Register for The Anvil, A Virtual Event Hosted by Dream Foundry’s Con or Bust Program

Registration for The Anvil is open! The Anvil is The Dream Foundry’s new event, hosted by their Con or Bust program, is a virtual one-day unconference for creatives of color, happening August 10 from noon-10 p.m. Central.

The unconference format does away with top-down programming. Instead, the event list is built by the attendees and to meet their wants and needs. In addition to attendee-led discussions and networking opportunities, The Anvil will feature keynote speeches and sessions for sharing work. All Anvil attendees will be able to participate in Crowdfunding to Build Independence, a workshop run by short film startup incubator Seed & Spark.

The Anvil is an opportunity for creatives of color to meet a cohort of industry peers, share experiences, advice, and the resources needed to thrive in an ever changing and often hostile industry. Celebrate craft, creativity, and community with peers and colleagues during 10 hours dedicated to honoring and supporting creatives of color and their work.

Registration for the Anvil will be capped at 500 attendees and there are no registration fees for their core audience. All sponsorship fees and other revenue brought in beyond the event’s expenses will go towards funding Con or Bust grants.

Dream Foundry is actively inviting sponsors for this event, from industry organizations, businesses, and individuals looking to demonstrate and renew their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in a way that has clear and immediate impact. Sponsorship applications are available here.

Dream Foundry’s Con or Bust program issues cash grants and other material support to fans and creatives of color to help connect them with SFFH genre events and resources. Dream Foundry is the registered 501(c)(3) non-profit that hosts the annual Ignyte Award winning Flights of Foundry, a 3-day 24-hour multidisciplinary virtual convention with global attendance.

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 3/29/24 Scroll On, You Crazy Pixel

(1) FLOTSAM AND JETSAM. The five-day “Treasures From Planet Hollywood” auction brought in more than $15.6 million from over 5,500 bidders worldwide across some 1,600 lots, according to Heritage Auctions. Here are some items of genre interest that fetched big bucks.

Mechanical Man from Hugo

The whip from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom sold for $525,000 to become the most valuable prop or costume from the beloved franchise…

Another first-day smash was the Bapty& Co.-made ax Jack Nicholson used to heeeeeere’s-Johnny his way through the bathroom door in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Among the first props Planet Hollywood secured before its grand opening in New York City in 1991, that ax sold for $125,000. When that sold Wednesday after a fierce bidding war, the auction room erupted in applause — for the first time, but not the last.

Over the five-day event, the hits kept coming: The Barbasol can Wayne Knight uses to smuggle dinosaur embryos out of 1993’s Jurassic Park realized $250,000The blaster Princess Leia carried across the forest moon of Endor in Return of the Jedi sold for $150,000, while an original Stormtrooper blaster from Star Wars, which Bapty & Co. forged from a British Sterling submachine gun, sold for $112,500.

Tobey Maguire’s black symbiote suit from 2007’s Spider-Man 3 swung out the door for $125,000, just a web ahead of one of his signature Spidey suits from the same film, which realized $106,250A “good guy” Chucky doll from 1988’s Child’s Play scared up a winning bid of $106,250….

…. A set of three Sankara stones from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom realized $100,000, while “the cup of the carpenter” — the Holy Grail itself — sold for $87,500.

But one of the auction’s first bidding wars was over a display figure wearing Gary Oldman’s Vlad the Impaler reproduced armor from 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which Planet Hollywood obtained from technical advisor Christopher Gilman and sold on Wednesday for $87,500. And on the auction’s final day, a bidding war broke out over a prop from one of Martin Scorsese’s most underappreciated masterpieces, his 2011 adaptation of Brian Selznick’s children’s book Hugo, from which the original Mechanical Man automaton realized $81,250….

The top-selling item overall was the “Titanic prop that saved Rose and sparked debate…” reports NPR.

…”The wood panel from Titanic that saved Rose — but, controversially, not Jack — was the king of the auction, realizing $718,750 to float to the top of the five-day event,” auction house Heritage Auctions said in a release….

(2) SPOT RESOLUTION. Camestros Felapton wants you to know “Why I Declined a Hugo Spot”.

…2023 looms large here and there were definitely people I would rather see on the Hugo ballot for Best Fan Writer this year than myself. One was obviously Paul Weimer but I was certain he’d be top of most people’s ballots anyway but I was hoping some Chinese fans would make it onto the category. That didn’t happen but it is a decent list of finalists and there is nobody there that I would have wanted to replace.

Closely related to this was also the sense that I was likely to have gathered additional votes from things that I had written in 2024, specifically on the 2023 Hugo Award stats. Even if that wasn’t the case it would have felt like it was the case to me. So, I thought I’d feel happier skipping this year and putting my hat into the ring for next year…

(3) DREAM FOUNDRY CONTESTS OPEN SOON. The Dream Foundry’s annual contest for emerging artists and writers will take entries from April 1 until May 27, 2024. Every year their contest coordinators select ten finalists from a pool of submissions from around the world. Both contests offer cash prizes, first choice of seats in Flights of Foundry workshops, and other opportunities. Eligibility requirements and full details about prizes are at the links:

  • Art Contest — This year’s art contest will be judged by Lauren Raye Snow & Jessica Cheng, The contest coordinator is Grace P. Fong.
  • Writing Contest — The writing contest will be judged by Valerie Valdes and C.L. Polk, and our contest coordinator is Julia Rios.

(4) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Robert Levy and Jennifer Marie Brissett on Wednesday, April 10 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Location: KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs).

ROBERT LEVY

Robert Levy’s novel The Glittering World was a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and the Lambda Literary Award. His collection No One Dies from Love: Dark Tales of Loss and Longing was published last year by Worde Horde and includes stories from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nightmare, Black Static, The Dark, The Best Horror of the Year, and The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction. Trained as a forensic psychologist, he teaches at the Stonecoast MFA Program in Creative Writing and can be found at TheRobertLevy.com.

JENNIFER MARIE BRISSETT

Jennifer Marie Brissett is the author of Destroyer of Light, which received a starred Kirkus Review and was on its list of Best Fiction of the Year. She is also the author of Elysium, which won The Philip K. Dick Award Special Citation and was a finalist for the Locus and Tiptree Awards. And once a long time ago she owned and operated an independent bookstore in Brooklyn. She lives in Manhattan where she is currently working on her next novel Daughters of the Night. Find her via her website at www.jennbrissett.com

(5) CLIMATE FICTION CONTEST OPENS. Grist’s “Imagine 2200 climate fiction contest 2024” is open for submissions through June 24.

Grist is excited to open submissions for the fourth year of our Imagine 2200: Climate Fiction for Future Ancestors short story contest. 

Imagine 2200 is an invitation to writers from all over the globe to imagine a future in which solutions to the climate crisis flourish and help bring about radical improvements to our world. We dare you to dream anew….

…. The winning writer will be awarded $3,000. The second- and third-place winners receive $2,000 and $1,000, respectively. An additional nine finalists will each receive $300. All winners and finalists will have their story published in an immersive collection on Grist’s website. …

We are thrilled to also announce the judges for our 2024/25 contest: Omar El Akkad and Annalee NewitzEl Akkad is an author and journalist whose award-winning debut novel, American War, is an international bestseller and was selected by the BBC as one of 100 Novels That Shaped Our World. Newitz is a science fiction and nonfiction writer whose third novel, The Terraformers is a finalist for the Nebula Award, and whose latest nonfiction book, Four Lost Cities, is a national bestseller.

Imagine 2200 celebrates stories that envision the next decades to centuries of equitable climate progress, imagining futures of abundance, adaptation, reform, and hope. We are looking for stories that are rooted in creative climate solutions and community-centered resilience, showing what can happen as solutions take root, and stories that offer gripping plots with rich characters and settings, making that future come alive.

In 2,500 to 5,000 words, show us the world you dream of building.

Your story should be set sometime between the near future and roughly the year 2200….

(6) WANT TO GO TO SPACE? NASA is accepting applications to “Become An Astronaut” through April 16. The complete guidelines are at the link.

Astronaut requirements have changed with NASA’s goals and missions. Today, to be considered for an astronaut position, applicants must meet the following qualifications:

  1. Be a U.S. citizen
  2. Have a master’s degree* in a STEM field, including engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics, from an accredited institution.
  3. Have a minimum of three years of related professional experience obtained after degree completion (or 1,000 Pilot-in-Command hours with at least 850 of those hours in high performance jet aircraft for pilots) For medical doctors, time in residency can count towards experience and must be completed by June 2025.
  4. Be able to successfully complete the NASA long-duration flight astronaut physical.

(7) LOUIS GOSSETT JR. (1936-2024). Actor Louis Gossett Jr., winner of an Oscar for his performance in An Officer and a Gentleman and an Emmy for his role in TV’s Roots,died March 29 at the age of 87.

His genre resume includes the movie Enemy Mine (as the alien soldier), the Watchmen TV series (as the former Hooded Justice, for which he won an Emmy), and an episode of Touched By An Angel (a role which also earned an Emmy nomination). He voiced Lucius Fox in The Batman animated series (2007).

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 29, 1957 Elizabeth Hand, 67. These are my personal choices, not an overview of her career. 

I’ll say up front that my favorite work by Elizabeth Hand is an atypical work by her, Wylding Hall. Using an oral history framing to tell the story of when the young members of a British folk band decide to record a new album, they choose this ancient country house that has a history that is very troubled. The characters are fascinating, the setting is well crafted and the story, well, I think it’s her best story ever and it did win the Shirley Jackson Award. 

Elizabeth Hand

So what else did I like by her? There’s Mortal Love which intertwine the now while reaching back in the Victorian past with the mystery of a woman who holds the key to lost Pre-Raphaelite paintings, appropriate since she seems too akin to one of those of those works herself. 

I will admit that I like her more grounded works better which is why the next pick is Illyria, a short novel set in the theater world (did I mention that I adore Angel Carter’s Wise Children? Well I do.) Twin sisters are now cast in a production of Twelfth Night, and magic will happen this night. It garnered a World Fantasy Award.

Curious Toys is an extraordinary work as a young girl attempts to find a murderer in turn-of-the-century Chicago. That description hardly describes the story awaiting the reader here as the girl is but fourteen and the setting the killer is stalking is the famous Riverview amusement park.  

Finally I find much to appreciate in her Cass Neary private eye series. A smart-assed, substance abusing and always self-destructive punk who means well, the series is that rare series that develops the character novel by novel. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) FANCY THREADS. “When Hollywood Needs a Historically Accurate Outfit That Looks Just Right, It Turns to Rabbit Goody”Smithsonian Magazine has the story.

… Thistle Hill Weavers, founded by Rabbit Goody in 1989, makes textiles for movies and television shows, historic houses, and high-end furniture and clothing companies. What sets this little mill in Central New York apart from every other cloth manufacturer in the country is Goody’s remarkable ability to re-animate the past: No one else produces short runs of textiles that so faithfully replicate the weave, texture, weight and color of historic fabrics. If you’ve seen “The Gilded Age” or Cinderella Man, you’ve seen Goody’s work in action. The majority of Thistle Hill’s income comes from creating more contemporary fabrics for interior designers and architects, and from the work Goody does with historic houses, such as Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home in Virginia. Yet many of her favorite jobs have come from Hollywood costume designers seeking perfectly rendered, historically accurate textiles to recreate items like Abraham Lincoln’s shawl for the movie Lincoln or much of the colonial-era clothing seen in the 2008 mini-series “John Adams.”…

… Today Thistle Hill Weavers employs seven people whom Goody has trained to run the nine mechanized shuttle looms dating from the 1890s through the 1960s, plus archaic-sounding equipment like a warp winder and a quiller—all necessary to transform big cones of thread into beautiful pieces of fabric. Goody’s workers generally arrive with no knowledge of weaving; she teaches them everything they need to know….

(11) NYT ON VINGE. The New York Times obituary linked here is behind a paywall: “Vernor Vinge, Innovative Science Fiction Novelist, Dies at 79”.

… Mr. Vinge’s immersion in computers at San Diego State University, where he began teaching in 1972, led to his vision of a “technological singularity,” a tipping point at which the intelligence of machines possesses and then exceeds that of humans.

He described an early version of his vision in Omni magazine in 1983.

“We’re at the point of accelerating the evolution of intelligence itself,” he wrote, adding, “Whether our work is cast in silicon or DNA will have little effect on the ultimate results.” He wrote that the moment of the intellectual transition would be as “impenetrable as the knotted space-time at the center of a black hole,” and that at that moment “the world will pass far beyond our understanding.”

A decade later, he fleshed out the intellectual transition — the singularity — in a paper (subtitled “How to Survive in the Post-Human Era”) for a symposium sponsored by the NASA Lewis Research Center and the Ohio Aerospace Institute.

“Within 30 years,” he said, “we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended. Is such progress avoidable? If not to be avoided, can events be guided so that we may survive?”

That prediction has not come true, but artificial intelligence has accelerated to the point that some people fear that the technology will replace them….

(12) MEASURING THE UNIVERSE. The New York Times makes sure she is “Overlooked No More: Henrietta Leavitt, Who Unraveled Mysteries of the Stars”.

…In the early 20th century, when Henrietta Leavitt began studying photographs of distant stars at the Harvard College Observatory, astronomers had no idea how big the universe was. Debate raged over whether all of the objects visible through the telescopes of the day were within our own Milky Way galaxy, or whether other galaxies — or “island universes,” as they were then called — might exist somewhere out in space.

Leavitt, working as a poorly paid member of a team of mostly women who cataloged data for the scientists at the observatory, found a way to peer out into the great unknown and measure it.

What’s now commonly called Leavitt’s Law is still taught in college astronomy courses. It underpinned the research of other pioneering astronomers, including Edwin Hubble and Harlow Shapley, whose work in the years after World War I demolished long-held ideas about our solar system’s place in the cosmos. Leavitt’s Law has been used on the Hubble Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope in making new calculations about the rate of expansion of the universe and the proximity of stars billions of light years from earth.

“All of those major discoveries rested on Leavitt’s discovery,” Wendy L. Freedman, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Chicago, said in a phone interview, referring to the explosion of knowledge about space over the last century. “It’s the bedrock foundation of so much of what we do today in cosmology and astrophysics in general.”

What Leavitt achieved was essentially twofold. In a groundbreaking observation in 1908, she noticed that certain stars, called Cepheids, photographed in the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds — two relatively nearby galaxies — had a distinctive pattern: The longer it took for the Cepheids to cycle through their variations, the brighter they were in magnitude. Then, in a paper in 1912, she laid out a mathematical formula to explain her observation, called a “period-luminosity” relationship.

That opened the door to a new kind of interstellar triangulation, as Cepheid variables emerged as a reliable way to calculate cosmic scale for Earthbound astronomers. Distances that before then were anyone’s guess suddenly had a formula, and the portrait that emerged was shocking — a universe hundreds of times bigger than most astronomers had imagined….

(13) AT THE CORE. “Astronomers Capture Dazzling New Image of the Black Hole at the Milky Way’s Center” in Smithsonian Magazine.

Astronomers have captured the first-ever image of magnetic fields circling the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy.

The fields have a similar structure to those around the black hole at the center of Messier 87, a massive elliptical galaxy in the constellation Virgo. This finding suggests that strong magnetic fields may be a common feature of all black holes, the researchers report in a pair of papers published today in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

“This spiral pattern that we see swirling around the black hole indicates that the magnetic fields must also be a spiral pattern whirling around—and that they’re very strong and very ordered,” Sara Issaoun, a co-leader of the research and an astronomer at the Center for Astrophysics, Harvard & Smithsonian, says to BBC Science Focus’ Tom Howarth….

(14) WEEDS IN SPACE! Yesterday I was frustrated that NASA had not said what plants are part of its lunar-bound experiment. Cat Eldridge found the answer on the Space Lab website: “Lunar Payload LEAF – Lunar Effects on Agricultural Flora”.

…The LEAF β (“LEAF Beta”) payload will protect plants within from excessive Lunar sunlight, radiation, and the vacuum of space, while observing their photosynthesis, growth, and responses to stress. The experiment includes a plant growth chamber with an isolated atmosphere, housing red and green varieties of Brassica rapa (Wisconsin Fast Plants®), Wolffia (duckweed), and Arabidopsis thaliana. By bringing seedling samples back to Earth, as part of Artemis III, the research team will apply advanced system biology tools to study physiological responses at a molecular level…

(15) WHEN DID THE FIRST HOMININS TRULY ENTER EUROPE? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] (I have never forgiven the dinosaurs for what they did to Raquel Welch.) When did humans first enter Europe has been the subject of some debate. Now, new research from a site in Ukraine at Korolevo has used two different dating methods. These have given a very similar result… “East-to-west human dispersal into Europe 1.4 million years ago” in Nature.

Here, using two methods of burial dating with cosmogenic nuclides [the researchers] report ages of 1.42 ± 0.10 million years and 1.42 ± 0.28 million years…

…this suggests that early hominins exploited warm interglacial periods to disperse into higher latitudes and relatively continental sites—such as Korolevo—well before the Middle Pleistocene Transition.

(16) NEW SF YOUTUBER….? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Well, we all (OK, perhaps just some of us) have our favorite SF YouTuber, be it Moid Moidelhoff at Media Death Cult who is particularly popular with those fairly new on their SF journey, or Book Pilled for those that are perhaps more seasoned.  One recent newcomer that some Filers might like to check out is Grammaticus Books.  He recently reminded me of a forgotten Heinlein classic from 1942, Orphans of the Sky.  So I went to see if I had a copy in my library, and lo, it came to pass that I had and that I must have read it the best part of half a century ago…

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

Pixel Scroll 2/29/24 Scrollaris

(1) STOKER AWARD UPDATE SPARKS KERFUFFLE. [Item by Anne Marble.] The Horror Writers Association has realized that Camp Damascus by Chuck Tingle was in the wrong category in the list of finalists — it is not a YA novel. So they moved it to the Adult category – increasing the finalists there from five to six (i.e, nobody was dropped). And because of this change, they added a YA novel by author Kalynn Bayron to the YA category.

But as a result, some people are yelling at Kalynn Bayron on social media — apparently because they think she “stole” the nomination from Chuck Tingle. And Brian Keene has stepped in and asked people to yell at Mr. Keene instead. Let’s see if the people who were so eager to yell at Kalynn Bayron (a young Black YA author) are just as eager to yell at Brian Keene. (Somehow, I doubt it.)

(2) STOKERCON GOH NEWS. Paula Guran will be unable to attend StokerCon 2024 the convention announced today in a newsletter. A reason was not given; the committee hopes she will be able to join them at a future event.

The remaining GoHs are Justina Ireland, Nisi Shawl, Jonathan Maberry and Paul Tremblay.

(3) ANNUAL YARDSTICK. Publishers Weekly reports “New Lee & Low Diversity Baseline Survey Finds Minor Changes” in the publishing industry.

The third edition of Lee & Low Books’ quadrennial “Diversity Baseline Survey” found that the publishing industry has made incremental gains in broadening its workforce since the survey was introduced in 2015.

The survey’s top-line findings show that white people made up 72.5% of this year’s 8,644 respondents, down from 76% in 2019 and 79% in 2015. Those identifying as biracial/multiracial were the second largest group, at 8.3%—a significant increase over the 3% in 2019 who identified as biracial/multiracial. The percentage of respondents who were Asian/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander/South Asian/Southeast Indian rose slightly, to almost 8%, from 7% in 2019. Black respondents held even at about 5% of the publishing workforce, while those identifying as Hispanic/Latino/Mexican fell to 4.6%, from 6% in both 2019 and 2015….

(4) REACH OUT. Dream Foundry calls for donations to “Con or Bust”, which seeks to assist creators or fans of color with opportunities they can’t afford:

Con or Bust has received a slew of applications for extremely exciting opportunities that we are not currently able to fund or support. You can help us change that! Since late October, we’ve had to defer or decline 14 applications requesting over $25,000 in fiscal support. In most cases even a small portion of the request made as a grant would be a huge help to the applicant. Most fiscal grants we’ve made are $500, and that’s also the largest amount we’ve granted out of our unrestricted funds. …

…If you’ve ever been to an industry event that inspired, motivated, or nurtured you, then you know what these opportunities can mean. Help us bring that to more people!

(5) WRITERS AND ARTISTS, GET READY. Dream Foundry is also looking ahead to their annual Writing and Arts Contest which opens to submissions from April 1 through May 27, 2024.

(6) MACHINES IN TRAINING. Rivka Galchen is “Thinking About A.I. with Stanisław Lem” in The New Yorker.

…“Solaris” is mostly serious in tone, which makes it a misleading example of Lem’s work. More often and more distinctively, he is funny and madcap and especially playful on the level of language. A dictionary of his neologisms, published in Poland in 2006, has almost fifteen hundred entries; translated into English, his invented words include “imitology,” “fripple,” “scrooch,” “geekling,” “deceptorite,” and “marshmucker.” (I assume that translating Lem is the literary equivalent of differential algebra, or category theory.) A representative story, from 1965, is “The First Sally (A) or, Trurl’s Electronic Bard.” Appearing in a collection titled “The Cyberiad,” the story features Trurl, an engineer of sorts who constructs a machine that can write poetry. Does the Electronic Bard read as an uncanny premonition of ChatGPT? Sure. It can write in the style of any poet, but the resulting poems are “two hundred and twenty to three hundred and forty-seven times better.” (The machine can also write worse, if asked.)

It’s not Trurl’s first machine. In other stories, he builds one that can generate anything beginning with the letter “N” (including nothingness) and one that offers supremely good advice to a ruler; the ruler is not nice, though, so it’s good that Trurl put in a subcode that the machine will not destroy its maker. The Electronic Bard is not easy for Trurl to make. In thinking about how to program it, Trurl reads “twelve thousand tons of the finest poetry” but deems the research insufficient. As he sees it, the program found in the head of even an average poet “was written by the poet’s civilization, and that civilization was in turn programmed by the civilization that preceded it, and so on to the very Dawn of Time.” The complexity of the average poet-machine is daunting….

(7) THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS. It was the club’s first in-person meeting outside of a Loscon since the pandemic. See photos at “We’re Back Baby! LASFS 1st Meeting in Years” on the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Website.

(8) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 104 of the Octothorpe podcast is “Groundbreaking and Great”. And humble!

Octothorpe 104 is here! We know you’ve eagerly been awaiting our takes on the Hugo Awards, so here they all are, as we discuss our favourite SF of 2023!

Hang on, what do you mean? Something else happened with the Hugo Awards and you thought we were talking about that? Well, er…maybe next time!

John is in the bottom-left, sitting in a chair, wearing a blue shirt and purple trousers, holding a can, and reading an ebook. Alison is in the upper-middle, lying down upside down, wearing a purple shirt and stripy trousers, and reading an ebook. Liz is in the bottom-right, wearing a pink shirt with green trousers, holding a mug of a hot beverage, and reading a physical book. They are surrounded by floating beer bottles, books, the Moon, a mug with a moose on it, and two cats. The word “Octothorpe” appears in scattered letters around the artwork, against a pinky-purple background.

(9) FREE READ. Worlds of If #177 is available as a free download for a limited time at the Worlds of If Magazine website. And the print version and t-shirts are also available for order there.

(10) JAIME LEE MOYER HAS DIED. Author and poet Jaime Lee Moyer was found dead today after friends requested a wellness check. C.C. Finlay announced on Facebook:

Dear friends of Jaime Lee Moyer, we have some very sad news. No one had heard from Jaime in more than ten days, which was concerning because her latest book was scheduled for release this week.

This morning we contacted her rental company and the East Lansing Police Department and asked them to perform a wellness check. They found Jaime deceased in her bedroom, apparently from natural causes. They’ve contacted her family to make formal arrangements. We only just received the news, and we don’t know any other information at this time.

Jaime has friends in the writing community all over the world. We thought this would be the best way to reach you. If you are a friend of hers, a client, or are waiting to hear an answer from her on anything else, we wanted you to know as soon as possible.

With love and grief,

Charlie and Rae

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 29, 1952 Tim Powers, 72. Now Tim Powers is a writer that I really admire. He’s decently prolific as he has twenty novels published. Now remember this essay is about what I like, so I may or may not mention what something that you, so please do t be too miffed by that. 

Where to start?  That’s easy as it has to be The Anubis Gates. Victorian London and Egypt. Ancient Egypt. Time travel. Anubis. Oh ymmm. It’s on my list of To Be Listened To list as I’ve already read it several times and the sample at Audible indicates Bronson Pinchot does a great job of narrating this. 

Tim Powers

Just as good in a very different manner is On Stranger Tides takes place during the so-called Golden Age of Piracy which was nothing of the kind, when an individual on his way from Britain to Haiti has a series of increasingly wild adventures. I know the novel was purchased to be part on the Pirates of Caribbean franchise. I’ve not seen the film, so I don’t know how much, if anything of his novel made it into the film, but I’m betting nothing except the name did.

Declare, a secret history of the Cold War, is extraordinary. I mean it really. When I was still actually reading novels as opposed to listening to them, as I’m doing now, I didn’t spend six to eight hours a day on one but I remember I did on Declare just to see where the story went. Stellar.

The Vickery and Castine series is just fun, and I mean that as a compliment. Set in contemporary LA, rogue federal agents Sebastian Vickery and Ingrid Castine can see ghosts and other things that are the secret reality of that city. It’s an ongoing series with four novels so far. Highly recommended. 

Then there’s Three Days to Never which I’m not convinced actually makes sense but is really fun to read with its wild mix of supernatural history of what actually happened, time travel and foreign agents. 

Ok, those are my picks as the Powers novels that I really like. So what’s your choices? 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) TWO COMPANIONS CUT A RUG. Radio Times makes sure we don’t miss out when “Karen Gillan and Jenna Coleman share cute Doctor Who reunion”.

Amy Pond and Clara Oswald may have never met on-screen, but the former Doctor Who companions certainly look like they get along behind the camera.

Karen Gillan (Amy) and Jenna Coleman (Clara) were spotted together at an event in London last night, with former Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat also in attendance.

Gillan took to the opportunity to share a video of the trio on the dance floor on TikTok alongside the caption: “We might have had a few red wines… but look WHO it is!”…

@karengillan

We might have had a few red wines…but look WHO it is! #doctorwho

? original sound – Karen Gillan

(14) AGBABI Q&A. HAL interviews 2021 Clarke Award nominee Patience Agbabi, author of The Past Master, at Carbon-Based Bipeds.

HAL: Hello Patience, and congratulations to you on finishing your tetralogy. I’m curious, did you always know this would be a four-book cycle or did the project grow more organically?

PATIENCE: …In reality, a series made sense for lots of other reasons since I had too many ideas to fit into a single book: I wanted to explore the past as well as the future; to take different angles on ecological issues, becoming more covert as the series progressed; and also, I wanted to develop my hero, Elle, from a 3-leap girl to a 4-leap young woman. Elle is black, of Nigerian origin and autistic. It was a positive challenge to show the reader how she overcomes numerous obstacles to reach maturity. I originally submitted the manuscript as young YA but Canongate wanted to market it as middle-grade since my hero was 12 and children like to read up. But since my hero gets one year older with each instalment, I knew I’d be segueing into YA territory anyway, which demands a greater level of introspection.

(15) STRINGS ATTACHED. SOMETIMES. “Muppets, marionettes and magic: My life with puppets” – hear an interview with Basil Twist, who created puppets for the My Neighbour Totoro production by the Royal Shakespeare Company  at BBC Sounds.

Basil Twist’s fascination for puppets started as a child watching productions his mum put on as an amateur puppeteer. Basil built his own puppet characters of Star Wars as a kid and loved it, but became a ‘closeted puppeteer’ in his teens. It wasn’t cool anymore, and playing with dolls was seen as feminine. Basil pursued an education at college, but became unhappy and dropped out. Later moving to New York, Basil could finally embrace his puppetry passions. He scoured phone books and bashed phones to track down people involved in puppetry. His diligence took him around the world, winning awards and captivating crowds along the way. During the pandemic Basil found his biggest challenge to date – bringing the much-loved animated Japanese character Totoro to life for a live action stage show…. 

(16) OUTSIDE THE BOX. The Onion reports “Litter-Robot Recalls Thousands Of Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes That Accidentally Transported Cats To Year 1300”. (Could they be using the same version of the software as my comments section, which unaccountably tells people they’re in random years?)

(17) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Jessica Grose wonders “Could Swifties or Trekkies Decide the Election?” in a New York Times opinion piece. (Well, maybe I exaggerate. I don’t think it really worries her.)

…Social media is where many young voters live — about a third of adults under 30 regularly get news from TikTok, according to Pew Research. And turning out young voters who are otherwise not particularly politically engaged will be key to winning elections up and down the ballot in November. The left-leaning Working Families Party isn’t exactly a threat to take the White House in 2024, but it is on to a new way of reaching Gen Z voters at a time when the old ways are increasingly useless.

As Marcela Valdes explained this week for The New York Times Magazine, young voters tend to have low turnout rates. “No one is more ambivalent about participating in elections than young people,” she wrote. (It’s worth noting, though, that turnout among Americans ages 18 to 29 was historically high in 2018, 2020 and 2022, according to C.I.R.C.L.E., the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.)…

(18) TOMORROW’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT! Kathryn Schulz doubts we’re prepared for “What a Major Solar Storm Could Do to Our Planet” as she tells readers of The New Yorker.

…But “space-weather forecaster” is an optimistic misnomer; for the most part, he and his colleagues can’t predict what will happen in outer space. All they can do is try to figure out what’s happening there right now, preferably fast enough to limit the impact on our planet. Even that is difficult, because space weather is both an extremely challenging field—it is essentially applied astrophysics—and a relatively new one. As such, it is full of many lingering scientific questions and one looming practical question: What will happen here on Earth when the next huge space storm hits?

The first such storm to cause us trouble took place in 1859. In late August, the aurora borealis, which is normally visible only in polar latitudes, made a series of unusual appearances: in Havana, Panama, Rome, New York City. Then, in early September, the aurora returned with such brilliance that gold miners in the Rocky Mountains woke up at night and began making breakfast, and disoriented birds greeted the nonexistent morning.

This lovely if perplexing phenomenon had an unwelcome corollary: around the globe, telegraph systems went haywire. Many stopped working entirely, while others sent and received “fantastical and unreadable messages,” as the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin put it. At some telegraph stations, operators found that they could disconnect their batteries and send messages via the ambient current, as if the Earth itself had become an instant-messaging system.

Owing to a lucky coincidence, all these anomalies were soon linked to their likely cause. At around noon on September 1st, the British astronomer Richard Carrington was outside sketching a group of sunspots when he saw a burst of light on the surface of the sun: the first known observation of a solar flare. When accounts of the low-latitude auroras started rolling in, along with reports that magnetometers—devices that measure fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetic field—had surged so high they maxed out their recording capabilities, scientists began to suspect that the strange things happening on Earth were related to the strange thing Carrington had seen on the sun….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, Kathy Sullivan, Lise Andreasen, JeffWarner, Anne Marble, Jean-Paul Garnier, Jeffrey Smith, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day JeffWarner.]

Pixel Scroll 11/30/23 Too Much Pixel And No Scroll

(1) THE TIMES THEY ARE A’CHANGIN’. Gabino Iglesias is the new horror columnist for the New York Times. He told told readers on X.com, “It’s a dream come true. Can’t wait to bring you all the horror goodness starting in January. Long live horror.”

(2) LUKYANENKO EVENT AT WORLDCON VENUE. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] Sergey Lukyanenko will appear December 1 in an event at the Worldcon venue.

In the Friday 24th Scroll, it was mentioned that Sergey Lukyanenko would be making four appearances in Chengdu between December 1st and 4th.  Today (November 30th) I saw a Weibo announcement indicating there will be an additional event on December 1st; notably, this one takes place at the SF Museum that was the venue for the Worldcon.  I think this may be the first time that the museum has been used or open to the public since the con?

There was also a new Weixin/WeChat blog post from his publisher yesterday (Wednesday 29th); curiously this does not mention the event at the SF Museum.

(3) GOLDMAN FUND UPDATE. Dream Foundry reports that they were able to fully fund everyone who applied within the preferred window for the Con or Bust initiative to assist Palestinian creators and fans of speculative fiction in attending the 2024 World Science Fiction Convention.

They still have funds remaining for 2024 and will continue taking applications on a rolling basis. They say –

Don’t self reject! Anyone who is a citizen of Palestine or a member of the Palestinian diaspora qualifies and is encouraged to apply.

Applications for the 2025 Worldcon will open in summer of 2024.

(4) FURIOSA TRAILER. The first official trailer has dropped for Furiosa : A Mad Max Saga.

Anya Taylor-Joy and Chris Hemsworth star in Academy Award-winning mastermind George Miller’s “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,” the much-anticipated return to the iconic dystopian world he created more than 30 years ago with the seminal “Mad Max” films. Miller now turns the page again with an all-new original, standalone action adventure that will reveal the origins of the powerhouse character from the multiple Oscar-winning global smash “Mad Max: Fury Road.” The new feature from Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures is produced by Miller and his longtime partner, Oscar-nominated producer Doug Mitchell (“Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Babe”), under their Australian-based Kennedy Miller Mitchell banner. As the world fell, young Furiosa is snatched from the Green Place of Many Mothers and falls into the hands of a great Biker Horde led by the Warlord Dementus. Sweeping through the Wasteland, they come across the Citadel presided over by The Immortan Joe. While the two Tyrants war for dominance, Furiosa must survive many trials as she puts together the means to find her way home.

(5) A GOOD TONGUELASHING. “Adam Sandler’s ‘Leo’: A Crotchety Old Lizard Helping Kids Be Kids” at Animation World Network.

Hitting Netflix [on November 21] is Leo, a clever and charming coming-of-age animated musical comedy starring noted actor and comedian Adam Sandler as a curmudgeonly 74-year-old iguana, stuck living for decades in an elementary school class terrarium, who plots his escape – complete with an odd bucket list – after learning he only has one year to live. At the same time, he can’t help but offer friendly advice to a bunch of kids who each must take him home for a weekend, only to discover – and swear to keep secret – that he can talk…

… The idea for the film gestated with Sandler for eight years. “Basically, I had the idea of looking at an elementary school graduation, almost like in Grease, the kids’ last year of elementary school, and how you’re moving on to the big leagues after that,” he shares. “And me and my friend, Paul Sado, were working on that idea. And then I told Robert Smigel about it, and he said, ‘What about if you do it that year, but through the eyes of a class pet that’s been involved in that grade forever?’ And we got excited, and that’s when everything got flowing.”…

(6) PAGE-TURNER. Jay of Tar Vol On posted an extra-large magazine review this month, with thoughts on 35 different works of short SFF and a little bit of related non-fiction. “Tar Vol Reads a Magazine: November 2023”.

… the piece that inspired me to pick up this issue [of Asimov’s] in the first place: “Berb by Berb” by Ray Nayler. This story is connected to some of his other work that I haven’t yet read, but it makes an acceptable standalone, delivering a heartfelt tale of one person trying to do the best they can in a world that has gone to pieces around them. It’s a theme Nayler returns to often, and it makes for a good read every time. ..

(7) HOME IS THE SPACEMAN. Neil Clarke tells about his adventures at the Chengdu Worldcon in his Clarkesworld editorial, “This Would Have Been Longer”. He was impressed by how many children were at the con, and participated in the Hugo ceremony.

…Oh! That’s me up there with “little astronaut” after unexpectedly winning the Hugo Award for Best Editor Short Form. Those are two of the hosts of the event on the left and the gentleman on the right is convention Co-Chair Chen Shi, who presented the category. I actually had a speech written this time, but in the moment, I opted to abandon it and try to speak from what I was feeling instead. Probably not the brightest thing to do, but I wanted to say something to the kids watching now or later. I let them know that I was once like them and never believed that I would someday be up on this stage accepting an award I considered the domain of my childhood heroes. I told them that I hoped to be in the audience and watch them win one someday. I encouraged them to try, told them it wasn’t easy and that people might tell them it wasn’t possible . . . but it is.

After the ceremony, I was whisked off to do interviews. They had maybe two dozen reporters from a variety of outlets present and asking questions. It kept me from enjoying part of the after party with friends, but how often does a Hugo winner get that kind of attention? I understood and appreciated the novelty of it, and besides, they weren’t asking me about AI, so that’s progress, right?…

(8) YOU’VE HEARD HER WORK. [Item by Steven French.] “Jane Horrocks: ‘I’d love to be a baddie in a Tarantino movie’”, so she told the Guardian. Horrocks voices Babs, one of the chickens in Chicken Run and also starred with Anjelica Huston in Jim Henson’s film of Roald Dahl’s The Witches.

When did you discover you had an amazing voice? chargehand
From starting impersonations, really. My first impersonation was Julie Andrews when I got The Sound of Music album when I was nine. I fell in love with sounding like Julie. My mum and dad were massively into Shirley Bassey and I found I could impersonate her and Barbra Streisand. That’s when I started to realise that utilising my voice was going to be a good thing for me. It’s brought me a lot of pleasure, and I’ve made people laugh, which is great.

(9) NEW TO U.N.I.T. A disabled character is featured in the latest episode of Doctor Who. The actress discusses her role with Radio Times. Beware spoilers, maybe; I’m not sure.

“She is just so fun and feisty and ballsy – she’s just so much fun to play,” Doctor Who star Ruth Madeley says of her character Shirley Anne Bingham. “I’d love to be more like Shirley in my real life, I have got nowhere near that much cool in me!”

Madeley made her spectacular on-screen Doctor Who debut in The Star Beast as UNIT’s 56th scientific advisor. In the space of the 57-minute special, she got David Tennant’s Doctor out of some very sticky situations – and took absolutely none of his nonsense.

“Overall she is not overly impressed by anyone or anything, which I love about her because I am the complete opposite. That’s really fun to play,” Madeley tells RadioTimes.com….

(10) WHO PREVIEW. “Doctor Who debuts new scene from next episode Wild Blue Yonder” at Radio Times.

The veil of secrecy surrounding the next episode of Doctor Who, Wild Blue Yonder, is slowing beginning to lift, with the BBC dropping a first-look clip….

… In the new clip, Donna is left panicked when the TARDIS disappears, with the Doctor promising to return her home to her daughter Rose. But it appears someone – or something – is watching them……

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born November 30, 1906 John Dickson Carr. (Died 1977.) As you know, we don’t do just sff genre Birthdays here and so it is that we have here one of my favorite mystery writers, John Dickson Carr.  Indeed I’m listening to The Hollow Man, one of his Gideon Fell mysteries. 

He who wrote some of the best British mysteries ever done was himself not British being American. Oh the horror. He did live there for much of the Thirties and Forties, marrying a British woman. 

Dr. Fell, an Englishman, lived in the London suburbs. Carr wrote twenty-seven novels with him as the detective. I’m listening to The Hollow Man because it’s considered one of the best locked room mysteries ever done. Indeed, Dr. Fell’s discourse on locked room mysteries in chapter reprinted as a stand-alone essay in its own right.

All of the Fell novels are wonderful mysteries. The detective himself? Think a beer drinking Nero Wolfe who’s a lot more outgoing. Almost all of the novels concern his unraveling of locked room mysteries or what he calls impossible crimes.  Of these novels, I’ve read quite a number and they’re all excellent.

Now let’s talk about Sir Henry Merrivale who created by Carter Dickson, a pen name of John Dickson Carr. (Not sure why he bothered with such a thinly-veiled pen name though.) Merrivale was like Fell an amateur detective who started who being serious but, and I’m not fond of the later novels for this, become terribly comic in the later novels. Let me note that Carr was really prolific as there were twenty-two novels with him starting in the Thirties over a thirty-year period. One of the finest is The White Priory Murders which was a Wodehousian country weekend with yet another locked room mystery in it. 

He also, as did other writers of British mysteries, created a French detective, one by the name of Henri Bencolin, a magistrate in the Paris judicial system. (Though I’ve not mentioned it, all of his mysteries are set in the Twenties onward.) Carr interestingly has an American writer Jeff Marle narrating the stories here and he describes Bencolin as looking and feeling Satanic. His methods are certainly not those of the other two detectives as he’s quite rough when need be to get a case solved. 

There are but four short stories and five novels of which I think The Last Gallows is the best. 

With Adrian Conan Doyle, the youngest son of Arthur Conan Doyle, Carr wrote some Sherlock Holmes stories that were published in The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes collection. Not in-print but used copies available reasonably from the usual suspects. 

He was also chosen by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1949 to write the biography of the writer. That work, The Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is in-print in a trade paper edition.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) ARTILLERY AND JOSEPHINE. Haley Zapal is the first reviewer I’ve seen who is genuinely enthusiastic about Ridley Scott’s Napoleon. Find out why in “Review: Napoleon” at Nerds of a Feather.

…The scenes where men and horses fall into the water are brilliant and artistic. There are things in Napoleon that I definitely have never seen before, and that’s wild considering director Scott is nearing 90. There is also absolutely brutal gore that makes Saving Private Ryan seem like Hogan’s Heroes….

(14) IT’S WASHED. Applause to Arturo Serrano for being one of the rare folk reviewing The Marvels who talks about the movie instead of its box office. But he’s no fan of the movie either: he rates “On the woes of ‘The Marvels’” only 5on a scale of 10 at Nerds of a Feather.

Someone at Marvel Studios should have pointed out that being simultaneously a sequel to WandaVisionCaptain MarvelMs. Marvel and Secret Invasion and providing two sequel teases was too much weight to load onto the shoulders of one movie. But we’ve played this tune before: Marvel movies are doomed to be mere links in a neverending chain, each forgettable villain is just there to get the pieces in position for the next entry, what you see isn’t most of what the director intended, and so on. To keep going to theaters for a Marvel movie is by now a thoughtless habit, like grabbing one more potato chip when you know you’re full….

(15) IT’S COLD OUTSIDE. The New York Times covers “A Video Game That Doubles as a World War I History Lesson”. “Last Train Home tells an overlooked story of the Czechoslovak Legion’s evacuation across Russia in the embers of the Great War.”

 … Foregrounding historical accuracy was a priority for Ashborne’s first original game, Last Train Home, which retells the Legion’s rolling evacuation eastward across Russia in the embers of the war. Its journey for homebound ships at the port of Vladivostok was tangled in Russia’s internal conflict between Bolshevik and anti-Bolshevik armies….

…Jos Hoebe, the founder of BlackMill Games and a longtime producer of World War I shooters, said video game developers had a responsibility to get details correct, especially when a particular battle or event has few depictions in popular culture. For his games, Hoebe digests historical documents in an attempt to understand the average soldier and shed light on overlooked aspects of combat.

“It feels like we’re responsible for creating the image that people have of this theater of war,” Hoebe said.

Last Train Home is a real-time strategy game in which the player orders specialized squads around rural battlefields. Scouts clear the fog of war, riflemen charge at enemies — usually the Bolshevik Red Army — and medics heal wounds. Another significant portion of the game is managing the armored train and exhausted infantry while fighting disease, starvation and the cruel Siberian cold…..

(16) THE DOOR INTO WINTER. Here’s an interesting artifact at Fullerton Arms Ballintoy: Giant’s Causeway North Coast Guesthouse and Restaurant in Ireland.

In 2016, Storm Gertrude ripped up some centuries-old beeches from the avenue known as Dark Hedges, (familiar to Game of Thrones fans as the Kingsroad). Ten doors, fashioned from the fallen trees, were carved with scenes from the cult TV show and placed in 10 pubs with Thrones connections in Northern Ireland. A fierce dragon embellishes the deep-brown polished door in Ballintoy’s Fullerton Arms. From the pub, it’s 20 minutes’ walk down a dramatic winding road to the cliff-ringed harbour, used to film scenes involving Theon Greyjoy in the Iron Islands. The steep climb back up will help build an appetite for the pub’s rope-grown mussels or seafood chowder, and Northern Irish specialities such as champ (mash with spring onions).
Doubles from £60 B&B

(17) NONE DARE CALL IT “LIP-SYNCHING”. A ventriloquist and his dummy sing “’Time Warp’ from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

“Time Warp” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a song by Nell Campbell, Patricia Quinn, and Richard O’Brien as sung by Terry Fator and Walter In this video Terry is singing live without moving his lips, 100% guaranteed!

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

Pixel Scroll 9/19/23 In Pixelated Ink Which Glows Under Starlight

(1) OPEN LETTER AGAINST BOOK BANS. “Ariana Grande, Garbage, Natasha Lyonne Sign Open Letter Against Book Bans”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Ariana GrandeGuillermo del ToroPadma Lakshmi, Roxane Gay, Gabrielle Union, Sandra Cisneros, Amanda Gorman, Margaret Cho and Ron Perlman are among the signatories of an open letter calling on creative communities in Hollywood and beyond to leverage their voices to stop book bans.

Upwards of 175 actors, musicians, authors, comedians, reality stars, models, media personalities, academics, activists and more have signed the open letter spearheaded by Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton and published Tuesday via public advocacy organization and political action committee MoveOn Political Action….

The letter’s release coincides with National Banned Books Month and comes amid a corresponding public petition from MoveOn, which will connect signatories with future advocacy opportunities around book bans. Such opportunities include methods of support or events related to MoveOn’s Banned Bookmobile, which launched a multicity tour this summer after measures touted and supported by Gov. Ron DeSantis resulted in an increase in banned and restricted books in Florida schools, according to The Associated Press.

In October, the bookmobile will once again distribute free banned books, in addition to hosting events held in conjunction with Crooked Media’s live Pod Save America and Lovett or Leave It podcasts, and author readings in Georgia, Virginia and South Carolina as part of a broader “Read Banned Books” initiative….

Here is the full text of the letter from Moveon.org.

As artists, creators, entertainers, and activists, we recognize and are horrified by the threat of censorship in the form of book bans.

This restrictive behavior is not just antithetical to free speech and expression but has a chilling effect on the broader creative field. The government cannot and should not create any interference or dictate what people can produce, write, generate, read, listen to, or consume.

We cannot stress enough how these censorious efforts will not end with book bans. It’s only a matter of time before regressive, suppressive ideologues will shift their focus toward other forms of art and entertainment, to further their attacks and efforts to scapegoat marginalized communities, particularly BIPOC and LGBTQ+ folks. 

We refuse to remain silent as one creative field is subjected to oppressive bans. As artists, we must band together, because a threat to one form of art is a threat to us all.

We are calling on everyone to join us in pushing back against these book bans, support free and open creative industries—regardless of personal or ideological disagreements—and use their voice at the local level to stop these bans in their school districts. There is power in artistic freedom, and we refuse to allow draconian politicians to take that from us.

(2) CHENGDU VENUE PROGRESS PHOTOS. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] Here from a Weibo post are a couple more photos of the interior of the Chengdu Worldcon venue.  It looks quite different to my eyes from the earlier images, not sure if it’s the lighting, angle, or if they’ve applied some coating – the Google Translated hashtags include “#金molstone# #石 CrystalWallboard#”, whatever those might be.

(3) CORA FINDS A CRACK IN THE FOUNDATION. Cora Buhlert is doing episode reviews of Apple+ series Foundation. (Access all of them here.) The latest is “Foundation travels ‘Long Ago, Not Far Away’ and blows up its own premise”beware spoilers.

…Warning! There will be spoilers under the cut!

“Long Ago, Not Far Away” was a really good episode of Foundation. Well, at least ninety-five percent of it were really good. Unfortunately, the last five minutes or so not only ruined the episode, but the entire series….

(4) TEXAS BOOK RATING LAW BLOCKED. Publishers Weekly tells how “In a Blistering Opinion, Judge Officially Blocks Texas Book Rating Law”.

After nearly three weeks of waiting, federal judge Alan D. Albright delivered a major victory for freedom to read advocates, issuing a substantive 59-page written opinion and order officially blocking Texas’s controversial book rating law, HB 900, from taking effect. The decision comes after Albright orally enjoined the law at an August 31 hearing and signaled his intent to block the law in its entirety.

Signed by Texas governor Greg Abbott on June 12, HB 900 would have required book vendors to review and rate books for sexual content under a vaguely articulated standard as a condition of doing business with Texas public schools. Under the law, books rated “sexually explicit” (if the book includes material deemed “patently offensive” by unspecified community standards) would be banned from Texas schools. Books rated “sexually relevant” (books with any representation of sexual conduct) would have required written parental permission for students to access them. Furthermore, the law would have given the state the ultimate power to change the rating on any book, and would have forced vendors to accept the state’s designated rating as their own, or be barred from selling to Texas public schools….

…“The Court does not dispute that the state has a strong interest in what children are able to learn and access in schools. And the Court surely agrees that children should be protected from obscene content in the school setting,” Albright concluded. “That said, [the law] misses the mark on obscenity with a web of unconstitutionally vague requirements. And the state, in abdicating its responsibility to protect children, forces private individuals and corporations into compliance with an unconstitutional law that violates the First Amendment.”

In defending the law, Texas attorneys had moved to dismiss the suit, arguing that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the law, and that the state has the right to regulate vendors who wish to do business with Texas public schools—essentially asserting that rating books would simply be part of the cost of doing business in Texas. Albright demolished those arguments in his opinion, and harshly criticized the ill-conceived law in denying the motion to dismiss.

At one point, Albright observed that the burden placed on vendors by the law are “so numerous and onerous as to call into question whether the legislature believed any third party could possibly comply.” And he called out state attorneys for their inability to answer basic questions over the course of two hearings. “Generally, the government was confused and unaware of how the law would actually function in practice,” Albright observed, citing “approximately 40 instances during the August 18th hearing (‘Hearing 1’) where the government either did not know how the law would function or did not have an answer as to what the effects of certain provisions were.”…

(5) PREVIEW GREG JEIN COLLECTION. Heritage Auctions takes you “Inside the Sensational Sci-Fi Collection of Model-Making Legend Greg Jein” in this post for The Intelligent Collector.

Greg Jein was a giant among the Hollywood illusionists who created small things to fill big screens. The model- and miniature-maker never left his hometown of Los Angeles. Yet he was never earthbound: Jein spent decades introducing us to aliens who brought their motherships to Earth, and he sent us soaring time and again into space, the final frontier.

Jein, who died at 76 last year, was nominated for Academy Awards and Emmys, hailed as a magician and beloved as a mentor. Among Hollywood’s special effects wizards, Jein was heartbeat and historian, craftsman and custodian. His life’s story might have made the perfect film.

A fan first, foremost and forever, he made models when he was little. By the time Jein reached his mid-30s, he was a twice-Oscar-nominated maker of motherships, airplanes, city blocks and other models for Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 1941, both directed by Steven Spielberg.

“Greg loved what he did, creating things with his hands,” says Jerry Chang, Jein’s first cousin. “He could see in his mind things other people couldn’t.”

On October 14-15, Heritage Auctions is honored to offer the entirety of Greg Jein’s vast and unparalleled assemblage, which includes his prized trove of models and memorabilia and the cherished miniatures he made. The landmark Greg Jein Collection Hollywood Platinum Signature® Auction

There’s also a gallery of “The Most Revealing Behind-the-Scenes Photos From the Greg Jein Collection” at the link.

(6) NEW SOPHIE BURNHAM TRILOGY. DAW Books has acquired Sargassa, the first book in a trilogy from debut author Sophie Burnham. Set in an alternate North America called Roma Sargassa, where the Roman Empire never fell, readers will plunge into a landscape of political intrigue, queer romance, and impending revolution. The acquisition encompassed three books with World English rights and was agented by Maria Napolitano at the Jane Rotrosen Agency.

Sophie Burnham

…Executive Editor Navah Wolfe expressed immense enthusiasm about the acquisition, stating, “Sophie’s impressive worldbuilding, compelling characters, and insightful social commentary make Sargassa an exceptional addition to DAW’s repertoire. We are immensely excited to introduce their work to the world.”

In the book, North America has always been under Roman rule, and the death of the Imperial Historian thrusts his children, Selah and Arran, into the heart of a conspiracy. An underground rebel faction seeks to obtain the Iveroa Stone and use its secrets to reveal the empire’s obscured past and dethrone its dominion. As Selah works to unlock the Stone’s enigmas, she faces a monumental decision: to uphold or challenge the historical narratives of the Roman rule in Sargassa…

Sophie Burnham is a queer nonbinary novelist and screenwriter, backed by an Acting BFA and a concentration in Playwriting from Syracuse University. Honored with a We Need Diverse Books writing grant and a placement in ScreenCraft’s 2020 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Screenplay competition, Burnham’s debut novel promises to enthrall and enlighten readers. Follow them on Twitter at @sophielburnham.

(7) CON OR BUST FUNDRAISER. The Con or Bust Prize Sweepstakes is selling entries.

Dream Foundry’s Con or Bust program issues cash grants to fans and creatives of color to help connect them with SFFH genre events and resources. Con or Bust sends folks to conventions, workshops, classes, and other networking or professional opportunities. Grants can be used toward travel, registration, food, equipment, and other expenses associated with attending the event.

Con or Bust’s fall fundraiser is in full swing! We have lots of bookish prizes, including a 1 year subscription to Apex Magazine, two $50 Weightless Books gift certificates, libro.fm credits, and more. Oh yeah, and there’s a PS5, too.

Fine print:

The Sweepstakes is open only to the following individuals (each, an “Eligible Participant”):

Individual legal residents of, and physically located within, the United States or Canada, and who are 18 (except 19 in Alabama and Nebraska and 21 in Mississippi) years of age as of the date of entry or of legal age of majority or older in their country of residence…

(8) DOING TIE-IN RESEARCH. David Mack gives a detailed example of the kind of research he needed to do for a Star Trek media tie-in novel. Thread begins here.

(9) FREE READ. The 2023 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award-winning story, “The Hitchhiker on Souls’ Road” by A. A. Nour, is currently available to read at the Baen website.

A. A. Nour with award

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 19, 1922 Damon Knight. Author, editor, critic. Kate Wilhelm who was his wife is also regrettably no longer with us. His 1950 short story, “To Serve Man” was adapted for The Twilight Zone. His first story, “The Itching Hour,” appeared in the Summer 1940 number of Futuria Fantasia which was edited and published by Ray Bradbury.  It’s hard to briefly sum up his amazing genre career but let me note he was a member of the Futurians and a reviewer as well as a writer. Novels of his I’ll single out are Hell’s PavementThe Observers and Special Delivery but don’t think I’m overlooking his brilliant short stories. The Encyclopedia of SF notes that “In 1995, he was granted the SFWA Grand Master Award – which from 2002 became formally known, in his honour, as the Damon Knight Grand Master Award. He was posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2003.” (Died 2002.)
  • Born September 19, 1928 Adam West. Best known as Batman on that classic Sixties series, he also had a short role in 1964’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars as Colonel Dan McReady. He last played the role of Batman by voicing him in two animated films, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face. He also most excellently voiced The Gray Ghost in an episode of the Kevin Conroy voiced B:TAS, “Beware the Gray Ghost”. (Died 2017.)
  • Born September 19, 1928 Robin Scott Wilson. Founder, with Damon Knight and others, of the Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop. He edited Clarion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction and Criticism from the Clarion Writers’ WorkshopClarion II and Clarion III. He wrote one genre novel, To the Sound of Freedom (with Richard W. Shryock) and a lot of short fiction. He’s not in stock at all at the usual suspects. (Died 2013.)
  • Born September 19, 1933 David McCallum, 90. His longest running, though not genre, role is pathologist Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on NCIS where he appeared in every episode of the first fifteen seasons.  (With series lead Mark Harmon’s departure from the show in the fall of 2021 (Season 19), McCallum became the last remaining member of the original NCIS cast.) Genre wise, he was Illya Nickovitch Kuryakin on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and the British series Sapphire & Steel where he was Steel and Joanna Lumley was Sapphire. He played the lead in a short-lived U.S. version of The Invisible Man. He was Dr. Vance Hendricks on Babylon 5’s “Infection” episode.
  • Born September 19, 1947 Tanith Lee. I hadn’t realized that she wrote more than ninety novels and three hundred short stories in her career. Ninety novels! She even wrote two of the Blake’s 7 episodes as well. I am more fond of her work for children such as The Dragon Hoard and The Unicorn Series than I am of her adult work. She has garnered well-deserved Stoker and World Fantasy Awards for Lifetime Achievement. (Died 2015.)
  • Born September 19, 1952 Laurie R. King, 71. She’s on the Birthday Honors list for the Mary Russell series of historical mysteries, featuring Sherlock Holmes as her mentor and later partner. Hey it’s at least genre adjacent.  She’s also written at least one genre novel, Califia’s Daughters.
  • Born September 19, 1972 N. K. Jemisin, 51. Her most excellent Broken Earth series has made her the only author to have won the Hugo for Best Novel in three consecutive years. Her “Non-Zero Probabilities” was nominated for the Best Short Story losing out to Will McIntosh‘s “Bridesicle” at Aussiecon 4. “Emergency Skin” I’m pleased to note won the Best Novelette Hugo at CoNZealand. Yeah I voted for it. And at Chicon 8 she won a Best Graphic Story or Comic Hugo for Far Sector, written by her, with art by Jamal Campbell.

(11) FANHISTORY ZOOM. The next FANAC Fan History Zoom session will be about “Boston Fandom in the 60s” with Tony Lewis, Leslie Turek and Mike Ward, moderated by Mark Olson. It will happen September 23,2023 at Time: 4PM EDT, 1PM PDT, 9PM BST (UK), Sept 24 at 6AM Melbourne, AU. If you want access, please send a note to [email protected]

(12) COVER REVEAL. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Theory podcast Acid Horizon announced on Twitter/X the new cover for the upcoming Zer0 Books release Against the Vortex: Degrowth Utopias in the Seventies and Today by Anthony Galluzzo.

(13) LIVE ACTION, NOT ANIMATED. “Disney World forced to close rides after finding wild bear in park” reports Entertainment Weekly.

Disney World guests were just treated to a new kind of Country Bear Jamboree.

EW can confirm that a wild bear was found inside the park Monday morning, prompting the closure of at least 10 attractions inside the Frontierland, Adventureland, and Liberty Square areas. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission tells EW that biologists with FWC’s Bear Management Program, as well as FWC Law Enforcement officers, are “working on capturing and relocating the bear,” who they say was likely moving through the park in search of food….

(14) CHANGE THE TITLE, CHANGE THE GENRE. Lincoln Michel had fun with this idea – you can too.

(15) ON THEIR OWN TWO FEET. [Item by Nina Shepardson.] Slate has a list of “The 40 best stand-alone TV episodes that can be watched on their own.” Several are from genre TV shows, including Star Trek, The X-Files, and The Twilight Zone. I’d be interested to hear whether other Filers think Slate picked the right episodes…

Whether we’re living in the age of Peak TV or Trough TV, one thing is clear: There’s too much TV. Thankfully, not every show has to be watched in its entirety. One of the best things about television is its serialized nature, the continuous thread that strings viewers along from one episode to the next. It’s a cliché that prestige television is the new novel precisely because of the way that many dramas develop their characters and plots over many hours of storytelling. But an older virtue of TV is its brevity—the way a scenario can be introduced and resolved within the space of an hour, or half that—and some of the best episodes are less like chapters in a long-running novel than like short stories or short films. These are stand-alone episodes….

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Ersatz Culture, Ben Bird Person, Nina Shepardson, Joe Siclari, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Dream Foundry 2023 Art and Writing Contest Winners

Dream Foundry announced the winners of its 2023 Art and Writing Contests on August 28. 

WRITING CONTEST WINNERS

First Place

  • “The House of Old Marian” by Albert Nkereuwem

Second Place

  • “Roots That Abide” by Fatima Abdullahi

Third Place

  • “The Last Ever Meeting of the Chicken Express Coven by Jessica Andrewartha

ART CONTEST WINNERS

First Place, winner of the Monu Bose Memorial Prize:

Second Place

  • Ahmed Asi

Third Place

In both contests the first place winner receives $1000; second place, $500; and third place, $200. In addition, all of the winners will get their choice of seats at Flights of Foundry 2024’s workshop and limited seating sessions.

The winners were selected by writing contest judges John Wiswell and Suzan Palumbo, and art contest judges Sloane Hong and Solomon Enos.

2023 Dream Foundry Contest Finalists

Dream Foundry announced the 2023 finalists of its latest contest for speculative fiction writers and artists on July 31. 

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

WRITING CONTEST

  • Fatima Abdullahi
  • Jessica Andrewatha
  • Zary Fekete
  • Ariel Finkle
  • Mallika Kamat
  • Toshiya Kamei
  • Felicia Martínez
  • Albert Nkereuwem
  • Alexia Tolas
  • Alan Mark Tong

ART CONTEST

  • Ahmed Asi
  • BraveBurattino
  • chocokkyo
  • Alieha Dryden
  • Galtenoble
  • ©Jin
  • MarMar
  • Mocarro
  • ReYtzin
  • Larissa Usuki

The finalists were chosen by Julia Rios and Dante Luiz for the writing and art contests respectively. The finalists’ entries have been sent to writing contest judges John Wiswell and Suzan Palumbo, and art contest judges Sloane Hong and Solomon Enos, who will pick the first, second, and third place winners.

Pixel Scroll 4/27/23 Only The True Pixel Denies His Divinity

(1) BOASE AWARD. The UK’s Branford Boase Award honors debut efforts in children’s books and the editors as well as authors behind them. There are three works on The Branford Boase Award 2023 Shortlist of genre interest:

The other shortlisted works are:

  • The Bones of Me by Kel Duckhouse, edited by Harriet Birkinshaw, Flying Eye Books YA
  • Seed by Caryl Lewis, edited by Sarah Hughes, illustrated by George Ermos, Macmillan Children’s Books 7+
  • The Cats We Meet Along the Way, Nadia Mikail, edited by Bella Pearson, Guppy Books YA
  • Ellie Pillai is BrownChristine Pillainayagam, edited by Leah Thaxton, Faber 13+
  • The Map of Leaves, Yarrow Townsend, edited by Rachel Leyshon, Chicken House 10+

(2) SMALL PRESS WINS AWARD WITH GENRE BOOK. “Dead Ink wins Republic of Consciousness prize with Missouri Williams’s ‘astonishing’ debut” in the Guardian.

…First awarded in 2017, the Republic of Consciousness prize is given to the best literary novel published by a small press in the UK and Ireland with fewer than five employees. Over the past seven years the prize has awarded almost £100,000 to more than 25 small presses and writers….

Dead Ink Books has won the Republic of Consciousness prize for small presses for Missouri Williams’s “astonishing” debut novel The Doloriad. Yet while Dead Ink and Williams will get the prestige of winning, the entire shortlist will receive the same reward. Each of the five books wins £1,000, split 70:30 between publisher and author, on top of the £300 awarded to the 10 longlisted titles, which was paid to the presses only.

Prague-based Williams’s novel is set in the imagined wake of a mysterious disaster that has wiped out most of humanity. One family, descended from incest, remains, ruled by a merciless woman known only as the Matriarch. When the Matriarch believes there might be more survivors she sends one of her daughters, the legless Dolores, as a marriage offering….

(3) HOW LONG? Author Hana Lee built a tool designed to calculate how many copies an author must sell to earn out an advance. [Via Publishers Weekly.]

“Earning out” means that the amount you’ve “earned” in royalties from copies sold (across all formats) equals or exceeds your advance payment.

(4) CON OR BUST AUCTION RETURNS. Dream Foundry’s Con or Bust program makes direct cash grants to creators or fans of color to assist with travel, food, registration, and other expenses associated with attending industry events. They are bringing back The Con or Bust Auction to raise money for their grants and are looking for donors for items of interest to potential auction buyers. “Think special experiences (like author Q&As), art, limited and/or special edition copies of books, ARCs for anticipated releases, etc.”

They want to have donations in by the end of June for inclusion this year. See full information on the program and how to contact them about donations here. Dream Foundry is a recognized non-profit and any donations given to us are tax deductible.

(5) ELLIOTT Q&A. Paul Weimer asks the questions in “Interview: Kate Elliott, author of Furious Heaven at Nerds of a Feather.

Furious Heaven, being a sequel to Unconquerable Sun, is a middle book in a series. How has the writing of this been the same, and different than other series that you have done? 

My goal with each of the three books of this trilogy has been, and continues to be, to shape each individual volume as if it is a standalone. Unconquerable Sun completes several of its major plot threads and, I believe, ends at a satisfying point. If I’ve done my job right, the reader will feel they’ve read a complete story and ALSO wish to read more.

Middle volumes are peculiarly hard. It’s important, in my opinion, to avoid “adding more beads onto the string” — that is, just to add more incident without complicating or expanding on the original elements of the story. A middle volume can add layers, unexpected twists and outcomes; it can deepen the characters and guide the reader into new landscapes and unknown dangers only hinted at in book one. That’s how I worked with (for example) Shadow Gate (Crossroads), Cold Fire (Spiritwalker), and Poisoned Blade (Court of Fives), which are all second volumes in trilogies that make the story bigger and show the reader new places and new conflicts.

With Furious Heaven I specifically wanted to do my best to make the story readable by someone who hadn’t read book one, while also having it build on what had come before…. 

(6) DUNE 2 PREVIEW. “’Dune: Part Two’—An Exclusive First Look at the Saga’s Epic Conclusion”Vanity Fair offers descriptions and photos, but no video.

If you want to know where Dune: Part Two will begin, just look to the ending of the 2021 original. Director Denis Villeneuve wants to make it clear that his new movie, set for release November 3, is not so much another film as a continuation of the first. “It’s important—it’s not a sequel, it’s a second part. There’s a difference,” Villeneuve tells Vanity Fair for this exclusive first look. “I wanted the movie to really open just where we left the characters. There’s no time jump. I wanted dramatic continuity with part one.”…

….Although the first part of Dune became one of the first post-pandemic blockbusters and was nominated for 10 Oscars, winning six, the filmmaker himself still fixates on what he feels he could have done better. “You have to accept your failures as an artist,” he says. “It’s a task that was almost impossible, for me to be absolutely faithful to what those childhood dreams were. But what brings a lot of peace in my heart is that I brought a lot of them to the screen, a lot of them are close to what I had imagined.”

For now, Villeneuve is keeping his head down, staying focused on his work. “I’m deep into sound design and the visual effects, and it’s a race against time,” he says. Even discussing the film for this story was taxing for him. “I’ll be very blunt, okay?” he says with a smile, deploying the most Canadian analogy imaginable. “It’s very difficult for me to start to talk about a movie when I’m doing it. It’s like asking a hockey player to describe how he will score as he is skating toward the net.” 

Meanwhile, The Onion is skeptical: “’Dune: Part Two’ To Pick Up Right Where Viewers Fell Asleep During First One”.

(7) URSA MAJOR AWARDS. The group that runs the Ursa Major Awards for anthropomorphic works is asking for financial support. Contact them at the Ursa Major Awards website.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2003[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

One of my very favorite authors is Emma Bull (she and Will are on the chocolate gifting list) and Finder: A Novel of The Borderland is a novel that I’ve read at least a half dozen times to date.

Without stating any spoilers, I think it’s safe to say that Emma created truly believable characters, from the primary ones to the ones that just exist to enhance out the story, the setting of the city itself, and a story that makes the most of the setting that Bull has fleshed out from what Terri Windling created originally in this series.

The novel is available readily for quite reasonable prices in various editions, print and digital. 

And here’s the Beginning straight from the Border…

“My father he rides with your sheriffs

And I know he would never mean harm…

— Richard Thompson, “Genesis Hall”

 Chapter 1. Falling Out of Paradise

I remember where I was and what I was doing when Bonnie Prince Charlie was killed. Not that I knew it at the time, of course. But while Charlie was traveling the distance from the Pigeon Cloisters belfry to High Street with all the dispatch that gravity can muster, I was sunbathing.

If the weather had held, I’d have been on the roof of my building the next day, too, spread out like a drying sweater. But it promised rain. (If the forecast had been different, would the past be, too? Would a lot of people still be here? This town is strange and has weather to match, but I never imagined it was a matter of life and death.)

So when Tick-Tick pounded on the frame of my open front door, I was in and washing dishes. She poked her head in and shouted, “I am the queen’s daughter, I come from Twelfth and Flynn, in search of Young Orient, pray God I find him!”

I lifted my hands dripping from the suds, took the herbal cigarette out of the corner of my mouth, and said, “Excuse me?”

“Well, in a manner of speaking,” said the Ticker placidly. She stalked in, the picture of elven self-possession, and picked a saucer out of the dishpan with thumb and forefinger. “Mab’s grace. So low as you’ve fallen, my precious boy.”

“I’m out of cups. Nothing else would have driven me to it.” The water had killed my cigarette. I sighed and flicked it out the window.

She dropped into my upholstered chair and swung her long legs over the arm. Her concession to summer’s heat, I noticed, was to tear the sleeves off her favorite pair of gray mechanic’s coveralls and roll the legs up to mid-calf. And still she did look rather like a queen’s daughter; but the elves usually look like royalty. When they’re trying not to, they only look like royalty in a cheap plastic disguise. Tick-Tick had a face like the bust of Nefertiti, only more daunting, and her eyes were huge and long and the gray of January ice.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 27, 1899 Walter Lantz. Cartoonist, animator, producer and director who founded Walter Lantz Productions. He created the Woody Woodpecker and Chilly Willy characters among others. He received an Academy Award “for bringing joy and laughter to every part of the world through his unique animated motion pictures”. (Died 1994.)
  • Born April 27, 1901 Frank Belknap Long. John Hertz says that Long should be singled out for the “To Follow Knowledge” novelette which he lovingly discuses here.  I only add that Long received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. (Died 1994.)
  • Born April 27, 1920 Doris Baumgardt.Well-known and loved fan, illustrator and writer. She was a member of the Futurians, and a founding member of FAPA. She was also a member of the CPASF and the Science Fictioneers. She was one of five members of the Futurians allowed into the first World Science Fiction Convention by Sam Moskowitz — the other four were Isaac Asimov, David Kyle, Jack Robinson and Richard Wilson. She wrote three pieces of short fiction that were published in the Forties and Fifties; she contributed artwork to fanzines. (JJ) (Died 1970.)
  • Born April 27, 1958 Caroline Spector, 65. She was an Associate Editor at Amazing Stories for several years, but her main genre connection is her fiction in George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards series where she has seven stories. She also a Shadowrun novel, Worlds Without End. (Now that was an interesting RPG!) she also has an essay, “Power and Feminism in Westeros” in James Lowder’s Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, From A “Game of Thrones” to “A Dance with Dragons
  • Born April 27, 1962 Rachel Caine. She had two ongoing endeavors, the Weather Warden series which is most excellent and the superb Great Library series. I can’t speak to the Morganville Vampires series as I don’t do vampires really. And yes, I know she’s got a number of other series, far more than can detailed be here. (Died 2020.)
  • Born April 27, 1963 Russell T. Davies, 60. Responsible for the 2005 revival on BBC One of Doctor Who. (A Whovian since the very beginning, he thinks “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” has the best dialogue in the entire series, an opinion I concur with.) Of course he’s also responsible for Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures as well. (Need I note that the The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot was his idea?) Davies returned as the showrunner in October 2022 after the departure of Chris Chibnall; the first episodes of his second tenure will be the show’s sixtieth anniversary specials in 2023.
  • Born April 27, 1986 Catherine Webb, 37. She’s writes under a number of names but I only know her under her Kate Griffin name where she wrote the extraordinary London set Matthew Swift series which one of the best urban fantasy series I ever read. I’ve not read any of her fiction written as Claire North which is major other name, so if you have, do tell me how it is. As North, her book The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August won the Clarke Award and Campbell Memorial Award, and The Sudden Appearance of Hope won a World Fantasy Award. Now go read the Matthew Swift series! 

(10) JOBS MAGNET. “As New York Boosts Tax Breaks for Movies, Some Critics Pan the Program” reports the New York Times.

 Four years ago, Amazon pulled the plug on its plans to build a headquarters in New York City, amid left-wing outrage over a $3 billion public subsidy package. But New York has hardly cut the company off: Amazon’s film and TV arm has received more than $108 million in state tax credits since then, and the left has raised nary a peep.

The handout is part of a state program that provides hundreds of millions of dollars each year in tax incentives to producers across the film and television industry, including Amazon — helping fuel a rapid expansion of studios in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Westchester County.

Now, Gov. Kathy Hochul is pushing to expand the program by nearly 70 percent, using the proposed state budget to shower as much as $7.7 billion in tax credits on the industry over the next 11 years. As it now stands, the subsidy is the most generous of any offered by the state, according to an analysis by Reinvent Albany, a watchdog group.

The proposed expansion to $700 million a year from $420 million has drawn stern rebukes from a range of critics who argue the decades-old program has consistently been a bad deal for taxpayers. But its likely success shows what is possible when powerful political and economic forces align in Albany, and states are increasingly pitted against each other for prestige jobs.

Ms. Hochul’s team is most concerned about neighboring New Jersey, which, along with Georgia and Canada, offers its own buffet of sweeteners that threatens to siphon film projects from New York.

(11) WWII RESISTANCE WORK. “Colorful Stories for Children, With the Darkest History as Backdrop” in the New York Times.  Includes many pictures from the books.  

During World War II, a clutch of whimsical children’s books were published in the Netherlands under a pen name, El Pintor. One book shows children flying on the backs of sparrows. In another, they float, attached to balloons. There is a pop-up book with people and animals nestled in trees and an activity book with paper cutouts.

The books sold thousands of copies, and were popular not only in the Netherlands, which was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany in 1940, but in Germany as well.

The books did more than entertain children during the grim days of war. Behind the pseudonym El Pintor was a Jewish couple, Galinka Ehrenfest and Jacob Kloot. They used the name El Pintor to obscure their heritage, and funneled the proceeds from their picture books to fund Dutch resistance efforts and to help Jews who were hiding from the Nazi regime.

They did so at great risk, said Linda Horn, who wrote a book published in the Netherlands about Ehrenfest’s life.

“Secrecy was very important, people couldn’t write down what they were doing,” said Horn of those who worked in the Dutch resistance. “There are barely any sources.”…

(12) TODAY’S DAY. It’s World Hyena Day today. Which is important if you’re into furry fiction.

https://twitter.com/WildDogUtunu/status/1650854052245250049

(13) HISTORY-MAKING AMATEUR FILM CLUB. [Item by Ahrvid Enghom.] UK fan Jim Walker suddenly appears in the new documentary “A Bunch of Amateurs” (eg 37h30m in, but also later and in the credits), a film about the world’s perhaps oldest amateur film club, the Bradford Movie Makers founded in 1932.

Available here for UK viewers  (Geo-blocking may be overcome by VPN or something, if you know how.) I’ve seen the film, which has been on our local SVT.

(See also e.g. “Bradford-Based Feature Documentary A Bunch Of Amateurs”) — Bradford Movie Makers. They seem to have done some skiffy flicks among their 300 productions over 90 years, e.g. a Superman parody which is shown in this documentary.

Jim Walker

(14) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 82 of Octothorpe, “Metatextual Dinosaurs”

John Coxon, Alison Scott and Liz Batty talk about their Hugo Award nominations. You have about four days to vote, so get your skates on! Read and watch everything we recommend! Do it now!

(15) APEX ACQUIRES KEENE BOOK. Apex Book Company has acquired first North America English trade paperback rights to the novel Island Of The Dead by Brian Keene in a deal brokered by the author.

Island Of The Dead is a horror/sword and sorcery novel in which an enslaved barbarian plots his escape from a war galley transporting soldiers and a mysterious biological weapon. But when a storm at sea leaves them shipwrecked on a mysterious island, friend and foe alike must band together against a ravenous, steadily growing horde of the undead.

Through Apex Books, Keene has written the Lost Level series of dark fantasy novels and co-authored the Rogan Chronicles series with Steven Shrewsbury.

Brian Keene is the author of over fifty books, mostly in the horror, crime, fantasy, and non-fiction genres. His 2003 novel, The Rising, is credited (along with Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comic and Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later film) with inspiring pop culture’s recurrent interest in zombies.

(16) STALKER. “A Russian ‘inspector’ satellite appears to be chasing a secret US military satellite in a game of cat and mouse” – see photos at MSN.com.

mysterious Russian satellite and a confidential US military satellite appear to be engaged in a cat-and-mouse chase through space.

The Russian spacecraft, called Kosmos-2558, was launched into the same orbital plane as the US satellite, called USA-326, in August 2022 and has regularly passed close to the American spacecraft ever since.

The behavior of Kosmos-2558, and the lack of a formal explanation from Russia, has led space observers to believe that the probe is stalking USA-326. It’s at least the third satellite Russia has launched that appears to be an “inspector” — a spacecraft aiming to gather up-close data on another satellite….

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

2023 Dream Foundry Contests Will Open to Submissions April 17

The Dream Foundry’s contests for emerging writers and artists will be open to submissions are from April 17 through June 18, 2023.  There are no fees to submit.

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

EMERGING WRITERS CONTEST

This contest is for writers who are relatively new to paid or incoming-earning publication of speculative short fiction in English. To be eligible for this contest, all five rules below must be true of the entrant:

  • You have published a total of less than 4,000 words of paid or income-earning speculative fiction in English.
  • You have earned a total of less than USD 320 from those words.
  • You have never been nominated for any award listed here as a major award in speculative fiction.
  • You are not a previous winner of the Dream Foundry writing contest.
  • No AI, machine learning, or large language model tools were used in the story except for checking spelling and grammar.

Cash prizes will be given to the top three entries. First Place: $1000. Second Place: $500. Third Place: $200.

Writing Contest Judges:

Suzan Palumbo is a Trinidadian Canadian speculative fiction writer, two time Nebula Award finalist, editor, and cofounder of the Ignyte Awards. Her debut dark fantasy/horror short story collection, “Skin Thief: Stories” is forthcoming from Neon Hemlock in fall 2023. Her novella “Countess” will be published by ECW Press in 2024. Her writing has been featured in: The Dark Magazine, Lightspeed Magazine, Fantasy Magazine, The Deadlands, Pseudopod, Podcastle, Anathema: Spec Fic from the Margins, and other venues. A full bibliography can be found at: suzanpalumbo.wordpress.com. She is officially represented by Michael Curry of the Donald Maass Literary Agency. She tweets @sillysyntax and posts on instagram @gothicsyntax. When she isn’t writing, she is usually sketching, listening to new wave, being a silly goth or wandering her local misty forests.

John (@Wiswell) is a disabled writer who lives where New York keeps all its trees. He is a winner of the Nebula Award for Best Short Story and Locus Award for Best Novelette, and a finalist for the Hugo, World Fantasy, and British Fantasy awards for short fiction. His work has appeared in venues such as Tor.com, LeVar Burton Reads, Uncanny Magazine, Diabolical Plots, Lightspeed Magazine, Podcastle, Escape Pod, and the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. His debut novel, SOMEONE YOU CAN BUILD A NEST IN, is due out from DAW Books in 2024.

EMERGING ARTISTS CONTEST

This contest is for artists who are relatively new to paid illustration work for speculative publications in English.  To be eligible for this contest, all the following rules must be true of you:

  • You have a maximum of one (1) commissioned/original artwork for the cover of a speculative publication.
  • You have only two (2) or less non-original artworks (reprint/licensed art) used for covers of speculative fiction magazines or publications.
  • You have never been nominated for any Hugo award for art, including fan categories.
  • You are not a previous winner of the Dream Foundry art contest

Cash prizes will be given to the top three entries. First Place, Monu Bose Prize for Art: $1000. Second Place: $500. Third Place: $200.

Artist Contest Judges:

Solomon Robert Nui Enos is a Native Hawaiian artist, illustrator, and visionary. Born and raised in Makaha Valley (O‘ahu, Hawai‘i), Solomon hails from the well-known Enos ‘ohana. Solomon has been making art for more than 30 years and he is adept at artistic expression in a wide variety of media including oil paintings, book illustrations, murals, and game design. A self-described “Possibilist” Solomon’s art expresses an informed aspirational vision of the world at its best via contemporary and traditional art that leans towards Sci-Fi and Fantasy. His work touches on themes like collective-consciousness, ancestry and identity, our relationship with our planet, and all through the lens of his experience as a person indigenous to Hawai’i.

Solomon has exhibited in Biennial X (Honolulu Museum of Art), 6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (Queensland Art Gallery), CONTACT art exhibitions, and others. His work is held in private collections and in the public collections of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and Hawai’i State Art Museum. He has led numerous community mural projects and has received art commissions for hotels, corporate offices, public buildings, and schools in Hawai’i. His latest works include murals and augmented-reality installations for Google and Disney.

Rumours suggest that Sloane Hong [they/them] is an illustrator, comic artist and tattooer who lurks somewhere deep within the agonising, suburban sprawl of Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa. However, these claims have yet to be verified. Documented photo evidence of their work may be found on plaest2k.me or on twitter and instagram using the handle @plaest2k.

Pixel Scroll 2/25/23 What Good Is A Glass Pixel?

(1) NAACP IMAGE AWARDS. The 2023 NAACP Image Awards fiction winner was one of the non-genre nominees.

OUTSTANDING LITERARY WORK – FICTION

  • WINNER: Take My Hand – Dolen Perkins-Valdez (Penguin Random House)

OTHER NOMINEES

  • Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction – Sheree Renée Thomas (Macmillan)
  • Light Skin Gone to Waste – Toni Ann Johnson (University of Georgia Press)
  • The Keeper – Tananarive Due, Steven Barnes (Abrams Books)
  • You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty – Akwaeke Emezi (Simon & Schuster)

(2) EKPEKI INTERVIEW. Media Death Cult’s Moid Moidelhoff conducted “An Interview with Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki”.

Ekpeki is a Nigerian speculative fiction author, editor and publisher, spotlighting the talents and awareness of African writers.

(3) STEP RIGHT UP. “What Is It That Makes Used Bookstores So Wonderful?” asks Keith Roysdon at CrimeReads.

…My favorite store of all the others besides Powell’s [in Portland, OR] was a used bookstore in my hometown of Muncie, Indiana, Al Maynard’s Used Book Headquarters. It was located on the second floor of a deteriorating downtown building and was the kind of inaccessible place that wouldn’t be allowed now, and rightly so. The bookstore was at the top of a long flight of stairs and Maynard, who was famed for being cantankerous, had posted a hand-lettered sign at the top of the stairs. It read something like, “There are 23 steps behind you. Shoplifters will miss most of them on the way down.”

Maynard had accumulated a wealth of books that, in my mind, was a midwestern version of the Library of Alexandria: the wooden shelves lining all the walls were filled with hardbacks, paperbacks, scholarly works, old magazines – probably every edition of National Geographic – and pulp magazines from the first half of the 20th century….

(4) WHICH VERSION WILL WIN? “Roald Dahl publisher announces unaltered 16-book ‘classics collection’” reports the Guardian. The market will decide.

A collection of Roald Dahl’s books with unaltered text is to be published after a row over changes made to novels including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Witches.

Dahl’s publisher Puffin, the children’s imprint of Penguin Random House, was criticised this week after the Telegraph reported that it had hired sensitivity readers to go over the beloved author’s books and language deemed to be offensive would be removed from new editions. In response, Puffin has decided to release Dahl’s works in their original versions with its new texts.

The Classic Collection will “sit alongside the newly released Puffin Roald Dahl books for young readers”, the publisher said in a statement, adding that the the latter series of books “are designed for children who may be navigating written content independently for the first time”….

(5) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. Should Puffin executives be alert for hungry amphibians headed their way? According to the Guardian, “Roald Dahl threatened publisher with ‘enormous crocodile’ if they changed his words”.

One of Roald Dahl’s best-known characters was the Enormous Crocodile, “a horrid greedy grumptious brute” who “wants to eat something juicy and delicious”.

Now a conversation the author had 40 years ago has come to light, revealing that he was so appalled by the idea that publishers might one day censor his work that he threatened to send the crocodile “to gobble them up”.

The conversation took place in 1982 at Dahl’s home in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, where he was talking to the artist Francis Bacon.

“I’ve warned my publishers that if they later on so much as change a single comma in one of my books, they will never see another word from me. Never! Ever!” he said.

With his typically evocative language, he added: “When I am gone, if that happens, then I’ll wish mighty Thor knocks very hard on their heads with his Mjolnir. Or I will send along the ‘enormous crocodile’ to gobble them up.”

(6) MEMORIES OF THE ZONE. Listverse hopes to surprise readers with “10 Things You Might Not Know about The Twilight Zone” – or at least maybe forgot they knew, like this one:

10 The Iconic Theme Song Was Not Introduced Until the Second Season

Even people who have not seen The Twilight Zone are familiar with the catchy “dee-dee-dee-dee” of the theme song. However, this song was not actually used during the airing of the first season of the show. The original theme was written by Bernard Herrmann, known for his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock on films such as Psycho (1960), and while it was fittingly creepy, it didn’t pack much of a punch.

CBS was on the search for a new theme, and Lud Gluskin, the show’s director of music, hired Marius Constant, who usually composed ballet scores, to give it a go. Constant came up with two pieces of music, “Milieu No. 2” and “Étrange No. 3,” which Gluskin then joined together to create the new title theme. The song became integral to the identity of the show. Although the theme has been revamped in the various iterations of The Twilight Zone, the memorable four-note guitar riff is always present

(7) DELIGHTFUL DOZEN. SlashFilm says these are “The 12 Coolest Spaceships In Sci-Fi Movie History” – although John King Tarpinian complains that “They left out the Winnebago.”

The Event Horizon

Sometimes, of course, a spacecraft can be overtly villainous, and none are as depraved as the Event Horizon. Early on in Paul W.S. Anderson’s 1997 sci-fi horror “Event Horizon,” the eponymous ship appears to be just that: a faster-than-light spaceship that disappeared, and then reappeared, under mysterious circumstances. Later, after everything starts to get a bit eye-gougey, it turns out that the Event Horizon gained sentience after briefly crossing over into another dimension, essentially becoming the science fiction equivalent of the Overlook Hotel….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1970[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Our Beginning tonight is Ringworld which was published by Ballantine Books in 1970. 

Ok, there is definitely sexism lurking within Larry Niven’s Ringworld, and despite winning a Hugo at the first Noreascon is considered to have been visited by the Suck Fairy by many of you as discussed here when I essayed it earlier.

But this feature is about the Beginnings and oh my Ringworld has one of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure to read as it introduces us to our protagonist in a way that makes us like him.

Now our Beginning…

In the nighttime heart of Beirut, in one of a row of general-address transfer booths, Louis Wu flicked into reality. 

His foot-length queue was as white and shiny as artificial snow. His skin and depilated scalp were chrome yellow; the irises of his eyes were gold; his robe was royal blue with a golden steroptic dragon superimposed. In the instant he appeared, he was smiling widely, showing pearly, perfect, perfectly standard teeth. Smiling and waving. But the smile was already fading, and in a moment it was gone, and the sag of his face was like a rubber mask melting. Louis Wu showed his age. 

For a few moments, he watched Beirut stream past him: the people flickering into the booths from unknown places; the crowds flowing past him on foot, now that the slidewalks had been turned off for the night. Then the clocks began to strike twenty-three. Louis Wu straightened his shoulders and stepped out to join the world. In Resht, where his party was still going full blast, it was already the morning after his birthday. 

Here in Beirut it was an hour earlier. In a balmy outdoor restaurant Louis bought rounds of raki and encouraged the singing of songs in Arabic and Interworld. He left before midnight for Budapest. 

Had they realized yet that he had walked out on his own party? They would assume that a woman had gone with him, that he would be back in a couple of hours. But Louis Wu had gone alone, jumping ahead of the midnight line, hotly pursued by the new day. Twenty-four hours was not long enough for a man’s two hundredth birthday.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 25, 1906 Mary Chase. Journalist, playwright and children’s novelist. She’s best remembered for the Broadway playwright who penned Harvey which was later adapted for the film that starred James Stewart. Her only other genre work was the children’s story, “The Wicked, Wicked Ladies In the Haunted House”. The latter is available at the usual digital publishers but Harvey isn’t. You can get Harvey as an audiobook. (Died 1981.)
  • Born February 25, 1909 Edgar Pangborn. For the first twenty years of his career, he wrote myriad stories for the pulp magazines, but always under pseudonyms. It wasn’t until the Fifties that he published in his own name in Galaxy Science Fiction and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Ursula Le Guin has credited him with showing her it was possible to write humanly emotional stories in an SF setting. A Mirror for Observers is his best known work. (Died 1976.)
  • Born February 25, 1913 Gert Fröbe. Goldfinger in the Bond film of that name. He also the Baron Bomburst in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Professor Van Bulow in Jules Verne’s Rocket to the Moon and Colonel Manfred von Holstein in Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, a film that’s at least genre adjacent. (Died 1988.)
  • Born February 25, 1917 Anthony Burgess. I know I’ve seen and read A Clockwork Orange many, many years ago. I think I even took a University class on it as well. Scary book, weird film.  I’ll admit that I’m not familiar with the Enderby series having not encountered them before now. Opinions please. (Died 1993.)
  • Born February 25, 1922 Robert Bonfils. Illustrator, known for his covers for pulp paperback covers, many of an erotic nature. I’ve not heard of him but ISFDB lists quite a few genre works that are, errr, graced by his work. Sex is certainly his dominant theme as can be seen in the covers of Go-Go SADISTO, Orgy of the Dead and Roburta the Conqueress. (Died 2018.)
  • Born February 25, 1968 A. M. Dellamonica, 55. A Canadian writer who has published over forty rather brilliant short stories since the Eighties. Their first novel, Indigo Springs, came out just a decade ago but they now has five novels published with their latest being The Nature of a Pirate. Her story, “Cooking Creole” can be heard here at Podcastle 562. It was in Mojo: Conjure Stories, edited by Nalo Hopkinson.
  • Born February 25, 1973 Anson Mount, 50. He is now Captain Christopher Pike on Strange Worlds, a role he first played on Discovery. He was Black Bolt in Marvel’s Inhumans series. I see he was in Visions, a horror film, and has had appearances on LostDollhouse and Smallville.

(10) GRINCH REDUX. “Dr. Seuss’ ‘How the Grinch stole Christmas!’ gets a sequel”Yahoo! has details.

Dr. Seuss fans might find their hearts growing three sizes this coming holiday season with the release of a sequel to the 1957 classic children’s book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”

The new book picks up one year after the original, and like the first, teaches a valuable lesson about the true spirit of the holiday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises and Random House Children’s Books announced Thursday.

The sequel entitled “How the Grinch Lost Christmas!” is not based on a newly discovered manuscript by Seuss — whose real name was Theodor Geisel — but was written and illustrated by an author and artist with previous experience in the Dr. Seuss universe.

“One of the most asked questions we receive from Seuss fans of all ages is ‘What do you think happened to the Grinch after he stole Christmas?” said Alice Jonaitis, executive editor at Random House Children’s Books, in a statement….

(11) SUPER SIGNATURE. You have until March 3 to bid on this “George Reeves Signed Photo as Superman” at Nate D. Sanders Auctions. Minimum bid $2,500.

George Reeves signed photo as the original Superman, with bold handwriting. Reeves inscribes the photo, ”From one Judo man to another / George Reeves” for the famed martial artist Bruce Tegner, who worked with Reeves on stunts for ”Adventures of Superman”. 

(12) THE PRINCESS SHORTCUT. “Disney Movies With Quicker Endings Are Pretty Funny”Pupperish has a gallery of “how it should have ended”-style scenes from Disney animations.

(13) MARKETING ADVICE. Video of a Flights of Foundry presentation, “Marketing, A Necessary Habit” with Sarah Faxon, was recently uploaded.

Are you struggling with marketing, or not sure where to start? In this talk, Sarah Faxon discusses organizational tools available to help keep marketing organized, how to find the target audience, and how to create a marketing habit.

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