Pixel Scroll 2/10/24 No, That’s Not A Pixel, It’s A Cat Dreaming It’s A Pixel

(1) 2027 WORLDCON RACE HEATS UP. A Montréal in 2027 Worldcon bid was announced this weekend. The committee is led by Worldcon-running veteran Terry Fong, who lives there. Montréal previously hosted the 2009 Worldcon.

Terry Fong and Rebecca Downey were at Boskone today running a bid table – thanks to Lisa Hertel for this photo.

Terry Fong and Rebecca Downey at Boskone. Photo by Lisa Hertel.

According to Kevin Standlee their proposed site, the Palais des Congrès, is scheduled for a major renovation in 2028, so a bid for that year would not be practical.

The other announced bid for 2027 is WorldCon 2027 in Tel Aviv, Israel.

(2) MEDICAL UPDATE. Kaja Foglio has returned home from the hospital. Phil Foglio posted the good news.

(3) CHTORR GAME IN OUR FUTURE. David Gerrold has told Facebook readers that Dan Verssen Games has licensed the use of one of his Chtorr novels for a version of DVG’s Warfighter games series.

(4) VERSE WANTS TO BE FREE. Bobby Derie in “’A Dracula of the Hills’ (1923) by Amy Lowell” at Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein looks at the Lowell novel, what Lovecraft thought of Lowell, and how both were influenced by Bram Stoker’s novel.

… Time and experience somewhat mellowed Lovecraft’s attitudes towards free verse and Amy Lowell. While the 1922 publication of T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” prompted Lovecraft to write his own satire in free verse, “Waste Paper.” For all that Lovecraft remained a lifelong devotee of traditional meters and rhyme schemes, continued interaction with poets that used free verse such as Hart Crane and Edith Miniter seems to have led him to a begrudging acceptance of the practice. When Amy Lowell died 12 May 1925, Lovecraft wrote:

“When I say that Miſs Lowell wrote poetry, I refer only to the essential contents—the isolated images which prove her to have seen the world transfigured with poetic glamour. I do not mean to say that the compleat results are to be judg’d as poems in any finish’d sense—but merely that there is poetical vision in the broken & rhythmical prose & disconnected pictorial presentations which she gave us. She is also, of course, the author of much genuine poetry in the most perfect metres—sonnets & the like—which most have forgotten because of the greater publicity attending her eccentric emanations.”

H. P. Lovecraft to Lillian D. Clark, 8 Aug 1925, Letters to Family and Family Friends 1.340

(5) BUT THE GROUND’S GETTING CLOSER. The Coyote may still be up in the air, however, his destiny seems certain: “’Coyote Vs. Acme’: With Pic’s Fate In Limbo At Warners, Phil Lord Observes, ‘How Funny It Would Be For This To End With A Congressional Hearing’” reports Deadline.

Warners Bros has screened their axed Coyote vs. Acme to around 12 buyers we hear with a rigid buy price of $70M+; which is how much the animated live-action hybrid movie cost.

Netflix and Paramount put forth bids, which we told you about, but they were lower than the $70M asking price (between $30M-$50M), therefore in Warner’s eyes, rivals didn’t want the feature for what it cost.

What Deadline has received clarity on is that Warner Bros took a $70M writedown on Q3 earnings, not the upcoming Q4. Nonetheless, the movie, which the Burbank, CA lot decided back in early November not to release — remains in purgatory. That said, we hear the door isn’t officially closed on Coyote vs. Acme‘s prospects yet — it’s just that the Coyote could wind up in the cave with Batgirl.

Phil Lord, whose Lego Movie made Warner Bros. over $471M in addition to spuring a feature franchise, took umbrage with the David Zaslav-run conglomerate on Twitter tonight exclaiming, “Is it anticompetitive if one of the biggest movie studios in the worlds shuns the marketplace in order to use a tax loophole to write off an entire movie so they can more easily merge with one of the bigger movie studios in the world? Cause it SEEMS anticompetitive.”

Lord is among those with Chris Miller, Michael Chaves, Daniel Scheinert and Deadline who’ve seen the movie.

Lord further added in reference to the climax of Coyote vs. Acme, “If you could see Coyote vs. Acme, you’d know how funny it would be for this to end with a congressional hearing.”…

(6) YOU AND YOU AND YOU AND THE MULTIVERSE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] We at SF2 Concatenation enjoy diving into the really important questions of life, the Universe and everything, especially those on that fertile boundary between science fact and science fiction, feeling that there are more useful answers there than just a two-digit figure… And so is Becky Smethurst, who has used Rick and Morty as a starting point to explore the concept of the multiverse.

Is there really a parallel universe with an identical you in it? And which multiverse theory does Rick and Morty subscribe to? Indeed, how broad is SF’s approach to the multiverse concept?

Here, Brit Cit astrophysicist Dr. Becky would like to know of any SF story or film that employs the ‘bubble universe’ theory of the multiverse. If you have an example, put it in the comments beneath her 15-minute YouTube video. There’s a challenge for Filers. (Sadly, the end of video the good doctor displays worries that some (just some) of her science colleagues will object vehemently for her use of SF to explore science… There are trolls everywhere, even in science alas.)

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 10, 1953 John Shirley, 71. Did you know that John Shirley has written n historical novel, a western about Wyatt Earp — Wyatt in Wichita? I wonder how many of our sff writers beside him and Emma Bull (whose novel Territory was decidedly not historical) have written novels on this incident and the individuals there? 

John Shirley. Photo by Sunni Brock.

I really enjoyed his first novel City Come A-Walkin which I think is a brilliant rendering of a City come to life. 

I’ll admit I’m not much at all for grim dystopian SF but I did find his A Song Called Youth trilogy of EclipseEclipse Penumbra and Eclipse Corona fascinating if in a horrifying manner.

His best known script work is The Crow film, for which he was the initial writer, before David Schow reworked the script. I’m not sure he got actually any credit at all. He also wrote scripts for Poltergeist: The Legacy.

I see that to my surprise he wrote an episode of Deep Space Nine, “Visionary” and also wrote three episodes of the ‘12 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. 

He wrote novels in the AliensDoomHaloResident EvilPredators franchise, Borderlands video gaming DC metaverse and Grimm series.

His latest novel which I’ve not read so do tell me about it is SubOrbital 7.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Argyle Sweater has an update about Peter and Wendy.
  • Tom Gauld has been busy since we last checked in.

(9) THE FUNGUS AMONG US. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Could The Last Of Us fungi be a real risk? The all-party Science Innovation & Technology Committee of the House of Commons Select Committee has held a special one-off session on fungi.

The session explored some of the risks and drawbacks of fungi, which can cause disease in plants and animals including humans. We know that one fungus, cordyceps, can infect and completely “take over” the life functions of insects like ants. But could they really start the zombie apocalypse as depicted in the video game and TV series The Last Of Us? The Daily Mail reported on the meeting

 A fungus called cordyceps, or zombie-ant fungus, is able to control insects’ minds using psychoactive chemicals. It drains their bodies of nutrients before directing them to a high place and releasing spores to infect others. Emmy Award-winning The Last of Us, a post-apocalyptic drama based on a hit video game, shows a world in which cordyceps has spread to humans and wiped out most of humanity. Alarmingly, Professor Fisher said rising global temperatures are causing fungi like cordyceps to evolve and adapt to warmer conditions – which could enable them to colonise human bodies. Dawn Butler MP asked: ‘Is a zombie apocalypse driven by fungal infections a possibility? Professor Fisher said: ‘Well, all the bits exist, don’t they? ‘Fungi can produce strongly psychoactive chemicals, which can influence our behaviour dramatically, and they can also spread and invade humans. 

However, don’t take the Daily Mail too seriously, it is not the best of British newspapers.

The meeting also noted that few fungi can flourish in the warmth of the human body, nonetheless with a changing climate there will be more fungi about.

(10) YEAR OF THE DRAGON ON LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] Filers might be interested in this One-Day Special quiz: Year of the Dragon at LearnedLeague. It actually has surprisingly little SFF content for a dragon-themed quiz.

(11) JABBA Q&A. Can you guess why this is topical?

(12) PHANTOM RETURNING. And this might be a good place to announce “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace 25th Anniversary Cinema Release Confirmed For May The 4th Weekend” at Empire Online.

The epic Darth Maul vs. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn duel. The thunderous Boonta Eve Podrace. The battle of Naboo. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace is packed with moments best witnessed on the big screen, spooling back to the very beginning of the Skywalker Saga to depict Anakin Skywalker’s first encounter with the Jedi, the beginnings of the galactic civil war, and the menacing meddling of Palpatine. Well, good news: to mark 25 years since the film first hit cinemas in 1999, it’s coming back to cinemas later this year. Cue the fanfare!

This May the 4th weekend (so, from Friday 3 May), The Phantom Menace will be re-released in cinemas for a limited time, meaning you can revisit all your favourite moments as large and loud as George Lucas intended….

 (13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. At first I thought he made this up.

But no! I’m stunned to learn this is a real product.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, David Goldfarb, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, 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 Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 2/4/24 Pixel, Pixel, Scroll And Stumble. File Churn And Cauldron Double

(1) FUNERAL FOR CACHED WEBPAGES. Ars Technica says “Google will no longer back up the Internet: Cached webpages are dead”. That will make reporting controversial social media – where people sometimes take down posts that have attracted attention — rather harder.

Google will no longer be keeping a backup of the entire Internet. Google Search’s “cached” links have long been an alternative way to load a website that was down or had changed, but now the company is killing them off. Google “Search Liaison” Danny Sullivan confirmed the feature removal in an X post, saying the feature “was meant for helping people access pages when way back, you often couldn’t depend on a page loading. These days, things have greatly improved. So, it was decided to retire it.”

The feature has been appearing and disappearing for some people since December, and currently, we don’t see any cache links in Google Search. For now, you can still build your own cache links even without the button, just by going to “https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:” plus a website URL, or by typing “cache:” plus a URL into Google Search. For now, the cached version of Ars Technica seems to still work. All of Google’s support pages about cached sites have been taken down….

(2) GERROLD Q&A. The Roddenberry Archive has released a two-part interview with David Gerrold.

The Roddenberry Archive presents an in-depth two-part conversation with award-winning science fiction novelist and screenwriter David Gerrold. During the conversation, Mr. Gerrold tells how, as a college student he broke into the television industry by writing a script for the original Star Trek, the classic episode, “Trouble With Tribbles.”. Mr. Gerrold speaks candidly of his sometimes-tumultuous relationship with Star Trek’s creator, the late Gene Roddenberry. He delves into his personal experiences in the making of the legendary series and of his pivotal role in the development of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

(3) DISCUSSING HUGO REFORM. Brad Templeton has distilled his comments about the Chengdu Worldcon Hugo problems and potential fixes into a single post: “The World Science Fiction convention/awards were attacked again. How can its unusual governance structure deal with this?” at Brad Ideas. Here are the final two sections:

Legal clarity

The organization also needs more legal clarity. The terms of the agreement between WSFS and the conventions it appoints need to be more explicit and clear. The current WSFS constitution says the WorldCon (the local convention entity) does most of what goes on at a convention, but the Hugos and Site Selection are officially the actions of WSFS, though it delegates the logistics and administration to the WorldCon. It’s a bit confusing and might not handle legal scrutiny well.

That WSFS is constitutionally the party that awards the Hugos, using the WorldCon as its agent, has many advantages for trademark law and also if WSFS wants to exercise authority over the Hugos and the people administering them. This should be made more clear.

Recommendations

  • When all is done, there should at least be the appearance that they did not get away with it, to deter future corruption and censorship.
  • The best solution is not a specific one, but a general one that allows the organization to respond quickly to problems and threats, without removing its intentional slow pace of change, and resistance to control by “SMOFs.”
  • Auditing and more transparency are a good start, with an ethos of whistleblowing.
  • Put term limits on all WSFS officials.
  • Clarify and codify the structure of WSFS and the contracts.
  • Pick one way or another to allow WSFS to respond immediately to threats. I like the idea of actions that can be reversed, but some path should be chosen.
  • Do find some way to stop Hugo administration from being under the influence of censorship states, including China.

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

La Zi speaks again

Filers will recall that on January 24th, Mike ran an article by me that included an item about a bizarre Weibo post from Worldcon Vice-Chair and SFW editor La Zi.  I did notice that that Weibo post disappeared not long after it was featured here, but I’d not checked on his account since then, thinking that he might understandably be taking a step back from social media, especially given all the ongoing Hugo stats report controversy.

Reader, I was sorely mistaken.

Amongst some fairly mundane reposts, a couple of his recent posts stood out to me.  The most pertinent to File 770 is this short one from Wednesday January 31st, which is straightforward enough that I could just about understand it all, even with my meagre Chinese language skills.  That text reads:

中国科幻迷应该永远记得本·亚洛这个名字。他是真正的好人,也是真正的国际主义者。

which Google Translate renders as follows (surname error corrected):

Chinese science fiction fans should always remember the name Ben Yalow. He is a truly good man and a true internationalist. 

Here’s a screenshot of the Weibo post – including a similar translation from Alibaba Cloud – just in case it also disappears.

Note to readers: the censuring of Ben Yalow (and Chen Shi, and Dave McCarty) occurred on the previous day, the 30th – although obviously time zone differences make things a bit more complicated with regard to recording what happened when.

The second post that I would like to bring to your attention is a couple of days older, published on Monday the 29th.  The Chinese text reads:

应该要求美国尊重得克萨斯(孤星)共和国人民的民主诉求,承认其独立共和国身份。可以考虑签订《与得克萨斯(孤星)共和国关系法》,并提供防卫目的的武器贸易和军事援助,目的是保护得克萨斯不会因为强大北方邻国的觊觎而被掠夺珍贵的油气资源,任何企图以非和平方式来决定得克萨斯共和国前途之举——包括使用经济抵制及禁运手段在内,将被视为对东太平洋地区和平及安定的威胁,联合国应该介入。

Google Translate renders this as follows (text left unaltered):

The United States should be required to respect the democratic aspirations of the people of the Republic of Texas (Lone Star) and recognize its identity as an independent republic. Consider signing the “Relationships with the Republic of Texas (Lone Star) Act” and provide arms trade and military assistance for defense purposes. The purpose is to protect Texas from being plundered of precious oil and gas resources due to the covetousness of its powerful northern neighbors. Any attempt to use Non-peaceful measures to determine the future of the Republic of Texas, including the use of economic boycotts and embargoes, will be considered a threat to peace and stability in the Eastern Pacific region, and the United Nations should intervene.

Here’s another screenshot for posterity.

Whilst many may presume that this second post indirectly refers to some other place, please note that on January 30th, Newsweek reported that Chinese social media was full of stories about the US being in a state of civil war.  A couple of extracts:

As the battle of wills over immigration continues between the White House and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a parallel debate is happening in China, where trending social media posts are backing the Lone Star State’s right to secede from the United States.

On China’s X-like microblogging site Weibo, accounts with more than a million followers were spreading misinformation this week claiming Texas had entered a “state of war” with the federal government. In the comment sections, Chinese netizens met the news with excitement and glee…

“If the U.S. really pushes Texas back, then it will be great fun,” the user said. “I hope both sides will not be cowardly and that they will fight to the end!”

In a follow-up post on Tuesday, the user said he was inspired to “definitely contribute money and effort” to support the cause against America’s “imperialist oppression” in Texas and elsewhere in the world.

There’s further discussion of this on Reddit’s /r/China, which is where I’d previously heard about this meme.

Note to readers: per Fancyclopedia:

Ben [Yalow] shocked most of fandom when he moved to Texas in 2021.

(5) GLOBETROTTER. Australian fan Robin Johnson has been writing posts for The Little Aviation Museum “Reading Room”. Here’s an example published in 2022: “1997 – A Year of Sightseeing and Science Fiction”.

I have been reminded by a Facebook post by astronomical artist Don Davis of the Hale-Bopp comet of 1997, a year that was a red-letter one for me. As a pensioner of BOAC (now British Airways) I was able to fly on a stand-by basis on their flights (and some other airlines). Flights from Australia to England were operating with one stop using the latest Boeing 747-400s.

I visited my father in England in January for his birthday, and on the way home to Tasmania attended two regional science fiction conventions in the U.S.A. and one in Perth – Arisia in Boston, Chattacon in Chattanooga, and Swancon in Perth.

In late March I set off to England again, attending a Con in Wellington, New Zealand en route, visited friends in the Los Angeles area, and took advantage of the fact that BOAC had recently taken over British Caledonian Airways to fly to London from Dallas-Ft Worth by DC-10.

Comet Hale-Bopp had not yet been easily visible in the Southern hemisphere when I left home, but was spectacular in the Northern Hemisphere. Sitting aboard the flight next to a flight crew member, we talked about the comet – and soon I was invited onto the flight deck. The DC-10 has spectacularly large windows, and standing behind the Captain as we overflew Greenland, on a moonless night: the view was unique. The comet had just passed its closest point to Earth, and the tail was prominently on view to the naked eye, and there could not have been a better viewpoint….

(6) CHRISTOPHER PRIEST OBITUARIES.

John Clute’s “Christopher Priest obituary” ran in the Guardian today.

The novelist Christopher Priest, who has died aged 80 after suffering from cancer, became eminent more than once over the nearly 60 years of his active working life. But while he relished success, he displayed a wry reserve about the ambiguities attending these moments in the limelight.

In 1983 he was included in the Granta Best of Young British Novelists, a 20-strong cohort, most of them – such as Martin Amis, William Boyd, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie, Graham Swift and AN Wilson – significantly younger than Priest, whose career had begun almost two decades earlier, and who had at least 15 books and 50 stories in print by the early 80s. He clearly felt that it was not so much the quality of his work that delayed his “promotion” to the literary establishment, but his reluctance to deny, when asked, that he wrote science fiction.

His large body of work never fitted easily into any mould. Only in recent years has it become widely understood that the sometimes baffling ingenuity and thrust of his fiction has been of a piece, no more detachable into convenient genres than, say, Amis’s or Ishiguro’s tales of the fantastic….

Paul Kincaid’s reminiscences about “Chris” appear at Through the dark labyrinth.

The 1976 Eastercon was held in the rather grim surroundings of Owen’s Park student accommodation, Manchester. It was my third convention and I still wasn’t used to the fact that mere mortals could mix freely with actual authors. So I was very nervous approaching a small group in the bar. My target was a tall, thin guy wearing blue denim jacket and jeans and smoking with a long cigarette holder (later in the convention, Lee Montgomerie would win the fancy dress for the best costume as an author; she was wearing almost exactly the same outfit). This was Christopher Priest and I had just bought the paperback of his latest novel, The Space Machine. I asked for an autograph. He pointed to someone at the other side of the bar. “See that guy? Andrew Stephenson. He did the illustrations. Why don’t you get him to sign it?” To this day, that paperback is one of the few Chris Priest novels I own that isn’t signed by the author.

Later that day I was standing at the back of a programme item. Chris was on the panel, smoking with that long holder, and I began to notice the wild figure of 8 shape that the glowing end of the cigarette was making, and I realised his hand was shaking. He was more nervous than I had been.

Years go by. A BSFA meeting in London at a pub near Hatton Garden. I’m propping up the bar with Chris. I mention that I’ve just reviewed his latest novel, The Glamour, and I thought it was really good except that the ending didn’t quite work. Two days later I receive a thick envelope in the post. It was the typescript for a revised ending of The Glamour, the first of countless revisions of the novel that was so good but so impossible to end….

black and white photo of Christopher Priest taken in 1983 by Gamma
Christoper Priest outside Forbidden Planet in London in 1983. Photo by Gamma.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

1940 The Adventures of Superman on radio

Black and white photo of Superman radio show cast members Jackson Beck (announcer), Joan Alexander (Lois Lane) and Bud Collyer (Superman)
Superman radio show cast members Jackson Beck (announcer), Joan Alexander (Lois Lane) and Bud Collyer (Superman)

The Adventures of Superman is a long-running radio serial. Initially, the show, which aired  from 1940 through to 1951, was  syndicated through the Mutual Broadcasting System’s cornerstone station, WOR in New York, subsequently taken up by the Mutual network, and finally by ABC. In the beginning there were three episodes a week of 15 minutes in length. When in 1941 they began making five episodes a week, some stations stayed with the three-a-week format. Late in the show’s run episodes ran 30 minutes.

The year after the comic strip debuted four audition radio programs were prepared to sell Superman as a syndicated radio series. It took very little time to have WOR sign the contract to do this, so it went on the air less two years after the comic strip launched.

The original pitch was that the audience was going to be predominantly juvenile so the scripts had to be lighthearted with the violence toned down. The performers were chosen with that mind, so they cast Bud Collyer in the Clark Kent / Superman role and Joan Alexander as Lois Lane. She also voiced that role in animated Fleischer Superman shorts. 

The continuity of the series is significantly different than the series as Krypton is located on the far side of the sun, and on the journey to Earth,  Kal-el becomes an adult before his ship lands on Earth., so he is never adopted by the Kents but immediately begins his superhero / reporter career. 

This serial is responsible for the introduction of kryptonite to the Superman universe. Daily Planet editor Perry White and Jimmy Olsen who was a copy editor originated in the serial as well. 

As a gimmick that paralleled the Superman comic and which the audience adored, they kept the identity of Collyer as the character a secret for the first six years, until when Superman became the character in a radio campaign for racial and religious tolerance and Collyer did a Time magazine interview about that campaign.

Kellog Company was the sponsor at least initially with the product being its Pep cereal. It was sponsored Tom Corbet, Space Cadet.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side captures a photo op with visitors who aren’t from around here.
  • Pearls Before Swine finds an unexpected angle to library censorship.
  • Six Chix meanwhile shows the challenges of a bookstore customer.  

(9) EUROSTAR. The Guardian looks ahead to issues with cross-Channel train travel. “Eurostar may cap services due to post-Brexit biometric passport checks, says station owner”.

Eurostar could be forced to limit passenger numbers travelling from St Pancras each day under post-Brexit plans to bring in biometric border controls later this year, the owner of the station has warned.

HS1, the owner and operator of the line and stations between London and the Channel tunnel, has raised concerns that planning for new Entry/Exit System (EES) checks at the London rail station are “severely inadequate”, and would lead to long delays and potential capping of services and passenger numbers.

The EES requires citizens from outside the EU or Schengen area to register before entering the zone.

This will replace the stamping of passports for UK travellers, and instead require passengers to enter personal information and details about their trip, as well as submitting fingerprint and facial biometric data.

It has been mooted that the new checks will come into force in October but the implementation has been delayed several times in recent years because the infrastructure was not ready.

HS1 has now raised several concerns to MPs around St Pancras’s ability to accommodate the changes, predicting “unacceptable passenger delays”.

It said only 24 EES kiosks had been allocated by the French government, despite modelling suggesting that nearly 50 would be needed at peak times….

(10) WOULD YOU CARE FOR A BEVERAGE? Comics on Coffee has enlisted this couple to share their “Mad Love for Raspberry Coffee”.

DC & Comics On Coffee have joined forces to make your mornings more action packed with great tasting coffee! It’s time to get crazy in love with this Valentine’s Day Special Edition Coffee. A smooth, raspberry flavored coffee.  

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. George R.R. Martin shares as much as he can about the films they’re making based on the late Howard Waldrop’s stories in “Come to the Pulls” at Not A Blog.

…COOTERS was just the beginning, though.  Only the first of a series of short films — and one full-length feature, we hope — we have been making, based on some of Howard’s astonishing, and unique, stories.   He wrote so many, it was hard to know where to start, but start we did, and I am pleased to say that we have three more Waldrop movies filmed and in the can, in various stages of post production.   Some of you — the lucky ones — will get a chance to see them this year, at a film festival near you.  As with COOTERS, we’re taking them out on the festival circuit.

First one out of the chute will be MARY-MARGARET ROAD GRADER.   We were able to screen a rough cut for Howard just a few days before his death.  I am so so so glad we did.   And I am thrilled to be able to report that he loved it.

We can’t show it to the world yet.   But here’s a trailer, to give you all a taste.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/24/24 A Fist Full Of Typos

(1) HELP NEEDED. Writer Richard Kadrey, whose work includes the Sandman Slim novels, is asking for financial help in a GoFundMe for “Medical bills, rent, and a big, hungry cat”.

This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but my back is against the wall. Because of physical and mental health issues over the last year, plus disappearing gigs and jobs that never came through, I have to suck up my pride and ask for help.

I’ve been living off savings and credit cards for a year. I had one good, steady gig but got blindsided when it ended abruptly. Now that money is gone, my cards are pretty much played out, and the IRS is giving me the side eye. And there are still health issues and bills I need to deal with. Basically, I could use some help to feed my cat and keep my stupid life intact.

If you could spare a couple of bucks, you’d a life saver. And if one of the good gigs I’m hoping for comes through later this year, I promise to pay your kindness forward to another artist down on their luck.

So, here I am with my dumb hat in my dumb hand, humbled as hell. This is the last thing in the world I ever wanted to do. But I don’t have a choice. Even if you can’t help, thanks for reading this. I appreciate it and so does Aces, my hungry cat who will eat me if I don’t keep up with the kibble.

(2) MORE QUOTES ABOUT HUGO CONTROVERSY FROM CHINA SOCIAL MEDIA. On Bluesky, Angie Wang has some screencaps and computer translations to go with this introduction:

RE the Hugo Awards, if you go on Weibo and do a public search right now, you’ll see some Chinese fans cussing the hell out of the Chengdu organizers specifically, and some cryptic remarks from someone who seems related to the event and the organizers about trying to prevent all this from happening

(3) PAIJIBA. Pajiba’s Nate Parker brings schadenfreude to bear on the topic in “The Hugo Awards Step In It Again”.

… If you look through McCarty’s thread – and you should, because it’s fun to watch him get wrecked in real time – you’ll see Gaiman’s about the only one who gets a polite answer. “After reviewing the Constitution and the rules we must follow, the administration team determined those works/persons were not eligible.”

He repeats the same answer ad nauseum despite multiple polite requests for clarity. It’s a vague answer for an organization that prides itself on inclusivity and transparency…. 

(4) POLYGON. Chris Barkley is quoted in Polygon’s coverage, which otherwise contains nothing new to readers here: “Hugo Awards controversy sparks censorship allegations”.

… The Hugos are among the most prestigious awards in science fiction and fantasy, and it’s incredibly disheartening to see what should be a celebration of all the great work happening in that space be tainted by controversy. With the committee still refusing to give answers and with no central governing body to step in, it seems unlikely we’ll ever know the details of what occurred — or see anyone held accountable if anything unconstitutional did.

What is clear is that the community is determined never to see a repeat of what occurred this year. As Barkley wrote, “this incident, whether it was at the behest of the government of the People’s Republic [of] China or some other entity, will NEVER be forgotten and that doing something about preventing such a thing from happening again will be at the top of the agenda at the Glasgow Worldcon Business Meeting in August…”

(5) WHERE IN THE WORLD. At Winter Is Coming, Daniel Roman’s article “Controversy strikes the 2023 Hugo Awards, causing uproar over censorship speculation” ends with this conclusion.

…I happened to be at DisCon III when Chengdu won the bid for this year’s Hugo ceremony, and one of the prominent arguments in its favor that I heard floated around was that Worldcon should be a world convention, not just one that floats back and forth across the U.S. and a handful of other western countries. Bringing it to countries in, for example, East Asia and Africa would be a great way to include fans in parts of the world who have not typically been able to attend, and to recognize the writers doing amazing work in those regions.

However, if each Worldcon must logically abide by the local and regional laws of the country where it’s being held, and those laws mean that the Hugo Awards cannot be conducted legitimately and fairly because of things like censorship — or even worse, that certain groups of people might have their safety put in jeopardy — then that must be considered as well. We have a situation right now where it’s being speculated that there was government censorship on the 2023 Hugos, and regardless of whether there was or not, it seems clear that the people behind the event do not feel that everyone involved is safe enough to explain the situation in full. In that sort of circumstance, it’s hard to imagine any scenario where the awards can actually take place in a legitimate manner.

(6) OKAY, HERE IT IS. You want the truth? You think you deserve the truth? Sarah A. Hoyt will give it to you: “This Thing Isn’t Entirely Under My Control” at Mad Genius Club.

…Among the many strange things I get asked — and other writers get asked — is how we do what we do. I.e. how we create the stories, and stay on track and write them and all. 

Now, normally when I’m asked this I’m at a panel, where I’m under writ to tell a lot of lies, provided I make them entertaining. Also, on principle, I’m supposed to sound like a professional who know what she’s doing. Of course, acting like a pro should be easy after 30 years or so of being published (okay, 25 years just about in novels. But yeah, about 30 from first semi-pro short story.) And if you believe that, I have some primo Florida swamp I’d like to sell you at a really good price.

I often wonder, though, if my fellow writers lie like moth eaten rugs at this panels. Because they make the whole thing sound so rational, so controlled. “Well, I wanted to write a book about the manufacture of bells in the planet Korud, so, I thought, how do I wrap an adventure around that?” And we all smile and nod sagely as someone explains how he researched the manufacture of bells for five months, then went to a Buddhist monastery and sat contemplating the metalness of bells, before the idea of having pirates come to the planet and remove the bells, and then our hero….”

I know I lie. I lie a lot about the writing process, when I want to sound like I did things for a reason. Well, and when I worked for Trad Pub. Because you don’t want your editor and publisher to think you’re a complete loon. But more and more I just tell the truth.

And the truth is “this thing isn’t fully under my control.”…

(7) BIG CUTS AT LA TIMES. From Politico: “LA Times slashes newsroom as paper struggles under billionaire owner”.

The Los Angeles Times on Tuesday laid off at least 115 people, including about a quarter of its newsroom, in a stunning second round of major layoffs in less than a year that underscored broader challenges facing the news business.

Cuts included reporters, editors and columnists, according to the union that represents the newsroom and social media posts from individual journalists. Layoffs fell disproportionately on Black, Latino and Asian employees who tend to have less seniority, the Guild said in a statement….

(8) CHASING MOBY CHATGPT. In a recent email to members from the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society the ALCS’ Deputy Chief Executive Richard Combes expects the coming year to provide more clarity around AI, authorship and copyright.

My piece last year opened and closed with a few sentences generated by ChatGPT. At the time, this seemed like a novel way of demonstrating the capability of the technology; then I found the acres of other articles doing the exact same thing. But as Herman Melville observed, “it is better to fail in originality than succeed in imitation.”

During the intervening year, the think pieces have piled up, commenting on various policy initiatives, lawsuits and existential crises, while AI-generated content has sprouted online like fungi on the forest floor (including, notoriously, several foraging guides offering unreliable advice about edible mushrooms).

As judicial decisions and statutory rules emerge and evolve over the coming year, we should begin to find answers to key questions about copyright, authorship and creativity in the age of AI. Conceptually, we’ve been here before, repeatedly. The first quarter of this century has seen successive technologies redefine the way that creators’ works are consumed and distributed without due consideration for how they will be credited and paid, and the latest wave is no different.

The false dilemma that’s often presented between an innovative tech sector and a robust framework for copyright and creators’ rights is as artificial as it is banal. It is possible and, if we want to maintain the value and stature of our creative industries, essential to develop models whereby the tech sector is an ally to those creating the works upon which their products and services rely. So, how do we get there from here?

…For almost 20 years, the ALCS authors’ earnings surveys have described a fixed direction of travel, a stubbornly downward trend. This threatens not only the viability of existing careers but also creates barriers to entry for new and diverse voices. So, our work this year is about plotting a new course, on what promises to be an interesting, challenging but vitally important journey; which leads me to close as I opened, with Melville, “it is not down in any map; true places never are”.

(9) LOVIN’ SPOONFUL. Charlie Jane Anders argues on behalf of “10 Space TV Shows That Don’t Get Enough Love” at Happy Dancing.

The first two on the list are:

1) Space Cases.

Peter David and Bill Mumy created this YA TV show about kids exploring space, including a young Jewel Staite. It aired for two seasons on Nickelodeon, and it was cute as hell, not to mention quite subversive at times. George Takei plays an alien conqueror named Warlord Shank, and when I say Takei chews all the scenery… You’ll see tooth marks all over the sets. This show was sort of a precursor of Star Trek: Prodigy, and I remember it being fun as all heck.

2) Quark.

Quark was a short-lived spoof of Star Trek and Star Wars that aired in 1977, featuring a host of campy characters. The thing is, it had so many cool ideas in the mix. Long before Firefly (or even Alien), this is the story of the crew of a humble blue-collar starship — a garbage scow, in this case – getting involved in vital, dangerous shenanigans. There’s a gender-fluid character, a pair of clones who both insist they’re the original (just like the Maulers in Invincible!) and a plant in humanoid form. In many ways, Quark was ahead of its time.

(10) AFTER ACTION REPORT. [Item by Steven French.] The recently wrapped-up “Fantasy: Realms of Imagination” exhibition included several science-fiction related items, including this copy of the March 1956 issue of Ploy, a fanzine edited by Ron Bennett, a member of the Leeds Science Fiction Association which, as the exhibit’s label notes, was the successor to the group formed after the famous 1937 convention (not just the first in the U.K. but the first in the world!). For some reason the Library chose to display these letters from fellow fans, one of which including a description of a talk given to the Sheffield Junior (and Parents) Astronomical Society which contains language ‘of its time’ that would definitely be deemed inappropriate nowadays.

Elsewhere in the issue (available here at the FANAC site) there are brief contributions from mega fans/editors/authors Shirley (Lee) Hoffmann and Terry Carr. 

(11) FRANK STROM DIES. Comics fan and writer Frank Strom recently died, mourned by his friend Tom Brevoort in “Mortality” at Man With A Hat.

Frank had aspirations of breaking into the field professionally, and he operated on the fringes of it for many years, but was never quite able to find that break that would make it a full time vocation. He wrote a ton of issues of the licensed ELVIRA comic book, he had a short-lived series in Fantagraphics’ X-Rated Eros line in the 1990s, CHEETA POP, SCREAM QUEEN, and he wrote one story for Marvel. That one I commissioned from him especially; it starred the 1940s/1950s character Venus who was a fascination of both of ours, and guest-starred both a number of the girl comics stars of the 1950s but also a small bevy of Marvel’s pre-hero monsters. I was able to convince Dan DeCarloFrank’s favorite, to draw it. Eventually, though, he settled into a routine day job…. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 24, 1944 David Gerrold, 80. How could I not start by acknowledging he wrote one of the best scripts ever in the Trek series, “The Trouble with Tribbles”? Seriously it’s a perfect script from the very beginning to those Scottie saying “Aye, sir. Before they went into warp, I transported the whole kit ‘n’ caboodle into their engine room, where they’ll be no tribble at all.”  It garnered a Hugo nomination at Baycon. 

David Gerrold. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

Not that he stopped there of course. He was responsible for an uncredited rewrite on “I, Mudd”, and he scripted along with Oliver Crawford the rather excellent “The Cloud Minders” in season three. 

The animated series which I still truly adore and which of course is on Paramount + saw him  following up his “The Trouble with Tribbles” script with one for “More Tribbles, More Troubles”. His other animated script was “Bem” in which he reveals James T. Kirk’s middle name to be Tiberius. I had thought it’d been done in the series but that’s just my memory. It’ll next be used in The Undiscovered Country

David Gerrold and Diane Duane at the 1975 Westercon. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

He left Star Trek: The Next Generation and the Trek verse as Memory Alpha explains here: “He left the show near the end of the first season, partly because of the dispute over his controversial script, ‘Blood and Fire’. The story, which was basically an allegory of AIDS, and involved allegedly homosexual characters, was initially scrapped by the producers. It was re-written by Herb Wright as ‘Blood and Ice’, removing the gay characters, but it still remained unproduced.” Well and other reasons that he into in great detail as well. 

Not at all surprisingly, he got involved in those video fan fictions, as a series consultant for fan-produced series Star Trek: New Voyages, and Star Trek: Phase II for which he was named show runner. He fell out later with other members of the latter series over creative differences and left. 

Let’s see… let’s not overlook that JMS actually did produce his “Believers” script on Babylon 5, a story involving our good doctor, aliens and a very unfortunate outcome. 

Books? Oh yes. When HARLIE Was One is an extraordinary novel. Though I’ve sampled his other novels, it’s his most original, most interesting and certainly most intriguing work. Interestingly, at least to me, I discovered doing this essay that When HARLIE Was One is not a one-off but is rather just one novel in a rather extensive series entitled simply Harlie. Intriguingly the first one is titled Oracle for a White Rabbit. Was that Rabbit there? 

The War Against the Chtorr series of books, about an invasion of Earth by deliberately not sketched out aliens was, errr, ok. I read A Matter for Men and A Day for Damnation but stopped there. There were two more published then a comedy or tragedy of reasons for why the series wasn’t completed have followed in the decades since. 

Other novels? Well there’s this novelette called “The Martian Child” won a Hugo at Intersection which became a film. There’s the most readable The Man Who Folded Himself that nominated for a Hugo at Discon II. It’s wonderful and certainly deserved that Hugo.

Now my favorite work by him is the first novel that he did, The Flying Sorcerers which started out in If as “The Misspelled Magician” which I like better as a title. It was co-written with Larry Niven. 

There’s too much other fiction, both long form and short form which I’ve not encountered to deal with here. I know all of you well enough that you’ll note anything that you think I should mentioned. 

(13) WEIGHING MJOLNIR. After viewing Neil deGrasse Tyson’s analysis of “How Much Thor’s Hammer Weighs”, Daniel Dern notes (anticipating much of Tom Galloway’s initial comment-worthy thoughts) (playlist: “She’s So Heavy,” The Beatles) —

Overspecialized nerds missing the point: Neil deGrasse Tyson forgets (or never read the relevant Marvel comics, nor watched the right Marvel movies). Unlike Superman’s super-heavy regular-sized front door key to his Fortress of Solitude (see Grant Morrison & Frank Quiteley’s All-Star Superman) (as opposed to the original classic humongous key pretending to be a road sign for plane flight paths), Mjolnir’s liftability was a function of the lifter’s worthiness.

(14) MICKEY AND FRIENDS PLAY AVENGERS AND X-MEN IN NEW DISNEY WHAT IF? COVERS. This time marking the 60th anniversary of two of Marvel’s most iconic super hero teams—the Avengers and the X-Men — new Disney What If? variant covers kicked off earlier this month with Amazing Spider-Man #41 and will continue to adorn select issues of Amazing Spider-Man throughout 2024. 

(15) DISNEY IMAGINEER JOINS INVENTORS HALL OF FAME. “Lanny Smoot Becomes The Second Person From Disney, Since Walt Disney Himself, To Get Inducted Into The National Inventors Hall Of Fame” reports Yahoo!

… The Disney Parks Blog reports that The National Inventors Hall of Fame announced its Class of 2024 inductees during a ceremony at the Walt Disney Imagineering campus in Glendale, CA.

Smoot is making history as the first Disney Imagineer to receive this honor. He’s also only the second Walt Disney Company employee since Walt Disney to earn the recognition.

During Smoot’s 45-year career, he has been a theatrical technology creator, inventor, electrical engineer, scientist, and researcher. The innovator has amassed a collection of over 100 patents, 74 of them created during his 25-year stint at the Walt Disney Company….

… Smoot has been integral in creating some of the most technically advanced special effects at Disney theme parks and experiences. Some examples of these special effects include Madame Leota’s floating in the Séance Room at Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, Disney Live Entertainment’s extendable lightsaber, the Magic Playfloor interactive game experience on the Disney Cruise Line, and the Fortress Explorations adventure at Tokyo DisneySea….

(16) EVERYBODY KNOWS LOTR. [Item by Daniel Dern.] “The Trick to the Fluffiest Muffins May Already Be in Your Kitchen” says the New York Times.

As winter set in this January, Sarah Kieffer recalled how it snowed for eight months last year in her hometown, Minneapolis. For weeks on end, the temperature dipped below minus 20. Surrounded by grayness, she baked blueberry muffins for the cheer of their bright pops of blue.

“It’s like when the hobbits got to Mordor, and Sam looks up and sees a bright shining star, and has a little bit of hope,” she said. “That’s what a blueberry muffin feels like in February.”

Ms. Kieffer, the author of “100 Morning Treats” (and a self-described “super nerd”)…

Daniel Dern comments: Implicit in the text is the assumption (by the writer and NYT section editor) that the reader is at least familiar to recognize the source (Lord of the Rings) without the invocation of Frodo, Gandalf, Bilbo or Gollum — and simply saying “Sam” rather than “Samwise” or “Sam (Frodo’s more-than-a-sidekick)” although “hobbits” and Mordor” do help provide key context, of course.

At least Ms. Keiffer didn’t close with an ending like “I’ll bet even Gollum might exclaim ‘Better than Precious!’”

(17) MEET JOE GREEN. The FANAC FanHistory Zoom Joseph L. Green Interview is now available to watch on YouTube.

Title: Joseph L. Green – An Interview conducted by Edie Stern

YouTube Description: Joe Green’s interest in science fiction began in the 1940s, before he knew there was even a name for this kind of literature. His introduction to science fiction fandom came in the early 1950s, and  first published fiction in the 1960s. Add to that his long career in the military and civilian space programs, and you have a trajectory that is the envy of a many a science fiction reader.

In this fascinating interview, Joe Green talks about his life and career, and his views on science fiction and fandom after more than 70 years in the SF community.  With a professional career spanning more than 60 years, (his last published work was in 2023),  in this discussion Joe starts with his introduction to fandom, and his early fanzine contributions, his first professional sales and the struggle to balance fandom, professional writing and a growing family.  

With a decades long career revolving around space, he tells anecdotes ranging from the Cuban missile crisis of the 60s to one of his most important accomplishments – editor and principal writer of the NASA report on the Challenger disaster. Here  he talks about that difficult but necessary work….Starting in the days of the manned Apollo launches, the Greens hosted spectacular and now legendary launch parties. Joe couldn’t help but share his joy at one of the finest achievements of mankind. In this session, there are great anecdotes about well-known writers and fans, including Poul Anderson, Sam Moskowitz, Arthur C. Clarke and A.E. Van Vogt, and Joe’s unorthodox  advice about getting entrée to NASA launches. It’s a delight to hear, and makes you wish you had been there.

One story we didn’t get to was what happened when Joe Green heard filk music for the first time. Joe was delighted, especially with the space-oriented pieces, and not too long after he heard the “Minus Ten and Counting” recording,  one of those songs was played as the wake-up music for the astronauts in space.

Many thanks to Joe’s daughter, Rose-Marie Lillian for her technical support, enabling Joe to participate in the Zoom. 

(18) TURNING TWENTY ON MARS. From an National Air and Space Museum email:

20 years ago this month, Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity landed on the Martian surface, on opposite sides of the Red Planet. Soon after, the twin rovers, boasting a level of mobility that far surpassed the 1997 Mars Pathfinder rover Sojourner, embarked on their respective journeys. Spirit was sent to the floor of a 90-mile-wide crater named Gusev and Opportunity was sent to Meridiani Planum, a smooth area near the Martian equator.

Spirit and Opportunity

With identical sets of science instruments onboard, Spirit and Opportunity conducted comprehensive geological surveys and atmospheric analyses. Both rovers were able to find compelling evidence of the Red Planet’s ancient environments, revealing a past where conditions were intermittently wet and potentially capable of supporting life.

Panoramic view (consisting of hundreds of images stitched together) of the Martian surface. The images were captured by Spirit with the rover’s deck visible.

Both rovers exceeded their initial 90-day mission durations by a significant margin. Spirit traveled five miles on the Martian surface and sent its last message to Earth on March 22, 2010, after operating for over six years. Opportunity covered a total of 28 miles and holds the record as the longest-serving rover on Mars, having conducted over 14 years of exploration before it sent its last signal on June 10, 2018. Together the duo sent over 340,000 images back to Earth.

Mars Exploration Rover Surface System Test Bed (middle) was used on Earth to troubleshoot problems that Spirit and Opportunity encountered on Mars. It is on display next to Sojourner’s flight spare Marie Curie and a Curiosity model in the “Kenneth C. Griffin Exploring the Planets Gallery” at the Museum in DC.

The twin rovers’ landings on Mars also marks 20 years of continuous rover exploration of the Red Planet, with rovers Curiosity and Perseverance currently active on Mars and continuing on the legacy of Spirit and Opportunity.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. I haven’t viewed it because my hearing is awful and there’s no closed captioning, but no reason you should deprive yourself: “The Litigation Disaster Tourism Hour: World Contastrophe, Trademark Edition” on Twitch.TV.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, Danny Sichel, Francis Hamit, Trey Palmer, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 10/14/23 The Bear That Shouted “Honey!” At The Heart Of The 100-Acre Woods

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

Setup for Worldcon

Here’s a photo gallery showing some of the décor created for the Worldcon inside the Chengdu Science Fiction Museum. More at the link: http://xhslink.com/0yicuv

(2) MORE BAD NEWS FROM INTERZONE. Interzone publisher and editor Gareth Jelley has elaborated on the magazine’s switch to a solely electronic format, which was announced to subscribers the other day.

…It has been a hard call to make, but due to a very significant drop in subscriber numbers over the last three years, and the volatility of the paper market, I have decided that Interzone will be switching to electronic publication — from Interzone #296 onwards, issues of the magazine will be released as ebooks and no print edition will be produced.

When I took Interzone over from Andy Cox, I was determined to get Interzone back onto a bimonthly schedule and I also wanted to keep Interzone going as a print publication. I believed this was possible, and I did everything I could, day in, day out, to keep the print incarnation of IZ alive. Many IZ readers and fans also went above and beyond when I asked for help getting #295 into print.

The reality now is that Interzone subscriber numbers have fallen too far, too quickly, and are not where they need to be to keep Interzone in print and simultaneously back onto a regular, bimonthly publication schedule; and for a zine like IZ, once it is a choice between print and frequency, it is a no-brainer. Anything else is unfair to contributors and frustrating for readers.

Interzone is still not completely out of the woods, financially. I have drained my resources getting Interzone #295 published and it will take a little time to get Interzone #296, in its new electronic form, ready for publication. I am hoping it will not be too long, maybe even before the end of the year. and I will let you know as soon as I can….

(3) NEW YORK REVIEW OF SCIENCE FICTION READINGS. Jane Fancher and C.J. Cherryh make their NYRSF Readings debut on Wednesday, October 18 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Defiance, their latest novel in the Foreigner series, is being released that week

NYRSF can be watched LIVE at https://.facebook.com/groups/NYRSF.Readings or at https://youtube.com/streams.

The host will be Nebula finalist Barbara Krasnoff.

(4) OFFICIAL BLOCH WEBSITE. [Item by Rich Lynch.] The Robert Bloch Official Website now features “Bloch’s Acceptance Speech”” from the 1975 First World Fantasy Convention.

…About two months ago in London at Coyle’s Bookshop, they gave one of their monthly luncheons. This one was in honor of a gentleman I don’t think you are aware of—a music hall performer named Arthur Askey. It was the occasion of his seventy-fifth birthday and the publication of his book. Arthur said something which I find strangely apropos at this moment. He looked around the table and said, “This luncheon is not a work of fiction, because everybody at this table is either living or dead.” I have much the same feeling.

This is of course formerly the Arkham Hilton, and probably Mr. Lovecraft did spend a night or two here. I know that last night the sounds I heard could have been the inspiration for “The Rats in the Walls.” I knew I was in the right place when I came here. I walked into the bar and I heard somebody ordering a gin and Miskatonic…

(5) LOVE OF TREK. [Item by Nancy Sauer.] NPR has a brief essay (and love letter) by someone who was deeply influenced by Star Trek.  Heartfelt and interesting. “How Star Trek helped me find my own way”.

… I honestly don’t remember a time when I didn’t love Star Trek. I do remember when I started to realize that this show, and my father who introduced me to it, built the foundation for my sense of social justice as an astrophysicist of color. The show helped me, and my father, find a place within our culture….

… What I really related to — the show that I anticipated each week and bawled when it ended — was Star Trek: The Next Generation. This was a sequel to the original series that aired in the ’60s, a show that Martin Luther King Jr. loved!

The Next Generation had the young LeVar Burton as the chief engineer Geordi La Forge. He was famous as the lead in the TV cultural phenomena Roots and would later make everyone smile with Reading Rainbow. This new version of Star Trek also had the Shakespearean-trained actor Patrick Stewart playing Captain Jean-Luc Picard, which was the antithesis of the original Captain James T. Kirk. This new crew was more interested in science and tackled issues related to race more head-on! The technical jargon I heard coming from Geordi and others on the ship fueled my love for science….

(6) GO EAST YOUNG MAN. David Gerrold and his son’s family have moved to Vermont. Details on Facebook.

(7) LITERARY HISTORY SITE NEEDS TO BE SAVED. “Reader, they lived there: campaign to save Brontës’ Bradford birthplace as it goes on sale” in the Guardian.

Around a million visitors a year beat a path to Haworth, the small West Yorkshire town nestling in the windy moors of the Worth Valley – mainly to see the home of the Brontë sisters.

The house that writers Charlotte, Anne and Emily shared with their father, church minister Patrick, and their wayward brother Branwell is a major tourist attraction. Visitors wander around the parsonage and surrounding cobbled streets to soak up the atmosphere of just how the Brontës lived two centuries ago.

But there is a site that is equally important to the story of perhaps Britain’s greatest literary family, around six miles or so away in the village of Thornton, on the western edge of the Bradford district: the birthplace of the three sisters.

The premises that takes up 72-74 Market Street has had various uses, from an apartment block to a cafe, but a campaign has been launched to turn it into an attraction that would complement Haworth’s enduring appeal.

It is estimated it will cost about £600,000 to buy the property, which is in a state of disrepair and neglect, and sympathetically renovate the Grade II* listed building into a tourist attraction comprising a cultural and educational centre, a cafe and holiday accommodation….

(8) PIPER LAURIE (1932-2023). Actress Piper Laurie, a three-time Oscar and nine-time Emmy nominee died October 14 at the age of 91. This excerpt from Variety’s obituary covers some of her major genre performances.

…Though she informally retired to raise a family for more than a decade, she returned to film and television in the mid-’70s and racked up an impressive roster of characterizations, including Oscar-nominated turns in “Carrie” and in “Children of a Lesser God,” in which she played Marlee Matlin’s icy mother. Laurie was truly chilling in “Carrie,” as the mother of the shy telekinetic girl of the title who has, in the words of Roger Ebert, “translated her own psychotic fear of sexuality into a twisted personal religion.”

Her performance as the plotting, power-hungry Catherine Martell in David Lynch’s landmark TV series “Twin Peaks” brought her two of her nine Emmy nominations. The actress won her only Emmy for her role in the powerful 1986 “Hallmark Hall of Fame” entry “Promises,” in which James Wood starred as a schizophrenic and James Garner as his brother, with Laurie’s character offering help to the pair.

She scored her last Emmy nomination in 1999 for a guest role on sitcom “Frasier” in which she played the mother of a radio psychologist played by Christine Baranski and clearly modeled after Dr. Laura Schlessinger….

(9) MARK GODDARD (1936-2023). Actor Mark Goddard, who gained fame as Maj. Don West on CBS’ Lost in Space series from 1965 to 1968, died October 10. He was 87. The New York Times obituary notes:

…Don was always the character most annoyed by Dr. Smith, and least sympathetic to him. He could be both hot-tempered and coldhearted, but he dutifully took a spacewalk, against his better judgment, to rescue Smith from the clutches of a seductive alien creature. If it had been up to him alone, he admitted, he would have let Dr. Smith drift through space for eternity.

Major West was a role Mr. Goddard had taken reluctantly, not being a fan of science fiction. In his 2008 memoir, “To Space and Back,” he referred to his space uniform, his wardrobe for the show, as “silver lamé pajamas and my pretty silver ski boots.”…

But he came back in a cameo role for the Lost in Space movie (1998).

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 14, 1927 Roger Moore. Bond in seven films 1973 to 1985, a long run indeed. And he played Simon Templar in The Saint for most of the Sixties, an amazing one hundred eighteen episodes. Let’s not forget that he was in the Curse of the Pink Panther as Chief Insp. Jacques Clouseau!  He even got to play Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes in New York. He wasn’t a bad Sherlock either. (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 14, 1946 Katy Manning, 77. She was Jo Grant, companion to the Third Doctor. She also appeared in that role with the Eleventh Doctor on the Sarah Jane Adventures in a two-part story entitled “Death of the Doctor”. She appears as herself in the The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
  • Born October 14, 1949 Crispin Burnham, 74. And then there are those who just disappear.  He was the founder, writer and publisher of Dark Messenger Reader / Eldritch Tales from 1975 to 1995 as the publisher Yith Press. He was also a prolific essayist from 1973 to 1995, his final essay being a reflection on the life and career of Robert Bloch. There’s nothing to show him active after 1998 when the final part of his “People of The Monolith” was published in Cthulhu Cultus #13. Then he vanishes without a trace. 
  • Born October 14, 1953 Greg Evigan, 70. TekWar, one of Shatner’s better ideas, starred him as Jake Cardigan. I really liked it. Yes, Shatner was in it. And the role he had actually worked fine for him. He also shows up in DeepStar Six as Kevin McBride, as Will South in the horror film Spectre aka The House of The Damned, as Marcus Cutter in Cerberus: The Guardian of Hell, and on the Alfred Hitchcock Presents as David Whitmore in “In the Driver’s Seat”. 
  • Born October 14, 1953 Richard Christian Matheson, 70. Son of the Richard Matheson that you’re thinking of. A very prolific horror writer, mostly of short stories, he’s also no slouch at script writing as he’s written for Amazing StoriesMasters of HorrorThe Powers of Matthew StarSplatterTales from the CryptKnight Rider (the original series) and The Incredible Hulk.
  • Born October 14, 1956 Arleen Sorkin. She served as the real-life inspiration and voice for Harley Quinn, co-created by her friend Paul Dini on Batman: The Animated Series. Harley was supposed to be a one-off in “Joker’s Wild” but she was so popular that they kept her in the series. The character would appear in the New Batman AdventuresStatic ShockJustice LeagueGotham Girls, and in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. She would die at 66 of pneumonia and complications from multiple sclerosis. (Died 2023.)
  • Born October 14, 1963 Lori Petty, 60. Rebecca Buck – “Tank Girl” in that film. She was also Dr. Lean Carli in Cryptic, and Dr. Sykes in Dead Awake. She had one-offs in The HungerTwilight ZoneStar Trek: Voyager, BrimstoneFreddy’s Nightmares and Alien Nation, and voiced quite well Livewire in the DCU animated shows. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) MARVEL’S VAMPIRIC CROSSOVER. At New York Comic Con 2023 Marvel revealed “’Blood Hunt,’ Marvel Comics’ Next Crossover Event”.

…Vampires have always walked amongst the shadows of the Marvel Universe, but in Spring 2024, the long night arrives and these bloodsucking terrors will endure the spotlight like never before. The main event series will be brought to life by an A-team of Marvel talent: current Avengers scribe Jed MacKay and acclaimed X-Men artists Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia. In classic Marvel fashion, BLOOD HUNT will also spill out into a host of tie-in issues in Marvel’s hottest current series and see the launch of all-new limited series, one-shots, and redefining status quos.

 Brimming with unsurmountable stakes, this startling saga will drag the world into darkness as your favorite heroes struggle to ward off the vampire race’s cursed crusade of terror! Fans will have to wait with bated breath for more story details and information. In the meantime, sink your teeth into a special BLOOD HUNT trailer and a viciously visceral promotional image by Leinil Francis Yu and Sunny Gho!

“We have vampires in our books all the time, there’s some bad blood there,” MacKay said. “What happens if the shoe was on the other foot? We’ve got the Avengers, Moon Knight’s Midnight Mission, Doctor Strange, Miles Morales, and of course, Blade, and there’s going to be more vampires you can shake a stick at.”…

(13) HEAR FROM MICHAEL CHABON. Listen to an installment of World Book Club where Michael Chabon discusses The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay ay BBC Sounds.

American writer Michael Chabon talks about his 2001 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. 

From Jewish mysticism to Houdini to the Golden Age of Comic Books and WWII, Chabon’s immersive novel deals with escape and transformation through the lives of two Jewish boys in New York. Josef Kavalier makes an impossible escape from Prague in 1939, leaving his whole family behind but convinced he’s going to find a way to get them out too. He arrives in New York to stay with his cousin Sammy Klayman, and together the boys cook up a superhero to rival Superman – both banking on their comic book creation, The Escapist, to transform their lives and those around them, which in part he does. Their first cover depicts The Escapist punching Hitler in the face, and they wage war on him in their pages, but the personal impact of WWII is painfully inevitable. 

The novel touches on the personal scars left by vast political upheaval, and the damaging constraints of being unable to love freely and live a true and authentic life. Chabon’s prose is perfectly crafted – sometimes lyrical, sometimes intensely witty, and occasionally painfully heartbreaking.

(14) BLOCK THAT CLICK! “BBC Will Block ChatGPT AI From Scraping Its Content” reports Deadline.

The BBC has blocked the artificial intelligence software behind ChatGPT from accessing or using its content.

The move aligns the BBC with Reuters, Getty Images and other content providers that have taken similar steps over copyright and privacy concerns. Artificial intelligence can repurpose content, creating new text, images and more from the data.

Rhodri Talfan Davies, director of nations at the BBC said the BBC was “taking steps to safeguard the interests of licence fee payers as this new technology evolves….

(15) DAVID MCCALLUM ANNIVERSARY. Did you know?

(16) ANOTHER ANNIVERSARY. “’The Halloween Tree’ at 30 – An Essential Celebration of the Holiday” is a BloodyDisgusting editorial.

…Halloween is the day that we face that chilling finality. Commune with it. Drape our world in its trappings. Halloween is the day that death becomes the tapestry of our joy. We accept it. We embrace it. Maybe we even learn from it. And few Halloween based books, movies, stories or otherwise capture this idea more absolutely than Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree. Perfectly in line with its multi-layered historical trappings, it’s a tale that went through several iterations on its journey to the hallowed halls of Halloween history and one that seemed destined to become the essential animated classic that it has in the three decades since its release.

Almost 30 years before The Halloween Tree (1993) first aired on ABC, Ray Bradbury sat down to watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown one October evening in 1966. Despite the acclaimed author’s excitement and unabashed love for all things Halloween, he stood up and kicked his television set as the special’s credits rolled. While he had hoped for the equivalent of Halloween’s Santa Claus in the Great Pumpkin, the promised deity never arrived, denying the holiday its mystical spirit and breaking the vow that its title professed….

(17) MELTING! Nature says someone has figured out “How to build Moon roads using focused beams of sunlight”. First, build a couple of 2m lenses:

…A beam of concentrated sunlight could be used to build paved roads on the Moon by melting lunar dust, according to proof-of-concept experiments involving lasers and a substance resembling Moon dust.

Such roads could be useful infrastructure for future lunar missions, say engineer Juan-Carlos Ginés-Palomares and his colleagues, because they could provide areas for spacecraft to land or move around without churning up fine dust that can damage on-board scientific instruments and other equipment.

The Moon will be an important jumping-off point should humans ever want to explore further reaches of the Solar System. But its low gravity means dust doesn’t settle. Paving the lunar surface by melting the regolith — loose rock and dust — could help to address this problem….

(18) NEVER TOO LATE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] With the Chengdu Worldcon coming up, arguably time to — if you haven’t already — check out Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem. Over on YouTube @Bookpilled  (part of the YouTube Science Fiction Alliance) recently did so. “This Book Has Sold 8 Million Copies – Is It Good?”.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/21/23 How I Met My 900 Grandmothers

(1) MEDICAL UPDATE. Ursula Vernon told Filers the latest in a comment today:

Thanks, all! Just catching up—it’s been quite a week, but at least there’s now a treatment plan in place. I’m gonna live, just gonna be a gnarly few months. (I will be a bald wombat soon, but my husband points out that he watched Star Trek: The Motion Picture repeatedly in his youth, and not because of the acting.)

She went into more detail on Twitter. Thread starts here.

(2) APPEAL TO SUPPORT STRIKING WGA WRITERS. At Daily Kos, Jean-Marc & Randy Lofficier ask readers to “Help a writer in need” – them! (Familiar names because years ago they used to participate in Loscon programming.)

The Writers’ Guild’s strike is entering its 50th day. My wife and I are members, and this is starting to hurt in the pocketbook. Right now, for example, a major studio owes us $150,000 but because of the standard “Act of God”-type clause, payment will be deferred until after the strike is over. Fortunately, like most older writers, we have learned not to rely entirely of the largesses of Hollywood. We have our own small press, BLACK COAT PRESS, established in 2003 — coincidentally the year I joined Daily Kos.

Black Coat Press publishes English-language translations of French science fiction, fantasy and mysteries (dare I add, award-winning translations), as well as a line of translated French comics. If you buy 5 books, you get a 40% “bookstore” discount. Most of our books are priced around $20, and most are also available as ebooks (specify if you prefer EPUB or PDF files) for around $5.

Needless to say, we support the strike, but I fear this may well be one of toughest fight we ever faced as a Guild. (I’ll be happy to discuss why I think so in the comments.) So purchasing book(s) from us would come as a great help at this time. And frankly, we have published many truly ground-breaking books in the fields of SF and fantasy. (See this article published in The Fantasy Hive for example.)

Visit our website. If you can afford it (and only if!, please consider buying some books from us. Thank you very, very much in advance.

(3) GOFUNDME BRINGS NEEDED HELP. David Gerrold has thanked contributors to his GoFundMe (“Help Move David Gerrold’s Family To Vermont”) which has raised over $31,000 in a week. He says, “We’re still a little short of the target, but two of the bigger problems can now be handled. If the universe doesn’t throw any more crap at us, we’re going to be okay.”

(4) BE CAREFUL OUT THERE. “Safety Dispatch: Author Safety for Small Events” at the SFWA Blog.

Small events can be some of the most rewarding experiences for an author. Signings, readings, classes, and panels offer an opportunity to connect directly with readers. They also offer some unique challenges when planning for safety….

Planning

  • Think about safety. Is safety a pressing concern? Are you experiencing harassment, or is another attending author the target of harassment? If you have experienced harassment, are there indicators that someone will attend one of your events? Have they made direct threats?
  • Are there other aspects of the venue, like location or time, that increase the need to think about safety?

(5) EKPEKI JOINS ICFA BOARD. Congratulations to Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki. He told Facebook readers yesterday:

The ICFA virtual conference coordinator position I occupied has been made a board position, & I’m now officially a member of the board of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (IAFA)

At the link you can read the letter ICFA sent him.

(6) PUNCH, BROTHERS, PUNCH WITH CARE. From last October, but it’s news to me! “The Lensman Cometh” by Steve J. Wright. It begins —

(To the tune of “The Gasman Cometh” by Michael Flanders and Donald Swann, to whom I apologize unreservedly.)

‘Twas on a Monday morning that the Lensman came to call,
Boskonians had dropped a bunch of Eich all round the hall.
He pulled out his DeLameter and swiftly saved the day,
But then there came Imperials dressed in tones of white and gray.

(Oh, and they all have mooks for the hero guy to punch…)

(7) CLARION INSTRUCTOR READING SERIES. Each summer the Clarion Workshop’s visiting instructors give public readings at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego. Here is the 2023 schedule of events:

Andy Duncan – June 28th, 7pm

ANDY DUNCAN returns this summer for his third stint as a Clarion Workshop instructor! His honors include a Nebula Award, a Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, three World Fantasy Awards, and awards from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Science Fiction Research Association. His latest collection is AN AGENT OF UTOPIA, from Small Beer Press; he narrates nine stories on the Recorded Books audio edition. His non-fiction project WEIRD WESTERN MARYLAND is ongoing. A former board member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association, he tweets @Beluthahatchie and lives in Maryland’s mountains, where he’s a tenured English professor at Frostburg State University.

Alaya Dawn Johnson – July 5th, 7pm

ALAYA DAWN JOHNSON is the author of RACING THE DARK, THE SUMMER PRINCE, which was long listed for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, and LOVE IS THE DRUG, which won the prestigious Nebula (Andre Norton) Award for YA Science Fiction and Fantasy. In a return to adult fiction, TROUBLE THE SAINTS, was published by Tor in 2020 and won the World Fantasy Award. In the past decade, her award-winning short stories have appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including BEST AMERICAN SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY 2015FERAL YOUTH, THREE SIDES OF A HEART and ZOMBIES VS. UNICORNS. In Mexico, where she has made her home since 2014, Johnson has recently received her master’s degree with honors in Mesoamerican Studies from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

Tochi Onyebuchi — July 12th, 7pm

TOCHI ONYEBUCHI is the author of GOLIATH. His previous fiction includes RIOT BABY, a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and NAACP Image Awards and winner of the New England Book Award for Fiction, the Ignyte Award for Best Novella, and the World Fantasy Award; the Beasts Made of Night series; and the War Girls series. His short fiction has appeared in THE BEST AMERICAN SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY, THE YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION, and elsewhere. His non-fiction includes the book (S)KINFOLK and has appeared in THE NEW YORK TIMES, NPR, and the HARVARD JOURNAL OF AFRICAN AMERICAN PUBLIC POLICY, among other places. He has earned degrees from Yale University, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Columbia Law School, and the Paris Institute of Political Studies.

Anjali Sachdeva — July 19th, 7pm

ANJALI SACHDEVA’s short story collection, ALL THE NAMES THEY USED FOR GOD, was the winner of the 2019 Chautauqua Prize. It was named a Best Book of 2018 by NPR, Refinery 29, and BookRiot, longlisted for the Story Prize, and chosen as the 2018 Fiction Book of the Year by the Reading Women podcast. Her fiction has been published in MCSWEENEY’S, LIGHTSPEED, and THE BEST AMERICAN NONREQUIRED READING, among other publications, and featured on the LeVar Burton Reads podcast. Sachdeva worked for six years at the Creative Nonfiction Foundation, where she was Director of Educational Programs. She is the recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and an Investing in Professional Artists grant from the Heinz Endowments and the Pittsburgh Foundation. She currently teaches at the University of Pittsburgh, and in the low-residency MFA program at Randolph College.

Rae Carson & C.C. Finlay — July 26th, 7pm

In January 2015, CHARLES COLEMAN FINLAY (C.C. Finlay) became the ninth editor of THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION. He is also the author of the Traitor to the Crown historical fantasy trilogy, which began with THE PATRIOT WITCH, and a stand-alone fantasy novel, THE PRODIGAL TROLL. He’s published more than forty stories since 2001, many of which have been reprinted in volumes of the YEAR’S BEST FANTASY, YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION, BEST NEW HORROR, and other anthologies. Some of his short stories have been finalists for the Hugo, Nebula, Sidewise, and Sturgeon awards, and have been translated into more than a dozen languages. In addition to Clarion, he has instructed at the Clarion Young Authors workshop, the Alpha Writers Workshop, and the Odyssey Online Workshop.

RAE CARSON’s debut novel, THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, was published in 2011, and was a finalist for the William C. Morris YA Award and the Andre Norton Award, and it was the winner of the Ohioana Book Award for Young Adult Literature. It was also selected as 2012 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults by Young Adult Library Services Association. The Fire and Thorns Trilogy was a NEW YORK TIMES bestseller, as was her Gold Seer Trilogy. Beginning in 2017, she has written several tie-in stories for the Star Wars universe, including the novelization of STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER. In 2021, she released her most recent novel, Any Sign of Life. In addition to her novels, her short fiction has been nominated for Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards.

(8) AMAZING VENUE. Marcin Klak came home from Sweden and wrote a glowing Eurocon report for his blog Fandom Rover: “Konflikt – Eurocon with An Astounding Venue”.

… Yet even should the convention be held in a fantastic gothic cathedral it would be bad without the people. And in this regard Konflikt presented itself from the best angle. I was very happy for how the socializing worked. Everything started the day before with a precon party in Williams Pub. The pub also became the palce to visit on every subsequent evening. It was not very big but every day I managed to find a place to sit. In most occasions I was starting at a “Polish table” which later was turning into more international one. Thanks to that I not only enjoyed the company of well known friends but also met some new people.

I was also very glad for the interactions I had at the con itself. I talked with friends who helped me to run the Glasgow 2024 table and with those who were around. The con was also occasion to refresh some of the friendships with people I met before at Swecon in 2016 (and a few times later). Obviously I also had the chance to talk to complete strangers who are not strangers any more….

(9) GRANT CONAN MCCORMICK (1955-2023). Kentucky fan and past publisher of FOSFAX Grant McCormick died June 19 Joseph T. Major told Facebook readers. Major also quoted this tribute to Grant from Carolyn Clowes:

“I’ve never known anyone like Grant. He was a huge intellect and a gentle spirit. I never heard him feel sorry for himself or be angry or rude to anyone. He was generous and sweet and smart as a whip. He always tried to make the best of his circumstances, and he had a wonderfully wicked sense of humor. I am so glad I knew him. We all loved Grant, and we’ll miss him forever.”

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1958 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

I really, really love Robert Sheckley.  There was of Bill, the Galactic Hero on the Planet of Bottled Brains written with Harry Harrison, along with The Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming series with Roger Zelazny. Yes he liked writing with others. Though he did write The Tenth Victim by himself, a fine novel indeed. 

His only Hugo nomination was at Detention for Immortality, Inc., the source of our Beginning this time. No, Retros don’t count here. It was published as Immortality Delivered by Aviation Books sixty-five years ago with cover art by Ric Binkley, and serialized by Galaxy Magazine the same year as “Time Killer”.

Now our Beginning…

Afterwards, Thomas Blaine thought about the manner of his dying and wished it had been more interesting. Why couldn’t his death have come while he was battling a typhoon, meeting a tiger’s charge, or climbing a windswept mountain? Why had his death been so tame, so commonplace, so ordinary? 

But an enterprising death, he realized, would have been out of character for him. Undoubtedly he was meant to die in just the quick, common, messy, painless way he did. And all his life must have gone into the forming and shaping of that death—a vague indication in childhood, a fair promise in his college years, an implacable certainty at the age of thirty-two. 

Still, no matter how commonplace, one’s death is the most interesting event of one’s life. Blaine thought about his with intense curiosity. He had to know about those minutes, those last precious seconds when his own particular death lay waiting for him on a dark New Jersey highway. Had there been some warning sign, some portent? What had he done, or not done? What had he been thinking? Those final seconds were crucial to him. How, exactly, had he died.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 21, 1932 Lalo Schifrin, 91. Argentina-American pianist and composer of the music for the original Mission: Impossible series along with The Four Musketeers (1974 version), The Amityville HorrorThe Mask of Sheba, The Hellstrom ChronicleTHX 1138The Cat from Outer Space and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. to select some of his work.
  • Born June 21, 1938 Ron Ely, 85. Doc Savage in Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze, a film I saw a long time ago and remember little about. He was also, fittingly enough, Tarzan in that NBC late Sixties series. Somewhere Philip Jose Farmer is linking the two characters…  Other notable genre roles included being a retired Superman from an alternate reality in a two-part episode “The Road to Hell” of the Superboy series, and playing five different characters on the original Fantasy Island which may or may not be a record.
  • Born June 21, 1947 Michael Gross, 76. Ok, I’ll admit that I’ve a fondness for the Tremors franchise in which he plays the extremely well-armed graboid hunter Burt Gummer. Other than the Tremors franchise, he hasn’t done a lot of genre work as I see just an episode of The Outer Limits where he was Professor Stan Hurst in “Inconstant Moon” (a Niven story) and voicing a  few Batman Beyond and Batman: The Animated Series characters. 
  • Born June 21, 1940 Mariette Hartley, 83. She’s remembered by us for the classic Trek episode “All Our Yesterdays”, though, as OGH noted in an earlier Scroll, probably best known to the public for her Polaroid commercials with James Garner. She also had a role as psychologist Dr. Carolyn Fields in “Married”, an episode of The Incredible Hulk. 
  • Born June 21, 1964 David Morrissey, 59. His most well-known role is playing The Governor on The Walking Dead (which is a series that I’ve not seen and have no interest of seeing as I don’t do zombies) but I saw his brilliant performance as Jackson Lake, the man who believed he was The Doctor in “The Next Doctor”, a Tenth Doctor adventure which was an amazing story. He was also Theseus in Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Greek Myths, and played Tyador Borlú in the BBC adaption of China Mieville’s The City & The City. I’ll admit that I’m not at all ambivalent about seeing it as I’ve listened to the novel at least a half dozen times and have my own mental image of what it should be. He has also shows up in Good Omens as Captain Vincent.
  • Born June 21, 1965 Steve Niles, 58. Writer best- known for works such as 30 Days of NightCriminal Macabre, Simon Dark and Batman: Gotham County Line. I’ve read his Criminal Macabre: The Complete Cal McDonald Stories and the graphic novel — great bit of horror! Sam Raimi adapted 30 Days of Night into a film.
  • Born June 21, 1969 Christa Faust, 54. It does not appear that she’s written any original fiction save one novel with Poppy Z. Brite called Triads but she’s certainly had a lot of media tie-in work including novels set in the Final DestinationFriday the ThirteenthFringeGabriel HuntNightmare on Elm StreetSupernatural and Twilight Zone universes. Did you know there’s an entire ecology of novels, fan fiction, a game, comics, even an encyclopedia guide, September’s Notebook — The Bishop Paradox made around Fringe? I hadn’t until I was researching her. One of the perks of doing this. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Thatababy’s joke “reminded me of one of Our Wombat’s books” says Kathy Sullivan.

(13) UPROAR ABOUT AI-GENERATED CREDITS IN NEW MARVEL SERIES. “’Secret Invasion’ Opening Credits Use AI, Prompting Backlash” reports Deadline.

Marvel’s Secret Invasion is already causing a commotion on social media, though not for reasons that the studio may have hoped.

The series, which debuted on Wednesday with just one episode, has touched a sore spot after director Ali Selim confirmed to Polygon that the opening credits were generated by artificial intelligence. Designed by Method Studios, Selim said he thought that the idea of using AI for the opening credits fit into the themes of the show.

“When we reached out to the AI vendors, that was part of it — it just came right out of the shape-shifting, Skrull world identity, you know? Who did this? Who is this?” he said, adding that he doesn’t “really understand” how the artificial intelligence works, though it piqued his interest.

(14) NIMONA. [Item by Steven French.] I absolutely loved the graphic novel – and who could resist a knight called Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin?! “Nimona review – a shapeshifter and a knight join forces in queer science fantasy” in the Guardian.

… What has emerged is a buoyant and good-humoured LGBTQ+ parable, set in a kind of retro-futurist kingdom, super-modern and hi-tech in every way but with a medieval-style queen and a court of knights who have competed hard for the honour of the title “sir”. One of these is Ballister Boldheart (voiced by Riz Ahmed), a lowborn person of colour in love with fellow knight Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin (Eugene Lee Yang), and Ballister is about to be officially dubbed in a gigantic stadium ceremony halfway between the Hunger Games and the Super Bowl….

(15) LEONARD COHEN WAS RIGHT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] “Then she get you on her wavelength…” “Brain Waves Synchronize when People Interact” reports Scientific American.

… Looking at synchrony between bands of brain waves is one way of understanding what’s going on between interacting brains. Another is to look at the activity of specific neurons. “Ultimately our brains are not a soup of averages. They consist of individual neurons that do different things, and they may do opposite things,” U.C.L.A.’s Hong says. Hong and his colleagues were among the first to go looking for this level of detail and study interacting brains neuron by neuron. What they found revealed even more complexity.

Like Yartsev, Hong first doubted that the interbrain synchrony he and his team observed in animals—in their case, mice—was real. He hadn’t yet read the literature on synchrony in humans and told Lyle Kingsbury—at the time a student of Hong’s and the lead scientist on the research and now a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University—that there must be something wrong. There wasn’t. Using a technology called microendoscopic calcium imaging, which measures changes in induced fluorescence in individual neurons, they looked at hundreds of neurons at the same time. In pairs of interacting mice, they established that synchrony appeared during an ongoing social interaction. Further, synchrony in mouse brains arose from separate populations of cells in the prefrontal cortex, which Hong calls “self cells” and “other cells.” The former encodes one’s own behavior, the latter the behavior of another individual. “The sum of activity of both self and other cells is similar to or correlated with the sum of activity in the other brain,” Hong says.

What they are seeing goes well beyond previous research on so-called mirror neurons, which represent both the self and another. (When I watch you throw a ball, it activates a set of mirror neurons in my brain that would also be activated if I were doing the same thing myself.) In contrast, the self and other cells Hong and Kingsbury discovered encode only the behavior of one individual or the other. All three kinds of cells—mirror, self and other—were present and aligning in the mouse brains….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Brutal! “Talent Shows Need One Mean Judge” and Ryan George is that judge. (Hasn’t the same guy left comments here, too?)

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Mark, Danny Sichel, Kathy Sullivan, Steven French, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and 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 6/17/23 Whoever Lives In Glass Pixels Should Not Throw Scrolls

(1) MEDICAL UPDATE. Ursula Vernon got a biopsy on a lump, and the results are unfortunate.

(2) MOVING WORDS. David Gerrold has opened a GoFundMe appeal to “Help Move David Gerrold’s Family To Vermont”. He offers a couple of free ebooks as an incentive to go to the link and read the whole thing.

…As many of you know, we’re planning to move to Vermont as soon as we can. It’s about the right schools for the kids, the right environment for Sean and Alyce’s health and work, and the right place for me to (eventually) retire. We have been working hard to get this house in shape, get all of our paperwork in order, and find a place that suits our specific needs.

…Right now, I’m the sole support of my family. I’m doing my best, but there’s a WGAW strike, so there are options that are on hold and if the past is any guide, will probably evaporate when the strike ends. Alyce has a toddler and a baby to take care of, so going back to work is out of the question for her. For various reasons, Sean has to rethink his career options, so he’s concentrating on being the best dad he can, and that’s fine with me too. Being a dad is good for him and good for the kids.

So right now, it’s all on me. I’ve got some resources, just not enough. So, I’m asking for a little help. Anything you can contribute will be greatly appreciated. It will get us where we need to be….

(3) THE GATES WE KEEP. Norman Spinrad’s latest “At Large SF” asks how to “Save The SF Magazines From AI, Amazon, And SFWA?” But is this a cure?

It is no secret that the three traditional ink and paper SF magazines, Asimov’s, Analog, and Fantasy and Science Fiction, are in deep trouble, and perhaps not as obviously so are the main online SF magazines. All of them are overrun with AI created submissions and how what was once SFWA, a professional SF writers’ union in all but name, has become just as much a part of the problem, if not worse.

When the SFWA, of which I was one of the creators, if you wanted to be a full member, as I remember, you had to have published 3 stories in magazines accepted as professional, or one novel published by such a book publisher.

This more or less continued while I was three time president, and until fairly recently. In those days, there were no more that 1000 full members of SFWA, but rather rapidly it has now become bloated by about 2500 members of all sorts of memberships which you can join and remain as long as you pay for one the various levels of available membership. And you can also buy even more sorts of official SFWA stuff, a perfect fannish economic operation.

Back in the day, you could write “Member of SFWA” on the header of your submission as long as it was true, and it could mean some thing to an editor, and it might get your story read above the slush pile….

And SFWA membership now plays the same lucrative game. Now since anyone could email anything anywhere without having print it, put it into an envelope, and mail it into the slushpile, anyone can do likewise for free, and of late, you don’t have to really be human, to make the slushpiles even more enormous.

And to make matters worse, since sales in book stories or even drug stores have largely disappeared,, the magazines were forced to largely resort to online subscriptions, meaning Amazon, which has now stopped serving them.

What is more, the SF magazines have for some time become just about the last magazines containing any real short stories, and if they should disappear, so might the literary short story, period.

What can be done about this? It seems to me that the magazines are making a big mistake worrying about what to do about the AI submissions and trying find ways to filter them out of the slushpiles. The answer to that, of course, would be AI slush readers, which at least could be easily taught to recognize each other, if not to recognize the 10% of literary interest.

So what I propose is to look backwards instead of forward to the original SFWA. Call it simply the SF Society. It could be the top of the SFWA or it could be independent, it doesn’t matter. As the original SFWA, there is a membership requirement of say the same 3 published stories by the approved magazines or maybe books too, but with a difference.

If you are a member of the SFS you are entitled to say so on your submissions to any SFS approved publications. But the SFS does not approve the publishers, they approve themselves! They just understand that the SFS mark on a submission means that the writer is a member and they can read it atop of the slushpile, it’s not a requirement, it’s a service.

But where does that leave would-be writers who believe they have what it takes to join the SFS? Look backward. There have long been SF writing schools where you must not just pay but where you must send a story and have it be accepted by a literary board as sufficiently promising.

But SFS is not a school. It has its own literary approval board for the sufficiently promising writers. So who is on the approval board?

Look much further back to Plato’s REPUBLIC. Plato was skeptical of democracy, so he wrote what amounted to the very first skeptical fiction in the form of the non historical Atlantis, ruled by proper philosophers such as himself. And who had selected them? Philosophers who had already been approved by other such philosophizers and so far up the line.

Okay, this is not democracy, but we are not talking about selecting rulers. An SFS approval board could be self-elected SFS member volunteers. Or even magazine editors as well who might want to serve and were approved by the SFS approval board….

(4) TIDHAR Q&A. “Pulp Fiction: PW Talks with Lavie Tidhar” at Publishers Weekly.

An unlikely cast is pulled into the hunt for lost pulp classic Lode Stars in World Fantasy Award winner Tidhar’s metafictional sci-fi romp The Circumference of the World (Tachyon, Sept.).

What inspired this story?

It began so long ago it’s hard to say! The very early seeds for it were born on Vanua Lava in Vanuatu, back in 2007, where the first section of the book takes place. I became interested in the little-known story of the WWII Coastwatchers there and climbed to their hill fort, which is much as it appears in the novel. But that was just one strand; then I had to wait for the others to materialize.

And how did they?

The black holes came from a novelette I wrote that was also called “Lode Stars.” I ran into someone who told me they thought there was more to it, which haunted me because I realized they were right. The section about hapless book dealers in 2001 London was conceived of as a trip to a vanished past. All those bookshops are long gone, and I was trying to catch a bit of the soul of that world before it disappeared. Which, in a way, is the whole theme of the book: how much of what we are is what we remember and what happens if those memories are lost?…

(5) COSY DELENDA EST. Cora Buhlert does an impressively thorough roundup of the players and viewpoints represented in the recent social media flash about “cosy horror” in “Same Old Debate, New Clothes: The Cozy Horror Controversy”. She begins:

Sigh. It’s that time of the year again and we’re having the same old debate again whether some interlopers are trying to ruin the purity of the genre and gentrify it by writing and reading the wrong sort of books.

This time around, the focus is not Hopepunk or what a certain podcast termed Squeecore, but cozy horror, cozy fantasy’s spookier sibling.

The current debate seems to have been sparked by an episode of the Books in the Freezer podcast about cozy horror (which I haven’t listened to yet), which received some pushback on Twitter, and in particular by a recent article on The Mary Sue by Julia Glassman on the cozy horror phenomenon and the backlash against it. Though the term “cozy horror” isn’t new. Here is an article by Jose Cruz from Nightmare Magazine, a horror mag, about cozy horror from 2021 and I’m pretty sure Cruz didn’t invent the term either. The phenomenon is much older anyway. What is now called cozy horror goes back to the ghost stories of the nineteenth century. A genre that – as Jess Nevins pointed out on Twitter – has triggered criticism and backlash for almost two hundred years now. And the reason was that ghost stories were mostly read and written by women. So yup, it’s plain old misogyny….

And Cora ends:

… In short, it’s all depressingly familiar and I probably should have just ignored this latest flare-up of this ages old argument, but the whole cozy horror debate annoyed me enough to put in my two cents.

Cora’s conclusion reminds me of a favorite H. L. Mencken remark, that it is best to spend life sitting in the brewery drinking beer, but sometimes he couldn’t help but rush out and break a bottle over someone’s head.

(6) HWA PRIDE. The Horror Writers Association blog continues its thematic interviews in “A Point of Pride: Interview with Lee Mandelo”.

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

Anything that provokes strong feeling, I’m into that—and horror, alongside erotica, devotes itself so well to powerful, bodily emotions. As a weird gay child of the ’90s, I was probably destined to love horror. There was such a huge boom in scary books, movies, and so on by LGBTQ+ artists going on during that decade. Unsurprising, given things like the HIV/AIDS epidemic, alongside government abandonment and surging social persecution through the late ’80s onward. I didn’t have that context as a kid, but I had the materials, and they left strong impressions on me! 

Looking back now, I feel like being drawn to horror—a place where stories about being an “outsider” and also experiencing extreme dread and fear could be made somehow safe to explore, in their own strange way—was only natural.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1978[Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Vonda N. McIntyre is an author I’m well familiar with as I’ve read her Dreamsnake (we get our Beginning this Scroll), The Moon and the Sun and The King’s Daughter. Anyone read her Starfarers series? I’ve not but it looks potentially readable and certainly how she came to write it is a fascinating story indeed. 

Pocket Books decided to have her do novelizations of Star Trek II: The Wrath of KhanStar Trek III: The Search for Spock, and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. She created names for Trek characters that later became canon, including Hikaru Sulu, and Kirk’s mother Winona.

She’s won a number of Awards including one at Seacon ’79 for Dreamsnake which was also nominated for a Ditmar. She won a Nebula for Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand novelette (also nominated for a Hugo) and another one for her The Moon and The Stars novel. 

Another one I feel left us far too early though she had seven decades of life.  She died of metastatic pancreatic cancer. Damn.

Here’s our Beginning…

The little boy was frightened. Gently, Snake touched his hot forehead. Behind her, three adults stood close together, watching, suspicious, afraid to show their concern with more than narrow lines around their eyes. They feared Snake as much as they feared their only child’s death. In the dimness of the tent, the strange blue glow of the lantern gave no reassurance. 

The child watched with eyes so dark the pupils were not visible, so dull that Snake herself feared for his life. She stroked his hair. It was long, and very pale, dry and irregular for several inches near the scalp, a striking color against his dark skin. Had Snake been with these people months ago, she would have known the child was growing ill.

“Bring my case, please,” Snake said.

The child’s parents started at her soft voice. Perhaps they had expected the screech of a bright jay, or the hissing of a shining serpent. This was the first time Snake had spoken in their presence. She had only watched, when the three of them had come to observe her from a distance and whisper about her occupation and her youth; she had only listened, and then nodded, when finally they came to ask her help. Perhaps they had thought she was mute. 

The fair-haired younger man lifted her leather case. He held the satchel away from his body, leaning to hand it to her, breathing shallowly with nostrils flared against the faint smell of musk in the dry desert air. 

Snake had almost accustomed herself to the kind of uneasiness he showed; she had already seen it often.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 17, 1903 William Bogart. Yes, another one who wrote Doc Savage novels under the pseudonym Kenneth Robeson, some with Lester Dent. Between 1949 and 1947, he or they wrote some fifteen Doc Savage novels in total. Some of them would get reprinted in the late Eighties in omnibuses that also included novels done with Lester Dent. (Died 1977.)
  • Born June 17, 1927 Wally Wood. Comic book writer, artist and independent publisher, best known for his work on EC Comics’ Mad magazine, Marvel’s Daredevil, and Topps’s landmark Mars Attacks set. He was the inaugural inductee into the comic book industry’s Jack Kirby Hall of Fame, and was later inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame. (Died 1981.)
  • Born June 17, 1931 Dean Ing. I’m reasonably sure the first thing I read by him was Soft Targets which I really liked and I know I read all of his Man-Kzin Wars stories as I went through a phase of reading all that popcorn literature set in Niven’s universe. (Died 2020.)
  • Born June 17, 1941 William Lucking. Here because he played Renny in Doc Savage: Man of Bronze. (I know I’ve seen it, but I’ll be damn if I remember much about it.)  He’s also had one-offs in Mission: ImpossibleThe Incredible HulkThe American HeroThe QuestVoyagersX-FilesThe Lazarus ManMilleniumDeep Space Nine and Night Stalker. (Died 2021.)
  • Born June 17, 1953 Phyllis Weinberg, 70. She’s a fan who was married to fellow fan Robert E. Weinberg (died 2016). They co-edited the first issue of The Weird Tales Collector, and she co-edited the Weinberg Tales with him, Doug Ellis and Robert T. Garcia. She, along with Nancy Ford and Tina L. Jens, wrote “The Many Faces of Chicago” essay that was that was in the 1996 WFC guide. The Weinbergs co-chaired the World Fantasy Convention In 1996.
  • Born June 17, 1982 Jodie Whittaker, 41. The Thirteenth Doctor who did three series plus several upcoming specials. She played Ffion Foxwell in the Black Mirror‘s “The Entire History of You”, and was Samantha Adams in Attack the Block, a horror SF film. I like her version of The Doctor a lot with David Tennant being my other favorite modern Doctor. 
  • Born June 17, 1982 Arthur Darvill, 41. Actor who’s has in my opinion had two great roles. The first was playing Rory Williams, one of the Eleventh Doctor’s companions. The second, and to my mind the more interesting of the two, was playing the time-traveler Rip Hunter in the Legends of Tomorrow, a Time Lord of sorts. (And yes, I know where the name came from.) He also played Seymour Krelborn in The Little Shop of Horrors at the Midlands Arts Centre, and Mephistopheles in Doctor Faustus at Shakespeare’s Globe.  

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) A DWAYNE MCDUFFIE CALL OUT. [Item by Daniel Dern.] In the next-to-last and final episodes of the WB’s The Flash series, Chester (who, a season or so ago replaced Cisco as Team Flash’s science/tech nerd) (in Chester’s case, as a blerd), uttered, in moments of surprise/stress: “Sweet N.K. Jemisin!” and “Dazzling Dwayne McDuffie!”

The late Dwayne McDuffie wrote a lot of comics and an animated series, including, for DC, some Justice League, Batman, and others, see The DC Universe by Dwayne McDuffie  (I’m using HooplaDigital links; should be available in hardcopy from many libraries and comic/book stores, digitally presumably also from DC, probably ditto ComiXology and Libby.)

I know him best for co-founding Milestone Comics in the early 1990s which, per Wikipedia, “focused on underrepresented minorities in American comics”, including Static (also became an animated series), and my favorite, Icon, (see Icon Vol. 1: A Hero’s Welcome and Icon Vol. 2: The Mothership Connection.)

Milestone comics were published and distributed by DC, but were, at the time, in separate universes… which led to multi-part crossover, with, IIRC, one of my favorite cover gimmicks, namely little sticky-plastic decals of the characters (similar to Colorforms, but I don’t think that term’s been genericized) on a sealed-plastic bag (so I don’t think I opened that copy, I’d have to check my Milestone box…).

As of a few years ago, the Milestone Universe got shuffled/merged into DC main continuity, along with some character rebooting. (E.g., Virgil “Static” Hawkins, last I checked, was working at STAR Labs.)

(11) PICARD AND FRIENDS. Deadline has a superlative interview with the Picard cast: “’Star Trek: Picard’s Patrick Stewart, Gates McFadden, Jonathan Frakes”.

DEADLINE: Do you remember your first meeting with one another, way back in 1986?

JONATHAN FRAKES: I do remember the first time I met Patrick. We’d been called into the makeup trailer to meet the great king of makeup, Michael Westmore. Patrick and I introduced ourselves to one another, and we got right into a cricket versus baseball conversation that eventually led to him becoming a big LA Dodgers fan [laughs].

GATES McFADDEN: I was doing a play with Linda Hunt called The Matchmaker, down in La Jolla. Patrick came down to see it. We went out to dinner and it was all very exciting; we found we had a lot of mutual friends who were in the Royal Shakespeare Company. We talked all night. We both said, “I don’t know, I’m nervous about this whole thing…”

PATRICK STEWART: I remember people telling me not to worry about signing a six-year contract. They said, “You’ll be lucky to make it through the first season.” You cannot revive an iconic series, that’s what they told us. I was told, “Get a plane ticket, come over here, do the show, make some money for the first time in your life, and work on your tan, then you can go home.”

FRAKES: You have to remember, audiences were not ready for a bald English captain with a French name. And a Klingon on the bridge, and a blind guy driving. It was a very strange environment and people were skeptical to say the least. I didn’t know anything about Star Trek. Neither did Gates, or Brent [Spiner], or Patrick. I think [Michael] Dorn did, and I know your space son, Gates, Wil Wheaton did. But we had different tastes in television — in spite of the fact that my wife, the wonderful Genie Frakes, had a poster of Captain Kirk on her bedroom wall when she was a kid [laughs].

McFADDEN: Brent said the same, that we just didn’t know if this was a good idea.

Johnny, do you remember the first time I met you? We went to a costume fitting the day before a shoot, and I was so excited and intense about it all. It was a silly scene in a shopping mall. I said, “Can we rehearse? Can we go over the scene?” You looked at me and just said, “Sure.” After about three times, you were like, “I think we’ve got it.” It was a four-line scene [laughs]. But I’d never done anything like this; committed to a series like that.

STEWART: Of course, I found out eventually that I was also signing up for six years of Jonathan Frakes.

FRAKES: Hey, now [laughs].

(12) SFF STALWART. Linda Hamilton of Terminator, Resident Alien and Beauty and the Beast fame has been cast in ‘Stranger Things’ Season 5 reports Variety.

Stranger Things” Season 5 is adding Linda Hamilton to its cast. The announcement was made Saturday as part of Netflix’s annual Tudum event.

Exact details on the character Hamilton will be playing are being kept under wraps….

(13) BACK IN THE BLACK. On CBS Saturday Morning, “Black Mirror” Charlie Brooker discusses the show’s return.

“Black Mirror,” the science-fiction series, has released a new season after four years. Ahead of the release of the new episodes, “CBS Saturday Morning” sat down with Charlie Brooker, the creative mind behind the show. Jeff Glor reports.

(14) THE ENCELADUS FIZZ. “A ‘Soda Ocean’ on a Moon of Saturn Has All the Ingredients for Life” reports the New York Times.

Enceladus — the sixth-largest of Saturn’s 146 moons — has a liquid ocean with a rocky floor under its bright, white and frosty surface. Ice volcanoes spew frozen grains of material into space, generating one of the many rings circling the planet.

Now, a team of researchers has discovered that those icy grains contain phosphates. They found them using data from Cassini, a joint NASA-European orbiter that concluded its study of Saturn, its rings and moons in 2017. It is the first time phosphorus has been found in an ocean beyond Earth. The results, which add to the prospect that Enceladus is home to extraterrestrial life, were published on Wednesday in the journal Nature.

“We weren’t expecting this. We didn’t look for it,” said Frank Postberg, a planetary scientist at the Free University of Berlin who led the study. He described the realization that they had found phosphates (chemicals containing the element phosphorus) as a “tantalizing moment.”

With the discovery of phosphorus on the ocean world, scientists say they have now found all of the elements there that are essential to life as we know it. Phosphorus is a key ingredient in human bones and teeth, and scientists say it is the rarest bio-essential ingredient in the cosmos. Planetary researchers had previously detected the other five key elements on Enceladus: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and sulfur (the last of which has been tentatively detected).

(15) CAN’T FLY AWAY. Scientific American focuses on “The Mystery of Australia’s Paralyzed Parrots”.

…Cases of what is called lorikeet paralysis syndrome (LPS) have been increasing over the past decade, says veterinarian Claude Lacasse of the RSPCA Wildlife Hospital in the eastern Australian city of Brisbane. It is now considered one of Australia’s most significant wildlife diseases. But scientists are baffled as to what is causing it….

Native to Australia’s eastern seaboard, rainbow lorikeets dwell in forest and scrubland and in leafy coastal suburbs. They are the country’s most common backyard bird. The charismatic parrots typically drink the nectar of the fragrant blossoms of native trees and shrubs. But widespread habitat loss, heavy rains that damage blossoms and severe wildfires have increasingly driven lorikeets to other food sources, including fruit, seeds and, strangely, even meat. This increasing variety in their diet is one reason it’s so difficult to identify what’s making them sick….

To take on the mystery, Phalen and his team set up a citizen science project on iNaturalist, a social network for biodiversity observations, asking people in LPS hotspots to take photographs of wild lorikeets feeding on plants.

(16) DIGITAL AFTERLIVES. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] What’s it all about? Search me.  Some say 42, but other may want more than a two digit answer (no raising of fingers here).  And then again, what happens next? Is there an afterlife? Gosh, I hope not.  Too much trouble with this one.  Besides, if there was an afterlife it must be awfully crowded by now. (Still, I suppose one benefit might be finally being able to meet aliens?) Anyway, this week Isaac Arthur ponders digital afterlives…

For as long as we have had history and likely before, people have contemplated a life after this one, but might we one day create artificial afterlives? And if so, will we create heavens or hells?

This last reminds me of an Iain Banks novel…

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Christopher Rowe, Danny Sichel, Daniel Dern, Cora Buhlert, 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 Jeff Jones.]

Pixel Scroll 4/19/23 Tick, Tock, Said The Pixel, Just Keep Scrolling

(1) F&SF. The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’s May-June 2023 cover art is by Maurizio Manzieri.

(2) INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE. The International Booker Prize 2023 Shortlist of 6 works was released on April 18. The one longlisted item of genre interest has survived to make the shortlist, Cheon Myeong-Kwan’s Whale. The winner will be announced May 23. Publishing Perspectives breaks down the amount of the prize.

…The focus of this Booker is translation, and its £50,000 prize (US$60,734) is to be split into £25,000 (US$30,367) for the author and £25,000 for the translator—or divided equally between multiple translators. There also is a purse of £5,000 (US$6,072) for each of the shortlisted titles: £2,500 (US$3,036) for the author and £2,500 for the translator or, again, divided equally between multiple translators….

(3) DIGGING OUT FROM THE MUDSLIDE. Yesterday Larry Correia posted “A Letter To Epic Fantasy Readers: I Know Rothfuss And Martin Hurt You, But It’s Time To Get Over It And Move On” [Internet Archive], a cruel rant blaming a couple of well-known fantasy writers for allegedly crushing the nascent careers of other fantasy novelists by failing to finish their series and creating reader resistance to new writers’ series. (Then, finding he had mud left over, he deposited some on a third author who has an unfinished sf series.)

Today Mark Lawrence decided a few things needed to be said in response in a blog post, “Faith and blame”, which concludes:

…In short: 

i) Authors who delay a book in a series, be it for 10 years, or 50, or forever, are not lazy sacks of shit.

ii) The high profile authors who have delayed may be cited in some cases as a reason for readers not picking up a newly published book 1 — but I feel the reasons behind that reluctance are far deeper and considerably wider than two or three writers, however well known. Some portion of the reason (I do not say blame) may reside with them, but I think this would be happening even if book 3, 4, & 6 had turned up a year or two after their predecessors.

iii) It’s easy to give the reason for this problem a face – someone to call an apathetic sack of shit. It’s human nature to want a simple answer and a person to blame. But it’s more complicated than that.

Readers – have faith in your writers, that faith will be overwhelmingly rewarded. And when it’s not – the only thing that author has done is disappointed you, not tanked the entire publishing industry.

(4) DON’T LOOK FOR THIS BOOK ON THE RIVER. “Lydia Davis refuses to sell her next book on Amazon” – the author explains why to the Guardian.

Prize-winning author Lydia Davis’ new collection of short stories will not be sold on Amazon, with the author saying she does not “believe corporations should have as much control over our lives as they do”.

Our Strangers will be published by Canongate on 5 October, and is the seventh collection of fiction from Davis, who won the Man Booker international prize in 2013, when the award chose a winner based on a body of work, rather than a single book.

Due to be published just before Bookshop Day on 7 October, Our Strangers will only be sold in physical bookshops, Bookshop.org and selected online independent retailers.

Davis said: “We value small businesses, yet we give too much of our business to the large and the powerful – and often, increasingly, we have hardly any choice.

“I am all the more pleased, now, that Canongate, with its long history of independence and its high standards, will be publishing Our Strangers and doing so in a way that puts my book on the shelves of booksellers who are so much more likely to care about it.”…

(5) GROWING PROSPECT OF WRITERS STRIKE. Leaders of the Writers Guild of America secured a strong showing of support from members. “Writers strike looms after members vote to shut down film and TV production” reports CNN Business.

…The vote announced Monday afternoon showed 97.9% of participating union members voting to approve a potential strike.

If a strike happens, it would be the first in the industry since 2007, and it would bring production on many shows and films to a halt. The 2007 strike lasted 100 days.

The Writers Guild of America, the union that represents the writers, says it needs to make substantial changes to the way that writers are compensated because of the shift to streaming services from traditional films and cable and broadcast networks….

(6) AFRICANFUTURISM. Nnedi Okorafor did her own cover reveal yesterday. Preorder here.

(7) PICARD. NPR’s “Pop Culture Happy Hour” panelists respond as “’Picard’ boldly goes into the history books”. Beware spoilers.

[ERIC] DEGGANS: Well, you know, I wrote a review before the show debuted. I love, love, love this. And the reason I love this is because I’ve always felt that Paramount Plus’ new “Trek” series have erred by being so careful about trying to blaze their own path and tone down the references to past “Trek” stuff. And I understand that, especially with “Discovery,” the very first series to step out, they wanted to blaze a new trail. But there is a reason why this franchise has survived for nearly 60 years.

To have – especially “Star Trek: Picard,” in its first two seasons, really suffered from not being willing to look back and acknowledge the reason why people love Jean-Luc Picard in the first place. So it is just so great to see this series emerge as this love letter to not just “The Next Generation” but all those Trek series that kind of debuted in that 1990s, early 2000s era. So “The Next Generation,” “Deep Space Nine,” “Voyager” – there’s all kinds of Easter eggs and references that, if you don’t know the shows, you don’t need to worry about. But if you do know the shows, it is just so much fun and so much extra pleasure to watch this unfold.

(8) GET READY FOR “MRS. DAVIS”. “Mrs. Davis Co-Creator Tara Hernandez On Crafting Peacock’s Wild New Sci-Fi Series” at Slashfilm.

One might not imagine that one of the writers of “The Big Bang Theory” and “Young Sheldon” would be behind one of 2023’s most anticipated, high-concept sci-fi shows, but that’s exactly the situation we find ourselves in. Hailing from Tara Hernandez, “Mrs. Davis” debuts on Peacock later this month, with Damon Lindelof, of “Lost” and “The Leftovers” fame, serving as co-creator on the series alongside her….

I’ve not seen a ton of the show, admittedly, but this feels like the kind of thing where, especially because I know Damon got into some of this with “Lost” years ago where they just were chasing their tails, so how long would you ideally see this going? Is this a one season show? Is it a four season show? Do you have a rough idea of where you guys would like it to go?

Yeah, I think we really, and just my personal tastes, I really love a great season of television. I love a story that’s introduced. I love a nice conclusion on it. I think we had to know where we were ending up. We pitched the show, when we pitched it, it was very important to have the landing place.

That is nice to hear.

Yes. It has a landing place. We had to know what the North Star was, especially in a show that can feel like, “Is this going to go off the rails? Are they just going to be chasing their tails?” Just my personal preference about storytelling, whether that comes from really loving feature films or just loving a hero’s journey that’s a really closed-loop narrative, I think the world of “Mrs. Davis” is such that it has legs, but I think it is a great eight episodes. If that’s what it is, it’s just a really nice story. And people will be satisfied.

(9) GET YOUR RED HOT CAT BOOKS. Kristine Kathryn Rusch has curated The 2023 Cattitude Bundle for StoryBundle and it’s available for the next three weeks.

My cats have gotten out of control. During the lockdown, I promoted a series of projects using my co-workers as a hook. The only co-workers I had at the time were the the cats who boss me around: The Mighty Cheeps, and his buddy Gavin, a.k.a The Boys.

I’d post a picture of them on Facebook, write a funny or wry bit about their terrible office behavior, and end with a bit of promotion.

Little did I realize that the demand for the antics of the staff at Promotion Central would become the highlight of my Facebook page. I’ve learned if I don’t include a photo of the Boys, or our new(ish) third cat, Angel, no one reads the posts. Those cats are more popular than I am.

It shouldn’t surprise me. Cats and the internet go together like chocolate and peanut butter. You can live with either one, but once someone combined them, well, there’s no separating them. Ever.

Of course, we’re going to take advantage of that. Cats and the internet becomes cats in ebooks. Since cats in books have always gone hand in glove (have you ever met a bookstore dog?), it seems only natural to put cat books into a StoryBundle.

The best thing about cat books? It’s easy to find good ones because all of the best writers live with cats…. 

Here’s the deal:

For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of four books in .epub format—WORLDWIDE.

  • Too Big to Miss by Sue Ann Jaffarian
  • Familiarity – A Winston & Ruby Collection by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • A Cat of a Different Color by Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith
  • October Snow by Bonnie Elizabeth

If you pay at least the bonus price of just $20, you get all four of the regular books, plus six more books for a total of 10!

  • The Captain’s Cat by Stefon Mears (StoryBundle Exclusive)
  • Haunted Witch by T. Thorn Coyle
  • The Intergalactic Veterinarian of the Year! by Ron Collins & Jeff Collins (StoryBundle Exclusive)
  • Death by Polka by Robert Jeschonek
  • Single Witch’s Survival Guide by Mindy Klasky
  • Road of No Return by Annie Reed (StoryBundle Exclusive)

(10) NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER. “Oh please, no.  Just no. And you may quote me,” says Cat Eldridge. The Hollywood Reporter says “Galaxy Quest TV Series in the Works at Paramount+”. The article also chronicles several failed attempts to adapt it for TV in the previous decade.

Galaxy Quest is going from a fictional series to an actual TV series. 

Paramount+ is teaming with its studio counterpart, Paramount Television Studios, for a live-action adaptation of the 1999 cult favorite sci-fi spoof. Sources say the project is in the early development stages and a search is underway for a writer to pair with Mark Johnson, the Breaking Bad alum who exec produced the film and is returning for the scripted update. Johnson and his Gran Via Productions banner are the only execs currently attached to the project….

Ars Technica’s Jennifer Ouelette also has doubts that this is a good idea: “That Galaxy Quest TV series might finally be happening and we have mixed feelings”.

… Honestly, I have mixed feelings about a spinoff series from one of my all-time favorite movies. On the one hand, I love and cherish every character and every line of dialogue in Galaxy Quest. On the other, how do you improve on perfection? As Enrico Colantoni, who played Thermion leader Mathesar, told io9 in 2014, “To make something up, just because we love those characters, and turn it into a sequel—then it becomes the awful sequel.”…

(11) MEMORY LANE.

2015[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

I’m trying to remember what the first work of Holly Black’s that I read, so I went to ISFDB and researched her work. It appears it’s Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale which I read some twenty years ago. Fascinating novel. 

 Now, without doing the no-no of spoilers, The Darkest Part of The Forest is the work of a much more mature writer. Her grasp of what makes a character worth our time to be invested in is really improved a lot as has her ability to actually write an interesting story. 

The Darkest Part of The Forest was published by Little, Brown eight years ago. It was nominated for a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. 

The Darkest Part of The Forest is, I think, deliciously dark as you can see in The Beginning which you can read here. Beware apparently young boys with pointed ears in glass coffins… 

Down a path worn into the woods, past a stream and a hollowed-out log full of pill bugs and termites, was a glass coffin. It rested right on the ground, and in it slept a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. 

As far as Hazel Evans knew, from what her parents said to her and from what their parents said to them, he’d always been there. And no matter what anyone did, he never, ever woke up. 

He didn’t wake up during the long summers, when Hazel and her brother, Ben, stretched out on the full length of the coffin, staring down through the crystalline panes, fogging them up with their breath, and scheming glorious schemes. He didn’t wake up when tourists came to gape or debunkers came to swear he wasn’t real. He didn’t wake up on autumn weekends, when girls danced right on top of him, gyrating to the tinny sounds coming from nearby iPod speakers, didn’t notice when Leonie Wallace lifted her beer high over her head, as if she were saluting the whole haunted forest. He didn’t so much as stir when Ben’s best friend, Jack Gordon, wrote IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, BREAK GLASS in Sharpie along one side—or when Lloyd Lindblad took a sledgehammer and actually tried. No matter how many parties had been held around the horned boy—generations of parties, so that the grass sparkled with decades of broken bottles in green and amber, so that the bushes shone with crushed aluminum cans in silver and gold and rust—and no matter what happened at those parties, nothing could wake the boy inside the glass coffin. 

When they were little, Ben and Hazel made him flower crowns and told him stories about how they would rescue him. Back then, they were going to save everyone who needed saving in Fairfold. Once Hazel got older, though, she mostly visited the coffin only at night, in crowds, but she still felt something tighten in her chest when she looked down at the boy’s strange and beautiful face.

She hadn’t saved him, and she hadn’t saved Fairfold, either. “Hey, Hazel,” Leonie called, dancing to one side to make room in case Hazel wanted to join her atop the horned boy’s casket. Doris Alvaro was already up there, still in her cheerleader outfit from the game their school lost earlier that night, shining chestnut ponytail whipping through the air. They both looked flushed with alcohol and good cheer.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 19, 1907 Alan Wheatley. Best remembered for being the Sheriff of Nottingham in The Adventures of Robin Hood, with Richard Greene playing Robin Hood. In 1951, he had played Sherlock Holmes in the first TV series about him, but no recordings of it are known to exist. And he was in Two First Doctor stories as Temmosus, “The Escape” and “The Ambush” where he was the person killed on screen by Daleks. (Died 1991.)
  • Born April 19, 1925 Hugh O’Brian. He was Harry Chamberlain in Rocketship X-M. (It was nominated in the 1951 Retro Hugo Awards given at The Millennium Philcon but lost out to Destination Moon.) He would later play Hugh Lockwood in Probe, not the Asimov Probe, the pilot for the sf TV series Search. His only other genre appearance I think was playing five different roles on Fantasy Island. Though I’m absolutely sure I’ll be corrected if I’m wrong (smile). (Died 2016.)
  • Born April 19, 1935 Herman Zimmerman, 88. He was the art director and production designer who worked between 1987 and 2005 for the Trek franchise. Excepting Voyager, in that era he worked on all other live-action productions including the first season of Next Gen, the entire runs of Deep Space Nine and Enterprise, as well as six Trek films. As Memory Alpha notes, “Together with Rick Sternbach he designed the space station Deep Space 9, with John Eaves the USS Enterprise-B and the USS Enterprise-E. His most recognizable work though, have been his (co-)designs for nearly all of the standing sets, those of the bridge, Main Engineering (co-designed with Andrew Probert) and Ten Forward for the USS Enterprise-D in particular.” Not surprisingly, he co-wrote the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual with Rick Sternbach and Doug Drexler. 
  • Born April 19, 1936 Tom Purdom, 87. There’s very little on him on the web, so I’ll let Michael Swanwick speak for him in the introduction to his Lovers & Fighters, Starships & Dragons collection: “How highly do I regard Tom’s fiction?  So highly that I wrote the introduction to the collection — and I hate writing introductions.  They’re a lot of work.  But these stories deserve enormous praise, so I was glad to do it.”  He’s written five novels and has either one or two collections of his stories. He’s deeply stocked at the usual digital suspects. 
  • Born April 19, 1946 Tim Curry, 77. Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, of course, but it’s not his first genre appearance. He’d appeared a year earlier at the Scottish Opera in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Puck. And yes, I know that he appeared in the live show which was at the Chelsea Classic Cinema and other venues before the film was done. Other genre appearances include playing Darkness in Legend, an outstanding Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers, a most excellent genre film, Farley Claymore in The Shadow (great role), another superb performance playing Long John Silver in Muppet Treasure Island, in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead as The Player, Gomez Addams in Addams Family Reunion, and Trymon in TV’s Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Darkness. And others too numerous to list.
  • Born April 19, 1952 Mark Rogers. He’s probably best known for writing and illustrating the Adventures of Samurai Cat series, a most excellent affair. His debut fantasy novel Zorachus was followed by The Nightmare of God sequel. His novella “The Runestone” was adapted as a film of the same name. And his art is collected in Nothing But a Smile: The Pinup Art of Mark Rogers and The Art of Fantasy. (Died 2014.)
  • Born April 19, 1967 Steven H Silver, 56. Fan and publisher, author, and editor. He has been nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twelve times and Best Fanzine seven times. In 1995 he founded the Sidewise Award for Alternate History and has served as a judge ever since. He has published the fanzine, Argentus, edited several issues of the Hugo-nominated Journey Planet. His debut novel After Hastings came out in 2020.
  • Born April 19, 1978 K. Tempest Bradford, 45. She was a non-fiction and managing editor with Fantasy Magazine for several years, and has edited fiction for Fortean BureauPeridot Books and Sybil’s Garage. She’s written a lot of short fiction and her first YA novel, Ruby Finley vs. the Interstellar Invasion. She was a finalist for three Ignyte Awards, the Ember Award for unsung contributions to genre, and twice for the Community Award for Outstanding Efforts in Service of Inclusion and Equitable Practice in Genre. With Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward she shared a 2020 Locus Special Award to Writing the Other for Inclusivity and Representation Education.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

The future used to be better.

The future before.

The future now.

(14) BIG GREEN NUMBERS. Book Riot wants to discuss “The Bestselling Comics of All Time” – however, they don’t want the answer to be too easy.

But what is the bestselling comic of all time? Well, that depends on how you define comic.

Are we talking about single issues, or “floppies?” And if so, are we talking about the sales of one issue, or the series as a whole? Does that include collected editions and reprints? How do you account for changes in the retail market, from newsstands to specialty shops to digital, and the different reporting (or lack thereof) of each? How do you take into account the cultural changes since the ’40s, when over 90% of children read comics, compared to today’s globalized, media-saturated world? Should you account for the differences in population between America (331.9 million potential readers) versus Japan (125.7 million) versus, say, Finland (5.5 million)? Isn’t it apples and oranges to compare One Piece to X-Men to Peanuts, anyway?…

When it comes to the best selling single issue, the list begins at number five –

5. BATMAN: THE 10 CENT ADVENTURE BY GREG RUCKA AND RICK BURCHETT (MARCH 2002)

Most of the comics on this list are stunts of some sort, and selling a comic for literally just a dime in 2002 absolutely qualifies (most comics were $2.25 then). It’s actually a good story, kicking off the excellent Bruce Wayne: Murderer? plot line, but it was that nostalgic price point that sold 702,126 copies.

(15) BROWSING FOR DOLLARS. Untapped New York ranks the “10 Most Surprising Finds at the New York International Antiquarian Book Fair”. The treasures include Billie Holiday’s bar tab, and something a bit closer to being of genre interest —

9. A 17th-Century Celestial Atlas

Along with books, maps are a popular item to find at the antiquarian book fair. The book featured above is one of the most sought-after celestial atlases in existence. Produced by Dutch cartographer Andreas Cellarius in 1661, Harmonia Macrocosmica is priced at a whopping $395,000.

Considered Cellarius’s magnum opus, this map was made to illustrate competing theories of celestial mechanics, or how the solar system worked. The universe’s heavenly bodies are depicted in vibrant colors throughout 29 extremely detailed, hand-colored, double-page engraved plates in the book. The images take theories put forth by great thinkers and scientists like Ptolemy, Tycho Brahe, Nicolaus Copernicus, as well as lesser-known figures such as Aratus of Soli, and present them in an accessible way through images.

(16) BOOKSTORE SLEEPOVER. Zoos and museums have hosted them – now a downtown LA bookstore: “I spent the night at the Last Bookstore. Things got spooky” in the LA Times. The owner tried to make it a bit of a paranormal experience.

…Soon enough, Powell was recalling the spookiest things he’d seen in his years at the store. He described coworkers who’d heard or glimpsed figures moving around the corners, and instances where people watched books fly off shelves for seemingly no reason.

“That corner is where books fall off sometimes, in sci-fi, for some reason,” he said.

As we passed the portal, a hidden nook where my partner and I had signed up to sleep, we realized it was both secluded in the back corner of the store with books on U.S. history and located closest to the “haunted” shelves that books fall off of. We quickly decided we wouldn’t be sleeping there….

(17) THE MUSIC OF THE NIGHT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Deep in a disused mind in Sardinia, scientists are assembling an experiment to find out just how much nothing weighs. Using an exquisitely sensitive balance beam and interferometric techniques cribbed from gravity wave detectors, they plan to switch on and off the Casimir effect using small temperature variations and measure the resulting change in the number of virtual particles that can exist between metal plates. If all goes well, they will have established a tight constraint on the energy of the vacuum. “How Much Does ‘Nothing’ Weigh?” at Scientific American.

It does something to you when you drive in here for the first time,” Enrico Calloni says as our car bumps down into the tunnel of a mine on the Italian island of Sardinia. After the intense heat aboveground, the contrast is stark. Within seconds, damp, cool air enters the car as it makes its way into the depths. “I hope you’re not claustrophobic.” This narrow tunnel, which leads us in almost complete darkness to a depth of 110 meters underground, isn’t for everyone. But it’s the ideal site for the project we are about to see—the Archimedes experiment, named after a phenomenon first described by the ancient Greek scientist, which aims to weigh “nothing.”…

…Geologically, Sardinia is one of the quietest places in Europe. The island, along with its neighbor Corsica, is located on a particularly secure block of Earth’s crust that is among the most stable areas of the Mediterranean, with very few earthquakes in its entire recorded history and only one (offshore) event that ever reached the relatively mild category of magnitude 5. Physicists chose this geologically uneventful place because the Archimedes experiment requires extreme isolation from the outside environment. It involves a high-precision experimental setup designed to investigate the worst theoretical prediction in the history of physics—the amount of energy in the empty space that fills the universe….

… Researchers can calculate the energy of the vacuum in two ways. From a cosmological perspective, they can use Albert Einstein’s equations of general relativity to calculate how much energy is needed to explain the fact that the universe is expanding at an accelerated rate. They can also work from the bottom up, using quantum field theory to predict the value based on the masses of all the “virtual particles” that can briefly arise and then disappear in “empty” space (more on this later). These two methods produce numbers that differ by more than 120 orders of magnitude (1 followed by 120 zeros). It’s an embarrassingly absurd discrepancy that has important implications for our understanding of the expansion of the universe—and even its ultimate fate. To figure out where the error lies, scientists are hauling a two-meter-tall cylindrical vacuum chamber and other equipment down into an old Sardinian mine where they will attempt to create their own vacuum and weigh the nothing inside….

(18) NOBODY SURVIVES THE FLAME TRENCH. [Item by Mike Kennedy.]On this past Monday’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Josh Groban talked about his visit to NASA, where, among other things, he received a tour of the “flame trench.”

Fellow space enthusiasts Stephen Colbert and Josh Groban geek out over the details of Groban’s trip to NASA’s Artemis mission launch pad. Check out Groban’s latest role as the lead in “Sweeney Todd,” playing now at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Gordon Van Gelder, Rich Lynch, Lise Andreasen, 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 3/25/23 Pixel Is That Which, When You Stop Scrolling It, Doesn’t Go Away— Pixel K. Dick

(1) IA WILL CONTINUE LITIGATION. The Internet Archive announced they will appeal yesterday’s district court decision in favor of the publishers, ruling that IA cannot make and distribute entire digital copies of works still under copyright. “The Fight Continues” at Internet Archive Blogs.

Today’s lower court decision in Hachette v. Internet Archive is a blow to all libraries and the communities we serve. This decision impacts libraries across the US who rely on controlled digital lending to connect their patrons with books online. It hurts authors by saying that unfair licensing models are the only way their books can be read online. And it holds back access to information in the digital age, harming all readers, everywhere.

But it’s not over—we will keep fighting for the traditional right of libraries to own, lend, and preserve books. We will be appealing the judgment and encourage everyone to come together as a community to support libraries against this attack by corporate publishers…. 

Statement from Internet Archive founder, Brewster Kahle:
“Libraries are more than the customer service departments for corporate database products. For democracy to thrive at global scale, libraries must be able to sustain their historic role in society—owning, preserving, and lending books.

This ruling is a blow for libraries, readers, and authors and we plan to appeal it.”

(2) HEAD OF THE CLASS. John Garth shares research that will fascinate Tolkien fans: “Making an ass of yourself, with Geoffrey Bache Smith”.

…On the serious side, [Geoffrey Bache] Smith persuaded Tolkien to become a poet and was therefore truly instrumental in turning him into the author we know. Smith sent Tolkien a letter from deepest danger in the trenches of the Great War to declare himself a ‘wild and whole-hearted admirer’ of the first Middle-earth writings, and to urge him to publish them. One of the many ironies of that world war is that although Tolkien could find no publisher for his own poetry, he was able to edit Smith’s poems for publication (A Spring Harvest, 1918). You see, Smith had been killed on the Somme battlefield in 1916, and (as Dr Stuart Lee made clear in his conference paper) there was a demand for good poetry by dead soldiers….

(3) SFF IN THE UKRAINE. Borys Sydiuk shows there was a big turnout for a sff book event in Kyiv today:

Event marketing of the highest level. Max Kidruk, a rising star of Ukrainian Science Fiction, presents his book New Dark Ages: Colony in Kyiv on March 25, 2023.

(4) SUPPORT FOR OUSTING LUKYANENKO AS A CHENGDU GOH. On Facebook, David Gerrold encouraged readers to sign Polish fandom’s petition to remove Sergey Lukyanenko as a GoH of the Chengdu Worldcon: “Open letter to the Board of Worldcon 2023 / List otwarty do Organizatorów Worldconu 2023”. Gerrold’s appeal begins:

…I do not ordinarily share petitions of any kind, and I was reluctant to even share this one.

But, silence equals agreement, so I can’t be silent.

The petition asks the 2023 Worldcon Committee to withdraw their invitation to be a Guest of Honor at the convention to Russian author, Sergei Lukyanenko.

Now, ordinarily, I am against the withdrawal of any invitation. I am skeptical of any campaign anywhere to withdraw an honor, whether it is perceived as deserved or not. That is a situation where everybody looks bad, and I have expressed that thought several times in the past few years, even where I might have neither affection nor respect for the individual in the bullseye.

But there are circumstances where any kind of honor is so out of the question that voices must be raised.

Sergei Lukyanenko has made it clear that he endorses the war crimes that Russia has committed against Ukraine and is willing to endorse further war crimes.

That is so far beyond the normal range of fannish squabbles that I am horrified that the 2023 Worldcon committee has to even think twice on this….

(5) FAKE JOB OFFERS. At Writer Beware, Victoria Strauss issues a warning: “Alert: Scammers Impersonating Video Streaming Services With Fake Job Offers”.

About a year and a half ago, I wrote a post about a job offer scam in which fraudsters impersonated Acorn TV.

The scammers’ M.O.: they messaged writers on Twitter and Instagram, claiming to offer an opportunity to write stories for Acorn TV and earn an improbably large amount of money. If writers expressed interest (and why wouldn’t they), a two-part “texting interview” on Telegram followed, at the end of which the writer was offered a job agreement and description. Although I never heard from anyone who accepted, the presumed goal was to steal personal details, such as Social Security numbers and bank account information.

The same scammers are at it again. This time, they’re impersonating Minno, a Christian streaming service for kids….

(6) WHAT I SAY THREE TIMES IS TRUE. Karen Myers has advice about ways to help readers keep up with the story in “Failures of Memory” at Mad Genius Club.

…There’s no prize to be won by taxing the memory of your suffering readers — they won’t thank you for it. Make it easy on ’em, and you’ll have them in your hand for all the emotional and other effects you want to have, based on what you’ve told them.

Now, this takes some subtlety. The setting of the reminders has to feel natural rather than repetitive, worked casually into the general flow…

(7) FUTURE TENSE. Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination continue their series of short stories about how technology and science will change our lives: “The Preschool,” by Jonathan Parks-Ramage.

2042

Amanda sat at her desk, picking at the same $30 Little Gem salad she ordered daily, suffering a small burning sensation in her gut that was triggered either by acid reflux or the dying embers of her rapidly expiring conscience. Of course, it was standard procedure for her husband to demand that the security firm Dark Metal surveil potential new hires for any of his multibillion-dollar companies, but this was the first time Amanda had been involved in contracting the private intelligence agency herself. Seedlings is your venture, Reid had promised her, even though he’d named himself CEO. I want you to take the lead on this. Amanda was COO of Seedlings and reported to her husband, who dismissed Amanda’s concerns about the legal ramifications of their actions. Worrying about the law was something poor people did, Reid insisted. Besides, she’d never seen Reid do anything that nefarious with this type of information. He was a nice guy. Really….

Theo Zanto, a neuroscience researcher, follows with a response essay, “What can brain-computer interface technologies actually do?”

… Unlike time travel, cybernetics (which refers to the integration of our biology with machines) is one science fiction theme that is part of our experiential reality. We can already control machines with our thoughts—but only with simple commands, like those needed to move a wheelchair or play Pong. Cybernetic devices available today include (but are not limited to) pacemakers, cochlear implants, retinal prostheses, deep brain stimulators, and prosthetic limbs. Current brain-computer interface—or BCI—technologies have enabled us to use computers to decode information from our brains, such as what we have seen or heard, what we intend to say, and what we would like a prosthetic limb to do. With the continual integration of these technologies into our lives, 20th-century sci-fi writers would be surprised at how quickly humans are taking the evolutionary leap from primate to cyborg….

(8) PRETTY BATS ALL IN A ROW. The Guardian made me realize that somewhere not far from me is a movie history treasure house: “Batmobiles, Bugs Bunny and James Dean’s jeans: a day inside the Warner Bros top-secret archive”.

There is an actual Batcave in Los Angeles, where all the old Batmen live. I can’t tell you where: I signed an NDA. But in the most unlikely neighbourhood, in the most obscure location, lies a giant warehouse where Warner Bros keeps a century’s worth of treasures, including the best vehicles from its Batman films going back to 1989.

On a tour of this warehouse, which Warner Bros calls, with a slightly villainous air, the “Corporate Archive”, I saw nine Batmobiles, in a row, gleaming. Each one is a functioning vehicle with an engine, not just an elaborate prop. The most expensive cost close to $1m. It has wing-shaped treads on the tires, so it leaves little bats in its wake.

… Warner Bros, one of the original big five studios from Hollywood’s Golden Age, turns 100 on 4 April 2023, and as part of its centennial celebrations it’s letting reporters inside its secret treasure house. (You can search for the archive on Google: it’s not there.) Warner Bros has produced film or TV classics in every decade – from The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca and 42nd Street, to 2001: A Space Odyssey, to the Looney Tunes and Friends. The corporate archive is where its most infamous props, costumes and set pieces go to die – or rather, to achieve eternal life, watched over in chilled rooms by a team of dedicated archivists….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2014[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Charles de Lint’s Seven Wild Sisters: A Modern Fairy Tale is part of his Appalachian stories. It was published by Little, Brown in 2014 as a sequel to The Cats of Tanglewood Forest with illustrations by Charles Vess.  It was later done in a limited diction by Subterranean Press with illustrations by again by Charles Vess, this time in black in white. Both are wonderful. 

The series started off in A Circle of Cats, a sparkling affair of a children’s book. Two of the characters in these books will show up in Medicine Road.

I’m writing this under a Vess signed limited edition print of fifty for the cover art for A Circle of Cats

Though Canadian, de Lint does a very nice job of capturing the feel of the Appalachian region. I know he’s a very good friend of Vess who lives in the Appalachian region, so I expect that at least part of his knowledge comes from him. 

I’ve read all of the works, no surprise as I love his fiction deeply. I think as books that they are more warm, more comfortable than anything else he’s done. And there’s nothing wrong with that sort of genre fiction once in a while, is there? 

And now our Beginning… 

There’s those that call it ginseng, but ’round here we just call it ’sang. Don’t know which is right. All I know for sure is that bees and ’sang don’t mix, leastways not in these hills.

Their rivalry’s got something to do with sweetness and light and wildflower pollen set against dark rooty things that live deep in the forest dirt. That’s why bee spirits’ll lead the ’sang poachers to those hidden ’sang beds. It’s an unkindness you’d expect more from the Mean Fairy—you know, the way he shows up at parties after the work’s all done.

‘Course there’s spirits in the hills. How could there not be? You think we’re alone in this world? We have us a very peopled woods, and I’ve seen all kinds in my time, big and small.

The Father of Cats haunts these hills. Most times he’s this big old panther, sleek and black, but the Kickaha say he can look like a handsome, black-haired man, the fancy takes him. I only ever saw him as a panther. Seeing yourself a panther is unusual enough, though I suppose it’s something anybody who spends enough time in these woods can eventually claim. But I heard him talk.

Don’t you smile. I don’t tell lies.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 25, 1916 Jean Rogers. Rogers is best remembered for playing Dale Arden in the science fiction serials Flash Gordon and Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars, both released in the Thirties. Kage Baker would’ve have loved them as she was a great fan of such cinema and wrote a series of essays for Tor.com that turned into Ancient Rockets: Treasures and Trainwrecks of the Silent Screen. (Died 1991.)
  • Born March 25, 1920 Patrick Troughton. The Second Doctor of who I’ll confess I’m not the most ardent fan of. The Fourth Doctor is my Doctor. Troughton had a long genre resume starting with Hamlet and Treasure Island early on before proceeding to such works as Scars of Dracula and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell later on. Telly-wise, I see him on R.U.R. Radius playing a robot, on a Fifties Robin Hood show being that character, and on The Feathered Serpent. This is children’s series set in pre-Columbian Mexico and starring Patrick Troughton as the scheming High Priest Nasca. H’h. (Died 1987.)
  • Born March 25, 1939 D. C. Fontana. Though best known for her work on the first Trek series, she was a story editor and associate producer on the animated series as well. During the 70s, she was staff for such series as Six Million Dollar ManLogan’s Run and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. She later wrote for the fanfic Star Trek: New Voyages series. (Died 2019.)
  • Born March 25, 1942 Jacqueline Lichtenberg, 81. She was nominated at the second DisCon for Best Fan Writer, the year Susan Wood won, and Neffy (National Fantasy Fan Federation Speculative Fiction Award) for Fan of the Year thirty-four years later. She’s written a number of Trek works and more fiction in the Sime/Gen ‘verse. If you’re so interested in the latter, she’s extremely well stocked at the usual suspects.
  • Born March 25, 1947 Paul Levinson, 76. “The Copyright Case” novelette would garner him a much deserved Compuserve group HOMer Award. It was the first work in a series of novels and short stories featuring the fascinating NYPD forensic detective Dr. Phil D’Amato who first appeared in Levinson’s “The Chronology Protection Case” novelette. You can purchase it from the usual digital sources.
  • Born March 25, 1950 Robert O’Reilly, 73. Best known I’d say for his appearance in the Trek franchise for a decade in his recurring role on Next Gen and DS9 as Chancellor Gowron, the leader of the Klingon Empire. He made one further appearance in the Trek verse as Kago-Darr in the Enterprise “Bounty” episode. Other genre series he appeared in include Fantasy IslandKnight RiderIncredible HulkMacGyverMax Headroom and the first version of The Flash. I’ll let y’all tell me what your favorite films with him are.
  • Born March 25, 1958 Amy Pascal, 65. She gets Birthday honors for being responsible for bringing Hugo Award winning Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse to the screen. She also produced Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far from Home. She is producing the forthcoming Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse sequel, Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse, and the Spider-Man: No Way Home as well.
  • Born March 25, 1964 Kate DiCamillo, 59. She is just being one of six people to win two Newbery Medals, noting the wonderfulness of The Tale of Despereaux and Flora & Ulysses. The first I’ve encountered, the tale of a swords mouse in making, the latter I’ve not. Her Mercy Watson series is about the adventures of a fictional pig, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Pearls Before Swine reveals something that was powerful enough to kill one character’s romance.
  • Shoe shows a writer attempting what could be called a kind of reverse engineering.

(12) JEOPARDY! [Item by David Goldfarb.] The March 21 episode of Jeopardy! had a whole category in the Double Jeopardy round called “Books: The Future is Now”. The contestants took the category bottom-to-top, so that’s how I’ll give them to you.

$2000: He saw 2024 as a hellish wasteland in his 1969 short story, “A Boy & His Dog” 

Nobody was able to respond “Harlan Ellison”.

$1600: Later editions of this author’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” moved the story from 1992 to 2021

Returning champion Melissa Klapper correctly responded “Dick”.

$1200: In 2025, game shows are to the death in “The Running Man”, written by Stephen King under this pseudonym

This was another triple stumper: nobody knew “Richard Bachman”.

$800: This 1925 novel about a futuristic city in 2026 became an art deco sci-fi silent movie by Fritz Lang

Melissa knew “Metropolis”.

$400: In Kim Stanley Robinson’s trilogy about colonizing this planet, humans first visit there in 2020

Brandon Anderson (presumably no relation!) knew this one.

(13) STARFLEET RECRUITING OFFICE. How could anyone ever tire of this story? Don’t answer that question. “William Shatner Explains How He Landed ‘Star Trek’ Role as Captain Kirk”.

William Shatner recalled how he managed to land the role of Captain James T. Kirk on the original 1966 Star Trek series.

During the actor’s keynote interview at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League asked Shatner about how he got his career-changing gig.

“Talent,” Shatner initially deadpanned, to audience applause, but then he told the story.

As all Trek fans know, Jeffrey Hunter was cast in the NBC show’s first attempt at a Star Trek pilot, “The Cage,” as Captain Christopher Pike. “Jeffrey Hunter, good-looking guy, he was quite a name,” Shatner says. “They presented the pilot to NBC and then there’s that moment when the gods — and, in this case, NBC executives — decide to buy or not to buy. To buy, or not to buy, that is the question! They said, ‘No, we’re not going to buy it, because we don’t like it. But we like the idea. So rewrite, recast and we’ll give you the money to do it.’ I’ve never heard of that happening before or since.” (To be fair, it’s actually happened many times since.)

“So they went around looking for a new captain,” Shatner continued. “I was in New York doing some work. They called me and said, ‘Would you come and see the pilot?’ With the idea of me being the captain. And I watched the pilot [and thought], ‘Oh my God, that’s really good. Why didn’t they buy it?’ Yet [the actors] were a little ponderous. Like, [soberly] ‘Helmsman, turn to the Starboard.’ You’ve been out five years in the middle of space, wouldn’t you say, [casually] ‘Hey, George, turn left’? ‘There’s a meteor coming!’… ‘Well, get out of the way!’ So I added a little lightness. Then it sold. And that’s the answer.”…

(14) A CASE OF THE VAPORS. The Guardian reports “Aviation chiefs rejected measures to curb climate impact of jet vapours”.

Airlines and airports opposed measures to combat global warming caused by jet vapour trails that evidence suggests account for more than half of the aviation industry’s climate impact, new documents reveal.

The industry argued in government submissions that the science was not “robust” enough to justify reduction targets for these non-CO2 emissions. Scientists say the climate impact of vapour trails, or contrails, has been known for more than two decades, with one accusing the industry of a “typical climate denialist strategy”.

While carbon emissions from jet engines contribute to global heating, research suggests the contrails formed when water vapour and soot particles form into ice crystals have an even greater impact. These human-made clouds trap heat in the atmosphere that would otherwise escape into space.

… Milan Klöwer, a climate scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said airlines were adopting a “typical climate denialist strategy” by overstating the level of uncertainty about non-COeffects. He said: “Even in the best case, they roughly double the effect of COemissions on the climate.”…

(15) LOOK OUT BELOW. Science reports a study showing “Earth at higher risk of big asteroid strike, satellite data suggest”.

Using a new catalog of high-resolution satellite imagery, James Garvin and his colleagues identified large rings around three impact craters and one probable one that are 1 million years old or younger. To Garvin, the rings imply the craters are tens of kilometers wider, and record far more violent events, than researchers had thought.

If Garvin is right—no sure bet—each impact resulted in an explosion some 10 times more violent than the largest nuclear bomb in history, enough to blow part of the planet’s atmosphere into space. Although not as destructive as the impact that killed off the dinosaurs, the strikes would have perturbed the global climate and caused local extinctions.

It’s an extraordinary claim, as Garvin himself admits. “We haven’t proven anything,” he says. Without fieldwork to back up the conclusions, impact researchers are wary of the circles Garvin and his colleagues have drawn on maps—especially because they defy other estimates of impact rates. “I’m skeptical,” says Bill Bottke, a planetary dynamicist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “I want to see a lot more before I believe it.”

Because water and wind quickly erase most impact craters on Earth, researchers estimate impact rates by tallying crater sizes and ages on the Moon. They also study the size of asteroids in orbit near Earth—potential future impactors. Based on those two methods, researchers estimate that an asteroid or comet 1 kilometer wide or larger hits the planet every 600,000 to 700,000 years.

The new study, however, suggests that in the past million years alone, four kilometer-size objects pummeled the continents—and, given that two-thirds of the planet is covered by water, that could mean up to a dozen struck Earth in total, Bottke says. Anna Łosiak, a crater researcher at the Polish Academy of Sciences, doubts the ringlike features identified by Garvin’s team are truly crater rims. If they somehow are, she says, “that would be very scary because it would mean we really don’t understand what’s going on at all—and that there are a lot of space rocks that may come and make a mess.”…

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

Pixel Scroll 1/2/23 It’s A Wonderful File

(1) BRANDON SANDERSON V AUDIBLE. Brandon Sanderson’s “State of the Sanderson 2022” published on December 22 featured revelations about his efforts to use his market leverage to curb the greed of Audible, Amazon’s dominant audiobook seller.

The four “secret project” novels that will be going to backers of his record-breaking Kickstarter will also be produced as audiobooks and put up for sale, but not on Audible. Here’s an excerpt, and there’s a great deal more information at the link.

AUDIOBOOKS for NON-BACKERS

On the tenth or eleventh of each month a book goes to backers, we will put the audiobooks up for sale. They will be on several services, but I recommend the two I mentioned above. Spotify and Speechify. 

The books will not be on Audible for the foreseeable future. 

This is a dangerous move on my part. I don’t want to make an enemy of Amazon (who owns Audible). I like the people at Audible, and had several meetings with them this year.

But Audible has grown to a place where it’s very bad for authors. It’s a good company doing bad things. 

Again, this is dangerous to say, and I don’t want to make anyone feel guilty. I have an Audible account, and a subscription! It’s how my dyslexic son reads most of the books he reads. Audible did some great things for books, notably spearheading the audio revolution, which brought audiobooks down to a reasonable price. I like that part a lot.

However, they treat authors very poorly. Particularly indie authors. The deal Audible demands of them is unconscionable, and I’m hoping that providing market forces (and talking about the issue with a megaphone) will encourage change in a positive direction.

If you want details, the current industry standard for a digital product is to pay the creator 70% on a sale. It’s what Steam pays your average creator for a game sale, it’s what Amazon pays on ebooks, it’s what Apple pays for apps downloaded. (And they’re getting heat for taking as much as they are. Rightly so.)

Audible pays 40%. Almost half. For a frame of reference, most brick-and-mortar stores take around 50% on a retail product. Audible pays indie authors less than a bookstore does, when a bookstore has storefronts, sales staff, and warehousing to deal with. 

I knew things were bad, which is why I wanted to explore other options with the Kickstarter.  But I didn’t know HOW bad.  Indeed, if indie authors don’t agree to be exclusive to Audible, they get dropped from 40% to a measly 25%. Buying an audiobook through Audible instead of from another site literally costs the author money…. 

Daniel Green analyzes “The Audible Situation” in this video —

(2) KING’S NEW YEAR’S HONOURS LIST 2023. The King’s New Years Honours list included a knighthood for Queen guitarist Brian May.

Dr Brian Harold May CBE. Musician, Astrophysicist and Animal Welfare Advocate. For services to Music and to Charity. (Windlesham, Surrey)

May also worked as a member of the New Horizons team, for which he wrote a song that debuted during the the New Horizons flyby of Ultima Thule on January 1, 2019.

(3) MEDICAL UPDATE. Actor Jeremy Renner (Marvel’s Hawkeye) was in critical condition after a snow plow accident Variety reported on January 1.

…“We can confirm Jeremy is in critical but stable condition with injuries suffered after experiencing a weather related accident while plowing snow earlier today,” Renner’s rep confirmed with Variety. “His family is with him and he is receiving excellent care.”…

His reps later told Deadline:

“We can confirm that Jeremy has suffered blunt chest trauma and orthopedic injuries and has undergone surgery today, January 2nd 2023. He has returned from surgery and remains in the intensive care unit in critical but stable condition.”

(4) ROLLING OVER THE RESOLUTION. Owner of Colorado’s Mile High Comics, Chuck Rozanski, advises people to protect their collections, while confessing he still has more work to do on his own.

…Clearly, I am trying to protect our home through these defensive environmental actions, but I want to make note of the fact that I am also trying to protect my many personal collections, including my comic books. Inspiring me is the tragedy of one of our dearest family friends, who lost everything that she owned, including her 50-year comics collection and her vast science fiction books library, to that horrible Marshall inferno. My efforts may in the end prove futile, but at least some houses in otherwise incinerated cul-de-sacs in Louisville survived, so advance planning does at least seem to improve one’s odds. Just saying…

So, what have you done lately to protect your own collection? If you’re like me, probably not enough. I have (for example) vowed for the past nine years to elevate all of my storage cabinets in my personal comics vault to at least an inch above ground level, so that if another 20-inch deluge of rain materializes (as it did upon us in 2013) that the bottom of my storage bins (and everything sitting in the floor) will not get soaked (again). Have I accomplished that incredibly arduous task? Nope. I keep putting it off, while I have instead been traveling endlessly all around the country to buy even more comics. Sigh. I really do mean to be more diligent, but finding the time is truly hard. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to it this winter….

(5) LIGHTS ON. Cora Buhlert renews two series of “spotlight” profiles she’s doing to make people more aware of works eligible for Best Fancast and Best Related Work.

The new “Fancast Spotlight” is for a channel called “Dennis Frey Books”.

Tell us about your podcast or channel.

I do a lot of content on creative writing on Twitch – lessons, reading excerpts from the community and my own books, longer workshops, throwbacks to the first works of different artists… aaaand it’s all in German. Sorry.

If that’s fine with you, there is about 100 hours of writing content from the streams on my YouTube Channel.

Buhlert also did a new “Non-Fiction Spotlight” for “Slaying the Dragon – A Secret History of Dungeons and Dragons by Ben Riggs”.

Tell us about your book.

My book is the shocking and true story of the rise of Dungeons & Dragons and how it almost imploded in the 90s under the weight of terrible management decisions. If you’re interested in an representative sample, Dicebreaker excerpted the disastrous attempt of TSR to create a comic book company in the 90s.  https://www.dicebreaker.com/series/dungeons-and-dragons/feature/dnd-comic-books-failed-attempt-tsr-dc-comics

(6) ADDAMS UNKNOWN. David Gerrold reviews Wednesday, which he finds to be such a departure from the established characterizations that he calls it “the Addams Family in name only”.

…And that finally brings me to Tim Burton’s series on Netflix — Wednesday.

It reinvents not only the Addams Family, it reinvents the world they live in.

In the sitcom, in the movies, in the two animated films, the Addams Family exists in a world that is (mostly) normal, even mundane.

In the Tim Burton series, there are monsters, sirens, medusas, werewolves, shapeshifters, and more. Wednesday has an estranged relationship with her parents. Gomez and Morticia are both flawed, they can’t keep their hands off each other, and only Wednesday has the ability to solve their situations.

Also, this Wednesday has visions that clue her in to a horrific past at Nevermore University and the town of Jericho.

So this isn’t the Addams family that we are familiar with, it’s a reinvention. And it’s not the most endearing one….

(7) TODAY’S DAY.

January 2 is National Science Fiction Day. Sure, every day is science fiction day for some of us, but this date was picked for national observance because it’s Asimov’s birthdate.

John King Tarpinian thinks maybe this would be better called ABC Day…after Asimov, Bradbury, & Clarke.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

The Queen let another drop fall from her bottle on to the snow, and instantly there appeared a round box, tied with green silk ribbon, which, when opened, turned out to contain several pounds of the best Turkish Delight. Each piece was sweet and light to the very centre and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious. — C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Turkish delight is a popular dessert sweet in Greece, the Balkans, and, especially Turkey. But most Americans, if they have any association with the treat at all, know it only as the food for which Edmund Pevensie sells out his family.

I don’t know about you but I had no idea what Turkish delight was until I was at University as it wasn’t something that was carried in the stores where I grew up. A friend had a box and offered it up. It was, errr, sweet and chewy. I liked and I’ve since gifted quite a few times.

Turkish Delight, the name we know it by in the West is not inaccurate. The Turkish people make and consume an immense quantity of lokum in a wide range of varieties as it called in Turkey and it’s a popular gift, a sign of hospitality. The candy was invented in the early 19th century, apparently by confectioner Bekir Effendi, though that’s disputed by other Turks who say they invented it.

Most Westerners  encounter it first in reading this novel (or possibly the Eighties television series, or the film). As you know, Edmund is tempted by Turkish Delight into an alliance with the White Witch, who has brought eternal winter to Narnia. When Edmund first encounters the witch, she asks him, “What would you like best to eat?” He doesn’t even hesitate. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 2, 1920 Isaac Asimov. I can hardly summarize everything he’s done here, so I’ll just pick my very short list of favorite works by him which would include the Galactic Empire series, the Foundation Trilogy which a Hugo at a Tricon, The Gods Themselves which won a Hugo at TorCon II and his I, Robot collection.  And no, I’ve not watched the Foundation series although I have the Apple + streaming service. Should I watch it? (Died 1992.)
  • Born January 2, 1940 Susan Wittig Albert, 82. She’s the author of The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, a series of mysteries featuring that writer. Really. Truly. Haven’t read them but they bear such delightful titles as The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood. She has non-genre series involving an herbalist and a gardening club as well. 
  • Born January 2, 1948 Deborah Watling. Best known for her role as Victoria Waterfield, a companion of the Second Doctor. She was also in Downtime, playing the same character, a one-off sequel to a sequel to the Second Doctor stories, The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear. No Doctors were to be seen. If you’ve seen the English language dubbed version of Viaje al centro de la Tierra (Where Time Began, based off Verne’s Journey to the Center of The Earth), she’s doing the lines of Ivonne Sentis as Glauben. (Died 2017.)
  • Born January 2, 1959 Patrick Nielsen Hayden, 64. In a fit of exuberance Wiki lists him as a “editor, fan, fanzine publisher, essayist, reviewer, anthologist, teacher and blogger.” Which is true. He’s won three Hugo Awards for Best Editor Long Form (2007, 2010, 2013), won a World Fantasy Award for editing the Starlight 1 anthology (1997). 
  • Born January 2, 1967 Tia Carrere, 56. Best remembered for her three-season run as Sydney Fox, rogue archeologist on Relic Hunter. She’s been in a lot of one-offs on genre series including Quantum LeapHerculesTales from The Crypt, AirwolfFriday the 13th and played Agent Katie Logan for two episodes on Warehouse 13.
  • Born January 2, 1979 Tobias S. Buckell, 44. I read and enjoyed a lot his Xenowealth series which he managed to wrap up rather nicely. The collection he edited, The Stories We Tell: Bermuda Anthology of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, is well worth reading, as is his own Tides from a New World collection. And his Tangled Lands collection which won the World Fantasy Award is amazing reading as well.
  • Born January 2, 1983 Kate Bosworth, 39. She’s Barbara Barga in the SS-GB series adapted from the superb Len Deighton novel. She’s both a producer and a performer on The I- Land Netflixseries where she’s KC, a decidedly not nice person. For a more positive character, she portrayed Lois Lane in Superman Returns.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Six Chix makes a mighty literary New Year’s resolution. It will probably sound familiar to a few of you!
  • Peanuts On This Day on Twitter brings us an sff-adjacent strip from January 2, 1973.

(11) HERE COMES THE DRAGON-PROWED BOAT. The Los Angeles Times asks “Why is a Swedish billionaire buying up California’s video gaming empire?” In recent years many game makers have been acquired by Lars Wingefors’ company, Embracer.

…Or as the tech-oriented website the Verge put it: “Embracer Group, the company forging one IP portfolio to rule them all.”

The strategy has sparked both criticism and confusion in the gaming world. Some gamers accuse Embracer of sacrificing artistry, while others find the company’s approach scattershot and incoherent. An Embracer developer defends the company’s approach, saying it supports game makers.

“If you look at them from afar, you might wonder what the company is doing,” says Simon Rojder, a programmer who is the founder of Mirage, a game studio in Karlstad that Embracer absorbed in 2016. “What he [Wingefors] does is find people who know what they are doing and then leaves them alone.

“This company is called the big dragon monster of gaming because they soak up everything. But they give you space to do your work. We feel quite independent, even if on paper we are not.”

Today, Embracer oversees 237 games being developed across 132 studios on every continent except Africa and Antarctica. More than 15,000 employees work for Embracer or a company under its umbrella.

In California, Embracer has a foothold in San Francisco, where it owns a studio that developed the free game “Star Trek Online.” Irvine is home to a recently acquired karaoke company, Singtrix, while SpringboardVR, a company focused on arcade development, is in Los Angeles. In Agoura Hills, Embracer runs global marketing for Vertigo Games, a Dutch game studio and virtual reality group. It also has a distribution contract with Exploding Kittens, an L.A. game studio named after the card game, which shot up in popularity after launching on Kickstarter in 2015.

Embracer’s rapid expansion comes as tech, gaming and moviemaking collide in a content race to grab the attention and dollars of any consumer they can. Fueled in part by a boom during pandemic-era lockdowns, the gaming industry’s price tag now rivals those of Hollywood and music…

(12) UNDERFOOT IN THE CRETACEOUS. Elsewhere in Sweden is a place where they study “The Fossil Flowers That Rewrote the History of Life” – read about it in The New Yorker.

The centerpiece of the Swedish Museum of Natural History, in Stockholm, is probably the Fossils and Evolution hall, in which an enormous Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton seems to yawn over crowds of starstruck schoolchildren. Nearby, tourists marvel at a triceratops skull and a velociraptor model. These iconic dinosaurs evolved during the late-Cretaceous epoch and went extinct about sixty-six million years ago, around the time that an asteroid smashed into the planet. It is difficult to think of any event in the history of life that has left a bigger mark on the human imagination. “I don’t think you can compete with the dinosaurs,” Else Marie Friis, a paleobotanist and professor emerita at the museum, told me the first time we spoke.

Friis has come to believe, however, that the disappearance of the dinosaurs was not even the most interesting development of the Cretaceous period. She is more interested in a pair of easy-to-miss boulders near the feet of the T. rex, which bear impressions of some very old angiosperm leaves. Angiosperms, or flowering plants, are so ubiquitous today that one can hardly imagine life without them; they encompass at least three hundred and fifty thousand species, including everything from cactuses to wind-pollinated grasses to broadleaf trees, and far outnumber older plants such as ferns, conifers, and mosses. Yet the first dinosaurs, in the Triassic and Jurassic periods, lived in a world without flowers. The first angiosperms probably bloomed in the early Cretaceous, around a hundred and thirty-five million years ago. They ignited a revolution that reinvented nature itself….

(13) ONE AND DONE. “’1899′ Canceled: Netflix Not Moving Forward With Season 2” says Variety.

1899” will not receive a second season at Netflix. The news was confirmed by series co-creator Baran bo Odar through a statement shared to his official Instagram. The letter to fans was also signed by Odar’s partner and series co-creator Jantje Freise.

“With a heavy heart we have to tell you that ‘1899’ will not be renewed,” Odar wrote. “We would have loved to finish this incredible journey with a second and third season as we did with ‘Dark.’ But sometimes things don’t turn out the way you planned. That’s life.”

“We know this will disappoint millions of fans out there. But we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts that you were a part of this wonderful adventure,” the statement continues. “We love you. Never forget.”

(14) LA MANCHA AND TATTOOINE. According to Ted Gioia, “Don Quixote Tells Us How the Star Wars Franchise Ends”.

…This is an important shift in the history of storytelling, and we need to pay close attention to it—because this is how Star Wars ends. This is how the Marvel Cinematic Universe loses its mojo. This is how the movie business will eventually reinvent itself.

The key person here is Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616). And the amazing thing is that he relied on a knight to kill all the other knights, and clear the way for the rise of the novel.

Cervantes’s knight was the famous Don Quixote, celebrated in the book of the same name. And we could argue endlessly whether this book was, in fact, the first novel. The exact chronology here isn’t the key issue. The more pressing point is that Don Quixote made all the earlier books about knights look ridiculous. In other words, Cervantes pursued the literary equivalent of a scorched earth policy.

The title character in his book is a shrunken and shriveled man of about 50, who has gone crazy by reading too many stories about knights and their adventures. In a fit of delusion, he decides to leave home and pursue knightly adventures himself—but the world has changed since the time of King Arthur, and our poor knight errant now looks like a fool. Other characters mock him, and play practical jokes at his expense—and simply because he believes all those lies in the brand franchise stories.

We start to feel sorry for Don Quixote, even begin cheering for our hapless hero. Thus this protagonist, in Cervantes’s rendering, is both absurd and endearing. This is what raises the novel above mere satire—because we eventually come to admire Don Quixote for holding on to his ideals in the face of a world where they don’t fit or belong.

In other words, there is much to admire in this book, but this three-layered approach to reality is perhaps the most interesting aspect of them all. Here are the three layers:

  1. Don Quixote is just an ordinary man, not a hero by any means.
  2. But in his delusion, he pretends to be a hero, following rules and procedures that are antiquated and irrelevant. They merely serve to make him look pitiful and absurd.
  3. Yet by persisting in this fantasy, he actually does turn into a hero, although a more complex kind that anticipates the rise of the novel. He is the prototype of the dreamer and idealist who chases goals in the face of all obstacles.

The end result was that the old fake stories of knights were now obsolete, but something smarter and more sophisticated emerged in their wake. After Cervantes, readers demanded better stories—and not just the intellectuals and elites. The novel soon became the preferred narrative format at all levels of literate European society.

Believe it or not, this could happen again, even in Hollywood….

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

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask #69

Fandom and the Pendulum: The Astronomicon 13 Fan Guest of Honor Speech

By Chris M. Barkley:

“We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.”  — Anais Nin 

I was resetting a cuckoo clock the other day when I became transfixed with the motion of the pendulum. Back and forth, in a hypnotic, rhythmic action.   

Looking at it, I think that it is the best visual representation of the passage of time.

In doing so, I was also reminded of several conversations I had with friends at Chicon 8 several weeks earlier.

Separately, without prompting or encouragement, each of them described how in the current state of sf fandom the pendulum had taken a strong, hard excessive turn and in a direction that they did not particularly like very much.

All of them had similar complaints and, oddly, all of them mentioned the same metaphor; that it seemed that the pendulum of change had taken a hard swing and it was in a direction that they didn’t like.

To wit, that recently, fandom seems to be a not a very inviting place unless they strictly adhered to a particular ideology.

And I concur.

Because, like the pendulum, the recent social and political shifts in sf fandom, particularly the branch I know well, literary fandom, can be observed and measured. 

Chris M. Barkley

In order to understand where we are now, we must examine the origins of sf fandom. Even today, the general public believes a very persistent myth that conventions and fandom began after the cancellation of Star Trek and the gathering of fans that started taking place in the early 1970’s. In truth, it began over forty years before then… 

In the early 1930’s, Amazing Stories and several other pulp magazines in the United States, began running letter of comment columns. The published letters included the addresses of the fans who sent them. These letter writers, who were nearly all white and male, began to correspond with each other. Local fans found each other and began to form clubs dedicated to science fiction and fantasy. A similar movement was also underway in the United Kingdom as well. By late 1936, they began to call some of these larger meetups conventions.

In the US, the New York contingent of fans decided to hold a World Science Fiction Convention (NyCon 1) in New York City, in conjunction with the futuristic theme of the World’s Fair being held in the nearby borough of Queens.

(BTW, fandom’s first significant feud began at that convention, as several well known members of First Fandom were excluded from attending, mainly because of personality conflicts but at the time, their political differences were played up. More on this later in this speech).

The progenitors of fandom began a whole host of fannish traditions; fanzines and fan writing, literary serious criticism of genre fiction, small press publishing, cos-play, filk singing, convention panels and ‘dead dog’ parties.

As the decades flew by, the marginal popularity of sf, fantasy and horror with the public came and went but remained constant in that initial group of fans, some of whom eventually became well known authors, editors, artists and convention runners. 

In the early years, the first two main genre fiction awards, the Hugo (in 1953) and the Nebula (in 1965) were established. 

Women authors and editors (Andre Norton, C.L. Moore, Cele Goldsmith, Leigh Brackett and Judith Merril) paved the way for the next generation of better known and renowned writers of the 1970’s and 1980’s, Ursula K. LeGuin, Anne McCaffrey, Vonda McIntrye, Joanna Russ and Octavia Butler among others.

I entered fandom in June 1976. I was a witness to and a participant in a lot of the pendulum swing in fandom; the slow but persistent emergence of women and the LGBTQ+ community, the calling out of sexism and harassment and the inclusion of more people of color in fandom.

In other words, the fandom of the early days is as far removed from today’s fandom as the fiction of Nathaniel Hawthorne is from N. K. Jemisin, the art of Rembrandt from Jon-Michel Basquiat, the musical Oklahoma! is to Hamilton and the swinging moves of Benny Goodman are from the grooves of Rihanna.

And I want to be quite clear about this, as an African-American citizen of the United States of America, I applaud, encourage and welcome all of these changes in fandom. Because in 2022, representation, in the face of an increasing societal turmoil and partisan division, matters even more than ever.

But, as a close observer (and an active participant) in some of these changes, I can tell you that none of this came very quickly or very easily.

As the pendulum swung, other factors and effects came into play; personal computers, cell and smartphones, social media sites and the internet became a double edged sword. Technological advances made it easier to call out toxic fans and their behavior but it also enabled bad actors to disrupt fannish activities and the lives of fans on an incredibly personal level.

Fandom is subject to the same major sources of social change, including population growth and composition, culture and technology, the natural environment, and social conflict as any other artistic movement. 

Here’s the thing; these changes, shifts and, if you will, the swings of the pendulum are not only true and observable, they are unavoidable and inevitable.

Because, as history has shown us again and again, in every movement of substance, whether it be music, art, literature, science, sports and (especially) politics undergo the change on a regular and inevitable basis.

A sizable portion of the fans attending genre conventions are female, people of color and the LGBTQ+ community. The people who are a part of the sf/f community today are more diverse, more knowledgeable, technically adroit, and, for the most part, they’re unafraid to let you know how they feel. And, as much as their right-wing adversaries would like them to go away, this newly emerging segment of fandom is not likely because they are the new majority, which was mainly brought on by the Puppies’ overt and militant actions against fandom.

And inevitably, with the advances came some pushback, in the form of harassment and trolling, by privileged individuals, who are mostly white, are either frightened by an otherness of others outside of their own experiences or their own racist upbringing and xenophobic tendencies.

In the early to mid-2010’s, this all came to head with is now known as the “Puppy Wars” (Sad/Angry/Rabid) which were expertly chronicled by Camestros Felapton in his Hugo Award nominated non-fiction work, Debarkle

The fannish backlash against this reprehensible group of egocentric bullies played out over several years; the Puppies may have disrupted the Hugo Award nomination process for a few years but they eventually lost the war when nearly all of their gamed nominees lost and the World Science Fiction Convention Constitution was sufficiently amended to stop it being successfully attempted again.

But this wasn’t to say there were no lasting effects from this conflict; while diversity has become even more celebrated (at least more so in this branch of fandom), there were several troubling, high profile incidents in the past few years:

  • Conservative provocateur Jon Del Arroz filed a lawsuit against Worldcon 76 (which was held in San Jose. California) when it banned him (rightfully so) from attending the convention due to his overtly inflammatory statements about fandom. But Del Arroz filed a lawsuit in response to the convention committee’s public announcement of that decision, which claimed he made racist statements. Worldcon 76 and Del Arroz announced in June 2021 they had settled the suit shortly before it was scheduled to go to trial. Four of the five claims had been dismissed by the judge, but the charge of defamation, of him being a “racist”, would have been the bone of contention if a trial had gone forward. The convention ceded a $4000 settlement to Del Arroz and a public apology, which can still be seen on the Worldcon 76 website. It is believed that the legal fees incurred by the convention committee were around $100,000.
  • In 2019 and 2020, sf writer Adam-Troy Castro and his late wife Judi were beset by a series of increasingly vicious cyber identity thefts that drained their bank accounts, ruined their credit rating and forced them to move out of their longtime home. Go-Fund Me campaigns saved them from being homeless but the culprits of these attacks remain unknown and at large.
  • A few months ago, white supremacist trolls somehow arranged the suspension of the Twitter accounts of authors Harry Turtledove and Patrick Tomlinson. Both accounts were eventually restored but Twitter has no explanation of how this occurred nor have they offered an explanation of how it happened or any whether they are investigating the breach.
  • Patrick Tomlinson and Hugo Award nominated Nigerian sf author and editor Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki received death threats as they attended Chicon 8. In the four years preceding the convention, Tomlinson and his family members were the constant and frequent targets of identity theft, trolling and death threats. 

To counter these reactionary fans, many convention committees enacted Codes of Conduct over the past decade. The trouble was that in the years since they were first introduced, some of these CoC’s were either not very well defined, not very transparent on how they were implemented or, in the worst case scenario, poorly enforced. The most recent examples include:

  • At the 2022 Nebula Award Conference in Los Angeles, newly minted Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association Grandmaster Mercedes Lackey, during a panel titled “Romancing Sci-Fi and Fantasy”, was alleged to have uttered a racial slur. Author of color Jen Brown, complained about the incident on Twitter and Lackey, without the benefit of an investigation or a hearing, was summarily dismissed (along with her husband Larry Dixon, who vociferously defended her on social media) from further participation in the Conference. Lackey fully apologized two days later and said she had not intentionally said anything racist, but had fumbled saying “person of color”. While friends and colleagues (such as authors of color Samuel R. Delany and Steven Barnes) rallied to her defense, Jen Brown and a legion of others continued to condemn her and boycott her works. As of this writing, SWFA has not offered a full explanation, any indication that an investigation was conducted or an apology for their actions.
  • Almost exactly a week later on Memorial Day weekend at Balticon 56, local author and conrunner Stephanie Burke found herself in a strikingly similar situation; she was accused by the Programming staff of racist statements and behavior. To compound matters, Burke was accused of never responding to an email about the incident, but it was discovered later that the email was never sent. On top of all of that, Ms. Burke suffered the embarrassment of being removed from an ongoing panel she was on and then was verbally abused by a “senior staffer” of Balticon, who was found in violation of the Code of Conduct. The very next day,Yakira Heistand, the Chair of Balticon 56, publicly apologized for Ms. Burke’s treatment but also stated that the allegations would be fully investigated. 
  • On September 1, 2022, 105 days after the alleged incident, Balticon 56 issued this statement:

Of the complaints against Ms. Burke, our Investigation Team determined there were no Code of Conduct violations. Witnesses confirmed that she was speaking of her own experiences and not making general statements about another individual or class of people. Speaking one’s own truth is not a violation of our Code of Conduct. Ms. Burke is welcome to be a program participant in the future. Again, we apologize for the manner in which the reports were communicated.

“The BSFS Investigation Team and Board of Directors have found that Senior Staffer 1 who approached Stephanie Burke prior to her panel and asked her to step away acted courteously and in accordance with our policy. Senior Staffer 2’s behavior during the discussion violated our Code of Conduct. The Board has determined that Senior Staffer 2 will be barred from volunteering for Balticon for a period of 2 years and from serving as a Department Head for an additional 2 years.”

  • In researching this speech, I have read many Codes of Conduct from other conventions. My partner was reading one and they came across a line in one upcoming convention that really stood out:

(Convention X) prioritizes marginalized people’s safety over privileged people’s comfort.”

To me, there is nothing ordinary about this statement. 

While it is all good and well to try to be welcoming to marginalized fans, Convention X’s committee would do well to focus on the safety of EVERY fan attending their convention.

The Code of Conduct should be a group’s fail safe to deal with fans and participants who commit unseemly and disruptive behavior but it must be done as fairly, equitably and transparently as possible.


These incidents I have outlined have exposed some of the more serious divisions within our fannish community. My feeling is that fandom, in my estimation, is rapidly approaching a societal impasse; it seems it cannot go towards any sort of future without reconciling with its present set of circumstances. 

I take no joy in pointing out these deficiencies in fandom. I am also saddened that there will be those in fandom who will see this speech as a personal attack on the very progressive wing of fandom.

To them I say this; no one, including myself, is above criticism. And that constructive and earnest criticism can only be helpful. 

Because together, we can change the direction and velocity of the pendulum in a more useful direction.

For the record, I will make the following confession; when stating one’s preferred pronouns or gender preference became an ongoing issue at the beginning of the last decade, I was very confused about the point of doing so. Gradually, I came to understand that it was a matter of personal acknowledgement, empowerment and respect for the trans community. And if asked, I show the same respect that is offered to me.

I also think that while I support this affirming stance, I am not in favor of anyone being forced, coerced or being required to do so in order to participate in an activity or social event.

Because when diversity is coerced in such a manner, it ceases to be that. It is perceived, rightly, as a matter of control. And when the cost of diversity is a rigid, inflexible set of standards that is almost impossible for anyone to meet, it disallows those who may have differing opinions. That’s the moment it becomes oppression and we become the sort of people we have come to loathe and fear.

Again, I refer to the pendulum of history, which has shown, time after time, that the exclusion or purging of members of the aforementioned groups I referred to earlier in this speech. 

In many of those historical instances, in order for the movement to improve and become more just, those being excluded were involved in heinous, insidious and vile beliefs. 

Robert Silverberg, who had attended an unbroken string of Worldcon appearances dating back to the early 1950’s, said that he would not attend Chicon 8 because he did not want to be subjected to any abuse because of his past statements that have been considered, even by me, as insensitive and ill advised. (You want to know what he said? Google it.)   

George R.R. Martin, the creator of Game of Thrones and a multiple winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards, said he wasn’t attending this year’s Worldcon, either. Although he is quite busy writing the last two novels in the Westeros series and overseeing several television projects for HBO, he may have an entirely different reason for not attending. After hosting and producing a disastrously long winded and nostalgia tinged 2020 Hugo Award Ceremony, many think that he has worn out his welcome at Worldcons. 

I know both of them quite well and I, for one, would tell either one of them that they would be welcomed at any convention I was running. Why?

Because neither of them are our enemies. Our enemies are fear, hate and prejudice in the absence of understanding.

My good friend David Gerrold has repeatedly stated over the years that when you attend Worldcon, it is like an annual family gathering. Fathers and mothers, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles and so on. And, like all families, there are rivalries, grudges, simmering resentments, educational, class and political differences as well.

But despite those differences, we all unite because of our mutual love of science fiction, fantasy, films, television shows, art, comics, manga, graphic stories and much, much more.

Any imposition of a lock-step set of ideological beliefs, no matter on which extreme of the political spectrum it comes from, are dividing fandom right now and fandom, particularly this progenitor of all the others, will eventually, and tragically, become unsustainable. 

The first mention of a “graying of fandom” came to my attention around the turn of this century. In short, the people who are currently attending, running and administering conventions and other fannish activities are getting older. 

I have observed that there are a number of younger fans attending Chicon 8, they were far outnumbered by older fans. Collectively, we need to attract a legion of younger, more diverse fans, who are not only interested in merely extending our existing traditions, but creating new ones as well.

Being one of those older fans, I can see that my time in fandom will someday be coming to an end. I have already announced (to anyone who will listen) that I will be attending conventions and other events into the near future, I will no longer be actively working on any future local conventions or Worldcons.  

I am not doing this because I am tired or unenthusiastic, I am doing so because I have other, more pressing pursuits such as remaining healthy and active, seeing to the safety and well being of my four adorable grandchildren and other family members and, of course, more writing.

I wrote this speech not just as a warning (although it can be read that way), but as a cry into the abyss that we need not act against our own best interests and be seen as the overseer of the death of fandom.

As I see it, the pendulum has already swung to an extreme position. And the direction it swings next may cleave fandom into many, many pieces that cannot be made whole again. We must not let this happen.

My final words of advice to everyone consists of the following:

As a family, we should treat each other as peers, not rivals with agendas.

And in this family, there will be arguments and disagreements. And when we have these arguments,  we’ll argue ferociously. But let’s argue with facts, logic, evidence, and most of all respect for the person you are arguing with. Argue with empathy.

Act towards others as you would act towards yourself. People who are unable to do that will become evident and will soon find themselves on the outside of our social circles, looking in.  

Let’s show kindness, even in the face of hate and adversity.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

And finally, ask not what fandom can do for you, but what you can do for fandom.

“Never seen a true statement, a wise statement, that existed in only one culture or tradition. Truth isn’t created, it is observed.”

– Steven Barnes