Pixel Scroll 5/25/22 Never Gonna File You Up, Never Gonna Scroll You Down

(1) THIS PRESENT CENTURY. The “TIME100: The Most Influential People of 2022” doesn’t include sff text writers, however, it features an array of performers and filmmakers with genre resumes like (Artists) Simu Liu, Andrew Garfield, Channing Tatum, (Innovators) Taika Waititi, (Titans) Michelle Yeoh, and (Icons) Keanu Reeves, Jon Batiste.

As usual, the list is about influence, and not all influential people are wonderful – Vladimir Putin is on it.

(2) WRITER’S (LUCITE) BLOCK. Sarah Pinsker has posted her award acceptance remarks: “’Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather’ won the Nebula!” The excerpt is part of the lead-up, the remarks are at the link.

….As someone who has now accepted three Nebulas and a Hugo (the Hugos were in person, but I had an asymptomatic positive Covid test that week and stayed home) from this chair in my library, I can say there’s something weird about accepting an award live online. I’m a performer; I know how to channel energy. And yet, when they say my name, and the adrenaline hits while I’m trying to find the buttons to hit “accept promotion to speaker” and also remember to turn on my camera and mic, and also try to keep the dogs from barking as they feed off my excitement, there’s nowhere for the excitement to go. I can’t see other faces, so my excitement bounces off the computer and hits me square, telling me I should speed up instead of take a breath.…

(3) TOUR DE FORCE. An interview with Emily St. John Mandel at Bookforum Magazine: “Marquee Moon – Emily St. John Mandel talks about her postapocalyptic novel, which features a moon colony, time travel, and a book tour”.

There are all these disparate elements, but structurally and thematically it really coheres. I’m thinking of that early scene where Edwin is at home and criticizes British colonialism in India, which is somewhat the catalyst for his banishment. That has really compelling parallels to the moon colonies later in the novel. It’s not a perfect mapping, because there’s a difference between colonizing an inhabited land versus colonizing an uninhabited world, but how did it feel to raise those moral and ethical questions?

I started thinking about the simulation hypothesis, which is a big part of this novel. It is what it sounds like, for anyone who’s unfamiliar—the idea that perhaps we are all living in a computer simulation. And you can find very intelligent people who strenuously argue either side of that hypothesis. I thought that maybe there’s an interesting parallel between that idea and the tragedy of colonization, in the sense that the people who colonized the so-called New World did so in the grip of a false narrative. In Canada, where I’m from, it was a narrative of empty land, the idea that this is an empty country that’s there for the taking. Of course, it wasn’t empty—people lived there. There was something about establishing a country under fundamentally false pretenses that really reminded me in a strange way of this theory that we’re all living in a simulation. For me, there was a stronger parallel between those two things than between colonizing Canada and India versus colonizing the moon. Just because, to your point, they feel like such different circumstances. Nobody lives on the moon, so it’s fine…. 

(4) THE CAUSE. Tolkien sainthood advocate Daniel Côté Davis tells readers of The European Conservative “Why Some Catholics Think J.R.R. Tolkien Could Be a Saint”. It’s a Catholic church process, and the rest of the article focuses even more strongly on those requirements than this excerpt:

… Tolkien’s discussion of the Sacraments was not limited to the Eucharist, and Catholics can also find spiritual fruit in praying on his comments on Christian marriage. The comments are particularly poignant in the context of his love of Edith his wife. This love, along with that for Christ, animated his daily life. His love for he was so deep that the story that he felt was the very centre of his legendarium is based on their love story. Though not as widely-known as The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit, the tale of Beren and Luthien, told both in chapter 19 of The Silmarillion and in the recently-published Beren and Luthien. The tale mythopoetically expresses a love stronger than death, and Tolkien’s children decided to adorn their parents’ shared grave with the names Beren and Luthien. Whilst maintaining this reverential romanticism, Tolkien did not, however, shirk from teaching the reality of the necessity to found love on the will, and within a lifelong purgative struggle for virtue…

(5) WISCON. In “WisCon is back, and taking a hard look at itself”, local publication Tone Madison profiles the convention.

Back for its 45th year, WisCon will return to hosting an in-person convention at the Madison Concourse Hotel this Memorial Day Weekend (May 27 to May 30). A staple of the feminist science fiction and fantasy community since 1977, the entirely volunteer-run convention has served as a crucial space for critical and invigorating thought around issues of gender, sexuality, race, disability, and more for decades….

… While the global pandemic alone brought enough change to the convention-planning landscape, the con’s governing nonprofit, the Society for the Furtherance & Study of Fantasy & Science Fiction, or SF3 for short, also experienced a complete leadership turnover in the fall of 2021….

… To ensure that anti-racist work… continues on an institutional level, the con has also allocated a budget for creating a BIPOC outreach committee to create whatever programming the committee’s members see fit. 

“One of the things that we the board have really championed is putting our money where our mouth is,” [SF3 secretary Essay] Manaktola says. “We [as in] the people who are running a con that has been racist. You know, not necessarily under our guidance, and not any more racist than the ambient culture around us, and hopefully less.” Organizers are hopeful that within its first year, the outreach committee will be able to develop a skeleton for a formal BIPOC Mentorship Program to draw in more young readers and fans of color to the con….

(6) THE NEXT ROSE. “‘I’m in awe’: trans actor Yasmin Finney on joining Doctor Who” – a Guardian profile.  

…Finney’s character is called Rose, which was also the name of the companion famously played by Billie Piper in the mid-00s. The relevance of this is currently unknown. What we do know is that Finney was recently spotted filming scenes alongside David Tennant, AKA the Tenth Doctor, and Catherine Tate, AKA the Tenth Doctor’s companion, Donna Noble. In other words, there are more than enough cryptic developments to keep Whoniverse obsessives in a tizzy until the end product finally airs in 2023.

Finney squirms at the mere mention of Doctor Who – and what little she has to say about her casting only confuses matters further. “I didn’t know for a long time,” she says over Zoom, through curtains of sleek blond hair, “but I did know. I don’t want to give too much away.” My chances of gleaning anything meaningful seem practically zero. Was it mere coincidence that Davies’ mid-00s Doctor Who collaborator Euros Lyn also directed Heartstopper? “That was a huge coincidence!” exclaims Finney, before admitting that, actually, Lyn did recommend her to producers who were “looking for a trans girl”. But she doubts Lyn knew the precise nature of the project under discussion….

(7) SHORT SFF. Gizmodo’s Linda Codega answers the question “Which Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazines Deserve More Love?” basically by saying they all do.

…So why aren’t more science fiction and fantasy readers reading short stories? I often find myself recommending SFF magazines to friends who are keen, avid, and voracious readers of science fiction and fantasy. Even fewer than readers are subscribers. A relevant example is that of Lightspeed, which, according to Locus Magazine’s State of Magazines in 2021, had 29,851 average monthly visitors, with 2,209 subscribers overall. Nightmare magazine, from the same report, had 13,651 visitors and only 1,477 ebook subscribers….

(8) NEAR MISS. [Item by Michael Toman.] Pace Jetboy: “I can’t die. I haven’t seen ‘Don’t Look Up’ yet!” “Asteroid four times the size of the Empire State Building barreling toward Earth on May 27” at MSN.com.

An enormous asteroid four times the size of the Empire State Building will make a close approach to Earth on May 27, according to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).

Fear not: the asteroid, named 7335 (1989 JA), will soundly miss our planet by about 2.5 million miles (4 million kilometers) — or nearly 10 times the average distance between Earth and the moon. Still, given the space rock’s enormous size (1.1. miles, or 1.8 km, in diameter) and relatively close proximity to Earth, NASA has classified the asteroid as “potentially hazardous,” meaning it could do enormous damage to our planet if its orbit ever changes and the rock impacts Earth….

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1979 [By Cat Eldridge.] Forty-three years ago, the first and I’m going to argue only Alien film worth seeing premiered on this day. Alien was directed by Ridley Scott from a screenplay by Dan O’Bannon which in turn was based on a story by O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett. 

This was the first genre film by Ridley with his only previous film being The Duellists which is most excellent. (I should essay it.) Dan O’Bannon on the other hand was the writer of Dark Star, which had been directed and produced by John Carpenter and which had been co-written with him. He had also worked on Star Wars doing computer animation and graphic displays as well as miniature and optical effects unit. Shusett was the first to option Philip K. Dick’s “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” short story that became Total Recall.

Digression: I did see it at the theatre. It was a fascinating experience. Horrifying but fascinating. Yes it very much deserved the Hugo did it win at Noreascon Two.

It cost very little to produce, around ten million, and made at least a hundred million. Because it was so successful, it spawned it a lot of films that included three sequels, AliensAlien 3 and Alien Resurrection. (A fifth film is being talked about with Weaver coming back.) The Predator crossovers produced Alien vs. Predator and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem. And then there’s prequel series of Prometheus and Alien: CovenantAliens is the only one of these I’ve seen.

So what the critics think?

Well Derek Malcom of the Guardian said when it came out that “Yet it does so, oddly enough, with a story that is basically just a mixture of The Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Thing from Outer Space. A dozen other 50s-sounding titles spring to mind – well, 60s at any rate. The point is the added 70s proficiency. You won’t see anything very original anywhere in the film, other than in the actual making of it. There, no holds are barred. Scott, a recruit from advertising, where instant atmospherics has to be the order of the day, manipulates his audience in a far stronger fashion than he managed with The Duellists. His combination of space fiction and horror story is no great shakes as a work of art. Artifice, however, it has in profusion.”

And the staff of the TV Guide in their retrospective look at it liked it as well: “There’s nothing terribly complex or original about the movie, but it is distinguished by its clever and innovative use of B-movie staples in a hi-tech setting. Coming into his own as a director on his second  feature, Ridley Scott wrings every possible ounce of suspense and atmosphere out of the proceedings. Swiss artist-designer H.R. Giger supplied the distinctive ‘bio-mechanical’ concepts for the film, which help make the alien one of cinema’s scariest creations: a nightmare synthesis of humanoid  form, insect-like appendages, and mechanized structure that is all the more effective for not being seen too clearly for most of the film.  The non-star cast acquits itself well, bringing an appealing quality to their characters. One of them, Weaver’s Ripley, would develop into one of the genre’s most memorable heroines through the subsequent sequels.”

It gets a ninety four percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes, not at all surprising to me. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 25, 1913 Carl Wessler. Animator during the Thirties working on Musical Memories and other theatrical cartoon shorts for the Fleischer Studios, and a comic book writer from the Forties though the Eighties for including Charlton Comics, DC, EC Comics, Harvey Comics and Marvel. He also worked for editor-in-chief Stan Lee at Marvel’s 1950s forerunner, Atlas Comics. (Died 1989.)
  • Born May 25, 1935 W. P. Kinsella. Best known I’d say for his novel Shoeless Joe which was adapted into the movie Field of Dreams, one of the few films that Kevin Costner is a decent actor in, ironic as the other is Bull Durham. Kinsella’s other genre novel’s The Iowa Baseball Confederacy and it’s rather less well-known than Shoeless Joe is but it’s excellent as well. He also edited Baseball Fantastic, an anthology of just what the title says. Given that he’s got eighteen collections of short stories listed on his wiki page, I’m reasonably sure his ISFDB page doesn’t come close to listing all his short stories. (Died 2016.)
  • Born May 25, 1939 Ian McKellen, 83. Best known for being Magneto in the X-Men films, and Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. I’m fairly sure his first genre role was as Dr. Faustus in an Edinburgh production of that play in the early Seventies. He also played Macbeth at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre during that period. He’d played Captain Hook in Peter Pan at The Royal National Theatre, and was the voice of the Demon in The Exorcist in the UK tour of that production. Of course, he was Dr. Reinhardt Lane in The Shadow, The Narrator in Stardust, Sherlock Holmes in Mr. Holmes, Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast and finally he’s  the Gus the Theatre Cat in the best forgotten Cats
  • Born May 25, 1944 Frank Oz, 78. Actor, director (including The Dark Crystal, Little Shop of Horrors and the second version of The Stepford Wives), producer and puppeteer. His career began as a puppeteer, where he performed the Muppet characters of Animal, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and oh so patriotic Sam Eagle in The Muppet Show, and Cookie Monster, Bert, and Grover in Sesame Street. Genre wise, he’s also known for the role of Yoda in the Star Wars franchise though he no longer performing him. An interesting Trivia note: he’s in the Blues Brothers as a Corrections Officer, and is the Warden in Blues Brothers 2000.
  • Born May 25, 1949 Barry Windsor-Smith, 73. Illustrator and painter, mostly for Marvel Comics. Oh my, his work on Conan the Barbarian in the early Seventies was amazing, truly amazing! And then there was the original Weapon X story arc involving Wolverine which still ranks among the best stories told largely because of his artwork. And let’s not forget that he and writer Roy Thomas created Red Sonja as partially based on Howard’s characters Red Sonya of Rogatino and Dark Agnes de Chastillon. 
  • Born May 25, 1950 Kathryn Daugherty. Yes, another one who damn it died far too young. I’m going to let Mike do her justice, so just go read his appreciation of her here including her scoffing at the oversized “MagiCon” pocket program and the pineapple jelly beans she was responsible for. (Died 2012.)
  • Born May 25, 1966 Vera Nazarian, 56. To date, she has written ten novels including Dreams of the Compass Rose, what I’d called a mosaic novel structured as a series of interlinked stories similar in tone to The One Thousand and One Nights that reminds me more than a bit of Valente’s The Orphans Tales. She’s the publisher of Norilana Books which publishes such works as Catherynne M. Valente’s Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress anthologies,and Tabitha Lee’s Lee’s Sounds and Furies.  She has two Nebula nominations, one for her “The Story of Love” short story and another for her “The Duke in His Castle” novella. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro shows two monsters squaring off – one with an obvious weapon, and the other – it will come to you.  

(12) DOOM PATROL. “’One Of The Things They Definitely Are Is Queer’: An Interview With Rachel Pollack” in The Comics Journal.

To fast-forward, the story is that you took over writing Doom Patrol after meeting Tom Peyer at a party.

Tom and I both wrote introductions for the Omnibus volume. I wrote mine first and then I saw his and corrected mine. Because I did not remember all the details of how we met. I vaguely thought that Neil Gaiman, who I had met at a writers conference, had invited me to this event. It turned out that Neil was there, but we were both there because it was a reception for the Science Fiction Writers of America. He introduced me to Stuart Moore and I was gushing to Stuart about how much I liked Vertigo – it wasn’t even Vertigo yet – but particularly Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol. That it was such an incredible brilliant thing. He said, well the editor is right here, which was Tom Peyer. So I was gushing to Tom and I said – and I wasn’t trying to get a job – “I’m not looking to write a monthly comic but if I ever was interested, Doom Patrol was the only thing I could imagine writing.” He said, “Actually, Grant’s leaving in a few months, why don’t you send me a sample script?” In his introduction he wrote that he was desperate to find somebody. I’m not sure why. But that’s why he responded to me. He sent me one or two of Grant’s scripts I could look at for reference. Neil sent me one of his scripts, I recall. Maybe I looked at an Alan Moore script, or maybe that was later. But I got a sense of how people do it and what I wanted to do. And the script that I sent him was the first story. He liked it enough that he said it should be my first issue. I wrote it based on what he told me [about how] Grant was going to end it, and where I would want to go with it. Basically I just had them move to Rhinebeck. [laughs] I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to move the cast who are weird super cool wild strange superheroes to some nice little village in upstate New York. [laughs]

Pollack also discusses working with editor Lou Stathis, somebody I met when he first got in fandom but only today did it occur to me to check if he has a Wikipedia entry – he does, and it’s quite a good one.

(13) 3 FREE MONTHS OF APPLE+ TV, [Item by Daniel Dern.] Good news, you can enjoy Ted Lasso. So-so news, you can watch Foundation. “Apple Subscriptions Are Free Right Now, so Go Watch Severance, Already” urges The Inventory.

… The idea of paying for yet another streaming service is exhausting, I get it. So how about this: How about you don’t pay for it?… 

The article sends you to a Best Buy site. The fine print says, “After free trial, plan automatically renews at $4.99/month until cancelled.”

(14) VARIABLE STAR. Jesse Hudson makes an interesting observation in his “Review of The This by Adam Roberts” at Speculiction.

Adam Roberts is that maddening sportsman who has trophies on the shelf to show he is a winner but doesn’t always show up to play. With an irregular training scheme and dynamic mentality, he instead depends on innate talent to win matches. Naturally, this results in inconsistency; he’s not always a threat for the podium. For the reader, this means they never know what they are going to get with Roberts—certainly one type of appeal. With 2022’s The This we get the chance to A) test the accuracy of Google’s search algorithm, and B) answer the question: has Roberts once again channeled his innate talent to make a run for the winner’s circle, or is it just another quiet bowing out in the group stage?…

(15) MINI-REVIEW OF DOCTOR STRANGE AND THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Our local SF group has been to see Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. In case anyone has not yet seen it, here is a more-or-less-spoiler free mini-review.

Action and spectacle from start to finish, director Sam Raimi takes viewers on a relentless ride.  As Bond was once accused: ‘all this running around. It’s so exhausting.’ Best bits include the death of Picard and an appearance of the cybermen…. What’s not to like, if you have the stamina.

Also trailer here.

(16) PHONE HOME? The headline oversells the story, however, the information is of interest: “Astronomer may have detected the source of the famous extraterrestrial ‘Wow!’ signal” at MSN.com.

Astronomers may have found the source of the ‘Wow!’ signal, an enigmatic radio transmission from space that some believe could have originated from an alien world.

The signal – a 72 second-long radio burst that was 20 times stronger than its background emissions – was first detected in 1977, stopping at just over a minute because that is the longest duration that the Big Ear radio telescope was able to observe. Scientists believe it is likely that the signal would have lasted longer.

Drawing attention to the mysterious transmission on a printout, astronomer Jerry R. Ehman circled it and jotted down ‘Wow!’ next to it. Since then, it has become of primary interest in the search for extraterrestrial life, although it has never been heard since.

… Focusing on G- and K-type stars – which are very similar to our own Sun – Caballero identified one, known as 2MASS 19281982-2640123, which appears to be the most likely source of the signal – 1,800 light-years from Earth.

“Despite this star is located too far for sending any reply in the form of a radio or light transmission, it could be a great target to make observations searching for techno-signatures such as artificial light or satellite transits”, Caballero writes.

Out of the 66 stars identified, two other stars, with temperatures and brightness very similar to our Sun, were also highlighted as worth investigating, as well as 14 more with a potentially similar temperature but unknown brightness. Caballero suggests, though, that since all these stars are located in the same part of the sky, the entire area is an ideal source for techno-signatures and should be explored.

Caballero’s findings appeared May 6 in the International Journal of Astrobiology….

(17) DRAW A LINE THROUGH THEM. “The end of men: the controversial new wave of female utopias” is discussed by Sandra Newman in the Guardian.

All the men are gone. Usually this is conceived as the result of a plague. Less often, the cause is violence. Occasionally, the men don’t die and the sexes are just segregated in different geographical regions. Or men miraculously vanish without explanation.

Left to themselves, the women create a better society, without inequality or war. All goods are shared. All children are safe. The economy is sustainable and Earth is cherished. Without male biology standing in the way, utopia builds itself.

I’m describing a subgenre of science fiction, mostly written in the 1970s-90s. It was once so popular it was almost synonymous with feminist SF. In 1995, when the Otherwise Award, a literary prize for “works of science fiction or fantasy that expand or explore one’s understanding of gender”, gave five retrospective awards, four of the works were set in such worlds: Suzy McKee Charnas’s Motherlines and Walk to the End of the World, and Joanna Russ’s The Female Man and When It Changed. The fifth was Ursula K Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, about a world whose inhabitants are all of the same sex.

Recently there has been a revival of the genre in radically different form, with titles including Lauren Beukes’s 2020 novel Afterland, Christina Sweeney-Baird’s 2021 thriller The End of Men, and my own new release, The Men. I think the way that these contemporary novels diverge from their earlier counterparts tells us something useful about gender politics in the 21st century. Part of the story, too, is a growing opposition to the basic premise, a conflict in which my novel has been recently embroiled….

(18) YES, SEX REX EVERYTHING. “’Prehistoric Planet’ shows another side to fearsome predator Tyrannosaurus Rex: The tender lover” at MSN.com.

…Working with producer Jon Favreau and the team that created the photorealistic visual effects used in  films like “The Lion King,” the series shows the period’s now-extinct creatures as if a film crew was shooting them 66 million years ago. 

Famed British naturalist commentator David Attenborough adds to the natural history heft with his narration, illuminating the T-Rex courtship ritual. The scene begins with an older male T-Rex, injured after battling a Triceratops, meeting a female at a river bed.

The meeting could lead either to fight or fancy. But the male shows a courtship posture and  utters a low-frequency vocalization to the receptive female. This behavior, like many of the “Prehistoric Planet” dinosaur depictions, is derived from phylogenetic bracketing – studying the extinct dinosaur’s living family tree, from birds to crocodiles and alligators.

“We’ve got scientific reasons for being very confident for this behavior,” says Naish. “We discussed this behind the scenes in the most detailed way, preparing for this. So in terms of exactly what to show, we knew exactly what was happening. And it’s the first time people will see this type of behavior realistically, from a natural history background.”…

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] So who DOES put all the arrows back in the slots…? Ryan George considers, “The Guys Who Set Up Ancient Booby Traps”.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/14/22 Scroll Me A Pixel I’ll Be Back For Breakfast

(1) BRAM STOKER LOSERS UNITE. Scott Edelman has famously lost many Bram Stoker Awards – and he has the card to prove it. He invites tonight’s unlucky nominees to become card-carrying members of this group.  

Tonight’s Bram Stoker awards ceremony means — there will be winners — but also losers. If any of the new Never Winner losers created tonight would like this Susan Lucci of the HWA to mail you one of my “It is an honor to be nominated” cards — ask, and one will be sent your way!

However — if you’re a previous Never Winner in Denver tonight who already owns of one of these cards and should lose yet again — please track down Lee Murray, whom I have deputized to punch you a new hole. Good … luck?

(2) LIVE LONG ENOUGH, YOU’LL PROSPER. Somtow Sucharitkul tells Facebook readers why a recent Star Trek episode rang a bell. BEWARE SPOILERS.

SPOILER COMING – But For What Exactly?

The Enterprise discovers that a comet is hurtling toward a planet that doesn’t have warp drive and whose civilization they cannot interfere with because of the prime directive. Presently, they discover that the comet is alive, and has some kind of intelligence. The only way to save the planet is to find a way to communicate with the comet, and it turns out that the key is to sing to it a folk song from someone’s homeworld….

Yes, this is the plot of the new episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, but it’s also the plot of my 2001 Star Trek Novel, “Do Comets Dream?” which is itself vaguely adapted from a tale told in my Inquestor series, “The Comet That Cried for Its Mother”, originally published in AMAZING….

(3) IT’S A MASSACRE. “Everything on Broadcast TV Just Got Canceled” Vanity Fair declared yesterday. It will feel like that if you watched sff on CW.

In the ever-changing television landscape, this past Thursday was a particularly tough time to be a broadcast television show. Per TV Guide, 17 broadcast television shows were officially given the axe by their respective networks yesterday. “It’s the Red Wedding at WBTV/CW today,” tweeted showrunner Julie Plec, whose CW shows Legacies and Roswell, New Mexico were both among the carnage. “Much more to say, but not today. Loads of gratitude coming for fans and cast and crew in future tweets. But today, we mourn.” 

The CW was hit particularly hard, with nine shows getting chopped in all. Along with Legacies and Roswell, New Mexico, the teen-focused network said goodbye to Dynasty after five seasons, In The Dark after four seasons, and Batwoman after three seasons. The network is currently up for sale, which may explain why it was particularly ruthless with its cancellations and downsizing its slate from 19 original scripted series to 11 original scripted series ahead of next fall….

(4) WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT, ALFIE? James Wallace Harris reprints and analyzes Alfred Bester’s vintage analysis of the genre in “Blows Against The Empire: Alfred Bester’s 1953 Critique of Science Fiction” at Classics of Science Fiction (a 2020 post).

…Bester is looking back over what many have called the Golden Age of Science Fiction and burning it down with his blaster. I wish I could find the fan reaction to this essay from back in the 1950s, but Google only returns seven results. And for those who aren’t familiar with the name Alfred Bester, he wrote two books in the 1950s that became classics: The Stars My Destination and The Demolished Man. At the time Bester had a reputation for being a writing stylist and innovator. So getting a dressing down from one of our own must have been painful.

I wonder what I would have thought if I read and understood this essay in 1962 when I first began reading science fiction. Science fiction wasn’t popular then like it is today. Science fiction was one step up from comic books, and you were called retarded (their word back then) by your peers if you read comics. I remembered also being called a geek and zero for reading SF. Back then those terms were the social kiss of death. I had two buddies that read science fiction in high school and I remember being very hurt by George’s mother when she sat is down one day and gave us a serious talk about evils of reading science fiction. George’s mother was a sophisticated, well-educated, widely traveled woman, and I was always impressed with her thoughts, so it really hurt when she tried to convince us we were reading trash. She implied reading SF was a sign we were emotionally and intellectually immature. We thought we were Slans…

(5) OPPOSING BOOK BANS. “More than 25 Organizations Join ALA’s ‘Unite Against Book Bans’ Campaign”. Among them are the Authors Guild and Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

The American Library Association this week announced that more than 25 major organizations, including a host of publishers and author and bookseller groups, have joined its Unite Against Book Bans campaign, an effort to help communities defend the freedom to read. The ALA launched the campaign in April to raise awareness about the surge in book bans and other legislation targeting the work of schools and libraries, with support from the Steve and Loree Potash Family Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

“Our partners and supporters are critical in moving the needle to ultimately bring an end to book bans,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. “It’s time that policymakers understand the severity of this issue. ALA is taking the steps necessary to protect individuals’ access to information, but we can’t do this alone.”…

“Three-quarters of the 1,100 plus books currently banned in public schools in the United States have been written by authors of color, LGBTQ authors, or other traditionally marginalized voices,” said Authors Guild CEO Mary Rasenberger, in a statement.

(6) NAMING CONVENTIONS. He has a point –

(7) PERSONAL TAXONOMY. Joe Vasicek, often quoted here in the Sad Puppy days of 2015, shares what he calls “an interesting personal discovery” at One Thousand And One Parsecs.

…I just made a very interesting personal discovery, gleaned from the data on my reading of the Hugo and Nebula winning books. Of the 110 novels that have won either award, I have now read all but 16 of them, which is enough data to get some representative results.

One of the best predictors that I will DNF a book is whether the author is a childless woman. Of the 18 books written by childless women, I have DNFed all but three of them (Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh, which I read years ago and would probably DNF today, and Network Effect by Martha Wells, which is a genuinely entertaining read, and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke, which I haven’t read yet). For childless men, it’s a little bit more of a crapshoot: of the 31 books written by childless men, I’ve DNFed 16 of them and read 11, but only 6 of those are books I thought were worth owning.

Conversely, one of the best predictors that I will enjoy a book is whether the author is a mother. Of the 20 books written by mothers, I have DNFed only 6 of them and read 8, all of which I think are worth owning. Of the six remaining books that I haven’t read yet, I will almost certainly finish four of them, and may finish all six. The only book by an author I haven’t already read and enjoyed is The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon, which I am currently reading and will probably finish next week…

(8) LIGHT MY FIRE. “Firestarter (2022) vs. Firestarter (1984): Which Stephen King adaptation burns brightest?” – Clark Collis supplies his answer at Entertainment Weekly. The summaries of each film make good reading, too.

… The 1984 film stars Barrymore as Charlie McGee, a young girl with pyrokinetic powers who is fleeing from a sinister government organization called “The Shop” with her father Andy, played by David Keith. Andy has been training Charlie to use her powers properly by getting her to turn bread into toast with her mind but it is the unfortunate Shop agents who get browned as Barrymore’s character periodically sets them ablaze. The supporting cast is notable for a few reasons. Oscar-winners Art Carney and Louise Fletcher play a couple who befriend Charlie and Andy, while Martin Sheen portrays the head of the Shop just a year after his performance in David Cronenberg’s adaptation of King’s The Dead Zone. Finally, another Academy Award-winner, George C. Scott, is inexplicably cast as the seemingly First Nation assassin John Rainbird, who has a fondness for punching his targets’ noses into their brains and an unhealthy interest in our heroine…

(9) TOM SWIFT. Edge Media Network supplies an intro as “First Trailer Drops for New CW Series ‘Tom Swift’ Featuring a Black Gay Lead Character”.

…”Tian Richards already made his debut as Tom Swift on one of the best episodes of ‘Nancy Drew’ yet, but get ready to see him in a whole new light on his own show,” EW said.

As previously reported at EDGE, being gay was a prominent part of the character’s depiction when he made a guest appearance on “Nancy Drew.” Sparks flew between Tom Swift and “Nancy Drew” regular character Nick (Tunji Kasim), leading to an onscreen kiss….

(10) WHEN I USE A WORD. At Tor.com, CD Covington’s series on sff linguistics finally tackles the 500-lb gorilla: “On Tolkien, Translation, Linguistics, and the Languages of Middle-earth”.

Since I started this column in 2019, I’ve been avoiding one famous—possibly even the most famous—example of using linguistics in SFF literature: the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s not because I don’t like Lord of the Rings—quite the opposite, in fact. It’s just such an obvious topic, and one which people have devoted decades of scholarship to exploring. Hell, my Old English prof has published academic scholarship on the topic, in addition to teaching a Maymester class on the languages of Middle-earth. But I suppose it’s time to dedicate a column to the book that first made me think language was cool and to the man who wrote it.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2010 [By Cat Eldridge.] I’m starting this essay by acknowledging that everyone has their favorite Robin Hood. My all-time favorite is the one in the Robin of Sherwood series, Robin of Loxley as played by Michael Praed. And yes, I acknowledge that the second Robin, Robert of Huntingdon as performed by Jason Connery was quite excellent too. Richard Carpenter did himself proud with this series. 

But I’m here tonight to talk about one of my favorite Robin Hood films (the other being Robin and Marian.) Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood premiered in the States on this date twelve years ago. It was written by Brian Helgeland who had done mostly horror films before this but was also the screenwriter of the beloved A Knight’s Tale. He along with Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris were responsible for the story.

It was produced by Ridley Scott, Brian Grazer and Russell Crowe. Yes the actor who played Robin Hood here helped produce it. So let’s turn to casting. 

I think Crowe made an outstanding Robin Longstride and Cate Blanchett as Marion Loxley was a great casting move. Other interesting casting here includes Max von Sydow as Sir Walter Loxley and William Hurt as William Marshal. This was not a cast of unknowns. I thought Matthew Macfadyen as the Sheriff of Nottingham was interesting as the actor usually had much lighter roles. Mark Addy as Friar Tuck was well cast. 

It was a very expensive undertaking costing at least two hundred million and it took in least three hundred and twenty-five million, so it likely just broke even.

And what was the opinion of critics at the time? Well it was decidedly mixed with Deborah Ross of UK’s Spectator on the side of the dissenters: “Scott decided, I think, to get away from the whole campy thing in tights business and wanted to make this ‘real’. So there is sweat and dirt and rats at the cheese and even bad teeth, which is fair enough, but it is also joyless.” 

But Richard Klein of Shadows on the Wall liked it: “Ridley Scott and his usual Oscar-winning crewmates turn the familiar old English legend it into a robust, thumping epic. The pacing is a bit uneven, but it keeps us thoroughly engaged.”

Let’s finish off with Jeffrey Westhoff of the Northwest Herald:  “Robin Hood doesn’t become the swashbuckling bandit of Sherwood until the final moments, when the tag “And so the legend begins” appears. You may walk away liking this Robin Hood well enough, but wishing you had seen the sequel.” 

It gets just a fifty eight percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 14, 1929 Kay Elliot. The actress who shows up in “I, Mudd” as the android form of Harry Mudd’s wife Stella Mudd. SPOILER ALERT (I promised our OGH I’d put these in. It’s possible someone here hasn’t seen “I, Mudd”.) Need I say she ends getting the upper hand in the end? She also had appearences in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as Miss Prendergast in “The It’s All Greek to Me Affair” episode and multiple roles on Bewitched. That’s it, but she died young. (Died 1982.)
  • Born May 14, 1933 Siân Phillips, 89. Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam in David Lynch’s Dune, Cassiopeia in Clash of The Titans, Grandmother in A Christmas Carol, Charal in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, and The Red Queen in Alice Through the Looking Glass. And I’m about to see her on Silent Witness.
  • Born May 14, 1935 Peter J. Reed. A Vonnegut specialist with a long track history starting with Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.; The Vonnegut Chronicles: Interviews and Essays that he wrote with Marc Leeds; Kurt Vonnegut: Images and Representations again with Leeds again. He also wrote a handful of essays such as “Hurting ’til It Laughs: The Painful-Comic Science Fiction Stories of Kurt Vonnegut” and “Kurt Vonnegut’s Bitter Fool: Kilgore Trout”. (Died 2018.)
  • Born May 14, 1944 George Lucas, 78. For better and worse, he created the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade are fine, the others suck royally in my opinion. Later Star Wars films are meh though I adore the original trilogy. And let’s not forget THX 1138. So you ask, what are my favorite works that he was involved in? LabyrinthRaiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back and Willow. Yes Willow. Oh, and The Young Indiana Jones series which I really, really loved. 
  • Born May 14, 1945 Francesca Annis, 77. Lady Jessica in David Lynch’s Dune, Lady Macbeth in Roman Polanski’s Macbeth. I know only two roles, but what a pair of roles they were! She also appeared in Krull as The Widow of The Web but I’ll be damned if I can remember her in that role. 
  • Born May 14, 1952 Kathleen Ann Goonan. Her Nanotech Quartet is most excellent, particularly the first novel, Queen City Jazz. Her only Award was given for In War Times which garnered a John W. Campbell Memorial Award. She’s wrote an interesting essay on the relationship between sf and music, “Science Fiction and All That Jazz”. (Died 2021.)
  • Born May 14, 1952 Robert Zemeckis, 70. He’s responsible for some of my favorite films including the Back to the Future trilogy, The Muppet Christmas CarolThe WitchesWho Framed Roger Rabbit and the savagely funny in a twisted sort of way Death Becomes Her. So what’s your favorite films that’s he had a hand in? 
  • Born May 14, 1955 Rob Tapert, 67. I’d say he’s best known for co-creating Xena: Warrior Princess. He also produced and/or wrote several other television series including Hercules: The Legendary JourneysM.A.N.T.I.S. and American Gothic. Tapert also co-created the prequel series Young Hercules which I loved. He’s married to actress Lucy Lawless.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Let Nick Mamatas introduce Tom Gauld’s strip for today’s Guardian.
  • Next, here’s Gauld’s latest comic for New Scientist.

(14) CLUES OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Keith Roysdon remembers newspaper crime comic strips (remember Steve Roper and Mike Nomad?) “Black and White and Noir All Over: A Brief History of Vintage Newspaper Crime Comic Strips” at CrimeReads.

Who could have known that newspaper comic strips and crime stories, including noir, were a match made in heaven?

Newspaper comic strips are an artistic genre that’s largely forgotten now. The strips that remain are for the most part humor strips like “Garfield.” A handful of dramatic strips are still published.

But serial dramatic strips were once a staple of the newspaper comics page. Many of them were soap opera-ish strips like “Mary Worth” and “Apartment 3-G.” To say that drama strips were slow moving is an understatement. I wish I could remember who joked that they came back to read “Apartment 3-G” after decades away and the caption read, “Later that afternoon …”

But that deliberate pace – well, maybe not quite that deliberate – was perfect for teasing out a good crime storyline. And crime and noir look awesome in black and white newsprint.

(15) MUSIC WITHOUT THE SPHERES. “Peace is Still Weirder Than War” asserts Laurie Penny in a very entertaining essay about Eurovision. Admittedly, nothing to do with sff except a brief reference to Catherynne M. Valente’s Space Opera at the end.

…Britain is a lot worse at Eurovision than you’d think. We’ve spent half a century distracting the world from our post imperial decline by flinging out wild handfuls of pop music and self deprecating humour, so we really ought to be able to deploy them here. Sadly, we’re scuppered every time by our even more fundamental fear of looking daft in front of the French.

We’ve made worse choices for the same reason.

But reasons are not excuses, and the land of Monty Python, David Bowie and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band should be able to do better than another basic bearded guitar boy. We do have the best tv commentary by miles, after Graham Norton seamlessly accepted the baton from the great Terry Wogan, proving once again that Britain’s comfort zone is making fun of other people.  Yes. Hi.

…For related reasons, Ukraine are likely to win this year. Russia can sulk all they like, just like they did when Ukraine stood down from Eurovision in 2015with the reasonable excuse that they were busy being invaded by Russia. in 2016, Ukraine was back, and it won, narrowly beating Russia, whose entry looked like someone repurposed a rave club as a re-education camp without redecorating. Not only did Ukraine win, it won with a song called ‘1944’, about the Soviet genocide of the Crimean Tartars. Russia has not forgotten this. State Television spent a long time denouncing Eurovision as a degenerate spectacle of homosexuality, which did as much good as denouncing bears for defecating in the woods.

But Russia has never really been any good at Eurovision. This year they’re not even going, partly because the Kremlin has no interest in any competition it can’t cheat at, but mostly because they got banned. It’s hard to get banned from Eurovision, but invading a neighboring country and massacring tens of thousands of people will do the trick….

(16) STOP, NOW, WHAT’S THAT SOUND? ScreenRant suggests “10 ‘Subtly’ Scary Horror Movies (For Horror Fans Sick Of Jump Scares)”. A Bradbury adaptation leads the list!

Sometimes the unknown or the unnatural can be much more terrifying than any masked slasher with a chainsaw.

….It’s not so much that these films rely on someone hiding in the shadows and yelling boo, but rather the audience knows something is wrong but can’t identify what. While jump scares and other such tactics might be sparsely employed, the real horror in these movies comes from both knowing and not knowing what might be in store.

Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

Sometimes, the scariest movies are the ones where nobody dies, and Disney’s Something Wicked This Way Comes is a brilliant example. Based on the book by Ray Bradbury, the film tells the story of what happens when a mysterious carnival lurks into town one windy October.

Led by the mysterious Mr. Dark, Cooger and Dark’s Shadow Show has the uncanny ability to grant anyone’s wishes and make their dreams come true. But like with most things Disney, all magic comes at a price. When two boys and the local librarian are able to see through the illusions, a slow-burning battle with the freakshow for the souls of the town takes place.

(17) THE HUNDREDTH SHADE. Paul Weimer reviews “Gregory A. Wilson’s Grayshade” at A Green Man Review.

… We meet Grayshade in the midst of an assassination that doesn’t go quite to plan, and a relatively atypical assassination target at that – the outwardly flighty socialite wife of a political powerful man, which in itself seems odd to Grayshade. We come to Grayshade at a point in his career where he is extremely experienced and very good at what he does. This is no “coming of age” novel where we follow the assassin through his first mission; rather this is someone who has past adventures and missions behind him, which grounds him for when things do not go according to his expectations. Things spiral out from the assassination not going right, to the point where Grayshade starts to question his purpose, his role, and the entire Order.

This makes a lot of the novel about information control and dissemination, which in turn reminds me of Wilson’s gamemastering….

(18) BAD BACK TO THE FUTURE. At Galactic Journey, Jessica Holmes gives us an recap of the latest (in 1967!) episode of Doctor Who. “[May 14, 1967] Ben And Polly To The Departure Gate (Doctor Who: The Faceless Ones [Part 2])”.

…We left things off with the Doctor having a sudden attack of a bad back, and things only get worse, with Spencer disabling Jamie and Samantha within moments of the episode’s opening.

Now would be a good time to finish them off, you’d think, but instead he sets up some sort of death ray to kill them… eventually. The thing moves so slowly the trio would probably have time for a round of golf before the ray fries them. Though mostly paralysed, Samantha conveniently has enough control of her faculties to get her mirror from her bag and hand it to Jamie, who uses it to reflect the beam and blow up the death ray machine.

With the machine destroyed, their partial paralysis wears off, which doesn’t make an awful lot of sense to me. I thought it was the freezing pen that paralysed them? And I’m still not sure what that device on the Doctor’s back did to him…

(19) AND YOU ARE THERE. This fossil is in a way a snapshot: “How the dinosaurs died: New evidence In PBS documentary” – the Washington Post digs into the story.

…The ground started shaking with intense vibrations while water in the nearby sea sloshed about in response. The sky filled with burning embers, which drifted down and set fire to the lush primordial forest.

Thescelosaurus panicked and looked to flee — but it was too late. Everything changed in a heartbeat as a 30-foot-high wave of mud and debris came racing up the seaway from the south, sweeping away life and limb in the process. The dinosaur was caught in the destructive deluge, its leg ripped off at the hip by the devastating surge.

That moment — 66 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period, when an earth-shattering asteroid ended the reign of the dinosaurs — is frozen in time today through a stunning fossil found last year at the Tanis dig site in North Dakota. This perfectly preserved leg clearly shows the skin, muscle and bones of the three-toed Thescelosaurus.

While the details of the death scenario described above are embellished, they’re based on remarkable new findings and accounts by Robert DePalma, lead paleontologist at Tanis.

“We’re never going to say with 100 percent certainty that this leg came from an animal that died on that day,” the scientist said. “The thing we can do is determine the likelihood that it died the day the meteor struck. When we look at the preservation of the leg and the skin around the articulated bones, we’re talking on the day of impact or right before. There was no advanced decay.”…

(20) DRAWN WITHOUT DRAWERS. CBR.com remembers: “Star Wars: Why George Lucas Had to Fight for Chewbacca Not to Wear Shorts”.

…So he wanted McQuarrie to go beyond humanoid and try to do more of an animal design for Chewbacca. Lucas’ recall led him to a recent issue of Analog Magazine, which had a short novel in it by a pre-Game of Thrones George R.R. Martin called “And Seven Times Never Kill a Man.” Artist John Schoenherr had designed some characters for Martin’s story and they made it to the cover of the magazine…

Lucas sent the drawings to McQuarrie and basically said, “Draw Chewbacca like that” and so that’s what McQuarrie did…

The problem with having basically a giant dog as a character is that dogs, well, you know, don’t have pants. McQuarrie kept coming up with some designs with the character in pants and Lucas kept saying no and that carried over to when the film started production. Lucas’ specific vision of what Chewbacca would look like required him to not have pants and that was a bit of a strange thing for the studio executives at the time.

During the DVD commentary for the 2004 release of Star Wars on DVD, Mark Hamill recalled what Lucas had to go through with regard to Chewbacca’s lack of clothes. “I remember the memos from 20th Century Fox. Can you put a pair of lederhosen on the Wookiee?’ All they could think of was, ‘This character has no pants on!’ This went back and forth. They did sketches of him in culottes and baggy shorts.”…

(21) BEING SNARKY. Would Lewis Carroll readers with an unassigned two hours or so available be interested in the opportunity to watch this complete production? “The Hunting of the Snark” posted by Official London Theatre.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/25/22 Mrs. File You’ve Got A Lovely Pixel, Scrolls As Sharp As Her Are Something Rare, But It’s Sad, She Doesn’t Read My Books, I’d Give Her Free Copies, But It’s No Good To Beg

(1) SALE OF TWITTER PROMPTS RESPONSE. It was announced today that Elon Musk will buy Twitter. Cora Buhlert tweeted her reaction to the news. Thread starts here. Here are excerpts.

Meanwhile, John Scalzi noticed a disturbance in the Force:

(2) LITFEST 2022. LitFest Pasadena runs from April 30-May 14. The science fiction/fantasy related programming is on April 30 – see the graphic below. (Yes, in the Mountain View Mausoleum – what could be cheerier?)

(3) NOT IN MY BACK YARD. The New Yorker reports local angst about “The Plan to Make Michigan the Next Space State”. And the monied entrepreneurs who might want to carry out the project.

…I had come to visit… because Granot Loma had been selected as the location for a proposed rocket-launch site, as part of a plan called the Michigan Launch Initiative. If built, the site, along with two other facilities, would constitute the first spaceport in the Midwest. The site planned for Granot Loma would host vertical launches, through which rockets carrying satellites and other payloads—not human passengers—would be sent into low-Earth orbit. The second facility is a horizontal-launch site at the Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport, about two hundred miles north of Detroit, where aircraft carrying satellites would take off from runways. Operations for both sites would be supported by the third facility, a command-and-control center, which would be situated in the Upper Peninsula, in Chippewa County, east of Marquette.

The spaceport plan is the brainchild of the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association (mama), a trade association founded in 2007. mama estimates that the command-and-control center will be operational by 2023, and that all three sites of the spaceport will be up and running by 2026. Their initiative has been polarizing: some locals believe that the spaceport will benefit the economy and attract more talent to the state, while others, particularly those who live close to Granot Loma, worry about the potential disruption of having rocket launches in their back yards….

(4) CRUSH HOUR. Commuters, SYFY Wire can tell you where the dino traffic will be heaviest: “Colin Trevorrow Jurassic World Dominion map”.

America has a little dinosaur infestation problem in Jurassic World Dominion. How bad is this prehistoric predicament? Director and co-writer Colin Trevorrow made it quite plain with a nifty map of all the once-extinct animals now running loose across the United States in the upcoming blockbuster (out in theaters this June). “It’s a problem,” tweeted the filmmaker, 

(5) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. [Item by John King Tarpinian.] As we know, James Earl Jones and Carrie Fisher were in a series of movies together, Star Wars.  Until they appeared on an episode of the TV series, Big Bang Theory, they had never met.  Since Jones’ Star Wars performance was as a voice actor he was never on-set.

(6) JAMES BAMA (1926-2022). Artist James Bama died April 24 at the age of 96 reports DeathObits.com. He was inducted into the Illustrators Hall of Fame in 2000.

James Bama, a legendary and super talented American Artist/Painter, who painted Doc Savage, Frankenstein, the crew of the Enterprise and so many other fantasy/sci-fi subjects, has sadly and unexpectedly passed away on Sunday, April 24, 2022, leaving his entire family, close relatives, and groups of friends in total devastation and sadness.

… Beginning with The Man of Bronze (1964), he created a powerful set of 62 Doc Savage Bantam Books paperback covers, frequently employing actor Steve Holland, star of TV’s Flash Gordon (1954–55), as a model. He also created the box art for Aurora’s monster model kits, such as King Kong, Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Mummy. His work is collected in The Western Art of James Bama (Bantam Books, 1975) and The Art of James Bama (1993). Brian M. Kane’s James Bama: American Realist (Flesk, 2006) has an introduction by Harlan Ellison.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1999 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge] Twenty-three years ago on this evening on FOX, the David Duchovny-written-and-directed X-Files’ “The Unnatural” episode first aired. It is not connected to the underlying mythology of series, and thus is one of their Monster of the Week stories.

We’ve aliens (as in Roswell), baseball and the KKK. Well, only the latter are the monsters here if you ask me as the aliens definitely aren’t. We would have had Darren McGavin here too but he suffered a stroke after he was cast as one of the principal characters, but after the stroke, he was replaced by M. Emmet Walsh whom you’ll recognize as Bryant in Blade Runner. McGavin never filmed anything again. 

It had a notable cast, so I’ll list it: Frederic Lane, M. Emmet Walsh, Jesse L. Martin, Walter T. Phelan, Jr.  Brian Thompson and Paul Willson.

Reception for this episode is exceptionally good. Them Movie Reviews said of it that, “It is truly a credit to Duchovny that The Unnatural works at all, let alone that it turns out as a season highlight. There are any number of memorable and striking visuals in The Unnatural. The sequence where Dales discovers Exley’s true nature is one of the most distinctive shots in the history of The X-Files.”

While Doux Reviews stated “Think about it for a minute. This is an episode about baseball players in the 1940s. They are not only black in a time when being so could be life threatening, they are aliens. Our two heroes are, for the most part, nowhere to be seen throughout this hour. This story should never have worked. It did and it does on every subsequent re-watch. Written and directed by David Duchovny, this is an earnest hour of television. Duchovny took a premise that could have been silly and inane beyond the telling of it and chose to take the whole thing seriously. Because he does, we do as well.”

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give the series as a whole an outstanding eighty-six percent rating. 

The X-Files are free to steam on Amazon Prime. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 25, 1897 Fletcher Pratt. He’s best remembered for his fiction written with L. Sprague de Camp, to wit, Land of Unreason, The Carnelian Cube and The Complete Compleat Enchanter. I’m rather fond of The Well of the Unicorn and Double Jeopardy. I see that he and Jack Coggins were nominated for International Fantasy Award for their Rockets, Jets, Guided Missiles and Space Ships, a non-fiction work published in 1951. Anyone known about this? He got nominated for two RetroHugos, the first at MidAmericCon II for “The Mathematics of Magic” novella, the second there for another novella, “The Roaring Trumpet”.  (Died 1956.)
  • Born April 25, 1907 Michael Harrison. English writer of both detective and genre fiction. He wrote pastiches of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Poe’s C. Auguste Dupin. His most remembered work is In the Footsteps of Sherlock HolmesThe London of Sherlock Holmes and The World of Sherlock Holmes. He was also a noted Sherlock Holmes scholar, being a member of both the Baker Street Irregulars of New York, and the Sherlock Holmes Society of London. He wrote three genre novels — The Bride of FrankensteinHigher Things and The Brain. (Died 1991.)
  • Born April 25, 1915 Mort Weisinger. Comic book editor best known for editing  Superman during the Silver Age of comic books. He also served as story editor for the Adventures of Superman series. Before that he was one of the earliest active sf fans, working on fanzines like The Planet (1931) and The Time Traveller (1932) and attending the New York area fan club known as The Scienceers. (Died 1978.)
  • Born April 25, 1950 Peter Jurasik, 72. Ambassador Londo Mollari on Babylon 5 who would be Emperor one day and die for his considerable sins. (Yes spoiler, but there can’t be anyone here who hasn’t seen Babylon 5.) He has also very short genre credits other than Babylon 5— Doctor Oberon Geiger for several episodes on Sliders and Crom, the timid and pudgy compound interest program, in the Tron film.
  • Born April 25, 1952 Peter Lauritson, 70. Long involved with the Trek franchise starting with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. He became the producer of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and supervising producer for Deep Space NineVoyager and Enterprise. He directed three episodes of those series, including the Hugo Award-winning (at ConFrancisco)  “The Inner Light”, as well as being second unit director for two Trek films.
  • Born April 25, 1969 Gina Torres, 53. The first thing I remember seeing her in was Cleopatra 2525 where she was Helen ‘Hel’ Carter. (I really liked that series.)  Her first genre was in the M.A.N.T.I.S. pilot as Dr. Amy Ellis, and she actually was in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions as a character named Cas but I’ll frankly admit I remember almost nothing of those films. She’s had a number of DC voice roles including a recurring Justice League Unlimited run as Vixen / Mari McCabe. And of course Zoe in the Firefly verse. Lastly anyone remember her on the Angel series as Jasmine?
  • Born April 25, 1981 Silvia Moreno-Garcia, 41. She’s the publisher of Innmouths Free Press , an imprint devoted to weird fiction. Not surprisingly, she co-edited with Paula R. Stiles for the press the Historical Lovecraft and Future Lovecraft anthologies. She won a World Fantasy Award for the She Walks in Shadows anthology, also on Innsmouth Free Press. She was a finalist for the Nebula Award in the Best Novel category for her Gods of Jade and Shadow novel, which won a Sunburst and Ignyte Award. And finally with Lavie Tidhar, she edits the Jewish Mexican Literary Review. Not genre, but sort of genre adjacent. Canadian of Mexican descent.
  • Born April 25, 1988 Jonathan Bailey, 34. Here for being Psi on the Twelfth Doctor story, “Time Heist”,  the best story I think that they did. He, in what I think was his only other genre role, was Lewis is Alice Through the Looking Glass.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro – a comic that consistently lives up to its name. Today’s joke is about vampires.

(10) CLASSIC CAR FOR THE 21ST CENTURY. If this vehicle was in LA they could re-enact the famous photo of the shuttle driving by the big donut on the roof of Randy’s Donuts. “Drive to the airport in your own Endeavour Space Shuttle” in the NZ Herald.

Consultant John Powell and his friend dairy worker Paul Mulligan have converted a 2006 Nissan Presage station wagon into the Endeavour Space Shuttle to raise money for Starship children’s hospital.

They said this is an ideal vehicle for Kiwis “to the airport and beyond”.

The “shuttle” has clocked just under 200,000km on its wheels but as for flight time, it’s still brand new with less than a minute on air.

“Other than some split-second flight along the bumpy New Zealand highway, it’s brand new,” he said.

“It’s very hard to find a spaceship with less than 200k on the clock,” Powell said.

it has three rocket engines driven by a fire extinguisher generating incredible but unmeasurable thrust.

… However, the downside is the vessel does use unleaded 91 petrol as a fuel source, the price of which seems to be flying higher than the Endeavour but this fuel type is a whole lot cheaper than the liquid hydrogen which retails roughly for about $10 per kg.

(11) STAR TREK NEXT GENERATION ANIMATED SERIES CLASSIC STYLE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A fan-made animation has surfaced of the ST:TNG scene where the Borg kidnap Picard. It’s made in the style of the Filmation Star Trek: The Animated Series. Spot on. 

(12) THINKING BIG. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] OK, this is unashamedly sciencey but is also the metaphysical stuff of science fiction: Greg Egan’s Quarantine for example, but then you’d expect me to say that, my being a Science Fact & Fiction Concateneer.  One of my favourite YouTube channels is PBS Space Time: always good to start the week with a bit of physics before moving on to the serious stuff of bio- and geoscience. This channel has a few million followers so quite a few do like its hard science.

Sometimes episodes have maths and sometimes the maths is a tad heavy. But equally, some episodes are maths free. This week’s episode is one such.  Further – while some say biology is the most amorphous of the four core sciences (maths being the fourth) – physics too can have its unquantifiable moments even if part-spurred by real experimentation. This week’s episode of PBS Space Time looks at such an area of fuzzy physics when asking the question “Does the Universe Create Itself?”…  Apparently, we could be living in a universe that is playing Reverse 20 Questions with itself.

(13) WAYBACK TO THE FUTURE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Barry Norman reviews Back To The Future on the BBC in December 1985, and said while he liked the film, “If you give more money to Steven Spielberg, that can’t be helped.  It’s already been established that he’s a descendant of King Midas.”

(14) SOCK IT TO MOMA. Stephen Colbert interviews Oscar Isaac and we learn a Dune movie relic is now part of the MOMA Collection: “Oscar Isaac Gifted His Modesty Sock To “Dune” Director Denis Villeneuve”.

(15) ROLLING ROLLING ROLLING. From three years ago, OK Go’s music video “This Too Shall Pass” is staged around an epic Rube Goldberg Machine.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, Andrew Porter, Anne Marble, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie. 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 Kendall. We’ve done the short version of this title; today we’re going all the way!]

Pixel Scroll 4/7/22 Earth, Be Glad! An April Scroll Is Born

(1) GAIMAN AND DORAN. The Guardian has made the full video of the livestream event with Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran available online now, introducing their new graphic novel Chivalry from Dark Horse Comics. In comic shops now, in bookstores next week.

(2) AS TIME GOES BY. Rachel Birenbaum, author of a time travel novel, discusses why time travel stories remain an important part of sf. “On Time Travel and Metafiction” at CrimeReads.

…Every iteration begins with rules. The author has to create their universe and dictate how long time travel lasts, how it’s done, how it might affect the protagonist physically, and more. Most tales send people hurtling forwards or backwards with orders not to affect anything but their target. While all the rules are different, the reason behind time travel is almost always the same: regret….

(3) ONE DOES NOT SIMPLY. “LOTR Fitness Challenge Asks You To Walk From The Shire To Mordor To Rid Evil From The World”GameSpot has the details.

Looking to get in shape but need some extra motivation? A new gamified exercise program challenges players to log workouts in the real world as they virtually follow The Lord of the Rings characters Frodo and Sam from The Shire to Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring.

The Conqueror Virtual Challenges has teamed up with Warner Bros. for a new series of five virtual challenges based on The Lord of the Rings movies. Anyone can take part in exercises of varying lengths, with the ultimate goal of making it all the way to Mordor to destroy the ring.

The Conqueror Challenges app has been updated with a Middle-earth map that has five challenges to unlock: The Shire, The Fellowship, Mines of Moria, The Eye of Sauron, and the Mordor. Participants can run, cycle, swim, or walk to reach the set distance, and each stop has stories and postcards detailing Frodo and Sam’s journey. The distances are listed below….

(4) COUNT HIM OUT. “Doctor Who’s Steven Moffat ‘can confidently say’ he’s done showrunning”. Radio Times has quotes.

“I think I can confidently say I’m done showrunning Doctor Who,” Steven Moffat (who was in charge of Doctor Who from 2010 to 2017) told RadioTimes.com at the Radio Times Covers Party.

“Everyone can stop worrying. I did it for six seasons on the trot. And I cannot imagine going back into doing that. I cannot. I simply cannot picture it.”

He added: “I loved the show. I don’t want anyone to think I didn’t love the show. And I loved every second I spent on it, although some of them were hellish. But I’ve done that. I have done it and I did it a lot.

“So no offence and no disrespect and certainly no disdaining of wonderful memories. But no, I will not be showrunning Doctor Who again.”

(5) AN APPEAL TO AUTHORS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Russia has been using SF/F fiction for a few years now to promote propaganda against Ukraine.

Even back in 2006 at the Eurocon in Ukraine it was possible to see how Russian publishing dominated over Ukrainian in that country. However, since then Russian propaganda against Ukraine has appeared in fiction including fantasy.

For example Eduard Limonov in Kyiv Kaput has written an alternate universe history of Ukraine that ends up predicting events in the future.

Mockups Design

Chytomo – the Ukrainian publishing news site – has created a pie chart of Russian publishers and the number of such propaganda books they publish.

Western writers may wish to note — once all this ghastly business is over — who these publishers are and avoid them translating western works. The chart is here.

Ukranian fan Borys Sydiuk also commented, “This is an important article, it explains why we ask authors not to provide foreign rights to Russian publishers.” “50 propaganda books against Ukraine and incitement to hatred against Ukrainians from Russian publishers” at Chytomo.

…Another problem was propaganda.

 Since 2009, Russia has been actively publishing books on the war between Russia and Ukraine in the «fantasy» genre, as well as «historical» and nonfiction literature about the «collapse of the Ukraine project» and mocking the independence of the «non-existent» Ukrainian people, «artificial» Ukrainian language.

These books can be easily found on the Internet for purchase and in services for open access books. In addition, children’s books began to offer more and more poems about the «great Russian army» that was coming to free everyone. 

The import of books from Russia was limited in 2017 due to their aggressive content. Only books with anti-Ukrainian printed materials were restricted, such as publications aimed at eliminating Ukraine’s independence, promoting violence, inciting ethnic, racial, religious animosity, carrying out terrorist attacks, and violating human rights and freedoms. The State Committee of television and radio broadcasting of Ukraine was entrusted with the functions of examination and issuance of permits.

The State Committee of television and radio broadcasting of Ukraine processed more than 45,000 applications during this period: issued 39,416 permits to import  publishing products, 5,275 refusals and revoked  2,227 previously issued permits.

Among the publications not allowed on the territory of Ukraine, many publications belong to authors who have been included in the lists of persons who pose a threat to national security — in particular, Zakhar Prilepin, Alexander Dugin and Alexander Tamonikov. The latter is «famous» because the list of anti-Ukrainian publications includes 20 of his works at once, not just with propaganda elements, but those whose sole purpose is to incite hatred against Ukraine and Ukrainians.

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1978 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Much to my surprise, forty-four years ago a series called Quark aired as mid-season replacement on NBC. Why surprises me is that it only lasted eight episodes. I swear I remember it lasting longer than that. 

It was created by Buck Henry, co-creator of Get Smart. It was co-produced by David Gerber who had been responsible for the series version of The Ghost & Mrs. Muir (try not to hold that against him) and Mace Neufield who after being a talent agent for such acts as The Captain and Tennille became responsible for The Omen as the producer. 

The cast was Richard Benjamin, Tim Thomerson Richard Kelton Tricia Barnstable, Cyb Barnstable, Conrad Janis, Alan Caillou and Bobby Porter. The Barnstable twins got a lot of press, mostly for the fact that they didn’t wear much and really, really could not act. They previously appeared as the Doublemint Twins often with identical canines. I kid you not. 

Ok, so how is the reception? Oh you have to ask? Seriously? One reviewer summed it up this way: “Only lasting eight episodes, it is eight episodes too many. The idea of spoofing science fiction is a given and there are only a handful that get it right, but this is a spectacularly awful show.” And another said succinctly that “A viewer seeking something a little different may find the series entertaining, but low expectations are a must.” 

It has no rating at Rotten Tomatoes. It might be streaming on Crackle and Philo, two services that I’ve never heard of. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 7, 1909 Ray Quigley. Here solely for the three covers that he did for Weird Tales in the Forties. He didn’t do a lot of pulp work that I can find but these three are amazing. He did the December 1938 cover with the Dracula like figure here, the September 1940 cover with the nightmarish skull-faced Bombers here, and finally, the May 1942 cover with the really scary living ship here. The latter issue had Henry Kuttner, Robert Bloch and Dorothy Quick listed on the cover! (Died 1998.)
  • Born April 7, 1915 Henry Kuttner. While he was working for the d’Orsay agency, he found Leigh Brackett’s early manuscripts in the slush pile; it was under his guidance that she sold her first story to Campbell at Astounding Stories.  His own work was done in close collaboration with C. L. Moore, his wife, and much of they would publish was under pseudonyms.  During the Forties, he also contributed numerous scripts to the Green Lantern series. He’s won two Retro Hugos, the first at Worldcon 76 (2018) for “The Twonky” short story, the second at Dublin 2019 for “Mimsy Were the Borogoves”. (Died 1958.)
  • Born April 7, 1928 James White. Certainly the Sector General series which ran to twelve books and ran over thirty years of publication was his best known work. I’ve no idea how many or even which ones that I read but I’m certain that it was quite a few as I really, really loved this series. I’m not sure what else by him I’ve read but I’m equally sure there were other novels down the years. He was a 1996 Worldcon guest of honor at L.A.con III. It appears that only a handful of his novels are available from the usual suspects. (Died 1999.)
  • Born April 7, 1939 Francis Ford Coppola, 83. Director / Writer / Producer. THX 1138 was produced by him and directed by George Lucas in his feature film directorial debut in 1971. Saw it late at night after some serious drug ingestion with a redhead who was seriously into Morrison — strange experience that was. Other genre works of his include Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a episode of Faerie Tale Theatre entitled “Rip Van Winkle”, Twixt (a horror film that I’m betting almost no one here has heard of), Captain EO which featured Michael JacksonMary Shelley’s FrankensteinJeepers Creepers and Jeepers Creepers 2.
  • Born April 7, 1945 Susan Petrey. Another who died far, far too young. Only three of her stories were published during her lifetime. More of her work appeared in the Gifts of Blood collection published after her death. She was nominated, also posthumously, for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and her story ”Spidersong” was nominated for the Hugo Award at Denvention Two. The Susan C. Petrey Clarion Scholarship Fund annually awards scholarships to both the Clarion & Clarion West workshops and also supports an instructor at Clarion West as a Petrey Fellow. (Died 1980.)
  • Born April 7, 1946 Stan Winston. He’s best known for his work in Aliens, the Terminator franchise, the first three Jurassic Park films, the first two Predator films, Batman Returns and Iron Man. (He also did the Inspector Gadget film which I still haven’t seem.) He was unusual in having expertise in makeup, puppets and practical effects, and was just starting to get in digital effects as well upon the time of his passing. I think we sum up his talent by noting that his four Oscars include a pair he won for Best Visual Effects and Best Makeup for his work on Terminator 2: Judgment Day. (Died 2008.)
  • Born April 7, 1951 Yvonne Gilbert, 71. Though best remembered for her controversial cover design of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s 1983 single “Relax”, she did a number of great genre covers including Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea for Bantam in 1991 and Beagle’s A Dance for Emilia for Roc in 2000. (CE) 

(8) WORLD BUILDER. “How Long ’til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin (a review)” by Brenton Dickieson at A Pilgrim in Narnia.

…Thus, while Jemisin has become a leading figure, her influence and prestige have come through two decades of unrelenting commitment to sophisticated world-building, culturally rich, character-driven literary prose, and a remarkable capacity for experimental writing. This concentration of character-voice combined with a disciplined approach to speculative world-building appears in some of Jemisin’s best writing in How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?

The true Jemisin fan is going to be particularly thrilled to participate in some of her short story experiments that later become novels or full series. “The Narcomancer” has a tinge of a melancholy sweetness, a story of conscience and vocational risk that becomes part of the Dreamblood series (which I haven’t read yet). “Stone Hunger” was exciting for me to read, for I was privileged to see how Jemisin began to conceptualize the extremely complex character make-up of The Broken Earth Trilogy–and how deeply implicated the characters are in that universe with the speculative world itself. And “The City Born Great” has all the terrifying brilliance and bracing goodness of The City We Became–an experiment in allegorical fiction that I have argued (here and here) is more successful in this short story than in the full novel….

(9) THIS JUST IN. From the authors themselves: “Getcher new Lee & Miller news right here!”

Three Liaden Universe® titles to be released by Baen in 2023
Scout’s Progress will be reissued in a new mass market/ebook edition March 2023
Salvage Right* will be published in Summer 2023
Trade Lanes** will be published in Fall 2023

Liaden Universe® Constellations audiobook editions
Tantor Media will be releasing the first four Liaden Universe® Constellations, starting in June.  Go to this link, and click on the individual titles to preorder.

Trade Lanes audiobook edition
We are in contact with our publisher and hope to have news regarding the Trade Lanes audiobook edition soon.  As soon as we have it, you’ll have it.  Promise

_________________
*Salvage Right is set on Tinsori Light after the events described in Neogenesis. The cast of characters includes, but is not limited to: Jen Sin yos’Phelium, Seignur Veeoni, Tocohl Lorlin, Lorith, Tolly Jones, Hazenthull nor’Phelium, Theo Waitley

**Fair Trade is the third book following the adventures of Jethri Gobelyn ven’Deelin, who made his first, admittedly awkward, bow in Balance of Trade; his second, somewhat more nuanced, in Trade Secret.

(10) ON STAGE AT CALTECH. A musical adaptation of Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon will be performed by Theater Arts at Caltech (TACIT) in Pasadena’s Ramo Auditorium on six times next week – see full details at the link.

From the Earth to the Moon

From the writers of the record-breaking Caltech musical Boldly Go! comes a fresh new science fiction musical based on the Jules Verne classic written in 1865. Gauntlets are thrown, headlines made, duels waged, and alliances put to the test in this dynamic imagining of spaceflight in the late nineteenth century directed by Brian Brophy.

…TACIT, as Theater Arts at Caltech is familiarly known, typically prepares and performs two or three plays each academic year. Recent productions include She Kills Monsters, Avenue Q, Rent, Company and many original projects.

Members of the Caltech community have the opportunity to learn all aspects of the theatrical craft—acting, stage crew, set construction, wardrobe, light and sound operation, properties, house management, and publicity—and to work with professionals in areas of theater design: set, light, sound, costume, and music. This is a hands-on approach, not classroom theory. It also provides an appreciation of the theatrical literature and exposure to the literature of many languages (in translation). 

(11) HOLY GUACAMOLE. The New York Times invites you to “Meet DALL-E, the A.I. That Draws Anything at Your Command”.

At OpenAI, one of the world’s most ambitious artificial intelligence labs, researchers are building technology that lets you create digital images simply by describing what you want to see.

They call it DALL-E in a nod to both “WALL-E,” the 2008 animated movie about an autonomous robot, and Salvador Dalí, the surrealist painter.

OpenAI, backed by a billion dollars in funding from Microsoft, is not yet sharing the technology with the general public. But on a recent afternoon, Alex Nichol, one of the researchers behind the system, demonstrated how it works.

When he asked for “a teapot in the shape of an avocado,” typing those words into a largely empty computer screen, the system created 10 distinct images of a dark green avocado teapot, some with pits and some without. “DALL-E is good at avocados,” Mr. Nichol said….

(12) HE’S NOT HEAVY, HE’S MY BOSON. The W boson is not bigger on the inside, but it’s bigger than anticipated: “’Huh, That’s Funny’: Physicists Delighted by New Measurement for the W Boson” reports Gizmodo.

A collaboration of hundreds of scientists have precisely measured the mass of the W boson, an elementary particle responsible for the weak nuclear force. The researchers found, to their surprise, that the boson is more massive than predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics, the working theory that describes several of the fundamental forces in the universe….

(13) A BAD DAY IN NORTH DAKOTA A LONG TIME AGO. “Tanis: Fossil of dinosaur killed in asteroid strike found, scientists claim”. BBC News says the artifact will be seen in a Sir David Attenborough production to be broadcast April 15.

Scientists have presented a stunningly preserved leg of a dinosaur.

The limb, complete with skin, is just one of a series of remarkable finds emerging from the Tanis fossil site in the US State of North Dakota.

But it’s not just their exquisite condition that’s turning heads – it’s what these ancient specimens are purported to represent.

The claim is the Tanis creatures were killed and entombed on the actual day a giant asteroid struck Earth.

The day 66 million years ago when the reign of the dinosaurs ended and the rise of mammals began.

Very few dinosaur remains have been found in the rocks that record even the final few thousand years before the impact. To have a specimen from the cataclysm itself would be extraordinary.

The BBC has spent three years filming at Tanis for a show to be broadcast on 15 April, narrated by Sir David Attenborough.

Sir David will review the discoveries, many that will be getting their first public viewing.

Along with that leg, there are fish that breathed in impact debris as it rained down from the sky.

We see a fossil turtle that was skewered by a wooden stake; the remains of small mammals and the burrows they made; skin from a horned triceratops; the embryo of a flying pterosaur inside its egg; and what appears to be a fragment from the asteroid impactor itself….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Ryan George, in “Morbius Pitch Meeting,” a spoiler-filled episode, says that Dr. Michael Morbius drinks vampire bat blood which causes him to bulk up “like a Calvin Klein underwear model.” But the producer tells the screenwriter to add many more references to Spider-Man, Vulture, and other Marvel characters because “we’re in the MCU now” at Sony.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cleo Campion, Daniel Dern, Borys Sydiuk, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(14) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

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

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

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

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

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

(15) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

(16) COMICS SECTION.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Science Fiction Novel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hollywood Reporter’s story adds:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pixel Scroll 2/22/22 Credentials On Your Knee, Pixel, Scroll And Ray

(1) EASTERCON WANTS YOUR DRABBLES. The UK’s national science fiction convention, Eastercon, aka Reclamation 2022, is running April 15-18 at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Centre London Heathrow. Guests of Honor are Mary Robinette Kowal, Phillip Reeve, Tasha Suri and Nicholas Whyte. Here’s how you can join in the fun, wherever you may be.

We wanted to do something a little different with Reclamation and so are resurrecting an age-old fannish tradition of drabbling. Depending on how many we receive, we may make posters to display round the convention, and publish them in the convention readme booklet. We’re looking for tiny, standalone speculative fiction tales, of exactly 100-words each.

What is a drabble?

A drabble is a piece of fiction that is exactly 100 words long, excluding its title. If you imagine a novel to be a full three-course meal, a drabble is more of an amuse-bouche: a single, bite-sized delight that gets your taste buds primed for the next course.

For more information, go to: https://reclamation2022.co.uk/drabbles/

(2) YOUR NEXT TBR. Amal El-Mohtar is back with a batch of reviews in “Otherworldly” at the New York Times.

…Delilah S. Dawson’s THE VIOLENCE (Del Rey, 498 pp., $28) takes place in a post-Covid Florida, on the cusp of a very different pandemic. It’s 2025, and Chelsea Martin lives an apparently idyllic life in a gated community with her wealthy husband, two daughters and small fashionable dog. In reality, Chelsea’s husband is physically and emotionally abusive, and has systematically cut her off from any friends or support systems apart from her cruel and self-absorbed mother. But as a new disease called the Violence spreads — causing brief, individual episodes of amnesiac rage during which the infected beat the nearest living thing to death — Chelsea sees an opportunity to free herself and her daughters….

(3) ROLL ‘EM, ROLL ‘EM, ROLL ‘EM. Head ‘em up and move ‘em out! The Hollywood Reporter says Paramount is determined to have a Star Trek movie for Christmas 2023 but they don’t have a script and no stars are attached to the project. “Why Paramount’s ‘Star Trek’ Sequel Reveal Surprised Its Own Stars”.

On Feb. 15, Paramount (nee ViacomCBS) announced that it would boldly go where it hasn’t managed to go before — a fourth iteration in a stalled 21st century feature strategy for the Star Trek franchise. During the Paramount investor day, producer J.J. Abrams — who rebooted the sci-fi franchise for the big screen in 2009 — revealed that the USS Enterprise was being readied for a new flight. “We are thrilled to say that we are hard at work on a new Star Trek film that will be shooting by the end of the year that will be featuring our original cast,” Abrams said.

The proclamation came as a surprise, not just to observers who have been watching the movie studio haltingly try to revive Trek on the big screen for years but to the actors and their representatives as well.

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that most, if not all, teams for the franchise’s primary players — who include Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldaña and John Cho — were not aware that an announcement for another film was coming, much less that their clients would be touted as a part of the deal, and certainly not that their clients would be shooting a movie by year’s end. Insiders say that Pine, who plays Captain Kirk, is the first to enter into early negotiations as he is the lynchpin to the project.

The hope is to begin filming in the fall in order to make the Dec. 22, 2023, theatrical release. The script is still being worked on, according to sources, and there is no green light or budget in place. In fact, the budget will now likely have to account for talent deals that may be supersized. Industry insiders say that Paramount let go of negotiating leverage in order to have a key chess piece as it courts Wall Street investors.

(4) CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR. On the Jeopardy! National College Championship, Friday, Andrew Porter witnessed a contestant miss this one:

Category: Science Fiction

In this “colorful” author’s “An Absolutely Remarkable Thing,” alien sculptures called the Carls pop up all over the Earth.

Wrong question: Who is John Green?

Correct question: Who is Hank Green?

(5) THE INVENTOR OF BOOKS ON TAPE. The Los Angeles Times paid tribute to the late Duvall Hecht, whose daily grind to L.A. led to Books on Tape – he died February 10 at the age of 91.

Duvall Hecht was somewhere between his banking job in Los Angeles and his home in Newport Beach when he realized he’d heard the same song for the third or fourth time. On the news stations, the daily report had grown stale and repetitive. The commercials were numbing and endless.

It was, he told The Times years later, the most “deadly two hours” in his day, a grinding commute devoid of any intellectual stimulation.

In a flurry of entrepreneurial magic, he sold his 1965 Porsche, hired a college drama coach and created what would become volume No. 1 in the soon-to-be-massive Books on Tape catalog, a recording of George’s Plimpton’s football tale, “Paper Lion.”

“It never once seemed like a wacky idea to me,” he said in 2001, shortly after selling his startup to Random House for an estimated $20 million.

Hecht, a man of varied interests, died Feb. 10 at his home in Costa Mesa, his wife, Ann Marie Rousseau, said. He was 91.

… Customers would rent book tapes for 30 days, and since Hecht didn’t charge a deposit, they were on an honor system to return them. For the most part, he said, customers held up their end of the bargain and mailed back the tapes.

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1993 [Item by Cat Eldridge]  

Babylons one, two and three were sabotaged and destroyed. Number four vanished without a trace twenty-four hours after becoming operational. To this day no one knows what happened to it. — John Sinclair to Lyta Alexander in Babylon 5: The Gathering 

Twenty-nine years ago on PTEN, Babylon 5: The Gathering aired, the first of six feature length films that would happen in the franchise. And thus J. Michael Straczynski’s vision of this SF series came to be. This was written by him and directed by Richard Compton who had minor acting roles in Trek’s “The Doomsday Machine” and “The Enterprise Incident”.  Really minor acting roles. 

It was executive produced by Douglas Netter and Straczynski. Netter would between the third and fourth seasons of Babylon 5 found Netter Digital, a CGI special effects company. Unfortunately Straczynski was his only client, so the end of the Babylon 5 related projects such as Crusade meant the end of the company. 

Actual production was by Robert Latham Brown and John Copeland. The former has worked with Mel Brooks, George Lucas, Paul Verhoeven and Steven Spielberg. The latter really hasn’t done anything interesting outside of the Straczynskian universe. 

Babylon 5 always had a sprawling cast and this was no exception — here we had Michael O’Hare, Tamlyn Tomita, Jerry Doyle, Mira Furlan, Peter Jurasik, Andreas Katsulas and Patricia Tallman as the principal performers. 

It is said that following the success of the movie, Warner Bros. Television commissioned the series for production in May of that year, as part of its Prime Time Entertainment Network. The series would go on the air the next air in January. 

The pilot was quite different from the series. For example, Patricia Tallman who played Lyta Alexander here was replaced by Andrea Thompson as Talia Winters but would return later in the series, first as a recurring character and then as a regular. And the First Officer who was Laurel Takashima as played here by Tamlyn Tomita was replaced for the series by Claudia Christian who played Susan Ivanova. 

Straczynski later rejiggered it into a different version which is longer and adds footage that was obviously not seen in the original version including Kosh briefly speaking to Sinclair.

Reception by critics at the time was not overwhelming. The Boston Globe reviewer who saw it said that “Great special effects do not make for great science fiction. Writing is what makes TV series cook. Unfortunately, writing is the single biggest problem haunting Babylon 5.” And Variety said “It’s going to be a close call whether to make “Babylon 5” a series or just leave it as this one-shot telefilm. As a stand-alone, “Babylon 5” falls short of the mark, but it’s a serviceable first episode.”

It currently holds a sixty-eight percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 22, 1917 Reed Crandall. Illustrator and penciller best known for the Forties Quality Comics‘ Blackhawk (a DC property later) and for stories in myriad EC Comics during the 1950s.  In the late Sixties, he did the illustration work on King Features Syndicate’s King Comics comic-book version of the syndicate’s Flash Gordon strip. He’s been inducted into Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame. (Died 1982.)
  • Born February 22, 1925 Edward Gorey. I’m reasonably sure that his animated introduction to the PBS series Mystery! was my first encounter with him. I will recommend Gorey CatsThe Haunted Tea-Cosy: A Dispirited and Distasteful Diversion for Christmas and The Doubtful Guest. Ok if he’s not genre but if he’s still fun and delightfully weird. Oh, and do go read Elephant House: Or, the Home of Edward Gorey, with superb photographs and text by Kevin McDermott. (Died 2000.)
  • Born February 22, 1929 James Hong, 93. Though not quite genre, he became known to audiences through starring in The New Adventures of Charlie Chan in the late Fifties. Genre wise, his first role was in Godzilla, King of the Monsters! voicing Ogata/Serizawa. He then pops up in The Satan Bug as Dr. Yang and next is seen playing Ho Lee in Destination Inner Space. You’ll no doubt recognize Colossus: The Forbin Project where he’s Dr. Chin but I’ll bet you’ve never heard of, oh wait you have, Blade Runner in which he’s Hannibal Chew and Big Trouble In Little China which I love in which he’s wizard David Lo Pan. It’s back to obscure films after that with next up being Shadowzone where he’s Dr. Van Fleet and Dragonfight where he’s Asawa. He’s next in The Shadow as Li Peng and he’s Che’tsai in Tank Girl.  He’s Mr. Wu in the very loose adaption of the classic The Day the Earth Stood Still
  • Born February 22, 1930 Edward Hoch, The lines between detective fiction and genre fiction can be awfully blurry at times. ISFDB listed him but I was damned if I could figure out why considering he’s known as a writer of deceive fiction who wrote several novels and close to a thousand short stories. It was his Simon Ark character who was the protagonist of Hoch’s first published story and who was ultimately featured in thirty-nine  of his stories that made him a genre writer as Ark is the cursed by God immortal doomed to wander forevermore and solved crimes. (Died 2008.)
  • Born February 22, 1937 Joanna Russ. Is it fair to say she’s known as much for her feminist literary criticism as her SF writings? That The Female Man is her best known work suggest my question really isn’t  relevant as there may be no difference between the two. She was for a long time an influential reviewer for Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction where I think it would fair to say that you knew clearly what she thought of a given work. (Died 2011.)
  • Born February 22, 1953 Genny Dazzo, 69. She attended the first Star Trek Convention in New York. She was later involved in the local SF con, Lunacon. Moving out to LA, she was on the committee for all of the LA Worldcons as well as many Westercons, Loscons, and AnimeLA. Fan Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 31 and Loscon 27 (with husband Craig Miller).
  • Born February 22, 1972 Duane Swierczynski, 50. Though a mystery writer by trade, he’s also worked as a writer at both DC and Marvel on some very impressive projects. He did writing duties on the second volume of time traveling soldier Cable, penned the Birds of Prey as part of The New 52 relaunch and wrote an excellent Punisher one-off, “Force of Nature”.

(8) REMEMBER THE BOSS. Last November, a Mark Twain Signed Copy of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court went for $68,750 at auction. Interestingly, bidding started at only $2,400 – there’s a video but it’s not a very visual experience.

Signed on front pastedown, “Taking the pledge will not / make bad liquor good, but it will improve it. / Mark Twain / Oct / 06.”

(9) SUBGENRES. At CrimeReads, Richard Thomas explains what “New Weird and “hopepunk” fiction are all about in “Time to Discover Your New Favorite Sub-Genre of Fiction”, which you might not have guessed are areas of expertise for an author whose forthcoming collection is titled Spontaneous Human Combustion.

As a reader, and viewer, of contemporary dark stories, I’m most drawn to work that does not sit nicely in the middle of a major genre. I’m drawn to the periphery, the edges, the shadows, and cobwebbed corners. And these three subgenres—neo-noir, new-weird, and hopepunk—all have those traits in common. They are looking to pull us in with techniques, tropes, rules, and histories that are familiar–so we’ll know how to access these works, how to set up our expectations. And then…they subvert those expectations. Not with deus ex machina twists that come out of nowhere, but with unique moments, surprises that feel fated, and endings that are earned. And I think it’s okay to be polarizing, too. As a writer, I’d rather have half my audience hate what I did and the other have love it, then have 90% think it was just okay. And I think the films coming out from A24 and Neon, television shows like Squid Game and Midnight Mass, and books being written by award-winning authors such as Stephen Graham Jones, Usman T. Malik, A. C. Wise, Brian Evenson, and Kelly Robson are doing the same thing. They are honoring the past, pouring themselves into the work, and then taking us someplace new, inspired, and unsettling. And isn’t that why we’re here?…

(10) STAPLEDON ON FILM. Chicago Reader’s Maxwell Rabb praises “Last and First Men”.

Before his untimely death, the prophetic Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhansson completed his first and final film, exploring a delicate space between the literary and the cinematic for a science fiction classic. Last and First Men is the composer’s reimagined narrative of Olaf Stapledon’s triumphant sci-fi novel by the same name. Jóhansson’s haunting adaptation facilitates a chilling link between two distinct humanities spanning across two billion years…. 

(11) HOME IMPROVEMENT. “Now Witness the Power of This Armed and Fully Operational Space Toilet” – John Scalzi explains his bathroom upgrade at Whatever. How can you not read a post that has such a perfect headline?

Last year Krissy decided that she wanted to upgrade our bathroom suite, and not in just a “new hand towels and shower curtain” way — a whole revamp. I was fine with this, I said, if I got what I wanted out of it: a supercool space age “intelligent toilet” with all the bells and whistles. It took a while, because 2021 was The Year of Supply Chain Issues, but the new bathroom is 90% completed and the Space Toilet is now installed and operational….

(12) THE STARS MY DETONATION. “A supernova could light up the Milky Way at any time. Astronomers will be watching” promises Nature.

Masayuki Nakahata has been waiting 35 years for a nearby star to explode.

He was just starting out in science the last time it happened, in February 1987, when a dot of light suddenly appeared in the southern sky. This is the closest supernova seen during modern times; and the event, known as SN 1987A, gained worldwide media attention and led to dramatic advances in astrophysics.

Nakahata was a graduate student at the time, working on what was then one of the world’s foremost neutrino catchers, the Kamiokande-II detector at the Kamioka Underground Observatory near Hida, Japan. He and a fellow student, Keiko Hirata, spotted evidence of neutrinos pouring out of the supernova — the first time anyone had seen these fundamental particles originating from anywhere outside the Solar System.

Now, Nakahata, a physicist at the University of Tokyo, is ready for when a supernova goes off. He is head of the world’s largest neutrino experiment of its kind, Super-Kamiokande, where upgrades to its supernova alert system were completed late last year. The improvements will enable the observatory’s computers to recognize when it is detecting neutrinos from a supernova, almost in real time, and to send out an automated alert to conventional telescopes worldwide….

(13) THEY CAN DIG IT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] At The Space Review, John Strickland looks at the logistics of Elon Musk’s Mars plans, including Musk’s claim that he will have to take one million tons of stuff to Mars to make the mission work and how large Martian farms would have to be to supply enough food for the mission. “Building Musk’s path to Mars”.

…Partial self-sufficiency depends heavily on two issues: energy production and food production, which itself depends on energy production. In addition, both depend on the ability to build industrial facilities to make fuel and materials, and to construct pressurized habitats to house crew and provide growing areas for food plants.

Most people greatly underestimate the effort it will take to build growing areas and grow food crops on Mars or in space. On Earth, a one-square-kilometer (247-acre) farm gets a maximum of about a one gigawatt of sunlight on a clear day, at noon in midsummer. Much less than this gets to the plants due to clouds, etc., and the plants only use about 1% of what they get to make plant tissue, only part of which is actually edible food. To create one square kilometer of pressurized growing space will require a huge amount of structural materials, and most of that will need to be made locally. Even so, Elon Musk estimates that he will need to transport one million tons of cargo to Mars before a settlement is relatively self-sufficient.

It is important to realize how large the SpaceX cargo capacity to an operating Mars development base will be. Most NASA concepts envision barely enough mass—typically a few tens of tons—to support a crew for one short mission. The high SpaceX mass transport capacity will allow a large amount of industrial equipment to be sent. This would include equipment designed to smelt Mars minerals into metals, alloy them, and then to turn the structural metals into pressurized habitats, drill rigs, and other kinds of equipment. Large amounts of other artificial materials, such as plastics and polymers, will also be produced. Tunnel boring and lining equipment would also be included. Operations will be limited more by manpower than by lack of equipment and supplies.

Musk has a goal of building the large fleet of Starships needed to carry the required amount of equipment and supplies to get a settlement going. If an advanced Starship stage can carry 200 tons of cargo to the surface of Mars, 5,000 trips of such vehicles to Mars would be able to carry the one million tons. Ignoring the prior build-up phase, if he had 500 Starship stages with the tankers to support them, he would be able to transport that much during just ten Mars launch windows or in about 22 years. In actuality, the number of flights would be increasing from year to year, as the 500 stages could carry 100,000 tons during each window, and the existing crew would not be able to handle such a large volume of materials without a carefully planned ramp-up sequence….

(14) BIG BIRD. “Scottish fossil of flying reptile leaves scientists ‘gobsmacked’” says Yahoo!

A fossil jawbone peeking out from a limestone seashore on Scotland’s Isle of Skye led scientists to discover the skeleton of a pterosaur that showed that these remarkable flying reptiles got big tens of millions of years earlier than previously known.

Researchers said on Tuesday this pterosaur, named Dearc sgiathanach, lived roughly 170 million years ago during the Jurassic Period, soaring over lagoons in a subtropical landscape and catching fish and squid with crisscrossing teeth perfect for snaring slippery prey.

Its scientific name, pronounced “jark ski-an-ach,” means “winged reptile” in Gaelic.

With a wingspan of about 8 feet (2.5 meters), Dearc was the Jurassic’s largest-known pterosaur and the biggest flying creature that had inhabited Earth to that point in time. Some pterosaurs during the subsequent Cretaceous Period achieved much greater dimensions – as big as fighter jets. But Dearc shows that this scaling up had its origins much earlier….

(15) RELIEF PITCH ON THE WAY. Ryan George came out with his first Pitch Meeting in a month for a film that isn’t genre (Uncharted Pitch Meeting) and says at the end that he is leaving Screen Rant – but it’s barely an inconvenience! He’s starting his own channel on March 10.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Encanto,” the Screen Junkies say the newest Disney animated film has “so many characters that even the characters can’t keep up with the characters” and at least the fifth villain in a Disney cartoon named Bruno.  And how did it take Disney this long to find out that capybaras are adorable?

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

Pixel Scroll 1/21/22 Just A Come-On From The Scrolls On Pixel Avenue

(1) THE MIND’S EYE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Carmen Maria Machado was interviewed by Mikaella Clements in a Washington Post story about whether fiction writers see their characters as they’re writing about them. “Gillian Flynn, Carmen Maria Machado and other authors discuss their creative process”.

…Carmen Maria Machado describes a similar experience with “Especially Heinous,” a short story from her collection “Her Body and Other Parties.” “I was in the shower shampooing my hair and I suddenly had this image of a woman with bells ringing in her eye sockets.” Machado says that her deeply visual imagination infiltrates every element of her life. “It’s like there’s something playing inside of my head all the time, when I’m listening to music, walking around and writing as well.”…

(2) FINALLY IN THEATERS. Kurt Loder tells what he thinks of the film based on the late Vonda McIntyre’s Nebula-winning novel The Moon & the Sun in “Review: The King’s Daughter” at Reason.com.

… Considering the film’s cast (Brosnan, William Hurt, Kaya Scodelario, Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing) and its probable CGI costs (even though much of the budget was covered by Chinese production companies), it’s odd that The King’s Daughter is debuting in the joyless wastes of January. (The picture was shot in 2014 and quickly strangled in its crib, for various movie-biz reasons and maybe the 2018 decision by the Chinese government to come down hard on Fan for major tax fraud). In any case, here it finally is….

Author McIntyre went to France in 2014 to witness location filming at Versailles.

(3) WRITER DRAWS THE LINE. Star Trek writer David Mack has announced that he will not attend the Farpoint Convention in Maryland next month because the convention will not require attendees to provide proof of vaccination and/or a recent negative COVID test. “David Mack – Why I’ve withdrawn from Farpoint Con 2022”.

…On Tuesday, January 11, I emailed Farpoint via the programming chair, Cindy Woods, to express my concerns and reservations concerning this lax approach to health and safety. My message read, in part:

“Per item 2, I am seriously troubled by the concom’s decision to not require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for attendees, guests, and staff.

“The proffered explanation that this decision was made out of concern about the privacy of attendees’ private health information rings hollow. Many other small, fan-run and volunteer-supported conventions are managing to check vaccination and test status for their attendees without it being an undue burden on them or an imposition on their attendees and guests.

“I would strongly urge the Farpoint team to reconsider this section of its COVID policy immediately, and to plan for verification of attendees’ vaccination statuses and/or recent negative test results.”

Cindy replied that the Farpoint committee intended to discuss the matter again during its next meeting, scheduled for the weekend of January 15-16, and that she would share with them my concerns and inform me of their conclusions.

Their response and final decision was, to be blunt, disappointing….

(4) TAKEDOWN RECTIFIED. The Fantasy Book Critic blog has had its service restored after a flood of wrong DMCA takedown notices by the Link-Busters anti-piracy service caused it to be removed by host Blogger. Link-Busters subsequently acknowledged their mistake.

(5) PICARD SEASON 2. The new season of Star Trek: Picard premieres March 3, 2022 on Paramount+.

(6) TENTH DOCTOR COMIC. Titan Comics has revealed Cover A for Doctor Who: Special 2022 by artist Adam Hughes.

Doctor Who: Special 2022 is written by Dan Slott (Spider-Man) and illustrated by Christopher Jones and Matthew Dow Smith.

Writer Dan Slott is set to delight fans with an epic story that sees companion Martha Jones captured by the insatiable Pyromeths, and her only hope for survival is to keep them distracted with sensational untold tales of the Tenth Doctor facing off against his greatest foes – both classic and new!

Doctor Who: Special 2022 Comic Book One-Shot (SC, 64pp, $7.99) hits stores on April 27, 2022. Pre-order from your local comic shop and Forbidden Planet (UK/Europe).

(7) ROBOPOP. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Yesterday was the the 25th anniversary of Daft Punk’s debut album “Homework,” which might be worth noting given both how the band has been reflected in sci-fi movies, and given the fact that they took on stage personas as robots. One of the most science-fictional bands ever to hit the mainstream. “The real story of how Daft Punk became the robots” at DJ Mag.

Daft Punk have taken on a robot form for so long that it’s hard to remember a time that they didn’t don their famous helmets for public appearances. Although the official line has been well told — the one with an exploding discoball — in this excerpt from his new book, Daft Punk’s Discovery: The Future Unfurled, Ben Cardew tells the real story of how the enigmatic French duo transformed into robots, according to those closest to them at the time…

… The helmets, according to Martin, were very heavy and “quite a faff”. But they looked fantastic. Bangalter and De Homem-Christo’s robotic outfits initially comprised a bespoke helmet each, a gauntlet that allowed them to control the helmet’s electronics, a pair of gloves and a “spaceman backpack” to hide the wiring and hardware. All of this was created by special effects expert Tony Gardner from initial designs by Alexandre Courtès and Martin Fougerol, artist friends of the band. …

(8) NOW YOU KNOW THE REST OF THE STORY. Radio Times keeps track of all the Doctor Who loose ends and celebrates whenever one of them gets tied up – no matter how many years it takes! “Doctor Who teaser confirms what happened to Peri”.

Nicola Bryant played companion Peri Brown opposite Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor in the 1980s, but the character appeared to meet a dark fate in her final appearance as a series regular.

In the 1986 story The Trial of a Time Lord, the alien Kiv appeared to transplant his brain into Peri’s body, effectively killing her. It was later suggested, however, that Peri had survived, that the evidence of her death had been faked, and that she was now living as queen to the warrior king Yrcanos (Brian Blessed).

Fans never actually saw this happen, however, with some remaining convinced that Peri had died, while others were just curious as to what exactly her life with the eccentric King Ycarnos would’ve entailed.

36 years later and we’ve finally got our answer, as part of a trailer for the next classic Doctor Who Blu-ray set – The Collection: Season 22.

(9) MEAT LOAF OBIT. Singer Meat Loaf has died at the age of 74 reports the New York Times. His earliest genre credit cast a long shadow —

…His first major film role came in 1975 in the cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” in which he played Eddie, a delivery boy murdered for his brain by the cross-dressing Dr. Frank-N-Furter. …More recently, he had a role in several episodes of the TV series “Ghost Wars” from 2017-18.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1935 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Eighty-seven years ago, Charlie Chan in Paris, the seventh in that series, premiered. It was directed by Lewis Seiler as written by the trio of Earl Derr Biggers, Philip MacDonald and Stuart Anthony. All the films featured Warner Oland, a Swedish-American actor who had also played Fu Manchu. Oland would play this role sixteen times.

Honolulu Police detective Lieutenant Chan was created  by Biggers who wrote six novels in which he appears. The House Without a Key is the first one. It’s available from the usual suspects for ninety nine cents. 

Biggers loosely based Chan on Hawaiian detective Chang Apana and was intended to be the opposite of Fu Manchu. The real detective actually solved very few murder cases as he worked mostly on opium cases. M 

Over the years eleven different actors would portray him including Peter Ustinov and Ross Martin. 

This film was considered lost for decades until a print was discovered in Czechoslovakia with a collector in the seventies. After a number of showings in various revival cinemas throughout the States, it was released on DVD as part of a collection.  All of the films are in the public domain so you can watch it here.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 21, 1923 Judith Merril. Author of four novels, Shadow on the HearthThe Tomorrow PeopleGunner Cade, and Outpost Mars, the last two with C. M. Kornbluth. She also wrote many short stories, of which twenty-six are collected in Homecalling and Other Stories: The Complete Solo Short SF of Judith Merril (NESFA Press). She was an editor as well. From 1956-1966 she edited a series of volumes of the year’s best sf. Her collection England Swings (1968) helped draw attention to the New Wave. Oh, and between, 1965 and 1969, she was an exemplary reviewer for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. (Died 1997.)
  • Born January 21, 1925 Charles Aidman. He makes the Birthday Honors for having the recurring role of Jeremy Pike on The Wild Wild West, playing him four times. Other SFF appearances include Destination SpaceThe InvadersTwilight ZoneMission: Impossible and Kolchak the Night Stalker to name but a few of them. (Died 1993.)
  • Born January 21, 1938 Wolfman Jack. Here because I spotted him showing up twice in Battlestar Galactica 1980 playing himself according to IMDb. He also had genre character roles in the Swamp Thing and Wonder Women series plus two horror films, Motel Hell and The Midnight Hour. (Died 1995.)
  • Born January 21, 1939 Walter C. DeBill, Jr., 83. An author of horror and SF short stories and a contributor to the Cthulhu Mythos. Author of the Observers of the Unknown series about a Lovecraftian occupy detective which is collected is two volumes, The Horror from Yith and The Changeling. They don’t appear to be in print currently.
  • Born January 21, 1956 Diana Pavlac Glyer, 66. Author whose work centers on C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Inklings. She teaches in the Honors College at Azusa Pacific University in California. She has two excellent works out now, The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community and Bandersnatch: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings.

(12) FREE COMIC BOOK DAY IS MAY 7. Marvel Comics is getting a head start on Free Comic Book Day publicity by announcing the first of its three separate Free Comic one-shots. (This one also has a variant cover.)

 Announced last week, Spider-Man is gearing up for a brand-new era just in time for the character’s 60th anniversary! Fans who pick up Free Comic Book Day: Spider-Man/Venom #1 will see the very beginning of the major storylines writer Zeb Wells and legendary artist John Romita Jr. have planned for their run on Amazing Spider-Man, including Tombstone’s first steps towards becoming Spidey’s most terrifying villain.

Free Comic Book Day: Spider-Man/Venom #1 will also give fans a chance to check out the thought-provoking work Al Ewing, Ram V, and Bryan Hitch are doing on Venom! The groundbreaking changes this mastermind trio has in store for the symbiote mythos starts here!

(13) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to dig into duck with Usman T. Malik in Episode 163 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Usman T. Malik

Usman T. Malik won the British Fantasy Award for his novella The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn, which was also nominated for both the World Fantasy and Nebula Awards. His story “The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family” won the Bram Stoker Award for Short Fiction. His stories have been published in such magazines as Strange HorizonsBlack StaticNightmare, and Tor.com, as well as anthologies such as Black Feathers: Dark Avian TalesThe Mammoth Book of Cthulhu: New Lovecraftian FictionFinal Cuts: New Tales of Hollywood Horror and Other Spectacles, and others. His collection Midnight Doorways: Fables from Pakistan, was published in 2021.

We discussed why the first pandemic year was his most prolific period ever as a writer, how the Clarion Workshop helped him decide what kind of writer he wanted to be, our shared concerns over revising our early stories, the way his medical training gives him an intriguing advantage as a writer, how every love story is a ghost story and every ghost story is a love story, what it was like running Pakistan’s first science fiction writing workshop, why he prefers Stephen King to Dean Koontz (and what that taught hm about his own writing), the cautionary tale told to him by Samuel R. Delany, how writers teach readers the way they should be read, and much more.

(14) FOR THOSE OF YOU JUST TUNING IN. Raquel S. Benedict has posted a transcript of the Rite Gud podcast episode “A Guide to Squeecore”.

JR: I was going to say, we can go back and talk about what is “squee”. If we’re going to call it squeecore, we have to say, what is the definition of “squee”, that horrible, horrible word? And I have a little –

RSB [crosstalk]: Right. Yeah. So what is the definition of squee?

JR [crosstalk]: As I defined it – yeah. “Squee” is a culture term for a sound or expression of excitement or enthusiasm. It’s the opposite of “feh” or “meh”, and very close kin to “amazeballs” and “epic sauce”. It represents a specific feeling, a type of frisson that readers value; the tingle of relatability as a beloved character does something cool, or says something “epic” and snarky.

RSB: [laughs]

JR: The essence of squee is wish fulfillment. Squeecore lives for the “hell yeah” moment; the “you go, girl” moment; the gushy feeling of victory by proxy. It’s aspirational; it’s escapism; it’s a dominant, and I would even say gentrified, form of SFF.

(In case you’re asking “How come Mike doesn’t say who JR is?” the answer is that’s the only identification given at the link.)

(15) INFLATION INDEX. Nate Sanders Auctions has set a minimum bid of $9,500 for this “First Edition, First Printing of Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ in Original Dust Jacket” – which is remarkable for a copy that was originally circulated by the Fitchburg Public Library of Massachusetts.

(16) THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY. MSN.com reports “Doctors Used Bacteria-Killing Viruses to Take Down an Incurable Superbug”.

The enemy of our bacterial enemy can indeed be our friend. In a new case report, doctors say they were able to treat their patient’s long-festering, drug-resistant infection with the help of specially grown bacteriophages—viruses that infect bacteria. Large-scale clinical trials will likely be needed for these treatments to become widely used, though….

But by the 1940s, with the advent of the modern antibiotic era, phages had fallen out of favor for several reasons. The first antibiotics that saw wide use were broad-spectrum, able to quickly treat many different types of infections, and relatively easy to scale up in mass production. Phages, on the other hand, were harder to purify and store, and their benefits were often inconsistent.

Scientists and doctors in some parts of the world where antibiotics were less available, such as Eastern Europe and India, did continue to research and use phage therapy, though. And eventually, it became clear that antibiotics weren’t quite as miraculous as we’d hoped. Bacteria have evolved resistance to these drugs over time, to the point where we’re now seeing infections that can’t be treated at all. So, understandably, scientists have expressed renewed interest in phages as a weapon against bacteria in recent decades.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Dinosaurs invade the UN in this commercial from the UN Development Program. The message: Extinction is a bad thing!

…You’re headed for a climate disaster, and yet every year governments spend hundreds of billions of public funds on fossil fuel subsidies. Imagine if we had spent hundreds of billions per year subsidizing giant meteors….

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

Pixel Scroll 1/18/22
21 Jaunt Street

(1) RED WOMBAT EXTRA! Ursula Vernon has launched a newsletter: Wombat Droppings – Issue #1.

Hello, friends and subscribers! I’m starting a newsletter, because Twitter is like drinking from a firehose, Patreon costs you money, and I rarely have the braincells to blog these days. (Plus, when all your presence is on someone else’s platform, they can delete you at any time and leave you floundering in the social void.)

I promise that if you subscribe, I will not bother you too much. Also, I have no intention of charging for this thing, although apparently “newsletter” now means “thing you charge money for” and I don’t know what to call a thing that used to be a newsletter but now isn’t? (Free newsletter? I dunno. May need to workshop that.)

Anyway, let’s give this a try and see what happens!

The theme of Issue #1 is “So I’ve Started GMing…”

…Our game hook is that all the players are interns from the Church of the Good Boy, an all-dog temple established in our previous campaign. So they are all dogs, except for the rogue, who has paperwork stating that he is a dog, despite suspiciously cat-like ears…

(2) PUBLISH LIKE A PIRATE DAY. This might be the topic of Red Wombat’s next newsletter:

(3) CSI SKILL TREE. The CSI Skill Tree series examines how video games “envision possible futures, build rich and thought-provoking worlds, and engage people as active participants in unfolding and interpreting stories.”

The next event in the CSI Skill Tree series will be on Wednesday, February 23, from 1:00-2:15 p.m. Eastern and feature Cloud Gardens, a 2020 gardening game about using plants to overgrow and transform abandoned post-industrial landscapes. The guest speakers are SFF author and translator Ken Liu and game designer Liz Fiacco, who has worked on titles including The Last of Us 2 and Pillars of Eternity. The event is virtual, free, and open to everyone. Here is the registration page.

The event is cohosted with Orion Magazine, a quarterly publication working at the convergence of ecology, art, and social justice, and attendees will receive a code for 20% off a subscription to Orion.

Join the Center for Science and the Imagination and Orion Magazine, an ad-free, quarterly print publication at the convergence of ecology, art, and social justice, for our latest event, featuring “Cloud Gardens,” a 2020 gardening game about using plants to overgrow and transform abandoned post-industrial landscapes. At once soothing and cryptic, “Cloud Gardens” uses pastel colors and calming music to raise questions about the boundaries we construct between organic and built environments, the human and the nonhuman, the sublime and the dystopian.

(4) RENEWED AND PRENEWED. “’Star Trek: Discovery,’ ‘Lower Decks’ Renewed at Paramount Plus”Variety has the story.

“Star Trek: Discovery,” “Star Trek: Lower Decks,” and “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” have all been renewed at Paramount Plus.

For “Discovery,” that means it will return for a fifth season. The show is due to resume its fourth season on Feb. 10. “Lower Decks” will now be back for a fourth season, with Season 3 of the animated comedy set to debut this summer.

“Strange New Worlds” has yet to debut its first season, which will drop on Paramount Plus on May 5. 

(5) MINUTES OF THE WORLD SQUEECORE CONGRESS. Sure, you could run your own Twitter search for the latest “squeecore” tweets – but these are curated tweets. You know, like a cooking show where the chef does marvels by adding pancetta or Calabrian chiles. (People are now looking around, asking, “So why don’t I see anything Mike added?”)

CAT RAMBO

LAURA DIAZ DE ARCE

SILVIA MORENO-GARCIA

NICK MAMATAS

DR. AMANDA DILLON

PAUL M. CRAY

3DPARTYINTERNET

MARIE BRENNAN

ANNA NICGIOLLAMHUIRE

ANDREW NETTE

(6) FOWL BAWL. Was it a slow news week? Having nothing more pressing to do, TIME Magazine ripped Donald Duck as one of the “Top 10 Worst Awards-Show Hosts” for his work on the 1958 Oscars.

We love classic cartoons as much as the next kid disguised as a grownup, but given the star power of the glittering 1950s, Donald Duck probably didn’t need to co-host the 30th Academy Awards. Bob Hope, Jack Lemmon, David Niven, Rosalind Russell and James Stewart also ran the 1958 show. Donald appeared on film rather than, as is preferable for most hosts, in person. Still, he wasn’t completely out of his element: 15 years earlier, his short Der Fuehrer’s Face won an Oscar.

(7) CHUCK SHIMADA OBIT. LASFS member Charles Shimada passed away peacefully in his sleep on December 26, 2021, Calvin Ogawa reported on Facebook. LA-area fans remember Chuck for doing a lot of the Audio/Video technical setup for many conventions over the years – including the 1996 Worldcon I chaired.

Much earlier, at the 1975 EquiCon, Chuck let me run the projector as we showed Star Trek episodes. These were Gene Roddenberry’s personal 16mm prints. And while I was rewinding one of them, I noticed to my horror that I had not closed the reel lock — the reel was starting to do a high-frequency wobble. What would happen when it reached the end? OMG! Was it going to fly off and unspool irreplaceable film all over the fans sitting in front of the projection stand? What would happen to my hand if I grabbed the reel to stop it spinning? I found out. Nothing, fortunately; film saved; I lived to volunteer another day.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1973 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-nine years ago, The Six Million Dollar Man premiered this evening on ABC. It was based on Martin Caidin’s Cyborg. Executive Producer was Harve Bennett, who you will recognize from the Star Trek films. It was produced by Kenneth Johnson who would later do The Bionic Woman spin-off and the Alien Nation film. 

Its primary cast was Lee Majors,  Richard Anderson and Martin E. Brooks. Majors had a successful second series shortly after this series was cancelled, The Fall Guy, about heart-of-gold bounty hunters. The Six Million Dollar Man would run for five seasons consisting of ninety-nine episodes and five films. The Fall Guy would run five seasons as well. 

Reception by media critics is generally positive. Phelim O’Neil of The Guardian says, “He was Superman, James Bond and Neil Armstrong all rolled into one, and $6M was an almost incomprehensibly large amount of money: how could anyone not watch this show?” And Rob Hunter of Film School Reviews states “The story lines run the gamut from semi-believable to outright ludicrous, but even at its most silly the show is an entertaining family friendly mix of drama, humor, action, and science fiction.”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 18, 1882 A.A. Milne. Talking fat bears obsessed with honey. Bouncing tigers, err, tiggers. Morose, well, what is he? It’s certainly genre. And though it isn’t remotely genre, I wholeheartedly recommend Milne’s The Red House Mystery, a Country House Mystery that’s most excellent! (Died 1956.)
  • Born January 18, 1932 Robert Anton Wilson. I think I first encountered him in something Richard E. Geis wrote about him in Science Fiction Review in the Eighties. Schrödinger’s Cat Trilogy is just weird and might or might not be a sequel to Wilson’s The Illuminatus! Trilogy co-authored with Robert Shea. But the absolutely weirdest thing he did might be an interview titled Robert Anton Wilson On Finnegans Wake and Joseph Campbell. (Died 2007.)
  • Born January 18, 1933 John Boorman, 89. Director who’s responsible for one of the best SFF films ever done, Excalibur, and one of the worst, Zardoz. (He wrote the novel for that one as well.)  (I know some Filers like Zardoz. Oh well.)  He also directed the rather nifty Emerald Forest which Holdstock did a far better than merely good job of novelizing.
  • Born January 18, 1937 Dick Durock. He was best known for playing Swamp Thing in Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing and the following television series which ran for three seasons. His only other genre appearances were in The Nude Bomb (also known as The Return of Maxwell Smart) and “The First” of The Incredible Hulk. He shows up in Die Hard with a Vengeance in a subway scene. No, it’s not genre, I just like that film. (Died 2009.)
  • Born January 18, 1953 Pamela Dean Dyer-Bennet, 69. Her best novel is I think Tam Lin though one could make an argument for Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary which Windling calls her favorite fantasy novel. Her Secret Country trilogy is also a great deal of fun to read. Much of her short stories are set in the Liavek shared universe created by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly. All of the Liavek anthologies are now available on all major digital platforms. According to the files sitting in my Dropbox folder, there’s eight volumes to the series. They’re wonderful reading. End of plug.
  • Born January 18, 1955 Kevin Costner, 67. Some of his genre films are Robin Hood: Prince of ThievesWaterworldThe Postman and the recent Dragonfly, but I really like his Field of Dreams — his acting in it as Ray Kinsella is quite excellent. Not quite as superb as he was as “Crash” Davis in Bull Durham but damned good. Bull Durham is one of my go-to films when I want to feel good. He also was Jonathan Kent in both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
  • Born January 18, 1964 Jane Horrocks, 58. Her first SFF genre role was Pattern in The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, scripted off the Joan Aiken novel. A year later, she showed up in the most excellent The Witches, scripted off the Raoul Dahl novel playing Miss Susan Irvine. She voices Black Widow / Mrs. Plum in Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride, and voiced Hannah in the late Ninties Watership Down.

(10) IRISH COMIC NEWS AWARDS SHORTLISTS. Congratulations to James Bacon who has been nominated for the Irish Comic News’ ICN Awards 2021 in the Best Irish Writer (Non-Fiction) category for his work on File 770. (James also edits and writes for Journey Planet.) The complete list of nominees is here.

BEST IRISH WRITER (NON-FICTION)

As I mentioned in a year-end roundup, James uses his descriptive abilities and camera to allow Filers to accompany him to exhibits and events in vivid and enjoyable reports. 

His round table interview with N.K. Jemisin about her work on Green Lantern was great fun to read. And he constantly reviews comics from off the beaten track which deserve our attention. His work last year on File 770 was considerable —

I wish him and all other nominees the best of luck. 

(11) EFFICIENCY EXPERT. I can see that Michael Carroll’s sense of humor is part of his appeal – here’s how he introduces his list of Rusty Staples’ “Most Popular Posts of 2021!”

…As I promised in last year’s look back at the previous year, I ditched my plan to post at least one entry every week: doing so freed up a lot of time that I was able to divide between idly daydreaming about winning imaginary arguments with jerks, and needlessly wallowing in unwarranted self-pity. So, time well-spent, I think….

(12) MOON KNIGHT. Disney+ dropped a trailer for their new streaming series with Oscar Isaac yesterday. The series will premiere on March 30.

(13) THAT’S A LOT OF QUARTERS. “Microsoft acquires gaming giant Activision Blizzard for nearly $70 billion” reports CNN.

Microsoft on Tuesday announced plans to acquire Activision Blizzard in a blockbuster deal worth nearly $70 billion. It’s one of the biggest acquisitions in the tech industry in recent years, one that will boost Microsoft’s standing in the growing gaming industry but could be complicated by recent concerns about Activision’s toxic culture.

The all-cash transaction is valued at $68.7 billion, and Microsoft says it will make the company the third-largest gaming company by revenue, after Tencent and Sony.

Bobby Kotick, the controversial CEO of Activision Blizzard, will continue in his role, according to a press release detailing the announced acquisition. Activision employees had previously staged walkouts and called on Kotick to step down for having allegedly been aware of widespread harassment and discrimination problems at the company for years….

(14) DOCKING MANUVER. Here we are outside 104 E. Providencia Ave in Burbank in 1964. I hope somebody explained parallel parking to Mr. Sulu later!

(15) A ROBERT PICARDO APPEARANCE. Jonathan Cowie reports that at the last Novacon they screened a short film based on a story by Chris Priest – here is a trailer for it: The Stooge.

(16) A REAL INCENTIVE. JDA truly understands the audience for his comics.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Cath Jackel.] Here’s a BBC Reel about How to ride a pterosaur, according to science. Includes a saddle mockup inspired by How to Train Your Dragon.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Jamoche, Joey Eschrich, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Chris Barkley, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 1/10/22 All Have Scrolled And All Must Have Pixels

(1) HIPY PAPY BTHUTHDTH THUTHDA CTHULHU. Scott Lynch noticed that Pooh entered the public domain on New Year’s Day. Thread starts here.

He’s not the only creator to hit the ground running: “’Winnie-the-Pooh’ just entered the public domain. Here’s what that means for fans” in the Washington Post.

Luke McGarry began drawing a nude Pooh Bear as soon as he heard the news. The original, nearly 100-year-old “bear of very little brain” from the Hundred Acre Wood had rung in this new year by entering the public domain. Now quite humbly, McGarry’s creative appetite felt rumbly.

The Los Angeles-based artist sat and penned his Winnie-the-Pooh idea in four panels, announcing the 1926 character’s free-for-all status as of Jan. 1, with a winking if satirically speculative interpretation: “Disney still owns their version of me. … But as long as I don’t put a little red shirt on, I can do as I like” — a reference to how the character’s attire regularly began to be depicted beginning in the 1930s.McGarry waited a day to post his colorful cartoon on social media. Later he checked his accounts: “I didn’t think it was going to blow up like it did.” On Twitter alone, the illustration received nearly 40,000 likes. The artist realized his Pooh toon could bring some cash flow. “Had I anticipated there being any demand, I would’ve probably had prints done in advance.”…

(2) SPIDER-MAN CRUSHING IT. Spider-Man: No Way Home is still breaking box office records. Having grossed $1.53 billion worldwide, it’s now the eighth-highest grossing movie ever globally (not adjusted for inflation) reports Variety.

In the U.S. the film sits in sixth place, having just passed James Cameron’s Titanic, and Deadline estimates it is around $10 million away from overtaking Avengers: Infinity War ($678.8 million) as the fifth-highest grossing movie ever stateside.

(3) BUTLER ADAPTATION SERIES ORDERED. “FX Picks Up ‘Kindred’ Series Based on Octavia E. Butler Novel”The Hollywood Reporter has details.

FX is moving ahead with its adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred.

The Disney-owned outlet has given a series order to Kindred, which comes from FX Productions and writer and showrunner Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Watchmen). It’s based on the influential 1979 novel by Hugo Award winner and MacArthur Fellow Butler, following a young Black woman in Los Angeles who finds herself pulled back and forth in time.

FX ordered a pilot for Kindred in March 2021. Janicza Bravo (Zola) directed the pilot episode. The series stars newcomer Mallori Johnson, Micah Stock, Ryan Kwanten, Gayle Rankin, Austin Smith, Antoinette Crowe-Legacy and David Alexander Kaplan.

(4) DAW: THE FIRST TEN YEARS. At Dark Worlds Quarterly, G.W. Thomas begins a series on Donald A. Wollheim: “Donald A. Wollheim Part 1: 1934-1945”.

When you say the name “Donald A. Wollheim” you have to say which one you are referring to. Is it the force behind ACE Books or the creator and publisher of DAW Books? Or the Avon editor who tried to combine comics and Pulps? Or the editor of The Avon Fantasy Reader?  Is it the editor who published the unauthorized edition of The Lord of the Rings and created the modern fantasy boom? Is it the fanzine editor who published H. P. Lovecraft, C. L. Moore, Robert E. Howard, A. Merritt and Frank Belknap Long? Is it the editor without any budget who cobbled together Pulps with the help of the Futurians? Or is it the writer who so often appeared under a pseudonym like Martin Pearson, Millard Verne Gordon or Lawrence Woods? Donald A. Wollheim was all of them in his career spanning over fifty years….

(5) THE JAWS THAT CATCH. G.W. Thomas would also like to tell you about big bugs, zillions of ‘em! “Giant Ants of the Pulps” at Dark Worlds Quarterly.

Giant Ants of the Pulps seems like a no-brainer, right? Of course the Pulps were crawling with mad scientists creating giant bugs, or ones that comes from other planets, or are encountered when we arrive on jungle planets. A fascination with the formic race goes back to writers like H. G. Wells, who despite the film versions, never actually did giant ants. What he did do was write the first giant monster novel in The Food of the Gods (Pearson’s, December 1903-June 1904) but he chose giant bees over ants. Later he wrote “The Empire of the Ants” (The Strand, December 1905), in which he supposed an intelligent race of army ants that begin to take over the world. These critters have weapons but are not gigantic in size. Hollywood combined the two along with Joan Collins.

(6) OPEN SESAME. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Watch The Door into Summer on Netflix:

A pioneering roboticist awakens in 2025 after decades in cryosleep. To change the past and reunite with his adopted sister, he seeks a way back to 1995.

I saw somebody’s Facebook post out this earlier today (and I see that sundry more are posting/commenting. We just finished watching it. This was one of the Heinlein sf novels I grew up reading/re-reading (when they’re short and one-offs, and not competing with a Borges-level Mount Can’t-Read-Em-All, it’s easier), and they dun good. (I could drop a cheap shot at Starship Troopers here, but I’ll refrain.) There are sundry differences in details, but the core plot remains intact (including Petronius The Arbiter, aka Pete, our protagonist’s credential).

The dialogue is all in Japanese, with subtitles available (often harder-to-read than I would have liked when the background was mostly white). (If there was a change subtitle settings, we didn’t see it.)

We didn’t see Heinlein’s name in the credits — although, it might have been lurking in the untranslated credits… but the Netflix listing includes:

Kento Yamazaki (“Alice in Borderland”) stars in this science fiction tale adapted from the novel by Robert A. Heinlein.

(7) GIZZARD-FI. The Odyssey Writing Workshop Blog has posted an interview with graduate Larry Hodges.

You’re a 2006 graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. What made you decide to attend? What insights did you gain into your own work?

I did some research and asked around, and Odyssey seemed the most recommended workshop. (Having Robert J. Sawyer as a “Writer in Residence” that year greatly helped!) Probably the biggest insight I learned about my own work was that I’m an “idea” and “humor/satire” writer who needs to focus on character and other aspects equally. I also went in knowing that I had little feel for description, and so have spent years working to overcome that. One thing that helped: Robert and Odyssey Director Jeanne Cavelos suggested writing a story that was all about description, and so I wrote and sold “In the Belly of the Beast,” where the whole story takes place in the belly of a dragon that has swallowed a bunch of people, including a wizard who creates a field to protect them in the dragon’s stomach—and much of the story revolved around vivid descriptions of the “venue.” It also became a character story about the wizard….

(8) THE INFLUENTIAL LE GUIN. Tor.com’s Vanessa Armstrong has a recommendation: “New Crafting with Ursula Podcast Has Writers Like Becky Chambers Delving Into Ursula K. Le Guin’s Work”.

… This series, called Crafting with Ursula, stems from David Naimon’s long-running Between the Covers podcast. In each episode, Naimon will talk with an author about how specific works of Le Guin have influenced aspects of their own creative process.

The first episode, which is available now, has Becky Chambers (Wayfarers series, A Psalm for the Wild-Built) discussing the craft of creating aliens and alien cultures, something Chambers has beautifully done in her own stories. …

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1969 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fifty-three years ago this evening, Star Trek’s “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” first aired on NBC. It was the fifteenth episode of the third season. It written by Oliver Crawford who also penned “The Galileo Seven” as based on a story by Gene L. Coon who was writing under his pen name “Lee Cronin” due to contractual reasons. Coon was the showrunner for the series through most of the second season and was responsible for such major elements as the Klingons and the naming of the United Federation of Planets and Starfleet Command. 

The cast stars here were Frank Gorshin as Commissioner Bele and Lou Antonio as Lokai. Gorshin would be known in this period for his recurring role on Batman as The Riddler. Lou Antonio did a few genre one-offs. 

The episode has since been rated as one of the best of the Trek series with ColliderHollywood ReporterPopMatters, SciFi and ScreenRant all rating it among the best episodes produced. 

Spock’s comment that “Change is the essential process of all existence” which remains one of the most memorable lines of dialogue ever said on Trek comes from this episode.

The original version when Beale and Lokai run through the Enterprise shows the burning cities of World War II Europe. The remastered version shows the Cheron cities still burning from space. (That scene was done because the episode was running short.) 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 10, 1904 Ray Bolger. Best remembered obviously as The Scarecrow In The Wizard of Oz. He also showed as the villainous Barnaby in Babes in Toyland, two appearances on Fantasy Island, and as Vector In “Greetings from Earth” on the classic version of Battlestar Galactica.  He narrated a version of Peter and The Wolf which certainly is genre. (Died 1987.)
  • Born January 10, 1924 Mike Butterworth. In 1965, he became the primary script writer at Ranger magazine where he was responsible for scripting the space opera The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire, which remains to this day one of the most popular boys’ adventure strips ever published in the UK. Between Ranger and later Look and Learn, it would have a run of 854 issues in total, divided between the two magazines. (Died 1986.)
  • Born January 10, 1937 Elizabeth Anne Hull. She has served as the President of the Science Fiction Research Association and editor of its newsletter. She has been a member of the panel for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best SF novel since 1986. With her husband Frederik Pohl, Hull edited the Tales from the Planet Earth anthology. She is also the editor of the Gateways: Original New Stories Inspired by Frederik Pohl anthology. She has co-authored three short stories with him, “Author Plus”, “The Middle Kingdom” and “Second Best Friend”. (Died 2021.)
  • Born January 10, 1944 Jeffrey Catherine Jones. She was an artist providing more than a hundred and fifty covers for many different types of genre books through the mid-Seventies including the Ace paperback editions of the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser series. Among her work was also Flash Gordon for Charlton Comics in the Sixties and the Conan Saga for Marvel Comics in the late Eighties. (Died 2011.)
  • Born January 10, 1944 William Sanderson, 78. I remember him best as J. F. Sebastian, the possibly insane genetic designer working for Tyrell in Blade Runner. but he’s had a career obviously after that film including appearing as Skeets in The Rocketeer, voicing Dr. Karl Rossum on Batman: The Animated Series, playing the character Deuce on Babylon 5 (a series I’ve watched through at least three times), E. B. Farnum on Deadwood (ok, it’s not genre, but it’s Will and Emma’s favorite show so let’s let it slide) and Sheriff Bud Dearborne on True Blood
  • Born January 10, 1947 George Alec Effinger. I’ve read his Marîd Audran series at least three times  as it’s an amazing series in both the characters and the setting. I never read the short stories in this setting until Golden Gryphon Press sent me Budayeen Nights for Green Man to review and they were quite excellent as well.  I really should listen to the stories soon to see how they work that way. (Died 2002.)
  • Born January 10, 1959 Fran Walsh, 63. Partner of Peter Jackson, she has contributed to all of his films since the late Eighties when she started out as co-writer of Meet the Feebles, and as producer since The Fellowship of the Ring which won a Hugo. Need I note the next two films won Hugos as well? Huh The Hobbit films did not win Hugos.  
  • Born January 10, 1958 Jeff Kaake, 64. He’s on the Birthday Honors list as he was Captain John Boon on the Space Rangers which lasted only six episodes. Damn. That was a fun show! He was also Thomas Cole on Viper which lasted four seasons but really isn’t genre. And he showed up in the Stormageddon film (which sounds like the name a Filer would give to a SJW Cred) as well which is genre. 

(11) MARK YOUR BALLOT “X”. The polls are open! Marvel is asking fans to help select the newest X-Men team once again. As with last year’s X-Men election, the second annual event to choose the newest protectors of Krakoa will run until 11:59 p.m. EST on Thursday, January 13. Participants can vote at marvel.com/xmenvote.

In 2021, True Believers everywhere voted in the first-ever X-Men election. They shaped X-Men history by choosing Polaris to star in Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz’s X-Men. Throughout the election, fans campaigned for their favorite candidates resulting in “X-MEN VOTE” trending worldwide on Twitter and ultimately changed the future of all mutantkind!

Several nominations have been accepted to determine the final member of one of the most iconic teams in the Marvel Universe. Now, the last member of this new X-Men team is in YOUR hands! Each person can only cast one vote, so read about each nominee below and make your decision carefully!

X-Men Ballot Nominations:

  • ARMOR: Hisako Ichiki can create a powerful psionic force field around herself, giving her superhuman strength and durability. She planted the first Krakoan flower on Mars, and as a member of the New Mutants aided her brethren across the globe.
  • AVALANCHE: A long-standing member of the Brotherhood, Dominikos Petrakis used his seismokinetic powers against the X-Men. Though he was killed by the Red Skull, he was one of countless mutants to be resurrected on Krakoa, where he became an agent of S.W.O.R.D.
  • BLING!: A former member of Gambit’s Chevaliers squad at the Xavier school, Bling! has more recently teamed up with Psylocke and her team to defend Krakoa despite still questioning the new mutant nation’s motives. She possesses a diamond-hard body, superhuman strength and the ability to fire crystalline projectiles.
  • FIRESTAR: Angelica Jones is a veteran super hero, boasting former memberships in the Avengers, New Warriors, Young Allies, and the X-Men themselves – in addition to being one of Spider-Man’s most amazing friends. Despite her codename, her powers are microwave-based, allowing her to ignite, melt, or otherwise superheat whatever she targets. She has yet to claim Krakoan citizenship…
  • GENTLE: The first X-Man to hail from the nation of Wakanda, Nezhno Abidemi now calls Krakoa his home. His mutant power allows him to exponentially increase his musculature, giving him almost limitless strength and invulnerability.
  • GORGON: Like the mythical creature of his namesake, Tomi Shishido’s gaze can turn anyone who meets it into stone. Although he possesses many other superpowers, Gorgon’s proficiency with swords is his greatest strength. Due to his skill with a blade, he was able to turn the tide at a crucial moment during the Contest of Swords in Otherworld. Unfortunately, he died doing so and came back… different.
  • MICROMAX: A British mutant, Scott Wright has served as an agent of various agencies of the Crown including MI13 and F.I.6. In the past, he was also briefly a member of Excalibur – and controversially O*N*E* – when he came into conflict with many of his fellow mutants.
  • PENANCE: Monet St. Croix touts herself as a near-perfect mutant specimen, with a wide range of powers and talents. Also, though she once considered it a burden, Monet is now capable of shifting to and from her deadly Penance form at will. She currently is the co-CXO of X-Corp.
  • SIRYN: The daughter of lauded X-Man Banshee, Theresa Cassidy made a name for herself as a member of X-Factor, making use of the same sonic powers as her father. The current X-Factor team was finally able to free her from the influence of the divine being known as Morrigan, to whom she’d sacrificed to save a fellow mutant.
  • SURGE: One of the most powerful electrokinetics on Krakoa, Noriko Ashida can produce devastating blasts of lightning and move at incredible speeds. She’s poised to team-up with her fellow New X-Men alums to protect the next generation of mutantdom.

Election results, along with the full X-Men team, will be unveiled during the Hellfire Gala in Marvel comics this June.

(12) SUPERMAN IS FEELING BETTER. Kevin Smith chats with Yahoo! Entertainment about his efforts to write a Superman movie in the 1990s. “Kevin Smith’s Superman movie that never was: Filmmaker revisits bonkers ’90s project that nearly starred Sean Penn”.

…Smith’s unfiltered critique and suggestions for for a different direction ultimately landed him an audience with then-studio boss Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who in turn hired Smith to write a new screenplay. Based on DC’s 1992-93 crossover comic event The Death of Superman, the film would be revamped with the title Superman Lives.

But Smith would have to collaborate on the project with producer Jon Peters — and that’s where things got really interesting. Peters had quite a Hollywood trajectory, starting as Barbra Streisand’s hairdresser then becoming her lover and then producing her films, eventually becoming a veritable power player (he’s currently portrayed by Bradley Cooper via a madcap performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza, to give you one perspective on him). In the early ’90s, Peters acquired the film rights to Superman from Warner Bros. and he would have the final say on the new movie.

Smith recalled various visits to Peters’s “gigantic f**king house” where the eccentric producer told Smith they’d make a great Superman movie together because they were “from the streets” (as Smith points out, neither Superman nor Peters nor Smith was from the streets) and insisted Smith read aloud his entire script drafts to Peters while the producer parked himself on a nearby couch….

(13) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter tuned into tonight’s Jeopardy! where an entire category was devoted to a familiar subject.

Category: Hugo Awards

$1000 clue

This author, Hugo nominated in his 20s for “Babel-17,” has the middle initial “R” for “Ray.” He won a few years later.

Photo shows Delany in whitest photo I’ve ever seen of him.

No one could ask, “Who is Samuel R. Delany?”

(14) AS LONG AS WE’RE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD. James Davis Nicoll ponders “Five Hypothetical Reasons Aliens Would Bother Visiting Earth”.

…A question that may well occur to our hypothetical aliens: “If humans are willing to use nuclear weapons on each other, what will they do to beings who are not related to them at all?” The worst-case scenario is that the aliens will conclude it’s safest not to find out. That possibility is explored in works like Greg Bear’s The Forge of God, in which what initially appears to be benign first contact very rapidly is revealed as an effort to expunge humans and all our works from the universe before we become a menace to other species….

(15) RUTLAND WEEKEND TELEVISION. “Ichthyosaur: Huge fossilised ‘sea dragon’ found in Rutland reservoir”BBC News has the story.

Rutland is more than thirty miles from the coast, but 200 million years ago higher sea levels meant it was covered by a shallow ocean.

When water levels at the Rutland reservoir were lowered again in the late summer of 2021, a team of palaeontologists came in to excavate the remains. Special attention was paid to the removal of the huge skull.

A large block of clay containing the ichthyosaur’s head was carefully dug out before being covered in plaster and placed on wooden splints.

The block, weighing almost a tonne, was raised out of the mud and will now be examined further.

“It’s not often you are responsible for safely lifting a very important but very fragile fossil weighing that much,” said Nigel Larkin, palaeontological conservator and Visiting Research Fellow at Reading University. “It is a responsibility, but I love a challenge.”

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Marvel is ready for its closeup: “All of the Trick Arrows in Marvel Studios’ Hawkeye!”

All of the trick arrows up close and personal! Greg Steele, VFX Supervisor of Marvel Studios’ Hawkeye talks to Lorraine Cink about how they created all of the arrows in the show, and how they work with the Stunt and Special Effects department to make the show come together.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, P J Evans, Chris Barkley, Bill, Elektra Hammond, Jon F. Zeigler, Danny Sichel, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Greg Hullender.]

Pixel Scroll 12/8/21 I’m Shocked To Find Scrolling Going On In Here

(1) IF YOU CAN MAKE IT THERE. In the New York Times, Amal El-Mohtar names “The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of 2021”. Here’s one of her picks:

In the gray fog of an uncertain year, these books stand out in bright colors and floods of intense feeling. They’re organized only by the order in which I read them….

No Gods, No Monsters

By Cadwell Turnbull (Blackstone, 387 pp., $26.99)

Intimate and intricate, full of charismatic monsters and the dueling secret societies to which they belong. A pack of werewolves transform on camera, prompting hidden powers to rally for or against revealing the supernatural world of gods and monsters to the public. Mysteriously narrated and utterly riveting.

 (2) EXCEED YOUR GRASP. At Futurism, Matthew Angelo tells readers “Why Science Fiction Matters in Literature”.

… Science fiction typically deals with the impact of imagined future science and technology on society. Sci-Fi is an important genre in literature. It teaches us about contemporary ideas, inspires new technological inventions, and entertains us by telling stories that could not have happened otherwise….

Science Fiction is one of the biggest, most influential genres in literature. It taps into human dreams and nightmares about what might be, what could happen to us, and how we might deal with it. It makes up many of our fictional worlds, futures, and inhabitants. Science Fiction stories can be wildly different in content. Still, they all have a similar feeling of being exciting possibilities just out of reach. Science fiction is often thought to be just about aliens and robots. Still, it can also have a lot to do with social commentary….

(3) SPINNING BLADES. Foz Meadows tweeted two threads commenting on the social media heat directed at Neon Yang after Yang, who criticized Isabel Fall’s “Helicopter Story” when it appeared in January 2020, recently promoted the appearance of their own queer mech story in a forthcoming anthology. Thread starts here.

A second short thread starts here.

Suzanne F. Boswell advances a case that Neon Yang’s tweets in 2020 did not cause the outcome for which critics now want to hold them accountable. Thread starts here.

R. B. Lemberg warns about the damage from these exchanges. Thread starts here.

(4) HIS FAVORITE MARTIAN. Congratulations to Jonathan Eller, whose Bradbury Beyond Apollo has been named one of the Choice Outstanding Academic Titles for 2021. The list is quite selective: it contains approximately ten percent of some 6,000 works reviewed in Choice each year.

(5) AS VIEWED FROM ABOVE. Rob Hansen has created “a small extra” for those who read Bixelstrasse, his compilation of early LASFS history (see “Revisit ‘Fighting Forties’ LASFS in Rob Hansen’s Bixelstrasse”) – it’s an annotated Map of 1940s LA Fandom.

(6) A BARKING GOOD CLIMAX. Camestros Felapton announces “Debarkle Volume 3 Now Available”. It is the end, my friend, and the price is right – free! A list of vendors is at the link.

The third and final volume of Debarkle is now available from a wide range of online book stores and by “wide range” I mean “not Amazon”. As with the rest of this series, it’s been published via Draft2Digital and you can access it in these online book shops. Note: this is the “second draft” version with fewer typos than the blog version. A third draft version will be available as a collected edition of all three volumes before the end of the year.

(7) DOWN TO THE WIRE. Starburst Magazine’s Ed Fortune covers 2023 Site Selection here: “China Races Canada For Prestigious SciFi Con”.

… Worldcons are a long-running international Science Fiction convention that tends to be hosted in North America or Europe, and the next venue is determined two years ahead of time.

Recent years have seen the convention come to other parts of the world, such as Japan and New Zealand. Chinese fans have been actively seeking to bring the world-renowned event to Chengdu, China since 2014….

(8) 2023 WORLDCON BID Q&A. Video of last weekend’s bidder Q&A session at Smofcon Europe has now been posted.

Representatives of the 2023 Worldcon bids for Chengdu and Winnipeg present and answer questions. Terry Fong, Tony Xia, Tina Wang, Tammy Coxen (m)

(9) BACK ON HIS FEET. Nicholas Whyte reports on his recovery from Covid after spending the end of November and part of December sick in bed: “630 days of plague, and COVID 20 days on” in his Livejournal.

(10) THE CULTURE. Christopher Fowler, known to fans for his sff, discusses what makes English novels “English” at CrimeReads: “The Curse of Englishness: Why Every British Thriller Is Also a Black Comedy”.

…I first became aware of the curse when I heard the teacups. To be precise, their endless tinkling.

Whenever I listened to an English radio play as a child the sound effects included a spoon endlessly circling bone china. English characters were always going out and coming in, but mostly they stayed inside and drank tea, even in the grisliest true-life murder dramatizations. Our plots unfolded in small rooms. It’s an English thing; neat little houses, inclement weather. Agatha Christie was particularly obsessed with egress. ‘It was a fine old library with the only other door leading out to the pristine tennis courts.’ And as we tended not to point guns at each other, our fictional killers generally dismissed firearms in favour of doctored pots of chutney, electrified bathtubs and poisoned trifles. They escaped without leaving footprints and relocked doors with the aid of string….

(11) TODAY’S DAY.

I am reliably informed by John King Tarpinian that this is how I should have spent my day.

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1966[Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fifty five years ago, Star Trek’s “The Conscience of a King” first aired on NBC. The title comes from the concluding lines of Act II of Hamlet: “The play’s the thing / Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.” Barry Trivers wrote the script. Memory Alpha notes that he also wrote the never made “A Portrait in Black and White” episode based on a story premise by Roddenberry in his original series proposal for Star Trek

The primary guest cast here was Arnold Moss as Anton Karidian / Kodos and Barbara Anderson as Lenore Karidian. Other than a later Time Tunnel appearence, his only genre role. She played Mimi Davis in a recurring role on Mission: Impossible

Reception for it is generally very good though Keith DeCandido at Tor.com kvetches about how he’s identified as the war criminal. (Keith, it’s not your your modern CSI.) Later Trek writer Ronald D. Moore considers it one of the best Trek episodes ever done. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 8, 1861 Georges Méliès. Best known as a film director for A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune) which he said was influenced by sources including Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon. (Died 1938.)
  • Born December 8, 1894 E. C. Segar. Best known as the creator of Popeye, who first appeared in 1929 in Segar’s comic strip Thimble Theatre. Popeye’s first line in the strip, upon being asked if he was a sailor, was “Ja think I’m a cowboy?” J. Wellington Wimpy was another character in this strip that I’m fond of. (Died 1938.)
  • Born December 8, 1894 James Thurber. He’s written a number of fantasies, The 13 ClocksThe White Deer and The Wonderful O, definitely none of which children should be reading. You’ve no doubt seen The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with Danny Kaye which bears little resemblance to the original short story. It would be made into a second film, just eight years ago, again not resembling the source material. (Died 1961.)
  • Born December 8, 1950 Rick Baker, 71. Baker won the Academy Award for Best Makeup a record seven times from a record eleven nominations, beginning when he won the first award given for An American Werewolf in London.  So what else is he know for? Oh, I’m not listing everything but his first was The Thing with Two Heads and I’ll single out The ExorcistStar WarsThe Howling which I quite love, Starman for the Starman transformation, the Beast design on the Beauty and the Beast series and the first Hellboy film version.
  • Born December 8, 1951 Brian Attebery, 70. If I was putting together a library of reference works right now, Attebery would be high on the list of authors at the center of my shopping list. I think The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature: From Irving to Le Guin is still essential reading and Parabolas of Science Fiction with Veronica Hollinger is very close to a Grand Unification Theory of the Genre. He won a World Fantasy Award for his editing of Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, and a Mythopoetic Scholarship Award for Stories about Stories: Fantasy & the Remaking of Myth.
  • Born December 8, 1954 Rebecca Neason. She wrote a Next Generation novel, Guises of The Mind,  plus several Highlander novels, and two fantasy novels; her widower says one novel went unpublished. She was a regular panelist at conventions in the Pacific Northwest. Jim Fiscus has a remembrance here.  (Died 2010.)
  • Born December 8, 1954 John Silbersack, 67. With Victoria Schochet, he edited the first four volumes of the Berkley Showcase: New Writings in Science Fiction and Fantasy anthology series. Seasonally appropriate, he edited with Chris Schelling, The Magic of Christmas: Holiday Stories of Fantasy and Science Fiction. He’s written a Buck Rogers novel, Rogers’ Rangers, off a treatment by Niven and Pournelle. 
  • Born December 8, 1967 Laura J. Mixon, 64. She won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer at Sasquan for her writing about the abhorrent online activities of Benjanun Sriduangkaew. She has written a number of excellent novels including Glass Houses and Up Against It which got an Otherwise nomination. She is married to SF writer Steven Gould, with whom she co-wrote the novel Greenwar.

(14) GEORGE PÉREZ MEDICAL UPDATE. George Pérez, known for his work on DC’s The New Teen TitansCrisis on Infinite Earths and Wonder Woman, Marvel titles like Infinity Gauntlet and The Avengers, and with Kurt Busiek on the landmark Marvel/DC crossover JLA/Avengers (aka Avengers/JLA), announced on Facebook that he has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.  

To all my fans, friends and extended family,

It’s rather hard to believe that it’s been almost three years since I formally announced my retirement from producing comics due to my failing vision and other infirmities brought on primarily by my diabetes. At the time I was flattered and humbled by the number of tributes and testimonials given me by my fans and peers. The kind words spoken on those occasions were so heartwarming that I used to quip that “the only thing missing from those events was me lying in a box.”

It was amusing at the time, I thought.

Now, not so much. On November 29th I received confirmation that, after undergoing surgery for a blockage in my liver, I have Stage 3 Pancreatic Cancer. It is surgically inoperable and my estimated life expectancy is between 6 months to a year. I have been given the option of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, but after weighing all the variables and assessing just how much of my remaining days would be eaten up by doctor visits, treatments, hospital stays and dealing with the often stressful and frustrating bureaucracy of the medical system, I’ve opted to just let nature take its course and I will enjoy whatever time I have left as fully as possible with my beautiful wife of over 40 years, my family, friends and my fans.

Since I received my diagnosis and prognosis, those in my inner circle have given me so much love, support and help, both practical and emotional. They’ve given me peace.

There will be some business matters to take care of before I go. I am already arranging with my art agent to refund the money paid for sketches that I can no longer finish. And, since, despite only having one working eye, I can still sign my name, I hope to coordinate one last mass book signing to help make my passing a bit easier. I also hope that I will be able to make one last public appearance wherein I can be photographed with as many of my fans as possible, with the proviso that I get to hug each and every one of them. I just want to be able to say goodbye with smiles as well as tears…

(15) SEPTEMBER SONG ENCORE. BasedCon will ride again in September 2022, says chair Rob Kroese. The inaugural event he created to appeal to the “sci-fi writer or fan who is sick of woke politics” (see “BasedCon Planning for Dozens of Attendees”) actually drew 70.

(16) THE ROARING TWENTIES. The New York Times applauds this fashion statement: “Just in Time for Christmas: Knitwear Fit for a T. Rex”.

Behold the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex — all swaddled in a cozy Christmas sweater.

The replica T. rex at the Natural History Museum in London is an enormous, ferocious-looking beast that was built to scale, standing about 60 percent the size of the 40-foot-long prehistoric creature.

The animatronic attraction, which features roaring sound effects, often startles visitors, but on Monday, the predatory edge was somewhat softened when visitors found the T. rex bedecked in a giant blue, red and green holiday sweater, replete with cheerful Christmas trees and snowflakes….

(17) A BIRD IN FLIGHT. The European launch of the book The Space Cuckoo and Other Stories by Arvind Mishra will take place online, on December 13 at 6.00 p.m. Romanian Local Time, on Discord, at the international meeting of Syndicate 9 Science Fiction club from Timisoara, Romania. The guest of the meeting is the author, and the moderator, Darius Hupov.

To participate at the online meeting, please click the invitation link for the Syndicate 9 Discord server:
https://discord.gg/rs2YUAwP. The meeting will take place at the “Intalnirea S9” voice channel.

(18) I’M NOT SAYING IT’S ALIENS… [Item by Dann.] China’s Yutu-2 lunar rover has found something interesting on the moon.  The rover is going to spend the next couple of months trundling over to get a closer look. “China’s Yutu 2 rover spots cube-shaped ‘mystery hut’ on far side of the moon” at Space.com.

China’s Yutu 2 rover has spotted a mystery object on the horizon while working its way across Von Kármán crater on the far side of the moon.

Yutu 2 spotted a cube-shaped object on the horizon to the north and roughly 260 feet (80 meters) away in November during the mission’s 36th lunar day, according to a Yutu 2 diary published by Our Space, a Chinese language science outreach channel affiliated with the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

Our Space referred to the object as a “mystery hut” but this [is] a placeholder name rather than an accurate description….

…but it’s aliens. Or the Transformers lunar base.

(19) GRESHAM’S LAW. Guillermo del Toro, director of Nightmare Alley, appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Guillermo talks about his new movie…,, his attention to detail, his drawing notebook, his mother being a little bit of a “witch,” learning about tarot cards, getting married, shooting around the pandemic, Rooney Mara being secretly pregnant during it, buying and selling things on eBay, and he quizzes Jimmy about 1930s slang.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “In Honest Trailers:  Let There Be Carnage,” the Screen Junkies say ,” If you’re making a film about a squirelly guy who talks to himself, you get Gollum (Andy Serkis) to direct it.”  Under Serkis’s direction, the film features “bad CGI goo,” “bad wigs,” “British actors doing really bad American accents,” and a mysterious reference to Beverly Hills Cop 2!

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chris Barkley, Darius Hupov, Dann, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]