Pixel Scroll 12/19/22 Pixels Gleaming Bright As They Scroll Off Into The Twilight, Never To Be Seen Again

(1) SOMTOW’S PLAN. It’s nothing like Selden’s. Somtow Sucharitkul will be the composer when “Ed Wood’s cult film ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ Gets Opera Adaptation”. He gave The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Roxborough the exclusive story.

Flying saucers over Bayreuth! Unspeakable horrors descend on the Philharmonic! Ten words I never thought I’d write. But Plan 9 From Outer Space is being turned into an opera. 

The legendary, and legendarily bad, cult film from 1957 — which Tim Burton paid tribute to in his Oscar-winning 1994 feature Ed Wood starring Johnny Depp as the Plan 9 director — will get the classical music treatment courtesy of Thai composer, and B-movie fanatic, Somtow Sucharitkul

Plan 9 From Outer Space: A Really Grand Opera by Somtow Sucharitkul is currently in the libretto stage. Rehearsals will begin in earnest next year. Sucharitkul plans to release a teaser “suite from the opera” next fall and to premiere the full opera in 2024. Torsten Neumann, director of the Oldenburg Film Festival, Germany’s leading indie film fest, is producing. 

Plan 9 is, of course, celebrated as the worst picture ever made and a cultural icon,” Somtow said. “Movie buffs have all the lines memorized. I intend to compose the score in the spirit of Ed Wood — with utter seriousness and high moral intent, as befits the exalted subject matter about aliens saving humanity from itself — so timely in these, ah, times.”

“Of course, we’re not intending to produce the ‘worst opera’ in history,” says Neumann, “quite the opposite. …”

The interview with Somtow also brought out this fact:

…Sucharitkul’s students can also be seen in this year’s awards season contender Tár. The Siam Sinfonietta is the orchestra performing in the film’s final scene. Sucharitkul was a musical consultant on the movie. …

Somtow says Roxborough’s doing a story on that now, interviewing some of the kids in his youth orchestra about what it was like being conducted by Cate Blanchett.

(2) F&SF COVER REVEAL. The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’s Jan/Feb 2023 cover art is by Kent Bash.

(3) A LOOK UNDER THE HOOD. John Scalzi’s “Process Notes on Starter Villain” at Whatever talks about the novel he just finished in a deadline-pushing whirlwind of writing. While I’m always interested in that kind of background, what I appreciated most was his discussion of post-COVID brain. I had wondered if the funk I’ve been in since I caught it on Halloween was a hangover from Covid, or mourning for Martin Morse Wooster, or if I just needed to buck up, since I was still producing material here everyday (and yet never getting around to certain things that seemed to require more “brainality”.)  Covid is a definite contender as the explanation.

(4) NYC LIBRARY BOOK STATS. The Gothamist can tell you “These were the most borrowed books from NYC’s public libraries in 2022” but it can’t tell you why so few of them are genre. However, on the systemwide list the most-borrowed book of the year is listed as a fantasy, The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. The plot as described in the Wikipediabeware spoilers:

The book’s protagonist is a young woman named Nora Seed who is unhappy with her choices in life. During the night, she tries to kill herself but ends up in a library managed by her school librarian, Mrs. Elm. The library is situated between life and death with millions of books filled with stories of her life had she made some different decisions. In this library, she then tries to find the life in which she’s the most content.[3] For example, in one possible life she tries to reunite with her boyfriend and finds herself married to him, but it isn’t the way as she expected. She also sees herself as a glaciologist doing research in the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic – a very different life from the one she tries to escape, but not necessarily a better choice.

Gothamist also has separate lists for each borough. Brooklyn had three books of genre interest in the top 10 (the Haig book was one of them).

(5) PHONING A NEW HOME. The original mechanical model from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial has snagged a staggering sum: “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Model from 1982 Spielberg Classic Sells for $2.5 Million at Auction”.

…The highly desirable film item (for those with very deep pockets) was part of the recent Julien’s Auctions and TCM Presents: Icons and Idols Hollywood auction, going for a final bid of $2,560,000, according to the auction house.

The no. 1 “hero” used with the actors, the aluminum alloy skeletal model of E.T. was originally estimated by the auction house to fetch between $2 million and $4 million. Bidding opened at $500,000. The winner was not identified….

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1999 [By Cat Eldridge.] Mary Poppins Statue in Maryborough, Australia

She stands but five feet tall and weighing only two hundred twenty of bronze statue , this particular Mary Poppins, the world’s most famous nanny, keeps an eye on the comings and goings in Kent Street and Richmond Lane, in Maryborough,Queensland, Australia.

So how did she come to be here, and why this street corner? Well Mary Poppins’ creator, author P.L. Travers, was born Helen Lyndon Goff, in one of the rooms on the second floor of the building adjacent to the statue, and she lived in this Australian city for the first eighteen months of her life. Not long I’ll frankly admit but a City will claim an author based on the most tenuous of connections, won’t they?

Formerly the Union Bank, Travers’ first home provided lodgings to the family of the Union Bank manager – a position that was occupied by her father, Travers Goff, and immortalised in the character, Mr Banks. Although she later went to some lengths to hide her Australian origins, the writer’s home town has gone to quite some effort to commemorate her life and work. She would, after moving to England, vist Australia.

Maryborough residents and the Proud Marys Association, the group that was founded in 1999 and was aimed at celebrating all things Maryborough and Mary Poppins,  raised more than $40,000, with an additional $5500 each from its city council and the state government for the statue.

Dr Rhyl Hinwood, who did the model in clay in part because she broke one of her wrists and could not work in harder material choose a local lass, Imogen Marnane from Atherton, as the model for Poppins. That story and the process of her working on the statue is well worth reading here.

Now do keep in mind it is not based the Disney character but on the one from Helen’s books, so it, as you’ll see in the image below, is rather different from that Poppins. 

And then there’s the Poppins traffic lights there….

(7) GABRIELLE BEAUMONT (1942-2022). Television director Gabrielle Beaumont died October 8 at the age of 80 reports the Guardian. She was best known for her work on Dynasty, however, she also had many genre credits.

…In 1989, she directed Star Trek: The Next Generation, the first live-action sequel to the 1960s sci-fi series. Later, she worked on episodes of the Star Trek series Deep Space Nine (in 1997) and Voyager (in 2000).

At the beginning of the 80s, Beaumont was among fewer than 100 professional female directors in the US, whereas by the end of the decade there were about 500….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 19, 1902 Sir Ralph Richardson. God in Time Bandits but also Earl of Greystoke in Greystoke:The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes and Chief Rabbit In Watership Down. Also the Head Librarian in Rollerball. And a caterpillar in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. And Satan in the Tales from the Crypt film. Oh my, he had an interesting genre film career. (Died 1983.)
  • Born December 19, 1922 Harry Warner Jr.. Fan historian and legendary letterhack. Dubbed The Hermit of Hagerstown, as he was rather reclusive, he did nearly all his fanac on paper. He’s known now for the many LOCs he wrote and his two books on fanhistory, All Our Yesterdays, (1969), and A Wealth of Fable which won a Hugo in 1993 for Best Related Book. Rich Lynch has a full essay, “Remembering Harry”, here today. (Died 2003.)
  • Born December 19, 1952 Linda Woolverton, 70. She’s the first woman to have written a Disney animated feature, Beauty and the Beast, which was the first animated film ever to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. She also co-wrote The Lion King screenplay (along with Irene Mecchi and Jonathan Roberts).
  • Born December 19, 1960 Dave Hutchinson, 62. Best known for his absolutely fascinating Fractured Europe series which consists of Europe in AutumnEurope at MidnightEurope in Winter and Europe at Dawn. Stellar reading! He’s got a lot of other genre fiction as well but I’ve not delved into that yet.
  • Born December 19, 1961 Matthew Waterhouse, 61. He’s best known as Adric, companion to the Fourth and Fifth Doctors. He was the youngest actor in that role at the time. And yes, he too shows up in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot
  • Born December 19, 1972 Alyssa Milano50. Phoebe Halliwell in the long running original and need I say only great Charmed series. Other genre appearances include on Outer LimitsFantasy Island, Embrace of the VampireDouble Dragon, the Young Justice animated series as the voice of Poison Ivy and more voice work in DC’s The Spectre, an excellent animated short.
  • Born December 19, 1979 Robin Sloan, 43. Author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore which definitely has fantasy elements in it is a damn fine read. His second novel which he sent me for reviewing and I need to write up soon, is Sourdough or, Lois and Her Adventures in the Underground Market, and it is improbably genre but is also weirdly about food as well. Quite tasty it is. Am I rambling? So I am.  And he’s a really nice person as well. 

(9) HEARING FROM HISTORY. Another birthday is being celebrated today by the BBC World Service. Hear a tribute in “The World Service is 90” at BBC Sounds.

For 90 years the BBC World Service has been broadcasting in dozens of languages to audiences so huge they are counted in the tens of millions all over the globe. World Service began transmitting on 19 December 1932. It was called the BBC Empire Service, speaking in slow English via crackly short-wave radio to a now-vanished Empire which then ruled a fifth of the globe. The Second World War saw radio services expand massively, broadcasting in more than 40 languages to listeners hungry for truth and facts they could trust. In every crisis and conflict since, individual voices out of the air have offered news, but also drama, music, education and sometimes hope to their audiences. In a special 90th anniversary programme, the broadcaster Nick Rankin, who worked for more than 20 years at the BBC, digs into a treasure trove of sound archive and talks to journalists who made and still make the BBC World Service such a remarkable network. With Peter Pallai of Hungarian Section; Seva Novgorodsev MBE, star of BBC Russian Service; Najiba Kasraee, broadcasting to Afghanistan and Elizabeth Ohene from Focus on Africa.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side has a grotesque idea about the fate of a beloved Peter Pan character.  
  • The Far Side also introduces us to three silly scientists with an insurmountable problem.
  • Popeye takes an unexpectedly Lovecraftian turn.

(11) OPPENHEIMER SECURITY DECISION REVERSED. “J. Robert Oppenheimer Cleared of ‘Black Mark’ After 68 Years” reports the New York Times.

The Secretary of Energy on Friday nullified a 1954 decision to revoke the security clearance of J. Robert Oppenheimer, a top government scientist who led the making of the atomic bomb in World War II but fell under suspicion of being a Soviet spy at the height of the McCarthy era.

In a statement, the Energy Secretary, Jennifer M. Granholm, said the decision of her predecessor agency, the Atomic Energy Commission, to bar Oppenheimer’s clearance was the result of a “flawed process” that violated its own regulations.

As time has passed, she added, “more evidence has come to light of the bias and unfairness of the process that Dr. Oppenheimer was subjected to while the evidence of his loyalty and love of country have only been further affirmed.”

Historians, who have long lobbied for the reversal of the clearance revocation, praised the vacating order as a milestone….

“I’m overwhelmed with emotion,” said Kai Bird, co-author with Martin J. Sherwin of “American Prometheus,” a 2005 biography of Oppenheimer that won the Pulitzer Prize.

“History matters and what was done to Oppenheimer in 1954 was a travesty, a black mark on the honor of the nation,” Mr. Bird said. “Students of American history will now be able to read the last chapter and see that what was done to Oppenheimer in that kangaroo court proceeding was not the last word.”…

(12) THE YEAR’S FANCIEST PHYSICS TRICKS. Scientific American’s year-end roundup lists “6 Times Quantum Physics Blew Our Minds in 2022”. “Quantum telepathy, laser-based time crystals, a glow from empty space and an “unreal” universe—these are the most awesome (and awfully hard to understand) results from the subatomic realm we encountered in 2022…”

Here’s the first example:

THE UNIVERSE IS KINDA, SORTA UNREAL

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics went to researchers who spent decades proving the universe is not locally real—a feat that, to quote humorist Douglas Adams, “has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.” “Local” here means any object—an apple, for instance—can be influenced only by its immediate surroundings, not by happenings on the other side of the universe. “Real” means every object has definite properties regardless of how it is observed—no amount of squinting will change an apple from red to green. Except careful, repeated experimentation with entangled particles has conclusively shown such seemingly sensible restrictions do not always apply to the quantum realm, the most fundamental level of reality we can measure. If you’re uncertain as to what exactly the demise of local realism means for life, the universe and, well, everything, don’t worry: you’re not alone—physicists are befuddled, too.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George brings us into the meeting between “The Guys Who Wrote Frosty The Snowman”.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Rob Thornton, Cathy Green, Somtow Sucharitkul, Gordon Van Gelder, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 11/30/22 Mr. Balrog, I Move We Adjourn Combat Sine Die

(1) FUND FOR PETER DAVID. A GoFundMe has been started on behalf of writer Peter David, who has many health problems and faces mounting bills. “Peter David Fund”.

I’m fundraising for author Peter David and his family. He’s had some compounded health problems, and the bills are piling up! On top of kidney failure, and the steep medical bills incurred from that, he just had another series of strokes AND a mild heart attack.  

As we wish him a swift recovery, and send our love and support to his wife Kathleen and his family, let’s also pitch in and help with their medical bills and living expenses. 

Please give what you can to relieve some of the immense stress that this family is going through right now.  

On behalf of Peter, Kathleen, and the whole family, thank you!

The appeal had brought in $51,725 from 1100+ donors at the time this was written.

(2) ARISIA NAMES NEW CHAIR. Melissa Kaplan is the new acting con chair of Arisia 2023. She has written a statement about her conrunning background and why she volunteers to do this.

The past few months have been among the most tumultuous in Arisia’s long history. After the loss of our conchair Jodie Lawhorne, two people stepped up to complete his work. In late October we learned about a serious incident involving one of our volunteers that was reported but never written down many years ago. The individual was put through our current more robust incident response protocol and was subsequently banned from all future participation in Arisia. We also learned that the acting con chairs had had knowledge of this and despite that, had consulted with this individual about volunteering for Arisia 2023. Between that information, and increasing levels of unrelated personal stress on those acting con chairs, it was determined that it was best for all parties for them to step down. Where that left us was 7 weeks out from a convention with no one in charge. I reached out to the e-board and offered to fill in the gap.

So hi, my name is Melissa Kaplan and I’ll be your acting con chair for the next 6.5 weeks….

(3) WILLIS X 2. Dave Langford and Rob Hansen have assembled TAWF Times Two: The 1962 Trip Reports by Walt and Madeleine Willis into a book and made it available in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund if you please.

The Tenth Anniversary Willis Fund (TAWF) was organized to bring Walt Willis – this time with his wife Madeleine – to the 1962 Chicago Worldcon, ten years after the fan initiative that brought Walt alone to the 1952 Worldcon also held in Chicago. Both wrote trip reports: Walt’s was serialized in various fanzines and eventually collected as Twice Upon a Time in the monumental Warhoon #28 (1980) edited by Richard Bergeron. Madeleine’s instalments of The DisTAWF Side appeared in The SpeleoBem edited by Bruce Pelz, and have never until now been collected.

For this ebook, Rob Hansen has digitized Madeleine’s chapters, expanded them with comments and corrections from others (plus an unpublished letter from Walt and another from Madeleine) and written a new Foreword covering both reports. David Langford had the easier task of extracting Twice Upon a Time from Warhoon #28, unscrambling dates, correcting typos and restoring a fragment of lost text. Scans of all the original fanzine appearances at Fanac.org were a great help to both of us.

Released as an Ansible Editions ebook for the TAFF site on 1 December 2022. Cover photo of the Willises in 1957 from the collection of Norman Shorrock, probably taken by Peter West. Over 87,000 words.

(4) ANOTHER OPENING OF ANOTHER SHOW. “The Museum of Broadway Is Open. Here Are 10 Highlights.” The New York Times gives reasons to visit when you’re in town.

When a Broadway show closes, the next stop for the hundreds of costumes, setpieces and props is often … the dumpster.

“The producers often stop paying rent in a storage unit somewhere, which is heartbreaking,” said Julie Boardman, one of the founders of the Museum of Broadway, which opened in Times Square this month.

Boardman, 40, a Broadway producer whose shows include “Funny Girl” and “Company,” and Diane Nicoletti, the founder of a marketing agency, are looking to reroute those items to their museum, a dream five years in the making.

“We see it as an experiential, interactive museum that tells the story of Broadway through costumes, props and artifacts,” Nicoletti, 40, said of the four-floor, 26,000-square-foot space on West 45th Street, next to the Lyceum Theater….

‘Phantom of the Opera’ Chandelier Installation

Each of the 13,917 glistening crystals in this piece, which were fashioned by the German artist Ulli Böhmelmann into hanging strands, is meant to represent one performance the Broadway production of “The Phantom of the Opera” will have played from its opening on Jan. 26, 1988, through its closing night performance. Though the final show was originally set for Feb. 18, 2023, the production announced Tuesday that it had been pushed to April 16 amid strong ticket sales (Böhmelmann plans to add the necessary crystals).

‘Avenue Q’ Puppets

In the early days of the 2003 Broadway production of the puppet-filled musical comedy “Avenue Q,” the show’s low budget meant the puppeteers had to put their charges through quick changes. The show initially had only three Princeton puppets — but he had eight costumes — meaning the puppets took a beating from changing clothes multiple times eight shows a week. “Eventually, they had a puppet for every costume,” McDonald said.

Gershwin Theater Set Model

This scale model, which is just over five feet wide, was designed by Edward Pierce, the associate scenic designer of the original Broadway production of “Wicked,” and took four people seven weeks to build. It includes more than 300 individual characters — and another 300 seated audience members in the auditorium. (See if you can find the Easter egg: a small model of the set model, with the designers — who look like the actual designers — showing the director a future design for “Wicked.”)

Wicked set model

(5) THE BEGINNING. In “Back to Back and Belly to Belly and Other Epiphanies on Speculative Poetry”, Akua Lezli Hope shows where it all comes from.

The world’s first literature is speculative poetry.

We told each other stories and encoded them in the form of verse. The earliest written literature is poetry – The Story of Gilgamesh, The Iliad and Odyssey, The Ramayana and Mahabharata, Beowulf and other npoem myths, verse histories and tellings in cultures across and around the world.

I had an epiphany about speculative poetry.

It was there from the start, in my womb and my heart….

(6) PROBABLY AN ANNIVERSARY. “Hitchhiker’s at 42” and 3 Quarks Daily is celebrating. Because something to do with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy happened forty-two years ago. Didn’t it?

… To document the broader cultural impact of Hitchhiker’s, we’ve asked a number of public figures in science, the arts, the humanities, and government to reflect on how the book changed their own understanding of life, the universe, and everything.

The Hitchhiker series taught me to laugh at the absurd, to mock self-proclaimed genius, to put off searching for the meaning of life in favor of play, and to oppose time travel on the ground that proper tense usage would become too difficult. It also prepared me to understand that some Albany politicians are like Vogons, insofar as neither are above corruption in the same way that the ocean is not above the sky. And it made 42 my favorite number.” –Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and host of Stay Tuned and Doing Justice…

(7) FREE READ. Congratulations to Cora Buhlert, who has a new short story “Legacy of Steel” in the November 2022 issue of Swords and Sorcery Magazine. The other stories in the issue are “Sun in Shadow” by Sandra Unerman and “You Stand Before the Black Tower” by Nathaniel Webb.

(8)  MORE FROM THE MASTERS. Cora Buhlert also has posted a new Masters of the Universe photo story on her blog: “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Family’”.

…I have had some new arrivals recently, including at long last King Randor, which opens up a lot of possibilities for stories involving the royal family of Eternia.

One thing that is remarkably consistent over all versions of Masters of the Universe from the early mini-comics via the Filmation cartoon of the 1980s, the 2002 cartoon, the various comics, Masters of the Universe: Revelation all the way to the Netflix CGI show is that Prince Adam has a strained relationship with his father King Randor. Cause Randor always finds something to criticise about his son and heir. Adam is too lazy, too irresponsible, not princely enough, not interested enough in affairs of state, not heroic enough, too foolhardy and he also missed dinner or an official reception, because he was off saving Eternia….

(9) NO MERE METAPHOR. Douglas Kearney holds forth “On the Similarities Between Writing and Turning Oneself Into a Werewolf” at Literary Hub.

…While stretching my hands into claws, I hunt my memory. Have I ever felt talons grow from my fingertips? Do I know the twinge of lupine hair breaking my burning, blossoming skin? How does the paradigm of meaning-making shift when I find I can smell more keenly than I can see? In all these years, have I come closer to knowing?

You might suggest I use writing to account for these questions. Documenting my thoughts about them in a field journal—“May 26: I think I smelled a pig at one mile today.” Nope. I’ve no werewolf archive. There are a few poems, sure; yet they skin the lycanthrope to cover and do some other thing. Those poems, they are not telling you what I am telling you: that I have meant to be a werewolf, and that this has been, I’m afraid, a quiet, lifelong ambition, a discipline I’ve maintained longer and to less purpose, it would seem, than nearly all else….

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1998 [By Cat Eldridge.] Hobbit holes (New Zealand)

Stop me before this gets novella length!

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort. — The Hobbit

Only one of the movie sets in New Zealand survives and charmingly enough it’s the village where the hobbits resided. It was used for both trilogies and quite unsurprisingly is now a place with guided tours being offered every day. 

Jackson spotted it during a search by air for suitable locations using one of his airplanes, or so the story is now told, and thought it looked like a slice of England. Furthermore Alan Lee commented to him that the location’s terrain “looked as though Hobbits had already begun excavations” there. 

It became Hobbiton and the Shire with the facades of quite a few hobbit holes and associated gardens, a double arch bridge, hedges, and a mill. They erected an immense oak above Bag End that had been growing nearby and which was cut down and recreated in fibreglass on site complete with artificial leaves.

When I mean facades, I really mean just that. It’s not possible to go inside the as there is nothing inside them, just retaining walls and beyond that dirt. I’m guessing that the site is going to need expensive ongoing maintenance if it is going to survive long term. 

Bag End is the exception as they designed it so a little bit of interior has been designed to seen and the door will open so you can peek in. 

About those hobbit holes. No, the interior scenes for Bag End weren’t not shot here. (Of course they’d make lousy film sets, wouldn’t they? You can’t get cameras in there.) The interior of Bag End was shot in a studio in Wellington.  Ok, there are actually two Bag Ends as Ian McKelllen explains on his charming look at these:

Hobbits must appear smaller than the other characters in the film. When I, as Gandalf, meet Bilbo or Frodo at home, I bump my head on the rafters. (Tolkien didn’t think to mention it!) So there is a small Bag End set with small props to match. 

As Ian Holm and Elijah Wood would be too big within it, they have “scale doubles” who are of a matching size with the scenery and its miniature furniture. In the small set Bilbo and Frodo are played by Kiran Shah (Legend) who is in hobbit proportion to my Gandalf.

And of course there has to be a big Bag End, where the scale is human-sized and all the objects of the small set are duplicated but bigger. There the “hero actors” can play the hobbits but the camera expects a gigantic Gandalf and gets him in Paul Webster (a 7’4″ Wellingtonian) who substitutes for me.

So we’ve got a village full of hobbit hole facades that all look very charming as you can see here and you’ve got the rather amazing effect of creating the illusion of a hobbit hole interior that we can all think is real. I certainly did when I watched the first Hobbit film. I may not have cared for the film itself, but oh my the scenery and the depiction of Bag End was stellar! 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 30, 1835 Mark Twain. It’s been decades since I read it but I still know I loved A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. His other genre work is The Mysterious Stranger in which Satan might be visiting us went unpublished in his lifetime and it’s only relatively recently published with the University of California Press editions of all his completed and uncompleted versions in one volume that a reader can see what he intended. (Died 1910.)
  • Born November 30, 1893 E. Everett Evans. Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Member of First Fandom who started out with fan writing, but eventually became a published genre author as well. He helped to found the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) and served as its president and editor of its publication. Food for Demons was a chapbook compilation of his fantasy tales, though he was generally not considered to be a good fiction writer. Fandom’s Big Heart Award, which was founded by Forrest J Ackerman in 1959, was named for him for its first 40 years. In 2018, Bob Tucker’s fanzine Le Zombie, of which he had co-edited two issues, won a Retro Hugo Award. (Died 1958.) (JJ)
  • Born November 30, 1906 John Dickson Carr. Author of the Gideon Fell detective stories, some of which were decidedly genre adjacent and The Lost Gallows is apparently genre. The Burning Court with Fell is on this list as are his vampire mythos backstoried novels, Three Coffins and He Who Whispers. And I really should note his Sir Henry Merrivale character has at one genre outing in Reader is Warned. The usual suspects have a more than decent stock of his offerings. (Died 1977.)
  • Born November 30, 1950 Chris Claremont, 72. Writer in the comic realm. Best known for his astounding twenty year run on the Uncanny X-Men starting in 1976. During his tenure at Marvel, he co-created at least forty characters. Looking at his bibliography, I see that he did Sovereign Seven as a creator own series with DC publishing it.  And then there’s the matter of Lucas providing the notes for The Chronicles of the Shadow War trilogy to follow the Willow film and then contracting our writer to make them exist.  Anyone ever encountered these?
  • Born November 30, 1952 Debra Doyle. Writer, Filker, and Fan. Her novel Knight’s Wyrd, co-written with her husband and collaborator James D. Macdonald, won a Mythopoeic Award for Children’s Literature. Most of their co-written works are fantasy, but their Mageworlds series also crosses into space opera territory. As filker Malkin Grey, she and Pergyn Wyndryder won a Pegasus Award for Best Historical Song. She was an instructor at the Viable Paradise Writer’s Workshop, and has been Guest of Honor at several conventions. (Died 2020.) (JJ)
  • Born November 30, 1955 Kevin Conroy. Frell, another great one lost too soon. Without doubt, best known for voicing Batman on Batman: The Animated Series and many other DCU series.  On Justice League Action, the other characters often noting his stoic personality.  I’ve not seen it, but on Batwoman, he plays Bruce Wayne in the “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two” episode.  (Died 2022.)
  • Born November 30, 1952 Jill Eastlake, 70. IT Manager, Costumer, Conrunner, and Fan who is known for her elaborate and fantastical costume designs; her costume group won “Best in Show” at the 2004 Worldcon.  A member of fandom for more than 50 years, she belonged to her high school’s SF club, then became an early member of NESFA, the Boston-area fan club, and served as its president for 4 years. She has served on the committees for numerous Worldcons and regional conventions, co-chaired a Costume-Con, and chaired two Boskones. She was the Hugo Award ceremony coordinator for the 1992 Worldcon, and has run the Masquerade for numerous conventions. Her extensive contributions were honored when she was named a Fellow of NESFA in 1976, and in 2011 the International Costumer’s Guild presented her with their Lifetime Achievement Award. She and her fan husband Don (who is irrationally fond of running WSFS Business Meetings) were Fan Guests of Honor at Rivercon.
  • Born November 30, 1957 Martin Morse Wooster. He discovered fandom in 1974 when he heard about “a big sci-fi con” in downtown Washington where admission was $10 at the door.  He had ten bucks, and so attended Discon II at 16.  A year later, he discovered fanzines through Don Miller, and discovered he liked writing book reviews.  He started contributing to File 770 in 1978 and continued for the rest of his life. He was one of twelve founders of the Potomac River Science Fiction Society, which split from the Washington Science Fiction Association in 1975, and regularly attends PRSFS meetings to discuss books. Lost his life to a hit-and-run driver on November 12. (Died 2022.) (JJ)

(12) THERE’S SOMETHING YOU DON’T SEE EVERY DAY, EDGAR. “Passenger Jet Flies Over Launchpad Right as SpaceX Rocket Takes Off” reports Futurism.

Passengers on board a United Airlines commercial jet flying over Florida’s Cape Canaveral were able to spot an amazingly rare sight in the distance: a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifting off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, far below….

(13) HITCHCOCKIAN HORROR. “’Lost in Space’ star Bill Mumy shares ‘scary’ moment with Hitchcock, claims ‘he’s the monster of the story’” at Yahoo!  I don’t want to spoil the anecdote with an excerpt, however, you film history buffs will be interested.

Bill Mumy has worked with some of the most celebrated filmmakers in Hollywood history – but not all of his experiences were out of this world.

The former child star, who made his mark in the ‘60s series “Lost in Space,” has recently written a memoir titled “Danger, Will Robinson: The Full Mumy.” In it, he details his rise to stardom and the numerous encounters he had with TV and film icons along the way – including Alfred Hitchcock.

Mumy worked with the filmmaker in the TV series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” for the episode “Bang! You’re Dead!”. It was filmed in the summer of 1961 when Mumy was 7 years old….

(14) LEADER OF THE PACK. “Toxoplasma-Infected Wolves More Likely to Lead Packs, Study Finds”The Scientist has details.

Wolves infected with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii are far more likely to become pack leaders than uninfected wolves and are also more likely to disperse from the pack they’re born into, a study published November 24 in Communications Biology reports. The finding points to a possible connection between the infamous parasite and wolf population health.

Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is a “mind control” parasite that can infect any warm-blooded animal, the paper states. The protozoan can only reproduce sexually in the guts of cats, and often spreads through contact with infected feline feces. Infection with T. gondii causes hosts to accrue permanent brain cysts and also induces toxoplasmosis, a disease that can embolden some host species, causing infected animals to seek out more situations in which they can transmit the parasite. Mice infected with T. gondii lose their fear of cat urine, for example, making them more likely to be killed and eaten by a cat, enabling the parasite to reproduce once again…

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Snopes has a surprising answer to the question “Was a Harrison Ford Cameo Cut from ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’?” Well, you’re not surprised now – it wouldn’t be worth linking to if the answer was “No”, would it?

…The film, which was released in 1982, was written by Melissa Matheson, whom Ford was dating at the time. During a 2012 reunion for the film, actor Henry Thomas, who played the main character, Elliott, told Entertainment Weekly that he was just excited at the prospect of meeting Ford.

“When I met Steven, the first thing out of my mouth was I think, ‘I love Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ and my hero was Harrison Ford,” Thomas said. “I basically was just excited to meet Steven in hopes that I would meet Harrison.”

Ford eventually agreed to shoot a cameo scene with Thomas, playing an uptight school principal who would scold Elliott after the famous frog escape scene, in which Elliott would also kiss a girl in his class. Spielberg also spoke about the cameo in an interview with EW: “He did the scene where E.T. is home levitating all of the stuff for his communicator up the stairs. Elliott is in the principal’s office after the frog incident. We don’t ever see Harrison’s face. We just hear his voice, see his body.”…

(16) VIDEO OF A PREVIOUS DAY. A short clip from Futurama illustrates why, “In the end, it was not guns or bombs that defeated the aliens, but that humblest of all God’s creatures, the Tyrannosaurus Rex.”

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Standback, Rich Lynch, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rick Moen.]

Pixel Scroll 11/11/22 There Was A Filer Who Had A Blog, And Pixel Was Its Name-O

(1) LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITY NEARBY AS WINDYCON BEGINS. [Item by Steven H Silver.] This year’s Windycon [in the Chicago area] started out in an interesting way.  A police presence in the inside of the ring access road due to a high-speed chase and a search for bullet casings.  Never good to see helicopter views of the building your con is in.  Some inconvenience to members getting in and out of the parking lot, but otherwise no real impact.

File 770 located a brief video report here: “Lombard police investigating report of shots fired at Yorktown Shopping Center”.

(2) VONNEGUT CENTENARY. “100 years after his birth, Kurt Vonnegut is more relevant than ever to science” asserts Science.

…As a philosopher, Vonnegut was no stranger to science. Under pressure from his brother, a renowned atmospheric chemist, he studied biochemistry at Cornell University in the 1940s before dropping out and enlisting in the Army during World War II. He later worked as an institutional writer for General Electric and, until his death in 2007, said he spent more time in the company of scientists than of writers.

Perhaps that’s why, beneath his persistent skepticism about science, there was always a deep appreciation for its potential. In the novel Cat’s Cradle, for instance, a dictator on the brink of death urges his people to embrace science over religion because “science is magic that works.” Even within ultimately dystopian tales, “you can see a sort of romanticization of the scientific endeavor,” says David Koepsell, a philosopher of science and technology at Texas A&M University, College Station….

(3) E.T. FOR SALE. The “Icons & Idols: Hollywood” auction presented by Julien’s Auctions and Turner Classic Movies will feature this high ticket headliner: the E.T. filming model.

Headlining this epic event is the E.T. the Extra Terrestrial Hero “#1” Mechatronic filming model “actor” that brought the eponymous character to life in Steven Spielberg’s 1982 classic E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (estimate: $2,000,000 – $3,000,000). Pre-dating modern CGI technology and effects, this one-of-a-kind cinematographic relic (constructed in 1981) features 85 points of movement and is regarded as an engineering masterpiece.

“Carlo Rambaldi was E.T.’s Geppetto.” – Steven Spielberg

Created by “The Father of E.T.,” Carlo Rambaldi was an Italian special effects master, designer and mechatronics expert best known for his work on King Kong (Paramount Pictures, 1976), Alien (20th Century Fox, 1979), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Columbia Pictures, 1977), Dune (Universal Pictures/DDL Corp. 1984), and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

(4) GOLDSMITHS PRIZE. The 2022 winner of the Goldsmiths Prize is the non-genre novel Diego Garcia by Natasha Soobramanien and Luke Williams.

It won out over five other works on the shortlist, which included two of genre interest, Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies by Maddie Mortimer (Picador) and Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi (Faber).

(5) THE BIG SQUEEZE. Dave Doering was left scratching his head after reading the plug for “BookyCon 2022: A Mega Meta Book Festival”.

You up for the world’s largest virtual book festival? 
Reserve your ticket here! (Space is limited)

(6) KEVIN CONROY (1955-2022). Kevin Conroy, longtime voice of the animated Batman, died November 10 at the age of 66. Deadline says he reportedly had been battling cancer:

… An actor with credits on stage, television and film, Conroy became a premier voice actor as the title character of Batman: The Animated Series (1992-96). He’d eventually give voice to the Dark Knight in nearly 60 different productions, including 15 films and more than 15 animated series spanning nearly 400 episodes and more than 100 hours of television.

Conroy also voiced Batman in dozens of video games and was featured as a live-action Bruce Wayne in the Arrowverse’s 2019-20 “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover event.

“Kevin was perfection,” said Mark Hamill, who voiced the Joker opposite Conroy’s Batman. “He was one of my favorite people on the planet, and I loved him like a brother. He truly cared for the people around him – his decency shone through everything he did. Every time I saw him or spoke with him, my spirits were elevated.”…

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1946 [By Cat Eldridge.] Molle’ Mystery Theatre’s “Come Back to Me” (1946)

This May 17, 1946 radio show is an adaption of Ray Bradbury’s story, “Killer, Come Back to Me” which was published two years earlier in  the July 1944 issue of Detective Tales. It was adapted for radio by Joseph Ruskall.

It was a fairly meaty story at twenty pages when published in Detective Tales.  It was in three parts, the first of which describes Julie, a stereotypical Forties femme fatale who it turn out is anything but not, and Broghman, a young man who conducts a robbery alone and then finds himself now allied with her. Or so he thinks.

The second part of this story is about the dealings of a Los Angeles crime syndicate Angeles and Broghman’s realization that he is not afraid of them; while the third part is at a meeting between him and the head of the syndicate, who naturally thinks of his thugs as “respectable businessmen” which they are most decidedly not. 

The primary actors here were Richard Widmark and Alice Reinhart in the lead roles. Widmark as one site put it has “the leading role of a cheap hoodlum with delusions of grandeur who assumes the role of a dead gangster while taking up with the crook’s delusional girlfriend.” Alice Reinhart Is Julie, that femme fatale and really delusional girlfriend.

Mollé Mystery Theatre was a thirty-minute radio program that ran from 1943 to 1948 on the NBC network before moving to the CBS network where the show became only the stories of Inspector Hearthstone. It would end its run on the ABC network.  The show was sponsored first by Sterling Drugs, manufacturers of Mollé Brushless Shaving Cream, hence the name. When it was not sponsored by Mollé, the program was called Mystery Theater.

Of its estimated 237 episodes, only 73 are known to be still in circulation.

You can hear it thisaway.

The original story is collected in, not at all surprisingly, Killer, Come Back to Me: The Crime Stories of Ray Bradbury which is published by Titan Books. It’s available from the usual suspects. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 11, 1922 Kurt Vonnegut Jr. The Sirens of Titan was his first SF novel followed by Cat’s Cradle which after turning down his original thesis in 1947, the University of Chicago awarded him his master’s degree in anthropology in 1971 for this novel. Next was Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death which is one weird book and an even stranger film. It was nominated for best novel Nebula and Hugo Awards but lost both to Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. I’m fairly sure Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday is his last genre novel there’s a lot of short fiction where something of a genre nature might have occurred. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 11, 1916 Donald Franson. Longtime fan who lived most of his life in LA. Was active in the N3F and LASFS including serving as the secretary for years and was a member of the Neffer Amateur Press Alliance.  Author of A Key to the Terminology of Science-Fiction Fandom. Also wrote A History of the Hugo, Nebula, and International Fantasy Awards, Listing Nominees & Winners, 1951-1970 and An Author Index to Astounding/Analog: Part II—Vol. 36, #1, September, 1945 to Vol. 73 #3, May, 1964, the first with Howard DeVore. (Died 2003.)
  • Born November 11, 1917 Mack Reynolds. He’d make Birthday Honors just for his first novel, The Case of the Little Green Men, published in 1951, which as you likely know is a murder mystery set at a Con.  He gets Serious Geek Credits for writing the first original authorized classic Trek novel Mission to Horatius.  And I’ve seriously enjoyed his short fiction. Wildside Press has seriously big volumes of his fiction up at the usual suspects for very cheap prices. (Died 1983.)
  • Born November 11, 1925 Jonathan Winters. Yes, he did do quite a few genre performances including an early one as James Howard “Fats” Brown in “A Game of Pool”, a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone. He next shows up as the very, very silly role of Albert Paradine II in More Wild, Wild West. He had a recurring role in Mork & Mindy as a character named Mearth. You’ll find him in The Shadow film, The Adventures of Rocky and BullwinkleThe Flintstones, both of The Smurfs films and quite a bit more. He of course was a guest on The Muppets Show. Who wasn’t? (Died 2013.)
  • Born November 11, 1945 Delphyne Joan Hanke-Woods. Artist and Illustrator whose grandfather taught her to read using science fiction pulp magazines. After discovering genre fandom at Windycon in 1978, she became one of the leading fan artists in fanzines of the time, including providing numerous covers for File 770. In addition to convention art shows, her art also appeared professionally, illustrating books by R.A. Lafferty, Joan D. Vinge, and Theodore Sturgeon, and in magazines including Galaxy, Fantastic Films, and The Comics Journal. She won two FAAn Awards for Best Serious Artist and was nominated six times for the Best Fan Artist Hugo, winning in 1986. She was Fan Guest of Honor at several conventions, including back at a Windycon, where her fandom started. (Died 2013.) (JJ) 
  • Born November 11, 1947 Victoria Schochet, 65. Wife of Eric Van Lustbader. She co-edited with John Silbersack and Mellisa Singer the most excellent The Berkley Showcase: New Writings in Science Fiction and Fantasy that came out in the Eighties. She has worked editorially at Analog as Managing Editor.
  • Born November 11, 1948 Kat Bushman, 74. Costumer and Fan from the Los Angeles area who has chaired/co-chaired Costume-Cons, and has worked on or organized masquerades at a number of Westercons, Loscons, and a Worldcon. She received Costume-Con’s Life Achievement Award in 2015. She is a member of LASFS and of SCIFI, and ran for DUFF in 1987. Her essay “A Masquerade by Any Other Name” appeared in the L.A.con III Worldcon Program Book. (JJ) 

(9) GOING ROGUE. For a spoiler-filled look at Andor, read Variety’s profile: “’Star Wars’ Series ‘Andor’ Showrunner Talks Sex, Revolution, Geekdom”.

… As anyone who has watched the show and/or been on Twitter since it debuted Sept. 21 knows, “Andor” has been one of the most enthusiastically well received “Star Wars” projects of the Disney era. Between its sprawling cast and labyrinthine plotting, the 12-episode series has raced headlong into territory many “Star Wars” fans did not know was possible: mature, dramatic storytelling about everyday people. With each new episode, the social media adulation for “Andor” has only grown louder, as millennials and Gen Xers who grew up with “Star Wars” have become further enthralled by the realization that the family-friendly franchise has proven capable of growing up with them….

(10) SOFT LANDING. “NASA Launched an Inflatable Flying Saucer, Then Landed It in the Ocean” – the New York Times takes a look at the future of Martian valet parking.

On Thursday morning, NASA sent a giant inflatable device to space and then brought it back down from orbit, splashing in the ocean near Hawaii.

You might think of it as a bouncy castle from space, although the people in charge of the mission would prefer you did not.

“I would say that would be inaccurate,” Neil Cheatwood, principal investigator for the Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator, or LOFTID for short, said of the comparison during an interview.

LOFTID may sound like just an amusing trick, but the $93 million project demonstrates an intriguing technology that could help NASA in its goal of getting people safely to the surface of Mars someday. The agency has landed a series of robotic spacecraft on Mars, but the current approaches only work for payloads weighing up to about 1.5 tons — about the bulk of a small car….

(11) VERBAL HINT. The BBC’s Fred Harris talks to game developers at Infocom about interactive fiction in this clip from 1985.

Fred Harris goes behind the scenes at Boston software company Infocom. The developer has enjoyed great success with its line of text adventure games – the likes of Zork, Planetfall, Enchanter, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – which eschew graphics in favour of a simple text display, and arcade gameplay in favour of what the company calls ‘interactive fiction’. Game designer Dave Liebling – one of Infocom’s founder members – is currently putting the finishing touches to a new game called Spellbreaker. He explains the processes that go in to making a good text-adventure game. This clip is from Micro Live, originally broadcast 29 November, 1985.

(12) PAINT YOUR DRAGON. From Kevin Smith’s YouTube channel: “Curious George: An Evening with GEORGE R.R. MARTIN and KEVIN SMITH!”

A Bayonne boy goes down the shore to geek out with a Highlands nerd about comic books, movies, TV, the dawn of fandom, writing, success, failure, and DRAGONS! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime audience with a living legend: the celebrated, world renowned author of the A Song of Fire & Ice novels, the source for HBO’s Game of Thrones! Watch as he’s interviewed by a guy who was traumatized by The Red Wedding!

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

Celebrating “E.T.” On His 40th Birthday

By Steve Vertlieb: On June 11, 1982, America and the world received the joyous gift of one of the screen’s most beloved fantasy film classics and, during that memorable Summer, a young aspiring television film critic reviewed a new film from director Steven Spielberg called E.T.

I was being groomed at the time to be a weekly entertainment and film critic for WTAF TV29 (then an affiliate of Taft Broadcasting). The segments would have aired on Friday mornings, as part of the station’s daily, hour long “Newsprobe” news and information series. The TV station was subsequently purchased by Fox Television, and changed its call letters to the current WTXF TV.

While considered a noble “pilot” effort by everyone concerned, the idea was ultimately abandoned, and this fledgling television film critic found his on air career in shambles, except for some sporadic “guest” appearances in museums, universities, and on competing tv stations.

Here, however, and in celebration of a beloved film’s first release, is a portion of that original television review from forty years ago …

I was taken completely by surprise and delight by this enchanting holiday gift from NBC Universal that premiered Thanksgiving morning, 2019, during NBC’s telecast of the annual Macy’s holiday parade.

Sure, you can argue that it’s a crass commercialization of Steven Spielberg’s beloved 1982 children’s classic fantasy but … you know what … it’s a beautiful, sweet, and loving sequel featuring Henry Thomas reprising his original role as Elliott, fully realized special effects, and John Williams’ gorgeous original motion picture score.

If this doesn’t fill your eyes with tears of happiness, nothing ever will again. What a joyous Thanksgiving surprise, gift, and treat for “children” of all ages. Celebrating Steven Spielberg’s beloved fantasy classic which premiered forty years ago on June 11, 1982.

Pixel Scroll 6/19/22 She Filed Me Into A Scroll! (I Got Better!)

(1) HARASSMENT CAMPAIGN. [Item by Meredith.] Someone(s) used the names and email addresses of several members of sf/f fandom including Paul Weimer, Patrick S Tomlinson, John Scalzi, and Adam Rakunas to send racist abuse to a black author (@fairyfemmes) through the contact form on their websites (where the email address can be entered manually). The author originally believed it was real, but is now wanting to know who is behind it. They’ve taken their account private.

John Scalzi tweeted:

Paul Weimer posted on Patreon about “The Trolls Harassing others in my name”.

The Trolls that have harassed me for years in my name have come up with a new and horrible trick–they are harassing others, in this case, a POC, and using my name to do it.  

So it’s a double whammy–to hurt someone else, and to blacken my name at the same time.

Patrick S. Tomlinson addressed a message sent under his name, and another from the person posing as Adam Rakunas.

(2) TONOPAH PROGRAM UPDATED. The most recent (June 19) Westercon 74 Program Schedule  version has downloadable PDFs of the Program Grid, which shows items by date/time/location. Click on the link.

(3) WISCON’S COVID OUTCOME. The “WisCon 2022 Post-Con COVID-19 Report” begins with a fully detailed account of the extensive COVID-19 safety measures instituted by the committee, then assesses the results. 

…Two weeks out from the end of the convention, we are stopping our case tracking efforts. While it’s impossible to say with any certainty whether some members arrived sick, contracted COVID-19 during travel to/from, or contracted COVID-19 at the con, we can, with much gratitude, report that we had a total reported count of 13 cases including one possible false positive, or 3% of our estimated 407 in-person attendance. That’s just about miraculous.

We want to especially extend our thanks to those who tested positive very soon after arriving and took the necessary measures to take care of themselves and keep those around them safe, up to and including leaving the convention entirely. We know it must have been so gut-wrenching and disappointing. Thank you….

(4) STOP DISCOUNTING CRAFTSMANSHIP. Mark Lawrence reacts to a viral tweet by someone who rates books highly for other things than good writing in “I don’t care how good a writer you are…”

…It’s as if people are celebrating the idea that writing doesn’t matter and that “good writing” is some form of intellectual elitism that doesn’t have anything to do with them. They’re death metal fans and they don’t care about opera.

But that is, of course, nonsense. It’s akin to saying “I don’t care how good a brain surgeon you are, as long as you get this tumour out.” “I don’t care how good a mechanic you are, as long as you fix my car.” Sure, the end is the thing that’s important to you … but the end is generally strongly correlated with the means….

(5) SCARE PALS. Adrienne Celt advises New York Times Magazine readers that “You Need a Horror Movie Friend for a More Frightening, Less Lonely Life”.

… A lot of people hate horror movies, but I don’t. In fact, I frequently find myself strong-arming my friends and loved ones into watching something scarier than they would prefer, just for the company. It’s a difference of philosophy as much as a difference in taste. Horror deniers often claim there’s nothing emotionally valuable in the experience of being frightened. I disagree. When I first watched “The Last Unicorn” (a horror movie masquerading as a children’s cartoon) at age 8, the image of a naked harpy devouring a witch was burned into my brain, but so was the realization that the conditions that created the harpy also allowed for the unicorn. The existence of horror is inevitably proximate to the existence of wondrous possibility.

Meeting another person who loves horror as much as I do, then, is like meeting a fellow traveler from my home country while stuck somewhere distant and strange….

(6) A LOT TO LIKE. Rich Horton continues his project of filling in the historic blank spaces with “Hugo Nomination Recommendations, 1954” at Strange at Ecbatan.

… This was a remarkable year for SF novels, and the five that I list as nominees — the same list the Retro Hugo nominators picked — are all certified classics in the field. There some impressive alternate choices too — among those I list, Leiber’s The Sinful Ones (an expansion and in my opinion an improvement on his 1950 short novel “You’re All Alone”) is a personal favorite. In my Locus article I picked The Caves of Steel as the winner, but I’m really torn. Nowadays I might lean to either More Than Human, or to the Retro Hugo winner, Fahrenheit 451….

(7) REREADING PRATCHETT. Nicholas Whyte discusses “Mort, by Terry Pratchett” at From the Heart of Europe.

…You’ve read it too, so I won’t go on at length. It is as funny as I remembered. I was pleasantly surprised on re-reading by the breadth and depth of references to classic (and Classical) literature. The main driver of the Sto Lat subplot, the rewriting of history and destiny, is actually more of a science fiction trope, rarely found in fantasy (and the description of it is fairly sfnal). And Death’s slogan resonates still for me, 35 years on.

THERE’S NO JUSTICE. THERE’S JUST ME.

(8) A VISION FOR SF. Pop quiz: What editor’s name immediately comes to your mind when you read the statement that Astounding shaped modern science fiction? My guess is it won’t be the name that came to Colin Marshall’s mind when he wrote this post for Open Culture: “Revisit Vintage Issues of Astounding Stories, the 1930s Magazine that Gave Rise to Science Fiction as We Know It”.

Having been putting out issues for 92 years now, Analog Science Fiction and Fact stands as the longest continuously published magazine of its genre. It also lays claim to having developed or at least popularized that genre in the form we know it today. When it originally launched in December of 1929, it did so under the much more whiz-bang title of Astounding Stories of Super-Science. But only three years later, after a change of ownership and the installation as editor of F. Orlin Tremaine, did the magazine begin publishing work by writers remembered today as the defining minds of science fiction….

(9) HAPPY 90TH. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, classical music critic Michael Andor Brodeur celebrates John Williams’s 90th birthday with recommendations about his orchestral music to try (ever heard his flute concerto or his violin concerti?) “Composer John Williams being feted with performances at Kennedy Center”.

… For “John Williams: A 90th Birthday Gala,” conductor Stéphane Denève will lead the NSO in a sprawling celebration of Willams’s famed film music. Special guests cellist Yo-Yo Ma, filmmaker Steven Spielberg and German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter will cue up selections from some of Williams’s most beloved scores, including “Close Encounters,” “E.T.,” “Harry Potter,” “Indiana Jones” and “Schindler’s List.” The program will also highlight Williams’s most recently lauded work, the score to Kobe Bryant and Glen Keane’s Oscar-winning 2017 short film “Dear Basketball.

A pair of companion concerts flanking the gala celebration will focus on two of Williams’s best-known scores — representing a fraction of his 29 collaborations with Spielberg. (Their latest project, “The Fabelmans,” is due out in November). Steven Reineke will conduct the composer’s scores for “E.T.” and “Jurassic Park” on June 22 and 24, respectively. (The NSO will also perform Williams’s score for “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” with a screening of the film at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center on July 29.)

Taken together, the birthday party is three days of music that will hit all the subconscious buttons that Williams has wired into our collective memories over the past five decades — a rich catalogue of instantly identifiable melodies, moods and motifs that can conjure entire worlds with the stroke of a bow.

The party, however, conspicuously forgot to invite Williams’s concert music — the province of his output that truly opened my ears to his compositional mastery. (It also leaves out selections from “A.I. Artificial Intelligence,” a deep cut that represents some of his best work with Spielberg, but that’s another story.)

I get it. We have come to equate Williams with Hollywood so closely that it can be hard to fathom him freed of cinema’s frame.

But in Williams’s many concertos, chamber works and solo pieces, his familiar compositional voice is fully present, albeit put to completely different use. His connections to multiple classical traditions register more clearly: his Berg-ian penchant for darkness and dissonance, his Copland-esque ease with evoking natural grandeur, his inheritance of gestures from Debussy, Wagner, Tchaikovsky and Korngold.

Here are some of my favorite Williams works that have nothing to do with the movies — and have a lot more depth than you might expect from a composer we associate with the silver screen….

One of the pieces Michael Andor Brodeur recommended of John Williams was his “Fanfare For Fenway” so here it is as Williams and the Boston Pops perform the world premiere at Fenway Park in 2012.

(10) THINK FAST. Deadline calls it “Zaslav’s First Movie Crisis: What To Do With Ezra Miller, The Erratic Star Of Warner Bros’ $200M ‘Flash’ Franchise Launch”

Even though it isn’t on the Warner Bros release calendar until June 23, 2023, The Flash is becoming Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s first movie crisis, because of the escalating coverage of incidents of volatile and odd behavior involving the film’s star, Ezra Miller.

Zaslav has made clear his desire to grow the DC Universe to MCU scale and has all the ingredients of a first foot forward in The Flash, including the return of Michael Keaton as Batman along with a reprise by Ben Affleck, a $200 million budget and a hot director in Andy Muschietti, who delivered the blockbuster It for the studio. The Warner Bros Discovery CEO exercised his well known penchant for micro-management by declining to greenlight Wonder Twins for being too niche. Zaslav will have to soon make a decision of what to do with the completed picture that is The Flash, and what to do with a young actor who appears to have serious off-set issues….

(11) VERTLIEB MEDICAL NEWS. Steve Vertlieb is home after his fifth hospital stay of the year. He brings everyone up-to-date in “Back To The Suture 3” on Facebook.

… Days upon days of antibiotic treatment were required before they dared to open the wound and clean out the bacteria. This additional procedure was accomplished on Monday, June 13th.

Consequently, I was admitted yet again to the cardiac unit where I remained for nine days more until my delayed and eventual release this afternoon. I’ve a “Wound V.A.C.” attached to my groin where it hangs rather uncomfortably, and shall continue to do so for, perhaps, the next week or two. I’m home once more, and praying that this is where I shall be permitted at long last to remain….

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY

1956 [By Cat Eldridge.] Forbidden Planet debuted sixty years ago on this date in the United Kingdom. I had the extremely good fortune of seeing Forbidden Planet at one of those boutique cinema houses some four decades back. Great sound and print, and a respectful audience who were there to see the film so everyone paid attention to it. 

It was produced by Nicholas Nayfack who had no genre background and who would die of a heart attack, age forty-nine just two years later. It was directed by Fred Wilcox, best known for Lassie, Come Home. The script was written by Cyril Hume who had prior to this written scripts for two Tarzan films. It is said that is based off “The Tempest” as conceived in a story by Irving Block and Allen Adler. Huh. 

I’ll skip the cast other than Robbie the Robot. He cost at least one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars to produce, and was based off the design originating with ideas and sketches by production designer Arnold “Buddy” Gillespie, art director Arthur Lonergan, and writer Irving Block. Robbie was operated (uncredited at the time) by stuntmen Frankie Darro and Frankie Carpenter, both rather short actors. And his voice in the film was done in post-production by actor Marvin Miller. 

The budget was about two million of which it was later estimated that Robbie was actually well over ten percent of that because of the cost of Miller’s time which added considerably to his cost. It made two point eight million, so yes it lost money. 

So what did the critics think? Variety thought it had “Imaginative gadgets galore, plus plenty of suspense and thrills, make the production a top offering in the space travel category” while the Los Angeles Times thought it was “more than another science-fiction movie, with the emphasis on fiction; it is a genuinely thought-through concept of the future, and the production MGM has bestowed on it gives new breadth and dimension to that time-worn phrase, ‘out of this world.’” 

It has a most stellar eighty-five percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 19, 1915 — Julius Schwartz. He’s best known as a longtime editor at DC Comics, where at various times he was primary editor for the Superman and Batman lines. Just as interestingly, he founded the Solar Sales Service literary agency (1934–1944) where Schwartz represented such writers as Bradbury, Bester,  Bloch, Weinbaum, and Lovecraft which included some of Bradbury’s very first published work and Lovecraft’s last such work. He also published Time Traveller, one of the first fanzines along with Mort Weisinger and Forrest J Ackerman. (Died 2004.)
  • Born June 19, 1921 — Louis Jourdan. Fear No Evil and Ritual of Evil, two very low budget TV horror films in the late Sixties that don’t show up on Rotten Tomatoes, appear to be his first venture into our realm. And no, I can’t say I’ve seen either one of them. He’d play Count Dracula in, errr, Count Dracula a few years later which gets a most excellent seventy-eight rating at Rotten Tomatoes. And then comes the role you most likely remember him for, Dr. Anton Arcane in Swamp Thing which he reprised in The Return of Swamp Thing. (No, don’t ask what they got for ratings. Please don’t ask.) Definitely popcorn films at their very best. Oh, and let’s not forget he was Kamal Khan, the villain in Octopussy! (It’s Moore, again don’t ask.) (Died 2015.)
  • Born June 19, 1926 — Josef Nesvadba. A Czech writer, best known in his SF short stories, many of which have appeared in English translation. ISFDB lists a number of stories as appearing in English and two collections of his translated stories were published, In The Footsteps of the Abominable Snowman : Stories of Science and Fantasy and Vampires Ltd.: Stories of Science and Fantasy. Neither’s available from the usual suspects though Cora can read him in German. (Died 2005.)
  • Born June 19, 1947 — Salman Rushdie, 75. I strongly believe that everything he does has some elements of magic realism in it. (So let the arguments begin on that statement as they will.) So which of his novels are really genre? I’d say The Ground Beneath Her FeetGrimus (his first and largely forgotten sf novel), Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights and Haroun and the Sea of Stories which I essayed here. If you’ve not read anything by him, I’d start with The Ground Beneath Her Feet which is by far both one of his best works and one of his most understandable ones as well.
  • Born June 19, 1952 — Virginia Hey, 70. Best remembered  for her role as Pa’u Zotoh Zhaan in the fantastic Farscape series and playing the Warrior Woman in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. She’s also Rubavitch, the mistress of the KGB Head, General Pushkin, in The Living Daylights. She also had a brief appearance as a beautician in The Return of Captain Invincible, an Australian musical comedy superhero film. No, I’ve not seen it, so who has? 
  • Born June 19, 1957 — Jean Rabe, 65. She’s a genre author and editor who has worked on the DragonlanceForgotten RealmsRogue Angel and BattleTech series, as well as many others. Ok I admit to a degree of fascination with such writers as I’m a devotee of the Rogue Angel audiobooks that GraphicAudio does and she’s written at least five of the source novels under the house name of Alex Archer. She has won the Internation Assoication of Media Tie-In Writers’ Faust Award for Lifetime Achievement. 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • Off the Mark celebrates Fathers Day.
  • zach can foretell the present!

(15) OVERCOMER. [Item by Steven French.] Interesting interview with Sarah Hall, author of plague novel Burntcoat (not sure writing a book during the pandemic is quite comparable to what Sarah Connor did but ok …) “Sarah Hall: ‘I used to almost fear opening a book’”.

When did you begin writing Burntcoat?
On the first day of the first lockdown in March 2020, with notebooks and a pen, which I’d not done since my first novel, 20 years ago. It felt like a response to what was going on – this odd scribbling in the smallest room in the house, really early in the morning when it was quiet and eerie.

And you kept it up even while home schooling your daughter?
There was some part of me that thought: “This is just one more thing that’s going to make it difficult to work and I’m going to do it anyway.” I was anxious, but I’m a single parent and I go into, as I call it, Sarah Connor mode from The Terminator: it’s out there, here’s my child, what do I need to do? Get buff! I got pains in my hand because I wasn’t used to writing so much.

(16) WACKY WIKI. If for any reason you were wondering whether Vox Day’s Infogalactic is still around, Camestos Felapton permitted his eyeballs to be stabbed with its content in order to research this post: “Incredibly, Voxopedia is still running”.

(17) THE CENTER WILL NOT HOLD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, A.A. Dowd celebrates the 40th anniversary of E.T., saying the film “has the simplicity of a fable and the texture of ordinary American life.” “’E.T.,’ 40 years later, is still the most soulful of box-office sensations”.

… Not that the movie subscribes to the idea of adolescence as a carefree, unburdened time. By now, it’s conventional wisdom that “E.T.” grew out of Spielberg’s memories of his emotionally fraught teenage years. The director modeled his title character on a real imaginary friend he came up with to cope with his parents’ divorce. As written by Melissa Mathison, who combined elements from two scrapped Spielberg projects, the film became a melancholy fantasy deeply haunted by parental absence. At heart, it’s about a broken nuclear family trying to piece itself back together….

(18) WHO NEEDS SPECIAL EFFECTS? Gizmodo is delighted that “Doctor Strange 2 Gets a Dance-Heavy Blooper Reel Before Disney+ Drop”.

… Beyond that, it’s funny to watch the cast’s long capes and skirts get stuck in the scenery and have them try to fight off errant leaves as they wave their arms around doing pretend magic.

(19) A COMMERCIAL MESSAGE FROM OUR FUTURE ROBOT OVERLORDS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Estonian company Milrem Robotics has joined with a partner company (who supplied the 30 mm autocanon) to demonstrate what their “Type-X“ armored, uncrewed, AI-powered Robotic Combat Vehicle could do if outfitted as a tank. “Robot Tank Firing at Cars and Other Targets Is the Stuff of Nightmares” at Autoevolution.

The disastrous use of tanks by the Russians in Ukraine isn’t stopping defense contractors from researching such platforms, though. Of course, even if they look like traditional tanks, these new machines are as modern as they get.

Take the so-called Type-X Robotic Combat Vehicle, developed over in Europe by Milrem Robotics and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace. That would be an autonomous, AI-governed, tracked vehicle that could become a common presence on the battlefields of tomorrow….

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

Pixel Scroll 6/11/22 In The Beginning There Was Nothing But Rocks. And Then Somebody Scrolled A Pixel

(1) THE FUR IS FLYING. Flayrah’s Tantroo McNally suspects the number of furry fandom’s Ursa Major awards voters who make a dispassionate assessment of quality is being overwhelmed by devoted fans of specific popular franchises and creators that campaign for the award. McNally regards this as a problem, therefore is in search of a solution: “Ursa’s Major Issue – Confident self-promotion vs humble passionate skill, and a voting system’s favoritism”.

Ursa, we may have a problem. Or at least so it may seem. Over the past few years the number of people voting in the furry fandom’s popular choice awards appears to be dwindling once again, despite continual growth and booming attendance at our conventions – COVID aside – revealing the growing audience and community beneath this stagnation.

But if less people in proportion are voting, is there a reason for this? One option may be that the system may be lead to some strange victors based on popularity of a franchise or personality rather than other considerations. But is this just a coincidence or could it be how the system was inadvertently crafted?

This article’s goal is to highlight why the current system is so sensitive to favoring artists who self-promote or whose fans rally on their behalf, at the expense of voters that weigh more toward judging the quality of the pieces nominated without authorship considerations. It will then propose a small change to make it more fair to both types of voters and creators, without stifling out those who show up with a passion for their artist.

Flayrah’s awards coverage post by GreenReaper (Laurence Parry) also criticized those in hot pursuit of awards: “’Shine’, ‘Awoo!’ take 2021 Ursa Major Awards by landslides; K. Garrison wins three”.

…Prior to voting’s close, anonymous commenters disparaged Nightstar’s promotional endeavours, which included visibility hacks such as posting comics as stories. But nobody could fault her for effort, with not only a nominations plug or two… or three, but numerous comic strips ‘desperately’ seeking readers’ votes. Likewise, Shine‘s artist Star sought nomination and invited fans to vote, as did Rocket’s builder Akela Taka. Of course, this approach was not always successful — but to some, even a nomination felt like a victory….

(2) OUSTED FROM THE MOUSE. Kenan Thompson was today’s guest on Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me and one of his questions was about how Harlan Ellison got fired from Disney. And Kenan blew the question, spectacularly! “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! — Kenan Thompson”.

Kenan Thompson, the longest-tenured cast member of Saturday Night Live, plays our game about people who only lasted one day on the job. He is joined by panelists Luke Burbank, Negin Farsad and Hari Kondabolu.

(3) SPOCK TO BE REMOVED FROM CANADIAN FIVE DOLLAR BILL. Well, technically he’s never been on it, however quite a few years ago, Lloyd Penney was the first person to show me how easy it is to turn the fellow on Canada’s $5 bill into a likeness of Spock.

Now the time is fast approaching when Wilfrid Laurier will be put out to pasture in favor of one of the shortlisted candidates for the next $5 bank note.

It won’t be William Shatner. He’s Canadian, but he fails the requirement of having been dead for 25 years – fortunately for us.

(4) UP ALL NIGHT. MSN.com sums up “Everything we know about Marvel’s Midnight Suns”.

…As of now, the reveal trailer is all that we have as far as footage for Marvel’s Midnight Suns, and while it has next to nothing in terms of gameplay, we can still learn a lot about what this game will be.

Marvel’s Midnight Suns will be a more supernatural-focused take on the superhero genre and is something like a more magical-focused version of the Avengers, although we obviously see some of the big names from that team here as well, including Iron Man, Dr. Strange, and Captain America. The plotline will be notably darker than other Marvel media, with the main antagonistic force being the spawn of the underworld. Hydra has awoken the Mother of Demons, Lilith, from her long slumber, and she has begun her own quest to summon an even greater evil known as Chthon.

The Avengers turn to the titular team known as the Midnight Suns, made up of heroes with their own supernatural talents, to combat this occult threat. Their first act is to bring out a secret weapon of their own, Lilith’s own child, known as the Hunter, who is the only one to have ever managed to defeat Lilith in the past. It looks, at least from the small bits we’ve seen, to be a fresh perspective for this franchise, and we’re excited to see if it can stick the landing….

(5) ATTENTION, PLEASE. Lisa Tuttle’s latest book recommendations came out in yesterday’s Guardian: “The best recent science fiction and fantasy – review roundup”. Reviews of Ordinary Monsters by JM Miro; In the Heart of Hidden Things by Kit Whitfield; The Sanctuary by Andrew Hunter Murray; The Splendid City by Karen Heuler; and Scattered All Over the Earth by Yoko Tawada.

(6) GUSHING. USA Today reviewer Kelly Lawler seriously, seriously loves For All Mankind, now starting season 3 on Apple TV+. “’For All Mankind’ review: Why Apple TV+ space drama is TV’s best show”.

It’s 1992, and the solar system’s first space hotel is about to open. A woman is running for president. The United States, the Soviet Union and a private corporation are in a three-way race to land astronauts on Mars. 

At least, that’s what’s happening in the 1992 of Apple TV+’s stunning “For All Mankind” (returning Friday, streaming weekly streaming Fridays; ★★★★ out of four) an alternate history drama that imagines the 1960s space race between the U.S. and the USSR never ended. Now in its third season, the series rockets to a Mars-centric version of the 1990s where the timeline is different but still feels a bit like the ’90s we know. 

“Mankind” is the rare series that’s exciting, emotional, tense, dramatic, heartbreaking, elating and infuriating all at once. Some TV shows are good, some are great, and still others remind me why I became a critic in the first place. And in the endless barrage of mediocre series pushed out weekly, “Mankind” stands out, a shining star (or moon or planet) among the replaceable rest….

(7) BEGIN HERE. The Best of Edward M. Lerner was released in May. “A physicist and computer engineer, Edward M. Lerner toiled in the vineyards of high tech for thirty years, as everything from engineer to senior vice president. Then, suitably intoxicated, he began writing full time.”

While you probably know Ed from his SF novels, including the InterstellarNet series and the epic Fleet of Worlds series with Larry Niven, Ed is also a prolific author of acclaimed short fiction. This collection showcases his finest and favorite shorter works.

Faced with the common question of which of his books should someone read first, he has carefully selected these stories to cover his wide range. Now he can answer, “This one!”

Alternate history. Parallel worlds. Future crime. Alien invasion. Alien castaways. Time travel. Quantum intelligence (just don’t call him artificial). A sort-of haunted robot. Deco punk. In this book, you’ll find these—and more—together with Ed’s reminiscences about each selection and its relationship to other stories, novels, and even series that span his writing career.

These are the best, as determined by awards, award nominations, and the selective tastes of eight top editors and choosy Analog readers.

Each excellent story stands alone—you won’t need to have read anything prior—but you’ll surely want to read more of Ed’s books afterwards.

Available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1993 [By Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-nine years ago on this day saw Spielberg taking on Nazis, errr, wrong film. No, this time it was Really Big Reptiles. Jurassic Park premiered launching the beginning of a very, very lucrative franchise. It would indeed be honored with a Hugo at ConAdian the next year suggesting that it a very popular film among y’all.

It’s based on a screenplay by Michael Crichton as co-written by David Koepp off his novel of the same name. It was produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Gerald R. Molen, both of which had long histories with Spielberg. The human cast was extended, so I’ll just single out Richard Attenborough, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Samuel L. Jackson, Sam Neill and BD Wong here.

Now about those Really Big Reptiles. They were created with a combination of imagery from Industrial Light & Magic and with life-sized animatronic dinosaurs built by Stan Winston’s team. Yes they were life-size! These were Really Big Reptiles. I thought they looked lifelike when I watched it in the theater and I know why they were! Scary looking bastards they were. 

Despite the impressive look of the film, it was actually cheap to produce costing around sixty million dollars. Crichton was smart as he only took a one point five million fee and instead got a guaranteed percentage of the gross, a gross which was over a billion in the end. 

Did the critics like it? Yes for the most part though I thought they rightfully note almost all of them that the human characters came off as, errr, lacking in being real. Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone said that it was a “colossal entertainment—the eye-popping, mind-bending, kick-out-the-jams thrill ride of summer and probably the year” and Roger Ebert in his Chicago Sun-Times review noted that though it’s a great SF film: “the movie is lacking other qualities that it needs even more, such as a sense of awe and wonderment, and strong human story values.” 

May I ask do we really need strong human characters when you’ve got Really Big Reptiles? I think not. 

It went to create quite a franchise. The Lost World: Jurassic Park was next followed by Jurassic Park IIIJurassic WorldJurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and A sixth film, Jurassic World Dominion, came out this month. Films four and five each grossed over a billion dollars with the other sequels doing well over a half billion. 

It currently holds a ninety-two rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 11, 1927 — Kit Pedler. In the Sixties, he became the unofficial scientific adviser to the Doctor Who production team. One of his creations was the Cybermen. He also wrote three scripts — “The Tenth Planet” (co-written with Gerry Davis), “The Moonbase” and “The Tomb of the Cybermen“.  Pedler and Davis went on to create and co-write the Doomwatch series. He wrote a number of genre novel including Mutant 59: The Plastic Eaters (co-written with Gerry Davis) and Doomwatch: The World in Danger. Another one who died much too young, by heart attack. (Died 1981.)
  • Born June 11, 1929 — Charles Beaumont. He is remembered as a writer of Twilight Zone episodes such as “Miniature”, “Person or Persons Unknown”, “Printer’s Devil” and “The Howling Man” but also wrote the screenplays for several films such as Burn, Witch, Burn which was nominated for a Hugo at Discon I (no Award was given that year), 7 Faces of Dr. Lao and The Masque of the Red Death. He also wrote a lot of short stories, so let’s see if there’s digital collections available. Yes, I’m pleased to say, including several by legit publishers. Yea! (Died 1967.)
  • Born June 11, 1933 — Gene Wilder. The first role I saw him play was The Waco Kid in Blazing Saddles. Of course he has more genre roles than that starting out with Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory followed by the already noted Blazing Saddles and then Dr. Frederick Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein which won a Hugo at the first AussieCon. He was Sigerson Holmes in The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, a brilliantly weird film whose cast also included Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Dom DeLuise, Roy Kinnear and Leo McKern!  I’ve also got him playing Lord Ravensbane/The Scarecrow in The Scarecrow, a 1972 TV film based based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, “Feathertop”. (Died 2016.)
  • Born June 11, 1945 — Adrienne Barbeau, 77. Swamp Thing with her is quite pulpy. She’s also in the Carnivale series, a very weird affair that never got wrapped up properly. She provided the voice of Catwoman on Batman: The Animated Series. And she was in both Creepshow and The Fog. Oh and ISFDB lists her as writing two novels, Vampyres of Hollywood (with Michael Scott) and presumably another vampire novel, Love Bites. Anyone here read these? 
  • Born June 11, 1959 — Hugh Laurie, 63. Best known as House to most folks whose series is streaming on Peacock right now and I really should rewatch it. His most recent genre role was as Mycroft Holmes in that wretched Holmes and Watson film. He’s had past genre roles in The Borrowers, the Stuart Little franchise, TomorrowlandBlackadder: Back & Forth and Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased)
  • Born June 11, 1968 — Justina Robson, 54. Author of the excellent Quantum Gravity series which I loved. I’ve not started her Natural History series but have not added it to my digital To Be Read list, so would be interested in hearing from anyone here who has. I was surprised that she hasn’t picked up any Hugo nominations so far, although her work has been up for other awards 18 times.
  • Born June 11, 1971 — P. Djèlí Clark, 51. I’m very much enjoying A Master of Djinn which made my Hugo nominations list this year. It follows his “The Haunting of Tram Car 015” novella and “The Angel of Khan el-Khalili” and “A Dead Djinn in Cairo”, short stories, all set in his Dead Djinn universe. I’ve not read his “Black Drums” novella which garnered a Hugo nomination at Dublin 2019, nor the “Ring Shout” novella which got a Hugo nomination at DisCon III, so I welcome opinions on them. And I see his “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” short story also got a 2019 Hugo nomination.  CoNZealand saw “The Haunting of Tram Car 015” pick up a nomination.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Crankshaft gets another superpet joke out of the setup we linked to the other day.

(11) STRETCH GOAL. “More ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’: Sony to Release Extended Cut In Theaters” reports Variety.

Are your spidey senses tingling?

Sony Pictures announced that “Spider-Man: No Way Home — The More Fun Stuff Version,” a cut of the December 2021 Marvel film with added and extended scenes, will hit theaters over Labor Day Weekend.

The news came Friday evening in celebration of 60 years of the Spider-Man comic book character and 20 years of Spider-Man films, along with a teaser featuring a clip from the movie where Tom Holland and previous “Spider-Man” actors Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield unite.

“This is so cool. We should do this again,” says Garfield’s Peter Parker.

“You got it,” Maguire’s Peter replies….

(12) PEDAL TO THE METAL. On the 40th anniversary of E.T., Henry Thomas chats with Ethan Alter of Yahoo! Entertainment on how he filmed that bicycle scene. “’E.T.’ at 40: Henry Thomas explains the movie magic behind the beloved film’s famous flying bike scene”.

It’s a scene that every child of the ’80s knows by heart: Riding through the California wilderness with his extra-terrestrial pal, E.T., riding shotgun — or, more accurately, riding shot-basket — young Elliott’s bicycle lifts off from the forest floor and ascends into the sky until the two are silhouetted against the full moon. That image didn’t just define Steven Spielberg’s 1982 blockbuster — it also became the signature logo for his production company, Amblin Entertainment, gracing hundreds of beloved films and TV series. While that scene defines movie magic for audiences in the theater, for the film’s young star, Henry Thomas, it was just another day on the job….

(13) FOZ DIDN’T DIG IT.  This title tells you what Foz Meadows thinks of the new movie: “I Saw Jurassic World: Dominion So That You Don’t Have To”. BEWARE SPOILERS.

Jurassic World: Dominion is not a good movie. Let’s get that out of the way up top. Given how terrible the first two Jurassic World movies were, I wasn’t expecting it to be, and yet I felt the need to see it anyway, just to make sure. Possibly this coloured my perception of it from the outset, but generally speaking, I’m not a person who purposefully sets out to hatewatch things, as I’d much rather be pleasantly surprised by an okayish film than proven right by a dud. I will, however, spitefinish an aggravating film in order to justify writing about it afterwards, and having sat through all 146 minutes of Dominion – unlike my mother, who walked out of our session and went home after the first five minutes because it was so goddamn loud – I feel the need to save others the time and money of doing likewise….

(14) IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL GET DRUNK. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] I do not want Shoeless Joe crushing the grapes for me. Especially after a full nine innings. “The baseball field in a wine vineyard” at MLB.com.

…It’s there because, well, a guy and his team needed a place to play baseball.

“The field was built in 2002,” Green said. “It was proposed by our vineyard operations manager, Manuel Vallejo, who’s worked for the Ballettos for more than 30 years. Manuel asked [founder] John [Balletto] if they could plow about four acres for a baseball field. He was playing in a community league and his team was having a really hard time finding places to practice.”

During that time, the Balletto family was in the middle of transitioning from a vegetable farm to a winery — so they were already razing old fields and planting new ones. John also thought it would be a good idea, a perk for employees and a fun addition to the property. So, the founder bought his baseball-loving employees the materials needed for construction and then Vallejo and his coworkers began building their vision. It took about a year to finish, and they proudly maintain it to this day. Vallejos’ team is fittingly called Los Uveros or, The Grapers, and they play other community teams on Sundays with practices a couple times per week. Their jerseys are also as cool as you’d imagine….

…”Yeah, all of the sections are marked. Left into center field, we’re growing Pinot Gris,” Green told me. “Right field is Chardonnay. Left field, like foul ground, is mostly Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and there is a little bit of Pinot Noir out there.”…

(15) NORWEGIAN WOOD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] If they do three Troll movies, will that be a Trollogy?

Deep inside the mountain of Dovre, something gigantic awakens after being trapped for a thousand years. Destroying everything in its path, the creature is fast approaching the capital of Norway. But how do you stop something you thought only existed in Norwegian folklore?

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

Pixel Scroll 5/22/22 With A Capital ‘T’ And That Rhymes With ‘P’ And That Stands For Pixel

(1) EMPEROR STARDUST RETURNS. For last night’s Nebula Awards ceremony Henry Lien returned in his Emperor Stardust persona and supplied a rocking musical introduction to The Andre Norton Nebula Award For Middle Grade And Young Adult Fiction category. Not an easy title to versify, and the Emperor also did a wonderful job of making the nominees into lyrics as well. He begins —

It’s the Andre Norton Nebula Award

And if you read these books you’ll totally be floored…

(For a captioned version see the official Nebula Awards Ceremony video starting around the 46:00 mark.)

(2) EVERY BOOK A WINNER. Popular fan artist Alan White will be holding a garage sale next weekend in Las Vegas. No wonder the poster is so gorgeous.

MADNESS ENSUES as 4000 paperbacks and several hundred hardbacks magically disappear for prices unknown in modern times! YOU, yes YOU can have a commanding library of dang near every possible genre author in a matter of minutes! Here’s your chance to beg out of social events by saying, “Sorry, I have books to read”. Here’s your chance to wonder “What the hell am I going to do with all these damn books?” while your mundane friends complain “Looks like a fire hazard to me”. Oh, the pity of it! This event runs all day Saturday beginning at 10AM sharp. (I plan on sleeping till 9:50am). And on Sunday until 2pm or the shelves are bare! Will this sale be an astounding success or a calamitous disaster? If you don’t show, you won’t know!

(3) STEVE VERTLIEB MEDICAL UPDATE. Steve Vertlieb was rehospitalized after developing a blood clot in one leg, and underwent surgery on May 19 to deal with it. The initial reports are favorable.

(4) IMMEDIATE ANALYSIS. Cora Buhlert is already on record with “Some Thoughts on the 2021 Nebula Award Winners – and Two SFWA Uproars”.

…The 2021 Nebula Award for Best Novelette goes to “O2 Arena” by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki. This is a win which makes me very happy, because not only is it a good story, but it’s also (to my knowledge, at least) the first Nebula win for an author who lives and was born in Africa. Coincidentally, it is also the first Nebula win for Galaxy’s Edge magazine, which normally doesn’t get a whole lot of awards love….

(5) CHRIS BARKLEY’S HUGO PACKET SELECTIONS. Best Fan Writer nominee Chris Barkley has posted a collection of links on Facebook which he calls “A Sampling of The Best of So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask 2021: The 2022 Hugo Awards Packet Edition.”

I have assembled, for your reading pleasure, what I (and my editor Mike Glyer) consider the best of the columns I wrote this past year. Mind you, in re-reading them, I was tempted to rewrite some of them or insert a few more snarky comebacks to spruce them up a bit.

But …no.

My nomination as a Hugo Awards Finalist is based on these works and I offer them to you again, dear reader, unaltered and unabridged.

A link to each column that was submitted for the 2022 Hugo Awards Voter Packet will be linked below in the comments.

(6) HOW A MENTOR DISCOVERED ARISIA – AND OTHER SFF REALMS. The Horror Writers Association Mentor of the Year award recipient Michael Knost posted on Facebook the acceptance speech he really wanted to give.

I changed my Mentor of the Year Award speech during the Bram Stoker Awards ceremony at the last second as I recognized I was too emotional to deliver it. As I wanted to recognize my first mentor. I know I ugly-cry so I wanted to spare everyone. But I’d like to say what I wanted to say then, here. I apologize for the long post.

I hated school growing up. I hated education, reading, writing, and everything that went with it. I had great teachers, wonderful people, but I didn’t like school one bit. Then I met my fifth grade teacher, Mr Bill Marino.

He caught me in the hallway one day after lunch and handed me a classic science fiction novel—a yellowing mass market paperback. He must have seen the disappointment on my face and said, “I just want you to read this. There’s no tests, no book reports, etc. I just want to know what you think of the book. AND, while you are reading it, you will be exempt from all homework that the other students have to do.”…

(7) FRIENDLY DJINN PERSUASION. “George Miller reveals first trailer for ‘Three Thousand Years of Longing’” and SYFY Wire has the essence.

… Based on a story by A.S. Byatt, Three Thousand Years of Longing marks Miller’s return to fantasy filmmaking after first delving into the genre with The Witches of Eastwick 35 years ago. The film tells the story of a solitary scholar named Alithea (Tilda Swinton), who arrives in Istanbul for a conference and finds herself in the presence of a millennia-old Djinn (Idris Elba). The Djinn offers her three wishes, after which he will be granted his freedom, but of course, Alithea is an academic, and she doesn’t necessarily believe the Djinn’s gifts — leaving him to regale her with stories of his long life in an effort to convince her….

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2008 [By Cat Eldridge.] Fair warning: usually we avoid essaying anything that I don’t like. I got special permission to do this film. You are warned! 

Just fourteen years ago, the last installment in the Indiana Jones franchise so far, Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, premiered on this date. (The untitled fifth Indiana Jones film is a sequel to this film and our Indy will be, if he’s the same age as Harrison Ford who plays him, eighty one years of age. A fine vintage for a globe trotting whip bearing archaeologist.) 

Directed by Steven Spielberg who had directed all of these, from a screenplay by David Koepp but, and this is a huge but, Jeb Stuart, Jeffrey Boam, Frank Darabont, George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson had previously attempted to write suitable screenplays and failed. Yes, consider that for a moment — the screenplay you see is one of legions done. And the one considered most filmable. God help us. We can blame!  At least we know that we can curse George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson for the story we see here.

According to the publicists, it was intended to pay tribute to the SF B-movies of the Fifties. Well in my opinion it failed at that. Aliens. Crystal skulls. Nuclear explosions. Gateways to other, well, somewheres. WTF? I really think that Indy Jones is at his best old-fashioned pulp adventure, not SF. Bah humbug. 

Well it cost nearly two hundred million dollars and the appeal of Harrison Ford proved irresistible as it made four times that at the box office.

And critics mostly loved it though there were some who decidedly loathed it with all their beings. 

Jeff Beyer of the Chicago Daily Herald did notice how bad the story was: “Normally it’s a terrible thing if a film only gives us one good character … except when it’s Indiana Jones, with a whip at his side. A terrible story can’t totally ruin Jones. Thank God.”

Lori Hoffman of the Atlantic City Weekly in her review took note of the long break between this film and the last one: “While we can never go home again completely, ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ reminds us of why we fell in love with Indiana Jones in the first place.” 

David Denby of the New Yorker gets the last word as he sums up my feelings towards this film: “Crystal Skull isn’t bad — there are a few dazzling sequences, and a couple of good performances — but the unprecedented blend of comedy and action that made the movies so much more fun than any other adventure series is mostly gone.”

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes are as ambivalent as I am giving it just a fifty-three percent rating. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 21, 1859 Arthur Conan Doyle. I’ve read all of the Holmes stories a long time ago and that was a delightful undertaking indeed. My favorite isThe Hound of the Baskervilles as it allows him to develop a story at length. Favorite video Holmes? Jeremy Brett.  Least favorite? The one who went on to play Khan. Just really didn’t work for me at all.  Looking at ISFDB, I’m see there were more Professor Challenger novels than I realized. And the Brigadier Gerard stories sound suspiciously comical…  (Died 1930.)
  • Born May 21, 1900 Wallace West. His first two short stories were “Loup-Garou” in Weird Tales, October 1927 and “The Last Man” in Amazing, February 1929. He published continuously through the Sixties though only averaged a story a year. Interestingly his first two novels were about Betty Boop in the Big Little Books format: Betty Boop in Snow-White: Assisted by Bimbo and Ko-Ko and Betty Boop in “Miss Gulliver’s Travels”.  He wrote four genre novels, only a few of which are available from the usual suspects. (Died 1980.)
  • Born May 21, 1934 Shirley Boone, 88. Ok, she’s here for but one role. She played the construct of Ruth, Kirk’s old Academy flame, on the “Shore Leave” episode of Trek. I really, really love that episode. Other than that episode, she appeared in a horror film, It’s Alive, and her last roles were three in I Dream of Jeannie before retiring from acting at age thirty-six.
  • Born May 21, 1938 Richard Benjamin, 84. He’s here because he was Adam Quark on the all too short-lived Quark series. He also was Joseph Lightman in Witches’ Brew which was based off Fritz Leiber’s Conjure Wife novel (winner of the 1944 Retro-Hugo Award at Dublin 2019) though that’s not credited in the film. And he was in Westworld as Peter Martin. Finally he did a stint on the Ray Bradbury Theatre which I just essayed as Mr. Howard in “Let’s Play Poison” episode. 
  • Born May 21, 1939 Paul Winfield. Another one taken far too soon. He’s best remembered as Capt. Terrell in The Wrath of Khan, but he was also in the Next Gen episode “Darmok” as the signature character.  He showed up in Damnation Alley as a character named Keegan and in The Terminator as Lt. Ed Traxler. Oh, and let’s not forget that he was Lucien Celine In The Serpent and the Rainbow which surely is genre. (Died 2004.)
  • Born May 21, 1960 Andrea Thompson, 62. I’ll not mention her memorable scene on Arli$$ as it’s not genre though it is definitely worth seeing.  Her best genre work was as the telepath Talia Winters on Babylon 5. Her first genre role was in Nightmare Weekend which I’ll say was definitely a schlock film. Next up was playing a monster in the short lived Monsters anthology series. She had a one-off on Quantum Leap before landing the Talia Winters gig. Then came Captain Simian & The Space Monkeys. Really. Truly. Her last genre role to date appears to be in the Heroes: Destiny web series. 
  • Born May 21, 1964 Kat Richardson, 58. Her Greywalker series is one of those affairs that I’m pleased to say that I’ve read every novel that was been published. I’ve not read Blood Orbit, the first in her new series, yet. Has anyone here done so? Her Blood Orbit novel won an Endeavour Award which is given for a science fiction or fantasy book written by a Pacific Northwest author and is given by a panel of judges chartered by Oregon Science Fiction Conventions, Inc. 
  • Born May 21, 1968 Karen Lord, 54. A Barbadian writer whose first novel, Redemption in Indigo, won the Carl Brandon Parallax Award, Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature and a Kitschie for its inventive use of Senegalese folklore. I’d also recommend The Best of All Possible Worlds novel as it’s as well-done as her earlier novel, and different and fascinating in its own right. Unraveling is her latest novel.

(10) NEWS FROM NEW MEXICO. Margaret Atwood and Emily St. John Mandel are two sff writers who spoke on day one of the Santa Fe Literary Festival reports Yahoo!

The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood, …spoke about the leaked Supreme Court memo that suggested the US could imminently overturn Roe v Wade. She was unimpressed with justices who defend such judgments by self-identifying as Constitutional orginalists.“If you take the original Constitution [as it is and apply it], a lot of people are going to lose their rights, including all women,” she said, as well as “people who don’t own property”….

On day two, local author George RR Martin made a revelation which was reported by The Independent (registration required).  

George RR Martin has revealed that when Game of Thronesthe hit HBO show based on his epic fantasy novel series A Song of Ice and Fire, was first being pitched to television networks it was sold as: “The Sopranos in Middle Earth”….

(11) BE FREE. To celebrate the movie’s 40th anniversary, Parade has come up with “21 Things You Might Not Know About the E.T. Movie”.

3. The scene in science class when Elliott frees all the frogs, saving them from dissection, is based on Spielberg’s own past. He was apparently so aghast when asked to cut open a frog in school that he released several of the amphibians.

(12) GROWING UP EVIL. In a Nerds of a Feather film review Arturo Serrano says “’The Innocents’ is a disturbing look at how evil is born and nurtured” and his concern about these characters is contagious.

…Ben’s case merits attention for its own reasons. He’s on a trajectory parallel to Ida’s, one where raw id is unhindered by morality, but what fuels his cruelty is his mother’s abuse. He has actively been taught to cause harm. We can more readily understand why he’s the way he is, but when paired with Ida, we are made to wonder how children of such drastically different parents can become equally monstrous. The spark of the whole conflict is precisely Aisha, whose superpower is what the other kids lack: empathy.

The movie achieves all this with incredibly few lines of dialogue. Most of the weight of the storytelling is carried by the camera, handled with confidence to make a shiny forest creepy, a boring building ominous, and a clear pond loaded with tension. With such versatile skill for shot composition, lighting, framing, camera angles, and the sheer brutal power of great acting, the need for visual effects is minimal….

(13) FRESH MAGIC. Nerds of a Feather also gives us Paul Weimer’s “Microreview [book]: Rise of the Mages by Scott Drakeford”.

…I have to give Drakeford good marks for imagining a fantasy world that is not a stasis frozen in amber and where the only discoveries are re-discoveries. There are people seeking not only the lore of the past or lore from outside, but making new discoveries of their own (particularly Ban, Emrael’s brother). Societies are never static, there may be forces slowing progress and change, but the “everything has been the same way for a thousand years” is a trap that Drakeford avoids, on cultural, social and technological axes….

(14) KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. “Blood moon eclipse to occur Sunday night” reports MSN.com. Never mind — like the first comment says, “This was last week, dopes.”

…What this means is that the moon will turn a blood-red-orange color late Sunday night until early Monday morning.

The reason for the red color is the exact same reason sunsets appear red….

This has inspired Michael Toman to send me these lyrics:

A Crimson Shade of Doo-Wop Lunar Activity

Blood, Blood, Blood, Blood Moon /

You heard me crying on my fresh-fried phone /

A lone stranger, with his sad tune, on the Night Tide Dune/

With no love of my own…

Wop Bop a Mary Lou Bop Apocalypse Rag Wham! /

“Blooooooood  – – – Moooooon!

Toman adds:

“Unsolicited Shout-Outs to GRRM in Santa Fe, NM and Howard Waldrop, Who Knows Where or When?”

PS. “Appearing next, ‘Live!’ on our All-Star Cavalcade Show, Howard W. and The Mar-Velles!”

PPS. “And the Wind Cries ‘Waldrop?’ Or was that “Westeros?”

(15) A VALHALLA FOR CARTOON CHARACTERS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The latest trailer from the game where all the Warner Bros and DC characters fight each other in one epic battle. “MultiVersus – You’re with Me!’”.

In MultiVersus, the Multiverse is at your fingertips as you battle it out in intense 2v2 matches. Up against Batman & Shaggy? Try using Bugs Bunny & Arya Stark! This platform fighter lets you play out your fantasy matchups in a fun co-op or head-to-head fight for supremacy. MultiVersus is an all-new free-to-play, platform fighter videogame. With an ever-expanding cast of iconic characters and legendary universes, MultiVersus will feature multiple online modes, including a team-based 2 vs. 2 format, 1 vs. 1 matches and 4-player free-for-all, along with upcoming content-filled seasons.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/22/22 All My Life’s A Pixel, Scrollrise And Scrolldown, The Roads Roll Thru The Daytime; The Moon’s Sold By Heinlein

(1) FLIEGER Q&A. Renowned Tolkien scholar Verlyn Flieger responds to questions by Cristina Casagrande and Eduardo Boheme for On Fairy-Stories: “Between darkness and the splintered lights of Tolkienian Faery: an interview with Verlyn Flieger”.

You have edited many of Tolkien’s own manuscripts, such as The Story of KullervoOn Fairy-StoriesSmith of Wootton Major, and The Lay of Aotrou & Itroun. What must an editor be ready to deal with when facing a Tolkien’s manuscript?

His handwriting first of all. Tolkien used several scripts, ranging from a beautiful, calligraphic hand (when he was making a fair copy), to an undecipherable scribble when the ideas were coming thick and fast and he was hurrying to catch up with them. There have been words and sometimes whole sentences, especially in the drafts of “On Fairy-stories” that I simply could not read.

(2) CAUGHT IN THE ROCKETS’ RED GLARE. Camestros Felapton finds one more thing needs to be said: “Rockets & Raytheon: A Debarkle Coda – 1”.

…In the last weeks of 2021 I attempted to write just one more chapter of the Debarkle series. It was poor timing and that additional chapter quickly spun out of control. So I put it aside and decided to return to it later on.

The reason for the chapter was twofold. The initiating issue was the surprise sponsorship of the 2021 Worldcon by the infamous arms manufacture/aerospace company Raytheon. There are many unanswered questions about this sponsorship including what the financial arrangement was and the timing of the decision. The program book of the convention did not list Raytheon as a sponsor and while there was (apparently) a Raytheon booth at the convention, the primary publicity given to the company (specifically the Raytheon Intelligence & Space division) was at the start of the live-streamed Hugo Award ceremony.

The subsequent controversy embroiled not just the Washington DC-based convention but the Hugo Awards and the Hugo finalists as well…

(3) A RUSSIAN WRITER YOU MIGHT READ. Yahoo! profiles Russian author Vladimir Sorokin: “He Envisioned a Nightmarish, Dystopian Russia. Now He Fears Living in One.”

Over the past 40 years, Vladimir Sorokin’s work has punctured nearly every imaginable political and social taboo in Russia.

… “A Russian writer has two options: Either you are afraid, or you write,” he said in an interview last month. “I write.”

Sorokin is widely regarded as one of Russia’s most inventive writers, an iconoclast who has chronicled the country’s slide toward authoritarianism, with subversive fables that satirize bleak chapters of Soviet history, and futuristic tales that capture the creeping repression of 21st-century Russia. But despite his reputation as both a gifted postmodern stylist and an unrepentant troublemaker, he remains relatively unknown in the West. Until recently, just a handful of his works had been published in English, in part because his writing can be so challenging to translate, and so hard to stomach. Now, four decades into his scandal-scorched career, publishers are preparing to release eight new English-language translations of his books.

… He is a master of mimicry and subverting genre tropes, veering from arch postmodern political satire (“The Queue”) to esoteric science fiction (“The Ice Trilogy”) to alternate histories and futuristic cyberpunk fantasies (“Telluria”).

(4) DON’T SAY GAY IN THE KINGDOM. “‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ Banned in Saudi Arabia”The Hollywood Reporter explains why.

Disney and the MCU have fallen foul of Gulf censors once more.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Marvel’s long-awaited follow-up to the hit 2016 superhero film starring Benedict Cumberbatch, has been banned in Saudi Arabia. Rumors began emerging online early on Friday, with The Hollywood Reporter now officially confirming the decision. THR has heard that the ban also applies to Kuwait, although this hasn’t yet been confirmed.

While the film is yet to be released and also hasn’t yet been reviewed, the decision is once again said to be related to LGBTQ issues, according to Middle East sources, with the new sequel introducing the character America Chavez (played by Xochitl Gomez) who, as per her portrayal in the comics, is gay. With homosexuality officially illegal across the Gulf, films that feature any LGBTQ references or issues often fail to get past censors….

… The film follows on the heels of Chloé Zhao’s Eternals, which was banned across much of the Gulf in November following the inclusion of a same-gender couple in the film and the MCU’s first gay superhero. At the time, THR understood that censors had requested a series of edits to be made that Disney was not willing to make. An edited version did screen in the U.A.E., however….

(5) THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING FIFTH. “Large Hadron Collider to restart and hunt for a fifth force of nature” – the Guardian has details.

…So far, everything discovered at the LHC – including the Higgs – has fallen in line with the so-called standard model. This has been the guiding theory of particle physics since the 1970s but is known to be incomplete because it fails to explain some of the deepest mysteries in physics, such as the nature of dark matter.

However, data collected in the LHCb experiment, one of four huge particle detectors at Cern in Switzerland, appeared to show particles behaving in a way that could not be explained by the standard model.

The experiment looked at the decay of particles called beauty quarks, which are predicted to decay at an equal rate into electrons and their heavier cousins, muons. However, the beauty quarks appeared to be turning into muons 15% less often, suggesting that an unknown factor – potentially a new force – was tipping the scales. Two of the top candidates include hypothetical force-carrying particles called leptoquarks or Z primes.

“The stakes are extremely high,” Patel said. “If we confirm this, it will be a revolution of the kind we’ve not seen – certainly in my lifetime. You don’t want to mess it up.”…

(6) SOME DON’T COME RUNNING. The Hollywood Reporter listens in as “Steven Spielberg Details How Harrison Ford Helped Convince Melissa Mathison to Write ‘E.T.’”

… Spielberg told [Ben] Mankiewicz that he started working on a script focused specifically on his parents’ split in 1976, around the time he was filming another alien-themed project, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. “We were shooting the scene in Mobile, Alabama, where the extraterrestrial comes down from the ship and does the hand signs with Francois Truffaut,” he detailed. “I suddenly thought, wait a second, what if that little creature never went back to the ship?”

The idea took some years to develop, eventually leading him to Mathison. Spielberg recalled that the pair worked on the script while he was editing Raiders of the Lost Ark in Marina del Rey with editor Michael Kahn. “We would spend two hours a day for five days and she would go off and write pages and come back,” Spielberg continued of their process, crediting the late scribe with coming up with memorable moments, like E.T.’s telekinesis. “There were so many details for character that Melissa brought into my world from her world.”…

(7) JUNIOR BIRDMEN. In “The High and Lowest of Infographics”, Print Magazine recalls Will Eisner’s work for the Army. The entire illustrated booklet is reproduced at the link.

Comics and cartoons often are the best teaching tools. Not just because pictures are worth a thousand complicated and confounding words, but with a combo of drawings and words you get the picture—see what I mean?! This concept is no better illustrated than in this gem of a training booklet illustrated by none other than the creator of “The Spirit” comics, Will Eisner. Produced by the U.S. Army in 1944, it’s an instruction pamphlet for young pilots to master the basics of safe flying, complete with two quizzes and two pages of “Slanguage” at the end….

(8) FANHISTORY IN NEW ENGLAND. Fanac.org has made available video of a panel from the sixth FanHistoriCon in 1997, “From MITSFS to NESFA to MCFI” with Ed Meskys, Richard Harter, Tony Lewis and Hal Clement.

FanHistoriCon 6 was held February 13-16, 1997 in conjunction with Boskone 34 in Framingham, MA. In this 35 minute excerpt of the panel “From MITSFS to NESFA to MCFI”. Ed Meskys, Richard Harter, Tony Lewis and Hal Clement tell us stories of Boston area fandom from the Stranger Club in the 1940s, through area fandom’s evolution by way of conventions, MIT and worldcon bids to NESFA and MCFI in the 90s. 

Beginning with the readers’ club of the 40s and giving way to the more active projects of MITSFS and NESFA, the panel fondly remembers the people and pastimes that were the substance of Boston area fandom. 

Anecdotes mention well known names such as L. Ron Hubbard and Hugo Gernsback, the price of an interior illo from Amazing Magazine in the 1940s, and the storybook romance of Larry Niven and Fuzzy Pink. 

You’ll learn the rules of the MITSFS game “Insanity”, the originally proposed name for NESFA, the origins of Locus and much more. You’ll even get a first hand report of why/how Hal Clement was “fired” from the Noreascon 1 committee. 

If you’re interested in 20th century Boston fandom, here’s your chance to listen to four of the folks that made it happen. 

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1992 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Razul: You are a student of Egypt, but you are not one of its sons. And until you have heard what I have heard and seen what I have seen, I would not expect you to believe that such a thing as a curse could be true, but it is. 

Sam: 3500-year-old dead men don’t just get up and walk around.

Thirty years ago this evening, Quantum Leap’s “The Curse of Ptah-Hotep” first aired on NBC. In 1957, Sam leaps into the body of Dale Conway, an American archaeologist at a dig in Egypt just as he and his partner Ginny Will discover the tomb of Ptah-Hotep. A sand storm traps them deep in the tomb’s inner chambers.

You think that they made up this particular Egypt royal person but no, he was quite real. Ptahhotep, sometimes known as Ptahhotep I or Ptahhotpe, was an ancient Egyptian vizier during the late 25th century BC and early 24th century BC Fifth Dynasty of Egypt.

The curse that forms the story here was evidently a real one that affected a number of archeological digs undertaken here.  And it is worth definitely worth noting that Sam, throughout the entire series, thoroughly disbelieves in the supernatural, except for the force has him leaping around and that could be science. He frequently tells Al not to be superstitious about anything. But here he certainly seems to take the resurrected mummies in this episode as a given.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 22, 1902 Philip Latham. Name used by astronomer Robert Shirley Richardson on his genre work. His novels were largely first published in Astounding starting in the Forties, with the exception of his children’s SF novels that were published in Space Science Fiction Magazine. He also wrote a few scripts for Captain Video, the predecessor of Captain Video and his Video Rangers. His Comeback novel starts this way: “When Parkhurst heard the announcement that climaxed the science fiction convention, he found that he’d been right, years ago when he had faith in science-fictionists’ dreams. But, in another way, he’d been wrong . . .: It’s available at the usual digital suspects for a buck. (Died 1981.)
  • Born April 22, 1934 Sheldon Jaffery. An editor and bibliographer of pulps whose non-fiction work and genre anthologies are both fascinating. Among the latter are such publications as Sensuous Science Fiction From the Weird and Spicy Pulps and The Weirds: A Facsimile Selection of Fiction From the Era of the Shudder Pulps, and from the former are Future and Fantastic Worlds: Bibliography of DAW BooksThe Arkham House Companion: Fifty Years of Arkham House and Collector’s Index to Weird Tales. (Died 2003.)
  • Born April 22, 1937 Jack Nicholson, 85. I think my favorite role for him in a genre film was as Daryl Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick. Other genre roles include Jack Torrance in The Shining, Wilbur Force in The Little Shop of Horrors, Rexford Bedlo in The Raven, Andre Duvalier in The Terror, (the previous three films are all Roger Corman productions), Will Randall in Wolf, President James Dale / Art Land in Mars Attacks! and Jack Napier aka The Joker in Tim  Burton’s The Batman.
  • Born April 22, 1944 Damien Broderick, 78. Australian writer of over seventy genre novels. It is said that The Judas Mandala novel by him contains the first appearance of the term “virtual reality”. He’s won five Ditmar Awards, a remarkable achievement. I know I’ve read several novels by him including Godplayers and K-Machines which are quite good. The latter won an Aurealis Award for Excellence in Speculative Fiction
  • Born April 22, 1959 Catherine Mary Stewart, 63. Her first genre role was Maggie Gordon in The Last Starfighter followed by beingMiranda Dorlac in Nightflyers and she played Sukie Ridgemont in the TV version of The Witches of Eastwick. She has one-offs in Mr. MerlinKnight Rider and The Outer Limits.
  • Born April 22, 1977 Kate Baker, 45. Non-fiction editor, podcast director /narrator for Clarkesworld. She won the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine twice, and the World Fantasy Award’s Special Award: Non Professional in 2014, all alongside the rest of the editorial staff of Clarkesworld. She’s a writer of three short genre stories, the latest of which, “No Matter Where; Of Comfort No One Speak”, you can hear it here. Warning for subject matter: abuse and suicide. 
  • Born April 22, 1978 Manu Intiraymi, 44. He played the former Borg Icheb on the television series Star Trek: Voyager. A role that he played a remarkable eleven times. And this Birthday research led me to discovering yet another video Trek fanfic, this time in guise of Star Trek: Renegades inwhich he reprised his role. Any Trekkies here watch this? 
  • Born April 22, 1984 Michelle Ryan, 38. She had the odd honor of being a Companion to the Tenth Doctor as Lady Christina de Souza for just one story, “Planet of the Dead”.  She had a somewhat longer genre run as the rebooted Bionic Woman that lasted eight episodes, and early in her career, she appeared as the sorceress Nimueh in BBC’s Merlin. Finally I’ll note she played Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream in BBC’s Learning project, Off By Heart Shakespeare

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Far Side makes a grotesque Peter, Paul & Mary reference.  

(12) E. E. SMITH REFERENCE IN THE NEW YORK TIMES(!) [Item by David Goldfarb.] Every two weeks the NYT puts up an acrostic puzzle put together by Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon. The one for April 24th has as clue I, 7 letters:

Kind of beam in the 1947 novel “Spacehounds of IPC”

This is a novel I would have thought little-remembered! (Alas, my first guess based on Lensman, PRIMARY, turned out to be incorrect.)

(13) SIGNS OF THE FUTURE. Michael Okuda, the graphic designer known for his work on Star Trek, told Facebook readers how he found the answer to something he wanted to know about the bridge:  

I had always wondered: If the famously-unlabeled buttons on the TOS bridge had been labeled, would those labels have been visible? In 2005, I did an experiment during the filming of “In A Mirror, Darkly” (ENT). For this experiment, I had hundreds of small clear labels printed with small numeric codes. I asked Alan Kobayashi to stick them onto most of the backlit “jellybean” buttons on the re-created TOS Enterprise bridge set, thereby labeling each button….

(14) BREAKING THE PIGGY BANK. Netflix may have stopped spending cash on original animation, but that does not mean they have stopped spending on other projects. SYFY Wire reports an eye-popping figure: “Stranger Things 4: Netflix spending $30 million per episode”.

Thanks to an ensemble celebrity cast and lavish location shoots that can take over an entire mall, Stranger Things has always had the feel of a big-budget, Steven Spielberg-inspired show. But the Hawkins arcade would need to collect more than just a truckload of quarters to cover the eye-popping cost of the series’ long-awaited fourth season.

A recent report at The Wall Street Journal reveals that Netflix is turning its wallet Upside Down and inside out to bring Stranger Things 4 to life, spending an average of $30 million on each of the smash hit series’ nine new episodes. That far eclipses the princely $13 million per-episode sum commanded by Season 4 of The Crown, the previously-reported most expensive show in the streamer’s original-series lineup….

(15) ON THE OTHER HAND. For the cost conscious among us, “House of the Dragon Budget: Under 20 Million Per Episode”. By Grabthar’s hammer, what a savings!

… If you’re wondering how HBO managed to keep the cost of “House of the Dragon” Season 1 from rising too much above what it paid for the final season of “Game of Thrones,” especially with even more CGI dragons expected to be flying around, the production insider says HBO is now so adept at these world-building series through years of not just “GoT,” but also producing “Westworld” and “His Dark Materials,” that the team can make a high-quality series as efficiently and effectively as possible….

(16) EVERYTHING AND MORE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the March 20 New York Times Magazine, Alexandra Kleeman profiles Everything Everywhere All At Once star Michelle Yeoh, who explains why doing a multiverse movie (in which she plays a hibachi chef, a laundromat store owner, and a universe where everyone has fingers that look like Twinkies) was a stretch for her in a career that has taken her from Hong Kong super action movies to James Bond to Crazy Rich Asians. “Michelle Yeoh’s Quantum Leaps”.

… Approaching a role that bounds gleefully across so many modes and genres put Yeoh to the test. She showed me a photo of her script, dutifully flagged with adhesive tabs that denoted the genre of each scene she appears in (action sequences, comedic scenes, heavy-duty drama): The stack of pages bristled with color, like a wildly blooming flower. She experimented with different kinds of sticky notes. “With the fat ones, they were overlapping so much. So, I had to get the skinny ones,” she told me. “Oh, my God, it was a whole creative process. And then when I finished, I looked at it and go, Oh, my God, I’m in serious trouble.”…

(17) ACTOR OUT. Frank Langella is definitely out of his latest film – the 84-year-old is accused of sexual harassment: “Frank Langella Fired From Netflix’s ‘The Fall Of the House Of Usher’ After Probe” reports Deadline.

…Sources confirmed to Deadline TMZ‘s report from earlier this week that the investigation was launched after the 84-year-old actor had been accused of sexual harassment, including making inappropriate comments to a female co-star on set during work.

Langella led the cast of The Fall of the House of Usher, which also stars Carla Gugino, Mary McDonnell, Carl Lumbly and Mark Hamill.

The eight-episode series is described as an epic tale of greed, horror and tragedy. Poe’s short story The Fall of the House of Usher, which serves as the basis for the show, features themes of madness, family, isolation and identity.

Roderick Usher, the role previously played by Langella that now is being recast, is the towering patriarch of the Usher dynasty….

(18) SIC TRANSIT GLORIA PHOBOS. The space agency tells how “NASA’s Perseverance Rover Captures Video of Solar Eclipse on Mars”.

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover has captured dramatic footage of Phobos, Mars’ potato-shaped moon, crossing the face of the Sun. These observations can help scientists better understand the moon’s orbit and how its gravity pulls on the Martian surface, ultimately shaping the Red Planet’s crust and mantle.

Captured with Perseverance’s next-generation Mastcam-Z camera on April 2, the 397th Martian day, or sol, of the mission, the eclipse lasted a little over 40 seconds – much shorter than a typical solar eclipse involving Earth’s Moon. (Phobos is about 157 times smaller than Earth’s Moon. Mars’ other moon, Deimos, is even smaller.)

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The How It Should Have Ended gang takes on The Batman, answering such questions as, “If he’s The Batman, why does he say his name is vengenance?” and “Why does Superman show up in inappropriate moments?”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, David Goldfarb, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 3/9/22 And A Scroll Will Never Need More Than 640K Pixels

(1) F&SF COVER REVEAL. The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’s March/April 2022 cover art is by Mondolithic Studios, illustrating “Dancing Litle Marionettes” by Megan Beadle.

(2) LUCKY SEVEN. Martha Wells discusses “The Nebula Nomination Decline” at My Flying Lizard Circus. By dropping out she actually pulled two extra finalists onto the ballot.

So Fugitive Telemetry did have a Nebula finalist spot for Best Novella, which after a phone conversation and email with Jeffe Kennedy, the president of SFWA, I decided to decline. Basically because The Murderbot Diaries has had three Nebula finalist spots and two Nebula wins (for Best Novella and Best Novel) in the past four years. (Plus the four Hugos.) So it just seemed like someone else could use this nomination better than I could.

Jeffe had to check and see what would happen if I declined (it’s not like the Hugo longlist where if someone drops out everybody just moves up one). If it just meant there was going to be four novellas on the ballot instead of five, I would have kept the nomination. So when she told me there was a three way tie for sixth place so if I dropped out, three more novellas would be on the ballot, that seemed like a really good deal. 🙂

(3) BY GEORGE! [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, John Kelly reports on predictions British writer W.L. George made in 1922 about life a century in his future.  Kelly finds George was accurate in predicting improvements in transportation and communications, but he also thought people in 2022 would live on pills and homes would have papier-mache walls which would be peeled off it they got dirty. “W.L. George’s 1922 predictions of the future have stood the test of time”.

… George felt the world wouldn’t change as much between 1922 and 2022 as it had between 1822 and 1922. “[The] world today would surprise President Jefferson much more, I suspect, than the world of 2022 would surprise the little girl who sells candies at Grand Central Station. For Jefferson knew nothing of railroads, telephones, automobiles, aeroplanes, gramophones, movies, radium, etc.”

He began with technology. Planes would replace both steamships and long-distance trains. Trucks would probably replace freight trains. Communications technologies such as the telephone would go “wireless.” Wrote George: “the people of the year 2022 will probably never see a wire outlined against the sky.”…

(4) FRANKE STILL WITH US. Austrian scientist, artist, and SF writer Herbert W. Franke, age 95, suddenly appeared on Twitter yesterday. A major science fiction writer in the German language, he was a guest of honor at the 1970 Worldcon. He also is a computer graphics pioneer.

Enthusiasts of both SF and computer art responded with well over a hundred messages of welcome.

His career on Twitter is just getting started.  Here’s his follow-up message:

Why now?

The Internet Science Fiction Database says he’s been busy over the past seven decades or so. The SF Encyclopedia can fill you in about his career here.

(5) MY ONLY HOPE. “Obi-Wan Kenobi” begins streaming on Disney+ on May 25.

The story begins 10 years after the dramatic events of “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” where Obi-Wan Kenobi faced his greatest defeat—the downfall and corruption of his best friend and Jedi apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, who turned to the dark side as evil Sith Lord Darth Vader. The series stars Ewan McGregor, reprising his role as the iconic Jedi Master, and also marks the return of Hayden Christensen in the role of Darth Vader. Joining the cast are Moses Ingram, Joel Edgerton, Bonnie Piesse, Kumail Nanjiani, Indira Varma, Rupert Friend, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Sung Kang, Simone Kessell and Benny Safdie.

(6) WHO IS NUMBER ONE? The only show to answer that question,“Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” starts streaming on Paramount+ on May 5.

STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS is based on the years Captain Christopher Pike manned the helm of the U.S.S. Enterprise. The series will feature fan favorites from season two of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY: Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike, Rebecca Romijn as Number One and Ethan Peck as Science Officer Spock.

(7) EARLY WITHDRAWAL PENALTY. “Black Panther director Ryan Coogler arrested after being mistaken for bank robber” reports the Guardian.  

Black Panther director Ryan Coogler was mistaken for a bank robber and arrested after trying to withdraw money from his bank account. Coogler confirmed the incident, which happened in January, to Variety after TMZ first reported it.

According to a police report obtained by TMZ, Coogler, who is currently filming the Black Panther sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in Atlanta, Georgia, entered a bank in the city and handed the cashier a note reading: “I would like to withdraw $12,000 cash from my checking account. Please do the money count somewhere else. I’d like to be discreet.”

The transaction triggered an alarm, according to the report, and bank staff called the police. Coogler and two other people with him were arrested, and later released.

Coogler told Variety: “This situation should never have happened … However, Bank of America worked with me and addressed it to my satisfaction and we have moved on.”

(8) TRAVELER FROM AN ANTIQUE LAND. Fanac.org is doing another Fan History Zoom on March 19. To RSVP, send a note to [email protected].

Traveling Ghiants, Fan Funds from the Days of Mimeo to the Days of Zoom

with Geri Sullivan (m), Lesleigh Luttrell, Justin Ackroyd and Suzle Tompkins

Date: March 19, 2022
Time: 4pm EDT, 1pm PDT, 8pm London, 7am AEDT (Melbourne)

Fan Funds evolved to bring together in person fans from different regions who only knew each other long distance, and on paper. In these days of virtual conventions, we still long for connection. Our panel are Fan Fund winners all, representing TAFF- the Transatlantic Fan Fund, DUFF – the Down Under Fan Fund, and GUFF – the Get-Up-and-Over Fan Fund (or the Going Under Fan Fund). In addition to the travel part of being a Fan Fund winner, there’s an entire administration and fundraising side that most of us don’t even think of. Join us to hear from those in the know how Fan Funds have changed, their secret rules, and the impact of plagues and modern society on this traditional fannish charity. Expect some traveler’s tales too!

To RSVP, or find out more about the series, please send a note to [email protected].

(9) GROWING OLD IS NOT FOR SISSIES. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Gizmodo’s James Whitbrook contrasts the approach that Star Wars and Star Trek movies have taken toward aging actors playing aging characters.  Does one let characters age along with the actors, or does one fire up the computer networks and plaster CGI versions of youth over various visages? “Star Trek and Star Wars’ Different Approaches to De-Aging Tech”.

There’s a moment in the climax of Star Trek: Picard’s season two premiere when Q, the omnipotent bane of Jean-Luc’s life, appears in the latter’s humble French estate. He has had, like so many returning figures of classic pop culture of late, the process of time smoothed out by CG, to give us a semblance of the Q we once knew all those years ago. But, he realizes: Jean-Luc Picard has gotten old. So why shouldn’t he?

“Oh dear, you’re a bit older than I imagined,” Q jokes. “Let me catch up.” In a trademark click of his fingers, and a bright flash of light, the CG-enhanced Q becomes just regular old contemporary John de Lancie. It’s a perfect way to bring Q and Picard together again, decades after they last crossed paths in the finale of The Next Generation—but it’s also emblematic of an approach contemporary Star Trek is taking to its aging heroes….

(10) ODDLY IT HAS NO BIKE PATH. But who needs a bike path when your bike can fly? “’E.T. Park’ in Porter Ranch could become official” – the LA Times has details.

A City Council committee on Tuesday backed a proposal to rename Porter Ridge Park as E.T. Park. The proposal now goes to the full council.

Director Steven Spielberg sought out the tract-house setting of the Valley for “E.T.” because it reminded him of the Phoenix suburb where he grew up, The Times reported in 1985 .

The Porter Ranch park is featured in a scene in which a group that includes E.T. and Elliott, the boy who befriends the alien, escapes federal agents. One of the park’s climbing structures — a caterpillar with big eyes — can be seen in the film.

Other San Fernando Valley locales featured in the movie include White Oak Avenue in Granada Hills, where Elliott, E.T. and others escape on bikes, and a Tujunga residence, where Elliott and his family live.

City Councilmen John Lee and Bob Blumenfield, who represent Valley neighborhoods, introduced the motion to change the park’s name.

“I think the whole community refers to it as E.T Park, and this is just making it official,” Lee said at Tuesday’s committee meeting. “Mr. Spielberg has given us the permission to use it, that name.”…

(11) KOURITS OBIT. Ukranian fan Leonid Kourits died of a stroke reports Marcia Kelly Illingworth on Facebook. He attended several Worldcons and UK Eastercons. Borys Sydiuk says he was the organizer of the first truly international SF convention in the USSR in the Koblevo, Nikolaev region in 1988. David Langford’s amusing encounter with Kourits at the 1997 World Fantasy Con is described in Cloud Chamber 79.

(12) STEWART BEVAN (1948-2022) Actor Stewart Bevan, who appeared on Doctor Who and Blake’s 7, has died reports the Guardian. Other genre credits include the horror films Burke & Hare and The Flesh and Blood Show (both 1972), and The Ghoul (1975)…

… He featured in the long-running series Doctor Who, in 1973’s The Green Death, remembered fondly by viewers as “the one with the giant maggots”. The departure of popular companion Jo Grant (Katy Manning) called for someone special to lure her away from third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, and to this end the charismatic Welsh eco-warrior Professor Clifford Jones was conceived.

Michael Briant, the director, was having trouble casting this part but was reluctant to interview Bevan because he was Manning’s fiance at the time. He finally relented and discovered that Bevan was exactly what he was looking for: handsome and with the requisite crusading zeal and lightness of touch.

Bevan’s obvious rapport with Manning also helped to make her departure one of the series’ most memorably tear-jerking. Bevan himself was an empathic anti-capitalist vegetarian, guitar player and writer of poetry – all of which contributed to making Jones a believable character….

(13) CONRAD JANIS (1928-2022) The actor who played Mindy’s father in Mork & Mindy, Conrad Janis, died March 1 at the age of 94. The New York Times tribute is here. He also was a KAOS agent on Get Smart and a space station resident on Quark.

(14) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1976 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Forty-four years ago this weekend, The Amazing Captain Nemo aired. It was based quite loosely off Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. It was written by way too many screenwriters which included Robert Bloch. Scripts by committee in my opinion rarely work. (Your opinion may of course differ.) Robert Bloch and his fellow writers fleshed producer Irwin Allen’s premise that after a century of being in suspended animation, Nemo is revived in modern times for new adventures. It was intended as the pilot for a new series which didn’t happen, another project by Irwin Allen widely considered as an attempt to follow-up on the success of his Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea series. 

It had a very large cast but in my opinion the only performer that you need to know about is José Ferrer as Captain Nemo. He made a rather magnificent if hammy one. Of course, a few years later he get to chew on scenery again in Dune where plays Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV.

It was aired over three nights with Bloch largely responsible for the finale. Later the miniseries would get condensed, rather choppily, into a film called The Return of Captain Nemo which generated one of the best review comments: “Best line in the film was when Hallick says Captain Nemo was a figure of fiction, and Ferrer says that Jules Verne was a biographer as well as a science fiction writer. From there get set for some ham a la mode.”

It was not particularly well received by either critics or the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes with the latter giving a very bad twenty percent rating. 

Let’s give IGN the final word: “If one comes to an Irwin Allen-produced adventure seeking a thoughtful, challenging film, they’ve come to wrong place.” 

(15) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 9, 1918 Mickey Spillane. His first job was writing stories for Funnies Inc. including Batman, Captain America, Captain Marvel and Superman. Do note these were text stories, not scripts for comics. Other than those, ISFDB lists him as writing three genre short stories: “The Veiled Woman” (co-written with Howard Browne), “The Girl Behind the Hedge” and “Grave Matter” (co-written with Max Allan Collins).  Has anyone read these? (Died 2006.)
  • Born March 9, 1939 Pat Ellington. She was married to Dick Ellington, who edited and published the FIJAGH fanzine. They met in New York as fans in the Fifties. After they moved to California, she was a contributor to Femizine, a fanzine put out by the hoax fan Joan W. Carr.  (Died 2011.)
  • Born March 9, 1940 Raul Julia. Damn, another one who died far too early. If we count Sesame Street as genre as we should, his appearance as Rafael there was his first genre role. Yeah, I’m stretching it somewhat but not that much as Muppets are genre, aren’t they?  Ok, how about as Aram Fingal in Overdrawn at the Memory Bank, a RSL production off the John Varley short story? That better?  He later starred in Frankenstein Unbound as Victor Frankenstein as well. His last role released while he was still living was in the superb Addams Family Values as Gomez Addams reprising the role he’d had in The Addams Family. (Died 1994.)
  • Born March 9, 1945 Robert Calvert. Lyricist for Hawkwind, a band that’s at least genre adjacent. And Simon R. Green frequently mentioned them in his Nightside series by having a diner in the Nightside called the Hawk’s Wind Bar & Grille. Calvert was a close friend of Michael Moorcock.  He wrote SF poetry which you read about here. (Died 1988.)
  • Born March 9, 1955 Pat Murphy, 67. I think that her most brilliant work is The City, Not Long After which I’ve read myriad times. If you’ve not read this novel, do so now. The Max Merriwell series is excellent and Murphy’s ‘explanation’ of the authorial attributions is fascinating. The Nebula winning Falling Woman by her is an amazing read as well. Her “Rachael in Love” story won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award and was nominated for Best Novelette at Nolacon II. She won a World Fantasy Award for her “Bones” novella which got her a Hugo nomination at Chicon V. Her space opera version of The HobbitThere and Back Again, is I’ve been reminded, a great deal of fun. She’s reasonably well stocked at the usual suspects.
  • Born March 9, 1965 Brom, 57. Artist and writer whose best work I think is Krampus: The Yule Lord and The Child ThiefThe Art of Brom is a very good look at his art. He’s listed as having provided some of the art design used on Galaxy Quest.  His latest, Slewfoot: A Tale of Bewitchery, riffs off witchcraft in colonial New England.
  • Born March 9, 1959 Mark Carwardine, 63. In 2009, he penned Last Chance to See: In the Footsteps of Douglas Adams. This is the sequel to Last Chance to See, the 1989 BBC radio documentary series and book which he did with Douglas Adams. In 2009, he also worked with with Stephen Fry on a follow-up to the original Last Chance to See. This also called Last Chance to See
  • Born March 9, 1978 Hannu Rajaniemi, 44. Author of the Jean le Flambeur series which consists of The Quantum ThiefThe Fractal Prince and The Causal Angel. Damn if I can summarize them. They remind me a bit of Alastair Reynolds’ Prefect novels, somewhat of Ian Mcdonald’s Mars novels as well. Layers of weirdness upon fascinating weirdness. Quite fascinating as I said. And well worth the reading time. 

(16) COMICS SECTION.

(17) LEAPBUSTER. SYFY Wire reveals that “NBC Quantum Leap reboot casts Ernie Hudson”.

An OG member of the Ghostbusters crew is making his way into the world of Quantum LeapPer Deadline, NBC’s upcoming reboot of the classic sci-fi series has tapped Ernie Hudson, best known for portraying Winston Zeddemore in the Ghostbusters film franchise (he recently reprised the spirit-fighting hero in Jason Reitman’s Afterlife), for a key role in the pilot episode.

This is the second bit of major casting news in the last few days after Raymond Lee was cast to lead the revival as Dr. Ben Seong last Friday. Hudson is set to play Herbert “Magic” Williams, a Vietnam War vet and seasoned leader of the Quantum Leap time travel project. “Using a bit of politicking and his military know-how to keep the Pentagon at bay, Magic buys the team some time to rescue Ben, but expects answers once he’s back,” reads the synopsis of the character provided by Deadline….

(18) MORE HAPPIER TIMES. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] Another pic from a time long ago in a place far, far away… During the 2006 Eurocon in Kyiv some local members of the SF community provided domestic hospitality.

Seen here (from left) a Romanian fan, Imants Belogrivs (of the Eurocon Award-winning Hekate publisher in Riga, Latvia), a Latvian fan(?), Martin Untals (Latvia), Jean-Pierre Laigle (France), Jonathan Cowie (SF2 Concatenation), Sergei Lussarenko (former Ukrainian SF author now living in Minsk and apparently a Putin supporter.) Photo by Roberto Quaglia (Italian fan and occasional author).

(19) WISDOM FROM MY INTERNET. Declann Finn will be blessing Upstream Reviews with his recommendations for “The Dragon Awards, 2022”. In his first post there is one and only one science fiction novel on his radar screen.

…To begin with, we’re not not nominating anyone who already has an award. Most of those who have won already have the attitude of “Oh, I don’t need more dust collectors.” We’re leaving out Big Name Authors. Frankly, if you’re Jim Butcher or a Baen author, you don’t need our help. If we don’t have any other viable alternative, then yes, then BNAs are applicable….

Best Science Fiction Novel

White Ops— to my knowledge, this is the only eligible science fiction work that Upstream Reviews has covered. More will be added to the nominations as we go along….

And who is the author of White Ops? It’s Declann Finn!

(20) VISIT TO A SMALL PLANET. Bloody Disgusting has learned that the “Predator Prequel Movie ‘Prey’ Will Be Set in the Great Plains in 1719”.

… From 20th Century Studios, the return of the Predator franchise is directed by Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane), and it’s positioned as a prequel to the original that will tell the tale of the Predator’s first journey to our planet. Amber Midthunder (“Legion”) stars as a Comanche woman who goes against gender norms and traditions to become a warrior….

“It goes back to what made the original Predator movie work,” producer John Davis previously told Collider. “It’s the ingenuity of a human being who won’t give up, who’s able to observe and interpret, basically being able to beat a stronger, more powerful, well-armed force.”

As for tone, Davis reveals that “[Prey] has more akin to The Revenant than it does any film in the Predator canon,” further adding: “You’ll know what I mean once you see it.”…

(21) COOL DISCOVERY. “At the Bottom of an Icy Sea, One of History’s Great Wrecks Is Found”: the New York Times tells how Endurance, Ernest Shackleton’s ship, lost in 1915, was found in the waters off Antarctica.

The wreck of Endurance has been found in the Antarctic, 106 years after the historic ship was crushed in pack ice and sank during an expedition by the explorer Ernest Shackleton.

A team of adventurers, marine archaeologists and technicians located the wreck at the bottom of the Weddell Sea, east of the Antarctic Peninsula, using undersea drones. Battling sea ice and freezing temperatures, the team had been searching for more than two weeks in a 150-square-mile area around where the ship went down in 1915.

Endurance, a 144-foot, three-masted wooden ship, holds a revered place in polar history because it spawned one of the greatest survival stories in the annals of exploration. Its location, nearly 10,000 feet down in waters that are among the iciest on Earth, placed it among the most celebrated shipwrecks that had not been found.

…Shackleton never made it to the pole or beyond, but his leadership in rescuing all his crew and his exploits, which included an 800-mile open-boat journey across the treacherous Southern Ocean to the island of South Georgia, made him a hero in Britain.

Shackleton was tripped up by the Weddell’s notoriously thick, long-lasting sea ice, which results from a circular current that keeps much ice within it. In early January 1915 Endurance became stuck less than 100 miles from its destination and drifted with the ice for more than 10 months as the ice slowly crushed it….

(22) IN BLOOM AGAIN. Deadline reveals “’Bloom County’ Animated Series From Berkeley Breathed In Works At Fox”.

…Bloom County first appeared in student newspaper The Daily Texan before becoming nationally syndicated in the Washington Post. It ran between 1980-1989, and Breathed brought it back on Facebook in 2015.

Breathed said, “At the end of Alien, we watched cuddly Sigourney Weaver go down for a long peaceful snooze in cryogenic hyper-sleep after getting chased around by a saliva-spewing maniac, only to be wakened decades later into a world stuffed with far worse. Fox and I have done the identical thing to Opus and the rest of the Bloom County gang, may they forgive us.”

The Hollywood Reporter’s story adds:

…In 2015, Breathed started posting new Bloom County strips on Facebook, a move that was at least somewhat inspired by the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, who Breathed regularly mocked in the strip during its original run. “He is the reverse canary in America’s gilded gold mine: When Donald Trump gets up from the dead and starts singing, you know you’ve reached toxic air,” Breathed said at Comic-Con in 2016. “He signifies something that I didn’t want to be left out of.

(23) WHEN MONTANA HAD AN OCEAN. Yahoo! declares “Octopus ancestors lived before era of dinosaurs, study shows”.

Scientists have found the oldest known ancestor of octopuses – an approximately 330 million-year-old fossil unearthed in Montana.

The researchers concluded the ancient creature lived millions of years earlier than previously believed, meaning that octopuses originated before the era of dinosaurs….

The creature, a vampyropod, was likely the ancestor of both modern octopuses and vampire squid, a confusingly named marine critter that’s much closer to an octopus than a squid. Previously, the “oldest known definitive” vampyropod was from around 240 million years ago, the authors said.

The scientists named the fossil Syllipsimopodi bideni, after President Joe Biden.

Whether or not having an ancient octopus — or vampire squid — bearing your name is actually a compliment, the scientists say they intended admiration for the president’s science and research priorities.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Gordon Van Gelder, Bill Higgins, Cora Buhlert, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel “Hard drivin’” Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 7/28/20 We Have Pixelsign The Likes Of Godstalk Has Never Seen!

(1) OPEN DISCUSSION OF OPEN LETTER. Several authors have responded to the challenges raised in the letter posted here: “Writers Circulate Letter of Concern About Saudi Worldcon Bid”.

  • Robert J. Sawyer wrote extensive comments about the Open Letter in this public Facebook post.
  • Seanan McGuire, an author who’s also been a Worldcon runner, has added her insights on Twitter, Thread starts here.
  • Cat Valente’s thread starts here, and the comments are along these lines —

(2) EVANIER ON MALTIN PODCAST. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Leonard and Jessie Maltin’s latest podcast is with their long-time friend, Mark Evanier. (Click here.)  Evanier talks about how he began his career as Jack Kirby’s assistant and then goes on to discuss his years at Hanna-Barbera, including what it was like to work with Tex Avery and Mel Blanc and how Jonathan Winters once used some downtime to do some improv in his office.  Also discussed was his six-year run as the writer of Garfield and Friends, and how he gave work to such comedy legends as George O’Hanlon (the original voice of George Jetson) and Rose Marie.  He also discusses his role at Comic-Con, where he is one of six people who has attended every Comic-Con.  As part of his Comic-Con segment, he gives some valuable advice about running panels.  He is also an author, with his edition of the seventh volume of The Complete Pogo about to be sent to the printer.  Evanier’s long-time partner was Carolyn Kelly, daughter of Pogo creator Walt Kelly, and Evanier vows to finish the definitive Pogo collection Carolyn Kelly began.

Ray Bradbury is discussed beginning at minute 56, and Evanier discusses what it was like to interview Bradbury in front of several thousand Comic-Con attendees.  (He routinely asked Harlan Ellison fr advice about what questions to ask Bradbury). He notes that Bradbury always liked to go to the hucksters room to see what was new in comics and how he would always happily sign his works.  Leonard Maltin noted that Bradbury had a youthful spirit throughout his life and “never lost his sense of wonder.”

(3) FUTURE TENSE. The July 2020 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is “Legal Salvage,” by Holli Mintzer, a story about artificial intelligence, thrifting, and taste.

Twenty, 25 years ago, someone lost a building.

It started as a U-Haul self-storage franchise, and switched allegiance between a few other companies as it changed owners. The last owner had been running it as an independent when he died. His heirs were halfway across the country, and before they could do anything about it, one of them died and the other two spent down the rest of the estate fighting over how to split it….

It was published along with a response essay, “How Can an A.I. Develop Taste?” by Kate Compton, an artificial intelligence coder, artist, and educator.

…As humans, our possessions mean many different things to us. Their value may be practical. We need a blender to make smoothies and a bike to get to work on time. But many objects also have sentimental value and hook into the complex web of human emotions and relationships. We may have aspirational objects that tell us who we want to be (someone who goes camping more, exercises more, would wear those impractical shoes). We also keep nostalgic objects that remind us, through memory or our senses, of people or values that we want to remember. Sometimes our collections simply “spark joy” (in Marie Kondo’s words) in some unknowable way.

In “Legal Salvage,” we meet three collectors: Mika, Ash, and Roz. We also learn about people who abandoned power tools or neon signs or commemorative saltshakers in their storage lockers. We don’t know what these objects meant to the vanished collectors…. 

(4) JACKSON ON SCREEN. “Josephine Decker Releases A New Film About The Horror Writer Shirley Jackson” – transcript of an NPR inetrview.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
The new movie “Shirley” starts after the author Shirley Jackson has published her most famous short story. It’s called “The Lottery.” You might have read it in high school.

JOSEPHINE DECKER: The town annually stones to death one of its members because that’s just what’s done. You know, I think there’s a reason that that has stayed in our canon. It’s incredibly intense to talk about institutionalized oppression.

SHAPIRO: That’s the movie’s director Josephine Decker. Her film “Shirley” is a fictional story about a real person. And so I asked Decker how she compares the author, who died in 1965, to the character Shirley Jackson that Elisabeth Moss plays in the movie.

DECKER: It was a tricky challenge I guess you could say. But our MO was really just to prioritize making the audience feel like they were inside of a Shirley Jackson story. We put that above all else. So we were always adventuring into her fiction as the primary source for our inspiration of how to approach the film. We were very clear that we wanted to make a film that wouldn’t be mistaken for a biopic, even though I think it totally (laughter) has. It’s hard – when you call a film “Shirley,” I guess people get confused.

(5) CAMP IN TROUBLE. Huntsville’s Space Camp, and the US Space & Rocket Center museum in general, are in deep financial trouble due to knock-on effects of the pandemic and are seeking donations to help stay open: “U.S. Space & Rocket Center launches ‘Save Space Camp’ Campaign” on WAFF 48.

(6) THAT’S STRANGE! Yahoo! News shares tweeted footage from four years ago in “Benedict Cumberbatch Surprised Fans In Comic Store As Doctor Strange In New Video”.

A behind-the-scenes video of Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange delightfully stopping by a comic bookstore is making the rounds, and it’s exactly a bright spot the internet needed these days.

Scott Derrickson, the director and co-writer of “Doctor Strange,” on Monday night shared a “never before shown moment” of Cumberbatch, in full character regalia, casually walking into. a comic book store in New York City during the filming of the 2016 superhero flick. 

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAYS.

  • July 28, 1940 – Bugs Bunny, the iconic cartoon character, made his official debut in the 1940 Oscar nominated short, The Wild Hare. The Looney Tunes standout was first voiced by actor Mel Blanc. NPR “Morning Edition.” “What’s Up, Doc? Bugs Bunny’s Age. Cartoon Rabbit Turns 80”.
  • July 28, 1955 — X Minus One’s “The Embassy” first aired. The story is that a man walks into a detective agency wanting to hire them to find the Martians that he says are here on Earth. It’s based on a story by Donald Wollheim published in Astounding Science Fiction in the March 1942 issue. The script is by George Lefferts. The cast includes Joseph Julian and Barry Kroger. (CE)  

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 28, 1844 – Gerard Manley Hopkins.  Including this original extraordinary poet will startle any Christian.  “What?  That’s not fantasy!”  Be kind, brothers and sisters.  Discovering him was worth all the quarreling with my teacher after high test scores put me in English IV my freshman year in college.  Read this; and yes, it’s a sonnet.  If you didn’t look up “Heraclitean” and you should have, shame on you.  (Died 1889) [JH]
  • Born July 28, 1866 – Beatrix Potter.  Famous for The Tale of Peter Rabbit; two dozen of these.  Prizewinning breeder of Herdwick sheep.  Conservationist.  Careful mycological paintings finally published in W.P.K. Findlay’s Wayside & Woodland Fungi (1967); Linnean Society finally apologized for sexist disregard of her research (1997).  (Died 1943) [JH]
  • Probably best known for Tales of Peter Rabbit but I’d submit her gardening skills were second to none as well as can be seen in the Green Man review of Marta McDowell’s Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life here (Died 1943.) (CE)
  • Born July 28, 1928 Angélica Gorodischer, 92. Argentinian writer whose Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire That Never Was got translated by Ursula Le Guin into English. Likewise Prodigies.has been translated by Sue Burke for Small Beer Press. (CE)
  • Born July 28, 1931 – Jay Kay Klein.  For decades he was fandom’s photographer.  He wrote Analog’s Biologfor thirty years.  Fan Guest of Honor at Discon II the 32nd Worldcon.  Big Heart (our highest service award).  First Fandom Hall of Fame.  At the end he donated some 70,000 photos to the Eaton Collection at U. Cal. Riverside; so far 6,000 digitized and available electronically.  Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here.  (Died 2012) [JH]
  • Born July 28, 1941 Bill Crider. Though primarily a writer of horror fiction, he did write three stories in the Sherlock Holmes metaverse: The Adventure of the Venomous Lizard, The Adventure of the St. Marylebone Ghoul and The Case of the Vanished Vampire. He also wrote a Sookie Stackhouse short story, “Don’t Be Cruel” in the Charlaine Harris Meta-verse. (Died 2018.) (CE)
  • Born July 28, 1947 – Colin Hay, 73.  Six dozen covers, a few interiors.  Here is The Left Hand of Darkness.  Here is Orbitsville.  Here is Rendezvous with Rama.  Here is Before the Golden Age vol. 2.   [JH]
  • Born July 28, 1955 – Ed Green, 65.  Hard worker at cons within reach, local, regional, world.  Chaired Loscon 24 and 31, co-chaired La-la’s Eleven (9th in a series of relaxacons, named with variations of “La-la Con” i.e. for Los Angeles and La-la Land).  Served as LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.) President.  Evans-Freehafer Award for service to LASFS.  [JH]
  • Born July 28, 1966 Larry Dixon, 54. Husband of Mercedes Lackey, both GoHs of CoNZealand, who collaborates with her on such series as SERRAted Edge and The Mage Wars Trilogy. He contributed artwork to Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeons & Dragons source books, including Oriental AdventuresEpic Level Handbook, and Fiend Folio. (CE)
  • Born July 28, 1968 Rachel Blakely, 52. You’ll most likely know her as Marguerite Krux on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World as that was her longest running genre role. She was briefly Alcmene on Young Hercules, and played Gael’s Mum on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. And showed as Penelope in the “Ulysses” episode of Xena: Warrior Princess. (CE)
  • Born July 2, 1980 – Kelly van der Laan, 40.  Four novels, three shorter stories in her Spring (in Dutch, Lentagon) series – first novel came from Nanowrimo; a dozen more short stories. “Pink Water” won first prize in the Fantastic Story contest.  Collection Lost Souls just released in February.  Likes Corey, King, Lynch, Martin, Sanderson, Rothfuss.  [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Is Herman the subject of alien catch-and-release?

(10) FROSTY IN SPACE. Official ice cream of the Space Force TV show, “Ben and Jerry’s Boots on The Mooooo’N.” Here are four minutes of laughs about the ice cream in “Boots on the Moooon:  Space Force R & D Diaries.”

(11) LAST CHANCE TO SEE. BBC reports “Van Gogh: Postcard helps experts ‘find location of final masterpiece'”.

A postcard has helped to find the probable spot where Vincent van Gogh painted what may have been his final masterpiece, art experts say.

The likely location for Tree Roots was found by Wouter van der Veen, the scientific director of the Institut Van Gogh.

He recognised similarities between the painting and a postcard dating from 1900 to 1910.

The postcard shows trees on a bank near the French village of Auvers-sur-Oise.

The site is 150m (492ft) from the Auberge Ravoux, the inn in the village, where Van Gogh stayed for 70 days before taking his own life in 1890.

(12) STEVEN KNOWS BEST. In Yahoo! Entertainment’s “‘Waterworld’ at 25: How Kevin Costner’s choice to ignore Steven Spielberg resulted in one of the most expensive movies ever”, Ethan Alter interviews Waterworld screenwriter Peter Rader, who says that Steven Spielberg’s advice to director Kevin Reynolds and star Kevin Costner to film most of Waterworld in a tank rather than on the water led to colossal cost overruns when the film’s sets were destroyed in a typhoon.

Memo to all aspiring filmmakers: When Steven Spielberg tells you not to do something, you’d be wise to listen. Kevin Costner and Kevin Reynolds learned that lesson the hard way during the production of their 1995 action epic, Waterworld. Set in a dystopian tomorrow where the polar ice caps have melted, erasing “dryland” and bathing the world in water, the movie was conceived as an ambitious aquatic Western with a science-fiction twist. But when Waterworld washed ashore in theaters 25 years ago this summer, all anyone could talk about was the out-of-control budget and behind-the-scenes creative battles that culminated with Costner replacing Reynolds in the editing room. According to Waterworld screenwriter, Peter Rader, the source of the movie’s many troubles stemmed from one fateful decision: the choice to shoot the entire film on the open water rather than in a controlled environment like a studio water tank….

(13) IN THE QUEUE. “Virgin Galactic set for last key rocket test flights”.

Virgin Galactic is about to start a key series of powered test flights of its passenger rocket plane.

The company’s Unity vehicle has so far conducted only glide flights after moving into its operational base in New Mexico earlier this year.

The powered ascents will see Unity ignite its hybrid rocket motor to climb to the edge of space.

These tests will set the stage for Virgin Galactic to introduce its commercial service.

Six hundred individuals have so far paid deposits to take a ride on Unity, with many of these individuals having put down their money a good number of years ago.

But George Whitesides, the company’s chief space officer, said their wait would soon be over.

“Our next flight will be just purely two pilots in the front to do a systems check,” he told BBC News.

“And then, once we’ve done that – well, we’re in pretty exciting territory because the plan is to start putting [four of our] people in the back. We haven’t shared exactly how many flights that will be because we’ve got to see how it goes. But it could be a fairly small number.”

(14) HAVE A LOOK AROUND. “The interior design of Virgin Galactic’s rocket plane” – BBC video.

Fare-paying passengers will have big windows to view space from the vehicle’s cabin.

(15) PUTTING IT TOGETHER. “Iter: World’s largest nuclear fusion project begins assembly” – BBC has the story.

The world’s biggest nuclear fusion project has entered its five-year assembly phase.

After this is finished, the facility will be able to start generating the super-hot “plasma” required for fusion power.

The £18.2bn (€20bn; $23.5bn) facility has been under construction in Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, southern France.

Advocates say fusion could be a source of clean, unlimited power that would help tackle the climate crisis.

Iter is a collaboration between China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the US. All members share in the cost of construction.

(16) STUCK IN A GROOVE. At the New York Times, two space journalists say “Too Much Mars? Let’s Discuss Other Worlds”.

Three government space agencies around the world are getting ready to return to Mars this summer. Along with China and the United Arab Emirates, the United States plans to land the fifth NASA rover, Perseverance, on the red planet (along with a small, experimental helicopter, Ingenuity). But the rover’s most important job will be scooping up and caching some samples that humans or robots may eventually retrieve.

The planetary science community will cheer these missions. But many researchers have started asking, more loudly than usual, why we’re going back to Mars yet again. So we invited Rebecca Boyle and David W. Brown, two journalists who have devoted a fair share of their careers to interviewing space researchers at NASA and in academia, to discuss why Mars, a planet that lost its atmosphere long ago, seems to absorb so much of the oxygen — and budgetary resources — in the rooms where explorations of our solar system are decided.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Screen Junkies take on a classic in Honest Trailers:  E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial on YouTube. The junkies spend most of their time bashing the ’80s cheesefest Mac And Me, which they show is almost like E.T. “except for one major difference:  E.T. is good!” (DId you know Jennifer Aniston made her debut in Mac And Me?)

[Thanks to Joey Eschrich, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]