Pixel Scroll 5/14/24 Down The Seven Pixels Scroll

(1) BUTLER CONFERENCE AT HUNTINGTON THIS MONTH. The Huntington Library in Pasadena, CA will host a two-day conference, “Futurity as Praxis: Learning from Octavia E. Butler” on May 23-24.

Octavia Butler.

The year 2024 marks the beginning of the critical dystopian future Octavia E. Butler (1947–2006) envisioned in her groundbreaking novel Parable of the Sower. Her fiction and the story of her life compel us to reckon with power, leadership, creativity, the Earth, human relationships, and the unknown possibilities that await us in the stars. Now, intellectuals from different communities will gather to contemplate her legacy. This conference asks how we have learned from Butler’s writing and what her archive at The Huntington—a short distance from where the author spent her formative years in Pasadena, California—can help future generations discover.

One of the panels will feature well-known sff creators.

Session 1: Creativity as Praxis

  • Moderator: Sage Ni’Ja Whitson
    Queer & Trans anti-disciplinary artist and writer, Department of Dance and Department of Black Study at UC Riverside
  • Damian Duffy
    Author of the graphic novel adaptations of Kindred and Parable of the Sower
  • Steven Barnes
    Author of The Eightfold PathMarvel’s Black Panther: Sins of the King podcast series, and Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror on Shudder
  • Sheree Renée Thomas
    Editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and the Dark Matter anthologies, poet, author of Nine Bar Blues: Stories from an Ancient Future

Tickets for the two-day conference are available here. General: $25 (Students free). Optional lunch: $20 (each day)

(2) ROMAN AROUND. “’Megalopolis’: New Teaser Trailer Drops Ahead of Cannes Premiere” reports Deadline.

Ahead of its world premiere here at Cannes, Francis Ford Coppola has dropped a teaser trailer for his master epic Meglopolis. While the first trailer showed Adam Driver’s ambitious architectural idealist Cesar attempting suicide atop a skyscraper, yet stopping time, here we see a montage of the pic’s action: a devastated city indulged in neon and noir infused Bacchanal.

Coppola’s latest is billed as a Roman Epic fable set in an imagined Modern America. The City of New Rome must change, causing conflict between Cesar Catilina (Driver), a genius artist who seeks to leap into a utopian, idealistic future, and his opposition, Mayor Franklyn Cicero (Giancarlo Esposito), who remains committed to a regressive status quo, perpetuating greed, special interests, and partisan warfare.  Torn between them is socialite Julia Cicero (Nathalie Emmanuel), the mayor’s daughter, whose love for Cesar has divided her loyalties, forcing her to discover what she truly believes humanity deserves.

(3) FROM SOUP TO NUTS. The Guardian has a long feature on the history of Coppola’s efforts to make this film: “’Has this guy ever made a movie before?’ Francis Ford Coppola’s 40-year battle to film Megalopolis”.

Early reactions to Megalopolis have been mixed. After a private screening in Los Angeles last month, one executive described it as “batshit crazy”….

…Others, however, were fulsome in their praise. “I feel I was a part of history. Megalopolis is a brilliant, visionary masterpiece,” said the director Gregory Nava after the screening. “I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t do anything for the rest of the day.” An anonymous viewer at a London screening went even further: “This film is like Einstein and relativity in 1905, Picasso and Guernica in 1937 – it’s a date in the history of cinema.”…

(4) CAROL SHIELDS PRIZE. The 2024 Carol Shields Prize for Fiction, which provides $150,000USD to the winner, is the largest English-language literary prize in the world for women and non-binary authors. So the announcement of the winner may be of interest to you even if the book is not genre.

V. V. Ganeshananthan has been named the winner for her novel Brotherless Night, published by Random House.

(5) COMPUSERVE GETS A PLAQUE. It didn’t take as long as you might have expected for one of the building blocks of personal computing to earn its own historic marker. Alex Krislov shared a photo of Ohio’s salute to CompuServe.

(6) LATEST ITERATION OF FANHISTORIC CLIFTON’S. Boing Boing says “Legendary L.A. eatery Clifton’s Cafeteria is back! (but is called Clifton’s Republic now)”.

…To say Clifton’s is kitschy doesn’t begin to capture it. It’s more like if uber-kitschy, ur-kitschy and mondo-kitschy had a baby….

We’re interested because LASFS used to meet at Clifton’s in the late 1930s. And consequently, Discover Los Angeles’ article “Clifton’s Republic: The Story of an LA Icon” has the tidbit of greatest interest to fans:

…The third floor is home to the Gothic Bar, which features a booth named after sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury, a patron of the original Clifton’s who became a pal of Meieran’s. The back bar is a repurposed 19th-century gothic altar. The third floor also features Clinton Hall, a live performance and private event space, and lots of taxidermy dioramas created in consultation with experts from the Natural History Museum….

(7) HE’S ON THE COVER. Fantasy author Lev Grossman in on the front of Publishers Weekly.

(8) DON’T REIGN ON THEIR PARADE. Scavenger’s Reign may get a second chance on another platform. “Netflix Just Saved 2023’s Most Underrated Sci-Fi Show From Cancelation” reports Inverse:

Scavengers Reign, the remarkable but underseen sci-fi series that premiered on Max in late 2023. Scavengers Reign was widely regarded as one of the year’s best shows, and one of many projects that heralded a golden age for indie animation. Unfortunately, the series was canceled on May 10… but that development has a silver lining.

Per VarietyScavengers Reign will remain on Max (a rare concession for WB’s canceled shows), but its first season will also stream on Netflix. The rival streamer is reportedly interested in picking up the show for more seasons, but continuation is contingent on Scavengers’ success on the platform.

… Given Netflix’s growing interest in adult animation, the streamer might be an ideal destination. Scavengers Reign follows the crew of a deep space freighter after they crash on a hostile alien planet. Across 12 episodes, the crew works to find their way back to their ship, and survive a world trying to annihilate them. The series doesn’t shy away from dark themes, so it should feel at home alongside Netflix originals like Blue Eyed Samurai….

(9) TEDDY HARVIA CARTOON.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born May 14, 1944 George Lucas, 80. I can say without doubt George Lucas was a director whose first work I encountered was THX 1138. What a damn strange film that is. Upon rewatching it twenty or so years later, the Suck Fairy wasn’t pleased by it as I’ll say she holds that it just feels really dated now which I agree with her. 

Ahhh but then was Star Wars, and no I won’t accept the renaming it. Simply didn’t happen. The film itself which I’ve seen at the theater and watched a number of times since is extraordinary. That it garnered a Hugo at IguanaCon II shouldn’t surprise anyone here. 

George Lucas in 2009.

Confession time. I’ve not watched any of Star Wars films past the first three. I adore The Empire Strikes Back, a Hugo winner at Denvention Two, actually my favorite of the first three films. I don’t dislike the final film, Return of the Jedi, Hugo of course, this time at L.A. Con II, but I really do think the story is better in The Empire Strikes Back. Also, Lucas gave his screenwriting credit to Leigh Brackett for that film after her death from cancer.

So, what’s my next film that he did that I really like? Oh guess. It was when he was story writer and executive producer on the first four Indiana Jones films, which his colleague and good friend Steven Spielberg directed, so it is Raiders of The Lost Ark is my favorite film here (with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom being almost as good), and the last should been not have been done. So not surprisingly Raiders of The Lost Ark would win him and Spielberg a Hugo, this time at Chicon IV.

Need I say that The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles was wonderful? Yes, it stretched probability to the breaking point and way beyond continuously in terms of who young Indy met, but that was the sheer fun of the series. No Hugo nomination, why, oh why?

Did you know he wrote the story for Willow? (Not the screenplay.) Well, he did. Cool. I mean really cool. Noreascon 3 nominated it for a Hugo but a rabbit from Toon Town won that year. Speaking of really cool films, he was executive producer and co-edited Labyrinth with director Jim Henson. Yes, you nominated it for a Hugo, this time at Conspiracy ’87. 

He produced Howard the Duck, which the French had the gall to name on the one-sheets Howard Une nouvelle race de héros (Howard: A New Breed of Hero) was considered his worst film by far. It’s not a film I like but I feel that it should be noted here. No, you did not nominate Howard Une nouvelle race de héros for a Hugo. Nor did French give it any Awards either.

Finally for me, he also was the creator and executive producer of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series which premiered with a feature film of the same name that aired just before its first episode. 

I know he’s done a lot more including some new material now on Disney+ but I’m not taking that streaming service now. At some point, I’ll gorge myself over there but not yet. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro depicts the benefits of home delivery.
  • UFO lets a great line go astray.

(12) SPEAKING OF GEORGE. “’Grow up. These are my movies, not yours’: George Lucas Won’t be Happy How Star Wars Fan Group is Illegally Saving the Original Trilogy” Fandomwire says confidently.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away began George Lucas’ epic space opera tale that eventually grew into the pop culture phenomenon we know today as Star Wars. The original trilogy of films Lucas made during the 70s and 80s, became beloved across the globe, but the theatrical cuts of the movies have neared the brink of extinction following Lucas’ special edition re-releases.

As a result, a group of rebel Star Wars fans have taken it upon themselves to not only preserve but also digitally restore the original cuts so that the fanbase can enjoy the version of the films they first fell in love with. However, the group’s activities directly clash with Lucas’ vision for his franchise and border on a legal grey area. Here is why George Lucas won’t be happy with the rebel fans trying to preserve the original cuts of the original trilogy.

The original trilogy of Star Wars films, spearheaded by George Lucas were critical and commercial successes. However, in 1997 Lucas released the “Special Edition” of the films for the trilogy’s 20th anniversary, which featured extensive changes to the original theatrical cuts.

The original cuts have since become scarce. However, a group of Star Wars fans, known as Team Negative One have reportedly almost completely digitally restored the original cuts in 4K using 35-millimeter prints of the original trilogy….

To show how serious Lucas is about his later cuts —

…Similarly, when the National Film Registry aimed to preserve 1977’s Star Wars (later retitled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope), Lucas reportedly refused to provide them with a copy of the original theatrical release…

(13) Q&A ABOUT FUNDRAISING ANTHOLOGY. Broken Olive Branches is a charity anthology; over 30 authors in the horror community donated stories to help the civilians of Palestine. The proceeds from the anthology go to ANERA and the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund. Roseanna interviews the editor and some of the authors involved in “Roundtable Interview: Broken Olive Branches” at Nerds of a Feather.

(14) WHERE’S THE BEEF? AI raises the dead: “It was a classic rap beef. Then Drake revived Tupac with AI and Congress got involved” on NPR’s “Planet Money”.

In late April, Senator Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) began his testimony before a Senate subcommittee hearing by doing something unusual for a stuffy institution like Congress: He played a new song from the rapper Drake.

But it wasn’t Drake’s rap verse that Tillis felt was important for Congress to hear. Rather it was a verse in the song featuring the voice of the legendary — and long dead — rapper Tupac Shakur.

In a kind of uniquely modern sorcery, the song uses artificial intelligence to resurrect Tupac from the dead and manufacture a completely new — and synthetic — verse delivered in the late rapper’s voice. The song, titled “Taylor Made Freestyle,” is one in a barrage of brutal diss tracks exchanged between Drake and Kendrick Lamar in a chart-topping rap battle. Kendrick is from California, where Tupac is like a god among rap fans, so weaponizing the West Coast rap legend’s voice in the feud had some strategic value for Drake, who is from Toronto.

Drake, apparently, thought it’d be okay to use Tupac’s synthetic voice in his song without asking permission from the late rapper’s estate. But, soon after the song’s release, Tupac’s estate sent a cease-and-desist letter demanding that Drake take the song down, which he did. However — given the murky legal landscape regulating AI creations — it’s unclear whether Tupac’s estate actually has the law on their side.

And so the beef between Drake and Kendrick Lamar has become not only one of the most brilliant — and most vicious — battles in the history of rap. It’s also become a historic flashpoint for the issues posed by what you might call AI necromancy — resurrecting traits of the dead using AI technology.

We’ve entered a new world where anyone can conjure the voice or visual likeness of a dead celebrity — or really anyone, dead or alive — with a few clicks using AI software.

(15) JEOPARDY! SFF. [Item by David Goldfarb.] Catching up on Jeopardy Masters and also watching tonight’s episode, here’s the SFF content I saw:

Jeopardy Masters, Wednesday 5/8/2024

Game 1:

Literature: Who Said It? $2000: “I freewheel a lot…I reckon I’ll become president of the galaxy, and it just happens, it’s easy”

Matt Amodio got the right book but the wrong character: “What’s Dent?”

(One of his quirks is that he never bothers to change his question words but just always says “What’s…?”)

Amy Schneider gave us, “Who is Beeblebrox?”

Most Filers I assume know this, but just in case I’ll fill in that the book was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and the characters Arthur Dent and Zaphod Beeblebrox.

Literature: Who Said It? $1600: “For if he is still with the quick un-dead, your death would make you even as he is. No, you must live!”

Yogesh Raut knew or correctly guessed, “Who is Van Helsing?”

Literature: Who Said It? $1200: A Daily Double for Yogesh, who wagered all of his 15,400 points. “She betrayed you, Winston. Immediately — unreservedly. I have seldom seen anyone come over to us so promptly”.

Yogesh hesitated a bit, then tried, “Who is…O’Brien?” And this was correct, the inquisitor from 1984.

Literature: Who Said It? $400: “What’s taters, precious, eh, what’s taters?”

Matt got it: “What’s Gollum?”

Game 2:

On the Director’s Résumé, $2000: He spoke the silent language of horror in 1922’s “Nosferatu”

Victoria Groce got it: “Who is Murnau?”

Regular Jeopardy!, Monday 5/13/2024

In the Double Jeopardy round:

TV’s Fantastical Places, $1200: This undersea abode of cartoon fame is based on an actual atoll used for atomic testing between 1946 and 1958

Michael Richter tried, “What is SpongeBob Squarepants?” but this was the name of the show, not the place.

Returning champ Will Stewart knew, “What is Bikini Bottom?”

TV’s Fantastical Places, $2000: First seen in 1969, this planet on “Doctor Who” was caught up in a time war with the Daleks

Will knew it: “What is Gallifrey?”

Literary Title Occupations, $800: In a special edition, J.K. Rowling did her own illustrations for the story collection title “The Tales of Beedle the” this

Michael got it: “What is a bard?”

Literary Title Occupations, $400: Emily Chambers is one of these spiritual intermediaries in a C.J. Archer novel, hunting a demon & talking to a ghost

Will: “What is a medium?”

Literary Title Occupations, $1200: In “The Magician’s Nephew”, animals talk like humans & Jadis, an evil witch, flees from Charn & reaches this fantasy land

Will got this one too: “What is Narnia?”

TV’s Fantastical Places, $800: This castle was the ancestral home of Ned Stark & family on “Game of Thrones”

Will, evidently an SFF watcher, knew “What is Winterfell?”

TV’s Fantastical Places, $800: Mystic Falls is the locale for blood-sucking brothers Damon & Stefan on this long-running CW show

Joyce Yang got in for “What’s The Vampire Diaries?”

Jeopardy Masters, Friday 5/10/2024

Game 1, Double Jeopardy round:

Oscars for Makeup & Hairstyling, $1600: For this 2015 film, Lesley Vanderwalt got the idea for Furiosa’s look from an image of a girl with clay across her forehead

Mattea Roach got it: “What’s Mad Max: Fury Road?”

Oscars for Makeup & Hairstyling, $1200: This man has won 7 Academy Awards for makeup, including one for his work on “An American Werewolf in London”

Amy Schneider responded, “Who is Baker?” And Rick Baker was correct.

Oscars for Makeup & Hairstyling, $400: Makeup artist Ve Neill used moss to make Michael Keaton look like he crawled out from underneath a rock for this 1988 film.

Mattea asked us, “What’s ‘Beetlejuice’?”

Game 2, Single Jeopardy round

A Literary Tipple, $600: It takes a lot of flowers (weeds, some say) to make a batch of this stuff, the title of a Ray Bradbury novel

James Holzhauer knew it was dandelion wine.

Made You Say It, $1000: Compelled by his people’s naiveté, this Trojan said, “Don’t trust the horse…even when they bring gifts, I fear the Greeks”

Victoria Groce gave us, “Who is Laocöon?”

(16) ALIEN EMBASSIES. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] It was the monthly  ‘Sci-Fi Sunday’ over at Science & Futurism with Isaac Arthur with a look at the SF trope of alien embassies.

Because it was a Sci-Fi Sunday episode, Isaac assumed some sort of FTL travel but not instantaneous communication. He takes a (he himself says) simple assumption of all civilizations arising together and expanding their sphere of influence, which in 3-dimensions would give each 12 neighbors.

With regards to SF, he draws mainly on cinema and TV looking at embassies Babylon V, Star Trek and Stargate.  However Niven and Pournelle’s A Mote in God’s Eye,  and Dune do get a look in.

He also points to flaws in many SF shows’ plot arising out of mis-understandings making a fairly plausible case against such actually taking place.

He opines that the embassy would be in space for control biological contaminants (both ways) and here, it is bacteria rather than viruses are the major problem. He also notes that assuming an advanced planetary system might be colonized out to the equivalent of it Kuiper belt, such is the distance between stars that any traveler passing through a stellar empire would likely come no closer than many thousands of times the Kuiper orbit distance to a single star’s civilization and so no need or practicality to control travelers simply passing through.

“We often imagine encountering many alien civilizations, and establishing trade and relationships with them, but what would being an alien ambassador be like?”

35-minute episode below…

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

Pixel Scroll 5/5/24 Unscroll That Pixel And Do Us All A Favor, That File’s Lost Its Taste, And Try Another Flavor

(1) TROUBLED DENVER EVENT WON’T REPEAT IN 2025.  Anne Marble did a roundup about the complaints against Readers Take Denver in Pixel Scroll 4/22/24 item #5.

On May 3 USA Today did its own story about those complaints —“Rebecca Yarros disavows Denver expo amid horror stories, cancelation” – with the additional news that RTD 2025 has now been cancelled.

…All of the negative attention Readers Take Denver has received in the days, weeks following the event has prompted the cancellation of next year’s convention, which was previously scheduled for February 2025….

(2) TURNING THINGS TO GOLD. The original artwork for the cover of Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone will be auctioned June 26 by Sotheby’s reports CNN. It’s expected to set a record.

…When the illustration was first up for auction at Sotheby’s in London in 2001, it sold for around four times its estimated sale price, for a record £85,750 (about $106,000), according to a Sotheby’s press release Thursday.

…The record for an item related to the book series is currently held by an unsigned first edition of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” which sold for $421,000 at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, in 2021, according to Sotheby’s.

(3) SPOILER WARNING. There’s one in this item. Maybe two. “How Harry Potter Author J.K. Rowling Told Alan Rickman About Snape” in Deadline.

JK Rowling has shared the conversation she had with actor Alan Rickman, when she revealed to him the true complications of his character in the Harry Potter movies.

Rowling has recorded an interview for her website, answering fans’ questions about her writing process, with a preview transcribed in today’s Times of London. She revealed:

He rang me up and said, ‘Look, I’m spinning plates here. I really need to understand what Snape’s up to? Am I a pure baddie?’ He was the only person I told: ‘You were in love with Harry’s mother.’

Continues at the link.

(4) THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MEMORY HOLE IS IN SCOTLAND. “Scottish artist receives hundreds of copies of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four in the post” – the Guardian tells why.

Copies of George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece Nineteen Eighty-Four have been arriving at an artist’s studio in Edinburgh for months. Every shape and size, posted from Ukraine, Hong Kong, Peru, Germany, Cape Cod and Sarajevo.

Some are in mint condition, others are dog-eared, tea-stained, heavily annotated or turned into graffitied art works. One is a water-stained first edition; one is a secret love letter from a married woman to her first love; another, a graphic novel version, came from Orwell’s son Richard Blair.

Each has been donated to a unique installation in the community hall of Jura, the Hebridean island where Orwell, in dire poverty and desperately ill, wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four during the late 1940s, to mark its publication 75 years ago.

Hans K Clausen, a sculptor based in Edinburgh, is collecting 1,984 copies of the book to exhibit on Jura for three days in early June. It will be an interactive, “living” sculpture where visitors are invited to open and read every volume.

Many have arrived, often with overseas postmarks and customs stamps, addressed to “Winston Smith, care of Hans K Clausen”….

(5) JEOPARDY! [Item by David Goldfarb.] I got around to watching the first episode of the new Jeopardy! Masters tournament. Each episode has two games. I didn’t notice any SFF content in the first game, but there was in the second. Here are details:

In the first round:

Spell it!, $1000: How about this dwarves race of “Ring Cycle” fame whose name begins & ends with the same letter

Yogesh Raut got it: “What is N-I-B-E-L-U-N-G-E-N?”.

Meet the Smiths, $400: Matt Smith’s TV roles include the Doctor on “Doctor Who” & this member of the royal family on seasons 1 & 2 of “The Crown”

Yogesh again: “Who is Prince Philip?”

In the second round:

Authors’ Fictional Places, $2000. A Daily Double on which Yogesh bet 9400 points: The town of Eastwick, Rhode Island

Yogesh said, “Who is John Updike?” (The novel here being The Witches of Eastwick.)

Authors’ Fiction Places, $1600: A world of dragons & dragonriders, Pern

Amy Schneider rang in, then hesitated, but got to “Who is McCaffrey?”

Authors’ Fictional Places, $1200. They displayed a picture of a bespectacled, bald man holding a cloth, sitting next to a model of a fantasy setting that Filers would recognize. The clue: Resting on the backs of four elephants atop a giant turtle, Discworld.

Yogesh knew it: “Who is Pratchett?”

Author’s Fictional Places, $400: Castle Rock, Maine.

Yogesh again: “Who is King?”

(Fictional Places $800 was William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County, in case you were wondering.)

(6) 2024 CHINA SCIENCE FICTION INDUSTRY REPORT. South China Morning Post covers this year’s report on China’s sf business: “China wants sci-fi industry, led by megahit 3 Body Problem, to help tech make the jump to lightspeed”.

China’s US$15 billion sci-fi industry, which has gained global attention after the success of the Netflix show 3 Body Problem, offers a potential boost to the economy while aligning with Beijing’s aspirations to become a tech powerhouse, analysts said, underscoring the need for stronger government backing to fortify the sector.

The industry achieved 113.29 billion yuan (US$15.6 billion) in total revenue last year, representing a 29 per cent year on year increase according to the 2024 China Science Fiction Industry Report, released last week during the eighth China Science Fiction Convention in Beijing.

Science fiction could also help companies conceptualise and produce new ideas, such as the establishment of a human settlement on Mars or brain-computer interfaces, according to Wu Yan, who co-authored the report….

(7) COPPOLA’S SF? EPIC. Whether it’s sff has been debated in the media – now you can decide with your own eyes. “’Megalopolis’ Teaser: Adam Driver Leads Francis Ford Coppola’s Epic”Variety gives us a look.

Adam Driver is on the edge in the first official teaser for Francis Ford Coppola’s “Megalopolis.”

“Megalopolis,” which will premiere in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, has been a project years in the making for the director, who first began work on the screenplay in the 1980s. The legendary filmmaker behind “The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now” has invested $120 million of his own money into the film…. 

…According to the official synopsis, “‘Megalopolis’ is a Roman Epic fable set in an imagined Modern America. The City of New Rome must change, causing conflict between Cesar Catilina (Adam Driver), a genius artist who seeks to leap into a utopian, idealistic future, and his opposition, Mayor Franklyn Cicero (Giancarlo Esposito), who remains committed to a regressive status quo, perpetuating greed, special interests, and partisan warfare. Torn between them is socialite Julia Cicero (Nathalie Emmanuel), the mayor’s daughter, whose love for Cesar has divided her loyalties, forcing her to discover what she truly believes humanity deserves.”…

(8) BERNARD HILL (1944-2024). Bernard Hill, who played Theoden in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, died May 5 reports Deadline. His best known film role was as the captain of the Titanic in James Cameron’s film. He played a number of secondary roles in about 20 genre/related productions, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999), The Scorpion King (2002) and Gothika (2003).

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Paul Weimer.]

Catherynne M. Valente in 2017.

Born May 5, 1979 Catherynne Valente, 45. By Paul Weimer: My strong impression of Cat Valente’s work came from the beginning of my reviewing life. Way back in the halcyon days of 2009, when I was first putting reviews out there, and getting review copies, I was offered a review copy of an author I had never heard before, named Cat Valente.  The novel was Palimpsest and well, the novel knocked me on my arse. Reader, I was not quite prepared for a novel that involved sex as a gateway to another realm of existence. It’s a sensuous, sensual and rich novel in immersive detail, and that immersion is something I would notice in future Cat Valente’s books.  I’ve not tried Palimpsest again, but I eagerly have read a number of her novellas and short stories. I particularly like “Six Gun Snow White” among these.

But, really, Space Opera is the one book I think of when I think of Cat Valente’s work.  Although I’ve never actually watched Eurovision, I know enough about it to understand the “Eurovision with Aliens in Space” high concept of Space Opera and I found the novel, like much of Valente’s work to be a sensory delight, queer, unapologetic, and with strongly defined and delineated characters. I think it is probably the one Valente book that if you are going to try Valente, that’s the one to try.  I know there have been discussions and thoughts about a sequel to the book ever since it came out, but part of the joy of Space Opera for me  is, like a lot of Valente’s other work, is that it is self-contained and complete within it’s pages. Sure, Valente has written other sequels and follow ups to other work, but this is a function I think of her exuberant and vivid writing, rather than any incompleteness in a work that needs sequels to resolve.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Fur Babies  has a variety of cartoonists’ styles of sound effects in honor of the day.  Can you identify them before you get to the explanation in the comments?
  • Carpe Diem cites a space traffic violation.
  • Bizarro asks what if Lord Greystoke had been raised by another species?
  • Frank and Ernest identify their dinosaur attacker.
  • Mannequin on the Moon depicts the royal Shakespearean eye exam.

(11) COLLECTIBLE GHOSTBUSTERS GEAR. Take this to the beach and scare the guys with the metal detectors. “Ghostbusters Plasma Series HasLab Two in the Box! Ghost Trap and P.K.E” at Hasbro Pulse.

P.K.E. METER

It’s no secret Egon Spengler was a very hands-on, DIY kinda scientist, often cobbling together his hardware from common, everyday items, and the P.K.E. Meter is no different. Egon used an old electric shoe polisher for the bulk of this handheld piece of tech, which trades in footwear for phantasms, determining specter location and quantification. The P.K.E. Meter acts like a divining rod when near a spectral being, with a pair of motorized arms extending outward from the sides, embedded lights flashing in sync with detectable spectral frequencies. 

Fans will be happy to know that not only have the HasLab Lab Lab Techs included classic P.K.E. Meter features, such as Ghost Detection Mode, but they’ve also included a very special upgrade. Yes, that’s right, the HasLab P.K.E. Meter 1:1-scale premium adult collectible features Egon Spengler’s personal upgrade from his time as the Dirt Farmer, in Summerville: Taser Mode! Taser Mode, if you’re unfamiliar, turns the P.K.E. Meter into a taser that forces an apparition to reveal itself… or explode in a burst of marshmallow goo, as we know from Podcast’s dealings with the mischievous Mini-Pufts in the Ecto-1.

GHOST TRAP

Needing something to contain and transport paranormal entities to a more permanent housing facility (namely the Ecto-Containment Unit), Ray Stantz and Egon Spengler designed the Ghost Trap. Consisting of a main chassis and a removable cartridge, the Ghost Trap has limited battery life and was never meant to accommodate ecto-plasmic beings for any extended period.

 This 1:1-scale premium adult collectible features everything fans love about this vital piece of ghost-bustin’ gear, including the removable cartridge, high-powered LEDs, premium metal finishes, functioning diecast metal wheels for smooth deployment, and more! This thing is so gorgeous that ghosts will be throwing themselves at you just for a chance to get trapped within this highly detailed, premium collectible!

(12) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. “How Long Will Your Blu-Ray Collection Last?” asks Gizmodo.

Physical media is very popular these days. Nostalgia, fandom, and streaming burnout have caused certain segments of American society to switch off their Amazon Prime accounts and fire up their Blu-ray players. One of the many advertised benefits of physical media is that it offers a more permanent, definitive form of media ownership than a streaming service. But just how permanent are your Blu-rays? And is physical media really built to last?…

… Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of open-source information about the longevity of commercially mass-produced Blu-rays, technically known as read-only discs, or BD-ROMs. The Blu-ray Disc Association, which developed and owns the technology behind the discs, ignored multiple emails I sent them, and the people that I did speak to on the subject couldn’t give me a very specific answer….

(13) DYKSTRAFLEX. “’Star Wars’ Motion Control Camera System Goes to Academy Museum”Variety explains its history.

A half-century ago when George Lucas decided to make “Star Wars,” a core visual effects team was handed a sizable challenge: Figure out a believable way to transport audiences to a galaxy far, far away. Essential to that goal was the development of a new type of motion control camera system: built in a Van Nuys warehouse where the production filmed space-set scenes such as the climatic trench run.

Now fans in Southern California can see the historic Dykstraflex camera system, newly restored and in working order, on display at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures starting Saturday in recognition of May the 4th, aka Star Wars day. The system weighs 1,500 lbs. and will be demonstrated by VFX vets with a 14-foot track and studio scale replicas of the Millennium Falcon, which is five-feet long, and a 20-inch X-Wing fighter.

(14) THE BOYS. Prime Video dropped “The Boys – Season 4 Official Trailer” this week. The series arrives at Prime on June 13.

In Season Four, the world is on the brink. Victoria Neuman is closer than ever to the Oval Office and under the muscly thumb of Homelander, who is consolidating his power. Butcher, with only months to live, has lost Becca’s son and his job as The Boys’ leader. The rest of the team are fed up with his lies. With the stakes higher than ever, they have to find a way to work together and save the world before it’s too late.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George takes us to “The Divergent Series: Insurgent Pitch Meeting”.

[Thanks to Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Paul Weimer, David Goldfarb, Martin Easterbrook, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, and Teddy Harvia for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 4/9/24 Ebenezer Scroll! Tonight You Will Be Visited By Five Pixels (Three, My Lord!)

(1) IMAGINE THERE’S NO MUSIC. “59 Years Later, The Oldest Sci-Fi Show Ever Is Fixing A Very Big Beatles Problem”Inverse tries to guess how Russell T. Davis will do it in a Fab Four-themed Doctor Who episode — because he can’t afford the rights to the real thing.

…In the upcoming relaunched Doctor Who Season 1 (2024), the Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) will travel to the 1960s in the forthcoming episode “The Devil’s Chord,” and, at some point, cross paths with the Beatles….

… As Russell T. Davies says in the new Empire interview: “‘How would you do a Beatles episode without Beatles music?” Previous movies about the Beatles have faced similar problems. The 1994 biopic Backbeat — which chronicles the Beatles’ early days in Hamburg — features no actual Beatles music. Meanwhile, the 1979 movie Birth of the Beatles (helmed by Return of the Jedi director Richard Marquand!) used cover versions of most Beatles songs to avoid copyright issues of the time.

But, for Davies and Doctor Who, the copyright law problem became “the entire plot.” As Davies says, “I knew instantly you can never play Beatles songs on screen because the copyright is too expensive… That’s where the idea came from — copyright law!”

Could this mean the Doctor and Ruby will inspire alternate Beatles songs? Could the Beatles be getting by with a little help from their time-traveler friends? We don’t know the exact plot of “The Devil’s Chord,” but there’s a good bet that the Doctor will almost certainly inspire a classic Beatles song. We’ll just have to read between the lines to figure out which one.

(2) CAROL SHIELDS PRIZE FINALISTS. The Carol Shields Prize shortlist has been revealed. The award recognizes “creativity and excellence in fiction by women and non-binary writers in Canada and the United States”.

One of the finalists is a work of genre interest.

  • Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton

In this eco-thriller, a guerilla gardening collective named ‘Birnam Wood’ (after Macbeth) meets an American billionaire. In his review for WHYY’s Fresh Air, John Powers writes, “this New Zealand-set book is a witty literary thriller about the collision between eco-idealism and staggering wealth.”

The other shortlisted books are:

  • Daughter by Claudia Dey
  • Coleman Hill by Kim Coleman Foote
  • A History of Burning by Janika Oza
  • Brotherless Night by V. V. Ganeshananthan

The winner gets $150,000 and a residency with Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland, Canada. Each of the four runner-ups will get $12,500. The prize-winner will be announced May 13.

(3) INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE SHORTLIST. Based on the descriptions of the works at the website, there are no books of genre interest among the 6 that made the International Booker Prize 2024 shortlist today.

(4) 2023’S MOST-CHALLENGED BOOKS. From the American Library Association: “ALA Releases Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2023”. Publishers Weekly has the list. Based on the descriptions, none are sff works.

The Most Challenged Books of 2023

  1. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, for LGBTQIA+, and sexually explicit content.
  2. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson, for LGBTQIA+ and sexually explicit content.
  3. This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson, for LGBTQIA+ and sexually explicit content.
  4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, for LGBTQIA+, and sexually explicit content, rape, drugs, profanity.
  5. Flamer by Mike Curato, for LGBTQIA+ and sexually explicit content.
  6. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, for rape, incest, sexually explicit and EDI (equity, diversity, inclusion) content.
  7. (Tie) Tricks by Ellen Hopkins, for LGBTQIA+ and sexually explicit content.
  8. (Tie) Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews, for sexually explicit content, profanity.
  9. Let’s Talk About It by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan, for LGBTQIA+ and sexually explicit content.
  10. Sold by Patricia McCormick, for sexually explicit content, rape.

(5) IN-BODY EXPERIENCES. Logan Dreher discusses “Octavia Butler, Audre Lorde, and the Power of Pleasure” at Reactor.

…I’ve been especially interested in revisiting three of her strangest works—her vampire novel Fledging; “Bloodchild,”a short story about a colony of humans living alongside an insectoid race of aliens; and the Xenogenesis trilogy, which explores human’s post-apocalypse relationship with a bioengineering race of extraterrestrials called the Oankali. Across these stories, I see a recurring fascination with the reality of our bodies, our needs and frailties, and the way our bodily desires inextricably link us to each other.

In each of these stories, humans are less powerful than their nonhuman counterparts, whether that’s the tentacled, pheromone-exuding Oankali in Xenogenesis or the three-meter long, centipede-like Tlic in “Bloodchild.” But for all of their physical superiority, the nonhuman characters are desperately reliant on their relationships with humans. In Xenogenesis, the Oankali can exude chemicals that drug humans with a thought and heal with a touch. They manipulate their own genetic makeup and easily heal their own bullet wounds. Yet they depend on their human relationships in order to live. Oankali adolescents go into metamorphosis where they are comatose—profoundly helpless—and rely on their human partners to care for them. In Imago, the final book in the trilogy, a young Oankali begins to physically dissolve, unable to survive because it does not have human companions to ground it in a stable form. As the narrator notes, “We called our need for contact with others and our need for mates hunger. One who could hunger could starve.”….

(6) AFROANIMATION AWARDS NEWS. “AfroAnimation Summit Honors Kemp Powers, Camille Eden, Bruce Smith & Jermaine Turner”Animation Magazine introduces these icons and other awards finalists.

AfroAnimation, the largest annual event featuring diverse and BIPOC animators and creators, announced today the honorees for the first AfroAnimation Summit Icon Awards

…Icon Award honoree Kemp Powers, director of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, will headline the summit’s kick-off panel April 10, ‘Developing Original Stories and the Art of Diverse Storytelling.’ Pioneer Award honoree Camille Eden, Vice President of Recruitment, Talent Development & Outreach at Nickelodeon, will speak on the April 11 panel, ‘Unveiling the Untold Narratives of Women in Entertainment: Triumphs, Challenges, & Journeys.’

In addition, Bruce Smith, creator and executive producer of Disney+’s The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, and Jermaine Turner, Director of Adult Genre Animation for Netflix, will be honored as industry pioneers at the AfroAnimation Icon Awards….

FRWD Awards Semifinalists. (Celebrates the art of diverse storytelling in the film, new media, and streaming platform industries.)

  • Best Series: Castevania, The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, Young Love, Scavengers Reign
  • Best Animation FeatureSpider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Elemental, The Boy and the Heron, Craig Before the Creek
  • Best International SeriesKizazi Moto: Generation Fire, IwájúKiya & the Kimoja HeroesSupa Team 4
  • Best Animation Director: Kemp Powers (Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse)

(7) M. JOHN HARRISON MEMOIR. Saga Press will publish author M. John Harrison’s anti-memoir Wish I Was Here on September 3, 2024. 

What is an “anti-memoir”? M. John Harrison has produced one of the greatest bodies of fiction of any living British author, encompassing space opera, speculative fiction, fantasy, and magical and literary realism.  Yet in WISH I WAS HERE, he asks, ‘Is there even an M. John Harrison and if so, where do we find him?’ This is the question the author asks in this memoir-as-mystery, turning for clues to forty years of notebooking: ‘A note or it never happened. A note or you never looked.’

Are these notebooks records of failed presence? How do they shine a light on a childhood in the industrial Midlands, a portrait of a young artist in counterculture London, on an adulthood of restless escape into hill and moorland landscapes? And do they tell us anything about the writing of books, each one so different from the last that it might have been written by another version of the author?

With aphoristic daring and laconic wit, this anti-memoir will fascinate and delight. It confirms M. John Harrison still further in his status as the most original British writer of his generation.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born April 9, 1937 Marty Krofft. (Died 2023.)

H.R.Pufnstuf.
Who’s your friend when things get rough?
H.R. Pufnstuf.
Can’t do a little, ‘cause he can’t do enough

Who here didn’t grow up watching some of the shows created by the Krofft brothers? Well, this is the day that Marty Krofft was born, so I get to talk about their work. So let’s get started.

Their very first work was designing the puppets and sets for Banana Splits, a rock band composed of four animal characters for Hanna-Barbera.  To get a look at them, here’s the open and closing theme from the show.

After working for Hanna-Barbera, they went independent with the beloved H. R. Pufnstuf, their first live-action, life sized puppet series. It ran a lot shorter than I thought lasting only from September to December of ‘69. Like everything of theirs, it ended up in heavy, endless syndication.

Next was The Bugaloos. This was a musical group, very much in keeping with the tone with Banana Splits. It was four British teenagers wearing insect outfits, constantly beset by the evil machinations of the Benita Bizarre. Here’s the opening song, “Gna Gna Gna Gna Gna” courtesy of Krofft Pictures.

Lidsville, their next show lasted but seventeen episodes, and I’ve no idea if the short longevity of their series, all of them, was planned or due to poor ratings. This show had two types of characters: conventional actors in makeup taped alongside performers in full mascot costumes. It was mostly stop motion in its filming. 

Opening credits are here. The opening was produced at Six Flags Over Texas. The show was itself shot at Paramount Pictures film studio in Los Angeles.

Sigmund and the Sea Monsters lasted two seasons though it was aired over three years, the second delayed because a fire at the beginning of season two which destroyed everything. It’s about two brothers who discover a friendly young sea monster named Sigmund who refuses to frighten people. Poor Sigmund. This time you get a full episode as that is all Krofft Pictures had up, “Frankenstein Drops In”.

There’s two more series I want to note. 

The first is Land of the Lost which was created though uncredited in the series by David Gerrold. So anyone know why that was? It was produced by Sid and Marty Krofft who co-developed the series with Allan Foshko. Lots of genre tropes here. A family lost in a land with dinosaurs and reptile men? It was popular enough that it lasted three seasons. And here’s the opening and closing credits for season three.

The very last pick by me is Electra Woman and Dyna Girl which lasted but sixteen episodes of twelve minutes. Despite the ElectraEnemies, their foes here being way over the top, this is SF though admittedly on the pulp end of things. 

So they stayed active including doing rebooted versions of new versions of Electra Woman and Dyna GirlH.R. PufnstufLand of the Lost and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters

Marty Krofft passed on from kidney failure on November 25, 2023, at the age of eighty six. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) VASTER THAN EMPIRES, AND MORE EXPENSIVE. Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis might be sff – which might matter more if the film can make it into theaters. Variety says it will premiere at Cannes. However, The Hollywood Reporter learned studios are not lining up to accept the film’s high-dollar marketing risk: “’Megalopolis’: Francis Ford Coppola’s Challenges in Distribution”.

…The project, which Coppola first began writing in 1983, cost a reported $120 million to make — funded in part by the sale of a significant portion of his wine empire (the 2021 deal was reportedly worth over $500 million). Clocking in at two hours and 15 minutes, the film follows the rebuilding of a metropolis after its accidental destruction, with two competing visions — one from an idealist architect (Adam Driver), the other from its pragmatist mayor (Giancarlo Esposito) — clashing in the process. References to ancient Rome — including Caesar haircuts on the men — abound…

… One source tells THR that Coppola assumed he would make a deal very quickly, and that a studio would happily commit to a massive P&A (prints and advertising, including all marketing) spend in the vicinity of $40 million domestically, and $80 million to $100 million globally.

That kind of big-stakes rollout would make Megalopolis a better fit for a studio-backed specialty label like the Disney-owned Searchlight or the Universal-owned Focus. But Universal and Focus have already tapped out of the bidding, sources tell THR…. 

(11) THANKS FOR YOUR GIZZARD. James Davis Nicoll comments on “Five Science Fiction Stories About Involuntary Organ Donation” at Reactor.

… Why should some teenager enjoy perfect skin, a pain-free back, and functional joints when persons of my age could make much better use of these body parts? Yet such are the politically correct times in which we live that simply proposing, never mind implementing, mandatory organ1 donations is considered somehow controversial.

Science fiction can see past the squeamishness of short-term social fashions to the glorious world we might have if we were willing to apply technology in a socially responsible—which is to say, one that benefits the people in charge—manner. Consider these five classic tales….

One of the selections is –

The Reefs of Space by Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson (1964)

Reefs features an intriguing deep space ecology in no way inhibited by plausible science. The use of political prisoners as involuntary organ donors is much more plausible….

(12) SPACE COWBOYS READINGS. Space Cowboy Books will host an online Flash Science Fiction Night on April 23 with Howard V. Hendrix, Ai Jiang, and Hailey Piper. These short science fiction readings (1000 words or less) are great way to learn about new authors from around the world. Starts at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Lasts around half an hour. Register for free at Eventbrite.

(13) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. “They Came From Outer Space. Now, They’re Going Into Hiding.” So says the New York Times.

If you’re looking for meteorites, here’s a tip: Go south. All the way south. And do it soon.

In some parts of Antarctica, there’s a good chance that what looks like a regular old rock could actually be a chunk of an asteroid, the moon, or even Mars. Roughly 60 percent of all known meteorites have been collected there.

But scientific sleuthing for such extraterrestrial material, which can shed light on how the solar system formed billions of years ago, will probably get more difficult in Antarctica in the coming decades. That’s because, as temperatures rise, thousands of meteorites will sink into the continent’s ice and disappear from sight every year, according to a new study published on Monday.

Antarctica’s meteorite largess isn’t because more extraterrestrial stuff is falling there, Cari Corrigan, a geologist at the Smithsonian Institution and a curator of the National Museum of Natural History’s meteorite collection, said.

Rather, meteorites simply tend to be more visible on the Antarctic ice sheet than they would be, say, in your backyard. “Your eye can pick out a dark rock on a white surface super easily,” said Dr. Corrigan, who was not involved in the new research….

(14) ON THE JOB. Here’s the trailer for “Monsters at Work: Season 2” with Ben Feldman, Billy Crystal, and John Goodman. The season premiered April 5 on Disney Channel, and on May 5 comes to Disney+.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAN. [Item by Daniel Dern.] For the small Venn overlap who know both references: “Leslie Nielsen in Star Wars”.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/6/24 10 Pixels To Scroll, Number 9 Will SHOCK You

(1) 2024 IS LAST YEAR KRESS AND WILLIAMS RUNNING TAOS TOOLBOX. Taos Toolbox, a two-week master class in writing science fiction and fantasy helmed by authors Nancy Kress and Walter Jon Williams, is open for submissions.

And as part of the announcement Williams told Facebook readers, “This will be the last year that Nancy and I will be doing this. Taos Toolbox may continue under new management (it’s under discussion), but Nancy and I won’t be running things.”

This year’s Taos Toolobox workshop will take place June 2-15, 2024, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Special Guest for 2024 is the creator of The Expanse, James S.A. Corey, in reality the writing team of Daniel Abraham and Ty Frank…

Special lecturers this year include Jeffe Kennedy, who currently holds the office of President of the Science Fiction Writers of America. She’s been widely published and has special expertise in indiepub, and owns her own press.

The second special lecturer is Diana Rowland, who at various times been an Air Force pilot, a Las Vegas card dealer, a detective for a sheriff’s office in Louisiana, and a morgue assistant, occupations that contributed to writing her Demon and White Trash Zombie series.

(2) MISSING ROYALTIES. Authors are the hidden victims of the cyber-attack on the British Library, which has prevented them receiving an annual rights payment. The Guardian explains: “Richard Osman among authors missing royalties amid ongoing cyber-attack on British Library”.

…In February 2023, those authors would have been paid thousands of pounds each from Public Lending Right (PLR) payments – money earned by writers, illustrators and translators each time a book is borrowed. But not this year.

Ongoing fallout from a massive cyber-attack means that PLR payments will not be paid as expected while the British Library, which manages the service, fights to restore its crippled systems.

Every time an author’s book is borrowed from a library, they get about 13p, capped at £6,600 a year. To authors like Osman and JK Rowling, whose first Harry Potter book was also on last year’s top read list, this might be a drop in the ocean, but for many authors whose books are library favourites it is a different matter….

The British Library was hit by a cyber-attack at the end of October. At the time, its chief executive, Sir Roly Keating, said that access to even basic communication tools such as email was initially lost. “We took immediate action to isolate and protect our network but significant damage was already done.

“Having breached our systems, the attackers had destroyed their route of entry and much else besides, encrypting or deleting parts of our IT estate.”…

(3) STEVE VERTLIEB MEDICAL UPDATE. File 770 contributor Steve Vertlieb was briefly hospitalized after suffering a mini-stroke on January 4. He told Facebook friends:

Well, there’s good news and bad news early in the new year. The bad news is, that while at needed physical therapy for my balance on Thursday afternoon, I began babbling unintelligibly. I knew what I wanted to say to my trainers but, when it physically left my lips, it became distorted beyond recognition, rather like mumbling incoherently in my sleep.

They called an ambulance and rushed me to nearby Nazareth Hospital where I spent the next twenty-four hours.

I continued complaining, while in the ambulance, that I simply wanted to go home but they drove me, instead, to the Emergency Room.

I began recovering once we reached the waiting hospital. However, to be on the safe side, they kept me overnight in a hospital room. I knew that I must have been returning to “normal,” however, when I began cracking jokes.

It appears that I must have suffered a “T.I.A,” or what’s called a “mini-stroke.” However, following that isolated assault on my sensory nerves, the seemingly isolated attack that apparently came out of nowhere somehow abated and I’ve recovered.

I had a single previous occurrence some eighteen months earlier on what was to have been my last night in Los Angeles. It’s frightening. I can tell you that. The wiring in your brain goes … you should excuse the expression … “haywire.”

I asked the doctors what I can do to keep this from happening again. They said “You’re doing it. You’re taking all the right medications. Just keep an eye out for trouble signs in future.”

What’s the good news, you may well ask?????????? Well, the simple answer is that I’m Home once more!!!!!!!!!! Unlike the esteemed Mr. Bond, I’m “shaken, yet stirred.” “Toto, We’re home …. We’re Home.”

(4) SFWA’S COPYRIGHT OFFICE RESPONSE. Following up SFWA’s October 30th comments to the Copyright Office, they had the opportunity to respond to some of the many other comments received. With over 9,000 responses, SFWA “focused on specific aspects of the conversation around fair use that we felt were not given due attention, as well as to raise concerns that are unique to our community.” Their 10-page response document can be downloaded from Regulations.gov at the link.

One topic SFWA discussed is the scraping of content that is offered free to readers by online sff magazines.

…SFWA acknowledges the problem of generative AI scraping pirated material published as copy-protected ebooks by professional publishers, but SFWA additionally has the unique position of representing many authors who have fought to make their work available for free for human readers. Over the last twenty years, many science fiction and fantasy authors of short fiction have embraced the open Internet, believing that it is good for society and for a flourishing culture that art be available to their fellow human beings regardless of ability to pay. That availability is not without cost; it is quite difficult to bring an online magazine to market, and being freely available has never meant abandoning the moral and legal rights of the authors, nor the obligation to enter into legal contracts to compensate authors for their work and spell out how it may and may not be used. But on balance, many writers and fans believe that freely sharing stories is a good thing that enriches us all.

The current content-scraping regime preys on that good-faith sharing of art as a connection between human minds and the hard work of building a common culture. The decision to publish creative work online to read and share for free is not guaranteed; it is a trade-off of many factors including piracy, audience, and the simple (albeit elusive) ability to make a living. In too many comments to enumerate here, individual authors have made clear that they regard the use of their work for training AI to be another important factor in that mix, and the ultimate effect on the short fiction marketplace and its role in our culture is far from certain. Bluntly, many authors do not want their work taken for this purpose, and that cannot be ignored.

“If my work is just going to get stolen, and if some company’s shareholders are going to get the benefit of my labor and skill without compensating me, I see no reason to continue sharing my work with the public — and a lot of other artists will make the same choice.” (N. K. Jemisin, COLC-2023-0006- 0521)

The developers of AI systems seem to believe that a green light to use scraped copyrighted work will result in a clear field for them to continue freeloading forever; we fear rather that it will result in large swathes of artistic work removed from the commons, locked behind paywalls and passwords to the detriment of all….

(5) AURORA AWARDS. [Item by Danny Sichel.] The Eligibility Lists for this year’s Aurora Awards are open. If you’re aware of any genre work produced by Canadians, submit it. (CSFFA membership required — $10 – to make an addition to the lists.)

(6) WESTERCON 2025 UP FOR ADOPTION. Kevin Standlee announced a “Committee Formed to Select Site of 2025 Westercon” at Westercon.org.

Because no bid filed to host Westercon 77, selection of the site of the 2025 Westercon devolved upon the 2023 Westercon Business Meeting held at Westercon 75 (in conjunction with Loscon 49) in Los Angeles on November 25, 2023. The Westercon 75 Business Meeting voted to award Westercon 77 to a “Caretaker Committee” consisting of Westercon 74 Chair Kevin Standlee and Vice Chair Lisa Hayes with the understanding that they would attempt to select a site and committee to run Westercon 77 and transfer the convention to that committee.

Any site in North America west of 104° west longitude or in Hawaii is eligible to host Westercon 75. There are no other restrictions other than the bid has to be for dates in calendar year 2025. All other restrictions in the Westercon Bylaws are suspended, per section 3.16 of the Westercon Bylaws.

To submit a bid to the 2025 Caretaker Committee to host Westercon 77, contact Kevin Standlee at [email protected], or send a paper application to Lisa Hayes at PO Box 242, Fernley NV 89408. Include information about the proposed site, the proposed dates, and the proposed operating committee. The Caretaker Committee asks that groups interested in hosting Westercon 77 contact them by the end of February 2024.

Should the Caretaker Committee be unable to make a determination for a site for Westercon 77 by Westercon 76 in Salt Lake City (July 4-7, 2024), and assuming that no bid files to host Westercon 77, the Caretaker Committee will ask the Business Meeting of Westercon 76 for additional guidance on how to handle Westercon Site Selection.

(7) MOVING FORWARD – AT OLD MAN SPEED. Tor.com notified those not reading Bluesky that “Netflix’s Adaptation of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War Is Still In The Works”.

We first found out that Netflix optioned the rights to John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War over six years ago, back in December 2017. It’s not uncommon for things to get optioned but never get made (Old Man’s War, in fact, had been previously optioned by Paramount and Syfy without making it to the production stage), but it sounds like the Netflix movie adaptation is still moving forward.

Scalzi gave an update on the project over on Bluesky yesterday, where he said that work on it is “slowly but surely moving along.”…

(8) COPPOLA’S NEXT APOCALYPSE. Another long-awaited sff project finished filming last year and should actually get released sometime: “Francis Ford Coppola Says ‘Megalopolis’ Is Coming Soon” at Collider.

Francis Ford Coppola is renowned as the mastermind behind some of the greatest pieces of cinema in history but as all legends do, he refuses to rest on his laurels and he’s preparing to release his first film in over a decade with his self-funded star-studded sci-fi drama, Megalopolis. The film has been mired by a number of setbacks, but filming wrapped on the project back in March. And now, we won’t have much longer to wait for it to arrive, as Coppola revealed on the latest episode of The Accutron Show.

The film has an eye-watering array of talent attached, including Adam Driver, Forest Whitaker, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jon Voight, Laurence Fishburne, Aubrey Plaza, Shia LaBeouf, Chloe Fineman, Kathryn Hunter, Dustin Hoffman, DB Sweeney, Talia Shire, Jason Schwartzman, Bailey Ives, Grace Vanderwaal, James Remar, and Giancarlo Esposito.

All that’s known so far about the film so far is that it has a futuristic setting and that it will revolve around the idea of humanity attempting to build some sort of utopian society in the wake of a natural disaster. Other than that, it’s anybody’s guess, and Coppola isn’t up for explaining more quite yet.

(9) WAS THIS THE BEST SF OF 2023? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Every January the SF2 Concatenation have an informal survey as to the best SF novels and films of the previous year. It is strictly informal and a bit of fun, enabling team members see what more than one of the others rate. The years have shown that this informal survey has form in that invariably some of the chosen works go on to be short-listed, and sometimes even win, major SF awards later in the year. SF² Concatenation have just advance-posted their selection for 2023 as part of the “Best Science Fiction of the Year Possibly?” post. Scroll down to see how previous years’ choices fared…

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 6, 1905 Eric Frank Russell. (Died 1978.) So let’s talk about the British writer Eric Frank Russell. His first published piece of fiction was in the first issue of Tales of Wonder called “The Prr-r-eet” (1937). (Please don’t tell me it was about cats.) He also had a letter of comment in Astounding Stories that year. He wrote a lot of such comments down the years. 

Eric Frank Russell

Just two years later, his first novel, Sinister Barrier, would be published as the cover story as the first issue of Unknown. His second novel, Dreadful Sanctuary, would be serialized in AstoundingUnknown’s sister periodical, in 1948.

At Clevention, “Allamagoosa” would win a Short Story Hugo.  The Great Explosion novel garnered  a Prometheus Hall of Fame Award.

Now let’s note some reworkings he did as I like them a lot. Men, Martians and Machines published in 1955 is four related novellas of space adventures at their very best. 

The 1956 Three to Conquer, nominated for a Hugo at NY Con II is a reworking of the earlier Call Him Dead magazine serial that deals with an alien telepath and very well at that. Finally Next of Kin, also known as The Space Willies, shows him being comic, something he does oh so well. It was a novella-length work in Astounding first.

And then there’s the Design for Great-Day novel which was written by Alan Dean Foster. It’s an expansion by him based off a 1953 short story of the same name by Russell. I’m pretty familiar with Foster has done but this isn’t ringing even the faintest of bells. Who’s read it? 

He wrote an extraordinary amount of short stories, around seventy by my guess. 

(My head trauma means numbers and I have at best a tenuous relationship. I once counted the turkeys left over after we distributed them at a food pantry I staffed pre-knee injury. Three times I counted. I got, if I remember correctly now, twelve, fifteen and eighteen birds. I had someone else do it.)

Short Stories Collection is the only one available at the usual suspects. He’s an author who needs a definitive short story collection done for him. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Free Range shows there are always lines.
  • Edith Pritchett’s cartoon for the Guardian recalls how “I climbed the tube station steps and entered another dimension.” Steven French adds, “Of marginal genre interest but having walked up those steps, this made me laugh!”

(12) PIONEERING WOMAN COMICS ARTIST RETIRES. BoingBoing pays tribute as “Aquaman, Metamorpho, and Brenda Starr cartoonist Ramona Fradon retires”.

Famed cartoonist Ramona Fradon is retiring at the age of 97, according to a January 3 announcement from her comic art dealer Catskill Comics….

An extremely long run, indeed. Her comic book career started in 1950, and her career highlights include a 1959 revamp and long run on Aquaman, the co-creation of DC’s offbeat superhero Metamorpho with writer Bob Haney in 1965, a run on Super Friends in the 1970s, and the comic strip Brenda Starr, Reporter from 1980-1995.

She also was a pioneer, as one of the only women working in comics during the first decades of her career.

Cartoonist and curator of the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco Andrew Farago wrote on BlueSky, “Ramona Fradon retires today at the age of 97, just a little shy of Al Jaffee’s retirement age of 99. Not sure if that means that cartooning keeps you young or if it just means that cartooning keeps you broke, but what a body of work she’s produced over the past eight decades!”…

(13) WHAT THEY WILL READ IN 2024. “’I want some light in my life’: eight writers make their new year reading resolutions “ – the Guardian’s collection of quotes includes a declaration from Sheena Patel.

‘I’m turning to sci-fi and dystopia’
Sheena Patel

I have a fascination with sci-fi that is purely theoretical. I often think about reading it but never make any attempt to go near such books because I am afraid of the imagination I will find there. Perhaps I haven’t felt I can really access the genre because sci-fi feels like what Black and Brown people can go through on a daily basis. We’re still in an age of empire, even though we are distracted from this knowledge.

I do love sci-fi films though. I had a true epiphany when I saw Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin at the cinema. It was so strange, the alien mixed with the mundane, documentary spliced with fantastical set pieces. Next year I think I will read the Michel Faber book from which the movie was adapted.

In 2024 I also want to tackle Frank Herbert’s Dune books. Earlier this year, I watched the film on my laptop maybe 50 times. At first, I hated it, but then I totally fell in love with it – the visual representation of different worlds opened my mind. Throat singing and nomadic desert tribes could be used as a mood board for the future, but this is already happening now in communities that are regarded as “primitive”. It is the future because it is eternal – such a beautiful thought.

We are fed so much dystopia that reading it in fiction feels hard – but, as the world burns, maybe it is a good idea to hear from artists about where we might be heading. So the other three titles I will try are classics: Octavia E Butler’s KindredStanisław Lem’s Solaris and The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin. The present feels so bleak, and our vision of the future so foreshortened, it almost seems like tempting fate – but, without science fiction, how can we dream?

I’m a Fan by Sheena Patel is published in paperback by Granta

(14) HOOFING IT TO MOUNT DOOM. They say “One does not simply walk into Mordor,” but apparently they exaggerated. The Conqueror Virtual Challenges is a thematic program to encourage you to exercise by walking, running, and biking, with solo variations costing from $49.95 to bundles costing $299.95 and up. This link takes you to All 8 LOTR Conqueror Virtual Challenges.

Follow Frodo and Aragorn on an epic journey across Middle-earth with the ULTIMATE THE LORD OF THE RINGS Virtual Challenge Series.

Walk, run or cycle all the way from The Shire to Mount Doom in an epic adventure with one goal – destroying the One Ring. Complete this unforgettable saga by following Aragorn into battle and restoring peace to Middle-earth.

(15) CITY OF HEROES. “11 years after this cult classic superhero MMO was shut down, the original publisher has given its blessing to the community’s custom servers” reports GamesRadar+.

Despite the shutdown of the beloved superhero MMO City of Heroes over a decade ago, fans have been keeping it alive for years with a variety of custom server efforts. Now, one of those projects has just gotten the blessing of the game’s original publisher and license holder, NCSoft.

City of Heroes: Homecoming made the surprising announcement earlier today that “Homecoming has been granted a license to operate a City of Heroes server and further develop the game – subject to conditions and limitations under the contract.” The Homecoming project will remain free and donation-funded, and while there are a few changes to how the project is being managed, it doesn’t look like players will see any meaningful differences in the game itself.

“NCSoft has always had (and will continue to have) the right to demand that Homecoming shuts down,” as the announcement notes. “This agreement provides a framework under which Homecoming can operate the game in a way that complies with NCSoft’s wishes in hopes of minimizing the chances of that happening. We’ve had a really positive and productive relationship with NCSoft for over four years now, so we do not anticipate there being any issues.”…

…The question mark that currently weighs over the license for Homecoming is what this means for other custom server projects, like City of Heroes Rebirth. Today’s announcement notes that “other servers are out of scope” for this license, and the devs say that “our hope is that our license will help us consolidate our userbase with City of Heroes fans from other servers.” There’s already a bit of fear in the community that other private servers might start to disappear following this news, but only time will tell what will happen on that front….

(16) RECORDS BROKEN. Gizmodo tells why “Doctor Who’s New Streaming Home Has Been a Huge Success” – that is, for viewers who can accesss the BBC platform.

To celebrate Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary last year, the BBC made a huge, unprecedented move: for the first time, almost the entirety of Doctor Who, from episodes from 1963 all the way up to the then-airing anniversary specials, would be made available to stream in the UK in one place, on the BBC’s own streaming platform iPlayer. And it turns out doing so has helped the BBC break streaming records over the festive period.

The corporation has announced that Doctor Who—and most specifically Doctor Who episodes from 2005 onwards—were streamed 10.01 million times over the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, helping the platform break a previous record for streamed content for the week between January 2 and January 8, 2023, with 177 million programs being streamed in total….

It’s hard to say just how that success has panned out internationally, however. The BBC’s new deal with Disney to stream Doctor Who on Disney+ everywhere but the UK and Ireland only covers new episodes from the 60th anniversary onwards—other contemporary and classic Doctor Who access is spread out on various platforms elsewhere, such as Britbox for classic Doctor Who and Max for post-2005 Doctor Who.

(17) MY BLUE HEAVEN(S). [Item by Mike Kennedy.] So you know how astronomers are always using false color images to show this detail or that detail or what something would look like if it was only in the visible spectrum or some such? well, those can leave lasting misimpression.

New images showing color-corrected true-color likenesses of Uranus and Neptune show the latter ice giant—rather than being a dark blue—is only slightly darker than the former.  “True blue: Neptune only slightly deeper colour than Uranus, say Oxford scientists” in the Guardian.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/9/23 Pixeling The Night Away

(1) CHENGDU WORLDCON WSFS MEMBERSHIPS. The Chengdu Worldcon website has posted this description of its process for dealing with non-Chinese credit cards: “About Credit Card”.

Currently, you can purchase WSFS membership and admissions by transfer fees directly to our collaborator.

1.Please note the Order Number on the the transfer form.

2.Please upload a screenshot of the transfer receipt by clicking any of the “Receipt” buttons. We will check it and confirm your Order.

“WSFS membership” is the newly ratified terminology for memberships that come with Hugo voting rights and qualify the holder to buy a site selection voting membership.

The deadline to acquire a WSFS membership in Chengdu is 22 days away (based on WSFS 3.7.1) if you want to nominate for the Hugos.

(2) CAPTAIN FUTURE’S FUTURE. Allen Steele says he’s returning to Captain Future in 2023, beginning with these two items:

…The first is a new web site dedicated to my Captain Stories novels as well as Edmond Hamilton’s original. Here’s the link:

It’s still a work in progress and there’s not much there right now, but if you’ll toggle the tab marked History, you’ll find a brand-new essay, “The Original Captain Future”, about the genesis and history of the Hamilton series. Other items to be added soon will be an illustrated Captain Future bibliography featuring scans of the 40’s pulp covers, a short bio of series creator Edmond Hamilton, and — wait for it — an upcoming podcast featuring yours truly reading the Captain Future books I wrote as a series of regular installments.

The other major CF project I’m planning will be writing a new Captain Future novella. This will be a standalone story, told in one installment and unrelated to the previous stories. I’m not going to say much about it (I haven’t even settled on the title) but I’ll drop a hint: it has to do with a NASA Apollo mission of the 70’s that was tentatively planned but never flown….

(3) WELLES REMEMBERED. Steve Vertlieb invites you to read his article “Xanadu: A Castle in the Clouds: The Life of Orson Welles at The Thunderchild.

Celebrating the genius of this extraordinary artist with my published look at the turbulent life and career of Orson Welles, the fabulous, visionary film maker whose personal demons sadly overshadowed his staggering talent, and finally, tragically destroyed him.

Yet, in spite of his personal failings or, perhaps, because of them, Welles rose to become one of the most remarkable film makers of his, or any other generation.

From his groundbreaking first feature length motion picture “Citizen Kane,” regarded by many still as the greatest single film in motion picture history, to “Touch Of Evil,” his remarkable “Cinema Noir” tale of a squandered life and legacy corrupted by bribery and temptation, Welles remains one of the most extraordinary directors in the history of film.

His is a story of unwitting sabotaged achievement and haunting, incomparable genius.

Here, then, is “Xanadu: A Castle In Clouds … The Life of Orson Welles.”

(4) SCALZI SCOFFS. John Scalzi explains something about SFWA.

(5) FANGS FOR THE MEMORIES. [Item by Daniel Dern.] CNN’s Chris Wallace interviews Hugh Jackman on signing up for another round of Wolverine  (this time with Deadpool).

Some interesting stuff; mostly, I’m amused by this being a medium-long CNN segment.

(6) GENRE LOVE. The “Art Directors Guild Awards 2023 Nominations” in Variety cover film and TV in 14 categories. This isn’t one File 770 devotes standalone posts to, however, the award does boast a separate Fantasy Feature Film category. The nominees are —

FANTASY FEATURE FILM

“Avatar: The Way of Water” (Production Designers: Dylan Cole, Ben Procter)
“The Batman” (Production Designer: James Chinlund)
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (Production Designer: Hannah Beachler)
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” (Production Designer: Jason Kisvarday)
“Nope” (Production Designer: Ruth De Jong)

Winners will be named at the ADG Awards ceremony on February 18.

(7) FREE READ. The Library of America’s “Story of the Week” is “A Scarab in the City of Time” by Marta Randall.

“I wasn’t going to be the one stuck at home baking cookies,” Marta Randall tells readers on her website. “I was going to be the one balancing on the raft in the lashing seas, gripping the mast with one hand while the other held on to the cookies somebody else had baked.”

Fifty years ago, in 1973, Randall published her first story in New Worlds Quarterly 5, a paperback series edited during the 1970s by British science fiction writer Michael Moorcock. (Despite its name, the “quarterly” came out only once or twice a year.) That summer, she attended a science fiction convention in San Francisco and met Robert Silverberg, whose novel A Time of Changes had recently won the Nebula Award. The two authors had a friendly argument about short stories; as Silverberg remembered it, she “preferred the sort of stories with an identifiable beginning, middle, and end,” and he responded that he did as well—but he didn’t “necessarily require that they happen in that order.” He wrote, “As is usual in such debates, neither of us held as extreme a position as it might have seemed to the other.” Six months later, Randall shared with him, “with some trepidation,” her second piece of fiction; “I read it on the spot and rather to her surprise accepted it then and there.” The story, “A Scarab in the City of Time,” was published the following year in the fifth issue of New Dimensions, an annual publication that Silverberg edited between 1971 and 1981….

(8) MORE ON PARTINGTON. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] SF2 Concatenation has published its Charles Partington tribute, an expanded and more illustrated version of the File 770 tribute last month. Charles was a lifelong SF aficionado, an SF fan, conrunner, fanzine editor, publisher, prozine editor and an all round, good egg.

Charles Partington

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1980 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

So let’s talk about tea. Tea has described by Arthur Dent in Douglas Adams’ The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. I’ve had tea served to me on a tea plantation high in the mountains of Sri Lanka by some of the Hindu population there that has been harvesting tea by hand for centuries now, so I can sympathize with Arthur when the machine doesn’t understand tea. The English, wherever they are, love tea.

Then he decided he’d be damned if he’d give up.

“No,” he said, “look, it’s very, very simple … all I want … is a cup of tea. You are going to make one for me. Keep quiet and listen.”

And he sat. He told the Nutri-Matic about India, he told it about China, he told it about Ceylon. He told it about broad leaves drying in the sun. He told it about silver teapots. He told it about summer afternoons on the lawn. He told it about putting in the milk before the tea so it wouldn’t get scalded. He even told it (briefly) about the history of the East India Company.

“So that’s it, is it?” said the Nutri-Matic when he had finished.

“Yes,” said Arthur, “that is what I want.”

“You want the taste of dried leaves boiled in water?”

“Er, yes. With milk.”

“Squirted out of a cow?”

“Well, in a manner of speaking I suppose …”

“I’m going to need some help with this one,” said the machine tersely. All the cheerful burbling had dropped out of its voice and it now meant business.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 9, 1890 Karel Čapek . Author of the 1936 novel War with the Newts and 1920 play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), which introduced the word robot. R.U.R.was a dystopian work about a really bad day at a factory populated with sentient androids. ISFDB shows two additional works by him, Krakatit: An Atomic Fantasy and The Absolute at Large which I’ve not heard of. (Died 1938.)
  • Born January 9, 1931 Algis Budrys. I think I remember reading his Some Will Not Die which I remember because of the 1979 Starblaze edition cover. I’ve also read and enjoyed his Rogue Moon. Setting aside his work as a writer which was exemplary, he was considered one of our best genre reviewers ever reviewing for GalaxyMagazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and even in Playboy. He edited a number of the L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future anthologies. (Died 2008.)
  • Born January 9, 1950 David Johansen, 73. He’s the wisecracking Ghost of Christmas Past in the oh-so-perfect Scrooged, he played Halston in Tales from the Darkside: The Movie in “The Cat from Hell” episode, and he appeared as a character named Brad in Freejack. I think the brief Ghost of Christmas Past riff in the aforementioned Scrooged is enough to earn him as Birthday Honors here.
  • Born January 9, 1955 J.K. Simmons, 68. You may know him as J. Jonah Jameson in the various Spider-Man films but I find his more interesting genre role to be as Howard Silk in the Counterpart series where he plays two versions of himself in two versions of parallel Berlins in a spy service that may or may not exist. He also portrayed Commissioner James Gordon in Justice League.
  • Born January 9, 1956 Imelda Staunton, 67. Voice of the Snow Queen in The Snow Queen’s Revenge, A Nurse in Shakespeare in Love, Polly in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dolores Jane Umbridge In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (which I thought was a so-so film at best) and in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as well and Knotgrass In Maleficent and the sequel. 
  • Born January 9, 1957 Greg Ketter, 66. A Minneapolis SF bookstore owner, Dreamhaven to be precise in its new incarnation, a huckster, and con-running fan as well. He is a member of MN-Stf. He’s been involved in myriad regionals and Worldcons. He‘s chaired Minicons and World Fantasy Conventions alike.
  • Born January 9, 1976 Jenna Felice. Tor Books Editor. She suffered what the doctors are called a massive allergic reaction compounded by asthma. She died having never emerged from her coma. There’s a memorial page for her here. (Died 2001.)

(11) MERGER MANIA. Put ‘em together and what do you get? “Marvel Comics Celebrates 100 Years of Disney with Variant Covers Starring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and More”.

…The variant program in honor of Disney100 will celebrate Marvel’s past, present, and future through the classic “What If” lens with a fantastic reimagining of Marvel’s most classic comic book covers. While the initial trio of these first-of-its-kind art pieces paid homage to the foundational stories of the Marvel Universe, the next set will celebrate some of Marvel’s more modern game changing stories! See Disney’s iconic characters immersed in pivotal moments of the Marvel mythos including the earth-shattering 90s event Infinity Gauntlet, the debut of the lineup of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes that would define the 2000s in New Avengers #1, and the transformative journey Tony Stark went on in the pages of Invincible Iron Man.

With 12 covers in total, fans can look forward to a new Disney100 variant cover (also available in Black and White versions) hitting stands each month of 2023 at local comic book shops. The variant covers will be found on select upcoming issues of Amazing Spider-Man starting with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #17 on January 11….

(12) HERE’S WHAT THEY THOUGHT OF NEXT. The Guardian tells about “Chameleon cars, urine scanners and other standouts from CES 2023”.

From colour-changing cars, dual-screen laptops and satellite emergency texts to AI-ovens and a urine-scanning smart toilet upgrade, the annual CES tech show in Las Vegas had more concepts of the future on show than ever before….

Asus glasses-free 3D display

Asus’s Vivobook Pro laptop with a 3D screen hopes to succeed where 3D TVs failed – as no glasses required. Using an eye-tracking camera system and a lenticular lens built into the 16in OLED screen, the laptop can accurately display a different image for each eye giving the impression of 3D, including objects that jump out of the screen. It will play 3D movies and games but is most impressive with creative software, for which Asus has developed plugins to take advantage of the screen.

The laptop is expected be available later this year and joins rival devices from Acer and Sony in trying to make glass-free 3D computer screens a reality….

(13) BIRDS DON’T DO IT, BEES DO IT. CNN is there when “USDA approves first-ever vaccine for honeybees”. So how do you administer that anyway? Is this another take on Digby’s lyric, “Like you need teeny tiny branding irons for ants”?

The United States Department of Agriculture has approved the first-ever vaccine for honeybees to prevent American foulbrood disease, a fatal bacterial disease that can destroy honeybee colonies, officials say.

The USDA told CNN that it issued a conditional vaccine license to Diamond Animal Health, the collaborating manufacturer for Dalan Animal Health, on December 29. The agency said that it was its “first licensure of a honeybee product.”…

(14) PAUSE AND EFFECTS. “Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Megalopolis’ in Peril As Crew Exits”The Hollywood Reporter tells why.

Francis Ford Coppola’s latest movie, the sci-fi-tinged Megalopolis, has descended into chaos, according to multiple sources. The movie, currently halfway through shooting in Atlanta, has in the last week lost key creative talent including its production designer and supervising art director. That’s on top of losing the entire visual effects team in the first part of December.  

To many insiders, the production is giving severe Apocalypse Now redux vibes, and it’s one on which the iconoclastic 83-year-old director is breaking a cardinal Hollywood rule: Never spend your own money.

…Sources say Coppola, who has never made an effects-heavy movie, fired almost his entire visual effects team Dec. 9, with the rest of that department soon following. Mark Russell, a veteran whose credits include In the Heights and The Wolf of Wall Street, was leading the team as visual effects supervisor. (Coppola famously fired his visual effects department on Dracula 30 years ago.)…

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Eleanor Morton plays both authors as C.S. Lewis tells J.R.R. Tolkien about his new book.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/18/22 My Name Is Scroll, Pixel Scroll, Agent 770, With A License To File

(1) #METOO. On February 12, attorney and former Weller colleague Cara Dehnert published an essay detailing her previous relationship with Bradbury biographer Sam Weller. The piece alleges mental, emotional, and sexual abuse from Weller, including rape. “What Happened To Me. By: Cara Dehnert” at Medium.

(2) TRUTHS ABOUT TRAUMA. Sarah Gailey sets the bar “On Trauma-Informed Writing” at the SFWA Blog.

… “A difficult or unpleasant experience that changes a person in a lasting way” is a descriptor that applies to most stories. In spite of the promises of a recent literary movement that strives to elide unpleasantness in storytelling, it’s difficult to make a narrative compelling when characters aren’t changed as a result of struggle. Further, a story in which characters endure traumatic experiences without changing in response to them is a story that can cause immense harm.

Narratives help us to understand ourselves and the world around us, and stories that depict trauma as a temporary inconvenience reinforce the idea that ongoing trauma-responses are unusual, or even a sign of weakness. This real-world impact bears out in the way many people process—or are unable to process—their own real-life traumas. Many trauma survivors find themselves questioning why they’re unable to move on from traumatic events. They’ve consumed narratives in which scary things happen, but when the scary things are over . . . everyone stops being scared. So why shouldn’t the same be true in real life?

Treating a character’s trauma as though it can be resolved along with the plot is disingenuous. Treating a character’s trauma as though it must be resolved along with the plot is dangerous. Both are profoundly disrespectful to the story being told…. 

(3) FEDERAL PREEMPTION. Publishers Weekly explains why “Court Blocks Maryland’s Library E-book Law”.

In a rebuke to Maryland state legislators, a federal judge has granted the Association of American Publishers’ motion for a preliminary injunction, blocking Maryland officials from enforcing the state’s new library e-book law.

“It is clear the Maryland Act likely stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment of the purposes and objectives of the Copyright Act,” concluded federal judge Deborah L. Boardman, in a 28-page opinion. Although the judge noted that the Maryland Act only requires an ‘offer’ to license and does not ‘explicitly require’ publishers to grant licenses to libraries, “this is a distinction without a difference,” Boardman concluded (lifting directly from the AAP’s brief), holding that the threat of civil and criminal penalties for non-compliance amounts to “a forced transaction” that “effectively strips publishers of their exclusive right to distribute.”

In enjoining the law, Boardman found that the AAP cleared all four factors necessary to grant a preliminary injunction—a likelihood of success on the merits; irreparable harm; winning the balance of equities, and that the injunction was in the public interest. But while the court entertained—and largely accepted the AAP’s arguments on each factor—the court’s decision ultimately came down to one simple finding (which the AAP also argued): the Maryland law is fatally flawed because it is preempted by federal copyright law….

(4) POKEMON. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews Pokemon Legends;  Arceus.

The game “comes as something of a shock.  There is rarely a surprise in a mainline Pokemon game–if you’ve played one, you’ve played them all.  While The Pokemon Company has spun its IP into the highest-grossing media franchise of all time, encompassing movies, merchandise and trading cards, there has always been an uncomfortable tension in the video games:  that they are supposedly about the joy of adventure, yet have been proven remarkably unwilling to tread new ground for 25 years…

…Like Harry Potter and all the most successful franchises for younger children, Pokemon sells a dream, a world that children desperately want to be real.  As a kid I yearned to make life-long friends with magical creatures.  Arceus is not the Poikemon game I dreamt of, but it gets close.  Game Freak has swapped the series’ aging skeleton for a promising new set of bones, creating a Pokemon game that feels fresh for the first time in over a decade.  It achieved this by finally taking a leaf out of its own book–to make like a Pokemon and evolve.”

(5) IT MIGHT BE SFF. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Legendary Director Francis Ford Coppola has announced he will be dipping deep into his own pocket to fund a passion project: Megalopolis. Coppola wrote the script around 40 years ago (though one guesses there may have been revisions since). IMDb gives this succinct description,“An architect wants to rebuild New York City as a utopia following a devastating disaster.” GQ described it as, “A love story that is also a philosophical investigation of the nature of man.” Variety interviewed him about it: “Francis Ford Coppola to Spend His Own $120 Million on New Film: I Don’t Care ‘About the Financial Impact’”.

… Speaking to GQ magazine, Coppola said that major Hollywood executives reacted to his “Megalopolis” pitch the “same way they did when I had won five Oscars and was the hottest film director in town and walked in with ‘Apocalypse Now’ and said, ‘I’d like to make this next.’ I own ‘Apocalypse Now.’ Do you know why I own ‘Apocalypse Now?’ Because no one else wanted it.”

Coppola added, “So imagine, if that was the case when I was 33 or whatever the age and I had won every award and had broken every record and still absolutely no one wanted to join me, [then how do you think they’re reacting now?] I know that ‘Megalopolis,’ the more personal I make it, and the more like a dream in me that I do it, the harder it will be to finance.”

…When GQ asked if self-funding “Megalopolis” could mirror his experience on “One From the Heart,” a massive flop that Coppola spent years paying back the bank for, the director responded, “I couldn’t care less about the financial impact whatsoever. It means nothing to me.”

(6) BRENNER OBIT. Film editor David Brenner died February 18 at the age of 59 reports Variety. In 1990, Brenner won the Academy Award for film editing with director Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July, sharing the award with editor John Hutshing. His genre film credits include Independence Day (1996), What Dreams May Come (1998), The Day After Tomorrow  (2004), 2012 (2009), Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides (2011), Man of Steel (2013), Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Justice League (2017), and Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021).

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2005 [Item by Cat Eldridge]  On this day in 2005, Constantine was released in the U.S. Based off DC’s Hellblazer series, it starred dark haired Keanu Reeves as the much blonder-haired John Constantine, a decision that of course drew much criticism. It was, to put it mildly, produced by committee. The screenplay by Kevin Brodbin and Frank Cappello off a story by Kevin Brodbin. 

Its impressive cast included Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf, Tilda Swinton, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Djimon Hounsou, Gavin Rossdale, and Peter Stormare. I really Tilda Swinton‘s role. 

Reception among critics was mostly negative with Roger Ebert saying Reeves that he “has a deliberately morose energy level in the movie, as befits one who has seen Hell, walks among half-demons, and is dying. He keeps on smoking.” The film made his most hated list. 

Box office wise, it made nearly a 25 million dollars off a budget that was maybe a hundred million dollars. The studio has declined to admit how much the production costs were. 

Over the years, its rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes has steadily climbed now standing at an excellent seventy-two percent. Huh. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 18, 1908 Angelo Rossitto. A dwarf actor and voice artist, with his first genre role being in 1929’s The Mysterious Island as an uncredited Underwater Creature. His last major role was as The Master in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. He showed up in GalaxinaThe Incredible HulkJason of Star Command, Bakshi’s Lord of The RingsAdult FairytalesClonesDracula v. Frankenstein and a lot more. (Died 1991.)
  • Born February 18, 1919 Jack Palance. His first SF film is H. G. Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come which bears little resemblance to that novel. (He plays Omus.) Next up he’s Voltan in Hawk the Slayer followed by being Xenos in two Gor films. (Oh the horror!) He played Carl Grissom in Burton’s Batman, and Travis in Solar Crisis along with being Mercy in Cyborg 2. ABC in the Sixties did The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in which he played the lead dual roles, and he had a nice turn as Louis Strago in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. which is worth seeing. (Died 2006.)
  • Born February 18, 1929 Len Deighton, 93. Author of possibly the most brilliant alternative novel in which Germany won the Second World War, SS-GB. It deals with the occupation of Britain. A BBC One series based off the novel was broadcast several years back.
  • Born February 18, 1968 Molly Ringwald, 54. One of her was first acting roles was Nikki in Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone. She’ll later have the lead role of Frannie Goldsmith in Stephen King’ The Stand series. And does the Riverdale series count at least as genre adjacent? If so, she’s got the recurring role of Mary Andrews there.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) WILD CARDS COMICS. Paul Cornell and Mike Hawthorne retell the foundational Wild Cards stories in new comic series, Wild Cards: The Drawing Of Cards #1 coming June 1.

Based on stories by Harold Waldrop, Roger Zelazny and series master-mind and editor, George R.R. Martin, Wild Cards is a fascinating saga set in a whole new world reshaped by the emergence of superpowers. The limited series, titled The Drawing Of Cards, will be written by a team of comic superstars, writer Paul Cornell and artist Mike Hawthorne, and serve as a perfect entry point for Wild Cards newcomers and a must-have new reimagining for Wild Cards aficionados!

Spanning more than 25 novels, 20 short stories, and written by more than 40 authors over three decades, the Wild Cards series tells the story of an alternate history where Earth is home to super-powered individuals. When a human is infected with the alien “Wild Card” virus, the odds are that they will be killed… which is referred to as “drawing the black queen”. Of those that survive, the bulk of them become “jokers”, left with some strange mutated form. A lucky few are called “aces”, those gifted with super powers they can put to use towards heroic goals… or villainous ones….

“As my fans may already know, the Wild Cards World holds a special place in my heart, so to have the privilege of announcing that an industry titan like MARVEL is going to produce the narrative from the beginning as a comic book brings me no end of joy,” [George R.R. Martin] added.

(11) ONE DOES NOT SIMPLY WALK INTO MORDLE. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] You know that word game, Wordle, that’s burning up Twitter?

Well, variants are popping up like mushrooms after a rainstorm, and someone came up with “Lordle of the Rings.”  It’s Wordle, but you can only use five letter words found in “The Lord of the Rings.”  (Mind you, given how long the books are, that covers a lot of ground.) Find it here: “Lordle of the Rings”.

(12) THE PRICE DOESN’T SUCK THAT MUCH. A “Scarce First Edition, First Issue of ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker from 1897” is being auctioned by Nate D. Sanders. The binding is a little banged up, but surely it’s a bargain at $22,500?

(13) NASA NEWS. SF is discussed in this interview with NASA’s chief economist: “Astronomy, sci-fi, and the roots of the space economy: My long-read Q&A with Alex MacDonald” at the American Enterprise Institute.

… In the Industrial Revolution, a lot of the technologies that allow you to think about space flight come online, the most obvious one being pressure vessels, the other relevant ones being, essentially, large armaments. It’s not a coincidence that when Jules Verne talks about the technology for traveling to the Moon in his very well-known book “From the Earth to the Moon,” he essentially has the protagonists being underemployed armaments makers in the United States after the Civil War, who had incredible capabilities for developing large cannons, and they thought they might put them to a different use, a type of swords-into-plowshares initiative in the United States in the 19th century.

This results in a real explosion of stories about traveling into space. Jules Verne’s “From the Earth to the Moon” is written in the 1860s, but also written in the 1860s is the story “The Brick Moon” by Massachusetts pastor and writer Edward Everett Hale. He writes the first story about living on a space station. He and his brother, while they’re students at Harvard, basically come up with a concept for what today we would call a GPS system. All of these things are in the culture and in the literature.

Perhaps the most striking combination of these two themes of science fiction and astronomy is the story of Percival Lowell. Percival Lowell builds a little observatory, at which, later in the 20th century, the planet Pluto is discovered. I should say the dwarf planet Pluto. He is motivated by this idea of canals on Mars, which had been essentially emerging as a culture topic because of a mistranslation of Giovanni Schiaparelli’s Italian word canale, by which he meant channels, and which gets translated into English as canals. But Lowell sees these things, and he writes these books like “Mars as the Abode of Life.” And all of these popular culture works that expound the idea of a purported hypothetical Martian civilization, which, of course, gives further energy to the space flight movement overall.

That intertwining of astronomy and space flight ambition really is there in the 19th century, and of course, it continues up to the present day. The James Webb Space Telescope, of course, is one of the most exciting projects of our time. I was fortunate enough to take off some time from work and actually go down to French Guiana to watch the launch, and it was an amazing moment….

(14) HUMAN RESOURCES. This Netflix series isn’t about an HR department, but about aliens assigned to deal with humans. Airs March 18.

Life on Earth is pretty complicated. That’s why people need them. Welcome to Human Resources.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Apple, Inc. has turned their Signal Boost dial to 11 to promote a new Korean short film shot entirely on an Apple iPhone 13 Pro. Editing was done on Apple Macintosh computers. Director Park Chan-wook’s 21-minute fantasy Life is But a Dream—plus a short “making of” doc—are both available on YouTube. The soundtrack is available on Apple Music. 9to5mac has the story: “Apple shares film shot on iPhone 13 Pro by Park Chan-wook”.

An undertaker who needs woods to build a coffin for the savior of his village digs up an abandoned grave. But while doing so, he accidentally awakens the ghost of an ancient swordsman. Now the ghost tries to take back his coffin.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/29/21 I Should Have Been A Pair Of Ragged Pixels, Scrolling Across The Floors Of Silent Files

(1) BROOKLYN BOOK FESTIVAL. The Brooklyn Book Festival, running from September 26-October 4, has several virtual panels of interest to sff readers. Register at the links.

From creating slice-of-life cyclops and mermaid stories to horror-infused dramas and Afrofuturist epics, worldbuilding—complete with specific rules, cultures, and logic—is no small feat. Join creators Tim Fielder (Infinitum), Kat Leyh (Thirsty Mermaids), John Jennings (After the Rain), and Aminder Dhaliwal (Cyclopedia Exotica) as they discuss the unique challenges and joys of speculative storytelling and how fantastical worlds can say more about our own. Moderated by writer and editor Danny Lore (Queen of Bad Dreams, FIYAH Magazine). 

A dystopian London, a child caught in the midst of a deadly epidemic, and a grieving taxi driver in a ghostly Washington, D.C. Join the authors of A River Called Time (Courttia Newland), Phase Six (Jim Shepard), and Creatures of Passage (Morowa Yejidé) for a conversation on what draws them to speculative fiction, from world-building to the mechanics that make a story tick. Moderated by Carolyn Kellogg.

A Life of Crime (virtual) – Brooklyn Book Festival – October 3, 9:00 p.m. Eastern

Join award-winning mystery authors Naomi Hirahara and Walter Mosley for a discussion about their prolific and versatile writing livest. Hirahara’s latest mystery, Clark and Division, revolves around a Japanese American family building a new life in 1940s Chicago after their release from mass incarceration during World War II. Mosley’s indefatigable detective, Easy Rawlins, returns in Blood Grove, solving a new mystery on the streets of Southern California in 1969. Moderated by Dwyer Murphy, editor in chief of CrimeReads.  

The in-person programming includes “The View from the End of the World”, October 3, 11:00 a.m. Eastern.

A cross-country road trip in an atomic-powered tunnel digger, when everything else has stopped working.. A scavenger hunt for extinct species set against the backdrop of environmental collapse.. Hollywood dreams literally going up in flames, amid nefarious corporate dealings.  Join Jonathan Lethem (The Arrest), Jeff VanderMeer (Hummingbird Salamander), and Alexandra Kleeman (Something New Under the Sun), as they discuss visions of our world and how we’ll manage to keep living in it. Moderated by Alice Sola Kim.

Jonathan Lethem and Jeff VanderMeer will be appearing virtually.

(2) FLAME ON. SF2 Concatenation’s Autumn 2021 issue weighed in on fan controversies from last spring in this incendiary Editorial Comment.  (The creators of this long-lived periodic sff news publication are The Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation Team.)

EDITORIAL COMMENT

The 2021 Worldcon has a new Chair who deserves best wishes from all in the SF Worldcon community.  We need to remember, she has taken over following the successive resignations of the convention’s former co-chairs one of which was due to the continued abuse conrunners and others are receiving from a minority of self-righteous, perfervid, strident Worldcon fans.
          Of course, it is not just convention runners, this year one major author who has given much to the Worldcon community – in both time, effort and cash over many years – has received disparaging attention due to what is arguably a non-malicious misjudgement unfortunately made at last year’s Worldcon. The maltreatment this well-known author has received includes a nasty little article whose title uses profanity against its target (the article’s writer was unable to marshal her argument with calm logic). Sadly, there were enough of these strident fans for it to be short-listed for a Hugo Award to be presented at this year’s Worldcon. That the article contains both a profanity and the author’s name – the target of her abuse – means that it clearly runs contrary to the Worldcon convention’s own code of conduct, yet the Worldcon committee has decided to do nothing: the least it could have done would have been to censor the offending words and explain why.
          Such Worldcon abuse from a minority of fans is not new, in fact it seems to be increasingly regular.  Indeed the last time the Worldcon had been held in our neck of the woods in Brit Cit there was a volatile reaction to the proposed host for the Hugo ceremony that was both unwarranted and totally over-the-top that even spilled over into the mainstream press.
          And so it will be interesting this year to see whether the Hugo will go to a hate-mongering work or whether the majority of Worldcon’s Hugo voters will take a stand?
          The Worldcon is next likely to come to our neck of the woods in 2024; that is if the Cal Hab Worldcon bid for that year wins.  Let’s hope that by then the braying, vociferous minority will have moved on so that that event can be tantrum free.

(3) BIDDERS CALLED OUT. SF2 Concatenation – which is produced by a predominantly UK team – also challenged the Glasgow in 2024 Worldcon bid to address crowding issues at the last three European Worldcons.

The 2024 bid for a British Worldcon in Glasgow is still on….  But given the increasing overcrowding problems at recent European Worldcons (London in 2013Helsinki in 2017, culminating in a jam-packed Dublin in 2019) it seems that the current generation of European Worldconrunners are unable or (worse?) unwilling to curb numbers to fit their venue’s size.  It would arguably be helpful if the Glasgow 2024 bid team gave a clear steer as to its planning policy on avoiding overcrowding so that those contemplating registering having attending the programme (as opposed to the socialising) as a big draw can decide whether or not to commit a four-figure investment in registration, travel, accommodation and food to attend.

(4) HOLLYWOOD ICON. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I heard this 2018 interview Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Rick Baker and his daughter Veronica Baker: Maltin on Movies: Rick and Veronica Baker. Rick Baker won seven Oscars for makeup and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  His daughter, Veronica, is a producer at DC Universe Infinite.

Rick Baker discovered his calling in 1958 when he was 8 and bought the third issue of Famous Monsters Of Filmland.  As a teenager, he discovered the home address of master makeup artist Dick Smith and sent him some photos of his work.  Smith realized that Baker had talent and then spent a day with the teenage Baker giving him tips and subsequently hired him as an assistant for The Exorcist.  Smith, Baker recalled, was a very nice guy who was really good at spotting talent, since three of the teenage monster enthusiasts he corresponded with became Baker, J.J. Abrams, and Peter Jackson.

Baker, who retired in 2015 because he was tired of dealing with the suits, had lots of stories.  He notes he was King Kong in the 1976 movie and played the pilot who killed Kong in the 2005 remake.  He still works on new designs and enthusiastically posts them on Instagram.

Cosplayers whose favorite holiday is Halloween will find Baker and his family simpatico because they spend three months a year prepping their  Halloween costumes. One year Baker, his wife, and their two daughters played four different versions of the Joker.  Another year they were characters from Beauty And The Beast with Baker playing the Beast.

I thought this was very enjoyable.

(5) ENJOYING ASIMOV’S BOOKS. Adam-Troy Castro tries to stick up for Asimov, though necessarily begins his Facebook post with a hefty list of concessions.

Thanks to the new TV adaptation of Asimov’s FOUNDATION, some people are rushing to the internet to make the clever observation that Isaac Asimov really wasn’t a great writer of fiction.

They are also talking about his disgusting personal conduct toward women at conventions, but let us put that aside, mostly because I absolutely agree that it was disgusting and have no reason to argue with you….

…When I was a kid of about 8-10, precociously picking up books that had been marketed to adults from a school library that had the whole set of Asimov and Clarke books, they were a godsend to me. I had no problem parsing the prose, any prose. But for a kid who had not yet even begun to decode adult interactions, beginning a process that I am still shaky on today, as are we all, it was helpful to have books that imparted the sense of wonder and provided drama that was pretty much all surface because anything more sophisticated was precisely the stuff that I would be confused by and get bogged down in. Through Asimov I learned the trick of reading a book. And from Asimov I moved on to writers capable of introducing, among other things, more elegant prose, more complex description, more sophisticated characterization, and the resonance of human interactions that were by their nature harder to navigate than math problems….

(6) PROPERTY IS THEFT. WIRED’s “Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy” podcast interviews a professor who believes “Sci-Fi Is a Good Way to Learn Political Theory”. Listen to the complete interview with Joseph Reisert at the link.

…Reisert is currently teaching Ursula K. Le Guin’s novel The Dispossessed to help students understand Marxist ideas of a society without private property. “It’s the one imagining of a society without property that seems reasonably plausible to me,” he says. “I love that novel, and I think the central insight there is that to make that society without property work, even apart from the organizational challenges, requires a kind of moral transformation that’s not easy to accomplish.”

Another advantage of science fiction novels is that they tend to be more entertaining than political treatises, meaning that students are more likely to actually read them. “One shouldn’t underestimate the importance of having a light, easy reading at the end of a long semester right before people take exams,” Reisert says.

(7) THEFT IS THEFT, EVEN MORE SO. A press release on Business Wire reports “Educational Publishers Obtain Preliminary Injunction Against 60 Illegal Websites that Use Online Ads to Sell Pirated Content”.

Educational publishers, Macmillan LearningCengage Group, Elsevier, McGraw Hill and Pearson,have obtained a Preliminary Injunction from the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against 60 websites that sell illegal, unlicensed copies of eBooks. The publishers filed suit against the operators of these websites on August 9, 2021, and on the same date obtained a Temporary Restraining Order that required the immediate shutdown of the infringing activity on these websites, as well as the cessation of the services provided by intermediaries that support the websites. With the Preliminary Injunction, that injunctive relief has now been extended through the pendency of the litigation. This is the fourth suit in less than two years that the publishers have brought against pirate eBook websites, and the fourth time they have successfully obtained a Preliminary Injunction.

Like the prior lawsuits, the current lawsuit states that the operators of the pirate eBook websites use online ads—most notably ads on Google and Microsoft’s Bing—to attract customers searching for the publishers’ legitimate content to their illegal websites. In addition to Google and Bing, the websites rely on payment processors, web hosts, domain registrars, proxy service providers and other internet service providers, all of whom are required by the Court’s injunction to stop facilitating the pirate websites’ illegal activity.

The sale of pirated textbooks injures students, who do not receive legitimate copies of the products they seek to purchase. Piracy also causes publishers financial injury, creating a ripple effect impacting the ability to invest in the creation of new works and scholarly contributions that benefit education as a whole. The educational publishers’ enforcement efforts seek to stop online piracy.

(8) SANDMAN CLIP. IndieWire introduces “’The Sandman’ First Look at Neil Gaiman’s Netflix Series”.

Netflix’s logline for the dark fantasy show reads: “A rich blend of modern myth and dark fantasy in which contemporary fiction, historical drama and legend are seamlessly interwoven, ‘The Sandman’ follows the people and places affected by Morpheus, the Dream King, as he mends the cosmic — and human — mistakes he’s made during his vast existence.”

The preface at YouTube says —

The Lord of Dreams has been summoned, and captured, by mortal men. Once free from his captivity, this eternal ruler of Dreams will realize that his troubles are only just beginning. The Sandman is a Netflix series based on the groundbreaking comic book series created for DC by Neil Gaiman.

(9) LITERARY CHOCOLATE. Fine Books & Collections brings to fans’ attention a new Lovecraftian delicacy that will soon be available.

Open Book Chocolates, purveyors of handmade, literary-themed chocolates, has announced a Lovecraft-inspired dark chocolate bar infused with Nori seaweed, ginger spice, and candied ginger. It’s called ‘The Call of Cthulhu,’ and a Kickstarter campaign is underway to launch this new flavor into the world. They’ve already met their funding goal, but potential backers can still get in on the action through October 12.

The Kickstarter still has 13 days to run: The Call of Cthulhu Chocolate Bar by G. E. Gallas.

…Our newest flavor, The Call of Cthulhu, is inspired by H. P. Lovecraft’s 1926 short story about narrator Francis Wayland Thurston’s search for the truth behind his recently deceased great uncle’s papers. Cthulhu is an ominous, nightmarish, octopus-like creature that hibernates underwater until the time is right for him to emerge and cause havoc. Nori seaweed represents Cthulhu’s aquatic origins, while the spicy kick of ginger expresses the discombobulation he bestows on man….

Call of Cthulhu is just one of a whole line of book-inspired chocolate bars that includes Alice in Wonderland, Sherlock Holmes, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Treasure Island, The Raven, Les Miserables, and A Christmas Carol.

(10) ANOTHER TASTE OF HPL. Heritage Auctions has a big Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy auction coming up on October 14 when  The Gary Munson Collection of Horror and Fantasy Rare Books goes under the hammer. One example is this Lovecraft rarity:

…No discussion of genre-defining work is complete without a mention of H.P. Lovecraft. Though a somewhat controversial character, there can be no doubt that his curious mind, monstrous creations and bone-chilling descriptions of creeping madness continue to shape the horror genre — and will well into the future. There is a reason we describe the worst of our nightmares as Lovecraftian: because H.P. Lovecraft shined a spotlight on all the darkest corners of our world and our minds.

As rare and secretive as the Eldritch gods themselves is this copy of an autographed manuscript signed for the short story, Pickman’s Model. Featuring 16 leaves of Lovecraft’s spidery handwriting, the manuscript is not only signed by Lovecraft, but is also written on the backs of 15 letters written to the author himself. Purportedly, Lovecraft was no fan of typewriters and often used the backs of correspondence, notes and other scrap paper for getting down his ideas. These unique letters contain a laundry list of recognizable names of Lovecraft’s peers and provide unique insight into the publication timeline of the story and Lovecraft’s correspondence and interactions in the years leading up to publication…

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1963 – Fifty eight years ago this evening on CBS, My Favorite Martian first aired. It was created by John L. Greene who had absolutely no SF background. (Think The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.) It starred Ray Walston as “Uncle Martin” (aka the Martian) and Bill Bixby as Tim O’Hara. The first two seasons, seventy five episodes, were black and white, while the last thirty two episodes of season three were in color. It did very well for the first two seasons but ratings dropped significantly in the third season and it got cancelled. An animated series, My Favorite Martians, was made by Filmation and aired on CBS a decade later. It lasted sixteen episodes. Jonathan Harris voiced Martin. It would be remade in 1999 as a film with Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Martin and Ray Walston in a new role, Armitan/Neenert. It was a box office disaster. It currently has a twelve percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 28, 1873 — Theodore Lorch. He’s the High Priest in 1936 Flash Gordon serial. He also shows up (uncredited originally) as Kane’s Council Member in the 1939 Buck Rogers serial as well. (Died 1947.)
  • Born September 28, 1930 — Naura Hayden. Her best-known film appearance is a starring role in The Angry Red Planet where she was Dr. Iris “Irish” Ryan. Yes she was a redhead. Unless you can count her uncredited appearance as a harem girl in Son of Sinbad, this is her only film or series genre role. In 1955, she joined a Canadian musical cast of Li’l Abner. This was made possible by Sidney W. Pink who wrote the script for The Angry Red Planet. (Died 2013.)
  • Born September 28, 1934 — Stuart M. Kaminsky. Though best remembered as a very prolific mystery writer for which I single out the Toby Peters series about a private detective in 1940s Hollywood and the Inspector Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov series about a Moscow police inspector,  he does have genre works. He did two Kolchak the Night Stalker graphic novels, plus wrote the scripts for two Batman stories, “The Batman Memos” and “The Man Who Laughs”. As an editor, he’s responsible for the On a Raven’s Wing: New Tales in Honor of Edgar Allan Poe anthology. (Died 2009.)
  • Born September 28, 1942 — Ian McShane, 79. Setting aside Deadwood which is the favorite series of Emma Bull and Will Shetterly where he’s Al Swearengen, he portrayed Mr. Wednesday in American Gods. And it turns out, though I don’t remember it, he was Dr. Robert Bryson in Babylon 5: The River of Souls film. And he’s Blackbeard in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Now you tell me what your favorite genre role is by him. 
  • Born September 28, 1944 — Isla Blair, 77. Her first credited film appearance was in  Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors as an art gallery assistant.  She was Isabella in The King’s Demons, a Fifth Doctor story. She’s in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as the wife of her real-life husband Julian Glover, and credited as Mrs. Glover. She’s Blaker in The Quatermass Experiment. Finally she has played a starring role as Sally in the BBC’s alternate history An Englishman’s Castle series.
  • Born September 28, 1959 — Scott MacDonald, 62. He’s been on four Trek shows:  Next Gen,  Voyager,  Deep Space Nine, and  Enterprise. He’s also up on Space Above and BeyondBabylon 5X-FilesStargate: SG-1Carnivale and Threshold. He was also in Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman, a film which you can guess how bad the rating at Rotten Tomatoes is.
  • Born September 28, 1961 — Nicholas Briggs, 60. A Whovian among Whoians who started out writing Who fanfic. First off he’s the voice of the Daleks and the Cybermen in the new series of shows. Well not just them as he also voices the Judoon, the Ice Warriors, the  Nestene Consciousness, the Jagrafess and the Zygons.  Second he’s the Executive Producer of Big Finish Productions, the audio drama company that has produced more Doctor WhoTorchwood and other related works that you’d think possible. Third he did act twice in the Whoverse. Once on Torchwood as Rick Yates on “Children of Earth: Day Four” andThe Sarah Jane Adventures as Captain Tybo in “Prisoner of the Judoon” episode.  Fourth he’s appeared as himself in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot
  • Born September 28, 1974 — Alexis Cruz, 47. He was Skaara in the Stargate film and  remarkably got to play the same character in the Stargate SG-1 series as well which is unusual indeed. He’s done a number of fairly obscure horror films (DarkWolfSpectres, Slayer and Altergeist).
Hayao Miyazaki

(13) LOVE FOR MIYAZAKI. {Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Behind a paywall in the September 21 Financial Times, former Financial Times film critic Nigel Andrews noted the 20th anniversary of Hiyao Miyazaki’s Spiritied Away, the only film in Andrews’s 46-year career he gave six stars to (Andrews judged on a 1-5 star scale).

Hiyao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away is 20 years old. I saw it at the 2001 Berlin Film Festival, where it won the golden Bear for Best film.  Some months later it won the Best Animated Feature Oscar. Is it the best film I’ve ever seen?  Quite possibly.  I’d want it on a desert island.  Yes, my life would be poorer without it. And I never, during my 46 years as a practicing movie reviewer, bestowed that 6/5 rating on anything else; or even thought to….

…Maybe Miyazaki’s masterpiece is better seen as a movie to crown his own career than to coronate future directors.  He never followed it with a better one himself, though there are marvels in Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, and The Wind Rises.  But then Welles never surpassed Citizen Kane, nor Hitchcock Vertigo.  Spirited Away is the great treasure of 21st century animation, and we may be saying that when the 21st century ends. 

(14) TRADPUB’S ANSWER TO THE $600 ASHTRAY. Amanda S. Green, in “Who can read your book?”, discusses news reports about the U.S. Senate’s Finance Committee grilling publishers about library e-book contracts.  

…As an example, the article notes how a California school district had to pay $27/yr per student for access to e-books of The Diary of Anne Frank. In other words, if 100 students that year studied the book, the district paid the publisher $2700–and the district nor the kids “owned” that e-book. If they bought the paperback book directly from Amazon instead of through Baker & Taylor where they’d probably get a discount, they’d pay $11/copy or less. The e-book would cost $6.99. So why is the per student cost for the school library for this e-book so much more?

Why aren’t publishers trying to encourage school districts to invest more of their limited library funds in books and e-books–and giving them more for their money–than they are? After all, if we teach our youngsters to enjoy reading, that should be a win-win for publishers, right?

When publishers have politicians pointing out the obvious, there’s a problem….

(15) ON WRY. David Bratman’s report about visiting “Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” in San Jose begins with a rather clever comment.

… You show your proof of vaccination – though they’re quite bewildered by the actual card, expecting it to be transferred to a phone – and nobody’s very interested in your ticket – and head down a clogged (because people read very slowly) passage by a series of panels with explanatory narration and quotes from Vince’s letters in English and Spanish. Finally, if you get around that and the arrow-bearing signs reading “Gogh This Way” which must be terribly confusing to anyone who doesn’t know how to mispronounce the name, you get to the main hall….

(16) REWRITING THE DICTIONARY. The WPM Invitational site has an archive of the results of two Washington Post competitions, among other things: “Word Play Masters”.

The Washington Post’s Mensa invitational once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.   Here are the winners:

1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.                     
                                                                            
2. Ignoranus : A person who’s both stupid and an asshole….               

And there are 15 more.

The same site also has the 16 winners of a different challenge:

The Washington Post has also published the winning submissions to its yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.  And the winners are:
                                                                                                              
                                                                            
 1. Coffee , n. The person upon whom one coughs.                            
                                                                            
 2. Flabbergasted , adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained….             

Etc.

(17) LIVED IN A HOLE IN THE GROUND. “Scientists Unseal Secret Cave Chamber Used by Neanderthals”Yahoo! has the story.

Scientists exploring a cave network inside of the Rock of Gibraltar—a monolithic limestone mass in the British territory of Gibraltar—have discovered a chamber that nobody’s seen for 40,000 years. The chamber, which measures about 42 square feet, not only offers insight into a pocket of Earth long untouched, but also, in all likelihood, an area where Neanderthals visited. And perhaps snacked on animal carcasses.

Gizmodo reported on the discovery, which the scientists recently announced. The team visited the Gibraltar cave network—known as Gorham’s Cave complex—in August of this year as a continuation of a nine-year-long effort to determine its true dimensions. The complex is of intrigue as experts consider it to be one of the last habitations for Neanderthals in Europe. The site’s so important for archaeology, in fact, it’s even a UNESCO World Heritage Site….

(18) ROBOTECH. Here’s a promotional video with footage the Amazon Astro mentioned in the Scroll the other day:

(19) AUTEUR’S DEBUT. Dementia 13, the 1963 horror film that marked Francis Ford Coppola’s debut has been released last week in a restored director’s cut.

Presented in HD and available on Blu-ray for the first time, Francis Ford Coppola’s director’s cut of Dementia 13 is quintessential gothic horror, wrapped in the twisted mysteries of a family’s deepest, darkest secrets. A widow deceives her late husband’s mother and brothers into thinking he’s still alive when she attends the yearly memorial to his drowned sister, hoping to secure his inheritance. But her cunning is no match for the demented, axe-wielding thing roaming the grounds of the family’s Irish estate in this cult favorite featuring Patrick Magee, Luana Anders, William Campbell, and Bart Patton.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Costume Designer Tutorial” on Screen Rant, Tyler Lemco plays costume designer Dode L.who took off Superman’s underwear for Man Of Steel and says “I knocked Thor’s dumb helmet off his dumb head and never looked back”  Among his suggestions:  black leather jackets always work and make sure all male superheroes have abs built into their costumes; but don’t ask him about “that credit card thing” that got him into trouble with Willem Dafoe. This was written by Seb Decter.  Ryan George has a brief cameo.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]