Pixel Scroll 3/18/22 When A Pixel’s Not Engaged In Its Enscrollment

(1) BIG GREEN NUMBERS. Brandon Sanderson shares a lot of information about his successful Kickstarter and his progress on other projects in “Some FAQs You Might Enjoy”. Also includes a long analysis of Amazon’s effect on his business.

How Are You Going to Spend the Money?

I got this question from the journalist from the Associated Press who interviewed me.  He gave an excellent interview, and we had a really great conversation.  But this question stopped me for a moment.  It’s a valid question, but it took me by surprise, as I haven’t been looking at this the way that some people seem to be.  I didn’t hit the lottery, any more than any other business hits the lottery when they have a product that connects with their market.

I will spend the money as I spend the rest of my money.  Part into savings, part into paying salaries (along with nice extra bonuses because the Kickstarter did well), part reinvested into the company.  (We’re still planning on building a physical bookstore, and this will help accelerate those plans.  Also, it’s not outside of reason that as I move into doing more film and TV, I will want to partially fund some of the projects.)

While this Kickstarter is an incredible event, and (don’t get me wrong) is going to earn me a good chunk of money, it’s going to be comparable to other projects I’ve done.  Also, don’t underestimate how much money it costs to maintain the infrastructure (like a warehouse–or in this case, probably more than one) it takes to be able to ship several hundred thousand books.  It will likely be years before we can be certain how much this actually earned us after all expenses.  More than we’d get from New York on the same books, but potentially not that much more.

That said, I will almost certainly buy myself some nice Magic cards.  Still have a few unlimited duals in my cube that could use an upgrade to black border.

Did You Anticipate This Level of Success for the Kickstarter?

I did not.  I knew the potential was there, but I didn’t think it (getting to this astronomical number of backers) would happen.

My guess was that we’d land somewhere in the 2–4 million range, though I really had no idea.  My team can attest to the fact that in the lead-up, I was very conservative in my estimates and expectations.  This was an experiment from us that I’d been wanting to try for a while.  (I’ll talk more about that below.)  I didn’t have any idea how well it would go.

…How many of those potential 250k–800k people who normally buy a Sanderson book in the first year could be convinced instead to move and preorder it through Kickstarter?  Our guesses, it turned out, were way low.  But at the same time, it is interesting that (not disregarding our huge success, which I’m not at all complaining about) even this huge Kickstarter breaking all records is only grabbing a fraction of my normal audience.  So maybe you can see why we knew we had potential, but were conservative in our estimates. … 

There is also much inside baseball about what indie authors have to face:

…These days, according to some of my indie author friends, you have to spend a great deal to sell on Amazon.  Not everyone’s experience is the same, but I hear this time and time again.  To make it as an indie author, you need to shell out for expensive advertising on the very website selling your books.  I have indie author friends who are spending a good portion of their income on these advertisements–and if they don’t, their sales vanish.  Amazon has effectively created a tax where indie authors pay back a chunk of that glorious 70% royalty to Amazon.  (And this is for the authors lucky enough to be allowed to buy those advertising spots, and therefore have the chance at selling.)….

…Regardless, this has been bothering me for over a decade.  I feel that the current system has a gun to my head.  Heck, all that has to happen is for someone at Amazon read this blog post or see my Kickstarter and decide they just want to make an example out of me.  Poof.  85% of my sales gone.  And while some people might go to another vendor to get my books, the painful truth is that many would not.  Time and time again, studies of contemporary tech media consumption have shown that the person who controls the platform is the one who controls the market. …

(2) MAIL CALL. In “An Open Letter to the 2022 Hugo Finalists, Whoever They May Be”, Cora Buhlert once again shares her experience and advice.

… Right now, no one except for possibly the Hugo administrators knows who those finalists will be. However, sometime in the next two weeks or so, some of you will receive an e-mail from Chicon 8, informing you that you are a finalist for the 2022 Hugo Award and asking you whether you want to accept the nomination. Some of you will have received such e-mails before, for others it will be the first time.

But whether it’s your first or your twentieth nomination, congratulations! That’s awesome.

As a first time recipient of such an e-mail in 2020, here are a few things I’ve learned…

(3) UNIVERSE WILL KEEP EXPANDING. Sharon Lee’s biggest news in “Liaden Universe® Updates” is that she and Steve Miller have accepted an additional three book contract with Baen for Liaden novels.

…The contract’s call-name is Traveler’s Trio, and we have no idea where those novels will take us, yet, but we do have delivery dates.  Those are:

Traveler’s Trio ONE:  September 2024
Traveler’s Trio TWO:  September 2025
Traveler’s Trio THREE:  September 2026

Note A:  In September 2026, I will be 74 years old.  Steve will have celebrated his 76th birthday three months prior.  This by way of reassuring those folks who have been worrying about our retirement that, err — writers don’t retire.  At least, writers at our level of the game don’t retire.

Here ends the Updatery.

(4) GUNN CENTER EVENTS. The Gunn Center for the Study of SF has posted the selections and dates for the next several meetings of their virtual book club, and another event. Zoom info and further details at the links. 

Discussion of Colson Whitehead’s first novel, The Intuitionist. This choice anticipates Whitehead’s visit to Lawrence for the Paper Plains Literary Festival in early April! https://www.paperplains.org

Discussion of Angelline Boulley’s young adult thriller, Firekeeper’s Daughter. More aligned with conversations about Indigenous belief systems and spirituality than conventional science fiction; also in anticipation of the Paper Plains festival. Co-sponsored with Haskell Indian Nations University, KU’s First Nations Student Association, and others. Teens welcome!

Discussion of Franny Choi’s Soft Science. In celebration of National Poetry Month!

  • Friday, MAY 20th* @ noon (CT) – [no link yet] Discussion of Sarah Pinsker’s Two Truths and a Lie

Winner of the 2021 Nebula Award & 2021 Hugo Award for Best Novelette. (*) Please note that this is not the last Friday of the month, which falls on Memorial Day Weekend.

(5) ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT YOU? The Silmarillion Writers’ Guild seeks the meaning of it all in “A Sudden Outcry: The Tolkien Estate and Fanworks”.

…When the Tolkien Estate recently presented their newly revamped website, it did not take fans long to see past the new artwork and other features to find that the Tolkien Estate has a policy on fanworks. The past several days have seen a whirl of discussion about what it all means that can be distilled down to a single burning question:

Did the Tolkien Estate just ban fanworks?

In short, no, the Tolkien Estate did not just ban fanworks. The fanworks you have posted, are in the middle of creating, or are even thinking about creating are not affected by what the Estate says on their website.

The longer answer depends on if you’re interested in the just or the ban part of that question (or maybe both!). While the following is not legal advice, we hope it will lessen the worry that the existence of fanworks is in jeopardy.  As always, bear in mind that laws vary from country to country. If you have specific concerns, the Organization for Transformative Works’ legal committee, while unable to give legal advice, can answer questions you might have.

The article contains an extensive history of the Estate’s policies towards fanworks. The writers come to this paradoxical conclusion:

…The Tolkien Estate is anti-fanwork and always has been. For all that the “other minds and hands” quote gets tossed about by fans eager to believe that Tolkien would have condoned their activities, Tolkien himself was anti-fanwork when it came to his books,2 unless it was something that he liked. This has neither changed nor prevented Tolkien fanworks from being made in the almost seven decades since The Lord of the Rings was published…

(6) OMELAS. The Unofficial Hugo Book Club Blog tweeted a crusher yesterday. There are nine tweets in the thread, which starts here.

(7) THE SAND OF MUSIC. Hans Zimmer tells Vanity Fair about the score for Dune in a video that dropped today: “How ‘Dune’ Composer Hans Zimmer Created the Oscar-Nominated Score”.

“Something I wanted to always do. Invent instruments that don’t exist. Invent sounds that don’t exist.” Hans Zimmer, ‘Dune’ composer, gives his in-depth analysis and insider’s look at how the score was created for Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 film.

(8) MORE FROM DISCON III. Morgan Hazelwood posted her notes from the DisCon III panel “Ask An Editor: Longform Writing” with participants George Jreije, Katherine Crighton, Navah Wolfe, and Trevor Quachri, plus Joshua Bilmes as moderator. (The material is also presented in a YouTube video.)

The description for this panel was as follows:

What makes a good novel? How do you know it’s ready? Where should you send it and how should you respond to comments? This is your chance to ask burning questions to a panel of respected agents and editors.

(9) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to share deep-fried wontons with Library of Congress curator Sara Duke in episode 167 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Sara Duke

Library of Congress curator Sara Duke and I were supposed to have lunch two years ago, way back in March of 2020, but then … something happened. I suspect you can guess what that something was. We finally managed to break bread — or rather, share Pad See Ew — last week at D.C.’s Young Chow Chinese restaurant.

Sara Duke has been at the Library of Congress for more than 30 years, the past 23 as the curator of Popular and Applied Graphic Art in the Prints and Photographs Division. She’s in charge of cartoons, documentary drawings, and ephemera. Starting with Blondie Gets Married in 2000, she’s been responsible for curating many exhibits relating to popular culture, including Comic Art: 120 Years of Panels and Pages, and most recently, Geppi’s Gems.

We discussed the first piece of artwork she longed to get her hands on after a 13-month pandemic absence, our joint loathing of slabbed comics, the misconceptions many people have about the Library of Congress, the things most people no longer remember about Blondie, her comic book exhibit cancelled by COVID, the serendipitous way a PhD in 17th century Irish history led to her becoming a curator, her early (and continuing) love of MAD magazine, and much more.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1981 [Item by Cat Eldridge] On this evening forty-one years ago, the show that Warner Bros. sued for copyright infringement in Warner Bros. Inc. v. American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. premiered on ABC. The Greatest American Hero starred William Katt as teacher Ralph Hinkley in a suit that allowed him to fly and which looked sort of like that Super-Hero. The Court ruled, “as a matter of law, The Greatest American Hero’ is not sufficiently similar to the fictional character Superman.” 

It was created by producer Stephen J. Cannell and was his only genre undertaking.

The rest of the regular cast consisted of just Robert Culp as FBI agent Bill Maxwell and Connie Sellecca as lawyer Pam Davidson. ABC wasn’t going to deal with a bloated salary line here.  Culp of course had been Kelly Robinson on I Spy, but more importantly was in The Outer Limits episode “Demon with a Glass Hand”, written by Harlan Ellison. Sellecca played Pamela Edwards in a recurring role in the Beyond Westworld series.

It would last three seasons and have a proper conclusion in which the story was wrapped up. That conclusion lead to the pilot for another series which was not picked up by another network. A reboot with a female lead was in the works at ABC several years back but not even a pilot was shot.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 18, 1888 Alexander Leydenfrost. As an illustrator, he briefly worked for Planet Stories before being signed by Life magazine where the money was better. But his quite brief tenure at Planet Stories is credited with the creation of the enduring cliche Bug Eyed Monster as that’s what his illustrations showed. (Died 1961.)
  • Born March 18, 1926 Peter Graves. Star of Mission Impossible and the short lived Australian-based Mission Impossible, which if you not seen it you should as it’s damn good. I’m reasonably certain his first genre role was on Red Planet Mars playing Chris Cronyn. Later roles included Gavin Lewis on The Invaders, Major Noah Cooper on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Doug Paul Martin in Killers from Space and Paul Nelson on It Conquered the World. It’s worth noting that a number of his films are featured on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 series. (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 18, 1932 John Updike. It might surprise you to learn that there are two Eastwick novels, The Witches of Eastwick and The Widows of Eastwick, the latter set some three decades after the first novel ended. No idea what it’s like as I’ve never heard of it. He wrote a number of other genre friendly novels including The CentaurBrazil and Toward the End of Time. (Died 2009.)
  • Born March 18, 1950 J.G. Hertzler, 72. He’s best known for his role on Deep Space Nine as the Klingon General (and later Chancellor) Martok. He co-authored with Jeff Lang, Left Hand of Destiny, Book 1, and Left Hand of Destiny, Book 2, which chronicle the life of his character. His very TV first role was a genre one, to wit on Quantum Leap sac Weathers Farrington in the  “Sea Bride – June 3, 1954” episode. Setting aside DS9, he’s been in ZorroHighlanderThe Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanLois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanCharmedRoswell and Enterprise series;  for film genre work, I see The Redeemer: Son of SatanTreasure Island: The Adventure Begins and Prelude to Axanar (yet another piece of fanfic). In addition, he’s done a lot of video game voice acting, the obvious Trek work but such franchises as BioShock 2The Golden Compass and Injustice: Gods Among Us.
  • Born March 18, 1959 Luc Besson, 63. Oh, The Fifth Element, one of my favorite genre films. There’s nothing about it that I don’t like. I’ve not seen Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and comments leave me disinclined to do so. The Transporter is not genre but I recommend it as a great film none the less.
  • Born March 18, 1960 Richard Biggs. Another way too young death on Babylon 5 as he appeared as Dr. Stephen Franklin, reprising the role in the final aired episode of Crusade, “Each Night I Dream of Home”. Other genre roles included playing Roger Garrett on Tremors, Hawkes In The Alien Within, An Unnamed Reporter on Beauty and the Beast,  Dr. Thomson on an episode of The Twilight Zone and a Process Server in an episode of The Magical World of Disney.  (Died 2004.)
  • Born March 18, 1961 James Davis Nicoll, 61. A freelance game and genre reviewer. A first reader for SFBC as well. Currently he’s a blogger on Dreamwidth and Facebook, and an occasional columnist on Tor.com. In 2014, he started his website, jamesdavisnicoll.com, which is dedicated to his book reviews of works old and new; and which later added the highly entertaining Young People Read Old SFF, where that group reads and comments on prior-to-Eighties SF and fantasy.

(12) SENDING UP DISNEY. “This Young Artist Successfully Wows Disney Fans With Hilarious Disney Fanarts” at Aubtu.

Disney fans tend to redraw Disney characters with their unique ideas, but Jorge D. Espinosa has taken it to another level. As a talented artist, Jorge has recreated several famous Disney characters with different settings. They can be about Aurora’s hangover or Jasmine as a dancer enjoying Beyonce’s song. There is no doubt that these unique and funny drawings can make even The Beast laugh….

(13) IDIOMATIC ACCESSION. I need one of these. Don’t I? Archie McPhee’s “Murder of Crows”.

(14) SQUEEZING OUT THE WATER. James Davis Nicoll tells Tor.com readers about “Five Wonderfully Concise SFF Books”.

Olden-time SF authors, limited as they were to pen and paper, typewriters, and other now archaic methods of production, and trying to sell to markets uninterested in purchasing lengthy works, often delivered works that seem startlingly concise and to the point by modern standards. There’s nothing like not having a choice to urge people to make the right choices.

However, even in this age of word processing software and publisher enthusiasm for meandering series of enormous story-fragments, there are authors who deliver short, effective books that contain within them all of the necessary narrative elements. They even include that most elusive ingredient—an actual ending. Consider these five comparatively recent examples of books that are wonderfully short and to the point….

(15) THAT OTHER JAMES. ScienceAlert says “Webb Just Sent Back Its First-Ever Sharp Image of a Star, And It’s Breathtaking”.

…To demonstrate its capabilities, Webb focused on a single star, named 2MASS J17554042+6551277, more commonly known as TYC 4212-1079-1.

This bright object, around 2,000 light-years away, is just over 16 times intrinsically brighter than the Sun – a nice, clear target for Webb. A red filter was used to optimize visual contrast; and, although the telescope was just looking at the star, its instruments are so sensitive that background stars and galaxies can also be seen.

“We have fully aligned and focused the telescope on a star, and the performance is beating specifications. We are excited about what this means for science,” said Ritva Keski-Kuha, deputy optical telescope element manager for Webb at NASA Goddard….

(16) PARADOX RESOLVED. “Scientists claim hairy black holes explain Hawking paradox” reports BBC News. I have nothing to say about that headline at all.

Scientists say they have solved one of the biggest paradoxes in science first identified by Prof Stephen Hawking.

He highlighted that black holes behave in a way that puts two fundamental theories at odds with each other.

Black holes are dead stars that have collapsed and have such strong gravity that not even light can escape.

New research claims to have resolved the paradox by showing that black holes have a property which they call “quantum hair”….

(17) ONCE MORE INTO THE BREACH, DEAR FRIENDS. “’Muppets Mayhem’ Series a Go at Disney+”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Disney+ is taking another swing at a Muppets TV series.

The streamer, following a lengthy development process, has handed out a series order to comedy The Muppets Mayhem, with Lilly Singh set to star.

The comedy will follow the Electric Mayhem Band as it records its first-ever album. Singh will star as the human lead, Nora, the junior A&R executive who is tasked with managing and wrangling the band that originally debuted in the pilot for The Muppet Show in 1975. (Watch the band’s debut below.) Sources say the 10-episode comedy will begin filming in April.

The series — which will feature Dr. Teeth, Animal, Floyd Pepper, Janice, Zoot and Lips — is described as a music-filled journey in which the 45-year-old band comes face to face with the current-day music scene as they attempt to go platinum….

(18) ALIEN SCHOOL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Or, how to be a Thermian in six “easy“ lessons. 

Digg.com has, um, dug up a short docu-feature on how the Thermans came to be so wonderfully quirky in Galaxy Quest. It’s a Class A lesson in the collaborative nature of filmmaking – where the screenwriter, director, actors, and everyone else contribute to what is eventually seen on the screen.

The singsongy, pitchy, sound of the aliens was originated by character actor Enrico Colantoni, who absolutely nailed his audition for the Thermian leader when he broke out that voice. Then they had to develop the walk, their native speech when the translator box breaks, and mannerisms for all sorts of situations. And the whole alien ensemble had to nail all of it. 

Just watch the video. You’ll love it. 

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

Pixel Scroll 3/17/22 If You Can’t Handle Me At My Pixel, You Don’t Deserve Me At My Scroll

(1) PLEASE, MAY I HAVE SOME MORE? “Editorial Resignations At Big Houses Spark Reckoning” reports Publishers Lunch. Of the four departed editors, one worked for Tor and two for Orbit.

Multiple resignations from the editorial departments at two big houses caused an online reckoning on Friday. Four editors, Angeline Rodriguez and Hillary Sames at Orbit, Erin Siu at Macmillan Children’s, and Molly McGhee at Tor all announced their resignations, leading to a discussion about the workload of junior and mid-level employees and the difficulty of advancement across the industry. The online exchange brought into the open the frustrations of increased workload, burnout and turnover that have been brewing as the pandemic continues. Those feelings are intensified as big publishers report record sales and earnings, even as multiple people report on Twitter they believe their employers are not sufficiently reinvesting those proceeds in additional staff, systems and raises.

At the heart of the discussion was McGhee’s resignation letter which she posted on Twitter….

McGhee’s interview with the New York Times ran under the headline “When Will Publishing Stop Starving Its Young?”

… On March 11, McGhee joined a group of junior and midlevel employees who exited the publishing industry, blaming low pay, unrealistic workloads and burnout. For context: It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to live in or near New York City (epicenter of bookmaking) on an entry-level publishing salary. Add school loans, subtract a second job or additional subsidy and you risk being factored out of a career in letters before the ink on your college diploma has had a chance to dry.

“As some of you may have heard, today is my last day at Tor Books,” McGhee wrote in the resignation letter she shared on Twitter. “My promotion request was denied, and as such I am leaving as my first acquisition (the marvelous THE ATLAS SIX by Olivie Blake) debuts at number three on The New York Times Bestsellers List.” She goes on, “Making the NYT is a career high for an editor. It is rare for an assistant to do so and, by all accounts, this should be ‘a great beginning’ and not a heartbreaking end.”

McGhee also cites “the invisibility of the junior employee’s workload” as one of her reasons for leaving Tor. As Blake writes in her novel, “We are the gods of our own universes, aren’t we?” Indeed we are. But gods cannot live on ramen alone….

The text of McGhee’s March 11 message follows:

(2) ESA AND ROSCOSMOS BREAKUP. The European Space Agency has suspended the ExoMars rover after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The ESA ruling council “acknowledged the present impossibility of carrying out the ongoing cooperation with Roscosmos on the ExoMars rover mission with a launch in 2022” – “ESA – ExoMars suspended”.

As an intergovernmental organisation mandated to develop and implement space programmes in full respect with European values, we deeply deplore the human casualties and tragic consequences of the aggression towards Ukraine. While recognising the impact on scientific exploration of space, ESA is fully aligned with the sanctions imposed on Russia by its Member States.

ExoMars

ESA’s ruling Council, meeting in Paris on 16-17 March, assessed the situation arising from the war in Ukraine regarding ExoMars, and unanimously:

  • acknowledged the present impossibility of carrying out the ongoing cooperation with Roscosmos on the ExoMars rover mission with a launch in 2022, and mandated the ESA Director General to take appropriate steps to suspend the cooperation activities accordingly;
  • authorised the ESA Director General to carry out a fast-track industrial study to better define the available options for a way forward to implement the ExoMars rover mission.

Space Transportation

Following the decision by Roscosmos to withdraw their personnel from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, all missions scheduled for launch by Soyuz have been put on hold. These concern essentially four institutional missions for which ESA is the launch service procurement entity (Galileo M10, Galileo M11, Euclid and EarthCare) and one additional institutional launch.

Consequently, the ESA Director General has initiated an assessment on potential alternative launch services for these missions, which will include  a review of the Ariane 6 first exploitation flights.  A robust launch manifest for ESA missions’ launch needs, including for spacecraft originally planned for launch by Soyuz from Kourou, will be submitted to Member States.   

Likewise, “Russia’s War in Ukraine Threatens Joint Missions to Mars, Venus and the Moon” reports Scientific American.

… The strife is impacting otherworldly missions as well: Consider Russia’s nascent Venera-D mission, a proposed orbiter and lander meant to blast off for Venus in 2029. The U.S. had been considering allowing NASA to collaborate on Venera-D, perhaps by contributing scientific instruments. But, citing retaliatory sanctions, Russia’s space leadership deemed continued U.S. participation in the project “inappropriate.”…

(3) RUNAWAY SUCCESS. Brandon Sanderson’s record-breaking Kickstarter, “Surprise! Four Secret Novels by Brandon Sanderson by Dragonsteel Entertainment”, had raised $29,710,529 when I checked today. With 14 days remaining it will obviously break $30 million and then some.

(4) MS. PRESIDENT. “Stacey Abrams makes surprise appearance on Star Trek as president of Earth”Yahoo! has the story.

Stacey Abrams just boldly went where no Georgia gubernatorial candidate has gone before.

Abrams, the Georgia politician who’s running for governor of the state this year, had a surprise cameo in the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery, appearing as the president of United Earth.

A scene at the end of the season four finale, “Coming Home,” introduces the United Earth president, and Abrams gets several lines, announcing that “United Earth is ready right now to rejoin the Federation, and nothing could make me happier than to say those words.” She also has a discussion with Discovery‘s main character, Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), about Earth rejoining the Federation, and this scene closes the episode….

(5) MOFFAT’S NEXT SHOW. “The Time Traveler’s Wife shares trailer for new Steven Moffat series”Radio Times sets the frame.

Sky has released the official teaser trailer for Steven Moffat’s adaptation of The Time Traveler’s Wife, which will air on Sky Atlantic and NOW in May.

… The six-episode series is the second major adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger’s popular novel of the same name, following the 2009 film starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana, once again telling the story of a marriage that threatens to be torn apart by time travel. Alongside Leslie and James, the cast also includes Desmin Borges, Natasha Lopez, Kate Seigel and Michael Park.

Of course, it’s not Moffat’s first time dealing with time travel – following his hugely successful stint as Doctor Who showrunner between 2009 and 2017 – but he’s been on record to explain that the two shows share little in common beyond that superficial similarity.

(6) I’VE SEEN THAT FACE BEFORE. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Well, this will certainly be out of the price range of us mere mortals… Virgil Finlay’s “Portrait of Robert A. Heinlein” will be up for auction on April 15. “This lot is accompanied by a letter signed by the artist and dated August 5, 1953.”

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2006 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Doctor Who ended back in 1989 when the Seventh Doctor as played by Sylvester McCoy had his final story, “Survival.” No indication was given beforehand that the show was being cancelled. 

A year after the BBC revived by the show in the UK, Doctor Who returned in the U.S. “Rose” was broadcast in the States on March 17, an episode named for the Billie Piper character who was the first modern companion. Christopher Eccleston played the Ninth Doctor.  Briefly. Note that there is no regeneration scene here. Of course as we know there were other Doctors between the Seventh Doctor and this Doctor. Indeed the numbering is suspect, isn’t it? 

So how was the reception for this new Who? The New York Times liked it: “In most previous versions of the show, so little was going on between the Doctor and his female companions that fans took to making up sex scenes on the Internet, much the way ‘X-Files’ buffs tried to fantasize a little action between Scully and Mulder. But between the Doctor and Rose there is genuine, old-fashioned chemistry, and their interaction, which occasionally takes on the aspect of screwball comedy, is much the best thing in the show.” 

And Radio Times succinctly put it, “Think big. Think bold. Think fantastic! For the very first time, Doctor Who achieves a perfect blend of big screen and small screen.”

Season One over at Rotten Tomatoes holds a near perfect ninety-six percent rating among audience reviewers. 

The entire new series is streaming on HBO Max. The older series is on a number of streaming services of a British nature.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 17, 1846 Kate Greenaway. Victorian artist and writer, largely known today for her children’s book illustrations. So popular was she and her work that the very popular Kate Greenaway Almanacks appeared every year from 1883 to 1895. Among her best-known works was her edition of Robert Browning’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin, Rosa Mulholland’s Puck and Blossom and Bret Harte’s Pirate Isle. (Died 1901.)
  • Born March 17, 1906 Brigitte Helm. German actress, Metropolis. Her first role as an actress, she played Maria and her double, the Maschinenmensch, plus several uncredited roles as well.  She’s got some other genre credits including L’Atlantide (The Mistress of Atlantis) and Alraune (Unholy Love). Her later films would be strictly in keeping with the policies of the Nazis with all films being fiercely anti-capitalist and antisemitic. (Died 1996.)
  • Born March 17, 1945 Tanya Lemani, 77. Iranian-born actress who is one of the victims of Star Trek’s “Wolf in the Fold” as the dancer Kara. She has appeared on the original Fantasy IslandGet Smart, I Dream of Jeannie, The Bionic Woman, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in one-offs.
  • Born March 17, 1933 Penelope Lively, 89. I’ve actually mentioned her before as Catherine Butler did a work in part on her, Four British fantasists: place and culture in the children’s fantasies of Penelope Lively, Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones, and Susan Cooper. She’s here because I’m very fond of one of her novels, The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy, having a great liking for fiction about that story. She’s won the Booker Prize for Moon Tiger and the Carnegie Medal for British children’s books for The Ghost of Thomas Kempe.
  • Born March 17, 1941 Paul Kantner. A founder of Jefferson Airplane which would become Jefferson Starship. The Dragonfly album, particularly “All Fly Away” and “Hyperdrive” is very genre as well as much of the Jefferson Airship output is genre. “Hyperdrive” would be used in the opening ceremonies at MidAmeriCon (1976). (Died 2016.)
  • Born March 17, 1947 James Morrow, 75. Author of the most awesome Godhead trio whose first novel, Towing Jehovah, won a Nebula and a World Fantasy Award and was nominated for a Hugo at Intersection. I’m also impressed by The Last Witchfinder as it’s told by a sentient book, Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica
  • Born March 17, 1948 William Gibson, 74. I’ve read the Sprawl trilogy more times than I can remember and likewise the Bridge trilogy and The Difference Engine. He won a Hugo at Aussiecon Two for Neuromancer, his only such win, though he had other nominations including for the other two novels in the Sprawl trilogy.
  • Born March 17, 1951 Kurt Russell, 71. I know I saw Escape from New York on a rainy summer night in a now century-old Art Deco theatre which wasn’t the one I later saw Blade Runner in. I think it’s much better than Escape from L.A. was. Of course there’s Big Trouble in Little China, my favorite film with him in it. And let’s not forget Tombstone. Not genre, you say. Maybe not, but it’s damn good and he’s fantastic in it.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) YOU BE THE JUDGE. All Squaxx dek Thargo may want to know there’s going to be a “Star-studded online convention to celebrate 45 years of 2000 AD”. It’s free and happening on March 26-27.

Featuring celebrity fans and legendary creators, The Galaxy’s Greatest will stream online and for free on 26 and 27 March on 2000 AD’s social media channels and YouTube, and Rebellion’s dedicated Twitch stream.

The two-day show will feature top flight guests on more than a dozen panels, all discussing the impact of 2000 AD on comics and culture over almost half a century, as well as announcements and new merchandise.

… The event will throw a spotlight on the people who have helped make 2000 AD the galaxy’s greatest comic, with creators both new and legendary sharing their stories and insights on the comics-making process — including a feature interview with the co-creator of Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog, John Wagner, as well as panels with Garth Ennis (The BoysPreacher), Rob Williams (Suicide Squad), Alex de Campi (Archie vs Predator), Sean Phillips (Criminal), Anna Morozova (Judge Anderson), John McCrea (Hitman), Dan Cornwell (Rok of the Reds), Aleš Kot (Zero), and more to be announced.

The next 45 years of 2000 AD will also be discussed with owners and publishers Chris Kingsley OBE and Jason Kingsley OBE, and current editor Matt Smith – now the longest serving editor in 2000 AD history….

(11) SQUELCH THAT RUMOR. Radio Times eavesdrops while “Catherine Tate addresses Doctor Who return rumours”.

…The Donna Noble star has been heavily linked with a return to the sci-fi show in recent months, with rumours that she might rejoin the cast for the upcoming 60th anniversary special.

And she addressed those rumours during an appearance on The One Show to promote her new film The Nan Movie, telling Jermaine Jenas that she “probably started a lot of them” herself.

“What can I tell you? No, I wish it was [true],” she said. “Well, no one’s been in touch.”

But she added: “I’m on the same number, I’d just like to say. So, if you’ve got the money, I’ve got the time.”

(12) OCTOTHORPE.  John Coxon has COVID, Alison Scott wanted to do a podcast, and Liz Batty had no better offers. So it’s a short episode of the hosts answering Cora Buhlert’s questions. Listen to Octothorpe 53  here: “It Was John’s Idea”.

(13) BREAKFAST IS SERVED ON ARRAKIS. The New York Times was initiated into “The Secret Sounds of ‘Dune’: Rice Krispies and Marianne Faithfull”.

…We were at Zuma Beach on the kind of warm March afternoon that New York readers would surely prefer I not dwell on, and Villeneuve’s Oscar-nominated sound editors Mark Mangini and Theo Green were nearby, pouring cereal into the sand. This wasn’t meant to provoke any sea gulls; Mangini and Green wanted to demonstrate the sound-gathering techniques they used to enliven Arrakis, the desert planet where the “Dune” hero Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) discovers his destiny.

 “One of the most compelling images in the film is when Paul first steps foot onto the planet,” Mangini said. Since the sand on Arrakis is laced with “spice,” a valuable and hallucinogenic substance, the sound designers had to find an audible way to convey that something special was underfoot.

By way of explaining it to me, Mangini ground his work boot into the soft patch of sand that he had dusted with Rice Krispies. The sand produced a subtle, beguiling crunch, and Villeneuve broke out into a big smile. Though he’d heard it plenty of times in postproduction, he had no idea what the sound designers had concocted to capture that sound.

“One of the things I love about cinema is the cross between NASA kind of technology and gaffer tape,” Villeneuve said. “To use a super-expensive mic to record Rice Krispies — that deeply moves me!”…

(14) FLY LIKE AN EAGLE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future… At least that’s what the Steve Miller Band assured me in their 1976 hit Fly Like an Eagle. Perhaps they assured Elon Musk the same thing (though he’d only have been 5 at the time).

In 2016, Musk told us that humanity would land on Mars by 2024. In late 2020, he revised the landing date to 2026. Now he’s telling us 2029. This is hardly the first time that Musk has been forced to change projections for one of his ventures. Nor is it the first time a targeted date for anyone’s space launch has slipped.

To me, 2029 still seems ambitious given where we are. But, if Musk (or someone else) does manage to hit that date, it’ll be 60 years after the Eagle landed on the Moon. Assuming I live that long (and am still compos mentis), it’d be extraordinary to witness both landings in one lifetime. “Elon Musk Has New Estimate for When Humans Might First Step on Mars” at CNET.

… Starship, which SpaceX is designing to take astronauts to the moon for NASA and eventually to Mars, has made some successful high-altitude flights, but has yet to make it to space.

Musk has made noise over the past two years about federal launch regulations slowing the process of reaching Mars and recently even floated the specter of bankruptcy if SpaceX isn’t able to produce Starship’s raptor engines more rapidly.

Unsurprisingly, getting to Mars takes planning. As Mars and Earth move around the sun, the two planets move closer to one another and then farther away again. To take advantage of the times when the trip between the two worlds is shortest requires launching during certain windows. The ideal Mars launch windows for this decade are later this year, late 2024, late 2026 and late 2028/early 2029. 

It’s looking as though Musk’s initial ambitions may have been overly optimistic. If his target date slips much further, into the 2030s, it will be more in the ballpark of when NASA has always been aiming in terms of sending the first astronauts to Mars…. 

(15) BEHIND THE LINES. Enjoy Greener Grass a Star Wars short film made with Unreal Engine 5.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Pitch Meeting” Ryan George says in the third Harry Potter movie, Voldemort isn’t around but Dumbledore still gets to give his annual address on the many ways Hogwarts students can die.  And when asked why Hogwarts could produce a book of monsters that is an actual monster, the writer answers, “It’s clear wizards don’t have any consumer protection laws.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Rich Horton, Gary Farber, Olav Rokne, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]

2022 BAFTA Awards

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts presented the 2022 BAFTA Awards on March 13 at the Royal Albert Hall.

Genre filmmaking was well-represented by Dune, which took Original Score, Cinematography, Production Design, Sound, and Special Visual Effects. (Any component that didn’t involve acting or writing, they loved it!)

Encanto was named Best Animated Film.

The full list of winners follows the jump.

Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 2/7/22 Head Like A Scroll, Pixeled Like Your Soul

(1) SFWA VOTING ON NEW MEMBERSHIP QUALIFICATIONS. At The World Remains Mysterious, Cat Rambo encourages SFWAns to support these “Possible Upcoming Changes to SFWA Membership”. SFWA members have until February 15 to cast their votes.

…An interesting development for SFWA that seems to have been flying under most people’s radar is that the organization’s members will be voting on whether or not to change the membership requirements in a way that the organization has not previously done. This may be one of the biggest changes made to the membership yet in the organization’s 50+ years of history.

The new qualifications: a writer can join as an Associate member once they have earned $100 over the course of their career, and as a Full member at the $1000 level.

That’s a huge and very significant change from the current, somewhat arcane membership requirements of $1000 over the course of a year on a single work to become a Full member. Particularly when you think that one of the most contentious propositions on the discussion boards in the past has been the idea of re-qualification, of making people prove they qualify on a yearly basis. Moving away from a system so complicated SFWA had to create a webform to walk people through whether or not they qualified to something like this is a big win in so many ways.

Cat follows up with six reasons SFWAns should vote for the change.

Meanwhile, she notes that the SFWA Board has already implemented another tool which did not require a membership vote:

One other change from the board meeting answers the question of how this affects the idea of “SFWA qualifying markets,” which has in the past been used as a way to make sure fiction markets increased their rates every once in a while. We’re going to see a fiction matrix that looks at a number of factors, including pay, but also response time, quality of contract, etc. It’s very nice to see this long overdue project finally manifest, and I bear as much guilt as anyone in the long overdue part, since I was around when it was first proposed and should have kicked it along significantly harder than I did. I’m very happy to see this and ten thousand kudos to the people who made it happen.

An email sent to SFWA members in January (which I did not receive from Cat) explains the new matrix:

Short Fiction Matrix: The Short Fiction Committee has developed a plan to replace the current Market Qualifying list with a Short Fiction Matrix that will better evaluate the professionalism of short fiction markets and model best practices. This is not contingent on the bylaws vote; the Board has already approved this plan to respond to changes needed to the membership criteria to admit newly voted-in categories of SFWA members. As a result, the current Market Qualifying list is less useful to prospective members, many of whom are deterred from applying by mistakenly assuming that only works sold to markets on the Market Qualifying list make them eligible to apply.  

The move to a matrix will better fulfill SFWA’s mission to promote and educate on writer-friendly practices in our industry. It will also aim to correct misperceptions that SFWA’s minimum professional rate is the only benchmark that a publisher must meet to be considered professional. SFWA will continue to fight for fair and equitable conditions across SF/F and related-genre markets via a minimum professional per-word rate, but additional metrics will give us more tools to use to achieve that goal. We are not abandoning the minimum professional rate at all, but reinforcing it with this matrix. SFWA recognizes the importance that this rate has served in the industry and plans to preserve that outside of the membership qualification criteria. 

The rate is meant to encourage better pay for creators, not limit their chances to participate in their professional organizations.

Ten categories have been proposed to comprise the matrix, including wordcount payment rate, payment procedures, good contract practices, audio and translation rights, and promotional efforts, among others. Precisely how each category is evaluated and the points assigned are still in discussion…. 

(2) THEY ASKED. Marlon James did an Ask Me Anything session for Reddit’s r/Books community today: “I’m Marlon James, author of A Brief History of Seven Killings, Black Leopard, Red Wolf, and the forthcoming MOON WITCH, SPIDER KING!”

Marlon James

LElias2784: Hi Marlon! So excited that you’re doing this! Can you tell us how you developed the maps that are printed in the books?

MJ: The great thing about writing say, New York is that the city is there. Make up a place and you need a world for the characters to move around. I have to bear in my two things, which might seem at odds. 1. The world is new to the reader, so a lot of world building needs to happen, but 2. it’s not new to the characters and they can’t move through it like a tourist, which means I can’t move around like a tourist. So I sketch a rudimentary map before I even write a word. And it helps to define the place. But as the book gets deeper, the maps gets more detailed, until I reach the point where the book is following the map, not the other way around. This creates challenges, for example, by adding up the distance travelled by a character you might realize that they weren’t gone a week, but a year. Or instead of reaching a new destination, they merely circled back to the old. Which means constant modifications. OR you get to the point where the map IS the standard and the prose is what has to change. I appreciate that part actually, because I can say nope, can’t write that because that’s not in the map….

(3) NEW INTERVIEW SERIES LAUNCHES. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] I have decided to interview authors/editors of SFF-related non-fiction books in a probably futile attempt to restore Best Related Work from “Best response to whatever annoyed us at last year’s Worldcon.” Here’s the introductory post: “Introducing Non-Fiction Spotlights”.

… So I want to shine a spotlight on works of long form non-fiction that came out in 2021. The main focus of this series will be on non-fiction books, whether academic or popular, though I will also feature the occasional documentary or blog series. And indeed the first installment of this series will feature a non-fiction book which started out as a series of blogposts. I am not looking for essays, articles, poems, Twitter threads, virtual cons, podcasts, archives, databases, recommendation lists and similar projects at the moment, no matter how worthy….

And here is the first interview: “Non-Fiction Spotlight: The Complete Debarkle: Saga of a Culture War by Camestros Felapton”. Cam was kind enough to act as my guinea pig, so I can hopefully persuade more authors/editors of SFF-related non-fiction to take part.

What prompted you to write your book?

I’d been thinking of a project like this for some time but the January 6, 2021 riots at the US Capitol was a specific impetus. I wanted to talk about how a section of the US population had become entranced by ideas that seemed so sharply at odds with reality. The overlap between the thinking of some of the key figures in the Sad/Rabid Puppy campaigns and issues such as Covid-denial and election-fraud conspiracy theories was substantial. One key personality from that time had become a major promoter of Qanon, another had been an early proponent of anti-covid-lockdown protests and yet another had been an active proponent of election-fraud conspiracy theories. I really wanted to trace the journey that people went through and how the earlier (fairly minor) conflict foreshadowed later events.

(4) LEDE GENERATOR. Rodolfo Ocampo extended an invitation to the internet: “As part of my PhD, I’m researching human-AI creative interaction. I created a little tool where you can write two themes and see the beginning of a story come alive.” You can try it here: Narrative Device.

I was asked to enter two themes. I gave the AI “hamburger” and “moon.” Here’s what I got back:

The moon was full and shining brightly in the sky. The stars were out, and it was a beautiful night. A family of four was out eating a hamburger at a local burger joint. They were all enjoying their meal, when the father said, “I love hamburgers. They’re such a classic.” His children agreed, and the mother said, “I love moon pies. They’re so yummy.”

(5) SUPER BOWL RINGS. Usually a few Super Bowl commercials have genre elements. This year one will be about a major genre production: “Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ TV Show Trailer to Air During Super Bowl” on February 13.

… The official first look video of the most expensive TV series ever made (the first season costs at least $465 million) will debut during Super Bowl LVI.

The announcement comes on the heels of Amazon releasing tease-y character posters showing merely the torsos and hands of its cast.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power follows the forging of the original rings of power that allowed the Dark Lord Sauron to spread darkness across Middle-earth….

(6) DEEP DIVE INTO HOBAN. Evelyn C. Leeper invites Russell Hoban fans to enjoy her webpage of “Russell Hoban Reviews”. “Hoban’s style is (to me) quintessential magic realism, and incredibly poetic, and I wish his adult books were not so hard to find.”

(7) IAN KENNEDY (1932-2022). Comics artist Ian Kennedy died this month – 2000 AD has a profile: “Ian Kennedy 1932-2022”.

…It is no hyperbole to describe Kennedy as a legend of British comics. With a career spanning more than seven decades, his meticulously detailed but dynamic work graced dozens of titles, from Hotspur to Bunty, from Commando to 2000 AD.

… As tastes changed, so did the audience for his work. His style adapted perfectly to the new generation of science-fiction comics like 2000 AD, for which he worked for on strips such as ‘Invasion’, ‘Judge Dredd’ and ‘M.A.C.H.1’, as well as on ‘Ro-Busters’ for stablemate Star Lord. One of his most covers featured the perfect intersection of his changing career – Messerschmitt 109s from World War Two transported to the skies over Judge Dredd’s Mega-City One, with one pilot screaming “Himmel! This isn’t Stalingrad!”.

His richly coloured art, with his particular skill for sleek, dynamic and functional machines and spacecraft, was perfect for the relaunch of ‘Dan Dare’ in Eagle in the 1980s as well as Blake’s 7M.A.S.K., the short-lived IPC title Wildcat….

(8) ANGÉLICA GORODISCHER (1928-2022). [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Argentinian author of SFF and many other things Angélica Gorodischer has died at the age of 93. For some reason, there have been almost no obituaries in the English language world, not even from places like The Guardian, where you might expect to find them. Locus had a brief item and here is a longer tribute from an obscure news site: “Angélica Gorodischer, the woman who imagined universes” at Then 24.

…She knew from a very young age that she would dedicate herself to writing. Perhaps she did not imagine that she, as a declared feminist writer since the 1980s, would leave a singular mark on literature written in the Spanish language. The true homeland of Angélica Gorodischer, who died at her home in Rosario at the age of 93, was books: the books she read and those she wrote, among which Trafalgar (1979) and the stories of Kalpa Imperial (1983) stand out. The latter was translated into English by none other than Ursula K. Le Guin, the greatest figure in Anglo-Saxon science fiction.

Gorodischer’s best novel, Prodigies, is not sff but was translated into English by Sue Burke, another noted sff author.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2002 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Twenty years ago at  ConJosé where Tom Whitmore and Kevin Standlee were the Chairs and Vernor Vinge was the author guest,  David Cherry the artist guest, Bjo & John Trimble fan guests and Ferdinand Feghoot was the imaginary guest (ok, would someone explain that choice please), Neil Gaiman wins the Best Novel Hugo for the best excellent American Gods

Five novels made the final nomination list: Lois McMaster Bujold’s The Curse of Chalion, Connie Willis’ Passage, China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station, Robert Charles Wilson‘s The Chronoliths and Ken MacLeod’s Cosmonaut Keep.

It would also win the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel and be nominated for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature, a BFA for the August Derleth Fantasy Award for Best Novel and the World Fantasy for Best Novel.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 7, 1908 Larry “Buster” Crabbe. He played the lead roles in the Tarzan the Fearless, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers series in the Thirties, the only person to do all three, though other actors played some of those roles.  He would show up in the Seventies series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as a retired fighter pilot named Brigadier Gordon. (Died 1983.)
  • Born February 7, 1941 Kevin Crossley-Holland, 81. Best known for his Arthur trilogy consisting of The Seeing StoneAt the Crossing-Places, and King of the Middle March. I really liked their perspective of showing a medieval boy’s development from a page to a squire and finally to a knight. Highly recommended. 
  • Born February 7, 1949 Alan Grant, 73. He’s best known for writing Judge Dredd in 2000 AD as well as various Batman titles from the late 1980s to the early 2000s.  If you can find it, there’s a great Batman / Judge Dredd crossover “Judgement on Gotham” that he worked on. His recent work has largely been for small independents including his own company. 
  • Born February 7, 1950 Karen Joy Fowler, 72. Michael Toman in a letter to our OGH asked we note her Birthday as she has a “A Good Word for one of his favorite writers” and so do I. Her first work was “Recalling Cinderella” in L Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Vol I. Her later genre works are Sarah Canary, the Black Glass collection, a World Fantasy Award winner, and The Jane Austen Book Club novel, is not SF though SF plays a intrinsic role in it, and two short works of hers, “Always” and “The Pelican Bar” won significant Awards. Her latest genre novel, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, is being adored far and wide. She won a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. 
  • Born February 7, 1952 Gareth Hunt. Mike Gambit in The New Avengers, the two season revival of The Avengers that also starred Joanna Lumley as Purdey  and Patrick Macnee as John Steed. Quite excellent series. He was also Arak in the Third Doctor story, “Planet of The Spiders”. (Died 2007.)
  • Born February 7, 1955 Miguel Ferrer. You likely best remember him as OCP VP Bob Morton in  RoboCop who came to a most grisly death. Other notable genre roles include playing FBI Agent Albert Rosenfield on Twin Peaks and USS Excelsior helm officer in The Search for Spock. In a very scary role, he was Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning in Brave New World.  Lastly I’d like to note that he did voice work in the DC Universe at the end of his life, voicing Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz) in Justice League: The New Frontier and Deathstroke (Slade Joseph Wilson) in Teen Titans: The Judas Contract. (Died 2017.)
  • Born February 7, 1960 James Spader, 62. Most recently he did the voice and motion-capture for Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Before that, he played Stewart Swinton in Wolf, a Jack Nicholson endeavor. Then of course he was Daniel Jackson in Stargate, a film I still enjoy though I think the series did get it better. He also plays Nick Vanzant in Supernova and Julian Rome in Alien Hunter.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

From Bestie:

(12) FCBD 2022. Titan Comics unveiled artist Piotr Kowalski’s cover for their  Bloodborne Free Comic Book Day edition, which will be given out at participating comic shops on May 7.

Enter the city of Yharnam through the eyes of its citizens, when new hunters take to the streets to fight against the cruel and unusual epidemic that has gripped the city. In the black of night, families and faith will be tested… Based on the critically-acclaimed Bloodbourne video game!

(13) GREAT EXPECTATIONS. Open Culture reviews some century-old predictions: “In 1922, a Novelist Predicts What the World Will Look Like in 2022: Wireless Telephones, 8-Hour Flights to Europe & More”.

…In the Paris-born-and-raised George’s ancestral homeland, George Orwell described him as an author of what G.K. Chesterton called “good bad books,” singling out for praise his 1920 novel Caliban amid the “shoddy rubbish” of his wider oeuvre.

Still even authors of rubbish — and perhaps especially authors of rubbish — can sense the shape of things to come. For its edition of May 7, 1922, the New York Herald commissioned George to share that sense with their readers. In response he described a world in which “commercial flying will have become entirely commonplace,” reducing the separation of America and Europe to eight hours, and whose passenger steamers and railroads will have consequently fallen into obsolescence. “Wireless telegraphy and wireless telephones will have crushed the cable system,” resulting in generations who’ll never have seen “a wire outlined against the sky.”

That goes for the transmission of electricity as well, since George credits (a bit hastily, it seems) the possibility of wireless power systems of the kind researched by Nikola Tesla. In 2022, coal will take a distant backseat to the tides, the sun, and radium, and “it may also be that atomic energy will be harnessed.” As for the cinema, “the figures on the screen will not only move, but they will have their natural colors and speak with ordinary voices. Thus, the stage as we know it to-day may entirely disappear, which does not mean the doom of art, since the movie actress of 2022 will not only need to know how to smile but also how to talk.”…

(14) SOMETHING WAGNERIAN. The Rogues in the House podcast (which will be featured as a fancast spotlight soon) discusses Karl Edward Wagner’s Kane: “Some like it Rough – Karl Edward Wagner and Kane”.

The Rogues are joined by Whetstone Magazine editor Chuck Clark as they journey into the depths of esoteric time on a quest for a deeper understanding of the Sword & Sorcery mainstay, Kane the Mystic Swordsman and his creator, Karl Edward Wagner. Is this mysterious, flame-haired immortal a friend? Perhaps a foe? And what’s this about World Domination? Hang on to your fur-diapers and winged helms, it’s gon’ get rough!

(15) THEY DIDN’T START THE FIRE. Oliver Brackenbury interviews Jason Ray Carney, editor of Whetstone Magazine, Witch House Magazine and The Dark Man Journal at So I’m Writing a Novel… — “Interview with Jason Ray Carney of Whetstone Magazine”.

Oliver and Jason get to some INTERESTING places in their far-reaching discussion, including subjects like: writing workshops, working class literature, modernist literature, R.A. Salvatore as a literary gateway drug, starting a literary magazine & the origin of Whetstone, why he feels you shouldn’t send your best work to Whetstone, “mid-list exposure”, submitting for ultra low acceptance rate magazines, elevated language, Clark Ashton Smith, grading English papers by engineers, Jason’s role as academic coordinator for the Robert E. Howard foundation, Walter Benjamin, how a genre rooted in our past like sword & sorcery can give people an inspiring vision of something new…

(16) BOBA BATHOS. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The Guardian interviews Jennifer Beals of Flashdance fame who’s currently in The Book of Boba Fett as well as a long time Star Wars fan: “’I’ve had letters from klansmen’: Jennifer Beals on Flashdance, The L Word and fighting to get diverse stories told”.

… Now, she has entered a franchise with a fractionally longer Hollywood pedigree than her own, as Garsa Fwip in The Book of Boba Fett, a spin-off of The Mandalorian – itself, of course, a spin-off of Star Wars. It takes a while to get your ear in to her natural register, which is playful, very literary and full of bathos. “It’s so exciting to be part of the lineage,” she says of Boba Fett. “It feels like a calling, like there’s some reason that the universe has decided that you’re going to enter into these stories.”…

(17) GENRE ON STAGE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times, behind a paywall, Sarah Hemming reviews  A Number, a 2002 play by Caryl Churchill that is playing at the Old Vic (oldvictheatre.com) through March 19 and is about a father and son.

The son has just discovered that he is one of ‘a number’–a set of identical humans cloned from an original.  Every shred of their relationship is being reconfigured in his mind.  More shocking still, he’s not even number one:  Somewhere out there is another, older him–a son five years his senior who grew up in care.  Before long, Bernard 1 is in the kitchen too, with his own set of questions…

…Its genius as drama is that it (the play) relies on the skill of the actors to scope out the minute shifts in body language that bring these questions (about the purpose of life)) alive.  In (Lyndsey) Tuirner’s deftly calibrated staging, (Paapa) Essiedu is mesmerising as multiple iterations of one person.  As Bernard 2, he pads about the living room, apparently at ease.  But his hands, either buried in the cuffs of his overlong sweater sleeves or nervously flexing and grasping the air, tell a story of deep-set insecurity.  As Bernard 1, the original, abandoned son, he is tighter, sharper, angrier.  But as he listens to his father explain why he gave him up, he becomes entirely still–we see a man sunk in deep, bewildered pain.  It’s a superbly detailed performance.”

Sarah Hemming also reviews Alistair McDowall’s play The Glow, which is playing at the Royal Court Theatre (royalcourttheatre.com) through March 5.  The play is about a Victorian spiritualist named Mrs Lyall.

Here Mrs Lyall’s instinct to cheat death and reach into eternity proves key as the play slips its moorings and roves across time, rolling form glimpses of pre-history and Arthurian legend to the 1970s and 1990s and even the heat death of the universe.

Our woman (Mrs Lyall)  is a constant throughout:  a time-travelling stranger or spirit, permanently in search of a home.  She becomes symbolic of humanity’s nagging sense of profound loneliness:  the root of legend, myth and religion,  McDowall has said of this play, ‘I want it to feel like there’s a vast, undulating network of stories that you only get a sliver of,’ and he works to give the audience the same bird’s eye view as the woman, stepping outside linear time, allowing patterns to emerge and overlap.

(18) SPACE FOR A MEMORY. An asteroid has been named after trans electronic/pop music icon SOPHIE reports Nylon: “SOPHIE Is Forever Memorialized As An Asteroid”.

A little over a year since the sudden passing of avant-garde pop star and producer SOPHIE, she’s officially part of the solar system as an asteroid memorialized in her honor.

Back in February 2021, SOPHIE fan Christian Arroyo began a petition to dedicate the planet TOI-1338 b in honor of the late pop star, noting that the pale lavender, cloudy atmosphere of the planet (discovered in the summer of 2019 by Wolf Cukier) looked similar to the ethereal album cover art of SOPHIE’s debut record Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides. “I am requesting that TOI-1338 b be named in honor of SOPHIE, in honor of a great LGBT+ influence,” wrote Arroyo. “I want her name to be remembered and her influence to continue to flourish for many years to come.”…

(19) YOU’VE BEEN WARNED. Be careful out there.

(20) ARRAKIS STREET. A.V. Club is there when “Elmo, young Muppet, overcomes Dune’s Gom Jabbar test”.

Fresh off the heels of his career-invigorating feud with a rock that wants to take his oatmeal raisin cookie, Elmo has returned to the spotlight yet again to prove that he’s a thinking, feeling organism who deserves to be treated with greater respect than both inanimate objects and the world’s animals.

Since there is no better way for him to prove such a thing than to look to an ordeal devised by Frank Herbert in the novel Dune, Elmo has now been made to prove himself through an edit of the 2021 film adaptation’s take on the Gom Jabbar test….

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

Pixel Scroll 2/1/22 Pixelled In The Scroll By A Chuck Tingle Pixel Scroll Title

(1) MAKING MAUS AVAILABLE. Shelf Awareness says one Tennessee bookseller is crowdfunding the means for local students to read Maus in the wake of a school board decision: “Tenn. Comic Shop’s Maus Fundraiser Garners $90K”.

After the McMinn County Board of Education in Tennessee voted to ban Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel Maus, about the Holocaust, from its eighth-grade curriculum last week, Nirvana Comics in Knoxville, Tenn., started a GoFundMe campaign to provide students with free copies of the graphic novel.

… The [Jewish Telegraphic Agency] reported that Penguin Random House negotiated a deal to sell 500 additional copies of Maus to Nirvana at a reduced price to give away to students. Actor Wil Wheaton shared Nirvana’s story on social media, and “that’s when it really, really exploded,” Davis said. 

The GoFundMe campaign opened on January 28 with a goal of $20,000; as of this morning it had raised more than $90,000, from more than 2,800 donors. Although Nirvana Comics initially had planned to provide copies to local students, they will now donate copies to students anywhere in the U.S.

Students can request a copy of Maus from the store on Facebook or Instagram.

(2) AFROFUTURISM IN LEGO. CNN Style invites you to “Meet the Ghanaian Canadian Lego sculptor building a Black universe”. (The Official LEGO Shop also has a feature on the same artist in “Celebrate Black Creators”.)

…In his “Building Black: Civilizations” series, Nimako reimagines medieval sub-Saharan African narratives. His “Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE” piece, which is made up of around 100,000 Lego bricks and can be found in the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, is named after the capital city of a medieval Ghanaian kingdom. The artist explores medieval West Africa and reimagines what it would look like 1,000 years in the future.

Nimako hopes for an “inclusive future” that acknowledges the history of anti-Black racism and how “utterly disruptive” it is, and recognizes the role of Afrofuturism in allowing people to “envision a better world.”

“My wife always says, ‘all movements of resistance are rooted in that imagination.’ You have to imagine the freedom, the emancipation. You have to imagine this struggle being over. You have to project that in order to rise up, in order to resist. What else are you resisting for, if not for that Promised Land?” he said. “Even art is a form of resistance and it’s been used as a form of resistance for a very long time.”…

(3) BEST PUNISH THE WORLDCON HUGO. What do you think about “An Anti-Raytheon Protest Vote at This Year’s Hugos?” Doris V. Sutherland is working to make it happen.

…Before I should go on, I should mention that the practice of nominating short, emotive pieces like acceptance speeches or angry blog posts in Best Related Work — thereby taking spots that could have gone to longer works which took time, effort and research to construct and will better stand the test of time — is itself controversial. My views are conflicted. I would generally agree with this stance (my personal solution would be to split Best Related Work into long-form and short-form categories) but I have considerably stronger feelings about the deal with Raytheon. So, while I would like to see this Best Protest Vote practice to end, I don’t beleive that 2022 is the right year for it to end. I would like to see a Hugo ballot this year that includes an uncompromising renunciation of last year’s Raytheon sponsorship….

(4) LASFS HISTORY ZOOM. Fanac.org’s “Spring History Zoom” schedule is now up here. The first session is “Death Does Not Release You – LASFS Through the Years” with Craig Miller (M), Tim Kirk, Ken Rudolph and Bobbi Armbruster, on February 26, 2022, at 4:00 p.m. To RSVP, or find out more about the series, please send a note to fanac@fanac.org.

LASFS is unique – in its history and impact on fandom. LASFS has a clubhouse, a long list of professional writers that have been members, and has had an incredibly active fan group over the decades. Los Angeles area fandom has produced innumerable fanzines, six Los Angeles Worldcons (and many other conventions). Join us for a session with our real world AND fannishly accomplished participants – convention runners (including a Worldcon chair), a noted fan and professional artist, and a fanzine editor, all past or present LASFS members – in conversation about Los Angeles fandom from the inside.

(5) A READY PLAYER. On Twitter, Ira Alexandre is ramping up the campaign to get the Worldcon to add a Best Video Game category. They foreshadow “a full-length, more detailed explanation” forthcoming on Lady Business. Thread starts here.

(6) PIECES OF EIGHT. Cora Buhlert posted a new Fancast Spotlight today, this time for Octothorpe, which is created by John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty: “Fancast Spotlight: Octothorpe”

Alison: I have been wanting to do a podcast ever since the very beginning of podcasts, but it turns out that if you want to do a podcast, you have to find someone who’s daft enough to do the editing for you. Because otherwise podcasts don’t happen, do they? So if you want to run your own podcast the core thing you need is somebody who’s up for doing the editing.

Liz: I didn’t have any desire to be on a podcast, or to start a podcast, or really to do any work around a podcast. But John had asked me “Do you want to do a podcast?” and I said, “Maybe?” And then there was a coronavirus, and now I literally have nothing else that I need to be doing on a Sunday afternoon, so let’s do a podcast! And I am just constantly amazed that we have made it almost 50 episodes, and there appear to be at least ten people actually listening.

(7) KANE ADAPTATION ANNOUNCED.  [Item by Cora Buhlert.] According to The Hollywood Reporter, there is an adaptation of Karl Edward Wagner’s Kane novels and stories in the works: “Action Fantasy ‘Kane’ Adaptation in the Works From Vertigo”. Personally, I’d be happy if there was a decent print edition of the Kane novels and stories available again. Also, my inner pedant bristles at calling the Kane stories epic fantasy, because they’re sword and sorcery.

Kane is very able for producers Roy Lee, Andrew Trapani and Steven Schneider.

The trio has secured the adaptation rights to the long-sought-after series of Kane fantasy novels and short stories by cult fantasy author Karl Edward Wagner.

…Kane’s adventures take place in a visceral world steeped in ancient history, with bloody conflicts and dark mysteries. Wagner wove gothic horror elements into this pre-medieval landscape, taking Kane on fantastic sagas involving war, romance, triumph and tragedy.

(8) ONE READER’S APPROACH. Tika Viteri tells “How I’m Decolonizing My Sci-Fi Reading” at Book Riot.

… One of the ways I am working to decolonize my science fiction reading is to diversify it. White cisgender male authors are vastly over-represented in science fiction, and they come from the dominant gender and race of the English-speaking world, whether they are consciously buying into the narrative or not. A good way to mitigate that narrative is to read it from different perspectives, and those perspectives are usually written by authors who are either non-white and/or not male.

If you haven’t yet read the Binti trilogy of novellas by Nnedi Okorafor, it is an excellent place to start. As an author, she specifically identifies with Africanfuturism, which is a genre (along with Afrofuturism) that has been regularly blowing my mind since I was introduced to it. Our heroine, Binti, has been accepted at a prestigious university off-planet, but her journey is interrupted when her ship is attacked and she is the only survivor. The series handles interspecies biases, what it means to broker peace, and what happens when the fate of worlds rests on the shoulders of one young woman. Reviews are full of phrases like “ground-breaking” and “unique,” and I wholeheartedly agree….

Another of Viteri’s recent articles for Book Riot is “Literary Scandals: Who Was the Real-Life Dracula?”

… [Bram] Stoker famously kept to himself, editing his public image ruthlessly. In contrast to [Oscar] Wilde, and perhaps in reaction to what he perceived to be Wilde’s recklessness regarding his sexual exploits, he retreated farther and farther into the closet, going so far as to say in 1912 that all homosexuals should be locked up — a group that definitely, in retrospect, included himself.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1971 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Fifty-one years ago at Noreascon where Robert Silverberg was Toastmaster and Clifford D. Simak (pro) and Harry Warner, Jr. (fan) were Guests of Honor with Tony Lewis as the Chair, Larry Niven won the Hugo for Best Novel for Ringworld. It was published by Ballantine Books in October of 1970. 

Other nominated workers were  Poul Anderson’s Tau Zero, Robert Silverberg’s Tower of Glass, Wilson Tucker‘s The Year of the Quiet Sun and Hal Clement’s Star Light

It would also win the Locus, Nebula and Ditmar Awards. Locus would later include Ringworld on its list of All-Time Best SF Novels before 1990.

Algis Budrys found it in his Galaxy Bookshelf column to be “excellent and entertaining, woven together very skillfully and proceeding at a pretty smooth pace.” 

It would spawn three sequel novels with The Ringworld Engineers nominated for a Hugo at Denvention Two which was the year Joan D. Vinge’s The Snow Queen won and a prequel series, Fleet of Worlds which was co-written with Edward M. Lerner. (I really like the latter.) One film and three series have been announced down the decades but none to date have been produced. Indeed Amazon announced this as a series along with Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash and Greg Rucka’s Lazarus five years ago but none got developed. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 1, 1884 Yevgeny Zamyatin. Author of We, a dystopian novel. He also translated into into Russian a number of H.G. Wells works and some critics think We is at least part a polemic against the overly optimistic scientific socialism of Wells. The Wiki writer for the Yevgeny Zamyatin page claims that We directly inspired Nineteen Eighty-FourThe Dispossessed and Brave New World. No idea if this passes the straight face test. What do y’all think of this claim? (Died 1937.)
  • Born February 1, 1908 George Pal. Producer of Destination Moon (Retro Hugo at Millennium Philcon), When Worlds CollideThe War of the Worlds (which I love), Conquest of SpaceThe Time MachineAtlantis, the Lost ContinentTom ThumbThe Time MachineAtlantis, the Lost ContinentThe Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm7 Faces of Dr. Lao (another I love)and his last film being Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze which is not so great. Can we hold a George Pal film fest, pretty please? (Died 1980.)
  • Born February 1, 1942 Terry Jones. Member of Monty Python who was considered the originator of the program’s structure in which sketches flowed from one to the next without the use of punchlines. He made his directorial debut with Monty Python and the Holy Grail whichwas nominated for a Hugo at MidAmeriCon, which he co-directed with Gilliam, and also directed Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. He also wrote an early draft of Jim Henson’s 1986 film Labyrinth, though little of that draft remains in the final version. Let’s not forget Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book by Brian Froud and him which won a Hugo at Intersection for Best Original Art Work. (Died 2020.)
  • Born February 1, 1942 Bibi Besch. Best remembered for portraying Dr. Carol Marcus on The Wrath of Khan. Genre wise, she’s also been in The Pack (horror), Meteor (SF), The Beast Within (more horror), Date with an Angel (romantic fantasy) and Tremors. She died much, much too young following a long battle with breast cancer. (Died 1996.)
  • Born February 1, 1946 Elisabeth Sladen. Certainly best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith on Doctor Who. She was a regular cast member from 1973 to 1976, alongside the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), and reprised her role down the years, both on the series and on its spin-offs, K-9 and Company (truly awfully done including K-9 himself) and The Sarah Jane Adventures (not bad at all). It’s not her actual first SF appearance, that honor goes to her being a character called  Sarah Collins in an episode of the Doomwatch series called “Say Knife, Fat Man”. The creators behind this series had created the cybermen concept for Doctor Who. (Died 2011.)
  • Born February 1, 1954 Bill Mumy, 68. He’s had a much longer career in the genre than even I knew. And I probably overlooked something. His first genre roles were at age seven on Twilight Zone, two episodes in the same season (Billy Bayles In “Long Distance Call” and Anthony Fremont in “Its A Good Life”). He makes make it a trifecta appearing a few years later again as Young Pip Phillips in “In Praise of Pip”.  Next for him he played an orphaned boy in an episode of Bewitched called “A Vision of Sugar Plums” and then Custer In “Whatever Became of Baby Custer?” on I Dream of Jeannie, a show he revisited a few years as Darrin the Boy in “Junior Executive”. Ahhh his most famous role is up next as Will Robinson in Lost in Space. It’s got to be thirty years since I’ve seen it but I still remember and like it quite a bit. He manages to show up next on The Munsters as Googie Miller in “Come Back Little Googie” and in Twilight Zone: The Movie In one of the bits as Tim. I saw the film but don’t remember him.He’s got a bunch of DC Comics and Marvel roles as well — Young General Fleming in Captain America, Roger Braintree on The Flash series and Tommy Puck on Superboy. He’s Lennier, one of the most fascinating and annoying characters in all of the Babylon 5 Universe. Enough said. I hadn’t realized it it but he showed up on Deep Space Nine as Kellin in the “The Siege of AR-558” episode. Lastly, and before our gracious Host starts grinding his teeth at the length of this Birthday entry, I see he’s got a cameo as Dr. Z. Smith in the new Lost in Space series. 
  • Born February 1, 1965 Brandon Lee. Lee started his career with a supporting role in Kung Fu: The Movie, but is obviously known for his breakthrough and fatal acting role as Eric Draven in The Crow, based on James O’Barr’s series. Y’ll know what happened to him so I’ll not go into that here except to say that’s it’s still happening and damn well shouldn’t be happening, should it? (Died 1993.)

(11) STAND BY FOR NEW. “DC is re-writing all of its major events since the ’80s with a stunning reveal in Justice League Incarnate #4”GamesRadar+ broadcasts the warning.

If you’ve read any of the big DC Comics superhero events from 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths to now, everything you know is about to change.

In February 1’s Justice League Incarnate #4, DC’s de facto chief writer Joshua Williamson and co-writer Dennis Culver have re-contextualized the major events in DC multiversal history from the ’80s to now. Although this Justice League Incarnate limited series has been a story unto itself, it continues to move pieces around on DC’s ‘big picture’ chessboard towards another Crisis-level event in the very near future.

Anything more we could say on Justice League Incarnate #4 would be spoilers, so…

(12) THE PANELS THROUGH TOMORROW. Jared Shurin has harnessed the power of modern computing to spew forth the commonest denominators in convention programming since the A-bomb went off. Thread starts here.

(13) MOST POPULAR VIEWS. While we’re waiting for someone to produce Sanctuary Moon, here’s what people are enjoying according to JustWatch.

Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies and TV Shows in the US in January (01.01.-31.01.22)

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1Ghostbusters: AfterlifeStation Eleven
2DuneA Discovery of Witches
3Free GuyResident Alien
4Spider-Man: HomecomingPeacemaker
5Spider-Man: Far From HomeThe Book of Boba Fett
6EternalsArchive 81
7Don’t Look UpGhosts
8The Amazing Spider-ManSnowpiercer
9Spider-ManThe Expanse
10Venom: Let There Be CarnageDoctor Who

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

(14) LOOK OUT BELOW. “Nasa reveals how it will destroy International Space Station at the end of its life” reports MSN.com.

…The plan assumes that lifespan will come to an end in January 2031. But the work to do so could start a year or more in advance, when the International Space Station’s orbit starts to fall towards the Earth.

Because of the ISS’s vast size, it will not burn up in the atmosphere, and so its descent will have to be precisely controlled in order to be safe. Nasa hopes to do so by gradually manoeuvring the spacecraft so that it drops down to Earth.

Those manoeuvres will be done partly by using the propulsion built into the ISS, as well as by the vehicles that visit. Nasa says that it has already examined the visiting vehicles for whether they would be able to provide enough thrust to help with the de-orbit – and found that a number of them do, with work continuing to expand that list further.

Eventually, the track of the space station’s fall will be lined up so that the space station will fall towards what it calls the “South Pacific Oceanic Uninhabited Area”, or SPOUA. That area is known as the “oceanic pole of inaccessibility” since it is the part of Earth furthest from land – and it is so remote that often the closest human beings are the International Space Station’s astronauts as they float overhead.

Nasa will aim for a specific region known as “Point Nemo”, which is not only remote but almost entirely uninhabited….

(15) LOFTY CONCERNS. Here’s something else you don’t want to be under if it drops out of the sky. WIRED’s Rhett Allain is worried about “What Happens If a Space Elevator Breaks”.

…OK, back to the space elevator. If we can’t build a tower from the ground up, we can hang a 36,000-kilometer cable from an object that’s in a geostationary orbit. Boom: That’s the space elevator.

To get this to work, you would need a large mass in orbit—either a space station or a small asteroid. The mass has to be large so that it doesn’t get pulled out of orbit every time something climbs up the cable.

But perhaps now you can see the problem with a space elevator. Who wants to make a 36,000-kilometer-long cable? For a cable that long, even the strongest material, like kevlar, would have to be super thick to prevent it from breaking. Of course, thicker cables means more weight hanging down below, and that means the higher parts of the cable have to be even thicker to support the cable below. It’s a compounding problem that seems essentially impossible. The only hope for the future of space elevator construction is to figure out how to use some super strong and lightweight material like carbon nanotubes. Perhaps we will make this work someday, but that day is not today.

What About a Falling Elevator Cable?

In the first episode of Foundation, some people decide to set off explosives that separate the space elevator’s top station from the rest of the cable. The cable falls to the surface of the planet and does some real damage down there.

What would a falling space elevator cable look like in real life?….

(16) SHIELDS UP! Here’s a clip of what 2021’s Dune would look like with 1984 technology.  Which, if you’re as old as I am, you maybe thought you’d already seen. From the Corridor Crew.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: The Witcher, Season 2,” the Screen Junkies say that there’s a lot of grunting and deep signs in season 2 of “The Witcher,” but characters are obsessed with how bad they smell (tying into that Old Spice ad!) and much of the series has “a plot line as boring as the phrase ‘elf migration crisis’ would imply.”  The narrator is bothered by the character growth in the show because “I haven’t grown since eighth grade!”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Rob Thornton, Soon Lee, N., Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, Will R., Brian Z., Cora Buhlert, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 1/28/22 In Restless Dreams I Scrolled Alone Narrow Files Of Pixelstone

(1) RELOAD THE CANON. Wealth of Geeks says these are the “60 Sci-Fi Books That All Science Fiction Fans Must Read”. I’ve read 30 of them. A bunch of things on the list are titles of series with three or more volumes. In other cases, only the first book in a series is named, like Foundation and Three-Body Problem. But as Asimov himself once wrote, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of petty minds.” Their list is broken down into categories. Here’s one example —

The Best Sci-Fi Books for Younger Readers

Take adventures through time and space, no matter your age!

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

The Murry children and Calvin O’Keefe crosses universes and space-time to try to find their missing father. Their tale is a mind-bending adventure of good vs. evil.

His Dark Materials Trilogy (The Golden Compass/The Subtle Knife/The Amber Spyglass) by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass/Northern Lights begins this sweeping saga of two children, one born in a parallel universe, one born in our own. In Lyra’s world, people’s souls exist in animal form, called daemons. Her father and mother represent warring factions determined to control all universes. Filled with talking animals, witches, airships, and strange creatures, His Dark Materials packs an emotional punch.

The Apothecary Series by Maile Meloy

Set in the 1950s, The Apothecary starts this highly entertaining, thrilling adventure series in which American Janie Scott meets Benjamin Burrows, the son of an apothecary. After Benjamin’s father is kidnapped, the teenagers uncover a terrifying plot that could result in humanity’s end. They use potions with magical effects to try and stop the impending doom.

The Serpent’s Secret (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #1) by Sayantani DasGupta

The first of the Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond series, book one begins with Kiranmala discovering her parents are missing, and there is a demon in her kitchen! Two princes recruited her and sent to another dimension, where she must battle the Serpent King and the Rakkhoshi Queen to rescue her parents and save the Earth.

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

This delightful middle-grade novel recounts a discarded robot named Roz and her search for love and acceptance.

(2) STUDYING D&D. Sign up to hear Professor Esther MacCallum-Stewart (also Bid Chair, Glasgow in 2024 Worldcon) talk about the game – “‘How do you want to do this?’, Dungeons & Dragons at 50” – on February 28.

The lecture is free to attend and will be online. I will be discussing how and why Dungeons & Dragons is experiencing such a massive revival at the moment. I’ll trace some of its history, as well as discussing how Twitch streaming and Actual Play games have contributed to making the game a spectator event as well as helping it become an easier, friendly experience to play. 

I’ve been writing and researching games for all of my academic career, and playing for even longer. I’m proud of games becoming a more recognised art form and topic of critical debate. And I’m really excited to be talking about this in the lecture! 

Register here – “Inaugural Professorial Lecture – Professor Esther MacCallum-Stewart Tickets | Eventbrite”.

(3) CLAIMING SPACE. The Smithsonian’s Afrofuturism conference is running January 27-29 – the “Claiming Space Symposium”. All events are free but registration is required. (However, videos are being posted afterwards at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum YouTube channel.)

The Smithsonian Afrofuturism Series is a collaboration between the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Museum of African Art. 

Smithsonian scholarship and collections address the topics of futurism and Afrofuturism from many angles. Each of the three collaborating museums brings a perspective on the topic including:

  • The prevalence of Afrofuturism in science fiction and how visions of the future affect space exploration and today’s technological landscape
  • How technology is used to enact or enforce existing power dynamics, or to resist those structures
  • How the sources and impact of Afrofuturism are rooted in Africa’s and the African Diaspora’s arts and history as well as their global influences

Not limited to fictional depictions of the future, this collaboration will examine what the future looks like today and how that future addresses issues like postcolonialism, climate change, and urbanization.

(4) SCANNERS LIVE IN VAIN. Camestros Felapton adds another artifact to The Museum of Right-Wing Gadgets & Sundry Devices: “The M of RWG&SD Exhibit 3: The :CueCat”.

…OK, so I can’t actually blame Covid-19 on the CueCat (or “:CueCat” — the initial colon was part of its name). However, this weird computer peripheral did manage to anticipate many of the curses that would fall upon us in the new century. The basic idea of a device that would enable users to scan printed material as a way of accessing websites/online information is one that has become ubiquitous via QR codes and smartphones. Of course, nobody particularly likes QR codes (aside from marketers) and it has taken a worldwide disaster with 5 million+ people dead for their use to become part of everyday life and only then because of public health orders….

(5) PLAYING ALL THE ANGLES. An introduction to the 19th century classic Flatland in “Aspiring to a Higher Plane” at The Public Domain Review.

Edwin Abbott Abbott, who became Headmaster of the City of London School at the early age of 26, was renowned as a teacher, writer, theologian, Shakespearean scholar, and classicist. He was a religious reformer, a tireless educator, and an advocate of social democracy and improved education for women. Yet his main claim to fame today is none of these: a strange little book, the first and almost the only one of its genre: mathematical fantasy. Abbott called it Flatland, and published it in 1884 under the pseudonym A. Square.

On the surface — and the setting, the imaginary world of Flatland, is a surface, an infinite Euclidean plane — the book is a straightforward narrative about geometrically shaped beings that live in a two-dimensional world. A. Square, an ordinary sort of chap, undergoes a mystical experience: a visitation by the mysterious Sphere from the Third Dimension, who carries him to new worlds and new geometries. Inspired by evangelical zeal, he strives to convince his fellow citizens that the world is not limited to the two dimensions accessible to their senses, falls foul of the religious authorities, and ends up in jail.

(6) LIFE IMITATES ART. “An uplifting pandemic drama? How Station Eleven pulled off the impossible” – the Guardian explains.

…The book, which was a bestseller in 2014, was discovered anew as the real-life pandemic made us seek out stories to help process the emergent threat. (See the spike in streams of Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 pandemic thriller Contagion; the return of Camus.) Its author, Emily St John Mandel, is often declared to have “predicted” the future, a claim she resists.

“There are tiers of how much it blew your mind,” says Station Eleven star Mackenzie Davis by phone from Los Angeles. “Talking about a virus making its way round the world from Asia to Europe to Chicago, and then halting production to let that actual event happen – it was really quite chilling.”

If the collapse of fact and fiction was coincidental to the book, it is inherent to the show – and the source of its substantial pathos. Premiering in the UK this week but recently concluded in the US, it has been hailed as a rare uplifting story of the pandemic. Its creator, Patrick Somerville (who also wrote revered post-apocalyptic drama The Leftovers), describes it as: “a post-apocalyptic show about joy”….

(7) CANNED GOODS. Evolution List assembled clips to show the “Evolution of Iron Man in MCU Movies & TV 1978 – 2021”.

Iron Man in MCU Movies & TV Evolution is a list video that includes all Iron Man in MCU Movies & TV changes through the years from 1978 to 2021!

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2007 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fifteen years ago, Patricia McKillip’s Solstice Wood, the sort of sequel to Winter Rose which can be read independently of that novel, wins the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. Other nominated works that year were Susanna Clarke’s The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories, Peter S. Beagle’s The Line Between, Susan Palwick’s The Necessary Beggar, Kevin Donahue’s The Stolen Child and Tim Powers’ Three Days to Never. It was the year before she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the same organization. Lest you ask, yes, it is my favorite novel by her. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 28, 1910 Arnold Moss. Anton Karidian a.k.a. Kodos the Executioner in the most excellent “The Conscience of the King” episode of Trek. It wasn’t his only SFF role as he’d show up in Tales of TomorrowThe Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.The Alfred Hitchcock HourTime Tunnel and Fantasy Island. (Died 1989.)
  • Born January 28, 1920 Lewis Wilson. Genre-wise, he’s remembered  for being the first actor to play Batman on screen in the 1943 Batman, a 15-chapter theatrical serial from Columbia Pictures. His only other major role was as Walt Jameson is the Forties serial Craig Kennedy, Criminologist. (Died 2000.)
  • Born January 28, 1929 Parke Godwin. I’ve read a number of his novels and I fondly remember in particular Sherwood and Robin and the King. If you’ve not read his excellent Firelord series, I do recommend you do so. So who has read his Beowulf series? (Died 2013.)
  • Born January 28, 1944 Susan Howard, 78. Mara, the Klingon woman, on “The Day of The Dove” episode of Star Trek. Was she the first Klingon woman? She also showed up on TarzanThe Flying NunI Dream of JeanieLand of GiantsThe ImmortalThe Fantastic Journey and Mission: Impossible.
  • Born January 28, 1959 Frank Darabont, 63. Early on, he  was mostly a screenwriter for horror films such as A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream WarriorsThe Blob and The Fly II, all minor horror films. As a director, he’s much better known because he’s done The Green MileThe Shawshank Redemption and The Mist.  He also developed and executive-produced the first season of The Walking Dead. And he wrote Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein that I like a lot. 
  • Born January 28, 1973 Carrie Vaughn, 49. Author of the Kitty Norville series. She’s also been writing extensively in the Wild Cards as well. And she’s got a relatively new SF series, The Bannerless Saga which has two novels so far, Bannerless which won the Philip K. Dick Award, and The Wild Dead. Sounds interesting. She has had two Hugo nominations, the first at Renovation for her “Amaryllis “ short story, the second at Worldcon 75 for another short story, “That Game We Played During the War”. 
  • Born January 28, 1985 Tom Hopper, 37. His principal genre role was on the BBC Meriln series as Sir Percival. He also shows up in Doctor Who playing Jeff during the “The Eleventh Hour” episode which would be during the time of the Eleventh Doctor. He’s also Luther Hargreeves in The Umbrella Academy which is an adaptation of the comic book series of the same name, created by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá. 
  • Born January 28, 1998 Ariel Winter, 24. Voice actress whose has shown up in such productions as Mr. Peabody & Sherman as Penny Peterson, Horton Hears a Who!DC Showcase: Green Arrow as Princess Perdita and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns as Carrie Kelly (Robin). She’s got several one-off live performances on genre series, The Haunting Hour: The Series and Ghost Whisperer

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Scott Johnson captures the pause between heroics:

(11) MAN NAME CHUCK UP FOR AWARD NAME BRAM. Chuck Tingle shared his excitement about making the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker Award.

(12) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. “Quantum Computing Threatens Everything — Could it be Worse Than the Apocalypse?”MSN.com thinks this would make a good nightmare.

What is a quantum computer?

A quantum computer is a machine that uses the laws of quantum theory to solve problems made harder by Moore’s law (the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years). One example is factoring large numbers. Traditional computers are limited to logical circuits with several tens of transistors, while the number of transistors in a quantum processor may be on the order of one to two million. Meaning, these computers will have exponential power, solving problems that traditional computation can’t even identify or create solutions for.

The dangers of a quantum computer

In the near future, quantum computers will be so advanced that they will have the capability to simulate very complicated systems. This could be used for simulations in physics, aerospace engineering, cybersecurity and much more. However, once this computer is built, it has the potential to unravel data encryption protocols. It could also potentially compromise air gaps due to its ability to scan vast distances for nearby networked devices or applications that are open. This means that it can become even simpler for external hackers. They may already have access to your computer or computer system via other avenues, like vulnerabilities in web browsers. They could find it much easier because you’re not locking up all the doors….

(13) WITH A DINO BY YOUR SIDE. The Bristol Board shows off James Gurney’s beautiful poster for “New Book Week”. (Item submitted there by Kurt Busiek.)

(14) TRUE GRIT. “British men play board game ‘Dune’ for 85 hours to break Guinness record” reports UPI.

A quartet of British men broke a Guinness World Record by playing a board game for more than 85 hours.

Lea Poole, Dale Poole, Adam Bircher and Luke de Witt Vine, members of the Herefordshire Boardgamers group, played 79 rounds of the board game Dune, based on the same Frank Herbert novel as the 2021 film of the same name, for a total time of over 85 hours.

The previous record was 80 hours, set by four men in the Netherlands in 2017, and Guinness World Records told the British team they would have to best the record by at least 5 hours to be considered for official recognition.

The gamers were allowed five minutes of break time for each hour played, and they allowed the break times to accumulate so they could get a small amount of sleep. They said they had 21 minutes of break time unused when they finished their record attempt….

(15) UNSPECIAL DELIVERY. The Guardian keeps track as “Out-of-control SpaceX rocket on collision course with moon”.

SpaceX rocket is on a collision course with the moon after spending almost seven years hurtling through space, experts say.

The booster was originally launched from Florida in February 2015 as part of an interplanetary mission to send a space weather satellite on a million-mile journey.

But after completing a long burn of its engines and sending the NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory on its way to the Lagrange point – a gravity-neutral position four times further than the moon and in direct line with the sun – the rocket’s second stage became derelict….

Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at Harvard University, wrote that the impact was due on 4 March but was “not a big deal”.

Nevertheless, space enthusiasts believe the impact could provide valuable data.

Berger believes the event will allow for observation of subsurface material ejected by the rocket’s strike, while Gray says he is “rooting for a lunar impact”.

“We already know what happens when junk hits the Earth; there’s not much to learn from that,” he said.

(16) INTENTIONAL LANDINGS. The Hakuto-R lander could be part of the international lunar hit parade: “Japanese Company Joins March Back to the Moon in 2022”.

A Japanese company is pushing ahead with plans to launch a private moon lander by the end of 2022, a year packed with other moonshot ambitions and rehearsals that could foretell how soon humans get back to the lunar surface.

If the plans hold, the company, ispace, which is based in Tokyo, would accomplish the first intact landing by a Japanese spacecraft on the moon. And by the time it arrives, it may find other new visitors that already started exploring the moon’s regolith this year from Russia and the United States. (Yutu-2, a Chinese rover, is currently the lone robotic mission on the moon.)

Other missions in 2022 plan to orbit the moon, particularly the NASA Artemis-1 mission, a crucial uncrewed test of the American hardware that is to carry astronauts back to the moon. South Korea could also launch its first lunar orbiter later this year.

But other countries that had hoped to make it to the moon in 2022 have fallen behind. India was planning to make its second robotic moon landing attempt this year. But its Chandrayaan-3 mission was delayed to mid-2023, said K. Sivan, who completed his term as the chairman of the country’s space agency this month. Russia, on the other hand, remains confident that its Luna-25 lander will lift off this summer.

The M1 moon lander built by ispace is the size of a small hot tub. It is in the final stages of assembly in Germany at the facilities of Ariane Group, the company’s European partner, which built the rocket that recently launched the James Webb Space Telescope.

If structural tests go as planned in April, M1 will be shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a launch on one of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Hawkeye Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says that in this show a dog attacks a villain because “the man’s a bad guy and the dog’s a good dog.”  The dog gets rewarded with a pizza but we don’t see the doggy diarrhea that takes place when a dog snarfs up a lot of cheese.  Also, Hawkeye knows LARPers, who help him by “Making some costumes, tampering with police evidence, and risking their jobs and lives.”

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

Pixel Scroll 1/21/22 Just A Come-On From The Scrolls On Pixel Avenue

(1) THE MIND’S EYE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Carmen Maria Machado was interviewed by Mikaella Clements in a Washington Post story about whether fiction writers see their characters as they’re writing about them. “Gillian Flynn, Carmen Maria Machado and other authors discuss their creative process”.

…Carmen Maria Machado describes a similar experience with “Especially Heinous,” a short story from her collection “Her Body and Other Parties.” “I was in the shower shampooing my hair and I suddenly had this image of a woman with bells ringing in her eye sockets.” Machado says that her deeply visual imagination infiltrates every element of her life. “It’s like there’s something playing inside of my head all the time, when I’m listening to music, walking around and writing as well.”…

(2) FINALLY IN THEATERS. Kurt Loder tells what he thinks of the film based on the late Vonda McIntyre’s Nebula-winning novel The Moon & the Sun in “Review: The King’s Daughter” at Reason.com.

… Considering the film’s cast (Brosnan, William Hurt, Kaya Scodelario, Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing) and its probable CGI costs (even though much of the budget was covered by Chinese production companies), it’s odd that The King’s Daughter is debuting in the joyless wastes of January. (The picture was shot in 2014 and quickly strangled in its crib, for various movie-biz reasons and maybe the 2018 decision by the Chinese government to come down hard on Fan for major tax fraud). In any case, here it finally is….

Author McIntyre went to France in 2014 to witness location filming at Versailles.

(3) WRITER DRAWS THE LINE. Star Trek writer David Mack has announced that he will not attend the Farpoint Convention in Maryland next month because the convention will not require attendees to provide proof of vaccination and/or a recent negative COVID test. “David Mack – Why I’ve withdrawn from Farpoint Con 2022”.

…On Tuesday, January 11, I emailed Farpoint via the programming chair, Cindy Woods, to express my concerns and reservations concerning this lax approach to health and safety. My message read, in part:

“Per item 2, I am seriously troubled by the concom’s decision to not require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for attendees, guests, and staff.

“The proffered explanation that this decision was made out of concern about the privacy of attendees’ private health information rings hollow. Many other small, fan-run and volunteer-supported conventions are managing to check vaccination and test status for their attendees without it being an undue burden on them or an imposition on their attendees and guests.

“I would strongly urge the Farpoint team to reconsider this section of its COVID policy immediately, and to plan for verification of attendees’ vaccination statuses and/or recent negative test results.”

Cindy replied that the Farpoint committee intended to discuss the matter again during its next meeting, scheduled for the weekend of January 15-16, and that she would share with them my concerns and inform me of their conclusions.

Their response and final decision was, to be blunt, disappointing….

(4) TAKEDOWN RECTIFIED. The Fantasy Book Critic blog has had its service restored after a flood of wrong DMCA takedown notices by the Link-Busters anti-piracy service caused it to be removed by host Blogger. Link-Busters subsequently acknowledged their mistake.

(5) PICARD SEASON 2. The new season of Star Trek: Picard premieres March 3, 2022 on Paramount+.

(6) TENTH DOCTOR COMIC. Titan Comics has revealed Cover A for Doctor Who: Special 2022 by artist Adam Hughes.

Doctor Who: Special 2022 is written by Dan Slott (Spider-Man) and illustrated by Christopher Jones and Matthew Dow Smith.

Writer Dan Slott is set to delight fans with an epic story that sees companion Martha Jones captured by the insatiable Pyromeths, and her only hope for survival is to keep them distracted with sensational untold tales of the Tenth Doctor facing off against his greatest foes – both classic and new!

Doctor Who: Special 2022 Comic Book One-Shot (SC, 64pp, $7.99) hits stores on April 27, 2022. Pre-order from your local comic shop and Forbidden Planet (UK/Europe).

(7) ROBOPOP. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Yesterday was the the 25th anniversary of Daft Punk’s debut album “Homework,” which might be worth noting given both how the band has been reflected in sci-fi movies, and given the fact that they took on stage personas as robots. One of the most science-fictional bands ever to hit the mainstream. “The real story of how Daft Punk became the robots” at DJ Mag.

Daft Punk have taken on a robot form for so long that it’s hard to remember a time that they didn’t don their famous helmets for public appearances. Although the official line has been well told — the one with an exploding discoball — in this excerpt from his new book, Daft Punk’s Discovery: The Future Unfurled, Ben Cardew tells the real story of how the enigmatic French duo transformed into robots, according to those closest to them at the time…

… The helmets, according to Martin, were very heavy and “quite a faff”. But they looked fantastic. Bangalter and De Homem-Christo’s robotic outfits initially comprised a bespoke helmet each, a gauntlet that allowed them to control the helmet’s electronics, a pair of gloves and a “spaceman backpack” to hide the wiring and hardware. All of this was created by special effects expert Tony Gardner from initial designs by Alexandre Courtès and Martin Fougerol, artist friends of the band. …

(8) NOW YOU KNOW THE REST OF THE STORY. Radio Times keeps track of all the Doctor Who loose ends and celebrates whenever one of them gets tied up – no matter how many years it takes! “Doctor Who teaser confirms what happened to Peri”.

Nicola Bryant played companion Peri Brown opposite Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor in the 1980s, but the character appeared to meet a dark fate in her final appearance as a series regular.

In the 1986 story The Trial of a Time Lord, the alien Kiv appeared to transplant his brain into Peri’s body, effectively killing her. It was later suggested, however, that Peri had survived, that the evidence of her death had been faked, and that she was now living as queen to the warrior king Yrcanos (Brian Blessed).

Fans never actually saw this happen, however, with some remaining convinced that Peri had died, while others were just curious as to what exactly her life with the eccentric King Ycarnos would’ve entailed.

36 years later and we’ve finally got our answer, as part of a trailer for the next classic Doctor Who Blu-ray set – The Collection: Season 22.

(9) MEAT LOAF OBIT. Singer Meat Loaf has died at the age of 74 reports the New York Times. His earliest genre credit cast a long shadow —

…His first major film role came in 1975 in the cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” in which he played Eddie, a delivery boy murdered for his brain by the cross-dressing Dr. Frank-N-Furter. …More recently, he had a role in several episodes of the TV series “Ghost Wars” from 2017-18.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1935 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Eighty-seven years ago, Charlie Chan in Paris, the seventh in that series, premiered. It was directed by Lewis Seiler as written by the trio of Earl Derr Biggers, Philip MacDonald and Stuart Anthony. All the films featured Warner Oland, a Swedish-American actor who had also played Fu Manchu. Oland would play this role sixteen times.

Honolulu Police detective Lieutenant Chan was created  by Biggers who wrote six novels in which he appears. The House Without a Key is the first one. It’s available from the usual suspects for ninety nine cents. 

Biggers loosely based Chan on Hawaiian detective Chang Apana and was intended to be the opposite of Fu Manchu. The real detective actually solved very few murder cases as he worked mostly on opium cases. M 

Over the years eleven different actors would portray him including Peter Ustinov and Ross Martin. 

This film was considered lost for decades until a print was discovered in Czechoslovakia with a collector in the seventies. After a number of showings in various revival cinemas throughout the States, it was released on DVD as part of a collection.  All of the films are in the public domain so you can watch it here.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 21, 1923 Judith Merril. Author of four novels, Shadow on the HearthThe Tomorrow PeopleGunner Cade, and Outpost Mars, the last two with C. M. Kornbluth. She also wrote many short stories, of which twenty-six are collected in Homecalling and Other Stories: The Complete Solo Short SF of Judith Merril (NESFA Press). She was an editor as well. From 1956-1966 she edited a series of volumes of the year’s best sf. Her collection England Swings (1968) helped draw attention to the New Wave. Oh, and between, 1965 and 1969, she was an exemplary reviewer for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. (Died 1997.)
  • Born January 21, 1925 Charles Aidman. He makes the Birthday Honors for having the recurring role of Jeremy Pike on The Wild Wild West, playing him four times. Other SFF appearances include Destination SpaceThe InvadersTwilight ZoneMission: Impossible and Kolchak the Night Stalker to name but a few of them. (Died 1993.)
  • Born January 21, 1938 Wolfman Jack. Here because I spotted him showing up twice in Battlestar Galactica 1980 playing himself according to IMDb. He also had genre character roles in the Swamp Thing and Wonder Women series plus two horror films, Motel Hell and The Midnight Hour. (Died 1995.)
  • Born January 21, 1939 Walter C. DeBill, Jr., 83. An author of horror and SF short stories and a contributor to the Cthulhu Mythos. Author of the Observers of the Unknown series about a Lovecraftian occupy detective which is collected is two volumes, The Horror from Yith and The Changeling. They don’t appear to be in print currently.
  • Born January 21, 1956 Diana Pavlac Glyer, 66. Author whose work centers on C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Inklings. She teaches in the Honors College at Azusa Pacific University in California. She has two excellent works out now, The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community and Bandersnatch: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings.

(12) FREE COMIC BOOK DAY IS MAY 7. Marvel Comics is getting a head start on Free Comic Book Day publicity by announcing the first of its three separate Free Comic one-shots. (This one also has a variant cover.)

 Announced last week, Spider-Man is gearing up for a brand-new era just in time for the character’s 60th anniversary! Fans who pick up Free Comic Book Day: Spider-Man/Venom #1 will see the very beginning of the major storylines writer Zeb Wells and legendary artist John Romita Jr. have planned for their run on Amazing Spider-Man, including Tombstone’s first steps towards becoming Spidey’s most terrifying villain.

Free Comic Book Day: Spider-Man/Venom #1 will also give fans a chance to check out the thought-provoking work Al Ewing, Ram V, and Bryan Hitch are doing on Venom! The groundbreaking changes this mastermind trio has in store for the symbiote mythos starts here!

(13) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to dig into duck with Usman T. Malik in Episode 163 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Usman T. Malik

Usman T. Malik won the British Fantasy Award for his novella The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn, which was also nominated for both the World Fantasy and Nebula Awards. His story “The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family” won the Bram Stoker Award for Short Fiction. His stories have been published in such magazines as Strange HorizonsBlack StaticNightmare, and Tor.com, as well as anthologies such as Black Feathers: Dark Avian TalesThe Mammoth Book of Cthulhu: New Lovecraftian FictionFinal Cuts: New Tales of Hollywood Horror and Other Spectacles, and others. His collection Midnight Doorways: Fables from Pakistan, was published in 2021.

We discussed why the first pandemic year was his most prolific period ever as a writer, how the Clarion Workshop helped him decide what kind of writer he wanted to be, our shared concerns over revising our early stories, the way his medical training gives him an intriguing advantage as a writer, how every love story is a ghost story and every ghost story is a love story, what it was like running Pakistan’s first science fiction writing workshop, why he prefers Stephen King to Dean Koontz (and what that taught hm about his own writing), the cautionary tale told to him by Samuel R. Delany, how writers teach readers the way they should be read, and much more.

(14) FOR THOSE OF YOU JUST TUNING IN. Raquel S. Benedict has posted a transcript of the Rite Gud podcast episode “A Guide to Squeecore”.

JR: I was going to say, we can go back and talk about what is “squee”. If we’re going to call it squeecore, we have to say, what is the definition of “squee”, that horrible, horrible word? And I have a little –

RSB [crosstalk]: Right. Yeah. So what is the definition of squee?

JR [crosstalk]: As I defined it – yeah. “Squee” is a culture term for a sound or expression of excitement or enthusiasm. It’s the opposite of “feh” or “meh”, and very close kin to “amazeballs” and “epic sauce”. It represents a specific feeling, a type of frisson that readers value; the tingle of relatability as a beloved character does something cool, or says something “epic” and snarky.

RSB: [laughs]

JR: The essence of squee is wish fulfillment. Squeecore lives for the “hell yeah” moment; the “you go, girl” moment; the gushy feeling of victory by proxy. It’s aspirational; it’s escapism; it’s a dominant, and I would even say gentrified, form of SFF.

(In case you’re asking “How come Mike doesn’t say who JR is?” the answer is that’s the only identification given at the link.)

(15) INFLATION INDEX. Nate Sanders Auctions has set a minimum bid of $9,500 for this “First Edition, First Printing of Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ in Original Dust Jacket” – which is remarkable for a copy that was originally circulated by the Fitchburg Public Library of Massachusetts.

(16) THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY. MSN.com reports “Doctors Used Bacteria-Killing Viruses to Take Down an Incurable Superbug”.

The enemy of our bacterial enemy can indeed be our friend. In a new case report, doctors say they were able to treat their patient’s long-festering, drug-resistant infection with the help of specially grown bacteriophages—viruses that infect bacteria. Large-scale clinical trials will likely be needed for these treatments to become widely used, though….

But by the 1940s, with the advent of the modern antibiotic era, phages had fallen out of favor for several reasons. The first antibiotics that saw wide use were broad-spectrum, able to quickly treat many different types of infections, and relatively easy to scale up in mass production. Phages, on the other hand, were harder to purify and store, and their benefits were often inconsistent.

Scientists and doctors in some parts of the world where antibiotics were less available, such as Eastern Europe and India, did continue to research and use phage therapy, though. And eventually, it became clear that antibiotics weren’t quite as miraculous as we’d hoped. Bacteria have evolved resistance to these drugs over time, to the point where we’re now seeing infections that can’t be treated at all. So, understandably, scientists have expressed renewed interest in phages as a weapon against bacteria in recent decades.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Dinosaurs invade the UN in this commercial from the UN Development Program. The message: Extinction is a bad thing!

…You’re headed for a climate disaster, and yet every year governments spend hundreds of billions of public funds on fossil fuel subsidies. Imagine if we had spent hundreds of billions per year subsidizing giant meteors….

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

Pixel Scroll 1/8/22 All My Files Are Packed, I’m Ready To Scroll

(1) SOLDIERING ON THROUGH COVID. ConFusion chair Lithie Dubois has written one of the strongest chair communications I have ever read explaining why the Michigan convention is going ahead. “The State of ConFusion – a Transparent Update from the Conchair”.

My name is Lithie Dubois, and I am the 2022 Conchair. I want to update our community and be as transparent as possible with you. This may be long, but if you are a community member, you will want to read this….

First – are we still holding an in-person event? Absolutely. On January 20, 2022 – myself and my team will begin the task of packing in ConFusion gear to the Sheraton Detroit Novi, and setting up.  

The entire ConCom is deeply aware of the current state of this pandemic, and the Omicron Wave. We understand our community’s concerns, and even their disbelief in the fact that we’re holding an in-person ConFusion. We share in the community’s concerns and fears, as well as their hopes.

Truth is, we have a contract with our hotel. That contract does have what is called an Impossibility Clause. The short explanation of that is as follows; Should the government, be it Federal, State or Local impose orders or regulations which would prohibit us, or the Sheraton from being able to have, or provide what is needed for the event – then we’d be released from the contract with no penalties.  Unfortunately, as of today (Jan 7th, 2022) no such regulations or orders are in place at any level. Thus the Impossibility Clause does not apply. 

…Could we cancel the event outright? Legally, yes. Financially – absolutely not. Make no mistake, ConFusion Community – this con and community does not have $80k, – $90k dollars to pay out the entire contract.

Dubois’ message covers in detail their steps to maximize Covid safety, with changes in program, the con suite, etc.

…As a person who has been involved for many many years running not only fan events, but corporate ones, I can say that I have never had to push my team so hard, so fast, and ask for so many pivots than I have had to do this year. There are countless members of my ConCom that have put in hours of work, while always knowing that they themselves can not attend Rising ConFusion. These individuals helped carry the weight and stress of trying our best to do this the safest way we can, while knowing they’d not even be present to reap the benefits. Then there are those members of the Concom who are able to attend, and have also put in countless hours and brain cells to their departments needs. They’re all STILL working at breakneck speeds.  They are each amazing. While the community may not have witnessed all they have faced, I have.  Truly our community is blessed because of these individuals. Truly.

She also hopes members of the community will help prop up their finances, and suggests two ways to do so:

1) You could purchase a membership – and then not attend. This option will not provide you anything other then the knowledge that you did your best to ensure ConFusion lives on, by supporting the con with your membership. To be clear, we will not be rolling over memberships. If you elect to pre-register a membership and then not attend, that membership will not roll over to 2023, and expires at the end of the 2022 con. 

2) You can directly donate to our cost via our Paypal Donation Link…. 

(2) GIVE READERS WHAT THEY DON’T KNOW THEY WANTED. Clarkesworld hosts “Working Towards Legacy: A Conversation with Ann & Jeff VanderMeer by Arley Sorg” in the January issue.

Ann VanderMeer: …Jeff and I have different skills and talents so that helps make these collaborations work well. He is so good with the bigger picture and the overall concepts; and his instincts are spot-on most of the time. I am a detail-oriented person, so I deal with a lot of the nitty gritty, such as the permissions process (not the most fun, but necessary).

We also made a determination early on that each of us gets one veto (to drop a story) and one selection that cannot be vetoed. Luckily, we hardly ever have to use the veto in either scenario, as we generally agree on all selections before finalizing the table of contents. The bottom line is we have a great deal of respect for one another. This is a key component to our work together….

(3) SLUSH ANALYSIS. Editor Neil Clarke has updated the “Clarkesworld Submissions Funnel 2017-2021”, which breaks down by genre stories submitted and the acceptance rates in each category. Clarke advises against taking it all too much to heart for several reasons, beginning with: “Acceptance rates are fundamentally misleading. They suppose that all stories are equal in quality and we all know that isn’t true.”

…Over the last five years, the percentage of submissions reaching the second round has dropped significantly and the conversion from second round to acceptance has grown from 8% to nearly 35%. These changes are the likely result of our work with the slush team and how we recruit, monitor, and provide feedback to them….

(4) SPRING IS COMING. SF² Concatenation has just tweeted its second advance post ahead of its full spring edition. It’s an article comparing the novel Dune with both its cinematic adaptations.

Frank Herbert himself liked the film script, stating in Starlog in January 1983 that “Believe me, it is good, about two hours, 10 minutes, maybe.”.

The critics were less kind. Critic Roger Ebert’s comment is fairly typical of most. He said, “This movie is a real mess, an incomprehensible, ugly, unstructured, pointless excursion into the murkier realms of one of the most confusing screenplays of all time.”

SF² Concatenation’s full spring edition is slated for mid-month.

(5) HOLMES. Collector Glen S. Miranker will share his passion for Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects, an exhibit at the Grolier Club in New York from January 12-April 16.

Highlights include leaves from The Hound of the Baskervilles; four short story manuscripts; original artwork by the British and American illustrators who created Sherlock’s iconic look for readers; a wealth of holograph letters from Arthur Conan Doyle to friends, colleagues, and well-wishers; a fascinating cache of pirated editions; the only known salesman’s dummy for the US Hound; an “idea book” of Conan Doyle’s private musings in which he (in)famously penned “Killed Holmes” on his calendar for December 1893; and a handwritten speech—never before displayed—with the author’s explanation for killing Holmes:

“I have been much blamed for doing that gentleman to death but I hold that it was not murder but justifiable homicide in self defence [sic] since if I had not killed him he would certainly have killed me.”

The New York Times helps build anticipation for the exhibit in “A Sherlock Holmes Mystery at the Grolier Club”.

This has the makings of a detective story with hints of history: Why did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle sign a pirate edition of “The Sign of the Four,” the second of the four Sherlock Holmes novels? Conan Doyle hated pirate editions. He was as famous for denouncing pirate publishers as they were infamous for grinding out cheap editions — and not paying royalties to authors like him.

Consider the plot possibilities here. Did someone force Conan Doyle to write words above his name that he could not have meant — “Yours cordially”?

Sherlock Holmes and Watson are not available to tackle this one, but Glen S. Miranker is on the case. He acquired the evidence years ago….

(6) RETURN TO THE ROCK. Fraggle Rock has been revived and is going to be on Apple TV+ starting January 21.

(7) TOLKIEN SOCIETY ADDS TO ARCHIVE. The Tolkien Society has purchased a historic collection of Tolkien photos taken by Pamela Chandler in 1961 and 1966.

In 1961, Pamela Chandler was commissioned to take portraits of Professor Tolkien. The formal black and white portraits were taken in his study at 76 Sandfield Road, Oxford.

At that time she also took informal photographs of the Professor and his wife, Edith, in the garden.

In 1966, when visiting the Tolkiens, she took a further series of less formal colour photographs of them both, in the study and in the garden.

…The 64 original negatives (which includes the copyright) were bought by the Tolkien Society at auction earlier this month for £18,000 (auction listing here), and the Society anticipates generating a modest income from these into the future. The Society also purchased at the same event lot 1470, two hand-written letters by Edith Tolkien, and lot 1465, a letter from J.R.R. Tolkien to Pamela Chandler.

The Society anticipates making these photos available to the Tolkien community for research and academic purposes, as well as generating a modest income from photo libraries and similar agreements. The Society shall be including more information about the photographs, as well as Pamela Chandler, on the website in due course. Until then you can support the Society by purchasing a postcard collection of 8 photographs, or by making a donation to the Society.

(8) JANE HAWKINS (1951-2022). Seattle fan Jane Hawkins died January 7, the day after explaining on Facebook why she was going through Washington State’s Death With Dignity procedures to end her own life. Hawkins had survived multiple cancers, but the latest recurrence came with a terminal diagnosis, and last November she stopped treatment and entered hospice care. “I have gotten to the point where enough drugs to quell pain pretty much renders me unconscious. I can’t focus on a book, a few minutes conversation wears me out completely, and snuggling with my lovely cat is just barely pleasant. Bluntly put, I just don’t want to be doing this anymore.”

Hawkins was a member of Seattle’s Vanguard fan group and hosted its monthly meetings for years. She was a founder of Norwescon, co-chaired three Potlatch conventions, and worked on many other cons including WisCon, Corflu, and Noreascon 3. She wrote one novel, Quantum Gate (1996), and was part of the Pacific Northwest Review of Books 

Jeanne Gomoll has written a deep-felt and insightful tribute to her friend Jane here on Facebook.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1989 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-three years ago, Agatha Christie’s Poirot starring David Suchet as Hercule Poirot, the Belgian Detective, the most famous creation of that author, premiered on ITV.  

Over the thirteen series and seventy episodes which ranged in length between fifty and a hundred minutes, some ten production companies would be involved in creating what we saw. Each episode was indeed adapted from original material by Christie. 

David Suchet is the only actor to appear in the entire series though Hugh Fraser as Captain Arthur Hastings and Philip Jackson as Chief Inspector James Japp appeared in the first eight series. Pauline Moran as Miss Felicity Lemon appeared in most of the first eight series. Their absence reflects the stories of the latter series. 

Reception for the series was excellent starting with the family who recommended Suchet for the part.  Christie’s grandson Mathew Prichard commented: “Personally, I regret very much that she never saw David Suchet.” It even won an Edgar Award for Best Episode in a TV Series for “The Lost Mine”. It holds a near perfect ninety-nine percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 8, 1908 William Hartnell. The very first Doctor when Doctor Who first aired on November 23rd, 1963. He would be the Doctor for three years, leaving when a new Showrunner came on. He played The Doctor once more during the tenth anniversary story The Three Doctors (aired 1972–73) which was the last thing he filmed before his death. I scanned through the usual sources but didn’t find any other genre listings for him. Is that correct? (Died 1975.)
  • Born January 8, 1941 Boris Vallejo, 81. Illustrator whose artwork has appeared on myriad genre publications. Subjects of his paintings were gods, hideous monsters, well-muscled male swordsmen and scantily clad females. Early depictions of Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian, and Doc Savage established him as an illustrator.
  • Born January 8, 1942 Stephen Hawking. Y’all know who he is, but did you know that Nimoy was responsible for his appearance as a holographic representation of himself in the “Descent” episode of Next Gen?  He also guest starred in Futuruma and had a recurring role on The Big Bang Theory. Just before his death, he was the voice of The Book on the new version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series. (Died 2018.)
  • Born January 8, 1947 David Bowie. First SF role was as Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth. He next shows up in The Hunger which is well worth seeing. He plays The Shark in Yellowbeard, a film that Monty Python could have produced but didn’t. Next up is the superb Labyrinth where he was Jareth the Goblin King, a role perfect for him. From that role, he went on to being Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ, an amazing role by the way. He was in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me as FBI AgentPhillip Jeffries which was his last role. He also played Nikola Tesla in The Prestige from Christopher Priest’s novel. Ok, what am I leaving y’all to mention?
  • Born January 8, 1956 Jack Womack, 66. Ok I was trying to remember what I’d read by him. I realized it was his excellent Ambient novel when it first came out and that I hadn’t kept up with his later writings. So what do y’all think of his later novels? I know, he stopped witting essentially a generation ago except for his Flying Saucers Are Real! non-fiction release. Non-fiction? Really? Truly?  I was surprised the he’d won but one Award and that was the Philip K. Dick Award for his Elvissey novel. 
  • Born January 8, 1958 Lou Aronica, 64. Editor and publisher, primarily of science fiction. As a publisher he began at Bantam Books and formed their Bantam Spectra line. Later he moved on to Avon and assisted in the creation of their Avon-Eos line. He co-edited the Full Spectrum anthologies with Shawna McCarthy which won a World Fantasy Award once. He wrote three genre novels.
  • Born January 8, 1965 Michelle Forbes, 57. Best remembered as  Ensign Ro Laren in Star Trek: The Next Generation, she also showed up in the Battlestar Galactica: Razor film as Admiral Helena Cain, and the most excellent pilot of Warren Ellis scripted Global Frequency as Miranda Zero. She played Maryann Forrester on True Blood as well. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) GET YOUR KICKS FROM 1966. “Batman rewatch: We will never see anything like Adam West’s Batman again, alas” mourns Yahoo!

…By the time Adam West published his memoir in 1994, it was conventional to think of him as a bad actor and his Batman as a travesty. Dark Knights on page and screen were moping through BDSM role-play, getting spine-crunched by philosophical ‘roidheads, and carving steel cleats across Superman’s chin. West’s version looked like a toothless punchline in reruns. Which was, of course, the point. “We were farce,” West explains in Back to the Batcave (co-written by Jeff Rovin). “We were a lampoon.” The book reads defensive. Critics were wrong to call his series “camp.” Comic book fans were wrong to say his silliness ruined the character. The creators of the TV show were wrong not to pay him more money. The mega-grossing 1989 film Batman was wrong, because Michael Keaton‘s moody hero was “psychotic,” “addle-headed,” “shallow,” and “unpleasant.” (West wishes the film had starred West.)

No one reading Back to the Batcave had seen Lookwell, the astounding pilot West filmed a few years earlier. He plays a struggling actor semi-famous for a long-gone, three-season TV show: Hmmm. Former fake TV cop Ty Lookwell tries to solve actual crimes, and still chases hot-young-dude casting calls. He should be adrift in the wrong era, a turtlenecked Gloria Swanson washed up on grunge beach — but his baritone assurance warps the world around him. The script came from two young whoevers, Conan O’Brien and Robert Smigel, and they realized West’s stentorian I-Am-So-Normal manners had gotten weirder (and funnier) with age….

(13) SIMULATE KINDNESS. The December 19 New York Times Magazine has an interview with New York University philosopher David J. Chalmers about what life would be like if we were living in a simulated work like The Matrix. “Can We Have a Meaningful Life in a Virtual World?”. [May be paywalled.]

“You can try to think of our own physical universe as being a digital universe with bits at the bottom.  That’s not pathological:  that’s just a way for the world to be.  I want to normalize this idea of simulations; I quite like the recent movie Free Guy where the guy discovers he’s a character in a video game, and instead of totally freaking out— –None of this is real!– –he starts a movement.  It’s like, OK, we’re real people, too, and our lives matter and our world matters. That’s thinking of the simulated world not as dystopia but as a place where people can live meaningful lives.”

(14) HARD TRUTH. Try to control your disappointment (yeah, right) – Yahoo! covers the big non-discovery: “Moon Cube Mystery: Chinese Rover Finds It’s Just a Rock”.

…Last November, China’s Yutu-2 lunar rover spotted something curious on the far side of the moon. The image was blurry, but it was unmistakable: The object looked like a cube sitting on the moon’s surface. Its shape looked too precise to be just a moon rock — perhaps something left by visiting aliens like the monolith in Arthur C. Clarke’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

China’s space authorities called it the “mystery hut.” Others called it the “moon cube.” Yutu-2 was sent for a closer look, and at the leisurely speed the rover is capable of traveling, it took weeks to get up close.

On Friday, Our Space, a Chinese language science channel affiliated with China National Space Administration, posted an update. There is no monolith, no secret base on the rim of a lunar crater. Close up, it turns out to be just a rock. The seemingly perfect geometric shape was just a trick of angle, light and shadow….

(15) BIRDSTRIKE. [Item by Michael Toman.] I thought you (and Other Filers’n’Friends in the Lone Star State?) would be interested in this story I found on MSN: “Texas Walmart Overrun by Thousands of Birds Branded Sign of ‘Apocalypse’”.

…Shoppers were seemingly trapped in their cars—and presumably the store—when the flock descended onto the supermarket’s parking lot, off highway 80 in Mesquite.

One man, named Denis Mehic, filmed the “terrifying” spectacle from his car, where he sat with his children as birds swarmed the vehicle, with droppings landing on the windshield….

Will DisneyNature be streaming this “True Life Adventure” soon?

P.S. And here’s a Shout-Out dedicated to ol’ Winston Hibler!

“Now there’s something you don’t see in the sky every day, Woodrow!”

Now what, Gus?”

“Yonder, over there, past those railroad tracks…”

From Larry McMurtry’s uncut first draft of Lonesome Dove?

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Matthias Pilhede hates wizards especially if they have all-seeing orbs!

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

Pixel Scroll 12/29/21 Whoever Said One Is The Loneliest Number Never Met A Tribble

(1) DRUMROLL, PLEASE! Cora Buhlert presents “The 2021 Darth Vader Parenthood Award for Outstandingly Horrible Fictional Parents”.

…This summer, an unexpected candidate in the form of King Randor of Eternia threw his hat or rather his crown in the ring. Now Randor has never been a stellar parents by any means, as chronicled in more than 100 episodes of the original Masters of the Universe cartoon. He not only completely fails to notice that his son Prince Adam is also the superhero He-Man despite the fact that in the original cartoon, He-Man is basically Adam with a tan and his clothes off, but also constantly berates Adam for not being whatever Randor expects from his son….

But this guy does not get the award – in fact, two even worse finalists finished ahead of him. And believe me, this is an extremely entertaining post!

(2) ROSE PARADE GRAND MARSHAL. Look for him on New Year’s Day:“LeVar Burton Talks About COVID Precautions And What The Rose Parade Means To Him” at LAist.

…When Burton found out about his selection as Grand Marshal, he said he was “gobsmacked.” The L.A. resident seemed to have been gravitating toward the role since he was a kid.

This year, the Rose Parade’s theme is “Dream, Believe, Achieve.” The credo strikes a particularly personal chord with Burton.

“[The theme] is almost as if it’s a recipe … for my life. My mother … Erma Jean Christian … I am the man that I am because she was the woman that she was. Education was primarily important to her,” Burton said. “My mother had two careers. First, as a teacher of high school English, and then as a social worker. So the values that she established in our family are all about dreaming your personal dream, whatever that is, and believing that you not only can achieve it but deserve it.”

Dreaming and believing that you deserve that dream, those two steps, said Burton, are necessary for anyone hoping to live out the “Dream, Believe, Achieve” theme….

(3) CHALLENGING COLONIZATION. Jerrine Tan finds Dune suffers by comparison to a Miyazaki classic: “Fear Is the Mind Killer; What Enlivens the Mind? — Dune’s Alt-Victimhood and Radical Nonviolence in Nausicaä in the LA Review of Books.

Dune in 2021, unchanged in its plot, but imagining an underclass of native people as made up of a smattering of different ethnicities (mostly Brown and Black), embodies what David M. Higgins calls “imperial fantasy” and “alt-victimhood” in his latest book, Reverse Colonization (2021). Higgins describes a genre of reverse colonization narratives in which audiences “who are most often the beneficiaries of empire [are invited] to imagine what it feels like to be on the receiving end of imperial conquest,” provoking audiences to “identify as colonized victims.” It’s hardly surprising, then, that white supremacists have long cathected to Frank Herbert’s Dune, and white nationalists — a group that feels threatened by the presence of people of color, and increasingly aggrieved and attacked by liberal pushes to address systemic racism — have eagerly anticipated Villeneuve’s latest adaptationAs Jordan Carroll succinctly sums up: “Fascists love Dune.” Suddenly, the privileged chosen one — the imperialist who is also the Christ figure — becomes the suffering victim deserving of sympathy. In this way, identification with victimhood becomes a seductive imperial fantasy for the most privileged in society, what Higgins terms “alt-victimhood.”…

… In this mode, a revisit of another 1984 film about a similar ecodystopian future can uncover a more radical and historically grounded politics apt for our contemporary moment. Hayao Miyazaki’s early animated film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) drew inspiration from the fantasy world of Herbert’s Dune and shares uncanny similarities with the Dune film adaptations: where Dune has giant sandworms, Nausicaä has the Ohmu; where Dune has desert, Nausicaä the Sea of Decay; Dune the Harkonnens, Nausicaä the Tolmekians. Instead of yet another imperially appointed master, in Nausicaä, the people are led by a daring princess, one who leads by example and is beloved by her people; one who resists imperial expansionists, but not at the cost of her own people; and most importantly, one who radically chooses nonviolent action against all possible defense of rational violence, and eventually achieves harmony through cooperation and understanding.

Ursula K. Le Guin once said that “[t]o use the world well, to be able to stop wasting it and our time in it, we need to relearn our being in it.” Crucially, Nausicaä imagines a new way of being in the world by radically reframing our relation to it and our understanding of it. Instead of a desert, the inhospitable environment in Nausicaä is known as the Sea of Decay. But far from a dying and deadened milieu, the Sea of Decay is in fact brimming with life….

(4) ONCE AND FUTURE SPIDER-MEN. If you can’t find enough spoilers in the introductory paragraphs of Camestros Felapton’s “Review: Spider-Man and Hawkeye, MCU stuff, spoilers etc” he promises there are lots more below the fold!

(5) LOOKING BACK. Anime UK News begins its year-end retrospective with “Anime UK News Review of 2021 Part 1: Anime”.

After the difficulties of 2020 – in which we were all really grateful for the ability to stream and watch at home – 2021 has been an odd blend of lockdown and modified freedom. Scotland Loves Anime (and its regional offshoots) triumphantly brought live audiences back to the cinema. Funimation has managed to have anime screenings in many local cinemas. As for the world of streaming and simulcast, in August we had the official confirmation that Sony’s Funimation Global Group had acquired Crunchyroll. How this will all pan out for viewers/subscribers remains to be seen. Earlier, Manga Entertainment became Funimation UK, bringing an end to a famous label and uniting streaming, home video and cinema releases under the same name.

With all these changes, how has the anime-viewing experience been for the fans? Has there been too much material available on streaming services ranging from Netflix and Amazon Prime to dedicated companies like Crunchyroll and Funimation, leading to a dip in quality? Our writers have been looking back at their favourites from 2021 and are here to share their thoughts. Let us know what your ’21 favourite have been too!

(6) BORROWED TIMES. “NYC Libraries Release Their Top Checkouts Of 2021”Gothamist has the lists, which include a couple works of genre interest.

The NYPL Systemwide (the Bronx, Manhattan & Staten Island)

  1. The Vanishing Half: A Novel by Brit Bennett
  2. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  3. Klara and the Sun: A Novel by Kazuo Ishiguro
  4. A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  5. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
  6. The Guest List: A Novel by Lucy Foley
  7. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  8. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
  9. The Other Black Girl: A Novel by Zakiya Dalila Harris
  10. Malibu Rising: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1967 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fifty-four years ago, “The Trouble with Tribbles” first aired  on NBC as written by David Gerrold and directed by Joseph Pevney, with some of the guest cast being Charlie Brill as Arne Darvin, Stanley Adams as Cyrano Jones, Whit Bissell as Station Manager Lurry, Michael Pataki as Korax. 

Memory Alpha says ”Wah Chang designed the original tribbles. Hundreds were sewn together during production, using pieces of extra-long rolls of carpet. Some of them had mechanical toys placed in them so they could walk around.” 

Memory Alpha also notes Heinlein had Martian flat cats in The Rolling Stones that were similar to these and Roddenberry called to apologize for these being so similar. My understanding is that they brought the issue to Heinlein’s attention and asked for permission to continue. To their surprise, he granted it in exchange for a signed copy of the episode’s script.

(I know that Heinlein’s authorized biography contradicts this story. Really contradicts this story.) 

It would come in second in the Hugo balloting at BayCon to “The City on the Edge of Forever” written by Harlan Ellison. All five final Hugo nominees at BayCon were Trek episodes written by Jerome Bixby, Norman Spinrad and Theodore Sturgeon.

David Gerrold wrote a book on his experiences in the creation of this episode, The Trouble with Tribbles: The Birth, Sale and Final Production of One Episode. He did a children’s book as well, Too Many Tribbles!.

There would be two more Trek stories done with Tribbles. “More Tribbles, More Troubles”, the fifth episode of the first season of the animated series riffed off them. And of course Deep Space Nine would revisit the story in “Trials and Tribble-ations” which blended seamlessly footage from the original episode with new video including the Charlie Brill character. It, too, would be nominated for a Hugo, this time at LoneStarCon 2. (Babylon 5’s “Severed Dreams” won.) 

Tribbles have been also seen in other Trek episodes and films, including The Search for Spock and the rebooted Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness. They also appeared in Enterprise’s “The Breach”.  Phlox uses them as food for his creatures in sickbay. Which is either truly disgusting or really appropriate given how prolific they are. Or both.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 29, 1901 William H. Ritt. US cartoonist and author, whose best known strip, Brick Bradford, was SF. Two of the early Thirties strips, Brick Bradford and the City Beneath the Sea and Brick Bradford with Brocco the Mountain Buccaneer, became Big Little books. In 1947, Brick Bradford, a 15-chapter serial film starring Kane Richmond, was produced by Columbia Pictures. (Died 1972.)
  • Born December 29, 1912 Ward Hawkins. Alternative universes! Lizard men as sidekicks! He wrote the Borg and Guss series (Red Flaming BurningSword of FireBlaze of Wrath and Torch of Fear) which as it features these I really would like to hear as audiobooks. Not that it’s likely as I see he’s not made it even to the digital book realm yet. (Died 1990.)
  • Born December 29, 1928 Bernard Cribbins, 93. He has the odd distinction of first showing up on Doctor Who in the Peter Cushing as The Doctor non-canon Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. film. He would show up in the canon when he appeared as Wilfred Mott in the Tenth Doctor story, “Voyage of the Damned”, and he‘s a Tenth Doctor companion himself in “The End of Time”, the two-part 2009–10 Christmas and New Year special.
  • Born December 29, 1963 Dave McKean, 58. If you read nothing else involving him, do read the work done by him on and Gaiman called The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch: A Romance. Brilliant, violent, horrifying. Well and Signal to Noise by them is worth chasing down as well. 
  • Born December 29, 1966 Alexandra Kamp, 55. Did you know one of Sax Rohmer’s novels was made into a film? I didn’t. Well, she was the lead in Sax Rohmer’s Sumuru which Michael Shanks also shows up in. She’s also in 2001: A Space Travesty with Leslie Nielsen, and Dracula 3000 with Caspar van Dien. Quality films neither will be be mistaken for, each warranting a fifteen percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 
  • Born December 29, 1969 Ingrid Torrance, 52. A very busy performer who’s had one- offs in Poltergeist: The LegacyThe SentinelViper, First WaveThe Outer LimitsSeven Days, Smallville, Stargate: SG-1The 4400Blade: The SeriesFringeThe Tomorrow People, R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour and Supernatural
  • Born December 29, 1972 Jude Law, 49. I think his first SF role was as Jerome Eugene Morrow in Gattaca followed by playing Gigolo Joe in A.I. with my fave role for him being the title role in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. He was Lemony Snicket in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Tony in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Dr. John Watson in Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Remy in Repo Men and he voiced Pitch Black in one of my favorite animated films, Rise of the Guardians.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) BEST PICS OF 2021. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] From Nature’s end-of-year edition, “Images of the year.”

This one is of a 40-million-year-old gnat in amber. Photographed by Levon Biss and it got an honourable mention in the 2021 Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition. If it were over a score of million years older, then shades of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park!

My personal topical favourite of the year, which I downloaded in case I ever needed it for a talk, is a computer simulation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  This is also a .gif and an animation.  Alas, I forget the source (it was one of the papers we covered in SF2 Concatenation CoVID coverage during the year) but it is quite a nifty simulation showing spike movement.  This jiggling helps enable it to lock on to human cell membrane proteins giving it access to the cell. To see it, click here.

(11) OVERDUE BOOK. For your Fifties viewing pleasure: The Man From 1997, an episode of the Conflict anthology TV series aired in 1956. In the episode, Charles Ruggles portrays an elderly time-traveling librarian from the future attempting to retrieve a 1997 almanac that he mistakenly left 41 years before it is supposed to exist. I loved one of the comments somebody left – “Damn he from 1997 and he didn’t even ask them if he can smoke in their house.”

The cast also includes actor James Garner. Wikipedia says he caught producer Roy Huggins’ attention with a comedic performance as a gambler in the episode, Huggins to cast Garner as the lead the following year in his television series Maverick, according to Huggins’ Archive of American Television interview.

(12) I’LL FLY AWAY. Click and “See the Faberge x Game of Thrones Dragon Egg That Sold for $2.2M” at The Hollywood Reporter.

That iconic theme song practically starts playing upon laying eyes on Fabergé’s decadent Game of Thrones dragon egg. But if you were hoping to add the $2.22 million hand-forged creation to your collection, well, that Targaryen ship has sailed.

The luxurious “commemorative egg objet” was sold to an anonymous U.S. buyer in April shortly after its announcement and before the nine months of painstaking work was begun by Fabergé workmaster Paul Jones and his team of artisans, global sales director Josina von dem Bussche-Kessell told The Hollywood Reporter….

(13) STILL THINKING ABOUT THEM. New York Times opinion columnist Ezra Klein tweeted a list of recommended books from 2021, and several are sff. Thread starts here.

(14) SFF IN THE EIGHTIES. Nicholas Whyte continues to reacquaint himself with past Hugo-winning novels, discussing the 1983 and 1984 winners in “Blood Music”, by Greg Bear; Startide Rising, by David Brin”.

…And Brin has put a lot of work into thinking about how intelligent creatures with completely different mindsets might work together, especially with the undertones of slavery and colonialism which are the foundation of the series. I really enjoyed revisiting it. Where “Blood Music” is “My God! What if…”, Startide Rising is sensawunda reflecting contemporary debates (as always).

(15) OFF THE BEAM. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is from October, but it was news to me! “NYC Mayor de Blasio Explodes Millions of Trekkie Heads By Misidentifying His Star Trek Costume — And BLOWING Prime Directive” at Mediaite.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio set his verbal phasers on “stun” with a shocking display of Star Trek ignorance at a press conference, falsely identifying his uniform and making a complete hash out of Starfleet’s Prime Directive.

The shameful display occurred during a lengthy press conference at which the mayor covered a variety of topics, including having a safe Halloween.

As State Senator Kevin Parker completed his presentation on highspeed broadband, de Blasio appeared onscreen sporting a blue Starfleet shirt with a science department badge and command insignia, an obvious tribute to Commander S’chn T’gai Spock — or Mr. Spock to humans, and Dr. Spock to confused Boomers….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Method Actor Tutorial” on Screen Rant. Ryan George plays Kurt Truffle, method actor.  Truffle knew he would be a method actor because as a kid, he’d object to losing duck duck goose by speaking in goose language, so the other kids couldn’t understand him.  Truffle claims that method actors can be jerks on the set and in life because method actors will do what it takes to stay in character.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, StephenfromOttwa, Michael J. Walsh, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day – no, wait, it’s OGH!]