Pixel Scroll 2/12/24 Cats Dream Well. Why Do You Think They Sleep So Much?

(1) STUMBLING OUT OF THE STARTING GATE. When the Montréal in 2027 Worldcon bid launched two days ago, one of its Presupport levels included an offer that sparked debate about whether it violated the WSFS Constitution’s site selection rules:

Today that language has been removed:

Mike Scott explained the problem on Facebook:

WSFS constitution 4.3. Non-natural persons can only cast site selection ballots for No Preference. Montreal in 2027 buying you a WSFS membership in Seattle is fine, and you can still vote in site selection yourself, because you’re a natural person. But if you delegate Montreal in 2027 to cast a ballot on your behalf, that ballot must be counted as No Preference, because Montreal in 2027 is not a natural person. The constitution doesn’t say that ballots must be cast on behalf of a natural person, it says they must be cast by a natural person.

Other people have always been allowed to deliver ballots properly executed by a voter. Here, the committee had said they would execute these ballots for others. In that case, the ballots would have to be counted as No Preference.

(2) TEL AVIV IN 2027 WEBSITE. The announcement of competition from Montréal has led to a wider awareness that the WorldCon 2027 in Tel aviv bidders launched a new website last October.

The TLV2027 bid committee boasts a team of highly experienced individuals. Guy Kovel, the Bid Chair, has a track record of convention operations. Gadi Evron, with a history of organizing events since 1996, handled logistics and events at prestigious conventions like Dublin 2019 and CoNZealand. Other members, including Einat Citron, Naama Friedman, Dror Raif Nesher, and Tal Goldman, bring expertise in programming, logistics,  volunteer management, and event operations.

The front page also carries this statement about the situation in Israel:

We want to update you on the current situation with our bid committee. Firstly, we’re relieved to share that all the members of our committee are safe, even though some of us have been called to service during these challenging times.

We’re all deeply devastated by the recent attacks, but we remain steadfast in our belief that things will stabilize, and ultimately, peace will prevail. Our commitment to our shared goals remains unshaken, and we’ll continue to work diligently to bring our vision to life.

Thank you for your unwavering support, and together, we’ll navigate through these trying times and look forward to a brighter future.

(3) ROMANTASY ON THE RADIO. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week’s Open Book on BBC’s Radio 4 looked at the sub-genre of “Romantasy”.  This is a hugely growing book genre in Britain the past couple of years that has had to overcome some snobbery with clear overlaps – depending on the book – with epic fantasy, military fantasy, etc…

‘Romantasy’ – combining fantasy and racy romance, it’s the hot new genre sought after by publishers and readers alike, and dominated by female authors and readers. To discuss it’s huge growth in popularity, Johny is joined by: Saara El-Arifi – bestselling author of Faebound, the first in a three part trilogy, which went straight to number one on release last month; Natasha Bardon – publisher of Science Fiction and Fantasy for Harper Voyager, of romantasy-focussed imprint Magpie Books, and of the upcoming ‘spicy’ romantasy list, the Midnight Collection; and by Katie Fraser – journalist for The Bookseller who writes about SFF.

You can download it from here: “Open Book, Madeleine Grey”.

(4) TAKE THE TOUR. Congratulations to Brian Keene and Mary SanGiovanni on their store opening! And thanks for the Vortex Books & Comics Opening Day video tour. (I see Brian starts right off in the true outlaw spirit by ignoring the crossing signal!)

Authors Brian Keene and Mary SanGiovanni have opened a bookstore in Columbia, Pennsylvania — focusing on horror, science-fiction, fantasy, thrillers, and other speculative fiction genres, as well as comic books and magazines. Brian gives you a tour on opening day.

(5) MYRIAD MEN OF TIN. G. W. Thomas rounds up an enormous number of examples of robots in Seventies comics in “Bronze Age Robots! 1970s” at Dark Worlds Quarterly.

…The 1970s divides neatly in two with Star Wars at the center. The 1980s would see Science Fiction explode in all media as Star Wars proved that fans wanted space opera again, even if they hadn’t known it. For robot fans in America there was the coming of the Japanese style giant robots. And more toy-based products like ROM the Spaceknight.

(6) OMEGA AWARDS DEADLINE. February 13 is the last day to submit entries for The Tomorrow Prize and The Green Feather Award.

(7) THE NEW NUMBER TWO. This list is presented as an infographic: “The 15 BEST Science Fiction Books of ALL TIME” at Daily Infographic. Number 1 is Dune. But number 2 is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?

(8) THOSE WERE THE DAYS, MY FRIEND. The New York Times tells how “Video Games Are Mourning the Old, Weird, Clunky Internet”.

Surfing the web in the 1990s and early 2000s was a slower endeavor, and fewer people had access to the technology. But it is still easy to reminisce about the days when it felt like a public marketplace, with a good chance that someone out there had made a blog or GeoCities site about the niche topic you found interesting.

Those robust online forums have since been flattened into algorithmic social media feeds or hidden on messaging apps, a shift mourned by several video games with a shared fondness for bygone internet eras.

Games like last year’s Videoverse, 2019’s Hypnospace Outlaw and the upcoming Darkweb Streamer use chat interfaces akin to AIM or MSN, as well as fake websites that greet people with MIDI songs and text written in bold fonts. Each experience has its own nostalgic lens but is a snapshot of lost expression, creativity and independence.

Chantal Ryan, an anthropologist and the lead developer of Darkweb Streamer, a horror simulation game that merges the perils of modern streaming with the ’90s internet, bemoaned how high-quality independent services were often cannibalized by corporate interests. She pointed to sites like Goodreads and AbeBooks, both bought by Amazon.

“It reminds me of forest clearing,” said Ryan, who studied at the University of Adelaide. “You have this habitat with sustainable ecosystems, and communities of beings living harmoniously. And then the bulldozer comes in and destroys literally everything in its path with no regard to who’s being affected.”…

The visual novel Videoverse follows the final days of the online social network for a fictional gaming system in 2003. Kinmoku

(9) ELIZABETH (WARREN) ADAMS OBITUARY. Norwescon social media has announced that Elizabeth (Warren) Adams, affectionately known as The Dragon Lady, died on February 9. She was the chair of Norwescons 11, 12, and 14, and ran legendary hospitality rooms at the con. She also was a past editor of Westwind, the NWSFS clubzine, and was very active with PSST (Puget Sound Star Trekkers).

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 12, 1950 Michael Ironside, 73. The role I remember Michael Ironside most for was as Lieutenant Jean Rasczak in Starship Troopers. There wasn’t much great about that film but I thought that he made much of that character. 

Do I need to say that I’m not covering everything he’s done of a genre nature? Well most of you get that. Really you do. So let’s see what I find interesting.

Michael Ironside in Starship Troopers

Scanners is one weird film. It really is. And he was in it as Darryl Revok, the Big Baddie, a role he perfectly played. 

Next he got cast as the main antagonist in another of my favorite SF films, this time as Overdog McNab in Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone. Who comes with these names?

Then there was Total Recall where he was Agent Richter, the ruthless enforcer of Cohaagen, the source of everything corrupt on Mars. Great role that fit his gruff voice and frankly even gruffer looks absolutely perfectly.

One of his major ongoing roles was in the V franchise, first as Ham Tyle, a recurring role in V: The Final Battle, and then playing the same character in all episodes of V: The Series.

Now we come to my favorite of his roles, in one one of my favorite series, seaQuest 2032, where he was Captain Oliver Hudson. Great series and an absolute fantastic performance by him! Pity it got cancelled after thirteen episodes. 

Finally he has one voice acting role I loved. In the DC universe, he was Darkseid, the absolute rule of Apokolis. He voiced him primarily on Superman: The Animated Series, but also on the Justice League series as well, and to my surprise on the HBO Harley Quinn series as well.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Argyle Sweater mashes up a nursery rhyme and online shopping.
  • Existential Comics stages a humorous confrontation between a student and teacher of the magical arts. Sort of Clarke’s Law in reverse.

(12) A LITTLE RAY OF SUNSHINE. Nic Farey, in This Here 72, thinks that the most noteworthy feature of the 2023 Hugo stats embarrassment (“Even a WorldThing avoider such as meself cannot have failed to clock the latest brouhaha (causing much haha round here, to be sure)”) is the opportunity it affords to declare his own report of the voting figures for this year’s FAAn awards will be immediately available — while predicting coverage of the FAAns he anticipates winning will be exploited to take attention away from the Hugos’ disgrace.

The fact that the probity of the FAAns (and my own alleged “fixing” of them, a libelous statement to be sure) has been questioned starts to be more of a “but look over there…” diversion, don’t it?…

Great suggestion, Nic, except (and I know you’ll be surprised to hear this) even your figleaf won’t be big enough to cover this cockup.

(13) THE QUIET BEFORE…THE QUIET. “’A Quiet Place: Day One’ first look at Lupita Nyong’o, Joseph Quinn” at Entertainment Weekly.

The ingenuity of the next A Quiet Place movie lies in the simplicity of its idea: Take the same core premise of the previous entries, but just change the setting. That tweak alone drastically affects the stakes. 

John Krasinski’s 2018 horror-thriller introduced the Abbott family, who embraced a life of silence at their rural farmhouse in upstate New York in a terrifying reality overrun by sightless alien monsters that hunt through sound. The story continued in 2021’s A Quiet Place: Part II, but now A Quiet Place: Day One, a prequel film and the franchise’s first spinoff, will see how the citizens of New York City, one of the noisiest metropolitans on the globe, fared when these vicious creatures arrived on Earth….

(14) SFF MOVIE TRAILERS DROPPED DURING SUPER  BOWL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Most (if not all) of the movie trailers debuted during the Super Bowl are for genre works. Comicbook.com did a roundup of all the YouTube videos. See them at the link: “2024 Super Bowl: Watch Every New Movie Trailer Released for the Big Game”.

The Super Bowl may technically be about the two best teams in the NFL facing off for football’s ultimate prize, but for many around the country, it represents one of the biggest movie events of the year. Several film studios use the Super Bowl as a platform to advertise some of their biggest movies in the coming year, leading to more than a few awesome trailers arriving online in the same weekend….

(15) BUGS, MISTER RICO! And some other commercials had a genre flavor, too, like this one: “Jeff Goldblum Returns as Brad Bellflower in Apartments.com’s Sci-Fi Super Bowl Ad” at LBBOnline.

Apartments.com returns to the Super Bowl as the universal leader in renting and debuted a never-before-seen 30-second spot, titled ‘Extraterrentials.’ In the new ad, which premiered during the first quarter of Super Bowl LVII, Jeff Goldblum continues his role as Brad Bellflower, visionary leader of Apartments.com, and defuses a tense standoff with some new arrivals on Earth. The campaign rollout spoofs an upcoming Jeff Goldblum sci-fi blockbuster, featuring a clever media strategy and unique creative from agency of record, RPA.   

“Leading up to the Super Bowl, Apartments.com leveraged extraterrestrial buzz in culture to generate intrigue and awareness across media channels by leaning into the possibility of a new Goldblum sci-fi film,” said Fred Saint, president, marketplaces at CoStar Group…. 

(16) DOPPELGÄNGERS3: “Exploring New Futures in Space: A Revolutionary Integration of Neuroscience, Quantum Physics, and Space Exploration” at SETI.org.

The SETI Institute is proud to support a groundbreaking project from London-based filmmaker and SETI Institute Designer of Experiences Dr. Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian that combines insights from intergenerational trauma, neuroscience, quantum physics, and space exploration.

Premiering at SXSW 2024, Doppelgängers3 is a feature film and research project that challenges conventional narratives of space colonization by integrating diverse perspectives. Ben Hayoun-Stépanian will present this multidisciplinary endeavor at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) 2024, highlighting its unique blend of science, culture, and storytelling within the decolonial space and space culture sessions.

The project spotlights the importance of acknowledging collective trauma and its impacts — a burgeoning field in neuropsychology research. By weaving together the stories of three individuals across different geographies, Doppelgängers3imagines a utopian community on the moon that learns from the past and aspires to a future where diversity and plurality are celebrated….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Dan Monroe at Media Master Design answers the question “What Happened to THE TIME MACHINE?”

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

About Those FAAn Awards

By John Hertz: In case you wondered, the FAAn Awards are the Fan(zine) Activity Achievement Awards.

“Faan” was originally a put-down – it meant someone whose attitude seemed to be “more fannish than thou”.  More a’s – like “faaan” or “faaaan” – made it worse.  It was pronounced with a sheep-bleat.

That meaning, like much fanspeak of those days, has faded.  But naturally it came to mind when we first thought of awards for fanzines, to supplement the Hugos, like the Nebula Awards from SFWA (the SF Writers’ Association), or the Chesley Awards from ASFA (Ass‘n of SF Artists).  We proclaimed that we ourselves were faans.  Modesty?  Self-deprecation?  So be it – or, because we’re speaking of the past, so was it.

That first thinking was in the mid-1970s.  Our Gracious Host had a part.  The first thinker was that fine fannish fellow (and, incidentally, my long-time friend) Moshe Feder.  The FAAn Awards were first given at Midwestcon XXVI in 1975.  That continued until 1980.  Then there was a long pause – also, for better or worse, very fannish.  The Awards re-awakened in 1995 and have since been presented at the fanziners’ con Corflu (corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable).

Corflu has a Website; you can read more of the Awards’ history there, or in Fancyclopedia III, or both, even.

This year’s FAAn Awards were given at Corflu XL (Belfast, Northern Ireland; 31 Mar – 2 Apr). Their Administrator was Nic Farey.  He’s published the details of voting here.

Don’t know Fanzineland?  At Bill Burns’ Website eFanzines you can see many winners of FAAn Awards.  You might also try looking for them in Fancyclopedia III.  Don’t have, or maybe even don’t want, electronics?  Fan activity on paper is still happening.  Rikki-tikki-tavi’s motto in the Kipling story is “Run and find out.”  I’m for it.

2023 FAAn Award Winners

The FAAn Awards were presented today at Corflu Craic in Belfast, NI.

FANZINE CATEGORIES

Best Genzine

  • Portable Storage (ed. William Breiding)

Best Perzine

  • This Here… (ed. Nic Farey)

Best Special Publication

  • 1957: The First British Worldcon (ed. Rob Hansen)

INDIVIDUAL CATEGORIES

Best Letterhack (Harry Warner Jr. Memorial Award)

  • Jerry Kaufman

Best Fanartist

  • Ulrika O’Brien

Best Fanwriter

(TIE)

  • Justin E.A. Busch
  • Nic Farey

Best Fanzine Cover

  • BEAM 17 (Alan White)

OTHER AWARDS

fwa (fanzine writers’ association) Past President election

2022 Past Presidents: Nigel Rowe, John D. Berry

1959 Past President: Keith Freeman

Corflu Lifetime Achievement Award

  • Rob Hansen

Nic Farey, FAAn Awards Administrator, who provided the summary of the award winners, says 42 ballots were cast.

Corflu 41 was awarded to Las Vegas, NV and will take place at the Gold Coast hotel and Casino from February 29 – March 3, 2024.

Pixel Scroll 1/6/23 I See Pixels Scrolling Down Broadway And Park Avenue With A Tiny Scottie Dog By Their Side

(1) WHO HOLDS THE RECORD? Scott Edelman notes that Lightspeed has published a new short story of his titled “A Man Walks Into a Bar: In Which More Than Four Decades After My Father’s Reluctant Night of Darts on West 54th Street I Finally Understand What Needs to Be Done”. And Edelman says, “I wondered how that compared to with other titles in our field, and dug out a science fiction book of list from 40 years ago which included a list of the longest titles” — The SF Book of Lists by Maxim Jakubowski and Malcolm Edwards, published in 1983. 

It shows Michael Bishop’s “On the Street of the Serpents or, The Assassination of Chairman Mao, as Effected by the Author in Seville, Spain, in the Spring of 1992, a Year of No Certain Historicity” as #1, with 31 words.

My story is also 31 words … but his is 169 characters to my 161.

When I sold the story to Lightspeed, I asked on social media for input on long titles since the time that list was assembled, and no one came up with anything longer.

Edelman appeals to File 770 readers, “With your vast intellects… do you know of any?”

The gallery below contains the three-page list – click for larger images.

(2) A STEP BACK. Publishing Perspectives reports industry decline in “AAP: US Book Publishing Revenues Down 9.3 Percent in October”

…In the October 2022 StatShot report, total revenues across all categories were listed as being down 9.3 percent over October 2021. As has happened throughout 2022, of course, observers look at year-over-year comparisons carefully, mindful that 2021 was the second year of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic‘s effects on the marketplace, both in the States and abroad….

(3) IRRESISTABLE TARGET. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] Slate’s book critic Laura Miller did something rather unfair(-ish) and did a review of the first chapter of a fantasy book that Ross Douthat, conservative NY Times columnist, is writing.  I thought it contained some interesting points about how NOT to start a fantasy novel. “Ross Douthat’s fantasy novel: first chapter of The Falcon’s Children, reviewed.”

New York Times opinion columnist Ross Douthat recently revealed that he has written the first volume in a trilogy of fantasy novels. Titled The Falcon’s Children, it has not been a hit with the “reasonable list of reputable publishing houses” Douthat says he’s submitted it to. In an end-of-year what-the-hell mood, the author posted the prologue and first chapter to his otherwise dormant Substack. “Why,” New York magazine’s Choire Sicha asked on Twitter, “are publishers not desperate for Ross Douthat’s fantasy novel? History tells us this the one thing you actually do want a tortured moralizing Christian to write!” In keeping with Douthat’s good-faith request for feedback, here’s a good-faith critique that might help answer Sicha’s question…..

(4) FAAN VOTING BEGINS. Nic Farey today distributed The Incompleat Register 2022, the voters’ guide and pro forma ballot for the 2023 FAAn awards. Voting is open and continues until midnight (Pacific time) Friday March 10, 2023. The award recognizes work in fanzines.

The awards will be announced at Corflu Craic in Belfast, Northern Ireland on April 2 2023.

Voting is open to anyone with an interest in fanzines, membership in Corflu is not required.

(5) GEARHEADS. “For ‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio,’ a Star Built From Tiny Gears and 3-D Printing” – the New York Times finds out how it’s done.

…He likened the mechanics inside puppet heads to components of a Swiss watch. “Those heads are not much bigger than a ping-pong ball or a walnut,” he said, explaining that the animator moves the gears by putting a tiny tool into the character’s ear or the top of its head. “The gears are linked to the puppet’s silicone skin, enabling the animator to create the nuances you see on a big cinema screen,” he said.

The introduction of geared heads was part of a series of overlapping waves of innovation in stop-motion that brought visuals to the screen that had never been possible. Nick Park and the artists at the British Aardman Animations sculpted new subtleties into clay animation in “Creature Comforts” (1989) and “The Wrong Trousers” (1993). Meanwhile, Disney’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993) showcased the new technology of facial replacement. A library of three-dimensional expressions was sculpted and molded for each character; an animator snapped out one section of the face and replaced it with a slightly different one between exposures. Then the Portland, Ore.-based Laika Studios pushed this technique further, using 3-D printing to create faces, beginning with “Coraline” (2009).

For “Pinocchio,” which debuted on Netflix a few months after Disney released Robert Zemeckis’s partly animated version of the story, most of the puppets were built at ShadowMachine in Portland, where most of the film was shot. Candlewick, the human boy Pinocchio befriends in the film, “has threads set into the corners of his mouth which are attached to a double-barreled gear system,” explained Georgina Hayns, an alumna of Mackinnon and Saunders who was director of character fabrication at ShadowMachine. “If you turn the gear inside the ear clockwise, it pulls the upper thread and creates a smile. If you turn it anticlockwise, it pulls a lower thread which produces a frown. It really is amazing.”…

(6) ONE SIX. “A Jan. 6 Comic Book Asks the Terrifying Question: What if the Coup Had Worked?”Vice interviews the creators.

…The first wave of the mob breaks into the Capitol and ascends the stairs from the first floor to the second. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman backs up to the top of the steps to try and divert the marauders. Goodman tries to get the crowd to go left. Instead they go right, overrunning him, and happen upon Vice President Mike Pence, who’s just off the Senate Floor. It’s a disaster. 

This a nearly-real scene from new, four-part comic series “1/6“ from Harvard law professor Alan Jenkins and author and activist Gan Golan.  It’s a speculative telling of the January 6 insurrection and coup attempt in an oppressive and authoritarian world where the mob, and Donald Trump, succeeded. (You’ll be able to find it on Amazon, in comic shops and in book stores starting on Jan. 8.) …

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 6, 1905 Eric Frank Russell. He won the first Hugo Award given for Best Short Story at Clevention in 1955 with “Allamagoosa”, published in the May 1955 issue of Astounding Science FictionSinister Barrier, his first novel, appeared in Unknown in 1939, the first novel to appear there. What’s your favorite work by him? (Died 1978.)
  • Born January 6, 1954 Anthony Minghella. He adapted his Jim Henson’s The Storyteller scripts into story form which were published in his Jim Henson’s The Storyteller collection. They’re quite excellent actually. Genre adjacent, well not really, but he did write an episodes of the excellent Inspector Morse series, “Driven To Distraction”. (Died 2008.)
  • Born January 6, 1955 Rowan Atkinson, 68. An unlikely Birthday perhaps except for that he was the lead in Doctor Who and The Curse of Fatal Death which I know did not give him the dubious distinction of the shortest lived Doctor as that goes to another actor although who I’ve not a clue.  Other genre appearances were scant I think (clause inserted for the nitpickers here) though he did play Nigel Small-Fawcett in Never Say Never Again and Mr. Stringer in The Witches which I really like even if the author hates. 
  • Born January 6, 1959 Ahrvid Engholm, 64. Swedish conrunning and fanzine fan who worked on many Nasacons as well as on Swecons. Founder of the long running Baltcon. He has many fanzines including Vheckans Avfentyr, Fanytt, Multum Est and others. He was a member of Lund Fantasy Fan Society in the University of Lund.
  • Born January 6, 1960 Andrea Thompson, 63. Her noted 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 I’m not kidding. Her last genre role to date appears to be in the Heroes: Destiny web series.
  • Born January 6, 1969 Aron Eisenberg. Nog on Deep Space 9. Way after DS9, he’d show up in Renegades, a might-be Trek series loaded with Trek alumni including Nichelle Nichols, Robert Beltran, Koenig and Terry Farrell. It lasted two episodes. Lifelong suffer of kidney disease, he died from it at just age fifty. (Died 2019.)
  • Born January 6, 1976 Guy Adams, 47. If you’ve listened to a Big Finish audio-work, it’s likely that you are familiar with his writing as he’s done scripts for their Doctor, UNIT and Torchwood series among his many endeavors there. Not surprisingly, he’s also written novels on Doctor Who, Torchwood, Sherlock Holmes and so forth. I’ve read some of his Torchwood novels — they’re good popcorn literature. 

(8) SHE-HULK. Marvel announces the next arc in author Rainbow Rowell’s run on She-Hulk will take things to the next level for the character’s 175th issue issue in April. 

 In the pages of her latest solo series, Jennifer Walters has reopened her law practice, took on some of her most intense cases yet, defeated a duo of new villains, and even found time for a new romance! But this April in SHE-HULK #12, She-Hulk’s promising new super hero journey will be threatened by a dangerous new archnemesis known as THE SCOUNDREL! Just in time for her 175th solo issue, She-Hulk will meet her match in a wild showdown that will have all her fans talking!

“Every issue that I get to write She-Hulk is a delight — but I’m especially honored to escort her to her 175th issue,” Rowell said. “One of things we’ve focused on is building up Jen’s narrative support structure… Giving her friends, colleagues, a love interest and her very own antagonists. The Scoundrel is an adversary tailor-made for Jennifer Walters. A lot of things come easily for Jen. Nothing about the Scoundrel is easy.”

Check out Jen Bartel’s cover below.

(9) MALIGN HARDWARE. “‘M3gan’ Review: Wherever I Go, She Goes” from the New York Times.

…In a headier movie, there might be some misdirection. But M3gan (performed by Amie Donald) is clearly pure evil from the start. She’s a great heavy: stylish, archly wry, intensely watchful. Her wanton violence never gets graphic enough to lose a PG-13 rating. In early January, when prestige holiday fare tends to give way to trashier pleasures, a good monster and a sense of humor can be enough. This movie has both, and it makes up for a slow start, some absurd dialogue (“You didn’t code in parental controls?”) and a by-the-book conclusion….

(10) UK TOP BOX OFFICE TOP TEN FILMS OF 2022. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] SF2 Concatenation has just tweeted an advance post ahead of its Spring seasonal edition of its regular meta-analysis of 52 weekly top ten British Isles box office rankings: “Top Science Fiction Films – 2022”.

This is a box office analysis and so reflects the broader public interest in SF film and not that of SF fans. Scroll down the page on the latter link to see other (non-top ten) SF films of the year. Links to trailers are included.

(11) CROCNADO. “British Comedy ‘Peter Pan Goes Wrong’ Plans Spring Broadway Bow” reports the New York Times. “The farce, by the team behind ‘The Play That Goes Wrong,’ is about a bumbling theater company attempting to stage the popular children’s play.”

…The play’s creators are Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, who also wrote “The Play That Goes Wrong”; the three will again star in their production. “Peter Pan Goes Wrong” features the same slapstick sensibility as the earlier play, but has a bit more character development, and an even crazier set.

“The fictional theater company is taking on a much more ambitious production, with flying, crocodiles and a revolving stage, and they put on the play with the same disastrous results,” Lewis said. “You get more behind the scenes into what’s going on with the characters, as well as all the farce and the madcap comedy.”…

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Michael J. Walsh, Nic Farey, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, 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.]

2022 FAAn Award Winners

An original FAAn Award trophy, created by Randy Bathurst.

The FAAn (Fanzine Activity Achievement) award winners were announced March 20. The complete voting statistics have been published here.

GENZINE

  • Portable Storage, edited by William Breiding

PERZINE

  • This Here…, edited by Nic Farey

SPECIAL PUBLICATION

  • Daangerous Visions, edited by Sandra Bond, Rob Jackson and Pat Virzi

FANWRITER

  • Mark Plummer

FANARTIST

  • Ulrika O’Brien

LETTERHACK (HARRY WARNER, JR. MEMORIAL AWARD)

  • Jerry Kaufman

COVER

  • Littlebrook #11, cover by Ulrika O’Brien

NUMBER ONE FAN FACE

  • Nic Farey

2022 FAAn Award Voting Begins

Voting has opened for the 2022 Fanzine Activity Achievement (FAAn) awards and will continue through February 25.

To jog voters’ memories about the eligible publications, Nic Farey, FAAn Awards Administrator, has created The Incompleat Register 2021, available at efanzines.com. In it Farey reminds everyone, “A ‘fanzine’, for our purposes, is defined as an immutable artifact, once published not subject to revision or modification. The fanzine might not exist in a physical form. A PDF, for example, is an artifact.”

The award has seven categories:

  • GENZINE: A fanzine which typically has multiple contributors in addition to its editor(s).
  • PERZINE: A fanzine which typically has few, if any, contributors other than its editor(s).
  • SPECIAL PUBLICATION: A “one-shot” fanzine or collection.
  • FANWRITER: A writer who has work first appearing in a 2021 fanzine.
  • FANARTIST: An artist who has work first appearing in a 2021 fanzine.
  • LETTERHACK (HARRY WARNER, JR. MEMORIAL AWARD): Loccer whose responses have appeared in a 2021 fanzine.
  • COVER: Best fanzine cover of 2021.

Farey has dropped the Website category, which has only ever had two winners, Efanzines for the first eleven years of its existence, and by Fanac.org for the last three.

 Anybody with an interest in fanzines is encouraged to vote, no memberships or fees are required.

The winners will be announced at Corflu Pangloss in Vancouver, BC on March 20.

[Corflu Pangloss logo by Dan Steffan.]

2021 FAAN Awards

The 2021 FAAn Award winners were announced today in an online ceremony presided over by Jerry Kaufman.

The full voting results are available from administrator Nic Farey here at eFanzines.

GENZINE

  • Portable Storage edited by William Breiding

PERZINE

  • This Here… edited by Nic Farey

SPECIAL PUBLICATION

  • Outworlds 71/Afterworlds edited by Jeanne Bowman, Rich Coad, Alan Rosenthal, Pat Virzi

FANWRITER

  • Claire Brialey

FANARTIST

  • Ulrika O’Brien

LETTERHACK HARRY WARNER, JR. MEMORIAL AWARD

  • Mark Plummer

COVER

  • BEAM #15 by Sara Felix

WEBSITE

  • Fanac.org Joe Siclari, Edie Stern

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

  • David Langford

NUMBER ONE FAN FACE

  • Claire Brialey
Cover of Beam 15 by Sara Felix

Pixel Scroll 3/12/21 All Unshielded Surfaces

(1) 2021 FAAN VOTING DEADLINE. FAAn Awards Administrator Nic Farey reminds everyone that today is the last day of voting – it closes tonight — March 12 — at midnight Pacific time. Guidelines and the ballot are available in The Incompleat Register 2020 [PDF file]

(2) SOLVING FOR PIE. Scott Edelman invites listeners to “Grab a slice of pie with Gil Roth” on Episode 140 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Gil Roth

I’ve been wanting to bring Gil to you for awhile, and had been hoping we’d be able to sneak away for a meal during either Readercon or the Small Press Expo, but neither occurred last year, at least not outside of a virtual space, and both will be virtual again this year. So as you listen, I’d like you to think of yourself as being with us at one of those cons, and tagging along as we head off to chat and chew.

We discussed his surprising (and my unsurprising ) guest with the greatest number of downloads, the advice John Crowley gave him about his potential writing career, how a guy who used to memorize X-Men comics got turned on to Love & Rockets, the way we process the deaths of former guests, the song he wants played at his memorial service, how to get often-interviewed guests not to regurgitate their favorite soundbites, why no comic book movie beats the first Superman, how he became the publisher of every letter Samuel R. Delany wrote in 1984, why during his days reviewing for The Comics Journal readers thought he was the secret identity of another writer, the Italo Calvino quote which has kept him going through the pandemic, and much more.

(3) YOUR IMAGINARY FRIENDS WHO WANT A PERCENTAGE. Victoria Strauss posted another Scam Alert at Writer Beware: “Paper Bytes Marketing Solutions and its Stable of Imaginary Agents”.

…To go with its brand-new name, Paper Bytes has initiated a brand new scam: a stable of imaginary literary agents. It’s an unusually detailed endeavor, with actual websites for each agent (albeit not very good ones) that include photos–some stock, some stolen–as well as made-up bios and false claims about who/what they represent. All share the email address @bookliteraryagent.com, which no doubt is convenient for the interchangeable roster of Paper Bytes marketers who inhabit these agent personas, but also makes them easier to track and expose.

I’ll list them all below. But first, How It All Works!…

…How to protect yourself?

1. Know how things work in the publishing world. Real literary agents don’t sell services to potential clients, or refer them to companies that do. Real agents don’t commonly contact writers out of the blue. The warnings at the Writer Beware website can help you recognize non-standard or predatory practices.

(4) ZIGGY STARDUST’S BROTHER BIGGY? Mental Floss recalls when “David Bowie Tried to Turn George Orwell’s ‘1984’ Into a Musical”.

The track list for David Bowie’s 1974 album Diamond Dogs offers a couple obvious clues about one source of inspiration: song titles include both “1984” and “Big Brother.” But Bowie didn’t just want to use themes from George Orwell’s 1984 on the record. As Open Culture reports, he initially hoped to turn the 1949 dystopian classic into a full-fledged musical of its own.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/x2xfpMMQIJ8 What form that musical was ultimately meant to take isn’t totally clear. According to Christopher Sandford’s biography Bowie: Loving the Alien, the adaptation would’ve been “a West End musical, with an accompanying album and film.” But in a Rolling Stone interview with William S. Burroughs from February 1974—just months before the release of Diamond Dogs—Bowie himself mentioned he was “doing Orwell’s 1984 on television.” It’s possible the project went through several iterations when the “Space Oddity” singer was still brainstorming it. But thanks to Orwell’s widow, Sonia (believed to be the basis for 1984‘s Julia), the musical never progressed past the incubation stage.

“My office approached Mrs. Orwell, because I said, ‘Office, I want to do 1984 as a musical, go get me the rights,’” Bowie explained in 1993, according to David Buckley’s Strange Fascination: David Bowie, the Definitive Story. “And they duly trooped off to see Mrs. Orwell, who in so many words said, ‘You’ve got to be out of your gourd, do you think I’m turning this over to that as a musical?’ So, they came back and said, ‘Sorry, David, you can’t write it.’” Since Bowie had already started “putting bits of it down” in the studio, the surprise rejection forced him to pivot quickly. His ill-fated musical became a concept album with Orwellian overtones.

(5) IT’S NEWS TO SOMEBODY. The publication of Matthew Yglesias’ article “Oh, the intellectual property rights you’ll extend” at Slow Boring has caught up with the already-played-out week-old Twitterstorm. Nevertheless, at the link you can read him make a case about copyright law, triggered by the Dr. Seuss controversy. 

…Regardless, under U.S. law, the copyrights last for the duration of their creator’s life plus 70 years — i.e., until 2061.

That’s a big change from how we did things in the Founders’ era, when copyrights lasted 14 years with an option to renew the copyright for an additional 14 years.

Since then, not only has Congress repeatedly extended the duration of copyright terms, they’ve even extended them retroactively, basically preventing Mickey Mouse (created in 1928) or Superman (created in 1938) from ever entering the public domain the way that 19th century characters like Frankenstein1 or Sherlock Holmes have.

I bring this all up because I think it’s relevant policy context for the recent controversy over Seuss Enterprises withdrawing six books from publication that were deemed problematic. Right-wing agitators have responded to this as if it’s the government censoring Dr. Seuss, and so out of solidarity with Dr. Seuss, they are buying non-canceled classics like “Green Eggs and Ham” in droves. But this is just not factual. Dr. Seuss has been dead for nearly 30 years. His heirs — likely these two stepdaughters, though that’s not entirely clear — canceled the books, and now are the ones reaping the financial rewards from the backlash to their own actions….

(6) BEHIND WANDAVISION. Marvel Entertainment dropped a trailer for “Marvel Studios’ Assembled: The Making of WandaVision”, a behind the scenes look at the series.

(7) MORE BINDING. The Verge reports on a trend toward “Making fanfiction beautiful enough for a bookshelf”.

… Lesure spends hours making sure each book looks unique and regal, but she has to be careful not to use any specific imagery that could land her in trouble.

That’s because the books Lesure crafts contain works of fanfiction, and she’s found an entire community of avid readers looking to turn their unauthorized digital favorites into physical treats.

Nothing about the process is simple. There are “literally hundreds of moments where I could do something wrong and everything falls to shambles,” Lesure, a student who started bookbinding during a gap year in 2019, told The Verge. Her process includes typesetting, redoing the typesetting, doing that again and again until it’s right, printing, folding, sewing, making the cover, and finally putting it all together.

Fanfiction has traditionally been confined to online sites like Archive of Our Own (AO3) and FanFiction.Net, but some of the most prolific artists within the space have found a way to help people enjoy their favorite titles in new ways: binding the stories into physical novels designed to read better and stand out on bookshelves. The crafts have helped bring some of the most popular unofficial stories set in Harry PotterStar Wars, and other universes onto shelves where they can sit right alongside their authorized counterparts.

(8) OUR BRIGHT FUTURE. The New York Times takes stock of the city’s inescapable barrage of LED sign advertising: “Am I in Manhattan? Or Another Sequel to ‘Blade Runner’?”

…Adrian Benepe, the former New York City Parks Commissioner and current head of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, sees “creeping Blade Runner syndrome” everywhere, from the clogged skies over Manhattan to the subways, which he rides to work every day from his home on the Upper West Side.

“They’re empty,” Mr. Benepe said. “I’ve been alone many times at rush hour. It’s eerie as hell.” He also finds the movie prescient in its depiction of a world saturated by intrusive, omnipresent advertising.

“Places in New York that used to not have advertising now have ads,” he said. “You can’t get away from it. It’s in the subways, it’s on the streets, it’s on barges. You never stop being assailed.”

Giant screens are nothing new, of course. But New York’s streetscape had been permeated as never before with twitchy, adhesively catchy LEDs, a trend that has only accelerated during the pandemic, with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announcing last summer the addition of 9,000 screens broadcasting “Covid-relevant safety information.”

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • March 12, 1927 –On this day in 1927, Metropolis premiered in Germany. It was directed by Fritz Lang. It was written by Thea von Harbou in collaboration with Lang. It  stars Gustav Fröhlich, Alfred Abel, Rudolf Klein-Rogge and Brigitte Helm. The film’s message is encapsulated in the final inter-title of “The Mediator Between the Head and the Hands Must Be the Heart.” In 2001 the film was placed upon UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, the first film so distinguished. It is considered one of the greatest films ever made, and has a 92% rating among audience members at Rotten Tomatoes.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • March 12, 1879 Alfred Abel. His best-known performance was as Joh Fredersen in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.  It wasn’t his only genre as Phantom, a 1922 German film, was fantasy, and my German is just good enough for years I studied it to see how much of work could be considered genre or genre adjacent. (Died 1937.) (CE) 
  • March 12, 1886 Kay Nielsen. Though he’s best known for his work with Disney for whom he did many story sketches and illustrations, not least for Fantasia and The Little Mermaid be it thirty years after his death, I’d be remiss not to note his early work illustrating such works as East of the Sun and West of the MoonHansel and Gretel and Andersen’s Fairy Tales. (Died 1957.) (CE) 
  • Born March 12, 1911 – Edmund North.  Major in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War II.  Served a term as President of the screen branch of the Writers Guild of America.  A score of movies; co-winner of the Best Screenplay Oscar for Patton; for us, screenplay for The Day the Earth Stood Still – which, despite its staggering difference from Bates’ “Farewell to the Master”, I think a classic.  Coined Klaatu barada nikto.  (Died 1990) [JH]
  • March 12, 1914 John Symonds. Critic of Alistair Crowley who published four, yes four, books on him over a fifty year period starting in the Fifties: The Great BeastThe Magic of Aleister CrowleyThe King of the Shadow Realm and The Beast 666. Needless to say the advocates of Crowley aren’t at all happy with him. Lest I leave you with the impression that his only connection to our community, he was a writer of fantasy literature for children including the feline magical fantasy, Isle of Cats  with illustrations by Gerard Hoffnung. (Died 2006.) (CE) 
  • Born March 12, 1916 – Richard Dorson, Ph.D.  Pioneering and possibly great folklorist – thus our neighbor; pioneering because, in his day, commercial and even arguably artistic success of retellings like Davy Crockett and inventions like Paul Bunyan were clouding the mind.  Coined urban legend and fakelore.  General editor, Folktales of the World.  Two dozen books, including a 1939 one on Crockett; Folk Legends of JapanAfrican Folklore.  “Suspicious of attempts by other disciplines –anthropology, sociology, and psychology, among others – to co-opt folk culture for their own … purposes…. emphasized the necessity for the accurate collection and documentation of folk materials” (quoted from this).  (Died 1981) [JH]
  • March 12, 1925 Harry Harrison. Best known first I’d say for his Stainless Steel Rat and Bill, the Galactic Hero series which were just plain fun, plus his novel Make Room! Make Room! which was the genesis of Soylent Green. I just realized I’ve never read the Deathworld series. So how are these? See OGH’s post on the Alex Cox animated version of Bill, the Galactic Hero here. (Died 2012.) (CE)  
  • March 12, 1933 Barbara Feldon, 88. Agent 99 on the Get Smart series. Other genre credits include The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and reprising her character on the short-lived follow-up to this series, Get Smart, done twenty years later. She didn’t have that much of an acting career though she did show up in the pilot of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. (CE) 
  • Born March 12, 1936 – Virginia Hamilton.  National Book Award, Newbery Medal (first black to win it), Hans Andersen Award, Wilder Award.  Amer. Lib’y Ass’n King-Hamilton Award named for her (and Coretta Scott King).  Eight novels (including Willie Bea and the Time the Martians Landed), thirty shorter stories, four collections for us; twoscore books all told.  (Died 2002) [JH]
  • March 12, 1952 Julius Carry. His one truly great genre role was as the bounty hunter Lord Bowler in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. – oh, but what a role it was! Over the course of the series, he was the perfect companion and foil to Bruce Campbell’s Brisco County, Jr. character. He did have one-offs in The Misfits of Science, Earth 2Tales from the Crypt and voiced a character on Henson’s Dinosaurs. (Died 2008.) (CE) 
  • Born March 12, 1955 – Jim Mann, F.N., age 66.  Living in Pittsburgh, hard-working member of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n) for whose NESFA Press he has edited a dozen books including The Compleat Boucher and The Rediscovery of Man (Cordwainer Smith).  Chaired Boskone 25 (with wife Laurie Mann) and 47.  Fan Guest of Honor (with LM), ArmadilloCon 27.  Fellow of NESFA (service award).  [JH]
  • Born March 12, 1963 – David B. Coe, Ph.D., age 58.  A score of novels, as many shorter stories (some under another name). Crawford Award for LobTyn Chronicle (trilogy).  Reviews and Robots called Time’s Children Best Fantasy Novel of 2018.  Interviewed in Strange HorizonsTeleport.  “We … construct our worlds twice…. for ourselves [and] again … digestible and entertaining and unobtrusive, not to mention elegant, poetic, even exciting….  all the necessary material – and not an ounce more….  [after we] have unraveled their mysteries … decided which elements … are most important to our stories.”  [JH]
  • Born March 12, 1971 – Rob St. Martin, age 50.  Six novels, one novelette, anthology Ages of Wonder (with Julie Cznerneda).   Has read Pride and PrejudiceThe Phantom TollboothA Tale of Two CitiesMoby-DickRomeo and JulietCurious George.  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) GUARDIAN ANGLE. Lisa Tuttle has a new installment of “The best recent science fiction and fantasy – reviews roundup” at The Guardian in which she reviews Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley; Birds of Paradise by Oliver K Langmead; The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey; A History of What Comes Next by Sylvain Neuvel; and A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine.

(13) GEARING UP. I’m always ready to read more about the Antikythera mechanism: “Scientists may have solved ancient mystery of ‘first computer’” in The Guardian.

…The battered fragments of corroded brass were barely noticed at first, but decades of scholarly work have revealed the object to be a masterpiece of mechanical engineering. Originally encased in a wooden box one foot tall, the mechanism was covered in inscriptions – a built-in user’s manual – and contained more than 30 bronze gearwheels connected to dials and pointers. Turn the handle and the heavens, as known to the Greeks, swung into motion.

Michael Wright, a former curator of mechanical engineering at the Science Museum in London, pieced together much of how the mechanism operated and built a working replica, but researchers have never had a complete understanding of how the device functioned. Their efforts have not been helped by the remnants surviving in 82 separate fragments, making the task of rebuilding it equivalent to solving a battered 3D puzzle that has most of its pieces missing.

Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, the UCL team describe how they drew on the work of Wright and others, and used inscriptions on the mechanism and a mathematical method described by the ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides, to work out new gear arrangements that would move the planets and other bodies in the correct way. The solution allows nearly all of the mechanism’s gearwheels to fit within a space only 25mm deep….

(14) ROCKET’S RED GLARE. “Green Run Update: NASA Targets March 18 for SLS Hot Fire Test – Artemis”.

NASA is targeting Thursday, March 18 for the second hot fire of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket’s core stage at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

After performing tests to demonstrate that a recently repaired liquid oxygen pre-valve was working, the team has continued to prepare the core stage, its four RS-25 engines, and the B-2 test stand for the second hot fire at Stennis. Later this week, the team will power up the core stage again and do a final check of all its systems. Then, on March 16, two days before the test, they will power up the stage, starting the clock for the second hot fire….

(15) YOU ARE NUMBER SIX. Paul Weimer meets the challenge of reviewing the sixth book in a series: “Microreview [book]: Out Past the Stars by KB Wagers” at Nerds of a Feather.

… This is in many ways a very different book than the previous book, Down Among the Dead. Reading it in quick succession after the second book might give some emotional whiplash, it certainly is a gear shift. It’s much more like the first book of the Farian War trilogy, There Before the Chaos, in the sense that it builds up to a big set piece finale of a conflict. Unlike that first book, though, this book is much more about the action beats. 

This shows the range and power of the author across the three books, and sets them apart from the first trilogy as well, which is more adrenaline filled….

(16) TIGER TIGER. Elsewhere at Nerds of a Feather, Sean D assesses a novella by Aliette de Bodard: “Microreview [Book]: Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard”.

…This novella constantly shifts from plot point to plot point, that kept me on my toes without unmooring me into confusion. The craft involved with implementing poetic language that benefits the atmosphere, pacey scenes that never lose focus, and characters that I felt like I knew inside out by the story’s conclusion, deserves kudos. Mostly because the novella juggles a small, insulated cast of characters with subterfuges and violence that impact other kingdoms. Fireheart Tiger is like an expansive web that leaves the reader in the center of it, while also skillfully and pithily letting them know of all its disparate parts.

(17) ELDRITCH SCIENCE. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert couples an alarming report with a Cthulhu reference. “Quarantinewhile… Please Stop Reviving Ancient Pathogens From The Sea Floor”.

Quarantinewhile… In “Hey, maybe don’t do that” news, Japanese scientists are experimenting on 100-million-year-old bacteria that wake up from their slumber when brought to the surface and provided with food.

(18) PIPING AT THE GATES OF DAWN. And speaking of Lovecraft –

[Thanks To John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, rcade, Nic Farey, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Michel Toman, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Rob Thornton, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

2021 FAAn Awards – Voting and Awards Ceremony

By Rob Jackson: If you haven’t yet voted for the 2021 Fanzine Activity Achievement Awards, you have till midnight Pacific Standard Time on Friday March 12th to do so. PLEASE VOTE!  Voting is open to anyone with an interest in fanzines; you do not have to be a member of Corflu or anything else.  This year’s Awards Administrator, Nic Farey, has made it as easy as possible by listing in one zine all fanzines and contributors known to him, along with a ballot and voting instructions, here.

Because this year’s con has been held back to the autumn, it would be rather late to delay the 2021 FAAn Awards till then.  Once the votes have been counted, the results will be announced online in a ceremony held by Zoom video call on Sunday March 28, at 8 p.m. BST UK time (3 p.m. US EDT, or midday US PDT). 

Jerry Kaufman will MC the proceedings.  Rob Jackson will moderate the call and send out the Zoom link a few days in advance, along with instructions on how the ceremony will be run.  As well as the FAAn Awards, this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award will be announced, and the Corflu Business Meeting will nominate the site for the 2022 Corflu, which we hope will return to the usual spring timetable.

If you want to be there, email Rob at [email protected] to be added to the distribution list.  You don’t have to be a Corflu member to be on the call and watch; just email and ask!

Pixel Scroll 1/8/21 Riverworld Deep, Mount To-Be-Read High

(1) WHATES NEW INTERZONE EDITOR. The PS Publishing newsletter (which I haven’t seen) announces Ian Whates is taking over the editorial reins of Interzone, Jonathan Strahan confirms. Whates follows Andy Cox, who has run the UK zine for years.

(2) WHO WROTE THE BOOK. Joyce Reynolds-Ward in “Writing the Revolution” argues that sff helped fuel the mindset behind yesterday’s debacle in DC.

…For every nuanced, mindful, well-thought-out version of Writing the Revolution, there are at least three or four crudely sketched out wish-fulfillment fantasies that are no more realistic than a first-person-shooter video game or their real-life variant, the run-and-gun tacticool classes that are nothing more than jumped up paintball, that allow the participants to fantasize that they are Real Warriors. Hell, I see several of these books pop up every day on my Facebook and Twitter feeds, either through ads or assorted promotional groups. And they’re churned out to fulfill a reader demand for romantic notions about what Rebellion or Revolution really is.

(Dare I mention Star Wars here? Um, maybe not.)

Couple that sort of romanticized view of revolution and warfare with the sort of political polemic dominating social media over the past five years (Um. Longer) and you end up with events like January 6th, 2021.

You end up with an angry mob seeking to interfere with the peaceful transfer of power because they’ve been fed lies about the legitimacy of the 2020 election and who view themselves as akin to their fictional heroes.

And the intersection of the two has created the foundation for that idealized conceptualization of revolution….

(3) FAAN AWARDS BALLOT AVAILABLE. Nic Farey, FAAn (Fanzine Activity Achievement) Awards Administrator, has published The Incompleat Register [PDF file] as a voters’ guide. The nominating ballot is within, and votes must be received before midnight PDT, Friday March 12, 2021. Voting is open to anyone with an interest in fanzines. Farey cautions that the Register —

should not be considered to be a definitive list of what you can and cannot vote for. My sources are primarily efanzines.com, Guy Lillian’s listzine ‘The Zine Dump’ and also paper zines personally received. As I can’t possibly be aware of everything, all votes received will be counted in good faith. A “fanzine”, for our purposes, is defined as an immutable artifact, once published not subject to revision or modification. The fanzine might not exist in a physical form. A pdf, for example, is an artifact.

And he adds —

  • You do NOT have to be a member of Corflu or anything else for that matter.
  • You do NOT have to have read or received any minimum number of fanzines to vote, although of course we encourage you to check out the contenders.

(4) BUTLER’S BEGINNINGS. “7 Surprising Facts About Octavia Butler” at Mental Floss.

2. A BAD SCI-FI MOVIE INSPIRED OCTAVIA BUTLER TO START WRITING.

It was a 1954 movie called Devil Girl from Mars, which Butler saw when she was about 12 years old, that ignited the future author’s interest in science fiction. “As I was watching this film, I had a series of revelations,” Butler said during a 1998 talk at MIT. “The first was that ‘Geez, I can write a better story than that.’ And then I thought, ‘Gee, anybody can write a better story than that.’ And my third thought was the clincher: ‘Somebody got paid for writing that awful story.’ So, I was off and writing, and a year later I was busy submitting terrible pieces of fiction to innocent magazines.”

(5) GIVE THEM YOUR ATTENTION. Alex Acks spotlights “6 of the Best Black Indie SFF Writers You Should Be Reading” at Book Riot. First on the list —

NICOLE GIVENS KURTZ

A genre polymath who does crime, horror, and SFF, she brings a delightfully pulpy twist to everything she writes, whether it’s mashing up fantasy or science fiction with mystery or penning weird westerns. (Her website is here.) But if you give one book a shot…

KILL THREE BIRDS BY NICOLE GIVENS KURTZ

First off, I cannot get over this cover. (The cover for the sequel, A Theft Most Fowl, is also gorgeous.) Second, we have winged people following a Phoenix goddess, with a caste system that’s laid out as kind of birds. And our main character, Prentice Tasifa, is a Hawk, gifted with the supernatural ability to see things others can’t. And then it’s a well written procedural mystery where Prentice has to hunt down a serial killer.

(6) HOMESTEADING ON TATTOOINE. “The Force (and a Lenient Disney) Is With ‘Star Wars’ Fan Filmmakers” says the New York Times. It’s definitely more encouraging when you don’t get sued.

…Moviemaking fans of other fantasy franchises have complex relationships with the companies that own them, and “Star Wars” fan films do walk a legal tightrope. Disney asks that they be clearly marked, not raise money through crowdfunding, omit copyrighted media, and not profit from ticket sales or online advertisements. The company doesn’t appear to discriminate between fan films made by professionals and those made by amateurs, provided they follow its rules. “There is a point where you do have to protect your copyright,” Hale said.

Not everybody complies. An Indiegogo campaign to finance “Kenobi” got help from James Arnold Taylor, who has voiced the character in “Star Wars” animated television shows. (He also plays the villain in “Kenobi.”) Others have turned to Kickstarter to crowdfund their work.

And some who try to observe the rules have run into trouble. Warner/Chappell, which shares some “Star Wars” music rights with Lucasfilm, in 2019 claimed copyright over a Darth Vader fan film, “Shards of the Past,” posted on YouTube. A torrent of online criticism followed, accusing the company of seeking to profit from fan work. Lucasfilm ultimately intervened to lift the claim. (Hale said she could not comment about copyright claims.)

As technology stretches the capabilities of fan storytelling, questions of propriety could become even thornier. Several films by Peter Csikasz, a Hungarian university student, combine digital assets from official “Star Wars” video games with original motion-capture animation. Csikasz said the games’ developers were aware of his work, even as fan-made “Star Wars” video games have been repeatedly shut down.

As these films grow technically more artful, they have also grown more expensive. A two-minute animated movie can cost more than $5,000 to produce. The budget for “Kenobi” approached $100,000, Satterlund said. (Costly expectations can be prohibitive: last month, Ortiz indefinitely suspended his project after failing to raise $20,000 through crowdfunding.)

Disney’s rules mean many fan movies are financial losses, but a well-executed production can drive YouTube subscribers, attract sponsors for future work or open doors to professional opportunities. “It greases the wheels,” Satterlund said of his short. “It’s helped get me in the room to talk to somebody.”

(7) PW STAFF PICKS OF 2020. Martha Wells’ Network Effect is one of the few sff works named by Publishers Weekly staff as “The Best Books We Read in 2020”.

Martha Wells’ cranky, TV-binging Murderbot, the star and narrator of four superb novellas before this novel, made for a perfect quarantine companion. Her SecUnit killing machine has favored a solitary existence ever since it hacked its way to sentience. It feels safest hunkered down in a storage bay, mainlining its favorite shows, far removed from the messy emotions and motives of people – a preference that only became more relatable as 2020 stretched on…. 

(8) MODEL CITIZEN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster, Designated Financial Times Reader.] In a December 31 piece in the Financial Times about the failures of polling, Christine Zhang and Courtney Weaver note a prediction Isaac Asimov made in 1955.

In a fictional America, elections are decided by Multivac, a supercomputer that requires only the input of one ‘representative’ voter to statistically model the outcomes of thousands of nationa1, state, and local contests.  This is the 2008 that science fiction author Isaac Asimov portrayed i his 1955 short story “Franchise,” published three years after Univac, one of the earliest commercial computers, successfully predicted Dwight Eisenhower’s landslide victory on US television network CBS.

Asimov’s dystopian democracy has not yet materialized.  As it turns out–particularly in the two most recent US presidential races–the electorate is not so easy to reliably predict.  Yet it is not from a lack of trying.

(9) KAPANY OBIT. “Narinder S. Kapany, ‘Father of Fiber Optics,’ Dies at 94” – the New York Times pays tribute.

…When Narinder S. Kapany was in high school in the 1940s in Dehradun, an Indian city in the Himalayan foothills, his science teacher told him that light travels only in straight lines. By then he had already spent years playing around with a box camera, and he knew that light could at least be turned in different directions, through lenses and prisms. Something about the teacher’s attitude, he later said, made him want to go further, to prove him wrong by figuring out how to actually bend light.

By the time he entered graduate school at Imperial College London in 1952, he realized he wasn’t alone. For decades researchers across Europe had been studying ways to transmit light through flexible glass fibers. But a host of technical challenges, not to mention World War II, had set them back.

He persuaded one of those scientists, Harold Hopkins, to hire him as a research assistant, and the two clicked. Professor Hopkins, a formidable theoretician, provided the ideas; Dr. Kapany, more technically minded, figured out the practical side. In 1954 the pair announced a breakthrough in the journal Nature, demonstrating how to bundle thousands of impossibly thin glass fibers together and then connect them end to end.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 8, 1891 – Storm Jameson.  Suffragette, took part in the Women’s Pilgrimage.  World War II led her to recant pacifism.  Four novels and a shorter story for us; forty other novels, novellas, criticism, history, memoirs.  (Died 1986) [JH]
  • Born January 8, 1908 William Hartnell. The very first Doctor when Doctor Who firstaired on November 23rd, 1963. He would be the Doctor for three years, leaving when a new Showrunner came on. He played The Doctor once more during the tenth anniversary story The Three Doctors (aired 1972–73) which was the last thing he filmed before his death.  I scanned through the usual sources but didn’t find any other genre listing for him. Is that correct? (Died 1975.) (CE) 
  • Born January 8, 1926 – Bob Pavlat.  Co-founder of WSFA; chaired Disclave 4-5.  Among his fanzines, BobolingsContour.  With Bill Evans, the monumental Evans-Pavlat Fanzine Index.  Had the good taste to marry Peggy Rae McKnight; Big Heart (our highest service award) given to both; after his death she found no one worth remarrying for sixteen years.  Appreciations here.  (Died 1983) [JH]
  • Born January 8, 1942 – Stephen Hawking, Ph.D., F.R.S.  Physically active in college, coxed a rowing crew; in graduate school contracted Lou Gehrig’s disease, with which he lived, defying all, for fifty years.  Fellow of the Royal Society.  Lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences – although an atheist; as Pope John Paul II said, “Both believing scientists and non-believing scientists are involved”.  U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom.  A score of other substantial awards.  Masterly communicator of science, e.g. best-seller A Brief History of Time.  Appeared on Star Trek (The Next Generation), FuturamaThe Big Bang Theory; foreword to The Physics of ”Star Trek”; five George’s Secret Key novels with daughter Lucy Hawking.  (Died 2018) [JH]
  • Born January 8, 1945 – Nancy Bond, age 76.  Newbery Honor and Tir na n-Og Award for A String in the Harp.  Two more books for us, five others.  Lived in Boston, Concord, London, and Borth.  “Each of my books has a firm geographical setting.”  [JH]
  • Born January 8, 1947 David Bowie. First SF role was as Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth. He next shows up in The Hunger, an erotic and kinky film worth seeing. He plays The Shark in Yellowbeard, a film that Monty Python could have produced but didn’t. Next up is the superb Labyrinth where he was Jareth the Goblin King, a role perfect for him.  From that role, he went on to being Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ, an amazing role by the way. He was in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me as FBI Agent Phillip Jeffries, a role which was his last role when he appeared later in the Twin Peaks series. He also played Nikola Tesla in The Prestige from Christopher Priest’s novel. Ok, what did I am leaving y’all to mention? (Died 2016.) (CE)
  • Born January 8, 1954 – Sylvie Germain, Ph.D., age 67.  Six novels for us translated into English; two dozen others, biography, a children’s book, essays.  Prix Femina, Moncrieff Prize, Prix Goncourt des LycèensPrix mondial Cino del Duca.  [JH]
  • Born January 8, 1977 Amber Benson, 44. Best known for her role as Tara Maclay on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her post-BtVS genre credits are scant with a bit of work on Supernatural, a web series called The Morganville Vampires and, I kid you not, a film called One-Eyed Monster which is about an adult film crew encountering monsters.  She is by the way a rather good writer. She’s written a number of books, some with Christopher Golden such as the Ghosts of Albion series and The Seven Whistlers novel which I read when Subterranean Press sent it to Green Man for review. Her Calliope Reaper-Jones series is quite excellent too. As an audiobook narrator her credits include works by Seanan McGuire and John Scalzi. (CE) 
  • Born January 8, 1979 Sarah Polley, 42. H’h what did I first see her in? Ahhhh she was in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen! Let’s see what else she’s done… She’s been in the animated Babar: The MovieExistenzNo Such Thing (which is based very loosely on Beowulf), Dawn of the DeadBeowulf & Grendel (well sort of based on the poem but, errr, artistic license was taken) and Mr. Nobody. (CE) 
  • Born January 8, 1983 – Michael Ziegelwagner, age 38.  Fifty short stories, e.g. “On the Unreality of Our Forests”, “Bee, Wasp, Bumblebee, Fish”, “New Rules for the Robot Car”. Mostly in German.  [JH]
  • Born January 8, 1965 Michelle Forbes, 56. Best remembered as  Ensign Ro Laren in Star Trek: The Next Generation, she also showed up in the Battlestar Galactica: Razor film as Admiral Helena Cain, and the pilot of Warren Ellis scripted Global Frequency as Miranda Zero. She played Maryann Forrester on True Blood as well. (CE)

(11) FREUDIAN SPACE. Stephen Colbert makes a couple of (possibly NSFW) genre references in this installment of “Quarantinewhile…” on The Late Show.

(12) GENRE JIGSAW. Brooks & Wyman offers the  “Vintage Science Fiction Magazine Covers 1000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle”. That’s pretty cute!

Jigsaw Puzzle 1000 Pieces for Adults: This collage of vintage sci-fi magazine covers is nearly 28? across. Our thick cardboard construction and high-quality paper laminate makes for a durable and beautiful puzzle image. Includes puzzle image insert to help you complete the puzzle without the box image.

(13) FAME ON THE MENU. Here’s another of those food places that gives celebrity names to its fare. The Atomo minimart in Los Angeles:

jean luc batard

made with fresh brewed earl grey, oat milk and a touch of agave. make it so.

peter sprinklage

a moist vanilla cake with almond and rum notes, bedazzled with rainbow sprinkles and frosted with a vanilla butter cream. make everyday your birthday.

(14) HAPPY UNBIRTHDAY. “New Observations Agree That the Universe is 13.77 Billion Years old”Universe Today has the story.

The oldest light in the universe is that of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). This light was formed when the dense matter at the beginning of the universe finally cooled enough to become transparent. It has traveled for billions of years to reach us, stretched from a bright orange glow to cool, invisible microwaves. Naturally, it is an excellent source for understanding the history and expansion of the cosmos.

The CMB is one of the ways we can measure the rate of cosmic expansion. In the early universe, there were small fluctuations of density and temperature within the hot dense sea of the big bang. As the universe expanded, the fluctuations expanded as well. So the scale of fluctuations we see in the cosmic microwave background today tells us how must the universe has grown. On average, the fluctuations are about a billion light-years across, and this gives us a value for the rate (the Hubble parameter) as somewhere between 67.2 and 68.1 km/sec/Mpc….

(15) WHAT MOORCOCK’S WORLDS LOOK LIKE. If you followed Michael Moorcock’s career in the UK, or were impatient enough to buy these paperbacks as imports like I was, you likely know these covers.“The master of Moorcock: The psychedelic sci-fi book covers and art of Bob Haberfield” gets discussed at Dangerous Minds.

Sci-fi author Michael Moorcock has published a dizzying array of books since getting his start editing a Tarzan fanzine when he was still a teenager. In addition to his extensive literary career, Moorcock has also had some pretty praiseworthy experiences in the world of rock and roll including having played banjo for Hawkwind (as well as writing lyrics for the band) and penning three songs for Blue Öyster Cult. However, as excellent as Mr. Moorcock is, this post is about a man whose art adorned countless covers of books by Moorcock and others in the genre of fantasy and sci-fi for years, Bob Haberfield. If you are of a certain age you will very likely remember being in a store (especially in the UK) catching yourself staring right at one of Haberfield’s many contemplative psychedelic book covers that were staring right back at you…

See a whole gallery of these covers here: “20 Bob Haberfield – Moorcock book covers ideas”.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Random lessons Learned From Making Films” on Vimeo, director David F. Sandberg offers lessons he’s learned from making his three sf/fantasy films, including the complexity of having multiple actors in a scene (he had 14 in one scene in SHAZAM, and camera angles had to be plotted for all of them) and why good sound is more important in a film than good images. BEWARE SPOILERS.

[Thanks to Daniel Dern, Rob Thornton, John Hertz, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel “Tsunduko” Dern.]