Pixel Scroll 3/9/22 And A Scroll Will Never Need More Than 640K Pixels

(1) F&SF COVER REVEAL. The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’s March/April 2022 cover art is by Mondolithic Studios, illustrating “Dancing Litle Marionettes” by Megan Beadle.

(2) LUCKY SEVEN. Martha Wells discusses “The Nebula Nomination Decline” at My Flying Lizard Circus. By dropping out she actually pulled two extra finalists onto the ballot.

So Fugitive Telemetry did have a Nebula finalist spot for Best Novella, which after a phone conversation and email with Jeffe Kennedy, the president of SFWA, I decided to decline. Basically because The Murderbot Diaries has had three Nebula finalist spots and two Nebula wins (for Best Novella and Best Novel) in the past four years. (Plus the four Hugos.) So it just seemed like someone else could use this nomination better than I could.

Jeffe had to check and see what would happen if I declined (it’s not like the Hugo longlist where if someone drops out everybody just moves up one). If it just meant there was going to be four novellas on the ballot instead of five, I would have kept the nomination. So when she told me there was a three way tie for sixth place so if I dropped out, three more novellas would be on the ballot, that seemed like a really good deal. 🙂

(3) BY GEORGE! [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, John Kelly reports on predictions British writer W.L. George made in 1922 about life a century in his future.  Kelly finds George was accurate in predicting improvements in transportation and communications, but he also thought people in 2022 would live on pills and homes would have papier-mache walls which would be peeled off it they got dirty. “W.L. George’s 1922 predictions of the future have stood the test of time”.

… George felt the world wouldn’t change as much between 1922 and 2022 as it had between 1822 and 1922. “[The] world today would surprise President Jefferson much more, I suspect, than the world of 2022 would surprise the little girl who sells candies at Grand Central Station. For Jefferson knew nothing of railroads, telephones, automobiles, aeroplanes, gramophones, movies, radium, etc.”

He began with technology. Planes would replace both steamships and long-distance trains. Trucks would probably replace freight trains. Communications technologies such as the telephone would go “wireless.” Wrote George: “the people of the year 2022 will probably never see a wire outlined against the sky.”…

(4) FRANKE STILL WITH US. Austrian scientist, artist, and SF writer Herbert W. Franke, age 95, suddenly appeared on Twitter yesterday. A major science fiction writer in the German language, he was a guest of honor at the 1970 Worldcon. He also is a computer graphics pioneer.

Enthusiasts of both SF and computer art responded with well over a hundred messages of welcome.

His career on Twitter is just getting started.  Here’s his follow-up message:

Why now?

The Internet Science Fiction Database says he’s been busy over the past seven decades or so. The SF Encyclopedia can fill you in about his career here.

(5) MY ONLY HOPE. “Obi-Wan Kenobi” begins streaming on Disney+ on May 25.

The story begins 10 years after the dramatic events of “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” where Obi-Wan Kenobi faced his greatest defeat—the downfall and corruption of his best friend and Jedi apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, who turned to the dark side as evil Sith Lord Darth Vader. The series stars Ewan McGregor, reprising his role as the iconic Jedi Master, and also marks the return of Hayden Christensen in the role of Darth Vader. Joining the cast are Moses Ingram, Joel Edgerton, Bonnie Piesse, Kumail Nanjiani, Indira Varma, Rupert Friend, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Sung Kang, Simone Kessell and Benny Safdie.

(6) WHO IS NUMBER ONE? The only show to answer that question,“Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” starts streaming on Paramount+ on May 5.

STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS is based on the years Captain Christopher Pike manned the helm of the U.S.S. Enterprise. The series will feature fan favorites from season two of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY: Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike, Rebecca Romijn as Number One and Ethan Peck as Science Officer Spock.

(7) EARLY WITHDRAWAL PENALTY. “Black Panther director Ryan Coogler arrested after being mistaken for bank robber” reports the Guardian.  

Black Panther director Ryan Coogler was mistaken for a bank robber and arrested after trying to withdraw money from his bank account. Coogler confirmed the incident, which happened in January, to Variety after TMZ first reported it.

According to a police report obtained by TMZ, Coogler, who is currently filming the Black Panther sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in Atlanta, Georgia, entered a bank in the city and handed the cashier a note reading: “I would like to withdraw $12,000 cash from my checking account. Please do the money count somewhere else. I’d like to be discreet.”

The transaction triggered an alarm, according to the report, and bank staff called the police. Coogler and two other people with him were arrested, and later released.

Coogler told Variety: “This situation should never have happened … However, Bank of America worked with me and addressed it to my satisfaction and we have moved on.”

(8) TRAVELER FROM AN ANTIQUE LAND. Fanac.org is doing another Fan History Zoom on March 19. To RSVP, send a note to fanac@fanac.org.

Traveling Ghiants, Fan Funds from the Days of Mimeo to the Days of Zoom

with Geri Sullivan (m), Lesleigh Luttrell, Justin Ackroyd and Suzle Tompkins

Date: March 19, 2022
Time: 4pm EDT, 1pm PDT, 8pm London, 7am AEDT (Melbourne)

Fan Funds evolved to bring together in person fans from different regions who only knew each other long distance, and on paper. In these days of virtual conventions, we still long for connection. Our panel are Fan Fund winners all, representing TAFF- the Transatlantic Fan Fund, DUFF – the Down Under Fan Fund, and GUFF – the Get-Up-and-Over Fan Fund (or the Going Under Fan Fund). In addition to the travel part of being a Fan Fund winner, there’s an entire administration and fundraising side that most of us don’t even think of. Join us to hear from those in the know how Fan Funds have changed, their secret rules, and the impact of plagues and modern society on this traditional fannish charity. Expect some traveler’s tales too!

To RSVP, or find out more about the series, please send a note to fanac@fanac.org.

(9) GROWING OLD IS NOT FOR SISSIES. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Gizmodo’s James Whitbrook contrasts the approach that Star Wars and Star Trek movies have taken toward aging actors playing aging characters.  Does one let characters age along with the actors, or does one fire up the computer networks and plaster CGI versions of youth over various visages? “Star Trek and Star Wars’ Different Approaches to De-Aging Tech”.

There’s a moment in the climax of Star Trek: Picard’s season two premiere when Q, the omnipotent bane of Jean-Luc’s life, appears in the latter’s humble French estate. He has had, like so many returning figures of classic pop culture of late, the process of time smoothed out by CG, to give us a semblance of the Q we once knew all those years ago. But, he realizes: Jean-Luc Picard has gotten old. So why shouldn’t he?

“Oh dear, you’re a bit older than I imagined,” Q jokes. “Let me catch up.” In a trademark click of his fingers, and a bright flash of light, the CG-enhanced Q becomes just regular old contemporary John de Lancie. It’s a perfect way to bring Q and Picard together again, decades after they last crossed paths in the finale of The Next Generation—but it’s also emblematic of an approach contemporary Star Trek is taking to its aging heroes….

(10) ODDLY IT HAS NO BIKE PATH. But who needs a bike path when your bike can fly? “’E.T. Park’ in Porter Ranch could become official” – the LA Times has details.

A City Council committee on Tuesday backed a proposal to rename Porter Ridge Park as E.T. Park. The proposal now goes to the full council.

Director Steven Spielberg sought out the tract-house setting of the Valley for “E.T.” because it reminded him of the Phoenix suburb where he grew up, The Times reported in 1985 .

The Porter Ranch park is featured in a scene in which a group that includes E.T. and Elliott, the boy who befriends the alien, escapes federal agents. One of the park’s climbing structures — a caterpillar with big eyes — can be seen in the film.

Other San Fernando Valley locales featured in the movie include White Oak Avenue in Granada Hills, where Elliott, E.T. and others escape on bikes, and a Tujunga residence, where Elliott and his family live.

City Councilmen John Lee and Bob Blumenfield, who represent Valley neighborhoods, introduced the motion to change the park’s name.

“I think the whole community refers to it as E.T Park, and this is just making it official,” Lee said at Tuesday’s committee meeting. “Mr. Spielberg has given us the permission to use it, that name.”…

(11) KOURITS OBIT. Ukranian fan Leonid Kourits died of a stroke reports Marcia Kelly Illingworth on Facebook. He attended several Worldcons and UK Eastercons. Borys Sydiuk says he was the organizer of the first truly international SF convention in the USSR in the Koblevo, Nikolaev region in 1988. David Langford’s amusing encounter with Kourits at the 1997 World Fantasy Con is described in Cloud Chamber 79.

(12) STEWART BEVAN (1948-2022) Actor Stewart Bevan, who appeared on Doctor Who and Blake’s 7, has died reports the Guardian. Other genre credits include the horror films Burke & Hare and The Flesh and Blood Show (both 1972), and The Ghoul (1975)…

… He featured in the long-running series Doctor Who, in 1973’s The Green Death, remembered fondly by viewers as “the one with the giant maggots”. The departure of popular companion Jo Grant (Katy Manning) called for someone special to lure her away from third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, and to this end the charismatic Welsh eco-warrior Professor Clifford Jones was conceived.

Michael Briant, the director, was having trouble casting this part but was reluctant to interview Bevan because he was Manning’s fiance at the time. He finally relented and discovered that Bevan was exactly what he was looking for: handsome and with the requisite crusading zeal and lightness of touch.

Bevan’s obvious rapport with Manning also helped to make her departure one of the series’ most memorably tear-jerking. Bevan himself was an empathic anti-capitalist vegetarian, guitar player and writer of poetry – all of which contributed to making Jones a believable character….

(13) CONRAD JANIS (1928-2022) The actor who played Mindy’s father in Mork & Mindy, Conrad Janis, died March 1 at the age of 94. The New York Times tribute is here. He also was a KAOS agent on Get Smart and a space station resident on Quark.

(14) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1976 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Forty-four years ago this weekend, The Amazing Captain Nemo aired. It was based quite loosely off Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. It was written by way too many screenwriters which included Robert Bloch. Scripts by committee in my opinion rarely work. (Your opinion may of course differ.) Robert Bloch and his fellow writers fleshed producer Irwin Allen’s premise that after a century of being in suspended animation, Nemo is revived in modern times for new adventures. It was intended as the pilot for a new series which didn’t happen, another project by Irwin Allen widely considered as an attempt to follow-up on the success of his Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea series. 

It had a very large cast but in my opinion the only performer that you need to know about is José Ferrer as Captain Nemo. He made a rather magnificent if hammy one. Of course, a few years later he get to chew on scenery again in Dune where plays Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV.

It was aired over three nights with Bloch largely responsible for the finale. Later the miniseries would get condensed, rather choppily, into a film called The Return of Captain Nemo which generated one of the best review comments: “Best line in the film was when Hallick says Captain Nemo was a figure of fiction, and Ferrer says that Jules Verne was a biographer as well as a science fiction writer. From there get set for some ham a la mode.”

It was not particularly well received by either critics or the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes with the latter giving a very bad twenty percent rating. 

Let’s give IGN the final word: “If one comes to an Irwin Allen-produced adventure seeking a thoughtful, challenging film, they’ve come to wrong place.” 

(15) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 9, 1918 Mickey Spillane. His first job was writing stories for Funnies Inc. including Batman, Captain America, Captain Marvel and Superman. Do note these were text stories, not scripts for comics. Other than those, ISFDB lists him as writing three genre short stories: “The Veiled Woman” (co-written with Howard Browne), “The Girl Behind the Hedge” and “Grave Matter” (co-written with Max Allan Collins).  Has anyone read these? (Died 2006.)
  • Born March 9, 1939 Pat Ellington. She was married to Dick Ellington, who edited and published the FIJAGH fanzine. They met in New York as fans in the Fifties. After they moved to California, she was a contributor to Femizine, a fanzine put out by the hoax fan Joan W. Carr.  (Died 2011.)
  • Born March 9, 1940 Raul Julia. Damn, another one who died far too early. If we count Sesame Street as genre as we should, his appearance as Rafael there was his first genre role. Yeah, I’m stretching it somewhat but not that much as Muppets are genre, aren’t they?  Ok, how about as Aram Fingal in Overdrawn at the Memory Bank, a RSL production off the John Varley short story? That better?  He later starred in Frankenstein Unbound as Victor Frankenstein as well. His last role released while he was still living was in the superb Addams Family Values as Gomez Addams reprising the role he’d had in The Addams Family. (Died 1994.)
  • Born March 9, 1945 Robert Calvert. Lyricist for Hawkwind, a band that’s at least genre adjacent. And Simon R. Green frequently mentioned them in his Nightside series by having a diner in the Nightside called the Hawk’s Wind Bar & Grille. Calvert was a close friend of Michael Moorcock.  He wrote SF poetry which you read about here. (Died 1988.)
  • Born March 9, 1955 Pat Murphy, 67. I think that her most brilliant work is The City, Not Long After which I’ve read myriad times. If you’ve not read this novel, do so now. The Max Merriwell series is excellent and Murphy’s ‘explanation’ of the authorial attributions is fascinating. The Nebula winning Falling Woman by her is an amazing read as well. Her “Rachael in Love” story won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award and was nominated for Best Novelette at Nolacon II. She won a World Fantasy Award for her “Bones” novella which got her a Hugo nomination at Chicon V. Her space opera version of The HobbitThere and Back Again, is I’ve been reminded, a great deal of fun. She’s reasonably well stocked at the usual suspects.
  • Born March 9, 1965 Brom, 57. Artist and writer whose best work I think is Krampus: The Yule Lord and The Child ThiefThe Art of Brom is a very good look at his art. He’s listed as having provided some of the art design used on Galaxy Quest.  His latest, Slewfoot: A Tale of Bewitchery, riffs off witchcraft in colonial New England.
  • Born March 9, 1959 Mark Carwardine, 63. In 2009, he penned Last Chance to See: In the Footsteps of Douglas Adams. This is the sequel to Last Chance to See, the 1989 BBC radio documentary series and book which he did with Douglas Adams. In 2009, he also worked with with Stephen Fry on a follow-up to the original Last Chance to See. This also called Last Chance to See
  • Born March 9, 1978 Hannu Rajaniemi, 44. Author of the Jean le Flambeur series which consists of The Quantum ThiefThe Fractal Prince and The Causal Angel. Damn if I can summarize them. They remind me a bit of Alastair Reynolds’ Prefect novels, somewhat of Ian Mcdonald’s Mars novels as well. Layers of weirdness upon fascinating weirdness. Quite fascinating as I said. And well worth the reading time. 

(16) COMICS SECTION.

(17) LEAPBUSTER. SYFY Wire reveals that “NBC Quantum Leap reboot casts Ernie Hudson”.

An OG member of the Ghostbusters crew is making his way into the world of Quantum LeapPer Deadline, NBC’s upcoming reboot of the classic sci-fi series has tapped Ernie Hudson, best known for portraying Winston Zeddemore in the Ghostbusters film franchise (he recently reprised the spirit-fighting hero in Jason Reitman’s Afterlife), for a key role in the pilot episode.

This is the second bit of major casting news in the last few days after Raymond Lee was cast to lead the revival as Dr. Ben Seong last Friday. Hudson is set to play Herbert “Magic” Williams, a Vietnam War vet and seasoned leader of the Quantum Leap time travel project. “Using a bit of politicking and his military know-how to keep the Pentagon at bay, Magic buys the team some time to rescue Ben, but expects answers once he’s back,” reads the synopsis of the character provided by Deadline….

(18) MORE HAPPIER TIMES. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] Another pic from a time long ago in a place far, far away… During the 2006 Eurocon in Kyiv some local members of the SF community provided domestic hospitality.

Seen here (from left) a Romanian fan, Imants Belogrivs (of the Eurocon Award-winning Hekate publisher in Riga, Latvia), a Latvian fan(?), Martin Untals (Latvia), Jean-Pierre Laigle (France), Jonathan Cowie (SF2 Concatenation), Sergei Lussarenko (former Ukrainian SF author now living in Minsk and apparently a Putin supporter.) Photo by Roberto Quaglia (Italian fan and occasional author).

(19) WISDOM FROM MY INTERNET. Declann Finn will be blessing Upstream Reviews with his recommendations for “The Dragon Awards, 2022”. In his first post there is one and only one science fiction novel on his radar screen.

…To begin with, we’re not not nominating anyone who already has an award. Most of those who have won already have the attitude of “Oh, I don’t need more dust collectors.” We’re leaving out Big Name Authors. Frankly, if you’re Jim Butcher or a Baen author, you don’t need our help. If we don’t have any other viable alternative, then yes, then BNAs are applicable….

Best Science Fiction Novel

White Ops— to my knowledge, this is the only eligible science fiction work that Upstream Reviews has covered. More will be added to the nominations as we go along….

And who is the author of White Ops? It’s Declann Finn!

(20) VISIT TO A SMALL PLANET. Bloody Disgusting has learned that the “Predator Prequel Movie ‘Prey’ Will Be Set in the Great Plains in 1719”.

… From 20th Century Studios, the return of the Predator franchise is directed by Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane), and it’s positioned as a prequel to the original that will tell the tale of the Predator’s first journey to our planet. Amber Midthunder (“Legion”) stars as a Comanche woman who goes against gender norms and traditions to become a warrior….

“It goes back to what made the original Predator movie work,” producer John Davis previously told Collider. “It’s the ingenuity of a human being who won’t give up, who’s able to observe and interpret, basically being able to beat a stronger, more powerful, well-armed force.”

As for tone, Davis reveals that “[Prey] has more akin to The Revenant than it does any film in the Predator canon,” further adding: “You’ll know what I mean once you see it.”…

(21) COOL DISCOVERY. “At the Bottom of an Icy Sea, One of History’s Great Wrecks Is Found”: the New York Times tells how Endurance, Ernest Shackleton’s ship, lost in 1915, was found in the waters off Antarctica.

The wreck of Endurance has been found in the Antarctic, 106 years after the historic ship was crushed in pack ice and sank during an expedition by the explorer Ernest Shackleton.

A team of adventurers, marine archaeologists and technicians located the wreck at the bottom of the Weddell Sea, east of the Antarctic Peninsula, using undersea drones. Battling sea ice and freezing temperatures, the team had been searching for more than two weeks in a 150-square-mile area around where the ship went down in 1915.

Endurance, a 144-foot, three-masted wooden ship, holds a revered place in polar history because it spawned one of the greatest survival stories in the annals of exploration. Its location, nearly 10,000 feet down in waters that are among the iciest on Earth, placed it among the most celebrated shipwrecks that had not been found.

…Shackleton never made it to the pole or beyond, but his leadership in rescuing all his crew and his exploits, which included an 800-mile open-boat journey across the treacherous Southern Ocean to the island of South Georgia, made him a hero in Britain.

Shackleton was tripped up by the Weddell’s notoriously thick, long-lasting sea ice, which results from a circular current that keeps much ice within it. In early January 1915 Endurance became stuck less than 100 miles from its destination and drifted with the ice for more than 10 months as the ice slowly crushed it….

(22) IN BLOOM AGAIN. Deadline reveals “’Bloom County’ Animated Series From Berkeley Breathed In Works At Fox”.

…Bloom County first appeared in student newspaper The Daily Texan before becoming nationally syndicated in the Washington Post. It ran between 1980-1989, and Breathed brought it back on Facebook in 2015.

Breathed said, “At the end of Alien, we watched cuddly Sigourney Weaver go down for a long peaceful snooze in cryogenic hyper-sleep after getting chased around by a saliva-spewing maniac, only to be wakened decades later into a world stuffed with far worse. Fox and I have done the identical thing to Opus and the rest of the Bloom County gang, may they forgive us.”

The Hollywood Reporter’s story adds:

…In 2015, Breathed started posting new Bloom County strips on Facebook, a move that was at least somewhat inspired by the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, who Breathed regularly mocked in the strip during its original run. “He is the reverse canary in America’s gilded gold mine: When Donald Trump gets up from the dead and starts singing, you know you’ve reached toxic air,” Breathed said at Comic-Con in 2016. “He signifies something that I didn’t want to be left out of.

(23) WHEN MONTANA HAD AN OCEAN. Yahoo! declares “Octopus ancestors lived before era of dinosaurs, study shows”.

Scientists have found the oldest known ancestor of octopuses – an approximately 330 million-year-old fossil unearthed in Montana.

The researchers concluded the ancient creature lived millions of years earlier than previously believed, meaning that octopuses originated before the era of dinosaurs….

The creature, a vampyropod, was likely the ancestor of both modern octopuses and vampire squid, a confusingly named marine critter that’s much closer to an octopus than a squid. Previously, the “oldest known definitive” vampyropod was from around 240 million years ago, the authors said.

The scientists named the fossil Syllipsimopodi bideni, after President Joe Biden.

Whether or not having an ancient octopus — or vampire squid — bearing your name is actually a compliment, the scientists say they intended admiration for the president’s science and research priorities.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Gordon Van Gelder, Bill Higgins, Cora Buhlert, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel “Hard drivin’” Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 1/6/22 Don’t File In The Subspace Ether, Don’t Scroll In Pixel Rain

(1) TO QUIT, OR NOT TO QUIT. Four-time Bram Stoker Award winner Tim Waggoner reaches out to those who are thinking about giving up professional writing in “You Can’t Fire Me!” at Writing in the Dark. He comes up with five reasons for quitting, but fourteen for not quitting.

…Don’t worry. I’m not planning on quitting anytime soon. I still have four books that I’ve contracted to write, and I’ve always said that I need to write the same way I need to breathe. I don’t think I could quit if I wanted to. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think about quitting sometimes. Hell, I’ve probably thought about it, to one degree of seriousness or another, hundreds of times over the years.

Quitting is viewed as one of the worst things you can do in American culture. It’s giving up, showing weakness, proving you don’t have what it takes to keep going, to keep fighting. But quitting writing – for whatever length of time – isn’t necessarily bad. As a matter of fact, it could be exactly what you need.

Why You Should Quit Writing (or at Least Take a Break)

1)      You’re not enjoying yourself. Writing isn’t always fun and games, of course. There’s a lot of hard work involved, not just in terms of craft but in terms of developing psychological resilience (to rejections, bad reviews, poor sales, etc.) But somewhere along the way, you should be getting some satisfaction from the process, and if you aren’t, why do it? Writing might not always make you happy, but in the end, it should leave you feeling fulfilled….

Why You Shouldn’t Quit Writing

1)      Your work is valued (by someone, somewhere). Maybe you don’t have a zillion readers and aren’t getting rich from your writing, but someone out there will read it and enjoy it. It might even change their lives in ways you’ll never know. Your art is a contribution to the world, and the world is a better place because your work is in it.

(2) DREAMHAVEN HIT AGAIN. DreamHaven Books, the Minneapolis bookstore run by Greg Ketter that has already suffered so much from crime, has been broken into again. Ketter told Facebook readers “I’m not sure how much more I can take of this. Another fucking break-in at the store. Broke a window, glass everywhere. Took boxes of comics. Annoying and expensive.”

DreamHaven has been repeatedly victimized. The store was vandalized during the May 2020 riots, with glass broken, bookcases turned over, and a failed attempt to set the place afire. Then, in November 2020, Ketter and an employee were attacked and robbed when they were closing for the night.

(3) STOKER AWARDS ADD CATEGORY. The Horror Writers Association announced a “New Bram Stoker Awards® Category: Superior Achievement in Middle-Grade Novel” which will be given for the first time in 2023.

For purposes of this Award, Middle-Grade novels are defined as novels (see clause IVe) intended for the age group 8-13 with word length beginning at 25,000 words. A Middle-Grade novel that is deemed to be a ‘First Novel’ according to Rule IVf may qualify for consideration in the ‘First Novel’ category (see Rule IVr) if the author insists in writing that the work be considered for ‘First Novel’ rather than ‘Middle-Grade’ novel; otherwise, said novel will remain in the ‘Middle-Grade’ novel category. The work may not be considered for both the ‘First Novel’ and ‘Middle-Grade’ novel categories concurrently.

Works published in 2022 will be the first year eligible for the award and will be presented at the Bram Stoker Awards ceremony in 2023.

(4) HELIOSPHERE MOVES DATES. HELIOsphere 2022 now will be taking place March 25 – 27 at the Radisson Hotel in Piscataway, NJ the committee announced today on Facebook. “This is due to an unfortunate but understandable double-booking by our hotel,” the committee explained. And, “Because of the date change, Seanan McGuire and Chuck Gannon will unfortunately be unable to come this year, but we hope that they will be able to join us in the future. We are looking forward to Guests of Honor Peter David and Kathleen O’Shea David, and may have some other surprises in store, too.”

(5) WHY 2023 SITE SELECTION SHOULD RESHAPE 2022 HUGO ELECTORATE. All the fans who bought supporting memberships in DisCon III so they would be eligible to vote for Chengdu in 2023 also acquired the right to cast nominating ballots for the 2022 Hugo Awards, creating an opportunity that the Hugo Book Club Blog discusses in “Hugos Unlike Any Previous”.

The 2022 Hugo Awards seem likely to be unlike any previous Hugos, because the Hugo-nominating constituency will be unlike any previous.

As far as we are aware, there has yet to be a Worldcon in which the largest single contingent of the membership came from anywhere other than the United States. Likewise, as far as we can determine, there has yet to be a Hugo Awards at which the plurality of votes came from anywhere other than the United States.

… The vast majority of these memberships were bought by people who have never previously participated in voting on the Hugo Awards, as this will be their first Worldcon memberships. And excitingly, they will be eligible to nominate works for the Hugos in 2022. Given that there are usually little more than 1,000 nominating ballots cast in a given year, these supporting members of Discon III could have an enormous influence on what makes the ballot at the Chicago Worldcon. We encourage them to nominate…. 

(6) DALEK AT THE FRONT DOOR. “The Doctor Who treasure trove in a Northumberland village cellar” is what the Guardian calls Neil Cole’s Museum of Classic Sci-Fi.

At first glance the Northumberland village of Allendale, with its pub and post office and random parking, is like hundreds of sleepy, charming villages across the UK. It’s the Dalek that suggests something out of the ordinary.

Behind the Dalek is a four-storey Georgian townhouse. In the cellar of the house is a remarkable and unlikely collection of more than 200 costumes, props and artwork telling classic sci-fi stories of Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, Star Trek, Flash Gordon, Marvel and many more.

Together they make up the collection of one of Britain’s most eccentric small museums, one of many to be effectively forced into hibernation because of the pandemic.

Most are run on a shoestring. Not all of them will reopen. But Neil Cole, a teacher and creator of the Museum of Classic Sci-Fi, is cheerfully optimistic about the future.

“The closure has allowed me to restructure the museum and create more space,” he says. “In a way it has been useful because it has given me time I don’t normally get.

“I’ve made the best of it. I don’t have a lot of money but I have got a lot of energy and I do everything myself.”…

(7) BUSTED. Margaret Atwood was one of the authors targeted in this phishing scheme. “F.B.I. Arrests Man Accused of Stealing Unpublished Book Manuscripts” reports the New York Times.

They were perplexing thefts, lacking a clear motive or payoff, and they happened in the genteel, not particularly lucrative world of publishing: Someone was stealing unpublished book manuscripts.

The thefts and attempted thefts occurred primarily over email, by a fraudster impersonating publishing professionals and targeting authors, editors, agents and literary scouts who might have drafts of novels and other books.

The mystery may now be solved. On Wednesday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Filippo Bernardini, a 29-year-old rights coordinator for Simon & Schuster UK, saying that he “impersonated, defrauded, and attempted to defraud, hundreds of individuals” over five or more years, obtaining hundreds of unpublished manuscripts in the process.

…According to the indictment, to get his hands on the manuscripts, Mr. Bernardini would send out emails impersonating real people working in the publishing industry — a specific editor, for example — by using fake email addresses. He would employ slightly tweaked domain names like penguinrandornhouse.com instead of penguinrandomhouse.com, — putting an “rn” in place of an “m.” The indictment said he had registered more than 160 fraudulent internet domains that impersonated publishing professionals and companies.

Mr. Bernardini also targeted a New York City-based literary scouting company. He set up impostor login pages that prompted his victims to enter their usernames and passwords, which gave him broad access to the scouting company’s database.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2008 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fourteen years ago at Denvention 3, where Will McCarthy was the Toastmaster, Stardust won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. The other nominated works that year were Heroes, season 1, Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixEnchanted and The Golden Compass. It followed wins for American Gods for Best Novel at  ConJosé, “Coraline” for Best Novella at TorCon 3, “A Study in Emerald” for Best Short Story at Noreascon 4. It would hardly be his last Hugo but that’s a story for another time, isn’t it? Stardust, the novel, was not nominated for a Hugo but it did win a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature.

There’s a superb audio narrative of Neil reading Stardust that I must wholeheartedly recommend. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 6, 1895 Tom Fadden. He’s on the Birthday Honors List for the original  Invasion of the Body Snatchers where his character was one of the first victims to yield to the invaders. It wasn’t his first SFF role as some thirty years before that role, he would make his Broadway debut as Peter Jekyll in The Wonderful Visit based off the novel of the same name by H. G. Wells, who also co-wrote the play. The last note of his that I’ll not was that one of his first television roles was Eben Kent, the man who adopts Kal-El on the first episode of The Adventures of Superman series. (Died 1980.)
  • Born January 6, 1905 Eric Frank Russell. He won the first Hugo Award for Best Short Story at Clevention in 1955 for “Allamagoosa,” published in the May 1955 issue of Astounding Science FictionSinister Barrier, his first novel, appeared in Unknown in 1939, the first novel to appear there. Most of his work has not made to the digital realm yet. What’s you favorite work by him? (Died 1978.)
  • Born January 6, 1954 Anthony Minghella. He adapted his Jim Henson’s The Storyteller scripts into story form which were published in his Jim Henson’s The Storyteller collection. They’re quite excellent actually. (Died 2008.)
  • Born January 6, 1955 Rowan Atkinson, 67. An unlikely Birthday perhaps except for that he was the lead in Doctor Who and The Curse of Fatal Death which I know did not give him the dubious distinction of the shortest lived Doctor as that goes another actor though who I’ve not a clue. Other genre appearances were scant I think (clause inserted for the nit pickers here) though he did play Nigel Small-Fawcett in Never Say Never Again and Mr. Stringer in The Witches which I really like even if the author hates.  
  • Born January 6, 1958 Wayne Barlowe, 64. Artist whose Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials from the late Seventies I still remember fondly. It was nominated at Noreascon 2 for a Hugo but came in third with Peter Nichol’s Science Fiction Encyclopedia garnering the Award that year.  His background paintings have been used in Galaxy QuestBabylon 5John Carter and Pacific Rim to name but a few films. 
  • Born January 6, 1959 Ahrvid Engholm, 63. Swedish conrunning and fanzine fan who worked on many Nasacons as well as on Swecons. Founder of the long running Baltcon. He has many fanzines including Vheckans Avfentyr, Fanytt, Multum Est and others. He was a member of Lund Fantasy Fan Society in the University of Lund.
  • Born January 6, 1960 Andrea Thompson, 62. I’ll not mention her memorable scene on Arli$$ as it’s not genre though it was worth seeing. Her best genre work was as the telepath Talia Winters on Babylon 5. Her first genre role was in Nightmare Weekend which I’ll say was definitely a schlock film. Next up was playing a monster in the short lived Monsters anthology series. She had an one-off on Quantum Leap before landing the Talia Winters gig. Then came Captain Simian & The Space Monkeys. Really. Truly. Her last genre role to date appears to be in the Heroes: Destiny web series. 
  • Born January 6, 1969 Aron Eisenberg. Nog on Deep Space 9. Way after DS9, he’d show up in Renegades, a might-be Trek series loaded with Trek alumni including Nichelle Nichols, Robert Beltran,  Koenig and Terry Farrell. It lasted two episodes. (Died 2019.)

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Off the Mark finds an alternate-world Willie Wonka whose movie is going to be very short.

(11) SPOILER WARNING. Radio Times asks, “Doctor Who: Is Yaz’s gay awakening too little too late?”

…It’s easy to see why such a last-minute development could be seen as tokenistic – a way of keeping Queer fans happy without having to depict an actual romance between the pair, because there simply won’t be enough time now. But could it be that a romantic attraction between Yaz and the Doctor was never planned by writer Chris Chibnall, and that it just emerged from natural chemistry between the actors? And if so, is that such a crime?…

(12) LOOKING BACK. In “Doctor Who spin-off writer on what made Sarah Jane show a ‘big hit’”, Phil Ford shares a key reason with Radio Times.

Premiering in 2007 and running for five series before wrapping up in 2011, The Sarah Jane Adventures (SJA) was created by Doctor Who’s then-showrunner, the fan favourite Russell T Davies. From the second series onwards, Phil Ford was the head writer and co-producer on the Elisabeth Sladen-starring show.

Speaking to RadioTimes.com for our RT Rewind retrospective on The Sarah Jane Adventures, Ford summed up the show’s broad appeal like so: “Russell always was of the opinion there was really no story that you couldn’t tell kids, as long as you told it in the in the correct way.”

“We never really pulled our punches so much on The Sarah Jane Adventures,” Ford added, “and I think that’s one of the things that made it such a big hit with kids and with their parents as well.” Essentially, then, the show’s ability to tell bold stories in an unfiltered way – even stories with hard-hitting, real-life topics – gave the series a resonance that appealed across numerous age groups.

Ford elaborated on that point with a specific example from one of his episodes: “In The Eye of the Gorgon [Ford’s first script for the series], a lot of it is about a woman who has dementia. I remember, very early on, Russell talking about the responsibility that we had, because there would be kids who would have grandparents who were going through the same thing.

“We didn’t want to magically take that away from her through the sci-fi story: it was important to Russell and to us that we were true to the condition. We didn’t want to tell kids, ‘It’s okay, because your grandparents who are suffering awful conditions could be magically made well again’. Telling mature stories and finding the truth was something that we tried to do all the way through.”…

(13) NAME YOUR PRICE FOR DE CAMP COLLECTION. The Publisher’s Pick free ebook program this month is offering The Best of L. Sprague de Camp. “The cart will show the suggested price of $1.99. You may change it to any price including $0.00”

A science fiction collection by one of the all-time greats of science fiction, L. Sprague de Camp. These stories and poems exemplify de Camp’s unique outlook on life and mankind and are told with a quiet but sharp irony that became his trademark. Bold, inventive and humorous, this collection is a must for fans of the writer.

(14) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 48 of the Octothorpe podcast “The Things You Nominate Are All Extremely Unpopular”

John Coxon and Alison Scott are watching cutting-edge TV, and Liz Batty is hungry. We discuss the @HugoAwards, talk about how (not to) get sponsorship for your event, and discuss some upcoming NASFiC bids in the wake of the @chengduworldcon.

The Octothorpe crew also sent along a faux advertising slogan saying “Sponsored by Tyrell: More Human than Human” with the shield of the Tyrell Corporation.

(15) DECLAN FINN. White Ops, a new novel by Dragon Award nominee Declan Finn, will be released January 18 from Richard Paolinelli’s Tuscany Bay Books.

The Pharmakoi rampaged across dozens of star systems, taking on the toughest races in the Galaxy in their campaign of conquest. But they are only the beginning.

Sean Patrick Ryan sees that another race is behind the Pharmakoi expansion; a race that wants to test our galaxy for weakness, and who needs to be eliminated from within. To fight the enemy in the shadows, Sean will put together a strike team to light up the darkness— with nukes if necessary.

They will get the job done at any cost.

Declan Finn is a NYC-based author of thrillers, urban fantasy, and sff. White Ops is available as an ebook from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca. Two more books in the series are on the way: Politics Kills on February 15, and Main Street D.O.A. on March 15.

[Based on a press release sent to File 770, which is happy to honor Finn and Paolinelli’s request to help launch this book.]

(16) FRIENDLY GHOST. Darcy Bell tells about “The House That Was Haunted By Benevolent Ghosts” at CrimeReads. Here is the middle of her anecdote.

…Though the renovation wasn’t finished, they invited friends for a weekend. They half hoped, half didn’t hope, that they would all hear the music, so at least they would have witnesses. But no music sounded, no one heard anything.

Until the next Saturday night, when they were alone . This time it was a man singing “Nessun Dorma,” from Turnadot.

Nessun dorma, said the husband, means: No one can sleep.

The husband wanted to tell someone, he even suggested hiring one of those people who get rid of poltergeists. They could just ask…The wife refused. She worried that if anyone knew she was hallucinating,  they’d think she wasn’t fit to be a mother. She didn’t tell her doctor. They didn’t tell the contractor why they wanted extra insulation between their bedroom and the attic, and anyway, it didn’t muffle the music….

(17) RUSSIAN SPACE MISSIONS THIS YEAR. Nature’s list of “Science events 2022 to watch out for” includes a Russian Luna lander and also Russian–European ExoMars mission with UK Rosalind Franklin rover atop Russian Kazachok platform.

Another epic space journey to watch will be the joint Russian–European ExoMars mission, which is scheduled to blast off in September. It will carry the European Space Agency’s Rosalind Franklin rover to Mars, where it will search for signs of past life. The launch was originally scheduled for 2020, but has been delayed, partly because of issues with the parachutes needed to touch down safely.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Chris Barkley, Ian Randal Strock, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 11/17/21 Our Shelves Shall Not Be Emptied, From Birth Until Life Closes

(1) EVER THE TWAIN SHALL MEET. A genre novel, The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones, has won the 2021 Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award. The award ceremony will be held in person December 1 at the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, CT. The novel also won a Bram Stoker Award this year.

(2) ROOT AND BRANCH. The New Yorker’s Raffi Khatchadourian’s exploration of “How Your Family Tree Could Catch a Killer” ends with a genetic genealogist’s efforts to find the rest of the story about George R.R. Martin’s ancestors which was first explored on the PBS series Finding Your Roots.

…[CeCe] Moore had first encountered the case years earlier, through “Finding Your Roots.” She began working on the show in 2013, after Henry Louis Gates, Jr., heard her speak in Burbank and hired her on the spot. At first, his producers were skeptical, but within a few episodes Moore had established herself as a force. “We have five geneticists who vet her work,” Gates told me. “There were a couple of things she found that were so astonishing to me—I was, like, ‘We’re going to triple-check this,’ and each of the geneticists said, ‘No, CeCe is absolutely right.’ ”

George R. R. Martin had come on the show hoping to learn more about the family of his father, Raymond….

The genetics indicated that Raymond’s father was not Louie [Martin] but another man, an unknown Ashkenazi Jew.

For Martin, the news was wrenching. “It’s uprooting my world here!” he told Gates on the set. “It doesn’t make any sense! So I am descended from mystery?” After the taping, Martin followed the show’s production crew to a local restaurant, wanting to talk more about what they knew. In the years that followed, he and his sisters strove to solve the mystery, to no avail.

It upset Moore that her work, intended to give people a sense of ancestral belonging, had left Martin with only disconnection. She continued to work the case….

And she thinks that she found the answer, which is revealed in the article.

(3) VINDICATED. Nicholas Whyte has been vindicated. It’s about a professional matter, but comes with a little genre-related highlight. Twitter thread starts here. Some excerpts:

 In April and October last year, the Spanish online newspaper OK Diario published two stories including completely false statements about me, in particular about my alleged contacts with Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez, who I have never met or even communicated with….

I complained to the Spanish Comisión de Arbitraje, Quejas y Deontología, which has now published its official decision on the matter, finding completely in my favour and against OK Diario. Sometimes it’s worth pushing back to set the record straight….

OK Diario then complained that they had not had a chance to respond….

Now the Comisión de Arbitraje, Quejas y Deontología del Periodismo reports that in fact OK Diario submitted no evidence whatsoever to support their story, and the Comisión has reinstated its original decision vindicating me. (With a quote from Carl Sagan.)

That quote in the RESOLUCIÓN WHYTE is:

Aunque, siguiendo la conocida máxima del pensador Carl Sagan, “la ausencia de 6 pruebas no es prueba de ausencia”, no es posible pedir al señor Whyte que justifique documentalmente una aseveración negativa.

In English: “The absence of proof is not the proof of absence.”

(4) NATIONAL BOOK AWARD. The National Book Award winners were announced today. None of the works of genre interest won. The full list of winners is here. They will receive $10,000 and a bronze sculpture. See the online video ceremony here.

(5) IN TRANSLATION. Tove Jansson’s Notes From An Island has just been translated into English by Thomas Teal. Read an excerpt at Granta.

… Failing to wait when what you’re waiting for is your own majestic goal, that’s just unforgivable.

What was I thinking that time at Vesuvius? I’d really like to know. I mean, there he was, acting up a bit, and I was there! I was nineteen years old, and I’d waited all my life to see a mountain spitting fire. The moon was out, fireflies too; the earth was aglow – and what did I do? I dutifully took the tourist bus back to the hotel in order to drink my tea and go to bed! Who takes the time to sleep when a thing is finally happening? I could have stayed there all night and had Vesuvius all to myself….

(6) SOCIAL IMMEDIATELY. Don’t Look Up arrives in select theaters December 10 and on Netflix December 24.

Based on real events that haven’t happened – yet. DON’T LOOK UP tells the story of two low-level astronomers who must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth.

(7) BIG BIRD ALMOST EATS MOON. “A partial lunar eclipse, the longest in 580 years, is coming Thursday night”MSN.com has details.

Skywatchers on Thursday night will be treated to a near-total lunar eclipse as the full moon is plunged into the blood-red light cast by Earth’s shadow. The spectacle will be visible from all of North America, with the exception of eastern Greenland, including the entire Lower 48, Alaska and Hawaii, as well as parts of South America and Russia.

Though it’s technically not a total lunar eclipse, it’s about as close as one can get to totality without actually being there. At peak, 97 percent of the moon will be covered by the umbra, or the darkest part of Earth’s shadow. Only a sliver on the bottom left of the moon will remain faintly illuminated.

A striking element of Thursday night’s eclipse will be its duration — 3 hours, 28 minutes and 24 seconds, according to Space.com, which it says makes it the longest partial eclipse in 580 years….

(8) HAVE FUN STORMING THE CASTLE. Going under the hammer in Heritage Auctions’ Books Signature Auction on December 9-10 is this “Princess Bride Production Sign. Circa 1987”. The current bid is $500. Feel free to spend more – as you wish!

(9) ANGRY ROBOT BOOKS PRESENTS. Dan Hanks has been busy celebrating the release of his action-packed, humorous, fantasy adventure, Swashbucklers on November 9 —  “a Ghostbusters meets The Goonies tale of nostalgia for childhood, parenthood, British folklore, and Christmas…but make it less Santa, more Gremlins!”

On November 18 Dan will be hosted by Adam Simcox, author of The Dying Squad a fantasy and crime mash-up, with a spectral police force made up of the recently deceased. See their conversation on YouTube or Facebook beginning 8:00 p.m. GMT / 3:00 p.m. Eastern

Celebrate the long-awaited release of Ghostbusters: Afterlife as they talk about their favourite movies in the series, lots of other 80s gems, the supernatural beings in their books, and general mayhem I suspect! Join the Live Chat on either platform to submit your own favourite Ghostbusters movie, or scene, or indeed any other cult classic from the era you loved!

 (10) GET READY FOR WEIRD TALES CENTENARY. Publishers Weekly reports “Weird Tales Partners with Blackstone Publishing”.

Blackstone Publishing has inked a deal with horror, sci-fi, and fantasy brand Weird Tales and its flagship publication of the same name. Under the agreement, Blackstone will publish 50 books under the Weird Tales Presents brand over the course of five years, including original novels, anthologies, and compilations. Blackstone will publish the books in print, e-book, and audiobook editions.

Blackstone will also distribute the digital and audio versions of the Weird Tales magazine. The first novel under the new partnership is set to be released in fall 2022, followed by 100 Year Weird Tales Commemorative Anthology, which reimagines original works from the 1920s and 30s, in fall 2023. 

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2001 — Twenty years ago the Justice League animated series premiered on the Cartoon Network. It was the seventh series of the DC Animated Universe. The series ended after just two seasons, but was followed by the Justice League Unlimited, another series which aired for an additional three seasons.  It’s largely based off the Justice League created by editor Sheldon Mayer and writer Gardner Fox in the Sixties.  

It has a stellar primary voice cast of George Newbern as  Superman / Clark Kent, Kevin Conroy as Batman / Bruce Wayne,  Michael Rosenbaum as The Flash / Wally West, Phil LaMarr as Green Lantern / John Stewart, Susan Eisenberg  as Maria Canals-Barrera as Hawkgirl / Shayera Hol, Carl Lumbly as Martian Manhunter / John Jones  and Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman / Princess Diana. In a neat piece of later casting, Lumbly will be J’onn J’onnz’s father, M’yrnn in the Arrowverse and on Supergirl

It lasted for fifty-two episodes and featured scripts from such writers as John Ridley, Dwayne McDuffie, Pail Dini, Butch Lukic and Ernie Altbacker. 

It received universal acclaim and IGN lists it among the best animated series ever done. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a near perfect ninety-eight percent rating. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 17, 1925 Raymond Jones. Best remembered for This Island Earth, which of course became the basis of the Fifties film. He didn’t win any Hugos but was nominated for two — the first at NyCon 3 for “Rat Race” and the second, a Retro Hugo, for “Correspondence Course” at L.A.con III. SFE calls Renaissance: A Science Fiction Novel of Two Human Worlds his best novel. (Died 1994.)
  • Born November 17, 1931 Dennis McHaney. Pulp writers in particular seem to attract scholars, both amateur and professional. Robert E. Howard was not an exception. So I give you this individual who between 1974 and 2008 published The Howard Review and The Howard Newsletter. Oh, but that was hardly all he did as he created such pubs as The Fiction of Robert E. Howard – A Pocket ChecklistRobert E. Howard in Oriental Stories, Magic Carpet and The Souk and The Fiction of Robert E. Howard: A Quick Reference Guide. A listing of his essays and other works would take an entire page. It has intriguing listings such as Frazetta Trading CardsThe Short, Sweet Life and Slow Agonizing Death of a Fan’s Magazine and The Films of Steve Reeves. (Died 2011.)
  • Born November 17, 1936 John Trimble, 85. Husband of Bjo Trimble. He has assisted her in almost all of her SF work, including Project Art Show. They were GoHs at ConJose, the 2002 Worldcon. He’s a member of LASFS. He’s been involved in far too many fanzines and APAs too list here.
  • Born November 17, 1943 Danny DeVito, 78. Oscar-nominated Actor, Director, and Producer whose best-known genre role was as The Penguin in Batman Returns (for which he received a Saturn nomination), but he also had roles in Matilda (which he directed, and which was based on the Roald Dahl novel of the same name), Mars Attacks!Men in BlackBig FishJunior, and the black comedy cult film Death to Smoochy, about an anthropomorphic character actor, which JJ thought was hilarious. He provided the voice for the credential detective Whiskers in Last Action Hero, as well as for characters in Look Who’s Talking NowSpace Jam, the My Little Pony movie, HerculesThe LoraxAnimal Crackers, and  Dumbo.
  • Born November 17, 1966 Ed Brubaker, 55. Comic book writer and artist. Sandman Presents: Dead Boy Detectives I’d consider his first genre work. Later work for DC and Marvel included The Authority, BatmanCaptain AmericaDaredevil, Catwoman and the Uncanny X-Men. If I may single out but one series, it’d be the one he did with writer Greg Rucka which was the Gotham Central series which has been rumored to be in development for TV. It’s Gotham largely without Batman but with the villains so GPD has to deal with them by themselves. Grim and well-done. He’s a member of the writing staff for the Westworld series where he co-wrote the episode “Dissonance Theory” with Jonathan Nolan. 
  • Born November 17, 1978 Rachael McAdams, 43. Primary cast as Clare Abshire in the The Time Traveler’s Wife which was she followed up genre wise by being Irene Adler in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. She also plays Christine Palmer in Dr. Strange. Her sole series work is apparently as Christine Bickwell in the “Atavus High” episode of the Earth: Final Conflict series.
  • Born November 17, 1978 Tom Ellis, 43. Currently playing Lucifer Morningstar in the rather excellent Lucifer series created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg from The Sandman series. It’s quite good. Also had roles in Doctor Who as Tom Milligan in the Tenth Doctor story, “Last of the Time Lords”, Once Upon a TimeMessiahThe Strain and Merlin
  • Born November 17, 1983 Christopher Paolini, 38. He is the author of the Inheritance Cycle, which consists of the books EragonEldestBrisingr, and Inheritance. In December of last year, The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm, the first book in a series called Tales of Alagaësia, was published. A film version of the first novel came out in 2006.

(13) WATERSTONES. The 2021 Waterstones Book of Year shortlist includes some titles of genre interest. See the titles in The Guardian“Cosy crime and Greek myth retellings: the Waterstones book of the year shortlist”.

(14) VOTE FOR AN IRISH BOOK AWARD. The shortlists for the 2021 An Post Irish Book Awards has been announced and the awards are open for voting by anybody with an e-mail address: “An Post Irish Book Awards 2021 shortlists revealed”. There is no SFF category, but they have a crime and thriller category. Plus, Noel King, a poet with whom Cora Buhlert shared a TOC many years ago, is nominated in the poetry category.

(15) THE HUMAN RACES. “Mystery and Prehistory: PW Talks with Jeff Smith” at Publishers Weekly.

Smith returns with Tuki: Fight for Fire (Cartoon Books, Dec.), a comics series that combines research and fantasy, and is set during the period in prehistory when multiple humanoid species coexisted.

Were there places where you had to guess about the science?

The biggest leap I had to make was: Could Tuki talk? There’s debate on either side, scientifically. But when you look at the underside of our ancestors’ skulls, a few million years ago, they had a voice box long enough to modulate sound. Also, molds from inside the skull show they had Broca’s areas, which is a major speech center in the brain. So, if they didn’t have speech, they were the first ones with all the equipment…

(16) IN PLAIN SIGHT. You’re not surprised to learn that Jon Del Arroz is evading his Twitter ban (with more than one account, actually) by posting as “The Real JDA” at the @LeadingHispanic, are you?

(17) AND THE HORSE HE RODE IN ON. Cora Buhlert has penned “The Tale of Declan, Disruptor of Doors”, the misadventures of Declan Finn in Italy retold as a sword and sorcery tale. It harkens back to an indignant rant from that Sad Puppy about his travels abroad during the pandemic.

In an age undreamt of, after the Supreme Lord of Darkness descended from his mountain to lead the Hounds of Sadness in their assault against the sinful cities on the coast, but before the scarlet plague swept the land, there lived in a barbaric country a young bard named Declan.

Declan was a rising star among the bards of his land. His name was spoken with admiration in the taverns and around the camp fires. Last year, he had even been runner-up in the bardic contest of the Great Dragon Atalanta, losing only to Bryan, the Grand Hunter of Witches. Declan was still sore about that…..

(18) HELLO, MASTER CHIEF. A teaser dropped for Halo the Series which is coming to Paramount+ next year.

(19) GHOST-FILL-IN-THE-BLANKERS. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson showed up on Fallon last night and chatted about Ghostbusters and even showed outtakes from the original movie before they secured the rights to use “Ghostbusters” in the title.

(20) HOW IT SHOULD HAVE ENDED. The How It Should Have Ended gang, including Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, takes on Shang-Chi in this video which dropped today.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Nicholas Whyte, Cora Buhlert, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]

Pixel Scroll 4/11/21 On The Scroll I’d Rather Be In Philadelphia

(1) JOCO VIRTUAL CRUISE IN PROGRESS. [Item by Todd Mason.] The Jonathan Coulton Cruise, an annual “fringe”/”geek” cultural floating convention, is this year providing a free online version of the (essentially) convention… “JoCo Virtual Cruise 2021”. It started April 10 and runs through April 14.

A worldwide pandemic may have prevented the physical sailing of JoCo Cruise 2021 from happening, but the spirit of JoCo Cruise SHALL NOT BE DENIED OR CONTAINED. As such, we at The Home Office have uploaded our collective consciousness to the cloud, and JoCo Cruise is going to ride the ones and zeros as JoCo Virtual Cruise 2021.

Concerts, panels, gaming, Shadow Cruise (attendee-run) events, dance parties, a Fancy Pants Parade—all the things you love about JoCo Cruise, packed together and streamed over the Netterwebs for your socially-distanced convenience!

(2) HOOFING THROUGH HISTORY. Jason W. Ellis has posted “Notes on A Science Fiction Walking Tour in New York City”.

Looking ahead to the New York City of Print NEH Summer Institute, I wanted to collect some notes and resources together for Science-Fiction-focused locations around the city, including the original Manhattan-based offices for the magazines Amazing Stories and Astounding Science-Fiction, and home and business locations in Brooklyn of importance to the SF writer Isaac Asimov….

(3) HATE CRIMES IN CAMBRIDGE. [Item by rcade.] The SFF writer/editor Cecilia Tan tweeted Saturday evening that she had just witnessed an assault outside a Cambridge, Massachusetts, bookstore. Thread starts here.

I’m in line to enter the bookstore and there is an Asian American couple in front of me. A white guy in tights wearing a mask goes to walk between us and he just outright punches the Asian guy in the ribs as he goes by!

The Asian guy grabbed his arm and yelled what the hell is wrong with you? The white guy pulled away yelling “what the hell you think is wrong with me?” And then walked away quickly before I could get my phone out to take a photo.

The incident occurred outside Porter Square Books. Tan said the store has security cameras it will be checking for potential footage to provide police.

Tan was walking home from the bookstore when she encountered another hate crime in Porter Square. The Judy Jetson hair salon had a boarded-up window with the words, “You can break our window but you can’t break our Pride.”

The salon’s Instagram feed revealed Friday that someone threw a brick through a window displaying a Pride flag. The salon stated, “Our support for the LGBTQ community will never be silenced.”

(4) HELPING VARLEY. A new post at John Varley’s blog, “Recovering”, announces a GoFundMe to sustain him after his quadruple bypass:

… When I had the heart attack and quadruple by-pass surgery, Spider [Robinson] came to the rescue again. He asked his good friend, Steph Herman, to co-ordinate a fundraising project to help cover costs of rehab, rent and bills which were barely being covered by social security and diminishing royalties.

The “Help John Varley survive his Quadruple Bypass” appeal has raised $27,020 of its $30,000 goal in the first week. When the fund hit the $25K mark Varley and his partner Lee Emmett wrote:

…If he had raised a tenth that much I would still have been stunned. There have been some donations from old friends (and thank you all for that; you know who you are), but the bulk has come from people I don’t know, have never met, and probably will never meet. (Though I would love to.)

To think that my stories have moved so many people … well, it literally chokes me up. After all, I’m just a guy sitting here in the dark, trying to think up stuff that might amuse people … and perhaps a little more if I’m lucky and it all comes together. Being a writer of short stories and novels is a lonely profession. There are no story conferences, no meetings in the writers’ room to hash out the details. There’s just me and this damn blank screen.

Over the years I have had a certain amount of “fan” mail, and it has all been greatly appreciated. But nothing like this. In the end, all I can say is thank you…. 

(5) DIGNITY, ALWAYS DIGNITY. In his autobiography In Joy Still Felt, Isaac Asimov discussed Discon I (1963). He explained that at the last-minute chair George Scithers asked him to replace Theodore Sturgeon as master of ceremonies at the Hugo Awards, also at the last minute.  Asimov explains that he really wanted a Hugo and thought being MC meant he wouldn’t get one.

Finally, there was only one Hugo left to be awarded, and it was labeled ‘Dramatic Award.’  I didn’t think anyone would be interested in that because it would be go to some movie or TV show with no one involved who was personally known to anybody, so I let the audience wait while I launched into a short speech of not-so-mock annoyance.

‘You know why I’ve never had a Hugo?’ I said, waving my fist in the air.  ‘It’s because I’m Jewish, that’s why.  It’s because of anti-Semitic prejudice in high places,  It’s because you’re all a bunch of Nazis.’  Naturally, this got a big laugh, and I opened the envelope and found that the ‘Dramatic Award’ typed on it had been put there as a blind.

The final Hugo, of course was for me.  I started reading, ‘For putting the science in science fiction, Is—‘ and stopped cold.

There wasn’t any question I was surprised.  The day never existed when I could fake that look of stunned astonishment on my face,  The audience roared; it roared for ten minutes.  When everyone died down and I caught my breath, George handed me my Hugo and I said, ‘You’ve ruined my shtick, damn it.’  (I tried to feign indignation, but I was smiling all over.  I was delighted.)

Apparently Ted Sturgeon had been chosen master of ceremonies because they wanted to give me a Hugo, and apparently he had been kept away by family difficulties.

I said, ‘Then why did you ask me to be master of ceremonies, George?  There were plenty of other choices.’

‘Oh well,’ said George, ‘we thought it would be funnier that way, but I have to admit no one ever dreamed you would lead up to it so beautifully.’

I said, ‘Don’t you think it would look peculiar to have me give a Hugo to myself?’

‘Sure,’ said George, ‘but the committee decided you were the only writer in science fiction who could give himself a Hugo without being embarrassed,’

“Wiseguy,’ I said–but he was probably right.

(6) MASLOW’S FOUNDATION. Horror Writers Association members have been passing around the link to “Maslow’s pyramid of code review” (2015) since it was tweeted by Space & Time’s Leonard Speiser. Originally aimed at writers of computer code, Angela Yuriko Smith’s reinterpretation for fiction authors is here: “Maslow’s Pyramid Of Code—Writer Mod”.

…The layers are correct, secure, readable, elegant with the pinnacle of accomplishment as altruist. I have printed this pyramid and have pinned it to my wall so I can evaluate my own manuscripts with it. It’s beautiful, simple and it makes sense. You can see Dein’s original post referring to Maslow’s Pyramid of code here. Here’s my modified version for writers and poets:

Any piece of writing should be:

  1. Correct: does the written work do what it’s supposed to? Has it been edited and formatted? Have the redundancies been weeded out? Is it as correct as possible? Have run on sentences and passive voice been eradicated?
  2. Secure: does the written work have vulnerabilities? Is it stored in the cloud, or backed up on your computer? Do you need a hard copy? Do you save on an external drive?
  3. Readable: is the written work easy to read and comprehend? Are there plot holes and lapses in logic? Does the dialogue feel natural? Is the world believable? Can the reader follow along and understand what you wish to communicate?
  4. Elegant: does the written work leverage well-known patterns? Does it make use of balanced syntax? Is there texture, rhythm and a variety of adjectives? Does the piece flow, bringing the reader along for the ride or must they struggle to stay afloat in the text? Is there a compelling start and satisfying end?
  5. Altruist: does the written work leave the humanities better than what they were? Does it inspire other writers to improve their work as well? Is it cleaning up unneeded bias, improving diversity, introducing better writing through worn out trope refactoring? Does it have a purpose beyond ego, whether this is to teach, enlighten or entertain?

(7) SLF NEEDS JURORS. The Speculative Literature Foundation is calling for volunteer jurors to help read applications for the Older Writers Grant.

Ideally, we’re looking for people who are well read in speculative fiction, but we’d also like a mix of readers, writers, librarians, teachers, editors, etc. who are capable of judging literary quality in a work.

Please include the grant you wish to be a juror for and a paragraph about what your qualifying background is to serve as a juror: for example, your interest in / connection to the field. (i.e., “I’m an ardent reader!” or “I’ve been writing SF/F for seven years…”). Please feel free to ask any questions you may have as well.

Finally, we’re offering a tiny honorarium of $25 — it’s not much, but enough to buy a nice dinner as a reward for your labors!

If interested, please send a brief note to L.D. Lewis (lekesha@speculativeliterature.org) with the subject line: JUROR.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • April 11, 1986 –On this day in 1986, The Toxic Avenger was released nationally two years after it premiered in New York City. It directed by Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman (who is credited here as Samuel Weil) as written by Kaufman and Joe Ritter. It was the first installment of The Toxic Avenger franchise which would encompass three more films, a Marvel Comics series and a short lived children’s animated series. Mitch Kessler was the Toxic Avenger with his voice  provided by Kenneth Kessler. Critics at the time ranged in their opinions from disgusted to delighted with the mainstream ones decidedly not liking it; it currently holds an excellent approval rating of sixty three percent  among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. Kaufman and Herz are currently attached to a reboot with Peter Dinklage in the lead role.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born April 11, 1883 – Camille Marbo.  Won the Prix Femina, later served on its jury, then its president.  Commander of the Legion of Honor.  Medal of French Gratitude for war work. With her husband mathematician Émile Borel, founded La revue du mois (“Review of the month”), scientific & literary.  Friend of Marie Curie.  Three times president of the Société des gens de lettres.  Of her forty books, novels, monographs, memoirs, I know of only one translated into English, The Man Who Survived; it is ours and a masterwork.  (Died 1969) [JH]
  • Born April 11, 1892 – William Timlin.  The Ship That Sailed to Mars (hello, David Levine) really does have to be enough for us, because WT never finished The Building of a Fairy City.  Luckily The Ship is superb.  You can get it on paper if you look hard – even the 1977 Easton Press ed’n is plenty rare – but quick and cheap for Kindle in English, Spanish, Japanese.  The Wayback Machine’s has a hint of WT’s calligraphy.  Here is the ship’s arrival.  Here is the finished palace of the princess.  Here is another moment.  This is from The Building.  (Died 1943) [JH]
  • Born April 11, 1920Peter O’Donnell. Best remembered as the creator of Modesty Blaise of whom EoSF says her “agility and supple strength are sufficiently exceptional for her to be understood as a Superhero.” O’Donnell also wrote the screenplay of The Vengeance of She based on H. Rider Haggard’s Ayesha: The Return of She novel. (Died 2010.) (CE) 
  • Born April 11, 1941 – Gene Szafran.  Fourscore covers.  Here is Double Star.  Here is Down in the Black Gang.  Here is To Ride Pegasus.  Here is Bridge of Ashes.  Here is Beyond the Beyond.  (Died 2011) [JH]
  • Born April 11, 1949 Melanie Tem. She was the wife of genre author Steve Rasnic Tem. A prolific writer of both novels and short stories, she considered herself a dark fantasy writer, not a horror writer. Bryant, King and Simmonds all praised her writing. If I had to make recommends, I’d say start with Blood MoonWitch-Light (co-written with Nancy Holder) and Daughters done with her husband. ”The Man on the Ceiling” won her a World Fantasy Award.  She died of cancer which recurred after she’d been in remission. (Died 2015.) (CE) 
  • Born April 11, 1953Byron Preiss. Writer, editor and publisher. He founded and served as president of Byron Preiss Visual Publications, and later of ibooks Inc. If I remember correctly, ibooks was the last publisher for Zelazny for most of his books. Any idea what happened to those rights after ibooks went into receivership?  The only book I can find him writing is the children’s novel Dragonworld which is co-authored with Michael Reaves who was involved in including Gargoyles and Batman: The Animated Series. (Died 2005.) (CE) 
  • Born April 11, 1951 – James Patrick Kelly, age 70.  Five novels, a hundred shorter stories, a dozen poems.  Two Hugos, one Nebula.  “On the Net” in Asimov’s, and for twenty years a story there every June.  Interviewed in ClarkesworldLightspeedStrange Horizons.  His Website says “I’ve left some things for you here.  Take whatever you want.  Remember me.”  [JH]
  • Born April 11, 1955Julie Czerneda, 66. She won the Prix Aurora Award for her Company of Others novel. She also received one for Short Form in English for her “Left Foot on A Blind Man” Story, both early in her career.  She has a long running series, The Clan Chronicles which is as sprawling as anything Martin conceived. (CE) 
  • Born April 11, 1957 – Marina Fitch, age 64.  Three novels (alas, Let Us Prey is lost in the German Laßt uns jagen), a dozen shorter stories.  Loves rubber-stamp art, bicycling, Celtic harp & harmonica duets with her husband.  [JH]
  • Born April 11, 1963Greg Keyes, 58. Best known for The Age of Unreason tetralogy, a steampunk and magical affair featuring Benjamin Franklin and Isaac Newton. He also wrote The Psi Corps Trilogy and has done a lot of other media tie-in fiction including Pacific RimStar WarsPlanet of The ApesIndependence Day and Pacific Rim. His Age of Unreason series (Newton’s CannonA Calculus of AngelsEmpire of Unreason and The Shadows of God) was nominated for a Sidewise Award.  (CE) 
  • Born April 11, 1973 – Jon Evans, age 48. Two novels for us (Arthur Ellis Award, Foreword Book of the Year), four others; travel to a hundred countries; software engineering.  Writes for The Times of IndiaThe Globe and Mail, The WalrusTechCrunch.  Founding director of the GitHub Archive Program.  [JH]
  • Born April 11, 1974Tricia Helfer, 47. She is best known for playing the Cylon model Number Six the rebooted Battlestar Galactica series and voicing Sarah Kerrigan in StarCraft II gaming franchise. She played Charlotte Richards aka the Goddess of All Creation on Lucifer. She also voiced Boodikka in Green Lantern: First Flight, and had one-offs in SupernaturalWarehouse 13, the unsold 17th Precinct pilot, a recurring voice role in The Spectacular Spider-ManChuckHuman TargetTron: UprisingThe Librarians and apparently played Dracula once in Van Helsing. (CE) 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Get Fuzzy plays with movie titles in what Daniel Dern assures is “fan-type-humor.” It would certainly fit in here.
  • “Off the Mark” shows what the term “superspreader” brings to the Mark Parisi’s mind.

(11) ALL ABOARD. Now that there will be an in-person Worldcon this year, there will be a Traincon from Chicago to the Worldcon and back announced “Conductor” Bill Thomasson. A Traincon 6 Facebook group is hosting discussions and providing an alternative source of updates.

DisCon III will take place in Washington, DC, from Wednesday, December 15, through Sunday, December 19. This news is very recent and I won’t be looking at the details of Traincon organization until after Amtrak resumes regular service next month, but I wanted to give you a heads up. My tentative plan, if the timing works, is to maximize the rail experience by taking the Cardinal in one direction and the Capitol Limited in the other. I am also contemplating the possibility of giving us a full free day in DC to check out all the wonderful tourist attractions in that city (or to assist the con with load-in/load-out if that is your thing). I would be interested in hearing whether you would prefer that free day before or after the con.

As usual, the group ticket discount will depend on how many people sign up, but I don’t yet know the details of how Amtrak will be handling group reservations in 2021. Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to a really great trip and to a great Worldcon. Hope to see
you there!

(12) SHE BITES. BoingBoing has scoured the internet for these examples of “The Profound Eldritch Horror Of Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’”.

There are apparently a bunch of different, totally unconnected people who have made their own Lovecraftian versions of “Jolene.” 

(13) SERCON. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Time to say something about Perry Middlemiss’ zine The Alien Review which showed up on eFanzines last week. It’s a new zine edited by Perry Middlemiss that…wait for it…DISCUSSES AND REVIEWS SCIENCE FICTION. Is that legal?

The first issue has reviews (Piranesi, The Ministry For The Future, a batch of 2020 novellas, and sff award winners from 2019) along with other pieces, including a reprint of a Leigh Edmonds article from 1971.

(14) DOGWHISTLE. Dammit, these books won’t slate themselves. Three-time Dragon Award finalist Declan Finn tries to fire up his colleagues in “Enter: the Dragons”.

Last year for the Dragon awards, many people in my circles hated the finalists.

And trust me, I mean it when I say that they hated the finalists. There was one caveat to that, but that’s all I recall.

My response was simple

“DUH! Why do you think I try to have this discussion EVERY MONTH FOR HALF THE YEAR? YOU THINK I LIKE THIS? IF I WANTED IT FOR MYSELF, I’D ONLY TALK ABOUT MYSELF.” [Insert sound of hair pulling and rage]

Ahem.

(15) YOU SPIN ME ROUND. Smithsonian says get your Ingenuity merch now! Mars Ingenuity Collection.

Celebrate the Ingenuity helicopter making history as the first powered flight on another planet — Mars!

(16) KEEPING AN EYE ON THINGS.  In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport notes how companies such as SpaceX and OneWeb are flooding space with satellites “no bigger than a shoe box” and how these small satellites are improving communications and aiding the reporting on climate change. “Satellites becoming smaller, less expensive in revolution of space business”.

The avalanche was a stunning disaster, 247 million cubic feet of glacial ice and snow hurtling down the Tibetan mountain range at 185 mph. Nine people and scores of animals were killed in an event that startled scientists around the world.

As they researched why the avalanche occurred with such force, a team of researchers studying climate change pored over images taken in the days and weeks before and saw ominous cracks had begun to form in the ice and snow. Then, scanning photos of a nearby glacier, they noticed similar crevasses forming, touching off a scramble to warn local authorities that it was also about to come crashing down.The images of the glaciers in 2016 came from a constellation of satellites no bigger than a shoe box, in orbit 280 miles up. Operated by San Francisco-based company Planet, the satellites, called Doves, weigh just over 10 pounds each and fly in “flocks” that today include 175 satellites. If one fails, the company replaces it, and as better batteries, solar arrays and cameras become available, the company updates its satellites the way Apple unveils a new iPhone….

(17) YOU ARE VERY QUALIFIED. Mind Matters introduces another DUST short in “Sci-fi Saturday: When “The Workplace” Is Anything But”.

This sci-fi short will appeal to many who have had a job at the corner of Rat and Race and sense that’s a blessing compared to the alternative. It starts with a woman reassuring herself, “I AM the boss,” and cuts to her interviewing a job candidate who seems off-putting at first but appears qualified — and then things get weird.

Don’t miss the scene where the new employee is shown around the office as if he had spent all his life in the wilderness and had never been in a conventional 21st century office before. And then the awful truth begins to dawn…

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Star Trek Spinoff” on Saturday Night Live explains what happens when cadets from “small, exclusive Starfleet Academy” show up on the bridge during a crisis.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/22/21 Enzyme Summer

(1) KEEP YOUR EYE ON THAT PALANTIR. An insurrectionist wants a federal District Court to force the U.S. to adopt an interim government from the history of Middle-Earth: “Paul Davis Cites ‘Lord of the Rings’ in Lawsuit, Declares ‘Gondor Has No King’” – the case is briefed by Law and Crime.

Paul M. Davis, the Texas lawyer who was fired from his in-house counsel job after he recorded himself among a mob at the U.S. Capitol Complex on Jan. 6, has filed legal documents which set a new floor for legal embarrassment in U.S. jurisprudence. The documents employ a series of awkward references to — and ideas from — the temporary government of the Kingdom of Gondor in The Lord of the Rings.

Davis’s lawsuit bombastically attempts to assert that Joe Biden is not a legitimate president and that a rightful heir to that office will someday return. Until then, the case foolishly argues that a federal judge might be able to appoint a group of “stewards” from the cabinet of former President Donald Trump to run most of the government from the White House. That should occur, the lawsuit lawlessly speculates, after the Secret Service escorts Biden and his wife out of the executive residence at the order of a federal judge.

…After a few lines of formalities, a six-page Amended Motion filed Thursday argued yet again for a restraining order.

“Gondor has no King,” the document says in its second paragraph, “to invoke a very appropriate quote from the J.R.R. Tolkien epic classic, ‘Lord of the Rings.’”

A footnote explains the analogy:

During the course of the epic trilogy, the rightful King of Gondor had abandoned the throne. Since only the rightful king could sit on the throne of Gondor, a steward was appointed to manage Gondor until the return of the King, known as “Aragorn,” occurred at the end of the story. This analogy is applicable since there is now in Washington, D.C., a group of individuals calling themselves the President, Vice President, and Congress who have no rightful claim to govern the American People. Accordingly, as set forth in the Proposed Temporary Restraining Order, as a remedy the Court should appoint a group of special masters (the “Stewards”) to provide a check the power of the illegitimate President until this Constitutional Crisis can be resolved through a peaceful legal process of a Preliminary Injunction Hearing and a jury trial on the merits.

(2) INAUGURATION DAY PRESENTS. More examples of the Bernie Sanders meme. First, where he’s dropped into fine art: “Bernie Sanders Stars in Art History’s Greatest Works in New Viral Meme” at ARTnews.

…A cascade of similar images soon followed. The art historian Michael Lobel made a version in which Sanders inside a moody café from Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks—itself the subject of one of the more memorable Covid-era memes—and others placed the senator within iconic works by Sandro Botticelli, Vincent van Gogh, ASCO, Joseph Beuys, and Georges Seurat. (A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grand Jatte with Bernie, anyone?) There was even a version where Sanders appeared seated atop a stylite column that appeared first in a 5th century Byzantine manuscript.

But no version of the newest Sanders joke proved more memorable than one created by the writer R. Eric Thomas, who inset him facing Marina Abramovi? for one famous performance that appeared at the Museum of Modern Art in 2010. MoMA picked it up, tweeting, “Bernie is present.” Something about Thomas’s rendition may help explain its charm. In most pictures of The Artist Is Present, Abramovi?’s steely eyes meet her viewer, almost daring anyone who sits before to look away. But in the meme version, Sanders looks away from her, his eyes cast toward the floor. In this meme, there seems to be a willful disregard of something that was construed by many as being great—an anti-establishment spirit that befits Sanders’s own views.

Then, StarTrek.com also ginned up some silly ones: “#BernieBeams into the Captain’s Chair”.

(3) COURT DECIDES AGAINST PARLER. “Amazon can keep Parler offline, judge rules” – the Seattle Times has the story.

… On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein said that forcing Amazon to get Parler back online goes against the public interest, given “the kind of abusive, violent content at issue in this case, particularly in light of the recent riots at the U.S. Capitol.”

“That event was a tragic reminder that inflammatory rhetoric can — more swiftly and easily than many of us would have hoped — turn a lawful protest into a violent insurrection,” she wrote. “The Court rejects any suggestion that the public interest favors requiring AWS to host the incendiary speech that the record shows some of Parler’s users have engaged in.”

Amazon welcomed the judge’s ruling. In a statement, the company issued a rejoinder to critics who have said Amazon infringed on Parler’s First Amendment rights when it suspended Parler’s account.

“This was not a case about free speech,” the statement said. “It was about a customer that consistently violated our terms of service by allowing content to be published on their website that actively encouraged violence (and without an effective plan to moderate it).” …

(4) WILL GOOGLE GO? “Google threatens to leave Australia because of new media law” reports the Washington Post.

… The threat is the latest and most intense in a long-running battle that has pitted Australian lawmakers and news organizations against U.S.-based tech giants Google and Facebook. For years, news organizations in Australia have argued they should be paid when Internet companies aggregate news stories on their websites. Google and Facebook say their sites help people find news, and the resulting traffic to news websites is valuable on its own.The proposed media law would force the tech companies to negotiate with media companies on payments for previewing and linking to their content. If they can’t reach a deal, a government regulator would step in to set the rates. That arrangement is untenable, Mel Silva, the head of Google in Australia and New Zealand, said in prepared testimony released ahead of the hearing Friday. …The idea that Google should pay for showing news in its search results is not new. In Spain, Google shut down its news aggregation website in 2014 after the country passed a law requiring online platforms that profit off news links to share their revenue with media companies. Just this week, Google agreed to negotiate payments to French publishers.

In the United States, Google is facing multiple federal and state antitrust lawsuits that allege the company has used its domination of online search to benefit its other businesses and push out competitors.

“It seems very peculiar to me that effectively Google wants to blackmail Australian consumers and policymakers with threats to go ahead and leave this jurisdiction when these discussions are happening all around the world, including in the U.S. itself,” Australian Sen. Andrew Bragg said during the Senate hearing, which was broadcast remotely.

(5) WOTC LITIGATION ENDS. The lawsuit creators Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman filed against Wizards of the Coast last fall was settled without trial in December. “Dragonlance Writers End Lawsuit Against Dungeons & Dragons Maker” reported Comicbook.com.

A surprising lawsuit involving the seminal writers of the Dragonlance novels and the parent company of Dungeons & Dragons has seemingly ended. Last week, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, the primary authors behind the popular Dragonlance novels, filed to voluntarily dismiss their lawsuit against Wizards of the CoastWeis and Hickman filed the lawsuit in US District Court earlier this year, alleging that Wizards of the Coast breached a licensing contract to write a trilogy of new Dragonlance books by informing the pair’s publisher that they were no longer moving forward with the books without explanation. The duo, who claimed that a Dragonlance novel was already completed and that substantial work had begun on a second book, sought up to $10 million in damages in the initial lawsuit.

The filing noted that Wizards of the Coast had not formally answered their lawsuit, nor had they filed for a summary judgement. As Weis and Hickman filed for a dismissal without prejudice, the duo could hypothetically re-file their lawsuit at a later date.

(6) QUESTION TIME. Octothorpe is a podcast from John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty about science fiction and SF fandom. In episode 23, “A Lot of Foreshadowing”, the three “discuss the recent debate over the Hugo Awards and DisCon III’s approach to the same, before touching on some upcoming fannish events.” One segment is provocatively titled, “Are the Hugos a massive cankerous boil on the Worldcon that just needs to be completely purged?”

(7) FURLAN OBIT. Actress Mira Furlan, who gained fame playing Delenn on Babylon 5 and Danielle Rousseau on Lost, died January 20 at the age of 65. The Variety tribute is here.

Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski gave a deeply emotional eulogy:  

… We’ve known for some time now that Mira’s health was failing…I’m not sure that this is the right time or place to discuss the sheer randomness of what happened…and have all been dreading this day. We kept hoping that she would improve. In a group email sent to the cast a while back, I heard that she might be improving.

Then came the call from Peter Jurasik. “I wanted you to know that Goran’s bringing Mira home,” he said.

“Do you mean, he’s bringing her home as in she’s better now, or is he bringing her home as in he’s bringing her home?”

“He’s bringing her home, Joe,” Peter said, and I could hear the catch in his voice as he said it.

And as a family, we held our counsel, and began the long wait, which has now ended.

Mira was a good and kind woman, a stunningly talented performer, and a friend to everyone in the cast and crew of Babylon 5, and we are all devastated by the news. The cast members with whom she was especially close since the show’s end will need room to process this moment, so please be gentle if they are unresponsive for a time. We have been down this road too often, and it only gets harder.

Bruce Boxleitner also mourned on Facebook:

…We have lost a light in our galaxy, but another has gained one. I will miss our talks, our laughs, our deep discussions about Hollywood and life. I will miss our dinners and trips abroad. I will miss the way her eyes sparkled when she smiled. I will miss her captivating voice and contagious laughter. I will miss sharing with her one of the most gratifying experiences of my life: the relationship between Sheridan and Delenn.

(8) SAUNDERS APPRECIATION. The New York Times obituary of the famous fantasy writer has appeared: “A Black Literary Trailblazer’s Solitary Death: Charles Saunders, 73”. He died last May, and as reported here on January 1, had been buried in an unmarked grave until friends raised money for a headstone. The Times has an extensive obituary with photos and book covers.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAYS.

  • January 22, 1984 Airwolf premiered on CBS where it would run for three seasons before moving to USA for a fourth season. Airwolf was created by Donald P. Bellisario who also created Quantum Leap and Tales of The Golden Monkey, two other great genre series. It starred Jan-Michael Vincent, Jean Bruce Scott. Ernest Borgnine, Alex Cord and Jean Bruce Scott. It airs sporadically in syndication and apparently has not developed enough of a following to get a Rotten Tomatoes rating.
  • January 22, 2000 Cleopatra 2525 first aired in syndication. It was created by R.J. Stewart and Robert G. Tapert. Many who aired it do so as part of the Back2Back Action Hour, along with Jack of All Trades. The primary cast of this SF with chicks not wearing much series was Gina Torres of later Firefly fame, Victoria Pratt and Jennifer Sky. (A sexist statement? We think you should take a look at the show.)  it would last two seasons and twenty episodes, six episodes longer than Jack of All Trades. (Chicks rule?) it gets a 100% rating by its audience reviewers at a Rotten Tomatoes though the aggregate critics score is a much lower 40%. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 22, 1788 – George Gordon, 6th Baron Byron.  Mad, bad, and dangerous to know; but, as George Szell said of Glenn Gould, “that nut is a genius”.  Wrote fantasy among much else, e.g. “Darkness”The Giaour, Manfred.  It could be said that his rhymes were fantastic – “And sell you, mixed with western sentimentalism, / Some samples of the finest Orientalism” (Beppo, Stanza LI).  (Died 1824) [JH]
  • Born January 22, 1906 Robert E. Howard. He’s best remembered for his characters Conan the Barbarian and Solomon Kane, less so for Kull, and is widely regarded as the father of the sword and sorcery subgenre. His Cthulhu mythos stories are quite good. I believe all of these were published in Weird Tales.  If you’re interested in reading him on your slate, you’re in luck as all the usual suspects are deep stockers of him at very reasonable prices. (Died 1936.) (CE) 
  • Born January 22, 1925 – Katherine MacLean.  Five novels, fifty shorter stories.  One Nebula.  Guest of Honor at WisCon 1. Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award.  Interviewed in NY Review of SF.  (Died 2019) [JH] 
  • Born January 22, 1934 Bill Bixby. Principal casting in several genre series, first in My Favorite Martian as Tim O’Hara, a young newspaper reporter for the LA Sun who discovers that alien, and then as Dr. David Banner in The Incredible Hulk seriesand in both The Incredible Hulk Returns and The Death of the Incredible Hulk films.  He shows up in a number of other genre series including Fantasy IslandTales of the UnexpectedNight GalleryThe Ghost & Mrs. Muir and The Twilight Zone (original version). He also had the lead as Anthony Blake / Anthony Dorian in The Magician series but as he was a stage illusionist, I couldn’t count it as genre… (Died 1993.) (CE)
  • Born January 22, 1940 John Hurt.  I rarely grieve over the death of one individual but his death really hurt. I liked him. It’s rare that someone comes along like Hurt who is both talented and is genuinely good person that’s easy to like.  If we count his role as Tom Rawlings in The Ghoul, Hurt had an almost fifty year span in genre films and series. He next did voice work in Watership Down where he voiced Hazel and The Lord of the Rings as the voice of Aragon before appearing as Kane, the first victim, in Alien. Though not genre, I must comment his role as Joseph Merrick in The Elephant Man — simply remarkable. He had the lead as Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four and had a cameo as that character in Spaceballs. He narrates Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound and will later be one of two of the narrators of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller. That role is simply magnificent. Ok, I’m just at 1994. He’s about to be S.R. Hadden in Contact. Did you remember he played Garrick Ollivander In Harry Potter films? You certainly remember him as Trevor Bruttenholm in the Hellboy films, all four of them in total. He’s in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as Dr. Harold Oxley, one of the few decent things about that film. Series wise, he’s been around. I’ve got him in Spectre, a Roddenberry occult detective pilot that I’ve not seen. On the Merlin live action series, he provides the voice of the Great Dragon. It’s an amazing role for him. And fitting that he’s a dragon, isn’t it? And of course he played The War Doctor. It, despite the brevity of the screen time, was a role that he seemed destined to play. Oh for an entire series of stories about His Doctor! Big Finish, the audiobook company, had the singular honor of having him flesh out his character in a series of stories that he did with them just before his death. I’ve heard some, they’re quite remarkable. If I’ve missed anything about him that you feel I should’ve touched upon, do tell me. (Died 2017.) (CE)
  • Born January 22, 1951 – Donna Ball, age 70.  Eight novels for us as D. Boyd, Rebecca Flanders; ninety all told, with other pen names too.  Award-winning dog trainer.  [JH]
  • Born January 22, 1962 – Alison Spedding, Ph.D., age 59.  Author and anthropologist.  Three historical-fantasy novels; one science fiction in Spanish; three other novels in Spanish; shorter stories, a play, nonfiction.  While living in Bolivia criticized the government; imprisoned, many fellow academics thinking it political; released on a surety.  [JH]
  • Born January 22, 1972 – Stephen Graham Jones, Ph.D., age 49.  Nine novels for us (about The Only Good Indians last year, which caught the attention of the NY Times Book Review, note that SGJ is himself Blackfeet), a dozen others; ninety shorter stories for us, two hundred others.  Texas Institute of Letters Award.  Stoker Award.  Professor of English at Univ. Colorado, Boulder.  See this from the ReaderCon 30 Program Book.  Special Guest at World Fantasy Con 2020.  [JH]
  • Born January 22, 1982 – Janci Patterson, age 39.  A dozen novels for us, a score of others; some with co-authors including Brandon Sanderson.  Customizes Barbie dolls, watches “reality” television.  [JH]

(11) SUPER AUCTION ITEM. You have until January 28 to bid on a “Fantastic 1941 Letter Signed by Jerry Siegel, Thanking Sheldon Mayer for Promoting ’Superman’’’. Current bid is $783.

Excellent letter by Jerry Siegel, creator of ”Superman”, thanking comic pioneer Sheldon Mayer for promoting the comic before it was published in ”Action Comics #1” in 1938. Dated 18 September 1941, letter reads in part, ”Dear Sheldon: I may be coming to New York inside a few weeks and I hope we can get together at that time and curse the comic business to our heart’s content.

Again I want to thank you for all you’ve done to help make SUPERMAN what it is. I’m very much afraid that if it weren’t for a chap named Sheldon Mayer, as far as syndication is concerned SUPERMAN might still be gathering dust, and Joe [Shuster] and I would be working for a living…[signed] Jerry”.

Sheldon Mayer was one of the first employees of the McClure Syndicate, headed by comics pioneer Maxwell Gaines. Although many have taken credit for discovering ”Superman”, this letter serves as ultimate confirmation that it was Mayer’s championing of the comic which led to its inclusion in ”Action Comics #1”.

(12) GUNN APPRECIATION. John Kessel has posted some of his correspondence with the late sf author and scholar James Gunn from 2018 on Facebook: showing the advice he gave about a recently published novella.

In the wake of sf writer James Gunn’s death in December, I’ve been thinking of him and what he meant to me. The publication of my novella “The Dark Ride” in this month’s F&SF reminded me that I had sent him a draft of the story and we had this correspondence about it, which helped me to shape the final version.

I thought I’d post these emails just to show how generous and engaged he was even in his late 90s. I’m so glad that I knew him….

(13) CHUCKED OUT THE AIRLOCK.  [Item by James Davis Nicoll.] “The queen’s rep in Canada calls it quits after probe into toxic workplace” in Politico. If the Queen is not in Canada, the Governor General is our head of state. Not SFnal in itself but what makes this SF-adjacent is Payette is getting the heave ho over permitting a culture of harassment that included —

Allegations [dating] to the earliest days of her tenure when she would reportedly put staff on the spot to quiz them on outer space, demanding they name every planet or correctly state the distance between the sun and the moon….

Payette was an astronaut before being appointed GG.

…And last year, CBC News reported that Trudeau’s office failed to check with Payette’s former employees during its vetting process. As it turned out, Payette had resigned from the Montreal Science Centre in 2016 following complaints of mistreatment of employees, according to the news outlet. She also left the Canadian Olympic Committee in 2017, the year she became governor general, after two internal probes into claims she had verbally harassed staff members.

(14) FINN DE SIECLE. MEL Magazine joins its voice to the continuing uproar: “Finn Deserved Better — And So Did Black ‘Star Wars’ Fans”.

…Later on, in perhaps the most exciting shot of the trailer (at least for me), we see Finn standing in a frozen forest. His eyes are steely, determined. He looks every inch the hero — defiant, ready. He turns on his lightsaber. Its blue glow leaps to life just as we see the villain Kylo Ren and his red lightsaber spitting hot energy from its hilt. All of that tension, all of that conflict, absolutely crackling with dramatic potential. Only for all of it to fizzle away in the three films that followed.

We started with a Black stormtrooper who becomes a conscientious objector, follows his moral compass and joins the rebels to risk his life in order to save the galaxy. Somewhere along the way, though, the filmmakers made that character boring. That’s why Star Wars fans are still so pissed at the great betrayal of Finn. It’s why his name was trending on Twitter on Tuesday, a full year after the final film of the newest trilogy was released in theaters.

That last point is key: Finn deserved better. Hell, we all deserved better. The “we” in this instance is Black sci-fi fans. We’ve had to live on some thin soup from Hollywood for far too long. (Although we do have to give a shout out to Star Trek for Capt. Sisko.) For Blerds like me, we held out a small hope that it might be different this time. That Star Wars might finally move on from its Victorian-Nazi melodrama past and embrace the diversity of our moment. Specifically, by creating a credible Black hero.

The first time Star Wars added a Black character, we got a space pimp. Lando Calrissian felt like he’d escaped from a Blaxploitation film or a 1970s malt liquor commercial. But at least he was cool — paper thin, but undeniably cool….

(15) DRAGON APATHY. Declan Finn complains that no one wants to talk about the Dragon Awards on his blog, in “Emerging Dragons”.  

…But I am no longer going to ask for more suggestions. I’m not even going to try for a discussion this year. Why? Because every time I’ve done this, no one WANTS a discussion. Almost everyone who comes by drops a link in the comments going ME ME ME, and disappears.

With the exception of three or four people who are genuinely trying to have a conversation, the authors don’t even read the post. Literally. Two years ago, when I last tried this, I had people who came by, asking me to to add them to the list … and they didn’t realize they were already on it.

It was worse last year when I said “We’re not playing this game,” and people made the same request– proving that they didn’t bother to read the post.

(16) BENEFIT FROM EXPERIENCE. More encouragement to get the vaccine from the Governator. Followed on FB by comments from a legion of anti-vaxxers, naturally.  

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The monologue on last night’s The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, starting around the 10:15 mark, has Colbert telling disillusioned Q-anon conspiracy theorists how to fill the void by taking up his own enthusiasm for the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

(18) VIDEO OF A MUCH EARLIER DAY. “Steve Martin and Kermit The Frog In Dueling Banjos” on YouTube is a Funny or Die sketch from 2013, and come on, who doesn’t like Kermit The Frog or Steve Martin?

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

Reaction to 2020 Dragon Awards Winners

What was the response to yesterday’s announcement of the 2020 Dragon Awards winners among some of the award’s most ardent supporters?

It can be divided between those who ignored any category that wasn’t won by someone they approved, and those who found a way to blame the outcome on the pandemic.

Last year’s Best SF Dragon Award winner Brad R. Torgersen took a similar approach at first.

However, Torgersen revealed his true feelings in comments:

Declan Finn’s response isn’t as cryptic as it may seem if you remember he considers the 2020 Dragon Ballot to be the outcome of people not listening to him. Again.

Brian Niemeier leads the blame-the-pandemic wing of the party.

Richard Paolinelli’s tweet is a hybrid of the two common Puppy responses.

The rest of what Richard Paolinelli has to say is locked behind his paywall, which is as secure a way of keeping something secret as has yet been invented.

Meanwhile, John Scalzi is the soul of contentment. And so is his bookie, evidently.

Reaction to 2020 Dragon Award Ballot

Dragon Awards trophies from 2016. Photo by Fran Wilde.

Yesterday the 2020 Dragon Awards ballot dropped, pleasantly surprising many by being loaded with genuinely popular books. (As Cora Buhlert put it, “The 2020 Dragon Award Finalists Go Full Tilt Towards Mainstream Respectability”). But not everyone is pleased.

Tommy Lasorda famously said, “There are three kinds of people in this world: people who make it happen, people who watch what happens, and people who wonder what happened.” And this year, some of the Dragon Awards’ most vocal supporters find themselves in the third category.

Declan Finn, a Sad Puppies devotee whose passion went unappreciated by the movement’s leaders, considers the 2020 Dragon Ballot to be another outcome of people not listening to him.

You know, I am fairly hooked into the book community. If I don’t read every book, I at least hear about a lot of them. Even if I take one look and decide I don’t want to read it, I at least check it out.

Then I saw the 2020 Dragon Award ballot and wondered who the fuck any of these people were. Seriously, what sort of shit show is this?

Sure, I’ve heard of a few. Margaret Atwood at least has a TV show. She’s an opportunistic parasite, but people have at least heard of her (though I haven’t heard of that book. I guess she came out with another). I’ve heard of Scalzi–don’t like him, but I can at least pick his name out of a phone book. Chuck Wendigo? The same.

But so many of these names are just … Who? What? Huh?

I’ve been assured by some people (randoms online, mostly) that these are Hugo authors. I guess I’ll take their word on it… but usually, I’ve at least HEARD about those authors. These folks? Nah.

… If only someone could have warned about this.

If only someone could have tried to lead discussions, hold conversations on what books came out. That way, we could have narrowed it down to a few.

If only…

WAIT! I know! I DID. I FUCKING WANTED PEOPLE TO DISCUSS BOOKS FOR THE DRAGONS. WHAT DID EVERYONE THINK I WAS DOING IN 2018 AND 2019? COMPILING EVERY ELIGIBLE BOOK BECAUSE IT WAS FUN? I DID IT FOR MY HEALTH? THAT WAS EXTRA WORK I DIDN’T NEED TO DO.

…It was especially fun this year when I had an author see that “I was talking about the Dragon again,” therefore, she asked if “I could put her book on the list.” IE: She didn’t even read the blog post to see what I was talking about. It was assumed I enjoyed killing myself so I could market their book for free.

No one wanted to play. That’s fine. I’m used to it. 

But everyone can all stop bitching about it. They either didn’t vote, or didn’t want to talk about it. They didn’t want to invest even thirty minutes into presenting a selection of choices, or having a conversation.

Now this years ballot sucks….

Brian Niemeier in “The Dragon Sleeps” doesn’t think the reason is that they neglected Declan’s advice. After ranting about John Scalzi’s nomination, Niemeier says the pandemic is the reason that the award he’s spent years boosting, where EVERYONE can vote for FREE, has in 2020 generated a ballot bereft of work by him and his friends:

From the author of The Handmaid’s Tale to lesbian vampire stories to a writer so deranged even Disney fired him, this year’s Dragon ballot reads like the canon of Death Cult humiliation scripture….

Of course, the Death Cult witches lie constantly in the manner of their father below. Thus their previous attempt to take over the Dragons in 2017.

That attempt failed, and the Dragons continued to be a direct democratic process as intended. Each subsequent years’ winners were pretty much what you’d expect from a readers’ choice award with a broad voter base. Baen and the bigger indies came to dominate, with cameos from the more mainstream Pop Cult fare like Corey Doctorow and The Expanse.

I and the other cultural commentators who predicted this course of events based our forecasts on the key difference between the Dragons and the other literary awards. Anyone can vote in the former, while the latter lock voting rights behind a paywall or professional organization membership.

Put simply, the Death Cult can monopolize the Hugos because World Con’s voter base is quite small, relatively speaking. The number of CHORFs isn’t growing. In fact, they’re rapidly graying. It stands to reason that an award with an open, large, and growing voter base would be immune to manipulation by an insular Cult.

And for three years, that reasoning held true. But as is its wont, 2020 threw the con scene a curve ball: Corona-chan.

Niemeier tries to spin that the pandemic has caused these aberrant results because people won’t be able to attend an in-person Dragon Con this year. (Never mind that Brian is always telling readers one of the Dragon’s virtues is that you don’t have to buy a con membership to vote.)

…There’s your explanation for what happened with the Dragons. The virus shut down the con, normal people tuned out, and the small but relentless Cult faction took advantage of the drastically reduced voter base to pack the ballot.

Then, the following Twitter conversation was devoted to asking “What happened?”

In contrast, Larry Correia, inventor of Sad Puppies, hailed the 2020 ballot: “Fantastic! There are a bunch of really good authors nominated this year.”

And Brad R. Torgersen, who ran the last Sad Puppies slate, found the pandemic didn’t stop his friends from getting nominated: “Nice to see some friends getting some well-deserved recognition on the Dragons final ballot. Even though there is no DragonCon being held in Atlanta due to Covid-19 panic, the Dragons roar onward. Good luck to Nick and Jason, Marko, Dave, and Chris!”

As for the nominees, they’re delighted as you’d expect. John Scalzi says in “The Last Emperox a Finalist for the 2020 Dragon Awards” at Whatever.

It’s a field where I would be happy with any one of these writers/titles winning, so that’s really the best of all possible worlds. And it’s nice to see The Last Emperox getting some early recognition, award-wise. That would be lovely to have continue.

Fonda Lee is especially happy:

(She’s been up for a Nebula and won a World Fantasy Award (2018), neither of which, it’s true, would you call “fan awards,” however, she’s won three Aurora Awards, which I thought are run by fans; I’ll have to defer to her knowledge on that score.)

Meanwhile, even experienced sff news reporters like Ansible’s David Langford are still coming to grips with the Dragon Awards’ turnaround. He told Camestros Felapton:

I am of course utterly stupended. But this is a condition that comes easily to me.

You and me both, Dave. And count on you to know the best word for it.

Pixel Scroll 3/18/20 How Many Files To Babylon? Fifth Score Files And Ten

(1) BELATED RECOGNITION. BBC explores “Why Octavia E. Butler’s novels are so relevant today”.

The visionary sci-fi author envisaged an alternate future that foresaw many aspects of life today, from big pharma to Trumpism. Now she has a cult following, writes Hephzibah Anderson.

It’s campaign season in the US, and a charismatic dark horse is running with the slogan ‘make America great again’. According to his opponent, he’s a demagogue; a rabble-rouser; a hypocrite. When his supporters form mobs and burn people to death, he condemns their violence “in such mild language that his people are free to hear what they want to hear”. He accuses, without grounds, whole groups of people of being rapists and drug dealers. How much of this rhetoric he actually believes and how much he spouts “just because he knows the value of dividing in order to conquer and to rule” is at once debatable, and increasingly beside the point, as he strives to return the country to a “simpler” bygone era that never actually existed.

You might think he sounds familiar – but the character in question is Texas Senator Andrew Steele Jarret, the fictional presidential candidate who storms to victory in a dystopian science-fiction novel titled Parable of the Talents. Written by Octavia E Butler, it was published in 1998, two decades before the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States.

…Fourteen years after her early death, Butler’s reputation is soaring. Her predictions about the direction that US politics would take, and the slogan that would help speed it there, are certainly uncanny. But that wasn’t all she foresaw. She challenged traditional gender identity, telling a story about a pregnant man in Bloodchild and envisaging shape-shifting, sex-changing characters in Wild Seed. Her interest in hybridity and the adaptation of the human race, which she explored in her Xenogenesis trilogy, anticipated non-fiction works by the likes of Yuval Noah Harari. Concerns about topics including climate change and the pharmaceutical industry resonate even more powerfully now than when she wove them into her work.

And of course, by virtue of her gender and ethnicity, she was striving to smash genre assumptions about writers – and readers – so ingrained that in 1987, her publisher still insisted on putting two white women on the jacket of her novel Dawn, whose main character is black. She also helped reshape fantasy and sci-fi, bringing to them naturalism as well as characters like herself. And when she won the prestigious MacArthur ‘genius’ grant in 1995, it was a first for any science-fiction writer.

(2) HOT WORDS ABOUT A COLD CLASSIC. The report in yesterday’s Scroll about Cora Buhlert’s takeoff on a classic, “The Cold Crowdfunding Campaign”, prompted Filers to remember Richard Harter’s epic analysis “The Cold Equations – A Critical Study” (thanks to Andrew for finding the Usenet link.)

… Science fiction has been described as a literature of ideas, a literary arena in which the idea is hero. This may well be true. Too often, however, it is a flawed literature of ideas, marked by shoddy treatments received with uncritical enthusiasm. The Cold Equations has been cited an instance of the “literature of ideas” at its best.

In the original article I argued that the story is no such thing but rather that it is an example of systemic blindness to morally obtuse assumptions. This argument is considered in detail below. Given that, one asks: Why is the story so ardently defended – and attacked? Why has the story made such an impression?…

(3) HITLER BACK ON SALE. Amazon admits it simply makes criticism-driven decisions – “Amazon Bans, Then Reinstates, Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’” – the New York Times has the story.

Amazon quietly banned Adolf Hitler’s manifesto “Mein Kampf” late last week, part of its accelerating efforts to remove Nazi and other hate-filled material from its bookstore, before quickly reversing itself.

The retailer, which controls the majority of the book market in the United States, is caught between two demands that cannot be reconciled. Amazon is under pressure to keep hate literature off its vast platform at a moment when extremist impulses seem on the rise. But the company does not want to be seen as the arbiter of what people are allowed to read, which is traditionally the hallmark of repressive regimes.

Booksellers that sell on Amazon say the retailer has no coherent philosophy about what it decides to prohibit, and seems largely guided by public complaints.

Over the last 18 months, it has dropped books by Nazis, the Nation of Islam and the American neo-Nazis David Duke and George Lincoln Rockwell. But it has also allowed many equally offensive books to continue to be sold.

(4) IN LIKE FINN. Camestros Felapton calls it “Perhaps the most significant story from a former Sad Puppy ever” – Declan Finn’s account of touring Italy with his wife when the coronavirus outbreak shut down the country. Camestros ends his I-read-it-so-you-don’t-have-to summary:

The short version therefore of how right wing blogs are reacting plays out in a personal level in Declan’s story. Initial scepticism and eagerness to carry on as if it is all a fuss over nothing which then collides with an escalating reality and blaming the government.

Not that you really ought to deny yourselves – Finn fits quite an epic in between requests for money and Dragon Award nominations.

…We went to the Al Italia counter and the moderately long line. It was processed quickly. We came to the counter.

“Americans?”

I showed her the passports. 

“No,” she said.

No? What do you mean no? Are you going to cancel our flight again? Am I going to have to leap across your sad, pathetic Corona rope line and throttle you into giving us a boarding pass out of this Hell hole? How much more ransom do we have to pay to get us out of here!

She took an abnormally long breath, thought about what she had to say next, and continued, “Other check in, around the corner.”

Whew. No manslaughter charges for me today…. 

While trying to get to their flight they stepped through the wrong door at the airport, ended up on the tarmac, and were corralled by security. Talk about the cold equations — for that violation Italian authorities slapped them with a 4000 euro fine, which is 4497.00 in US dollars. A friend has started a GoFundMe to try and help them recoup some of the money.

(5) WORKING AT HOME, LIKE USUAL. George R.R. Martin began his post “Strange Days” telling about how his theater and other ventures in Santa Fe are closed by the coronavirus outbreak, then gave his personal status:

For those of you who may be concerned for me personally… yes, I am aware that I am very much in the most vulnerable population, given my age and physical condition.   But I feel fine at the moment, and we are taking all sensible precautions.  I am off by myself in a remote isolated location, attended by one of my staff, and I’m not going in to town or seeing anyone.   Truth be told, I am spending more time in Westeros than in the real world, writing every day.   Things are pretty grim in the Seven Kingdoms… but maybe not as grim as they may become here.

Inverse took this to mean “Winds of Winter release finally back on track for one unexpected reason”.

 For now, we’re just excited to hear that George is back at work on The Winds of Winter (of course, it’s possible he’s referencing the script for the upcoming HBO prequel House of the Dragon, but that seems unlikely given the phrasing here).

Winds of Winter was originally scheduled for release in November 2018, but the book got delayed so Martin could focus on Fire & Blood, a “historical” account of House Targaryen that serves as the basis for House of the Dragon. Back in May 2019, he joked in a blog post that if he hadn’t finished the book by 2020 Worldcon New Zealand, he should be locked up on New Zealand’s White Island until he finished it.

In other words, Martin really wants to be done with Winds of Winter by the end of July when the annual conference takes place.

(6) HYPERFEASANCE. The Balticon committee was surprised when the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel started sending out room cancellation notices before they could make an announcement.  On March 12, the Governor of Maryland established a ban, of indeterminate duration, on all gatherings of more than 250 people in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The con had been scheduled for May 22-24. The committee told Facebook readers:

After we shut down online registration over the weekend pending a conversation with the hotel, continuing developments with COVID-19 and discussions with the convention committee had convinced the Baltimore Science Fiction Society Board of Directors we likely needed to cancel the convention. However, we had not yet identified a process for doing that with minimal confusion, nor had we had a conversation with the hotel discussing the process. Today we learned that the hotel had started canceling registrations. We were as surprised as everyone else to hear about the canceled reservations and see that our reservations were getting canceled.

(7) NO ÅCON. Finland’s Acon 11 has been postponed:

…We could have waited, made the decision closer the convention, but honestly, having spent some weeks following the evolving situation, listening to epidemiologists and public officials in both Finland and Sweden, our conclusion is that the chances of the situation having stabilised in May seem very slim indeed. It’s not just a question of whether we would be legally permitted to hold the con in May, but whether we could do it in a responsible manner.

We need to spare everyone involved the unnecessary work and costs. Adlon, our hotel, will take a financial hit. We need to let them know and plan. We want to avoid our members paying for non-refundable travel at a time when the committee don’t believe it will be possible to arrange a convention.

Fortunately, we have few costs we can’t recoup. …

The con was to have been held May 21-24 in Mariehamn.

(8) A DREAMER ROLE. Trans actress Nicole Maines, who plays Nia Nal, aka Dreamer, on Supergirl, was interviewed by SYFY Wire. “Supergirl’s Nicole Maines tells us why Dreamer is more than just a trans character”.

Supergirl is not known for its subtlety. Aliens in the show are a thinly veiled metaphor for immigrants, LGBTQ people, and “others.” The current story arc is coming to a head with the Agent Liberty storyline, in which a TV personality rises through the ranks of government thanks to his anti-alien rhetoric — which sounds familiar, even his real-world equivalent doesn’t have Lex Luthor providing him with fancy gear.

That said, the show is remarkably subtle about a milestone it reached last year: Supergirl features TV’s first openly transgender superhero, Dreamer. Rather than make Nia/Dreamer’s trans-ness a huge deal, after she came out as transgender, the other characters matter-of-factly accepted her, and it never became an issue….

(9) WORDEN OBIT. Astronaut Al Worden died March 17 at the age of 88 reports Florida Today.

“We remember this pioneer whose work expanded our horizons,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.

Worden was one of only 24 people to have flown to the moon. He was also the first astronaut to conduct a deep-space extravehicular activity, or EVA, during Apollo 15’s return to Earth in 1971.

During the mission, he orbited the moon dozens of times while astronauts David Scott and James Irwin explored the surface.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • March 18, 1981 The Greatest American Hero premiered on ABC. Created by producer Stephen J. Cannell, the series features William Katt, Robert Culp and Connie Sellecca.  It had  to fight off lawsuits from the owners of the Superman copyright who thought the concept and look of the suit was too close to their product.  After that, a real Mr. Hinckley tried on March 30th of that year to assassinate President Reagan, so scripts involving protagonist Ralph Hinkley had to be rewritten to be named Ralph Hanley (or sometimes just “Mr.H”).  You can see the pilot here. And yes, it’s up legally courtesy of the copyright holders.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 18, 1888 Alexander Leydenfrost. As an illustrator, he briefly worked for Planet Stories before being signed by Life magazine where the money was better. But his quite brief tenure at Planet Stories is credited with the creation of the enduring cliché Bug Eyed Monster as that’s what his illustrations showed. (Died 1961.)
  • Born March 18, 1926 Peter Graves. Star of Mission Impossible and the short lived Australian-based Mission Impossible which if you not seen it, you should as it’s damn good. I’m reasonably certain his first genre role was on Red Planet Mars playing Chris Cronyn. Later roles included Gavin Lewis on The Invaders, Major Noah Cooper on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Doug Paul Martin in Killers from Space and Paul Nelson on It Conquered the World. It’s worth noting that a number of his films are featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 series. (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 18, 1932 John Updike. It might surprise you to learn that there are two Eastwick novels, The Witches of Eastwick and The Widows of Eastwick, the latter set some three decades after the first novel ended. He wrote a number of other genre friendly novels including The CentaurBrazil and Toward the End of Time. (Died 2009.)
  • Born March 18, 1950 J. G. Hertzler, 70. He’s best known for his role on Deep Space Nine as the Klingon General (and later Chancellor) Martok. He co-authored with Jeff Lang, Left Hand of Destiny, Book 1, and Left Hand of Destiny, Book 2, which chronicle the life of his character. His very TV first role was a genre one, to wit on Quantum Leap as Weathers Farrington in the “Sea Bride – June 3, 1954” episode. Setting aside DS9, he’s been in ZorroHighlanderThe Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanLois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanCharmedRoswell and Enterprise series;  for film genre work, I see The Redeemer: Son of SatanTreasure Island: The Adventure Begins and Prelude to Axanar (yet another piece of fanfic). In addition, he’s done a lot of video game voice acting, the obvious Trek work but such franchises as BioShock 2The Golden Compass and Injustice: Gods Among Us. 
  • Born March 18, 1959 Luc Besson, 61. Oh, The Fifth Element, one of my favorite genre films. There’s nothing about it that I don’t like. I’ve not seen Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and reviews leave me disinclined to do so. The Transporter is not genre but I recommend it as a great film none the less. 
  • Born March 18, 1960 Richard Biggs. He appeared as Dr. Stephen Franklin on Babylon 5, reprising the role in the final aired episode of Crusade, “Each Night I Dream of Home”. Other genre roles included playing Roger Garrett on Tremors, Hawkes In The Alien Within, An Unnamed Reporter on Beauty and the Beast,  Dr. Thomson on an episode of The Twilight Zone and a Process Server in an episode of The Magical World of Disney. (Died 2004.)
  • Born March 18, 1961 James Davis Nicoll, 59. A freelance game and genre reviewer. A first reader for SFBC as well. Currently he’s a blogger on Dreamwidth and Facebook, and an occasional columnist on Tor.com. In 2014, he started his website, jamesdavisnicoll.com, which is dedicated to his book reviews of works old and new; and which later added the highly entertaining Young People Read Old SFF, where that group read prior to Eighties SF and fantasy, and Nicoll and his collaborators comment on the their reactions.
  • Born March 18, 1973 Max Barry, 37. He’s written a number of novels of which I’ve read his superb dystopian Jennifer Government and Machine Man when it was online serial. His newest is Providence which sounds fascinating though his book tour in the US got canceled he notes on his blog. 

(12) CRUSADING FOR A CAPE. The Guardian’s “80 years of Robin: the forgotten history of the most iconic sidekick” is really a call for the character to be written as a woman again – and reminds fans that it wouldn’t be the first time.

….Why we’ve not had more female Robins – or better served ones – is a symptom of a much wider problem. Of the 11 writers announced as contributing to DC’s anniversary issue for Robin, only two are women: Devin Grayson and Amy Wolfram. Between January and March last year, women accounted for 16% of the credits on comics released by DC; of writers, only 13% were women. The studio celebrated 80 years of Batman last year, but in that time not a single woman has been at the helm of Batman or Detective Comics. Aside from Grayson’s work on Nightwing and Gotham Knights, no female writer has ever written a Batman series. Given how many women are working on Batgirl, Catwoman and Batwoman, it would seem they are restricted to writing female heroes.

(13) A VERY SERIOUS QUESTION. This will make some folks cranky. Tom Morton asks “Avenue 5: Why Is Sci-Fi Comedy So Unfunny?” at Frieze.

… Given the impregnable humourlessness of most sci-fi – from the rigorously logical ‘hard sf’ of the novelist Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy (1951–53) to the dreamy vision of Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Solaris (1972) – the genre’s tropes should be an open goal for the comic imagination. Why, then, do so many sci-fi themed comedies fail to raise a smile? Partly, it’s that parody, as a form, is hard to sustain – witness Seth Macfarlane’s television series The Orville (2017–20), a directionless send-up of Star Trek (1966–69), or Mel Brooks’s movie Spaceballs (1987), a staggering unfunny Star Wars (1977) take-off. Comparatively better were the first two seasons of British sitcom Red Dwarf (1988–2017). Drawing on the aesthetic of John Carpenter’s slackers-in-space movie, Dark Star (1974), the show centred initially on a classic odd-couple relationship between the last human in existence, a warm-hearted scouse wastrel, and his foil, an uptight, socially ambitious hologram. However, when Red Dwarf’s popularity and budget increased, it fell into two traps familiar to makers of ‘straight’ on-screen sci-fi: an overreliance on special effects and (fatally) a fan-servicing emphasis on the lore of its own fictional universe, which destroyed any tension that once existed between the show’s ‘situation’ and its ‘comedy’.

(14) CAN YOU DIG IT? Gizmodo says things are looking up for a NASA Mars probe: “And Now for Some Good News: The Mars InSight Heat Flow Probe Is Digging Again”.

…But the probe faced trouble on deployment. Impeded by an unexpectedly crusty soil texture that didn’t generate enough friction for the probe to dig, it only made it down to around a foot and a half. 

(15) JEOPARDY! Some of tonight’s Jeopardy! contestants didn’t get these sff references. (Honestly, I’d have missed all three myself.)

Category: Places in Fantasy

Answer: The name of this 2-word ancestral dwelling in Tolkien is a play on the translation of the French “cul-de-sac”.

Wrong question: “What is Middle Earth?”

Correct question: “What is Bag End?”


Answer: Much of the action in the “files” of this guy, the city’s resident practicing professional Wizard, takes place in Chicago.

No one could ask, “Who is Harry Dresden?”


Answer: In Bill Willingham’s graphic novels, Bigby, this foe of Rising Hood, is the sheriff of Fabletown.

Wrong question: “What is Nottingham?”

Correct question: “What is The Big Bad Wolf?”

(16) FUN WITH YOUR NEW HEAD. Will you be The One? An interview with the CEO of Valve: “Gabe Newell: ‘We’re way closer to The Matrix than people realize'”.

“The area that I’m spending a lot of time on has been growing out of a bunch of research that occurred a while ago on brain-computer interfaces,” Newell said. “I think that that’s kind of long lead stuff, so that’s kind of the background thread that I get pulled back into when other things aren’t demanding my attention.”

Human brains can already communicate with computers directly, though in very limited ways compared to the sci-fi systems of The Matrix or William Gibson’s Neuromancer, where physical reality can be totally replaced with a simulated, virtual one. But Newell doesn’t think that kind of sci-fi tech is as far off as it might seem.

“We’re way closer to The Matrix than people realize,” Newell said. “It’s not going to be The Matrix—The Matrix is a movie and it misses all the interesting technical subtleties and just how weird the post-brain-computer interface world is going to be. But it’s going to have a huge impact on the kinds of experiences we can create for people.”

(17) I CAN GET A WITNESS. A participant remembers “Launching the Hubble Space Telescope: ‘Our window into the Universe'” – video.

In 1990 the Hubble Space Telescope was launched, putting into orbit one of the most remarkable scientific instruments that has ever existed.

But initially the mission ran into problems, including a flawed mirror that meant the first images from Hubble were blurry.

Nasa astronaut Kathryn Sullivan was one of the five crew members who launched the Hubble.

(18) IT’S A BIRD. Free range dino — “Fossil ‘wonderchicken’ could be earliest known fowl”.

A newly discovered fossil bird could be the earliest known ancestor of every chicken on the planet.

Living just before the asteroid strike that wiped out giant dinosaurs, the unique fossil, from about 67 million years ago, gives a glimpse into the dawn of modern birds.

Birds are descended from dinosaurs, but precisely when they evolved into birds like the ones alive today has been difficult to answer.

This is due to a lack of fossil data.

The newly discovered – and well-preserved – fossil skull should help fill in some of the gaps.

“This is a unique specimen: we’ve been calling it the ‘wonderchicken’,” said Dr Daniel Field of the University of Cambridge.

“It’s the only nearly complete skull of a modern bird that we have, so far, from the age of dinosaurs and it’s able to tell us quite a lot about the early evolutionary history of birds.”

(19) TUB THUMPING. Don’t miss the Special “Social Distancing” Edition of The Late Show.

If you’re watching this from home right now, you’re doing the right thing. If you’re watching it from your bathtub bunker like our host, please remember to save some hot water for the rest of us. Either way, we’re glad you’re with us. So stay hunkered down and please enjoy this episode of The Lather Show with Scrubbin’ Colbath!

[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Iphinome, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Contrarius, and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]

Pixel Scroll 10/21/19 Oh, This Is The Scroll, It’s A Beautiful Scroll, And We Call It Pixela Scrollte

(1) DALLAS TORNADO. Fanartist David Thayer and his wife Diana had a close call last night but are unscathed themselves:

A tornado with winds of 165 m.p.h. cut a swath through Dallas just a mile south of our house yesterday evening after dark. A powerful gust snapped the trunk of our 70 ft mesquite halfway up and sent it crashing down into our front yard. The only property damage we sustained was to our yard light. Seeing all the destruction in the news this morning, we are thankful we came through relatively unscathed.

(2) AVENGERS ASSEMBLE. Just in case the Marvel Cinematic Universe needs any defense against the negative opinions of Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola, a couple of well-known figures connected with the MCU have spoken up.

James Gunn:

Many of our grandfathers thought all gangster movies were the same, often calling them “despicable”. Some of our great grandfathers thought the same of westerns, and believed the films of John Ford, Sam Peckinpah, and Sergio Leone were all exactly the same. I remember a great uncle to whom I was raving about Star Wars. He responded by saying, “I saw that when it was called 2001, and, boy, was it boring!” Superheroes are simply today’s gangsters/cowboys/outer space adventurers. Some superhero films are awful, some are beautiful….

Natalie Portman:

I think there’s room for all types of cinema,” she told The Hollywood Reporter at the 6th annual Los Angeles Dance Project Gala on Saturday at downtown Los Angeles’ Hauser & Wirth. “There’s not one way to make art.”

“I think that Marvel films are so popular because they’re really entertaining and people desire entertainment when they have their special time after work, after dealing with their hardships in real life.”

(3) HOW EAGER ARE YOU? ESPN will be airing the final trailer for Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker tonight during Monday Night Football.

(4) NAVIGATING THE ROCKETS SAFELY HOME. In “What happened to the 1944 Retro Hugos?”, Nicholas Whyte asks fans to consider the burden of producing a whole run of trophies when it’s this hard to find homes for them after the ceremony. Of course, the job would have been a little easier if the nominees with accepters had won:

…I’m glad to say that we did have a few designated acceptors in the room on the night. Apart from those noted below, Betsy Wollheim was on hand in case her father Donald won (unfortunately he lost in all three categories where he was nominated); June and Naomi Rosenblum were there for their father-in-law/grandfather J. Michael Rosenblum; Stephanie Breijo was there for her great-grandfather Oscar J. Friend; and Harper Collins sent a rep for C.S. Lewis. So, for 66 finalists, we had acceptors on hand for 10. Future Worldcons might like to bear that in mind when planning whether or not to run Retro Hugo Awards.

This is what happened with the trophies, in increasing order of the difficulty we had in dealing with them….

(5) HOUSE CALL. Can it be that we are about to have a visit from the Doctor and his companion? (No, not that one.)

(6) TARDIGRADES LITIGATION RESUMES. Plagiarism Today’s Jonathan Bailey urges against a court appeal in “An Open Letter to Anas Abdin”

Three weeks ago, it seemed as if the Tardigrades lawsuit was over. Anas Abdin’s lawsuit was tossed decisively and at an early stage, Abdin himself said, “I respect the ruling and I expect everyone to do so,” and there seemed to be little interest in any kind of an appeal.

However, that respect for the decision did not last long. On Friday, Abdin announced that he was appealing the verdict and was launching a GoFundMe to finance the campaign. As of this writing, that campaign has raised more than $17,500 from more than 470 donors and is inching closer to its $20,000 goal….

(7) CONFACTS. Kees Van Toorn announced that all issues of ConFacts, the daily newsletter of ConFiction, the 1990 Worldcon, have been uploaded on their archival website in flipbook format.

(8) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present David Mack and Max Gladstone on November 20,  2019.

David Mack is a New York Times bestselling author of over thirty novels of science fiction, fantasy, and adventure. His most recent works are The Midnight Front and The Iron Codex, parts one and two of his Dark Arts trilogy from Tor Books. He currently works as a creative consultant on two upcoming Star Trek television series.

Max Gladstone is the author of Empress of Forever, the Hugo finalist Craft Sequence, and, with Amal El-Mohtar, This is How You Lose the Time War, in addition to his work with short and serial fiction, games, screenwriting, and comics. He has been a finalist for the Hugo, John W Campbell /Astounding, XYZZY, and Lambda Awards, and was once thrown from a horse in Mongolia.

The event starts at 7 p.m. in the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.) in New York, NY.

(9) FANFICTION. Sff writer Sara L. Uckelman, Assistant Professor of logic and philosophy of language at Durham University, issued an invitation: “Anyone interested in the paper behind the talk, my paper ‘Fanfiction, Canon, and Possible Worlds’ can be downloaded here.”

…The study of fanfiction from a philosophical point of view raises a number of questions: What is fanfiction?  What distinguishes it from ordinary fiction? How can we make sense of what is going on when people create and interact with fanfiction?  In this paper, I consider two competing accounts of fanfiction—the derivative or dependent account and the constitutive account—and argue that these competing views parallel two competing ways in which a possible worlds account of fiction can be fleshed out, namely, Lewis’s modal realist account and Kripke’s stipulative view. I further argue that this parallel is not a mere parallel, but provides us with a test of adequacy for the possible worlds accounts: It is worthless to provide a philosophical account of the theoretical foundations of fiction if such an account doesn’t coordinate with the actual practice and production of fiction. 

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • October 21, 1977Damnation Alley premiered. Based somewhat on Zelazny’s novel, it starred George Peppard as Major Eugene “Sam” Denton and Jan-Michael Vincent as 1st Lt. Jake Tanner. It bombed and was pulled quickly. Its Rotten Tomatoes score is 34%.  For now at least, it’s on YouTube here.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 21, 1904 Edmond Hamilton. One of the prolific writers for Weird Tales from the late 20s to the late 40s, writing nearly eighty stories. (Lovecraft and Howard were the other key writers.) Sources say that through the late 1920s and early 1930s Hamilton wrote for all of the SF pulp magazines then publishing. His story “The Island of Unreason” (Wonder Stories, May 1933) won the first Jules Verne Prize as the best SF story of the year. This was the very first SF prize awarded by a vote of fans, which one source holds to be a precursor of the Hugo Awards. From the early 40s to the late 60s, he work for DC, in stories about Superman and Batman. He created the Space Ranger character with Gardner Fox and Bob Brown. On December 31, 1946, Hamilton married fellow science fiction author and screenwriter Leigh Brackett. Now there is another story as well. (Died 1977.)
  • Born October 21, 1914 Martin Gardner. He was one of leading authorities on Lewis Carroll. The Annotated Alice, which incorporated the text of Carroll’s two Alice books, is still a bestseller. He was considered the doyen (your word to learn today) of American puzzlers. And, to make him even more impressive, in 1999 Magic magazine named Gardner one of the “100 Most Influential Magicians of the Twentieth Century”.  Cool! (Died 2010.)
  • Born October 21, 1929 Ursula Le Guin. She called herself a “Narrative American”. And she most emphatically did not consider herself to be a genre writer instead preferring be known as an “American novelist”. Oh, she wrote genre fiction with quite some brilliance, be it the Earthsea sequence,  The Left Hand of DarknessThe Dispossessed, or Always Coming Home. Her upbringing as the daughter of two academics, one who was an anthropologist and the other who had a graduate degree in psychology, showed in her writing. And the home library of the family had a lot of SF in it. If you’re interested in the awards she won in her career, she garnered  the Hugo Award, Nebula Award, Locus Award, and World Fantasy Award. At last she was also awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters It won’t surprise you that she was made a SFWA Grandmaster, one of the few women writers so honored. (Died 2018.)
  • Born October 21, 1933 Georgia Brown. She’s the actress who portrayed Helena Rozhenko, foster mother of Worf, in the Next Gen’s “Family” and “New Ground” episodes. She was Frau Freud in The Seven-Percent Solution, and was Rachel in “The Musgrave Ritual” episode of the Nigel Stock fronted Sherlock Holmes series. (Died 1992.)
  • Born October 21, 1945 Everett McGill, 74. Stilgar in the first Dune film. Earlier in his career, he was a Noah in Quest for Fire. Later on, he’s Ed Killifer in License to Kill, and in Twin Peaks, he’s Big Ed Hurley. He was also Rev. Lowe in Stephen King’s Silver Bullet, a werewolf flick that actually has a decent rating of 55% at Rotten Tomatoes! 
  • Born October 21, 1956 Carrie Fisher. In addition to the original Star Wars trilogy, Star Wars Holiday SpecialThe Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the forthcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, she was in Amazon Women on the Moon, The Time Guardian, Hook, Scream 3, and A Midsummer Night’s Rave. (Died 2016.)
  • Born October 21, 1973 Sasha Roiz, 45. I know him only as Captain Sean Renard on Grimm but he’s also been Sam Adama on Caprica as well. And he’s also been on Warehouse 13 in the recurring role of Marcus Diamond. He even showed up once on Lucifer as U.S. Marshal Luke Reynolds.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frazz makes a nifty dinosaur pun.

(13) UNLIKELY BONANZA. Joseph Hurtgen studies the illustration of an economic system in a Hugo-winning novel: “Gateway – Frederik Pohl: A Critique of Capitalism”.

…Consider the name of the alien space station for which Pohl’s book gets its name: Gateway. In the same way that taking highly random and highly dangerous alien space flights is the gateway to potential wealth, the capitalist system is also the gateway to the extreme fortune of the limited few that have, through luck or pluck, benefited most from the system. But no billionaire earns their riches without exploiting populations. Behind every fortune are the underpaid, the underfed, the forgotten, and the have nothings. The capitalist system, most simply defined, is a system of using the work of others and the work of wealth itself, to gain more wealth. It doesn’t take too much mental work to see that people are a form of capital in the capitalist system. Indeed, within capitalism everything is a form of capital. The best capitalist is the individual that figures out how to make more out of what they have….

(14) MYLNE’S GENRE ART. Artist James Mylne has been in the news lately (see, for instance ITV: “Boris Johnson turns into The Joker in new artwork”) for a political commentary that leans heavily on a genre reference. Filers might, therefore, be interested to know that his work has sometimes borrowed from other genre sources also. Example below.

(15) SOLARIS ON STAGE. Those passing through London between now and November 2 can see the play Solaris (nearest tube/metro/underground is Hammersmith).

On a space station orbiting Solaris, three scientists have made contact with a new planet.

Sent from earth to investigate reports of abnormal activity on-board, Kris Kelvin arrives to find one crew member dead and two who are seeing things that cannot be explained.

When her dead lover appears to her, it seems she too has fallen victim to the mystery of this strange planet. Should she return to reality, or is this her chance to turn back time?

Have the crew been studying Solaris – or has it been studying them?

This psychological thriller asks who we are when we’re forced to confront our deepest fears.

(16) ATWOOD PROFILE. Behind a paywall in the October 12 Financial Times, Horatia Harrod has a lengthy interview with Margaret Atwood.

In Oryx and Crake, Atwood wrote about a world decimated by environmental catastrophe; her understanding of the fragility of the Earth and the rapaciousness of its human inhabitants came early.  “My father was already talking about this over the dinner table in 1955,” says Atwood, who has been committed to raising awareness of the climate crisis for decades (she promised her 2000 Booker Prize winnings to charities dedicated to endangered animals.  “There is so much data and evidence.  But people would rather adhere to a belief system that favours them. So, what view of the climate is going to make more money for me?”

Atwood’s mother, meanwhile, was a tomboy, whose favored pastimes were speedskating, horseback riding, canoeing, fishing, not doing housework.  “I can’t think of much she was afraid of. This is a mother who chased a bear away with a broom, saying the following word:  ‘Scat!’” There were other tough female role models:”Inuit women, who have done some pretty spectacular things.  My aunt Ada, who I named a character in The Testaments after, was a hunting and fishing guide, and a crack shot with a .22.”

(17) PLANETARY ANTHOLOGIES MIGRATE. Superversive Press has dropped the Planetary Anthologies line says Declan Finn, whose contribution, Luna, is awaiting publication. (Indeed, a search on Amazon showed Superversive Press books as a whole are now only available from third-party vendors.) However, Finn says another publisher is stepping up.

The Planetary Anthology series is being discontinued.

In fact, even the five anthologies that have been published already have been discontinued. They will no longer be available for sale online from the publisher.

Which is odd for me. Especially after a year where the Area 51 anthology I was in this year was conceived of, edited, and released in 3 months from call for stories to publication.

So, yeah, the original publisher isn’t doing them anymore.

Finn says “the anthologies have all been picked up again by Tuscany Bay Books,” the imprint of Richard Paolinelli whose own unpublished Planetary Anthology, Pluto, will be next to appear. Contributors to these anthologies have included Jody Lyn Nye, Dawn Witzke, Lou Antonelli, Paolinelli, L Jagi Lamplighter, Hans G. Schantz, John C. Wright, Joshua M. Young and many others.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Lego In Real Life TRILOGY” on YouTube, Brick Bros. Productions looks at what happens when common household objects turn into Legos.

[Thanks to Camestros Felapton, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (please roll him a meatball).]

Pixel Scroll 5/7/19 What The Pixel Saw, It Was Against The Law

(1) IT’S GONE, MAN. Those who view the episode on streaming services won’t be seeing it — “HBO Edits ‘Game of Thrones’ Episode to Remove Errant Coffee Cup” reports Variety.

HBO has quietly scrubbed the misplaced coffee cup out of the “Game of Thrones” episode that aired Sunday night.

The premium cabler acknowledged the gaffe Monday after fans spotted the takeout cup on a table in front of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) in a scene in episode 4 of season 8 just before the 17:40 mark. It resembled a Starbucks cup but in fact came from the production’s craft services — and where someone left it behind in Winterfell.

“The latte that appeared in the episode was a mistake. Daenerys had ordered an herbal tea,” HBO said in a statement.

As of Tuesday morning, the streaming version of the “GOT” episode available on HBO Now and HBO Go had removed the offending cup from the scene. A rep for HBO confirmed the coffee cup was deleted and that future airings of the episode, “The Last of the Starks,” would be of the updated version

(2) CHIANG COLLECTION. Joyce Carol Oates says “Science Fiction Doesn’t Have to Be Dystopian” in a brilliant review of Ted Chiang’s new collection Exhalation for The New Yorker.

…Indeed, irony is sparse in Ted Chiang’s cosmology. It is both a surprise and a relief to encounter fiction that explores counterfactual worlds like these with something of the ardor and earnestness of much young-adult fiction, asking anew philosophical questions that have been posed repeatedly through millennia to no avail. Chiang’s materialist universe is a secular place, in which God, if there is one, belongs to the phenomenal realm of scientific investigation and usually has no particular interest in humankind. But it is also a place in which the natural inquisitiveness of our species leads us to ever more astonishing truths, and an alliance with technological advances is likely to enhance us, not diminish us. Human curiosity, for Chiang, is a nearly divine engine of progress….

(3) MILES TO GO. Rudy Rucker’s entry for Whatever’s The Big Idea is really big!

Real-life road trips end before you want them to. You run into a coastline. The road stops. I wanted a road trip that goes on and on, with ever new adventures, and with opportunities to reach terrain never tread upon before. But how to do that in a car?

I peeled Earth like a grape, snipped out the oceans, shaped the flattened skin into a disk, and put a mountain range around it. Then I laid down a bunch more of these planetary rinds, arranging them like hexagonal tiles on a very wide-ranging floor. All set for a Million Mile Road Trip.

(4) CURRENCY EVENTS. The New York Times tells about an unexpected comics publisher in “Splat! Bam! It’s the Federal Reserve to the Rescue”.  The basic info is that the New York Federal Reserve bank produces comics as teaching tools, and all three have a scifi bent.

…In one scene, a group of itinerant monetary experts lands on Alpha-Numerica (“voted 3,675,927th best place to live”), where a severe recession is underway. Residents of the planet look like pencil erasers, gumdrops and other forms of geometrically sculpted goop. Unemployment is soaring, businesses are failing, and retirees are struggling to survive.

“This is not where I wanted to be at this point in my life,” says one resident, an old purple jelly bean who is sweeping a public square. “Tell me about it,” a younger resident says to itself. This individual, a green egg, wears a cap and gown. In one hand, it holds a diploma; in the other, a sign saying, “HIRE ME?”

The situation is dire but can be solved. What is needed is “expansionary monetary policy,” declares Glix, a green, lizardlike creature who likes to sing and wear capes.

Here is a link to the New York Fed’s download site for its comic books. 

The New York Fed’s Educational Comic Book Series teaches students about basic economic principles and the Federal Reserve’s role in the financial system.

Created for students at the middle school, high school, and introductory college levels, the series can help stimulate their curiosity and raise their awareness of careers in economics and finance. In addition, lesson plans created for each comic book meet national and state standards for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

The New York Fed has published comic books since the 1950s and is reintroducing this popular series with a modern spin. While the comic books are intended for a student audience, they are also available to the public.

(5) AGAINST THE HOUSE. ScienceFiction.com brings word that “Maisie Williams Is Currently Shooting Comic-Based Thriller ‘The Owners’”.

Filming of a new comic book adaptation, ‘The Owners’ has begun outside of London, in an isolated Victorian mansion in Kent.  Based on a Belgian comic book by award-winning artist Hermann (last name Huppen), and written by his son Yves H. ‘The Owners’ is being directed by Julius Berg (‘La forêt’), with a screenplay by Berg and Mathieu Gompel (‘The Dream Kids’).  The film’s producers, XYZ Films, are currently shopping the picture around at the Cannes Film Festival.

Heading up the cast is ‘Game of Thrones’ alum Maisie Williams.  Joining her are Sylvester McCoy, Rita Tushingham, Ian Kenny, Jake Curran, Andrew Ellis, and Stacha Hicks….

(6) HELP IS ON THE WAY. I bet readers of the Scroll can’t wait til I get this — “Microsoft Word AI ‘to improve writing'”. On the other hand, Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a skeptical comment, “I’ll believe it when the spellchecker starts handling context well enough to not make dumb corrections.”

A new feature in Microsoft’s Word aims to help improve writing beyond the usual grammar fixes.

Using artificial intelligence, Ideas will suggest rewrites for clunky sentences as well as changes to make sure language is gender inclusive.

It will help users lay out different parts of a document, including tables, and suggest synonyms and alternative phrases to make writing more concise.

It will be cloud-based and initially available to users of Word Online only.

A test version of Ideas will go live in June, becoming more widely available in the autumn.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 7, 1922 Darren McGavin. Carl Kolchak on Kolchak: The Night Stalker — How many times have seen it? I’ve lost count. Yes it was corny, yes, the monsters were low rent, but it was damn fun. And no, I did not watch a minute of the reboot. (Died 2006.)
  • Born May 7, 1923 Anne Baxter. The Batman series had a way of attracting the most interesting performers and she was no exception as she ended playing two roles there, first Zelda and then Olga, Queen of the Cossacks. Other genre roles were limited I think to an appearance as Irene Adler in the Peter Cushing Sherlock Holmes film The Masks of Death. (Died 1985)
  • Born May 7, 1931 Gene Wolfe. He’s best known for his Book of the New Sun series. My list of recommended novels would include Pirate FreedomThe Sorcerer’s House and the Book of the New Sun series. (Died 2019.)
  • Born May 7, 1940 Angela Carter. She’s often said to be best known for The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories where she took took fairy tales and made them very adult in tone. Personally I’d recommend The Curious Room as contains her original screenplays for the films The Company of Wolves and The Magic Toyshop, both of which were based on her own original stories. (Died 1992.)
  • Born May 7, 1951 Gary Westfahl, 68. SF reviewer for the LA Times, Internet Review of Science Fiction and Locus Online. Editor of The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Themes, Works, and Wonders; author of  Immortal Engines: Life Extension and Immortality in Science Fiction and Fantasy (with George Slusser) and A Sense-of-Wonderful Century: Explorations of Science Fiction and Fantasy Films.
  • Born May 7, 1968 Traci Lords, 51. Yes, she did a number of reasonably legit genre appearances after her, errr, long adult acting career. She was for example in The Tommyknockers series along with the first Blade film. She’s also in the SF comedy Plughead Rewired: Circuitry Man II (I know, weird title that.) And finally, I should note she was Dejah Thoris in Princess of Mars which later re-released as John Carter of Mars. But the way her first post-adult film was a genre undertaking and that was Not of This Earth. Yes, it is a remake of Roger Corman’s 1957 film of the same name.
  • Born May 7, 1972 Jennifer Yuh Nelson, 46. She is the director of Kung Fu Panda 2, Kung Fu Panda 3, and The Darkest Minds. Yuh is the first woman to solely direct an animated feature from a major Hollywood studio. The Darkest Minds is a dystopian SF film which RT gives a rating of 17% to. Ouch. 

(8) DRAGON AWARDS SEASON. Vox Day kicks off a “Dragon Awards discussion” [Internet Archive link] with his ideas about what comics published by his Arkhaven imprint ought to win Best Comic and Best Graphic Novel. Declan Finn jumps in to tell people which of his and his friends’ books should win the other categories, but meets resistance from a commenter who says he’d rather vote for Brian Neimeier (another Sad Puppy). There might not be enough kibble to go around!

(9) POP CULTURAL APPROPRIATION. “Viggo Mortensen: Vox ‘ridiculous’ to use Aragorn image” – BBC has the story.

Viggo Mortensen has denounced far right Spanish political party Vox after it tweeted a meme featuring the actor playing Aragorn in Lord of the Rings.

The meme, shared by the nationalist party’s official Twitter account in April, showed Aragorn lining up to face off against the assembled hordes of Vox’s apparent enemies, including the media, Catalan separatists and a small ghost wearing the colours of the rainbow flag typically used to represent LGBT pride.

“Let the battle begin,” the party tweeted.

In a letter to the editor of Spanish newspaper El Pais, published on Tuesday, Mortensen said Vox’s use of his image was “absurd”.

“Not only is it absurd that I, the actor who embodied this character for [Lord of the Rings director] Peter Jackson, and a person interested in the rich variety of cultures and languages that exist in Spain and the world, is linked to an ultra-nationalist and neo-fascist political party,” the actor wrote, “it is even more ridiculous to use the character of Aragorn, a polyglot statesman who advocates knowledge and inclusion of the diverse races, customs and languages of Middle Earth, to legitimise an anti-immigrant, anti-feminist and Islamophobic political group.”

(10) GO OUT, YOUNG HUMAN! The Washington Post: “Buzz Aldrin: It’s time to focus on the great migration of humankind to Mars”. In a WaPo oped, Buzz Aldrin advocates for not just returning to the Moon, but going to Mars. And sooner rather than later. He also calls for international cooperation with other countries to make it happen.

Last month, Vice President Pence announced that we are headed back to the moon. I am with him, in spirit and aspiration. Having been there, I can say it is high time we returned. When Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and I went to the moon 50 years ago this July, we did so with a mission. Apollo 11 aimed to prove America’s can-do commitment to space exploration, as well as its national security and technological superiority. We did all that. We also “Came in Peace for all Mankind.” More of that is needed now.

Today, many nations have eyes for the moon, from China and Russia to friends in Europe and Middle East. That is all good. The United States should cooperate — and offer itself as a willing team leader — in exploring every aspect of the moon, from its geology and topography to its hydrology and cosmic history. In doing so, we can take “low-Earth orbit” cooperation to the moon, openly, eagerly and collegially.

[…] As matter of orbital mechanics, missions from Earth to Mars for migration are complex. That said, human nature — and potentially the ultimate survival of our species — demands humanity’s continued outward reach into the universe. Call it curiosity or calculation, strategic planning or destiny. Put simply: We explore, or we expire. That is why we must get on with it.

In a world of division and distraction, this mission is unifying — for all Americans and for all humankind. So, I am personally glad we are headed back to the moon — and I thank President Trump and the vice p

(11) DECOROUS THEATERS. According to The Week:

The Roxy 8 multiplex in Dickson, Tennessee, is defending its decision to call the new HELLBOY movie HECKBOY in signs outside the theater.  Manager Belinda Daniel explained that the theater does not use ‘profanity’ on signs.  ‘We are located next to an elementary school and across from a church,’ she said.

(12) A DIFFERENT KIND OF GOOD TASTE. BBC introduces you to“The man who discovered umami”, long before it made news in the West.

For centuries, humanity lived with the concept of sweet, salty, bitter and sour – but another flavour was hiding on the sidelines

Kikunae Ikeda had been thinking a lot about soup.

The Japanese chemist had been studying a broth made from seaweed and dried fish flakes, called dashi. Dashi has a very specific flavour – warm, tasty, savoury – and through laborious, lengthy separations in a chemistry lab, Ikeda had been trying to isolate the molecules behind its distinctive taste. He felt sure that there was some connection between a molecule’s shape and the flavor perception it produced in humans.

But as it was just a few years past the turn of the 19th Century, there was not yet a great deal of evidence to support the idea.

Eventually, Ikeda did manage to isolate an important taste molecule from the seaweed in dashi: the amino acid glutamate, a key building block of proteins. In a 1909 paper, the Tokyo Imperial University professor suggested that the savoury sensation triggered by glutamate should be one of the basic tastes that give something flavour, on a par with sweet, sour, bitter, and salt. He called it “umami”, riffing on a Japanese word meaning “delicious”.

(13) LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR KIWI TOUR. Good news! Natural heated swimming hole available to visit on your CoNZealand2020 trip!

Bad News! May contain a staple of SciFi — The Brain-Eating Amoebas of Kerosene Creek

Kerosene Creek is a natural hot spring near Rotorua, on the North Island of New Zealand. And there have been official warnings for years: don’t put your head under water. It turns out that “brain-eating amoebas”, naegleria fowleri, are a real, if rare, thing.

[Thanks to Chris M. Barkley, JJ, Errolwi, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Tom Boswell, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]