Pixel Scroll 3/21/22 Go Strider In The Sky 

(1) BALTICON GUEST NEWS. Balticon 56 announced that Odera Igbokwe has had to withdraw as Artist Guest of Honor due to personal reasons.

They followed up by naming two special guests: Kevin Roche, a costumer, conrunner, and quantum scientist and his husband Andy Trembley, a filker, costumer, and conrunner.

Balticon, which takes place May 27-30, also confirmed they will be streaming their most popular program tracks, and hosting virtual panels, kaffeeklatsches, author readings and more.

Virtual pricing for the whole weekend is $30 for adults and $20 for young adults. Virtual membership is automatically included with any in-person membership purchase. (Full rate information is here.)

(2) ESFS AWARDS NOMINEES. The European Science Fiction Society has released the nominations for the 2022 Achievement Awards, Hall of Fame Awards, and Chrysalis Awards.

The winners of these awards will be selected at the next general meeting of the ESFS, which will take place at Luxcon 2022, which takes place from 7th to 10th April, 2022 in Dudelange, Luxembourg.

(3) GRRM-CONNECTED GAME SUCCESS. Yahoo! reports “’Elden Ring’ Sells Over 12 Million Copies Worldwide”  — “Almost as many as PacMan,” teases John King Tarpinian.

While publisher Bandai Namco initially predicted that FromSoftware‘s Elden Ring would sell around 4 million units, the game has more than surpassed expectations. In the 18 days following its release, over 12 million copies of Elden Ring have been sold worldwide, the two companies announced on Monday.

According to the press release, the game was released throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. 1 million units were sold in Japan alone.

Created in collaboration with novelist George R. R. Martin, who is best known for writing the series behind Game of Thrones, Elden Ring is an open-world action RPG that entered development in 2017. Players begin with a linear opening but are gradually enabled to explore the mythical Lands Between….

And George R.R. Martin recently took a moment to deny a story about the game.

…Oh, and as long as I am setting stuff straight, there’s a weird story all over the internet about how I “hid” my initials in ELDEN RING because… ah.. some of the characters have names beginning with R, or G, or M.   To which I say, “Eh?  What?  Really?”   This was news to me.    I have been writing and publishing stories since 1971, and I suspect that I have been giving characters names beginning with R and G and M since the start.   Along with the other twenty-three letters of the alphabet as well…  

(4) WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE IF THE MANDALORIAN WAS INDIGENOUS? [Item by Olav Rokne.] Pretty cool Star-Wars-Inspired works by Canadian artist Christal Ratt got featured on the CBC News this weekend. Ratt, a member of the Barriere Lake Algonquin Nation in Quebec, used traditional techniques to create birch-bark armour modelled after the Mandalorian’s beskar armour. “What if the Mandalorian’s armour was birch bark instead of beskar? An Algonquin artist brings that to life”.

…And while it may not be able to stop lightsabers, the wearable piece of art also includes a birch bark helmet, with quilled Woodland florals and different shades of orange to honour residential school survivors from her community. 

The piece is called Shemaginish, which means warrior….

Personally, I find it really interesting to note that several artists of Indigenous Canadian descent are reinterpreting Star Wars iconography through traditional Indigenous styles. In addition to Ratt, there are several examples I can think of this, including well-known Canadian artists Andy Everson (a member of the Comox First Nation), and Aaron Paquette (a member of the Métis community in Edmonton) have found inspiration in mixing Star Wars with styles drawn from their respective Indigenous communities.

(5) AUTHOR’S GUILD SUPPORTS SMART COPYRIGHT ACT. The Author’s Guild announced, “AG Supports Introduction and Passage of the SMART Copyright Act of 2022”.

Why the Smart Copyright Act Is Necessary

The safe harbors for internet platforms in the Copyright Act are conditioned on the platforms’ cooperation to remove pirated content. The law has not worked as intended by Congress to encourage that cooperation, however, because the courts resisted enforcing the loss of safe harbors. In doing so, they took the teeth out of the law. As a result, piracy is out of control today, and the only mechanism that creators have to combat piracy is to send continuous takedown notices to the platforms, which is not only costly and time-consuming—for both the creators and platforms—but it is also ineffective because pirates often repost the infringing material. Online piracy harms the entire publishing and other creative ecosystems, leaving creators, who are usually at the bottom of the food chain, with only crumbs. Writers and other creators have no recourse except to watch the income from legitimate sales of their works dwindle while e-book pirates line their coffers.

The best way to curb piracy is for service providers to adopt STMs that automatically limit the amount of piracy on their services. These technologies already exist, and many platforms already use them effectively for certain types of works. The Authors Guild and other organizations representing creators have asked Congress to require all the major user-generated content sites to use such technologies to prevent or curb piracy. While the current law contemplates voluntary multi-industry convenings to create and adopt STMs, there has been no incentive for online providers to do so. As a result, no STMs have been formally recognized in the 23 years since the law was passed.

Bill co-sponsor Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) says on his site:

…Online service providers struck a deal with Congress twenty years ago—they wouldn’t have to pay for copyright theft facilitated by their systems if they worked with copyright owners to create effective standardized technical measures (STMs) to identify and protect against distribution of stolen content. In enacting this grand bargain, Congress clearly envisioned this safe harbor immunity would act as an incentive for platforms and rights holders to collaborate on developing effective measures to combat copyright theft, lower transaction costs, accelerate information sharing, and create a healthy internet for everyone. 

Yet rather than incentivizing collaboration, the law actually inhibits it because service providers cannot risk losing their valuable safe harbors if an STM is created. In addition, the current statute provides only one path to establish that a technological measure is a consensus-based STM that must be available to all. As a result, no STMs have been identified since the law took effect.  The issue isn’t whether technical measures to combat rampant copyright infringement exist—plenty do—but rather how to encourage service providers to adopt technical measures to combat stealing and facilitate sharing of critical copyright data.   

The Strengthening Measures to Advance Rights Technologies (SMART) Copyright Act of 2022 takes a measured approach to addressing these barriers in two ways. It creates flexibility so that more existing measures could be eligible for consensus created STMs and it addresses the incentive issue by authorizing the Librarian of Congress to designate through an open, public rulemaking process technical measures identified by stakeholders that certain service providers must accommodate and not interfere with. Instead of “bet the company” loss of safe harbors, violations involving designated technical measures (DTMs) risk only actual or statutory damages, from which innocent violators can be exempt.

Read a one-pager of the bill HERE and myth vs. fact HERE.

(6) LISTEN IN. Cora Buhlert is interviewed by Oliver Brackenbury in episode 36 of the So I’m Writing a Novel podcast: “Interview with Cora Buhlert”.

Cora Buhlert is a Hugo-nominated author and genre scholar who Oliver was lucky enough to meet through his research for the novel, and he’d love for you to meet her too!

Oliver and Cora discuss her falling in love with the very American body of work known as pulp fiction while she grew up travelling the world, the survival of dime novels in modern Germany, the irresistible pull of forbidden fiction, Thundarr and He-Man, “the best thing that happened in Germany in 1989”…

(7) SLICE OF LIFE. Did you ever want to know what H.P. Lovecraft thought of Gustav Meyrink’s The Golem and its silent film adaptations? If yes, Bobby Derie has you covered: “The Golem (1928) by Gustav Meyrink” at Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein.

Der Golem (“The Golem”) was a silent film directed by and starring Paul Wegener with German intertitles released in 1915. The film is now believed to be lost, aside from some fragments. This film was followed by two more: Der Golem und die Tänzerin (“The Golem and the Dancing Girl”) in 1917, and Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (“The Golem: How He Came Into The World”) in 1920, both of which were also directed by and starring Paul Wegener as the golem. So it isn’t clear which film Lovecraft actually saw. The 1920 film survives and is in the public domain.

Lovecraft claimed in most of his letters to have caught a showing of it in 1921, and like many an English student of the VHS era who needed to write a book report, he assumed somewhat erroneously that it was faithful to the plot of the book….

(8) ONCE UPON A NEWSSTAND. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] At Dark Worlds Quarterly, G.W. Thomas takes a look at Weird Tales’ shortlived sister magazine Oriental Stories a.k.a. Magic Carpet Tales: “Magic Carpet Tales: The Other Weird Tales” I’ve read some of Robert E. Howard’s contributions to Oriental Stories/Magic Carpet Tales and they were very good.

… Exotic locales, sexy seductresses and plotting agents aside, much of what appeared was a type of Horror fiction. Not always supernatural, torture tales, conte cruels but not your run-of-the-mill werewolf and vampire stories. For those who love Robert E. Howard and other WT authors, this is a bonanza of secondary tales….

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1968 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] On this day in the United Kingdom fifty-four years ago, Planet of The Apes premiered. It was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. The screenplay was by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling, and was based loosely upon Pierre Boulle‘s La Planète des Singes

It starred Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, James Daly and Linda Harrison. Roddy McDowall had a long-running relationship with this series, appearing in four of the original five films (absent only from the second film of the series, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, in which he was replaced by David Watson in the role of Cornelius), and also in the television series.

It was met with critical acclaim and is widely regarded as a classic film and one of the best films of that year.  Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said that it was “much better than I expected it to be. It is quickly paced, completely entertaining, and its philosophical pretensions don’t get in the way.” And Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times exclaimed that it was, “A triumph of artistry and imagination, it is at once a timely parable and a grand adventure on an epic scale.” 

It did exceedingly well at the box office costing less than six million to make and making more than thirty million in its first year of screening.

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it an eighty-seven percent rating with over a hundred thousand reviewers having expressed an opinion!

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 21, 1931 Al Williamson. Cartoonist who was best known for his work for EC Comics in the ’50s, including titles like Weird Science and Weird Fantasy, and for his work on Flash Gordon in the Sixties. He won eight Harvey Awards, and an Eisner Hall of Fame Award.  (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 21, 1944 Lorene Yarnell Jansson. Yarnell played Dot Matrix (body acting, with Joan Rivers performing the voice) in Spaceballs. She was Sonia in The Wild Wild West Revisted, Formicida / Dr. Irene Janis in Wonder Woman’s “Formicida” episode and on the Muppet Show in season four episode, “Shields And Yarnell”. (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 21, 1946 Terry Dowling, 76. I was trying to remember exactly what it was by him that I read and it turned out to be Amberjack: Tales of Fear and Wonder, an offering from Subterranean Press a decade ago. Oh, it was tasty! If it’s at all representative of his other short stories, he’s a master at them. And I see he’s got just one novel, Clowns at Midnight which I’ve not read but really should. He’s not at all deeply stocked at the usual digital suspects but they do have this plus several story collections. He’s won ten Ditmars, very impressive indeed, and quite a few other Awards as well.
  • Born March 21, 1946 Timothy Dalton, 76. He is best known for portraying James Bond in The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill but is currently in The Doom Patrol as Niles Caulder, The Chief. As I’ve said before, go watch it now! He also was Damian Drake in Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Sir Malcolm on the Penny Dreadful series and Lord President of the Time Lords (Rassilon) during the Time of Tenth and Eleventh Doctors. He went to theatre to play Lord Asriel in the stage version of His Dark Materials.
  • Born March 21, 1956 Teresa Nielsen Hayden, 66. She is a consulting editor for Tor Books and is well known for her and husband, Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s superb weblog Making Light, and back in the Eighties, they published the Izzard fanzine. And she has three fascinating framing pieces in The Essential Bordertown, edited by Delia Sherman and Terri Windling. 
  • Born March 21, 1958 Gary Oldman, 64. First genre film role was as Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. Next up is the lead role in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. And of course he was Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg in Fifth Element, followed by being Lost in Space‘s Dr. Zachary Smith, which in turn led to Harry Potter’s Sirius Black, and that begat James Gordon in the Batman filmsAlthough some reviewers give him accolades for us as role as Dr. Dennett Norton in the insipid Robocop remake, I will not. Having not seen Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I can’t say how he is as Dreyfus in it.
  • Born March 21, 1965 Cynthia Geary, 57. Best remembered as Shelly Tambo on Northern Exposure. It’s genre, isn’t it? If that’s not enough, she’s got a prime genre role in The Outer Limits episode “Mary 25” in which she plays Teryl who is not what she seems. And she shows up on Fantady Island in the “Dying to Dance” as Pamela Lewis.
  • Born March 21, 1970 Chris Chibnall, 52. Current showrunner for Doctor Who and the head writer for the first two (and I think) best series of Torchwood. He first showed up in the Whoverse when he penned the Tenth Doctor story, “42”.  He also wrote several episodes of Life on Mars. He’s been nominated for a Hugo three times for work on Doctor Who, “Rosa” at Dublin 2019, “Resolution” CoNZealand and for “Fugitive of the Judoon” at DisCon III.
  • Born March 21, 1985 Sonequa Martin-Green, 37. She currently plays Michael Burnham on Discovery which is now In its fourth series. She had a brief recurring role as Tamara in Once Upon a Time, and a much longer recurring role on The Walking Dead as Sasha Williams but I’ve never seen her there as zombies hold absolutely no interest to me. Well Solomon Grundy does…  And she was in the Shockwave, Darkside film.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Duplex shows the history you learn from watching movies.
  • Lise Andreasen says these are “Exactly the same things I would do!”

(12) OUTFOXED. Arturo Serrano reviews the new Pixar film for Nerds of a Feather in “’Turning Red’ finds joy in the scary messiness of puberty”.

…Disney/Pixar’s new animated movie Turning Red takes this metaphor of puberty as transformation and situates it in the no less stressful context of the immigrant experience during the rise of digital mass media. If being a teenager is hard, it’s almost unbearably so when inherited traditions and expectations conflict with multicultural openness and pop culture sex symbols. When protagonist Meilin Lee learns that the women of her family have the power to transform into enormous red pandas, it feels like it couldn’t have come at a worse time: she’s busy enough pleasing her parents and excelling at school and daydreaming about boy bands without going all Katie Ka-Boom every time she gets emotional. So she panics, and tries to hide what’s happening to her, and pretends to be in full command of her feelings—but her inner animal won’t be tamed. There’s no denying the call of nature….

(13) EFF ME. That was my reaction to the headline “Hugh Grant ‘in conversation’ to replace Jodie Whittaker as Doctor Who” at Metro News.

…Well, rumour has it the Love Actually star could be taking over from Jodie Whittaker as the Time Lord.

According to The Mirror, the BBC series could be heading for a Marvel-style makeover, with Hugh at the helm….

(14) WIN BY LOSING. “Loki Award Show Lost Saves Universe, According to Miss Minutes”Gizmodo has the story.

Awards season hit a high note this weekend as multiple guilds and groups gave awards leading up to the grand finale, the Oscars, which happen this coming Sunday. One of the biggest to do so was the Writers Guild of America—and apparently one specific category literally saved the world, at least according to a certain animated talking clock from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

… In the Drama category, Succession was up against The Handmaid’s Tale, The Morning Show, Yellowjackets, and Marvel’s Loki. And it’s that last one we’re going to concentrate on. Showrunner and head writer Michael Waldron revealed on Twitter that, had Loki won, this is the acceptance speech the writers submitted to air.

(15) REGENCY TEA TIME. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Aja Romano shares her appreciation for the works of Georgette Heyer and wonders why Heyer is not a household name and has never had a film or TV adaptation: “When will Hollywood discover Georgette Heyer?” at Vox. I’d say that Georgette Heyer is at least genre-adjacent, since a lot of SFF fans seem to like her and Regency romance in general. Plus, Regency dancing is a thing at many cons.

…[Jane] Austen’s relative lack of sentiment also helped her gain popularity and respect as a writer in a male-dominated century of literature. While other women writers of her time like Fanny Burney were reviled as trashy, Austen’s lack of interest in high drama and romance made her work acceptable to male readers as well as to women. One 19th-century critic wrote approvingly that “she sets her face zealously against romantic attachments.”

That patriarchal lack of respect for the art of writing about love may also explain why few outside of romance fans have ever heard of Austen’s primary successor: Georgette Heyer. Despite singlehandedly creating the modern romance, Heyer is still a niche author. And though she has nearly 10 times as many books available for cinematic adaptation as Austen, Hollywood has yet to discover her….

(16) PARALLAX VIEWS OF WESTEROS. George R.R. Martin introduces The Rise Of The Dragon” at Not A Blog and explains how it complements Fire & Blood. Sample art at the link.

We’re so excited to announce The Rise of The Dragon, a lavish visual history of House Targaryen – the iconic family at the heart of HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel series, House of the Dragon – featuring over 180 all-new illustrations!

For those of you who are wondering: What’s the difference between The Rise of the Dragon and Fire & Blood? Think of The Rise of the Dragon as a deluxe reference book, in which Westeros’ most infamous family – and their dragons – come to life in partnership with some truly incredible artists.

Fire & Blood was scribed as a grandmaesters’ account of events from Aegon Targaryen’s conquest of Westeros through to the infamous Dance of the Dragons, the civil war that nearly undid the Targaryen rule. The Rise of the Dragon will cover the same time period, but is written in a more encyclopedic style similar to The World of Ice and Fire. In fact, The World of Ice and Fire authors Elio M. García, Jr. and Linda Antonsson have returned to help with this tome. …

(17) AIRING ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION. [Item by Daniel Dern.] From the “By The Book” weekly interview in the NY Times (Sunday) Book Review section, 3/20/22, with Jeremy Denk, a question that IIRC is part of every interview:

Q: What books are on your night stand.

A: In Manhattan, my night stand has become commandeered by a CPAP machine. I chose breathing over reading.

He then goes on to list books elsewhere in his domicile(s).

(18) IT’S FOR YOU. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The BBC shows it’s possible to walk outside with a mobile phone “as big as a walkie talkie” and make a phone call in this clip from a 1974 episode of Blue Peter.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Lise Andreasen, Olav Rokne, Daniel Dern, Cora Buhlert, 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 Daniel Dern, who calls it his Tolkien cowboy title.]

Pixel Scroll 2/14/22 Our Files Are Protected By Mutual Assured Pixellation

(1) PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE ASKS INTERNET ARCHIVE TO REMOVE MAUS. Chris Freeland, a librarian and Director of the Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program, advocates for his work at ZDNet: “Librarian’s lament: Digital books are not fireproof”.

The disturbing trend of school boards and lawmakers banning books from libraries and public schools is accelerating across the country. In response, Jason Perlow made a strong case last week for what he calls a “Freedom Archive,” a digital repository of banned books. Such an archive is the right antidote to book banning because, he contended, “You can’t burn a digital book.” The trouble is, you can.

A few days ago, Penguin Random House, the publisher of Maus, Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust, demanded that the Internet Archive remove the book from our lending library. Why? Because, in their words, “consumer interest in ‘Maus’ has soared” as the result of a Tennessee school board’s decision to ban teaching the book. By its own admission, to maximize profits, a Goliath of the publishing industry is forbidding our non-profit library from lending a banned book to our patrons: a real live digital book-burning.

We are the library of last resort, where anyone can get access to books that may be controversial wherever they happen to live — an existing version of Perlow’s proposed “Freedom Archive.” Today, the Internet Archive lends a large selection of other banned books, including Animal FarmWinnie the PoohThe Call of the Wild, and the Junie B. Jones and Goosebumps children’s book series. But all of these books are also in danger of being destroyed.

In the summer of 2020, four of the largest publishers in the U.S. — Penguin Random House among them — sued to force our library to destroy the more than 1.4 million digital books in our collection. In their pending lawsuit, the publishers are using copyright law as a battering ram to assert corporate control over the public good. In this instance, that means destroying freely available books and other materials that people rely on to become productive and discerning participants in the country’s civic, economic, and social life…. 

(2) SUPER BOWL COMMERCIALS WITH A TOUCH OF SFF. Thanks to Cora Buhlert for flagging several of these in a comment yesterday on the “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – Teaser Trailer” post. Besides the ones I’ve embedded below, there’s a “Planet Fitness – What’s Gotten into Lindsay?” spot with a cameo and narration by William Shatner, and astronaut Matthew McConaughey headlining the “’The New Frontier’ Salesforce Super Bowl Ad” (“while the others look to the metaverse and Mars, lets stay here and restore ours…”).

Enter a new dimension of Strange. Watch the official trailer for Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Only in theaters May 6. In Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” the MCU unlocks the Multiverse and pushes its boundaries further than ever before. Journey into the unknown with Doctor Strange, who, with the help of mystical allies both old and new, traverses the mind-bending and dangerous alternate realities of the Multiverse to confront a mysterious new adversary.

See the all-new Big Game TV Spot for Marvel Studios’ #MoonKnight ?, an Original series streaming March 30, only on Disney+. The story follows Steven Grant, a mild-mannered gift-shop employee, who becomes plagued with blackouts and memories of another life. Steven discovers he has dissociative identity disorder and shares a body with mercenary Marc Spector. As Steven/Marc’s enemies converge upon them, they must navigate their complex identities while thrust into a deadly mystery among the powerful gods of Egypt.

In a competitive home buying market, Barbie was able to find and finance her dream house with some help from Rocket Homes??, Rocket Mortgage® and Anna Kendrick.

Retiring from Mount Olympus to Palm Springs, Zeus is underwhelmed by all earthly electric things and becomes a shell of his former self. But right when we think all hope is lost, his wife, Hera, introduces him to the all-electric BMW iX and helps mighty Zeus reclaim his spark.

(3) THE SIXTIES CONAN REDISCOVERY. At Galactic Journey, Cora Buhlert continues her overview of the Lancer Conan reprints with Conan the Warrior, which includes two of the best Conan stories “and no L. Sprague de Camp mucking about”: “[February 14, 1967] Three Facets of Conan: Conan the Warrior by Robert E. Howard”.

…Valeria is a marvellous character, a warrior woman who is Conan’s equal in many ways. “Why won’t men let me live a man’s life?” Valeria laments at one point. “That’s obvious,” Conan replies with an appreciative look at Valeria’s body. Robert E. Howard is usually considered a writer of masculine fiction and Conan is clearly a man’s man, but I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and competence of the female characters in these stories. Not every women in these stories is as impressive as Valeria or Yasmina from “The People of the Black Circle”, but they are all characters with personalities and lives of their own and every one of them is given a chance to shine….

(4) IT’S TIME FOR TRIVIA. Clarion West’s third annual speculative fiction trivia night fundraiser welcomes anyone to join this celebration of all things speculative. The event takes place March 20 from 5:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Pacific. Purchase tickets here – most options are $15.

Quizmaster Seanan McGuire will host us on Sunday, March 20th at 5pm PT for a night of science fiction, fantasy, and horror-themed rivalry. We’re also excited to welcome celebrity team captains Tananarive Due & Steven Barnes, A.T. Greenblatt, Greg & Astrid Bear, Cat Rambo, Andy Duncan, Brooks Peck, Julia Rios, and Curtis C. Chen!

Clarion West began running Speculative Fiction Trivia Night as an in-person fundraiser in 2019. It’s been such a hit that we’ve kept it going online for our global community. We enjoy bringing everyone together for this annual event, keeping it easy to run (with lots of volunteer power), and low cost to join! Ticket sales support Clarion West, the time and efforts of our staff, and our wonderful quizmaster Seanan McGuire!

You can join as an individual and be placed on a team, bring your own team, or join a team led by one of our amazing celebrity team captains (these fill quickly)!

Learn more about Trivia Night, our Celebrity Team Captains, and other details here.

(5) HIDDEN GEMS. G.W. Thomas remembers the adventures of Thula, a little known 1970s sword and sorcery heroine by Pat McIntosh, whose stories only appeared in an obscure British fanzine and Lin Carter’s Year’s Best Fantasy collections: “The Adventures of Thula” at Dark Worlds Quarterly.

 The Adventures of Thula was a series of five Sword & Sorcery tales featured in Lin Carter’s The Year’s Best Fantasy Stories 1-5Pat McIntosh, the Scottish author of these tales, was a mystery to me. Her stories appeared first in John Martin’s British fanzine Anduril but nowhere else. She was an obvious favorite of Lin’s, along with other women writers such as Tanith Lee, C. J. Cherryh and Janet Fox. He called McIntosh “…a new British writer bound to go places in the years to come!”…

(6) NOPE TRAILER. “Jordan Peele’s ‘Nope’ Trailer Sees a UFO Terrorize Keke Palmer, Daniel Kaluuya and Steven Yeun”. Yahoo!’s preview explains, “One day, a UFO appears in the sky, causing all matter of chaos for those at the ranch and its neighboring town. In one eye-catching scene in the trailer, we see Kaluuya on horseback trying to outrun the UFO; in another, a gooey alien creature stalks its prey.”

(7) IVAN REITMAN (1946-2022). A prolific Hollywood producer and director, Ivan Reitman died February 13 at the age of 75. He worked on many famous non-sf films, but the Ghostbusters movies were his best-known. As a producer or executive producer he had a hand in genre films Heavy Metal (1981), Spacehunters: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983), Ghostbusters (1984), Ghostbusters II (1989), and the reboots Ghostbusters (2016) and Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021), Space Jam (1996), Evolution (2001), A Babysitters Guide to Monster Hunting (2020), and also two animated TV series Mummies Alive (1997) and Alienators: Evolution Continues (2001), plus a recurring segment of the Atom TV series (2008).

The Guardian’s Hadley Freeman found Ivan Reitman impressive: “I finally met Ivan Reitman three months ago – my Hollywood hero was a truly lovely man”.

As the Guardian’s official 80s movies correspondent, I talked to Reitman multiple times over the years, beginning with a phone interview for the last film he directed, 2014’s Draft Day. When I contacted him again a few weeks later to ask if I could interview him for a book I was working on about 80s movies, he immediately agreed, and talked to me for over an hour, reminiscing about films people had been asking him to reminisce about for over 30 years. He never showed boredom or irritation. If I ever needed a quote, or just had a question, I could email him and he’d reply immediately. Does it really need saying that this kind of behaviour from a genuine Hollywood powerhouse is not exactly typical?

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1964 [Item by Cat Eldridge] James Elwood: master programmer. In charge of Mark 502-741, commonly known as Agnes, the world’s most advanced electronic computer. Machines are made by men for man’s benefit and progress, but when man ceases to control the products of his ingenuity and imagination, he not only risks losing the benefit, but he takes a long and unpredictable step into… The Twilight Zone.”

Fifty-eight years ago this evening, Twilight Zone’s “From Agnes—With Love” episode first aired. The twentieth episode of Season Five, it tells the rather silly story of a meek computer programmer who has Agnes, the world’s most advanced computer, loving him. And what ends she’ll go to make sure no end else wins his hand. 

It was directed by Richard Donner who went to fame by directing The Omen and the 1978 Superman. It was written by Bernard Cutner Schoenfeld who had done mostly crime noir before this including Phantom Lady and The Dark Lady though he did write the screenplay for The Space Children, a film currently holding a fourteen percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. You can see it here.

The cast of this series was: Wally Cox as James Elwood, Sue Randall as Millie, Raymond Bailey as Supervisor,  Ralph Taeger as Walter Holmes, Don Keefer as Fred Danziger, Byron Kane as Assistant  and Nan Peterson as A Secretary. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 14, 1925 J. T. McIntosh. Scottish writer at his best according to Clute in his early work such as World Out of Mind and One in Three Hundred. He’s deeply stocked at the usual suspects at very reasonable rates, indeed most as Meredith Moments. (Died 2008.)
  • Born February 14, 1942 Andrew Robinson, 80. Elim Garak on Deep Space Nine. He wrote a novel based on his character, A Stitch in Time, and a novella, “The Calling,” which can be found in Prophecy and Change, a DS9 anthology edited by Marco Palmieri. Other genre credits include Larry Cotton in Hellraiser, appearing in The Puppet Masters as Hawthorne and playing John F. Kennedy on the The New Twilight Zone.
  • Born February 14, 1948 Teller, 74. Performed on Babylon 5 in the episode scripted by Neil Gaiman titled “Day of The Dead” as part of Penn & Teller who portrayed comedians Rebo and Zooty. It’s one of my favorite episodes of the series. Harlan Ellison provided his voice there. Now available on HBO Max. 
  • Born February 14, 1952 Gwyneth Jones, 70. Interesting person that she is, let’s start with her thoughts on chestnuts she did when she was Winter Queen at Green Man. Just because I can. Now regarding her fiction, I’d strongly recommend her Bold As Love series of a Britain that went to pieces as it now certainly is, and her twenty-year-old Deconstructing the Starships: Science, Fiction and Reality polemic is still worth reading. 
  • Born February 14, 1952 Paula M. Block, 70. Star Trek author and editor; but primarily known for working in Paramount Pictures’ consumer licensing division and then with CBS Consumer Products. Remember that novel I noted by Andrew Robinson? Yeah, that’s her bailiwick. She’s also written with her husband Terry J. Erdmann, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion and Star Trek: Costumes: Five Decades of Fashion from the Final Frontier. It looks like she did some Trek fanfic as well including “The Girl Who Controlled Gene Kelly’s Feet”.
  • Born February 14, 1963 Enrico Colantoni, 59. Any excuse to mention Galaxy Quest I’ll gladly take. He played a delightful Mathesar on that film, and that was his first genre role, lucky bastard. Up next for him was A.I. Artificial Intelligence as The Murderer followed by appearing in the most excellent animated Justice League Dark as the voice of Felix Faust where his fate was very, very bad. He had an amazing role on Person of Interest as Charlie Burton / Carl Elias. Not genre, but his acting as Sgt. Gregory Parker on Flashpointa Canadian police drama television series is worth noting as it that excellent series. 
  • Born February 14, 1964 Zach Galligan, 58. You’ll no doubt recognize him best as Billy Peltzer in Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch. He did some really forgettable films after that including Waxwork II: Lost in TimeWarlock: The Armageddon and Cyborg 3: The Recycler even if the star of the latter was Malcolm McDowell. He did show on Voyager on as Ensign David Gentry in the “In the Flesh” episode. 
  • Born February 14, 1970 Simon Pegg, 52. Best known for playing Montgomery Scott in the sort of ongoing Star Trek franchise. His first foray into the genre was Shaun of the Dead which he co-wrote and had an acting role in. Late genre roles include Land of the Dead where he’s a Photo Booth Zombie, Diary of the Dead where he has a cameo as a Newsreader, and he portrays Benji Dunn in the ongoing Mission: Impossible franchise.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro has a cringeworthy joke for the holiday.  [Link worked earlier; right now it appears none of Comics Kingdom’s comics will load for some reason.]

(11) TUBERS IN SPACE. Nerdist gives us fair warning when “Mr. Potato Head Joins STAR WARS with The Yamdalorian Toy”. (See it at Hasbro.com.)

…Bring some space saga to your kid’s toy chest with Hasbro’s newest Star Wars plaything. This intergalactic version of Mr. Potato Head is ready to carry Grogu, in this case known as the Tot, everywhere he goes. Even in his stomach. The Yamdalorian features a 5-and-a-half inch body and comes with 14 parts to make him into the greatest bounty spud in the universe. That includes a Mandalorian helmet, armor, and cape. As well a base with feet, eyes, two arms, two ears, nose, and mustache. And his adopted son can also fit inside his pouch…

(12) FUN FACT. [Item by Sam Long.] I was looking up the word “god” in the Online Etymological Dictionary, and found that it could be derived from the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) word ghu-to, to pour a libation (as of bheer).  Apparently fandom–or at least the fannish “h”–dates back five thousand years or more.

“Bloomin’ idol o’ egoboo,

Wot they call the ghreat ghod Ghu!

(Plucky lot she cared for idols when I gave her some corflu.”

          –On the Road to Fandalay

(13) IMPRISONED ALIENS. Some aliens may never be able to leave their world due to things like high gravity or self-generated orbital debris. Isaac Arthur considers “The Fermi Paradox: Imprisoned Planets”.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. As one commenter calls it, “The all-Boston crossover you never expected, but deserved.” “Your Cousin From Boston (Dynamics)”.

While working security at the Boston Dynamics robotics lab, Your Cousin From Boston gives a robot a Sam Adams. At least he brought a Wicked IPA Party Pack to share!

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Cora Buhlert, Bill, Sam Long, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, 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 Kevin Harkness.]

Pixel Scroll 1/10/22 All Have Scrolled And All Must Have Pixels

(1) HIPY PAPY BTHUTHDTH THUTHDA CTHULHU. Scott Lynch noticed that Pooh entered the public domain on New Year’s Day. Thread starts here.

He’s not the only creator to hit the ground running: “’Winnie-the-Pooh’ just entered the public domain. Here’s what that means for fans” in the Washington Post.

Luke McGarry began drawing a nude Pooh Bear as soon as he heard the news. The original, nearly 100-year-old “bear of very little brain” from the Hundred Acre Wood had rung in this new year by entering the public domain. Now quite humbly, McGarry’s creative appetite felt rumbly.

The Los Angeles-based artist sat and penned his Winnie-the-Pooh idea in four panels, announcing the 1926 character’s free-for-all status as of Jan. 1, with a winking if satirically speculative interpretation: “Disney still owns their version of me. … But as long as I don’t put a little red shirt on, I can do as I like” — a reference to how the character’s attire regularly began to be depicted beginning in the 1930s.McGarry waited a day to post his colorful cartoon on social media. Later he checked his accounts: “I didn’t think it was going to blow up like it did.” On Twitter alone, the illustration received nearly 40,000 likes. The artist realized his Pooh toon could bring some cash flow. “Had I anticipated there being any demand, I would’ve probably had prints done in advance.”…

(2) SPIDER-MAN CRUSHING IT. Spider-Man: No Way Home is still breaking box office records. Having grossed $1.53 billion worldwide, it’s now the eighth-highest grossing movie ever globally (not adjusted for inflation) reports Variety.

In the U.S. the film sits in sixth place, having just passed James Cameron’s Titanic, and Deadline estimates it is around $10 million away from overtaking Avengers: Infinity War ($678.8 million) as the fifth-highest grossing movie ever stateside.

(3) BUTLER ADAPTATION SERIES ORDERED. “FX Picks Up ‘Kindred’ Series Based on Octavia E. Butler Novel”The Hollywood Reporter has details.

FX is moving ahead with its adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred.

The Disney-owned outlet has given a series order to Kindred, which comes from FX Productions and writer and showrunner Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Watchmen). It’s based on the influential 1979 novel by Hugo Award winner and MacArthur Fellow Butler, following a young Black woman in Los Angeles who finds herself pulled back and forth in time.

FX ordered a pilot for Kindred in March 2021. Janicza Bravo (Zola) directed the pilot episode. The series stars newcomer Mallori Johnson, Micah Stock, Ryan Kwanten, Gayle Rankin, Austin Smith, Antoinette Crowe-Legacy and David Alexander Kaplan.

(4) DAW: THE FIRST TEN YEARS. At Dark Worlds Quarterly, G.W. Thomas begins a series on Donald A. Wollheim: “Donald A. Wollheim Part 1: 1934-1945”.

When you say the name “Donald A. Wollheim” you have to say which one you are referring to. Is it the force behind ACE Books or the creator and publisher of DAW Books? Or the Avon editor who tried to combine comics and Pulps? Or the editor of The Avon Fantasy Reader?  Is it the editor who published the unauthorized edition of The Lord of the Rings and created the modern fantasy boom? Is it the fanzine editor who published H. P. Lovecraft, C. L. Moore, Robert E. Howard, A. Merritt and Frank Belknap Long? Is it the editor without any budget who cobbled together Pulps with the help of the Futurians? Or is it the writer who so often appeared under a pseudonym like Martin Pearson, Millard Verne Gordon or Lawrence Woods? Donald A. Wollheim was all of them in his career spanning over fifty years….

(5) THE JAWS THAT CATCH. G.W. Thomas would also like to tell you about big bugs, zillions of ‘em! “Giant Ants of the Pulps” at Dark Worlds Quarterly.

Giant Ants of the Pulps seems like a no-brainer, right? Of course the Pulps were crawling with mad scientists creating giant bugs, or ones that comes from other planets, or are encountered when we arrive on jungle planets. A fascination with the formic race goes back to writers like H. G. Wells, who despite the film versions, never actually did giant ants. What he did do was write the first giant monster novel in The Food of the Gods (Pearson’s, December 1903-June 1904) but he chose giant bees over ants. Later he wrote “The Empire of the Ants” (The Strand, December 1905), in which he supposed an intelligent race of army ants that begin to take over the world. These critters have weapons but are not gigantic in size. Hollywood combined the two along with Joan Collins.

(6) OPEN SESAME. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Watch The Door into Summer on Netflix:

A pioneering roboticist awakens in 2025 after decades in cryosleep. To change the past and reunite with his adopted sister, he seeks a way back to 1995.

I saw somebody’s Facebook post out this earlier today (and I see that sundry more are posting/commenting. We just finished watching it. This was one of the Heinlein sf novels I grew up reading/re-reading (when they’re short and one-offs, and not competing with a Borges-level Mount Can’t-Read-Em-All, it’s easier), and they dun good. (I could drop a cheap shot at Starship Troopers here, but I’ll refrain.) There are sundry differences in details, but the core plot remains intact (including Petronius The Arbiter, aka Pete, our protagonist’s credential).

The dialogue is all in Japanese, with subtitles available (often harder-to-read than I would have liked when the background was mostly white). (If there was a change subtitle settings, we didn’t see it.)

We didn’t see Heinlein’s name in the credits — although, it might have been lurking in the untranslated credits… but the Netflix listing includes:

Kento Yamazaki (“Alice in Borderland”) stars in this science fiction tale adapted from the novel by Robert A. Heinlein.

(7) GIZZARD-FI. The Odyssey Writing Workshop Blog has posted an interview with graduate Larry Hodges.

You’re a 2006 graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. What made you decide to attend? What insights did you gain into your own work?

I did some research and asked around, and Odyssey seemed the most recommended workshop. (Having Robert J. Sawyer as a “Writer in Residence” that year greatly helped!) Probably the biggest insight I learned about my own work was that I’m an “idea” and “humor/satire” writer who needs to focus on character and other aspects equally. I also went in knowing that I had little feel for description, and so have spent years working to overcome that. One thing that helped: Robert and Odyssey Director Jeanne Cavelos suggested writing a story that was all about description, and so I wrote and sold “In the Belly of the Beast,” where the whole story takes place in the belly of a dragon that has swallowed a bunch of people, including a wizard who creates a field to protect them in the dragon’s stomach—and much of the story revolved around vivid descriptions of the “venue.” It also became a character story about the wizard….

(8) THE INFLUENTIAL LE GUIN. Tor.com’s Vanessa Armstrong has a recommendation: “New Crafting with Ursula Podcast Has Writers Like Becky Chambers Delving Into Ursula K. Le Guin’s Work”.

… This series, called Crafting with Ursula, stems from David Naimon’s long-running Between the Covers podcast. In each episode, Naimon will talk with an author about how specific works of Le Guin have influenced aspects of their own creative process.

The first episode, which is available now, has Becky Chambers (Wayfarers series, A Psalm for the Wild-Built) discussing the craft of creating aliens and alien cultures, something Chambers has beautifully done in her own stories. …

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1969 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fifty-three years ago this evening, Star Trek’s “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” first aired on NBC. It was the fifteenth episode of the third season. It written by Oliver Crawford who also penned “The Galileo Seven” as based on a story by Gene L. Coon who was writing under his pen name “Lee Cronin” due to contractual reasons. Coon was the showrunner for the series through most of the second season and was responsible for such major elements as the Klingons and the naming of the United Federation of Planets and Starfleet Command. 

The cast stars here were Frank Gorshin as Commissioner Bele and Lou Antonio as Lokai. Gorshin would be known in this period for his recurring role on Batman as The Riddler. Lou Antonio did a few genre one-offs. 

The episode has since been rated as one of the best of the Trek series with ColliderHollywood ReporterPopMatters, SciFi and ScreenRant all rating it among the best episodes produced. 

Spock’s comment that “Change is the essential process of all existence” which remains one of the most memorable lines of dialogue ever said on Trek comes from this episode.

The original version when Beale and Lokai run through the Enterprise shows the burning cities of World War II Europe. The remastered version shows the Cheron cities still burning from space. (That scene was done because the episode was running short.) 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 10, 1904 Ray Bolger. Best remembered obviously as The Scarecrow In The Wizard of Oz. He also showed as the villainous Barnaby in Babes in Toyland, two appearances on Fantasy Island, and as Vector In “Greetings from Earth” on the classic version of Battlestar Galactica.  He narrated a version of Peter and The Wolf which certainly is genre. (Died 1987.)
  • Born January 10, 1924 Mike Butterworth. In 1965, he became the primary script writer at Ranger magazine where he was responsible for scripting the space opera The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire, which remains to this day one of the most popular boys’ adventure strips ever published in the UK. Between Ranger and later Look and Learn, it would have a run of 854 issues in total, divided between the two magazines. (Died 1986.)
  • Born January 10, 1937 Elizabeth Anne Hull. She has served as the President of the Science Fiction Research Association and editor of its newsletter. She has been a member of the panel for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best SF novel since 1986. With her husband Frederik Pohl, Hull edited the Tales from the Planet Earth anthology. She is also the editor of the Gateways: Original New Stories Inspired by Frederik Pohl anthology. She has co-authored three short stories with him, “Author Plus”, “The Middle Kingdom” and “Second Best Friend”. (Died 2021.)
  • Born January 10, 1944 Jeffrey Catherine Jones. She was an artist providing more than a hundred and fifty covers for many different types of genre books through the mid-Seventies including the Ace paperback editions of the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser series. Among her work was also Flash Gordon for Charlton Comics in the Sixties and the Conan Saga for Marvel Comics in the late Eighties. (Died 2011.)
  • Born January 10, 1944 William Sanderson, 78. I remember him best as J. F. Sebastian, the possibly insane genetic designer working for Tyrell in Blade Runner. but he’s had a career obviously after that film including appearing as Skeets in The Rocketeer, voicing Dr. Karl Rossum on Batman: The Animated Series, playing the character Deuce on Babylon 5 (a series I’ve watched through at least three times), E. B. Farnum on Deadwood (ok, it’s not genre, but it’s Will and Emma’s favorite show so let’s let it slide) and Sheriff Bud Dearborne on True Blood
  • Born January 10, 1947 George Alec Effinger. I’ve read his Marîd Audran series at least three times  as it’s an amazing series in both the characters and the setting. I never read the short stories in this setting until Golden Gryphon Press sent me Budayeen Nights for Green Man to review and they were quite excellent as well.  I really should listen to the stories soon to see how they work that way. (Died 2002.)
  • Born January 10, 1959 Fran Walsh, 63. Partner of Peter Jackson, she has contributed to all of his films since the late Eighties when she started out as co-writer of Meet the Feebles, and as producer since The Fellowship of the Ring which won a Hugo. Need I note the next two films won Hugos as well? Huh The Hobbit films did not win Hugos.  
  • Born January 10, 1958 Jeff Kaake, 64. He’s on the Birthday Honors list as he was Captain John Boon on the Space Rangers which lasted only six episodes. Damn. That was a fun show! He was also Thomas Cole on Viper which lasted four seasons but really isn’t genre. And he showed up in the Stormageddon film (which sounds like the name a Filer would give to a SJW Cred) as well which is genre. 

(11) MARK YOUR BALLOT “X”. The polls are open! Marvel is asking fans to help select the newest X-Men team once again. As with last year’s X-Men election, the second annual event to choose the newest protectors of Krakoa will run until 11:59 p.m. EST on Thursday, January 13. Participants can vote at marvel.com/xmenvote.

In 2021, True Believers everywhere voted in the first-ever X-Men election. They shaped X-Men history by choosing Polaris to star in Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz’s X-Men. Throughout the election, fans campaigned for their favorite candidates resulting in “X-MEN VOTE” trending worldwide on Twitter and ultimately changed the future of all mutantkind!

Several nominations have been accepted to determine the final member of one of the most iconic teams in the Marvel Universe. Now, the last member of this new X-Men team is in YOUR hands! Each person can only cast one vote, so read about each nominee below and make your decision carefully!

X-Men Ballot Nominations:

  • ARMOR: Hisako Ichiki can create a powerful psionic force field around herself, giving her superhuman strength and durability. She planted the first Krakoan flower on Mars, and as a member of the New Mutants aided her brethren across the globe.
  • AVALANCHE: A long-standing member of the Brotherhood, Dominikos Petrakis used his seismokinetic powers against the X-Men. Though he was killed by the Red Skull, he was one of countless mutants to be resurrected on Krakoa, where he became an agent of S.W.O.R.D.
  • BLING!: A former member of Gambit’s Chevaliers squad at the Xavier school, Bling! has more recently teamed up with Psylocke and her team to defend Krakoa despite still questioning the new mutant nation’s motives. She possesses a diamond-hard body, superhuman strength and the ability to fire crystalline projectiles.
  • FIRESTAR: Angelica Jones is a veteran super hero, boasting former memberships in the Avengers, New Warriors, Young Allies, and the X-Men themselves – in addition to being one of Spider-Man’s most amazing friends. Despite her codename, her powers are microwave-based, allowing her to ignite, melt, or otherwise superheat whatever she targets. She has yet to claim Krakoan citizenship…
  • GENTLE: The first X-Man to hail from the nation of Wakanda, Nezhno Abidemi now calls Krakoa his home. His mutant power allows him to exponentially increase his musculature, giving him almost limitless strength and invulnerability.
  • GORGON: Like the mythical creature of his namesake, Tomi Shishido’s gaze can turn anyone who meets it into stone. Although he possesses many other superpowers, Gorgon’s proficiency with swords is his greatest strength. Due to his skill with a blade, he was able to turn the tide at a crucial moment during the Contest of Swords in Otherworld. Unfortunately, he died doing so and came back… different.
  • MICROMAX: A British mutant, Scott Wright has served as an agent of various agencies of the Crown including MI13 and F.I.6. In the past, he was also briefly a member of Excalibur – and controversially O*N*E* – when he came into conflict with many of his fellow mutants.
  • PENANCE: Monet St. Croix touts herself as a near-perfect mutant specimen, with a wide range of powers and talents. Also, though she once considered it a burden, Monet is now capable of shifting to and from her deadly Penance form at will. She currently is the co-CXO of X-Corp.
  • SIRYN: The daughter of lauded X-Man Banshee, Theresa Cassidy made a name for herself as a member of X-Factor, making use of the same sonic powers as her father. The current X-Factor team was finally able to free her from the influence of the divine being known as Morrigan, to whom she’d sacrificed to save a fellow mutant.
  • SURGE: One of the most powerful electrokinetics on Krakoa, Noriko Ashida can produce devastating blasts of lightning and move at incredible speeds. She’s poised to team-up with her fellow New X-Men alums to protect the next generation of mutantdom.

Election results, along with the full X-Men team, will be unveiled during the Hellfire Gala in Marvel comics this June.

(12) SUPERMAN IS FEELING BETTER. Kevin Smith chats with Yahoo! Entertainment about his efforts to write a Superman movie in the 1990s. “Kevin Smith’s Superman movie that never was: Filmmaker revisits bonkers ’90s project that nearly starred Sean Penn”.

…Smith’s unfiltered critique and suggestions for for a different direction ultimately landed him an audience with then-studio boss Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who in turn hired Smith to write a new screenplay. Based on DC’s 1992-93 crossover comic event The Death of Superman, the film would be revamped with the title Superman Lives.

But Smith would have to collaborate on the project with producer Jon Peters — and that’s where things got really interesting. Peters had quite a Hollywood trajectory, starting as Barbra Streisand’s hairdresser then becoming her lover and then producing her films, eventually becoming a veritable power player (he’s currently portrayed by Bradley Cooper via a madcap performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza, to give you one perspective on him). In the early ’90s, Peters acquired the film rights to Superman from Warner Bros. and he would have the final say on the new movie.

Smith recalled various visits to Peters’s “gigantic f**king house” where the eccentric producer told Smith they’d make a great Superman movie together because they were “from the streets” (as Smith points out, neither Superman nor Peters nor Smith was from the streets) and insisted Smith read aloud his entire script drafts to Peters while the producer parked himself on a nearby couch….

(13) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter tuned into tonight’s Jeopardy! where an entire category was devoted to a familiar subject.

Category: Hugo Awards

$1000 clue

This author, Hugo nominated in his 20s for “Babel-17,” has the middle initial “R” for “Ray.” He won a few years later.

Photo shows Delany in whitest photo I’ve ever seen of him.

No one could ask, “Who is Samuel R. Delany?”

(14) AS LONG AS WE’RE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD. James Davis Nicoll ponders “Five Hypothetical Reasons Aliens Would Bother Visiting Earth”.

…A question that may well occur to our hypothetical aliens: “If humans are willing to use nuclear weapons on each other, what will they do to beings who are not related to them at all?” The worst-case scenario is that the aliens will conclude it’s safest not to find out. That possibility is explored in works like Greg Bear’s The Forge of God, in which what initially appears to be benign first contact very rapidly is revealed as an effort to expunge humans and all our works from the universe before we become a menace to other species….

(15) RUTLAND WEEKEND TELEVISION. “Ichthyosaur: Huge fossilised ‘sea dragon’ found in Rutland reservoir”BBC News has the story.

Rutland is more than thirty miles from the coast, but 200 million years ago higher sea levels meant it was covered by a shallow ocean.

When water levels at the Rutland reservoir were lowered again in the late summer of 2021, a team of palaeontologists came in to excavate the remains. Special attention was paid to the removal of the huge skull.

A large block of clay containing the ichthyosaur’s head was carefully dug out before being covered in plaster and placed on wooden splints.

The block, weighing almost a tonne, was raised out of the mud and will now be examined further.

“It’s not often you are responsible for safely lifting a very important but very fragile fossil weighing that much,” said Nigel Larkin, palaeontological conservator and Visiting Research Fellow at Reading University. “It is a responsibility, but I love a challenge.”

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Marvel is ready for its closeup: “All of the Trick Arrows in Marvel Studios’ Hawkeye!”

All of the trick arrows up close and personal! Greg Steele, VFX Supervisor of Marvel Studios’ Hawkeye talks to Lorraine Cink about how they created all of the arrows in the show, and how they work with the Stunt and Special Effects department to make the show come together.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, P J Evans, Chris Barkley, Bill, Elektra Hammond, Jon F. Zeigler, Danny Sichel, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, 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 Greg Hullender.]

Pixel Scroll 9/23/21 Shattered Like A Glass Pixel

(1) CLARKE AWARD CEREMONY. The Arthur C. Clarke Award winner will be announced September 27. Award Director Tom Hunter adds, “Long-time subscribers may remember back to pre-pandemic times when we used to announce our winner in July rather than September, but as with last year we’ve been committed to going one step at a time across our announcements and judging process as things continue to evolve. Hopefully 2022 will allow us to return to our usual scheduling. In the meantime, as with 2020, we have decided to forego a public ceremony event this year, but I am delighted to share that this year’s winner will be revealed live by presenter & science fiction fan Samira Ahmed on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row.”

(2) UNAUTHORIZED. Will Oliver has dug up an unauthorized sequel to Robert E. Howard’s “Worms of the Earth” from 1938, decades before L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter started up their own Howard pastiche business: “The Robert E. Howard Bran Mak Morn Sequel: Maker of Shadows by Jack Mann” at Adventures Fantastic.

 … Lai believes that Howard first came to the attention of Cannell in 1933. After the publication of his “Worms of the Earth” in the November 1932 issue of Weird Tales, Christine Campbell Thomson included the story in her collection Keep on the Light (Selwyn and Blount, 1933). The book was the ninth in a series of collected tales of horror and the supernatural titled Not at Night. Howard had previously appeared in the eighth volume of the series with “The Black Stone,” and that anthology was titled Grim Death (Selwyn and Blount, 1932); that was also REH’s first ever appearance in a hardcover book. So taken with Howard’s Bran Mak Morn story, Cannell incorporated “Worms of the Earth” into his Gees series, the fifth book, making it a sort of sequel. The version I read came from Ramble House and, despite the poor cover, the story appeared to me to be a good reprinting of the story….

(3) BIG BUCKS. The Guardian reports that a first edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has sold for a record-breaking sum: “First edition of Frankenstein sells for record breaking $1.17m”.

Mary Shelley was just 18 when she dreamed up her story of a “pale student of unhallowed arts” and the “hideous phantasm of a man” he created. Now a first edition of her seminal classic of gothic horror, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, has set a world record for the highest price paid for a printed work by a woman, after selling at auction for $1,170,000 (£856,000)….

(4) TENNESSEE GENRE CONNECTION. Also from The Guardian, an unpublished short story by Tennessee Williams has been discovered. And yes, this is of genre interest, because Tennessee Williams debuted in Weird Tales as a 16-year-old: “Newly discovered Tennessee Williams story published for the first time”.

 As soon as he crossed the border into Italy, Tennessee Williams found his health was “magically restored”. “There was the sun and there were the smiling Italians,” wrote the author of A Streetcar Named Desire in his memoirs. Now a previously unpublished short story by Williams describes his protagonist experiencing similar feelings – although the Italians do not feel quite so warmly towards him….

(5) BEFORE HE WAS A BESTSELLER. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] G.W. Thomas has a three part post about the lengthy writing career of John Jakes and that he wrote so much more than just historical family sagas. I actually knew that he wrote fantasy in the 1960s, but I didn’t know that he wrote in pretty much every genre and every venue:

… Did the fledgling Pulp writer (by night) and ad man (by day) have any inkling what lie ahead? Probably not, but to John’s credit he always wrote what interested him, what offered him a challenge, shifting between genres and venues. If the Pulps hadn’t died, he could have spent his entire career writing Westerns. Or Space opera. Or hard-boiled. But he did all of these, and well, before moving onto bigger things…

John Jakes, after five years in the Pulps, moved on to writing for magazines and novels. His story output slowed a little but he produced at least two novels most years, sometimes under his own name, sometimes under pseudonyms. For historical adventure he used the name Jay Scotland. He used his own name for the hard-boiled detective series starring Johnny Havoc but also wrote the last three Lou Largo novels as William Ard. The 1960s saw John writing tie-ins for Mystery television. This would later lead to him writing for The Man From U. N. C L. E.  and The Planet of the Apes novelizations in the 1970s. He also sold the first (and best) Brak the Barbarian stories to Cele Goldsmith at Fantastic…. 

John Jakes finished the 1960s writing television tie-ins along with other paperbacks. The first collections of Brak appeared alongside his best Science Fiction novels. But in 1974 everything would change with the arrival of The Kent Family Chronicles. John had several paperback novels on the bestsellers list at one time. From 1974 on he would be known not as a SF, Sword & Sorcery or Mystery writer but as a bestseller….

(6) TWO ORBIT AUTHOR Q&A’S. Orbit Live invites everyone to this pair of author conversations.

SEPTEMBER 28: Andy Marino and M.R. Carey will discuss their books and what it’s like writing supernatural thrillers. Register here.

Andy Marino is the author of The Seven Visitations of Sydney Burgess, a new supernatural horror and thriller novel. Marino has previously written several books for young readers. The Seven Visitations of Sydney Burgess is his debut book for adults.

M.R. Carey is the author of several books including The Girl With All the Gifts, the acclaimed and bestselling supernatural thriller, and The Rampart Trilogy, which began withThe Book of Koli. Carey has also written a number of radio, TV, and movie screenplays.

OCTOBER 12: Django Wexler and Melissa Caruso talk about their new books, creating fantasy worlds, and writing the middle book of a fantasy trilogy. Register here.

Django Wexler (he/him) is the author of the several adult and young adult fantasy series. Blood of the Chosen, the second book of his Burningblade & Silvereye trilogy, releases October 5.

Melissa Caruso (she/her) is the author of the Swords and Fire trilogy, which began with The Tethered MageThe Quicksilver Court, the second book of her Rooks and Ruin trilogy, releases October 12.

(7) ZOOM INTO FANHISTORY. Fanac.org has Zoom history sessions scheduled through the end of the year. To RSVP please send a note to fanac@fanac.org

  • September 25, 2021 – 2PM EDT, 11AM PDT, 1PM CDT, 7PM London, 4AM Sydney
    Juanita Coulson
  • October 23, 2021 – 2pm EDT, 7PM London, 11AM PDT
    St. Fantony, BSFA, Brumcon and more – British Fan history with Keith Freeman and Rob Hansen.
  • December 4 (US) and December 5 (Australia), 2021 – 7PM Dec 4 EST, 4PM Dec 4 PST, 11AM Dec 5 Melbourne AU
    Wrong Turns on the Wallaby Track:: Australian Science Fiction Fandom to Aussiecon – Part 1, 1936 to 1960, with Leigh Edmonds and Perry Middlemiss

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1962 – Fifty-nine years ago this date in prime time on ABC, The Jetsons premiered. It was created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera who had previously produced such series as the Quick Draw McGraw and the Yogi Bear Show.  The primary voice cast was George O’Hanlon, Penny Singleton, Janet Waldo, Daws Butler and Mel Blanc. The latter voiced Cosmo Spacely, George’s boss. It would last three seasons for seventy-five roughly half-hour episodes. A number of films, reboots and one truly awful idea, The Jetsons & WWE: Robo-WrestleMania, followed down the years. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 23, 1897 — Walter Pidgeon. He’s mostly remembered for being in the classic Forbidden Planet as Dr. Morbius, but he’s done some other genre work being in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea  as Adm. Harriman Nelson, and in The Neptune Factor as Dr. Samuel Andrews. The Mask of Sheba in which he was Dr. Max van Condon is at genre adjacent. (Died 1984.)
  • Born September 23, 1908 — Wilmar H. Shiras. Also wrote under the name Jane Howes. Her most famous piece was  “In Hiding” (1948), a novella that was included in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame anthology. It is widely assumed that it is the inspiration for the Uncanny X-Men that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby would shortly release. (Died 1990.)
  • Born September 23, 1936 — Richard Wilson, 85. He played Doctor Constantine in “The Empty Child” and “The Doctor Dances”, two Ninth Doctor stories. He played Gaius, Camelot’s court physician, in the entire of Merlin. And he’s was in Peter Pan as Mr Darling/Captain Hook  at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre. 
  • Born September 23, 1956 — Peter David, 65. Did you know that his first assignment for the Philadelphia Bulletin was covering was covering Discon II? I’m reasonably sure the first thing I read by him was Legions of Fire, Book 1: The Long Night of Centauri Prime but he’s also done a number of comics I’ve read including runs of Captain MarvelWolverine and Young Justice.
  • Born September 23, 1959 — Elizabeth Peña. Ok, these notes can be depressing to do as I discovered she died of acute alcoholism. Damn it all. She was in a number of genre production s including *batteries not includedGhost WhispererThe Outer LimitsThe Invaders and even voiced Mirage in the first Incredibles film. Intriguingly she voiced a character I don’t recognize, Paran Dul, a Thanagarian warrior, four times in Justice League Unlimited. (Died 2014.)
  • Born September 23, 1967 — Rosalind Chao, 54. She was the recurring character of Keiko O’Brien with a total of twenty-seven appearances on Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. In 2010, a preliminary casting memo for Next Gen from 1987 was published, revealing that Chao was originally considered for the part of Enterprise security chief Tasha Yar. Now that would have been interesting. 
  • Born September 23, 1967 — Justine Larbalestier, 54. Writer, Editor, and Critic. An Australian author of fiction whose novels have won Andre Norton, Carl Brandon, and Aurealis Awards, she is probably best known for her comprehensive scholarly work The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction which was nominated for a Hugo at Torcon 3. Her Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century, an anthology of SFF stories and critical essays by women, won The William Atheling Jr. Award.
  • Born September 23, 1971 Rebecca Roanhorse, 50. Her “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™“ which was first published  in the August 2017 of Apex Magazine won a Hugo as best short story at Worldcon 76. (It won a Nebula as well.) She also won the 2018 Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Rebecca has five published novels: Trail of Lightning, its sequel Storm of LocustsBlack SunRace to the Sun (middle grade); and a Star Wars novel, Resistance Reborn. Black Sun is nominated for a Hugo this year. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) MADE YOU LOOK. The New Yorker’s Megan Broussard devises “Clickbait for Classic Literary Characters”. Such as —

Dorian Gray (“The Picture of Dorian Gray”)
Soul-to-Sketch Art Converter app on Google Play. Turn selfies into paintings. Start your FREE seven-day, seven-sins trial today!

(12) HOPEPUNK. Mythic Delirium Books contends that readers who are looking for hopepunk will find it in Dark Breakers the new collection of short fiction from World Fantasy Award-winning author C. S. E. Cooney which will be released in February 2022. Its two previously uncollected novellas, “The Breaker Queen” and “The Two Paupers,” and three new stories, “Salissay’s Laundries,” “Longergreen” and “Susurra to the Moon” — take place in three parallel worlds, one inhabited by humans, one ruled by the Gentry (not unlike the Fae of Earthly legend) and one the realm of goblins. The heroines and heroes of these adventures confront corruption and the threat of tyranny armed with their own wits and the life-changing power of art. Pre-orders are activating now, with e-book pre-orders widely available and Barnes & Noble allowing advance purchases of all three editions.

(13) THEY’RE COMING. IGN introduces the Invasion trailer for Apple TV+ series.

Apple has released the official trailer for its ambitious new sci-fi series, Invasion, starring Jurassic Park’s Sam Neill.

The three-episode premiere of Invasion will be available to stream on Apple TV+ on Friday, October 22, 2021. Invasion comes from the minds of X-Men and Deadpool producer Simon Kinberg, as well as The Twilight Zone’s David Weil. The series follows the events of an Alien invasion through the lens of several characters spread across multiple continents.

(14) PROPRIETIES OBSERVED. [Item by Todd Mason.] The second episode of Have Gun, Will Travel repeated this morning on the H&I Network begins with the protagonist Paladin riding his horse in rocky country.As he passes an outcropping, a woman slips out of the shadows and cocks her rifle while leveling it at his back. 

Closed Captioning as presented by H&I: “(sound of woman XXXXing rifle)”

As the Jimmy Kimmel Live show used to enjoy playing with, “Today in Unnecessary Censorship,” making the tampered-with/censored bit seem much more blue than simply letting it be would…

(15) BIG LEAGUE SHIRT. I was surprised to find a logo shirt available – and apparently sanctioned by the rights holders! The Science Fiction League Shirt.

The Science Fiction League was created by Hugo Gernsback and launched in Wonder Stories in 1934. 

Our design is inspired by the logo created for the League by Frank R Paul, and the League badges. With thanks to the Frank R Paul estate. 

(16) THE SPEED OF DARK. “New type of dark energy could solve Universe expansion mystery” according to today’s issue of Nature.

Traces of primordial form of the substance hint at why the cosmos is expanding faster than expected.

Cosmologists have found signs that a second type of dark energy — the ubiquitous but enigmatic substance that is pushing the Universe’s expansion to accelerate — might have existed in the first 300,000 years after the Big Bang….

(17) KALLING ALL KAIJU KOLLECTORS. [Item by Michael Toman.] This Deep Dive into Godzilla movie commentaries, including the two which met with disapproval from Toho and were pulled, not to mention the ones which are only available to Japanese speakers, might be of interest to Other Filer G-Fans?

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers’ No More Heroes 3” on YouTube, Fandom Games, in a spoiler-filled episode, says that the third adventure of assassin Travis Touchdown has him fighting aliens. It is a “weird (bleeping) game for weird (bleeping) gamers,” features every bad Power Ranger villain, and includes as a character director Takashi Miike, the Japanese goremaster.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Todd Mason, Cora Buhlert, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 9/4/21 I Have Become Pixel, Scroller Of Worlds

(1) A HARD ROAD. Sue Burke, author of The Immunity Index, and whose Semiosis made the Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist and was a John W. Campbell Memorial Award finalist, summarizes the SF novel’s journey from manuscript to print, through editorial and beyond to ‘earn out’ in “Getting a book published” at SF2 Concatenation.

…Here comes the first mistake. I got to work on 20th March 2018, reviewing a folder of notes I have for ideas for stories, and I found one that I liked. Many writers have praised the creative freedom of pantsing (writing by the seat of one’s pants or making it up as you go along) a work, so although I’d previously worked with more or less complex outlines and plotting, I decided to give pantsing a go. It didn’t work. The initial draft was limp and only half as long as it needed to be.

Chastened, I reviewed ideas for ways to improve and expand the failure. This time I made notes and, eventually, crafted a plan. I added another character, rearranged some chapters, and complicated the conflict…

(2) CHARACTER WITH A LONG CAREER. Dark Worlds Quarterly contributor G.W. Thomas shares his appreciation for “The Cappen Varra Stories of Poul Anderson”.

…Shared Worlds of the 1970s

And that should have been the end of our wandering bard, but an unusual thing happened at the end of the 1970s. Robert Aspirin and Lynn Abbey cooked up the idea of the “Shared World“. With Poul’s encouragement the concept of a collection of stories where characters, setting and events coalesce between the authors to create a larger experience exploded as Thieves’ World. (There were others: Ithkar and Liavek being two of the more successful competitors.) The series ran for twelve volumes as well as a dozen novels. Poul saw it as a chance to bring Cappen Varra back! “The Gate of Flying Knives” (Thieves’ World, 1979) was the third story in the first collection. It would be Anderson’s only contribution….

(3) AN APPENDIX YOU CAN’T DO WITHOUT. Howard Andrew Jones pops up again, this time profiling historical adventure fiction author Harold Lamb for Goodman Games, where he explains why Lamb’s work is relevant for SFF fans: “Appendix N Archaeology: Harold Lamb”.

Much as I’d like to hope that Gary Gygax read Harold Lamb, he’s unlikely to have found his way to any of Lamb’s most influential work. It’s not that Lamb wasn’t in print. From the 1940s on, his histories and biographies were a mainstay on library shelves, and many modern libraries retain his books to this day. But as fine as they are – and some of them are very fine indeed – Lamb’s histories and biographies weren’t the texts that were important to Appendix N….

(4) CRIME FICTION CAREER LAUNCH. Astronaut Chris Hadfield has written a murder mystery. According to this review from Shots Mag, it is quite good: “The Apollo Murders”.

When the author has flown two Space Shuttle missions and was the commander of the International Space Station, you know that the technical details in the story are going to be accurate, integral to the story and lend the reader a real sense of being ‘there’….

(5) SHANG-CHI NEWS. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt interviews Shang-Chi star Simu Liu, who explains how Liu’s six-year campaign to get Marvel to cast him as a superhero finally paid off. “Simu Liu of ‘Shang-Chi’ finally gets the role he always wanted”.

Long before he became Shang-Chi, Simu Liu was convinced that the only way he’d be an Asian superhero on an American movie screen was to craft the story himself.

So he did. Twice.

At the age of 22, Liu crafted a wholestory bible for the Japanesemutant X-Men member Sunfire, certain it was his best bet to land a Marvel role.Years later, while a member of the Young Emerging Actors Assembly in Toronto, Liu spent $2,000 to direct, write and star in the 2015 short film called “Crimson Defender vs. The Slightly Racist Family,” about an Asian superhero who rescues a family that doesn’t believe he is a superhero because he is Asian.

Neither of those moments resulted in Liu being fitted for capes. But when Marvel Studios announced “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” would be itsfirst movie with an Asian superhero in the lead role, the 32-year-old star of the TV series“Kim’s Convenience” was convinced he was ready before he ever got a phone call. He even tweeted “are we gonna talk or what” at the Marvel Entertainment account….

Kat Moon explains how she as an Asian American feels better represented by Shang-Chi than by any other Hollywood blockbuster: “Shang-Chi Made Me Feel Seen Like No Other Hollywood Film Has” in TIME.

It wasn’t a profound scene in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings that made me feel instantly connected to the film—not the Mandarin narration that opened the movie or even the early references to customs specific to Chinese culture like eating zhou, or congee, for breakfast and tomb-sweeping on the annual Qingming Festival. Of course, those storytelling choices told me that the latest Marvel superhero movie was crafted with viewers like me in mind. But it was a moment around 30 minutes in that let me know for certain I was watching my life experiences reflected on the big screen in a way Hollywood has rarely done: when Ronny Chieng’s character, Jon Jon, exclaims, “Wakao!”…

(6) DUNE EARLY RETURNS. The New York Times’ Kyle Buchanan says “Venice Film Festival: ‘Dune’ Leaves Us With 3 Big Questions”. The second is —

Will ‘Dune’ be a major Oscar player?

Part of what’s so striking about “Dune” is that Villeneuve has a sense of texture that’s rare among big-budget filmmakers. When a character falls in battle, Villeneuve is besotted with the way the man’s eyelashes flutter as he dies. And during the assault on a character’s compound, the camera drifts from the action to show us magnificent palm trees that have been set aflame, their leafy crowns now a starburst of destruction.

Though sci-fi movies can sometimes be a hard sell with Oscar voters, I suspect that Villeneuve’s distinctive eye will distinguish “Dune,” as the movie looks undeniably ravishing. A ton of below-the-line nominations are guaranteed, including Greig Fraser’s cinematography and the production design by Patrice Vermette. The score (by Hans Zimmer), sound and editing are all more daring than this genre usually allows: The aural soundscape and artsy crosscutting feel almost designed to draw you into a spice-induced trance.

And I haven’t even gotten to the fashion! The costume design (by Jacqueline West and Bob Morgan) is a stunner, and especially during the first hour of the film — with Rebecca Ferguson wearing outrageous space-nun sheaths and a veiled Charlotte Rampling dressed like the Green Knight in Gaultier — “Dune” can seem like a moody high-fashion shoot that occasionally includes spaceships. (I mean this as a good thing.)

Villeneuve’s last film, “Blade Runner 2049,” scored five Oscar nominations and won its cinematographer Roger Deakins a long-overdue Academy Award. Still, the movie couldn’t break into the two top Oscar categories, best picture and best director. Does “Dune” stand a better chance?

I’m taking the wait-and-see approach here….

(7) C.S. LEWIS CONFERENCE IN ROMANIA. The 5th International Interdisciplinary Conference devoted to the life and work of C. S. Lewis, “Of This and Other Worlds,” will be held November 18-20 in Iasi, Romania. Register here. Registration deadline: November 1. An excerpt from the call for papers follows:

The fifth C. S. Lewis conference focuses on C. S. Lewis and his literary and academic kin as creators of worlds. His entire work testifies to his fascination with alternative universes, from his scholarly exploration of Medieval literature, with its haunting myths and arcane symbolism, through his fiction, to his apologetics, where Christianity is seen as a parallel kingdom seeking to be reinstated in “an enemy-occupied territory”. From pain to love, through faith and imagination, he opened a spectrum of realities inviting exploration and reflection. The collection of essays by Lewis alluded to in the title of this year’s conference spans both this and other worlds: “this” realm, which we inhabit, is the necessary, unavoidable starting point for any explorers, conquerors, pilgrims, even refugees into the “others”.

Those willing to venture into the exploration of the worlds of imagination created by C. S. Lewis and kindred spirits are invited to contribute papers in the areas of semiotics, narratology, literary studies (with a special focus on fantasy, on possible worlds in language structures, at the crossroads between referential semantics and fiction studies), translation studies (the challenge of translating fantasy for readerships of various ages and its effect on reception), philosophy, logic, theology, cultural and arts studies, including any interdisciplinary permutation or cross-pollination.

Interested participants are invited to send a 200-250-word abstract for peer-review to the Conference Committee via the organizers: Dr. Rodica Albu (rodica.albu@gmail.com), Dr. Denise Vasiliu (denise_vasiliu@yahoo.com), Dr. Teodora Ghivirig? (teoghivi@Yahoo.com)

Deadline for proposal submission: 25 September 2021…

(8) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1975 – Forty-six years ago this night, Space: 1999 premiered on such stations as Los Angeles KHJ-TV. It was distributed by ITV and produced by Group Three Productions (the first season) and Gerry Anderson Productions (the second and final season). It starred as its headliners Barbara Bain and Martin Landau, previously of Mission: Impossible fame. It was created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson who before this had done only such SF marionette puppetry series as ThunderbirdsStingray and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. It would last but forty eight episodes of around fifty minutes. Setting John Clute aside who thought it had “mediocre acting” and “rotten scripts”, most critics at the time actually liked it and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a very splendid eighty six percent rating. You can stream it on Amazon.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 4, 1916 — Robert A. W. Lowndes. He was known best as the editor of Future Science FictionScience Fiction, and Science Fiction Quarterly (mostly published in the late Thirties and early Forties) for Columbia Publications. He was a principal member of the Futurians, and a horror writer with a bent towards all things Lovecraftian ever since as a young fan, he received two letters of encouragement from H. P. Lovecraft. And yes, he’s a member of the First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1998.)
  • Born September 4, 1924 — Ray Russell. His most famous story is considered by most to be “Sardonicus” which was published first in Playboy magazine, and was then adapted by him into a screenplay for William Castle’s Mr. Sardonicus. He wrote three novels, The Case Against SatanIncubus and Absolute Power. He’s got World Fantasy and Stoker Awards for Lifetime Achievement. “Sardonicus” is included in Haunted Castles: The Complete Gothic Stories which is available from the usual suspects. (Died 1999.)
  • Born September 4,1924 — Joan Aiken. I’d unreservedly say her Wolves Chronicles were her best works. Of the many, many in that series, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase featuring the characters of Bonnie Green, Sylvia Green and Simon is I think the essential work to read even though The Whispering Mountain is supposed to a prequel to the series — I don’t think it’s essential reading. (Or very interesting.) The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is certainly the one in the series I saw stocked regularly in my local bookstores before the Pandemic. (Died 2004.)
  • Born September 4, 1938 — Dick York. He is best remembered as the first Darrin Stephens on Bewitched. He was a teen in the police station in Them!, an early SF film which is considered the very first giant bug film. He’d showed up in myriad Alfred Hitchcock Presents, several episodes of Twilight Zone and has a one-off on the original Fantasy Island. (There’s now been three series.) He voiced his character Darrin Stephens in the “Samantha” episode of The Flintstones. (Died 1992.)
  • Born September 4, 1957 — Patricia Tallman, 64. Best known as telepath Lyta Alexander on Babylon 5, a series I hold that was magnificent but ended somewhat annoyingly. She was in two episodes of Next Generation, three of Deep Space Nine and two of Voyager. She did uncredited stunt work on Deep Space Nine as she did on Voyager. Oh, and she shows up in Army of Darkness as a possessed witch. Oh, and she was the former CEO and executive producer of Studio JMS. Yeah she ran everything for J. Michael Straczynski. Very impressive indeed. 
  • Born September 4, 1962 — Karl Schroeder, 59. I first encountered him in his “Deodand” story in the METAtropolis: Cascadia audio work, so I went out and found out what else he’d done. If you’ve not read him, his Aurora Award winning Permanence is superb as all of the Vigra series. He was one of those nominated for a Long Form Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo for the first METAtropolis at Anticipation. 
  • Born September 4, 1972 — Françoise Yip, 49. She was a remarkably extensive career in genre productions including, but not limited to, Earth: Final Conflict, Andromeda, Caprica, Fringe, Predator, Robocop: Prime Directives, Seven DaysFlash Gordon, Smallville, Millennium, Shadowhunters, Arrow and Sanctuary.  Genre casting directors obviously really, really like her. Her longest running genre role was as Elizabeth Kepler in The Order, a horror series on one of those streaming services you’ve likely never heard of.
  • Born September 4, 1999 — Ellie Darcey-Alden, 22. Though she’s  best known for playing young Lily Potter in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, she’s here for being  Francesca “Franny” Latimer in the Doctor Who  Christmas special “The Snowmen”, an Eleventh Doctor story. She also played Mary in the “Total Eclipse“ episode of Robin Hood, and was in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for the New Theatre Oxford. And she appears, as do so many others, in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side shows how if Worf had known about this, that whole business with the pain sticks could’ve been avoided. 
  • Close to Home shows Spock’s version of “I’m not a doctor, I’m a —“

(11) TBR INCOMING. Fansided’s “Winter Is Coming” contributor Daniel Roman lists “15 highly anticipated fantasy and science fiction books coming this fall”. Due in October —

6. Far From the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson (10/26)

Leaving the heavy bounds of the Earth, our next book sees us blasting into space aboard the colony ship Ragtime. Arthur C. Clarke award-winning author Tade Thompson, author of The Wormwood Trilogy, has a new standalone science fiction novel coming out that promises to be filled with deep moral quandaries and spiritual reckonings. Far From the Light of Heaven is billed as a mystery meets sci-fi political thriller in space. The acting captain of the Ragtime has to team up with an investigator and several other intriguing characters to unravel a bloody mystery that is taking place aboard her ship.

(12) ASTRONOMY PICTURE OF THE DAY. From NASA: Astronomy Picture of the Day. Description follows.

Image Credit & CopyrightDennis Huff

Explanation: Not the Hubble Space Telescope’s latest view of a distant galactic nebula, this illuminated cloud of gas and dust dazzled early morning spacecoast skygazers on August 29. The snapshot was taken at 3:17am from Space View Park in Titusville, Florida. That’s about 3 minutes after the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on the CRS-23 mission to resupply the International Space Station. It captures drifting plumes and exhaust from the separated first and second stage of the rocket rising through still dark skies. The lower bright dot is the second stage continuing on to low Earth orbit. The upper one is the rocket’s first stage performing a boostback burn. Of course the first stage booster returned to make the first landing on the latest autonomous drone ship to arrive in the Atlantic, A Short Fall of Gravitas.

(13) EARLY ARRIVAL. Slash Film says these are “20 Movies About Aliens That You Definitely Need To Watch”. One of them is not what you might expect at first glance.

The Arrival

Not to be confused with a later entry on this list, 1996’s “The Arrival” stars a Charlie Sheen still at the height of his health and talent, and pits him against the terrifyingly competent Ron Silver. Sheen plays a radio astronomer who intercepts an unusual transmission from a nearby star and is blackballed from his industry for revealing its extraterrestrial origins. From there, a tangled conspiracy drives him towards the truth: the aliens are already here, and the rapid shift in our planet’s climate is meant to kill off humanity and create comfortable new digs for our new guests.

Directed by Peter Twohy, who would go on to create the Riddick franchise with Vin Diesel, “The Arrival” is surprisingly prescient with how it illustrates today’s climate change fears. A niche topic of conversation at the time, relegated to Al Gore jokes and nervous but unheard scientists, these digitigrade alien mimics are almost comforting now. They suggest that our inevitable future can be controlled — and, in a way that’s all too relatable, imply that someone else will have a good time on this planet at our expense….

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cora Buhlert, Rich Lynch, Lise Andreasen, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian,  Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Kevin Harkness.]

Pixel Scroll 8/29/21 Sgt. Pixel’s Scrolling File Club Band

(1) THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CAMERA. The production of Disney animated movies doesn’t look anything like I thought, judging by Andhika Muksin’s “eyewitness” accounts: “Artist Imagines What It Looks Like Behind The Scenes Of Disney Movies” at AWorkstation.

Have you ever wondered what happens in the backstage of Disney movies? Andhika Muksin is back on Bored Panda to show you just that. He creates hilarious edits of Disney movies so that we can see the behind the scenes of famous scenes and how they were “actually made.”

(2) ONCE A KNIGHT IS ENOUGH. Abigail Nussbaum analyzes The Green Knight at Asking the Wrong Questions.

…Unsurprisingly, The Green Knight‘s project is to subvert these ideas about knightliness and chivalry. But it is very interesting to examine how it goes about doing so. Most cinematic Arthuriana tries to be subversive, usually by imagining its heroes as thoroughly modern Hollywood protagonists—reckless, ironic, quippy, cool, possessed of just the right progressive politics (in a thoroughly non-threatening way, of course), and usually haunted by one of the three or four emotional traumas that heroes are allowed to experience (daddy issues, lack of confidence in their own abilities, etc.). Sometimes this works (well, once). Most of the time, it loses the flavor of these legends, which are weird and rambling and often have a disturbing, quasi-erotic, quasi-religious charge. Lowery seems determined to embrace these very qualities—as seen, first and foremost, in the film’s visuals….

(3) NO LOW-DOWN HERE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] G.W. Thomas of Dark Worlds Quarterly has an article about high vs. low fantasy. I’ve always hated the term “low fantasy” and Thomas is no fan either: “High Versus Low Fantasy or You Can’t Get There From Here!”

High Fantasy vs. Low Fantasy has always been a bit of gray area for me. I can remember submitting to Bardic Runes back in the 1990s and getting rejected as “Sword & Sorcery”. Understanding the genre history of commercial fantasy has helped me to see the difference. The term “High Fantasy” was coined by one of the first practitioners, Lloyd Alexander in 1971 in the essay, “High Fantasy and Heroic Romance”, (originally given at the New England Round Table of Children’s Librarians in October 1969). The unfortunate counter term for what is not “high” is “Low Fantasy” (or Sword & Sorcery).

(4) BEAUTIFUL COVER. The Rogues in the House podcast interviews Howard Andrew Jones, who has a new book out: “’The Goddess Wakes’ Release with Howard Andrew Jones”.

(5) BESTEST SELLERS. Mental Floss lists “10 of the Best-Selling Books in History (Minus Religious Texts)”. Quite a bit of genre here, beginning with Harry Potter in third place:

In 2018, it was announced that 500 million copies of the entire Harry Potter series had been sold. That’s a long way from 1997, when the series started with a reported 500-copy first print run for Philosopher’s Stone (the British title). By 1999, when Prisoner of Azkaban came out, it sold 68,000 copies in the UK and immediately garnered controversy when the Sunday Times bestseller list refused to include it due to being a children’s book. By the time the series ended, Deathly Hallows managed to move 2.6 million copies in the UK and 8.3 million in the United States on a single day.

(6) A VISIT AT HOME. Alastair Reynolds calls it “one of the best long-form interviews I’ve done” – “Meeting Alastair Reynolds – Sci Fi, Black Holes, UFO’s and Whisky” by Media Death Cult.

(7) KSR. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Kim Stanley Robinson has an article in the August 21 Financial Times.

…What does it feel like to live on the brink of a vast historical change?  It feels like now.

Of course that sounds hyperbolic, and perhaps even panicky,  Not that a science fiction writer can see the future any better than anyone else; very often worse.  But between the pandemic, the accelerating drumbeat of extreme weather events, and the accumulations of data and analysis from the scientific community, it’s become an easy call….

(8) DISABILITIES. “Writing Ability by Nick Wood and Levi Qisin” at the BSFA blog.

There is an annual writing event, which I dread every year when it rolls around.

It’s well known and is called NaNoWriMo and it is hash-tagged furiously on Twitter during the month of November, as people launch forth to write their novels in thirty days. Large daily word counts are flung about energetically – and, to anyone who has significant impediments to writing — these numbers can be both intimidating and shaming.  So, for the last NaNoWriMo (2020) I stayed well away, thinking about what helps each (different) writer, and why.

Under the title Writing Ability, I aim to unpack: (1) some of the difficulties (and resources) of writing while disabled, as well as (2) how to write ‘authentic’ fictional characters with disabilities.  And, given most stories begin with the author, I’ll start there….

(9) ED ASNER (1929-2021). Actor Ed Asner died August 29 at the age of 91. He won awards for non-genre work — three best supporting actor Emmys on Mary Tyler Moore, two best actor awards on Lou Grant, plus Emmys for his roles in the miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man and Roots. However, the New York Times obituary did not overlook the two main genre highlights of his career:

…He provided the voice of the lead character in the Oscar-winning animated movie “Up” (2009), about an elderly widower who flies to South America by attaching roughly a zillion colorful balloons to his house. Manohla Dargis’s review in The New York Times, which praised Mr. Asner and the supporting characters — including a portly stowaway scout and several talking dogs — called it “filmmaking at its purest.”

Mr. Asner also played a levelheaded Santa Claus in the Will Ferrell comedy “Elf” (2003), about a tall human raised by North Pole elves, which has become a Christmas-season classic. (It was Santa’s fault, really; the human baby crawled into his giant bag of gifts one busy Christmas Eve.) The Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert called the film “one of those rare Christmas comedies that has a heart, a brain and a wicked sense of humor.”…

Asner also was in episodes of many genre TV series, such as The Outer Limits, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., The Wild Wild West, and The Invaders. And he voiced characters in dozens of animated works including Animaniacs, Batman: the Animated Series, Spider-Man: The Animated Series (as another editor, J. Jonah Jameson), and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – The Original Radio Drama (a TV series, despite its name, where he played Jabba the Hutt.)

Fans will get a final visit with Asner’s Up character in the series of “Dug Days” shorts coming to Disney+ this week. 

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1958 – Sixty three years ago on this night, the first version of The Fly premiered. (It would be made three times.) It was produced and directed by Kurt Neumann from the screenplay by James Clavell which in turn was from the short story by George Langelaan which not surprisingly was called “The Fly” and which had been published in the June 1957 issue of Playboy. The primary cast was Al Hedison, Patricia Owens, Vincent Price and Herbert Marshall. Reception was definitely not generally upbeat with critics calling it “nauseating”, sickening” and “horrific”. It has since become a classic of horror films. It was box office success earning three million dollars on a budget of less than a half million dollars. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a rating of seventy-one percent. It was nominated at Detention for a Hugo but no film was chosen for a Hugo Award that year.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 29, 1928 Charles Gray. Best remembered for being Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Diamonds Are Forever and Dikko Henderson In You Only Live Twice, and as Sherlock Holmes’s brother Mycroft Holmes in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution. That’s a role he reprises in the Jeremy Brett series. He’s in The Rocky Horror Picture Show as The Criminologist – An Expert. (Died 2000.)
  • Born August 29, 1939 Joel Schumacher. Director of The Lost Boys and Flatliners, both of which I like a lot, not to mention Batman Forever and Batman and Robin. Ok, so those might not be the highlights of his career. However his Blood Creek vampirefilm starring Michael Fassbender is said to be very good. Oh, and his The Incredible Shrinking Woman is a very funny riff the original The Incredible Shrinking Man. (Died 2020.)
  • Born August 29, 1942 Gottfried John. He’s likely best known as General Arkady Orumov on GoldenEye but I actually best remember him as Colonel Erich Weiss on the extremely short-lived Space Rangers. He was Josef Heim in the “The Hand of Saint Sebastian” episode of the Millennium series, and played König Gustav in the German version of Rumpelstilzchen as written by the Brothers Grimm. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 29, 1945 Robert Weinberg. Author, editor, publisher, and collector of genre fiction. At Chicon 7, he received a Special Committee Award for his service to science fiction, fantasy, and horror. During the Seventies, he was the genius behind Pulp which featured interviews with pulp writers such as Walter B. Gibson and Frederick C. Davis.  He won the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award called the Sam Moskowitz Archive Award for excellence in science fiction collecting. (Died 2016.)
  • Born August 29, 1951 Janeen Webb, 70. Dreaming Down-Under which she co-edited with Jack Dann is an amazing anthology of Australian genre fiction, winner of a World Fantasy Award. If you’ve not read it, go do so. The Silken Road to Samarkand by her is a wonderful novel that I also wholeheartedly recommend. Death at the Blue Elephant, the first collection of her ever so excellent short stories, is available at the usual suspects though Dreaming Down-Under is alas not.
  • Born August 29, 1953 Nancy Holder, 68. She’s an impressive six-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award including her latest for Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel, Mary Shelley Presents. I’m not much of a horror fan so I can’t judge her horror novels for you but I’ve read a number of her Buffyverse novels and I must say that she’s captured the feel of the series quite well. If you are to read but one, make it Halloween Rain
  • Born August 29, 1954 Michael P. Kube-McDowell, 67. A filker which gets major points in my book. I’m reasonably sure I’ve read both of his Isaac Asimov’s Robot City novels, and now I can recall reading Alternities as well. God, it’s been twenty years since I read him which I thought odd, but then I noticed at ISFDB that he hasn’t published a novel in that long. Filker link: Back in Black at The Curious Mind of Michael Kube-McDowell.
  • Born August 29, 1971 Carla Gugino, 50. She’s had a number of genre roles — Ingrid Cortez in the Spy Kids franchise, Rebecca Hutman in Night At The Museum, Sally Jupiter in Watchmen, the voice of Kelex in Man of Steel / Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Justice League andDr. Alex Friedman in Race to Witch Mountain. She’s been on Quantum LeapALFShe Creature and Supergirl. She was Dr. Molly Anne Caffrey on the short-lived Threshold series, and Olivia Crain, the lead character, on The Haunting of Hill House series.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) MYSTERY WRITER DIES. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Caroline Todd, one half of the mother and son mystery writing team Charles Todd, died August 29. Apparently, the Todds were supposed to present an Anthony Award at the virtual Bouchercon and had to pull out due to Caroline falling ill. Here are tributes by others in the field:

(14) CREATING A CLEAN INTERNET. South China Morning Post reports new, more stringent rules imposed on celebrity fan communities:“No explanation as China’s billionaire actress Zhao Wei blacklisted from Chinese internet”.

…Zhao’s disappearance from Chinese cyberspace came amid a widespread campaign by authorities to clamp down on “misbehaving celebrities”.

The government is simultaneously trying to rein in unruly fan culture that has resulted in extreme stalking, leaking of personal information and cyberbullying.

On Friday, the Cyberspace Administration, China’s central internet watchdog, issued a detailed list of measures to rectify issues among fan communities.

The directive said local authorities should monitor celebrity culture online to maintain “political and ideological safety in the cyberspace as well as creating a clean internet”.

New rules include cancelling all forms of celebrity rankings and tightening oversight on celebrity marketing agencies. They would also require all online fan communities to be authorised by agencies associated with the celebrity.

The regulations would punish platforms that fail to quickly delete verbal attacks among fans of different idols….

Global Times has additional details about the rules: “China cyberspace administration tightens rules to cool frenzied idol worshipping, especially among minors”.

…All ranking lists of celebrities will be removed from online, and management of fan groups will be strengthened, the Chinese top internet watchdog announced on Friday in a bid to crack down on the unhealthy fan club culture in the country, banning all forms of promotional events that use a competitive scheme among the celebrities or fans. 

Since the campaign to clean up unhealthy fandom culture was launched, a number of online functions including celebrity ranking lists, hot topics, fan communities, and interactive comment sections have seen measurable improvement, the Cyberspace Administration of China said. To further weed out toxic fan culture, the administration announced the 10-point regulation, according to a notice issued by the administration. …

(15) WEBBER RETURNS TO GENRE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the August 20 Financial Times, Sarah Hemming reviews Cinderella, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and a book by Emerald Fennell, who wrote and directed Promising Young Woman.

The opening number sets the tone.  We find ourselves in Belleville, picturesque town and tourist trap, home to chirruping milkmaids, chaps with tones torsos and too-tight lederhosen and a baker inviting us to ‘check out my hot buns’ (lyrics from David Zippel). Girls pose and pout, guys strut and stomp and everyone misses the manly Prince Charming, who has mysteriously vanished, leaving his drippy younger brother, Sebastian, as heir…

…There is a pleasing twist at the end, but the plot does all become a bit daft and convoluted. Meanwhile, characterisation stays skin-deep, motivation flimsy and questions come and go without even being answered:  how did the prince and the pauper become best buddies? Oh,, never mind.  Wait, the fairy godmother is an evil plastic surgeon? Let’s explore that further…OK, let’s move on.

There is a website for the production: andrewlloydwebberscinderella.com.

(16) WONDER BLUNDERS. Heroes & Icons points out “12 little blunders you never noticed in ‘Wonder Woman’” (the TV series). For example:

TAKING OUT THE TRASH

“Screaming Javelins”

No Wonder Woman effect is more iconic than the hero’s transformative twirl. Diana Prince turns into Wonder Woman in a flash. You can catch some inconsistencies in those cuts. Take this one for example, from season two, when a trash can magically disappears.

(17) T MINUS 24 AND HOLDING. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Demand in the US for medical grade oxygen is so high due to COVID that some hospitals have less than 24 hours worth on hand and satellite launches are in danger of postponement. “Covid Surge Sends Liquid Oxygen From Launch Pads to Hospitals”Bloomberg has the story.

One consequence of the coronavirus pandemic is showing up in an unlikely place: the space industry. 

A summer surge in Covid-19 patients is diverting liquid oxygen from rocket launch pads to hospitals, leading NASA to announce Friday it will delay the September launch of its next earth-surveillance satellite by a week.

Oxygen chilled to its liquid form at -300 F (-184 C) is a crucial propellant for launch firms from SpaceX to ULA to Virgin Orbit. Now the industry is anticipating launch delays as patients on ventilators take precedence in the commodity gas supply chain….

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

Pixel Scroll 1/13/21 The Scroll Is A Harsh Mistress

(1) OVERVIEW OF THE NEW LOTR SERIES. Amazon just unloaded Parler but now they’re bringing back Sauron? What are they thinking? io9 has the story: “Amazon Reveals Lord of the Rings TV Show Details—Sauron Returns”.

…Confirmed via a synopsis provided to TheOneRing.net, Amazon Studios revealed that the series—currently filming in New Zealand with a cast that seems about as large as the population of a small country on top of that—is indeed set in the Second Age, “thousands” of years before the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The show will concern itself with characters “both familiar and new” as they reckon with the fact that the Dark Lord Sauron has returned to cast shadow and flame across Middle-earth.

(2) WORLDCON HOTEL NEWS. “Owner of DC’s Wardman Park Hotel files for bankruptcy” reports WTOP. The hotel is where DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon, would be held if an in-person 2021 Worldcon is possible:

Wardman Hotel Owner LLC, an affiliate of Pacific Life Insurance Co., has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and has ended its management contract with Marriott International.

The 1,152-room Wardman Park, one of the largest hotels in D.C., opened in 1918, during the Spanish Flu pandemic.

Pacific Life permanently closed the hotel just before filing for bankruptcy protection, and is seeking to sell the property, which could clear the way for the property’s redevelopment.

The Chapter 11 petition was filed Jan. 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

Marriott and Pacific Life have been locked in legal disputes since shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic led to the hotel’s temporary closure in March 2020.

…The owner’s bankruptcy filing Monday came the same day that neighboring historic hotel the Omni Shoreham reopened.

The DisCon III committee hasn’t posted a response to the latest development, but last October they did address their plans for an alternative to the Wardman Park if needed. The chairs wrote in the convention’s newsletter [PDF file]:

As you can imagine, we have uncertainty related to the Coronavirus but planning and activities continue. The status of the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel is unclear. Litigation between the owners was filed 2 September and settled at the end of September. At the start of October, Marriott filed a lawsuit against one of the entities that owns the hotel. What a mess! The hotel itself does not have an official statement at this time, and we are in close touch. Our Facilities team does have the room blocks for both the Marriott and the Omni Shoreham set up, and our current plan is to release those in January 2021.

(3) BOOM BOOM BOOM. James Davis Nicoll names “Five Books Featuring Space Travel Powered by Atomic Bombs”. Strange that I’ve read four of these but only remembered the nukes from one of them.

Nuclear explosives can be used to address many urgent issues: a shortage of mildly radioactive harbours, for example, or the problem of having too many wealthy, industrialized nations not populated by survivors who envy the dead. The most pressing issue—the need for a fast, affordable space drive—wasn’t solved until the late 1950s. Theodore B. Taylor and others proposed that the Bomb could be used to facilitate rapid space travel across the Solar System. Thus, Project Orion was born….

(4) SOMETHING ELSE THAT’S SURGING. “Online D&D provides relief during the COVID-19 pandemic” – the Los Angeles Times profiled D&D players.

… Players and scholars attribute the game’s resurgent popularity not only to the longueurs of the pandemic, but also to its reemergence in pop culture — on the Netflix series “Stranger Things,” whose main characters play D&D in a basement; on the sitcom “The Big Bang Theory”; or via the host of celebrities who display their love for the game online.

Liz Schuh, head of publishing and licensing for Dungeons & Dragons, isn’t surprised by the game’s reanimated popularity. Revenue was up 35% in 2020 compared with 2019, the seventh consecutive year of growth, she said.

Many newcomers purchase starter kits packed with character sheets, a rule book, a set of dice and a story line. New dungeon masters may buy a foldable screen to hide their rolls and anything else they’d like to keep from the player-characters. Once the introductory journey ends, players pore through other adventure books for sale — or conjure an original odyssey.

“The first few days of news [of the virus] coming out globally, at the top of every hour all the alarms were going off at the company,” said Dean Bigbee, director of operations for Roll20, an online tabletop gaming platform. “The amount of new account requests were so high that the systems thought that we were under a denial-of-service attack. But they were legitimate. They were accounts from Italy, and then France, following the paths of lockdowns across the world.”

(5) FORTIES SF’S POWER COUPLE SPEAKS. G.W. Thomas at Dark Worlds Quarterly put together a fine link compilation: “In Their Own Words: Interviews with Leigh Brackett & Edmond Hamilton”, who married in 1946 and put Kinsman, Ohio on the map.

Here are some interviews given by Leigh Brackett and Edmond Hamilton. They range from artsy film magazines to the cheapest of fanzines. My favorite is the audio clip from Youtube when Leigh and Ed were the guests of honor at the 1964 (PacifiCon) WorldCon. It is somehow revealing to hear what their voices sounded like and to glean a little of their personalities beyond the printed page….

Included are Q&A’s conducted by one of fandom’s best interviewers, Paul Walker, such as his Leigh Brackett interview from Luna Monthly #61 [1976] [Internet archive link].

(6) STRAIN OBIT. Actress Julie Strain, whose genre resume is mostly erotic horror movies, has died reports Joblo.com: “R.I.P.: Julie Strain, B-movie legend and Penthouse Pet, has died at age 58”. This is the third time her death has been announced, however, news sources are satisfied this time the news is accurate.

Last January, it was mistakenly announced that B-movie legend and 1993 Penthouse Pet of the Year Julie Strain had passed away. The announcement was quickly retracted – but in a sad twist of fate, friends and family are confirming that Strain has passed away almost one year to the day after that erroneous report. She was 58 years old.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1991 — Thirty years ago at Chicon V, Lois McMaster Bujold‘s The Vor Game  as published by Baen Books wins the Hugo for Best Novel. Runners-ups were David Brin‘s Earth, Dan Simmons’ The Fall of Hyperion, Michael P. Kube-McDowell’s The Quiet Pools and Greag Bear’s Queen of Angels. It would nominated for the HOMer as well.  A portion of this novel had appeared in the February 1990 issue of  Analog magazine in slightly different form as the “Weatherman” story.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 13, 1893 – Clark Ashton Smith.  Poetry, prose, graphic art, sculpture.  One novel, two hundred thirty shorter stories, seven hundred poems; a dozen covers, a hundred thirty interiors; five dozen posthumous collections.  Pillar of Weird Tales with Howard and Lovecraft.  “I make use of prose-rhythm, metaphor, simile, tone-color, counter-point, and other stylistic resources, like a sort of incantation.”  (Died 1961) [JH]
  • Born January 13, 1933 – Ron Goulart, age 88.  Eighty novels, a hundred fifty shorter stories.  Book reviews for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and Venture.  Comic-book stories and prose about The Phantom; scripts for Marvel.  Inkpot Award.  Detective fiction, including half a dozen books featuring Groucho Marx.  Nonfiction, e.g. The Great Comic Book ArtistsComic Book Encyclopedia.  [JH]
  • Born January 13, 1937 – George Barr, age 84.  Decades-long career as a fanartist; here is a cover for Amrahere is one for Trumpet; two Hugos as Best Fanartist; Fan Guest of Honor at Westercon XXVI, at MidAmeriCon the 34th Worldcon.  Also developed a career as a pro.  Here is The Dying Earth.  Here is the Sep 86 Amazing.  Here is Adventures in Unhistory.  Artist GoH at ConAdian the 52nd Worldcon.  Fifty illustrated limericks for Weird Tales.  Fan and pro, two hundred covers, seven hundred interiors.  Artbook Upon the Winds of Yesterday.  [JH]
  • Born January 13, 1938 Charlie Brill, 83. His best remembered role, well at least among us, is as the Klingon spy Arne Darvin in “The Trouble with Tribbles”. And yes, he’ll show in the DS9 episode that repurposed this episode to great effect. He was the voice of Grimmy in the animated Mother Goose and Grimm series, as well having one-offs in They Came from Outer SpaceThe Munsters TodaySlidersThe Incredible HulkWonder Woman and Super Train. Not even genre adjacent but he was a recurring performer on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. (CE) 
  • Born January 13, 1945 Joy Chant, 76. Chant is an odd case as she only wrote for a short period between 1970 and 1983 but she produced the brilliant House of Kendreth trilogy, consisting of  Red Moon and Black MountainThe Grey Mane of Morning and When Voiha Wakes.  Her other main work, and it is without doubt absolutely brilliant, is The High Kings, illustrated lavishly by George Sharp and  designed by David Larkin with editing by Ian and Betty Ballantine. It is intended as a reference work on the Arthurian legends and the Matter of Britain with her amazing retellings of the legends.  I’ve got one reference to her writing Fantasy and Allegory in Literature for Young Readers but no cites for it elsewhere. Has anyone actually read it? (CE) 
  • Born January 13, 1957 – Claudia Emerson.  Five poems for us in Son and Foe.  Eight collections.  Poetry editor for Greensboro Review.  Pulitzer Prize.  Acad. Amer. Poets Prize.  Poet Laureate of Virginia.  Elected to Fellowship of Southern Writers.  Donald Justice Award.  (Died 2014) [JH]
  • Born January 13, 1960 Mark Chadbourn, 61. I’ve read his Age of Misrule series in which the Celtic Old Gods are returning in modern times and they’re not very nice but they make for very entertaining reading. It’s followed by the Dark Age series which is just as well crafted. His two Hellboy novels are actually worth reading as well. (CE)
  • Born January 13, 1968 Ken Scholes, 53. His major series, and it’s quite worth reading, is The Psalms of Isaak.  His short stories, collected so far in three volumes, are also worth your precious reading time. He wrote the superb “The Wings We Dare Aspire” for METAtropolis: Green Space. (CE) 
  • Born January 13, 1972 Una McCormack, 49. She’s the author of The Baba Yaga and The Star of the Sea, two novels  in the delightful Weird Space series. She’s also written myriad Trek novels including a Discovery novel, The Way to the Stars, and the first Picard novel, The Last Best Hope. She’s also a writer of Who novels having five so far, plus writing for Big Finish Productions. (CE) 
  • Born January 13, 1979 – Bree Despain, age 42.  Six novels, a couple of shorter stories.  Took a semester off college to write and direct plays for inner-city teens.  Felt she wasn’t special enough to be a writer, decided to study law.  Hit by a pickup truck.  Thought it out again.  First book sold on 6th anniversary of collision.  [JH]
  • Born January 13, 1980 Beth Cato, 41. Her first series, the Clockwork Dagger sequence beginning with The Clockwork Dagger novel is most excellent popcorn literature. She’s fine a considerable amount of excellent short fiction which has been mostly collected in  Deep Roots and Red Dust and Dancing Horses and Other Stories. Her website features a number of quite tasty cake recipes including Browned Butter Coffee Bundt Cake. Really I kid you not. (CE) 
  • Born January 13, 1981 – Ieva Melgave, age 40.  Her “Siren’s Song” has been translated from Latvian into English.  Interviewed (in English) in Vector 281.  [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) ALIENS OMNIBUS. Marvel invites fans to jump on the Aliens Omnibus when the volumes arrive in April and August.

Cover by Mahmud Asrar

The classic comic book tales set in the iconic—and terrifying—world of the Alien franchise are being collected in brand-new hardcover collection starting in April with Aliens Omnibus Volume 1. And in August, fans of the iconic franchise can enjoy even more of these thrilling comic book stories with Aliens: The Original Years Omnibus Vol. 2.

A rogue scientist’s genetic experiments create a horrific new alien king! A ragtag unit of Colonial Marines battles a xenomorph infestation on a space station — and the survivors face a pack of bizarre hybrids! An investigator must solve a murder on a deep-space alien-research station! But what dread music will a deranged composer make with an alien’s screams? And can a synthetic xenomorph rebel against its sadistic creator? Plus: Flash back to an alien attack in the 1950s! And witness the fate of England as aliens overrun the Earth! This rare collection includes: Aliens: Rogue #1-4, Aliens: Colonial Marines #1-10, Aliens: Labyrinth #1-4, Aliens: Salvation, Aliens: Music Of The Spears #1-4 and Aliens: Stronghold #1-4 — plus material from Dark Horse Comics #3-5, #11-13 And #15-19; Previews (1993) #1-12; Previews (1994) #1; and Aliens Magazine (1992) #9-20.

Exclusive direct market variant cover by Paul Mendoza

(11) THE REAL SPACE COMMAND. “U.S. Space Command to be headquartered in Huntsville, Ala.” reports station WAFF.

The permanent headquarters of U.S. Space Command will be located at Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal.

According to a statement from the Secretary of the Air Force, Huntsville was confirmed as the preferred location for the U.S. Space Command Headquarters.

The Department of the Air Force conducted both virtual and on-site visits to assess which of six candidate locations would be best suited to host the U.S. Space Command Headquarters. The decision was based on factors related to mission, infrastructure capacity, community support and costs to the Department of Defense.

(12) AUDIOBOOK NARRATION. In AudioFile’s latest Behind the Mic, narrator Joniece Abbott-Pratt shares her thoughts about recording Jordan Ifueko’s Raybearer, on AudioFile’s list of the 2020 Best Young Adult Audiobooks.

Listeners meet Tarisai as a lonely younger girl growing up with a distant mother, and we feel her astonishment when she’s brought to the palace in Aristar and meets the prince — and discovers her new friend is the person her mother cursed her to kill. This vibrant and multilayered fantasy audiobook comes to life with Joniece’s evocative narration.

“You watch her save the world… and that was really cool, to be inside of a story of a young woman that got to stand in her truth and in her power. You watch a princess mature into a queen.”—Narrator Joniece Abbott-Pratt

Read AudioFile Magazine’s review of Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko.

(13) COOK BOOKS. Get stacks of Glen Cook novels via this new Bundle of Holding deal.

Adventurer! This Glen Cook Bundle presents novels by fantasy and science fiction author Glen Cook from Night Shade Books. Best known for his Black Company dark military fantasies, Cook has also written the eight-book Dread Empire epic fantasy series, the Starfishers and Darkwar trilogies, and many free-standing novels. This all-new fiction offer gives you nearly two dozen Glen Cook novels in both ePub and Kindle ebook formats for an unbeatable bargain price.

For just US$7.95 you get all five titles in our Glen Cook Sampler (retail value $69) as DRM-free ePub and Kindle ebooks

… And if you pay more than the threshold price of $25.97, you’ll level up and also get our entire Complete Collection with eight more titles…

(14) ON SECOND THOUGHT. He’s a busy man, you know.

(15) HELICONIA WINTER. Richard Paolinelli handed out the 2021 Helicon Awards [Internet archive link] yesterday, some to bestselling sff writers, two to L. Jagi Lamplighter and Declan Finn, but if you want to know what’s really on Richard’s mind look at this entry on the list:

  • John W. Campbell Diversity in SF/F Award – J.K. Rowling

Paolinelli also presented awards named for Melvil Dewey and Laura Ingalls Wilder, which he created after their names were removed from two American Library Association awards in recent years.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers:  Cyberpunk 2077” on YouTube, Fandom Games says that Cyberpunk 2077 is “the most anticipated release since Cup And Ball 2″ and that it lets gamers wallow in a world which is “not cool, not fun, and everything’s broken.”

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Michael Toman, James Davis Nicoll, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]