Pixel Scroll 11/6/23 Reader, I Pixeled Him

(1) DANGEROUS COVER REVEALS. J. Michael Straczynski  today posted in social media links to the Amazon pre-order pages showing the covers of of Dangerous Visions and Again, Dangerous Visions coming out from Blackstone Publishing next year.

JMS added that, “What’s not noted in this description is that this edition of Dangerous Visions the book has two new introductions, one by me, and one by Patton Oswalt.”

Dangerous Visions, Blackstone Publishing; Hardcover edition (March 26, 2024)

Again, Dangerous Visions, Blackstone Publishing; Unabridged edition (June 1, 2024)

(2) SERGEY LUKYANENKO PROMOTES CHENGDU WORLDCON BOOK. This is news because it’s the first time this year that Sergey Lukyanenko’s blog has mentioned the Chengdu Worldcon, where he was a no-show guest of honor. On October 31 he promoted the book published for the con containing stories by the three GoHs.

A collection of stories by honored guests of WorldCon 2023 (Chengdu, China): “The Stars Echo” Authors: Sergey Lukyanenko, Liu Cixin, and Robert Sawyer

His blog includes several photos from a Chinese promotional event for the book (none of them showing the other two GoHs).

(Interestingly, his next blog post announced a scheduled appearance by Vladimir Putin at the Public Chamber of Russia, of which Lukyanenko is a member. He and 39 others were appointed members by Putin in April.)

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Cadwell Turnbull and Victor Manibo on Wednesday, November 8, 2023. The event begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern in the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs)

Cadwell Turnbull

Cadwell Turnbull is the award-winning author of The Lesson and No Gods, No Monsters. His short fiction has appeared in The Verge, Lightspeed, Nightmare, Asimov’s Science Fiction and several anthologies, including The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018 and The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019. His latest novel We Are the Crisis is available now from Blackstone Publishing.

Victor Manibo

Victor Manibo is a Filipino speculative fiction writer living in New York. A 2022 Lambda Literary Emerging Voices Fellow, he is the author of the science fiction noir novel The Sleepless. His next novel, Escape Velocity, is forthcoming from Erewhon Books in Spring 2024. Aside from fiction, he also spins fantastical tales in his career as a lawyer. He lives in Queens with his husband, their dog, and their two cats.

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

The Tibet SF table in the fan area

(Note: I am of course aware that the status of Tibet is a controversial subject, to put it mildly.  For better or worse, this item focuses solely on the content in the linked article.  Also, given that this item is based on a machine translation of a Chinese-language article that in turn uses many Tibetan names, I’m sure there is a very high chance of mistranscribed or mistranslated names and titles, for which I can only apologize.)

This WeChat/Weixin article covers the Tibet SF table that was present in the fan area at the Worldcon.  Some extracts, via Google Translate, with manual edits:

The crowd in the hall was bustling and noisy, and the schedule of activities was full. However, many details were not satisfactory. The entire convention was not planned like a free and easygoing party, but more like a well-regulated exhibition. After all, the fan area was located in the lobby on the first floor, in a corner space.

I wandered around the exhibition area… and a line of familiar and unfamiliar fonts attracted my attention.  They read “In this way, Tibetans are a people with a long history. A nation with a history of science fiction literature and a great influence on various science fiction works in the world; Tibet is a treasure trove of science fiction decorated with faith and curiosity, as well as romance and enthusiasm.”

Are there actually elements of science fiction in the plateau tradition that I have lived with for many years? …

The table area was not large, and it was filled with Tibetan books with traditional bindings and modern designs. Two “roll-up banners” were placed at each side, displaying the text “Introduction to Tibetan Science Fiction Works” in Tibetan, Chinese and English, and a huge background board stood against the wall. Under the huge bilingual title “Tibetan Science Fiction Works”, there were posters for two film and television works, “2012” and “The Nine Billion Names of God”. Between the posters, an exquisite painting was hung…

[The author of the article in conversation with one of the people staffing the table]

Cang Gou: Could you name a traditional science fiction literary work that you think is representative [of Tibetan SF]?

Yun Dan: Yes, for example, I think the ancient Tibetan book “Semi”, which dates back more than a thousand years, is one of the earliest works with science fiction elements. It is a biography of a character, written in poetic form. It is written in a physical style, but it includes the science fictional element of exploring the universe. There is a phrase in the book: “The world is incredibly infinite.”  It mentions other forms of civilization beyond the earth, showing the insignificance of human beings. What we see is not the world as it is, and that many worlds are beyond our vision and understanding. Tibetan culture not only recognizes the existence of intelligent life on other planets, but also that some of the planets are much more civilized than the Earth we live on.

Cang Gou: This is a very interesting interpretation. Are there any works in traditional Tibetan literature that we would be more familiar with?

Yun Dan: Of course, the world-famous  “Epic of King Gesar” also contains elements of science fiction. Not only is it a “living epic” that is still being worked on, but it also mentions a lot of technological things. For example, the story “Conquering the Snowy Mountains and Crystal Kingdom”, created around the 17th century, describes a wooden aircraft that could seat 15 people . This aircraft was powered by an internal iron engine, allowing soldiers to fly long distances. “House Tales” records the legend of how a team of carpenters, blacksmiths and other craftsmen made an aeroplane that successfully flew into the sky. Other stories also mention “modern” equipment such as ships, wires, and rockets.  Most modern scholars believe that the Epic of King Gesar was created around the 11th to 13th centuries, so the “future” objects mentioned above could not really exist in that era, but from another perspective, they reflect traditional Tibetan literary works, with an extraordinary imagination…

Cang Gou: So are there any science fiction works in contemporary Tibetan literature?

Yun Dan: Yes, for example, there is a story called “The End of the Moon” in Thondup Tsering‘s novels, in which in a future world, a child asks his grandfather, why is there no moon in the sky?  His Grandpa explains that a long time ago, due to the development of industrialization, humans destroyed the Earth’s environment, and furthermore, because of uncontrolled selfishness and greed, they then set their sights on the moon. In order to obtain mineral deposits, they chose to blow up the moon, regardless of [the impact on] future generations.  Such science fiction stories also have strong realistic criticism and warning significance. In addition, there are also science fiction poems such as “Ping” and “Home” in my own “Collected Poems of Gao Yun”, and other authors have published [SFnal work] in “Gongga Mountain”, “Tibetan Literature”, “Zhangchar” and other publications, but overall the number is relatively small…

Cang Gou: What do you think of the current situation of Tibetan science fiction?

Yun Dan: In actuality, Tibetans are a very imaginative nation, and there are a lot of science fiction genes in their traditional culture. However, we have not done enough research, organization and development in this area. The older generation may not understand it well. What does science fiction mean? Young people don’t have many opportunities to be exposed to science fiction works. Many people also don’t know how to rediscover and apply traditional culture from the perspective of science fiction. Therefore, the audience for science fiction works is very small, and the science fiction atmosphere in Tibet is very weak compared to China and overseas.

Cang Gou: How do you think we can promote the development of Tibetan science fiction?

Yun Dan: First of all, we need to discover more Tibetan science fiction elements in traditional culture, so that more young generations can like science fiction and develop a  science fictional mindset.  Secondly, we need a larger number of writers to participate in the creation, translation and dissemination of science fiction works. Thirdly, the government and the private sector should provide more support for science fiction creation and the dissemination of science fiction culture, and cultivate the science fiction cultural atmosphere in Tibet.

Articles about Hai Ya from a finance newsletter and his employer

This article from a financial news organization is a couple of weeks old, but I hadn’t got around to posting it before now.  It’s a fairly standard piece about the Best Novelette Winner, which came to my attention via a bilingual finance blog.  That has some extracts which I imagine are better translated than the Google Translate-sourced material that has been published here.  It also links to another interview with Hai Ya, which seems to be by the account of his employer, and which perhaps veers a little into advertorial territory in places.

There was also a Xiaohongshu post from his employer’s account.

Images from his employer’s Xiaohongshu post

Miscellaneous Xiaohongshu galleries

This one has a photo that shows the organizers were steadfastly refusing to acknowledge the reality that Lukyanenko wasn’t going to be at the con.  (As an aside, I’ve also seen post-con promotional material for the Liu/Sawyer/Lukyanenko anthology that refers to all three as Guests of Honour.)

Several Western attendees are pictured in this image set, posted by one of the con staff.

And finally a slightly random set of images.  I’m not sure which hotel some of these were taken in; maybe the Wyndham rather than the Sheraton close to the venue?

(5) GOT ONE JOE, GET SOME MORE. Justin Caravoulias shared “An incredibly Brief History Of G.I. Joe Action Figures” in the Heritage Auctions newsletter.

…The original G.I. Joe line was released in 1964 with soldiers representing the 4 branches of the military, each with clothing, gear, and weapons that were interchangeable. Additional outfits and gear were available in accessory kits sold separately as well. From 1964 to 1969, Hasbro released many different Military figures and expanded to international soldiers as well with their Soldiers of the World which included German, Japanese, British, French, and Australian fighters. Hasbro even released a fire truck with Crash Crew figure, a Canadian Mounty, and a female Nurse figure which is highly sought after today.

In 1969 as the Vietnam War became increasingly unpopular, G.I. Joe steered away from military toys and released adventure sets. By 1970, the “Adventure Team” G.I. Joe figures were no longer about military but about accomplishing special missions. This also mis when the “Kung-fu Grip” and “Lifelike Hair” were introduced. My first G.I. Joe as a child was a 12 Inch Adventure Team Land Adventurer that my mother purchased at a local yard sale. I still vividly recall playing with him among the planters in the living room next to our burgundy red 1960’s foam-cushioned couch….

(6) STEPPING INTO THE ANCIENT. “In search of strange and sacred sites – the UK’s weirdest walks” – the Guardian is tracking them down.

… And then, in the closing hours of the 20th century, came Julian Cope’s The Modern Antiquarian, a landmark practical tome for the would-be site-seeker, served up in its own mud-proof slipcase, synthesising archaeology, folklore, grid references, helpful full-colour maps, parking advice and a small smidgeon of Cope’s own eccentric interpretations, often later validated by reluctantly admiring academics. The stones were stages! Rock and roll! It was a game-changer, and Cope opened up the crack in the Devil’s Grave of our folkloric landscape to all, like the wizard of Alderley Edge.

But Weird Walk is not The Modern Antiquarian. If anything, the three Weird Walkers, whoever they may be, have returned the love of folk tales, ancient sites and the perambulations that lead one to their locations even more defiantly to the realm of the gentleman and gentlewoman amateurs who first documented them. The sensibly shod 17th-century parson, mapping the megaliths between funerals and marriages, and the aristocratic antiquary, pleading with some Cornish farmer to spare the collapsed burial chamber whose capstone he had earmarked for a pigsty, would recognise the Weird Walkers as kindred spirits. No one knows who they are, or what they are doing.

And yet, in their costly boots and cagoules, they seem to have stumbled into something. They walk the landscape in the shadows of the seasons as we used to experience them before they blurred, reminding us of how we once measured out the increments of our humanity, and etched it into rock and earth, in the annual cycles of rotting and rebirth. When we lose this knowledge, we are lost. We’re probably lost anyway to be honest, but fuck it, let’s go down drunk and walking weird.

Fernworthy Forest, Dartmoor, Devon

Dartmoor is a weird place; temporal dislocation comes with the territory. Wayfinding is not easy among this gorse, these rambling tors and secluded brooks. And when an autumn mist descends, you can be transported: a bronze age farmer to your left, a medieval tin miner to your right, and up ahead the lord of the manor has antiquarian ambitions. He’s just repositioned those stones. The earth gnomes don’t approve.

The stretch of moor between the storied Warren House Inn and the foreboding interwar plantation of Fernworthy Forest is classic Dartmoor; the grasses are thick underfoot and marshy ground emerges without warning, saturated by the capricious weather. Long ago, the moorland here would have rolled uninterrupted and Fernworthy’s ancient monuments would have been as exposed as their neighbours at Merrivale or the Grey Wethers. Now, the break with the moor is absolute, and dark evergreens offer up an entrance out of a Grimm’s tale. Once inside, the silent monoculture can provide even the warmest October day with an eerie chill.

Near the edge of the forest sits Assycombe double stone row, Fernworthy’s planters helpfully leaving a gap between the saplings for the stones to breathe. Although little known, it is a remarkable monument that seems to tumble down its grassy hill, the irregular miniliths descending like a dragon’s spine from an initial menhir to a large blocking stone at the foot of the slope.

Assycombe is one of the many stone rows on Dartmoor thought by early antiquarians, such as Richard Polwhele, to be “Druid ways”. They are scattered across the landscape, sometimes barely discernible, but always potent in their imaginative value. Walking these ancient lines creates an access point, a connection to those who walked them long ago….

(7) LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] More LearnedLeague specials.

You can find twelve questions about vampires here. (I got eleven right.)

And twelve more about “Haunted New England” here. (Only eight of these.)

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 6, 1907 Catherine Crook de Camp. Author and editor. Most of her work was done in collaboration with her husband L. Sprague de Camp, to whom she was married for sixty years. Her solo work was largely non-fiction. Her Science-Fiction Handbook was nominated for Retro Hugo at Noreascon 4, and Dark Valley Destiny: The Life of Robert E. Howard was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. Heinlein in part dedicated Friday to her. It is worth noting that she has been depicted in works by several authors, usually together with her husband. I’ll single out she appears in S. M. Stirling’s In the Courts of the Crimson Kings and Paul Malmont’s The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown. (Died 2000.)
  • Born November 6, 1936 Edmond G Addeo,  87. Author with Richard M Garvin of The FORTEC Conspiracy, a late Sixties SF novel set at Roswell that the X-Files could’ve used for source material. The Roswell conspiracy fanatics thought it was actually fact. 
  • Born November 6, 1948 Michael Dirda, 75. Currently book critic for the Washington Post. His connection to genre is a fascinating work entitled On Conan Doyle; or, The Whole Art of Storytelling which won the Edgar Award for Best Critical / Biographical Works in 2012 and which looks at his SF work as well. Also worth bringing to your attention is Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books which y’all should naturally be interested in reading.
  • Born November 6, 1951 Gary Ruddell, 72. Illustrator whose cover artwork for Dan Simmons’s Hyperion novel was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Original Artwork at ConFiction. I’m also fond of the work he did on the Liavek and Thieves’ World covers.
  • Born November 6, 1955 Catherine Ann Asaro, 68. She is best known for her books about the Ruby Dynasty, called the Saga of the Skolian Empire. When I wrote up this Birthday originally four years ago, I said, “I don’t think I’ve read them, so if you’ve read them, please do tell me about them.” Since then I’ve read The Jigsaw Assassin and it’s quite excellent indeed. The Quantum Rose won a Nebula as did “The Spacetime Pool” novella. And I would argue strongly that her magnificent “Ancient Ages” song is definitely genre in content. It’s available from the usual musical digital sources with her books available from the usual digital suspects. 
  • Born November 6, 1965 Sandra Newman, 58. She has two genre novels, both of which did well as mainstream fiction as well: The Country of Ice Cream Star, a near future dystopian feminist novel and The Heavens which may or may not involve time travel back to Elizabethian times. She also co-authored with Howard Mittlemark, How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them–A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld gives this model a day of rest, but not of arrest.

(10) FROM MCU TO MCFILMS. The New York Times review of MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios by Joanna Robinson, Dave Gonzales and Gavin Edwards shows “Why You Can’t Spell Hollywood Without Marvel”.

Hollywood doesn’t believe in immortals. From Mary Pickford to the MGM musical, Golden Age cowboys to teenage wizards, the city worships its gods only until their box-office power dims. So it feels audacious — if not foolhardy — to open “MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios” and find its authors, Joanna Robinson, Dave Gonzales and Gavin Edwards, declaring that it’s difficult to imagine a future where the Disney-owned superhero industrial complex “didn’t run forever.” Even Tony Stark, better known as Iron Man, has yet to engineer a perpetual motion machine.

Yet the three veteran pop culture journalists behind this detailed accounting of the company’s ascendancy have the numbers to support it. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, a constellation of solo superhero tales mixed with all-star team-ups, including four installments of “The Avengers,” is Hollywood’s most successful movie franchise of all time — 32 films that have grossed a combined $29.5 billion. By comparison, the book points out that the “Star Wars” series, Marvel’s nearest rival, has notched only 12 films and $10.3 billion.

Turning the pages — which are devoid of the usual, and unnecessary, glossy photo spreads — one realizes that superheroes are an X-ray lens into the last decade and a half of Hollywood disruption. Every upheaval gets a mention: corporate mergers; profit-losing streaming services; Chinese censorship; digitally scanned actors; social media cancellations; #MeToo and #OscarsSoWhite; the resurgence of a production-to-distribution vertical pipeline that hadn’t been legal since the 1948 Paramount Decree. Pity there’s no room to examine each in depth.

First, the origin story. In the ’90s, the former overseer of Marvel Enterprises, Ike Perlmutter (let’s give him the comic book nickname “The Pennypincher”), empowered his entertainment division to license its biggest stars for cheap, scattering Spider-Man, Hulk and the X-Men across other studios in service of selling more toys. (“MCU” familiarizes us with the marketing term “toyetic.”)…

(11) IF YOU WANT TO BE AN ACTOR, SEE MISTER FACTOR. “’Stranger Things’ Producer Says Season 5 Won’t Use AI To De-Age Actors” reports Deadline.

The final season of Stranger Things is still on pause, but even as the principal cast gets older, executive producer Shawn Levy doesn’t think the team will need to go to any extreme lengths to de-age them.

Levy, who also directed two pivotal Season 4 episodes, recently suggested that the producers would do whatever they could to make the kids’ aging seem less apparent, because it will have been several years since the previous season wrapped production.

However, in an interview with Deadline, he clarified that he didn’t mean to suggest any computer-generated assistance….

(12) A SHOW WITH A FUTURE. “’Futurama’ Renewed For Two More Seasons By Hulu”Deadline has the story.

Hulu has ordered two more seasons of the adult animated series Futurama.

The streamer revived the series in 2022 with a 20-episode order. Season 11 premiered July 24 on Hulu on and was on Nielsen’s Top 10 originals series list for six weeks.

Season 12 is expected to debut on Hulu in 2024. The 20-episode latest order is for Seasons 13 and 14…

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George shows the way things would have gone differently “If Ouija Boards Had Been Invented Today”.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, David Goldfarb, 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 Jayn.]

Pixel Scroll 8/24/23 And The First One Said To The Second One There, I Hope You’re Having File

(1) BRITISH LIBRARY “FANTASY” EXHIBITION. [Item by Steven French.] For those who might be in London between October 27 and February 25, the British Library is putting on an exhibition about “Fantasy: Realms of Imagination”.

Set out on a legendary quest through the impossible worlds of fantasy. 

Let our landmark exhibition cast its spell as we explore the beautiful, uncanny and sometimes monstrous makings of fantasy. From epic visions to intricately envisaged details, we celebrate some of the finest fantasy creators, reveal how their imagined lands, languages and creatures came into being, and delve into the traditions of a genre that has created some of the most passionate and enduring fandoms. 

Journey from fairy tales and folklore to the fantastical worlds of Studio Ghibli. Venture into lands occupied by goblins and go down the rabbit hole. Travel through Middle-earth and into the depths of Pan’s Labyrinth. And discover how the oldest forms of literature continue to inspire fantasy authors today.

Gather your fellow adventurers and step through the British Library gates into the realms of fantasy as they have never been chronicled before. Who knows where your journey will lead…

Associated with the exhibition are a series of events including a discussion of some of Terry Pratchett’s ‘lost stories’ “A Stroke of the Pen: Terry Pratchett’s Lost Stories” on October 10 (also live-streamed on the BL platform).

And “The Dark is Rising and other stories: Susan Cooper and Natalie Haynes in conversation” on October 27 (also to be live streamed).

(2) BOOK HAUL. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] For those that follow young Moid Moidelhoff and his introduction to the cosmos of SF books (with the occasional sojourn into film and TV) on his Media Death Cult YouTube channel, there is a small soap opera dimension. Moid has an SF library in the room in which he shoots most of his videos and there are more books in the attic. Moid’s approach is to find books in good condition, second hand in the wild (buying brand new books is kind of cheating though he does occasionally do this too). This means he often changes books in his collection as titles migrate through various stages from tatty paperback to good condition hardback. Some of his Patreon followers also send him books and so, every other month or so he posts a “Book Haul” video in which he opens for the first time packages sent to him.

The long game plan had been for he and his wife to move to a bigger place where he could have a large library in his YouTube shooting room. And at last it looks like they are about to move. But there’s bad news. Apparently, their new place does not have the space to house all his existing library as well as all his attic-stored books in his new study. And so young Moid has taken the decision to stop posting “Book Hauls” on YouTube (though will still occasionally post some solely for his Patreon supporters).

Actually, I am a little saddened about this. I found it interesting to see what he was being sent and whether or not I had read the titles, or even have them in my own library. The festive December Book Hauls were particularly enjoyable as they conveyed the present-opening activities of Christmas Day. (You can see the 2021 Christmas Book Haul here).

I would tentatively (as there’s no reason for Moid to take notice of little old me) suggest that perhaps he might convert his new place’s loft into a larger library or, alternatively he might get an Alastair Reynolds type garden building in which to house the books Al Reynolds writes in his own garden study…

(As I have pointed out elsewhere – science journals and SF magazine articles – having a large library is environmentally friendly. Books lining a wall provide a thermal barrier so improving a house’s energy efficiency. Books also store atmospheric carbon. Books lining a wall saves on decorating costs, etc.)

Anyway, it looks like there will be no more fu¢k Alan Moore (it’s a running Book Haul joke borne of love for the man’s works, and not what you might initially suspect). You can see Moid’s last SF Book Haul YouTube video below. It is a long one with an interlude in which he, and his on-location cameraman, Charlie, visit Hay on Wye. For those on the other side of the Black Atlantic, outside of Brit Cit, Hay on Wye is a Welsh village where just about every other shop is a bookshop. If you are coming to CalHab next year for the 2024 UK Worldcon and are spending a week or so sight-seeing BritCit, then spending a full day (a couple of nights) in Hay on Wye might reward you with that long-sought after book edition you’ve been hunting for for ages… If you like hunting books in the wild, Hay on Wye makes for a full-blown safari. (Probably best to invest in posting the books you get back to your home country as opposed to taking them back on the plane if, like me, you have the moral breaking strain of a chocolate Mars bar and easily give in to temptation. This means you need to go on a weekday when Hay on Wye’s post office will be open all day.)

I digress… Moid’s last YouTube Book Haul below (it really is this time, honest)…

(3) OXENMOOT A WEEK AWAY. The Tolkien Society expects 350 Tolkien fans from 25 different countries will meet in Oxford next weekend to celebrate the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien. This year’s Oxonmoot is the Tolkien Society’s 50th Oxonmoot which coincides with the 50th anniversary of Tolkien’s death. 

The event, taking place at St Anne’s College, Oxford from Thursday 31st August to Sunday 3rd September, has sold out due to the increasing popularity of Tolkien’s works. The event follows the recent publication of The Fall of Númenor and the release of the Amazon TV-series The Rings of Power set in the Second Age of Middle-earth.

The event itself will include talks from leading Tolkien scholars – including Brian Sibley, editor of The Fall of Númenor, screenwriter of The Lord of the Rings radio series and biographer of Peter Jackson – quizzes, workshops, an art exhibition, a masquerade, a Hobbit bake-off, a party and even theatrical performances. The weekend concludes, as always, with Enyalie, a ceremony of remembrance at Tolkien’s grave in Wolvercote Cemetery on Sunday afternoon….

(4) TIL WE HAVE FACES. “Dragons Are People Too: Ursula Le Guin’s Acts of Recognition” are analyzed by John Plotz at Literary Hub.

Nobody would dare to boil down Ursula Le Guin’s marvelous writing—all that fantasy, all that science fiction, poetry, essays, translations—into one idea. But in a pinch I’d pick two sentences from her 2014 National Book Award speech: “Capitalism[’s] power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings.”

Fantasy and science fiction never meant escapism for Ursula Le Guin. The dragons of Earthsea and the reimagined genders of The Left Hand of Darkness were always lenses, lenses she ground in order to sharpen her readers’ focus on everyday life. Indeed, for Le Guin, there was no difference between the stories she invented and everyday stories about the institutions governing our world. The dragons of Earthsea and capitalism are woven from similar material: it is imagination all the way down.

James Baldwin said not everything that can be faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed without being faced. The word for facing things in Le Guin is recognition, or you might even say re-cognition. Her characters—and readers—find themselves forced to think again. When they do so, what had seemed a fundamental truth about their universe turns out to be anything but….

(5) PALACIO Q&A. Here’s an excerpt from “Interview: R.J. Palacio” in the New York Times.

What book should everybody read before the age of 21?

“The Lord of the Rings.”

What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?

I got very into the works of the original creators of the literary fairy tale genre a few years ago — the women, like Madame d’Aulnoy and Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force, who wrote stories to entertain themselves and their friends in the salons of Louis XIV. These were very subversive tales that empowered these women and vented their wishful fantasies — often published in the literary gazettes of their day. I have five original Mercure Galant books from the 1600s in which some of these stories first appeared.

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?

While I wouldn’t mind nerding out with Carl Sagan, J.R.R. Tolkien and Arthur C. Clarke, I’ll keep it to the living: Susanna Clarke, Margaret Atwood and Judy Blume. Can you guys arrange that?

(6) FUTURAMA. Gizmodo tells how “Odd couple Bender and Dr. Zoidberg join forces for holiday chaos in this peek at ‘I Know What You Did Next Xmas’”: “Hulu’s Futurama Exclusive Clip: Robot Santa’s Sci-Fi Christmas”.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 24, 1899 Gaylord Du Bois. He was a writer of comic book stories and comic strips, as well as Big Little Books. He wrote Tarzan for Dell Comics and Gold Key Comics from the Forties to early Seventies.) He was one of the writers for Space Family Robinson which was the basis for the Lost in Space series. (Died 1993.)
  • Born August 24, 1915 Alice Sheldon. Alice Sheldon who wrote as James Tiptree Jr. was one of our most brilliant short story writers ever. She only wrote two novels, Up the Walls of the World and Brightness Falls from the Air and they too are worth reading. (Died 1987.)
  • Born August 24, 1932 William Morgan Sheppard. Best remembered I think as Blank Reg in Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future. Genre wise I’d add him being the Klingon Prison Warden In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Merrit in The Prestige, the rather scary Soul Hunter on Babylon 5 and a Vulcan Science Minister in Star Trek.  So have I missed anything for him, genre or otherwise worth noting here? (Died 2019.)
  • Born August 24, 1934 Kenny Baker. Certainly his portrayal of R2-D2 in the Star Wars franchise is what he’s best known for but he’s also been in Circus of HorrorsWombling Free, Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader series, The Elephant ManSleeping BeautyTime BanditsWillowFlash Gordon and Labyrinth. Personally I think his best role was as Fidgit in Time Bandits. (Died 2016.)
  • Born August 24, 1936 A. S. Byatt, 87. Author of three genre novels, two of which I’m familiar with, Possession: A Romance which became a rather decent film, and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature-winning The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, and one I’ve never heard of, Ragnarok: The End of the Gods,  but I’m actually much, much more fond of her short fiction. I’d start with the Little Black Book of Stories and Angels & Insects collections
  • Born August 24, 1951 Tony Amendola, 72. Probably best known for being the Jaffa master Bra’tac on Stargate SG-1. He’s also had recurring roles as Edouard Kagame of Liber8 on Continuum and on Once Upon a Time as Pinocchio’s creator, Geppetto. His list of one-off genre appearances is extensive and includes AngelCharmed,  Lois & Clark, Space: Above and Beyond, theCrusade spin-off of Babylon 5X FilesVoyagerDirk Gently’s Holistic Detective AgencyTerminator: The Sarah Connor ChroniclesAliasShe-Wolf of London and Kindred: The Embraced. He’s also been a voice actor in gaming with roles in such games as World of Warcraft: Warlords of DraenorWorld of Warcraft: Legion and World of Final Fantasy.
  • Born August 24, 1958 Lisa A. Barnett. Another one who died way too young. Wife of Melissa Scott. Some of her works were co-authored with her: The Armor of LightPoint of Hopes: A Novel of Astreiant and Point of Dreams: A Novel of Astreiant. They wrote one short story, “The Carmen Miranda Gambit”. She won the Lambda Literary Award. (Died 2006.)
  • Born August 24, 1957 Stephen Fry, 66. He’s Gordon Deitrich in V for Vendetta, and he’s the Master of Laketown in The Hobbit franchise. His best role genre wise is as Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows though he made an interesting narrator in the film version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and not to be overlooked is that he’s the narrator for all seven of the Potter novels for the UK audiobook recordings. His best roles however are decidedly not genre — it was the comic act Fry and Laurie with Hugh Laurie, with the two also in A Bit of Fry & Laurie and  then as Jeeves and Wooster. Bloody brilliant!

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • xkcd is Tech-Geeky enough to qualify for an item, not to mention the hidden moral message.

(9) MOON PROBE SUCCESS. “India lands a spacecraft near the moon’s south pole, a first for the world as it joins elite club”AP News has the story.

India became the first country to land a spacecraft near the moon’s south pole on Wednesday — a historic voyage to uncharted territory that scientists believe could hold vital reserves of frozen water, and a technological triumph for the world’s most populous nation.

After a failed attempt to land on the moon in 2019, India now joins the United States, the Soviet Union and China as only the fourth country to achieve this milestone. A lander with a rover inside touched down on the lunar surface at 6:04 p.m. local time, sparking celebrations across India, including in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru, where space scientists watching the landing erupted in cheers and applause….

(10) SMARTIE PANTS. “IARPA’s new pants will record your location” reports Nextgov/FCW.

Officials from the research agency said Tuesday that they had launched a program to craft performance-grade, computerized clothing that can record audio, video and geolocation data while retaining the wearability and comfort of normal fabrics.

The Smart Electrically Powered and Networked Textile Systems — SMART ePANTS — program emerged a year ago with a broad agency announcement seeking contractors to help deliver sensor systems that can be integrated into normal clothing like shirts and pants, or even socks and underwear.

Those sensors are part of a system that is woven into the textiles to make the garments more wearable and washable, but also able to “sense, store, interpret, and/or react to information from their environment,” effectively making them Active Smart Textiles, according to agency documents….

Daniel Dern quips, “This gives new meaning to ‘flying by the seat of one’s pants’ (and perhaps ‘No matter where you, there you are’).”

(11) ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AGES HEARTS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Your biological age – how old you are – is actually just one age you have.  Various parts of your body – brain, eyes, etc – have their own age. If, for example, you are middle aged, you might still unknowingly have the heart of an older person and so be at greater-than-you-think risk of a heart attack.

Up to now, things like your over-all biological age, lifestyle, blood cholesterol and genetic predisposition (did anyone in your family die young of a heart attack) have been used to guess a person’s heart’s age.

What biomedical researchers based in London, Brit Cit, have now developed is an artificial intelligence (AI) that can tell how old is a person’s heart. They also were able to quantify heart ageing factors and some of the genes involved – five seem particularly important.

They used used computer vision techniques to analyse cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging in 39,559 participants of the UK Biobank to train their AI.

See the primary research Shah, M. et al (2023) “Environmental and genetic predictors of human cardiovascular ageing”. Nature Communications, vol. 14, 4941.

(12) VIDEOS OF THE DAY. [Item by Dann.] Stone Trek is a five-episode mashup of Star Trek and the Flintstones.

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

Pixel Scroll 8/11/23 The Secret Diary Of Pixel Scroll, Aged Four And Five Fifths

(1) PUBLISHER STRUGGLES TO GET AMAZON TO LIST “JEWISH FUTURES” ANTHOLOGY. [Item by Michael A. Burstein.] Fantastic Books and I are having trouble getting Amazon to list the Jewish Futures: Science Fiction from the World’s Oldest Diaspora edited by Michael A. Burstein ebook on Amazon.

Fantastic Books publisher Ian Randal Strock told Facebook readers:

Amazon.com has decided to “block [the ebook version of Jewish Futures] from being sold on Amazon.” Apparently, the fact that Fantastic Books published the print version means that Fantastic Books submitting the ebook version to publish through them violates… something. I have no idea. So, if you use a Kindle ebook reader, and you’d like to read an electronic version of Jewish Futures, we recommend you buy it directly from Fantastic Books. Doing so will get you both the epub and the mobi versions of the book.

Amazon provides a number of ways to load your eBooks on to your Kindle. For instance, you can email it to your Kindle address. Click the link in the first comment for their email instructions, however the “Other Ways to Send” column on the right side of the Amazon page also shows you the other options available to you.

Also, they seem to have finally realized that the trade paperback version of the book is available.

Lezli Robyn amplified:

Amazon has decided to block the ebook edition of Jewish Futures from being published after multiple emails where the publisher, Ian Randal Strock, tried to find out why and how he can get the ebook listed on their website (the paper and hardback editions are up there!), and they said they will “uphold” their decision to block it from publication.

Ian will try to find out tomorrow why they made this decision and attempt get it reversed, but if there is ever a time to buy a book directly off of the publisher’s website to support them and their authors, this is it. So much blood, sweat, and tears go into publishing a new title and everyone in the book world knows how important sales numbers are in the first week!

I’ve even emailed Amazon’s CEO but haven’t heard anything. We’ve had to remind people they can buy the ebook from the publisher directly or from Barnes & Noble.  

We’ve also heard that Amazon has delayed getting the print books shipped out, even though the week before it was #1 in a few pre-order categories.

Here is the anthology’s Table of Contents:

  • Introduction by Jack Dann
  • Shema by Samantha Katz
  • Mission Divergence by E.M. Ben Shaul
  • Rachel Nussbaum Saves the World by Esther Friesner
  • One Must Imagine by Harry Turtledove
  • Into Thin Heirs by Susan Shwartz
  • Proof of Alina by Riv Begun
  • Baby Golem by Barbara Krasnoff
  • Frummer House by Leah Cypess
  • Moon Melody by SM Rosenberg
  • Initial Engagement by Steven H Silver
  • Matzah Ball Soup for the Vershluggin Soul by Randee Dawn
  • The Ascent by S.I. Rosenbaum and Abraham Josephine Reisman
  • The Aliens of Chelm by Valerie Estelle Frankel
  • The Kuiper Gemara by Shane Tourtellotte
  • Legend Born by Robert Greenberger
  • The Last Chosen by Jordan King-Lacroix

If anyone is in Boston on August 23, we are having a book event at Brookline Booksmith with the editor, publisher, cover artist Eli Portman and three writers, E.M. Ben Shaul, S.I. Rosenbaum, Abraham Josephine Riesman.

(2) SHERIDAN AND DELENN. “Warner Bros. Releases New ‘Babylon 5: The Road Home’ Clip”Animation World Network has the story.

…In anticipation of the all-new original animated movie, a never-before-seen clip from the film, “Standing In The Shadows” has just been released! In the clip, John Sheridan (voiced by Bruce Boxleitner) expresses his second thoughts about leaving Babylon 5 to his wife, Delenn (voiced by Rebecca Reidy)….

(3) PROPOSAL SUBMITTED TO COURT IN SUIT AGAINST INTERNET ARCHIVE. “Copyright: Publishers, Internet Archive File Court Proposal” at Publishing Perspectives. “A proposed judgment bars Internet Archive from of offering ‘unauthorized copies’ of book publishers’ copyrighted content inside and outside the United States.” There’s also an unspecified payment involved.

This afternoon (August 11), the Association of American Publishers is confirming to Publishing Perspectives that the publisher-plaintiffs in the June 2020 lawsuit of the Internet Archive have submitted to the US District Court in the Southern District of New York a joint, negotiated proposal for Judge Koeltl’s consideration.

As our readers will remember, the plaintiffs—Hachette Book Group; HarperCollins Publishers; John Wiley & Sons; and Penguin Random House—received on March 24 an adamant ruling against the Internet Archive for its “Open Library” lending activities. In that ruling, the court deemed Internet Archive as liable for copyright infringement.

Today’s proposed consent judgment provides for a “stipulated permanent injunction,” according to the AAP’s media messaging, “preventing Internet Archive from offering unauthorized copies of the plaintiffs’ books to the global public under the manufactured theory of ‘controlled digital lending,’ and indicates that the parties have reached a confidential agreement on a monetary payment, all subject to Internet Archive’s right to appeal the case.”…

(4) ZOOM CHANGES ITS MIND. According to Gizmodo, “Zoom Backtracks on Training Its AI on Your Calls”.

After massive backlash over its wishy-washy communication regarding training artificial intelligence with customer data, Zoom wants to set the record straight. Today, Zoom issued an update to its previous announcement on its plans for AI to formally claim that the company will not use audio, video, chat, or similar data to train its AI models.

Zoom issued the update today to its original blog post, published earlier this week by Chief Product Officer Smita Hashim. Zoom’s terms of service stated that the company could use Customer Content—which is what Zoom calls audio, video, chat, attachments, screen-sharing, etc.—to train its own in-house or third-party AI models. On Monday, however, the blog post from Hashim promised that Zoom wouldn’t use Customer Content to train AI (except in some cases). Today, the company has updated Section 10 of its terms of service to no longer retain the legal right to use Customer Content to train any AI models. Zoom did not immediately return Gizmodo’s request for comment on what data sources these AI features will, in fact, be trained with…..

Here’s the opening paragraph of the Zoom Blog’s post “How Zoom’s terms of service and practices apply to AI features”.

It’s important to us at Zoom to empower our customers with innovative and secure communication solutions. We’ve updated our terms of service (in section 10) to further confirm that Zoom does not use any of your audio, video, chat, screen-sharing, attachments, or other communications like customer content (such as poll results, whiteboard, and reactions) to train Zoom’s or third-party artificial intelligence models. In addition, we have updated our in-product notices to reflect this.*

Zoom is still offering users access to a pair of AI features:

…two powerful generative AI features — Zoom IQ Meeting Summary and Zoom IQ Team Chat Compose — on a free trial basis to enhance your Zoom experience. These features offer automated meeting summaries and AI-powered chat composition. Zoom account owners and administrators control whether to enable these AI features for their accounts.

We inform you and your meeting participants when Zoom’s generative AI services are in use….

(5) I AM I SAID. Writer Beware’s Victoria Strauss looks into a service capitalizing on a topical concern in “Dear Author, Are You Human? Certifying Authenticity”.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that where there is an issue of concern for writers, someone will find a way to monetize it….

In this fraught environment, it was probably inevitable that someone would come up with the idea of a service to certify or authenticate human authorship, and invite creators buy into it. This post takes a look at two such services.

The Authenticity Initiative

The originator of The Authenticity Initiative is Eliza Rae, who also offers social media, brand management, and PR services for authors. The Authenticity Initiative provides a seal to authors who pledge not to use AI-generated content in their work, along with a number of additional perks, including a newsletter and promotional opportunities. The cost: $50 per year.

Of course, as illustrated by the Bob the Wizard kerfluffle (in which a cover artist who swore their art was not AI-assisted turned out to be fibbing) as well as a general knowledge of human nature, the question is the degree to which a voluntary promise is actually equivalent to certification. I reached out to Eliza for comment, and you can see her response to that question in the Q&A below.

WRITER BEWARE: The Authenticity Initiative seems to rely on authors to self-certify that their work contains no AI-generated content. Do you have any concern that some authors may not be honest?

ELIZA RAE: Yes, that’s exactly correct. While technology and laws that govern AI are limited, we decided that a trust based platform for authors and readers to come together was the best way to service this aspect of the community until more legislation and/or publishing platforms have caught up to technology issues and the pitfalls of what is and is not considered legal to scrape or use to train generative AI software….

(6) MEDICAL UPDATE. StarShipSofa’s Tony C. Smith made an announcement to the District of Wonders email list.

…Some of you might know, some maybe not but I thought it only best to let you all know.

I have cancer (that feels so horrid to write). Bladder cancer.

As you can imagine this came as one f–king huge shock. Then it was discovered there might have been something on my lung… thank god… that was not the case… so just bladder cancer.

I go into hospital on the 15th August to have my bladder removed and from then on I’m on a bag. Total lifestyle chance but hopefully one I can put behind me and move on when it’s done.

One neat SF thing, the operation will be done by robot – the future is here!

(7) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to feast on Fettuccine Alfredo with Howard Bender on Episode 204 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Howard Bender

Eating the Fantastic moves on to Pittsburgh for the first of three episodes harvested due to this year’s StokerCon taking place in that city. My conversation this time around didn’t take place because of that main event, though, but only because I remembered my guest happens to live in Pittsburgh, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to reminisce with him about the old days.

I met Howard Bender 49 years ago, the year we both began working in the Marvel Comics Bullpen. He worked as a letterer and artist in the Marvel Comics production department from 1974–1980, and then moved on to DC Comics in the same role, where he worked from 1981–1985. He’s drawn Superman stories in Action Comics, Dial H for Hero stories published in The New Adventures of Superboy, Ghostbusters for First Comics, and a variety of series for Archie Comics. He also collaborated with Jack C. Harris on a Sherlock Holmes comic strip in the ‘90s. These days, he can be found at markets and fairs all across Pittsburgh working as a caricature artist.

We discussed how desperate Marvel Comics must have been to have hired young kids like us, his role in founding the Pittsburgh Comics Club (and the way he paid homage to that club down the road in Dial H for Hero), the day he showed Stan Lee his art portfolio over dessert, how he started his career at Marvel using Jack Kirby’s taboret, the fact neither of us would have become who we turned out to be without Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, how terrified we both were of production manager John Verpoorten, our first meetings with the late, great Johnny Romita, the important life lesson he learned from inker Mike Esposito, what he was glad he remembered you shouldn’t talk about with Steve Ditko, how Marie Severin inspired him in his current career as a caricaturist,  and so much more.

(8) NYT SFF CRITIC. Amal El-Mohtar reviews “Witches, Robots and Martial Artists, Ready for Battle” — new books by Juno Dawson, Emma Mieko Candon and Alexander Darwin — in the New York Times.

(9) BSFS BEAUTIFUL. Congratulations to the Baltimore Science Fiction Society on their revived clubhouse space. (By gosh, there’s a Dalek on the balcony!) See the photos at Facebook.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 11, 1902 Jack BinderThrilling Wonder Stories in their October 1938 issue published his article, “If Science Reached the Earth’s Core”, where the first known use of the phrase “zero gravity” is known to happen. In the early Forties, he was an artist for Fawcett, Lev Gleason, and Timely Comics. During these years, he created the Golden Age character Daredevil which is not the Marvel Daredevil though he did work with Stan Lee where they co-created The Destroyer at Timely Comics. (Died 1986.)
  • Born August 11, 1923 Ben P. Indick. A member of First Fandom and prolific fanzine publisher. He wrote a handful of short genre fiction and two serious non-fiction works, The Drama of Ray Bradbury and George Alec Effinger: From Entropy to Budayeen. (Died 2009.)
  • Born August 11, 1928 Alan E. Nourse, 1928 – 1992. His connections to other SF writers are fascinating. Heinlein dedicated Farnham’s Freehold to Nourse, and in part dedicated Friday to Nourse’s wife Ann.  His novel The Bladerunner lent its name to the movie but nothing else from it was used in that story. However Blade Runner (a movie) written by, and I kid you not, William S. Burroughs, is based on his novel. Here the term “blade runner” refers to a smuggler of medical supplies, e.g. scalpels. (Died 1992.)
  • Born August 11, 1932 Chester  Anderson. His The Butterfly Kid is the first part of what is called the Greenwich Village Trilogy, with Michael Kurland writing the middle book, The Unicorn Girl, and the third volume, The Probability Pad, written by T.A. Waters. I can practically taste the acid from here… The Butterfly Kid, like all of these novels. is available from all the usual suspects. (Died 1991.)
  • Born August 11, 1949 Nate Bucklin, 74. Musician who has co-written songs with Stephen Brust and others. He wrote two Liavek anthology stories, “Dry Well” and “Strings Attached” He’s a founding member of the Scribblies, the Minneapolis writer’s group, and is also one of the founding members of the Minnesota Science Fiction Society, better known as Minn-stf. He spent four years as a member of the National Fantasy Fan Federation or N3F, and his correspondents included Greg Shaw, Walter Breen, and Piers Anthony. He’s been a filk guest of honor at five cons.
  • Born August 11, 1959 Alan Rodgers. Author of Bone Music, a truly great take off the Robert Johnson myth. His “The Boy Who Came Back From the Dead” novelette won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction, and he was editor of Night Cry in the mid-Eighties. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 11, 1961 Susan M. Garrett. She was a well-known and much liked writer, editor and publisher in many fandoms, but especially the Forever Knight community. (She also was active in Doctor Who and The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne fandoms. And no, I had no idea that the latter had a fandom.) She is perhaps best known for being invited to write a Forever Knight tie-in novel, Intimations of Mortality. (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 11, 1962 Brian Azzarello, 61. Comic book writer. First known crime series 100 Bullets, published by Vertigo. Writer of DC’s relaunched Wonder Woman series several years back. One of the writers in the Before Watchmen limited series. Co-writer with Frank Miller of the sequel to The Dark Knight ReturnsThe Dark Knight III: The Master Race.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) GENERALIZATION ALERT. BookRiot’s Alice Nuttall asks, “Science Fiction Is Inherently Rebellious — So Why Don’t Some of Its Fans Think So?”

My husband and I are currently watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, me for the first time, him for about the billionth. After watching one episode where religious fundamentalists insist that the space station’s school teach their holy stories instead of scientific fact, and bomb the school when the teacher doesn’t agree, my husband leaned over to me and commented “But you know, Star Trek was never political.”

“[Sci fi story] was never political” is a running joke of ours, usually said with an eye roll and a bitter laugh at the complaint du jour about sci-fi stories that dare to centre anyone who isn’t a white, cishet man. Sci-fi has been decried as “political” for telling stories about people of colour or women (and predictably, some of the worst backlashes have come when a central character happens to be a woman of colour). Stories have been panned or banned for including LGBTQ+ people and relationships.

Writers who share the marginalisations of their characters are at the greatest risk of being harassed and attacked for daring to publish in a space that reactionary gatekeepers see as “theirs”. The ‘Sad Puppies’ campaign was a coordinated attempt by right-wing, “anti-diversity” pundits to influence the results of the Hugo Awards and push works by authors of colour, women, and LGBTQ+ people to the sidelines. Fortunately, it was unsuccessful — and not only because it was a clumsy, transparent attempt at attacking diversity. The fact is that sci-fi has never been a white, cishet, male, or conservative domain. It has always been a space for subversion, radical thinking, and rebelliousness — and marginalised people have been there from the beginning….

(13) PUMP BROTHERS, PUMP WITH CARE. This idea sucks, but does that mean it’s actually no good? “U.S. to Fund a $1.2 Billion Effort to Vacuum Greenhouse Gases From the Sky” reports the New York Times.

The Biden administration will spend $1.2 billion to help build the nation’s first two commercial-scale plants to vacuum carbon dioxide pollution from the atmosphere, a nascent technology that some scientists say could be a breakthrough in the fight against global warming, but that others fear is an extravagant boondoggle.

Jennifer Granholm, the energy secretary, announced Friday that her agency would fund two pilot projects that would deploy the disputed technology, known as direct air capture.

Occidental Petroleum will build one of the plants in Kleberg County, Texas, and Battelle, a nonprofit research organization, will build the other in Calcasieu Parish on the Louisiana coast. The federal government and the companies will equally split the cost of building the facilities.

“These projects are going to help us prove out the potential of these next-generation technologies so that we can add them to our climate crisis fighting arsenal, and one of those technologies includes direct air capture, which is essentially giant vacuums that can suck decades of old carbon pollution straight out of the sky,” Ms. Granholm said on a telephone call with reporters on Thursday.

The 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law included $3.5 billion to fund the construction of four commercial-scale direct air capture plants. Friday’s announcement covered the first two.

Oil and gas companies lobbied for the direct air capture money to be included in the law, arguing that the world could continue to burn fossil fuels if it had a way to clean up their planet-warming pollution….

(14) CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE CLUCKY KIND. What does that mean? You’ll understand after you see the video of this unidentified flying coop on Tumblr.

(15) MAN OF A THOUSAND FLAVORS. Here’s another exotic collectible, the Chaney Entertainment Hot Sauce 5-Pack from Jade City Foods.

Here’s a close-up of one of the labels.

(16) DUNE WHAT COMES NATURALLY. “’Futurama’ meets ‘Dune’ in action-packed, exclusive clip” at Mashable.

The beloved sci-fi comedy Futurama is no stranger to Frank Herbert’s Dune, featuring nods to stillsuits and space worms. But with its newly launched 11th seasonFuturama takes its Dune tributes to a whole new level.

In an exclusive clip from the upcoming episode “Parasites Regained” (a spiritual sequel to Season 3’s “Parasites Lost,” perhaps?), we see Fry, Leela, Zoidberg, and Bender struggling to brave a mysterious desert landscape. There, they encounter a fearsome sandworm that looks like an oranger, fuzzier version of the show-stealing sandworms of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune. We also get Futurama‘s version of the powerful spice melange, a psychedelic drug that turns Leela’s eyes orange instead of Dune‘s classic blue-within-blue….

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Kathy Sullivan, Nickpheas, Michael A. Burstein, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 7/24/2023 Because The Scroll Belongs To Pixels

(1) CHENGDU’S UNIQUE OFFER. The Chengdu Worldcon committee is offering financial and other assistance to at least some Hugo finalists so that they can attend the convention. File 770 has tried to learn who is being offered the help. The Chengdu committee has yet to respond. File 770 is aware of some individual pros and fans who have been contacted. Here is a screencap of the message provided by an uncredited recipient.

File 770 contacted a sampling of finalists to ask if they’d received the message. The following people commented for the record.

John Scalzi got the offer. “I did and I passed, in part because I am already counterscheduled.” 

Ursula Vernon also received the offer: “Whether it was for the Best Novelist or Best Novella, I couldn’t tell you, but I know at least one other person who’s gotten the offer. (I am unable to attend due to health, which takes any questions of whether or not to accept such off my plate.) …They offer visa help though, which, having visited China, is arguably worth more than all the accommodations! ‘Writer’ is not a profession that the people giving visas look kindly on—when I went to Tibet, I listed my occupation as ‘jewelry maker’.”

On the other hand, Olav Rokne, an editor at the fanzines Unofficial Hugo Book Club Blog and Journey Planet, said, “Neither Amanda nor I have received such an offer…. So far, nothing for either of the fanzine finalists that I was a part of.”

(2) PICKET DUTY. George R.R. Martin says this year’s strike is “the most important of my lifetime” in “Actors Join the Strike!” at Not A Blog.

…The SAG contract ended on June 30, but the actors gave AMPTP every chance to reach an equitable agreement by extending negotiations to July 12.  That proved to be a futile gesture.  The studios did not move an inch from their previous positions, and still refuse to address some of the most important issues on the table, including AI and payments and residuals from streaming.   They gave the actors no choice but to walk.

As for the writers… well, the studios are not even TALKING to us.   All negotiations between AMPTP and the WGA shut down back in May when the strike started.  It is hard to reach any agreement when  the other side won’t even come to the table.

I joined the WGA in 1986 and have been through several strikes with them.  We made gains in all of them, but some issues are more important than others… and this year’s strike is the most important of my lifetime.  An unnamed producer was quoted last week saying the AMPTP strategy was to stand fast until the writers started losing their homes and apartments, which gives you a hint of what we’re facing.

But we ARE facing it.  I have never seen such unity in the Guilds; the strike authorization votes for both SAG and WGA were as close to unanimous as we are ever likely to see….

Although Martin’s overall deal with HBO was suspended on June 1, he’s not idle.

…I still have plenty to do, of course.   In that, I am one of the lucky ones.   (These strikes are not really about name writers or producers or showrunners, most of whom are fine; we’re striking for the entry level writers, the story editors, the students hoping to break in, the actor who has four lines, the guy working his first staff job who dreams of creating his own show one day, as I did back in the 80s).

Last week we had a great meeting with the producers on THE IRON THRONE, the stage play we’ve been working on the past few years.  The scripts for that one are coming along well, and it’s got me very excited….

(3) MEDICAL UPDATE. Eisner-winning comics artist Colleen Doran told her Patreon supporters (in a public post) she has recovered after being in danger of losing sight in one eye.

…I’ve had other things on my mind. But we are amazed and delighted to win the Eisner Award for Neil Gaiman’s CHIVALRY.

…In even better news (something I really wasn’t talking about until I was sure how things would go,) I was blinded in the left eye in a freak accident which caused an extremely painful corneal ulcer. Still have no idea what happened. But what seemed to be a minor issue had me in the emergency room in a matter of hours. I was in imminent danger of permanently losing sight in the eye, or losing the eye entirely.

…. And I practiced my life as an artist with one eye. Just in case.

I can draw with one eye tied behind my back, and was showing work to my pro peeps to see if they could tell what was drawn with both eyes and what was drawn with one eye.

It’s super not pleasant though, and for awhile my eye was so sensitive to light that even light in my good eye hurt the bad one. I spent days sitting in the dark feeling pretty dark.

Yesterday was the first day I was able to get back to a full slot at the drawing board, as my sight has almost completely returned to normal.

Yesterday was a very good day…

(4) X. John Scalzi is “Preparing My X-it” after today’s rebranding of Twitter as X. He’s not really leaving, he says he will be posting much less frequently. Will he miss it? And what is he moving on to?

…But, one, having your career predicated on how many followers you have on a single site is fraught anyway, and two, this is the nature of social media, isn’t it? Think of all those bands who had hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers on MySpace and then that imploded. And then, three, not everything is about the sheer number of followers. I loved being on Twitter not because I had tens of thousands of people to market to, but because I was having fun. And today, I’m having fun in other places; at the moment I’m especially having fun on Bluesky. Bluesky is tiny and invite-only and at the moment absolutely fucking useless to market one’s self on, and I kinda love it and the conversations I’m having on it. So there’s that….

(5) DOWNLOAD TWO CHINESE FAN WRITERS’ HUGO PACKETS. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] Two of the Chinese Hugo finalists for Best Fan Writer have made their Hugo voter packet submissions publicly available.

  • Arthur Liu aka HeavenDuke aka 天爵 – PDF can be downloaded at this link in either Chinese or English.
  • Riverflow (河流) – PDF — riverflow-pack.pdf; contains both Chinese and English

Both of these include bilingual material that was previously published in Journey Planet and at Strange Horizons; the English language Arthur Liu packet also includes 3 machine-translated essays that hopefully we were able to bash into a moderately acceptable state in the few days we worked on them.  (And as the tweet says, all the errors that didn’t get caught – of which I’m sure there’ll be many – are on my head.)

(6) LA IN 2026. The LA in 2026 Worldcon bid had a table at Pemmi-Con. Thanks to Kevin Standlee for the photo of bid chair Joyce Lloyd.

Their old website has been replaced by “LA in 2026 – Adventure Awaits!” They’re taking presupports here.

Are you stuck in the daily grind, yearning for a taste of the extraordinary? Dreaming of vistas untouched, of stories untold? Welcome!

Join us and embark on a journey where the journey itself is the destination.

LA in 2026 – we don’t just explore places, we uncover stories. We’re not just explorers of mountains, oceans, or galaxies. We’re pioneers of imagination. We traverse magical kingdoms, navigate mythical seas, walk through enchanted forests, and soar with dragons. We don’t just chase the sun, moon, or stars – we unlock the secrets of the cosmos and dance with time.

They have not yet identified the city or venue they are bidding for, although the site selection vote will be held in Glasgow in a little over a year from now.

In addition to Joyce Lloyd, the website names these other members of the bid:

  • Bobbi Armbruster: Vice Chair, Chicon 7; over 40 years of Worldcon and convention experience
  • Sherri Benoun: Co-Chair, World Fantasy 2019; over 30 years of Worldcon and convention experience
  • Bert Boden: Over 20 years of Worldcon and convention experience
  • Steve Cooper: Co-Chair, Loncon 3, 2014; over 20 years of Worldcon and convention experience
  • Genny Dazzo: Over 30 years of Worldcon and convention experience
  • Bruce Farr: Co-Chair, World Fantasy 2019, 2001 and 1991; over 40 years of Worldcon and convention experience
  • Lea Farr: Co-Chair, World Fantasy 2001; over 40 years of Worldcon and convention experience
  • Sara Felix: Chair, ArmadilloCon 32, 2012; over 20 years of Worldcon and convention experience
  • Elizabeth Klein-Lebbink: Over 40 years of Worldcon and convention experience
  • Shaun Lyon: Co-Founder & Program Director, Gallifrey One (33 years); over 30 years of Worldcon and convention experience
  • Karin May: DH Staff Services, Chicon 8; over 5 years of Worldcon and convention experience
  • Christian B. McGuire: Chair, LA Con IV, 2006; Co-Founder & Chair (13 years), Gallifrey One; over 30 years of Worldcon and convention experience
  • Helen Montgomery: Chair, Chicon 8; Vice Chair, Chicon 7; over 20 years of Worldcon and convention experience
  • Elayne Pelz: Over 40 years of Worldcon and convention experience
  • Jerome Scott: Over 30 years of Worldcon and convention experience
  • Randy Shepherd: Chair, LoneStarCon 3, 2013; Vice Chair, LoneStarCon 2, 1997; over 20 years of Worldcon and convention experience
  • Ben Yalow: Co-Chair, Chengdu 2023: over 40 years of Worldcon and convention experience

(7) WHEN WIKIPEDIA WORKS RIGHT. Immediately after Michele Lundgren was charged as a Michigan fake Trump elector somebody tried to add that information to the first paragraph of her husband Carl Lundgren’s Wikipedia entry.

The attempt ran afoul of Wikipedia’s policy to avoid “Coatrack articles”.

Typically, the article has been edited to make a point about something else. The nominal subject is functioning as an overloaded coat-rack, obscured by too many “coats”… 

A coatrack article fails to give a truthful impression of the subject. In the extreme case, the nominal subject gets hidden behind the sheer volume of the bias subject(s). Thus the article, although superficially true, leaves the reader with a thoroughly incorrect understanding of the nominal subject….

Good call!

(8) MEMORY LANE.

“Beginnings”, written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer, is moving to a weekly schedule. One will appear in the Scroll each Wednesday.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 24, 1878 Lord Dunsany whose full name and title was a jaw dropping Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany. So ISFDB lists him as genre for the Jorkens body of work among works. H’h. Gary Turner, who some of you will recognize from Golden Gryphon Press and elsewhere, reviewed The Collected Jorkens: Volumes One, Two, and Three, for Green Man, so I’ve linked to the review here. They also list The King of Elfland’s Daughter which I’m going to link to another review on Green Man as it’s an audio recording with a very special guest appearance by Christopher Lee. (Died 1957.)
  • Born July 24, 1895 Robert Graves. Poet, historical novelist, critic. Author of, among other works, The White Goddess (a very strange book), two volumes called the Greek MythsSeven Days in New Crete which Pringle has on his Best Hundred Fantasy Novels list and more short fiction that bears thinking about. (Died 1985.)
  • Born July 24, 1916 John D. MacDonald. Primarily a mystery writer whose Travis McGee series I enjoyed immensely and which I re-read recently survived the Suck Fairy hovering over my shoulder the entire time despite the misogyny and somewhat regressive politics therein. He wrote a handful of genre works including the sublime The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything. ISFDB lists a collection, End of the Tiger and Other Short Stories, which I presume is genre. Presumably. (Died 1986.)
  • Born July 24, 1936 Mark Goddard, 87. Major Don West, the adversary of Dr. Zachary Smith, on Lost in Space. Other genre appearances were scant. He played an unnamed Detective in the early Eighties Strange Invaders and he showed up on an episode of The Next Step Beyond which investigated supposed hauntings as Larry Hollis in “Sins of Omission”. Oh, and he was an unnamed General in the Lost in Space film.
  • Born July 24, 1945 Gordon Eklund, 78. He won the Nebula for Best Novelette for “If the Stars Are Gods”, co-written with Gregory Benford. They expanded it into a novel which was quite good as my memory says. So would anyone care to tell the story of how he came to write the Lord Tedric series which was inspired by an E.E. Doc Smith novelette? If the Stars Are God is available at the usual suspect as well as Cosmic Fusion, which according to Amazon “was originally written between January 1973 and September 1982, a mammoth 300,000-word epic novel of ‘science fiction, sex, and death.’”
  • Born July 24, 1951 Lynda Carter, 72. Wonder Woman of course. But also Principal Powers, the headmistress of a school for superheroes in Sky High; Colonel Jessica Weaver in the vampire film Slayer;  Moira Sullivan, Chloe Sullivan’s Kryptonite-empowered mother in the “Prodigy” episode of Smallville; and President Olivia Marsdin in one version of Supergirl. 
  • Born July 24, 1964 Colleen Doran, 59.  Comics artist and writer. Work particularly worth noting includes Warren Ellis’ Orbiter graphic novel, Wonder WomanLegion of SuperheroesTeen Titans, “Troll Bridge” by Neil Gaiman and her space opera series, A Distant Soil. She also did portions of The Sandman, in the “Dream Country” and “A Game of You”. She’s tuckerised Into Sandman as the character Thessaly is based on Doran. Her work has received the Eisner, Harvey, Bram Stoker, and International Horror Guild Awards.
  • Born July 24, 1981 Summer Glau, 42. An impressive run of genre roles as she was River Tam in the Firefly franchise, followed by these performances: Tess Doerner in The 4400, Cameron in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Bennett Halverson in Dollhouse (is this worth seeing seeing?), Skylar Adams in Alphas and lastly Isabel Rochev who is The Ravager in Arrow. And she appears as herself on The Big Bang Theory in “The Terminator Decoupling” episode. Another series I’ve not seen. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

The Argyle Sweater remembers why one character was dropped from Star Wars.

MUTTS tells us how to calm the Hulk down.

(11) BIGGER THAN A BLOCKBUSTER. While Barbie blew up box offices all over this past weekend, Oppenheimer definitely did not bomb. “Box Office: ‘Barbie’ Opens to Record-Setting $155 Million, ‘Oppenheimer’ Shatters Expectations With $80 Million Debut” in Variety.

“Barbenheimer” is more than just a meme. It’s a full-fledged box office phenomenon.

Over the weekend, moviegoers turned out in force for Greta Gerwig’s neon-coated fantasy comedy “Barbie,” which smashed expectations with $155 million to land the biggest debut of the year. But they also showed up to see Christopher Nolan’s R-rated historical drama “Oppenheimer,” which collected a remarkable $80.5 million in its opening weekend.

Hundreds of thousands of ticket buyers refused to choose just one movie between the seemingly different blockbusters from auteur directors with sprawling casts and twin release dates. So they opted to attend same-day viewings of “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” turning the box office battle into a double feature for the ages….

(12) ENDER’S GAME. IRL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] “UK Defense Ministry: Russian children to be taught combat drone operation” reports Kyiv Independent.

…Russian children are to undergo training to learn how to operate combat drones, the U.K. Defense Ministry reported in its July 24 intelligence update.

British intelligence cites Artem Sheikin, a Russian senator, who announced that the curriculum will include lessons in terrain reconnaissance and countering Ukrainian drones.

The move highlights how Russia considers the use of drones “an enduring component of contemporary war.”

The training will be part of the “Basics of Life Safety” course. From Sept. 1, 2023, high school students will be taught how to operate an assault rifle, hand grenade skills and combat first aid, as well as the training on drones, as part of the syllabus.

“Russia’s renewed emphasis on military induction for children is largely an effort to cultivate a culture of militarized patriotism rather than develop genuine capability,” according to the report….

(13) IN HIS CUPS. Camestros Felapton analyzes a book’s recipe for success “Review: Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree”.

…The premise is simple. In a D&D-like world, a sword-wielding orc becomes tired of the life adventuring, treasure-finding, dungeon-crawling, monster-slaying shenanigans and decides to quit that life and instead open up a coffee shop. The main obstacle is in this world only the inventive gnome civilisation even knows what coffee is. It is a simple idea, one I’ve even heard called “obvious” (presumably because coffee shops feature in a subset of fan fiction) but as with copyright, the issue is never the obviousness of an idea but its actual execution. In this case, the idea is executed very well indeed….

(14) FUTURAMA. New York Times TV critic Margaret Lyons subheads this review: “I’m nostalgic, but I also want that nostalgia to be ridiculed.”

‘Futurama’

When to watch: Now, on Hulu

“Viewers must binge responsibly, the same way they smoke cigarettes or drink bleach,” quoth Philip J. Fry in this new revival of “Futurama.” Easy enough; Hulu is releasing episodes weekly, which contributes to the throwback vibe.

“Futurama” has been canceled and revived a few times since its initial run on Fox from 1999-2003. In some ways, its superior ability to spring back to life set an un-meetable standard for other shows: An animated series untethered to reality and about giant leaps forward in time has an advantage over live-action series with more specific expiration dates. If anything, the show’s taut sense of humor has become more mainstream, and now it is a contemporary with its descendants.

If you can’t have a good time watching “Futurama,” maybe you can’t have a good time….

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Dariensync, Ersatz Culture, 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 Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 6/27/23 All The World Seems Less Vile When We’re Reading The File

(1) AI AND CLICK FARMERS GAMING KINDLE UNLIMITED. AI-generated books are hitting the best-seller lists in the Kindle Unlimited store. Stacy King points out that one of the best-sellers in the War & Military Fiction category is “URGENT CHARACTER NAME: URGENT CHARACTER NAME” by Minh Duong. Thread starts here.

(2) BOSEMAN SELECTED FOR WALK OF FAME. GamesRadar+ reports “Chadwick Boseman to receive posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame” and names the other who will be honored in 2024.

Chadwick Boseman is set to receive a posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as part of their class of 2024. The actor died from colon cancer in August 2020 at the age of 43. He was diagnosed with the disease in 2016, but kept his illness private until his death. 

Best known for his starring role in Marvel’s Black Panther as King T’Challa of Wakanda and the titular superhero (and other appearances in the Avengers movies), Boseman also starred in films like Da 5 Bloods21 Bridges, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. He received a posthumous Oscar nomination for his performance in the latter, and he was also posthumously awarded the Emmy for Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance for his work in animated Marvel series What If…?

Boseman was selected to appear on the Walk of Fame in the motion picture category, with other groups including television, recording, live theatre/live performance, and radio. Honorees are chosen every year by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce out of hundreds of nominees. Other new additions to the movie category include Gal Gadot, Michelle Yeoh, Chris Pine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Christina Ricci, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, and Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri.

Those in the TV category include Ken Jeong, Eugene Levy, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Michael Schur, and Kerry Washington. The cohort’s other posthumous honoree is Otis Redding, in the live performance category. Redding died in a plane crash in 1967.

(3) SPIDER-MAN’S POWERFUL B.O. The Hollywood Reporter is taken by surprise as the new Spider-Man movie bounces back to the top of the charts: “Box Office: Spidey Beats ‘Elemental’, ‘The Flash’ Tanks”.

In a box office upset, Sony holdover Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse edged out Pixar’s Elemental to win the weekend all the way in its fourth outing. Rarely does a film reclaim the top spot like that amid fierce summer competition.

Spidey took in an estimated $19.3 million as it raced past the $300 million mark domestically to finish Sunday with a North American total of $317.1 million and an impressive $560.3 million worldwide.

Elemental took in an estimated $18.5 million upon falling only 39 percent in its second weekend, a strong hold after suffering the worst start in the modern history of Pixar. The film’s hold means it’s being helped by strong word of mouth….

… The news for DC and Warner Bros.’ big-budget superhero pic The Flash — which opened last weekend opposite Elemental to a sobering $55.1 million — grew worse as it fell off 72 percent to $15.3 million for a domestic cume of $87.6 million. Unlike ElementalThe Flash received poor exit scores. (The studio had hoped for a decline of 55 percent.) Insiders concede the film, starring Ezra Miller, is a huge miss and is being rejected by audiences on a wholesale basis….

(4) MAKING THE ROUNDS. Craig Miller comments on screenings of Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken and Elemental before reporting on a Propstore reception where some top-end costumes and art were displayed ahead of an auction. See the photos on his Facebook page.

…Herewith, photos of a few of the pieces. I think the gem of the auction is Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia’s Medal Ceremony dress from the end of “Star Wars”. Estimated to sell for, perhaps, $1,000,000. Also on display were an asteroid miniature from “The Empire Strikes Back”, Michael Keaton’s Batman costume from “Batman Returns” and Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face costume from “Batman Forever”, an original painting by Ralph McQuarrie done for the ILM crew shirt for “Star Wars”, a matte painting for the Death Star trench (interesting at least to me, I have hanging in the hall outside my office the matching photo – about 3’x3′ – of the Death Star trench miniature that was painted over and cut out to make this matte), Harrison Ford’s “Blade Runner” costume, Daniel Radcliff’s costume from “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”….

(5) MISSING FROM HISTORY. After Thomas Monteleone got expelled from the Horror Writers Association, and Mort Castle started a kerfuffle about being left out of an HWA Blog Q&A series, author Lionel Ray Green asked Brian Keene: “Feeling forgotten: Do older horror writers have a point?”

…In his June 21st podcast, Keene addressed the Castle and Monteleone controversies.

“I know there was a big kerfuffle with Mort Castle,” Keene said. “I did not see Mort’s comments, but people I trust have paraphrased them for me. I think we can have empathy for Mort. I don’t think it’s terrible of him to feel forgotten. I think his feelings are valid because Mort did some important things. I don’t know, maybe Mort should’ve read the room … maybe there was a better way of expressing it. 

“Tom’s comments were reprehensible. They were inexcusable. And I’m in no way defending him. But I do think Tom’s comments stem from a place of hurt, of feeling forgotten. There was a time when Tom Monteleone did a lot in this genre. He was one of the movers and shakers. In some of the much-deserved blowback to his comments, you saw a lot of ‘Who’s Tom Monteleone?’ which kind of proves the point. The guy was feeling forgotten.” 

Keene said he talked to Bram Stoker Award-nominated author Ronald Malfi about the issue during StokerCon 2023 earlier this month. 

“Ron Malfi and I had a heart-to-heart about this in the bar at StokerCon,” Keene said. “We feel it’s our generation’s responsibility to spotlight some of these people. I try to do that in my newsletter. Right now, I’m campaigning for Chet Williamson to get a Lifetime Achievement Award from the HWA. I think he deserves it.” 

Williamson received six Stoker Award nominations from 1987 to 1990, including two for his novels Ash Wednesday and Reign….

(6) FUTURAMA TRAILER. Paste Magazine sets the table: “Futurama Lives on Hulu, Entire Cast Returns in First Trailer”.

…Oh yeah, we’re definitely mining some nostalgia here. It certainly feels like this iteration of the show is attempting to go back and replicate nearly everything fans still love and reference about the original series, right down to bit players like the colony of worms that once invaded Fry’s colon after some bad truck stop egg salad. At least the voices of the characters sound more or less intact, mercifully avoiding the tiredness and unnatural delivery that has become an expected part of new Simpsons episodes for the last decade. We’re also not sure how to feel exactly about the series seemingly making a point of falling back on topical humor, with jokes clearly directed at the COVID-19 pandemic, cryptocurrency and even the popularity of Frank Herbert’s Dune following its big-screen adaptation. Hopefully, this version of Futurama can prove it still has some reason to exist, beyond brand recognition….

(7) TURNING IN THE WORK. “Rosamund Pike acts in ‘Wheel of Time’ and reads (and reads and reads) it, too” the Washington Post learned.

When told how long she’s been recording the audiobooks for the Wheel of Time, the fantasy series by Robert Jordan, Rosamund Pike sounded disconcerted.

“You mean so far, with the three I’ve done?” she asked. “It’s 80 hours?” (To be precise, between “The Eye of the World,” “The Great Hunt” and the most recent installment, “The Dragon Reborn,” which has just been released, it’s 87 hours and 23 minutes.) Pike was calling in from Prague, where she and her family moved a few years ago for the production of the television series adapted from Jordan’s books. She is a producer of the series and stars as the magical priestess Moiraine. Over video, what passed over her face, hearing that time estimate, could be called a grimace. “Well — that’s good.” Her eyebrow arched. “Yeah, that’s … nice.”

Pike’s account of how she got involved in this epic project has a “hero’s journey” ring to it: the call to adventure, the reluctant protagonist, then some intervention that encourages them to leave the world they knew. When Macmillan Audio initially approached her, she turned the job down. Though she’d recorded audiobooks before — including Jane Austen, a historical spy novel and a murder mystery — for most of her life she hadn’t been much of a fantasy fan: “I think I’d always been quite grounded in reality,” Pike told Stephen Colbert in 2021. “… I didn’t feel I needed to branch out into creatures and mythological beasts…”

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1986 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

And then there’s Gene Wolfe. What an amazing writer. I was surprised in doing this write-up to find that he had not won any Hugos, though he has won World Fantasy Awards both for his long and short form work, along with a BSFA, a BFA and Nebulas.

So what do I like by him? First and foremost is the exemplary The Book of the New Sun series. Now this is what fantasy should be. I’ve not read all of The Wizard Knight series but what I have read has been very enjoyable; and likewise the stand-alone novels Pirate Freedom and the fascinating travel affair The Land Across as I love imaginary European countries.

So our Beginning this Scroll is from Soldier of the Mist, the first novel of the Latro series. It was published by Gollancz in 1986. It picked up Nebula and World Fantasy Award nominations. 

And here’s our Beginning…

I write of what has just occurred. The healer came into this tent at dawn and asked whether I recalled him. When I said I did not, he explained. He gave me this scroll, with this stylus of the slingstone metal, which marks it as though it were wax. 

My name is Latro. I must not forget. The healer said I forget very quickly, and that is because of a wound I suffered in a battle. He named it as though it were a man, but I do not remember the name. He said I must learn to write down as much as I can, so I can read it when I have forgotten. Thus he has given me this scroll and this stylus of heavy slingstone metal. 

I wrote something for him in the dust first. He seemed pleased I could write, saying most soldiers cannot. He said also that my letters are well formed, though some are of shapes he does not know. I held the lamp, and he showed me his writing. It seemed very strange to me. He is of Riverland. 

He asked me my name, but I could not bring it to my lips. He asked if I remembered speaking to him yesterday, and I did not. He has spoken to me several times, he says, but I have always forgotten when he comes again. He said some other soldiers told him my name, “Latro,” and he asked if I could remember my home. I could. I told him of our house and the brook that laughs over colored stones. I described Mother and Father to him, just as I see them in my mind, but when he asked their names, I could tell him only “Mother” and “Father.” He said he thought these memories very old, perhaps from twenty years past or more. He asked who taught me to write, but I could not tell him. Then he gave me these things.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 27, 1909 Billy Curtis. You’ll best remember him as the Small Copper-Skinned Ambassador in Trek’s “Journey to Babel” episode. His genre experienced goes all the way back to Wizard of Oz where he was a Munchkin, and later on he’s a mole-man in Superman and The Mole-Men, and later on a little person in The Incredible Shrinking Man. He had lots of one-offs, be it on Batman (twice there), Bewitched, Gilligan’s IslandPlanet of The Apes or Twilght Zone. (Died 1988.)
  • Born June 27, 1941 James P. Hogan. A true anti-authoritarian hard SF writer in the years when that was a respectable thing to be. I’m sure that I’ve read at least Inherit the Stars and The Gentle Giants of Ganymede. Tell me about his short fiction please. A decent amount of his work is available on the usual suspects. (Died 2010.)
  • Born June 27, 1952 Mary Rosenblum. SF writer who won the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel for The Drylands, her first novel. She later won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History Short Form for her story, “Sacrifice.” Water Rites and Horizons are the only ones available at the usual suspects. (Died 2018.)
  • Born June 27, 1959 Stephen Dedman, 64. Australian author of The Art of Arrow-Cutting, a most excellent novel. I really should read Shadows Bite, the sequel to it.  He’s the story editor of Borderlands, the tri-annual Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror magazine published in Perth. Apple Books has nothing for him, Kindle has The Art of Arrow-Cutting and a few other titles. 
  • Born June 27, 1966 J. J. Abrams, 57. Let’s see… He directed and produced the rebooted Star TrekStar Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (he was a co-writer on the latter two), but I think I will single him out as the executive producer of the Fringe series, the Lost series, and Person of Interest
  • Born June 27, 1972 Christian Kane, 51. You’ll certainly recognize him as he’s been around genre video fiction for a while first playing Lindsey McDonald on Angel before become Jacob Stone on The Librarians. And though Leverage may or may not be genre, his role as Eliot Spencer there is definitely worth seeing. 
  • Born June 27, 1975 Tobey Maguire, 48. Spider-man in the Sam Raimi trilogy of the Spidey films. His first genre appearance was actually in The Revenge of the Red Baron which is one serious weird film. Much more interesting is his role as David in Pleasantville, a film I love dearly. He produced The 5th Wave, a recent alien invasion film.
  • Born June 27, 1987 Ed Westwick, 36. British actor who has roles in the dystopian Children of MenS. Darko (a film I couldn’t begin to summarize), Freaks of Nature (a popcorn film if ever there was one), the “Roadside Bouquets” episode of the British series Afterlife (which I want to see) and The Crash (which may or may not be SF).

(10) DIRECT ANSWERS. Hear from the renowned comic dealer in “ICv2 Video Interview: Bud Plant, Part 1”.

For his article on direct market pioneer Bud Plant (see “Bud Plant, a Pioneer“), Dan Gearino (author of The Comic Shop, see “New Edition of ‘Comic Shop’“) conducted a meaty video interview with Plant, which you can watch in three parts:

  • In Part 1 (see video below), Plant talks about the very early days of the comics business in the 1960s, and some of the first comic stores in California. 
  • In Part 2, he talks about meeting Phil Seuling, the beginnings of the direct market, and opening the first Comics & Comix store.
  • In Part 3, he talks about rapid growth in the 1980s, selling his wholesale business to Diamond, and the meaning of it all.

We are also making available full transcripts of the interview, in three parts corresponding to the three parts of the video interview.

ICv2 Interview Transcript: Bud Plant Part 1
ICv2 Interview Transcript: Bud Plant Part 2
ICv2 Interview Transcript: Bud Plant Part 3

(11) MOSCOW SUCKS. “’First trailer for timely Moscow-set sci-fi horror Empire V” at Deadline.

Victor Ginzburg’s timely sci-fi horror Empire V, which is described as a social parody of Russia being controlled by vampires, world premieres at Montreal’s Fantasia Fest this July.

Ahead of the debut, Deadline can reveal a first trailer for the film which has gained fresh resonance following the revolt in Russia over the weekend by Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner mercenary group.

Based on a 2006 satirical novel by Victor Pelevin, the film revolves around a 19-year-old Muscovite who is turned into a vampire, propelling him into an elite and powerful echelon of society that has controlled humanity since time immemorial.

… Sony had been due to release the film in Russia on more than 1,800 screens in the first quarter of 2022, but the government refused to release its distribution permit, effectively banning the film….

There is an “exclusive” trailer embedded in the Deadline article, which visually is probably 99% the same as this one released a year ago.

(12) THE WITCHER INFOGRAPHIC. The premiere of season 3 of the Geralt of Rivia adventures is coming this week. On this occasion, JustWatch thought you’d like to see how the miniseries and animated film performed compared to Netflix’s tentpole, starring Henry Cavill. 

Despite efforts, The Witcher: Blood Origin failed to captivate viewers, receiving -2.3% less popularity than the animated film The Witcher: Nightmare Of The Wolf. The movie also pales in comparison to Netflix’s flagship series The Witcher, that surpassed the combined popularity of the miniseries and film by a remarkable 8 times.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/26/23 Looks At Pages Filled With Men Of Space, Who From Earth Have Fled

(1) WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION. One of the three longlisted works of genre interest has survived to make the 2023 Women’s Prize shortlist which was announced today.

Pod by Laline Paull is that book:

Ea has always felt like an outsider. She suffers from a type of deafness that means she cannot master the spinning rituals that unite her pod of spinner dolphins. When tragedy strikes her family and Ea feels she is partly to blame, she decides to make the ultimate sacrifice and leave.

As Ea ventures into the vast, she discovers dangers everywhere, from lurking predators to strange objects floating in the water. But just as she is coming to terms with her solitude, a chance encounter with a group of arrogant bottlenoses will irrevocably alter the course of her life.

In her terrifying, propulsive novel, Laline Paull explores the true meaning of family, belonging, sacrifice – the harmony and tragedy of the pod – within an ocean that is no longer the sanctuary it once was, and which reflects a world all too recognisable to our own.

The complete shortlist follows:

The winner of the 2023 Women’s Prize for Fiction will be announced on June 14.

(2) UPDATE FOR TRAVELERS TO CHINA. “China Drops Covid P.C.R. Test Rule for Inbound Travelers” reports the New York Times, but “It was not clear, however, whether travelers would still be required to take antigen tests.”

China said on Tuesday that it would no longer require travelers entering the country to show a negative P.C.R. test for the coronavirus, another step toward reopening after a long period of pandemic-era isolation.

But it was not clear whether testing requirements would be abolished altogether. A spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry said only that, beginning on Saturday, people going to China “can” take an antigen test to “replace” the previously mandated P.C.R. test within 48 hours before boarding their flight.

Airlines will not check test results before boarding, the spokeswoman, Mao Ning, added at a regularly scheduled news briefing. She did not say whether others, such as immigration officials, would check.

Notices by Chinese embassies overseas said that travelers arriving in China would still need to fill out a health declaration form, and that customs officials would conduct unspecified spot checks.

For three years, China imposed the world’s strictest coronavirus restrictions, requiring lockdowns and regular mass testing in the name of “zero Covid.” Then the government abruptly abandoned those rules in December as the economy sagged, the virus spread widely and protests broke out across the country. Beijing has since declared that it is open to the world, and tried to woo foreign businesspeople and diplomats….

(3) BLACK MIRROR. The trailer for Black Mirror: Season 6 has dropped.

You’ve been wondering. You’ve been waiting. You’ve been warned. The sixth season of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror is BACK. The most unpredictable, unclassifiable and unexpected season yet is arriving in June on NETFLIX.

(4) MIXED BAG IN NINTH CIRCUIT RULING. “Apple Largely Prevails in Appeal of Epic Games’ App Store Suit” but they didn’t sweep the board says the New York Times. “A Ninth Circuit panel did agree with Epic that Apple was violating California law by barring app developers from directing customers to outside payment methods.”

A federal appeals court ruled on Monday that Apple does not have a monopoly in the mobile games market, siding with a lower court’s 2021 ruling that largely gave the tech giant a victory in a lawsuit brought by Epic Games.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled 2 to 1 that Apple’s tight control of its App Store did not violate federal antitrust law. Some app developers have said the multibillion-dollar business’s strict policies stifle competition and eat into their profits.

“There is a lively and important debate about the role played in our economy and democracy by online transaction platforms with market power,” the judges wrote in their 91-page decision, which largely maintained the status quo. “Our job as a federal Court of Appeals, however, is not to resolve that debate — nor could we even attempt to do so.”

While siding with Apple on a majority of Epic’s claims, the judges also agreed with the lower court that Apple was violating California’s Unfair Competition Law by prohibiting app developers from directing their customers to payment methods outside the App Store, which charges a 30 percent fee. Apple suggested that it could further appeal that ruling….

(5) KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. AND LEFTS. Moid Moidelhoff gets Cory Doctorow to explain what a “copy left troll” is in “The Big Interview” at Media Death Cult.

(6) E.T. ORIGINAL SCENE TO RETURN. “Steven Spielberg: ‘No film should be revised’ based on modern sensitivity”, quoted in the Guardian.

Steven Spielberg has criticised the idea that older films should be re-edited to appease modern sensibilities.

Speaking at Time’s 100 Summit in New York City, the 76-year-old film-maker expressed regret over taking out guns from a later release of his 1982 sci-fi blockbuster ET: The Extra Terrestrial. In the 20th anniversary edition, agents saw their firearms replaced with walkie-talkies.

“That was a mistake,” he said on stage. “I never should have done that. ET is a product of its era. No film should be revised based on the lenses we now are, either voluntarily, or being forced to peer through.”

In 2011, Spielberg had already explained that the guns would be returning for the 30th anniversary release, explaining that he was “disappointed” in himself….

(7) LIFE AS WE KNOW IT. You may be surprised to hear the reason why CBR.com thinks “Hulu’s Futurama Revival Is Too Important to Fail”.

Futurama fans are eagerly waiting for the Hulu revival because the show has become a sci-fi staple. The series’ engagement with the hypothetical nature of science fiction makes it stand out. There’s an explorative spirit that concentrates more on the “what-if” and “imagine that” aspects and is more interested in the realm of possibility than world-building or even keeping its own continuityFuturama‘s ability to carry the torch for old science fiction programs like The Twilight ZoneLost in Space and Star Trek: The Original Series makes the show critical to the genre’s survival.

Over multiple episodes — and multiple cancellations — Futurama acknowledged the gone-by era of sci-fi. The show became one of the last bastions of true speculative fiction by including “The Scary Door,” Futurama‘s answer to Rod Serling and his conjectural narration, as well as other homages. Moreover, the installments containing these parodies often utilized retrofuturistic motifs typical of the golden age of science fiction, keeping it alive for a new generation….

(8) BELAFONTE PROFILE. [Item by Steven French.] In the Guardian’s obituary for Harry Belafonte: “Bans, bigots and surreal sci-fi love triangles: Harry Belafonte’s staggering screen career”.

…But perhaps Belafonte’s strangest but most distinctive role came in the 1959 post-apocalyptic sci-fi fantasy The World, The Flesh and The Devil in which he is Burton, the mining engineer trapped miles below the surface of the earth after a calamitous cave-in. But he has escaped the effects of an atomic catastrophe and when he finally scrambles to the surface, Burton finds that he is apparently the only human left alive – except for one white woman and one white man, with whom he finally has a surreal but gripping contest for the woman’s affections.’…

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1984[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Lucius Shepard’s “The Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaule” is a remarkable work of fiction. It was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in their December 1984 issue.

Some twenty-five years ago, our writer created a fascinating world, a world separated from our own, as he said, “by the thinnest margin of possibility.” 

Spoilers are coming next. Really they are. Just skip the following paragraph. 

There, in the mythical Carbonales Valley, he found the setting for “The Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaule”, the classic account of an artist—Meric Cattanay—and his decades long effort to paint—and kill—a dormant, not quite dead dragon measuring 6,000 feet from end to end. The story was nominated for multiple awards and is now known as one of its author’s most outstanding works.

Now you can come back as we are now have the Beginning of this story…

Other than the Sichi Collection, Cattanay’s only surviving works are to be found in the Municipal Gallery at Regensburg, a group of eight oils-on-canvas, most notable among them being Woman with Oranges. These paintings constitute his portion of a student exhibition hung some weeks after he had left the city of his birth and traveled south to Teocinte, there to present his proposal to the city fathers; it is unlikely he ever learned of the disposition of his work, and even more unlikely that he was aware of the general critical indifference with which it was received. Perhaps the most interesting of the group to modern scholars, the most indicative as to Cattanay’s later preoccupations, is the Self-Portrait, painted at the age of twenty-eight, a year before his departure. 

The majority of the canvas is a richly varnished black in which the vague shapes of floorboards are presented, barely visible. Two irregular slashes of gold cross the blackness, and within these we can see a section of the artist’s thin features and the shoulder panel of his shirt. The perspective given is that we are looking down at the artist, perhaps through a tear in the roof, and that he is looking up at us, squinting into the light, his mouth distorted by a grimace born of intense concentration. On first viewing the painting, I was struck by the atmosphere of tension that radiated from it. It seemed I was spying upon a man imprisoned within a shadow having two golden bars, tormented by the possibilities of light beyond the walls. And though this may be the reaction of the art historian, not the less knowledgeable and therefore more trustworthy response of the gallery-goer, it also seemed that this imprisonment was self-imposed, that he could have easily escaped his confine; but that he had realized a feeling of stricture was an essential fuel to his ambition, and so had chained himself to this arduous and thoroughly unreasonable chore of perception…

—FROM MERIC CATTANAY: THE POLITICS OF CONCEPTION BY READE HOLLAND, PH.D.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 26, 1564 William Shakespeare. World’s greatest playwright and perhaps one of our earliest fantasy writers was born today. Possibly. Or just baptized today. Opinions differ. Siri says just April 1564. Smart girl, she is. What I do know is that the supernatural is a commonplace thing in his plays from ghosts to fairies. So which fantasy-tinged work by him do you like the best? I go for “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”. (Died 1616.)
  • Born April 26, 1912 A. E. van Vogt.  What I liked particularly was SlanThe Voyage of the Space Beagle and The Weapon Makers.  I am fascinated by the wiki page that claimed Damon Knight took a strong dislike to his writing whereas Philip K. Dick and Paul Di Filippo defended him strongly. What do y’all think of him? And is that claim true? And the Science Fiction Writers of America named him their 14th Grand Master in 1995. No Hugos (his best work was published before the award was created) and only one Retro Hugo at MidAmericaCon for Slan though he’s had myriad Retro Hugo nominations. He picked up a SFWA Grand Master Award (1995), and was inducted to the SF Hall of Fame (1996). (Died 2000.)
  • Born April 26, 1914 H. L. Gold. Best known for launching Galaxy Science Fiction in 1950, which was soon followed by its companion magazine, Beyond Fantasy Fiction which lasted but several years. He was not a prolific writer having published but two novels, None but Lucifer with L. Sprague de Camp and A Matter of Form, plus a generous number of short stories. None but Lucifer didn’t see printing in novel form until 2002. (Died 1996.)
  • Born April 26, 1943 Bill Warren. American film historian, critic, and one of the leading authorities on science fiction, horror, and fantasy films. He co-wrote the script for the murder mystery Fandom is a Way of Death set at the 42nd World Science Fiction Convention which was hosted by the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society which he and his wife Beverly were very much involved in. His 1968 short story “Death Is a Lonely Place” would be printed in the first issue of the magazine Worlds of Fantasy. During the Seventies, he also wrote scripts for Warren Publishing’s black-and-white comic books CreepyEerie, and Vampirella. His film reference guide Keep Watching the Skies! American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties would be revised and expanded several times. (Died 2016.)
  • Born April 26, 1948 Marta Randall, 75. First woman president of SFWA.  With Robert Silverberg, Randall edited two volumes of the New Dimensions series, the eleventh and twelfth volumesI’ve not read her novels but I do remember the New Dimensions series fondly. 
  • Born April 26, 1955 Brad W. Foster, 68. From 1987 to 1991 he was a regular contributing illustrator to the science fiction magazine Amazing Stories. In 2008 he began producing illustrations for the newsletter Ansible, creating a full color version for the on-line edition, and a different black-and-white version for the print edition. He won an amazing eight Hugo Awards for Best Fan Artist! 
  • Born April 26, 1978 Marie Bilodeau, 45. Canadian writer nominated for an amazing fifteen Aurora Awards. She’s won two, one with Derek Künsken as the 2019 co-chair of Can-Con, and another the next year with him for again hosting that Con. Who here has read her fiction?

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) TEAM EFFORT. Ryan Breadine offers “Collaboration Tips For Comic Writers” at the SFWA Blog.

… When presenting a script to your illustrator, you want to make sure you tell them any specifics on how your characters look. If your artist doesn’t have anything to work with, they may struggle to develop the designs.

You don’t have to draw to have image references! Go onto Pinterest and search for something simple like ‘girl with braids’ – you’ll get a lot of different results and can pick something close to what you’re thinking of.

References are also important if you’ve got an idea of how a certain scene should be laid out. While words are great, everyone has a completely different interpretation of them, so having a picture on the Word document next to the script’s scene can make a huge difference. Character expressions, designs, scene layouts, and color schemes all benefit hugely from a united vision, and as the writer, you can help that along. You can usually find something close to what you’re looking for online, but don’t be afraid to do a five-second sketch or take a photo of yourself in a pose! It might even earn you a laugh from the artist.

Chances it will still look a little different depending on your illustrator’s style, but that can be a great thing! References are important, but you also have to be open to the artist’s ideas. Welcome input; this is a collaboration with another person who likely has fantastic ideas and perspectives of their own….

(13) MARVEL’S WHAT IF? Marvel launches new line of What If? stories in July. For more information, visit Marvel.com.

  • WHAT IF LOKI WIELDED MJOLNIR?

In WHAT IF…? DARK: LOKI #1, Walter Simonson returns to the world of THOR alongside artist Scot Eaton…but this time, Loki’s in charge! A tale of one of Asgard’s worst days – and one of Loki’s best.

  •  WHAT IF GWEN STACY DIDN’T DIE ON THE BRIDGE THAT DAY, BUT SPIDER-MAN DID?

Spider-Legend Gerry Conway returns to his most famous Spider-Story for WHAT IF…? DARK: SPIDER-GWEN #1 along with co-writer Jody Houser and artist Ramon Bachs! ‘Nuff said!

  •  WHAT IF BEN GRIMM BECAME VENOM?

When Ben Grimm returns to Earth after his exploration of space post-SECRET WARS, he finds that the Fantastic Four has trapped a helpless Klyntar symbiote in Reed’s lab! But is that symbiote really helpless? Or is it truly one of the most dangerous symbiotes in the galaxy? Witness the birth of a brand-new VENOM in WHAT IF…? DARK: VENOM #1 by writer Stephanie Phillips and artist Jethro Morales!

  •  WHAT IF MOON KNIGHT DID NOT SURVIVE HIS BATTLE WITH BUSHMAN?

When Khonshu’s avatar is slain, a different god empowers their own surprising new champion. From the darkness, emerges a new force to light the way…Luminary! But will her quest for revenge against Moon Knight’s killer result in her own downfall? Find out in WHAT IF…? DARK: MOON KNIGHT #1  by writer Erica Schultz and artist Edgar Salazar!

 (14) TWO OPPOSABLE THUMBS UP. At Galactic Journey, Fiona Moore, Victoria Silverwolf, and Jason Sacks discuss the latest (in 1968!) milestone in sf cinema, 2001. Two of them give it five stars out of five, the other just three: “[April 26, 1968] 2001: A Space Odyssey: Three Views”. Fiona Moore starts off  —

People who don’t like trippy, confusing endings for their movies are in for a bad time of it these days. The ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey at least makes more sense than the ending of The Prisoner (the filming of which series overlapped with 2001 at Borehamwood Studios, meaning Alexis Kanner had to share his dressing room with a leopard). The question is, does this make it a better piece of SF visual art?…

And Jason Sacks starts his segment by telling how thrilled he is to see another sf movie with apes —

loved Planet of the Apes. Just two weeks ago in the pages of this very magazine, I praised the film’s restrained story, its tremendous special effects, its lovely cinematography and its spectacular use of music. Heck, I thought POTA was perhaps the finest science fiction movie in years. It’s a thrilling, delightful sci fi masterpiece.

But 2001, man, wow, it’s transcendent….

(15) “EVERYTHING CHANGES”. The Witcher Season 3 begins on June 29 on Netflix. From The Hollywood Reporter:

…Netflix also released this description of the season three, which is based on author Andrzej Sapkowski’s book series and game adaptations: “As monarchs, mages and beasts of the Continent compete to capture her, Geralt takes Ciri (Freya Allan) into hiding, determined to protect his newly-reunited family against those who threaten to destroy it. Entrusted with Ciri’s magical training, Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) leads them to the protected fortress of Aretuza, where they hope to uncover more about the girl’s untapped powers; instead, they discover they’ve landed in a battlefield of political corruption, dark magic, and treachery. They must fight back, put everything on the line — or risk losing each other forever.”…

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Steven French, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 10/1/22 Scroll Me Once, I Am The Pixel, Scroll Me Twice, I Am The File

(1) RED WOMBAT SIGNS SUNDAY AT CAPCLAVE. The Ursula Vernon autograph session specifically for kids at Capclave will be on Sunday, October 2 at 1:00 p.m. Capclave is at the Rockvillle Hilton, 1750 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD. Children who are coming just for the book signing session and their parent-in-tow get in free. www.capclave.org

(2) WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS? Erik Braa’s Storytime Braacast has one of Todd Mason’s short stories, “The Ghost Bar”, on this week. Todd tells where the idea came from:

The germ of the story got into my head in Chicago a few trips ago.  I’d moved away from Chicago in the spring of ’11. During one of my visits to house sit for a friend… probably in ’17 or ’18, I was making the rounds and was startled by the reappearance of a pub I used to frequent. The place was supposed to have been rebuilt with condos above it, the project stalled out, and it just sat empty for several years.

I went inside and got hit with some serious cognitive dissonance.  The place looked *mostly* the same. Except the bar seemed to be longer and the bathroom was not where it was supposed to be. Sort of the uncanny valley effect, but with a building.

Turns out the new bartender had a few people in common with me and I got the full story about the place eventually getting remodelled. But after I got over the whole “OK… I’m not imagining things am I,” the idea of a bar rising from the dead got into my head and… eventually this story popped out.

(3) WHERE ENOUGH NONSENSE ADDS UP TO A DOLLAR. This Folding Ideas video is about a publishing scam that operates by scamming people into doing a publishing scam. The publishing scam itself is using underpaid ghostwriters and voice actors to produce audiobooks about nonsense (trending topics smooshed together) cheaply, with all the accompanying review trading and so on to get the audiobook noticed. The scam is getting people to pay for “advice” on how to do the publishing scam! “Contrepreneurs: The Mikkelsen Twins”.

(4) HAPPY THIRTIETH! Mike Allen has posted a four part interview in which he reflects on 30 years as a writer, editor and publisher. The questions were asked by Mythic Delirium Assistant Editor Sydney Macias. In addition, authors Cassandra Khaw, C.S.E. Cooney and Carlos Hernandez used the AI Midjourney to create 20+ images based on the creatures and monsters from Allen’s short stories, and those are interspersed through the interview. The links to all four parts are here on Mike Allen’s Home Page.

… I think back on the version of me that existed in 1990, 91, 92, meandering toward the end of my days as an undergraduate, starting to get somewhat serious about submitting stories and poems to magazines, and the preconceptions I had then about how writing worked, how publishing worked, how readers chose what they want to read, and I can’t help but think that every single one of those preconceptions has proven wrong in some way.

That’s not so surprising. In those pre-household internet, pre-social media days, growing up in Appalachia, I didn’t meet anyone who shared my particular set of interests in significant numbers until late high school and college, and even then my specific set of eccentricities made me the square peg — though I note with tongue-in-cheek that I was more like a multi-pointed star of some sort, really, when it came to fitting in. Certainly I had no one to compare notes to when it came to getting published….

Inspired by the “button people” from “The Button Bin” and “The Quiltmaker”

Inspired by “The Spider Tapestries”

(5) GET ON THE CALENDAR. Cat Eldridge says, “Anyone who has Anniversary or Birthday ideas should just email me here. And anyone who thinks they should be written up is included in that list. We are certainly interested in including Filers among the Birthdays covered here.”

(6) ROCKET COLLECTOR. Editor Neil Clarke has a wonderful piece about Clarkesworld’s amazing run at the 2022 Hugo Awards ceremony: “Editor’s Desk: Sweet Sixteen”.

…There were two more firsts for Clarkesworld this year as well: This was the first time we’ve had two winners in a single year and the first time I’ve won in Editor, Short Form. The idea that this could happen wasn’t even a possibility in my head. Not that I didn’t have faith in Suzanne . . . After nine consecutive losses, I had convinced myself that it wasn’t in the cards for me and I was completely fine with that. It was probably the most relaxed I’ve ever been at a Hugo Awards ceremony. So much so that a friend and fellow finalist mocked me for being too laid-back.

So, it turns out I was wrong. Very wrong….

(7) VAMPIRE RULES. Do you know all of them? The blood you save may be your own. “Vampire weaknesses, powers, and rules: What are the best and the weirdest?” at SYFY Wire.

Vampires are perhaps the most iconic monsters lurking in the night. Luckily, with that level of fame, the average person has a pretty good idea of what to do if they ever find themselves facing off against a bloodsucker. A stake through the heart will kill them. Silver is bad, too. A crucifix is a good defense against a vampire except for when it isn’t. Sunlight will burn a vampire… unless it just makes them sparkle?

Wait a second…

Yes, it turns out that not all vampires in pop culture operate by the same rules. SYFY’s new series Reginald the Vampire, starring Spider-Man: Now Way Home’s Jacob Batalon, is the latest vampire title to grace the screen. Luckily, Reginald’s vampire rules are, for the most part, pretty standard. (Although Reginald’s vampires, except for the title character, are pretty snobby!)…

(8) HE’LL BE BACK. Shortly before rapper Coolio died, he was in the studio voicing a Futurama character. As a result, fans will be able to hear him when the show airs its next season: “Coolio Returning for New Season of ‘Futurama’ as Kwanzaa-bot” on TMZ.com.

“Futurama” fans will still be able to hear Coolio featured on their favorite show — the late rapper recorded segments for the animated series before his death — giving show creatives a chance to give Coolio, and his character, a proper send-off.

David X. Cohen, Executive Producer of “Futurama,” tells TMZ he was shocked to hear about Coolio’s passing, especially because he recorded lines for their upcoming season just weeks before.

For those unaware, Coolio’s appeared in a few episodes of the show in the past, playing Kwanzaa Bot — a counterpart to Chanukah Zombie and Santa Claus Robot. His first appearance was way back in 2001….

(9) DREW FORD R.I.P. Drew Ford, founder of It’s Alive Press, which he dedicated to bringing back out-of-print genre classics like Roachmill, Aztec AceFish Police, and the graphic novel version of The Silver Metal Lover, has died of COVID-related pneumonia. “Drew Ford, Founder of It’s Alive Press, Has Died From Coronavirus” reports Bleeding Cool.

(10) MEMORY LANE.  

1954 [By Cat Eldridge.] The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning. Then the soul erosion produced by high gambling – a compost of greed and fear and nervous tension – becomes unbearable and the senses awake and revolt from it. — Opening lines of Casino Royale

This was the month that sixty-eight years ago saw the first television adaptation of Fleming’s Casino Royale. An episode of the American Climax! anthology series, the show was the first screen adaptation of a James Bond novel. 

Purists beware that this wasn’t the Bond of Fleming’s novels, although this marks the first onscreen appearance of the secret agent. Actor Barry Nelson’s Bond is played as an American spy working for the Combined Intelligence Agency. 

It aired on October 21, 1954 in the first season of Climax!, the third episode of that still new series. Now keep in mind that the novel was adapted into a fifty-minute episode, but Fleming’s Bond novels were relatively short, this one clocked in at just over two hundred pages. It keeps damn every line of the violence in the novel but removes quite a bit of the nuances of that novel. 

It had a small cast of which the only others worth mentioning are Peter Lorre who played Le Chiffre, and Linda Christian as the first video depiction of a Bond girl. Curiously the CIA agent, Felix Leiter, became Clarence Leiter.

The original version done in color was lost but film historians found, with quite some difficulty, the black and white prints. The rights to the original were acquired by MGM at the same time as the rights for the 1967 film version, clearing the legal entanglements and allowing it to make the 2006 film of the same name. Several versions have since been shown.

A last note: almost to the last reviewer they agree that this was the Worst ever casting of a Bond ever. One said that he “trips over his lines and lacks the elegance needed for the role”. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 1, 1914 Donald Wollheim. Founding member of the Futurians, Wollheim organized what was later deemed the first American science fiction convention, when a group from New York met with a group from Philadelphia on October 22, 1936 in Philadelphia. As an editor, he published Le Guin’s first two novels as halves of Ace Doubles. His work at DAW got a special award from the folks at World Fantasy.  (Died 1990.)
  • Born October 1, 1935 Dame Julie Andrews, DBE, 87. Mary Poppins! I could stop there but I won’t. (Hee.) She had a scene cut in which she was a maid in The Return of the Pink Panther, and she’s uncredited as the singing voice of Ainsley Jarvis in The Pink Panther Strikes Again. Yet again she’s uncredited in a Panther film, this time as chairwoman in Trail of the Pink Panther. She voices Queen Lillian in Sherk 2Shrek the Third and Shrek Forever After. And she’s the voice of Karathen in Aquaman.
  • Born October 1, 1940 Richard Harris. One of the Dumbledores in the Potter film franchise. He also played King Arthur in Camelot, Richard the Lion Hearted in Robin and Marian, Gulliver in Gulliver’s Travels, James Parker in Tarzan, the Ape Man and he voiced Opal in Kaena: The Prophecy. His acting in Tarzan, the Ape Man him a nominee for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor. Anyone seen that film? I’ve not. (Died 2002.)
  • Born October 1, 1943 Sharon Jarvis. Did I ever tell you that aliases give me a mild headache? Well, they do. She did a splendid trilogy of somewhat erotic planetary adventures called These Lawless Worlds that Ellen Kozak co-wrote. She wrote two more series, charitably called pulp, one as Johanna Hailey and another as Kathleen Buckley. Now more interestingly to me, she was an editor in the early day, seventies and eighties. I’m going to quote at length from her website: “Sharon Jarvis has worked in the print media for more than twenty-five years for newspaper, magazine and in publishing companies. She has built a reputation for her market-wise expertise in the cutthroat world of publishing. Ms. Jarvis has been a sought-after editor from her days at Ballantine where she helped promote the billion-dollar science fiction boom. At Doubleday she was the acquisitions editor and worked with some of the biggest names in science fiction, including Isaac Asimov, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Harlan Ellison. At Playboy Press, Ms. Jarvis developed, instituted and promoted the science fiction line which helped sustain the publisher through many a setback in other general lines.”
  • Born October 1, 1944 Rick Katze, 78. A Boston fan and member of NESFA and MCFI. He’s chaired three Boskones, and worked many Worldcons. Quoting Fancyclopedia 3: “A lawyer professionally, he was counsel to the Connie Bailout Committee and negotiated the purchase of Connie’s unpaid non-fannish debt at about sixty cents on the dollar.” He’s an active editor for the NESFA Press, including the six-volume most stellar Best of Poul Anderson series.
  • Born October 1, 1947 Tom Clancy. ISFDB only lists Red Storm Rising as a true genre novel.  I’ve not read anything so I’ve not a clue if it is or is not genre, but EOFSF says of that novel that it “is a standalone Technothriller that can now be read as Alternate History.” Of the rest of his series, they say that “None of these sequences edges close enough to genuine speculation to list here.” (Died 2013.)
  • Born October 1, 1958 Michelle Bauer, 64. Actress, model, and scream queen. Really she is. Setting aside a lot of films that OGH prefer I not talk about (though she had a double for the sex scenes), she did star such films The Tomb, a supernatural horror film which had John Carradine in it. It was very loosely based on Bram Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars
  • Born October 1, 1989 Brie Larson, 33. Captain Marvel in the Marvel film universe. She’s also been in Kong: Skull Island as Mason Weaver, and plays Kit in the Unicorn Store which she also directed and produced. Her first genre role was Rachael in the “Into the Fire” of Touched by an Angel series; she also appeared as Krista Eisenburg in the “Slam” episode of Ghost Whisperer. She’s in The Marvels, scheduled tentatively to be out next year.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld on the bank robbers negotiating their book deal, in the Guardian.

(13) MAUS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behinds a paywall, books columnist Nilanjana Roy discusses Art Spiegelman’s Maus.

I remember my first encounter with Maus back in 1993.  I was encouraged to buy the two books by Mirza Asad Baig, founder of the Midland Book Shop in Delhi. ‘Don’t listen to literary snobs who won’t read comic books,’ he said. ‘Trust me, this author has written a tremendous tale.  If you disagree, you can exchange it.’  I never did…

…I hope critics of Maus take to heart what Spiegelman said in 1987 when discussing his sometimes exasperating father.  The author did not want to have written a book whose ultimate moral might have been that if you lead a virtuous, exemplary life, you would survive something like the Holocaust.  ‘That’s not the point,’ he said.  The point is that everyone should have survived the Holocaust.  There should never have been a Holocaust.’…

(14) OPEN THE DOORS. This trailer for Guillermo del Toro’s new project dropped: Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Alasdair Beckett-King dissects “Every Episode of Popular Time Travel Show”. This is from 2021.

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

Pixel Scroll 8/30/22 Set Out Filing But I Take My Time, A Friend Of The Pixel Is A Scroll Of Mine

(1) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to join writer David Ebenbach for cheesecake in D.C. on Episode 179 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

David Ebenbach

David’s the author of eight books of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, the most recent being his novel How to Mars, published last year by Tachyon Press, and the short story collection The Guy We Didn’t Invite to the Orgy and Other Stories, published in 2017 by the University of Massachusetts Press. His short stories have appeared in such genre markets as Asimov’sAnalog, and Not One of Us, but he’s also been published in such literary markets as the Kenyon ReviewIowa Review, and New England Review.

His writing has won him the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, the Juniper Prize, the Patricia Bibby Award, and other awards. He works at Georgetown University, teaching creative writing and literature at the Center for Jewish Civilization and creativity through the Masters in Learning, Design, and Technology Program, and promoting inclusive, student-centered teaching at the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship.

We discussed the way he started writing science fiction without realizing he was writing science fiction, the final line of the worst thing he’s ever written, how his first scribbling as a kid was a violent spy novel about The Smurfs, why it’s important to root for an author and not merely our own reading experience, the cliches some in the literary and science fiction worlds believe about each other, the newspaper article which sparked his novel How to Mars, the way he’s managed to carve himself out a bifurcated writing life, the philosophical differences between those writing novels and short stories, and much more.

(2) KEEPING THE LAW GREEN. “Tatiana Maslany on ‘She-Hulk’, Joining Marvel, and LGBTQ Advocacy” in an ELLE interview.

… When she was announced as the next Marvel superhero, her cult following—which refers to themselves as the Clone Club—rejoiced. Maslany shielded both her pleasure and her apprehension well.

“I had always been wary of entering this universe or doing anything of this scale,” Maslany admits when we meet for the first time over Zoom. “There’s a part of me that always feels a bit more comfortable in a smaller piece. Just something that I can guarantee will be focused on character, guarantee will be collaborative.”

Her She-Hulk audition arrived “at this very raw, very interesting time for her,” says her best friend and Arrow actor Ben Lewis, who’s known her since they met in the early aughts on the set of the misguided Rob Lowe-led film Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming. (Lewis is reluctant to even name the film, but acknowledges Google maintains its existence.) When, during the height of the pandemic, Maslany told Lewis she planned to audition for She-Hulk, the idea of the 5’3” Maslany in a cape and tights—perhaps worse, as a derivative of the Incredible Hulk—seemed “incongruous” at best, Lewis says….

(3) COULD LIGHTNING STRIKE TWICE? Savannah Walsh’s Vanity Fair article recaps the teen dystopia’s rise and fall: “Nobody Ever Found the Next ‘Hunger Games’—But Boy, Did They Try”.

… “For years everyone tried to have the next Harry Potter and no one managed to do so, but that didn’t stop companies from trying,” Craig Dehmel, then head of international distribution for Fox, told TheWrap in 2015. “And in a sense, the Twilight and Hunger Games franchises were both born out of that pursuit.” 

The first film both rode and inspired a wave of similar films as studios began clamoring to find the next Y.A. juggernaut. In 2013 and 2014, there were no less than eight teen-centered sci-fi/fantasy films based on best-selling books crammed into theaters: Ender’s Game, The Maze Runner, The Giver, The Host, Beautiful Creatures, Percy Jackson Sea of Monsters, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, and Divergent

These films all adhered to a similar formula: promising up-and-coming actors (Saoirse Ronan, Logan Lerman, Lily Collins) played heroic and/or divinely gifted teenagers with the power to stop a tyrannical leader and/or oppressive government structure. Some were set in the future, others in an alternate universe. Most lured in veteran stars for scenery-chewing supporting roles (Kate Winslet, Jeff Bridges, Viola Davis) or hedged in a watered-down love triangle. And all were angling for a piece of the Hunger Games pie….

(4) HOUSE OF THE DRAGON VIEWERSHIP GROWS. Lost Remote reports “House of the Dragon Continues to Light HBO Ratings on Fire”.

…On Sunday, Episode 2 of the Game of Thrones spinoff was up 2% from its debut, earning 10.2 million viewers domestically across HBO Max and linear telecasts, based on a combination of Nielsen and first-party data. HBO previously noted that Sunday night viewership for a series typically represents just 20-40% of the show’s total gross audience.

House of the Dragon’s debut on Aug. 21 was the largest in HBO history, reaching nearly 10 million viewers. That episode is now approaching 25 million viewers in the U.S., according to the company….

(5) TOUGH QUIZ. Book Riot challenges fans: “Can You Guess the Sci-Fi Book By Its Pixelated Cover?” I got zero, so bleep them! (Many are not what I think is the iconic cover for a particular title, but one was, and I still didn’t get it.)

So, you consider yourself a sci-fi expert. You’ve read the classics and keep up with new releases. Well, then I’m sure you know all of these titles. They’re a mix of the most well-known and enduring stories in the genre and some very popular new releases. There’s nothing here that a sci-fi fan hasn’t heard of — in fact, you’ve likely read many of them. The trick is: can you name the title and author based on a pixelated version of the cover? After all, it’s when you have to test yourself that every book title leaves your mind.

(6) THE FORCE IS DOOP WITH THIS ONE. “Futurama’s Silliest Character Highlights a Constant Flaw in Sci-Fi” according to CBR.com.

… Any time the stakes get high enough on Futurama, it’s not uncommon to see the show’s perpetual blowhard, Zapp Brannigan, enter the fray. An oafish commanding officer within the intergalactic peacekeeping force known as DOOP, Brannigan frequently gets his men slaughtered in a series of heartless decisions and strategies. When things get particularly dire, it’s not uncommon to see Brannigan arrive in the Nimbus — a truly massive spaceship that serves as the flagship for DOOP forces. But despite the inherent power of the ship, it’s frequently being shown as completely useless in combat missions….

Across multiple stories, films and shows, it’s often shown that truly massive spaceships like the Nimbus just aren’t all that useful. They lack maneuverability, making for easy targets. The Star Wars series in particular is full of these, with the Moon-sized Death Star being destroyed with a single well-placed shot, while a massive flagship Star Destroyer is brought down when a single A-Wing crashes into the bridge in Return of the Jedi. Shows like Battlestar Galactica focused on the massive populations and crews necessary to keep those ships floating — and highlighted how quickly supplies can quickly run out…. 

(7) MEMORY LANE.  

1891 [By Cat Eldridge.] Excerpt from J.M. Barrie’s Sherlock Holmes : My Evening with Sherlock Holmes pastiche:

I am the sort of man whose amusement is to do everything better than any other body. Hence my evening with Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes is the private detective whose adventures Mr. Conan Doyle is now editing in the Strand magazine. To my annoyance (for I hate to hear anyone praised except myself) Holmes’s cleverness in, for instance, knowing by glancing at you what you had for dinner last Thursday, has delighted press and public, and so I felt it was time to take him down a peg. I therefore introduced myself to Mr. Conan Doyle and persuaded him to ask me to his house to meet Sherlock Holmes.

For poor Mr. Holmes it proved to be an eventful evening. I had determined to overthrow him with his own weapons, and accordingly when he began, with well-affected carefulness, “I perceive, Mr. Anon, from the condition of your cigar-cutter, that you are not fond of music,” I replied blandly, “Yes, that is obvious.

J.M. Barrie was a close personal friend of Arthur Conan Doyle, a fellow Scots. That was because Conan Doyle had worked on a new magazine called The Idler, which allowed him to meet other writers including James Barrie, the actual name of of J.M Barrie.

J. M. Barrie would write three pastiches about Sherlock Holmes : My Evening with Sherlock Holmes (1891), The Adventure of the Two Collaborators (1893) and The Late Sherlock Holmes (1893) where Dr. Watson is accused of the murder of Sherlock Holmes before being proven innocent when Holmes is found alive.

Otto Penzler, the expert on these matters, states that it is the earliest Holmes parody ever done.

So let’s look at the very first pastiche about Sherlock Holmes : My Evening with Sherlock Holmes. It was originally written anonymously by J. M. Barrie and published in The Speaker magazine on November 28, 1891, which was four months after the publication of the first Sherlock Holmes “A Scandal in Bohemia” story.

It’s an odd bit of writing as it’s narrated by Anon who’s determined to beat Holmes at his own game. 

SPOILERS BE HERE!

The narrator, Mr. Anon, convinces Conan Doyle to introduce him to Sherlock Holmes. The narrator then proceeds to beat Holmes at his own game, deducing his recent movements and his plans for the rest of the evening. 

He taunts Holmes like this, “Fool, fool! I have kept you in luxury for years. By my help you have ridden extensively in cabs where no author was ever seen before. Henceforth you will ride in buses!”

Angrily annoyed, Holmes leaves abruptly.

END SPOILERS

Barrie would write two more of these, The Adventure of the Two Collaborators and The Late Sherlock Holmes which Doyle really liked. They are available at the usual suspects though finding them takes a bit of Holmesian hunting. 

They’re available in various collections, so you’ll just need to decide which one you want to download. Some are free, some are Meredith moments, and some are actually professionally produced therefore cost quite a bit. The latter actually are edited properly. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 30, 1797 Mary Shelley. Author of the Gothic novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus which I’ll admit that I’ve not read. Who here has read it? It certainly has spawned a multiverse of novels and films since it came, some quite good, some quite bad.  (Died 1851.)
  • Born August 30, 1942 Judith Moffett, 80. Editor and academic. She won the first Theodore Sturgeon Award with her story “Surviving” and the fame gained for her Pennterra novel helped her win John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer at Nolacon II. Asimov wrote an introduction for the book and published it under his Isaac Asimov Presents series.  Her Holy Ground series of The Ragged World: A Novel of the Hefn on EarthTime, Like an Ever-Rolling Stream: A Sequel to the Ragged World and The Bird Shaman are her other genre novels. The Bear’s Babys And Other Stories collects her genre short stories. All of her works are surprisingly available at the usual digital suspects.
  • Born August 30, 1943 Robert Crumb, 79. He’s here because ISFDB lists him as the illustrator of The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick which is likely they say an interview that Dick did with Gregg Rickman and published in Rickman’s The Last Testament. They’re also listing the cover art for Edward Abby’s The Monkey Wrench Gang as genre but that’s a very generous definition of genre.
  • Born August 30, 1955 Jeannette Holloman. She was one of the founding members of the Greater Columbia Costumers Guild and she was a participant at masquerades at Worldcon, CostumeCon, and other conventions. Her costumes were featured in The Costume Makers Art and Threads magazine. (Died 2019.)
  • Born August 30, 1955 — Mark Kelly. He maintains the indispensable Science Fiction Awards Database, which we consult almost daily. He wrote reviews for Locus in the Nineties, then founded the Locus Online website in 1997 and ran it single-handedly for 20 years, along the way winning the Best Website Hugo (2002). (OGH)
  • Born August 30, 1965 Laeta Kalogridis, 57. She was an executive producer of the short-lived not-so-great Birds of Prey series and she co-wrote the screenplays for Terminator Genisys and Alita: Battle Angel. She recently was the creator and executive producer of Altered Carbon. She also has a screenwriting credit for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, a film the fanboys hate but which I really like. 
  • Born August 30, 1972 Cameron Diaz, 50. She first shows as Tina Carlyle in The Mask, an amazing film. (The sequel is bloody awful.) She voices Princess Fiona in the Shrek franchise. While dating Tom Cruise, she’s cast as an uncredited Bus passenger in Minority Report. Oh, and she’s Lenore Case in the Green Hornet.
  • Born August 30, 1980 Angel Coulby, 42. She is best remembered for her recurring role as Gwen (Guinevere) in the BBC’s Merlin. She also shows up in Doctor Who as Katherine in the “The Girl in the Fireplace”, a Tenth Doctor story. She also voices Tanusha ‘Kayo’ Kyrano in the revived animated Thunderbirds Are Go series.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lio is present when something goes viral.

(10) PHONE HACKER. “Artist Turns Old Payphone Into Fantastical Sci-Fi Art Display: ‘It’s Generated A Lot Of Interest’”Block Club Chicago has the story.

…The art display is named for its coordinates: 42.004587, -87.690123. It features an inscription with a cryptic quote attributed to St. Luna, another alias of the artist, saying, “Some day the words of an old, beloved song will go, “Parlin’s space is vast and so is time … .’”

The payphone is across the street from Warren Park, a few blocks from Luna Rail’s West Ridge home. One day, the artist took note of the payphone infrastructure that had been left to decay.

Luna Rail figured there could be a better use for it and conceived of the installation. The piece was installed in June.

“There’s so few of these left,” Luna Rail said. “I looked at it [and thought], ‘It’s perfect.’”

Luna Rail visits the display most days. He comes by at night to turn on lights connected to the installation. During the day, he fixes issues caused by weather or vandalism….

(11) DEATH FROM ABOVE. “The Giant Meteor Trope In Science Fiction, Explained” by GameRant.

… There is perhaps no simpler trope in science fiction. The giant meteor is what it says on the tin. A piece of a comet or an asteroid that once orbited the sun breaks and gets caught up in Earth’s gravity. As it enters the atmosphere, it reaches terminal velocity. When it hits the surface, it does so with cataclysmic force. The first recorded meteor strike witnessed by a person was in 1064, near Changzhou, China. Shen Kuo reported the sights, the sound, and his findings in the resulting crater. There are a few cases of meteorites landing in Europe in the 1400s to be studied by scientists. In 1980, a team of award-winning scientists concluded that the age of the dinosaurs ended in an impact event. Those elements, along with mankind’s general fear of the endless unknown that makes up outer space led to a tradition of tales about things falling from the sky…

(12) CAT GOT THEIR TONGUE? [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The New York Times investigates whether AI tools can help SJWs figure out what their cat wants. “Did My Cat Just Hit On Me? An Adventure in Pet Translation”.

… MeowTalk, whose founders enlisted Dr. Ntalampiras after the study appeared, expands on this research, using algorithms to identify cat vocalizations made in a variety of contexts.

The app detects and analyzes cat utterances in real-time, assigning each one a broadly defined “intent,” such as happy, resting, hunting or “mating call.” It then displays a conversational, plain English “translation” of whatever intent it detects, such as Momo’s beleaguered “Let me rest.” (Oddly, none of these translations appear to include “I will chew off your leg if you do not feed me this instant.”)

MeowTalk uses the sounds it collects to refine its algorithms and improve its performance, the founders said, and pet owners can provide in-the-moment feedback if the app gets it wrong.

In 2021, MeowTalk researchers reported that the software could distinguish among nine intents with 90 percent accuracy overall. But the app was better at identifying some than others, not infrequently confusing “happy” and “pain,” according to the results….

(13) YESTERDAY’S TOMORROW. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Kate Bellingham explains in 1994 how “something called the Internet” can let you watch movies and buy things and even write to politicians because she wrote President Clinton and got a response but British Prime Minister John Major didn’t have a modem. “1994: Are YOU Ready for the INTERNET?” from BBC’s Tomorrow’s World.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Xenoblade Chronicles 3,” Fandom Games, in a spoiler-filled episode, says that this game may be “the most Japanese thing” since the dude who sings “Pen Pineapple Apple Pen,” since you cosplay a character who spends a third of the time playing the flute for dead people, there’s a fat kid who dies, and a required friendship robot.  “No one likes a game about the power of friendship more than a drudge who hasn’t seen an actual human being in weeks,” says the narrator.

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

Pixel Scroll 3/4/22 24 Views Of Mt. Tsundoku By Hokufile

(1) WHO IS NUMBER ONE. The “Surprise! Four Secret Novels by Brandon Sanderson” Kickstarter was almost at $22 million when I looked earlier today. It’s now the Most Funded Kickstarter in history.

Yesterday the New York Times talked to Sanderson about his success in “Fantasy Author Raises $15.4 Million in 24 Hours to Self-Publish”.

…“If Amazon’s grip on the industry is weakened, that’s good for the publishers — they are very much under Amazon’s thumb right now,” Sanderson said. “I don’t want to present this as ‘Brandon versus Amazon.’ Amazon’s great. But I think that in the long run, Amazon being a monopoly is actually bad for Amazon. If they don’t have competition, they will stop innovating.”

He also wanted to play around with bundling and upselling. Traditional publishers, he said, offer few products and few options. The array of packages on Kickstarter range from $40 for four e-books to $500 for the four books in all formats, plus eight boxes of “swag.”

“What I can do with the Kickstarter,” he said, “is I can say, ‘hey, if you really want to have more, we will give you more.’”

(2) FIRESIDE WILL STOP PUBLISHING IN 2022. Brian J. White, Executive Editor and Owner of Fireside, announced yesterday that the magazine will stop publishing later this year.

… When I stepped back in as owner last year, I had big hopes of taking Fireside forward for years to come. But unfortunately life had other ideas, between major increases last fall to my responsibilities at my day job and a series of difficult life events that have made it impossible for me to continue Fireside while maintaining any semblance of mental and physical health. Compounding that, even though we made progress in adding subscribers, Fireside is still losing a lot of money each month, and the circumstances described above also got in the way of implementing additional plans to bring in more funds.

This was a really difficult decision to make, but between the time and financial considerations, I can’t find a path forward. Fireside has an incredible legacy, and I don’t want that to be marred by a slow, struggling death. The best thing for the magazine is to allow it to close with grace and dignity once we’ve published all the stories and poems we currently have under contract, as well as two books that have been in the works for a long time….

…While Fireside Magazine will no longer be accepting submissions, we have enough content under contract to continue publishing into September, both through our usual ebooks and weekly stories released online. Everything we’ve published in the magazine will remain available online….

(3) LETTER FROM UKRAINE. Charles Stross posted an open letter from his Ukranian translator: “A letter from Ukrainian artists to the world artists”.

… We believe that not all Russian citizens are fans of Putin’s regime and not all of them justify this war. We know that plenty of Russians feel scared to use their voices and speak up against Putin’s regime. Many believe it is none of their business. Yet, there are also many who believe in the righteousness of Putin and his propaganda.

So, we plead with you — writers and visual content creators that have big audiences of readers and followers in Russia. To them, your opinion and your words matter. Your stand on the war in Ukraine matters. Please, stand by us as we fight for our values, our democracy, and our freedom. For the simple right to be Ukrainians and live in Ukraine. Your powerful voices can influence these Russian readers and followers. To encourage them to be brave, connect with their values, and take a stand on ending this ruthless war.

Please, take to your platforms and address your Russian and Ukrainian audiences. The first ones need your encouragement to believe in the power of their voices against Putin’s regime. The second ones are in desperate need of support and kindness….

(4) MEANWHILE, IN MOSCOW. Repression is ramping up in Moscow – and every other Idaho town. Boise State Public Radio reports “Idaho librarians could face jail time for lending “harmful” books”.

…House lawmakers could soon consider whether prosecutors could criminally charge librarians for allowing minors to check out sexually explicit materials.

Giving explicit material to kids has been a crime in Idaho since at least 1972, but public libraries, including those at colleges and universities, are exempted from that law.

Rep. Gayann DeMordaunt (R-Eagle) wants to cut that exemption, meaning librarians could face up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine any time they lend explicit materials to someone under 18….

(5) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman encourages listeners to eat enchiladas with Bram Stoker Award-winning writer Paul Tremblay in episode 166 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Paul Tremblay

Paul Tremblay is the author of the award-winning novels novels A Head Full of Ghosts (2015), which won the Bram Stoker Award and the Massachusetts Book Award, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock (2016), which won the British Fantasy Award, and The Cabin at the End of the World (2018), which won the Bram Stoker Award and Locus Award. His most recent novel is Survivor Song, published in 2020, with The Pallbearer’s Club due out later this year. He’s also the author of the novels The Little SleepNo Sleep till WonderlandSwallowing a Donkey’s Eye, and writing as P. T,. Jones along with Stephen Graham Jones, Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn’t Fly. His short story collection Growing Things and Other Stories was published in 2019. He is the co-editor of four anthologies including Creatures: Thirty Years of Monster Stories (with John Langan), and is on the board of directors and is one of the jurors for the Shirley Jackson Awards.

We discussed his legendary hatred of pickles, what it was like writing a pandemic novel before a pandemic only to see it published in the middle of one, if reviewers would have reacted differently to his zombies had Survivor Song been published any other year, his feelings about the description of him as a postmodernist, our shared love of ambiguity in fiction, whether horror having a moment means horror will also have an end, the one passage in his most recent novel which caused an argument with his editor, what’s up with the movie adaptations of his books, and much more.

(6) THE CALCULATION IS IN. Mary Robinette Kowal’s gala commemorating the 70th Anniversary of The Meteor (the event which precipitates The Calculating Stars) did more than $8,000 in gross sales as part of her effort to support HIAS in Ukraine for the crisis response work that they are doing.

(7) GUARDIANS OF JUSTICE. BGR promises “Netflix’s new superhero show might be the weirdest thing you ever watch”.

…People have no definitive idea what to make of Netflix’s newly released superhero series, The Guardians of Justice. That’s the only conclusion I can draw from the fact that reviews and user reaction is absolutely all over the place — to say nothing of the fact that the trailer for this streaming series, which is about a group of superheroes who confront evil after “their fearless leader self-destructs” — left me utterly speechless. In an “I have no idea what to even think” or “what is going on here” sort of way.

First of all, the show switches between animation and live-action, which takes some getting used to. The voice cast includes Diamond Dallas Page, Sharni Vinson, Denise Richards, and RJ Mitte. And there’s a kind of Adult Swim aesthetic that people either love or can’t stand….

(8) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Leanna Renee Hieber and John C. Foster on March 16 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. This will be an in-person event at the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs).

Leanna Renee Hieber

Leanna Renee Hieber is an actress, playwright, narrator and award-winning author of Gothic, Gaslamp Fantasy novels for Tor and Kensington Books such as the Strangely Beautiful, Eterna Files, Spectral City series and A Haunted History of Invisible Women: True Stories of America’s Ghosts. Featured on TV shows like Mysteries at the Museum and Beyond the Unknown discussing Victorian Spiritualism, Leanna lectures around the country on paranormal and 19th century subjects.

John C. Foster

John C. Foster is the author of the forthcoming horror novel, Leech, the recent crime thriller Rooster and four other horror novels, the most recent of which is Mister White. His stories have been collected in Baby Powder and Other Terrifying Substances. He lives in Brooklyn with the actress Linda Jones and their dog Coraline.

(9) FANAC.ORG FANHISTORY ZOOM PART 2. The LASFS family reunion continues in the second part of Fanac.org’s latest fanhistory Zoom: “Death Does Not Release You – LASFS (Pt 2 of 2)”.

In part 2 of this FANAC Fan History Zoom Session (Feb 2022), the LASFS family reunion continues. Craig Miller (TV writer and producer, Worldcon chair, and LASFS member), Ken Rudolph (filmmaker, fanzine editor, former LASFS officer), Tim Kirk (professional artist, awarded many Fan Artist and Professional Artist Hugo Awards), and Bobbi Armbruster (professional and fan meeting and convention organizer) continue their conversation. Despite some early audio problems, the talk ranges from other Los Angeles fan subgroups like the Bixel Street Irregulars (40s), the Petards (late 60s-80s) and the Blackguards (60s), to well-known fans and professionals of the Los Angeles area to untimely deaths. Tim Kirk tells the wonderful story of how his Master’s Thesis and a little luck resulted in his breaking through to the professional art field. There are even some convention stories, including the surprising origin of Loscon. If you’re interested in the first big Heinlein blood drive, plans for the Last Dangerous Visions, or how many people could fit in the clubhouse kitchen, settle back and enjoy the recording.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2011 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Eleven years ago, The Adjustment Bureau film premiered. It is based off the Philip K. Dick “Adjustment Team” short story that was first published in Orbit Science Fiction (No. 4, September–October 1954). (It’s available in The Adjustment Team and Other Selected Stories from the usual suspects for just a buck ninety nine.)  

Written and directed by George Nolfi, who previously wrote the genre film Timeline, it had a lot of producers — Bill Carraro, Michael Hackett, Chris Moore, plus George Nolfi in his third role in the film. It had an absolutely amazing cast: Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Michael Kelly, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery and Terence Stamp. 

It did exceedingly well at the box office making nearly one hundred thirty million against just fifty million in total costs. Rather great I’d say. 

So how was the reception for it? Mostly excellent really though a few reviewers I admit were really puzzled by it as romance and SF is a combination they don’t grok. The reviewer at the Washington Examiner said that it “is that rare thing, an intelligent romance” while 7M Pictures stated of it that is “a fantastic piece of science fiction told in the flavor of a classic Twilight Zone episode.” And the Examiner summed it up nicely this way: “It’s rare when a film is able to blend together two different genres so well, especially when they are two genres that you don’t normally see together, in this case, science-fiction and romance.”

It does not get that a great rating at Rotten Tomatoes among audience reviewers garnering just sixty-seven percent. Not bad, but not overwhelming. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 4, 1905 Frank Utpatel. Artist who may have done some interior illustrations for Weird Tales, he’s remembered for his Arkham House book covers that began with Lovecraft’s The Shadow over Innsmouth novel in 1936. He would do covers for Ashton, Howard, Derleth, and Lovecraft. One of my favorite covers by him is for Derleth’s The Casebook of Solar Pons but then I like all of his Solar Pons covers and their obviously Holmesian riff. (Died 1980.)
  • Born March 4, 1914 Ward Kimball. He was part of Walt Disney’s original team of animators, known as the Nine Old Men. Keep in mind that he did not create characters but animated them, which he did to great ability — Jiminy Cricket, the Mad Hatter, Mickey Mouse, and Tweedledee and Tweedledum. He eventually became an animation director at Disney starting with Fantasia, and he worked on Mary Poppins. (Died 2002.)
  • Born March 4, 1923 Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore CBE HonFRS FRAS. Astronomer who liked Trek and Who early on but said later that he stopped watching when “they went PC – making women commanders.” Despite that, he’s here because he shows up in the debut Eleventh Doctor story, “The Eleventh Hour“. And he was also in the radio version of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. (Died 2012.)
  • Born March 4, 1923 Patrick Moore. He held the record as the presenter of the world’s longest-running television series with the same original presenter, BBC’s The Sky at Night.  He was a genre writer with six such novels to his name, one co-written, and a lot of related non-fiction, one that garnered him a Hugo nomination at Interaction, Futures: 50 Years in Space: The Challenge of the Stars, that was co-written with David A. Hardy. (Died 2012.)
  • Born March 4, 1965 Paul W. S. Anderson, 57. If there be modern pulp films, he’s the director of them. He’s responsible for the Resident Evil franchise plus Event HorizonAlien V. PredatorPandorum and even Monster Hunter
  • Born March 4, 1966 Paul Malmont, 56. Author of the comic strips The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril and Jack London in Paradise which blends pulp tropes and SF elements including using as protagonists Heinlein and Asimov. He wrote the first four issues of DC’s excellent Doc Savage series with artist Howard Porter. While a marketing executive at DC he created the DC Daily video series, now over four hundred and fifty episodes long. 
  • Born March 4, 1973 Len Wiseman, 49. Producer or Director of the Underworld franchise. Director of the Total Recall remake. Also involved in StargateIndependence DayMen in Black and Godzilla in the Property Department end of things. He is the Sleepy Hollow series creator and producer for much of it, wrote the pilot as well. (Is it worth watching? I’ve not seen any of it.) Producer for much of the Lucifer seriesas well and is the producer for the entire series of the rebooted Swamp Thing. Also produced The Gifted

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Argyle Sweater probably should be spelled “Aaarggghyle” after this bad superhero-themed pun.
  • Bizarro makes an okay joke in the foreground, but studying the gags in the background is even more entertaining.  

(13) CLICK AND LEARN. What writer whose initials are Ray Bradbury helped inspire lyricist Bernie Taupin? Far Out Magazine knows: “The story behind Elton John song ‘Rocket Man’”.

…The opening lines, which read: “She packed my bags last night, pre-flight. Zero hour: 9am. And I’m gonna be high as a kite by then,” was conceived by Taupin while he was driving to his parents in Lincolnshire, England. Anxious that he’ll forget the lines, he drove some back roads as fast as he could to put it down on paper. Until he reached their house he had to “repeat it to himself for two hours,” which was “unfortunate” but also worthwhile given the magnanimous status the song achieved….

(14) AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER. SYFY Wire assures us that John DiMaggio will voice Bender in the forthcoming Futurama revival. A bit of closure to a “crisis” that might have gone completely unnoticed had it happened this week.

Good news… again… everyone! Bendergate is finally over. Actor John DiMaggio has officially settled his pay dispute with 20th Century Studios and will return as the voice of Bender for Hulu’s upcoming revival of Futurama. To quote the booze and cigar-loving robot specifically programed for bending girders (and partying): “It’s gonna be fun on a bun!”…

(15) CONREP IN THE WIND. SF2 Concatenation has just tweeted the link to an advance-post of a Windycon con report. This is ahead of their full seasonal edition slated for April 15 (but which may be held till April 20 if the Hugo short-lists are announced Easter weekend).

By Sue Burke: “The 2021 Windycon in Chicago, USA”.

In some ways, Windycon 47 unfolded normally, with panels, music, theatre, gaming, an anime track, art show, dealer’s room, and even the season’s first snowfall, right on time. It happened in the usual place, the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center. But the 47th annual Windycon should have taken place two years earlier in 2020. Instead, due to CoVID-19, a pared-down Zoom event 13th-15th November 2020, called Breezycon, offered a taste of the “family” feeling of the convention’s long history….

(16) BUSTED. Got to love the New York Times headline: “‘After Yang’ Review: Do Androids Dream of Sheep, Babysitting, Being?”

…Repairing Yang proves unsurprisingly more challenging than poking around under the hood of a car. Yang is a secondhand model, “certified refurbished,” yet used nevertheless. And while his warranty is still valid, the store where he was procured, Second Siblings, is out of business. “I told you we should have just bought a new one,” Kyra chides Jake with the old I-told-you-so sigh. In the future, men still take care of the big household chores; wives berate their husbands for making foolish decisions; and some families live in swoon-worthy houses with floor-to-ceiling windows and open-floor plans….

(17) THE NEXT BIG THING IS STILL PRETTY SMALL. “Two pillars of biological dogma upended by discovery of huge bacteria with nuclei”Daily Kos analyzes the impact.

…The proposed new species, Thiomargarita magnifica, is about 50 times larger than any other known bacterium, and it’s also the only bacterium we know of to keep its DNA inside a membrane-bound structure.  Either of those discoveries by itself would be very significant, so this double whammy really is a rare find.  Game changer!  Paradigm shift!  And all that jazz!  Microbiologists sure seem impressed

(18) MADAM I’M ADAM. A time-traveling pilot teams up with his younger self and his late father to come to terms with his past while saving the future. Comes to Netflix on March 11.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Superman and Batman kibitz in this latest video from How It Should Have Ended that dropped today. “How Spider-Man No Way Home Should Have Ended”.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/17/22 I Have No Internet And I Must Stream

(1) BREATHTAKING. Here’s a chance to admire Nalo Hopkinson’s magnificent SFWA Grand Master award.

(2) SILVER Q&A. Sea Lion Press’ Gary Oswald has a conversation with a co-founder of the Sidewise Awards for Alternate History: “Interviewing the AH Community: Steven H Silver”.

In 2020, a Sea Lion Press story won a Sidewise Award for the first time. Most Sidewise winners are paper novels by major book publishers which sell in the thousands so it was exciting to us that an ebook by a minor publisher with more modest sales could win it. You’re obviously not the only judge but do you consider popularity or legitimacy at all or would you be happy to vote for a self published ebook with barely any sales if you felt the work was good enough?

I try to read each story or novel for the Sidewise Award pretending I know nothing of its provenance. I try to ignore who the author is, who published it, or the way it got to press. To me, it is about the story being told and the way it is told. I try to judge each book on two levels. Is it a good/interesting alternate history and is it a well written book. I’ve voted down books I like because they were strong in one of those two categories, but weak in the other. If the writing isn’t good, the concept doesn’t matter and if the writing is good but the alternate history is weak, it is hard to consider it a contender….

(3) WHO CAN RESIST CETACEANS? [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Artist JohannesVIII (@ViiiJohannes) did this piece of two humpback whales assimilated as Borg from Star Trek.

(4) FANHISTORY ZOOM. Fanac.org’s next Fan History Project Zoom Series presentation is happening on February 26. To RSVP, or find out more about the series, please send a note to [email protected].

  • Death Does Not Release You – LASFS Through the Years with Craig Miller (M), Tim Kirk, Ken Rudolph and Bobbi Armbruster

Date: February 26, 2022
Time: 4pm EST, 1pm PST, 9PM London, 8AM Sunday AEDT (Melbourne)

LASFS is unique – in its history and impact on fandom. LASFS has a clubhouse, a long list of professional writers that have been members, and has had an incredibly active fan group over the decades. Los Angeles area fandom has produced innumerable fanzines, six Los Angeles Worldcons (and many other conventions). Join us for a session with our real world AND fannishly accomplished participants – convention runners (including a Worldcon chair), a noted fan and professional artist, and a fanzine editor, all past or present LASFS members – in conversation about Los Angeles fandom from the inside.

Upcoming Fanac.org fanhistory Zooms are:

  • March 19 — Traveling Ghiants, Fan Funds from the Days of Mimeo to the Days of Zoom

Geri Sullivan (m), Lesleigh Luttrell (DUFF), Justin Ackroyd (GUFF) and Suzle Tompkins (TAFF)

4pm EDT, 1pm PDT, 8pm London, 7am AEDT (Melbourne) – 

  • April 23 — Fandom From Both Sides

Joe Haldeman and Gay Haldeman

2pm EDT, 11am PDT, 7pm London – 

(5) OMICRON AT ANIME NYC. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The CDC has published a study of what ABC News identifies as the 2021 Anime NYC COVID-19/Omicron outbreak. The function isn’t named in the study, but details that are given match that convention. “Omicron spread quickly at convention in New York City — but boosters helped at ABC News.

…According to convention rules, attendees were required to have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and wear masks indoors.

The first case was reported to the CDC by the Minnesota Department of Health on Dec. 2 in a man — called Patient A — who had flown to New York City for the convention, the report said.

For the report, the CDC teamed up with the MDH and state and local departments across the country interviewing Patient A, and 23 of his 29 close contacts from 13 states who also attended the convention.

Patient A had traveled to New York City on November 18. He was fully vaccinated and received a booster shot earlier in November, according to the authors.

However, he developed symptoms on Nov. 22 and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, after which he notified all his close contacts, the report said.

Of the 23 attendees contacted, 16 tested positive for the virus, equating to an attack rate of 70%.

All the contacts were fully vaccinated, but only 11 had received a booster dose before going to the convention, according to the report. The authors indicate that having a booster dose lowered the odds of testing positive for COVID-19.

Ten of the 12 people, or 83%, who didn’t receive a booster tested positive for the virus while six of the 11 people, 55%, who tested positive were boosted, meaning there were 1.5 times fewer infections in boosted individuals….

(6) TEXMOOT CALL FOR PAPERS. Signum University is hosting a hybrid event, TexMoot 2022, whose theme is “Starships, Stewards, and Storytellers: How Imaginary Worlds Teach Us to Care for This One”. It takes place in Austin, TX on March 26. Registration costs $50 for on-site participants, $25 for online attendees, and $15 for students in either mode. To register, click here. The complete call for papers is here.

In 2022, Signum University’s Annual Texas Language and Literature Symposium (TexMoot) invites you to join us as we consider the ethical turn in speculative fiction: How do imaginary worlds teach us to care for this one?

From ecological concerns to social commentary, science fiction and fantasy offer readers a mirror through which to view our own world. For example, the struggles of a terraforming planet may remind us how precious and fragile is the one we live on. The real-world conflict between nature and technology comes to life on the page when trees march to war. We may find insights into how to interact with people around us by spending time with characters in a fellowship—or on a starship. 

At TexMoot 2022, you will explore questions like: How do we relate to the Other—the “monsters” and “aliens” beyond the bulkhead door? What roles can technology play in preserving nature or reinforcing what makes us human? Do humans change the nonhuman environment, or are they inevitably changed by it? Is there really a clear line between the human and the nonhuman, anyway? And whose responsibility is it to preserve “civilization” and transmit its legacy to future generations?

TexMoot 2022 will also investigate the ways authors convey these commentaries. What literary techniques best serve the message; at what point does a work cross the line into propaganda? When does the message serve the story, and when does the story serve the message?

The TexMoot Team is looking for both traditional academic papers (of about 15 minutes) and shorter discussion prompts in which the presenter talks for 5 minutes and ends with a provocative question to start a roundtable discussion. Presentations and discussion topics can be more academic or popular, according to your preference and experience. 

(7) STRANGER THINGS GETS FIFTH SEASON. The airdates for the fourth season of Stranger Things have been announced, as has the greenlit fifth and last season. Deadline has the story, and a gallery of promotional posters. “’Stranger Things’ Renewed For Fifth And Final Season, Gets Premiere Dates For Split Season 4 On Netflix”.

Stranger Things, a signature show for Netflix since its premiere in 2016, has been renewed for a fifth and final season.

In addition to the climactic renewal, the company said the long-awaited Season 4 of the show will premiere in two “volumes,” the first on May 27 and the second on July 1. In an open letter to fans (read it in full below), co-creators Matt and Ross Duffer said the split season resulted from the season’s nine episodes having a total running time twice as long as that of any previous season.

The Duffer Bros noted that the full arc was expected to be “four or five” seasons when they first envisioned the show, so the end is not a surprise. Plus, it won’t be the end of the franchise, they promised.

“There are still many more exciting stories to tell within the world of Stranger Things: new mysteries, new adventures, new unexpected heroes,” they wrote. “But first we hope you stay with us as we finish this tale.”

(8) IT HAPPENED TO JANE. You may not be able to watch Natalie Portman gear up as Thor just yet, but you can pre-order an action figure of her. Gizmodo offers “Thor Love and Thunder Natalie Portman as Thor First Look”, but it comes with a spoiler warning.

While movie studios like Marvel like to keep all details about their films under complete wraps, there’s one truth they simply cannot get around: It takes a long time to make merchandise, especially action figures. That’s why they’re often the first looks at movie outfits and characters, and it’s why we’re getting this first look at Natalie Portman as Jane Foster as the Mighty Thor in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder. In related news, she’s awesome—as regular Thor’s new movie outfit, which you can also see here!…

(9) RIDE WITH THE SPACE COWBOY. Simultaneous Times science fiction podcast episode 48 is live, featuring short stories by F.J. Bergmann and Toshiya Kamei with original soundtracks by Phog Masheen and RedBlueBlackSilver. “Simultaneous Times Ep.48 – F.J. Bergmann & Toshiya Kamei”. Simultaneous Times is a monthly science fiction podcast produced by Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, CA.

(10) FAREN MILLER (1950-2022). Faren Miller, a Locus staffer and contributor for 37 years, died February 15 at the age of 71 reports Locus Online. Miller was hired by Locus in 1981, and her last review column for the magazine was in 2018. Her only published novel, The Illusionists (1991), was a finalist for the William Crawford – IAFA Fantasy Award for first fantasy book.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1989 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Thirty-three years ago, the first film of what would become the Bill & Ted franchise, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, premiered on this day. It was directed by Stephen Herek as written by Chris Matheson, son of author Richard Matheson, and Ed Solomon, writer of the first Men in Black film, who would write all three of these films. 

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, of course, stars Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter and George Carlin. (I met the latter many years ago. A rather nice gentleman he was.) Two out of the three had successful careers after this, one really didn’t. 

It was a box office triumph earning back forty million against a modest budget of just ten million.

Critics generally hated it. The New York Times in reviewing it flatly stated that it was a “painfully inept comedy”. And the Los Angeles Times said that it was an “unabashed glorification of dumbness for dumbness’ sake”. Dissenting from this unrelenting hostility, the Radio Times cheerfully said ir was a “flawless, purpose-built junk movie”. 

So how do audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes view it now? Well, they give it a most bodacious seventy-five percent rating. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 17, 1912 Andre Norton. She penned well over a dozen series, but her major series was Witch World which began rather appropriately with Witch World in 1963. The first six novels in that series were Ace Books paperback originals published in the Sixties. I remember them with fondness quite some decades after reading them. (Died 2005.)
  • Born February 17, 1913 David Duncan. A screenwriter and novelist who was nominated twice for Hugos, first for being writing the screenplay for The Time Machine at Seacon, and for the same work on Fantastic Voyage at NyCon 3. He also wrote Time Machine: The Journey Back sequel to The Time Machine. And he wrote The Outer Limits’ “The Human Factor” episode. (Died 1999.)
  • Born February 17, 1939 Kathy Keeton. Founder and publisher of the now defunct Omni. It was founded by her and her partner and future husband Bob Guccione, the publisher of the also defunct Penthouse. It would publish a number of stories that have become genre classics, such as Card’s “Unaccompanied Sonata”, Gibson’s “Burning Chrome” and “Johnny Mnemonic” and George R. R. Martin’s “Sandkings” to name a few of the stories that appeared there. (Died 1997.)
  • Born February 17, 1954 Don Coscarelli, 68. A film director, producer, and screenwriter best known for horror films. His credits include the Phantasm series, The Beastmaster, and Bubba Ho-Tep, the latter based a novella by Joe R. Lansdale whom I’ve met and who is a really nice person.
  • Born February 17, 1971 Denise Richards, 51. Her first genre role was as Tammy in Tammy and the T-Rex (really don’t ask). Her next role was the one she’s known for as Carmen Ibañez in Starship Troopers. A few years later she’ll be Dr. Christmas Jones in The World Is Not Enough, the eighteenth Bond film. She played Victoria Dare in Timecrafters: The Treasure of Pirate’s Cove.
  • Born February 17, 1975 Jerry O’Connell, 47. Quinn Mallory on Sliders, a series whose behind-the-broadcast politics is too tangled to detail here. His first SF role was on Mission to Mars as Phil Ohlmyer with the SF dark comedy Space Space Station 76 with him as Steve being his next role. He’s done a lot of of DCU voice work, Captain Marvel in Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam, Clark Kent / Superman in Justice League vs. Teen Titans and Justice League: Throne of AtlantisJustice League DarkThe Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen where he also plays Cyborg Superman to great, chilling effect. The latter film is kickass excellent.

(13) SUBSCRIBERS MUST SQUINT. According to Polygon, “recent updates have made it harder to read, shop, and publish on the U.S.’s most popular digital comics platform” — “Amazon’s big Comixology changes ignite concern from comic book creators, fans”.

This week Amazon, launched a new app for its digital comics platform, Comixology, and a new Amazon-native online storefront that will eventually replace Comixology’s browser-based store and reader. But the new changes have alarmed both users and creators.

Long-time Comixology users have taken to social media to list all the ways the new web and app user experience represents a step backward from what they’re used to. Chief among the many complaints is a new web reader that doesn’t display double page spreads correctly, has removed creator credits from book listings on the storefront, and lacks both panel-by-panel and zoom functions, rendering most comics in illegibly small images….

(14) MISSING A PART OF THE FUTURE. Voice acting veterans Mark Hamill, Tara Strong, Kari Wahlgren, and Charlie Adler call out Hulu, which is reviving Futurama but hasn’t been willing to meet the terms of Bender’s voice John DiMaggio: “Futurama Hulu revival: Actors supporting John DiMaggio” at SYFY Wire.

A number of established Hollywood veterans have come to the side of John DiMaggio as the actor continues to clash with Hulu and 20th Century Studios over proper compensation for the streamer’s upcoming revival of Futurama.

The official announcement of the beloved series’ return from co-creators Matt Groening and David X. Cohen was slightly marred by the fact that DiMaggio (who voices foul-mouthed robot Bender and a plethora of supporting characters) was the only member of the original cast who had not signed on for the revival. It was soon reported that the show would recast Bender in the wake of contract negotiations stalling out. If talks have ended for good between both parties, some fans say they won’t be tuning in if DiMaggio isn’t brought back for the 20 additional episodes slated to premiere sometime next year (production kicks off this month)….

(15) STORYLIVING BY DISNEY. Love Disney parks so much you’d want to live in one?  Now you can (sort of). “Disney is developing planned communities for fans who never want to leave its clutches”The Verge will fill you in.

Disney has launched a new business for fans who can’t bear to leave the pristine, family-friendly world the corporation has nurtured through its theme parks and media ventures.

“Storyliving by Disney” will operate as part of the company’s theme parks division, developing a series of master-planned communities for residential living, designed by Disney’s creative staff and offering the same pampered tranquility found in its resorts.

“Picture an energetic community with the warmth and charm of a small town and the beauty of a resort,” said Disney Parks, Experiences and Products exec Helen Pak in a promotional video.

Only one location has been announced so far: a community of 1,900 housing units named Cotino that will be built in the city of Rancho Mirage in California’s Coachella Valley (a location where Walt Disney himself once lived)….

(16) SPLISH SPLASH, YOU’LL BE TAKIN’ A BATH. [Item by Michael Toman.] I can’t be the only Filer who would be interested in reading this Kim Stanley Robinson nightmare scenario, with or without fires and earthquakes. What will California’s coast look like in 100 years? “We’re Kind of Built on This Knife’s Edge” at Alta.

Eighteen thousand years ago, give or take, the continental shelf 30 miles off the coast of San Francisco was exposed as a wide, flat coastal plain with an extensive system of dunes and river valleys connecting the Farallon Islands to the continental United States, which didn’t go by that name. Farther north, salt waters from the Pacific Ocean stretched all the way inland to present-day Sacramento.

Rising sea levels have continued to erode the shoreline ever since, as human beings established a society they would eventually call California. Some of our biggest cities were built in this 10 miles of dynamic coastline.

“We often think of the California coast as this high-relief terrain with active tectonics, which it is, but we’ve put millions of people in the lowest parts of the entire state, like the San Diego Bay, the San Francisco Bay, and the Los Angeles Basin,” says Patrick Barnard, the research director of the climate impacts and coastal processes team at USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz….

(17) YAKKITY-YAK. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Not satisfied with something commonplace like a robotic dog, China is going for a robotic yak. They are said to be essentially ready for troop support, but Popular Mechanics isn’t buying it. “China’s New ‘Robotic Yak’ Will Support Ground Troops, But It’s Not as Capable as It Seems”.

Chinese engineers are developing a large, four-legged robotic “yak,” supposedly capable of hauling as much cargo as two real yaks. The unnamed robot—which seems destined for military use—is similar to the robo-dog concept that Waltham, Massachusetts-based Boston Dynamics has popularized over the last decade. But a careful reading of the video shows that it may just be a bunch of Chinese Communist Party propaganda.

Supported by its four spindly legs and barrel-shaped body, the robot is topped off with a cargo-carrying metal rack. Global Times, a Chinese tabloid with links to the Chinese government, claims it can carry up to 160 kilograms (352 pounds) and travel at up to 6.21 miles per hour. It cites the Chinese Communist Party news site People’s Daily as saying the robot was “the world’s largest, heaviest and most off-road-capable of its kind.”…

…. Robo-yak isn’t going anywhere anytime soon for the same reasons the Marines never pursued LS3: robots run on batteries and once the batteries run down, it takes hours—at a place with abundant power to spare, which is not exactly the desert—to recharge them. 

(18) THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN. “Homelander’s Vought Origin Story Shown In The Boys Diabolical Trailer”Screen Rant sets the frame:

Set within the same universe as its parent series, The Boys: Diabolical acts as an eight-part collection of animated short films exploring a range of stories related to the corrupt superhero world that fans of The Boys have come to know and love. Each episode will run between 12 and 14 minutes and feature a unique animation style

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: It Takes Two,” Fandom Games says the gimmick of this game is that you’re supposed to play it with your partner and preserve your marriage.  But the narrator says a better test is to “Play Cuphead with your wife, because if your marriage can survive that, it can survive anything!”

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Steven H Silver, Chris Barkley, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Randall M.]