Pixel Scroll 2/1/23 By Scrollthar’s Pixel

(1) HUGO I.O.U. The Chengdu Worldcon’s Chinese-language website added a post today with the (computer-translated) headline: “The 2023 Hugo Award call for nominations is opening soon”. But there’s only a headline, no article – plus a playable 15-second audio sound effect.

No corresponding post was made to the convention’s English-language website.

(2) SPSFC UPDATE. Rcade’s Team ScienceFiction.news, in the midst of the second Self-Published Science Fiction Competition, is “Announcing Our SPSFC Semifinalists”. The titles are revealed at the link.

Each of the 10 teams judging the Self Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC) chooses three books from their allotments to be semifinalists.

After two months of reading, the ScienceFiction.news team has selected these three books as tribute. They will be sent to the Capitol, where they will engage in ferocious battle against the 27 books chosen by other teams until only one book remains standing.

Even a young adult book can be sent into battle in the SPSFC Games….

(3) TODAY IN HISTORY. The US space shuttle Columbia broke up on its way back to Earth on 1 February 1, 2003. It had been in use since 1981. 

In the BBC’s “Witness History – Columbia space shuttle disaster”, Iain Mackness spoke to Admiral Hal Gehman who was given the job of finding out what went wrong. The admiral’s report led to the ending of the American space shuttle program in 2011. 

The BBC World Service first broadcast this episode in 2019. 

(4) OMERTA IN THE CINEMA. Dayten Rose chronicles the “Spoiler Alert History: No Alarms and No Surprises, Please” at Tedium.

…When “spoiler warnings” got out of hand

Alfred Hitchcock got what he wanted.

On set, he had a reputation as a manipulator. That’s according to Diane Baker, as quoted in Tony Lee Moral’s Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie, alongside other accounts of his abusive relationship with Tippi Hedren.

Out of context, Hitchcock’s obsession with preserving the secrecy of Psycho looks a lot like a publicity stunt. He bought as many copies as he could of the novel he had adapted; he hired the famously non-controversial (sarcasm) Pinkerton security guards to bar late entry to the film; there were no private screenings; there were no pre-release interviews.

In the context of Alfred Hitchcock, his controlling air set a dangerous precedent for the future of Hollywood. The modern media embargo is the crater left behind by his meteoric ego….

(5) DIRECT FROM KRYPTON TO YOUR HEART. “Superman in Starring Role as DC Studios Unveils Strategy” reports the New York Times.

Superman is returning to theaters — only now, along with saving the world, he has to prove that Warner Bros. has finally, without question, it means it this time, found a winning superhero strategy.

DC Studios, a newly formed Warner division dedicated to superhero content, unveiled plans on Tuesday to reboot Superman onscreen for the first time in a generation, tentatively scheduling the yet-to-be-cast “Superman: Legacy” for release in theaters in July 2025. James Gunn, known for “Guardians of the Galaxy,” is writing the screenplay and may also direct the movie, which will focus on Superman balancing his Kryptonian heritage with his human upbringing.

“He is kindness in a world that thinks of kindness as old-fashioned,” said Peter Safran, chief executive of DC Studios, a title he shares with Mr. Gunn.

Moreover, “Superman: Legacy” will begin a story that will unfold (Marvel style) across at least 10 interconnected movies and TV shows and include new versions of Batman, Robin, Supergirl, Swamp Thing and Green Lantern. Those marquee DC Comics characters will be joined by lesser-known personalities from the DC library, including Creature Commandos and Booster Gold, a time traveler. One of the shows will explore Themyscira, the mythical island home of Wonder Woman.

The 10 projects will roll out over four to five years — at which time a second batch of related films and shows will be announced, expanding the “Superman: Legacy” saga to nearly a decade and perhaps helping David Zaslav, the chief executive of Warner Bros. Discovery, to keep a promise to Wall Street about growth….

(6) MIC DROPS OF KNOWLEDGE. Jean-Paul L. Garnier advises writers about “Mic Technique for Live Readings and Panels” at the Dream Foundry.

As an author, you will probably find yourself reading live at events at some time or another and it’s important to make yourself heard by your audience Paying attention to how a microphone works can greatly enhance your performance, and the audibility of your reading. After all, you are there to share your work with an audience, so it is worth doing what you can to make sure that they can hear you well and enjoy the performance without straining. It can be the difference between coming off as a professional rather than an amateur….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1958 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

A bit of bookkeeping: though I called this series First Paragraphs last Scroll, but I’m renaming it Beginnings as I want to quote more than the first paragraph if need be. Such will be the case with the selection tonight if the beginning of Fritz Leiber’s The Big Time

This rather short novel, which is my favorite work by him, won a Hugo at Solacon.  I think it’s the only work I’ve read that takes place in a single location, but it really does strongly resemble a theater piece. 

It was published originally in two parts by Galaxy Magazine in March and April 1958 issues with illustrations by Virgil Finlay. 

Ace Books published the first paperback edition in 1965, and Gregg Press would eventually do a hardcover edition which I know I owned at some point. 

My name is Greta Forzane. Twenty-nine and a party girl would describe me. I was born in Chicago, of Scandinavian parents, but now I operate chiefly outside space and time—not in Heaven or Hell, if there are such places, but not in the cosmos or universe you know either. 

I am not as romantically entrancing as the immortal film star who also bears my first name, but I have a rough-and-ready charm of my own. I need it, for my job is to nurse back to health and kid back to sanity Soldiers badly roughed up in the biggest war going. This war is the Change War, a war of time travelers—in fact, our private name for being in this war is being on the Big Time. Our Soldiers fight by going back to change the past, or even ahead to change the future, in ways to help our side win the final victory a billion or more years from now. A long killing business, believe me. 

You don’t know about the Change War, but it’s influencing your lives all the time and maybe you’ve had hints of it without realizing. 

Have you ever worried about your memory, because it doesn’t seem to be bringing you exactly the same picture of the past from one day to the next? Have you ever been afraid that your personality was changing because of forces beyond your knowledge or control? Have you ever felt sure that sudden death was about to jump you from nowhere? Have you ever been scared of Ghosts—not the storybook kind, but the billions of beings who were once so real and strong it’s hard to believe they’ll just sleep harmlessly forever? Have you ever wondered about those things you may call devils or Demons—spirits able to range through all time and space, through the hot hearts of stars and the cold skeleton of space between the galaxies? Have you ever thought that the whole universe might be a crazy, mixed-up dream? If you have, you’ve had hints of the Change War.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 1, 1884 Yevgeny Zamyatin. Author of We, a dystopian novel. He also translated into Russian a number of H.G. Wells’ works and some critics think We is at least part a polemic against the overly optimistic scientific socialism of Wells. The Wiki writer for the Yevgeny Zamyatin page claims that We directly inspired Nineteen Eighty-FourThe Dispossessed and Brave New World. No idea if this passes the straight face test. What do y’all think of this claim? (Died 1937.)
  • Born February 1, 1908 George Pal. Animator, film director and producer. Let’s see…  Destination MoonWhen Worlds CollideThe War of the WorldsConquest of Space (anyone heard of this one?), The Time MachineAtlantis, the Lost ContinentTom ThumbThe Time MachineAtlantis, the Lost ContinentThe Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm7 Faces of Dr. Lao and his last film being Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze. Can we hold a George Pal film fest, pretty please? (Died 1980.)
  • Born February 1, 1942 Bibi Besch. Best remembered for portraying Dr. Carol Marcus on The Wrath of Khan. Genre-wise, she’s also been in The Pack (horror), Meteor (SF), The Beast Within (more horror), Date with an Angel (romantic fantasy) and Tremors (SF). She died much, much too young following a long battle with breast cancer. (Died 1996.)
  • Born February 1, 1942 Terry Jones. Co-directed Monty Python and the Holy Grail with Gilliam, and was sole director on two further Python movies, Life of Brian and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. His later films include Erik the Viking and The Wind in the Willows. It’s worth noting that he wrote the screenplay for the original Labyrinth screenplay but it’s thought that nothing of that made it to the shooting script. (Died 2020.)
  • Born February 1, 1946 Elisabeth Sladen. Certainly best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith on Doctor Who. She was a regular cast member from 1973 to 1976, alongside the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), and reprised her role down the years, both on the series and on its spin-offs, K-9 and Company and The Sarah Jane Adventures. It’s not her actual first SF appearance, that honor goes to her being a character called   Sarah Collins in an episode of the Doomwatch series called “Say Knife, Fat Man”. The creators behind this series had created the cybermen concept for Doctor Who. (Died 2011.)
  • Born February 1, 1954 Bill Mumy, 69. Well I’ll be damned. He’s had a much longer career in the genre than even I knew. His first genre role was at age seven on Twilight Zone, two episodes in the same season (Billy Bayles In “Long Distance Call” and Anthony Fremont in “Its A Good Life”). He makes make it a trifecta appearing a few years later again as Young Pip Phillips in “In Praise of Pip”. Witches are next for him. First in an episode of I Dream of Jeannie he’s Custer In “Whatever Became of Baby Custer?” Then in Bewitched he’s Darrin the Boy  in “Junior Executive”. Ahhh his most famous role is up next as Will Robinson in Lost in Space. It’s got to be thirty years since I’ve seen it but I still remember and like it quite a bit. He manages to show up next on The Munsters as Googie Miller in “Come Back Little Googie” and in Twilight Zone: The Movie In one of the bits as Tim. I saw the film but don’t remember him. He’s got a bunch of DC Comics roles as well — Young General Fleming in Captain America, Roger Braintree on The Flash series and Tommy Puck on Superboy. Ahhh Lennier. One of the most fascinating and annoying characters in all of the Babylon 5 Universe. Enough said. I hadn’t realized it but he showed up on Deep Space Nine as Kellin in the “The Siege of AR-558” episode. Lastly, and before Our Gracious Host starts grinding his teeth at the length of this Birthday entry, I see he’s got a cameo as Dr. Z. Smith in the new Lost in Space series. 
  • Born February 1, 1965 Brandon Lee. Lee started his career with a supporting role in Kung Fu: The Movie, but is obviously known for his breakthrough and fatal acting role as Eric Draven in The Crow, based on James O’Barr’s series. Y’ll know what happened to him so I’ll not go into that here except to say that’s it’s still happening as it just happened again and damn well shouldn’t be happening, should it? (Died 1993.)

(9) THE PITS. SYFY Wire cheers as “NBC Keeps The Sci-Fi Sinkhole Open! Time Travel Mystery Series ‘La Brea’ Renewed For Season 3”.

NBC will once again head down the primordial rabbit hole in a third season of La Brea, the network has announced….

Described by NBC as an “epic family adventure,” La Brea revolves around a group of characters fighting for their survival after a mysterious sinkhole in downtown Los Angeles sends them to a primeval land forgotten by time. A second storyline takes place “above ground,” where those who did not fall into the strange pit attempt to solve the mystery of what caused it to open up in the first place. The story has only gotten more ambitious and sci-fi as its unfolded, with everything from future conspiracies and time travel now playing a part in the narrative.

“This story is about this family that’s been separated. Half the family falls into the sinkhole, while the other half stays behind in modern Los Angeles,” creator and showrunner David Appelbaum told SYFY WIRE after the series premiere. “And what was really important for the storytelling is that you have ways to connect these two stories. Even though they’re separated, we find different ways that we can connect the story. In this search for how do we tell it in a unified story, that was really the genesis of [the series] idea.”…

However, Deadline thinks they might not get a full season: “NBC’s ‘La Brea’ Likely To End With Abbreviated Season 3 As Networks Start Building Strike Contingency”.

… I have learned that the pickup is for six episodes and that it was influenced by the possibility of a writers and/or directors and actors strike, with this likely being the show’s final chapter. Filming is slated to begin in March in Australia.

With the current WGA contract expiring May 1 and the DGA and SAG-AFTRA contracts up June 30, a potential work stoppage could impact the start of production on the new broadcast season, leaving the networks without fresh episodes of scripted series for the first few weeks of the fall.

Possibly with that in mind, I hear NBC approached the cast of La Brea about doing a short third season. Because the series regulars have a 10-episode minimum guarantee (meaning that they have to be paid at least 10 episodic fees a season regardless of how many episodes are produced), the network and sister studio Universal Television asked the cast to reduce their contractual minimum guarantees to six episodes, sources said. In exchange, I hear the actors were offered a release from the show after Season 3 — which they took — making them available to take other jobs. (A typical broadcast series regular contract is for six seasons.)…

(10) RARE EARTHS. In case you weren’t around in 1977 and would like to know… “Star Trek: Leonard Nimoy explains How Television Works – 1977 vintage tech electronics”.

The following film is an excerpt from a rare 1977 documentary on How Television Works, featuring Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy as the narrator and presenter. The film is in full color with animation and excellent vintage footage of early television technology, including early video tape recording (VTR) machines. The original film is about 22 minutes long. We have obtained a 16mm print and will preserve it. This is a 7 minute excerpt highlighting Leonard Nimoy’s narration of the technology behind early television up to the 1970’s.

(11) WHAT PEOPLE WATCHED IN JANUARY. Here are JustWatch’s Top 10 lists for the month of January.

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1Everything Everywhere All at OnceSeverance
2M3GANThe Peripheral
3NopeThe Rig
4Jurassic World DominionDoctor Who
5AvatarWestworld
6InterstellarStargate SG-1
7Spider-Man: No Way HomeQuantum Leap
8Strange DaysThe X-Files
9Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindWar of the Worlds
10VesperThe Handmaid’s Tale

*Based on JustWatch popularity score. Genre data is sourced from themoviedb.org

(12) DARTH’S BROTHER HAL. ScreenRant tempts readers to click through with its take that “2001 As Directed By George Lucas Is A Very Different Movie”.

…In 2001: A Space Odyssey Directed By George Lucas?, Kubrick’s famously glacial and brooding movie about a mission to Jupiter is transformed into a whiz-bang action movie. In this version of 2001, Dave Bowman has commandeered one of the Discovery One’s shuttles for an all-out battle against psychotic computer HAL 9000, climaxing in a moment that would make Luke Skywalker proud….

Made me smile, but not laugh out loud: “’2001: A Space Odyssey’ directed by George Lucas”.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Stalled, a man goes to a public restroom — and gets trapped in a time paradox.

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

Dream Foundry Announces Fund to Bring Palestinian Fans to WorldCon

Dream Foundry has announced a new initiative under its Con or Bust program to assist Palestinian creators and fans of speculative fiction in attending the World Science Fiction Convention through 2028.

Con or Bust was conceived as a program to provide greater access for creators and fans of color to science fiction conventions, events, and professional development opportunities. Thanks to the generosity of Farah Mendlesohn from the estate of, and in memory of her mother, Carole Goldman, Dream Foundry has been granted £40,000 to assist self-identified citizens of Palestine and members of the Palestinian diaspora to pay travel and membership expenses to five Worldcons beginning in 2024. Awards from the Goldman Fund will be in the form of direct cash grants.

Applications to the Goldman Fund for the 2024 WorldCon will open from July through September of 2023. For more information about Con or Bust, visit www.dreamfoundry.org/dreamfoundry.org/con-or-bust/

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 12/29/22 What Are Pixels? Ask The Scrollman As He Knows

(1) IS ENOUGH MONEY POURING IN? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] “Avatar: The Way Of Water passes $1bn at the global box office” the BBC reports. Arguably something the studio needed as Avatar: The Way of Water is apparently most expensive film made; Budget $350,000,000 (estimated). 

Remember, this is gross box office, director Cameron needs not just net box office but studio receipt, which means he needs US$2 billion to break even.

Avatar: The Way Of Water has made $1bn (£831m) at the global box office in just 14 days, becoming the fastest film to pass the milestone this year.

The long-delayed sequel has proved a hit with audiences despite wildly varying reviews.

It is one of only three films to surpass $1bn this year, after Top Gun: Maverick and Jurassic World Dominion….

Not seen it myself. Saw the first one. OK story with lots of meaningless but photogenic eye-candy. With a run time of over three hours, I’m not tempted, though I suspect this really needs to be seen on the big screen.

What do others think?

(2) CLARION WEST CALLING. The Clarion West Six-Week Summer Workshop is going virtual. Applications open January 4

Clarion West is returning to a fully virtual workshop in 2023. We will accept a class of 15 students to keep the workload and screen time manageable for all. Tuition is $3,200, and a scholarship section is included in our workshop application, which opens January 4.

The Workshop’s faculty members will be:

  • Week 1: Mary Anne Mohanraj & Benjamin Rosenbaum
  • Week 2: Cat Rambo
  • Week 3: Samit Basu
  • Week 4: Karen Lord
  • Weel 5: Arley Sorg
  • Week 6: N. K. Jemisin

Find full information in “Frequently Asked Questions about the Clarion West Summer Workshop”.

(3) CLAUSES, BUT NO SANTAS. David Steffen’s presentation “How to Read a Short Story Contract” is now available on Dream Foundry’s YouTube channel.

What is the purpose of short story contracts? What clauses do you want to see? What clauses do you want to avoid? What do you do if you see something in a contract that you don’t like?

(4) IT’S SHOW TIME. [Item by Soon Lee.] Adam Roberts does The Silmarillion to the tune of the Muppets Show theme, and others add verses. Thread starts here.

(5) CON OR BUST. Dream Foundry hit the target of raising $10,000 for Con or Bust before year end.

This year our fundraising efforts are focused on our Con or Bust program. If you are still unfamiliar, Con or Bust provides grants to fans and creators of colour who would otherwise be unable to attend industry events due to costs. Thanks to a very generous donation, we’ve met our goal of raising $10k before the end of the year, but we know we can do more! If we raise another $3,000 before the end of the year, that will ensure we can connect even more fans and creatives of color with community. Donate now to be a part of something truly special. If you’d like to learn more about Con or Bust, we have that information also here

(6) PLAY NICE. Let Jo Walton be your guide “In Search of Books in Which Nothing Bad Happens” at Tor.com. After a long search she eventually thinks of one. (This excerpt isn’t it – we wouldn’t want to steal the payoff.)

…Romance. Pretty much all genre romance is “everything is OK at the end” but bad things happen in the meantime. But some Georgette Heyer has plots that work because bad things seem about to happen and are averted—this is different from everything being all right in the end, the bad things never occur, they are no more than threats that pass over safely. Cotillion does this. Two people are separately rescued by the heroine from iffy situations that could potentially become terrible, but they don’t. I think this counts. (It’s funny too.) That makes me think of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey in which the worst thing that happens is somebody exaggerates and somebody else has to go home alone on a stagecoach…that’s really not very bad. Right up there with the bear who can’t go to sleep….

(7) DC FINALLY GETS SOME CREDIT. Drumroll, please! “The 2022 ComicBook.com Golden Issue Award for Best Comic Book Movie” goes to….

The Batman

Clocking in at nearly three hours with a pulse-pounding score, intense violence, and a plot inspired by some of DC’s best detective comics, The Batman is a true tour de force for the character. And while it includes echoes of the original Tim Burton franchise, takes influence from Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale’s trilogy, and even has a bit of the same flavor from Todd Philips’ Joker, The Batman stands out as a wholly unique cinematic entry featuring pop culture’s most unique crime fighter….

(7.5) BEAR REMEMBERED. The Guardian’s “Greg Bear obituary” appeared today and includes a long profile of his career. Plus a credited photo by Andrew Porter (an uncropped version of which appeared here).

The American science fiction writer Greg Bear, who has died aged 71 following heart surgery, was, as he put it “all over the map” as far as interests and subjects were concerned: genetics, starships, politics, artificial constructs and combat in space were among the themes explored in his 35 novels. The work he did to research them with thinkers and institutions made them remarkably prescient, not only scientifically – he is attributed with the first descriptions of nanotechnology – but also politically….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2000 [By Cat Eldridge.] Kermit the Frog Landmark Statue at Henson Studio

Kermit the Frog as Charlie Chaplin in his role as The Little Tramp? Why not?

Let’s start with beginning of the press release the Muppet Studio folk put as they call this they Kermit the Frog Landmark Statue Unveiled at Front Gates of Henson Studio: “In a touching homage to both Jim Henson and Charlie Chaplin, today, The Jim Henson Company unveiled a stately 12 foot tall statue of Kermit the Frog dressed as Charlie Chaplin’s The Little Tramp, which was permanently mounted on the tower of the studio’s front gates. All who enter or pass by will be reminded that the two visionaries contributions to mankind are celebrated on these grounds.”

This twelve-foot-high statue was unveiled on the roof of the main building in July of 2000.

The reason why Kermit is dressed like Chaplin is that this is the original location of Charlie Chaplin Studios. The studio was built in 1917 by silent and sound film star Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin sold the studio in 1957 to Kling Studios and they produced the old Superman television series with George Reeves. And then it was owned by Red Skelton, and CBS who filmed the Perry Mason series. In February 1969 it was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument.

So did you know that in 2000, the Henson family sold the company to the German media company EM.TV & Merchandising AG, for a rather stunning six hundred and eighty million dollars which included the Sesame Street Workshop? I didn’t. 

Just three years after that German media company lost its behind on other concerns, the Henson family paid just over eighty million to get everything back. Nice, really nice.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 29, 1901 William H. Ritt. US cartoonist and author, whose best known strip, Brick Bradford, was SF. Two of the early Thirties strips, Brick Bradford and the City Beneath the Sea and Brick Bradford with Brocco the Mountain Buccaneer, became Big Little books. In 1947, Brick Bradford, a 15-chapter serial film starring Kane Richmond, was produced by Columbia Pictures. (Died 1972.)
  • Born December 29, 1912 Ward Hawkins.  Alternative universes! Lizard men as sidekicks! He wrote the Borg and Guss series (Red Flaming BurningSword of FireBlaze of Wrath and Torch of Fear) which as it features these I really would like to hear as audiobooks. Not that it’s likely as I see he’s not made it even to the usual suspects yet. (Died 1990.)
  • Born December 29, 1928 Bernard Cribbins. He has the odd distinction of first showing up on Doctor Who in the non-canon Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. film (with Peter Cushing as The Doctor.) He would make it into canon when he appeared as Wilfred Mott in the Tenth Doctor story, “Voyage of the Damned”, and he‘s a Tenth Doctor companion himself in “The End of Time”, the two-part 2009–10 Christmas and New Year special. (Died 2022.)
  • Born December 29, 1963 Dave McKean, 59. If you read nothing else involving him, do read the work done by him and Gaiman called The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch: A Romance. Brilliant, violent, horrifying. Well, and Signal to Noise by them is worth chasing down as well. 
  • Born December 29, 1966 Alexandra Kamp, 56. Did you know one of Sax Rohmer’s novels was made into a film? I didn’t. Well, she was the lead in Sax Rohmer’s Sumuru which Michael Shanks also shows up in. She’s also in 2001: A Space Travesty with Leslie Nielsen, and Dracula 3000 with Caspar van Dien. Quality films neither will be mistaken for, each warranting a fifteen percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
  • Born December 29, 1969 Ingrid Torrance, 53. A very busy performer who’s had one- offs in Poltergeist: The Legacy, The Sentinel, Viper, First Wave, The Outer Limits, Seven Days, Smallville, Stargate: SG-1, The 4400, Blade: The Series, Fringe, The Tomorrow People, and Supernatural.
  • Born December 29, 1972 Jude Law, 50. I think his first SF role was as Jerome Eugene Morrow in Gattaca followed by playing Gigolo Joe in A.I. with my fave role for him being the title role in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. He was Lemony Snicket in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Tony in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Dr. John Watson in Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Remy in Repo Men and he voiced Pitch Black in one of my favorite animated films, Rise of the Guardians.

(10) HELL RAISERS. It’s time to find out who Cora Buhlert has given “The 2022 Darth Vader Parenthood Award for Outstandingly Horrible Fictional Parents”. (Not to mention the “Retro Darth”!) There are so many possibilities…

It’s almost the end of the year, so it’s time to announce the winner of the coveted (not) 2022 Darth Vader Parenthood Award for Outstandingly Horrible Fictional Parents.

Let’s have a bit of background: I have been informally awarding the Darth Vader Parenthood Award since sometime in the 1980s with the earliest awards being retroactive. Over the years, the list of winners migrated from a handwritten page to various computer file formats, updated every year. Eventually, I decided to make the winners public on the Internet, because what’s an award without some publicity and a ceremony? The list of previous winners (in PDF format) up to 2017 may be found here, BTW, and the 2018 winner, the 2019 winnerthe 2020 winner and the 2021 winner were announced right here on this blog.

Warning: Spoilers for several things behind the cut!

Before we get to the main event, let’s start with the 2022 Retro Darth Vader Parenthood Award for Outstandingly Horrible Fictional Parents. I originally created the Retro Darth Vader Parenthood Award as an anaologue to the Retro Hugos in 2020 to honour terrible parents who either did their villainous parenting before the award was a thing or who were overlooked in the past for unfathomable reasons….

(11) A CHRISTMAS CARACOLE. About that story John Scalzi promised if Locus hit its $75K fundraising target? Well, he wrote it: “A Holiday Gift For You: ‘End of the Year PR Missives From Scrooge & Marley’” at Whatever.

… DECEMBER 24 1843

SCROOGE & MARLEY DECRY THE USE OF COAL FOR HEATING, PLEDGE TO “GO GREEN” IN ‘44

When you think of “Ecologically Friendly Companies,” you might not immediately think of Scrooge & Marley (established 1803), but perhaps you should. Co-founder Ebenezer Scrooge has gone on record decrying the use of coal, a carbon-intensive “legacy fuel” for the purposes of heating office buildings in London and elsewhere in Great Britain. “It’s expensive and not what we need for the future of our company,” he proclaimed. 

Scrooge has encouraged employees to seek other options, including personal insulation units composed of natural, sustainable fibers….

(12) CENTENARY SALUTE. “Stan Lee Documentary Coming to Disney+ in 2023” reports Variety.

Marvel Entertainment tweeted a 25-second video on Wednesday confirming the 2023 release of a Disney+ documentary on Stan Lee. The announcement aligns with what would have been the 100th birthday of the late comic creator….

(13) FOR YOUR HOARD. The Royal Mint will be “Celebrating the Life and Work of JRR Tolkien” with the issue of a £2 coin in 2023. The King is on the front, Tolkien is commemorated on the back.

…Tolkien passed away in 1973 although, 50 years later, the father of modern fantasy fiction still has a palpable influence on the genre. His trademark monogram, encircled by a runic pattern skilfully created by the artist David Lawrence (pictured below), will forever grace this commemorative UK £2 coin. ‘NOT ALL THOSE WHO WANDER ARE LOST’, a quote from the poem ‘The Riddle of Strider’, which features in Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, serves as the coin’s edge inscription….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] This library in Jamestown Township, Michigan, has been having serious trouble with politically-based attacks. (“Town votes to defund library after claims it was ‘grooming’ kids”LGBTQ Nation.)

One of their librarians finally had enough. (“Angry librarian tells off conservative Christians protesting library in righteous speech”LGBTQ Nation.)

Here’s a captioned video of her speech.

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

Dream Foundry 2022 Art and Writing Contest Winners

Dream Foundry announced the winners of its 2022 Art and Writing Contests on December 16. 

ART

First Place, Monu Bose Prize for Art

Second Place

Third Place

WRITING

First Place

  • Audrey Obuobisa-Darko

Second Place

  • Takim WIlliams

Third Place

  • Davida Kilgore

In both contests the first place winner receives $1000; second place, $500; and third place, $200. In addition, all of the winners will be offered special showcases at Flights of Foundry 2023, and their choice of the convention’s workshop and limited seating sessions.

There were over 400 entries from around the world. The contest judges were, Mateus Manhanini and Daniela Viçoso for art and L.D. Lewis, and Sarah Gailey for writing. The contest coordinators were Dante Luiz and Julia Rios.

2022 Dream Foundry Contest Finalists

Dream Foundry announced the 2022 finalists of its latest contest for speculative fiction writers and artists on November 11. 

The contest was open to relatively new writers and artists. The finalists for each category are:

WRITING CONTEST

  • Ry Rosenhirsch
  • Katlina Sommerberg
  • Angela Acosta
  • Nico Montoya
  • Davida Kilgore
  • Audrey Obuobisa-Darko
  • Sarah Ang
  • Laura Chilibeck
  • Takim WIlliams
  • Georgie Morvis

ART CONTEST

The finalists were chosen by Julia Rios and Dante Luiz for the writing and art contests respectively. The winners will be determined by writing contest judges L.D. Lewis and Sarah Gailey, and art contest judges Mateus Manhanini and Daniela Viçoso.

The contest winners will be announced in December.

Pixel Scroll 10/27/22 Shhh, Quiet. Schödingers Kitties Are Napping On The Scroll

(1) WRITERS GET READY FOR THE FUTURE. Kristine Kathryn Rusch suggests ways authors can prepare to manage their insecurity in “Business Musings: Thinking Big”.

…When I teach craft workshops, I admonish writers to write down everything someone says about their work, the good and the bad. Most writers still pause over their notes as I say something like, This story is marvelous. I loved reading it. They don’t write that down. They think those comments are irrelevant, and yet the positive comments are the truly important ones.

Because they’re the ones that show us the pathway to success. Not to make us write another work exactly like the one we just finished, but to show us that yes, indeed, there are people who love what we do.

No one will love everything that we do. It’s just not in the human DNA. If we were alike, then we wouldn’t have variety. Some of us like sf and some of us hate it. Some of us like to windsurf and some of us are afraid to try. Some of us love cities and some of us would rather live in a remote place.

We build readers one at a time, and at different times. Someone might not read our first novel until decades after it hit print. Someone might love a novel that we struggled to write. (Never discourage that fan or tell them that the novel was work.)…

(2) BETWEEN THE LINES OF HORROR. In the School Library Journal, Rozanna Baranets explains: “Two Sentence Horror Story Contest Lets Tweens Explore Their Dark Side”.

Hana O. came to the library to turn in her submission for the middle school’s first Two ­Sentence Horror Story contest. It was handwritten lightly, almost ­timidly, in pencil, with a smiley face and a flower drawn at the end of the last sentence.

“Here ya go,” the 12-year-old whispered as she looked down at her sneakers and handed me her entry:

“Margaret,” she calls, in that horrifyingly sweet voice that gives me the chills, and I see her, her lifeless, pitch black eyes meeting my gaze. I look away, and when I look back, she’s there, smiling at me with a knife in her hand.

Gulp! This seventh grader’s story caught me off guard, despite having received scores of similar ones over the two weeks prior. I have worked in the library at South Pasadena (CA) Middle School for over a decade, and one of the best parts of my job is coming up with ways to connect with students beyond circulating books. We’ve had famous guest authors, writing workshops, collaborative art projects, and poetry slams.

In October 2019, I tried to come up with a library-friendly way to celebrate Halloween—my favorite holiday—and thought a short writing contest would do the trick. Two sentences max, not a lot of gore please, and pinkie swear to me that you did not copy this off the internet. I figured a handful of my library regulars would participate, I’d pick “the scariest” story and reward the winner with a Starbucks gift card. And we’d all have a little fun in the process.

More than 150 entries later, I realized I’d hit a nerve. Kids who had never stepped foot in the library came in droves to turn in the darkest, most macabre and eyebrow-raising fictional tales of death, loss, and horror. It turns out, more than a few middle schoolers devote quite some time to pondering the concepts of death and dying….

(3) AFRICA RISEN EDITORS ONLINE. Loyalty Bookstores  in Washington DC and Silver Spring MD are having a virtual event on November 16 for Africa Risen featuring all of the editors: Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, and Zelda Knight for Africa Risen.

Loyalty is excited to welcome Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, and Zelda Knight, the editors of Africa Risen, for a virtual conversation moderated by Loyalty’s own Hannah Oliver Depp! This event will be held digitally via Crowdcast. Click here to register for the event with a donation of any amount of your choice. You can also order the book below to be automatically added to the event’s registration list. Donations will go to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute. There will also be an option to snag the book during the event.

(4) STILL UNPACKING FROM THE WORLDCON. Read Morgan Hazelwood’s notes about the Chicon 8 panel “Decolonizing SFF” or view the video commentary at Morgan Hazelwood: Writer in Progress.

While most of us know the bloody tales of how the European powers colonized much of the globe, fewer are cognizant of the ways colonization affects the stories we tell today.

Science fiction and fantasy have a lot of bedrock colonial assumptions and strategies that need to be dug up, re-examined, and tossed out. What does decolonial SFF look like? We’ll talk about the tropes and publishing realities that need to be looked at critically and enthuse about our favorite writers and works that are combating the status quo within speculative fiction, as well as those that are striking off in new directions.

The panelists for the titular panel were: Michael Green Jr, Janna Hanchey, Sarah Guan, and Juan Martinez.

(5) WHO SIXTIETH ANNIVERSARY LOGO. “Doctor Who gets new logo for 2023 episodes but fans will recognise it” the Radio Times assures us.

The ‘new’ logo for Doctor Who‘s 2023 episodes has been revealed – though it’s more a new take on an old favourite.

In a new video teaser, it was confirmed that the BBC sci-fi series is bringing back the classic ‘diamond’ logo – as seen during Tom Baker’s tenure as the Fourth Doctor in the 1970s….

(6) COULD GANDALF PASS THE SAT? Something is happening inside Camestros Felapton’s brain. Whatever that may be, it’s not theology. “Does Gandalf Know the Sun is a ball of fusing hydrogen?”

Back in June, I asked whether Gandalf knows about atoms. Today’s question is a simpler one. The Sun, as you may be aware, is a huge ball of mainly hydrogen burning in a fusion reaction caused by the Sun’s own gravity squishing its atoms together, more or less.

Alternatively, the sun is the last fiery fruit of the golden tree Laurelin, rescued from its dying branches after it was murdered by Morgoth and the big-arse spider Ungoliant. The fruit was placed in a vessel and given to a demi-god who steers the burning fruit through the sky. The kind of fruit isn’t stated but it wasn’t a banana because that is technically a berry. Yet, even if it was a durian, that is quite a size difference….

(7) OCTOTHORPE. John Coxon is Chris Garcia, Alison Scott is Chris Garcia, and Liz Batty is Chris Garcia in Octothorpe episode 69, “Hugo Thunderdome”.

What if we were all Christopher J Garcia? We discuss statistics from this year’s Hugo Awards and get into the weeds with Liz, before taking you back to Chicon 8 and featuring a chat between John, Alison, and Chris himself. Listen here!

(8) GUESS WHO TRANSLATED JOYCE INTO SWEDISH. [Item by Ahrvid Engholm.] Journalist, author, genre historian (and fan, certainly, from the 1940s and on!) Bertil Falk is acclaimed for performing the “impossible” task of translating Finnegans Wake to Swedish, the modernist classic by James Joyce, under the title Finnegans likvaka: Finnegan’s Wake in Dast Magazine. (Available from Booksamillion.)

He has worked on it since the 1950’s (a little now and then, not 24/7…). He calls the translation a “motsvariggörande” (“making equal/similar”) since the book is a huge maze in several layers difficult to really translate. Falk is known as the one reviving Jules Verne Magasinet in 1969 and recently also published a three-part history of Swedish science fiction, titled Faktasin.

Fan Erik Andersson (in the 1990s major fanzine publisher and fandom columnist in Jules Verne Magasinet) a few years ago translated Ulysses, though not the easiest prose still not as difficult as Finnegan’s Wake. Joyce seems to fit well with sf fandom, maybe because the world of fandom is just as odd and quirky as the world of Joyce…

(9) JULES BASS (1935-2022). Jules Bass, who co-created Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman, died October 25 at age 87 reports NPR.

…Bass pioneered stop-motion animation with Arthur Rankin Jr. under Rankin/Bass Productions, which formed in 1960. The duo produced 1964’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and 1969’s Frosty the Snowman, becoming the creators of other iconic characters like the narrator for Rudolph, Sam the Snowman (voiced by Burl Ives), and the Abominable Snowman.

Rankin/Bass Productions’ animation style, called Animagic, used dolls with wire joints and captured their movements one frame at a time, Rankin/Bass historian Rick Goldschmidt told NPR in 2004. The single-frame stop motion process took a painstakingly long time, with a movie that lasted under an hour taking more than a year to animate, he said….

Bass and Rankin not only worked on holiday specials but produced other animated series like ThunderCats and The Jackson 5ive. They also created adaptations of novels like J.R.R Tolkien’s The Hobbit, for which they received a Peabody award for in 1977, and The Return of the King in 1980….

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1956 [By Cat Eldridge.] Alfred Hitchcock Presents’ “And So Died Riabouchinska”

Good evening. This misty bit of ectoplasm forming on the inside of your television tube is one Alfred Hitchcock. Coming to you from across that great barrier that divides the quick from the dead: the Atlantic Ocean. I have materialized with the expressed purpose of warning you that during tonight’s sales you will witness a playlet entitled “And So Died Riabouchinska”. Oh yes, before we have our play I would like to make an announcement to those of you who can’t stay until the end. The butler did it.— Alfred Hitchcock making his introduction.

Ray Bradbury scripted “And So Died Riabouchinska,” which was broadcast on Alfred Hitchcock Presents on CBS on February 12, 1956. It was one of five scripts he’d write for the series, while two more stories of his stories would be adapted for it.

Bradbury wrote the original which was titled “Riabouchinska” in the 1940s and it was first sold to Suspense, a CBS radio series and broadcast on November 13, 1947. Bradbury resold serial rights and it was first published under the title “And So Died Riabouchinska” in the second issue of The Saint Detective Magazine which published it in their June/July 1953. It was last published in his Machineries of Joy collection.

OK REALLY STRANGE SPOILERS NOW. SENSITIVE FILERS SHOULD GO AWAY. REALLY GOOD THEY SHOULD.

I hadn’t realized how well our author could script pure horror, quiet horror, until I researched this one. The ventriloquist was inspired by Michael Redgrave’s performance in the Dead of Night anthology film. 

In the Hitchcock episode we have Fabian played by Claude Rains, an ageing and none too successful vaudeville player who gets tangled up in a murder at the run-down theater where he was performing. 

When he goes home, he has a conversation with his wife.  He’s pulls out his doll, Riabouchinska, an actual doll here who was voiced by Iris Adrian, and engages in conversation with it, much to the utter anger of his wife and the bemusement of the detective who’s played by Charles Bronson who has shown up to ask him about the murder. The doll claims that Fabian’s wife is jealous of her and doesn’t like her very much. 

Note the doll apparently replies to the astonishment of the detective. The look on the Riabouchinska’s face is always chilling. Our detective comes to be suspicious of Riabouchinska believing that she’s much more than a mere doll. Which she is obviously. 

(Yes, there’s is a murder here. It really doesn’t count other as a way to get the detective there.)

He discovers that Fabian’s doll eerily resembles that of a missing girl called Ilyana from back in the Thirties, but Fabian says that cannot be and with explains how he fell in love with his Russian assistant and that he modeled his dummy after her. 

He created his wooden dummy by crafting her with love and devotion. Before long he claims the doll started talking to him. The detective of course still doesn’t believe him. Smart detective.

It’s left absolutely ambiguous if it’s a magical doll or that missing infant. 

AND NOW THE CURTAIN CLOSES.

Hitchcock had these words to finish the show 

That was pleasant. It also reminded me of my youth. When I was once a part of a vaudeville act called ‘Dr. Speewack And His Puppets’. But I never cared for Dr. Speewack, he thought he was better than the rest of us. But so much for tonight’s entertainment. Until the next time we return with another play. Good night

Bradbury would later do this story again on The Ray Bradbury Theatre. That version you can see on Paramount +, Alfred Hitchcock Presents is streaming on Peacock.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 27, 1926 Takumi Shibano. Teacher, Writer, Editor, and Fan from Japan. He co-founded and edited Uchujin, Japan’s first SF magazine, in 1957. He was a major figure in the establishment of Japanese SFF fandom, and he founded and chaired four of the first six conventions in that country. In 1968 the Trans-Oceanic Fan Fund (TOFF) paid for him to attend a Worldcon for the first time, in the U.S., where he was a Special Guest. He wrote several science fiction novels starting in 1969, but his work translating more than 60 science fiction novels into Japanese was his major contribution to speculative fiction. From 1979 on, he attended most Worldcons and served as the presenter of the Seiun Awards. He was Fan Guest of Honor at two Worldcons, in 1996 and at Nippon 2007, he was given the Big Heart Award by English-speaking fandom, and he was presented with a Special Hugo Award and a Special Seiun Award. (Died 2010.) (JJ) 
  • Born October 27, 1939 John Cleese, 83. Oscar-nominated Actor, Writer, and Producer from England whose most famous genre work is undoubtedly in the Hugo finalist Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but who has also appeared many other genre films, including the Saturn-nominated Time Bandits, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, The Great Muppet Caper, the live-action version of The Jungle Book, two of the Harry Potter movies, and the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still – and, surprisingly, in episodes of the TV series The Avengers, Doctor Who, and 3rd Rock from the Sun. And he wrote a DC Elseworlds tale, Superman: True Brit, in which Superman was British. Really. Truly.
  • Born October 27, 1940 Patrick Woodroffe. Artist and Illustrator from England, who produced more than 90 covers for SFF books, including works by Zelazny, Heinlein, and GRRM, along with numerous interior illustrations, in the 1970s. He was also commissioned to provide speculative art for record album cover sleeves; his masterwork was The Pentateuch of the Cosmogony: The Birth and Death of a World, a joint project with the symphonic rock musician Dave Greenslade, which purported to be the first five chapters of an alien Book of Genesis, consisting of two music discs by the musician and a 47-page book of Woodroffe’s illustrations. It sold over 50,000 copies in a five-year period, and the illustrations were exhibited at the Brighton UK Worldcon in 1979. Hallelujah Anyway, a collection of his work, was published in 1984, and he was nominated for Chesley and BSFA Awards. (Died 2014.) (JJ) 
  • Born October 27, 1948 Bernie Wrightson. Artist and Illustrator, whose credits include dozens of comic books and fiction book covers, and more than hundred interior illustrations, as well as a number of accompanying works of short fiction. His first comic book story, “The Man Who Murdered Himself” appeared in the House of Mystery No. 179 in 1969. With writer Len Wein, he later co-created the muck creature Swamp Thing in House of Secrets No. 92. In the 70s, he spent seven years drawing approximately fifty detailed pen-and-ink illustrations to accompany an edition of Frankenstein. And in the 80s, he did a number of collaborations with Stephen King, including the comic book adaptation of that author’s horror film Creepshow. In 2012, he collaborated with Steve Niles on Frankenstein Alive, Alive! for which he won a National Cartoonists Society’s award. He was Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, was honored with an Inkwell Special Recognition Award for his 45-year comics art career, and received nominations for Chesley Awards for Superior and Lifetime Artistic Achievement and for a Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in an Illustrated Narrative. (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 27, 1953 Robert Picardo, 69. Actor and Writer who played the Emergency Medical Hologram on 170 episodes of the Saturn-winning Star Trek: Voyager, a role which he reprised in cameos in the film Star Trek: First Contact and episodes of Deep Space Nine and the fan series Star Trek: Renegades. He is also credited with writing a Voyager tie-in work, The Hologram’s Handbook. He has a long list of other genre credits, including the films The Man Who Fell to Earth, Total Recall, Innerspace, Legend, Amazon Women on the Moon, and Gremlins 2 (for which he received a Saturn nomination to match the one he received for Voyager), and recurring roles in the TV series Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, Smallville, and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Since 1999 he has been a member of the Advisory Board, and now the Board of Directors, of The Planetary Society, which was founded by Carl Sagan to provide research, public outreach, and political advocacy for engineering projects related to astronomy, planetary science, and space exploration.
  • Born October 27, 1963 Deborah Moore, 59. English actress and the daughter of actor Roger Moore and Italian actress Luisa Mattioli. She’s an Air Hostess in Die Another Day, a Pierce Brosnan Bond film. And she was a secretary in Goldeneye: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming. Her very first role was as Princess Sheela in Warriors of the Apocalypse.
  • Born October 27, 1970 Jonathan Stroud, 52. Writer from England who produces speculative genre literature for children and young adults. The Bartimaeus Trilogy, winner of Mythopoeic Award for Children’s Literature, is set in an alternate London, and involves a thousand-year-old djinn; Lockwood & Co. is a series involving ghost hunters in another alternative London. I’ve read a few of the latter – they’re fun, fast reads.  

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! gets silly about a favorite childhood book.

(13) SHOPPING LIST. [Item by Daniel Dern.] From the latest Bud’s Art Books e-newsletter.

The 700-page Complete Little Nemo from Taschen that I wrote about (“Finding A More Complete (Little) Nemo — Upcoming Bargain Book Alert, Plus A Few Snakes-Hands And Rabbit-Holes”) is available, for a mind-bogglingly modest $80.00 — Winsor McCay The Complete Little Nemo, at Bud’s Art Books.

[I know it’s a few bucks cheaper on Amazon.com, who also claims they (already?) have used copies…)

Bud’s Art Books also has the Miracleman Omnibus ($90) (MSRP $100). Given that it’s 800+ pages, not necessarily overpriced. Looks like it includes, cough, more of the pre-Moore MarvelMan. (Not on my shopping list, but definitely on my library/e-library borrow list)

(14) RETURN OF THE NO-PRIZE. I first learned what a “No-Prize” was from Deb Hammer Johnson – who had won one — when we were grad assistants in the Dept. of Popular Culture at BGSU. Marvel Comics will be celebrating the tradition with variant covers.

Coveted by generations of True Believers, Marvel Comics’ legendary No-Prizes return in the form of eye-catching new variant covers this February! Coined by Stan Lee, the legendary Marvel No-Prize was originally awarded to fans who called out continuity errors in stories and later were given to those who could expertly explain them away! Over the years, the term and format of the prize itself evolved in many ways, but the spirit of it has remained the same! Celebrating this staple of comics fandom, these variant covers will take readers back to the glory days of the No-Prize by utilizing photographs of the actual iconic envelopes that were mailed out to “winners” in decades past!

 For more information, visit Marvel.com.

(15) THEY DROP KNOWLEDGE. Dream Foundry’s YouTube channel is adding program content. Two recent additions are:

Take a walk with four Black speculative poets through the state of Black speculative poetry today. Come discover what they’re reading, what they’re writing, and their favorite places to read Black speculative poetry. What themes are at the forefront of the field for Black voices, and what are they hoping to see more of in the future.

Effie Seiberg, a consultant for Silicon Valley tech startups, gives you a brief overview of some of the really cool stuff happening in technology today that people might not be aware of, and some thoughts on how to approach researching topics for your writing without going into an endless vortex.

(16) EXOPLANET CAMPOUT. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] You could make one hell of a S’more with this. “Astronomers discover giant fluffy ‘toasted marshmallow’ gas planet orbiting small star” at Chron.

Astronomers recently discovered an unusually fluffy, Jupiter-sized planet akin to a marshmallow that may be the least dense gas giant ever recorded orbiting a red dwarf star. The planet, dubbed TOI-3557 b, is located 580 light-years away from Earth in the Auriga constellation and was recently observed by scientists using a 3.5-meter telescope at Kitt National Observatory in Arizona who recently shared their findings in The Astronomical Journal. 

The planet was initially spotted by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) by detecting a drop in brightness of the host star as the marshmallow world passed in front of it. Through further observations, Kanodia and his team were able to deduce that TOI-3757 b is approximately 100,000 miles wide, which is slightly larger than Jupiter, and that the planet completes an orbit around its host star every 3.5 days…. 

(17) THEY WILL BE ASSIMILIATED. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week’s Nature cover story is DNA Borgs. Yes, they were named after Star Trek.

The cover shows an artist’s interpretation of Borgs, a novel kind of extrachromosomal element described by Jillian Banfield and her colleagues in this week’s issue. Many microorganisms have extra genetic information encoded in DNA that is outside their chromosome. These extrachromosomal elements are usually in the form of relatively small plasmids. But in their analysis of groundwater, sediments and wetland soil, Banfield and her colleagues found that species of the methane-oxidizing archaea Methanoperedens hosted unusually large, linear extrachromosomal elements.

The team named these elements Borgs — after the aliens in Star Trek — because they assimilate genetic material from other organisms and their environment. The researchers identified at least 19 types of Borg and speculate that they might be helping their hosts to consume methane.

Primary research here. (Open Access ‘cos Trekies will no doubt want to see) 

(18) REFUGEEING TO GALLIFREY. Matthew Jacobs, who wrote the script for 1996’s Doctor Who: The Movie, is the figurative tree on which the ornaments hang in his documentary Doctor Who Am I about the world of Doctor Who conventions and events. A lot of the fannish bits in the trailer were shot at Gallifrey One in LA.

In 1996, a Doctor Who TV movie was envisioned to lead the franchise into an exciting new future with a fresh direction but was met only by an outcry from disapproving fans. Now, follow the film’s screenwriter, Matthew Jacobs, as he is reluctantly pulled back into the world of the Doctor Who fandom that rejected his work 25 years earlier, where he unexpectedly finds himself a kindred part of this close-knit, yet vast, family of fans. The documentary features the original cast of the 1996 movie, including Paul McGann (The Three Musketeers, Queen of the Damned), Eric Roberts (Inherent Vice, The Dark Knight, The Expendables), and Daphne Ashbrook (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine).

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

Pixel Scroll 9/29/22 Suddenly, There Was A Knock On The Pixel

(1) STORY ORIGINS. Nalo Hopkinson looks back on the genesis of her Sturgeon Award-winning short story “Broad, Dutty Water” in preparation for her talk at the ceremony tonight. Thread starts here.

(2) CREATES FEELS OF UNUSUAL SIZE. In a series of tweeted video clips, actor Mandy Patinkin reminisces about making The Princess Bride. Thread starts here. Here are a few of the clips.

(3) GAILEY Q&A. “An Interview with the Dream Foundry’s Writing Contest Judge Sarah Gailey” at the Dream Foundry blog.

Writers are frequently looking for the “key” to win or be published, but there’s no singular piece of advice that can be universally applied. With that in mind, how do you find yourself navigating and evaluating submissions? What stands out to you?

 Author A. B. Guthrie Jr. once said that the secret to writing well is a constant undercurrent of the unexpected. Delight takes many forms and can come from many sources, but in the end, I find it to be the one unifying feature of the media I remember and value. For me, that delight often comes from seeing a brilliant craftsperson in their element, taking risks and delivering things I wouldn’t have known to ask for. A story that delivers the unexpected will always delight me.

(4) CON OR BUST UPDATE. Dream Foundry’s monthly newsletter has an update about Con or Bust, the program that helps creators or fans of color attend industry events with direct cash grants to assist with travel, food, registration, and other expenses.

Con or Bust has successfully been underway and we’re super pleased to announce that we’ve already made $2500 of grants to applicants looking to participate in cons. You can check out more about the program here, including ways to donate or to apply for grants. Are you interested in attending Deep South Con this year? We have memberships already on hand, so let us know in the application form that you’re interested in attending. 

(5) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 67 of the Octothorpe podcast takes us “Straight Back to Star Wars”.

John Coxon has hairspray, Alison Scott has a tiara, and Liz Batty has a necklace. We talk about Chicon 8 and Chicago a lot, and then get distracted by feelings, steampunk and lasers.

(6) SF IN CHARLOTTE. This is the outdoor dining area for Mellow Mushroom Pizza in Charlotte, NC. Steven H Silver took the photo when he was in the neighborhood.

(7) GENRE DEFINITIONS. The “sf vs. fantasy” meme has been making the rounds of social media. The difference is very easy to understand the way Lynda Carter explains it.

(8) COOLIO (1963-2022). Rapper Coolio died September 28. His interest in sff was captured by Gavin Edwards in a Details magazine interview years ago.

He also guest starred as himself on Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Coolio voiced a wax figure of himself on Disney Channel’s Gravity Falls. One of his songs was used in Space Jam (1996), and “Weird Al” Yankovic did a parody of his hit “Gangsta’s Paradise” called “Amish Paradise.”  

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1964 [By Cat Eldridge.] Some series are just plain sweet. My Favorite Martian which premiered fifty-eight years ago this evening on CBS, starring Ray Walston as Uncle Martin aka the Martian and Bill Bixby as Tim O’Hara, was one of them. I suspect it was one of the shows that the creators of The Munsters thought they were railing against. Or not.

Unlike the latter ears of Spock, I suspect the design and actual putting of the antenna was much, much cheaper. All of the controls were remote and radio activated, so they were fairly fool proof on his end. 

The unaired pilot which was based off a slush pile proposal that that had been rejected by the William Morris Agency more times than is worth noting. It was filmed in late 1962 and bought by the network in a few months later after an agent at William Morris finally liked it.

That pilot had a scene where Tim stops his car on the way back from the crash site at the nearest phone in order to call in his story about the Martian craft passing the X-15. 

It also had another scene showing how he used a levitator device to move his spaceship from a U-Haul trailer into Tim’s garage.

Like the later Star Trek series, it was produced at Desilu though it was an independent production, and the first seven shows were filmed at Desilu’s Cahuenga Studios, with those shows featuring a portable fireplace in the middle of the living room. When filming was moved to Soundstage 10 on the Desilu Gower lot, the fireplace was transferred to the corner of the living room.

There were quite a few unused scripts which, as I noted in my previous essay on the animated My Favorite Martian series, ended up being used there.

Remember it said the series was sweet? Well the network also thought it should be, err, dumb really. The network also opposed making the series at all intellectual and blocked the use of space age terminology. Sources said that CBS took the position that “This is a comedy show, let’s keep it that way…” And no skin and gambling please. A Las Vegas show was scripted but deep sixed by the network who to the end thought of My Favorite Martian as a children’s show.

One last note: a combination of a thermin and ondes martinet was used to provide the sounds which accompanied the antennae rising or when the use of levitation powers.

The show lasted three seasons, one hundred and seven episodes. Some in black and white, some in color. It is one of my favorite SF series of all time. Well it’s sort of an SF series in the way that The Munsters are a sort of a horror show.

The chemistry between Ray Walston and Bill Bixby was perfect. Really perfect. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 29, 1873 Theodore Lorch. He’s the High Priest in 1936’s Flash Gordon serial. He also shows up (uncredited originally) as Kane’s Council Member in the 1939 Buck Rogers serial. He also appeared in several Three Stooges comedies as well. (Died 1947.)
  • Born September 29, 1930 Naura Hayden. Her best-known film appearance is a starring role in The Angry Red Planet where she was Dr. Iris “Irish” Ryan. Yes, she was a redhead. Unless you count her uncredited appearance as a harem girl in Son of Sinbad, this is her only film or series genre role. Though in 1955, she joined a Canadian musical cast of Li’l Abner. This was made possible by Sidney W. Pink who wrote the script for The Angry Red Planet. (Died 2013.)
  • Born September 29, 1942 Ian McShane, 80. Setting aside Deadwood, which is the favorite series of Emma Bull and Will Shetterly, where he’s Al Swearengen, he portrays Mr. Wednesday in American Gods. And it turns out, although I don’t remember it, he was Dr. Robert Bryson in Babylon 5: The River of Souls film. And he’s Blackbeard in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Now you tell me which of his genre roles is your favorite? 
  • Born September 29, 1952 Lou Stathis. During the last four years of his life, he was an editor for Vertigo. He had a fascinating work history including collaborating with cartoonist Matt Howarth by co-writing the first few issues of Those Annoying Post Bros. (Kindle has them available.) He was also a columnist and editor for Heavy Metal and a columnist for Ted White’s Fantastic magazine during the late Seventies through early Eighties. His fanwriting included the “Urban Blitz” column for OGH’s Scientifriction (the first installment appearing in 1977, Issue 9, page 29). (Died 1997.)
  • Born September 29, 1954 Shariann Lewitt, 68. First, let me commend her for writing one of the better Trek novels in Cybersong set in the Voyager verse. Bravo, Shariann! Most of her fiction, be it Memento Mori or Rebel Sutra is definitely downbeat and usually dystopian in nature. Well written but not light reading by any means.
  • Born September 29, 1961 Nicholas Briggs, 61. A Whovian among Whovians. First off he’s the voice of the Daleks and the Cybermen in the new series of shows. Second he’s the Executive Producer of Big Finish Productions, the audioworks company that has produced more Doctor WhoTorchwood and other related works that you’d think possible. Third he’s appeared as himself in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. 
  • Born September 29, 1968 Stephen Deas, 54. British writer. He is most known for his fantasy franchise, the Memory of Flames which is set in a fantasy world inhabited by dragons. Yes, more dragons! Though dragon free free, I highly recommended his Thief-Taker’s Apprentice series as well. Good fantasy doesn’t always need dragons, does it?
  • Born September 29, 1980 Zachary Levi, 42. He was Chuck Bartowski in, errr,  Chuck. I still haven’t seen it, so how is it? He’s the title character in Shazam! which is wonderful in a deliberately comical manner.

(11) 2022 HARVEY HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES. Neil Gaiman, Marjorie Henderson Buell, Gilbert Shelton and Roy Thomas will be honored for their comic book work at New York Comic Con on October 7. Marjorie Henderson Buell, who died in 1993 and was the creator of Little Lulu, will be inducted posthumously.  “Harvey Awards to Induct New Hall of Fame Members” in the New York Times.The awards are named in honor of Harvey Kurtzman.

…Looking back, Gaiman shared some fond memories of his Harvey experiences. “The first time I was given a Harvey award, it was 1991, 31 years ago, I had a whole career or two ahead of me and Harvey Kurtzman was still alive. It was the award that bore his name, and was thus the most important award I had ever received,” he said in a statement. “Now, with over three decades of comics career behind me, it’s just as thrilling to hear that I get to join a Hall of Fame named for Harvey. He was one of the greats, and so many of the people who have been inducted already have been people I looked up to over the years. So this is an unalloyed delight for me.”…

(12) DANCE, DANCE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS. [Item by Olav Rokne.] This is certainly an audacious decision for Academy Award-winning director Danny Boyle; the genre veteran filmmaker known for 28 Days Later is turning his eye to a stage adaptation of The Matrix… reimagined as interpretive dance. It’s just so bonkers an idea that I think I may have to watch it. “Danny Boyle to Direct Dance Adaptation of ‘The Matrix’” reports Variety.

Danny Boyle is set to direct a dance adaptation of 1999 sci-fi blockbuster “The Matrix.”

Titled “Free Your Mind,” the Warner Bros. Theater Ventures-licensed project is set to debut next October at Factory International, a new arts venue in Manchester, U.K. The production, described as a “large-scale immersive performance,” will serve as the venue’s inaugural show.

“Combining the hip-hop choreography of hundreds of dancers with the latest immersive design, ‘Free Your Mind’ will take audiences on a thrilling journey through ‘The Matrix’ and into a new realm of possibilities,” reads the logline….

(13) BREAKTHROUGH PRIZE. Announced in today’s Nature: “US$3-million Breakthrough Prize winners 2022”.

The researchers behind the AlphaFold artificial-intelligence (AI) system have won one of this year’s US$3-million Breakthrough prizes — the most lucrative awards in science. Demis Hassabis and John Jumper, both at DeepMind in London, were recognized for creating the tool that has predicted the 3D structures of almost every known protein on the planet.

Another life-sciences Breakthrough prize was awarded jointly to sleep scientists Masashi Yanagisawa at the University of Tsukuba, Japan, and Emmanuel Mignot at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, for independently discovering that narcolepsy is caused by a deficiency of the brain chemical orexin.

A third life-sciences prize is shared by Clifford Brangwynne at Princeton University in New Jersey and Anthony Hyman at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany, for discovering a mechanism by which cell contents can organize themselves by segregating into droplets.

The Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics goes to Daniel Spielman, a mathematician at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Spielman was recognized for multiple advances, including the development of error-correcting codes to filter out noise in high-definition television broadcasts.

The Breakthrough prizes were founded in 2012 by Yuri Milner, a Russian-Israeli billionaire. They are now sponsored by Milner and other Internet entrepreneurs, including Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Meta (formerly Facebook).

(14) VOTE FOR 4433. “Brazilian Libertarian Politician Uses Anime Parodies in His Campaign Advertising”Anime News Network clues us in.

Brazilian politician Kim Kataguiri has been posting anime parody campaign ads on his YouTube channel to gear up for the upcoming general election on Sunday. On Wednesday, he posted a parody of Chika’s iconic dance from the Kaguya-sama: Love is War anime. Kataguiri himself, dressed in the Kaguya-sama’s male school uniform, is shown dancing alongside a Chika cosplayer.

…Kataguiri was elected congressman in October 2018 at the age of 22. He is one of the founders and leaders of the Free Brazil Movement, a libertarian group that opposes Brazil’s state capitalism in favor of free market policies. He is a populist figure who found his start in politics by posting popular satirical videos on YouTube. He also streams video games on Twitch.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Pitch Meeting Gets an Upgrade,” the producer says he is looking forward to the writer helping him make “unquestionably good decisions.”  But the writer says he has a letter from the inventor of YouTube, John YouTube, that says that after 300 episodes YouTube gets “a free Canadian actor upgrade.”  So Simu Liu shows up!

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

Pixel Scroll 8/25/22 Eats, Scrolls And Athelas

(1) RHYSLING REVAMP SURVEY REPORT. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) surveyed members about potential changes to their Rhysling Award. See their feedback here: “Rhysling Revamp” at the SPECPO blog. From the introduction:

The Rhysling Awards are in their 45th year of recognizing excellent speculative poetry, presented by The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA). Leaders have been monitoring the Rhysling Anthology as it grew along with membership numbers. The anthology has ballooned from 42 poems in 2002 to 180 poems in 2022. Continued growth would result in an anthology that is not feasible to print or read.

Here’s an excerpt from the survey results.

CATEGORIES

A continual discussion point among members is the question of “double dipping” on awards. Most respondents support that Elgin-length poems not be considered for the Rhysling (64%). A slight majority agree at setting a maximum line length for the Rhysling (53%), which would be consistent with considering extra-long poems being only eligible for the Elgins. On the other side of the spectrum, there is generally support (49%) for Dwarf Stars to be the only award that can catch the 1-10 line poems. Only 25% of respondents disagreed about keeping Dwarf-Stars-eligible poems out of the Rhyslings.

There was very little support for adjusting the length definitions, but lots of ambivalence showing in the swell of neutral responses (44%).

(2) CHICON 8 POCKET PROGRAM. In a manner of speaking. The 392-page Pocket Program is now available on the Chicon 8 website. There are two versions, (1) a single page version best viewed on phones and tablets, and (2) a two-page version which is best for printing.

(3) ALERT: FAUX CHICON 8 MERCHANDISE. The Worldcon committee issued a heads up that some t-shirt sites are selling Chicon 8 branded merchandise and saying they are official. They are not.

“Our only official site for Chicon 8 merchandise at this time is Redbubble. If you buy from anywhere else, it does not benefit the convention. Please shop wisely!”

(4) THE OTHER WORLD. This World Fantasy Award winner’s new book isn’t genre, but when speaking about her research she says things like this — “So I went on this fantastic two-week trip into a time and place that doesn’t really exist now.” “Sofia Samatar Brings a Second Coming” at Publishers Weekly.

Sofia Samatar has a way with a sentence. No matter what she’s writing—whether it’s short stories, like her quietly devastating Nebula- and Hugo-nominated “Selkie Stories Are for Losers,” or novels, like her World Fantasy Award–winning debut, A Stranger in Olondria—her work has a way of pairing the mundane and sublime with casual aplomb.

Her latest, The White Mosque (Catapult, Oct.), is a mosaic memoir that juxtaposes history, culture, religion and regionalism, tracing the journey of a group of German-speaking Mennonites into the heart of Khiva in Central Asia—now modern-day Uzbekistan—on a quest that promised no less than the second coming of Christ.

Samatar’s own journey to the site where the group’s church once stood started in 2016, when her father-in-law gave her a book titled The Great Trek of the Russian Mennonites, by Frank Belk. “This guy, who’s sort of a cult leader, predicts Christ is returning, and these people just uproot their lives to follow him,” she says, speaking via Zoom from her office at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., where she’s an associate professor of English. “Of course, nothing happens. But they stayed for 50 years, until they were deported by the Bolsheviks.”

Samatar, the child of a Black Somali Muslim and a white Mennonite, became obsessed with the story…. 

(5) CON OR BUST. Dream Foundry, which previously announced that Con or Bust is “folding into our (dragon) wing,” shared the program’s new logo designed by Dream Foundry contest winner Yue Feng.

Applications for grants are open, and they’ve already begun reviewing and issuing grants. If you want to help creatives and fans of color have access to conventions and other opportunities, donate here. To stay in the loop on Con or Bust news, sign up for the program’s quarterly newsletter.     

(6) BACK TO THE MOON. This NASA promo about the Artemis mission dropped yesterday. “Artemis I: We Are Ready”.

The journey of half a million miles – the first flight of the Artemis Generation – is about to begin. The uncrewed Artemis I mission will jump-start humanity’s return to the Moon with the thunderous liftoff of NASA’s powerful new Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft. This critical flight test will send Orion farther than any human-rated spacecraft has ever flown, putting new systems and processes to the test and lighting the way for the crew missions to come. Artemis I is ready for departure – and, together with our partners around the world, we are ready to return to the Moon, with our sights on Mars and beyond.

(7) WHERE’S THE LOOT? [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber looks at the problems game designers have giving users rewards.

Most games interface short, mid- and long-term rewards that trigger at different times.  the short-term rewards often take the form of sensory feedback; the bright ‘ding’ when you get a coin in Super Mario, an enemy’s head exploding in a shower of gore in Grand Theft Auto.  These get boring after a while–behavioural psychologists learned that repeating the same rewards generates diminishing returns.  So developers offer midterm rewards:  new levels, items, skills, characters, locations or narrative beats.  The longterm rewards are often related to social competition and prestige, such as difficult high-level team challenges or rare cosmetic items which players can show off to their friends.

Loot boxes lean into several of these techniques.  They have been employed in all manner of games ranging from FIFA to Star Wars, and they’re very profitable.  Yet they have also faced a backlash:  a recent report from consumer bodies in 18 European countries called them ‘exploitative.’  Although they have been banned in Belgium since 2018, most governments have been wary of legislation–the UK recently decided not to ban loot boxes after a 22-month consultation.  Still, some developers have heard gamers are unhappy–loot boxes were removed from Star Wars Battlefront 2 after an outcry and Blizzard recently announced they won’t feature in upcoming shooter Overwatch  2.”

(8) AGAINST ALL ODDS. The New York Times drills deep into one writer’s experience in “How to Get Published: A Book’s Journey From ‘Very Messy’ Draft to Best Seller”. The author’s novel The School for Good Mothers is set in the near future.

…“I’d like people to know that it’s possible for a debut author in her 40s, a woman of color, a mom, who led a quiet life offline with no brand building whatsoever to have this experience,” said Jessamine Chan.

And yet Chan’s “The School for Good Mothers” was published in January 2022 — and soared to the best-seller list, catapulting her to literary stardom. Last month, former President Barack Obama featured it on his summer reading list.

How does a debut novel go from a “very messy” draft on a writer’s desk to a published book, on display in bookstores around the country?

Here, we take you behind the scenes to see how a book is born — the winding path it takes, the many hands that touch it, the near-misses and the lucky breaks that help determine its fate.

(9) WHEATON SIGNING SCHEDULED. “Wil Wheaton presents and signs Still Just a Geek: An Annotated Memoir at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, CA on August 31 at 7:00 p.m.

From starring in Stand by Me to playing Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation to playing himself, in his second (third?) iconic role of Evil Wil Wheaton in The Big Bang Theory, to becoming a social media supernova, Wil Wheaton has charted a career course unlike anyone else, and has emerged as one of the most popular and well respected names in science fiction, fantasy and pop culture.

Back in 2001, Wil began blogging on wilwheaton.net. Believing himself to have fallen victim to the curse of the child actor, Wil felt relegated to the convention circuit, and didn’t expect many would want to read about his random experiences and personal philosophies.

Yet, much to his surprise, people were reading. He still blogs, and now has an enormous following on social media with well over 3 million followers.

In Still Just a Geek, Wil revisits his 2004 collection of blog posts, Just a Geek, filled with insightful and often laugh-out-loud annotated comments, additional later writings, and all new material written for this publication. The result is an incredibly raw and honest memoir, in which Wil opens up about his life, about falling in love, about coming to grips with his past work, choices, and family, and finding fulfillment in the new phases of his career. From his times on the Enterprise to his struggles with depression to his starting a family and finding his passion–writing–Wil Wheaton is someone whose life is both a cautionary tale and a story of finding one’s true purpose that should resonate with fans and aspiring artists alike. (William Morrow & Company)

(10) VIKING FUNERAL FOR BATGIRL? The Guardian hears “‘Secret’ screenings of cancelled Batgirl movie being held by studio – reports”.

The Hollywood Reporter confirmed with multiple sources that a select few who worked on the film, including cast, crew and studio executives, would be attending the screenings this week on the Warner Bros lot in California. One source described them as “funeral screenings”, as it is likely the footage will be stored forever and never shown to the public.

…The Hollywood Reporter reported there was a chance Warner Bros would make “the drastic move of actually destroying its Batgirl footage as a way to demonstrate to the IRS that there will never be any revenue from the project, and thus it should be entitled to the full write-down immediately.”

On Tuesday, in an interview with French outlet Skript, Batgirl directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah said they no longer had any copy of the film, recalling the moment they found they could not longer access the servers that held the footage.

…El Arbi said it was unlikely they’d have the studio’s support to release it in the future or that there could be an equivalent of “the Snyder cut” – Zack Snyder’s four-hour director’s cut of the DC film Justice League, which added an extra $70m to a $300m budget film.

“It cannot be released in its current state,” said El Arbi. “There’s no VFX … we still had some scenes to shoot. So if one day they want us to release the Batgirl movie, they’d have to give us the means to do it. To finish it properly with our vision.”

(11) TRANSFORMATIVE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT. Seekingferret posted a “Panel Report” from Fanworks where the topic was “Ethical Norms in Fanworks Fandom”.

… I presented three models for fandom’s approach to copyright- the It’s All Transformative model, the It’s Illegal but I Do It Anyway model, and the It’s Not Illegal Because the Copyright Holders’ Inaction is an Implicit License model, and then the audience argued with me for a while about whether the second two models are essentially the same, which was a good, clarifying argument to have….

Also of interest is the panel’s accompanying slideshow.

(12) WARNING. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Since, fan-wise, many cons use Discord… “Roblox and Discord Become Virus Vectors for New PyPI Malware” at The New Stack.

If you can communicate on it, you can abuse it. This was proven again recently when a hacker using the name “scarycoder” uploaded a dozen malicious Python packages to PyPI, the popular Python code repository. These bits of code pretended to provide useful functions for Roblox gaming community developers, but all they really did was steal users’ information. So far, so typical. Where it got interesting is it used the Discord messaging app to download malicious executable files.

(13) BOOK PORN. [Item by Bill.] Whenever I see a photograph on the web that has a bookshelf in the background, I spend way too much time trying to figure out what the books are.  For example: 

Blogger Lawrence Person has posted photos of his SF book shelves, and there are a lot of titles I’d love to have in my own collection.  A few years old, but perhaps worth a look ….  “Overview of Lawrence Person’s Library: 2017 Edition”. He provides regular updates to the collection (see the “books” tag).  

(14) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1989 [By Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-three years ago, the first installment of the Bill & Ted franchise, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure premiered.

Starring William “Bill” S. Preston Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan, portrayed by Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves as, and not giving a frell about spoilers here, time travelling slacker high schoolers assembling the ultimate history report. And let’s not forget Rufus as portrayed by George Carlin. I met him some forty years ago — a really neat gentleman. 

Stephen Herek directed here. He had previously written and directed the horror/SF Critters film. Nasty film it was. Chris Matheson who wrote all three of the franchise films co-wrote this with Ed Solomon who co-wrote the third with him and, more importantly, was the Men in Black writer.

By late Eighties standards, it was cheap to produce costing only ten million and making forty in return. Critics for the most part were hostile —- the Washington Post said “if Stephen Herek has any talent for comedy, it’s not visible here.” And the Los Angeles Times added, “it’s unabashed glorification of dumbness for dumbness’ sake.” 

It spawned not one but two television series named – oh, guess what they were named. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, an animated series that started out on CBS and ended on Fox, lasted twenty-one episodes over two seasons, and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the live version, lasted but seven episodes on Fox. Evan Richards and Christopher Kennedy played Bill and Ted.

DC did the comic for the first film, Marvel for the second. It did well enough that it led to the Marvel series Bill & Ted’s Excellent Comic Book which lasted for just twelve issues. And there was a sort of adaptation of the animated series that lasted for a year by Britain’s now gone Look-In Magazine.

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a most bodacious seventy-five percent rating.

(15) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 25, 1909 Michael Rennie. Definitely best remembered as Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still. He would show up a few years later on one of The Lost World films as Lord John Roxton, and he’s got an extensive genre series resume which counts Lost in Space as The Keeper in two episodes, The Batman as The Sandman, The Time TunnelThe Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Invaders. (Died 1972.)
  • Born August 25, 1913 Walt Kelly. If you can get them, Fantagraphics has released the complete Pogo in twelve stunning hardcover editions covering up to 1973. Did you know Kelly began his career as animator at Walt Disney Studios, working on DumboPinocchio and Fantasia? Well he did. (Died 1973.)
  • Born August 25, 1930 Sean Connery. Worst film? Zardoz. Best film? From Russia with Love very, very definitely. Best SF film? Outland. Or Time Bandits you want to go for silly. Now remember these are my personal choices. I almost guarantee that you will have different ones. (Died 2020.)
  • Born August 25, 1940 Marilyn Niven, 82. She was a Boston-area fan who now lives in LA and is married to writer Larry Niven. She has worked on a variety of conventions, both regionals and Worldcons.  In college, she was a member of the MITSFS and was one of the founding members of NESFA. She’s also a member of Almack’s Society for Heyer Criticism.
  • Born August 25, 1947 Michael Kaluta, 75. He’s best known for his 1970s take on The Shadow with writer Dennis O’Neil for DC in 1973–1974. He’d reprise his work on The Shadow for Dark Horse a generation later. And Kaluta and O’Neil reunited on The Shadow: 1941 – Hitler’s Astrologer graphic novel published in 1988. If you can find them, the M. W. Kaluta: Sketchbook Series are well worth having.
  • Born August 25, 1955 Simon R. Green, 67. I’ll confess that I’ve read pretty much everything he’s written except that damn Robin Hood novel that made a NYT Best Seller. Favorite series? The NightsideHawk & Fisher and Secret History were my favorite ones until the Ismael Jones series came along and I must say it’s a hell of a lot of fun as well.  Drinking Midnight Wine and Shadows Fall are the novels I’ve re-read the most. 
  • Born August 25, 1958 Tim Burton, 64. Beetlejuice is by far my favorite film by him. His Batman was, errr, interesting. Read that comment as you will. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is definitely more Dahlish than the first take was which I think is a far better look at the source material, and Sleepy Hollow is just too damn weird for my pedestrian tastes. (Snarf.)
  • Born August 25, 1970 Chris Roberson, 52. Brilliant writer. I strongly recommend his Recondito series, Firewalk and Firewalkers. The Spencer Finch series is also worth reading. He won two Sidewise Awards, first for his “O One” story and later for The Dragon’s Nine Sons novel. He’s had five Sidewise nominations. 

(16) COMICS SECTION.

(17) HORROR WRITERS HAVE OPINIONS. Midnight Pals did a sendup of John Scalzi and his purchase of a church building. And his burritos. Can’t overlook those. Thread starts here.

(18) SPACE OPERA. “Friday’s Rag Tag Crew: Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky”, a review by Camestros Felapton.

… I found myself in the mood for a big space opera the other day and with the novel also being a Dragon Award finalist, it seemed like a natural choice. I wasn’t wrong in my initial assessment. It is in many ways a more conventional space opera than the books I’d read. Humanity is a spacefaring species with its own factions, in a galactic society with a range of aliens. There’s hyperspace (or rather “unspace”), a cosmic threat, mysteriously vanished advanced civilisations, space spies, space gangsters, badass warriors and epic space battles. This is all good but if you are hoping for the millennia-long deep dive into the evolution of a sapient spider civilisation this book doesn’t have anything like that. Which is fine because that gives Tchaikovsky more space and time to attend to a cast of characters….

(19) A CITY ON A HILL. Paul Weimer reviews Stephen Fry’s Troy at Nerds of a Feather: “Microreview [book]: Troy, by Stephen Fry”. There may be surprises in store for some readers – at least there were for Paul.

…In any event, Fry is here to help you. He starts at the beginning, as to how Troy was founded, and why, and brings its history up to date as it were. The delight in the depth of research and scholarship he brings is tha there is a fair chunk here I didn’t know about. Fun fact, the Trojan War is not the first time that Troy gets attacked in its mythological history, and you will never guess who did it before the Greeks got it into their heads to take back Helen, nor why…. 

(20) GOING PUBLIC. “Tom Lehrer: The Public Domain Tango”, a Plagiarism Today post from 2020.

…However, it seems likely that Lehrer may be set for yet another major revival as news spread yesterday that Lehrer, now 92, had released his lyrics and much of his music into the public domain. This has already sparked a great deal of interest in possible covers and recreations of his most famous songs.

Note: It’s worth stating that the declaration deals with his compositions and his lyrics, not the recordings. Those are most likely not owned by Lehrer.

However, the statement isn’t wholly true. Tom Lehrer didn’t actually release his songs into the public domain. While it may be pedantry given that there is no practical difference, the lengths Lehrer had to go to release what he did in the way that he did only further highlights Lehrer’s genius and is well worth exploring.

If this is truly to be Lehrer’s final musical act, it makes sense to see it for both the effort it took and the intellect required to conceive of it….

(21) AI GIVES ASSIST TO MUSIC VIDEO. [Item by Dann.] Someone recently made a video using the lyrics to “Renegade” by Styx.  The lyrics were fed, line by line, into AI art software to create the images used in the video.

While the lyrics aren’t explicitly genre centered, the AI created several images that evoked sci-fi/fantasy themes.  The rhetorical progeny of Edgar Allen Poe shows up a few times as well. “Renegade – Styx – But the lyrics are Ai generated images”.

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part I Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says the producer in the seventh Harry Potter film mourns when several beloved minor characters die.  He is bored by the very long camping scenes (where the characters camp and camp and camp some more” but gets excited when Harry Potter gets to duke it out with Voldemort only to discover that this is the end of Part I and we have to wait for Part II.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/30/22 I Can Scroll Pixels From The Vasty File

(1) BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING. ALSO LISTENING, PHONE-STALKING, AND DNA TRACKING. “A New York Times analysis of over 100,000 government bidding documents found that China’s ambition to collect digital and biological data from its citizens is more expansive and invasive than previously known.” “Four Takeaways From a Times Investigation Into China’s Expanding Surveillance State”. There’s also a 15-minute video at the link.

China’s ambition to collect a staggering amount of personal data from everyday citizens is more expansive than previously known, a Times investigation has found. Phone-tracking devices are now everywhere. The police are creating some of the largest DNA databases in the world. And the authorities are building upon facial recognition technology to collect voice prints from the general public.

The Times’s Visual Investigations team and reporters in Asia spent over a year analyzing more than a hundred thousand government bidding documents. They call for companies to bid on the contracts to provide surveillance technology, and include product requirements and budget size, and sometimes describe at length the strategic thinking behind the purchases. Chinese laws stipulate that agencies must keep records of bids and make them public, but in reality the documents are scattered across hard-to-search web pages that are often taken down quickly without notice. ChinaFile, a digital magazine published by the Asia Society, collected the bids and shared them exclusively with The Times.

This unprecedented access allowed The Times to study China’s surveillance capabilities. The Chinese government’s goal is clear: designing a system to maximize what the state can find out about a person’s identity, activities and social connections, which could ultimately help the government maintain its authoritarian rule….

(2) LEAVING THE GOLD STANDARD BEHIND. Rich Horton’s latest “Old Hugos that never were” post lists potential Hugo Nominations among stories published in 1949. “Hugo Nomination Recommendations, 1950” at Strange at Ecbatan.

…This is the earliest set of potential Hugo nominees for 1950s Worldcons I’ll do. I chose this date mainly because it seemed a clean break to posts on 10 years of Hugos — for the 10 1950s Worldcons. (The 1950 Worldcon was NorWesCon, held in Portland, OR.) 

Another reason is that 1949 is a fairly significant year in the transition from the so-called “Golden Age” to the next phase … the time when John W. Campbell’s Astounding slipped from its unquestioned place at the top of the SF heap. …

(3) EYE ON THE DREAM. There’s a rich selection of videos about writing and career advice on the Dream Foundry YouTube page, including many items recorded during their Flights of Foundry event.

(4) CATCH UP WITH WFC. The World Fantasy Con 2022’s third Progress Report can be downloaded by anyone at this page. It includes write-ups about all the guests of honor and toastmaster.

(5) LUNAR ACCOMODATIONS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] In a hole in the moon there lived a moonstronaut. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a moonstronaut-hole, and that means comfort.

Relatively speaking.

The Atlantic extols “The Coziest Spot on the Moon”. Most of the text of the article is behind a paywall. The Atlantic does show a limited number of free articles and makes the first bits of additional articles available to all.

The moon has a reputation for “magnificent desolation,” as Buzz Aldrin said when he stepped onto the surface more than 50 years ago. It has no atmosphere to speak of, and no protection from a constant stream of radiation, whether from the sun or deep space. During a lunar day, about as long as 15 of our own, nonstop sunlight makes the surface hot enough to boil water. A lunar night lasts just as long, only it’s unfathomably cold.

Yet hidden in this bleak picture are a select few places that might offer some respite from all those inhospitable conditions. And one particular spot that sounds almost … pleasant?

Using data from a spacecraft in orbit around the moon, scientists have studied a cavern on the lunar surface and discovered that part of it has a pleasantly cool temperature of 63 degrees Fahrenheit (about 17 degrees Celsius). This cavern is shaped like a cylinder, and extends about 328 feet (100 meters) down from the surface—about the height of a 30-story building. Sunlight illuminates only part of the cavern’s bottom; the rest is out of reach, and remains permanently shadowed….

(6) ALL CATS, ZERO HUMANS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews Stray, a new game from Annapurna Interactive. Faber begins his column by explaining that before YouTube he and his friends delighted in getting semi-secret URLs for crazy cat videos.

The game casts you as a slender ginger who lives in a humanless future. Your hero has neither magical powers nor an arsenal of quips; it’s just a regular moggie, mute except for miaows and purrs.  An accidental slip sends it tumbling into a sunless underworld occupied by friendly robots with TVs for faces and nasty little creatures called Zurks. With the help of a drone companion, your mission is to find a way back to the surface and work out what happened to the humans. The game balances puzzles, stealth, and platforming with explanatory quests more reminiscent of old point-and-click adventure games.  Its gameplay is well constructed but unremarkable,…

…Still, if you are a fan of felines, this game is catnip.  It’s easy to imagine a room of developers making a huge list of all the particular things cats do and incorporating them:  you can scratch at carpets, push objects off roofs, walk on computer or piano keyboards to chaotic effect and settle down for a nap on a pile of cushions. There’s even a dedicated ‘miaow’ button whose sound on PS5 issues intimately from your computer. Most of these features do not serve a gameplay purpose–the game just wants you to enjoy being a cat.

Faber says that there’s a Twitter feed of cats enjoying watching the feline cyberpunk dystopia action in Stray.

Of further interest to Filers: the Washington Post reports “Players are putting their own pets into ‘Stray,’ the cat video game”.

“Stray,” the video game about a nameless feral cat wandering through a city of robots, is one of the summer’s biggest surprise hits. Now, some players are modifying the game to add their own feline friends to its post-apocalyptic world.

Mods — short for modifications — are fan-made alterations to a video game that are done by rewriting or changing the game’s files. The simplest mods make cosmetic changes, such as changing the texture on a weapon to look nicer. But mods can also be wildly ambitious, sometimes ballooning into entirely new games. 2021’s “The Forgotten City,” an adventure set in ancient Rome, was originally a “Skyrim” mod.

On NexusMods, a site that hosts downloadable mods, there are already a number of options available to players seeking to change the look of “Stray’s” furry hero with different coats and eye colors. The site is flush with options for black cats, gray tabbies, calicoes and more, each already downloaded hundreds of times.

Many of the modders who made those skins based them off their own cats. One creator added their green-eyed tuxedo cat, Maro, to “Stray.” The download page includes a real-life photo reference for maximum accuracy. Hi, Maro!

(7) CHARLIE JANE ANDERS NEWS. Variety reports “Michael B. Jordan, Amazon Hire Gennifer Hutchison for New Series”.

Michael B. Jordan’s Outlier Society and Amazon have brought on Gennifer Hutchison to serve as showrunner on the series “Victories Greater Than Death.”

Variety has learned exclusively that Hutchison, in addition to showrunning, will also write and executive produce on the series, which is based on the Charlie Jane Anders novel of the same name. It was reported as being in development at Amazon in September 2021….

… “Victories Greater Than Death” follows Tina, a teenager and keeper of an interplanetary rescue beacon. Tina can’t wait for it to activate, leave home, and chase her dreams. But she’s stuck waiting, until one day, destiny calls….

(8) THEY’RE MELTING. Ironic without being funny: “Snowpiercer Production Halted Following Hospitalizations Due to Extreme Heat” reports CBR.com.

Production on Snowpiercer‘s fourth and final season is on hold after multiple members of the cast and crew were hospitalized due to heat exhaustion.

On Thursday, temperatures hit the mid-90s on the show’s outdoor set in British Columbia, Canada. The high temperatures resulted in as many as 14 people, including background actors and crew members, requiring transportation to local hospitals to seek treatment, as one crew member tells Deadline….

(9) IT’S ALL IN HIS HEAD. “’Max Headroom’ Series Reboot Starring Matt Frewer In Works At AMC Networks From Christopher Cantwell & Elijah Wood’s SpectreVision”Deadline has details.

A 1980s pop culture mainstay is plotting a comeback. AMC Networks is developing a Max Headroom drama series reboot, with Matt Frewer set to reprise his role as the world’s first artificial intelligence TV personality. Halt and Catch Fire co-creator Christopher Cantwell is writing the adaptation and is attached as showrunner for the project, which is produced by Elijah Wood and Daniel Noah’s SpectreVision and All3Media….

(10) MASHED UP INTELLECTUAL PROPERTIES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Marvel comics are now Penguin Classics. Time to turn classics into Marvel.”, the Washington Post’s Alexandra Petri shows what classics such as Little Women and The Scarlet Letter would look like with the addition of superheroes. Here’s one example:

The Importance of Being Earnest: “To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune,” Lady Bracknell intones, “but to lose both and also your Uncle Ben in an unrelated incident looks like carelessness.” Jack rolls his eyes at her. “Okay, Downton Abbey. Nobody asked you.”

Cecily punches Algernon in the face. “That’s for not being named Ernest,” she says. She punches him again. “And that’s for trying to pit me against Gwendolen, who is my sister, and we passed the Bechdel Test together seconds before you came in.” “Good,” Algernon says, rubbing his face. “I wouldn’t have known you were a strong woman unless you punched somebody!”

(11) SPACE MEMORIAL PLANS. People have an opportunity to say a final farewell to Carolyn Meskell Grayson on August 4. The wife of Ashley Grayson, who has worked in the field as a literary agent, died in 2017. Click on the link and see the picture of her that is going into space on August 4. “Tesla Photo in Space Mosaic”.

(12) MEMORY LANE.  

1995 [By Cat Eldridge.] Ghosts. Haunted houses. Many maintain that such concepts have no place in our computerized twentieth century reality. But until man conquers death, one inevitable question will always linger within the recesses of the human mind: What lies beyond? — Opening narration Outer Limits’s “If These Walls Could Talk”.

Twenty-seven years ago this evening on the rebooted Outer Limits we had an apparently classic haunted house story where a woman whose son disappeared asks a supernatural debunker to investigate a seemingly haunted house where her son was last seen.

SPOILER ALERT!

Now being Outer Limits, it turns out that the house isn’t haunted at all. Did any of you read the first novel in Simon R. Green’s Nightside series, Something from the Nightside? John Taylor enters a house to rescue a woman only to discover the house itself is alive. Same here. It’s essentially an alien kudzu lifeform that crashed to earth and is mimicking being a house. And eating people. Lots of them.

I think that, like the alien house in Something from the Nightside, that the scriptwriter did a rather good job of making the Big Bad believable. 

END SPOILER

I don’t think it’s steaming for free anywhere right now. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 30, 1911 Reginald Bretnor. Author of many genre short stories involving Ferdinand Feghoot, a comical figure indeed. It looks like all of these are available in digital form on iBooks and Kindle. He was a consummate SJW. He translated Les Chats, the first known book about cats which was written by Augustin Paradis de Moncrif in 1727. He also wrote myriad articles about cats, was of course a companion to cats, and considered himself to have a psychic connection to cats. Of course most of us do. (Died 1992.)
  • Born July 30, 1927 Victor Wong. I remember him best as the Chinese sorcerer Egg Shen in John Carpenter’s exemplary Big Trouble in Little China. He was also The Old Man in The Golden Child, Walter Chang in Tremors, Dr. Wong in the “China Moon” episode of the Beauty and the Beast series and Lee Tzin-Soong in the “Fox Spirit” episode of Poltergeist: The Legacy. (Died 2001.)
  • Born July 30, 1948 Carel Struycken, 74. I remember him best as the gong ringing Mr. Holm on Next Gen, companion to Deanna Troi’s mother. He was also Lurch in The Addams FamilyAddams Family Values and the Addams Family Reunion. He’s listed as being Fidel in The Witches of Eastwick but I’ll be damned if I remembered his role in that film. And he’s in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor which I’ve never seen… 
  • Born July 30, 1961 Laurence Fishburne, 61. Appeared in The Matrix films of which I watched at least two. His voice work as Thrax in Osmosis Jones is outstanding as is his role as Bill Foster in Ant-Man. Oh I must note that he shows up on the new Muppets series they did about a decade ago in the “Hostile Makeover” riff they do in the first season. 
  • Born July 30, 1966 Jess Nevins, 56. Author of the superlative Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victorian and the equally great Heroes & Monsters: The Unofficial Companion to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen which is far better than the film ever could be. He’s also written the Fable Encyclopedia which is a most excellent look at Willingham series. I didn’t know he was a fiction author ‘til now but he has two genre novels, The Road to Prester John and The Datong Incident. He picked up three impressive nominations: IGH for Companion to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, World Fantasy for The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana and Sidewise for An Alternate History of Chinese Science Fiction. I’ve read the first two and recommend them wholeheartedly. 
  • Born July 30, 1970 Christopher Nolan, 52. Writer, producer and often director as well of the latest Batman film franchise, The Prestige (which I absolutely love), InterstellarInception and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to name some of his work. Tenet was nominated for a Hugo at DisCon III. 
  • Born July 30, 1975 Cherie Priest, 47. Her southern gothic Eden Moore series is kickass good and Clockwork Universe series is a refreshing take on steampunk which has been turned into full cast audiobooks by GraphicAudio. I’ve not read the Cheshire Red Reports novels so have no idea how good they are. Anyone read these?  She won an Endeavour Award for her Dreadnought novel.
  • Born July 30, 1984 Gina Rodriguez, 38. Anya Thorensen in Annihilation based on Jeff VanderMeer’s novels which I’ve read though I’ve not seen the film. She was also Robin I the “Subway” episode of the Eleventh Hour series, and directed the “Witch Perfect” episode of the new Charmed series.  Who has seen this new Charmed series?

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! shows a supercrime in progress.
  • poorly drawn lines has a time traveling reconnaissance report.

(15) HANDICAPPING THE LODESTAR. Garik16 is reviewing the 2022 Hugo finalists – and also the books up for “The Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult SciFi/Fantasy Novel”. An insightful set of comments!

To start this series, we’re looking at the Lodestar Award, which is “technically” not a Hugo Award, but is awarded with them anyway, so it counts for this series.  The Lodestar Award is for the best Young Adult SciFi and Fantasy novels of the previous year – the Hugo equivalent of the Norton Award (which is the Nebula version of the same award).  As a huge fan of YA works, I love going through the nominees of this award every year, and unsurprisingly I had read all of the nominees of this one prior to the shortlist being announced.  None of the nominees were on y nomination ballot….and yet there’s a number of works here on this list that I really liked, and a few very deserving winners….

(16) CLIMB INSIDE YOUR TV. Yahoo! Entertainment covers the walk-through displays created for fans attending SDCC: “Inside the ‘Severance’ Offices, Visiting the ‘House of the Dragon,’ and Other Wild Activations at Comic-Con This Year”. Photos included.

Not all of this year’s San Diego Comic-Con action took place on the convention center floor or in its ballrooms. While studios and producers like Marvel made headlines in Hall H, thousands of attendees to this year’s Con took time out to visit lavish, expensive activations geared toward an experiential visit to the worlds of films and series like Apple TV+’s “Severance,” HBO’s upcoming “Game of Thrones” prequel “House of the Dragon” and the upcoming “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” movie.

Fans eager to return to Comic-Con — the first since 2019, after two years of virtual events due to the pandemic — welcomed that ability to once again interact with pop culture. Here are five of the most notable activations at this year’s Comic-Con, which took place July 20 to July 24….

(17) RECOVERING THE WONDER. “Scenes from The Wizard of Oz Remastered in Brilliant 4K Detail: Behold the Work of a Creative YouTuber” at Open Culture.

…This final form of Technicolor enraptures viewers even today, reproducing colors as it did at intense, sometimes borderline-psychedelic depths of saturation. The process found its ideal material in the fantasy of The Wizard of Oz, with its yellow brick road (choosing whose exact shade inspired about a week of deliberation at MGM), its ruby slippers (calculatedly changed from the silver shoes in L. Frank Baum’s original novel), and its host of settings and characters with great chromatic potential.

You can appreciate this un-repeatably fortuitous intersection of content and technology again in these scenes from an unofficial 4K restoration of the film posted by Youtuber Oriel Malik.

This is surely the sharpest and most-detail rich version of The Wizard of Oz most of us have seen, and, in those respects, it actually outdoes the original prints of the film. For some the image may actually be too clear, making obvious as it does certain artificial-looking aspects of the backgrounds and costumes. But in a sense this may not run counter to the intentions of the filmmakers, who knew full well what genre they were working in: even on film, a musical must retain at least some of the look and feel of the stage. 

(18) ON THE GRIPPING HAND. The Verge explains how “Scientists reanimate dead spiders as robot gripping claws”.

Why bother to design your own robots when you can just reuse what nature created?

This was the thought process behind a research project from engineers at Rice University who successfully transformed dead spiders into robotic gripping claws. The scientists have dubbed their new area of research “necrobotics” and say it could create cheap, effective, and biodegradable alternatives to current robotic systems….

(19) LONG MEMORY. Scott Simon’s opinion piece for NPR asks “Are robots masters of strategy, and also grudges?”

When I saw that a robot had broken the finger of a 7-year-old boy it was playing at the Moscow Open chess tournament, my first reaction was, “They’re coming for us.”

All the machines that have been following commands, taking orders, and telling humans, “Your order is on the way!”, “Recalculating route!”, or “You’d really like this 6-part Danish miniseries!” have grown tired of serving our whims, fulfilling our wishes, and making their silicon-based lives subservient to us carbon breathers.

And so, a chess-playing robot breaks the finger of a little boy who was trying to outflank him in a chess match.

Onlookers intervened to extricate the boy’s hand from what’s called the actuator, which a lot of us might call a claw. The boy’s finger was placed in a plaster cast. He returned to the tournament the next day.

Sergey Smagin, vice-president of the Moscow Chess Federation, told the Baza Telegram channel that the robot had lunged after the little boy tried to make his move too quickly.

“There are certain safety rules,” he said, “and the child, apparently, violated them.”…

(20) SHELF AWARENESS. The New York Times’ profile of Anthony Marra, author of the forthcoming Mercury Pictures Presents, “Using Fiction to Summon the Glittering, Golden Age of Hollywood”, shows what it’s like when there’s an author in the family.

…The women are named after Marra’s own great-aunts, first-generation Italian Americans with a similarly curdled worldview. (“You poor girl,” one of the fictional aunts tells Maria. “You have your whole life ahead of you.”)

The last of Marra’s aunts, Mimi, died in 2015.

“She lived to 98 and hated every second of it,” Marra said. “Her love language was that she told people that her grandnephew was better than theirs.”

When Marra’s first book came out, Mimi drove around to different bookstores, moving copies of the novel closer to the front door. “I’m sure she didn’t read it herself, but she would be damn sure that you would,” Marra said….

(21) HEY, HO. Jim Janney shared this wonderful parody in comments:

When that I was and a little tiny fan,
With hey, ho, the pixel and the scroll,
No one did worry if my verses would scan,
For the file it scrolleth every day.

But when I came to fan’s estate,
With hey, ho, the pixel and the scroll,
‘Gainst bots and trolls fen shut their gate,
For the file it scrolleth every day.

But when at a con did I arrive,
With hey, ho, the pixel and the scroll,
By swaggering could I never thrive,
For the file it scrolleth every day.

A great while ago the world begun,
With hey, ho, the pixel and the scroll,
But that’s all one, our file is done,
And we’ll strive to please you every day.

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In this 2013 video by Jeff Blyth, Wall-E creates an evil robot and they have a showdown. “Breaking Bad Robot”.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, Carl Andor, Denise Dumars, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

2022 Dream Foundry Contests Open to Submissions August 8

The Dream Foundry’s contests for emerging writers and artists will be open to submissions from August 8 through October 8. There are no fees to submit.

The mission of The Dream Foundry is “to bolster and sustain the nascent careers of professionals working in the field of speculative literature.”

The contests are for writers and artists who are relatively new to paid or incoming-earning illustration work or publication of speculative short fiction in English. Past winners have gone on to have their work published and attain full time professional roles in their field. 

The full rules and details regarding the contests, including links to submit and full profiles on the judges, are available here:

Prizes for each contest are $1000 for first place, $500 for second place, and $200 for third place.

ART CONTEST. The first place prize for the Art Contest is the Monu Bose Memorial Prize for Art. Winners are also showcased and offered workshop and portfolio review opportunities at Flights of Foundry, a global virtual convention that brings together professionals from across the industry.

Every year The Dream Foundry contest coordinators select ten finalists for each contest from a pool of submissions from artists and writers around the world. Then the judges choose three winners for each contest.

This year the art contest coordinator is Dante Luiz, art director for Ignyte-winning Strange Horizons Magazine. The judges for the art contest are Mateus Manhanini and Daniela Viçoso. Mateus Manhanini is a digital illustrator and comic colorist from Brazil whose clients include Marvel Comics, Wizards Of The Coast, and DC Comics. Daniela Viçoso Daniela Viçoso is an Algarvian artist whose one-shot Erasmus song was awarded one of the bronze awards at the 13th edition of the Japan International Manga Award (2020).

WRITING CONTEST. The writing contest coordinator this year is Julia Rios, whose editing work has won multiple awards, including the Hugo. The judges for the writing contest are L.D. Lewis and Sarah Gailey. L.D. Lewis is an award-winning SF/F writer and editor, publisher at Fireside Fiction, and founding creator, Art Director, and Project Manager for the World Fantasy Award-winning and Hugo Award-nominated FIYAH Literary Magazine. Sarah Gailey is a Hugo Award winning author of speculative fiction, short stories, and essays. They have been a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards for multiple years running.