Pixel Scroll 6/25/22 File The Pixels, Lest They Squeak Or Scroll

(1) OKORAFOR’S LOVE FOR COMICS. It started when she was seven: “From Garfield to Black Panther: Nnedi Okorafor on the Power of Comics” at Literary Hub.

My path to writing the big black cat started with a fat orange cat.

I’ve always been attracted to comics. Even before the word, it was the black line that drew me (pun intended). It began when I was about seven years old in the early ’80s with . . . Garfield. My father was an avid Chicago Sun-Times newspaper reader, and every day he would sit at the dinner table and read it. It was while hanging around him that I noticed that there was a comics page every day. The Family CircusHi and LoisBloomsburyCalvin and HobbesMommaZiggy—there were so many I enjoyed. And, oh man, on Sunday, there were pages of comics, and they were in color! I loved these little stories told in pictures. But I became most obsessed with Garfield….

(2) FUTURE TENSE. “This, But Again” by David Iserson, about life as a recurring simulation, is this month’s story from Future Tense Fiction, a monthly series from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives.

There’s an accompanying response essay by Eric Schwitzgebel, “If We’re Living in a Simulation, the Gods Might Be Crazy”.

That we’re living in a computer simulation—it sounds like a paranoid fantasy. But it’s a possibility that futurists, philosophers, and scientific cosmologists treat increasingly seriously. Oxford philosopher and noted futurist Nick Bostrom estimates there’s about a 1 in 3 chance that we’re living in a computer simulation. Prominent New York University philosopher David J. Chalmers, in his recent book, estimates at least a 25 percent chance. Billionaire Elon Musk says it’s a near-certainty. And it’s the premise of this month’s Future Tense Fiction story by David Iserson, “This, but Again.”

Let’s consider the unnerving cosmological and theological implications of this idea. If it’s true that we’re living in a computer simulation, the world might be weirder, smaller, and more unstable than we ordinarily suppose…

(3) KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. “See rare alignment of 5 planets and moon in stunning photo” at Space.com.

The rare sight of five bright planets lining up with the moon wowed skywatchers around the world Friday, with some gearing up for more this weekend to see a planetary sight that won’t happen again until 2040.

Throughout June, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn have lined up from left to right, in their orbital order from the sun, before dawn in the southeastern sky. Early Friday (June 24), the moon joined the planet parade in an awesome sight captured by astrophotographer Wright Dobbs, a meteorologist for the U.S. National Weather Service in Tallahassee, Florida….

(4) “US IN FLUX” RETURNS. In 2020 ASU’s Center for Science and Imagination published Us in Flux, a series of 11 flash-fiction stories and virtual events about community, collaboration, and resilience in the face of transformative events. They’re back!

This summer, we’re presenting a second cycle of Us in Flux stories and events, providing glimpses of better futures shaped by new social arrangements, communities, and forms of governance, with a focus on bottom-up creativity and problem-solving at the local level. Our stories will present civic experiments, envisioning the collectives, systems, and activities that could power the functional, equitable, and thriving communities of the future.  

 We’ll publish one story and host one event each month from June to September 2022.

 Our first story is “Becoming Birch” by Carter Meland, about rock music, unexpected connections, and northern Minnesota forests. The story is available to read now, And you can view a conversation about the story’s themes and implications with Carter and Grace Dillon, professor of Indigenous Nations Studies at Portland State University and editor of Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction.

(5) YOU’RE OUT OF THERE. The #KickedFromTheJediOrderFor meme has inspired some funny tweets (and some obnoxious duds, what else is new?) Here are two I liked.

(6) SLOWER THAN LIGHT. James Davis Nicoll ransacks the genre for “Scientifically Plausible SF Settings That Provide an Alternative to FTL Travel” at Tor.com.

Suppose for the moment that one was a science fiction author and was trying to imagine a plausible setting in which a multitude of inhabited worlds were within easy, quick reach. Further suppose that one did not care to discard relativity, but likewise was not keen on a setting where time dilation plays a significant role. What is one to do?

How many authors have tried to come up with settings that meet all these demands? More than you’d expect….

(7) PAGES OUT OF HISTORY.  Publisher Penguin has established an online gallery, The Art of Penguin Science Fiction. Click on individual covers to see them larger. The Table of contents link takes you to a chronological discussion of the designs and artists.

(8) GORN WITH THE WIND. MeTV drops the challenge: “How well do you know the memorable Gorn episode of Star Trek?” I got 9 out of 12 – I expect you to do better!

The original Star Trek series was philosophical, strange, deadly serious and wonderfully wacky – sometimes all in the same episode! One of those episodes is the first season outing “Arena.” It has since become a legendary entry in the franchise for its reptilian villain – the Gorn. Though immensely strong, the green, glitter-eyed monster doesn’t exactly move at warp speed.

How well do you remember this iconic space adventure? Test your might, at least when it comes to Star Trek details, in this “Arena” episode quiz!

(9) KEN KNOWLTON (1931-2022). “Ken Knowlton, a Father of Computer Art and Animation, Dies at 91” reports the New York Times.

…In 1962, after finishing a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, Dr. Knowlton joined Bell Labs in Murray Hill, N.J., a future-focused division of the Bell telephone conglomerate that was among the world’s leading research labs. After learning that the lab had installed a new machine that could print images onto film, he resolved to make movies using computer-generated graphics.

“You could make pictures with letters on the screen or spots on the screen or lines on the screen,” he said in a 2016 interview, recalling his arrival at Bell Labs. “How about a movie?”

Over the next several months, he developed what he believed to be the first computer programming language for computer animation, called BEFLIX (short for “Bell Labs Flicks”). The following year, he used this language to make an animated movie. Called “A Computer Technique for the Production of Animated Movies,” this 10-minute film described the technology used to make it.

Though Dr. Knowlton was the only person to ever use the BEFLIX language —he and his colleagues quickly replaced it with other tools and techniques — the ideas behind this technology would eventually overhaul the movie business….

…At Bell Labs, Dr. Knowlton realized that he could create detailed images by stringing together dots, letters, numbers and other symbols generated by a computer. Each symbol was chosen solely for its brightness — how bright or how dark it appeared at a distance. His computer programs, by carefully changing brightness as they placed each symbol, could then build familiar images, like flowers or faces….

(10) MEMORY LANE

1972 [By Cat Eldridge.] Philip José Farmer’s To Your Scattered Bodies Go wins Hugo.

At the round earth’s imagin’d corners, blow Your trumpets, angels, and arise, arise From death, you numberless infinities Of souls, and to your scattered bodies go — English poet John Donne’s “Holy Sonnets”, number seven

Fifty years ago at the very first L.A. Con which was indeed attended by OGH, one of the finest novels ever written won the Hugo for Best Novel. That was the first of three Riverworld novels, To Your Scattered Bodies Go, and its author was Philip José Farmer who was there as Mike remembers hearing his acceptance speech.

It had been published by the Putnam Publishing Group in June of the previous year. The cover art was done by Ira Cohen.

To Your Scattered Bodies Go, and all of the Riverworld series, is based off of his unpublished novel Owe for the FleshTo Your Scattered Bodies Go was originally serialized as two separate novellas: “The Day of the Great Shout” which appeared in the January 1965 issue of Worlds of Tomorrow and “The Suicide Express” which appeared in the March 1966 issue of that magazine.

It has been made into two films, neither of which I’ve seen nor have any intention of seeing. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 25, 1903 — George Orwell. George Orwell, born Eric Blair in 1903. I’m not sure if Animal Farm counts as fantasy, but 1984 is clearly Science Fiction, and it may hold the record for the most neologisms added to English by a single SF book. Orwell was mostly known as a journalist and essayist, including his spats with H.G. Wells, most notably in “Wells, Hitler and the World State”. (Died 1950.) (Alan Baumler)
  • Born June 25, 1925 — June Lockhart, 97. Maureen Robinson on Lost in Space which amazingly only ran for three seasons despite my feeling that it ran a lot longer. It’s on Amazon Prime and Netflix currently. She has a number of genre one-offs including Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Greatest American Hero and Babylon 5Babylon 5? Huh. She appeared in the Lost in Space film as Principal Cartwright. 
  • Born June 25, 1935 — Charles Sheffield. He was the President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and of the American Astronautical Society. He won both the Nebula and Hugo Awards for his novelette “Georgia on My Mind” and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel for Brother to Dragons which is an amazing read. Much of his fiction is in his Heritage Universe series; the linked short stories of space traveler Arthur Morton McAndrew are a sheer comic delight. Besides his Hugo Award at ConAdian (1994) for “Georgia on My Mind”, he had several nominations as well. Chicon V (1991) picked two, “A Braver Thing” novellette and the “Godspeed” short story.  Oh, and he was toastmaster at BucConeer.  (Died 2002.)
  • Born June 25, 1947 — John Maddox Roberts, 75. Here for being prolific with his Conan pastiches, seven to date so far. I’ll also single out his The SPQR series beginning with SPQR which are police-procedural mystery novels set in Ancient Rome. Someone at the Libertarian Futurist Society really, really likes the Island Worlds as it has been nominated three times for the Prometheus Hall of Fame.
  • Born June 25, 1951 — Priscilla Olson, 71. She and her husband have been involved with NESFA Press’s efforts to put neglected SF writers back into print and have edited myriad writers such as Chad Oliver and Charles Harness, plus better-known ones like Jane Yolen.  She’s chaired a number of Boskones, and created the term “prosucker” which I must admit is both elegant and really ugly at the same time.
  • Born June 25, 1956 — Anthony Bourdain. That’s a death that hit me hard. Partly because he’s round my age, partly because, damn, he seemed so interested in everything that I couldn’t conceive him committing suicide. And yes, he was one of us with three works to his credit: Get Jiro!,  (with Joe Rose and Langdon Foss), Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi (with Joe Rose and Ale Garza) and Hungry Ghosts (with Joel Rose, Alberto Ponticelli, Irene Koh, Paul Pope). The first two are on DC, the latter‘s on Berger Books. (Died 2018.)
  • Born June 25, 1981 — Sheridan Smith, 41. She makes the Birthday list for being Lucie Miller, a companion to the Eighth Doctor in his Big Finish audio adventures starting in 2006 and running through at least this year. Her only video genre work was being in The Huntsman: Winter’s War as Mrs Bromwyn.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Argyle Sweater takes you back to the Marvel writers’ room of long ago.
  • Baby Blues shows a family on the way home from a comic con, and which parent got the better deal with their divided responsibilities.
  • The Flying McCoys has a superhero with no feeling for certain things.

(13) WILLIAMS BIRTHDAY CONCERT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Michael Andor Brodeur reviews John WIlliams’s 90th birthday concert at the Kennedy center, which had appearances by Steven Spielberg and Daisy Ridley and Yo-Yo Ma on stage. “Composer John Williams feted with birthday gala fit for the big screen”.

…To drive home the evening’s big-screen energy there was … a big screen, suspended over the orchestra and showing various montages, call-ins and clips. (This included a full screening of Kobe Bryant and Glen Keane’s Oscar-winning 2017 short film, “Dear Basketball,” accompanied by the orchestra and movingly introduced via video by the late NBA star’s wife, Vanessa Bryant.)

(Perhaps best of all, there was quiet on the set! I heard nary a beep nor bloop from the sold-out crowd. Good job, y’all. Oscars for everyone!)

Yet despite all the big names and Hollywood-level production values of the celebration, what stood out the most (and lingered the longest in my mind on the walk home) was the unexpected intimacy of Williams’s music, which feels hard-wired in my DNA, enmeshed in multiple dimensions of my memory and experience (and quite likely yours)….

(14) LIGHTYEAR MIGHT MAKE MONEY YET. [Item by Cat Eldridge.] The Sox Vinyl Collectible by Super 7 is life sized. The ultimate SJW robotic companion, I’d say. And it’s only $400 but that includes the carrier.  And a robotic mouse too. 

Attention Space Ranger Recruits! Sideshow and Super 7 present the new Sox Vinyl Collectible! Sox the cat is Buzz Lightyear’s PCR (Personal Companion Robot) and now he can be your pal too!

From Disney and Pixar’s Lightyear, this premium vinyl figure is engineered to be truly “life-sized” and measures about 20” long from nose to tail, and almost 15” tall to the tip of his ears. Fully poseable and wearing a faux leather collar with real metal name tag, Sox is accompanied by his small mouse protocol robot with a glow-in-the-dark tail.

This limited edition premium collectible comes packaged in a “Property of Star Command” cat carrier to display with the rest of your Disney collection!

(15) ISS.CON. “Astronaut cosplays as ‘Gravity’ spacefarer in space station shot” at Space.com.

The only flaw in this cosplay is the hair, joked European astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

The Italian astronaut posed on the International Space Station in just about the same way as Sandra Bullock, who visited the orbiting complex fictionally in the 2013 movie “Gravity.” Cristoforetti wore a similar outfit to Bullock, who played fictional NASA astronaut Ryan Stone in a rousing adventure sparked by a cloud of space debris that struck Stone’s space shuttle on-screen.

(16) NEVER TELL SOMEONE TO SMILE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Screen Rant says “Happiness Turns To Horror In Smile Trailer Starring Sosie Bacon”. (It’s a grim trailer.)

The trailer for Paramount Picture’s new horror film Smile might make viewers instead want to scream. Sosie Bacon (Mare of Easttown) stars in the film by writer/director Parker Finn. Smile is Finn’s first feature, and is adapted from his own horror short Laura Hasn’t Slept, which won the SXSW Film Festival’s special jury Midnight Short award. While Bacon began her acting career in 2005 in her father Kevin Bacon’s film Loverboy, this is her first leading role in a feature film.

The unsettling trailer released by Paramount Pictures shows Bacon as a psychiatrist named Dr. Rose Cotter who witnesses a patient gruesomely kill herself after the patient sees the form of a terrifying entity. After the incident, Rose seems to be followed by that same supernatural force, which spreads via a literally infectious smile and kills all those around her. It turns out her troubling past may hold the secret to unlocking her frightening present….

(17) OINKATASTROPHE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Xenotransplantation appears in genre fiction from time to time. In a recent real-world incidence, a heart from a genetically-engineered pig was transplanted into a human with heart failure. Initially the transplant was a great success, but a puzzling and unexpected mechanism of failure presented itself. The patient died after 60 days. So what happened? “Pig heart transplant failure: Doctors detail everything that went wrong” at Ars Technica.

Earlier this year, news broke of the first experimental xenotransplantation: A human patient with heart disease received a heart from a pig that had been genetically engineered to avoid rejection. While initially successful, the experiment ended two months later when the transplant failed, leading to the death of the patient. At the time, the team didn’t disclose any details regarding what went wrong. But this week saw the publication of a research paper that goes through everything that happened to prepare for the transplant and the weeks following.

Critically, this includes the eventual failure of the transplant, which was triggered by the death of many of the muscle cells in the transplanted heart. But the reason for that death isn’t clear, and the typical signs of rejection by the immune system weren’t present. So, we’re going to have to wait a while to understand what went wrong….

(18) HEY ABBOTT. Aurora offers a resin model kit based on Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein “McDougals Frankenstein Crate Scene” – for a mere $319.99.

You Get All Accurate Likeness Unpainted Models of Wilbur Gray with Mcdougals Dummy head, Chick Young with wagging finger and Spook Candle, Strange Frankenstein laying in Wooden textured Crate Model Plus special sculpture study Dracula and Wolfman. Model comes with realistic Frankensteins Wood Crate with House of Horrors address on it Plus 2 easels with Mcdougals Sign and Dracula lengend. wood floor base comes with raised logo name plate also hammer and crow bar.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Joey Eschrich, Will R., John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Stuart Hall.]

Pixel Scroll 5/28/22 Though I Scroll Through The Pixels Of The Of Media Birthdays, I Will Fear No Spoilers

(1) WELLS AMA. Martha Wells did an “Ask Me Anything” for Reddit’s r/books today: “I’m Martha Wells, and I’m an author of science fiction and fantasy, including The Murderbot Diaries. AMA!”

What authors do you like to read?

N.K. Jemisin, Kate Elliott, Nghi Vo, K. Arsenault Rivera, Rebecca Roanhorse, Fonda Lee, Aliette de Bodard, Ovidia Yu, Lois McMaster Bujold, Zen Cho, Barbara Hambly, Judith Tarr, Tana French, Tade Thompson, C.L. Polk. A whole bunch, basically. 🙂

(2) GREAT AND NOT-SO-GREAT EXPECTATIONS. Naomi Kanakia discusses “My relationship to bias against trans people in the publishing industry” at The War on Loneliness.

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on my ‘career’ (so to speak) as a trans writer for teens, which (oddly enough) now includes being one of the enemies du jour for a substantial part of the country!

Personally, it doesn’t bother me that much. I don’t lose sleep over it. If I got harassment or felt unsafe, I’m sure that would change. All the consequences are professional. There’s a huge appetite for trans narratives now, but I think they’re also risky, and that more marginal or nuanced perspectives like mine are just not what the country feels like it needs. That’s even aside from the risks of a book being banned by the right or cancelled by the left (or, as in a few cases, cancelled by right-wing trolls who pick out seemingly-offensive passages and use them to get the left riled up)

I see being trans the same way I see being a woman or being brown: it’s a definite professional liability, and it probably makes publication and acclaim harder to come by, but it also makes the work more meaningful. In a way, it’s kind of a privilege to be able to write about things that people care about, to say stuff that they might not’ve heard before, and to have a perspective that’s valuable. Which is to say, if it wasn’t harder for me to succeed, the would be less worth doing. I do think that if you want to produce something valuable, it’s always going to be more difficult, precisely because what is valuable is rarer, less-understood, and doesn’t have the same immediately-intuitive appeal….

(3) VERTLIEB MEDICAL UPDATE. Steve Vertlieb had a setback after returning home from heart surgery. But now he’s back home from a second hospital stay and has copied File 770 on his account for Facebook readers.

A Pseudoaneurysm And Blood Clot Bring Me To My Knees Once More, Requiring Renewed Forced Hospitalization

 … Just returned a little while ago from Abington Hospital in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania where I spent the last ten days unexpectedly confined to the dreaded hospital once again. I was only home for five days when agonizing pain in my lower groin forced me to to go back to the emergency room for a re-evaluation of my already precarious medical condition. I was diagnosed rather quickly, I fear, with a Pseudoaneurysm in my left lower groin area, as well as a blood clot in my left leg. I had a two and a half hour blood transfusion a few days ago in order to correct a low Hemoglobin level which had only added to my recent medical woes. I’m home again, however … I hope this time permanently.

To quote Dr. Henry Frankenstein … “HE’S ALIVE … ALIVE.” I’ve returned bloodied and scarred, but alive and on the mend, from the proverbial gates of hell. I shall live, God willing, to tell the story of my remarkable journey through fear, panic, and nearly terminal illness to the sweet gates of successful surgery, completion, and somewhat “limitless” vistas.

My time on Facebook will, for the present, be limited, I fear, in the days ahead, but I just wanted to let everyone know that I’ve survived. I came home from the hospital yesterday (Thursday) after a ten day stay following major open-heart surgery. The procedure lasted approximately six hours, during which my surgeons replaced one heart valve, repaired another, stitched back together the hole in my heart, and stopped my internal bleeding.

This procedure was far more involved and life threatening than I ever imagined or was advised. The second time, it seems, is not the charm, but the entire bracelet. They had to cut through an already existing incision, breaking once healed bones protecting my heart cavity yet again, in order to reach and operate upon the newly troubled areas. My recovery, consequently, will also be far more difficult than my original transition back to health, healing, and wholeness twelve years ago.

The good news, however, is that when I asked my surgeon the chances for a complete recovery, he responded “ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.” Doing anything beyond menial movement and chores over the next several months will be severely limited. My brother Erwin is here with me for the next month or so, and he’ll be taking care of me. However, my reason for posting this morning, is to let you all know that I have survived a difficult surgery, and that I’m looking forward, with faith and dreams, to a Summer, a year, and a life of happiness, love, laughter, and blessed renewal.

Thank you all from the bottom of my sometimes troubled heart for the most gracious gift of your prayers, and friendship. In Love, Peace, and Gratitude Steve

(4) VIRGIL FINLAY ART. Doug Ellis has announced a sale:

For fans of the great Virgil Finlay, my latest art sale catalog is now available.  This one is devoted entirely to the art of Finlay.  Note that none of these are published pieces, but instead are personal pieces (including abstracts).  This material all comes from Finlay’s estate, and I’m selling it on behalf of his granddaughter.

You can download the catalog (about 30 MB) through Dropbox here.

(5) FUTURE TENSE. “Out of Ash by Brenda Cooper” at Slate is a short story about climate change, the new entry from Future Tense Fiction, a monthly series of short stories from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives. 

…Mist gave way to soft rain, then faded back to damp cold. Stored sunlight made octagonal tiles on the path under my feet glow. I followed its light to the middle of Central Park, where dusk barely illuminated the blue and red mosaics of the town well. Volunteers had moved every piece of the well they could salvage from drowning historic Olympia to the replica in New Olympia. By car, the journey was over 65 miles. The new city perched on the lower slopes of Mount Rainier, and the water tasted as clean, although more like mountain than river. This well, like the old one, operated as a free community asset. The glowing streets, the well, and, a few blocks away, the new State Capitol all looked even more beautiful than the artist’s renderings. The city ran on sunlight. Edible plants bordered parks, fed by recycled wastewater as clean as the well water. New Olympia gave as much back to the ecosystem as it took….

Molly Brind’amour’s response essay considers, “What happens if no one moves to a new city?”

Multiple choice question: Your favorite beautiful, coastal city is at risk of being flooded by sea level rise, and you have the power to do something. Do you

a)   Build a sea wall
b)   Rearrange it into the hills
c)    Move the entire city inland
d)   Do nothing

These are the options facing today’s leaders… 

(6) STYLIN’ IN SIXTIES HOLLYWOOD. Techno Trenz remembers when: “Over a pair of shoes, Frank Sinatra came dangerously close to assaulting writer Harlan Ellison.”

…Sinаtrа wаs so pаrticulаr аbout his аppeаrаnce thаt he becаme enrаged when people didn’t dress the wаy he did. When he wаs in а bаr, he hаppened to notice Ellison.

“[Ellison] wore а pаir of brown corduroy slаcks, а green shаggy-dog Shetlаnd sweаter, а tаn suede jаcket, аnd $60 Gаme Wаrden boots,” Gаy Tаlese wrote in the Creаtive Nonfiction аrticle “Frаnk Sinаtrа Hаs а Cold.”

Sinаtrа wаs irritаted enough by Ellison’s аttire thаt he аpproаched him while plаying pool.

“Look, do you hаve аny reаson to tаlk to me?” Ellison inquired.

Sinаtrа responded, “I don’t like how you’re dressed.”…

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2011 [By Cat Eldridge.] Eleven years ago on this evening, the BBC aired the first episode of the Outcasts series. You’ve probably never heard of it as it only lasted eight episodes. It was created by Ben Richards who had absolutely no SFF background being a writer of such series as the British intelligence series Spooks (which is streaming on Britbox). 

It was written by him along with Jack Lothian and David Farr with the story being it is set on the colony planet Carpathia and it revolves around the ongoing lives of the existing settlers, and the introduction of the last evacuees from Earth.  No spoilers there I think.

When critics saw the pilot episode, they were downright hostile. Let’s start with Kevin O’Sullivan of The Mirror who exclaimed “While the barmy BBC squanders a billion quid on getting the hell out of London… it must have saved a fortune on ­Outcasts.  A huge horrible heap of cheapo trash, this excruciating sci-fi rubbish tip looked like it was made on a budget of about 50p.  Who directed it? Ed Wood? And what a script! So jaw-droppingly dreadful it hurt.” 

David Chater at the Times wrote, “Not since Bonekickers has the BBC broadcast such an irredeemably awful series. Sometimes catastrophes on this scale can be enjoyed precisely because they are so dismal, but this one has a kind of grinding badness that defies enjoyment of any kind.” 

Mike Hale of the New York Times gets the last word: “With none of the flair or self-deprecating wit that has defined other British sci-fi imports (‘Torchwood,’ ‘Primeval’), ‘Outcasts’ strands a number of talented performers, including Mr. Bamber, Eric Mabius and Liam Cunningham, on a world of wooden dialogue and interplanetary clichés. There’s nothing a rescue ship from earth can do for this crew.”

Audience figures for the series were extremely poor: as they started with an initial low figure of four point five million viewers for the pilot, and the show lost nearly two-thirds over its run, to finish with one point five million UK viewers. 

Richards remain defiant after it was moved to a new time stating “I have every confidence we will rule our new slot. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!” and “Cultdom beckons. And keep watching hardcore because remaining eps great.”  Well BBC didn’t pay attention as they then cancelled the series despite actually having shot some of the first episode of the second series. 

It gets a fifty percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

It appears to streaming for free on Vudu.  And it was released as a UK DVD.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 28, 1908 Ian Fleming. Author of the James Bond series which is at least genre adjacent if not actually genre in some cases such as Moonraker. The film series was much more genre than the source material. And then there’s the delightful Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car. The film version was produced by Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli, who had already made five James Bond films. Fleming, a heavy smoker and drinker his entire adult life, died of a heart attack, his second in three years. (Died 1964.)
  • Born May 28, 1923 Natalie Norwick. She had a number of genre roles in the Sixties including being Martha Leighton in “The Conscience of the King”, a Trek episode, and appearing as Josette duPres Collins on Dark Shadows. (Died 2007.)
  • Born May 28, 1951 Sherwood Smith, 71. YA writer best known for her Wren series. She co-authored The Change Series with Rachel Manija Brown.  She also co-authored two novels with Andre Norton, Derelict for Trade and A Mind for Trade
  • Born May 28, 1954 Betsy Mitchell, 68. Editorial freelancer specializing in genre works. She was the editor-in-chief of Del Rey Books. Previously, she was the Associate Publisher of Bantam Spectra when they held the license to publish Star Wars novels in the Nineties. She edited the Full Spectrum 4 anthology which won a World Fantasy Award. 
  • Born May 28, 1981 Laura Bailey, 41. I find voice performers fascinating. And we have one of the most prolific ones here in Laura Bailey. She’s got hundreds of credits currently, so can hardly list all of them here, so l’ll just choose a few that I really like. She voiced Ghost-Spider / Gwen Stacy in the recent Spider-man series and the Black Widow in Avengers Assemble and other Marvel series. And she appeared in Constantine: City of Demons as Asa the Healer. 
  • Born May 28, 1984 Max Gladstone, 38. His debut novel, Three Parts Dead, is part of the Craft Sequence series, and his shared Bookburners serial is most excellent. This Is How You Lose the Time War (co-written with Amal El-Mohtar) won a Hugo Award for Best Novella at CoNZealand. It also won an Aurora, BSFA, Ignyte, Locus and a Nebula. 
  • Born May 28, 1985 Carey Mulligan, 37. She’s here because she shows up in a very scary Tenth Doctor story, “Blink”, in which she plays Sally Sparrow. Genre adjacent, she was in Agatha Christie’s Marple: The Sittaford Mystery as Violet Willett. (Christie gets a shout-out in another Tenth Doctor story, “The Unicorn and the Wasp”.)

(9) CON OR BUST. Dream Foundry’s Con or Bust program is gearing up again. The program helps creatives of color attend conventions and other professional development opportunities they otherwise might not be able to by financing their trip, stay, and/or tickets.

They’re looking for donations – to offer one, use the donation form here. If you think you’d benefit from the funds, there’s a request form here. 

(10) SERVICE INTERRUPTUS. Cat Eldridge circled back to right-wing blog Upstream Reviews to read any new comments on its recent gloating posts about the Mercedes Lackey controversy and SFWA’s announcement that its membership directory data had been compromised. Surprisingly, he found that the blog is offline – all you get is an “Internal Server Error.” There’s still a Google cache file – the blog’s last entry was Declan Finn kissing Larry Correia’s butt.  Maybe the internet threw up? Cat says, “Quite likely as the parent domain is for it is mysfbooks.com which as been blacklisted by the internet as being dangerous to visit (may have worms, may harvest your passwords, may steal your immortal soul).”

(11) IF I COULD TALK TO THE ANIMALS. They left this part out of Doctor Doolittle, I guess.

Young dolphins, within the first few months of life, display their creativity by creating a unique sound. These bleats, chirps and squeaks amount to a novel possession in the animal kingdom — a label that conveys an identity, comparable to a human name.

These labels are called signature whistles, and they play an essential role in creating and keeping relationships among dolphins. While the development of a signature whistle is influenced by learning from other dolphins, each whistle still varies in volume, frequency, pitch and length….

… Fellow researcher Jason Bruck, a marine biologist at Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas, told National Geographic the original goal was to test whether dolphins use their signature whistles in the same way people rely on names.

Bruck couldn’t do that unless he found a second way dolphins could identify each other. Luckily, he remembered that a fellow scientist had previously observed wild dolphins swimming through what the website called “plumes of urine” and he figured the creatures might be using it as an ID technique….

(12) WHAT’S UP, DOCK? A travel writer for Insider gives a detailed account of her Starcruiser experience, accompanied by many photos of the décor, characters, and food, and assures everyone the $5200 price tag is worth it. “Adults Try Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser — Cost, Review, Photos”

I felt the price I paid was justified for everything that was included in this experience and watching my husband live out his best Star Wars life was priceless.. 

Plus the level of service and entertainment, the cast, and the food were just incredible. 

If you are a Star Wars fan, I recommend this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

But I have to tell you if that’s the price I’ll have to pay, like Han Solo said, “This is going to be a real short trip.”

(13) PORTENTOUS WORDS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, David Betancourt prepares people for the release of Obi-Wan Kenobi by giving his ten favorite Obi-Wan moments from Star Wars episodes 1-4. “Obi-Wan Kenobi moments to know before his Disney Plus return”. Second on the list:

Duel of the Fates “We’ll handle this.” (Episode 1: The Phantom Menace)

Duel of the Fates, the epic lightsaber battle featuring Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon and Darth Maul, borders on Star Wars perfection. Its success comes from the combination of John Williams’s score, Ray Park’s physicality as Darth Maul and modern CGI technology finally catching up to the imagination of George Lucas. And it is a moment that shows the ascension of Obi-Wan from Padawan to Jedi Knight when he ends up victorious.

(14) OBOE WAN. Legendary film composer John Williams hit the stage to surprise fans at Anaheim Star Wars Celebration and play the theme for the new Obi Wan Kenobi series.

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

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

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

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

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

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

HBO also released these character posters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t think it is streaming anywhere currently.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

(13) COMICS SECTION.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pixel Scroll 4/30/22 Those Who Cannot Remember Past Pixel Scrolls Are Doomed To Re-File Them

(1) CAT RAMBO AT FUTURE TENSE. The new entry from Future Tense Fiction, a monthly series of short stories from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives. Cat Rambo’s “The Woman Who Wanted to Be Trees” at Slate.

“For someone like me,” Nefirah’s client said, “it’s not a question of whether or not I’ll be remembered. The question is precisely how.”…

Tamara Kneese, an expert on the digital afterlife, delivers a response in her essay “Is a Lasting Digital Memorial to a Dead Person Even Possible?”

I’m a death scholar and a sustainability researcher at a major tech company, so Cat Rambo’s “The Woman Who Wanted to be Trees” hit home. In the story, a death care worker is asked to memorialize clients in innovative ways, using cutting-edge technologies to blur the boundaries between life and death, and between humans and the natural world. For the past 15 years, I have been researching how people use technology to remember and communicate with the dead. My forthcoming book, Death Glitch: How Techno-Solutionism Fails Us in This Life and Beyond, explores the fundamental incompatibility between dreams of technologically mediated life extension and the planned obsolescence of material technologies…. 

(2) AUTHOR MAGNET. The inaugural Santa Fe Literary Festival will take place May 20-23, at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center in Santa Fe, NM. The authors who are scheduled to appear include Margaret Atwood, Sandra Cisneros, John Grisham, Joy Harjo, Anne Hillerman, Craig Johnson, Phil Klay, Jon Krakauer, Emily St. John Mandel, George R.R. Martin, N. Scott Momaday, James McGrath Morris, Douglas Preston, Rebecca Roanhorse, Bob Shacochis, Colson Whitehead and Don Winslow.

Besides author readings and book signings, the festival will feature meals during which chefs and food writers will talk about the food they’ve prepared, their work and their books; Walk & Talks, during which attendees and authors will together explore parts of Santa Fe; and Tea & Tequila, featuring tea and tequila tastings. On Monday, the last day of the festival, attendees will be able to go on literary day trips in Santa Fe and nearby areas in northern New Mexico.

(3) FRESH VIEWPOINT. Artists & Climate Change’s “Wild Authors: Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki” is a Q&A with a 2022 double-Hugo-nominee and editor of The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction (2021)

In your short story “Mercy of the Wild,” you wrote from the viewpoint of a lion. What inspired that story?

“Mercy of the Wild” was a point of experimentation for me. I love to experiment with forms and styles or speculative fiction, and that was one such experiment that I was delighted to follow up on. The story was inspired by an almost childlike, wide-eyed curiosity about what goes on in the minds of the creatures we share the planet with. What if we heard their story, from the horse’s mouth so to speak. Or as the Igbo proverb says, “Until the lion learns to tell its story, the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” This got me wondering, what if the roles were reversed? Its telling impresses on me the need for people of diverse cultures to champion and find spaces for their stories to thrive in the world of today.

(4) GREAT LEAP FORWARD.  Cora Buhlert was a guest on the Dickheads podcast (as in Philip K. Dick) and discussed “‘The Big Jump’ – Leigh Brackett” with Grant Warmack and host David Agranoff.

In the first episode of this podcast, Solar Lottery, David said he would someday do this episode. So four years later, in January of this year, he sat down with a couple of colleagues and discussed the lesser-known novel The Big Jump by Leigh Brackett. The pair of talents he was privileged to have here are newcomer to Leigh Brackett writer/music manager/tarot reader Grant Wamack and long time ‘Bracketteer’ teacher/translator/writer and three time Hugo nominee Cora Buhlert. Enjoy.

(5) S&S: Here is more about the nascent New Edge sword and sorcery movement: “New Edge S&S Guest Post: Oliver Brackenbury” at Scott Oden’s blog.

[Scott Oden:] I put out the call, a few days ago, for a few guest posts relating to the New Edge of Sword & Sorcery. And here is our first victim . . . er, participant. Oliver is a podcaster, a screenwriter, and a novelist; he’s also one of the organizers of the whole New Edge movement. Oliver, you have the floor . .

[Oliver Brackenbury]: …I’ve been in conversations like that before, in other scenes and settings, and I thought “Wouldn’t be nice if all this energy was directed at really changing the situation?”. So I proposed an open, yet specific question – “What could we do to get more young people into this genre we all love?”.

Now, I can take credit for asking the question, but I cannot take credit for the incredible amount of energy I unwittingly tapped into by asking it. The conversation that took off was galloping and enthusiastic and good-natured and productive and WOW!

Scott Oden’s own thoughts about the movement appear in “Putting a NEW EDGE on an Old Blade”.

A genre can grow dull. The accretion of old social mores — the misogyny, racism, and homophobia of bygone eras — can oxidize a genre, making it seem as graceless as a barnacle-encrusted hunk of metal drawn from the sea. A genre’s founders can (and will) die, leaving less-invested imitators to tease out only the surface tropes while its deeper meanings are lost to the ages. And, over time, that genre starts to become irrelevant to the world at large.

In today’s fiction market, this is largely the fate of sword-and-sorcery. Mainstream publishers are loath to market a work as S&S because they consider it a dead end market. Readers less concerned with genre labels use the term nowadays to describe any book with swordplay and magic, from Tolkien to Pratchett — and they’re unaware that it has (or had) a very specific meaning. In short, the term sword-and-sorcery has lost its edge. It has rusted, and is stuck in a very old and problematic scabbard.

There is, however, a nascent movement that has started in the small press sphere to remove that blade from its sheath, to clean the rust from it, sharpen it on a grinding wheel, and fashion a new scabbard — one free from the old problems of the genre. That movement is called the NEW EDGE of S&S….

(6) SUBGENRE GETS NEWSLETTER SOURCE. There’s now also a free weekly sword and sorcery newsletter with the delightful name “Thews You Can Use” from Sword & Sorcery News. It just started.

This week’s Roundup will be a little different—not that you’d know, since it’s the first. Rather than covering the week in S&S news, I’ll go back over the last couple months. Here’s a quick roundup of S&S news from February through April…. 

(7) MURDERBOT AND POLICY. The New America website will hold a gathering of its Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club to discuss All Systems Red on June 1 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Register here.

Science fiction can have real policy impacts, and comes rife with real-life commentary. For the next, we have selected All Systems Red by Martha Wells.

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

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

(8) SPACE FORCE OFFICIALLY GROUNDED. I hadn’t realized the show wasn’t already canceled. Well, it is now: “Netflix cancels Steve Carell sci-fi comedy ‘Space Force’” reports SYFY Wire.

…In addition to Carell as General Mark Naird, the show also starred an A-list supporting cast of John Malkovich (Dr. Adrian Mallory), Ben Schwartz (F. Tony Scarapiducci), Tawny Newsome (Captain Angela Ali), Lisa Kudrow (Maggie Naird), and Diana Silvers (Erin Naird). 

That group is chock full of talent, which may have been part of its downfall — according to THR, the show’s large budget was reportedly in part because of the actors’ salaries, with Carell getting over $1 million per episode. That much built in spending, along with mixed reviews for both seasons, apparently resulted in a failure for Space Force to (ahem) launch into a third season…. 

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1938 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Not his official appearance as Bugs Bunny that will happen in “A Wild Hare” on July 27, 1940. But a preliminary version of the character we now know as him first showed up in “Porky’s Hare Hunt” eighty-four years ago today. The Looney Tunes cartoon was directed by Ben “Bugs” Hardaway (do note his name) and an uncredited Cal Dalton. It stars Porky Pig as a hunter whose quarry is a rabbit named Happy. Yes, Happy.

Oh, I well know that most Bugs Bunny fans will tell you that July 27 is the day that he was created as that is the anniversary of the 1940 debut of the familiar rabbit and his adversary, Elmer Fudd. In that July debut people also heard for the first time Bugs’s famous line, “What’s up, Doc?”

But today is the real anniversary of the creation of this character.  He first appeared on the theater short called as I noted above “Porky’s Hare Hunt.” Perhaps the reason people don’t recognize, or indeed want to credit him as that rabbit, is Bugs in that early cartoon was credited as Happy Rabbit. And admittedly it really looks pretty much like any rabbit save the smirking face, doesn’t it? Or does he? 

It’s been uploaded to YouTube so go watch it. It may not look like him but it acts like him and it sounds like him. Several sources state that Mel Blanc voiced him here but the cartoon itself has no credits.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 30, 1930 Bill Buchanan. A musician who was not a filker but might have been. Really. Truly. His most famous composition took place in 1956, when he and Dickie Goodman created the sound collage “The Flying Saucer”.  They then did “The Flying Saucer Goes West” which is a lot of fun. A short time later, they would do “The Creature (From A Science Fiction Movie)” / “Meet The Creature (From A Science Fiction Movie)”. With other collaborators, he did such works as “Frankenstein Of ’59/Frankenstein Returns”.  Checking iTunes, quite a bit of what he did is available. (Died 1996.)
  • Born April 30, 1938 Larry Niven, 84. One of my favorites author to read, be it the Gil Hamilton the Arm stories, Ringworld, Protector, The Mote in God’s Eye with Jerry Pournelle (The Gripping Hand alas didn’t work for me at all), or the the Rainbow Mars stories which I love in the audiobook version as you know since I wrote an essay on them. What’s your favorite Niven story? And yes, I did look up his Hugos. “Neutron Star” was his first at NyCon followed by Ringworld at Noreascon 1 and in turn by “Inconstant Moon” (lovely story) the following year at L.A. Con I,  “The Hole Man” (which I don’t remember reading) at Aussiecon 1 and finally “The Borderland of Sol” novelette at MidAmericaCon. He’s not won a Hugo since 1976 which I admit surprised me. 
  • Born April 30, 1968 Adam Stemple, 54. Son of Jane Yolen. One time vocalist of Boiled in Lead. (Which I just discovered has not released a recording in a decade. Damn.) He was the lead vocalist for Songs from The Gypsy which was based on The Gypsy, the novel written by Steven Brust and Meghan Lindholm. A truly great album.  With Yolen, he’s written the Rock ‘n’ Roll Fairy TalesPay the Piper and Troll Bridge which are well worth reading, plus the Seelie Wars trilogy which I’ve not read. He’s also written two Singer of Souls urban fantasies which I remember as quite engaging.
  • Born April 30, 1973 Naomi Novik, 49. She wrote the Temeraire series which runs to nine novels so far. Her first book, His Majesty’s Dragon, won her the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. She most deservedly won the Nebula Award for Best Novel for Uprooted which is a most excellent read. I’ve not yet read her Spinning Silver novelwhich won a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature, so opinions are welcome. She has a number of Hugo nominations starting at Nippon 2007 for His Majesty’s Dragon, then next at MidAmericaCon II for Uprooted, The Temeraire series at Worldcon 75. No wins yet which really, really surprises me. She’s twice been a finalist for Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book with A Deadly Education at DisCon III for  and this year at Chicon 8 for The Last Graduate.
  • Born April 30, 1982 Kirsten Dunst, 40. Her first genre role was as Claudio in Interview with the Vampire. Later genre roles include Judy Shepherd in Jumanji, voicing Christy Fimple in Small Soldiers, voicing Becky Thatcher in The Animated Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man franchise, voicing Kaena in Kaena: The Prophecy, and showing up on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Hedrilin in the “Dark Page” episode. She would have been nine years old in that episode!
  • Born April 30, 1985 Gal Gadot, 37. Wonder Woman of course in the DC film universe. Other genre work, well, other than voicing Shank on Ralph Breaks the Internet, there really isn’t any. She did play Linnet Ridgeway Doyle in the Kenneth Branagh production Death on the Nile which is quite lovely but not genre adjacent, but I really don’t mind as they’re lovely mysteries. Oh, and she’s playing The Evil Queen in the forthcoming Snow White film.
  • Born April 30, 2003 Emily Carey, 19. Yes, nineteen years old. She has had a lot of roles for her age. First she played the twelve-year-old Diana in Wonder Woman followed by playing  the fourteen-year-old Lara in the rebooted Tomb Raider.  And then she’s in Anastasia: Once Upon a Time in the lead role of Anastasia.  She’s Teen Wendy Darling in the forthcoming The Lost Girls. She was in the genre adjacent Houdini and Doyle as Mary Conan Doyle, and finally she’s in the not-yet-released G.R.R. Martin’s House of the Dragon series as the young Alicent Hightower. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) CHALK AROUND THE CLOCK. The Pasadena Chalk Festival returns June 18-19 at The Paseo.

The Pasadena Chalk Festival began in 1993 after a summer intern at the Light Bringer Project attended a street painting festival in Paris and brought back her amazing pictures and observations. The first “Chalk on the Walk” took place at Centennial Square at Pasadena City Hall with over 150 visual artists participating in the first Los Angeles-area event. All proceeds went toward community arts programs and HIV/AIDS resources.

In 2010, The Pasadena Chalk Festival was officially named the largest street painting festival by the Guinness World Record, welcoming more than 600 artists using over 25,000 sticks of chalk and drawing a crowd of more than 100,000 visitors in one weekend. 

Below is an hour-long video of last year’s Chalk Festival. And here is File 770’s roundup of sff art from the 2019 festival via Twitter.

(13) DON’T SAY PAY. The Florida legislature’s move to punish Disney for publicly opposing the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, also known as the “don’t say gay” bill fails to conform to other requirements of state law says the corporate giant: “Disney’s special tax district suggests its repeal is illegal” in the Miami Herald.

As Florida legislators were rushing through passage of a bill to repeal the special district that governs Walt Disney World last week, they failed to notice an obscure provision in state law that says the state could not do what legislators were doing — unless the district’s bond debt was paid off. Disney, however, noticed and the Reedy Creek Improvement District quietly sent a note to its investors to show that it was confident the Legislature’s attempt to dissolve the special taxing district operating the 39-square mile parcel it owned in two counties violated the “pledge” the state made when it enacted the district in 1967, and therefore was not legal. The result, Reedy Creek told its investors, is that it would continue to go about business as usual.

The statement, posted on the website of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board on April 21 by the Reedy Creek Improvement District, is the only public statement Disney has supplied since lawmakers unleashed their fury over the company’s vocal opposition to the “Parental Rights in Education” law, also known as the “don’t say gay” bill. The statement, first reported by WESH 2, quotes the statute which says, in part, that the “State of Florida pledges…it will not limit or alter the rights of the District…until all such bonds together with interest thereon…are fully met and discharged.”

… In essence, the state had a contractual obligation not to interfere with the district until the bond debt is paid off, said Jake Schumer, a municipal attorney in the Maitland law firm of Shepard, Smith, Kohlmyer & Hand, in an article for Bloomberg Tax posted on Tuesday and cited in a Law and Crime article.

The law passed by the Republican Legislature on a largely party-line vote, and signed into law by the Republican governor, either violates the contract clause of the Florida Constitution, or is incomplete, Schumer told the Herald/Times on Tuesday. If the Legislature wants to dismantle the Reedy Creek Improvement District, it has more work to do.

(14) FLY YOU FOOLS! J. Michael Straczynski would like to tell you about the worst musical he ever saw. Thread starts here.

(15) DO TOUCH THAT DIAL. Tor.com’s Robert Repino beggars the imagination by reminding readers about “Six Bizarro Made-for-TV SFF Movies That Actually Exist”. Such as —

Gargoyles (1972)

Not to be confused with the prematurely canceled ’90s cartoon of the same nameGargoyles starred B-movie tough guy Cornel Wilde (from The Naked Prey). The opening voiceover raises the stakes pretty high: In the aftermath of the war between God and Satan, a race of creatures climbs out of hell to terrorize mankind every few centuries. In the modern age, the gargoyles are relegated to myth and statues, leaving humans completely unprepared for their next onslaught.

Whoa. That sounds serious. Until you notice that the gargoyles reemerge in a desert that is surely within driving distance of the studio. And it takes only a handful of armed townsfolk to quell the apocalyptic uprising. But those minor details aside, this movie remains a guilty pleasure for my generation, in part because of the Emmy-winning makeup wizardry of Stan Winston. The gargoyles aren’t that scary, but they look pretty darn cool, and some of them even fly. And by “fly,” I mean “slowly lift off the ground with a barely concealed cable.”

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Alasdair Beckett-King meets the evil emperor, who wonders why the people don’t love him!

What do you do when you’ve seized power and/or purchased a large social media company? You monologue.

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

Pixel Scroll 3/26/22 How Can You Scroll In Two Pixels At Once When You’re Not Online At All

(1) FUTURE TENSE. “’Empathy Hour,’ a short story by Matt Bell” at Slate is the newest story in the Future Tense Fiction series from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives.

This week, like every week, it’s the theme song that calls you to attention, the music simultaneously jaunty, patriotic, inspirational, commanding. As the fade-in begins, the tune gives way to the whup-whup-whup of unseen rotors, the familiar sound preceding your first glimpse of a helicopter’s wash rippling the dark water surrounding a half-drowned house, where this week’s family balances awkwardly atop their roof’s wind-peeled slope, desperate for rescue: a mother, a father, two preteen daughters, and an especially attractive Australian cattle dog….

Bell’s story is followed by a response essay “What are we going to do with more than 200 million climate refugees?” by Tim Robustelli and Yuliya Panfil.

It’s already happening. Millions in low-lying Bangladesh are fleeing stronger cyclones and increased coastal flooding. After Hurricane Maria, thousands of Puerto Ricans have left behind their blue-tarped homes for the mainland United States. And farmers from the Sahel to Central America are abandoning their dried-up fields in droves.

The increasingly dire effects of climate change are resulting in unprecedented levels of displacement globally. And it’s going to get worse: The World Bank recently estimated that there could be more than 200 million “climate refugees” by 2050. Experts suggest that about one-quarter of them will move overseas, while the rest will migrate within their own countries.

What will happen to these migrants as they leave their homes and livelihoods, and how will their new communities receive them?…

(2) SMALL CRAFT WARNING. “Puppet Makers Rise Up Against the Puppet Masters” – and The Hollywood Reporter is on the front lines.

As they push for unionization, craftspeople at the The Jim Henson Company say they are treated as an underclass, subject to abuse and unsafe conditions: “The job of the wrangler is eating sh** and taking blame.”

… There are only about 25 people in the world who work as full-time wranglers — and they are currently seeking union representation, something that has eluded them since the job first emerged with the rise of Sesame Street and The Muppet Show in the late 1970s….

(3) PULLMAN QUITS AS SOA PRESIDENT. “‘I would not be free to express my opinion’: Philip Pullman steps down as Society of Authors president” – the Guardian has the story.

Philip Pullman has stepped down as president of the Society of Authors (SoA) after comments he made about Kate Clanchy’s controversial memoir, Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me. In a letter sent to the SoA’s management committee this month, the children’s author said he “would not be free to express [his] personal opinion” as long as he remained in the role.

Pullman, who will remain a member of the trade union’s council, came under fire last year when he spoke out in support of Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me, which was criticised for racial and ableist stereotyping. In response to a tweet that he incorrectly assumed was about Clanchy, Pullman, in a now-deleted tweet, said that those who criticised the book without reading it would “find a comfortable home in Isis or the Taliban”.

The SoA released a statement at the time distancing itself from Pullman’s comments, and Pullman later tweeted an apology for the harm he caused, saying criticism of Clanchy was “reasonable and balanced” and that people of colour “deserve every kind of respect”.

However, as the controversy around Clanchy continues – she and her publisher “parted ways” in January – Pullman clearly felt that he could no longer remain in his role….

(4) MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK. Another part of the story “J.K. Rowling hits back at Putin after he likened Russia to her in rant against cancel culture” that should have been mentioned here yesterday is how Rowling’s charity is doing matching donations in support of Ukraine.

…Rowling previously revealed that her children’s charity, Lumos, had been working with the Ukrainian government since 2013, and she launched a fundraising appeal the day after the Russian invasion to help “the thousands of children trapped by the fighting in Ukraine’s orphanages.”

“A reminder: I will personally match all donations to our emergency appeal, up to £1million ($1.3 million). If you’re able to, you can donate here. Again, thank you so very much to all who’ve already donated,” she tweeted Friday.

(5) WHO KNEW? Slate explains why “Cross-stitch stores disappeared after Etsy banned Russian sellers.”

Since Russia’s “special operation” began in Ukraine, Western brands have been exiting the country rapidly, making it much harder to find carsfurniturephones, and clothes. But the change has also affected more unexpected businesses. In early March, after PayPal announced shutting down its services in Russia, Etsy suspended Russian shops “due to expanding business restrictions, including multiple payment processors and credit cards ceasing operations in Russia.”

This is how many American fans of cross-stitch—a needle craft in which you stitch tiny X’s over and over to create a design on fabric—discovered that many of their favorite digital pattern designers are from Russia. Cross-stitchers will pay anywhere from about $3 for small, simple patterns to much more for large, complex designs, all of which can be downloaded instantly after purchase. They can also pay large sums for custom designs. After Etsy pulled the plug on Russia, shops with thousands of five-star reviews and large numbers of sales disappeared at once. “Did cross-stitch pattern makers go through a purge or something?” a Reddit user wondered. In a way, yes—and it’s a fascinating example of how even the digital supply chain can be concentrated in one geographic area….

(6) GARETH POWELL Q&A. FanFiAddict chatted with Gareth L. Powell, author of Stars and Bones.

Join FanFiAddict’s Adrian M. Gibson and author Gareth L. Powell for a chat about his new book Stars and Bones, its timely themes, the mentorship of Diana Wynne Jones and Helen Dunmore, paying it forward with a “field guide” on writing, the appeal of writing space opera and accessible sci-fi, social media and mental health and much more.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gareth L. Powell is a BSFA award-winning author who writes science fiction about extraordinary characters wrestling with the question of what it means to be human. This includes works like the Embers of War series, the Ack-Ack Macaque series, the novellas Ragged Alice and Light Chaser, the latter of which he wrote with Peter F. Hamilton, and more. His latest novel, Stars and Bones, is out now through Titan Books.

(7) WHO’S GOT NEXT? Bleeding Cool has a wonderful article tracing the decades-long history of fake Who news: “When British Tabloids Made Up Stories About The Next Doctor Who”.

…But secondly, this is what British tabloids do. And have done for decades. When it was announced that William Hartnell would no longer play The Doctor, the British press asked the question, just didn’t suggest they had the answers….

The speculation would only really begin with the departure of Tom Baker at The Doctor in 1980. Which was also the time that the suggestion first arose about a female Doctor Who. Clearly, the “woke” 1980 for you there….

(8) FOR BETTER OR MULTIVERSE. At CrimeReads, Josh Weiss recommends alternate history novels, mostly of the “Hitler Wins” variety.  “10 Must-Read Alternate History Thrillers”.

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Michael Chabon (2007)

This book was recommended to me by a friend in college. Hearing him describe the concept was a mind-blowing experience in and of itself. European-Jewish refugees settling Alaska at the outbreak of WWII? A thriving modern American town that speaks Yiddish? Ultra-Orthodox mafia bosses? This I had to see for myself….

(9) SWIFT WILL SPIN. “Tom Swift: The CW Confirms May Debut for ‘Nancy Drew’ Spinoff Series”Bleeding Cool describes the planned adaptation.

…’Tom Swift’ follows the serialized adventures of its titular character (Richards), an exceptionally brilliant inventor with unlimited resources and unimaginable wealth who is thrust into a world of sci-fi conspiracy and unexplained phenomena after the shocking disappearance of his father. Tom takes to the road on a quest to unravel the truth, leaving behind the comforts of his usual moneyed lifestyle while fighting to stay one step ahead of an Illuminati-scale group that’s hellbent on stopping him.

Ashleigh Murray plays Zenzi, Tom’s best friend, whose unabashed and unvarnished candor keeps him grounded while she forges a path for herself as a business visionary. Marquise Vilsón is his bodyguard Isaac, whose fierce commitment to his chosen family is complicated by his own simmering feelings for Tom. LeVar Burton voices Barclay, Tom’s AI, whose insights and tough love have been a constant throughout Tom’s life, Albert Mwangi is the mysterious and dangerous Rowan, who intersects Tom’s path with hidden motivations and undeniable mutual chemistry. Meanwhile, at home, Tom’s relationship with his mother Lorraine (April Parker Jones) becomes conflicted as she urges him to take his father’s place in elite Black society.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1989 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-three years ago, the Quantum Leap series premiered on NBC.

Created by  Donald P. Bellisario (Tales of The Golden MonkeyAirWolf), it starred Scott Bakula as the time-travelling Sam Beckett and the cigar chomping Dean Stockwell as his holographic contact from the future, Admiral Al Calavicci. The series would air on NBC for five seasons and a total of ninety-seven episodes, gaining a large following after a very mediocre start. 

So what was the reception for it at the the time? The New York Times liked it with these parting words: “Overall, ‘Quantum Leap’ has the distinction of being unpredictable, which is the last thing that can be said about the vast bulk of television series. And Mr. Bakula and Mr. Stockwell make the most of their leaping opportunities.” 

It has generated an immense fictional universe with at least twenty authorized novels to date (edited by Ginjer Buchanan!) and a universe of fan fiction, some that would make even Al turn red. There are non-fiction works such as The Making of Quantum Leap and Beyond the Mirror Image which was done as a Kickstarter endeavor. And Innovation Publishing did a thirteen-issue comic series as well. 

A sequel series coming on Peacock later this year is set thirty years after the original series ended and attempts to figure what happened to Sam Beckett. 

Quantum Leap has a stellar 97% rating by the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 26, 1924 Peter George. Welsh author, most remembered for the late Fifties Red Alert novel, published first as Two Hours To Doom and written under the name of Peter Bryant. The book was the basis of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. (Died 1966.)
  • Born March 26, 1931 Leonard Nimoy. I really don’t need to say who he played on Trek, do I? Did you know his first role was as a zombie in Zombies of the Stratosphere? Or that he did a a lot of Westerns ranging from Broken Arrow in which he played various Indians to The Tall Man in which at least his character had a name, Deputy Sheriff Johnny Swift. His other great genre role was on Mission: Impossible as The Great Paris, a character whose real name was never revealed, who was a retired magician. It was his first post-Trek series. He of course showed up on the usual other genre outings such as The Twilight Zone, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.The Outer Limits, Night Gallery and Get Smart. (Died 2015.)
  • Born March 26, 1942 Erica Jong, 80. Witches which has amazing illustrations by Joseph A. Smiths is very much still worth your time nearly forty years on. ISFDB also lists Shylock’s Daughter: A Novel of Love in Venice which is a time travel story but it certainly sounds more like a romance novel to me. 
  • Born March 26, 1950 K. W. Jeter, 72. Farewell Horizontal may or may not be punk of any manner but it’s a great read. Morlock Night, his sequel  to The Time Machine, is well-worth reading. I’ve heard good things about his Blade Runner sequels but haven’t read them. Opinions? And his wiki page says he coined the term “steampunk”. That so? 
  • Born March 26, 1953 Christopher Fowler, 69. I started reading him when I encountered his Bryant & May series which though explicitly not genre does feature a couple of protagonists who are suspiciously old. Possibly a century or more now. The mysteries may or may not have genre aspects (some such as Seventy Seven Clocks are definitely genre) but all are wonderfully weird. Other novels by him which I’d recommend are Roofworld and Rune which really are genre, and Hell Train which is quite delicious horror.
  • Born March 26, 1960 Brenda Strong, 62. First film genre appearance was on Spaceballs as Nurse Gretchen. The role you probably remember her was on Starship Troopers as Captain Deladier though post-death she shows up in Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation as Sergeant Dede Rake. She showed up on Next Gen as a character named Rashella in the “When the Bough Breaks” episode and she’s been a regular on Supergirl as Lillian Luthor.
  • Born March 26, 1966 Michael Imperioli, 56. Detective Len Fenerman in Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones and Detective Ray Carling, the lead in Life on Mars and Rosencrantz in a recent Hamlet.
  • Born March 26, 1985 Keira Knightley, 37. To my surprise, and this definitely shows I’m not Star Wars geek, she was  Sabé, The Decoy Queen, in The Phantom Menace.  Next up for her is Princess of Thieves, a loose adaptation of the Robin Hood legend. Now I didn’t see that but I did see her in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl as Elizabeth Swann. (She’s in several more of these films.) I saw her as Guinevere, an odd Guinevere indeed, in King Arthur. Her last role I must note was as The Nutcracker and the Four Realms in which she was the Sugar Plum Fairy! 

(12) NOT DEAD YET. The Comics Journal considers “The Strange Second Life of Legacy Comic Strips or: I Want Wilbur Weston Dead”.

…It was a bathetic end for a shlub of a man… or was it? Because only a few short days after Wilbur’s fall, [Mary Worth] readers were confronted with a single panel depicting a bedraggled, pink-shirted man, glasses still on his head and one shoe left on his feet, washing up on the shores of a desert island….

…“I WANT WILBUR WESTON DEAD” declared one reader, as if to will the outcome into the world. “We as a society need to organize a beach-storming on the scale of Normandy, all to ensure that Wilbur Weston remains dead,” offered another. Comics critic Tom Shapira put forward the still-intriguing hypothesis that Wilbur was about to undergo the origin story of a familiar DC Comics superhero. It was the brief, ephemeral, but powerful buzz of a minor comics Twitter zeitgeist, all of which led me to a single question: what in God’s name was going on here?…

…Mary Worth is therefore a prime example of what has been termed a legacy strip: a comic strip that has outlived (often literally) its original creators, and been passed along to new hands while maintaining continuity in syndication. Glance at the comic page of a daily print newspaper, if you can still find one, and you’ll see that the list is long and, arguably, ignominious: BlondieThe Family CircusHagar the HorribleThe Wizard of IdBeetle BaileyRex Morgan M.D. Not for nothing have these features been given the less charitable and more common description of zombie strips.

And yet: the Wilbur Weston episode intrigued me. Because if a strip like Mary Worth–a strip that, with one exception I’ll discuss a bit later, I had never had cause to consider anything more than an innocuous presence in my grandparents’ daily Los Angeles Times–could generate a week of Twitter conversation among pandemic-jaded millennials, then there was clearly some kind of life in this allegedly undead comic. I wanted to understand why this might have happened, and more than that, I wanted to know what Mary Worth’s current creators thought about it. So I asked them.

(13) ROSE AGAIN. Seventeen years ago today Doctor Who returned with the episode “Rose” on BBC One. Here’s a clip collage to help you celebrate.

(14) GROUNDBREAKING GROUND BEEF. Mashed remembers “Why Burger King’s ’70s Star Wars Promotion Was So Groundbreaking”.

… The relationship between the burger giant and the iconic media franchise goes back decades to when its original movie trilogy was released. According to Finance 101, the original “Star Wars” film (now referred to as “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope”) was released in 1977 and was the highest-grossing film of all time until “E.T.” — another iconic character from outside our world — came into the picture in 1982. Burger King then made its own groundbreaking move in connection with this first “Star Wars” movie. 

It may be hard to imagine a time when an onslaught of fast-food toy tie-ins seemingly accompanied the release of nearly every major animated motion picture. Yet according to Wide Open Eats, fast-food restaurants didn’t cross-promote movies prior to 1977, the year Burger King broke history by promoting “Star Wars.” The first-of-its-kind marketing strategy included “Star Wars” posters, stickers, and drinking glasses (via Fast Food Reference)…

(15) SPOT ON. They should end up with a better image as fire dogs instead of police dogs: “See ‘Spot’ Save: Robot Dogs Join the New York Fire Department” reports the New York Times.

… The Police Department cut short its contract with Boston Dynamics last April after critics raised concerns about privacy, data collection, aggressive police tactics and the generally dystopian vibes the robot gave off as it trotted through a public housing development during a hostage situation.

Fire officials and robotics experts say the way the department plans to use the robots might help reshape the perception of their use for public safety purposes.

At the command of a human operator, the device can provide vital information in the midst of a calamitous event. It has the ability to descend deep underground after a steam leak to collect images and data about dangerous debris. It can also be deployed moments after a building collapse to gauge structural integrity or measure the concentration of toxic, flammable gasses like carbon monoxide to better inform firefighters responding to the scene….

(16) SECOND STAGE LENSMAN. Filmmaking in Britain will continue to grow if the tax laws cooperate: “A Hollywood Production (Made in Liverpool)”  in the New York Times.

…The early “Star Wars” films and 10 years’ worth of Harry Potter movies helped Britain get here. Film productions were attracted by experienced labor and visual effects companies and, critically, generous tax breaks. In 2013, the incentives were extended to TV productions that cost more than £1 million per broadcast hour — so-called high-end TV series, like “The Crown” and “Game of Thrones.” In recent years, productions were offered a 25 percent cash rebate on qualifying expenditures, such as visual effects done in Britain. In the 2020-21 fiscal year, tax breaks for film, TV, video games, children’s television and animation exceeded £1.2 billion.

In Britain, film gets a level of government attention that other creative industries, such as live theater, can only dream of.

“I would not like to contemplate the loss of the tax incentive,” said Ben Roberts, the chief executive of the British Film Institute. Without it, Britain would become immediately uncompetitive, he added.

Most of the growth in production in Britain comes from big-budget TV shows, a staple of streaming channels. Last year, 211 high-end TV productions filmed in Britain, such as “Ted Lasso” and “Good Omens,” and fewer than half of them were produced solely by British companies, according to the British Film Institute. Compared with 2019, the amount spent jumped by 85 percent to £4.1 billion.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Says Sang Joon Kim, “Imagine if your life is stressed out now, but it would be much worse if everyone you run into is a pigeon!”

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

Pixel Scroll 2/26/22 Comments Have Spoken, Like The First Filing; Pixels Have Woken, Like The First Scroll

(1) HOW THE WEB MAKES CRIMINALS OF US ALL. The Guardian tells about the revamped Tolkien Estate website in “Unseen JRR Tolkien paintings, photographs and video clips released”. (Andrew Porter reminds us that the artwork in the article is not new.)

Unseen photographs and paintings of JRR Tolkien, the author of The Lord of the Rings fantasy books, have been released by the writer’s estate, along with draft manuscripts and letters.

Its website has been relaunched with new material, including sections on Tolkien’s calligraphy and a timeline of his life.

Audio recordings and video clips featuring both Tolkien, who died in 1973, and his son Christopher, who died in 2020, are among the new material.

The relaunch date of 26 February is significant in Tolkien lore because 26 February 3019 was the date in the Third Age when the Fellowship of the Ring was broken at Amon Hen and Frodo and Sam set out on their lonely and terrifying journey to Mordor.

Perusing the site’s “Frequently Asked Questions and Links” I discovered this jarring information:

Can I publish a Tolkien Fanzine?

The name TOLKIEN is a registered trademark and may not be used without permission. Unfortunately permission cannot be given for publications which use the name TOLKIEN or the Tolkien Estate’s Copyright Materials.

Are a lot of you faneds who don’t spell it T*****n hearing from lawyers?

(2) THEY’VE GOT THE DROP ON US. “Russia’s space chief responds to new sanctions by suggesting that the ISS would no longer be prevented from crashing into the US or Europe” – originally reported by Business Insider.

According to CNN, Biden further stated that the sanctions “will degrade (Russia’s) aerospace industry, including their space program.”… 

In response, Rogozin said on Twitter: “If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or Europe?” 

He added: There is also the option of dropping a 500-ton structure to India and China. Do you want to threaten them with such a prospect? The ISS does not fly over Russia, so all the risks are yours. Are you ready for them?” 

Rogozin also mentioned that the ISS’s location and orbit in space are controlled by “Russian Progress MS cargo ships.” 

NASA did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment made outside of normal working hours.

In a statement to Euronews, however, NASA said that it “continues working with Roscosmos and our other international partners in Canada, Europe, and Japan to maintain safe and continuous ISS operations.”

It added: “The new export control measures will continue to allow US-Russia civil space cooperation.”

(3) PURLOINED LETTER TECHNIQUE. Radio Times’ Sab Astley says this is the place to look for clues to Doctor Who’s next phase: “Doctor Who Russell T Davies teases from his book on writing”.

…Now, with Davies’ surprise return to Doctor Who looming, everyone is searching for potential clues as to RTD’s approach to his second run – and unusually, the acclaimed screenwriter might have already given us a pretty good idea of what he’s planning thanks to a little book called The Writer’s Tale.

The Writer’s Tale is a tome of correspondence between Davies and Doctor Who Magazine contributor Benjamin Cook, taking place over the pre-production of season 4 right up to the final shots of Tennant’s last special between 2007 and 2009…

The Next Doctor

14th Doctor speculation is currently at an all-time high, with names like Michael Sheen, Michaela Coel, T’Nia Miller and Olly Alexander mentioned. However, one name that hasn’t arisen, which might just be a strong contender to bet on: Russell Tovey.

Davies makes no secret of his love for Tovey, and in a discussion over potential 11th Doctor castings, RTD states that Tovey is “amazing – I think I’d make him the eleventh Doctor”. Since then Tovey has starred in Davies’ Years & Years, and currently all of his upcoming projects are in post-production – making it the perfect time for RTD to nab Tovey if he so wishes.

Alternatively, if we look at Davies’ choice of actors in the years since The Writer’s Tale, the choice becomes clear: Lydia West. She’s clearly a favourite of RTD’s, starring in both Years & Years and It’s A Sin, and could follow in Jodie Whittaker’s footsteps as a female Doctor (and the first ‘lead’ Doctor to be played by a Black actor, though Jo Martin’s Fugitive Doctor technically got there first).

Altogether, based on RTD’s creative patterns and the insight of The Writer’s Tale it seems Russell Tovey or Lydia West are strong options for the 14th Doctor. However, there is a third possibility – the return of David Tennant…..

(4) FUTURE TENSE. “Good Job, Robin”, JoeAnn Hart’s short story about love, earth, and eating crickets, is this month’s installment of Future Tense Fiction, a series from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination published on Slate.

Ahimsa waves an elbow at me, keeping her hands firmly cupped. “Isaura! Look!” She shouts to be heard over my earplugs, and I panic thinking she’s woozy again. But no, she only wants to show me something. I lean across the sorting table to look, and with a smile she opens her tawny hands like a flower, just enough so I can peek inside. Two stamens wiggle in the darkness.

Not stamens. Antennae. Out come the earplugs. “It’s just a cricket, Ahimsa. One of a billion crickets under this dome, every one of them chirping like an insect possessed.”…

Christy Spackman, an expert on the future of food, responds to JoeAnn Hart’s story in “Crickets could be the food solution that saves us all.”

…The first time I seriously considered crickets as the food of the future was in late 2015 during a presentation by undergraduates. Their policy proposal outlining how the adoption of insect protein in the Los Angeles Area could help insulate the region from some of the impacts of climate-change included a tasting of a recent-to-market, paleo-friendly, cricket-based protein bar. As I sunk my teeth into the slightly gummy, peanut-buttery bite being passed around the classroom, my mind flashed between the grim food futures presented in science fiction novels and the much smaller collection of hopeful fiction portrayals of delicious future feasts. What is it about our contemporary anxieties that makes it so easy to imagine such dystopic food futures?…

(5) HEAPS OF FUN. The New York Times’ A.O. Scott considers how successive American generations have different ways of arriving at the same destination — mortality: “Shelf Life: Our Collections and the Passage of Time”.

…The things you loved when you were young will never be able to make you young again. The reluctant acceptance of this fact is the source of nostalgia, a disorder that afflicts every modern generation in its own special way. Members of Generation X grew up under the heavy, sanctimonious shadow of the baby boom’s long adolescence, among crates of LPs and shelves of paperbacks to remind us of what we had missed. Just as baby boomers’ rebellion against their Depression- and war-formed parents defined their styles and poses, so did our impatience with the boomers set ours in motion. But I’m not talking so much about a grand narrative of history as about what Aksel might call the useless stuff — the objects and gadgets that form the infrastructure of memory….

Every cohort has these. A CD in a plastic jewel box is not intrinsically more poetic than a vinyl LP in a cardboard sleeve. On the internet and in television shows like “PEN15,” a robust millennial nostalgia fetishizes AOL chat rooms, Dance Dance Revolution, Tamagotchis and other things that I was already too old for the first time around. Gen Z will surely have its turn before long, even if its characteristic cultural pursuits don’t seem to be manifested in physical objects….

(6) SLF GRANT NEWS. The Speculative Literature Foundation has announced the final two winners of the SLF Convention Support Grants.

Over the course of the year we gave out $10,000, in grants of $500 – $1000 each, to science fiction and fantasy conventions.

These grants are intended to support conventions both in developing their online presences (through the purchase of tech, training costs, hosting costs, etc.) and making in-person gathering safer once it’s appropriate. Read on for more information about how each convention will use the funding.

WisCon is a feminist science fiction and fantasy convention held annually in Madison, Wisconsin. Founded in 1976 as the world’s first feminist speculative fiction convention, it has since grown into a robust and dedicated community of fans, artists, and scholars. The convention is hosted by the Society for the Furtherance and Study of Fantasy and Science Fiction a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization in Madison, Wisconsin, which aims to create a safe and inclusive environment for everyone.

WisCon will use the grant funds to cover the costs of equipment and equipment rental to make their con more accessible.

The Outer Dark Symposium on the Greater Weird is a progressive speculative fiction conference that focuses on contemporary Weird fiction. The con actively seeks to create spaces that allow for the kinds of conversations and connections that chart the future of boundary-breaking speculative fiction, as well as being an inclusive, safe and welcoming place for women, LBGTQ+, and writers of color. To meet this mission, they consider each dimension of access (fiscal, disability, equity, etc) with care to inform every decision they make, from where programming is accessed to how it’s structured.

A key focus for their 2022 convention is making sure they have easily accessible virtual spaces, as well as safe future events during the pandemic, which includes travel, catering, and technology costs that they anticipate will increase significantly this year.

(7) GAIMAN ADAPTED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Behind a paywall in the Financial Times, Nilanjana Roy reviews Chivalry, a graphic novel written by Neil Gaiman and drawn by Colleen Doran and based on a short story from Gaiman’s collection Smoke And Mirrors.

[Colleen Doran’s] stunning artwork turns Arthur’s knight into the kind of dashing, courtly hero who is obliged to seduce a maiden.  Doran’s illustrations, drawing from a soft palette of blues, pinks, and greens that flare unto sudden glorious bursts of crimson and gold at need, are what will make Chivalry a perennial Christmas gift.  Famous Authors are often at risk of having their old work briskly repackaged by clever marketing departments but Doran, a Gaiman fan since her youth has, for complicated rights reasons, waited over two decades to work on this short story…

,,,The question as to whether a single short story taken from a far more varied fantasy collection is satisfying as a standalone graphic novel remains.  Certainly,Gaiman and Doran’s book feels too slight on its own to measure up to the best of Gaiman’s output.  Still, Chivalry reminds you that, some days, all you need is to believe in impossible quests.

(8) UNDERSTANDING OCTAVIA BUTLER. “Black History Month: Octavia Butler’s sci-fi dystopia still relevant”USA Today profiles the author.

…Butler rose to prominence in the traditionally white bastion of science fiction. She was the first to write about prominent Black characters in science fiction settings, using dystopias, time travel and other tropes. 

Science-fiction author Nisi Shawl recalls meeting the “Kindred” author in 1999 during a convention in Seattle when she was tasked with writing a profile on Butler. The two became acquainted and a friendship later blossomed in 2002. 

“One thing that she really instilled in me was the idea that you should write about things that bring up strong emotions in you, things that you fear, things that you loathe, things that you cherish, but things that you are passionate about in one way or another,” Shawl tells USA TODAY, adding that Butler inspired her to write the short story “Momi Watu.” …

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2007 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Barbara Hambly, one of my favorite writers of horror, has won two Lord Ruthven Awards (1996 and 2007) given by the Lord Ruthven Assembly, a group of scholars specializing in vampire literature who are affiliated with the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. 

Those Who Hunt in The Night, the first in the excellent John Asher series, won the Locus Award for Best Horror Novel.

I’m also very impressed of her two novelizations done for one of my favorite tv series, Beauty and the Beast and and Beauty and the Beast: Song of Orpheus as it’s hard to write material off those series that’s actually worth reading.  She wrote three Trek novels and several Star Wars too but I’ve not read them. 

And yes, there’s lots about her writing career I’ve not included here so feel free to tell me what you think I should have mentioned. 

Barbara Hambly

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 26, 1908 Tex Avery. An animator, cartoonist, director and voice actor beyond compare. Without him, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and Porky Pig would not have existed. Avery’s influence can be seen in Animaniacs and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. (Died 1980.)
  • Born February 26, 1918 Theodore Sturgeon. Damn, I hadn’t realized that he’d only written six genre novels! More Than Human is brilliant and I assumed that he’d written a lot more long form fiction but it was short form where he excelled with more than two hundred such stories. I did read over the years a number of his reviews — they were quite good. (Died 1985.)
  • Born February 26, 1945 Marta Kristen, 77. Kristen is best known for her role as Judy Robinson, one of Professor John and Maureen Robinson’s daughters, in  the original Lost in Space. And yes, I watched the entire series. Good stuff it was. She has a cameo in the Lost in Space film as Reporter Number One. None of her other genre credits are really that interesting, just the standard stuff you’d expect such as an appearance on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
  • Born February 26, 1948 Sharyn McCrumb, 74. ISFDB lists all of her Ballad novels as genre but that’s a wee bit deceptive as how genre-strong they are depends upon the novel. Oh, Nora Bonesteel, she who sees Death, is in every novel but only some novels such as the Ghost Riders explicitly contain fantasy elements.  If you like mysteries, all of them are highly recommended.  Now the Jay Omega novels, Bimbos of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool are genre, are great fun and well worth reading. They are in print and available from the usual suspects which is interesting as I know she took them out of print for awhile. 
  • Born February 26, 1957 John Jude Palencar, 65. Illustrator whose artwork graces over a hundred genre covers. In my personal collection, he’s on the covers of de lint’s The Onion Girl and Forests of the Heart (one of my top ten novels of SFF), Priest’s Four & Twenty Blackbirds and Le Guin’s Tehanu: The Last Book of EarthseaOrigins: The Art of John Jude Palencar is a perfect look at his work and marvelous eye candy as well.
  • Born February 26, 1958 Karen Berger, 64. She created the Vertigo imprint at DC,  and served as the line’s Executive Editor for a decade. Some of my favorite works there are Fables, Hellblazer, Preacher, 100 Bullets and V for Vendetta. She currently runs Berger Books, an imprint of Dark Horse Comics.
  • Born February 26, 1965 Liz Williams, 57. For my money, her best writing by far is her Detective Inspector Chen series about the futuristic city Singapore Three, its favorite paranormal police officer Chen and his squabbles with an actual Chinese-derived Heaven and Hell. I’ve read most of them and recommend them highly. I’m curious to see what else y’all have read of her and suggest that I read.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) 45TH BIRTHDAY ISSUE OF 2000 AD. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week the 45th birthday issue of 2000 AD is out. It includes a zarjaz strip of the Command Module droids travelling through the thrillverse collecting 2000 AD characters to help Tharg compose a birthday hit single. It also features the start of a new Judge Dredd story that teases that the Judges are trying to silence someone who claims to have a secret concerning the truth of Judge Dredd!

Splundig!

(13) I SEE BY YOUR OUTFIT THAT YOU ARE A COWBOY. Kevin Standlee says Westercon 74 sent out the following announcement to its members today regarding COVID-19. The short version:

Vaccination required

Masks required

For the long version, click here – “COVID-19 Health and Safety Policy”.

As a reminder, the 2022 Westercon will be held in Tonopah, Nevada from July 1-4.

(14) PURINA BAT CHOW. “Doorbells, chicken and special edition biscuits: why are The Batman’s tie-ins such a joker?” asks the Guardian. “Someone on the merchandising team is working overtime to turn the serious new Robert Pattinson movie into Sonic the Hedgehog.”

…Then there is all the food. The Oreos we have covered; they have a picture of Batman’s face on them, because we all know that nothing is more delicious than wolfing down an effigy of agonising mental torment. Papa John’s is also in on the act. Its pizzas currently come in commemorative The Batman boxes (because who doesn’t love using used food receptacles as keepsakes?) and there is also a new side – black ghost chilli chicken wings – that also apparently have something to do with Batman. Meanwhile, in the US, Little Caesars has made a “calzony” (a kind of folded pizza) that’s shaped like the Batman logo, allowing customers to grab themselves a slice of gooey, unresolved trauma.

Caffè Nero has subverted the pattern a little by focusing on the Riddler. It has launched a new hot chocolate, with a mysterious new flavour. If you can guess the flavour – which is to say, if you can stomach spending your money on a product that for the purposes of suspension of disbelief was designed by a nightmarish BDSM goblin – you can win a trip to a theme park.

Again, I’m barely touching the sides here….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Dream Foundry has shared the Flights of Foundry 2021 panel “Making Your Reader Hungry: Food in SFF” with Nibedita Sen and Shweta Adhyam, moderated by Cora Buhlert. (Watch the video at the link.)

For a long time, speculative fiction rarely engaged with food. Over on the science fiction side of the fence, protagonists lived on food pills or ordered “Tea, Earl Grey, hot” from the replicator, while fantasy characters subsisted on the ubiquitous stew and quaffed tankards of ale. However, this has changed in recent times and now detailed food descriptions are a lot more common in SFF. Nor are we just seeing only stereotypical western and American food anymore, but also dishes from non-western cuisines and food traditions. This panel will discuss how food is portrayed in science fiction and fantasy and how this parallels real world developments, whether it’s meal replacement products like the unfortunately named Soylent or trends like pandemic baking.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/31/22 But It Is The Plotted Truth, That Really Drives You Insane! Let’s Scroll The Pixel Again!

(1) THE BROKEN MIRROR OF NOSTALGIA REFLECTS A FRACTURED PAST. [Item by Olav Rokne.] At the Escapist, possibly my favorite film critic Darren Mooney offers trenchant analysis on the recent phenomena of movies paying homage to previous works that were widely disliked when they first came out. In essence, he suggests that there may be a collective yearning for an imagined halcyon past that never really existed in the first place. “Phantom Menace & ASM: Why Are We Nostalgic for Things We Hate?”

Nostalgia isn’t memory. In many cases, what is being evoked in these nostalgic franchise extensions isn’t anything resembling reality or history, but instead an imagined object. This often involves a crass distortion of the original object, in order to flatter the presumed audience.

(2) YOUNG PEOPLE. James Davis Nicoll has the Young People Read Old SFF panel opine about Vonda McIntyre’s “Wings.” It was a very well-received story five decades ago, however, the reception comes with a bit of static now.

Although it has not been often reprinted, Vonda N. McIntyre’s 1973? “Wings” seems to have struck a chord with fans and fellow professionals. ?“Wings” was nominated for both a Hugo and a Nebula, losing the first to Le Guin’s ?“The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” and the second to Tiptree’s ?“Love Is the Plan the Plan Is Death”. ?“Wings” is one of two stories about an alien race whose name for themselves is never given. Their world dying, the species launches a generation ship for another star. 1974’s ?“The Mountains of Sunset, the Mountains of Dawn” details how the great migration played out. ?“Wings”, in contrast is focused on events on the dying homeworld, and the relationship of two persons there….

(3) FIYAH GRANTS OPEN. FIYAH Literary Magazine is accepting applications for grants to assist Black writers of speculative fiction in “defraying costs associated with honing their craft.” Three $1,000 grants will be distributed annually as part of Juneteenth every year. Applications for the Rest, Craft, and Study grants are being accepted through May 15, 2022. There also are two other grants. All the grants are limited to prose writers for now. [Via Tor.com.]

The Rest Grant — $1,000

The FIYAH Rest Grant is for activists and organizers with a record of working on behalf of the SFF community, but who are in need of respite or time to recommit to their personal projects. Application materials include a 1-2 page personal statement on one’s history of work or ongoing projects on behalf of an inclusive SFF space.

 Study Grant — $1,000

This grant is to be used for defraying costs associated with attending workshops, retreats, or conducting research for a writing project. Application requirements include proof of acceptance to a workshop or retreat (where applicable),  a 1-page description of the work requiring research, and a 3k-word writing sample.

Craft Grant — $1,000

This grant is awarded based on a writer’s submitted WIP sample or project proposal, in the spirit of assisting with the project’s completion. Application requirements include a 5k-word writing sample, a 1-page proposal or synopsis of the project in question, and an introductory document detailing your goals for the project after completion.

Two emergency grants of $500 will be awarded, in March and October.

Emergency Grant — 2x $500

This is a needs-based grant to assist Black SFF writers with emergency financial circumstances which may be interfering with their ability to write. Emergency circumstances may include but are not limited to threat of eviction, payment of school fees, compromised or destroyed equipment, injury, travel for family care-taking in a time of crisis, or disaster or medical related relief. The Emergency Grant is awarded biannually, once in March and once in October. Application requirements include a 1-page statement detailing the nature of the emergency need for funds and intent for its use.

There is also –

Editorial Grant

The FIYAH Editorial Grant is intended as a stipend for Black editors who have been accepted for an unpaid editorial internship or fellowship at a publishing house or literary agency in 2022-23. Application requirements include a personal statement detailing your editorial experience (or lack thereof) as well as your focus for your professional development and career going forward as an editor, agent, or other industry professional. A detailed critique of a SFF novel or novella you’ve read in the last 12 months is also required. Use the button below to access the application form.

This grant was made possible by a sponsorship from Sydnee Thompson.

Applicants for any FIYAH Grant must be 18 years of age by June 19th of the application year, and writers of speculative fiction. In addition:

FIYAH Grants, like our other submissions, are open to Black people of the African Diaspora. This definition is globally inclusive (Black anywhere in the world) and also applies to mixed/biracial and Afro-appended people regardless of gender identity or orientation.

(4) MAUS CREATOR COMMENTS ON BAN. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Art Spiegelman about the recent efforts to ban MAUS. Spiegelman says he is happy that “the book has a second life as an anti-fascist tool.”  The hardcover of MAUS is currently #3 on Amazon and two paperback editions are in the top 10. “Art Spiegelman, ‘Maus’ author, sees the book’s Tennessee school ban as a ‘red alert’”.

…The 10-member board in McMinn County chose to remove “Maus” from its eighth-grade language arts curriculum, citing its profanity and nudity. Now the New York-based author is sifting through the minutes of the board’s Jan. 10 meeting, trying to make some sense of its decision to target the graphic memoir, which previously has been challenged in California and banned in Russia. [Spiegelman’s] conclusion: The issue is bigger than his comic book.

In the current sociopolitical climate, he views the Tennessee vote as no anomaly. “It’s part of a continuum, and just a harbinger of things to come,” Spiegelman says, adding that “the control of people’s thoughts is essential to all of this.”

As such school votes strategically aim to limit “what people can learn, what they can understand and think about,” he says, there is “at least one part of our political spectrum that seems to be very enthusiastic about” banning books.

“This is a red alert. It’s not just: ‘How dare they deny the Holocaust?’ ” he says with a mock gasp. “They’ll deny anything.”…

(5) LOCKED STAR MYSTERY. James Davis Nicoll tells his Tor.com audience about “Five Flawed Books That Are Still Worth Rereading”. One of them is —

Sundiver by David Brin (1980)

…Modern readers will likely find Sundiver (the novel, not the spacecraft in the novel) a bit too much of its era; not in a good way. The treatment of women in this novel makes it obvious that the novel was published closer to the midpoint of the 20th century than to today. The “uplift” which gives Brin’s series its name involves a combination of genetic manipulation and selective breeding, though the humans in the novel decry the way senior galactic patrons treat their servant races. As to the science: Brin, even at the time, must have known that cooling lasers could not work as he has them work in the book. Too bad that many readers must have accepted this as science fact.

However! The novel in hand is not the grand-scale space opera one might expect. It’s a murder mystery on an isolated space craft. It just so happens that I am, in addition to being an SF fan, am also a fan of murder mysteries set in isolated locations. Sundiver was an engaging example of the form—it is hard to get more isolated than a location within the Sun….

(6) FREE BOOK UPCOMING. One of the three books Team File 770 advanced to the finals of the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition will be available free over the next few days. Martin Reed’s novel The Hammond Conjecture will be on free book promotion on Amazon from February 1-5.

(7) EARLY CINEMATIC VAMPIRE. Dutch fantasy writer Remco van Straten has dug up a Dutch vampire movie from 1919 called “Vampire: the Scourge of Amsterdam (1919)”.

 As I looked through the Dutch newspaper archive for information on Nosferatu‘s Dutch premiere for a blog post, I stumbled upon something that I, fairly knowledgeable on horror film history, didn’t know about: an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula was produced in the Netherlands in 1919, a full three years before Murnau made Nosferatu in 1922!…

(8) FANCAST DOUBLE-DIP. Cora Buhlert has posted a double Fancast Spotlight for The Dickheads Podcast (as in Philip K. Dick) and Postcards from a Dying World“Fancast Spotlight: The Dickheads Podcast and Postcards from a Dying World”.

Tell us about your podcast or channel.

I am involved in two fancasts. First and foremost is The Dickheads Podcast. We are in the 5th and maybe the final year of covering all of Philip K. Dick’s books in publication order. He has over forty novels published and at the time of this interview, we are about to record A Scanner Darkly the novel released in 1977….

On my own, I do a podcast called Postcards from a Dying World. In this show, I do whatever I want…. 

(9) THE PATTON OF SPACE FORCE. Season 2 of Space Force (dropping February 18 on Netflix) has a future where Patton Oswalt is an astronaut but the New York Jets are STILL terrible!

(10) HOLGER M. POHL OBIT. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] German SFF writer, editor and fan Holger M. Pohl died unexpectedly aged 63.

Pohl was a German SFF writer, editor and columnist for the fanzine Fantasyguide. He was the author of Arkland, a fantasy novel inspired by the sword and sorcery of the 1960s and 1970s,and contributed to the multi-author space opera series Die Neunte Expansion and Rettungskreuzer Ikarus. With Dirk van den Boom he co-wrote the space opera novel Welt der Sieben Ebenen. He was a common sight at German cons and beloved member of the German SFF community. I only met him once at the Dublin Worldcon. Very nice guy.

Here are some German-language obituaries: Markus Mäurer, “Holger M. Pohl – Ein Nachruf” at Translate or Die (the blog’s actual name); Dirk van den Boom, “Holger M. Pohl ist tot” at SF Boom; and the fanzine Fantasyguide where he had a regular column. 

(11) MEMORY LANE.

1966 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Fifty-six years at Tricon where Isaac Asimov was Toastmaster, Roger Zelazny’s This Immortal would win the Hugo for Best Novel in a tie with Frank Herbert’s Dune. It was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in October and November 1965, in 1966 by Ace Books, in 1967 by UK publisher Hart-Davis in hardcover, and later by the SF Book Club with a Richard Powers cover. Three other works were nominated: John Brunner’s The Squares of The City, Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress which would win this Hugo the next year at NYCon 3 and Edward E. Smith’s Skylark DuQuesne.

(12) TODAY’S DAY.

January 31: National Gorilla Suit Day. 

Mad Magazine artist Don Martin created the idea of National Gorilla Suit Day for a 1963 comic strip in which a character mocks the holiday and is then assaulted by gorillas and people in gorilla suits. Since that time, the holiday has been semi-celebrated every year by fans of Mad Magazine and Don Martin by dressing up in a gorilla suit.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 31, 1921 John Agar. Between the early Fifties and the Sixties, he appeared in many SFF films such as The Rocket ManRevenge of the CreatureTarantulaThe Mole PeopleAttack of the Puppet PeopleInvisible InvadersDestination SpaceJourney to the Seventh PlanetCurse of the Swamp CreatureZontar: The Thing from Venus, Women of the Prehistoric Planet and E.T.N.: The Extraterrestrial Nastie. Love that last title! (Died 2002.)
  • Born January 31, 1937 Philip Glass, 85. 1000 Airplanes on the Roof: A Science Fiction Music-DramaEinstein on the BeachThe Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (with a libretto by Doris Lessing based on her novel of the same name), The marriages between zones three, four, and five (libretto by Doris Lessing, after her second novel from Canopus in Argos), The Witches of Venice and The Juniper Tree would be a very fragmentary listing of his works that have a genre underpinning. I’m very, very fond of the latter two works. 
  • Born January 31, 1960 Grant Morrison, 62. If you can find it, his early stuff on such U.K. publishers as Galaxy Media and Harrier Comics is worth searching out. Not your hero in tights materials at all. For his work in that venue, I’d recommend his run on The Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul, all of his Doom Patrol work (and the HBO Max series is based on his work and is quite spectacular), Seven Soldiers and The Multiversity which is spectacularly weird. 
  • Born January 31, 1962 Will McIntosh, 60. Best known for the  dozens of short stories he’s written that have been published in magazines including Asimov’s, InterzoneLightspeed and Strange Horizons. He won a Hugo for his short story “Bridesicle“ at Aussiecon 4.
  • Born January 31, 1968 Matt King, 54. He’s Peter Streete in the most excellent Tenth Doctor story, “The Shakespeare Code”. His other genre performances are Freeman in the superb Jekyll, Cockerell in Inkheart based off Caroline Funke’s novel of that name, the ghost Henry Mallet in Spirited and Clyde in the recent maligned Doolittle.
  • Born January 31, 1973 Portia de Rossi, 49. She first shows up as Giddy in Sirens which would I’d stretching things to even include as genre adjacent but which is definitely worth watching. For SFF roles, she was in Catholic Church tinged horror film Stigmata, musical Zombie comedy Dead & Breakfast and werewolf horror Cursed. She was Lily Munster in the delightfully weird Mockingbird Lane pilot that never went to series. 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) FUTURE TENSE. The January 2022 story in the Future Tense Fiction series, a monthly series of short stories from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives, is “If We Make It Through This Alive,” by A.T. Greenblatt, a story about a cutthroat future road race, the climate crisis, the ability/disability continuum, and much more.

Slate published the story along with a response essay by Damien P. Williams, a scholar of technology and society. “How heeding disabled people can help us survive the climate crisis.”

Aliza Greenblatt’s “If We Make It Through This Alive” is an immediately engaging story, but the deeper in you get, the more is revealed. And one of the starkest but most subtly played revelations comes near the very end, when the audience is confronted with twin harsh truths: Disabled and otherwise marginalized people are least often thought of when planning for the future—and what disabled people know from their experience of living in this world likely makes them better prepared than nondisabled people to survive whatever comes next….

(16) BLACK PANTHER HISTORY. As Black History Month approaches, Marvel is taking fans on a historical journey, uncovering the evolution of Marvel’s first Black superhero: T’Challa, the Black Panther. Marvel Entertainment and SiriusXM will launch their latest original unscripted podcast series, The History of Marvel Comics: Black Panther, on Monday, February 14.

The six-episode documentary podcast, hosted by New York Times best-selling author Nic Stone (“Shuri,” “Dear Martin”), explores the comic book origins of the Black Panther through conversations with the creators who shaped T’Challa’s journey, celebrates the innately Afro-Futuristic world of Wakanda, and analyzes the larger social impact of the character.

The History of Marvel Comics: Black Panther brings writers, artists, and historians together to share a story that only Marvel can tell. The show features exclusive interviews with notable talent including Brian Stelfreeze, Christopher Priest, Don McGregor, Joe Quesada, John Ridley, John Romita Jr., Reginald Hudlin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and more.

The show explores some of Black Panther’s most pivotal moments including Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s 1966 debut of the character at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, his continued evolution through the birth of the Black Power Movement, his time with the Avengers and of course, the launching of  Black Panther’s adventures.

The series will initially be available exclusively on the SXM App and Marvel Podcasts Unlimited on Apple Podcasts. Episodes will be widely available one week later on Pandora, Stitcher, and all major podcast platforms in the U.S. Learn more at siriusxm.com/blackpanther.

(17) PITCHLESS MEETING. Mad Genius Club’s Dave Freer pretty much doesn’t watch TV and rarely sees a movie, which isn’t a problem except in this one way — “Every word you say…”

…It’s a curse because the right way to do elevator pitches to editors was to describe your book as like X movie or TV series, meets Y movie or TV series. Mary Poppins meets Die Hard and have a bastard love-child would be about my level… but I have actually heard it done, with movies I had never heard of (I am sure everyone else had). The Movie/TV tropes and references were plainly so much easier for both the author and the editor, than book ones. It is also plainly popular with readers, who, it seems know much more about movies than I do….

(18) ROAD TRIP! “NASA Vet and Space Mogul Aim to Build 97% Cheaper Space Station” at MSN.com.

…If Michael Suffredini is to get the price tag of the first private space station down to $3 billion — compared with the $100 billion it cost to build the International Space Station — the CEO of Houston-based Axiom Space has some decisions to make about what to outsource and what to build in-house.

… Axiom has tripled its headcount at its 14-acre Houston headquarters to 392, and will aim to get to 600 in the coming year. Recent hires include Tejpaul Bhatia, who helped build the startup ecosystem for Google Cloud, as chief revenue officer.

In order to make money, Axiom will also offer space tourism, though it says most of its revenues would eventually come from companies and industries taking advantage of a microgravity environment. U.K.-based studio Space Entertainment Enterprise, which is producing Tom Cruise’s upcoming space movie, announced on Jan. 20 a deal with Axiom to build an in-orbit studio.

Axiom slated its first entry to space for February, but recently moved it to March 31, due to additional spacecraft preparations and space-station traffic. For its first mission to the ISS in March, the crew includes American real estate mogul Larry Connor, Canadian entrepreneur Mark Pathy and Israeli tycoon Eytan Stibbe. The trip is costing each of them $55 million, according to Ghaffarian. It would be the first private astronaut mission in which the transportation vehicle is also private, according to NASA’s Hart. Axiom contracted SpaceX for the launch, and has become the biggest private client of Elon Musk’s space startup with four missions contracted. SpaceX did not immediately reply to a request for comment….

(19) LOOK, UP IN THE SKY! Space.com reports “The James Webb Space Telescope’s 1st target star is in the Big Dipper. Here’s where to see it.”

…Now that JWST has reached its final destination in space, the mission team is getting the next-generation space telescope prepped for observations. A bright point like HD 84406 provides a helpful target by which the team can align JWST’s honeycomb-shaped mirrors and to start gathering engineering data, according to the tweet….

(20) THE PLAY’S THE THING. [Item by Michael Toman.] Would any other theaterphile Filers also appreciate the opportunity to see this free performance of Jeton’s “The Department of Dreams”? Maybe with a small donation?

The world premiere of Department of Dreams by Kosovar playwright Jeton Neziraj at City Garage, November – December 2019. In this nightmarish, Orwellian comedy an autocratic government demands its citizens deposit their dreams in a central bureaucratic depository so that it can exert the fullest possible control of their imaginations. Dan, a new hire for the prized job of Interpreter, sift patiently through the nation’s dreams looking for threats to the government’s authority.  but finds nothing is as it seems except the authority he serves.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Olav Rokne, Cora Buhlert, Lise Andreasen, Joey Eschrich, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]

Pixel Scroll 12/18/21 It Was Anti-Agathics All Along

I’ve been hammering at the keyboard on one thing and another since this morning’s WSFS business meeting. Thanks to Cat Eldridge, who’s the reason there’s something to read in today’s Scroll!

(1) COVER YOUR EXPANSE. An Expanse-themed ugly sweater (really not a sweater, more of a jersey but anyway) is being raffled off for charity by the authors. Get a $5 ticket here: “The Expanse Ugly Sweater Charity Raffle Ticket”. Tickets will be on sale through December 22, 2021, at 10:00 p.m. US Central Time.

During the most recent Expanse press event in Los Angeles, Wes was given this limited-edition ugly and amazing sweater. In the spirit of the season of giving, Ty and That Guy are raffling it off to give back to the community.

Supporting Families

In honor of the classic Christmas movie Die Hard and the importance it places on family during the holidays, Ty and That Guy are putting all the money raised from this raffle to sponsor a family this year.

Community Brickworks is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization staffed entirely by volunteers that operates a food pantry and library in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia. The Ty & That Guy donation will support one or more families in the area this holiday season.

(2) 2023 WORLDCON DECIDED. Chengdu, China will host the 2023 Worldcon. Kevin Standlee’s photo of their version of Progress Report Zero is below. So is SFW’s congratulatory banner. (Click on either for a larger image.) File 770’s report of the voting and 2023 guests of honor is at the link.  

(3) GETTING READY. Cora Buhlert allowed File 770 to preview the gown she will be wearing as she participates virtually in tonight’s Hugo Awards ceremony as a finalist. Her dad took the photo.

(4) FAN SERVICE. Screen Rant is prepared to tell you “Every Sci-Fi Icon Who Guest Starred On The Big Bang Theory”.

…A good portion of Big Bang Theory‘s millions of fans likely are said geeks, considering just how many sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book icons were brought on to guest star.

This, unsurprisingly, included multiple cast members from both the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises, generally considered the two champions of mainstream sci-fi. Sadly, Harrison Ford was never among that lot, as seeing him play off his generally grumpy public persona when dealing with Sheldon being annoying would’ve been terrific. Still, the sci-fi icons Big Bang Theory did manage to enlist the services of include some of the biggest genre names ever….

…[Levar] Burton’s Star Trek: The Next Generation colleague Brent Spiner – who played Lieutenant Commander Data – also appeared on Big Bang Theory, in season 5’s “The Russian Rocket Reaction.” Spiner attends a party thrown by another former co-star in Wheaton, and notably, when Sheldon shows up, he and Wheaton finally mend fences. That’s followed by Spiner accidentally putting himself on Sheldon’s enemies list….

(5) SFF AND THE REAL WORLD. Future Tense’s Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club has selected Infomocracy by Malka Older to discuss virtually on February 2, 2022.

Science fiction can have real policy impacts, and comes rife with real-life commentary. For the third gathering of our Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club, we have selected Malka Older’s Infomocracy. The novel imagines a future where politics has become both simplified and infinitely more complex, thanks to the omniscient Information, which has led the transition from warring nation-states to a seemingly tidy form of corporate-ish global micro-democracy. 

Join Future Tense and Issues in Science and Technology at 6pm ET on February 2nd to discuss the novel and its real-world implications. The book club will feature breakout rooms (they’re fun and stress-free, we promise) where we can all compare notes and share reactions, even if we didn’t finish the book!

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1968 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fifty three years ago, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang premiered. It was directed by Ken Hughes. The film was produced by Albert R. Broccoli of James Bond fame.

The screenplay was co-written by Roald Dahl and  Hughes as rather loosely based on Ian Fleming’s Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car novel. (If you want to read it, it is available at the usual suspects at a quite reasonable price.) The novel was published in 1964 after a few months after his death.The book became one of the best selling children’s books of the year. 

Broccoli was initially not enthusiastic about it but changed his mind after the success of Mary Poppins. The film had a cast of Dick Van Dyke, Sally Ann Howes, Benny Hill, James Robertson Justice, Adrian Hall, Heather Ripley, Lionel Jeffries, Robert Helpmann, Barbara Windsor and Gert Fröbe.

The film’s songs were written by the Sherman Brothers, who had previously composed the music for Mary Poppins

Critics loved with Roger Ebert saying that “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang contains about the best two-hour children’s movie you could hope for.” The box office however was an absolute disaster as it only made eight million on the budget of ten million that it cost to produce. Ouch. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a rather excellent seventy-one percent rating.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 18, 1913 Alfred Bester. He’s best remembered perhaps for The Demolished Man, which won the very first Hugo Award. I remember experiencing it as an audiobook — a very spooky affair! The Stars My Destination is equally impressive with Foyle both likeable and unlikable at the same time. Psychoshop which Zelazny finished is in my library but has escaped reading so far. I’ve run across references to Golem100 but I’ve never seen a copy anywhere. Has anyone read It?  (Died 1987.)
  • Born December 18, 1939 Michael Moorcock, 82. Summing up the career of Moorcock isn’t possible so I won’t. His Elric of Melniboné series is just plain awesome and I’m quite fond of the Dorian Hawkmoon series of novels as well.  Particular books that I’d like to note as enjoyable for me include The Metatemporal Detective collection and Mother London. Interestingly he was a nominated a number of times for a Hugo for Best Professional Magazine for New Worlds SF, his other Hugo nomination was at IguanaCon II for Gloriana, or, The Unfulfill’d Queen.
  • Born December 18, 1941 Jack C. Haldeman II. He’d get Birthday Honors if only for On the Planet of Zombie Vampires, book five of the adventures of Bill the Galactic Hero, co-written with Harry Harrison. He’d also get these honors for chairing Disclave 10 through Disclave 17, and a Worldcon as well, Discon II. He was a prolific short story writer, penning at least seventy-five such tales, but alas none of these, nor his novels, are available in digital form. His only Award is a Phoenix Award which is a lifetime achievement award for a SF professional who has done a great deal for Southern Fandom, quite a honor indeed.  (Died 2002.)
  • Born December 18, 1946 Steven Spielberg, 75. Are we counting Jaws as genre? I believe we are per an earlier discussion here. If so, that’s his first such genre work followed immediately by Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Between 1981 and 1984, he put out Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Twilight Zone: The Movie and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. He’d repeate that amazing feat between ‘89 and ‘93 when he put out Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Hook (YEA!) which I both love followed by Jurassic Park which I don’t. The Lost World: Jurassic Park followed starting a string of so-so films,  A.I. Artificial IntelligenceMinority ReportWar of the Worlds and one decided stinker, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.   The BFG is simply wonderful. And I want one of the better Iron Giant figures on the market! 
  • Born December 18, 1953 Jeff Kober, 68. Actor who’s been in myriad genre series and films including VThe Twilight ZoneAlien Nation, the Poltergeist series,The X-Files series, Tank Girl as one of the kangaroos naturally, SupernaturalStar Trek: VoyagerStar Trek: Enterprise, Kindred: The Embraced and The Walking Dead. 
  • Born December 18, 1954 Ray Liotta, 67. We could just stop at him being Shoeless Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams, don’t you think of it as being an exemplary genre cred? Well I do. On a much sillier note, he’s in two Muppet films, Muppets from Space and Muppets Most Wanted. On a very not silly note, he was Joey in Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.
  • Born December 18, 1968 Casper Van Dien, 53. Yes, Johnny Rico in that Starship Troopers. Not learning his lesson, he’d go on to film Starship Troopers 3: Marauder and the animated Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars. Do not go read the descriptions of these films!  (Hint: the former has a nineteen percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.) He’d also star as Tarzan in Tarzan and the Lost City, show up as Brom Van Brunt In Sleepy Hollow, be Captain Abraham Van Helsing In Dracula 3000, James K. Polk in, oh really CasperAbraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter sequels, Rumpelstiltskin in Avengers Grimm and Saber Raine In Star Raiders: The Adventures of Saber Raine.

(8) SIGNING ON. Paul Weimer admired the good taste of people in line for Martha Wells’ autograph.

(9) BIGGEST FAN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, David Betancourt interviews Tom Holland about Spider-Man:  No Way Home. He notes that Holland will play Fred Astaire in an upcoming film, “a role he thinks he convinced producer Amy Pascal that he was right for when he would tap-dance on the Spider-Man set to stay warm between takes,” “Tom Holland is still a Spider-Man fan at heart”.

… Back then, when the highly anticipated trailer for “Captain America: Civil War” debuted to celebrate Spider-Man’s arrival in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Holland figured nothing would surprise him. Then Spider-Man blinked.

That subtle CGI movement of the eyes on his mask looked like a camera lens zooming in and out.It was inspired by the character’s original look in the comic books — and was designed to show the film was sprinkling the character with a bit of MCU magic. Holland, a lifelong Spider-Man fan who also happened to be Spider-Man, was caught up in the hype….

(10) ANOTHER BRIDGE TO CROSS. Comicbook.com has the photo: “The Orville Season 3 First Look Released”.

Hulu has provided The Orville fans with the first look at the show’s return as The Orville: New Dawn. That new subtitle comes as The Orville becomes a streaming original on Hulu, leaving its broadcast home, FOX, behind. It’s been a long wait, but The Orville fans can finally start counting down the weeks. The new image shows several returning characters: Capt. Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane, series creator), Cmdr. Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki), and Lt. Gordon Malloy (Scott Grimes), and Isaac (Marc Jackson) at their posts on the ship’s bridge. Recurring guest star Admiral Halsey (Victor Garber) is also present.

(11) FUZZY MEMORY. MeTV asks if you “Ever wonder why the women on ‘Star Trek’ appear out of focus?” Learn more about Classic Trek’s cinematographer at the link.

… The soft focus was often paired with romantic, swooning music. While the crew members were shot heroically in blazing light and sharp focus, love interests, on the other hand, looked more like watercolors. To achieve the effect, thin layers of plastic, or diffusion filters, were placed before the lens for those shots. No, as far as we know, Vaseline was not smeared on the lens. The technique came to be known as “The Gaussian Girl,” named for the Gaussian blur. …

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Kevin Standlee, Sheila Addison, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern, who says the key is in this YouTube video.]

Pixel Scroll 11/29/21 Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Read Me, When I Pixel Scroll?

(1) GET AN EARFUL. Today File 770 partnered with AudioFile Magazine to unveil “AudioFile’s 2021 Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Audiobooks”. Here is the link to the complete AudioFile Magazine – Best Of 2021 list.

We love hearing a good story well told, and we know that you do, too: the comfort and intimacy of a voice in your ear, the pleasure of being completely swept up in a narrative. That’s why, every December, we are so glad to celebrate audio excellence by selecting AudioFile’s Best Audiobooks. Thank you to all of the narrators, directors, producers, and publishers who filled our year with good listening.

(2) A PAY SERVICE NIXES DISCON III. “WeChat Restrictions, We Tried, We Really Tried” says DisCon III:  

“We have had to remove WeChat as a payment option. Due to their restrictions on charitable giving, we are unable to use WeChat services at this time. Our tech team is working to find a workaround to help overseas fans who want to pay using WeChat. That said, all of our other avenues are still available, and there’s still time to join us at DisCon III. Please visit our member services page to purchase your membership.” said Mary Robinette Kowal, Chair of DisCon III. 

(3) ON BROADWAY. [Item by Daniel Dern.] The opening of (Marvel) Hawkeye (new TV series) includes Clint “Hawkeye” Barton (and his 3 kids) going to a performance of Rogers The Musical (note that the signage looks very Hamiltonian), and we get to, delightfully, see about half of “I Can Do This All Day” about the NYC invasion, in the first Avengers movie.

Here’s one of many articles on this, including an audio with the full lyrics:  “Hear Hawkeye’s Rogers: The Musical song, and how Marvel pulled it off” at Polygon.

… Written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, who have collaborated on other Broadway musical adaptations like Hairspray and Catch Me If You CanRogers is the MCU’s latest attempt to reminisce over past battles with a wink and nod. A little like the scene in Loki where the God of Mischief finds Infinity stones being used as paperweights, the silliness of Rogers asks the audience if they can remember what all the fuss was about….

(4) HE GAVE IT A SPIN. Camestros Felapton says “The Wheel of Time adaptation is looking good”.

…A strong cast gives the characters more weight and also pushes them closer to how Jordan intended them to be (from context) rather than how they come over in the books. Nynaeve in particular is clearly meant to be a strong-willed character in the books but comes over as just whiny and annoying (your impression may differ) in Jordan’s dialogue. However, the show’s Nynaeve is a really compelling character played by New Zealander Zoë Robins, full of intensity and suspicion of what she (correctly) perceives as a hostile world….

(5) FUTURE TENSE. The November 2021 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is “Ride,” by Linda Nagata, a story about climate, public transportation, and AI in Hawaii.

 …The boy waved at them, then turned again to Jasmine. “Give it a try,” he exhorted her in a conspiratorial whisper. “Promise you will?”

Those eyes.

Her smile brightened. She didn’t want to disappoint those eyes. So she played along, teasing, “I might.” And maybe she really would. It was just a little game, after all….

It was published along with a response essay by cities and transit journalist Henry Grabar: “What if an All-Knowing Algorithm Ran Traffic and Transit?”

I like to think of myself as deeply skeptical of the many internet algorithms telling me what I want and need. I turn off targeted advertising wherever I can. I use AdBlock to hide what’s left. Most of my YouTube recommendations are for concerts or sports highlights, but I know I’m just a few clicks away from a wild-eyed influencer telling me to gargle turpentine for a sore throat. Twitter trending topics? I regret clicking immediately.

But I make an exception for the sweet, all-knowing embrace of the Spotify algorithm, to whom I surrender my ears several times a day. This software doesn’t just know my taste in music better than my friends; it acts on it, with chains of songs that build off things that I know I like, or forgot I did….

(6) HARLAN IN THE WILDERNESS. Stephen Bowie interviewed Harlan Ellison in 1996 about his early days writing for television: “Harlan Hits Hollywood” at The Classic TV History Blog.

…I was going to ask you if you remembered watching “Memos From Purgatory” when it was first broadcast, but perhaps you don’t, since it wasn’t actually the first one.

It’s a moderately funny story about what happened the night it aired.  I was living in Beverly Glen, in this little treehouse. The television set that I had was a real small TV, with rabbit ears, and the antenna was up the side of the mountain behind the house.  I mean this house, literally and actually, sat half on a rock ledge and the other half sat in the crotch of a gigantic banyan tree. It was raining that night, it was raining terribly. And the antenna, which was up the hill – rabbit ears down in the house and an actual antenna up on the hill; I mean, there was no cable – well, the antenna fell over.  

I had invited all these people to come and see the show, and we couldn’t get any reception.  So a friend of mine volunteered to go up, and he put on my raincoat, and he stood up there in the pounding rain, a really torrential downpour.  He stood up there holding the fuckin’ antenna up. And I was kind of, you know, upset that he was up there, not to mention that there were cougars or mountain cats – really, there were catamounts or cougars or whatever the fuck they are – up there running loose, because it’s all watershed land.  And I was terrified that he was going to get eaten, or washed away, or drowned, or fall off the mountain, or something. So about midway through I went up and I took his place. And I came back drenched, soaking wet, I looked like a drowned rat, and everybody was raving about this thing, and I had only seen about half of it….

(7) DRAGON IT OUT. A new book says “George R.R. Martin flew to New York to ‘beg’ an HBO executive to make ‘Game of Thrones’ 10 seasons long, according to his agent” reports Yahoo!

HBO’s hit series “Game of Thrones” came to an end in 2019 with two shortened seasons, which brought the total to eight seasons and 73 episodes. But the story’s original creator, the author George R.R. Martin, pushed for up to 10 seasons and 100 total episodes, according to a new book.

New accounts of Martin’s wishes can be found in a book titled “Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers” by the journalist James Andrew Miller.

Miller, who conducted 757 interviews for the book, spoke with Martin, Martin’s agent, Paul Haas, and Richard Plepler, HBO’s former CEO.

“George would fly to New York to have lunch with Plepler, to beg him to do ten seasons of ten episodes because there was enough material for it and to tell him it would be a more satisfying and more entertaining experience,” Haas told Miller.

(8) IN XANADU. Henry Farrell points to the availability of the video of a panel he was on with Paul Krugman, Ada Palmer, Noah Smith, and Jo Walton. And he has a few more things he’d like to say in his post “The Future Finds Its Own Uses for Things” at Crooked Timber.

So this event on the relationship between social science and science fiction went live late last week. It has Paul Krugman, Ada Palmer, Jo Walton, Noah Smith and … me. I’ve been wanting to say something a little bit more about this relationship for a while. Here is one take, which surely misses out on a lot, but maybe captures some stuff too.

…The Hume quote captures a particular – and very common – way of thinking about the world. It suggests that beneath the vast procession of history, the extraordinary profusion of ways in which human beings organize their society, their politics and their economies, lies a hidden and coherent unity. He emphasizes “the constant principles of human nature” – other social scientists have other notions about what the underlying unity involves and entails. But from this perspective all the ways in which things are different across time and space are really illustrations of how they are really deeply the same. This is a powerful lens for understanding the world and perhaps changing it.

When Marco Polo counters Kublai Khan, he points towards quite the opposite phenomenon; how an apparent unity -an abstract of plane forces – can be opened up to disclose the quiddity of things. A chessboard is a plane divided into sixty-four squares – yet it is also something physical, made out of joined-together pieces of wood, each with its own history. The apparently all encompassing abstract unity conceals a world of variation. Unless you understand how the squares were formed – a year of drought; a frosty night; a caterpillar’s appetite; you cannot understand how the chessboard came to be as it is.

It is a little too simple to say that social science is on Hume’s side of the dialectic, while science fiction is on Marco Polo’s. What makes more sense, I think is that very good social scientists and very good science fiction writers each work the tensions between the two understandings of the world, more from the one side than the other….

(9) NAME YOUR PRICE. Filer Jane Sand’s novelette “Not Poppy Nor Mandragora” is in the newly released Fusion Fragment issue #9. The publishers invite readers to “download Fusion Fragment #9 for free or pay what you want!”

(10) CIRCUMNAVIGATING THE SPOILERS. I say, this Ars Technica article gives away the entire story, never mind spoilers! “David Tennant makes a dashing Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days preview”. It wasn’t easy to find an excerpt that didn’t blab some important part!

…Verne’s story, in turn, inspired the late 19th-century journalist Nellie Bly to make her own world tour, completing the trip in 72 days. She even met Verne in Amiens and wrote her own bestselling book about her adventures. Monty Python alum Michael Palin made the charming TV travelogue, Around the World in 80 Days with Michael Palin, in 1988, detailing his recreation of Fogg’s journey, without resorting to airplanes….

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2002 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Nineteen years ago on NBC, It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie first aired. It was the first film to be made for television by The Muppets franchise. It was directed by Kirk R. Thatcher (in his feature directorial debut though he earlier been hired by Nimoy to associate produce the Conspiracy ’87 Hugo-nominated Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) and written by Tom Martin and Jim Lewis.

It starred the usual Muppet puppeteers (Steve Whitmire, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta and Eric Jacobson) plus a number of human guests: David Arquette, Joan Cusack, Matthew Lillard, William H. Macy and Whoopi Goldberg. Executive producers Juliet Blake and Brian Henson, though the actual producers were Martin G. Baker and Warren Carr. 

This is also the final Muppets production from the Jim Henson Company, as The Muppets were in their final years of ownership by the Henson family before being sold to Disney in 2004.

Critics were generally very impressed by this film with such comments as the Canadian Movie News saying it “is a medley of familiar Christmas classics such as It’s a Wonderful LifeA Christmas Story and The Grinch, amongst others, with a distinct Muppet spin.” Interestingly audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes were less impressed giving a mediocre fifty-one percent rating. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 29, 1898 C S Lewis. I first encountered him when reading The Screwtape Letters in University. I later read of course The Chronicles of Narnia which I found most excellent though I’ll admit that I’ve not read his Space Trilogy. (Died 1963.)
  • Born November 29, 1910 Kendell Foster Crossen. He was the creator and writer of the Green Lama stories.  The character was a Buddhist crime fighter whose powers were activated upon the recitation of the Tibetan chant om mani padme hum. He also wrote Manning Draco series, an intergalactic insurance investigator, four of which are can be found in Once Upon a Star: A Novel of the Future. The usual suspects has a really deep catalog of his genre work, and the Green Lama stories have been made into audio works as well. (Died 1981.)
  • Born November 29, 1918 Madeleine L’Engle. Writer whose genre work included the splendid YA sequence starting off with A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels: A Wind in the DoorA Swiftly Tilting PlanetMany Waters, and An Acceptable Time. One of her non-genre works that I recommend strongly is the Katherine Forrester Vigneras series. She has a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 29, 1950 Peter Hooten, 71. He played the title character in the late Seveties Dr. Strange film, well before the present MCU film reality existed. His other genre appearances are all in definitely low-grade horror films such as OrcaHouse of Blood and Souleater. And one Italian film that had so many name changes that I’d accused it of name laundering, including 2020 Texas Gladiators
  • Born November 29, 1955 Howie Mandel, 66. He was the voice of Gizmo in Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch. His longest voice acting gig was on the Muppet Babies where he did a lot of different voices, and he voiced Sam-I-Am in In Search of Dr. Seuss which is not nearly as serious as it sounds.
  • Born November 29, 1969 Greg Rucka, 52. Comic book writer and novelist, known for his work on Action ComicsBatwoman and Detective Comics. If you’ve not read it, I recommend reading Gotham Central which he co-created with Ed Brubaker, and over at Marvel, the four-issue Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra which he wrote is quite excellent as well. I’ve read none of his novels, so will leave y’all to comment on those. He’s a character in the CSI comic book Dying in the Gutters miniseries as someone who accidentally killed a comics gossip columnist while attempting to kill Joe Quesada over his perceived role in the cancellation of Gotham Central.
  • Born November 29, 1976 Chadwick Boseman. Another death that damn near broke my heart. The Black Panther alias Challa in the Marvel metaverse. The same year that he was first this being, he was Thoth in Gods of Egypt. (If you’ve not heard of this, no one else did either as it bombed quite nicely at the box office.) He was Sergeant McNair on Persons Unknown which is at least genre adjacent I would say.  And he even appeared on Fringe in the “Subject 9” episode as Mark Little / Cameron James. (Died 2020.)

(13) IT’S NOT SURPRISING. “‘The Simpsons’ Tiananmen Square Episode Missing From Disney+ Hong Kong; Discovery Leads to Censorship Concerns” reports Deadline.

An episode of The Simpsons during which the family visits Tiananmen Square is missing from Disney+’s Hong Kong platform.

Episode 12 of season 16 was found today to be absent from the streamer’s catalogue in the nation, having launched in Hong Kong earlier this month.

The episode features the family going to China to try to adopt a baby. At one point, they visit Tiananmen Square, which was the site of a deadly crackdown in 1989 against democracy protestors. A satirical sign in the cartoon square reads “On this site, in 1989, nothing happened.”

At time of publication, it is not clear whether Disney+ removed the episode or was ordered to by the authorities and Disney has not responded to requests for comment.

The discovery will lead to further concerns over censorship in Hong Kong….

(14) D&D DIVERSITY. “‘A safe haven’: how Dungeons & Dragons is slaying social anxiety” – the Guardian runs the numbers.

… Since its inception in the mid-1970s, the tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) has brought together a far more diverse array of players than its stereotypes suggest. Earlier this year, the game’s publisher, Wizards of the Coast, released a report showing that, of its estimated 50 million players, 54% were younger than 30 and 40% identified as female. What it didn’t reveal was the rise in visibility of queer and neurodiverse players.

…For people such as Shadia Hancock, the founder of advocacy group Autism Actually and Dungeon Master to a group of young neurodiverse players, the therapeutic potential of the game has always been clear.

“It’s about creating a sense of community,” Hancock says. “I work out the players’ expectations at the beginning of a game. Some get really into creating their characters, some are more interested in finding items and exploring the world, others are really interested in how the characters met. We all have a mutual love of gaming, but we all want something different from the session.”

Some characteristics expressed by some of Hancock’s players – social anxiety, increased empathy, difficulty adapting to change, feeling overwhelmed in noisy environments – have become familiar to many Australians in the wake of lockdowns. Studies cited by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found reported levels of social anxiety increased over the past two years among all age groups, with young neurodiverse Australians even more likely to have experienced a decline in wellbeing.

“While other people are excited about going out, I’m filled with dread,” Hancock tells me. “With Covid, we [autistic communities] had all these sudden changes, often with short notice, and there was this need to constantly adapt to new rules. Not knowing what is coming up is really anxiety-inducing. During the pandemic, that became a shared experience.”

(15) NEXT TIME, TAKE THE TRAIN. John Holbo’s “The Ones Who Take the Train to Omelas” is adorned with a big Omelas-themed travel poster (which you can see at the link.)

*Confused? This page contains a parody of a famous story, “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas”, by Ursula K. Le Guin. I’d point you to it, but there are no versions legally free on the web. Buy a book! Read Wikipedia. If you are somehow here about the BTS song – sorry, I don’t know about that. (But with half a billion hits, somebody probably does.)

I’ve written notes on my take on Le Guin. An essay! That’s here

Also, once I made the graphics I tossed ’em on Redbubble. Forgive me. It seemed funny.

“I incline to think that people from towns up and down the coast have been coming in to Omelas during the last days before the Festival on very fast little trains and double-decked trams.”

– Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas”

(16) DS9 ON NFT. Voice actor Joshua Martin put together a parody video where Deep Space Nine’s “Quark and Odo discuss NFTs and Crypto Currency”. There’s also a Twitter thread that starts here.

(17) I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM. SlashFilm reveals “This Is What You’re Really Hearing When R2-D2 Screams In Star Wars”.

…One fateful moment of stress managed to help define a character through more than four decades and nine movies in the Skywalker saga — and counting.

(18) STAND BY TO ENTER HYPE-SPACE. Gizmodo’s Rob Bricken pans Disney World’s effort to sell people on its new theme hotel: “Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser Hotel Preview Looks Unimpressive”.

If you’ve been slavering for your chance to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to head to Walt Disney World’s upcoming Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser experience, might I suggest you towel off your chin for the time being? Disney has released a video preview of some of what awaits families who come aboard the Halcyon, and it doesn’t look particularly enticing.

The first thing you should know about this video is that it stars Disney Parks Imagineer Ann Morrow Johnson and The Goldbergs’ sitcom actor Sean Giambrone. The two take a very short tour of the Starcruiser, but instead of them just talking like normal people about what people who come to the Halcyon can expect, it’s scripted and painfully unfunny. You’ve been warned. But this video also raises an important question, which is: Disney wants $6,000 for this?

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Danny Sichel, Jayn, Bill, Joey Eschrich, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]

Pixel Scroll 10/30/21 I Never Meta Pixel I Couldn’t Scroll

(1) SEEMS I’VE HEARD THAT SONG BEFORE. “’Metaverse’ creator Neal Stephenson reacts to Facebook name change”Axios asked what he thought about the Zuckerberg announcement.

How do you feel about a storyline that you wrote in “Snow Crash” now turning into our potential global future?

It’s flattering when readers take the work seriously enough to put their own time and money into bringing similar ideas to fruition. After all the buildup in the last few weeks, the Meta announcement has a ripping-off-the-bandaid feeling.

Almost since the beginning of the genre, science fiction writers have occasionally been given credit for inspiring real-life inventions, so this is not new and it’s not unique. I was aware of that fact thirty years ago when I wrote “Snow Crash,” but I didn’t necessarily expect it to happen.

Good science fiction tries to depict futures that are plausible enough to seem convincing to the readers — many of whom are technically savvy, and tough critics.

So when depicting a future technology in a work of science fiction, you have to make it plausible. And if it’s plausible enough, it can be implemented in the real world.

(2) FUTURE TENSE. The series of short stories from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination continues with “Furgen,” a new short story by Andrew Silverman, about a retriever, his owner, and his A.I.-enabled minder.

Caro had only once before felt such elation from a text alert, and that was when she first got Tucker in the mail. She ordered him from an exclusive breeder in Tokyo, of all places. She remembered she was watching videos of puppies learning to swim when her phone buzzed, followed by a message stating that Tucker, her beautiful new retriever, had just arrived on her doorstep. She shrieked with glee, ran outside to the porch, and opened up the hole-punched box containing the love of her life.

Today, six months into puppy parenting, Caro’s phone buzzed again, interrupting her usual stream of puppy content, to notify her that Furgen A.I. 2.0© had finally arrived….

There’s also a response essay by Clive D.L. Wynne, author of Dog Is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You.

It doesn’t take any special technology to see that dogs love people. Hildegard von Bingen, in the 11th century, noted that “a certain natural community of behavior binds [the dog] to humans. Therefore, he responds to man, understand him, loves him and likes to stay with him.” It could fairly be said that, like Othello, dogs love not wisely, but too well. Their loyalty to our capricious species has seen dogs led into wars, ill-fated Arctic expeditions, and many other tragic misadventures.

But are there limits on dogs’ capacity for love?…

(3) WFC 2021 ANNOUNCES DAY MEMBERSHIPS. World Fantasy Convention 2021 in Montréal will be selling day memberships. See more information at their website. The prices in Canadian dollars are:

  • Thursday  $75
  • Friday      $100
  • Saturday $100
  • Sunday      $50

World Fantasy Convention 2021 will be held at the Hotel Bonaventure Montréal from November 4-7.

(4) KEEP PUTTING ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF ANOTHER. At Eight Miles Higher, Andrew Darlington delves into the history of the UK’s most long-lived prozine: “SF Magazine History: ‘INTERZONE’”.

In terms of simple longevity, ‘Interzone’ must be credited as Britain’s most successful SF magazine ever. In January 1991 it comfortably coasted past the forty-one issue limit achieved by ‘Nebula’. Then by August 1994, it surpassed the eighty-five editions of ‘Authentic Science Fiction’. Leaving ‘Science Fantasy’ in its wake, until eventually, by the July-August 2009 issue, through stealth and persistence, it finally outdistanced the 222 incarnations of ‘New Worlds’. Nothing can now compete with that total. And throughout that regularly-spaced life-span, unlike the bizarre array of relaunches, rebirths and reconfigurations that characterized its predecessors, ‘Interzone’ has retained its recognizable appearance on the newsagent’s shelf as a reassuringly attractive glossy A4 magazine. 

(5) TWELVE-BODY SOLUTION. “The Three-Body Problem Casts 12 Stars, Including Two ‘Game of Thrones’ Alums” reports Tell-Tale TV. Twelve cast members are named at the link.

Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss didn’t wind up making their Star Wars movie, but the duo is working on a new science-fiction series for Netflix: The Three-Body Problem

…According to Deadline, the show has begun casting, announcing 12 stars for the upcoming series. Among them are two Game of Thrones alums: John Bradley and Liam Cunningham…. 

With actors hailing from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a number of popular films, it seems The Three-Body Problem will have a fairly recognizable cast. The creators haven’t revealed who’s playing who, but further updates should be on the horizon.

(6) NIGHT LIFE IN SANTA FE. There will be “A Night of Wild Cards!” at G.R.R. Martin’s Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe, NM on November 13 at 4:00 p.m. – ticket info at the link.

Have you been touched by the Wild Card?

Spend an evening with authors George R.R. Martin, Melinda Snodgrass, and John Jos Miller as they speak about the Wild Cards Series, up coming projects, and remember fellow author and friend, Victor Milan.

Help us celebrate the life of Victor Milan, the release of “Turn of the Cards” in Trade Paperback, and “Death Draws Five” in Hardcover!

The Jean Cocteau is also a place where you can see Dune, the “Once-in-a-generation film,” as it was meant to be seen — on the big screen with a specially handcrafted cocktail in your hand.

(7) SIT DOWN, JOHN. In Debarkle Chapter 70, Camestros Felapton tells how the sf field finally said out loud they were ready for “Life After Campbell”.

…Torgersen’s Sad Puppies 3 slate and been something of a last hurrah for Analog at the Hugo Awards, with four Analog stories becoming finalists on the strength of the Puppy campaigns. Torgersen also included Kary English on the slate due to their common connection with Writers of the Future. No Writers of the Future from a year after 2015 would be a finalist again in the following years nor would any story from Analog make it onto the ballot…

(8) TURN AND RETURN. Boston University humanities professor Susan Mizrouchi on what caused Henry James to be interested in the supernatural and write The Turn Of The Screw. “On Spiritualism and the Afterlife in Henry James’ Turn of the Screw” at CrimeReads.

…Like many contemporary intellectuals, William and Henry took ghosts seriously. They were friendly with Frederic W. H. Myers, who headed the Society for Psychical Research, and Henry was recorded in the minutes of a society meeting in London reading a report on behalf of his absent brother about a female medium who was occasionally overtaken by the spirit of a dead man. Society researchers sought positivistic evidence of ghosts and provided a steady stream of testimonies for public consumption. These accounts of specter sightings, which numbered in the thousands, were in turn avidly consumed by readers, who couldn’t get enough of them.

The James brothers’ views on ghosts were rooted in contemporary science, and also in their personal convictions about the fate of consciousness after death. Having enjoyed such fertile minds, and interacted with so many others, neither could accept that these vital organs would simply expire with the body…. 

(9) DETERMINED COLLECTOR. “Holy bikini-clad Batwoman! Archive saves Mexico’s scorned popular films” – the Guardian tells how they did it.

… Had they not been rescued from a dusty storehouse seven years ago, the original negatives of hundreds of Mexican movies featuring the likes of the silver-masked crime-fighting wrestler El Santo, a bikini-clad Batwoman and the Satan-worshipping Panther Women would have been lost forever.

Salvation came in the form of Viviana García Besné, a film-maker, archivist, self-described “popular film activist” and descendant of Mexico’s cinematic Calderón clan…. 

“I thought the best, and most obvious, thing would be to send them all to the big film institutions in Mexico,” she says. “I told them about this marvellous collection of films, photos and paperwork, and thought they’d all jump for joy. But they were like, ‘We’ll have that, and maybe that, but not that.’”

Unwilling to split up the collection – “It’s the work of a company that began in 1910 and made films until 1990; that’s 80 years of cinema history,” she says – García Besné decided to hang on to it all and to embark on a quest to rescue and reappraise Mexico’s cine popular.

Her Permanencia Voluntaria (Double Feature) archive, which has extended beyond the Calderón collection and now holds some 400 films, is being showcased in Madrid this month in a season at Spain’s national film archive, the Filmoteca Española.

Despite the archive’s growing international reputation – it has restored 10 films over the past four years, and the collection is housed between the Mexican town of Tepoztlán and the UCLA film archive and the Academy film archive in Los Angeles – its genesis and survival have been far from easy….

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1987 – Thirty-four years ago, The Hidden premiered. Directed by Jack Sholder and produced by committee as it had three producers (Michael L. Meltzer, Gerald T. Olson and Robert Shaye). It was written by Jim Kouf (under the pseudonym Bob Hunt. Kouf being an Edgar Award winning screenplay writer apparently decided not to be associated with this film. It had a cast of Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Nouri,  Clu Gulager, Chris Mulkey, Ed O’Ross, Clarence Felder, Claudia Christian and Larry Cedar. 

Critics liked it with Roger Ebert calling it “a surprisingly effective film“. Not surprisingly it has gained cult status.   Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an excellent seventy-three rating. It likely more or less lost at least something  even after making ten million as it cost five million to make and figuring in publicity costs that suggests a loss. 

A sequel, The Hidden II, direct to DDV, came out six years later. It did not have the cast of the original film. Let’s just say that it’s wasn’t well received and leave it there. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 30, 1923 William Campbell. In “The Squire of Gothos” on Trek, which was a proper Halloween episode even if it wasn’t broadcast then, he was Trelane, and in “The Trouble With Tribbles” he played the Klingon Koloth, a role revisited on Deep Space Nine in “Blood Oath”. He appeared in several horror films including Blood BathNight of Evil, and Dementia 13. He started a fan convention which ran for several years, Fantasticon, which celebrated the achievements of production staffers in genre films and TV shows and raised funds for the Motion Picture & Television Fund, a charitable organization which provides assistance and care to those in the motion picture industry with limited or no resources, when struck with infirmity and/or in retirement age. (Died 2011.)
  • Born October 30, 1939 Grace Slick, 82. Lead singer first with Jefferson Airplane and then with Jefferson Starship, bands with definite genre connections.  “Hyperdrive” off their Dragonfly album was used at the MidAmeriCon opening ceremonies. And Blows Against the Empire was nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation at Noreascon 1, a year that had no winner.
  • Born October 30, 1947 Tim Kirk, 74. His senior thesis would be mostly published by Ballantine Books as the 1975 Tolkien Calendar. Impressive. Even more impressive, he won Hugo Awards for Best Fan Artist at Heicon ’70, L.A. Con I, Torcon II, Discon II and again at MidAmeriCon. With Ken Keller, he co-designed the first cold-cast resin base used at MidAmeriCon. He also won a Balrog and was nominated for a World Fantasy Award as well.
  • Born October 30, 1951 Harry Hamlin, 70. His first role of genre interest was Perseus on Clash of The Titans. He plays himself in Maxie, and briefly shows up in Harper’s Island. He also has two choice voice roles in Batman: the Animated Series,  Cameron Kaiser in “Joker’s Wild” and even more impressive as the voice of werewolf Anthony “Tony” Romulus in “Moon of the Wolf”.  Since I know a lot of you like the series, I’ll note he plays Aaron Echolls in Veronica Mars
  • Born October 30, 1951 P. Craig Russell, 70. Comic illustrator whose work has won multiple Harvey and Eisner Awards. His work on Killraven, a future version of H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, collaborating with writer Don McGregor, was lauded by readers and critics alike. Next up was mainstream work at DC with I think his work on Batman, particularly with Jim Starlin, being amazing. He also inked Mike Mignola’s pencils on the Phantom Stranger series. He would segue into working on several Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné projects. Worth noting is his work on a number of Gaiman projects including a Coraline graphic novel.  Wayne Alan Harold Productions published the P. Craig Russell Sketchbook Archives, a 250-page hardcover art book featuring the best of his personal sketchbooks.
  • Born October 30, 1958 Max McCoy, 63. Here for a quartet of novels (Indiana Jones and the Secret of the SphinxIndiana Jones and the Hollow EarthIndiana Jones and the Dinosaur Eggs and Indiana Jones and the Philosopher’s Stone) which flesh out the backstory and immerse Indy in a pulp reality. He’s also writing Wylde’s West, a paranormal mystery series.
  • Born October 30, 1972 Jessica Hynes, 49. Playing Joan Redfern, she shows up on two of the best Tenth Doctor stories, “Human Nuture” and “The Family of Blood”. She’d play another character, Verity Newman in a meeting of the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, “The End of Time, Part Two”. Her other genre role was as Felia Siderova on Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) in the “Mental Apparition Disorder” and  “Drop Dead” episodes. Her last genre adjacent role is Sofie Dahl in Roald & Beatrix: The Tail of the Curious Mouse.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) HOMETOWN HAUNT. “Meet Karl Edward Wagner, Knoxville’s influential cult horror author that almost no one knows” — the Knoxville News Sentinel fans the flames of his memory.

…As the editor of The Year’s Best Horror anthology from 1980 until his death in 1994, Wagner showcased writers like Steven King, Harlan Ellison, Robert Bloch and Ramsey Campbell. Imagery from Wagner’s Lovecraftian short story “Sticks” influenced works like “The Blair Witch Project” and the “devil’s nests” branch constructs in the first season of “True Detective.”

“Wagner was ripped off,” said the late horror writer Dennis Etchison in a documentary interview. “That is only my opinion so the makers of ‘Blair Witch’ should not sue me. … I can only say that is my personal opinion, as an expert witness.”

But as large as a presence as he was in 1980s horror scene, his personal fame never matched the far-reaching influence of his ideas and taste. Wagner’s books and short stories are out of print and hard to obtain…. 

(14) NO SPARE CHANGE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Now this is meta. (Even though it has nothing to do with the newly renamed Meta.) New Yorker magazine has published a book review for a book about how Amazon is changing the way books are written—Everything and Less: The Novel in the Age of Amazon (Verso), by literary scholar Mark McGurl. “Is Amazon Changing the Novel?”

…McGurl’s real interest is in charting how Amazon’s tentacles have inched their way into the relationship between reader and writer. This is clearest in the case of [Kindle Direct Publishing]. The platform pays the author by the number of pages read, which creates a strong incentive for cliffhangers early on, and for generating as many pages as possible as quickly as possible. The writer is exhorted to produce not just one book or a series but something closer to a feed—what McGurl calls a “series of series.” In order to fully harness K.D.P.’s promotional algorithms, McGurl says, an author must publish a new novel every three months. To assist with this task, a separate shelf of self-published books has sprung up, including Rachel Aaron’s “2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love,” which will help you disgorge a novel in a week or two. Although more overtly concerned with quantity over quality, K.D.P. retains certain idiosyncratic standards. Amazon’s “Guide to Kindle Content Quality” warns the writer against typos, “formatting issues,” “missing content,” and “disappointing content”—not least, “content that does not provide an enjoyable reading experience.” Literary disappointment has always violated the supposed “contract” with a reader, no doubt, but in Bezos’s world the terms of the deal have been made literal. The author is dead; long live the service provider….

(15) TO SWERVE PLAN. Master satirist Alexandra Petri parodies Facebook’s name change via Twilight Zone episodes. “Goodbye, Facebook. Welcome to the Meta Zone.”

There is a sixth dimension beyond that which is known to man, as vast as space and as timeless as infinity, lying somewhere just past the Twilight Zone, between the pit of Mark Zuckerberg’s fears and the summit of Mark Zuckerberg’s knowledge. It is an area we call … Meta, the new rebranded name of the Facebook parent company. Here are a few tales from this place….

(16) GRAND THEFT DINO. The case has been cracked. Unfortunately, so have the dinos. “3 dinosaur statues stolen from museum found damaged at Texas fraternity, officials say”Yahoo! has the story.

Three beloved dinosaur statues that were snatched from a Central Texas museum are back home thanks to the help of an eagle-eyed tipster. Unfortunately, two were heavily damaged.

Attention was widespread after the statues – named Minmi, Dilong and Dimetrodon, each 6 to 10 feet long – were stolen from their exhibit areas at The Dinosaur Park in Cedar Creek on Oct. 20, the park announced on its Facebook page. The dinosaurs were later recovered at a UT Austin fraternity, a representative for the museum confirmed to McClatchy News.

UT Austin is about 21 miles from The Dinosaur Park….

(17) FRIGHT AT NIGHT. Keith Roysdon talks about how he geeked out on horror in the 1960s building Aurora monster kits and reading Famous Monsters Of Filmland in “Growing Up Spooky” at CrimeReads.

.. A couple of years before I was born, the classic 1930s and 1940s Universal horror films were sold to TV stations around the country in the so-called “Shock” syndicated package. “Dracula,” “Frankenstein,” “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Invisible Man.” They were all there, or in the “Son of Shock” package to follow.

Suddenly, movies that had only been seen in theaters – in rare re-releases – for two or three decades were there for audiences old and new through television. Most stations packaged them as “Shock Theater” or “Nightmare Theater,” the latter a late-night double feature hosted by Sammy Terry, a genial ghoul played for Indiana viewers by Bob Carter, a mild-mannered musical instrument salesman by day who terrified us late at night each weekend….

(18) CLICK THAT CRITIC. Dom Noble tackles the new Dune movie. How good an adaptation of the book is it?

(19) LEGACY. It’s less fun if you don’t play them, but it can pay off for your heirs. “Sealed copy of ‘Super Mario Bros. 2’ sells for $88,550 in estate sale” reports UPI.

An auction house handling an estate sale for a recently deceased Indiana woman said a sealed copy of 1988 video game Super Mario Bros. 2 sold for a whopping $88,550.

(20) GOOD CLEAN FEAR. The New Yorker’s Richard Brody call these “The Best Horror Movies for Halloween—Without the Gore”.

…That said, there’s a formidable tradition of films that express horror according not to a set of established guidelines but to freely expressive impulse, evoking, through far-reaching imagination rather than blood and guts, the emotions of fear, dread, foreboding, and a sense the uncanny. Here are ten of my favorites….

The list includes –

Shadow of the Vampire”

(2000, E. Elias Merhige)

This extravagant horror drama, played earnestly, is nonetheless also a giddy comedy of counterfactual cinematic history. It’s centered on the shoot of “Nosferatu,” the founding vampire film, in which the titular bloodsucker—bald-headed, pointy-eared, pop-eyed, long-clawed, and fanged—runs rampage through the bedrooms of Transylvania. The wild premise of Merhige’s film (written by Steven Katz) is that the real-life actor playing that role, a little-known one named Max Schreck (the last name actually means “fright” in German), was cast in the role because he was a real-life vampire. John Malkovich plays Murnau, who, in order to cast Schreck, both deceives his cast and crew and puts them at grave risk; Schreck is played by Willem Dafoe, who is conspicuously having the time of his life playing a monster straight. Merhige, too, overtly delights in the misunderstandings that divide humans from monsters—and also offers a monstrous metaphor of cinematic history itself, the real-life depredations on which the classic cinema was founded.

(21) WHAT MUSIC THEY MAKE. Overly Sarcastic Productions takes on Werewolves for Halloween!

You know ’em, you love ’em, but you might not know ’em quite as well as you think you do! Today let’s dive into one of the big-name creatures of the night!

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Floor 9.5” at Vimeo, Tony Meakins says if the elevator stops between the ninth and tenth floor, don’t get off!

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