Pixel Scroll 2/8/24 It’s The Great Singularity, Charlie Brown

(1) SEE ICONIC ARTWORK IN BAY AREA THIS WEEKEND. Leo and Diane Dillon’s original cover art for The Left Hand of Darkness, recently in the news as one of the items sold from the Carr-Lichtman estate by Mark Funke, will be on display at the Antiquarian Book Fair in San Francisco, February 9–11 reports KQED in “The Painting That Became an Ursula K. Le Guin Book Cover”.

…“When I talk to other LGBTQIA+ science fiction writers and people who are immersed in science fiction, they always point to The Left Hand of Darkness as a book that kind of showed them how expansive, how rich and how multilayered speculative fiction could be in its approach to gender and sexuality,” says Charlie Jane Anders, a San Francisco-based transgender science fiction writer, who wrote the afterword for the 50th anniversary edition of the novel….

How the cover was acquired by Terry Carr for the Ace paperback edition, and the artistry of Leo and Diane Dillon, is discussed at length in the KQED article.

…Diane Dillon says science fiction writers inspired some of their best work. Leo introduced her to the genre when they met as students at Parsons in the ’50s. They were drawn to sci-fi’s imaginative worlds and the promise of what could be possible.

“Science fiction, fantasy and myth gave us the freedom to invent and challenge our imagination,” Diane wrote via email.

In a 2000 interview, Leo said he and Diane wanted their illustrations to “take science fiction out of that spaceship-and-craters-on-the-planet look.” (Leo died in 2012.)

In the case of The Left Hand of Darkness, the Dillons drew inspiration from Gustav Klimt. The original 24-by-19-inch acrylic painting evokes an uncanny world. Two figures with blurry features melt into a muted luster — an allusion to the icy planet of Gethen that provides the setting for the novel.

“That’s a sprawling piece, and it says volumes in just that one image,” says Paul Gulla, manager of R. Michelson Galleries, which represents the Dillons, in Northampton, Massachusetts.The Dillons’ work was recognizable, but the duo enjoyed experimentation. They used various techniques and materials — including stained glass, woodcarving and clay — throughout their decades-long career, which spanned book covers, album covers, kids’ picture books and advertisements.

The Dillons even forged a new artistic identity. They described their collaboration as a “third artist,” drawing on the combined powers of their own individual styles….

Leo and Diane Dillon’s painting for the cover of Harlan Ellison’s ‘No Doors No Windows.’ (Courtesy R. Michelson Galleries)

The article also has this photo of another item – an album of fan photos, some dating back to the Fifties.

(2) ON THE FRONT. Austin Conrad has more advice for SFWA Blog readers in “Sourcing Art on a Budget (Part 2)”

High-quality art plays an important role in creating the well-presented products expected by most consumers of tabletop games, but commissioning bespoke art can be expensive. Like a novel’s cover, an RPG’s interior graphics evoke the game’s aesthetic and market the game to the audience. Many tabletop writers—especially new creators—don’t have the resources to commission the expected quantity of art. What, then, are a tabletop writer’s ethical alternatives?…

(3) 2024 FANAC FAN HISTORY ZOOM SERIES: AUSTRALIA. [Item by Joe Siclari.] In 2022, we had a very interesting Fan History Zoom Session on Australian history with Leigh Edmonds and Perry Middlemiss. We didn’t even get to the first Australian Worldcon so we are going to continue.

Wrong Turns on the Wallaby Track, Part 2 with Leigh Edmonds and Perry Middlemiss. Saturday, February 17, 2024. Time: 7PM EST, 4 PM PST and 11AM Feb. 18, Melbourne AEDT

To attend, send a note to [email protected]

(4) WRITERS OF THE FUTURE WINNERS Q&A. Space Cowboy Books will host four Writers of the Future winners in an online event late this month. Register for free HERE.

Online Reading & Interview with Writers of the Future Winners

Tuesday Feb. 27th 4:30pm PT

Reading and Interview with Writers of the Future Winners: David Hankins, Elaine Midcoh, Jason Palmatier, & TJ Knight.

Be amazed. Be amused. Be transported … by stories that take you by surprise and take you further and deeper into new worlds and new ideas than you’ve ever gone before…. Twelve captivating tales from the most exciting new voices in science fiction and fantasy accompanied by three from masters of the genre.

Get your copy of the book at Bookshop.org.

(5) VERSE IS BETTER. Holly Henderson recommends “Using Poetry to Enhance Your Writing” at the SFWA Blog.

Poetry can be one of the shortest forms of fiction, but it has the ability to make an outsized impact on the reader. This is especially true when poetry is combined with fantasy and science fiction—both forms aspire to express common concepts in uncommon ways.

From classics like The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien to recent Hugo Award winner A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine, poetry has been used throughout the history of speculative fiction to jumpstart brainstorming, enhance worldbuilding, and reinforce themes so they resonate far beyond the last page….

Effective Poetry Is Its Own Skill Set

Study poetry as you would any other aspect of your craft. Read collections with a wide variety, such as Chris Riddell’s Poems to… series. Pick apart your favorites to figure out why they work. Explore different forms to expand your horizons beyond the ABAB rhyme scheme.

That being said, you don’t need an MFA in Poetry to incorporate it into your novel. Just like with prose, there’s a lot to be said for writing poetry you like to read. Don’t get caught in the trap of it having to be a certain way to be “right.” One of the most beautiful things about poetry is that it encourages you to break the rules….

(6) SWANWICK’S TRIBUTE TO WALDROP. “Howard Waldrop, Implausibly, Is No More” mourns Michael Swanwick at Flogging Babel.

Howard Waldrop is dead. This seems impossible–almost as impossible as that he could have existed in the first place. He was unlike anybody else. I once labeled him in print as “the weird mind of his generation,” and it was true. He simply didn’t think the way other people did.

You could see it in the best of his stories. People would come back from conventions where he’d read a new story (he incubated them in his mind for a long time and didn’t write anything down until the story was letter-perfect; fans learned that you could squeeze a new one out of him by making him the guest of honor at a con and requesting that he read something new at it; the night before the reading, he’d sit down and write out… something amazing) and say something like, “Howard wrote a story about dodo birds surviving in the American South,” or “Howard wrote a story about Dwight D. Eisenhower becoming a jazz musician,” and I’d think: Damn. I wish I’d had that idea! One day somebody said, “Howard wrote a story about Izaak Walton and John Bunyan going fishing in the Slough of Despond.”…

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 8, 1969 Mary Robinette Kowal, 55. Author, puppeteer, voice actor. Mary Robinette Kowal is an amazing individual indeed.

As I always find out who is narrating the audio works I’m listening to, I first encountered her when she was voicing some of the works that I like best, such as Seanan McGuire’s Indexing novels which are so wonderfully narrated by Kowal. 

Mary Robinette Kowal

She has an ability to give life to each character in a novel so that the listener can tell each of them apart by the way that she voices them. Her narration of her novel is Ghost Talkers is both properly spooky and horrifying in equal measure. 

While doing this essay I got curious about the idea of her as a puppeteer. She has been one for over thirty years and her production company is the Other Hand Productions. So she worked for Jim Henson Pictures in the Elmo in Grouchland film, she assisted Martin P. Robinson who was Sesame Street’s Telly Monster in “Jackstraws” piece, and her design work has been recognized with UNIMA-USA citations of excellence for Mark Levenson’s Between Two Worlds and Other Hand Productions’ Old Man Who Made Trees Blossom. The Citation of Excellence was founded by Jim Henson and is the highest award possible for an American puppeteer. Cool, eh? 

Now for the third part of her quite impressive career. I asked one of our Filers, Paul, to talk about that as I figured he’d read more deeply of her than I have. (I personally loved The Spare Man, Ghost Talkers and the Glamourist series. Her narration of The Spare Man is an  amazing experience speaking as one who only gets his long form fiction now in that way.)

So here’s Paul: “I was immediately enchanted with her first Glamourist history novel, Shades of Milk and Honey. I enjoyed the characters, the magic system and saw her homage to Regency romances, and liked it. I also particularly think that the last book in that series, Of Noble Family, engaging with some difficult subjects of class and race, is a strong entry that shows Kowal’s willingness to work with such material and face the issues therein.  Her recent The Spare Man encapsulates a lot of what she does, on a luxury liner, in SPAAACE.  And while many will point at her Lady Astronaut series as her current pinnacle of work (and I did borrow Elma York’s mental trick of composing fibonacci numbers in my head while hiking in Nepal), I think her alternate WWI fantasy novel Ghost Talkers is very unjustly overlooked as a compelling novel of a woman caught by her duty and needs in a terrible, dangerous wartime.”

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frank and Ernest has an encounter with a librarian about Robin Hood. But they’re not arguing whether it’s sff….
  • F Minus says there’s a downside to owning a superpet.

(9) PATRICK S. TOMLINSON. The Independent invites readers to “Meet the most ‘swatted’ man in America”.

Mr Tomlinson told The Independent he had woken in the middle of the night to find officers banging on his door, been handcuffed, and had guns shoved in his face during the yearslong ordeal. He was once swatted four times in one day.

Mr Filion has not been charged in relation to the swats on Mr Tomlinson’s home, and investigators believe there are at least two individuals behind the Torswats account.

The FBI, Milwaukee Police Department and the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office in Florida where the teenager is facing four felony counts declined to provide further information, beyond an extensive account of Mr Filion’s activities in a probable cause charging document.

After Mr Filion was arrested on 18 January at his home in Lancaster, Los Angeles County, Mr Tomlinson said he and his wife Niki Robinson had their first decent night of sleep in years.

Their relief was short-lived. Within a day of Mr Filion’s arrest, a Telegram channel named “Torswats Return” was created by someone claiming that their “partner has been arrested”, according to posts viewed by The Independent.

The channel stated that it would continue offering “swats” for as little as $40, and offered returning customers a discounted rate. It also posted derogatory photographs and text about Mr Tomlinson — noting that there would be no charge for requested swats against him.

“And of course swats to Patrick… are free,” read the Telegram message.

… The science fiction author has endured relentless harassment from an anonymous online army of what he describes as “cyber terrorists”. He says they have stalked and impersonated him, defaced his home, and continue to send a daily avalanche of abusive phone calls, voicemail messages and emails.

“I wont stop until one of them die (sic),” a message posted to the channel, referring to Mr Tomlinson, on 6 January stated.

As swatting incidents have spiked in recent months, victims and cybersecurity experts say law enforcement are failing to deal with the threat.

Last month, Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley revealed she was targeted by swatting hoaxes twice in two days, and has requested Secret Service protection amid the rising threats to her safety. She is among the dozens of lawmakers, judges in Trump trials and public figures who have experienced tactical response teams turn up at their homes in response to the false callouts.

Swatting, defined by the Anti Defamation League (ADL) as a “malicious act of reporting a false crime or emergency to evoke an aggressive response”, emerged from online gaming communities in the early 2000s, where rivals would call 911 on each other and watch the armed response on livestream.

The ADL estimates there were over 1,000 swatting incidents in 2019, but the true figure is unclear as there is no federal statute against swatting that would enable convictions to be recorded….

(10) IF COVER REVEAL. Worlds of IF magazine has shared Bob Eggleton’s cover art and the table of contents for the relaunch’s inaugural issue. Issue #177 will be released later this month as both a digest-sized print version and digital download. The PDF version will be free for a limited time at this link. Subscribe to the mailing list for updates.

Featuring stories, poetry, and art by:

  • Renan Bernardo
  • David Brin
  • Michael Butterworth
  • Tara Campbell
  • Kwame Cavil
  • J. Dalton
  • Tatiana Daubek
  • Bob Eggleton
  • Zdravka Evtimova
  • Richard Grieco
  • Akua Lezli Hope
  • Pedro Iniguez
  • Ai Jiang
  • Leslie Kean
  • Rodney Matthews
  • Bruce Pennington
  • Charles Platt
  • Daniel Pomarède
  • Paulo Sayeg
  • Robert Silverberg
  • Andrew Stewart
  • Nigel Suckling
  • Dave Vescio 

(11) CLASSIC FILM MAGAZINE BACK IN PRINT. L’Incroyable Cinema: The Film Magazine of Fantasy and Imagination is available once more. The five issues published in the Sixties and Seventies have been reproduced in paperback editions for sale at Amazon.uk.

For example, issue #4 with Hitchcock on the cover includes the writing of Harry Nadler, Steve Vertlieb, Allan Asherman, and Charles Partington and their coverage of  Mystery of the Wax Museum, The Vampire Lovers, Countess Dracula, and “Hitchcock – Master of the Eloquent Absurdity”.

Please note: This is a REPRODUCTION scanned from an original printed copy – whilst every care has been taken to make this as accurate as possible to the original some flaws etc will be evident. The only changes made to the layout have been to comply with Amazon printing guidelines. They have been reproduced with the permission of Tony Edwards who printed the originals way back when. Brought to you by Steve Kirkham and Tree Frog Publications.

Issues #2-#5 had color cover artwork by Eddie Jones, featuring Boris Karloff, Star Trek’s Spock and Kirk, Alfred Hitchcock and Ray Harryhausen. All issues had extensive picture coverage of sf and horror films.

(12) HOW TO READ A CHARCOAL SCROLL. “First complete passages from ancient Herculaneum scroll decoded” at CNN.

After using artificial intelligence to uncover the first word to be read from an unopened Herculaneum scroll, a team of researchers has revealed several nearly complete passages from the ancient text, giving insight into philosophy from almost 2,000 years ago.

The Herculaneum scrolls are hundreds of papyri that survived the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. In their charred state, the ancient documents would crumble if anyone attempted to unroll them, and any writing on surviving pieces would be nearly illegible to the human eye.

By using computer technology and advanced artificial intelligence, researchers can now analyze the Herculaneum scrolls without unrolling and risking damage to the extremely fragile documents. More than 2,000 characters — the first full passages — have been deciphered from a scroll, according to an announcement Monday by computer scientists who launched the Vesuvius Challenge, a competition designed to accelerate the discoveries made on the scrolls….

… The recently decoded passages were pulled from the end of a scroll and reveal words written by the philosopher Philodemus, who was believed to be the philosopher-in-residence working at the library in which the scrolls were found, the announcement said.

…In the deciphered text, Philodemus writes on “pleasure,” and whether the abundance of goods available can affect the amount of pleasure they give. “As too in the case of food, we do not right away believe things that are scarce to be absolutely more pleasant than those which are abundant,” the first sentence reads….

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. TheHow It Should Have Ended crew say that when it comes to Dune what they really need to fix is “How It Should Have Started”.

An animated Dune cartoon. When House Atreides dares to pass on the spice, who will take on the job? Only a Lethal Company will do.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/27/24 Qual Piuma Pixel?

(1) CREEPING. [Item by Anne Marble.] Author J.D. Barker has been called out for sending e-mails to young women book reviewers asking them to make and send risqué videos he could use in promoting his book. He also offered to pay for the videos once he’d “approved” them. There are reaction videos on TikTok and Xitter. Here is one:

You can see screencaps of the message he sent here:

In addition, he didn’t verify anyone’s age before sending out these e-mails which might cause him legal trouble.

Barker’s upcoming book is Behind a Closed Door, an erotic thriller novel, but he is known in sff circles for having co-authored the Dracula prequel Dracul with Dacre Stoker (Bram Stoker’s great-grandnephew).

He posted an apology — but it made eyes roll. The apology blames his publicity firm, but people have pointed out that he co-founded the publicity firm.

He has been dropped by his agent says Publishers Weekly, and it has been reported that he also stepped down from his position on the board of International Thriller Writers. His book is being distributed by Simon & Schuster — but it’s through Hampton Creek Press, which Barker founded. NBC News has more coverage: “Bestselling author faces fallout after BookTok creators call out ‘racy’ promotion request”.

He’s no relation to Clive Barker or R. J. Barker, by the way.

(2) ICONIC SFF ART ACQUIRED BY UC RIVERSIDE. The Dillons’ cover art for The Left Hand of Darkness has been sold to the Eaton Collection: “UC Riverside buys Le Guin sci-fi novel cover art”Bay Area Reporter has the story.

A renowned science fiction collection at UC Riverside has purchased the original cover art for Ursula Le Guin’s award-winning 1969 novel “The Left Hand of Darkness.” The artwork is joining the state university’s Eaton Collection of Science Fiction & Fantasy and should be on display in the college library’s special collections reading room by the summer…

…”I am absolutely over the moon,” Phoenix Alexander, the Jay Kay and Doris Klein Science Fiction Librarian at UC Riverside, told the Bay Area Reporter about being able to buy the 17 1/4 by 13 inch acrylic painting used for the cover of the debut edition of Le Guin’s novel, which was released in paperback by Ace Books.

As the B.A.R. first reported in December, publisher Ace Books hired award-winning artists and biracial couple Leo and Diane Dillon to create the cover art. Highlighting the novel’s plot centered on a gender-nonconforming and ambisexual race of humanoids, the Dillons featured profiles of the book’s nonbinary protagonists in the left bottom corner looking off into the distance. Surrounding the pair is a blue and white celestial-like scene with what appears to be a brown planet and a spaceship hovering above.

(Leo Dillon, of Trinidadian descent, died in 2012. He was the first African American to win the prestigious Randolph Caldecott Medal for illustrators of children’s books, while the Dillons were the only consecutive winners of the award, having received the honor in 1976 and 1977.)

“Their artwork draws on African folk art, Japanese block printing, and medieval illumination,” noted Alexander, who has been in his position at UC Riverside since August 2022….

(3) SWATTER BUSTED. On Facebook Patrick Tomlinson cheered WIRED’s report: “Police Arrest Teen Said to Be Linked to Hundreds of Swatting Attacks”.

For more than a year, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation has been hunting the person whom experts say is one of the most prolific swatters in American history. Law enforcement now believes they have finally arrested the person responsible.

A 17-year-old from California is allegedly the swatter known as Torswats, according to sources familiar with the investigation. The teenager is currently in custody and awaiting extradition from California to Seminole County, Florida. The Florida State Attorney’s Office tells WIRED that he faces four felony counts.

Seminole County, located in central Florida, had two high-profile swatting incidents within the last 12 months, including one targeting a mosque and another targeting a courthouse. Todd Brown, a spokesperson for Florida’s Office of the State Attorney in the 18th Circuit, confirmed the charges against the teen and his extradition. Brown says he will be prosecuted as an adult under Florida law. WIRED is withholding the 17-year-old’s name because he is a minor….

…According to the Florida State Attorney’s Office, the charges against the California teenager include making false reports concerning the planting of a bomb or the use of firearms, causing a law enforcement response. All charges are described as related to acts of terrorism and showing prejudice based on race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, or religion.

In private Telegram chats witnessed by WIRED over the past year, a person operating the Torswats handle claimed responsibility for hundreds of false reports of bomb threats and active shootings called into schools, politicians’ homes, courthouses, and religious institutions around the US….

…Other messages [private investigator] Dennis shared with WIRED suggest that the FBI has known the identity of Torswats, whose swatting activities were first revealed by Motherboard last April, since at least July 2023, when the agency executed a search warrant and seized Torswats’ devices. The FBI’s Seattle field office, which oversaw the investigation into Torswats, declined WIRED’s request to comment…

…It is unclear whether a single person operated under the Torswats name. On January 20, two days after Dennis, the private investigator, said that Torswats had been arrested, a person using the Torswats’ Telegram handle who had knowledge of previous conversations with WIRED reached out.

“I am pretty sure I’ll never be arrested,” the individual wrote in a direct message on Telegram. “Seems ridiculous that a few bucks a month can allow someone to do crazy shit and never go to jail.”

(4) LETTERS FROM THE PAST. Pulp Librarian reminds readers about a product that wildly expanded choices for desktop publishers. I remember it well. Thread starts here.

(5) HOW IT WORKS. Chris Rose invites users of his Glasgow 2024 Hugo nominating software behind the scenes in a post on Mastodon’s The Wandering Shop. I really do like its name: “Nomnom”.

(6) ANNIVERSARY OF BABYLON 5 LAUNCH. In “30 Years Ago, the Most Pivotal Sci-Fi Show of all Time was Almost Killed by a Rival Franchise” Inverse refreshes our memories about the way Babylon 5 and Deep Space 9 were developed.  

In the beginning, Babylon 5 was almost murdered by Star Trek. Back in 1987, the same year Star Trek: The Next Generation brought space-based sci-fi back to mainstream TV, writer J. Michael Straczynski took his pitch for a sci-fi “novel for television” to studios and networks.

Today, Straczynski is best known for co-writing the first Thor movie in 2011 and co-creating Sense8 with the Wachowskis. But in 1987, his big credits were writing for Masters of the Universe and being a story editor on The Real Ghostbusters. His pitch for Babylon 5 was a unique and radical departure.

… In the late ’80s and early ’90s, serialized TV didn’t really exist outside of soap operas. But on January 26, 1994, the first episode of Babylon 5 debuted and insisted on a new kind of viewing habit: fans had to catch nearly every episode to understand the story, which was set to last for five years….

… Ultimately, the two shows became very different, but the specter of Star Trek loomed over B5. There is also evidence that Paramount and Warner Bros were considering launching a joint network, which wouldn’t have had room for two space station sci-fi shows…. 

(7) GHOSTS AND DOLLS. The list of 2024 Family Film & TV Awards winners includes these genre works:

  • Outstanding Actors in a Feature Film: Margot Robbie (Barbie)
  • Best Iconic Family FilmGhostbusters
  • Best Ensemble Feature FilmBarbie
  • Best Animated Family FilmLeo

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

Many Hugo and Worldcon posts across multiple Chinese internet platforms are being removed

This is a developing item.

Whilst Chinese coverage of events following the release of the Hugo statistics report has been much spottier than in the west — I’m not aware of any coverage from mainstream media — there have been posts on public platforms such as Weibo, WeChat/Weixin and Zhihu (comparable to Quora/Stack Overflow).

Within the past day, several posts across these various platforms, and posted by various users have disappeared.  In some cases, the post is visible to the post’s author, but no other users.

For example, as of 01:15 UTC on Sunday 28th, if you went to the Baidu search engine and entered 雨果 别塔 (Hugo Awards / Babel) you would see as the first result a post on Zhihu with an English language cover of R. F. Kuang’s novel.  If you clicked on the link however, Zhihu would serve you an error page.  However, shortly afterwards, the Baidu result disappeared; this in itself isn’t suspicious, it’s probably due to the search engine realizing the page is no longer any good.

Error page when you click on that link

Google Search for 雨果 别塔 zhihu was still finding the deleted page in the results the last time I checked, but I imagine it will disappear from the results sooner or later.

Search results on Google for 雨果奖 把别塔 zhihu (Hugo Awards / Babel zhihu)

Luckily, I’d previously seen this particular post on Friday 26th, and thanks to some self-made browser extensions, I have a copy of the raw text/HTML.  Due to that webpage relying on JavaScript, it needed a bit of jiggery pokery to bring that saved content back into a semi-usable form, but you can see the original Chinese text, and the Google Translate rendition of part of it here.

Part of the original Chinese text
Part of the text put through Google Translate

As I expected, it was a summary of the controversies following the release of the Hugo nominations report.  I haven’t read it closely, but I’m pretty certain it’s just a recycling of information that had already been posted by other users on other platforms previously.  There’s nothing new to File 770 readers, but it’s the sort of thing that would serve as a useful explainer to people who had not been following the story.

(9) FOR THOSE KEEPING SCORE AT HOME, OR TRYING TO. Charles Stross’ “Worldcon in the news” at Antipope offers an extensive and well-informed discussion of how Worldcons and Hugos work which will be helpful to help those trying to catch up.

…The world science fiction convention coevolved with fan-run volunteer conventions in societies where there’s a general expectation of the rule of law and most people abide by social norms irrespective of enforcement. The WSFS constitution isn’t enforceable except insofar as normally fans see no reason not to abide by the rules. So it works okay in the USA, the UK, Canada, the Netherlands, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and all the other western-style democracies it’s been held in … but broke badly when a group of enthusiasts living in an authoritarian state won the bid then realized too late that by doing so they’d come to the attention of Very Important People who didn’t care about their society’s rulebook.

Immediate consequences:

For the first fifty or so worldcons, worldcon was exclusively a North American phenomenon except for occasional sorties to the UK. Then it began to open up as cheap air travel became a thing. In the 21st century about 50% of worldcons are held outside North America, and until 2016 there was an expectation that it would become truly international.

But the Chengdu fubar has created shockwaves. There’s no immediate way to fix this, any more than you’ll be able to fix Donald Trump declaring himself dictator-for-life on the Ides of March in 2025 if he gets back into the White House with a majority in the House and Senate. It needs a WSFS constitutional amendment at least (so pay attention to the motions and voting in Glasgow, and then next year, in Seattle) just to stop it happening again. And nobody has ever tried to retroactively invalidate the Hugo awards. While there’s a mechanism for running Hugo voting and handing out awards for a year in which there was no worldcon (the Retrospective Hugo awards—for example, the 1945 Hugo Awards were voted on in 2020—nobody considered the need to re-run the Hugos for a year in which the vote was rigged. So there’s no mechanism….

(10) HOW TO SAVE A FEW BUCKS IN THE TWILIGHT ZONE. SYFY Wire tells “The Weird Story of the Twilight Zone Episode That Won an Oscar”.

…So, how does an award-winning French short film make its way to American television as part of a beloved sci-fi program? Well, according to producer William Froug, it came down to budget concerns. At the time, CBS was pushing the show to save money as it worked to complete its Season 5 order, and that meant that producing a whole new episode to complete the order was going to make money extremely tight. In an effort to appease the network while still meeting the tone of the show, Froug suggested they license “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” which he’d already seen, and simply make it part of The Twilight Zone

“It was almost entirely silent,” Froug said in The Twilight Zone Companion. “There were maybe a half-dozen lines in it, and there was one brief ballad –– in English, of all things. CBS was very reluctant –– ‘A French film on television? Who ever heard of such a thing?’ –– but I convinced them, because we bought all the TV rights for $10,000. With that one airing, we immediately took care of the whole year’s overage. It brought us out at the end of the year under budget.”…

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 27, 1957 Frank Miller, 67. So this Scroll we have artist and writer Frank Miller, a fascinating writer indeed.

Although some Miller fan sites want to credit him with writing two stories for the Twilight Zone comic, there is no actual proof he did, so his first credited artistic endeavor was he as the artist on Wyatt Gwyon’s “Deliver Me From D-Day” which ran in Weird War Tales #64 in June 1978. Fascinating comic it was. 

He was that rare versatile artist who did everything so his first job for Marvel was penciling John Carter, Warlord of Mars, Part 3’s “The Master Assassin of Mars”. 

Frank Miller

Shortly afterwards, he was the artist for Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man where was Daredevil also present. This is important as Miller would eventually become the writer on Daredevil after successfully pursuing the job: “My secret is to do crime comics with a superhero in them. And so I lobbied for the title and got it.” I consider his work the highlight of this comic.

He’d return to the Daredevil story later and, like so many writers, either brilliantly do something new, or mangle it beyond recognition.

Now we have a brief but noteworthy stay at DC. That produced Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One.  The first, like oh many of the animated films that came out of it, was far better than any of live film which saw a screen. Needless to say both series were stellar in their own right.

Elektra Lives Again is one seriously weird story. Saying anything more is a Major Spoiler. And whatever you do, if you’ve not read it, don’t go anywhere near the Wikipedia article. I’m serious. Just don’t. 

I’m not even going to talk about Sin City as it’s either brilliant or — let me use German to describe it, die Scheiße.

Not at all going to talk about The Dark Knight IIIThe Master Race, as I’ve not read it. Opinions? 

His film work includes writing the less sterling RoboCop 2 and RoboCop 3 scripts, sharing directing duties with Robert Rodriguez on Sin City and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, producing 300 which is by far not my cup of anything, and directing The Spirit which got a 25% rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes, though having seen it I think that’s being kind.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) PIONEERING WOMAN SFF WRITER. “Winona McClintic – ‘Who?’” at A Deep Look by Dave Hook.

…In Atlantic November 1956, her non-genre story “A Heart of Furious Fancies” was published. The editors noted,

WINONA MCCLINTIC was a radioman second class in the United States Navy during World War II and the Korean War. She graduated from Mills College, contributed poems to the Atlantic, and was at work on her Ph.D. (under the G.I. Bill) when matrimony intervened. She married an engineer and while he, she says, “fiddles with things on airplanes,” she finds time to raise guinea pigs and write….

(14) GHOSTESS WITH THE MOSTESS. The New York Times is there when “Ghostwriters Emerge From the Shadows”.

So it was unusual for a group of around 140 ghostwriters to gather, as they did in Manhattan on Monday, to schmooze and celebrate their work with awards, panel discussions and keynote speeches. The one-day conference, called the Gathering of the Ghosts, took place at a moment when ghostwriting is in high demand and gaining recognition as an art form of its own, after years of operating largely in the shadows.

“There’s great value in building this community because of the nature of what we do,” said Daniel Paisner, who hosts a podcast about ghostwriting called “As Told To” and has collaborated on 17 New York Times best-sellers. “We do it in a vacuum, sitting alone in our underwear in our offices. We don’t get out much. So I think it’s helpful to be able to compare notes.”

Held at the New York Academy of Medicine, in a room lined with old, leather-bound medical books overlooking a snowy Central Park, the event included panels about finding the right publisher for a project, whether A.I. might render ghostwriters irrelevant and conversations about how much a ghostwriter can charge (the consensus: more). The profession has a history of being undervalued, and one panelist advised everyone in the audience to double their rates and add 20 percent.

“Is it good to be a ghostwriter?” Madeleine Morel, an agent who specializes in matchmaking book projects with ghostwriters, said at the event. “I’ll paraphrase Dickens: It’s the best of times and the worst of times. It’s the best of times because there’s never been so much work out there. It’s the worst of times because it’s become so competitive.”…

(15) ROBERTO THE BUILDER. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Is an animated film about building stuff that doesn’t fly between the stars or shoot lasers genre? Who knows. But we can hope that Jenny from the block will make it so. “Jennifer Lopez Producing Bob the Builder Movie Reboot Starring Anthony Ramos” at Comicbook.com.

Bob the Builder is getting a brand-new movie produced by Jennifer Lopez. Transformers series star Anthony Ramos will play the titular handyman. Mattel Films teamed with the international music superstar to build this project from the ground up. Bob the Builder‘s new movie will be animated with Ramos providing the voice for the character. As per a description for the project, Bob the Builder sees Roberto travel to Puerto Rico for a major construction job. As issues affect the island, Bob will have to dig deep to bring the project to life. Felipe Vargas has been attached as a writer. Ramos sounds absolutely elated about playing the popular character in the press release put out today.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Ingenuity has officially ended its mission after an incredible 72 flights on Mars” after being damaged on its last flight. The National Air and Space Museum pays tribute.

Ingenuity in flight.

This week, NASA announced that Mars helicopter Ingenuity‘s 72nd flight was the final flight of its mission. The helicopter sustained damage to one or more of its rotor blades during landing on January 18 and is no longer capable of flight.  

Ingenuity landed on the Red Planet with Mars rover Perseverance in February 2021 and achieved the first powered flight on another planet in April 2021.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/27/23 So Have You Looked Up And Seen How Pixels Twinkle Against The Midnight Sky? 

(1) UNFORSEEN INTERSECTION. Maya St. Clair draws a fascinating comparison between a current bestseller and Heinlein’s controversial classic in “Fourth Wing Review: Starship Troopers (for Girls!)”

…Criticisms of Starship Troopers’ themes, while hyperbolic, were not entirely off-base. In Heinlein’s world, the ideal military life is violent, abusive, and deindividualizing; death is and should be omnipresent at every stage of training. For example, there’s the basic training exercise in which

“… they dumped me down raw naked in a primitive area of the Canadian Rockies and I had to make my way forty miles through mountains. I made it [by killing rabbits and smearing fat and dirt on his body] … The others made it, too… all except two boys who died trying. Then we all went back into the mountains and spent thirteen days finding them…. We buried them with full honors to the strains of ‘This Land Is Ours’… They weren’t the first to die in training; they weren’t the last.”

Through the eyes of Johnnie, we experience an intensity of life that makes civilian existence seem anemic, even pathetic….

…With all that being said, it feels wrong to mention Fourth Wing in the same breath as Starship Troopers. Putting aside the fact that Fourth Wing is a poorly-written work whose prose has been critiqued to death by many people before me, the two books seem to represent opposing moments in publishing history. Heinlein, for all his faults, was writing “up” for an audience of teens, treating them as adults and including them in the sphere of “adult” science fiction, with complex worldbuilding and (relatively) sophisticated themes. Sixty years later, Fourth Wing and its team (author Rebecca Yarros and Entangled Publishing) represent a publishing world moving in the opposite direction: creating books for adults in an actively juvenile style, and cultivating an audience of adult readers who no longer demand that published books have good writing at all so long as they check necessary boxes of sensation and eroticism.

But thematically and content-wise, the two books are as close as one could possibly get. Fourth Wing, like Starship Troopers, sells a military coming-of-age story in which mass death is a part of the allure (“brutally addictive,” says the cover blurb). Someone on Reddit puts the death count of Fourth Wing at 222 cadets, plus an untold number of civilians — though it’s widely considered a “fluff” read. Its primary audience (and the primary audience of most mainstream fantasy now) is female, young, progressive, and would probably be aghast at being compared to grimdark bros, Heinlein apologists, or men in general. And yet here we all are, hooked on the same stuff….

(2) ICONIC LE GUIN COVER ART OFFERED. The estates of Carol Carr and her husband Robert Lichtman are in the news: “Original cover art for Le Guin sci-fi novel goes on sale” at Bay Area Reporter.

…First published in paperback by Ace Books, the novel sported cover art by award-winning artists and biracial couple Leo and Diane Dillon. Their painting featured profiles of the book’s protagonists in the left bottom corner looking off into the distance. Surrounding the pair is a blue and white celestial-like scene with what appears to be a brown planet and a spaceship hovering above.

(Leo Dillon, of Trinidadian descent, died in 2012. He was the first African American to win the prestigious Randolph Caldecott Medal for illustrators of children’s books, while the Dillons were the only consecutive winners of the award, having received the honor in 1976 and 1977.)

The Dillons’ original 17 and 1/4 by 13 inches acrylic painting is now being offered for sale for the first time at the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America global book fair taking place in San Francisco in early February. The asking price is $20,000.

“It is literally unique. This is it, the original and not a print,” said Mark Funke, a rare bookseller who lives in Mill Valley where his business is also located.

Scouting out shops in the East Bay several years ago looking for new material to sell, Funke had received a tip about the sale of various items from a home in the Oakland hills. It led him to receive an invite from the executor of the estate to come to the house.

To his amazement, Funke had stumbled onto the archives of three individuals involved in the world of science fiction writing. One was the late Terry Carr, an editor at Ace Books who published the works of Le Guin and other sci-fi authors and died in 1987. While most of Carr’s personal papers had gone to UC Riverside, Funke found several boxes still in the house and acquired them….

… Funke is now handling its sale on behalf of the Carr and Lichtman Estate. He will have it available on a first-come, first-served basis at his booth at the book fair.

“I am pricing it high for the artists but, I think, reasonable for it being Le Guin’s most famous novel. She won awards for it, and it ratcheted her up to the greats of science fiction,” said Funke. “It’s got very topical content; this idea of the planet Gethen and ambisexual individuals. I just think it is fascinating and a very active topic in today’s discussion.”

In a statement to the B.A.R. about the sale, the executor for the family estate said, “The Carr-Lichtman family has treasured this artwork for over 50 years and now it is time to find a new owner who will cherish this remarkable work of science fiction publishing history for the next 50 years.”…

(3) KORSHAK COLLECTION NEWS. The Korshak Collection announced on Facebook

We have partnered with the University of Delaware for an academic illustrated catalog of the Korshak Collection. We don’t want to give away all of our surprises, but the catalog will include a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman and entry by Pulitzer prize winner author Michael Dirda, as well as an interview with the Hugo Award winning artist Michael Whelan. We are so grateful for this partnership and all of the outstanding contributions that have made this project possible.

(4) MCU UK. James Bacon recommends David Thorpe’s account of his time as a creator for Marvel UK: “In Review: The Secret Origin of Earth 616 By David Thorpe” at Downthetubes.net.

… This is a fascinating book, and, for Captain Britain fans, a definite buy. For comic fans interested in Marvel UK, of great interest. Yet it is also an excellent autobiography, a very readable and personal exploration of a comic fans desires, aspirations and progression to be a writer and an insight into how Marvel UK was, and offers real honesty when it comes to a comics career that took an interesting turn that saw David Thorpe’s work in the industry elsewhere. The story is brimful, and includes how another comic related moment saw him turn to a very successful career beyond comics, one that arguably has made a real difference to the world….

… David Thorpe came up with the concept of Earth 616, and he describes it as a Stan Lee styled “Hoo Boy” moment when he heard Mysterio say “This is Earth dimension 616. I’m from Earth 833.” to Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Far From Home and that is something that any comic reader can appreciate, many of whom have imagined themselves as writers….

(5) IN FELLOWSHIP THERE IS STRENGTH. “Board Game Cafe Workers Went on a Quest for a Union and Won” reports the New York Times.

A golden glow illuminated the employees huddled inside a Hex & Co. cafe on the Upper East Side, a haven created for board game enthusiasts to gather for fantastical quests.

Meticulous campaigns were second nature to these workers — how many times had they infiltrated an obsidian castle or vanquished a warlock? They had been immersed in this particular adventure for months, navigating a labyrinth governed by strict rules and made harrowing by unfamiliar tasks and tests. Now they gathered to plot their final triumph: unionization.

On that Tuesday in September, Hex & Co. workers confronted their bosses with a demand for recognition. Less than two months later, they voted to join Workers United, the same group that has been organizing workers at Starbucks stores across the United States. The workers at the three Hex & Co. locations across New York City were just the first employees of a board game cafe in the city to unionize. Workers at the Uncommons and the Brooklyn Strategist followed this month.

All the stores fall under the ownership of either Jon Freeman, Greg May or both, and they pleaded with their employees not to unionize, saying that a union would wipe out the “flexible and open-door atmosphere we have tried to foster.”

Teaching board games is a far cry from swinging a miner’s pick or working numbing hours on an assembly line. In fact, many of the cafe workers said they hung out at their workplaces in their off hours. But in the end, complaints over dollar-an-hour raises and bands of unruly children reigned: Among the 94 employees who voted, only 17 dissented….

…Only 10 percent of American wage and salary workers were union members in 2022, a historical low, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The food-service sector’s membership rate was less than 4 percent. But this fiscal year saw the most representation filings since 2015, according to the National Labor Relations Board.

Young workers “are willing to take risks, because they feel like their future is at stake,” said Kate Bronfenbrenner, the director of labor education research at Cornell University.

After slogging through a recession and a pandemic, many found themselves earning minimum wage while corporate profits soared, she said….

(6) AI AS SEEN BY THREE SFF AUTHORS. The River Cities’ Reader tells fans how to access the “Virtual Event: ‘Speculating Our AI Future,’” with Cory Doctorow, Ken Liu, and Martha Wells on January 11.

Designed for those fascinated by, or terrified about, the rise of artificial intelligence is invited to a January 11 virtual event hosted by the Rock Island and Silvis Public Libraries, when Illinois Libraries Present’s Speculating Our AI Future finds bestselling science-fiction writers Cory Doctorow, Ken Liu, and Martha Wells in discussion on the promise, perils, and possible impacts that AI will have on our future, as well as AI as portrayed in contemporary and future science-fiction writing.

The Speculating Our AI Future panel discussion with Corry Doctorow, Ken Liu, and Martha Wells will begin on January 11 at 7 p.m., participation in the virtual event is free, and more information is available by calling (309)732-7323 and visiting RockIslandLibrary.org, and calling (309)755-3393 and visiting SilvisLibrary.org.

Cory Doctorow, Ken Liu, Martha Wells.

(7) GRAPHIC EXAMPLES. Sam Thielman hits the high notes in a review of “The Year in Graphic Novels” for the New York Times.

Good graphic novels tend to appear in bookstores seemingly out of nowhere after years of rumors, scattershot serialization, “process” zines and snippets posted to social media. As literature, long-form comics are uniquely resistant to editing. As visual art, the cartoonist is in the weird position of having no access to the final product until it’s presented to the public. So it’s frankly miraculous when we get as many good comics as we do. This year there were remarkable new books from established masters and freshman graphic novels from brilliant young artists. Better still, a gratifyingly thick stratum of our 2023 stack was devoted to making us laugh. It’s a rich conversation, and one that promises to continue into next year and long beyond.

From the moment you open it, Daniel Clowes’s MONICA (Fantagraphics, 108 pp., $30) announces its ambition. Against the weird hellscape of its front endpapers, the title spread depicts the world at its lifeless, churning, brightly colored beginning. Then all of time (so far) goes by in a whoosh on the next two pages — the dinosaurs, Jesus, Hitler, Little Richard, Sputnik — alongside the copyright boilerplate and the names of the editors and publicist. In Clowes’s smooth lines and precise hues, the rest of the book borrows styles from war, horror and romance comics to tell the story of an ordinary woman trying to give her life some meaning. Is such a thing even possible? Could the attempt destroy everything?…

(8) EVA HAUSER (1954-2023). Past fan fund winner (GUFF) Eva Hauser died December 23 at the age of 69. Here is an excerpt from Jan Vaněk Jr.’s tribute on Facebook:

I am sad to announce that the 1992 GUFF delegate died on Friday 22nd. Eva Hauser[ová] travelled from Prague, still-Czechoslovakia to Syncon ’92 in Sydney, and then to Melbourne and back.

If you were there (despite the small attendance, the trip report reads like the Who Is Who of a golden age of the Australian fandom, and a testimony to their hospitality. Even though so much, and many, have already been lost in time, like tears in rain…), you may remember; and then you will understand why Eva is so much-lamented and widely eulogised from many different communities she was a part of….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 27, 1951 Charles Band, 72. We have come tonight to honor a true film genius in Charles Band. He entered film production in the Seventies with Charles Band Productions. Dissatisfied with distributors’ handling of his movies, he formed his own company in the early Eighties. At its height, he would release an average of two films a month, one theatrically and one on home video. 

So what are you going to recognize out of his hundreds of films? 

Most of his films paid the cast next to nothing, were notoriously lax on safety measures according to State officials who fined him considerable amounts over the years and he paid screenwriters, well, guess. 

Trancers, also released as Future Cop, the first of a series, which I’ve seen and liked, had Tim Thomerson and Helen Hunt in the lead cast. Supposedly the detective here is homage to Bogart’s various detective roles.

As producer, he did Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn.  Richard Moll who is in the cast and he shaved his head for his role here. The Night Court producers liked the look for Moll, so he continued shaving his head for the show.

Now he also produced a lot of more frankly sleazy SF such as Slave Girls from Beyond InfinityGalactic Gigolo, and Space Sluts in the Slammer, and the post-apocalypse zombie films, Barbie & Kendra Save the Tiger King and Barbie & Kendra Storm Area 51

His autobiography has a title that’s every bit has as over the top as most of some of film titles are, Confessions of a Puppetmaster: A Hollywood Memoir of Ghouls, Guts, and Gonzo Filmmaking

One final note. His entire financial house of cards collapsed in the late Eighties and was seized by various banks who in turned sold the assets off to MGM, so you’re likely to see one of his films streaming just about anywhere these days. 

(10) STORIES YES AND NO. Rich Horton reaches back to 1970 to tell Black Gate readers about “No More Stories — The Capstone to Joanna Russ’s Alyx Sequence: ‘The Second Inquisition’”.

“No more stories.” So ends Joanna Russ’s great novelette “The Second Inquisition.” But in many ways the story is about stories — about how we use them to define ourselves, protect ourselves, understand ourselves. It’s also, in a curious way, about Joanna Russ’s stories, particularly those about Alyx, a woman rescued from drowning in classical times by the future Trans-Temporal Authority….

(11) CORE TELEVISION. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Now, I don’t agree with everything in this article (for one thing, Foundation is execrable.) But it is an interesting look at what Apple+ is doing in SFF and why so much of it works. “The Best Sci-Fi Shows of 2023 All of Have One Shocking Thing in Common” at Inverse.

For All Mankind isn’t the only sci-fi show pushing the limits of the genre on Tim Cook’s dime. The Apple CEO has been quietly funding some of the best science fiction TV in recent memory, ranging from the centuries-spanning Isaac Asimov adaptation Foundation to the mind-bending near-future of Severance to the globe-trotting Godzilla spinoff series Monarch: Legacy of Monsters — to name just a few.

And while it’s hard to say what exactly defines an Apple sci-fi show, Inverse spoke to several showrunners and producers who all agree the tech giant brings a unique, futurist perspective to the genre that — when combined with endless cash — helps explain why, all of a sudden, it seems like the best science fiction television is all coming from the same company that sold you your iPhone….

… One thing you can say about pretty much any show or movie on Apple TV+ is that it probably looks gorgeous. While many Netflix productions have a certain flatness to them that can make it feel like the streamer has been cutting corners, Apple is pouring a lot of money into the look (and star power) of its original series — it helps to have a trillion-dollar cash pile, even if Amazon and Disney are still outspending the MacBook maker….

(12) MARATHON FAN. SYFY Wire understandably wants us all to know “How to Watch SYFY’s Twilight Zone New Year’s Marathon 2023-2024”.

Just as you can count on our planet making a full rotation around the sun every 365 days or so, you can also rest assured that SYFY will use the key of imagination to unlock its annual New Year’s marathon of The Twilight Zone. The honored tradition of airing Rod Serling’s groundbreaking anthology series won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, the 2023-24 edition is super-sized, with the marathon spanning a total of three whole days — starting Saturday (December 30) and ending Tuesday (January 2).

Who needs to smooch someone at midnight when you’ve got Jason Foster (Robert Keith) teaching his wicked family members a lesson they’ll never forget in “The Masks”? Fittingly enough, the classic episode — which revolves around a collection of vain and greedy individuals ordered to wear hideous masks until the stroke of midnight — will air about 40 minutes before the ball drops. If someone offers you a grotesque party favor along with that glass of Champagne, you might want to turn it down….

(13) CHINA’S MIXED SIGNALS ON VIDEO GAME PLAYING. “Will China Ease Its New Video Game Controls? Investors Think So.” The New York Times says, “After a market rout, gaming companies like Tencent and Netease rally on signals that regulators might apply proposed curbs on users less harshly than feared.”

 …The events of the past several days underline the push-and-pull forces in Chinese policymaking. The country’s top leaders have acknowledged they need to stabilize the economy, which has been slow to recover from being virtually locked down during the Covid pandemic. But the government’s tight control of how companies do business continues to inject uncertainty into the markets.

China’s National Press and Publication Administration, which issues licenses to game publishers and oversees the industry, unveiled a proposal on Friday aimed at effectively reducing how much people spend playing games. The plan took the industry by surprise, and investors dumped tens of billions of dollars in company stock.

The regulator issued a statement on Saturday stressing that the draft rules aim to “promote the prosperity and healthy development of the industry,” and said it is “listening to more opinions comprehensively and improving regulations and provisions.”

Then on Monday, the agency announced that it had licensed about 100 new games, after licensing 40 others on Friday. And a semiofficial association affiliated with the agency said that the additional game approvals were “positive signals” that the agency supports the industry.

The new regulations would cap how much money users could spend within games on things like upgrading the features of characters or procuring virtual weapons or other things used by the characters. It would also ban rewards that companies use to entice players to return. The proposal did not specify a spending cap…..

… The industry is still reeling from earlier restrictions first imposed in 2019 aimed at what the government deemed was an online gaming addiction among minors, as well as a broader crackdown against tech companies. Regulators also stymied publishers by not issuing any new game licenses for an eight-month stretch that ended in April 2022….

(14) CHART YOUR COURSE. Archie’s Press offers interesting “Outer Space” prints.

Outer Space is so huge, there’s really no way to wrap your head around the entire thing. This makes it all make sense.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Dann.] A tale of old Japan.  A tale as old as time.  A beleaguered hero looking to avenge past wrongs.  Western forces looking to control a local government.  A beauty of a beast.

When the culture and government deny any usual path to survival, much less happiness, our hero seeks unusual opportunities instead.  Learning the secrets of steel.  Surreptitiously learning the secrets of the sword.  All of them.

Eventually, our hero sets out on a path of vengeance leaving rivers of blood along the way.  Companions are found, whether or not our hero desires their companionship.

Each character is well-developed with unique strengths, flaws, and motivations.  Even the villains have a compelling story to tell.

Blue Eye Samurai is not to be missed.  And The Critical Drinker knows why.  Go watch the “The Drinker Recommends… Blue Eye Samurai”.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/28/22 Goodnight, Barsoom

(1) YOU’RE INVITED TO THE PARTY. File 770’s 45th anniversary celebration begins soon after the turn of the year. The 45th birthday of the fanzine is on January 6, and the 15th anniversary of the blog is on January 15. Is there something you can contribute to the occasion? It doesn’t have to be about File 770 – a book review, a parody filksong, a guest opinion post, a piece about your favorite Korean TV show – anything in the realm of sff and fandom that you’re passionate about. Contact me at mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com.

(2) BIG TICKET ITEMS. AbeBooks’ list of ten “Most expensive sales in 2022” kicks off with the nonfiction volume I Quattro Libri dell Architettura by Andrea Palladio in first place with a $57,750 price tag. Genre works occupy the fifth and sixth position.

#5 — The Time Machine by H.G. Wells – $30,500

Published by Henry Holt, this is the 1895 first edition of The Time Machine with the author’s name misspelled as H.S. Wells on the title page. This copy is signed by Wells just below the names of the previous owners. The Time Machine was the author’s first novel and has become a cornerstone of science fiction with its time traveling theme.

#6 — The Tour of the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne – $30,000

Better known as Around the World in 80 Days, this is the first American printing of Verne’s story. The book was rebound in 1952 in green calf leather. It was owned by Mrs. Nellie W. Pillsbury. One of Nellie’s daughters, Nellie Ruth King, was the mother of the author Stephen King. The book was accompanied by a handwritten note from Verne, signed and dated October 1883, where he describes two upcoming titles. In addition, a handwritten note from American author Nellie Bly is tipped into the book. Inspired by Verne, Bly made her own trip around the globe and wrote a book called Around the World in Seventy-Two Days.

(3) NEW TEST RULE. Beginning January 5, the U.S. is instituting a new requirement for travelers from China: “US to require travelers from China to show negative Covid-19 test result before flight” reports CNN.

The United States will require all travelers from China to show a negative Covid-19 test result before flying to the country as Beijing’s rapid easing of Covid-19 restrictions leads to a surge in cases.

Passengers flying to the US from China will need to get a test no more than two days before flying, federal health officials said, and present proof of the negative test to their airline before boarding.

The tests can be either a PCR test or an antigen self-test administered through a telehealth service.

The requirement will apply both to passengers flying directly to the United States from China as well to passengers flying through popular third-country gateways, including Seoul, Toronto and Vancouver.

Passengers who test positive more than 10 days before their flight can provide documentation of their recovery in lieu of a negative test result.

The new rules take effect at 12:01 a.m. ET on January 5….

(4) FIRE RECOVERY FUNDRAISER. [Item by Steven H Silver.] Lisa Garrison, who has long been active in MarCon, has run Windycon’s children’s programming for several years, and chaired the 2020 NASFIC in Columbus/Online suffered a devastating house fire on December 23 and lost everything, including her pets (although Lisa and her children are okay.)  A GoFundMe has been set up: “Fire Recovery Fund Lisa Garrison & Family”. At this writing $28,594 of the $35,000 goal has been donated.

….They lost their house in a fire early this morning and have lost everything, including their beloved pets. I am heartbroken and doing all that I can to help ease the loss, but I know that many people far and wide love Lisa, Seamus, and Jade, and will also want to help. We would love if you chip in to help them get on their feet, and try to pick up the pieces after this horrific loss. God bless you and Merry Christmas!

We are so very thankful for the immense outpouring of support, but as the days pass the amount of items that were lost continues to grow, and the need is so very great. Lisa & the kids are overwhelmed with gratitude from their community, but I know that they will need as much help as we can all give them!

(5) MIKE CAREY Q&A. Moid over at Media Death Cult has an interview with Mike Carey.

Mike Carey (The Girl With All The Gifts, X-Men, Lucifer, Hellblazer) is an English comic, novel and screenplay writer who bloody loves the end of the world.

(6) MARK YOUR CALENDARS. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller of the Liaden Universe® chart the first half of 2023 for fans – what’s being published, and where you can meet them.

January 3, 2023 Chicks in Tank Tops publication date.  Edited by Jason Cordova, with brand new stories from Esther Friesner, Kevin Ikenberry, Jody Lynn Nye, Joelle Presby, Marisa Wolf, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, and?  More!  No, honestly, there’s a whole lot of good reading in this book, and you don’t want to miss out.  Available from your favorite bookstore.

January 5, 2023:  Rembrandt’s Station by Christie Meierz releases, a happy fact that will be celebrated by a Zoom launch party on January 7.  Steve and I will be there, and hope that you will, too.  Party details here

February 17-19, 2023:  Boskone 60.  GOHs: Nalo Hopkinson, Vito Ngai, Tui T. Sutherland, Dave Clement.  Steve Miller and Sharon Lee will be attending in person after a several year gap.  We cannot yet reveal our schedules, but we can say that we will be reading from Salvage Right, the 100th Lee and Miller collaboration; participating in a few panels, and hosting a kaffeeklatsch.  Hope to see you there.  Here’s your link to register

February 28, 2023:  The anniversary re-issue of the classic Liaden Regency, Scout’s Progress, with a new and exciting cover by Sam Kennedy, and! a new foreword by the authors, releases from All the Usual Suspects.

Looking a little further down the line — April 28-30, 2023:  Heliosphere 2023.  GOHs: Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, David M. Mattingly.  Registration is open and though it is a thought over four months away, we urge you to register now.  Heliosphere is a small con and depends on its pre-registrations.  Here’s your link.

And, going way, way out, now — July 4, 2023Salvage Right, the 25th novel set in the Liaden Universe® created by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller back in the last century, releases from all of your favorite bookstores.

(7) WHO KNEW? Flying Cars and Food Pills is Steve Carper’s Retrofuturism site. Among its many offerings is an article about an atomic bomb mystery story published during WWII that the FBI investigated – not the Cleve Cartmill story you already know about, but “The Last Secret” by Dana Chambers.

…If the government investigated Cartmill’s story, then why didn’t they spot The Last Secret? They did. The only difference is that the mystery world doesn’t have the obsessive fan grapevine that the f&sf world has and had.

The government’s virtually unknown actions are laid out in a wonderfully informative paper by Patrick S. Washburn presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (July 2-5, 1988): “The Office of Censorship’s Attempt to Control Press Coverage of the Atomic Bomb during World War II.”…

(8) GNOME PRESS. Steve Carper also has a site devoted to an early sff publisher: “Gnome Press: The Complete History and Bibliography”. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction.

Hard to believe today, but before World War II not a single mainstream publisher in America would publish a genre science fiction or fantasy novel. H. G. Wells had once been so fanatically popular that publishers would pirate his works if they couldn’t get them legitimately, but the coming of the pulp magazine era destroyed the reputation of the field. Science fiction was written by subliterates for subliterates, or so went the opinion of the literary world….

A few science fiction fans saw a niche. They pooled what seems today like pitifully small amounts of money and started small presses. There was Shasta and Prime Press and the New Collector’s Group and Fantasy Press and Hadley Publishing and the Buffalo Book Company and many more.

Perhaps the most ambitious, the most professional, the most forward thinking, the most successful – all attributes that the acolytes of the other presses will forever dispute – was brought into being as The Gnome Press, Inc. Martin L. Greenberg, who must always be carefully introduced as no relation to the anthologist Martin H. Greenberg, wanted to do more than resurrect older stories from their living death in browning pulp magazines – although he did much of that, very successfully; he wanted to make modern science fiction and fantasy part of the modern world of publishing….

And another excerpt from “The History of Gnome Press”:

… Greenberg had no experience in publishing, especially with regards to the printing the book and getting it out the door function, far more important for a small press in 1948 than any other aspect of the job. He turned to David A. Kyle, who essentially grew up in fandom, reading the pulps from his early teens, and turning into a letter hack, fanzine publisher, founder of fan groups, and all-around friend of everybody in New York fandom, somewhat like being a music junkie in 1967 San Francisco….

(9) DILLONS AND THE SPOKEN WORD. Artist and designer John Coulthart chronicles the album covers produced by a couple who were among sff’s most famous artists: “The Dillons at Caedmon”. The post includes many images.

There’s a lot you could write about illustrators Leo and Diane Dillon. They were very prolific for a start, creating many book covers and interior illustrations in a variety of styles and different media. They also maintained a long-running association with Harlan Ellison whose praise for the pair was never less than fulsome. Like Bob Pepper and other versatile illustrators, they created art for album covers as well as books, with regular commissions from Caedmon Records, a label that specialises in spoken-word recordings….

(10) MEMORY LANE.

[By Cat Eldridge.] Terry Pratchett statue

There is apparently to be a statue of Terry Pratchett. Or so it is thought. So the sculptor, Paul Kirby, announced on his site in 2016: “I am delighted that Salisbury City Council has given the thumbs up to the proposal of a bronze statue of Sir Terry Pratchett for the city.  Designs and plans can now progress to the next stage.  I am proud to be the chosen artist to create this piece and very much look forward to sculpting Terry. I hope the end result will be an unsentimental and a happy depiction of the author, which celebrates his achievements both literary and philanthropic and brings pride to the people of Salisbury.” 

Let me show you the proposed statue. The sketch below until recently (I’ll explain that in a minute) was all that existed of the idea. It was to be crowdfunded according to the sculptor and that really, really didn’t happen. But then hundred thousand dollar statues generally need government and foundation backing, don’t they? 

The campaign had received the enthusiastic support of Pratchett’s family, as well as his friend and fellow author Neil Gaiman. That however was six years ago as I noted above and until this year, not a word more we heard about it. Is it moving forward? Who knows? 

However the concept of a seven foot-and- a-half statue has turned into one solitary bronze bust that you can see below. According to the news stories, that’s all the sculptor has completed in six years as “he said getting the expression right was especially hard, trying to portray Pratchett as not unhappy, but not smiling too much.” Left absolutely unsaid was if funding had been raised to do the statue itself. My guess? If it had been raised, it’d been shouted from here to Discworld that it had. 

For now, it’s safe to say that no date has been announced for a statue going up, nor has any government body or foundation committed to funding, not even the Pratchett people themselves which is curious indeed.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 28, 1913 Charles MaxwellHe makes the Birthday List for being Virgil Earp in “Spectre of the Gun”, a Trek story that opinions are divided on.  He also appeared in My Favorite Martian’s “An Old Friend of the Family” as the character Jakobar. His longest running genre role was as the Radio Announcer on Gilligan’s Island for which he was largely uncredited until late in that series. Interestingly he had six appearances playing six different characters on Science Fiction Theatre. (Died 1993.)
  • Born December 28, 1922 Stan Lee. Summarizing his career is quite beyond my abilities. He created and popularized Marvel Comics in a way that company is thought to be the creation of Stan Lee in a way that DC isn’t thought if of having of having a single creator. He co-created the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk,  Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Scarlet Witch and Ant-Man, an impressive list by any measure. And it’s hardly the full list. I see he’s won Eisner and Kirby Awards but no sign of a Hugo. Is that correct? (Died 2018.)
  • Born December 28, 1932 Nichelle Nichols. Uhura on Trek. She reprised her character in Star Trek: The Motion PictureStar Trek II: The Wrath of KhanStar Trek III: The Search for SpockStar Trek IV: The Voyage HomeStar Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Other film SF roles included Ruana in Tarzan’s Deadly Silence with Ron Ely as Tarzan, High Priestess of Pangea in The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space, Oman in Surge of Power: The Stuff of Heroes and Mystic Woman in American Nightmares. Other series appearances have been as Lieutenant Uhura and additional voices in the animated Trek, archive footage of herself in the “Trials and Tribble-ations” DS9 episode and as Captain Nyota Uhura In Star Trek: Of Gods and Men which definitely isn’t canon. (Died 2022.)
  • Born December 28, 1934 Maggie Smith, 88. First genre role was as Theis in Clash of the Titans though she’s better known as Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter film franchise. She also played Linnet Oldknow in From Time to Time and voiced Miss Shepherd, I kid you not, in two animated Gnomes films.
  • Born December 28, 1942 Eleanor Arnason, 80. She won the Otherwise Award and the Mythopoeic Award for A Woman of the Iron People and also won the Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Short Fiction for “Dapple”.  She’s been a WisCon Guest of Honor. I wholeheartedly recommend her Mammoths of the Great Plains story collection, which like almost all of her fiction, is available at the usual digital suspects. 
  • Born December 28, 1945 George Zebrowski, 77. He won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel for Brute Forces. He’s married to Pamela Sargent with whom he has co-written a number of novels, including Trek novels. He was an editor of The Bulletin of the Science Fiction Writers of America.
  • Born December 28, 1970 Elaine Hendrix, 52. I found a Munsters film I didn’t know about (big fan I am, yes) and she’s Marilyn Munster in it: The Munsters’ Scary Little Christmas. She later was Gadget Model 2 (G2) in Inspector Gadget 2. (Anyone watch these?) And she’s Mary in the animated Kids vs Monsters. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro records a superhero’s visit to his tailor.

(13) EYE TO EYE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A new art exhibition in China juxtaposes works by H.R. Giger and Hajime Sorayama—two very different futuristic artists. It will be at UCAA Lab in Beijing through 19 February 19, 2023. “‘H.R. Giger X Sorayama: Approaching’ Is a Must-See Exhibition for Science Fiction Lovers” at Hypebeast.

H.R. Giger and Hajime Sorayama grew up on opposite ends of the earth and equally possessed a starkly different view on the promises of technology. Giger, whose monstrous machines would characteristically be tied to the Alien franchise, presented a haunting vision of the distant future. Whereas, Sorayama continues to create erotically-charged robots that oscillate between human and machine, reality and fantasy.

NANZUKA worked with COEXIST and UCCA Lab in Beijing to present an enthralling new exhibition juxtaposing the work of the two legendary artists. H.R. Giger X Sorayama: Approaching features 45 works by each figure from the 1960s to the present day. The show’s layout was inspired by an underground ant colony, where visitors will be pitted amongst a series of rooms — each presenting a duality of notions….

(14) TZ MARATHON. Get in the zone! SYFY Wire has everything you need to know: “SYFY’s 2022 New Year’s ‘Twilight Zone’ marathon is here”.

It’s that time of year again — time to cross over into The Twilight Zone … and stay there for a bit. A few days, actually. SYFY’s annual New Year’s marathon of The Twilight Zone episodes is returning, and the extravaganza stretches over four freaky calendar days, beginning on Saturday and running through Tuesday morning.

As a bonus this year, in addition to featuring episodes from the five-season Rod Serling-created anthology series that ran from 1959 to 1964, the marathon will also include episodes from the Jordan Peele-developed revival of The Twilight Zone that premiered in 2019 and came back for a second season in 2020…. 

(15) HAPPENING IN 2024. “Mickey’s Copyright Adventure: Early Disney Creation Will Soon Be Public Property”. The New York Times can’t wait to do news stories about the problems that will create.

There is nothing soft and cuddly about the way Disney protects the characters it brings to life.

This is a company that once forced a Florida day care center to remove an unauthorized Minnie Mouse mural. In 2006, Disney told a stonemason that carving Winnie the Pooh into a child’s gravestone would violate its copyright. The company pushed so hard for an extension of copyright protections in 1998 that the result was derisively nicknamed the Mickey Mouse Protection Act.

For the first time, however, one of Disney’s marquee characters — Mickey himself — is set to enter the public domain. “Steamboat Willie,” the 1928 short film that introduced Mickey to the world, will lose copyright protection in the United States and a few other countries at the end of next year, prompting fans, copyright experts and potential Mickey grabbers to wonder: How is the notoriously litigious Disney going to respond?

… The matter is more complicated than it appears, and those who try to capitalize on the expiring “Steamboat Willie” copyright could easily end up in a legal mousetrap. “The question is where Disney tries to draw the line on enforcement,” Mr. Moss said, “and if courts get involved to draw that line judicially.”…

(16) THE BY-NO-MEANS-OFFICIAL HISTORY. The Comics Journal’s Chris Mautner reviews “See You at San Diego: An Oral History of Comic-Con, Fandom, and the Triumph of Geek Culture”.

Having spent years, if not decades, as the top dog of comic conventions, and largely recognized by the hoi polloi as the de facto pop culture happening for well over a decade now, it’s surprising that a big book on the history of the San Diego Comic-Con hasn’t been published sooner. See You at San Diego, a whopping 480-page(!!) oral history of the show’s creation and growth, attempts to detail the origins of the convention and how it became the massive juggernaut it is today, with lots of anecdotes and remembrances from the people that helped shape it.

Unfortunately, while See You at San Diego does contain some engaging and occasionally delightful anecdotes, it’s also more than a bit of a mess, badly in need of an editor that could whittle its massive length down to a leaner and more succinct size, avoid the numerous repetitions, ask some tough questions about inclusion and the dominance of geek culture today, and perhaps even suggest some different page design choices than what’s offered in the final product….

(17) AND DON’T FORGET THIS BIRTHDAY. CNN is there when the “World’s oldest-ever tortoise turns 190”.

… Further proof of his age emerged when an old photograph taken between 1882 and 1886 was uncovered. In it, a fully grown Jonathan can be seen grazing in the garden of Plantation House, the residence of the Governor of St. Helena, where he has spent most of his life.

… Officials on the island are currently working on Jonathan’s birthday celebrations, which are planned for later this year. A series of commemorative stamps will be issued and anyone who visits him this year will receive a certificate featuring the first known picture of his footprint.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George takes us inside the conversation in “Avatar: The Way of Water Pitch Meeting”.

2009’s Avatar was the highest-grossing movie of all time. Naturally, that meant sequel-time, and FAST. Okay maybe not fast. Maybe not even slow-paced. Maybe THIRTEEN YEARS LATER James Cameron has brought us back to the world of Pandora, along with all the characters whose names we definitely remember. Avatar: The Way Of Water definitely raises some questions. Like why spend so much money bringing back Colonel Quarritch to life, the guy who famously failed the last time he attempted something similar to this mission? Why does Jake suddenly decide that it’s suddenly time to run away after literally heading into battle regularly? Where did all the ocean people go in the third act? How many decades until the next movie?

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

Pixel Scroll 5/27/22 I’ll File You, My Pretty, And Your Pixel Scroll Too

(1) NEED TO RELOAD. There will be no TitanCon in Belfast this year announced co-chair Samuel Poots.

We’re very sorry to have to announce that Titan Con is cancelled this year.

I don’t need to tell you that the past few years have been enormously challenging for everyone and many of us are still processing our experiences. While finances are good, the humans and human resources needed to make Titan Con viable have been impacted.

In recent weeks, a number of committee members, including my co-chair, have had to step away due to personal reasons. I’m sorry to lose them, and am extremely grateful for their hard work, but understand it’s the best decision.

After taking stock of the situation with the committee and advisers, it’s clear we do not have the resources for this year’s already smaller con, and unfortunately have to cancel it. This was a very difficult decision and one the committee wished could be avoided, but there was simply no alternative.

A fresh start is called for.

We need to cancel, regroup, and consider our way forward carefully.

We’ll be recruiting some people to help us look at delivering a Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror convention with the best elements of our legacy events, while considering how to become sustainable going forward.

All current members will receive a full refund.

Thank you for your support and patience, and we hope to see you in the future to celebrate the wonderful media we are all fans of.

(2) MALIK Q&A. The Horror Writers Association Blog continues its “Asian Heritage in Horror” theme in an “Interview with Usman T. Malik”.

What is one piece of advice you would give horror authors today?

Don’t worry about pandering to western stereotypes or the market. Write your own darkness. Spill your own fears onto the page and the audience will follow.

(3) ABOUT THE BROKEN TRUST. Jake and Ron chat with author Juliette Wade about her projected five-book series, The Broken Trust on The Wrath of the iOtians podcast. (Also available on Spotify.)

Juliette Wade is a novelist … and after listening to this interview, you’ll understand why it’s a hard-earned and well-deserved title for this masterclass worldbuilder.

Her background is impressive. She is fluent in French and Japanese, has degrees in linguistics and anthropology, and also boasts a Ph.D. in education.

Juliette started writing fiction in 1999, and her short stories have been featured in Analog, Clarkesworld, and Fantasy & Science Fiction magazines. But she is perhaps best known for her projected five-volume Broken Trust series, whose latest volume, Inheritors of Power, was published earlier this year by DAW. Juliette’s specialty is sociological science-fiction, of which Broken Trust is one of our finest contemporary examples. Each stratum of Broken Trust’s complex caste system has its own vocation, ideals, manners, and culture, and naturally, they come into a devastating conflict. There’s a lot to discuss, so let’s dive in!

(4) JO FLETCHER NEWS. Publishers Lunch reports, “Publisher Jo Fletcher will leave the Quercus sci-fi, fantasy and horror imprint she founded 11 years ago on September 30. She will continue to edit some of her long-standing authors for the line.”

(5) WARNING LABEL. “’Stranger Things 4′ Warning Card Added Following School Shooting” reports Variety.

Netflix is adding a warning card to the “Stranger Things 4” premiere in light of the shooting on Tuesday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which left 21 people dead — including 19 children and two teachers.

The warning card, which will show up for viewers in the U.S. when the episodes launch on Friday, reads: “We filmed this season of ‘Stranger Things’ a year ago. But given the recent tragic shooting at a school in Texas, viewers may find the opening scene of episode 1 distressing. We are deeply saddened by this unspeakable violence, and our hearts go out to every family mourning a loved one.”

This warning will appear before the prior season recap that auto-plays at the beginning of “Stranger Things 4” Episode 1 for viewers in the U.S. only. Additionally, Netflix has also edited the description for the premiere to include the note, “Warning: Contains graphic violence involving children,” and added “disturbing images” to the show rating advisories….

(6) LIFT OFF. The New Yorker’s Neima Jahromi analyzes Disney World’s Starcruiser experience in “LARPing Goes to Disney World”.

In February, when it was cold and wet in New York, I rode a jitney under blue skies from the Orlando airport into Disney World. Before reaching the Magic Kingdom, the bus passed a range of gray crags perched on scaffolding—a sliver of Black Spire Outpost, which, in the “Star Wars” universe, is a settlement on a planet called Batuu. Nearby, the Millennium Falcon rested below a control tower built into the rock; Stormtrooper helmets were for sale at a sun-bleached military-surplus garage. Black Spire is also the destination of the Galactic Starcruiser, a spaceship that carries hundreds of interstellar tourists to and from the outpost, on what Disney calls an “immersive adventure.” The Starcruiser begins its journey floating in space, light-years from Batuu and Black Spire. In reality, the spacecraft is a massive brutalist building that sits beside a highway….

In one of the games —

In Calculations, written by Caro Murphy, a veteran larper with a side-swept cyberpunk haircut, Sinking Ship customers play a spaceship pilot delivering medicine to Mars, where colonists have been dying from an illness that causes “shortness of breath.” Murphy adapted the game from a nineteen-fifties sci-fi story by Tom Godwin.

(7) DIAL ‘M’ FOR MILKY WAY. No, E.T. should not be allowed to phone home. Vice looks at a scientific paper: “There Are 4 ‘Malicious Extraterrestrial Civilizations’ in Milky Way, Researcher Estimates”. The author, PhD student Alberto Caballero of Spain’s University of Vigo, readily admits he had to make a number of assumptions. Thus, it’s hard to put error boundaries on his conclusions. 

Stephen Hawking famously said sending messages from Earth into deep space could get human civilization destroyed: “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”

Hawking’s words have often been used to discourage the practice of METI, which is Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence. But how many “malicious” alien civilizations are there? And what are the chances any message we sent into our own galaxy would be received by an evil alien civilization? There is precious little research on this topic, and very few scientists have even posited a guess.

new thought experiment attempts to at least venture a guess in hopes that other scientists will begin to take METI more seriously, and will try to determine how dangerous it actually is to try to contact alien civilizations.

According to this paper, which the author admits has “some limitations,” there are roughly four “malicious extraterrestrial civilizations” in the Milky Way, and we could likely send out 18,000 interstellar messages to different exoplanets in our galaxy and the probability of ensuring our own destruction would still be about the same as Earth being hit by a “global catastrophe asteroid.” 

(8) TWO SF ARTISTS REMEMBERED. “A Vision In Many Voices: The Art of Leo and Diane Dillon” at Unquiet Things.

It must have been fate. Born eleven days apart on opposite coasts, Leo and Diane met, competed artistically, and eventually fell in love while attending Parsons School of Design, each aspiring to a life of art. After their marriage in 1957, the artists initially pursued separate careers in illustration before recognizing their strengths were collaborative in nature. In an effort to work in a particular style that they both could master, they symbiotically and seamlessly melded their personalities and styles, employing pastels, colored pencil, watercolor, acrylic, stencils, typography, woodcut, pochoir, found-object assemblage, collage, and sculpture into an entity/partnership that they came to refer to as “the artist.”

Noted Leo on the gorgeously striking complexity of their distinctive decorative realism and unconventional techniques: “People often comment on the ‘Dillon style.’ I think that someplace, the two of us made a pact with each other. We both decided that we would give up the essence of ourselves, that part that made the art each of us did our own. And I think that in doing that we opened the door to everything.”…

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1998 [By Cat Eldridge.] Warning: there are lots of SPOILERS here. Go away now if you’ve not watched Babylon 5. Really I do mean it! 

Twenty-four years ago in the last season of Babylon 5, the “Meditations on the Abyss” episode aired. It has three story lines: a mission to the edge of Centauri space, Lennier both teaches and learns; John Sheridan struggles to keep the Interstellar Alliance together; a Drazi agents plant a bug in Londo Mollari’s quarters and faces the wrath of Vir Cotto which happens after Londo Mollari tells Vir Cotto he will have to be more careful if he wishes to be worthy of his new job as Centauri Ambassador to Babylon 5. 

Vir fascinates me. This episode, like so many involving him, upends the apparent light hearted nature of the character and show him to be something much more complex, more dangerous but good for the Empire in fact than Londo is as Londo has no sense of community and Vir does. Vir cares about the Centauri people in a way Londo doesn’t.

“I’d like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike, as a warning to the next ten generations that some favors come with too high a price. I want to look up into your lifeless eyes and wave like this.” – Vir telling Mr Morden what he wants.

And he gets to do just that. Wasn’t that absolutely thrilling to see Vir looking up at the head of Mr Morden on a stake in the capital city of a devastated Centauri Prime and waving at it? 

And he will become the Emperor of an Empire almost completely shattered after Londo is strangled by the blind G’Kar.  It not known how the Empire fares under him but it has to be better than it did under under previous Emperors. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 27, 1894 Dashiell Hammett. Yes, I know he’s written some genre fiction but I’m interested this time in his mysteries. He wrote The Maltese Falcon which was turned into the film you remember and another film a decade earlier. And of course there are Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man series that got turned in a six film series. Now my favorite character by him is the Continental Op in Red Harvest and The Dain Curse. And let’s not forget the Secret Agent X-9 comic strip which I think is genre, which artist Alex Raymond of Flash Gordon fame illustrated. (Died 1961.)
  • Born May 27, 1911 Vincent Price. Ok, what’s popping into my head is him on The Muppets in “House of Horrors” sketch they did in which he and Kermit sport impressive fangs. If I had to single out his best work, it’d be in such films as House on Haunted HillHouse of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum. Yes, I know the latter two are Roger Corman productions.  He also did a lot of series work including being Egghead on Batman, appearing in the Fifties Science Fiction Theater, having a recurring role as Jason Winters on the Time Express and so forth. (Died 1993.)
  • Born May 27, 1922 Christopher Lee. He first became famous for his role as Count Dracula in a series of Hammer Horror films.  His other film roles include The Creature in The Curse of Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace, Kharis the Mummy in The Mummy, Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun, Lord Summerisle In The Wicker Man, Saruman in The Lord of the Rings films and The Hobbit film trilogy, and Count Dooku in the second and third films of the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Now interestingly enough, ISFDB lists him as being the co-editor in the Seventies with Michael Parry with a number of horror anthologies such as Christopher Lee’s ‘X’ Certificate No. 1From the Archives of Evil and The Great Villains. (Died 2015.)
  • Born May 27, 1929 Burnett Toskey, 93. A Seattle fan who was a member of the Nameless Ones and served them in various offices from the early Fifties to the mid Sixties. He was also the official editor of Spectator Amateur Press Society. His work on Cry of the Nameless won the Best Fanzine Hugo at Pitcon, a honor he shared with  F. M. Busby, Elinor Busby and Wally Weber. 
  • Born May 27, 1934 Harlan Ellison. Setting aside the “The City on the Edge of Forever” episode”, I think I best remember him for the two Dangerous Vision anthologies which were amazing reading.  His awards are far, far too numerous to recount here so I’ll need to do an essay on them. His Hugos alone are legion and that’s hardly all of the awards that he was honored with.  (Died 2018.)
  • Born May 27, 1935 Lee Meriwether, 87. Catwoman on Batman. (And if you have to ask which Batman, you’re in the wrong conversation.) Also she had a turn as a rather sexy Lily Munster on The Munsters Today. And of course she had a co-starring role as Dr. Ann MacGregor on The Time Tunnel as well. And yes, I know I’m not touching upon her many other genre roles including her Trek appearance as I know you will. 
  • Born May 27, 1951 Stepan Chapman. He wrote but one novel, The Trioka, a most excellent steampunk affair that won that the Philip K. Dick Award. He’s written a lot of short fiction, some of it collected in Danger Music and DossierThe Trioka is available for a reasonable price at the usual suspects. (Died 2014.)
  • Born May 27, 1967 Eddie McClintock, 55. Best known no doubt as Secret Service agent Pete Lattimer on Warehouse 13, a series I loved. He’s also in Warehouse 13: Of Monsters and Men which is listed separately and has the plot of ‘the Warehouse 13 operatives uncover a mysterious comic book artifact and must work together to free themselves from its power.’ He’s had one-off appearances in Witches of East EndAgents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Supergirl, but no other major genre roles to date.  

(11) HORSING AROUND WITH SHATNER. Tomorrow, May 28, the Hollywood Charity Horse Show is offering “An Evening with William Shatner”. One ticket is $400. Or buy a table for 10 and only pay – eh, $4,000.

6:00pm – 7:00pm Dinner.  During Dinner, Mr. Shatner will go around to each table and take a group shot  (Due to Covid restrictions individual photos are not possible.)

7:00pm – 8:00pm Mr. Shatner will  tell stories and answer your questions

(12) SCENES OF HORROR. Cora Buhlert has a new article up at Galactic Journey about a forgotten tragedy: “[May 26, 1967] Flames over Brussels: The À l’Innovation Department Store Fire”.

…The last time I was in Brussel in April, I stopped at the Standaard Boekhandel book shop directly across the street from À l’Innovation to pick up the latest comics. The venerable weekly comics magazine Tintin has launched a slew of new strips to keep up with the competition of Spirou and particularly the French comics magazine Pilote….

(13) BOOK REVIEW. Cora Buhlert also appears in The Dark Man: Journal of Robert E. Howard and Pulp Studies (12.2) with a review of The Weird Tales Story: Enhanced and Expanded by Robert Weinberg et al. The publication is a peer-reviewed scholarly journal devoted to the academic study of Howard’s literary works as well as the literary historical and print culture contexts associated with it. 

(14) DOZOIS AND ADLER TRANSCRIPT. The Eaton Collection shares a bit of history.

(15) AT THE HELM. Gizmodo asks the show creator about those odious comparisons: “Seth MacFarlane Interview: The Orville Versus Star Trek”.

…“I think it’s safe to say that we’re still occupying our own space this year,” MacFarlane told io9 over video chat at a recent Orville press event. “Certainly, the more that’s out there, you do start to become a little concerned that, you know, is it oversaturation? Is there a pocket where our show and only our show exists? And I think that is still very much the case.”

Not wanting to spoil what’s in store, MacFarlane didn’t get too into detail about what specifically sets The Orville apart from Star Trek this season. In more general terms, “It’s this genre that emerged in the 1930s of a ship in space, captained and crewed very much the same way that a sailing ship was,” he said. “It’s something that dates back a lot of decades. Star Trek was really the first to take it and turn it into something that really mattered and was a serious form of storytelling. You know, for us… sci-fi right now is very dark. It’s very dystopian. It’s very grim in a lot of ways. It’s very cautionary. And the optimistic, uplifting part of that genre is something we haven’t really seen in a while. So there was a pretty obvious open pocket for us to kind of slip into when we started. How we fit in now is—it’s really up to the audience, I think—what we’re bringing to the table in tone, in structure, in scope is in a class of its own. But that remains [to be seen], because the verdict [on season three] has not come in yet.”…

(16) GIVE A DOG A BAD NAME. James Davis Nicoll is happy to help.

(17) WE ARE NASA. People sent me links to this 3-year-old NASA video which has been the subject of several posts this week. Take a look.

We’ve taken giant leaps and left our mark in the heavens. Now we’re building the next chapter, returning to the Moon to stay, and preparing to go beyond. We are NASA – and after 60 years, we’re just getting started. Special thanks to Mike Rowe for the voiceover work.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers:  Evil Dead:  The Game,” Fandom Games says this move tie-in “fulfills a need you never knew you had: fighting with four Bruce Campbells.” The narrator suggests that someone convince Lucy Lawless to appear in a game with her Xena armor, “a move that would cause a majority of gamers to regress into puberty.”

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Andrew (not Werdna), Cora Buhlert, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

Pixel Scroll 6/2/20 The Pixel-Hinged File

(1) WOULD YOU BUY IT FOR A QUARTER? “Royal Mint launches first-ever augmented reality dinosaur coins”.

Royal Mint have released some very special dino coins.

Not only do they have amazing pictures of dinosaurs on them but they also are the first-ever to use augmented reality (AR).

Royal Mint, which makes most of the the UK’s coins, used the latest colour printing techniques to vividly show the megalosaurus, iguanodon and hylaeosaurus on the coins.

It worked closely with experts at the Natural History Museum to try to bring the prehistoric creatures to life.

The coins feature the dinosaurs and show where and when the first fossil was discovered.

After receiving the coin, collectors can use AR to scan the packaging to unearth facts, clips and images about the prehistoric beasts.

(2) FUTURE TENSE. The May 2020 entry in the Center for Science and the Imagination’s Future Tense Fiction series is “Scar Tissue” by Tobias S. Buckell.

The evening before you sign and take delivery of your son, you call Charlie and tell him you think you’ve made a huge mistake.

“Let me come on over and split a few with you,” he says. “I haven’t seen the fire pit yet.”

It was published along with a response essay, “When the Robot You Consider Family Tries to Sell You Something” by John Frank Weaver, an attorney who works on AI law, and author of the book Robots Are People Too

… That’s the part that worries me, as artificial intelligence applications may be able to leverage the data to manipulate Cory and other people—just as technology, PR, and marketing companies try to do in our lives today.

(3) A BRAND NEW ENDING. OH BOY. “Missing The Jackpot: William Gibson’s Slow-Cooked Apocalypse” – Robert Barry interviews the author for The Quietus.

“There’s never been a culture that had a mythos of apocalypse in which the apocalypse was a multi-causal, longterm event.” William Gibson speaks in the whisper-soft drawl of a man who for a long time now has never had to speak up in order to be heard. Though a certain edge had crept into our conversation by this point, watching him stretch out on the leather chaise longue of this hotel library (“my second home,” he calls it, as we make our way up from the lobby), it struck me that few people are able to seem at once so apprehensive and yet so intensely relaxed about the prospect of the end of the world as we know it.

“But if we are in fact facing an apocalypse,” he continues, getting now into the swing of this particular riff, “that’s the sort we’re facing. And I think that that may be what makes it so difficult for us to get our heads around what’s happening to us.”

(4) X MAGNIFICATION. In his column for CrimeReads, “Chris Claremont And The Making of an X-Men Icon”, Alex Segura interviews Claremont on his creation of Jean Grey, the Dark Phoenix, and her role in the X-Men saga.

…Though Claremont accepts the thesis that Dark Phoenix is, in many ways, in tune with the femme fatale trope, he’s not sure it’s totally apt.

“I’m not sure I would consider her a femme fatale. That actually is more Mystique’s side of the ledger,” Claremont said, referring to the blue-skinned, shape-changing mutant villain he’d introduce a bit later in his run. But the writer cannot deny the influence he and initial X-Men series artist Dave Cockrum had in reshaping Jean Grey—moving her from soft-spoken B-list heroine to full-on goddess.

“The fun with Jean for example was that when I first took over X-Men, Jean was a relatively two-and-a-half-dimensional character,” Claremont said. “What you had there was essentially unchanged from what [X-Men co-creator] Stan Lee had introduced years before. And we wanted to, I think, rough things up a tad but in the process, explore her more.”

(5) SAY CHEESE. In the Washington Post, Lela Nargi reports on the U.S. Geological Survey’s Unified Geologic Map Of The Moon, in which the survey combined maps made during the Apollo missions with subsequent satellite photo missions to create “the definitive blueprint of the moon’s surface geology.” “A new map shows the moon as it’s never been seen”.

…The USGS, which released the map in April, makes a lot of maps of Earth. It is also the “only institution in the world that creates standardized maps for surfaces that are not on Earth,” says USGS research geologist James Skinner. That includes Mars and other planets and moons in our solar system.

The new moon map took more than 50 years to make. It started with six original maps collected from the Apollo missions to the moon in the 1960s and ’70s. The maps did a good job of showing the basic layout of the moon.

New technology has made it possible to create an updated map and “turn it into information scientists can use,” says Skinner.

(6) I WAS BORN UNDER A WANDERING STAR. James Davis Nicoll introduces us to lots of characters who can make that claim in “Planets on the Move: SF Stories Featuring World-Ships” at Tor.com.

Recently, we discussed science fiction stories about naturally occurring rogue worlds; there is, of course, another sort of wandering planet. That would be the deliberately-impelled variety, featured in stories in which ambitious travellers take an entire world along with them. This approach has many obvious advantages, not the least of which is that it greatly simplifies pre-flight packing….

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • June 2, 1950 Rocketship X-M premiered. The film was produced and directed by Kurt Neumann. The screenplay was by Orville H. Hampton, Kurt Neumann and Dalton Trumbo (of Johnny Got His Gun fame). It starred Lloyd Bridges, Osa Massen, John Emery, Noah Beery, Jr., Hugh O’Brian, and Morris Ankrum. It was shot on a budget of ninety-four thousand dollars. It was nominated for the 1951 Retro Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation at the Millennium Philcon when Destination Moon won that Award. Fandom holds it in higher esteem than audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes do who give it a 16% rating! Oh, and it was the first SF film to use a theremin in the soundtrack. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born June 2, 1857 – Karl Gjellerup.  In The Pilgrim Kamanita, the Pilgrimmeets a strange monk who he does not know is Gautama Buddha.  In The World-Roamers, characters re-experience happenings of former eons.  In The Holiest Animal, the snake that killed Cleopatra, Odysseus’ dog, Jesus’ donkey, and others, meeting after death, choose as the holiest animal the Buddha’s horse – but he has vanished without a trace, to Nirvana.  Nobel Prize in Literature.  Translated into Dutch, English, German, Polish, Swedish, Thai.  (Died 1919) [JH]
  • Born June 2, 1899 – Lotte Reiniger.  Pioneer of silhouette animation.  Animated intertitles and wooden rats for Paul Wegener’s Pied Piper of Hamelin (1918); a falcon for Fritz Lang’s Nibelungen (Part 1 – Siegfried, 1924).  Her own Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) is the oldest known surviving feature-length animated film.  Doctor Dolittle and His Animals, 1928.  Her early version of a mutiplane camera preceded Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks by a decade.  Great Cross of the Order of Merit of the Fed’l Republic of Germany, 1979.  (Died 1981) [JH]
  • Born June 2, 1915 – Lester del Rey.  Fan, pro, short-order cook.  Used many names, not least of which was Ramon Felipe San Juan Mario Silvio Enrico Smith Heathcourt-Brace Sierra y Alvarez-del-Rey de los Verdes.  Two dozen novels alone and with others; a hundred shorter stories (see the 2-vol. Selected Short Stories); half a dozen non-fiction books; Skylark Award, SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) Grand Master; translated into Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish; reviews for Analog, features editor for Galaxy; SF editor for Ballantine; with Judy-Lynn del Rey and after her death, Del Rey Books.  (Died 1993) [JH]
  • Born June 2, 1920 Robert A. Madle, 100. File 770 celebrates Bob’s big day in a separate post about his fannish career. And fanhistory website Fanac.org dedicated its splash page to a collection of pointers to the audio and video they have of Bob, such as a recording of his 1977 Worldcon Guest of Honor speech, as well as links to the fanzines he edited in the 1930s. (OGH)
  • Born June 2, 1921 Virginia Kidd. Literary agent, writer and editor, who worked mostly in SF and related fields. She represented R.A. Lafferty, Ursula K. Le Guin, Anne McCaffrey, Judith Merril, and Gene Wolfe. She was married to James Blish, and she published a handful of genre short fiction.  Wolfe modeled Ann Schindler, a character in Castleview, in large part on Kidd. (Died 2003.) (CE)
  • Born June 2, 1929 Norton Juster, 91. Author of The Phantom Tollbooth, he met Jules Feiffer who illustrates when he was taking his trash out. There is of course the superb film that followed. And let’s not forget The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics, a work well worth an evening spent reading. (CE)
  • Born June 2, 1937 Sally Kellerman, 83. She makes the list for being Dr. Elizabeth Dehner in the superb episode of Trek “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. She also had one-offs on the Alfred Hitchcock HourThe Twilight ZoneThe Outer LimitsThe Invaders, and The Ray Bradbury Theater. She played Natasha Fatale in Boris and Natasha: The Movie. (CE)
  • Born June 2, 1948 – Leigh Edmonds.  Founder of ANZAPA (Australia – New Zealand Amateur Press Ass’n).  Melbourne SF Club Achievement Award.  First DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegate, published Emu Tracks Over America.  First A-NZ Administrator of GUFF (Get-Up-and-over Fan Fund, or Going Under Fan Fund, in alternate years).  Helped organize 10th Australian natcon (i.e. national convention); Fan Guest of Honour (with Valma Brown) at 30th.  Two Ditmars for Best Fanzine, three for Best Fanwriter.  [JH] 
  • Born June 2, 1959 – Lloyd Penney.  Thirty years on Ad Astra con committees (Toronto); Chair 1993 & 1994. “Royal Canadian Mounted Starfleet” (with Yvonne Penney & others – and song) in Chicon IV Masquerade (40th Worldcon).  Also with Yvonne, Chairs of SMOFcon VI (Secret Masters Of Fandom, as Bruce Pelz said “a joke-nonjoke-joke”; con-runners’ con); CUFF (Canadian Unity Fan Fund) delegates, published Penneys Up the River; Fan Guests of Honor, Loscon XXXIV.  Prolific loccer (loc or LoC = letter of comment, the blood of fanzines); 5 FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Awards.  [JH]
  • Born June 2, 1963 – Katsuya Kondô.  Manga artist, character designer, animator, animation director.  His character designs are considered the epitome of the Studio Ghibli style.  Known for Kiki’s Delivery ServiceOcean Waves (both Ghibli); Jade Cocoon (PlayStation game); D’arc (2-vol. manga about Joan of Arc; with Ken’ichi Sakemi).  Recently, character design for Ronya, the Robber’s Daughter (Ghibli, 2014).  [JH]
  •  Born June 2, 1972 Wentworth Miller, 48. I’m including him here today as he plays Captain Cold on the Legends of Tomorrow which might one of the best SF series currently being aired. His first genre role was on Buffy and other than a stint on the Dinotopia miniseries, this role is his entire genre undertaking along with being on Flash. (CE) 
  • Born June 2, 1973 – Carlos Acosta.  Cuban director of Birmingham Royal Ballet; before that, 17 years at The Royal Ballet, many other companies.  Prix Benois de la Danse.  Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to ballet.   Besides dancing in many fantasies (Afternoon of a FaunApolloThe NutcrackerSwan Lake) – and finding time for a wife and three children – he’s written a magic-realism novel, Pig’s Foot.  Memoir, No Way Home.  [JH]

(9) A POEM FOR THE DAY. By John Hertz:

May didn’t do it.
A month whose name’s almost young
Dealt him out to us.
Lively-minded, he connects
Energizing give and take.

 __________

An acrostic (read down the first letters) in 5-7-5-7-7-syllable lines.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Speed Bump has a joke about dragon housekeeping.
  • Cul de Sac tries to imagine what makes up the universe.
  • Frazz tells us how to recognize “literature” when we read it. 

(11) CLASSIC SFF ART. The host of Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations creatd a thread about the careers of artists Leo and Diane Dillon. It starts here.

(12) IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA. Lois McMaster Bujold has posted about her experiences at the online SFWA Nebula Conference, including the text of her Grandmaster award acceptance remarks which end —

… And, throughout it all, I have been endlessly supported by my agent, Eleanor Wood of Spectrum Literary Agency. We first met face-to-face at the Nebula weekend in New York City in 1989. The morning after _Falling Free_ won my first Nebula Award, we shook hands over a hotel breakfast in a deal I trust neither of us has had cause to regret. Though I don’t think either of us realized how long it would last, three decades and counting.

(13) HARE GROWTH. A new collection of shorts on HBO Max, Looney Tunes Cartoons, captures the look and feel of the originals. The New York Times article may be paywalled; here are the key points and cartoon link.

In “Dynamite Dance,” Elmer Fudd comes at Bugs Bunny with a scythe, prompting the hare to jam a stick of lit dynamite in Elmer’s mouth.

Over the course of the short animated video, the explosives get bigger and more plentiful, as Bugs jams dynamite in Elmer’s ears, atop his bald head, and down his pants. The relentless assault moves from rowboat to unicycle to biplane, each blast timed to the spirited melody of Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours.”

The short has the look, feel and unabashed mayhem of a classic “Looney Tunes” cartoon, circa the early 1940s. But “Dynamite Dance” is of much more recent vintage, one of scores of episodes created by a new crop of WarnerBros. animators over the past two years.

…“I always thought, ‘What if Warner Bros. had never stopped making “Looney Tunes” cartoons?’” said Peter Browngardt, the series executive producer and showrunner. “As much as we possibly could, we treated the production in that way.”

…The creators of the new series hope to do justice to the directors, animators and voice artists of the so-called Termite Terrace, a pest-ridden animation facility on Sunset Boulevard where many of the franchise’s most beloved characters were born.

“There was something about the energy of those early cartoons,” Browngardt said. “And those five directors: Frank Tashlin, Bob Clampett, Tex Avery before he left for MGM, Chuck Jones, and Friz Freleng. They literally invented a language of cinema.”

(14) EMPLOYEES ABOUT FACE AT FACEBOOK. NPR reports “Facebook Employees Revolt Over Zuckerberg’s Hands-Off Approach To Trump”.

Facebook is facing an unusually public backlash from its employees over the company’s handling of President Trump’s inflammatory posts about protests in the police killing of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis.

At least a dozen employees, some in senior positions, have openly condemned Facebook’s lack of action on the president’s posts and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s defense of that decision. Some employees staged a virtual walkout Monday.

“Mark is wrong, and I will endeavor in the loudest possible way to change his mind,” tweeted Ryan Freitas, director of product design for Facebook’s news feed.

“I work at Facebook and I am not proud of how we’re showing up,” tweeted Jason Toff, director of product management. “The majority of coworkers I’ve spoken to feel the same way. We are making our voice heard.”

(15) GOING DOWN. NPR presents excerpts of the resetting of Orpheus and Eurydice (and Tony winner for Best Musical of 2019): “Hadestown: Tiny Desk Concert” — long audio/video.

You can probably guess that we recorded the original Broadway cast of Hadestown before the coronavirus pandemic made live theater (live anything) an untenable risk. The reminders are everywhere — in the way 16 performers bunch up behind the desk, singing formidably in close proximity as a large crowd gathers just off camera — that this took place in the Before-Times. To be specific, on March 2.

We’d actually been trying to put this show together since the spring of 2019, when Hadestown was a freshly Tony-nominated hit musical. We hit several delays along the way due to scheduling issues, only to end up rushing in an attempt to record while playwright Anaïs Mitchell — who wrote both the musical and the 2010 folk opera on which it’s based — was eight months pregnant.

Thankfully, we captured something truly glorious — a five-song distillation of a robust and impeccably staged Broadway production. A raucous full-cast tone-setter, “Way Down Hadestown” lets Hermes (André De Shields, in a role that won him a Tony) and Persephone (Kimberly Marable, filling in for Amber Gray) set the scene before a medley of “Come Home With Me” and “Wedding Song” finds Orpheus (Reeve Carney) and Eurydice (Eva Noblezada) meeting and falling in love. “When the Chips Are Down” showcases the three Fates — spirits who often drive the characters’ motivations — as played by Jewelle Blackman, Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer and Kay Trinidad. And in “Flowers,” Eurydice looks back with regret and resignation on her decision to leave Orpheus for the promise of Hadestown.

(16) NO NOSE IS BAD NOSE. From the Harvard Gazette: “Loss of taste and smell is best indicator of COVID-19, study shows”.

MGH, King’s College London researchers use crowdsourced data from app to monitor symptoms in 2.6 million, study how the disease spreads

Though fever, cough, and shortness of breath are the symptoms most commonly associated with COVID-19 infection, a recent study in which 2.6 million people used a smartphone app to log their symptoms daily showed that the most oddball pair of indicators — loss of smell and taste — was also the best predictor, and one that scientists said should be included in screening guidelines.

…The scientists adapted a smartphone app that had been created by corporate partner ZOE, a health science company, for research on how to personalize diet to address chronic disease. The new program, a free download from the Apple or Google app stores, collects demographic and health background information and then asks how the participant is feeling. If they’re feeling well, that’s the end of the daily entry. If they’re not it asks further questions about symptoms.

(17) BLIT FOR ANDROID? BBC asks “Why this photo is bricking some phones”.

Dozens of Android phone owners are reporting on social media that a picture featuring a lake, a cloudy sunset and a green shoreline is crashing their handsets when used as wallpaper.

Several brands seem to be affected, including Samsung and Google’s Pixel.

The bug makes the screen turn on and off continuously. In some cases a factory reset is required.

The BBC does not recommend trying it out.

Samsung is due to roll out out a maintenance update on 11 June. The BBC has contacted Google for comment but not yet had a response.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. At Axios “Science fiction writers tell us how they see the coronavirus pandemic”.

  • Neil Gaiman, author of “Coraline”: “I think this period of time is going to be a fertile time for storytellers for decades and, I hope, centuries to come.
  • Lois Lowry, author of “The Giver”: “We’re at the part of the book where the reader is feeling a terrible sense of suspense.”
  • Nnedi Okorafor, author of “The Shadow Speaker”: “One thing I’ve felt since all of this has happened, is this idea of … oh my gosh, it’s finally happening.”
  • Max Brooks, author of “World War Z”: “Those big crises that affect us all have to be solved by all of us … it may not be some alpha male with a big gun or some clairvoyant wizard or someone with magical powers.”

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Darrah Chavey, Joey Eschrich, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, and Andre Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joseph Hurtgen.]

Pixel Scroll 11/28/18 When The Pixeling Gets Tough, The Tough Get Scrolling

(1) ATWOOD SEQUEL. With A Handmaid’s Tale enjoying great success as a TV series, Publishers Weekly reports “Margaret Atwood Is Writing a Sequel to ‘The Handmaid’s Tale'”.

Following two years in which Margaret Atwood‘s classic dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale saw a skyrocketing in readership and new cultural relevance, both on television and in society at large, the author has announced a sequel.

The Testaments, set 15 years after the final scene of The Handmaid’s Tale, will be published on September 10, 2019, by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, with an announced first printing of 500,000 copies….

“Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book,” Atwood said in a statement. “Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.”

The Testaments is not connected to the television adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, which is headed into its third season, six Emmy Awards in tow.

(2) NEBULA CONFERENCE PRICE RISE. Sean Wallace reminded people you have only until Friday to get the early bird special convention rate for SFWA’s Nebula Conference before it goes significantly up.

(3) IN FUTURE TENSE. Each month in 2018, Future Tense Fiction—a series of short stories from Future Tense and ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives— publishes a story on a theme. The theme for October–December 2018: Work. And this month’s story is “Overvalued” by Mark Stasenko, a TV writer whose credits include the Peabody Award–winning series American Vandal.

“How was your day?” Jack asked his wife as she took off her black leather pumps at the door of their spacious industrial-chic condo in NoMad.

“Good,” Sophia lied.

They didn’t use to lie to each other, not even about small things. Unfiltered honesty had always come naturally to them, despite their glaring differences—maybe because of them. But for the past six weeks, nothing seemed natural anymore. It was strange how much the death of a stranger had changed things.

It was published along with a response essay, “What’s Stopping Human Capital From Becoming a Security?”, by investor and writer Zachary Karabell.

That’s the specter raised by Mark Stasenko’s macabre short story of a not-too-distant future in which the potential of an individual has been turned into a tradeable security via a Prodigy Market in which investors can buy, sell, or short promising people.

Elements of the story are already real. Insurance companies have for many years insured vital aspects of individual talent and worth—Lloyd’s of London has famously insured Betty Grable’s legs and Bruce Springsteen’s voice….

(4) RESPONSES TO SILVERBERG. Here are a pair of analytical reactions to Robert Silverberg’s Racism and Sexism post on File 770, plus N.K. Jemisin’s answer.

Brianne Reeves of BreeReadsBooks wrote an open letter, “Dear Robert Silverberg…”, a free read on her Patreon page:

…I understand you are upset that someone spread your words around. Such is the way with playground gossip, too. You still need to apologize.

I understand that you don’t mean to cause harm. You should still think critically about how your words have evoked it.

I understand you do not go into your projects with an explicitly biased eye. You should consider one of the truest premises Science Fiction embraces: we are not always aware of our biases.

I understand you are not trying to exclude others. Consider that systems are built with inclusion and exclusion in mind. You should think through who is excluded in our publishing model and how that is painful and harmful to our community….

Will Emmons’ Facebook post tries to place Silverberg’s arguments in cultural and political context:

…The ‘drama’ is sort of beside the point though. Except it’s a place to jump off for a conversation of culture and politics. A better question than Robert Silverberg’s personal views, or even his personal history, is what the politics of fandom and/or other cultural affinity groups is or should be. I’m a communist and have my own views about this but I’m mostly going to be talking about other people’s views as I understand them.

A position common to the old school liberals and conservatives as well as the emergent far right is the intellectually dishonest statement that politics has no place in fandom. Silverberg writes of Jemisin’s Hugo speech that he “felt that her angry acceptance speech had been a graceless one, because I believe that Hugo acceptance speeches should be occasions for gratitude and pleasure, not angry statements that politicize what should be a happy ceremony.”

I say this is dishonest because the old school liberals and conservatives of the generation before Silverberg’s engaged in personal and political struggles against the left-leaning Futurian fans. It came to a head at the 1939 Worldcon when a number of important Futurians were barred from entry. For his own part, back in the 50s Silverberg’s immense output included, among everything else, what Nazis call “message fic,” i.e. stories that disagree with fascist values. Google “The Happy Unfortunate,” a public domain short story where genetically engineered spacemen are kept out of the main city through an apartheid-like arrangement.

N.K. Jemisin’s thread starts here.

(5) MORE ON FACIAL RECOGNITION. Writing in Forbes Magazine, Emeritus Professor of AI and Robotics Noel Sharkey looks at the dire warnings of totalitarianism that science fiction has provided, from Orwell to Doctorow, and asks us to consider what the tipping point is at which unfreedom begins: “Get Out Of My Face, Get Out of My Home: The Authoritarian Tipping Point”.

…There is an even more serious question than the massive inaccuracy of face recognition technology outside of the lab. It is even more serious than the racial and gender prejudice of the technology. The question is why the hell are we allowing law enforcement to scan our faces and use them for data?

Inaccurate face recognition creates grave injustices and sooner or later the wrong people will die because of it. But better accuracy may be even worse for the direction of our society. I fully understand how useful it would be for the police to catch dangerous wanted criminals and safely follow potential terrorists wherever they go. But at what cost to our lives?

Imagine if all of the mass of security cameras were equipped with reasonably accurate face recognition – and this is not totally unrealistic – there would be no place to hide. The more this is used, the cheaper it will get and the more AI will be used to act on the data. How long will it be before people are tracked for trivial offenses by face recognition software and told to wait until they are picked up? This technology would put great power in the hands of the authorities.

This is not the society that I wish to live in. Yet huge numbers of us are helping the quest by allowing apps like Facebook to collect data about our faces. When we post pictures of our friends on Facebook and tag them, we are providing data for face recognition algorithms to link those faces with their personal data. Some phones now acquire your face data so that it can be used to recognize you and open your phone….

(6) HILLENBURG OBIT. SpongeBob Squarepants’ creator Stephen Hillenburg died November 26 at age 57 — Variety has the story.

That same year [1992] he won an award for Best Animated Concept at the Ottawa International Animation Festival for his animated short “Wormholes”, which went on to be shown at various international animation festivals. From 1993 to 1996 he would pursue work in television as a director and writer on Nickelodeon’s series “Rocko’s Modern Life.”

From there, he began to work full-time on writing producing, and directing on the animated series that would eventually become “SpongeBob SquarePants.” The first episode aired on Nickelodeon on May 1, 1999 and the series commenced its full run on July 17 of that year. The series has aired nearly 250 episodes to date. It appealed not only to children but older viewers as well, with college students even organizing viewing parties for the show.

(7) BURT OBIT. Andrew Burt (1945-2018): British actor, died November 16, aged 73. Genre appearances include The Legend of King Arthur (seven episodes, 1979), Blake’s 7 (one episode, 1980), Gulliver in Lilliput (four episodes, 1982), Doctor Who (three episodes, 1983), Super Gran (one episode, 1985).

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born November 28, 1930 – William Sargent, 88, Actor who played Dr. Leighton in “The Conscience of the King”, a first-season episode of Star Trek. He also had guest roles on Mission: Impossible, The Twilight Zone, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Invaders, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and appeared in the zombie movie Night Slaves. He was in the pilot but not the regular cast for the TV series The Immortal, for which SFWA Grand Master James Gunn was head writer.
  • Born November 28, 1939 – Walter Velez, Artist. His agent and fellow artist Jill Bauman wrote, “Walter created illustrations for most of the major book and gaming companies. He has been long known for his cover art for such popular books such as the Thieves World series and the Myth Adventures series, both edited by Robert Asprin; and the Ebenezum, Wuntor, and Cineverse Cycle series, all by Craig Shaw Gardner. Walter illustrated for TSR games extensively. He applied his multi-faceted talents to trading cards for the Goosebumps series for the Topps Company, and a series of Dune trading cards. In the early 80’s he worked with Random House to create art for several Star Wars books that were licensed from George Lucas.” (Died 2018.)
  • Born November 28, 1946 – Joe Dante, 72, Director and Producer. Warning, this is a personal list of works he directed that I’ve really, really enjoyed – starting off with The Howling, then adding in the Saturn-nominated Innerspace, both of the Saturn-nominated Gremlins films (though I think only the first is a masterpiece, which is why that Saturn nom got him a trophy), Small Soldiers, and The Hole (2009). For television work, he’s directed episodes for quite a number of series, but the only one I can say I recall and was impressed by was his Legends of Tomorrow “Night of the Hawk” episode. As Producer, I see he’s responsible for The Phantom (proving that everyone has a horrible day), the Jeremiah series, and an upcoming horror film called Camp Cold Brook.
  • Born November 28, 1950 – Ed Harris, 68, Actor, Director, and Producer with a lengthy genre resume whose first role was in the Michael Crichton-directed version of Robin Cook’s Coma, but whose most famous genre role, depending on your flavor of fandom, might be his Oscar-nominated turn as Flight Director Gene Kranz in the Hugo finalist Apollo 13 (which earned him a sly voice cameo as Mission Control in Gravity), his Saturn-winning lead role as The Man in Black in the TV series Westworld, his Saturn-nominated performance as an undersea explorer in the Hugo finalist The Abyss, or his Oscar- and Saturn-nominated part as the exploitative genius of The Truman Show.
  • Born November 28, 1952 – S. Epatha Merkerson, 66, Actor who has spent around 25 years in main roles in Dick Wolf’s Law & Order and Chicago procedural dramas, but who managed to sneak in genre roles in the films Jacob’s Ladder, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Slipstream, and a main role in the short-lived 1990s cyborg police series Mann & Machine.
  • Born November 28, 1961 – Alfonso Cuarón, 57, Writer, Director, and Producer from Mexico who has directed three impressive genre films: the Hugo finalists Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Children of Men (based on P. D. James’ 1992 novel of the same name) and the Hugo Award-winning Gravity, for which he also won an Oscar. He also produced the Hugo-winning Pan’s Labyrinth, and is the creator of Believe, a TV series about a young girl born with special supernatural abilities she can not control, which lasted thirteen episodes. The Possibility of Hope, a documentary short film which he directed, looks at different matters of the world such as immigration, global warming and capitalism through the eyes of scientists and philosophers.
  • Born November 28, 1962 – Mark Hodder, 56, Writer from England who is best known for his Burton & Swinburne alternate-history Victorian steampunk novels, starting off with The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack, which deservedly garnered the 2010 Philip K. Dick Award. Books 3 and 4, Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon and The Secret of Abdu El Yezdi, were finalists for Sidewise Awards. His A Red Sun Also Rises recreates a sort of Victorian London on a far distant alien world (emphasis on “sort of”). And then there’s Consulting Detective Macallister Fogg, which appears to be his riff off of Sherlock Holmes, only decidedly weirder.
  • Born November 28, 1984 – Mary Elizabeth Winstead, 34, Actor, Singer, and Producer whose roots are deepest in the horror genre, with notable roles in Sky High, Final Destination 3, Monster Island, Black Christmas (so merry-sounding, that), the recent reboot of The Thing, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (anyone seen this?), 10 Cloverfield Lane (for which she won a Saturn Award), The Ring Two, and the upcoming Gemini Man. Her series work includes Touched by an Angel and its spinoff Promised Land, Wolf Lake, Tru Calling, The Returned, and a guest voice role on the animated Danger & Eggs series (which I am not describing).
  • Born November 28, 1987 – Karen Gillan, 31, Actor, Writer, and Director whom Doctor Who fans know as Amy Pond, companion to the Eleventh Doctor; two episodes in which she appeared, “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang” and “The Doctor’s Wife”, won Hugo Awards. More recent high-profile roles include playing Nebula in the Guardians of The Galaxy and Avengers movies, and Ruby Roundhouse in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Other genre appearances include the supernatural thriller films Outcast and Oculus, and the multi-platform horror story The Well.

(9) BOOKSHOP OPENS NEW BRANCH UNDER FANNISH MANAGEMENT. Milwaukee’s Renaissance Bookshop (best known for having the world’s first used-book store in an airport) opened a new branch in suburban Southridge Mall at 6 a.m. on Black Friday. The manager is 23-year-old second-generation fan/bookseller Kelly J.A. Lowrey, child of “Orange Mike” Lowrey and C.Kay “Cicatrice” Hinchliffe. The present staffing at the Southridge store is “heavily fannish”, reports proud papa Mike, and looks likely to remain so.

(10) HIS DAY JOB. Paul Di Filippo excerpted “Philip F. Nowlan’s Early Journalism” in a post at TheInferior4.

Philip F. Nowlan, the fellow who created Buck Rogers, worked as a journalist prior to that milestone. By accident, I stumbled on a column he used to write, three samples of which are here…

(11) DILLON SOLO. Aficianados remember Leo & Diane Dillon’s many collaborative sff book covers. But I haven’t seen much solo work. Now there’s a gallery of Leo Dillon’s solo art at the Flying Cars and Food Pills blog. Andrew Porter sent the link together with his photo of Leo (Diane visible over his left shoulder) from the opening of a show at their son’s Fusion Designs Gallery, a now-closed gallery in Brooklyn.

Leo Dillon. Photo © Andrew Porter

(12) PRINCESS CASTING. The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna interviews Pamela Ribon, a writer of Ralph Breaks the Internet, about a scene where Vannellope Van Schweetz is surrounded by nearly a dozen Disney princesses.  She talks about how she developed the scene and how she recruited seven former Disney princesses to recreate their original roles as cameos. “How ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ spoofs the Disney Princess industrial complex”.

That conversation carried over to the early story stages of the “Ralph” sequel. “I thought: ‘Gosh, why isn’t Vanellope canon?’ “ Ribon says. “To me, she’s my kind of princess — in a hoodie.”

“At first we were joking about Vanellope photobombing the [seven] dwarfs,” Ribon says. That brainstorming evolved into having Vanellope — who goes AWOL from her Sugar Rush game — come upon the Oh My Disney area of the Internet.

“What if they’re trying to determine whether or not she’s canon — whatever that thing [is] that they decide at Disneyland that allows some of them to get their coronation,” Ribon says of having the princesses grill Vanellope on her potentially royal résumé. “And so I took it from there.”

But while executing her idea, Ribon says, she began to have a “true panic attack,” so she contacted a friend — a walking Wikipedia of Disney facts — and told her: “I have all these tropes and I just want to make sure I have the right princesses. Which ones were kidnapped? Which ones have daddy issues?

“She was like: ‘What are you doing?’ “

(13) LION KING. In a Washington Post article “‘The Lion King’ remake’s trailer confuses the Internet: Just what is ‘live action’ anymore?”,  Michael Cavna says there is a major controversy over whether Disney’s remake of The Lion King is “live action” when “everything on the screen looks like a painted pixel.” He mentions an article on the Cartoon Brew website called “Don’t Let Disney Gaslight You: The Lion King Remake Is An Animated Film.”

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Disney released the first trailer for next year’s “Lion King” remake — which trades in the 1994 original’s 2D animation for CGI re-creation — and after more than 224 million views within the first day, the debate was sparked: Just how is this a “live-action” film when everything on the screen looks like a painted pixel?

Some viewers tweeted their confusion over the trailer — perhaps expecting a so-called live-action remake of “The Lion King” to be more in the vein of the costuming in Julie Taymor’s smash Broadway musical.

And the high degree of cinematic similarity prompted some users to post shot-by-shot comparisons of the original and the remake.

(14) IN YOUR COPIOUS SPACETIME. James Davis Nicoll chronicles “Six SF Novels (and One Song) Built Around Space Travel and Time Dilation” at Tor.com.

No hope for men with pretensions of following in Captain Kirk’s footsteps in Joan D. Vinge’s 1974 novella Tin Soldier (originally collected in Orbit 14, later reprinted in Eyes of Amber). Starflight is the exclusive domain of women; men, physiologically incapable of serving as waking crew, are consigned to the status of hibernating cargo. The story follows an intermittent romance between two people: a woman whose career as crew leaves her skipping across decades and her immortal cyborg bartender friend, who is making his way through time the slow way.

(15) VIRGIN GALACTIC ON THE CUSP. Christian Davenport’s Washington Post article “Virgin Galactic’s quest for space” has an article about Virgin Galactic and Sir Richard Branson’s plans for space exploration.  He believes that the company has nearly recovered from the death of test pilot Michael Alsbury in 2014 and that SpaceShipTwo should offer tourist flights very shortly.

Today, four years later, the company says it is once again at that moment. Branson, chastened by the crash and the ensuing federal investigation, recently said that the company is “more than tantalizingly close” and that “we should be in space within weeks, not months.”

Virgin Galactic’s next flight of SpaceShipTwo, its winged and sporty space plane, is scheduled for launch in the coming weeks and could, after years of trying, give Branson his long elusive conquest of blasting through the atmosphere. It would mark a historic milestone for Virgin and Branson, a master of marketing and hype who for years has become an evangelist for space exploration.

[Thanks to Olav Rokne, Steve Green, Joey Eschrich, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, rcade, Orange Mike Lowrey, Carl Slaughter, StephenfromOttawa, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]

Pixel Scroll 2/2/18 Pixel Squared Plus Scroll Squared Equals File770 Squared

(1) THAT LITTLE VOICE. Publishers Weekly’s Antonia Saxon does a “Q & A with Diane Dillon” about her new children’s book. Diane and the late Leo Dillon had a long history as sff cover artists.

How hard was it to tackle the project on your own?

That was one of the fears in doing this book. Even if we had done something separately, we always signed everything Leo and Diane. Now Leo is gone and that little voice in my head says, “What if they say this is not up to our standard?” It was hard getting started. I kept thinking, “I’m going to be judged separately now.” It was uncomfortable.

So you have a little voice, too. What does it say?

The voice just says the same things over and over. But you don’t have to listen to it! The story is autobigraphical, that’s for sure.

Having Leo to bounce something off of, an extra pair of eyes to see something, that worked very well. A lot of people asked, “How can you work with someone else? Don’t you think, ‘This is your work, this is his work?’ ” But early on we realized we needed to join forces. We said, “We are one artist. We do something that neither one of us can do individually.”

It sounds as if you took your own doubts and made them into a book.

Yeah! I think it’s important that children know that that little voice can be stilled if you ask it questions. They can have courage to be anything they want to be. When I started this, it was before the Women’s March, and this new awareness of women’s self-image and strength, and the #MeToo movement—it was serendipitous that it’s come out at this time. I hope it has a long life.

(2) “WAITING TO WORSHIP A RAT.” February 2 — “Groundhog Day 2018: Punxsutawney Phil predicts 6 more weeks of winter”.

They reported that Phil communicated in “groundhogese” that he had cast a shadow.  According to legend, that means the weather will be wintry for the next six weeks.

That’s his typical prediction: It has happened more than 100 other times in the 132-year history of the tradition.

Even so, there’s some good news: Phil is usually wrong.

…Since 1887, the groundhog has seen his shadow 103 times, to forecast a longer winter, and not seen it 18 times, to predict an early spring. (There is no record of the prediction for 10 times in the late 19th century.)

(3) BASKERVILLE. Europa SF reports the winner of the 2017 Guillermo de Baskerville Award in the anthology category is Dark Fantasies, edited by Mariano Villarreal.

The award is named for the protagonist in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, and is given for the best indie books of the year that has been reviewed on the Spanish-language Libros Prohibidos (Prohibited Books) website. (The other categories were won by non-genre works.)

A jury composed of the writer, bookseller and blogger, David Pierre, the writers Sonia Rico, Javier Font and Diego Marcapáginas chose Dark Fantasies., from Sportula, a Spanish science-fiction and fantasy publishing house.

(4) IT’LL HOLD YOU TO YOUR DEADLINE. I haven’t seen one of these before! “1938 Underwood 14″ Tentacle Typewriter”:

(5) CASE IN POINT. The Traveler from Galactic Journey tells us what he thinks about the opening episodes of The Twilight Zone’s fourth season: “[February 2, 1963] Whither the Prodigal Son?  (Twilight Zone, Season 4, Episodes 1-4)”.

In His Image, by Charles Beaumont

A young man is plagued by blackouts and half-memories of murder.  When he takes his fiancee (who has known for all of four days) back to his home town that he left just a week before, he finds twenty years appear to have elapsed — and his family has no trace of existence at all.  Who is this man?  Where did he come from?  And what is the cause of his manic episodes?

George Grizzard gives a fine turn as the afflicted protagonist in a story that has more than one reveal.  While the pacing is a little slow, the course of the characters and the nuanced storytelling keeps it going for the expanded length of the show.  Four stars.

(6) YOU, TOO, CAN VISIT 1963. Some sort of time dialation will allow San Diego’s Mysterious Galaxy bookstore to host “Galactic Journey: Interview with a Time Traveler (1963 edition)” on February 17 at 2 p.m. (Full details at the link.)

Blast back to February 1963, three years before the Five Year Mission, nine months before the blue Police Box, when the Fantastic Four were on issue eleven — that “Mad Men” time that set the stage for everything that came after.

Hugo Nominee-Runner up and Serling Award-winning Galactic Journey, portal to 55 years ago, presents a window on sci-fi and the Space Race, comics and pop culture, in that fascinating, tumultuous era of change. Visit galacticjourney.org to see what we’re all about — we are a time-shifted blog living the fan’s life, 55 years in the past, day-by-day. This panel is the blog’s road show: always new, always different. Completely free of charge.

…Come to Mysterious Galaxy for a most unique engagement: a question-driven panel presented by a host of entertaining time travelers. YOU, the audience, determine the course of the event as they take you on a literary tour of the early 60s. Prizes will be given out for the best questions: See if YOU can stump the Traveler team!

…So don your skinny tie and/or cocktail dress, strap your slide-rule to your belt, and come see the event that has electrified congoers across the Western United States!

(7) STAN LEE IN, OUT OF HOSPITAL. The comics icon intends to be at a con in St. Louis this weekend: “STAN LEE Released From Hospital Early, Plans To Keep Weekend Convention Plans”.

Stan Lee has been released from the hospital following an overnight stay, and the 95-year-old writer plans on making his weekend convention plans. In an interview with Los Angeles’ KABC, Lee said was “feeling good” and appreciated the public outpouring of concern.

“All I really want to do is tell you that I’m feeling great,” Lee said. “I figured a little check-up wouldn’t be bad for me. And in fact it turned out to be pretty good, it got me a lot of publicity. I’m feeling good now and I can’t wait to get in there and tangle with all the competition.”

Lee was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday evening after experiencing shortness of breath and an irregular heartbeat. At that time, a spokesperson for Lee said the writer would remain hospitalized “for a few days for some check-ups as a safety precaution.”

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian finds puberty hit this monster hard, in Bliss.
  • John also passed on a horrible horror pun in Brevity.

(9) NOW IT CAN BE DONE. BYU only just announced this–the Princess Leia Projector. Ultra-kewl!

(10) SO LET’S CELEBRATE. New from Palette-Swap Ninja: “Leia Organa,” their latest Star Wars/Beatles parody.

(11) PURE TOMATOES. The Hollywood Reporter’s Pamela McClintock in “Rotten Tomatoes Denounces Group Taking Aim at Black Panther Audience Score”, says that Rotten Tomatoes has denounced a Facebook group called “Down With Disney’s Treatment of Franchises And Their Fanboys,” which says that it is going to flood Rotten Tomatoes with bad reviews of Black Panther as retaliation for what it claims is a Disney attempt to push bad reviews of DC franchises.

Not long after Rotten Tomatoes issued its statement, the group’s Facebook page was no longer available and appeared to have been deactivated. Facebook could not immediately be reached for comment. After the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in summer 2017, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg vowed to curb hate speech on his social media platform.

(12) LIDAR DISCOVERIES. A new application of technology is revolutionizing Mayan archeology: “Sprawling Maya network discovered under Guatemala jungle”.

Researchers have found more than 60,000 hidden Maya ruins in Guatemala in a major archaeological breakthrough.

Laser technology was used to survey digitally beneath the forest canopy, revealing houses, palaces, elevated highways, and defensive fortifications.

The landscape, near already-known Maya cities, is thought to have been home to millions more people than other research had previously suggested.

The researchers mapped over 810 square miles (2,100 sq km) in northern Peten.

Archaeologists believe the cutting-edge technology will change the way the world will see the Maya civilisation.

(13) ARCHEOLOGICAL FINDS TAKEN. The Guardian reports: “Thieves steal hundreds of priceless artefacts from Canterbury charity”.

Priceless artefacts including 850 Anglo-Saxon beads have been stolen from an archaeological charity in Canterbury during a series of break-ins.

Thieves broke into the store of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, which undertakes excavations and research and educates the public about archaeology, twice last week and once over the weekend.

As well as the beads, large quantities of coins and metal artefacts, and an assortment of bone objects have been stolen.

The charity has put on an appeal asking the public to look out for the historical items being offered for sale.

A very large photo gallery of missing items has been posted by the group on Facebook.

(14) HONOR TO THOMAS. SF Site News reports Lynne M. Thomas will be named to a University of Illinois endowed professorship.

Hugo Award winner Lynne M. Thomas will be named Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Rare Book & Manuscript Professor on April 6 at the University of Illinois…. Thomas is also one of the co-editors and publishers of Uncanny.

(15) REWRITING HISTORY. Another thing everybody knows that’s wrong — ” What’s The Real Story About The Milkmaid And The Smallpox Vaccine?”

The Trend: Inoculate Yourself

To understand what really happened, Boylston, whose research interest is the history of smallpox inoculation, explored letters, medical notes and research papers, going back to about 1720. He has self-published a book about it, Defying Providence: Smallpox and the Forgotten 18th Century Medical Revolution. At that time, he says, doctors were attempting to prevent smallpox through a process called variolation, in which oozing matter was taken directly from the smallpox sores of sick people and scratched onto the skin of healthy people “There are records of women inoculating their own children with smallpox,” says Boylston. “People got a mild case of smallpox, but then they were immune.”

They were immune, that is, if they survived. Using actual smallpox virus to induce the disease in healthy people was risky. If people naturally caught smallpox during an epidemic, the chance of dying from the disease was 1 in 5 or 6. When they got smallpox after being inoculated, they generally developed a mild form of the disease, and the risk of dying dropped to about 1 in 50, Boylston says. Whether they got the disease naturally or from deliberate inoculation with the smallpox virus, survivors were immune for the rest of their lives. Historical records show that many people were willing to take the risk by exposing themselves — even their children — to smallpox.

But then Jenner showed that people could become immune to smallpox by being vaccinated with cowpox. It was safer because cowpox rarely kills.

But was the milkmaid really Jenner’s muse? Boylston thinks not.

(16) LOVE IT TO DEATH. NPR’s Mark Jenkins has mixed feelings about Before We Vanish: “Before The Invasion, A Crash Course In Sensitivity Training: ‘Before We Vanish'”.

What is love?

That query proves even more complicated than usual in Before We Vanish, Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s engaging if messy, and overstuffed, 20th feature. It’s a riff on Invasion of the Body Snatchers that meanders from action to satire to romantic affirmation.

The man who poses the question is Shinji (Ryuhei Matsuda) — or, rather, the alien who just seized control of Shinji’s form. This new but physically unchanged man is suddenly clinical, inquisitive, and physically wobbly, so his bewildered wife takes him to a doctor. Narumi (Masami Nagasawa) doesn’t especially want her old husband back. Their marriage has rotted, and as Shinji learns more about being human, Narumi begins to like the new model more than the previous one.

Shinji is one of three advance scouts for the extraterrestrials’ conquest of mankind, a “run-of-the-mill species.” Introduced first is Akira (Yuri Tsunematsu), the most violent of the contingent. After an initial miscalculation, Akira grabs the body of schoolgirl and commits a brutal crime. This opening sequence, which invokes Kurosawa’s past as a horror-flick director, is a gory bit of misdirection.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Dave Doering, JJ, Robin Reid, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Will R., ULTRAGOTHA, Francis Hamit, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, and Carl Slaughter. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]

Hertz: Two Chicon Exhibits

Leo & Diane Dillon Exhibit

Chicon 7 exhibit about Leo and Diane Dillon. Photos by Richard Lynch.

By John Hertz: In May when Leo Dillon died I felt that Chicon VII (officially “Chicon 7” for the Mercury 7 astronauts) really ought to have an exhibit honoring the Dillons’ work, two of our finest illustrators over fifty years.  I found nobody else was yet planning one.  I got valuable advice from Vincent Di Fate and Jane Frank.

Mark Olson had the swell idea of displaying books the Dillons had done.  Alice Massoglia rounded up two dozen decent-quality reading copies – not collectors’ copies, I wanted to let people pick them up and look through them.  A good handful of Harlan Ellison books, issues of Fantasy & Science Fiction with Dillon covers, the Byron Preiss collection, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with their cover and interiors, Ashanti to Zulu which won one of their Caldecotts (and reminded me of my Nigerian drum teacher), Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymous Bosch which they did with their son Lee, the hundredth-anniversary Wizard of Oz, some Lafferty, The Snow Queen, and a host of others reached me in Los Angeles, were sent on to Chicago, and arrived safely.

Elizabeth Klein-Lebbink resplendently with her electronic powers made three banners, one for the top with “Art of Leo and Diane Dillon” and a color photo, one mounted under that and one mounted on the front of the display table with images of every shape and size, some we had physical examples of and James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Shakespeare, Mark Twain.

Richard Lynch took photos so you can see how it looked.  This involved his climbing onto a chair on top of a table muttering “This is stupid, this is stupid” while Nicki across the Exhibit Hall wondered.

Richard also helped me put up the Rotsler Award exhibit and photographed that for you.  My guide through various spacetime problems with it was Randy Smith, as ever a big help.  All three judges, Claire Brialey, Mike Glyer, and I, were at the con, but no more than two of us ever managed to be in the same place.  If we all had, that might have popped Dave McCarty into the 14th Chorp Dimension.

Which reminds me, Dave, what happened to the Jay’s potato chips?

Dillon exhibit.

Dillon exhibit table display.

Rotsler Award exhibit at Chicon 7.

John Hertz.