences contemporary film-makers. It’s also a film about disease: Count Orlok – a rip-off of Dracula that got Bram Stoker’s family lawyers on the case – brings plague to Mittel Europe. What does this disease mean, in a Europe that has just survived war and pandemic? Matthew Sweet and guests including Dana Gioia, the award-winning poet and critic who wrote the libretto to composer Alva Henderson’s Nosferatu: The Opera, first produced in 2004, and the literary scholars Roger Luckhurst and Lisa Mullen.

(5) IRISH STUDIES. The American Conference for Irish Studies has put out a call for papers for ACIS National 2022 with the theme “Irish Studies: Pasts, Presents, and Futures”. It will be held online April 29-30, 2022.

Another year disrupted. Another unforeseen turning in the widening gyre. As in so many elements of our lives, the most recent wave of the pandemic means we must ask questions about our past, our present, and our future: How long has it been since we felt normal? What can we do right now? What will tomorrow bring? This moment allows us to reconsider the purpose and future of Irish Studies, and its related, interconnected, peripheral, and unrecognized fields. For the online 2022 American Conference for Irish Studies, we invite individual papers, panels, and roundtables that reassess the pasts, presents, and futures of our field. Intentionally open, speculative, and abstract, it is our hope that these papers, panels, and roundtables seek “collisions and encounters” that help, in the words of Gayatri Gopinath, to explore “our imbricated pasts and futures.”

For this year’s conference, which will be fully online, we seek papers, panels, and roundtables on the following, as well as any or all other topics in Irish Studies:

  • Imagined and real Irish pasts
  • Speculative and potential Irish futures
  • Irish encounters with other fields of study
  • Imbricated Irish experiences
  • Teaching Irish Studies in new contexts

(6) A PEEK INTO A FUTURE THAT NEVER WAS. Steve Haffner unveils a discovery that will be included in Volume 2 of The Complete John the Balladeer.

INFORMED READERS of Manly Wade Wellman, and followers of John the Balladeer in particular, know that prior to his death, the “Old Captain” was planning a sixth novel in Doubleday’s “Silver John” series to be called THE VALLEY SO LOW. FYI, Wellman detested the “Silver John” appellation and we almost never use it; it’s “John the Balladeer,” “John the Wanderer,” or just “John.”
     Following Wellman’s passing, Karl Edward Wagner edited a posthumous collection of Wellman’s recent short stories titled The Valley So Low: Southern Mountain Stories in 1987.
     Haffner Press is pleased as pinecones to share that we are including Wellman’s 4-page outline for the unwritten novel, THE VALLEY SO LOW, in Vol. Two of THE COMPLETE JOHN THE BALLADEER. So now all of you have the opportunity to learn what Manly Wade Wellman planned for John’s final song. Of course, artist Tim Kirk will be contributing a brand new interior illustration for Wellman’s proposal for THE VALLEY SO LOW.

(7) TRUNK SCRIPT. Radio Times says he already had a Doctor Who project in the pipeline before his return as showrunner came about: “Russell T Davies teases Doctor Who return in Mind of the Hodiac”.

If you’ve paid any attention to popular culture over the last few months, you may have heard the shock news that former Doctor Who boss Russell T Davies is returning to take charge once more for Who’s 60th anniversary year – but you might not know that this isn’t his only Doctor Who project in the offing.

In fact, before we had any idea he was returning to the main TV series fans were already excited at the news of a very different Who return for the acclaimed screenwriter –an audio drama. It all started when Davies dug out an old script he’d written as a young fan in the 1980s, and eventually Doctor Who audio producers Big Finish came on board to bring the story to life for real.

Now, Davies’ unfinished Mind of the Hodiac – completed by Scott Handcock and starring Colin Baker and Bonnie Langford – is coming soon, the first Who script we’ve seen from Davies for over 12 years. And with a load more scripts on the horizon, it’s fair to say that it’s a moment of odd synchronicity for the It’s A Sin creator.

(8) WHAT HAS SPACE DONE FOR ME LATELY? The UC San Diego Office of Innovation and Commercialization and the Clarke Center hope to answer that question in a free Zoom webinar about the benefits of space research today and what to expect tomorrow! Takes place February 10 at 4:00 p.m. Pacific. Register here.

The vast majority of people are unaware of all the ways space technologies affect us on a daily basis. Everything from bioengineering to communications to manufacturing and more, technology cultivated in humanity’s pursuit to conquer the last frontier, has had, and will continue to have, a profound impact on our everyday lives. So join us, as we explore what space has done for us lately.

The panelists are: Anjali Gupta, PhD, Business Development at Axiom Space; Karl Stedman, Co-Founder of Aurvandil; Robert Jacobson, Partner with Space Advisors®, LLC & Author of Space is Open for Business; and Dr. Erik Viirre, Director at Arthur C Clarke Center For Human Imagination.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1983 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Thirty-nine years ago on this date, The Greatest American Hero ended its three year run on ABC. It was created by producer Stephen J. Cannell, more known for series like Magnum P.I. and Castle (in which he appeared in a poker game with Castle as himself until his death) than SF series like this. 

The series features William Katt as teacher turned superhero Ralph Hinkley after getting a suit from aliens, Robert Culp as FBI agent Bill Maxwell, and Connie Sellecca as lawyer Pam Davidson.

Though it ran for three seasons, it had an unusually low number of episodes for a show of that duration racking up only forty-five in total of which of five went unaired during the original broadcast. 

The powers of the red suit would appear to be quite generic, but that apparently didn’t appear so to Warner Bros., the owners of DC Comics, who filed a lawsuit against ABC, Warner Bros. Inc. v. American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.  It was ultimately dismissed by the Court where it was filed who said it had no grounds. A wise decision given how common red suits with extraordinary powers were. 

Five years later, the cast came back together for a pilot movie for a new NBC series which was named The Greatest American Heroine which was never picked up. The movie was later added in syndication to this series. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 3, 1924 Leslie Stevens. Here because he was the creator of first version of The Outer Limits and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Oh, and a neat little pulp film called Sheena starring Tanya Roberts for which he wrote the story. He wrote a handful of scripts for The Invisible Man as well. (Died 1998.)
  • Born February 3, 1925 John Fiedler. He’s solely here as he played the ever so bland bureaucrat who gets possessed by the spirit of Jack the Ripper on the Trek episode “Wolf in the Fold”. I’m less interested in him than who wrote that screenplay. It was written by Robert Bloch, a master of horror who would write two other Trek episodes, “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” and “Catspaw”. (Died 2005.)
  • Born February 3, 1930 Carolyn Serling. Widow of Rod Serling. She was the associate publisher and consulting editor of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, a monthly magazine published in the Eighties. She was a consultant to “Twilight Zone: The Movie” and had a cameo in there as Passenger in the “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” segment. In 1994, Ms. Serling found two unproduced stories by her husband in a trunk at her home and sold them to CBS which produced them as Twilight Zone: Rod Serling’s Lost Classics. In total, she edited six anthologies of stories inspired by the series. (Died 2020.)
  • Born February 3, 1953 Randy Lofficier, 69. Editor, translator and author who I am including here for French Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Pulp Fiction: A Guide to Cinema, Television, Radio, Animation, Comic Books and Literature from the Middle Ages to the Present with her husband Jean-Marc Lofficier. Though published twenty years ago, it is still well worth picking up. 
  • Born February 3, 1970 Warwick Davis, 52. Nearly fifty live and voice appearances since first appearing in the Return of the Jedi in in place of Kenny Baker who was going to be a Ewok before he fell ill. Did you know he’s in Labyrinth as a member of the Goblin Corps? I certainly didn’t. Or that he did a series of humorous horror films centered around him as a Leprechaun? They did well enough that there was at least six of them. He even shows up in Doctor Who during the time of the Eleventh Doctor. 
  • Born February 3, 1979 Ransom Riggs, 43. He’s best known for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children which I’ll confess I know absolutely nothing about, so educate me. I know it was turned into a film by Tim Burton which could a Very Good Thing and later into a series. His first book btw was The Sherlock Holmes Handbook: The Methods and Mysteries of the World’s Greatest Detective which sounds way cool. He won a Neffy for Best SSF YA Author. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Blondie – how often does this comic do a genre joke?

(12) EIGHT PROOF. Octothorpe 50 is up! John Coxon is exchanging, Alison Scott is rekindling her sensawunda, and Liz Batty is watching the builders. We discuss what beers we like, listen to the Caribbean Science Fiction Podcast, talk about self-promotion and talk about TAFF. Listen here: “This is How Boxing Championships Work”.

(13) THE FUTURE IS NOW. Are you ready for “carcopter” races? “MACA S11 Flying Carcopter Formula Racer: Competition Is in the Air” at Motor Trend.

Drone-like vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) flying car air taxis have been showing up at CES shows for years—Cadillac even showed one in 2021. But most experts don’t expect the first air taxi to be certified for use until 2024 at the earliest. At CES 2022, French startup MACA announced plans to get its hydrogen fuel-cell-powered electric VTOL “carcopter,” as they call it, off the ground before then. How do they hope to jump the government certification line? By flying low and restricting themselves to the airspace immediately above Formula 1 racetracks.

(14) THE MASKALORIAN. No, that was not a typo. “’The Maskalorian’ gives out free masks in a ‘Star Wars’ costume” – the Washington Post has the story.

Even in these strange times, the sight is unusual enough to turn heads: a helmeted figure in a jumpsuit and cape with a tiny green creature strapped to his chest. Both appear to come from a galaxy far, far away. Both wear disposable masks over their mouths.

Masks, it turns out, are the entire point of their mission.“I am the Maskalorian, giver of masks,” the figure says in his first public appearance, in the summer of 2020. “Whether you’re a human or a droid, it doesn’t matter. We must be vigilant and do what we can to keep each other protected.”

The character — inspired by the hit Star Wars show “The Mandalorian” on Disney Plus — is the brainchild of Matt Adams, a 43-year-old filmmaker and improv performer. And that little green guy wearing a GoPro on his chest might look a lot like Grogu, a.k.a. the Child, a.k.a. Baby Yoda. But his name is Masku. Together, they have given away roughly 1,000 masks.

(15) ASIMOV NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is the lede of an article by Anjuna Ahuja about space-based solar power, behind a paywall in the Financial Times.

It was Isaac Asimov who first envisioned that light from our nearest star could be captured, converted into microwave radiation and then beamed down to Earth.  More than 80 years after his short story, “Reason,” was published, the idea of space-based solar power–where the panels are in orbit rather than on earth–is having a moment in the sun.

(16) PRE-WASHED GENES. James Davis Nicoll tells Tor.com readers there’s one thing you can count on finding in science fiction. That’s bad science. As in these “Five SF Stories Involving Selective Breeding”.

It might be comforting to tell oneself that eugenics—the conviction that one can breed one’s way to better humans by encouraging the fitter ones to have more children and those considered to be less fit to have fewer—was a horrible fad that went out of fashion after the unpleasantness in the mid-20th century. Of course, that’s not true. State sanctioned sterilization of those deemed inferior continues to the modern day.

It’s not surprising that science fiction authors have not always resisted the lure of eugenics as a plot starter. Why not apply to humans the same techniques that transformed the humble wolf into the majestic chihuahua? Here are five stories that engage with the notion in different ways….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is a video where over two dozen animators each did three seconds of animating a red ball then “passed” it on to another animator. “Pass the Ball”.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, Nancy Sauer, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bruce D. Arthurs (it’s the line following one previously used as a title).]

Clarion West’s New Scholarships to Encourage Black, Indigenous, and Writers of Color to Attend

Applications are open for the 2022 Clarion West Workshop for speculative fiction writers. Offered every summer in Seattle, Clarion West has over 600 graduates, including Russell L. Bates (winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Miami International Science Fiction Film Festival), editor Sheree Renée Thomas (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction), Nisi Shawl (multiple award-winning writer and editor based in Seattle), and Cadwell Turnbull (winner of the 2020 Neukom Institute Literary Award). 

Clarion West, as part of its commitment to addressing the barriers that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) face in the writing and publishing world, seeks to create a more inclusive, welcoming, and safe space for BIPOC writers in the community. Toward that end, Clarion West offers a number of scholarships to attendees of the Six-Week Summer Workshop. Among them are three offered to BIPOC writers, including a new scholarship offered in 2022 to Latinx/e writers.

  • The Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship: managed by the Carl Brandon Society, the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Award is a full-tuition award given to one student who identifies as Black, Indigenous, or a Person of Color.
  • The Blue Corn Creations Scholarship: donated by Blue Corn Creations, this scholarship is a full-tuition award given to writers who identify as Native American/Indigenous writers from the Americas. 
  • The Flores Scholarship *new*: two full-tuition scholarship awards given to students who identify as Latinx/e.

Clarion West offers full and partial tuition scholarships for all writers in need. A full list of Clarion West scholarships is here. For more information about the workshop and to apply, read here.

Workshop Culture and Accessibility. As part of Clarion West’s commitment to an inclusive workshop environment, in 2020 they began updating their critiquing practices. A few of the updates are:

  • Providing a trained facilitator in every class session who is present to advocate for all participants and help each new instructor get to know their class and their critique goals better;
  • Providing a variety of critique options for the group to decide what will work best for their unique needs. Every group is different, and we want to recognize this by providing the time and space for each group to develop their own rules; 
  • Allowing greater agency for authors to determine their critique goals and to set their own limits; 
  • Encouraging the use of an author’s letter or introduction to each story, allowing the author’s needs to frame the response; and
  • Providing time during a critique for authors to respond to comments or pose additional questions of their own.

A New Location. In addition, Clarion West is committed to hosting in-person events in accessible spaces. In 2022, the Six-Week Workshop will move to Highline College in Des Moines, Washington.

This new location features accessible accommodations, with a short walk to the classroom and other coworking and social spaces. Clarion West participants will have access to the student center and cafe. The college is about a 20-minute drive from downtown Seattle and downtown Tacoma.

[Based on a press release.]

Clarion West’s 2022 In-Person Summer Workshop Will Take Applications Starting December 1

Clarion West returns to an in-person workshop next year. The Clarion West 2022 Six-Week Summer Workshop will take place June 19 – July 30, 2022 in Seattle. Applications open December 1, 2021.

The panel of the instructors for the 2022 Six-Week Summer Workshop will be:

Clarion West is able to provide full and partial scholarships to a significant number of applicants, thanks to a generous community of donors and sponsors.

Applications will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on February 10. Information about how to apply is here. The application fee is $35 from December 1 to January 31; it will increase to $60 on February 1.

Founded in 1971, Clarion West holds a six-week workshop each summer geared toward helping writers of speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, and horror) at the beginnings of their professional careers. Each workshop is limited to 18 students, and each week features a different instructor, a highly regarded author or editor offering a unique perspective on the field. Applicants and students come from everywhere in the world, and graduates frequently go on to professional success. In addition to changing to an ADA accessible facility in 2022, Clarion West has been working with a team of alumni and instructors to evolve our workshop culture and create protocols towards equity, empowerment, and innovation.

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 9/30/21 We’ve Replaced Their Files With Scroller’s Pixels. Let’s See If Anyone Notices

(1) CLARION WEST OCTOBER CLASSES. Clarion West is offering three more months of classes. See the full schedule here. Below are the October offerings — click the links for tuition cost and to register.

This class will discuss the history and traditions of the genre, give tips on how to update those traditions in your writing while maintaining a timeless tone, and provide suggestions on creating a modern Southern Gothic atmosphere in your writing. Students will gain a clearer understanding of the genre and its archetypes, as well as be given tools to more readily generate ideas on how to incorporate recognizable traditions of the genre into modern work.

This class is geared toward writers of long and short speculative fiction. As this is a course focusing on genre, it can be relevant to beginning, intermediate, or advanced writers unfamiliar with Southern Gothic and/or desirous of learning how to bring this genre up to date.

The Afro-Surreal is a storytelling approach allowing creators to examine Black contemporary life much more concisely than a traditional literary narrative by permitting that which is physically impossible or defies explanation. Despite Black-centered horror going mainstream, we have yet to see Afro-Surrealism incorporated widely to amplify aspects of psychological horror, weird fiction, traditional supernatural narratives, or splatterpunk. This workshop will define what constitutes Afro-Surrealism, which horror works have successfully employed it, and how to incorporate Afro-Surrealism in your writing while maintaining your own voice. Key aspects of plot, characterization, and action will be discussed, including: the overlap between the Afro-Surreal and the supernatural, dialogue and the disconnect between how marginalized and privileged people experience an interaction, the unreality of action since facts are frequently suppressed or denied when it comes to the Black experience.

Beginning, intermediate, and advanced authors can use this workshop to refine existing drafts or craft new material for future projects. Students will come away from the workshop equipped to adapt techniques developed by surrealists of the African diaspora for communicating bizarre, unreal experiences in their own horror-centric work.

Voice, Dialogue, and Characterization

Many non-Native writers are reticent to develop Native characters, but leaving out Indigenous characters is not an option, especially when writing science fiction, because it makes assumptions about the future. In the book Writing the Other, Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward give practical advice for how to write characters whose backgrounds differ from one’s own. One of their most pertinent pieces of advice is to build relationships with people from those backgrounds. A good start to building a relationship with Indigenous folks is to study their texts.

In this three-hour class, we will discuss several Indigenous futurist texts with Indigenous characters in order to learn how to diversify our science fiction (or otherwise-genred) story in a good way.

Attendees will be provided with readings for class. Writing exercises and prompts will also be provided.

This class is geared toward beginning writers.

Creatives, writers especially, are entirely too familiar with burnout, even before 2020. Trying to get your work published, let alone make a living as an author, requires a volume of effort that can be crushing. 

In this workshop, we’ll focus on regaining a sense of joy and delight in your writing, and generating ideas, characters, and settings that keep your joy front and center as you continue your journey.

How can we make the familiar scary? The aesthetics of a contemporary urban city doesn’t quite have the spine-chilling factor of an ancient village shrouded in fog, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be plenty of scares in everyday life.

In this class, attendees explore how to design new tools to build horror written in contemporary settings that take us beyond expected traditional tropes. Five excerpts from five works of horror fiction, period and contemporary, ranging from Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita to N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became, will be analyzed and discussed, with the ultimate goal of understanding how these examples have gone against the grain in horror to create an original approach to a classic field. Based on these examples, students will propose their own premises and approaches to a non-traditional horror story or novel. In the second session, we will workshop those ideas, flesh them out, and exchange suggestions for improvement. Then students will write excerpts of their own premises. In the third session, we all evaluate how effective each excerpt is and how it can be improved.

How many words does it take to create true fear? There are many genres of horror that can exist in little spaces. In this workshop, attendees will learn how to create short and scary stories within the confines of micro and flash fiction (100-1,000 words). We’ll study the similarities between comedy and horror in terms of timing, expectation, and subversion. We’ll learn about wildcard characters, invented worlds, and pacing strategies to set up suspense. Throughout the workshop, we’ll stay close to character and keep an eye on how turning points and climaxes are related to the specificity of voice, desire, and fear. By the end of this workshop, participants will have the beginnings of several new horror flash pieces based on in-class writing prompts, a worksheet for outlining a short horror piece, and resources and recommendations for further reading. 

If you’ve ever wanted to include the Tarot in your novel or short story without looking like a Fool, this class will teach you how to avoid common divinatory pitfalls. Learn why an all-Majors spread is statistically unlikely (and laughably overused), the basics behind each suit’s themes, and why the Eight of Swords can be scarier than Death itself!

Alternatively, if you just want to use the Tarot to help you get unblocked in your own writing, this class can provide tips and tricks for that too. Tarot can also be used as a tool to help clarify plot arcs and themes in your writing. Iori and Vida will discuss finding (and breaking in!) the right deck, interpretation tips, and useful spreads and layouts. 

(2) INSPIRED MUSIC. And on October 9, the Bushwick Book Club Seattle presents original music inspired by Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch. This will be a hybrid in-person and livestreamed event. Get tickets here.

An evening of musicians and artists premiering new, original works inspired by the written word.

Story: For Sunny, twelve years old and albino, her arrival in Nigeria from America was shocking enough—until she discovers herself smack in the middle of a world of indescribable magic.
Themes: Self-discovery, friendship, tradition
Heads-up: Killer on the loose, racism (more at Book Trigger Warnings / Trigger Warning database)

(3) RITE GUD. Raquel S. Benedict’s Rite Gud podcast discusses “Tragedy of the Creative Commons: Superheroes and Modern Mythology” in a new installment that dropped today.

Whenever a critic complains about the ubiquity or the creative emptiness of superhero narratives in contemporary pop culture, fans argue back that mass entertainment is just the modern incarnation of our rich cultural heritage: superheroes are mythology, and fandom is folklore. Is this true, or is this a way to flatten the complexities of traditional art while giving commercial media a spiritual significance it does not deserve?

Karlo Yeager Rodríguez joins us.

(4) LEFT BANK LOGROLLING. The New York Times covers a French literary kerfuffle: “In Paris, It’s Literary Scandal Season Again”.

The sidewalks of Paris were already strewn with fallen chestnuts by the time the literary season’s first scandal finally broke.

Most Septembers, as French publishers release their most promising books and start jockeying for prizes, the world of letters is engulfed in the Left Bank’s version of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

This season had been unfolding smoothly — unnaturally, impossibly so, some literary observers quipped — until trouble hit the one big French literary prize known for its probity: the Goncourt, the 118-year-old standard-bearer of the French novel, whose laureates include Marcel Proust, Simone de Beauvoir and Marguerite Duras.

Things started when the Goncourt’s 10 jurors gathered this month, over a lunch of roast duckling with cherries and bottles of Château Maucaillou 2015, to come up with their long list of contenders. The author of one book up for consideration happened to be the romantic partner of one of the jurors, Camille Laurens, a novelist and book reviewer at Le Monde. In fact, the book was dedicated to a certain “C.L.”

Other French prizes are also known for their jurors’ conflicts of interest.

…At the Renaudot and other big prizes, jurors openly lobby for books in which they have a personal or professional stake. Some judges are also editors at big publishing houses and advocate titles by their employers — or books they have themselves edited.

Before the changes at the Goncourt, it, too, was referred to by some critics as “the Goncourt mafia,” recalled the jury’s current president, Didier Decoin, who has been a juror since 1995.

(5) WRITING PROMO COPY. At Dream Foundry, Catherine Lundoff advises about “Words that Sell: Writing Marketing Copy for Your Novel”.

…Some day, when we can have book tables at conventions again, it’s very helpful to watch people when they pick up your books and read the back. That reaction can be magical or disappointing, but either way, it tells you when your copy grabs someone’s attention. In the meantime, look at your reviews, particularly the ones from readers. If they are consistently “expecting something else,” that may be a sign to review your marketing copy and ask writer friends to help you vet it.…

(6) THEY TURNED DOWN THE VOLUMES. The Pew Research Center can tell you “Who doesn’t read books in America?”

Roughly a quarter of American adults (23%) say they haven’t read a book in whole or in part in the past year, whether in print, electronic or audio form, according to a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted Jan. 25-Feb. 8, 2021. Who are these non-book readers?

Several demographic traits are linked with not reading books, according to the survey. For instance, adults with a high school diploma or less are far more likely than those with a bachelor’s or advanced degree to report not reading books in any format in the past year (39% vs. 11%). Adults with lower levels of educational attainment are also among the least likely to own smartphones, an increasingly common way for adults to read e-books….

More statistical cross-sections at the link.

(7) TOMMY KIRK (1941-2021). Best known as a young Disney star, actor Tommy Kirk died September 28 at the age of 79. His first venture for Disney was in the Mickey Mouse Club’s genre-adjacent serial The Hardy Boys: The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure, and the studio later cast him in numerous sort-of-genre productions like The Shaggy Dog, Son of Flubber, The Absent Minded ProfessorBabes in ToylandMoon PilotThe Misadventures of Merlin Jones and The Monkey’s Uncle. He was also in several Sixties beach party movies, a couple of them sf-tinged — playing a Martian in the 1964 feature film Pajama Party, and in The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini. His other sff roles included the campy Village of the Giants, and Mars Needs Women. Late in his career he appeared in Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfold (1995), Billy Frankenstein (1998) and The Education of a Vampire (2001).

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1988 – Thirty-three years ago on this date, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark premiered. It was directed by James Signorelli from a script by Sam Egan, John Paragon, and of course Cassandra Peterson who is as you know the person behind the impressive facade of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. She’s really the only cast that matters here as this is Her Vehicle.  Critics liked it with one saying that it was “Campy, witty and always eager to push the bawdy limits of a PG-13 rating”. 

Unfortunately for Elvira, Mistress of the Dark at the box office the distributor went dramatically out of business without warning the day before it came out, so it would only ever appear on five hundred screens instead of the twenty-five hundred that was intended, so it ended up losing a lot of money despite only costing seven-and-a-half million to produce. (Her costume might be the most expensive thing in the film.) Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it an excellent sixty-five percent rating.  

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 30, 1932 — Antoinette Bower, 89. I’ll start off with her being Sylvia in the classic Trek episode of “Catspaw” written by Robert Bloch. She had a previous genre appearance in a Twilight Zone story, “Probe 7, Over and Out” in which she was Eva Nord. It’s a shaggy God story as so termed by Brian Aldiss. She also had one-offs in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.The Wild Wild WestMission: ImpossibleGet Smart and The Six Million Dollar Man.
  • Born September 30, 1946 — Dan O’Bannon. Screenwriter, director, visual effects supervisor, and  actor. He wrote the Alien script, directed The Return of the Living Dead, provided special computer effects on Star Wars, was writer of two segments of Heavy MetalSoft Landing and B-17, co-writer with Ronald Shusett and  Gary Goldman of the first Total Recall. That’s not complete listing by any stretch! (Died 2009.)
  • Born September 30, 1950 — Laura Esquivel, 71. Mexican author of Como agua para chocolateLike Water for Chocolate in English. Magical realism and cooking with more than a small soupçon of eroticism. Seriously the film is amazing as is the book. ISFDB says she’s also written La ley del amor (The Law of Love) which I’ve not read. 
  • Born September 30, 1951 — Simon Hawke, 70. Author of the quite superb Wizard of 4th Street series as Well as the TimeWars series.He has written Battlestar GalacticaTrekFriday the 13th, Predator and Dungeons & Dragons novels as well as the genre adjacent Shakespeare & Smythe mysteries which bear titles such as Much Ado About Murder
  • Born September 30, 1959 — Debrah Farentino, 62. She’s was in the cast of Earth 2 (never saw it — how was it?) and the recurring character of Dr. Beverly Barlowe on Eureka (superb, her character and the series). She was also in Son of the Pink Panther, Baker Street: Sherlock Holmes Returns, and the “Mind Over Matter” episode of Outer Limits. 
  • Born September 30, 1960 — Nicola Griffith, 61. Editor with Stephen Pagel of the genre gender anthologies, Bending the Landscape: Science Fiction and Bending the Landscape: Fantasy (World Fantasy Award and Lambda winner) and Bending the Landscape: HorrorAmmonite won both the Lambda and Otherwise Awards. She also garnered a Lambda and a Nebula for the most excellent Slow River. All of her novels are available from the usual digital suspects. 
  • Born September 30, 1972 — Sheree Renée Thomas, 49. Writer, Shotgun Lullabies: Stories & Poems and Sleeping Under the Tree of Life; Editor, Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora which won a World Fantasy Award, and Dark Matter: Reading the Bones which also won a World Fantasy Award. She’s also written a variety of poems and essays including “Dear Octavia, Octavia E. Butler, Ms. Butler, Mother of Changes”. In 2020, Thomas was named editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Half Full proves no matter where you go there’s no escaping the spam.

(11) GUESSING WHO. Radio Times speculates about “Who will be the next Doctor Who after Jodie Whittaker?”.

At the moment there’s not much to go on, and the BBC have only said the decision will be revealed “in due course” – but, based on a few of the names swirling about, our own theories about how the next Doctor would be chosen and recommendations from RadioTimes.com staff, here are a few of our picks for the Fourteenth Doctor.

Spoiler alert: we are almost certainly wrong. But if we’re right, well, you heard (or read) it here first….

Meanwhile, “Billie Piper hints at possible Doctor Who return”.

The I Hate Suzie star, who played the Ninth and Tenth Doctor’s companion Rose Tyler from 2005 until 2008, said in a recent Cameo video that she would consider reprising the iconic role if the moment was right.

“Would I ever go back? I think if the circumstances and the story were right,” she said. “I feel like I’ve had enough time away from it to really, really want back in on it.

“I feel like my kids are are at a good age and may appreciate that too, which is often my incentive to do anything.”…

And Radio Times’ Paul Kirkley adds his own evidence-free guesses about “What to expect from Russell T Davies’ return”.

…Will it be easy, this gear shift? Not for a second. Firstly, anyone who thinks this is going to mean a return to regular Saturday night audiences of eight million (faithful) viewers is probably deluding themselves; that world no longer exists. Sure, the likes of Line of Duty and Vigil may have proved that reports of linear TV’s death continue to be exaggerated, but Doctor Who relies on continually refreshing its audience with a new generation of younger viewers. And, as Ofcom has warned, the traditional broadcasters are currently staring down the barrel of a “lost generation” who, lured away by sexy young buzz brands like Netflix, Disney Plus and YouTube, increasingly view the BBC as that funny old thing your nan watches in the afternoons. (BBC One’s average viewing age, lest we forget, is 61.)

… If, as hinted, Russell does want to expand the Doctor Who “empire”, what sort of expanded portfolio might we reasonably expect? The short answer: haven’t got a Scooby. But has that stopped you starting to build your own fantasy Doctor Who Cinematic Universe in your head? Of course it hasn’t.

So what’s on your bingo card? How about an anthology series featuring one-shot appearances from former – possibly unseen – Doctors? (Hugh Grant as a pre-Hartnell Doctor, anyone?) A stylish period spy-fi drama about the early years of UNIT? Jo Martin’s Fugitive Doctor versus The Division? A Dalek cartoon for the kids? The Humker and Tandrell Adventures…?

Will Russell be dusting off his proposal for Rose Tyler: Earth Defender? Is Torchwood coming back? (Er, probably not.) And will they please, for the love of the mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe, just give us something – anything – with Paul McGann in?

(12) PRODUCT PLACEMENT IN PRATCHETT. [Item by Meredith.] This is old (a 2011 post) but it’s so incredible I thought it might still deserve a spot in the Scroll: Terry Pratchett changes his German publisher because they inserted a soup advert into the text of one of his novels. “Terry Pratchett and the Maggi Soup Adverts” at Stuffed Crocodile.

…Fans of course got used to it, if it gave them access to the books, why not? But it became more and more grating the more genre literature was accepted into mainstream.

And then you actually had a bestseller author like Pratchett jump ship and go to the direct contender (Goldmann), just because one of these stupid stunts. I wonder how that actually was taken by the Heyne CEOs. Back then Pratchett was at the verge of becoming a star in Germany as well, so they lost him just when he was getting big….

There’s a scan of an ad in the post, too.

Diane Duane also wrote a post (with scans) on her blog in 2015: “What’s the Rihannsu for ‘soup’?” at Out of Ambit.

If the above (and below) images look a little bizarre, well, they should. They’re from long-ago German editions of My Enemy, My Ally and The Romulan Way into which the publisher inserted soup ads.

(13) NANO BUNDLE. StoryBundle is offering a 2021 NaNoWriMo Writing Tools Bundle, curated by Kevin J. Anderson.

Each year, as countless determined writers, both aspiring and professional, look at November as National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, we put together a grab back of helpful books that cover all aspects of writing, from craft, to business, to indie publishing, to marketing. This year is no exception.

Presenting a world-class StoryBundle of 16 books that will help you up your game as a writer. Plus, if you meet the bonus price, you can also get discount coupon codes for the ebook editing apps Jutoh 3 and Jutoh 3 Plus!

(14) IT’S A THEORY. Did social media clamoring for actress Lucy Lawless to be cast backfire? “Lucy Lawless Says ‘Mandalorian’ Fan Campaign to Replace Gina Carano Hurt Chances of ‘Star Wars’ Gig” at Yahoo!.

…Lawless revealed to Metro that she was actually circling a different “Star Wars”-adjacent role at the time of Carano’s firing, and she said the fans urging for her “Mandalorian” casting might’ve cost her a trip to a galaxy far, far away.

“Well to be honest with you, I was already in discussions about something on — it wasn’t ‘The Mandalorian’ — something Star Wars-affiliated,’ Lawless said. “[The fan campaign] might have hurt me in some way, because then [Lucasfilm] couldn’t hire me because it would seem to be pandering to…I’m just guessing here, I don’t know anything, but in some ways, it can be unhelpful, because if they pander to this fan group, then how are you going to pander to every other fan group, do you know what I mean?”…

(15) OCTOTHORPE. The Octothorpe podcast team, John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty, say about episode 41: “We recorded this before Fantasycon, but that didn’t stop us talking about it a whole bunch. We also talk about Novacon’s COVID policy, discuss the Ignyte Awards and do picks.”  “Leaves the Beans In”.

(16) ICE CUBE ROOTER. The New York Times knows “Where NASA Will Send Its First Robotic Moon Rover to Search for Ice”.

NASA has been planning for years to send a robotic rover to the moon’s polar regions. Water ice trapped at the bottoms of craters there could be a boon to future visiting astronauts, providing water to drink, air to breathe and rocket fuel to propel them back to Earth or even farther out into the solar system.

Now, NASA has identified the crater that the rover — the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER — will spend about 100 days exploring when it arrives in a couple of years.

VIPER will land near the moon’s south pole, at the western edge of the 45-mile-wide Nobile crater, which formed when something hit the moon. Near the poles, the sun is low on the horizon and the bottoms of craters, lying in permanent shadows, are among the coldest places in the solar system….

(17) BEYOND GOOSEBUMPS. SYFY Wire promotes the trailer for a new series based on R.L. Stine’s YA comic: “Just Beyond on Disney+ drops first spooky trailer for R.L. Stine series”.

Just Beyond. Based on the BOOM! Studios YA comic of the same name (written by Goosebumps and Fear Street creator, R.L. Stine), the eight-episode anthology heads for Disney+ in October. 

The official press release teases a collection of “astonishing and thought-provoking stories” about witches, aliens, ghosts, parallel dimensions, and more. Each episode will feature an entirely new cast of characters “who must go on a surprising journey of self-discovery in a supernatural world.” 

Seth Grahame-Smith (author of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and one of the writers behind HBO Max’s upcoming Green Lantern series) serves as writer, executive producer, and showrunner….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: WarioWare: Get It together!” Fandom Games says this new extension of the Warioware franchise features snappy little games with characters named 5-Volt, 9-Volt, and 12-Volt and in the next edition they’ll  “eliminate the middleman,” and is a snack-size alternative to watching TikTok videos of men punching themselves over and over.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Meredith, R.S. Benedict, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

Pixel Scroll 8/28/21 Around The File In 80,000 Pixels, Written By Scrolles Verne

(1) CLARION WEST ONLINE LEARNING. Clarion West is offering a large number of Online Classes & Workshops over the next three months. Here are just a few examples.

Are you interested in writing and submitting fiction to both “literary” and “speculative” markets? This class will cover submission practices and expectations for both fields, and will discuss key differences and similarities. Along with resources on how to find journals and magazines to submit to, the class will also discuss career-related topics such as MFA programs, speculative writing workshops, and how to apply for writing residencies, grants, awards, and conferences. 

The struggle of every short story is time. How can anyone tell a gripping, heart-wrenching story in so few words? 

One way is to create emotionally engaging characters—someone who will pull the reader into the story and won’t let go, even after the story ends. 

In this class, we will discuss how to create these types of characters in the space of a short story. We will cover topics such as voice, empathy, and reliable narration, as well as what characters can get away with in short fiction that they could not in a novella or novel. 

If you’ve listened to an audiobook or a podcast, then you’re familiar with how audio as a medium can truly transform a story, adding new dimensions and intricacies to what is “on the page.” Relatedly, audiobooks, audio dramas, and podcasting have seen an explosion in growth over the last decade in publishing. Still, the ways in which we experience oral storytelling have remained largely static, even if platforms have changed rapidly. This moment presents a unique opportunity for writers to expand their stories into a market hungry for audiobooks, including short-form stories, novels, and everything in between. 

In this workshop, Zelda Knight will cover step-by-step instructions on what to do and what not to do, common pitfalls, great resources, recommendations for distribution, and an overall insider’s look at how to transform your stories into audio with immersive SFX and narration.

From Lord of the Rings to Star Wars, trilogies are a tried and true way to tell an extended story, and it seems a majority of current science fiction and fantasy series follow the rule of three. However, writing a trilogy isn’t quite as simple as extending the principle of the three act structure. We’ll talk about how to set up your novel for trilogy potential and what to do when your publisher says, “We want a trilogy.” We’ll examine lessons from successful and unsuccessful trilogies and consider when a trilogy is and isn’t appropriate for the story you want to tell. We’ll then discuss how to plan out a story across three books, how to create satisfying narrative arcs within each book as well as over the entire trilogy, and what each book needs to accomplish. And we’ll also cover common pitfalls, such as how to avoid “second book syndrome,” how to create a sense of epic scale without losing focus, how to cover large time jumps, and more. 

(2) AN AMAZING EDITOR IN EVERY WAY. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Brian Murphy, author of Flame and Crimson – A History of Sword and Sorcery, shares his appreciation for Cele Goldsmith Lalli, the underrated editor Amazing Stories and Fantastic in the 1960s who rescued Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and Gray Mouser from oblivion, discovered John Jakes and Roger Zelazny (and David R. Bunch) and helped to usher in the sword and sorcery boom of the 1960s: “The Fantastic S&S contributions of Cele Goldsmith” at The Silver Key.

…Goldsmith had a reputation for bucking commercial trends throughout her career and so published Leiber’s less-fashionable S&S. In so doing she improved the climate and conditions that allowed sword-and-sorcery to reach full flower later in the decade with the publication of the unauthorized The Lord of the Rings, the republication of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars, and the publication of the Lancer Conan Saga…. 

(3) FUTURE TENSE. “’Beauty Surge’, a new short story by Laura Maylene Walter” — “What if your college dorm analyzed your sewage to find out if you’re pregnant or on drugs?” – is the latest story in the Future Tense Fiction series from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives.

Nora shut herself in the dorm suite’s bathroom, the inhaler clutched in her fist. Once she was within range of the ProtectFlo toilet sensor, her eight-digit campus identification code flashed across its display. The light flared from yellow to green, where it would remain until Nora exited. There was no way to circumvent the system unless, of course, one peed outside, maybe in the campus woods, but that would render vital health data inaccessible.

And there’s a response essay by Rolf Halden, director of the Biodesign Center for Environmental Health Engineering. “Are You Entitled to Privacy Over Your Pee and Poop? An expert on wastewater-based epidemiology responds to Laura Maylene Walter’s ‘Beauty Surge'”.

…But there always are those questions we need to ask, again and again: What information is OK to collect? How many people’s human waste needs to be mixed to make the data we collect anonymous? Who owns the data, and who deserves to learn about what it says? If a changing climate or global tourism bring new pathogens into your city and neighborhood, we work to be the first to tell you.

Powerful tools are neither good nor bad; it just depends how they are applied. Wastewater-based epidemiology and other health monitoring tools are no exception….

(4) LOOKING BACKWARD. Cora Buhlert’s new Retro Review is for “’The Green Huntsman’ by Dorothea Gibbons”, who is better known as Stella Gibbons, author of Cold Comfort Farm.

…The name Dorothea Gibbons will not mean anything to most people. However, Dorothea Gibbons is a very well known author, probably one of the most famous mainstream authors ever to publish in Weird Tales next to Tennessee Williams as a sixteen-year-old debut author (and I should really review his debut story some day). For Dorothea Gibbons was none other than British novelist, poet and journalist Stella Gibbons, author of Cold Comfort Farm (which is absolutely genre, even if most people don’t realise it). …

(5) HIJACK THE STARSHIP AGAIN. Rescheduled from 2019 – a live performance of 1971 Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo finalist Blows Against the Empire will take place October 23 at The Newton Theater in New Jersey.

The Airplane Family & Friends reunites Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, Hot Tuna, Grateful Dead, Bob Weir’s Rat Dog & David Crosby alumni to perform the 50th Anniversary of Paul Kantner / Jefferson Starship masterpiece “Blows Against the Empire”, in celebration of the late Hall of Fame musician’s birthday-next March. The album was recorded in San Francisco in 1970, the results derive from a period of cross-collaboration during late 1969 through 1971 by Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead & Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young recording at the time in the city.

The credit to Jefferson Starship reflected many things: the ad-hoc all-star line-up; the album being an evolutionary progression from Jefferson Airplane; and finally the narrative concept that tells the story of a counter-culture revolution against the oppressions and a plan to steal a starship from orbit and journey into space in search of a new home. It was the first album to ever be nominated for literary science fiction’s Hugo Award in the category of Best Dramatic Presentation.

(6) ALIEN CHOW CALL. “Science fiction writer Eli Lee dips into her imagination to create fictional worlds and fantastical, quotidian meals of the future.” “Writing for science fiction: Eating unfamiliar food in a familiar world”, a recording available at KCRW.

…In a piece for Vittles, Lee takes inspiration from writer Ursula Le Guin, whose work “Always Coming Home” anchors her fanciful cuisine to the hyperrigional dishes of her native Northern California upbringing. In her first novel “A Strange and Brilliant Light,” Lee delves into her past to create foods in her invented world. Referencing her beekeeper mother’s honey, Lee describes her imaginary dulac cake, allowing the reader to attach their own personal food history and emotions to her fiction.

(7) WALDROP TO THE SCREEN. “The Cooters Are Coming!” announces “The Big Cooter” George R.R. Martin, at Not A Blog. He’s helped produce a film based on a Howard Waldrop story.

…The producers of NIGHT OF THE COOOTERS — in no particular order — are Vincent D’Onofrio, Justin Duval, Joe Dean, Taylor Church, Martin Sensmeier, L.C. Crowly, Greg Jonkajtys, Elias Gallegos, Lenore Gallegos, Amy Filbeck, Joe Lansdale, and Howard Waldrop His Own Self.

And me… though I rather think I may credit myself as The Big Cooter.

When and where will you be able to see NIGHT OF THE COOTERS?

Well, that’s hard to say. We shot everything on green screen, so the post production process is going to be a lengthy one. The ball has now been passed to our friends at Trioscope, who will supply the backgrounds and special effects. We are thinking the final cut won’t be ready until early next year. And once the film is complete… well, alas, I doubt it will be showing at a multiplex near you. It’s a short film, as I said, and shorts just don’t get the distribution of full-length features. They hardly get any distribution at all, sad to say. I expect we will enter COOTERS in some film festivals here and there. Maybe some streamer will pick it up. Maybe we can release it on DVD or Blu-Ray. Maybe we can make a few more Waldrop movies and assemble them all into an anthology of sorts, like CREEPSHOW or TWILIGHT ZONE. One thing I can promise: we will be having a premiere somewhere down the line at the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe.

Howard never made much money off his stories. I expect his film won’t make much money either. But that’s not point.

Some stories just need to be told. Some movies just need to be made. Call it a labor of love.

(8) COMIC-CON MUSEUM. Held back by the pandemic, the “San Diego Comic-Con Museum to open in November” says the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Comic-Con Museum’s 2019 preview day.

… COVID-19 did more than delay the museum — it also canceled the in-person Comic-Con two years in a row. Not only was it a hit to the pocketbook of the nonprofit that runs the convention, but also San Diego’s tourism industry. The launch of the museum is welcome news to many in the community.

“With the museum’s construction under way,” San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said in a statement, “we’re closer than ever to welcoming a global audience to get a taste of the Comic-Con experience in the middle of our city’s crown jewel, Balboa Park.”

Visitors to the new museum Thanksgiving Week will be only seeing the first phase of the project, which will include exhibits of comic book art, part of an education center, an atrium and artwork from past conventions. Other parts of the three-floor museum, which Comic-Con said will be completed by July 2022, will be worked on as the museum stays open….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1998 – Twenty-three years ago, The New Addams Family premiered on Fox Family. It’s considered a revival of the Sixties series The Addams Family. (To date, it is the last Addams Family television series done, with only a computer-animated feature following it twenty years later.) With the exception of Ellie Harvie who portrayed Morticia Addams here and later was Dr. Lindsey Novak in Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, the cast will not be familiar to you. (Though John Astin would show up in a guest role as Grandpapa Addams.) She won two Leo Awards, given out by the British Columbia film and television industry for her work on this series. It would last two seasons, consisting of seventy-eight thirty-five minute episodes in total. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 28, 1916 Jack Vance. I think I prefer his Dying Earth works more than anything else he did, though the Lyonesse Trilogy is damn fine too. And did you know he wrote three mystery novels as Ellery Queen? Well he did. And his autobiography, This Is Me, Jack Vance!, won the Hugo Award, Best Related Book at Aussiecon 4. He won two other Hugos, one for his short story “The Dragon Masters” at DisCon 1, another at NyCon 3 for “The Last Castle” novelette.” (Died 2013.) 
  • Born August 28, 1917 Jack Kirby. Responsible for a goodly part of modern comics from Captain America and the X-Men to Challengers of the Unknown and the New Gods. I’m very much looking forward to the New Gods film being worked on now that delayed by the Pandemic. He would have been up for a Retro Hugo at MidAmeriCon II for Captain America Comics #1 but it was  ineligible, not having been published in 1940, but in 1941. (Died 1994.)
  • Born August 28, 1948 Vonda N. McIntyre. I’ve read a number of her works including  Dreamsnake and The Moon and the Sun which are all phenomenal. Dreamsnake won a Hugo at Seacon ‘79 as well a Locus Award for Best SF Novel and a Nebula nomination. The Moon and the Sun which won a Nebula was based on a short story of hers done has a faux encyclopaedia article “The Natural History and Extinction of the People of the Sea,” that was illustrated by Le Guin. Way cool. (Died 2019.)
  • Born August 28, 1949 Charles Rocket. A memorable recurring role on Max Headroom as the sleazy corporate executive Grossberg. His genre appearance otherwise are extensive and include Quantum LeapWild PalmsLois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanStar Trek: VoyagerX-Files and a lot of voice work including the Batman franchise of course. (Died 2005.)
  • Born August 28, 1951 Barbara Hambly, 70. Author of myriad genre works including the James Asher, Vampire NovelsThe Windrose Chronicles, and the Sun Wolf and Starhawk series. Some Trek work. Her only Award was a Locus Award for Best Horror Novel for Those Who Hunt the Night. She was married for some years to George Alec Effinger.
  • Born August 28, 1965 Amanda Tapping, 56. She’s  best known for portraying Samantha Carter on Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. She also starred as Helen Magnus on Sanctuary which I never managed to see. Anyone seen it? She was in The Void which also starred Adrian Paul and Malcolm McDowell. 
  • Born August 28, 1978 Rachel Kimsey, 43. She voices Wonder Woman on Justice League Action, yet another series that proves animation, not live, is the DC film strong point. Here’s a clip of her voice work from that show. She was Zoe, the old imaginary friend of Frances, on Don’t Look Under The Bed, a supposed horror film that ran on Disney. Disney, horror? And she was a zombie in the “Don’t Let Her Pull You Down” musical video by New Found Glory. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) DUNE WHAT COMES NATURALLY. The Guardian asks: “Will Denis Villeneuve’s Dune finally succeed where others failed?” Videos of the 3 versions at the link.

What kind of fool of a film-maker would proceed with part one of a major fantasy epic without first establishing that the studio backing it will stump up the cash for part two? That was the position Ralph Bakshi found himself in when his divisive 1978 animated take on JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings failed to wow critics, and it’s the one Denis Villeneuve finds himself in with regard to his forthcoming take on Frank Herbert’s space fantasy Dune, which arrives in cinemas and on the streaming service HBO on 22 October.

There is no doubt that the first big-screen take on this tale of interstellar rivalries since David Lynch’s 1984 misfire has hype in spades. Early trailers featuring Timothée Chalamet as the messianic Paul Atreides, as well as a stellar cast including Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Charlotte Rampling and Javier Bardem, wowed sci-fi fans. But then, Villeneuve’s previous sci-fi spectacular, Bladerunner 2049, was similarly a fan favourite and earned rapturous reviews, yet ended up with a middling box-office take. All talk of a third movie swiftly evaporated….

(13) WRITER’S CHANGE OF VENUE AFFECTS A MENU. “H.P. Lovecraft Writes Olive Garden’s Dinner Menu” by Sam Woods at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

Fried Calamari

Tendrils crusted in grit assail my palate. Begotten of the sea, yet containing the essence of a carnival….

(14) A TWELVE YEAR MISSION. Which is a bit longer than Trek officers are ordinarily involved with: “‘Star Trek’ star Tim Russ helps detect asteroid for NASA’s upcoming mission” reports USA Today.

Tim Russ, who played Lieutenant Commander Tuvok on the sci-fi show “Star Trek: Voyager” is going back to his space roots. On his latest mission, he’s helping detect asteroids for NASA.

Russ and five other citizen astronomers contributed to the detection of Patroclus, an asteroid orbiting Jupiter. 

The purpose of detecting the asteroid is to serve NASA’s upcoming mission in October where it will launch a probe named Lucy into space, according to Russ. NASA said in a statement posted to their website that Lucy will complete a 12-year journey to eight different asteroids: a Main Belt and seven Trojans.

“These Trojan asteroids were captured in Jupiter’s orbit, probably from farther out in the solar system, so they’re more rare and more pristine in terms of what information they might have in their chemical makeup,” Russ tells USA TODAY.

According to NASA, the Trojan asteroids are “stabilized by the Sun and its largest planet in a gravitational balancing act. …These primitive bodies hold vital clues to deciphering the history of the solar system, and perhaps even the origins of organic material on Earth.”

Russ helped detect Patroclus using a Unistellar eVscope and eQuinox telescope, a computerized telescope with a built-in GPS that connects to any cellphone.

“It will simply find a starfield on its own and it will figure out where it is. You just punch in the object you want to go see,” Russ says.

(15) LOONEY OR NOT? NASA wants to know if a 3D printer can print useful objects from moon dust — Digital Trends has the story. “NASA Tests 3D Printer That Uses Moon Dust to Print in Space”.

When a Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) this week, it carried a very special piece of equipment from Earth: A 3D printer that uses moon dust to make solid material.

NASA is testing out the printing system from company Redwire for use in its upcoming Artemis moon missions, hoping to make use of the moon’s dusty soil (technically known as regolith) as raw material for printing. The idea is to use readily available materials on the moon to make what is required instead of having to haul lots of heavy equipment all the way from Earth.

Engineers have been considering how to 3D print using moon regolith for some time and have demonstrated the process on Earth. But sending a 3D printer into the microgravity environment of the ISS for testing is a big new step in getting the technology ready to use…. 

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Empire introduces the “Full Trailer For Trippy Alan Moore-Penned Noir Thriller The Show”

We’ve been monitoring the progress of the Alan Moore/Mitch Jenkins brain-bender The Show for nearly a year now. And, as it finally secures a release date, the full trailer for the trippy film has arrived….

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Rob Thornton, Lise Andreasen, Michael J. Walsh, Cora Buhlert, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]

Pixel Scroll 8/1/21 Scroll Them From Orbit—It’s The Only Way To Be Sure!

(1) CLARION WEST NEXT SUMMER. The lineup of instructors for Clarion West’s 2022 In-Person Summer Workshop has been announced. The Clarion West 2022 Six-Week Summer Workshop will take place from June 19 – July 30, 2022 in Seattle. Applications for the 2022 Summer Workshop open in December 2021. 

(2) CLARION WEST THIS FALL. Clarion West also previewed their Fall 2021 lineup of Online Classes & Workshops which includes “but is definitely not limited to” —

  • “Hiding the Infodump and Fluffing the Scenecraft” with Henry Lien,
  • “The Rule of Three” and writing trilogies with Fonda Lee,
  • A multi-session editing workshop with Cat Rambo,
  • Writing the modern Southern gothic with Eden Royce.

(3) BIPOC HORROR ANTHOLOGY KICKSTARTER IS LIVE. A Kickstarter appeal launched today to publish the anthology “Death in the Mouth: Original Horror By People of Color” edited by Sloane Leong and Cassie Hart. They have raised $4,086 of their $35,000 goal in the first twelve hours. The fundraiser continues until September 1.

(4) DRAGON CON ISSUES GUIDELINES. Today Dragon Con announced everyone will wear masks at the con: “Updates – Dragon Con”. There are some additional rules about room capacity and traffic flow at the link.

Face masks and reduced attendance

Appropriate face masks will be required at all times inside convention venues regardless of vaccination status, in keeping with updated CDC guidelines and City of Atlanta requirements.

In 2021, Dragon Con will have reduced capacity from prior years. We have worked closely with our hotels and AmericasMart to determine how many people are permitted in the buildings each day and at a given time and taken further steps to reduce capacity to allow for personal spacing.

They also will have limits on their traditional parade and who can view it live:

We have received our parade permit and at this time will host a modified and scaled back parade. A Dragon Con membership is required to view the parade live and in person for 2021. All others can watch the parade on CW69, our broadcast partner, or on line at YouTube and other social media platforms.

(5) NOT JUST ANYBODY CAN DO IT. Delilah S. Dawson shared some behind-the-scenes info about writing IP books. Thread starts here. (Am I wrong to equate these with media tie-in books? Today was my first encounter with the “IP books” term.)

(6) CONVERSATION WITH ISHIGURO. The Washington Post ran an abridged version of this interview with Sir Kazuo Ichiguro, but here’s a full transcript from Nashville Public Television.

Ishiguro: I can’t imagine what kind of person or what kind of writer I’d be if I hadn’t experienced parenthood. It’s not just the actual hardcore experiences that you have, worrying about your child’s exams and stuff like that. Your perspective shifts. Many, many people will tell you this. Your perspective shifts. Emotionally, intellectually, you look at the world differently. I think your perspective becomes longer as well. You’re not just looking at things in your own lifetime. You see things in terms of your child’s lifetime, your grandchildren’s lifetime, your great grandchildren’s lifetime. The way you look at life, our existence, everything seems to change. And it changes at that kind of empathetic, emotional level.

Occasionally I come across writers who say if you have children it messes up your career. I think this is a profound mistake, unless you think a writing career is just about sitting down and producing a certain quantity of writing.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

August 1, 1928 — Ninety-three years ago on this date, Buck Rogers (then named Anthony Rogers) makes his first appearance in the “Armageddon 2419 A.D” novella by Philip Francis Nowlan who would later become a member of the First Fandom Hall of Fame. It was published in the August 1928 issue of Amazing Stories, edited by Hugo Gernsback. A sequel novella called “The Airlords of Han” was published in the March 1929 issue of Amazing Stories. Fifty years later, they would become a single novel as editor Donald A. Wollheim of Ace Books had them combined into one narrative. Spin-offs from the novel would include a Thirties newspaper comic strip, a Thirties Buck Rogers in the 25th Century radio program, a Thirties movie serial Buck Rogers, a Seventies television series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century film.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 1, 1862 M.R. James. Writer of some of the best ghost stories ever done. A Pleasing Terror: The Complete Supernatural Writings, released in 2001 from Ash-Tree Press has forty stories which includes the thirty stories from Collected Ghost Stories plus the 3 tales published after that, and the seven from The Fenstanton Witch and Others. It’s apparently the most complete collection of his stories to date. Or so I though until I checked online. The Complete Ghost Stories of M.R. James, over seven hundred pages, is available from the usual suspects for a mere buck ninety nine! (Died 1936.)
  • Born August 1, 1910 Raymond A. Palmer. Editor of Amazing Stories from 1938 through 1949. He’s credited, along with Walter Dennis, with editing the first fanzine, The Comet, in May, 1930. The secret identity of DC character the Atom as created by genre writer Gardner Fox is named after Palmer. Very little of his fiction is available from the usual suspects. (Died 1977.)
  • Born August 1, 1930 Geoffrey Holder. You’ll likely best remember him for his performance as Baron Samedi in Live and Let Die but he’s also the narrator in Tim Burton’s Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. He was also Willie Shakespeare in Doctor Doolittle but it’s been so long since I saw the film that I can’t picture his character. And he was The Cheshire Cat in the Alice in Wonderland that had Richard Burton as The White Knight. Weird film that. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 1, 1941 Craig Littler, 80. His main genre role was as space adventurer Jason in Jason of Star Command which of course James Doohan was in.  If you looked closely you’ll spot him briefly in Blazing Saddles as Tex and Rosemary’s Baby as Jimmy as well. And he has one-offs in The Next BeyondAirWolf and Team Knight Rider.
  • Born August 1, 1945 Yvonne Rousseau. Australian author, editor and critic. She edited the Australian Science Fiction Review in the late Eighties. She wrote one work of non-fiction, Minmers Marooned and Planet of the Marsupials: The Science Fiction Novels of Cherry Wilder, and has a handful of stories to her name. She got nominated for three Ditmar Awards for her fan writing. (Died 2021.)
  • Born August 1, 1955 Annabel Jankel, 66. Director who was first a music video director and then the co-creator and director of Max Headroom. She and her partner Rocky Morton first created and directed The Max Talking Headroom Show, a mix of interviews and music vids which aired on Channel 4 (UK) (where it was sponsored by Coca-Cola) and HBO. Jankel and Morton would go on to direct Super Mario Bros. And they’re both responsible for the Max Headroom movie and series. 
  • Born August 1, 1979 Jason Momoa, 42. I knew I’d seen him before he showed up as Aquaman in the DC film franchise and I was right as he was Ronon Dex on Stargate Atlantis for its entire run. He was also Khal Drogo in the first season of A Game of Thrones. And not surprisingly, he was the title character in the recent Conan the Barbarian film.
  • Born August 1, 1993 Tomi Adeyemi, 28. Nigerian born author. She won a Lodestar Award at Dublin 2019 for her Children of Blood and Bone novel which also won her an Andre Norton Award. That novel was nominated for a BFA, a Kitchie and a Nommo.  Her latest in that series is Children of Virtue and Vengeance

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Marmaduke entertains a visitor from outer space.

(10) HAMMER HAND. Here’s one we can all play. Entertainment Earth asked: “What character NOT from the Marvel universe do you think would be worthy of wielding Mjolnir?”

Paul Weimer tweeted a great set of answers (Atticus Finch!!) See what you can do.

(11) OOPS. H&I points out “10 Minor Goofs You Never Noticed In ‘Star Trek'”.

4. A WOODEN STARSHIP

“Errand of Mercy”

In the opening, as the Enterprise is attacked by a Klingon vessel, you can see that the floor behind Nimoy has not been painted. The bare wood is exposed on the elevated part of the bridge.

(12) UMBRELLA ARRIVING. This video announces that Mary Poppins will be reopening in London on August 7. (Petula Clark as the Bird Woman – where has the time gone? Petula was singing pop hits when the ancient Jane Darwell played that character in the original Disney movie.)

Mary Poppins is back in London! Whipping the barriers off the Prince Edward Theatre, Zizi Strallen prepares to return to wowing London audiences. Leading the show are the previously announced Zizi Strallen as Mary Poppins and Charlie Stemp as Bert, joined by Charlie Anson as George Banks, Amy Griffiths as Winifred Banks, Petula Clark as Bird Woman, Liz Robertson as Miss Andrew, Claire Machin as Mrs Brill, Jack North as Robertson Ay and Paul F Monaghan as Admiral Boom and Bank Chairman.

(13) BIRD BRAINS. “Big brains may have helped birds survive dinosaur-killing asteroid”Yahoo! has the latest speculation.

Just a few million years before an asteroid killed nearly all dinosaurs on Earth, a creature resembling a small albatross with teeth flew through the Cretaceous skies. The creature, known as Ichthyornis, is considered an early bird — but not part of the lucky lineage that survived the mass extinction and gave rise to modern birds.

Now, a newly discovered Ichthyornis fossil sheds light on why some early birds survived the asteroid-triggered catastrophe known as the K-Pg extinction, while close relatives like Ichthyornis perished. The key may have been a vastly expanded forebrain — a trait that all modern birds possess, but Ichthyornis and other extinct lineages lack….

(14) TINY EFFECTS. “Dorset photographer shoots Star Wars Lego in cinematic style”BBC News shares an intriguing video at the link.

Not content with merely building his Star Wars Lego kits, photographer Daniel Sands has found another use for his collection.

The 34-year-old Dorset photographer tested his creativity during lockdown by putting his models into the action of the movie universe.

He said he uses everyday items such as baking soda and the ashes from his barbecue to give his pictures a cinematic look.

Creative or realistic toy photography is a growing trend on social media, and Star Wars star Mark Hamill has even liked one of his posts.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, Sloan Leong, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

Pixel Scroll 7/9/21 Someday We’ll Find It, The Scrolling Convention

(1) CLARION ONLINE EVENTS. Each year Clarion West brings the Write-a-thon to the global community. This is the second year it’s been presented virtually. Check out the free virtual panels and readings coming your way.

Register at the link for “Uncovering Cover Art” featuring Grace P. Fong, Sloane Leong, Aimee Fleck, and John Jennings, on Monday, July 12 at 6:30 p.m. Pacific.

While books capture our hearts, covers are what call to readers from the shelves. What makes an eye-catching, imagination-sparking cover? What do authors need to know about the process? Come learn the answers from some of the hottest artists and book designers in the industry.

You also can register at this link for “Mental Health & Writing” with Susan Palwick, Chaplain, Cassie Alexander, ICU RN, and Justin C. Key, MD on Monday, July 19 at 6:30 p.m. Pacific.

Authors and other artists are often stereotyped as struggling with our mental health. With increased emphasis in media and culture toward understanding and promoting mental health, writers have more resources and self-care tools than ever before. Learn about establishing healthy writing habits and writing about difficult subjects from a panel of authors who are also professionals in fields related to health and wellness.

(2) MEET THE NEW BOSS. James Davis Nicoll, for one, is happy to welcome our “Alien Overlords: Five SF Futures Where Humans Are No Longer in Charge” at Tor.com. (OK, not really, but the line begs to be used here.)

Humans are accustomed to seeing ourselves as the rulers of creation, apex beings with the right to rearrange the world for our convenience. For many people this is a central tenet of faith, little challenged by the occasional pandemic or environmental collapse. SF authors, however, are willing to consider that this just might be wrong. Many works have explored what it would be like if we were one day to discover that superior entities now ruled our world. Humans would be domestic animals, mere puppies of Terra…

Consider the following five works that challenge human supremacy….

(3) MORDOR ON THE RIVIERA. “An Enduring Fellowship” in Deadline Disruptors+Cannes on pages 34-41 can be read magazine-style at Issuu.

In 2001, a lavish Cannes part, and 26 minutes of footage changed the course of film history. As Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings approaches its 20th anniversary, Mike Fleming Jr. gathers key players to look back at a breathtaking gamble.

(4) VIDEO GAME LEGENDS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster, Designated Reader, Financial Times.] In the July 7 Financial Times, Tom Faber discusses urban legends about games that drove users mad (mad, I tell you, mad!)

Much gaming creepypasta revolves around video games for children such as Pokemon and Mario. There is the story of Herobrine, a misty-eyed character who stalks Minecraft, only glimpsed in the distance or through fog.   Another concerns a mod for fantasy adventure Morrowwind named “Jvk1166z.esp’ which causes characters to stare blankly at the sky while a figure with long, spidery limbs haunts the edges of your screen.  Neither myth has been substantiated.

Some popular legends concern haunted games that probably never existed. Polybius was supposedly a 1980s arcade game, created as part of a US government experiment, that induced psychoactive reactions in players.  More recently, a YouTube video emerged called ‘Sad Satan’ that showed a creepy corridor in a mysterious game apparently downloaded on the dark web,  Online commented eager jumped on these, untangling references to serial killers and psy-ops, but both are likely hoaxes dreamt up by horror fans.

(5) TSR’S CHESHIRE CAT IMITATION. En World tries to follow the bouncing brand in the face of a new press release from TSR: “ Just when you thought it was all over…. now there’s a fourth TSR!”

In the story that will never end, after having this week turned itself into Wonderfilled, Inc, and deleted its Twitter account, TSR is BACK AGAIN! Like again, again, again, again. Complete with old-school logo! And Michael appears to actually exist!

Michael K. Hovermale says in a press release that an unnamed individual (I’m guessing Stephen Dinehart) apparently ran all the social media accounts for TSR, Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum, Ernie Gygax, Justin LaNasa, and Giantlands. He goes on to say that this person has been replaced, and that all posts on those social media accounts are “invalid”. There’s no mention of Stephen Dinehart’s social media accounts though.

…The existing (TSR3} website still says it’s WONDERFILED (sic), Inc. However there’s now a NEW one at TSR Hobbies. We’ll call that TSR3.5 for now. I’m struggling to distinguish TSRs from tribbles at this point. They just keep on coming!

Here’s the text of the TSR press release at PR.com: “TSR Appoints New Public Relations Officer; Responds to Social Media Mismanagement”.

TSR has replaced the individual that was serving as both social media manager and information technology manager for TSR and The Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum. This individual was also the social media manager for Giantlands, Justin LaNasa, and Ernie Gygax.

All posts on all social media accounts for TSR and Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum should be considered invalid.

All posts on all social media accounts of Justin LaNasa and Ernie Gygax should be considered invalid.

TSR is in the process of recovering the social media accounts of TSR, The Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum, and the personal Twitter accounts of Justin LaNasa and Ernie Gygax….

Ernie Gygax:
“I wish to speak directly to the transgender community regarding this incident. The individual who was speaking to you on Twitter does not represent me or TSR in any way. Trans people are always welcome to play with us. Everyone is welcome at our table.”

(6) THE MARS MY DESTINATION. Dwayne Day discusses a 1969 proposed NASA Mars rocket that inspired Gordy Dickson, Stephen Baxter and Lego builders today in “Flights to Mars, real and LEGO” in The Space Review.

…Boeing’s design [submitted in 1968] has shown remarkable staying power and still appears in artwork decades later. Now, Boeing’s design has been recreated in LEGO form, in three-dimensional plastic glory that you can build yourself….

The political winds had shifted against expensive human space exploration long before the summer of 1969 and the Mars mission, which was only supposed to be the capstone at the top of NASA’s ambitious plans, never had a chance for approval. NASA officials soon found themselves scrambling to justify any human spaceflight activity at all, let alone the exquisite program they had envisioned.

But by this time, the Mars spaceship design had gone public. Marshall Space Flight Center artists had produced artwork showing the multiple phases of the Mars mission and that artwork was soon published in many places, such as books about future spaceflight. The Apollo-shaped MEM also became iconic and was also illustrated by numerous artists. Although the public knew that a future Mars mission had not been approved, they could reasonably expect that if it eventually happened, this was what it would look like.

In 1978, Canadian-American science fiction author Gordon Dickson published the novel The Far Call, about a mission to Mars which employed a spacecraft similar to the one outlined in 1969. It also appeared in Allen Drury’s heavy-handed 1971 book The Throne of Saturn. In 1996, Stephen Baxter published Voyage, which also used a similar spacecraft, although an accident involving a nuclear propulsion stage has tragic consequences. (See: “Space alternate history before For All Mankind: Stephen Baxter’s NASA trilogy,” The Space Review, June 8, 2020.)

(7) PATTY JENKINS AND STAR WARS. “Patty Jenkins says she’s ‘free’ to create the Star Wars story she wants” notes Fansided. Patty Jenkins, director of two Wonder Woman movies, was announced by Disney in late 2020 to be helming the next Star Wars feature film, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. 

The Hollywood Reporter’s Chris Gardner included Star Wars questions in a recent interview: “Patty Jenkins Thinks Streaming’s Day-and-Date Strategy Won’t Last”.

You had one of the best announcements of the pandemic, in my opinion, when you suited up and revealed that you are directing Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. How is development going?

It’s going amazing. I had been on it already for six months before I even announced that, so we’re pretty deep into it. We’re finishing a script, crewing up, and it’s all going wonderful. I’m so excited about the story and excited that we’re the next chapter of Star Wars, which is such a responsibility and such an opportunity to really start some new things. It’s really exciting in that way.

What is the consulting process like with the Star Wars brain trust?

There’s plenty of it. It’s an entirely different way of working. I’m on the phone with all of them and doing Zoom meetings with everybody involved in Star Wars all the time. I’m fairly free to do the story that we want to do, but you really need to know who’s done what, who’s doing what, where it goes and how it works, and what designs have been done before. It’s a whole other way of working that I’m getting up to speed on.

(8) WILLIAM SMITH (1933-2021). Actor William Smith, famous as the opponent of Clint Eastwood’s Philo Beddoe in the climactic bare-knuckle fight that ends  Any Which Way You Can (1980), but whose 274 career credits includes many genre productions, died July 5 at the age of 88. The Hollywood Reporter profile mentioned these sff TV and movie appearances:

An inductee into the Muscle Beach Venice Bodybuilding Hall of Fame, Smith was perfect for the role as Adonis, a henchman for Zsa Zsa Gabor’s evil Minerva on Batman. On the ABC show’s final episode in 1968, he was on the receiving end of a Whamm!!, Zowie!, Splatt!, Crash! and Sock! from Batman, Robin and Batgirl.

…He also played the father of the title character in Conan the Barbarian [1982], writing his own lines for his monologue that opens the film. “No one, no one in this world can you trust … not men, not women, not beasts … this you can trust,” he says pointing to the movie’s iconic steel sword.

…Smith appeared in the cult movies Piranha (1972), where he said his stunt with a very large anaconda almost cost him his life, as an FBI agent in Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973), and as a drag racer in David Cronenberg’s Fast Company (1979).

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • July 9, 1982 – Thirty-nine years ago, Tron premiered. The producer was Donald Kushner. It was written and directed by Steven Lisberger from the story by himself and Bonnie MacBird. The cast was Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner, Cindy Morgan and Barnard Hughes. The film was well received by critics with Ebert in particular loving it. However it did poorly at the Box Office and the studio wrote it off as a loss. (The sequel, Tron: Legacy, was a box office success.) Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a decent rating of sixty-nine percent. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 9, 1911 — Mervyn Peake. Best remembered for the Gormenghast series which is quite delightfully weird. Most fans hold that there are but there novels in the series (Titus GroanGormenghast and Titus Alone) though there’s a novella, “Boy in Darkness”, that is a part of it. It has been adapted for radio three times and television once, and Gaiman is writing the script for a forthcoming series which as now isn’t out. (Died 1968.)
  • Born July 9, 1938 — Brian Dennehy. He was Walter in the Cocoon films, and, though it’s more genre adjacent than actually genre, Lt. Leo McCarthy in F/X and F/X 2. He also voiced Django in  Ratatouille. His very last performance was as Jerome Townsend in the “Sing, Sing, Sing” episode of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels series. (Died 2020.)
  • Born July 9, 1944 — Glen Cook, 77. With the exception of the new novel which is still on my To Be Read list, I’ve read his entire excellent Black Company series. I’ve also mostly liked his far lighter Garrett P.I. series (though not the last novel for reasons I’ll not discuss here) which it seems unfortunately he’s abandoned. And I should read the Instrumentalities of the Night as I’ve heard good things about it. 
  • Born July 9, 1945 Dean Koontz, 76. The genres of of mystery. horror, fantasy and  science fiction are all home to him. Author of over a hundred novels, his first novel was SF — it being Star Quest (not in print) published as an Ace Double with with Doom of the Green Planet by Emil Petaja. ISFDB claims over half of his output is genre, I’d say that a low estimate. 
  • Born July 9, 1954 — Ellen Klages, 67. Her novelette “Basement Magic” won a Nebula Award for Best Novelette. I strongly recommend Portable Childhoods, a collection of her short fiction, which published by Tachyon Publications, my favorite publisher of fantasy. They released another collection from her, Wicked Wonders, which is equally wonderful. Passing Strange, her 1940 set San Francisco novel, which won a BSFA Award and a World Fantasy Award, is also really great. Ok, I really like her.
  • Born July 9, 1971 — Scott Grimes, 50. He’s Lieutenant Gordon Malloy on The Orville. He did show up once in the Trek verse, playing Eric in the “Evolution“ episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. And you might recognize him as Bradley Brown in the first two Critters films. 
  • Born July 9, 1978 — Linda Park, 43. Best known for her portrayal of communications officer Hoshi Sato on the Enterprise. Her first genre role was Hannah in Jurassic Park III, and she was Renee Hansen in the Spectres filmwhich Marina Sirtis was also in. Her latest genre role was in For All Mankind as Amy Chang in the “Pathfinder” episode. 
  • Born July 9, 1995 — Georgina Henley, 26. English actress, best remembered  for her portrayal of Lucy Pevensie throughout the Chronicles of Narnia film franchise from age ten to age fifteen.  She’s listed as having an unspecified role in an untitled Game of Throne prequel series but given the number of those proposed, this may or may not exist. Actually I’d bet on it not happening. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) HERE’S INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING FOR YA. Texas Monthly checked in with the artists who did the comic book that adorns the lawsuit filing: “Houston Comic Book Store Filed a Lawsuit in Comic Form”. (See the images in the June 30 Pixel Scroll, item #12).

They filed the lawsuit as … a comic book?

Sure enough. Artists Michael Charles, Maurice Terry Jr., Michael Brooks, and Benjamin Carbonero of Bad Cog Studios illustrated the 24-page comic at the request of Third Planet owner T.J. Johnson and his attorney, Cris Feldman. “I was really intrigued by it because, first of all, I got a lawyer calling me to do a creative project,” Charles told the Chronicle. The full-color comic shows the store staff fending off an onslaught of ceramic plates, lit cigarette butts that they allege have twice caused fires, and no fewer than fourteen fire extinguishers tossed from hotel balconies onto the store’s roof. One panel depicts store employees using buckets to collect water as rain leaks through the damaged roof onto the shelves.

Is this legal?

It is, in fact! It’s unconventional, but the law doesn’t require that pleadings in civil cases be black-and-white typed documents formatted in any particular way. Still, there are good reasons why most lawsuits look the same: one judge might be amused by an unusual pleading, while another may consider it beneath the dignity of the court; a gimmicky pleading might undermine the gravity of the case; and, of course, not every suit lends itself to creative storytelling. The pleading from Third Planet is a unique case. It’s a third amended petition, which means that the parties involved are already in the middle of the legal process. The store and its attorneys know who the judge reviewing the claim is, and whether he’s the sort to hold this gimmick against them. Also, according to the pleading, lawyers for the defendant claimed that they didn’t understand the previous petition, which meant that filing it as an easy-to-comprehend comic book fits the time-honored legal tradition of being snarky to opposing counsel.

(13) NONE SO BLIND. The Hollywood Reporter’s kerfuffle coverage, “Dean Cain Lambastes ‘Woke’ Captain America Comic; Gets Roasted on Twitter in Return”, includes Cain’s admission that he didn’t read the issue. (But James Bacon did, and recently reviewed it for File 770: “Captain America of the Railways and Joe Gomez”.)

Dean Cain was still trending Friday on Twitter after criticisms he made about the new Captain America comic series earlier in the week on Fox & Friends.

The former Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman star and Donald Trump supporter, bashed The United States of Captain America comic series due to a line in the first issue in which Cap says the American dream for some “isn’t real.”

Cain took issue with that notion, saying everyone in the country should support the U.S.A.

“I love the concept of Captain America, but I am so tired of this wokeness and anti-Americanism,” Cain said on the Fox News Channel program. “In my opinion, America is the greatest country in history. It’s not perfect. We are constantly striving for a more perfect union, but I believe she’s the most fair, equitable country anyone’s ever seen, and that’s why people are clamoring to get here from all over the globe.”

Calling himself a “revolutionary” for supporting America these days, Cain added, “Do these people ever travel outside of America? Do they go to other countries where they have to deal with governments who aren’t anywhere near as fair as the United States? I don’t think they do. I do it all the time, and I kiss the soil when I get back.”

Needless to say, his comments did not go over well with most, a lion’s share of the reaction on social media blasting Cain for his short-sightedness.

Cain later admitted that he had not actually read the comic, he was just responding to a conservative outlet that reported on one line in the book to which ultra Right-wingers then dug in their claws….

(14) HE’S DEAD, JIM. When Loki visits The Simpsons, Stan Lee won’t be with him: “Marvel Blocks Stan Lee Cameo in ‘The Simpsons’-‘Loki’ Crossover Short”.

The long-standing tradition of Stan Lee appearing in every Marvel Comics film, television show and video game has come to an end – “The Simpsons” showrunner, Al Jean, says Marvel prevented them from adding a cameo appearance of the comic book legend in their new animated short, “The Good, the Bart, and the Loki.”

In the short, Tom Hiddleston, as Loki, makes his debut appearance in “The Simpsons” universe for a cartoon that makes an array of allusions to other MCU prominent characters. But there is no sign of Lee.

Jean told ComicBook.com that he and his team considered inserting a tribute to Lee upon discovering unused audio files of the creative genius from a prior engagement with the show.

“It wasn’t a joke,” Jean said. “We just thought, ‘Oh, we have Stan Lee audio from when he was on our show. Could we cameo him in?’”

However, Marvel summarily nixed the plan due to a new policy they have established concerning the beloved author.

“They said that their policy is he doesn’t cameo now that he’s passed away. Which is a completely understandable policy,” Jean explained. “That was their only note and that was, of course, easily done.”

(15) AGAINST THE GRAINS. “World’s biggest sandcastle constructed in Denmark” reports The Guardian. At 21.16 metres in height, it is more than 3 metres taller than the previous holder, says Guinness World Records.

Its Dutch creator, Wilfred Stijger, was assisted by 30 of the world’s best sand sculptors. He said he wanted the castle to represent the power the coronavirus has had over the world since the beginning of the pandemic. On top of the sandcastle is a model of the virus wearing a crown.

“It’s ruling our lives everywhere,” Stijger said. “It tells you what to do … It tells you to stay away from your family and not go to nice places. Don’t do activities, stay home.”

To make it more cohesive, the sand contains approximately 10% clay and a layer of glue was applied after it was completed so that it could stand up to the chilly and windy conditions of the autumn and winter.

Blokhus residents have been delighted to see local features incorporated into the sandcastle, such as beach houses and lighthouses, as well as depictions of popular activities such as windsurfing and kitesurfing.

The castle is expected to stand until the heavy frost sets in, probably next February or March.

(16) KHAN! Io9 debuted DUST’s “Star Trek Khan William Shatner Scream in Claymation”. The whole thing is 10 seconds long. The lip-quiver preceding the scream is what makes it great.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Danish Road Safety Council reminds people that if you’re going to invade another country you should wear a helmet!

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, James Davis Nicoll, Rich Horton, John A Arkansawyer, Michael Toman, Rich Lynch, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 6/30/21 Imagine There’s No Pixels

(1) HELICOPTER OVERVIEW. In “How Twitter can ruin a life: Isabel Fall’s complicated story” at Vox, Emily VanDer Werff’s interview with author Fall is threaded throughout a wide-ranging commentary about the ways “Isabel Fall’s sci-fi story ‘I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter’ drew the ire of the internet” and what happened next. The article begins —

“In a war zone, it is not safe to be unknown. Unknown travelers are shot on sight,” says Isabel Fall. “The fact that Isabel Fall was an unknown led to her death.”

Isabel Fall isn’t dead. There is a person who wrote under that name alive on the planet right now, someone who published a critically acclaimed, award-nominated short story. If she wanted to publish again, she surely could.

Isabel Fall is a ghost nonetheless.

In January 2020, not long after her short story “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter” was published in the online science fiction magazine Clarkesworld, Fall asked her editor to take the story down, and then checked into a psychiatric ward for thoughts of self-harm and suicide.

The story — and especially its title, which co-opts a transphobic meme — had provoked days of contentious debate online within the science fiction community, the trans community, and the community of people who worry that cancel culture has run amok. Because there was little biographical information available about its author, the debate hinged on one question: Who was Isabel Fall? And that question ate her alive. When she emerged from the hospital a few weeks later, the world had moved on, but she was still scarred by what had happened. She decided on something drastic: She would no longer be Isabel Fall….

(2) AND THE WINNER IS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The public has selected “Commander Moonikin Campos” as the official name of the manikin to be launched on Artemis I, the uncrewed flight test of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft around the Moon. The launch is currently scheduled for later this year. The namesake of the moonikin is Arturo Campos — electrical power subsystem manager for the Apollo 13 lunar module — who was a key player in bringing that mission safely back to Earth. ”Public Names ‘Moonikin’ Flying Around Moon on NASA’s Artemis Mission” at NASA.

The final bracket challenge was between Campos and Delos, a reference to the island where Apollo and Artemis were born, according to Greek mythology. 

… The other six names under consideration were:

  • ACE, for “Artemis Crew Explorer.”
  • DUHART, a dedication to Irene Duhart Long, chief medical officer at Kennedy Space Center from 2000 to 2010.
  • MONTGOMERY, dedication to Julius Montgomery, first African American to work as a technical professional at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, now known as Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
  • RIGEL, a giant superstar in the Orion constellation.
  • SHACKLETON, a crater on the Moon’s South Pole, which is named after famous Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton.
  • WARGO, a dedication to Michael Wargo, NASA’s first chief exploration scientist.

The Moonikin is a male-bodied manikin previously used in Orion vibration tests. Campos will occupy the commander’s seat inside and wear an Orion Crew Survival System suit– the same spacesuit that Artemis astronauts will use during launch, entry, and other dynamic phases of their missions.

Campos will be equipped with two radiation sensors and have additional sensors under its headrest and behind its seat to record acceleration and vibration data throughout the mission. Data from the Moonikin’s experience will help NASA protect astronauts during Artemis II, the first mission in more than 50 years that will send crew around the Moon….

(3) MORE OMENS. Good Omens has been renewed For Season 2 at Amazon reports Deadline. Neil Gaiman fills in the details at his blog in “Really Bloody Excellent Omens…”

It’s been thirty-one years since Good Omens was published, which means it’s thirty-two years since Terry Pratchett and I lay in our respective beds in a Seattle hotel room at a World Fantasy Convention, and plotted the sequel. (I got to use bits of the sequel in the TV series version of Good Omens — that’s where our angels came from.)

Terry was clear on what he wanted from Good Omens on the telly. He wanted the story told, and if that worked, he wanted the rest of the story told.

So in September 2017 I sat down in St James’ Park, beside the director, Douglas Mackinnon, on a chair with my name on it, as Showrunner of Good Omens. The chair slowly and elegantly lowered itself to the ground underneath me and fell apart, and I thought, that’s not really a good omen. Fortunately, under Douglas’s leadership, that chair was the only thing that collapsed. 

… So that’s the plan. We’ve been keeping it secret for a long time (mostly because otherwise my mail and Twitter feeds would have turned into gushing torrents of What Can You Tell Us About It? long ago) but we are now at the point where sets are being built in Scotland (which is where we’re shooting, and more about filming things in Scotland soon), and we can’t really keep it secret any longer.

There are so many questions people have asked about what happened next (and also, what happened before) to our favourite Angel and Demon. Here are, perhaps, some of the answers you’ve been hoping for. 

As Good Omens continues, we will be back in Soho, and all through time and space, solving a mystery which starts with one of the angels wandering through a Soho street market with no memory of who they might be, on their way to Aziraphale’s bookshop. 

(Although our story actually begins about five minutes before anyone had got around to saying “Let there be Light”.)

(4) KNOWN UNKNOWNS. Asimov’s does a “Q&A with Ursula Whitcher”, whose poem “Ansibles” appears in the current issue. The intro says Whitcher “is ready to fight for the honor of being the second-most-famous SF author named Ursula” – something definitely to aspire to, but I think at the moment that space is already filled.

Asimov’s Editor: The first line of your poem is, “I can’t explain gravity without using gravity.” Have you ever actually tried to explain gravity?

UW: I have! As well as being a poet, I’m a mathematician. My research is inspired by the physical theory of string theory, which offers one way to unify quantum physics and general relativity. I took more classical courses in general relativity as a graduate student, so I’ve spent quite a bit of energy working out equations for possible shapes of spacetime.

(5) THE BRADBURY LEGACY. The American Writers Museum in Chicago is hosting an exhibit called “Ray Bradbury: Inextinguishable” through May 2022.

Ray Bradbury is perhaps best-known for writing Fahrenheit 451The Martian Chronicles, and The Illustrated Man. He was much more than those stories though: a screenplay writer, a friend to Walt Disney, and an amateur painter, just to name a few.

From a young age, Ray was obsessed with finding a way to live forever. He will certainly be remembered for his writing, but his influence elsewhere may surprise you.

To explore the virtual exhibit, click on the link. To visit in person, see the information about Chicago Museum Tickets & Hours.

[Visit] the American Writers Museum in Chicago, your ticket into the interactive, inspirational, and surprising world of American writing of all genres. Learn about the history of writing in the United States and how it has shaped our lives through exhibits that stretch your imaginations and appeal to all 5 senses.. Then, explore the intricacies of language through games and try writing something for yourself on a vintage typewriter!

(6) LESS CURSE, MORE FILLING. The New York Times says “‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ to Slim Down Before Broadway Return”.

…The show will continue to run in two parts in London; Melbourne, Australia; and Hamburg, Germany, but will be a single part in New York, San Francisco and Toronto. It was not immediately clear how long that single part would be; the two parts have a total running time of about 5 hours and 15 minutes.

Structured essentially as a stage sequel to J.K. Rowling’s seven wildly popular “Harry Potter” novels, the show was the most expensive nonmusical play ever to land on Broadway, costing $35.5 million to mount, and another estimated $33 million to redo Broadway’s Lyric Theater. Before the pandemic, the play was routinely grossing around $1 million a week on Broadway — an enviable number for most plays, but not enough for this one, with its large company and the expensive technical elements that undergird its stage magic.

The play, a high-stakes magical adventure story with thematic through lines about growing up and raising children, was written by Jack Thorne and directed by John Tiffany, based on a story credited to Rowling, Thorne and Tiffany. Thorne and Tiffany said they had been working on a new version of the show during the pandemic, which, they said, “has given us a unique opportunity to look at the play with fresh eyes.”

The writers did not say what kind of changes they would make, but the production promised that the new version would still deliver “all the amazing magic, illusions, stagecraft and storytelling set around the same powerful narrative.”

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” began its stage life in London, opening in the summer of 2016, and winning nine Olivier awards — the most of any play — in 2017. It arrived on Broadway in 2018, picked up six Tony Awards, and initially sold very strongly, grossing about $2 million a week. But the sales softened over time, as average ticket prices fell, apparently because of a combination of the lengthy time commitment and the need to buy two tickets to see the whole story, which made it particularly expensive for families….

(7) GAMING CONS ISSUE BANS. There are two different companies using the TSR name. The one known as TSR™ on Twitter is associated with Ernest Gygax as Vice President, who made news with some transphobic comments (which are discussed in GeekNative’s post “The new TSR Games clarify position as key names appeared to distance themselves”.) Two major gaming cons have now said they are closed to Gygax’s company.

The GenCon gaming convention made with this statement:

The Origins Game Fair has said the Gygax-connected TSR company is also unwelcome at their event.

(8) BOUCHARD OBIT. Detroit area fan and fanzine publisher Alexander Bouchard was killed yesterday in an automobile accident. Al produced a fanzine called The Lightning Round. He also liked to post political comment videos on his YouTube Channel AlexanderFilmWorks — the last two in January criticizing the attack on the Capitol. He is survived by his widow, Megan. A GoFundMe appeal has been opened by their friends Kimberly and Miki Ivey: “Al Bouchard’s burial and help for his wife Megan”.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • June 30, 1971 – On this date fifty years ago, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory premiered. It was directed by Mel Stuart and produced by Stan Margulies and David L. Wolper. It was based off Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. The exemplary cast consisted of Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum, Roy Kinnear, Julie Dawn Cole, Leonard Stone, Denise Nickerson, Dodo Denney and Paris Themmen. Some critics really didn’t like it, some kind of liked it and most were very fond of it. It really didn’t do well at the box office though not even making back production and marketing costs. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a very superb rating of eighty-seven percent. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 30, 1902 — Lovat Dickson. Australian-born publisher and author who was half-brother of Gordon R Dickson. He wrote a biography of H G Wells, H G Wells: His Turbulent Life and Times. (Died 1987.)
  • Born June 30, 1905 — Nestor Paiva. Sometimes it only takes one film or series  for a performer to get a Birthday write-up from me. Paiva makes it for Lucas the boat captain in The Creature from the Black Lagoon and its oft-forgotten sequel Revenge of the Creature. Though that was hardly his only genre role as his first role was in the early Forties as an uncredited prison guard in Tarzan’s Desert Mystery and he’d be in many a genre film and series over the decades as Prof. Etienne Lafarge in The Mole People, as the saloon owner in (I kid you not!) Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, Felicity’s Father in The Spirit Is Willing, Captain Grimby in “The Great Treasure Hunt” of The Addams Family and a Doorman in the “Our Man in Leotards” episode of Get Smart. (Died 1966.)
  • Born June 30, 1920 — Sam Moskowitz. SF writer, critic, and historian. Chair of the very first World Science Fiction Convention held in NYC in 1939. He barred several Futurians from the con in what was later called the Great Exclusion Act. In the Fifties, he edited Science-Fiction Plus, a short-lived genre magazine owned by Hugo Gernsback, and would edit several dozen anthologies, and a few single-author collections, most published in the Sixties and early Seventies. His most enduring legacy was as a historian of the genre with such works as Under the Moons of Mars: A History and Anthology of “The Scientific Romance” in the Munsey Magazines, 1912–1920 and Hugo Gernsback: Father of Science Fiction. First Fandom named its award for collecting after him. (Died 1997.)
  • Born June 30, 1959 — Vincent D’Onofrio, 62. His long running-role is Dective  Goren on Law and Order: Criminal Intent which is in no way genre. He was Kingpin in the Daredevil film, Edgar the Bug in the only truly great Men in Black film to date and Vic Hoskins in Jurassic World. He also was Jason Whitney / Jerry Ashton in The Thirteenth Floor, loosely based upon Simulacron-3, a early Sixties novel by Daniel F. Galouye.
  • Born June 30, 1961 — Diane Purkiss, 60. I’ve not read her Corydon Trilogy she wrote with Michael Dowling, her son, but I can say that At the Bottom of the Garden: A Dark History of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Nymphs, and Other Troublesome Things is as splendid as the title suggests it is. She’s also written Fairies and Fairy Stories: A History
  • Born June 30, 1963 — Rupert S. Graves, 58. Here because he played Inspector G. Lestrade on that Sherlock series. He also appeared on Doctor Who as Riddell in the Eleventh Doctor story, “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”. He had one-offs in The Nightmare Worlds of H. G. Wells: The MothTwelve MonkeysKrypton and Return of the Saint
  • Born June 30, 1966 — Peter Outerbridge, 55. Dr. David Sandström in what I think is the underrated ReGenesis series as well being Henrik “Hank” Johanssen in Orphan Black anda recurring role on Millennium as Special Agent Barry Baldwin. He’s currently in two series, The Umbrella Academy with a recurring role as The Conductor, and as Calix Niklosin in V-Wars, yet another Netflix SF series. 
  • Born June 30, 1972 — Molly Parker, 49. Maureen Robinson on the current Lost in Space series. One-offs in Nightmare Cafe, The Outer Limits, The SentinelHighlander: The SeriesPoltergeist: The Legacy,  Human Target and she appeared in The Wicker Man asSister Rose / Sister Thorn. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frazz tries to for maximum reading efficiency.

(12) LOOK OUT BELOW. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] Third Planet Sci-Fi and Fantasy Superstore in Houston is suing the hotel next door to them because guests at the hotel keep dropping junk on top of the bookstore’s roof, and recently caused a lot of damage.  The suit is being presented in an unusually nifty format though!  To see the entire comic, skip down to page six of the Plaintiff’s Petition. (Screencaps from Above the Law’s post “Comic Store Includes Graphic Novel Of Allegations In Filing”.)

(13) CLARION CALL. The Clarion West Write-A-Thon is under weigh, but you can still get on board.

Here’s part of the FAQ:

2. How does the Write-a-thon work?

Participating writers sign up beginning June 7. They set writing goals, put up excerpts of their work, and use social media to let people know that they’re writing for a good cause. There are all kinds of writing goals—from the manageable “write for five minutes a day” to the ambitious “finish a novel” or “finish six short stories.” Every writer in the Write-a-thon chooses a goal that works for them.

This summer, writers may participate in additional online events, including affinity groups, writing sprints, (recorded) craft talks, and more. See [page] for the full list of perks.

After the Write-a-thon kicks off on June 20, friends and family can visit the Write-a-thon site, choose a writer or writers they would like to support, and use the button on each writer’s page to sponsor them. Every week, writers get a report on who’s donated to them, allowing them to communicate with their supporters. Many writers send their supporters updates on their progress, or show off their completed work at the end of the Write-a-thon, but it’s not required.

3. Am I too late to join?

The 2021 Clarion West Write-a-thon runs from June 20 to July 31. But no worries if you got here midway through; there’s no last day to sign up as a participant, and you can donate until August 31. 

(14) YOUR FIRST. Clarion West is also doing a panel about “Releasing Your First Book” on July 5 at 6:30 p.m. Pacific. “Releasing your first book is tough any time. Hear from four Clarion West alumni who did it last year and learn what their journey was like.” Register here.  The panel features Elly Bangs, Lauren Dixon, Emily Skaftun, and E. Lily Yu. 

On Monday, July 5, we’re hosting our first live panel: Releasing Your First Book. Learn what the journey was like from four Clarion West alumni — Elly Bangs (CW, ’17, author of Unity, Tachyon Publications), Emily Skaftun (CW ’09, author of Living Forever & Other Terrible Ideas, Fairwood Press), Lauren Dixon (CW ’10, author of Welcome to the Bitch Bubble, Hydra House Books), and E. Lily Yu (CW ’13, author of On Fragile Waves, Erewhon Books) — who released their books last year.

(15) NOT DEAD YET. This one is airplane hijackers v. vampires–and it’s in French! Blood Red Sky on Netflix.

Nadja and her ten-year-old son are on an overnight flight from Germany to New York when a group of terrorists violently take control of the plane and threaten the lives of the passengers. Suddenly Nadja faces an impossible choice – should she reveal her dark side and the inner monster she has kept hidden from her son for years in order to save him? The hunters become the hunted in this action-horror from director Peter Thorwarth.

(16) STAR HEIST. James Davis Nicoll recommends “Five SFF Characters To Help You Execute the Perfect Caper” at Tor.com.

…The core members of such a team might include a mastermind (to plan the heist), a thief (to get past any security devices), the driver (to orchestrate exfiltration), the muscle (in case something goes horribly wrong), and of course, the distraction (because it is much easier to get away with stuff if everyone is looking in the wrong direction). Speculative fiction offers numerous candidates who would combine the required expertise with the necessary moral flexibility. Here are the five SFF characters I’d pick for my retrieval team.

The Driver: McGill Feighan (The Journeys of McGill Feighan series by Kevin O’Donnell, Jr.)

McGill Feighan is a “flinger,” a teleporter whose reach spans the Milky Way. He is also one of the very few flingers to escape the Flinger Network’s methodical conditioning, which prevents flingers from doing anything untoward. Although he is not criminally inclined, he is at the centre of a compelling mystery—why did the terribly mysterious Far Being Retzglaran orchestrate McGill’s kidnapping as a baby?—and if you can convince him the job will somehow get him closer to answering that question, he may turn a blind eye to certain legal niceties. With him by your side, the entire galaxy is within reach.

Note: The vast criminal gang known as the Organization would also like an answer to McGill’s question. They play rough, so try not to attract their attention. Or the attention of the Far Being Retzglaran, for that matter.

(17) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter witnessed these stumbles on tonight’s episode of Jeopardy!

Final Jeopardy: 20th Century Novels

Answer: British biochemist J.B.S. Haldane’s essay on ectogenesis, birth outside the womb, helped inspire this 1932 novel.

Wrong questions: “What is ‘Metamorphosis’?” and “What is ‘Steppenwolf’?”

Right question: “What Is ‘Brave New World’?.”

(18) WE SEE EXOPLANETS. HOW DO THEY SEE US? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] One of the best ways we currently detect exoplanets is when their orbit intersects our line of sight with their host star: these exoplanets transit their star. As said, this only works when observer, planet and star are all aligned. However, just as we can this way detect exoplanets, so exoplanets about stars in the plane of our Earth orbiting the Sun can similarly detect the Earth!

Assuming aliens have at least the same technology as us, how many of these are there?

Two US astronomers, using data from the Gaia mission that takes into account the movement of stars, have worked out how many stars could detect an Earth transit of the Sun.

It turns out that over the past 5,000 years there were some 1,715 stars within 100 parsecs (~350 light years) of the Earth that could detect us using the transit method. Currently, today, there are 1,402 stars that could detect the Earth using the transit method with our level of technology. Of these 128 are G type stars like our Sun.

The astronomers also estimate, taking a pessimistic view of our current exoplanet catalogue, and applying a probability based on that, that there 508 rocky planets in the habitable zone of these stars.

Finally, assuming that we have been generating significant radio waves for about a century, they calculate 29 of these potentially habitable rocky planets could, were there aliens there listening, be in a position to also detect our radio signals.

(See Kaltenegger, L. & Faherty, J. K. (2021) “Past, present and future stars that can see Earth as a transiting exoplanet” Nature, vol. 594, p505-7.)


(19) MARTIAN HOPS. Also from open access articles in Nature: “Mars Helicopter Kicks Up Dust Clouds – And Unexpected Science”.

Ingenuity, NASA’s pint-sized Mars helicopter, has kicked up some surprising science on its flights over the red planet. When whizzing through the Martian air, its blades sometimes stir up a dust cloud that envelops and travels along with the tiny chopper. In several videos of Ingenuity’s flights, planetary scientists have seen dust whirling beneath the helicopter’s rotors — even when Ingenuity is flying as high as 5 metres above the Martian surface. That suggests that dust can get lifted and transported in the thin Martian air more easily than researchers had suspected….

(20) VIDEOS OF THE DAY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan, actors who played hobbits in The Lord of the Rings movies (Pippin Took and Merry Brandybuck), appeared on The Late Show to promote their podcast “The Friendship Onion.” Host Stephen Colbert referred to it as completing his set of Hobbits as he has previously interviewed Elijah Wood and Sean Astin—as well as many other LotR actors. There was singing, trivia, and banter plus a video appearance by Peter Jackson.

Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd share stories from the set of the “Lord of the Rings” movies and get our host to join them in singing a Hobbit drinking song. You can hear more from them in their new Lord of the Rings podcast, “The Friendship Onion.”

Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, and special guest Peter Jackson try to find a “Lord of the Rings” trivia question that will stump our host. And to up the stakes, they have a special LOTR prize for Stephen if he can get it right.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Justin Busch, Lloyd Penney, Robin A. Reid, Jennifer Hawthorne, Daniel Dern, David K.M. Klaus, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day microtherion.]