Pixel Scroll 4/23/23 File The Pixels, Lest They Squeak Or Scroll

(1) ICG LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD. Congratulations to John and Christine O’Halloran, who were presented with this year’s International Costumers Guild Lifetime Achievement Award at Costume-Con 39 on April 22.

(2) AUDIOPYROMATRONICS. Maleficent Dragon caught fire during last night’s performance of Fantasmic! at Disneyland.

(3) FUNNY BUSINESS DATABASE. “Fictional Brands Archive” is just what it says it is.

Fictional Brands Archive is a collection of many fictional brands found in films, series and video games. It is structured according to the principles of brand identity design and aims to provide a comprehensive view of each fictional brand, framing them in their own fictional context and documenting their use and execution in the source work.

This website was developed as part of a Master’s thesis in Communication Design at Politecnico di Milano, supervised by Professor Francesco E. Guida, titled Fictional Brand Design.

The Research section contains the theoretical foundations upon which the project is based: it is a summary of several chapters of the thesis and is intended to serve as an informative compendium for anyone interested in learning more about fictional branding.

For example:

ACME
Name: ACME
Featured in: Looney Toons
Sector: Private
Category: Manufacturing
Medium: Series, Animated
Genre: Comedy
Year: 1920

The Acme corporation spans across several TV series, cartoons and films. The company is perhaps best-known for its appearance in the Looney Tunes universe. Its name is derived from the Greek word “acm”, which means peak or prime, but also refers to a common practice, in the era of the yellow pages that were written alphabetically, of naming companies with the initial “A” to make it appear at the top of lists. Acme seems to be a conglomerate which makes incredibly dangerous products that are known to fail at the worst of times.

Acme doesn’t have a consistent branding system, it’s logo appears in a multitude of serif, sans serif and stencil typefaces.

(4) ADVENTURES IN BOOKSELLING. In addition to everything else, Don Blyly has to combat the elements to keep Uncle Hugo’s & Uncle Edgar’s Bookstores open as he explained in his latest “How’s Business?” newsletter.

…People have been asking about the flood I wrote about last time.  When this building was built in the 1920s, Minneapolis had a single sewer system for both sanitary sewage and storm sewage, and the roof of the building was slanted so that all the rain water flowed to the center of the roof and then down through a large pipe to the sewer pipe in the basement.  With the single sewer system, every major summer rain storm effectively “flushed” the entire sewer system, resulting in untreated sewage flowing into the Mississippi and into some basements.  About 40-45 years ago Minneapolis created a second sewer system to handle only storm sewage (primarily dumping the rain water into the city lakes instead of taking it to the sanitary sewage treatment plant), and all buildings were forced to divert the rain water from their roofs away from

the sanitary sewage system.  For this building, all the water still collected in the center of the roof, but then went through a cast iron pipe around 6 inches in diameter across the ceiling of the first floor, through the side of the building, and dumped into the alley to make it to the storm sewer system on the street.  The part of the pipe outside the building is wrapped with electrical thermal tape, and then wrapped in fiber glass insulation, which is then wrapped with an aluminum-foil like coating.  This system had kept the outside pipe from freezing through all of the below zero days all winter long, but the insulation blanket had slipped down a couple of inches over the winter, so that the water no longer dripped directly onto the alley–it instead sprayed onto the bottom of the fiber glass, froze over night in the fiber glass, and then the ice started creeping up the pipe.    At the time the flood took place, there was a column of ice reaching down to the alley and reaching up the pipe for an unknown distance.  I knock away the column of ice, and nothing happened.  I then got a hammer and chisel and started breaking off pieces of ice within the pipe.  Eventually, water started dripping from the bottom of the pipe.  After more chiseling, all the ice came out of the pipe and water started gushing into the alley and stopped coming through the ceiling.  I removed the fiber glass that had slipped down over the end of the pipe, and we’ve had no water problems since.    Of course, there have been insurance problems.    When I reported the flood, I was promised that I would be contacted by an adjuster within 2 days.  Two weeks later I called again, talked to somebody who tried to claim that the water pouring through the ceiling had to have been caused by a sewer backup in the basement.    An on-site adjuster came out a few days later, did a good examination of the situation, took lots of photos of the floor, the section where part of the ceiling fell, and the water-damaged books, and agreed with me that the sewer in the basement had nothing to do with the ice dam in the alley.  A few weeks later I received a check for part of the estimated cost of repairing the floor, but nothing for repairing the ceiling.  The insurance company also wants a title-by-title inventory of every book that got wet, and I haven’t had time to do that yet….

(5) KEEP ON TREKKIN’. The Star Trek: Strange New Worlds second season teaser trailer is online.

The crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise boldly returns for new adventures full of new life and new civilizations, and, of course, exploring strange new worlds.

(6) TODAY’S THOUGHT EXPERIMENT. CBR.com asks “What if Treebeard Found Sauron’s Ring in Lord of the Rings?”

… After Sauron lost his Ring, it came into contact with a number of powerful figures. Gandalf, Elrond and Galadriel could have claimed the One Ring as their own, and each of those hypothetical situations would have ended badly. Their natural power — combined with the power of the One Ring — may not have been enough to conquer Sauron, but it would have doomed Middle-earth. But what would happen if Treebeard had happened upon the One Ring? Would it have corrupted him too, or would he have been oblivious to its effects like the powerful Tom Bombadil?…

(7) CELEBRITY BRUSH. “Students dressed as Gandalf on pub crawl meet Burnley’s Ian McKellen”. The video can be viewed at the Lancashire Telegraph link.

A hilarious video has emerged of the moment students on a Lord of the Rings pub crawl bumped into an East Lancashire actor who starred in the real movies.

22-year-old student, Ben Coyles, was dressed as Lord of the Rings character Gandalf for his birthday pub crawl in Bristol, on April 13.

Little did he know that he would end up bumping into the Burnley-born actor who played Gandalf in the movies, Sir Ian McKellen.

In the video, which has been viewed more than 3.5million times on video sharing platform TikTok, Ben can be seen posing for a picture and chatting with the legendary actor.

Scarlet Learmonth, who posted the video and was on the pub crawl, said: “It was such a shock but also a beautiful and magical moment….

(8) COSTUMERS MEMORIAL VIDEO. The Costuming Community Memorial 2023 video was shown this weekend at Costume-Con 39.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1976[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

This is the Beginning of Bob Tucker’s “The Survey” that he wrote for  Science Fiction Five-Yearly in their sixth issue which was in 1976.

Wilson “Bob” Tucker was a member of First Fandom, coined the term space opera, and lent his name to the practice of tuckerization.   

He won the Heicon ’70 Best Fan Writer Hugo and the 1954 Best Fan Writer Retro Hugo, and was nominated for the 1951 Best Fan Writer Retro Hugo and the 1946 Best Fan Writer Retro Hugo.

And now for your considerable amusement is the Beginning of “The Survey”…

I have a weakness for fan history, and somebody made a joke about rubber chicken. It may have been Robert Bloch because he has this weakness for chickens. Preferably chicks in showers.

I wondered if it were true that all fan convention banquets served rubber chicken? For many years the allegations were rife, the references many, the jokes extensile. Were fan banquets all rubber chicken banquets? The question itself was enough to light a mental fire, enough to cause me to spring from my rocking chair and dash quickly to the bookcase to consult Harry Warner. (The elapsed time from rocking-chair-spring to bookshelf arrival was thirty-five minutes, but then this is a wide room and I did become entangled between feet and beard on the first upward spring.

I was astonished and disappointed at what I did not find in Warner’s All Our Yesterdays. I realized at once the omissions were the fault of Ed Wood and George Price, who labored many hours extracting the index which appears at the back of the book, but nevertheless Warner must share in the guilt, if only by association. The index does not have an entry “Rubber Chicken.” Nor does it have a “Chicken, rubber.” There isn’t so much as a “Banquet” entry. I know very well the fans who attended conventions in the 1940s ate something, because I was among them and I remember eating — but here, in supposedly living history, was no mention of that fact.

Still unbelieving, I turned to the text itself and discovered that Harry had mentioned worldcon banquets but did not often reproduce the menus. Of Chicago, 1940, he said: “They got free meeting rooms (in the hotel) in return for staging a banquet at which they needed to guarantee only fifty dinners at one dollar each.” And later: “The banquet that night had food in quantities approximating the cost of the meal.” Nothing about chicken, rubber.

I was at that banquet but creeping senility has long since robbed me of the memory of what was served. (However, I doubt that it was hamburgers or hotdogs.)

Of the 1941 Denver worldcon, Warner reported that bread was the banquet entree: “There were forty fans on hand for the banquet. After the breaking of bread, there were many informal talks.” It should be noted that again, Wood and Price failed to include an entry for “bread” in the index, and I’m not aware of any stale jokes about rubber bread in fandom — not even from Bloch.

But now, at last, a partial success! The Pacificon, 1946, served chicken. Yes, they did. Read Warner on page 262: “More than ninety fans and pros ate thin soup and halves of chicken, and mulled a lot of statistics that Don Day gave …” Note that. The first admission of chicken appears in history, together with a convention menu: thin soup, halved chicken, mulled statistics. No doubt a satisfactory meal for the $2.50 fee charged in that year. (Also please note the alarming rate of inflation: the official banquet had rocketed from only one dollar per person in 1940, to two and one-half in 1946. Remember this when someone blames Nixon for inflationary pressures.) I shouldn’t have to state at this point that Wood and Price are again remiss. The index carries no mention of soup, chicken, statistics….

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 23, 1879 Talbot Mundy. English-born, but based for most of his life in the United States, he also wrote under the pseudonym of Walter Galt. Best known as the author of King of the Khyber Rifles which is not really genre and the Jimgrim series which is genre, much of his work was published in pulp magazines. (Died 1940.)
  • Born April 23, 1923 Avram Davidson. Equally at home writing mystery, fantasy or science fiction, he wrote two splendid Ellery Queen mysteries, And on the Eighth Day and The Fourth Side of the Triangle. I’m fond of his Vergil Magus series if only for the names of the novels, like The Phoenix and the Mirror or, The Enigmatic Speculum. There was a 2020 audiobook edition of The Avram Davidson Treasury: A Tribute Collection edited by Robert Silverberg and Grania Davis, first published in 1998, with afterwords by Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison, and intros by many other sff writers. (Died 1993.)
  • Born April 23, 1935 Tom Doherty, 88. Once publisher of Ace Books who left that in 1980 to found Tor Books. Tor became a subsidiary of St. Martin’s Press in 1987; it became part of the Holtzbrinck group, now part of Macmillan in the U.S. Doherty was awarded a World Fantasy Award in the Lifetime Achievement category at the 2005 World Fantasy Convention for his contributions to the fantasy field.
  • Born April 23, 1946 Blair Brown, 77. Emily Jessup In Altered States (based on the Paddy Chayefsky novel) was her first genre role. Later roles include Nina Sharp, the executive director of Massive Dynamic, on Fringe, an amazing role indeed, and Elizabeth Collins Stoddard in the 2004 television remake of Dark Shadows. Her last genre role I think was Kate Durning on Elementary.
  • Born April 23, 1955 Paul J. McAuley, 68. Four Hundred Billion Stars, his first novel, won the Philip K. Dick Award, Fairyland which I adore won an Arthur C. Clarke Award and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel. His short story, “The Choice”, won a Sturgeon Award, and “Pasquale’s Angel” won a Sideways Award. He was Toastmaster along Kim Newman at Interaction.
  • Born April 23, 1962 John Hannah, 61. Here for being Jonathan Carnahan in The MummyThe Mummy Returns, and there was apparently a third film as well though let’s not talk about it please, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. In a more meaty role, he was the title characters in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and of late he’s been Holden Radcliffe on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series. Though not even remotely genre adjacent, he was Rebus in the BBC adaptation of the Ian Rankin series. 
  • Born April 23, 1973 Naomi Kritzer, 50. I saw that her 2015 short story “Cat Pictures Please” had been a Hugo Award winner at MidAmeriCon II, so I went and purchased Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories off Apple Books so I could read it. It’s since been expanded continued in two more novels, Catfishing on CatNet, which won the Lodestar Award, and the Chaos on Catnet. DisCon III saw her nominated for two Hugos, one for her “Monster” novelette and one for her most excellent “Little Free Library” short story. She also picked up a nomination at Dublin 2019 for her “The Thing About Ghost Stories” novelette. 
  • Born April 23, 1985 Angel Locsin, 38. She starred as the superhero in the epic 170-episode Darna series on her country’s television. Her character looks suspiciously like Wonder Woman. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Close to Home shows The Wizard of Oz gang examining one character’s Ancestry.com results.

(12) A CRITIC’S CHOICE. Abigail Nussbaum shared “The 2023 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot” at Asking the Wrong Questions. Makes a good reading list.

The deadline for nominating work for the 2023 Hugo awards is a week away. If you’re eligible to nominate, you should have received an email from the Chengdu Worldcon (if not, you can query them here). This year’s nominations are likely to be unusual due to the high number of Chinese Worldcon members—it’s entirely possible, and even likely, that the ballot will include Chinese-language work that hasn’t received an English translation, which will render the voting phase somewhat tricky. Still, it’s not as if I’m used to seeing my taste reflected perfectly by this award even in years when there is no language barrier, so I see no reason not to continue as I’ve always done, nominating the things I thought were excellent last year, and calling attention to them in the hopes that others, too, find them worthy. 

In compiling my nominations this year, I made great use of two tremendous resources, the Locus Recommended Reading List and the Hugo Spreadsheet of Doom. I also appreciated all the authors and critics who have posted their own award recommendations on their blogs and on twitter. The conversation about awards eligibility posts was settled long ago on the “pro” side, and I have no problem with people who try to promote their own work. But I always pay more attention to (and get more utility out of) the people who recommend the things they loved and would like to see nominated as well as the things they’ve published….

(13) VIDEO’S FOREVER HOME. Polygon shows that “Anime Blu-rays and DvDs are more popular than ever”. “Blu-rays are great collectibles — and you never have to worry about your favorites disappearing from streaming”

… Calculating anime home video sales is complicated. The market for it in Japan has been declining almost yearly for the past decade — coinciding with the worldwide move to digital platforms — but specific releases, like the first Demon Slayer film, can inspire greater interest. That movie has both the highest box office in Japanese history, and sold over a million copies on Blu-ray and DVD within the first three days of its release. To put that kind of success in perspective, only three American blockbuster films in 2022 sold more than a million copies throughout the entire year.

But the hunger for anime has only grown in the U.S., to the extent that in August 2022, Sony acquired Right Stuf Anime, a distributor established in 1987 that expanded into selling anime, live-action releases, toys, manga, and all manner of collectibles. (Sony also owns Crunchyroll, an anime streaming service.) In an era where anime home video was far from ubiquitous — one might find an ad in the back of a magazine here, a vendor with a massive collection at a convention there, and a smattering of opportunities among message boards — Right Stuf’s mission was to give the anime consumer “everything in one place” and a trusted system of delivering it to them. It was a fruitful operation. At this point, Right Stuf says it’s the largest online seller of anime in North America….

(14) HEADED FOR TOUCHDOWN. “A daring company is about to try landing on the moon. You can watch it.” Mashable tells how.

Other space ventures and spacefaring nations have tried and failed before.

Undeterred by previous flops, a Japanese company will attempt to land a robotic spacecraft on the moon. If it succeeds, ispace could claim the first commercial lunar landing in history.

The company will broadcast the event live at 11:40 a.m. ET April 25, 2023, giving viewers a peek behind the curtains at mission control in Tokyo as engineers oversee the challenging feat. Lunar landings are rare in and of themselves, let alone opportunities for the public to watch them unfold in real time.

The mission, known as HAKUTO-R(opens in a new tab), is one of several commercial lunar missions happening soon. Others in the pipeline are an outgrowth of NASA‘s Commercial Lunar Payload Services Program, established in 2018 to recruit the private sector(opens in a new tab) to help deliver cargo to the moon. ispace(opens in a new tab), a startup specializing in landing vehicles, couldn’t directly participate in the NASA program because it isn’t an American company, but it is collaborating on a contract led by Draper Technologies based in Massachusetts to land on the moon in 2025….

(15) CLEANING UP AFTER. Here is more about the local impact of the other day’s Starship explosion. “SpaceX’s Starship went down in a blaze of glory—and left a mess for locals who warned about the impact” at Yahoo!

…It resulted in an explosion that caused residents near the launch site in South Texas to notice ashy particulates falling from the sky and vibrations in their classrooms and homes.

The city of Port Isabel said there is no immediate concern for people’s health and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk declared the fireworks show a victory, saying SpaceX “learned a lot for the next test launch in a few months.”

But for the community near the site, it will take time to clean up from this one—a nearby road was covered in debris and temporarily closed and teams dedicated to protecting the bays and estuaries of the Texas coastal bend are busy surveying the damage. It’s an area where shorebirds have had their habitat disrupted from prototypes that exploded after previous test launches, and at least two species have stopped or reduced nesting in recent years, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

It’s these concerns that drew residents to release a statement before the launch, blasting SpaceX and elected officials for declining to meet about Starship and often cutting off their access to the beach.

“Whenever Elon Musk and his accomplices, the Cameron County Commissioners and Texas General Land Office, close Boca Chica beach for his pet project SpaceX, they destroy our native life ways.” wrote Juan B. Mancias, Carrizo Comecrudo Tribal Chairman.

The local community’s clash with SpaceX to protect and access their beach and wildlife represents a striking contrast to the company’s grand vision for the future. SpaceX wants to make humans a multi-planetary society, and Musk has shared his thoughts that getting humans to Mars and the “greater Solar System” could protect us if large-scale devastation happened like an asteroid hitting Earth….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. New and improved! Someone has figured out “How Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania Should Have Ended”.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/28/23 Have You Met Lydia, Lydia The Tatooine Lady?

(1) UNCLE HUGO’S NEEDED A DIFFERENT KIND OF BAIL-OUT. As Uncle Hugo’s & Uncle Edgar’s Bookstores owner Don Blyly explains in the latest “How’s Business” he’s lucky he didn’t need to invest in gopher wood, build an ark, and start gathering the Baen authors two-by-two.

I came to the store Sunday morning and started doing payroll, and a few minutes late I saw a small wet spot on the floor, far from any books, and assumed some snow had fallen off my boots and melted.  About 5 hours later I noticed that the small wet spot was slightly larger and I saw a drop of water hit it from a drip from the ceiling.  Before closing on Sunday Jon put a bucket under the occasional drip, and it seemed safe to go home.   

In the early morning hours, the rain started.  When I got to the store around 7:30 Monday morning, water was pouring from a large area of the ceiling, primarily near the new bookshelves that contained the used sf hardcovers and trade paperback with authors “R” through “W”.  Much of the water was hitting the floor and then bouncing up onto the bottom shelf of books.  I pulled all the books from the bottom shelves and moved them to safer locations, grabbed some buckets to put under the bigger streams of water,  and then headed to the nearest hardware store to pick up a better mop and some plastic drop cloths.   

When I got back to the store I couldn’t find any duct tape, and the flooding had spread, so I drove over to Target to buy duct tape and a bunch of plastic “under-bed storage units”, which were much cheaper than buckets, plus being rectangular instead of round.  Back to the store, and I spread the storage units under a lot more drips.  I then tried to tape the plastic drop cloths to the top of the bookshelves to protect the books that had yet been damaged–and immediately discovered that duct tape does not stick to wet wood.  Fortunately, I had a lot of cans of ginger ale in the refrigerator, and a series of cans of soda managed to hold the drop cloths in place.  A couple of hours later Ken and Marie showed up and joined the fight against the water.  Ken was swinging the mop handle so energetically that he knocked the thermostat off the wall in 3 pieces. 

Given the rate at which we were emptying buckets, I estimate that between 20 and 30 gallons of water were coming through the ceiling every 15 minutes, and a lot of it leaked through the floor into the basement..  The rain finally ended around noon, and about an hour later the flood slowed a little.  A customer made a suggestion of a solution, and about two hours later I was finally able to get his solution to work.  Around 3:30 the flood turned into a bunch of drips.  (Supposedly there is about an 8 inch layer of insulation above the ceiling, so I expected the drips to continue to drain from the insulation long after the water stopped coming in from the roof.)   

I was delighted not to spend the entire night at the store, emptying buckets every 15 minutes, as I had feared I would.  We did some cleaning up before closing (removing water-logged flattened cardboard boxes and replacing them with dry flattened cardboard boxes, mopping the floor on the ground level, using a snow shovel to push water in the basement towards the floor drain, etc.).  I came back to the store at 6:30 this morning and continued cleaning up.  All the buckets and storage containers are put away, all the wet cardboard is thrown out, the plastic drop cloths are removed from the bookshelves and put away.  I started going through the piles of books from the bottom shelves, looking for undamaged books to put back on the shelves, while the damaged ones will have to either be thrown away or have their prices dropped and descriptions changed.  I found that the section of shelving that contained David Weber, Margaret Weis, and H. G. Wells got wet from the top shelf to the bottom shelf, with the books so swollen that it was hard to get them off the shelves.  Several hundred books were damaged, but they will have to dry out more before I can figure out which ones can be salvaged.  Some of the floor boards have warped, and I don’t know if the warping will decrease after the boards finish drying.

Fortunately, the new wooden bookshelves don’t seem to have warped.  The thermostat has been repaired, so we have heat again.

This week there will be another good reason to drop by the store. Thursday, March 2, 2023 is Uncle Hugo’s 49th anniversary. Blyly will he be holding an anniversary sale from Thursday, March 2 through Sunday, March 5, with an extra 10% off everything in the store.  With a discount card, you can get 20% off everything during the sale. The sale only applies to in-store purchases, not to mail orders.

(2) HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! On Scout’s Progress Book Day!” and Sharon Lee and Steve Miller celebrate the anniversary re-issue of their book – part of a duo that begins the chronology of the Liaden Universe® series. (As I understand it. Which if I don’t please let me know.)

… Returning to 1993, we had no expectation that Scout’s Progress – or Local Custom – would ever be read by anybody but us. They were therefore written to amuse – us. Things that amuse us particularly are word-play; dry, understated humor; a certain grace – of manner and of person – protagonists with a strong sense of honor and right action, who are competent, though they may be flawed.

Improbably, Local Custom and Scout’s Progress were published in February 2001, as original omnibus Pilots Choice, from Meisha Merlin Publishing.

It’s apparently Traditional on occasions such as these for authors to reflect on what they would have done differently, were they writing the work being celebrated today.

And our answer is? Nothing….

(3) DON’T SALUTE THIS FLAG. Writer Beware’s Victoria Strauss helps writers see the problems: “When Your Publishing Contract Flies a Red Flag: Clauses to Watch Out For”.

…In this article, I’m going to focus on contract language that gives too much benefit to the publisher, and too little to the author. Consider these contract clauses to be red flags wherever you encounter them. (All of the images below are taken from contracts that have been shared with me by authors.)

First on her list:

Copyright Transfer

Unless you are doing work-for-hire, such as writing for a media tie-in franchise, a publisher should not take ownership of your copyright. For most publishers, copyright ownership doesn’t provide any meaningful advantage over a conventional grant of rights, and there’s no reason to require it. Even where the transfer is temporary, with rights reverting back to you at some point, it doesn’t change the fact that for as long as the contract is in force, your copyright does not belong to you.

Copyright transfers usually appear in the Grant of Rights clause. Look for phrases like “all right, title and interest in and to the Work” and “including but not limited to all copyrights therein.”…

(4) WHICH SECRETS CAN BE REVEALED? “’The Mandalorian’ Returns: Jon Favreau’s Exclusive Tour of the Secret Set” in Vanity Fair.

The Mandalorian returns this week with Pedro Pascal’s masked antihero sharing words of wisdom with his adopted son, Baby Yoda (a.k.a. Grogu): “Being a Mandalorian is not just about learning how to fight. You also have to know how to navigate the galaxy. That way, you’ll never be lost.”

Jon Favreau, the creator of the show and the writer of those lines, found his own way to navigate this universe’s disparate worlds. He brings all of the planets to him, storing them inside an otherwise nondescript California soundstage. By now, it’s not a secret that the show makes use of Industrial Light & Magic’s StageCraft technology, which creates photorealistic alien landscapes on a colossal curved LED wall called a volume. But not many outsiders have ever stepped within the reality-bending walls. 

Favreau, a stickler for secrecy, welcomed Vanity Fair to the set during the making of the new episodes, asking only that we not reveal too much about the scene playing out. Outside the doors of the soundstage, Favreau scratches at his beard, trying to decide what can be revealed about the setting sprawled across the 20-foot digital walls. “What should we call it? It’s a good question,” he says, settling on: “A cavernous atrium. With…tech elements embedded.”

He laughs. “And if you think that’s not going to be a sentence that launches a thousand YouTube videos…”

(5) ASHE Q&A. The Horror Writers Association’s “Black Heritage in Horror” series continues: “Interview with Paula Ashe”.

Paula D. Ashe (she/her) is an author of dark fiction. Her debut collection — We Are Here to Hurt Each Other — was released in early ‘22 by Nictitating Books….

What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?

Since childhood I’ve been drawn to things that have a dark bent to them. I feel like horror is the most honest genre and it’s a place where I can tell some painful and usually private truths. I also just really enjoy disturbing the shit out of people….

(6) RICOU BROWNING (1930-2023). [Item by Steve Vertlieb.] Sad to learn of the passing of the wonderful Ricou Browning yesterday at age 93. Here are the original “Creatures From The Black Lagoon”… Ben Chapman (the land creature) on the left, and Ricou Browning (the proverbial “Sea Beast”) on the right, with an even more Monstrous “victim” wedged between them. He was both a cinematic icon, and a delightfully aquatic gentleman. Rest In Peace amongst the “stars.”

The Hollywood Reporter tribute is filled with anecdotes from his career.

… Browning was charged with showing the area of Wakulla Springs, Florida, to location scouts from Universal who were seeking filming locations for Creature From the Black Lagoon. He also did some swim moves for them, and that led to his Gill-Man gig. (Ben Chapman played the beast on land in the first movie.)

“The lips of the suit sat about a half-inch from my lips, and I put the air hose in my mouth to breathe,” he said in a 2019 interview. “I would hold my breath and go do the scene, and I’d have other safety people with other air hoses to give me air if I needed it. We had a signal. If I went totally limp, it meant I needed it. It worked out well, and we didn’t have any problems.”

Browning said he filmed his scenes in wintertime, and it was pretty cold. “The crew felt sorry for me, so somebody said, ‘How would you like a shot of brandy?’ I said, ‘Sure,’” he recalled. “Another part of the crew [also] gave me a shot of brandy. Pretty soon they were dealing with a drunk creature.”…

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1969[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Roger Zelazny’s Damnation Alley is a novel that I’ll admit that I do like. 

It was published first in 1969 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons. The cover art (which I think is utterly wrong for the novel) is by Jack Gaughan. 

I did not know until now that a shorter novella length version of this was first published in the October 1967 issue of Galaxy. Who here can tell me how significantly different the two versions are? That novella is in The Last Defender of Camelot collection which unfortunately has not made it to the usual suspects.

And now the Beginning in which we meet Hell Tanner.

The gull swooped by, seemed to hover a moment on unmoving wings. 

Hell Tanner flipped his cigar butt at it and scored a lucky hit. The bird uttered a hoarse cry and beat suddenly at the air. It climbed about fifty feet, and whether it shrieked a second time, he would never know. 

It was gone. 

A single white feather rocked in the violent sky, drifted out over the edge of the cliff, and descended, swinging, toward the ocean. Tanner chuckled through his beard, against the steady roar of the wind and the pounding of the surf. Then he took his feet down from the handlebars, kicked up the stand, and gunned his bike to, life. 

He took the slope slowly till he came to the trail, then picked up speed and was doing fifty when he hit the highway. 

He leaned forward and gunned it again. He had the road all to himself, and he laid on the gas pedal till there was no place left for it to go. He raised his goggles and looked at the world through crap-colored glasses, which was pretty much the way he looked at it without them, too. 

All the old irons were gone from his jacket, and he missed the swastika, the hammer and sickle, and the upright finger, especially. He missed his old emblem, too. Maybe he could pick one up in Tijuana and have some broad sew it on and … No. It wouldn’t do. All that was dead and gone. It would be a giveaway, and he wouldn’t last a day. What he would do was sell the Harley, work his way down the coast, clean and square, and see what he could find in the other America.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 28, 1913 John Coleman Burroughs.  Known for his illustrations of the works of his father, Edgar Rice Burroughs. At age 23, he was given the chance to illustrate his father’s book, Oakdale Affair and the Rider which was published in 1937. He went on to illustrate all of his father’s books published during the author’s lifetime — a total of over 125 illustrations. He also illustrated the John Carter Sunday newspaper strip, a David Innes of Pellucidar comic book feature and myriad Big Little Book covers. I remember the latter books — they were always to be found about the house during my childhood. (Died 1979.)
  • Born February 28, 1928 Walter Tevis. Author of The Man Who Fell to Earth. Yes, that novel. It obviously served as the basis for the 1976 film by Nicolas Roeg, The Man Who Fell to Earth, with Bowie as star, as well as a later television adaptation which I’d never heard of. He also wrote Mockingbird which was nominated for a Nebula Award for Best Novel. James Sallis reviewed both novels in F&SF. He wrote the best novel about chess ever published, Queen’s Gambit, which was made into a much praised Netflix production.(Died 1984.)
  • Born February 28, 1947 Stephen Goldin, 76. Author of the Family d’Alembert series which is based on a novella by E.E. “Doc” Smith. I think the novella is “Imperial Stars” but that’s unclear from the way the series is referred to. Has anyone read this series? How does it match up to the source material?
  • Born February 28, 1957 John Barnes, 66. I read and like the four novels in his Thousand Cultures series which are a sort of updated Heinleinian take on the spread of humanity across the Galaxy. What else by him do y’all like?
  • Born February 28, 1966 Philip Reeve, 57. He is primarily known for the Mortal Engines and its sequels. I read Mortal EnginesPredator’s Gold and Infernal Devices before deciding that was enough of that series, it’s a fine series, it just wasn’t developing enough to warrant me reading any more of it.
  • Born February 28, 1970 Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler), 53. He’s the author of several children’s books, also serving as the narrator of A Series of Unfortunate Events. I’ve read the books, they’re very popular I’m told at my local bookstore. It has been turned into a film, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, and into a Netflix series as well which is named, oh you guess. 
  • Born February 28, 1977 Chris Wooding, 46. If you read nothing else by him, do read the four novel series that is the steampunkish Tales of the Ketty Jay. Simply wonderful. The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray plays off the Cthulhu Mythos that certain folk don’t think exist and does a damn fine job of doing so.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Candorville just wants to say it out loud so badly – but that would sound nuts!
  • Dustin has a sort of Walter Mitty moment.

(10) SIGNOFF. Author Karl Drinkwater explains why “Karl Is Antisocial” in a 2021 article.

I’m a full time author. I am part of professional networks, and have colleagues and friends that are authors. One of the maxims is that an author needs a platform. That platform includes social media. If you don’t use them you will face obscurity and poverty.

This post is the culmination of a number of decisions. One of them: I’m planning on leaving social media.

Those who know me won’t be so surprised. They know I am a non-conformist. That I question everything (including myself). That I’m the kind of person who would email my audiobook narrators and offer to sign all my royalties over to them as part of me leaving Amazon. (I did that this morning.) That I would stop using Windows after 20 years and switch to Linux. (I did that last week.)

Those who don’t know me will just think I’m bat-shit crazy.

But I do have my reasons, however strange they may appear at first….

…I don’t like the idea of social media being a kind of untargeted shotgun blast out at the universe, with everyone shouting to be louder than everyone else, hoping that by screaming they will get more attention. And so you just get a cacophonous wall of noise. I don’t like the impersonality of much of it.

And do I really need to be on there? My business is already unconventional. I don’t do paid adverts on Amazon and Facebook. Yet people find me and my work, and they buy it. And, more often than not, they love it. Another convention is for books to have a copyright page telling you everything you are not allowed to do. I’m the opposite. I want readers to have more rights. Certainly more than the law currently allows. So some of my books have a copyright page saying it’s fine to convert my e-books between formats, and to save a copy as a backup (I don’t add DRM). To copy or quote up to 50% of a print book. To give print books away or sell them on….

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

Pixel Scroll 11/23/22 I’ve Read Through The Pixel On A Scroll With No Name

(1) ARISIA CHAIR TURNOVER. The acting Arisia 2023 convention chairs Alan and Michelle Wexelblat have resigned. Melissa Kaplan has stepped up as acting con chair in their place. The Arisia board says “details of the handoff and relevant ongoing efforts at Arisia will be forthcoming after the holiday break.”

(2) UNCLE HUGO’S / UNCLE EDGAR’S GET THEIR NAMES OUT FRONT. Don Blyly says, “The new awnings were installed last Friday afternoon, making it much easier to find the new location for the first time.” Until then, his bookstores’ new location still had the previous tenant’s name out front.  

(3) SUSPECT IN WOOSTER DEATH. Martin Morse Wooster was killed by a hit-and-run driver on November 12, however, his name did not appear in news reports until yesterday on WAVY in an update that says Virginia State Police have identified a suspect.

…State Police had said it was looking for witnesses who may have been driving in the area around Bypass Road prior to or after the incident.

Sgt. Michelle Anaya with the Virginia State Police said it has identified a suspect, and it is investigating and working with the Commonwealth’s Attorney. The incident, she said, is still under investigation, with charges pending….

(4) A GHOSTLY REALITY. Cora Buhlert’s new “Non-Fiction Spotlight” introduces readers to “A Haunted History of Invisible Women – True Stories of America’s Ghosts by Leanna Renee Hieber and Andrea Janes”.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Leanna: I’ve been writing since I was a kid and didn’t consider pursuing it professionally until my first job out of college. I had gotten a BFA in theatre performance with a focus study in the Victorian Era. I worked in the professional regional theatre circuit for a few years before moving to New York City and ended up at a Broadway callback where all I could think about was the book that would end up becoming my debut Gothic, Gaslamp Fantasy series, Strangely Beautiful. I stopped auditioning and solely focused on my novel about a girl who sees, talks with, and helps ghosts. Spectral subjects have been part of my creative process since childhood. I got my NYC tour guide’s license my first years in New York as I knew I wanted to incorporate real history into my fiction and eventually write non-fiction. Being a tour guide is a great way to make history second-nature. I feel like A Haunted History of Invisible Women is the culmination of everything that’s ever been important to me.

Andrea: I’m a writer and a New York City tour guide. I founded my own walking tour company, Boroughs of the Dead, in 2013….

(5) BEGINS WITH A SINGLE STEP. Sarah A. Hoyt offers some practical encouragement to writers in “The Best Beginning” at Mad Genius Club.

The best beginning is the one you can do.

This applies both to the beginning of novels, and “simply” to starting to write, or to establishing a writing schedule.

There are all sorts of books and instructions on how to start any of those, but what they leave out is: just begin any way you can. The rest will follow.

With novels, there are all kinds of ways to begin, including setting the tone of the book in the first paragraph. The theme in the first page. Make sure you start with the character who is central to the conflict, because readers are like ducklings, they imprint on the first moving thing they see.

However, you can always fix it in post. You can always go back and fix that beginning so it points the right way. You can lose the first fifty pages (beginning writers consistently start fifty pages too early.) Etc….

(6) PICARDO ASKS DOCTOR WHO WHO IS THE DOCTOR. But he is one only in an emergency, right?

(7) NEW ORLEANS IS HIS BEAT. Rich Horton lets us look over his shoulder in “Convention Report: World Fantasy 2022”; from Strange at Ecbatan.

…Mary Ann and I had decided to use Sunday afternoon to visit the French Quarter. We took the streetcar down there — it’s very easy and convenient. We were going to get lunch and I was determined to get a muffeletta, which is one of my favorite sandwiches. I wanted an authentic muffuletta from New Orleans — which I got at Frank’s, which advertised the “original muffuletta”. Alas, it might be the original, and it was fine, but you can get one just as good at, for example, C. J. Mugg’s in my town of Webster Groves. We should have eaten at the French Market Restaurant instead! We also, of course, went to Cafe du Monde to try beignets, and, hey, they were actually very good. (The line was long but went quickly.)…

(8) THE TRISOLARIANS ARE COMING. ScreenRant publicizes the release date for Bilibili’s animated adaptation of The Three-Body Problem. Beware spoilers.

The award-winning science fiction novel The Three-Body Problem has been adapted into an anime series by the Chinese online video and anime platform Bilibili, and the first episode is set to premiere on December 3, 2022.

…Normally, an adaptation is a testament to the popularity of the work in the public’s mind. This is particularly so with The Three-Body Problem. In addition to Bilibili, two other powerful film and television operations, namely Netflix and the Chinese tech giant Tencent have also produced their own live-action adaptations of the story. Fittingly, the world-famous story has its own version of the three-body problem….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1986 [By Cat Eldridge.] Peter S. Beagle’s The Folk of The Air

So let’s talk about one of the underappreciated novels by Mister Beagle, The Folk of The Air which was published thirty-six years ago by del Rey / Ballantine in hardcover.

It had a long, long gestation period as it took nearly twenty years from the time he started work on it until the time the final version was done. 

SPOILERS ARE HERE NOW. I SUGGEST MULLED WINE WOULD BE APPROPRIATE TO DRINK WHILE I DISCUSS THIS NOVEL? 

Joe Farrell, a musician who’s whiled away most of his post-college time in a sort of hippie style, travelling the country and avoiding any possibility of settling down, has returned at last to his Bay Area hometown of Avicenna, Beagle’s fictional version of Oakland.

Everything has changed — his closest friend is living with a woman who has immense magical powers in a house that keeps changing itself; another acquaintance is involved up with the League of Archaic Pleasures, a group that has taken to itself the events and manners of medieval chivalry, sometimes way, way too seriously; and he sees a teenage witch successfully summon back a centuries-old demon.

That Demon could tear asunder all that exists now and only his closest friend’s girlfriend can stop him but she’s gone walkout into a room in their house that nobody can find.

DID YOU LIKE THE MULLED WINE? I THINK THAT IT IS MOST EXCELLENT. 

I think it’s a most splendid novel, though Peter has reservations about it as he told me once that he considered revising it. He never said what about it that he’d change, just that he thought it could use some more work. Even SFReviews.net reported that saying “Beagle has never been fully satisfied with The Folk of the Air, and is currently reported to be working on a revision to be retitled Avicenna.” Mind you his Editor and closest friend tells me that she never heard of this existing either. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 23, 1908 Nelson S. Bond. Writer, Editor, Critic, and Member of First Fandom who also wrote for radio, television, and the stage, but whose published fiction work was mainly in the pulp magazines in the 1930s and 1940s. He’s remembered today mainly for his Lancelot Biggs series and for his Meg the Priestess tales, which introduced one of the first strong female characters in SF back in 1939. As a fan, he attended the very first Worldcon, and he famously advised Isaac Asimov, who kept arguing with fans about his works in the letter columns of magazines, “You’re a writer now, Isaac. Let the readers have their opinions.” He was named a Nebula Author Emeritus by SFWA in 1998. (Died 2006.) (JJ) 
  • Born November 23, 1951 David Rappaport. I remember him best as Randall, the leader of the gang of comically inept dwarves in Time Bandits who steal the map to the Universe. I’m reasonably sure that it’s the only thing he’ll be remembered for of a genre nature having looked up his other works and found them to be decidedly minor in nature. Most of them such as The Bride, a low budget horror film, were artistic and commercial disasters. It is said that his death by suicide in 1990 is one of the reasons cited by Gilliam for there not being a sequel to Time Bandits.  Well, now there is as Apple TB with the cooperation of Gilliam, there will Time Bandits series that Taika Waititi will co-write with Gilliam and direct, since it’ll shield in New Zealand. (Died 1990.)
  • Born November 23, 1966 Michelle Gomez, 56. Best known genre role is Missy, a female version of The Master on Doctor Who from 2014 to 2017, for which she was nominated for the 2016 BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress. I admit having grown up with Roger Delgado as The Master so later performers playing this role took a bit of getting used but she made a fine one. She is also Mary Wardwell in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. She plays Talia Bauerin in Highlander: The Raven which apparently is a very short-live spinoff from the Highlander series. And she shows up in the Gotham series for two episodes simply as The Lady. She is now playing Madame Rouge on the Doom Patrol.
  • Born November 23, 1992 Miley Cyrus. She’s had three genre appearances, each ten years apart. She was in Big Fish as the eight-year-old Ruthie, she was the voice of Penny in Bolt and she voiced Mainframe on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. And there’s the matter of A Very Murray Christmas which is at least genre adjacent…

(11) SEEN THIS IN YOUR DICTIONARY? FilmSchoolRejects introduces a video about “The Existential Comforts of Cyberpunk”.

…There isn’t a succinct definition of cyberpunk. Its origins can be traced back to the late 1960s and the New Wave sci-fi movement, with writers like J.G. Ballard, William Gibson, and Harlan Ellison. As a sci-fi sub-genre, cyberpunk is keenly interested in speculative technology and urban dystopias; which together provide fertile breeding grounds for vice, drugs, nefarious corporations, corruption, and social upheaval.

…I can think of a lot of ways to describe how cyberpunk worlds make me feel (sad, artificial, and lonely spring to mind). But “comforting” isn’t one of them. The following video essay argues that, if you tilt your head the right way, cyberpunk cities offer a kind of relief. Somewhere, on the other side of all that existential anxiety and angst … there’s a sense of bliss and relief. Amidst all the urban bustle and the sea of cables, you don’t mean a thing. Thank god….

(12) FAKING IT IS MAKING IT. Is artificial intelligence equal to the challenge of writing about Timothy the Talking Cat? Find out in Camestros Felapton’s post “AI-generated writing”.

…I’ve experimented with MidJourney to make images but how is the world of AI-generated text going? I’m trying out the LEX, a cross between a Google docs wordprocessor and an AI text generator….

(13) FIRST FIVE. Joe Stech of Compelling Science Fiction is ready to tell you his picks for the top science fiction short stories published in August.

These are the top 5 out of the 26 stories I read. August was a lighter month than July because some of the bimonthlies aren’t out in August…

“Polly and (Not) Charles Conquer the Solar System” by Carrie Vaughn is the winner.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. While Camille DeAngelis was in LA for a screening of Bones and All, the film adaptation of her vegan subtext cannibal novel, she and Henry Lien made this video about why they love being vegan and how Henry has a magical fridge: “Henry Lien and the Narnia Fridge”.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/19/22 The Music Slan

Illo by Teddy Harvia

(1) UNCLE HUGO’S NEWS. Don Blyly’s latest email says a sign for Uncle Hugo’s has finally been installed on the west side of the building. He hopes the new awnings will be installed on the front of the building within the next few weeks, replacing the ones with the old tenant’s name.

Blyly also pointed out that a couple of the local TV stations have done reports on the Uncles re-opening. “You can see the new building, Ecko acting as store dog, and me explaining things to the camera.”

Minneapolis TV station KARE 11 has the text on its website, and the video on YouTube: “The Uncles are back: After burning to the ground, beloved Minneapolis bookstores find new home”.

“I had more and more people who were saying, ‘Please, please reopen. We can’t find anything like what you were offering,'” Blyly said.

Blyly originally opened Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore in 1974. While attending law school and reading constitutional law in the library, Blyly decided he needed something fun to do as a pastime. He had about $1,500 in student loan money left and decided to use it to open a bookstore.

After opening Uncle Hugo’s, customers came to him requesting the same type of concept but for mysteries. When Blyly couldn’t find anyone interested in doing it, he opened Uncle Edgar’s Mystery Bookstore at a separate location in 1980.

Eventually, both bookstores were housed in the same building off of Chicago Avenue. That remained the Uncles’ home until the building burned down in the early morning hours of May 30, 2020.

Here’s the report aired by Minneapolis CBS affiliate WCCO: “Beloved sci-fi bookstore, in business since the ’70s, reopens”.

(2) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB FUNDRAISER. Matt Kressel says the “Fantastic Fiction reading series at the KGB Bar” Gofundme needs a push to get over the finish line.

Thank you to all those who’ve donated so far! We’re more than two-thirds of the way to our goal of funding the series for three more years! We have just under $2,000 left to go. Can you help us reach our goal this week?

(3) SEAT OF FAME. Richard Wilhelm offers Facebook readers the opportunity to claim a piece of history.

Is anyone interested in owning a piece (actually, three pieces) of Science Fiction history? We have a couch and two matching chairs to give away to someone. They are a set from the 30s; overstuffed with mohair upholstery and carved wood arms. They were owned by my folks, authors Kate Wilhelm and Damon Knight, since the 1960s, and just about every author you’ve heard of from the realm of Science/Speculative Fiction mid-century forward, has sat in these at one time or another. Yes, there’s a caveat… They all need TLC to bring them back to excellent condition. Plus, you’d need to pick them up in North Portland.

(4) DISNEY V. FRANCE. The Guardian explains why Disney is resisting France’s protective regulations. “Disney threatens to bypass French cinemas unless release rules are relaxed”.

Disney is to release Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in French cinemas next month but has warned that future blockbusters may go straight to its streaming service, Disney+, unless France relaxes film distribution rules….

…Earlier this year, Disney took a stance against the French “windowing” system, which is designed to protect its industry and national TV industries, sending the animated action adventure Strange World straight to Disney+.

Films that are not released in French cinemas are not subject to the restrictive windowing regulations. In January, French film authorities shortened the window between film release and availability on subscription streaming services to 15 months but Disney was not a signatory of the new deal.

Disney said it had decided to push ahead with the cinema release of the Black Panther sequel because the French authorities have acknowledged that the windowing system “needs to be modernised”….

(5) EMIGRATING TO MARS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is from an interview with Elon Musk by Financial Times editor Roula Khalaf, behind a paywall in the October 8 Financial Times.  X is Elon Musk’s son.

Musk’s biggest worry is the preservation of life beyond Earth.  His solution is to populate Mars. ‘Something will happen to Earth eventually, it’s just a question of time.  Eventually the sun will expand and destroy all life on Earth, so we do need to move at some point, or at least be a multi-planet species,’ he says.  ‘You have to ask the question:  do we want to be a space-flying civilisation and a multi-planet species or not?’  I’m not sure what i think but Musk is emphatic.  ‘It’s a question of what percentage of resources we should devote to such an endeavour?  I think if you say 1 per cent of resources, that’s probably a reasonable amount.

Would Musk himself join the pioneering colony on Mars? ‘Especially if I’m growing old, I’ll do it.  Why not?’ he says.  But how useful would he be to Mars if he’s too old?  ‘I think there’s some non-trivial chance of dying, so I’d prefer to take that change hen I’m a bit older, and saw my kids grow up.  Rather than right now, when little X is only two-and-a-half.  I think he’d miss me.’

(6) HANDMADE BY MARTIANS. Meanwhile, the Guardian observes artists who are exploring what life might be like if a human colony was established on Mars. “An other-worldly art project: the artists furnishing a Martian house”.

There is a “Martian guitar” manufactured out of recycled pieces of wood and metal with an amp fashioned from a coffee pot. A surprisingly comfortable chair, plus rug and curtains, have been created out of the sort of parachute material a Mars landing craft may have used.

The bedding in the sleeping pods has been decorated with dyes from plants, while a “mist shower” has been made using bits of hose and garden irrigation sprays.

Over the last 10 weeks, the people of Bristol have been taking part in an other-worldly art project – to furnish a “Martian house” that materialised, golden and gleaming, on the harbour-side in Bristol during the summer only using recycled and repurposed objects….

(7) THE PLANET WITH PUMPKINS. The previous two items perhaps set the mood for us to link to Library of America’s “Story of the Week”, Ray Bradbury’s “The Emissary”. It’s a Halloween tale, not a Mars story, so the segue isn’t completely smooooth.  Here’s an excerpt from the introduction.  

“Halloweens I have always considered wilder and richer and more important than even Christmas morn,” Ray Bradbury wrote in an article for the October 1975 issue of Reader’s Digest. “1928 was one of the prime Halloween years. Everything that was grandest came to a special climax that autumn.”

Ray Bradbury was eight years old that year, and his beloved Aunt Neva, 19 years old and recently graduated from high school, owned a Model-A Ford. Sometime around October 20, he recalls in his essay, she said to Ray, “It’s coming fast. Let’s make plans.” She drove him and his brother, Skip, around the countryside to collect pumpkins, corn sheaves, and other decorations to embellish their grandparents’ house for the upcoming festivities. “Then, everything set and placed and ready, you run out late from house to house to make certain-sure that each boy-ghost remembers, that each girl-become-witch will be there.” The big night arrived . . . and then it was over.

“365 darn days until Halloween again. What if I die, waiting?” Ray complained.

“Why, then,” Skip responded, “you’ll be Halloween. Dead people are Halloween.”

(8) STAND BY FOR SCIENCE FICTION IN REAL LIFE. “Next pandemic may come from melting glaciers, new data shows” – the Guardian has the story.

The next pandemic may come not from bats or birds but from matter in melting ice, according to new data.

Genetic analysis of soil and lake sediments from Lake Hazen, the largest high Arctic freshwater lake in the world, suggests the risk of viral spillover – where a virus infects a new host for the first time – may be higher close to melting glaciers.

The findings imply that as global temperatures rise owing to climate change, it becomes more likely that viruses and bacteria locked up in glaciers and permafrost could reawaken and infect local wildlife, particularly as their range also shifts closer to the poles.

For instance, in 2016 an outbreak of anthrax in northern Siberia that killed a child and infected at least seven other people was attributed to a heatwave that melted permafrost and exposed an infected reindeer carcass. Before this, the last outbreak in the region had been in 1941.

To better understand the risk posed by frozen viruses, Dr Stéphane Aris-Brosou and his colleagues at the University of Ottawa in Canada collected soil and sediment samples from Lake Hazen, close to where small, medium and large amounts of meltwater from local glaciers flowed in….

(9) EDGAR ALLAN POE NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is a group that is trying to create a national theater for Poe’s works and is having a performance as a fundraiser in Baltimore. They have a trailer! “Poe’s Blood, Sweat & Fears”.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1990 [By Cat Eldridge.] Ray Bradbury Theater’s “And the Moon Be Still as Bright” (1990)

It was so cold when they first came from the rocket into the night that Spender began to gather the dry Martian wood and build a small fire. He didn’t say anything about a celebration; he merely gathered the wood, set fire to it, and watched it burn.  — opening words of “And the Moon Be Still as Bright”

Ahhhh Bradbury. So have I mentioned that I’m madly in love with the fiction that he wrote? Well I am. Damn great stuff it is. And he himself was a wonderful individual as well.

So this Scroll we’re looking at the Ray Bradbury Theater’s production of “And the Moon Be Still as Bright” thirty-two years ago. It was first published in Thrilling Wonder Stories in the June 1948 issue where it would’ve cost you twenty cents, and three dollars today adjusted for inflation, still a bargain I’d say. It would become part of The Martian Chronicles when that was first published by Doubleday two years later. It was the lead story there. 

OK SPOILERS LIKE AUTUMN LEAVES ABOUND NOW. 

This is the third of the Mars expeditions and they find nothing but leaves. Leaves that are actually the ashes of the Martins all killed by a human disease. One member of the expedition is so outraged by this as he thinks that he can foresee how humanity and its culture will supplant all which remains of Mars.

He being an archaeologist vows to become a Martian himself so he goes off to a nearby town to study what he thinks is Martian culture and wage a one-man war against humanity. Of course the only humans are his fellow crew whose defilement of Mars he hates. He kills several when he returns to them. 

Studying the other is a long passion in archaeology and anthropology as Le Guin as noted more than once. It’s interesting to Bradbury use it here in telling a story. And yes it often ends this badly.

END OF SPOILERS. JOIN ME BY THE FIRE FOR SOME MULLED CIDER. 

David Carridine as Spender is absolutely perfect here though the rest of the cast are really little than barely sketched out. The production values are ok but it really didn’t convince me that they were anywhere but on a backlot in California. But then Star Trek with a much higher budget didn’t either. 

Look I think Bradbury is one of the great writers and be forewarned that this is one of his more brutal undertakings from start to finish. It’s not one of his comfortable stories at all. 

Want to watch it? You’re spoiled for streaming choices as it is on Amazon, Freevee, Peacock, Pluto and Vudu which might well be a record. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 19, 1921 George Nader. In 1953, he was Roy, the leading man in Robot Monster (a.k.a. Monster from Mars and Monsters from the Moon) acknowledged by him and others to be the one of the worst SF films ever made. He showed up in some decidedly low budget other SF films such as The Human DuplicatorsBeyond Atlantis and The Great Space Adventure. Note: contrary to popular belief, Robot Monster is not in the public domain. This movie is under active copyright held by Wade Williams Distribution. (Died 2002.)
  • Born October 19, 1940 Michael Gambon, 82. Actor of Stage and Screen from Ireland who is best known to genre fans as Professor Albus Dumbledore from the Hugo-nominated Harry Potter films (a role he picked up after the passing of Richard Harris, who played the character in the first two films). He also had roles in Toys (for which he received a Saturn nomination), Mary ReillySleepy Hollow, and the Hugo finalist Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. He has had guest roles in episodes of The Jim Henson HourDoctor Who, and Tales of the Unexpected, and played an acerbic storyteller and possibly tomb robber in Jim Henson’s The Storyteller. He has also done voice roles in animated features including Fantastic Mr. FoxPaddington, and The Wind in the Willows, in which he voiced very nicely The Badger. 
  • Born October 19, 1943 L.E. Modesitt, Jr., 79. Writer of more than 70 novels and 10 different series, the best known of which is his fantasy series The Saga of Recluce. He has been Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, including a World Fantasy Convention. He won a Neffy for his Endgames novel, and a Utah Speculative Fiction Award for his Archform: Beauty novel. 
  • Born October 19, 1943 Peter Weston. Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Fan from England who founded the Birmingham Science Fiction Group (the longest-lived fan group in the U.K.), and chaired several conventions, including the 1979 Worldcon. His fanzines Zenith and Speculation received 8 Hugo nominations, and his memoir With Stars in My Eyes: My Adventures in British Fandom was a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Related Book. He was the TAFF delegate in 1974, was Guest of Honor at several conventions, was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the long-running fanzine convention Corflu, and received the Doc Weir Award (the UK Natcon’s Life Achievement Award). (Died 2017.) (JJ)
  • Born October 19, 1945 John Lithgow, 77. He enters SF fame as Dr. Emilio Lizardo / Lord John Whorfin in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. He’ll later be in Santa Claus: The MovieHarry and the HendersonsShrekRise of the Planet of the ApesInterstellar and the remake of Pet Sematary. Oh, and he voiced The White Rabbit on the Once Upon a Time in Wonderland series! He of course is Dick Solomon in 3rd Rock from the Sun.  And for true genre creds, he voiced the character of Yoda in the NPR adaptations of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
  • Born October 19, 1946 Philip Pullman, 76. I’ll confess that I like his Sally Lockhart mysteries, both the original versions and the Billy Piper-led series, far more than I enjoy the Dark Materials series as there’s a freshness and imagination at work there I don’t see in the latter. Oh, some of the latter is quite good — I quite enjoyed Lyra’s Oxford and Once Upon a Time in The North as the shortness of them works in their favor.
  • Born October 19, 1948 Jerry Kaufman, 74. Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Fan who, while in Australia as the DUFF delegate, created a Seattle bid for the Australian Natcon which actually won the bid (temporarily, for a year, before it was overturned and officially awarded to Adelaide). He was editor of, and contributor to, numerous apazines and fanzines, two of which received Hugo nominations. With Donald Keller, he founded and ran Serconia Press, which published criticism and memoirs of the SF field. He served on the Board of Directors of the Clarion West Writers Workshop and served as Jurist for the James Tiptree, Jr., Memorial Award. He has been Fan Guest of Honor at several conventions, including a Westercon. (JJ) 
  • Born October 19, 1990 Ciana Renee, 32. Her most known genre role is as Kendra Saunders / Hawkgirl on Legends of Tomorrow and related Arrowverse series. She also showed up on The Big Bang Theory as Sunny Morrow in “The Conjugal Configuration”, and she played The Witch in the theatrical production of Daniel Wallace’s Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions.  She was also Elsa in the theatrical production of Frozen.

(12) THE QUEER ANTICAPITALIST AFROFUTURIST HIP HOP MUSICAL EXTRAVAGANZA YOU’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Look, I’ll admit it, I’m full-on campaigning to see Neptune Frost get shortlisted for a Hugo Award. It’s a supremely complex, layered, and challenging piece of cinema. It tackles a wide variety of social justice issues that need to be addressed within fandom (human rights, exploitation, the marginalization of the Global South). And it is the product of creative voices who have all-too-often been silenced in fandom and in broader discourse. 

Put bluntly, this isn’t the feel-good Hollywood corporate refined product that often ends up on awards ballots. This is a raw anarchic kaleidoscope of narrative art that takes work to understand and appreciate. I’ve seen it three times, and keep finding new layers to appreciate. Like, I’m still mentally chewing on the line “To imagine hell is a privilege.”

Honestly, it’s kind of great.

The four of us from my blogging group who watched it all argued about the content for most of a year before being able to craft a review: “A Unanimous Gold Mine Of Subtext” at the Hugo Book Club Blog.

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like if Sun Ra and Samuel R. Delany had tried to make The Matrix, the answer is something like Neptune Frost….

(13) NIGHTMARE AT 351,000 FEET. This excerpt from Shat’s memoir discusses his trip into space aboard Blue Origin. “William Shatner: My Trip to Space Filled Me With Sadness” in Variety.

So, I went to space.

Our group, consisting of me, tech mogul Glen de Vries, Blue Origin Vice President and former NASA International Space Station flight controller Audrey Powers, and former NASA engineer Dr. Chris Boshuizen, had done various simulations and training courses to prepare, but you can only prepare so much for a trip out of Earth’s atmosphere! As if sensing that feeling in our group, the ground crew kept reassuring us along the way. “Everything’s going to be fine. Don’t worry about anything. It’s all okay.” Sure, easy for them to say, I thought. They get to stay here on the ground.During our preparation, we had gone up eleven flights of the gantry to see what it would be like when the rocket was there. We were then escorted to a thick cement room with oxygen tanks. “What’s this room for?” I asked casually.

“Oh, you guys will rush in here if the rocket explodes,” a Blue Origin fellow responded just as casually.

Uh-huh. A safe room. Eleven stories up. In case the rocket explodes.

Well, at least they’ve thought of it….

(14) IMMERSIVE MIYAZAKI. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, three reporters led by Michelle Ye Hee Lee visit the Studio Ghibli theme park which has just opened. “We visited Studio Ghibli’s long-awaited theme park. It’s a sensory delight.”

… Don’t expect rides or human-sized characters posing for photos. The vision for the 494-acre park is unique to the vision of Hayao Miyazaki, the studio’s 81-year-old co-founder, and is an homage to his legacy as a groundbreaking animator and creator. (The idea came about in 2017 after Miyazaki made what seemed to be his final retirement announcement, though he is now working again.)

The result is believed to be Japan’s first “hybrid park,” built around an existing public space to minimize harm to the environment. Mindful of sustainability, its creators sourced as many materials as possible locally. The main attraction — Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse — is converted from an indoor pool attached to an indoor skating rink.

As with Ghibli films, you cannot help but appreciate the nature surrounding you. It’s designed so that you feel like you are living in an actual Ghibli world, rather than visiting a fantasy. The result: a sensory overload that is peaceful at the same time….

(15) NAME THAT DECADE. I was looking at a fanzine recently added to the archives at Fanac.org. Can you guess the decade when this evergreen argument was uttered?

Why do you consider that those readers of science fiction who might vote if they didn’t have to join the Worldcon to do so would add so much to the validity of the voting? Like most award contests (though not all of them) the HUGO election is a popularity contest, and all sorts of factors come into play to influence the voters — including when he gets around to voting, what his friends are touting, and even what particular temperament he is in that morning — rather than merely the literary merit of the book under discussion. So the addition of one more pack of popularity selectors is not going to raise the quality very much. Might as well give the con members the voting privilege so they’ll help the con in its early money-raising stages.

It comes from Bruce Pelz’ Rache 6 published in March 1962.

(16) ON THE TUBE IN BRITAIN. Some all-time classics included here.“From the Triffids to Blake’s 7 and Ghostwatch: the BBC’s greatest cult classics”. The Guardian makes its picks.

The Beeb has seemingly spent a century trying to scar the nation. Here are its most influential – and most terrifying – cult hits so far.

R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) (1927 on radio, 1938 on TV)

Sadly nothing survives of either production beyond the listings in the Radio Times, but in February 1938 an excerpt of Karel Čapek’s play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) was broadcast on the BBC’s fledgling television service. The play gave the English language the word “robot” and is widely credited as the first ever piece of television science-fiction. The BBC made a radio version in 1927, and would remake the play several times over the years in both mediums, including in 2022.

(17) LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS MEN. Netflix dropped a vignette in which Wednesday stars Jenna Ortega, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and showrunners Alfred Gough and Miles Millar discuss the creative genius that Tim Burton brings to the series.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: She-Hulk, Attorney-At Law,” the Screen Junkies say that She-Hulk “fights the half of humanity Thanos forgot to worry about — men,” including “dating-App dinguses” who think “How much do you dead lift?” is a good line for picking up She-Hulk. The show “isn’t as bad as the Twitter-bashers made it out to be, but isn’t good enough to defend.” But after that statement, Epic Voice Guy faces his greatest foe — the YouTube algorithm!

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Olav Rokne, Jeffrey Smith, Steven French, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 9/8/22 Bright Scrolls, Big Pixels

(1) CHICON 8 COVID UPDATE. The Chicon 8 committee has notified attending members that another 19 people present at the 2022 Worldcon last weekend have tested positive for Covid. (The first email listed 8 cases.)

Where known, it includes information about the locations and times that the people were before they tested positive. Some have allowed Chicon 8 to release their names.

(2) 1946: ONCE MORE, WITH FEELING! First Fandom Experience is taking a victory lap today: “1946 Project Wrap-Up: We Had Fun!”

During Chicon 8, First Fandom Experience had the privilege of organizing the 1946 Project. The program track encompassed sixteen panels and presentations….

…To inform our program, we published a series of blog posts with historical context on SFF and fandom in 1940:

The last one, about Ray Bradbury, also posted today.

In 1946, Ray Bradbury — then age 26 — saw seventeen of his stories in print. His tales appeared in ten different professional magazines. Six were genre pulps. Four were mainstream “slicks.”…

(3) TROUBLE WITH REDBUBBLE. The Glasgow 2024 Worldcon announced yesterday their Redbubble merchandisde account has been suspended.

We’ve just been made aware that our Redbubble account has been suspended.

We are investigating this at the moment and thank you in advance for your patience.

It’s important to us that our art and artists are recognised and we would ask that you only buy Glasgow 2024 merchandise from our official accounts.

The same thing happened to Chicon 8, and their account is still down.

Ron Oakes wrote a good commentary about this problem on Facebook. 

…I am not up on the exact reason that Redbubble has given for the suspension, but comments surrounding the announcements have indicated that both of these cases have involved having the artwork that the conventions had licensed from the artists and then to Redbubble being stolen and used to produce knock-off convention merchandise….

…As fans, please ensure that you get your convention merchandise from a genuine source. This may not always be the convention, as some conventions allow other vendors to utilize their name on some merchandise – usually only at the event. And generally, make sure that any artwork you buy online comes from the actual artist or license holder.

Herman Ellingsen commented there:

…Redbubble do absolutely nothing to stop people from stealing art on their page.

If they would reduce the quality of the artwork on their web page, and/or add watermarks, and/or use web codes that makes it difficult to download the artwork, stealing artwork on redbubble would be more difficult….

(4) THE MAN FROM UNCLE’S. Minneapolis CBS affiliate WCCO reports that Uncle Hugo’s is back: “Beloved sci-fi bookstore, established in ’70s, reopens after burning down during unrest”. There’s a 2-minute clip of the aired news report at the link.

…Blyly almost called it quits, but it was the regulars who convinced him to start over.

Insurance money from the fire, as well as selling books online during the pandemic, went a long way toward allowing Blyly to reopen.

It took him 18 months to find his new location, a building one block from what was the Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct headquarters, and across the street from Moon Palace Books.

“Probably 95% of the used books here on the shelves are from my own personal collection,” Blyly said…

(5) ANOTHER SIDE OF DAW. Reviews of the documentary Casa Susanna intersect with the life of science fiction figure Donald A. Wollheim: ” … Betsy Wollheim, the daughter of science-fiction writer Donald, who recounts her discovery after his death of his life as a cross-dresser. (Donald’s experience is also recounted via excerpts from a book he wrote under a pseudonym, A Year Among The Girls.)”

Yahoo! — “’Casa Susanna’ Review: A Lost Chapter of Queer History Comes to Life”.

In the tireless drive toward progress, it’s easy to forget the past. When it comes to queer history, discrimination and fear of persecution discouraged, if not actively erased, the documenting of queer life. Queer historians have had to fight tooth and nail to reclaim countless writers, artists, and musicians, even if they lived quite openly during their lifetimes. After all, if Emily Dickinson could write her “hot and feverish” letters to Susan without academia recognizing her queerness until recently, what chance was there for everyday queer people of yore?

Brilliantly, a nearly lost chapter of queer history has been delicately excavated in “Casa Susanna,” a sumptuous documentary about an oasis where trans women and crossdressing men found community throughout the 1950s and ’60s…. 

…The film gently navigates the shifting mores and language around gender expansive identities, allowing the older trans women to self-identify and using their language as a guidepost. It’s not too often you hear the words crossdresser, transvestite, and transsexual these days, but it only adds to the film’s appeal as a rare time capsule. Fascinatingly, Casa Susanna was strictly for “straight men,” and their wives often accompanied them on their weekends upstate. The fear of being outed as gay followed them, creating strict divides….

Screen Daily: “’Casa Susanna’: Venice Review”.

…Memories are placed front and centre as the director approaches the story of Casa Susanna — an unassuming house in New York’s Catskills where men could freely adopt a female identity — from the perspective of some of those who found refuge there or whose lives were touched by extension. The power of recollection is evident from the start as octogenarian Katherine Cummings makes a pilgrimage back to the Catskills and begins to tell her story with the warmth of memory infusing every word. Her journey not only includes a ship voyage from Australia to North America but a decades-long interrogation of her own identity that was helped by the friendships she found at Casa Susanna.

Joining her is Diana Merry-Shapiro, who crossed paths with Katherine at Casa Susanna while on her own journey from a Lutheran upbringing to gender-affirmation surgery, and Betsy Wollheim, the daughter of science-fiction writer Donald, who recounts her discovery after his death of his life as a cross-dresser. (Donald’s experience is also recounted via excerpts from a book he wrote under a pseudonym, A Year Among The Girls.)…. 

… There’s a fair bit of myth-busting here, as while some might expect flamboyant drag, home video from the Casa shows how those who visited wanted to emulate upper-middle-class feminine elegance. There’s also a real sense of the fear people like Betsy’s father had about their ”secret” getting out. Lifshitz takes time to explore these stories, letting conversations or remembrances flow freely. They run from joy at acceptance so profound it is likely to move you to tears, to sadness at the impact on Donald’s daughter of what seems to have been unresolved unhappiness, as the story of what happened to the Casa and its owners is also gradually revealed….

(6) NERFS IN SPACE. Gizmodo makes sure we know “Hasbro’s Next Wild Nerf Gun Is a Star Trek Phaser”.

Hasbro’s Nerf “LMTD” crossover has given us foam dart versions of everything from the Aliens pulse rifle to The Mandalorian’s rifle—and now it’s boldly going into a very peculiar collaboration with Star Trek.

Hasbro has revealed that its next project in the crossover lineup is a Star Trek mashup to give us not one, but two of the franchise’s most iconic hand-held weapons—the Starfleet Type 3 (that’s the phaser rifle) and Type 2 (the standard phaser seen in TNGDS9, and Voyager) phasers….

(7) MEMORY LANE.  

1973 [By Cat Eldridge.] All of you I suspect remember the Ray Walston fronted My Favorite Martian series that lasted three seasons on CBS for one hundred and seven episodes. But likely, you may have forgotten that forty-nine years ago that there was an animated series called My Favorite Martians (noted the “s”) that lasted a wee bit shorter, well a lot shorter as CBS pulled it after just sixteen episodes.

That might have had something to do with the fact that Ray Walston refused to participate in it as the money offered him was quite appalling. So they got Jonathan Harris of Lost in Space fame to do his role. And no, Bill Bixby wasn’t around either for similar reasons.

Howard Morris voiced Tim O’Hara, Detective Brennan and Andromeda. Jane Webb did Katy O’Hara and Lorelei Brown.

It did poorly in ratings and was quickly cancelled. The series used a number of scripts from what would have been season four of the live series. Jack Chertok Television co-owned it, with the Chertok company retaining all merchandising rights to the show. Jack Chertok Television had developed My Favorite Martian.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 8, 1911 Byron Morrow. He’s the first original Trek Admiral appearing as an Admiral in two episodes, Admiral Komack, in “Amok Time” and as Admiral Westervliet “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky”.  Other genre appearances include Cyborg 2087Mission Impossible, Colossus: The Forbin ProjectPanic in Year Zero!The Resurrection of Zachary Wheeler, Rollerball and Fantasy Island. (Died 2006.)
  • Born September 8, 1925 Peter Sellers. Chief Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther films which are genre. Of course, he had the tour de force acting experience of being Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley and Dr. Strangelove in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. He also took multiple roles (even the Queen) in The Mouse That Roared. Amusingly he was involved many folk tale productions in various mediums (film, radio, stage) including Cinderella, Tom ThumbMother Goose and Jack and The Beanstalk. (Died 1980.)
  • Born September 8, 1945 Willard Huyck, 77. He’s got a long relationship with Lucas first writing American Graffiti and being the script doctor on Star Wars before writing Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. And he was the writer and director on Howard the Duck which, yes, is a Lucasfilm. It’s the lowest ever production scored on Rotten Tomatoes by Lucasfilm production ever did at 15% followed by Radioland Murders, the last script he’d write for Lucasfilm which would be a not quite so dismal twenty four percent.
  • Born September 8, 1937 Archie Goodwin. Comics writer and editor with a very long career. He was the writer and editor of the horror Creepy and Eerie anthologies, the first writer on the Iron Man series, wrote comic book adaptations for Marvel of the two Star Wars sequels and edited the Star Wars line for them. For DC, he edited Starman which Robinson said he was inspiration for. (Died 1998.)
  • Born September 8, 1948 Michael Hague, 74. I’m very fond of East of the Sun and West of the Moon retold by him and his wife Kathleen. Not to be missed are his Wind in The Willows and The Hobbit which are both lovely takes on those tales. 
  • Born September 8, 1952 Linda D. Addison, 70. First Black winner of the Stoker Award which she has won five times. Amazingly, the first two awards were for her poetry collections Consumed, Reduced to Beautiful Grey Ashes and Being Full of Light, Insubstantial. Indeed all five of her Awards were to be for poetry collections. She also is the author of the story “Shadow Dreams”, published in the Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda anthology.
  • Born September 8, 1954 Mark Lindsay Chapman, 68. Sorry DCU but the best Swamp Thing series was done nearly thirty years ago and starred the late Dick Durock as Swamp Thing and this actor as his chief antagonist, Dr. Anton Arcane. Short on CGI which wasn’t really needed when the scripts were brilliant. Chapman has also shown up in Poltergeist: The LegacyThe New Adventures of SupermanThe Langoliers and Max Headroom to name a few of his genre appearances.
  • Born September 8, 1966 Gordon Van Gelder, 56. From 1997 until 2014, he was editor and later publisher (which he still is) of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, for which he was awarded twice, and quite well deserved they were, the Hugo for Best Editor Short Form. He was also a managing editor of The New York Review of Science Fiction from 1988 to 1993, for which he was nominated for the Hugo a number of times. 
  • Born September 8, 1975 C. Robert Cargill, 47. He, along with Scott Derrickson and Jon Spaihts, worked on the script for Doctor Strange. More intriguingly they’re writing the script for The Outer Limits, a movie based on the television show. The film, produced by MGM, will be adapted from just the “Demon with a Glass Hand” episode begging the question of what they’re writing for a script given that Ellison did write the Writers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Script for a Television Anthology script. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frank and Ernest say Robin Hood is getting some questionable applicants to work with him.

(10) MAGICALLY DELICIOUS? [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I saw this in the supermarket.  But I didn’t buy it! “Kellogg’s Introduces New Disney Hocus Pocus 2 Cereal” at Chew Boom.

(11) THE PLANE OF JARS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, John Kelly discusses a contest Burma-Shave ran in 1958 where they offered a free trip to Mars for anyone who turned in 900 bottles of the stuff and what they did when Arliss French actually did it. “Remembering the grocer who convinced Burma-Shave to send him to ‘Mars’”. Registration is required to read the full article there, however, Neatorama covered it about a decade ago:

…The company also posted two promotional offers on their signs; the first one (“Free offer! Free offer! / Rip a fender off your car / mail it in / for a half-pound jar / Burma-Shave”) resulted in some actual fenders being mailed to the company, which made good on its promise.  The second promotion (in the title of this post) stimulated the imagination of Arliss French in Appleton, Wisconsin.

French managed the town’s Red Owl supermarket and offered to pay customers 15 cents for every empty Burma Shave jar they brought in. He ran a full-page ad in the paper reading, “Send Frenchie to Mars.” As the empties accumulated in his store, he telegraphed the company, “Please advise where to ship the jars.”

The folks at Burma Shave scrambled to avoid embarrassment. Thinking he would decline, they offered to send him to the village of Moers, Germany (which they insisted was pronounced, “Mars”) if he would wear a space suit for the trip. He agreed.

French and his wife departed New York at the company’s expense on Dec. 2, 1958. He wore a football helmet and a silver costume emblazoned with the Red Owl logo. When he arrived in Moers two days later, all 78 residents turned out to greet him….

(12) SECOND SLICE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I regard Knives Out as fandom-adjacent so here is the sequel. “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”.

(13) SLITHER IN. [Item by Michael Toman.] Does the world (or your automobile?) need another new bumper sticker? “I BRAKE FOR VENOMOUS SNAKES”.  From MSN.com: “Officials Close Illinois Road for Mass Migration of Venomous Snakes”.

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is closing three miles of a road in southern Illinois this September and October due to heavy traffic…of snakes. The closure is meant to protect snakes undertaking a biannual migration in the Shawnee National Forest, 90 miles southeast of St. Louis.

…Meanwhile, tourists travel from around the country to observe and photograph the phenomenon. “You’ll see a surprising number of out-of-state license plates,” Vucovich said. He advises that visitors drive carefully. But if they venture to where the snake traffic is thickest—typically along a 2.7-mile stretch of Great River Road—they’ll have to walk carefully because that section of the road will be closed to motorized vehicles. “Forest Road 345 is the number,” said Vukovich. “Everybody knows it as Snake Road. It’s just a great place to come watch snakes.”…

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

Uncle Hugo’s and Signs of the Times

Copyright © David Dyer-Bennet

The soft reopening of Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s Bookstores in Minneapolis has been a success, and Don Blyly says in his latest “How’s Business?” newsletter that following Labor Day the stores will begin keeping their regular hours.

We’ve been open to the public since August 14 at 2716 E. 31st St., but at reduced hours, and we have been accepting donations of books but have not been buying used books.  About 90% of the new books we ordered have arrived, but lots of them have gone up in price over the last 2 years.  …The day after Labor Day we will go to our regular hours of 10 am to 6 pm Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 pm Sundays. 

Blyly also told readers what used books he will and won’t be interested in buying.

We will also start buying used books, but with certain exceptions.    We will not be buying magazines (and probably never will, lacking space to display them) .  We will not be buying mystery hardcovers or trade paperbacks (having about 150 cases of donated mystery hardcovers and trade paperbacks in the basement and not enough time yet to start running them through the computer) but we will eventually resume buying them after we figure out what we already own.

Because the new store only has about 80% of the retail space of the old store, we are not going to buy certain books that did not sell well the last few years at the old store, such as paranormal romances (urban fantasy yes, paranormal romance no, even though there is sometimes a slim difference between the categories), men’s action adventure series (Mack Bolen, Able Team, Executioner, etc.), submarine adventure novels, and we’ll pass on a lot of true crime books.           

And he explained why there isn’t a new sign on the building yet.

Some people have complained that they couldn’t find us, often calling from their car which was in front of the store.  Several have suggested that we needed a sign (as if I would not have thought of that on my own), so let me explain what has been going on.  Several months ago I hired the sign painter who last painted the sign at the old location, since it still looked very good 20 years later.  He expected to be able to do the sign around the end of July.   

Then I heard about a grant that would pay about 25% of the cost of signage, so I applied for the grant.  I was told that no work could be done until the grant was approved and the final paperwork signed.  It took longer than I expected for grant to be approved, but eventually I was able to tell the sign painter that he could start work.  He had me send him a check for half the cost so that he could buy the paint and other supplies.  After he got the check and went to buy supplies, he sent me an e-mail that he had just come down with covid, and this was obviously going to delay things. I looked into changing the black awnings for Glass Endeavors on the front of the store, and was told that it would be a big mistake to try to cover over the old painting on the old canvas.   

It would be far better to get new awnings with the awning company printing the Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s signage on new canvas, but the best way to do that would be for the sign painter to send computer files to the awning company for them to print from–but he can’t do that until he finishes the new sign.  I hope that sometime in September the new Uncles sign will be on the west wall and sometime in October the new awnings will be installed.    Until then, look for the Glass Endeavors signage to find the Uncles.

Copyright © David Dyer-Bennet

Uncle Hugo’s Is Back!

Don Blyly’s Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s Bookstores held a successful soft opening of their new location at 2716 E. 31st St. in Minneapolis on August 14.

David Dyer-Bennet took photos and shared them on Facebook. He has generously given permission for File 770 to repost them.

Blyly Plans August 14 Opening for New Uncle Hugo’s Location

Don Blyly readies the new Uncle Hugo’s for business. Photo (c) by Paul Weimer.

At Uncle Hugo’s Imagination stock’d corners, place
Your books, angels, and arise, arise
From death, those numberless infinities
Of stories, and to your scattered bookshelves go…

– Jeff Warner, with apologies to John Donne.

Don Blyly told readers in the August 9 edition of his “How’s Business” newsletter that he plans to open the new home for Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstores for shortened hours beginning Sunday, August 14 – though knock on wood because “there is still time for a new disaster to strike.”

Over two years have passed since the old location was burned by vandals in 2020. Insurance claims were followed by real estate deals, then extensive renovation of the new place, installation of shelves, and stocking the inventory. All the work has paid off as the new location at 2716 E. 31st St. in Minneapolis is on the verge of being ready for customers.

And if anyone is so unsympathetic as to ask “So, why is it taking so long?”, Blyly has a list of answers to the question.

The number one problem has been the computer system.  It took 3 weeks longer than expected for the hardware to arrive, after FedEx lost the original set of computer monitors.    After the hardware finally showed up, it took 5 weeks longer than expected to get ethernet cables run to connect the computers to the internet.  That’s a total of 8 weeks unexpected delays, but that was just the beginning of the problems.

There have been other mundane delays, like contracting for trash and recycling pick-up. 

…The salesperson claimed that it was impossible to have the waste service on the same contract as the recycling, so promised to e-mail two contracts for me to sign.  I looked at the contracts and immediately saw two problems: 1) the recycling contract was for only 1/3 the capacity of the old contract, and 2) both contracts stated that the customer will put a maximum of 0 pounds per yard into the containers.  I pointed out these problems and the salesperson kept sending me the bad contracts for signatures about 8 more times before sending revised contracts. 

…The trash dumpster was finally delivered on July 5.  More than a month later than the promised date, the recycling containers still have not been delivered, and I have words with Waste Management about that 2 or 3 times per week.  And the front of the store is filled with recycling material. 

Photo (c) by Paul Weimer.

Moving the phone and internet service to the new location has also been an issue.

Comcast/Xfinity was very helpful after the fire.  They allowed me to cancel my home contract and move the business account to my home and allowed me (for a fee, of course) to keep the two business phone numbers, forwarding them to my home landline.    After I had bought the new commercial building, they set up a new business account for the new address, but kept the old business phone lines connected to my home landline for a transition period.  Around July 6th a Comcast employee called to make sure we were in agreement on the transition to the new location.  We agreed that on July 16 the two phone lines would be transferred to the new store, but the internet connection to my home would remain in place.  Instead, on July 16 they cut the internet connection to my home, but left the two business lines connected to my home landline. I finally got them to move the business phone lines to the business around July 20, but they refused to return internet service to my home, claiming that Comcast Business does not allow any business to have modems in more than one location, even if there is a different account for each location. This forced me to move the mail order operation to the store a couple of weeks sooner than planned.  I still have not been able to get them to return internet service to my home.

Blyly also reported his progress on setting up displays of his inventory.

As I write this, we’ve received about 1/3 of the new books that I’ve ordered.  When boxes of books come in, they have to be checked against the invoice and then divided into different sections.  The mysteries are separated from the science fiction/fantasy.  Within those sections, they are then divided into the “before the fire” titles, the “after the fire” titles, and the “new releases”.    The sides of the bookshelves away from the front windows have the “before the fire” titles and the sides towards the front windows have a couple of sections of “new releases” and many sections of “after the fire” titles.  This should make it much easier for people to see what they’ve missed since the fire.  Around January we will mix the “before the fire” and “after the fire” titles into a single alphabetical section.

Photo (c) by Paul Weimer.

 

Here are his scheduled hours for the planned opening.

I hope to be able to open the Uncles for shortened hours beginning Sunday, August 14 (but there is still time for a new disaster to strike).  For the first week or two we will be open from 11 am to 4 pm Monday – Saturday and from 1 to 4 pm on Sundays, after which we will move to our regular hours.  During the first couple of weeks we expect to be very busy receiving and filing the rest of the new books that are on order, dealing with donated used books, and learning the computer system.  So, we will not be buying used books for the first 2 weeks.  We will continue to accept donated books during this period (“Just put the boxes over there and we’ll get around to dealing with them one of these days.”) but won’t have time to deal with buying used books.  I don’t expect the new sign or new awnings to be ready by then, so the signage will still say “Glass Endeavors” until the sign painter and the awning people get their work done.

Blyly Hopes to Open Uncle Hugo’s New Building in July

2716 E. 31st Street, Minneapolis (The Google maps photo.)

Don Blyly told readers today in the June 19th edition of his How’s Business newsletter that the new home for Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstores at 2716 E. 31st St. could open for business in July. Two years have passed since the bookstores’ old location was burned by vandals in 2020.

Don Blyly

Blyly says the work on bookshelves and lighting has kept the store from opening as soon as he wanted.

I had hoped to be able to open by the end of June; then I moved the expected date to early July; now I’m hoping for mid-July.  A lot of progress has been made, but not as fast as I had hoped. 

A lot of bookshelves for used books have been built, but are not yet ready to have books moved onto them.  We are waiting for the lights to be converted to LEDs and some light fixtures to be moved around and some new light fixtures to be installed.  The electricians have not yet told me when they will do the work, but the LED bulbs and new fixtures were delivered to the store last Thursday, so I hope the work will be done in the next week.

Gary Stone of Red Wing donated a lot of book shelves from a bookstore that went out of business a few years ago in western Wisconsin, which was a tremendous help.  It took over 2 weeks to get them re-assembled, but they will hold most of the new books for Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s.  Gary runs Stoney End Hobgoblin Music, where he hand crafts harps, dulcimers, banjos, and bodrans, and sells a wide variety of new and used instruments for folk, acoustic,  celtic, and world music, plus folk music recordings and lyrics.  If that sounds of interest to you, you might see if you can send some business to Gary to thank him for helping the Uncles.

Details like running computer cables and painting a new sign on the building remain to be done.

The new computer system was delivered 9 days ago, but I need a bunch of ethernet cables run before we can use the system.  The signage on the outside of the building still says “Glass Endeavors”, and I don’t know when the sign painter will be able to schedule our job.

Blyly continues to sort his inventory.

I have moved all the donated books from the storage locker to the new store and sorted them into five categories: UH mass markets, UE mass markets, UH trade books, UE trade books, and “stuff”.  A lot of people donated boxes of books from their own storage lockers or basements without looking through the boxes, so there are a fair number of books that are outside our specialties.  Some of the “stuff” looks interesting, but a lot of “stuff” will probably go to recycling.  The Uncle Hugo’s used mass markets have been sorted alphabetically and are ready to move onto the used book shelves as soon at the shelves are attached to the walls, and I’ll start alphabetizing the Uncle Edgar’s used mass markets next week.

He will also be accepting donations of books on June 26.

A lot of people have let me know that they have books they want to donate to the Uncles but held off when my storage locker and house both filled up with donated books.  Next Sunday, June 26, Ecko and I will be at the new store (2716 E. 31st St.) from 1 to 4 pm to accept donations of books and to allow people to look over the new building. We will not be selling anything, we will not be buying anything, and I don’t expect any of the new books to have arrived by then.