Pixel Scroll 2/7/24 We’ll Pixel Them All With Laughter And Merriment, Except For The Ones We Scroll For Experiments

(1) PRH PLANS EDITION OF A FAMOUS POTTER FANFIC. [Item by Anne Marble.] Penguin Random House (through Del Rey) is going to publish a revised version of “Manacled,” a very famous Harry Potter fanfic. This is a Hermione plus Draco (Dramione) fan fiction with a lot of trigger warnings. The author, SenLinYu, announcd this on Tumblr:

I’m excited to announce that I have signed a book deal with Del Rey at Penguin Random House in the US and Michael Joseph in the UK for my debut novel, Alchemised, a standalone dark fantasy set in a war-torn world of necromancy and alchemy, in which a healer with amnesia is taken as a prisoner of war and must fight to protect her lost memories and the secrets hidden among them. It will grapple with themes of trauma and survival, legacy, and the way that love can drive one to extreme darkness, and it is, as you may be able to tell, a reimagined version of Manacled.

I know I’ve been rather quiet about my publishing journey, and a lot of that has been because I didn’t want to spark any concerns or worry that I might be abruptly taking away a story that is such a deep part of myself and that I know has meant so much to so many people. This process has unfolded very slowly and quietly because I have tried to be mindful as I could be in every step of the way. 

As most of you know, I have been a reader in fandom long before I ever began to write. Fanfiction is incredibly special to me, and I have tried to do my best not to undermine its legal protection or allow my works to do so either. During the last several years, there has been a growing issue with illegal sales of Manacled, putting both me and the incredible community that shares fanfiction freely in legal jeopardy. 

After consulting with the OTW as well as other lawyers, it has grown clear that as a transformative writer I have limited options in protecting my stories from this kind of exploitation, but I wasn’t sure what to do; I didn’t want to just take the story down, in part because I worried that might only exacerbate the issue, but I didn’t know what other options I had. Then I suddenly had this idea of alchemy, which was peculiarly appropriate; an academic world filled with unique transmutational abilities, and a necromantic war against people who had discovered the secrets of immortality, and I could see a path to reimagining the story while still holding on to as much of the original spirit of Manacled as possible.

I began redrafting the concept privately around Christmas 2022, and then as if the universe had aligned, just as I was finishing, Caitlin Mahony and Rivka Bergman of WME reached out to me and were delightfully enthusiastic about concepts and ideas for my new alchemical world and the ways I had reimagined the story. 

I’m thrilled to be working with Emily Archbold, my visionary editor at Del Rey, along with Rebecca Hilsdon at Michael Joseph in the UK, to polish this novel for publication in Fall 2025. I feel uniquely privileged that both my publishing teams are familiar with Manacled and understand how special it is to so many people, and how important it is that this reimagining captures the same spirit while also having its own wings. 

Manacled is not going anywhere at present. It will remain online throughout 2024, at which point it will, if you’ll pardon the pun, alchemise for 2025 and be removed from AO3….

The revised version is described as “Alchemised, a standalone dark fantasy set in a war-torn world of necromancy and alchemy, in which a healer with amnesia is taken as a prisoner of war and must fight to protect her lost memories and the secrets hidden among them.” As far as I know, it will be published under the name SenLinYu — just like the original fan fic. A lot of people are happy for the author. They are happy she is finally going to get paid for her work. They also see it as Penguin Random House banking on the popularity of her fanfic.

One aspect that drove the author’s decision is that “Manacled” is so popular that some people have resold it online without the permission of the author. However, those sales are illegal, and they jeopardize both the original author and the fanfic community. The author mentioned that she consulted with the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) as well as lawyers about how to protect herself. So she decided to revise the fanfic and turn it into a new work. It will be sold in 2025. Until then, the original fanfic will still be available on A03. This news is not without its critics. First, a number of posts have accused the author of ripping off The Handmaid’s Tale alongside the Harry Potter elements. I haven’t read the fanfic, so I’m not sure how close it gets. From what I understand, there is a “concubine” element. (It seems a lot of dystopias have borrowed heavily from A Handmaid’s Tale in recent years.)

One poster got truly angry about this upcoming publication, calling the author a “freak” and a “horrible person” for romanticizing abuse. I’m sure this won’t be the only complaint along these lines. I’m torn with that sort of take. Yes, maybe some readers might get the wrong idea from reading a very dark story. But maybe we’re not giving readers (even young ones) enough credit.

(2) DON’T LET KIDS GET SMARTER. “LeVar Burton’s Banned Book Rainbow” is a show-within-the-show on Jimmy Kimmel Live, beginning at the 11:05 mark:

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Isabel Yap and Randee Dawn in person at the KGB Bar on Wednesday, February 14 starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

ISABEL YAP

Isabel Yap is the author of Never Have I Ever: Stories, which was published by Small Beer Press in 2021, and was named one of the 2021 Best Books for Adults by the New York Public Library. Her work has appeared in venues including Tor.com, Lithub, and Year’s Best Weird Fiction. Her collection won the British Fantasy Award, and was a finalist for the Ignyte, Locus, Crawford, and World Fantasy Awards. By day she works in the tech industry as a Product Manager. She likes visiting museums, playing the ukulele, and commiserating with others about how hard it is to write books.

RANDEE DAWN

Randee Dawn is the author of the bestselling novel Tune in Tomorrow, which was a finalist in the 2023 Next Generation Indie Awards. Her latest story, “The Fifth Horseman,” appears in the new anthology The Four ???? of the Apocalypse. Her stories have also appeared in Soul Scream, Horror for the Throne, and Even in the Grave, and she is the co-editor of Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles. An entertainment journalist who writes for the Los Angeles Times, Variety, and other publications, Randee lives in Brooklyn with her spouse and a fluffy, sleepy Westie.

Location: KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs)

(4) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

Observations from Hugo winner Ling Shizhen regarding the trophies

As yet, I’ve not noticed any Chinese coverage of the core part of Chris M. Barkley’s interview with Dave McCarty on Weibo, perhaps because of the initial lack of transcripts making that less accessible to non-native speakers, plus I’m uncertain how accessible SoundCloud, Google Drive, etc are to Chinese users.  (Google Drive I’m fairly sure is inaccessible in China without workarounds)

However, the notes at the end of Chris’ piece, regarding damage to the trophies that were shipped to the US, have garnered some discussion.

One of my Chinese SF friends made me aware that Best Fanzine co-winner Ling Shizhen had spoken on WeChat about the subject.  I don’t personally have access to that app, nor did I have alternative contact details for Ling, so I reached out to RiverFlow to see if I could get more information which I might be able to share more widely. 

Here is the the subsequent response from Ling via RiverFlow, firstly in the original Chinese, and then a machine translation via DeepL, with minor manual edits for phrasing.

2023年10月22日,我自成都抵重庆。一路行程中,我的箱包被塞满,为防这奖杯受损,便基本手持,虽感沉重,这奖杯无事。

后由重庆回上海时,先快递回去一大批于2023成都世界科幻大会收到的物件,便想这奖杯放书包里会好些。这奖杯被安置妥当后,一路小心,最多受行走及列车难免的些许微小颠簸。

至家后,发现有问题:这奖杯底座上的“星门”和这奖杯底座间的衔接处,有此前未有的松动,那“星门”有点晃。才发现:那“星门”本不是整块完全焊死在这奖杯底座上。于是想还不如一路手持由重庆回上海。至少我的相关亲历可以说明这奖杯很经不得碰……

On 22nd October 2023, I arrived in Chongqing from Chengdu [a journey of approximately 300km per Google]. During the journey, my bag was stuffed to the brim, so I basically held the trophy in my hand to prevent it getting damaged, and although it felt heavy, the trophy was fine.

When I returned to Shanghai from Chongqing [a distance of just under 1,700km per Google], I couriered back a large number of items I received at the 2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Convention, so I thought it would be better to put the trophy in my backpack. After the trophy was properly placed, I was careful all the way, and it endured nothing worse than the inevitable bumps of walking and trains.

After arriving home, I found that there was a problem: the connection between the “stargate” and the base of the trophy had loosened up in a way that I had not been seen before, and the “stargate” was a bit shaky. It was only then that I realised that the “stargate” was not completely welded to the base of the trophy. So I think it would have been better to go all the way back to Shanghai from Chongqing carrying it by hand. At least my personal experience shows that this trophy is not very contact-friendly.

Many thanks to Ling Shizhen and RiverFlow for getting back to me so promptly, and for providing the information I requested.

Ling Shizhen and RiverFlow receiving the 2023 Hugo Award for Best Fanzine.  Image from the 2023 Hugo Ceremony video stream
Close up of the 2023 Hugo base, taken from the 2023 Worldcon Opening Ceremony video stream, previously published in the 2023-10-18 Pixel Scroll.

(5) FLAME ON. [Item by Steven French.] The Guardian is agog as “House of Flame and Shadow by Sarah J Maas races to the top of bestseller chart”.

The story of a half fairy, half human woman has gripped UK book buyers this week, as a novel about the hybrid heroine shot to the top of the bestseller chart.

House of Flame and Shadow by Sarah J Maas, the third book in the Crescent City series featuring Bryce Quinlan, has become the third fastest-selling science fiction and fantasy title since records began since its publication on 30 January.

Maas sold 44,761 copies of the new title in the week of its launch, coming in behind Terry Pratchett’s 2011 book Snuff with 54,687 launch week sales and Rebecca Yarros’s Iron Flame which saw a record-setting 57,055 sales last November, according to the Bookseller.

Maas and Yarros are driving a surge in popularity of the “romantasy” genre, which blends elements of romance and fantasy and has attracted huge numbers of readers through social media recommendations, particularly via TikTok. Videos with hashtags related to Maas have been viewed more than 14bn times, her publisher Bloomsbury said.”

(6) USED OR OVERUSED? At the Fantast Author’s Handbook, Philip Athans challenges the use of  particular word: “Active Search: Because”.

…I want to talk about the word “because.” I think “because,” which like all words is perfectly fine and in no way “banned,” sometimes—actually, fairly often—sounds clunky….

(7) COLLINS FUNDRAISER. Horror author, comics creator, and File 770 news contributor Nancy Collins was hospitalized earlier this week with blood clots in one lung, and as she says in the title of her GoFundMe, “What Doesn’t Kill Me Leaves Me With Medical Bills”.

This past Saturday (February 3rd, 2024) I woke up to discomfort in my left chest every time I inhaled. As the day went on I experienced increasing pain that radiated into my armpit and through my left shoulder, accompanied by extreme exhaustion. That evening I drove myself to the E.R. at a hospital near my house here in Macon, GA. By that point I thought I was having some kind of cardiac episode, as my mother’s side of the family had a long history of heart issues.

Within 30 minutes of being taken into the exam area, I was screaming in agony and could no longer sit up. Being kept prone helped alleviate the intensity of the pain, but breathing was still an issue.

An EKG, a set of Xrays, and a MRI scan later, I was told I wasn’t having a heart attack. However, I did have a blood clot in my lower left lung–actually, several small ones, according to the doctor. He said that if I hadn’t come in when I did Saturday night, odds are I would not have woken up Sunday morning.

They admitted me into the hospital, where I was ordered bed rest, pumped full of blood thinners, and then underwent several ultrasounds. They kept me over the weekend, finally releasing me Monday evening with several prescriptions and an outpatient appointment with a hematologist. I suspect I will be on blood thinners for the rest of my life. (I know, ironic for someone best known for writing vampire stories. Even more ironic–the clots appear to be the result of me sitting too long in front of my laptop while writing. )

I’m setting up this campaign to help with the medical bills from this unexpected reminder that I am no longer a spring chicken. While I have medical insurance, it ain’t all that and a bag of chips. I’m still on the hook for 25% of my treatment–possibly more, if it turns out any of the physicians, technicians, or laboratories who handled my case happen to be out-of-network.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 7, 1960 James Spader, 64. How can I not do the Birthday of James Spader, the performer who played Dr. Daniel Jackson, Egyptologist in Stargate? Yes, I’m really fond of that film. And yes, I am equally fond of the Stargate SG-1 franchise. 

His first SF film actually came as a starring role as Joey Callaghan in Starcrossed where an alien woman is running from a deadly enemy and tries to hide here. She meets a young mechanic (Joey), who helps her to go home and to be a freedom fighter there.

James Spader in 2014. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

A decade later, his next role is in Stargate one. I thought it was a great performance by him. And yes, the character as performed by Michael Shanks in Stargate SG-1 continuity is just as interesting, just completely different. His role I thought was more true to that of being an Egyptologist but the Stargate SG-1 continuity isn’t really concerned with the original premise, is it? 

If you saw Avengers: Age of Ultron, and I will readily admit that I have not, he not only voiced Ultron but did the motion capture for it. 

But his greatest role, and I readily admit that is not genre was in The Blacklist as Raymond “Red” Reddington, a former US Naval Intelligence officer turned fugitive who’s forced to become an FBI crime consultant. And I was surprised to learn that he was an executive producer for that series. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) TRACING THE ROOTS OF COMICS. At Colleen Doran’s Funny Business the artist takes her work on a Neil Gaiman book as the jumping-off point for a discussion of comic art history: “CHIVALRY: From Illuminated Manuscripts to Comics”.

One of the many reasons I wanted to adapt Neil Gaiman’s Chivalry into graphic novel form was to create a comic as a bridge and commentary re: comics and illuminated manuscripts.

We’re often told that the first comic was Action Comics #1 featuring Superman, a collection of Superman comic strips that morphed into comic books as an art form.

Sequential art predates Action Comics #1.

Action Comics popularized sequential art book storytelling that had already appeared in other forms in fits and starts throughout history. Comic books didn’t take off as a popular medium for several reasons, not least of which was the necessary printing process hadn’t been invented yet and it’s hard to popularize – and commercialize – something most people can never see. 

You find sequential art in cave paintings and in Egyptian hieroglyphics. I’ve read that comics (manga) were invented by the Japanese in 12th century scrolls.

And sequential art appears over and over again in Western art going back well over 1000 years, and in book form at least 1100 years ago.

The most obvious example of early sequential art in Western art – as a complete narrative in sequence – is the Bayeux Tapestry. …

(11) GRIMDARK ARCHITECTURE. The completed Brooklyn Tower is being compared to Barad-dûr. “Brooklyn Tower and 100 Flatbush Lead a Borough’s Art Deco Revival” at Bloomberg.

On an overcast day, the delicate pointed crown of the Brooklyn Tower is invisible in the clouds, as if a vengeful enemy has shrouded its superlative vantage in smoke. Nonetheless, over the low-rise flatlands that comprise most of the borough, the jagged edges rising along the dark shaft are present and unmistakable.

The Batman building, the Tower of Sauron — the nicknames write themselves. And why not? Better this than another squared-off tower that simply fiddles with the ratio of white solid to blue glass. Maybe I should hate it for its bigness, its blackness, its thrust — but I don’t. Skylines need punctuation. The designers of the Brooklyn Tower, SHoP Architects, threw everything at this to make it an exclamation point…

….“The idea was Gotham, it was Deco,” says Gregg Pasquarelli, founding partner of SHoP Architects. “Batman should live here.”…

Color photo of Brooklyn Tower, a supertall skyscraper.
Brooklyn Tower is the borough’s first supertall skyscraper. Photo: Max Touhey, courtesy of SHoP Architects

(12) OMG! The H Book Club blog on X.com made this gobsmacking observation:

Footnote: In case you don’t already know the background:

(13) MARVEL TV CREW MEMBER LOSES LIFE. “’Wonder Man’ Crew Member Dies During Production Of Marvel TV Series” reports Deadline, and people are donating to the support of his widow.

Go Fund Me drive has already raised more than $115,000 for Juan Carlos Osorio, the crewmember on Marvel’s WonderMan series who died Tuesday after falling from a catwalk at Radford Studios.

“On February 6th, 2024, our friend Spike lost his life on the set of Marvels WonderMan shoot at CBS Radford studios due to a potential structural failure,” reads the fundraise, started by Bill Martel. “We are hoping the Production Company, The Facility, MBS, Marvel Studios handles things properly, but expect a long road fraught with attorney fees and expenses. In the mean time, bills will be mounting and the widow, Boom Operator Joanne W. will be left to deal with everything. Help if you’re able, it’s greatly appreciated.”…

(14) INVESTMENT MEANS ADDING DISNEY CONTENT TO FORTNITE. “Disney Invests $1.5 Billion in ‘Fortnite’ Developer Epic Games” reports Variety.

Disney is investing $1.5 billion in “Fortnite” developer Epic Games in what will be the Mouse House’s “biggest foray into the game space ever,” Disney CEO Bob Iger announced Wednesday.

…Per further information provided by Disney, “in addition to being a world-class games experience and interoperating with ‘Fortnite,’ the new persistent universe will offer a multitude of opportunities for consumers to play, watch, shop and engage with content, characters and stories from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Avatar’ and more. Players, gamers and fans will be able to create their own stories and experiences, express their fandom in a distinctly Disney way, and share content with each other in ways that they love.”…

(15) RARE UNFINISHED DOCUMENTARY FEATURE FILM TRAILER FOOTAGE FROM “THE MAN WHO ‘SAVED’ THE MOVIES”. [Item by Steve Vertlieb.] Here’s the original theatrical trailer for the never completed feature length motion picture documentary, The Man Who “Saved” The Movies, concerning over half a century of published writings…associations with actors, composers, writers, and directors…and some seventy-six years devoted to a passion for both films and film makers, while lovingly chronicling the life and career of film, and film music historian Steve Vertlieb.

Featuring appearances by Veronica Carlson, Philippe Mora, Paul Clemens, Juliet Rozsa, Lee Holdridge, Mark McKenzie, Patrick Russ, and Gregg Nestor, the film remains a work in progress. While financial difficulties have sadly plagued its production, it is my hope that it may one day reach completion.

… and, yes, that is me with Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis, Kirk Douglas, William Shatner, Jack Klugman, old friend and iconic American film director, Frank Capra, Oscar winning film composer, John Williams, Oscar winning film composer, Miklos Rozsa, famed science fiction author, Ray Bradbury, iconic special effects titan, Ray Harryhausen, “Psycho” author Robert Bloch, together with “The Time Machine” producer/director, George Pal, Hammer Films’ star, Peter Cushing, and screen hero/gold medal Olympian, Buster Crabbe.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ob6-t0MKXRY

(16) COLD WAR SURPLUS? “Remnants of a Nuclear Missile Are Found in a Garage” – in Bellevue, WA – reports the New York Times. “The police responded to a call from a U.S. Air Force museum that said a man had offered to donate a Cold War-era missile stored in his late neighbor’s garage.”

Members of the bomb squad in Bellevue, Wash., on Thursday were called to inspect parts of a military-grade missile in the garage of a resident.

Elements of the larger, intact missile, such as the warhead, were missing and the authorities deemed the piece to be inert and safe, the police said in a news release on Friday.

An Air Force museum in Dayton, Ohio, contacted the police in Bellevue on Jan. 31 to report that a resident had offered to donate the missile, which belonged to his late neighbor….

…The next day, the man was “surprised” to hear from the police because he had not called them but invited the bomb squad to inspect the missile remnant, Officer Tyler said.

Squad members identified the rocket as a Douglas AIR-2 Genie missile, designed to carry a 1.5-kiloton nuclear warhead….

…It was clear that the missile remnant did not pose a threat given that it was missing its warhead and did not contain rocket fuel, Officer Tyler said.

“It was essentially just a rusted piece of metal at that point,” he said. “An artifact, in other words.”…

The NYT news report reminds me that when I first got into fandom I heard tell about Russell Seitz, a fan who was famous for having acquired the components of an ICBM. The following is one version of that story:

In the late 70’s, when most of our nuclear arsenal was converted from liquid to solid fuel, the U.S. Government auctioned off a number of obsolete missile silos and their contents. Mostly the silos got bought by local farmers who converted them for grain storage. I only know what happened to one of the missiles. It was offered at sealed bid auction and a friend of mine, Russell Seitz, bought it. When you bid on something like this, you have to send in a check for 10% of your bid as a deposit. He looked at his bank account, and figured he could spare about $300 that month, so that’s what he sent. When he discovered that he’d won the bid, he had to scrounge up the rest. Now the buyer must pick up the goods himself, but he can request that his purchase be delivered, at government expense, to the nearest military base. Being an undergraduate at M.I.T. at the time, he had the missile shipped to Hanscom Airforce Base, about 12 miles away. He then arranged for a truck, and donated the missile to a local modern art museum (I forget which one). Tax laws were a little different in those days, and if you donated something to an art museum, you could deduct not the just the purchase price, but the original value of the object, which was considerable. Income averaging allowed him to spread the “loss” out over a number of years so that he didn’t have to pay taxes for a long time! He was legendary at M.I.T. for quite a while, and acquired the nickname “Missile” Seitz.

(17) EARLY RELEASE SUPER BOWL AD. Does having the Aquaman actor in it make this an item of genre interest? You decide! Zach Braff, Jason Momoa and Donald Faison appear in a Flashdance-themed Super Bowl commercial for T-Mobile.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The official trailer for Despicable Me 4 is out. The movie comes to theaters on July 3.

In the first Despicable Me movie in seven years, Gru, the world’s favorite supervillain-turned-Anti-Villain League-agent, returns for an exciting, bold new era of Minions mayhem in Illumination’s Despicable Me 4.

Following the 2022 summer blockbuster phenomenon of Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru, which earned almost $1 billion worldwide, the biggest global animated franchise in history now begins a new chapter as Gru (Oscar® nominee Steve Carrell) and Lucy (Oscar® nominee Kristen Wiig) and their girls —Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Madison Polan)—welcome a new member to the Gru family, Gru Jr., who is intent on tormenting his dad.

Gru faces a new nemesis in Maxime Le Mal (Emmy winner Will Ferrell) and his femme fatale girlfriend Valentina (Emmy nominee Sofia Vergara), and the family is forced to go on the run. The film features fresh new characters voiced by Joey King (Bullet Train), Emmy winner Stephen Colbert (The Late Show with Stephen Colbert) and Chloe Fineman (Saturday Night Live). Pierre Coffin returns as the iconic voice of the Minions and Oscar® nominee Steve Coogan returns as Silas Ramsbottom.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Anne Marble, Steve Vertlieb, Heath Row, Kathy Sullivan, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Thomas the Red.]

Pixel Scroll 12/31/23 The Fewer Pixels, The Less Scrolling

(1) PARENTS OF THE YEAR. Cora Buhlert has posted a wonderful pair of articles explaining her selections for two annual awards she presents.

First: “The 2023 Darth Vader Parenthood Award for Outstandingly Horrible Fictional Parents”.

…The cartoonishly evil parents, meanwhile, show kids that no matter how bad their relationship with their parents may be, at least their parents are not Darth Vader and don’t blow up entire star systems. But these characters also serve another purpose, namely to show kids that they need not be defined by who their parents are. They can be different, they can be more. Luke Skywalker could grow up to become a Jedi knight, even though his biological father did his utmost to exterminate them. Adora could overcome a lifetime of gaslighting to become She-Ra, the heroine she was always meant to be. Particularly to kids growing up in less than ideal circumstances, these are very powerful messages….

The winner is:

Miro of the House of Niros, High King of Eternia

Some of you may now be asking, “Who?”, while others may be wondering “Why?” Like I said, this winner will probably be a little controversial….

For the reasons Cora gives I didn’t feel much was spoiled by naming the winner here. Because now you want to go and read the post just to find out who the heck that is.

However, when it comes to the winner of “The 2023 Jonathan and Martha Kent Fictional Parent of the Year Award”, I don’t want to steal any thunder from the presentation:

… As for why I felt the need to introduce a companion award, depictions of parenthood in popular culture have been undergoing a paradigm shift in the past few years with more positive portrayals of supportive and loving parents and fewer utterly terrible parents. Personally, I believe that this shift is a very good thing, because the reason that I started the Darth Vader Parenthood Award in the first place is because I was annoyed by all the terrible parents in pop culture. For while most real world parents may not be perfect, at least they do their best….

(2) HONOURS LIST 2024. The UK’s New Year Honours List 2024 includes a number of celebrities, a couple of them of genre interest. In the Guardian: “Glastonbury founder and TikTok organist make new year honours list”.

…The author Kate Mosse received a CBE, which she said was a recognition of the importance of the Women’s prize for fiction, of which she is a co-founder.

The novelist, 62, whose books have been translated into 38 languages and published in more than 40 countries, is best known for the Languedoc Trilogy – Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel – and The Joubert Family Chronicles – The Burning Chambers, The City Of Tears and The Ghost Ship.

She has been made a CBE for services to literature, to women and to charity.

The Women’s prize for fiction is now one of the biggest literary prizes in the world. Mosse said everybody involved in it “deserves all the accolades they could have”, as she applauded the “group effort”.

She added: “Quite often those things do get overlooked, not deliberately, but just there isn’t a system for them.

“So it does feel that although obviously this is for me, it’s very much an acknowledgment of the importance of the Women’s prize, and that it matters that women support other women.”

Elsewhere in literature, the bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith was knighted. The creator of The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series as well as the 44 Scotland Street novels has been given a knighthood for services to literature, academia and charity.

In film and television, the director and producer Sir Ridley Scott, whose works include Gladiator, Alien and Napoleon, is made a Knight Grand Cross, upgrading his previous knighthood, while Game Of Thrones actor Oliver Ford Davies has said he is “honoured” to be made an OBE. The performer, 84, best known for his Shakespearean stage work, found new fans as Maester Cressen in the HBO fantasy series and as Sio Bibble in the Star Wars prequel trilogy films released in 1999, 2002 and 2005. He has been recognised for services to drama….

(3) ABDICATING IN JANUARY. “Queen Margrethe II of Denmark to Step Down” reports the New York Times. And why is that story part of today’s Scroll? Keep reading.

…Much of the queen’s popularity has been tied to her personality and artistic streak. Even after she entered the line of succession at 13, she pursued her interest in art, earning a diploma in prehistoric archaeology at the University of Cambridge and studying at Aarhus University in Denmark, the Sorbonne and the London School of Economics.

She also produced her own artwork, including paintings shown in museums, decoupages — a type of cut-and-paste artwork — and drawings. (Her illustrations were adapted for a “Lord of the Ring” book under a pseudonym, Ingahild Grathmer; the book’s publisher approached her after she sent copies to J.R.R. Tolkien as fan mail in 1970.)

More recently, she served as the costume and production designer for “Ehrengard: The Art of Seduction,” a Netflix film adapting a fairy tale, that includes wardrobes and sets based on her drawings and other artworks. “I work when I can find the time,” she told The New York Times this past year, “and I seem usually to be able to find the time.”…

(4) WHO’S TO BLAME FOR BILLIONAIRES’ PET PROJECTS. Noah Smith offers a post “In defense of science fiction” at Noahpinion.

As everyone who reads this blog knows, I’m a big fan of science fiction (see my list of favorites from last week)! So when people start bashing the genre, I tend to leap to its defense. Except this time, the people doing the bashing are some serious heavyweights themselves — Charles Stross, the celebrated award-winning sci-fi author, and Tyler Austin Harper, a professor who studies science fiction for a living. Those are certainly not the kind of opponents one takes on lightly! (And I happen to like and respect both of them.)

So yes, I’m still going to leap to science fiction’s defense, but I’m going to do it very carefully….

… Instead of billionaires mistaking well-intentioned sci-fi authors’ intentions, Stross is alleging that the billionaires are getting Gernsback and Campbell’s intentions exactly right. His problem is simply that Gernsback and Campbell were kind of right-wing, at least by modern standards, and he’s worried that their sci-fi acted as propaganda for right-wing ideas.

This is a much simpler argument, but it’s also harder to evaluate. Where does the causality lie? Do right-wing billionaires arrive at their political convictions by reading right-wing sci-fi? Or do they simply prefer literature that’s aligned with their existing values? This is really hard to know. For what it’s worth, my impulse says it’s the latter — there’s such an ideological and stylistic diversity of sci-fi out there in the world that anyone who reads it widely will encounter a very wide range of political viewpoints. For every Robert Heinlein there’s an Ursula K. LeGuin, for every Vernor Vinge there’s an Iain M. Banks. Heck, there’s even a Charles Stross….

(5) SPUFFORD ON ‘THE BOOKS OF MY LIFE’. [Item by Steven French.] “Francis Spufford: ‘It was the sorrow of my life at age 10 that there wasn’t one more Narnia book to read’” he tells the Guardian. Spufford is a prize-winning non-fiction and fiction author who gives several shout-outs to SFF works here.

(Regarding the “one more Narnia book”, according to Wikipedia, “In March 2019, it was reported that Spufford had written an unofficial novel, The Stone Table, set in the universe of C. S. Lewis’s Narnia series. This takes place during a gap in fictional fiction between The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Spufford distributed self-printed copies to friends. The novel was praised as a ‘seamless recreation of Lewis’s writing-style’. The author hoped to obtain permission from the C. S. Lewis estate to publish it commercially. In the absence of permission, the earliest publication date would be 2034, seventy years after Lewis’s death, when the copyright on the original books will expire in the UK.”)

My earliest reading memory
Tolkien’s The Hobbit, read around the time of my sixth birthday, when I was home from school with mumps. It turned me from a painstaking decoder of printed letters into someone flying through a new medium. Books have been portals for me ever since. Many other things too, but portals first.

My favourite book growing up
CS Lewis’s Narnia books. It was the sorrow of my life at the age of 10 that there wasn’t one more of them to read. A few years ago I found myself in a position to do something about that, at least for myself, but (cough) I am under legal obligations not to talk about it.

The book that changed me as a teenager
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin, which did things I didn’t know were allowed with gender and with the shape of story, and showed me that an imagined setting, a built world, could ring as true narratively as anything observed in the rooms or the streets of this world.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 31, 1949 Ellen Datlow, 74. I first encountered her stellar editing when I picked up the first volume of what would Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror but was then just Year’s Best Fantasy, then edited by both her and Terri Windling (who with volume two explicitly took over the the horror selection.) (From the sixteenth volume to the last one, the twenty-second,  Windling was replaced by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant.) Any volume has enough excellent fiction for many evening of great reading. 

(The packager for these told me in an email conversation that there were discussions about bring these out as epubs. Unfortunately as those rights weren’t incorporated in the original contracts with the authors, that wasn’t possible.) 

Not surprisingly, the series picked up multiple World Fantasy Awards. And a Stoker as well. 

Speaking of Awards, let’s do this now. Ellen Datlow has won the Hugo for Best Professional Editor twice, and the Hugo for Best Editor – Short Form six times. Her editing work has garnered five Bram Stoker Awards, two International Horror Guild Awards for Best Anthology, three Shirley Jackson Awards for Best Anthology, as well as ten World Fantasy Awards. She was named recipient of the  Karl Edward Wagner Award, given at the British Fantasy Convention, for “outstanding contribution to the genre”. And she has received the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Horror Writers Association. I’m very, very impressed. 

Now back to her actual editing work. So what else should we be looking at? Well everything she’s edited is top notch but that goes with saying, so let’s narrow down just a bit by dealing with what I like the best. 

Thirty years ago, she and Terri Windling (no surprise  who her co-editor was) started out their Fairy Tale anthologies which I’m going to list all of their titles here because I adore them — Snow White, Blood RedBlack Thorn, White Rose, Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears,  Black Swan, White RavenSilver Birch, Blood Moon and Black Heart, Ivory Bones. As always their choices in stories are exquisite. 

Next for me in terms of how great they are is the Mythic Fiction anthologies, again edited with Windling. There’s four and I’ll single out The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest and The Coyote Road as the ones I like the best.

Ok, so there’s one-offs of which she’s done at least three dozen to date. My absolute favorite? Another one she edited with Windling — Salon Fantastique: Fifteen Original Tales of Fantasy. No theme, just great stories.  Haunted Legends edited with Nick Mamatas is themed obviously and you can tell that theme; it is deliciously scary, and the Hauntings anthology which edited by no one but herself is darker and has more of a bite to it. 

Supernatural Noir, another one of her solo efforts, is worth reading just for Caitlín R. Kiernan’s “The Maltese Unicorn”. Seriously it is. 

She’s knee deep in the blood associated with editing, sorry I couldn’t resist, her ongoing The Best Horror of The Year anthology series, now fourteen volumes long. And if you want to see what she thinks is interesting for genre books, she does that over at Cemetery Dance in The Last Ten Books I’ve Read column, the last being the March issue of this year as that publication isn’t known for its regular date of coming out. Ever.  

David G. Hartwell, left, Ellen Datlow, right, at the 2015 World Fantasy Con. Photo by and © Andrew Porter.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! covers all the monsters’ New Year’s Resolutions.  

(8) TOPICS IN ANIME. A new episode of Anime Explorations has dropped just in time to wrap up the year:: Anime Explorations Podcast: Episode 15: Anime Music Videos & Arcadia of My Youth”.

This month we memorialize Leiji Matsumoto and the creator of the Anime Music Video (not necessarily in that order).

We also talked about the Macross II Kickstarter,

(9) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Mr. Sci-Fi – Marc Scott Zicree – joins a tour of Hollywood sff props in “Space Command Coolest Props Ever!!!”

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Michael Burianyk, Alexander Case, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jan Vaněk Jr.]

Pixel Scroll 12/5/23 Which Items In This Scroll Contain A Hovercraft Full Of Eels?

(1) INDIE SPIRIT. The 2024 Independent Spirit Awards nominations are out. Full list at Variety: “Indie Spirit Film and TV Nominations 2024 Revealed”.

…The annual honors recognize the best of television, as well as film…. Only new TV shows that have run for one season and were released between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 of this year are eligible for awards….

The sff epic The Last of Us received four nominations.

(2) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB speculative fiction reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Holly Black and S.L. Coney on Wednesday, December 13. The event begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern in the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs).

Holly Black

Holly Black is the #1 New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of fantasy novels, short stories, and comics. She has been a finalist for an Eisner and a Lodestar Award, and the recipient of the Mythopoeic Award, a Nebula, and a Newbery Honor. She has sold over 26 million books worldwide, and her work has been translated into over thirty languages and adapted for film. Her most recent novel is The Stolen Heir.

S. L. Coney

S. L. Coney is the author of Wild Spaces, an Esquire Best of Horror 2023 pick, and named as an author to watch by Publisher’s Weekly. Their short stories have appeared in St. Louis Noir and Gamut Magazine and their story “Abandoned Places” was picked for 2017s Best American Mystery Stories. They still hold seashells to their ears to hear the ocean speak to them, and are still deeply disappointed that their fins never grew in.

(3) SCHOLASTIC DISCONTINUES SEPARATING OUT BOOKS WITH BIPOC/QUEER CHARACTERS. Publisher’s Lunch reports:

Scholastic announced an update to its Book Fairs policy, after separating out books with BIPOC and queer characters and creators from elementary school fairs in a purported effort to protect teachers and librarians who are dealing with legislation that bans such titles. Scholastic apologized and reversed course in October, announcing that they would discontinue the share Every Story, Celebrate Every Voice a la carte collection but without additional details about the future of the program.

“From our experience in the fall, we have learned that separating out titles or highlighting titles that might make teachers and librarians vulnerable to serious legal and professional consequences is not the answer,” they state in a release.

Now, Scholastic has announced that books from the separate case—which they now call the Celebrating Voices Collection—will be integrated into the standard book fair case for the spring 2024 season, “joining a number of new titles with a wide array of representation.” All books will be delivered to schools, “which will be able to make their own local merchandising decisions, as they have always done, just like any bookstore or library.”

(4) WOOF. The Worldcon Order Of Faneditors had a collation at the Chengdu Worldcon. This year’s Official Editor (OE), Don Eastlake, has made WOOF #48 a free download at eFanzines.

WOOF is an amateur press association (apa) that has been a feature of Worldcons since 1976 thanks to its originator, the late Bruce Pelz. 

(5) WHAT A STINKER. “Doctor Who: Worst Things The Doctor Has Done”GameRant has seven of them on its list. They get even worse after this one —

Abandoning Sarah Jane Smith

The Hand of Fear (Season 14, Serial 2)

Sarah Jane Smith first appeared alongside the third Doctor in 1973. She was a determined woman who managed to infiltrate a secret research facility in her first episode, an act that caught The Doctor’s attention. He took her on board the TARDIS as his next companion, and Sarah Jane faced off against the Daleks, Cybermen, and The Master in her time. She even got to witness The Doctor regenerate into the fourth incarnation.

All of this history made it seem even stranger that The Doctor would just abandon Sarah Jane Smith when he is called back to Gallifrey by the Time Lords. He did agree to take her home, but accidentally left her in Aberdeen with the promise of returning to her. However, it is revealed later on during the tenth Doctor’s run that the two never saw each other after that, and that The Doctor chose to abandon Sarah Jane as he did not want to see her grow old.

(6) NEW SFF IN THE NYT. Amal El-Mohtar reviews new books by Vajra Chandrasekera, Avi Silver, Cadwell Turnbull, Michael Mammay and T. Kingfisher in “What’s Behind That Door?” at the New York Times.

THE SAINT OF BRIGHT DOORS (Tordotcom, 356 pp., $27.99), by Vajra Chandrasekera, is the best book I’ve read all year. Protean, singular, original, it forces me to come up with the most baffling comparisons, like: What if “Disco Elysium” were written by Sofia Samatar? At the same time, all you need to know about it is contained in its opening:

“The moment Fetter is born, Mother-of-Glory pins his shadow to the earth with a large brass nail and tears it from him. This is his first memory, the seed of many hours of therapy to come.”…

(7) FRANKLY. David Fear’s Rolling Stone review says “’Poor Things’ Is Emma Stone’s Horny, Feminist-Frankenstein Masterpiece”. (To be precise, that’s Frankenstein’s monster, of course.)

…Based on Alasdair Gray’s award-winning 1992 novel, this serrated satire from Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite) drops you into Victorian-era London, at the very moment that a young woman steps off the city’s titular bridge. She is Bella Baxter (Emma Stone), and her contemporaries might call her “simple.” Or perhaps “beastly.” She communicates by grunting, smashing plates, and high-decibel screaming. When she’s not gleefully terrorizing the servants, she hobbles unsteadily throughout the house of her guardian, Dr. Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe) — God, for short. A surgeon by trade (and judging from the jigsaw scars on his face, intimately familiar with the scalpel), he spends his off hours exploring the boundaries of bleeding-edge 19th century science….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 5, 1936 James Lee Burke, 87. James Lee Burke is a writer that I first encountered by way of his Dave Robicheaux series, the once seriously alcoholic former homicide detective in the New Orleans Police Department, Robicheaux lives in New Iberia, Louisiana, and works as a detective for the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office.

James Lee Burke

The series being set there takes full advantage of its setting. This is an extraordinary series in which people I care about have bad things happen to them and yet I keep reading the series. It has cringe-inducing moments and it is not one to read late at night, but I enjoy it immensely. 

ISFDB lists four novels in this series as having genre elements, all I assume fantasy as Burke doesn’t do SF: In the Electric Mist with Confederate DeadBurning AngelJolie Blon‘s Bounce and A Private Cathedral, the latter the newest novel.  Now I remember the scene in Electric Mist with Confederate Dead that they think might be fantastical. It might, it might not be. To say what I think would be a spoiler. 

His shorter series of which there are currently four are all much shorter than the Dave Robicheaux series which is now at twenty-three novels over thirty three years and has even spawned has two films, the first with Dave Robicheaux played by Alec Baldwin (Heaven’s Prisoners) and then Tommy Lee Jones (In the Electric Mist). I go with the latter as working in this role as the former is too handsome as the character is described in the novels. 

The Billy Bob Holland series which I’ve read is damn good. Billy Bob Holland, an attorney and former Texas Ranger, in Deaf Smith, Texas which the author admits is a sort of love affair to his birth state. The first novel, Cimarron Rose, an Edgar Award for Best Novel. Very impressive. 

Though I’ve not read them yet, I’m very interested in his series using the real life memorable Texas sheriff Hackberry Holland coming of age against the backdrop of the civil rights era in a border town with the problems of that time.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Shoe has a horrible literary pun.
  • Bizarro has a more subtle horror pun.
  • Reality Check mashes up Shakespeare and Spider-Man.
  • Existential Comics wonders a bit about relative perspectives.  Paladins and orcs, on the other hand, aren’t terribly concerned with the nuances of perspective. 
  • xkcd has a strange (of course) solar system navigation aid.

(10) DWAYNE MCDUFFIE GRANT CREATED. “There is now a Dwayne McDuffie Genius Grant Award (as there should be!)”Popverse has the story.

Dwayne McDuffie is a titan in the world of superhero comics and animation. The Milestone hero Static who you know from all the DC Comics and cartoons? That’s one of his. Marvel’s Damage Control, which is now not only in comics, but the MCU, and board games? That’s one of his as well. And that’s not to mention his foundational work on the animated series Ben 10 and Justice League Unlimited.

Although McDuffie sadly passed away in 2011, his personality and work have lived on through subsequent reprints, re-issues, collections, spinoffs to his work, and the contributions of those he helped along the way. And now if you consider yourself helped by McDuffie – as a reader or watcher of his work, as a collaborator, and/or as a friend – you can help someone on his behalf.

A non-profit organization called the Dwayne McDuffie Foundation has been started by McDuffie’s widow Charlotte (Fullerton) McDuffie, and one of its first acts is partnering with the iconic writer’s childhood school for the gifted with a “significant” scholarship called the Dwayne McDuffie Genius Grant Award….

More details are available in the announcement on the Dwayne McDuffie Facebook page.

… The main beneficiary of the Foundation at this time is Dwayne’s beloved childhood school in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan: The Roeper School, a prestigious private institution of learning for gifted students pre-K through high school.

The Dwayne McDuffie Foundation has established a significant scholarship at Roeper called the “McDuffie Genius Grant”—a moniker Dwayne himself always wanted to use.

Beginning in Fall 2023, this annual scholarship is being awarded to a young African-American student entering the Lower School, as Dwayne did, famously reminiscing that at Roeper, he finally “felt at home.”

In February 2024, a ceremony will take place at Roeper, honoring Mr. McDuffie for his humanitarianism and many professional achievements, including his inclusion in The Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture. The faculty and staff of Roeper, present and past, couldn’t be prouder of their alumnus.

(11) BARBENHEIMER Q&A. “Cillian Murphy and Margot Robbie Discuss Barbenheimer Memes, Box Office Success”. Variety thought it would be cute for the two stars to interview each other. Were they right?

ROBBIE: It was all the way along. The fact that it’s Greta Gerwig, people are like, “Greta Gerwig and a ‘Barbie’ movie, what?” And then the pictures of Ryan Gosling and me Rollerblading on Venice Beach came out and went even wider than I was expecting. I’d been thinking big for it, and it still turned out bigger than I expected.

But what about you? Did you think so many people were going to watch a movie about the making of the atomic bomb?

MURPHY: No. I don’t think any of us did. Christopher Nolan was always determined that it would be released in the summer as a big tentpole movie. That was always his plan. And he has this superstition around that date, the 21st.

ROBBIE: Do all his movies come out on that date?

MURPHY: In and around the 21st of July — they always come out then.

ROBBIE: It’s a good date. We picked that day too!

MURPHY: Yeah, I know.

(12) AARGH. “British Museum ends terrible year as punchline in Christmas cracker joke” which is repeated in the Guardian. (And here.)

The British Museum has barely been out of the headlines in 2023. First, there was the theft of 1,500 items from its collection and then it found itself in the middle of a diplomatic row over the Parthenon marbles.

Now the institution’s annus horribilis has been topped off by becoming the punchline in the year’s most popular Christmas cracker joke.

The annual competition, commissioned by the TV channel Gold, asks people to post their festive jokes to X (formerly Twitter) with a winner of the annual poll decided by the British public.

This year’s winner was written by Chris Douch from Oxfordshire who managed to combine a joke about the British Museum’s recent travails with a reference to fruity festive confectionery: “Did you hear about the Christmas cake on display in the British Museum? It was Stollen.”

The annual competition usually produces a topical winner that sends up one of the biggest stories of the year. In 2020, the winner poked fun at Dominic Cummings and his trip to Barnard Castle during the Covid-19 pandemic….

(13) HOLD THAT THOUGHT. A Scientific American article says, “Mars Can Wait. Questions Surround Settlements on Other Worlds”.

As ever-deepening turmoil engulfs Earth, daydreaming about moving to Mars might provide a pleasant break from our everyday predicaments. It is entirely understandable—and human—to grasp onto promises of a better life in a faraway place. But when Martian daydreams, in particular, turn into reality, the picture becomes less pleasant. What promise could a barren, hostile planet like Mars hold? As far as the solar system is concerned, we already inhabit a paradise.

Nevertheless, Mars is on the menu. NASA’s proposed Artemis mission ends with people planting flags on Martian soil in coming decades. China plans a sample return mission to Mars, and India plans to send another orbiter there in 2024. Even Earth’s newest space billionaire, Elon Musk, has joked about spending his last years on Mars, apparently intending to make humans a multiplanetary species…

…At face value, the long-term survival of humanity seems to provide a solid and noble cause for building permanent settlements on Mars. However, for a Mars settlement to truly mitigate extinction risks it must be adequately self-sufficient. This is unlikely to be achieved any time soon, and we may not have the time to wait. Instead, investments in global food security, meteor or comet deflection, pandemic preparedness and global peace appear far more cost-effective than building a settlement off-world. Additionally, some risks may follow us to Mars , such as rogue artificial intelligence, meaning that a settlement on Mars does not lower the total risk of extinction that much. Therefore, while in the long term safeguarding humanity may provide a good reason to settle other planets, it does not give us an urgent one….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “10 Funny James Bond Commercials”.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/5/23 The Fan-Kzin Scrolls

(1) NICOLA GRIFFITH Q&A. “’Hild’ sequel author Nicola Griffith talks about ‘Menewood’” in the Christian Science Monitor.

When did you first learn about the real Hild?

I love old abbeys, old castles, all that kind of thing. But I had never been to [the ruins of Whitby] Abbey until I was in my early 20s. I crossed the threshold of the abbey, and it was like stepping into Narnia. The world just changed. You know when some people talk about the skin of the Earth being thin in some places, this sense of immanence? It was like that for me. 

I read in a tourist pamphlet about St. Hilda of Whitby, who founded the abbey, and I wanted to learn more, but there were no books about her. 

My question was, why is this woman, from a time when we’re told that women had no power, no influence, no significance whatsoever, still remembered 1,400 years later? Nobody could tell me. I was on fire to find out; I thought what we knew of history must be wrong. This could not have happened if what we think of as history is actually true. So I basically started this enormous controlled experiment. I rebuilt the seventh century. I mean, I researched before I even wrote a word.

I’d been researching that book [“Hild”] for 20 years. I’d been reading everything you could possibly think of, all the medieval plants, everybody’s lists of grave goods. I followed all the archeology magazines and blogs and journals, and I read about the weather. I researched the flora, fauna, jewelry, making textiles. And then the day before my birthday, I thought, I cannot start another year without having done this book. So I sat down and said, I’m going to write one paragraph. And so I did. And there was Hild. And she was 3 years old and sitting under a tree. And I thought, that’s how I’m going to do it. She’s going to learn the world along with the reader.

(2) LE GUIN VIDEOS PART FOUR. The Journey That Matters is a series of six short videos from Arwen Curry, the director and producer of Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, a Hugo Award-nominated 2018 feature documentary about the iconic author.

In the fourth of the series, Khadija Abdalla Bajaber introduces “There I Am on the Page,” in which Ursula and other writers—including Nisi Shawl and adrienne maree brown—reflect on Ursula’s decision to make many of her characters people of color. Watch  “Ursula K. Le Guin on Writing Characters of Color” at Literary Hub.

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present David D. Levine and Robert Levy on Wednesday, October 11 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Where: KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs)

DAVID D. LEVINE

David D. Levine is the author of Andre Norton Nebula Award winning novel Arabella of Mars, sequels Arabella and the Battle of Venus and Arabella the Traitor of Mars, and over fifty SF and fantasy stories, some collected in the award-winning Space Magic. His story “Tk’Tk’Tk” won the Hugo, and he has been shortlisted for awards including the Hugo, Nebula, Campbell, and Sturgeon. His latest novel is The Kuiper Belt Job.

ROBERT LEVY

Robert Levy’s novel The Glittering World was nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award and the Lambda Literary Award. Shorter work has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science FictionNightmareBlack Static, and The Best Horror of the Year. He teaches at the Stonecoast MFA Program, and his collection No One Dies from Love: Dark Tales of Loss and Longing is out now from Word Horde.

(4) NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE. Jon Fosse has won the 2023 Nobel Prize for Literature “for his innovative plays and prose which give voice to the unsayable.”

(5) LAURIE HALSE ANDERSON DONATES $100K TO PEN AMERICA’S FIGHT AGAINST BOOK BANS. The 2023 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award laureate, American writer Laurie Halse Anderson, is donating $100,000 of her prize money to PEN America’s fight against book bans.

…Many of Laurie Halse Anderson’s books are frequently found on lists of banned books: books that, in some states or districts in the United States, are not allowed to be read in schools or bought by public libraries because of their subject matter or plot. Earlier this year, Anderson received the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the world’s largest award for children’s and YA literature. The prestigious award comes with a cash prize of SEK 5 million ($452,000).

“Public libraries and schools have a duty to offer a broad range of books to the communities that they serve. People who find a book that they don’t like don’t have to read it. They do not have the right to dictate what books other people, or other people’s children, can read. I am proud to support PEN America and their fight against book banners and others bent on destroying our freedom to read. Remember: censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance”, says Laurie Halse Anderson….

(6) THEY WENT APE. Matthew Hays recalls how “50 Years Ago, One of the Gutsiest, Strangest Sci-Fi Movie Franchises Came to a Close with Battle for the Planet of the Apes” at Literary Hub.

When Planet of the Apes opened in cinemas in 1968, its box-office success was surprising even to the filmmakers themselves. After all, the film featured an astronaut survivor named Taylor (played by Oscar winner Charlton Heston) facing off against a planet of actors wearing elaborate ape makeup.

The possibility that the film would seem a giant joke to audiences had already crossed the minds of the suits at 20th Century Fox. The studio had set up an audience screening before they greenlit the project. Producer Arthur Jacobs was commissioned to film a 15-minute short film that would include some actors in ape makeup; if one person in the audience laughed, there would be no movie. No one laughed, and a legendary science fiction film was born.

To kids (I first saw the film at age six), Planet of the Apes seemed a basic movie about an astronaut landing on a planet run by a different species. But when the film arrived, many adults got the film’s multilayered jokes and running commentary: screenwriters Rod Serling and Michael Wilson (adapting Pierre Boulle’s novel) packed every imaginable bit of baggage that would fit into their carefully crafted Trojan horse. As New Yorker critic Pauline Kael immediately intuited, Planet of the Apes was a hate letter to America, full of commentary about slavery, manifest destiny, religious fundamentalism, creationism versus evolution, colorism and racism generally. The extensive medical experimentation done on the humans by apes is a clear reference to the Tuskegee Experiments. That some thought the apes were meant to represent Black Americans was a fundamental misreading of the film; the ape society is clearly a parody of American society, with all of its contradictions (especially the purported separation of church and state).

(7) WRITING POEMS, AND WAITING TO BE ARRESTED. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] With Chengdu Worldcon in mind, it is worth checking out today’s BBC World Service programme on the life of a Uyghur artist (poet, film and documentary maker) in China.

The programme is very Orwellian.

Tahir Izgil is one of the most highly respected living Uyghur poets. Tahir was born near Kashgar, in Xinjiang province, and from an early age he was immersed in the poetry of his culture. When the Chinese state clamped down on the Uyghur community, he lived under constant threat of arrest, and says he couldn’t even perform his poems. So he decided to try and escape his homeland…

You can listen to it here: “Writing poems, and waiting to be arrested”.

(8) 24TH FANTASIC SHORT STORY CONTEST. [Item by Ahrvid Engholm, contest administrator.] Results are in for the “24th Fantastic Short Story Contest” or “Fantastiknovelltävlingen”, probably the oldest running writing contest in Sweden, organized by writing E-mail list SKRIVA. (The term “fantastik” is here often used for sf, fantasy and horror, the “fantastic” genres.)

1st prize: “Der Berliner Underwellen”, by Kristian Schultz

2nd prize: “Cladosporium¨, by Isak Laestander

3rd prize: “The Cleaning Day”, by Kristian Schulz

There also were five “honorable mentions”.

A total of ca €200 is handed out in prize money plus a diploma and a secret prize… The Google English translation version of the result announcement

The winner 2023 Kristin Schultz also grabbed 3rd place, and despite having a German sounding title — it’s set in Berlin — the short story was in Swedish. An edited summary of the jury’s comments, authors P Lindestrand, K Bjällersted-Mickos and N Krog:

“…well-balanced description of a relationship in disintegration…Very eerie environments and Lovecraftian abominations that dwell in dark cellars…exciting and evocative story about…an underground tunnel populated by a hungry monster. The ending is dramatic, well written and classic…Wonderfully well-written and well-thought-out story about a Mathias and Klara who go on group sightseeing in the Berlin underground…Soon total chaos breaks out. The short story is well structured…A pleasure to read.”

Next contest starts in spring 2024. It will be the 25th and a silver jubilee!

(9) FAN HISTORY ZOOM: EVOLUTION OF FAN ART. The Fan History Project has another great FANAC Fan History Zoom session coming up coordinated by webmaster Edie Stern.

  • Evolution of Fan Art with legendary fan artists Grant Canfield, Tim Kirk, Jim Shull and Dan Steffan.

Sunday, October 15, 2023. Time: 4 pm EDT, 1 pm PDT, 9 pm BST (UK) and 7 am (Oct. 16, Melbourne, AU)

To attend, please send a note to [email protected]

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 5, 1945 Judith Kerman, 78. Can we call her a polymath? She’s a translator, publisher, academic, anthologist and poet.  All of her poetry, collected in Uncommonplaces: Poems of the Fantastic, is well worth your time. She did two non-fiction works of which I’m recommending one, “Retrofitting Blade Runner: Issues in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”, as I’ve a Jones for that literature.
  • Born October 5, 1949 Peter Ackroyd, 74. His best known genre work is likely Hawksmoor which tells the tale of a London architect building a church and a contemporary detective investigating horrific murderers involving that church. Highly recommended. The House of Doctor Dee is genre fiction as is The Limehouse Golem and The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein.  I thought Hawksmoor had been turned into a film but it has not. But he has a credit for The Limehouse Golem which is his film work. 
  • Born October 5, 1952 Clive Barker, 71. Horror writer, series include the Hellraiser and the Book of Art, which is not to overlook The Abarat Quintet which is quite superb. Though not recent, The Essential Clive Barker: Selected Fiction published some twenty years ago contains more than seventy excerpts from novels and plays and four full-length short stories. His Imaginer series collects his decidedly strange art.  There has been a multitude of comic books, both by him and by others based on his ideas.  My personal fave work by him is the Weaveworld novel.
  • Born October 5, 1959 Rich Horton, 64. Editor of three anthology series — Fantasy: Best of The Year and Science Fiction: Best of The Year, merged into The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy in 2010. He wrote a review column for Locus for twenty years, signing off this past February. His Strange at Ecbatan blog includes reviews, criticism, and a well-received series that proposes Hugo finalists to fill in the old years when only winners were announced, or even before the award was created.
  • Born October 5, 1971 — Paul Weimer, 52. Writer, Reviewer, and Podcaster, also known as @PrinceJvstin. An ex-pat New Yorker living in Minnesota, he has been reading science fiction and fantasy for over 40 years and exploring the world of roleplaying games for more than 35 years. A three-time Hugo finalist for Best Fan Writer (2020-2022), he is a prolific reviewer for Nerds of a Feather and contributes elsewhere, including Tor.com, The Skiffy and Fanty Show, A Green Man Review, and here at File 770. He also contributes to the Hugo-nominated fancast The Skiffy and Fanty Show and the SFF Audio podcasts. He was the 2017 Down Under Fan Fund delegate to the Australia and New Zealand National Conventions, and his e-book DUFF trip report, consisting of more than 300 pages of travel stories and stunning photographs, is still available here.
  •  Born October 5, 1974 Colin Meloy, 49. He’s best known as the frontman of the The Decemberists, a band that makes use of folklore quite a bit,  but he has also written the neat and charmingly weird children’s  fantasy Wildwood chronicles which is illustrated by his wife, Carson Ellis.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) GET READY FOR LIFE DAY. Marvel comics will publish four Life Day variant covers in November – in time for the Wookiee celebration of Life Day on November 17.  

Each November, the galaxy far, far away celebrates family, joy, and harmony on Life Day, and this year, Marvel Comics will commemorate this longstanding Wookiee tradition by reflecting these values in all-new variant covers!

 Gracing the covers of STAR Wars, Star Wars: Darth Vader, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra, and Star Wars: Bounty Hunters, the four new Life Day Variant Covers come from artists Mike Del Mundo and Rod Reis and feature characters from throughout various eras of Star Wars storytelling, including nods to the original Star Wars Holiday Special. Fans can enjoy heartwarming moments like young Anakin Skywalker sharing a meal with his mother Shmi, Han Solo and Chewie decorating, Chef Gormaanda whipping up a delicious feast, and Doctor Aphra and Krrsantan reuniting for the season!

(13) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to relive Capclaves past and present during Eating the Fantastic’s lightning-round Capclave Donut Carnival.

I love Eating the Fantastic’s lightning-round donut episodes, for which I park myself in a heavily trafficked area of a con with a dozen donuts and chat with anybody who’s up for trading five minutes of talk for a freebie. It’s a fun contrast to my usual well-researched one-on-one conversations, in that it’s completely spontaneous, since I never know the identities of my guests until their eyes alight on my donuts and they choose themselves.

In 2016, listeners were able to eavesdrop on the Readercon Donut Spectacular, then in 2017 the Balticon Donut Extravaganza, in 2018 the Nebula Awards Donut Jamboree, and in 2019 — before the pandemic forced me to take a break from such things — the StokerCon Donut Spooktacular.

Because Capclave — which ended the day before yesterday as this episode goes live — not only has a patio, but this year, unlike last, had weather warm enough for us to gather there, I was able to bring back that tradition. On Saturday afternoon, I sat down out on the patio with two boxes of donuts from Donut King in Kensington, Maryland, and waited for potential guests to materialize.

So join us during the lightning-round Capclave Donut Carnival, where you’ll hear R. Z. Held and me bond over rejection, David Hacker explain his love of listening to writers read, Michael Dirda recall why Orson Scott Card once kneeled before him on an elevator, James Morrow share his fascination with Charles Darwin, how Katy Lewis found her husband through Dungeons and Dragons, Michael Walsh’s favorite moment as a con chair (which involved Howard Waldrop, Gardner Dozois, and George R. R. Martin), Bill Lawhorn clarify the creation of the bronze dodo, Sarah Pinsker reveal how and why her first science fiction convention was Capclave, Adeena Mignogna explain why space is cool but space travel gets really hot, Mike Zipzer’s memories of Terry Pratchett’s surprise visit, Sarah Mitchell’s arranging of a secret con wedding, Sunny Moraine opine on how the world’s response to COVID-19 changes our ideas of what would happen in a real-world zombie apocalypse, John Pomeranz chat about how the infamous Disclave Great Flood thrust him into being a hotel liaison — and much more!

(14) WOOF 2023. [Item by Rich Lynch.] WOOF(the Worldcon Order Of Faneditors) will have a collation at the upcoming Worldcon in Chengdu.  This year’s Official Editor (OE) is Don Eastlake. 

WOOF is an amateur press association (apa) that has been a feature of Worldcons since 1976 thanks to its originator, the late Bruce Pelz.  For those who will be attending this year’s Worldcon, there will be a WOOF collection box at the Worldcon for printed fanzines.  Alternatively, you can email your WOOFzine as a PDF to <[email protected]>. Your contribution must be received by October 22, Chengdu time. After the deadline passes, the OE will collate all fanzines received into a single PDF document and this assembled mailing will then be made available for download and viewing at efanzines.com, where several previous mailings of WOOF are now archived.  (It’s not yet known if there will be any printed copies.)

(15) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [By Ersatz Culture.]

Procedure for Chengdu bid supporters to be able to enter the lottery https://weibo.com/5726230680/NmqACu8fo

Following on from recent items, File 770 commenter Adaoli has documented the process that (Chinese?) supporters of the Chengdu site selection bid have to go through, in order to enter the lottery to attend any of the main ceremonies.  (I don’t think this particular quirk was mentioned in those earlier updates, because I didn’t — and still don’t — fully grok all the details.)  In my understanding, anyone who had Chengdu membership through supporting that bid — as opposed to buying a new membership or ticket — doesn’t have the purchase number that is necessary to fill in the lottery application, and so they have to go through this process.  Amongst other things, this involves calling a telephone helpline.

Some initial Weibo comments about the apparent lack of foreign/Western guests

Via Google Translate.  Poster’s identities have been removed, as have the names of authors, which has involved some minor editing for readability.  There are multiple comments from certain posters, so I wouldn’t claim that this is a representative sample of Chinese fandom by any means.

  • Guest of honor Lukyanenko did not appear (understandably). The willingness of foreign science fiction people to participate in the conference is indeed too low (visible to the naked eye).  (I suspect that last bit would be more accurately translated as “invisible to the naked eye”.)
  • Many authors who have been inactive for many years have been brought up to make up the number. Foreign guests invited many cartoonists and artists who are not well-known in China. There were only four well-known foreign writers. Yes, this is really embarrassing.
  • There is no publicity outside. When I helped distribute flyers at the Japan Science Fiction Convention in August, many people who sold doujinshi didn’t know it was held in Chengdu.  (FWIW, this poster has Korean hangul characters in their username, and Weibo indicates they posted that comment from a Japanese IP address.)
  • [In] 1991, there were 45 foreign guests at the WSF conference in Chengdu.
  • Let’s not talk about European and American writers. I didn’t see the writers from neighboring Japan, [Names of 8 Japanese writers omitted.]  It feels not much different from domestic science fiction conventions.
  • I checked that there were probably more than 120 foreign guests attending the event in Yokohama 2007. There were approximately 1,210 foreign participants at that conference (the total number of participants was 2,788) 

At time of submitting this item, I’ve not seen any general reaction to the schedule – although as the announcement on Weibo went out at 22:52 local time, I’m hoping there’ll be more commentary tomorrow.

Video posted showing the interior of the con site https://weibo.com/6088652407/4952842881735936

Chengdu-based KanDu News posted this 2:42″ video to Weibo, which is the best look yet at the interior of the con venue.  The opening captions indicate it was filmed yesterday (October 3rd), and there’s clearly a lot of interior construction work still underway.

From 0:30 to 0:55 shows the “Hugo Hall”, which is 4000 square meters. The guy talking indicates there’s something special about the video wall; it looks to be translucent and/or visible from both sides?  The area shown between 0:55 – 01:10 is (I think) the area for the press and media, and is 1000 square meters.  

 The structure shown between 1:35 and 2:20 seems like it’s a reproduction of something from the Wandering Earth 2 film, although I haven’t seen that, so I’m unclear what exactly it is. 

That organization also posted a video yesterday composed of night drone shots of the exterior — https://weibo.com/6088652407/NmaFNiigG.

Tibet Airlines magazine interview https://weibo.com/6045346855/NlSyioyiG

Via the Weibo account of Chengdu SF publisher 8 Light Minutes, (what I assume is) the October issue of the in-flight magazine of Tibet Airlines has a 6-page interview with Best Editor (Short Form) finalist Yang Feng, with various photos relating to the history of Chinese SF and the upcoming Worldcon

(16) WE APOLOGISE FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] A time-loop, Groundhog Day-type audio play on BBC Radio 4, “We Apologise for Any Inconvenience.”

The being-trapped-in-a-repeating-time-loop trope has an early exemplar film in Groundhog Day (1993) but that was decidedly fantasy.

The SF version was 12:01 (1993) in which the loop was caused by technology. However, the trope’s provenance does not begin there: there was the earlier, Oscar short-listed, short film, 12:01 (1990) which in turn was based on the short story ’12:01 P.M.’ (1973) by Dick Lupoff (who sadly died in 2020).

Alas, challenging Hollywood as to potential plagiarism is arguably hard: it has deep pockets. But you can’t keep a good trope treatment down, and the idea of being stuck in a recurring time loop has been used in a fairly recent Star Trek series as well as an episode of Stargate as well as elsewhere.

And now the BBC has just gotten in on the act with a play on Radio 4 this week: We Apologise for Any Inconvenience, only this time, the principal protagonists are not those actually stuck in the loop themselves but others who happen to encounter the hapless looper that day… 

Sebastian Baczkiewicz’s drama takes us to an anonymous northern station at the heart of the rail network on the day everything grinds to a halt. Hundreds of lives go into limbo but one person claims to have been stuck there longer than anyone else. Will his groundhog day ever end? 

You can listen to it here.

(17) TOP STREAMING. JustWatch lists the top 10 most streamed movies and TV shows for the month of September.

(18) OVER 20K YEARS OLD. A U.S. Geological Survey “Study confirms age of oldest fossil human footprints in North America”.

In September 2021, U.S. Geological Survey researchers and an international team of scientists announced that ancient human footprints discovered in White Sands National Park were between 21,000 and 23,000 years old. This discovery pushed the known date of human presence in North America back by thousands of years and implied that early inhabitants and megafauna co-existed for several millennia before the terminal Pleistocene extinction event. In a follow-up study, published today in Science, researchers used two new independent approaches to date the footprints, both of which resulted in the same age range as the original estimate. 

The 2021 results began a global conversation that sparked public imagination and incited dissenting commentary throughout the scientific community as to the accuracy of the ages. 

“The immediate reaction in some circles of the archeological community was that the accuracy of our dating was insufficient to make the extraordinary claim that humans were present in North America during the Last Glacial Maximum. But our targeted methodology in this current research really paid off,” said Jeff Pigati, USGS research geologist and co-lead author of a newly published study that confirms the age of the White Sands footprints….

In addition to the pollen samples, the team used a different type of dating called optically stimulated luminescence, which dates the last time quartz grains were exposed to sunlight. Using this method, they found that quartz samples collected within the footprint-bearing layers had a minimum age of ~21,500 years, providing further support to the radiocarbon results…

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George is there when “The Eggplant Emoji Finds Out” what everybody uses it for.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Kathy Sullivan, Scott Edelman, Joe Siclari, Rich Lynch, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Ersatz Culture for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 9/14/23 There Are Some Things Money Can’t Buy; For Everything Else, There’s Pixel Scroll

(1) TOP PEOPLE. Writer Ted Chiang, filmmaker Lilly Wachowski, manga creator Rootport, and artist Kelly McKernan are some of the recognizable names who are not CEOs or scientists on TIME’s list of “The 100 Most Influential People in AI 2023”.

(2) COLLATERAL DAMAGE OF LISTS. “Here we go again. Another badly skewed list of fantasy books recommended for newcomers” – Juliet E. McKenna tees off. Which list? I don’t know, but they keep coming along.

Must be a day with a Y in it. Yes, well-informed readers are pushing back against this particular dated, limited and male-dominated list, and no, I’m not going to link to it and argue the toss over every title. There’s a wider point to be made.

Women SF&F writers don’t take these best-of lists, these recommended-for-award-nominations and shortlists, these articles and review columns that erase us ‘personally’. We object because they damage us professionally. The same is true for every under-represented group excluded from these lists. And yes, the male authors writing the progressive, informed and thought-provoking SF&F which is being ignored have a right to feel aggrieved as well.

When newcomers to fantasy fiction see the most easily-found review coverage and online discussion is all about grimdark books from big publishers, with stories about blokes in cloaks, written by authors like Macho McHackenslay, that’s what they will buy. Or they will be completely put off and go elsewhere in search of fiction where they see themselves and their concerns represented. They will never know what they’re looking for can be found in SF&F.

Either way, six months down the line, the big publisher’s accountants at head office look at the sales figures and see Macho McHackenslay is one of their bestsellers. The order goes out to ask literary agents for more of the same. Because big publishing is a numbers game, and it skews towards repeating successes rather than promoting innovation.

Meantime, an editor will be arguing the case to give another contract to P.D.Kickassgrrl. He insists the body count and hardcore ethics of P.D.Kickassgrrl’s excellent work will surely appeal to Macho McHackenslay fans, as well as whole lot of other readers. Unfortunately her sales aren’t nearly as good, because her books get far fewer reviews and other mentions. Genre magazines and blogs can have a similar skew towards established successes, arguing they have to review the books people are actually buying, because those are the writers readers are clearly interested in. The self-referential and self-reinforcing circle is complete….

(3) NATIONAL BOOK AWARD LONGLISTS ROLLING OUT. The 2023 National Book Award Longlist for Translated Literature includes one work of genre interest – Bora Chung’s collection Cursed Bunny.

Translated Literature

  • Devil of the Provinces by Juan Cárdenas and translated from the Spanish by Lizzie Davis (Coffee House)
  • Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung and translated from the Korean by Anton Hur (Algonquin)
  • Beyond the Door of No Return by David Diop and translated from the French by Sam Taylor (FSG)
  • Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck and translated from the German by Michael Hofmann (New Directions)
  • The Words That Remain by Stênio Gardel and translated from the Portuguese by Bruna Dantas Lobato (New Vessel)
  • No One Prayed Over Their Graves by Khaled Khalifa and translated from the Arabic by Leri Price (FSG)
  • This Is Not Miami by Fernanda Melchor and translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes (New Directions)
  • Abyss by Pilar Quintana and translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman (World Editions)
  • On a Woman’s Madness by Astrid Roemer and tanslated from the Dutch by Lucy Scott (Two Lines)
  • The Most Secret Memory of Men by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr and translated from the French by Lara Vergnaud (Other Press)

(4) STURGEON SYMPOSIUM. The full schedule for the 2nd Annual Sturgeon Symposium has been posted at the link. Shows the in-person and several virtual program items. Optional registration available.

(5) HWA’S NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR. Maxwell I. Gold has been installed as Executive Director of the Horror Writers Association, replacing Brad Hodson who served the HWA for ten years as Administrator.

…The HWA Hiring Committee saw a robust pool of twenty applicants and conducted six interviews in the organization’s first executive search. As HWA President and member of the hiring committee, John Lawson  noted:

“This Executive Director search was a first for the HWA, and while I expected interest in the job opening, I had no idea we’d garner the attention of such strong applicants, including those outside the HWA community. Having worked closely with Maxwell, both as Treasurer and as Interim Executive Director, I’ve witnessed firsthand his creative problem-solving and know our membership—and volunteers—will benefit from his efforts. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the outcome of this process and am proud to serve alongside Maxwell.”

Gold has served on the Board of Trustees for two years as Treasurer and will remain a non-voting member of the Board in his new role as Executive Director. Effective immediately, Michael Knost, currently running unopposed, will assume the role and responsibility of the Office of Treasurer for the Horror Writers Association….

(6) BATTLESTAR GALACTICA PICKET LINE. You’re invited to drop by on September 21.

(7) THAT SINKING FEELING. [Item by Danny Sichel.] Mickey Ralph, the lead designer for Good Omens, posted to Twitter about some logistical problems that resulted from there being a second season. Thread starts here.

(8) FOR ALL MANKIND SEASON 4. Collider unpacks “’For All Mankind’ Season 4 Teaser”. The show returns November 10 on Apple TV+.

In previous seasons, For All Mankind explored space exploration’s impact on political and cultural landscapes in different eras, from the 1970s Moon mission to the 1980s Cold War competition for lunar resources. Season 3 saw a race to conquer Mars, leading to a climactic finale.

Launching into the new millennium, Happy Valley has made remarkable strides over the past eight years since Season 3. It has rapidly expanded its presence on Mars, transforming former adversaries into valuable partners. Fast forward to 2003, and the primary focus of this space program has shifted towards capturing and mining extraordinarily precious, mineral-rich asteroids that have the potential to reshape the destinies of both Earth and Mars. However, underlying tensions among the inhabitants of the sprawling international base now jeopardize everything they have worked so diligently to achieve.

Here’s a clip of the show’s “Helios Recruitment” commercial.

Rocketing into the new millennium in the eight years since Season 3, Happy Valley has rapidly expanded its footprint on Mars by turning former foes into partners. Now 2003, the focus of the space program has turned to the capture and mining of extremely valuable, mineral-rich asteroids that could change the future of both Earth and Mars. But simmering tensions between the residents of the now-sprawling international base threaten to undo everything they are working towards.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 14, 1919 Claire P. Beck. He was a reclusive fan known as the Hermit of Lakeport, California was active in the 1930s. Editor of the Science Fiction Critic fanzine which published in four issues the first work of criticism devoted to American SF: “Hammer and Tongs,” written by his brother, Clyde F. Beck. Their publishing house was Futile Press. (Died 1999.)
  • Born September 14, 1927 Martin Caidin. His best-known novel is Cyborg which was the basis for The Six Million Dollar Man franchise. He wrote two novels in the Indiana Jones franchise and one in the Buck Rogers one as well. He wrote myriad other sf novels as well. Marooned was nominated for a Hugo at Heicon ’70 but TV coverage of Apollo XI won that year. The Six Million Dollar Man film was a finalist for Best Dramatic Presentation at Discon II which Woody Allen’s Sleeper won. (Died 1997.)
  • Born September 14, 1944 — Rowena Morrill. Well-known for her genre art, she is one of the first female artists to impact paperback cover illustration. Her notable works include The Fantastic Art of Rowena, Imagine (French publication only), Imagination (German publication only), and The Art of Rowena.  Though nominated for the Hugo four times, she never won, but garnered the British Fantasy Award, and the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. She also did the three covers you see here for the Recorded Books edition of The Lord of The Rings. OGH’s obituary for her is here. (Died 2021.)
  • Born September 14, 1950 Michael Reaves. A scriptwriter and story editor to a number of Eighties and Nineties animated television series, including Batman: The Animated SeriesDisney’s Gargoyles He-Man and the Masters of the UniverseSmurfs Space Sentinels, Star Wars: Droids and The Transformers. Live action wise, he worked on Next GenerationSlidersSwamp Thing, original Flash and Young Hercules.  He also worked on two of my favorite animated Batman films, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman. (Died 2023.)
  • Born September 14, 1961 Justin Richards, 62. Clute at ESF says “Richards is fast and competent.” Well I can certain say he’s fast as he’s turned out thirty-five Doctor Who novels which Clute thinks are for the YA market between 1994 and 2016. And he has other series going as well! Another nineteen novels written, and then there’s the Doctor Who non-fiction which runs to over a half dozen works.  He writes mainly Doctor Who novels with thirteen, so from the Eighth through the Thirteenth Doctor so far, and Creative Consultant for the BBC Books range of Doctor Who novels. He’s written novels with Professor Bernice Summerfield as the protagonist as well. And written more SF that aren’t Whovian than I could possibly list here. One such series is, as EoSF notes, “the Invisible Detective sequence, beginning with The Paranormal Puppet Show (2003; vt Double Life 2004), consists in each case of two stories: one set in the 1930s, where the four young protagonists solve sf and fantasy mysteries; the other set in the contemporary world, where a parallel tale is told.”
  • Born September 14, 1972 Jenny T. Colgan, 51. Prolific writer of short stories in the Whovian universe with a baker’s dozen to date with several centered on River Song. She novelized “The Christmas Invasion”, the first full Tenth Doctor story. She has two genre novels, Resistance Is Futile and Spandex and the City.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Wrong Hands mashes up kids’ programming with a famous horror story.
  • Wrong Hands also shows the varieties in the “film school of fish”.

(11) EMBROIDERED WORLDS KICKSTARTER PURSUES STRETCH GOALS. The Kickstarter for the “Embroidered Worlds” English translation of Ukrainian SFF is now funded as far as all stories are concerned, but now they’re working on stretch goals for illustrations and other features. Donors who support this for as little as $1 which will receive a copy of the ebook. There are just over two weeks left in the Kickstarter that will benefit not only Ukrainian writers but, it is hoped, Ukrainian illustrators.

There are several guest blogs for the Kickstarter, including this one by Michael Burianyk on “Why do we need Ukrainian stories?”.

… Because the origins of Ukraine’s cultural and political capital Kyiv are lost in the shades of unrecorded time, they are fought over by competing storytellers. To this day, historians speculate and argue and create their own legends about who and when and why. And Kyiv was for a large part of its story a post-apocalyptic city: It lay in ruins, its spectacular architecture burnt and rotting, its population ravaged and scattered — a perfect breeding ground for ghosts and angst.

Ukraine was a place of conflict, in many ways still unresolved, between the Pagan and the Christian. Priests of the new god ensured that the old, some might say more interesting, beliefs were not written down. Prince Volodymyr, the Red Sun of legend, had the wooden idol of Perun flogged and dragged into the Dnipro to drown, and one imagines that his ghost still wanders the hills of the city along with his divine siblings, Dazhbog, Stribog, and Simargl, who still haunt the wooded ravines and forests of the country — as do many other fantastic and terrible beings.

The country saw, through the centuries, hordes and armies and emperors and commissars — not so different and no more understandable than demons and invading space invaders. Ukraine saw fire and sword wielded by abominable aliens; destruction visited over terrified generations and without warning. The Ukrainian people created their own interesting champions through these times. Stories of its protectors: Volodymyr of legend again and other bogatyry, were told for consolation. Legends of the Kozaks were examples of the spirit of independence of the people and their need for liberty that permeates their souls to this day….

(12) WHERE TO SEE THE CHINESE SERIES THREE-BODY PROBLEM. Seattle PBS station KCTS 9 is going to be running the Chinese-language version of the Three-Body Problem TV series (with English subtitles). Members can stream the first episode now, and the full series starting September 23. Will it be shown on any other PBS stations? My search on the main PBS website didn’t find it, nor another search on LA PBS station KCET. Let me know if it shows up anywhere else. But you could always become a member of the Seattle station and get access to it.  

(13) MISSED THE WINDOW. “Stan Lee’s Estate Loses Yearslong Elder Abuse Lawsuit Against Former Attorney on a Technicality”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

A messy legal battle initiated by Stan Lee’s estate involving accusations of exploitation and elder abuse by the comic book legend’s inner circle has concluded, with an arbitrator siding with Lee’s former attorney that the lawsuit against him was brought too late.

The five-year legal saga was sparked by The Hollywood Reporter’s investigation into Lee’s estate, which chronicled allegations that people introduced into his life by his daughter, J.C., stole millions of dollars from him. This included Jerardo Olivarez, Lee’s ex-business manager who was given power of attorney. Olivarez allegedly insisted that Lee retain Uri Litvak as his attorney for business dealings, but he didn’t disclose a conflict of interest stemming from Litvak representing him in personal matters. A year after Olivarez was sued, Lee also named Litvak in the lawsuit calling the pair “unscrupulous businessmen, sycophants and opportunists” seeking to take advantage of him following the death of his wife.

A procedural defect in the lawsuit, however, led to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark Epstein on Tuesday entering judgment in favor of Litvak after an arbitrator found in February that the statute of limitations to sue him had expired. Lee had a one-year window starting on April 12, 2018, when the complaint against Olivarez was filed, to also name Litvak in the lawsuit. Litvak was sued on April 18, 2018, five days passed the maximum allowable time to initiate legal proceedings….

(14) KGB READINGS. Ellen Datlow shared her photos from the September 13 Fantastic Fiction at KGB readings with Josh Rountree and Benjamin Percy.

(15) DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING. It was supposed to be a tautology until it wasn’t.

(16) SF2 CONCATENATION RELEASES AUTUMN ISSUE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The N. hemisphere’s academic, autumnal edition of SF2 Concatenation is now up. Its contents are:

v33(5) 2023.9.15 — New Columns & Articles for the Autumn 2023

v33(5) 2023.9.15 — Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Reviews

v33(5) 2023.9.15 — Non-Fiction SF & Science Fact Book Reviews

Forthcoming: In November SF2 Concatenation will have the third of its four ‘Best of Nature “Futures” short stories‘ of the year, and in December a pre-Christmas final one. If you are new to the site, these are short, one-page, SF stories. They’re rather fun and well worth sitting down with a mug of tea/coffee for a few minutes read. (The Best of Nature “Futures” short stories link is to the SF2 Concatenation archive of past ‘Best of’ stories, so feel free to have a browse. Enjoy.)

(17) FUTURAMA TEASER. Animation World Network shares “Exclusive Clip: ‘Futurama: The Prince and The Product’”.

… Hulu has shared with AWN an exclusive clip from Futurama: The Prince and The Product, streaming Monday, September 18 – one of three mini-episodes slated this season that reimagine the series in a different style…. 

…In the new episode “The Prince and The Product,” the crew members, reborn as toys, find themselves in life-and-death situations and, in our exclusive sneak peek clip, “Zoidberg Gets Left Behind” a plan is made to go to Saturn and the group decides to… you guessed it! Leave Zoidberg behind….

(18) REVISION QUEST. [Item by Andrew (not Werdna).] Rebecca Watson’s video “The Long History Behind the Latest TikTok ‘No Glasses’ Scam” is about a recent Tik-Tok quack who is reviving the old Bates method – a bogus method to improve eyesight that turns up in Heinlein, Van Vogt and Pohl (and perhaps others).

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew (not Werdna), Bruce D. Arthurs, Linda Deneroff, Michael Burianyk, Danny Sichel, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 9/4/23 Scroll Harlequin, Said The Pixel Man

(1) VIRTUAL SFF CONFERENCE. The theme of the Virtual International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (VICFA), to be held November 5-11, 2023, is “AI, Algorithms, Automata and Art”  Organized by new Virtual Conference Coordinator and Afropantheologist Oghenechovwe Ekpeki. Go to the link to register.

Guests of Honor: Martha Wells, Steven Barnes, and Annalee Newitz

Guest Scholar: Alec Nevala-Lee, Wole Talabi, and Jennifer Rhee

This is a time when the fathers of AI have stepped back from their creation and finally acknowledged the catastrophic entity their privileged curiosity has developed. Artists have long warned of the potentials and dangers of artificial intelligence, and those forecasts are now being proven to be true. Current literature defining and redefining our relationship with the artificially intelligent and automated include Martha Well’s The Murderbot Diaries, Steven Barnes’s “IRL,” Annalee Newitz’s Autonomous, Ted Chiang’s “The Lifecycle of Software Objects,” Tade Thompson’s Far from the Light of Heaven, James Morrow’s “Spinoza’s Golem,” Dilman Dila’s “Red Bati,” Tlotlo Tsamaase’s “The Thoughtbox,” Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, and Anil Menon’s “The Man Without Quintessence.” Groundbreaking films and games introducing the 21st Century to the AI Age include 2001: A Space OdysseyBlade Runner, The MatrixEx MachinaGhost in the Machine, and Final Fantasy VII. Organized by new Virtual Conference Coordinator and Afropantheologist Oghenechovwe Ekpeki.

(2) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Benjamin Percy and Josh Rountree on Wednesday, September 13 beginning 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Benjamin Percy


Benjamin Percy is the author of seven novels — including The Sky Vault, published this fall by William Morrow — three story collections, and a book of essays. He writes Wolverine, X-Force, and Ghost Rider for Marvel Comics. He is a member of the WGA and has scripts in development at Sony, Paramount Plus, and Paramount Pictures.

Josh Rountree

Josh Rountree has published short fiction in a wide variety of magazines and anthologies, including Beneath Ceaseless Skies, The Deadlands, Bourbon Penn, Weird Horror, and Found: An Anthology of Found Footage Horror. His latest short story collection is Fantastic Americana and his novel The Legend of Charlie Fish is available now from Tachyon Publications.

Location: KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003. (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.)

(3) ALL ABOARD. Cass Morris begins her first fine-grained account of the experience on Disney’s Star Wars-themed Halcyon Starcruiser in “Day One on the Halcyon, Part 1” at Scribendi.

…The shuttle was so cool. It’s the most elaborate elevator anyone has ever been in, designed to very much look like the interior of a shuttle. It has viewscreens at the top where you can see other ships taking off and leaving, and then as you ascend, it goes to blue streaks — although I have some quarrel with the idea that you go through hyperspace to get up to orbit. I get that they wanted to give everyone that classic experience, but canonically, it makes no sense. You don’t go to lightspeed within atmosphere.

Another lovely blueshirt, Tara, took us up to our room, chatting a bit along the way about what brought us to the Halcyon, so we started dropping a little backstory. The only real downside to all of this was having to use our real names for check in, a problem that continued with dinner and events and such. If I had any small tweaks to suggest, it would be that they could map character names to overwrite those real names for people who come prepared! We did make it clear, though, that those were just our Earthen aliases — because we wanted it clear from go that we were there to play….

About this time, we also got our first messages from Cruise Director Lenka Mok. She introduces herself, welcomes you to the Halcyon, and then gives four dialogue options geared to start you down one of the narrative paths: Resistance, First Order, Scoundrel, or Jedi. This definitely doens’t lock you in, but it kicks things off, especially for people who don’t immediately go around the ship looking for trouble. Noah picked the scoundrel answer; I picked Resistance….

(4) MAKING BAYCON. Galactic Journey pops in for a visit at the 1968 Worldcon: “[September 4, 1968] Open your Golden Gate (Baycon: Worldcon 1968)”.

…Worldcon exploded in attendance last year, in part thanks to the influence of Star Trek, and it shows no sign of fading.  Nearly 1500 people came to the Claremont Hotel in placid, undramatic Berkeley, California for a weekend of fan interaction….

I expect “undramatic” was intended ironically, and yet, The Traveler makes no mention of the whiff of tear gas that reached fans in the Claremont from the demonstrations happening down the hill.

(5) FREE TIME READING DOWN IN UK. “More than half of UK children do not read in their spare time, survey reveals” – the Guardian has the story.

More than half of children and young people do not enjoy reading in their free time, according to a survey from the National Literacy Trust (NLT). The charity said reading enjoyment was lowest among disadvantaged children, and warned that the research should serve as a “wake-up call”.

More than 56% of eight to 18-year-olds said that they do not enjoy reading in their spare time, while reading enjoyment has fallen to the lowest level since the charity began the survey in 2005. Of the 64,066 children surveyed, 43% said they enjoyed reading in their free time – down 15 percentage points from a peak of about 58% in 2016.

Reading enjoyment, reading levels at school and overall literacy skills were lowest among children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Of those children who receive free school meals, 60% said they do not enjoy reading in their free time…

(6) BUCK ROGERS SOLAR SCOUTS! “Make sure to paste these into your first editions — or not,” urges Andrew Porter.

(7) SIGNS OF THE TIMES. In September’s first, free story from Sunday Morning Transport, “Resurrection Highway”, A. R Capetta “takes readers on a spectacular road trip beyond anything we could have imagined.”

You climb the fence, hit the yard of the body shop at three in the morning—whispered among automancers as the best time—and write sigils on the tires in a thick glop of white paint. You skim the wheels with the specially prepared olive oil, which Rye always called wake-up juice, infused with chilis and lemon peel and much less savory ingredients that you sourced from that guy in the Haight who swore the marrow was fresh….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 4, 1905 Mary Renault. Her superb Theseus novels, The King Must Die and The Bull from the Sea, are definitely genre. I also recommend, though very much non-genre, Funeral Games which deals with Alexander’s successors. It is a messy tale indeed. (Died 1983.)
  • Born September 4, 1916 Robert A. W. Lowndes. He was known best as the editor of Future Science FictionScience Fiction, and Science Fiction Quarterly (mostly published late Thirties and early Forties) for Columbia Publications. He was a principal member of the Futurians. A horror writer with a bent towards all things Lovecraftian ever since he was a young fan, he received two letters of encouragement from H. P. Lovecraft. And yes, he’s a member of the First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1998.)
  • Born September 4, 1924 Joan Aiken. I’d unreservedly say her Wolves Chronicles were her best works. Of the many, many in that series, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase featuring the characters of Bonnie Green, Sylvia Green and Simon is I think the essential work to read; even though The Whispering Mountain is supposed to a prequel to the series, I don’t think it’s really that good. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is certainly the one in the series I used to see stocked in my local bookstores before the Pandemic. No Hugos, but she won an Edgar Allan Poe Award for Night Fall. (Died 2004.)
  • Born September 4, 1924 Ray Russell. His most famous story is considered by most to be “Sardonicus” which was published first in Playboy magazine, and was then adapted by him into a screenplay for William Castle’s Mr. Sardonicus. He wrote three novels, The Case Against SatanIncubus and Absolute Power. He’s got World Fantasy and Stoker Awards for Lifetime Achievement. “Sardonicus” is included in Haunted Castles: The Complete Gothic Stories which is available from the usual suspects. (Died 1999.)
  • Born September 4, 1941 Peter Heck, 81.  He has written the “On Books” review column in  Asimov’s Science Fiction for nearly thirty years; he has also provided material to Locus and The New York Review of Science Fiction. He’s written both mysteries and genre fiction with Robert Lynn Asprin on four volumes of the Phule’s Company series.
  • Born September 4, 1962 Karl Schroeder, 61. I first encountered him in his “Deodand” story in the METAtropolis: Cascadia audio work, so I went out and found out what else he’d done. If you’ve not read him, his Aurora Award winning Permanence is superb as all of the Vigra series. He was one of those nominated for a Long Form Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo for the first METAtropolis at Anticipation. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Thatababy isn’t too young to be into superheroes.
  • And we bring you a Tom Gauld doubleheader.

(10) INSEPARABLE. The Guardian invites readers to “Meet Catty Bradshaw! The stars who take home pets from sets”. “SJP’s kitten! Sophie Turner’s dire wolf! Viggo Mortensen’s entire stable of horses! Some celebs just can’t say goodbye to their on-screen animals”.

On Instagram, SJP confirmed that she has adopted the fluffy feline in real-life, too. “His off-camera name is Lotus,” she wrote. “Adopted officially by the Parker/Broderick family in April. If he looks familiar, that’s because he is.”

Parker isn’t the first actor who couldn’t bear to part with their furry sidekick when filming wrapped. Here are more screen stars who became so attached to their four-legged friends, they went on to adopt them …

Sophie Turner’s dire wolf

Turner made her Game of Thrones debut as flame-haired Winterfell princess Sansa Stark aged 14. While filming the fantasy saga’s first season, she took a shine to Zunni, the Mahlek Northern Inuit dog who portrayed Lady, Sansa’s pet dire wolf. When Lady was killed off (blame Cersei and Joffrey), Turner persuaded her parents to rehome Zunni. Not everyone on the production was sad to see the dog depart. “Zunni was a terrible actor,” admitted Turner. “Really bad on-set and wouldn’t respond to calls. They were ready to fire her.” Don’t get her started on those diva dragons….

(11) LISTEN UP. Au audio report from Marketplace: “Video games for all!”.

Video games for all!

Students at a video game design program in the Bay Area use the medium to explore cultural history, LGBTQ relationships, emotional wellbeing and more.

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George warns there are spoilers ahead in the Blue Beetle Pitch Meeting”.

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

Warner Holme Review: Ellen Datlow’s Body Shocks

Body Shocks. Edited by Ellen Datlow
Tachyon Publications, 2021

Review by Warner Holme: Ellen Datlow’s Body Shocks is a collection of stories in, as the title implies, the body horror genre. This can be a difficult genre for many readers, and short and long the stories in this book definitely are not for the faint of heart. More than two dozen stories, it’s a pack collection with a relatively wide variety of material.

Cassandra Khaw’s “The Truth That Lies Under Skin and Meat” is a series of priced statements relating to a woman considering her life and the obsessions which meat brings to mind for her. There are very short sections, each headed by a good or service and associated with a particular cost (although a number of the costs are “free”) and the objects themselves each lead into the following text exploring the situation more thoroughly. 

While there are brief sections questioning the issue of nature versus nurture, it is a minor element in this story. Instead the study twisting development of a woman’s homicidal impulses, and how they relate to the possibly supernatural aspects of this story. Specifically, on a number of occasions the lead is described as transforming physically, and while this is not the main aspect of the story it most definitely creates an additional atmosphere of oppression and instability. The way that the situations are described, and the mention of triggers early on, bring interesting questions of control to this tale.

“The Old Women Who Were Skinned” is Carmen Maria Machado’s addition to this anthology. Told matching the same manner of a fairy tale, it details the lives of two elderly women who cannot help but use skins to their advantage, and attract the attention of an emperor. Like most good fairy tales it includes its share of the impossible, including the presence of fairies themselves.

While taking the form of a fairy tale, it is very much an old-style one. There is visceral gore and unambiguous sex within a brief word count. There is a clear and explicit message related to vanity involved, although there are certainly other themes which might be extracted. Nobility get away with crimes they should not, and the ending happens to be anything but happy. It is a nice little story, likely to turn the stomach and twist the heart.

In addition to a wonderful introduction by the author, wearing a she explains her logic and thought processes in creating this collection, each story is preceded by a nice little paragraph discussing the author. These are always appreciated, simultaneously giving a little context to the story and providing an easy jumping on point for readers who want more material from that writer. 

A special note should be given on the interior design by John Coulthart. In addition to a gorgeously disturbing cover, everything from the table of contents to the pages following each story feature images of and related to the human body which remain anywhere from unsettling to downright nausea inducing. Given a certain lack of unity can exist in any anthology regardless of theme, this design work and art is an excellent tool to help connect the pieces to one another.

Overall Body Shocks is easy to recommend to readers who enjoy this kind of horror. There are a large number of pieces with a great variety of style. One shouldn’t enter it with a weak stomach, nor a faint heart. Still for fans of this subject matter, or those who enjoy Ellen Datlow’s work and can handle trying the material, there is bound to be enjoyed.

(Tachyon, 2021)

Pixel Scroll 8/12/23 O Beautiful For Pixeled Files

(1) ACTION IS YOUR REWARD! [Item by Chuck Serface.] The next issue of The Drink Tank is dedicated to all things Spider-Man.  We’re looking for articles, artwork, fiction, poetry, photography, or whatever you’d like to share about Peter Parker, Miles Morales, Ben Reilly, Spider-Woman, Ghost-Spider, Silk, Venom, Carnage, or others throughout the Spider-Verse from comics, films, television, and beyond.  The deadline is August 25, 2023.  Send submissions to Chris Garcia at [email protected] or to Chuck Serface at [email protected].

(2) SUPPORT STARMEN. Author Francis Hamit, a longtime File 770 contributor, has launched a Kickstarter appeal for his novel Starmen. Jacqueline Lichtenberg has these words of praise for it: “I read the manuscript of this book. As is all of Hamit’s work, it is engrossing, well-paced, easily readable storytelling. But the mixture of history, imagination, and insightful extrapolation doesn’t fit current commercial genre formulae. Notably, even after years, I recall many vivid images from the book that should be set pieces from an Indiana Jones movie.”

Every donor gets the E-book Edition for a dollar, and there are additional perks for other contribution levels. What’s it about?

It’s a detective story that begins at the El Paso office of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in 1875. That also makes it historical.  A huge balloon arrives with a group from the British Ethnographic Society. With them is George James Frazer, a young academic from Cambridge who wants to study the Apaches. The balloon is commanded by Rose Green, a beautiful young woman who is the daughter of Confederate secret agent Rose Greenhow.  The balloon is surveying for minerals and is a threat to the USA and the Apaches and Mexico.  A young Apache boy working for Pinkerton’s becomes Frazer’s guide. He says that Apache witches can fly…and later proves it by flying himself!  The balloon intrudes on a sacred place and its crew encounters multiple troubles but Frazer, left with the Apaches, almost becomes one of them. Pinkerton’s is hired to find the balloon and the missing heir to a wealthy Chicago family. Two detectives, one of them newly hired and suspected of being an agent of the Confederate government in exile in Britain, go in search of the heir.  Their journey takes them to a curious small town taken over by a hotelier whose customers come from far away; very far away.  Famous gunfighters are one of the amusements provided with showdowns and barfights every day.  The Strangers win every fight.  The missing heir has been arrested for killing a Stranger in a bar fight.   He cannot buy his way out of it and appeals to the detectives for help. There are also romantic, magical subplots.  

Francis Hamit models the Starman book cover shirt, one of the available donor perks.

(3) INTERVIEW WITH CHINA FAN RIVERFLOW. [Item by mlex.] Emad Aysha of the Egyptian Science Fiction Society just posted an interesting interview with RiverFlow, editor of an online SF zine in China, Zero Gravity Newspaper“The Sci-Fi Overflow – From China’s Fanzines and Moviemakers to a World in Waiting” at The Liberum. This provides some more context to fandom in China on the eve of Worldcon Chengdu.

Please introduce yourself.
“My name is RiverFlow. I have been organising the historical materials of Chinese university sci-fi clubs and fanzines, Chinese fandom.

I first came to know the concept of sci-fi writing after reading an introduction article by Baoshu(宝树) in the Chinese literary magazine “Literary Style Appreciation”(《文艺风赏》). In 2019, when I was searching for science and technology information on the official website of “Global Science magazine”(《环球科学》), I inadvertently turned to Liu Cixin’s Ball Lightning(《球状闪电》) and began to create some sci-fi practice works, but only conversational, and I did not write after eight novels.

At that time, I had a severe stomach illness, so I wrote novels and poems to relax my mind, and at that time the pen name was “Running RiverFlow”(奔腾的河流). In May 2020, with the help of Chinese science fiction researcher Sanfeng(三丰), I started to contact the Chinese sci-fi circle, began to organise the historical data of the Chinese sci-fi fan community, and interviewed more than 80 Chinese sci-fi practitioners.

There was no same work in China in the past, and a group of sci-fi fans in “zero gravity”(零重力科幻)who gave me a lot of comfort and support during the process of my illness, so I wanted to do something for them, and I did not expect to do it now. I am an entry member of the “Chinese science fiction database”(中文科幻数据库), so I have been exposed to this article a lot, and the concept of science fiction writers is a little unsympathetic….

(4) MEET EGYPTIAN SF AUTHOR EMAD AYSHA. [Item by Mlex.]  For those interested in SF in the Arab Muslim world and Eqypt, there is also a recent interview that I conducted with Emad Aysha for Diamond Bay Radio:  “Arab and Muslim SF with Emad Aysha”.

An interview with Dr. Emad Aysha, author and member of the Egyptian Society for Science Fiction.

Emad introduces Arab and Muslim Science Fiction: Critical Essays, a major survey of the genre, which he co-edited with Dr. Hosam El-Zembely (McFarland, 2022)

The vast range of this book is stunning. It covers 45 contributors, 29 countries, 4 continents, and many languages. Biographical notes and photos: PDF. Complete publication details.

Emad also describes the popular science fiction and fantastic pulps that crowded the news stands of Egypt in the 1990s, and their main authors, Nabil Farouk and Ahmed Towfik.

Fantasy? Futurism? Dystopia? The science fiction of the greater Arab and Muslim world is a dimension in creativity that is little known in the English speaking world. Join us to find out about the multi-layered cultures, religions, and imaginary altered states that stretch from desert… to mountain… to archipelago.

(5) PITCH IN. Kameron Hurley issued an appeal for help funding her dog’s vet care. (Lovely photo at the link.)

Indy the saint bernard is in a bad way and spouse has covid and we’re flat broke, so if you can spare a couple bucks for the emergency vet on this hell timeline we’d all appreciate it

Transmit funds vis PayPal or venmo Kameron-Hurley.

(6) THE FAITH OF THE EXORCIST. “William Friedkin’s Movie ‘The Exorcist’ Understands Old-Time Catholicism”, an opinion piece in the New York Times by Matthew Walther, editor of The Lamp, a Catholic literary journal.

 It is one of those strange accidents of history that the best film ever made about the Roman Catholic Church was directed by a Jewish agnostic. The career of William Friedkin, who died on Monday at 87, spanned seven decades, but to the end of his life, his best-known picture remained “The Exorcist,” a horror movie from 1973 about a demonically possessed girl whose mother enlists two Catholic priests to save her.

Despite the fact that Mr. Friedkin repeatedly acknowledged the essentially religious nature of the film, “The Exorcist” continues to be regarded, like his other signature movie, “The French Connection,” as a genre picture — a very well-crafted one, to be sure — rather than what it really is: an art film premised on the idea that the claims the Catholic Church makes for itself are true — not in some loose metaphorical sense but literally….

It appears that throughout his life Mr. Friedkin remained interested in demonic possession. In his old age he befriended Father Gabriele Amorth, a priest who served for many years as an exorcist in the Diocese of Rome and who allowed Mr. Friedkin to film an actual exorcism. In an interview in 2018, Mr. Friedkin was asked about his own religious beliefs. “I don’t know anything,” he said, “but neither does anyone else. No one knows anything about the eternal mysteries, how we got here, why we’re here, is there an afterlife. Is there a heaven and a hell? Who knows?”…

(7) SAN FRANCISCO’S DOWNWARD SPIRAL CONTINUES. “Owner giving up 2 big S.F. hotels now expects city’s recovery to take up to 7 years” reports the SF Chronicle. One of them – the Parc 55 – is where I stayed during the 1993 Worldcon.

Park Hotels & Resorts gave up two of the biggest hotels in San Francisco in a “difficult but necessary decision” that reflected a plunge in bookings and a pandemic recovery expected to take far longer than expected.

In an earnings call Thursday, CEO Thomas Baltimore elaborated on June’s announcement that the company would stop mortgage payments on a $725 million loan due in November for the 1,024-room Parc 55 and 1,921-room Hilton San Francisco Union Square, the city’s largest hotel.

…Park Hotels joins an exodus of investors and retailers from the hard-hit Powell Street and Union Square area, a critical tourism district and shopping hub. Westfield is giving up its namesake mall two blocks from Parc 55, where Nordstrom is preparing to close its store at the end of the month after 35 years in business. Saks Off Fifth and Old Navy have also shuttered within a block. Still, some luxury retailers are expanding in the area.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 12, 1894 Dick Calkins. He’s best remembered for being the first artist to draw the Buck Rogers comic strip. He also wrote scripts for the Buck Rogers radio program. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Complete Newspaper Dailies in three volumes on Hermes Press collects these strips. (Died 1962.)
  • Born August 12, 1881 Cecil B. DeMille. Yes, you think of him for such films as Cleopatra and The Ten Commandments, but he actually did some important work in our genre. When Worlds Collide and War of The Worlds were films which he executive produced. (Died 1959.)
  • Born August 12, 1921 Matt Jefferies.He’s best known for his work on the original Trek where he designed much of the sets and props including the Starship Enterprise, the Klingon logo, and the bridge and sick bay. The Jefferies tubes are named after him. (Died 2003.)
  • Born August 12, 1931 William Goldman. Writer of The Princess Bride which he adapted for the film. Wrote the original Stepford Wives script and King’s Hearts in Atlantis and Misery as well. He was hired to adapt “Flowers for Algernon” as a screenplay but the story goes that Cliff Robertson intensely disliked his screenplay and it was discarded for one by Stirling Silliphant that became Charly. Not genre at all, but he won an Academy Award for his Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid screenplay. (Died 2018.)
  • Born August 12, 1947 John Nathan-Turner. He produced Doctor Who from 1980 until it was cancelled in 1989. He finished having become the longest-serving Doctor Who producer and cast Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy as the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors. Other than Who, he had a single production credit, the K-9 and Company: A Girl’s Best Friend film. He wrote two books, Doctor Who – The TARDIS Inside Out and Doctor Who: The Companions. He would die of a massive infection just a year before the announcement the show was being revived. (Died 2002.)
  • Born August 12, 1957 Elaine Cunningham, 66. She’s best known for her work on Dungeons & Dragons, creating the campaign setting of Forgotten Realms, including the realms of EvermeetHalruaa, Ruathym and Waterdeep. She’s also wrote The Changeling Detective Agency series as well as a Star Wars novel, Dark Journey.
  • Born August 12, 1960 Brenda Cooper, 63. Best known for her YA Silver Ship series of which The Silver Ship and the Sea won an Endeavour Award, and her Edge of Dark novel won another such Award. She co-authored Building Harlequin’s Moon with Larry Niven, and a fair amount of short fiction with him. She has a lot of short fiction, much collected in Beyond the WaterFall Door: Stories of the High Hills and Cracking the Sky. She’s well-stocked at the usual suspects.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld delivers a few blood drops of truth from Dracula.

(10) SUPER ORIGINALS. You will believe a man can fly – if he’s thrown by another pro wrestler. Literary Hub’s Paul Martin takes a long look back “On the Men Who Lent Their Bodies (and Voices) to the Earliest Iterations of Superman”.

On a Friday night in May 1942, the Shadowland Ballroom in St. Joseph, Michigan, hosted a match between Karol Krauser, a Polish wrestler, and Gorilla Grubmyer. Grubmyer was an ugly man with cauliflower ears, and he had a habit of eye-gouging. Krauser was, as the local paper noted a few weeks before, “the poor girls’ Robert Taylor in a G-string”—in other words, a gentleman-hero. “Karol is a champion, and wrestles like one. He refuses to stick his tongue out at the referee, won’t bite very hard, and deplores amateur histrionics.” He was also the model for Superman.

 To be more specific, he was the model for the version of Superman that appeared in a series of cartoons made by the Fleischer Studios in Miami. It’s not clear when he posed for the studio team, but it was probably during the previous summer, when he was performing in matches at the city’s Tuttle Arena, one of them a battle royale in which he and eight other wrestlers hurled each other at a 500-pound black bear….

(11) KGB. Ellen Datlow has posted her photos from the August 9 Fantastic Fiction at KGB where C.S.E. Cooney and Steve Berman graced the audience reading their work.

(12) CRUNCHY BITS. “Nevada’s Extraterrestrial Highway Is Full of Earthly Wonders, Too” promises Atlas Obscura.

Driving Through an Interstellar Impact Event

Leif Tapanila, paleontologist and director of the Idaho Museum of Natural History, has spent years studying the area’s desert, craggy hills, and mountain peaks of tan and brown. He can read the rocks like the pages of a tattered novel, and says visitors driving the Extraterrestrial Highway looking for evidence of alien invaders are surrounded by it—only they’re about 380 million years too late.

The best place to see evidence of what Nevada was like during this period is about 13 miles west of the town of Crystal Springs, where an unmarked turnoff takes you about a quarter-mile to the base of a wedge-shaped hill. Here, tilted layers of pale limestone are interrupted by a thicker gray section, the telltale pattern of a marine environment disrupted by a catastrophic event.

“The whole area was a shallow sea. It would have looked like the Bahamas, warm and tropical with all sorts of underwater life,” says Tapanila. In an instant, a space rock estimated to be at least a mile wide slammed into the teeming waters of Nevada’s Devonian Period. The massive meteor strike sent shockwaves across the sea, creating megatsunamis as tall as 1,000 feet. Geologists estimate that the monstrous waves carried debris across 1,500 square miles, an expanse nearly the size of Rhode Island.

The destructive event, known as the Alamo Impact, scattered countless organisms and tons of sediment. The rocks along Route 375 contain fossilized sponges, corals, fish, and a cement-like rock conglomerate known as breccia that formed from the heat of the impact. …

VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George (both of them) bring us “Secret Invasion Pitch Meeting”.

Disney and Marvel Studios have been absolutely churning out content in the past few years with a ton of shows hitting their streaming service Disney+. Secret Invasion has come out after a deluge of other superhero shows and people seem to be… tired of this? Secret Invasion definitely raises some questions. Like why didn’t the show play more with the mystery of who is a Skrull and who isn’t? Why doesn’t Nick Fury call the Avengers? If this fight is so personal, why doesn’t he actually fight it? How are all the powers in the final fight even being used? To answer all these questions, check out the pitch meeting that led to Secret Invasion!

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

Pixel Scroll 8/6/23 Pixels Bright Red And Bouncing High As A Scroll Will Allow

(1) PALLET JACKED. “Gen Con Card Heist: $300K Worth of Cards Stolen From Show Floor”Gizmodo has the story.

…Per Indianapolis’ WRTV, the tabletop game convention had over $300,000 worth of cards stolen from the show floor. Dicebreaker reported that the theft occurred on Wednesday, August 2 as vendors were setting up for the event at the Indiana Convention Center. Police in the area claim the thieves used a pallet jack to remove a pallet of cards, which allowed them to blend in since everyone was moving product around the convention floor that day. Dicebreaker further noted that the theft was pulled off with two thieves. At time of writing, it’s unknown which specific cards were stolen, and what company (or companies) they belonged to…

More details and security cam images of the suspects at WRTV’s post “Over $300K worth of gaming cards stolen from Gen Con during setup”.

(2) MISSING FROM MOPOP. Deadline explains why “JK Rowling Airbrushed From Pop Culture Museum’s Harry Potter Display”.

A US museum has removed all trace of Harry Potter creator JK Rowling from its exhibition celebrating the schoolboy wizard and his friends.

The Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle had previously published a blog explaining its decision to airbrush Rowling from its display, due to her “super hateful and divisive” views.

Project manager Chris Moore, who is transgender, wrote in the piece:

“There’s a certain cold, heartless, joy-sucking entity in the world of Harry Potter and, this time, it is not actually a Dementor….”

The Deadline article is sourced in “She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”, a May 2023 blog post by Chris Moore, MoPOP’s Exhibitions Project Manager.

We would love to go with the internet’s theory that these books were actually written without an author, but this certain person is a bit too vocal with her super hateful and divisive views to be ignored. Yes, we’re talking about J.K. Rowling, and no, we don’t like that we’re giving her more publicity, so that’s the last you’ll see of her name in this post. We’ll just stick with You-Know-Who because they’re close enough in character….

And what is MoPOP doing? If you’ve visited the museum recently, you will have seen artifacts from the Harry Potter films in Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic gallery and her likeness in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. They’re there and trying to dance around it would make me look like a bigger hypocrite. But here’s the deal… it’s complicated. Long conversations are being had and a lot of considerations around what to do with problematic people and content because instances like this are going to keep happening. I’m privileged to get to work with our Curatorial team and see the decision-making processes there, so let me give you a little bit of insight into what these are like after someone outs themself as holding terrible ideologies….

… As for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, this list of inductees has a long history that didn’t start with MoPOP, EMP Museum, or even the Experience Music Project. It was founded in 1996 at the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction and came to MoPOP in 2004. The inductees are specifically chosen by public voting. You-Know-Who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018 before she became the face of trans-exclusionary radical feminism (TERF). If you keep looking in there, you’ll see other figures with questionable if not downright disturbing pasts. But what does that mean? Are MoPOP’s hands tied on something that is in our building? Again, it’s complicated. For the time being, the Curators decided to remove any of her artifacts from this gallery to reduce her impact. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s what we were able to do in the short-term while determining long-term practices. As we’ve continued to learn and grow, they’re planning on continuing to add context to creators and content through our blog and possibly in-gallery QR codes….

(3) SEVENTIES GENRE ART. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Jared Pechaček will talk with 70’s Sci-Fi Art curator Adam Rowe about his new book Worlds Beyond Time: Sci-Fi Art of the 1970s. It’ll be streamed live on Zoom at 12 PM EST/3 PM PST on Tuesday, August 8th. Register here.

A visual history of the spaceships, alien landscapes, cryptozoology, and imagined industrial machinery of 1970s paperback sci-fi art

Third Place Books welcomes local author Adam Rowe—senior writer at Tech.co and curator of the popular, multi-platform 70s Sci-Fi Art feed @70sscifi—for a presentation of his latest book, Worlds Beyond Time: Sci-Fi Art of the 1970s. Visit the store to see this stunning art-object for yourself! Rowe will be joined in conversation by local artist and writer Jared Pechaček. 

This event will be broadcast live on Zoom. Registering will provide you with a unique access link in an email. During the event, you can ask questions using the Q&A feature, or chat with fellow attendees. A recording of the event will be made available and emailed to all who register.

This author talk is free! You can sustain our author series by purchasing a copy of the featured book.

(4) PREEMPTIVE BOOK DUMPING. “Bookstores’ donations from teachers rise amid Florida book bans” reports WESH in Orlando.

Some used bookstores are seeing a rush of donations from teachers because those teachers are worried about book bans.

A stack of books sat in front of “Best Used Books” in Longwood on Thursday.

Crystal Bryant says the shelves are filling up more quickly this summer.

“Every author that you could possibly think of,” Bryant said.

Teachers are donating thousands more books than usual because they’re concerned about banned books.

“Those teachers are literally coming back every day, bringing boxes of stuff that they can’t they can’t use in their classrooms, which is sad,” Bryant said.

Bryant’s family has owned the shop for nearly 30 years.

And she says this year, they’ve gotten three times the amount of book dropoffs.

“Just a lot of stuff coming in,” Bryant said.

And we’re just like, we will take it because we don’t discriminate whatsoever.

“You’re seeing a lot of teachers saying, ‘I’m just not going to take the chance and I’m going to get rid of the classroom libraries,'” Andrew Spar said.

Spar is the president of Florida’s largest teachers’ union….

(5) THE ROARING TWENTIES OF BOOK SALES. The Guardian brings word: “‘I can’t stress how much BookTok sells’: teen literary influencers swaying publishers”.

The famous Waterstones in London’s Piccadilly is a modernist/art deco building. It started life as a menswear store and has the feel of that sort of traditional shop that is fast disappearing. But this bookshop, like many others, is enjoying a very modern sales boost from social media.

Groups of teenage girls regularly gather here to buy new books and meet new friends, both discovered on the social media app TikTok. Recommendations by influencers for authors and novels on BookTok – a community of users who are passionate about books and make videos recommending titles – can send sales into the stratosphere.

But while very much an online phenomenon, BookTok is having a material impact on the high street, with TikTok now pushing people to buy their books from bricks-and-mortar booksellers through a partnership with bookshop.org, which allows people to buy online and support independent bookshops at the same time.

Last year, Waterstones Piccadilly hosted a BookTok festival. One sales assistant told the Observer: “I can’t stress how much BookTok sells books. It’s driven huge sales of YA [young adult] and romance books, including titles such as The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller and authors such as Colleen Hoover.

“The demographic is almost exclusively teenage girls, but the power it has is huge. We have a ‘BookTok recommended’ table – and you can tell which books are trending by the speed at which they sell.”…

(6) JETSON LORE. Back with another MeTV quiz – “How well do you know Elroy Jetson?” I only got 8 out of 10. “Only” because I’m convinced I knew the hardest ones, and one of my misses wasn’t really a question about the show itself.

“His boy, Elroy!”

Meet the boy of the future, Elroy Jetson! He’s got all the gadgets you could shake a stick at. But even though he’s living in a sci-fi world, Elroy Jetson is still relatable enough that any kid could see themselves reflected in his astronaut helmet. 

How well do you recall this techno-lad? Was Elroy your favorite, or were you tuning in for Astro? Who here wanted to be Elroy? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!

(7) SNUFF FICTION. The August entry in Future Tense Fiction’s monthly series is “No Regrets” by Carter Scholz, a “short story about geoengineering, billionaire hubris, and ‘altruistic’ narcissism.”

After the regrettable incidents on the island (the old island), the Doctor kept a low profile. Many thought he was dead. There was safety in that once. Now the greater safety is in being known.

What plans he had, back in the day! World domination! If only … but no, this is just the sort of negative spiral his therapist has warned him about. He has remade himself as an altruist, a philanthropist, and he means for his efforts to have maximum impact.

His therapist calls it “harm reduction,” a transition from the “malignant” narcissism of his past to the “altruistic” narcissism of the present. And it’s true he has changed: In times past, even referring to his narcissism might have earned the therapist a trip to the guano workings. But he is no longer that malevolent man. He’s even developed a sense of humor. He collects mad doctor jokes. He has a T-shirt that reads I’M NOT MAD I’M JUST GETTING EVEN….

The response essay, “Why we’re unprepared to confront the threat of extinction” is by Tyler Austin Harper, an “expert in philosophy and existential risk.”

One of Friedrich Nietzsche’s great early essays opens with a strange, science fictional vignette. Set on a melancholy little planet where “clever beasts invented knowing,” the philosopher’s parable recounts the rise, reign, and ultimate extinction of this sapient species, whose career is described as only a “minute” in the history of the universe. “After nature had drawn a few breaths, the star cooled and congealed, and the clever beasts had to die,” Nietzsche writes.

Nietzsche’s grift soon becomes transparent, of course: We are the “clever beasts” in the story, and the point of the parable is to force the reader to imagine our species from a God’s-eye view, to expose “how miserable, how shadowy and transient, how aimless and arbitrary the human intellect looks within nature.” The parable concludes on a nakedly nihilistic note: “When it is all over with the human intellect, nothing will have happened,” Nietzsche observes. “For this intellect has no additional mission which would lead it beyond human life.”

Understandably, most readers focus on the wildly pessimistic penultimate sentence, where Nietzsche announces humanity’s cosmic insignificance. However, it is the last sentence, which expressly explains why nothing will have happened, that holds the key to the parable’s meaning. For Nietzsche, the extinction of the “clever beasts” is meaningless not because their existence is intrinsically worthless, but because they fail to pursue any “mission” that would give their collective existence purpose. They do not set themselves a goal as a species….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 6, 1874 Charles Fort. Writer and researcher who specialized in anomalous phenomena. The term fortean is sometimes used to characterize such phenomena. No, not genre as such, but certainly an influence on many a writer. The Dover publication, The Complete Books of Charles Fort, that collects together The Book of The Damned Lo!Wild Talents and New Lands has a foreword by Damon Knight. When it was originally published as The Books of Charles Fort L. Sprague de Camp reviewed it in Astounding Science-Fiction in the August 1941 issue. (Died 1932.)
  • Born August 6, 1877 John Ulrich Giesy. He was one of the early writers in the Sword and Planet genre, with his Jason Croft series. He collaborated with Junius B. Smith on many of his stories though not these which others would call them scientific romances. He wrote a large number of stories featuring the occult detective Abdul Omar aka Semi-Dual and those were written with Smith. (Died 1947.)
  • Born August 6, 1926 Janet Asimov. Author of some half dozen novels and a fair amount of short fiction on her own, mostly as J.O. Jeppson; co-author with Isaac of the Norby Chronicles. Her Notes for a Memoir: On Isaac Asimov, Life, and Writing, came out thirteen years ago. (Died 2019.)
  • Born August 6, 1934 Piers Anthony, 89. Ok I’ll admit that I’m not at all familiar with him as comic fantasy isn’t my usual go-to reading though I’ve some of the Xanth series a long time ago. I know he’s popular so I’m going to ask y’all which of his novels would be a great introduction to him. Go ahead and tell which novels I should read. 
  • Born August 6, 1956 Ian R. MacLeod, 67. Another author I need to read more of. I’ve read the first two in what’s called the Aether Universe series, The Light Ages and The House of Storms, but there are other novels I’m intrigued by, including Song of Time and The Great Wheel. He’s won some impressive Awards including three Sidewise Awards for The Summer Isles (short and long forms) and for Wake Up and Dream novel. He also won a World Fantasy Award for “The Chop Shop” short story. 
  • Born August 6, 1972 Paolo Bacigalupi, 51. I remember the book group I was part of some years ago having a spirited debate over The Windup Girl (which won a Hugo at Aussiecon 4 and a Nebula as well) over the believability of the central character. I think he did a better job with characters in his next novels, Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities, but he’s really not about characters anyways. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro reveals the post-apocalyptic cat world.
  • Herman shows another law enforcement-vs.-flying saucer encounter with a surprise ending.
  • Brewster Rockit thinks he’s surprising a colleague with his discovery of another way to read text.
  • Tom Gauld on classic novels improved by AI:

(10) THE MAN FROM UNCLE WITH THE GOLDEN GUN IN THE HIGH CASTLE. On the official blog of artist J.J. Lendle, The Poster Project, is an amazing gallery of tributes to current movies and shows on posters done in myriad styles drawn from the decades of Hollywood history. Here’s a very recent example.

(11) FREE READ. Sunday Morning Transport’s editors hope their free August story, Eugenia Triantafyllou‘s “Always Be Returning,” will “transport all our readers to mythical and strikingly heartfelt shores.” “Always Be Returning”. To receive new posts and support our authors’ work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

(12) HE DIDN’T TAKE HIS SHOT. “Star Trek’s new musical episode happened because of Lin-Manuel Miranda” at The Digital Fix.

… It was initially going to be Star Trek Picard that was possibly going to have a musical episode. Executive producer of both Picard and Strange New Worlds Akiva Goldsman says that another exec-producer, Michael Chabon knows Lin-Manuel Miranda. “We were like, ‘Call him! call him!’” but “[Lin-Manuel] didn’t call him back. And that was the end of that musical. But it did seem like such a good idea. As soon as Henry and I got together to make [Strange New Worlds], I kept peppering him with, ‘We should do a musical,’ and Henry, of course, had done musicals before.”…

(13) 10,000 MILES I ROAMED, JUST TO MAKE THIS DOCK MY HOME. Most of these new-species-named-for-something-genre are pointlessly precious, but I admit this one made me laugh: “New Fish Species Named After The Lord of the Rings” at Comicbook.com.

The world of The Lord of the Rings has inspired countless adaptations and fan works — and now, it has officially influenced the world of fish. According to a new study in the Ichthyology & Herpetology journal, scientists have discovered a brand-new species of suckermouth catfish along West Africa’s Niger River, which shares some similarities with the franchise’s fictional Hobbits. In particular, the fish are seen as “diminutive travelers” who were separated a great distance from their fellow catfish, much like the Hobbits are in J.R.R. Tolkien’s stories. As a result, the brown and white fish has now officially been named Chiloglanis frodobagginsi, a reference to protagonist Frodo Baggins… 

(14) VIDEO OF BACK IN THE DAY. Brian Keene joins three more living legends — Ellen Datlow, Linda Addison, and Steve Rasnic Tem — for “Back in the Day (part 2)”.

Brian Keene speaks with panelists about what has changed in publishing and horror fiction over the years… and what hasn’t

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

Pixel Scroll 6/29/23 Every Pixel In The Room Was Scrolling At Me

(1) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Michael Cisco and Farah Rose Smith on Wednesday, July 12, beginning at 7 Eastern.

MICHAEL CISCO

Michael Cisco is the author of several novels, including The Divinity StudentThe Great Lover, The Narrator, and Pest, as well as the Stoker-nominated nonfiction book Weird Fiction: A Genre Study. His short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies, and his most recent collection is Antisoc. He is the author of two novellas: ETHICS, and Do You Mind If We Dance With Your Legs? He lives in New York City.

FARAH ROSE SMITH

Farah Rose Smith is the author of the horror and dark fantasy novellas EvisceratorThe Almanac of Dust, Anonyma, and Lavinia Rising. She has also written two collections of short supernatural fiction, Of One Pure Will and The Witch is the Body. Smith recently completed a master’s degree in English Literature, Language, and Theory and is writing her third collection. Born and raised in Rhode Island, Smith currently lives in New York City with her husband, weird fiction author Michael Cisco, and their three cats.

Location: The KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs).

(2) BANKS ACCOUNT. On the 10th anniversary of the author’s death, the Guardian’s Steven Poole helps readers decide “Where to start with: Iain Banks”. The second book he considers is Consider Phlebas:

The billionaires’ favourite

Banks originally wanted to be a science-fiction author, but after several unsuccessful drafts in the 1970s decided to write something “normal” instead, thus rocket-boosting his literary career with The Wasp Factory. He then started publishing science fiction as Iain M Banks, beginning with Consider Phlebas, a phrase taken from Eliot’s The Waste Land. It’s a cosmos-spanning romp that introduces the Culture, a post-human galactic civilisation in which AI does all the work and no one wants for food or other resources. (Fully automated luxury communism – in space.)

In this first story, the smug liberal Culture is at war with the Idirans – AI refuseniks who are waging a jihad against them. Through this backdrop wanders sympathetic mercenary Bora Horza Gobuchul, a Mandalorian-style drifter with a very particular set of skills. Banks’s vision of a starfaring, post-scarcity civilisation run by AIs, in which people can change their DNA at will and live for 400 years, is publicly admired by tech giants such as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk – even as they toil along with us in the capitalist present. Unfortunately for Bezos, a planned Amazon TV series based on the novel was cancelled in 2020 after Banks’s estate withdrew permission.

(3) APOCALYPSE, THE NEXT GENERATION. The New York Times magazine looks at media to probe the question “Will Children Save Us at the End of the World?”

…There’s “Station Eleven,” the 2014 novel by Emily St. John Mandel about the aftermath of a swine flu, which was turned into a much-discussed 2021 HBO Max series, in which an 8-year-old girl manages to survive with the help of a stranger turned surrogate parent. “The Last of Us,” HBO’s video game adaptation, which debuted in January, features a zombie-fungus pandemic; a seemingly immune teenage girl is humanity’s one hope. “Leave the World Behind,” Rumaan Alam’s 2020 novel — soon to be a movie — about a bourgeois family vacation gone very bad, features a vague but menacing threat of apocalypse. Also loosely belonging to this category are the shows “Yellowjackets” (2021-present) — a girls’ soccer team turns to cannibalism after a plane crash — and “Class of ’07” (2023) — a school reunion coincides with a climate apocalypse — and the new-to-Netflix 2019 Icelandic movie “Woman at War” (a renegade activist tries to stop the destruction of the environment and adopt a child).

These stories are, in various ways, about how and whether our children can survive the mess that we’ve left them — and what it will cost them to do so. In “Station Eleven,” post-pans (children who were born after the pandemic) are both beacons of optimism and conscripted killers deployed by a self-styled prophet who hopes to erase anyone who holds on to the trauma of the past. And in “The Last of Us,” Ellie, the young girl with possible immunity (played by the actor Bella Ramsey), is forced to kill to survive, and to grapple with whether it’s worth sacrificing her own life in the search for a cure….

The anxieties that these works explore — about planetary destruction and what we did to enable it — are, evidence suggests, affecting the desire of some to have children at all, either because of fear for their future or a belief that not procreating will help stave off the worst. But following the children in these fictions, who didn’t create the conditions of their suffering, isn’t just a devastating guilt trip. Almost all these stories also frame children as our best hope, as we so often do in real life. Children, we need to believe, are resilient and ingenious in ways that adults aren’t. In these stories, when the phones stop working and Amazon stops delivering, it’s children, less set in their ways, who can rebuild and imagine something different. They’re our victims but also our saviors….

(4) SALVAGE RIGHT NEWS. Salvage Right by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, the 25th Liaden Universe® novel (and their 100th collaborative work), will be officially released in paper and ebook editions July 4, 2023. Some stores already have the hardback on the shelves; signed copies are available from Uncle Hugo’s bookstore in Minneapolis.

Sample chapters from Salvage Right are available online at Baen Books

In honor of Salvage Right Lee and Miller are taking part in a number of podcasts and special events:

  • Annies Bookstore: Selina Lovett at Annie’s Bookstore did a Zoom interview with the authors, which can be found here
  • Watch for Griffin Barber’s interview with them at the Baen Free Radio Hour
  • Upcoming: An interview with fyyd: CultureScape with Peter PischkeCultureScape with Peter Pischke with release date TBA
  • Another interview with Under The Radar SFF Books is due later in July
  • The authors will be doing a virtual book signing at Pandemonium Books, Wednesday July 26, details TBA

(5) MANNERS, PLEASE. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki thought a timely reminder was in order about the awards etiquette published by the Unofficial Hugo Book Club Blog a couple of months ago, so he retweeted it today. Thread begins here. Here’s an excerpt:

(6) AMY WISNIEWSKI (1947-2023). Mythopoeic Society member Amy Wisniewski died June 20 at the age of 76. She is survived by her wife, Edith Crowe. David Bratman has written a tribute on Kalimac’s corner, “Amy Wisniewski”, which says in part:

…Amy was already in the Society when I arrived. The first meeting I attended was at the small house that she and her partner (and later wife) Edith Crowe were living at in the flatlands of Redwood City. 48 years later, in a larger house further up in the hills, they were still hosting meetings. Almost every year, except during pandemics, they hosted the annual Reading and Eating Meeting. We would gather for a potluck meal and then take turns reading short selections around the (once real, later theoretical) fire.

For a few years, Amy was our discussion group’s moderator, and she actually directed meetings with a skill and knowledge surpassing that of anyone else who had that title. Amy wasn’t a Tolkien scholar; she didn’t give papers at Mythcon; but she had read and absorbed his books and did the same for the books we were discussing, and consequently always had intelligent things to say….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

2002 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Tonight we have a Beginning by Carol Emshwiller. She was prolific as a short fiction writer with more stories than I can comfortably count.  The two volume collection of The Collected Stories of Carol Emshwiller that Nonstop Press did a decade back collects nearly twelve hundred pages of her stories. 

She did just six novels of which four were genre and two were in the cowboy genre, Ledoyt and Leaping Man Hill.  No, I didn’t know she’d written the latter. All four of her genre novels are quite excellent.  The Mount which is where our Beginning comes from garnered a Philip K. Dick Award. 

And now from stage left comes our Beginning…

We’re not against you, we’re for. In fact we’re built for you and you for us – we, so our weak little legs will dangle on your chest and our tail down the back. Exactly as you so often transport your own young when they are weak and small. It’s a joy. Just like mother-walk.

You’ll be free. You’ll have a pillow. You’ll have a water faucet and a bookcase. We’ll pat you if you do things fast enough and don’t play hard to catch. We’ll rub your legs and soak your feet. Sams and Sues, and you Sams had better behave yourselves.

You still call us aliens in spite of the fact that we’ve been on your world for generations. And why call aliens exactly those who have brought health and happiness to you? And look how well we fit, you and us. As if born for each other even though we come from different worlds.

We mate the stock with the stocky, the thin with the thin, the pygmy with the pygmy. You’ve done a fairly good job of that yourselves before we came. As to skin, we like a color a little on the reddish side. Freckles are third best.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 29, 1919 Slim Pickens. Surely you remember his memorable scene as Major T. J. “King” Kong in Dr. Strangelove? I certainly do. Simply astounding. And, of course, he shows up in Blazing Saddles as Taggart. He’s the uncredited voice of B.O.B in The Black Hole and he’s Sam Newfield in The Howling. He’s got some series genre work including several appearances on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, plus work on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Night Gallery. (Died 1983.)
  • Born June 29, 1920 Ray Harryhausen. All-around film genius who created stop-motion model Dynamation animation. His work can be seen in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (his first color film) which was nominated for a Hugo at Detention, Jason and the Argonauts, Mighty Joe Young and Clash of the Titans. (Died 2013.)
  • Born June 29, 1943 Maureen O’Brien, 80. Vicki, companion of the First Doctor. Some 40 years later, she reprised the role for several Big Finish Productions Doctor Who audio works. She had a recurring role as Morgan in The Legend of King Arthur, a late Seventies BBC series. Her Detective Inspector John Bright series has been well received.
  • Born June 29, 1947 Michael Carter, 76. Best remembered for being Gerald Bringsley in An American Werewolf in London, Von Thurnburg in The Illusionist and Bib Fortuna in the Return of the Jedi. He plays two roles as a prisoner and as UNIT soldier in the Third Doctor story, “The Mind of Evil”. 
  • Born June 29, 1950 Michael Whelan, 73. I’m reasonably sure that most of the Del Rey editions of McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series was where I first noticed his artwork but I’ve certainly seen it elsewhere since. He did Heinlein’s The Cat Who Walks Through Walls cover which I love and many more I can’t recall right now. And there’s a wonderful collection of work available, Beyond Science Fiction: The Alternative Realism of Michael Whelan.
  • Born June 29, 1956 David Burroughs Mattingly, 67. He’s an American illustrator and painter, best known for his numerous book covers of genre literature. Earlier in his career, he worked at Disney Studio on the production of The Black HoleTronDick Tracy and Stephen King’s The Stand. His main cover work was at Ballantine Books where he did such work as the 1982 cover of Herbert’s Under Pressure (superb novel), 2006 Anderson’s Time Patrol and the 1986 Berkley Books publication of E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith Triplanetary.
  • Born June 29, 1957 Fred Duarte, Jr. His Birthday is today and this long-time Texas fan is eulogized by Mike here upon his passing almost a decade back. (Died 2015.)

(9) COMICS SECTION.

Catching up with Tom Gauld —

(10) JEOPARDY! [Item by David Goldfarb.] From the June 28 episode, three clues in the single Jeopardy round.

Open Door, $1000: Gandalf initially struggles to open the door to this place, but after speaking the Elvish word for “friend” he gets it right

This was a triple stumper.

Google Easter eggs, $400: A Google search for what’s the answer to life, the universe, & everything gives you this number

Bryan White (whose score was $4200!): “What is 37?”

Neither of the other two could respond correctly. Douglas Adams is spinning in his grave.

$800: Google this HBO show with Pedro Pascal & keep clicking the mushroom icon for your screen to be enveloped by some humongous fungus

Bryan knew “The Last of Us”.

(11) ALL KAIJU ALL THE TIME. “24-Hour Godzilla Channel Coming to Pluto TV With Exclusive Films” promises Comicbook.com.

Godzilla is coming to Pluto TV with a huge new channel dedicated to showing off tons of Godzilla movies and shows 24 hours a day with some exclusive films to boot! TOHO’s famous Kaiju has been stomping through many eras since the giant monster was first introduced back in the 1950s, and has since amassed a massive library of TV shows and movies that fans still enjoy to this day. Now Pluto TV has made checking out your favorite Godzilla projects easier than ever before with a new streaming channel with the platform highlighting all of the biggest and best Godzilla outings over the years! 

Pluto TV has announced a new Godzilla channel filled with not only classics such as the original 1954 Godzilla debut film, Godzilla vs. Megalon, and more but even left-field additions such as the animated Godzilla: The Series from the late ’90s and early ’00s. But the biggest surprise is that this new Godzilla channel will also offer up seven Godzilla films that are exclusive to Pluto TV as fans won’t be able to find them streaming anywhere else. Read on to see the massive list of movies and TV shows coming to Pluto TV’s new Godzilla channel launching on July 1st…. 

(12) HERE’S MY NUMBER AND A DIME, DIAL ANYTIME. “The Real History Behind the Archimedes Dial in ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’” in Smithsonian Magazine.

Off the coast of the Greek island of Antikythera in 1900, sponge divers came across a shipwreck filled with ancient treasures. Hidden among flashier finds like marble statues and jewelry was a mysterious device known today as the Antikythera mechanism.

Dated to more than 2,000 years ago, the device “is probably the most exciting artifact that we have from the ancient world,” says Jo Marchant, author of the 2008 book Decoding the Heavens: Solving the Mystery of the World’s First Computer. More than a millennium before 13th-century Europeans invented the first mechanical clocks, the Antikythera mechanism employed similarly complex technology—including gear wheels, dials and pointers—to chart the cosmos. The ancients used it to predict eclipses, track the movement of the sun and the moon, and even see when sporting events like the Olympics were scheduled to take place.

Contrary to what Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, the latest installment in the epic franchise, suggests, the Antikythera mechanism won’t transport you back in time—not literally, at least. Every Indiana Jones adventure needs an exotic MacGuffin; in the new outing, which arrives in theaters this week, the hero chases after the Archimedes Dial, a fictionalized version of the Antikythera mechanism that predicts the location of naturally occurring fissures in time.

…In the film’s 1944-set prologue, Indy (Harrison Ford) captures a train loaded with Nazi plunder, including the titular Dial of Destiny. The movie then jumps ahead to 1969. Indy is set to retire from teaching archaeology, and the world is celebrating the safe return of the Apollo 11 crew. One of the men most responsible for the United States’ victory in the space race is Jürgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen), a former Nazi who was given sanctuary by the Allies in exchange for his expertise, much like the real-life NASA engineer Wernher von Braun. When Indy learns that Voller wants to use the Archimedes Dial to travel for nefarious purposes, he reluctantly dusts off his old hat and bullwhip to (again) keep a potentially devastating weapon out of Nazi hands….

(13) NATURE EDITORIAL WARNS ABOUT AI. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] You know, I simply love the end of the world.  You can’t beat it. Of course, as long as it is firmly in SF.  (Wouldn’t like it in reality: it’d get in the way of afternoon tea and evening real ale down the pub…)

Today’s Nature editorial once more tackles doomsday.  Beware of tech companies achieving their goals through obsfucation… “Stop talking about tomorrow’s AI doomsday when AI poses risks today”.

Talk of artificial intelligence destroying humanity plays into the tech companies’ agenda, and hinders effective regulation of the societal harms AI is causing right now.

The idea that AI could lead to human extinction has been discussed on the fringes of the technology community for years. The excitement about the tool ChatGPT and generative AI has now propelled it into the mainstream. But, like a magician’s sleight of hand, it draws attention away from the real issue: the societal harms that AI systems and tools are causing now, or risk causing in future. Governments and regulators in particular should not be distracted by this narrative and must act decisively to curb potential harms. And although their work should be informed by the tech industry, it should not be beholden to the tech agenda.

Many AI researchers and ethicists to whom Nature has spoken are frustrated by the doomsday talk dominating debates about AI. It is problematic in at least two ways. First, the spectre of AI as an all-powerful machine fuels competition between nations to develop AI so that they can benefit from and control it. This works to the advantage of tech firms: it encourages investment and weakens arguments for regulating the industry. An actual arms race to produce next-generation AI-powered military technology is already under way, increasing the risk of catastrophic conflict — doomsday, perhaps, but not of the sort much discussed in the dominant ‘AI threatens human extinction’ narrative.

Second, it allows a homogeneous group of company executives and technologists to dominate the conversation about AI risks and regulation, while other communities are left out. Letters written by tech-industry leaders are “essentially drawing boundaries around who counts as an expert in this conversation”, says Amba Kak, director of the AI Now Institute in New York City, which focuses on the social consequences of AI.

To all of which the SF fan might ask how the genre might contribute…?

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