Pixel Scroll 1/28/23 But Oh, Saberish Padawan, Beware Of The Day, If Your Scroll Be A Pixel

(1) COLUMBIA SHUTTLE TRAGEDY ANNIVERSARY. NPR is “Remembering the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy 20 years on”.

…SIMON: Twenty years later, what have we learned about that day? What happened there in the sky? And what might have prevented it?

DUGGINS: Well, you know, it’s funny. I mean, if you talk to historians, who are much better at this than I am, they’ll say, you know, the Titanic, it can’t sink. Challenger – routine launch and landing, no problems there. And that hubris always seems to catch up with us. And with Columbia, it was the piece of falling foam that hit the vehicle. And NASA asked the engineers, do you know it’s a problem? And they said, well, we can’t be sure. And so the manager said, fine, we’ll just keep going with the mission and not tell anybody about it. And it wasn’t until the very end that they informed the astronauts ’cause they figured it was going to come up in a press conference. And that was what ultimately doomed the crew….

(2) LE GUIN POETRY VOLUME COMING. The Library of America edition of Ursula K. Le Guin: Collected Poems will be released April 23.  See a PDF of the Table of Contents.

Throughout a celebrated career that spanned five decades and multiple genres, Ursula K. Le Guin was first and last a poet. This sixth volume in the definitive Library of America edition of Le Guin’s work presents for the first time an authoritative gathering of her poetry—from the earliest collection, 1974’s Wild Angels, through her final publication, So Far So Good, which she delivered to her editor a week before her death in 2018. It reveals the full formal range and visionary breadth of a major American poet.

Le Guin’s poems engage with themes that resonate throughout her fiction but find their most refined expression here: exploration as a metaphor for both human bravery and creativity, the mystery and fragility of nature and the impact of humankind on the environment, the Tao Te Ching, marriage, aging, and womanhood. Often traditional in form but never in style, her verse is earthy and playful, surprising and lyrical.

This volume features a new introduction by editor Harold Bloom, written shortly before his own death in 2019, in which he reflects on his late-in-life friendship with Le Guin and the power of her poetic gift. “For many years I have wondered why her poetry is relatively neglected,” he writes. “Her lyrics and reflections are American originals. Sometimes I hear in them the accent of William Butler Yeats and occasionally a touch of Robinson Jeffers, yet her voicing is inimitably individual.” The book also presents sixty-eight uncollected poems, a generous selection of Le Guin’s introductions to and reflections on her poetry, including a rare interview, and a chronology of her life and career.

(3) OH GOODY. Futurism assures readers, “By 2030, You’ll Be Living in a World That’s Run by Google”.

…By 2030, Google will have that World Brain in existence, and it will look after all of us. And that’s quite possibly both the best and worst thing that could happen to humanity.

To explain that claim, let me tell you a story of how your day is going to unfold in 2030.

You wake up in the morning, January 1st, 2030. It’s freezing outside, but you’re warm in your room. Why? Because Nest – your AI-based air conditioner – knows exactly when you need to wake up, and warms the room you’re in so that you enjoy the perfect temperature for waking up.

And who acquired Nest three years ago for $3.2 billion USD? Google did.

You go out to the street and order an autonomous taxi to take you to your workplace. Who programmed that autonomous car? Google did. Who acquired Waze – a crowdsourcing navigation app? That’s right: Google did….

(4) WISH WE COULD BE THERE. Dr. Phil Nichols will speak about “Literacy, Censorship and Burning Books: Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451” at the Wolverhampton Literature Festival on February 3.

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, the classic dystopian novel of book-burning firemen, is as relevant today as when it debuted seventy years ago. Its insights into censorship, television, drug abuse and the fall and rise of civilisation retain a freshness and plausibility rarely seen in other science fiction of that era.

Fahrenheit 451 is Ray Bradbury’s most successful novel. Ironically for a book which rages against censorship, it frequently shows up on lists of “banned books”. Adapted for the stage by Bradbury himself and twice filmed, it somehow doesn’t date, despite being seventy years old in 2023.

Phil Nichols is the editor of The New Ray Bradbury Review and Senior Consultant to the Ray Bradbury Centre at Indiana University. In this extensively illustrated talk, he explains the curious history of this classic science fiction dystopia. It’s a tale of diverse influences (Huxley and Koestler; but surprisingly not Orwell) and extensive re-writing, resulting in a work which Neil Gaiman calls “a love letter to books . . . a love letter to people.”

(5) DEFINITELY BELONGS TO THE SCIENCE FICTION CANNON. ScreenRant celebrates that “The First Science Fiction Movie Is Over 120 Years Old” and they’ll fight anyone who says it isn’t genre.

A Trip to the Moon is considered the first science fiction movie by most – but some say it is not science fiction, because it is not based on any realistic form of science, classing it more as a space fantasy. A Trip to the Moon features classic elements of the current sci-fi genre, such as aliens and sleek rockets, that would now be considered sci-fi because of how the genre has developed. However, some people do not classify films such as Star Wars as sci-fi because the science in it lacks plausibility, the same way A Trip to the Moon is not realistic with its science – highlighting how differently the genre is considered amongst audiences, as many would consider it a quintessential sci-fi series….

(6) QUITE A BUNCH OF CHARACTERS. Fonts In Use unravels “The Mystery of the Dune Font” and how devotees are keeping it alive.

… The liaison between Dune and Davison Art Nouveau started in September 1975, when the typeface was used by Berkley Medallion for a paperback edition of the first two novels. At the time, the Berkley imprint was owned by New York-based publisher G.P. Putnam’s Sons. When Berkley Putnam published the first hardcover edition of the third novel, Children of Dune, in 1976, the new typographic identity was applied there, too. Later on, Putnam used the typeface on the jackets for hardback editions of other, unrelated books authored (or coauthored) by Frank Herbert…

 … In 2009, a Dune aficionado who goes by the moniker DuneFish (DFUK) and/or MEP made a digital font called Orthodox Herbertarian, “painstakingly traced from scans of the typeface that was used on the American Ace editions […] of Dune and many other Frank Herbert books”. This amateur digitization is freely available at kullwahad.com. The font is caps only (A–Z), with a basic set of punctuation characters and scaled-down caps in the lowercase. Because it’s based on the book covers (as opposed to the original typeface), it naturally adopts the narrowed proportions. Orthodox Herbertarian is a laudable effort, but it doesn’t include any of the alternates or the numerals. In 2020, Reddit user purgruv added lowercase letters and numerals to this freebie and offered it for download as Extended Herbertarian. The additions aren’t faithful to the original and unfortunately aren’t well drawn, either….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1923 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Following up on my essay yesterday, the quote tonight is from Agatha Christie’s “The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim”.  

It was first published in March of 1923 in Britain in the Sketch. The story was published in the States in the Blue Book Magazine in December of 1923 as “Mr Davenby Disappears”.  In 1924, the story appeared as part of the Poirot Investigates anthology. 

And yes, David Suchet got to perform the story here in which is Poirot wagers Chief Inspector Japp that he can solve the mystery of a missing banker without leaving his flat. 

And here’s the quote now…

Poirot and I were expecting our old friend Inspector Japp of Scotland Yard to tea. We were sitting round the tea-table awaiting his arrival. Poirot had just finished carefully straightening the cups and saucers which our landlady was in the habit of throwing, rather than placing, on the table. He had also breathed heavily on the metal teapot, and polished it with a silk handkerchief. The kettle was on the boil, and a small enamel saucepan beside it contained some thick, sweet chocolate which was more to Poirot’s palate than what he described as ‘your English poison’. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 28, 1910 Arnold Moss. Anton Karidian a.k.a. Kodos the Executioner in the most excellent “The Conscience of the King” episode of Trek. It wasn’t his only SFF role as he’d show up in Tales of TomorrowThe Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.The Alfred Hitchcock HourTime Tunnel and Fantasy Island. (Died 1989.)
  • Born January 28, 1920 Lewis Wilson. Genre wise, he’s remembered for being the first actor to play Batman on screen in the 1943 Batman, a 15-chapter theatrical serial from Columbia Pictures. A sequel to the serial was made in 1949, but Robert Lowery replaced Wilson as Batman. (Died 2000.)
  • Born January 28, 1929 Parke Godwin. I’ve read a number of his novels and I fondly remember in particular Sherwood and Robin and the King. If you’ve not read his excellent Firelord series, I do recommend you do so. So who has read his Beowulf series? (Died 2013.)
  • Born January 28, 1965 Lynda Boyd, 58. Let’s start off with she’s a singer who starred in productions The Little Shop of Horrors and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Film-wise, she had roles in Final Destination 2, The Invader, Mission to Mars and Hot Tub Time Machine. She’s had one-offs in X-Files, Highlander, Strange Luck, Millennium, The Sentinel, The Crow: Stairway to Heaven (where she had a recurring role as Darla Mohr), Outer Limits, Twilight Zone and Smallville.
  • Born January 28, 1981 Elijah Wood, 42. His first genre role was Video-Game Boy #2 in Back to the Future Part II. He next shows up as Nat Cooper in Forever Young followed by playing Leo Biederman in Deep Impact. Up next was his performance as Frodo Baggins In The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit films. Confession time: I watched the very first of these. Wasn’t impressed. He’s done some other genre work as well including playing Todd Brotzman in the Beeb superb production of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
  • Born January 28, 1986 Shruti Haasan, 37. Indian film actress known for the Telugu fantasy film Anaganaga O Dheerudu, and the Tamil science fiction thriller 7aum Arivu. She voiced Queen Elsa in the Tamil-dubbed version of Frozen II.
  • Born January 28, 1998 Ariel Winter, 25. Voice actress who’s shown up in such productions as Mr. Peabody & Sherman as Penny Peterson, Horton Hears a Who!DC Showcase: Green Arrow as Princess Perdita and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns as Carrie Kelly (Robin). She’s got several one-off live performances on genre series, The Haunting Hour: The Series and Ghost Whisperer.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Six Chix shows how hardcover books have learned to play rough at the airport.

(10) CATZILLAS. “The Army Corps of Engineers Made a Glorious 2023 Cat Calendar” and Gizmodo has a slideshow of the whole thing.

It’s hard to believe that the mighty, stone-faced U.S. Army would ever adapt adorable cat babies as its representatives, but this is the internet in the year of our lord 2023. Anything is possible.

That’s certainly what I thought when I stumbled upon this glorious 2023 cat calendar made by the Portland District of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. While it’s not the product of a Photoshop wizard, the calendar earnestly features gigantic cats being their amazing furry selves. They play, they scratch, they think about life, and they stretch—all the while interacting with the Army Corps’ various dams, jetties, and heavy machinery….

(11) PLAUDITS FOR NEWITZ. Paul Di Filippo reviews The Terraformers by Annalee Newitz in the Washington Post [Archive.is link].

… This generously overstuffed tale has enough ideas and incidents to populate half a dozen lesser science fiction books. But the reading experience is never clotted or tedious, never plagued by extraneous detours. The story — which begins nearly 60,000 years in the future and unfolds over more than a millennium — rollicks along at a brisk clip while allowing Newitz space to dig into characters and milieu, and pile on startling speculative elements….

(12) NUKE THE MOON. In the New York Times: “‘The Wandering Earth II’ Review: It Wanders Too Far”

Upon its release, “The Wandering Earth,” Frant Gwo’s 2019 film about a dystopia in which Earth is perilously pushed through space, was minted as China’s first substantial, domestic sci-fi blockbuster, with the box office returns to prove it.

The film was entertaining enough, but its ambitious scope had something of an empty gloss to it, partly because the story’s drama wasn’t grounded in anything beyond the showy cataclysm. Its audaciously messy sequel, “The Wandering Earth II,” seems to have taken note and sprinted, aimlessly, entirely in the other direction. Losing all of the glee of its predecessor, the movie instead offers nearly three hours of convoluted story lines, undercooked themes and a tangle of confused, glaringly state-approved political subtext….

(13) KEEP YOUR DRAWERS ON. The Takeout tells how “Fox News Fell for an A&W Joke About Its Pantsless Mascot”.

…As you can see, the A&W tweet is simply parroting M&M’s tweet closely (the internet age is weird, everyone) and riding the same jokey wave. Rooty, typically pantsless, will wear jeans now. Funny gag! However, Fox News took A&W’s post as an opportunity to wage a culture war.

At first the outlet reported A&W’s Rooty announcement as a serious matter….

“First it was an M&M’s, now a bear has to wear [pants],” noted Fox Business anchor Cheryl Casone. “This is the woke police. Cancel culture has gone—ridiculous.”

Later, however, after all that lamentation, Fox realized the error, clarifying that A&W followed up its original tweet with another one that said, “Is now a good time to mention that this is a joke?”

(14) IT COULD HAPPEN ANYWHERE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] It’s Saturday, I’m up early, had croissant and coffee and done work chores for today already 10.20. (I’m so hot it’s untrue…) So here is an extra from today’s Science. “Earth-like planets should readily form around other stars, meteorites suggest”.

Samples from space rocks suggest water and light elements are present in warm inner part of planet-forming disks

How hard is it to give birth to an Earth? To assemble the right mix of rock, metal, and water, in a balmy spot not too far from a star? For a long time, planetary scientists have thought Earth was a lucky accident, enriched with water and lighter “volatile” elements—such as nitrogen and carbon—by asteroids that had strayed in from the outer edges of the early Solar System, where those materials were abundant. But a series of new studies, including two published today in Science, suggests all the ingredients were much closer at hand when Earth was born…

Also Matt over at PBS Space Time contemplates Silicon based aliens

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Everything’s up to date on Ukraine’s farms.

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

Live From 770, It’s Bradbury Saturday Night!

(1) AUTOGRAPHING GENESIS. John King Tarpinian sent along these scans of artifacts and photos from Ray’s first ever signing in March 1953.

And here is a photo from another signing of Golden Apples of the Sun later in 1953, in Pasadena, CA. This time Ray was with his pals, Forrest J Ackerman and William F. Nolan.

(2) HOW GENRE IS RAY? [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is from an interview of Alexander Glass by Gareth Jelley in Interzone 202-293.

JELLEY:  “Speaking more generally, I like stories which seem only barely to be fantastical like ‘The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse’ by Ray Bradbury.  It is a really weird tale, but also just a portrait, or distorted snapshot, of society at a certain time.  It is brushed lightly with a feeling of unreality.”

GLASS:  “I remember a story by Bradbury called something like ‘That Old Dog Lying In The Dust” which has no speculative element at all, it’s simply somebody remembering a trip he took to a tiny circus in Mexico.  And that it’s just a description, although because it’s Bradbury, it’s a wonderful description.  And then there at the end, there’s this little section, a couple of sentences, saying how affected the narrator is by the memory, and by the idea that things are lost and in the past and irretrievable.  It’s included in one of the collections along with a load of genre stories and it doesn’t matter, because it’s simply a really well done story, regardless of genre.  Bradbury doesn’t care, and the readership doesn’t care either.  But also it’s not that different in terms of his concerns from something like The Martian Chronicles stories where there’s a science fiction shell, but the core of it is the people’s memories of their childhood or whatever.”

(3) POTIONS ELEVEN. The Portalist says these are “11 Classic Ray Bradbury Books Everyone Should Read”.

One of the best-known writers of the 20th century—in any genre—The New York Times called Ray Bradbury “the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream.” But while Bradbury’s most popular works were science fiction, he was never constrained by genres, by forms, or by modes. 

Besides sci-fi classics likeFahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, Bradbury wrote mysteries, horror stories, coming-of-age tales, fictionalized memoirs, and sometimes works that combined all of the above.

With a distinct voice and an unmistakable love of language, Bradbury’s singular stories explore dystopian futures, idyllic pasts, and worlds that never were and never will be. 

For both old fans and newcomers, these must-read Ray Bradbury books show the range and the depth of the master’s many tales, and will give you a solid entry point into his oeuvre, no matter what aspect of it you’re interested in.

(4) COMING BACK IN PRINT. “1950s pulp comic adaptations of Ray Bradbury to be republished”Boing Boing has the story.

The pulp publishing company EC Comics was only around for about fifteen years before absorbed into the broader brands of the publishing world. But in that short time, the fledging comic company was able to establish itself as a cult icon, thanks to a few offbeat anthology collections you may have heard of like Tales from the Crypt and MAD Magazine.

One of the company’s lesser known (but still infamous!) ventures included a series of comic book adaptations of the work of Ray Bradbury. EC Comics put out 28 of these illustrated Bradbury comics between 1951 and 1954, featuring work by now-iconic artists such as Johnny Craig, Reed Crandall, Jack Davis, Will Elder, George Evans, Frank Frazetta, Graham Ingels, Jack Kamen, Bernard Krigstein, Joe Orlando, John Severin, Angelo Torres, Al Williamson, and Wallace Wood….

…If you’re a fan of pulp art, or black-and-white comic art, Home to Stay!: The Complete Ray Bradbury EC Stories looks like a pretty cool collection…

(5) HOW TO GET IT. And here’s the link to Fantagraphics offer to sell you a copy of Home to Stay!: The Complete Ray Bradbury EC Stories.

(6) CLIPPING SERVICE. Fangoria connects the dots of Ray’s history with the San Diego Comic-Con: “Live Forever: Celebrating Ray Bradbury’s Impact On Comic-Con, Genre, And Fandom In See You At San Diego.

In honor of Ray Bradbury’s birthday week we are celebrating with a sneak peek of an excerpt from the upcoming See You At San Diego: An Oral History Of Comic-Con, Fandom and the Triumph of Geek Culture. The book chronicles the rise of fandom and pop culture nostalgia throughout the past century, over the course of 480 pages author and pop culture historian Mathew Klickstein explores how fandom has transformed pop culture. From The Twilight Zone to Ray Bradbury, Famous Monsters of Filmland, and Star Wars, to Twilight — Klickstein explores how fandom has transformed popular culture. Featuring more than 400 photos and art bursts, the book is an essential and defining resource of the forces that have transformed popular culture over the course of the past century. …

…Take a look at an exclusive excerpt below, as some featured guests celebrate Ray Bradbury’s immortal impact on the genre space and fandom. Live forever!

(7) AN ORIGINAL MARTIAN. Brad Leithauser covers a new book in “’The Ray Bradbury Collection’ Review: Mind of the Martian”, behind a paywall in the Wall Street Journal.

Science-fiction writers of the 1950s, like Ray Bradbury, sometimes self-segregated into Martians and Venusians. Which sort of landscape inspired a writer’s brightest and most far-flung dreams? Was it a world beclouded and sodden and torrid—as you might expect on the surface of Venus? Or crystalline and sere and cool—as explorers to Mars might discover?

Bradbury was a Martian. Though he did root a few short stories in the wet, wan, jungly loam of Venus, his heart belonged to that fourth planet from the sun, the diminutive, rose-tinged one. He planted his personal flag on a ball of rock that, at its shortest distance, circles some 34 million miles from Earth. His recounting of our future colonization of Mars’s distinctive terrain, with its desiccated mountains and canals, and its ghost town remnants of a long-vanished, non-human civilization, was his finest literary achievement.

(8) DOCTOR BRADBURY, I PRESUME. Well, he got his honorary doctorate from Woodbury in 2003, so this is stretching a point. Watch “Ray Bradbury’s Caltech Commencement Address – June 9, 2000” on YouTube.

…This is fantastic. I never made it to college. I didn’t have enough money and I decided I was going to be a writer anyway. And the reason I was going to go to college was all those girls. Right? So it’s a good thing I didn’t go. Huh?

Before I start, how many of you here today read me in high school? Huh? How many? You’re all my bastard children, aren’t you?

Thank you, thank you for that….

(9) BURNING SENSATION. Enid News & Eagle columnist David Christy hopes readers will not disregard the warning in Bradbury famous novel: “Revisiting ‘Fahrenheit 451’”.

,,, Bradbury wrote of a future society where books were burned in order to control dangerous ideas and unhappy concepts.

It tells of Guy Montag, a fireman who questions the book-burning policy, and undergoes an internal struggle of suffering and transformation as a results of his questioning society.

In parts of today’s America, there are a few people and politicians who seem bent on making this dystopian society come true, with banning of some books and concepts, particularly in some libraries and certainly in our schools — right here in Oklahoma in fact….

(10) HOW FRIGHTFUL. Fangoria’s Diana Prince says “We don’t scare children enough these days!” Something Wicked This Way Comes: A Dark Dive Into The Bradbury Classic”.

…For some odd reason, modern storytellers seem to be under the impression that kids either can’t handle the macabre or have no interest in fear. As someone who used to be a kid, I can safely state that both assertions are false. My fondest childhood memories were of being frightened silly by the old Disney villains like the witchy Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty and the demonic Chernabog from Fantasia.

Both creations reveled in evil and commanded the forces of darkness. Were they scary to a youngster? Absolutely! Were they more compelling than any of the sickly sweet heroes around them? You bet! “Family friendly” stories almost always had that element of morbidity. From Pinocchio smashing the Cricket in his original novel to the stygian boat ride in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, it seemed that our fantasies used to nurture a child’s love for the gruesome….

(11) DISNEYLANDING. Jim Denney chronicles the friendship of two geniuses — “’Nothing Has to Die’ —The Walt Disney-Ray Bradbury Friendship” — for the Walt Disney Family Museum blog.

In March 2005, Ray Bradbury gave a talk at the Performing Arts Center in Duarte, east of Pasadena. After his talk, I went up and handed him my copy of The Martian Chronicles to sign. I told him I had co-written a biography of Walt Disney with NBA executive Pat Williams, who had interviewed Ray for the book.

“Oh, yes!” Ray said. “Your friend sent me a copy. Would you like to hear how I met Walt Disney?”

I knew the story—it was in the book—but what a treat to hear it from Ray himself!

“It was 1964,” Ray said. “I was Christmas shopping and I saw a man coming toward me, loaded with Christmas presents. I said, ‘That’s Walt Disney!’ I rushed up to him and said, ‘Mr. Disney?’ He said, ‘Yes?’ I said, ‘I’m Ray Bradbury, and I love your movies.’ He said, ‘Ray Bradbury! I know your books.’ I said, ‘Thank God!’ And he said, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘Because I’d like to take you to lunch sometime.’ And Walt said, ‘Tomorrow?’ Isn’t that beautiful? Not, ‘Next month.’ Or, ‘Someday.’ Tomorrow. Walt was spontaneous. The next day, I met him at his office and we had lunch—soup and sandwiches on an old card table. I told him how much I loved Disneyland, and he was thrilled to hear it.”

And that was the story as he told it to me.

I later discovered that there was much more to the story of that day—and the story of the friendship of Walt Disney and Ray Bradbury. Walt passed away just two years after that first meeting, but they were such kindred souls that they packed a lifetime of friendship into those two years.

(12) YOU CAN STILL TUNE IN. [Item by Jim Meadows.] “The 21st”, a talk show that airs on several downstate Illinois public radio stations, and originates at Illinois Public Media, aka WILL Radio in Urbana IL, aired a segment Ray Bradbury’s birthday that brought together a bunch of Ray Bradbury experts to talk about his work. Listen at the link: “Turning 102: Looking Back at Ray Bradbury’s Legacy”.

Acclaimed author. Space age visionary. Free speech proponent. Public library defender. Literacy advocate. 

These were just some of the multitudes that made up Ray Bradbury, who wrote classics like Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, and Dandelion Wine. On what would have been his 102nd birthday, The 21st discussed how Ray Bradbury and his legacy have shaped contemporary literature, space exploration, and his hometown of Waukegan, Ill., and how Waukegan shaped him.

Guests:

Colleen Abel, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of English and Editor-in-Chief of Bluestem literary magazine at Eastern Illinois University

Jason Aukerman, Ph.D. 
Director, Center for Ray Bradbury Studies
Clinical Assistant Professor of American Studies and English, IUPUI 

Jonathan Eller, Ph.D.
Co-founder and former director, Center for Ray Bradbury Studies

Orton Ortwein 
Research Librarian, Waukegan Public Library

(13) YOU’RE FROM THE SIXTIES! Tripwire Magazine introduces readers to video of a Bradbury talk from 1968: “Sci-Fi Legend Ray Bradbury Speaks At UCLA”.

Thanks to UCLA on YouTube, here is a speech that late sci fi master writer Ray Bradbury gave from back in 1968. As huge fans of the man, we felt we had to share this…

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for many of these stories. And also to Martin Morse Wooster and Jim Meadows.]

Pixel Scroll 8/11/22 Pixel Scroller, Qu’est-Ce Que C’est?

(1) UGANDA BID FOR 2028 WORLDCON. Starburst Magazine’s Ed Fortune reports “Uganda To Bid For Worldcon 2028”.

…If successful, it will be the first time in the convention has ever been to the continent of Africa. The bid chair is Kabunga Micheal, an author, industrial artist and science-fiction fan. Other members of the bid committee includes the film director Anita Nannozi Sseruwagi.

The aim of the bid is to empower local artists and increase international awareness of Uganda’s contribution to world science fiction. The bid has not announced an exact location as yet, as it is very early days. Kampala has a plethora of possible sites….

The bid website is here: Kampcon 2028.

(2) DRAGON AWARDS 2022 BALLOT. The 2022 Dragon Awards Ballot was posted today. The public is invited to vote on the winners. You may register to receive a ballot until 11:59 (EDT) on the Friday of Dragon Con (September 2). Here’s the link — Dragon Con 2022 – Fan Awards Signup Form.

(3) DOWNTIME. Daily Science Fiction! told followers today they are going on hiatus. However, the site is scheduled to present stories into December.

Hi. Many of you have noted that we’ve been closed for story submissions for a bit. Many more of you (our most loyal supporters–Thank you!) noticed that today we just canceled automatic renewals for the DSF membership. This is because we have decided that, as we pass our 12th anniversary, we will go on a hiatus, either temporary or somewhat longer. The good news is that we have stories accepted and scheduled to present to you through the middle of December.

Thank you for reading and for your support through more than a dozen years of fun and stories.

(4) AWARD JUDGES. The Aurealis Awards 2022 Judging Panels have been announced – see the names at the link.

We are very pleased to welcome our 2022 Aurealis Awards judging panels. We had a massive response to our call out this year, and are delighted to welcome both returning and new panelists to the team. All our judges are volunteers and we are extremely grateful for their hard work and professionalism throughout the process. The Awards would not exist without them!

(5) THE WAY HOME WAS THROUGH THE COURTHOUSE. “Peter Beagle, Author of ‘The Last Unicorn,’ Is Back In Control” says the New York Times in a profile.

…After a lifetime writing whimsical stories and struggling to cover his bills, Beagle lost control of his intellectual property to his manager, Connor Freff Cochran, who also controlled his finances, and later claimed to friends and family that Beagle had dementia.

Now, after a lengthy court battle in which he accused Cochran of financial elder abuse, Beagle has the rights to his work back, and is making the most of it: A new edition of “The Last Unicorn” came out in July, a sequel called “The Way Home” is scheduled for publication next year, and he has another novel out on submission to his publisher.

“A line I wrote in ‘The Last Unicorn’ when I was in my early twenties,” Beagle said, turned out to be as prescient, for better and worse, as anything he’s written since. “‘Mortals, as you may have noticed, take what they can get.’”

Beagle, 83, has a mischievous sense of humor, and when he speaks, it sounds like he’s reading a play on a 1940s radio program, his full, rumbling voice spooling his stories and delivering the punchline just so.

“I know I’m a good story teller,” he said, “which makes my life sound more interesting than it actually is.”…

(6) RESISTANCE THROUGH CROWDFUNDING. “Residents raise almost $100,000 for Michigan library defunded over LGBTQ books” according to NBC News.

Residents of a small town in western Michigan helped raise almost $100,000 for their local library after it was defunded over the inclusion of LGBTQ books.   

Primary voters in Jamestown Township, a community 20 miles east of Lake Michigan, rejected a proposal last week to renew tax funds to support the Patmos Library in nearby Hudsonville that serves Jamestown and the surrounding area. The rejection, which passed with nearly two-thirds voter approval, eliminates 84% of the public library’s annual budget, or $245,000….

Two days after the vote, Jesse Dillman, a Jamestown resident and father of two, launched an online fundraiser to help raise the $245,000 to keep the library open. 

“I am very passionate about this, and I have people that are behind me to do this,” he said in an interview. “I think I have to do it now, because the iron is hot. If this is going to happen, it’s going to happen now.” 

As of Thursday morning, approximately 1,800 people had contributed more than $90,000. While many of those donors are local, people from as far away as Australia have contributed, Dillman said.

(7) DOES THE ORVILLE HAVE A FUTURE? “Seth MacFarlane has ‘no idea’ if The Orville will return” reports Winter Is Coming.

Last week marked the season 3 finale of The Orville, and what a run it has been. After two seasons on FX, the show made the jump to Hulu for its third season, where it flourished. Subtitled The Orville: New Horizons, season 3 of the comedic science fiction drama was not only better than its previous seasons by leagues, but also one of the most polished shows on TV.

But as of this writing, the fate of The Orville is still up in the air. Creator, executive producer, and star Seth MacFarlane (Captain Ed Mercer) spoke at length with Syfy Wire and gave a bit more insight into the state of the show and his approach to crafting its third season finale, which was intentionally designed to be satisfying for fans in case The Orville wasn’t renewed for season 4. The title — “Future Unknown” — is a nod to this. “You do want to continue to expand the world and, in a perfect scenario, tease what’s to come. But we just don’t know what’s to come. We just haven’t gotten a firm answer,” MacFarlane said.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1989 [By Cat Eldridge.] Yes, I’m a big fan of Bradbury with my favorite works being The Illustrated Man and Something This Way Wicked Comes (now that’s horror done properly), but I really do like much of his short fiction as well. (Yes, I know The Illustrated Man is really short stories.) And that is how we come to Ray Bradbury Theatre’s  “A Sound of Thunder” which aired for the first time thirty-three years ago on this evening.

It was adapted, of course, from “A Sound of Thunder” which was first published in Collier’s in the June 28, 1952, issue and published again in The Golden Apples of the Sun collection by Doubleday a year later. The Golden Apples of the Sun collection is available from the usual suspects. Interestingly Hard Case has Killer, Come Back to Me: The Crime Stories of Ray Bradbury which they released just two years ago. Ymmmm!

SPOILER ALERT (JUST IN CASE SOMEONE HAS READ OR SEEN IT) 

Two time travelers paid a hefty fee to Time Safari Inc. to go hunting dinosaurs who would’ve died in a few minutes. This means they don’t alter history at all. But they make a horrible, time stream altering mistake that they were told never, ever to make: don’t get off the marked path. One does and kills a a butterfly and changes the stream forever.  

Is Bradbury the origin of the oft told meteorological story about a butterfly flapping it’s wings in China altering weather conditions around the world?  

END SPOILER ALERT (WHO OF YOU COULD NOT HAVE SEEN IT?)

Unlike the latter film with Ben Kingsley which of course was padded out and critics like Roger Ebert saying that it was really bad and yes it gets a eighteen percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes, I thought it did a more than just credible job of presenting Bradbury’s story. Given the low budget nature of the series, it carried off the SFX rather well. But then I thought the entire series was quite excellent.

The major streaming services carrying it are Amazon and Peacock. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 11, 1902 Jack Binder. Thrilling Wonder Stories in their October 1938 issue published his article, “If Science Reached the Earth’s Core”, where the first known use of the phrase “zero gravity” is known to happen. In the early Forties, he was an artist for Fawcett, Lev Gleason, and Timely Comics. During these years, he created the Golden Age character Daredevil which is not the Marvel Daredevil though he did work with Stan Lee where they co-created The Destroyer at Timely Comics. (Died 1986.)
  • Born August 11, 1932 Chester Anderson. New Wave novelist and poet. He wrote The Butterfly Kid, the first part of the Greenwich Village trilogy. It was nominated for a Hugo Award at BayCon. He wrote one other genre novel, Ten Years to Doomsday, with Michael Kurland. Not even genre adjacent, but he edited a few issues Crawdaddy! in the late Sixties. (Died 1991.)
  • Born August 11, 1944 Ian McDiarmid, 78. Star Wars film franchise including an uncredited appearance in The Empire Strikes Back, other genre appearances in DragonslayerThe Awakening (a mummies horror film with Charlton Heston), The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles series and reprising his SW role in the animated Star Wars Rebels series.
  • Born August 11, 1959 Alan Rodgers. Author of Bone Music, a truly great take on the Robert Johnson myth. His “The Boy Who Came Back From the Dead” novelette won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction, and was nominated for a World Fantasy Award, and he was editor of Night Cry in the mid Eighties. Bone Music is his only work available from the usual suspects. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 11, 1961 Susan M. Garrett. She was a well-known and much liked writer, editor and publisher in many fandoms, but especially the Forever Knight community. (She also was active in Doctor Who and The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne fandoms. And no, I had no idea that the latter had a fandom given its short longevity.) She is perhaps best known for being invited to write a Forever Knight tie-in novel, Intimations of Mortality. (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 11, 1962 Brian Azzarello, 60. Comic book writer. First known crime series 100 Bullets, published by Vertigo. Writer of DC’s relaunched Wonder Woman series several years back. One of the writers in the Before Watchmen limited series. Co-writer with Frank Miller of the sequel to The Dark Knight Returns, The Dark Knight III: The Master Race.
  • Born August 11, 1964 Jim Lee, 58. Korean American comic-book artist, writer, editor, and publisher. Co-founder of Images Comics, now senior management at DC though he started at Marvel. Known for work on Uncanny X-MenPunisherBatmanSuperman and WildC.A.T.s.
  • Born August 11, 1965 Viola Davis, 57. Amanda ‘The Wall’ Waller in the first Suicide Squad film, and back again in The Suicide Squad; also appeared in The Andromeda Strain miniseries (2008), Threshold and Century City series, and the Solaris film.
  • Born August 11, 1976 Will Friedle, 46. Largely known as an actor with extensive genre voice work: Terry McGinnis aka the new Batman in Batman Beyond which Warner Animation now calls Batman of the Future, Peter Quill in The Guardians Of The Galaxy, and Kid Flash in Teen Titans Go! to name but a few of his roles.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side shows where prelates go when they’re not looking at the Sistine Ceiling.

(11) SUPERHERO CREATOR. The BBC’s Outlook program reports on an artist who is “Creating a Puerto Rican superhero to save the world” at BBC Sounds.

Puerto Rican Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez grew up in the Bronx, New York. By the time he was 18 years old he’d lived in 22 different places, but one constant in his life was his love of comic books. Edgardo was a natural artist and storyteller and even at primary school he would write stories for the other children. He is now a highly successful graphic novelist and has created a series based on a female Puerto Rican superhero called La Borinqueña. Her mission? To fight for social justice and save the world from climate change. 

(12) CENSORING AN ANTI-CENSORSHIP ICON. In the summer “Banned Books” issue of Reason​, “’Fahrenheit 451′ Was Once Sanitized for Public Schools” discusses the school edition of Fahrenheit 451.

…Starting in 1967, publisher Ballantine Books produced a second version of the text for consumption by high schoolers, omitting supposedly offensive curse words and a reference to a drunk. This version became known as the “Bal-Hi” edition, for Ballantine High School, and for several years it was available concurrently with the original text. In 1973, Ballantine began publishing only the Bal-Hi version, and it continued doing so until Bradbury, who had not consented to the publication change, complained in 1979….

(13) ESCAPE THE PODIUM. Ted Gioia shares “My 10 Rules for Public Speaking” and most of them make a lot of sense. This one is not quite as intuitive to me as the others, so I’m repeating it here to help keep it in mind:

(4) Remember That the Audience Always Wants You to Succeed:

I’ve never met anyone who went to an event hoping to be bored and disappointed. The audience really, really wants you to succeed, and if you give them even the slightest chance at having a good time, they will cheer you on. 

Just understanding this takes away much of the fear of public speaking. Even better, this desire for success is contagious—and in both directions: When you radiate enjoyment, the audience feels it too. When the audience is having a good time, you do as well.

That’s a virtuous circle, and you want you get into it as soon as possible. You should try to find a way of signalling within your first minute in front of an audience that everyone will have a good time today. Often you will even see the relief on the faces of people in the crowd in that moment when they realize that your talk won’t be a kind of punishment or chastisement. They will be grateful—and you will be too.

(14) S. KOREAN MOON PROBE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Reported in this week’s Nature journal, by this time next week, South Korea’s first lunar probe will be on its way to the Moon. The probe, Danuri, which means ‘enjoy the Moon’, should arrive at its destination by mid-December and orbit for a year…  Scientists in South Korea say the mission will pave the way for the country’s more ambitious plans to land on the Moon by 2030. Success for Danuri will secure future planetary exploration. “South Korea set for first Moon mission”.

(15) TIME TO CONSIDER HUMAN EXTINCTION. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has posted “Climate Endgame: Exploring catastrophic climate change scenarios”.

Scientists are usually rather measured in their proclamations even if they do think outside of the box. However, when it comes to climate change, the scientific community has not considered the ultra-extreme situation, a possible extinction level threat.

Now, https://www.pnas.org/doi/epdf/10.1073/pnas.2108146119  research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) calls for the need to explore catastrophic climate scenarios. The proposed agenda covers four main questions: 1) What is the potential for climate change to drive mass extinction events? 2) What are the mechanisms that could result in human mass mortality and morbidity? 3)What are human societies’ vulnerabilities to climate-triggered risk cascades, such as from conflict, political instability, and systemic financial risk? 4) How can these multiple strands of evidence—together with other global dangers—be usefully synthesized into an“integrated catastrophe assessment”? It is time for the scientific community to grapple with the challenge of better understanding catastrophic climate change…

(16) MORE MORTAL. Warner Bros. dropped the trailer for Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Andrew Porter.] “Goldilocks (Sci-Fi Short Film by Blake Simon)” on YouTube.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/5/22 I Have Pixeled The Scrolls That Were In The File, And Which You Were Probably Saving For Worldcon

(1) FREE COMIC BOOK DAY DRAWS NEAR. May 7 is Free Comic Book Day, a single day when participating comic book specialty shops across North America and around the world give away comic books to anyone who comes in. Check out the Free Comic Book Day Catalog and see what’s available. Different shops have policies on how many free comics you can receive, but you will receive at least one free comic if you enter a participating shop location. Use the Store Locator tool to find the shop near you.

(2) TAFF DELEGATE COMING HOME. Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate Michael “Orange Mike” Lowrey made it through the Covid protocol and is scheduled to return to the U.S. from the U.K. tomorrow.

(3) FLAME ON. The House of the Dragon official teaser trailer is live.

History does not remember blood. It remembers names. August 21.

HBO also released these character posters.

(4) OPERATION FANTAST LEGACY BUSINESS ENDING. [Item by Andrew Porter.] Susie Haynes, owner of Fantast Three, will close the business after importing and distributing the July/August issues of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science FictionAnalog SF, and Asimov’s SF, the US SF magazines she imports. She has already sold off her remaining stock of science fiction books.

It was originally begun as “Operation Fantast” by British SF fan Ken Slater, who played a major role in restarting British science fiction fandom after World War II. 

He created Operation Fantast to get around British post-WW II import and currency restrictions. This was turned into the bookseller Fantast (Medway) Ltd. in 1955. When Slater died in 2008 his daughter took over the business. Between them, the business had existed for 75 years.

(5) OVERCOMER HONORED. The American Library Association announces: “Martha Hickson receives the 2022 Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity”. The award was established in 2014 by the American Library Association in partnership with Snicket series author Daniel Handler. The prize, which is co-administered by ALA’s Governance Office and the Office for Intellectual Freedom, annually recognizes and honors a librarian who has faced adversity with integrity and dignity intact. The prize is $10,000, a certificate and “an odd, symbolic object.” 

Martha Hickson, media specialist at North Hunterdon High School in Annandale, New Jersey, has been selected as the recipient of the 2022 Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity. Daniel Handler, also known as Lemony Snicket, will present Hickson with the award—a cash prize and an object from Handler’s private collection—during the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference & Exhibition on Sunday, June 26, 2022 in Washington DC.

There has been no shortage of high-profile censorship challenges infesting school libraries across the United States since students returned from pandemic confinement in the Fall of 2021, but it was a fight that Hickson had already been fighting, tooth and nail. In fact, she has persevered through several book challenges since she began as a high school librarian in 2005. In 2021, however, the battle reached a new peak.

When a community group attended the Board of Education (BOE) meeting and demanded that two award-winning books with LGBTQ+ themes—Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison (and later three additional LGBTQ+ titles)—be pulled from the library shelves, their allegations not only attacked the books but Hickson herself, labeling her by name as a pornographer and pedophile for providing children with access to the titles in question. In the following weeks, she endured personal attacks from the community, hate mail, threats, nuisance vandalism, and even questions about her judgment and integrity from her administration. In fact, the open adversity became so pervasive and extreme that her blood pressure and anxiety rose to the dangerous point where her physician removed her from her workplace.

Despite this adversity, however, Hickson persisted and persevered in her unwavering defense of her students’ right to intellectual freedom and right to read, including galvanizing a group of community allies to attend the BOE meetings, gathering testimonies from LGBTQ+ students, recruiting local author David Levithan to write a statement of support, and even consulting and offering advice on censorship battles to the library community at large. At the January BOE meeting, the resolution to ban the five books in question was effectively voted down, and all challenged books remain proudly on the North Hunterdon High School library shelf….

(6) BOGUS OFFERS. The Bookseller warns “Fraudster impersonates HarperCollins editorial director and offers book contracts”.

A fraudster has been impersonating a HarperCollins editorial director and sending out messages offering book contracts.  

Phoebe Morgan, editorial director at HarperFiction, revealed on Twitter that someone has been using a fake HarperCollins account and claiming to be her. She said the impersonator has been using her photo and background information, but could be identified as a fraud by the email address, which replaced the two “l’ letters in HarperCollins with the number “1”.  

She tweeted: “If someone says they’re a crime editor wanting to offer a contract please flag as suspicious. HC would never contact you in that way”. 

The tactic is similar to the one said to be used by Filippo Bernardini, a former rights assistant at S&S UK who was arrested and charged by the FBI with allegedly stealing hundreds of book manuscripts over several years….  

(7) STREET SMARTS. “’Kimmel’ Tests People On ‘Star Wars’ vs. U.S. History And You Know What Happened”HuffPost sets the frame:

Kimmel’s crew asked random people on Hollywood Boulevard questions about the space opera franchise and U.S. history.

(8) HAVE YOU RED? [Item by Joey Eschrich.] On June 1, Future Tense is cohosting the latest in our Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club series, discussing All Systems Red by Martha Wells. Here are the details. I should note that the author won’t be joining us—for this book club series, we want to focus on discussion and deliberation, rather than on getting the behind-the-scenes. RSVP here.

The novel explores a spacefaring future in which corporate-driven exploratory missions rely heavily on security androids. In Wells’ engaging – at times funny – tale, one such android hacks its own system to attain more autonomy from the humans he is accompanying. The result is a thought-provoking inquiry into the evolving nature of potential human-robot relations.

Join Future Tense and Issues in Science and Technology at 6pm ET on Wednesday, June 1 to discuss the novel and its real-world implications. The book club will feature breakout rooms (they’re fun and stress-free, we promise) where we can all compare notes and share reactions, even if we didn’t finish the book (though we picked a short one this time!).

(9) AND BEYOND. This promo for Lightyear dropped today.

(10) TINTIN CREATOR. Nicholas Whyte discusses “Hergé, Son of Tintin, by Benoît Peeters” at From the Heart of Europe.

…Like all good Belgian comics fans, I’m fascinated by the adventures of Tintin and by their creator. This is a really interesting biographical study, by a writer who met Hergé an interviewed him a couple of times, and has now lived long enough to absorb the mass of critical commentary on Hergé’s work that has emerged over the decades.

I learned a lot from it. In particular, I learned that it’s very difficult to navigate exactly how close Hergé came to collaboration with the occupying Germans during the war…

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1992 [By Cat Eldridge.] Forever Knight, a vampire detective series, premiered thirty years ago, and concluded with the third-season finale just over three years later. This series was filmed and set in Toronto. 

It was created by Barney Cohen who wrote Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, and James D. Parriott, who was responsible for Misfits of Science.

It starred Geraint Wyn Davies, Catherine Disher, Nigel Bennett, Ben Bass, Deborah Duchêne and Blu Mankuma. It is considered the predecessor to such series as Angel

It managed in its short span to run on CBS (the first season), first-run syndication (the second season) and the USA Network (the third and final season). 

So what was its reception? Well the Canadian TV industry loved it but I suspect that was because it was providing a lot of jobs. Seriously it wasn’t for the quality of the scripts. I watched it enough to see that it was really badly written. Forever Knight was nominated for thirteen industry Gemini Awards, and won once in 1996. 

It was as one reviewer at the time noted a soap opera: “The acting in this one is decent but there was more time than I can count where I was rolling my eyes by how much the cast was hamming it up. The characters are fun but they often slip away into the cliched void of day time soaps.” 

I don’t think it is streaming anywhere currently.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 5, 1908 Pat Frank. Author of Alas, Babylon who also wrote a 160-page non-fiction book, How To Survive the H Bomb And Why (1962). (Insert irony here if you want.) Forbidden Area, another novel, he wrote, was adapted by Rod Serling for the 1957 debut episode of Playhouse 90. (Died 1964.)
  • Born May 5, 1922 Joseph Stefano. Screenwriter who adapted Bloch’s novel as the script for Hitchcock’s Psycho. He was also a producer for the first season of Outer Limits and wrote a total of twelve episodes. He also the screenwriter for the very horrifying Eye of The Cat. He wrote Next Generation’s “Skin of Evil” episode. And he was producer on the original Swamp Thing. (Died 2006.)
  • Born May 5, 1942 Lee Killough, 80. Author of two series, the Brill and Maxwell series which I read a very long time ago and remember immensely enjoying, and the Bloodwalk series which doesn’t ring even a faint bell. I see she’s written a number of stand-alone novels as well – who’s read deeply of her? Her only Hugo nomination was at Aussiecon Two for her short story, “Symphony for a Lost Traveler”.  And in the early Eighties, she wrote an interesting essay called “Checking On Culture: A Checklist for Culture Building”. Who’s read it? 
  • Born May 5, 1943 Michael Palin, 79. Monty Python of course. I’ll single him out for writing the BFA-winning Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life and co-writing the BSFA-winning Time Bandits with Terry Gilliam. He and the rest of the troupe were Hugo finalists in 1976 for Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And it might be at least genre adjacent, so I’m going to single him out for being in A Fish Called Wanda for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. 
  • Born May 5, 1944 John Rhys-Davies, 78. He’s known for his portrayal of Gimli and the voice of Treebeard in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, General Leonid Pushkin in The Living Daylights, King Richard I in Robin of Sherwood, Professor Maximillian Arturo in Sliders, a most excellent Hades in the animated Justice League Unlimted series, Hades in Justice League and Sallah in the Indiana Jones films. Oh, and voicing Macbeth in the exemplary Gargoyles animated series too. He’s getting his action figure shortly of Macbeth from NECA! 
  • Born May 5, 1957 Richard E. Grant, 64. He first shows up in our world as Giles Redferne in Warlock, begore going on to be Jack Seward in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. On a lighter note, he’s Frederick Sackville-Bagg in The Little Vampire, and the voice of Lord Barkis Bittern in Corpse Bride. He breaks into the MCU as Xander Rice in Logan, and the Star Wars universe by being Allegiant General Enric Pryde in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Now I had forgotten that he’s in the Whoverse twice, once seriously and once very not. The first appearance was the latter as he in Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death as The Conceited Doctor. And then he plays the Great Intelligence in three episodes of Doctor Who.
  • Born May 5, 1979 Catherynne Valente, 43. I personally think her best work is The Orphan’s Tales which The Night Garden got Otherwise and Mythopoeic Awards, while the second work, In The Cities of Coin and Spice, garnered the latter Award as well. Palimpsest which is one weird novel picked up, not at all surprisingly a Lambda and was nominated for a Hugo at Aussiecon 4. The first novel in the incredibly neat Fairyland series, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, picked up a coveted Norton. (Well I think it’s coveted.) Next up is “Fade to White,” novelette nominated for a Hugo at LoneStarCon 3, and a favorite of mine, the “Six-Gun Snow White” novella, was a nominee at LonCon 3. Let’s finish by noting that she was part of SF Squeecast which won two Hugos, the first at Chicon 7 then at LoneStarCon 3. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Garfield requires your imagination to fill in the horrific vision.
  • The Argyle Sweater shows a monster with dietary restrictions.
  • Tom Gauld reveals little-known-facts about a well-known fantasy series.

(14) IF YOU HAVE MONEY TO BURN. “Fahrenheit 451 Leads AntiquarianAuctions.com Sale” reports Fine Books & Collections. This is the fireproof edition. Place your bid at AntiquarianAuctions.com through May 11.

…The sale starts with flourish: lot 1 is the best available copy of the signed limited edition of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (NY: 1953), bound in ‘Johns-Manville Quinterra an asbestos material with exceptional resistance to pyrolysis’ it is estimated at $13000 to 18000, but has a reserve at just $10,000. This is accompanied by 14 other lots of similar works, including 2 others from Bradbury (Dark Carnival [Sauk City: Arkham, 1947], and an excellent copy of the 1st paperback edition of 451 [NY: Ballantine; 1953]).

(15) COOL ANIMATED COMPILATION. View the “Top 100 3D Renders from the Internet’s Biggest CG Challenge” at Infinite Journeys.

During February 2022, I challenged 3D artists with the Infinite Journeys 3D challenge, where I provided artists with a simple animation of a moving “vehicle” and they built out their own customs scenes. Of the 2,448 entires, the top 100 were chosen for this montage, and 5 of them walked away with insane prizes from Maxon, Rokoko, Camp Mograph, Wacom, Looking Glass Factory, and mograph.com.

(16) DOES CRIME PAY? At Nerds of a Feather, Roseanna Pendlebury’s “Microreview [Book]: Book of Night by Holly Black” includes some criticisms but overall gives strong reasons to add this book to our TBR piles.

… The story follows Charlie Hall, a reformed con artist and thief who used to work adjacent to the shady (ha) world of the gloamists, who work magic on shadows, but she’s now trying to keep on the straight and narrow. She’s working a normal job bartending at a dive bar, dating a reliable boyfriend about whom she’s having some doubts and trying to help her little sister get into college. Obviously, this doesn’t last, and she gets pulled back into the world she tried to leave behind. Much like Black’s YA books, the plotting isn’t desperately original, but that’s also not what it’s aiming for, really.

What it is aiming for, and succeeds at, is a fun, dark, enthralling bit of world building, something that the reader can immediately get sucked into and get the feel of, while still with plenty of mileage to build throughout the story. And her gloamists are absolutely that. There’s sexy crime – daring heists of secret magical books – as well as secrecy, hidden arts, a potential pedigree stretching way back into history – the secret magical tomes to be stolen have to come from somewhere, right? – and plenty of scope for there being downtrodden people who can use their wits to outfox the powerful….

(17) BE PREPARED. And Paul Weimer, in “Centireview: Inheritors of Power by Juliette Wade”, advises Nerds of a Feather readers that to really enjoy this third novel in the author’s series they ought to start at book one:

…That all said, however, as much as Wade can prepare a reader new to the world to the complexities of the Varin and their very alien human society, this is a novel that really relies on knowledge of the previous two books, both on a high worldbuilding and also on a character level to really succeed. With the basis of that two novels, though, it is clear to me here, that this is a rich and deep and complex story that I get the feeling Wade has wanted to tell from the beginning, and from this point. 

There is a theory in writing that one of the keys to writing any work of fiction is to know where the story begins and to start the story at that point,. In some ways, the rich story of this novel, of which I will speak shortly, seems to be the story that Wade has wanted to tell since the beginning of Mazes of Power. In Wade’s case, however, and for the readers, this story only really can work as a story if you have the background of the first two novels in order to get the full force and impact of what happens here….

(18) CATCH AND RELEASE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] “A helicopter caught and released a rocket this week” and Popular Science explains why. (Video here briefly shows the linkup around 52:30.)

…“At 6,500 ft, Rocket Lab’s Sikorsky S-92 helicopter rendezvoused with the returning stage and used a hook on a long line to capture the parachute line,” Rocket Lab said in a release. “After the catch, the helicopter pilot detected different load characteristics than previously experienced in testing and offloaded the stage for a successful splashdown.”

For this specific launch, the catch ended up being more of a catch-and-release, but that attempt still went an important way to demonstrating the viability of the option. Knowing that the release worked—that the helicopter crew was able to snag the rocket and then determine they needed to jettison the booster—is a key part of proving viability. A method that involves helicopters but jeopardizes them pairs reusability with risk to the human crew….

(19) FLY ME TO THE MOON. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Well, OK, not to the Moon. Not even to low Earth orbit. But almost 5 miles is still fairly high. For the first time, SpinLaunch put a camera onboard one of the projectiles for their suborbital centrifugal launch test platform. Choosing a camera for the payload was probably a good idea, since I don’t think even fruit flies would have enjoyed the ride.

Gizmodo introduces a “Dizzying Video Shows What It’s Like to Get Shot Out of a Centrifuge at 1,000 MPH”:

…Such tests are becoming routine for SpinLaunch, with the first demonstration of the kinetic launch system occurring last October. This time, however, the company did something new by strapping a camera, or “optical payload,” onto the 10-foot-long (3-meter) projectile.

Footage from the onboard camera shows the projectile hurtling upwards from the kinetic launch system at speeds in excess of 1,000 miles per hour (1,600 kilometers per hour). The flight lasted for 82 seconds, during which time the test vehicle reached an altitude of over 25,000 feet (7,620 meters), according to David Wrenn, vice president of technology at SpinLaunch….

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Harry Potter and the Goblet of fire Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says the fourth Harry Potter film brings back many familiar plot points, including the speech from Dumbledore about the many ways Hgwarts students can die.  The producer,being told of a test where several characters nearly drown, says “wizards are not OK people.”  Trivia lovers will note this film was Robert Pattinson’s debut.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Jennifer Hawthorne, Lise Andreasen, Joey Eschrich, 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 Danny Sichel.]

The Next Bradbury Roundup

Is due in five…four…three….

(1) MEET THE MARTIANS. Nicholas Whyte’s quick notes about “The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury” begin “Gosh. I had forgotten quite how good this is.”

(2) FREE RANGE MARS STORIES. But wait, there are more! In Bradbury 100 episode 30 Phil Nichols takes up “Bradbury’s OTHER Mars Stories”.

This episode looks at Ray Bradbury’s OTHER Martian stories, stories about Mars and Martians which are NOT included in his THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES.

I review each of the un-chronicled martian tales, and figure out where they fit into the mythos of The Martian Chronicles. Be ready for some surprises!

(3) COMPARE AND CONTRAST. YouTuber Robert Bacon analyzes “A Twilight Zone Episode Turned Into A Kids Movie”.

The Electric Grandmother is a made for TV movie that was based on a short story by Ray Bradbury that itself was based on a Twilight Zone episode that Bradbury wrote. The film was originally aired on NBC, but most people saw it when it was distributed to classrooms. No idea why this was considered educational, but I don’t think anyone cared. The Electric Grandmother (1982) Director: Noel Black Writer: Ray Bradbury Starring: Maureen Stapleton, Edward Herrmann, and Paul Benedict Plot: A trio of children and their father, get a very special robot grandmother to assist them.

(4) THE MELODY LINGERS ON. Screen Rant’s Spencer Bollettieri finds that Disney’s animated hit resonates with a Bradbury classic: “Encanto: How Mirabel’s Powers Struggle Mirrors A 76-Year-Old Fantasy Story”.

Encanto is a beloved tale of an enchanted family with supernatural power, but it’s not a new one; it actually mirrors a story originally written 76 years ago by late horror author Ray Bradbury. Both are timeless tales about what it means to be human in an extraordinary family and the drama they face when confronted with collapse. Although Bradbury claimed he was unable to predict the future, he somehow reflected it in ways even the Madrigals couldn’t foresee.

In 1946 Ray Bradbury first chronicled the story of the Elliott family, a clan of gothic creatures who adopted a human boy named Timothy, who they found strange. Inspired by Bradbury’s real-life experiences, he wrote a 50-year collection of short stories compiled into a single narrative titled From the Dust Returned. Although not as recognized as gothic icons such as The Addams Family, many considered it a beautifully macabre novel and found the Elliott family resonated with them….

(5) WHEN BRADBURY WAS 89. Kenneth Strange says “You’ll Never Guess Who Kissed Me” – but I will bet you can.

..During the signing, I handed my book to Ray Bradbury but decided to crouch like a baseball catcher so I could whisper a word to him at eye level. As he scribbled his name in the book and closed it, I leaned in and opened my heart, “Mr. Bradbury. Many years ago I discovered you in a small library in Brooklyn, New York. Your books made such a difference in my life…thank you for that.” His eyes began to water and I suppose mine did as well. A spontaneous gesture from this playful man of “gentle humanity” followed as he pulled me toward him and kissed me on the cheek.

I’m a lucky man. Some might prefer being kissed by Bo Derek. Not me….

Ray Bradbury’s 89th Birthday Cake. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

(6) DRINK UP. For a short time, Mary Robinette Kowal is offering a limited edition Bradbury Base mug for all new and existing subscribers at $25 or above to her Patreon.

(7) CENTER FOR RAY BRADBURY STUDIES. There was a changing of the guard last year.

Former Director Dr. Jonathan R. Eller retired on February 1, 2021 and Dr. Jason Aukerman stepped into the role. During his career at IUPUI, Dr. Eller co-founded the Bradbury Center with the late Dr. William Touponce, became a Chancellor’s Professor of English, and touched countless lives through his work as a teacher and scholar. Without Dr. Eller, there would be no Bradbury Center, and even though he is now retired, Dr. Eller and Debi Eller maintain a close relationship with Center staff, serving as volunteers, consultants, and friends. We thank the Ellers for their passionate leadership and continued support!

(8) FOURTH ANNUAL WRITER’S LECTURE. The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies has posted a video of the 2021 Ray Bradbury Visiting Writer’s Lecture With Maurice Broaddus presented this past November.

Maurice Broaddus is the resident Afrofuturist at the Kheprw Institute and librarian at the Oaks Academy Middle School. His work has appeared in places like Lightspeed Magazine, Black Panther: Tales from Wakanda, Asimov’s, Magazine of F&SF, and Uncanny Magazine, with some of his stories having been collected in The Voices of Martyrs. He’s also an editor at Apex Magazine!

(9) REASONS TO READ. Amit Majmudar promotes Ray Bradbury: Novels & Story Cycles, the Library of America’s inaugural Bradbury volume. “Ray Bradbury: Prophetic visionary, ‘word-wizard,’ and next-door neighbor”.

Mention Ray Bradbury, I’ve found, and faces light up. Strangers reach out to you on Twitter with testimonials. A voice changes on the phone, as if you just mentioned a childhood best friend. This is something beyond fondness and beyond admiration. The name conjures up poignant wonder; the name exhilarates the imagination. No one seems to be just “familiar with his work.” You’ve either never read him, or you love him.

 One place to read his best work (his stories are as innumerably luminous as stars) is in Library of America’s new omnibus, which contains The Martian ChroniclesFahrenheit 451Dandelion Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes

(10) PEDALING THE COLLECTION. Anne Farr Hardin spent most of her life collecting Bradbury books, and corresponding with him, too – and all of it will be preserved: “Ray Bradbury collection finds new home at the University of South Carolina” reports the Greenville Journal.

…The exhibit features a full case on Bradbury’s most famous novel, “Fahrenheit 451,” a couple of cases exploring the author’s lifelong fascination with the planet Mars and a representative range of the collection’s other holdings. Taken together, they provide an intriguing window on 20th-century book and periodical publishing, particularly in the genres of fantasy and science fiction.

But what’s on display is just a hint of the many treasures tucked into Hardin’s vast collection, which also chronicles a decades-long correspondence and friendship Hardin enjoyed with the famous writer. 

Bradbury devotees who take the time to dive into the holdings will discover every edition of classics like “Fahrenheit 451,” “The Martian Chronicles” and “Dandelion Wine”plus vividly illustrated mid-century pulps like “Amazing Stories” and “Weird Tales,” mainstream magazines or “slicks” like “Mademoiselle,” “McCall’s” and “Good Housekeeping,” plus small-run fanzines predating the author’s international fame and acclaim.

In other words, it’s about as complete as complete gets — the collection even includes one of Bradbury’s bicycles — and it’s all the result of Hardin’s tireless literary sleuthing, which stretches back more than four decades….

(11) GOLDEN TONES. From LeVar Burton Reads, “’The Great Wide World Over There’ by Ray Bradbury”.

A visitor’s arrival delivers both wonder and heartache to a rural community. This story appears in Ray Bradbury’s collection THE GOLDEN APPLES OF THE SUN. Thanks to our presenting sponsor Audible. 

(12) HOT NUMBER. Extra Credits episode “Fahrenheit 451 – Dystopias and Apocalypses” can be viewed on YouTube.

Ray Bradbury not only cautions against censorship (the primary theme of Fahrenheit 451), but offers interesting commentary on who censors works at all, and why humans do it anyway.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for these links.]

Pixel Scroll 11/14/21 Tension, Apprehension, And Pixellation Have Begun

(1) PLEASE STAND BY. File 770 was repeatedly offline for hours today. According to my ISP’s customer support, their outage report said “that the host machine the VPS is on became unresponsive and needed to be restarted.” That fix took effect about midday locally.

However, my home internet service always craps out several times a day, so it’s been a challenge to have access to download material for the Scroll when I could also edit things on the blog. Today’s Scroll, therefore, is a bit shorter than it would be if that time could have been used productively.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled pixels.  

(2) THE DAYS DWINDLE DOWN TO A PRECIOUS FEW. DisCon III asks: Have you made your choices for the 2021 Hugo Awards? There’s still time!

The deadline for voting for the Hugo Awards is November 19, 2021, 23:59 Pacific Standard Time (November 20th at 02:59 Eastern Standard Time, 07:59 Greenwich Mean Time, and 20:59 New Zealand Daylight Time).

You must be a member to vote. Vote online at members.discon3.org or use a paper ballot (but note that paper ballots must be received by DisCon III no later than the voting deadline.)

(3) A TRANS-ATLANTIC PHONE CALL, HURRAH! Bill Burns anticipates he’ll be an on-air expert commentator in the “Cable Across the Sea” episode of the new (USA) History Channel series “The Engineering That Built the World”. He says, “I did a three-hour video studio interview with the production team a couple of months ago.”

The episode is on Cyrus Field and the first Atlantic cables, and the producers also used material from Bill’s website History of the Atlantic Cable & Submarine Telegraphy.

(4) STAND BY TO LAUNCH. Cat Rambo’s book You Sexy Thing comes out from Tor Macmillan on November 16. The elevator pitch is “Farscape meets the Great British Bake-off.”

It’s the story of a band of former mercenaries who’ve opened a restaurant on a space station and are doing well, so well that a critic may be about to bestow a coveted Nikkelin Orb on the restaurant.Then a mysterious package arrives, things start exploding, and they have to steal a ship to escape. But that ship’s intelligent, and it’s not so sure it wants to be stolen.

Pre-orders can be taken any number of places, including Powell’s, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Audible.

There’s plenty of places to leave reviews, and if you do it on GoodReads, you can enter the giveaway for a special copy with an enamel pin here.

There are a lot of online events where you can catch up with Cat Rambo this week:

Cat will also be appearing live at Emerald City ComicCon in Seattle and Writers with Drinks in San Francisco in December.

(5) UNIONIZING AMONG BOOKSTORE EMPLOYEES. “Pandemic sparks union activity where it was rare: Bookstores” – the Brooklyn Eagle has the story.

Britta Larson, a shift leader at Half Price Books in Roseville, Minnesota, has been with the store for nearly 12 years but only recently thought about whether she wanted to join a union.

“With the pandemic going on, we all were just weary of the constant dismissals we got when we raised concerns about staffing and workload to upper management,” said Larson, noting that the staff had been reduced when the store shut down for a time and was “stretched extremely thin” once it opened again.

“Before the pandemic, I’d say we would have kind of just thought ‘Things aren’t great’ because it was all we had ever known. The pandemic forced us to do some things differently and we learned from that.”

…“I think COVID-19 was a rude awakening for bookstore workers, and really anyone who works with the public,” says Owen Hill, a buyer at Moe’s Books in Berkeley, California, which unionized earlier this year. “We were given no say regarding safe working conditions, even though we were risking our health by showing up for work. We had to organize in order to be a part of the conversation around worker safety.”…

(6) MAYER OBIT. Petra Mayer, a books editor on NPR’s Culture desk, died unexpectedly November 13 in a Maryland hospital. She was a fan of sf and comics, and not shy about letting her love of the genres into her work.  NPR’s obituary makes that clear – here are a few quotes.

…Mayer was a proud nerd with a penchant for science fiction, comics and cats, said fellow books editor Meghan Sullivan.

She shared those passions with readers and listeners through her reviews of sci-fi, fantasy, romance, thrillers and comics, her trusty on-the-scene reporting at Comic-Con, and her contributions to the Book Concierge, NPR’s annual literary-recommendation tool. She brought her zeal to the guest chair on occasional Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast episodes.

Prior to joining the NPR Books team in 2012, she was an associate producer and director for All Things Considered on weekends, and also spent time as a production assistant for Morning Edition and Weekend Edition Saturday.

…”She was the best and rarest species of nerd, whose enthusiasm was eager and sincere and open and inviting,” tweeted Glen Weldon, an NPR culture critic and a host of the network’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. “She wanted you to love the stuff she loved, and supplied you hard incontrovertible evidence to support her thesis.”Mayer traced her nerd-dom back to George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, which she happened to read in 1984 when she was 9 years old.

“My dad handed me his old college copy of the book and said, ‘Here, I think you’re ready to read this,’ ” she said in a 2018 “Faces of NPR” interview. “I was hooked, and started reading all the dystopia I could get my hands on, and the rest is history.”…

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1966 — Fifty-five years ago, the Fahrenheit 451 film premiered. Based on Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 novel that has since picked a Retro Hugo at Noreascon 4, it was directed by directed by François Truffaut. The screenplay by Jean-Louis Richard off a story that he wrote with the director. It starred Julie Christie, Anton Diffring, Oskar Werner, and Cyril Cusack. It was produced by Lewis M. Allen who was has previously done The Lord of The Flies. Though critics at the time really, really didn’t like with some claiming that Julie Christie couldn’t act and Truffaut couldn’t direct, Bradbury liked the film mostly and time has shown that both later critics and audiences like it. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a rather good seventy-two percent rating. It wasn’t a box office success making only a million dollars combined in the United States and France against its very small one point five million budget. A reboot was made three years ago, which gets a twenty-three percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 14, 1907 Astrid Lindgren. Creator of the Pippi Longstocking series and, at least in the States, lesser known Emil i LönnebergaKarlsson-on-the-Roof, and the Six Bullerby Children series as well. In January 2017, she was calculated to be the world’s 18th most translated author, and the fourth most translated children’s writer after Enid Blyton, H. C. Andersen and the Brothers Grimm.  There have been at least forty video adaptations of her works over the decades mostly in Swedish but Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter was an animated series in Japan recently.  (Died 2002.)
  • Born November 14, 1950 Elliot S. Maggin, 71. A writer for DC Comics during the Bronze and early Modern ages of comics where he helped shaped the Superman character. Most of his work was on Action Comics and Superman titlesthough he did extensive work elsewhere including, of course, on the Batman titles.
  • Born November 14, 1951 Beth Meacham, 70. In 1984, she became an editor for Tor Books, where she rose to the position of editor-in-chief. After her 1989 move to the west coast, she continued working for Tor as an executive editor which she just retired from.  She does have one novel, co-written with Tappan King, entitled Nightshade Book One: Terror, Inc. and a handful of short fiction.  At L.A. Con II, A Reader’s Guide to Fantasy that she co-wrote wrote Michael Franklin and Baird Searles was nominated for a Hugo. And she was nominated on her own for a number of Hugos for Best Editor Long Form.
  • Born November 14, 1959 Paul McGann, 62. Yes, he only did one film as the eighth incarnation of the Doctor in the 1996 Doctor Who television film but that role he has reprised in more than eighty Big Finish audio dramas and the 2013 short film entitled “The Night of the Doctor”. Other genre appearances include The Pit and the Pendulum: A Study in TortureAlien 3, the excellent FairyTale: A True StoryQueen of the Damned and Lesbian Vampire Killers
  • Born November 14, 1961 D. B. Sweeney, 60. Actor who’s been lead cast in two genre series, neither of which lasted very long. The first was as Chance Harper in Strange Luck that lasted but seventeen episodes; the second was as Mike Pinocchio in Harsh Realm that last an even briefer nine episodes. He also had roles in Tales from The CryptThe Outer LimitsJerichoLeverage and The Legend of Korra.
  • Born November 14, 1963 Cat Rambo, 58. All around great person. Really. Recently finished up a term as SFWA President.  She was editor of Fantasy Magazine for four years which earned her a 2012 World Fantasy Special Award: Non-Professional nomination. A story of hers, “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain”, was a Nebula Award finalist.  Her first novel, Beasts of Tabat, is the beginning of what I suspect will be an impressive fantasy quartet. Hearts Of Tabat came this year.  She also writes amazing short fiction as well.  The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers is her long-standing school for writers that provides her excellent assistance in learning proper writing skills both live and on demand as well. You can get details here.  Her latest, You Sexy Thing, is just out, and I’m looking forward to listening to it starting in a few days! 
  • Born November 14, 1969 Daniel Abraham, 53. Co-author with Ty Franck of The Expanse series which won a Hugo at CoNZealand. Under the pseudonym M. L. N. Hanover, he is the author of the Black Sun’s Daughter urban fantasy series.  Abraham collaborated with George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois to write the Hunter’s Run. A frequent collaborator of Martin, Abraham adapted several of Martin’s works into comic books and graphic novels, such as A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel, and has contributed to Wild Cards anthologies. By himself, he picked up a Hugo nomination at Denvention 3 for his “The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairy Tale of Economics” novelette. 
  • Born November 14, 1976 Christopher Demetral, 45. He played the title character on the oh so excellent The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne series which still isn’t on DVD or streaming services, damn it. (Ok, oh ahead and contradict me please. I’d be delighted). He shows up in the “Future Imperfect” episode of Next Gen, and had the recurring role of Jack on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

(9) TEA & TENTACLES. In Sunset Distortion: The Pyramid At The End Of The World by Paul Bahou uses his rock band experience to craft an intergalactic adventure.

Lazer is an almost made it, middle-aged guitarist who plays in an 80’s hard rock cover band at a Sunset Strip dive bar. While not quite a rock star, he plays to a packed house nightly. His blissful inertia is disrupted one night however when he is abducted by aliens and given a strange imprint on his hand: A key which will send him on an intergalactic journey in search of an artifact that gives its possessor “infinite life.” With the help of his new friend Streek, a timid floating octopus-creature with an English accent, Lazer will have to survive encounters with monsters, robots, alien pirates, inter-dimensional brain leeches and much more. Will Lazer get back home? What does ‘infinite life’ actually mean? And why does everybody in space speak English? All answers await at the pyramid at the end of the world.

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

(10) YOU CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE. Here’s an excerpt from Frequently Asked Questions about the Universe by Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson discussing “Why we can’t ‘beam ourselves up’ Star Trek-style” from Yahoo!

…Information has to travel through space just like everything else, and the fastest anything can travel in this universe is the speed of light. Really, the speed of light should have been called the “speed of information” or “the universe’s speed limit.” It’s baked into relativity and the very idea of cause and effect, which are at the heart of physics.

Even gravity can’t move faster than light. The Earth doesn’t feel gravity from where the Sun is right now; it feels gravity from where the Sun was eight minutes ago. That’s how long it takes information to travel the ninety-three million miles between here and there. If the Sun disappeared (teleporting off for its own vacation), the Earth would continue in its normal orbit for eight minutes before realizing that the Sun was gone.

So the idea that you can disappear in one place and reappear in another place instantly is pretty much out of the question. Something has to happen in between, and that something can’t move faster than light.

Fortunately, most of us aren’t such sticklers when it comes to the definition of “teleportation.” Most of us will take “almost instantly” or “in the blink of an eye” or even “as fast as the laws of physics will allow” for our teleportation needs. If that’s the case, then there are two options for making a teleportation machine work…

(11) TWO SINGLES, ONE HOMER. That’s how John A Arkansawyer scored this week’s Saturday Night Live. Click through to see History Channel parody “March of the Suitors” or faux Syfy show “Strange Kid Tales” (I kind of like that one). Or watch John’s fave here —

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, John A Arkansawyer, Jim Meadows III, 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 Jon Meltzer.]

Ray Bradbury Writes to the President and Other News Stories

File 770 resumes its mission to be “All Bradbury, All the Time!”

(1) RAY PITCHES IN. Literary Hub reprints a letter Bradbury sent to the President’s office in 1962: “When Ray Bradbury Asked John F. Kennedy if He Could Help with the Space Race”. Kennedy’s reply appears, too.

….We are moving deeper into the Space Age, a tremendously exciting time for me, as you can imagine, since I started writing about it when I was twelve. Now, I hear that there will be a Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, attended by President Kennedy and 1,500 of the top scientists in the field of space travel from all over the world, in Seattle. A few days later, I’m scheduled to appear as a special Guest at the Seattle Fair. Our lives move closer together with such events.

Somewhere along the line I may be of some use to the President, or to you, or to others working with the President. It may be in the field of writing. Or it might be in some other act I could perform for any one of you. I’m now finishing a 14 minute film, ICARUS MONTGOLFIER WRIGHT, based on man’s age-old desire to fly. This short has been made with Format Films here, in semi-animation color, and when it is finished I hope to show it to you, and, perhaps, the President….

(2) GORMAN ACKNOWLEDGES BRADBURY. The Guardian interviewed the youngest presidential inaugural poet in U.S. history: “Amanda Gorman: ‘I wanted my words to re-sanctify the steps of the Capitol’”.

The book that influenced me growing up
In third grade my teacher read us Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. It was the first time I’d heard a metaphor in such a way, and my mind was blown. It was a watershed moment for the way I viewed the power of language.

(3) SCARAY STORIES. Mental Floss picks five “Terrifying Ray Bradbury Stories”. First on their list:

1. “AT MIDNIGHT, IN THE MONTH OF JUNE”

One of Bradbury’s best-known suspense stories is 1950’s “The Whole Town’s Sleeping,” about a woman who is stalked by a serial killer called “the Lonely One.” (The story was reportedly inspired by a cat burglar who terrorized Bradbury’s hometown when the author was a young boy.) First appearing in McCall’s and later repurposed as a chapter of Bradbury’s 1957 novel Dandelion Wine, the story made such an impression on Frederic Dannay, one half of the mystery-writing duo known as Ellery Queen, that he asked Bradbury to write a follow-up for the magazine he edited. “At Midnight, in the Month of June” [PDF], which takes its title from the Edgar Allan Poe poem “The Sleeper” and made its debut in a 1954 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, depicts the same unsettling episode from the killer’s point of view. Both stories are chilling, but the sequel is all the more disturbing for forcing the reader to identify with the killer—a literary precursor to the slasher films that would later place viewers firmly in the villain’s point of view.

(4) TEEN RAY PLAYS A RADIO ACTOR. The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies verifies the recording is good…for a bad recording. “Ray Bradbury Original Early Recording at age 14 in 1934: ‘Our General Petroleum’”. Frank Pangborn, Jr. introduces the show:  

Our General Petroleum is an original radio-style recording made by Ray Bradbury, my father Frank Pangborn Sr., and Eddie Barrera in the year 1934 when they were just teenagers. This recording has been in storage for many years and I’m happy to share it here for the very first time. My Dad, Frank Sr., is the singer in the recording. Eddie Barrera is the Narrator and piano player. Ray Bradbury is Ray Douglas in the recording. What is interesting these were young boys creating a radio show. The three of them would attend Bing Crosby’s radio show. After each page of script was completed the Actor’s would let the page float to the floor. At the end of the program the boys collected the scripts to take with them. The stage manager said they couldn’t do it, but Bing interfered and said to let the boys have the scripts. He asked the boys if they would like to walk him to his car? Of course they said yes, and that became a regular practice. I’ll bet Ray learned from the scripts in those formative years. It was, I’m sure, a part of his development as a brilliant writer.

(5) BRADBURY GOES TO THE ORIGINAL COMIC-CON. The Saturday Evening Post explains Ray’s love of comics: “Ray Bradbury: Comic Book Hero”.

…Thirty-one years later, Bradbury was asked to speak at a new conference venture in San Diego. In 1970, all of 300 people attended the Golden State Comic-Con, as it was then known, and no one knew that it would soon evolve into a world-famous annual comic event, known simply and without need of explanation as Comic-Con. Bradbury was well-established in the world of science fiction and fantasy by then, having published the modern classics Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, the former already a mainstay of high school English classes.

There was only one reason for someone as successful and well known as Ray Bradbury to attend a tiny gathering that the rest of the world ignored: He just loved comics. As he later said of his childhood comics, “Without all this splendid mediocrity, this sublime and wondrous trash in my background, I don’t think I would be any sort of writer today.” Comics created Bradbury, and in turn he propelled the medium forward….

(6) CAN THIS COCKPIT HOLD THE VASTY FIELDS OF MARS? Watch the complete Christian Brothers High School’s stage production of The Martian Chronicles.

(7) BEATING OUT A TATTOO ON THE KEYBOARD. San Francisco Classical Voice tells how “Ray Bradbury Gets a Fresh Reading in ‘The Illustrated Pianist’”.

Growing up, Nicole Brancato was engrossed by science-fiction depictions of space. She fantasized about going to space camp, and she ravenously read authors like Ray Bradbury. She particularly loved The Illustrated Man, a collection of 18 short stories originally published in 1951. Bradbury’s stories featured futuristic technology like virtual reality and space travel, and societies that responded to these developments in dystopian ways. 

At the beginning of 2019, Brancato remembered that two important Bradbury anniversaries were fast approaching: Bradbury’s centennial in 2020 and The Illustrated Man’s 70th anniversary in 2021. She was intent on creating a work celebrating him. A pianist, composer, and curator herself, Brancato had previously collaborated with painters and performing artists, juxtaposing her performances next to video art and painting time lapses to create immersive, interdisciplinary, and often highly conceptual works.

In approaching her work on Bradbury, Brancato says, “I thought of combining all these different art worlds, thinking of original composition and piano and visual art and inspiration from literature.” The result is “The Illustrated Pianist,” a multimedia program featuring the new works of seven composing pianists: Nicholas Pavkovic, Jed Distler, Monica Chew, Dee Spencer, Tin Yi Chelsea Wong, Keisuke Nakagoshi, and Brancato herself….

… The concert in San Francisco follows a similar event Brancato organized at the Plaxall Gallery in New York City in May. Although the concept for the concert was the same — featuring piano compositions inspired by The Illustrated Man, accompanied by visual design — the New York City installment involved a different set of pianists, and a separate visual artist. Brancato says that she is excited about the new body of work that has grown out of the project, including both the new musical commissions and the visual installations….

(8) BILL OBERST JR. TELLS HOW HE DOES IT. A mini-documentary about the projected visual effects featured in Bill Oberst, Jr.’s one-man show: “A Nursery Of Visuals – ‘The Effects of Ray Bradbury LIVE (forever)’”.Go behind the scenes as they work to brings Ray Bradbury’s words to life using practical effects miniatures, video, and visual effects.

(9) FLAME ON. Fire Wire blog makes sure we never forget the “Heat Sensitive Edition of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 That Can Only Be Read By Applying Fire to the Pages” (From 2018.) John King Tarpinian says he uses a hair dryer on his copy.

…Inspired by this dystopian fiction, in which firemen track and burn books, this limited edition of Fahrenheit 451 appears like a black and carbonized block, that has to be heated to temporary reveal its content….

(10) JOE MANTEGNA REMEMBERS. In August, in honor of what would have been Ray Bradbury’s 101st birthday, Joe Mantegna shared some of his favorite memories about Ray in this video from the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian and Steven French for these stories.]

Pixel Scroll 7/2/21 Fun Fact. -40 Pixels Are The Same Amount Of Scrolls In Both Celsius And Fahrenheit

(1) BOOMING BOX OFFICE. The Hollywood Reporter marks the coming Fourth of July with a chronicle about the making of a blockbuster that was released 25 years ago on this holiday weekend: “’You Can’t Actually Blow Up the White House’: An Oral History of ‘Independence Day’”

…Director Roland Emmerich, writer Dean Devlin and stars Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Vivica A. Fox, Randy Quaid and more look back at the battle to cast Will Smith, concerns over that famous Super Bowl ad, and a last-minute reshoot to save the ending.

DEVLIN The one character we had in our mind from day one was Jeff Goldblum. As we were working on the script, I would do my Jeff Goldblum imitation. Then we were basing his father [Judd Hirsch’s Julius] off of my grandfather, who was also named Julius.

EMMERICH Ethan Hawke was on our list too, but I thought at that time he was too young. It was pretty clear it had to be Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum. That was the combo we thought. The studio said, “No, we don’t like Will Smith. He’s unproven. He doesn’t work in international [markets].”

DEVLIN They said, “You cast a Black guy in this part, you’re going to kill foreign [box office].” Our argument was, “Well, the movie is about space aliens. It’s going to do fine foreign.” It was a big war, and Roland really stood up for [Smith] — and we ultimately won that war.

EMMERICH It was pretty shortly before the shoot and we still hadn’t locked in Will and Jeff. I put my foot down. “Universal people are calling every day, so give me these two actors or I move over there.” I don’t think it would have been a possibility [to actually move studios], but it was a great threat….

DEVLIN One of the things we had very early on was the idea of blowing up the White House in a TV ad. 

EMMERICH It was very controversial. I had this idea that the ad is: the second of July, you see the shadows; third of July, you have the fire coming through; Fourth of July, the White House explodes. It was such a simple concept, and Fox hated it.

DEVLIN “You can’t actually blow up the White House in a TV spot.” Roland said, “Why?” And [Fox] said, “Well, because what happened in Oklahoma [City, where on April 19, 1995, anti-government extremists detonated a bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing over 150]. It could be seen as insensitive.” And I said, “Yeah, but that wasn’t done by space aliens.”

EMMERICH I said, “We’ll test it: once with the White House, and once without.” [Fox exec] liked it so much when they saw the test result, they decided — in a very smart and clever move — that they would put this as the first commercial on the Super Bowl….

(2) NEW CHINA SF NEWS MONTHLY COMING. Regina Kanyu Wang signal-boosted plans to publish the “World Science Fiction Bulletin” in China, and called upon the science fiction community to help in “gathering clues about the latest news in world SF!”

Please fill in the Google Docs form to provide information:

This form is to gather information for “World Science Fiction Bulletin”, a monthly mini-magazine to introduce the latest science fiction news to Chinese readers. The mini-magazine will be published in Chinese in both paper and e-version, and will be compiled into an annual anthology at the end of a year.

It is a great chance to showcase what SF-related events happening in your own country/region, what are being published/broadcast, and what the fans love. It will serve as a window for the Chinese fans to learn about SF all over the world, as well as a platform for future communication and opportunities like publishing/visiting China.

We are looking for three kinds of information (which should happen in the year 2021):

1. Latest news in SF (conventions, awards, important publications, and etc.)

2. Important works (fictions/non-fictions, movies, TV series, comics, games, and etc.)

3. Regular information provider/writer (who would like to constantly join the project, communicate more with Chinese SF community, and even write articles for the project – the writing language should be in English and there will be payment.)

You may fill in the form multiple times. Thank you so much for your support and please feel free to spread the form as widely as possible!

(3) ALL ABOUT THE BOOKS. In “6 Books with Cat Rambo”, Paul Weimer takes the author through Nerds of a Feather’s standard questions, including –

 1. What book are you currently reading? 

I just started Devices and Desires by K.J. Parker, book one of a fantasy (ish) trilogy. I’m enjoying it because it talks about one of my favorite things, the economics of a world, and how trade and other market forces drive civilizations.  No magic whatsoever! But lots of lovely details and interesting characters, and a slow-burning epistolary romance. I love fantasy that thinks about the economics of things because it feels so much better thought out than some of the cartoonier books.

(4) THE ANSWER IS… Camestros Felapton, in “Debarkle Chapter 45 – The Reviews (April to July)”, provides an overview of the efforts to review the slated finalists on the 2015 Hugo ballot.

…As leader of the Sad Puppies 3 campaign, Brad Torgersen had appealed to critics of his slate to read the works nominated and evaluate them fairly. Proponents of the No Award Strategy argued that the impact of slate voting (particularly from the Rabid Puppy campaign) meant that even a reasonable works was compromised as a finalist by the Puppy slates. In those categories where there was a single non-slated finalist (such as Best Fan Writer and Best Novelette) even the non-slated finalist was competing against a field that many fans regarded as illegitimate.

A pertinent question then was whether the 2015 finalists were any good….

(5) THE INSIDE STORY. Sarah Chorn discusses “Writing with an Emotional Landscape” at Bookworm Blues.

The other day, my parents came to visit. My dad and I were talking and he asked, “What are your books known for?” I thought about it for a minute and then said, “I’m pretty sure I’m known for writing with emotional intensity.” My dad laughed and said, “You’ve always been pretty emotionally intense.”

I have been, I know that. I have often experienced and interpreted the world through a kaleidoscope of emotions. When I have a story idea, it’s not the situation that interests me as much as the emotions that get all tangled up in these moments. It’s that tangled emotional web I like to explore. I tend to think the character’s inner journey is just as important, if not more so, than the story itself. I’m one of those people who likes it when authors make me cry. That’s when the book stops being something I’m reading, and starts being something I am living….

(6) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman hopes listeners will dig into dolmades with agent extraordinaire Joshua Bilmes on episode 148 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Joshua Bilmes

My guest this time around — for my first face-to-face-in-restaurant meal in 466 days — is agent Joshua Bilmes, and the reason we were able to get together is because I learned — back when we chatted before our panel on “Using Writing Prompts and Exercises Effectively” during the virtual Balticon — that he was going to be visiting nearby. We decided to meet for lunch at Rockville, Maryland’s Mykonos Grill, which Washington Post food writer Tom Sietsema included at the end of May, on his list of “7 Favorite Places to Eat Right Now.”

Joshua Bilmes is the President of JABberwocky Literary Agency, which he founded in 1994. He began his agenting career at the famed Scott Meredith Literary Agency in 1986. His best-selling clients include Brandon Sanderson (whose fantasy novels have sold more than 18 million copies), Charlaine Harris (one of the rare authors whose writing has inspired three different television shows), Peter V. Brett (whose Demon Cycle series has sold more than 3.5 million books), and many others. I’ve lost count of the number of convention panels Joshua has been on with me in addition to the one I mentioned earlier, everything from “There is No Finish Line: Momentum for Writers” to “How to Self-Edit That Lousy First Draft” to “How to Incorporate Critique” — further proof he definitely has a handle on the way the writing and publishing work.

We discussed how the COVID-19 lockdown impacted the publishing industry, what he learned by visiting 238 Borders bookstores, the offer he’s made to bookstore employees he’s surprised has never been taken up, how writing letters to Analog led to his career as an agent, what life was like at the famed Scott Meredith literary agency, the fact which had he but known he might not have gone out on his own as an agent, why he’s had to redefine what “pleasure” means, what he has to say to people who think they don’t need agents, the sixth sense he possesses which helps him choose new clients, and much more.

(7) NAMES TO RECKON WITH. Archaic Media poses “10 Questions for Jack Dann”.

Was the New Wave SF influential to you?

Well, I would have to give that question an emphatic ‘yes’, especially as I was fortunate enough to be a part of the movement, although, along with writers such as Gardner Dozois, George Alec Effinger, Michael Bishop, Ed Bryant, John Shirley, A. A. Attanasio, I came in towards the end. Writers such as J. G. Ballard, Joanna Russ, Brian Aldiss, Samuel Delany, Bob Silverberg, Kate Wilhelm, Carol Emshwiller, Harlan, Tom Disch, Roger Zelazny, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Michael Moorcock, to name but a few off the top of my head, influenced my writing.

I began publishing in Bob Silverberg’s New Dimensions series, Michael Moorcock’s New Worlds, and Damon Knight’s Orbit series. I sold a story to Harlan’s ill-fated Last Dangerous Visions, met other writers at Damon and Kate’s continuous New Wave literary soiree at their old mansion called The Anchorage in Milford, Pennsylvania; and remember with joy and nostalgia what it felt like to be part of a literary zeitgeist.

(8) HWA PRIDE. An “Interview with Norman Prentiss” is the latest “Point of Pride” from the Horror Writers Association Blog.

What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?

Horror stories always struck me as sardonic fun, and a good fit for my morbid sense of humor. The genre offers a great introduction to storytelling, since pace and atmosphere are so important, and the surprise endings of so many Twilight Zone or EC Comics-style stories made me think like a writer, trying to guess where a story was headed.

Later in life I realized my youthful attraction to horror also connected to my awkward, mostly-repressed queer identity. The protagonists of horror stories might be bookish nerds, loners, outsiders. And the monsters, too (well, maybe not the bookish part, except for Shelley’s creature). That idea of otherness resonates with a lot of gay youth, I think, especially when I was growing up.

(9) TINGLE TALK. The Vox article about Isabel Fall’s story prompted Chuck Tingle to make extended comments on Twitter. Thread starts here.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • July 2, 1939 – On this day in 1939, the first Worldcon convenes in New York, and continues through July 4. Attendance was reported at being around two hundred. It was held in the Caravan Hall in New York at the same time as the New York World’s Fair was going on and the latter was themed as The World of Tomorrow. The Guest of Honor was Frank R. Paul and the con was chaired by Sam Moskowitz. It called itself the World Science Fiction Convention, and has subsequently been called Nycon I and the 1939 Worldcon.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 2, 1908 — Rip Van Ronkel. Screenwriter who won a Retro Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at The Millennium Philcon for Destination Moon. He also produced the earlier Destination Space movie for television, andwrote the screenplay for The Bamboo Saucer. And no, I’ve no idea what the latter is. (Died 1965.)
  • Born July 2, 1914 — Hannes Bok. He’s a writer, artist and illustrator created nearly one hundred fifty covers for various detective, fantasy and sf fiction magazines. He shared one of the inaugural 1953 Hugo Awards for science fiction achievement for Best Cover Artist with Ed Emshwiller.  He also wrote a handful of novels, the best known being The Sorcerer’s Ship, The Blue Flamingo and Beyond the Golden Stair. (Died 1964.)
  • Born July 2, 1927 — Brock Peters. His first genre role is in Soylent Green as Lieutenant Hatcher, and he’ll follow that up by being in The Voyage Home and The Undiscovered Country as Fleet Admiral Cartwright, and notably he voiced Lucius Fox in Batman: The Animated Series. (Died 2005.)
  • Born July 2, 1931 — Robert Ito, 90. Though you’ll best remember him as being in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as Professor Hikita, his first genre role was actually an uncredited role in Get Smart!, the first of a lot of genre roles including, but not limited to,  Women of the Prehistoric PlanetSoylent GreenRoller BallThe Terminal ManStar Trek: The Next GenerationStar Trek: The Next Generation and more voice work than I can possibly list here though he had a long recurring role as The Mandarin on Iron Man.
  • Born July 2, 1948 — Saul Rubinek, 73. Primarily of interest for being on Warehouse 13  as Artie Nielsen, though he has worked rather often on genre series and films including EurekaMasters of HorrorPerson of InterestBeauty & the BeastStargate SG-1The Outer Limits and Star Trek: The Next GenerationMemory Run and Death Ship seem to be his only genre films. His latest genre role is in For all Mankind as Rep. Charles Sandman in their “He Built the Saturn V“ episode. 
  • Born July 2, 1950 — Stephen R. Lawhead, 71. I personally think that The Pendragon Cycle is by far his best work though the King Raven Trilogy with its revisionist take on Robin Hood is intriguing. And I read the first two books in the Bright Empires series which are also very much worth reading. 
  • Born July 2, 1956 — Kay Kenyon, 63. Writer of the truly awesome The Entire and the Rose series which I enjoyed immensely as a listening experience a few years back. I’ve not read her Dark Talents series, so opinions please. And she was nominated for three Endeavour Awards which is very impressive. 
  • Born July 2, 1970 — Yancy Butler, 51. Detective Sara Pezzini on the  Witchblade series which would’ve been awesome with current CGI. She was later Avedon Hammond in Ravager, Captain Kate Roebuck in Doomsday Man, Angie D’Amico in Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2, Reba in Lake Placid 3 and Lake Placid: The Final Chapter, Officer Hart in Hansel & Gretel Get Baked (also known as Black Forest: Hansel and Gretel and the 420 Witch) (given the latter, a career low for her) and Alexis Hamilton in Death Race 2050. Series work other than Witchblade wasa recurring role as Sgt. Eve Edison in Mann & Machine inher first genre role. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) SURVIVOR. Elizabeth Bear has posted the video of “AHSS Presents a conversation with Elizabeth Bear ‘How to Survive a Literary Life’” on YouTube.

There’s a lot of information out there on how to perfect your work and seek publication. There’s not as much about how to deal with the stresses of writing for a living—inconsistent income streams, uncertainty, arbitrariness of the market, mental health issues, public exposure, professional jealousy, exploitative contracts, and more.

(14) CAN THIS BE PLAYED FOR MONEY? BBC World Service’s Business Daily asks “How would we trade with aliens?” – audio at BBC Sounds.

A US government report on UFOs has said there was no clear explanation for the unidentified aircraft, but did not rule out extra-terrestrial origin. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested into searching for signs of alien intelligence. 

Ed Butler speaks to Lisa Kaltenegger, an astronomer at Cornell University, who has analysed the closest, most likely planets to support alien life. If, or when, we do make contact what could we trade with our new neighbours? 

David Brin, a science fiction writer and astro-physicist says our culture would be the most easily exchanged aspect of our civilisation. 

And what about making money on Earth from the continued interest in aliens? Juanita Jennings is the public affairs director for the town of Roswell, New Mexico, site of the most famous UFO sighting. 

(15) GAMES THAT ARE GOOD FOR YOU. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the June 30 Financial Times, Tom Faber, reports from the E3 trade show about Wholesome Games, which creator Matthew Taylor says specializes in “Uplifting and thoughtful” games.

‘Wholesome’ refers to a tone rather than a gameplay genre.  Most examples are brightly colored with charming characters and storylines that eschew saving the world in favour of more mundane goals:  cooking, farming, hiking, fishing, looking after a pet.  Instead of gamifying lust and punishing failure, wholesome games often elicit empathy and kindness via a more positive mechanic sometimes known as ‘friend and befriend.’

A sample from this year’s Wholesome Direct showcase includes games where you can play a farming cat, a skateboarding pigeon, or, approaching wholesomeness terminal velocity, a cafe owner brewing artisan tea–for cats.

(16) FOLLOW THE MONEY. “The ‘Metaverse’ is growing. And now you can directly invest in it” reports the Washington Post.

… “Like the mobile Internet and the fixed-line Internet before it, the Metaverse will transform nearly every industry and involve the creation of countless new businesses,” said Matthew Ball, managing partner of venture firm EpyllionCo. Ball, along with his group, created the index and has written influential essays on the ongoing evolution of the Metaverse.

Joining Ball on the ETF’s council are: Jerry Heinz, former head of enterprise cloud services at Nvidia; Jacob Navok, co-founder and chief executive of Genvid Technologies; Jesse Walden, managing partner of Variant Fund; Jonathan Glick, former New York Times senior vice president of product and technology; Anna Sweet, chief executive of Bad Robot Games; and Imran Sarwar, formerly from Rockstar North where, among other projects, he worked as co-producer and designer of “Red Dead Redemption 2” and “Grand Theft Auto Online,” the most profitable entertainment product ever made.

… But the Metaverse is more than just a game that incorporates other companies’ intellectual property. Instead, it’s an Internet where people will more tangibly replicate many common aspects of real world life, including socialization, commerce and entertainment.

Ball has written several essays in recent years that popularized observations on the Metaverse. As part of the fund, Ball is writing an additional series of essays that establish the framework of the Metaverse, and how to think of it.

Just as the iPhone or Facebook can’t be called the Internet, neither can one video game — whether it’s “Fortnite” or “Roblox” — can be referred to as the Metaverse, Ball said. But video games help widespread acclimation and understanding of how a Metaverse can operate. Ball writes in his essay detailing the slow but steady industrial adoption of electricity, and compared it to the rise of the mobile Internet and the factors that led to the groundbreaking invention of the iPhone….

(17) BLUE YONDER. In the Washington Post, Taylor Telford profiles Wally Funk, 82, who was one of 13 women selected for the Mercury program but will go to space for the first time on Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin rocket along with Bezons, Mark Bezos, and one lucky raffle winner. “Wally Funk was supposed to go to space 60 years ago. Now she’s going with Jeff Bezos.”

.. Blue Origin has said travelers must be able to endure three times the force of gravity for two minutes on ascent and 5½ times the force of gravity for a few seconds on the way down. Participants must be between 5 feet and 6-feet-4-inches tall and weigh between 110 and 223 pounds. As a young girl, Funk used to jump off the roof of her parents’ barn in a Superman cape, pretending to fly. She loved to build model planes and ships, became an “expert marksman” at 14 and skied competitively for the United States in slalom and downhill races. She has been flying since 1957. She is also an antique car enthusiast and “avid zipliner,” according to her website.

When NASA finally opened its programs to women in 1976, Funk applied three times and received three rejections. But she has never been the type to let anything stand in her way, she says in the video.

“I like to do things that nobody has ever done,” Funk said….

(18) TRIVIAL TRIVIA COURTESY OF PHIL NICHOLS. [Item by John King Tarpinian.] A  frame from Truffaut’s 1968 film Stolen Kisses (Baisers volés). Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud) returns to his apartment, and the first thing he does is take down this red toy car emblazoned with the salamander logo from Fahrenheit 451. One of many cross-references between Truffaut films!

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Merman meets mustached characters – and more! Honest Trailers’ fills you in about Pixar’s Luca.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Gottacook, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]

Pixel Scroll 6/20/21 Teenage Mutant Fannish Pixels, Heroes On The File Scroll

(1) FATHER’S DAY AND THE NIMOY FAMILY. “I absolutely adored Spock. Loving Dad was much more complicated” – by Adam Nimoy in the Boston Globe. (I usually hit a paywall at the Globe, but I was able to push past the pop-ups and read this article, so maybe you will too.)

…“We are now passing Beacon Hill, home to John F. Kennedy, John Hancock, and John Kerry, the three Johns. And we’re coming up on the West End, formerly an immigrant neighborhood that was demolished in the 1950s to make way for quote-unquote urban renewal. Of course, the most famous resident of the original West End is none other than Leonard Nimoy, who starred as Mr. Spock on ‘Star Trek.’ Do we have any ‘Star Trek’ fans on board?”

About a half dozen people raised their hands. Some yelped their excitement. I got all warm and fuzzy inside. Dad sat with his arms crossed over his linen jacket and gave one of his approving nods. Paul Revere, John Adams, John Kennedy, and . . . Leonard Nimoy. What a lineup — “highly illogical,” as Mr. Spock would say.

The trip to Boston gave me the chance to see the city through my father’s eyes while giving Dad an opportunity to relive the events that shaped his life and career. Father and son closeness was relatively new to us….

Dad’s zeal for work had its downside. His career always came first. He was not one to come to Little League games, for example — a regular source of disappointment for a boy who just wanted to please the father he so admired….

Alternatively, CinemaBlend hosted this Nimoy tribute: “Leonard Nimoy’s Daughter Julie Pens Sweet Father’s Day Letter To Late Star Trek Actor”.

In the world of Star Trek, Spock was never a father, but the actor who played him, Leonard Nimoy, certainly was. The actor juggled a busy career along with being a good father to his two children, Adam and Julie and, on Father’s Day, Julie Nimoy shared a special letter with CinemaBlend to her father on this special holiday….

“…Forever my rock, I could always depend on him for his wise advice. Like most dads, he was very protective, but always encouraged me to be independent, starting at very young age….”

(2) INFLUENTIAL IDEAS. Samuel R. Delany shares his experiences reading and meeting Arthur C. Clarke on Facebook.

…(I’ve incorporated a lot of his ideas into my own, such as his early defense of the space program as a money saver on the large scale, because of the weather damage it prevented.) I met him—possibly, but I don’t even remember for sure—at a gathering at Michael Moorcock’s home at the end end of my first (’66) or in the midst of my second (for three weeks, covering Christmas/New Years ’66-’67) trip to London. The gathering was overshadowed by the presence of J. G. Ballard, whom most of his friends called Jimmy, and the growing pains of the “New Wave” and *New Worlds.* To me he was always Dr. Clarke—and when I met him the second time, in this country, at the opening of his, I-can-only-call-it World-Changing collaboration with the consistently greatest American filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” he recognized me as “Chip.” (That made it into the first volume of my journals and the review I wrote, one of a pair—the other by filmmaker/artist Ed Emshwiller— that were published on the film in F&SF.)…

Delany’s post mentions the side-by-side ads taken out in 1968 prozines by writers to express either their support for or opposition to the Vietnam War. Todd Mason blogged about it (in 2012) and included a screencap of the pages here: “1968: Judith Merril and Kate Wilhelm put together an ad against the Vietnam War…”

…it appears in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and in GalaxyWorlds of If and International Science Fiction magazines (the latter three of which are published by the same publisher, Robert Guinn of the Galaxy Publishing Co., and edited by Frederik Pohl, the first edited by Edward Ferman and published by his father Joseph Ferman), along with a corresponding ad from “hawks” who are moved by Wilhelm and Merril’s canvassing….

(3) NOT THROWIN’ AWAY MY SHOT. Black Gate presents Sara Light-Waller’s commentary: “Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen: Piper’s Connecticut Yankee Tale”.

…As mentioned, Lord Kalvan is part of the Paratime universe. It was originally published in two parts, the second posthumously to Piper’s death. “Gunpowder God” first appeared in Analog in November 1964. The second part — “Down Styphon” — was published in the November 1965 issue. The novel, Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen (1965), is a compilation of the two which also includes new material expanding on the original stories.

In our reality and timeline, Pennsylvania state trooper, Corporal Calvin Morrison, is part of a group of police about to burst in on a criminal hiding out in an old farmhouse. As he walks forward with pistol drawn, he is accidently caught up in a Ghaldron-Hesthor temporal field…. 

Back on Home timeline, paracops quickly figure out what’s happened. Our old friend Verkan Vall, Special Assistant to the Chief of the Paratime Police, is there to see the damage.

A man who can beat a Paracop to the draw won’t sink into obscurity on any time-line,” he says and decides to take charge of the case himself…

(4) WELLINGTON PARANORMAL. The New Zealand show has been mentioned here a few times – and now it’s coming to U.S. screens says SYFY Wire: “Wellington Paranormal: What We Do in the Shadows spinoff gets U.S. premiere date and trailer”.

Before What We Do in the Shadows became a hit TV series on FX, the first spinoff from the iconic 2014 mockumentary arrived on TV in its homeland of New Zealand. First announced in 2017Wellington Paranormal began broadcasting into Kiwi homes in 2018, and has since produced three successful seasons and a holiday special, all without being widely available to U.S. viewers who’ve been enjoying a spinoff of their own. Next month, that holdout finally ends. 

Back in the spring, The CW announced that it would begin airing Wellington Paranormal for American audiences this year, with episodes made available to stream the next day on HBO Max. Now, a new trailer’s here to get us all excited about finally seeing this show in all its clumsy paranormal cop glory. Check it out:

(5) CRT 451. “Opinion: To leave out these discussions of history is akin to burning books” writer Howard Stacy in a letter to the Gainesville Times.

Visiting a local book store recently, I bought the book “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury. I had read some of Bradbury’s books in the past (I’m a science fiction fan) and thought I would enjoy this one. Unfortunately, the book written in 1951 has so many parallels with today’s political climate that I am not sure I can finish it. 

The plot covers the life of Guy Montag, a fireman in the not too distant future. The occupation of the firemen in Bradbury’s story is markedly different from the firemen today. Montag’s crew of firemen are tasked with burning books as well as the houses of the people that own them. It does not matter what books are in the house; their mere presence qualifies for destruction. 

The firemen pull their hoses from the fire truck and start spraying kerosene on the offensive house. The kerosene is ignited, and the fire destroys the house and the books in it. 

If the owner of the house refuses to leave, then the firemen burn him or her, too. The government has ordered that this is to be done because books contain dangerous ideas. 

The similarity to today is the effort of the Trump Republicans and the Georgia State Board of Education to limit the discussion of Critical Race Theory. The full definition of CRT is complicated, involving White privilege and economic advantage based simply on the color of skin. However the CRT acronym makes it something that the Trump Republicans can get excited about. It looks good on a poster held up at a school board meeting, and it allows a racist to appear as someone that is only interested in having the youngsters in public schools receive the “correct” history instruction….

(6) WALTER SCHNEIDERMAN (1922-2021). The acclaimed makeup artist Walter Schneiderman died April 8 at the age of 98 reports The Guardian:

…The complex makeup required for the title character of The Elephant Man was nearly the undoing of that celebrated 1980 film. … But applying the resulting designs, which had been modelled from a cast of the real Joseph Merrick … fell upon the makeup artist Walter Schneiderman.

Schneiderman, who has died aged 98, called the film “one of the hardest pictures I had to do”. It took seven hours each day to put the makeup on Hurt, and another two to take it off again. Schneiderman was acclaimed for his work on the movie, which was nominated for eight Oscars. The lack of official recognition for … Schneiderman caused a furore, which led to the implementation the following year of a new Oscar category for best makeup.

Uncredited early work came his way on … Powell and Pressburger’s Tales of Hoffman (1951). 

He spent five years, first as makeup artist and then as makeup supervisor, on the television series The Adventures of Robin Hood (1955-60). He moved into more film work with … One Million Years BC (1966), … Rollerball (1975). Schneiderman was makeup supervisor on the fantasy Labyrinth (1986), starring David Bowie as the flamboyant Goblin King.

Although an inventive and resourceful practitioner, he was always practical. “Directors think you open your box and out pops magic,” he said. “It does. But you’ve got to know how to apply it.” After his retirement, he went on to create and sell a line of commercial products under the name Make-Up International. Among them were Quick Action Powder Blood, Bruise Simulation Gel and Omaha Action Mud.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1981 — Forty years ago at Denvention Two, The Empire Strikes Back which was released the previous year by Lucasfilm, won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. Other nominated works were Lathe of Heaven, the Cosmos series, The Martian Chronicles and Flash Gordon.  It was directed by Irvin Kershner from the screenplay by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan with story by being George Lucas. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 20, 1897 — Donald Keyhoe. Early pulp writer whose works included the entire contents of all three published issues of the Dr. Yen Sin zine. The novels were The Mystery of the Dragon’s ShadowThe Mystery of the Golden Skull and The Mystery of the Singing Mummies. He would create two pulp characters, one with ESP who was a daredevil pilot and one who was blind that could see none-the-less in the dark. He’s best remembered today for being one of the early believers in UFOs and being very active in that community. (Died 1988.)
  • Born June 20, 1913 — Lilian Jackson Braun. Author of The Cat Who… series which I think is genre. The two cats in it are delightful and one, Koko, certainly has a sixth sense, but the author never suggests is psychic. The first, The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, was published in 1966. She’d publish twenty-nine more novels plus three collections of The Cat Who… shorter tales over the next forty years.  Good popcorn reading. (Died 2011.)
  • Born June 20, 1928 — Martin Landau. I’ve got his first genre role as being on The Twilight Zone as Dan Hotaling in “Mr. Denton on Doomsday” episode. Of course his longest running genre role was as Rollin Hand on Mission Impossible though he had a good run also on Space: 1999 as Commander John Koenig. His last role was in Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie voicing Mr. Rzykruski. (Died 2017.)
  • Born June 20, 1951 — Tress MacNeille, 70. Voice artist extraordinaire. Favourite roles? Dot Warner on The Animaniacs, herself as the angry anchorwoman in Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, Babs Bunny on Tiny Toons and Hello Nurse on Pinky and The Brain
  • Born June 20, 1952 — John Goodman, 69. Some may know him as the TV husband of a certain obnoxious comedian but I’ve never watched that show. So I picture him as Fred Flintstone in The Flintstones, a role perfect for him. Mind you he’s had a lot of genre roles: voicing James P. “Sulley” Sullivan in the Monsters franchise, a cop in the diner in C.H.U.D., and he’ll even be the voice of Spike in the Tom and Jerry film that came out recently.  
  • Born June 20, 1947 — Candy Clark, 74. Mary Lou in The Man Who Fell to Earth which of course featured Bowie. She also was in Amityville 3-DStephen King’s Cat’s Eye and The Blob inthe role of Francine Hewitt. That’s the remake obviously, not the original. Oh, and she’s Buffy’s mom in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Wiki being Wiki lists that as non-canon because it’s not the Whedon Buffy.
  • Born June 20, 1967 — Nicole Kidman, 54. Batman Forever was her first foray into the genre but she has done a number of genre films down the years: Practical MagicThe Stepford WivesBewitched (I liked it), The Invasion (never heard of it), The Golden Compass (not nearly as good as the novel was), the splendid Paddington and her latest was as Queen Atlanna in the rather good Aquaman
  • Born June 20, 1968 — Robert Rodriguez, 53, I’ll single out the vastly different Sin City and Spy Kids franchises as his best work, though the From Dusk till Dawn has considerable charms as well. ISFDB notes that he’s written two novels with Chris Roberson riffing off his The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D film, The Day Dreamer and Return to Planet Droll.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) FIRE IN THE SKY. Did the monks see what they say they saw in 1178? Connie Willis is rooting for them in her Facebook post. Astronomers and scientists have their own ideas:

Canterbury Cathedral was part of St. Augustine’s Abbey, a monastery founded in 598 A.D. It endured Viking raids, William the Conqueror’s invasion, a large fire (in 1168), and the murder of its archbishop, Thomas a Becket, and was finally done in by Henry VIII. But possibly the most important event in its long history was something happened on a summer night in June in 1178.

That night, “after sunset when the moon was first seen,” five monks were sitting outside looking at the sky and the crescent moon when the upper part of the horn “suddenly split in two. From the midpoint of this division, a flaming torch sprang up, spewing out fire, hot coals, and sparks. The body of the moon writhed like a wounded snake. Afterwards it resumed it proper state. This phenomenon was repeated a dozen times or more, the flame assuming various twisting shapes at random and then returning to normal. Then, after these transformations, the Moon, from hook to horn, that is, along the whole length, took on a blackish appearance.”

The five monks told Gervase of Canterbury, the chronicler of the Abbey, what they’d seen, and he wrote it all down, adding that the monks were “prepared to stake their honor on an oath that they have made no addition or falsification in the narrative.” Unfortunately, they were the only people to have seen it. According to European chroniclers of the time, the continent was “fogged in” that night, so the five Canterbury monks were the only witnesses, and nobody paid any attention to their account for nearly eight hundred years, at which point geologist Jack B. Hartung proposed a theory for what they might have seen: a giant asteroid slamming into the moon.

If it had, there should be a crater at the place the monks described the explosion as being, so Hartung went about looking for one–and found a likely candidate…

(11) THE DAWN OF HARRY. Harry Harrison started out drawing horror comics in the 1950s. Here is a post by G. W. Thomas which looks at his comics work:  “Harry Harrison… Beware!”

Harry Harrison… Beware! Not of Harry Harrison’s writing because that’s excellent. Beware he drew horror strips for more than just EC Comics. While he and Wally Wood produced some classic comics there, HH began selling off other strips to packagers for a fee. The authors are not know for sure but Harry wrote most of these, including the writing in the fee. Some of these free market sales ended up at Youthful’s Beware and later Trojan’s Beware when the comic changed hands….

(12) NEFFY NOMS. The National Fantasy Fan Federation, in the June issue of TNFF, corrected the omission of Elizabeth Bear’s novel Machine, and the fanzine Outworlds, from the previously-announced list of finalists for the Neffy Awards.

(13) SENTENCES OF DEATH. “The Becoming of Italo Calvino” in The New Yorker discusses the collection Last Comes the Raven.

… The Calvino of “Crossed Destinies” is a familiar one, the magical realist with a playful approach to the author-narrator-reader relationship. But the book also captures one of his spinier qualities: his aura of danger. He likes to pry things open, often in uncomfortable ways; “Crossed Destinies” throws together characters who can communicate only through tarot cards, and ends when the deck scatters, along with their identities. This is formal violence, the story flying apart like a tossed hand, but a bodily analogue is never far away: one man describes being dismembered, how “sharp blades .?.?. tore him to pieces.” And yet, because much of Calvino’s cruelty is abstracted, it seems free of malice, which makes it all the more magnetic. Even before they disintegrate, the characters in “Crossed Destinies” are subject to bizarre structural rigors: pulled from the forest, stripped of their voices, severed from their pasts. When brutality occurs at the level of form, flashing in every choice (or “renunciation”), it can surface how narrative is not just an act of creation but—for the unseen, unwritten alternative—a death sentence….

(14) KEVIN SMITH NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Kevin Smith says he really enjoyed his time running the He-Man and The Masters of the Universe universe and 12-year-olds of all ages will love Masters of the Universe: Revelation when it comes to Netflix in July.

[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, Cora Buhlert, James Reynolds, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster  for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 5/8/21 And Strange At Ecbatan The File Takes Scroll By Scroll The Pixel Strange

(1) WHO? Gizmodo finds a new star in the constellation of talent around this production of Pratchett’s tale: “Terry Pratchett’s Amazing Maurice Animation Adds David Tennant”.

The animated adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s Carnegie Medal-winning 2001 children’s book The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents has already commandeered a huge celebrity voice cast, but apparently there’s always room for more. Now Doctor Who’s David Tennant has joined the ranks, alongside Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke and House’s Hugh Laurie, among many others.

The Amazing Maurice novel is a comedic adaptation of the tale of the Pied Piper, who legendarily led the rats out of the town of Hamelin with his magic pipe, only to lead the town’s children away as well after the townsfolk failed to compensate him for his work. Pratchett’s book, which is part of his beloved Discworld series, is vastly different, featuring a sentient cat named Maurice, a pack of equally sentient rats, and a boy named Keith as they try to trick the town of Bad Blintz into hiring Keith to lead a newfound “rat infestation” away. Instead, they run into more malicious ratcatchers, a rat king with psychic powers, and more….

(2) THE ANSWERS. Rich Horton has posted the answers to his “Quiz about SF Aliens” on Strange at Ecbatan.

1. There are many aliens depicted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This alien race may be hard to depict definitively, as they are shapeshifters, but they do have a typical form. They appeared in Captain Marvel in the MCU, and in the comics as early as an issue of Fantastic Four in 1962. What is the name of this alien raceClick here

Answer: SKRULL 

(3) LONELY PLANET. James Davis Nicoll has read about how cold it is out there on your own: “Far From Any Star: 5 Stories About Rogue Worlds” at Tor.com.

It’s been weeks since you last socialized (in the flesh) with anyone outside your household…or with anyone, if you live alone. Loneliness is tough. But things could be worse: you could be a rogue world, ejected from your home system billions of years ago. You could be a pitiful world formed far from any star. Such worlds are commonplace in our galaxy. They are not quite so common in science fiction. Still, a few of them feature in books that you may have read…

(4) BACKLOG. “Wondering How Much Your Pokemon Cards Are Worth? You May Need To Wait” reports NPR.

There has been a trading card accreditation bonanza that is leading to massive backlogs, hiring shortages, and big money as people seek to determine the worth of their Pokemon cards.

… SIMON: A trading card bonanza. These card-grading businesses are getting more cards over a couple of weekends than they used to get in an entire year. People are sending other cards, too. Baseball cards, of course, Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh. But Pokemon is still the main attraction.

KOEBLER: Many of these companies have been overwhelmed to the point where they’re no longer even accepting the cards because they have wait times of between, like, 10 months and a year for new cards that are mailed to them….

(5) TAKE THE 101 TO THE 451. Bradburymedia’s Phil Nichols has released another episode of his YouTube series Bradbury 101: “Fahrenheit 451”.

We’ve now reached the year 1953, and the release of Ray Bradbury’s first true novel, Fahrenheit 451. Except…

The first appearance of Fahrenheit was actually a collection rather than a novel!

Confused? You will be! Watch and learn below.

(6) MUPPET VISITS OLD HAUNT. SYFY Wire hypes the “’Muppets Haunted Mansion’ special coming to Disney+ this fall”.

…To ring in Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products’ “Halfway to Halloween” campaign, the Mouse House dropped a short teaser for Muppets Haunted Mansion, which arrives on Disney+ sometime this fall. The comedic announcement, made by Gonzo and Pepe the King Prawn, was short on details, but the official release promises “a star-studded Muppets cast, celebrity cameos, all-new music, and spooky fun for families to enjoy together.”

In terms of story, the plot revolves around Gonzo being challenged to spend one night in the scariest place on Earth: Disney’s Haunted Mansion….

(7) KITAEN OBIT. [Item by Dann.] Actress Tawny Kitaen died May 7 at age 59.  The cause of death was not revealed.

Her early fame came from appearing in Whitesnake and Ratt videos. Her first genre role came in Witchboard in 1986 and was followed by an appearance in one episode of the short-lived They Came From Outerspace.

Tawny’s most prominent genre role was taht of Deianeira in the Hercules series.  She appeared in all three Hercules movies (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys – Hercules and the Circle of Fire, Hercules in the Underworld, Hercules in the Maze of the Minotaur) as well as in the TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys from 1995 to 1997.

She also provided the voice of Annabelle in the animated series Eek! The Cat.

(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • May 8, 1955 — On this night in 1955, X Minus One’s “Mars is Heaven“ first aired on radio stations. It’s based on the Bradbury story of that name which was originally published in 1948 in Planet Stories. It later appears as the sixth chapter of The Martian Chronicles, retitled “The Third Expedition”.  The premise is that this expedition discovers on Mars a small town spookily akin to that which they left behind on Earth. The people in the town believe it is 1926. Crew members soon discover there are old friends and deceased relatives there as well. The cast includes  Wendell Holmes, Peter Kapell, Bill   Zuckert, Bill Lipton, Margaret Curlen, Bill Griffis, Ken Williams, Ethel Everett and Edwin Jerome. You can hear it here.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 8, 1925 – Roy Tackett.  Active fan from 1936; drifted away in the late 1950s, happened across Yandro and returned.  His own fanzine Dynatron.  Bruce Pelz managed to get him nicknamed HORT so we’d be cued to pipe up, when we heard it explained as Horrible Old Roy Tackett, “Oh, I know Roy Tackett.  He’s not that old!”  TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate.  Fan Guest of Honor at Westercon 22, MileHiCon 12, LoneStarCon 2 the 55th Worldcon.  (Died 2003) [JH]
  • Born May 8, 1938 Jean Giraud. Better to y’all as Moebius. He contributed storyboards and concept designs to myriad science fiction and fantasy films including AlienThe Fifth Element, The Abyss and the original Tron film. He also collaborated with avant-garde filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky for an unproduced adaptation of Dune. Oh, I would’ve loved to have seen that!  And no, I’m not forgetting his work on both Heavy Metal and Marvel Comics but I’ll let you detail those endeavors. (Died 2012.) (CE) 
  • Born May 8, 1940 Peter  Benchley. He’s known for writing Jaws and he co-wrote the film script with Carl Gottlieb. His novel Beast is genre and was adapted into a film as White Shark which has absolutely nothing to do with sharks. Another novel, The Island, was also turned into a film and it’s at least genre adjacent. (Died 2006.) (CE) 
  • Born May 8, 1945 – Stanislaw Fernandes, age 76. Fourscore covers, a dozen interiors for us; much else.  Here is Reach for Tomorrow.  Here is the Feb 87 Omni.  Here is the Mar 88 Asimov’s.  Here is The Wheel of Darkness.  Elsewhere, here is e.g. the 15 Jan 79 Business Week.  I picked these from the past for a sense of scope; don’t think he hasn’t been busy.  Website.  [JH]
  • Born May 8, 1947 – Ron Miller, age 74.  Five novels; a hundred seventy covers, a hundred thirty interiors; a dozen artbooks.  Here is the Apr 74 Amazing.  Here is The Grand Tour.  Here is the Jan 01 Asimov’s.  Here is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  Here is The Art of Chesley Bonestell (with F. Durant; cover by CB; Hugo for Best Related Book).  Here is Up the Rainbow.  [JH]
  • Born May 8, 1954 Stephen Furst. Stephen is dead, damn it all. The saddest part of doing these Birthdays is discovering how many folks have died that I reasonably expected were still living. He died of complications from diabetes at a far too young age. You know him most likely as Centauri diplomatic attaché Vir Cotto on Babylon 5, a decent being way over his head in a job he was ill-prepared for. He also directed three low-budget movies for the Sci Fi Channel: Dragon StormPath of Destruction, and Basilisk: The Serpent King; he additionally co-starred in the last two films. And he produced Atomic Shark which aired during Sharknado Week on Syfy. (Died 2017.) (CE) 
  • Born May 8, 1955 Della Van Hise. Author was a prolific Trek fanwriter who later published an official Trek novel, Killing Time which in its first printing implied a sexual relationship between Spock and Kirk. Later printings didn’t include this passage as the copyright objected according to several sources. It’s available at all the usual digital suspects. (Died 2021.) (CE) 
  • Born May 8, 1957 – Jenny Blackford, age 64.  Co-edited Australian SF Review.  A score of stories, two dozen poems; essays, letters, reviews in FoundationNY Rev SFSF Commentary.  Elsewhere, e.g. 2020 Davitt Award for Best Children’s Crime Novel.  “I have forgotten more Sanskrit than I ever learned, but I still recite Catullus, and my favorite playwright is of course Euripides.”  [JH]
  • Born May 8, 1968 – LeAnn Neal Reilly, age 53.  Five novels.  Has read The SilmarillionIvanhoe, Norwich’s Short History of ByzantiumCrime & PunishmentCatch-22, Chesterton’s St. Augustine and 2 vols. of Father Brown stories, all six Jane Austen novels, The Sound and the FuryThe Little Prince.  She writes, says Kirkus Reviews, “about resilient women caught in magical, otherworldly circumstances.”  [JH]
  • Born May 8, 1982 – Leah Bobet, age 39.  Two novels, twoscore short stories, two dozen poems.  Founding editor of Abyss & Apex; edited Ideomancer.  Aurora, Sunburst, Copper Cylinder Awards.  Makes jam, climbs mulberry trees, plants gardens in back alleys, and contributes to access-to-democracy initiatives. [JH]

(10) HEAR ME ROAR. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Now this is some cool crap. For the first time ever, one spacecraft has been used to record a “talkie” of another spacecraft.

The Mars rover Perseverance took a video of Ingenuity — the helicopter — during a test flight with sound. The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory has released the video which can be seen on YouTube. The sound is pretty low frequency (~84 Hz) so it’s recommended you watch the video on something with speakers that have decent base response. 

The AP has the story — “NASA Mars helicopter heard humming through planet’s thin air”.

… NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California released this first-ever audio Friday, just before Ingenuity made its fifth test flight, a short one-way trip to a new airfield.

During the fourth flight a week earlier, the low hum from the helicopter blades spinning at more than 2,500 revolutions per minute is barely audible. It almost sounds like a low-pitched, faraway mosquito or other flying insect.

That’s because the 4-pound (1.8-kilogram) helicopter was more than 260 feet (80 meters) from the microphone on the Perseverance rover. The rumbling wind gusts also obscured the chopper’s sound.

Scientists isolated the sound of the whirring blades and magnified it, making it easier to hear….

(11) YOU’RE FROM THE SIXTIES. Kris Vyas-Myall reviews the film adaptation of Modesty Blaise for Galactic Journey: “[MAY 6, 1966] BLAISE-ING WRECKAGE (MODESTY BLAISE).

…After Romeo Brown finished, Peter O’Donnell decided to create a more serious strip where a woman would be a capable hero rather than simply an object of desire or a damsel for the man to rescue. Apparently inspired by an orphan girl he met when stationed in Persia during the war, he teamed up once again with Holdaway to create Modesty Blaise.

Modesty reassures Willie’s girlfriend Marjorie that she has no romantic feelings for him.

Starting in 1963, Blaise feels like a totally new type of hero. Both Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin (her loyal sidekick) are both former criminals neither from privileged backgrounds. Modesty grew up in refugee camps in Persia and other Middle Eastern countries, whilst Willie is very much a working-class character. There is also no suggestion that she has any romantic interaction with Willie, instead they are loyal professional colleagues.

An excellent action sequence where Willie rams a lorry into Gabriel’s mansion

It is not just the initial concept that is fresh, the quality of the strip feels ahead of anything else I could easily pick up. O’Donnell’s plots feel fresh and complex, varying significantly from story to story. One week she will be investigating drug running in the Vietnam war, the next dealing with psychic espionage. These are combined with characters that feel deep and real. O’Donnell’s writing and Holdaway’s art also come together to give a really cinematic presentation with a real eye for direction….

(12) SCIENTIFIC CREDENTIALS. Gizmodo has discovered that “Cats Love to Sit Inside Squares—Even Fake Ones”.

…Cats, like people, can be fooled by optical illusions, nifty new research out this week suggests. The study, based on experiments conducted by pet owners at home, found that cats tend to sit inside 2D shapes that only look like squares about as often as they’ll sit inside a real square. The findings might give us a little more insight into cat cognition.

Whether they’re big tigers or domestic felines, cats just seem to love wedging themselves into boxes, crates, or other four-sided objects. This fascination doesn’t stop at 3D objects either, as the social media hashtag #CatSquare showed a few years ago; even using tape to make the outline of a square on the floor will entice cats ready to plop down at a moment’s notice….

(13) OVER THE WAVES. “UK Sci-Fi Series Intergalactic Gets Trailer and Peacock Release”. Io9 knows:

…The entire eight-episode first season debuted across the pond on April 30 to little fanfare, but streaming services are so hungry for content that was clearly not the issue…. 

The YouTube intro says —

Written by award-winning showrunner, Julie Gearey (“Prisoners’ Wives,” “Cuffs,” “Secret Diary of a Call Girl”), the series tells the story of fearless young cop and galactic pilot, Ash Harper (“Savannah Steyn”), who has her glittering career ripped away from her after being wrongly convicted of a treasonous crime and exiled to a distant prison colony. But on the way there, Ash’s fellow convicts stage a mutiny and seize control of their prison transfer ship. With the flight crew dead, mob leader Tula Quik (“Sharon Duncan-Brewster”), is intent on reaching the free world – Arcadia – with her gang; and Ash is the only pilot who can get them there. Ash is forced to join them on the run towards a distant galaxy and an uncertain future.

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