Pixel Scroll 5/16/24 The First Thing We Do, Let’s Scroll All The Pixels

(1) THE SHARP END OF SCIENCE FICTION. At Reactor, James Davis Nicoll delivers a highly scientific “Ranking of Science Fiction’s Most Dangerous Awards”.

… Most awards are woefully unfit as weapons3. Authors with a mantlepiece loaded with award trophies would have few options if, say, they had to ward off an attacker with a handy trophy. But there are a few such options.

Before I list the top candidates for most lethal award trophy4, I should grant an honorable mention to the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award, also known as the Skylark Award. The trophy looks no more dangerous than any random trophy, likely to break as soon as you hit someone with it. However, the trophy is topped by a perfectly functional lens through which sunlight can and has focused to start fires. This is why Skylark Award winner Jane Yolen has advised winners to put the Skylark “where the sun does not shine.” If I were assembling a list of SF trophies most useful for arson, the Skylark would be at the top…

To paraphrase Richard Pryor, I know that when a winner is walking through an airline terminal with a pointy Hugo Award in their hand “people get out of your way.”

(Nicoll omitted the otherwise obvious number one choice, Reddit r/Fantasy’s Stabby, because they’ve been on hiatus since 2021. Fair enough.)

(2) FAN REACTION TO THE NEW DOCTOR. The New York Times tells what it’s like “Watching the New ‘Doctor Who’ With 5 Superfans” (Gift link bypasses paywall.)

…On a recent evening, Richard Unwin, a 44-year-old writer and actor, gathered four other “Doctor Who” fans at his apartment in East London to watch the first two episodes. They were a little nervous about what the Disney influence, and the need to cater to a new, international audience, might have done to their favorite program.

…“I am worried that they will Americanize it,” said George Norohna, a 61-year-old retired civil servant, who remembers the show as the first thing he ever saw on a color television. They were joined by the fantasy author Janelle McCurdy, 28, Francis Beveridge, a 27-year-old neuroscience researcher, and Beth Axford, 26, who writes for “Doctor Who Magazine,” a fan publication….

What does casting Gatwa as the Doctor mean to you?

MCCURDY I know there’s old school Doctor Who fans who might see it as just a token thing. But it means a lot to me as a Black woman.

UNWIN It’s the first time that the Doctor talks like I do, as a gay man.

MCCURDY I feel exactly the same, he’s talking like how I talk.

BEVERIDGE The Doctor has always appealed to gay men, because he’s a nonconventional male role model. So having the doctor be more queer has allowed people to identify that bit more closely with him.

(3) GONE IN SIXTY SECONDS. The trolls have found a new way to get at Patrick S. Tomlinson. He posted this on Facebook yesterday.

(4) HOW GREEN WAS YOUR BALLET. Entertainment Weekly enthuses that“The new ‘Wicked’ trailer has us dancing through life”.

…The trailer shows young outcast Elphaba (Erivo) and the ever-popular Glinda (Grande) arriving at Shiz University, where they immediately clash. But their rivalry cannot keep them apart because Headmistress Madame Morrible (Michelle Yeoh) wastes no time in assigning them as roommates….

(5) HUGO BOOK CLUB BLOG HVP IN SCOTS. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Last year, we were one of several Hugo Award finalists who ensured that our Hugo Voter Packet materials were available in the local language out of respect for the fact that the Worldcon was being held in China. With the Worldcon being held in Glasgow in 2024, we started thinking about the fact that there are significant minority languages in Scotland, but that they don’t garner the same sort of respect from outsiders.

Having made a couple of (possibly ill-considered) jokes about the matter, Amanda and I reached out to experts in Scots languages and dialects to learn more. In the end, we decided that (although not strictly necessary), having our Hugo Voter Packet available in Scots would be an appropriate gesture in recognition of the country’s linguistic diversity and distinct cultural identity that is different than any of the other British nations. As of today, thanks to the Scots Language Centre, that translation is complete and is available on our blog. A PDF of this will be prepared and sent to the Worldcon. “Hugo Book Club Blog: Hugo Packet Translated (2024)”.

Note: Scots is one of three native languages spoken in Scotland, the other two being English and Scottish Gaelic.

Here’s a brief example of the Scots translation from the opening lines of “The Un-American wey that a Lee-Science Fan fae the Left wis haunelt” (English: “The Un-American Treatment of a Leftist Science Fiction Fan”.)

Chan Davis (1929-2022) wis weel kent tae fans o lee-science in the 1940s an 1950s. He wis a fanzine editor, an early filker, kent for his daffin at Worldcon, an a ongauin screivar wi Astounding Science Fiction.

But the publict in general is mair likely tae mind o him as a mathematician…an as a political presonar….

(6) HEARING FROM SAWYER. Science Fiction 101 podcast hosts Phil Nichols and Colin Kuskie present episode 42 “Off On A Tangent – more interview fun with award-winning novelist Robert J. Sawyer”.

Time for another regular episode of the podcast, and this time we have more interview goodness from the Hugo- and Nebula-winning SF writer Robert J. Sawyer. We had so much fun talking to Rob about his new novel The Downloaded (see episode 40) that we decided to gather up our more general discussion into a separate segment. So here you will hear talk of Planet of the Apes, science fiction conferences, and much much more.

We also have a mostly Star Trek quiz, but with a few Star Wars questions thrown in to trip Phil up.

And the usual recommendations of past/present/future SF.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born May 16, 1969 David Boreanaz, 55. David Boreanaz is one of the performers that I really like as an individual as himself, and always as a character, though sometimes better in some series.  

Before I get to his genre roles, let me tell about about me about my favorite role by him. It’s  Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Jason Hayes in the SEAL Team series.  It’s a role that gives a depth of personality that mostly lacking in his previous role as Angel on his own series of Angel as he is executive producer here

David Boreanaz at GalaxyCon Austin 2023.

The series tells the story of a team of Navy operatives called Bravo that do covert missions overseas, many of which, if you pardon my slang, are SNAFUed. It got more realistically portrayed when the series moved off CBS to Paramount + and the language restrictions were gone, so fuck and such language were allowed. Their personal lives of course get messily intertwined with their professional ones. 

Speaking of Seeley Booth, let’s discuss Bones. I like the series as having seen all of it save the last season. Temperance Brennan and the other characters are mostly interesting, and her relationship with Seeley is fascinating. 

The show itself? It’s is pseudoscience-science. Like such series that shows lots pretty, impressive technology, it’s not really able to do what the writers say it can. Yes, I’ve read the actual forensic experts critique such series. That it crosses over into the fantasy of the Sleepy Hollow series makes it genre in some manner. Seeley Booth actually will be on that series for an episode. 

Now Seeley himself is great character. An FBI agent that is fun to watch and I think that Boreanaz early on figured out his character couldn’t be taken too seriously.  He looks like an archetypal agent FBI — tall, muscular and handsome. He’s even a deeply religious man here , as he was raised and still is a practicing Catholic. Philadelphia born, the sports teams show up in the series.  I like him at lot in this role as I do in the following series. 

And that is on Angel, and not Buffy on the Vampire Slayer, where I thought he was was interesting but didn’t live up to his full potential as character so I’m going to skip over him there. Why Angel, you say? Because that series, like SEAL Team, was centered on him. 

By the way, The “Smile Time” episode of the fifth season had the storyline of a television children’s show stealing the life forces of those children by hypnotizing them so when Angel goes to the studio to uncover the evil doings, he triggers a spell when entering there that transforms him into a puppet. 

So, the ever so cool puppet done at time I now realize I should’ve bought. The cheapest mint one on eBay, and I think the price is quite reasonable given the Angel series aired twenty years ago, is now one hundred and twenty-five dollars. 

But more than that and yes that was crucial to his development as a performer there, I thought the scripts there were far better than they were on Buffy. Oh. Buffy had its stellar storylines, but I think Angel just worked better in terms of pure ongoing storytelling than Buffy did. So that meant Angel there was a more rounded, interesting character there than he was on Buffy

Finally, though not chronologically, he voiced Hal Jordan in Justice League: The New Frontier. In an episode of Bones, “The Pain in the Heart”, Seeley is in his bathtub reading a Green Lantern comic.  Nice touch that was.

As always, this is not a full look at every genre role he did, so feel free to give me anything you feel I should have included here. 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lola finds the new king.

(9) SFF AUTHOR ON JEOPARDY! THIS MONTH. Ellen Klages will be on Jeopardy! on May 22 (and possibly subsequently) reports Steven H Silver.

(10) JEOPARDY! SFF REFERENCES. [By David Goldfarb.] Monday’s episode of Jeopardy! Masters and Tuesday’s episode of Jeopardy! had some more SFF-related questions. Here they are:

Jeopardy! 5/14/2024

Prequels & Sequels, $1600: Suzanne Collins tells the backstory of Coriolanus Snow in her 2020 “Hunger Games” prequel, “The Ballad of” these 2 animals

Ashley Atkin responded, “What are songbirds and snakes?”

Prequels & Sequels, $1200: A book with famous sequels begins, “In a hole in the ground, there lived” one of these

Ashley, “What is a hobbit?”

Prequels & Sequels, $2000: “The Infernal Devices” is a prequel trilogy to this Cassandra Clare series that includes “City of Bones” & “City of Ashes”

This was a triple stumper. The series is “The Mortal Instruments”.

Jeopardy! Masters 5/13/2024

Game 1, Double Jeopardy round:

Looking for Something to Read, $2000: Published in the 1880s, his utopian novel “Looking Backward” was set in the year 2000

Victoria Groce was up on her utopias, responding “Who’s Bellamy?”

Speaking My Language, $1200: This fictional language in “Game of Thrones” has more than a dozen different words for horse

James Holzhauer knew it was Dothraki.

Speaking My Language, $2000: “The Epic of Gilgamesh” was written in Akkadian, which supplanted this, considered the world’s oldest written language

This one went to Matt Amodio: “What’s Sumerian?”

Looking for Something to Read, $400: Chess, reverse imagery & the poem “Jabberwocky” appear in this sequel from the 1870s

Victoria got it: “What is ‘Through the Looking-Glass’?”

Game 2, Single Jeopardy round:

I’m Chris Pratt, $800: “I worked hard to lose 60 pounds to play Peter Quill, also known by this name, in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’. The toughest part — brace yourselves — I quit drinking beer.”

Amy Schneider sounded uncertain or even incredulous: “What is…Star-Lord?” But this was correct.

Mais Oui, French Lit, $400: The narrator of this children’s book believes the title royal is from out of town…asteroid B-612, to be Precise

It went to Yogesh Raut: “What is ‘The Little Prince’?”

(11) HALL OF FAMER’S LATEST. Matt Hughes writes fantasy, space opera, crime, and historical fiction. He has sold 24 novels as well as 100 works of short fiction. He’s won the Endeavour and Arthur Ellis Awards, and has been inducted into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association’s Hall of Fame

His new novel is The One:

Meet Luff Imbry, an insidiously clever thief, forger, and confidence man . . . He likes good wine, good food, and good stolen goods, and he always maintains the upper hand.

Luff Imbry returns from the weird planet Fulda, to which he was shanghaied by a mysterious enemy, only to find that an impostor has stolen from the strongroom at his private club collection of magical paraphernalia he acquired from a would-be thaumaturge.

That’s impossible, but Imbry has to deal with reality. He sets off on a quest to solve the mystery and recover his goods, bringing him into conflict with shadowy forces that are preparing for the great change, when the universe once again gives up on rationalism and embraces an age of magic.

The odds are against him, but Imbry is a great improvisor.

The book is available as a paperback or ebook from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

(12) EAT THE FORCE, LUKE. Gizmodo promises “Oreo’s Special Edition Star Wars Cookies Are Here to Feed Your Inner Wookiee”. (Oreo’s dedicated Star Wars webpage is at the link.)

…The fun catch? You won’t know which side you’ve got until you actually open the package. Each pack will feature one of two different color fillings: red for the dark side and blue for the light side—both infused with “kyber” sugar crystals inspired by lightsaber cores. The Oreos also feature heroes or villains embossed on the cookies themselves, with characters like Darth Vader, Darth Maul, and a stormtrooper representing the dark side, and Luke Skywalker, Yoda, and Princess Leia representing the light side. In total, there will be 20 iconic characters featured….

Greg Hildebrandt’s hand-painted pack art features 14 individual one-of-a-kind characters by the iconic Star Wars™ poster artist.

(13) INTEGRAL TREES? “Tree seeds that flew around the moon are now are being planted across the U.S.”NPR is a witness.

In late 2022, a NASA flight around the moon carried a variety of tree seeds. After their time in space, they returned to Earth. And now, the hope is that they will become moon trees. Troy, Ala., is one of the first places to get one. Here’s Troy Public Radio’s Joey Hudson….

MCCARTHY: There was a very significant preparation process to make sure they were completely dry and that there would be no moisture or potential. They tried to protect the seeds as much as possible from any impacts related to heat.

HUDSON: The mission was a success. After about four weeks, the seeds returned to Earth and were tested for radiation levels and genetic variants. And then the seeds became seedlings to be planted in communities around the country, like here at Troy University….

(14) BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR. “After 250 hours, a Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom player lost an 82% complete save and declared ‘I’m free’ until he tragically realized he could get it back”. GamesRadar+ relays the pathos.

One The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom player suffered what seemed like the ultimate tragedy in losing a 250-hour, 82% complete save file. But it turns out there’s a fate even worse: getting that save file back.

Back on April 23, Brian ‘Brian_F’ Foster, a competitive fighting game player and commentator, revealed that he had beaten Tears of the Kingdom after 250 hours, having gotten all Shrines, all light roots, all Armor sets, all Sage’s Wills, and all Yiga schematics. But with six sidequests missing and the map only 77% completed, Brian_F decided to keep going for a 100% completion run.Tears of the Kingdom is an amazing, expansive game that’s an absolute joy to explore – up until the very moment you decide you want to 100% complete it. We’re talking about a feat that initially took speedrunners 139 hours – that’s over five days straight – to complete, and while Speedrun.com shows those runs are now down to ‘just’ one or two days, that’s still a good metric for you to judge just how arduous and menial going for full completion here can be….

(15) I THEME OF JEANNIE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Not new, but only just discovered it: “Jeannie’s Diner” by Mark Jonathan Davis (1990) – Nick At Nite TV Promo from 1995.

I’m familiar with Mark Jonathan Davis from his great Star Wars parodies, including “The Phantom Medley, Bob Hope At The Mos Eisley” comedy routine (also a Johnny Carson one), and more.

(I’ve got the CD, and more recently found his “The Star Wars Cantina” parody of “Copacabana” (1997) which he wasn’t allowed to include on the CD).

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

Pixel Scroll 5/15/24 Goodbye Yellow Brick Scroll, May the Dogs of Pixelry Howl

(1) AND THE WINNING NAME IS… You weren’t holding your breath waiting for them to quit kidding around and reveal the final title, were you? Well, if you were, inhale! Variety has it: “’Agatha All Along’ Sets September Premiere Date on Disney+”.

…The “WandaVision” spinoff “Agatha All Along” has set its Disney+ premiere date.

The series will debut with two episodes on Sept.. 18. The announcement was made during the Disney upfront presentation to advertisers in New York on Tuesday.

Series star Kathryn Hahn took the stage with co-stars Joe Locke and Patti LuPone, who confirmed the series’ title after a number of changes. The show was first called “Agatha: House of Harkness.” The title appeared to change to “Agatha: Coven of Chaos” by July 2022, and then to “Agatha: Darkhold Diaries” in September 2023….

(2) THE CASE FOR PLAIN ELVES. [Item by Danny Sichel.] This video essay by Perseus Grim argues “Why Fantasy Worlds SHOULD Be Stuck in Medieval Times”.

(3) MILLENNIA BEFORE DUNE. “Dune: Prophecy: first trailer for female-led prequel TV series” – the Guardian sets the frame.

The first trailer for the much-anticipated TV prequel to the recent Dune movies promises a female-fronted look at life 10,000 years before.

Dune: Prophecy will follow the roots of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood led by the Harkonnen siblings, played by Emily Watson and Olivia Williams. Later members of the sect are played by Rebecca Ferguson and Charlotte Rampling on the big screen.

It is inspired by the novel Sisterhood of Dune, written by Kevin J Anderson and Brian Herbert, the elder son of Frank Herbert, who wrote the original Dune novels….

(4) RAGE REQUIRED. Stephanie Burt plumbs “The Radical Worldmaking of Joanna Russ” in The Nation.

“From now on, I will not trust anyone who isn’t angry.” The science-fiction writer Joanna Russ set down those words in 1984. They might have been Russ’s motto. From her 1968 novel Picnic on Paradise, about a time-traveling, take-no-prisoners female assassin named Alyx, to her 1975 pathbreaking lesbian and feminist novel The Female Man, to her collection of essays on feminism, What Are We Fighting For?, in 1997, Russ wrote unsparingly, if also elegantly, against those elements in society that keep women, especially lesbians, from becoming our best selves. Her novels and essays sometimes cut themselves short; other times, they cut to the bone. They could make room for hope, and for solidarity, and for erotic joy. Russ saw what was wrong with the world we know, how much needless pain it contains on account of gender roles—and she let herself stay angry about it, too.

Divisive in her lifetime, admired within the world of science fiction then and now, Russ has recently become the seventh sci-fi writer, and the third female one (after Octavia Butler and Ursula K. Le Guin), to get a whole Library of America volume. Assembling four novels (Picnic on ParadiseThe Female ManOn Strike Against God, and We Who Are About To…) along with shorter stories, the Library of America volume helps the reader understand the scale and scope of her talents as a prose stylist and a writer of metafiction. And it lets readers see—in Russ, and in the 1970s feminism that nurtured her—not only the rage but also the hope that her astringent imagination found…

(5) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Space Cowboy Books of Joshua Tree, CA has released episode 75 of the Simultaneous Times podcast. The stories featured in this episode are:

  • “Memory Scars” by Adele Gardner; with music by TSG
  • “The Good Twin” by Marie Vibbert; with music by Phog Masheeen

Theme music by Dain Luscombe. Listen to all episodes on your favorite podcast player or at Podmatic.

(6) BEWARE TINY SPOILER. In The Hollywood Reporter: “Doctor Who Boss Russell T Davies on Callbacks, Villains and Disney Notes”. Sort of tiny spoiler here.

There’s a moment where the Doctor uses his Sonic Screwdriver to enable Ruby’s (the Doctor’s companion, played by Millie Gibson) phone to call her mum, even though they are thousands of years apart. That’s a lovely callback to your 2005 episode “The End of the World,” where the Ninth Doctor (Ecclestondid the very same thing for his companion Rose.

Yes, it is. It’s what he’d do. I remember sitting writing that thinking, “Oh gosh, I did that. I’ve done that before.” And then I thought, “Well, I did it 19 years ago and this is a brand new audience. But it’s very important that she doesn’t feel separated and abandoned from her family.” So there’s no way he couldn’t do it again, because it’s a good scene. It’s what he’d do, it needs reminding.

This time, when Ruby gets her phone zapped, she says, “How much did that cost?” Rose wouldn’t have thought of that. There’s something a lot more savvy about it. Ruby’s very aware of that 50 quid she got for a gig last night. And that’s her first question, “What does that cost?” I like that.

(7) ELENA STEIER (1958-2024). Comics creator Elena Steier died March 1 of cancer. The family obituary is in the Hartford Courant.

…An accomplished illustrator, author, and cartoonist, Steier created several comics and strips, such as The Ramp Rats (for the Detroit Metropolitan News), The Goth Scouts (for The South Shore Monthly Newspaper) and The Vampire Bed and Breakfast (a self-published comic book)….

Cartoonist Mike Lynch has put together an extensive tribute.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born May 15, 1909 James Mason. (Died 1984.) I do believe the first time I saw James Mason acting was in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest where he had the role of Phillip Vandamm, a Cold War spy. Three years after this, he’d be on the Alfred Hitchcock Hour as Warren Barrow in the “Captive Audience” episode. 

James Mason as Captain Nemo driving the getaway submarine.

Now let’s turn to what he did as genre roles. The one you most likely remember him from is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea where he was Captain Nemo. Surely you remember his fight with the squid? The film was personally produced by Walt Disney, something he rarely did.

He’s Hendrik van der Zee in Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, based off that story. He may or may not be the Flying Dutchman. Let’s say the film is ambiguous. Deliberately. 

He was Rupert of Hentzau in The Prisoner of Zenda which is at least genre adjacent, isn’t it? Well I think it is. Truly great silly film, and an amusing role for him. 

In Journey to the Center of the Earth, he was Sir Oliver S. Lindenbrook, a professor. He was not the first choice here as Clifton Webb had been cast but turned it down as he said he could not play the part because it was such a physical part. Mason said later that he delighted in doing his stunts here.

He played Polidori in the Frankenstein: The True Story, a thirteen-episode series. Now let’s recall that Dr. Polidori did not appear in the original novel, but was rather based on the character of Dr. Pretorius from Universal Pictures’ Bride of Frankenstein, but named after John Polidori, an acquaintance of author Mary Shelley.

Finally he’s in Salem’s Lot as Richard K. Straker.

 Very impressive as a performer I’d say. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! depicts overreaction to criticism
  • The Argyle Sweater is proud of its bad video game titles.
  • Carpe Diem reveals something we never knew about flying saucers.

(10) BODY DOUBLES. “’3 Body Problem’ Renewed for Season 2 at Netflix” reports Variety.

3 Body Problem” has been renewed for at least one more season at Netflix — the streamer says that the number of seasons and episodes will be announced at a later date.

It appears that the greenlight will take the series to its finale, as creators David Benioff, D.B. Weiss and Alexander Woo noted in a statement that they “get to tell this story through to its epic conclusion.” In an April interview with Collider, Benioff said the team would “need at least three, maybe four seasons to tell the whole story.”

Based on the novels by Liu Cixin, “3 Body Problem” follows how a decision made by a young woman in 1960s China reverberates across space and time into the present day, driving a group of scientists to join forces with an unorthodox detective to confront a major threat to humanity.

(11) A SONG OF ICE OR FIRE. While some think the new portrait of King Charles makes it look like he’s trapped in flames or swimming in blood, Filer Carl says the portrait of King Charles looks a bit like Han Solo frozen in carbonite. You decide!

(12) YESTERDAY’S VIDEO. We take you now to the year 2015 to enjoy the “’Star Wars Fan’ – Official ‘Rocket Man’ Parody”.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Todd Mason, Carl, Daniel Dern, Danny Sichel, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Teddy Harvia, and Kathy Sullivan for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bonnie McDaniel.]

Pixel Scroll 5/12/24 With A Sprinkle Of Pixel Dust, You Can File Like A Bird

(1) COMPLAINTS AS FANIMECON DROPS MASKING REQUIREMENT AT LAST MINUTE. [Item by Janice Gelb.] FanimeCon in San Jose made the following announcement on May 12, 12 days before the con starts, and is refusing to provide refunds to people who now don’t feel they can attend safely (not to mention travel arrangement costs and the hotel’s cancellation policy now requires them to pay for one night). “FanimeCon | Masking Policy Change”.

FanimeCon is changing our masking policy from ‘required’ to ‘strongly recommended’ due to feedback from our attendees, staff, and local health partners. Some events may require mandatory masking due space issues and bigger crowds.

The complete policy is here: “FanimeCon COVID-19 Vaccination Policy”.

(2) LIADEN UNIVERSE® IS MARCHING ON. Sharon Lee was happy with Joshua Tyler’s article “The Best Sci-Fi Read You’ve Missed Is Filled With Spies, Romance, And Massive Space Battles Stretched Over 27 Books” at GiantFreakinRobot except for one thing, which she blogged about today: “From the mail bag” at Sharon Lee, Writer.

Despite being largely positive, Mr. Tyler’s piece contains a sentence which has . . . horrified, concerned, and angered some Liaden readers and fans, and thus I find letters in my mailbox.  This blog post is a blanket reply to those letters, and statements of concern.

Mr. Tyler states:  “Sadly, Liaden co-author Steve Miller died suddenly on February 20, 2024. He was 73. It’s unclear if Sharon will continue writing the series without him. As a fan of the series, I hope not.” (bolding is mine)

Now, whether this is opinion or corrigendum, I can’t tell you.  I am not the author of the piece.  In general, it’s wise to assume that what the author wrote is what the author meant, and Mr. Tyler is, as we all are, entitled to his opinion.

What I can say is this:  There are three Liaden Universe® novels now under contract with Baen Books.  I am currently lead on one of those, the sequel to Ribbon Dance.  In addition, before Steve’s death and the attendant dis- and re-organizations engendered by that cataclysm, I was making notes for the sequel to the sequel.  Steve was lead on Trade Lanes, which had become increasingly difficult for him as his heart slowly failed him.  I may or may not be able, eventually, to finish Trade Lanes.  If not, another Liaden book will fill the third slot.

So, for the moment, Mr. Tyler must reside in disappointment.  Sharon will be continuing the series, but, not, as he supposes, “without” Steve….

 (3) TREK’S OWN STORAGE WAR. “Court is the final frontier for this lost ‘Star Trek’ model” reports the LA Times. Junot Diaz posted the text of the Times’ paywalled story on Facebook. It says in part:

In April, Heritage Auctions heralded the discovery of the original model of the U.S.S. Enterprise, the iconic starship that whooshed through the stars in the opening credits of the 1960s TV series “Star Trek” but had mysteriously disappeared around 45 years ago.

The auction house, known for its dazzling sales of movie and television props and memorabilia, announced that it was returning the 33-inch model to Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry Jr., son of series creator Gene Roddenberry. The model was kept at Heritage’s Beverly Hills office for “safekeeping,” the house proclaimed in a statement, shortly after an individual discovered it and brought it to Heritage for authentication.

“After a long journey, she’s home,” Roddenberry’s son posted on X, (formerly Twitter).

But the journey has been far from smooth. The starship model and its celebrated return is now the subject of a lawsuit alleging fraud, negligence and deceptive trade practice, highlighting the enduring value of memorabilia from the iconic sci-fi TV series.

The case was brought by Dustin Riach and Jason Rivas, longtime friends and self-described storage unit entrepreneurs who discovered the model among a stash of items they bought “sight unseen” from a lien sale at a storage locker in Van Nuys last October.

“It’s an unfortunate misunderstanding. We have a seller on one side and a buyer on the other side and Heritage is in the middle, and we are aligning the parties on both sides to get the transaction complete,” said Armen Vartian, an attorney representing the Dallas-based auction house, adding that the allegations against his client were “unfounded.”

The pair claimed that once the model was authenticated and given a value of $800,000, they agreed to consign it to an auction sale with Heritage planned for July 2024, according to the lawsuit. However, following their agreement, they allege the auction house falsely questioned their title to the model and then convinced them, instead of taking it to auction, to sell it for a low-ball $500,000 to Roddenberry Entertainment Inc. According to the suit, Eugene Roddenberry, the company’s CEO, had shown great interest in the model and could potentially provide a pipeline of memorabilia to the auction house in the future.

“They think we have a disagreement with Roddenberry,” said Dale Washington, Riach and Rivas’ attorney. “We don’t. We think they violated property law in the discharge of their fiduciary duties.”

The two men allege they have yet to receive the $500,000 payment.

For years, Riach and Rivas have made a living buying repossessed storage lockers and selling the contents online, at auction and at flea markets. In fact, Riach has appeared on the reality TV series “Storage Wars.”

“It’s a roll of dice in the dark,” Riach said of his profession bidding on storage lockers. “Sometimes you are buying a picture of a unit. When a unit goes to lien, what you see is what you get and the rest is a surprise. At a live auction you can shine a flashlight, smell and look inside to get a gauge. But online is a gamble, it’s only as good as the photo.”

Last fall, Riach said he saw a picture of a large locker in an online sale. It was 10 feet by 30 feet, and “I saw boxes hiding in the back, it was dirty, dusty, there were cobwebs and what looked like a bunch of broken furniture,” he said.

Something about it, he said, “looked interesting,” and he called Rivas and told him they should bid on it. Riach declined to say how much they paid.

There were tins of old photographs and negatives of nitrate film reels from the 1800s and 1900s. When Rivas unwrapped a trash bag that was sitting on top of furniture, he pulled out a model of a spaceship. The business card of its maker, Richard C. Datin, was affixed to the bottom of the base.

A Google search turned up that Datin had made “Star Trek” models, although the two men didn’t make the connection to the TV series.

“We buy lots of units and see models all of the time,” Riach said. He thought they would find a buyer and decided to list it on eBay with a starting price of $1,000….

(4) BALLARD’S MACHINED POETRY. The Conversation says “Novelist J.G. Ballard was experimenting with computer-generated poetry 50 years before ChatGPT was invented”.

…Listening recently to the audiobook version of Ballard’s autobiography Miracles of Life, one very short passage seemed to speak directly to these contemporary debates about generative artificial intelligence and the perceived power of so-called large language models that create content in response to prompts. Ballard, who was born in 1930 and died in 2009, reflected on how, during the very early 1970s, when he was prose editor at Ambit (a literary quarterly magazine that published from 1959 until April 2023) he became interested in computers that could write:

“I wanted more science in Ambit, since science was reshaping the world, and less poetry. After meeting Dr Christopher Evans, a psychologist who worked at the National Physical Laboratories, I asked him to contribute to Ambit. We published a remarkable series of computer generated poems which Martin said were as good as the real thing. I went further, they were the real thing.”

Ballard said nothing else about these poems in the book, nor does he reflect on how they were received at the time. Searching through Ambit back-issues issues from the 1970s I managed to locate four items that appeared to be in the series to which Ballard referred. They were all seemingly produced by computers and published between 1972 and 1977….

(5) BLEEPS WITHOUT END. Scott Lynch has a pretty clear idea about how Harlan would respond to Lincoln Michel’s question.

(6) IN A GALAXY OF SFF, ONE CONSTELLATION IS BLINKING OUT. The Verge argues that “Apple TV Plus is turning into the best place for streaming sci-fi”. The article discusses a large number of series. But one of them isn’t going to be around for long.

…More recently, the service has edged toward a darker tone. First there was the debut of Constellation earlier this year, which starred Noomi Rapace as an astronaut who returned to an Earth that’s very different than the one she left. And now we have Dark Matter based on the novel by Blake Crouch, which premieres on May 8th. It’s a multiversal story about a physicist played by Joel Edgerton who gets kidnapped by a parallel version of himself. So far, I’ve watched the first two episodes, and it manages to merge the tone of a tense thriller with the mind-bending nature of time travel, creating the kind of story that intentionally makes you feel unmoored. Also, there are some very large and impressive cubes…

Two days ago Deadline reported “’Constellation’ Canceled By Apple After One Season”.

 Apple TV+ has opted not to continue with a second season of Constellation, its sci-fi psychological thriller series starring Noomi Rapace and Jonathan Banks. The news comes a month and a half after Constellation‘s eight-episode first season wrapped its quiet run on the streamer March 27.

Created and written by Peter Harness, Constellation stars Rapace as Jo – an astronaut who returns to Earth after a disaster in space – only to discover that key pieces of her life seem to be missing. The action-packed space adventure is an exploration of the dark edges of human psychology, and one woman’s desperate quest to expose the truth about the hidden history of space travel and recover all that she has lost.

… Sci-fi is a core genre for Apple TV+ whose roster of series also includes For All Mankind, recently renewed for a fifth season alongside a pickup for a spinoff series, Star City, as well as Foundation, Severance, Invasion and Silo — all slated to return with new seasons.

Apple’s latest entry in the genre, Dark Matter, premiered this week, with Neuromancer, starring Callum Turner, and Murderbot, headlined by Alexander Skarsgard, coming up. The streamer also had an surprise entrant into the space with the mystery drama Sugar, which took an unexpected sci-fi turn last week.

(7) LEIGH EDMONDS’ AUSTRALIAN FANHISTORY. From Bruce Richard Gillespie on Facebook I learned that Norstrilia Press has published Leigh Edmonds’ fanhistory Proud and Lonely: A History of Science Fiction Fandom in Australia. Part One: 1930 – 1961

Proud and Lonely is a new history of science fiction and its fans in Australia, telling the story of its arrival in Australia in the 1920s, and the start here of a sub-culture of fans of the genre.

Historian Dr Leigh Edmonds shows how science fiction was seen as a low form of literature and didn’t get public acceptance until at least the 1970s.

Because of the frequent ridicule, fans of the genre kept quiet about their interest in public. But in private they sought out other fans, locally and overseas. They corresponded, started clubs and published amateur magazines about the genre.

They created a fascinating sub-culture that was a microcosmos of Australian life from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Norstrilia Press in its first incarnation had its major focus on science fiction, and Leigh’s history makes a significant contribution to the study of the field. It will also be of value to people interested in cultural and literary studies.

Proud and Lonely is the first of a two-part history exploring how science fiction fandom developed in Australia, from its beginnings in the 1930s to the first World Science Fiction Convention held in Australia, in 1975.

Part one deals with the early period up to 1961, when government regulations prevented most science fiction from being imported into Australia, and the seeds were sown of a gathering energy that would raise Australia’s profile in the global science fiction community.

Available from bookshops and online.

(8) FROM BROOKLYN TO ROHAN. [Item by Dann.] Mike Burke found himself in the theater department auditioning for a part in Newsies: the Musical.  One of the songs from that production – “Brooklyn’s Here” — seemed to match the narrative of the riders of Rohan arriving at the Pelennor Fields.  And a little filking ensued. “Rohan’s Here!” at Storytelling Skunkworks.

…We are Riders (of Rohan!)

The beacons are lit and Gondor is hurtin’

Facing total disaster for certain

That’s our cue lads, it’s time to come runnin’

Hey Minas Tirith, the calvalry’s comin’!…

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born May 12, 1950 Bruce Boxleitner, 74. Let’s look at our Birthday celebrant, Bruce Boxleitner, first for the interesting work he did before that series. 

One of my very favorite characters that he played was the top-level unnamed Agency operative Lee Stetson on the Scarecrow and Mrs. King which starred him and Kate Jackson as divorced housewife Amanda King and top-level Agency operative Lee Stetson as they began their unusual partnership and eventual romance after encountering one another in a train station. It ran for four seasons.

Remember Kenny Rogers’ song “The Gambler”? Well, it would afterwards become a series of Gambler movies. Boxleitner played Billy Montanain in three of five films being the sidekick to Roger’s Brady Hawkes character. He was the comic relief in those films apparently. I’ve not seen them. 

Bruce Boxleitner at Phoenix Comicon in 2011. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

He’s been on Outer Limits in “Decompression” as Senator Wyndom Brody in a twisty time travel episode that’d make Heinlein proud. Enough said of that story. He had a recurring role as another politician on the first Supergirl series as President Phillip Baker, a vain, egotistical man. He even played the President of the Planetary Union President on The Orville.

Then there’s Tron where he has the dual roles of Alan Bradley, a programmer at ENCOM Boxleitner and Tron, a security program developed by Bradley to self-monitor communications between the MCP and the real world. It’s an amazing dual for him. He’d reprise, in voice, so I supposed in spirit as well, that role in the animated TronUprising series, and then in I think finally in the animated Tron: Legacy film. 

So that brings us to Babylon 5 commander, Captain John Sheridan. What an amazing role it was for. Lis Carey says of him, “John Sheridan was raised in a diplomat’s family, and enlisted in the military–leading to him becoming a war hero, the only officer to win a battle against the Minbari. When he became the second commander of Babylon 5, he was not well received by the Minbari. Relations obviously improved, while the Earth Alliance was being transformed into a military dictatorship, which Sheridan opposed. In the last season, after confronting the Earth Alliance decisively, he became President of the new Interstellar Alliance, and subsequently married the Minbari ambassador, Delenn.”

Ok, it was a great role and if you haven’t seen it, go see it that’s all I have to say so. I’m ending this now. Have a good night.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) COUNT HIM IN. [Item by Steven French.] Guardian television reviewer Joel Golby becomes one of us: “Doctor Who: even the haters will find it impossible to resist Ncuti Gatwa”.

The injection of Disney cash has definitely helped – the new series looks utterly, hugely epic, but without sliding into the “CGI on top of another layer of CGI” thing that could ruin a still pleasingly British-feeling series like this – and the casting of the two new leads is inspired. If it first came out now, a show like Doctor Who – an infinite number of universes and possible monsters and possible problems and possible ancient villains – would be easy to mess up, push it so it’s too sci-fi, forget to ever come back down to Earth, have Gatwa trapped in a studio for a few months acting opposite a tennis ball. But you’ve got 60 years of lore and an army of fans guarding it and ready to email you if you mess with it too much, and I honestly think that probably helps keep Doctor Who honest. I’ll see you for the Christmas special this year. I think I’ve been converted.

(12) THE PRICE IS A HORROR, TOO. The dramatically-staged Montegrappa Universal Monsters Fountain Pen – Frankenstein edition can be yours for a mere $9,175.

Vintage Hollywood staging and mechanical mayhem are the base ingredients for an homage to a horror icon. Montegrappa’s own strain of mad science brings Frankenstein’s creation back to life, with props and special effects that revisit the magic of a 1931 cinema classic. Energy pulses through its XXL, all-brass body, with ingenious complications to re-animate the senses – bringing fun to high function.

(13) AGED IN THE CROCK, ER, CASK. Nothing to do with sff, except for all the fans who like to drink this sort of thing. And for you, we present Tasting Table’s interview, “Pappy Van Winkle’s Grandson Tells Us 10 Things You May Not Know About Old Rip Van Winkle”.

… Additionally, Van Winkle III noted the 15-year bourbon makes a great cocktail. Now, we know that for some of you, mixing any Old Rip Van Winkle whiskey into a cocktail may sound like blasphemy. But Van Winkle III believes you shouldn’t be worried about mixing high-quality alcohol into a drink. Either way, because the 15-year hits that sweet spot of flavor between younger and older whiskey expressions, Van Winkle III thinks it’s “a fun one to have.”…

I laughed because it reminds me that when LASFS’ Len Moffatt hosted a party he warned the guys that violence would ensue if he found any of us making mixed drinks with his Cutty Sark.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George invites us to step inside the Pitch Meeting that led to Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver.

[Thanks to Steven French, Teddy Harvia, Kathy Sullivan, John J. Arkansawyer, Daniel Dern, Gary Farber, Janice Gelb, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kevin Harkness.]

Pixel Scroll 5/11/24 I’m Still Scrolling After All This Time, Picking Up The Pixels Of My Life Without You In My File

(1) SCAM TARGETING WESTERN AUTHORS PURPORTS TO BE FROM SCIENCE FICTION WORLD. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] On Saturday May 11th, the Weibo account of Science Fiction World magazine issued a statement about fraudulent emails addressed to authors.  The emails claimed that SFW had decided to no longer publish work by the author that had previously been acquired, but would retain the copyright, and offered the author the chance to pay to reclaim their copyright.  The post did include an image showing part of the (English language) email that one affected author did receive, but redacted their name.  A Weibo post a day or so earlier identified at least one such affected author, but at time of writing, that author hasn’t posted about it on Twitter or Bluesky, so I’ve not included their name here.

A Google Translate rendition of the statement, with minor manual edits, follows.

Dear readers, authors and partners,

Recently, we have received feedback from foreign science fiction writers that we work with. Some criminals are using impersonation techniques to launch carefully planned email fraud incidents targeting those foreign writers.

This fraudulent email uses the email address “[email protected]“, purporting to be from an editor at our company.  It falsely informs the author that their work will not be published due to so-called “commercial evaluation” or other reasons, and illegally claims to retain the copyright of the author’s work, proposing that the author should pay a fee to redeem their copyright.

We strongly condemn such illegal behavior and have taken corresponding measures to cooperate with law enforcement agencies and actively investigate the matter.  In order to protect the rights and interests of all authors, readers and partners, we hereby issue the following anti-fraud guidelines. Please be vigilant and jointly prevent such fraud as follows:

1. Get confirmation through official channels: Our company will formally notify you through official channels (the official contact channels are indicated on the copyright pages of “Science Fiction World” and its journals) for any decisions regarding the publication status of the work, copyright transfer, or financial transactions. . When receiving similar emails, please do not reply directly to the email, but verify through official channels.

2. Be wary of fake email addresses: Scammers often use addresses that are very similar to official email addresses to send emails.  When receiving similar emails, please carefully check the sender’s email address and pay attention to identifying subtle differences, such as adding or replacing characters, using different top-level domain names, etc.

3. Understand the formal processes: Our company has complete and strict business processes. For major matters such as copyright and contract changes, our company will implement a strict and formal process and will never make a hasty decision through just one email.

4. Direct communication verification: If you receive such an email, the most direct and effective way is to contact us through the official contact method you know to verify the situation. Never use the contact number or return address provided in the email for verification.

5. Improve information security awareness: Keep personal information and communications safe, and do not click on unknown links or attachments in emails to prevent personal information from being leaked or being attacked by malware.

We are fully aware of the importance of each author’s work and the hard work behind it.

We will fight resolutely to the end against any behavior that undermines the rights of authors. At the same time, we also encourage authors or other individuals who receive similar emails to report them to us and local law enforcement agencies in a timely manner, so as to jointly maintain a good creative and publishing environment.

Here, we reiterate our commitment to all partners: we will continue to strengthen information security protection and ensure that the rights and interests of every author who works with us are respected and protected to the greatest extent. The general public is requested to remain vigilant and work together to build a safe space for literary exchange.

Science Fiction World Magazine. May 11, 2024

(2)  PTERRY SURPRISE. The Terry Pratchett website has announced “Another lost Terry Pratchett story found”.

We are pleased (delighted, ecstatic) to announce that one further lost story by Terry Pratchett has been found.

A Stroke of the Pen: The Lost Stories, published in 2023, collected 20 rediscovered tales from when Terry wrote under a pseudonym back in the 1970s and 1980s. It was, at the time, believed to be the last stories of his. But, we were wrong.

One final published tale has been found, that was missed from this collection: Arnold, the Bominable Snowman, which brings us to some more news.

This new story will appear in the paperback edition of A Stroke of the Pen, which will publish in September 2024. Furthermore, the story itself will be published online – for free – by Penguin Books, so that those who bought the hardback do not miss out on this tale. More information on the paperback edition, and where to read the story online, will be made available at a later date….

(3) FANFICTION GOT THERE FIRST. In case you thought the title sounded familiar, The Hollywood Reporter says there’s a reason: “’The Hunt for Gollum’ LOTR Movie Already Exists”. And for a moment, Warner Bros.’ lawyers were trying to pitch the video into Mount Doom.

If Warner Bros.’ newly announced The Lord of the Rings movie idea The Hunt for Gollum sounded a bit like fan fiction, that’s because it already is.

There’s a 2009 fan-made film titled The Hunt for Gollum that you can watch below. The film, directed by Chris Bouchard, is rather ambitious. The Hunt for Gollum spans 39 minutes and has received plenty of praise from fans upon its release.

Following WB’s announcement, the film was taken offline for many hours and YouTube put up a notice saying Warner Bros. had filed a copyright claim against the fan movie and blocked it. LOTR fans reacted quite negatively to the takedown online and, early Friday, the film was restored to YouTube….

The fan-made Hunt for Gollum is set during opening act of The Fellowship of the Ring and fills in a quest that was only briefly discussed in Jackson’s 2001 film: Gandalf (played by Patrick O’Connor in the short) meets with Aragorn (Adrian Webster) and asks him to hunt for Gollum to find out more about Frodo’s magic ring. Aragorn has a series of adventures, traps and loses Gollum and gets attacked by orcs and Ringwraiths. Gollum is recaptured by the Elves of Mirkwood, and he’s interrogated by Gandalf….

With my terrible hearing I can’t say whether the audio is in English – but the closed captioning is in Spanish.

(4) SPFBOX. Mark Lawrence’s tenth Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (“SPFBOX”) immediately filled its 300-entry quota on May 10 and has moved on to “SPFBOX phase 1”.

This is the VERY prelimary allocation of books to blogs.

What now follows will be swapping from blog to blog for books that meet the contest rules but have authors who are friends with someone in the blog they’ve been allocated to.

And elimination of books that don’t meet the rules, followed by their replacement with books that didn’t get selected in the original 300.

(5) FRANCHISE COLLISION. A reference to the latest episode of Doctor Who. A spoiler? I never know. “Could the 2 Oldest Sci-Fi Shows Finally Cross Over?” at Inverse.

In “Space Babies,” the debut episode of the newly relaunched 2024 Doctor Who “Season 1” (or Season 14, or Season 40, depending on how you count) the Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) have a quick discussion about how beaming works in the universe of Star Trek. When the Doctor makes one small quip, fans of both venerable sci-fi franchises might wonder if travel between the Final Frontier and the Whoinverse, is, indeed possible in some kind of mega-geek-multiverse….

At the start of “Space Babies,” Ruby asks the Doctor if they were just beamed somewhere, saying “Is that like a matter transporter? Like in Star Trek?” The Doctor grins broadly and says, “We gotta visit them one day.” This is not the first time Doctor Who has referenced Star Trek (or that Trek has referenced Who) but, it does seem to be the biggest indication to date — at least on screen — that the canon of Trek could exist in an adjacent dimension, rather than just as fiction.

Throughout all of post-2005 Doctor Who, there have been multiple references to characters and ideas from the Star Trek franchise. Rose called the 9th Doctor “Spock,” in the Season 1 episode “The Empty Child,” the 10th Doctor flashed the Vulcan “live long and prosper” hand symbol in the Season 2 episode “Fear Her,” while the 12th Doctor evoked the famous opening lines “Space… the final frontier,” in the Season 10 episode “Oxygen.” And that’s just a small sampling of Trek Easter eggs in Who!

(6) CHALLENGING HERSELF. “Brush and Ink” at Colleen Doran’s Funny Business, is illustrated with examples based on Gaiman’s Sandman series.

I used to get a lot of ribbing for having an elaborate, decorative style. The word was, artists who choose to add decoration and complex rendering are probably hiding drawing deficiencies.

While I agree that this is sometimes the case (and I can think of a few artists who make my hair go the wrong way with endless rendering and very weak underdrawing,) not all of us are covering up poor structure with frou frou.

I always start with a simple, solid drawing before adding the stylization. If the drawing isn’t solid, I don’t proceed until it is.

Awhile ago I decided to challenge my skill set with a series of minimalist brush and ink pieces. I limited the time cost of each drawing to 10 minutes or less. And I tried to stick to no underdrawing, if possible.

That is, one and done, no prelim. Ink only, nothing else.

While I’ve shown some of these drawings before, you folks on Substack probably haven’t seen most of them.

Most of the original exploratory sketches were based on characters from Neil Gaiman’s SANDMAN series, like this group of sketches of Death….

Nicki Lynch, left, and Sheila Strickland, right, at the Southern Fandom Press Alliance party during Worldcon 76 in San Jose. Photo by Kay McCutcheon.

(7) R.I.P. SHEILA STRICKLAND. Longtime File 770 subscriber Sheila Strickland died May 9. The Louisiana fan said in her zine for the Southern Fandom Press Alliance a few months back that her doctors had detected cancer and it had spread to her intestine and liver. She went into hospice just a few days ago. Rich Lynch says, “She was a great lady, always looking toward the future.  And now she’s very much missed.”

Guy H. Lillian III says Sheila’s sister told her Facebook friends that the family obituary will be in the New Orleans Advocate this week and the funeral on May 16 at the Greenoaks Funeral Home and Memorial Park in Baton Rouge at noon.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born May 11, 1918 Richard P. Feynman. (Died 1988.) I’ll admit that I don’t begin to understand what most of the work Richard P. Feynman did as a theoretical physicist. I seriously doubt most of you do. 

While at Princeton, Feynman was recruited for the theoretical division of the Manhattan Project, the very, very secret U.S. Army laboratory set up in Los Alamos, for the purpose of developing the atomic bomb. He was present at the first detonation of an atomic bomb.

Richard P. Feynman. (Caltech Archives)

In 1965, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga. The three each created new mathematical tools for a theory called quantum electrodynamics, which describes how subatomic particles interact with light. 

Now there is the matter his influence on the genre. Although as I said was his work in theoretical physics, Feynman was largely pioneered the field of quantum computing and was solely responsible for the concept of nanotechnology. So yes, two widely used SF concepts are from him. 

By the late Fifties, he was already popularizing his love of physics through books and lectures including lectures  on nanotechnology called There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom, and a multi volume publication of his undergraduate lectures, The Feynman Lectures on Physics. Yes, these are available from the usual suspects. 

He also became known through his autobiographical works Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! and What Do You Care What Other People Think?. Naturally there would be books written about him. The biography by James Gleick,  Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman is the one I’ll single out as being the best.

It’s worth noting last is that he was selected to be a member the Presidential Rogers Commission that investigated the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. 

Lis notes that during the Challenger explosion hearings, Feynman  demonstrated on camera that an O-ring dropped into ice water lost all the resilience critical to its function on the shuttle solid rocket fuel tanks. 

(9) ROBERT BLOCH WEBSITE UPDATE. Eight vintage photos of Robert Bloch with such friends/family as Bob Tucker, Dean A. Grennell, Fritz Leiber, Marion Bloch, and others have been added to the RobertBloch.net gallery.

(10) UNEXPECTED NETWORKING. At GamesRadar+, “Russell T Davies explains how his ‘accidental’ criticism of Loki led to the Marvel show’s director writing a Doctor Who episode”.

…As reported by Uproxx, during a virtual Pride month panel at Swansea University, Davies described the queer representation in the MCU show [Loki] as being a “feeble gesture”. As you may recall, Tom Hiddleston’s God of Mischief became the first openly queer lead character in MCU canon thanks to a reference to the character’s love life in the first season, but at the time Davies wasn’t impressed by the inclusion: “Loki makes one reference to being bisexual once, and everyone’s like, ‘Oh my god, it’s like a pansexual show.’ It’s like one word. He said the word ‘prince’ and we’re meant to go, ‘Thank you, Disney! Aren’t you marvelous?’ It’s a ridiculous, craven, feeble gesture towards the vital politics and the stories that should be told.”

…Reflecting on that statement now, Davies admits that his comments were a mistake, explaining that he reached out to Herron immediately to apologize. Little did he know that they would continue chatting, striking up a friendship, which would then result in working together on Doctor Who….

… For the upcoming season, Herron and her co-writer Briony Redman have penned episode 6 which is titled ‘Rogue’. Of course, since the Doctor Who team like to keep their cards close to their chests, little has been revealed about the episode, but we do know that it is set in the Regency era and will feature Mindhunter star Jonathan Groff.

(11) A PROBLEMATIC PIXIE? According to The Street’s report “Disney World cuts classic character from meet-and-greets amid scrutiny” it appears that Disney has permanently discontinued “meet and greet” sessions for Tinkerbell at almost all of their attractions. 

This action followed the New York Times’ 2022 article “Disney, Built on Fairy Tales and Fantasy, Confronts the Real World” which said the company’s Disney Stories Matter team “was marked for caution because she is ‘body conscious’ and jealous of Peter Pan’s attention, according to the executives…”

The Street’s May 7 report says:

…[The] Disney’s Stories Matter team was developed to spot and correct “negative depictions of people and cultures” in Disney’s products.

“We are reviewing our offerings beyond the screen, which include products, books, music and experiences,” reads the Stories Matter homepage on Disney’s website. “While advisories for negative depictions of people and cultures may be added to some offerings, others will be reimagined. We are also investing in new ways to better reflect the rich diversity of stories in our world. This work is ongoing and will evolve as we strive toward a more inclusive tomorrow.”…

The PlanDisney website, answering the question “Why does Tinkerbell no longer have a meet and greet and are their plans to bring her back?” says that currently the only location where Tink does meet visitors is at Pixie Hollow at the Disneyland Resort in California.

(12) MINNESOTA’S NEW FLAG. AP News is there as “Minnesota unfurls new state flag atop the capitol for the first time”. However, my real reason for running this story is that it was the first time I heard about the famed losing entry featuring a loon with lasers for eyes.

Minnesota officially unfurled its new state flag atop the capitol for the first time Saturday on statehood day.

The new flag and accompanying state seal were adopted to replace an old design that Native Americans said reminded them of painful memories of conquest and displacement.

The new symbols eliminate an old state seal that featured the image of a Native American riding off into the sunset while a white settler plows his field with a rifle at the ready. The seal was a key feature of the old flag. That’s why there was pressure to change both.

Officials didn’t pick any of the most popular designs submitted online that included options like a loon — the state bird — with lasers for eyes….

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

Pixel Scroll 5/10/24 Pride And Prejudice And Pixels

(1) STAR TREK WINS PEABODY AWARD. The Star Trek franchise was among the Peabody Award winners announced today. Given to television, radio, and other media, the Peabody honors “stories that powerfully reflect the pressing social issues and the vibrant emerging voices of our day.”

TrekMovie.com homes in on the story of greatest interest to fans: “Star Trek Franchise Wins Peabody Award”

… This is actually Trek’s second Peabody. In 1987 the Next Generation episode “The Big Goodbye” won the Entertainment, Children’s & Youth Award. The first season of Star Trek: Discovery was also nominated for the same award.

Here is the full text of the announcement for Star Trek…

The Institutional Award – Star Trek

The original Star Trek television series aired on NBC for only three seasons, from September 1966 to June 1969. It was fresh, prescient, and so ahead of its time that it couldn’t quite capture the mainstream audience required for hits during a particularly insipid time in television. But fast forward nearly 60 years, and creator Gene Roddenberry’s vision is alive and well, having spawned a media franchise of 13 feature films, 11 television series, and numerous books and comics, with a legendary fan following. Today Star Trek is more vibrant, imaginative, funny, entertaining, and progressive than ever. And these days, we’ve got the special effects to make it look stellar.

The original science-fiction series was set aboard a starship, Enterprise, whose mostly human crew encountered alien life as they traversed the stars, led by the iconic Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner). It was groundbreaking for its diverse cast and for its unapologetically progressive values—exploration over colonialism, cooperation over violence. Its fandom grew over time, and the successors to the original series have updated the franchise without losing its moral core—the dream of a future free from human destruction, poverty, and bigotry. Subsequent captains have served as models of ethical and diverse leadership: The Next Generation’s Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), Deep Space Nine’s Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks), and Voyager’s Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) among them.

With every passing decade, new versions have proliferated, attracting new generations of fans. Film reboots directed by J.J. Abrams and Justin Lin revived Kirk and his crew with new, young actors, zippier dialogue, and vastly improved effects in the 2000s and 2010s. The Streaming Era has brought a raft of reimaginings with a variety of sensibilities, from the dark and complicated Star Trek: Discovery to the crowd-pleasing prequel Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (featuring a young Spock!) to the hilariously meta cartoon Star Trek: Lower Decks. As the latest versions of Star Trek invite in a new generation of viewers, the interstellar travelers still encounter danger and difficulty, of course. But the Starfleet crew always comes out on top— and without sacrificing essential values that seem quintessentially human: valor, self-sacrifice, curiosity, compassion, broadmindedness.

“From a groundbreaking television series to an expansive collection of films, novels, comic books and so much more, Star Trek has been delivering joy, wonder, and thought-provoking stories since the 1960s,” said Jones. “With powerful anti-war and anti-discrimination messages, it has blazed trails for all science fiction franchises while winning over passionate fans across the globe. We’re proud to honor Star Trek with Peabody’s Institutional Award.”

The Hollywood Reporter has the complete list of Peabody Awards 2024 Winners.

Other winners of genre interest are:

CHILDREN’S/YOUTH

Bluey (Disney+)
Creator Joe Brumm’s endearing family of animated Australian dogs have captivated both children and adults for years in episodes equally delightful and heartrending. Very little feels off the table, as Bluey fearlessly tackles topics from death to infertility to fleeting friendships, all while maintaining a sense of innocence and exuberance for the children, and affinity and understanding for the parents, who are allowed to be dynamic, imperfect beings on their own growth journey. 
Ludo Studio, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, BBC Studios

ENTERTAINMENT

The Last of Us (HBO | Max)
In HBO’s post-apocalyptic The Last of Us, a faithful adaptation of the critically-acclaimed Naughty Dog video game, the road trip odyssey of Joel and Ellie (played by Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey) functions as a recursive meditation on love and loss—and how love is capable of changing people, for good and for ill. In the hands of showrunner Craig Mazin, who worked in collaboration with Neil Druckmann, a co-director on the original game, this adaptation extracts new layers from the text that expand its meaning—imagining what a life of love and fulfillment, and survival, can look like at the end of the world.
HBO in association with Sony Pictures Television Studios, PlayStation Productions, Word Games, The Mighty Mint, and Naughty Dog.

(2) MINNESOTA BOOK AWARDS. The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library announced the Minnesota Book Awards winners. The complete list is at the link.

Emma Törzs’ fantasy novel Ink Blood Sister Scribe is the winner of the Genre Fiction category.

For generations, the Kalotay family has guarded a collection of ancient and rare books. Books that let a person walk through walls or manipulate the elements—books of magic that half-sisters Joanna and Esther have been raised to revere and protect.

All magic comes with a price, though, and for years the sisters have been separated. Esther has fled to a remote base in Antarctica to escape the fate that killed her own mother, and Joanna’s isolated herself in their family home in Vermont, devoting her life to the study of these cherished volumes. But after their father dies suddenly while reading a book Joanna has never seen before, the sisters must reunite to preserve their family legacy. In the process, they’ll uncover a world of magic far bigger and more dangerous than they ever imagined, and all the secrets their parents kept hidden; secrets that span centuries, continents, and even other libraries . . .

(3) OUT OF TIME. Jonathan Russell Clark analyzes “Why We Love Time Travel Stories” for Esquire.

…For Wells’s contemporaries, Gleick notes, “technology had a special persuasive power.” For us, now a quarter of the way through the 21st century, things have grown complicated. Technology governs everything we do, but rather than enhancing our lives, our gadgets seem to exploit us, isolate us, box us in. Moreover, the technology itself has moved beyond our understanding, leaving us dependent on the two or three corporate entities producing it. The World of Tomorrow never arrived; no matter how much technology has progressed, it is still frustratingly Today.

Instead of holding out for a future that will solve our problems, contemporary readers now look into the past to address the wrongs inflicted on the less powerful, so what makes a convincing time-travel story in the 21st century isn’t the verisimilitude of the science but rather the morality of the characters’ intentions. In her book on ’80s movies, Life Moves Pretty Fast, Hadley Freeman notes that in Back to the Future, “Marty’s meddling in the past results in his parents living in a nice house, with chicer furnishings, posher breakfast dishes, and even domestic help in the form of Biff Tannen in 1985. Marty’s triumph is to lift his family up to middle-class status.” If Hollywood rebooted the franchise today, Freeman writes, “Marty’s challenge would be to save the world.” I still think a remake would keep Marty’s adventures confined to his personal bubble; it’s just that instead of reuniting his parents to ensure his existence, his mission would instruct him to meddle in his parents’ past because, down the line, this will save the world. Nowadays, to exploit time travel for personal gain—and indeed to tell a story in which such actions are uncritically celebrated—is unacceptable, as is returning to our discriminatory, segregated, slavery-filled history without seriously grappling with those realities. It’s no longer technology but rather moral conviction that now has a special persuasive power on us….

(4) A RARE HEINLEIN CONNECTION. Dave Hook has done fascinating research into a forgotten Heinlein collaborator: “Who is Elma ‘Miller’ Wentz?”

I know I’ve read this story in “Beyond the End of Time” at least once, but I remember nothing about it or even that it existed until seeing this. I found this very interesting for several reasons:

  1. To my knowledge, this is the only fiction published by Heinlein with a co-author during his lifetime.
  2. Heinlein clearly was not fond of it, as he never allowed this and two of his other early stories published as by “Lyle Monroe” to be reissued in a Heinlein collection during his lifetime (per Wikipedia).
  3. I had no idea who “Elma Wentz” was.

…Sometime in the early 1930s, she moved to Los Angeles. Her family did also, although it’s not clear if they moved at the same time or not.

William H. Patterson, Jr.’s “Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1: 1907-1948: Learning Curve” (“Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue…”), 2010 Tor, noted that Elma was working for Upton Sinclair on Sinclair’s California 1934 governor’s campaign as his personal secretary. Patterson also notes that she and her husband to be, Roby Wentz, met Robert A. Heinlein when Heinlein joined Sinclair’s related “End Poverty in California” (EPIC) movement in early 1935. The EPIC movement overlapped substantially with Sinclair’s run for governor. This resulted in her and Roby becomes friends with Robert A. Heinlein and his first wife Leslyn (MacDonald) Heinlein, and with journalist (and future SF writer) Cleve Cartmill….

(5) GUARDIAN REVIEW ROUNDUP. Lisa Tuttle’s “The best recent science fiction, fantasy and horror – reviews roundup” for the Guardian encompasses The Other Valley by Scott Alexander Howard; A View from the Stars by Cixin Liu; Flowers from the Void by Gianni Washington; The Dark Side of the Sky by Francesco Dimitri; The Hungry Dark by Jen Williams; and To the Stars and Back by various writers.

(6) VANISHING POINT. Atlas Obscura advises “Don’t Stare at the Dark Watchers”.

… There are dozens of similar accounts of so-called dark watchers by hikers in the Santa Lucia Mountains near Big Sur, California. The stories often share details: The figure stands seven to 10 feet tall and has a walking stick and hat, for example. No one has ever been able to interact with the looming figures—they always disappear once the hiker acknowledges them…

…Despite their ephemeral nature—and claims that they only appear to hikers with low-tech, old-school gear—stories of these cryptids go back hundreds if not thousands of years. Some people trace the legend to the pre-colonial oral stories of the Chumash, Indigenous peoples that have lived along the Central Coast of California and the Channel Islands for 13,000 years. But while there are many Chumash accounts of various creatures in December’s Child by Thomas Blackburn—the most complete written record of Chumash stories—it’s unclear whether any describe the dark watchers.

“These entities—whatever they are—have not just influenced the local people,” says Offutt. “They influenced some pretty famous people, too.” The earliest written accounts of dark watchers go back to the 1700s, when Spanish colonists gave the mysterious beings their name: los vigilantes oscuros. Since then, sightings have continued, and in 1937, the creatures made their literary debut….

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born May 10, 1969 John Scalzi, 55. This is not full accounting of everything that the rather prolific John Scalzi has done, nor is it limited to his fiction. Now that I’ve got that out of the way let’s start…

I was trying to remember what I first read by him and I think it was actually Old Man’s War whereas I expect you know the characters of Old Man’s War are senior citizens who leave Earth to have their brains transplanted into cyborg bodies and sent off to be fight in an interstellar war. Scalzi has said the series was in homage in Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.

John Scalzi in 2019.

I only read further in the series through the “Questions for a Soldier” short story, The Ghost Brigades and the Zoe’s Tale. The latter broke my heart really it. Damn, I so like the main character here, and spoiler alert, what happened to her really did severely distressed me. Effing hell. 

So who here has read and liked The Android’s Dream novels? I liked everything I read by Scalzi save this. Maybe it was the premise itself, maybe the weirdness of the sheep hybrid which I’ll not discuss lest somebody be here who’s keen to read it still, maybe there there was too much Philip K. Dick in it. Whatever it was, I didn’t like it. So tell me why I should have.

Space opera, I knew he had it in him. And the Interdependency series certainly proved that amply. Lovely premise of an Empire, spoiler alert again so go drink Romulan blood wine, as the portals connecting the worlds of their Empire are apparently collapsing. The titles of the final novel in the trilogy sums up the trilogy up nicely, The Last Emperox.

And then there’s the Hugo winning Redshirts. Obviously off the Trek’s infamous oh my he’s a red shirt and will die a horrible death meme, it allowed Scalzi to play around with that delicious premise. No, I’m not saying a word more, so no spoiler alert needed. It’s a great story told well. There’s even something that Scalzi might well have borrowed from the Clue film here.

The last novel I want to talk about involves Fuzzies. Fuzzy Nation, authorized by the estate of H. Beam Piper, was not intended to be a sequel to Little Fuzzy, the Piper novel which was nominated for a Hugo. Scalzi wrote it first and then got permission from the Estate to publish it. It doesn’t feel like something the Piper would have written, but it’s worth reading none the less. 

Now let’s note Whatever, no doubt the most entertaining blog done by any writer, genre or otherwise. Is this what he won a Fan Writer Hugo for? If so, great choice. It’s something I very much look forward to reading every day. I see his Hugo for Best Related Book was related to his blog, Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever 1998–2008. 

Ok, that’s what I like by him. No, it’s not everything but I did say it would be. As always, I know you’ll give copious comments about what I didn’t mention. 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Off the Mark’s lines up the usual suspects.
  • Shoe lets the name speak for itself.
  • Speed Bump disappoints these readers.
  • Carpe Diem has an unexpected haunting.
  • Nathan W Pyle shows a character resisting inimical forces!

(9) A VICIOUS GANG OF FACTS. Those skeptics at ScreenRant pooh-pooh “8 Sci-Fi Movie Inventions Ruined By Real Science”. First on their list of impossibilities:

8. Lightsabers

The Star Wars Series

One of the most iconic movie weapons ever created, lightsabers need little introduction. The mythical weapons of both the legendary Jedi order and the insidious Sith, these blazing hot swords of pure light can slice through nearly anything in the Star Wars universe, barring specialty-made materials like Durasteel. Not only that, but they’re also capable of deflecting bolts from energy-based blaster weapons, making them an impressive source of offense as well as defense. In the lore of the franchise, the lightsabers are powered by the mysterious Kyber crystals.

The lightsabers operate on different laws of physics than those in reality. Creating a powerful enough beam of light to cut through solid metal would result in a much longer, unwieldy weapon, not limited in its projection to a mere three feet. Even ignoring the issues regarding the lightsabers’ power source, which would easily need to be connected to some kind of power-generating backpack with today’s available technology, the ability of the weapons to physically clash with one another disobeys the properties of light. In reality, crossing lightsabers would simply pass through one another.

(10) BEWARE DOCTOR WHO SPOILER. Is it really? I don’t know, so better safe etc. “Doctor Who’ Star Ncuti Gatwa Filmed With 20 Babies in Season Premiere”.

While filming episode one of “Doctor Who” season 14, entitled “Space Babies,” Millie Gibson had to do the impossible: keep the attention of 20 infants at once. Although she was bearing her soul in a speech integral to her character’s backstory, the babies kept dozing off and losing their attention to the flashing lights of the space-age set. So, to keep their little eyes focused on her, she delivered her lines while a nursery rhyme played on her phone just out of camera view.

“It was so hard honestly,” recalled Gibson. “It was the most bizarre thing but it will stay in my mind forever.”

…“They were such divas,” Gatwa joked about his toddler co-stars. “They had so many demands.”…

(11) FLAME ON! I don’t know how this cooking news item ended up at Popular Mechanics: “’Star Wars’ Fans, Truff’s Latest Super-Spicy Hot Sauce Is for You”.

…That’s right: Truff—the brand behind the decadent truffle-infused hot sauces Oprah has named to her Favorite Things list for the last three years—just dropped a new hot sauce with some serious Star Wars flair. Truff’s Star Wars Dark Side Hot Sauce is nothing to play with, given it’s now the brand’s spiciest sauce, featuring the hot-as-Hades ghost pepper.

Yes, the ghost pepper is certainly quite hot, topping out at over 1 million Scoville Units. That said, it isn’t the hottest. That title only recently belongs to Pepper X, which reaches more than double the ghost pepper’s 1+ million Scoville Units. According to Britannica, though, less than 20 years ago, the ghost pepper actually was the fieriest, most fearsome of them all. But just because there’s one hotter out there now doesn’t mean ghost peppers aren’t still fierce, as you’ll find out when you crack open this hot sauce….

(12) MONSOON Q&A. A BBC interview: “Doctor Who star Jinkx Monsoon on playing ‘zany’ villain Maestro”.

… American drag queen Jinkx Monsoon, who plays the new nemesis, tells BBC Newsbeat her “dreams have been granted in a wonderful way”.

Jinkx is known as the “Queen of Queens” after winning a regular and All Star season of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

And she says moving to the world’s longest-running science fiction show felt like a natural progression for a self-described trans queer actor.

“Sci-fi has always been queer. Anyone who tells you otherwise is delusional,” she says.

“There are prominent writers, directors, producers who are queer in these fields. And it just hasn’t really been able to be talked about and a lot of them nowadays are done being silent.”

She adds there has been “so much queer progress” in society, but feels in the entertainment industry “there’s still been this thing of queer people behind the cameras”.

“And only certain palatable society-approved queer people get to be in front of the camera.

“What I really love about this Doctor Who season is it saying: ‘To hell with that’.”

(13) HOLY SH!T! Aka the video of the day — Hell and Back by Scott Base. A short film based on original Bad Space comic. Mark sent the link with a warning, “I’m not sure I’d want to see a whole movie…”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Lise Andreasen, Mark Roth-Whitworth, Michael J. Walsh, Teddy Harvia, Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 5/8/24 Ansible And Grendel

(1) TOMLINSON AND ROBINSON SUE MILWAUKEE. In February, Patrick Tomlinson and his partner, Niki Robinson filed a lawsuit against the City of Milwaukee over the multiple instances of swatting: “Robinson v. City of Milwaukee, 2:24-cv-00264”. At the link you can download (free) the original and amended complaints.

The amended complaint filed May 1 details several experiences with swatting, and in addition to the City of Milwaukee names 10 police officers as defendants. Here is an excerpt:

1. Niki Robinson and Patrick Tomlinson are the targets of a vicious campaign of domestic terrorism, carried out at the hands of a group of bullies who hide behind the anonymity of the internet.

2. The bullies’ main weapon of choice is something called “swatting,” which is when someone who wants to endanger the life and safety of another calls 911 and lies to provoke a dangerous police response to the victim’s home….

…11. Niki and Patrick have tried to work with the City of Milwaukee to stop this, but the City of Milwaukee failed to adopt a policy or train its officers on how to prevent Niki and Patrick’s stalkers from using the police department as a tool of terror.

12. And while many of the police officers who have responded to Patrick and Niki’s home have been kind, understanding, and compassionate, others have not.

13. The worst offender is Sergeant Lyndon Evans.

14. On three occasions, Sergeant Evans responded to a swatting call with abuse and violence.

15. Sergeant Evans told Niki and Patrick that he was “well aware” of the situation, but still demanded to be let inside their home, going so far as to threaten to break down the front door if he was not allowed inside.

16. Niki and Patrick live in a constant state of fear, worried that the next encounter they have with the police will be their last.

17. Every knock on the door or police car that drives by leaves them terrified that they are about to be staring down an officer’s gun or that they will be paraded outside in handcuffs to their further humiliation.

18. This lawsuit seeks to end the madness and vindicate the violation of Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights. It seeks to effect change through punitive damages by punishing the Defendants for their egregious conduct with the hope that the punishment is significant enough to prevent this from happening again in the future…

(2) SPACE COMMAND ARRIVES. “Crowdfunded ‘Space Command: Redemption’ Released, Features Star Trek’s Doug Jones, Robert Picardo & More” at TrekMovie.com.

A dozen years after its first crowdfunding campaign, the first installment of Marc Scott Zicree’s Space Command has been released, with several Star Trek actors in the cast. “Space Command: Redemption” is out now on Tubi, VOD, and physical media, with more installments from the series in the works.

Space Command is a sci-fi series inspired by Star Trek. The ensemble cast for “Space Command: Redemption” features Star Trek: Discovery’s Doug Jones in a leading role. Other franchise stars include Robert Picardo (Voyager), Armin Shimerman (Deep Space Nine), Faran Tahir (J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek), and the late Nichelle Nichols (TOS). The cast also includes several Babylon 5 stars including Bill Mumy,  Bruce Boxleitner, and the late Mira Furlan….

(3) I, THE JURY. Alec Nevala-Lee shared with Facebook readers that he was part of a Pulitzer Prize jury this year.  

Now that the list of winners has been announced, I can reveal a very cool fact: I served on the jury for the 2024 Pulitzer Prize for Biography! I spent much of last year reading through dozens of books with four other jurors, and I’m delighted to finally share the titles we chose: KING by Jonathan Eig, MASTER SLAVE HUSBAND WIFE by Ilyon Woo, and LARRY MCMURTRY by Tracy Daugherty.

(4) SFF POETS TAKE UP AI ISSUE. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) Executive Committee and key volunteers have put together two options for the SFPA to adopt as its policy regarding works derived from generative tools (including AI, large language models, etc).

Members have been sent an introductory statement and have until May 22 to vote for one of three options: 

  1. A limited AI ban
  2. A complete AI ban
  3. Neither statement

(5) ADVANCED RELEASE OF NOAF HUGO VOTER PACKET SUBMISSION.  The Nerds of a Feather 2024 Hugo Packet and Introduction can be downloaded at the link. It’s available in PDF and EPUB formats.

The Voter’s Packet for the Hugo Awards will be released shortly and made available to all members of Glasgow Worldcon. As is traditional, Nerds of a Feather has put together a compilation of what we feel represents the best and the breadth of our collective work published in 2023. While the purpose of the Voter’s Packet is to help eligible voters make an informed decision when casting their ballots, we are also making the packet available to all of our readers who may want to take a look back at what we did last year…. 

(6) BLIND LEADING THE BLIND? A highly skeptical Philip Athans says “Beware Of Friends Bearing Feedback” at Fantasy Author’s Handbook.

…If you have a trusted beta reader, someone who you know knows books, knows story, knows the genre you’re writing in, and you know that person to be smart and creative, capable of giving you solid advice, then wow—congratulations. Hold that person close. Give them gifts of frankincense and myrrh.

But unfortunately, most of the people we know can not reasonably be described in such glowing terms. I wish I could remember who it was, decades ago that, in a documentary about screenwriting, described the focus group as:

The uninformed reporting on the unknowable to the unimaginative.

…but that pretty much nails it. And what are beta readers or our writers group friends but a focus group? In Story Trumps Structure, Steven James wrote on the subject of beta readers:

I can’t think of any other field in which people who aren’t experts critique other people who aren’t experts in the hope of everyone becoming an expert.

Yes, people chosen at random or from a pool of friends and family may have opinions, but do they have informed  opinions? And if they say something akin to “I didn’t get it,” “I liked it, I guess,” “It was really creative!” and so on (you know you’ve seen stuff like this) sans detail or actionable advice, well… does that help?…

(7) FIVE UNEASY PIECES. Maya St. Clair makes a confession and reviews a hard-to-forget New Wave anthology in “FIVE FATES: Sci-Fi’s Nightmare Blunt Rotation”.

I’m in a weird place professionally. To get a job in publishing, it’s pretty much imperative that you stay abreast of recent trends and read voraciously from current frontlist books. And I certainly try. But left to my own devices, I inevitably end up crawling back to New Wave sci-fi like a starving flatworm whose only brain cell yearns for stream-of-consciousness novellas about interdimensional alien sex written fifty years ago by chainsmokers in dagger-collared shirts.

If you share my foibles, or if you’re simply in a reading rut, you’d be hard-pressed to find something more exciting than Five Fates. Not only does it boast a sci-fi supergroup (Frank Herbert, Harlan Ellison, Poul Anderson, Gordon Dickson, and Keith Laumer), it provides a fascinating snapshot of where speculative fiction was “at” during a pivotal moment of the genre’s history….

Five Fates, published in 1970, positions itself firmly in this mindfuck vein of the New Wave. Per the jacket copy, it’s “one of the most bizarre and original fictional concepts ever created,” a showcase opportunity for five of spec fic’s foremost writers to go absolutely wild. Its biggest names are red-hot at the time of publication: Frank Herbert has just finished Dune Messiah, and Harlan Ellison is in the midst of his decade-long, nearly-unbroken Hugo streak (he’s hard at work, the back cover informs us, on Again, Dangerous Visions.)

The central concept of Five Fates is this: all five contributors were sent the same disturbing prompt — in some dystopic world, a man named William Bailey is admitted to a Euthanasia Center and killed. The surrounding questions — how did he get there? how did society descend to this point? is there an afterlife? — are left up to the writers to flesh out. Each of the five resulting novelettes (which average around 30 pages) offers a vastly different concept, style, and literary goal. It’s a literary blunt rotation/samsara, a hallucinogenic journey that produces several great tales and one masterpiece….

(8) AI LIKES MIKE. Reason set the AI program Grok the task of reviewing a Heinlein book: “Review: ‘The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress’ Highlights Technology’s Role in Freedom”. Grok homed in on the book’s supercomputer character. The full two-paragraph review is at the link. Here’s the introduction:

For Reason’s June 2024 special issue on AI, all of our brief reviews involve AI in some form or another. Of course, we decided to ask an AI to write one of the reviews. Since X’s AI is named Grok, after the term coined by sci-fi author Robert Heinlein in Stranger in a Strange Land, it was only natural that we’d ask Grok to write a review of another Heinlein novel, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. See what Grok wrote for us below….

(9) RTD ON THE RADIO. The Planetary Society’s Planetary Radio did a “TARDIS Talk: Space, Time, and ‘Doctor Who’ with Russell T. Davies”. Hear the audio on YouTube.

This week on Planetary Radio, we celebrate the longest-running science fiction show in history, “Doctor Who.” We explore how this iconic series has influenced the scientific community and look forward to the new season of the show with Russell T. Davies, the past and present showrunner of “Doctor Who.” Then, space fans from around the world share how the show has impacted their lives and space careers. We close out with Bruce Betts, our chief scientist, as we discuss what we would do with a time machine in What’s Up.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born May 8, 1940 Peter Benchley. (Died 2006.) Yes, Peter Benchley, the writer responsible for Jaws. I’ll get to that in a minute. Really I will. Trust me.

Although Jaws is what he’s best remembered for, his work that has been adapted for film and television includes genre: BeastCreatureThe DeepThe Island and White Shark. He has one film work of interest at least to me that’s non-genre, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, about writer Dorothy Parker and the members of the Algonquin Round Table. 

Peter Benchley

So, let’s look at some of his novels other than JawsJaws was his first and his second was a more or less an adventure genre novel, The Deep, of treasure hunters who discover Spanish treasure. Well and drugs. Then it gets complicated. Columbia Pictures purchased the rights to it even before its publication, hiring Benchley to write a screen adaptation. 

The Island, several years later, is effectively genre as it has two elements that are fantastic. One is that is a lost colony of pirates that have remained undetected since the establishment of their pirate enclave by Jean-David Nau, the notorious buccaneer L’Olonnais, in 1671; second is a sort of Logan’s Run premise is that the pirates kill anyone over thirteen that they capture. It too would be filmed.

In Beast — and none of his titles will win awards for originality, will they? — a fishing community in Bermuda is disrupted by a series of mysterious disappearances at sea. Think large sea monster and you wouldn’t be wrong. Yes once again it became a film. 

White Shark does not feature a shark, despite what the title suggests. It has Nazis and biological weapons with nary a shark to bite into anyone, not even a Nazi, the pity. To avoid confusion and to capitalize on the miniseries adaptation, the book was republished as Creature. It was also a film called, errr, White Shark

Which brings us to Jaws. It was published fifty years ago, his first novel. It was an outgrowth of his interest of the experiences of Montauk, New York shark fisherman Frank Mundus. Doubleday gave him a rather nice advance to write the novel while he was he was still a freelance journalist.

Despite critics generally hating it, it did exceptionally well with the reading public as Doubleday undertook an extraordinary publicity campaign including getting it adopted by book clubs everywhere. As a result, it stayed on bestseller lists for nearly a year, and millions of copies of the paperback edition were sold.

Jaws is definitely horror. With Very Big Teeth. Lots Of  Sharp Pointy Ones. Now that we’ve got that Very Important Fact out of the way, let’s talk about it. 

It premiered forty-seven years ago on this date. It was Spielberg’s first major film after directing such things as episodes of Night Gallery, The Name of the GameColumbo, and the rather excellent Sugarland Express

The screenplay is credited to Peter Benchley. He wrote the first draft here, and actor-writer Carl Gottlieb who’s Harry Meadows here and was Ugly John in the MASH series  (and I can still picture him in that role with his rather full mustache), then continuously rewrote the script during principal photography. That must have been an annoying thing to the director! 

It had a kickass cast  of Roy Scheider as Chief Martin, Robert Shaw as Quint, with Richard Dreyfuss as Matt Hooper as the studio didn’t get any Really Big Names that they wanted so badly — which was as Speilberg intended, and he got what he wanted here, for the “the superstar was gonna be the shark of the film” as he stated in interviews. Very Big Teeth. Lots Of  Sharp Pointy Ones was going to be the Superstar. Yes, that did make a very good superstar. Well of multiples these together did as there were lots of mechanical sharks. They broke down a lot. The mechanics of this wasn’t quite there yet. 

It was the first major motion picture to be shot on the ocean and if something could go wrong, it did. Repeatedly. And of the multitude of mechanical sharks added immensely to the budget woes so the film apparently went four to five million over its eight million budget. Or more. The studio has never actually released accurate production costs.  That really didn’t matter as it made nearly a half billion in its first run at the theatre. Repeat — it made a half billion dollars.

I discovered that there are three sequels, Jaws 2Jaws 3-D and Jaws: The Revenge. I can happily admit that I’ve seen none of them. Who here has? I think y’all know my admittedly low opinion of sequels and the idea of a sequel to this perfect film leaves me, well, sea sick. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) PROUDLY LESS NOBLE THAN THE SCA. The University of Maryland’s Maryland Today publication asks “Whatever Happened to … the Maryland Medieval Mercenary Militia?” The truth is out there.

Charging across the hilly terrain, swords raised, shields gripped against their chests, the Normans and the Anglo-Saxons faced off, their bodies protected only by chain mail cobbled together from … wire clothes hangers. Just beyond the grassy battlefield, students strolled by on their way to class.

This was the fall of 1969, when a group of Terps marked the 903rd anniversary of the Battle of Hastings with a re-enactment on South Chapel Lawn. It was the fitting official launch of a new group on the University of Maryland campus called the Maryland Medieval Mercenary Militia (MMMM), in which members gave themselves archaic names, learned English country dances and meticulously studied the military strategies of the Middle Ages so that they could recreate historical battles for kicks.

“Nowadays, re-enactment is a big thing. Back then, it was Confederates, Union, Revolutionary War and that’s it,” said Bruce Blackistone ’72, one of the founders of the group. “This was way off-center for the average re-enactment group.”…

… Blackistone, who by then was the self-designated first warlord, hoped to have a dozen soldiers on each side of the battle, but in the end, it was a six-on-seven fight. (Blackistone came down with a 104-degree fever the night before and had to stay home.) They carried shields made from lids of peach baskets and wore hand-sewn tunics. Nucker also threw on a sheepskin leather jacket borrowed from her mother.

After the Battle of Hastings’ re-enactment, the group grew, doing swordplay demonstrations on campus and branching out to recreating medieval life more broadly with feasts and dances. They began gathering in a small space under the steps of Francis Scott Key Hall, though they’d often “spill out onto the front or back lawns and womp on each other’s shields a bit,” said Blackistone.

Like any warring faction, the group developed rivals. A few years after MMMM’s founding, a chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronisms (SCA), which started in Berkeley, Calif., in 1966, popped up in the area. “They were high medieval upper class, and we were low medieval lower class,” said Blackistone. “Everyone who belonged (to SCA) was some kind of nobility. We had very little nobility, and a lot of Vikings and peasants and riffraff.”…

…As more of the club’s members graduated, an offshoot formed: Markland Medieval Mercenary Militia, which eventually ballooned to some 600 members across the mid-Atlantic. Just as Privé graduated, the university moved the club to a smaller office in a distant corner of campus. These two events, Privé speculated, led to a dwindling of the club’s presence on campus. Sometime in the years following the office move, MMMM died a quiet death at UMD.

For some, though, MMMM was just the beginning of a lifelong madness for the medieval. Nucker and Blackistone still sail Viking ships together through the Longship Company, a nonprofit organization inspired by the vessel they converted out of a Navy Motor Whaleboat in a parking lot behind the North Campus residence halls during their college years. Now, they take the public out on their 39-foot, 12-oarred Sae Hrafn (“sea raven” in Norse) to teach guests about Viking seafaring. (They’ve also commissioned two other boats, the tall ship Fyrdaca, or “fire drake,” and the smaller Gyrfalcon, named after a type of Arctic falcon.)…

(13) LOOKS AWFULLY FAMILIAR. “China Releases CGI Video of Moon Base and It Contains Something Very Strange” says Futurism.

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) has shown off a CGI video of its vision of a lunar base, a vastly ambitious plan the country is hoping to realize in a matter of decades.

The showy — albeit dated-looking — render shows plans for the International Lunar Research Station, a Chinese and Russian endeavor that was first announced in 2021.

The video is also raising eyebrows for a bizarre cameo: a NASA Space Shuttle taking off from a launch pad in the distance, as spotted by Space.com.

It’s either some next-level humor from the Chinese space program or a hilarious oversight, since the Shuttle has been retired for more than a decade — not to mention that China and NASA aren’t even allowed to talk to each other, nevermind collaborate.

As space reporter Jack Kuhr later spotted, the state-run China Global Television Network came up with an equally hilarious fix to hide the Shuttle taking off in the background.

“Boom problem solved,” Kuhr tweeted. “CGTN went ahead and slapped an ol’ reliable blur bar over the Shuttle.”

The Shuttle (now properly blurred) appears at about the :40 second mark in the video.

(14) PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM FOR FORMER ASTRONAUT. “Ellen Ochoa, Former NASA Astronaut and First Hispanic Woman in Space, Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom”Smithsonian Magazine has the story.

Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic woman to go to space and one of NASA’s most decorated astronauts and leaders, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Friday, the country’s highest civilian honor. Across her 30-year career, Ochoa flew on four space shuttle missions and led operations as director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Ochoa is the tenth astronaut, and second female astronaut, to receive the Medal of Freedom. She was presented the award at the White House along with 18 other honorees, including Jane Rigby, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center who played a large role in the James Webb Space Telescope’s mission….

(15) AN INFLATED PROJECT. Scientific American invites readers to “Meet HELIX, the High-Altitude Balloon That May Solve a Deep Cosmic Mystery”.

This spring NASA will launch what could become one of this decade’s most transformative missions in astrophysics. But you’ve almost certainly never heard of it—and it’s not even going to space. Dubbed the High-Energy Light Isotope eXperiment (HELIX), the mission seeks to solve a long-standing mystery about just how much antimatter there is in the universe and where it comes from—all from a lofty perch in Earth’s stratosphere, slung beneath a giant balloon set for long-duration flights above each of our planet’s desolate poles.

Led by Scott Wakely, an astrophysicist at the University of Chicago, HELIX is designed to study cosmic rays—subatomic particles that pelt our planet from the depths of interstellar and even intergalactic space. These particles include those of ordinary matter’s opposite-charge version, called antimatter. Scientists suspect the sources for the antimatter showering Earth from space could be almost anything, ranging from emissions by conventional astrophysical objects to the esoteric behavior of dark matter, the invisible stuff that seems to govern the large-scale behavior of galaxies. Figuring out which explanation is right may depend on a deceptively simple measurement: gauging how much time each of two specific particles spent hurtling through the galaxy. It’s like carbon-dating cosmic rays. “The models are all over the place. A measurement of this ratio is what everybody wants,” says Nahee Park, an astrophysicist at Queen’s University in Ontario and a member of the HELIX team….

(16) DUBIOUS KICKS. Stephen Graham Jones is a bit skeptical about the footwear in this new Superman publicity photo.

(17) VIDEOS OF THE DAY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.]  Boston Dynamics has a new humanoid robot, so they say goodbye to the outgoing HD Atlas…

And then say hello to All New Atlas with a freaky lil’ routine…

Maybe to take an edge off of All New Atlas, Boston Dynamics then dresses up Spot as Sparkles…

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Bill, Michael J. Walsh, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Teddy Harvia, Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern, who says his title “feels like it should be an anthology of ‘future fairy tales’ (perhaps edited by Jane Yolen)”.]

On the Avenue I’m Taking Who To, Forty-Second Street

Moshe Feder knew it was “pics or it never happened” when he encountered these Doctor Who-wrapped subway cars on the 42nd St. Shuttle between Grand Central and Times Square.

He says, “I saw them last Saturday night after returning from Naugatuck to Grand Central and then heading across town for an uptown train to Carnegie Hall.”

Thank you, Moshe, for letting me repost your photos!

Pixel Scroll 5/3/24 Shhhh, I’m Hunting Pixels

(1) MICHELE LUNDGREN RUNNING FOR MICHIGAN LEGISLATURE. Detroit resident Michele Lundgren, wife of Carl Lundgren, co-founder of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (ASFA) and creator of hundreds of sff book covers, was charged last July as a Michigan fake Trump elector. The case has been slowly progressing, with the preliminary exam for Lundgren and other defendants expected to resume May 28. But in the meantime, Lundgren has declared her candidacy for the state legislature: “Michigan ‘fake elector’ takes on top Democrat in bid for state House” reports Bridge Michigan.

Michele Lundgren knows she’s a long shot candidate for the Michigan House of Representatives. 

She’s a Republican living in the Democratic stronghold of Detroit, and a political newcomer with little name recognition. She’s also challenging one of the most powerful Democrats in the state — and fighting felony charges for allegedly trying to help overturn Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss.

But the 74-year-old Cass Corridor resident says she’s serious about taking on House Speaker Joe Tate, D-Detroit, telling Bridge Michigan she feels strongly about representing the party she believes in.

“I’m a novice, and I don’t have any real background in political science or politics,” she said. “But when somebody steps up and says, ‘We’ve got no one else,’ I make an effort to try to learn as much as I can and represent our party and our district as best as possible.”

Lundgren is unopposed in the Republican primary in Michigan’s 9th state House District, meaning she’s a lock for the general election. That’ll likely be against Tate, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and former professional football player who helped deliver Democratic majority control in Lansing….

… “That someone who is…one of the fake electors that have been charged with felonies is running against our leader, our speaker of the state House — the idea of it is almost hard to fathom,” Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes told Bridge. “It’s a little shocking to me.”…

…A preliminary exam for Lundgren and other defendants is expected to resume May 28. If the judge sends the case to trial, it’s unlikely it will be resolved by the Nov. 5 general election. 

Lundgren and other co-defendants maintain that they did nothing wrong. Calling the ongoing case a “nightmare,” Lundgren said she believed she was putting her name to a sign-in sheet for a meeting and was unaware it would be passed off as an elector document….

This will be Lundgren’s second campaign for the 9th district seat. She was defeated in 2022 by a Democrat who received 91% of the vote.

(2) WHO’S WHO. Just in case there isn’t enough controversy in the Guardian, they commissioned Martin Belam to give us “The greatest Doctor Who – ranked!” Fortunately, he was 100% right about who deserves to head up this list. (I will now beat a quick retreat to my bomb shelter…)

1. David Tennant
Tenth and Fourteenth Doctors, 2005-10, 2022-3

His second bite of the cherry just about elevates David Tennant above Tom Baker. Tennant agreed to step into the role after Eccleston’s abrupt departure, not knowing how successful the 2005 revival would be, then discovered he’d inherited a monster. His time in the role is littered with stories that put the character most through the emotional wringer (Midnight/Human Nature/The Waters of Mars) and some of the most comedy gif-able moments, which made him the perfect Doctor for the social media age. By 2009, Tennant’s Doctor Who was the BBC One Christmas ident and the show had ubiquitous cultural capital again.

Whether by accident or design, his brief return with Catherine Tate in 2023 delivered three enjoyable specials and worked as a convenient way to soft reboot the show for the Disney+ era. Over to you, Ncuti …
Best story: Blink. Iconic performance: Midnight

(3) PLENTY MORE WHERE THEY CAME FROM. That ranked list of Doctor Who’s might need to leave room: “48 Years Later, The Oldest Sci-Fi Show Could Finally Explain Its Weirdest Mystery” says Inverse.

…In 2020, then-showrunner Chris Chibnall decided the answer was — both. The Time Lords established a rule of 12 regenerations, but the Doctor had lived countless lives before having their memory wiped of said lives. Retroactively, the faces glimpsed in “The Brain of Morbius” accounted for some of those past lives, and, most prominently, Jo Martin’s dangerous Fugitive Doctor was among those lost Doctors, too. But who were those other secret Doctor Whos? It seems possible that the new version of the show might finally give us an answer.

According to a new quote from current Who showrunner, Russell T Davies, the story of “The Timeless Children,” established during the Jodie Whittaker era, will continue in Season 2 of the newly relaunched series. “That storyline’s a gift handed to me by Chris Chibnall, and it’s an honour to take it on from him,” Davies told Doctor Who Magazine. “There’s so much story in it! We’re dealing with it in what we’re shooting now for Season 2.”

It’s not super shocking that Davies is picking up the threads from the Chibnall era in the Ncuti Gatwa era. The three David Tennant/Catherine Tate specials already made it clear that the Doctor’s origin story of having been adopted is still very much on his mind, especially in the episode “Wild Blue Yonder.” But if Season 2 of the new era is doubling down on the Timeless Child, and the Doctor’s time working for the clandestine group called the Division, then it seems possible we’ll learn at least a little bit about the identity of some of those other Doctors….

(4) ORIGINS OF H.G. WELLS. The University of Calgary’s Nickle Galleries is exhibiting “H.G. Wells: A Scientific Romance” through July 19.

H.G. Wells: A Scientific Romance explores the inspired beginnings of Herbert George Wells (1866 – 1946), an early and major figure in what was to become science fiction. Trained in the sciences, Wells intended to be a teacher. Instead, poor health led him to pursue freelance journalism and write science-infused adventure stories known as “scientific romances.”

This exhibition traces Wells’ extraordinary early output, in the 1890s, of influential short stories and commercially successful novels that established him as a prescient and prolific writer, thinker, and cultural presence. Take a time machine back to fin de siècle London to see the future as Wells imagined it.

For those who can’t visit in person, there is a virtual tour available at Thinglink.

Also, some of the highlights are displayed in this series of videos.

(5) GOOGLE DOC GONE. WIRED can describe “What Happens When a Romance Writer Gets Locked Out of Google Docs”, however, no one has been able to find out why it happened to this writer. Chuck Tingle doesn’t know either, however, he is a source for this article.

… When she saw the word inappropriate in the notification, Renee worried her work had been dinged for its spice. “I thought I was the problem,” she says. “I thought I had somehow messed it up.”

But she hadn’t. At least, she hadn’t messed it up in any way she could hope to avoid in the future. Google never specified which of her 222,000 words was inappropriate. There were no highlighted sections, no indicators of what had rendered her documents unshareable. Had one of her readers flagged the content without discussing it with her first? Was it a malicious attack on the files? Had someone at Google decided her content was too spicy?…

While it’s still unclear what exactly happened to Renee’s docs, or if it’s just a fluke, the effects of mishaps like this are complex. Even though it’s now commonplace, there can still be unease around letting major corporations store personal writing. For authors who write about sex, say, or queer people trying to find a voice, hearing that your content could be flagged as “inappropriate” can have a chilling effect. The problem, says bestselling pseudonymous author Chuck Tingle, is that companies like Google now function like utilities. “It’s the same as water and electric,” he says.

Tingle would know: His “Tinglers,” erotica pieces he releases as Kindle Singles, led to his contract at Macmillan for the queer horror novels Camp Damascusand Bury Your Gays. Those early singles were written without the benefit of editors, often within a matter of hours. They’re sloppy. “They’re punk rock,” he says, but they also helped him build a community around the “underdog genres” of erotica, horror, and comedy that his work falls into. If Amazon decided to stop selling his Tinglers, it would be a big blow, even though he now has a book deal…

(6) NO POC ON THEAKSTON 2024 LONGLIST. “’It really isn’t good enough’: crime novel of the year award criticised for entirely white longlist” in the Guardian.

The Theakston Old Peculier crime novel of the year has faced criticism after its 2024 longlist did not feature a single book by an author of colour.

The UK and Ireland’s most prestigious prize for crime fiction is awarded to the best crime novel published each year in paperback. The winner is voted for jointly by the awards’ academy and the public, and is presented each year at the Theakston Old Peculier crime writing festival in Harrogate. The longlist is selected by the academy from all the titles submitted by publishers. This year’s longlist comprised 18 books, none of which is by an author of colour.

“It’s very pale …,” thriller writer Sarah Pinborough commented on Facebook after the list was announced last Thursday, sparking a debate among a number of authors.

“A big question is, how does the festival go from having a Black Woman as its Programme Chair in 2011 – me! – to where it is now?” commented crime writer Dreda Say Mitchell. “Who’s on the committee? How did they get chosen? What is the duration of time for someone to be on the committee? This should all be underpinned in clear and transparent policies and documentation … Because currently it really isn’t good enough.”…

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born May 3, 1985 Becky Chambers, 39. Raise your hand if you like the female-centered fiction of Becky Chambers. I certainly do. Quite a bit in fact.  I say female-centered because apparently she garners more than a few complaints that there’s no strong male characters here. You know of the type Heinlein only wrote of. Like Hazel Stone. Sorry I couldn’t help myself. 

Becky Chambers, photo by Julie Branson

Shall we start with the Wayfarers series? The books in the series are The Long Way to a Small, Angry PlanetA Closed and Common OrbitRecord of a Spaceborn Few and The Galaxy, and the Ground Within. Each is most excellent and quite unique in its own manner. 

The first book was first self-published through a Kickstarter campaign before being picked up by Hodder & Stoughton. Harper and with the otherwise alien crew of Wayfarer are fascinating. It reminds me a bit of Rambo’s Disco Space Opera novels in its depiction of aliens.

A Closed and Common Orbit would be nominated for a Hugo at Worldcon 75. Sidra, a Lovelace AI installed in a body kit and Pepper, a tech expert originally from an Enhancement Colony who’s her companion are the main characters here. Oh, this is was quite a tale indeed. 

Like the preceding novel, Record of a Spaceborn Few was nominated for a Hugo, this time at Dublin 2019.  I’ll not spoil it here, but suffice it to say that it deals with something that gets ignored in mass exodus from Earth story lines. Of course the series itself garnered a Hugo this year. 

The final of the four novels is The Galaxy, and the Ground Within. Here we have the Five-Hop One-Stop, call it a bar if you will on a planet that serves on a rest, refuelling and supply depot for ships transiting through wormholes, where a group of strangers must cooperate to survive when something catastrophic happens. That these characters are wonderfully portrayed is what matters here. This is my second favorite novel in the fourth series after the first. 

Her final work I’ll note here, setting aside for the moment her short fiction, is her To Be Taught, if Fortunate story which follows four astronauts as they travel beyond the Solar System on a research mission to explore potential life in other systems. Enough plot details. Fascinating story tightly told which won at CoNZealand. 

She has written about a baker’s dozen pieces of short fiction thus far. One in The Vela shared universe serial that is space opera I think. There is, and I’ve not read it, “A Good Heretic”, a short story set here which to be found in the Infinite Stars: Dark Frontiers anthology. 

I think Apple should pick up the Monk & Robot series as both A Psalm for the Wild-Built and A Prayer for the Crown-Shy would adapt well to the video with the proper budget that Apple could give them. Well and that they’d give Chambers a full say in adapting them. Robots, monks, tea. Cool. 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to devour a Georgian dinner with Dan Parent in Episode 224 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Dan Parent

My guest this episode is Dan Parent, an artist and writer who’s worked for Archie Comics for 35 years. I was excited to talk with him for many reasons, a big one being how little I know about the inner working of that company, which I’ve only touched on briefly for you back during my lunch with Howard Bender in Episode 204.

Parent started at Archie immediately after graduating from the famed Joe Kubert School, another topic I was happy to explore. In 2010, he introduced the first openly gay character in Archie Comics when he created Kevin Keller in Veronica #202, which he wrote and drew. That character eventually got his own title with the publication of Kevin Keller #1 in 2012.

Parent’s been involved with several crossover titles which expanded the Archie universe, such as Archie vs. Sharknado in 2015, and the six-part crossover Archie Meets Batman ’66 in 2018. Parent’s creator-owned work includes Die Kitty Die, which he collaborated on with artist/writer Fernando Ruiz in 2016, and which I found to be a delightful spoof of the comics business and many of the characters I loved as a kid. In May 2013, Parent was presented with the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comic Book….

(10) SF FROM A TO Z. [Item by Dann.] New/aspiring author Mike Burke posted something he wrote a while back.  It was a writing prompt/challenge.  He had to write a 26-word long story where the first letter of each word corresponded with each successive word of the alphabet: “A twenty-six word story challenge”. Read it at the link.

(11) EVERYONE’S A CRITIC. “An FAQ About Your New Birth Control: The Music of Rush” at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

…Imagine taking the most annoying parts of science fiction and Libertarianism, isolating them, and then somehow blending them up into a cursed musical slurry. Then, infuse that slurry with a distinctive incel vibe, and presto! You’ve got one of the most powerful contraception options on the market.…

(12) NOT SUCH A LONG TIME AGO. “How Engineers Created a Flying ‘Star Wars’ X-Wing” in Smithsonian Magazine.

Seeing a Star Wars X-wing starfighter won’t require a trip to a galaxy far, far away.

This year, just in time for May 4—Star Wars Day—the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum has unveiled a drone outfitted with X-wing body shells that resembles the popular spacecraft from the films. The display resides at the museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

The large drone, a Boeing CV2 Cargo Air Vehicle (CAV), represents a milestone for remotely piloted aircraft in the United States, says Roger Connor, who curates the museum’s vertical flight collection. Weighing more than 1,000 pounds, the drone was the first remotely piloted electrical vertical takeoff and landing aircraft of its size approved by the Federal Aviation Administration for public demonstration, Connor says.

In December 2019, two drones fitted with add-ons to look like X-wings, including the one displayed at the museum, flew above a crowd of spectators for the opening of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attraction at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The aircraft, which has a wingspan of 20 feet 2 inches and is more than 24 feet long and 7 feet tall with the X-wing costume on, will be on loan indefinitely from Disney and Boeing….

[Thanks to Steven French, Teddy Harvia, Kathy Sullivan, Dennis Howard, Gary Farber, Bill, Dann, Daniel Dern, Lise Andreasen, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 4/18/24 Quick Is Your Pixel, By Mickey Scrollane

(1) JEMISIN IN KANSAS. KU’s Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction invites readers to join them on April 25, 2024 for the next “KU Common Book Lecture [VIRTUAL]: An Evening with N.K. Jemisin.” Learn more about the influence of Octavia E. Butler on Jemisin’s work. Register at the link.

The KU Common Book program is coordinated by the KU Libraries, the Hall Center for the Humanities, and the Division of Academic Success. Author N. K. Jemisin will visit campus in April to give the Common Book Lecture. The Common Book for the 2023-24 school year is Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler. Butler, who died in 2006, was influential to the career of Jemisin, a fellow science fiction writer, and Jemisin also wrote the forward to the most recent edition of Parable of the Sower.

(2) PEN AMERICA LITERARY AWARDS UNDER PROTEST. “Amid Mounting Criticism, PEN America Literary Awards In Limbo” reports Publishers Weekly.

Amid growing criticism over its response to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, freedom of expression nonprofit PEN America is facing questions over whether its Literary Awards ceremony, World Voices Festival, and Literary Gala, all scheduled to be held within the next month, can proceed as planned.

Last week, a number of nominees withdrew their books from consideration for PEN awards citing the organization’s response to the war in Gaza. Esther Allen, one of three cofounders of the World Voices Festival, declined this year’s PEN/Ralph Manheim Award for Translation. Since that time, nine of the 10 longlisted authors for this year’s PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, which comes with a $75,000 monetary prize, have withdrawn their books from consideration.

According to the activist organization Writers Against the War on Gaza (WAWOG), a further 20 authors have withdrawn their longlisted books for other PEN awards including the PEN/Robert W. Bingham, PEN/Hemingway, PEN/Robert J. Dau, and PEN/Voelcker awards, as well as the PEN Translation Prize, PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, and PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant. The books have since been rounded up in a collection, “2024 PEN America Literary Awards Boycott for Palestine,” curated by WAWOG and currently featured on the homepage of Bookshop.org.

Furthermore, on April 17, 21 authors signed a letter of refusal addressed to the executive board and trustees of PEN America demanding, among other items, the immediate resignations of board president Jennifer Finney Boylan, CEO Suzanne Nossel, and the executive committee. Another nine signatories have pledged to donate prize money to mutual aid funds funds in Gaza. (Iliad translator Emily Wilson, who was not a signatory, also pledged to donate prize money in a tweet this morning.)…

…When contacted for comment, a PEN America administrator told PW that the organization is in touch with authors nominated for this year’s awards, and has paused announcing this year’s awards finalists as it deliberates on how to move forward with the upcoming awards ceremony, which is slated for April 29. The administrator added that the PEN/Jean Stein Award will not be awarded by default to the one remaining longlisted author, as the judging protocol for the award has not been changed in response to the withdrawals.

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to sup on scallops with Arthur Suydam in Episode 223 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

It’s time to take a seat at the table for the first of two dinner conversations which took place during last month’s AwesomeCon in Washington D.C. — starting with Arthur Suydam, whose professional comics career began when he drew a story published in the May 1974 issue of House of Secrets for DC, right around the time my own comics career started at Marvel editing the British reprint line in June. We somehow never encountered each other as we navigated the comic community of the ’70s, and in fact, we never met until the Saturday of our meal.

Arthur Suydam

After a bunch of those horror stories for various DC titles, Suydam moved on to Epic IllustratedHeavy Metal, and other publications where he could do the kind of painted work most people know him for today, writing and drawing such features MudwogsThe Adventures of Cholly & Flytrap, and others.

He’s perhaps most well known for his zombie work — which includes dozens of covers for the Marvel Zombie series and spin-offs — which earned him the nickname of “The Zombie King.” In 2008, Marvel even released a hardcover tribute titled Marvel Zombies: The Covers. His artwork has also appeared in such titles as BatmanConanTarzanPredator, and Aliens, and his cover art was featured on Ghost RiderHellstormMoon KnightWolverineMarvel Zombies vs. The Army of Darkness, and many others. He’s also provided noir-ish, retro covers for the Hard Case Crime paperback line.

We discussed the way a lengthy hospital stay resulted in him falling in love with comics, what Joe Orlando said to convince him to start his comics career at DC instead of Warren, the permission he was granted upon seeing the ghastly artwork of Graham Ingels, what he learned from dealing with cadavers during his art student days, how Gil Kane hurt his feelings by chewing out his early work, the grief Frank Frazetta got out of dealing with Mad magazine, the way his work for Epic Illustrated made Archie Goodwin squirm, why Marvel teamed him up with Robert Kirkman for its Marvel Zombies project, his reason for avoiding social media like the plague, and much more.

(4) MEET DANGEROUS VISIONS. The new Patton Oswalt and J. Michael Straczynski introductions to the latest edition of Dangerous Visions can be read on Amazon. (The linked sample also includes the Michael Moorcock and Harlan Ellison forewords from the 2002 edition, and Ellison’s intro from the original 1967 edition.)

(5) CAITLIN THOMAS. Deepest condolences to the Thomases who lost their daughter Caitlin yesterday. For those looking to help, a GoFundMe is here.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born April 18, 1971 David Tennant, 53. Of the modern Doctor Whos, the one performed by David Tennant is my favorite by far. (It won’t surprise you that Tom Baker is my classic Doctor.) I liked him from the very first time that he appeared, in “The Christmas Invasion”.  (Spoiler alert from here out.) The fact that he won’t finish his transition until he inhales the fumes from a dropped flask of tea. Oh, what a truly British thing to have him do! 

David Tennant

Christopher Eccleston was good but I thought that he didn’t have long enough to fully settle into the role so I felt his character was more of a sketch than a fully developed character. His certainly would have been a better Doctor if he’d decided to stay around, but he didn’t. 

Tennant on the other hand had three series plus some specials, he’d also be the Doctor in a two-part story in Doctor Who spin-off, Sarah Jane Adventures, “The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith”. He got time to settle into his character.  And what a character it was — intelligent, full of humor, sympathetic and just alien enough in his quirkiness to believable that he wasn’t human. 

Oh, and the stories. So, so great. Those along with his companions made for ever so great watching. My favorite companion? Each had their strengths — Rose Tyler, Donna Noble and Martha Jones, all made fine companions in very different ways. 

If I could pick just one story from his run, it’d be “The Unicorn and The Wasp” with Agatha Christie as a character and Donna Noble as the companion. And it was a country manor house mystery! 

Yes, I know he came back as the Fourteenth Doctor. Or will. Not having Disney I’ve no idea which tense applies. I know I could look it up but I’m haven’t and not inclined to subscribe to that service just to watch this series and there’s nothing else there I’m that much interested in. 

It’s certainly not his only genre role,and yes he played several Doctor Who roles before being the Tenth Doctor. He had a role in the BBC’s animated Scream of the Shalka and appeared in several Big Finish Productions. I think I read he played a Time Lord in one of them. 

Now let’s see about his other genre roles… One of my favorite series, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), had him  up as Gordon Stylus in the “Drop Dead” episode. The Quatermass Experiment film had him as Dr. Gordon Briscoe. He was in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as Barty Crouch Jr., a fine performance he gave there.

In How to Train Your Dragon and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, which I think has awesomely cute animation, he voices Spitelout Jorgenson, a warrior of the Hairy Hooligan Tribe. Need I say more? I think not.  DreamWorks Dragons was another series in which he voiced this character. 

In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, he had a short run there as Huyang. 

Huh. He even voiced a character in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, one called Fugitoid, a sort of android figure.

He’s the voice of Dangerous Beans in The Amazing Maurice off Terry Pratchett’s The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents.

The last role I’ll mention is his Jessica Jones one and one that honestly made me not watch the series. No, I’ll not say why as that’d be a major spoiler. He was called Kevin Thompson / Kilgrave. 

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Thatababy gets into kaiju algebra.
  • Tom Gauld might be thinking of Pluto. Or not.

(8) SUNKEN CHEST. This is not how you expect a superhero to start out looking. Jason Aaron redefines the King of Atlantis in a new Namor comic book series that arrives July 17.

The eight-issue epic will forever reshape the seas and bare the dark history of Atlantis and its fiercest, most infamous defender. Stay tuned for more information.

(9) ONCE IN A LULLABY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Today’s Nature takes us somewhere over the rainbow with an exo-planet: “An exoplanet is wrapped in glory”.

Astronomers spot the first planet outside the Solar System to boast a phenomenon reminiscent of a rainbow.

The rainbow-like phenomenon called a glory (artist’s illustration) appears at the boundary between the day and night sides of the exoplanet WASP-76b.

Primary research here.

(10) BLATAVSKY, LINNAEUS, AND MERMAIDS, AND , OH MU! [Item by Steven French.] Oh, how I long for lost Lemuria! “Like Atlantis, Lemuria Is a Lost Land That Never Existed, But Became So Much Bigger” at Atlas Obscura. Lots of inventive maps at the link.

PHILIP SCLATER SHOULD HAVE STOPPED writing in 1858. That’s when he published one of the foundational texts of biogeography, the science that studies the distribution of species and ecosystems across space and time.

But there was one little primate that didn’t neatly fit into Sclater’s division of the world into six biogeographical realms. He had found fossils of lemurs in both Madagascar and India, even though those places belong to two wholly separate realms. (In today’s biogeographical parlance, those would be the Afrotropical and Indomalayan zones, respectively.)

So he did what other scientists of the day did when faced with similar disconnects: He proposed a vast land bridge that had once linked Madagascar to India. And he gave that hypothetical continent, now swallowed by the Indian Ocean, an appropriate name: Lemuria…

(11) YETI. That’s the mystery creature at the heart of Primevals.

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Daniel Dern.]

From 12 years ago.  “Be sure to watch to the end,” says Dern. “The Best Star Trek Commercial Ever”.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/17/24 Root/File; Droppixels

(1) SECOND TIME AROUND. Rebecca F. Kuang brings us “The Poppy War (Becky’s Version)”. See the new cover at the link.

…I did the best I could for that book. I didn’t know how to ask for things. I made compromises. I knew I didn’t want the cover art to play into Orientalist tropes, and I knew I didn’t want a generic, European, epic fantasy cover, but I didn’t know how to communicate or negotiate something in between. I latched onto the first concept that wasn’t dreadful. I thought that if I said anything more, then I would hamstring my career before it had gotten off the ground. At twenty, I was scared of my own shadow.

We’ve grown a lot since then.

Last year, my editor asked me: if we could reissue The Poppy War again today, what would I change? How would the cover look? How would the interior art look?…

(2)  THE SUMMER OF ’24. The Clarion West Writers Workship has announced their Six-Week Workshop Class of 2024.

(3) DOCTOR WHO REJECTS AND SALVAGE JOBS. Den of Geek discusses “Doctor Who’s Unmade TV Episodes”. Here are two examples.

…. In 1964 Victor Pemberton submitted ‘The Slide’ (in which the Doctor discovered sentient, mind-controlling mud) to the Doctor Who production offices. The story was rejected and so Pemberton adapted it for BBC radio. ‘The Slide’ was then adapted back into a Doctor Who story that swapped the mud for seaweed in 1968’s ‘Fury from the Deep’.

Donald Cotton, who wrote two Hartnell stories, submitted a third which contained the idea that the Loch Ness Monster was of alien origin. ‘The Herdsmen of Venus’ suggested that the Loch Ness Monster was in fact a type of space bovine, bred by the titular herdsmen, and raising the very real possibility of a space helmet for a cow. Cotton’s story was rejected by the a new production team who felt Doctor Who should be a serious show, though seemingly conflicting alien origins for the Loch Ness Monster would appear in 1975’s ‘Terror of the Zygons’ and 1985’s ‘Timelash’….

(4) THE BASIC UNIT OF SOCIETY. Joe Vasicek by no means styles himself a liberal thinker, however, it’s thought-provoking to read his explanation for this change: “Why I no longer consider myself to be a libertarian” at One Thousand And One Parsecs.

… Families don’t just happen. They take a lot of work to build and to maintain, and unless they are planted in a culture that nourishes them, they will wither and die. Libertarianism does not foster that kind of a culture, yet it depends on families in order to raise the kind of people who can make a libertarian society work. People from broken families often lack the mental and emotional maturity to take upon themselves the personal responsibilities that come with personal liberty—in other words, they lack the capacity for personal independence which libertarianism depends on…. 

(5) WHEN IT’S TIME TO RAILROAD. “The U.S. is exploring a railroad for the moon. It has a good reason.”Mashable has the story.

… The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA — an ambitious federal innovations division — has begun collaborating with over a dozen companies on potential future lunar technologies, including a moon railroad. It’s called the 10-Year Lunar Architecture Capability Study, or LunA-10, and its mission is to find technologies that will catalyze a self-perpetuating lunar economy….

… DARPA recently chose the aerospace and defense giant Northrup Grumman to create the concept for the railroad. “The envisioned lunar railroad network could transport humans, supplies, and resources for commercial ventures across the lunar surface — contributing to a space economy for the United States and international partners,” the company wrote. They’ll aim to develop a railway that limits the human footprint on the largely still pristine lunar surface, and design a system that anyone could ride or load cargo on (such as with standardized, moon-worthy equipment that can withstand huge temperature swings)…

(6) CONAN IN 1969. Cora Buhlert is among the reviewers who contribute to Galactic Journey’s post “[April 16, 1969] The Men from Ipomoea (April 1969 Galactoscope)”.

Conan with a Metafictional Gimmick: Kothar, Barbarian Swordsman, by Gardner F. Fox

There has been an invasion at my trusty local import bookstore, an invasion of scantily clad, muscular Barbarians, sporting furry loincloths and horned helmets and brandishing gigantic swords and axes, while equally scantily clad maidens cling to their mighty thews….

(7) SOVIET NOSTALGIA? Gizmodo gripes and cheers: “The Greatest Sci-Fi Show You’re Still Not Watching Is Getting a New Season—and a Spinoff”.

The world of For All Mankind was forever changed when the Soviet Union arrived on the moon before the United States. That one event changed the course of the show’s alternate history, and now we’ll get to see exactly how it happened.

Apple TV+ has just announced that not only is For All Mankind coming back for a fifth season, it’s also getting a spinoff called Star City that will tell the story from the Soviet point of view, starting with them beating America to the moon….

According to Deadline:

…Apple is billing Star City is “a propulsive paranoid thriller” which will explore a key moment in the alt-history retelling of the space race — when the Soviet Union became the first nation to put a man on the moon. But this time, it will explore the story from behind the Iron Curtain, showing the lives of the cosmonauts, the engineers, and the intelligence officers embedded among them in the Soviet space program, and the risks they all took to propel humanity forward….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born April 17, 1959 Sean Bean, 65. Today’s Birthday is that of Sean Bean whose most well known role is either Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark in Game of Thrones or Boromir in Jackson’s The Lord of The Rings trilogy (though his scenes in The Two Towers are only available on the extended version.) I really liked him as Boromir in The Fellowship of The Ring which I’ve watched a number of times. 

Sean Bean in 2016.

If you count National Treasure as being genre adjacent, and I certainly do given its premise, he’s Ian Lowe there — a crime boss and treasure hunter who is a former friend of Benjamin Gate, the character Nicolas Cage plays. 

He’s James in The Dark, a horror film based off Welsh mythology with connections to the Welsh underworld Annwyn.  

He’s done a lot of horror films — Silent Hill is his next one in which he’s Christopher Da Silva, husband of Rose, and it’s a haunted mansion mystery as its sequel.  He played Ulric in Black Death. Guess when that is set?  

Genre wise, there’s Possessor where he’s a mind jumping assassin. Hey it’s also listed as being horror! Then there’s Jupiter Ascending where he’s Stinger Apindi, Over there we find The Martian where he’s Mitch Henderson, and in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief he’s Zeus.   

More interestingly he was Inspector John Marlottin The Frankenstein Chronicles, an ITV series about a London police officer who uncovers a corpse made up of body parts from eight missing children and sets about to determine who is responsible.

Lastly I’ll note that he was in the Snowpiercer series as Mr. Wilford. I’ve not seen it. So how is it? 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) BURSTING BACK INTO THEATERS. Comicbook.com tells fans “Original Alien Returning to Theaters This Month for Alien Day”. (Check Fandango for Alien 45th Anniversary Re-Release (2024) Showtimes.)

Just in time to celebrate 45 years since its release, Ridley Scott’s Alien is coming back to theaters this spring. Coming on “Alien Day” — that’s April 26 — the movie will screen at theaters across the U.S. Over at Fandango, you can see where screenings are, order tickets, and browse other merch like an homage poster, collectables, books, apparel, and more. The screenings on Alien Day will also feature an exclusive conversation between Scott and Alien: Romulus writer/director Fede Alvarez….

(11) ANOTHER HELPING OF GOOD OMENS, PLEASE. Radio Times intercepts the signal as “Neil Gaiman confirms when Good Omens season 3 begins filming”.

…Speaking in an interview with Deadline about post-strike Hollywood, Gaiman reflected on his upcoming projects – and in the process, offered up a timeline for Good Omens season 3 production.

He said: “That being said, you know, Dead Boy Detectives comes out in 10 days. I’ve seen half of Sandman season 2, and it’s astonishing. I’m writing Good Omens season 3, and we start shooting that in January.”…

(12) CLOSING THE BOOKS. San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions, Inc. announces “Costume-Con 39, Westercon 74 Committees Discharged”.

At its March 16, 2024 meeting, the SFSFC Board of Directors discharged the standing committees previously established to operate Costume-Con 39 and Westercon 74. Both conventions have completed all of their tasks. This action means that both convention committees will close their financial books and turn over any remaining surplus assets to the SFSFC corporate general fund. Any residual responsibilities of these committees have similarly been absorbed by the corporation’s general fund.

SFSFC continues to maintain both conventions’ websites. Anyone with questions about either committee can still contact the organization through those convention’s general-information inquiry addresses or they can contact SFSFC directly.

(13) PET PUSHES THE BUTTON. This news item involving a dog continues a line of interest we began by covering Mary Robinette Kowal’s cat who talks using buttons. “Dog uses sound buttons to communicate with owner that she’s unwell” at USA Today.

A golden retriever turned into a doctor when he diagnosed his owner with an illness before she got sick.

Christina Lee, a software engineer from Northern California, taught her dog Cache to talk to her by pressing buttons on a communication device.

The device is pre-programmed with words such as “food,” “friend,” and “mom.” But when Cache pressed a button saying “sick,” Lee was initially skeptical as she felt fine. However, five hours later, she began to feel unwell.

“This is the first time that he’s predicted when I would get sick ahead of time,” says Lee. “I think he could smell it on me or something.”

[Thanks to Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, JJ, Kathy Sullivan, Kevin Standlee, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]