Pixel Scroll 2/5/24 To Boldly Scroll Where No Fan Has Scrolled Before

(1) MCCARTY Q&A. Chris Barkley’s audio interview with Dave McCarty was published here overnight: “Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask #81”. The audio recording is at Soundcloud. A transcript is here.

(2) SPARE CHANGE? The New Zealand Mint has a line of The Lord Of The Rings™ Collectible coins.

Set in the mythical world of Middle-earth, The Lord of The Rings fantasy saga follows hobbit Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee and a fellowship of characters as they embark on a quest to destroy the One Ring. Considered one of the greatest works of the 21st century, its popularity has spawned numerous adaptions.

Return to Middle-earth with our limited-edition THE LORD OF THE RINGS™ coins. Made from pure gold or silver, they feature characters and landscapes from the epic fantasy adventure films. Crafted in fine detail with themed packaging, they make the perfect memento for any fan!

Famed Middle-Earth locations feature in these gold coins.

And the silver series includes one with Gollum. Heads he wins, tails you lose!

(3) LEST GRIMDARKNESS FALL. [Item by Anne Marble.] Sebastian Milbank, in an article for the British magazine The Critic (called a “contrarian conservative magazine”) refers to “grimdark” as “Grimdull” — and seems to think they are both “liberal” and “leftist.” (Umm, those are not the same thing.) The article also flings darts at Michael Moorcock and Phillip Pullman. And it calls Breaking Bad grimdark?! Boy, does this article ever make a lot of assumptions about the writers (and readers) of grimdark! And it uses a lot of words in which to do so.

For those unblessed (or uncursed) with an interest in contemporary fantasy, the phrase “Grimdark” may suggest the name of some 2000s era Goth club. It’s a recent coinage for an ongoing craze in “gritty” and dark fantasy settings, epitomised and popularised by George RR Martin, becoming the default tone for a whole range of feted fantasy offerings from Joe Abercrombie’s First Law series featuring a dark, brooding protagonist who kills a lot of people — and occasionally feels bad about it — to Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire Trilogy featuring a dark, brooding protagonist who kills a lot of people — and occasionally feels bad about it.

It’s a genre with a number of consistent features. It’s generally in a mediaeval fantasy setting, but shorn of any romance. Characters are overwhelmingly cynical, and those few who exhibit nobility are treated as foolish or naive. Generally a chaotic war is happening, or about to happen. Religion features, but largely as a tool of social control, often portrayed (usually with some real effort given the baseline awfulness) as even more cruel and cynical than the secular world around it. Dark observations about human nature substitute for any moral drama, with characters seeking to outwit, manipulate or overpower one another in a kind of Darwinian struggle for dominance.

It’s a script born of vaguely liberal, vaguely radical, vaguely anarchic sentiments common to most contemporary creative “industries”. But fantasy, with its over escapism and heroic aristocratic setting, presents something of a problem. This is the inner tension of left wing fantasy — how can a genre defined by apparent escapism not end up serving reactionary ends?…

Grimdark author Joe Abercrombie has a very concise takedown:

(4) ALERT FOR CONVENTION EMAIL RUNNERS. Andrew Trembley shared this alert on Facebook.

For y’all running conventions and running convention email, if you haven’t set up SPF, DKIM and DMARC, you need to do it yesterday. If you’re reading this on Monday, February 5, literally yesterday, because today is the day Google and Yahoo started refusing mail from many email services that have failed to implement SPF, DKIM and DMARC.

(ETA long version, did not include in the share)

I’m seeing people saying “Google is starting to block more non-Gmail senders.” Now they’re right from the perspective they’re looking at this from, but they’re not seeing the whole picture.

It’s not non-Gmail senders. It’s also not just Gmail.

So what is happening? Bear with me, this is long…

(5) MARY SOON LEE Q&A. Space Cowboy Books hosts an “Online Reading and Interview with Mary Soon Lee” on Tuesday, February 6 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free HERE.

How-to astronomy poetry to answer vexing questions such as How to Surprise Saturn, How to Blush Like Betelgeuse, and How to Survive a Black Hole.

“Unraveling meaning from partial glimpses of the universe has preoccupied astronomers for thousands of years. Mary Soon Lee’s remarkable collection of poetry traces this journey, capturing the wonder of the celestial bodies that comprise our universe, the elegance of the rules that guide its evolution and the humanity of those who search to better our understanding.” -Andy Connolly, Professor of Astronomy, University of Washington

Mary Soon Lee is a Grand Master of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association, and has won the Rhysling Award, the Elgin Award, and the AnLab Readers’ Award. Her work has appeared in Science, American Scholar, Spillway, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and Strange Horizons. This is her second collection of science poetry, following on from Elemental Haiku: Poems to honor the periodic table three lines at a time. Born and raised in London, she now lives in Pittsburgh.

(6) FAN FALLOUT. The Seattle 2025 Worldcon committee answered a query on Facebook by saying that neither Dave McCarty nor anyone else from the Chengdu Worldcon team will be involved with their Hugo Awards.

(7) SALAM AWARD OPEN FOR SUBMISSIONS. The Salam Award, which promotes imaginative fiction in and about Pakistan, reminds Pakistani writers they have until midnight July 31 to submit entries for the award. See full guidelines at this link. Participants must either be currently residing in Pakistan, or be of Pakistani birth/descent.

(8) DANISH COMPLETIST. “Modstand og håb” at Superkultur is written in Danish, however, Lise Andreasen has provided an English translation in the first comment.

Niels Dalgaard is a patient man – not only in his persistent attempt to collect all the science fiction that has been published in odd corners of the Danish publishing world, but more specifically in this case in his project: to read through the approximately 250 novels that has been published in Danish, which can be placed in the category “youth dystopias”….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 5, 1941 Stephen J. Cannell. I have come this Scroll to talk of not cabbages and kings but a man who as a mystery writer showed up regularly playing poker as himself in the Castle series with Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle — Stephen J. Cannell. James Patterson, Michael Connelly, and Dennis Lehane were the other such writers here. I’ll talk about his work as a novelist later. 

Nathan Fillion as mystery writer Richard Castle, playing poker with real-life authors Michael Connelly, James Patterson and Stephen J Cannell.

The Zorro rip-off, scripted in its one season by him, The Night Rider, described by IMDB this way, “A refined New Orleans gentleman becomes a masked crimefighter by night, both to uphold law and order and to find the men who murdered his family in order to get their silver mine” is genre the same The Shadow or Doc Savage is in that it’s pulp.

Between that series and what I’m about to note next, scripting shows, the good, the bad and the truly awful made him very wealthy. So he got to produce a series that he said was one he’d to do a very long time ago — The Greatest American Hero.  You know the story of it so I want go into deep detail here, but suffice it to say that he was very happy with its success.

Veering way out of genre, I’m going to note he created Baa Baa Black Sheep (which was renamed Black Sheep Squadron for the second season for reasons unknown by the Powers That Be), a series I really liked.

I’ll note next 21 Jump Street which he created with Patrick Hasburgh which was about the cases of an undercover police unit composed of really great looking young officers specializing in youth crime. Definitely not genre, so why mention it? Because that featured Johnny Depp who would later do so many genre performances. And yes, he’d done one before this series as Greg Lantz in A Nightmare on Elm Street.

He loved making low budget horror films such as The Demon HunterThe Fairy and Left in Darkness. All shot on all cheap budgets (and this is after he became very wealthy), shot on locations you wouldn’t go without security in armor and shot fast enough you’d suspect use of interesting drugs to keep everyone alert, there’s more than makes sense of these in his IMDB listings. Stephen, you devil. Possibly literally.

Now about that poker game on Castle. All four of those players are there because they are mystery writers. Cannell wrote a series of novels about Shane Scully who was a detective in the LAPD force. I don’t know if they actually played poker in those scenes but I suspect they did. 

(10) SATISFIED FAN. Cora Buhlert heaps praise on a He-Man adaptation: “The Revolution Will Be Televised: Some Thoughts on Masters of the Universe Revolution”.

…So I watched Revelation and it turned out to be not just some nostalgic fun, but so much more. Here was the He-Man story I always wanted to see, a series which took the characters seriously in all their beautiful absurdity and found new depths in them and even managed to make me cry (something western animation in general very rarely does – crying is for anime), while also harkening back to the early 20th SFF which had inspired Masters of the Universe in the first place. Plus, the animation was gorgeous and finally looked as good as the Filmation cartoon looked in my memory, but never in reality, and the voice cast was stellar….

(11) GROUNDHOG DAY CAST REUNION. “Bill Murray celebrates ‘Harold Ramis Day’ Groundhog Day” at CBS Chicago.

This Groundhog Day, Woodstock Willie did not see his shadow — and thus said we should expect an early spring this year.

But at a ceremony in Chicago on Friday, a groundhog named Chicago Harry did not agree.

But first off, why is there a groundhog prognosticating on the trajectory of winter in Woodstock, Illinois? The answer, of course, is that in the 1993 film “Groundhog Day,” Woodstock stood in for Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania — home of Groundhog Day celebrations since the 1880s.

Ever since the movie came out 31 years ago, Woodstock Willie has been up there with Punxsutawney Phil in the real Punxsutawney among large-rodent long-range winter forecasters.

Members of the cast of the iconic film reunited for the first time at Navy Pier Friday, marking 31 years since the film was released. But Friday was also about honoring Harold Ramis and commemorating 10 years since his death….

…”I think it’s great that we’re here and, I don’t want to be too Irish, but it’s very nice of Harold to make it a very nice, mild day for today,” Murray said. “He’s up there stirring the clouds around, making that low pressure move out to Indiana and just drenching, ruining those people’s lives over there in Indiana.”

Ramis’ wife, Erica, was in attendance, beaming with pride as many spoke wonders about her husband. She even read a letter from former President Barack Obama encouraging people to enjoy the day as Ramis would. 

The ceremony included re-enactments of Punxsutawney festival emcee Buster Green (Brian Doyle-Murray) knocking at the tree stump with his cane, where a groundhog named Chicago Harry made his prediction.

Ken Hudson Campbell (“man in hallway”), Robin Duke (Doris the waitress), Marita Geraghty (Nancy Taylor), Richard Henzel (the DJ), Don Rio McNichols (drum player), David Pasquesi (the psychiatrist), and Peggy Roeder (the piano teacher) were also in attendance.

And unlike Woodstock Willie, and Punxsutawney Phil, Chicago Harry saw his shadow — and predicted six more weeks of winter after all.

(12) GOING ROGUE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Just learned that the 2000AD strip Rogue Trooper film is at last moving forward. Director Duncan (Moon, Source Code) Jones teased about this back in 2018 and it now looks like a cast is being pulled together. “Duncan Jones’ Rogue Trooper Movie Cast Announced, Including Hayley Atwell, Sean Bean, and Matt Berry” at IGN.

The cast for Rogue Trooper, the upcoming movie from Moon and Warcraft director Duncan Jones, has been announced. The animated adaptation of the classic 2000 AD comic will be headlined by Aneurin Barnard, Hayley Atwell, and Jack Lowden, and will also feature a number of other well-known British stars such as Sean Bean.

Aneurin Barnard, who previously starred in The Goldfinch and Dunkirk, plays the titular Rogue Trooper, a blue-skinned, genetically-engineered soldier fighting on the toxic battlefields of a seemingly never-ending war. The sole survivor of a massacre that killed his squadmates, he’s on the hunt for the traitor that arranged their deaths. He does this with the aid of three of his killed-in-action squadmates, whose digital personalities still remain conscious after death and are uploaded into Rogue’s gun, helmet, and backpack….

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Science Futurism with Isaac Arthur this week took a look at Death Worlds. These are planets on which, once you land, they set out to kill you.  Unlike most of Isaac Arthur’s episodes (other than his monthly ‘Sci-Fi Sundays’) which have a (highly speculative) science take, this one has as much a science fictional approach, starting as it does with the legendary Harry Harrison’s DeathWorld series of the 1960s. Along the way, he gives us a number of SFnal examples… So, pour a mug of builders and sit back for a half-hour episode (it won’t kill you)…

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

Pixel Scroll 1/15/24 The Hypoteneuse of the Squares Of The City Is Equal To The Fifths Of The Other Two Scrolls

(1) BRINGING UP THE REAR. Cora Buhlert’s latest Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre story is “In Exile”.

… “And then I said, ‘With all due respect, Your Majesty – not that I think you’re due any – you can kiss my…”

“Malcolm, please tell me you didn’t tell the King to kiss your arse?”

“Oh, I was very polite. I said butt.”

“Sigh. Malcolm, you’re unbelievable.”…

(2) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Space Cowboy Books presents episode 71 of the Simultaneous Times podcast. Stories featured in this episode:

“Cynscout” by KC Grifant with music by Phog Masheeen

“The Almost-Activation of Ruby Valentine’s Catastrophe Machine” by Jenna Hanchey with music by Fall Precauxions

(3) A NEIGHBORHOOD OF DOCTORS. [Item by Steven French.] An interview with the 12th Doctor: “’The government has been too terrible to make fun of’: Peter Capaldi on satire, politics and privilege” in the Guardian.

…Capaldi became famous as the permanently angry spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in the BBC comedy The Thick of It, which ran from 2005 to 2012 and, after that, between 2013 and 2017, he played the sternest, least imp-ish Doctor Who in decades. In his new Apple TV show, a police procedural called Criminal Record, which Capaldi co-produced with his wife, Elaine Collins, he stars as an ageing detective: another scowler. Now, coffee in hand, he smiles affectionately. So, did he bump into any other Doctor Whos this morning? “David [Tennant, 10th Doctor] used to live in Crouch End, near me. Matt [Smith, 11th Doctor] lives around here. Jodie [Whittaker, 13th Doctor] is nearby, Christopher [Eccleston, 9th Doctor] too, I think.” But no, no encounters with his fellow alumni this morning, Capaldi says….

(4) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [By Ersatz Culture.] A few recent-ish Chengdu-related items ahead of the release of the Hugo nomination statistics.  NB: with a couple of exceptions, all of the links below are to Chinese language pages.

Chengdu con reports posted by Zero Gravity

A couple of days ago, RiverFlow posted updates to Twitter about the next issues of the Hugo winning fanzine, Zero Gravity.

Several of the reports which (presumably) will appear in the upcoming issues have already been posted online.  Whilst I don’t think there are any previously-unheard revelations, they do provide further insight into the varying experiences that domestic attendees had.  In the order that they’ve been published online:

The last item isn’t really a con report as such; it’s more of an article about Brian Aldiss’ relationship with China.  It has an interesting tidbit that in 1979 Aldiss was part of a British delegation that had an audience with future-leader Deng Xiaoping.  This meeting was apparently captured on video, and the author ponders whether the recording might still be lurking in a vault somewhere.

WSJ China features science fiction in their review of the year

In December, the Chinese edition of The Wall Street Journal published the first of a series of articles about notable events in 2023, entitled “Recording the ‘Year of Science Fiction’: Is this year really a new starting point for Chinese science fiction?”  It opens (via Google Translate, with minor manual edits):

In years to come, when people look back on 2023, they will surely notice the weight of science fiction in it.

Since the beginning of the year, there has been the popularity of the movie “The Wandering Earth 2” and the [Chinese, not Netflix] TV adaptation of “The Three-Body Problem”.  “Journey to the West” with only a 2 million yuan [around $300k USD] budget unexpectedly earned over 60 million yuan [around $8.4m USD] at the box office. Phenomenal movies, topics such as the universe, the metaverse, and artificial intelligence continue to gain popularity. Science fiction themes in literary creation are experiencing a “big explosion” in China. People are increasingly talking about the impact of the Internet on everyday life.  Consider the changes that the rapid development of science and technology has had on people…

This year, following Liu Cixin and Hao Jingfang respectively winning the Hugo Awards for Best Novel in 2015, and Best Novelette in 2016, there was once again a Chinese winner, Hai Ya, who won this year’s Hugo Award for Best Novelette. Winning [a Hugo] is highest honor for international science fiction writing.

People can’t help but wonder, did the golden age of European and American science fiction end in the last century? Has the secret to its resurrection been found in China today?

The core focus of the piece is the Chengdu Worldcon, and there’s a fair bit about the Chinese Hugo winners – although Enzhe Zhao is seemingly ignored – but the absence of any details or photos from the event makes me think that the author of the article was not in attendance.  There’s also a fair amount about the wider Chinese SF publishing industry.

New Year’s Day run in the vicinity of the con venue

January 1st saw a “welcome run” take place in the grounds of the SF Museum that was the venue for the Worldcon, as reported on Weibo by the Sports Chengdu account.  To the best of my knowledge, there have been no activities in the actual museum itself since the con – other than the Lukyanenko visit covered in a couple of earlier Scrolls – and no future events have been announced, other than the Chinese Nebula/Xingyun conference, previously covered in the December 12th Scroll.

(5) HOWARD WALDROP (1946-2024). Writer Howard Waldrop, creator of many brilliant short sff stories, died of a stroke on January 14 at the age of 77. Howard Waldrop’s classic “The Ugly Chickens” (1980) won a Nebula and World Fantasy Award. Waldrop was also recognized with a World Fantasy lifetime achievement award.

He was a wildly popular program participant at cons. His presentation “Howard Waldrop’s Condensed Cream of 1950s Science Fiction Movies” involved acting out key scenes from a lot of the movies. For 3-D movies, he hid under the table and threw wadded-up paper at the audience. He also was an unsurpassed live reader of his own stories.

Lawrence Person’s Waldrop obituary is especially recommended. However, there is no better introduction to Howard than the one he wrote himself for the now-shuttered SFF Net.

Are they science fiction? Are they fantasy? Are they alternate history? Are they from Mars or from Venus?

In the 1970s and 1980s, Howard Waldrop’s disorientingly strange/familiar stories made him a famous unknown writer.

They racked up best-of-the-year inclusions and award nominations, sometimes several stories a year in different categories. “Custer’s Last Jump” and “Mary Margaret Roadgrader” were nominated for the Nebula in 1977. In 1980, “The Ugly Chickens” captured both the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award, and narrowly evaded the Hugo. In 1983, “Ike at the Mike” was up for the Hugo. In 1986, two Waldrop stories, “Flying Saucer Rock and Roll” and “Heirs of the Perisphere,” were nominated for the same Nebula award, placing hardcore Waldrop fans in a schizophrenia-inducing double-bind.

Amid such celebrity, Waldrop himself continued to live below poverty level, volunteering for a top-secret study that helped determine the nutritional limits of using integrity as hamburger helper. As part of this historic experiment, he once pulled a story that had already sold to a big-bucks market in order to place it elsewhere for half the price.

Occasionally stories slipped through to higher-paying markets — PlayboyOmni, and the like. Howard compensated for these lapses of vigilance by selling his books only to very-high-quality small presses or to publishers who could be counted on not to distribute them.

Award nominations kept racking up: 1987, “The Lions are Asleep This Night,” for the Nebula. 1988, “Night of the Cooters” for the Hugo. 1989, “Do Ya, Do Ya Wanna Dance” for the Nebula, and 1990, “A Dozen Tough Jobs,” for the same.

And now, SFF.NET, bless its heart, has brought Howard Waldrop to the World Wide Web. So thanks to the wonders of cyberspace, to Howard’s uniquely contrarian marketing savvy, and to his inability to keep his stories off the awards short-lists, Howard Waldrop is now a legendary unknown writer.

Nor should it be forgotten that Waldrop wrote what became the Wild Cards universe’s origin story, “Thirty Minutes Over Broadway” (which I think of as “Jetboy’s Last Adventure”). Bradley Denton got Howard to tell how that happened in “Fifty Minutes Over Manchaca (now Menchaca) Road!”

…HW:  You’ll recall in “The Annotated Jetboy,” where I talk about Danny Deck writing the biography of Jetboy?  Danny Deck is the hero of Larry McMurtry’s novel All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers.  And of course he writes Godot Is My Co-Pilot: A Life of Jetboy.

…Anyway, I was gonna do the Jetboy story about the A-bomb for Jessica Amanda Salmonson, and either Lew or Bud (sf authors Lewis Shiner and Walton “Bud” Simons, both Austin-based at the time, like Howard), I can’t remember which, said, “You should talk to George.  George and that bunch in New Mexico have been playing a superhero role-playing game, and they’ve spent so much time and money on it that they’re trying to find a way to turn it into a book.  You oughta tell him about this Jetboy thing, because it sounds like something that would fit in there.”  If it was Lew I was talkin’ to, he told me to call Bud, and if it was Bud I was talkin’ to, he told me to call Lew.  One or the other of ‘em knew more about it than the other one did, right?

See, I didn’t even know about this.  George hadn’t mentioned it to me in a letter or anything.  So I wrote to George, and I said, “I’ve got a story that might fit with whatever goddamn thing you’re doing.  You should tell me about it.”

So he sent me the prototype Cut and Shuffle, which was all about what was going on in the Wild Cards world before anyone else even knew what it was.  And I said, “Yeah, that sounds about right, I can work with that.  But your timeline is all wrong.”  See, they were gonna start it in the 1980s, with the world having gone on for thirty years.

BD:  Oh, so they weren’t initially going to do an origin story?  They were going to jump into the world of Wild Cards three decades on?

HW:  Right, exactly.  I said, “That’s all wrong!  You gotta tell how all this came about!”  So I got them to tell me all the stuff about Dr. Tachyon, and the virus, and the whole thing, y’know.  And I stuck it sideways into the Jetboy/A-bomb story, and sent it to George.

And of course George says, “When we send you stuff, you should read it!  You got all this stuff wrong!”  I said, “Ah, that’s your job!  You can fix that!”

And he did!

Howard Waldrop

(6) TOM PURDOM (1936-2024). Tom Purdom died January 14. He was 85.

His first published short story, “Grieve for a Man”, appeared in the August, 1957 Fantastic Universe. His first novel was I Want the Stars (1964). His other novels include Five Against Arlane, and The Barons of Behavior. His literary memoir, When I Was Writing, appeared in installments in The New York Review of Science Fiction.

From 1990 to 2023 he had almost three dozen short stories published in Asimov’s.

He served as a Vice President of SFWA in its early years.

His wife, Sara, predeceased him in 2006. He is survived by his son, Christopher.

Filer Mark Roth-Whitworth knew him, and shared these memories on Facebook:

I’ve known the Purdoms since the late Sixties. He was a constant in Philly fandom. In the late seventies, he and his late wife Sara had house parties, as did Winona and her ex, Tom Smith and Viv, and later, when my ex (Morgan’s mother) and I bought a house in the area, we all rotated – was it every Friday but second (the PSFS meeting) having an open house. Michael Swanwick would show sometimes, and then there was the late David Sherman. Not sure when, but Tom built a small harpsichord from a kit.

And he was always there, his loud baritone… and now he’s gone.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 15, 1974 Shaun Tan, 50. Australian-born and resident Shaun Tan’s one of my favorite artist and writers. Not just for his work which is extraordinarily wonderful, but for being a really nice individual. Tan was an easy choice for the Birthday for this Scroll.

His fiction is all YA. It’s all illustrations with words. Or not, sometimes. Think school libraries as where you’ll find it in Australia. Children love him. School librarians adore him just as much.  

So now some selected works by him that I’ve enjoyed.

The Haunted Playground also known as The Playground would do Stephen King proud if King wrote children’s literature (I don’t think he’s written any, has he?) with one male encountering a larger group of males on a playground that are not what they seem to be. Truly chilling. 

The Arrival has a man coming from a city that might or might not be in Eastern Europe to what might or might not be New York City. The city is awesomely depicted as steampunk. Did I mention that it has no spoken narrative?

The Lost Thing is set in the near future, a dystopian Melbourne. It’s  is a story about Shaun, a kid who doesn’t quite fit in anywhere. And he found something that doesn’t fit in either. (SPOILER ALERT. GO AWAY FOR A AWHILE.) There’s a secret utopia out there. Really there. (YOU CAN COME BACK BACK NOW.) 

It was adapted into a fifteen-minute animated short film which was directed him and Andrew Ruhemann and narrated by Tim Minchin. It won the Oscar for Best Animated Short.

One he didn’t do himself as creator is The Stray Cat, a tale of the supernatural horror by writer Steve Paulsen with rather macabre illustrations by him. The cat, a black cat of course, is scarily drawn.

Librarians have constantly praised Tan for understanding children and being willing to give generously of his time to meet with them. 

Those illustrated works are an excellent representation of his works. Now let’s talk about his Awards. Usually I mention Hugos first but I want to note the Awards that the folks who in children’s books gave him.

No, I forgot an Award, what was it! Ahhhh that one. He won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award from the Swedish Arts Council, considered by everyone in children’s literature to be the major Award in the field.

In our community, he got the Hugo for Best Professional Artist at Aussiecon 4 (nice to win at home, isn’t it?), again at Renovation, nominated for two more at Anticipation and Denvention 3.  

There were three World Fantasy Awards first Best Artist and another nomination. I can’t count the number of Ditmar Awards and nominations that he received. Seriously it’s that many.

Shaun Tan accepts Astrid Lindgren Award.

(8) IT IS THE END, MY FRIEND. “Peregrine moon lander and its cargo will likely burn up in Earth’s atmosphere” reports Engadget.

It looks like the Peregrine lunar lander’s final resting place will be back at home where it started. The doomed spacecraft, which experienced an anomaly shortly after launch and has been leaking propellant ever since, is expected to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere, Astrobotic wrote in an update on X this weekend. The company plans to host a press conference with NASA on Thursday January 18 at 12PM ET to discuss the lander’s fate.

And when that happens, all the SFnal cremains aboard will burn up on re-entry. LiveScience lists the notables whose DNA is aboard: “Peregrine moon lander carrying human remains doomed after ‘critical loss’ of propellant”.

Controversially, the spacecraft is also carrying human remains, including those of science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke; Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry; Roddenberry’s wife, Majel Barrett; and Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan and DeForest Kelley, who played Nyota Uhura, Montgomery Scott and Dr. Leonard McCoy, respectively, on the classic sci-fi show. Stored alongside these remains are samples of DNA of the U.S. presidents George Washington, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan.

[Thanks to Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Michael J. Walsh, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 12/31/23 The Fewer Pixels, The Less Scrolling

(1) PARENTS OF THE YEAR. Cora Buhlert has posted a wonderful pair of articles explaining her selections for two annual awards she presents.

First: “The 2023 Darth Vader Parenthood Award for Outstandingly Horrible Fictional Parents”.

…The cartoonishly evil parents, meanwhile, show kids that no matter how bad their relationship with their parents may be, at least their parents are not Darth Vader and don’t blow up entire star systems. But these characters also serve another purpose, namely to show kids that they need not be defined by who their parents are. They can be different, they can be more. Luke Skywalker could grow up to become a Jedi knight, even though his biological father did his utmost to exterminate them. Adora could overcome a lifetime of gaslighting to become She-Ra, the heroine she was always meant to be. Particularly to kids growing up in less than ideal circumstances, these are very powerful messages….

The winner is:

Miro of the House of Niros, High King of Eternia

Some of you may now be asking, “Who?”, while others may be wondering “Why?” Like I said, this winner will probably be a little controversial….

For the reasons Cora gives I didn’t feel much was spoiled by naming the winner here. Because now you want to go and read the post just to find out who the heck that is.

However, when it comes to the winner of “The 2023 Jonathan and Martha Kent Fictional Parent of the Year Award”, I don’t want to steal any thunder from the presentation:

… As for why I felt the need to introduce a companion award, depictions of parenthood in popular culture have been undergoing a paradigm shift in the past few years with more positive portrayals of supportive and loving parents and fewer utterly terrible parents. Personally, I believe that this shift is a very good thing, because the reason that I started the Darth Vader Parenthood Award in the first place is because I was annoyed by all the terrible parents in pop culture. For while most real world parents may not be perfect, at least they do their best….

(2) HONOURS LIST 2024. The UK’s New Year Honours List 2024 includes a number of celebrities, a couple of them of genre interest. In the Guardian: “Glastonbury founder and TikTok organist make new year honours list”.

…The author Kate Mosse received a CBE, which she said was a recognition of the importance of the Women’s prize for fiction, of which she is a co-founder.

The novelist, 62, whose books have been translated into 38 languages and published in more than 40 countries, is best known for the Languedoc Trilogy – Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel – and The Joubert Family Chronicles – The Burning Chambers, The City Of Tears and The Ghost Ship.

She has been made a CBE for services to literature, to women and to charity.

The Women’s prize for fiction is now one of the biggest literary prizes in the world. Mosse said everybody involved in it “deserves all the accolades they could have”, as she applauded the “group effort”.

She added: “Quite often those things do get overlooked, not deliberately, but just there isn’t a system for them.

“So it does feel that although obviously this is for me, it’s very much an acknowledgment of the importance of the Women’s prize, and that it matters that women support other women.”

Elsewhere in literature, the bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith was knighted. The creator of The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series as well as the 44 Scotland Street novels has been given a knighthood for services to literature, academia and charity.

In film and television, the director and producer Sir Ridley Scott, whose works include Gladiator, Alien and Napoleon, is made a Knight Grand Cross, upgrading his previous knighthood, while Game Of Thrones actor Oliver Ford Davies has said he is “honoured” to be made an OBE. The performer, 84, best known for his Shakespearean stage work, found new fans as Maester Cressen in the HBO fantasy series and as Sio Bibble in the Star Wars prequel trilogy films released in 1999, 2002 and 2005. He has been recognised for services to drama….

(3) ABDICATING IN JANUARY. “Queen Margrethe II of Denmark to Step Down” reports the New York Times. And why is that story part of today’s Scroll? Keep reading.

…Much of the queen’s popularity has been tied to her personality and artistic streak. Even after she entered the line of succession at 13, she pursued her interest in art, earning a diploma in prehistoric archaeology at the University of Cambridge and studying at Aarhus University in Denmark, the Sorbonne and the London School of Economics.

She also produced her own artwork, including paintings shown in museums, decoupages — a type of cut-and-paste artwork — and drawings. (Her illustrations were adapted for a “Lord of the Ring” book under a pseudonym, Ingahild Grathmer; the book’s publisher approached her after she sent copies to J.R.R. Tolkien as fan mail in 1970.)

More recently, she served as the costume and production designer for “Ehrengard: The Art of Seduction,” a Netflix film adapting a fairy tale, that includes wardrobes and sets based on her drawings and other artworks. “I work when I can find the time,” she told The New York Times this past year, “and I seem usually to be able to find the time.”…

(4) WHO’S TO BLAME FOR BILLIONAIRES’ PET PROJECTS. Noah Smith offers a post “In defense of science fiction” at Noahpinion.

As everyone who reads this blog knows, I’m a big fan of science fiction (see my list of favorites from last week)! So when people start bashing the genre, I tend to leap to its defense. Except this time, the people doing the bashing are some serious heavyweights themselves — Charles Stross, the celebrated award-winning sci-fi author, and Tyler Austin Harper, a professor who studies science fiction for a living. Those are certainly not the kind of opponents one takes on lightly! (And I happen to like and respect both of them.)

So yes, I’m still going to leap to science fiction’s defense, but I’m going to do it very carefully….

… Instead of billionaires mistaking well-intentioned sci-fi authors’ intentions, Stross is alleging that the billionaires are getting Gernsback and Campbell’s intentions exactly right. His problem is simply that Gernsback and Campbell were kind of right-wing, at least by modern standards, and he’s worried that their sci-fi acted as propaganda for right-wing ideas.

This is a much simpler argument, but it’s also harder to evaluate. Where does the causality lie? Do right-wing billionaires arrive at their political convictions by reading right-wing sci-fi? Or do they simply prefer literature that’s aligned with their existing values? This is really hard to know. For what it’s worth, my impulse says it’s the latter — there’s such an ideological and stylistic diversity of sci-fi out there in the world that anyone who reads it widely will encounter a very wide range of political viewpoints. For every Robert Heinlein there’s an Ursula K. LeGuin, for every Vernor Vinge there’s an Iain M. Banks. Heck, there’s even a Charles Stross….

(5) SPUFFORD ON ‘THE BOOKS OF MY LIFE’. [Item by Steven French.] “Francis Spufford: ‘It was the sorrow of my life at age 10 that there wasn’t one more Narnia book to read’” he tells the Guardian. Spufford is a prize-winning non-fiction and fiction author who gives several shout-outs to SFF works here.

(Regarding the “one more Narnia book”, according to Wikipedia, “In March 2019, it was reported that Spufford had written an unofficial novel, The Stone Table, set in the universe of C. S. Lewis’s Narnia series. This takes place during a gap in fictional fiction between The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Spufford distributed self-printed copies to friends. The novel was praised as a ‘seamless recreation of Lewis’s writing-style’. The author hoped to obtain permission from the C. S. Lewis estate to publish it commercially. In the absence of permission, the earliest publication date would be 2034, seventy years after Lewis’s death, when the copyright on the original books will expire in the UK.”)

My earliest reading memory
Tolkien’s The Hobbit, read around the time of my sixth birthday, when I was home from school with mumps. It turned me from a painstaking decoder of printed letters into someone flying through a new medium. Books have been portals for me ever since. Many other things too, but portals first.

My favourite book growing up
CS Lewis’s Narnia books. It was the sorrow of my life at the age of 10 that there wasn’t one more of them to read. A few years ago I found myself in a position to do something about that, at least for myself, but (cough) I am under legal obligations not to talk about it.

The book that changed me as a teenager
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin, which did things I didn’t know were allowed with gender and with the shape of story, and showed me that an imagined setting, a built world, could ring as true narratively as anything observed in the rooms or the streets of this world.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 31, 1949 Ellen Datlow, 74. I first encountered her stellar editing when I picked up the first volume of what would Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror but was then just Year’s Best Fantasy, then edited by both her and Terri Windling (who with volume two explicitly took over the the horror selection.) (From the sixteenth volume to the last one, the twenty-second,  Windling was replaced by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant.) Any volume has enough excellent fiction for many evening of great reading. 

(The packager for these told me in an email conversation that there were discussions about bring these out as epubs. Unfortunately as those rights weren’t incorporated in the original contracts with the authors, that wasn’t possible.) 

Not surprisingly, the series picked up multiple World Fantasy Awards. And a Stoker as well. 

Speaking of Awards, let’s do this now. Ellen Datlow has won the Hugo for Best Professional Editor twice, and the Hugo for Best Editor – Short Form six times. Her editing work has garnered five Bram Stoker Awards, two International Horror Guild Awards for Best Anthology, three Shirley Jackson Awards for Best Anthology, as well as ten World Fantasy Awards. She was named recipient of the  Karl Edward Wagner Award, given at the British Fantasy Convention, for “outstanding contribution to the genre”. And she has received the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Horror Writers Association. I’m very, very impressed. 

Now back to her actual editing work. So what else should we be looking at? Well everything she’s edited is top notch but that goes with saying, so let’s narrow down just a bit by dealing with what I like the best. 

Thirty years ago, she and Terri Windling (no surprise  who her co-editor was) started out their Fairy Tale anthologies which I’m going to list all of their titles here because I adore them — Snow White, Blood RedBlack Thorn, White Rose, Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears,  Black Swan, White RavenSilver Birch, Blood Moon and Black Heart, Ivory Bones. As always their choices in stories are exquisite. 

Next for me in terms of how great they are is the Mythic Fiction anthologies, again edited with Windling. There’s four and I’ll single out The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest and The Coyote Road as the ones I like the best.

Ok, so there’s one-offs of which she’s done at least three dozen to date. My absolute favorite? Another one she edited with Windling — Salon Fantastique: Fifteen Original Tales of Fantasy. No theme, just great stories.  Haunted Legends edited with Nick Mamatas is themed obviously and you can tell that theme; it is deliciously scary, and the Hauntings anthology which edited by no one but herself is darker and has more of a bite to it. 

Supernatural Noir, another one of her solo efforts, is worth reading just for Caitlín R. Kiernan’s “The Maltese Unicorn”. Seriously it is. 

She’s knee deep in the blood associated with editing, sorry I couldn’t resist, her ongoing The Best Horror of The Year anthology series, now fourteen volumes long. And if you want to see what she thinks is interesting for genre books, she does that over at Cemetery Dance in The Last Ten Books I’ve Read column, the last being the March issue of this year as that publication isn’t known for its regular date of coming out. Ever.  

David G. Hartwell, left, Ellen Datlow, right, at the 2015 World Fantasy Con. Photo by and © Andrew Porter.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! covers all the monsters’ New Year’s Resolutions.  

(8) TOPICS IN ANIME. A new episode of Anime Explorations has dropped just in time to wrap up the year:: Anime Explorations Podcast: Episode 15: Anime Music Videos & Arcadia of My Youth”.

This month we memorialize Leiji Matsumoto and the creator of the Anime Music Video (not necessarily in that order).

We also talked about the Macross II Kickstarter,

(9) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Mr. Sci-Fi – Marc Scott Zicree – joins a tour of Hollywood sff props in “Space Command Coolest Props Ever!!!”

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Michael Burianyk, Alexander Case, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jan Vaněk Jr.]

Pixel Scroll 10/1/23 Only You Can Scroll Fankind

(1) SELLING FANTASY. [Item by Andrew (Not Werdna).] “Lester del Rey invented the fantasy genre in book publishing” alleges Slate’s Dan Sinykin.

Lester del Rey wore 1950s-style horn-rimmed glasses, an unruly billy-goat beard, and his silver hair brushed back above a big forehead. He liberally dispensed cards that said: Lester del Rey, Expert. He sometimes said his full name was Ramón Felipe San Juan Mario Silvio Enrico Smith Heathcourt-Brace Sierra y Alvarez-del Rey y de los Verdes. He was in fact born Leonard Knapp, son of Wright Knapp, in 1915 in rural southeastern Minnesota, subject to the Minnesotan fever—Jay Gatz, Prince Rogers Nelson, Robert Zimmerman—for reinventing oneself. In 1977, del Rey, then in his 60s, turned his proclivity for fabulism to profit: He invented fantasy fiction as we know it….

(2) PAYING OUR RESPECTS. Condolences to Cora Buhlert whose father passed away today.

(3) JUMP ON THE BANNED WAGON. “Banned Books Week: PRH’s ‘Banned Wagon’ Hits the Road”Publishing Perspectives has the story. Banned Books Week is October 1-7. The tour schedule is at the link. The dozen showcased books include two genre works, The Handmaid’s Tale and Too Bright to See

The arrival of this year’s Banned Books Week—led by one of the most comprehensive coalitions of free-expression organizations in the business–is themed Let Freedom Read. Engaged in the effort are the American Library Association, Amnesty International USA, the Authors Guild, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the National Book Foundation, PEN America, and the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress, among others.

Hearing the call, Penguin Random House–the world’s largest and most internationally positioned of trade publishers– is gassing up something new: its “Banned Wagon: A Vehicle for Change.”

The goal is to take the debate right into the American South during Banned Books Week. Putting wheels on its “Read Banned Books” message, the vehicle not only will showcase a selection of 12 of the publisher’s frequently challenged books but will also distribute free copies of those books to attendees in each of the cities in which the tour makes a stop….

These are the 12 books published by Penguin Random House and being loaded into the Banned Wagon as it rolls through the American South during Banned Books Week.

(4) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

Chengdu Worldcon makes Chinese-language-only announcement about attending registration and participation rules

This has been published on the official Chinese-language site, WeChat and Weibo, but as of 19:00 BST, I haven’t seen any equivalent English language statement.  As such this item is very dependent on machine translation, and could contain misunderstandings.  However, the text has been run through Google Translate, DeepL and Vivaldi Lingvanex, with similar results output each time.

This is the Google Translate version of the main text of the page on the official site: https://www.chengduworldcon.com/Xnews/275.html

2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Convention Membership Registration and Drawing Participation Rules for Three Major Ceremonies Released

Release time: 2023-10-01 12:42

Dear fantasy fans:

Thank you for your attention to the 2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference. From now on, the WeChat applet for membership certificate registration (“Exhibition Hall Appointment”) is officially launched. Members who purchase offline conference passes need to register through the mini program [DeepL translates this as “app”] to obtain the QR code for the replacement certificate. The membership certificate [DeepL translates this as “membership ID”] exchanged with this code on site will be your only voucher [DeepL translates this as “credentials”] for entering the venue during the conference. Please log in and register in time.

In accordance with the convention [DeepL translates this as “usual practice”] of the World Science Fiction Convention, the opening ceremony, Hugo Award Ceremony and Closing Ceremony will have a maximum number of on-site spectators. This conference will confirm the offline participation pass members who will participate in the opening ceremony, Hugo Award ceremony and closing ceremony through online lottery in advance.

There’s a QR code which I presume links to the aforementioned WeChat applet, followed by details of the various rules and regulations; the bits that I thought noteworthy are:

  • From now until 24:00 on October 9, members with offline participation passes can register for certification by searching the “Exhibition Hall Appointment” WeChat applet.
  • The lottery will be sorted according to the information about the intended viewing activities filled in by each member, and will be notarized and implemented by the Shudu Notary Office in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. Each winning member can only participate in one grand ceremony. The winning results will be sent to the winning members via SMS in a timely manner.
  • Starting from 15:00 on October 13, you can check the lottery results through the official website of the 2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference and the “Exhibition Hall Appointment” WeChat applet.
  • The results of this lottery will not affect participation in other activities such as on-site theme salons and theme exhibitions. The relevant schedule of the theme salon and theme exhibition will be announced soon, so stay tuned.
  • The right to interpret these rules belongs to the 2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Convention Organizing Committee

The QQ link is: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/EFcTsNCg0pyt2qbTxVPzJg. The Weibo link is: https://weibo.com/7634468344/NlPaCz8yw (which has received 52 comments as I write this up)

Assuming that my interpretation of this is correct, in that it’s necessary to install the WeChat app on your phone to be able to even get into the con venue, it should be pointed out that concerns have been raised about the security and privacy aspects of that app: https://foundation.mozilla.org/en/privacynotincluded/wechat/ (2001)

I’d previously installed this app on an old unused Android phone (using a test Google account,) and I suspect that many foreign users will struggle to register a WeChat account, as it requires an existing user to verify you via a QR code:

  1. Contact a WeChat user who meets the following conditions.  (They do not have to be your
  WeChat friend.)

    a. Signed up for WeChat over 1 month ago if they are an international user or over 6

       months ago if they are a Chinese Mainland user

    b. Hasn’t completed “Help Friend Register” for other users in the past month

    c. Hasn’t been blocked in the past month

    d. Has activated WeChat Pay if they are a Chinese Mainland user

  2. Ask them to scan the following QR code using WeChat.

It has since been pointed out to me that the previously announced “100th Light-second Plan” covers some of this (maybe)?  That indicated that if attendees email the provided address, they will gain access to a “reservation channel” for the opening and Hugo ceremonies.

This doesn’t directly address the implication in today’s announcement that you need WeChat to enter the con venue – and I note that it only talks about the opening and Hugo ceremonies, not the closing ceremony – but maybe this hints that this has already been thought about?  On the other hand, I must confess I’m more than a bit uncomfortable at the idea that foreigners get privileged access to some of the main events, but locals have to take their chances in a lottery.

For reference, here are a couple of screenshots I was sent of what the WeChat app registration looks like.

(5) WHO SPEAKS FOR THE TREES? Alyssa Hall considers “’The Long Defeat’: Reading Tolkien in the Time of Climate Change” at Tor.com.

Allegorical readings of The Lord of the Rings vexed Tolkien. In the Foreword to the second edition of the books, he wrote of his distaste for allegory altogether: “I much prefer history, true or feigned.” The environmentalism that’s evident throughout his chronicles of Middle-earth, from the rebellion of Fangorn Forest to the Scouring of the Shire to the destruction of the Two Trees of Valinor? That was all based in history and autobiography, from a childhood in which “the country in which I lived was being shabbily destroyed before I was ten,” only made mythic.

Before I was ten, the third in a series of international scientific reports on our warming Earth was published, and the Kyoto Protocol set targets for countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Prior to those developments, Svante Arrhenius had connected the burning of coal to rising carbon dioxide levels and hotter climates; John Tyndall had identified the gases responsible for the greenhouse effect; and Eunice Foote had realized that carbon dioxide gas could trap heat from the sun. In fact, Arrhenius did his work long before I was born, near the beginning of Tolkien’s own lifetime; Tyndall and Foote, before Tolkien was born.

When it comes to what is true and what has been feigned, the historicity of climate change is an established fact, and the willful denial of its reality is a toxic fiction. Climate change was already occurring during the years when Tolkien lived and wrote. Though he may not have been aware of a growing knowledge of global warming, I think his work is directly applicable to all of us who face the current onslaught of frightening headlines about climate disasters and think, like Frodo, “I wish it need not have happened in my time.” Tolkien, if not a professed environmentalist, was certainly a pastoralist, a lover of trees and countryside and an opposer of polluting industrialization. Ents, Eagles, Beornings, and other forms of nature personified fill his work, as do plot points and revelations that hinge on the destruction of one or more trees (or Trees). His letters put it even more plainly: “The savage sound of an electric saw is never silent wherever trees are still found growing.” Climate change is industrial deforestation writ large. For me, there’s no author who gives the natural world its due the way Tolkien does.

With Amazon’s The Rings of Power series driving a new pop-cultural wave of interest in Middle-earth at the same time global temperatures are shattering records and driving extreme weather events around the world, I’ve found myself longing for Tolkien or a Tolkien-like voice of the twentieth-first century: Someone pouring out words about the living world, writing that emerges from unabashed, earnest love for nature. The mounting threat of climate change has me returning to my childhood favorites to seek wisdom for these long defeats in this Century of Disasters, to look for a light forward in dark times for the planet and its inhabitants….

(6) RECORD SETTING RESENTMENT. The Guardian lists the “Top 10 grudge holders in fiction”. No. 4 in the list is —

The Employees: A Workplace Novel of the 22nd Century by Olga Ravn, translated by Martin Aitken 

“Ravn’s novel is set on the Six-Thousand Ship, which is orbiting a faraway planet New Discovery, where the crew has discovered a number of strange objects. The book is structured around a series of recorded statements, of varied degrees of redaction and fullness, made by the ship’s human and humanoid crew to some kind of committee about the effects of these objects upon themselves. The objects have the effect of defamiliarising the workplace for the crew, making them see it anew, making them realise their lives might have meaning beyond work. Over the course of the book, their resentment against their employers grows and grows.”

Several others are genre by virtue of being ghost stories of one kind or another.

(7) SERIES KILLER. Hugo voting closed yesterday. Nicholas Whyte has something he’d like to say: “2023 Hugos: Best Series – why I voted No Award” at From the Heart of Europe.

I voted No Award for this year’s Hugo Award for Best Series. I think the category is a bad idea in principle which is now showing its limitations in practice. My objections are as follows:

  1. The Hugos ought to celebrate the best activity of the previous year, and only the previous year. For some of the other categories (Semiprozine, Fanzine, Fancast), earlier work is taken into account to determine eligibility, but the award is clearly for achievements of the previous calendar year. Best Series is inevitably an award for a multi-year set of activities.
  2. It is impossible for the diligent reader to read all of the work nominated for Best Series in a given year. By giving the award we are deliberately engineering a situation where voters cast their votes based on imperfect knowledge of the finalists.
  3. We are now seeing repeat nominations for series that have been unsuccessful finalists before. I feel sympathy for authors who must feel that they are waiting for their turn, but that’s not the way an awards system should run…

More analysis, and how he ranked the finalists, at the link.

(8) FREE READ. Sunday Morning Transport encourages subscriptions with this story by John Chu, “Halfway Between Albany and West Point”.

October kicks off with John Chu’s thrilling vision of academia and his spectacularly embattled graduate student. 

(9) TANKS FOR THE MEMORIES. “Toxic Avenger Remake Trailer: First Look at Peter Dinklage Film”Gizmodo provides a gloss and a warning.

…Directed by Macon Blair, this new Toxic Avenger stars Game of Thrones fan favorite Peter Dinklage as Winston, a widower struggling to raise a stepson played by Jacob Tremblay. When his job, run by an evil corporate ass played by Kevin Bacon, won’t pay for health insurance, Winston fights back and ends up in a vat of toxic waste. Now, you don’t see really any of that in this first teaser (note that it’s very much NSFW!), but take that story and put it in this world, and you begin to get the idea of what this movie is….

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 1, 1914 Donald Wollheim, 1914 – 1990. Created DAW Books. NolaCon II (1988) guest of honor. Founding member of the Futurians, Wollheim organized what was later deemed the first American science fiction convention, when a group from New York met with a group from Philadelphia on October 22, 1936 in Philadelphia. As an editor, he published Le Guin’s first two novels as an Ace Double. And would someone please explain to me how he published an unauthorized paperback edition of The Lord of the Rings? (Died 1990.)
  • Born October 1, 1930 Richard Harris. One of the Dumbledores in the Potter film franchise. He also played King Arthur in Camelot, Richard the Lion Hearted in Robin and Marian, Gulliver in Gulliver’s Travels, James Parker in Tarzan, the Ape Man and he voiced Opal in Kaena: The Prophecy. His acting in Tarzan, the Ape Man him a nominee for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor. Anyone seen that film? And why it got him that nomination? I saw the film a long time ago but don’t it clearly enough to say why this is so. (Died 2002.)
  • Born October 1, 1935 Dame Julie Andrews, DBE, 88. Mary Poppins! I could stop there but I won’t. (Hee.) She had a scene cut in which was a maid in The Return of the Pink Panther, and she’s uncredited as the singing voice of Ainsley Jarvis in The Pink Panther Strikes Again. Yet again she’s uncredited in a Panther film, this time as chairwoman in Trail of the Pink Panther. She voices Queen Lillian in Sherk 2Shrek the Third and Shrek Forever After. And she’s the voice of Karathen in Aquaman.
  • Born October 1, 1943 Sharon Jarvis, 80. Did I ever tell you that aliases give me a mild headache? Well, they do. She did a splendid trilogy of somewhat erotic planetary adventures called These Lawless Worlds that Ellen Kozak co-wrote. She wrote two more series, charitably called pulp, one as Johanna Hailey and another as Kathleen Buckley. Now more interestingly to me, she was an editor in the early day, Seventies and Eighties. I’m going to quote at length from her website: “Sharon Jarvis has worked in the print media for more than twenty-five years for newspaper, magazine and in publishing companies. She has built a reputation for her market-wise expertise in the cutthroat world of publishing. Ms. Jarvis has been a sought-after editor from her days at Ballantine where she helped promote the billion-dollar science fiction boom. At Doubleday she was the acquisitions editor and worked with some of the biggest names in science fiction, including Isaac Asimov, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Harlan Ellison. At Playboy Press, Ms. Jarvis developed, instituted and promoted the science fiction line which helped sustain the publisher through many a setback in other general lines.”
  • Born October 1, 1944 Rick Katze, 79. A Boston fan and member of NESFA and MCFI. He’s chaired three Boskones, and worked many Worldcons. Quoting Fancyclopedia 3: “A lawyer professionally, he was counsel to the Connie Bailout Committee  and negotiated the purchase of Connie’s [1983 Worldcon’s] unpaid non-fannish debt at about sixty cents on the dollar.” He’s an active editor for the NESFA Press, including the six-volume Best of Poul Anderson series.
  • Born October 1, 1948 Michael Ashley, 75. Way, way too prolific to cover in any detail so I’ll single out a few of his endeavors. The first, his magnificent The History of the Science Fiction Magazine, 1926 – 1965; the second being the companion series, The Time Machines: The Story of the Science-Fiction Pulp Magazines from the Beginning to 1990. This not to slight anything else he has done such as The Gernsback Days: A Study in the Evolution of Modern Science Fiction from 1911 to 1936.
  • Born October 1, 1964 John Ridley, 59. Author of Those Who Walk in Darkness and What Fire Cannot Burn novelsBoth excellent though high on the violence cringe scale. Writer on the Static Shock and Justice League series. Writer, The Authority: human on the inside graphic novel. And apparently the writer for Team Knight Rider, a female version of Knight Rider that would last one season in the Nineties. 
  • Born October 1, 1989 Brie Larson, 34. Captain Marvel in the Marvel film universe. She’s also been in Kong: Skull Island as Mason Weaver, and plays Kit in the Unicorn Store which she also directed and produced. Her first genre role was Rachael in the “Into the Fire” of Touched by an Angel series; she also appeared as Krista Eisenburg in the “Slam” episode of Ghost Whisperer. She’s in The Marvels, scheduled out next month.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld has a sneak peek at a celebrity bio.

(12) SCIFI IN HOUSE OF GAMES. [Item by Steven French.] During the week BBC2 runs a nightly half-hour quiz show called House of Games in which each round features a different kind of puzzle and not even the host (Richard Osman, now perhaps even more well known as a crime writer) knows what kind is coming up next.

Watching a repeat from last year I noticed that one round featured science fiction movies whose titles were given in code; e.g.:

1 4  1 19 20 18 1

which one of the contestants got pretty quickly even though she’d never seen or even heard of the film!

(13) MORE THAN A SNOWBALL FIGHT. “What would happen if Russia invaded Finland? I went to a giant war game in London to find out” — the Guardian’s Tom Lamont brings back the story.

… It is 10am. Banks asks everyone present to imagine they are on the threshold of geopolitical catastrophe, somewhere a little beyond, though not that far beyond, our current perilous state. He fleshes out a scenario. Prolonged and humbling conflict in Ukraine as well as Finland’s recent accession to Nato has tested Russian pride to breaking point. Worsening matters, Nato has decided to press its advantage in the region by staging a military exercise on the Finnish-Russian border. China, Iran and India have made it plain: they’re not impressed by Nato. The Swedes are jangly, too. Spy planes, satellites and troop carriers are in play. A few wrong moves and all this posturing and provocation could ignite into something far worse. It is up to the players assembled in Bush House to try to war-game us back from the brink.

Now Banks moves among the crowd, handing out jobs like sweets. During this phase of a game, a real-life general might get a tap on the shoulder and tumble to become a low-level functionary for the first time in decades. A career shit-eater might get to feed somebody else the shit. (Maybe the general.) Anyone – a data specialist, a science nerd, an archive-dwelling academic – might find themselves near-omnipotent for the day. With a pointed finger, Banks elevates four random people to play as Russian high command. In a corner of one of the conference rooms, put aside for their exclusive use, the four newly minted Russians are told they can organise themselves and their decision-making however they want. “If you want to be equals here, that’s fine,” says one of Banks’s PhD students. “Or if you want to appoint a dictator, that’s fine, too.”…

(14) A DIFFERENT CHORD. “Queen guitarist Brian May helps NASA return asteroid sample to Earth” at USA Today.

When he’s not rocking out on stage as a founding member of Queen, Brian May enjoys a healthy scientific interest in outer space.

But it’s no mere hobby for the 76-year-old guitar legend to gaze upon the stars or research the nature of the universe. May, an accomplished scientist who has a doctorate in astrophysics, recently helped NASA return its first ever asteroid sample to Earth.

The sample consisting of rocks and dust was obtained from the asteroid Bennu and arrived Sunday back in Earth’s orbit. May was an integral part of the mission, creating stereoscopic images that allowed the mission’s leader and team to find a safe landing spot on the asteroid, which has the potential to crash into Earth sometime in the future…

(15) WHEN THINGS GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT. The New York Times discusses a hypothesis: “Saturn’s Rings May Have Formed in a Surprisingly Recent Crash of 2 Moons”.  

Try to imagine Saturn without its signature rings. Now picture two large icy moons shifting closer together little by little until — boom. Chaos. What was solid is now fluid. Diamantine shards scatter into the darkness. Many icy fragments tumble close to Saturn, remain there and dance around the gas giant in unison, ultimately forging the heavyweight body’s exquisite discs.

This spectacular scene comes from an attempt to answer one of the greatest mysteries of the solar system: Where did Saturn’s rings come from, and when did they form?

A study, published this week in The Astrophysical Journal, leans into the notion that they are not billions of years old, but were crafted in the recent astronomic past—perhaps by the collision of two modestly sized frost-flecked moons only a few hundred million years ago.

“I’m sure it would have been great to see if the dinosaurs had had a good enough telescope,” said Jacob Kegerreis, a research scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., and one of the study’s authors….

(16) DREAM HOMES. The New York Times speculates “Maybe in Your Lifetime, People Will Live on the Moon and Then Mars”. “Through partnerships and 3-D printing, NASA is plotting how to build houses on the moon by 2040.”

 … NASA is now plotting a return. This time around, the stay will be long-term. To make it happen, NASA is going to build houses on the moon — ones that can be used not just by astronauts but ordinary civilians as well. They believe that by 2040, Americans will have their first subdivision in space. Living on Mars isn’t far behind. Some in the scientific community say NASA’s timeline is overly ambitious, particularly before a proven success with a new lunar landing. But seven NASA scientists interviewed for this article all said that a 2040 goal for lunar structures is attainable if the agency can continue to hit their benchmarks.

The U.S. space agency will blast a 3-D printer up to the moon and then build structures, layer by additive layer, out of a specialized lunar concrete created from the rock chips, mineral fragments and dust that sits on the top layer of the moon’s cratered surface and billows in poisonous clouds whenever disturbed — a moonshot of a plan made possible through new technology and partnerships with universities and private companies….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Danny Sichel.] Math counts as science. So this 14-minute animation by Alan Becker — which begins by providing simple visualizations of basic arithmetical concepts and quickly devolves into an all-out battle with lasers and giant mechs — is science fiction. “Animation vs. Math”.

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Bill, Steven French, Danny Sichel, Jeff Smith, Andrew, (Not Werdna), Brown Robin, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 9/19/23 In Pixelated Ink Which Glows Under Starlight

(1) OPEN LETTER AGAINST BOOK BANS. “Ariana Grande, Garbage, Natasha Lyonne Sign Open Letter Against Book Bans”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Ariana GrandeGuillermo del ToroPadma Lakshmi, Roxane Gay, Gabrielle Union, Sandra Cisneros, Amanda Gorman, Margaret Cho and Ron Perlman are among the signatories of an open letter calling on creative communities in Hollywood and beyond to leverage their voices to stop book bans.

Upwards of 175 actors, musicians, authors, comedians, reality stars, models, media personalities, academics, activists and more have signed the open letter spearheaded by Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton and published Tuesday via public advocacy organization and political action committee MoveOn Political Action….

The letter’s release coincides with National Banned Books Month and comes amid a corresponding public petition from MoveOn, which will connect signatories with future advocacy opportunities around book bans. Such opportunities include methods of support or events related to MoveOn’s Banned Bookmobile, which launched a multicity tour this summer after measures touted and supported by Gov. Ron DeSantis resulted in an increase in banned and restricted books in Florida schools, according to The Associated Press.

In October, the bookmobile will once again distribute free banned books, in addition to hosting events held in conjunction with Crooked Media’s live Pod Save America and Lovett or Leave It podcasts, and author readings in Georgia, Virginia and South Carolina as part of a broader “Read Banned Books” initiative….

Here is the full text of the letter from Moveon.org.

As artists, creators, entertainers, and activists, we recognize and are horrified by the threat of censorship in the form of book bans.

This restrictive behavior is not just antithetical to free speech and expression but has a chilling effect on the broader creative field. The government cannot and should not create any interference or dictate what people can produce, write, generate, read, listen to, or consume.

We cannot stress enough how these censorious efforts will not end with book bans. It’s only a matter of time before regressive, suppressive ideologues will shift their focus toward other forms of art and entertainment, to further their attacks and efforts to scapegoat marginalized communities, particularly BIPOC and LGBTQ+ folks. 

We refuse to remain silent as one creative field is subjected to oppressive bans. As artists, we must band together, because a threat to one form of art is a threat to us all.

We are calling on everyone to join us in pushing back against these book bans, support free and open creative industries—regardless of personal or ideological disagreements—and use their voice at the local level to stop these bans in their school districts. There is power in artistic freedom, and we refuse to allow draconian politicians to take that from us.

(2) CHENGDU VENUE PROGRESS PHOTOS. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] Here from a Weibo post are a couple more photos of the interior of the Chengdu Worldcon venue.  It looks quite different to my eyes from the earlier images, not sure if it’s the lighting, angle, or if they’ve applied some coating – the Google Translated hashtags include “#金molstone# #石 CrystalWallboard#”, whatever those might be.

(3) CORA FINDS A CRACK IN THE FOUNDATION. Cora Buhlert is doing episode reviews of Apple+ series Foundation. (Access all of them here.) The latest is “Foundation travels ‘Long Ago, Not Far Away’ and blows up its own premise”beware spoilers.

…Warning! There will be spoilers under the cut!

“Long Ago, Not Far Away” was a really good episode of Foundation. Well, at least ninety-five percent of it were really good. Unfortunately, the last five minutes or so not only ruined the episode, but the entire series….

(4) TEXAS BOOK RATING LAW BLOCKED. Publishers Weekly tells how “In a Blistering Opinion, Judge Officially Blocks Texas Book Rating Law”.

After nearly three weeks of waiting, federal judge Alan D. Albright delivered a major victory for freedom to read advocates, issuing a substantive 59-page written opinion and order officially blocking Texas’s controversial book rating law, HB 900, from taking effect. The decision comes after Albright orally enjoined the law at an August 31 hearing and signaled his intent to block the law in its entirety.

Signed by Texas governor Greg Abbott on June 12, HB 900 would have required book vendors to review and rate books for sexual content under a vaguely articulated standard as a condition of doing business with Texas public schools. Under the law, books rated “sexually explicit” (if the book includes material deemed “patently offensive” by unspecified community standards) would be banned from Texas schools. Books rated “sexually relevant” (books with any representation of sexual conduct) would have required written parental permission for students to access them. Furthermore, the law would have given the state the ultimate power to change the rating on any book, and would have forced vendors to accept the state’s designated rating as their own, or be barred from selling to Texas public schools….

…“The Court does not dispute that the state has a strong interest in what children are able to learn and access in schools. And the Court surely agrees that children should be protected from obscene content in the school setting,” Albright concluded. “That said, [the law] misses the mark on obscenity with a web of unconstitutionally vague requirements. And the state, in abdicating its responsibility to protect children, forces private individuals and corporations into compliance with an unconstitutional law that violates the First Amendment.”

In defending the law, Texas attorneys had moved to dismiss the suit, arguing that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the law, and that the state has the right to regulate vendors who wish to do business with Texas public schools—essentially asserting that rating books would simply be part of the cost of doing business in Texas. Albright demolished those arguments in his opinion, and harshly criticized the ill-conceived law in denying the motion to dismiss.

At one point, Albright observed that the burden placed on vendors by the law are “so numerous and onerous as to call into question whether the legislature believed any third party could possibly comply.” And he called out state attorneys for their inability to answer basic questions over the course of two hearings. “Generally, the government was confused and unaware of how the law would actually function in practice,” Albright observed, citing “approximately 40 instances during the August 18th hearing (‘Hearing 1’) where the government either did not know how the law would function or did not have an answer as to what the effects of certain provisions were.”…

(5) PREVIEW GREG JEIN COLLECTION. Heritage Auctions takes you “Inside the Sensational Sci-Fi Collection of Model-Making Legend Greg Jein” in this post for The Intelligent Collector.

Greg Jein was a giant among the Hollywood illusionists who created small things to fill big screens. The model- and miniature-maker never left his hometown of Los Angeles. Yet he was never earthbound: Jein spent decades introducing us to aliens who brought their motherships to Earth, and he sent us soaring time and again into space, the final frontier.

Jein, who died at 76 last year, was nominated for Academy Awards and Emmys, hailed as a magician and beloved as a mentor. Among Hollywood’s special effects wizards, Jein was heartbeat and historian, craftsman and custodian. His life’s story might have made the perfect film.

A fan first, foremost and forever, he made models when he was little. By the time Jein reached his mid-30s, he was a twice-Oscar-nominated maker of motherships, airplanes, city blocks and other models for Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 1941, both directed by Steven Spielberg.

“Greg loved what he did, creating things with his hands,” says Jerry Chang, Jein’s first cousin. “He could see in his mind things other people couldn’t.”

On October 14-15, Heritage Auctions is honored to offer the entirety of Greg Jein’s vast and unparalleled assemblage, which includes his prized trove of models and memorabilia and the cherished miniatures he made. The landmark Greg Jein Collection Hollywood Platinum Signature® Auction

There’s also a gallery of “The Most Revealing Behind-the-Scenes Photos From the Greg Jein Collection” at the link.

(6) NEW SOPHIE BURNHAM TRILOGY. DAW Books has acquired Sargassa, the first book in a trilogy from debut author Sophie Burnham. Set in an alternate North America called Roma Sargassa, where the Roman Empire never fell, readers will plunge into a landscape of political intrigue, queer romance, and impending revolution. The acquisition encompassed three books with World English rights and was agented by Maria Napolitano at the Jane Rotrosen Agency.

Sophie Burnham

…Executive Editor Navah Wolfe expressed immense enthusiasm about the acquisition, stating, “Sophie’s impressive worldbuilding, compelling characters, and insightful social commentary make Sargassa an exceptional addition to DAW’s repertoire. We are immensely excited to introduce their work to the world.”

In the book, North America has always been under Roman rule, and the death of the Imperial Historian thrusts his children, Selah and Arran, into the heart of a conspiracy. An underground rebel faction seeks to obtain the Iveroa Stone and use its secrets to reveal the empire’s obscured past and dethrone its dominion. As Selah works to unlock the Stone’s enigmas, she faces a monumental decision: to uphold or challenge the historical narratives of the Roman rule in Sargassa…

Sophie Burnham is a queer nonbinary novelist and screenwriter, backed by an Acting BFA and a concentration in Playwriting from Syracuse University. Honored with a We Need Diverse Books writing grant and a placement in ScreenCraft’s 2020 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Screenplay competition, Burnham’s debut novel promises to enthrall and enlighten readers. Follow them on Twitter at @sophielburnham.

(7) CON OR BUST FUNDRAISER. The Con or Bust Prize Sweepstakes is selling entries.

Dream Foundry’s Con or Bust program issues cash grants to fans and creatives of color to help connect them with SFFH genre events and resources. Con or Bust sends folks to conventions, workshops, classes, and other networking or professional opportunities. Grants can be used toward travel, registration, food, equipment, and other expenses associated with attending the event.

Con or Bust’s fall fundraiser is in full swing! We have lots of bookish prizes, including a 1 year subscription to Apex Magazine, two $50 Weightless Books gift certificates, libro.fm credits, and more. Oh yeah, and there’s a PS5, too.

Fine print:

The Sweepstakes is open only to the following individuals (each, an “Eligible Participant”):

Individual legal residents of, and physically located within, the United States or Canada, and who are 18 (except 19 in Alabama and Nebraska and 21 in Mississippi) years of age as of the date of entry or of legal age of majority or older in their country of residence…

(8) DOING TIE-IN RESEARCH. David Mack gives a detailed example of the kind of research he needed to do for a Star Trek media tie-in novel. Thread begins here.

(9) FREE READ. The 2023 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award-winning story, “The Hitchhiker on Souls’ Road” by A. A. Nour, is currently available to read at the Baen website.

A. A. Nour with award

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 19, 1922 Damon Knight. Author, editor, critic. Kate Wilhelm who was his wife is also regrettably no longer with us. His 1950 short story, “To Serve Man” was adapted for The Twilight Zone. His first story, “The Itching Hour,” appeared in the Summer 1940 number of Futuria Fantasia which was edited and published by Ray Bradbury.  It’s hard to briefly sum up his amazing genre career but let me note he was a member of the Futurians and a reviewer as well as a writer. Novels of his I’ll single out are Hell’s PavementThe Observers and Special Delivery but don’t think I’m overlooking his brilliant short stories. The Encyclopedia of SF notes that “In 1995, he was granted the SFWA Grand Master Award – which from 2002 became formally known, in his honour, as the Damon Knight Grand Master Award. He was posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2003.” (Died 2002.)
  • Born September 19, 1928 Adam West. Best known as Batman on that classic Sixties series, he also had a short role in 1964’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars as Colonel Dan McReady. He last played the role of Batman by voicing him in two animated films, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face. He also most excellently voiced The Gray Ghost in an episode of the Kevin Conroy voiced B:TAS, “Beware the Gray Ghost”. (Died 2017.)
  • Born September 19, 1928 Robin Scott Wilson. Founder, with Damon Knight and others, of the Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop. He edited Clarion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction and Criticism from the Clarion Writers’ WorkshopClarion II and Clarion III. He wrote one genre novel, To the Sound of Freedom (with Richard W. Shryock) and a lot of short fiction. He’s not in stock at all at the usual suspects. (Died 2013.)
  • Born September 19, 1933 David McCallum, 90. His longest running, though not genre, role is pathologist Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on NCIS where he appeared in every episode of the first fifteen seasons.  (With series lead Mark Harmon’s departure from the show in the fall of 2021 (Season 19), McCallum became the last remaining member of the original NCIS cast.) Genre wise, he was Illya Nickovitch Kuryakin on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and the British series Sapphire & Steel where he was Steel and Joanna Lumley was Sapphire. He played the lead in a short-lived U.S. version of The Invisible Man. He was Dr. Vance Hendricks on Babylon 5’s “Infection” episode.
  • Born September 19, 1947 Tanith Lee. I hadn’t realized that she wrote more than ninety novels and three hundred short stories in her career. Ninety novels! She even wrote two of the Blake’s 7 episodes as well. I am more fond of her work for children such as The Dragon Hoard and The Unicorn Series than I am of her adult work. She has garnered well-deserved Stoker and World Fantasy Awards for Lifetime Achievement. (Died 2015.)
  • Born September 19, 1952 Laurie R. King, 71. She’s on the Birthday Honors list for the Mary Russell series of historical mysteries, featuring Sherlock Holmes as her mentor and later partner. Hey it’s at least genre adjacent.  She’s also written at least one genre novel, Califia’s Daughters.
  • Born September 19, 1972 N. K. Jemisin, 51. Her most excellent Broken Earth series has made her the only author to have won the Hugo for Best Novel in three consecutive years. Her “Non-Zero Probabilities” was nominated for the Best Short Story losing out to Will McIntosh‘s “Bridesicle” at Aussiecon 4. “Emergency Skin” I’m pleased to note won the Best Novelette Hugo at CoNZealand. Yeah I voted for it. And at Chicon 8 she won a Best Graphic Story or Comic Hugo for Far Sector, written by her, with art by Jamal Campbell.

(11) FANHISTORY ZOOM. The next FANAC Fan History Zoom session will be about “Boston Fandom in the 60s” with Tony Lewis, Leslie Turek and Mike Ward, moderated by Mark Olson. It will happen September 23,2023 at Time: 4PM EDT, 1PM PDT, 9PM BST (UK), Sept 24 at 6AM Melbourne, AU. If you want access, please send a note to [email protected]

(12) COVER REVEAL. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Theory podcast Acid Horizon announced on Twitter/X the new cover for the upcoming Zer0 Books release Against the Vortex: Degrowth Utopias in the Seventies and Today by Anthony Galluzzo.

(13) LIVE ACTION, NOT ANIMATED. “Disney World forced to close rides after finding wild bear in park” reports Entertainment Weekly.

Disney World guests were just treated to a new kind of Country Bear Jamboree.

EW can confirm that a wild bear was found inside the park Monday morning, prompting the closure of at least 10 attractions inside the Frontierland, Adventureland, and Liberty Square areas. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission tells EW that biologists with FWC’s Bear Management Program, as well as FWC Law Enforcement officers, are “working on capturing and relocating the bear,” who they say was likely moving through the park in search of food….

(14) CHANGE THE TITLE, CHANGE THE GENRE. Lincoln Michel had fun with this idea – you can too.

(15) ON THEIR OWN TWO FEET. [Item by Nina Shepardson.] Slate has a list of “The 40 best stand-alone TV episodes that can be watched on their own.” Several are from genre TV shows, including Star Trek, The X-Files, and The Twilight Zone. I’d be interested to hear whether other Filers think Slate picked the right episodes…

Whether we’re living in the age of Peak TV or Trough TV, one thing is clear: There’s too much TV. Thankfully, not every show has to be watched in its entirety. One of the best things about television is its serialized nature, the continuous thread that strings viewers along from one episode to the next. It’s a cliché that prestige television is the new novel precisely because of the way that many dramas develop their characters and plots over many hours of storytelling. But an older virtue of TV is its brevity—the way a scenario can be introduced and resolved within the space of an hour, or half that—and some of the best episodes are less like chapters in a long-running novel than like short stories or short films. These are stand-alone episodes….

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Ersatz Culture, Ben Bird Person, Nina Shepardson, Joe Siclari, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 8/7/2023 Ow, My Scroll!

(1) STOP DRAGON THAT STUFF IN HERE. “Dungeons & Dragons tells illustrators to stop using AI to generate artwork” reports AP News.

The Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game franchise says it won’t allow artists to use artificial intelligence technology to draw its cast of sorcerers, druids and other characters and scenery.

D&D art is supposed to be fanciful. But at least one ax-wielding giant seemed too weird for some fans, leading them to take to social media to question if it was human-made.

Hasbro-owned D&D Beyond, which makes online tools and other companion content for the franchise, said it didn’t know until Saturday that an illustrator it has worked with for nearly a decade used AI to create commissioned artwork for an upcoming book. The franchise, run by the Hasbro subsidiary Wizards of the Coast, said in a statement that it has talked to that artist and is clarifying its rules.

“He will not use AI for Wizards’ work moving forward,” said a post from D&D Beyond’s account on X, formerly Twitter. “We are revising our process and updating our artist guidelines to make clear that artists must refrain from using AI art generation as part of their art creation process for developing D&D.”…

(2) WALK RIGHT IN, FALL RIGHT DOWN. Cora Buhlert’s new Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre story is “The Uninvited Guest”.

Zodac has always been one of the strangest Masters of the Universe characters. He was there from the very beginning, one of the first eight figures to come out in 1982. Zodac bears a lot of similarities to Metron from Jack Kirby’s New Gods, but then the early Masters of the Universe designs were partly inspired by Jack Kirby’s Fourth Worldbecause Mattel was apparently working on a Fourth World toyline in the late 1970s that never went into production, so a lot of ideas were reused for Masters of the Universe….

(3) TUBE VERSUS TOK. No matter what you may have read — like in yesterday’s Scroll — the Guardian says a “Report finds YouTube more popular than TikTok for young book buyers”. (But wait, it was the Guardian’s own article about BookTok we linked to!)

YouTube trumps TikTok as the most popular online platform for young people to discover new books, according to a report by Nielsen BookData.

Nielsen, which provides data for the Bookseller’s UK Bestsellers chart, conducted a survey in November 2022 that revealed 34% of people aged between 14 and 25 find new reads using the video platform YouTube.

TikTok and Instagram were used by 32% and 27% of participants respectively, and online book retailer websites were visited by 33% of respondents. This data comes after reports that “BookTok” – the corner of TikTok in which creators share book recommendations – is driving sales of particular authors and genres that are popular on the platform. Its YouTube counterpart, BookTube, similarly features videos of users discussing their favourite titles and “hauls” of books they have recently bought….

(4) BEST EVER. ScreenRant picked the “10 Greatest Anthology TV Shows Of All Time, Ranked” and despite the list not being restricted to genre, there are seven sff and horror shows on it. The Twilight Zone is ranked number one.

Although most television series follow a single story over the course of several seasons, there are some shows called anthologies that change up the plot from episode to episode or season to season, and these can be some of the most successful series to date. Anthologies may not be the most popular form of television, but they certainly stand out for their distinct format and ever-changing stories. In fact, some of the most popular and lauded television series from the past to now are anthology series.

The following list offers ten of the best anthology television series to ever appear on-screen. This is a particularly diverse bunch of shows that range in release date, genre, and form. Though they each have the anthology structure in common, each show offers their own unique take on the concept, and more than that, their own important story. Whether it’s a silly comedy, a gruesome horror, or peek into true crime, each of these anthology series is popular in its own right and for good reason. For those interested in diving into anthologies, this is the ultimate place to start.

(5) HISTORY OF THE TOMORROW PEOPLE. It’s hard to imagine a showrunner envying the “big” effects budget of Seventies Doctor Who, but theirs was even smaller: “’It’s hard to keep a straight face opposite a Dalek on Viagra’: how we made The Tomorrow People” in the Guardian.

Roger Price, creator and writer

Working for the BBC in the early 70s, I made a Junior Points of View episode in which kids said they thought most BBC children’s programmes were patronising rubbish. Soon after I was at a get-together for TV people where Monica Sims, the head of BBC children’s programmes, challenged me to do better. I said: “Give me a time slot and budget, and I will.” Lewis Rudd, the Independent Television equivalent, overheard and asked: “Did you mean that?”

We had lunch and he said: “We need an answer to Doctor Who.” Twenty years earlier, I’d been enrolled at a boarding school full of German kids. We were all the best of friends, and knowing that only seven or eight years earlier our fathers would have been trying to kill each other in the second world war made me think that we must be the next stage of human evolution. That was the inspiration for the idea I pitched to Lewis – kids who had special powers, but who were unable to use them to kill or do harm.

These “Tomorrow People” were telepathic and telekinetic, and could teleport or “jaunt” from one place to another via hyperspace. They became aware of their abilities after “breaking out” – deliberate shorthand for puberty. I wanted kids watching at home to feel that they too might be a Tomorrow Person, and that it was OK to feel different….

Nicholas Young, played John

…Some of the spacecraft looked quite good even though they were built out of plastic cups from the canteen painted silver. But the aliens were often ridiculous. It’s difficult to act with a straight face against a puppet with an aerial on its head or something that looked like a Dalek on Viagra.

In the early days, when Tomorrow People were seen floating in hyperspace, we’d be standing on one foot in front of a yellow screen – then the yellow would be electronically overlaid with a star field or psychedelic effects. Later, we were hung on wires which could clearly be seen on TV. We looked like Thunderbirds puppets. I said: “Why don’t you paint the wires yellow?” Someone covered them with yellow gaffer tape and bingo! They disappeared….

(6) BOARDGAME OF THE YEAR. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Spiel des Jahres (Boardgame of the Year) is a huge deal in the boardgame world and the 2023 winners were just announced.

The 2023 Spiel des Jahres is Dorfromantik: Das Brettspiel (Romantic village: The boardgame) by Lukas Zach and Michael Palm, published by Pegasus Spiele.

The 2023 Kinderspiel des Jahres (Children’s Boardgame of the Year) is Mysterium Kids by Antonin Boccara and Yves Hirschfeld.

Radio Bremen interviews of one the winners, Lukas Zach who is a local. (They were not interested in interviewing Germany’s first ever Hugo winner, who also happens to be a local…)

(7) ROBERT OSBAND DIES. The American Space museum announced that long-time volunteer Robert “Ozzie” Osband, a fixture at Space View Park rocket launches for four decades, died August 6 at the age of 72.

 He was quite a character, and Osband’s adventures inspired Bill Higgins’ article “Two Vain Guys Named Robert”.

…In 1976, when one of his favorite authors, Robert A. Heinlein, was going to be Guest of Honor at a World Science Fiction Convention, Mr. Osband journeyed to Kansas City.

In his suitcase was his copy of Heinlein’s Have Space Suit, Will Travel—a novel about a teenager who wins a secondhand space suit in a contest—and his ILC Dover suit.

Because if you wanted to get your copy of Have Space Suit, Will Travel autographed, and you happened to own a secondhand space suit, it would be a shame NOT to wear it, right?…

(8) WILLIAM FRIEDKIN (1935-2023). [Item by Dann.] William Friedkin died August 7 of heart failure and pneumonia. He was 87.  The director’s most noteworthy genre work was The Exorcist.  Other works include an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, an episode of The Twilight Zone, an episode of Tales from the Crypt, and horror movies The Guardian and Bug.  Friedkin also directed The French Connection for which he won an Oscar.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 7, 1933 Jerry Pournelle, 1933 – 2017. Some years ago, I got an email from a J. R. Pournelle about an SF novel they wanted Green Man to review. I of course thought it was that Pournelle. No, it was his daughter, Jennifer. And that’s how I came to find out there was a third Motie novel called, errrr, Moties. It’s much better than The Gripping Hand was. His best novel is of course The Mote in God’s Eye which he wrote with Niven. And yes, I’ve read a lot of his military space opera when I was a lot younger. At that age, I liked it. I expect the Suck Fairy with her steel toe boots wouldn’t be kind to it now if I read any of it, so I won’t. He had a number of Hugo nominations starting at Torcon II for “The Mercenary” novella followed by a nomination at DisCon II for his “He Fell into a Dark Hole” novelette. The next year at the first Aussiecon, The Mote in God’s Eye got nominated and his Extreme Prejudice novel also got a nod. MidAmericaCon saw Inferno by him and Niven get nominated and his “Tinker” novelette also was on the ballot. Lucifer’s Hammer with Niven got on the ballot at IgunaCon II and his final nomination was at ConFederation for Footfall with Niven. Oh and at MidAmericaCon II, he got a nomination for Best Editor, Short Form. And yes, I was a devoted reader of his Byte column. (Died 2017.)
  • Born August 7, 1936 Richard L. Tierney. A Lovecraftian scholar. Coauthored with David C. Smith, a series of Red Sonja novels which have Boris Vallejo cover art. Some of his standalone novels riff off the Cthulhu Mythos. Unless you read German like Cora does, he’s not available digitally on at the usual suspects. (Died 2022.)
  • Born August 7, 1957 Paul Dini, 66. First, he is largely responsible for the existence of Batman: The Animated SeriesSuperman: The Animated SeriesThe New Batman/Superman AdventuresBatman Beyond, and yes Duck Dodgers And Tiny Toons as well. He’s recently been writing for the Ultimate Spider-Man series which is quite good. He co-authored with Pat Cadigan, Harley Quinn: Mad Love. He’s responsible for the single best animated Batman film, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, as he wrote it. If you see it, see the R rated version. 
  • Born August 7, 1957 — Lis Carey, 66. A prolific reader whose reviews fill the shelves at Lis Carey’s Library. She is also a frequent Filer, contributor of numerous cat photos and even more book reviews. She is a longtime member of NESFA, and chaired Boskone 46 in 2009. (OGH)
  • Born August 7, 1960 Melissa Scott, 63. I think the first work I read by her was Trouble and Her Friends which holds up well even now. I’m also fond of Night Sky Mine and The Jazz. I see that she has an entire series set in the Stargate Atlantis universe. She won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and four Lambda Awards, the first for Trouble and Her Friends, a second for Shadow Man, a third for Point of Dreams and a fourth for Death by Silver

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! shows an unexpected fan of a well known sff movie franchise.
  • Speed Bump is there when a librarian fields a controversial request.
  • Tom Gauld knows the corporate mindset very well.

(11) MASS QUANTITIES. The New York Times looks into “The Complicated Estates of Obsessive Collectors”. “When collectors die, their families face a lot of decisions, including what to do with a hundred Superman figurines.” Some familiar names quoted here.

“More times than I can remember, a spouse or child has said to me, ‘If he wasn’t dead, I’d kill him all over again for leaving me with this mess,’” said Greg Rohan, the president of Heritage Auctions.

Most people tend to know what to do with traditional investments after someone dies, he said, but when it comes to baseball cards, first-edition books, coins and other collectibles, the loved ones dealing with the estate can be stumped (and annoyed).

If some collectors of, say, vinyl figurines, seem to have a gene that spurs them to dedicate entire rooms of their home to inanimate rubbery friends, they are also, in many ways, just like everyone else. “People don’t want to think about dying,” said Maggie Thompson, 80, a former senior editor of Comic Buyer’s Guide, which was a newsmagazine that covered the comic book industry. “I realize as I look around my rooms, my family is not going to know what things are.”…

(12) FREE READ. Cora Buhlert has a story called “Rest My Weary Bones” in the July 2023 issue of Swords and Sorcery Magazine. 

It seems I’ve barely rested at all when the call comes… again. 

Rise and shine, sunshine. Time for battle, time for war, time to smite the enemy and hear the lamentations of their women… if I could still hear properly, that is. ‘Cause hearing doesn’t work very well, when you’re essentially a skeleton.

For that’s exactly what I am these days: A skeleton….

(13) IT’S IN THE BAG. Geek Grind Coffee is another outfit that tempts fans to buy its products on the strength of its clever and intriguing genre packaging. But that’s not the only recommendation:

…More than 600 women involved in the cooperative are leaders of their own farms, heads of households or in managegment with our organiztion. Geek Grind is strongly focused on promoting women in leadership, ownership and success in coffee. We do this because of the need….

(14) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. [Item by John King Tarpinian.]

Truman Capote is at the same cemetery as Ray.  

Non-genre trivia is that the crypt that Truman is in was originally for Johnny Carson. In his final years Truman Capote lived at the Malibu home of Joanne Carson who was one of Johnny’s ex-wives.  

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. A fan video from Andrew Loves Sci-Fi — Friends intro but it’s Star Trek. [Click the link to see it.]

What if the original Star Trek was a comedy? Or, better yet, what if the intro for this comedy was set to the theme song to Friends? This intro re-imagines one of the world’s top science-fiction shows as one of the hottest comedies on television. Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Dr. McCoy will always be there for you!

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Dann, Peer, Bill Higgins, Cora Buhlert, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 7/12/23 You Can Scroll Scroll Scroll, You Can Pixel Pixel Pixel, But You Got To Know The Metastory

(1) THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON PERN. As soon as Threads started up, Catherynne M. Valente realized she needed to remind everyone she knows that “Mark F***king Zuckerberg Is Not Your Friend”.

…I’m not even very surprised at how many suspiciously-positive posts and memes I saw the millisecond Threads launched. Or how many big names and brands who’d refused to move to any of the other available competitors, not even so far as to hold a username and a server on Mastodon, the one most usable most quickly, just in case, suddenly had thriving Threads feeds. This is Facebook. It’s been several interminable minutes. We all know how this works. Bots, farms, artificial boosting, algorithms, astroturfing, paying influencers, brands, and celebrities to migrate without saying they were paid. We are not new here. Asking Facebook to not fake engagement and steal data is like asking Canadian goose not to rip anyone’s face off. That is, fundamentally, what it does and what it’s for.

What did surprise me? Well, it’s pretty fucking weird how the launch of Threads, which is ostensibly, you know, a company and a profit-generating service, almost immediately did a sickening costume reveal and became Mark fucking Zuckerberg’s Redemption/Woobiefication tour, and only like four non-Nazi people and one of their alt accounts are pushing back on that because everyone rushed to join this thing with a smile on their lips and a song in their heart a big anime heart-eyes for the guy we all knew was Noonian Soong’s first janky and obviously evil Build-a-Bloke workshop project three weeks ago.

Seriously, have we all lost our entire screaming minds?…

She has assembled acres of evidence about Zuckerberg’s and Facebook’s track record in case you forgot.

(2) BOTH A SPRINT AND A MARATHON. Cora Buhlert is doing the July Short Story Challenge again and she hasn’t missed a day yet: “The 2023 July Short Story Challenge – Day by Day”.

… What is the July Short Story Challenge, you ask? Well, in July 2015, Dean Wesley Smith announced that he was planning to write a brand new short story every day during the month of July. The original post seems to be gone now, but the Wayback Machine has a copy here. At the time, several people announced that they would play along, so I decided to give it a try as well. And then I did it again the following year. And the next. And the next….

(3) QUITE THE VARIETY. Rich Lynch’s diverting My Back Pages #28 is available to download from eFanzines.

The 28th installment of my personal time capsule is a “I think we’re finally escaping the pandemic” issue and has essays involving cheap hotel rates and a very expensive personal boondoggle, big balloons and a small cat, scary rollercoasters and not-so-scary sci-fi movies, notable edifices and ordinary-looking spring blossoms, artificial satellites and a very real sense-of-wonder, a long walking tour and a relatively short drive, a famous quote and a semi-obscure composer, a smart chatbot and a dumb stunt, complex machinations and elegant simplicity, drowsy Worldcon attendees and rousing march music, photos of the heavens and an underground fallout shelter, an extended hotel stay and a brief mountain climbing career, specialized historical research and an eclectic museum, National Poetry Month and The Year of the Jackpot.  And also an ‘Un-bucket List’ – hey, *everybody* ought to have one of those!

(4) THE HOBBIT: COMPARING RANKIN/BASS WITH PETER JACKSON. [Item by Dann.] The first episode of the Cinema Story Origins Podcast Hobbit series dropped a couple of days ago.  Paul J. Hale announced it on Facebook:

This whole episode is the first chapter of the book, the first 8 minutes of the Rankin/Bass Animated film, and the first 45 minutes of Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”.

A big chunk is about J.R.R. Tolkien, another chunk is Jackson’s prologue, but pretty much the rest of it takes place inside Bag End (Bilbo’s house). But I do some extra digging here and there, some stuff about the origin of The Dwarves in Tolkien’s Legendarium, and some extra info and context for certain things.

This is a large project, and I’m already started on Part 2. I have no clue how long these are all going to be. I want these episodes to be meaty on the Tolkien end, and lighter on the Jackson end, but we’ll see… I’m going to try hard to have this done by the end of summer but I can’t guarantee that. I really hope you enjoy this first chapter in the CSO Hobbit Series.

The CSO page for the episode is here: “The Hobbit: Part 1”

The link to the Apple podcasts page is here: Cinema Story Origins: CSO 011a The Hobbit Part 1”.

I’ve listened to the first episode.  Paul opens with roughly 20 minutes of history about JRR Tolkien.  Some of the broad strokes are well known to Tolkien fans; his wartime service, his position as editor of the Oxford English dictionary, etc.  There were a couple of morsels that were new to me.  For example, the first line of The Hobbit originated from a very unusual circumstance.

As with all CSO series, Paul Hale is comparing and contrasting the original book with the movie versions.  In this case, he is comparing the book the Rankin/Bass version of The Hobbit and with the Peter Jackson trilogy films.  While Paul makes it clear that he thinks that making three films for a single book is excessive, he deals with the trilogy films as they exist and not as he might want them to be.  Paul’s focus is on delving into the book and how the film creators interpreted the book.  I believe that he will be only lightly touching on the many elements of the Jackson movies that do not exist in the book version of the story.

The first episode ends as Bilbo is rushing out the front door to meet the dwarves.  The runtime is ever-so-slightly over 2 hours.  Paul’s style makes every moment entertaining and informative.  He sprinkles in audio stingers and other verbal bon mots to keep the presentation lively.

(5) AS FRIGHTENING AS DISCOVERING FIRE. Game Thinking TV brings us an interview with Gödel, Escher, Bach author Doug Hofstadter on the state of AI today”.

Douglas Hofstadter, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Gödel, Escher, Bach, reflects on how he got interested in the mind and consciousness, how he came to write Gödel, Escher, Bach, and why he is terrified by the current state of AI.

(6) HAPPY BIRTHDAY WEBB TELESCOPE! The James Webb Space Telescope today celebrated its “First Year of Science With Close-up on Birth of Sun-like Stars”.

From our cosmic backyard in the solar system to distant galaxies near the dawn of time, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has delivered on its promise of revealing the universe like never before in its first year of science operations. To celebrate the completion of a successful first year, NASA has released Webb’s image of a small star-forming region in the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex. 

“In just one year, the James Webb Space Telescope has transformed humanity’s view of the cosmos, peering into dust clouds and seeing light from faraway corners of the universe for the very first time. Every new image is a new discovery, empowering scientists around the globe to ask and answer questions they once could never dream of,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Webb is an investment in American innovation but also a scientific feat made possible with NASA’s international partners that share a can-do spirit to push the boundaries of what is known to be possible. Thousands of engineers, scientists, and leaders poured their life’s passion into this mission, and their efforts will continue to improve our understanding of the origins of the universe – and our place in it.”

The new Webb image released today features the nearest star-forming region to us. Its proximity at 390 light-years allows for a highly detailed close-up, with no foreground stars in the intervening space….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1995 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Stephen Baxter’s a truly prolific writer, he’s written close to fifty novels now with the Long Earth series that he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett being my favorite work by him.  He’s written essays and short fiction beyond counting. Since there are fifteen collections of his short fictions, I’m guessing that most of it has been collected. 

So what is our Beginning the Scroll? It’s The Time Ships, the sequel to The Time Machine, which was published by HarperPrism twenty-eight years ago. 

It was nominated for a Hugo at the third L.A. Con.  It also nominated for a BFA and a Clarke. It won the BSFA, John W. Campbell Memorial and Philip K. Dick Awards.

Shall we take a look at our Beginning?

The attached account was given to me by the owner of a small second-hand bookshop, situated just off the Charing Cross Road in London. He told me it had turned up as a manuscript in an unlabelled box, in a collection of books which had been bequeathed to him after the death of a friend; the bookseller passed the manuscript on to me as a curiosity–‘You might make something of it’–knowing of my interest in the speculative fiction of the nineteenth century. 

The manuscript itself was typewritten on commonplace paper, but a pencil note attested that it had been transcribed from an original ‘written by hand on a paper of such age that it has crumbled beyond repair’. That original, if it ever existed, is lost. There is no note as to the manuscript’s author, or origin. 

I have restricted my editing to a superficial polishing, meaning only to eliminate some of the errors and duplications of a manuscript which was evidently written in haste.

What are we to make of it? In the Time Traveller’s words, we must ‘take it as a lie–or a prophecy … Consider I have been speculating upon the destinies of our race until I have hatched this fiction …’ Without further evidence, we must regard this work as a fantasy–or as an elaborate hoax–but if there is even a grain of truth in the account contained in these pages, then a startling new light is shed, not merely on one of our most famous works of fiction (if fiction it was!), but also on the nature of our universe and our place in it.

I present the account here without further comment. Stephen Baxter

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 12, 1923 James E. Gunn. Writer, editor, scholar, anthologist. Hugo winner at ConStellation (1983) for Isaac Asimov: The Foundations of Science Fiction. MidAmeriCon (1976) presented him with a Special Committee Award for Alternate Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction. The This Immortal series based on his novel by that name received a Best Dramatic Presentation nomination at Heicon ’70. Not surprisingly, he won a First Fandom Hall of Fame Award. (Died 2020.)
  • Born July 12, 1933 Donald E. Westlake. Though he specialized in crime fiction, he did dip into the genre on occasion such as with Transylvania Station with a lovely cover by Gahan Wilson. You can think of it as a Clue style novel.  With monsters. He wrote with his wife Abby. On the horror end of things was Anarchaos. And he wrote a lot of genre short fiction, some fifty pieces by my count. Meteor Strike: Science Fiction Triple Feature has three of his SF stories is available from the usual suspects for ninety-nine cents. (Died 2008.)
  • Born July 12, 1947 Carl Lundgren, 76. He co-founded ASFA (Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists of America), and won 4 Chesleys, including Artistic Achievement. At the tender age of eighteen, he was co-chairman of the first media SF convention, The Detroit Triple Fan Fair which featured comics, movies and various things of a SF nature. At Chicon IV, he was nominated for Best Professional Artist but lost out to Michael Whelan.
  • Born July 12, 1946 — Charles R. Saunders. African-American author and journalist, much of his fiction is set in the fictional continent Nyumbani (which means “home” in Swahili). His main series is the Imaro novels which he claims are the first sword and sorcery series by a black writer. (Died 2020.)
  • Born July 12, 1970 Phil Jimenez, 53. Comics illustrator and writer. He was the main artist of Infinite Crisis, a sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths. He also did the awesome first issue of Planetary/Authority: Ruling the World, and was responsible for the first six issues of Fables spin-off, Fairest.
  • Born July 12, 1976 Gwenda Bond, 47. Writer, critic, editor. She’s written a prequel to the Stranger Things series, Suspicious Minds, and I’m very fond of the two novels (The Lost Legacy and The Sphinx’s Secret) so far in her Supernormal Sleuthing Service which she wrote with her husband Christopher Rowe.  And she penned the Dear Aunt Gwenda section of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet that Small Beer Press published in the early part of this millennium. 

(9) DEAD AND ALIVE. Animation World Network is on hand when “‘Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead’ Comes to Crunchyroll”.

It’s alive! Crunchyroll has officially acquired the streaming rights for the zombie horror comedy anime series Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead, which began its simulcast on July 9 with new subtitled episodes dropping weekly. The animated series, based on the hit manga series of the same name, is streaming on Crunchyroll in the United States; Canada; Australia; New Zealand; Latin America; Europe; the Middle East; North Africa; and the Indian subcontinent.

In the series, with three years under his belt at the company from hell, Akira Tendo is mentally and physically spent, all at the ripe old age of 24. Even his crush from Accounting, Saori, wants nothing to do with him. Then, just when life is beginning to look like one big disappointment, the zombie apocalypse descends on Japan! Surrounded by hordes of hungry zombies, Akira comes to the marvelous realization that he never has to go to work again and may now pursue his bucket list!

(10) NOT ALL THE BOTTLES ARE VINTAGE. ScreenRant points out the “10 Harsh Realities Of Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation 29 Years Later”.

10. TNG’s Holodeck Dangers Were Problematic

While several of TNG’s holodeck episodes included fun stories, there’s one thing about them that never made sense. While it’s understandable that the holodeck would need safety protocols, there is no logical reason why anyone (or anything) should be able to turn those safety protocols off. In TNG season 1’s “The Big Goodbye,” the safety protocols get mistakenly turned off by a probe scan, nearly resulting in the death of an Enterprise crewmember. In “Elementary, Dear Data,” the holodeck computer creates an adversary, Professor James Moriarty (Daniel Davis), who nearly takes over the Enterprise. It makes no sense that Starfleet would put holodecks on their most important ships when such catastrophic failures are possible.

(11) LOOKING GOOD. Okkto has a lot of suggestions about how you can get rid of that money burning a hole in your pocket. They have a page full of “’The Rocketeer’ Officially Licensed Collectibles” that includes this watch.

And artist Scott Nelles offers everything from a pulpy ray gun to this King Kong bank (cast in aluminum and bronze, and weighing four pounds!)

Sand-cast aluminum and bronze coin bank, depicting Kong climbing the Empire State Building. A pulpy and charming addition to your home or office, this coin bank will be a conversation piece and unique accent to your décor. Unscrew the pieces to collect your saved-up coins. Designed and hand cast by Scott Nelles in his studio/foundry in Elk Rapids, Michigan. 

(12) PLAY YOUR CARDS RIGHT AND THEY’LL GET RICH. And Heritage Auctions would love for you to spend even more on these rarities: the Mars Attacks and Monsters from Outer Limits trading card sets.

There are 2 highly controversial trading card sets, that are very sought after today, that I would like to discuss a little about. Today they may seem a bit tame, but back in the 60s these were created by Topps with a pseudonym Bubbles, Inc. so that the company could distance the Topps name with the anticipated uproar that they would eventually create. The trading cards had a lot to do with aliens in space! Have you guessed it yet?….Did you guess Mars Attacks and Monsters From Outer Limits? If you did, then you are correct!

The infamous Mars Attacks was first released in 1962 by Topps via their Bubbles Inc banner, originally named “Attack from Space” on the test prototype launch. The standard 2.5”x3.5” set was 55 cards total in a $.05 pack of 5 cards with a piece of gum. All 55 cards tell a very graphic and gruesome story of Martians attacking Earth and eventually Earthlings attacking back. On the front of each card, there are colorful depictions of a progression of Mars attacking. The backs tell an explanation of what is depicted in the pictures on the front of the card. The cards and the concept were invented by Len Brown.

The drawings were mainly done by Norman Saunders and the story was created by Woody Gelman. It didn’t take long for these very graphic cards depicting Martians brutally killing humans and animals, gory death scenes, and sexual inuendos to create an upset with many parents. The parents were understandably upset because these very colorful cards of horror were marketed for kids. Lawsuits came one after another and Topps worked quickly to sensor 13 of their more violent pictures to be reprinted and dispersed. However, this never happened because a very large suit came forward from the community of parents and halted the production completely. Fortunately, for collectors, this meant the original set of 55 is very rare and valuable….

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Here’s the official trailer for Wonka.

Based on the extraordinary character at the center of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl’s most iconic children’s book and one of the best-selling children’s books of all time, “Wonka” tells the wondrous story of how the world’s greatest inventor, magician and chocolate-maker became the beloved Willy Wonka we know today.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Cliff, Dann, Jeffrey Smith, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]

Pixel Scroll 7/8/23 If It Wasn’t For Pixel Scroll, I Wouldn’t Have No Scroll At All!

(1) JUST SAYING. “Parlez-vous Valyrian? Meet the people creating languages for Game of Thrones, Avatar and more” in the Guardian.

Half a million Duolingo users are currently learning High Valyrian. But how do you make a language out of nothing? The linguists behind top fantasy TV shows and films explain:

If a language offers clues to the culture of its speakers, then the experience of learning Game of Thrones’s High Valyrian on Duolingo conjures visions of a bustling historic civilisation in which owls stalk the skies, magic abounds, and the spectre of death forever haunts the imaginations of the living. You learn to say “The woman is sweating” before that most basic greeting, “Hello”. An incongruously cheerful cartoon asks you to translate “All men must die, goodbye.” And, of course: “Ñuhyz zaldrīzesse gevī issi.” (“My dragons are beautiful!”).

Described in George RR Martin’s books as the language of the dragon-taming rulers of a once-great empire, Old Valyria has been compared to the Roman Republic, and High Valyrian to classical Latin. The language only assumed full life when linguist David J Peterson took it on for season three of the television series in 2012. Working from the few High Valyrian phrases mentioned in the book – names, places, and the infamous strapline, “Valar Morghūlis” (“All men must die”) – Peterson created an entire language. The Duolingo course was launched in 2017….

(2) HUGO ANALYSIS. Cora Buhlert has posted “Some Thoughts on the 2023 Hugo Finalists”. Cora also says she is “Still trying to hunt down information on some of the Chinese finalists, but it’s difficult due to multiple spellings and multiple people with the same names. But I’ve made friends with the two Chinese fan writer finalists.”

Speaking about the Best Series category:

… Personally, I’m sad that Elric by Melniboné by Michael Moorcock did not make the ballot, because not only is it a seminal sword and sorcery series, it’s also the longest running series written by a single author ever, as far as I know. The first Elric story “The Dreaming City” appeared in 1961,  The Citadel of Forgotten Myths in 2022, i.e. the series has been going for a whopping 61 years. Plus, Michael Moorcock has never won a Hugo due to the longstanding anti-fantasy bias of the Hugos and the undeserved dominance of John W. Campbell’s Analog in the 1960s, when he was editing New Worlds. That said, a new Elric story will appear later this year in New Edge Sword and Sorcery No. 1, so maybe we can rectify this oversight next year….

(3)  SWORD SLINGER. Marion Deeds has a nice overview of the Jirel of Joiry stories by C.L. Moore in her latest “WWWednesday” column at Fantasy Literature.

Jirel of Joiry is arguably the first pulp-fiction sword-and-sorcery female protagonist. The creation of C.L. (Catherine Lucille) Moore, Jirel first appeared in Weird Tales in 1934. Did she pre-date Red Sonya? Well, yes and no. Also in 1934, Robert E. Howard (creator of Conan) wrote a historical fantasy “The Shadow of the Vulture” featuring a woman called Red Sonja of Rogatino, of Ukranian-Polish ancestry, who wielded pistols, not swords. In the 1960s, the chainmail-bikini- clad woman-warrior named Red Sonja emerged, but it’s hard to look at her and not see Moore’s tempestuous, red-tressed warrior—actually, probably staring in smirking disbelief at Sonja’s bikini….

(4) MAGIC KINGDOM. Former Disney Imagineer Jim Shull regularly tweets photos and history about the several international Disney theme parks he worked on. Here are some recent examples. (DCA = “Disney California Adventure”.)

(5) DECISION MADE. Samantha Mills, author of Hugo nominee “Rabbit Test”, explains why she would not participate in 2023 Worldcon programming if asked. (Briefly, GoH Sergey Lukianenko.)

…Okay, time for the caveat. I’m not going to be participating in programming at Worldcon this year. (To be clear, I have not been invited to do so yet, not having an attending membership. And I have never attended before, though that hasn’t been by choice, simply logistics. Every year I say, “maybe next year I’ll be able to travel again… ah well.” So this isn’t as much of a sacrifice as I know it will be for others making similar decisions….

(6) NOW ON THE SHELVES. Lisa Tuttle’s “The best recent science fiction, fantasy and horror – reviews roundup” in the Guardian covers The Centre by Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi; Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Törzs; Silent City by Sarah Davis-Goff; Silver Nitrate by Silvia Moreno-Garcia; and Red Smoking Mirror by Nick Hunt.

(7) EARTH’S SECRET WEAPON REMEMBERED. NPR’s Stephen Thompson commemorates the tenth anniversary of the death of singer Slim Whitman.

It’s become tradition for my family to spend the Fourth of July watching a vaguely patriotic movie in which things are blown up in pursuit of a common good. Independence Day, both National Treasure movies, Team America: World Police … you get the idea. This year, we chose the Tim Burton film Mars Attacks!, in which an overstuffed cast must fend off an army of killer Martians. Released in late 1996, the film drew on the legacy of cheesy alien-invasion and disaster movies, and culminated in a couple of major musical reveals.

[This missive contains several Mars Attacks! spoilers. Stop reading now if you wish to remain in the dark about this 27-year-old film and the fate of its bloodthirsty villains.]

Given that parts of Mars Attacks! take place in Las Vegas, it wasn’t a huge surprise that Tom Jones, already an established presence in three decades of movies and TV, would pop up in several scenes — first performing “It’s Not Unusual” and later as part of a small band of heroes who make their escape from a city under siege. The bigger surprise was the identity of the musician whose voice, when blared through a loudspeaker, vibrated at a frequency that caused Martian heads to explode. His name was Slim Whitman, and he was one of the best-selling musicians of the 20th century. As we watched the film, we quickly realized that I was the only person in the room who’d heard of him….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1996 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

One of the joys of doing these Beginnings as a collaboration with Mike is that I get to discover writers such as Gill Alderman.

She had a short genre career with just four novels, two in her Guna sequence – The Archivist: A Black Romance and The Land Beyond: A Fable, plus two others, Lilith’s Castle and The Memory Palace, plus two stories in a career that lasted about a decade starting in the Eighties. 

And she’s done some screenplay writing including for HBO’s The Undoing mystery series. Outside of the genre, she has written are Gone GirlSharp ObjectsDark Places and the “The Grownup” novella. 

The Memory Palace (Voyager, 1996) which is what Mike selected for our Beginning was nominated for British Science Fiction Award the year Kim Stanley Robinson’s Blue Mars won. 

And now for this Beginning…

His hands ached badly, as they often did at the end of a long keyboard session. He flexed his fingers while he looked out, beyond the screen, into the twilit garden of the old rectory. It was a little cooler; he thought the rosebushes trembled slightly. There might be a breeze, one zephyr only: just a breath of air to end the stifling day. The lawns merged with churchyard and field and, in Humfrey’s Close, the Norman castle mound looked bigger than it was, worn down by nine hundred years of weather, rabbits and grazing sheep. A mile or so away, Karemarn’s dark slopes were beginning to merge with the night sky. 

The sun had set. The only light in the room came from the screen of the computer before the window, a luminescent shield which occulted the world outside as effectively as the steep hill hid the rising moon. It was covered with words, the conclusion of his newest novel and–as necessary an adjunct to his storytelling as the hallowed and familiar phrase ‘Once upon a time’–with his authorial adieu to the reader, that essential phrase with which he always signed off at the finish of the task: ‘THE END’. Then, his last words, his hand upon the creation: ‘Guy Kester Parados, The Old Rectory, Maidford Halse, June 24th 1990’.

He stretched, reaching high, yawned wide. A grisaille light as glamorous as that cast by his mind-mirroring screen filled the garden and the small field beyond it. It was time to be gone. He clicked the mouse under his right hand and saw his work vanish into the machine. He would leave it now, to settle and sift out of his mind; when he returned after the break, he would come to it refreshed. Then, one or two readings, a little tweaking (especially of the unsatisfactory last chapter) and a punctuation check should suffice and he could be rid of it for ever, in the future seeing it only as an entity given public birth by others, separate from him, one more title on the shelf–He made a copy and, reaching up, hid the floppy disk in the customary place in the cracked mullion.

‘You may now switch off safely.’ He read the prompt and, reaching for the switch, said ‘I shall, I shall.’ It had been a long haul, this one, through the fifteenth. The landscape of the novels was so familiar that he no longer had to consciously invent it, only travel the road with his chosen company, as used to his fictional country of Malthassa as to the hedged and crop-marked fields of the rural Midlands outside his study window. It was an old picture, this place outside the house; he no longer needed to look at it to remember it, but only inwards, into his mind, where those more perilous places, the dangerous rocks, the wild steppes and untameable floods he had created called him persistently. 

If I had gone in for the Church, he thought, would it have made me any happier? Would that honest life have felt more just, more true, than this of spinning the thread, weaving the cloth, cutting and stitching the garment of the storyteller? Would Helen have avoided me, or seen me as a greater challenge? I was a pushover for her after all, most eager to co-operate.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 8, 1914 Hans Stefan Santesson. Trifecta of editor, writer, and reviewer. He edited Fantastic Universe from 1956 to 1960, and the US edition of the British New Worlds Science Fiction. In the Sixties, he edited a lot of anthologies including The Fantastic Universe OmnibusThe Mighty Barbarians: Great Sword and Sorcery Heroes and Crime Prevention in the 30th Century. As a writer, he had a handful of short fiction, none of which is available digitally. His reviews appear to be all in Fantastic Universe in the Fifties. (Died 1975.)
  • Born July 8, 1933 Michael Barrier, 90. One of the few actors not a regular crew member on the original Trek who shows in multiple episodes under the same name. He was DeSalle in “The Squire of Gothos”, “This Side of Paradise” and “Catspaw”. While he has the same name each time, he does not have the same shipboard job as he serves as a navigator in the first episode, a biologist in “This Side of Paradise” and assistant chief engineer in “Catspaw”. 
  • Born July 8, 1942 Otto Penzler, 81. He’s proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City who edits anthologies. Oh does he edit them, over fifty that I know of, some of genre interest including The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories, Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! and The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories which an original Lester Dent story in it. Back in the Seventies, with Chris Steinbrunner, he co-wrote the Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection for which they won an Edgar Award.
  • Born July 8, 1944 Jeffrey Tambor, 79. I first encountered him on Max Headroom as Murray, Edison’s editor.  Later on, he’s Mayor Augustus Maywho in How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Finally I’ll note he was in both of the only true Hellboy films that there was playing Tom Manning, director of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. 
  • Born July 8, 1951 Anjelica Huston, 72. I’m going to single her out for her performance as The Grand High Witch of All The World, or Eva Ernst in The Witches, a most delicious film. She was also wonderful as Morticia Addams in both of the Addams Family films, and made an interesting Viviane, Lady of the Lake in The Mists of Avalon miniseries. 
  • Born July 8, 1953 Mark Blackman, 70. Mark has often written about the Fantastic Fiction at KGB and New York Review of Science Fiction readings series for File 770. He was a member of Lunarians and chaired Lunacon 38 in 1995. He was a member of the New York in 1989 Worldcon bid. (OGH)
  • Born July 8, 1955 Susan Price, 68. English author of children’s and YA novels. She has won both the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Prize for British children’s books. The Pagan Mars trilogy is her best known work, and The Sterkarm Handshake and its sequel A Sterkarm Kiss, will please Outlander fans.
  • Born July 8, 1988 Shazad Latif, 35. If you watched Spooks, you’ll remember him as Tariq Masood. (Spooks did become genre.) He was Chief of Security Ash Tyler in Discovery,andDr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in Penny Dreadful. He voiced Kyla in The Dark Crystal: Voice of Resistance. And he was in the Black Mirror episode “The National Anthem” as Mehdi Raboud. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld’s comment on tell-all books.

(11) OPPENHEIMER ACTOR. [Item by Steven French.] There’s some marginal genre interest here insofar as Cillian Murphy was the central character in the zombie apocalypse flick 28 Days Later but I was also struck by this comment regarding his role as Oppenheimer: “I had dinner with all these geniuses. I’ll never understand quantum mechanics, but I was interested in what science does to their perspective.” “Cillian Murphy on Oppenheimer, sex scenes and self-doubt: ‘I’m stubborn and lacking in confidence – a terrible combination’”: a profile in the Guardian.

…I raise method acting and Murphy tilts his head and frowns. “Method acting is a sort of … No,” he says, firm but with a half smile. Oppenheimer had many defining characteristics, not least walking on the balls of his feet and a vocal tic that sounded like nim-nim-nim, but Murphy didn’t want to do an impression. Nolan was obsessed with the Brillo-texture hair, so they spent “a long time working on hair”. And the voice. The real question for Murphy was what combination – ambition, madness, delusion, deep hatred of the Nazi regime? – allowed this theoretical physicist to agree to an experiment he knew could obliterate humankind. “He was dancing between the raindrops morally. He was complex, contradictory, polymathic; incredibly attractive intellectually and charismatic, but,” he decides, “ultimately unknowable.”…

(12) IT IS YOUR DESTINY. [Item by Dann.] Ryan George dropped a new Pitch Meeting for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. Selling that concept had to be super easy! Barely an inconvenience!

(13) JEOPARDY! [Item by David Goldfarb.] The Thursday episode had three clues in the single Jeopardy round, and (at least arguably) the Final Jeopardy.

A TV Series, $200: Captains of the Enterprise: William Shatner; This man from 1987 to 1994; then Scott Bakula

Challenger Carol Oppenheim identified this as Patrick Stewart.

So I’m Reading This Book, $400: A novel, writing the clue for us: “The is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure”

Challenger Alex Gordon knew this one.

A TV Series: $1000: This big fella on “Game of Thrones”: Conan Stevens, Ian Whyte, Hafthor Julius Bjornsson

Returning champion Anji Nyquist responded: “Who is the Mountain?”

Ken Jennings said, “Gregor Clegane, well done.”

Final Jeopardy: Squashing the allegory theory, the daughters of the author of this novel say it’s “just a story about rabbits”

Carol and Alex knew this was Watership Down.

(14) IT’S A MIRACLE. Cracked’s list of “14 Supernatural Things Our Bodies Can Do” leaves out a Kurt Vonnegut favorite, “turning perfectly good food into shit”.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Klingon Pop Warrior jenbom brings us “’Cha Cha Cha’, a Eurovision 2023 Cover”.

I watched Eurovision and this awesome Finnish dude with a bowl cut, a lime green bolero, and a name that’s a multi-level pun (Käärijä = wrapper) reminded me why I love performing and gave me some desperately needed inspiration with a song called “Cha Cha Cha.” If by some small chance, Käärijä himself hears this/sees the lyrics, I hope that he laughs and enjoys what we managed to accomplish. Despite how nerdy and funny the language is that I’m singing in, we always push for good musical arrangements. We had a fun day in the recording studio and I hope that fans of Käärijä, of which I am one, will catch the small details musically, in the translation effort, and in the accompanying lyric video. It’s my sincere hope that Käärijä fans who know nothing about Star Trek or Klingon enjoy this acoustic cover as much as my nerdy Trekkie fans.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/1/23 Yes, There Be Pixels And Where There Be Pixels There Be Birthdays

(1) WILL FANS ENCOUNTER PICKET LINES AT LA CONVENTION? Anime Expo started today in LA under the cloud of a threatened strike by hotel workers. The union has not said when they will walk off the job: “Anime fans face hotel strike threat” in the Los Angeles Times. (An NBC Los Angeles post updated an hour ago does not show that the strike has begun.)

The largest U.S. hotel workers’ strike in recent memory and the largest anime convention in North America are both set to kick off this weekend in the same downtown Los Angeles spot — with all the attendant agitation playing out on social media.

More than 15,000 union workers are seeking higher pay and better benefits and working conditions at 62 hotels in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

They could walk off the job as early as Saturday after their contracts expire.

On Thursday, the largest hotel, the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites, announced it had reached a tentative deal with the union representing its more than 600 employees.

The deal is the first among many that would be needed to avert the planned strike.

Meanwhile, thousands of fans of Japanese pop culture will gather Saturday for the start of Anime Expo, a four-day convocation of people interested in manga art, cosplay and video games with exhibitions and panels at the Los Angeles Convention Center and nearby hotels. Many have spent months hoarding vacation days and cash to trek to Southern California and commune with like-minded people.

The two passionate interest groups met up virtually in recent days, and the results weren’t pretty.

On Reddit, a union organizer with hotel workers’ Unite Here Local 11 kicked off the Ask-Me-Anything discussion by asking, “Did you know hotel workers at many of the properties you might be staying at for AX, such as the JW Marriott Downtown LA, Westin Bonaventure, Downtown Los Angeles Courtyard, Residence Inn Downtown LA, the Ritz Carlton and more, might be on strike?

“This could mean pickets, protests and other actions at hotels that could impact and potentially disrupt the Anime Expo,” wrote AnimeJustice11, the unnamed organizer.

“When workers go on strike, they stop work and walk off the job. If workers go on strike, there might not be anybody taking out the trash, cooking the food or cleaning the rooms. There also may be loud 24-hour picket lines right outside the property. How do you think this would affect the quality of the Anime Expo if you are attending / planning?”

AnimeJustice11 wrapped up with a plea: “I hope most/all of you will stand in solidarity with the potential striking workers and don’t cross picket lines!” The poster also asked those planning to attend Anime Expo to “contact the management and ask if they would negotiate a new contract that meets what workers are asking for.”

Unite Here Local 11 also has reached out to Anime Expo attendees, as well as other groups, with a targeted anime-style advertisement featuring a pink-haired worker carrying a sign reading: “Anime is cool! Disrespecting workers is not!”

Reddit users had many thoughts, including anger at the union for disrupting an expensive and cherished tradition, anger at hotel owners for not giving raises, and anger at one another for attacking the union organizer. Others debated what it meant to cross the picket line…

(2) LIKE SAND THROUGH THE HOURGLASS. Warner Bros. dropped a second Dune: Part Two Official Trailer.

The saga continues as award-winning filmmaker Denis Villeneuve embarks on “Dune: Part Two,” the next chapter of Frank Herbert’s celebrated novel Dune, with an expanded all-star international ensemble cast. The film, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, is the highly anticipated follow-up to 2021’s six-time Academy Award-winning “Dune.”

(3) GRIST FOR THE RUMOR MILL. “Denis Villeneuve Wants To End His Dune Trilogy With A Dune Messiah Adaptation” according to GameSpot.

Fans got a hearty helping of Dune: Part Two yesterday with a wild new trailer, showing everything from Feyd (Austin Butler) in action, to Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) delivering his iconic speech to the Freman. Even though there are only two parts to the Paul and House Atreides narrative, director Denis Villeneuve wants to fans to get a taste of the larger mythos at play with a third Dune film.

Deadline has reported that Villeneuve intends to cap off his Dune trilogy with a much deeper dive into Frank Herbert’s lore of the world of Dune with an adaptation of Dune Messiah. This film would be co-written by Villeneuve and screenwriter Jon Spaihts. Obviously, Warner Bros. Discovery has not yet officially announced active development for Part Three but should Part Two find success like its predecessor, a conclusion should be a no-brainer.

Dune Messiah was the second novel in the Dune Chronicles released in 1969. The book was adapted in the 2003 miniseries Children of Dune–the name of the actual third novel–which included parts of both “Messiah” and “Children.”…

(4) THE CIRCULAR FILE. Camestros Felapton fails to explain “Why did people read The Wheel of Time?” In that he probably has a lot of company.

… I’m happy to dunk on Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books because I too read them, each and every one. I bought some of them as big chunky trade paperbacks as well *AND* I thought they were badly written at the time *AND* realised that the story was going nowhere somewhere around the middle. So really I could rephrase this question as “Why did I read the Wheel of Time?”…

(5) NOT THE SPITTING IMAGE.  [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Since I got some new figures, I also made a new Masters-of-the-Universe toy photo story called “Artistic License” to address the question of why Skeletor and his Evil Warriors created the least convincing He-Man doppelganger ever: “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Artistic License’”.

… As for why Faker looks the way he does, the real world reason is that some Mattel designer forty years ago thought a blue and orange He-Man looked cool. As for the in universe reason, well, here is one potential answer…

… “Behold my new robot doppelganger of He-Man, Lord Skeletor. Those accursed Masters of the Universe will never know what hit them, when we plant this Faker in their midst. And now arise, my Faker.”

“I Am He-Man.”

“Is he not glorious, Lord Skeletor? I daresay he is my best invention yet.”

“Why is he blue?”

“Excuse me, boss?”

“He-Man is not a Gar. So why is he blue?”…

(6) GENRE GENESIS. A paper by Helen de Cruz titled “Cosmic Horror and the Philosophical Origins of Science Fiction” is online at Cambridge Universe Press.

We now live in a universe composed of billions of galaxies. And, for the most part, we rarely give this any thought. We go about our lives as people have done in the past. Still, you might have reflected on the vastness of the universe: perhaps when you visited a planetarium, or watched a documentary, or even looked up at the (probably light-polluted) night sky and felt a dizziness, a vertigo. That experience is cosmic horror, a sense of the sublime that makes you feel both small and insignificant and a part of a huge, interconnected whole. Once we realize the universe is enormous, and that we’re but a tiny speck in that vast world, we need to recalibrate ourselves. We need to find meaning and significance in being the tiny speck we are. As I’ll argue here, science fiction helps us to come to terms with cosmic horror, as the history of philosophy shows. As a literary form, science fiction originated in philosophical speculation about the universe and our place within it….

(7) G.O.A.T. FANTASY MOVIES. You might not be surprised by what’s at the very top of TimeOut’s list of “The 50 best fantasy movies of all time”, but I, for one, was surprised to see what made number three:

3. Onward (2020)

A pair of grieving elf brothers turn to magic to reanimate, for 24 emotional hours, the dad they never really knew. But the spell is broken halfway through, leaving them with, well, half a dad. With only the legs operational and the missing top half flopping around under layers of clothes, the three bluff their way through a quest to find a magical gem and finish the job. Set in a fantastical land populated by evolved cyclops, fauns, mages and all manner of mythical fauna who have switched from magic to mod cons, ‘Onward’ is a cometh-of-age tale that makes playful capital from our habit of turning the past into touristy kitsch. 

Magic moment: When Ian listens to a tape of the dad he never knew and you wish you’d remember to bulk-buy tissues.

(8) RR DOES NOT STAND FOR RAILROAD. Dominic Noble is “Talking to George RR Martin About HIS Favorite Book”.

GRRM joins me for this very special episode of Reginald’s Book Club to talk about Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny, which is currently being adapted for TV by Robert Kirkman and Stephen Colbert. I was so nervous doing this I got the name of the book, the name of the author and the name of MY OWN PODCAST wrong, but George was so friendly and chill the whole time I think it came out pretty well.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2022 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Mike chose Ray Nayler’s The Mountain in the Sea, which came out last year as our Beginning this Scroll. It’s his only novel, published by MCD. 

He’s published considerably more short fiction, most of it in the past three years, though his first published sff story came out in 1996. And he’s written one wonderfully-titled essay, “Not Prediction, But Predication: The True Power of Science Fiction”, which ran in Asimov’s Science Fiction, the May-June 2023 issue.

Our choice was a finalist for the Nebula Award, the Locus Award, and for the LA Times Book Awards’ Ray Bradbury Award for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Speculative Fiction…

NIGHT. DISTRICT THREE of the Ho Chi Minh Autonomous Trade Zone. 

The plastic awning of the café streamed with rain. Under its shelter, wreathed in kitchen steam and human chatter, waiters wove between tables with steaming bowls of soup, glasses of iced coffee, and bottles of beer. 

Beyond the wall of rain, electric motorbikes swept past like luminescent fish. Better not to think of fish. 

Lawrence concentrated his attention instead on the woman across the table, wiping her chopsticks with a wedge of lime. The color-swarm of the abglanz identity shield masking her face shifted and wavered.

Like something underwater … 

Lawrence dug his nails into his palm. “I’m sorry—does that thing have another setting?” 

The woman made an adjustment. The abglanz settled to a bland construct of a female face. Lawrence could make out the faint outline of her real face, drifting below the surface. 

Drifting …

“I don’t usually use this setting.” The oscillations of the abglanz flattened the woman’s inflection. “The faces are uncanny. Most people prefer the blur.” 

She brought her chopsticks to her mouth. The noodles sank into the glitchy surface of the digital mask’s lips. Inside was the shadow of another set of lips and teeth.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 1, 1891 Otis Adelbert Kline. Early pulp writer and literary agent whose great claim to fame was a possibly apocryphal feud with fellow author Edgar Rice Burroughs, in which he supposedly raised the latter’s anger by producing close imitations of Burroughs’s Mars novels. Wollheim and Moskowitz would believe in it, Lupoff did not. (Died 1946.)
  • Born July 1, 1934 Jean Marsh, 89. She was married to Jon Pertwee but it was before either were involved in Dr. Who. She first appeared alongside The First Doctor in “The Crusade” as Lady Joanna, the sister of Richard I (The Lionheart). She returned later that year as companion Sara Kingdom in “The Daleks’ Master Plan”. And she’d return yet again during the time of the Seventh Doctor in “Battlefield” as Morgana Le Fay. She’s also in Unearthly Stranger Dark PlacesReturn to OzWillow as Queen Bavmorda and The Changeling
  • Born July 1, 1935 David Prowse. The physical embodiment of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. Ok, it’s been a very long time since I saw Casino Royale but what was Frankenstein’s Creation doing there, the character he played in his first ever role? That he played that role in The Horror of Frankenstein and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, Hammer Films a few later surprises me not. He shows up in Gilliam’s Jabberwocky according to IMDB as Red Herring and Black Knights (and no I’ve no idea what that means). Finally he’s the executioner in The People That Time Forgot, a film that’s very loosely based off of several Burroughs novels. (Died 2020.)
  • Born July 1, 1942 Genevieve Bujold, 81. We would have had a rather different look on Voyager if things had played out as the producers wished, for Bujold was their first choice to play Janeway. She quit after a day and a half of shooting, with the public reason being she was unaccustomed to the hectic pace of television filming. What the real reason was we will never know.
  • Born July 1, 1955 Robby the Robot, 68.Yes, this is this official birthday according to studio of the robot in Forbidden Planet which debuted a year later. He would later be seen is such films and series as The Invisible Boy,Invasion of the Neptune MenThe Twilight ZoneLost In SpaceThe Addams Family, Wonder Woman and Gremlins.  He was also featured in a 2006 commercial for 2006 commercial for AT&T.
  • Born July 1, 1964 Charles Coleman Finlay, 59. His first story, “Footnotes”, was published in 2001 in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction where many of his other stories were published, and which he edited for several years. The Traitor to the Crown series is his best-known work.
  • Born July 1, 1981 Genevieve Valentine, 42. Author of the superb Persona novel and also she scripted a Catwoman series, working with artists Garry Brown and David Messina. Her first novel, Mechanique: A tale of the Circus Tresaulti, won the Crawford Award for a first fantasy novel. She scripted a run of Xena: Warrior Princess, and scripted Batman & Robin Eternal as well. 

(11) CAN YOU HEAR THE DRUMS FERNANDO? The Guardian’s Tim Dowling writes, “The board game is back out, and I’m losing again”.

…“We can have a takeaway for supper, but you’ll have to hang around.”

“In that case,” says the youngest, “shall we play this?” He is pointing to a box containing a complicated board game to do with medieval dynasties.

“Yeah, all right,” says the oldest.

“And Dad,” says the youngest, “you’re definitely playing.”

When this box was first opened a few weeks ago, I wrote about two fears: that it may be one of the last times I watched my grown sons sit down to play a board game in our house; and that I had accidentally raised three nerds.

At the time I did not realise the board game would become a Sunday fixture, and that I would be roped into playing against my will. I still don’t know which outcome is preferable.

“I’m new to this,” I say, sitting down. “So this is a practice round.”

“It’s easier if we just play,” says the middle one. “You’ll pick it up.”

I am supplied with a character, Fernando; some territory – the Iberian peninsula; and a number of plastic knights. I am then obliged to select an abiding trait at random.

“Chaste,” I say.

“Chaste is good,” says the middle one, “but it makes it hard to marry.”

He’s not kidding. By the start of the Second Era the middle one has launched a sustained attack on the Papal States – much to the consternation of the youngest one, who reigns there – but, critically, I have still not found a spouse….

(12) THE SMART SET. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This item will be appearing in next season’s (September) SF² Concatenation news page’s science and SF interface section…

Smart clothing – that is, not ‘neat’ but, ‘clever’ clothing – is a minor SF trope.  In terms of SFnal clothing, space-suits are positively mundane, but the genre offers much more from the techno-suits of super-heroes to the stillsuits of Dune.  Now there is a new, electrically-controlled fabric that can vary its heat – infra-red – transmission that could be used to create clothing with abilities not too dissimilar to, say, those found in Iain Banks’ ‘Culture’.  US engineers and applied physicists have created this fabric they call Wearable Variable-Emittance (WeaVE).  To make the material flexible, the authors used kirigami principles, which entail cutting a 2D surface and then folding it into 3D patterns. The polymer can either emit heat or provide insulation depending on the voltage applied to it. Here, the voltage needed is really small, less than one volt, so no large batteries are required.  The material enables wearers to experience the same skin temperature at ambient temperatures from 17.1°C to 22.0°C: that’s almost a 5°C range. No doubt we will get even better smart fabrics in the future… A brief summary of this research appears in Nature and the primary research is Chen, T-H. et al (2023) A kirigami-enabled electrochromic wearable variable-emittance device for energy-efficient adaptive personal thermoregulationPNAS Nexus, vol. 2, p1-10.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. From a year ago, the opening scene of The Batman.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Jennifer Hawthorne, N., Francis Hamit, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 6/25/23 “A Pixel Less Scrolled Is A Scroll Saved” As The Old Saying Doesn’t Go

(1) FROM FANFIC TO THE TOP. [Item by Steven French.] One to watch out for: after debuting with Boy Parts, ‘a mischievous satire’, and following that up with Penance, based on horrific true events, Eliza Clark is planning a third novel of speculative fiction and a collection of science fiction and horror short stories: “Eliza Clark: ‘I’m more primary school teacher than enfant terrible’” in the Guardian.

…She reckons that being a word-of-mouth success let her fly under the radar of critics ready to dismiss Granta’s selection as a list of commercially unsuccessful unknowns. “But you don’t want to be the arsehole who’s like: ‘Actually, if you were to check TikTok and ask 20-year-old girls on humanities courses at university, you’d find that one of these books is actually very popular,’” she says, with a winningly wicked laugh.

Being underestimated is something of a theme with Clark. In her early teens she read keenly, led by her parents to Tolkien, George RR Martin and Stephen King while finding Nabokov and Murakami on her own (“Ryū, not Haruki,” she adds quickly, as if to make certain I know that extreme horror is her jam, not pervy magic realism). The kind of pupil who once wowed English teachers by writing “pages and pages and pages”, she was blocked by her school from applying to study English at Oxbridge because she got C grades in GCSE maths and French. She then fell into boozing with pals (“it was very easy to underage drink in Newcastle”) and out of love with reading – or at least with books. “My brain had been so boiled by the internet by that point. I shouldn’t have been allowed to have my own laptop! Shock images were so clickable and findable. But I used to write loads of fan fiction and I wouldn’t have had all those years of writing practice.”…

(2) MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. Cora Buhlert brings us her “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre Pride Month Special: ‘Ambush in the Mystic Mountains’”.

…Last year, I posted a Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre Pride Month Special called “Fisto’s Significant Other”, in which Fisto and Ram-Man announce that they are a couple. This is only my head canon BTW, but the various cartoons hint quite strongly that Fisto as well as various other heroic warriors are not straight. And besides, they do make a cute couple.

Therefore, I decided to do another Pride Month Special featuring fan favourite Malcolm a.k.a. Fisto and his significant other Ram-Man a.k.a. Krass. Especially since I had just picked up the new Masterverse Deluxe Ram-Man figure.

So enjoy…

Ambush in the Mystic Mountains…

(3) INCREASING REPRESENTATION. Arturo Serrano interviews two game designers, Miguel Colón (designer of Boricubos) and Adrián Mejía (designer of Koboa) in “More Latin American content for your TTRPG sessions” at Nerds of a Feather.

…AS: How did you ensure a respectful representation of elements from real-world cultures?

MC (Boricubos): There is a careful balance here. As someone who is very entrenched in the culture, I had to make sure I represented what I loved about some of the stories I was told, some of the research I did, and some of the things that I came up with individually. This all blended together quite nicely, I believe. Ultimately, it is not my role to speak for every Puerto Rican, other Latin Americans, or anyone, really. I am trying to represent something deeply personal to me, share with others something that would make them interested in doing their own research, and present a new point of view for people. It’s very hard because, in order for the setting to work, there have to be things that are inspired by the actual culture, but also things that are completely independent. I think the best thing for people to take away is that Boricubos represents some stories and legends, but is not a one-for-one recreation.

AM (Koboa): It is an ongoing process. We have built up a team of South American designers, writers, and artists with extremely diverse backgrounds and experiences. Additionally, all our content (writing, art briefs, illustrations, etc.) goes through two or more cultural and sensitivity consultants, to ensure we don’t inadvertently represent elements of culture in ways that are harmful or offensive….

(4) HWA PRIDE. The Horror Writers Association blog continues this month’s theme with “A Point of Pride: Interview with Mae Murray”.

What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?

I didn’t have an idyllic childhood. I was exposed to a lot of pain, loss, and trauma from an early age, which made me feel alienated from my peers. I enjoyed the horror genre because it allowed me to deal with those themes in an imaginative, transformative way. It was safe to talk about certain traumas in the context of a horror story, because for a child/teen/young adult, the truths were almost too brutal to articulate any other way. But it’s more than just that… I found horror sexy, exciting. I hated being afraid, and I loved being afraid. It was the push and pull of daring yourself to be brave. It’s a challenging genre that begs to break formulae time and again. It can be romantic, erotic, terrifying, cathartic, disgusting, beautiful. It truly is a genre that has it all and can do it all. 

(5) TIDAL FLOW. Really, I’m not convinced by this first paragraph. Is adding “-punk” to a noun anything more than a tactic to market a short list of books? “Diving into the Sub-Genre of Oceanpunk” at Book Riot.

From steampunk to dieselpunk to clockpunk and more, there is a proliferation of sub-genres and mashups that fall under the punk literature umbrella. Defined by their embrace of retro, yet futuristic technologies and specific elements and settings, these books transport readers to an imaginative world in which characters move through an altered landscape from our own. Punk sub-genre books often play with timelines and settings in ways that both echo our own world and change it up. For example, steampunk writers craft fictional worlds that are both futuristic and have echoes of Victorian fashion and steam powered-technology, while cyberpunk authors focus on what happens when a high-technology society meets humanity. Oceanpunk writers take us under or onto the high seas, to explore what it would be like to live in a water-dominated world….

(6) IT’S POSSIBLE AFTER ALL. “‘I’m not that geeky guy any more’: Simon Pegg on comedy, action heroes and staying at home” in the Guardian.

Pegg’s ascent remains one of the great, recent Hollywood creation stories. In one of the most entertaining parts of it, he and Wright were asked in an interview, after Shaun of the Dead, whether they planned to leave the UK behind and make action films in the US. Pegg responded, “It’s not like we’re going to go away and do, I don’t know” – scanning his brain for an imaginary, and unimaginable, blockbuster – “Mission: Impossible III.”

The reply was honest. Pegg had not long before done an audition for a small part in the Mission: Impossible franchise, something involving a helicopter, and heard nothing. But then, the original director, Joe Carnahan, left the project and Cruise brought in Alias creator JJ Abrams, who was a huge fan of… Shaun of the Dead! Ricky Gervais was set to play Cruise’s sidekick Benji Dunn, but dropped out and Pegg was given the nod. “So it was a huge irony that I’d said, ‘I’m not going to go off and do this,’” says Pegg. “But then, at that time, there was this attitude that anyone who went off to Hollywood was betraying their roots in some sense or selling out. It’s not like you cross some misty bridge at night and never come home again. So many people assume that I live over there. But, you know, I live in Hertfordshire.”…

(7) MONTY PYTHON’S DYING CIRCUS. ICv2 carried news of CMON’s game expansion “Monty Python’s Flying Circus – Zombicide 2E”. There’s a gallery of images of the components at the link.

CMON announced Monty Python’s Flying Circus – Zombicide 2E, a new board game expansion, which will arrive in April 2024.

Zombicide 2E just got a whole lot more wacky with the introduction of this expansion featuring the elements of the classic TV show by the legendary English comedy troupe.  The set revisits some of the show’s funniest sketches by adding Monty Python-themed survivors , enemies, and equipment.  There is also a new mission and if the expansion is preordered off CMON’s website, it includes an exclusive pack of Gumbys.

This set comes with 21 miniatures, 8 tokens, 47 cards, and a rules leaflet.  The expansion requires a base set to play and it will retail for $50.00….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1994 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Now here’s an author that I really like — Mike Resnick. There’s really nothing by him that I’ve not enjoyed immensely. 

First and foremost are the four novels in the John Justin Mallory series, followed by his Future History series and the ever so silly Galactic Midway affair with one with the best novel titles ever, The Best Rootin’ Tootin’ Shootin’ Gunslinger in the Whole Damned Galaxy.

Let’s not forget the Weird West Tale series which I consider one of the best steampunk Western series ever done.

And then there’s the “Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge” novella, the source of our Beginning this Scroll, which was first published in 1994 by Axolotl Press, part of Pulphouse Publishing. Part of his Birthright Universe series, it would win a Hugo at Intersection. A Nebula would be also would be won as well as a HOMer. There was also a Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award nomination 

And here’s our Beginning…

The creatures came again last night.

The moon had just slipped behind the clouds when we heard the first rustlings in the grass. Then there was a moment of utter silence, as if they knew we were listening for them, and finally there were the familiar hoots and shrieks as they raced to within fifty meters of us and, still screeching, struck postures of aggression.

They fascinate me, for they never show themselves in the daylight, and yet they manifest none of the features of the true nocturnal animal. Their eyes are not oversized, their ears cannot move independently, they tread very heavily on their feet. They frighten most of the other members of my party, and while I am curious about them, I have yet to absorb one of them and study it.

To tell the truth, I think my use of absorption terrifies my companions more than the creatures do, though there is no reason why it should. Although I am relatively young by my race’s standards, I am nevertheless many millennia older than any other member of my party. You would think, given their backgrounds, that they would know that any trait someone of my age possesses must by definition be a survival trait. 

Still, it bothers them. Indeed, it mystifies them, much as my memory does. Of course, theirs seem very inefficient to me. Imagine having to learn everything one knows in a single lifetime, to be totally ignorant at the moment of birth! Far better to split off from your parent with his knowledge intact in your brain, just as my parent’s knowledge came to him, and ultimately to me.

But then, that is why we are here: not to compare similarities, but to study differences. And never was there a race so different from all his fellows as Man. He was extinct barely seventeen millennia after he strode boldly out into the galaxy from this, the planet of his birth—but during that brief interval he wrote a chapter in galactic history that will last forever. He claimed the stars for his own, colonized a million worlds, ruled his empire with an iron will. He gave no quarter during his primacy, and he asked for none during his decline and fall. Even now, some forty-eight centuries after his extinction, his accomplishments and his failures still excite the imagination.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 25, 1894 – Hermann Oberth. Physicist, engineer, pioneer of rocketry. Read Jules Verne as a child, built his first model rocket at age 14. Doctoral dissertation Rockets into Space. Consulted on Fritz Lang’s film Woman in the Moon (1929). Worked on early rockets, came to work for NASA. Autobiography in Clarke’s anthology The Coming of the Space Age (1967).  Werner von Braun said “Oberth was the first.” (Died 1989) [John Hertz]
  • Born June 25, 1903 George Orwell, born Eric Blair in 1903. Animal Farm is fantasy of a political sort, but 1984 is clearly genre, and it may hold the record for the most neologisms added to English by a single SF book. Orwell was mostly known as a journalist and essayist, including his spats with H.G. Wells, most notably in “Wells, Hitler and the World State”. (Died 1950.) [Alan Baumler]
  • Born June 25, 1925 June Lockhart, 98. Maureen Robinson on Lost in Space which amazingly only ran for three seasons. She has a number of genre one-offs including Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Greatest American Hero and Babylon 5. She appeared in the Lost in Space film as Principal Cartwright. 
  • Born June 25, 1935 Charles Sheffield. He was the President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and of the American Astronautical Society. He won both the Nebula and Hugo Awards for his novelette “Georgia on My Mind” and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel for Brother to Dragons which is an amazing read. Much of his fiction is in his Heritage Universe series; the linked short stories of space traveler Arthur Morton McAndrew are a sheer comic delight. Besides his Hugo Award at ConAdian (1994) for “Georgia on My Mind”, he had several nominations as well. Chicon V (1991) picked two, “A Braver Thing” novelette and the “Godspeed” short story.  Oh, and he was toastmaster at BucConeer. (Died 2002.)
  • Born June 25, 1947 John Maddox Roberts, 76. Here for being prolific with his Conan pastiches, seven to date so far. I’ll also single out his The SPQR series beginning with SPQR which are police-procedural mystery novels set in Ancient Rome. Someone at the Libertarian Futurist Society really, really likes the Island Worlds as it has been nominated three times for the Prometheus Hall of Fame.
  • Born June 25, 1956 Anthony Bourdain. That’s a death that hit me hard. Partly because he’s round my age, partly because, damn, he seemed so interested in everything that I couldn’t conceive him committing suicide. And yes, he was one of us with three works to his credit: Get Jiro!, (with Joe Rose and Langdon Foss), Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi (with Joe Rose and Ale Garza) and Hungry Ghosts (with Joel Rose, Alberto Ponticelli, Irene Koh, Paul Pope). The first two are on DC, the latter‘s on Berger Books. (Died 2018.)
  • Born June 25, 1981 Sheridan Smith, 42. She makes the Birthday list for being Lucie Miller, a companion to the Eighth Doctor in his Big Finish audio adventures starting in 2006 and running through at least this year. Her only video genre work was being in The Huntsman: Winter’s War as Mrs Bromwyn.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro introduces us to King Kong’s mom.

(11) TO THE THIRD POWER. Paul Weimer praises a trilogy with a satisfying ending: “Review: The Ivory Tomb by Melissa Caruso” at Nerds of a Feather. “Melissa Caruso finishes the Rooks and Ruin trilogy, as Ryx and her friends must deal with the return of all the demons of legend and myth to the world.”

It’s not been a good time for Ryx. After the revelations of the second book in the series (the main one I will discuss anon), The Quicksilver Court, and the disastrous events, she and the rest of the magical-problem solving Rookery are on the backfoot. All the demons are on the loose, both the Vaskandrans and Serene Empire seem to be ready to pummel each other. But the Rookery is still in the fight, hoping to get new and old friends together to oppose the world-spanning threat.

This is the story of The Ivory Tomb, the third and final volume in Caruso’s Rooks and Ruin series, her second series set in her world of Vaskandar and the Serene Empire….

(12) KEEPING AN EAR ON ANIME. This month Anime Explorations’ Summer of JoJo continues with the second season of the series, and the first half of the Stardust Crusaders arc of the story, with their first pair of JoJos, and introducing the concept of Stands into the series. “Anime Explorations Podcast: Episode 9: JoJo Part 2 – Stardust Crusaders (Road to Egypt Arc)”.

(13) FLAME ON. The Hunger Games star finds hunger isn’t always a bad alternative: “Jennifer Lawrence Sobs in Pain While Eating Spicy Wings” on Hot Ones, where they taste progressively spicier sauces.

(14) LIKE YOU NEED TEENY-TINY BRANDING IRONS FOR ANTS. “How To Visit This Secret Trader Joe’s in California” at Apartment Therapy.

Taking a trip to your local Trader Joe’s is probably a highlight of your week, so if you got the chance to check out the most secretive Trader Joe’s in the country, that might just make your entire year. There’s a hidden (and exclusive!) Trader Joe’s in Irvine, California, that’s making waves on social media. You need a ticket to get in and … it’s completely pint-sized.

This top-secret Trader Joe’s is located inside Pretend City Children’s Museum, and the entire store has been shrunken down to give children the experience of grocery shopping. Natasha, the creator behind the Trader Joe’s List Instagram account, visited the spot that comes with child-sized shopping carts, make-believe food, faux flower bouquets, and pretend cash registers….

(15) MARKS THE SPOT. Whatever happened to the “on the internet no one knows you’re a dog” meme? Ryan George’s new video shows what it would be like “If Dogs Had Podcasts”.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. And HISHE says this is “How The Super Mario Bros Movie Should Have Ended”.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Alexander Case, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]