Pixel Scroll 12/10/23 The Pixelman Always Scrolls Twice

(1) GASBAGS OF DEATH. Let Michael Moorcock tell you all about “The hubris of the great airship designers”, in his review of His Majesty’s Airship: The Life and Tragic Death of the World’s Largest Flying Machine by S.C. Gwynne. Behind a paywall at Spectator.

…The airship race of the 1920s and 1930s carried that familiar mixture of visionary idealism, populist politics and wishful thinking which so often ended in tragedy. The explosion of the swastika-emblazoned Hindenburg in 1937 is the best known, but the years before the second world war, as countries rushed to launch successful lighter-than-air ships, saw many other disasters. Very few crashed without loss of life. Most took a substantial number of crew and passengers with them as they split in two, turned end-up, went down in flames or disappeared into the wastes of the polar ice. The only large ships to survive were withdrawn from service after dramatic test failures or the loss of sister ships. As S.C. Gwynne points out in this excellent account of perhaps Britain’s greatest imperial folly, not a single ship could pass an airworthiness test, and even ‘safe’ ships such as the Graf Zeppelin or Vickers’s ‘private’ R100 barely escaped disaster on many occasions.

The R101 was the dream of the charming imperial romantic Christopher Birdwood Thomson, who imagined a benign commonwealth held together by the power of mighty airships capable of carrying statesmen, goods and soldiers to any part of its far-flung lands. His fellow visionaries included the alcoholic daredevil G.H. Scott, our most experienced airshipman; Britain’s best navigator E.L. Johnston; and Michael Rope, R101’s designer. All of them believed that they had learned from the Zeppelins’ mistakes.

Their enthusiasm far outweighed their experience. They were fired up on Verne- and Wells-inspired serials in the likes of Modern Boy (whose long-running star was Biggles), where Britons consolidated their empire and saved the world by inventing great cigar-shaped flying machines. The Freudian appeal of those aerial monsters hasn’t gone unremarked, of course; but having experienced the euphoria of powered lighter-than-air flight, of seeing the detailed countryside passing slowly below, the only sound being the engines’ purr, I can vouch for the strong appeal of airship flight….

(2) CHICKEN OUTFIT. CBS’ Sunday Morning show today did a segment about “Aardman Animations: Creating the magic of stop-motion”.

The animation wizards behind Wallace & Gromit and Shaun the Sheep are back with a sequel to their 2000 hit feature, “Chicken Run.” Correspondent Seth Doane visits the Bristol, England studios of Aardman Animations, where artists have painstakingly filmed “Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget,” a comic adventure in which daredevil chickens seek to rescue their precious hen from a dastardly factory farm. (Think “Chicken: Impossible.”)

(3) CHANGING THE IMBALANCE. “The Book World Still Isn’t Diverse. Dhonielle Clayton Is Trying to Change That” reports the New York Times. “Her solution? A packaging business that sells ideas for commercial genre fiction featuring characters from broadly diverse backgrounds.”

 One evening this fall, a crowd of writers and publishing professionals mingled in a speakeasy-style lounge in Midtown Manhattan. The party, hosted by a new company called Electric Postcard Entertainment, was the kind of lavish affair that’s become rare for the book business in an era of corporate consolidation and cuts.

Guests traded industry gossip and sipped potent signature cocktails with names like “timeless love” and “immortality serum” — phrases that alluded to the company’s coming romance and fantasy projects. The crowd included executives from Sony, film agents and producers, book scouts, novelists and editors and publicists from publishing houses like Macmillan, Simon & Schuster and William Morrow.

The company’s sales pitch was delivered stealthily via gift bags stuffed with candles, a branded sweatshirt and tea. Along with the party swag was a small sealed envelope holding a plastic card with a QR code that led to a website, where excerpts from 10 of the company’s new book projects were posted. There was a lesbian time-travel romance, a novel about an immortal Black travel writer who wanders the globe for centuries and a fantasy about the epic rivalry between two prominent Black families who wield magic.

The stories hadn’t yet been fully written — these were teasers for potential books, and Electric Postcard, which generated those book ideas, was looking for buyers. A note on the site urged interested parties to contact New Leaf Literary & Media, an agency that represents Electric Postcard’s projects.

The mastermind behind those fictional plots and dozens more is Dhonielle Clayton — a former librarian whose hyperactive imagination has spawned a prolific factory for intellectual property. Though her name doesn’t always appear on the covers of the books she conceives, she has quietly become an influential power broker in the book world….

(4) FINALE. Rachel Stirling describes the last days of her mother, Diana Rigg, in “‘It’s gone on too long. Push me over the edge’: Diana Rigg’s dying wishes in the grip of cancer” in the Guardian. Note: explicit descriptions of patient care.

…It has taken three years for me to feel able to listen to the tapes we made. I have come to Brighton to transcribe them and to write this piece about the circumstances surrounding the recordings. I have splashed out on a room with a balcony overlooking the sea. The staff kindly moved a battered old card table into the space in front of the window so I can write down her words in long hand, which feels more suitable than typing. I light a candle, put the small tube of her ashes I have brought with me on to the table, pour a glass of her preferred prosecco, toast the raucous hen party making a right cacophony in the road below, and press play.

My mother’s dulcet tones come through loud and clear. She is two months away from death but still strong, with lungs that filled theatres before actors were ubiquitously mic’d. She is still raging, still as gloriously articulate as she always was.

“I’ve always spoken out,” she says. “I spoke out when I was very young doing The Avengers and learned I was earning less than the cameraman. I received universal opprobrium. I was called ‘money grabbing’. I spoke for peace in Vietnam, in Northern Ireland. I marched for peace in Iraq. I stood up for what is right. I speak my mind. If I see something is unfair, I’ll do my best to address it. I think this is unfair.

“I have cancer and it is everywhere, and I have been given six months to live,” she says. “Yet again we found ourselves in the bathroom this morning, my beloved daughter and I, half-laughing and half-crying, showering off together, and it was loving, and it was kind, but it shouldn’t happen.

“And if I could have beamed myself off this mortal coil at that moment, you bet I would’ve done it there and then.”

She adds that nobody talks about “how awful, how truly awful the details of this condition are, and the ignominy that is attached to it. Well, it’s high time they did. And it’s high time there was some movement in the law to give choice to people in my position. This means giving human beings true agency over their own bodies at the end of life. This means giving human beings political autonomy over their own death.”

(5) DAVID DRAKE (1945-2023). Hammers Slammers author David Drake died December 10 at the age of 78 reports the Wikipedia (and his website). He was the creator of the Lord of the Isles, RCN, and several other series of his own. He also collaborated on series with Eric Flint and S.M. Stirling, where he wrote the plot outlines and the co-author wrote the rest of the books.

Drake’s first published short story “Denkirch”, a Lovecraft pastiche, appeared in August Derleth’s 1967 collection Travellers By Night (1967). His Seventies Hammers Slammers short fiction was published in a collection under that title in 1979. That was also the year that his novel The Dragon Lord came out, the first of his works that I read, a memorable interpretation of King Arthur as rather like Mussolini.

Drake was a Vietnam War veteran who practiced as a lawyer before becoming a full-time writer.

He founded a small press, Carcosa, with Karl Edward Wagner (editor) and James Groce. Their efforts were recognized with a shared World Fantasy Award in 1976. He received the Phoenix Award for lifetime achievement, given by Southern fandom, in 1984.

In November 2021 he announced he was retiring from writing novels, due to unspecified cognitive health problems.

David Drake

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 10, 1960 Kenneth Branagh, 63. I first saw him in Much Ado About About Nothing, the Shakespearean comedy which he adapted and he is in it with his then-wife Emma Thompson. Truly lovely film.

So let’s look at his genre work as a performer. Dead Again might or might not be his first genre film where he was Mike Church / Roman Strauss, but Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein where he was Victor Frankenstein is genre and he directed it well. I’ve heard varying opinions on it. What did y’all think of it? 

Then there’s Wild Wild West where he was Arliss Loveless, some bastardized variant on Michael Dunn’s perfectly acted Dr. Miguelito Quixote Loveless. He didn’t work for me. Not at all.

Alien Love Triangle is a thirty-minute film starring Kenneth Branagh, Alice Connor, Courteney Cox and Heather Graham. Teleportation. Aliens. Genders, alien. 

He got to play in Rowling’s universe in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as Gilderoy Lockhart. Great role it was.

Oh, and in an alternate reality sort of way, he plays  William Shakespeare in All is True, another name for Shakespeare’s play Henry VIII.  It’s a very lovely role and a sweet film as well. Recommended. 

For hard SF, I’ve got him directing Thor. (Well sort of hard SF.) For fantasy, he directed Cinderella and Artemis Fowl

Finally he’s Hercules Poirot in the three Agatha Christie films produced so far — Murder on the Orient ExpressDeath on the Nile and A Haunting in Venice. He was also director and producer for these. He’s certainly a different manner of that detective. Really different.

Kenneth Branagh in 2011

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Crabgrass today is a thoughtful strip about cosmology.

(8) TAKING A BREAK FROM THE SANDBOX. Gizmodo says there probably could be a future sequel based on Dune Messiah, just don’t expect it soon: “Dune 3 Release Would Be After Another Denis Villeneuve Film”.

It’s been Denis Villeneuve’s plan since day one: adapt Frank Herbert’s epic sci-fi novel, Dunein two parts, and then bring the story of Paul Atreides to a close with an adaptation of the follow-up, Dune MessiahHe’s been saying that since before the release of Dune: Part One but, at that time, it was more a dream than reality. With each passing day though, that dream moves closer to reality, even if it’s going to take longer than fans might expect.

“[Dune Messiah is] being written right now,” the director said at a South Korean press conference, picked up by Variety. “The screenplay is almost finished but it is not finished. It will take a little time… There’s a dream of making a third movie… it would make absolute sense to me.”

Yes yes. The dream. We covered all that. But when, Denis? WHEN? “I don’t know exactly when I will go back to Arrakis,” Villeneuve added. “I might make a detour before just to go away from the sun. For my mental sanity I might do something in between, but my dream would be to go a last time on this planet that I love.”

So it seems the plan, hypothetically, is for Dune: Part Two to finally come out on March 15, 2024, Villeneuve to make another film, and then if the demand warrants it, go back to Arrakis, as he phrased it, one last time.

(9) TOYMAKER. The showrunner told Entertainment Weekly that “’Doctor Who’ star Neil Patrick Harris had ‘never heard’ of show”.

Call it How Neil Patrick Harris Met Your Favorite British Time Travel Show.

Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies tells EW that the American actor was completely unfamiliar with the beloved science fiction series when the executive producer approached Harris about playing a villain called The Toymaker on this Saturday’s final 60th anniversary special episode, “The Giggle.”

“He’d never heard of it in his life, bless him,” Davies says with a laugh. “I was lucky enough to work with the great man on a show called It’s a Sin, about the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, and working with him was such a joy. The Toymaker, he’s kind of the god of games, so he shuffles cards, he does magic tricks, and all of that fits Neil Patrick Harris. If you go through agents, they often tell you to go away. I was able to send just a text saying, ‘Do you fancy reading this?’ He read it and literally phoned me up going, ‘Let me get this right, so the Doctor’s an alien, right?’ I was like, ‘Oh my god, you really have never heard of Doctor Who!’ But he couldn’t resist it, and he came to Cardiff, and we had the most spectacular time.”…

(10) BEWARE SPOILER. Probably stop reading now if you want to keep your Doctor Who experience pristine until you’ve watched the latest installment. Otherwise, the Nerdist explains “DOCTOR WHO Uses the Toymaker to Teach Real Life TV History Lesson”.

…While the Toymaker is fictional, the episode’s story about a dummy named Stooky Bill, the first TV image, and John Logie Baird are real….

(11) PLENTY OF ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT. “Cherokee language on the packaging of the Wilma Mankiller doll said ‘Chicken Nation’ instead of ‘Cherokee Nation.’ Critics said Mattel made other errors.” “Mattel Has a New Cherokee Barbie. Not Everyone Is Happy About It.” – the New York Times has the story.

A Barbie doll in the likeness of Wilma Mankiller, the first woman to be elected chief of the Cherokee Nation, has been hailed by tribal citizens. It’s also been lamented for its inaccuracies.

An event held Tuesday in Tahlequah, Okla., marked the anniversary of Ms. Mankiller becoming chief in 1985 and celebrated her Barbie doll. Mattel, the company that produces Barbie dolls, announced the new toy last month as part of the “Inspiring Women” series that includes the conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall, the journalist Ida B. Wells and the writer Maya Angelou.

The doll’s release has been met with some criticism. The doll itself portrays Ms. Mankiller, who died in 2010, with dark hair, wearing a turquoise dress and carrying a basket, a depiction that Chuck Hoskin Jr., principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, said was “thoughtful” and “well done.” However, he noted that some in the community said the doll’s basket wasn’t authentically Cherokee.

To someone who doesn’t read Cherokee syllabary, they’re not going to notice it,” Mr. Hoskin said. “To the Cherokee people for whom Wilma is of such enduring significance and we have such enduring love for her, to see our seal incorrect, it’s very disappointing because it would not have taken much effort or thought to avoid that.”

The packaging also identified the tribe as “Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma,” instead of the tribe’s official name, Cherokee Nation, which is used in all of the tribe’s treaties with the federal government.

I don’t like to blame anybody, but I really wish that they could have gotten the packaging correct,” said Pamela Iron, the executive director of the nonprofit American Indian Resource Center and a close of friend of Ms. Mankiller….

(12) ADVANTAGES OF DIVERSITY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] In this week’s Science journal there is an article arguing that increasing diversity on spacecraft mission teams reduces risk.

Lack of diversity on spacecraft teams creates risks for a mission. Many studies show that diverse teams outperform homogeneous teams because they focus on and process facts better and are more innovative—essential skills for a spacecraft mission team. Additional studies show that improving diversity is most critical in four types of activities: launching a new product, troubleshooting an existing product or process, planning for the future, and responding to crises. Spacecraft missions involve all four activities, so teams that lack diversity have an increased risk of failures at all stages of the development process. This issue needs to be addressed.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Variety covers last night’s episode of Saturday Night Live in “Adam Driver ‘SNL’ Monologue: ‘Wokeness Killed Han Solo’”.

Adam Driver is done with your “Star Wars” complaints.

As the host of the Dec. 9 episode of “Saturday Night Live,” he performed his monologue while playing the piano and reciting a letter of Christmas wishes to Santa.

“I would like people to stop coming up to me on the street saying, ‘You killed Han Solo!’,” he said. “I didn’t kill him. Wokeness killed Han Solo.”…

… He began the Christmas list saying, “Hey, Santa. It’s me, Adam Driver, from the nice list. And also ‘Girls.’ I turned 40 this year, Santa, so I would like five pairs of chinos. I also want one of those giant metal Tesla trucks. I think it would pair perfectly with my teeny tiny micropenis.”…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I Am He-Man.”

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

“Why is he blue?”

“Excuse me, boss?”

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

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

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

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

3. Onward (2020)

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

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

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

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

(9) MEMORY LANE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like something underwater … 

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

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

Drifting …

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

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

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

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

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

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

“Yeah, all right,” says the oldest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Chaste,” I say.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pixel Scroll 4/27/23 Only The True Pixel Denies His Divinity

(1) BOASE AWARD. The UK’s Branford Boase Award honors debut efforts in children’s books and the editors as well as authors behind them. There are three works on The Branford Boase Award 2023 Shortlist of genre interest:

The other shortlisted works are:

  • The Bones of Me by Kel Duckhouse, edited by Harriet Birkinshaw, Flying Eye Books YA
  • Seed by Caryl Lewis, edited by Sarah Hughes, illustrated by George Ermos, Macmillan Children’s Books 7+
  • The Cats We Meet Along the Way, Nadia Mikail, edited by Bella Pearson, Guppy Books YA
  • Ellie Pillai is BrownChristine Pillainayagam, edited by Leah Thaxton, Faber 13+
  • The Map of Leaves, Yarrow Townsend, edited by Rachel Leyshon, Chicken House 10+

(2) SMALL PRESS WINS AWARD WITH GENRE BOOK. “Dead Ink wins Republic of Consciousness prize with Missouri Williams’s ‘astonishing’ debut” in the Guardian.

…First awarded in 2017, the Republic of Consciousness prize is given to the best literary novel published by a small press in the UK and Ireland with fewer than five employees. Over the past seven years the prize has awarded almost £100,000 to more than 25 small presses and writers….

Dead Ink Books has won the Republic of Consciousness prize for small presses for Missouri Williams’s “astonishing” debut novel The Doloriad. Yet while Dead Ink and Williams will get the prestige of winning, the entire shortlist will receive the same reward. Each of the five books wins £1,000, split 70:30 between publisher and author, on top of the £300 awarded to the 10 longlisted titles, which was paid to the presses only.

Prague-based Williams’s novel is set in the imagined wake of a mysterious disaster that has wiped out most of humanity. One family, descended from incest, remains, ruled by a merciless woman known only as the Matriarch. When the Matriarch believes there might be more survivors she sends one of her daughters, the legless Dolores, as a marriage offering….

(3) HOW LONG? Author Hana Lee built a tool designed to calculate how many copies an author must sell to earn out an advance. [Via Publishers Weekly.]

“Earning out” means that the amount you’ve “earned” in royalties from copies sold (across all formats) equals or exceeds your advance payment.

(4) CON OR BUST AUCTION RETURNS. Dream Foundry’s Con or Bust program makes direct cash grants to creators or fans of color to assist with travel, food, registration, and other expenses associated with attending industry events. They are bringing back The Con or Bust Auction to raise money for their grants and are looking for donors for items of interest to potential auction buyers. “Think special experiences (like author Q&As), art, limited and/or special edition copies of books, ARCs for anticipated releases, etc.”

They want to have donations in by the end of June for inclusion this year. See full information on the program and how to contact them about donations here. Dream Foundry is a recognized non-profit and any donations given to us are tax deductible.

(5) ELLIOTT Q&A. Paul Weimer asks the questions in “Interview: Kate Elliott, author of Furious Heaven at Nerds of a Feather.

Furious Heaven, being a sequel to Unconquerable Sun, is a middle book in a series. How has the writing of this been the same, and different than other series that you have done? 

My goal with each of the three books of this trilogy has been, and continues to be, to shape each individual volume as if it is a standalone. Unconquerable Sun completes several of its major plot threads and, I believe, ends at a satisfying point. If I’ve done my job right, the reader will feel they’ve read a complete story and ALSO wish to read more.

Middle volumes are peculiarly hard. It’s important, in my opinion, to avoid “adding more beads onto the string” — that is, just to add more incident without complicating or expanding on the original elements of the story. A middle volume can add layers, unexpected twists and outcomes; it can deepen the characters and guide the reader into new landscapes and unknown dangers only hinted at in book one. That’s how I worked with (for example) Shadow Gate (Crossroads), Cold Fire (Spiritwalker), and Poisoned Blade (Court of Fives), which are all second volumes in trilogies that make the story bigger and show the reader new places and new conflicts.

With Furious Heaven I specifically wanted to do my best to make the story readable by someone who hadn’t read book one, while also having it build on what had come before…. 

(6) DUNE 2 PREVIEW. “’Dune: Part Two’—An Exclusive First Look at the Saga’s Epic Conclusion”Vanity Fair offers descriptions and photos, but no video.

If you want to know where Dune: Part Two will begin, just look to the ending of the 2021 original. Director Denis Villeneuve wants to make it clear that his new movie, set for release November 3, is not so much another film as a continuation of the first. “It’s important—it’s not a sequel, it’s a second part. There’s a difference,” Villeneuve tells Vanity Fair for this exclusive first look. “I wanted the movie to really open just where we left the characters. There’s no time jump. I wanted dramatic continuity with part one.”…

….Although the first part of Dune became one of the first post-pandemic blockbusters and was nominated for 10 Oscars, winning six, the filmmaker himself still fixates on what he feels he could have done better. “You have to accept your failures as an artist,” he says. “It’s a task that was almost impossible, for me to be absolutely faithful to what those childhood dreams were. But what brings a lot of peace in my heart is that I brought a lot of them to the screen, a lot of them are close to what I had imagined.”

For now, Villeneuve is keeping his head down, staying focused on his work. “I’m deep into sound design and the visual effects, and it’s a race against time,” he says. Even discussing the film for this story was taxing for him. “I’ll be very blunt, okay?” he says with a smile, deploying the most Canadian analogy imaginable. “It’s very difficult for me to start to talk about a movie when I’m doing it. It’s like asking a hockey player to describe how he will score as he is skating toward the net.” 

Meanwhile, The Onion is skeptical: “’Dune: Part Two’ To Pick Up Right Where Viewers Fell Asleep During First One”.

(7) URSA MAJOR AWARDS. The group that runs the Ursa Major Awards for anthropomorphic works is asking for financial support. Contact them at the Ursa Major Awards website.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2003[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

One of my very favorite authors is Emma Bull (she and Will are on the chocolate gifting list) and Finder: A Novel of The Borderland is a novel that I’ve read at least a half dozen times to date.

Without stating any spoilers, I think it’s safe to say that Emma created truly believable characters, from the primary ones to the ones that just exist to enhance out the story, the setting of the city itself, and a story that makes the most of the setting that Bull has fleshed out from what Terri Windling created originally in this series.

The novel is available readily for quite reasonable prices in various editions, print and digital. 

And here’s the Beginning straight from the Border…

“My father he rides with your sheriffs

And I know he would never mean harm…

— Richard Thompson, “Genesis Hall”

 Chapter 1. Falling Out of Paradise

I remember where I was and what I was doing when Bonnie Prince Charlie was killed. Not that I knew it at the time, of course. But while Charlie was traveling the distance from the Pigeon Cloisters belfry to High Street with all the dispatch that gravity can muster, I was sunbathing.

If the weather had held, I’d have been on the roof of my building the next day, too, spread out like a drying sweater. But it promised rain. (If the forecast had been different, would the past be, too? Would a lot of people still be here? This town is strange and has weather to match, but I never imagined it was a matter of life and death.)

So when Tick-Tick pounded on the frame of my open front door, I was in and washing dishes. She poked her head in and shouted, “I am the queen’s daughter, I come from Twelfth and Flynn, in search of Young Orient, pray God I find him!”

I lifted my hands dripping from the suds, took the herbal cigarette out of the corner of my mouth, and said, “Excuse me?”

“Well, in a manner of speaking,” said the Ticker placidly. She stalked in, the picture of elven self-possession, and picked a saucer out of the dishpan with thumb and forefinger. “Mab’s grace. So low as you’ve fallen, my precious boy.”

“I’m out of cups. Nothing else would have driven me to it.” The water had killed my cigarette. I sighed and flicked it out the window.

She dropped into my upholstered chair and swung her long legs over the arm. Her concession to summer’s heat, I noticed, was to tear the sleeves off her favorite pair of gray mechanic’s coveralls and roll the legs up to mid-calf. And still she did look rather like a queen’s daughter; but the elves usually look like royalty. When they’re trying not to, they only look like royalty in a cheap plastic disguise. Tick-Tick had a face like the bust of Nefertiti, only more daunting, and her eyes were huge and long and the gray of January ice.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 27, 1899 Walter Lantz. Cartoonist, animator, producer and director who founded Walter Lantz Productions. He created the Woody Woodpecker and Chilly Willy characters among others. He received an Academy Award “for bringing joy and laughter to every part of the world through his unique animated motion pictures”. (Died 1994.)
  • Born April 27, 1901 Frank Belknap Long. John Hertz says that Long should be singled out for the “To Follow Knowledge” novelette which he lovingly discuses here.  I only add that Long received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. (Died 1994.)
  • Born April 27, 1920 Doris Baumgardt.Well-known and loved fan, illustrator and writer. She was a member of the Futurians, and a founding member of FAPA. She was also a member of the CPASF and the Science Fictioneers. She was one of five members of the Futurians allowed into the first World Science Fiction Convention by Sam Moskowitz — the other four were Isaac Asimov, David Kyle, Jack Robinson and Richard Wilson. She wrote three pieces of short fiction that were published in the Forties and Fifties; she contributed artwork to fanzines. (JJ) (Died 1970.)
  • Born April 27, 1958 Caroline Spector, 65. She was an Associate Editor at Amazing Stories for several years, but her main genre connection is her fiction in George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards series where she has seven stories. She also a Shadowrun novel, Worlds Without End. (Now that was an interesting RPG!) she also has an essay, “Power and Feminism in Westeros” in James Lowder’s Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, From A “Game of Thrones” to “A Dance with Dragons
  • Born April 27, 1962 Rachel Caine. She had two ongoing endeavors, the Weather Warden series which is most excellent and the superb Great Library series. I can’t speak to the Morganville Vampires series as I don’t do vampires really. And yes, I know she’s got a number of other series, far more than can detailed be here. (Died 2020.)
  • Born April 27, 1963 Russell T. Davies, 60. Responsible for the 2005 revival on BBC One of Doctor Who. (A Whovian since the very beginning, he thinks “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” has the best dialogue in the entire series, an opinion I concur with.) Of course he’s also responsible for Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures as well. (Need I note that the The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot was his idea?) Davies returned as the showrunner in October 2022 after the departure of Chris Chibnall; the first episodes of his second tenure will be the show’s sixtieth anniversary specials in 2023.
  • Born April 27, 1986 Catherine Webb, 37. She’s writes under a number of names but I only know her under her Kate Griffin name where she wrote the extraordinary London set Matthew Swift series which one of the best urban fantasy series I ever read. I’ve not read any of her fiction written as Claire North which is major other name, so if you have, do tell me how it is. As North, her book The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August won the Clarke Award and Campbell Memorial Award, and The Sudden Appearance of Hope won a World Fantasy Award. Now go read the Matthew Swift series! 

(10) JOBS MAGNET. “As New York Boosts Tax Breaks for Movies, Some Critics Pan the Program” reports the New York Times.

 Four years ago, Amazon pulled the plug on its plans to build a headquarters in New York City, amid left-wing outrage over a $3 billion public subsidy package. But New York has hardly cut the company off: Amazon’s film and TV arm has received more than $108 million in state tax credits since then, and the left has raised nary a peep.

The handout is part of a state program that provides hundreds of millions of dollars each year in tax incentives to producers across the film and television industry, including Amazon — helping fuel a rapid expansion of studios in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Westchester County.

Now, Gov. Kathy Hochul is pushing to expand the program by nearly 70 percent, using the proposed state budget to shower as much as $7.7 billion in tax credits on the industry over the next 11 years. As it now stands, the subsidy is the most generous of any offered by the state, according to an analysis by Reinvent Albany, a watchdog group.

The proposed expansion to $700 million a year from $420 million has drawn stern rebukes from a range of critics who argue the decades-old program has consistently been a bad deal for taxpayers. But its likely success shows what is possible when powerful political and economic forces align in Albany, and states are increasingly pitted against each other for prestige jobs.

Ms. Hochul’s team is most concerned about neighboring New Jersey, which, along with Georgia and Canada, offers its own buffet of sweeteners that threatens to siphon film projects from New York.

(11) WWII RESISTANCE WORK. “Colorful Stories for Children, With the Darkest History as Backdrop” in the New York Times.  Includes many pictures from the books.  

During World War II, a clutch of whimsical children’s books were published in the Netherlands under a pen name, El Pintor. One book shows children flying on the backs of sparrows. In another, they float, attached to balloons. There is a pop-up book with people and animals nestled in trees and an activity book with paper cutouts.

The books sold thousands of copies, and were popular not only in the Netherlands, which was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany in 1940, but in Germany as well.

The books did more than entertain children during the grim days of war. Behind the pseudonym El Pintor was a Jewish couple, Galinka Ehrenfest and Jacob Kloot. They used the name El Pintor to obscure their heritage, and funneled the proceeds from their picture books to fund Dutch resistance efforts and to help Jews who were hiding from the Nazi regime.

They did so at great risk, said Linda Horn, who wrote a book published in the Netherlands about Ehrenfest’s life.

“Secrecy was very important, people couldn’t write down what they were doing,” said Horn of those who worked in the Dutch resistance. “There are barely any sources.”…

(12) TODAY’S DAY. It’s World Hyena Day today. Which is important if you’re into furry fiction.

(13) HISTORY-MAKING AMATEUR FILM CLUB. [Item by Ahrvid Enghom.] UK fan Jim Walker suddenly appears in the new documentary “A Bunch of Amateurs” (eg 37h30m in, but also later and in the credits), a film about the world’s perhaps oldest amateur film club, the Bradford Movie Makers founded in 1932.

Available here for UK viewers  (Geo-blocking may be overcome by VPN or something, if you know how.) I’ve seen the film, which has been on our local SVT.

(See also e.g. “Bradford-Based Feature Documentary A Bunch Of Amateurs”) — Bradford Movie Makers. They seem to have done some skiffy flicks among their 300 productions over 90 years, e.g. a Superman parody which is shown in this documentary.

Jim Walker

(14) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 82 of Octothorpe, “Metatextual Dinosaurs”

John Coxon, Alison Scott and Liz Batty talk about their Hugo Award nominations. You have about four days to vote, so get your skates on! Read and watch everything we recommend! Do it now!

(15) APEX ACQUIRES KEENE BOOK. Apex Book Company has acquired first North America English trade paperback rights to the novel Island Of The Dead by Brian Keene in a deal brokered by the author.

Island Of The Dead is a horror/sword and sorcery novel in which an enslaved barbarian plots his escape from a war galley transporting soldiers and a mysterious biological weapon. But when a storm at sea leaves them shipwrecked on a mysterious island, friend and foe alike must band together against a ravenous, steadily growing horde of the undead.

Through Apex Books, Keene has written the Lost Level series of dark fantasy novels and co-authored the Rogan Chronicles series with Steven Shrewsbury.

Brian Keene is the author of over fifty books, mostly in the horror, crime, fantasy, and non-fiction genres. His 2003 novel, The Rising, is credited (along with Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comic and Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later film) with inspiring pop culture’s recurrent interest in zombies.

(16) STALKER. “A Russian ‘inspector’ satellite appears to be chasing a secret US military satellite in a game of cat and mouse” – see photos at MSN.com.

mysterious Russian satellite and a confidential US military satellite appear to be engaged in a cat-and-mouse chase through space.

The Russian spacecraft, called Kosmos-2558, was launched into the same orbital plane as the US satellite, called USA-326, in August 2022 and has regularly passed close to the American spacecraft ever since.

The behavior of Kosmos-2558, and the lack of a formal explanation from Russia, has led space observers to believe that the probe is stalking USA-326. It’s at least the third satellite Russia has launched that appears to be an “inspector” — a spacecraft aiming to gather up-close data on another satellite….

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Ahrvid Engholm, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask #72

WORLDCON 80 – A PICTORIAL ESSAY 

By Chris M. Barkley and Juli Marr.

AUGUST 30, 2022 – TRAVEL DAY

My partner Juli and I set out on a beautiful morning for Chicago. One of our favorite sights is the immense Meadow Lake Wind Farm (which generates 801.25 megawatts of electricity) consisting of 301 turbines, just northwest of  Lafayette, Indiana. I have always been in awe of the size and scope of this modern marvel of engineering.

We arrived at dusk and were treated to the enchanting vista of Chicago at night by the river…

SEPTEMBER 1ST

Blues Brothers Cap

Since I was going to be dwelling in the hometown of the Blues Brothers, I thought it would be appropriate to be attired properly.

Galaxy ‘s Edge Editor Lezli Robyn and myself by Juli Marr

One of the first people Juli and I met at Chicon 8 was Galaxy’s Edge Editor and Arc Manor Assistant Publisher Robyn Lezli, who was a large display of books and magazines with her benevolent (and generous) boss, Shahid Mahmud.

Journey Planet

On my way to the Press Office, Christopher Garcia threw a copy of Journey Planet (paperboy style) as we passed each other. Here is a photo of it in mid-flight…

One of the first things I unpacked for the Press Office was this item. When the staff assembled that first morning, I told them in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that if they stepped out of line, I would not hesitate to blow the Illuminated Death Star Beach Ball up! Needless to say, it remained deflated during the duration of the convention.

SEPTEMBER 2

After several delays (and escapades) involving the United States Department of State and airline hijinks, Nigeria’s rising literary star (and double Hugo Finalist), Oghenechowe Donald Ekpeki finally arrived at Chicon 8. I greeted him at the Galaxy’s Edge table in the Dealer’s Room with two facemasks and an envelope with some valuable personal papers. Needless to say, everyone was overjoyed to see him…

Myself, Laura and Navia Moorman, photo by Juli Marr

Also on hand were my daughter, Laura, her husband Charlie (not pictured, unfortunately) and my granddaughter, Navia. They were here to witness my (possible) Hugo Award acceptance speech on Sunday. I may have felt the sting of disappointment by not winning but I was so incredibly happy they were all there.

 Chicago By Day…

Dan Berger, Juli Marr and Sushee Blat pondering

So here are my Press Office mates, Dan Berger, Juli Marr and Sooshe Blat Harkins, pondering where we should go for dinner along the Chicago Riverwalk. Rest assured, we did eat that evening…

Chicago After Dark…

SEPTEMBER 3RD

Day Three of Chicon 3, another beautiful morning.

The Chicon 8 Hugo Award

 On my way to the Press office, I made some time Saturday morning to stop by the Exhibit Hall and check out this year’s Hugo Award trophy. This magnificent award was handcrafted by the renowned Chicago artist and business entrepreneur Brian Keith Ellison of BKE Designs.

Chicon 8 Panelists

Ah, FINALLY, a photo from a Chicon 8 panel. Here are the panelists of “Movie Year in Review: A Curated Look at Genre Films (2021–2022)” moderated by yours truly.  From left to right are: Matthew S. Rotundo, Daryll Mansel, Joshua Bilmes and Deirdre Crimmins. We had fun. You should have been there.

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki and Seanan Maguire

I was checking up on how Mr. Ekpeki was getting along in the Dealer’s Room when up ZOOMED fellow Hugo Award Finalist Seanan Maguire on her scooter. They both knew of a photo opportunity when they saw it…  

Regency John Hertz

It’s Saturday Night so you know it’s time for another magnificent appearance by fandom’s favorite, and most regal, Masquerade Judge, John Hertz!  

Masquerade Ensemble

And here is a wide shot of all the Chicon 8 Masquerade contestants. I apologize for it being out of focus; I BLAME the three apparitions lighting up in the middle of the photo. I don’t recall who they are but let’s face it, they lit up the joint that evening.

SEPTEMBER 4TH

Breakfast of Champions

It’s THE BIG DAY! And that calls for a BIG BREAKFAST, courtesy of the Chicon 8 Staff Lounge. I hadn’t had a bowl of Rice Chex in AGES. (As a kid, I used to inhale whole boxes in a single sitting. Ah, those were the days…). Anyway, kudos to everyone who helped kept us fed during the convention.   

Juli and I are very sneaky. We knew in advance that Sunday was Lezli Robyn’s birthday so we planned something a little special for her. The day before we left, we packed and wrapped her gift specially for her. We have both known for years that Lezli is a bit, uh, accident prone. After the fifth or sixth incident we started threatening to just roll her in bubble wrap, for her own safety and protection. Well at Chicon 8, we decided on this preemptive strike before disaster struck again. As you can see, a nice birthday card was placed on top of the package. And you can see Lezli’s reaction as she realized that bubble wrap was all that was left in the box. All for her. We were later informed by sources that she used the bubble wrap as a pillow (in an appropriate place, mind you) when she needed to nap. You’re welcome, Lezli, anytime. 

Catherynne Valente

After delivering Ms. Robyn’s gift, I stole a few minutes from my Press Office duties to have a novel by Catherynne M. Valente signed. We met before when she had a signing at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati where I worked for many years. She remembered me and enthusiastically remarked that she had a great time and would love to return for a visit someday. I told her I would pass the word along.  

As the day wore on, the more nervous I became. Since there wasn’t much going on that afternoon, I turned my attention to writing a Hugo Award acceptance speech and a concession speech (which was published on File 770 that very evening). Everyone wished me luck but deep down, I knew that I was long shot to actually win. (And, as it turned out, I was right, finishing second in the nomination count and fifth overall in the vote standings.)

O. Donald Ekpeki and myself, photo by Juli Marr

At the Chicon 8 Hugo Award Reception, Mr. Ekpeki and I were recessed to the nines!

Hugo Award Fan Writer Finalists, photo by Juli Marr

Your 2022 Hugo Award Finalists in the Fan Writing Category; from left to right, Jason Sanford, myself, Paul Weimer and Bitter Karella. 

The Crowd gathers for the start of the Hugo Awards Ceremony.

My Date, My Love and My Partner, the lovely and vivacious Juli Marr.

My Fellow 2022 Hugo Award Finalist Steven H Silver and his partner, Elaine Silver. 

Chuck Serface

My Fellow 2022 Hugo Award Finalist Chuck Serface.

Our 2022 Hugo Award Ceremony Hosts, Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders.

Olav Rokne and Myself at the After Party, photo by Juli Marr

Two Hugo Losers commiserating, Olav Rokne and myself (being subtly photobombed by Vincent Docherty) at the Chengdu Hugo Reception.

Laura Moorman and myself, photo by Juli Marr

My daughter Laura and I at the Glasgow Bid Party.

My daughter Laura is seen here holding the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form for Dune (Part 1). The award was offered for photos by Chicon 8 Advisor Dave McCarty, whom we thank profusely for the opportunity.

SEPTEMBER 5TH AND 6TH

John Hertz and Myself, photo by Juli Marr

And it’s all over but the shouting. Here John Hertz and I are watching the proceedings, counting down until the dead dog parties start… 

Myself, Jonathan P. Brazee and Maurizio Manzieri, photo by Juli Marr

After Closing Ceremonies, Juli and I met author Col.Jonathan P. Brazee and Hugo Award Finalist (Best Professional Artist) Maurizio Manzieri outside the hotel on their way to an early dinner.   

Berger, Berger and Blat-Harkins

As we wind down a day after Chicon 8 has officially ended, we shared a final meal with Dan Berger, Terry Berger and Sooshe Blat Harkins, who were a tremendous help in the Chicon 8 Press Office. 

Your humble correspondents

A final portrait from Chicago of your humble correspondents, myself and Juli Marr. Until next time, Goodbye and Good Luck… 

Pixel Scroll 1/25/22 In The Clearing Stands A Pixel And A Scroller By Its Trade

(1) WORLDWIDE CHANGE. Reuters Graphics explores how non-binary people identify themselves in highly-gendered languages around the world, using animated examples to explain the challenges to English-language readers. “Beyond pronouns: How languages are reshaping to include nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people”.

Not everyone identifies as a woman or a man. The movement to recognize gender identities beyond female and male is growing in places like Western Europe and the United States, and changing languages around the world.

In English, the pronouns people use — such as ‘she,’ ‘he,’ or ‘they’ — have come to the fore. In some languages, other parts of speech can also be feminine or masculine.

Modifying language to reflect a spectrum of gender identities is a fundamental change that stirs fierce debate….

(2) FIRST CHAIR. Actor Doug Jones will receive the inaugural The Chair Award from the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild (IATSE Local 706). Star Trek: Discovery’s Sonequa Martin-Green will present the honor during the guild’s awards ceremony on February 19 — The Hollywood Reporter has details.  

He’s known for roles such as the so-called Amphibian Man in Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Waterwhich won 2017’s best picture Oscar, and Pale Man in del Toro’s Oscar-winning Pan’s Labyrinth. He was the Silver Surfer in Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer and the blue fish-man Abe Sapien in del Toro’s Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Jones is also the villainous title character in a remake of Nosferatu, currently in postproduction.

TV roles have included such series as Star Trek: Discovery, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Falling Skies….

(3) VILLENEUEVE TO MAKE RENDEZVOUS. Movieweb reports “Denis Villeneuve to Direct Rendezvous with Rama Adaptation”.

It seems as if Denis Villeneuve can’t keep his eyes from the stars. The director of 2021’s Dune has been signed on to direct another science fiction adaptation. This time the subject will be Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke.

The project was picked up by Alcon Entertainment, who previously worked with Villeneuve on Prisoners and Blade Runner 2049. The rights to the novel had previously been under the control of Morgan Freeman and his partner Lori McCreary’s Revelations Entertainment. The film has been a passion project of Freeman since the early 2000s, but the project was stuck in development hell for many years.

It seems as if the film is finally going to get its wings with this new partnership at last. Alcon will be financing the project….

(4) WHEN NOT ONLY KANGAROOS HAVE POCKETS. At CrimeReads, “Juneau Black” (pen name of Jocelyn Cole and Sharon Nagel) discusses how to write an animal fantasy where the animals have human characteristics: “How To Craft Non-Human Characters With Plenty of Personality”.

… Our problem in a nutshell: Foxes don’t own handkerchiefs. Well, that’s an obvious statement, isn’t it? Of course they don’t. They don’t have hands. Yet in the world of Shady Hollow, our civilized animal denizens do wear clothes and own accruements and if someone starts blubbering into their coffee, it would be downright rude to not offer a clean bit of cloth to soothe them.

But what to call that cloth? It has to be a word that instantly conveys the idea of handkerchief, without the human-centric assumption of hands. We could call it a pawkerchief…but that sounds too cutesy for a book with murders in it. So we looked for alternatives: Hankie? No, it’s a riff on “hand” and therefore isn’t a word that would exist in this world (and its logical equivalent “pawkie” is so twee it’s sickening). Snot rag is accurate but maybe too gross. Pocket square turned out to be our winner, since it describes the object in a way that the characters themselves would understand….

(5) THEY ASKED HIM ANYTHING. Hosted today at Reddit – “I’m Gideon Marcus, science fiction writer, publisher, space historian…and time traveler. Ask Me Anything!” In connection with Galactic Journey he said:

…Our coolest new project is watching the original Star Trek “as it comes out” on the original air dates (minus 55 years). And they’ve got the original commercial breaks in them! It’s been fascinating watching this classic in its original form, and with about a dozen young people who have never seen it before. We’ve also been reading the period trekzines and fanzines of the time, and that’s been a trip.

…Thank you! It’s been really neat. The show was designed with the traditional four act and teaser format, punctuated with little cliffhangers. The commercials give the show room to breathe and marinate. Plus, the period ads give context — you go from Kirk fighting a giant lizard to… cigarette ads.

Hey, they’re both killers!

(6) FANCAST Q&A. Cora Buhlert posted another Fancast Spotlight for GeekShock, a podcast run by several people who met while working at a Star Trek live show in Las Vegas: “Fancast Spotlight: GeekShock”.

Tell us about your podcast or channel.

GeekShock is a podcast about the week-in-geek. We like to think we’re a funny bunch, so we style ourselves as a comedy podcast. We approach geek topics of the day however they may strike us as humorous, but we get serious when serious subjects arise. We talk about movies and television of course, but we also cover subjects in comics, games of all types (video, board, tabletop rpg), geek accessories i.e., toys, collectables, curiosities, and genre literature.

(7) 17TH CENTURY SPACE EXPLORATION. The Huntington hosts a free Zoom lecture, “Blasting into Space: The Poetics of Faith and Astronomy in 17th-Century England”, by Wendy Wall on February 16, at 7:30 p.m. Pacific. Register at the link.

In this lecture, Wendy Wall, Professor of the Humanities at Northwestern University, describes how 17th-century woman Hester Pulter, while sick and confined to her bedroom after giving birth to her 15th child, sought solace in an unusual way: she wrote poems about taking off into space to explore planets in the heliocentric universe. While intellectuals of the day feared that new conceptions of astronomy undermined cherished religious beliefs, Pulter was exhilarated in incorporating cutting-edge ideas about space into a new type of devotional poem. How can this relatively newly discovered female poet enlarge our understanding of ways that writers used poetry to interconnect religion, science, and the imagination? How might Pulter’s poetry reveal previously unacknowledged ways that early modern women engaged in intellectual production and the mapping of the heavens, even from their remote estates or bedrooms?

(8) THE SCIENCE IN THIS FICTION. In “Malorie Blackman on seeing her sci-fi novel about a pig heart transplant come true”, the author tells Guardian readers that questions are the best place to start when writing a book.

What some call science fiction, I prefer to call science possible or sometimes science probable. One branch of sci-fi is based on imagined technological or scientific advances, and major social or environmental changes. It was that branch that I embraced when I wrote Pig Heart Boy. I loved the idea of exploring xenotransplantation through the eyes of Cameron, a 13-year-old boy with a bad heart who just wants to live. I found the whole notion of transplanting organs from one species into another fascinating and the perfect subject matter for a children’s book.

Now I hasten to add that I’m not a scientist or expert on xenotransplantation, nor do I claim to be. I’m a layperson with a love of science who occasionally reads science magazines. My approach was from an author’s angle, spending months on research before writing a single word…

(9) ANOTHER NAME FROM APPENDIX N. Ngo Vinh-Hoi profiles fantasy writer John Bellairs, one of the more obscure names listed in the Appendix N to the original D&D Dungeon Master’s Handbook: “Adventures in Fiction: John Bellairs” at Goodman Games.

… The modest success of The Face in the Frost was enough for Bellairs to turn to full-time writing, and his next work The House with a Clock in its Walls was also a dark fantasy. Supposedly Bellairs had difficulty selling the book until a publisher suggested rewriting it as a young adult (YA) book set in the fictionalized Michigan of Bellairs’s childhood. The House with a Clock in its Walls proved to be a huge critical and sales success, so much so that Bellairs became a full-time YA author for the rest of his career, completing a total of 15 books for young readers, most of which were illustrated by the great Edward Gorey….

(10) WILL THE REAL CONAN PLEASE STAND UP. Howard Andrew Jones explains which of the many Conan pastiche novels are worth reading: “The Best Of The Conan Pastiche Novels” at Goodman Games.

… You can fit the sum total of all the Conan that Howard wrote (including some fragments and rejected stories) into one large hardback. That’s not a lot of fiction about such a great character, and so for decades, people have been trying to create new tales of adventure starring Conan, mostly because they wanted MORE!

What makes those stories pastiche instead of fanfic, I suppose, is that many of these writers were paid to write it and the result was distributed widely. You would assume that meant that the work was well-edited and had some kind of consistency, but a lot of people, me among them, would tell you you’re wrong….

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1971 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fifty-one years ago, City Beneath the Sea premiered on NBC. It had a tangled history as it was originally a pilot for a series that Irwin Allen had pitched to that network several years earlier. The film itself was an expansion of a much shorter idea reel that Allen had shown to the network. 

The story was by Allen, but the screenplay was by John Meredyth Lucas who had written four Trek episodes, “Elaan of Troyius”, “The Changeling”, “Patterns of Force” and “That Which Survives” in addition to direction and production duties there. 

The primary cast was Stuart Whitman, Rosemary Forsyth, Robert Colbert, Burr DeBenning, Robert Wagner, Joseph Cotten and Richard Basehart. Irwin’s suggested cast for the series was Glenn Corbett, Lloyd Bochner, Lawrence Montaigne, Francine York, Cecile Ozorio and James Brolin.

I couldn’t, for love or money, find any critical reviews of the film. Rotten Tomatoes has none which is highly unusual.  Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes weren’t fond of it giving it a rating of just forty percent.  Here’s the trailer for it. City Beneath the Sea (1967).

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 25, 1905 Margery Sharp. Her best remembered work is The Rescuers series which concerns a mouse by the name of Miss Bianca. They were later adapted in two Disney animated films, The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under. I’m reasonably sure I’ve seen the first one a very long time ago. Her genre novel, The Stone of Chastity, is according to her website, based on English folklore. Other than the first volume of The Rescuer series, she’s not really available digitally though she is mostly in print in the dead tree format. (Died 1991.)
  • Born January 25, 1918 King Donovan. Jack Belicec in the original and by far the best version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Thirty years later, he’d be Lunartini Husband in Nothing Lasts Forever, a SF comedy film with a contentious history. His only other genre appearance was a one-off on Night Gallery. (Died 1987.)
  • Born January 25, 1920 Bruce Cassiday. Under two different pen names, Con Steffanson and Carson Bingham , he wrote three Flash Gordon novels (The Trap of Ming XIIThe Witch Queen of Mongo and The War of the Cybernauts) and he also wrote several pieces of non-fiction worth noting, The Illustrated History of Science Fiction, co-written with Dieter Wuckel, and Modern Mystery, Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers. The latter done in ‘93 is rather out of date and out of print as well. Checking the usual suspects shows nothing’s available by him for this genre though some of his pulp novels are available with appropriately lurid covers. (Died 2005.)
  • Born January 25, 1950 Christopher Ryan, 72. He’s played two different aliens on Doctor Who. First in the Sixth Doctor story, “Mindwarp”, he was Kiv where he looked akin to Clayface from the animated Batman series. Second in the era of the Tenth Doctor (“The Sontarian Experiment” and “The Poison Sky”) and the Eleventh Doctor (“The Pandorica Opens”), he was the Sontarian General Staal Commander Stark.
  • Born January 25, 1958 Peter Watts, 64. Author of the most excellent Firefall series which I read and enjoyed immensely. I’ve not read the Rifters trilogy so would welcome opinions on it. And his Sunflower-linked short stories sound intriguing. He won a Hugo for Best Novelette at Aussiecon 4 for “The Island”.
  • Born January 25, 1963 Catherine Butler, 59. Butler’s most important work is Four British fantasists : place and culture in the children’s fantasies of Penelope Lively, Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones, and Susan Cooper. Another important work is Reading History in Children’s Books, with Hallie O’Donovan. Her website is here.
  • Born January 25, 1973 Geoff Johns, 49. Where to begin? Though he’s done some work outside of DC, he is intrinsically linked to that company having working for them for twenty years. My favorite work by him is on Batman: Gotham KnightsJustice League of America #1–7 (2013) and 52 which I grant which was way overly ambitious but really fun. Oh, and I’d be remiss not to notehis decade long run on the Green Lantern books. He’s the writer and producer on the most excellent Stargirl now streaming on HBO Max.
  • Born January 25, 1975 Mia Kirshner, 47. She was Amanda Grayson in Star Trek: Discovery. Her first genre was in the really not great The Crow: City of Angels as Sarah Mohr. (I editorialize, it is what I do.) she had another run as Isobel Flemming in The Vampire Diaries and one-offs in The War of The WorldsDracula: The SeriesAre You Afraid of the Dark? and Wolf Lake. She had a plum role in Defiance as Kenya Rosewater. 

(13) NOT JUST ANYBODY. Here they are! Screen Rant’s choices as the “10 Most Nonsensical World Domination Plans In Movie History”. Some of them have better musical accompaniments than others.

Help! (1965)

Given that this movie stars the Beatles and that it is intended as a comedy, it makes sense that its central world domination plan would be nonsensical.

However, even by that standard, the central plot strains the ability of the audience to make sense of anything of what is happening, much of which revolves around a seemingly magical ring. The fact that the movie moves along at a frantic pace makes its plot even more difficult to follow.

(14) SWORD & SORCERY’S ANCESTRY. At DMR Books, Brian Kunde chronicles his research into the life of Clifford Ball, Weird Tales contributor and probably the most obscure of the first wave of sword and sorcery writers: “Who Was Clifford Ball?”

…In this we are in a position similar to that of Shakespearean scholars, who on the basis of surviving records have also put together a threadbare sketch of an outer life while likewise failing to illuminate the inner man. As with them, our surest guides to our subject’s inner life and interests remain those we started with—in Ball’s case, his published works, together with what he and “W. C., Jr.” set down in their letters and notes in Weird Tales. Having left no descendants, whatever else Ball might have left of a personal nature likely perished with him or his near heirs. The who we already had may have led us to a more complete picture of the life he lived, but how that life was reflected in his thoughts, hopes and dreams remains elusive….

(17) TROLL SIGHTINGS. Jim C. Hines has updated the “Jon Del Arroz’s History of Trolling and Harassing” webpage: “Among other things, JDA had a friend take pictures of Tomlinson at ConFusion, which JDA posted for mockery.” The screencaps are here.

(18) NEWBERY AT 100. In “The centennial of the Newbery Award: what publishers should do with older winners that don’t hold up”, Slate’s Sara L. Schwebel and Jocelyn Van Tuyl challenge the award winners’ status as canonical children’s books.

…Many of us are increasingly aware that American childhoods can look very different from one another, varying with race and ethnicity, geographic location, economic status, and many other factors. This has always been true, of course, but until very recently, the imagined child reader was monolithic. So your favorite Newbery from childhood may now seem out of touch, hopelessly uncool. Worse yet, it may feature offensive viewpoints and stereotypes.

Some readers may reject older titles for their objectionable content. But some people feel that recent medal books threaten a long-cherished vision of a universal American childhood experience—a vision they still hold dear. This was the case recently when schools in Katy, Texas, retracted (then subsequently reinstated) an invitation for author Jerry Craft to speak. Craft’s 2020 medal winner, New Kid, depicts a Black boy’s first year in a predominantly white prep school, where he faces frequent microaggressions. Concerned that some readers might experience white guilt, agitators claimed the book ran afoul of Texas’ ban on teaching critical race theory….

…The Newbery makes aspirationally high art for children into news.

This is what Newbery founder Frederic Melcher had in mind: Librarians’ professional neutrality would keep prizing above the taint of commercialism, benefiting publishers’ bottom lines and also, of course, children’s minds and spirits. The prize was about building a junior American canon, books that cultivated readers and inspired the highest ideals of democratic citizenship in the nation’s youth. But the result was a canon that is overwhelmingly white and often marked by a colonialist worldview. Today, the Newbery’s mission increasingly encompasses an awareness of past failures to think about all children as future leaders….

(19) SLICE OF THE DAY. “Icelandic pizzeria nods to pagan tradition by serving sheep’s head as special topping”CBC explains it all to you. Photo at the link. (Which I plan to leave at the link.)

On a bed of arugula and carrot slices, an Icelandic pizzeria has laid out an unusual topping for their new, seasonal pizza: a sheep’s head boiled in stout beer.

The head itself is laced with a smoked chili barbecue sauce that plays up the animal’s flavour — more than when it’s traditionally been served for Thorrablot, the midwinter food festival celebrating Iceland’s pagan history.

And that’s because the sauce includes another juicy ingredient — sheep dung.

“It’s really delicious. I mean, it has to be tasted to be able to describe it,” Laufey Sif Larusdottir, the owner of Olverk Pizza and Brewery in Hveragerdi told As It Happens host Carol Off.

(20) LUCY IN THE SKY WITH SAUSAGES. The Guardian has good news:  “Stranded dog saved from rising tide after rescuers attach sausage to drone”.

As the tide rose, it began to look perilous for Millie the jack russell-whippet cross, who had defied the efforts of police, firefighters and coastguards to pluck her from treacherous mudflats.

So the rescuers had to think imaginatively, and came up with the idea of attaching a sausage to a drone and hoping the scent of the treat would tempt Millie to safety. It worked gloriously and Millie has been reunited with her grateful owner after following the dangling sausage to higher, safer ground.

Millie disappeared after slipping her lead in Havant, Hampshire, and after frantic public appeals was spotted on the mudflats, in danger of being engulfed by the tide. She resisted efforts to encourage her to a safer spot until a drone pilot suggested attaching food to one of the unmanned aerial vehicles that had been used to track the dog….

(21) MYSTERY OF EARTH’S DIFFERENT MOON POSSIBLY SOLVED. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Massive Moon strike could explain why its near-side and far-side are so different. Even the minerals on the near and far side are different: why does not the far-side have the lava seas seen on the near-side?  One theory has it that a huge object smashed into the early Moon; possibly its South Pole and the Aitken Basin. Whatever the impact researchers at Macau University have modelled what a huge impact would do.  Back then the Moon would have had a thin crust and a molten interior. The impact would have punched through the crust and made the molten interior even hotter and more fluid. Gravitational influences from its orbit about the Earth – and remember, in its early days the Moon orbited closer to the Earth – would have caused a more fluid type of magma to migrate to the near side where it erupted onto the surface. Nature has the abstract: “Lunar compositional asymmetry explained by mantle overturn following the South Pole–Aitken impact”.

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Harry Potter and the chamber of Secrets Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says that in the second Harry Potter movie, if you’re wondering how the pipes surrounding Hogwarts could be big enough for a giant basilisk, hey, kids eat a lot!”  Also, the producer wonders why Hogwarts has the Weeping Willow, which is “a tree that bludgeons kids to death.”

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

Pixel Scroll 12/15/21 A Pixel Upon The Deep

(1) CHENGDU MARATHON LIVESTREAM CONTINUES. The Chengdu Worldcon bid livestream was noted in yesterday’s Scroll. Alison Scott took a look at it and reported in a comment here —

The Chengdu bid has been running a stream each evening (11:00 – 14:00 UTC) on Chinese Youtube/Twitch style site bilibili, featuring SF authors and other celebrities encouraging Chinese SF fans (of whom there are millions of course) to join DisCon III and vote for Chengdu.

The link to the stream is here. Although i couldn’t understand the stream, I used Google Translate to read the chat; full of SF fans, mostly students, talking about their favourite books, movies and tv shows and asking how to set up a local SF club in their area.

(2) TOMORROW PRIZE DEADLINE. There’s less than one week left for Los Angeles County high school students to enter their short sci-fi stories in The Tomorrow Prize and The Green Feather Award competitions. Full details at the Omega Sci-Fi Awards website. Those feeling the pressure should read “5 Things that Inspire” by Clare Hooper.

With the deadline approaching, many find it intimidating to start writing. Writer’s block is the worst. But the best cure for writer’s block is finding a good place to start, and that may mean inspiration. Here are five things that inspired previous winners and honorable mentions of The Tomorrow Prize and The Green Feather Award to write:

1: Anime

The accessibility and popularity of anime has only gotten wider in recent years. With so many shows in dozens of genres, it’s easy to find something you may want to put your own spin on. Omega Sci-Fi Awards Student Ambassador and Tomorrow Prize Finalist, Gwendolyn Lopez found inspiration through Studio Ghibli films. These films usually have a thin line between the mundane and the fantastical, thus inspiring Gwendolyn to give a more introspective feel to her story, Star Sailor. Ethan Kim, an honorable mention for The Tomorrow Prize, took inspiration from a different anime show, Dororo, which features a young man roaming the countryside fighting demons. Dororo inspired the themes of godlike figures and a battlefield setting in his story Cold Ashes….

(3) TOP GRAPHIC NOVEL. “Bechdel’s ‘Secret to Superhuman Strength’ Wins PW’s 2021 Graphic Novel Critics Poll” announced Publishers Weekly.

The Secret to Superhuman Strength (Mariner) by Alison Bechdel lands on the top spot of PW’s annual Graphic Novel Critics Poll, garnering seven votes from a panel of 15 critics. A groundbreaking queer author and a true household name in contemporary comics, Bechdel is best known for her widely acclaimed 2006 graphic family memoir Fun Home.

In The Secret to Superhuman Strength, her long-anticipated third memoir, Bechdel celebrates the fads and fanaticism of fitness culture—including her own obsession with physical self-improvement—using the phenomenon as a lens through which to examine both queer and American culture writ large…. 

(4) RAISING KANE. Cora Buhlert posted a new Fancast Spotlight, featuring The Dark Crusade, a podcast focused on the works of Karl Edward Wagner: “Fancast Spotlight: The Dark Crusade”.

… Therefore, I’m happy to welcome Jordan Douglas Smith of The Dark Crusade to my blog:

Tell us about your podcast or channel.

The Dark Crusade is dedicated to the life and work of writer/editor/publisher Karl Edward Wagner. We are systematically moving through his work, discussing it from a historical and literary lens. In addition to the podcast, we have a companion blog that covers additional facts about the stories, links to scholarship, and overviews of some of the collections Wagner has edited….

(5) TAFF VOTING OPENS TODAY. Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund administrators Johan Anglemark and Geri Sullivan are now accepting ballots for the 2022 TAFF race. It will close on April 19, 2022, after Reclamation (Eastercon) in London.

You can download the fill-in form ballot here (US Letter; A4 will follow shortly). It has the candidates’ platforms, the names of their nominators, and the voting instructions. Voting is open to anyone active in fandom before April 2020 who donates at least £3 (GBP), €3 (EUR), or $4 (USD) to TAFF. Voting is also possible online here.

Competing for the honor are these four great fans: Anders Holmström (Sweden), Fia Karlsson (Sweden), Mikolaj Kowalewski (Poland), and Julie Faith McMurray (UK). One of them will make a TAFF trip to Chicon 8, the 80th World Science Fiction Convention in September, 2022.

(6) CAST A WIDE NET. [Item by Cora Buhlert] The Pulp Net has an article about Fritz Leiber, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser by Don Herron: “Three sought adventure”. What struck me about this is that Herron not only knew Leiber, but also met Harry Otto Fisher, on whom Mouser was based and the resemblance was apparently uncanny.

… “Two Sought Adventure” saw print that August in the pulp Unknown — the first professional sale for Fritz Leiber Jr., who would go on to become one of the most-awarded writers in 20th-century imaginative literature.

The characters introduced, the barbarian Fafhrd and the wily Gray Mouser — the two best thieves in Lankhmar, and the two best swordsmen — would have many more adventures with the author till the end of his life….

(7) I’VE HEARD THAT NAME BEFORE. It appears to be Fritz Leiber month, because Grimdark Magazine also has an article about him by Ryan Howse: “The works of Fritz Leiber”.

… During their adventures, they battled men, magicians, and monsters, were in the power of two bizarre wizards who obviously did not have their best interests at heart, faced down the incarnation of death, survived the poverty of lean times in Lankhmar, climbed the world’s largest mountain on a whim, and plenty more. Their quests were often them following a rumour for fun or profit, with no grander schemes in mind….

(8) RAMA LAMA. “Dune Director Denis Villeneuve to Adapt Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama”Tor.com has the story.

Filmmaker Denis Villeneuve is heading from Arrakis to Rama. After he finishes up Dune: Part Two (which was greenlit after Dune: Part One’s commercial success), the director will take on a feature adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama….

(9) OFF THE BEAM. Camestros Felapton has his own cat-themed series – Timothy the Talking Cat in the spirit of Zelig: “Missing Moments from Movie History: The Carbonite Manoeuvre”. Picture at the link.

An infamous cat-related accident on the set of the Empire Strikes Back resulted in this unfortunate outcome….

(10) ON THE DIAL. At BBC Sounds, The Exploding Library series begins with “Mother Night, by Kurt Vonnegut”.

In this new literature series, a trio of comedians explode and unravel their most cherished cult books, paying homage to the tone and style of the original text – and blurring and warping the lines between fact and fiction.

“We are what we pretend to be. So we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

So reads the warning at the beginning of the novel Mother Night, in an author’s introduction written by Kurt Vonnegut himself. Yet in this world of unreliable narrators, editor’s “corrections” and weirdly omniscient first-person testimony, nothing is really what it seems.

Purportedly the “confessions of Howard J. Campbell Jr”, an American expat-turned Nazi propagandist-turned Allied spy (allegedly), Vonnegut’s warped collection of bizarre characters and slippery narratives invite us to cast aside our black and white notions of morals and guilt and survey the gazillions of greys in between.

Comedian Daliso Chaponda considers the strange world of people playing versions of themselves in public – comedians, spies, politicians and, to an extent, all of us. How do you deal with people perceiving you differently to your “real” self? And, for that matter, how do you know who you “really” are?

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1974 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-seven years ago, Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein premieres. The screenplay was co-written by Brooks and Gene Wilder who plays the lead role. The rest of the cast was Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Teri Garr, Kenneth Mars and Madeline Kahn. 

The film was shot in black and white with the lab equipment there originally used as props for the 1931 film Frankenstein as created by Kenneth Strickfaden.

Brooks has often said that he considers it by far his finest although not his funniest film as a writer-director. Reception for it was generally very good with Roger Ebert saying it was his “most disciplined and visually inventive film (it also happens to be very funny).”  It won a Hugo at Aussiecon. It was a fantastic box office success earning eighty-six million on a budget of just three million. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it near perfect rating of ninety-two percent. 

Mel Brooks would later adapt this into a musical that would run both off Broadway and on Broadway.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 15, 1923 Freeman Dyson. Physicist best known in genre circles for the concept he theorized of a Dyson Sphere which would be built by a sufficiently technologically advanced species around a sun to harvest all solar energy. He credited Olaf Stapledon in Star Maker (1937), in which he described “every solar system… surrounded by a gauze of light traps, which focused the escaping solar energy for intelligent use” with first coming up with the concept. (Died 2020.)
  • Born December 15, 1937 John Sladek. Weird and ambitious would be ways to describe his work. The Complete Roderick Is quite amazing, as is Tik-Tok, which won a BSFA, and Bugs is as well. He did amazing amounts of short fiction, much of which is collected finally in the ironically named Maps: The Uncollected John Sladek. He is generously stocked at the usual suspects. (Died 2000.)
  • Born December 15, 1951 David Bischoff. His “Tin Woodman” which was written with Dennis Bailey and nominated for a Nebula would be adapted into a Next Generation story. He also wrote the Next Gen story “First Contact” (with Dennis Russell Bailey, Joe Menosky, Ronald D. Moore and Michael Piller.) And he continued the Bill the Galactic Hero story with Harry Harrison.  He’s also written a kickass excellent Farscape novel, Ship of Ghosts. (Died 2018.)
  • Born December 15, 1952 Marta DuBoi. Her first genre role is on the Starman series as Dr. Ellen Dukowin the “Fever” episode though you’ll likely better recognize her as Ardra on the “Devil’s Due” episode of the Next Generation. She also had roles on The Land of The LostThe Trial of the Incredible Hulk and Tales of the Golden Monkey. (Died 2018.)
  • Born December 15, 1953 Robert Charles Wilson, 68. He’s got a Hugo Award for Spin, a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for The Chronoliths, a Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the “The Cartesian Theater” novelette and Prix Aurora Awards for the Blind Lake and Darwinia novels. He also garnered a Philip K. Dick Award for Mysterium. Very, very mpressive indeed. 
  • Born December 15, 1954 Alex Cox, 67. Ahhh, the Director who back in the early Eighties gave us Repo Man. And that he got a co-writer credit for the screenplay of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas before it was completely rewritten by Gilliam. As you know he directed a student film version of Harry Harrison’s Bill, the Galactic Hero at University of Colorado Boulder just a few years ago!
  • Born December 15, 1963 Helen Slater, 58. She was Supergirl in the film of that name, and returned to the 2015 Supergirl TV series as Supergirl’s adoptive mother. Also within the DC Universe, she voiced Talia al Ghul in in Batman: The Animated Series. Recently she also voiced Martha Kent in DC Super Hero Girls: Hero of the Year. And Lara in Smallville… And Eliza Danvers on the  Supergirl series..   Her other genre appearences include being on SupernaturalEleventh HourToothlessDrop Dead Diva and the very short-lived Agent X
  • Born December 15, 1970 Michael Shanks, 51. Best known for playing Dr. Daniel Jackson in the very long-running Stargate SG-1 franchise. His first genre appearance was in the Highlander series and he’s been in a lot of genre properties including the Outer LimitsEscape from MarsAndromeda (formally titled Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda and there’s a juicy story there), SwarmedMega Snake, Eureka, Sanctuary, Smallville, Supernatural and Elysium. Wow! 

(13) TIME TO CROW. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews Death’s Door, a game he feels is strongly influenced by Legend Of Zelda, Dark Souls, and Hollow Knight.

Coming from tastemaking indie publisher Devolver Digital, I should have known better than to judge the game harshly.  Its mechanics are familiar but the plot is original and compelling, told with an economy that threads through every element of the game’s design.  You play a fledgling crow who is a new employee at a supernatural bureau of avatar grim reapers.  Your job is to collect the souls of those who have passed on.  Yet when a soul you have collected is stolen, your immortality (a handsome job perk) is compromised, meaning you will age and ultimately die if you cannot recover it….

Death’s Door is a game about being a small, fragile thing in a mysterious, dangerous world.  This is deftly constructed with certain characters and safe spaces scattered across the map which are colourful and memorable: the interminable bureaucracy of the celestial reaper’s office; your companion Pothead, whose skull has been replaced with a vat of soup; the gravedigger who gives touching elegies for those enemies you slay. The spare lines of dialogue tinkle with humour and specificity, helping you empathise with the mute reaper crow on his lonely journey to understand the meaning of death.

(14) BUHLERT AT VIRTUAL WORLDCON. Best Fanwriter Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert has posted her virtual DisCon III schedule: “Cora goes virtually to DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon”. Her first panel is Thursday.

(15) COMING DOWN A CHIMNEY NEAR YOU. The Washington Post’s Michael Dirda rescues last-minute shoppers with his list of “Gift books 2021: Mysteries, ghost stories and other treats”.

‘The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories: Volume 5,’ edited by Christopher Philippo (Valancourt)

This latest in an annual series again demonstrates that chills and frights still linger in the browning pages of old magazines and Christmas albums. Philippo reprints two fine tales I’ve read elsewhere — Amelia B. Edwards’s “My Brother’s Ghost Story” and Barry Pain’s “The Undying Thing” — but all his other choices were unfamiliar to me. Since James Skipp Borlase is represented by two stories, I decided to read them first….

(16) YA BOOK SUGGESTIONS. Tara Goetjen on YA horror, paranormal, and ghost story novels crime fiction fans might like. “Genre-Bending YA Novels Perfect For Crime Fans” at CrimeReads.

… To me, this is the great intrigue of a genre-bending thriller. There should always be, without fail, a human face behind the mystery or the bloodshed, just like there is in No Beauties or Monsters [her new book]. But whether or not there is a shadowy, inexplicable, perhaps unbelievable force also wielding terror… well, that’s why we read on till the very end. Here are some other genre-bending young adult novels with speculative elements that kept me reading till the very end too….

(17) LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS HOBBITS. GameRant’s Alice Rose Dodds delves into the books to help fans of the LOTR movies answer the question  “What Exactly Is Shire Reckoning?” — “What exactly is this measurement of time, and how does It differ from others in Middle Earth?”

…It is little known that there was a vast long period of time before which any hobbits ever came to rest in The Shire. Hobbits, being of a homely nature and loving their beautiful holes beyond all else, dislike to remember this fact, for they see those days as terrible days, before the comfort of a simple life was discovered… 

(18) IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK AT LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS. But don’t be fooled.  “Christmas Movies Show How Fake Snow Evolved, From ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ To Harry Potter” at LAist.

Watching classic holiday movies is a journey through the technology used to create yuletide joy in different generations. We once used asbestos as movie snow — now the technology ranges from computer graphics to a special type of paper.

In the early days of film, Hollywood “snowmen” would take anything that could be seen as white and flaky and put it to use, author and Atlas Obscura editor April White told LAist. Those sources of flaky whiteness included bleached cornflakes, gypsum, salt, concrete dust, asbestos, and even chicken feathers….

(19) THE LATEST STRANDS. Richard Lawson sorts the cycles of Spider-Man movies for Vanity Fair readers and comments on the new trailer in “Spider-Man: No Way Home Is a Very Tangled Web”.

…Well, to be fair, Spider-Man was always a Marvel property; he just lives at Sony because of deals that long predate Kevin Feige’s Disney-backed conquest of the content cosmos. In that sense, No Way Home is mostly just a triumph of studio executives agreeing on things and actors making their schedules work. A feat unto itself, I suppose…

(20) WEB CASTER VS. SPELL CASTER. Doctor Strange and Spider-man battle it out in the mirror dimension in this clip of the Spider-Man vs Doctor Strange fight scene from Spider-Man: No Way Home.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Rob Thornton, Cora Buhlert, Jeffrey Smith, Johan Anglemark, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson, part of “The Hugo Pixel Scroll Winners” series.]

Pixel Scroll 10/27/21 Just Pixel A Name At Random From Your Scrollodex

(1) THE BUZZ. Disney and Pixar’s Lightyear will be released June 17, 2022. Chris Evans voices Buzz. As Variety ‘explains, “Lightyear doesn’t follow the toy-sized, space-faring exploits of Tim Allen’s iconic character. Rather, the 2022 film introduces the ‘real-life’ human astronaut whose adventures inspired the toy line seen in the ‘Toy Story’ franchise.”

The sci-fi action-adventure presents the definitive origin story of Buzz Lightyear—the hero who inspired the toy—introducing the legendary Space Ranger who would win generations of fans.

(2) SHIRLEY JACKSON CONSIDERED. Ellen Datlow along with Laurence Hyman, Nate King, and Bernice Murphy discuss “Shirley Jackson” in episode 12 of the American Writers Museum podcast.

In this episode, we’ll discuss the life and work of multi-dimensional writer Shirley Jackson, perhaps best known for her horror novels and short stories. We’re joined by three guests whose lives and careers have been influenced greatly by Jackson in different ways.

(3) COME ONE, COME ALL. Ringmaster James Davis Nicoll invites Tor.com readers to “Step Right Up! Five Recent Fantasy Stories Set at a Circus”.

Circuses! They seem like such a safe, wholesome source of communal entertainment. Yet, many who’ve ventured under a circus big top have faced unexpected consequences—some quite dangerous for performers in real life. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that the circus provides such a lively—and occasionally treacherous—setting for these five recent fantasies….

(4) GAIA & FRIENDS. Isaac Arthur’s episode on “Sentient Planets & World Consciousnesses” includes examples from films, comics, games and books with authors like Isaac Asimov, Peter Watts and Alastair Reynolds cited.

(5) I’M SORRY I’LL READ THAT AGAIN. Fireside editor Brian J. White found he needed to explain yesterday’s story notification email to recipients:

We’ve gotten a handful of messages about today’s weekly story notification email and wanted to send out a clarification: We made a mistake in not thinking about how that notification for the story “Not Quite What We’re Looking for Right Now” would look in people’s inboxes. The email that went out about and hour and a half ago wasn’t a misdirected story rejection, it’s a short story written in the form of a story rejection, and the blurbs I wrote around it didn’t make that clear. Sorry for the confusion this has caused, and thanks to the folks who let us know about it.

(6) A MODEST GOSPEL-HORROR, UNASKED QUESTION. Virtual convention programmers! Michael Toman has an item to suggest:

It occurred to me ask if anyone out there might be interested in including a “Gospel-Horror” panel and/or performance at a convention this year or maybe sometime safer?

This Interested Listener really enjoyed listening to live choral music from “Game of Thrones” and other shows at the last Loscon I attended.

Sorry, but “names to my mind come there none…”

I would buy a “Zoom Ticket” for something like this to help support fannish musical activity, especially since I’m still “Live Audience Hesitant” about poking my Grizzled, Geezer Guy Snout out of my Own Private, Paper Labyrinth Burrow.

(7) MISSING FIFTH. “Reading with… Cherie Priest” at Shelf Awareness includes this list:

Your top five authors:

In no particular order, Terry Pratchett (especially the Witch novels); Dashiell Hammett (especially the Continental Op stories); Barbara Hambly (her gothics are my comfort reading); Caitlín Kiernan (all of their novels, but Kiernan is also one of the only short story writers I regularly keep up with); and I’m having too much trouble narrowing down another half dozen folks for a fifth. I’d hate to leave anyone out–so let’s call number five a wild card spot, eh?

(8) CASTING CALL. “Bill Murray Has a Role in ‘Ant-Man & the Wasp 3;”. He told a German newspaper that he appears in the upcoming Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania.

I recently made a Marvel movie. I probably can’t tell you about it, but it doesn’t matter. In any case, some people were quite surprised why I decided on such a project of all things. But for me it was very clear: I got to know the director – and I really liked him a lot. He was funny, humble, everything you want from a director. And with the cheerleading story “Bring It On – Girls United” he made a film years ago that I think is damn good. So I accepted, even though I’m not otherwise interested in these huge comic book adaptations as an actor.

(9) BOOK LOVER. In “Why Denis Villeneuve Made ‘Dune’ for Himself”, The Atlantic questions the director about “The Blockbuster That Hollywood Was Afraid to Make.”

When I asked him about his film adaptation of Dune, the writer-director Denis Villeneuve quickly held up his prized copy of Frank Herbert’s book, a French-translation paperback with a particularly striking cover that he’s owned since he was 13. “I keep the book beside me as I’m working,” Villeneuve told me cheerfully over Zoom. “I made this movie for myself. Being a hard-core Dune fan, the first audience member I wanted to please was myself. Everything you receive is there because I love it.”…

(10) HERBERT’S FATHERING ROLE REFLECTED IN DUNE. The New Yorker’s Ed Park seems to have written a more interesting article than the one seen by the headline-writer: “The Enduring Appeal of ‘Dune’ as an Adolescent Power Fantasy”.

…Unlike Lynch or Alejandro Jodorowsky—the Chilean-French filmmaker who planned and failed to make a hallucinogenic twelve-hour version of “Dune” in the seventies—Villeneuve was a “Dune” fan from childhood, having come to the book at age thirteen. His connection to the material shows. The melancholy atmospheres of the alien-contact tale “Arrival” and the dystopian “Blade Runner” sequel are transmuted into a sort of interstellar emo, so that the dreams, fears, and ambitions of Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) become as central to the film as the special effects and political skulduggery. Chalamet is twenty-five—the same age that Kyle MacLachlan was when Lynch’s “Dune” came out—but slighter, more vulnerable, closer to the “stringy whipcord of a youth” that Herbert describes….

(11) MEMORY LANE.

1934 – Eighty-seven years ago this day, Los Angeles got its Science Fiction club. The Los Angeles chapter of the Science Fiction League (No. 4) began meeting in 14-year-old Roy Test Jr.’s family garage on October 27, 1934. At LASFS’ 75 anniversary banquet  Roy joked that his mother, Wanda Test, volunteered to be club secretary as a way to come to the meetings “and see what kind of oddballs I was associating with. Maybe it didn’t occur to her I was the oddest one there.” She was the club’s first secretary and her minutes became known as “Thrilling Wanda Stories.” (The prozine Wonder Stories ran an article about the birth of the club in the February 1935 issue.)

Ten years after first LASFL meeting, Roy Test, Jr. was an Army Air Corps bomber pilot stationed in England. In 2005, at the age of 83, he could still wear his pink and greens from WWll. (SGVN Staff Photo/Sarah Reingewirtz, SVCITY)

Rob Hansen also points out today is the anniversary of the first meeting of the Ilford Science Literary Circle in 1930 – “If British fandom has a birthday, this is it.” 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 27, 1937 Steve Sandor. He made his first genre appearance on Trek playing Lars in the second season episode “The Gamesters of Triskelion.” He also did one-offs on Knight RiderFantasy Island and The Six-Million Dollar Man. He did a choice bit of horror in The Ninth Configuration. (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 27, 1939 John Cleese, 82. Monty Python of course, but also Time BanditsMary Shelley’s Frankenstein, two Bond films as Q and even two Harry Potter films as Nearly Headless Nick. He’s definitely deep into genre film roles. And let’s not forget he shows up as an art lover on the “City of Death” story, a Fourth Doctor story. 
  • Born October 27, 1948 Bernie Wrightson. Artist who with writer Len Wein is known for co-creating Swamp Thing. He did a lot of illustrations from Cemetery Dance magazine to Stephen King graphic novels to DC and Marvel comics. Tell me what you liked about his work.) Some of his horror work at Creepy magazine  is now available as Creepy Presents Bernie Wrightson at the usual digital suspects. (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 27, 1950 James L. Conway, 71. Director who has worked on all four on the new Trek franchise series: Next GenerationVoyagerDeep Space Nine and Enterprise.  He’s also done work on CharmedSmallville, Supernatural, the most excellent Magicians and Orville
  • Born October 27, 1953 Robert Picardo, 68. He debuted in genre as Eddie Quist, the serial killer werewolf in The Howling. He’d be in Dante’s ExplorersLooney Tunes: Back in ActionGremlins 2: The New BatchSmall Soldiers and Innerspace. And then of course he played the role of the Emergency Medical Hologram (EMH) on Voyager and on Star Trek: First Contact as well. And he even managed to appear on Stargate SG-1.  Like many Trek performers, he shows up on the Orville series as he played Ildis Kitan in a recurring role.
  • Born October 27, 1963 Deborah Moore, 57. English actress and the daughter of actor Roger Moore and Italian actress Luisa Mattioli. She’s an Air Hostess in Die Another Day, a Pierce Brosnan Bond film. And she was a secretary in Goldeneye: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming. Her very first role was as Princess Sheela in Warriors of the Apocalypse. She was in Top Line an Italian SF film.  
  • Born October 27, 1970 Jonathan Stroud, 51. His djinn-centered Bartimaeus series is most excellent. Though considered children’s novels, I think anyone would enjoy them. I’ve also read the first two in his Lockwood & Co. series as well — very well done.

(13) COMIC STRIP.

  • Bizarro shows the Roman insurance industry at work.
  • Off the Mark shows Dr. Frankenstein’s heartbreak.

(14) VIRTUAL IRISH CONVENTION. Cora Buhlert spent the first October weekend at Octocon, the Irish National Science Fiction Convention, which was virtual this year “for obvious reasons” as she noted: “Cora’s Adventures at the Virtual 2021 Octocon”.

…On Sunday, I was on the panel about “Uncovering the Hidden Treasures of the Past” with Michael Carroll, who was also the Octocon Guest of Honour, Cheryl Morgan, Deirdre Thornton. Ian Moore was the moderator. This panel was recorded and may be watched along with other great content at the Octocon Twitch channel.

Now everybody who knows me should know that I love talking about old SFF and the many great stories and novels of past decades that are not nearly as well known as they should be, so that was exactly the right panel for me. We agreed that reading and discussing older SFF is valuable, because it shows us where the genre came from and how it got where it is now. Besides, actually reading older SFF and not just the few books anointed classics either is also the best antidote against the common claim that women, people of colour, LGBTQ people, [insert minority here] were not writing SFF before the current time, because women, people of colour, LGBTQ people, etc… were always part of the genre, we have just chosen to forget and ignore many of them, denying the writers who follow role models….

(15) HAPPY 125TH ANNIVERSARY TO THE OTHER, OR AT LEAST ANOTHER, TBR. [Item by Daniel Dern.] TBR is, according to the lead essay in “The Very First Cover of the Book Review” in its Sunday October 24, 2021 edition, stands for “The Book Review” — “not to be confused with “to be read,” as the lead paragraph quickly notes. Its fuller non-acronymic initial name is NYTBR, as in, the New York Times Book Review, or, as I (and, I’m sure many others, including no doubt some of you), the Sunday Book Review section. (Possibly fewer these years because you’re reading it online, and so lacking the physical sectionality.)

This 125th-anniversary issue celebrates itself by reprinting reviews, essays, and a few letters, notable and interesting (and in some cases often amusing) from a mix of the book being reviewed, or the author reviewing it, and, in some cases, the letters.

(Since I’m a print-and-digital subscriber, I don’t know how much is visible through the paywall — or rather, how many articles the Times‘ free account offer permits. There does appear to currently be a buck-a-week-for-a-year digital offer, I see… so, assuming that New York Times digital access isn’t like Pringles potato chips (the process of cooking in their stackable format invented, as I’ve only recently learned, by Gene Wolfe, a name that dagnab better be familiar to 97% or greater of File 770 readers), you can enjoy this anniversary section within a week, for a buck, and then cancel. Or borrow a friend’s copy.)

For example (based on what I’ve read so far plus looking at the table of contents):

  • In Letters, Jack London responding to a review of his prizefighting story, “The Game,” that found fault with its realism:

I doubt if this reviewer has had as much experience in such matters as I have. I doubt if he knows what it is to be knocked out, or to knock out another man. I have had these experiences, and it was out of these experiences, plus a fairly intimate knowledge of prizefighting in general, that I wrote “The Game.”… I have just received a letter from Jimmy Britt, lightweight champion of the world, in which he tells me that he particularly enjoyed “The Game” on “account of its trueness to life.”

  • James Baldwin’s review of Alex Haley’s book, Roots
  • Rex Stout (creator of the Nero Wolfe books, of course — which include, along with detecting, many discussions of fine cooking, mostly between Wolfe and in-house chef Fritz Brenner) reviews The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book,
  • Sportswriter Roger Angell reviews “Books About Babe Ruth” (four biographies)
  • Vladimir Nabakov reviews Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Nausea” translated into English… spending a good chunk of the review showing and faulting sample translation inaccuracies.
  • A review of James Joyce’s “Ulysses.”

And with that, I’m going to go back, and finish reading Stout’s review of Toklas’ recipes.

(16) JIM JEFFERIES ON HALLOWEEN. “I Don’t Know About That with Jim Jefferies” devotes an episode to Halloween, discussing the holiday with Lisa Morton, six-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author and host of the “Spine Tinglers with Lisa Morton” podcast.

(17) HAVE SPACE SUITS, NO TRAVELLERS. Futurism.com finds a “Space Tourism Company Cancels Launch Because It Couldn’t Find any Passengers”.

In what could be a serious reality check for the buzz-filled space tourism industry, its most established player says it had to cancel its upcoming launch with SpaceX because it couldn’t find any viable — and sufficiently wealthy — passengers for the journey.

“The mission was marketed to a large number of our prospective customers, but ultimately the mix of price, timing and experience wasn’t right at that particular time and our contract with SpaceX expired,” [Space Adventures] company spokesperson Stacey Tearne told SpaceNews. “We hope to revisit the offering in the future.”…

(18) NOT GONE WITH THE WIND. If, no matter what the mission commander thinks, you want all the “gory details,” the New York Times article supplies them: “SpaceX’s Latest Engineering Challenge: A Leaky Toilet”.

…Jared Isaacman, the Inspiration4 mission commander, told CNN, “Nobody really wants to get into the gory details.”

Crew Dragon has more interior space than a minivan, but less than a studio apartment, and there is no proper bathroom. Instead, it has a device on its ceiling that astronauts use to relieve themselves — remember, there’s no up or down in microgravity. The device creates suction using an internal fan, crucial to ensuring human waste goes in the right direction in the weightlessness of space. Some officials vaguely said the toilet problem involved the fan, prompting even more questions.

A closely held secret no more….

(19) MAJOR EVENT AT THE SEC. Starting this weekend, the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) will be held in Glasgow at the SEC, which is also the proposed site for the Glasgow in 2024 Worldcon bid. A reader asks the question, “Will there be any spin-off benefit from this COP event (new facilities, kit etc)? Are the bid team actively keeping an eye on this?”

(20) BLUE MARBLE. This Muppets video dropped earlier in the week and is part of the forthcoming environmental special Dear Earth.

The Muppets perform the 70’s classic Mr. Blue Sky. It’s all part of the Dear Earth special; an epic global celebration of our planet and what we need to do to slow climate change. Sprinkled with musical performances Dear Earth also contains well-known climate activists, creators, and celebs who will all share ways to make our lives more sustainable.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Halloween Kills” the Screen Junkies say that “extra crispy” Michael Myers is lucky because his foes this time fight with hockey sticks, a cricket bat, and an iron.  “Where are all of your guns, people!” the narrator says.  “I thought this was America.  How drunk are you people?”  Also, how did they get someone to look like Donald Pleasance?

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Andrew (not Werdna), Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Jennifer Hawthorne, 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 Russell Letson.]

Pixel Scroll 9/19/21 File Me To The Moon, Let Me Play Among The Scrolls

(1) FAN HISTORY PROJECT ZOOM SERIES RESTARTS. Fanac.org is resuming their Fan History Project Zoom series this month. They’ll begin by interviewing Juanita Coulson on September 25 at 2:00 Eastern (11:00 a.m. Pacific, 7:00 p.m. in London). For reservations, send an RSVP to [email protected]. See the rest of the Zoom FanHistory schedule here.

Juanita Coulson in 1998.

Juanita Coulson on fandom, filkdom, fanzines, Star Trek and other aspects of her life in fandom.

Juanita Coulson has been a marathon fanzine editor, a mainstay of the filk community, and a professional writer. She’s a little bit larger than life, and among other honors, has been a DUFF winner (2014), a Hugo winner (1965), Worldcon Fan GoH (1972), NASFiC GoH (2010), Filk Hall of Fame inductee (1998) and a Big Heart Award winner (2012). Juanita has been widely known in filk music circles since the 1950s for both her singing and her songwriting, and was instrumental in establishing filk as a part of SF conventions. 

For thirty-three years, she co-edited the fanzine Yandro with her husband Buck, publishing a massive 259 issues. Yandro was nominated for a Hugo Award every year for ten years in a row, from 1958–1967. It won the award in 1965, thus making Juanita Coulson one of the very first women editors to be so honored. 

Juanita’s first novel, Crisis on Cheiron, came out in 1967.

In this zoom history discussion, expect stories of 60+ years of fandom, how Juanita beat the steam boat whistle at NaSFic, mimeography, her Star Trek fanzines, and maybe even a song or two.

(2) A RACE BETWEEN EDUCATION AND CATASTROPHE. The Guardian published an abridged version of Elif Shafak’s PEN HG Wells Lecture, delivered on September 17 at the Ripples of Hope festival: “How the 21st century would have disappointed HG Wells”.

… In his writings, Wells conveyed a plethora of futuristic prophecies, from space travel to genetic engineering, from the atomic bomb to the world wide web. There was no other fiction writer who saw into the future of humankind as clearly and boldly as he did.

Were he to have been alive at the very end of the 20th century, what would he have made of that world? I am especially curious to know what he would have thought about the unbridled optimism characteristic of the era, an optimism shared by liberal politicians, political scientists and Silicon Valley alike. The rosy conviction that western democracy had triumphed once and for all and that, thanks to the proliferation of digital technologies, the whole world would, sooner or later, become one big democratic global village. The naive expectation that, if you could only spread information freely beyond borders, people would become informed citizens, and thus make the right choices at the right time. If history is by definition linear and progressive – if there is no viable alternative to liberal democracy – why should you worry about the future of human rights, or rule of law, or freedom of speech or media diversity? The western world was regarded as safe, solid, stable. Democracy, once achieved, could not be disintegrated. How could anyone who had tasted the freedoms of democracy ever agree to discard it to the winds?

Fast forward, and today this dualistic way of seeing the world is shattered….

(3) GILLER PRIZE. The Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist was released September 8. There is one work of genre interest:

The complete longlist is here.

(4) RIGHT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH. Jill Zeller outlaws “10 Words/Phrases I Never Want to Hear or See Again” at Book View Café. For example:

Cancel culture. (Circling back to “culture”.) Despise this phrase. Just. Simply. Despise. Another example of “cultural appropriation”, largely pulled out on Twitter by the right, again, to describe being deleted from Twitter for trolling and spreading theories about nanobots in vaccines. A popular song is given the prize for its origin in what is called “African-American Vernacular English” (Wiki). Sound familiar? (See “woke” above).

(5) LIGHT ON, LIGHT OFF. “The Most Important Device in the Universe – Blinking Tubes Without Function New Compilation” shared by YouTuber Major Grin. (Via Craig Miller.)

This Device has been spotted in numerous science-fiction movies and tv shows. It is the ultimate re-used prop, and there is not a single of its numerous appearances where its purpose would be explained or hinted at. The prop is described as “dual generators with rotating neon lights inside an acrylic tube; light-controlled panel with knobs and buttons.” or simply as “blinking tubes without function”. The first time we see it is in the Regula lab in “Star Trek II Wrath of Khan”. They are also visible in the Enterprise-A’s shuttlebay in “Star Trek V” They also appear in a number of Star Trek Episodes…. The tubes appear in other science fiction series and movies as well, such as “V” (the 1983 miniseries), “The Last Starfighter”. “The Incredible Hulk Returns” (1988 TV movie), “The Flash: The deadly Nightshade” (1990) , “Star Crystal” 1986 “Alien Nation”, as well as “Airplane II” (with William Shatner, who would again encounter it in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier which he directed and starred in. It also appeared in “Lois & Clark” episode 2×08 with Denise Crosby.

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1952 – Sixty-nine years ago on this evening, the Adventures of Superman first aired in syndication. It was syndicated by Motion Pictures for Television, now known as Warner Bros. Television. It was developed by Whitney Ellsworth, DC Golden Age editor and writer, and Robert Maxwell, best known by acquiring the rights to what became Lassie and becoming very wealthy by doing so. Primary cast were George Reeves playing Clark Kent/Superman, with Jack Larson as Jimmy Olsen, Phyllis Coates as  Lois Lane and John Hamilton as Perry White.  It would last six seasons totaling one hundred four episodes. Half were in color, half weren’t. Reception was generally was quite positive with Variety noting that the “Filming is top-notch.”  The suicide of George Reeves led to the end of the series. And yes, I know the conspiracy theories that he didn’t shoot himself. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 19, 1911 — William Golding. Though obviously best known for the Lord of The Flies novel, I’m more intrigued by the almost completed novel found in draft after his death,The Double Tongue which tells the story of the Pythia, the priestess of Apollo at Delphi. (Died 1993.)
  • Born September 19, 1922 — Damon Knight. Author, editor, critic. Kate Wilhelm who was his wife is also regrettably no longer with us either. His 1950 short story, “To Serve Man” was adapted for The Twilight Zone. His first story, “The Itching Hour,” appeared in the Summer 1940 number of Futuria Fantasia which  was edited and published by Ray Bradbury.  It’s hard to briefly sum up his amazing genre career but let me note he was a member of the Futurians and and a reviewer as well as a writer. Novels of his I’ll single out are Hell’s Pavement, The Observers and Special Delivery but don’t think I’m overlooking his brilliant short stories. The Encyclopedia of SF notes that “In 1995, he was granted the SFWA Grand Master Award – which from 2002 became formally known, in his honour, as the Damon Knight Grand Master Award. He was posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2003.” (Died 2002.)
  • Born September 19, 1928 — Adam West. Best known as Batman on that classic Sixties series, he also appeared in 1964’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars as Colonel Dan McReady. He last played the role of Batman by voicing him in two animated films, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face. He also played The Gray Ghost in an episode of the Kevin Conroy voiced Batman: The Animated Series, “Beware the Gray Ghost”. (Died 2017.)
  • Born September 19, 1933 — David McCallum, 88. His longest running, though not genre, role is pathologist  Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on NCIS where he appeared in every episode of the first fifteen seasons. Genre wise, he was Illya Kuryakin on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and the British series Sapphire & Steel where he was Steel and Joanna Lumley was Sapphire.  He played the lead in a short-lived U.S. version of The Invisible Man. He was Dr. Vance Hendricks on Babylon 5’s “Infection” episode.
  • Born September 19, 1936 — Hilary Bailey. Co-writer of The Black Corridor novel with Michael Moorcock, to whom she was married at the time. She wrote four other genre novels, and a double handful of short fiction. She edited three issues of the Seventies New Worlds anthology with Charles Platt. (Died 2017.)
  • Born September 19, 1947 — Tanith Lee. I hadn’t realized that she wrote more than ninety novels and three hundred short stories in her career. She even wrote two of the Blake’s 7 episodes as well. I am more fond of her work for children such as The Dragon Hoard and The Unicorn Series than I am of her adult work. She has garnered Stoker and World Fantasy Awards for Lifetime Achievement.  (Died 2015.)
  • Born September 19, 1952 — Laurie R. King, 69. She’s on the Birthday Honors list for the Mary Russell series of historical mysteries, featuring Sherlock Holmes as her mentor and later partner. Hey it’s at least genre adjacent.  She’s also written at least one genre novel, Califia’s Daughters.
  • Born September 19, 1972 — N. K. Jemisin, 49. Her most excellent Broken Earth series has made her the only author to have won the Hugo for Best Novel in three consecutive years. Her “Non-Zero Probabilities” was nominated for the Best Short Story losing out to Will McIntosh‘s “Bridesicle” at Aussiecon 4. “Emergency Skin” I’m pleased to note won the Best Novelette Hugo at CoNZealand. Yeah I voted for it. 

(8) NEW MESSAGE. In the Washington Post, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Julia Mio Isuma profile Mamoru Hosada, director of Belle, an anime whose message of “female empowerment” is designed to be contrasted with the message in many anime and manga that “often portrays women as  weak, vacuous, and hypersexualized.” “In Japan’s anime world, ‘Belle’ creates rare space for female power”.

… The message has resonated in Japan during a time when growing numbers of women are calling for change — most recently laid bare through a string of sexist comments by high-ranking Olympic officials that drew fierce backlash….

(9) FASHION STATEMENT. An observation about tonight’s Emmy Awards:

(10) GOM JABBAR. At IGN, “Dune: Exclusive Scene Breakdown with Denis Villeneuve” – video at the link.

Dune director/co-writer Denis Villeneuve exclusively breaks down the pivotal Gom Jabbar test scene featuring Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam (Charlotte Rampling). Dune opens in the US on October 22, October 21 in the UK and in Australia on December 2, 2021.

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says the second Percy Jackson film is just as loosely connected to the original novels as the first film, and features a prophecy that the producer skips over because it’s just like every other prophecy in a YA movie, a son of Poseidon who gets seasick, and a brother of Percy Jackson who is a Cyclops but wears sunglasses which mean his single eye is covered by the bridge of the glasses.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/7/21 I’ve Scrolled Through The Desert In A File With No Name

(1) TROPE THE LIGHT FANTASTIC. The Nerds of Color had the opportunity to interview Denis Villeneuve. Their headline asks “Is ‘Dune’ Truly a White-Savior Story?”, however, there is much more to the interview than the part relating to the title, excerpted here:

There is a storytelling trope called the White Savior where a Caucasian will go into a foreign land and act as a rescuer or messianic figure to the indigenous people there. And Herbert’s work has been criticized for falling into that trope. So how do you contemporize the story to avoid falling into the problematic areas that trope may potentially present?

That’s a very important question. And it’s why I thought Dune was, the way I was reading it, a critique of that [trope]. It’s not a celebration of a savior. It’s a condemnation and criticism of that idea of a savior. Of someone that will come and tell another operation how to be and what to believe… it’s a criticism. That’s the way I feel it’s relevant and can be seen contemporary. And that’s what I’ll say about that. Frankly it’s the opposite [of that trope].

(2) DISCON III RATE HIKE SEPT. 15. DisCon III membership prices go up on September 15. Purchase your Attending, Virtual, or Supporting Worldcon membership now.

(3) NYRSF READINGS. Michael Bishop will feature in the New York Review of Science Fiction readings series on September 9. The program will livestream from the NYRSF Readings Facebook page at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

(4) CAR TUNES. Bob Gale finally got his wish. “In ‘Back to The Future: The Musical,’ the Car Is the Star of the Show” – and the New York Times has the story.

During a recent performance of “Back to the Future: The Musical,” at the Adelphi Theater here, the audience couldn’t stop cheering.

They cheered a preshow announcement asking everyone to turn off their cellphones, “since they weren’t invented in 1985,” the year the original movie was released. They cheered when Marty McFly, the show’s main character (played by Olly Dobson), skateboarded onstage in an orange body warmer. And they cheered, again, when he started singing, surrounded by break dancers and women in aerobics getup to complete the 1980s vibe.

But the loudest applause came about 20 minutes in. After three loud bangs and a flash of light, a DeLorean car seemed to magically appear in the middle of the stage, lights bouncing off its steel bodywork and gull-wing doors.

The audience went wild.

Bob Gale, who co-wrote the original movie with Robert Zemeckis and wrote the musical’s book, said in a telephone interview that he always knew the car would be vital to the show’s success. “We knew if we pulled it off, it was going to make the audience go nuts,” he said.

He added he had been working on making that happen for over 15 years. 

(5) GAME ON. The “Montegrappa Winter Is Here Limited Edition Fountain Pen” is marked down to $4,400! Hmm, shall I buy it, or do my laundry for the next 220 months?

Made under license to HBO, Montegrappa’s new Game of Thrones pen, Winter is Here, pays homage to the mysterious forces from north of The Wall.

Using the ancient jeweller’s art of lost wax casting, Montegrappa has created half pen, half objet d’art.

Three-dimensional effigies of the Night King and White Walker form a sterling silver superstructure that encases a body of shiny lines celluloid. The figure of Viserion wraps around the cap, and the dragon’s head with a tongue of ice coming out of its mouth acts as an innovative pocket clip. Enamelled, crystal blue flames encircle the base of the cap, while semi-precious apatite stones emulate the cold, mysterious eyes unique to beings of the North.

(6) MOUNTAIN CLIMBER. James Davis Nicoll devises “Five Extremely Unscientific Methods for Picking Your Next Book” at Tor.com.

Anyone can apply logic, taste, and methodical research to the problem of selecting which limited subset of the vast number of books available one is to read. Conversely, one can half-ass one’s way through Mt. Tsundoku using methods of dubious reliability. Don’t believe me? Here are five methods I have used, each more ludicrous than the one before….

(7) FREE MARS EVENT. Explore Mars, Inc., is holding a free S2021 Humans to Mars Summit (H2M 2021) on September 13–15. It will be a virtual event, however, Explore Mars plans to also conduct some in-person elements in Washington, D.C. Register here.

The topics include:

  • Planet of Robots: Recent Milestones and Discoveries on Mars
  • Artemis to Mars: Utilizing the Moon to sending Humanity to Mars
  • How Space Exploration Improves Life on Earth
  • Making it on Mars: 3-D Printing and Other Critical Technologies
  • Building a Space Workforce: Inspiring and Motivating Preprofessional     and Early Professionals
  • EVA Suits and Surface Operations
  • Nuclear Propulsion and Surface Power
  • Robotic Support: Prior, During, and After Crewed Missions to Mars
  • How Can Space Exploration Expand Inclusiveness and Diversity?

(8) BEAR MEDICAL UPDATE. A Livejournal post from Elizabeth Bear for public sharing: “if memories were all i sang i’d rather drive a truck”.

Just wanted to let everybody know that my surgical consult is on Thursday afternoon, and I expect to be scheduled rapidly for surgery after that. If that goes well then I can look forward to a month off to heal and then radiation. If it goes poorly, alas, it’s probably straight into chemo but right now that is considered unlikely.

Scott can’t come in to the consult with me because plague. I’m going to ask if I can record it.

Got my You Are A Cancer Patient Now covid booster which was surprisingly emotional. Cue crying in a CVS. Could be worse… so glad I’m not doing this last year….

(9) WALL OF FAME. “Muppets creator Jim Henson’s London home gets blue plaque” reports The Guardian.  

Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets, has been honoured with a blue plaque at his former London home.

The US puppeteer, acclaimed for his work on Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock and as director of The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, lived at 50 Downshire Hill in Hampstead from 1979….

…His son Brian, who is chairman of the board at The Jim Henson Company, said: “My father moved to London to make The Muppet Show, and then chose to stay because he was so impressed by the UK’s many gifted artists and performers….

(10) TONY SELBY (1938-2021). Actor Tony Selby died September 5 after contracting Covid-19. His genre work included Doctor Who and Ace of Wands.

…In a different vein – and sporting a beard – Selby was one of Doctor Who fans’ favourite guest stars. He played Sabalom Glitz, the selfish mercenary from the planet Salostopus who forms uneasy alliances with Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy’s incarnations of the Time Lord in two adventures, the series-long story The Trial of a Time Lord (1986) and Dragonfire (1987). The unbroadcast back story for the second revealed that Glitz had taken the virginity of the doctor’s young companion Ace (Sophie Aldred).

Alongside guest roles as crooks in various television series, the actor played Sam Maxstead, reformed convict and assistant to the magician who uses his real supernatural powers to fight evildoers, in the first two runs (1970-71) of the children’s fantasy series Ace of Wands….

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1974 – Forty-seven years ago this night, the Land of the Lost series premiered on NBC. (It went into syndication for the last two seasons.) It was created by Sid and Marty Krofft and (though uncredited during the series) also by David Gerrold, and produced by the Kroffts who were previously known for H.R. Pufnstuf and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. (I actually remember the former. Particularly the theme song which is earworming its way into my brain now.) Starring Spencer Milligan, Wesley Eure, Kathy Coleman, Phillip Paley, and Ron Harper, it ran for three seasons and forty-three half hour episodes. A number of SF writers wrote scripts including  Ben Bova, Larry Niven, Theodore Sturgeon and Norman Spinrad.  The Kroffts continue to claim that they are working on an updated remake to the series and that this time it will be an hour-long series.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 7, 1921 — Donald William Heiney. Under the pseudonym of MacDonald Harris, which he used for all of his fiction, wrote one of the better modern set novels using the Minotaur myth, Bull Fever. His time travel novel, Screenplay, where the protagonist ends up in a film noir 1920s Hollywood is also well crafted. Most of his work is available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 1993.)
  • Born September 7, 1924 — Gerry de la Ree. He published fanzines such as Sun Spots ran for 29 issues from the that Thirties through the Forties, and as editor, he published such work as The Book of Virgil FinlayA Hannes Bok Sketchbook, and Clark Ashton Smith – Artist. He was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1993.)
  • Born September 7, 1955 — Mira Furlan. Damn, another early death among that cast. She’s best known for her role as the Minbari Ambassador Delenn on the entire run of Babylon 5, and also as Danielle Rousseau on Lost, a series I did not watch. (and have absolutely no interest in doing so.) She’s reunited with Bill Mumy and Bruce Boxleitner at least briefly in a Canadian SF series called Space Command. (Died 2021.)
  • Born September 7, 1956 — Mark Dawidziak, 65. A Kolchak: Night Stalker fan of the first degree. He has written The Night Stalker Companion: A 30th Anniversary Tribute, Kolchak: The Night Stalker ChroniclesKolchak: The Night Stalker Casebook and The Kolchak Papers: Grave Secret. To my knowledge, he’s not written a word about the rebooted Night Stalker series. Proving he’s a man of discriminating taste. 
  • Born September 7, 1960 — Susan Palwick, 61. She won the Rhysling Award for “The Neighbor’s Wife,” the Crawford Award for best first novel with Her Flying in Place, and the Alex Award for her second novel, The Necessary Beggar. Impressive as she’s not at all prolific. All Worlds are Real, her latest collection, was nominated for the 2020 Philip K. Dick Award. She was one of the editors of New York Review of Science Fiction which was nominated for the Best Semiprozine Hugo at Noreascon 3. 
  • Born September 7, 1966 — Toby Jones, 55. He appeared in “Amy’s Choice,” an Eleventh  Doctor story, as the Dream Lord. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, he voiced Dobby the house elf. And in Finding Neverland, Mr. Smee, Captain Hook’s bo’sun. Guess what work that film was based on. Finally I’ll note that he was using motion capture as Aristides Silk in The Adventures of Tintin. 
  • Born September 7, 1973 — Alex Kurtzman, 48. Ok, a number of sites claim he single-handedly destroyed Trek as the fanboys knew it. So why their hatred for him? Mind you I’m more interested that he and Roberto Orci created the superb Fringe series, and that alone redeems him for me. And I’m fascinated that he was Executive Producer on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess!
  • Born September 7, 1974 — Noah Huntley, 47. He has appeared in films such as 28 Days LaterThe Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (excellent film), Snow White and the Huntsman (great film), Event Horizon (surely you’ve something else to do) and Dracula Untold (well, not so great). He’s Gawain in The Mists of Avalon series which I refuse to watch, and shows up as Donovan Osborn in the CW series Pandora which, I’m not kidding, which gets a Rotten Tomatoes zero percent audience rating. Ouch. Anyone here seen it? 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) IF ONLY IT WAS UNBELIEVABLE. It’s a good thing the writers didn’t wait – reality has already overtaken the future predicted in this 2006 movie: “The oral history of ‘Idiocracy,’ Mike Judge’s time travel triumph” at Inverse.

Mike Judge’s science fiction satire imagined what the United States might look like in the year 2505. From his perspective, that meant:

A population made stupid by advertising

A brash president who used to be a wrestler

Crocs dominating the footwear landscape

Society seems doomed until a 21st-century everyman (Luke Wilson) gets frozen by the military and wakes up 500 years later, making him the smartest person in America and the only man who can save it.

Beset by a low budget and little-to-no-advertising support from 20th Century Fox, Idiocracy almost didn’t happen at all. The fact that it exists is a miracle. The fact that it managed to accurately predict the future is just a bonus, though Judge loves to downplay his prescience….

JUDGE: I started talking to other writers; Etan Cohen was over at my house and I told him about the idea and the next day he said, “I really like that idea. I was thinking there could be a fart museum.” I thought, “Maybe his head’s in the right place for this.”

ETAN COHEN (CO-WRITER): It was great because there wasn’t a rush. It was a luxury to have that much time to generate the idea….

COHEN: One of the great things about the movie was it was very cathartic because you could just drive around and if anything got you angry it could go right in the movie….

(15) ANOTHER BITE OF THE POISONED APPLE. Two more authors think it’s not too late to mock the spirit of the times. Canadian authors Michael Cherkas and Larry Hancock have produced a new installment in their cult-classic graphic novel series, The Silent Invasion, coming out from NBM Publishing on October 19.

Dark Matter is the latest installment in the graphic novel series which began 35 years ago. The series originally focused on the paranoia and conspiracy theories in the 1950s including UFOs, alien abductions and invasions — both alien and communist. The current book continues with an emphasis on brainwashing by religious cults that may be in league with a secretive cabal of industrialists, military authorities and scientists, who may have the assistance of alien overseers . 

The Silent Invasion is a visually striking series drawn in a bold and expressionistic European-influenced black and white style . However, Dark Matter is a complex, compelling and sometimes humorous tale filled with numerous twists and turns. 

Referring to the current political atmosphere filled with rampant conspiracy theories, writer Larry Hancock, said, “If there is any time for a good dose of paranoia that doesn’t take itself seriously, it’s now.” 

Co-author and illustrator Michael Cherkas added, “I’ve always been fascinated by the phenomenon of UFO sightings, aliens abductions and conspiracies. It’s interesting that this sort of “magical thinking” is no longer confined to the fringe element. It’s now part of the mainstream.” 

(16) STOLEN AND FOUND. Suggest brings us “The Wild Story Of Nicolas Cage’s Issue Of The First Superman Comic”.

Nicolas Cage’s love of comic books is fairly well known. The star of Ghost Rider and Kick-Ass once owned the legendary Action Comics No. 1, featuring the first appearance of Superman. What happened to this specific issue is quite wild, and the story even features a connection to the hit A&E series Storage Wars. Here’s what happened….

I can’t resist an item that mentions Storage Wars — my friend Elst Weinstein appeared as an expert in the show’s first season.

(17) SCARY LEGO SPECIAL. There can be more terrifying things than stepping on them barefoot — “LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales debuts Disney+ trailer” at SYFY Wire.

Marvel isn’t the only one capable of exploring alternate realities within established canon. The official trailer for the LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales special (coming to Disney+ early next month) teases a trio of stories that put a fresh — and borderline What If…? — twist on beloved characters and storylines.

Set on the volcanic planet of Mustafar, Terrifying Tales follows Poe Dameron (Jake Green), BB-8, and plucky mechanic Dean (Raphael Alejandro) as they’re treated to a hair-raising tour of Vader’s old castle. One of the most foreboding locations in the Star Wars mythos, the castle is being turned into a galactic tourist attraction by Graballa the Hutt (Dana Snyder)….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Shang-chi Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George, in a spoiler-packed episode, has the producer take out the “Marvel Movies checklist” to find that Shang-Chi does have “a big messy CGI Battle,” ‘color-coded energy blasts,” and a hero who takes off his shirt to reveal sic-pack abs.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Lise Andreasen, Alan Baumler, Jeffrey Smith, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 9/5/21 Scrollers Of The Purple Pixel

(1) LISTEN UP. Connie Willis proclaimed to Facebook readers “PRIMEVAL IS BACK!!!” (Hey, my ears may be deaf but my eyes aren’t!)

I just saw that the first two seasons of PRIMEVAL, the British science-fiction series, is now available from Britbox, and I thought it was a good time to encourage anybody who hasn’t seen it so far to take a look at it. That is, if there’s anybody left who I haven’t already told they HAVE to watch this series–

I have recommended it so many times that it’s become a standing joke in science fiction circles (I somehow figure out a way to mention it on every single panel) and Locus has forbidden me to mention it at the Locus Awards Banquet. As if that could stop me!

I know it sounds like I’m obsessed with the series, but so was Kit Reed, one of my favorite science-fiction writers of all time (see her brilliant short stories, “The Wait” and “Great escape Tours, Ltd.”) and nearly everybody I’ve ever introduced it to has loved it. (One couple took it on a beach weekend and ended up never going outside the entire time because they were binge-watching.)…

You know anything forbidden by Locus is mandatory here….

 … So, basically, the A-team with dinosaurs. So far, it’s completely formula, and you think the hunky guy and the pretty blonde will obviously get together, the geeky nerd will provide the plot explication and comic relief, the professor and the bureaucrat will flirt with each other, etc. but that only lasts for an episode or two, and then things start to get really interesting….

(2) SVENGOOLIE LENDS A HAND. Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications is one of five selected to host a special John Oliver exhibit. Horror-themed TV host Svengoolie told his fans how he helped with the successful pitch to Oliver, and that some of his items will be displayed by the Museum.

Tapped by Emmy-winning writer, comedian and television host John Oliver, the Museum of Broadcast Communications (MBC) announced today it is one of only five museums in the country receiving an art display featured on HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. The special exhibit opens Oct. 2 through Oct. 26, 2021. In addition to winning the honor through a national competition, the Museum also receives $10,000 from Last Week Tonight. The MBC’s designated charity, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, also will receive a $10,000 donation.

… The national competition began after Oliver’s 2020 segment about the harsh effects of the global pandemic on small museums. Oliver wanted to help. He called for submissions from museums that wanted to compete for displaying items from his Masterpiece Gallery collection. The Museum responded with a humorous video pitch using the power of broadcast to communicate important stories and influence audiences….

Admission is free, but the Museum has suggested that visitors bring a non-perishable food donation which will go, along with the $10,000 donation, to the Greater Chicago Food depository.

(3) TV TUNES. The theme songs of four genre shows made it into The Guardian’s top 20, although it was crime series “Inspector Morse voted No 1 theme song in poll of TV and music fans”.

4 Game of Thrones – Ramin Djawadi
13 Doctor Who – Ron Grainer
14 The Lone Ranger (William Tell Overture) – Gioachino Rossini
19 Thunderbirds – Barry Gray

(4) DON’T TOUCH THAT DIAL. The latest (in 1966) British sff sensation is on black-and-white TV. Let Galactic Journey tell you all about it: “[September 4, 1966] British Science Fiction Lives! (Alien Worlds #1 & New Writings in SF #9)”.

Move over James Bond and John Steed, there is a new dashing science fictional spy on the scene. I am of course referring to the latest hit from the team behind Doctor WhoAdam Adamant Lives!

An old-fashioned Victorian swashbuckling hero, Adam Adamant is frozen by a masked supervillain and buried under London. After being found by a construction crew, he finds himself resurrected in the strange world of London in 1966. Teaming up with a young mod woman named Georgina Jones, they solve unusual crimes such as satanic aristocrats or a soap manufacturer drugging the nation with plastic flowers.

(5) TWO THUMBS UP. A pair of early reviews of Denis Villenueve’s Dune are quite favorable.

The Guardian’s Xan Brooks calls Dune “Blockbuster cinema at its dizzying, dazzling best”.

Dune reminds us what a Hollywood blockbuster can be. Implicitly, its message written again and again in the sand, Denis Villeneuve’s fantasy epic tells us that big-budget spectaculars don’t have to be dumb or hyperactive, that it’s possible to allow the odd quiet passage amid the explosions. Adapted from Frank Herbert’s 60s opus, Dune is dense, moody and quite often sublime – the missing link bridging the multiplex and the arthouse. Encountering it here was like stumbling across some fabulous lost tribe, or a breakaway branch of America’s founding fathers who laid out the template for a different and better New World.

The Independent’s Clarisse Loughrey says the “Spectacular sci-fi adaptation is this generation’s Lord of the Rings”.

… Villeneuve’s Dune is the sandworm exploding out from the darkness below. It is a film of such literal and emotional largeness that it overwhelms the senses. If all goes well, it should reinvigorate the book’s legacy in the same way Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy did for JRR Tolkien’s work. Indeed, much like Jackson, Villeneuve has a certain pliancy to his vision that, in this case, has been his saving grace. Arrival and Prisoners, two of his previous films, may have possessed their own distinctive look but, when it came to Blade Runner 2049, his belated sequel to Ridley Scott’s masterpiece, it spoke fluently in the language of what came before….

(6) DRESSED FOR THE OCCASION. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] Photo of myself (right) and Tony Edwards of Delta SF Film Group. Tony is wearing his Knight of St. Fantony jacket. The pic was taken at 2019’s Festival of Fantastic Films.

Tony Edwards (L), Jonathan Cowie (R)

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1942 – Seventy-nine years ago on this date, “The Impatient Patient,” a Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoon short featuring Daffy Duck and Dr. Jekyll premiered. The cartoon is set in Jekyll’s mad scientist’s laboratory. It was produced by Leon Schlesinger and directed by Norman McCabe. The story by Don Christensen. It starred Mel Blanc. In 1968, a redrawn color edition would be re-released and in 1992, a computer colorized version came out. Animation fans detest both of these versions. You can watch the original version here as it’s in the public domain.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 5, 1936 — Rhae Andrece and Alyce Andrece. They played a series of androids in I, Mudd, a quite classic Trek episode. Both appeared as police women in “Nora Clavicle and the Ladies’ Crime Club” on Batman. That’s their only genre other appearance. They only acted for three years and every appearance of their total seven appearances by one was with the other. (Alyce died 2005; Rhae died 2009.)
  • Born September 5, 1939 — Donna Anderson, 82. She was Mary Holmes in On The Beach, based on Neville Shute’s novel. She also appeared in, and I kid you not, Sinderella and the Golden Bra and Werewolves on Wheels. The first is a Sixties skinflick, the second is a Seventies exploitation film. She last shows up in a genre role series in The Incredible Hulk
  • Born September 5, 1939 — George Lazenby, 82. He is best remembered for being James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. His turn as Bond was the shortest among the actors in the film franchise and he is the only Bond actor not to appear beyond a single film. (He was also the youngest actor cast as Bond, at age 29, and the only born outside of the British Isles.) Genre wise, he also played Jor-El on Superboy and was also a Bond like character named JB in the Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. film. He voiced the Royal Flush King in a recurring role in the Batman Beyond series. 
  • Born September 5, 1940 — Raquel Welch, 81. Fantastic Voyage was her first genre film though she made One Million Years B.C. thatwith her leather bikini got her much more notice. She was charming in The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers. She has one-offs in Bewitched, Sabrina the Teenage WitchThe Muppet ShowLois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanHappily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child and Mork & Mindy
  • Born September 5, 1951 — Michael Keaton, 70. Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice! He also has the title roles of Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns. His most recent role is The Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming. He reprises that role as in Marvel’s upcoming Morbius film.
  • Born September 5, 1959 — Carolyne Larrington, 62. Norse history and culture academic who’s the author of The Land of the Green Man: A Journey Through the Supernatural Landscapes of the British Isles and Winter is Coming: The Medieval World of Game of Thrones. She also wrote “Norse gods make a comeback thanks to Neil Gaiman – here’s why their appeal endures” for The Conversation.
  • Born September 5, 1964 — Stephen Greenhorn, 57. Scriptwriter who written two episodes for Doctor Who: “The Lazarus Experiment” and “The Doctor’s Daughter”, both Tenth Doctor stories. He also wrote Marchlands, a supernatural series whichJodie Whittaker and Alex Kingston appeared in. He also wrote the Mind Shadows strip which was featured on the Who website.
  • Born September 5, 1973 — Rose McGowan, 48. Best known as Paige Matthews on Charmed. She played two different roles in the Grindhouse franchise, Cherry Darling in Planet Terror and Pam in Death Proof. She was Miss Kitty in Monkeybone, a very weird film indeed.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld on all the hoops people will be expected to jump through upon the arrival of the next big book.

(10) GAIMAN INSPIRATION. “HBO Max orders ‘Dead Boy Detectives’ pilot from Greg Berlanti”SYFY Wire has the story.

Greg Berlanti‘s involvement with the DC Universe on the small screen is expanding once again. Variety has confirmed the Arrowverse producer extraordinaire is teaming up with HBO Max for a pilot of Dead Boy Detectives, a DC/Vertigo comic inspired by the Sandman universe created by Neil Gaiman.

Written by Mark Buckingham and Toby Litt (Buckingham also served as illustrator), the book follows a pair of deceased boys — Charles Rowland and Edwin Paine — who forego a ticket to the afterlife in order to remain on Earth, solving mysteries via supernatural means. Think Constantine meets The Hardy Boys.

(11) HE RODE A BLAZING CREDENTIAL. “George Takei teamed up w/ Mel Brooks in film inspired by Blazing Saddles” reports RedShirtsAlwaysDie.

Fans rightfully so give William Shatner props for still working at 90 years old, but that doesn’t mean he’s the only original Star Trek actor still going strong these days. George Takei is 84 years old and is himself still acting. Takei even has a major project coming up with the famed Mel Brooks (who’s 95 years old himself).

The new project is called Blazing Samurai and features a loaded cast. Names like Michael Cera, Samuel L. Jackson, Ricky Gervais, Gabriel Iglesias, Djimon Honsou, and Star Trek: Discovery’s very own Michelle Yeoh. The man himself, Brooks, will also be lending his voice to the animated feature.

The film is based on Brooks’ own Blazing Saddles comedy and will center around Hank, played by Cera, who is a dog that wants to become a samurai. Jackson plays a cat, and Gervais plays the evil villain….

(12) YOU BET YOUR LIFE. This time they mean it. Coming to Netflix: Korean sf. “Squid Game Official Teaser #1” with English subtitles.

How far would you go for 45.6 billion won? Welcome to Squid Game, a mysterious survival game that could change your fortune for good. The only cost to play? Your life.

(13) WORLD FANTASY HEAD START. Lela E. Buis, in “That Concludes the 2021 World Fantasy Award Reviews”, rounds up the links to all 15 fiction reviews.

(14) MR. SCI-FI. Marc Scott Zicree tells viewers “Why I Love Used Books!”

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. A visit to Walt Disney’s house, featuring animator Floyd Norman and Disney historian Don Hahn.

From legendary filmmaker Don Hahn and Disney Files Magazine Editor Ryan March comes “Disney Drop-In,” a Disney Vacation Club series of unscripted videos filmed in interesting Disney places with equally interesting Disney people. In this episode, Don Hahn leads Disney Legend Floyd Norman on a tour of Walt Disney’s historic home on Woking Way in Los Angeles, California.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]