Pixel Scroll 2/8/24 It’s The Great Singularity, Charlie Brown

(1) SEE ICONIC ARTWORK IN BAY AREA THIS WEEKEND. Leo and Diane Dillon’s original cover art for The Left Hand of Darkness, recently in the news as one of the items sold from the Carr-Lichtman estate by Mark Funke, will be on display at the Antiquarian Book Fair in San Francisco, February 9–11 reports KQED in “The Painting That Became an Ursula K. Le Guin Book Cover”.

…“When I talk to other LGBTQIA+ science fiction writers and people who are immersed in science fiction, they always point to The Left Hand of Darkness as a book that kind of showed them how expansive, how rich and how multilayered speculative fiction could be in its approach to gender and sexuality,” says Charlie Jane Anders, a San Francisco-based transgender science fiction writer, who wrote the afterword for the 50th anniversary edition of the novel….

How the cover was acquired by Terry Carr for the Ace paperback edition, and the artistry of Leo and Diane Dillon, is discussed at length in the KQED article.

…Diane Dillon says science fiction writers inspired some of their best work. Leo introduced her to the genre when they met as students at Parsons in the ’50s. They were drawn to sci-fi’s imaginative worlds and the promise of what could be possible.

“Science fiction, fantasy and myth gave us the freedom to invent and challenge our imagination,” Diane wrote via email.

In a 2000 interview, Leo said he and Diane wanted their illustrations to “take science fiction out of that spaceship-and-craters-on-the-planet look.” (Leo died in 2012.)

In the case of The Left Hand of Darkness, the Dillons drew inspiration from Gustav Klimt. The original 24-by-19-inch acrylic painting evokes an uncanny world. Two figures with blurry features melt into a muted luster — an allusion to the icy planet of Gethen that provides the setting for the novel.

“That’s a sprawling piece, and it says volumes in just that one image,” says Paul Gulla, manager of R. Michelson Galleries, which represents the Dillons, in Northampton, Massachusetts.The Dillons’ work was recognizable, but the duo enjoyed experimentation. They used various techniques and materials — including stained glass, woodcarving and clay — throughout their decades-long career, which spanned book covers, album covers, kids’ picture books and advertisements.

The Dillons even forged a new artistic identity. They described their collaboration as a “third artist,” drawing on the combined powers of their own individual styles….

Leo and Diane Dillon’s painting for the cover of Harlan Ellison’s ‘No Doors No Windows.’ (Courtesy R. Michelson Galleries)

The article also has this photo of another item – an album of fan photos, some dating back to the Fifties.

(2) ON THE FRONT. Austin Conrad has more advice for SFWA Blog readers in “Sourcing Art on a Budget (Part 2)”

High-quality art plays an important role in creating the well-presented products expected by most consumers of tabletop games, but commissioning bespoke art can be expensive. Like a novel’s cover, an RPG’s interior graphics evoke the game’s aesthetic and market the game to the audience. Many tabletop writers—especially new creators—don’t have the resources to commission the expected quantity of art. What, then, are a tabletop writer’s ethical alternatives?…

(3) 2024 FANAC FAN HISTORY ZOOM SERIES: AUSTRALIA. [Item by Joe Siclari.] In 2022, we had a very interesting Fan History Zoom Session on Australian history with Leigh Edmonds and Perry Middlemiss. We didn’t even get to the first Australian Worldcon so we are going to continue.

Wrong Turns on the Wallaby Track, Part 2 with Leigh Edmonds and Perry Middlemiss. Saturday, February 17, 2024. Time: 7PM EST, 4 PM PST and 11AM Feb. 18, Melbourne AEDT

To attend, send a note to [email protected]

(4) WRITERS OF THE FUTURE WINNERS Q&A. Space Cowboy Books will host four Writers of the Future winners in an online event late this month. Register for free HERE.

Online Reading & Interview with Writers of the Future Winners

Tuesday Feb. 27th 4:30pm PT

Reading and Interview with Writers of the Future Winners: David Hankins, Elaine Midcoh, Jason Palmatier, & TJ Knight.

Be amazed. Be amused. Be transported … by stories that take you by surprise and take you further and deeper into new worlds and new ideas than you’ve ever gone before…. Twelve captivating tales from the most exciting new voices in science fiction and fantasy accompanied by three from masters of the genre.

Get your copy of the book at Bookshop.org.

(5) VERSE IS BETTER. Holly Henderson recommends “Using Poetry to Enhance Your Writing” at the SFWA Blog.

Poetry can be one of the shortest forms of fiction, but it has the ability to make an outsized impact on the reader. This is especially true when poetry is combined with fantasy and science fiction—both forms aspire to express common concepts in uncommon ways.

From classics like The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien to recent Hugo Award winner A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine, poetry has been used throughout the history of speculative fiction to jumpstart brainstorming, enhance worldbuilding, and reinforce themes so they resonate far beyond the last page….

Effective Poetry Is Its Own Skill Set

Study poetry as you would any other aspect of your craft. Read collections with a wide variety, such as Chris Riddell’s Poems to… series. Pick apart your favorites to figure out why they work. Explore different forms to expand your horizons beyond the ABAB rhyme scheme.

That being said, you don’t need an MFA in Poetry to incorporate it into your novel. Just like with prose, there’s a lot to be said for writing poetry you like to read. Don’t get caught in the trap of it having to be a certain way to be “right.” One of the most beautiful things about poetry is that it encourages you to break the rules….

(6) SWANWICK’S TRIBUTE TO WALDROP. “Howard Waldrop, Implausibly, Is No More” mourns Michael Swanwick at Flogging Babel.

Howard Waldrop is dead. This seems impossible–almost as impossible as that he could have existed in the first place. He was unlike anybody else. I once labeled him in print as “the weird mind of his generation,” and it was true. He simply didn’t think the way other people did.

You could see it in the best of his stories. People would come back from conventions where he’d read a new story (he incubated them in his mind for a long time and didn’t write anything down until the story was letter-perfect; fans learned that you could squeeze a new one out of him by making him the guest of honor at a con and requesting that he read something new at it; the night before the reading, he’d sit down and write out… something amazing) and say something like, “Howard wrote a story about dodo birds surviving in the American South,” or “Howard wrote a story about Dwight D. Eisenhower becoming a jazz musician,” and I’d think: Damn. I wish I’d had that idea! One day somebody said, “Howard wrote a story about Izaak Walton and John Bunyan going fishing in the Slough of Despond.”…

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 8, 1969 Mary Robinette Kowal, 55. Author, puppeteer, voice actor. Mary Robinette Kowal is an amazing individual indeed.

As I always find out who is narrating the audio works I’m listening to, I first encountered her when she was voicing some of the works that I like best, such as Seanan McGuire’s Indexing novels which are so wonderfully narrated by Kowal. 

Mary Robinette Kowal

She has an ability to give life to each character in a novel so that the listener can tell each of them apart by the way that she voices them. Her narration of her novel is Ghost Talkers is both properly spooky and horrifying in equal measure. 

While doing this essay I got curious about the idea of her as a puppeteer. She has been one for over thirty years and her production company is the Other Hand Productions. So she worked for Jim Henson Pictures in the Elmo in Grouchland film, she assisted Martin P. Robinson who was Sesame Street’s Telly Monster in “Jackstraws” piece, and her design work has been recognized with UNIMA-USA citations of excellence for Mark Levenson’s Between Two Worlds and Other Hand Productions’ Old Man Who Made Trees Blossom. The Citation of Excellence was founded by Jim Henson and is the highest award possible for an American puppeteer. Cool, eh? 

Now for the third part of her quite impressive career. I asked one of our Filers, Paul, to talk about that as I figured he’d read more deeply of her than I have. (I personally loved The Spare Man, Ghost Talkers and the Glamourist series. Her narration of The Spare Man is an  amazing experience speaking as one who only gets his long form fiction now in that way.)

So here’s Paul: “I was immediately enchanted with her first Glamourist history novel, Shades of Milk and Honey. I enjoyed the characters, the magic system and saw her homage to Regency romances, and liked it. I also particularly think that the last book in that series, Of Noble Family, engaging with some difficult subjects of class and race, is a strong entry that shows Kowal’s willingness to work with such material and face the issues therein.  Her recent The Spare Man encapsulates a lot of what she does, on a luxury liner, in SPAAACE.  And while many will point at her Lady Astronaut series as her current pinnacle of work (and I did borrow Elma York’s mental trick of composing fibonacci numbers in my head while hiking in Nepal), I think her alternate WWI fantasy novel Ghost Talkers is very unjustly overlooked as a compelling novel of a woman caught by her duty and needs in a terrible, dangerous wartime.”

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frank and Ernest has an encounter with a librarian about Robin Hood. But they’re not arguing whether it’s sff….
  • F Minus says there’s a downside to owning a superpet.

(9) PATRICK S. TOMLINSON. The Independent invites readers to “Meet the most ‘swatted’ man in America”.

Mr Tomlinson told The Independent he had woken in the middle of the night to find officers banging on his door, been handcuffed, and had guns shoved in his face during the yearslong ordeal. He was once swatted four times in one day.

Mr Filion has not been charged in relation to the swats on Mr Tomlinson’s home, and investigators believe there are at least two individuals behind the Torswats account.

The FBI, Milwaukee Police Department and the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office in Florida where the teenager is facing four felony counts declined to provide further information, beyond an extensive account of Mr Filion’s activities in a probable cause charging document.

After Mr Filion was arrested on 18 January at his home in Lancaster, Los Angeles County, Mr Tomlinson said he and his wife Niki Robinson had their first decent night of sleep in years.

Their relief was short-lived. Within a day of Mr Filion’s arrest, a Telegram channel named “Torswats Return” was created by someone claiming that their “partner has been arrested”, according to posts viewed by The Independent.

The channel stated that it would continue offering “swats” for as little as $40, and offered returning customers a discounted rate. It also posted derogatory photographs and text about Mr Tomlinson — noting that there would be no charge for requested swats against him.

“And of course swats to Patrick… are free,” read the Telegram message.

… The science fiction author has endured relentless harassment from an anonymous online army of what he describes as “cyber terrorists”. He says they have stalked and impersonated him, defaced his home, and continue to send a daily avalanche of abusive phone calls, voicemail messages and emails.

“I wont stop until one of them die (sic),” a message posted to the channel, referring to Mr Tomlinson, on 6 January stated.

As swatting incidents have spiked in recent months, victims and cybersecurity experts say law enforcement are failing to deal with the threat.

Last month, Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley revealed she was targeted by swatting hoaxes twice in two days, and has requested Secret Service protection amid the rising threats to her safety. She is among the dozens of lawmakers, judges in Trump trials and public figures who have experienced tactical response teams turn up at their homes in response to the false callouts.

Swatting, defined by the Anti Defamation League (ADL) as a “malicious act of reporting a false crime or emergency to evoke an aggressive response”, emerged from online gaming communities in the early 2000s, where rivals would call 911 on each other and watch the armed response on livestream.

The ADL estimates there were over 1,000 swatting incidents in 2019, but the true figure is unclear as there is no federal statute against swatting that would enable convictions to be recorded….

(10) IF COVER REVEAL. Worlds of IF magazine has shared Bob Eggleton’s cover art and the table of contents for the relaunch’s inaugural issue. Issue #177 will be released later this month as both a digest-sized print version and digital download. The PDF version will be free for a limited time at this link. Subscribe to the mailing list for updates.

Featuring stories, poetry, and art by:

  • Renan Bernardo
  • David Brin
  • Michael Butterworth
  • Tara Campbell
  • Kwame Cavil
  • J. Dalton
  • Tatiana Daubek
  • Bob Eggleton
  • Zdravka Evtimova
  • Richard Grieco
  • Akua Lezli Hope
  • Pedro Iniguez
  • Ai Jiang
  • Leslie Kean
  • Rodney Matthews
  • Bruce Pennington
  • Charles Platt
  • Daniel Pomarède
  • Paulo Sayeg
  • Robert Silverberg
  • Andrew Stewart
  • Nigel Suckling
  • Dave Vescio 

(11) CLASSIC FILM MAGAZINE BACK IN PRINT. L’Incroyable Cinema: The Film Magazine of Fantasy and Imagination is available once more. The five issues published in the Sixties and Seventies have been reproduced in paperback editions for sale at Amazon.uk.

For example, issue #4 with Hitchcock on the cover includes the writing of Harry Nadler, Steve Vertlieb, Allan Asherman, and Charles Partington and their coverage of  Mystery of the Wax Museum, The Vampire Lovers, Countess Dracula, and “Hitchcock – Master of the Eloquent Absurdity”.

Please note: This is a REPRODUCTION scanned from an original printed copy – whilst every care has been taken to make this as accurate as possible to the original some flaws etc will be evident. The only changes made to the layout have been to comply with Amazon printing guidelines. They have been reproduced with the permission of Tony Edwards who printed the originals way back when. Brought to you by Steve Kirkham and Tree Frog Publications.

Issues #2-#5 had color cover artwork by Eddie Jones, featuring Boris Karloff, Star Trek’s Spock and Kirk, Alfred Hitchcock and Ray Harryhausen. All issues had extensive picture coverage of sf and horror films.

(12) HOW TO READ A CHARCOAL SCROLL. “First complete passages from ancient Herculaneum scroll decoded” at CNN.

After using artificial intelligence to uncover the first word to be read from an unopened Herculaneum scroll, a team of researchers has revealed several nearly complete passages from the ancient text, giving insight into philosophy from almost 2,000 years ago.

The Herculaneum scrolls are hundreds of papyri that survived the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. In their charred state, the ancient documents would crumble if anyone attempted to unroll them, and any writing on surviving pieces would be nearly illegible to the human eye.

By using computer technology and advanced artificial intelligence, researchers can now analyze the Herculaneum scrolls without unrolling and risking damage to the extremely fragile documents. More than 2,000 characters — the first full passages — have been deciphered from a scroll, according to an announcement Monday by computer scientists who launched the Vesuvius Challenge, a competition designed to accelerate the discoveries made on the scrolls….

… The recently decoded passages were pulled from the end of a scroll and reveal words written by the philosopher Philodemus, who was believed to be the philosopher-in-residence working at the library in which the scrolls were found, the announcement said.

…In the deciphered text, Philodemus writes on “pleasure,” and whether the abundance of goods available can affect the amount of pleasure they give. “As too in the case of food, we do not right away believe things that are scarce to be absolutely more pleasant than those which are abundant,” the first sentence reads….

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. TheHow It Should Have Ended crew say that when it comes to Dune what they really need to fix is “How It Should Have Started”.

An animated Dune cartoon. When House Atreides dares to pass on the spice, who will take on the job? Only a Lethal Company will do.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/12/24 You’re Scrolling Into Another Dimension, The Signpost Up Ahead, The Pixel Scroll

(1) STOKERCON 2024 ADDS GOHS. The Horror Writers Association has announced two new Guests of Honor for StokerCon, Justina Ireland and Nisi Shawl. They join Paula Guran, Jonathan Maberry and Paul Tremblay, with a sixth guest soon to join them.

(2) SCHOLARSHIP FROM HELL. Applications are open for the Horror Writers Association’s annual Scholarship From Hell through March 1. Full details at the link.

This scholarship puts the recipient right into the intensive, hands-on workshop environment of Horror University.  Horror University takes place during HWA’s annual StokerCon. The winner of the Scholarship From Hell will receive domestic coach airfare (contiguous 48 states) to and from the StokerCon venue, $50 for luggage reimbursement, a 4 night stay at the convention,  free registration to StokerCon, and as many workshops as you’d like to attend!

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to join Izzy Wasserstein for Kansas City BBQ in episode 216 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Izzy Wasserstein

The guest you and I will be breaking bread with this time around is Izzy Wasserstein, who’s published fiction in AnalogApexLightspeedFantasyFireside, and many other magazines, plus such anthologies as A Punk Rock FutureResist FascismFuture Fighting for the Future: Cyberpunk and Solarpunk TalesGlitter + Ashes: Queer Tales of a World That Wouldn’t Die, and more.

Many of those stories have been collected in her marvelous short story collection All the Hometowns You Can’t Stay Away From, which was a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Her poetry collections include When Creation Falls and This Ecstasy They Call Damnation. Her forthcoming debut novella These Fragile Graces, This Fugitive Heart will be released by Tachyon in March, and you should preorder it right now.

We discussed the way Sarah Pinsker sparked her lightbulb moment, why it’s important for her to learn your chosen D&D character, which Star Trek: The Next Generation characters caused her to take her first stab at writing, the change she’d make in her life if she were independently wealthy, why we both miss those paper rejection slips from publishing’s pre-electronic days, the disconnect between the way we feel about certain stories of ours and how readers respond, the most important gift she was given by the Clarion writing workshop, our perverse love for second-person present-tense stories, how surprised she was when she sold a story to Analog, and much more.

(4) TBRCON PANEL. Gareth L. Powell alerted fans to an upcoming event. It’s free to watch.

As part of TBRCon, I will be participating in an online panel discussion with Ai Jiang, Max Gladstone, Sadir S, Samir, Nicholas W. Fuller, and Jendia Gammon.

The panel will stream LIVE on: the FanFiAddict YouTube channel, the TBRCon Twitter feed, the SFF Addicts Twitter feed, and the FanFiAddict Facebook page.

It takes place on Jan 25 at 11.00am CST / 12.00pm EST / 17.00pm GMT and is absolutely FREE to watch.

Additional information can be found here:
https://fanfiaddict.com/tbrcon2024/

(5) FANAC FANHISTORY ZOOM SERIES. Fanac.org kicks off a new year in its zoom programming next week when they interview Joe Green, fan, sff writer, and NASA spokesman.

Next Zoom Session: An Interview with Joe Green

Please Note: NEW TIME to better accommodate our attendees requests from around the world. Graphic poster attached.

January 20, 2024 – 3PM EST, Noon PST, 8PM London GMT and 7AM Jan 21 in Melbourne

Joe Green has traced an amazing arc through fandom, prodom and the space program. Joe was a fan in the 50s, is a professional science fiction writer with his first stories having appeared in the early 60s, and later became a NASA spokesman, specializing in educating the public about the space program. Host of many a legendary launch party, Joe has lived the dream of many a young science fiction fan.

Send a note to [email protected] with “Zoom” in the title to subscribe.

View past sessions on the FANAC Fan History YouTube channel.

(6) THE GREAT TIME WAR. “Doctor Who Season 15 Trailer Brings Back a Classic Companion for a New Time War Scene”Den of Geek tells what to look for.

 [The] announcement trailer for Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 15 …features a whole new scene starring former companion Leela. In the short “Leela vs. the Time War,” Leela, played again by Louise Jameson witnesses the final moments of the Great Time War on Gallifrey. As she watches the Daleks decimate the remains of the Time Lord capitol, a soldier arrives with a gift from the Doctor, forcing her to make a decision. Check out the full scene here:

(7) STAN MATTSON (1937-2024). J. Stanley Mattson, who founded the C.S. Lewis Foundation in 1986, died January 9. He is survived by his wife Jean.

A past member of the faculty of Gordon College and of the faculty and administration of the University of Redlands, Dr. Mattson also served as Headmaster of The Master’s School of West Simsbury, CT.

One of the C.S. Lewis’ Foundation’s first projects was the restoration of Lewis’ house, The Kilns, in Headington Quarry, Oxfordshire, England. It’s now a study center for visiting academics.

(8) DAVID J. SKAL (1952-2024). A Clarion graduate and sf novelist whose greatest fame came from his film scholarship, David J. Skal died January 1 in an auto accident in Los Angeles. According to his nephew, he was struck by a drunk driver. Steve Vertlieb calls Skal “brilliant beyond mere words, and an historian of immeasurable scope and substance. He towered above most film scholars, and was an inspiration to all those who write about motion picture history.”

Skal’s science fiction novels were Scavengers (1980), When We Were Good (1981) and Antibodies (1987). He wrote numerous nonfiction works about Dracula, vampires, and monsters: Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web Of Dracula From Novel To Stage To Screen (1990); The Monster Show: A Cultural History Of Horror (1993); V Is For Vampire (1995); Dark Carnival: The Secret World Of Tod Browning (1995,with Elias Savada); the Norton Critical Edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1996, co-edited with Nina Auerbach); Screams Of Reason: Mad Science And Modern Culture(1997); and the monumental anthology Vampires: Encounters With The Undead (2001).

As a documentary filmmaker he wrote and co-produced segments for the A&E’s series Biography, and contributed scripts chronicling the lives and careers of Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Jr. and Angela Lansbury (with whom he had worked during his theatre career).

In 1999, he wrote, co-produced and co-directed a behind-the-scenes chronicle of the Academy Award-winning film Gods and Monsters. The same year, he contributed to a Universal Studios Home Video series of twelve original DVD documentaries exploring the legacies of the studio’s classic horror and science fiction films. His DVD work has continued with Disney Home Video’s Jules Verne and Walt Disney: Explorers of the Imagination (2003) and the feature commentary for Warner Home Video’s special-edition release of Tod Browning’s Freaks (2004).

Other projects include Claude Rains: An Actor’s Voice, Romancing The Vampire, and Citizen Clone: The Morphing Of America.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 12, 1980 Kameron Hurley, 43. So I’ve been listening to Kameron Hurley’s space opera The Stars are Legion as I write this Birthday essay. A most excellent story indeed. It was nominated first a Campbell Memorial Award.  

Her time travel novel which I listened to recently, The Light Brigade, is one the best works in that sub-genre I’ve encountered. It was nominated for a Hugo at CoNZealand. 

Her first novel which I need someday to listen to (if it’s in audiobook format) is the start of her matriarchal Islam culture Bel Dame Apocrypha biopunk trilogy. Her term, not mine. 

The Worldbreaker trilogywhich begins with The Mirror Empire I find delightful with its merging of hard SF underpinned by magic in a space opera setting. Now that shouldn’t work, should it? Really. But it magnificently does.

And let’s talk about her non-fiction. The Geek Feminist Revolution which garnered a BFA is a collection of previously published blog posts and none news essays written for here. One of the first, “We Have Always Fought’: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative” got a Hugo for Best Related Work at Loncon 3, and she also won a Hugo for Best Fan Writer.

Her exemplary short stories have been collected so far in Meet in The Future and Future Artifacts.  Meet in The Future was nominated for an Otherwise Award. 

Of course everything she’s written is available from the usual suspects. 

Mur Lafferty, Ursula Vernon, and Kameron Hurley at 2017 Hugo Award reception.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Candorville has another detail on the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars.

(11) WOMEN WORKING IN ASTRONOMY. Atlas Obscura tells how researchers are “Uncovering the Forgotten Female Astronomers of Yerkes Observatory”. It all started with a group photo featuring Albert Einstein.

…Nearly a century later, a group of researchers at the University of Chicago evaluating the photograph (below) recognized that distinctive coif first: It was, unmistakably, Albert Einstein, on a whirlwind tour of the United States in the early days of his global fame. Some of those gathered around the physicist were also well-known to the researchers. The distracted-looking man with his tie askew was Edwin B. Frost, the then-director of the observatory. The white-haired man with the walrus mustache was Edward E. Barnard, an astronomer known for his photographs of the Milky Way. “And then someone in the room asked a deceptively simple question,” recalls Andrea Twiss-Brooks of the University of Chicago Library. “Who are all the women in the photograph?”

Of the 19 people documented alongside Einstein that day eight were women. They stand shoulder to shoulder with the men in this hallowed space of scientific exploration, an unusual sight in the 1920s. Even more surprisingly, while their presence at the observatory has been forgotten in the intervening decades, they were not overlooked in 1921. In the margin of another copy of the photograph in the University of Chicago archives, someone identified each person by last name. “Once we had names,” says Twiss-Brooks, “being a librarian, I knew what to do.”

Over the last three years, Twiss-Brooks and her team—including historian Kristine Palmieri and a group of undergraduate students—have rediscovered the lives of many of these women and the story of this unique place in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. In the first half of the 20th century, when men dominated the world of scientific research, Yerkes Observatory employed more than 100 women, some as secretaries; some as “computers,” solving mathematical equations; and many as astronomers. At Yerkes, women scientists could reach for the stars.

(12) WITCHER ADDS FISHBURNE. The Hollywood Reporter tells readers, “Netflix’s ‘The Witcher’ Season 4 Casts Laurence Fishburne as Regis”.

Netflix‘s The Witcher has cast acclaimed actor Laurence Fishburne in a major role.

Fishburne (the Matrix and John Wick franchises) has joined season four as Regis, a fan-favorite character from The Witcher books and games.

The character is in saga creator Andrzej Sapkowski’s novel Baptism of Fire as “a world-wise Barber-surgeon with a mysterious past” who will join Geralt (now played by Liam Hemsworth, taking over for Henry Cavill) on his adventures….

(13) HOT ON THE TRAIL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Scientists have spotted a “hot Jupiter” exoplanet with a tail longer than the distance from the Earth to the Moon.

WASP 69-b is in a close orbit that takes it around its home star in under 4 days. The heat from the primary is driving helium off in concentrations sufficient to be detected from our vantage point about 160 light years away. The helium forms a tail lagging behind the planet as it orbits. “Scientists find planet with a tail 150 times longer than the Mississippi” at Mashable.

There are some strange planets out in deep space.

Now, scientists have found a planet with a tail at least 350,000 miles (563,270 kilometers) long. That’s longer than the distance between Earth and the moon, and about 150 times longer than the Mississippi River. Helium gas is escaping from the Jupiter-sized planet WASP-69b, located 160 light-years away from Earth. With observations from the giant W. M. Keck Observatory atop Hawaii, researchers detected this planetary leak has created an expansive tail.

“Previous observations suggested that WASP-69b had a modest tail, or no tail at all,” Dakotah Tyler, an astrophysics doctoral candidate at UCLA and first author of the research, said in a statement. “However, we have been able to definitively show that this planet’s helium tail extends at least seven times the radius of the giant planet itself.”…

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

Pixel Scroll 12/12/23 Dancing With Pixels In Our Scrolls

(1) PAXSON ASSAILANT BYRON DECLES ARRESTED. The Berkeley Scanner reports that Byron DeCles, wanted for his attack on Diana Paxson and her son, Ian, was caught today and charged with attempted murder: “Berkeley double stabbing suspect arrested in Oakland”.

A man who had been wanted by police since Friday in connection with a stabbing in Berkeley that sent two people to the hospital is now in custody, according to booking records.

Byron DeCles, 21, was arrested shortly before 4 a.m. Tuesday in Oakland on a warrant from the Berkeley case, jail records show.

…On Tuesday, DeCles was arrested by OPD on suspicion of attempted murder, battery with serious bodily injury, elder abuse and burglary, according to booking records….

DeCles, who is unhoused, has no prior criminal cases in Alameda County, according to court records online.

According to preliminary information, he is related to the victims and has a history of mental health issues.

DeCles is now scheduled for arraignment Thursday at Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland. He is being held without bail….

The Berkeley Scanner also got an update from Diana Paxson about her injuries: “Berkeley writer Diana Paxson on the mend after stabbing”.

… Reached by phone late Tuesday afternoon, Paxson said she had spent the whole day responding to the many well wishes she’d received from supporters and friends….

“We are currently being very, very grateful to the members of our community — our local community and the larger community — who have been sending us energy for protection,” she told The Scanner. “It’s been a very difficult time and we are also incredibly relieved and grateful to the Oakland Police Department for actually being able to find him.”

… Paxson said she and her son were “recovering well” from their injuries.

“We look forward to being able to resume our usual schedule of events with our community,” she said.

She said she and Grey now need to look into several home repairs stemming from Friday’s incident. They plan to call the Family Justice Center in Oakland, which helps victims with a range of services in the aftermath of crimes.

“We’re very happy to hear that there is such a thing,” she said.

Paxson said what happened Friday had been the culmination of “a series of difficulties” with DeCles over the past year, which may have stemmed from or been exacerbated by untreated head injuries linked to multiple vehicle collisions.

“He never went to the hospital to be checked out,” she said. “We’re hoping that at least he’ll get checked out now.”

Paxson said medication can also help with these types of issues, but only if people take it.

“The light bulb has to want to be changed,” she said, adding: “Our whole mental system needs a lot more support than it’s been getting. That’s something to think about.”…

Diana Paxson also said today in a public Facebook post:

What’s on my mind is overwhelming gratitude that our attacker was arrested by the Oakland police this morning.

Many, many thanks to everyone who has been sending energy for protection and aid in hunting him down.

(2) CORRAIN APOLOGY. Cait Corrain reopened her X.com account today to publish “A sincere apology”, which attributed her surreptitious campaign of one-star reviews against other debut authors to “depression, alcoholism, and substance abuse”, and a “complete psychological breakdown” after starting a new medication. (Click for larger image.)

Many responses in social media, not excerpted here, have been skeptical, or view the statement as inadequate.

Surprisingly, an author found Corrain’s book was still on Amazon, now with a 2027 publication date. Del Rey Books cleared the air.

The Washington Post covered the story today: “Author Cait Corrain loses book deal after ‘review bombing’ debut authors’ books via Goodreads”. (Gift link.)


Nnedi Okorafor’s notes about the shortcomings of Goodreads and the prevalence of this kind of misconduct are well worth thinking about. Thread starts here.

(3) DUNE TRAILER. “Dune Part 2’s Epic New Trailer Teases a War Across Generations” at Gizmodo.

… The main thing you get from that trailer is that Part Two is just a much, much bigger movie than Part One. Part One had to move all the pieces into place. Now, Paul is becoming the leader of an entire people and will use them to win back their planet. We’re talking war on a planetary scale, which—most excitingly—includes not just one, but multiple sandworms tearing through soldiers. Can you wait to see that shot in IMAX? We can’t….

(4) JURY SIDES WITH FORTNITE. The New York Times reports that a federal district court jury sided against Google: “Google Loses Antitrust Court Battle With Makers of Fortnite Video Game”.

A jury ruled on Monday that Google had violated antitrust laws to extract fees and limit competition from Epic Games and other developers on its Play mobile app store, in a case that could rewrite the rules on how thousands of businesses make money on Google’s smartphone operating system, Android.

After deliberating for a little more than three hours, the nine-person federal jury sided with Epic Games on all 11 questions in a monthlong trial that was the latest turn in a three-year legal battle.

The jury in San Francisco found that Epic, the maker of the hit game Fortnite, proved that Google had maintained a monopoly in the smartphone app store market and engaged in anticompetitive conduct that harmed the videogame maker.

Google could be forced to alter its Play Store rules, allowing other companies to offer competing app stores and making it easier for developers to avoid the cut it collects from in-app purchases.

Judge James Donato of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California will decide the remedies needed to address Google’s conduct next year. Google said it would appeal the verdict….

(5) RECOGNITION RESTORED. [Item by Steven French.] This sounds genre to me, especially as the author Yambo Ouologuem is described as writing in the style of Vonnegut. “African writer ruined by row with Graham Greene finally gets chance to shine” in the Guardian.

In 1968 the books pages of the French newspaper Le Monde excitedly praised an uncompromising new novel, Bound to Violence, going on to salute its author as one of “the rare intellectuals of international stature presented to the world by Black Africa”.

The newspaper’s words, written in tribute to the young Malian writer Yambo Ouologuem, sound condescending today. Back then, however, the intended compliment was genuine and many European critics soon agreed: the publication of Ouologuem’s strange novel really did mark the arrival of a major new talent.

But the literary world can be brutal, and particularly so for a young African novelist living in Paris who was attempting a fresh twist on conventional storytelling.

Fellow African writers began to express shock at Ouologuem’s harsh parody of his own culture. Three years later damaging accusations of plagiarism had also emerged, including a public skirmish with Graham Greene, which ended Ouologuem’s short career. He retreated into the life of a recluse, returned to Mali and died in 2017, having never published again.

Now, 50 years after this scandal, Penguin Classics is to bring out a new English edition of Bound to Violence in a bid to rehabilitate the gifted author and introduce him to new readers.

“I was so exhilarated when I read this book,” said Penguin editor Ka Bradley. “It’s the history of an imaginary African empire called Nakem and whole centuries are dealt with in just a paragraph or two. It’s dizzying.”

(6) WRITING WITH AI IS NOT A SPORT. This player has been ejected. “Publisher Of Sports Illustrated Ousts CEO Ross Levinsohn” reports Deadline.

The CEO of the parent company of Sports Illustrated was ousted on Monday.

The firing followed a scandal over the publication’s use of AI-generated stories from fake authors, although it was not immediately clear if that was related to the shakeup.

Ross Levinsohn, CEO of The Arena Group, was terminated and Manoj Bhargava was named interim chief executive officer, the company said. No other information was provided, other than that the board met “and took actions to improve the operational efficiency and revenue of the company.”…

(7) AUTHOR’S CANDIDACY SCOTCHED. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] The Tomorrow’s MPs Twitter account reported that a potential candidate for a constituency in Scotland was forced to stand down from the party selection contest, due to the content of novels he had previously written.  The tweet links to a piece in The Courier news website, which states:

A long-serving Fife Labour councillor has stood down from an internal contest to stand as the party’s candidate in Glenrothes after concerns were raised about fantasy books he has written.

Insiders expect Altany Craik to issue a statement saying he is withdrawing from the contest for “family reasons”.

But we can reveal that Mr Craik, a supernatural horror author, was directed to stand down because of party reservations about his novels.

Mr Craik had been seeking support from members to stand as the Labour candidate for Glenrothes at the General Election expected next year….

…A source said: “It’s absolutely disgusting.”

“They’re saying he’s not a suitable candidate because his books are too sexy and satanic.”…

…His profile on Amazon includes titles such as “Innocence Lost”, with readers praising the books and it’s (sic) protagonist, Father Andrew Steel.

One reviewer wrote: “This book has graphic descriptions of gore, mutilation, rape, and foul language. But getting past that, it is a worthwhile read.”…

(8) GUESS WHO HAS A NEW NEIGHBOR? [Item by John King Tarpinian.] John Waters’ star adjoins Ray Bradbury’s on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

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

Post about the Chengdu Worldcon receives complaint from con organizers

This November 13th post (archive.org backup copy) by an account using the name 四海朝阳/Sihai Zhaoyang is mostly about the history of the Chengdu Worldcon, although there’s some relatively brief coverage of the actual con itself – mainly the online aspects – towards the end.  Some extracts via Google Translate, with manual edits:

On January 17, 2022, the official WeChat public account of the Chengdu Worldcon released volunteer recruitment information. However, according to feedback from science fiction fans who submitted their resumes, there were no updates after their submission, and there was no mention of subsidies or compensation for volunteers. In actuality, volunteers during the conference were recruited from surrounding schools.

On January 20, 2022 [this is an error/typo, it should read “2023”], some science fiction fans on Twitter discovered that the Chengdu Science Fiction Conference had officially announced that the conference would be rescheduled from August to October 2023, and the location changed from the Century City International Convention and Exhibition Center to the Chengdu Science Fiction Museum. This news was not announced to Chinese fans at that time, nor were those who voted that year notified. (i.e. the group of science fiction fans who were also members of the 81st World Science Fiction Convention).  It was not until that night that the notice of the postponement and venue change was hastily issued.

In fact, this change had been known about for a long time. In May 2022, a science fiction fan discovered the news on a government bidding website that the Chengdu Science Fiction Museum and Qingrong Lake Science Fiction Park would be built in Pidu District, Chengdu, and posted this on Weibo. After making the news public, they received a message from the organizing committee, ordering them to delete their Weibo post. However, coverage of the same topic could still be seen in local Chengdu media.  At this time, the estimated completion time was the end of June [presumably 2023], and the exhibition completion time would be the end of July….

The organizing committee of the Chengdu Worldcon also began to travel to various cities to conduct research with local science fiction fans. However, of the university science fiction clubs with the largest number of science fiction fans, very few received relevant notifications. During this process, the organizing committee members who did not understand science fiction once again made a joke. Their main person in charge had never heard of such a thing as a “light saber” and vowed to invite Shinichi Hoshi,

Kobayashi Yasumi, Douglas Adams and others mentioned by fans, despite all those people passing away long ago…

[During the preparation period in the days leading up to the con] something ridiculous happened. A staff member from Science Fiction World entered the venue with Liu Cixin’s Hugo Award trophy from 2015, to set it up as an exhibit. However, they were stopped by the security guard at the door, because the trophy was too long and was a sharp object…

Of course, we cannot ignore the “good” side of this conference, and that side has nothing to do with this organizing committee and comes purely from the lovely fans. Thanks to the efforts of some of the staff from Science Fiction World, the science fiction associations of many schools took a group photo at the Galaxy Awards Ceremony for the “Best Science Fiction Society Award”. The number of participating societies has become the highest in history. Science fiction fans communicated with each other at the conference, from badges to ribbons, embodying the ingenuity and wonderful ideas of fantasy fans.  After RiverFlow was taken to hospital, many science fiction fans and science fiction authors rushed there spontaneously and waited all night. Online and offline, most of the problems encountered by science fiction fans were solved by other enthusiastic science fiction fans. No matter how many times a question was asked, they never tired of answering it…

Has the Chengdu World Science Fiction Convention had a good or bad impact on Chinese science fiction? In the short term, the answer does not seem to be available.

A couple of days later, on November 15th, there was a follow-up post (archive.org copy), stating that a complaint about the original post had been received from the Worldcon organizers.  A screenshot of the complaint was included; a Google Translate rendition to English is below, which I haven’t edited in any way.

The following content is not officially provided by WeChat and should be filled in by the rights holder when making a complaint. Please operate with caution.

This article involves malicious attacks against individuals, institutions and governments, seriously affects the government’s credibility, denies the work results of the Chengdu World Science Fiction Convention Organizing Committee, and misguides public opinion.

As the only legal entity of the 2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference, the Chengdu Science Fiction Association strictly abides by the World Science Fiction Association charter and relevant regulations from application to hosting. The theme salon, guest reception, Hugo Award selection and award, and ticket sales all comply with relevant requirements. Said untrue situation.

The original poster responds by stating that their post was based on public information, whether from the con itself, or posted online by other members of the public, and argues that ‘it is precisely the organizing committee of the Chengdu World Science Fiction Convention itself that “seriously affects the government’s credibility.”‘ (via Google Translate, again with no manual edits).

It’s not clear to me whether this complaint had any weight behind it, legal or otherwise.  As I understand it, once a post has been made public on Weixin/WeChat, only a small number of edits can be made, so presumably any response would have involved taking the post down rather than removing any offending text.  Given that the post is still up a month later, the complaint seems to have had zero effect – other than provoking further coverage in this Weibo post by SF Light Year, and in issue 16 of the Zhejiang University SF association news summary, and now here, causing a Streisand effect.

Xingyun (Nebula) event to be held at the Chengdu SF Museum in May 2024

On the weekend of May 17th-19th next year, the 2024 Xingyun (Nebula) Celebration will be held at the Chengdu SF museum.  To the best of my knowledge, this is the only confirmed event or activity to be held at the venue post-Worldcon, other than Lukyanenko’s tour on December 1st.

This event appears to comprise three elements (via Google Translate, so these may not be the official English names):

  • The 2024 Children’s Science Fiction Conference
  • The 2024 International Science Fiction Summit Forum
  • The 15th Annual Xingyun (Nebula) Awards – I think these may have been previously announced, although I don’t think it was covered here on File 770.

Note: Looking at the dates of previous SFWA Nebula conferences, it wouldn’t surprise if both events take place on the same weekend.

Video of an SF themed bus in Chengdu

This three-minute video was filmed on the final day of the con, and posted to Bilibili a couple of days later.  It shows an SF-themed bus, followed by a timelapse sequence of the route it takes.  I’m sure people who attended the Worldcon may need to correct me, but I think the red and blue banners that hang from most of the streetlights were also promoting the con?

Note that these seem to be buses running a public route, different from the red ones that I think were dedicated to transporting Worldcon attendees, and which can be seen in the first photo.

(10) BUILDING A TOWN WITHOUT CGI. Not something many movie makers would do. “’Oppenheimer’ Production Designer Ruth De Jong – Featurette” at Deadline.

When location scouting for Oppenheimer, production designer Ruth De Jong was tasked with finding a location to recreate Los Alamos. Although the actual town of Los Alamos was too modernized to use for the period piece, De Jong and her team spent some time there for research. “I began laying out the expanse of the town with our set designer Jim Hewitt,” she says. “We took these drawings, with plans and elevations, and made foam core architectural models in a quarter-inch scale.”

De Jong and her team landed on Ghost Ranch, which is along the same mountain range as the existing Los Alamos. “We had this epic town that we wanted to do,” she says, “but the U.S. government had $2 million and a few years and I had nowhere near that.” Neither De Jong nor director Christopher Nolan wanted to use CGI for extensions on the town, so De Jong opted for building exteriors and shooting the interiors at the actual Los Alamos, like Oppenheimer’s house, which has been largely untouched since he lived there.…

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 12, 1946 Josepha Sherman. (Died 2012.) Josepha Sherman was a remarkable woman. She was another individual who died far too young. Author, folklorist, and anthologist, I knew her for a number of years up to the time of her death, by email and phone, though I lost touch with her a few years before she died. 

She wrote dozens of short stories and novels, including her Compton Crook Award-winning novel The Shining Falcon. She was prolific with Child of Faerie, Child of EarthA Strange and Ancient NameWindleafGleaming BrightKing’s Son, Magic’s Son and Son of Darkness being some of her other novels. 

She also penned five novels set in the Trek verse co-authored with Susan Shwartz including Vulcan’s Forge and Vulcan’s Heart.  She wrote a lot of media tie dipping into the universes of Andromeda and BuffyBardic Choices (with Mercedes Lackey) and even Highlander as she told me she loved Adrian Paul there.

Oh, she was a superb anthologist. A Jewish woman, she put together several collections reflecting what she knew so well — A Sampler of Jewish-American Folklore and Rachel The Clever and Other Jewish Folktales. But my favorite work by her was isn’t an anthology, but a rather serious work she did with T.K.F. Weisskopf: Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts: The Subversive Folklore of Childhood. Yes, Green Man reviewed it as she sent us a copy. Actually we reviewed so long ago that it ran on our predecessor, Mostly Folk, but that is another story for another time.

So let’s finish off by telling you that she was a Winter Queen at Green Man as was Ellen Kushner and Jane Yolen. All it means is they get to write a Speech and get chocolate. Somehow that charms them, so here’s Joshepa’s meditation on Winter: “Josepha Sherman’s Winter Queen Speech”.

Josepha Sherman. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter

(12) SHINY. Peer today posted a stunning improvement to that popular tune about a reindeer hero.  

You know Pixelsdasher and Pixeldancer
And Pixelprancer and Pixelvixen,
Pixelcomet and Pixelcupid
And Pixeldonner and Pixelblitzen.
But do you recall
The most famous scroll title of all?
Godstalk the click-boxed title
Had a very shiny scroll
And if you ever saw it
You would even feed the troll
All of the other titles
Used to laugh and scroll its names
They never let poor Godstalk
Play in any wordle games

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Mike came to say,
“Jetpacks not working,
Won’t you scroll my File tonight?”

Then all the Filers loved it
And they shouted it out with glee,
“Godstalk as a scroll title
will go down in history!”

With apologies to … everyone I guess.

(13) FANAC’S APA PANEL NOW ONLINE.

APAs Everywhere with Fred Lerner, Christina Lake, Amy Thomson and Tom Whitmore

In this wonderful FanHistory Zoom panel, our speakers, all long-time participants (in multiple different APAs), speak about their experiences with APA life. During this 2-part recording, you’ll hear their personal fannish origin stories and APA experiences, along with a wealth of fascinating commentary on the nature and purpose of APAs. From “fanac in a corner” to “intentional community”, this video provides thoughtful, insightful discussion on why APAs have been a mainstay of science fiction fandom.

Of particular interest are the discussions of “standing waves” of cultural issues that run through our APAs and the ways that science fiction fandom has dealt with cultural challenges. Fandom had notable failures (and successes) dealing with social issues long before the general culture dealt with them.

Of course, it’s not all social commentary. You’ll hear the story of APAs used in divorce proceedings, APAs which may have been created to bedevil particular individuals, and the APA which didn’t live up to its banner of “the 13 nastiest bastards in fandom”.  You’ll learn why APAs thrive, even in this era of instant  online gratification. Other topics: privacy issues, digital preservation of APAs, a soft toy APA, APAs you wouldn’t join, Langdon charts, and of course, audience Q&A.

Part 1

Part 2

(14) THEY’RE NOT PLAYING AROUND. Turn out the lights, the party’s over. “E3 has entertained its last electronic expo” says TechCrunch.

E3’s decades-long history has been peppered with ups and downs. The annual Los Angeles-based gaming expo saw a decade of steady growth after it was founded in the mid-90s. The mid-00s, on the other hand, were an altogether different story, as the event struggled, downsized and moved out of the LA Convention Center.

Opening the industry-only event to the public breathed new life into the event the following decade, however, until 2020 saw E3 — and the rest of the world — suddenly grind to a halt. Since then, the show has, understandably, struggled.

The in-person event was canceled courtesy of COVID, and a virtual version failed to materialize by that summer. Show organizer, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), did manage an online event in 2021, only to once again cancel things in full the following year. After failing to garner enough interest, there was no E3 2023, nor will the event return in 2024.

Given its recent history, there was little surprise this morning, when the ESA announced that E3 is now gone for good. Such decisions are never easy to make, and big organizations/events take a while to wind down. The group no doubt wanted to exhaust all feasible options before officially throwing in the towel for good….

(15) BEAR BEGINNINGS. The Guardian declares “Paws for applause: Paddington set to star in stage musical”.

Paddington, Michael Bond’s “very rare sort of bear”, is to star in a new stage musical. The production, announced on Tuesday, is being developed by Sonia Friedman’s company, whose hits include Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and will have music and lyrics by McFly’s Tom Fletcher. It is currently being workshopped with the title Paddington: The Musical and has a UK premiere planned for 2025.

The show is adapted from Bond’s bestselling children’s books – the first of which was published 65 years ago – and from the popular live-action film versions which feature Ben Whishaw as the voice of a CGI Paddington. How the marmalade-loving, accident-prone bear will be represented on stage has not yet been revealed….

(16) SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD. The New York Times finds some are “Using A.I. to Talk to the Dead”.

Dr. Stephenie Lucas Oney is 75, but she still turns to her father for advice. How did he deal with racism, she wonders. How did he succeed when the odds were stacked against him?

The answers are rooted in William Lucas’s experience as a Black man from Harlem who made his living as a police officer, F.B.I. agent and judge. But Dr. Oney doesn’t receive the guidance in person. Her father has been dead for more than a year.

Instead, she listens to the answers, delivered in her father’s voice, on her phone through HereAfter AI, an app powered by artificial intelligence that generates responses based on hours of interviews conducted with him before he died in May 2022.

His voice gives her comfort, but she said she created the profile more for her four children and eight grandchildren.

“I want the children to hear all of those things in his voice,” Dr. Oney, an endocrinologist, said from her home in Grosse Pointe, Mich., “and not from me trying to paraphrase, but to hear it from his point of view, his time and his perspective.”…

… HereAfter AI was introduced in 2019, two years after the debut of StoryFile, which produces interactive videos in which subjects appear to make eye contact, breathe and blink as they respond to questions. Both generate answers from responses users gave to prompts like “Tell me about your childhood” and “What’s the greatest challenge you faced?”…

… StoryFile offers a “high-fidelity” version in which someone is interviewed in a studio by a historian, but there is also a version that requires only a laptop and webcam to get started. Stephen Smith, a co-founder, had his mother, Marina Smith, a Holocaust educator, try it out. Her StoryFile avatar fielded questions at her funeral in July.

According to StoryFile, about 5,000 people have made profiles. Among them was the actor Ed Asner, who was interviewed eight weeks before his death in 2021.

The company sent Mr. Asner’s StoryFile to his son Matt Asner, who was stunned to see his father looking at him and appearing to answer questions.

“I was blown away by it,” Matt Asner said. “It was unbelievable to me about how I could have this interaction with my father that was relevant and meaningful, and it was his personality. This man that I really missed, my best friend, was there.”…

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Doctor Who releases Christmas single The Goblin Song” and it’s on the Guardian’s radar. Warning for anthropophagy. Or maybe not. It’s goblins doing it.

For the first time in its 60-year history, Doctor Who is releasing an official Christmas single.

The Goblin Song, written by the show’s composer, Murray Gold, with lyrics by Russell T Davies, is raising money for Children in Need….

…The music video features a clip from the forthcoming Doctor Who Christmas special, in which Ncuti Gatwa will make his full-length debut as the Doctor, alongside Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday, who joins as a regular Tardis companion.

During the video, the Doctor and Ruby are seen crawling through a pirate ship while goblins sing about eating a baby. Gold described the song as “fiendishly catchy”, adding: “I don’t like these goblins – and you won’t either.”

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Ersatz Culture, Rob Thornton, Rose Embolism, Anne Marble, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]

Pixel Scroll 12/6/23 For The Scroll Is Hollow And I’ve Touched A Pixel

(1) END OF AN ERA. Kristine Kathryn Rusch signed off her influential weekly business blog on November 22. “Business Musings: All Good Things”.

…I wasn’t that desparate in 2009 and I’m certainly not that desperate now. As I noted in some recent blogs, my books are all in print. The books of my traditional friends? Not in print at all. Or if they are in print, my friends aren’t making a dime off of them.

It’s discouraging, but as I’ve seen over the past few years, people have dug in. It doesn’t matter that traditional writers now have to get a “real” job to make a living. Or that the changes in indie have made it possible for those of us who understand business to make a good living while writing what we love.

We’ve changed.

The world has changed.

And honestly, I’m not that interested in writing about the publishing industry weekly. There is no publishing industry anymore. There are different aspects of book publishing, all of which fascinate me, and none of which make me want to pontificate for a few thousand words every single week.

Then there’s my writing itself. In the spring, I made a list of the books clamoring to get out of my brain. The series that need finishing right now, the standalones I’ve been dying to write, the books I’ve intended to write since the turn of the century if not longer, as well as the short stories that rise to the top of my to-do list because I read an inspiring article or saw an amazing play.

I will have time to write all of that if I double down on my fiction writing. Or triple down. When I write fiction, I write a minimum of 1,000 new words per hour. The blog takes a minimum of 10 hours per week from idea to page, including the audio (which is maybe 20 minutes of that 10 hours). I love the audio. It’s fun.

The blog, not so much.

In fact it had become such a drag that I put it off until the last minute, and then have to give up even more fiction writing time to get it down.

And while the blog makes me more money per month than someone would earn making minimum wage (not counting all the nonfiction books I get out of it or the other perks), I could make more money if I write three novellas a year, whether I sell them to traditional markets or not.

The blog is self-sustaining financially, but it’s actively costing me money. My earnings as a fiction writer have gone up dramatically in the past fourteen years….

… Thirty dollars per hour writing a blog post that has little resale value or $1000 per hour writing stories that can sell for decades. It’s really a no brainer….

… Except…I do like noting things about the publishing industry, from time to time. Some things catch my attention and I want to discuss them. I will do that on my Patreon page, which I am not shutting down.    

I’ll be doing mostly short posts pointing out an article that writers might want to pay attention to, or commenting on some major change. I’m not going to do a long essay, unless I feel inspired….

(2) BUMPER CROP. Slashfilm reveals “Syfy Spent Thousands On Leonard Nimoy And William Shatner Star Trek Ads You Probably Missed”.

…Barry Schulman had been with the Sci-Fi Channel since its start, and he remembers the glory days in detail. He was interviewed for the indispensable book “The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years: From The Next Generation to J. J. Abrams,” edited by Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross, and he remembered the production of what was to be one of the more ambitious advertising tie-ins the network could have possibly received. It seems that the Sci-Fi Channel wrote and paid for a series of extended “Star Trek”-inspired interview-style infomercials to be hosted by Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner — Spock and Kirk themselves! — to run after individual episodes. 

Sadly, due to poor ratings, the ads were only sparsely seen….

Of course, programming “Star Trek” presented a technical problem. In the late 1960s, when the hour-long “Star Trek” originally aired on NBC, the broadcast ad breaks only totaled about 10 minutes, leaving 50 minutes of show. By the early 1990s, ad time had grown to 16 minutes, leaving only 44 minutes of show. That would mean any new broadcast of “Star Trek” would, by advertisers’ decree, need to be shaved down by six minutes. 

Shulman’s solution was to expand the “Star Trek” time slot from a 60-minute span to a 90-minute span, including all 50 minutes of “Trek” as well as whole ad breaks. He’d then pad out the remainder of the 90-minute slot with Shatner/Nimoy intro/outro segments. Brilliant….

… The good news is that you can actually watch all of these bumpers with Shatner and Nimoy on YouTube.

Here’s the video for the original Star Trek pilot, “The Cage”.

(3) FANAC.ORG ZOOM. The next Fan History Zoom session is scheduled for Saturday, December 9 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. If you would like to join, drop a note to [email protected].

APAS EVERYWHERE – Fred Lerner, Christina Lake, Amy Thomson and Tom Whitmore.

Since the first FAPA mailing in 1937, APAs have been a part of fannish life. There are topic specific apas, local apas, general interest apas, convention committee apas, letter substitutes and doubtless many more. Our panelists, all long time APA members, talk about their experiences with APA life: Why did you join the APA(s)? Did you APA live up to your expectations and why? Tell us about the APAs you’ve been part of, and tell us what makes them unique. (You can tell us about APAs you weren’t part of too!) Talk about the way the members of the APA related to each other, and the nature of that community. Compare the experience of an online community like LiveJournal or Facebook with your APA experience. The Cult was called the “13 Nastiest Bastards in Fandom”. Was it? What feels different about womens’ APAs? Are APAs now obsolete? Would you join a new APA today?

Future Zoom History sessions: 

  • January 20, 2024 – 2PM EST, 11AM PST and 7PM London GMT – An Interview with Joe Green, fan, s-f writer, NASA spokesman and educator.
  • February 17, 2024 – 7PM EST, 11 AM Feb 18 Melbourne AEDT – Wrong Turns on the Wallaby Track Part 2, with Leigh Edmonds and Perry Middlemiss
  • March 16, 2024 – 3PM EDT, 2PM CDT, 7PM London (GMT) – The Women Fen Don’t See – Claire Brialey, Kate Heffner, and Leah Zeldes Smith

(4) THE DOG IN THE NIGHT. “Arthur Conan Doyle secretly resented his Sherlock Holmes creation, says historian” reports the Guardian.

Arthur Conan Doyle secretly hated his creation Sherlock Holmes and blamed the cerebral detective character for denying him recognition as the author of highbrow historical fiction, according to the historian Lucy Worsley.

Doyle was catapulted from “obscurity to worldwide fame” after his crime stories began appearing in a magazine in 1891, Worsley writes in the Radio Times. Eleven years later he was awarded a knighthood.

Yet “beneath the surface he was a discontented man”, according to Worsley….

(5) MAJOR SFF EVENTS IN EUROPE IN 2024. [Item by Dave Lally.] The year 2024 has a number of major SF+F events, in Europe, approaching (and all dates given herein are inclusive).  And this info is primarily for those from outside the area (and I trust this data is of help).

Here is major SF+F event No 1 (and in the English Midlands of the UK):

EASTERCON 2024 — Fri 29 March – Mon 1 April we have, in the UK,  Eastercon / “Levitation” (the UK’s annual National SF Con:  Telford, just north of Birmingham).  

[And NOTA BENE, post Eastercon on Thu 4 April, there is the very long standing “One Tun” Central London SF fen meeting (Asimov came in 1974). Upstairs (private) bar 1800-> closing. THE BISHOPS FINGER (pub), London EC1A 9JR (for internet maps). Real craft ale/hot food. Order both on Ground floor. Food delivered later up to you. Nearest Tube: Barbican. Nearest Rail : Farringdon. Nearest Elizabeth Line (esp from Heathrow) : Farringdon ( /// Barbican  exit!!/// ). All  welcome: whether local-to-London or non locals just passing thru!! ]  

Nearest UK Rail Station to 2024 Eastercon : Telford {UK Rail Station code:  TFC}. There are Express InterCity trains from London Euston (if first visiting there, pre-Eastercon) but one should then change trains at Birmingham International { Station code: BHI } NOT Birmingham New St (and see below why, esp re TfW trains). 


Nearest Airport : Birmingham UK [ IATA code : BHX ],  then take the free air-rail shuttle from that Airport, to the local, next door train Station : Birmingham International (as above). There, catch a north-bound train to Telford. 

[If esp travelling from the States, it might be useful to fly to Shannon or to Dublin and then transfer onto a more local flight to BHX. Why? Cos on the return journey from either of those 2 Irish airports (and thanks to JFK +60 years ago), one pre-clears US formalities at those departure locations (the only two so far in Europe, which have them) and then one leaves one’s US airport as a standard, domestic passenger!] 


Especially useful, re UK train travel from { BHI } above,  is the long-distance train (run by Transport for Wales: TfW) which always starts from that Rail Station (usual final destination: ABERYSTWYTH, in mid-Wales). So seats to Telford are usually plentily available thereon, at that Station. Other northbound trains from { BHI } may only go to nearby Birmingham New St (in that City’s central area) or onto Wolverhampton, where one may otherwise then have to change trains anyway. And those other trains may get heavily used by Birmingham commuters, who may block seats for longer-journey-travelling passengers. 

And UK rail data (times, fares etc) are available on: nationalrail(dot)co(dot)uk.  The “green” way to travel..!!

[By the way, that TfW train eventually goes, on splitting much further up the line,  past Portmeirion (!), tho that famous SF (Prisoner) site is much, much further away in North West Wales (oh and see LocationCon data I will provide later, re the proposed visit  –on Tue 6 August– to that venue, pre- and on the way to, Glasgow Worldcon 2024).] 

Eastercon 2024’s website :  Levitation 2024 — The 2024 British National Science Fiction Convention.

( And, as always,  non-UK fen are very welcome indeed at all SF+F events in Europe, incl the UK’s annual NatSFCon- Eastercon..)

(6) LIKE SAND THROUGH AN HOURGLASS. Inverse is warming up the audience for the release of the next Dune movie on March 1, 2024. “’Dune 2’s First 10 Minutes Restores a Classic Scene From The Book — With a Twist”. Spoilers at the link.

When Dune: Part One hit in 2021, fans immediately noticed one change from both the original 1965 novel and the 1984 feature film. Instead of an opening narration from Princess Irulan, Dune: Part One began with a voiceover from Chani (Zendaya). This inversion smartly centered the story of Dune: Part One from the perspective of the Fremen, at least partially. And now, with Dune: Part Two hitting in 2024, the opening of the film will honor the opening of the original book. But this time, the content of the narration will be decidedly different.

Minor spoilers ahead for the first 10 minutes of Dune: Part Two.

At CCXP 2023 in São Paulo, Brazil, on December 3, 2023, during a Dune: Part Two panel, audiences were treated to several preview scenes, including the first 10 minutes of the movie. Back in 2021, the first 10 minutes of Part One were also teased in special screenings, so this kind of preview seems to now be a tradition ahead of the launch of a new Dune movie.

(7) MISSING A NUMBER. Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw was there: “The Moonwalkers: A Journey With Tom Hanks review – a gobsmackingly huge space spectacle”.

Tom Hanks is the narrator and co-writer of this colossal and immersive multimedia family entertainment event or next-level school trip, about Nasa’s historic Apollo moon landings and the planned new Artemis missions. It’s taking place at Lightroom, the innovative new digital art performance venue at London’s Kings Cross – recently the site of Bigger And Closer, an immersive show about David Hockney.

With the audience gathered in the darkened arena-type area, seated on little upholstered double-stools dotted about, Tom Hanks’s likably folksy and nerdily enthusiastic voiceover booms out telling us that this floor space is the size of Mission Control, Houston. Soon, gobsmackingly huge photo images of the moon’s surface and our own planet Earth are flashed up around the walls, also great film footage of the astronauts bouncing and floating, and all with the cathedral vastness and crystal clarity that they have probably always deserved but never before got from TV screens or even movie screens….

… But the strangest omission is the lack of any mention of Apollo 13, the near-disaster rescued with magnificent ingenuity and resourcefulness by the astronauts and ground crews, which Tom Hanks himself almost single-handedly turned into a key moment of American history with his performance as astronaut Jim Lovell in Ron Howard’s film.

Apollo 13 is, after all, why Tom Hanks is narrating this….

(8) NORMAN LEAR (1922-2023). The resume of TV’s Norman Lear even included a few items of genre interest. “Norman Lear, Whose Comedies Changed the Face of TV, Is Dead at 101” in the New York Times.

Norman Lear, the television writer and producer who introduced political and social commentary into situation comedy with “All in the Family” and other shows, proving that it was possible to be topical as well as funny while attracting millions of viewers, died on Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 101.

In 2003, he helped write a few episodes of “South Park,” the taboo-breaking animated series that was the “All in the Family” of its day. (The show’s creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, have said that their bile-spewing character Eric Cartman is partly based on Archie Bunker.)

Mr. Lear turned his attention back to movies in 1982, when he, Mr. Yorkin and Jerry Perenchio bought Avco Embassy Pictures. The newly renamed Embassy Communications released films, including … the acclaimed mock documentary “This Is Spinal Tap” (1984), directed by the “All in the Family” alumnus Rob Reiner.

In 1985… Mr. Lear founded Act III Communications, named to signify the third act of his life. Act III’s most notable productions were two other Rob Reiner films, “Stand by Me” (1986) and “The Princess Bride” (1987)….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

1975 –Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War. Anyone here who has not read Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War should now leave. Really should as I’m going to discuss it.

It was published by St. Martin’s Press forty-eight years ago with the cover illustration not being credited by ISFFB. 

It would win a Hugo at MidAmeriCon, plus a Nebula and a Ditmar, and be nominated for a Prometheus Award. 

Haldeman said in a Guardian review of 2011 that “It’s about Vietnam, because that was the war the author was in”.  

It was sixteen years after Starship Troopers came out and I thought that Haldeman said it was written as a reaction to that novel but the Guardian quote contradicts that. The reviewer there thinks that much of the look and feel of the book comes from Heinlein’s novel but I didn’t feel that was true. Do you? 

According to the Authors note to my epub Open Road edition of 2008, “This is the definitive edition of The Forever War.” It looks like a novella titled “You can never go back again” that Bova wouldn’t publish at Analog because he thought it was “too downbeat” and therefore wasn’t in the first edition is now included in the middle section of the novel. 

Now for its excellent Beginning…

‘Tonight we’re going to show you eight silent ways to kill a man.’ The guy who said that was a sergeant who didn’t look five years older than me. So if he’d ever killed a man in combat, silently or otherwise, he’d done it as an infant. 

I already knew eighty ways to kill people, but most of them were pretty noisy. I sat up straight in my chair and assumed a look of polite attention and fell asleep with my eyes open. So did most everybody else. We’d learned that they never scheduled anything important for these after-chop classes. 

The projector woke me up and I sat through a short tape showing the ‘eight silent ways.’ Some of the actors must have been brainwipes, since they were actually killed. After the tape a girl in the front row raised her hand. The sergeant nodded at her and she rose to parade rest. Not bad looking, but kind of chunky about the neck and shoulders. Everybody gets that way after carrying a heavy pack around for a couple of months.

 ‘Sir’—we had to call sergeants ‘sir’ until graduation—‘most of those methods, really, they looked … kind of silly.’

‘For instance?’ ‘Like killing a man with a blow to the kidneys, from an entrenching tool. I mean, when would you actually have only an entrenching tool, and no gun or knife? And why not just bash him over the head with it?’ 

‘He might have a helmet on,’ he said reasonably. 

‘Besides, Taurans probably don’t even have kidneys!’ 

He shrugged. ‘Probably they don’t.’ This was 1997, and nobody had ever seen a Tauran; hadn’t even found any pieces of Taurans bigger than a scorched chromosome. ‘But their body chemistry is similar to ours, and we have to assume they’re similarly complex creatures. They must have weaknesses, vulnerable spots. You have to find out where they are.

‘That’s the important thing.’ He stabbed a finger at the screen. ‘Those eight convicts got caulked for your benefit because you’ve got to find out how to kill Taurans, and be able to do it whether you have a megawatt laser or an emery board.” She sat back down, not looking too convinced.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 6, 1911 Ejler Jakobsson. (Died 1984.) His first publications, edited with his wife, were The Octopus and The Scorpion in 1939 which were definitely of a pulpish nature.

He has responsibility for Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories briefly before they shut down production due to paper shortages. When Super Science Stories was revived in 1949, Jakobsson was named editor until the magazine again (and finally) ceased publication in 1951.  I’ve never read that magazine. Who here has? 

He was an editor for Graphic Books in the 1950s. Jakobsson returned to editing in 1969, when he took over Galaxy and If, succeeding Frederik Pohl. He worked to make the magazines more up to date according to SFE with the help of Judy-Lynn del Rey and Lester del Rey. He left the magazines in 1974 and was succeeded by Jim Baen.

SFE says that “During Jakobsson’s editorship the following anthologies were published (his name did not appear on their title pages): The Best from Galaxy Vol I (anth 1972) edited by The Editors of Galaxy Magazine; The Best from If (anth 1973) edited anonymously; The Best from Galaxy Vol II (anth 1974) edited by The Editors of Galaxy Magazine; and The Best from If Vol II (anth 1974) edited by The Editors of If Magazine.” None of these are currently in-print. 

He also wrote a handful of short fiction according to ISFDB, all with Edith Jakobsson. The titles, such as “Corpses on Parades”, “Coming of The Unborn Things” and “Satan’s Toy Monsters”, suggest they were horror writers. These were never gathered into a collection. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) FAN MAIL FOR FLASH GORDON. “1980’s FLASH GORDON: Movie of the (Wonderfully) Impossible!” at 13th Dimension.

…It’s a famous story by now—one of the great What If?s in all of pop culture—that in the early 1970s, George Lucas tried to buy the rights to Flash Gordon. His failure to do so led (indirectly) to the creation of Star Wars, and popular entertainment would never be the same. De Laurentiis had first wanted Federico Fellini(!) to direct, then moved onto Nicolas Roeg(!!), finally settling on journeyman director Mike Hodges and screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr. (who, besides helping develop the Batman TV series, wrote the 1976 King Kong remake for De Laurentiis). With a budget of $27 million (around $100 million today), De Laurentiis was, as usual, going big.

He’s a miracle!

After a magnificently exciting opening credits scene (scored to Queens’ iconic, propulsive theme music, and peppered with art from the comic strip), we jump right to the action—by the 20-minute mark we’re already on Mongo.

Every sci-fi/fantasy film post-Star Wars bears its influence, visually and tonally. But De Laurentiis’ personality was still so big and forceful that Flash Gordon hits a sweet spot between what a big budget, modern sci-fi movie was supposed to feel like in 1980, and the more idiosyncratic, phantasmagorical, Pop Art feel of the 1960s. Almost everything in Flash Gordon is a practical effect—the retro-futuristic spaceships and weaponry, the Art Deco sets, and the costumes that look mighty uncomfortable for the actors to wear….

(13) SUBMISSION WINDOW. Chris Barkley wanted to make sure I didn’t miss “The Magazine of Horror” by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, published in 2020 by Apex Magazine. I’m glad he sent the link.

… PS: as an aside, I was wondering and didn’t want to add something so silly to the main body of my cover letter. It’s silly really. The worries of a newbie writer. I heard that your magazine is the greatest horror magazine and will only publish the greatest horror story at a time, and in the lifetime of the published writer, will publish no other story, until the accepted writer expires. Also, that should a story be accepted, the current story is deleted and the displaced writer dies. What is worse, I heard that all those rejected by your magazine also die. This is of course all just silly rumours. I notice that your magazine only has one story on it, despite its ridiculously high pay rate of a hundred thousand dollars per story…

(14) DAY AND NIGHT, YOU ARE THE ONE. “Chronobiologist and Nobel Laureate in Medicine Michael Rosbash: ‘Lack of sunlight during the day is worse than electric lighting at night’” in El País USA Edition.

Q. One of the things that flies and privileged people have in common is napping and sleeping at night. What is the biological purpose of sleep and of these intermediate pauses during the day?

A. We do not know. Memories are consolidated during sleep and neuronal morphology is modified during sleep. All that happens, but I do not think that is the major purpose of sleep. We do not know what fly and human sleep, for example, have in common. My guess is that it is related to metabolism, such as recharging ATP [adenosine triphosphate, a key energy molecule in cells]. The brain is the largest consumer of ATP; perhaps there is a metabolic need for recharging….

(15) ALL GLORY IS FLEETING. The New York Times tells how “George Santos Uses Cameo Videos to Make, of All Things, an Honest Buck”. (You can view his Cameo videos here: George Santos.) (Though it’s possible Bowen Yang is an even better Santos, as proven by his imitation in Saturday Night Live’s “George Santos Expelled Cold Open” last weekend.)

…Three days after George Santos was expelled from the House of Representatives, he sat in front of a camera to address the American people.

Well, a few American people. The ones willing to pay Mr. Santos — the former congressman who stands accused on federal fraud charges of stealing money from campaign donors for personal expenses — hundreds of dollars a pop on the video app Cameo.

“Hey, Sarah,” Mr. Santos said in one video. “Sometimes work sucks. I mean, let’s talk about bad days, huh? Last Friday wasn’t so great for me, either.”

It was a rare moment of truth for Mr. Santos, who lied to voters and his colleagues about where he went to high school, going to college, being a volleyball star, working on Wall Street, having Jewish ancestry and family ties to the Holocaust and the Sept. 11 attacks, among other things.

There was a time when Mr. Santos expressed regret for some of those falsehoods. His videos on Cameo suggest that time has passed.

“Hey, Harper! I love that you are such a dedicated student at N.Y.U.,” Mr. Santos says in one, before pausing, smirking and chuckling. “You know,” he adds, cocking his eyebrows: “My … not-so-real M.B.A.”

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. I don’t think dogs are rules lawyers by nature the way Ryan George makes them out to be in “When Dogs See A Christmas Tree”, but that’s where the humor comes from in this video. Tell the internet to go fetch it for you.

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

Pixel Scroll 11/16/23 Mobius, Larryus, And Curlyus, The Three Time Stooges

(1) THEY’RE THE TOPS. Charlie Jane Anders’ picks as “The 10 best science fiction and fantasy novels of 2023” are live at the Washington Post. (Registration required.)

People sometimes say science fiction basks in optimism for a better future, while fantasy is about nostalgia for an imaginary past. But this year’s most notable fantasy books worked to uncover historical crimes, while science fiction warned of coming evils.

The good news? The best sci-fi and fantasy books of 2023 will give you hope and strength in the toughest times….

This is Anders’ favorite:

‘To Shape a Dragon’s Breath,’ by Moniquill Blackgoose

This remains my favorite book of the year. An Indigenous girl, Anequs, becomes the first person on Masquapaug island to hatch a dragon’s egg in generations, which means she’s forced to attend the dragon-rider academy run by the Anglish colonizers. If Anequs can’t learn to behave like a proper Anglish girl, her adorable baby dragon will be put to death. A fascinating alternate history of North American colonization and a nuanced investigation of who gets left out of “civilization” form a worthy backdrop to a coming-of-age story that is cozy and hair-raising in equal measure.

(2) NOW AN EX-X USER. John Scalzi told Whatever readers today, “Yup, Done With the Former Twitter”.

Elon Musk, the most unfathomably insecure and pathetic billionaire the world has ever seen, has gone mask-off antisemite, and that means that while I had already reduced my participation on the former Twitter, now I’m off it entirely. I’m keeping the account so that no one can swoop in and take a screenname that’s been associated with me for the last fifteen years, but no more posting, and no more participation. Until and unless the service is sold to someone who isn’t Musk (and possibly even then, depending), I’m out, I’m through, I’m done….

4. Leaving the former Twitter is also at this point more than a little bit of a relief. I’ve noted above that I restricted my use of it recently to just career news and updates, but even doing that has become an increasing depressing and unpleasant chore, like having a storefront in a part of town where the windows are increasingly soaped up and the sidewalks are full of trash, and there are a bunch of Nazis on the corner, leering at cars driving by. It was no fun, in a place where I used to have fun. It was, finally, time to go. So I’ve gone….

Best Fan Writer Hugo finalist Örjan Westin also announced today that Micro SF/F is off of X:

And Thomas M. Wagner of SFF180 : Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Reviews will drop off tomorrow.

(3) WHERE TO FIND NEXT YEAR’S VIRTUAL WORLDCON. The Glasgow 2024 Worldcon has announced what platforms they will use for their “Online Convention” experience.

… Our technical platform will be based on Hopin Events from RingCentral for video streaming and Discord for text interaction and community forums.

We will be providing more details on the platform in January 2024…

For those who will be attending the Worldcon in person, Glasgow 2024 also has posted their “Disease Mitigation Policy”. It’s too long and detailed for an excerpt to serve, so please click through to read the document.

(4) A BOLT FROM THE BLUE. “The quest for Zeus’ lightning begins in new ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ trailer” at MSN. Premieres Dec. 20 on Disney+.

Adapted from Rick Riordan’s “The Lightning Thief,” season 1 of the new Disney series sets our demigods on their first big journey — and introduces Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hermes.

What do you do when one of the most powerful weapons in existence goes missing? If you’re the Greek gods of Olympus, the answer is simple: Have a bunch of kids go look for it….

Based on Rick Riordan‘s best-selling book series of the same name, Percy Jackson and the Olympians portrays a world in which the children of gods and humans gather at a sanctuary called Camp Half-Blood to hone their skills and learn how to defeat monsters such as the Minotaur, who makes its debut in the trailer. Season 1 will be drawn from Riordan’s first book in the series, The Lightning Thief….

(5) JMS Q&A. Gizmodo interviews “J. Michael Straczynski on Harlan Ellison’s Epic Sci-Fi Legacy”.

io9: How did you narrow down Ellison’s work for this collection? Considering how prolific and highly lauded he is, I’d think you couldn’t even collect his award winning stories without filling two massive volumes.

J. Michael Straczynski: It was a process. I started with the stories that won the most awards—and there are a lot of those. Then I asked, “What are the fan favorites?” and “Which were Harlan’s favorites?” Then, after aggregating all the material, I wrestled with the combination of stories that would provide readers with the best perspective on Harlan’s body of work. Because he wrote all kinds of stories, I think it’s important for readers to understand the breadth of his work. From the horror and bite of The Whimper of Whipped Dogs and I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, to the humor of I’m Looking for Kadak, to the gentle fantasy of On the Downhill Side, and the semi-autobiographical storytelling in All The Lies That Are My Life—they’re all there. I wanted the stories to serve as an entry point for readers who might not be familiar with Harlan’s fiction, and my hope is that these stories will drive readers to his other works….

(6) EXTERMINATE! IN LIVING COLOUR. “Doctor Who reveals first look at new colourisation of The Daleks” – and the Radio Times posted BBC images from the work.

… The original episode’s black-and-white visuals have been colourised for the new version and it will also feature a new score from composer Mark Ayres and new sound design.

The new colourisation will air on BBC Four on Thursday 23rd November – the date that marks six decades since Doctor Who’s first transmission….

(7) STEM SCHOLARSHIP CREATED. The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’  AIAA Foundation is partnering with Blue Origin’s nonprofit Club for the Future to provide a $10,000 scholarship each year to one high school senior who has demonstrated an interest in pursuing a career in aerospace engineering. The scholarship is known as “AIAA and Club for the Future’s Resilient Student Scholarship.” Students can apply here. Applications are due by January 31, 2024.

Any high school senior enrolling in a STEM program at a college, university, or technical institution who matches other qualifying criteria will be eligible. In addition to the $10,000 award, the recipient will be matched with an AIAA professional member to serve as a mentor. The scholarship will be offered to high school seniors who are AIAA members; high school membership in AIAA is free. The scholarship is specifically designed to empower and inspire students who have faced unique challenges, including but not limited to: students with disabilities; from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds, gender minorities, or disadvantaged socioeconomic circumstances; and first-generation college students.

Students who apply for this scholarship will be asked to describe why they are interested in aerospace and write about their vision for their future career in the aerospace field. They also must submit a short personal essay on their values of compassion, tenacity, and resilience, and how they have used one or all of these traits to problem-solve or accomplish something in their life.

This scholarship follows other support for aerospace young talent development provided to the AIAA Foundation by Blue Origin’s Club for the Future, including a $1 million grant in 2021 for educational programs….

(8) ASIMOV’S AD. Is there a way they can deliver on this? Three of these four writers are dead.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 16, 1939 Tor Åge Bringsværd, 84. Writer, Editor, and Fan from Norway who co-founded Norwegian fandom. He and his university friend Jon Bing were huge SF readers in a country where SF publishing did not exist, so they founded, in 1966, the still-existing Aniara science fiction club and its fanzine at Oslo University. In 1967, they produced an SF short story collection Ring Around the Sun, which is known as the first science fiction by a Norwegian author. In 1967, they persuaded Gyldendal, the leading Norwegian publisher, into launching a paperback SF line with themselves as editors. Between then and 1980, this imprint released 55 titles which included the first Norwegian translations for many authors, such as Aldiss, Bradbury, Le Guin, and Leiber. He quit university to become a full-time SF writer, and since then has accumulated an impressive array of awards, including the Norwegian Academy Award, the Ibsen Award, and the Norwegian Cultural Council Award. (JJ)
  • Born November 16, 1942 Milt Stevens. Law Enforcement  Analyst, Fan, Conrunner, and Filer. Excerpted from Mike Glyer’s tribute to him: “Milt attended his first Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society meeting in 1960 at the age of 17. By 1970 Milt was President of LASFS – he signed my membership card when I joined. He was somebody to look up to who also became a good friend. Milt won the Evans-Freehafer Award for service to the club in 1971. He was on the LASFS, Inc. Board of Directors for a couple of decades, and was Chair for around five years. After the original LASFS clubhouse was bought in 1973 Milt dubbed himself the ‘Lord High Janitor,’ having taken on the thankless task of cleaning the place. Milt was among the club’s few nationally-active fanzine publishers and fanpoliticians. He put out an acclaimed perzine called The Passing Parade. He coedited and bankrolled later issues of my fanzine Prehensile. For many years he was a member of the Fantasy Amateur Press Association (FAPA). He was Chair of LA 2000, the original Loscon (1975), and later the 1980 Westercon. And he co-chaired L.A.Con II (1984), which [held] the attendance record. He was made Fan GoH of Loscon 9 and Westercon 61.” (Died 2017.) (JJ)
  • Born November 16, 1952 Candas Jane Dorsey, 71. Canadian writer who’s the winner of the Prix Aurora Award, and the Otherwise Award for gender-bending SF, for her Black Wine novel. She’s also won a Prix Aurora Award for her short story, “Sleeping in a Box”.  She’s one of the founders of SF Canada was founded as an authors collective in the late Eighties as Canada’s National Association of Speculative Fiction Professionals. At the present time, she appears to have little available from the usual digital suspects. 
  • Born November 16, 1952 Robin McKinley, 71. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast was her first book. It was considered a superb work and was named an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Rose Daughter is another version of that folktale, whereas Spindle’s End is the story of Sleeping Beauty, and Deerskin and two of the stories that you can find in The Door in the Hedge are based on other folktales. She does a superb telling of the Robin Hood legend in The Outlaws of Sherwood. Among her novels that are not based on folktales are SunshineChalice and Dragonhaven. Her 1984 The Hero and the Crown won the Newbery Medal as that year’s best new American children’s book. She was married to Peter Dickinson from 1991 to his death in 2015, they lived together in Hampshire, England where she still lives. They co-wrote two splendid collections, Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits and Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits. I’d be very remiss not to note her Awards, to wit a Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword, then a Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown, a World Fantasy Award for Anthology/Collection for Imaginary Lands, as editor, a Phoenix Award Honor Book for Beauty and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for Sunshine. Impressive indeed!
  • Born November 16, 1962 Darwyn Cooke. Canadian comics artist, writer, cartoonist, and animator. His work has garnered myriad Eisner, Harvey, and Joe Shuster Awards. He did the art on Jeph Leob’s Batman/The Spirit one-off, and did everything including the cover art on the most delicious Catwoman: Selina’s Big Score. Cooke adapted for IDW five of Donald Westlake’s Richard Stark penned hardboiled Parker novels. (Died 2016.)
  • Born November 16, 1976 Lavie Tidhar, 47. The first work I read by him was Central Station which won a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. It certainly deserved that accolade! The next work by him I experienced was The Bookman Histories in which Mycroft Holmes is murdered and, well, everything of a pulp nature gets tossed into alternate history England. Both absolutely brilliant and completely annoying at the same time. Unholy Land is another of his fascinating alternate histories. The last work I read by him was Neom, a sequel of sorts to Central Station, which might be one of his best works, period. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) SCION OF GAMERGATE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The man just convicted of assaulting Nancy Pelosi’s husband has blamed his initial radicalization on anti-feminist gamers on YouTube. “Man Who Attacked Nancy Pelosi’s Husband Says Anti-Feminist Gaming YouTubers Radicalized Him” at Gamespot.

David DePape, who assaulted former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul, has stated that anti-feminist gaming content on YouTube led him to radicalization.

A report from KQED quotes DePape’s testimony on the third day of the federal trial against him, in which he described the process of his radicalization. DePape claimed that he once politically opposed Trump, until he began consuming right-wing conspiracy media. DePape was an avid gamer who encountered videos about the misogynistic harassment campaign Gamergate while looking up walkthroughs and tips.

DePape said, “I’d look up a [strategy to defeat a video game] boss, and it’d be a total different person, and these people would talk about how toxic Anita Sarkeesian is, over and over and over. I wanted to find out what was going on here. I wanted to get both sides of the story.”

This led to him consuming more and more right-wing internet content. DePape would listen to YouTubers and podcasters like James Lindsay, Jimmy Dore, and Glenn Beck for at least six hours a day, and even longer on weekends. While listening, he would play video games on mute in the Richmond garage where he lived without basic amenities like a bed and shower….

(12) USE THE TORT, LUKE. “Star Wars developer strikes back at class-action claim” reports Axios.

A class action complaint over a Star Wars video game’s missing content should be dismissed in part because the lead plaintiff already got a rebate, the game’s developer has argued in court.

Why it matters: The novel suit is seeking damages because a game maker didn’t deliver on the promise they offered when promoting their game.

Details: The case, Malachi Mickelonis v. Aspyr Media, Inc., revolves around the cancellation of the “Restored Content DLC,” a free update that had been planned for the 2022 Nintendo Switch re-release of beloved 2004 role-playing game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II.

  • The update would have restored storyline content that was infamously cut before the original game shipped. Those missing bits have so far been available only on the PC version via a mod made by fans who salvaged the content from the game’s code.
  • Aspyr announced in June it was canceling the DLC, and offered download codes for other Star Wars games to compensate.
  • In July Mickelonis sued, saying he “felt completely duped” and sought damages over alleged violations of California consumer law. Late last month, the suit was modified to include 17 more plaintiffs.

Driving the news: Aspyr Media asked a court last month and this month to toss out the suit, according to court filings reviewed by Axios….

(13) AI SPEAKS FOR THE DEAD. The late French singer Edith Piaf will narrate her own biopic with a voice re-created by AI. The Piaf estate approved. “Edith Piaf AI-Generated Biopic in the Works at Warner Music” in Variety.

“La Vie en robots”? More than 60 years after her death, legendary French singer Edith Piaf will come to life in a new biopic that will use AI to recreate her voice and image.

Warner Music Group announced that it has partnered with Piaf’s estate for “Edith,” set to be a 90-minute film set in Paris and New York from the 1920s to the ’60s. (Piaf, known as the “Sparrow of Paris,” died Oct. 10, 1963.) The film will be narrated by an AI-generated facsimile of Piaf’s voice and promises to “uncover aspects of her life that were previously unknown.”

“Animation will provide a modern take on her story, while the inclusion of archival footage, stage and TV performances, personal footage and TV interviews will provide audiences with an authentic look at the significant moments of Piaf’s life,” the music company said in announcing the project….

(14) ARSENIC AND OLD PAGES. American Bookbinders Museum delivers a webinar about “The Poison Book Project” on November 18.

Dr. Melissa Tedone will discuss the discovery of arsenic in Victorian-era bookcloth and how this discovery influences our understanding of Euro-American bookbinding materials and manufacture. The Poison Book Project investigates the use of toxic heavy metals (including arsenic, chromium, lead, and mercury) in mass-produced 19th-century books. Come learn how and why toxic compounds were used in bookbinding and how the Poison Book Project is using crowd-sourced data to enhance our understanding of this aspect of book history. Melissa will also share how to identify potentially ‘poison books,’ tips for safer handling, and how interested bibliophiles can contribute to this research.

… Melissa is the lead conservator of the Poison Book Project, an investigation of toxic colorants in nineteenth-century Victorian bookcloth, and a founding co-chair of the Bibliotoxicology Working Group. “BibTox” is an international cohort of conservators, conservation scientists, librarians, and health and safety professionals who are developing best practices for the identification and management of historical bookbinding collections with potentially toxic components.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Fanac.org has posted a video conversion of a Sixties fan film “Frankenstein…[a not so gory version]” produced in 8mm by the Delta SF Film Group.

This 1963 fannish production of “Frankenstein … [a not so gory version]” from the Delta SF Film Group, starts with a panorama across a mad scientist’s lab featuring “Entrails of Aldiss” and “bheer”. It’s an entertaining and complete story in less than 4 minutes, starring British fans of the day. You’ll be (un)amazed at the special effects, the pathos of the story and its shocking ending. It’s good fun, and Delta group went on to produce many more short films. Bill Burns, who provided this and other Delta Films tells us “The individual films date from 1963 to 1970, and were made on 8mm silent film to which a magnetic stripe was later added and the sound dubbed on. They were then shown mercilessly at club meetings and Eastercons, and suffered accordingly.” For more about the Delta SF Film Group, see the Fancyclopedia article and see the text of Bill’s talk at Manunicon (2016 Eastercon) at https://efanzines.com/Alien/indexd.htm

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

Pixel Scroll 11/12/23 Baby Pixels Are Ever So Adorable Wrapped In Their Scrolls While Being Loved By Filers One And All

(1) PLAY ALONG AT HOME. [Item by Dann.] One of those question/surveys was running around on X the other day.  This one seemed a bit more interesting to me.  Filers might find this an interesting game to play as well.

Omitting collected works, who are the top 5 authors in your library by number of books on your shelves?

Stephen King ~15
E.E. Knight ~12
Christopher Nuttall 11
Dave Duncan 11
Miles Cameron 9

I included both physical and ebooks in my count.  Most of my Stephen King and E.E. Knight books were physical, so I don’t have an accurate count close to hand.

After considering it a little longer, I would probably have to include Piers Anthony on the list.  I owned a whole stack of his books before I figured out that some of his content was a little…erm…troubling.  And I wouldn’t want to drop Miles Cameron off of the list in favor of Piers.

If shared universes with multiple authors are included, then Dragonlance would easily make it into the top five.  Sorry, Miles.  That one would bump you off.

What are your top 5 authors of books you own?

(2) EYEWITNESS TO THE ENDEAVOUR AWARD. Thanks to Ruth Sachter for sharing this photo of Sara A. Mueller accepting the Endeavour Award at OryCon on November 10.

Sara A. Mueller

(3) THE SHAPE OF WESTERCON TO COME. Kevin Standlee has written up two very different proposals for dealing with “The Future of Westercon” – one is a clean death, the other continues the con in a changed format.

As I hope most people following me know, Westercon has fallen on hard times. While Tonopah was successful and fun for most of the 158 people who attended, it was affected by COVID and by BayCon moving its dates onto the 4th of July Weekend, apparently just ignoring that Tonopah’s Westercon existing. The 2021 SeaTac and 2023 Anaheim Westercons dissolved, handing in their franchises to LASFS (which owns the Westercon service mark), and LASFS held both Westercons 73 and 75 in conjunction with Loscon. We once again this year have no bids filed to host the two-years-hence Westercon, although anyone could show up before the voting ends on the Friday evening of Loscon 49/Westercon 75. Assuming that doesn’t happen, the Westercon 75 Business Meeting at Loscon 49 will have to decide what to do about site selection. However, I tend to think that before that, the meeting needs to give some thought to the future of Westercon.

It appears to me that there are two scenarios: Retire Westercon or make some changes to given a chance to restart, perhaps in a different form. I therefore have prepared a Google doc with two scenarios. You should be able to read this document without needing a Google account.

Scenario 1 is to Retire Westercon, and is simply a motion to repeal the Westercon bylaws.

Scenario 2 makes five separate changes to the Westercon Bylaws to disconnect it from the US Independence Day Weekend (even loosely), removes the Westercon zone restrictions (but retains the 104°W longitude eastern boundary in North America), and changes all of the hard-coded dates to dates relative to the date of the administering Westercon. This would at least allow in theory Westercon to be awarded to various conventions in Western North America who wanted to host it, or also allow “independent” Westercons to be organized.

(4) ZOOMING INTO FANHISTORY. Fanac.org has announced four upcoming Fan History Zoom sessions coordinated by webmaster Edie Stern. The first session on the list is:

APAs Everywhere

Fred Lerner, Christina Lake, Amy Thomson and Tom Whitmore

December 9, 2023 – 2PM EST, 11AM PST and 7PM London GMT

Since the first FAPA mailing in 1937, APAs have been a part of fannish life. There are topic specific apas, local apas, general interest apas, convention committee apas, letter substitutes and doubtless many more. Our panelists, all long time APA members, talk about their experiences with APA life: Why did you join the APA(s)? Did you APA live up to your expectations and why? Tell us about the APAs you’ve been part of, and tell us what makes them unique. (You can tell us about APAs you weren’t part of too!) Talk about the way the members of the APA related to each other, and the nature of that community. Compare the experience of an online community like LiveJournal or Facebook with your APA experience. The Cult was called the “13 Nastiest Bastards in Fandom”. Was it? What feels different about womens’ APAs? Are APAs now obsolete? Would you join a new APA today?

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

The following three sessions will be:

  • January 20, 2024 – 2PM EST, 11AM PST and 7PM London GMT – An Interview with Joe Green
  • February 17, 2024 – 7PM EST, 11 AM Feb 18 Melbourne AEDT – Wrong Turns on the Wallaby Track Part 2, with Leigh Edmonds and Perry Middlemiss
  • March 16, 2024 – 3PM EDT, 2PM CDT, 7PM London (GMT) – The Women Fen Don’t See – Claire Brialey, Kate Heffner, and Leah Zeldes Smith

(5) WHEN SILENCE IS NOT GOLDEN. Deadline has the quotes: “’Coyote vs Acme’ Composer Slams Warner Bros Over Pic’s Axing; Director ‘Devastated’”.

Coyote vs. Acme composer Steven Price has blasted the David Zaslav cost-cutting Warner Bros Discovery administration for axing the Looney Tunes hybrid live-action animated film.

Price, who won an original score Oscar for Warner Bros. tentpole Gravity in 2014 took to X to say “Had a lot of fun scoring Coyote Vs Acme. As no-one will be able to hear it now, due to bizarre anti-art studio financial shenanigans I will never understand, here is a bit of behind the scenes footage of our “Meep Meep” Roadrunner choir, with apologies to Tchaikovsky…

(6) PICK SIX. Guardian critic Lisa Tuttle’s “The best recent science fiction, fantasy and horror – reviews roundup” is devoted to The Scandalous Confessions of Lydia Bennet, Witch by Melinda Taub; Mothtown by Caroline Hardaker; Saturnalia by Stephanie Feldman; Writing the Future, edited by Dan Coxon and Richard V Hirst; and She’s a Killer by Kirsten McDougall.

(7) GOLDSMITHS PRIZE. The winner of the 2023 Goldsmiths Prize is Benjamin Myers’ Cuddy, a novel that incorporates poetry, prose, play, diary and real historical accounts, to retell the story of the hermit St. Cuthbert, the unofficial patron saint of the North of England. The Goldsmiths Prize “celebrates fiction at its most novel.”

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 12, 1917 Dahlov Ipcar. Though primarily an artist and you really should go visit her website, she wrote three amazing young adult novels between 1969 and 1978 which are The Warlock of Night, The Queen of Spells and A Dark Horn Blowing. She lived but thirty miles north of here and I was privileged to meet her a few times. Lovely lady! (Died 2017.)
  • Born November 12, 1929 Michael Ende. German author best known for The Neverending Story which is far better than the film. Momo, or the strange story of the time-thieves is a charming if strange novel worth your time. The rest of his children’s literature has been translated from German into English mostly by small specialist presses down the years. Unlike The Neverending Story and Momo, which I’ve encountered, I’ve not read any of these. (Died 1995.)
  • Born November 12, 1943 Wallace Shawn, 80. Probably best remembered as the ferengi Grand Nagus Zek on Deep Space Nine, a role he only played seven times. He was also Vizzini in the beloved Princess Bride, and he played Dr. Elliott Coleye in the My Favorite Martian film. He also was the voice of Rex in the Toy Story franchise. SFE notes that all of his plays were at least loosely genre and one of them, “The Fever”, was filmed. So yes, he’s a writer as well. 
  • Born November 12, 1945 Michael Bishop, 78 . David Pringle included his Who Made Stevie Crye? novel in Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels, An English-Language Selection, 1946-1987, high praise indeed. Though slightly dated feeling now, I’m fond of his Urban Nucleus of Atlanta series. And Philip K. Dick is Dead, Alas is simply amazing.
  • Born November 12, 1964 Eric Nylund, 59. His best work I think is  Jack Potter/Signal sequence of  Signal to Noise and A Signal Shattered, though the Gods Quintet in my humble opinion tries but fails to venture into Amber Chronicles greatness. 
  • Born November 12, 1976 Richelle Mead, 47. Best known for her Georgina Kincaid series, the Vampire Academy franchise and its spin-off series Bloodlines, and the Dark Swan series. I’ve only read Succubus Blues by her but it’s a truly great read and I recommend it strongly. Spirit Bound won a Good Reads Award.  

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • PHD Comics is a Star Wars crossover.

(10) THERE WAS A PLAN, IT JUST DIDN’T WORK. Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro’s article “Box Office: The Marvels $47M Lowest for MCU – What Went Wrong” has a long list of things that broke down, and this is one item on it:

…No, The Marvels meltdown isn’t about superhero fatigue. It’s about Disney’s overexposure of the Marvel Cinematic Universe brand on Disney+, and those moth holes are beginning to show: Keep what’s meant for the cinema in cinemas, and keep what’s meant for in-homes in the home. Meaning, this whole crossover streaming-into-film master plan isn’t working, nor is it really connected in a jaw-dropping way, and with Ms. Marvel not being one of the OTT services better series (ala WandaVision and Loki season one), there’s a whole quad of fans who either didn’t catch Ms Marvel, or who were too turned off by it that they sure as heck don’t want to see The Marvels.

But more to the point, Marvel Studios, The Marvels — with its crossover streaming series blah-blah — looks like it was built to be seen in homes, not to get audiences off the couch….

(11) AND YET… No matter what happened to the latest movie, Gizmodo remembers “How Carol Danvers Became Marvel Comics’ Flagship Hero”.

Captain Marvel was dead, to begin with. More than one Captain Marvel, if we want to be perfectly accurate about it. By 2012, the Marvel Comics hero that bore the company name had been relaunched in no fewer than six different series, and seen a total of three separate characters take on the name. More than three decades in, it seemed increasingly that Captain Marvel was the flagship character who just couldn’t manage to hoist a flag—and the Marvel powers that be were determined to change things once and for all.

What followed was a strange saga of missteps, false starts, and roads not taken, that finally landed on one of the most unexpected heroes of all: a neglected, half-appreciated, and similarly unsuccessful character called Carol Danvers. This is the inside story of how an ambitious first-time writer, a bullheaded editor, and a stylish designer created the most unexpected Marvel success of their era.

To understand why Captain Marvel was in need of saving, we need to understand something about why the character existed in the first place. Put indelicately, Captain Marvel was born as a trademark in need of a character. In 1967, Marvel Comics and its owner, a company called Magazine Management, realized that the name Captain Marvel—once held by the venerable Fawcett Comics character now known as Shazam!—had lapsed into disuse over the course of the decade. Fearing that another enterprising publisher would scoop up a name that should, by all rights, be identified with Marvel, a character was hastily rushed out by management fiat. Cobbled together by Stan Lee and artist Gene Colan (the latter of whom hated the character, and claimed no involvement in his conception), the good Captain was an alien spy of the Kree race, creatively named Mar-Vell, who turned traitor to his people to fight as a costumed defender of Earth. In such ways are great ideas born….

(12) BRONTË BIRTHPLACE CROWDFUNDING SUCCESS. “Campaigners save Bradford birthplace of Brontë sisters” reports the Guardian.

Campaigners have saved the birthplace of the Brontë sisters and are now fundraising to turn the building into a cultural and education centre – helped by a man with a link to the literary family.

Nigel West, who traces a family connection to Charlotte Brontë’s husband, made a “significant donation” to the crowdfunding appeal, which aims to transform 72-74 Market Street in Thornton, Bradford, into a tourist destination.

Around a million visitors a year travel to Haworth, to visit the house that writers Charlotte, Anne and Emily shared with their father, church minister Patrick, and their wayward brother, Branwell, and campaigners hope to transform the Thornton house, which went on sale this year, into a similar attraction….

(13) FROM BARBIE TO ASLAN? The Guardian’s Ben Childs wonders “Can Greta Gerwig bring a new kind of magic to Netflix’s Narnia Chronicles?”

You might think Greta Gerwig an unusual choice to take on CS Lewis’s Narnia stories for Netflix. And at first glance, few would argue with you. Beginning her career as an actor in mumblecore movies such as Baghead, Hannah Takes the Stairs and Greenberg before transitioning into indie cinema as a film-maker with Lady Bird, Gerwig became a household name with this year’s $1.4bn-grossing, conservative-baiting, slyly subversive comedy fantasy Barbie, a movie that will be remembered as the most topically adroit cinematic event of 2023, despite ostensibly being about a child’s plastic toy.

So what on earth might Gerwig do with Aslan, Eustace Grubb and Mr Tumnus the faun? Gerwig is down to make at least two from Lewis’s seven-book series for Netflix, and the streamer’s chairman Scott Stuber hinted to Variety this week that the films might be more traditional than we might think. “She grew up in a Christian background,” Stuber said. “The CS Lewis books are very much based in Christianity. And so we just started talking about it. We don’t have IP, so when we had the opportunity [to license] those books or the [Roald Dahl stories] we’ve jumped at it, to have stories that people recognise and the ability to tell those stories.” Stuber said Gerwig was currently working out the “narrative arc” of the films, but implied heavily that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe would be a central focus.

This is pretty much expected, but the idea that Gerwig might zero in on the traditional religious imagery, when she’s known for a movie that went against the grain with such impish if warm-hearted attitude, is less predictable….

(14) FAN CONCEPT TRAILER. From Darth Trailer, Andor Season 2.

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

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

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

When did you first learn about the real Hild?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DAVID D. LEVINE

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

ROBERT LEVY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The programme is very Orwellian.

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

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

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

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

2nd prize: “Cladosporium¨, by Isak Laestander

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

There also were five “honorable mentions”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

(11) COMICS SECTION.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can listen to it here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pixel Scroll 9/19/23 In Pixelated Ink Which Glows Under Starlight

(1) OPEN LETTER AGAINST BOOK BANS. “Ariana Grande, Garbage, Natasha Lyonne Sign Open Letter Against Book Bans”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Ariana GrandeGuillermo del ToroPadma Lakshmi, Roxane Gay, Gabrielle Union, Sandra Cisneros, Amanda Gorman, Margaret Cho and Ron Perlman are among the signatories of an open letter calling on creative communities in Hollywood and beyond to leverage their voices to stop book bans.

Upwards of 175 actors, musicians, authors, comedians, reality stars, models, media personalities, academics, activists and more have signed the open letter spearheaded by Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton and published Tuesday via public advocacy organization and political action committee MoveOn Political Action….

The letter’s release coincides with National Banned Books Month and comes amid a corresponding public petition from MoveOn, which will connect signatories with future advocacy opportunities around book bans. Such opportunities include methods of support or events related to MoveOn’s Banned Bookmobile, which launched a multicity tour this summer after measures touted and supported by Gov. Ron DeSantis resulted in an increase in banned and restricted books in Florida schools, according to The Associated Press.

In October, the bookmobile will once again distribute free banned books, in addition to hosting events held in conjunction with Crooked Media’s live Pod Save America and Lovett or Leave It podcasts, and author readings in Georgia, Virginia and South Carolina as part of a broader “Read Banned Books” initiative….

Here is the full text of the letter from Moveon.org.

As artists, creators, entertainers, and activists, we recognize and are horrified by the threat of censorship in the form of book bans.

This restrictive behavior is not just antithetical to free speech and expression but has a chilling effect on the broader creative field. The government cannot and should not create any interference or dictate what people can produce, write, generate, read, listen to, or consume.

We cannot stress enough how these censorious efforts will not end with book bans. It’s only a matter of time before regressive, suppressive ideologues will shift their focus toward other forms of art and entertainment, to further their attacks and efforts to scapegoat marginalized communities, particularly BIPOC and LGBTQ+ folks. 

We refuse to remain silent as one creative field is subjected to oppressive bans. As artists, we must band together, because a threat to one form of art is a threat to us all.

We are calling on everyone to join us in pushing back against these book bans, support free and open creative industries—regardless of personal or ideological disagreements—and use their voice at the local level to stop these bans in their school districts. There is power in artistic freedom, and we refuse to allow draconian politicians to take that from us.

(2) CHENGDU VENUE PROGRESS PHOTOS. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] Here from a Weibo post are a couple more photos of the interior of the Chengdu Worldcon venue.  It looks quite different to my eyes from the earlier images, not sure if it’s the lighting, angle, or if they’ve applied some coating – the Google Translated hashtags include “#金molstone# #石 CrystalWallboard#”, whatever those might be.

(3) CORA FINDS A CRACK IN THE FOUNDATION. Cora Buhlert is doing episode reviews of Apple+ series Foundation. (Access all of them here.) The latest is “Foundation travels ‘Long Ago, Not Far Away’ and blows up its own premise”beware spoilers.

…Warning! There will be spoilers under the cut!

“Long Ago, Not Far Away” was a really good episode of Foundation. Well, at least ninety-five percent of it were really good. Unfortunately, the last five minutes or so not only ruined the episode, but the entire series….

(4) TEXAS BOOK RATING LAW BLOCKED. Publishers Weekly tells how “In a Blistering Opinion, Judge Officially Blocks Texas Book Rating Law”.

After nearly three weeks of waiting, federal judge Alan D. Albright delivered a major victory for freedom to read advocates, issuing a substantive 59-page written opinion and order officially blocking Texas’s controversial book rating law, HB 900, from taking effect. The decision comes after Albright orally enjoined the law at an August 31 hearing and signaled his intent to block the law in its entirety.

Signed by Texas governor Greg Abbott on June 12, HB 900 would have required book vendors to review and rate books for sexual content under a vaguely articulated standard as a condition of doing business with Texas public schools. Under the law, books rated “sexually explicit” (if the book includes material deemed “patently offensive” by unspecified community standards) would be banned from Texas schools. Books rated “sexually relevant” (books with any representation of sexual conduct) would have required written parental permission for students to access them. Furthermore, the law would have given the state the ultimate power to change the rating on any book, and would have forced vendors to accept the state’s designated rating as their own, or be barred from selling to Texas public schools….

…“The Court does not dispute that the state has a strong interest in what children are able to learn and access in schools. And the Court surely agrees that children should be protected from obscene content in the school setting,” Albright concluded. “That said, [the law] misses the mark on obscenity with a web of unconstitutionally vague requirements. And the state, in abdicating its responsibility to protect children, forces private individuals and corporations into compliance with an unconstitutional law that violates the First Amendment.”

In defending the law, Texas attorneys had moved to dismiss the suit, arguing that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the law, and that the state has the right to regulate vendors who wish to do business with Texas public schools—essentially asserting that rating books would simply be part of the cost of doing business in Texas. Albright demolished those arguments in his opinion, and harshly criticized the ill-conceived law in denying the motion to dismiss.

At one point, Albright observed that the burden placed on vendors by the law are “so numerous and onerous as to call into question whether the legislature believed any third party could possibly comply.” And he called out state attorneys for their inability to answer basic questions over the course of two hearings. “Generally, the government was confused and unaware of how the law would actually function in practice,” Albright observed, citing “approximately 40 instances during the August 18th hearing (‘Hearing 1’) where the government either did not know how the law would function or did not have an answer as to what the effects of certain provisions were.”…

(5) PREVIEW GREG JEIN COLLECTION. Heritage Auctions takes you “Inside the Sensational Sci-Fi Collection of Model-Making Legend Greg Jein” in this post for The Intelligent Collector.

Greg Jein was a giant among the Hollywood illusionists who created small things to fill big screens. The model- and miniature-maker never left his hometown of Los Angeles. Yet he was never earthbound: Jein spent decades introducing us to aliens who brought their motherships to Earth, and he sent us soaring time and again into space, the final frontier.

Jein, who died at 76 last year, was nominated for Academy Awards and Emmys, hailed as a magician and beloved as a mentor. Among Hollywood’s special effects wizards, Jein was heartbeat and historian, craftsman and custodian. His life’s story might have made the perfect film.

A fan first, foremost and forever, he made models when he was little. By the time Jein reached his mid-30s, he was a twice-Oscar-nominated maker of motherships, airplanes, city blocks and other models for Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 1941, both directed by Steven Spielberg.

“Greg loved what he did, creating things with his hands,” says Jerry Chang, Jein’s first cousin. “He could see in his mind things other people couldn’t.”

On October 14-15, Heritage Auctions is honored to offer the entirety of Greg Jein’s vast and unparalleled assemblage, which includes his prized trove of models and memorabilia and the cherished miniatures he made. The landmark Greg Jein Collection Hollywood Platinum Signature® Auction

There’s also a gallery of “The Most Revealing Behind-the-Scenes Photos From the Greg Jein Collection” at the link.

(6) NEW SOPHIE BURNHAM TRILOGY. DAW Books has acquired Sargassa, the first book in a trilogy from debut author Sophie Burnham. Set in an alternate North America called Roma Sargassa, where the Roman Empire never fell, readers will plunge into a landscape of political intrigue, queer romance, and impending revolution. The acquisition encompassed three books with World English rights and was agented by Maria Napolitano at the Jane Rotrosen Agency.

Sophie Burnham

…Executive Editor Navah Wolfe expressed immense enthusiasm about the acquisition, stating, “Sophie’s impressive worldbuilding, compelling characters, and insightful social commentary make Sargassa an exceptional addition to DAW’s repertoire. We are immensely excited to introduce their work to the world.”

In the book, North America has always been under Roman rule, and the death of the Imperial Historian thrusts his children, Selah and Arran, into the heart of a conspiracy. An underground rebel faction seeks to obtain the Iveroa Stone and use its secrets to reveal the empire’s obscured past and dethrone its dominion. As Selah works to unlock the Stone’s enigmas, she faces a monumental decision: to uphold or challenge the historical narratives of the Roman rule in Sargassa…

Sophie Burnham is a queer nonbinary novelist and screenwriter, backed by an Acting BFA and a concentration in Playwriting from Syracuse University. Honored with a We Need Diverse Books writing grant and a placement in ScreenCraft’s 2020 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Screenplay competition, Burnham’s debut novel promises to enthrall and enlighten readers. Follow them on Twitter at @sophielburnham.

(7) CON OR BUST FUNDRAISER. The Con or Bust Prize Sweepstakes is selling entries.

Dream Foundry’s Con or Bust program issues cash grants to fans and creatives of color to help connect them with SFFH genre events and resources. Con or Bust sends folks to conventions, workshops, classes, and other networking or professional opportunities. Grants can be used toward travel, registration, food, equipment, and other expenses associated with attending the event.

Con or Bust’s fall fundraiser is in full swing! We have lots of bookish prizes, including a 1 year subscription to Apex Magazine, two $50 Weightless Books gift certificates, libro.fm credits, and more. Oh yeah, and there’s a PS5, too.

Fine print:

The Sweepstakes is open only to the following individuals (each, an “Eligible Participant”):

Individual legal residents of, and physically located within, the United States or Canada, and who are 18 (except 19 in Alabama and Nebraska and 21 in Mississippi) years of age as of the date of entry or of legal age of majority or older in their country of residence…

(8) DOING TIE-IN RESEARCH. David Mack gives a detailed example of the kind of research he needed to do for a Star Trek media tie-in novel. Thread begins here.

(9) FREE READ. The 2023 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award-winning story, “The Hitchhiker on Souls’ Road” by A. A. Nour, is currently available to read at the Baen website.

A. A. Nour with award

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 19, 1922 Damon Knight. Author, editor, critic. Kate Wilhelm who was his wife is also regrettably no longer with us. His 1950 short story, “To Serve Man” was adapted for The Twilight Zone. His first story, “The Itching Hour,” appeared in the Summer 1940 number of Futuria Fantasia which was edited and published by Ray Bradbury.  It’s hard to briefly sum up his amazing genre career but let me note he was a member of the Futurians and a reviewer as well as a writer. Novels of his I’ll single out are Hell’s PavementThe Observers and Special Delivery but don’t think I’m overlooking his brilliant short stories. The Encyclopedia of SF notes that “In 1995, he was granted the SFWA Grand Master Award – which from 2002 became formally known, in his honour, as the Damon Knight Grand Master Award. He was posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2003.” (Died 2002.)
  • Born September 19, 1928 Adam West. Best known as Batman on that classic Sixties series, he also had a short role in 1964’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars as Colonel Dan McReady. He last played the role of Batman by voicing him in two animated films, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face. He also most excellently voiced The Gray Ghost in an episode of the Kevin Conroy voiced B:TAS, “Beware the Gray Ghost”. (Died 2017.)
  • Born September 19, 1928 Robin Scott Wilson. Founder, with Damon Knight and others, of the Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop. He edited Clarion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction and Criticism from the Clarion Writers’ WorkshopClarion II and Clarion III. He wrote one genre novel, To the Sound of Freedom (with Richard W. Shryock) and a lot of short fiction. He’s not in stock at all at the usual suspects. (Died 2013.)
  • Born September 19, 1933 David McCallum, 90. His longest running, though not genre, role is pathologist Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on NCIS where he appeared in every episode of the first fifteen seasons.  (With series lead Mark Harmon’s departure from the show in the fall of 2021 (Season 19), McCallum became the last remaining member of the original NCIS cast.) Genre wise, he was Illya Nickovitch Kuryakin on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and the British series Sapphire & Steel where he was Steel and Joanna Lumley was Sapphire. He played the lead in a short-lived U.S. version of The Invisible Man. He was Dr. Vance Hendricks on Babylon 5’s “Infection” episode.
  • Born September 19, 1947 Tanith Lee. I hadn’t realized that she wrote more than ninety novels and three hundred short stories in her career. Ninety novels! She even wrote two of the Blake’s 7 episodes as well. I am more fond of her work for children such as The Dragon Hoard and The Unicorn Series than I am of her adult work. She has garnered well-deserved Stoker and World Fantasy Awards for Lifetime Achievement. (Died 2015.)
  • Born September 19, 1952 Laurie R. King, 71. She’s on the Birthday Honors list for the Mary Russell series of historical mysteries, featuring Sherlock Holmes as her mentor and later partner. Hey it’s at least genre adjacent.  She’s also written at least one genre novel, Califia’s Daughters.
  • Born September 19, 1972 N. K. Jemisin, 51. Her most excellent Broken Earth series has made her the only author to have won the Hugo for Best Novel in three consecutive years. Her “Non-Zero Probabilities” was nominated for the Best Short Story losing out to Will McIntosh‘s “Bridesicle” at Aussiecon 4. “Emergency Skin” I’m pleased to note won the Best Novelette Hugo at CoNZealand. Yeah I voted for it. And at Chicon 8 she won a Best Graphic Story or Comic Hugo for Far Sector, written by her, with art by Jamal Campbell.

(11) FANHISTORY ZOOM. The next FANAC Fan History Zoom session will be about “Boston Fandom in the 60s” with Tony Lewis, Leslie Turek and Mike Ward, moderated by Mark Olson. It will happen September 23,2023 at Time: 4PM EDT, 1PM PDT, 9PM BST (UK), Sept 24 at 6AM Melbourne, AU. If you want access, please send a note to [email protected]

(12) COVER REVEAL. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Theory podcast Acid Horizon announced on Twitter/X the new cover for the upcoming Zer0 Books release Against the Vortex: Degrowth Utopias in the Seventies and Today by Anthony Galluzzo.

(13) LIVE ACTION, NOT ANIMATED. “Disney World forced to close rides after finding wild bear in park” reports Entertainment Weekly.

Disney World guests were just treated to a new kind of Country Bear Jamboree.

EW can confirm that a wild bear was found inside the park Monday morning, prompting the closure of at least 10 attractions inside the Frontierland, Adventureland, and Liberty Square areas. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission tells EW that biologists with FWC’s Bear Management Program, as well as FWC Law Enforcement officers, are “working on capturing and relocating the bear,” who they say was likely moving through the park in search of food….

(14) CHANGE THE TITLE, CHANGE THE GENRE. Lincoln Michel had fun with this idea – you can too.

(15) ON THEIR OWN TWO FEET. [Item by Nina Shepardson.] Slate has a list of “The 40 best stand-alone TV episodes that can be watched on their own.” Several are from genre TV shows, including Star Trek, The X-Files, and The Twilight Zone. I’d be interested to hear whether other Filers think Slate picked the right episodes…

Whether we’re living in the age of Peak TV or Trough TV, one thing is clear: There’s too much TV. Thankfully, not every show has to be watched in its entirety. One of the best things about television is its serialized nature, the continuous thread that strings viewers along from one episode to the next. It’s a cliché that prestige television is the new novel precisely because of the way that many dramas develop their characters and plots over many hours of storytelling. But an older virtue of TV is its brevity—the way a scenario can be introduced and resolved within the space of an hour, or half that—and some of the best episodes are less like chapters in a long-running novel than like short stories or short films. These are stand-alone episodes….

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Ersatz Culture, Ben Bird Person, Nina Shepardson, Joe Siclari, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 9/5/23 Scrolling Away In Pixelville, Looking For My Lost Emails Of Posts

(1) IAFA 45 GUESTS. The 45th International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts will meet March 13-16, 2024 at the Orlando Airport Marriott Lakeside in Florida. Guests of Honor are Mary Turzillo and C. E. Murphy, and Guest Scholars are Woppa Diallo and Mame Bougouma Diene. The theme is “Whimsy”.  

Whimsy, as a genre of fantastic and speculative fiction, celebrates the playfulness, imagination, and the sheer joy of storytelling. It embraces the fantastical, the absurd, and the unconventional, creating worlds where the ordinary collides with the extraordinary. Whimsical narratives often blur the boundaries between reality and fantasy, challenging conventional storytelling norms and inviting readers into a realm of limitless possibilities. This call for papers invites scholars and writers to explore the various facets of whimsy within the genre of fantastic and speculative fiction. 

(2) FANAC.ORG’S UPCOMING ZOOM EVENTS. All interest fans are invited to attend the next Fan History Project New Zoom History Series. The coming year’s programs will again cover a wide range of fannish areas from Boston to Australia, from women you should know but probably don’t, to how Amateur Press Associations have been a backbone of fandom and they’ll talk with some of the best fan artists ever. The next session is:

Boston in the 60s, with Tony Lewis, Leslie Turek and Mike Ward, moderated by Mark Olson
September 23, 2023 at 4PM EDT (New York), 1PM Pacific (PDT), 9PM London (BST) and 6AM Sept 24 in Melbourne

Boston in the 60s was a generative hotbed of fannish activities, with long lasting consequences. The first modern Boskone was held in 1965 by the Boston Science Fiction Society, as part of its bidding strategy for Boston in ’67. NESFA began in 1967, and the first Boston Worldcon was held in 1971. MIT provided a ready source of new fans, and they made themselves heard in fanzines, indexes, clubs and conventions (and invented the micro-filk). What was Boston fandom like in the 60s? How was it influenced by MIT? Who were the driving forces and BNFs? What were the impacts of the failed 67 bid? What made Boston unique?

Please write to Edie Stern, [email protected], FANAC Webmaster to sign-up for the “Boston in the 60s” program.

Schedule for Future sessions

  • September 23, 2023 – 4PM EDT, 1PM PDT, 9PM London – Boston in the 60s, with Tony Lewis, Leslie Turek and Mike Ward, moderated by Mark Olson
  • October 15, 2023 – Evolution of Art(ists) – Grant Canfield, Tim Kirk and Dan Steffan
  • December 9, 2023 – 2PM EST, 11AM PST and 7PM London GMT – APAs Everywhere – Fred Lerner, Christina Lake, Amy Thompson and Tom Whitmore
  • February 17, 2024 – 7PM EST, 11 AM Feb 18 Melbourne AEDT – Wrong Turns on the Wallaby Track Part 2, with Leigh Edmonds and Perry Middlemiss
  • March 16, 2024 – 3PM EDT, 2PM CDT, 7PM London (GMT) – The Women Fen Don’t See – Claire Brialey, Kate Heffner, and Leah Zeldes Smith

To be included on Fanac.org’s Fannish Viewers List and be notified of all their programs, write to [email protected] with ZOOM in subject line.

Eighteen past Zoom History Sessions have covered many aspects of science fiction fan history. All are available on their YouTube Channel here along with nearly 150 other programs.

(3) SMALL WONDERS. Issue 3 of Small Wonders, the new magazine for science fiction and fantasy flash fiction and poetry, is now available on virtual newsstands here. Co-editors Cislyn Smith and Stephen Granade bring a mix of flash fiction and poetry from authors and poets who are familiar to SFF readers as well as those publishing their first-ever piece there.

The Issue 3 Table of Contents and release dates on the Small Wonders website:

  • Cover art: “Magic Turtle”, by Patricia Bingham
  • “Festival” (flash fiction), by Christine Hanolsy (4 Sep)
  • “Seducing the Supervillain” (poem), by H. V. Patterson (6 Sep)
  • “So You Want to Eat an Omnalik Starfish” (flash fiction), by Brian Hugenbruch (8 Sep)
  • “Once In As Many Lifetimes” (flash fiction), by Luc Diamant (11 Sep)
  • “Shears” (poem), by Devan Barlow (13 Sep)
  • “A Gardener Teaches His Son to Enrich the Soil and Plan for the Future” (flash fiction), by Jennifer Hudak (15 Sep)
  • “How My Sister Talked Me Into Necromancy During Quarantine” (flash fiction), by Rachael K. Jones (18 Sep)
  • “Let Us Dream” (poem), by Myna Chang (20 Sep)
  • “To Persist, However Changed” (flash fiction), by Aimee Ogden (22 Sep)

    Subscriptions are available at the magazine’s store and on Patreon.

    (4) STARFIELD. NPR takes listeners “Inside the making of Bethesda’s Starfield — one of the biggest stories ever”. (The game site is here.)

    It’s a Wednesday night, and I’ve found my way to Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Its surface is harsh and uninviting. If I were to remove my spacesuit, I’d die. But inside an airlocked space station, a small colony of human settlers call this place home.

    Bill, a cheerful tour guide, greets me at the kitschy museum, full of artifacts from Earth. He explains that in 2130, Titan was the first place humans colonized after they left the blue planet. Down a flight of stairs, there’s an industrial-looking set of rooms filled with rusty shipping containers. This, we soon learn, is where some of Titan’s inhabitants live.

    “Space is extremely limited,” Bill remarks. “So you’ll notice some overflow here.”

    A woman nearby sees this area differently, suggesting things might be a bit more complicated than Bill has let on.

    “The crates are what we call the living quarters of the poor people,” she says. “Like me.”

    Welcome to Starfield, a new video game decades in the making. The studio behind it says it has 3 million words of dialogue and includes more than 1,000 environments players can explore across multiple galaxies.

    It’s no exaggeration to say this might be one of the biggest stories ever told — in any medium. It also has real life consequences for the developers who are banking on the game’s success being as grand as their vision.

    … Design director Emil Pagliarulo, who oversaw much of the game’s lore and quest design, understands that with a video game like Starfield, fun comes first.

    “We’re making a video game,” he says. “We’re not making Anna Karenina.”

    So Pagliarulo and the team made it their mission to create an “escapist fantasy” where everything fun that could conceivably happen in space is possible: smuggling cargo; getting in your spaceship and defending the Federation; being a space pirate….

    (5) TURTLEDOVE FAMILY UPDATE. Harry Turtledove explains his new appearance while telling readers the medical problems his wife, Laura Frankos, is dealing with. Thread starts here.

    (6) BEYOND THESE PRISON WALLS. [Item by Steven French.] It’s perhaps not such a surprise but fantasy novels can help inmates cope with prison life: “How I turned prisoners’ misery into reading pleasure: the brilliant story of Bang Up Books” in the Guardian.

    …Dan Barwell spent nine months in … HMP Wandsworth for drug offences, and his cell was a regular stop for the book trolley run by the prison chaplain Liz. “I read 164 books in prison, which is more than I had in my whole life before that. I got really into fantasy novels, the Wheel of Time series were over 1,000 pages each, which ate up a lot of hours,” he told me. “When I was reading I was no longer inside.”

    I recently visited the open prison where our books are sorted and shipped, and spoke to some of the men working on the scheme. They understandably get first dibs on new titles as a perk of the job, and thus have hotly contested positions. One of our recruits showed me a glossy hardback of a computer game bible that he’d recently obtained, and what excited him most was that it was a brand-new copy, with all the smell, texture and feel of pages that were hot off the press. So much in prison is old, worn and tired, so there is a real joy to holding something that has never been opened before….

    (7) APPEAL TO A HIGHER COURT. [Item by John King Tarpinian.] In 1931, 14-year-old Forrest J. Ackerman wrote a letter to Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of Tarzan and the John Carter of Mars series, informing him of an argument he had with his teacher regarding Edgar’s books.

    (8) MICHAEL D. TOMAN OBITUARY. By Alan Brennert [reprinted with permission.] My friend Michael D. Toman—science fiction writer, reference librarian, and the kindest, most generous man I have ever known—passed away sometime last week in his sleep, of natural causes, only a month shy of his 74th birthday. His body was discovered by his longtime friend William F Wu on September 2.

    I met Michael at the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop in 1973; it was a definitive moment in his life, as it was for many of us. He had a voracious, eclectic appetite to read and to learn: he could discuss Proust and Dostoyevsky as easily as he could the nuances of Toho Godzilla movies (he wrote a wonderful unpublished poem called “Seven Ways of Looking at Godzilla”) and, of course, sf and fantasy, which he loved. We bonded instantly and became close friends and confidants for the next fifty years.

    Michael D. Toman

    He was a fine writer, especially adept at literary pastiche, and his stories appeared in Science Fiction Emphasis #1 edited by David Gerrold, Cold Shocks edited by Tim Sullivan, Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine edited by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Fantasy Tales, Fantasy Macabre, and the French anthology Univers 13. His story “Quarto” was purchased by Harlan Ellison for The Last Dangerous Visions, and in the 2000s Harlan gave him permission to submit part of it to a writing competition judged by John Updike. Updike awarded Michael’s story first prize and Michael was thrilled to receive it in person from an author whose work he had long admired. The story has been dropped from the forthcoming TLDV, but I hope to find a publisher for it; it’s a hell of a good story.

    But what is largely unknown about Michael is the degree of support he championed other writers, usually behind the scenes. Michael brought Harlan Ellison’s story “The Man Who Rowed Christopher Columbus Ashore” to the editors of The Best American Short Stories. It was Ellison’s first appearance in this distinguished series, and it would likely not have happened but for Michael.

    When I was working on the 1980s Twilight Zone, Michael recommended two stories to me—Bill Wu’s “Wong’s Lost and Found Emporium” and Greg Bear’s “Dead Run”—that we promptly adapted into fine episodes. He championed my own work, especially my novel Moloka’i, emailing hundreds of “suggestions to purchase” to libraries across the country, helping to sell out the small hardcover print run. He bought classified ads in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction to promote the work of our mutual friend Mel Gilden and also championed the work of his friend Ron Kurchee. As a librarian he bought titles by Michael Bishop, Theodore Sturgeon, R.A. Lafferty, and many more, hoping to bring them new readers. He loved books and loved sharing them with others.

    Michael is survived by his sister Christine, and by scores of friends who treasured his sense of humor and his kindness. Goodbye, Michael. Paulette and I will always love you, and always miss you. You made this world a better place.

    (9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

    [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

    • Born September 5, 1914 Stuart Freeborn. If you’ve seen Yoda, and of course you have, this is the man who designed it, partly based on his own face. Besides being the makeup supervisor and creature design on the original Star Wars trilogy, he did makeup on The OmenDr. Strangelove2001: A Space Odyssey and all four of the Christopher Reeve-fronted Superman films. (Died 2013.)
    • Born September 5, 1936 Rhae and Alyce Andrece. They played twin androids in I, Mudd, a classic Trek episode I’d ever there was one. (And really their only significant role.) Both appeared as policewomen in “Nora Clavicle and the Ladies’ Crime Club” on Batman. That’s their only genre other appearance. They appeared together in the same seven shows. (They died 2009 and 2005.)
    • Born September 5, 1939 Donna Anderson, 84. She was Mary Holmes in On The Beach, based on Neville Shute’s novel. She also appeared in, and I kid you not, Sinderella and the Golden Bra and Werewolves on Wheels. The first is a Sixties er, the second is a Seventies exploitation film. She last shows up in a genre role series in The Incredible Hulk
    • Born September 5, 1939 George Lazenby, 84. He is best remembered for being James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. His turn as Bond was the shortest among the actors in the film franchise and he is the only Bond actor not to appear beyond a single film. (He was also the youngest actor cast as Bond, at age 29, and the only born outside of the British Isles.) Genre wise, he also played Jor-El on Superboy and was also a Bond like character named JB in the Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. film. He voiced the Royal Flush King in a recurring role in the Batman Beyond series. 
    • Born September 5, 1940 Raquel WelchFantastic Voyage was her first genre film, and her second was One Million Years B.C. (well, it wasn’t exactly a documentary) where she starred in a leather bikini, both released in 1966. She was charming in The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers. She has one-offs in BewitchedSabrina the Teenage WitchThe Muppet ShowLois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanHappily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child and Mork & Mindy. (Died 2023.)
    • Born September 5, 1946 Freddie Mercury. Now you know who he was and you’re saying that you don’t remember any genre roles by him. Well there weren’t alas. Oh, Queen had one magnificent role in the 1980 Flash Gordon film starring Sam J. Jones, a film that has a seventy percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. But I digress as only cats can do. (Prrrr.) Queen provided the musical score featuring orchestral sections by Howard Blake. Most of Blake’s score was not used. Freddie also composed the music for the first Highlander film. And Freddie was a very serious SJW. He cared for at least ten cats throughout his life, including Delilah, Dorothy, Goliath, Jerry, Lily, Miko, Oscar, Romeo, Tiffany and Tom. He was adamantly against the inbreeding of cats and all of them except for Lily and Tiffany, both given to him as gifts, were adopted from the Blue Cross. (Died 1991.)
    • Born September 5, 1959 Carolyne Larrington, 64. Norse history and culture academic who’s the author of The Land of the Green Man: A Journey Through the Supernatural Landscapes of the British Isles and Winter is Coming: The Medieval World of Game of Thrones. She also wrote “Norse gods make a comeback thanks to Neil Gaiman – here’s why their appeal endures” for The Conversation.

    (10) MISSION PROBABLY POSSIBLE. Cass Morris continues the detailed account of her adventures at Disney’s Star Wars-themed Starship Halcyon at Scribendi: “Day One on the Halcyon, Part 2”.

    4:55pm: Lt Croy slid up into my DMs! I tried to play it as coy as possible (such as the pre-set dialogue options will allow). I actually gave a scoundrel answer to one of his questions, because I didn’t want to pledge loyalty to him or give away my affiliation with the Resistance.

    5:30pm: Captain Keevan followed up with a message about making a deal with Gaya to capture and split some coaxium on its way to the First Order. At this point I realized I was going to have a fine line to dance, since I very much wanted to help the Captain and Raithe and Gaya.

    5:40ish: Completed a task for Lenka, overwriting some systems on the ship to help hide information from Croy. We needed to cover up some tweaks to the personnel files, because as it turns out, mechanic/engineer Sammie wasn’t actually crew with the Chandrila Star Line! He was a new Resistance recruit that Lenka brought on-board….

    (11) REBEL APPREHENDED. “Mark Hamill’s First Star Wars Meeting With George Lucas Ended In The Back Of A Cop Car” and Slashfilm has the story.

    …Can you imagine? Plus, the movie wasn’t out yet, so it’s not like he could just say, “But do you know who I am? I’m Luke Skywalker!” Not that Mark Hamill is a guy who would do that, but still. It obviously worked out, but that’s quite a way to start….

    Funny they should frame it that way because a year before the film came out Mark Hamill was at the 1976 Worldcon, hanging around the Star Wars exhibit, where he told LA’s Bill Warren, “I’m the star of a major motion picture only nobody knows it!” I’ve never forgotten that.

    (12) LAST WORD. “’Healthy or downright weird?’: how I helped publish my husband Christopher Fowler’s posthumous book” by Pete Chapman at the Guardian. “My author spouse never let me read anything he wrote before it was finished. But after his death from cancer, I found myself choosing funeral flowers at the same time as covers for his memoir, Word Monkey.

    It is strange to be married to an author. At least, it was to me. I inhabited a corporate world, whereas my husband Chris – professionally known as Christopher Fowler – wrote more than 50 novels, from thrillers and crime fiction to fantasy and horror. I was impressed when we started dating and I found out he wrote the immortal line for my favourite film, Alien: “In space no one can hear you scream.” It was not something with which he particularly liked to be associated and he did not trumpet it. He wanted people to remember what he considered to be his real work: his books.

    The cancer diagnosis came as a shock. It also came the week before lockdown. It was a very strange period, and one I’m not going to talk about – Chris does that very beautifully in his book Word Monkey. I could never do a better job of it than him. What I can do is talk about what happened afterwards….

    (13) I REALLY DON’T KNOW CLOUDS AT ALL. “Neptune’s Clouds Have Vanished, and Scientists Think They Know Why” says the New York Times.

    Each planet of the solar system has its own look. Earth has aquamarine oceans. Jupiter has panchromatic tempests. Saturn has glimmering rings. And Neptune has ghostly clouds — at least, it used to. For the first time in three decades, the electric-blue orb is almost completely cloud-free, and astronomers are spooked.

    Neptune’s cloud cover has been known to ebb and flow. But since October 2019, only one patch of wispy white has been present, drifting around the planet’s south pole.

    “It was the first time anybody had ever seen this,” said Imke de Pater, an astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley. “There’s just nothing there. What’s going on?”

    To crack the case of the vanishing clouds, scientists spooled through 30 years of near-infrared images of Neptune made with ground-based observatories and the Hubble Space Telescope. In a study published in June in the journal Icarus, Dr. de Pater and her colleagues named the prime suspect in this cloud cleansing: the sun….

    (14) EXSQUEEZE ME. [Item by Steven French.] Well, who doesn’t enjoy a burp after a good meal …?! “Up to half black holes that rip apart stars and devour them ‘burp back up’ stellar remains years later” says Live Science.

    … Cendes and the team don’t know what’s causing black holes to “switch on” after many years, but whatever it is definitely does not come from inside the black holes.

    Black holes are marked by an event horizon, the point at which gravity is so strong that not even light can escape.”Black holes are very extreme gravitational environments even before you pass that event horizon, and that’s what’s really driving this,” Cendes said. “We don’t fully understand if the material observed in radio waves is coming from the accretion disk or if it is being stored somewhere closer to the black hole. Black holes are definitely messy eaters, though.”…

    (15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget hatches on Netflix on December 15.

    For Ginger and the flock, all is at stake when the dangers of the human world come home to roost; they’ll stop at nothing even if it means putting their own hard-won freedom at risk to save chicken-kind. This time, they’re breaking in!

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

    Pixel Scroll 8/17/23 These Scrolls Don’t Understand The Concept Of Pixels The Same As We Do

    (1) FACES IN THE NEWS. A long, detailed infographic has been posted here by Chengdu Association for Science and Technology (Chengdushi Kexue Jishu Xiehui), which Zimozi Natsuco says, “is always considered as the upper guidance institution of Chengdu Science Fiction Association”. It is translated:  

    Understand Worldcon by 1 picture: All you want to know about 2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Convention is here!

    It opens with a six-pack of guests:

    Shown in addition to GoHs Robert J. Sawyer and Liu Cixin are new guests Michael Swanwick, David Wesley Hill, Touya Tachihara and Kim Bo-young.

    (2) TWO BEAUTIES. In two minutes James Bacon tells the story of two copies of X-Men 28, featuring the debut of Banshee, one with fanhistorical significance.

    I share here two issues of X-Men 28, videoed in the basement of Sub-City in Dublin. The very nice high grade copy on the left belongs to the store, the one on the right is of Irish fanhistorical significance. Both are very beautiful.

    (3) SEANAN MCGUIRE VIRTUAL AND LIVE APPEARANCES. Join urban fantasy author Seanan McGuire as she celebrates the two new additions to the October Daye series — Sleep No More and The Innocent Sleep with a series of events.

    September 5 — Seanan McGuire In conversation with Catherynne Valente: Virtual Event Hosted by Mysterious Galaxy House

    September 29 — Seanan McGuire Reddit AMA / October Daye – Astra Publishing House —  Reddit.com/ r/Fantasy

    October 30 — Seanan McGuire in Conversation at University Book Store in Seattle, WA

    (4) JUST ADD WATER. Radio Times reports “Doctor Who lost story The Underwater Menace to be animated”.

    The partially missing Doctor Who adventure The Underwater Menace is set to be restored with new animated visuals.

    Out of 253 episodes from the show’s first six years, 97 remain lost in their original form, due to the BBC’s policy of junking archive programming between 1967 and 1978.

    However, audio recordings of all episodes exist, with The Underwater Menace – a 1967 serial starring Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor – being the latest story to be given new life by way of animation….

    All four episodes will be animated in colour for a new DVD and Blu-ray release – though the second and third episodes do exist in their original live-action form and these will also be available on the set, along with the option to watch the animated episodes in black-and-white.

    (5) OCTOTHORPE. John Coxon, Alison Scott and Liz Batty read Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty. They they talked about it, and recorded it, and now you can listen to it: “Resolutely Alison All the Time”. You can also play the fun game, ”Who was away during the recording time leading to the release of a bonus episode”, which is always a hoot, eh? 

    (6) BARBIE’S INFERNO. Fanac.org has posted the audio recording from Minicon 23 (1988) of Jeanne Gomoll reading her fanzine article “Barbie’s Inferno”. (There’s a YouTube transcript available.)

    Minicon 23 was held April 1-3, 1988. On Saturday afternoon, David Emerson hosted a program of fanzine readings, including Jeanne Gomoll’s reading of her hysterical short piece, “Barbie’s Inferno.”  This 18 minute audio recording, enhanced with images, is a delightful visit both to that program in 1988, and to the subject matter – Jeanne Gomoll’s childhood experiences with Barbie…Jeanne is an outstanding writer, as well as an excellent reader.  This short recording provides an empathetic glimpse into what many fans have experienced — what it’s like to grow up in a family where you and your parents have very different ideas of who you should be.  Plus you learn about waxers. 

    Thanks to Geri Sullivan for recording, preserving, digitizing and providing this program.

    Originally published in Harlot (edited by Anne-Laurie Logan and Avedon Carol, 1983), a newly revised version of “Barbie’s Inferno” is contained in Pretending, the first volume of Jeanne’s two volume memoir, Pretending and Becoming (to be released).

    (7) PROMETHEUS AWARDS CEREMONY AUGUST 19. Sarah Hoyt (Darkship Thieves) and Dave Freer (Cloud-Castles) will participate in the 43rd annual Prometheus Awards live Zoom ceremony Saturday, August 19, along with leaders from The Heinlein Society and Heinlein Trust.

    The Libertarian Futurist Society’s half-hour awards show is free and open to the public, including all interested sf/fantasy fans, and will begin at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. The Zoom link is here.

    This Prometheus Blog post also has the Zoom link and more details about the speakers.

    (8) FREE READ. Grist shares new climate fiction from Imagine 2200 in “When We Are Ruins, Dance On Us”.

    A revolution has moved society off of fossil fuels. In Singapore, the former Supreme Court building, long abandoned and newly haunted, bemoans what it has lost. Through the building’s musings, we hear about how the world has changed, and how hard it can be for the privileged to let go of an unjust past that benefited them.

    (9) HOW FI IS CLI-FI? Ann-Marie Cahill asks “How Accurate is Climate Fiction? (And Does Is Matter?)” at Book Riot.

    Here’s a great question to kick off your next book club meeting: How Accurate is Climate Fiction? To be clear, I am not questioning the Climate Crisis, nor any of the far-more-educated-than-me climate scientists who feel like they have been screaming into the void for eons. Unfortunately, you are more likely to elicit action out of people with an Aerosmith song and Bruce Willis brooding in space than reading the latest World Meteorological Organization report (it’s here, in case you’re interested).

    The follow-up to this great opener is, naturally: Do We Even Want Cli-Fi to be Accurate? And there lies the problem. Science Fiction has always been the go-to genre for exploring our options. Climate Fiction (or cli-fi) fits in this perfectly, giving us a literary platform to test our worst-case scenarios and come up with some inspiration to make it better. Or at least that’s the theory. Cli-fi has been a fairly popular sub-genre for science fiction, with a recent surge in the last five years — not a surprise when you consider the growing need to do something about the Climate Crisis. For many climate scientists, it may be the best way to impart much-needed information to the general public. Of course, there is a fine line between accurate and “based on sound scientific principle.” One sells the hard science message, and the other sells the books. The difference is a question of how much accuracy we, as the reader, can handle in our climate fiction. And if it’s not accurate, why don’t we feel any better about our future? …

    …In short, Climate Fiction is as accurate as the author wants it to be. Whether the book passes your mental benchmark for accuracy, reasonable scientific principle, or an acceptable suspension of disbelief is completely up to you. If you don’t like it, you can always close the book. Life’s too short to spite-read….

    (10) SCOFFER. Unlike the previous writer, Sergey Lukyanenko thinks what the West calls climate change is very overrated. Here’s a quote from the transcript of his appearance at VK Fest 2023, “The Image of the Future in Russian Science Fiction”.

    What dangers await humanity? What do you see today from the key for the next 50 years?

    SERGEY LUKYANENKO: I’m not going to talk about environmental problems, which are very fond of being raised in the West, because these problems, in fact, are much less terrible than they are trying to show us. This is a slightly invented problem from the finger, so that there is something to fight with and how to fill heads. I may say a sad thing for people, but on the scale of planet Earth, humanity, in general, is such a trifle that can be completely compressed into cubes and drowned in a small lake. They say that if all of humanity is collected and placed in Lake Baikal, the water level there will rise by only a couple of millimeters. That’s all you need to know about us and our impact on nature.

    Of course, we do a lot of harm to nature, but some serious exploding volcano will release carbon dioxide and other dust into the atmosphere in a couple of days much more than humanity does in a year. Remember, there was such an Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull. As soon as he “baited” a little there in Iceland, and all over Europe, the planes stopped flying, because it became dangerous to fly. Ecology is not such a big problem, in my opinion.

    (By the way, why is Lukyanenko’s picture missing from item #1?)

    (11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

    [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

    • Born August 17, 1930 Harve Bennett. The individual who gave us Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Really he did. He would then serve as Producer on the next three Trek films, The Search for SpockThe Voyage Home and The Final Frontier. Bennett also wrote Star Trek III, co-wrote the story and screenplay for Star Trek IV, and co-wrote the story for Star Trek V. His only on scene appearance is in the latter as the Starfleet Chief of Staff. He’s the voice of the Battle simulator computer in Wrath of Khan, and the Flight Recorder in the Search for Spock. (Died 2015.)
    • Born August 17, 1945 Rachel Pollack. She’s getting a Birthday note for her scripting duties on her run of issues 64–87 (1993-1995) of Doom Patrol. She also assisted in the creation of the Vertigo Tarot Deck with McKean and Gaiman, and she wrote a book to go with it. She won a World Fantasy Award for Godmother Night, and an Arthur C. Clarke Award winner for Unquenchable Fire. She also wrote Salvador Dali’s Tarot, a book-length exposition of Salvador Dalí’s Tarot deck, comprising a full-page color plate for each card, with her commentary on the facing page. (Died 2023.)
    • Born August 17, 1956 John Romita Jr., 67. If you’ve read Spider-Man since the Sixties, it’s very likely that you’ve seen his artwork as he had six stints on it between 1980 and 2009. He find a number of other titles on Marvel and DC including SupermanGhost Rider, HulkAll-Star BatmanEternalsCaptain America and Daredevil to name but a few of the titles he illustrated. He also worked with Mark Miller at Image Comics on Kick-Ass, and did the one shot Punisher/Batman: Deadly Knights
    • Born August 17, 1962 Laura Resnick, 61. Daughter of Mike Resnick. She is a winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. She’s the author of the Esther Diamond series, and I’ve not read her Manhattan Magic series so I’m interested to know what y’all think of it. She’s readily available at the usual.
    • Born August 17, 1966 Neil Clarke, 57. Editor in Chief of Clarkesworld Magazine which has won a impressive number of Best Semiprozine Hugos and a World Fantasy Award before crossing the threshold to become a prozine. He’s a nine-time Best Editor – Short Form nominee. SFWA also gave him a Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award. He edits The Best Science Fiction of the Year series for Night Shade Books.  
    • Born August 17, 1973 Rae Carson, 50. She’s done ten novels including one in the Star Wars universe. (I’m tempted to say who hasn’t?) Quite impressively, her debut novel, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, was a finalist for the William C. Morris YA Award and the Andre Norton Award. And she is married to Charles Coleman Finlay, SF editor and writer.

    (12) COMICS SECTION.

    • Tom Gauld has it figured out.

    (13) MORE SFF IN LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] There’s currently a Mini-League going on, focusing on “Notable Women of Asia”. Match Day 7 had this question:

    The Astounding Award for Best New Writer, which is awarded to writers in science fiction or fantasy, was renamed after 2019 winner Jeannette Ng called its previous namesake “a fucking fascist” in her acceptance speech, a speech for which she won a Hugo the following year. In her 2020 acceptance speech for that Hugo, Ng called for the freedom of “my most cyberpunk of cities”, the place where she was born. What city is that?

    The answer of course was Hong Kong: this had a 57% get rate, with the most common wrong answer being Hanoi (given by 8% of players).

    Also in the recent past there was a One-Day Special quiz about the show Quantum Leap. You can read its questions here.

    (14) MARRIAGE IS WHAT BRINGS US TOGETHER.  The Marvel press release calls it the moment fans never thought would happen—the wedding of Emma Frost and Tony Stark! Taking place in X-Men #26 (on sale 9/6) and Invincible Iron Man #10 (on sale 9/27), writer Gerry Duggan will deliver this highly-anticipated story alongside X-Men artists Jim Towe and Javier Pina and Invincible Iron Man series artist Juan Frigeri. The Fall Of X era has hit both mutantkind and Iron Man where it hurts and as their enemies grow stronger, Emma and Tony will strengthen their alliance to “till death do they part!”

    Witness the shocking proposal and Emma’s even more shocking answer in X-Men #26, and then put on your best Hellfire attire for the introduction of Mrs. and Mr. Emma Frost in Invincible Iron Man #10! The circumstances of the ceremony is riddled with secrets and subterfuge, but fans can get their first inside look at the nuptials in the X-Men / Iron Man: The Wedding of Emma Frost & Tony Stark Trailer, featuring never-before-seen artwork!

    “Emma and Tony — I think now people are starting to get a sense of how they work,” Duggan told AiPT Comics in a recent X-Men Monday. “I hope you all check it out. They are getting married. I promise no shenanigans. Beyond that, I don’t know what you’re going to get.”

    (15) SCIENTISTS LEAVING TWITTER. Nature surveyed scientists to ask their reasons for leaving Twitter. “Thousands of scientists are cutting back on Twitter, seeding angst and uncertainty”.

    …Nature obtained the e-mail addresses of thousands of scientists who were identified through a social-media research project as having tweeted about papers on which they were a corresponding author1. The survey from Nature asked whether people had changed their use of Twitter in the past six months and why. The reasons respondents gave varied, but many of those who had markedly reduced or stopped their activity on X mentioned Musk’s management of the platform. Many said that they had noticed an uptick in the amount of fake accounts, trolls and hate speech on the platform.

    Žiga Malek, an environmental scientist at the Free University of Amsterdam, mentioned in the survey that he had started seeing a lot of “strange” political far-right accounts espousing science denialism and racism in his feed. He has to block them constantly. “Twitter has always been not so nice let’s say, but it is a mess right now,” he said.

    Researchers have found that, contrary to such public claims from Musk, hate speech increased after he took over2. Musk has threatened to sue at least one group studying these trends.

    A lot of experts and specialists are leaving the platform, says Timothy Caulfield, a law scholar and science communicator at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. “If that happens, are we just making room for a massive echo chamber that can spread misinformation in a way that is very harmful to society?”

    X did not respond to Nature’s request for comments.

    Where are they going?

    The most popular alternative social-media site that respondents mentioned opening accounts with was the free, open-source software platform Mastodon. Compared with X, Mastodon allows for better community moderation, says Rodrigo Costas, an information scientist at the Centre for Science and Technology Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands, who has been studying scientists’ use of Twitter since 2011. In February, he and Jonathan Dudek, a communications researcher also at the Centre for Science and Technology Studies, examined the Twitter profile information of 400,000 researchers — obtained for a previous research project3 — to see who was broadcasting their movement to other platforms. Roughly 3% of the profiles mention a Mastodon account, according to the researchers’ preliminary analysis.

    Although it has been around for some seven years, Mastodon has a much smaller user base than do other social-media platforms. In Nature’s survey, LinkedIn was the second most popular place for respondents to open new accounts, and Instagram, owned by Meta, was third. Threads, also owned by Meta and pitched as an alternative to X, had started just a few days before the survey was launched. It reportedly attracted 100 million users in its first five days, and was the fourth-most-popular platform among survey respondents, with about 1,000 people saying that they had joined (See ‘Signs of dissatisfaction’)….

    (16) I SHALL RETURN. The New Yorker tells what it learned about a growing business that parallels online selling: “What Happens to All the Stuff We Return?”

    …Steady growth in Internet shopping has been accompanied by steady growth in returns of all kinds. A forest’s worth of artificial Christmas trees goes back every January. Bags of green plastic Easter grass go back every spring. Returns of large-screen TVs surge immediately following the Super Bowl. People who buy portable generators during weather emergencies use them until the emergencies have ended, and then those go back, too. A friend of mine returned so many digital books to Audible that the company now makes her call or e-mail if she wants to return another. People who’ve been invited to fancy parties sometimes buy expensive outfits or accessories, then return them the next day, caviar stains and all—a practice known as “wardrobing.” Brick-and-mortar shoppers also return purchases. “Petco takes back dead fish,” Demer said. “Home Depot and Lowe’s let you return dead plants, for a year. You just have to be shameless enough to stand in line with the thing you killed.” It almost goes without saying that Americans are the world’s leading refund seekers; consumers in Japan seldom return anything….

    (17) SFF SALE. [Item by BGrandrath.] So here is another of my favorite BookTubers promoting a Whatnot sale. I recommend her channel; she has a series called Books Without Barcodes where she reviews…well, books published before they had barcodes. She gives a fresh look to books you and I read years ago. This video is titled “Once in a Lifetime Science Fiction Book Haul”.

    [Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, James Bacon, John Coxon, Michael Grossberg, BGrandrath, Ersatz Culture, Zimozi Natsuco, David Goldfarb, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]