Pixel Scroll 5/28/22 Though I Scroll Through The Pixels Of The Of Media Birthdays, I Will Fear No Spoilers

(1) WELLS AMA. Martha Wells did an “Ask Me Anything” for Reddit’s r/books today: “I’m Martha Wells, and I’m an author of science fiction and fantasy, including The Murderbot Diaries. AMA!”

What authors do you like to read?

N.K. Jemisin, Kate Elliott, Nghi Vo, K. Arsenault Rivera, Rebecca Roanhorse, Fonda Lee, Aliette de Bodard, Ovidia Yu, Lois McMaster Bujold, Zen Cho, Barbara Hambly, Judith Tarr, Tana French, Tade Thompson, C.L. Polk. A whole bunch, basically. 🙂

(2) GREAT AND NOT-SO-GREAT EXPECTATIONS. Naomi Kanakia discusses “My relationship to bias against trans people in the publishing industry” at The War on Loneliness.

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on my ‘career’ (so to speak) as a trans writer for teens, which (oddly enough) now includes being one of the enemies du jour for a substantial part of the country!

Personally, it doesn’t bother me that much. I don’t lose sleep over it. If I got harassment or felt unsafe, I’m sure that would change. All the consequences are professional. There’s a huge appetite for trans narratives now, but I think they’re also risky, and that more marginal or nuanced perspectives like mine are just not what the country feels like it needs. That’s even aside from the risks of a book being banned by the right or cancelled by the left (or, as in a few cases, cancelled by right-wing trolls who pick out seemingly-offensive passages and use them to get the left riled up)

I see being trans the same way I see being a woman or being brown: it’s a definite professional liability, and it probably makes publication and acclaim harder to come by, but it also makes the work more meaningful. In a way, it’s kind of a privilege to be able to write about things that people care about, to say stuff that they might not’ve heard before, and to have a perspective that’s valuable. Which is to say, if it wasn’t harder for me to succeed, the would be less worth doing. I do think that if you want to produce something valuable, it’s always going to be more difficult, precisely because what is valuable is rarer, less-understood, and doesn’t have the same immediately-intuitive appeal….

(3) VERTLIEB MEDICAL UPDATE. Steve Vertlieb had a setback after returning home from heart surgery. But now he’s back home from a second hospital stay and has copied File 770 on his account for Facebook readers.

A Pseudoaneurysm And Blood Clot Bring Me To My Knees Once More, Requiring Renewed Forced Hospitalization

 … Just returned a little while ago from Abington Hospital in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania where I spent the last ten days unexpectedly confined to the dreaded hospital once again. I was only home for five days when agonizing pain in my lower groin forced me to to go back to the emergency room for a re-evaluation of my already precarious medical condition. I was diagnosed rather quickly, I fear, with a Pseudoaneurysm in my left lower groin area, as well as a blood clot in my left leg. I had a two and a half hour blood transfusion a few days ago in order to correct a low Hemoglobin level which had only added to my recent medical woes. I’m home again, however … I hope this time permanently.

To quote Dr. Henry Frankenstein … “HE’S ALIVE … ALIVE.” I’ve returned bloodied and scarred, but alive and on the mend, from the proverbial gates of hell. I shall live, God willing, to tell the story of my remarkable journey through fear, panic, and nearly terminal illness to the sweet gates of successful surgery, completion, and somewhat “limitless” vistas.

My time on Facebook will, for the present, be limited, I fear, in the days ahead, but I just wanted to let everyone know that I’ve survived. I came home from the hospital yesterday (Thursday) after a ten day stay following major open-heart surgery. The procedure lasted approximately six hours, during which my surgeons replaced one heart valve, repaired another, stitched back together the hole in my heart, and stopped my internal bleeding.

This procedure was far more involved and life threatening than I ever imagined or was advised. The second time, it seems, is not the charm, but the entire bracelet. They had to cut through an already existing incision, breaking once healed bones protecting my heart cavity yet again, in order to reach and operate upon the newly troubled areas. My recovery, consequently, will also be far more difficult than my original transition back to health, healing, and wholeness twelve years ago.

The good news, however, is that when I asked my surgeon the chances for a complete recovery, he responded “ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.” Doing anything beyond menial movement and chores over the next several months will be severely limited. My brother Erwin is here with me for the next month or so, and he’ll be taking care of me. However, my reason for posting this morning, is to let you all know that I have survived a difficult surgery, and that I’m looking forward, with faith and dreams, to a Summer, a year, and a life of happiness, love, laughter, and blessed renewal.

Thank you all from the bottom of my sometimes troubled heart for the most gracious gift of your prayers, and friendship. In Love, Peace, and Gratitude Steve

(4) VIRGIL FINLAY ART. Doug Ellis has announced a sale:

For fans of the great Virgil Finlay, my latest art sale catalog is now available.  This one is devoted entirely to the art of Finlay.  Note that none of these are published pieces, but instead are personal pieces (including abstracts).  This material all comes from Finlay’s estate, and I’m selling it on behalf of his granddaughter.

You can download the catalog (about 30 MB) through Dropbox here.

(5) FUTURE TENSE. “Out of Ash by Brenda Cooper” at Slate is a short story about climate change, the new entry from Future Tense Fiction, a monthly series of short stories from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives. 

…Mist gave way to soft rain, then faded back to damp cold. Stored sunlight made octagonal tiles on the path under my feet glow. I followed its light to the middle of Central Park, where dusk barely illuminated the blue and red mosaics of the town well. Volunteers had moved every piece of the well they could salvage from drowning historic Olympia to the replica in New Olympia. By car, the journey was over 65 miles. The new city perched on the lower slopes of Mount Rainier, and the water tasted as clean, although more like mountain than river. This well, like the old one, operated as a free community asset. The glowing streets, the well, and, a few blocks away, the new State Capitol all looked even more beautiful than the artist’s renderings. The city ran on sunlight. Edible plants bordered parks, fed by recycled wastewater as clean as the well water. New Olympia gave as much back to the ecosystem as it took….

Molly Brind’amour’s response essay considers, “What happens if no one moves to a new city?”

Multiple choice question: Your favorite beautiful, coastal city is at risk of being flooded by sea level rise, and you have the power to do something. Do you

a)   Build a sea wall
b)   Rearrange it into the hills
c)    Move the entire city inland
d)   Do nothing

These are the options facing today’s leaders… 

(6) STYLIN’ IN SIXTIES HOLLYWOOD. Techno Trenz remembers when: “Over a pair of shoes, Frank Sinatra came dangerously close to assaulting writer Harlan Ellison.”

…Sinаtrа wаs so pаrticulаr аbout his аppeаrаnce thаt he becаme enrаged when people didn’t dress the wаy he did. When he wаs in а bаr, he hаppened to notice Ellison.

“[Ellison] wore а pаir of brown corduroy slаcks, а green shаggy-dog Shetlаnd sweаter, а tаn suede jаcket, аnd $60 Gаme Wаrden boots,” Gаy Tаlese wrote in the Creаtive Nonfiction аrticle “Frаnk Sinаtrа Hаs а Cold.”

Sinаtrа wаs irritаted enough by Ellison’s аttire thаt he аpproаched him while plаying pool.

“Look, do you hаve аny reаson to tаlk to me?” Ellison inquired.

Sinаtrа responded, “I don’t like how you’re dressed.”…

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2011 [By Cat Eldridge.] Eleven years ago on this evening, the BBC aired the first episode of the Outcasts series. You’ve probably never heard of it as it only lasted eight episodes. It was created by Ben Richards who had absolutely no SFF background being a writer of such series as the British intelligence series Spooks (which is streaming on Britbox). 

It was written by him along with Jack Lothian and David Farr with the story being it is set on the colony planet Carpathia and it revolves around the ongoing lives of the existing settlers, and the introduction of the last evacuees from Earth.  No spoilers there I think.

When critics saw the pilot episode, they were downright hostile. Let’s start with Kevin O’Sullivan of The Mirror who exclaimed “While the barmy BBC squanders a billion quid on getting the hell out of London… it must have saved a fortune on ­Outcasts.  A huge horrible heap of cheapo trash, this excruciating sci-fi rubbish tip looked like it was made on a budget of about 50p.  Who directed it? Ed Wood? And what a script! So jaw-droppingly dreadful it hurt.” 

David Chater at the Times wrote, “Not since Bonekickers has the BBC broadcast such an irredeemably awful series. Sometimes catastrophes on this scale can be enjoyed precisely because they are so dismal, but this one has a kind of grinding badness that defies enjoyment of any kind.” 

Mike Hale of the New York Times gets the last word: “With none of the flair or self-deprecating wit that has defined other British sci-fi imports (‘Torchwood,’ ‘Primeval’), ‘Outcasts’ strands a number of talented performers, including Mr. Bamber, Eric Mabius and Liam Cunningham, on a world of wooden dialogue and interplanetary clichés. There’s nothing a rescue ship from earth can do for this crew.”

Audience figures for the series were extremely poor: as they started with an initial low figure of four point five million viewers for the pilot, and the show lost nearly two-thirds over its run, to finish with one point five million UK viewers. 

Richards remain defiant after it was moved to a new time stating “I have every confidence we will rule our new slot. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!” and “Cultdom beckons. And keep watching hardcore because remaining eps great.”  Well BBC didn’t pay attention as they then cancelled the series despite actually having shot some of the first episode of the second series. 

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

It appears to streaming for free on Vudu.  And it was released as a UK DVD.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 28, 1908 Ian Fleming. Author of the James Bond series which is at least genre adjacent if not actually genre in some cases such as Moonraker. The film series was much more genre than the source material. And then there’s the delightful Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car. The film version was produced by Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli, who had already made five James Bond films. Fleming, a heavy smoker and drinker his entire adult life, died of a heart attack, his second in three years. (Died 1964.)
  • Born May 28, 1923 Natalie Norwick. She had a number of genre roles in the Sixties including being Martha Leighton in “The Conscience of the King”, a Trek episode, and appearing as Josette duPres Collins on Dark Shadows. (Died 2007.)
  • Born May 28, 1951 Sherwood Smith, 71. YA writer best known for her Wren series. She co-authored The Change Series with Rachel Manija Brown.  She also co-authored two novels with Andre Norton, Derelict for Trade and A Mind for Trade
  • Born May 28, 1954 Betsy Mitchell, 68. Editorial freelancer specializing in genre works. She was the editor-in-chief of Del Rey Books. Previously, she was the Associate Publisher of Bantam Spectra when they held the license to publish Star Wars novels in the Nineties. She edited the Full Spectrum 4 anthology which won a World Fantasy Award. 
  • Born May 28, 1981 Laura Bailey, 41. I find voice performers fascinating. And we have one of the most prolific ones here in Laura Bailey. She’s got hundreds of credits currently, so can hardly list all of them here, so l’ll just choose a few that I really like. She voiced Ghost-Spider / Gwen Stacy in the recent Spider-man series and the Black Widow in Avengers Assemble and other Marvel series. And she appeared in Constantine: City of Demons as Asa the Healer. 
  • Born May 28, 1984 Max Gladstone, 38. His debut novel, Three Parts Dead, is part of the Craft Sequence series, and his shared Bookburners serial is most excellent. This Is How You Lose the Time War (co-written with Amal El-Mohtar) won a Hugo Award for Best Novella at CoNZealand. It also won an Aurora, BSFA, Ignyte, Locus and a Nebula. 
  • Born May 28, 1985 Carey Mulligan, 37. She’s here because she shows up in a very scary Tenth Doctor story, “Blink”, in which she plays Sally Sparrow. Genre adjacent, she was in Agatha Christie’s Marple: The Sittaford Mystery as Violet Willett. (Christie gets a shout-out in another Tenth Doctor story, “The Unicorn and the Wasp”.)

(9) CON OR BUST. Dream Foundry’s Con or Bust program is gearing up again. The program helps creatives of color attend conventions and other professional development opportunities they otherwise might not be able to by financing their trip, stay, and/or tickets.

They’re looking for donations – to offer one, use the donation form here. If you think you’d benefit from the funds, there’s a request form here. 

(10) SERVICE INTERRUPTUS. Cat Eldridge circled back to right-wing blog Upstream Reviews to read any new comments on its recent gloating posts about the Mercedes Lackey controversy and SFWA’s announcement that its membership directory data had been compromised. Surprisingly, he found that the blog is offline – all you get is an “Internal Server Error.” There’s still a Google cache file – the blog’s last entry was Declan Finn kissing Larry Correia’s butt.  Maybe the internet threw up? Cat says, “Quite likely as the parent domain is for it is mysfbooks.com which as been blacklisted by the internet as being dangerous to visit (may have worms, may harvest your passwords, may steal your immortal soul).”

(11) IF I COULD TALK TO THE ANIMALS. They left this part out of Doctor Doolittle, I guess.

Young dolphins, within the first few months of life, display their creativity by creating a unique sound. These bleats, chirps and squeaks amount to a novel possession in the animal kingdom — a label that conveys an identity, comparable to a human name.

These labels are called signature whistles, and they play an essential role in creating and keeping relationships among dolphins. While the development of a signature whistle is influenced by learning from other dolphins, each whistle still varies in volume, frequency, pitch and length….

… Fellow researcher Jason Bruck, a marine biologist at Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas, told National Geographic the original goal was to test whether dolphins use their signature whistles in the same way people rely on names.

Bruck couldn’t do that unless he found a second way dolphins could identify each other. Luckily, he remembered that a fellow scientist had previously observed wild dolphins swimming through what the website called “plumes of urine” and he figured the creatures might be using it as an ID technique….

(12) WHAT’S UP, DOCK? A travel writer for Insider gives a detailed account of her Starcruiser experience, accompanied by many photos of the décor, characters, and food, and assures everyone the $5200 price tag is worth it. “Adults Try Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser — Cost, Review, Photos”

I felt the price I paid was justified for everything that was included in this experience and watching my husband live out his best Star Wars life was priceless.. 

Plus the level of service and entertainment, the cast, and the food were just incredible. 

If you are a Star Wars fan, I recommend this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

But I have to tell you if that’s the price I’ll have to pay, like Han Solo said, “This is going to be a real short trip.”

(13) PORTENTOUS WORDS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, David Betancourt prepares people for the release of Obi-Wan Kenobi by giving his ten favorite Obi-Wan moments from Star Wars episodes 1-4. “Obi-Wan Kenobi moments to know before his Disney Plus return”. Second on the list:

Duel of the Fates “We’ll handle this.” (Episode 1: The Phantom Menace)

Duel of the Fates, the epic lightsaber battle featuring Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon and Darth Maul, borders on Star Wars perfection. Its success comes from the combination of John Williams’s score, Ray Park’s physicality as Darth Maul and modern CGI technology finally catching up to the imagination of George Lucas. And it is a moment that shows the ascension of Obi-Wan from Padawan to Jedi Knight when he ends up victorious.

(14) OBOE WAN. Legendary film composer John Williams hit the stage to surprise fans at Anaheim Star Wars Celebration and play the theme for the new Obi Wan Kenobi series.

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

Pixel Scroll 3/27/22 I Have A Master’s Degree – In Scrolling

(1) WHO SAID THIS JOB WAS EASY? Bad Writer by greybeardgames boasts (?) a recommendation from one of sff’s leading names:

“The most depressingly realistic writer’s life simulation I ever experienced” Lavie Tidhar, author of Maror, Hood, By Force Alone, Osama, Central Station, and others.

You play Emily, a struggling writer, trying to make it in the big bad world of short story publishing. You walk around your house, getting ideas, and writing stories. Try not to get too distracted, or you will get sad that you hadn’t written during the day. Get too sad, and it’s game over. She gives up and gets a new job doing something far less fun and stressful.

The game was created by author Paul Jessup, creator of haunted fantasies and weird futures. Only $2.99! Many find they prefer playing it to writing. Oops!

(2) WISCON NEWS. WisCon has set an in-person attendance cap of 600 as a safety measure. They’ve also given a status report about their GoHs: “In-person attendance cap, Guest of Honor updates, and more”.

Regarding our Guests of Honor:

  • We’re thrilled to confirm that Sheree Renée Thomas will be attending WisCon 2022 in person and will also be available to participate in virtual programming.
  • Unfortunately, due to family commitments and the ongoing pandemic, neither Zen Cho nor Yoon Ha Lee will be able to participate either physically or virtually in WisCon 2022.
  • We have yet to receive confirmation whether Rebecca Roanhorse will be able to participate virtually (for the second time) or physically.

The post also discusses major changes they’ve had to make in response to Covid or in response to the limited time and energy volunteers have to run events.

(3) LEGOLAND ADDS STADIUM. The LEGO® SoFi Stadium is now open at Legoland California Resort.

SoFi Stadium has “touched down” in Miniland USA! An architectural marvel that took a team of 25 dedicated Master Model Builders more than 6,000 hours and more than 500,000 LEGO® bricks to build, the final SoFi Stadium model stands at more than 30 feet long, 15 feet wide and over 4 feet tall. It’s currently considered the largest LEGO® stadium in the world. The massive LEGO structure joins other top Southern California attractions featured in LEGO form, including Griffith Park Observatory, Hollywood Bowl and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

The LA Times has more coverage: “A record replica of SoFi Stadium arrives at Legoland”.

…More than a dozen members of the park’s model shop team completed the final installation of the model, which took place over the course of four days, park representatives said.

Inside the stadium, model makers re-created the L.A. Ram’s starting roster for Super Bowl LVI, which they won in mid-February over the Cincinnati Bengals.

The scene will include “Minilander,” or Lego versions, of this year’s Super Bowl championship team, park officials said. There will also be an “audience” of 3,000 Lego people inside….

(4) REPORTING ON LOCATION. “Friendship in the Time Of Kaiju: A Conversation with John Scalzi” conducted by Arley Sorg at Clarkesworld Magazine.

Are kaiju something that you’re into, did you grow up watching Godzilla?

Some of my earliest memories of television are the Japanese kaiju movies. When I grew up in Los Angeles, I’d watch channel nine and channel eleven. They were independent stations at the time, and they would fill up their Saturday and Sunday afternoons with Japanese movies where these big monsters would stomp on things. When you’re seven or eight years old, and before the Star Wars era, all of it looked startlingly realistic. It was like, “This could be happening! What the hell’s going on in Japan, how do they live?” I think anybody who was my age growing up watching these things, it just sort of seeped into your bones.

(5) VIRGIL FINLAY ART SALE CATALOG. Doug Ellis shares his Finlay auction catalog – get an eyeful, then buy a wall-full!

For fans of the great Virgil Finlay, here’s my latest art sale catalog.  This one is devoted entirely to the art of Finlay, with over 50 originals.  Note that none of these are published pieces, but instead are personal pieces (including abstracts) and a few prelims.  None of this material has been at any convention, nor has it been in any prior catalog.  This material all comes from Finlay’s estate, and I’m selling it on behalf of his granddaughter.

And if you like Finlay art, I’ll have a few hundred other, similar pieces for sale at this year’s Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention (May 6-8, 2022 at the Westin Lombard Yorktown center) that has not been shown in any catalog either.

You can download the catalog (about 30 MB) through WeTransfer here.

(6) A WINK IS AS GOOD AS A NOD. In the Washington Post Magazine, Jason Vest profiles Rob Poor, whose eyeball was used for a retina scan Captain Kirk had to undergo in Star Trek Ii:  The Wrath Of Khan.  The scan seems routine today but Vest says this was “one of the earliest digitized photo images of living matter used in a major film” and Vest described how it happened. “William Shatner’s eyeball double in ‘Star Trek II’ tells how it happened”.

…Poor’s story illuminates not just how far our technology has come in the past 40 years, but also how the effects wizards working on “Star Trek II,” in swinging for the fences, helped lay the foundation for something we take for granted today: the digital cameras of our communicators (er, cellphones). As such, I asked Poor if he would be willing to revisit the tale of his role in a pioneering filmmaking moment and technological advance — and one that has seen him achieve on-screen immortality, if uncredited, as … William Shatner’s stunt eyeball….

(7) PKD AT THE MOVIES. “A Scanner Darkly Is the Best Philip K. Dick Film Adaptation, Not Blade Runner” contends CBR.com.

…The look of A Scanner Darkly is the first noticeable difference that sets it apart from other adaptations and is a crucial decision to pull off PKD’s vision. PKD’s themes of warping identities, hallucinations and false realities are often difficult to capture on film, and Linklater’s return to rotoscoping — an animation technique that traces over live-action cels which he also used in Waking Life — is a spot on visualization of these themes.

This is evidenced in the very first scene, which shows a frantic Charles Freck (Rory Cochrane) dealing with an infestation of imagined insects. The fact that the bug hallucinations look identical to the real world drags viewers into the uncanny valley, creating a simultaneously lifelike and artificial setting where it is difficult to know what is actually taking place.

In addition to the look of A Scanner Darkly, the film also avoids the most common missteps that other films have made when adapting PKD’s work. Featuring heroics without heroes, action without resolution and romance without lovers, PKD worlds are perhaps too incongruous for film, especially the bombastic style found in this era of the Hollywood blockbuster.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1992 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Thirty years ago, Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories wins the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. The novel was published two years earlier and was his first novel since The Satanic Verses which as we all know resulted in that book being condemned by many Islamic clerics and Rushdie being condemned to death. Much of this novel can be considered a commentary upon what happened to him then. 

Haroun itself is “a sad city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad it had forgotten its name”. It will by the end of the stories have its name restored. A joyous event indeed. 

The New York Times review compared it to the work of Barrie, Beatrix, Potter and E. B.  White: “Salman Rushdie’s remarkable new children’s book belongs in this company. The only difference is that the experiences that lie behind ‘Haroun and the Sea of Stories’ are nearly as fantastic as anything in the tale. Before the fact, who could have believed that a world-famous spiritual leader would publicly exhort his millions of followers to murder a novelist in another country, and promise them eternal salvation should they succeed?”

The Kirkus review aimed at librarians was more literary in nature: “Memorable bedtime story targeted for an audience as large as a bull’s-eye on the side of a barn. The book is catalogued for January but will be shipped to bookstores in early November for Thanksgiving sales. Few readers will not find some tie between this story of a silenced father-storyteller and Rushdie’s death sentence from the Ayatollah Khomeini—but it’s a tie not stressed by the author. Perhaps the brightest aspect of the book is its bubbling good humor and witty dialogue, and then its often superb writing: ‘There was once, in the country of Alifbay, a sad city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad that it had forgotten its name. It stood by a mournful sea full of glumfish, which were so miserable to eat that they made people belch with melancholy even though the skies were blue.’” 

Befitting the literary nature of the book and its use of multiple languages, it was made into an audiobook which is read by Rushdie himself. I’ve heard it — it’s an extraordinary work indeed. 

Haroun and the Sea of Stories was adapted for the stage by Tim Supple and David Tushingham. It had its stage premiere in 1998 at the Royal National Theatre in London. It was also an opera, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, written by Charles Wuorinen in 2001 with libretto by James Fenton, which premiered at the New York City Opera in Fall 2004.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 27, 1892 Thorne Smith. A writer of humorous supernatural fantasy. He is best remembered for the two Topper novels — a comic fantasy fiction mix of plentiful drink, many ghosts, and sex. Not necessarily in that order.  The original editions of the Topper novels complete with their erotic illustrations are available from the usual digital sources. (Died 1934.)
  • Born March 27, 1942 Michael York, 80. I remember him in Babylon 5’s  “A Late Delivery from Avalon” episode as a man who believed himself to be King Arthur returned. Very chilling. I also enjoyed him as D’Artagnan in the Musketeers films and remember him as Logan 5 in Logan’s Run. So what on his genre list really impresses you? 
  • Born March 27, 1949 — John Hertz, 73. He’s an active fanzine fan who publishes Vanamonde. He’s also an experienced masquerade judge, convention art show tour docent, and teacher of Regency dancing. Winner of the Big Heart Award at the 2003 Torcon. With the help of the HANA (Hertz Across to Nippon Alliance) fan fund he attended Nippon 2007. He‘s a three-time Hugo finalist for Best Fan Writer. Four collections of his fanwriting have been published, West of the MoonDancing and Joking, On My Sleeve, and Neither Complete nor Conclusive.  (OGH)
  • Born March 27, 1950 John Edward Allen. One of the forgotten dwarfs of Hollywood, he stood but three feet and ten inches tall. English by birth and English in death as he was back there after an impressive career in Hollywood to die on his native soil. How impressive? Well given how hard it was for dwarfs to find work, pretty good as he appeared in Snow White LiveBuck Rogers in the 25th CenturySide Show (circus horror film), Under the Rainbow (see IMDB link here), Tales from the Darkside (as a goblin), Swamp Thing series (love that series), Superboy (as a carnival dwarf) and Snow White: A Tale of Terror. (Died 1999.)
  • Born March 27, 1952 Dana Stabenow, 70. Though better known for her superb Kate Shugak detective series of which the first, the Edgar Award-winning A Cold Day for Murder is a Meredith moment right now, she does have genre work to her credit in the excellent Star Svensdotter space series, and the latter is available at the usual digital suspects.
  • Born March 27, 1953 Patricia Wrede, 69. She is a founding member of The Scribblies, along with Pamela Dean, Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Steven Brust and Nate Bucklin. Not to be confused with the Pre-Joycean Fellowship which overlaps in membership. Outside of her work for the the Liavek shared-world anthology created and edited by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly, there are several series she has running including Lyra (Shadow Magic)Enchanted Forest Chronicles and Cecelia and Kate (co-written with Caroline Stevermer). She’s also written the novelizations of several Star Wars films including Star Wars, Episode I – The Phantom Menace and Star Wars, Episode II – Attack of the Clones in what are listed  as  ‘Jr. Novelizations’.
  • Born March 27, 1969 Pauley Perrette, 53. Though she’s best known for playing Abby Sciuto on NCIS, a role she walked away from under odd circumstances, she does have some genre roles. She was Ramona in The Singularity Is Near, a film based off Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. Next up is the most excellent Superman vs. The Elite in which she voices Lois Lane. Let’s see… she had a recurring role on Special Unit 2 as Alice Cramer but I never watched that series beyond the pilot so I’ve no idea what that role was. 
  • Born March 27, 1971 Nathan Fillion, 51. Certainly best known here for being Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds in Firefly ‘verse, though the large viewing audience now know him as Richard Castle on Castle. An interesting case of just how much of a character comes from the actor I think. In both roles. In his case, I’d say most of it. He voiced Green Lantern/Hal Jordan in Justice League: DoomJustice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and Justice League: Throne of AtlantisThe Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen. Oh, and he appeared in a recurring role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Caleb.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) BAFFLING HALT. “NASA Criticized for Ending Pronoun Project” reports Scientific American.

In a move that has been widely criticized, NASA leaders recently terminated a test project that allowed employees at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) to display pronouns in their official agency identifiers. The decision affected more than 100 employees who saw their stated pronouns vanish from communication platforms.

…Organized by a handful of management officials within GSFC, the pronoun-inclusive effort was “a tech demo”—a prepilot program, a Goddard employee says, that was a first step toward addressing concerns that included issues with removing deadnames from the agency’s IT system. (A deadname is the name a transgender or nonbinary person had before transitioning.) In searching for solutions, the GSFC team spoke with NASA Headquarters, as well as legal departments and employee resource groups at the agency. In other words, “this wasn’t a bunch of people going rogue,” says a scientist at GSFC.

During that process, the GSFC team identified an option that would let employees add their pronouns to their display names, which are used in electronic communications, including e-mail, contact lists, instant messaging platforms and Microsoft Teams environments. Usually, those identifiers include “[Last name],” “[First name]” and “[NASA Center-XXX],” where the “XXX” would be replaced by a three-digit organizational code. But by filling in an optional field that is typically used for nicknames, employees could add pronouns after their names. It was an efficient and inexpensive way to make a necessary change, employees say, and did not require any additional coding or IT investments….

(12) SIGNAL CLOSE ACTION. Someone asked a question. Martin Wisse answered, “My rightwing guilty pleasure: Honor Harrington” at Wis[s]e Words.

If you’re on the political left, what is the most right-wing artistic work that you enjoy and appreciate (in whatever way you understand that concept)? And if you’re on the right, the reverse?

And my mind immediately went to David Weber and his Honor Harrington series. Doing Horatio Hornblower in Space! series is already a pretty conservative concept, but Weber took it up to eleven, especially at the start….

(13) IF YOU LOOK UPON A STAR. The story follows this introduction — “Fiction: ‘A Tranquil Star’” by Primo Levi in The New Yorker.

Italo Calvino once referred to the novelist and memoirist Primo Levi as “one of the most important and gifted writers of our time.” An Italian chemist and Holocaust survivor, Levi was the author of fourteen books, including “The Periodic Table” and “Survival in Auschwitz.” Since Levi’s death, in 1987, The New Yorker has published eight of his works of fiction and poetry. In 2007, the magazine excerpted the title story from Levi’s posthumous collection “A Tranquil Star.” The tale describes, in vivid, granular detail, the life and death of a star called al-Ludra, as observed through the eyes of various astronomers. But it’s also a story about the fine boundaries of the spoken word. … To compose a narrative about a star—and to make it as relevant as any depiction of a notable figure or close acquaintance—is no small feat. Levi balances the astonishing with the wonted, tracing the minute details of matter that appears immutable, and yet, like our own history, is ever changing….

(14) A CUT ABOVE. Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition is streaming April 5 on Paramount+.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Max Headroom chats with BBC presented Terry Wogan in this clip from 1985 that dropped this week.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/9/22 Chapter Scroll Dune

(1) SFF A “FORM OF SUBVERSIVE ACTIVISM”. Eugen Bacon’s thoughtful review appears in the latest issue of Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research, Volume 8, Issue 2 (Feb 2022): “Trends in Black Speculative Fiction”.

… More than two decades after the publication of Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora (Thomas), black speculative fiction continues to rise as a powerful conversation in genre fiction, and increasingly tackles precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial themes pertaining to identity and culture, as well as feminist and queer themes pertaining to engaging with difference. Anthologies have become instrumental in the proliferating Afrofuturistic writing that heroes black people in stories from Africa and the diaspora, stories whose visibility is increasingly evident in award nominations and recommendations – for example 2021 Hugo nominee Ekpeki Donald Oghenechovwe, whose novella Ife-Iyoku won the 2020 Otherwise Award.

New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color (Shawl) – in its showcasing of interracial and cross-cultural stories – may have stunned its publisher, editor, contributors, and readers by winning the 2020 Locus, World Fantasy, British Fantasy, Ignyte, and Brave New Words Awards. Casting a diverse range of new and established writers, including (among others) Tobias S. Bucklell, Minsoo Kang, Kathleen Alcalá, Alberto Yáñez, and Chinelo Onwual, and featuring a foreword by LeVar Burton, New Suns explored intergalactic stories, dream stories, song stories, coming-home stories, futuristic stories, and even self-aware stories that encapsulate person-of-colour chants full of longing and conviction of belonging and place. With the success of New Suns, it’s no wonder that Solaris announced its acquisition of New Suns 2 for release in 2023 (“Solaris to Publish New Suns 2”)….

… It is clear from just these select exemplars that publishers, authors, and readers alike have a steeping interest in black people’s stories. Thanks to the internet, audio books, and ebooks, the world is in the heart of an ongoing digital revolution that continues to stagger traditional publishing and make best sellers as well as anthologies and collections from smaller presses cheaper and accessible to ravenous readers. As e-publishers and self-publishers create opportunities for writers and readers alike, and more awards recognise calibre and uniqueness, rather than the author’s or publisher’s muscle, black speculative fiction will continue to rise in global distribution, and be increasingly accessible. A reader has only to look for it in anthologies, collections, even award nominations….

(2) CRITTERS ANNUAL READERS POLL. The Critters Workshop, “for serious writers of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror” is hosting its Annual Readers Poll, which honors print and electronic publications published during the past year. (Click here for the official rules.) There are 41 categories. Voting is open through January 14. View the Current standings at the link.

Novels pages: Horror Romance Science Fiction & Fantasy Steampunk | Magical Realism | Positive Future | Erotica Mystery Thriller Children’s | Young Adult | All other |
Short Stories pages: Horror | Romance Science Fiction & Fantasy Steampunk | Magical Realism | Positive Future | All other | Anthologies page Poems page Nonfiction articles page Nonfiction books page |
Other Categories: Artwork page Book/e-book Cover Artwork page Magazine/e-zine Cover Artwork page Authors page Poets page Artists page Book/e-book Editors page Magazine/e-zine Editors page Book Publishers page Review site | Bookstore | Promotional Firms, Sites, and Resources page Fiction ‘zines page Poetry ‘zines page Nonfiction ‘zines page Writers’ Discussion Forum page Writers’ Workshop page Writers’ Resource/Information/News Source page |

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Tochi Onyebuchi and Sarah Pinsker in a virtual event on Wednesday, January 19 starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. The readings will be live on YouTube, link to come.

  • Tochi Onyebuchi

Tochi Onyebuchi is a novelist and essayist, who won the World Fantasy Award, the Ignyte Award, and the New England Book Award for Fiction for his novella Riot Baby, a Nebula, Locus, and Hugo Award finalist. His works include the Beasts Made of Night and War Girls series, and the non-fiction book (S)kinfolk. His most recent novel is Goliath from Tordotcom Publishing. He lives in Connecticut.

  • Sarah Pinsker

Sarah Pinsker is a writer of novels and short stories and everything in between. She has won three Nebulas, including best novel for A Song For A New Day in 2020 and best novelette for “Two Truths And A Lie,” in 2021. Her most recent novel is We Are Satellites. She’s also a musician with four albums to her name, including 2021’s Something to Hold. She lives in Baltimore with her wife and two terriers.

(4) WINDY CITY. Doug Ellis notes the 21st Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention is just four months away.  The event will be held May 6-8 at the usual venue, the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center, Lombard, Illinois.  

We’ve sold out all 180 of our dealer tables, to dealers spanning the U.S., from Canada and the U.K.  We’ll be celebrating the 100th anniversary of pulp and comic publisher Fiction House.

At this point, we don’t know what COVID requirements may be in place when the show takes place.  Currently, masking would be required, but protocols may change during the next four months.  We’ll update those as we learn them.

As has been the case in years past, this year’s convention will feature some incredible material in our estate auctions. Friday night (May 6), our auction will focus on material from the estate of legendary collector Robert Weinberg (including many more issues of Weird Tales and a complete run of Planet Stories), while on Saturday night, (May 7) material from the estate of Glenn Lord, literary agent for the estate of Robert E. Howard, takes center stage.  In addition, we also will have a number of interesting items from other consignors.

The deadline to book your hotel room and receive the convention rate is 5:00 central on April 12, 2022.  The link for con hotel reservations is here.

We hope to see you there!

(5) SECOND FÜNF. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Elliot Ackerman reviews The Writer’s Crusade: Kurt Vonnegut And The Many Lives Of Slaughterhouse-Five by Tom Roston. Roston argues that Vonnegut may have had undiagnosed PTSD from his experiences in World War II (including being a prisoner of war) and that Slaughterhouse-Five is an expression of his PTSD.  Ackerman finds Roston’s diagnosis unpersuasive and thinks Vonnegut’s own descriptions of how war affected him are a better guide than Roston’s posthumous diagnosis. “Book review of The Writer’s Crusade: Kurt Vonnegut and the Many Lives of Slaughterhouse-Five by Tom Roston”.

… This defiance of categorization is probably why I found myself bristling early on when Roston asserts that his book will seek to answer “whether or not ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ can be used as evidence of its author’s undiagnosed PTSD.” This investigation, which animates much of Roston’s book, seems misguided. Roston himself acknowledges the reductivism he’s engaged in when he writes, “I imagine reducing his book to a clinical diagnosis or, perhaps worse, putting it in the self-help category, would make Vonnegut shudder.” Indeed, I think it would. Nevertheless, Roston soldiers on, casting himself as part literary scholar and part psychoanalytic sleuth. He deconstructs “Slaughterhouse-Five” and the history around the book in search of incontrovertible proof that Vonnegut had what we would today call post-traumatic stress disorder, even though Roston acknowledges Vonnegut’s consistent denials throughout his life that his wartime experiences left him traumatized….

(6) STAR TREK’S BRIDGE. SFGate’s Victoria Sepulveda explains “Why ‘Star Trek’ made San Francisco the center of the universe”.

…On top of that, San Francisco is a beautiful city with a major recognizable landmark, great for letting TV viewers know when an episode takes us from the far-flung reaches of the cosmos back to Earth. 

But there are other naval cities and major Earth landmarks that could suit this purpose. What really made San Francisco special, Bernardi says, was its progressivism and diversity. Roddenberry was a liberal humanist, and San Francisco, out of all American cities in the 1960s, best captured the issues Roddenberry wanted to delve into in the show. It was a hub for the civil rights and anti-war movements, says Bernardi, who has studied Roddenberry’s papers, which are collected at UCLA….

(7) DEL TORO INTERVIEW. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to this podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Guillermo Del Toro — Maltin on Movies: Guillermo del Toro. Del Toro is promoting Nightmare Alley (an excellent film I regard as horror-adjacent), but fantasy is never far from Del Toro’s mind; two minutes into the podcast there’s a discussion about whether Berni Wrightson or Richard Corben did better scary clown illustrations.  Del Toro also says Forrest J Ackerman was his “godfather” because Famous Monsters of Filmland was a source of inspiration and education when he was a kid.  Also credited is the great makeup artist Dick Smith, who was very generous with his time and met Del Toro at the train station when he took the train from Guadalajara to meet with the makeup master.  Del Toro tries to follow Smith’s example and give education and encouragement to young people getting started in the movie industry.  Finally, he thinks that Doug Jones, who has a small role in Nightmare Alley and a major one in The Shape Of Water, is a protean talent who is our generation’s Lon Chaney.

Del Toro’s next project is an animated Pinocchio, developed as a collaboration with The Jim Henson Company.

Del Toro shares a lot of wisdom about movie production and life, in what I think is one of the Maltins’ better episodes.

(8) DWAYNE HICKMAN (1934-2022). Actor Dwayne Hickman, best known as TV’s Dobie Gillis, and for appearing in the Western comedy Cat Ballou, died January 9 reports the New York Times: “Dwayne Hickman, T.V.’s Lovelorn Dobie Gillis, Is Dead at 87”. He had a couple of genre roles – if Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965) counts, or else there’s his appearance on an episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1975).

(9) BOB SAGET (1956-2022). Actor Bob Saget, best known for his comedy sitcom work, died January 9. He worked on episodes of The Greatest American Hero (1983), Quantum Leap (1992), and Robot Chicken (2016), and voiced roles in the animated movies Madagascar (2005), and Casper’s Scare School (2006).

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1980 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-two years ago, New York City public television station WNET’s Experimental TV Lab project premiered their adaptation of The Lathe of Heaven. Based off the Ursula Le Guin novel of the same name, it was directed by David Loxton and Fred Barzyk. It should be noted Le Guin, by her own writings later, was involved in the casting, script planning, script editing, and filming of the production. Thus, we’ll give scripting credits to Diane English, Ursula K. Le Guin and Roger Swaybill. Primary cast was Bruce Davison, Kevin Conway (earlier in Slaughterhouse-Five as Roland Weary) and Margaret Avery. It was budgeted at a quarter of a million dollars.

The Lathe of Heaven became one of the two highest-rated shows that season on PBS that year. Michael Moore writing for Ares magazine liked it saying that “The best science fiction, such as Lathe, examines humankind’s place in the universe and the products and problems created by intelligence.” It was nominated for a Hugo at Denvention Two which had Ed Bryant as Toastmaster, the year The Empire Strikes Back won. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give a seventy-two percent rating. 

The Lathe of Heaven is the most-requested program in PBS history. It took twelve years to clear up rights to rebroadcast it and that involved replacing the Beatles music with a cover band version. In 2000, The Lathe of Heaven was finally rebroadcast and released to video and DVD. 

I’ve seen this version several times and remember as being rather well crafted but I’ve not the second version made twenty-two years later. Who here has seen that version? 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 9, 1890 Karel Capek. [Spelled with Latin “c” because WordPress doesn’t support the correct special character.] Author of the his 1936 novel War with the Newts and 1920 play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), which introduced the word robot. R.U.R.was a dystopian work about a really bad day at a factory populated with sentient androids. ISFDB shows two additional works by him, Krakatit: An Atomic Fantasy and The Absolute at Large which I’ve not heard of. (Died 1938.)
  • Born January 9, 1908 Simone de Beauvoir. You know who she is but likely don’t know she wrote All Men Are Mortal (Les Hommes Sont Mortels in its original French)in 1946 which tells the story of Raimon Fosca, a man cursed to live forever. It’d be published in English in the States a decade later, and was adapted into a 1995 film of the same name. (Died 1986.)
  • Born January 9, 1925 Lee Van Cleef. The Warden of the Prison in Escape from New York but he was best known for acting in Spaghetti Westerns. Genre wise, he was also Col. Stone in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, and Dr. Tom Anderson in Corman’s It Conquered the World. (Died 1989.)
  • Born January 9, 1932 Algis Budrys. I am trying to remember what I read by him and I think it was Some Will Not Die which I remember because of the 1979 Starblaze edition cover. I’ve also read and really enjoyed his Rogue Moon. Setting aside his work as a writer which was exemplary, he was considered one of our best genre reviewers ever reviewing for GalaxyMagazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and wrote genre reviews even in the more mainstream Playboy. He edited a number of the L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future anthologies which I’ll admit I’ve not read any of. I should note his Tomorrow Speculative Fiction prozine was quite excellent. (Died 2008.)
  • Born January 9, 1950 David Johansen, 72. He’s the wisecracking Ghost of Christmas Past in the oh-so-perfect Scrooged, he played Halston in Tales from the Darkside: The Movie in “The Cat from Hell” episode, and he appeared as a character named Brad in Freejack. I think the brief Ghost of Christmas Past riff in the aforementioned Scrooged is enough to earn him as Birthday Honors here. 
  • Born January 9, 1955 J.K Simmons, 67. You may know him as J. Jonah Jameson in the various Spider-Man films but I find his more interesting genre role to be as Howard Silk in the Counterpart series where he plays two versions of himself in two versions of parallel Berlins in a spy service that may or may not exist. He also portrayed Commissioner James Gordon in Justice League.
  • Born January 9, 1956 Imelda Staunton, 66. Voice of the Snow Queen in The Snow Queen’s Revenge, A Nurse in Shakespeare in Love, Polly in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dolores Jane Umbridge In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as well and Knotgrass in Maleficent and the sequel. 
  • Born January 9, 1957 Greg Ketter, 65. A Minneapolis SF Bookstore owner, DreamHaven to be precise, and con-running fan as well. He is a member of MN-Stf. He’s been involved in myriad regionals and Worldcons. He‘s chaired Minicons and World Fantasy Conventions alike.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) SEÑORITA RIO CREATOR. The work of Lily Renée was part of the “Three with a Pen” exhibit at the Austrian Cultural Forum New York that ended in September. Although the exhibit is over, much material remains online, including a trailer.

Lily Renée

The only child of a well-to-do family, Lily Renée Willheim discovered drawing early, creating opulent fantasy worlds with mythical creatures. As a result of the so-called “Anschluss”, her father lost his job, her school friends were no longer allowed to play with her, and, like many, the family endured a variety of hardships. In 1939, at age seventeen, her parents put her on a children’s transport bound for England where she briefly stayed with a British family.

She reunited with her parents in New York City in 1940, where she lives today. After studying at the Art Students League and School of the Visual Arts, she was hired by comic book publishers. An exception in the male-dominated field, she created illustrations for several comic books including Señorita Rio, a glamorous Brazilian secret agent fighting the Nazis, the comedy duo Abbott and Costello, and others. Her later works include children’s books, decorative motifs, and textile designs. In 2007, Lily Renée attended Comic-Con in San Diego to receive their Inkpot Award and was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Friends of Lulu, an organization promoting women in comics. She celebrates her 100th birthday this year.

Read more about her in The Forward: “This female comic book artist was unknown for decades”.

Like the comic superheroes they invented, the Jewish creators of the characters often had secret identities – at least different names. Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerome Siegel used the pseudonyms Joe Carter and Jerry Ess. Bob Kane, born Robert Kahn, created Batman. Jack Kirby, the pen name of Jacob Kurtzenberg, concocted Captain America.

Although lesser known, the comic book heroine Señorita Rio was Hollywood starlet Rita Farrar by day and Nazi-fighting secret agent by night. The artist who drew Rio’s action-packed panels in the 1940s, and signed as L. Renee, lived a sort of double life, too.

“Everybody assumed I was a man,” artist Lily Renee Phillips has said of the fan mail she received at the time, which was always addressed to “Mr. Renee.” Fans knew neither Renee’s gender nor her incredible origin story, which rivaled the plotline of Señorita Rio….

(14) DISNEY’S INSPIRATION. In the Washington Post, Philip Kennicott reviews “Inspiring Walt Disney:  The Animation of French Decorative Arts,” an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Walt Disney’s fascination with France explored in Metropolitan Museum’s ‘Inspiring Walt Disney’”

I have watched more Disney princess films in the past few weeks than in the entirety of my first five decades on the planet. As a citizen of American popular culture, I enjoy their grace and charm. But as a citizen of this thing called the American republic, with its roots in revolution and its rhetoric of equality, I find them often surreal. Isn’t it odd — and perhaps even wrong, in some deeper ethical sense — that Americans are addicted to these gilded fantasies of privilege?A fascinating exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art explores something that is hiding in plain sight if you watch Disney cartoons closely: the curious affinity for all things French, especially the trappings of French aristocracy.

The curators of “Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts” are upfront about one basic fact: Walt Disney made his movies for a very different audience than that for which the artisans of the French rococo produced their dazzling luxury objects….

(15) EFFECTS OF CHINA CENSORSHIP ON INTERNET AND TECH. According to the New York Times, “As Beijing Takes Control, Chinese Tech Companies Lose Jobs and Hope”.

…Beijing wants its cyberspace to become a tool of governance and national rejuvenation. And it will penalize anyone who fails to serve the goal.

In mid-December, the country’s internet regulator said it had ordered platforms to shut down more than 20,000 accounts of top influencers in 2021, including people who spoke ill of the country’s martyrs, entertainers involved in scandals and major livestreaming stars.

Alibaba was slapped with a record $2.8 billion antitrust fine in September. That was followed by a $530 million fine of Meituan, the food-delivery giant, a month later.

Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, was fined 44 times between January and November. Douban, the popular film- and book-reviewing site, was fined 20 times.

Li Chengdong, an e-commerce consultant who invests in start-ups, said some consumer internet companies he owned were struggling with higher compliance costs. “To stay on the safe side, they have to be stricter in compliance than what the government requires,” he said….

(16) ONLY HOW MANY SHOPPING DAYS LEFT? Sold by The Bodleian Library in Oxford, England, these Christmas Cards that look like book covers. Click through the slideshow to see all four examples.

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

Pixel Scroll 11/7/21 Sufficiently Advanced Robot Sheep Might Not Obey You

(1) THE UNANTICIPATED METAVERSE. “Neal Stephenson talks about his climate thriller — and why the metaverse didn’t match his vision”GeekWire has a Q&A.

Who’ll lead the effort to address climate change? “In my book, it’s a billionaire, because it makes for a good story. I don’t know how realistic that is. It’s more likely to be governments that are less democratic, frankly. If you look at the way the United States and the U.K. both responded to coronavirus, we weren’t even able to get a large part of the population to agree that it was a real thing, even though people were dying by the hundreds of thousands. … I’m pessimistic about our ability to get people to agree that human-caused climate change is a real thing, much less to agree on taking expensive and difficult steps to deal with that problem.”

On the future of democracy: “To be clear, I’m not a big fan of non-democratic countries. I’m a democracy guy all the way. But if the question we’re talking about is, ‘Can the big democracies like the U.S. and the U.K. get behind expensive and difficult action to address climate change?’ … Right now I have to be realistic and say that doesn’t look that likely.”…

(2) STRANGER THINGS TEASER. Variety breaks it down: “’Stranger Things’ Season 4 Teaser Shows Life Beyond Hawkins”.

…In it, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and Will are living new lives in California, where Eleven seems to be having a hard time adjusting, although she doesn’t admit that when writing to Mike (Finn Wolfhard). Her letter serves as narration for the teaser, which you can watch below.

“I even like school now. I have made lots of friends,” she says, as she’s ignored by peers in the school hallway. “Even so, I am ready for spring break, mostly because I get to see you. We will have the best spring break ever.”

The teaser ends in a montage of classic “Stranger Things” chaos: explosions, car chases, a creepy doll, a military arrest and more. The song “A Place In California” by Jeremiah Burnham plays in the background as the teaser comes to a close….

(3) CORFLU 38. At Corflu Concorde in Bristol, England this weekend, Sandra Bond was named Past President of the Fan Writers of America for 2020. Bond also was Corflu’s GoH – always determined by drawing an attendee’s name from a hat.

(4) RETURN OF MASSIVE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber discusses “massively multiplayer online role-playing games” or MMORPGs.

In recent years there has been a marked absence of exciting new projects.  While other games have evolved, MMORPGs have stagnated.  They got bigger, but not better.  One of the more popular recent releases is World of Warcraft Classic, which restores the game back to its unadorned first iteration:  many players would rather go backwards than forwards. Sometimes I wonder: did the games change?  Or did we?

Just because there hasn’t been another blockbuster doesn’t mean the genre is dead.  If one game can claim to have assumed World of Warcraft‘s mantle, it is 2013’s Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, a game that was rebuilt after a failed 2010 relaunch and has since cultivated a dedicated community of 24m players. Meanwhile New World, with its 17th century setting and focus on crafting, drummed up healthy viewing numbers on Twitch — though it has recently been shedding players.  We are also beginning to address the first MMORPGs born through crowdfunding, including the new release Crowfall and the upcoming Pantheon and Ashes of Creation.

(5) DOWNLOAD ELLIS’ ART SALE CATALOG. Doug Ellis has issued his new art sale catalog, devoted entirely to the art of Virgil Finlay, with over 300 originals, as well as ephemera such as cover proofs.  

Please note that only one of the pieces is a published illustration; the others are a mixture of science fiction/fantasy and astrology preliminaries, sketches, personal pieces, abstract art and paintings.  If you saw the Finlay material I had at the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention two months ago, you’ll still want to take a look, as over half the art in this catalog wasn’t at the show.  This material all comes from Finlay’s estate, and I’m selling it on behalf of his granddaughter.

You can download the catalog (325 pages, about 90 MB) from Wetransfer or Dropbox.

(6) REVIVAL HOUR. If you thought it had been awhile since you last saw an issue of Penumbric Speculative Fiction Magazine, you were right.  

After 15 years, a new dawn for Penumbric

For a few years in the early 2000s, there was an edgy little speculative fiction magazine called Penumbric Speculative Fiction Magazine. It published fiction, art, poetry, graphic narratives … and online, yet! But then it got a little too hubristic, and it tried to be a print magazine, too (I mean, you couldn’t just be online, could you?) … and the magazine sank.

It’s time to rise again. Reincarnate.

When submissions open, this is what they’ll be looking for:

I would love to see submissions representing not only multiple cultures but subcultures, exploring issues of race, ethnicity, gender, orientation, and many things I haven’t thought of. Does this mean you have to represent everybody and everything in 1000 words? Of course not. But be aware that we are creating a magazine that overall reaches and represents the true diversity of the world we live in.

In terms of genre, I am looking for work that constitutes the ever-moving edge of its kind, as a place between light and dark, consciousness and un, today and tomorrow; work exhibiting the strange, the bizarre, that which is not of the world we know, but more of a twilight realm or even altogether alien place. Not necessarily science fiction, not necessarily fantasy, not necessarily horror, and not necessarily not these things. In short, ideally edgy. Maybe even idealistically edgy. I am NOT looking for porn.

(7) IT’S NICE AND EASY ON THE OTHER SIDE. Auralee Wallace makes the case for cozy paranormal romances: “The Charm of the Paranormal Cozy: An Appreciation” at CrimeReads.

Oh, we live in troubled times, don’t we? I could list all the things wrong with the world, but why bother? All you have to do is turn on the TV, or scroll through social media, or simply walk down the street and you’ll likely be inundated with the many terrible crises we’re all facing. Who needs more of that? No, instead of reminding you of what’s wrong with the world, I’d like to offer you an escape. An escape to a world that seems much like our own but with a few key differences. It’s a world where you can expect to be handled gently. Where you can snap your fingers or wiggle your nose and life becomes miraculously easier. Here you can rest safely in the knowledge that there are forces of good working behind the scenes, and, if you’re lucky, you might just catch a peek through the veil to other side. It’s not only a world where comfort is savored and valued; it’s one where justice always prevails, killers are always caught, and the murders are at least a little bit cozy….

(8) TEXAS-SIZED SFF COLLECTION. A video introduction to the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives at Texas A&M University, housing one of the largest science fiction and fantasy collections in the country. Featuring a sneak peek at Kristen Britain’s archive.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1997 — Twenty-four years ago, Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers premiered. It’s based rather loosely off Robert Heinlein’s Hugo Award winning novel.  It had a cast of Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards Jake Busey,  Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Muldoon and Michael Ironside, and it received a mixed reception by critics ranging from utterly loathing it to really, really loving it and a generally negative one by most SF fans; it currently garners a rather excellent seventy percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes among the quarter million audience reviewers who’ve given an opinion, and never earned backed its hundred million budget taking in just a hundred and twenty million. It would spawn a number of sequels, universally bad, and one superb animated series that was unfortunately not completed. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 7, 1910 Pearl Argyle. Catherine CabalI in the 1936 Things to Come as written by H.G. Wells based off his “The Shape of Things to Come” story. Being a dancer, she also appeared in 1926 The Fairy Queen opera by Henry Purcell, with dances by Marie Rambert and Frederick Ashton. Her roles were Dance of the Followers of Night, an attendant on Summer, and Chaconne. (Died 1947.)
  • Born November 7, 1914 R. A. Lafferty. Writer known for somewhat eccentric usage of language.  His first novel Past Master would set a lifelong pattern of seeing his works nominated for Hugo and Nebula Awards but not winning either though he won a Hugo short story at Torcon II for “Eurema’s Dam”.  He did receive a World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award, and he also received the Cordwainer Smith Foundation’s Rediscovery award. (Died 2002.)
  • Born November 7, 1934 Wendy Williams. You know I’ll work in a Doctor Who reference if I can.  She was in a Fourth Doctor story, “The Ark in Space” as Vira. Other genre appearances include Danger Man,  Leap in the DarkJack the Ripper and The Further Adventures of the Musketeers. (Died 2019.)
  • Born November 7, 1950 Lindsay Duncan, 71. Adelaide Brooke in the Tenth Doctor‘s “The Waters of Mars” story and the recurring role Lady Smallwood on Sherlock in “His Last Vow,” “The Six Thatchers,” and “The Lying Detective”. She’s also been in Black MirrorA Discovery of WitchesFrankensteinThe Storyteller: Greek MythsMission: 2110 and one of my favorite series, The New Avengers.
  • Born November 7, 1960 Linda Nagata, 61. Her novella “Goddesses” was the first online publication to win the Nebula Award. She writes largely in the Nanopunk genre which is not be confused with the Biopunk genre. To date, she has three series out, to wit The Nanotech SuccessionStories of the Puzzle Lands (as Trey Shiels) and The Red. She has won a Locus Award for Best First Novel for The Bohr Maker which the first novel in The Nanotech Succession. Her 2013 story “Nahiku West” was runner-up for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and The Red: First Light was nominated for both the Nebula Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Her site is here.
  • Born November 7, 1954 Guy Gavriel Kay, 67. The story goes that when Christopher Tolkien needed an assistant to edit his father J. R. R. Tolkien’s unpublished work, he chose Kay who was being a student of philosophy at the University of Manitoba. And Kay moved to Oxford in 1974 to assist Tolkien in editing The Silmarillion. Cool, eh? The Finovar trilogy which I love is the retelling of the legends of King Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere which is why much of his fiction is considered historical fantasy. Tigana likewise which is wonderful somewhat resembles renaissance Italy. My favorite work by him is Ysabel which strangely enough is called an urban fantasy when it isn’t. It won a World Fantasy Award. Let’s not forget that he was the Toastmaster at ConFrancisco.
  • Born November 7, 1974 Carl Steven. He appeared in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock as a young Spock, thereby becoming the first actor other than Leonard Nimoy to play the role in a live action setting. Genre one-offs included Weird ScienceTeen Wolf and Superman.  He provided the voice of a young Fred Jones for four seasons worth of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo which can be construed as genre. His life didn’t end well. (Died 2011.)

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) ICONIC MODEL. Robert K. Jones chronicles “Jeffrey Catherine Jones’ Unknown Muse” in The Comics Journal.

You’ve seen her, but few people know her name.

She appears in some of Jeffrey Catherine Jones’ most famous paintings, notably The Wall (1977), Seated (1983), and the covers for fantasy books such as The Undying Wizard (1975). She was also the most prominent model for the idiosyncratic strip Idyl published by National Lampoon during the years 1972-1976. 

Yet, outside the artists’ circle of friends, almost no one knows anything about Jones’ most referenced, most enigmatic model: Sandi Zinaman (1952-2015), a librarian, artist and caterer who lived most of her life in New York state’s Hudson Valley…. 

(13) BUG OR FEATURE? “Why Doctor Who’s TARDIS Make its Iconic Sound?” CBR.com summons clicks with the question, “But is it actually supposed to, or is it user error?”

Any Doctor Who fan will instantly recognize the distinctive wheezing sound the TARDIS makes whenever it materializes or dematerializes. Variously dubbed the “vworp-vworp,” “vwoorp” or “vwoorpy” by fans of the franchise as well as several characters in-universe, the noise is as iconic as the time machine’s blue police box exterior.

For most of the show’s long run, fans and creators alike assumed the noise was simply part of the TARDIS, as intrinsic as its bigger-than-the-outside interior and temperamental, semi-sentient nature. It wasn’t until New Who and the Eleventh Doctor’s run that showrunner Steven Moffat invented an explanation for the sound effect — though some feel it is a rather dicey one. As with many factoids in the long-running, ever-changing universe of Doctor Who, there are plenty of canon occurrences that directly contradict this explanation, as well. So what is the truth behind the vwoorpy?…

(14) THEY PUT THINGS IN OUR EARS TO CONTROL OUR MINDS. WYNC’s On the Media did a segment on “The Science Fiction Origins of the Metaverse”.

When Facebook changed its name to Meta, after the Metaverse, many were quick to identify the term’s origin: Neal Stephenson’s 1992 cyberpunk classic Snow CrashBut the novel hardly paints an optimistic future—runway inflation, collapsed governments, and a maniacal media magnate who uses the Metaverse to, get this, destroy people’s minds. It begs the question: did Zuckerberg misread it?

This week, Brooke speaks with Jill Lepore, Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer, Annalee Newitz, former Editor-in-Chief of Gizmodo and science fiction author, and Gene Seymour, longtime cultural critic, to unpack the literary world behind the social media giant’s new name. They discuss why the tech moguls love science fiction so much, the perils of reading these “world-building” novels too literally, and how new forms of the genre today are already making the Metaverse look obsolete.

(15) PLOT HATCHED. My Retro Computer is in the business of selling PC’s in shells that look like early days home computers.

Do you remember your first home computer?

Was it a Commodore 64, Vic 20 or an Amiga? Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have a modern day PC in a retro computer shell?

Here at My Retro Computer we aim to do just that. We believe the PC market is boring and stagnated, it needs a new fresh approach – retro is the new modern.

Starting with the famous C-64 we aim to expand the range to include the Vic20, A-500 and possibly the spectrum ranges.

(16) VACUUM WRAPPED. The Late Show With Stephen Colbert didn’t waste any time in mocking SpaceX’s little problem: “Launch Pads Are The New NASA-Approved Diapers”.

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

2021 Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention

By Doug Ellis: The 20th annual Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention is now just over a month away. The convention will take place on September 10-12, 2021 at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center in Lombard, Illinois.  As usual, we will have auctions on both Friday (September 10) and Saturday (September 11) nights, and this year’s auctions will truly be fantastic. 

The Friday night auction features 200 lots of material from the estate of famed collector Robert Weinberg, while the Saturday night auction begins with 96 lots from the estate of Glenn Lord, literary executor for the Robert E. Howard estate, followed by 5 lots from the estate of author and Arkham House co-founder August Derleth, finishing up with several lots from other consignors.  And additional lots will be added to the Saturday night auction at the convention, to include material consigned there by convention attendees. 

Among the highlights in this year’s auctions are: 

  • A fine copy of the October 1933 issue of Weird Tales, featuring the Margaret Brundage’s famous Batgirl cover 
  • A beautiful copy of the August 1929 issue of Weird Tales, featuring Robert E. Howard’s “The Shadow Kingdom” – the first sword and sorcery story! 
  • A lovely copy of the February 1928 issue of Weird Tales, featuring “The Call of Cthulhu” by H.P. Lovecraft 
  • Numerous other issues of Weird Tales, including several Conan issues, many in gorgeous condition (likely publisher file copies) 
  • Robert E. Howard’s incredibly scarce first book, “A Gent from Bear Creek”; fewer than 20 copies are known to exist 
  • Several letters to Robert E. Howard 
  • August Derleth’s rarest book, “Love Letters to Caitlin”, of which fewer than 20 copies exist 
  • Clark Ashton Smith’s “Ebony and Crystal” – inscribed and signed by this legendary fantasist to his friend, Robert E. Howard 
  • A rare signed letter from Weird Tales editor Farnsworth Wright to one of Weird Tales’ few female authors, Greye La Spina, from 1925 
  • The manuscript for “Divide and Rule” by L. Sprague de Camp, which ran in Unknown 
  • A signed copy of “The Horror on the Asteroid” by Edmond Hamilton, the author’s first book 
  • Other signed items by H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, August Derleth, Otis Adelbert Kline, Dean Koontz, Max Brand, Fritz Leiber, Zorro author Johnston McCulley, Spider author Norvell Page and many others 
  • The first year of the pulp Astounding Stories of Super-Science 
  • The only issue of the Amazing Stories Annual from 1927, featuring “The Master Mind of Mars” by Edgar Rice Burroughs 
  • Complete runs of the pulps Unknown, Strange Stories and Tales of Magic and Mystery 
  • Many rare U.K. and Australian science fiction pulps and books 
  • Numerous Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft items 
  • Rare items by Clark Ashton Smith, including “The Star Treader and Other Poems,” “Nero and Other Poems” and the manuscript for “The Dragon-Fly” 
  • Many early Arkham House books, including Robert E. Howard’s “Skull-Face and Others”, H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Outsider and Others” and “August Derleth: Twenty-Five Years of Writing, 1926-1951” 
  • Frank Belknap Long’s rare “A Man from Genoa and Other Poems”, published in 1926 in an edition of less than 300 copies 
  • A complete bound set of the legendary fanzine, “The Acolyte” 

And much more! 

The complete auction catalog, along with images, is now available on our website

More details will be posted on our Facebook page.  

The website will also soon have details on absentee bidding, for those who can’t make it to the convention. 

But the auctions aren’t our only highlight!  Friday through Sunday, our massive dealer room will be buzzing, bursting with 180 six foot long tables, with roughly 100 dealers from the U.S., Canada and the U.K. displaying pulps, vintage paperbacks, science fiction, fantasy & mystery hardcovers, golden and silver age comics, original illustration art, movie memorabilia and more. There will be loads of SF books, pulps and art available from many dealers familiar to attendees of SF/fantasy cons, such as Greg Ketter/Dream Haven, John Knott, David Aronovitz, Jane Frank/Worlds of Wonder and many others.  

Our art show will feature a great display of art from the pulps Astounding and Black Mask.  As usual, our film programming, curated by Ed Hulse, will run Friday and Saturday, showing movies and serials based on pulp stories.  Our evening programming will include presentations on Edgar Rice Burroughs and Black Mask.  And Sunday morning will see New Pulp Sunday, programming devoted to the vibrant and colorful world of New Pulp organized by Ron Fortier of Airship 27 Productions.  And all attendees will get a copy of our fabulous convention book, put out by Tom Roberts of Black Dog Books. 

We hope you’ll join us for the fun and excitement at this year’s Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention!  For more info, contact Doug Ellis at pulpvault@msn.com

Pixel Scroll 5/31/21 I’m At The Godstalk, The Death Star, The Second Fifth Hotel, The Pixels Keep On Scrolling And Rolling Files As Well

(1) HANSEN BOOK FREE FROM TAFF. Another ebook is available from the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, #60 in the free library, Rob Hansen’s Faan Fiction 1930-2020: an exploration. Cover artwork adapted from Rob Hansen’s cover for his fanzine Epsilon #7, July 1981. Approximately 61,000 words. (TAFF hopes you’ll make a little donation to the fund if you please.)

In this combined critique and anthology, Rob Hansen discusses the phenomenon of fan fiction (in the fannish fanzine sense) with a particular focus on the UK. His commentary is interspersed with many examples from such diverse fan writers as John Berry, C.S. Youd (John Christopher), Leroy Kettle, David Langford, Mark Plummer, Bob Shaw, Ian Sorensen, James White, Walt Willis – and Rob Hansen himself, including previously unpublished work. There are several surprises.

From Rob Hansen’s Foreword:

One aspect of fandom only lightly touched on by me in Then was fan fiction. By which, of course, I mean fiction about fans and/or fandom. This is a thread that has been woven through SF fandom since it began, enduring almost to the present day, and so is worthy of consideration in that light. I’ll be looking at the people who wrote it and all its various forms and the purposes to which they were put. Inevitably, the quality of the writing varies wildly, with that of those who later went on to write professionally usually being a cut above the rest.

…Where possible the pieces of fan fiction reprinted herein to illustrate various types and forms – all by UK fans – were specifically chosen from those not already available. As a result, most will be things the majority of readers won’t have encountered before.

(2) SF ART COLLECTORS WILL SPEAK. Tomorrow on Comic Art Spotlight Doug Ellis joins a panel with three friends — Glynn Crain, John Davis & Victor Dricks — discussing SF/fantasy art.  All four have large collections of vintage SF art. They’ll be highlighting and discussing various artists and pieces in those collections, including creators like Virgil Finlay, Frank Kelly Freas, Ed Emshwiller, Wally Wood, Ed Valigursky, George Barr and many more.  The panel kicks off June 1 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern:

(3) PLONK YOUR MAGIC TWANGER. The Haffner Press’ two-volume edition of The Complete John the Balladeer by Manly Wade Wellman is available for pre-order.

John, whose last name is never revealed, is a wandering singer who carries a guitar strung with strings of pure silver. He is a veteran of the Korean War and served in the U.S. Army as a sharpshooter (in the novel After Dark, he mentions that his highest rank was PFC). In his travels, he frequently encounters creatures and superstitions from the folk tales and superstitions of the mountain people. Though John has no formal education, he is self-taught, highly intelligent and widely read; it is implied that his knowledge of occult and folk legendarium is of Ph.D level. This knowledge has granted him competent use of white magic, which he has used on occasion to overcome enemies or obstacles, but it is primarily his courage, wit and essential goodness that always enables him to triumph over supernatural evils (although the silver strings of his guitar and his possession of a copy of The Long Lost Friend are also powerful tools in fighting evil magic), while basic Army training allows him to physically deal with human foes.

Haffner recently posted this photo of artist Tim Kirk’s dropcaps for the book.

(4) FEELIN’ GROOVY. John Coulthart has a gallery of “groovy” sf covers in “The art of Mike Hinge, 1931–2003” at { feuilleton }.

Back in March I ended my post on the psychedelia-derived art style that I think of as “the groovy look” with the words “there’s a lot more to be found.” There is indeed, and I’d neglected to include anything in the post by Mike Hinge, a New Zealand-born illustrator whose covers for American SF magazines in the 1970s brought a splash of vivid colour to the groove-deprived world of science fiction. This was a rather belated development for staid titles like Amazing and Analog whose covers in the previous decade wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Gernsback era. Opening the door to someone like Mike Hinge, a graphic designer as well as a general illustrator, was probably a result of both magazines having undergone recent changes of editorship.

(5) HEVELIN COLLECTION UPDATE. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.]Just found out the University of Iowa’s “Hevelin Collection” Tumblr account, which posted pics of items from Rusty Hevelin’s collection of fanzine and other SFnal material (but has been inactive for the last several years), announced about ten days ago they’re officially suspending the Tumblr. (But past posts will remain online for the foreseeable future.)

But you can still see over 700 fanzines, etc., from the Hevelin Collection in the Iowa Digital Library: Hevelin Fanzines — The University of Iowa Libraries.

And rather than single pictures like the Tumbler account did, the IDL archive leads to scans of the full contents, so far as I’ve tested it. Probably a fair amount of overlap with Fanac.org and eFanzines.com, but always good to have fannish history backed up in multiple places.

(The IDL archive may, it occurs to me, be old news to those who keep up with fanzines past and and present more than I do. “Slight” is a polite way to describe my level of involvement these days. Still, news to me.)

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • May 31, 1990 — On this day in 1990, Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall premiered. It starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox, and Michael Ironside. It’s rather loosely based on Philip K. Dick‘s “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” story. Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon and Gary Goldman wrote the screenplay. It finished second at Chicon V for Best Dramatic Presentation to Edward Scissorhands.  Most critics liked it well-enough though a number of feminist critics thought it excessively violent towards women. It currently holds a seventy-eight percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 31, 1893 – Elizabeth Coatsworth.  Newbery Medal for The Cat Who Went to Heaven (1930).  Four “incredible tales” for adults; four books of poetry; ninety in all; memoir Personal Geography.  (Died 1986) [JH]
  • Born May 31, 1895 — George R. Stewart. As recently noted in the Scroll, his 1949 novel Earth Abides won the first International Fantasy Award in 1951. They were a British award and the first one, this very one, was given at Festivention. Other genre works would include Man, An Autobiography and Storm which is at least genre adjacent. (Died 1980.) (CE)
  • Born May 31, 1910 – Aubrey MacDermott.  Possibly the first fan.  He always said he was. Unfortunately, the supporting evidence is thin.  He may well have founded the Eastbay Club in the San Francisco Bay area around 1928.  Anyway, he was Fan Guest of Honor at Westercon XXXX (Oakland, 1987).  Here is his Origin Story as of 1990.  (Died 1996) [JH]
  • Born May 31, 1921 – Arthur Sellings.  Six novels, fifty shorter stories, in Fantastic, Galaxy, Imagination, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, NebulaNew WorldsNew WritingWorlds of Tomorrow. Antiquarian, book & art dealer.  (Died 1968) [JH]
  • Born May 31, 1930 — Gary Brandner. Best remembered for his werewolf trilogy of novels, The Howling, of which the first was very loosely made into a film. He wrote the script for Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf. The fourth film of the series, Howling IV: The Original Nightmare, is actually almost an accurate adaptation of the first novel. He wrote a lot of other horror and penned the novelization of Cat People. (Died 2013.) (CE) 
  • Born May 31, 1942 – Brian Burley.  Active fan in Ohio and New York.  Co-founded Marcon.  In 1979 he was in FISTFA (Fannish Insurgent Scientifictional Ass’n); here he is (with S.H. Craig and Pat O’Neill) on “Fandom in New York” for the Lunacon XXII Program Book.  Co-founded the Beaker People Libation Front, which Fancyclopedia III mildly calls “not entirely serious”; see here.  (Died 2006) [JH]
  • Born May 31, 1948 — Lynda Bellingham. She was The Inquisitor in the Sixth Doctor Story, “The Trial of The Time Lord”.  Other genre appearances include the Landlady in Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairy Tale, and one-offs in Blake’s 7Robin Hood and Julia Jekyll and Harriet Hyde. (Died 2014.) (CE) 
  • Born May 31, 1950 — Gregory Harrison, 71. I’m always surprised to discover a series didn’t last as long as I thought it has. He was Logan 5 in the Logan’s Run TV series which only lasted fourteen episodes. He was also in Dark Skies, twenty episodes before cancellation, as the voice of Old John Loengard, and had one-offs in Dead Man’s Gun (cursed object and that series actually lasted awhile), Touched by an AngelOuter Limits and Miracles. (CE)
  • Born May 31, 1961 — Lea Thompson, 60. She’s obviously best known for her role as Lorraine Baines in the Back to the Future trilogy though I remember her first as Beverly Switzler in Howard the Duck as I saw Back to the Future after I saw Howard the Duck. Not sure why that was. Her first genre role was actually as Kelly Ann Bukowski in Jaws 3-D, a film I most decidedly did not see. If you accept the Scorpion series as genre, she’s got a recurring role as Veronica Dineen on it. (CE)
  • Born May 31, 1977 – Cat Hellisen, age 44.  Fantasy for adults and children; free-lance editing; also archery, aikidô, figure skating.  Six novels, a score of shorter stories.  “The Worme Bridge” won the Short Story Day Africa award.  More recently in Fife she likes the forests and the fields and the Forth.  Has read Giovanni’s RoomFlatlandHerland, five plays by Aeschylus, Peter Pan, both Alice books, Les liasons dangereusesThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  [JH]
  • Born May 31, 1979 — Sophia McDougall, 42. She has a very well crafted alternative history series,  the Romanitas series, In which Rome did not fall and rules the world today. She has two SF novels —Mars Evacuees is sort of YA alien invasion novel; Space Hostages reminds of a Heinlein YA novel. (CE)
  • Born May 31, 1995 – Jeremy Szal, age 26.  One novel, thirty shorter stories.  Fiction editor at StarShipSofa 2014-2020 (Episodes 360-600).  Collects boutique gins.  See his review of Predestination at Strange Horizons here.  [JH]

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Half Full could be making a combined Alice in Wonderland and Simon & Garfunkel joke. Or not.

(9) WRITING PROMPT. From Agatha Chocolats:

Popehat suggests: “Cthulhu fhtagn exact change only.”

(10) SHAVER MYSTERY MAGAZINE ADDED BY FANAC. “If you’ve been hearing the words ‘Shaver Mysteries’ bruited about, now’s your chance to see what all the fuss is over,” says Fanac.org’s Joe Siclari. Check here: Shaver Mystery Magazine, by Richard S. Shaver. There are 7 issues of this semi-pro, related zine. 

Siclari further says, “Some might not consider this a fanzine because rumor has it that it was paid for by Ray Palmer and Ziff-Davis. However the Shaver Mystery stories were a subject of great controversy in fanzines. So it is of related interest. It definitely was not a money-maker. It seems to fit into the category we later called a semi-prozine. And the art! McCauley, Finlay…”

(11) JUMPING IN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Pepe The Frog creator Matt Furie who is trying to recapture his character from the alt-right by creating non-fungible tokens featuring Pepe and other of Furie’s characters that have sold for up to $1 million. “Matt Furie is trying to reclaim his famous cartoon Pepe the Frog — through NFTs”.

To Furie, the NFT realm is about more than coin. During the era of Donald Trump, extremist social media users adapted Pepe so often that the Anti-Defamation League deemed it a hate symbol. But the exploding world of crypto-art is allowing the cartoonist to reclaim a character who was never meant to stand for much beyond love, peace, hedonism and altered-state chillaxin’.

“The NFT world is new, and there are a lot of optimistic people creating cool things,” Furie says of his interest in exploring non-fungible tokens — unique digital files whose origins and ownership can be verified.“Pepe does not have the baggage here that he does in the ‘real world,’ and I like working with utopians and optimistic freethinkers. There are so many possibilities.”

(12) A SCHULZ CURIOSITY. Cavna has also written: “Three ‘lost’ Charles Schulz strips have been rediscovered. Do they show the adult Lucy Van Pelt?”To some, they resemble “Peanuts” characters — if Charlie Brown and the gang had ever grown up.

These rare curiosities intrigue and baffle even the experts. “They’re a puzzle to me,” says Jean Schulz, wife of the late cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, who drew them.

They are the seven black-and-white works of comic art from the mid-’50s collectively called the “Hagemeyer” strips. Four of them have appeared in books. The three other “lost” strips were found and purchased at auction in May 2020— but have never been widely published, according to the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center.

(13) IT’S IMPOSSIBLE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] From this week’s Nature: “First Nuclear Test Created Impossible ‘Quasicrystals’”.

SF is full of exotic substances from Cavorite to Corbomite. Now it has been discovered that the world’s first nuclear bomb test created ‘impossible’ quasicrystals.

The previously unknown structure, made of iron, silicon, copper and calcium, probably formed from the fusion of vaporised desert sand and copper cables. Quasicrystals contain building blocks made up of arrangements of atoms that — unlike those in ordinary crystals — do not repeat in a regular, brickwork-like pattern. They have symmetries that were once considered impossible.

Materials scientist Daniel Shechtman first discovered such an impossible symmetry in a synthetic alloy in 1982. He won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery. In subsequent years, materials scientists synthesised many types of quasicrystal,
expanding the range of possible symmetries. In the aftermath of the Trinity test — the first detonation of a nuclear bomb in 1945 researchers found a field of greenish glassy material that had formed from the liquefaction of desert sand. They dubbed this trinitite. The bomb had been detonated on top of a 30-metre-high tower laden with sensors and their cables. As a result, some of the trinitite had reddish inclusions: it was a fusion of natural material with copper from the transmission lines. The quasicrystal recently found from this trinitite has the same kind of icosahedral symmetry as the one in Shechtman’s original discovery.

(14) NOW IN 3-D. Nature also reports on “The most detailed 3D map of the Universe ever made”.

A survey of the southern sky has reconstructed how mass is spread across space and time, in the biggest study of its kind. The data provide striking evidence that dark energy, the force that appears to be pushing the Universe to accelerate its expansion, has been constant throughout cosmic history.

The Dark Energy Survey (DES) collaboration revealed its results in an online briefing on 27 May and in several papers posted online1.

…The researchers grouped the galaxies by colour, to get a rough indication of each galaxy’s distance from our own: as the Universe expands, galaxies that are further away appear redder because their light waves have stretched out to longer wavelengths. That way, the team was able to add a third dimension to its map.

Looking further away also corresponds to looking to the past, so a 3D cosmic map provides a record of the Universe’s history. By tracking how galaxies spread out over time, cosmologists can then indirectly measure the forces at play. These include the gravitational pull of dark matter, the invisible stuff that constitutes some 80% of the Universe’s mass and dominates the formation of galaxies and clusters of galaxies.

(15) DRONE WARFARE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] It’s not exactly a Terminator-style HK-VTOL, but the first autonomous wartime kill by a robot might have happened last year in Libya. Gizmodo reports on the story: “The Age of Autonomous Killer Robots May Already Be Here”.

…“The lethal autonomous weapons systems were programmed to attack targets without requiring data connectivity between the operator and the munition: in effect, a true ‘fire, forget and find’ capability,” the UN Security Council’s Panel of Experts on Libya wrote in the report.

It remains unconfirmed whether any soldiers were killed in the attack, although the UN experts imply as much. The drone, which can be directed to self-destruct on impact, was “highly effective” during the conflict in question when used in combination with unmanned combat aerial vehicles, according to the panel. The battle resulted in “significant casualties,” it continued, noting that Haftar’s forces had virtually no defense against remote aerial attacks.

The Kargu-2 is a so-called loitering drone that uses machine learning algorithms and real-time image processing to autonomously track and engage targets. According to Turkish weapons manufacturer STM, it’s specifically designed for asymmetric warfare and anti-terrorist operations and has two operating modes, autonomous and manual. Several can also be linked together to create a swarm of kamikaze drones.

(16) CLOCKING IN. CBS Sunday Morning did a segment about “Exploring the boundaries of time travel”.

Breaking the bonds of time has been a timeless pursuit in science fiction stories and movies. Will it ever become science fact? Correspondent Faith Salie explores the possibilities of taking a journey to the future, or the past, even without a souped-up DeLorean.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Cruella Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George, in a spolier-filled episode, says that the only way to get viewers interested in Cruelle DeVil’s backstory–“How does she become the person who wants to skin puppies?”–is to have her work for a boss even more evil than her.  Also the screenwriter warns the producer that if he wants all those groovy hits of the 1970s in the movie, he’d better have plenty of money for the rights.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, David Langford, Jennifer Hawthorne, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little.]

Pixel Scroll 4/4/21 Listen To Them, The Pixels Of The Night. What Scrolls They Make

(1) FALLING FORWARD. In the Washington Post, Annalee Newitz published an excerpt from their book Four Lost Cities: A Secret History Of The Urban Age, where they argue that civilizations don’t “collapse,” but slowly evolve into something else. “Civilizations don’t really die. They just take new forms”.

… But the historical record shows that reports of the end times always turned out to be wrong. “Barbarians” didn’t extinguish Rome: It still stands today, a vital and beloved city, and the cultures of its ancient empire influence populations across Europe and the Americas. Children still study Latin in school, and Silicon Valley executives quote Stoic philosophy. Elsewhere in the world, European colonialism and the slave trade left behind cultural ruins that can’t be explained away as “collapses.” They are open wounds, still smarting in the present. Over time, civilizations eventually morph into something else entirely, but they infuse future societies with their lingering traumas — as well as their hopeful ideals.

In truth, our apocalyptic stories are far too simplistic to capture what actually happens when a society melts down. As I argue in my book “Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age,” a civilization is not a single, monolithic entity, nor does it disintegrate during a momentary crisis. Instead, as we’re witnessing in the United States today, it changes without ever breaking completely from the past. It is far from obvious that a society ever really dies….

(2) DON’T TAKE THIS ART FOR GRANTED. The third installment of Doug Ellis’ look at the Science Fiction Book Club’s Things to Come is now live at Black Gate: “The Art of Things to Come, Part 3: 1961-1963”.

As I related in the first two installments of this series (Part One: 1953-1957, and Part Two: 1958-1960), like tens of thousands of science fiction fans before and after me, I was at one time a member of the Science Fiction Book Club (or SFBC for short). I joined just as I entered my teen years, in the fall of 1976, shortly after I’d discovered their ads in the SF digests.

The bulletin of the SFBC, Things to Come – which announced the featured selections available and alternates – sometimes just reproduced the dust jacket art for the books in question. During the first couple of decades of Things to Come, however, those occasions were rare. In most cases during that period, the art was created solely for the bulletin, and was not used in the book or anywhere else.

Since nearly all of the art for the first 20 years of Things to Come is exclusive to that bulletin, it hasn’t been seen by many SF fans. In this series, I’ll reproduce some of that art, chosen by virtue of the art, the story that it illustrates or the author of the story. The first installment featured art from 1957 and earlier, while the second installment covered 1958-1960. In this third installment I’ll look at the years 1961-1963, presented chronologically…

(3) TOO TOUGH TO ADAPT? Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson tries to understand “The Failure of American Gods and the Trouble With Neil Gaiman”.

… Some of the earliest Gaiman adaptations—like 2007’s Stardust, starring Claire Danes, and 2009’s charmingly stop-motion animated Coraline, from Laika studios—were warmly received. They may have been modest hits, but they’ve only grown in audience’s estimation over time. Perhaps most importantly, they’re well liked by Gaiman fans. Stardust, the story of a young, adventurous man and the grumpy fallen star who loves him, is such a loose adaptation of Gaiman’s book that it borders on a reimagining. The intent from screenwriter Jane Goldman and director Matthew Vaughn was clearly to try to fashion a Princess Bride–esque classic for a new generation. They fell somewhat short, but the result is still quite fun. It’s worth noting that while Gaiman describes visiting with Goldman and Vaughn as they worked on the script and giving his input on adaptive changes, he did not, ultimately have a screenplay credit, so it is unclear whether he had final say. 

Gaiman similarly did not have a screenplay credit when it came to Coraline. Based off one of Gaiman’s shortest and most overtly kid-friendly books, the story of a girl trapped in a creepy alternate reality proved a calling card for Laika and earned an Oscar nomination. 

After that, though—and following the mainstream geek-TV success he enjoyed writing episodes of Doctor Who in 2011 and 2013—Gaiman started getting more involved in adapting his own stories for film and television. The author had actually tried much earlier in his career to make it in Hollywood; he chronicled the frustrating experience he and Pratchett had trying to sell Good Omens in a piece of short fiction called “The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories.” Speaking with me about season one of American Gods—which was messy from the start, losing its first showrunner, Bryan Fuller, after its first year

(4) ZOOM FORERUNNER. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Isaac Asimov explains in his autobiography In Joy Still Felt that in April 1962, the University of Omaha asked Asimov to give “a lecture by phone” to students.

The phone company would set up a loudspeaker arrangement; I was to keep my phone open at a particular time; I was to be there waiting, they would call; I would be able to give my lecture, hear audience response, and so on.

It was an intriguing notion and it occurred to me that I might make my influence felt anywhere in the nation without having to travel a step, or, for that matter, without having to do more than sit in my easy chair in my underwear.

On April 7, therefore, I did it–and found that I hated it.  There was simply no use in giving a lecture that wasn’t live.  I had to see the audience, sense it surrounding me, get the response in full.  Talking a lecture into a phone, I decided, was like typing while wearing boxing gloves, or making love while wearing a tuxedo.

I rejected all further such invitations when I possibly could.

(5) STILL THINKING ABOUT IT. WIRED’s “Geeks Guide to the Galaxy” talks to authors who agree that “’The Dispossessed’ Is Still One of Sci-Fi’s Smartest Books”.

Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1974 novel The Dispossessed depicts a society with no laws or government, an experiment in “nonviolent anarchism.” Science fiction author Matthew Kressel was impressed by the book’s thoughtful exploration of politics and economics.

“After reading The Dispossessed, I was just blown away,” Kressel says in Episode 460 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “It was just such an intellectual book. It’s so philosophical, and it was so different from a lot of the science fiction I had read before that. It made me want to read more of Le Guin’s work.”

Science fiction author Anthony Ha counts The Dispossessed as one of his all-time favorite books. “I would be hard pressed to think of another novel that made as strong an impression on me,” he says. “I was insufferable about it. I put quotes in my email signatures, and I identified as an anarchist for several years after that.”…

(6) DRAWN THAT WAY. HBO Max dropped a trailer for Space Jam:  A New Legacy.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

April 4, 1968 –On this day in 1968, 2001: A Space Odyssey enjoyed its premiere in Los Angeles, California. It was one of a number of premieres for the film that week in New York City, Washington D.C., Sydney, Tokyo and Johannesburg. It would win the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at St. Louiscon. Other nominated works were Yellow SubmarineCharlyRosemary’s Baby and the “Fallout” episode of the Prisoner series. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born April 4, 1902 – Stanley Weinbaum.  Had he only written “A Martian Odyssey”, it would have been enough for us: possibly first (1934) to present a character who thinks like a human being, or better than a human being, but is not a human being – as John Campbell later called for.  Three novels, two dozen shorter stories, a dozen poems for us; did not live three dozen years.  Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award.  (Died 1935) [JH]
  • Born April 4, 1943 – Ted Atwood, F.N., age 78.  Co-chaired Boskone 35 (with wife Bonnie).  Fan Guest of Honor (with BA), Albacon 2001.  Treasurer, Noreascon 4 the 62nd Worldcon.  Art Show, Albacon 2014.5 (w/BA) and elsewhere.  Audio recording of SF events.  Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service award).  [JH]
  • Born April 4, 1943 – Paulette Jiles, age 78.  Two novels for us; a dozen other books, poems, travel among the Cree and Ojibwe, memoir.  Governor General’s Award for English Poetry (PJ then living in Canada), Lowther and Lampert Awards, Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.  Sings alto.  “I came upon the master, Jack Vance.  Next to Bradbury, of course.”  [JH]
  • Born April 4, 1945 – Katherine Neville, age 76.  Three novels, one shorter story for us.  Various best-seller lists e.g. NY TimesUSA TodayPublishers WeeklyWall Street Journal.  Nautilus Silver Award.  Turkish Cultural Ministry Medallion of Merit.  Has been a fashion model, photographer, portraitist, Bank of America vice-president.  Was given a porcelain rat angel when pet rat Rosie died, looks like the work of California artist Yanna but I haven’t asked.  [JH]
  • Born April 4, 1948 Dan Simmons, 73. He’s the author of the Hyperion Cantos and the Ilium/Olympos cycles. I’m reasonably sure that I’ve read some of the Hyperion Cantos of The Fall of Hyperion won a Hugo Award but I’ll be damned if I remember it clearly now. If you like horror, Song of Kali which won a World Fantasy Award is highly recommended. (CE) 
  • Born April 4, 1952 Cherie Lunghi, 69. Her fame arises from her role as Guinevere in Excalibur. (I saw Excalibur in a 1920s-built theater on a warm summer night with hardly anyone there.) She was also Baroness Frankenstien (Victor’s Mother) in Kenneth Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. She was also in The Lady’s Not for Burning as Jennet Jourdemayne. (CE) 
  • Born April 4, 1952 – Tim White.  Two hundred fifty covers, ninety interiors for us; record covers, magazine illustrations, jewelry.  Five artbooks e.g. TW.  Here is The Other Side of the Sky.  Here is Between Planets.  Here is Wizard.  Here is Nine Princes in Amber.  Here is the Sep 94 Interzone.  (Died 2020)
  • Born April 4, 1959 Phil Morris, 62. His first acting role was on the “Miri” episode of Trek as simply Boy. He was the Sam the Kid on several episodes of Mr. Merlin before returning to Trek fold as Trainee Foster in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Next interesting role is voicing Vandal Savage on a three part Justice League Unlimited story called “The Savage Time”, a role he reprised for Justice League: Doom. No, I’ve not forgotten that he was on Mission: Impossible as Grant Collier. He also played the Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz) on Smallvillie. Currently He’s Silas Stone on Doom Patrol and no, I didn’t spot that was him in that role. (CE) 
  • Born April 4, 1959 – Ahmed Khan, age 62.  Two collections; here is Another Mosque Among the Stars (cover by L. Kiruganti).  Thirty short stories.  Interviewed Tanya Huff in Strange Horizons.  Four anthologies.  Links to some of his work, fiction and non, in and out of our field, here.  [JH]
  • Born April 4, 1965 Robert Downey Jr.,  56, Iron Man in the Marvel Universe film franchise. Also a rather brilliant Holmes in Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Also voicing James Barris in an animated adaption of Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly. Yes, he’s plays the title role in Dolittle which despite having scathing critical reviews has a rather superb seventy-six rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. (CE)
  • Born April 4, 1967 Xenia Seeberg, 54. She is perhaps best known for her role as Xev Bellringer in Lexx, a show’s that’s fantastic provided you can see in its uncensored form. I’ve also see she played Muireann In Annihilation Earth, Noel in So, You’ve Downloaded a Demon, uncredited role in Lord of The Undead, and Sela In the “Assessment” episode of Total Recall 2070. (CE) 
  • Born April 4, 1968 Gemma Files, 53. She’s a Canadian horror writer, journalist, and film critic. Her Hexslinger series now at three novels and a handful of stories is quite fun. It’s worth noting that she’s a prolific short story writer and four of them have been adapted as scripts for The Hunger horror series. She won a Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic for Experimental Film. (CE) 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Off the Mark has a holiday-themed joke that’s a perfect match for my copyediting skills.

(10) TALK OF THE TOWN. Fanac.org has added an audio recording of the 1969 GoH speech given by artist Jack Gaughan at Boskone – two years after he won both the Best Pro and Best Fan Artist Hugos.

The talk is entertaining, and it is so very clear that Jack is among his friends in his chosen place. From the YouTube writeup: “…is both entertaining and thoughtful, interspersed with sharply witty comments.

He quotes from Leonardo Da Vinci, and teases his friends, some in the room, including Isaac Asimov, Ed Emsh and Donald Wollheim. He starts with a recounting of the problems faced by female artists like his wife, Phoebe.  He tells anecdotes about his experiences as an illustrator,  teases Lester del Rey, and compares the lives of artists today to the lives of artists 500 years ago.  Jack is frank about his own feelings on science fiction and science fiction illustration. It’s chatty, low key, entertaining and comfortable and a marvelous window into an important figure in the field, lost far too soon…Thanks to the New England Science Fiction Society (NESFA) and Rick Kovalcik for providing the recording. Thanks to Andrew Porter for providing photos and to Dr. Gandalf for digitization.

(11) WHAT GOES UP MUST…WHAT? WIRED tags along to ask questions while “Physicists Learn to Superfreeze Antimatter (Hint: Pew Pew!)”

…Just as you can’t exactly take their temperature, you can’t point a radar gun at antihydrogen atoms, either. Antihydrogen generally flits around at about 100 meters per second, says Fujiwara, and the ultracool atoms move at just about 10 meters per second. “If you’re fast enough, you could almost catch the atom as it passed by,” he says. (It would annihilate one of your atoms, but you’re tough.)

At this point, it’s reasonable to ask whether this is all worth the trouble. Who needs very slow, very cold antimatter? The answer is, physicists. “Unless something is really screwy, this technique is going to be important, and maybe crucial,” says Clifford Surko, a physicist at UC San Diego who isn’t on the Alpha team. “The way I look at it as an experimentalist is, now you’ve got a whole ’nother bag of tricks, another handle on the antihydrogen atom. That’s really important. It opens up new possibilities.”

Those possibilities involve figuring out whether antimatter really does echo the physics of matter. Take gravity: The equivalence principle in the theory of general relativity says that gravitational interaction should be independent of whether your matter is anti or not. But nobody knows for sure. “We want to know what happens if you have some antihydrogen and you drop it,” Hangst says.

Wouldn’t you? Sure. But this experiment is hard to do, because gravity is actually a wuss. Hot, gassy things don’t fall so much as just bounce around. Antimatter would hit the walls of the machine and annihilate. “Gravity is so bloody weak you may not see anything at all,” Hangst says.

Slow that antihydrogen down to near absolute zero, though, and it starts to act more like a liquid than a gas. Down it blorps, instead of spraying all over. “The first thing you want to know is, does antihydrogen go down? Because there’s a lunatic fringe out there that thinks it goes up—theorists who say there is repulsive gravity between matter and antimatter,” Hangst says. “That would be pretty cool.”…

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. A young couple discover a strange phenomenon in their backyard that duplicates organic life in Burnt Grass, a short film about cloning.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, N., Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andreaw (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 3/5/21 Mr. Pixel, Can Scroll! How Droll!

(1) BUTLER HONORED. GeekWire, a site with roots in Seattle, took a strong interest in today’s news of a “Mars rover landing site named after Octavia E. Butler” because Butler spent her last years living in the Seattle area.

Alan Boyle, who wrote the story, is a long-time science fiction fan as well and hosts a relatively new science fiction podcast, Fiction Science, which looks at the intersection of science/technology and science fiction. His co-host is writer and Clarion West graduate Dominica Phetteplace. Alan’s also written about Butler before.

Fifteen years after her death, Seattle science-fiction author Octavia E. Butler has joined an exclusive pantheon of space luminaries memorialized on Mars.

Today NASA announced that the Red Planet locale where its Perseverance rover touched down last month is called Octavia E. Butler Landing, in honor of a Black author who emphasized diversity in tales of alternate realities and far-out futures.

“Butler’s protagonists embody determination and inventiveness, making her a perfect fit for the Perseverance rover mission and its theme of overcoming challenges,” Kathryn Stack Morgan, deputy project scientist for Perseverance, said in a news release. “Butler inspired and influenced the planetary science community and many beyond, including those typically under-represented in STEM fields.”

Butler died unexpectedly in 2006 at the age of 58, after sustaining a head injury in a fall on a walkway outside her home in Lake Forest Park, Wash. She had moved to the Seattle area in 1999 from her native Southern California….

(2) BUTLER’S OLD NEIGHBORHOOD. “Octavia Butler’s Pasadena: The City That Inspired Her To Create New Worlds” on “Here and Now” at WBUR.

…One of host Tonya Mosley’s neighbors makes it a point to walk clear across Los Angeles every once in a while to free his mind and find inspiration in his surroundings. Mosley isn’t quite there, but she does enjoy a daily stroll along the majestic, tree-lined streets of Pasadena, California. Walking the same route every day is an exercise in staying present.

Pasadena is the kind of place where kids ride their bikes in the middle of the street and the manicured lawns and shrubs rival those of the Midwest. For Octavia Butler, one of the most celebrated science fiction writers of our time, Pasadena was the spark that lit her flame.

“There is something about this mix of urban and wild,” journalist Lynell George says. “[Butler] was constantly looking at these interactions of how we use, you know, wilderness in space and nature.”

The title of George’s book “A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky: The World of Octavia Butler” comes from Butler’s description when asked what it takes to write science and speculative fiction. The book explains that early on in Butler’s life, she used the limited world around her — only where she could get by on foot or by bus — to create new worlds and possibilities.

An “avid walker,” Butler journeyed around Pasadena and wrote down what she called “walk thoughts” in a notebook, George says. Butler examined the climate and noted small changes over time.

(3) JOHN VARLEY UPDATE. Now that John Varley is out of the hospital his partner, Lee Emmett, has added a several paragraph long update to “Sending Prayers to the Cosmos”.

John was discharged from the hospital February 28 with many instructions… Also included in his discharge package was a booklet, Heart Surgery Care Guide, with all the no no’s: No lifting more than 5 pounds; No using arms to push or pull; No lifting elbows above shoulder height; No reaching behind your back, above waist level; No driving.

He has a red heart-shaped pillow that he hugs to his chest when he coughs, sneezes, burps, laughs, hiccups, gets in and out of bed, stands up, or rides in a car in the backseat behind the front passenger….

Varley added a note of his own:

This will be brief as it is still hard for me to sit in a typing position, and my left arm doesn’t work very well. Since I’m a lefty this is a bigger problem for me than it probably is for you. They say it will get better.

I just wanted to add my thanks to the excellent report and appreciation Lee wrote, above. I thank you for the good vibes and wishes and karma sent my way during my recent travails. Yes, and your prayers as well, though I’m an atheist and don’t know quite what to do with them. Is anyone really listening? Maybe so. Can’t hurt to pray, anyhow.

I also need to send a special thank you to those who sent small donations along with the wishes. As you know, in the USA we have easily the best health care in the world … if you can afford it. I got wonderful care every moment I was at PeaceHealth hospital. Now the bills will start coming in. We pay for insurance (more than we can afford) but the co-pays can sometimes be deadlier than COVID. (For which we still haven’t been able to find a vaccination appointment.)

That’s all I can do now. I will have some observations and such a little later, when my arm stops trembling.

(4) ZOOMING THROUGH FANHISTORY. Fanac.org’s FanHistory Project Zoom Session for March 27 will bring you face-to-face with “The Benford Twins, Fandom and the Larger Universe with Greg and Jim Benford.”

Jim and Greg Benford became fans in the 1950s, and throughout a lifetime of science, professional writing, and extensive accomplishments, they have remained fans. 

In this Zoom session, they’ll talk about their introduction into fandom, their fandom over the years, and tell stories about the important and interesting people they’ve met. What influence has fandom had on them? Did relocation change their interactions with fandom? How have their professional lives influenced their fandom? Join us and find out (and expect a few surprises)!

To receive a Zoom link, please RSVP to fanac@fanac.org . 

(5) ADVICE FROM COURTNEY MILAN. Clarion West will host a free online workshop — “When and How To Quit Your Day Job with Courtney Milan” – on March 9. However, it’s probably too late to get in on it — when I checked the registration page there was a “sold out” message.

Quitting your day job is one of the biggest decisions you can make as a writer. How do you know if you’re ready? What if you make a mistake and you don’t have enough money? How stable do you need to be? What if you’re fired and don’t have a choice? What do you need to know beyond finances? This workshop addresses these questions (and brings up points you may not have considered) as well as common issues that arise when you transition from a day job that provides structure into freelance work where you’re the only boss.

(6) BRAND X. Peter Suciu lays out the reasons why “Scott Baio And Patton Oswalt Feuding On Social Media Should Serve As Warning Of How Not To Act” at Forbes.

…”Celebrity flare-ups on Twitter typically follow a couple of courses,” said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. “Some are personal brand-building efforts, which aim to draw attention to someone who believes the spotlight is passing them over by theatrically taking on someone with a far higher profile. Others seem more ethically-aimed, like historian Kevin M. Kruse’s takedowns of historical falsehoods that various public figures claim are true. Over time, such exchanges mostly follow highly predictable courses though the verbal slap-downs seem to keep people coming back. If it worked for Don Rickles, maybe Scott Baio can make a go of it.”

King references Scalzi in this article, which naturally caught John’s eye:

(7) ADKISSON OBIT. Michael George Adkisson (1955-2021) died February 7. The family obituary is here. He was editor/publisher of New Pathways magazine from 1986-1992. 

…Mike as everyone calls him, has a brilliant mind, loves art, writing, movies and science fiction. He was the founder, owner, editor and publisher of the science fiction magazine, New Pathways. The magazine got published from March 1986 to Winter of 1992. Being an artist himself, he provided much of the magazine’s artwork in the early issues…. 

About the impact of New Pathways the Science Fiction Encyclopedia says:

…The last issue appeared a year after the previous one and the magazine ceased at the height of its influence. It held a crucial place in the 1980s in providing a market for the alternate view of sf and Speculative Fiction. It was part of an evolution flowing from Scott Edelman’s Last Wave and on to David Memmott’s Ice River, C J Cypret’s Nonstop Magazine and Steve Brown’s Science Fiction Eye.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • March 5, 1938 — On this day in 1938, RKO first aired “The Bride of Death” with Orson Welles as  The Shadow. Welles prior to his War of The Worlds broadcast would play the role for thirty three episodes in 1937 and 1938 with Blue Coal being the sponsor. You can download it here. (CE)

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born March 5, 1853 – Howard Pyle.  Five novels touchng the Matter of Arthur (here’s one), another about Robin Hood; some folks groan HP toned fables down to make them suitable for children, others applaud his artistry as a retelling fabulist (in the original sense, not the later meaning a liar). Twenty-four tales in The Wonder Clock, one for each hour, with poems by sister Katherine Pyle.  Illustrator, of his own books and e.g. two by Woodrow Wilson while WW was a history professor; here is a Story of Siegfried – no, not by that James Baldwin.  Here is a mermaid.  (Died 1911) [JH]
  • Born March 5, 1936 Dean Stockwell, 85. You’ll do doubt best remember him as Al the hologram on Quantum Leap.   He had one-offs on Mission ImpossibleThe Night GalleryA Twist in The TaleOrson Welles’ Great Mysteries and The Twilght Zone. Anything I’ve overlooked? (CE) 
  • Born March 5, 1942 Mike Resnick. Damn, it still losing him hurts. It’s worth noting that he’s has been nominated for thirty-seven Hugo Awards, which is a record for writers, and won five times. Somewhat ironically nothing I’ve really enjoyed by him has won those Hugos. The novels making my list are his John Justin Mallory detective novels, The Red Tape War (with Jack L. Chalker & George Alec Effinger), and, yes it’s not really genre, Cat on a Cold Tin Roof. (Died 2020.) (CE)
  • Born March 5, 1952 Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden, 69. She’s  better known by her pen names of Robin Hobb and Megan Lindholm.  I’m reasonably sure the first thing I read and enjoyed by her was Wizard of the Pigeons, but The Gypsy with Steven Brust was equally enjoyable and had the added bonus of a Boiled in Lead soundtrack.  What’s she done recently that I should think of reading? (CE) 
  • Born March 5, 1946 – Phil Jennings, age 75.   Seven novels, seventy shorter stories.  His work has been called “pyrotechnical … [his] exuberance is intermittently chaotic.”  [JH]
  • Born March 5, 1955 Penn Jillette, 66. Performed on Babylon 5 in the episode scripted by Neil Gaiman titled “Day of The Dead” as part of Penn & Teller who portrayed comedians Rebo and Zooty. It’s one of my favorite episodes of the series. Also he had a recurring role on Sabrina the Teenage Witch as Drell, the head of the Witches’ Council. He’s been in Fantasia 2000Toy StoryFuturama: Into the Wild Green YonderSharknado 3: Oh Hell No!Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanVR.5Space Ghost Coast to Coast and most recently Black Mirror. (CE) 
  • Born March 5, 1955 – Hejja Attila.  (Personal name last, Hungarian style.)  Twoscore covers, a few interiors.  Here is The Hugo Winners, vol. 1.  Here is The Web Between the Worlds.  Here is Stepsons of Terra. Here is The Wrong End of Time.  (Died 2007) [JH]
  • Born March 5, 1959 – Howard Hendrix, Ph.D., age 62.  Six novels, twoscore shorter stories, half a dozen poems (one had a Dwarf Star Award from SF Poetry Ass’n); three anthologies; book reviews in NY Review of SF.  Professor of English at Cal. State Univ., Fresno. [JH]
  • Born March 5, 1974 Matt Lucas, 47. He played Nardole, a cyborg,  who was a companion to the Twelfth Doctor.  He is the only regular companion introduced under Steven Moffat to have never died on screen. He provided the voice of Sparx on Astro Boy, and was Tweedledee and Tweedledum in Alice through the Looking Glass. (CE) 
  • Born March 5, 1976 – Katy Stauber, age 45.  Three novels, two shorter stories; two anthologies with Chester Hoster (Futuristica vols I & II).  Has read IvanhoeThe Jungle BookDon Quixote, Lucifer’s HammerMetamorphoses, The Aeneid, four Shakespeare plays, three books by Dickens, two by Stevenson, five by Vonnegut, eighteen by Wodehouse (that’s not too many), The Stranger.  [JH]
  • Born March 5, 1984 – Ashley Hope Pérez, Ph.D., age 37.  Professor of world literatures at Ohio State Univ.  One novel for us, two others (Out of Darkness School Lib’y Journal and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year; Printz Honor, Tomás Rivera Mexican-American Children’s Book Award) .  She says “I believe in writing that reflects the uniqueness and diversity of lives lived in any given community, regardless of the background of the author.”  [JH]
  • Born March 5, 1986 Sarah J. Maas, 35. Author of the Throne of Glass series wherein Cinderella is stone cold assassin, and one I‘ve not sampled yet. If you’re so inclined, there’s A Court of Thorns and Roses Coloring Book. Really. Truly.  (CE)

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) KICKSTARTER IS IMMINENT. Edward Willett is launching a Kickstarter March 9 to fund Shapers of Worlds: Volume II, an anthology featuring top talents in the industry including Kelley Armstrong, Marie Brennan, Garth Nix among others who were guests during the second year of Edward Willett’s podcast, The Worldshapers. The appeal launches March 9 at 12 noon CST – interested fans can go to the pre-launch page (which will become the project page) to sign up to be notified when it opens.

If it funds, Shapers of Worlds Volume II will feature new fiction from Kelley Armstrong, Marie Brennan, Helen Dale, Candas Jane Dorsey, Lisa Foiles, Susan Forest, James Alan Gardner, Matthew Hughes, Heli Kennedy, Lisa Kessler, Adria Laycraft, Ira Nayman, Garth Nix, Tim Pratt, Edward Savio, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Jeremy Szal, and Edward Willett, plus stories by Jeffrey A. Carver, Barbara Hambly, Nancy Kress, David D. Levine, S.M. Stirling, and Carrie Vaughn. Among those authors are winners and nominees for every major science fiction and fantasy literary award, plus several international bestsellers.

Backers’ rewards offered by the authors include some 100 signed books (including limited editions), Tuckerizations (a backer’s name used as a character name), ready-to-hang photographs, audiobooks, bookplates, and more.

Shapers of Worlds Volume II is a follow-up to Shapers of Worlds, successfully Kickstarted one year ago.

(12) THE CAPITAL OF THE INSUBORDINATION. Denver author team O.E. Tearmann’s work includes the queer cyberpunk Aces High, Jokers Wild series which to date includes five novels and two short story collections. The fifth novel, Draw Dead, was released March 3.

Their books include strong themes of diversity and found family, providing a surprisingly hopeful take on a dystopian future. Bringing their own experiences as a marginalized author together with flawed but genuine characters, Tearmann’s work has been described as “Firefly for the dystopian genre.”

“Aidan Headly never wanted to be the man giving orders. That’s fine with the Democratic State Force base he’s been assigned to command: they don’t like to take orders. Nicknamed the Wildcards, they used to be the most effective base against the seven Corporations owning the former United States in a war that has lasted over half a century. Now the Wildcards are known for creative insubordination, chaos, and commanders begging to be reassigned. Aidan is their last chance. If he can pull off his assignment as Commander and yank his ragtag crew of dreamers and fighters together, maybe they can get back to doing what they came to do: fighting for a country worth living in. Life’s a bitch. She deals off the bottom of the deck. But you play the hands you’re given.

(13) ON A ROLL. Sff art collector Doug Ellis recalls for Facebook readers details of a delightful six-week run acquiring multiple works by Virgil Finlay.  

In last week’s Finlay Friday, I told the tale of how, back in the last week of March 2005, I’d acquired 15 Virgil Finlay originals from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” It was an incredible purchase, but within six weeks it led to my acquisition of five more Finlay originals. Needless to say, that six week period was the greatest Finlay run of my collecting career….

(14) CHARGE! BBC Future discusses “The battery invented 120 years before its time” and why it is an idea whose time has come.

…It was the early 1900s, and the driver of this particular car was Thomas Edison. While electric cars weren’t a novelty in the neighborhood, most of them relied on heavy and cumbersome lead-acid batteries. Edison had outfitted his car with a new type of battery that he hoped would soon be powering vehicles throughout the country: a nickel-iron battery. Building on the work of the Swedish inventor Ernst Waldemar Jungner, who first patented a nickel-iron battery in 1899, Edison sought to refine the battery for use in automobiles….

…But more than a century later, engineers would rediscover the nickel-iron battery as something of a diamond in the rough. Now it is being investigated as an answer to an enduring challenge for renewable energy: smoothing out the intermittent nature of clean energy sources like wind and solar. And hydrogen, once considered a worrisome byproduct, could turn out to be one of the most useful things about these batteries….

Conventional batteries, such as those based on lithium, can store energy in the short-term, but when they’re fully charged they have to release any excess or they could overheat and degrade. The nickel-iron battolyser, on the other hand remains stable when fully charged, at which point it can transition to making hydrogen instead.

“[Nickel-iron batteries] are resilient, being able to withstand undercharging and overcharging better than other batteries,” says John Barton, a research associate at the School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering, Loughborough University in the UK, who also researches battolysers. “With hydrogen production, the battolyser adds multi-day and even inter-seasonal energy storage.”

Besides creating hydrogen, nickel-iron batteries have other useful traits, first and foremost that they are unusually low-maintenance. They are extremely durable, as Edison proved in his early electric car, and some have been known to last upwards of 40 years. The metals needed to make the battery – nickel and iron – are also more common than, say, cobalt which is used to make conventional batteries….

(15) HUSH-A-BOOM. BBC Reel hosts a video about“The mystery of Siberia’s exploding craters”.

On a remote peninsular in the Arctic circle, enormous wounds are appearing in the permafrost and have started to worry scientists. Research teams from Russia and the United States are racing to find out what this means for Siberia, and potentially the rest of the world. Based on the BBC Future article ‘The mystery of Siberia’s exploding craters‘.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Fanac.org has posted video of last month’s Fan History Zoom panel “An Anecdotal History of Southern Fandom” with Janice Gelb, Guy Lillian III, Bill Plott, and Toni Weiskopf.

This Fan History Zoom (February 2021) explores the last 50-60 years of Southern US Fandom, through anecdotes and personal experiences. From Bill Plott with over 60 years of experience to Toni Weisskopf with a mere 40, the speakers share cherished memories and their thoughts on the nature of Southern Fandom. They speak about conventions, both regional and Worldcons, awards and traditions, bigger than life personalities, and fanzines. At the heart of it all, lies the hospitality and inclusiveness of Southern Fandom. There’s also a brief appearance by Jim Benford on the topic of his early fanzines, and an interesting Q&A session with the audience.

Here’s a sample anecdote, about Joe Celko, a Southern fan who shaved his head and wore a goatee one before that was a popular look: “At one party Kelly Freas actually drew on the back of his head his face while he was asleep…”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Rich Lynch, Daniel Dern, Paul Riddell, Michael Toman, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Frank Catalano, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 2/15/21 A Hit!
A Palpatine Hit!

(1) INVESTIGATION OF BAEN’S BAR. [Item by rcade.] Jason Sanford has published an investigative report on the disturbing number of right-wing users calling for political violence on Baen’s Bar, the private message board of the SF/F publisher Baen Books. “Baen Books Forum Being Used to Advocate for Political Violence”, a public post on Patreon.  

Some of the users advocating violence are even site moderators.

A moderator with the username Theoryman wrote, “As I’ve already pointed out, rendering ANY large city is uninhabitable is quite easy… And the Left lives in cities. The question is just how many of its inhabitants will survive…” Theoryman later in the thread suggested shooting transformers in cities with high-power rifles to make the cities “uninhabitable until restored,” adding in another post that “The point is to kill enough of them that they can not arise for another 50 years… or more.” …

[T]his user is a moderator for Baen’s Bar, meaning the publishing company selected this user to monitor and manage discussions on their forum.

While stating that he does not believe Baen Books endorses the calls for violence hosted on its forum, Sanford has questions he’d like Baen publisher Toni Weisskopf to be asked when she is the guest of honor at Worldcon this year.

During this year’s interview I’d really like Weisskopf to be asked about her company’s private forum being used to advocate for political violence. Does she find this acceptable? Does she condone these types of statements? Why did Baen Books previously ban some topics from their forum but doesn’t currently ban advocacy of political violence?

(2) RESPONSES TO SANFORD’S ARTICLE. There’s been an outpouring of response. Here is just a small sampling.

Marie Brennan:

Christopher Hensley on Facebook:

Well, I guess it’s time to burn this bridge. This is the last of a long chain of harmful behavior by Baen Books, and their Editor Toni Weisskopf. Set aside the political affiliations of the authors being mentioned. Baen’s stable is built around authors with a documented history of harassment. They are what’s known as missing stairs…

Even Publishers Weekly tweeted the link.

Jon Del Arroz tried to add a comment to the discussion on Sanford’s Patreon page – it’s gone now. “Helicopter rides” is a common right-wing reference to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s use of “death flights” to murder opponents.

Jason Sanford tweeted this update:

(3) REDISCOVERING SF BOOK CLUB ART. The second part of Doug Ellis’ series looking at the art of “Things to Come” (the newsletter of The Science Fiction Book Club) has now gone live over at Black Gate. This time he covers 1958-1960, which includes seldom seen work by Virgil Finlay: “The Art of Things to Come, Part 2: 1958-1960”.

The bulletin of the SFBC, Things to Come, which announced the featured selections available and alternates, sometimes just reproduced the dust jacket art for the books in question. However, in many cases the art was created solely for the bulletin, and was not used in the book or anywhere else. Nearly all of the art for the first 20 years of Things to Come is exclusive to that bulletin, and as a result hasn’t been seen by many SF fans. In this series, I’ll reproduce some of that art, chosen by virtue of the art, the story that it illustrates or the author of the story. The first installment featured art from 1957 and earlier, while this installment covers 1958-1960, presented chronologically.

(4) HISTORY-MAKING ASTRONOMY. The latest episode of the Center for Science and the Imagination’s podcast The Imagination Desk features an interview with Katie Bouman, a professor at Caltech who was part of the Event Horizon Telescope team that took the first image of a black hole: The Imagination Desk: Katie Bouman.

Katie Bouman is an assistant professor of computing and mathematical sciences, electrical engineering, and astronomy at Caltech in Pasadena, California. In this episode, we talk about scientific collaboration, imagination, and Katie’s work on the Event Horizon Telescope, which produced the first image of a black hole by combining insights and methods from signal processing, computer vision, machine learning, and physics. 

The podcast is on the CSI website (which links out to the other services), Apple PodcastsSpotifyRadioPublic, and Libsyn.

(5) THE MOST IN UNINTENTIONAL HUMOR. The gourmands at ScreenRant serve fans the “10 Silliest 50s Sci-Fi Movies, Ranked”.

There is no shortage of silly science fiction films produced during the 1950s. With the fear and paranoia over the atomic bomb and its potentially monstrous mutations, the subgenre took the opportunity to explore some of the most outlandish stories, plots, and premises in cinematic history during this era….

It’s impressive to consider that this one is in effect last on their list. Imagine what must follow? (Plan 9 is number one.)

10. King Dinosaur

… Here’s the kicker. The giant monsters are led by King Dinosaur, which is really just an iguana forced to stand on its hind legs to appear like a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The foursome uses atomic power to destroy the iguana in the end.

(6) ROVER COME OVER. The Perseverance rover is set to land on the surface of Mars on February 18, 2021. JPL explains the challenges: “7 Minutes to Mars: NASA’s Perseverance Rover Attempts Most Dangerous Landing Yet”.

All landings on Mars are difficult, but NASA’s Perseverance rover is attempting to touch down in the most challenging terrain on Mars ever targeted. The intense entry, descent, and landing phase, known as EDL, begins when the spacecraft reaches the top of the Martian atmosphere. Engineers have referred to the time it takes to land on Mars as the “seven minutes of terror.” The landing sequence is complex and targeting a location like Jezero Crater on Mars is only possible because of new landing technologies known as Range Trigger and Terrain-Relative Navigation.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1996 – Twenty-five years ago at L.A. Con III, The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson wins the Hugo for Best Novel. Other Nominees fur this Award were The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter, Brightness Reef by David Brin, The Terminal Experiment  by Robert J. Sawyer and Remake by Connie Willis. It would also win the Locus Award for Best SF Novel, and be nominated for the HOMer, Nebula, Prometheus, Campbell Memorial and Clarke Awards.

(8) ALEXANDER OBIT. Wanda June Alexander, a freelance editor for Tor for 22 years (1984-2006), and a high school English teacher in New Mexico, died of cancer on February 14. One of the projects she worked on while with Tor was George R.R. Martin’s The Ice Dragon, a fully-illustrated children’s book.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born February 14, 1883 Sax Rohmer. Though doubtless best remembered for his series of novels featuring the arch-fiend Fu Manchu. I’ll also single out The Romance of Sorcery because he based his mystery-solving magician character Bazarada on Houdini who he was friends with. The Fourth Doctor story, “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” whose lead villain looked a lot like most depictions of Fu Manchu did. (Died 1959.) (CE) 
  • Born February 15, 1915 – L. Robert Tschirky.  Half a dozen covers, two interiors for us.  Art director for Encyclopedia Americana; travel articles (particularly Spain) in e.g. the NY Times.  Here is The Mislaid Charm.  Here is Without Sorcery.  Here is The Incomplete Enchanter.  Here is Lest Darkness Fall.  Here is a piece of bibliographic history.  (Died 2003) [JH]
  • Born February 15, 1915 – Ian Ballantine.  Pioneering publisher.  First President of Bantam.  Ballantine Books an early publisher of SF paperback originals; first publisher of authorized U.S. edition of Tolkien; a hundred Richard Powers covers.  World Fantasy Award, SF Hall of Fame (both with wife Betty Ballantine).  (Died 1995) [JH]
  • Born February 15, 1935 – Paul Wenzel, age 86.  A score of covers.  Here is the Nov 58 Galaxy.  Here is the Sep 62 If.  Here is the Dec 63 Fantastic.  Here is the Aug 66 Worlds of Tomorrow.  [JH]
  • Born February 14, 1945 Jack Dann, 76. Dreaming Down-Under which he co-edited with Janeen Webb is an amazing anthology of Australian genre fiction. It won a Ditmar Award and was the first Australian fiction book ever to win the World Fantasy Award. If you’ve not read it, go do so. As for his novels, I’m fond of High Steel written with Jack C. Haldeman II, and The Man Who Melted. He’s not that well-stocked digitally speaking though Dreaming Down-Under is available at the usual digital suspects. (CE)
  • Born February 14, 1948 Art Spiegelman, 73. Author and illustrator of Maus which if you’ve not read, you really should. He also wrote MetaMaus which goes into great detail how he created that work. And yes I know he had a long and interesting career in underground comics but I’ll be damn if I can find any that are either genre or genre adjacent. (CE)
  • Born February 15, 1951 – Lisanne Norman, age 70.  Nine novels, a dozen shorter stories.  Some activity with U.K. fandom.  Interviewed in Interzone.  “I trained as a teacher so I’m interested in everything….  used to read a minimum of 8 books a week….  it’s so easy now to be influenced while I’m writing that I don’t read nearly as much as before.  [Yet] it’s mostly SF I read.”  [JH]
  • Born February 14, 1958 Cat Eldridge, 63. Cat Eldridge is the publisher of Green Man Review and Sleeping Hedgehog. Cat, who’s had some severe health problems, likes to remind people, “Technically I died in 2017 and was revived in the same year. Repeatedly.” (CE)
  • Born February 14, 1971 Renee O’Connor, 50. Gabrielle on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. I’m reasonably sure that I watched every damn episode of both series when they aired originally. Quite fun stuff. Her first genre role was first as a waitress in Tales from the Crypt andshe’s had some genre film work such as Monster Ark and Alien Apocalypse. She’s also played Lady Macbeth in the Shakespeare by the Sea’s production of Macbeth. (CE)
  • Born February 15, 1959 – Elizabeth Knox, age 62.  Ten novels, two shorter stories for us; eight other novels; essays.  Co-founded the New Zealand literary journal Sport.  Prime Minister’s Award.  Companion of the NZ Order of Merit.  Interviewed in SFRA (SF Research Ass’n) Review.  Here she is on The Master and Margarita.  [JH]
  • Born February 15, 1975 – Erick Setiawan, age 46.  So far one novel, Of Bees and Mist (2009), about which there have been many yeas and nays – although I see little among us.  In April 2013 he said “I am feverishly finishing another book – my plan is to get it done by end of year.”  No blame, it’s hard work.  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) I HEART PLUTO. [Item by Steven H Silver.] Lowell Observatory is running the on-line I Heart Pluto this week.  It started yesterday and runs through Thursday, which is the 91st anniversary of the discovery of Pluto.  A full schedule can be found here including links to the talks already given.

Ron Miller will be speaking on Imagining Pluto on Wednesday and I’ll note that on his bio page, he is sitting with his Hugo Award.

(12) BOUND FOR THE ISS. “Russian cargo ship launched to International Space Station”ABC News carried the update.

An unmanned Russian cargo ship launched successfully Monday with a load of supplies for the International Space Station.

The Progress MS-16 cargo ship blasted off as scheduled at 9:45 a.m. (0445 GMT) from the Russia-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan and reached a designated orbit en route to the station.

It is carrying water, propellant and other supplies and is set to dock at the space outpost on Wednesday….

(13) WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? “Scientists accidentally found life under 3,000 feet of ice in Antarctica. ‘Never in a million years’ would they have expected it, the lead scientist said.”Yahoo! has the story.

… The video reveals two types of unidentified animals, shown here in a video from the British Antarctic Survey. The animals in red seem to have long stalks, whereas another type of animal, highlighted in white, looks more like a round sponge-like animal.,,,

The scientists say these animals are about 160 miles from the open sea.

“Our discovery raises so many more questions than it answers, such as how did they get there?” Griffith said in a press release. “What are they eating? How long have they been there?”

The scientists said their next step was to understand whether the animals were from a previously unknown species.

“To answer our questions we will have to find a way of getting up close with these animals and their environment,” Griffiths said.

(14) THE BRITCHES OF TOKO-RI. Jon Del Arroz continues to make his brand known everywhere.

(15) I’VE HEARD THAT VOICE BEFORE. There’s an app called PRAY where James Earl Jones reads The Bible. I’m wondering — if you don’t log in often enough, does he say “I find your lack of faith disturbing”?

(16) KAIJU-SIZED CREDENTIAL. Yahoo! is quite right – the “Godzilla Vs. Kong Trailer Is Even Better with a Cat”.

… A YouTuber that goes by JKK Films put his cat, Wayne, into the trailer, and it’s incredible. There’s something so special about a giant super-imposed kitty yawning in the background while the big monster boys fight….

(17) UP, UP, AND AWAY. Film Theory answers a serious scientific question: “Pixar’s Up, How Many Balloons Does It Take To Lift A House?”

Have you ever wondered if the house in Up could really float away on balloons? So have I but that is not the most INTERESTING question! You see, people have tried to figure that out before. What I aim to do today, Loyal Theorists, is figure out the actual COST of making a balloon powered flying house WORK! That’s right, we are not stopping until this house would really fly!

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Prometheus Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George says the characters in this Alien prequel are “the worst scientists you can imagine” because they take their helmets off in an alien cave because there’s breathable oxygen and try to escape a giant rolling spacecraft by trying to outrun it instead of leaping to one side.

[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, James Davis Nicoll, John Hertz, JJ, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Jason Sanford, Joey Eschrich, Michael Toman, Kit Harding, Cat Eldridge, Danny Sichel, rcade, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 1/18/21 Big Pixel In Little Scroll

(1) COPYRIGHT ALTERNATIVE IN SMALL CLAIMS ENFORCEMENT ACT. Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) sounds unenthusiastic about the new CASE Act which will apply to copyright infringement claims of up to $30,000 and operate outside of the federal court system: “Legal Affairs Committee Alert: CASE Act on Copyright Small Claims Becomes Law” at the SFWA Blog.

…The Copyright Office will set up the tribunal and determine many details governing its use that were not made explicit in the bill. The bill’s passage is good news in general for creators, but it is not a panacea for pursuing copyright infringement claims. Indeed, for most SFWA members, it will likely be of little use, no matter what procedures the Office establishes. That’s because the copyright infringer must voluntarily participate in the process after being notified of the claim. If the infringer is anonymous or difficult to trace, it may be impossible to serve notice of the claim at all. It also only applies to infringers located in the USA, which means it can’t be used to counteract the vast number of overseas pirating websites.

The tribunal will primarily be used in cases in which the rights holder and the infringer both see the benefit of a relatively low-cost method of resolving their dispute. In some cases, a credible threat of escalating the case to federal court may persuade the infringer to participate in the lower cost tribunal. However, it will still not be cheap. Aside from the fee for initiating a claim, whose amount has yet to be set, consulting with a lawyer to present a compelling case will still be necessary, or at least highly advisable. Several groups are looking at arranging lower cost or pro bono legal advice for these cases, and the law does include an option for law students and student legal clinics to act as representatives.

(2) MORE THAN ELIGIBLE. Nerds of a Feather canvassed its contributors and came up with a high-powered list of sff works and series that should be considered for the Hugo: “2021 Nerds of a Feather Hugo Awards Recommended Reading, Part 1: Fiction Categories”.

…The rules for inclusion were simple–just: (a) meet the eligibility criteria; and (b) be “award worthy” (i.e. good). Given the subjectivity of the latter, it should come as no surprise that the selections on our longlist reflect the spectrum of tastes, tendencies and predilections found among our group of writers. You’ll find selections ranging from the obscure and literary to the unabashedly popular and commercial, and from all corners and subdivisions of the genresphere.

That said, this is not – nor does it intend to be – a comprehensive survey of the field. Some books that are undoubtedly “award worthy,” for example, are absent for the simple reason that we haven’t read them yet. Thus we encourage you to think of this as a list of candidates to consider–alongside others…. 

(3) MACPHEE ESTATE SALE CONTINUES. Doug Ellis has put out Spike MacPhee Catalog #5 – SF & Fantasy Art, Books, Magazines & Ephemera Sale, with over 600 items for sale. It’s part of the Spike MacPhee estate sale of original art, books and other material.

From 1977 to 1989, the Science Fantasy Bookstore operated in Harvard Square in Cambridge. Deb and I hung out there when we were in law school and became friends with the owner, Spike MacPhee. Spike was a member of NESFA and also founded the small press, Paratime Press, which published several checklists in the 1970’s. He was also GoH at the first Arisia convention in 1990.

Besides reading SF, Spike was a devoted science art collector. From the late 1960’s into the 1990’s, Spike attended several SF conventions – among them Boskone, Lunacon, Nycon III, Noreascon, Discon, Torcon and Disclave – where he would often buy art at the art show auction. He also became friends with many SF artists of the 1970’s and bought art directly from them as well. Spike remained a passionate fan until he passed away on November 13, 2019.

The PDF catalog with roughly 250 images can be found at this link until January 24. (41 MB file, 114 pages.)

On Facebook, Ellis has posted an image from the catalog with an interesting history:

Among the art that will be that catalog is this piece, done by artist Rick Sternbach in 1974. It was drawn by him on the outside (left side) and inside (right side) of a pizza box, which apparently had contained a pepperoni-hamburger pizza from Franco Pizza House in Cambridge, MA. As related in the Minicon 15 program book from 1979, where Sternbach was Artist Guest of Honor, comes this: “Yessir, Rick, he surely loved to…do pizza box cover artwork. Spike MacPhee, one of the people living at Terminus (the center of a lot of this activity, and Rick’s hang-out, when he was in town), thought a lot of Rick’s work…and he thought that it was his duty to save all those pizza-box covers…”

Definitely a unique piece of art! The pizza box is now in two pieces, as shown in the scan. Pizza not included.

(4) N3F SHORT STORY CONTEST WINNERS. The National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) Short Story Contest Judge Jefferson Swycaffer announced the winners in the January issue of TNFF.

  • First Prize: The Azazel Tree, by Chris Owens, a tale of morality, of absolute good and absolute evil, and one hero who strives to uphold the good, despite the awful cost.
  • Second Prize: The Eternal Secret, by John Yarrow, Heroic Fantasy in the classical mold, a tale that might have been told of Odysseus or Jason, fighting monsters and solving riddles.
  • Third Prize: If Music Be The Fruit of Love, by Jack Mulcahy, a tale of music and love, and how a crisis calls upon us to rise to the level of heroism.
  • Honorable Mention: The Haunting of the Jabberwocky, by Charles Douglas, a truly Carrollian story of wordplay and madness, and how a hero, unarmed, has the greatest weapon of all.

There were twenty-one entries, science fiction and fantasy, mostly from the United States, four from Great Britain.

(5) BE THE FIRST ON YOUR BLOCK. [Item by Danny Sichel.] The Science Museum (UK) has combined their digitized collection with their API and their log of pages that have 0 views to create a web tool that will show each visitor a picture of an image that has never been looked at before. You can be the first person to see an object. “Never Been Seen”.

(I saw a page from a 1780 surgical manual and a seton needle and some 19th-century ebony-and-steel forceps)

(6) GERMANY’S OLDEST BOOKSELLER DIES. [Item by Darrah Chavey.] Of possible interest to File770 readers, since we tend to be bookstore fans. The H. Weyhe Bookstore, founded in 1840, is one of the oldest bookstores in Germany, founded before Germany was a country. It was purchased by Helga Weyhe’s grandfather in 1871, and has been in the family since then. Helga Weyhe worked at, and then ran, the bookstore since 1944. She passed away at the end of December or early Jan. at the age of 98. The New York Times has her story here.

(7) HERNANDEZ OBIT. Lail Montgomery Finlay Hernandez, a GoH of the 2014 World Fantasy Con and the daughter of pulp artist Virgil Finlay, died on January 13 from cancer at the age of 71.

She contributed remembrances to Virgil Finlay Remembered: The Seventh Book Of Virgil Finlay (1981) and Virgil Finlay’s Women Of Ages (1982) (see her foreword here: “Lail Finlay Remembers Her Father”) and was closely involved with the publication of The Collectors’ Book Of Virgil Finlay (2019). 

After her house burned down in November 2019 (killing her musician husband), a GoFundMe appeal was launched to help her and her daughter save what they could of her father’s art and papers. (See Pixel Scroll 11/29/19 The Scrolls of Our Teeth item #5.)

(8) LIGHTLE OBIT. Comics artist Steve Lightle died January 8. Yahoo! News has his profile:

As the artist for the popular comic “Legion of Super-Heroes” in the early 1980s, Steve Lightle made a living dreaming up the future, but his own was cut short by Covid-19.

Lightle, 61, died from cardiac arrest in a Kansas City, Missouri, hospital on Jan. 8, just three days after coming down with what he thought was a head cold and just hours after he was rushed to the hospital.

… Best known for his runs on “Legion” and “Doom Patrol” for DC and “Classic X-Men” covers for Marvel, Lightle became a fixture at conventions, never too busy to mentor the next generation. He came across as larger than life and drew visuals that were just as grand.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • January 18, 1952 –On this day in 1952, Tales of Tomorrow’s Frankenstein first aired on ABC. It would be the sixteenth episode of the first season of the series. It was directed by Don Medford. The episode starred Lon Chaney, Jr. in the role of Frankenstein’s monster and John Newland in the role of Victor Frankenstein. Lon Chaney, Jr. is credited here as Lon Chaney as he was in all his later work. He’s no stranger to playing The Monster as he played the role of The Monster in the Universal Pictures Ghost of Frankenstein a decade earlier. You can watch it here. (CE)

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 18, 1882 – A.A. Milne.  Talented cricketer; among his teammates Barrie, Conan Doyle (whose surname is really Doyle, not Conan Doyle, but never mind that for now), Wodehouse. Twoscore plays, six novels, poems, nonfiction, besides Winnie the Pooh (two books of stories, and usually including two of poetry although the Pooh characters aren’t in them), which nevertheless remains great fantasy, seems timeless, and shows we can fantasize princes or piglets.  (Died 1956) [JH]
  • January 18, 1920 Constance Moore. She gets Birthday Honors for being in the 1939 movie serial Buck Rogers in which she was Wilma Deering, the only female character in the serial.  Were there ever other female main cast characters in Buck Rogers? (Died 2005.) (CE) 
  • January 18, 1933 John Boorman, 87. Director who’s responsible for one of the best SFF films ever done, Excalibur with Sean Connery, and one of the worst with that also starred Sean Connery, Zardoz. (He wrote the novel for that one as well.)  He also directed the rather nifty Emerald Forest which Holdstock did a far better than merely good job of novelizing.(CE)
  • Born January 18, 1934 – Hank Reinhardt.  Author, editor, armorer, leading U.S. Southern fan.  Co-founded the first Atlanta and Birmingham SF clubs.  Fan Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 19, StellarCon 17, Archon 29.  Rebel Award andRubble Award; Georgia Fandom Award, later named for him.  Two short stories, one anthology, posthumous Book of Swords and Book of Knives.  After his first wife died, married fan and pro Toni Weisskopf.  (Died 2007) [JH]
  • Born January 18, 1935 – Eddie Jones.  Fanartist who developed a spectacular pro career.  TAFF delegate. Fan Guest of Honor at St. Louiscon the 27th Worldcon; Official Artist at Boskone 11, Guest of Honor at Mythcon 1982.  Did the Knight of Pentacles for Bruce Pelz’ Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck (see here; images and BP’s introduction here, scroll down for Pentacles, they come after Cups).  Eight hundred fifty covers, a hundred interiors.  Here is Vector 37.  Here is the Heicon ’70 Program Book (28th Worldcon).  Here is A Gift from Earth.  Here is City.  Here is R is for Rocket.  (Died 1999) [JH]
  • Born January 18, 1936 – Rhoda Lerman.  Two novels for us, four others, nonfiction, television, films.  One-woman play about Eleanor Roosevelt.  Cultural delegate on first U.S. delegation to Tibet.  Bred champion Newfoundlands.  NY Times appreciation (5 Sep 15) said “her imagination was eccentric … her books didn’t resemble one another.”  (Died 2015) [JH]
  • January 18, 1937 Dick Durock. He was best known for playing Swamp Thing in Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing and the following television series which ran for three seasons. His only other genre appearances were in The Nude Bomb (also known as The Return of Maxwell Smart) and “The First” of The Incredible Hulk. He shows up in Die Hard with a Vengeance in a subway scene. No, it’s not genre, I just like that film. (Died 2009.) (CE) 
  • Born January 18, 1942 – Franz Rottensteiner, Ph.D., age 79.  Publisher, editor, translator, critic.  Edited Quarber Merkur (SF journal named for the Quarb Ravine in Austria; Merkur = Mercury) since 1998.  Kurd Laßwitz Prize.  Translated into German e.g. Abe, Dick, Lem, Cordwainer Smith, the Strugatsky brothers.  Fifty anthologies, e.g. in English Views from Another ShoreThe Best of Austrian SF.  Ninety biographies e.g. Franke, Hodgson, Le Guin, Malory, Robbe-Grillet, for Das Bibliographisches Lexikon der utopisch-phantastischen Literatur.  Published eighteen volumes of Wells.  [JH]
  • January 18, 1953 — Pamela Dean Dyer-Bennet, 68. Her best novel is I think Tam Lin though one could make an argument for Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary which Windling claims is her favorite fantasy novel. Her Secret Country trilogy is also a great deal of fun to read. Much of her short stories are set in the Liavek shared universe created by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly. All of the Liavek anthologies  are now available on all major digital platforms. According to the files sitting in my Dropbox folder, there’s eight volumes to the series. They’re wonderful reading. End of plug. (CE)
  • January 18, 1960 Mark Rylance, 61. He was in Prospero’s Books, an adaption of The Tempest which I really want to see, The BFG and Ready Player One are the films he’s been in. He’s an active thespian  as well with plays of interest to us that’s he’s been being A Midsummer Night’s Dream at  Royal Opera House, Hamlet at American Repertory Theater and Macbeth at Greenwich Theatre to show but a few of his appearances. (CE) 
  • January 18, 1964 Jane Horrocks, 57. Her first SFF genre role was Pattern in The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, scripted off the Joan Aiken novel. A year later, she showed up in The Witches, scripted off the Raoul Dahl novel playing Miss Susan Irvine. She voices Black Widow / Mrs. Plum in Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride, and voiced Hannah in the late Ninties Watership Down. (CE)
  • Born January 18, 1984 – C.J. Redwine, age 37.  Seven novels, one shorter story for us; The Shadow Queen NY Times Best-Seller.  “If the villain isn’t worthy of my heroes, then the story no longer matters.”  Has read The Wizard of OzHamlet, a Complete Stories & Poems of Poe (read his essays too, folks), Anne of Green Gables, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, Gone with the Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird.  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Blondie has a take on ice cream that I hope is a fantasy.

(12) THE BREW THAT IS TRUE. Or maybe — Eats, Shoots, and Leaves? The Republic of Tea has some specials on offer: “Star Wars: The Mandalorian Teas”.

The Mandalorian and the Child continue their journey, facing enemies and rallying allies as they make their way through a dangerous galaxy in the tumultuous era after the collapse of the Galactic Empire. Sip our exotic, Limited Edition teas on adventures throughout your own galaxy. New Season Now Streaming on Disney+

(13) FIERY METAPHOR. Joseph Loconte considers “J.R.R. Tolkien’s Dragons: Exploration of Good & Evil” at National Review.

For its 1937–38 “Christmas Lectures for Children,” the Natural History Society of Oxfordshire announced forthcoming talks on coral reefs, birds, whales, horses — and dragons. The latter topic was taken up by J.R.R. Tolkien, a professor of English literature who had just published The Hobbit, an immensely popular book involving a dragon. Tolkien’s lecture, before an audience packed with children of all ages, tackled a decidedly adult subject: the problem of evil in the world and the heroism required to combat it.

Tolkien began, disarmingly, with a slide show of prehistoric reptiles, including a Pteranodon in flight, to remind his listeners that “science also fills this past with dreadful monsters — many of the largest and most horrible being of a distinctly lizard-like or dragonish kind.” These ancient creatures, he said, embodied legendary qualities found in dragon mythology. The dragons with whom he had an acquaintance “loved to possess beautiful things.” Greed and hatred motivated them. “And how can you withstand a dragon’s flame, and his venom, and his terrible will and malice, and his great strength?”

It probably was not lost on the children present that Tolkien’s mythical dragons sounded a lot like the people who inhabited the real world. The adults might have discerned a more ominous message. Tolkien delivered his lecture on January 1, 1938. Nearly a year earlier, on January 30, 1937, Adolf Hitler had officially withdrawn Germany from the Treaty of Versailles and demanded that its colonies be returned….

(14) DATA FIGURINE. EXO-6 has created a scale model of Lieutenant Commander Data. Twelve inches tall, $189.95. But do I want that face staring at me from across the room?

EXO-6 is proud to present their first 1:6 scale articulated figure from Star Trek™: First Contact – Lt. Commander Data.

When introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Data was a one-of-a-kind cybernetic organism, an artificial being that wanted nothing more than be just like the imperfect humans he served with aboard the Enterprise. In the film First Contact the Borg Queen gives him an opportunity to be more human than he ever thought possible, yet he rejects that hope in the service of loyalty to his friends and the rest of humanity.

Data is one of the most popular characters in Star Trek, and no other character better expresses the wonder of discovery that is the heart of Star Trek than this android with a soul. The EXO-6 1:6 scale figure of Data will not only embody the hopefulness of the character, but also bring an element of Brent Spiner’s performance into collector’s homes.

(15) GOT TO HAND IT TO THEM. Tadiana Jones and Marion Deeds both weigh in about Garth Nix novel at Fantasy Literature: “The Left-Handed Booksellers of London: Selling books and fighting evil”. Jones’ comments include —

…Nix was inspired to write The Left-Handed Booksellers of London (as he related in his acknowledgements at the end) by a fortuitous comment from a left-handed bookseller in Leith. He pulls on his memories from his first trip to the United Kingdom in 1983 (among other things, he hiked the Old Man of Coniston, a famous mountain in the Lake District) and his past experience working as a bookseller. It was both amusing and engaging as I realized just how many actual British landmarks he has woven into the plot of this novel. And also uniquely British foods — Branston pickle sandwiches were a revelation, and I don’t think I’ll soon recover from checking out pictures of stargazy pie.

(16) BATWOMAN. Did football overshadow the Batlight? “Javicia Leslie’s ‘Batwoman’ Debut Plummets 80% in Ratings From Ruby Rose’s” reports Yahoo!

Javicia Leslie debuted as the new caped crusader on The CW’s “Batwoman” last night, but her start didn’t shine nearly as bright (a Bat signal) as Ruby Rose’s. Sunday primetime was dominated by Fox’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints NFL Divisional Playoffs game, which ended just shy of 10 p.m. on the east coast. Due to the nature of live sports, the below Nielsen numbers for Fox should be considered subject to adjustment. Final numbers are expected later today. The new-look “Batwoman” managed just a 0.1 rating last night in the key demo and 663,000 total viewers. Back on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, Rose’s “Batwoman” debuted to a 0.5 rating and 1.8 million viewers — meaning last night’s Season 2 premiere was down 80% in the demo from the series debut. 

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Star Trek Beyond Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George says the producers of the third Star Trek Kelvin movie forgot the super blood and Carol Marcus from the second Star Trek Kelvin movie but thought that Starfleet would place a state of the art starbase right next door to an unexplored area teeming with bad guys.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, John Hertz, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Doug Ellis, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Danny Sichel.]