Pixel Scroll 1/7/23 Farmers Market In The Sky

(1) IT WASN’T THE HOBBIT. What turned Stephen Colbert into a voracious reader? Science fiction. Specifically, Niven, Asimov, Heinlein, Pohl and more. See “Team Hobbit or Lord of the Rings?” on TikTok.

(2) SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT. Concerning a Slate critic’s claim about Tolkien’s elves, here’s Kalimac’s response from “Ross Douthat writes a fantasy novel”.

…Tolkien’s elves…. only … “essentially good” in the … sense in which they’re broadly good, they’re more good than bad, they aspire to goodness. Read the Silmarillion and you’ll find plenty of elves behaving extremely badly, and a few who are evil the way that Saruman in Lord of the Rings is evil. The reason you don’t find elves like that in Lord of the Rings is that the elves are chastened by their earlier experiences, the ones recounted in the Silmarillion, and aren’t going to make the same mistake again….

(3) SPECULATIVE POETS AT COLLAGE. [Item by Denise Dumars.] Science Fiction and Fantasy fan? Poetry fan? Why not try both together? You will get to do so when members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association  (SFPA) read their work and discuss the topic at Collage: a place for Art and Culture. You’ll also learn how to join the SFPA and how to find markets for your own poetry in the genres by writers who have published in numerous journals both print and online. Come join us on Sunday, January 15, at 2:00 p.m.. Collage is located at the south end of the Harbor Freeway, at 731 S. Pacific Ave., San Pedro, CA, 90731.   

Speakers:  

  • Wendy Van Camp: Poet Laureate of Anaheim, CA, and Convention Coordinator for the SFPA, Wendy is an award-winning writer who has edited Eye to the Telescope, the online journal of the SFPA, and is currenly nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She edits the Eccentric Orbits series of SF/F poetry anthlogies, and the current issue is nominated for Best Anthology Award. Find her at https://wendyvancamp.com/.  
  • Ashley Dioses: Award winning dark fantasy poet and fiction writer, with books of poetry published by Jackanapes Press and Hippocampus Press, Ashley has been nominated for the Rhysling and Elgin awards for SF/F poetry as well as appearing in such well-known journals as Cemetery Dance and Weirdbook. She blogs at fiendlover.blogspot.com.  
  • Denise Dumars: Columnist for Star* Line, the Journal of the SFPA, and widely published and award-winning poet and short fiction writer, Denise has been a college English instructor and a literary agent. Author of several poetry books and chapbooks, she has been nominated multiple times for the Rhysling, Elgin, and Dwarf Stars awards and is a current nominee for the Pushcart Prize. Find her at www.DeniseDDumars.com.  
  • Jean-Paul L. Garnier: Editor of Star*Line, the Journal of the SFPA, he is the owner of Space Cowboy bookstore, winner of the Critters Best Bookstore award for 2021. His podcast is Simultaneous Times, and he is an independent publisher of SF poetry and fiction. He is a five-time nominee for the Elgin award with several books in print. He contributes to dreamfoundry.org. Find him at https://spacecowboybooks.com/.

(4) PIEZOELECTRIC BOOGALOO. A New York Times writer says, “‘M3GAN’ Makes Us Ask (Again): Who’s Afraid of Dancing Robots?”

…“When you see the Boston Dynamics robots dancing in perfect unison,” Johnstone said, “it’s almost like them looking at us and saying, ‘We can do what you do, and we can do it better,’ in the most obnoxious way.” He chuckled. “Like they’re going to sashay their way toward the extermination of all humanity.”

M3GAN’s ice-cold, ruthlessly calculated “performance” stands in contrast to the human dancing in some recent horror films, where flesh-and-bone bodies reach states of overheated delirium. The choreographer, director and writer Jack Ferver, who worked on the coming horror movie “The Parenting,” said dance horror is effective when the person dancing “transcends their personhood.”

But what does that mean for a nonperson? Robots aren’t dead behind the eyes because they’re in some kind of ecstatic trance; they’re dead behind the eyes because they’re not alive….

(5) MEMORY LANE.

1964 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

No. We are not here to talk about the stellar Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory film but rather about the source material that inspired it, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory novel. It was first published in the U.K. by George Allen & Unwin in 1964 with this edition illustrated by Faith Jaques. (Yes, the US edition was first but we think this one should be considered the true first for reasons below.) 

She was renowned for her work as a children’s book author, illustrator, artist, stamp designer and a very fierce advocate of artists’ rights for control of their work. She was chosen to do the British edition following the controversy over the depiction of the Oompa-Loompas in the US edition of the book where they were African pygmies. Racism at its very worst.

In this edition, as well as the subsequent sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, was written by Dahl in 1971, the Oompa-Loompas were drawn as being white and appearing similar to hippies and the references to Africa were deleted. All other editions followed this convention.

The story was said to based on Dahl’s experience of chocolate companies including Cadbury during his schooldays sending packages to the schoolchildren in exchange for their opinions on the new products. Popular belief was that the companies sent spies into each other’s factories to scope out new chocolates. 

Because of these practices, companies became highly protective of their chocolate making. It was a combination of this secrecy and the elaborate, often gigantic, machines that looked fantastical to a child that inspired him to write this novel.

There are several editions, each with a different illustrator — Joseph Schindelman (first and revised US editions); Faith Jaques (first UK edition); Michael Foreman (1985 US edition); and Quentin Blake (1995 edition). 

The book as you know as been adapted into two major motion pictures: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory just several years after it was published, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that came out about twenty years ago. A prequel film, Wonka, a musical fantasy film, exploring Willy Wonka’s origins will be released in 2023. Timothée Chalamet is Willy Wonka. Really, he is.

Eric Idle narrated the audiobook version of the American Edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 7, 1899 F. Orlin Tremaine. He was the Editor of Astounding from 1933 to 1937. It’s said that he bought Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness without actually reading it. Later as Editor at Bartholomew House, he brought out the first paperback editions of Lovecraft’s The Weird Shadow Over Innsmouth and The Dunwich Horror. He wrote a dozen or so short stories that were published in the pulps between 1926 and 1949. (Died 1956.)
  • Born January 7, 1912 Charles Addams. Illustrator best known for the Addams Family which he first drew in 1932 and kept drawing until his death. Needless to say there have been a number of films and series using these characters of which The Addams Family is my favorite. Linda H. Davis’ Charles Addams: A Cartoonist’s Life is well worth seeking out and reading. (Died 1988.)
  • Born January 7, 1913 Julian S. Krupa. Pulp cover and interior illustrator from 1939 to 1971 who graced Amazing Stories and Fantastic. In the Thirties, he also contributed art to fanzines, including Ad Astra. His grandson said that “his Grandfather did all the illustrations for the training films for the first Nuclear Submarines and was a friend to Admiral Rickover. And then continued to do early training films for NASA.” (Died 1989.)
  • Born January 7, 1928 William Peter Blatty. Novelist and screenwriter best known for The Exorcist though he was also the same for Exorcist III. The former is by no means the only genre work that he would write as his literary career would go on for forty years after this novel and would include Demons Five, Exorcists Nothing: A Fable which he renamed Demons Five, Exorcists Nothing: A Hollywood Christmas Carol and The Exorcist for the 21st Century, his final work. (Died 2017.)
  • Born January 7, 1955 Karen Haber, 68. Wife of Robert Silverberg. Author Of the Fire In Winter series (first co-written with Robert) and the War Minstrels series as well. With Robert, she edited three of the exemplary Universe anthologies that Terry Carr had created. Her Meditations on Middle Earth, her essay collection on J.R.R. Tolkien is quite superb. And of course her prequel Thieves’ Carnival to Leigh Brackett’s The Jewel of Bas is stunning.
  • Born January 7, 1962 Mark Allen Shepherd, 61. Morn, the bar patron on Deep Space Nine. Amazingly he was in Quark’s bar a total of ninety-three episodes plus one episode each on Next Gen and Voyager. Technically he’s uncredited in almost all of those appearances. That’s pretty much his entire acting career. I’m trying to remember if he has any lines. He’s also an abstract painter whose work was used frequently on DS9 sets. For all practical purposes, this was his acting career. Do note that we saw more Lurians on Discovery showing that the species is still around even in the 32nd century. 
  • Born January 7, 1971 Jeremy Renner, 52. You know him as Hawkeye in those MCU films but he’s also in a number of other SFF film including Hansel and Gretel: Witch HuntersMission: Impossible – Ghost ProtocolMission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and Arrival.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Catching up with Tom Gauld –

(8) THEY MADE MARVEL. CBR.com contends these are “The 10 Most Important Comics In Marvel History”. For example —

8/10 Fantastic Four #1 Brought The Heroes Back

As the superhero boom died out in the late 1940s, Timely switched to other genres, including romance, teen books, and comedy titles. In 1951, a year after Captain America was canceled, Timely became Atlas News Company and it seemed like the heroes would be gone for good.

But according to legend, a decade later Martin Goodman was playing golf with Jack Liebowitz, the then head of DC Comics when Liebowitz bragged about the company’s success with their new superhero titles, most notably the Justice League of America. Goodman turned to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to give Atlas their own superhero team, and from that discussion, the Fantastic Four, and “The Marvel Age of Comics,” were born.

(9) HE’S A POE MAN FROM A POE FAMILY. “Dudley did right: Harry Melling on his evolution from Harry Potter to Edgar Allan Poe” is explained by in a Yahoo! profile.

…He first appeared at 10 years old in Sorcerer’s Stone as the hero’s tortuous, spoiled cousin, Dudley Dursley, and would maintain the part into his 20s.

Unlike his contemporaries, he found life on set to be quite isolating at times. “My experience was unique in terms of I wasn’t in it throughout the entire shoot,” the actor, 33, tells EW over Zoom from Los Angeles — now much taller and leaner compared to the plump, rosy-cheeked child with a haughty smirk movie-goers have been used to. “The earthly sequences would very much be an isolated filming block. So, I dipped in, and then I went back to school and normal life.”

Melling never felt as if people would recognize him on the streets of London. “Which I kind of loved,” he quickly adds. To him, fame feels like noise. He counts himself lucky that he hasn’t become traditionally “famous.” “Sometimes it’s nice to just concentrate on the work and what excites you,” he says.

Melling has been able to do just that with his life post-Potter, from his early run in theater to playing chess champ Harry Beltik in the Netflix hit The Queen’s Gambit. However, one role would create a different kind of noise, the kind that would get his industry peers to notice him, if not the public. Seeing Melling as the limbless artist in 2018’s The Ballad of Buster Scruggs would inspire director Scott Cooper (Out of the FurnaceAntlers) to cast the Englishman as a young Edgar Allan Poe in The Pale Blue Eye, Melling’s most impressive on-screen role to date.

“I was struck by that performance,” Cooper tells EW of Melling’s work in Buster Scruggs. “I felt, ‘My God! He would be a really terrific Edgar Allan Poe.’ And as we say in Virginia, he kind of favors Poe. He looks like him.”….

Melling also was interviewed by NPR: “Harry Melling on playing Edgar Allan Poe in the new movie ‘The Pale Blue Eye’”.

…SIMON: The film is set in 1830. But I got to begin by asking, what’s Edgar Allan Poe doing at West Point?

MELLING: I know. That’s what I thought, right? He was there in real life, which is extraordinary….

(10) DOOR HANGER. Found hanging on the internet…

(11) BE FREE. JUNG_E debuts on Netflix on January 20.

Humanity’s hope and ultimate weapon A.I. combat warrior JUNG_E Watch her break free.

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

Alex Ross Depicts Stunning Portraits Of Marvel’s First Family In New Fantastic Four Variant Covers

The Fantastic Four are about to enter an all-new era. The upcoming run by writer Ryan North and artist Iban Coello will be ripe with mystery and overflowing with suspense as it finds the team separated after a devastating incident back in New York. The first three issues will deliver exciting standalone adventures starring Ben Grimm and Alicia, Reed and Sue, and Johnny before the team’s heartbreaking and revelatory reunion in February’s Fantastic Four #4!

In addition to gracing the series with breathtaking main covers, legendary artist Alex Ross will mark this major milestone with a series of variant covers for the opening four issues. Presented in striking black and white and capturing the team’s timeless appeal, the iconic Fantastic Four artist has crafted classic portraits of all four members of the team in these solo variant covers.

Discover what happened to the Fantastic Four and find out what it will take to bring them back together when Ryan North and Iban Coello’s Fantastic Four begins on November 9. For more information, visit Marvel.com.

FANTASTIC FOUR #1: Written by RYAN NORTH; Art by IBAN COELLO; Solo Variant Cover by ALEX ROSS; On Sale 11/9

FANTASTIC FOUR #2: Written by RYAN NORTH; Art by IBAN COELLO; Solo Variant Cover by ALEX ROSS; On Sale 12/7

FANTASTIC FOUR #3: Written by RYAN NORTH; Art by IBAN COELLO; Solo Variant Cover by ALEX ROSS; On Sale 1/4

FANTASTIC FOUR #4: Written by RYAN NORTH; Art by IBAN COELLO; Solo Variant Cover by ALEX ROSS; On Sale 2/15

[Based on a press release.]

Marvel Comics’ New Era of Fantastic Four

The next adventures of Marvel’s first family arrive November 9. Writer Ryan North and artist Iban Coello launch an all-new run of Fantastic Four where they’ll take this beloved team of super hero icons to exciting new places throughout the Marvel Universe and beyond. This bold new era will kick off with the team spread across the country after a devastating event takes place back in New York. North and Coello will craft separate adventures spotlighting each member of the team before bringing in the band back together in epic fashion at the end of the book’s first arc. The debut issue will star Ben Grimm and Alicia Masters as they embark on a road trip that takes a very weird turn…

Something terrible has happened to the Fantastic Four and the Thing and Alicia are traveling across America to leave it behind. But when they stop in a small town for the night and wake up the morning before they arrived, they find themselves caught in a time loop that’s been going on since before they were born… That’s been going on since before they were born… That’s been going on since before they were born…

“I want to do these smaller, self-contained stories in the vein of ’60s Star Trek where they go down to a planet, find a weird thing, fix the weird thing, and move on,” North said of his approach in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “Having these four weirdos roll into town where there’s a mystery or a problem or some sci-fi thing, solve the problem, and then move on struck me as a very interesting way to position the Fantastic Four and tell stories that would feel fresh and not like a retread of what we’ve seen before.”

Whatever happened to the Fantastic Four? Get your first hints in the all-new interior artwork that follows the jump. For more information, visit Marvel.com.

Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 9/7/22 The File Is In The Mail

(1) FILER SUMMIT MEETING. I got to meet Steve Vertlieb and his brother Erwin for the first time today! Steve was visiting from the East Coast. His earliest contributions to File 770 date to 2009. I’m glad we finally got together.

(2) GILLER PRIZE. The 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist was released September 6. The Prize is a celebration of Canadian literary talent. There are two works of genre interest:

  • Kim Fu’s story collection Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century
  • Sheila Heti’s Pure Colour

The complete longlist is here.

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Nicholas Kaufmann and Naseem Jamnia in-person at the KGB Bar on Wednesday, September 14 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Nicholas Kaufmann

Nicholas Kaufmann is a Bram Stoker Award-nominated, Thriller Award-nominated, Shirley Jackson Award-nominated, and Dragon Award-nominated author. He’s written numerous works of horror and fantasy, including the bestsellers 100 Fathoms Below (written with Steven L. Kent) and The Hungry Earth. His short fiction has appeared in Cemetery Dance, Black Static, Nightmare Magazine, Interzone, and others. In addition to his own original work, he has written for such properties as Zombies vs. Robots, The Rocketeer, and Warhammer. He and his wife Alexa live in Brooklyn, NY.

Naseem Jamnia

Naseem Jamnia is the author of The Bruising of Qilwa (Tachyon Publications), which introduces their queernormative, Persian-inspired world. Their work has appeared in The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, The Writer’s Chronicle, The Rumpus, and other venues. They’ve also received fellowships from Lambda Literary, Bitch Media, and Otherwise, and were named the inaugural Samuel R. Delany fellow. A Persian-Chicagoan, Naseem now lives in Reno with their husband, dog, and two cats.

At the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs) on September 14 at  7:00 p.m. Eastern.

(4) 3DOA. Austin McConnell looks at the 2004 Indian film Aabra Ka Daabra, a Harry Potter imitation that featured 3D gimmicks, dancing, and some incredibly intrusive product placements and bombed spectacularly.“Why Bollywood’s Harry Potter Was A Box Office Bomb”.

(5) STRAUB’S DAUGHTER PAYS TRIBUTE. [Item by Andrew Porter.] Emma Straub wrote about her father on Twitter. Includes never-before-seen by us photos. Thread starts here.

Emma Straub will be one of the many writers at the Brooklyn Book Festival 2022 to be held from September 25 through October 3. She and A. M. Holmes will be on the “Alternative Histories” panel on October 2.

(6) PHILLIP MANN (1942-2022). New Zealand sff author Phillip Mann died September 1. His first science fiction novel, The Eye of the Queen appeared in 1982. His novel The Disestablishment of Paradise was a 2014 finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award and John W. Campbell Memorial Award.

Her wrote four novels in the A Land Fit for Heroes series, and two in the Gardener series.

He celebrated his 80th birthday last month at the launch of his most recent novel Chevalier & Gawayn: The Ballad of the Dreamer with family, friends, colleagues and former students.

He won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for services to science fiction, fantasy and horror in 2010. In 2017, he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to theatre and literature.

(7) MEMORY LANE.  

1985 [By Cat Eldridge.] Star Wars Ewoks (1985 – 1987)

The Star Wars video universe is vast and full of series that likely you didn’t know existed. Such is the case with the animated Star Wars Ewoks series that lasted but two years thirty-seven years ago. Panned by many critics at the time as excessively cute, and well it was, it was a children’s show after all.

The press kit at the time described it thusly: “A stand-alone collection of stories, Star Wars Ewoks focuses on the fur-balls from Return of the Jedi and their many misadventures into the unknown, the magical and downright absurd. So is the life of an Ewok.”

It was released the same time as Star Wars Droids which I think was better series but – alas — lasted but a single season. 

It featured the characters introduced in Return of the Jedi (yes, I won’t used the revisionist titles later introduced) and further known through Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and its sequel Ewoks: The Battle for Endor

I was surprised to discover Paul Dini along with Bob Carrau were involved in this project and Star Wars Droids was his only work in this universe.  It had an extensive voice cast with Cree Summer who I recognize from Batman: The Animated Series work being the only one knew.

Critics either were hostile or just didn’t like it. Syfy thought it was a market scheme to sell toys, toys and more toys. Well if it was meant to do that it failed as the ratings were poor and it was cancelled after two seasons. Oh, and ironically it was later broadcast in reruns on Sci-Fi Channel’s Cartoon Quest where it was used to sell product. 

Was it any good? Really? You’re asking me? I’m not the right person to ask that but yes, I’ll say that they did a reasonable job with storytelling here. 

It lasted two seasons and twenty-six episodes. It is now on Disney + as is all is all such material.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 7, 1795 John William Polidori. His most remembered work was “The Vampyre”, the first modern vampire story published in 1819. Although originally and erroneously accredited to Lord Byron, both Byron and Polidori affirmed that the story was his. Because of this work, he is credited by several as the creator of the vampire genre of fantasy fiction. (Died 1821.)
  • Born September 7, 1937 John Phillip Law. He’s probably best remembered as the blind angel Pygar in the cult film Barbarella which featured Jane Fonda in that bikini. He shows up in Tarzan, the Ape Man as Harry Holt, and he’s in a South African SF film, Space Mutiny, as Flight Commander Elijah Kalgan, that’s set on a generation ship. Look actual SF!  (Died 2008.)
  • Born September 7, 1955 Mira Furlan. Another one who died far, far too young. She’s best known for her role as the Minbari Ambassador Delenn on the entire run of Babylon 5, and also as Danielle Rousseau on Lost. She’s reunited with Bill Mumy and Bruce Boxleitner at least briefly in Marc Zicree’s Space Command. She had a recurring role as The Traveller in Just Add Magic YA series. (Died 2021.)
  • Born September 7, 1960 Christopher Villiers, 62. He was Professor Moorhouse in “Mummy on the Orient Express”, a Twelfth Doctor story. It’s one of the better tales of the very uneven Capaldi run. He’s also Sir Kay in First Knight and is an unnamed officer in From Time to Time which based on Lucy M. Boston’s The Chimneys of Green Knowe.
  • Born September 7, 1966 Toby Jones, 56. He appeared in “Amy’s Choice”, an Eleventh Doctor story, as the Dream Lord. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, he voiced Dobby the house elf. And in Finding Neverland, Mr. Smee, Captain Hook’s bo’sun. Guess what work that film was based on. Finally, I’ll note that he was — using motion capture — Aristides Silk in The Adventures of Tintin. 
  • Born September 7, 1973 Alex Kurtzman, 49. Ok, a number of sites claim he destroyed Trek. Why the hatred for him? Mind you I’m more interested that he and Roberto Orci created the superb Fringe series, and that alone redeems them for me. Fringe is streaming now on Amazon Prime and HBO Max
  • Born September 7, 1974 Noah Huntley, 48. He has appeared in films such as 28 Days LaterThe Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (excellent film), Snow White and the Huntsman (a truly great film), Event Horizon (surely you’ve something else to do) and Dracula Untold (woo, not so great). He’s Gawain in The Mists of Avalon series (ok, so he’s got a truly mixed track record) and shows up as Donovan Osborn in the CW series Pandora which, I’m not kidding, got a Rotten Tomatoes zero percent approval rating, a phenomenal thing to do. Ouch. 
  • Born September 7, 1993 Taylor Gray, 29. He’s best known for voicing Ezra Bridger on the animated Star Wars Rebels which I highly recommend if you’re into Star Wars at all as it’s most excellent.  He also played Friz Freleng in Walt Before Mickey

(9) COMICS SECTION.

Headline: Not at all costs. 

Text: I still think it’s a good idea that we insisted that climate projects shouldn’t decrease the level of jobs and welfare.

(10) FANTASTIC FOUR. This month, Ross returns to the Marvel comics universe with Fantastic Four: Full Circle, a long-awaited passion project. Publishers Weekly interviewed him about it: “Alex Ross Comes Full Circle”.

Why was it important for you to be the artist as well as the writer for this work?

For one main reason: Jack Kirby. Jack plotted his comics and did not work from full scripts for the majority of his career, but he wasn’t able to get that autonomy of single-creator status on the Fantastic Four because he did develop it with Stan Lee and it became identified with Stan’s style of voice. He yearned to take the reins of everything, and it didn’t happen on that book, despite the fact that the creative contribution he gave to it was so extensive and unfortunately underappreciated. It’s his work history and example that drove me to make sure that the work I do here and all storytelling I personally draw in the future benefits from his experience. I will still collaborate with others, but my fully drawn works need to be just me so there is no confusion as to whom to attribute the effort.

(11) WE’RE NOT EVOLVED TO LIVE IN SPACE. Which you already know. Space.com reports “Astronauts’ blood shows signs of DNA mutations due to spaceflight”.

Astronaut cancer risk needs careful monitoring, concludes a study that stored spaceflyer blood for 20 years.

All fourteen astronauts in the study, from NASA’s space shuttle program, had DNA mutations in blood-forming stem cells, a Nature Communications Biology study(opens in new tab) Aug. 31 concluded. The mutations, though unusually high considering the astronauts’ age, was below a key threshold of concern, however.

While the study is unique for keeping astronaut blood around for so long, the results are not show-stopping. Rather, the researchers suggest that astronauts should be subject to periodic blood screening to keep an eye on possible mutations. (And it should be considered in context; another 2019 study, for example, found that astronauts are not dying from cancer due to ionizing space radiation.)…

(12) ROARING OTTER. Did we hunt these guys out of existence, too? “In Ethiopia, scientists identify a fossil otter the size of a lion”Phys.org has the specifications.

Scientists have identified a new species of long-extinct otter in Ethiopia that was the size of a modern lion. Weighing an estimated 200 kilograms, or 440 pounds, it is the largest otter ever described; it would have rubbed elbows, and possibly competed for food, with our much smaller ancestors when it lived alongside them 3.5 million to 2.5 million years ago. A paper describing the animal just appeared in the French scientific journal Comptes Rendus Palevol.

“The peculiar thing, in addition to its massive size, is that [isotopes] in its teeth suggest it was not aquatic, like all modern otters,” said study coauthor Kevin Uno, a geochemist at the Columbia Climate School’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “We found it had a diet of terrestrial animals, also differing from modern otters.”

(13) FORWARD, MARCH! [Item by Daniel Dern.] Another “I’ll take ‘What could possibly go wrong?’ for $200…” “Scientists Create Cyborg Cockroaches Controlled By Solar-Powered Backpacks”Slashdot restrains its enthusiasm.

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET:

In a new study, published Monday in the journal npj Flexible Electronics, an international team of researchers revealed it has engineered a system to remotely control the legs of cockroaches from afar. The system, which is basically a cockroach backpack wired into the creature’s nervous system, has a power output about 50 times higher than previous devices and is built with an ultrathin and flexible solar cell that doesn’t hinder the roach’s movement. Pressing a button sends a shock to the backpack that tricks the roach into moving a certain direction.

Cockroach cyborgs are not a new idea. Back in 2012, researchers at North Carolina State University were experimenting with Madagascar hissing cockroaches and wireless backpacks, showing the critters could be remotely controlled to walk along a track….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers:  Cult of the Lamb,” Fandom Games says this “well-crafted Indy” begins with the premise:  what happens if cuddly animal characters were bloodthirsty advocated of evil?   The characters are “adorable idiots you can manipulate” So in one game you can have huggable characters and grisly human sacrifice.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/13/21 It’s A Big Time For A Case Of Pixels

(1) LODESTAR BASE. Sara Felix today previewed the spectacular base she’s created for the 2021 Lodestar Award, and the pins for finalists.

(2) NIGHT OF THE COOTERS. A minute-long snip from the project is available on YouTube.

George RR Martin Presents – Howard Waldrop’s Night of the Cooters. Lumenscapes and Trioscope Studios have teamed up to present Vincent D’onofrio’s film adaptation of the classic short story in glorious “Trioscope”. NIGHT OF THE COOTERS tells the tale of townsfolk in Pachuco Texas in the 1800’s rallying around one cause, survival against the unwelcome visitors from “up there”. Join the townsfolk on their journey to figure out what the hell is going on in the big hole at the edge of town. With a screenplay by the one and only Joe Lansdale, and music by the prolific Ramin Djwadi get ready for a ride like no other through the mind of the great Howard Waldrop.

(Clarkesworld hosts Waldrop’s story if you haven’t read it yet.)

(3) OCTAVIA BUTLER. According to The Portalist, “These Are All the Octavia Butler Adaptations Currently in Development”. One movie, four TV series, and a graphic novel.

 Octavia Butler was a science fiction writer like no other. Her works are essential for their prescient, intricate worldbuilding, empathy, and gripping characters. It’s no surprise that more and more adaptations of her novels have moved ahead in recent years. From a soaring opera to bestselling graphic novel retellings, her work continues to find new fans through diverse mediums. 

But what of the adaptations to come? 

(4) HOMAGE. Vanity Fair’s Cassie Da Costa give a fuller overview of this new wave of adaptations in “The Second Coming of Octavia E. Butler”.

…It’s a tremendous amount of interpretation by an impressive slate of Black talent, a gift that seems to have fallen from the heavens. Merrilee Heifetz, Butler’s former agent and current literary executor from Writers House, handles the options for Butler’s oeuvre alongside the author’s cousin Ernestine Walker. When I ask what she expects from all these adaptations, she says, “All you can do is try to bring it to people whose vision you feel you can trust. And you look at someone like Janicza [Bravo], her visual style is incredible. I can’t wait to see what she does.” Years ago, when Heifetz saw that Jacobs-Jenkins was interested in writing a Kindred adaptation, she went to see his play Everybody at the Signature Theatre in New York and was impressed. Jacobs-Jenkins, who worked on the HBO miniseries Watchmen, became a huge Butler fan in high school, and when Breaking Bad was in its heyday, he realized Kindred would make a great show. He told his agent he wanted the rights….

(5) 1884. That’s when Zamyatin was born – and the last two digits seem prescient. The New Yorker’s Masha Gessen revisits We, “The Russian Novel That Foresaw—but Underestimated—Totalitarianism”.

…Every year when I read Yevgeny Zamyatin’s “We” with my students, I wish the psychiatric-ward schedule were hanging in the classroom, because Zamyatin’s novel imagined a regimented way of life, and because it, too, seemed to subvert the flow of time. Born in 1884, Zamyatin was a revolutionary, indeed a Bolshevik; he was imprisoned and sent into internal exile in the tsar’s Russia, and then moved for a time to England, returning just a month before the Bolsheviks came to power. Three years later, he wrote his dystopia, possibly revising it in 1921 or 1922. By the time he had completed a final draft, the Bolsheviks had already imposed censorship and created the secret police. It took them a few years to establish Soviet rule over most of what had been the Russian Empire, to expropriate most property and to build its first concentration camp, and it took longer to establish a reign of terror. But Zamyatin had already written a novel that described many of the specifics of that terror, and of other terrors to come in the twentieth century….

(6) 1940. First Fandom Experience has published a 52-page digital sampler for Volume Two of The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom. See it at the link. The full book is over 450 pages.

As 1940 dawned, America was recovering, poised between the Great Depression and entry into World War II. Science fiction fandom was growing up.

With maturity came new levels of confidence and accomplishment. Fans asked profound questions of themselves and their peers: Are we special in some way, smarter or more perceptive than others? If so, what does that mean for our role in society? How should we respond to the troubles in Europe? Should we unite under a single banner? 

Fans traveled more often, and farther. The central event of the year – the 1940 World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago – spurred sojourns from both coasts and across mid-America. Fans gathered and traditions that persist to modern times were established.

All of this comes to life through the words of fans as they wrote them at the time, the passions and fears and aspirations they voiced, the images they drew and the journeys they described. As rich a year in the life of fandom as ever there was, and as richly told by those who lived it.

(7) SOCIAL MEDIA V. BOOK SALES. Interesting publishing industry info here, but no sff names in the New York Times article “Millions of Followers? For Book Sales, ‘It’s Unreliable.’”

… It’s difficult to predict whether a book will be a hit. A jar of tomato sauce doesn’t change that much from year to year, making demand reasonably predictable. But every book is different, an individual work of art or culture, so when the publishing industry tries to forecast demand for new titles, it is, however thoughtfully, guessing. Because there are so few reliable metrics to look at, social-media followings have become some of the main data points publishers use to try to make their guesses more educated.

An author’s following has become a standard part of the equation when publishers are deciding whether to acquire a book. Followings can affect who gets a book deal and how big an advance that author is paid, especially when it comes to nonfiction. But despite their importance, they are increasingly seen as unpredictable gauges of how well a book is actually going to sell.

Even having one of the biggest social-media followings in the world is not a guarantee.

“The only reliable part about it,” said Shannon DeVito, director of books at Barnes & Noble, “is that it’s unreliable.”…

(8) ANNE RICE. Andrew Porter shared his photos of Anne Rice taken at the 1988 American Booksellers Association Convention. Rice died December 11 (NPR’s tribute is here.)

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1985 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] On this date thirty-six years ago, Clue premiered. It was directed by Jonathan Lynn from the screenplay he wrote based on his story off from the Clue game created in 1943 by British board game designer Anthony E. Pratt. (It’s called Cluedo – or Murder at Tudor Close in Britain.) It was produced by Debra Hill, best known for producing various works of John Carpenter.  It had a stellar cast of Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull. Lesley Ann Warren and Eileen Brennan. Tim Curry played The Butler. 

Most critics did not like it, with both Siskel and Ebert dissing it. Most particularly hated the three alternative endings. It barely broken even at the Box Office despite costing only fifteen million to make. 

It was novelized as Clue The Novel, written by Michael McDowell. It includes the three endings from the movie, plus a fourth ending not in the movie.

It however has a stellar rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes of eighty-eight percent. Clue is currently airing on Paramount+. You can purchase it at Amazon and iTunes for six dollars right now. I think it’s a fine holiday film, and an equally excellent film to watch any time of year. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 13, 1915 Ross Macdonald. He who writes the most excellent hard boiled deceive novels is here because ISFDB lists three of his short stories as being genre: “The Bearded Lady”, “Gone Girl” and “Guilt-Edged Blonde”. Now I’m seriously doubting that Macdonald wrote any genre, but I’m hoping one of y’all has read them and can confirm, whether or not they are genre. And yes, I’m a big fan of his Lew Archer novels. (Died 1983.)
  • Born December 13, 1929 Christopher Plummer. Let’s see… Does Rudyard Kipling in The Man Who Would Be King count? If not, The Return of the Pink Panther does. That was followed by Starcrash, a space opera I suspect hardly anyone saw, which was also the case with Somewhere in Time. Now Dreamscape was fun and well received.  Skipping his role as General Chang in The Undiscovered Country. Opinions everyone? I know I’ve mixed feelings on Chang. I see Plummer’s in Twelve Monkeys and I’ve not seen The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus yet. (Died 2021.)
  • Born December 13, 1935 Gary Combs, 86. Though originally uncredited, he was the Gorn Captain in the “Arena” episode of Trek. As a stunt double for Shatner, he appeared on “Operation – Annihilate!”, “Space Seed” and “The Galileo Seven”. He did stunts on The Wrath of Khan as well. He eventually rose to become a stunt coordinator on such films as The Hollow Man.
  • Born December 13, 1925 Dick Van Dyke, 96. Bert/Mr. Dawes Sr. in Mary Poppins followed shortly by being Caractacus Pott in the film adaptation in Ian Fleming’s novel Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. (No it’s not the same character as he is in the book.)  He voices the lead character in the animated Tubby the Tuba film and plays D.A. Fletcher in Dick Tracy. He narrates Walt: The Man Behind the Myth whose subject matter you can guess. Played Commissioner Gordon in Batman: New Times as well. Shows up in both of the Night at the Museum films which sort of interest me. And yes, he has a role as Mr. Dawes Jr. in Mary Poppins Returns.
  • Born December 13, 1949 R. A. MacAvoy, 72. Winner of the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. I’m very, very fond of her Black Dragon series, Tea with the Black Dragon and Twisting the Rope.  (Tea with the Black Dragon was nominated for a Hugo at L.A. Con II, the year David Brin’s Startide Rising won.) The only other thing I’ve read of hers is The Book of Kells, so do tell me about her other works. 
  • Born December 13, 1954 Tamora Pierce, 67. Her first book series, The Song of the Lioness, about her character Alanna going through the trials of training as a knight, sold very well and was well received by readers. That series is set in Tortall, a world akin to the European Middle Ages. What I’ve read of it I like a lot. She won the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction in 2005, a rare honor indeed. 
  • Born December 13, 1954 Emma Bull, 67. Writer of three of the best genre novels ever, Bone Dance: A Fantasy for TechnophilesFinder: A Novel of The Borderlands and War for The Oaks. Will Shetterly, her husband and author of a lot of really cool genre works, decided to make a trailer which you can download if you want. Just ask me.  She’s also been in a number of neat bands, one that has genre significance that being Cats Laughing which has Stephen Brust, Adam Stemple, son of Jane Yolen, and John M. Ford either as musicians or lyricists. They came back together after a long hiatus at MiniCon 50. Again just ask me and I’ll make this music available along with that of Flash Girls which she was also in. And she’s on the dark chocolate gifting list. 
  • Born December 13, 1984 Amal El-Mohtar, 37. Canadian edition and writer. She won Hugo Awards for Best Short Story for “Seasons of Glass and Iron” at WorldCon 75 and Best Novella for “This Is How You Lose the Time War” at CoNZealand (with Max Gladstone). (The latter got a BSFA, an Aurora and a Nebula as well.) She’s also garnered a Nebula Award  for “Madeleine“, a World Fantasy Award for “Pockets” and a World Fantasy Award for “Seasons of Glass and Iron”. Very impressive. She has edited the fantastic poetry quarterly Goblin Fruit magazine for the past five years. 

(11) BIG COMICS NEWS. “Alex Ross Writes and Illustrates First Graphic Novel, Fantastic Four: Full Circle (Exclusive)“ reports Comicbook.com.

…”This is the Fantastic Four story I have been wanting to tell for years, and visually it is one of the greatest artistic experiments I have attempted,” says Alex Ross. “I’m excited to share this work with everyone, as it unites the two great publishing forces of Marvel and Abrams ComicArts in a bold new collaboration.”…

(12) MARKETING FACTS. Seanan McGuire hopes readers will pick up the latest book in the InCryptid series despite its appearing as a trade paperback. She was concerned by something she read online that people might hold back. Thread starts here.  

(13) WHAT’S SUPE. The Washington Post’s David Betancourt says these are the “10 best Christmas superhero movies and shows you can stream”.

Even a superhero can’t escape the holidays.

As masks, capes and interconnected universes have become more mainstream, so too have the number of superheroofferingsthat include Christmas tree decor and Santa Claus hats. Animation, network television, streaming andeven the Marvel Cinematic Universe have all made room for the spirit of the winter season….

(14) VIRTUALLY PIXELLATED. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Can we create a perfect virtual reality? Or are we living in one?

BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week has explored the questions arising out of virtual reality technology. The programme can be listened to or downloaded for a month after broadcast. See the programme episode page here.

Living in the Matrix

What if virtual worlds become indistinguishable from the real one? In 1999 the science fiction film, The Matrix, depicted a dystopian future in which people are unknowingly trapped inside a simulated reality, run by intelligent machines. As the fourth film, The Matrix Resurrections, is about to be released, the writer Naomi Alderman considers the influence this movie franchise has had in the last two decades, and how far virtual reality has become part of everyday life.

The philosopher, David J Chalmers, proposes that the Matrix scenario could be the future, but that rather than trapped, humanity can lead a meaningful life in virtual reality. Chalmers is one of the leading thinkers on consciousness. In his latest book, Reality+ he provocatively argues that VR is not escapism. And that we may even be living in a computer simulation already – and if that is true, it’s not so bad.

Philippa Garety is Professor of Clinical Psychology at Kings College London and has been at the forefront of treatments for problems associated with psychosis, including hearing voices and hallucinations. She is currently working on innovative treatments using digital technology, including avatars and virtual reality, to alleviate suffering. In a clinical setting VR can be managed as a safe environment for patients who struggle in the real world, as a place they can confront and understand their delusions.

All of which is reminiscent of a neat little ultra-short SF film mentioned on File 770 over the summer (but worth a view if you missed it first time around):

Meanwhile, Isaac Arthur recently used virtual realities as an explanation for the Fermi Paradox

Many believe the future of humanity is to go Digital, uploading our minds to computers, living in virtual worlds that are vastly more efficient and compact. If we might do this, might distant alien empires too? And if so, might this be the reason we don’t see them?

(15) HE KNOWS THE ANSWER. Yahoo! sets the frame for The Batman starring Robert Pattinson: “The Riddler Unmasks Batman In Upcoming Film’s New International Trailer”.

The Riddler has unmasked the Caped Crusader in the upcoming The Batman‘s latest international trailer.

With his ominous voice booming through the entirety of the trailer, we hear Paul Dano‘s Riddler proclaiming that he’s “here to unmask the truth about this city,” before a long sequence of violence and villainy from the troublemaker. Just as the trailer ends, we find out that Edward Nashton ultimately discovers who the man behind the cowl is, calling Bruce Wayne out by name.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson, part of “The Hugo Pixel Scroll Winners” series.]

Pixel Scroll 8/11/21 Only Trust Your Scrolls, Pixels Will Never Help You

(1) F&SF COVER REVEAL. The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’s Sept/Oct 2021 cover art, “Jupiter in Half-Phase, Seen from Io,” is by David A. Hardy.

(2) THE RACCOON AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION. Brandiose is a successful creator of logos for minor league sports teams, notably Huntsville’s Rocket City Trash Pandas.

The name Trash Pandas perfectly embodies the dichotomy of the region. A place with a contemporary, optimistic, fresh energy that retains its country flavor.

We wanted to present the Trash Panda racoon as the clever, intelligent creature that it is. It was important to show that this character was less of a “banjos on the porch” type figure and more of a “this guy engineered a rocket ship out of NASA’s trash” kind of critter. 

We loved the idea that the raccoons have their own rocket engineering facility in the woods, next door to their human engineering counterparts. In their dwelling, the raccoons use the human’s discarded rocket junk to construct their own version of NASA (or RASA – Raccoon Aeronautics and Space Administration).

See more examples of their work and read the stories behind them at the link. The New York Times also ran an article about them: “Sod Poodles, Yard Goats and Trash Pandas, Oh My”.

(3) WHAT-IF ORIGINS. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Having been reading long enough to (vaguely) remember the first what-if/imaginary tales (as in, not part of continuity and/or canon), like Superman asking his Fortress of Solitude’s superdupercomputer “what if Krypton hadn’t exploded,” etc… and, Bog knows why, taking those visualizations as, ahem, gospel, versus, “yeah, coulda gone that way”, ult(cough)imately leading to (some of) these stories becoming canonized parallelisms (I’m talking about you, Marvel Ultimate)… and (while I also fault DC in many cases) I’m not moved/interested by/in many of Marvel’s What If’s, well, there’s one particular issue that remains dear to my heart — What If #11, What If The Original Marvel Bullpen Had Become The Fantastic Four?, written and penciled by Jack Kirby!

“[What if] four members of the original Marvel Bullpen were turned into real-life versions of the Fantastic Four: Stan Lee as Mister Fantastic, Sol Brodsky as the Human Torch, Jack Kirby as the Thing, and Flo Steinberg as the Invisible Girl.”

I’ve still got my copy in one of my “do not sell” boxes.

This is (also) among my favorites of “real world people guesting/in comic stories” (I’m also fond of Don Rickles’ appearances in Kirby’s first New Gods stories/plotlines in Jimmy Olsen; ditto Saturday Night Live’s Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time-Players teaming up with Spiderman in Marvel Team-Up #74.) (No, I don’t remember/know the deets, I’m looking ’em up as I go.) (And then there was the Groucho Marx-y character in a Howard the Duck annual…)

Filers can read and enjoy this Kirby masterpiece! It’s on Marvel’s streaming comic service… also in collected-in-book form, in What If? Classic: The Complete Collection Vol. 1 available from bookstores, (free from) libraries and e-free (on HooplaDigital.com ). And perhaps from a nearby friend.

(4) THE NEXT GREAT SFF AWARD. I commented on Camestros Felapton’s blog about the almost nonexistent window between when the Dragon Award ballot is released and the close of voting, and how many novels are finalists, making the award ultimately for the most popular book nobody has read or plans to read before they vote.

Greg Hullender found in that the seed of a great idea:

Hey, that’s a category we’re sorely lacking: most popular unread book. “Looking through your mountain of unread books, which one do you feel most guilty for not having read yet?”

It could have several categories:

Most Popular Unread Book That I Think is SF.

Most Popular Unread Book That I Think is Fantasy.

Most Popular Unread Book That I Suspect Might Not Be Genre.

Most Popular Unread Book That I Bought Mostly for the Cover.

Most Popular Unread Book That I Can’t Remember Why I Bought It.

What would be a good name for these awards? The Tsundoku Awards is too obvious a name. But obviously the prize for winning in a category should be a new book.

(5) AC/DC. “Robin, Batman’s Sidekick, Comes Out As Bisexual” – here’s a transcript of NPR’s discussion on Morning Edition.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, HOST:

After 80 years, Batman’s trusted sidekick finally had his coming-out moment. In the latest comic, Robin – his real name is Tim Drake – accepts a male friend’s offer to go on a date. Many fans of the character have been looking forward to this.

MEGHAN FITZMARTIN: Tim’s struggle with identity – he knows who he is when it comes to vigilantism. But this was a space where it felt the most correct. This was the next moment for him.

NOEL KING, HOST:

That’s Meghan Fitzmartin. She’s the writer for this series of DC Comics.

FITZMARTIN: The significance, I think, has been others seeing themselves in the character and feeling seen and cared for in a way that speaks to something that they’ve seen for a long time.

KING: Robin made his first appearance back in 1940. And he’s not the first comic book superhero to come out as queer, but he is by far the most high-profile one.

GLEN WELDON, BYLINE: People like Northstar, Batwoman, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Iceman, Apollo, Midnighter. But you notice something about all those names. They’re not necessarily household names….

(6) YOUR TAX QUATLOOS AT WORK. James Davis Nicoll probably didn’t have an easy time finding “Five Sympathetic Science Fiction Bureaucrats”.

Fictional bureaucrats often serve as convenient hate sinks, providing the author with characters whose occupation is generally considered fair game for scorn. Obstructive bureaucrats abound in fiction, perhaps because they are not infrequently encountered in real life. But not all writers settle for such easy targets. Indeed, some writers have gone so far as to make a bureaucrat or two into sympathetic figures.

Don’t believe me? Consider these five….

Aiah from Metropolitan by Walter Jon Williams (1995)

Aiah is a low-level functionary in Jaspeer’s Plasm Authority. Roughly speaking, she works for this world’s electric company, plasm being geomantic energy. Hardly a position to command respect, save when one considers that Aiah is a member of a despised ethnicity, the Barkazil. Convincing her coworkers to trust her with even minimal responsibility is a victory of sorts.

Fate hands Aiah a treasure in plasm. In another person’s hands, this would be the first step towards the sort of Simple Plan that ends with the protagonists as dead as a Coen Brothers’ criminal. Aiah, however, is not just hardworking and ambitious. She is cunning as well, which means not only will she leap on the chance to escape her circumstances, and not only can she find someone willing to assist her with her windfall—she has every chance of surviving the transaction.

(7) CONDENSED CREAM OF MFA. Lincoln Michel puts “Everything I’ve Learned about Being a ‘Professional’ Writer in One Post” at Counter Craft.

Last week there was a bizarrely contentious Twitter debate about whether MFA programs should offer professional advice to students or whether it should be a sacred space for art without the messiness of business. I won’t wade into all the threads, but I’m firmly on the side of publishing demystification. I always dedicate part of my MFA courses to answering student questions about submissions, agents, etc. Perhaps this is because I had to figure all of this out myself while so many writers around me seemed to have been passed all this knowledge in secret. I don’t mean that I’m not privileged, but just I didn’t have any family publishing connections or professional mentors or even know any authors growing up. I wish I’d gotten more of a professional education, from banal things like freelance taxes to general advice like how willing you have to be to promote your own work—did you know I have a SF novel called The Body Scout publishing on 09/21 that you can preorder today???—and so I figured I’d just write down everything I’ve learned here in the hope it helps someone else….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

  • 2010 – Eleven years ago at Aussiecon 4 where Garth Nix was the Toastmaster, China Miéville won the Hugo for Best Novel for The City & The City. It shared this honor with The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi.  It was published by Del Rey / Ballantine in hardcover the previous year. Other nominated works that year were Cherie Priest‘s Boneshaker, Robert J. Sawyer‘s Wake, Robert Charles Wilson‘s Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America and Catherynne M. Valente‘s Palimpsest. It would win an amazing number of other awards including the Arthur C. Clarke Award, a BSFA, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, a Kitschie (Red Tentacle) Award, a Locus for Best Fantasy Novel and a National Fantasy Fan Federation Speculative Fiction Award (Neffie). It would be nominated for, but not win, a Nebula. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 11, 1902 Jack Binder. Thrilling Wonder Stories in their October 1938 issue published his article, “If Science Reached the Earth’s Core”, where the first known use of the phrase “zero gravity” is known to happen.  In the early Forties, he was an artist for Fawcett, Lev Gleason, and Timely Comics.  During these years, he created the Golden Age character Daredevil which is not the Marvel Daredevil though he did work with Stan Lee where they co-created The Destroyer at Timely Comics. (Died 1986.)
  • Born August 11, 1932 Chester Anderson. New Wave novelist and poet. He wrote The Butterfly Kid, the first part of the Greenwich Village trilogy. It was nominated for a Hugo Award at Baycon. He wrote one other genre novel, Ten Years to Doomsday, with Michael Kurland. Not even genre adjacent, but he edited a few issues Crawdaddy! in the late Sixties. (Died 1991.)
  • Born August 11, 1959 Alan Rodgers. Author of Bone Music, a truly great take off the Robert Johnson myth. His “The Boy Who Came Back From the Dead” novelette won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction, and was nominated for a World Fantasy Award, and he was editor of Night Cry in the mid Eighties. Bone Music is the only work available from the usual suspects. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 11, 1961 Susan M. Garrett. She was a well known and much liked writer, editor and publisher in many fandoms, but especially the Forever Knight community. (She also was active in Doctor Who and The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne fandoms. And no, I had no idea that the latter had a fandom given its short longevity.) She is perhaps best known for being invited to write a Forever Knight tie-in novel, Intimations of Mortality. It, like the rest of the Forever Knight novels, is not available from the usual suspects. (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 11, 1962 Brian Azzarello, 59. Writer of the comic book 100 Bullets, published by Vertigo. Writer of DC’s relaunched Wonder Woman series several years back. One of the writers in the Before Watchmen limited series. Co-writer with Frank Miller of the sequel to The Dark Knight Returns, The Dark Knight III: The Master Race.
  • Born August 11, 1976 Will Friedle, 45. Largely known as an actor with extensive genre voice work: Terry McGinnis aka the new Batman in Batman Beyond which Warner Animation now calls Batman of the Future, Peter Quill in The Guardians Of The Galaxy, and Kid Flash in Teen Titans Go!  to name but a few of his roles.
  • Born August 11, 1964 Jim Lee, 57. Korean American comic-book artist, writer, editor, and publisher.  Co-founder of Image Comics, now senior management at DC though he started at Marvel. Known for work on Uncanny X-Men, Punisher, Batman, Superman WildC.A.T.s. and Before Watchman. Now Lee is the sole Publisher of DC Comics.
  • Born August 11, 1983 Chris Hemsworth, 38. Thor in the MCU film franchise and George Kirk in the most recent Trek film franchise. Other genre performances include Eric the Huntsman in the exemplary Snow White and the Huntsman and The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Curt Vaughan in Cabin in the Woods and Agent H in Men in Black: International. Ok who’s seen the latter? It’s on my bucket list. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) DOUBLE JEOPARDY! Deadline says this is how they’re dividing the baby: “’Jeopardy!’: Mike Richards To Host Syndicated Show, Mayim Bialik To Host Primetime Specials & Spinoffs”.

The search for new permanent host of Jeopardy! is officially over. The show’s executive producer Mike Richards has been named the new permanent host of the venerable syndicated game show, succeeding the late Alex Trebek. Additionally, Sony Pictures Television announced that The Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik will host Jeopardy!’s primetime and spinoff series, including the upcoming Jeopardy! National College Championship set to air on ABC next year. The Greatest of All Time winner Ken Jennings will return as consulting producer for the show…. 

(12) HI BROOKE! “I’m Brooke Gladstone and I Am a Trekker” from WYNC Studios – listen or read the transcript at the link.

In September 1966, Gene Roddenberry dispatched the crew of the Starship Enterprise on its maiden voyage through space and time and into the American living room. In a vintage OTM piece, Brooke explores the various television incarnations of the franchise and the infinitely powerful engine behind it all: the fan.

Brooke Gladstone: Editor’s log star date, August 11th, 2021. To mark what would have been the 100th birthday of Gene Roddenberry, the creator of one of my favorite shows, we are replaying a piece I made all the way back in 2006. I’m Brooke Gladstone. I am a Trekker.

William Shatner: Get a life, will you, people? For crying out loud, it’s just a TV show.

Brooke: When William Shatner said that on Saturday Night Live, though to be fair, he didn’t write it, it stung.

Barbara Adams: I think a lot of fans feel like they are not respected. They’re almost ashamed to admit they’re fans of Star Trek unless they hear two or three references to Star Trek in the conversation.

Brooke Gladstone: Not Barbara Adams, so moved was she by this series; optimistic, pluralistic vision of the future that when serving on the jury in the whitewater trial 10 years ago, she wore the uniform of a Starfleet officer. “If it helps to make people think a little more about what those ideals are, then I’ll keep wearing this uniform,” she said, and then was promptly dismissed for talking to the press….

(13) DJINN BUZZ. The Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron staff are joined by Patricia Jackson and Elias Eells to discuss A Master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark on Saturday, August 14 at 3:00 p.m. US Eastern Time. The streaming show is accessible via YouTube, Facebook Live, and Twitch.

(14) HEAR VALENTE. The Glasgow in 2024 Worldcon bid presents “The Present is Purple with Catherynne M. Valente” in conversation with Ed Fortune, August 24 at 7:00 p.m. BST. Register here.

About this event

Summer is slowly fading away but Glasgow in 2024 is not taking a break in bringing you amazing bookish events! Join us on August 24th for an exciting evening with the brilliant Catherynne M. Valente to talk about her brilliant new novella The Past is Red, out now from TorDotCom… Grab a copy and an iced drink and join us!

The future is blue. Endless blue…except for a few small places that float across the hot, drowned world left behind by long-gone fossil fuel-guzzlers. One of those patches is a magical place called Garbagetown…

(15) TRAILER OF DOOM. Doom Patrol Season 3 streams September 23 on HBO Max.

Go through the looking glass with a super-powered gang of outcasts (including Matt Bomer as Negative Man, Joivan Wade as Cyborg, Brendan Fraser as Robotman, and more). Last seen at a decrepit amusement park where Chief (Timothy Dalton) witnessed his metahuman daughter, Dorothy (Abigail Shapiro) engaged in a fiery face-off with “The Candlemaker,” an ancient evil deity who will stop at nothing to fulfill his world-ending destiny, join the #DoomPatrol for an action-packed third season.

(16) ANIMATED WITCHER. Face your demons. The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf premieres August 23 on Netflix.

(17) KITTY THE FREELOADER. Science has discovered “Cats prefer to get free meals rather than work for them” reports Phys.org. No shit!

When given the choice between a free meal and performing a task for a meal, cats would prefer the meal that doesn’t require much effort. While that might not come as a surprise to some cat lovers, it does to cat behaviorists. Most animals prefer to work for their food—a behavior called contrafreeloading.

… “There is an entire body of research that shows that most species including birds, rodents, wolves, primates—even giraffes—prefer to work for their food,” said lead author Mikel Delgado, a cat behaviorist and research affiliate at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “What’s surprising is out of all these species cats seem to be the only ones that showed no strong tendency to contrafreeload.”

(18) THEORY X GETS SPACED. Jacobin’s Meagan Day investigates a lost bit of space history in “Houston, We Have a Labor Dispute”.

For decades, rumors have circulated about a strike in space. The story goes that in 1973, the three astronauts on the Skylab 4 mission took an unplanned day off to protest ground control’s management style, and the job action resulted in improved working conditions. It’s a great story.

According to Skylab 4 crew member Ed Gibson, that’s not exactly what happened. But his telling of events, though it differs from the tidy and entertaining “space strike” narrative, is still a tale of overwork, micromanagement, and perceived noncompliance bringing management to the table. And Gibson’s account still confirms that even a whiff of collective action can shift the balance of power in workers’ favor.

Earlier this year, the BBC broadcast an interview with Gibson, the last surviving Skylab 4 crew member, conducted by Witness History producer and presenter Lucy Burns. “We’ve only had one reporter other than you talk to us in the past forty-seven years,” Gibson told Burns. He set out to correct the record.

Gibson maintains that the crew didn’t mean to go on strike. But what did happen had a similar effect in terms of giving the astronauts leverage and intervening in a bad (extraterrestrial) workplace dynamic.

(19) HOME COOKING. Stephen Colbert’s monologue had more to say about that Field of Dreams Apple Pie Hot Dog beginning around 8 minutes into this YouTube video. Includes info about how to make it at home from creator Guy Fieri.

(20) READERS DIGESTION. Dark Horse Direct is taking pre-orders of these Dune: Sandworm Bookends based on how the creatures appear in the forthcoming movie. Cost  $149.99, only 2,000 will be sold.

Dark Horse Direct, in partnership with Legendary Entertainment, is proud to present the Dune: Sandworm Bookends! Based on the giant sandworms from the highly anticipated new film of the iconic science fiction epic, Dune, these bookends will have you watching your walking pattern over the sands of Arrakis.

Each half measuring 8.5” tall by 8” wide by 6.5” deep, this highly detailed bookend set is meticulously sculpted and hand painted to showcase the fearsome sandworm as it erupts out of the sands, ready to defend its territory and the most precious resource in existence.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Professional Movie Fan Tutorial:  Pro Tips” on Screen Rant, written by Ryan George, Dave Heuff plays professional super movie fan “Fredge” Buick, who explains that a professional movie fan has to be perpetually angry! (his avatar is Heath Ledger’s Joker), have questionable hygiene, and use a lot of duct tape to sneak the noisy snacks you want inside the theatre.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Richard Horton, Todd Mason, John A Arkansawyer, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jake.]

Pixel Scroll 8/4/21 I Think We’re A Scroll Now, There Doesn’t Seem To Be Any File Around

(1) FUTURE TENSE. The July 2021 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is Justina Ireland’s “Collateral Damage”, about how an Army platoon responds when an experimental military robot is embedded with it.

…Unit 10003 interacted with assigned platoon during physical training and assisted in small tasks. Complete recordings are now available for download. Morale of assigned unit is high and no hostility was experienced. ENTRY COMPLETE…

Writer and military historian Andrew Liptak’s response essay asks “Will members of the military ever be willing to fight alongside autonomous robots?”

…The development of the Greek phalanx helped protect soldiers from cavalry, the deployment of English longbows helped stymie large formations of enemy soldiers, new construction methods changed the shape of fortifications, line infantry helped European formations take advantage of firearms, and anti-aircraft cannons helped protect against incoming enemy aircraft. The technological revolution of warfare has not stopped, and today, robotics on the battlefield—through the use of drones, automated turrets, or the remote-controlled Flir PackBot—have made appearances in the most recent conflicts….

(2) BOUCHERCON CANCELLED. The 2021 Bouchercon, a convention for mystery fans that was scheduled to be held this month in New Orleans, has been cancelled by the organizers. Members received an email explaining the decision (which has not yet been published). Writers commenting on Facebook pointed to Louisiana’s COVID spike, The con will be held in the city in 2025, instead. The Anthony Awards are still happening and details of the online/virtual awards ceremony will be coming soon.

(3) LONGYEAR ACCEPTANCE SPEECH. Barry B. Longyear invites Facebook readers to hear his Prometheus Award acceptance speech via Zoom on August 21, followed by a panel discussion “SF, Liberty, Alternative Publishing Trends and the Prometheus Awards” hosted by LFS and sponsored by Reason Magazine. The Zoom event will take place 3:00-4:30 PM EDT on August 21 and it is open to the public. This is the Zoom event link.

(4) FLASH FICTION ROUNDUP. Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, CA presents “An evening of Flash Science Fiction with stories by Christopher Ruocchio, Brent A. Harris and David Brin” on August 10 at 6:00 p.m Pacific. Register for the free Zoom event here.

(5) BLUE PLAQUE SPECIAL. Another commemorative plaque honoring Tolkien has been installed on a British building: “Blue plaque celebrates time Lord of the Rings author Tolkien spent near Withernsea a century ago” reports the Yorkshire Post.

A blue plaque has gone up in Withernsea to mark the time Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien and his wife spent there when he was a soldier during World War One.

The Lifeboat Café, where it has gone up, occupies the site of 76 Queen Street, where Tolkien’s wife Edith lodged in 1917, while he was stationed at nearby Thirtle Bridge Camp, three miles away, for a time as commander of the Humber Garrison, which was tasked with protecting the coast from invasion.

Tolkien, who was recovering from trench fever which he’d picked up in France, had not yet been published

…The plaque, funded by wellwishers, was organised by Phil Mathison, the author of Tolkien in East Yorkshire 1917-1918.

Two others have been installed at the Dennison Centre in Hull, which was Brooklands Hospital during the First World war, and in Hornsea, where his wife stayed at 1 Bank Terrace.

(6) KISWAHILI SF PRIZE. The Nyabola Prize for Science Fiction was announced earlier this year, inviting writers between the ages of 18 and 35 to submit sci-fi and speculative fiction in the Kiswahili language. Over 140 million people speak Kiswahili in Eastern and Southern Africa and it is the most widely spoken African language in the world. The deadline to enter was May 31. Read the March 24 announcement here. It offers $1,000 to the first place winner, and $500 and $250 to the second and third place winners. The top ten stories will be published in an anthology.

In a recent interview published in The Conversation, two of the prize’s principal administrators, Mukoma wa Ngugi and Lizzy Attree, commented on the impact of empowering writers to create sci-fi in African language literature. “New Kiswahili science fiction award charts a path for African languages”.

…Mokoma adds that fostering science fiction in African languages changes the narrative that African languages cannot accommodate scientific discourse:

“There is also the idea that African languages are social languages, emotive and cannot carry science. Most definitely not true. All languages can convey the most complex ideas but we have to let them. There is something beautiful about African languages carrying science, fictionalised of course, into imagined futures.”

(7) THERE WILL BE WAR. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] This was originally a thread on Twitter, but Cory Doctorow compiled and posted it to his blog. “Games Workshop declares war on its customers (again)”. It references Making Light, Warhammer 40K (extensively) and “Starship Troopers.” 

There’s a difference between a con-artist and a grifter. A con-artist is just a gabby mugger, and when they vanish with your money, you know you’ve been robbed.

A grifter, on the other hand, is someone who can work the law to declare your stuff to be their stuff, which makes you a lawless cur because your pockets are stuffed full of their money and merely handing it over is the least you can do to make up for your sin.

IP trolls are grifters, not con artists, and that’s by design, a feature of the construction of copyright and trademark law.

Progressives may rail at the term “IP” for its imprecision, but truly, it has a very precise meaning: “‘IP’ is any law that lets me control the conduct of my customers, competitors and critics, such that they must arrange their affairs to my benefit.”…

(8) TALKING ABOUT PIRANESI. Susanna Clarke will discuss her Hugo-nominated and Kitschie-winning book Piranesi with Neil Gaiman in a free (or pay-what-you-can) online event September 2 at 11:30 a.m. Pacific. Get tickets here.

Step into the extraordinary and mysterious world of Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author Susanna Clarke as she discusses her spectacular novel, Piranesi, with the one and only Neil Gaiman live and online exclusively for 5×15. Join us for what promises to be an unmissable conversation between two of our best loved, most powerfully imaginative writers.

(9) THE BOOK OF VAUGHN. Boing Boing reports there’s a “Vaughn Bode documentary in the works”. [Note: The line over the “e” in his name is not shown here because WordPress doesn’t support the character.]

Vaughn Bode was one of the coolest underground artists of the 1960s and 1970s, painting a joyous mix of sexuality, psychedelia and appropriated cartoon tropes. It would have been his 80th birthday this month, and director Nick Francis is preparing a documentary about his short life and long influence.

(10) THE FORCES OF EVIL DO NOT SLEEP. Cora Buhlert writes about the new Masters of the Universe: Revelation cartoon and the classic sword and sorcery influences on the Masters of the Universe franchise in general in “Eternia Revisited – Some Reflections on Master of the Universe: Revelation”. Includes spoilers.

…Those cartoons were basically 25-minute toy ads and I knew that even as a kid (especially since the commercial breaks helpfully ran ads for the very same toys). Nonetheless, I loved them. They also had a big influence on me – how big I wouldn’t realise until many years later. And I’m far from the only one. Look at how many reboots, reimaginationings, live action versions, etc… of 1980s kid cartoons there have been in recent years. For example, right now Snake Eyes, a pretty neat looking movie based on the ninja character from G.I. Joe, is in the theatres. They may only have been glorified toy commercials, but those cartoons influenced a whole generation and have outlasted many of the more serious and wholesome media of the same era. At any rate, I don’t see a big screen Löwenzahn reboot anywhere. As for wholesome and educational cartoons, how wholesome and educational does Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids look now, knowing what we know about Bill Cosby?…

(11) THREE COSTUMERS PASS AWAY. The International Costumers Guild has announced the deaths of three veteran masqueraders in recent days.

R.I.P. Robert “G. Bob” Moyer. He was a fixture at many East-Coast Costume-Cons, and always had good garb. He was also known for his middle-eastern dance skills and charming personality.

More sad news for our community, Leo d’Entremont passed away suddenly at home last night. [August 1] He will be missed at many events and our thoughts go out to his wife and family.

Dana MacDermott passed last night. [August 3] An inspiration and icon to many, she will be missed. Our thoughts go out to her husband, Bruce MacDermott, as well as her sons, family and many friends.

(12) J.W. RINZLER (1962-2021). Jonathan Rinzler, who wrote under the name J.W. Rinzler, died July 28 from pancreatic cancer at the age of 58.

Berkleyside has a detailed appreciation of his career: “Remembering Jonathan Rinzler, bestselling author of ‘Star Wars’ books”.

Rinzler had a prodigious career as a bestselling author of cinematic history books about Star WarsIndiana Jones, and other 20th century blockbuster films. He joined Lucasfilm in 2001 and became the executive editor of its publishing arm, Lucasbooks. Over 15 years, he authored an extensive body of Star Wars-related publications, including The Making of Star Wars (a New York Times bestseller), The Making of The Empire Strikes BackThe Making of Return of the JediStar Wars: The Blueprints, and The Sounds of Star Wars.

… In addition to his multiple books about the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, he wrote The Making of AliensThe Making of Planet of the ApesThe Making of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, and Howard Kazanjian: A Producer’s Life.

…In addition to his nonfiction works, Rinzler wrote two novels, the No. 1 best-selling graphic novel The Star Wars, which he co-authored with artist Mike Mayhew, and his recent space history novel All Up…

Mary Robinette Kowal added this note to the announcement:

(13) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1972 – Forty-nine years ago at L.A.Con 1, Poul Anderson win the Best Novella Hugo for “The Queen of Air and Darkness”. (It was his fourth Hugo. All of his Hugo wins would be in the non-Novel categories.) Other nominated works “A Meeting with Medusa” by Arthur C. Clarke, “The Fourth Profession” by Larry Niven, “Dread Empire” by John Brunner and “A Special Kind of Morning” by Gardner R. Dozois. It would also win a Locus Award for Short Fiction and a Nebula Award for a Novelette. (One work, three different categories.)  It’s available, not surprisingly, in The Queen of Air and Darkness: Volume Two of the Short Fiction of Poul Anderson which is available from the usual suspects.

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 4, 1923 Paul Schneider. He wrote scripts for the original Star TrekStar Trek: The Animated SeriesThe StarlostThe Six Million Dollar Man, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He’s best remembered for two episodes of the original Trek series: “Balance of Terror” and “The Squire of Gothos.” “Balance of Terror,” of course, introduced the Romulans. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 4, 1937 David Bedford. Composer who worked with Ursula K. Le Guin to produce and score her Rigel 9 album which the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says is “a work that is musically pleasant although narratively underpowered.” I’ve not heard it, so cannot say how accurate this opinion is. (Died 2011.)
  • Born August 4, 1942 Don S. Davis. He’s best-known for playing General Hammond on Stargate SG-1 and Major Garland Briggs on Twin Peaks. He had a small part in Beyond the Stars as Phil Clawson, and was in Hook as Dr. Fields. Neat factoid: on MacGyver for five years, he was the stunt double for Dana Elcar. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 4, 1944 Richard Belzer, 77. In the Third Rock from The Sun series as himself, also the Species II film and an adaption of Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters, along with series work too in The X-FilesThe InvadersHuman Target, and a recurring role in the original Flash series to name a few of his genre roles.
  • Born August 4, 1950 Steve Senn, 71. Here because of his Spacebread duology, Spacebread and Born of Flame. Spacebread being a large white cat known throughout the galaxy as an adventuress and a rogue. He’s also written the comic novels, Ralph Fozbek and the Amazing Black Hole Patrol and Loonie Louie Meets the Space FungusSpacebread is available at the usual suspects for a mere ninety cents as is Born of Flame: A Space Story!
  • Born August 4, 1968 Daniel Dae Kim, 53. First genre role was in the NightMan series, other roles include the Brave New World tv film, the second Fantasy Island of three series, recurring roles on LostAngel and Crusade, the Babylon 5 spinoff Crusade series, Star Trek: VoyagerCharmed and voice work on Justice League Unlimited.
  • Born August 4, 1969 Fenella Woolgar, 52. Agatha Christie in “The Unicorn and The Wasp” episode of Doctor Who where she more than capably played off against David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. She was series regular Min in the Jekyll series. Her only other genre work was as Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester. 
  • Born August 4, 1981 Meghan, the former Duchess of Sussex, 40, Yes she’s done a genre performance or so. To be precise, she showed up on Fringe in the first two episodes of the second season (“A New Day in the Old Town” and “Night of Desirable Objects” as Junior FBI Agent Amy Jessup. She was also in the “First Knight” episode of Knight Rider as Annie Ortiz, and Natasha in “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Lose” on Century City

(15) COMICS SECTION.

(16) [email protected] Fans will get to experience two of the Fantastic Four’s greatest adventures in a new way when Fantastic Four Anniversary Tribute #1 is published in November. In the tradition of Giant-Size X-Men: Tribute To Wein & Cockrum #1 and Captain America Anniversary Tribute #1, this giant-sized issue will present classic stories with new artwork by today’s leading artists.

 Sixty years ago, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby made history and brought about the beginning of the Marvel Age of comics with the release of FANTASTIC FOUR #1. Now a bevy of Marvel’s finest creators will pay tribute to that monumental moment by reinterpreting, page by page, the story from that inaugural release as well as FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #3, the wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm!

(17) HULL & POHL. Andrew Porter took these photos of Elizabeth Anne Hull and her husband Frederik Pohl in years gone by. Hull died this week, and Pohl in 2013.

(18) TRYING TO BE HELPFUL. Daniel Dern nominates these as the titles for Phillip Pullman Dark Materials sequels.

  • The Precient Wrench
  • His Uglee Mugge
  • The Ambitious Protractor
  • The Slye Pliers
  • The Open Source Aleitheometer
  • The Dust Buster
  • The Unworthy Hammer
  • The Book In The Stone
  • The Sword In The Scroll

(19) SOUL MAN. The dark year 2204, in a world that has seen 73 years of continuous war. A Shaman is sent on a mission to convert the soul of a giant battle colossus. “The Shaman” curated by DUST.

The dark year 2204, in a world that has seen 73 years of continuous war. Recently mankind re-discovered the arts of Shamanism. The Shaman’s school of thought believes that every person or object has a soul. During battle Shamans step over into the Netherworld to find and convert the souls of their enemies’ giant battle machines. This tactic enables a single man to overcome an invincibly seeming steel monster. This is the story of Joshua, a Shaman, who is sent on a mission to convert the soul of a giant battle colossus. He does not yet know that the soul is prepared for his coming and that the deadly psychological soul-to-soul confrontation in the Netherworld will be on eye level.

(20) A DIFFERENT SHIELD BEARER. “The Multiverse Blows Open With Captain Carter In New Clips From Marvel’s ‘What If…?’ Series On Disney+”SYFY Wire sets the frame:

The animated series, which arrives on Disney+ next week, takes Loki‘s introduction of the multiverse and runs with it, presenting alternate outcomes for our favorite MCU heroes and villains. Overseeing all of these parallel dimensions is Uatu the Watcher (voiced by Wright), an omnipotent celestial being whose job it is to watch over the Earth without interfering….

(21) THE DRINK OF DRAGON CON. Makes me wonder what the official beverage of the Worldcon would be named.

(22) AIR APPARENT. [Item by Daniel Dern.] What a difference a (longer) day makes: “’Totally New’ Idea Suggests Longer Days On Early Earth Set Stage For Complex Life” at Slashdot.

“A research team has proposed a novel link between how fast our planet spun on its axis, which defines the length of a day, and the ancient production of additional oxygen,” reports Science Magazine. “Their modeling of Earth’s early days, which incorporates evidence from microbial mats coating the bottom of a shallow, sunlit sinkhole in Lake Huron, produced a surprising conclusion: as Earth’s spin slowed, the resulting longer days could have triggered more photosynthesis from similar mats, allowing oxygen to build up in ancient seas and diffuse up into the atmosphere.”

(23) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra and Retaliation,” the Screen Junkies say the first two G.I. Joe movies are “like Team America but without the jokes” that mixes “generic military dudes and hot military babes.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Lise Andreasen, Daniel Dern, Jennifer Hawthorne, Joey Eschrich, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

John Romita Jr. Cover Showcases Evolution of Marvel’s Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four #35, the giant-sized 60th anniversary issue, will be on the stands September 1, 2021.

Joining series writer Dan Slott will be legendary artist John Romita Jr., marking his highly-anticipated return to Marvel. In addition to drawing a story within this epic issue, Romita Jr. will also grace the issue with a wraparound cover.

Highlighting Reed, Sue, Ben, and Johnny’s transformation since Stan Lee and Jack Kirby first created them, the artwork serves as both a celebration of Fantastic Four’s journey and a teaser of the story inside: a showdown across Fantastic Four history against the master of time travel—Kang the Conqueror! 

“I was lucky to begin my career with Marvel and now am extremely lucky to re-connect with Marvel. That’s an enormous amount of good fortune. I sincerely thank all the folks up at Marvel, and Disney, who worked for this fortunate re-connection to happen.,” Romita Jr. said. “To add to all this, and I hate to add a third section to my good fortune, is the opportunity to start off with a huge project, which is the 60th anniversary of the Fantastic Four!”

Home to concepts and characters that revolutionized comic book storytelling, the Fantastic Four have enjoyed one of the most memorable sagas in comic book history. Check out John Romita Jr.’s cover below along with some never-before-seen artwork and be there for one of their greatest adventures yet when Fantasic Four #35 hits stands on September 1.

[Based on a press release.]

More art follows the jump.

Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 7/20/21 Sixteen Kzin And Whaddaya Get

(1) WE MADE IT. As you surely already know, “Jeff Bezos just went to space and back”CNN has the details.

Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, went to space and back Tuesday morning on an 11-minute, supersonic joy ride aboard the rocket and capsule system developed by his space company, Blue Origin.

Riding alongside the multibillionaire were Bezos’ brother, Mark Bezos; Wally Funk, an 82-year-old pilot and one of the “Mercury 13” women who trained to go to space in the 20th century but never got to fly; and an 18-year old recent high school graduate named Oliver Daemen who was Blue Origin’s first paying customer and whose father, an investor, purchased his ticket.

Funk and Daemen became the oldest and youngest people, respectively, ever to travel to space. And this flight marked the first-ever crewed mission for Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital space tourism rocket, which the company plans to use to take wealthy thrill seekers on high-flying joy rides in the months and years to come….

(2) THE REACTION. People found ways to have fun with today’s headline story.

  • Jennifer Hawthorne noted, “There’s a bunch of these on a similar theme on Twitter today.”

(3) NEED FOR SPEED. [Item by Dann.] Leave it to the Banana Jr. 6000 to finally find out where Calvin went when he grew up: see Berkeley Breathed’s Facebook page, That is not the most unusual thing I’ve typed this week.  But it’s close!

(4) HUGO VOTER PACKET. DisCon III notified members today they have made additions to the Hugo Voter Packet.

Since you’ve already downloaded some or all of the Hugo Awards Packet, we want to let you know that we have uploaded new or revised material in the following categories:

  • Best Novelette
  • Best Series
  • Best Editor, Short Form
  • Best Fancast
  • Best Video Game

Additionally, a portion of Sheila Williams’ packet materials in Best Editor, Short Form, was blank, and we have uploaded the corrected documents. We sincerely apologize to Sheila for our error.

(5) PRO TIP. Every writer has bad days. That’s Jane Yolen’s message today on Facebook:

One book turned down, four poems rejected. That is how my day has started. But movement is all. Those poems, that book can now go to it next round. That book editor can be sent a new mss. There is no real downside to this.

Reminder: A Wrinkle in Time was rejected by 29 editors.

It took 20 years to sell my book with grandaughter,: Nana Dances. Coming out this month.

To Think That I Saw It On Market Street was rejected over 30 times and Suess was about to self-publish when Bennett Cerf began Random House,

Owl Moon was turned down by 5 editors as too quiet.

Sleeping Ugly was dumped by 13.

Smile, move on, and have the last laugh and the last dance with the SMART editor!

(6) PROJECT HAIL MARY NARRATOR SPEAKS. AudioFile features the narrator of Project Hail Mary in their short video “Behind the Mic with Ray Porter”.

From his very own home studio located somewhere in outer space, narrator Ray Porter shares why he loved recording Project Hail Mary, the fantastical space opera from Andy Weir (The Martian). After listening to Ray’s narration, you might feel the same way he does—sad the audiobook is over.

(7) WHY SPY. At CrimeReads, sf writer Alma Katsu interviews Owen Mathews about his novel Red Traitor. “Alma Katsu and Owen Matthews on Ideal Spies, Historical Fiction, and the Russia-West Divide”.

Katsu: Was there something you felt was lacking in the genre that you wanted to correct? Something overlooked that deserved to be highlighted?

Matthews: Every writer needs his protagonist to have a secret, and for him to be hunted. And the world of spies gives you that plot structure on a plate—what greater secret is there than to be a spy, and what better chase is there than a spy hunt? As for wanting to correct a genre or highlight a point, I think every writer worth their salt writes because they think they can tell a story better, move movingly, more excitingly, than the next guy. I would add that most of the actual spies that I have known are actually far less interesting and lead much more boring lives than one would like to imagine, so that banal reality needs to be corrected with a heavy dose of fictional jeopardy. 

(8) MORE GOOD STUFF. [Item by JJ.] One of the stories in John Joseph Adams’ and Veronica Roth’s Best American Science Fiction And Fantasy 2021 anthology came from the Take Us To A Better Place: Stories anthology which is available as a free download in both English and Spanish. Features stories by: Madeline Ashby, Hannah Lillith Assadi, Calvin Baker, Frank Bill, Yoon Ha Lee, Karen Lord, Mike McClelland, Achy Obejas, David A. Robertson & Selena Goulding, and Martha Wells

Unfortunately, you have to have an account with either Amazon/Kindle, Apple/iBooks, or B&N/Nook to get the free ebook, but there is also a PDF available.

(9) GRRM HITS THE ROAD. George R.R. Martin told Not A Blog readers about his trip “Back to the Midwest” to receive his honorary doctorate at Northwestern University (see his Graduation Speech on YouTube) and enjoy some other adventures. He also gave an interview to a local PBS station (linked from his post). Hopefully he was well-rested by the time he got home because —

…Of course, during my ten days on the road and away from the internet, the email piled up, and I found some eight hundred letters waiting for me on my return.   Which may help explain why I am weeks late in making this post, but…

(10) SCARS OF A LIFETIME. At CBR.com, “Alan Moore’s Daughter Explains His Anger at the Entertainment Industry”.

Leah Moore, a writer and the daughter of comic book icon, Alan Moore, responded to the discussion of a recent Hollywood Reporter article about comic book writers not being fairly compensated financially for their work by noting that the things discussed in the article are part of the reason why her father is so angry at the entertainment industry.

Moore has been quite open over the years in defense of her famous father, as she dislikes the idea that his anger has been portrayed as though he is being unreasonable when she obviously feels that it is not, and articles like the Hollywood Reporter one let people in on just how messed up things can be for even the top comic book writers of the world like Alan Moore (for instance, the article cites complaints from Ed Brubaker and Ta-Nehisi Coates, two of the most successful comic book writers working today).

(11) MEMORY LANE.

  • Between 1956 and 1967, Robert Heinlein would win four Hugos for Best Novel. His first win would be for Double Star at NyCon II followed four years at Pittcon for Starship Troopers. Two years later at Chicon III, he’d get his third for Stranger in a Strange Land.  His last of the four wins in the period, and indeed his last ever Hugo (not counting Retro Hugos of which he’d  later win seven), would be at NyCon 3 for The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 20, 1924 —  Lola Albright. Though she’s best remembered best known for playing the sultry singer Edie Hart, the girlfriend of private eye Peter Gunn, she did do some genre performances. She’s Cathy Barrett, one of the leads in the Fifties film The Monolith Monsters, and television was her home in the Fifties and Sixties. She was on Tales of Tomorrow as Carol Williams in the “The Miraculous Serum” episode, Nancy Metcalfe on Rocket Squad in “The System” episode, repeated appearances on the various Alfred Hitchcock series, and even on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in the episodes released as the feature length film The Helicopter Spies. She was Azalea. (Died 2017.)
  • Born July 20, 1930 Sally Ann Howes, 91. Best remembered as being Truly Scrumptious on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. She was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical  for her performance in Brigadoon. And I’ll note her playing Anna Leonowens In The King & I as Ricardo Montalbán played the lead role as that’s genre as well.
  • Born July 20, 1931 Donald Moffitt. Author of the Baroness thriller series, somewhat akin to Bond and Blaise, but not quite. Great popcorn literature. Some SF, two in his Mechanical Skyseries, Crescent in the Sky and A Gathering of Stars, another two in his Genesis Quest series, Genesis Quest and Second Genesis, plus several one-offs. (Died 2014.)
  • Born July 20, 1938 Diana Rigg, née Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg. Emma Peel of course in The Avengers beside Patrick Macnee as John Steed. Best pairing ever. Played Sonya Winter in The Assassination Bureau followed by being Contessa Teresa “Tracy” Draco di Vicenzo Bond on On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. By the Eighties, she’s doing lighter fare such as being Lady Holiday in The Great Muppet Caper and Miss Hardbroom in The Worst Witch, not to mention The Evil Queen, Snow White’s evil stepmother in Snow White. Next she would get a meaty role in Game of Thrones when she was Olenna Tyrell. Oh, and she showed up in Dr. Who during the Era of the Eleventh Doctor as Mrs. Winifred Gillyflower in the “The Crimson Horror” episode. (Died 2020.)
  • Born July 20, 1942 Richard Delap. Canadain fanzine writer who wrote for Granfalloon and Yandro. He nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twice but lost to Harry Warner, Jr. at St.Louiscon, and Wilson Tucker at Heicon ‘70. He published Delap’s F&SF Review. He co-edited The Essential Harlan Ellison. He died of AIDS complications just after it was published. (Died 1987.) 
  • Born July 20, 1957 Michael ‘Mike’ Gilbert. A fan artist in the late ’60s in Locus and other fanzines as well as an author, and publishing professional. Locus notes his wife was the co-publisher of DAW Books, and Mike worked in both editorial and art capacities at DAW, and was one of their primary first readers. (Died 2000.)
  • Born July 20, 1959 Martha Soukup, 62. The 1994 short film Override, directed by Danny Glover, was based on her short story “Over the Long Haul”. It was his directorial debut. She has two collections, Collections Rosemary’s Brain: And Other Tales of Wonder and The Arbitrary Placement of Walls, both published in the Nineties.  She won a Nebula Award for Best Short Story for “A Defense of the Social Contracts”. “The Story So Far’ by her is available as the download sample at the usual suspects  in Schimel’s Things Invisible to See anthology if you’d liked to see how she is as a writer. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side has a genre-adjacent airborne calamity.
  • Lio knows who this call is for.

(14) CLOSING TIME? In “Exterminate! Exterminate! Why it’s time for Doctor Who to die”, The Guardian’s Martin Belam says Doctor Who looks tired.  

…As someone who loved Tom Baker as the Doctor in the 70s, I have found the success of the 2005 revival wonderful to watch. But while Doctor Who looks better than it ever has – the sequences of the Cybermen marching through their battle cruiser towards the end of the last season were worth the price of admission alone – everything around it feels tired.

The ability to travel anywhere in time and space makes Doctor Who a series that could potentially tell a million brilliant different stories, and Chibnall’s innovation of “the Timeless Child”, meaning there are potentially dozens of guest star Doctors Who we have never met before, opens it up to go in new directions.

But it doesn’t feel as if it is close to telling a million brilliant stories. It feels as if it is telling an increasingly self-absorbed meta-story about its own run, accompanied by a very vocal online fandom that isn’t quite sure what it wants, but knows it doesn’t want this.

Maybe the BBC needs to try something other than carrying on. A break. A feature film. A co-production deal. An anthology series featuring familiar characters from the Whoniverse who aren’t the Doctor. Anything other than slowly grinding out another couple of series formatted as if it were still 2005….

(15) GORN TOON. Here’s a piece by artist Jacob Paik (http://jpaikmedia.com/) of the Gorn captain from the Star Trek episode “Arena.” (Click on image to see it completely.) 

(16) RESISTANCE MAY BE THE POINT. Nature tells why “Massive DNA ‘Borg’ structures perplex scientists”.

The Borg have landed — or, at least, researchers have discovered their counterparts here on Earth. Scientists analysing samples from muddy sites in the western United States have found novel DNA structures that seem to scavenge and ‘assimilate’ genes from microorganisms in their environment, much like the fictional Star Trek ‘Borg’ aliens who assimilate the knowledge and technology of other species.

These extra-long DNA strands, which the scientists named in honour of the aliens, join a diverse collection of genetic structures — circular plasmids, for example — known as extrachromosomal elements (ECEs). Most microbes have one or two chromosomes that encode their primary genetic blueprint. But they can host, and often share between them, many distinct ECEs. These carry non-essential but useful genes, such as those for antibiotic resistance.

Borgs are a previously unknown, unique and “absolutely fascinating” type of ECE, says Jill Banfield, a geomicrobiologist at the University of California, Berkeley. She and her colleagues describe their discovery of the structures in a preprint posted to the server bioRxiv1. The work is yet to be peer-reviewed….

(17) VON WITTING’S FB ACCOUNT DIES THE DEATH. Well-known European fan Wolf von Witting (who wrote a guest post for us in March, “Inexplicable Phenomena and How To Approach Them”) announced to his mailing list that he has abandoned Facebook after the following experience:

On July 15th Facebook locked my account because of suspicious activity.

What I did, was trying to log in from Bucharest.

My Yahoo-mail service also noted an unexpected login and sent an alert to my other email accounts. I simply confirmed it was me by following the given instructions.

With Facebook it was not so smooth. Not even the link from my Yahoo account could open it. I read somebody’s story about how difficult it was for him to get his account back, once it had been locked. I refuse to follow Facebook’s complicated and intrusive demands to re-open my account.

Today I sent them my final message, which I doubt they will read. Same as all the other messages I sent. They have my email, so in theory they could be answering, were they not too big for their own good. The story of the other guy concluded with “They have all the power.”

I disagree. I have the power not to associate with such poor totalitarian service. They can literally stuff the account where the sun doesn’t shine. They have my blessing. I won’t be using it any further. Ever.

My final message to Fb was as follows:

“Why do you have this function? It fills no purpose. No one appears to be reading it. No one answers. Nothing happens. I might as well talk to a dead fish. Why would I want to have back such bad and unreliable service? I thought about it and decided to not waste any more time with you. I am most certainly not going to jump through any of your hoops. Keep it! And do continue to saw off the branch you are sitting on. See where it gets you. You have my blessing. And this concludes our relationship.”

(499 of 500 possible characters used)

In my opinion, Facebook is an evil entity. It is my duty to oppose a totalitarian attitude.

Their service has not only proven unreliable, but also damaging. An article in the next issue of CoClock will deal with my damage control measures.

In the end I only feel free of another oppressor, big brother (in the bad sense) and social vampire.

A huge thank you, to Yahoo mail, which has worked without problems for 25 years.

This is now the ONLY way to communicate with me.

(18) MUGGLE TECH. SYFY Wire introduces another season of a YouTube series aimed at film fans: “Could You Survive the Movies? Season 2 clip explores Harry Potter”. If you lose your magic but still have science, maybe.

Merlin’s pants! Could You Survive the Movies? is officially back for a second season and SYFY WIRE has an exclusive first look at the Harry Potter episode debuting later this week. Hosted by Vsauce3’s Jake Roper, the YouTube Original series is basically MythBusters for die-hard cinephiles. Each episode tries to answer whether or not movie lovers would be able to live through the events of Hollywood’s most iconic films.

In this week’s magical installment, Jake plays a version of Mr. Potter, who loses all of his magical powers to a feared, Voldemort-esque dark wizard….

(19) AI ASTAIRE. Imagine what AI powered machines will be able to do in the next 5-10 years. (Boston Dynamics machines flawlessly and soulfully dancing in rhythm, video first posted in 2020). 

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Black Widow” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies say this film falls the familiar plot of “keeping important object X out of the hands of military leader Y by taking down massive airship Z.”  Plus Florence Pugh fans can see her morph from “the mischievous, braided-hair sister” in Little Women to the “mischievous, braided-hair sister in Little Women who has killed hundreds of people.”

[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Jennifer Hawthorne, Rich Lynch, Ben Bird Person, Wolf Von Witting, Dann, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Marvel Heroes Pay Homage As Captain America Celebrates 80th Anniversary

This year, Marvel Comics is honoring the 80th anniversary of Captain America with a new collection of variant covers. Throughout July, Marvel’s ongoing series will feature reimagined versions of iconic heroes including Black Widow, Miles Morales, and Spider-Man.

See the other seven Captain American 80th Anniversary Variant Covers following the jump.

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