Pixel Scroll 5/18/22 Fili, Scrolli, Pixeli – I Liked, Scrolled And Pixeled — Fiulius Pixar

(1) ANIME CENTRAL RELAXES MASK POLICY. Anime Central is a convention taking place in Chicago from May 20-22. At the end of April the con committee was adamant that for ACen 2022 they’d be requiring all attendees to wear a mask and provide proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test result, and that this policy would not change.

However, their Covid policy has changed after all, reports Anime News Network: “Anime Central 2022 Reverses Mask Policy, No Longer Requires COVID-19 Vaccination or Negative Test”. ANN says, “An e-mail sent by and to Anime Central staff suggests that this was a decision made by the Midwest Animation Promotion Society (MAPS) following ‘lack of support from the venue’ and ‘last-minute communication.’”

Anime Central has changed its Covid policy to read:

…Our policies are based on current CDC Guidelines and align with the requirements of the Donald E. Stephens Conventions Center and state and local health authorities regarding large indoor events. Currently, verification of vaccination or proof of negative test are not required for admission to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center or Anime Central. We will continue to monitor the requirements and guidance from state and local health departments….

Face Coverings Required in Select Areas

In our recent vaccine and mask policy change announcement, we stated that face coverings may be required in some areas of Anime Central or at the request of our guests of honor at their events. We’ve received a lot of feedback for clarification on which areas and events will require a face covering and which do not. Face coverings will be required to enter:

  • All guest and panelist events
  • The Dances
  • The Exhibit Hall
  • The Artist Alley
  • The Gaming and Entertainment Hall

We strongly recommend wearing masks in all lobbies, hallways, public spaces, and restrooms. Our team will continue to do the best we can to help enforce this in our spaces, we ask that you also join in in masking even where it’s not required.

(2) A WARNING. “’Have we not loved you? Have we not cared for you?’: The Plight of AI in the Universe of Douglas Adams” examined by Rachel Taylor at the Tor/Forge Blog.

…When we think of the dangers of AI, we normally think of Skynet, HAL or AM. And sure, there is a non-zero chance that any Super AI might spend five minutes on the internet and think “ah, I see the problem. Where are those nuclear codes?” But honestly, if I had to place money on the science fiction writer who will prove most prophetic in depicting our future relationship with AI? Not Philip K. Dick. Not Harlan Ellison. Not Asimov.

Douglas Adams, all the way.

In the universe of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and its sequels across all media the relationship between humanity and the various computers and robots they’ve created is less apocalyptic warfare and more like a miserably unhappy marriage….

(3) ROSWELL VOICES. Here are the celebrity readers for this weekend’s 2022 Roswell Award event. Register for the free Zoom presentation.

The Roswell Award and Feminist Futures Award: Celebrity Readings & Honors recognizes outstanding new works of science fiction by emerging writers from across the United States and worldwide, including the winner of this year’s feminist themed sci-fi story. This thrilling show will feature dramatic readings by celebrity guests from some of today’s hottest sci-fi and fantasy shows and movies. Following the readings, the authors will be honored for their writing! 

(4) AURORA VOTERS PACKAGE. Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association members can now download the 2022 Aurora Awards Voters Package. Login (or join) at www.prixaurorawards.ca. Downloads remain available until voting closes on July 23.  Voting for the 2022 awards will begin on June 11.

Have you started reading works by this year’s finalists? We are pleased to announce that this year’s voters’ package contains either e-versions or links for every single one of our 2022 nominated works and is open to all CSFFA members to download.

The electronic versions of these works are being made available to you through the generosity of the nominees and their publishers. We are grateful for their participation and willingness to share with CSFFA members. Please remember, all downloads are for CSFFA members only and are not to be shared.

The purpose of the voters’ package is simple–before you vote for the awards, we want you to be able to experience as many of the nominated works as possible so you can make informed decisions.

(5) HEAR RHYSLING NOMINEES READ ALOUD. The second of three readings of the short poems nominated for the Rhysling Awards will be held on May 20, 2022 from 7:00 to 8:15 p.m. Eastern, live on Facebook via Zoom. tinyurl.com/Rhysling2

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association presents the annual Rhysling Awards, named for the blind poet Rhysling in Robert A. Heinlein’s short story “The Green Hills of Earth.” Apollo 15 astronauts named a crater near their landing site “Rhysling,” which has since become its official name.

Nominees for each year’s Rhysling Awards are selected by the membership of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. For 2022, 103 short poems and 78 long poems were nominated.

The last reading of the nominated short poems in the Rhysling anthology will be held on June 6, 2022 from 7 to 8 p.m. EDT. The readings, hosted by Akua Lezli Hope, are free and open to the public. 

(6) THE FIRST TRAILER FOR SHE-HULK. “You’ll like her when she’s angry.” She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, an Original series from Marvel Studios, starts streaming August 17 on Disney+.

(7) HIGHER LEARNING. In the Washington Post, Mary Quattlebaum interviews Dhonielle Clayton about The Marvellers, her YA magic-school novel. “’The Marvellers’ by Dhonielle Clayton features a diverse school of magic”.

… “So many people said it couldn’t be done,” said Dhonielle (pronounced don-yell) Clayton about a novel set in a school of magic. “How can anyone compete with Harry Potter?”

Well, Clayton proved them wrong. “The Marvellers,” the first book in her new middle-grade series, was launched this month.

The boarding school — called the Arcanum Training Institute for Marvelous and Uncanny Endeavors — is quite different from the Hogwarts of J.K. Rowling’s global publishing phenomenon. It’s located in the sky rather than a mystical land that resembles the Scottish Highlands. Young magic folks from around the world are invited to attend.

Clayton’s inspiration came from a real school, one in New York City’s East Harlem neighborhood, where she was a librarian.

“The kids there were from different countries, different cultures,” said Clayton, who lives in the city. “They didn’t see themselves in the fantasy books they wanted to read.”

So for the past five years, Clayton devoted herself to researching and writing a book that might reflect and connect with those students — and so many like them, around the world….

(8) THOUGHTS AND PREYERS. Giant Freakin Robot assures us, “The Predator Actually Looks Good Again In The Trailer For New Movie Set 300 Years Ago”.

…Prey will stream on Hulu starting Friday, August 5. While it will technically be a prequel to the rest of the Predator films, it will reportedly not directly reference any of their events. Besides, you know. Having someone from the same freaky alien species hunting people down and murdering them….

The YouTube intro says:

Set in the Comanche Nation 300 years ago, “Prey” is the story of a young woman, Naru, a fierce and highly skilled warrior. She has been raised in the shadow of some of the most legendary hunters who roam the Great Plains, so when danger threatens her camp, she sets out to protect her people. The prey she stalks, and ultimately confronts, turns out to be a highly evolved alien predator with a technically advanced arsenal, resulting in a vicious and terrifying showdown between the two adversaries.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2013 [By Cat Eldridge.] Ok I cannot do this essay without SPOILERS, so you are warned. Go away now if you haven’t read Ancillary Justice

Just nine years ago, Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie’s debut novel came out. And oh what a novel it is! It’s the first in her Imperial Radch space opera trilogy, followed by Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy. Breq is both the sole survivor of a starship destroyed by treachery by her own people and the carrier of that ship’s consciousness. What an amazing job Leckie does differentiating between those two characters.

Doing space opera that feels original is damn hard but she pulls it off here amazingly well. The very personal and the grand political are present here, balanced in a way and tangled together as well that is rarely done so intelligently. Genevieve Valentine of NPR in her review agrees with me saying that it is “A space opera that skillfully handles both choruses and arias, Ancillary Justice is an absorbing thousand-year history, a poignant personal journey, and a welcome addition to the genre.” 

Everyone in our community liked it as not only did it win a most deserved Hugo at Loncon 4, but it effectively swept the awards season garnering an Arthur C. Clarke Award, a BSFA Award, a Kitschies Golden Tentacle for Best Debut Novel, Locus Award for Best First Novel, a Nebula Award for Best Novel and a Seiun Award for Best Translated Novel. And it got nominated for a Compton Crook Award, Otherwise Award and Philip K. Dick Award.

The next two novels in this trilogy are just as stellar. Ancillary Sword got nominated for a Hugo at Sasquan, and Ancillary Mercy would get a nomination at MidAmericaCon.

The audioworks are narrated by Adjoa Andoh who appeared on Doctor Who as Francine Jones during the Time of the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors. They are quite superb. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 18, 1930 Fred Saberhagen. I’m reasonably sure I’ve read the entirety of his Berserker series though not in the order they were intended to be read. Some are outstanding, some less so. I’d recommend Berserker ManShiva in Steel and the original Berserker collection.  Of his Dracula sequence, the only one I think that I’veread is The Holmes-Dracula File which is superb. And I know I’ve read most of the Swords tales as they came out in various magazines.  His only Hugo nomination was at NYCon 3 for his “Mr. Jester” short story published in If, January 1966. (Died 2007.)
  • Born May 18, 1934 Elizabeth Rodgers. Yes, Nyota Uhura was the primary individual at the communications post but several others did staff it over the series. She appeared doing that as Lt. Palmer in two episodes, “The Doomsday Machine” and “The Way to Eden”.  She was The Voice of The Companion in a third episode, “Metamorphosis”. She would also appear in The Time Tunnel, Land of The Giants and Bewitched. (Died 2004.)
  • Born May 18, 1946 Andreas Katsulas. I knew him as the amazing Ambassador G’Kar on Babylon 5 but had forgottenhe played played the Romulan Commander Tomalak on Star Trek: The Next Generation. I’m reasonably sure that his first genre role on television was playing Snout in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and he had a recurring role in Max Headroom as Mr. Bartlett. He also had appearances on Alien NationThe Death of the Incredible HulkMillenniumStar Trek: Enterprise anda voice role on The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest. Screw the damn frelling Reaper for taking him far too soon.  (Died 2006.)
  • Born May 18, 1948 R-Laurraine Tutihasi, 74. She’s a member of LASFS and the N3F. She publishes Feline Mewsings for FAPA. She won the N3F’s Kaymar Award in 2009. Not surprisingly, she’s had a number of SJW creds in her life and her website here gives a look at her beloved cats and a lot of information on her fanzines. 
  • Born May 18, 1952 Diane Duane, 70. She’s known for the Young Wizards YA series though I’d like to single her out for her lesser-known Feline Wizards series where SJW creds maintain the gates that wizards use for travel throughout the multiverse. A most wonderful thing for felines to do! Her Tale of the Five series was inducted into the Gaylactic Spectrum Award Hall of Fame in 2003. She also has won The Faust Award for Lifetime Achievement given by The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. 
  • Born May 18, 1958 Jonathan Maberry, 64. The only thing I’ve read by him is the first five or six novels in the Joe Ledger Series which has an extremely high body count and an even higher improbability index. Popcorn reading with a Sriracha sauce.  I see that he’s done scripts for Dark Horse, IDW and Marvel early on. And that he’s responsible for Captain America: Hail Hydra which I remember as quite excellent. Not surprisingly, he’s won Stoker Awards and nominated for at least a dozen more. 
  • Born May 18, 1969 Ty Franck, 53. Half of the writing team along with Daniel Abraham that s James Corey, author of the now-completed Expanse series. I’ll admit that I’ve fallen behind by a volume or two as there’s just too many good series out there too keep up with all of them, damn it, but now that it’s ended I intend to finish it. The Expanse won the Best Series Hugo at CoNZealand. The “Nemesis Games” episode of The Expanse is nominated at Chicon 8 for a Hugo as have two episodes previously. 

(11) FREE READ. “Grant Morrison Releases a Sci-Fi Comic He Made Back in the ’80s” and Gizmodo invites you to read it in a slideshow presented at the link.

Grant Morrison, multiple award-winning writer of acclaimed comic books like All-Star Superman, The Invisibles, Doom Patrol, New X-Men, Batman, and many many more, had a special gift released this past Free Comic Book Day. In wasn’t a new title; in fact, it was quite the opposite—a 40-year-old short story he’d written and drawn in the very early stages of his career. While Morrison originally posted it on their SubStack, we’re absolutely honored to be able to republish it on io9.

(12) A KALEIDOSCOPIC AUDIENCE. Charles Payseur, who now is reviewing short fiction for Locus and stepped away from his epic Quick Sip Reviews blog, speaks openly about how public expectations whipsaw critics. Thread starts here.

(13) ABANDONED LAUNDRY. The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan says, “Steven Moffat’s adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger’s 2003 bestseller is witty and well done, but it can’t overcome the novel’s depressingly old-fashioned and iffy implications.” – “The Time Traveler’s Wife review – far too much ick factor to be truly great”.

…He [The Time Traveler] learns to find his feet (and some clothes) a little faster each time. In the course of his many unchronological journeys, he meets his soulmate, Clare. They are wrenched repeatedly from each other’s arms to reunite weeks, months or years later in more or less romantic scenarios, depending on their ages at the time.

It is, in short, guff of a high order. But the new six‑part adaptation (Sky Atlantic) by Steven Moffat (a longtime fan of the book, which he used as inspiration for the Doctor Who episode The Girl in the Fireplace) does it proud. He takes the melodrama down a notch and salts the schmaltz with wit where he can.

Nonetheless, an emetic framing device remains….

(14) TELL NASA WHAT YOU THINK. “NASA Seeks Input on Moon to Mars Objectives, Comments Due May 31”.

As NASA moves forward with plans to send astronauts to the Moon under Artemis missions to prepare for human exploration of Mars, the agency is calling on U.S. industry, academia, international communities, and other stakeholders to provide input on its deep space exploration objectives. 

NASA released a draft set of high-level objectives Tuesday, May 17, identifying 50 points falling under four overarching categories of exploration, including transportation and habitation; Moon and Mars infrastructure; operations; and science. Comments are due to the agency by close of business on Tuesday, May 31. 

“The feedback we receive on the objectives we have identified will inform our exploration plans at the Moon and Mars for the next 20 years,” said Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy. “We’re looking within NASA and to external stakeholders to help us fine-tune these objectives and be as transparent as possible throughout our process. With this approach, we will find potential gaps in our architecture as well as areas where our goals align with those from industry and international partners for future collaboration.”   

(15) WEIRDO CEREAL NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Not even kids stoked on sugar wanted to see creepy creatures staring at them from the cereal bowl, so I bought a box on the half-price shelf today. “Minecraft” at Kellogg’s.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Blue Peter gang drive a full-scale Thunderbirds Fab-1 complete with a rotating license plate, machine gun, and a closed-circuit TV set in this 1968 BBC clip that dropped yesterday.

Blue Peter presenters Valerie Singleton, John Noakes and Peter Purves bring a fully-functioning life-size replica of Lady Penelope’s iconic Rolls-Royce, FAB 1 into the studio.

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

Pixel Scroll 3/29/22 But I Scrolled A Fan In Reno, Just To Watch Them File

(1) PHILLIPS’ LE GUIN BIO ACQUIRED. “Virago snaps up first and only authorised biography of Ursula Le Guin”The Bookseller says it will be out in 2026.

…Virago has pre-empted the first and only authorised biography of acclaimed science and speculative fiction author Ursula K Le Guin. It is written by Julie Phillips. 

Rose Tomaszewska, editorial director at Virago, acquired UK & Commonwealth rights from Will Francis at Janklow & Nesbit on behalf of Melissa Flashman in the US.  

Hearing of an auction to acquire the book in the US, the Virago team acted swiftly to pre-empt it, securing rights ahead of the US, which closed with Thomas Gebremedhin at Doubleday. Publication is slated for 2026. 

Phillips is the award-winning author of James Tiptree, Jr (Picador) and The Baby on the Fire Escape (WW Norton & Co). After Phillips interviewed Le Guin for her biography of Tiptree (the pseudonym of science fiction author Alice B Sheldon), Le Guin invited Phillips to “rescue me from the vultures”. 

Agreeing with Le Guin that the biography should be posthumous, Phillips spoke to her in-depth over several years and frequently visited her at her home in Portland, Oregon. …

(2) YOU BE THE JUDGE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] 2000AD are not bad at running conventions. Their 40th anniversary convention in 2017 was quite something.  And now, this past weekend, they held their 45th anniversary event — but on-line due to on-going CoVID concerns.  Unlike many SF cons providing online content, 2000AD have made much of theirs easily accessible to the world at large.  There is simply too much to report, but check out their YouTube channel for over a score of zarjaz videos. Nonscrots and thrill suckers go hide. Splundig.

(3) PRONOUNS. In “Some Thoughts on Pronouns by Nancy Jane Moore” for Milford SF Writers, Moore has much to say before concluding —

… It’s past time to up our gender game.

Adopting the use of they is far from the last change we’re going to make in the language and none of what’s being said right now is going to be the last word on gender. Pay attention.

And no, you don’t get an exemption on account of age. Getting old doesn’t mean getting stuck in your rut. If you’re still writing or working or dealing with people in the world, you’re not too old to pay attention to the important changes around you.

Trust me on this one.

(4) ABOUT ALOPECIA. Will Smith’s violent response to Chris Rock’s joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s baldness is being discussed everywhere, even in comments here. And I was personally surprised to see my daughter’s former dance teacher Alison Hooper Keslake being interviewed by the local ABC 7 News station about her experience with alopecia and her thoughts about the joke. I haven’t seen Alison for probably six years, which was just before she began dealing with the malady. She now goes bald, too. Video of her remarks can be seen on Facebook.

(5) THINKING INSIDE THE BOX. Customers are ready to resume exploring literary space again. “Bookstores Tap Nostalgia for Borders, Barnes & Nobles”Bloomberg psychs it out.

…When the final Harry Potter installment was published on July 21, 2007, bookstores across the U.S. celebrated with midnight release parties — some with booze, befitting a series whose earliest readers were now in their 20s. These parties took place at thousands of bookstores at a time that was, in retrospect, Peak Bookstore.

“That era, 1997 to 2007, was truly a sweet spot for readers,” Jenna Amatulli reminisced in HuffPost in 2017. “They watched the fandom bloom from nothing, lined up willingly outside of a physical store — oftentimes without a celebrity-sighting incentive — and read without the fear of a push-alert or Twitter spoiler.”

Turnout for the same release today would be lower, because of Amazon.com Inc., because of dying malls, because of J.K. Rowling’s support for gender essentialism — and because there are simply fewer bookstores. Between 1991 and 2011, the U.S. lost 1,000 chain bookstores. A story in The Bulwark checking in on Borders locations 10 years after its 2011 bankruptcy revealed that some had become Books-A-Million, but many more of their “medium-box” locations now sold food, furniture or clothes.

Even so, that HuffPost story, now five years old, may have played taps for the chain bookstore too soon.

Plenty of Millennials who grew up with a Waldenbooks, a Crown or a Borders have the same nostalgia for those chains that they feel for the malls that once contained them. At the same time, Gen Z is taking to TikTok to talk about books — driving billions of views as well as sales for authors’ backlists — and staging those videos at Barnes & Noble. B&N’s green-and-cream decor persists as an accessible symbol for books and, in a country recently starved for social interaction, a place where one day we will browse together again. Trends may come and go, but wooden shelves and squishy chairs will always mean, “Curl up with a book.”

The last of the major chains is betting on that rebound: Barnes & Noble, which once said it would whittle itself down to 450 stores by 2022, started the year with 625 — and plans to add 20 to 25 more in 2022….

(6) LEND ME YOUR EARS. AND HANDS. KQED invites listeners to hear “Gonzo the Great on the Creativity and Collaboration Behind Jim Henson’s Muppets”.

In the early 1970s, Dave Goelz was an industrial designer working for Hewlett-Packard by day and obsessing over the puppets on Sesame Street in his spare time. Fifty years later, Goelz still has the dream job he left Silicon Valley to pursue. He’s the Muppet performer bringing life to Gonzo, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Waldolf, Zoot and others. We’ll talk about the creative alchemy of Jim Henson’s Muppet universe with Goelz as well as Henson’s biographer and the curator of Imagination Unlimited, an exhibit about Henson which opens this week at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.

You also can register for a free Zoom program “’The Best Idea Wins’: Dave Goelz and Larry Mirkin on Creativity and Collaboration” to be held April 24 at 11:00 a.m. Pacific.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

[Item by Cat Eldridge.]

Captain’s log. Using the light-speed breakaway factor, the Enterprise has moved back through time to the 20th century. We are now in extended orbit around Earth, using our ship’s deflector shields to remain unobserved. Our mission – historical research. We are monitoring Earth communications to find out how our planet survived desperate problems in the year 1968.

Fifty-four years ago on this evening, Star Trek’s “Assignment: Earth” first aired on NBC as part of the second season. Guest starring Robert Lansing as Gary Seven and Terri Garr as Roberta Lincoln, our crew which has time-travelled to 1968 Earth for historical research encounters an interstellar agent and Isis, his cat, who are planning to intervene in Earth history. 

It was directed by Marc Daniels whose firsy break in the business was directing the first thirty eight episodes of I Love Lucy. (Remember where Trek was produced.) This was one of fifteen Trek episodes he’d direct. He won a Hugo at NYCon 3 with Gene Roddenberry for Best Dramatic Presentation for “The Menagerie”. 

The story by Art Wallace and Gene Roddenberry. Wallace, who also did the teleplay,  is best remembered for his work on the soap opera Dark Shadows. Oh and he did some scripts for Tom Corbett, Space Cadet.

It was intended as a pilot for an Assignment: Earth series that Gene Roddenberry planned but that never happened. That is interesting story as though Roddenberry’s intent was that Lansing and Garr would continue in the series if it was commissioned, but since NBC was not involved in casting the backdoor pilot, it could and well might have been that NBC would insisted on changes or even completely recast the series had it picked up. 

Interesting note: The uncredited human form of Isis was portrayed by actress, dancer, and contortionist April Tatro, not Victoria Verti, actress (in Rosemary’s Baby under the name of Angela Dorian) and Playboy Playmate of the previous year, as would become part of Trek lore. Her identity was unknown until 2019 when The Trek Files podcast cited a production call sheet for extras dated the fifth of January for the year of broadcast. 

For decades now, fans had believed that the very briefly seen human form of the cat Isis was portrayed by actress Victoria Vetri. Many articles and websites treat that belief as revealed truth. Recently Vetri herself confirmed that she was not in the episode. No idea why the rumor started. 

Barbara Babcock, best remembered as Grace Gardner on Hill Street Blues, a most excellent series, was the Beta 5 computer voice (uncredited at the time) and she did the Isis’ cat vocalizations as well. Speaking of that cat, it was played by Sambo as you can see by this NBC memo. Interestingly Lansing though would later contradict that claiming that there were actually three black cats involved. I can’t confirm his claim elsewhere. 

Though this back door pilot did not enter production as a television series, both Seven and Roberta were featured in multiple stories and they were spun-off into a comic book series from IDW Publishing, Star Trek: Assignment: Earth by John Byrne. And there was the excellent novelization of the episode that Scott Dutton did for Catspaw Dynamics. I’ve read it and it’s quite superb.  

In addition, according to Memory Alpha, the source for all things Trek, “Seven and Lincoln have appeared in several Star Trek novels (Assignment: Eternity and the two-volume series, The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh by Greg Cox) and short stories (“The Aliens Are Coming!” by Dayton Ward in Strange New Worlds III, “Seven and Seven” by Kevin Hosey in Strange New Worlds VI and “Assignment: One” by Kevin Lauderdale in Strange New Worlds VIII).”

The plot concept of benevolent aliens secretively helping Earthlings was later resurrected by Roddenberry for The Questor Tapes film. That film was one of a series of television movies in which Roddenberry was involved — Genesis IIPlanet EarthStrange New World and Spectre. Need I say none made it past the stage of the initial television movie which served as a pilot? 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 29, 1943 Eric Idle, 79. Monty Python is genre, isn’t it? If not, I know that The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Yellowbeard, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (nominated at MidAmericaCon), Quest for CamelotShrek the Third and Nearly Departed, an updated version of Topper, which he all had a hand in certainly are. And it turns out he’s written a witty SF novel, The Road to Mars: A Post-Modern Novel, which involves an Android, comedy and interplanetary travel.
  • Born March 29, 1947 Patricia Anthony. Flanders is one damn scary novel. A ghost story set in WW I, it spooked me for nights after I read it and I don’t spook easily. Highly recommended.  James Cameron purchased  the movie rights to her Brother Termite novel and John Sayles wrote a script, but the movie has not been produced. Cold Allies was a Compton Crook Award finalist for best first novel. (Died 2013.)
  • Born March 29, 1950 Val Mayerik, 72. “Aw, clam up, bud! You don’t even know the meaning of the word! Finding yourself in a world of talking hairless apes–Now that’s absurdity!” —Howard the Duck. Mayerik is best known as the co-creator along with Steve Gerber of Howard the Duck. He first appeared in Adventure into Fear #19, a horror comic published by Marvel. However he was not Howard the Duck there as he had no name at all at this point – they named him later.
  • Born March 29, 1955 Marina Sirtis, 67. Counselor Deanna Troi in the Trekverse.  Waxwork II: Lost in Time as Gloria is her first true genre film role followed shortly by a one-off on the The Return of Sherlock Holmes series as Lucrezia. And then there’s her mid-Nineties voice acting as Demona on Gargoyles, quite possibly her best role to date. Skipping some one-offs on various genre series, her most recent appearance was on Picard where she and Riker are quite happily married.
  • Born March 29, 1956 Mary Gentle, 66. Her trilogy of Rats and GargoylesThe Architecture of Desire (an Otherwise nominee), and Left to His Own Devices, is a stunning work of alternate history with magic replacing science. Ash: A Secret History is superb, it won both a BSFA and a Sideways Award as well as being a finalist for a Clarke and a Campbell Memorial. 
  • Born March 29, 1957 Christopher Lambert, 65. He became famous by playing Tarzan in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. I however best remembered him as Connor MacLeod in Highlander in which he had one of the worst Scottish accents ever attempted. He’s the villain in the Ghost Rider sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, but do we really have to mention that film?  And I absolutely refuse to admit that the first Highlander film spawned a series of sequels. Shudder! 
  • Born March 29, 1957 Elizabeth Hand, 65. Not even going to attempt to summarize her brilliant career. I will say that my fav works by her are the Shirley Jackson Award winning Wylding HallIllyria and Mortal Love. And let’s by no means overlook Waking the Moon which won both a Mythopoeic Award and an Otherwise Award. Her only Hugo nomination was at Renovation for her “The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon” novella. 
  • Born March 29, 1968 Lucy Lawless, 54. Xena in Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, cylon model Number Three D’Anna Biers on that Battlestar Galactica series. She also played Countess Palatine Ingrid von Marburg, the last of a line of Germanic witches on the Salem series. Her most recent genre role was Ruby Knowby, one of the Dark Ones, on the Ash vs Evil Dead series. Though not genre, she was Lucretia in Spartacus: Blood and Sand, its prequel Spartacus: Gods of the Arena and its sequel Spartacus: Vengeance.

(9) NEWS MINUTE. It’s definitely genre. Trust me. “How Will Smith Got A Standing Ovation During His Oscars Speech” from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

(10) AUDIOBOOK KICKSTARTER. Student Loans Paid in Blood is joined by The Cursed Apps, the second volume in the “Hardboiled Magic” series for a two audiobook set, currently funding on Kickstarter.

“You know how everyone threatened to write a book during COVID?” asks author Todd Allen. “I actually did and returned to the Hardboiled Magic series. I’ve been away for too long.”

The audiobooks are performed by Erik Braa, known as the voice of Draven in the League of Legends series.

The campaign runs through Wednesday, April 27. Todd Allen encouraged us to link to the over 60 minutes of sample chapters available on the campaign page.

What does an occult detective do when a mad god owes him money? Follow the trail into a world of student loans paid off by ritual blood sacrifice, of industrial espionage that comes from beyond the grave and where urban renewal leaves a trail of corpses.

Here’s the book’s inciting incident, in its entirety:

In a desperate bid to prevent being ousted from his own company, a startup founder accidentally draws the attention of necromancers looking to protect their secrets. Occult attention spills over from the founder to his shady investor, whose entire portfolio becomes infested as a food delivery app delivers vampires, a dating app transmigrates souls and a social media influencer’s video game creates literal zombie followers. Are the apps cursed or is something else in play? It’s tale of death and revenge set against a sardonic look at the tech world and venture capital.

Here’s the inciting incident in its entirety:

(11) POMPEII AND CIRCUMSTANCES. Boston Dynamics’ Spot is the “Robot dog called in to help manage Pompeii” reports the Guardian.

…The dog-like robot is the latest in a series of technologies used as part of a broader project to better manage the archaeological park since 2013, when Unesco threatened to add Pompeii to a list of world heritage sites in peril unless Italian authorities improved its preservation….

A four-legged robot called Spot has been deployed to wander around the ruins of ancient Pompeii, identifying structural and safety issues while delving underground to inspect tunnels dug by relic thieves.

The dog-like robot is the latest in a series of technologies used as part of a broader project to better manage the archaeological park since 2013, when Unesco threatened to add Pompeii to a list of world heritage sites in peril unless Italian authorities improved its preservation.

Spot, made by the US-based Boston Dynamics, is capable of inspecting even the smallest of spaces while “gathering and recording data useful for the study and planning of interventions”, park authorities said.

The aim, they added, is to “improve both the quality of monitoring of the existing areas, and to further our knowledge of the state of progress of the works in areas undergoing recovery or restoration, and thereby to manage the safety of the site, as well as that of workers.”

(12) THUMBS UP, THUMBS OUT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Douglas Adams talks about So Long And Thanks For All The Fish and chats about a “forthcoming” Hitchhikers film that never appeared in his lifetime in this clip from the David Letterman Show in 1985.

(13) A MOMENT OF PEACE. Peter Capaldi in 2016 reads a letter by British Captain Reginald John Armes to his wife about the Christmas Truce of 1914 during World War I.

On Christmas Eve of 1914, five months into World War I, something amazing happened: thousands of British and German troops on the Western Front decided to put down their weapons and greet each other peacefully. For the next few days, 100,000 men, British and German, chatted, exchanged gifts, sang carols, played football. They also, without fear, were able to buried their dead. On the evening of December 24th, the first day of the truce, Captain ‘Jack’ Armes wrote to his wife and described this incredible occurrence.

(14) THAT’S THE SPIRIT. Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is a new game. Here’s the Official Reveal Trailer.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Fanac.org has posted video of Rich and Nicki Lynch’s Mimosa 3.5 – a “live fanzine” done as a panel at Chattacon XIII on January 16, 1988. (You also can read the script in the PDF copy of Mimosa 4 hosted by the FANAC archive.)

Beginning with Doug Chaffee drawing the “cover” on camera, and ending with WAHF (“We Also Heard From”) excerpts from letters of comment, this recording really is Mimosa Live. Mimosa, edited by Rich and Nicki Lynch, was nominated for the Best Fanzine Hugo 14 times between 1991 and 2004, and won 6 times.

Articles in Mimosa 3.5 are read/performed by Chattacon guests Ron Goulart (who also draws another cover), Jack Chalker and Maurine Dorris. Julius (Julie) Schwartz makes an appearance with “The Amazing Flying Wollheims”. You’ll also see a very young Pat Malloy, Eva Chalker and others.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, David K.M. Klaus, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Todd Allen, 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 Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 3/7/22 Head Like A Scroll, Pixeled Like Your Soul

(1) ARRIVAL. “On Coming to Ursula K. Le Guin in My Own Time” at Literary Hub, an excerpt from Amal El-Mohtar’s introduction to Worlds of Exile and Illusion by Ursula K. Le Guin.

… I took Le Guin for granted. When she died in 2018, I could have fit the span of my life inside hers almost three times. She had always been there, like a mountain, or the sun, and it was easy to fall into the certainty that she always would be. I was unfamiliar with her most celebrated works—The Left Hand of DarknessThe Dispossessed, books by which she became the first woman to win a Hugo Award for Best Novel, and then, five years later, the first woman to have won it twice.

I had assumed, with all the oblivious confidence of youth, that I’d get to read them while she was still with us and talk to her about them. I imagined that I would meet her one day, under ideal conditions that would make me seem interesting enough for conversation, and ask her about poetry, about being a middle-aged woman in the 1970s, and about science fiction. Her passing hit me harder than I expected, considering my slender acquaintance with her work, but that was the thing about Le Guin: to have lost her was to have lost a world I longed to visit….

(2) ROMANTIC NOVEL AWARDS. The Romantic Novelists Association announced the winners of the 2022 Romantic Novel Awards in London on March 7. The awards celebrate excellence in romantic fiction in all its forms. The complete list is here. In the RNA category of genre interest the winner is —

The Fantasy Romantic Novel Award

  • A Marvellous Light, Freya Marske, Pan Macmillan

(3) HIDDEN TREASURE. [Item by Bill Burns.] The BBC Archive started a new YouTube channel a couple of months ago, and there are some interesting SF items: BBC Archive – YouTube. As well as Star Wars, Doctor Who, and other media items, there’s these more mainstream pieces from broadcast programs:

  • “Arthur C Clarke predicts the future” (September 1964)
  • “Douglas Adams on HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY game” (1984)
  • “ISAAC ASIMOV’s 3 laws of ROBOTICS” (1965)

(4) SCREENTIME MACHINE. For the first five seconds I thought it was a Monty Python sketch. But no – these are all legit sff writers on a 1979 episode of the BBC’s Book Programme trying to answer the question “What is SCIENCE FICTION?”

Robert Robinson presents a science-fiction themed edition of The Book Programme. What constitutes science-fiction, is there room in the genre for the metaphysical or spiritual, or should writers slavishly stick to the scientific? What is to be made of the phenomenon that is the sci-fi convention – is there something unique to science fiction that inspires such devotion in its fans? And is all fiction slowly becoming science fiction? Taking part are: Douglas Adams, the author of the science-fiction comedy ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’; Harry Harrison, a prolific science fiction writer best known for his ‘Deathworld’, ‘Stainless Steel Rat’ and ‘Bill, the Galactic Hero’ novels; Peter Nicholls, the editor of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction; and Ian Watson, whose book ‘The Jonah Kit’ won the British Science Fiction Association award for Best Novel and whose new book “God’s World” is reviewed here and forms the basis for the discussion.

(5) RELATED WORKS. Today, Cora Buhlert turns the Non-Fiction Spotlight on “Lovecraft in the 21st Century Dead, But Still Dreaming, edited by Antonio Alcala Gonzalez and Carl H. Sederholm”.

…If you’re just joining us, the Non-Fiction Spotlights are a project, where I interview the authors/editors of SFF-related non-fiction books that came out in 2021 and are eligible for the 2022 Hugo Awards….

The subject of today’s Non-Fiction Spotlight is a collection of scholarly essays about H.P. Lovecraft entitled Lovecraft in the 21st Century: Dead, But Still Dreaming, edited by Antonio Alcala Gonzalez and Carl H. Sederholm….

Why should SFF fans in general and Hugo voters in particular read this book?

Carl: I first became interested in Lovecraft because of references to him in popular culture. As I began to read more and more of his stories, I became fascinated by the ways his work continues to show up in everything from heavy metal music to board games to internet memes to television shows. What I didn’t know was that there were dozens of others having similar experiences. This book provides a glimpse at what others have discovered in their own journey through Lovecraft. I think anyone with an interest in Lovecraft, including SFF fans and Hugo voters, can discover just how far Lovecraft’s influence goes through a book like this. Even those who already have a firm grasp of Lovecraft should be able to find new insights and research opportunities here….

(6) NATURE CALLS. SF² Concatenation has just Tweeted an advance post of the first of its four “Best of Nature Futures” one-page short stories for this year: “Freemium: It’s no game” by Louis Evans.

When SETI detected an alien signal, they called Derek. Derek was a billionaire from designing computer games. He was bankrolling the search.

Soon – an impossibility in physics – Derek was in regular contact with the aliens. But eventually, there is a price….

(7) NEWBERY WINNER’S NEXT. In the Washington Post, Mary Quattlebaum interviews Newbery Award-winner Kelly Barnhill, whose new book The Ogress and the Orphans creates “a complex character that makes readers question the stereotype of ogres.” “In Kelly Barnhill’s new fantasy novel, no single hero can save the day”.

…A more fully formed story started to emerge in 2020. This original fairy tale explored both the conflict and the generosity she was seeing in the world around her. She noticed, for example, that throughout the pandemic, some people worked together to protect one another from the coronavirus, and others did not.

“I saw the power that one individual has to make something better for another,” she said.

A conversation with her “awesome and interesting” 10-year-old nieces also helped shape the story. The girls’ parents are philosophers. They study knowledge — how people think and reason and how they decide right from wrong. The girls thought that philosophy should also consider kindness and animals.

Barnhill listened. “The Ogress and the Orphans” probes what happens to people’s hearts and to the spirit of their communities when they give to others — or turn away. What happens when they respect and include others — or seek power over them?…

(8) WOOL GATHERING. At Bandcamp, Aidan Baker’s album “The Sheep Look Up” is intended as “a ‘soundtrack’ to John Brunner’s 1972 dystopian novel.” Baker is a Canadian musician “making experimental ambient music.”

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1968 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series has a fascinating Hugo history.

She won a Hugo the first time she was nominated, for the novella “Weyr Search” at Baycon (tied with Philip José Farmer’s “Riders of the Purple Wage”.) It was published in Analog Science Fiction / Science Fact, October 1967. It’s in A Dragon-Lover’s Treasury of the Fantastic anthology which was edited by Margaret Weis, available from the usual suspects at a very reasonable price. 

It would be the only win for the Dragonriders of Pern series but by far is not the only nomination for the series. 

Next up would be the “Dragonrider” novella which was nominated one year later at St. Louiscon. Three years later, her Dragonquest novel would get a nod at the first L.A. Con showing that Con had impeccable taste. And at Seacon ‘79, The White Dragon gets nominated. (I really love that novel.) The next L.A. Con would see another novel be nominated, Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern. (I’ve never heard of that one.) And the final nomination, also for a novel, was at MagiCon, for All the Weyrs of Pern.

The series did win a number of other awards including a Nebula for Dragonrider, a Ditmar and Gandalf for The White Dragon, a Balrog for Dragondrums and The Science Fiction Book Club’s Book of the Year Award for The Renegades of Pern. It is, after all, an expansive series.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 7, 1925 Richard Vernon. He is perhaps best remembered for playing the role of Slartibartfast in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. His first genre role was Sir Edgar Hargraves in the Village of the Damned which was adapted from John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos.  He’s also in Goldfinger as Colonel Smithers. (Died 1997.)
  • Born March 7, 1926 Alan Sues. Here for his outstanding performance in The Twilight Zone’s “The Masks” as Wilfred Harper, Jr., one of the most chilling scripts written for that series. He really didn’t have much of a genre history showing just otherwise on Wild Wild West and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch unless you want to include Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July where he played Scratcher the jealous Reindeer. (Died 2011.)
  • Born March 7, 1942 Paul Preuss, 80. I know I’ve read all of the Venus Prime series written by him off the Clarke stories. I am fairly sure I read all of them when I was in Sri Lanka where they were popular among the British ex-Pat community.  I don’t think I’ve read anything else by him. 
  • Born March 7, 1944 Stanley Schmidt, 78. Between 1978 and 2012 he served as editor of Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine, an amazing feat by any standard! He was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor every year from 1980 through 2006 (its final year), and for the Hugo Award for Best Editor Short Form every year from 2007 (its first year) through 2013 with him winning in 2013 at LoneStarCon 3.  He’s also an accomplished author and l know I’ve read him but I can’t recall which novels in specific right now though I know I enjoyed what I read by him.
  • Born March 7, 1945 Elizabeth Moon, 77. I’ll let JJ have the say on her: “I’ve got all of the Serrano books waiting for when I’m ready to read them. But I have read all of the Kylara Vatta books — the first quintology which are Vatta’s War, and the two that have been published so far in Vatta’s Peace. I absolutely loved them — enough that I might be willing to break my ‘no re-reads’ rule to do the first 5 again at some point. Vatta is a competent but flawed character, with smarts and courage and integrity, and Moon has built a large, complex universe to hold her adventures. The stories also feature a secondary character who is an older woman; age-wise she is ‘elderly’, but in terms of intelligence and capability, she is extremely smart and competent — and such characters are pretty rare in science fiction, and much to be appreciated.” 
  • Born March 7, 1954 Elayne Pelz, 68. She is a member of LASFS (and officer) and of SCIFI who worked on myriad cons, mainly in art show and treasury.  She was married to famous SF fan Bruce Pelz and assumed leadership of Conagerie, the 2002 Westercon, upon Bruce’s death and the con was held successfully. She was the Chair of Loscon 20.
  • Born March 7, 1970 Rachel Weisz, 52. Best remembered  for The Mummy films which I really, really love (well the first two with her), and her first genre film was Death Machine, a British-Japanese cyberpunk horror film which scores rather well – fifty-one percent — among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. I’ve also got her in Chain Reaction and The Lobster. As of late, Weisz starred as Melina Vostokoff in the MCU film Black Widow.

(11) INSIDER TRADING. Gizmodo finds evidence of intergalactic smuggling: “Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser Rare Merch Already on eBay”.

It’s only been a few days since Disney’s lavishly priced Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser attraction previewed for invited media, influencers, and guests—yet eBay listings are already being promoted for exclusive items from the experience. Some item postings even have timetables for guests who have yet to step onto the Halcyon ship but promise to bring back merch for sale.

A sign that this might be different from the usual hive of scum and villainy where merch-flippers tend to dwell is that the prices seem to reflect ways to offset the cost of the trip itself—or for those who got freebies to maybe even get on board again….

(12) 2021 WAS GOOD FOR ONE THING. Yahoo! reports “Guillermo del Toro is really not into the Oscars’ new format”.

…Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro has brought up another point of contention: The new format for the upcoming awards ceremony.

The Academy of Motion Pictures and Arts recently unveiled its new format, which involves pre-taping a select eight categories and announcing the winners in a pre-show. The categories moved to this lower-tier position include Best Production Design, Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Original Score, Sound, Documentary Short, Animated Short and Live-Action Short. After the last couple of arduous years in the film industry, del Toro thinks this change could not come at a worse time.

“The nominees that we have here, most of the ones we have here tonight, [worked] against many, many difficult odds [to get here], and we don’t do [films] alone,” del Toro said while receiving the Hollywood Critics Association’s Filmmaking Achievement Award. “We do them together, and the people that made them with us did it risking everything in a pandemic, showing up, making the day, somewhat in a miracle.

“I must say, if any year was the year to think about it, this is not the year not to hear their names live at the Oscars. This is the year to sing it, and sing it loud,” Del Toro continued. “We shouldn’t do it this year; we shouldn’t do it ever, but not this year… And we must say this… 2021 was a f**king great year for movies.”…

(13) TIME’S THREE. “Take three historical figures, throw them together in some situation, and tell us the story that ensues.” That simple description was enough make a success of Fantastic Books’ Kickstarter campaign, fully funding the anthology Three Time Travelers Walk Into…, which will appear in June. “It pulls together the adventuring of such disparate figures as Julia Child, Jesus Christ, Michael Jackson, and Vlad the Impaler (well… not all in one story).”

Edited by Michael A. Ventrella, the contributing authors are Eric Avedissian, Adam-Troy Castro, Peter David, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Gregory Frost, David Gerrold, Henry Herz, Jonathan Maberry, Gail Z. Martin, Heather McKinney, James A. Moore, Jody Lynn Nye, L. Penelope, Louise Piper, Hildy Silverman, S.W. Sondheimer, Allen Steele, and Lawrence Watt-Evans.

(14) YOU CAN TAKE IT WITH YOU. Gizmodo noticed that “A Mars Rock Appears to Be Stuck in Perseverance Rover’s Wheel”. (Image at the link.)

NASA’s Perseverance rover has involuntarily adopted a traveling companion, in the form of a stone that’s lodged in one of its six aluminum wheels.

An image captured by Perseverance’s Onboard Front Left Hazard Avoidance Camera, or Hazcam for short, shows the interloper sitting on the interior of a wheel. The rover must’ve kicked up the rock while exploring Jezero Crater, where it’s been operating since it landed on Mars in February 2021.

The picture was taken on February 25, 2022, but a similar image taken five days later showed the rock still firmly in place. The stone, it would appear, is now a stubborn fixture of the $2.2 billion rover…. 

(15) RETURN TO SENDER. “Dreaming of Suitcases in Space”. Hard to believe, but the New York Times, not Philip K. Dick, came up with that title. “A California start-up company believes it can one day speed delivery of important items by storing them in orbit.”

…Inversion is building earth-orbiting capsules to deliver goods anywhere in the world from outer space. To make that a reality, Inversion’s capsule will come through the earth’s atmosphere at about 25 times as fast as the speed of sound, making the parachute essential for a soft landing and undisturbed cargo.

Inversion is betting that as it becomes cheaper to fly to space, government agencies and companies will want to not only send things to orbit but also bring items back to earth….

…What Inversion is trying to do is not easy. Designing a vehicle for re-entry is a different engineering challenge than sending things up to space. When a capsule enters the atmosphere from space, it is traveling at such high speeds that there is the danger of burning up — a huge risk for human travelers and precious nonhuman cargo alike.

Seetha Raghavan, a professor in the University of Central Florida’s mechanical and aerospace engineering department, said it would be even more difficult to handle the heat, vibration and deceleration of the capsule when the vehicle size shrank.

“It all becomes harder when you have a smaller item to control,” Ms. Raghavan said.

Inversion’s plan for capsules in orbit raises questions about whether it will contribute to congestion in space, already a problem with the megaconstellations of satellites. And the abundance of satellites interfering with observations of planets, stars and other celestial bodies has been a common complaint among astronomers.

But Inversion said it was using materials to make its capsules significantly less reflective to decrease visual pollution. In addition, the company said its capsule would come with systems to avoid debris and collisions in orbit….

(16) CUBISM. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Artist/illustrator Will Quinn did this piece commemorating the Dungeons & Dragon‘s gelatinous cube.

According to Patreon, “I listen to ‘Not Another D&D Podcast’ while I draw these days, and they were coincidentally fighting an ooze monster during this drawing (not a Gelatinous Cube, though. It was a Juiblex).”

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

Pixel Scroll 3/24/21 I Scrolled Pixel Rae’s Lawn

(1) JEOPARDY! Tonight’s installment of Jeopardy! featured an entire category about the Nebula Awards. The first clue even mentioned the L.A. Science Fiction League of 1937. Andrew Porter provides screencaps. (Click for larger image.)

(2) TURN BACK THE CLOCK. Internet Archive Blog proudly points to a“Major SciFi Discovery Hiding in Plain Sight at the Internet Archive”.

Fans of science fiction learned last week that the word “robot” was first used in 1920—a full three years earlier than originally thought.The “massively important yet obvious” change in date was confirmed with a search of the Internet Archive, which has a digitized first edition of the Czech play, R.U.R. Rossum’s Universal Robots, published in 1920. There on the title page, hiding in plain sight in an English-language subtitle to the work, is the earliest known use of the word “robot.”

This important piece of information is one of many little-known facts captured in the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction. The project was completed this year by historian Jesse Sheidlower,…

(3) PROGRESS REPORT. Alastair Reynolds, in “We’ve been landing on Mars for a long time”, compares the length of time probes have been going to Mars with a benchmark in the history of eartbound aviation.

(4) THE WRIGHT STUFF. There was a lot more mileage left in the old bird after all: “Part of Wright brothers’ 1st airplane on NASA’s Mars chopper” reports AP News.

A piece of the Wright brothers’ first airplane is on Mars.

NASA’s experimental Martian helicopter holds a small swatch of fabric from the 1903 Wright Flyer, the space agency revealed Tuesday. The helicopter, named Ingenuity, hitched a ride to the red planet with the Perseverance rover, arriving last month.

Ingenuity will attempt the first powered, controlled flight on another planet no sooner than April 8. It will mark a “Wright brothers’ moment,” noted Bobby Braun, director for planetary science at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The Carillon Historical Park in Dayton, Ohio, the Wrights’ hometown, donated the postage-size piece of muslin from the plane’s bottom left wing, at NASA’s request….

(5) BLUE PLAQUE SPECIAL. “Campaign to buy JRR Tolkien’s Oxford home fails” reports The Guardian.

An appeal to the public to raise £4.5m to buy JRR Tolkien’s former home in Oxford has failed.

Project Northmoor launched a crowdfunding campaign in December to raise money to acquire Tolkien’s former house at 20 Northmoor Road in Oxford, before it was put on to the market. Backed by names including Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen, who played Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf in adaptations of Tolkien’s novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, the campaign said it wanted to turn the Grade II-listed property into “the first literary centre in the world dedicated to Tolkien”, and that it needed £4.5m to do so.

The Tolkien Society distanced itself from the project, after being approached for support by organisers, saying that the house “would not be a museum and would not be open to the public”, and that given the property is a listed building and already has a blue plaque celebrating the author, it is “well protected under the law and not in need of rescue”. The Tolkien Society was also concerned that plans it had seen for the property included “spiritual retreats”, that the charity’s “business model includes running a bed and breakfast, with a full-time resident warden”, and that its “primary intention appears to be to run creative workshops, rather than educational programmes about Tolkien”. It was also critical of the fact that “no prominent members of the Tolkien community – be they writers, academics, artists etc – are directors of the company”…

(6) “BLERDS” EXPLORE INTERSECTION OF BLACKNESS AND NERDINESS. Adam Bradley of the New York Times offers an insightful article titled “The Black Nerds Redefining the Culture”. In it, he traces how race and nerd subcultures overlap and affect each other.

“Blerds still love the same types of content [as other nerds],” Terril “Rell” Fields, the 33-year-old founder of the Raleigh, N.C.-based blerd.com says. “A Blerd just sees nerd culture through their Black cultural lens.” They may notice things that other nerds don’t: a Black or brown supporting character in a comic book that might otherwise be forgotten; a political allegory of race and democracy played out in a sci-fi television series.

(7) THEY CAME IN FROM THE COLD – TO WRITE. In “The Best Spy Novels Written by Spies, According to a Spy” on CrimeReads, sf writer Alma Katsu, a former spy, recommends her favorite spy novels by people who served in intelligence.

…As a retired intelligence professional and a published novelist, and now the author of a spy novel, I’m here to set the record straight: Even when you’ve been in the espionage business, it’s hard to write a good spy novel.

The heart of a good spy novel is not the caper but the personal or moral issue facing the protagonist. In a nutshell, that is the spy business, particularly on the clandestine side. You’re constantly asking yourself, am I doing the right thing? Do the ends justify the means? If I do this questionable thing, what does it mean about me as a person? The best spies—like the best people in general—question themselves. Test their motives. And try to hold themselves accountable. Because—like Spiderman—spies have great power, and with great power comes great responsibility….

Joe Weisberg, An Ordinary Spy

That’s right, the mind behind the brilliant TV series The Americans put a few years in with one of the three-letter agencies. Before his transition to television, he wrote this absolutely true-to-life novel. There was a tussle with CIA’s pre-publication review board that resulted in redactions, which the publisher cheekily decided to leave in. Without fail, when asked what it’s like to work at the Agency, this is the book I recommend. An Ordinary Spy perfectly captures what happens in the beginning, when your James Bond dreams crash into reality.

(8) THERE ARE OLD EQUATIONS, AND BOLD EQUATIONS, BUT THERE ARE NO OLD, BOLD COLD EQUATIONS. Netflix dropped a trailer for Stowaway, about a stowaway aboard a Mars mission,

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • March 24, 1978 Quark was slotted in on NBC as a mid-season replacement series. Yes, the pilot aired on May 7, 1977, so technically that its birthday but let’s skip past that technically please. Quark was created by Buck Henry, co-creator of Get Smart. It starred Richard Benjamin, Tim Thomerson, Richard Kelton, Tricia Barnstable and  Cyb Barnstable. It specialised in satirizing popular SF series and films and the Wiki article says three episodes were based upon actual Trek episodes. It lasted but eight episodes, beating Space Rangers by two episodes in longevity. You can see the first episode here.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born March 24, 1852 – Edward Page Mitchell.  Editor-in-chief of the New York Sun; pioneering SF author.  “The Crystal Man” predated Wells’ Invisible Man; “The Clock That Went Backward” predated The Time Machine – though Wells must be credited for that superb name, and story; faster-than-light travel (“The Tachypomp”) in 1874; other firsts.  See Sam Moskowitz ed., The Crystal Man (1973).  More here.  (Died 1927) [JH]
  • Born March 24, 1874 Harry Houdini. His literary career intersects the genre world in interesting ways. Though it’s not known which, many of his works were apparently written by his close friend Walter B. Gibson who as you know is the creator of The Shadow. And one famous story of his, “Imprisoned with the Pharaohs”, was actually ghost written by Lovecraft! ISFDB lists another piece of genre fiction for him, “The Spirit Fakers of Hermannstad”. (Died 1926.) (CE)
  • Born March 24, 1897 Theodora Kroeber. Mother of Ursula K. Le Guin. Anthropologist, Ishi in Two Worlds is the work she’s most remembered for. ISFDB lists her as having but one genre work, a children book titled Carrousel with illustrations by Douglas Tait. Ishi is available on the usual suspects. (Died 1979.) (CE) 
  • Born March 24, 1911 – Gabriel Mayorga.  I know of five covers, half a dozen interiors for us, but he may have done more.  Tuned a notable artistic vision to the demands of our publishers.  Here is the May 40 Super Science (Fred Pohl, editor).  This Jun 40 Astonishing was re-used by Justine Larbalestier for The Battle of the Sexes in SF.  Here is the May 41 Super Science Novels (also Pohl).  Painted, sculpted, and taught in New York City, working in oil, pastel, watercolor, epoxy, plastic and polyester plastic.  Here is Strength (1928) carved from a bar of soap for a contest.  He illustrated this Theory and Practice of Fencing.  More here.  (Died 1988) [JH] 
  • Born March 24, 1930 Steve McQueen. He got his big break by being the lead, Steve Andrews, in The Blob. Setting aside the two different roles on Alfred Hitchcock Presents he had which are at least genre adjacent, The Blob is his only genre appearance in his brief life. He died of a heart attack. (Died 1980.) (CE) 
  • Born March 24, 1946 Andrew I. Porter, 75. Editor, publisher, fan. Major member of NYC regional fandom starting in the early Sixties. Editor of Algol: The Magazine About Science Fiction which became StarshipAlgol / Starship started in the Sixties and was a five-time Hugo nominee in the Seventies, and exceedingly superb reading it was. He won a Hugo for Best Fanzine in 1974, in a tie with Richard E. Geis, who was doing SFR. He founded the newzine Science Fiction Chronicle in May 1980 and published it monthly, eventually selling it to DNA Publications in May 2000.  He has won myriad awards including the Big Heart Award. He has attended hundreds of science fiction conventions and nearly forty Worldcons since his first in ‘63. He was Fan Guest of Honor at several conventions, including the 1990 Worldcon. And with John Bangsund, he was responsible for Australia hosting its first Worldcon. (CE)
  • Born March 24, 1946 Gary K. Wolfe, 75. Monthly reviewer for Locus for twenty-seven years now and yes, I enjoy his column a lot. His brief marriage to Ellen R. Weil which ended with her tragic early death  resulted in them co-writing Harlan Ellison: The Edge of Forever.  Old Earth Books has reprinted many of his reviews done between 1992 and 2006 in Soundings: Reviews 1992-1996. He’s also written several critical looks at the genre, Critical Terms for Science Fiction and Fantasy and The Known and the Unknown: The Iconography of Science Fiction. (CE)
  • Born March 24, 1949 Tabitha King, 72. Wife of Stephen, mother of that writing brood. I met her but once on the lot of the original Pet Sematary a very long time ago. ISFDB to my surprise lists only two novels she’s written solely by herself, Small World and Wolves at the Door, and one with Michael McDowell, Candles Burning. None of her books are with her husband which surprised me. (CE)
  • Born March 24, 1949 – Bob Walters, age 72.  A score of covers, a hundred eighty interiors.  Here is Sunspacer.  Here is the Dec 84 Asimov’s.  Here is the May 85 Analog.  Here is A Thunder on Neptune.  [JH]
  • Born March 24, 1960 – Lene Kaaberbøl, age 60.  A score of novels for us; also crime fiction.  Nordic Children’s Book Prize.  Morgensen Prize.  First published at age 15.  “I was born in Copenhagen, by mistake, really, since my parents are both Jutlanders…. the distinction may appear trivial to non-Danes, but to insiders it is a crucial one!…  The Morning Land was one of the first … Danish fantasy novels for adults.”  Silver medal in pétanque at the World Championships.  [JH]
  • Born March 24, 1975 – Carl Hancock Rux, age 46.  Author of novels, essays, poems, plays, songs; actor and director; instrumentalist, singer (five solo albums, a dozen singles). Village Voice Literary Prize, NY Fdn. for the Arts Prize.  Alpert, Bessie, Doris Duke, Obie Awards.  Asphalt (novel, play) is ours.  More here.  [JH]
  • Born March 24, 1988 – Viktoria Gavrilenko, age 33.  Three covers for us.  Here is Villains, Inc.  Here is Young Sentinels.  Freelance concept artist and illustrator (also as “Viccolatte – call me Vik”); other occupations, tea drinking, writing, staring at ducks.  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • xkcd’s “IMDb Vaccines” illustrates an eccentric thought experiment about a scene in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
  • Frank and Ernest discuss the legal issues of a monster stomping on a city.

(12) INTERNET RANDALL. Lorelei Marcus replays a famous (at the time) production of Arsenic and Old Lace with Boris Karloff for Galactic Journey readers: “[March 24, 1966] Dark Comedy and Birthday Wishes (a Tony Randall double feature)”.

… For those who are unfamiliar with the show, Arsenic and Old Lace is a dark comedy about two sweet old ladies who murder for fun, and their poor nephew, Mortimer Brewster, who discovers their nasty habit and tries to clean up the whole mess. Further conflict arises when Boris Karloff- I mean Jonathan Brewster, Mortimer’s brother and a notably malicious murderer, returns home to hide out for a while. As you might imagine, insanity ensues….

Though the rest of the cast is marvelous, I’d have to say Tony Randall gives the best performance as Mortimer Brewster, the straightman nephew. You may believe I have a slight bias in favor of Randall at this point, and that’s probably true, but I think it’s also fair to say that his execution of Mortimer ties the whole show together.

(13) BEEN THEN, DONE THAT. The Science Fiction 101 podcast returns in episode 2, “It’s About Time”.

Phil [Nichols] and Colin [Kuskie] consider the persistence of the concept of time travel. And we have a little guess-the-mystery-sound competition, albeit with no prizes to speak of other than (a) some small kudos and (b) a shout-out on our next episode. (Post a comment if you can identify the sound.)

(14) THE LARCH. “This Wooden Sculpture Is Twice as Old as Stonehenge and the Pyramids” says Smithsonian Magazine. Image at the link – it looks like Groot imitating “The Scream.”

Gold prospectors first discovered the so-called Shigir Idol at the bottom of a peat bog in Russia’s Ural mountain range in 1894. The unique object—a nine-foot-tall totem pole composed of ten wooden fragments carved with expressive faces, eyes and limbs and decorated with geometric patterns—represents the oldest known surviving work of wooden ritual art in the world….

Based on extensive analysis, Terberger’s team now estimates that the wood used to make the Shigir statue is about 12,250 years old. Carved from a single larch tree with 159 growth rings, the object itself was likely crafted around 12,100 years ago, at the end of the Last Ice Age, reports Michelle Starr for Science Alert.

(15) BEFORE 42. CBC previews a new book that reveals “Even Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy author Douglas Adams struggled with writer’s block”.

Writing didn’t always come easily for Douglas Adams.

That may be a surprise to fans of the late British comedy and sci-fi writer, whose prolific resume includes the iconic novels The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, as well as classic episodes of Doctor Who and Monty Python. 

But it’s no surprise to his sister Jane Thrift, who was there when he was writing some of his most famous works, and often got a sneak peek at his earliest drafts. 

“If it was going well, oh, it was exciting. He’d call you in and print it off the printer or show you what he’d written and he’d stand there. And it was a bit tricky sometimes because he was just waiting for the expression or the laugh,” Thrift told As It Happens host Carol Off. 

“But the times when it was difficult — those were difficult. Those were hard. It was hard to watch him go through that process. And I think it was probably as he became more successful, he knew the value of each word and it had to be perfect.”

Adams’s insecurity about his own writing is one of revelations about the author’s inner-life that will be explored in the forthcoming book 42: The Wildly Improbable Ideas of Douglas Adams. …

(16) THEY CAN’T SEE YOU COMING. Smithsonian Magazine answers “How Does Your Vision Compare to Other Critters in the Animal Kingdom?”

Ever wondered what the world looks like through a cockatoo’s eyes? How about a giraffe—or even a butterfly?

For a new study published last month in Trends in Ecology & Evolution, a team of researchers set out in search of answers. As lead author Eleanor Caves explains in a press release, humans have higher visual acuity than most members of the animal kingdom, who “see the world with much less detail than we do.” And in recent decades, researchers have been slowly teasing apart how clear (or blurry) each critter’s view of the world is.

… As the measure decreases, an animal’s (or individual’s) vision worsens: At less than 10 cycles per degree, a human is deemed legally blind. The majority of insects, however, are lucky to see even one cycle per degree.

(17) STILL MORE SHAT! Birthday week continues with “William Shatner for the Commodore VIC-20” on YouTube. Shat learns that in 1982 you can play computer games on a computer!

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “The Cloudy Dog Talk About” on Vimeo is a cartoon by Asami Ike for Filers who know dogs are their friends!

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

Pixel Scroll 6/18/19 I Started A Pixel, Which Started The Whole World Scrolling

(1) KLOOS SIGNS OFF TWITTER. Marko Kloos left Facebook seven months ago, and today deleted his Twitter account, too. He explains why in “Writing and the Internet”.

I have to come to realize that over the last few years, the Internet has had a profoundly corrosive effect on my professional output and occasionally even my emotional health.

This effect has been especially severe in two areas: social media and email, both of which basically constituted my consent to being easily and directly available to contact by anyone with an Internet connection. In Twitter’s case, that contact has also been fully public, which means that anyone with a Twitter account has been able to see and share any conversation I’ve had with people outside of direct messages.

As of today, I am withdrawing that consent by getting off social media and curtailing my availability via email.

Late last year, I got so tired of the constant necessity to curate my Facebook feed and the drama resulting from pruning my Friends list that I pulled the plug for good and deleted my account. In the seven months since then, I have not missed it, and beyond a few concerned messages from long-time Facebook acquaintances, my absence has been inconsequential to the world and a lot less aggravation and anxiety in my life. Last night, I deleted my Twitter account as well, for slightly different reasons that boil down to the strong feeling that it will have a similar life-improving consequence….

… To put it bluntly: I can no longer allow anyone with a smartphone and a data plan the potential ability to darken my day or interrupt my work by trying to pick an argument or fill my Twitter feed with aggravating stuff. Most emails and Twitter interactions with fans have been fun and positive, but there have been exceptions. And even the well-meaning emails from happy readers take a slice out of my writing time.

(2) FORTY WHACKS. Autopsies are so fun. Vulture’s Abraham Riesman wonders: “Marvel on Netflix: What Went Wrong?”

… And hoo boy, their expectations were met. That inaugural installment of Jessica Jones was a true humdinger. It was distinctive without being flashy, mature without being ponderous, ambitious without being self-satisfied, sexy without being exploitative, and just … good. I can’t tell you how much of a revelation a good superhero show was at that time. We were used to spandex outings that were inane, formulaic, and utterly uninterested in pushing a single envelope. But here was a tale that seemed like it was going to grapple with everything from PTSD to queerness and do it all with style. Showrunner Melissa Rosenberg and star Krysten Ritter genuinely seemed to be elevating the game. As soon as the screening was done, I rushed to the lobby to get reception and email my editor like an old-timey reporter clamoring for a pay phone just after getting a hot scoop. I have seen the future of superheroes, I thought, and it is Marvel Netflix.

If it ever was the future, it is now the past. This week sees the barely ballyhooed release of the third and final season of Jessica Jones, which is itself the final season of Marvel’s four-year Netflix experiment. Its death has been agonizingly and humiliatingly gradual: Over the course of the past few months, each of the five ongoing series that made it up has been given the ax, one after another. Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Punisher; their fans saw them all go the way of the dodo — without fanfare….

(3) ENDS WITH A BANG. Fast Company’s article “The most expensive hyphen in history” unpacks an historic incident in the U.S. space program (that inspired a scene in Mary Robinette Kowal’s Calculating Stars.)

Mariner 1 was launched atop a 103-foot-tall Atlas-Agena rocket at 5:21 a.m. EDT. For 3 minutes and 32 seconds, it rose perfectly, accelerating to the edge of space, nearly 100 miles up.

But at that moment, Mariner 1 started to veer in odd, unplanned ways, first aiming northwest, then pointing nose down. The rocket was out of control and headed for the shipping lanes of the North Atlantic. Four minutes and 50 seconds into flight, a range safety officer at Cape Canaveral—in an effort to prevent the rocket from hitting people or land—flipped two switches, and explosives in the Atlas blew the rocket apart in a spectacular cascade of fireworks visible back in Florida.

… A single handwritten line, the length of a hyphen, doomed the most elaborate spaceship the U.S. had until then designed, along with its launch rocket. Or rather, the absence of that bar doomed it. The error cost $18.5 million ($156 million today).

(4) BATMAN AT 80. The Society of Illustrators is opening several momentous Batman exhibits at its New York museum.

Join us for a celebration of three momentous exhibits:

(5) DON’T PANIC. Now available on the Internet at the Strange Texts blog (after no small delay) is Lee Whiteside’s “A report on DON’T PANIC and DIRK GENTLY and their relation to Doctor Who”, written in 1988 to mark the US release of the Neil Gaiman / Douglas Adams book Don’t Panic and originally posted on the Magrathea BBS.

Starting out with Dirk Gently, Adams breaks away from the science-fiction/comedy genre a bit, creating a “ghost-horror-detective-time travel-romantic comedy epic” as the promotional copy on the hardback release claims.  It does combine several divergent plotlines that mostly come together at the end.  The main characters include a computer programmer, a mysterious detective, and an eccentric professor along with an Electric Monk, and an ancient ghost (as well as a more recent one).  Part of the plot line of the book is similar to the Doctor Who story “City Of Death” with the main characters involved with an alien being from the past and using a time travel machine to defeat it.  The time travelling done in Dirk Gently seems to be done by TARDIS.  The professor in the book is Professor Chronotis from the Doctor Who story Shada that was written by Douglas Adams but was never completed.  The setting of Cambridge, is also the same.  Overall, it is an enjoyable book, although a bit hard to follow at times.

With the release of the HHG Companion book, even more links with Doctor Who are made known.  Neil Gaiman has done a good job chronicling the history of the Hitchhiker’s Guide along with the rest of Douglas Adams career to date.

(6) CHANDLER AWARD. This is what the 2019 A. Bertram Chandler Award looks like – Edwina Harvey posted the photo.

(7) TREE OBIT. “The tree thought to have inspired Dr. Seuss’ ‘The Lorax’ has fallen”CNN has before and after photos:

The Lorax would be devastated to hear that the tree that inspired Dr. Seuss’ 1971 children’s book has fallen.

The Monterey Cypress tree was at Ellen Browning Scripps Park in La Jolla, California, the seaside community where author Theodor Seuss Geisel lived from 1948 until his death in 1991.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • June 18, 1964 — The Twilight Zone aired its series finale: “The Bewitchin’ Pool”.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 18, 1908 Bud Collyer. He was voiced both the Man of Steel and Clark Kent on The Adventures Of Superman radio show in the Forties on the Mutual Broadcasting System. He also voiced them in the animated The New Adventures of Superman which was a Filmation production. Joan Alexander voiced Lois Lane in both shows. (Died 1969.)
  • Born June 18, 1917 Richard Boone. You likely know him as Paladin on Have Gun – Will Travel, but he does have some genre appearances including on The Last Dinosaur as Maston Thrust Jr. and in Rankin Bass’s The Hobbit the voice of Smaug. He also played Robert Kraft in I Bury the Living, a horror flick that I think has zombies and more zombies. (Died 1981.)
  • Born June 18, 1931 Dick Spelman. He was a fan who was a legendary book dealer that really hated being called a huckster. He was active at SF conventions from the late 1970s through the early 1990s. He was guest of honor at ICON (Iowa) 12. Fancyclopedia 3 says it was themed “money-grubbing capitalist con” in his honor. (Died 2012.)
  • Born June 18, 1942 Paul McCartney, 77. Well, I could include him for the Magical Mystery Tour which might be genre, but I’m not. He actually has a cameo in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales as a character named Uncle Jack in a cell playing poker singing “Maggie May”. A shortened version of the song is on the Let It Be album. 
  • Born June 18, 1945 Redmond Simonsen. Coined term ‘games designer’. Best remembered for his design of the Seventies games Starforce: Alpha Centauri, Battlefleet Mars and Sorcerer. He cofounded Simulations Publications Inc (SPI) with James Dunnigan. (Died 2005.)
  • Born June 18, 1947 Linda Thorson, 72. Best known for playing Tara King in The Avengers.  For her role in that series, she received a special BAFTA at the 2000 BAFTA TV Awards along with the other three actresses from the series, Honor Blackman, Joanna Lumley and Diana Rigg. She’s also been in Return of the SaintTales from the DarksideStar Trek: The Next GenerationKung Fu: The Legend ContinuesF/X: The Series and Monsters
  • Born June 18, 1949 Chris Van Allsburg, 70. He won two Caldecott Medals for U.S. picture book illustration, for Jumanji and The Polar Express, both of which were made into films. Guess which one I like? He illustrated A City in Winter by Mark Helprin which won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novella.
  • Born June 18, 1958 Jody Lee, 61. Illustrator with a long career in genre work. Her first cover art was Jo Clayton’s Changer’s Moon for Daw Books in 1985. Her latest was Michelle West’s First Born that came out this year on Daw Books which seems to be her primary client. Her rather excellent website is here.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Close To Home is there when diplomas are handed out at the Academy of Paranormal Studies.

(11) POP CULTURE ERASURE. NPR examines the trend in “chauvinist cuts” — misogynist, homophobic and racist cuts of blockbuster films :“‘Avengers,’ But Make It Without Women, Or Men Hugging, Or Levity In General”.

Brie Larson has vanished.

A star of Avengers: Endgame, one of the biggest movies of all time, was completely excised from a modified pirated version of the film — along with everything else in the film seen as feminist or gay.

An anonymous fan edited out shots, scenes and characters in a “defeminized” version circulating now on an illegal streaming site. As well as losing Larson’s character, Captain Marvel, the defeminized edit is missing a scene where Hawkeye teaches his daughter to shoot. (“Young women should learn skills to become good wives and mothers and leave the fighting to men,” the editor opined in an accompanying document.) The role of Black Panther is minimized. (“He’s really not that important.”) Spider-Man doesn’t get rescued by women characters anymore. (“No need to.”) And male characters no longer hug.

(12) FULL FATHOM FIVE. In case you wondered what became of the craft: “‘Boaty McBoatface’ maps deep ocean water”.

Intrepid submarine Boaty McBoatface has made its first significant discovery, say UK scientists.

The autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) has built a 3D map of deep ocean waters as they move away from Antarctica.

Researchers previously had limited data to show these currents were warming.

Boaty’s investigations can now confirm that turbulence is causing warm water at mid-depths to mix down and raise the temperature of the colder, denser water running along the ocean floor.

Scientists say they can link this behaviour to changing wind patterns.

…Boaty’s insights are important because they can now be used to fine-tune the models that describe the climate system and how it may change in the future.

(13) MONK-Y BUSINESS. BBC explains why “Belgium monks forced to sell prized beer online to beat resellers”.

Belgian monks who brew one of the world’s most coveted beers are launching a website to prevent unauthorised resellers profiting from their product.

St Sixtus Abbey in Westvleteren, Flanders, is one of the world’s 14 official Trappist beer producers.

Buyers can purchase a crate of its Westvleteren beer for around €45 (£40), around €1.80 per bottle.

As a rule, the monks ask customers not to sell their product to third parties.

The abbey’s sales have traditionally been limited to private customers who order by phone before collecting a maximum of two crates in person.

But profiteers have been ignoring their “ethical values” for selling the brew, forcing them to go online to dampen demand on the black market.

The monks were dismayed to find bottles of their beer being resold at an inflated price in a Dutch supermarket last year.

…Now the abbey is turning to an online reservation system, designed to better enforce the limit of two crates per 60 days.

(14) RETRO REVIEWS. Steve J. Wright has completed his Retro Hugo Graphic Story Finalist reviews:

Retro Hugo Best Graphic Story

(15) PITCH MEETING. Step inside the pitch meeting that led to the final season of Game of Thrones!

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

Pixel Scroll 1/28/18 I Say We Take Off And Pixel The Entire Scroll From Orbit – It’s The Only Way To Be Sure

(1) DUFF DEADLINE. Down Under Fan Fund nominations for the 2018 race close January 31.  If you’re interested, or have someone else lined up, hop to it!

Nominations are now open for a Down Under Fan Fund delegate from Australia or New Zealand to travel either to San Jose, California, USA for the 76th World Science Fiction Convention, 16–20 August 2018, or to other major conventions in North America in 2018.

(2) EARLY COSPLAY AND THE LA WORLDCON OF 1946. SyFy Wire’s Carol Pinchefsky goes beyond the Ackerman/Douglas collaboration in “Firsts: The first cosplay took place at the first-ever con… in 1939”, drawing on other anecdotes collected by John. L. Coker III, sf historian and editor of the nonfiction book Tales of the Time Travelers: The Adventures of Forrest J. Ackerman and Julius Schwartz:

Coker interviewed other First Fans for Tales of the Time Travelers. Author and fan Len J. Moffatt discussed yet another “first” … the first recorded cosplay fail, which took place at the fourth Worldcon, in 1946:

“[Fan] Dale Hart [pictured above] was an excellent Gray Lensman in a silver-gray form-fitting costume like the Astounding cover by Rogers. The problem was that it was so tight that he could not sit down or dare to bend over.”

Moffatt may also have created another “first” at Pacificon I, the first cosplay routine:

“While at Slan Shack on Bixel Street earlier, I had borrowed some of Myrtle’s green make-up, combed my hair over my ears and turned up my jacket collar to become a comical vampire. I made a better impression earlier when friends carried me into a meeting hall and deposited my rigid body on some lined-up folding chairs. I lay there a long time with eyes closed and hands folded on my chest listening to the wondering remarks of passers-by.”

(3) WRATHFUL SPEECH. Middle-Earth Reflections documents “His sharp tongue or Fëanor’s talent to insult”:

Fëanor the Spirit of Fire was the most gifted of all the Elves in linguistic lore. He could use language so well that his speeches affected those who heard them and inspired them to do different, though not always sensible, things. Thus, being gifted with words and able to use them potently, Finwë’s eldest son was also exceptionally good at insulting others.

(4) BESPOKE AWARD. Charles Payseur unveils he fifth and final category winners: “THE SIPPY AWARDS 2017! The “Where We’re Going We Won’t Need Categories” Sippy for Excellent I Don’t Know What in Short SFF”

The “Where We’re Going We Won’t Need Categories” 

Sippy Awards for Excellent I Don’t Know What in Short SFF

What does it mean? Well, part of the point of this category is…I’m not sure. These are stories that defy conventional definitions and categorization. These are the ones that slip between genres and expectations. They’re…well, a lot of them are weird, but beautiful. Haunting, but fun. Deep and complex and brilliant in the ways they innovate and inspire. So without further delay…

(5) LEADING BY EXAMPLE. Lisa Goldstein’s tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin tells how much she meant to girls who wanted to write science fiction and fantasy:

…Her characters were so real and rounded they became people you wanted to know.  She wrote beautifully, in a field where most writing ranged from serviceable to awkward.  And she was not just smart but wise, someone who could get to the heart of a subject with a few well-chosen words.  I was looking through my copy of The Language of the Night this week and found this: “Fantasy is true, of course.  It isn’t factual, but it is true.”

So I began to think that I could actually do this science-fiction thing.  After all, here was a woman who was, IMHO, doing it better than any male writer.  (And around the same time there were also Joanna Russ and Kate Wilhelm and Carol Emshwiller — and James Tiptree, or course, but we didn’t know her secret then.)  She gave me, and any number of other girls reading science fiction in those years, the courage to try….

(6) TV ARCHEOLOGY. Echo Ishii, in “SF Obscure: Planet of the Apes TV”, discusses two TV adaptations, one live, one animated.

The live action TV series has two new astronauts stranded on future/parallel earth.  In this version, there are human villages-not quite as primitive as the original movies movies-ruled over by Apes as governors and guards. The two astronauts are assisted by another Ape who believes humans are capable of more. It’s a run of the mill action adventure with the planet of the apes spin. Entertaining, but not outstanding. It was, unfortunately, an expensive show and cancelled after 14 episodes.

(7) BEST OF 2016. Greg Hullender notes Rocket Stack Rank is continuing their analysis of the best science fiction and fantasy short fiction from 2016. In the latest installment, they turn their attention to  —“2016 Best SF/F Short Fiction Authors”.

Out of 602 authors, fully 74% had only one story published in our survey of 887 stories, so we’re picking from a huge diversity of authors.

On the other hand, there’s remarkable consistency among our pool of recommenders: 72% of recommendations went to the top 20% of authors, and 40% got no recommendations at all. It’s true that different reviewers have different opinions, but it’s also true that there’s a sort of broad consensus around who the best authors are.

(8) WHOHIKER. Andrew Hickey reviews Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen, the book by James Goss based on a possible Doctor Who film script by Douglas Adams. It is a positive review with a caveat:

So you can be fairly sure that if you’re the kind of person who would even vaguely consider maybe reading a book like this, you’ll come away having read a book that at least matches your expectations, and maybe exceeds them.

(9) NOT APOLITICAL. How some people were spared persecution in WWII. The thread starts here –

And here’s one of the reasons you’ll want to read it:

(10) SMITH OBIT. Mark E. Smith, the leader and singer/songwriter of influential British post-punk band The Fall, died January 24 at the age of 60. In his last interview a reporter for The Guardian asked whether he saw the most recent Blade Runner since he was a “big fan” of Philip K. Dick movies. As usual, Smith was not exactly diplomatic:

I think the original Blade Runner is the most obscene film ever made, I fucking hated it. The Man in the High Castle is one of my favourite books; how they fucked that TV show up I don’t know. It gets blander and blander. In the book the level of comprehension of that world is fucking astounding, in the show it’s just everybody going around normally except they’ve got swastika armbands on. The only good Philip K Dick film is Total Recall, it’s faithful to the book. Arnie gets it. I was physically sick watching A Scanner Darkly, it was like an episode of Cheers painted over except they all smoke dope and imagine women with no clothes on.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 28, 1986 — At 11:38 a.m. EST the space shuttle Challenger lifts off from Cape Canaveral, then explodes.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born January 28, 1959 – Frank Darabont
  • Born January 28, 1981 – Elijah Wood, who played Frodo in the Lord of the Rings movies.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Michael J. Walsh, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian all saw what happens when a young writer picks sf, in Non Sequitur.
  • John King Tarpinian found a mock terrifying surprise in Lio.

(14) OKORAFOR SAGA. NPR’s Amal el-Mohtar says “Binti’s Story Is Finished — But Don’t Expect Completion”.

Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti trilogy is now complete: The Night Masquerade is the final instalment in a series she’s described as “African girl leaves home. African girl returns home. African girl becomes home.” It’s a beautiful proposed structure, a Hero’s Journey that rings truer for me than Joseph Campbell’s, resonating deeply with my experiences of diaspora, roots, and community. Binti left her Himba family on Earth in order to travel to Oomza University, far beyond the stars; she left Oomza in an attempt to manage her trauma and find herself again in the deserts of her home; and there, in the desert, she incorporated new revelations about her history into the anthology of herself, before being shocked into an awareness of impending doom.

(15) WHEN WILL YOU MAKE AN END? NPR’s Scott Tobias on “‘The Maze Runner: The Death Cure’: Nice Guy Finishes, At Last”:

The Maze Runner is the rare series that has improved with each installment, expanding beyond the organic pen of the first film into a bigger and more thrillingly realized science fiction sandbox. Though its young leads are mostly blah, the franchise has steadily accumulated character actors to liven things up, like Gillen, Esposito, and Pepper in the second film and now Walton Goggins in the third as the deformed leader of the Cranks. While Ball tries for too much in the needlessly protracted finale, he’s supremely confident in staging the action sequences, which usually rely on a meticulously orchestrated set of circumstances.

(16) IT’S NOT FICTION. BBC reports about “Of Mice and Old Men: Silicon Valley’s quest to beat ageing”.

To understand what’s happening in the tech world today, you need to look back to the mid-1800s, when a Frenchman named Paul Bert made a discovery that was as gruesome as it was fascinating.

In his experiment, rodents were quite literally stitched together in order to share bloodstreams. Soon after he found the older mice started showing signs of rejuvenation: better memory, improved agility, an ability to heal more quickly. In later years, researchers at institutions like Stanford would reinforce this work.

The extraordinary technique became known as parabiosis, and forms the basis of efforts at Alkahest, a California start-up that is banking on being able to apply those rejuvenative effects to people, rather than mice. It’s an idea so fantastical it wouldn’t look out of place in an episode of Silicon Valley, the HBO send-up of the start-up scene.

(17) HELPING WATER TAKE SHAPE. An article about digital effects in The Shape of Water: “How visual effects studio Mr. X helped create ‘The Shape of Water’ and its lovable merman”.

It turns out that Jones’ impressive costume and makeup (and his equally impressive performance) only accounts for part of what we see on-screen. Trey Harrell, CG supervisor at visual effects house Mr. X, told me, “Every single shot of the film where you see the creature is a visual effects shot.”

After all, Harrell said that while “Doug is an amazing actor,” his face was also hidden under “an inch of and a half of foam latex.” So at the very least, Mr. X had to create the merman’s eye and face movements. In other instances, like when the merman was viewed swimming inside the lab’s capsule, Mr. X was responsible for the entire creature.

(18) ACCUSATION. Someone has made a claim about the source of the story — “Guillermo del Toro accused of stealing story of ‘Shape of Water’ from 1969 play” reports the New York Daily Post.

Guillermo del Toro has been accused of stealing the storyline of “Shape of Water” from Pulitzer-winning playwright Paul Zindel.

David Zindel, the son of the playwright, who died in 2003, claims del Toro’s story is taken from his father’s 1969 “Let Me Hear You Whisper,” about “a female janitor in a research laboratory who bonds with a captive dolphin and tries to rescue the creature.”

“We are shocked that a major studio could make a film so obviously derived from my late father’s work without anyone recognizing it and coming to us for the rights,” Zindel told the Guardian.

… Fox Searchlight denied that the “Shape of Water” storyline was stolen.

“Guillermo del Toro has never read nor seen Mr. Zindel’s play in any form. Mr. del Toro has had a 25 year career during which he has made 10 feature films and has always been very open about acknowledging his influences,” a spokesman told the Guardian.

(19) I’M FEELING BETTER! Scott Tilley was listening for something else when the unexpected happened: “Amateur astronomer discovers a revived NASA satellite”.

After years in darkness, a NASA satellite is phoning home.

Some 12 years since it was thought lost because of a systems failure, NASA’s Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) has been discovered, still broadcasting, by an amateur astronomer. The find, which he reported in a blog post this week, presents the possibility that NASA could revive the mission, which once provided unparalleled views of Earth’s magnetosphere.

The astronomer, Scott Tilley, spends his free time following the radio signals from spy satellites. On this occasion, he was searching in high-Earth orbit for evidence of Zuma, a classified U.S. satellite that’s believed to have failed after launch. But rather than discovering Zuma, Tilley picked up a signal from a satellite labeled “2000-017A,” which he knew corresponded to NASA’s IMAGE satellite. Launched in 2000 and then left for dead in December 2005, the $150 million mission was back broadcasting. It just needed someone to listen.

(20) RARITY. Offered on eBay for $2,000 – the NAL paperback of The Day After Tomorrow signed by Robert A,. Heinlein to his publisher:

HEINLEIN, ROBERT A. The Day After Tomorrow. New York: Signet – New American Library, 1964. First Paperback Edition. Signed and inscribed by Robert A. Heinlein with a superb inscription to his publisher: “To Kurt Enoch, President of N.A.L. With books as with icebergs it is the unseen 7/8-s which permits the 1/8 to be seen. Thanks! Bob Heinlein”. Originally published as Sixth Column, this copy is enclosed in a custom cloth clamsell box. Paperbound, very good clean copy. From the library of Dr. Kurt Enoch (1895-1982) who was a noted German publisher, forced to flee the Nazis, landing in New York in 1940. In 1948, Dr. Enoch co-founded and became President of New American Library – Signet Books which became one of the successful and acclaimed post-war publishing houses. Enoch went on to become one of the most highly regarded figures in American book publishing.

(21) YOUR MOVE. The mention in yesterday’s Scroll about Richard Paolinelli asking someone to guess his chess ranking inspired this parody of “One Night in Bangkok” (from Chess) by Matthew Johnson (and the last two lines by Soon Lee):

Twitter’s gonna be the witness
To the ultimate test of cerebral fitness
This grips me more than if you go
To San Jose for a cruddy old Hugo

I don’t see you guys making
The nine-dimensional move I’m contemplating
I’d let you watch, I would invite you
But our Gargoyles DVDs would not excite you

So you’d better go back to your Files, your SFWA forums,
Your cat cafes

One night in genre and worlds are your oyster
The Scrolls are Pixels and the comment’s free
My pups are friendly and their noses moister
No politics in SF history
I can feel Bob Heinlein walking next to me
His mistresses are harsh, and his lunch ain’t free.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Soon Lee, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Rob Thornton, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Museum of Pop Culture 20th Anniversary SFF Hall of Fame Inductees

MoPOP in Seattle

MoPOP in Seattle

Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) has announced 24 new inductees to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame for 2016 year.

Creators:

  • Douglas Adams
  • Margaret Atwood
  • Keith David
  • Guillermo del Toro
  • Terry Gilliam
  • Jim Henson
  • Jack Kirby
  • Madeleine L’Engle
  • C.S. Lewis
  • H.P. Lovecraft
  • Leonard Nimoy
  • George Orwell
  • Terry Pratchett
  • Rumiko Takahashi
  • John Williams

Works:

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Blade Runner
  • Dungeons & Dragons
  • The Matrix
  • Myst
  • The Princess Bride
  • Star Trek
  • Wonder Woman
  • X-Files

Last spring, as part of its 20th anniversary celebration, the public was invited to nominate their favorite creators and works for the Hall of Fame. Twenty finalists were selected and the public was given a May 2016 deadline to vote, however, the results were never published, and the current class of inductees includes some who were not finalists, and omits others who were.

According to today’s press release:

Inductees were nominated by the public and selected by a panel of award-winning science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, editors, publishers, and film professionals. The 2016 committee included Jane Espenson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Torchwood), Cory Doctorow (Co-Editor, Boing Boing; Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom), Jen Stuller (Co-Founder, GeekGirlCon), Linda Medley (Castle Waiting), and Ted Chiang (Story of Your Life and Others).

A new exhibition commemorating the 20th anniversary Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, opening March 4, 2017, will invite visitors to explore the lives and legacies of the 108 current inductees through interpretive films, interactive kiosks, and more than 30 artifacts, including Luke Skywalker’s severed hand from George Lucas’ The Empire Strikes Back, the Staff of Ra headpiece from Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, author Isaac Asimov’s typewriter, and the “Right Hand of Doom” from Guillermo del Toro’s film Hellboy.

The Hall of Fame was previously shown as part of the Icons of Science Fiction exhibit when MoPOP was called the Experience Music Project Museum. Founded in 1996, the Hall of Fame was relocated from the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas to EMP in 2004.

Pixel Scroll 5/24/16 Bark Side Of the Moon

(1) RELEASE THE MONSTER BALLOT. Jo Lindsay Walton is pleased with the flood of Sputnik Award ballots, and is at least not horrified by one of the suggestions.

Btw: I’ve received some really touching enthusiasm, warmth and wise counsels and offers of support, as well as a pretty significant amount of “eh?” “baroo?” “mph?” “wha-?”, which tbh is also kinda gratifying. One thing I’d love to hear more of is unwise counsel. The best I’ve heard so far is the suggestion that we do the Dungeons of Democracy for real.

Just imagine, ripping it from the Excel and into the streets, playing out the entire vote as a vast LARP, cosplaying Daleky Phoenixes and Hedgehoggy Thing Itselves . . .

(2) WINDLING. Remember, Terri Windling lectures on fantasy at Oxford on Thursday, May 26.

I will be delivering the 4th Annual Tolkien Lecture at Pembroke College, Oxford University this Thursday at 6:30 pm. The Pembroke Fantasy lecture series “explores the history and current state of fantasy literature, in honour of JRR Tolkien, who wrote The Hobbit and much of The Lord of the Rings during his twenty years at the college.”

The lecture I’ll be giving is Tolkien’s Long Shadow: Reflections on Fantasy Literature in the Post-Tolkien Era. Admission is free, but you need to register for a ticket and space is limited. Go here for further details.

(3) LUCAS MUSEUM. Mark Guarino’s Washington Post article “George Lucas’s dream of a Chicago lakefront museum faces choppy waters” even-handedly covers the battle to bring the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art to Chicago, showing the strengths – the vast art collection, and the architecture — and the minuses, chiefly that it will be partially paid with hotel taxes, which raises a question about whether George Lucas really needs to be subsidized by Illinois and Chicago taxpayers.

The Lucases had two real requirements: One, it would be in a prominent location and, two, that it would be near other museums,” he says. “The Lucases are not going to go to another site.”

A new plan approved by Lucas involves reconfiguring an aging extension of the McCormick Place convention center that sits on the lake and partially replacing it with the museum, 12 new acres of parkland, in addition to new convention space. That multipurpose site is more complicated because it involves borrowing nearly $1.2 billion and extending five taxes on hotels and more. Because it is co-owned by the state, approval from Springfield is required. With Illinois in a budget deadlock that is nearing a full year, and the state ranked at the bottom of those with underfunded pensions, the timing could not be worse. Koch says the selling point is long-term revenue in taxes and tourism dollars, as well as that it would add to Chicago’s “meaningful group of museums and cultural assets” that make it globally competitive.

This is both an enormous opportunity to update and modernize McCormick Place,” he says. “It has this element of Lucas, but they are two separate things that would happen to be tied together financially.”

Talks are on hold until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit rules on a city petition that asks for the lawsuit to be thrown out. Meanwhile, Hobson released a statement calling Friends of the Park “a small special interest group” that has “co-opted and hijacked” the process. “It saddens me that young black and brown children will be denied the chance to benefit from what this museum will offer,” she says.

She added that she and her husband “are now seriously pursuing locations outside of Chicago.” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has already said he would welcome the museum in his city.

If the Lucases leave Chicago, it will ultimately discredit the couple’s statements about wanting to help the children there, park advocates say.

“They keep saying how committed they are to the city, but they’re not committed enough to build anywhere but the lakefront,” [Friends of the Park executive director Juanita] Irizarry says.

(4) THIS HAPPENED. N.K. Jemisin started a Patreon campaign less than a week ago and it’s been so successful she can give up her day job.

So, internets. Big changes in Noraland. For the few of you who don’t follow me on Twitter and FB, I Did A Thing. Specifically, last Friday I started a Patreon campaign with the specific goal of breaking free of the 9 to 5 life. I launched it officially at 5:35 pm on Friday afternoon, thinking nobody would much care since Friday News Dump, and thinking that would give me time to fix bugs and work out any kinks in the campaign over the weekend. Instead, to my absolute shock, I hit my baseline goal within 24 hours, and my stretch goal within 48. And it’s still going. People really, really want me to have a retirement plan, apparently.

(5) BEVERLEY OBIT. Jo Beverley passed away on May 23 at the age of 68. Though best known as a romance writer, she also wrote romances with fantasy and magic in them, was a Writers of the Future contest finalist (1988), and published in Songs of Love and Death (2010) edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.

(6) HEARTWARMING WOOKIEE. In “Star Wars’ Favourite Wookiee Goes Back to School”, Lee Costello of the BBC’s Northern Ireland service reports on Chewbacca’s visit to a school in County Kerry.

Chewbacca, Star Wars’ world-famous wookiee, has left pupils at a Republic of Ireland primary school star struck after landing for a visit.

The star is filming the newest instalment of the blockbuster series in County Kerry.

He took a break from the set to visit Scoil Fheirtearaigh National School in Ballyferriter on Monday.

The visit was arranged after some pupils sent impressive artwork to director Rian Johnson.

(7) AND HIS MOM. Meanwhile, Hollywood summoned a viral video maker for 15 more minutes of fame — “J.J. Abrams Surprises Chewbacca Mom”.

Candace Payne, also known as the Chewbacca Mom, took over the Internet this weekend with her Chewbacca mask and infectious laugh. In the video, Candace is sitting in her car, super excited about a purchase she just made: a Star Wars Chewbacca mask with sound. The next few minutes are her trying to contain her infectious laughter. The video broke the all-time total for most views on Facebook Live, and everyone has been talking about the joyful mom from Texas.

James Corden brought Candace out to Los Angeles to appear on The Late Late Show and surprised her with a visit from J.J. Abrams. The trio took a ride in a car, where Abrams gives Candace some notes on how to play Chewbacca, but the best part was her reaction outside of the car when J.J. first surprised her.

Video at the link.

(8) START SPREADING THE NEWS. Looks like this will be no problem in Ireland, but for everyone else IFL Science contemplates “How Do We Tell The World That We’ve Found Alien Life?”

…That’s a topic discussed in a paper from astronomers Duncan Forgan and Alexander Scholz from the University of St Andrews in Scotland (hat tip to Cosmos Magazine for picking it up). They have examined the protocols that are already in place, and have suggested ways that those involved in the discovery should prepare for the media onslaught that would accompany a tentative detection.

“A critical concern for scientists pursuing the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is the reaction of the world to the knowledge that humans are not the only technological civilization in the universe,” they write. They suggest that the “culture shock” of such a discovery will put SETI scientists under intense scrutiny, which they must be prepared for…..

“SETI scientists must be prepared to not simply announce a detection via press release, but to be a trusted voice in the global conversation that will begin after the initial announcement,” the authors write. “This will require both pre-search and post-detection protocols to be implemented.”

(9) AWARD JUDGES. In Australia, the 2016 Aurealis Awards judging panels have been selected.

There’s a panel for every category – which means a lot of judges. Scroll down to see the judges’ bios.

(10) TRUER GRIT. Damien Walter believes Dune Deserves A New Film Adaptation”.

Dune’s cinematic qualities have made it a natural target for Hollywood adaptations. But the Lynchian weirdness, followed by a lacklustre mini-series, have left the franchise in a televisual limbo for most of the last two decades. Herbert’s own sequels, while conceptually interesting and widely loved by established fans, lack the storytelling muscle displayed in the first book. A risible series of cash-in prequels have dragged the Dune universe down to the bargain basement of pulp fiction. It’s a sad legacy for such a significant work of fiction.

(11) TROLL HOIST. Death and Taxes did an overview of Chuck Tingle’s Hugo nomination that ends with this paragraph:

Luckily these goons didn’t know who they were dealing with. This is Chuck Tingle, leading author of gay dinosaur erotica, licensed massage therapist, and outspoken enthusiast of hardness and love. Nobody nominates him for a prestigious award and gets away with it.

(12) ANOTHER FINE MESS. There’s reason to be interested in Charlie Jane Anders’ impressions about the field, despite the post ignoring the copious documentation available to answer its strawman question: “One way of looking at the Hugo Awards mess”.

So we’re once again having Hugo Awards drama. It’s confusing, because the people who packed the ballot with their choices have a bunch of vague explanations about why they’re upset. (Ranging from “OMG SJWs” and “affirmative action” to “we just want fun stories.”) They generally keep their grievances vague and nebulous (no pun intended), and it’s hard to pin down what they’re upset about. And this year, they changed tactics slightly, putting more “mainstream” choices on the ballot except for some of the short fiction categories.

So I figure one useful way to look at this issue is to ask: What’s changed? If there’s a group of people who are upset, what recent changes could possibly account for their being upset? Here are a few things that occur to me….

(13) AT WISCON. I see a lot of tweets promoting people’s panel appearances, but rarely one so artistic.

(14) THE SIGN OF THE Z. John Z. Upjohn joined Twitter today. The cause was soon revealed.

Alexandra Erin explained in a GoFundMe appeal update:

And because you all pitched in enough to cover airfare for WorldCon before I head off to my current con, Mr. John Z. Upjohn will be providing live twitter commentary of the event [WisCon]…

Erin also delivered another Sad Puppies Review Books installment once the fundraiser hit $300 (it’s now at $775) – Upjohn’s take on The Cat in the Hat.

The Cat in the HatThe protagonist of the book is a cat who develops games, games that are fun (like all games should be), and who wants nothing but to share them with children who are bored. Not so fast, cat! There is a game critic in the house, a fish who is clearly used to thinking of himself as a big fish in a small pond.

I almost threw this book across the room at one point, because the cat is playing a game and he is clearly having a lot of fun, but the fish says, “NO! THIS ISN’T FUN!” Imagine hating fun so much that you lie about what’s fun in order to ruin a game for everyone else….

(15) PRONOUN STICKERS. WisCon 40 registration will have pronoun stickers available.

Hihi!  I want to take a minute to talk to you about an exciting option we’re offering at Registration this year: pronoun stickers!

We offered them last year and got a lot of reaction, so here’s the explanation:

Pronoun stickers are totally optional to wear. You don’t have to declare anything to anyone. You don’t have to wear the same sticker all weekend. These exist to make it easier for all of us to treat each other respectfully.

If someone IS wearing a pronoun sticker, we expect you will use that pronoun for them. Part of our social contract is kind and respectful treatment of each other, and there are few things that feel as terrible as being misgendered ON PURPOSE. If you make a mistake, just correct yourself and move on…..

 

Options. God bless WisCon. #WisCon

A photo posted by Monica Byrne (@monicabyrne13) on

(16) TOMORROW IS TOWEL DAY. The annual tribute to Douglas Adams, Towel Day, takes place on May 25.

Naturally there are dedicated social media sites– a Facebook page or a Flickr group, and a way to tag videos on YouTube.

There are also hybrid events with in-person and internet components like Lofty Pursuits’ Vogon Poetry Slam. You have only a few hours left to enter online.

If you are in Tallahassee, please come and enter the International Vogon Poetry Slam. It is a contest for the worst possible poem. It happens at 8pm on May 25th as part of our Towel Day celebrations. If you are coming in person DO NOT ENTER ON-LINE. You will get to read your own poem live in front of your victims. The rules are the same….

The Vogon Poetry contest. Rules: The worst original poem will win as judged by us. No appeal is possible.

Sent to vogon@pd.net to be considered for this contest. We must get the poems by midnight on the 24th, Eastern Daylight Time (GMT-5). Late entries will go to the spam folder.

(17) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born May 25, 1686 — Polish inventor Gabriel Fahrenheit

(18) NAMING CALLS. Rachel Swirsky considers short story titles in “What should I have titled this essay? (Thoughts on John Joseph Adams’ ‘Zen in the Art of Short Fiction Titling’”).

Titles That Come From the Text

John starts the article by noting several titles that he suggested to authors that he’s published in his magazines and anthologies. He discovered these titles “right there in the text of the stories themselves. When I’m reading or editing a story, I frequently highlight evocative phrases I come across that I can later suggest to the author as a possible alternate title. Sometimes the phrasing isn’t quite right for the title, but it’s something that can be massaged, or combined together with another phrase from elsewhere in the story, that somehow captures the essence of what the story is about.”

I used to do the large majority of my titling this way until I started my MFA program at Mills, where the teacher told me what John Joseph Adams brings up next: “I should note that some writing professors—including notable literary giants—advise against this practice, largely because, they say, doing this puts too much emphasis and meaning on the eponymous phrase when the reader comes across it in the story.”

(19) DON’T CALL ME ISHMAEL. “Moby goes where Brian Eno, and his ancestor Herman Melville, went before” at the LA Times.

As a famously brainy electronic musician — and a descendant of literary royalty — Moby had plenty of lodestars he might have looked to while writing his first book.

There was, for instance, Brian Eno, the pop experimentalist who reflected on his work with U2 and David Bowie in his 1996 volume “A Year With Swollen Appendices.” And the distant ancestor from whom Moby got his nickname: “Moby-Dick” author Herman Melville.

In reality, the DJ and producer best known for 1999’s multi-platinum “Play” album took inspiration from a more unlikely source: Duff McKagan, the tattooed bassist in Guns N’ Roses.

“Honestly, I’d never given much thought to the guy before I read his memoir,” Moby said on a recent morning at home in Los Feliz, referring to “It’s So Easy (and Other Lies),” in which McKagan writes frankly about the excess and the illusions of show business. “But he wrote a book that’s good enough that it transcends the fact that I wasn’t interested in him.”

(20) BLAME OF THRONES. Juliet McKenna has her own tangle of pop culture references to work through — “Sansa Stark’s joined the X-Men? Thoughts on popcultural cross contamination”

I’ve yet to see the X-Men Apocalypse movie, so I can’t comment on Sophie Turner’s performance. Her work on Game of Thrones – especially at the moment (NO spoilers in comments please!) – gives me every reason to expect she’ll do a thoroughly good job.

The thing is, though, this is becoming A Thing for me. An amusement at the moment, rather than a distraction, but definitely A Thing.

I caught a trailer for A Knight’s Tale on the TV last week, which is one of my favourite movies. Now though? That’s the one where Robert Baratheon makes The Joker’s armour while The Vision bigs him up to the crowd…

(21) DISCO SCI-FI. Thomas A. Foster looks back at the Seventies in “Sci-Fi TV of the Disco Era: The Grounded Astronaut” on Pop Matters.

…Another key to understanding the sci-fi of the era: the shrunken profile of space exploration. In the ‘60s, NASA was perhaps the most popular Federal project, partly because fallen leader John F. Kennedy was associated with the “space race”. Television covered every moment leading up to the first moon walk in 1969, and Hollywood pitched in with movies and TV shows (I Dream of Jeannie, Star Trek, the made-in-England 2001: A Space Odyssey). The Jetsons had a dog named Astro, and Houston chose the same name for its new baseball team, which played, of course, in the Astrodome.

As our radio-alarm-clocks flipped to the ‘70s soundtrack, however, the Apollo Program was curtailed by budget cuts and sharply declining interest. The scientific idealism of the ‘60s was victim to chronic civil unrest, distrust of authority, and general exhaustion, as Americans turned to self-improvement (meditation, back-to-the-land/find-your-roots trends); hedonism (swinging, cocaine, disco); and all things para- (the paranormal, paranoia), including persistent rumors that the moon landings had been faked. In keeping with the zeitgeist, most of our TV astronauts of the decade would be lost, passive, or grounded….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 3/18/16 How Green Was My Pixel?

(1) WHEN MARS HAD BEACHES. The Daily Galaxy covers the announcement — “NASA: ‘Ancient Mars Had a Vast Ocean Covering Half Its Northern Hemisphere’”.

A primitive ocean on Mars held more water than Earth’s Arctic Ocean, according to NASA scientists who, using ground-based observatories, measured water signatures in the Red Planet’s atmosphere. Scientists have been searching for answers to why this vast water supply left the surface.

“Our study provides a solid estimate of how much water Mars once had, by determining how much water was lost to space,” said Geronimo Villanueva, a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the new paper. “With this work, we can better understand the history of water on Mars.”

Perhaps about 4.3 billion years ago, Mars would have had enough water to cover its entire surface in a liquid layer about 450 feet (137 meters) deep. More likely, the water would have formed an ocean occupying almost half of Mars’ northern hemisphere, in some regions reaching depths greater than a mile (1.6 kilometers).

(2) ELLISON AUDIOBOOK CROWDFUNDED. The Kickstarter for a Skyboat Audiobook of Harlan Ellison’s Star Trek Teleplay “The City on The Edge of Forever” has successfully funded.

This project will produce a full-cast audiobook of the Harlan Ellison’s original Star Trek Teleplay, including Ellison’s commentary on the story’s inception and development and the controversy over its rewriting by the TV show heads.

The Stretch Goal for a separate enhanced adaptation of the teleplay with a full Dolby soundtrack and complete Foley sound effects was not achieved.

Links to audio and video snippets from the recording process can be found on the Campaign Updates tab.

(3) HAUNTED IRELAND. Dublin, the City of Ghosts and Guinness will host the Dublin Ghost Story Festival from August 18-21. Guests of Honour will be Derleth Award winner Adam Nevill (Banquet for the Damned, Apartment 16, House of Small Shadows, No One Gets Out Alive, and Lost Girl).

The literary ghost story in all its guises has deep roots in Ireland – from the domestic hauntings of Mrs. Riddell’s Weird Stories to the spectral disturbances of J.S. Le Fanu’s In a Glass Darkly; from Elizabeth Bowen’s urbane “Demon Lover” to Bram Stoker’s blood-drenched and monolithic contribution to literature: Dracula. We invite you to join us at the Dublin Ghost Story Festival to raise a pint of the black stuff and celebrate literature of the supernatural—both past and present—in a city where some of the genre’s most memorable nightmares were born. Slainte!

The MC will be John Connolly (The Book of Lost Things, Nocturnes, and Night Music). Other guests include John Reppion and Lynda E. Rucker.

(4) MAINSTREAM ENTROPY. Brandon Kempner has his “Final Best of 2015 Mainstream Meta-List” at Chaos Horizon.

It’s Spring Break for me, so I’ve got a chance to wrap up some of my “lists of lists.” The first we’ll look at is my Best of 2015 Mainstream Meta-List. This list collates 20+ “Best of 2015” lists by mainstream outlets such as the NY Times, Amazon, Goodreads, Entertainment Weekly, and so on.

The collation works in a simple fashion: appear on a list, get 1 point. I then add up the points from all 20 lists. Results are below. I tried to use the same sources as last year so we can meaningful year-to-year comparisons.

(5) DRAKE OBIT. Larry Drake, who won two Emmy Awards playing mentally-challenged office worker Benny Stulwicz on L.A. Law, passed away March 17 at the age of 66.

He also starred in the 1990 cult classic, Darkman, as well as playing Administrator Chellick in the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Critical Care” and had additional appearances on various shows including Firefly, Crossing Jordan, and Six Feet Under.

(6) HUGO NOMINATING DEADLINE. The Worldcon reminds you that March 31 is not far away….

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 18, 1964 The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao makes its premiere in Denver, Colorado.

(8) REACTING TO THE PUPPIES. Rachael Acks does a very good job of presenting a writer’s thought process about the Sad Puppies 4 list in “I wish I could trust you and I hate what we’ve become”.

But it’s just a recommended list. But it’s got the “Sad Puppy” name all over it and all that goddamn baggage.

Because this is the thing. After three years of slates and shouting and people being intensely shitty, after the porous barrier between sad and rabid and the fecal stench known as Beale that clings to everything, I cannot fucking trust any of this.

So is it a recommended reading list, innocently offered? Or is it a Trojan Horse, intending to get people to maybe think hey, we don’t really need to ratify those WSFS amendments everyone voted on last year when we were almost universally pissed off about a slate rolling the Hugos. See, it’s not so bad. Let it go. And then next year it starts all over again because nothing’s been fixed.

Or is it a way to try to fuck over a lot of writers who don’t want anything to do with this, because suddenly they’re on the damn list, and no one knows if it’s a slate or not, but there’s the knee jerk feeling of if these assholes want a thing, I don’t.

Or is it a way to score some cheap points because if these writers end up on the final ballot and win (or score over No Award), look at all these SJW hypocrites, see they’re okay with slates as long as it’s people they like. That’s certainly consistent the Wile E. Coyote-style Sooper Genius I’m Totally Playing Six Dimensional Chess nonsense we perennially get out of Beale.

And is the very existence of this post (and ones like it) going to be used to add to the carefully curated sense of grievance that’s been fueling this entire stupid, stupid fight?

This makes me so angry, because I’m already seeing people getting dragged into this bubbling cesspool of bullshit and paranoia. And I hate thinking like this. I hate it. I want to believe the best in people. I want to believe in good intentions, and change, and moving on from bad times.

(9) MAKING A DECISION. Catherynne M. Valente asks “When Is a Slate Not a Slate? or Why Is the Puppy Sad?”

So what do I do? Honestly, I still don’t know. My stomach hurts. At the moment, it really does look like people just liked my book. Anyone could recommend something, after all. Locus doesn’t need my permission and neither does anyone else, so requiring it from the Puppies alone, as long as it is not a slate, would be strange. I’ve been on some WEIRD rec lists in my time, I tell you what. And I will absolutely not dismiss readers because of the URL where their desires are expressed.

It all comes down to whether this recommendation list is a list or a slate.

Right now, it doesn’t look like a slate. Right now, it looks like a list complied by people with extremely wide-ranging tastes and interests. Right now, I’m inclined to try to mend fences across fandom in whatever little way I can by giving them the benefit of the doubt that this is all in good faith–because I want to be given the benefit of the doubt that I act in good faith. So for right now, that’s what I’m going to do. I am going to believe in the better angels of our–and Puppy–nature. I’m going to choose to believe that they looked at the thousand suggestions of ways to recommend books that would not run afoul of the spirit of the Hugos and adjusted their methods accordingly. I’m going to choose to believe that the political rhetoric of the Puppy movement is a thing of the past, and from here on out, it will be about what each and every one of us said it should be about–good books. Nothing else.

If this changes, if all that ugliness comes roaring back and it becomes about something other than the content of books, I will change my mind and very quickly. But for right now, I have to try to believe that things can get better. This is my Pollyanna moment. I sincerely hope I don’t regret it.

(10) NO DILEMMA. John Scalzi does not have conflicting feelings about his presence on the SP4 list — “Notes on Awards and Slates 3/18/16”.

8. In sum: I’m not seeking award consideration this year; I would not willingly participate on an award nomination slate; If I’m on such a slate it’s without my consent; Those who have put me or my work on such a slate should remove me from it; If they won’t remove me, or anyone who asks to be removed, they’re likely assholes; And maybe you should factor that in when thinking about them and their motives.

(11) NO WAR. Alexandra Erin recommends a simple response to the list, in “The Pups of Wrath Yield Bitter Whine”.

So, if the Sad Puppies have a plan to claim victory no matter what happens, the question is, how do we beat them?

And the answer is: we don’t. We shouldn’t. No one’s goal should ever be to “beat” these truly sad individuals at anything, no more than our goal should be to shut them up or shut them out of the process.

The Sad Puppies are at war with both the future and past of science fiction and fantasy, but no one is (or no one should be) at war with the Sad Puppies. Our goal should be to make speculative fiction welcoming and inclusive in spite of them, not to shut them out of it in the hopes that this will make things welcoming and inclusive. Our goal should be to get more people involved and keep them engaged so as to dilute the ability of small cliques of bigots motivated to become the tastemakers and kingmakers to game the system.

The correct course of action to take on the Puppy list is to ignore it. If they’re going to claim victory no matter what happens (and the fact that they claimed victory in 2015 should be enough to convince anyone that they will), then there’s really nothing more for anyone to do except get out and nominate now, and get out and vote later. Don’t let the existence of their list or its contents sway you one way or another.

And if you found yourself on their list? Well, they’re just a pack of dogs howling at the moon. This is not a situation that requires the moon to answer.

(12) MY MILEAGE MAY VARY. Meanwhile, back in 1961, The Traveler deprecates the short fiction in the April issue of Analog, including a slap at one of my favorite Christopher Anvil stories. Hmph! Don’t expect to see Galactic Journey on my Seacon Hugo ballot!

Back to the dreary stories, Pandora’s Planet, by Chris Anvil (whose best work always appears outside of Analog), is another “Earthmen are just plain better at everything than everyone else” story.  In this case, some fuzzy humanoids can’t seem to win a war to subjugate a planet’s native race without the help of some plucky, original Terrans.  The point of the piece seems to be that unorthodox war is just as valid as “real” war, and stuffy rigidity will only lead to failure.  That’s fine so far as it goes, but the canny Terran tactics aren’t that innovative, and the stodginess of the fuzzies is insufficiently explored.  Two stars.

(13) HANGING AROUND THE GUARDIANS SET. At ScienceFiction.com, “Karen Gillan Takes Us Behind-The-Scenes In This ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2? Photo!”

If you’ve been dying to see more from ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2‘ it looks like Karen Gillan (‘Doctor Who’,’Oculus’) has brought us another behind-the-scenes photo from the set! Our first shot of Nebula in the film came from Gillan herself and while it wasn’t much, this time we’ve got quite a different view as the 28-year old looks to be flying around in a harness against a blue-screen.

 

(14) TOTALLY TEA. The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog delivers the latest in a series of Incredibly Specific Lessons, “A History of the Tea-Creating Machine in Fact and Fiction”.

Synthetic food replicators in science fiction (and real life) can vary a ton. They might create anything imaginable, or just spit out soylent green; they might function perfectly, or constantly fall apart. But everyone wants just one thing out of them: tea.

The entirety of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series is the masterpiece of a sci-fi satire artist, but the franchise features one particularly memorable moment: when Arthur Dent locates the Nutri-Matic Drinks Dispenser and places a simple, if predictably English, request.

Of course Beckie Leckie is also in the mix.

(15) DICK SHORTCOMINGS. MD Jackson suspects “You Don’t Know Dick”, but tries to remedy your shortcomings in a post at Amazing Stories.

So how is it that this crazy science fiction writer (and, some would argue that he was literally crazy) has come to have such a hold on audiences today? How is it that his work (lauded as it was) that languished in the sci-fi ghetto of the mid-twentieth century, has become amplified in the twenty-first? Has the rest of the world only now caught up to where Dick was when he wrote all those stories years ago?

The phenomenon is nothing new. Look at Vincent Van Gogh. Largely ignored in the 1800’s, he died poor and insane, but in the twentieth century his genius is applauded by the art world. Almost everyone in the twentieth century loves a Van Gogh. In the 18th he couldn’t sell a painting to save his life.

Is Phillip K. Dick the twenty-first century’s Vincent Van Gogh? Have we arrived at the place where he was decades before? Is he watching us, amused that it took us all so long to get here?

(16) ZWICKER INTERVIEW. The indefatigable Carl Slaughter has an interview with “Short Story Writer Richard Zwicker on Humor, Detective, and Greek Mythology” at SF Signal.

CS: Why Greek mythology?

RZ: I don’t usually write straight fantasy. I do like to borrow from mythology, however. Borrowing can work as long as you do something different and worthwhile with the source material. You’re not going to get far if all you do is retell the myth or slap on a different POV. On the other hand, many myths aren’t detailed, so there is plenty of opportunity to flesh things out or consider “What if?”

A recurring detective character I use is Phokus, set in ancient Greece, who has to deal with the whims of the gods. In these I borrow problems from the Greek myths. Phokus gets hired by Zeus to find out who stole fire, or he has to track down Daedalus, who pushed his nephew Talus off a cliff.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, James Bacon, JJ, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]