Pixel Scroll 1/20/23 Scrolling About Pixels Is Like Stardancing About Naval Architecture

(1) SHORT SFF REVIVAL. Charlie Jane Anders diagnoses the problem and then brings forward “Some Ideas for How to Save Short Fiction!”

Short fiction is once again in crisis. After an era when the Internet seemed to be helping a lot of short stories find a bigger audience, the same thing is now happening to short stories that are happening to a lot of other content: the invisible hand is raising a big middle finger. Among other things, Twitter is getting to be much less useful in helping to spread the word about short stories worth reading, and Amazon just announced that it’s ending its Kindle subscription program from magazines, depriving magazine publishers of a pretty significant slice of income….

Here’s a short example out of several ideas Anders pitches.

I’d love to see more short fiction turning up in incongruous contexts

This is something I talked about a lot in the introduction to my short story collection Even Greater Mistakes (shameless plug alert!). I am always happy to see short stories show up on coffee bag labels, in pamphlets on public transit, scrawled on bathroom walls, or in the middle of a publication that mostly includes serious non-fiction pieces about politics and culture. I feel like we could be doing more to leverage the ability of short stories to show up in surprising places and suck us in with their narrative power.

(2) MEDICAL UPDATE. Paul Di Filippo’s partner Deborah Newton wrote to friends that on January 19 Paul was hit by a large SUV. 

The driver stopped, spoke to Paul and gave him her phone to call Newton.

I ran the three blocks to where the accident had occurred — the ambulance passed me as I ran.  Luckily there was a witness whose moving car was facing the accident when it happened and had a video camera on the dashboard.  He made arrangements with the police, who had already arrived, to share the video.  

Those of you who have met Paul in the flesh will not be surprised that he dragged himself up after the huge hit, and even climbed by himself into the ambulance.  The Dr. at the ER later called that “adrenaline”, but I believe Paul has a stronger energy and will than most of us mere mortals.

After extensive testing in the ER it was determined he sustained no head wounds or broken bones. However, writes Newton, “He is covered with bruises and has a large hematoma on his left thigh. His hip, where he believes he landed after the hit, is excruciatingly painful.”

He is back home, presently using a walker to get around.

(3) LIVE FROM 1968. Cora Buhlert returns to Galactic Journey as one of the contributors to a “Galactoscope” column, reviewing Swords of Lankhmar by Fritz Leiber — and also talking about some of the biggest protests her hometown has ever seen. There are also reviews of Picnic on Paradise by Joanna Russ, a Jack Vance book, an Andre Norton book and several others: “[January 20, 1968] Alyx and Company (January 1968 Galactoscope)”.

… However, with the sale of the Ziff-Davis magazines to Sol Cohen, the appearances of Fafhrd and Gray Mouser in the pages of Fantastic became scarce. It seemed the dynamic duo was homeless once again, unless they shacked up with Cele Goldsmith Lalli over at Modern Bride magazine, that is.

So imagine my joy when I spotted the brand-new Fafhrd and Gray Mouser adventure The Swords of Lankhmar in the spinner rack of my trusty import bookstore…

(4) 2024 NASFIC UPDATE. Sharon Sbarsky, the Pemmi-con/2023 NASFiC committee member in charge of NASFiC 2024 Site Selection, announced today that the Buffalo in 2024 bid has filed. She published the following extract from their letter of intent.

Upstate New York Science Fiction and Fantasy Alliance Inc. is pleased to present this letter of intent, along with Visit Buffalo Niagara, to host the 16th North American Science Fiction Convention in Buffalo, New York USA in 2024 .

Details of the bid

Proposed date: July 18-21, 2024

Proposed site: Hyatt Regency Buffalo Hotel and Convention Center & Buffalo Niagara Convention Center

Proposed Headquarter Hotel: Hyatt Regency Buffalo Hotel and Convention Center

Upstate New York Science Fiction and Fantasy Alliance, Inc. is a NYS registered not-for-profit corporation focused on encouraging and running fannish activities in New York State. Members of our bid committee include individuals who have experience working on Worldcon / NASFiC events, as well as others who have organized small conventions and other events across New York and Southern Ontario
https://buffalonasfic2024.org/

Sbarksy added: “Members of Pemmi-con will be able to vote in the Site Selection. Details will come at a later time. We hope to have electronic voting, similar to the Worldcon and NASFiC selections at Chicon 8. 180 days before the Start of Pemmi-Con is January 21, 2023, so the ballot is still open for additional bids.”

(5) GETTING UNSTUCK. Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware delivers another warning: “Bad Contract Alert: Webnovel”.

A bit over two years ago, I wrote about two companies, A&D Entertainment and EMP Entertainment, that appeared to have been deputized by serialized fiction app Webnovel to recruit authors to non-exclusive contracts. The contracts from both companies were (and continue to be) absolutely terrible.

EMP Entertainment no longer appears to be active (it has no website and I’ve heard nothing about it since 2020), but A&D is still going strong, and over the past two years I’ve been contacted by a lot of (mostly very young and inexperienced) writers who are confused about its complicated English-language contract, or have changed their minds about signing up and want to know how to get free (as with the contracts of so many serialized fiction apps, there’s no option for the author to terminate).

A&D recruits via a bait and switch. Writers are solicited by an editor or Author Liaison who claims to have discovered the writer’s work on Amazon or elsewhere, and invites them to publish on the Webnovel platform (the bait)….

(6) DON’T JUST ROLL THE DICE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] “5 Things SecOps Can Learn from Dungeons & Dragons” at Tech Beacon. Note, “SecOps” is tech shorthand for “Security Operations” (or possibly “Security Operators”)

… Anyone who has ever experienced a SOC 2 or ISO 27001 audit might see the parallels between a lengthy framework of rules and their arbiter. Still, D&D is significantly more fun than a cybersecurity audit. In fact, when it comes to security preparedness there are quite a few lessons that security operations (SecOps) teams that are responsible for the security of connected assets—including myriad Internet of Things (IoT) devices—can learn from D&D. And they might just have a bit of fun along the way.

Assemble Your Party

From wizards and warriors to clerics and rogues, there are a wide variety of classes in D&D—each with its own specializations. The key to an effective adventuring party is to combine them in a way that the strengths of one character can mitigate the weaknesses of another. Building a cybersecurity team is no different. Aside from all the specialized roles within cybersecurity, such as incident-response or threat-hunting teams, an effective approach to security preparedness requires cross-functional collaboration between IT teams, operational-technology (OT) teams, and other lines of business to better understand how to balance business objectives with security requirements….

(7) A THEORY ABOUT THE HOBBIT.  Scott McLemee poses the questions in an “Interview with Robert T. Tally Jr. on historicizing ‘The Hobbit’” for Inside Higher Ed.

Q: You don’t historicize The Hobbit in the naïve or narrow sense of interpreting it as a fictionalized response to real-world events. Your approach owes a great deal to the American Marxist literary theorist Fredric Jameson—the subject of your first book. What does it mean to read Tolkien as a Jamesonian?

A: “Modernism” is a dirty word among many Tolkien enthusiasts, and perhaps for Tolkien himself, but I see his desire to “create a mythology for England” as a powerfully modern thing to attempt, more like Yeats or Joyce than most mere medievalism. Also, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are clearly novelistic in form, even if they deal with “epic” or “romantic” ideas.

In his work on postmodernism, Fredric Jameson refers to the “attempt to think the present historically in an age that has forgotten how to think historically in the first place.” Coming from an entirely different direction politically, I think Tolkien was deeply concerned with the modern world’s inability to “think historically,” and thus his desire to connect elements of the medieval historical world with our own time, even if—or especially if—that meant using fantasy as a way of sort of tricking us into “realizing” history.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2021 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Cat Rambo’s You Sexy Thing was a novel that I nominated for a Hugo. Why so? Because it is damn good. It made my top ten novels of that year by having a fantastic story, great characters that for the most part I could care about and not one but two truly interesting settings, the first being the intelligent bioship You Sexy Thing, and the other being a restaurant situated near a defunct star gate.

Now unlike the restaurant in the Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy, this one is not played for laughs and is real, working environment. I don’t know if Rambo has worked in such a place but she captures the feel of it very nicely as I have a very long time ago and it seems quite right.

Now before we get to the quote, I’m very, very pleased to note that the next novel in the series is indeed out relatively soon. Here are the details courtesy of the author:

Devil’s Gun, available this August, follows the adventures of intelligent bioship You Sexy Thing and its crew. While seeking a weapon against the pirate king Tubal Last and operating a pop-up restaurant near a failed star gate, Niko and her friends encounter a strange pair of adventurers who claim to have power over the gates that link the Known Universe.  But following the two on an intergalactic treasure hunt will require going into one of the most dangerous places any of them have ever faced.

Of course it will be available from all the usual suspects in both print and epub formats. 

Now I normally choose the quote, but this time I’m honored to say that Cat chose her favorite quote about food from You Sexy Thing:

[Niko] looked at Dabry, who stood ignoring them, caressing the eggplant with all four hands and his eyes half closed. “Sweet Momma Sky, should we leave so you can have your way with that eggplant or should I just let you take it to your bunk?”

His eyes closed entirely, expression blissful. “Baba ganoush,” he said. “Flat wheat bread dusted with cumin. Seared protein tinctured with lemon and garlic…”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 20, 1884 A. Merritt. Early pulp writer whose career consisted of eight complete novels and a number of short stories. H. P. Lovecraft notes in a letter that he was a major influence upon his writings, and a number of authors including Michael Moorcock and Robert Bloch list him as being among their favorite authors. He’s available at the usual suspects. (Died 1943.)
  • Born January 20, 1920 DeForest Kelley. Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy on the original Trek and a number of films that followed plus the animated series. Other genre appearances include voicing Viking 1 in The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars (his last acting work) and a 1955 episode of Science Fiction Theatre entitled “Y..O..R..D..” They’re his only ones — he didn’t do SF as he really preferred Westerns. (Died 1999.)
  • Born January 20, 1934 Tom Baker, 89. The Fourth Doctor and still my favorite Doctor. My favorite story? The “Talons of Weng Chiang” with of course the delicious added delight of his companion Leela played by Lousie Jameson. Even the worst of the stories were redeemed by him and his jelly babies. And yes, he turns up briefly in the present era of Who rather delightfully. Before being the Doctor he had a turn as Sherlock Holmes In “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, and though not genre, he played Rasputin early in his career in “Nicholas and Alexandra”! Being a working actor, he shows up in a number of low budget films early on such as The Vault of HorrorThe Golden Voyage of Sinbad,The MutationsThe Curse of King Tut’s Tomb and The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood. And weirdly enough, he’s Halvarth the Elf in a Czech-made Dungeons & Dragons film which has a score of ten percent among audience reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes.
  • Born January 20, 1946 David Lynch, 77. Director of the first Dune movieWent on to make Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me which is possibly one of the weirdest films ever made. (Well with Blue Velvet being a horror film also vying for top honors as well.) Oh and I know that I didn’t mention Eraserhead. You can talk about that film.
  • Born January 20, 1960 Kij Johnson, 63. Faculty member, University of Kansas, English Department. She’s also worked for Tor, TSR and Dark Horse. Wow. Where was I? Oh about to mention her writings… if you not read her Japanese mythology based The Fox Woman, do so now as it’s superb. The sequel, Fudoki, is just as interesting. The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe is a novella taking a classic Lovecraftian tale and giving a nice twist. Finally I’ll recommend her short story collection, At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories. She has won a Best Novella Hugo for “The Man Who Bridged the Mist” had several other nominations. Much of her work is available at the usual suspects.
  • Born January 20, 1964 Francesca Buller, 59. Performer and wife of Ben Browder, yes that’s relevant as she’s been four different characters on Farscape, to wit she played the characters of Minister Ahkna, Raxil, ro-NA and M’Lee. Minister Ahkn is likely the one you remember her as being. Farscape is her entire genre acting career. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Get Fuzzy makes a noble pun about a bestselling horror writer.
  • Eek! deals with a young superhero’s fib.

(11) FRANKLY SPEAKING. In “When Monsters Make the Best Husbands”, a New York Times reviewer tells about two plays, one of genre interest.  

The monster is nestled in a glacier when the villagers dig him out, frozen but not dead, because he was undead already. Tall, broad-shouldered, hulking in his platform boots, he is instantly recognizable, and once he thaws, proves unpretentious despite his Hollywood fame.

It is 1946 in a tiny European village, and he is the most endearing of monsters: awkward, uncertain, just wanting to help out. And in “Frankenstein’s Monster Is Drunk and the Sheep Have All Jumped the Fences,” a winsome cartwheel of a show that’s part of the Origin Theater Company’s 1st Irish festival, he finds lasting romance — with a local outcast who falls in love with him at first sight. Never mind that by his own account he is “constructed from the dismembered body parts of a number of different corpses”; their sex life is fabulous….

(12) BEGIN AGAIN. The Cromcast, a sword and sorcery podcast that started as a Conan readthrough, are rereading all the Conan stories again ten years after they launched. They started with “The Phoenix on the Sword”, the very first Conan story: “Season 18, Episode 1: The Phoenix on the Sword!”

“Know, oh prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of…”

(13) HE-MAN. The For Eternia YouTube channel has a great interview with Tim Sheridan, one of the writers of Masters of the Universe Revelation/Revolution, about why the Filmation Masters of the Universe cartoon resonated with so many gay people: “The Power of Pride: Talking Importance of 1980’s He-Man on the LGBTQ+ Community with Tim Sheridan”.

(14) THE NATURE OF REALITY COUNTS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] I know from being involved with SF2 Concatenation that quite a few fans are interested in the interface between science and science fiction: after all, the term ‘science fiction’ contains ‘science’. Consequently, it should not be any surprise that all of the four YouTube Channels I invariably check out each week are SF and/or science related.

One of these is PBS Space-Time. It is ostensibly a physics channel (though often there’s astronomy and cosmology) and there’s nothing like at the start of the day having a mug of Yorkshire builders tea (sufficiently strong that the teaspoon stands up in it) along with a short episode of PBS Space Time: it is good to limber up with some physics before embarking on the serious biological and geoscience business of the day (tough as that is for Sheldon Cooper to take).

One aspect of the SF-science border is an exploration as to the true nature of reality. Are we living in a holographic universe? Are we living in a Matrix simulation? And if so is there a simulator?

This week’s PBS Space Time asks the question as to whether the Universe is simply, and purely, mathematical (not physical)? And if so, what of parallel Universes, dimensions and alternate Universes? Indeed, are there different levels to the multiverse?

Be assured, despite maths (or ‘sums’ as we environmental scientists call it) being in the title, there are no heavy mathematics in this short video, rather it is a somewhat deep philosophical discussion. Nonetheless, don’t worry if you find your mind being stretched: that’s what daily limbering up exercises are all about.

So, sit down with your mug of builders and enjoy this 16 minute slice of Space Time“What If The Universe Is Math?”

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

Pixel Scroll 1/10/23 Scrolls Are Here, Scrolls Are Here, Life Is Pixels And Life Is Bheer

(1) SPEAK MEMORY. The Guardian wonders, “Death of the narrator? Apple unveils suite of AI-voiced audiobooks”.

Apple has quietly launched a catalogue of books narrated by artificial intelligence in a move that may mark the beginning of the end for human narrators. The strategy marks an attempt to upend the lucrative and fast-growing audiobook market – but it also promises to intensify scrutiny over allegations of Apple’s anti-competitive behaviour.

The popularity of the audiobook market has exploded in recent years, with technology companies scrambling to gain a foothold. Sales last year jumped 25%, bringing in more than $1.5bn. Industry insiders believe the global market could be worth more than $35bn by 2030.

… Before the launch, one Canadian literary agent told the Guardian she did not see the value from both a literary or customer perspective.

“Companies see the audiobooks market and that there’s money to be made. They want to make content. But that’s all it is. It’s not what customers want to listen to. There’s so much value in the narration and the storytelling,” said Carly Watters….

(2) KELLY LINK Q&A. At Publishers Weekly: “Flights of Fancy: PW Talks with Kelly Link”.

What can contemporary fiction inject into the fairy tale?

Maybe psychological depth. Fairy tales depend on what the reader brings to them. The difference between fairy tales and myth is that Disney hardened our idea of certain stories so that a particular version of them becomes so codified that it replaces other possibilities of how that story could exist. I don’t think it’s great to let those stories exist in one form. People are constantly retelling them, and I think you need the rigid, popular version everyone knows for the weirder versions to have any power….

(3) DEADLINE EXTENDED. L.A. County high school students now have until January 23, 2023 to submit their sff short stories to The Tomorrow Prize & The Green Feather Award.

The Omega Sci-Fi Awards invites Los Angeles County high school students to submit their short science fiction stories to The Tomorrow Prize. The Tomorrow Prize encourages young writers to use sci-fi to explore the diverse issues humanity wrestles with, spark creative solutions, and unite the worlds of art and science.

The Green Feather Award co-presented by the Nature Nexus Institute, highlights an environmentally focused sci-fi story. We are seeking stories that integrate creative solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises.

For more details please see submission guidelines.

Selected finalists will be chosen to have their stories read in their honor by celebrity guests during the May 2023 Culminating Event.

First, Second, and Third place Tomorrow Prize winners will receive $250, $150, and $100 USD cash prizes.

The First place Tomorrow Prize winner will be published in L.A. Parent Magazine.

The Green Feather Award is a special prize for an environmentally focused sci-fi story. The winner will receive $250 USD & online publication by the Nature Nexus Institute.

(4) IN THE BEGINNING? Whatever presents “The Big Idea: Nancy Kress” about the premise to Observer, the novel she’s co-written with Robert Lanza.

…On the one hand, could science support the idea that consciousness creates the universe?  On the other hand, wasn’t this just recycled philosophy 101 according to Irish philosopher George Berkeley, among others?…

(5) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. English-language prozine Interzone is being published in Poland by MYY Press.

(6) A GREEN MAN, BUT NOT A LITTLE ONE. MeTV remembers the time “Ted Cassidy helped Gene Roddenberry play a prank behind the scenes on Star Trek”. Here’s the first part of the story:

The first-season Star Trek episode “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” has a few memorable things that stand out. It gives us our second evil duplicate Kirk of the series, we get some backstory for Majel Barrett’s nurse Chapel… but arguably what sticks in the minds of fans the most is Ted Cassidy as ominous android Ruk.

At this time, Ted Cassidy was fresh off the ending of The Addams Family where he enjoyed a regular role as Lurch, the family butler. In his book Star Trek Memories, William Shatner talks about how Cassidy was cast as the seven-foot-tall, menacing android. Prior to filming, Star Trek‘s makeup artist, Freddie Phillips asked Cassidy to come in for a makeup test.

“Cassidy sat down in Phillips’ undersized makeup chair and allowed the artist to transform him from a smiling young actor to an evil, hulking monster,” Shatner writes. “First Freddie covered Ted’s head with a latex skinhead wig; then he applied a sort of greyish-green base coat over Cassidy’s entire face. Once all that was done, Phillips darkened the area around each of the actor’s eyes and employed a black grease pencil to sharpen the angles of Ted’s cheekbones, forehead and chin. The end result was quite frightening and really served to drain all the humanity from Cassidy’s face.”…

(7) BOOK KEEPING. “Floods, Fires and Humidity: How Climate Change Affects Book Preservation” in the New York Times.

…Both immediate and long-term strategies are needed to keep books secure in changing environments, experts say, but some threats are more insidious than wildfires or hurricanes.

Shifts in temperature and humidity from climate change can have large consequences. Archivists and conservators in Cincinnati, for example, are worried about big temperature swings in a single day. Humidity is on the rise in Southern California, where the climate is historically dry; most preservation systems in the area aren’t designed to manage precipitation.

“The higher the humidity, the higher the temperature, the quicker they will break down their organic materials,” said Holly Prochaska, the interim head of the Archives and Rare Books Library at the University of Cincinnati. “Leather will wet rot. Collagen fibers in vellum will tighten and shrink.”…

Institutions like U.C.L.A. are developing ways to combat humidity to work in tandem with their climate-controlled stacks and collections rooms. Now, because of climate change, Metzger thinks twice before loaning out materials, which can keep history and knowledge under lock and key.

“Books gain meaning by use — use is exhibit, use is research — and there’s a beauty in use,” Metzger said. “If we just isolate things and keep them in these little, perfectly controlled environments with guards around them, what is their meaning anymore?”

One solution is digitization — scanning pages and storing them online. The process is not only an answer to climate change; it also allows for documents to be easily accessible and shared, broadening a collection’s reach. Adding documents to a server or the cloud, though, presents its own set of obstacles, both practical and environmental.

(8) SYLVIA RUCKER (1943-2023). Sylvia Bogsch Rucker, Rudy Rucker’s wife, died January 6. He pays tribute to her in “Sylvia’s Life”.

…Her curiosity never ended, even in her final days she wanted to know the details of everyone’s lives. This special attention made everyone feel loved. Her loving, warm, beautiful spirit will be deeply missed by all….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1926 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Pooh and food

We shall talk about Pooh and food. Well actually I believe that A.E. Milne only had one food that his round little bear found interesting to the point of obsession and that was honey. Honey, often spelled Hunny by Pooh, is as you know the ever so sweet food made by bees. 

It’s easily the most important food in the Winnie-the-Pooh works, being loved by pooh bears, heffalumps and woozles and also enjoyed by rabbits and piglets. 

Pooh even called it smackerel , which is to say a snack of a small amount of honey. Indeed In the very first chapter, Pooh tells us, “the only reason for making honey is so as I can eat it”.

And yes, actual bears do love honey. They’ll break open a tree to get at a wild hive inside a dead trunk eating the honey and bees alike. They particularly like the bee larvae. 

““When you wake up in the morning, Pooh” said piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

“It’s the same thing,” he said.”

The illustration is from the 1926 first edition with the art by E.A. Shepherd.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 10, 1904 Ray Bolger. The Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, the villainous Barnaby in Babes in Toyland, two appearances on Fantasy Island, andVector In “Greetings from Earth” on the Seventies version of Battlestar Galactica. He made a Dr. Pepper ad which you can see here. (Died 1987.)
  • Born January 10, 1937 Elizabeth Anne Hull. She served as the President of the Science Fiction Research Association and editor of its newsletter. She was 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 was 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 William Sanderson, 79. 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, 1944 Jeffrey Catherine JonesShe was an artist providing more than a hundred and fifty covers for many different types of genre books through mid seventies including the Ace paperback editions of the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser series including Swords Against Death. 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, 1947 George Alec Effinger. I’ve read his Marîd Audran series at least twice as it’s an amazing series in both the characters and the setting. I never read the short stories set in this setting until Golden Gryphon Press sent me Budayeen Nights for Green Man to review.  I don’t think I’ve ever encountered any of his other works. (Died 2002.)
  • Born January 10, 1959 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. And he showed up in the Stormageddon film (which sounds like the name a Filer would give to a beloved  SJW Cred) as well. 
  • Born January 10, 1959 Fran Walsh, 64. 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? The Hobbit films did not win Hugos.  The first one was nominated at LoneStarCon 3 but lost out to The Avengers; the other two were not nominated.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) TOTOPOTUS. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Miranda Parkin (@mparkinb) did this piece based on Season 2 of the HBO sci-fi comedy television series Avenue 5 (2020-):

(13) LOOK CLOSER. [Item by Jo Van.] Something tonight reminded me of the Deep Space Nine Documentary What We Left Behind, which I helped to crowd-fund back in 2017, and I was thinking, wait a minute, wasn’t there something about a posted acknowledgement of the contributors?

It took a foray into the Wayback Machine, but I found it… and there’s my name, down about where Sisko’s communicator would be.

(14) GAINING CREDENTIALS. Annalisa Barbieri tells the Guardian “What the love of cats taught me about myself”.

I never thought I’d kiss a cat. Or like them, or be in a room with them. Cats, to me, were evil and unpredictable. A classic projection, if ever I saw one, of fear manifesting as dislike. Intense fear. Intense dislike.

But then I became a mother and, as we all know, maternal love makes you do strange, selfless things occasionally. My children started asking for a cat. I said no, of course. My home was my safe place. No cats allowed. For some years they asked for a cat, on and off. Eventually, the “why we should get a cat” lists started getting toilet-roll long and I started thinking, maybe we can get a kitten. Kittens are cute. I started watching videos. Kittens were cute….

(15) BIG SIXTIES FINISH. Victoria Silverwolf wraps up a review of a famous anthology: “[January 10, 1968] Saving the Best For Last (Dangerous Visions, Part Three)” at Galactic Journey.

Welcome to the last of our three discussions about an anthology of original fantasy and science fiction that’s drawing a lot of attention. Love it or hate it, or maybe a little of both, it’s impossible to ignore….

(16) ALAS, POOR UNIVAC. Arturo Serrano brings us “Microreview [book]: Hamlet, Prince of Robots by M. Darusha Wehm” at Nerds of a Feather.

No longer the seat of Danish monarchy, Elsinore is now a corporation, a leading manufacturer of human-like robots. The murdered Hamlet senior was the Humanoid Artificial Mind (Learned Emotive Type), a model that represented a huge leap ahead in robotic innovation. Instead of a queen, Gertrude is a CEO, whose hopes for Elsinore’s bottom line now depend on the success of her latest creation, the Hamlet v.2. If the company doesn’t maintain dominance of the robot market, its (figurative) throne will be snatched by its main competitor, which is aggressively promoting a rival model, the Fortinbras. But one night, a portion of old code from Hamlet v.1 copies itself into the hard drive of Hamlet v.2, and a quest for revenge begins to take shape.

Everything’s better with robots, and a retelling of one of the biggest classics in the Western canon is a sure attention grabber….

(17) ON THE SHELF. Nerds of a Feather’s Paul Weimeralso asked the Hamlet author for recommendations in “Six Books with M. Darusha Wehm”.

1. What book are you currently reading?

I’ve had it on my shelf since it came out, but only just started The Book of Flora by Meg Elison. It’s the third and final book in the “Road to Nowhere” series, which starts with The Book of the Unnamed Midwife. The whole series is an incredible, post-apocalyptic saga of the struggles of communities in dark times. I’ve loved the two previous books in the series, but while the books offer stories of human resilience, they are also harrowing to read, so I’ve had to space them out in my reading time…. 

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In case you missed the Sixties we offer “The Complete 14 Batman Window Cameos”.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/1/23 Billy Pixel Has Come Unscrolled In Time

(1) COMING UP. Nicholas Whyte researched the genre so he could tell you “What to expect in 2023, according to science fiction” at From the Heart of Europe.

I wasn’t able to find a single film set in 2023. I did find eight novels, one video game, and two Japanese anime series (and a third set in 2023 but missing my usual twenty-years-before deadline as it was made in 2004)….

…The one video game set in 2023 is Perfect Dark, originally released by Nintendo in 2000 but remastered since and still on the market, about special agent Emma Dark heading off an alien-led conspiracy to Take Over The World. The trailer is visually impressive if the script is a bit cringe (“the only person man enough to handle the job … is a woman!”)

(2) THE GOOD GUYS. Cora Buhlert has posted the companion piece to the Darth Vader Parenthood Award, “The 2022 Jonathan and Martha Kent Fictional Parent of the Year Award”.

While I have been awarding the Darth Vader Parenthood Award for Outstandingly Horrible Fictional Parents for 42 years now, the Jonathan and Martha Kent Fictional Parent of the Year Award is a new prize that I only introduced in 2020 as a companion piece to the Darth Vader Parenthood Award.

As for why I felt the need to introduce a companion award, depictions of parenthood in popular culture are currently undergoing a paradigm shift with more positive portrayals of supportive and loving parents and fewer utterly terrible parents. Personally, I believe that this shift is a very good thing, because the reason that I started the Darth Vader Parenthood Award in the first place is because I was annoyed by all the terrible parents in pop culture. For while most real world parents may not be perfect, at least they do their best. Maybe, the conditions that gave rise to the Darth Vader Parenthood Award will eventually cease to exist and we can permanently retire the award….

(3) CENTENNIAL-LEE. Sideshow celebrates “Stan Lee 100: Stan the Man’s Amazing, Fantastic Centennial!” with an extended profile.

This year marks one hundred years of Stan Lee! To some, he’s known as the King of Cameos. To others, Stan the Man or True Believer. No matter what you call him, Stan Lee is a beloved figure in the world of comic books and super heroes.

Over time, Stan Lee became a larger-than-life character all his own. Marvel is celebrating 100 years of Stan Lee with plenty of history, quotes, and collabs from one of the most famous faces in comics. In honor of his enduring legacy, let’s look at Stan Lee’s life, starting with his origin story up until his endless string of pop culture cameos….

(4) KSR AND CLI-FI. Oliver Brackenbury interviews Kim Stanley Robinson for the Unknown Worlds of the Merril Collection podcast: “Climate Fiction”.

(5) MEMORY LANE.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Our next set of essays is concerned with food and drink, and where better to start than in Ellen Kushner’s Riverside during the Winter and with their obsession with hot chocolate.

IN THE MORNING, THERE WAS CHOCOLATE.

Betty seemed recovered from the previous day’s excesses. She must not have been working the party. The tray barely rattled as she set it down by the bed, and a heavenly rich scent filled the room.

I got up at once to engage with the little pot of bitter chocolate, set out with an entire jug of hot cream, as much sugar as I should care to put into it and, oh, the loveliest china cup to mix it in! I wished my mother were there to share it with me. I poured slowly, watching the cream swirl in the cup. It made the confusions and indignities of last night seem a little more worth it; I felt even better when Betty said, “And your new clothes have come, too.”

The chocolate was marvelous, but I gulped it down, assuring myself, There will be more again tomorrow, and tomorrow, and again the day after that.

— The Privilege of The Sword

Now it’s not going to surprise you that the fans of Riverside have created a cuisine for it, all the result of a contest from The Fall of the Kings audiobook launch.

And Ellen being Ellen has kindly collected those recipes including of course those for hot chocolate on on her excellent site. As she puts it there, “you’ll find everything from recipes and menus created by fans of the series to delight the Mad Duke Tremontaine and his Riverside friends, to ones created by friends of the author to keep her at her desk.” 

And yes, I’m deeply, madly in love with both Swordspoint and The Privilege of The Sword. I’ve read them many, many times and even the Suck Fairy gets a warm fussy feeling every time she reads them. 

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 1, 1854 James George Frazer. Author of The Golden Bough, the pioneering if deeply flawed look at similarities among magical and religious beliefs globally.  He’s genre adjacent at a minimum, and his ideas have certainly been used by SFF writers a lot both affirming and (mostly) critiquing his ideas. (Died 1941.)
  • Born January 1, 1889 Seabury Quinn. Pulp writer now mostly remembered for his tales of Jules de Grandin, the occult detective, which were published in Weird Tales from the Thirties through the Fifties. Surprisingly, at least to me, there’s a lot his fiction at the usual suspects. (Died 1969.)
  • Born January 1, 1933 Joe Orton. In his very brief writing career, there is but one SFF work, Head to Toe which the current publisher says “is a dream-vision allegory of a journey on the body of a great giant or ‘afreet’ (a figure from Arabic mythology) from head to toe and back, both on the body and in the body.”  Orton was murdered by his lover. Unlike his other novels, Head to Toe is not available at the usual suspects. (Died 1967.)
  • Born January 1, 1926 Zena Marshall. She’s Miss Taro in Dr. No, the very first Bond film. The Terrornauts in which she’s Sandy Lund would be her last film. (The Terrornauts is based off Murray Leinster‘s The Wailing Asteroid screenplay apparently by John Brunner.) She had one-offs in Danger ManThe Invisible Man and Ghost Squad. She played Giselle in Helter Skelter, a 1949 film where the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, played Charles the Second. (Died 2009.)
  • Born January 1, 1954 Midori Snyder, 69. I was most impressed with The Flight of Michael McBride, the Old West meet Irish myth story and hannah’s garden, a creepy tale of the fey and folk music. She’s seems to have been inactive for a decade now. Anyone know why?
  • Born January 1, 1965 Jennifer Hale, 58. She’s a voice actor primarily showing up on such series as Green Lantern: The Animated SeriesStar Trek: Lower Decks and all over the Star Wars universe. She played Killer Frost in Batman: Assault on Arkham, the animated Suicide Squad film that was infinitely better than the live ones were.
  • Born January 1, 1971 Navin Chowdhry, 52. He’s Indra Ganesh in a Ninth Doctor story, “Aliens of London“.   I also found him playing Mr. Watson in Skellig, a film that sounds really interesting.  He was also Prince Munodi in the BBC Gulliver’s Travels series, and oh, and I almost forgot to mention that he was Nodin Chavdri in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Born January 1, 1976 Sean Wallace, 47. Anthologist, editor, and publisher known for his work on Prime Books and for co-editing three magazines, Clarkesworld Magazine which I love, The Dark, and Fantasy Magazine which is another fav of mine. He won an impressive three Hugo Awards and two World Fantasy Awards. His People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction and Fantasy with Rachel Swirsky is highly recommended.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) THREE BY BUHLERT. Cora Buhlert has had a story and two articles published lately.

….I wasn’t enamoured with John Norman’s debut novel Tarnsman of Gor and didn’t plan on reading the sequel. However, December 6 is St. Nicholas Day and since St. Nick was kindly enough to put a copy of Outlaw of Gor into my stocking, I of course felt obliged to read and review it….

(9) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Screen Junkies’ Honest Trailers brings us “Every Star Wars Movie (Compilation)” beginning with “Star Wars the first one (we are not calling it a New Hope)” that has grown into an industry “where every single person, place, or thing on screen has at least a 1000-word Wikipedia article about it.”

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

Pixel Scroll 12/26/22 Come All Ye Pixels

(0) The Spirits have done it all in one night! (Then sent us back to work on Monday again — how is that fair?)

(1) THE DOCTOR ARRIVED RIGHT AFTER SANTA. As someone said, “We didn’t get a Christmas special, but we did get a one minute long Christmas trailer” — “The show is just beginning…” #DoctorWho returns in 2023.

And WhoCulture will be happy to tell you the meaning of every scene. They take 13 times longer than the trailer itself, but to be fair a picture is worth a thousand words only if you already know the words.

(2) THE BEST. The Galactic Stars of 1967 have been revealed in [ “Hit Parade ’67 (the year’s best science fiction)” at Galactic Journey.

Sure, there are other “must-read” lists. The Hugos. The Nebulas. But no other list is as comprehensive, so thoroughly vetted, so absolutely certain to be filled with excellent material than the Galactic Stars.

Thus, without further ado, here are the Galactic Stars for 1967! Results are in order of voting for the winners, alphabetical order by author for the honorable mentions.

Here’s the result in one prestigious category:

Best Author

Samuel R. Delany

Surprise, surprise…

Honorable Mention

Larry Niven

Fritz Leiber

The winner is the prince of the New Wave, while the runner ups include a scion of the new hard sf and a distinguished gentleman of the genre. A nice balance, I think!

(3) HEAR THE DARK. BBC Radio 4’s 12-part adaptation of Susan Cooper’s cult novel had its world premiere on December 19, 2022, and drops daily from December 21. When the dark comes rising, who will hold it back?

Start with the 7-minute teaser.

Fighting against evil in a time-travelling midwinter family drama. A gripping journey through a frozen landscape… and an unending epic battle against the forces of “the Dark”. On midwinter’s eve, 11-year-old Will Stanton discovers he is an ancient being and guardian of “the Light”. This eerie drama is best experienced on headphones for a unique, immersive ‘binaural’ experience.

Then listen to Episode One: “The Sign-Seeker”

A boy’s 11th birthday and an unusual gift mark the beginning of a great test of character, as young Will Stanton is drawn into an ancient struggle between Light and Dark.
He is told his task: to find the six Signs of the Light before the Dark destroys them. Realising he has supernatural powers, Will learns he is an ‘Old One’, whose duty is to fight the rising strength of the Dark across the centuries. #TheDarkIsRising

This version, edited for BBC Radio 4, of the BBC World Service serialisation of Susan Cooper’s classic, written and recorded to take place across the Christmas holidays.

(4) HELP THE BORROWERS. Kelly McClymer advises writers “How to Bring Your Indie Book to the Attention of a Librarian” in an installment of “The Indie Files” at the SFWA Blog.

… As an indie author, you may have a way to get a librarian’s attention that is not available to the traditionally published author—letting the library acquire the book in the way that suits them best. If they would like a library hardback edition, you can do that. If they buy from a certain eBook or audiobook catalog, you can make sure your book is available there.

Key phrase: get the librarian’s attention. Librarians, like most readers, want more books that they can afford to buy, so they have to prioritize according to their patrons’ desires and interests….

(5) SNAPPED BACK. Writer-director Ryan Coogler and co-screenwriter Joe Robert Cole discuss “The ‘Black Panther’ Sequel That Never Was” with the New York Times.

…In the initial draft of the script, before Chadwick’s death, how were you looking at the story? What were the challenges?

COOGLER It was, “What are we going to do about the Blip?” [In Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” T’Challa is one of billions of people who suddenly vanish, only to be brought back by the Avengers five years later.] That was the challenge. It was absolutely nothing like what we made. It was going to be a father-son story from the perspective of a father, because the first movie had been a father-son story from the perspective of the sons.

In the script, T’Challa was a dad who’d had this forced five-year absence from his son’s life…

(6) A STOP-MOTION NUTCRACKER. This month, for Christmas, David, Tora, and Alexander Case are taking a look at the 1979 Sanrio stop-motion animated film Nutcracker Fantasy. Anime Explorations: “Nutcracker Fantasy (1979) – Breaking it all Down”.

(7) DREDDING CHANGE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The Judge Dredd Megazine has just changed its format. For some years now, this monthly comic came in a bag together with a mini-graphic novel of old strips and had a saddle stitch (staples). From this month on it will now be perfect bound with a flat spine and the min-graphic novel will be incorporated into the Megazine proper.

And while your attention is here, if you are not familiar with the Galaxy’s greatest comic then there is a new graphic anthology now out, The Best of 2000AD volume 1 (£14.99 / US$22.99 ISBN 978-1-786-18706-2).  It is the ultimate 2000AD mix tape and an excellent introductory taster for those not yet familiar with the comic which remains the only guaranteed cure for lesser spotted thrill-sucker infections. Zarjaz. Available from all good thrill merchants on both sides of the Pond (but not Russia or China).

In this volume: Judge Dredd battles Mutie Block anarchy; Halo Jones escapes in Alan Moore’s first masterpiece; humanity is on the Brink in the space murder mystery from Dan Abnett and INJ Culbard; Judge Anderson takes centre stage in the search for Sham.

Splundig.

(8) STEPHEN GREIF (1944-2022). Actor Stephen Greif, whose genre resume includes Blake’s 7 and Doctor Who, died at age 78 on December 23.

… After starring in numerous stage productions throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, he made the transition to screen – landing the role of space commander Travis in Blake’s 7.

The show ran from 1978 to 1981, with Greif starring alongside Gareth Thomas, Paul Darrow, Michael Keating and Sally Knyvette….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

[By Cat Eldridge.] Dr. Seuss and Cat in the Hat sculpture at UCSD

Who doesn’t love Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat? Or Dr. Seuss himself? Well if you don’t, you can leave right now as we are going to look at a very stellar sculpture of both of them that is located the University of California at San Diego. It was in 2004, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dr. Seuss, that the Theodor Seuss Geisel Memorial statue made its debut outside the Geisel Library at UC San Diego.

Geisel lived over forty years in La Jolla and died there, in a home not far from that university. Indeed, University of California San Diego’s main library, the Geisel Library, is now home of the Dr. Seuss Collection, as he dedicated all of his papers and other memorabilia there. 

The sculpture on the plaza outside the library is by Lark Grey Dimond-Cates. The Cat in the Hat stands at Dr. Seuss’ shoulder holding an umbrella.

This is not the original casting as that is to be found at the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden at the Springfield Museums’ Quadrangle in Springfield, Massachusetts, the birthplace of Theodor Seuss Geisel, which we’ve discussed here previously. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 26, 1791 Charles Babbage. Y’ll likely best know him as creator of the Babbage Machine which shows up in Perdido Street StationThe Peshawar LancersThe Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage webcomic, and there’s “Georgia on My Mind”, a novelette by Charles Sheffield which involves a search for a lost Babbage device. The latter won both a Nebula and a Hugo Award for Best Novelette. (Died 1871.)
  • Born December 26, 1903 Elisha Cook, Jr. On the Trek side, he shows up as playing lawyer Samuel T. Cogley in the “Court Martial” episode. Elsewhere he had long association with the genre starting with Voodoo Island and including House on a Haunted HillRosemary’s BabyWild Wild WestThe Night Stalker and Twilight Zone. (Died 1995.)
  • Born December 26, 1911 Milton Luros. Illustrator during the Golden Age of pulp magazines from 1942 to 1954 (yes I’m expansive on what I consider to be to the Golden Age). His work graced Science Fiction QuarterlyAstounding StoriesFuture Combined with Science Fiction StoriesFuture Science Fiction StoriesDynamic Science Fiction and Science Fiction Quarterly. He had an amazing ability to illustrate women in outfits in hostile environments that simply were impractical such as one for Science Fiction Quarterly (UK), October 1952 cover had a cut out in her spacesuit so her décolletage was bare.  (Died 1999.)
  • Born December 26, 1951 Priscilla Olson, 71. She and her husband have been involved with NESFA Press’s efforts to put neglected SF writers back into print and she has edited myriad works by such as Chad Oliver and Charles Harness, plus better-known ones like Jane Yolen.  She’s chaired a number of Boskones.
  • Born December 26, 1953 Clayton Emery, 69. Somewhere there’s a bookstore with nothing but the novels and collections that exist within a given franchise. This author has novels in the Forgotten RealmsMagic: The Gathering and Runesworld franchise, plus several genre works including surprisingly Tales of Robin Hood on Baen Books. Must not be your granddaddy’s Hood.
  • Born December 26, 1970 Danielle Cormack, 52. If it’s fantasy and it was produced in New Zealand, she might have been in it. Performer of New Zealander status so you can guess what that means — Ephiny on  Xena: Warrior Princess, a one shot as Lady Marie DeValle on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Ephiny on the same series, Katherine on Jack of All Trades (which I’ve mentioned before was one of Kage Baker’s fav shows) as, well, Bruce was the lead. She was Raina on Cleopatra 2525 and Shota on the Legend of the Seeker. Genre television has been very, very good for the New Zealand economy! 

(11) HAIR APPARENT. And speaking again of Dr. Seuss, he’s the illustrator in Vanity Fair’s December 1931 article “Santa Claus’s beard through the ages” by Corey Ford.

The first thing that Dr. Seuss and I did, therefore, was to endeavor to trace Santa Claus’s beard back through the ages to the dawn of history. In order to accomplish this effectively, we each seized a separate strand of beard, and followed it independently to its source. The strand that Dr. Seuss chose led him a merry chase, up hill and down dale, all the way back to ancient Greek mythology, where he discovered a fabulous creature known as the Santaur (see illustration), which he claims is the origin of the whole legend of Kris Kringle. On the other hand, my own strand eventually brought me to a source known as the chin of Frank J. Swartfigure, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, who claimed he had come to New York as a boy to make his fortune, and had been standing ever since on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 47th Street, waiting for the lights to change. …

(12) A NOSE WHERE IT DOESN’T BELONG. If you think of Die Hard as Christmastime entertainment – which my nephew Bradley does – you will appreciate the nuanced humor of Eize Basa’s Twitter thread (which starts here.)

(13) GETTING WISER AS THEY GO. Tom Gauld has his own version of the wisdom of the Magi.

(14) VIDEO OF THE PREVIOUS DAY. Santa Claus appeared on Batman in 1966.

In a window cameo that makes their encounter with Col. Klink seem plausible, Batman and Robin meet Ol’ Saint Nick (played by the great character actor Andy Devine.) The Caped Crusader even directly addresses the audience

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Peer, Alexander Case, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Fiona Moore, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Iphinome.]

Pixel Scroll 9/24/22 A Click of Scrolling Pixels Are We

(1) HAPPY BIRTHDAY SYFY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Today, September 24, 2022, marks the 30th anniversary of the Sci-Fi Channel (now SYFY). Can you guess what the first movie they ran was? “What was first show on Sci-Fi Channel, now SYFY?”

…The lead-up to the debut of the channel was marked with intriguing, somewhat ominous promos warning of “an invasion” that was “coming for you.” As the date drew closer, a countdown clock ticked down the seconds until the Sci-Fi Channel made its debut on a reported 10 million of the United State’s then-56 million cable-owning households. (In New York City, Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy was the Master of Ceremonies at the launch party, which was held in the Hayden Planetarium.) The first official broadcast of the Sci-Fi Channel was a sad one, dedicating it to Roddenberry and Asimov, both of whom had died before the Sci-Fi Channel launched. 

The dedication was followed by a nifty little faux news report from the year 2142….

(2) SOUND DECISION? Deadline reports James Earl Jones may be done as the voice of Darth Vader. “James Earl Jones Signs Over Rights To Voice Of Darth Vader, Signalling Retirement From Legendary Role”.

James Earl Jones – one of the most distinctive voices in the history of film – appears to have made steps to step back from voicing the Star Wars character, Darth Vader, after nearly 40 years in the role.

Vanity Fair reports that the actor, aged 91, has signed over the rights to his voice to filmmakers using new AI, technology, Matthew Wood of Lucasfilm told the magazine that the actor “wished to keep Vader alive”

“He had mentioned he was looking into winding down this particular character,” Wood told Vanity Fair. “So how do we move forward?”…

(3) THE HUGO HAS LANDED. It took awhile for Cora Buhlert’s Best Fan Writer Hugo to arrive. So naturally – as fan writers do — she got a good blog post out of it! “2022: A Hugo Odyssey”. However, the ending is not that happy – it arrived with the base broken.

…By Tuesday, there was still no change and no answer to my e-mail either, so I called FedEx Germany customer service and explained my problem.

“Did you order this?” the lady at the other end of the line asked me.

I said, “No, I did not order it, I won it.”

“Are you aware this might be a scam?” the lady asked.

I explained to her that no, it’s not a scam, that the Hugo is a legitimate award and that I won it, that she can google it, if she doesn’t believe me and that I’d really like my trophy now….

(4) TWO STEPS FORWARD, ONE STEP BACK. The new Chengdu Worldcon website, which launched without any reference to who its Guests of Honor are, or even having any, has now progressed to (1) a placeholder graphic and (2) a link to Guests of Honor that only goes to the About page. I think we’re all looking forward to reading what they have to say about Sergey Lukianenko.

(5) TOMB OF DOOM. Galactic Journey’s Jessica Holmes is tuned in as the 1967 season of Doctor Who begins. “[September 24th, 1967] A Really Cool Story (Doctor Who: Tomb Of The Cybermen)”.

Doctor Who is back for another season, and let me tell you: we’re off to a promising start. The Cybermen are back, we’ve got a new companion, and Patrick Troughton continues to impress in his role. Let’s take a look at Doctor Who in The Tomb Of The Cybermen….

(6) ERIC IDLE IS BACK. Eric Idle told TIME about his experience surviving pancreatic cancer.

About three years ago I was incredibly lucky: I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Lucky? One of the most lethal forms of cancer, how on earth was that lucky? Well, because it was found incredibly early. No, not before lunchtime, but before it had gone anywhere…

The 79-year-old then proved to himself he still has what it takes by participating in costume on The Masked Singer. “The full Monty: Eric Idle talks ‘Masked Singer,’ secret cancer battle, the Rutles, George Harrison, his lost David Bowie/Kate Bush movie, and making Queen Elizabeth II laugh” at Yahoo!

The Hedgehog is among the many absurdist roles that Monty Python’s Eric Idle, who was unmasked this week on The Masked Singer Season 8’s premiere, was perhaps born to play. “The Hedgehog was perfect for me, because I’m prickly, and when I’m attacked, I curl up into a ball,” he jokes to Yahoo Entertainment the day after his big reveal. On the show, Idle actually pointed out that going on The Masked Singer was one of the more normal things he’d ever done in his career, and he tells Yahoo, “Yes, being silly and dressing up in silly animal costumes is not strange to me. When they asked me, and it was out of the blue, I thought, ‘Well, this is in my wheelhouse.’”

But there was a serious reason why the 79-year-old British comedy legend accepted Fox’s invitation: to make a comeback and test himself after his secret, against-all-odds pancreatic cancer battle, and to spread awareness for his new Bright Side Fund partnership with Stand Up to Cancer. Idle revealed the news about his 2019 diagnosis shortly after his Masked Singer episode aired.

Below, Idle discusses his cancer recovery; how he convinced Paul McCartney to let him cover “Love Me Do” on The Masked Singer despite the Beatle’s previous grudge over Idle’s Fab Four parody band the Rutles…

(7) SNAPE SNIPES. “Alan Rickman’s secret showbiz diaries: the late actor on Harry Potter, politics and what he really thought of his co-stars”:  the Guardian has excerpts.

2001

4 November
HARRY POTTER PREMIERE.
6.30pm The film should only be seen on a big screen. It acquires a scale and depth that matches the hideous score by John Williams. Party afterwards at the Savoy is much more fun….

2004

23 May
NEW YORK.
4pm Harry Potter 3. World Premiere.

Arriving at Radio City was like being a Beatle. Thousands of fans screamed as we got out of cars. Mostly for Daniel Radcliffe but a rush for everyone. Not to mention walking out on to the stage to 6,000.

Alfonso has done an extraordinary job. It is a very grown-up movie, so full of daring that it made me smile and smile. Every frame of it is the work of an artist and storyteller. Stunning effects that are somehow part of the life of the film, not show-off stunts. Later back to the hotel w. Ariel Dorfman, who takes egomania to utterly charming heights. He just loves being him…

2007

20 July
[PUBLICATION DAY OF THE LAST HARRY POTTER.]
11.15pm Tunbridge Wells and Waterstones. I had guessed at 20 or 30 people waiting for midnight. Probably 300-400. And a queue moving slowly. One hour in the queue and it was time for action. Went to friendly security man. “Have you read the books?” No. “Have you seen the films?” One of them. “I’m in them.” Oh yes! There will be mayhem if I go into the queue. “I’ll get the manager.”

(Manager arrives.) “Oh! Hello!”

(8) A SLAP IN THE FACE OF OUTER SPACE. Zapf.punkt #15, edited by Filer Mlex, reviews the French science fiction novel, Metro to Hell (1962), by Validimir Volkoff, which features half-human zombies called Necrozones.

Then there’s a brief tour of the British paperback houses: Consul, Corgi, and Compact, in a review of Steve Holland’s Mushroom Jungle: A history of postwar paperback publishing (1993)

(9) LOUISE FLETCHER (1934-2022). Actress Louise Fletcher died September 23. She won an Oscar as Nurse Ratched, but she also played Bajoran religious leader Kai Winn Adami for 14 episodes of Deep Space Nine, and had appearances Invaders from Mars and the Ray Bradbury Theater.

… “I knew from the movies,” she would say, “that I wouldn’t have to stay in Birmingham and be like everyone else.”

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1995 [By Cat Eldridge.] So what’s the best televised SF series ever done? Max Headroom? Farscape? Babylon 5? The original Trek? May I put in a vote for a series that lasted just one season twenty-seven years ago? That would be of course Space: Above And Beyond. A series with strong overtones of Robert Heinlein in it.

It was created and written by Glen Morgan and James Wong who would collectively write many of the X-Files scripts.

It originally had been planned as a five season story, but only ran for one season, due largely to low ratings. The cast, I submit, of Lanei Chapman, Kristen Cloke, Joel de la Fuente, James Morrison (sexiest actor alive I say), Rodney Rowland  and Morgan Weisser was absolutely stunning in their roles as members of the United States Marine Corps 58th Squadron of the Space Aviator Cavalry fighting the methane breathing Chigs.

Trivia: though humanoid, they were named after a species of fleas. 

Just in case there’s a soul here who’s not seen it yet though I find that extremely unlikely, I’ll not do spoilers at all. It’s perhaps the best depiction of a military campaign in space that we are likely to see. Think of it as the complete and absolute antithesis of Starship Troopers. No breasts in the showers here. No almost Nazi references. No hotshot pilots. 

It ran a mere twenty-three episodes, and depending on your viewpoint, wrapped its storyline, or didn’t. The writers certainly thought they did. I’ve actually heard it argued both ways by its fans. 

The producers have said it is not Starship Troopers that was their main influence but rather was The Forever War. (Good choice I say. A stellar book that very much deserved the Hugo it won at MidAmeriCon.)

Interesting note: if the sound effects later sound familiar to you, it was because they were reused on Futurama.

It’s not apparently streaming anywhere.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 24, 1922 Bert Ira Gordon, 100. He not only wrote but directed such films as Serpent IslandKing DinosaurThe Amazing Colossal ManEarth vs. the SpiderVillage of the Giants and Empire of the Ants. Forrest J Ackerman nicknamed him “Mr. B.I.G.” a reference to both his initials and his films’ tendency to feature super-sized creatures.
  • Born September 24, 1934 John Brunner. My favorite works by him? The Shockwave RiderStand on Zanzibar which won a Hugo at St. Louiscon and The Sheep Look Up. I’m also fond of The Squares of The City which was nominated for a Hugo at Tricon. That was easy. What’s your favorite works by him? (Died 1995.)
  • Born September 24, 1936 Jim Henson. As much as I love The Muppet Show, and I’ve watched every show at least twice, I think The Storyteller is his best work. That’s not to overlook Labyrinth, The Witches and The Dark Crystal and the first two Muppets films which are also excellent. Warning note: the three newest takes done on The Muppets suck beyond belief. Disney should be ashamed. (Died 1990.)
  • Born September 24, 1945 David Drake, 77. Writer with his best-known solo work being the Hammer’s Slammers series of military science fiction. He has also written the Royal Cinnabar Navy series which are space operas inspired by the Aubrey–Maturin novels. He has also drafted story ideas that were then finished off by co-authors such as Karl Edward Wagner, S.M. Stirling, and Eric Flint. He’s very, very well stocked at the usual suspects. 
  • Born September 24, 1945 Ian Stewart, 77. Mathematician and writer. He makes the Birthday Honors for the four volumes in The Science of Discworld series he wrote with Jack Cohen and Terry Pratchett. It was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000. Each of the books alternates between the usually absurd Discworld story and serious scientific exposition. (All four volumes are available from the usual suspects.) He would write a number of genre novels, none of which I’m familiar with. Anybody here read his works? 
  • Born September 24, 1951 David Banks, 71. During the Eighties, he was the Cyberleader on Doctor Who in all the stories featuring the Cybermen — Earthshock (Fifth Doctor story), The Five Doctors, Attack of the Cybermen (Sixth Doctor story), and Silver Nemesis (Seventh Doctor story). In 1989, he played the part of Karl the Mercenary in the Doctor Who: The Ultimate Adventure stage play. There were two performances where he appeared as The Doctor as he replaced Jon Pertwee who had fallen ill.
  • Born September 24, 1950 Harriet Walter, 72. I knew I recognized her — she shows up in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as Kalonia, in A Dorothy L. Sayers Mystery as Harriet Vane for the entire run, and the Thirteenth Doctor story, “Revolution of the Daleks” as the Prime Minister. And that’s not mentioning the many appearances on mysteries that she’s made! 
  • Born September 24, 1965 Richard K. Morgan, 57. The Takeshi Kovacs novels are an awesome series which are why I haven’t watched the Netflix series. His fantasy series, A Land Fit For Heroes, is on my TBR, well my To Be Listened To pile now. And yes I read Thin Air, the sequel first and it’s quite excellent. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) BRIDGERTON LITIGATION SETTLED. “Netflix Settles Copyright Suit Over ‘Unofficial Bridgerton Musical’”Variety has the story.

Netflix has settled a copyright lawsuit that it had filed against the creators of “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical.”

The streaming service dismissed the suit on Friday against Emily Bear and Abigail Barlow, the creators of the musical. Though the court filing did not say so, a source confirmed that the suit was in fact settled. The pair had earlier canceled a performance of the musical at Royal Albert Hall in London, which was to take place this week.

Netflix sued in July, alleging that Barlow and Bear had infringed on its copyrights by putting on a for-profit stage show at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The service argued that their conduct “stretches ‘fan fiction’ well past its breaking point.”…

(14) ONCE A KNIGHT. Deadline reports “’Star Wars’ Composer John Williams ‘Knighted By Queen’ In Final Honors”.

Star Wars composer John Williams is reported to have been made one of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s very last knights, with the honor one of the final awards approved by the late monarch before her death a fortnight ago.

British press reports that the veteran composer’s name is on the final list of honorary awards for foreign nationals. 

Ex-Disney chief executive Robert Iger has also reportedly been awarded an honorary KBE for services to UK-US relations…

(15) REWILDING IN FLORIDA. Jeff VanderMeer is interviewed in Audubon. “Best-Selling Author Jeff VanderMeer Finds That Nature Is Stranger Than Fiction”.

…VanderMeer hoped that, one day, native plants and the insects they supported could sustain birds visiting his backyard. In the meantime, he laid out an avian buffet. This included at least three types of seed feeders (hopper, tube, thistle sock), along with suet cakes in squirrel-proof cages and abundant globs of bark butter. The spread attracted dozens of species. There were Pine Siskins and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Yellow-rumped Warblers, which he called “adorblers.” He learned to recognize their calls. VanderMeer noticed that the Blue Jays uttered a certain warning cry if a cat ambled into the ravine. Whenever he heard it, he ran outside to shoo the cat away. He liked to think they were fighting this predator together. “It’s the least I can do for the community,” VanderMeer deadpanned.

… Even without help from his imagination, ShadowVale could be bracingly strange. One morning a raccoon rang his doorbell at 5 a.m. (The glowing buzzer was unusually low to the ground and paw prints revealed the culprit.) Another time the mailman pleaded with him not to eradicate a patch of invasive grass, calling it “Larry” and arguing “he’s been here 10 years longer than you.” (In the spirit of compromise, VanderMeer gave Larry a haircut instead.) On the east side of the house, he sometimes heard a shriek when he plunged his shovel into the dirt. (The former site of a dog run, it was mined with squeaky toys.)

Apart from such oddities, VanderMeer also had neighbors to contend with. Some doused their lawns with pesticides that could leach into the ravine. Others had solar lamps that ran from dusk till dawn, emitting a constant, low-level light pollution that might disorient nocturnal creatures. He worried about the neighbors’ attitudes toward local wildlife; one insisted, somewhat defensively, that an armadillo had “bared its fangs” at his dog. (Around that time, VanderMeer adds, one of two armadillos frequenting the ravine appeared to go missing.)…. 

(16) NORDIC LARP. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster/] In WIRED, Jason Anthony discusses “Nordic LARP,” the Scandinavian variant of LARPs which focuses on recreating realistic events rather than engaging in fantasy adventure. Anthony spent $300 to take part in a weekend “gay conversion camp” where psychologists are supposed to make gay people straight.  One of the “staff psychologists” in the game is revealed to be Swedish sf writer Karin Tidbeck.

Anthony says that while a weekend of “gay conversion” was not meant to be depressing, there’s a variant of Nordic LARP called “misery LARP” where people spend a weekend in a  “concentration camp” or “slave plantation.” “Nordic Larp: My 4 Days in Fake Gay-Conversion Therapy”.

I’m sharing a silly groove with Walker. The slicked-back bob is gone. The polyester suit is packed away, and now it’s pants and a shirt with a genderqueer pride pin. After a while the two of us duck over to the dining hall, where the group congregates around a few cases of Tuborg beer.

Walker’s transformation is dramatic. They are now Karin Tidbeck, an icon of Swedish science fiction who counts the late Ursula K. Le Guin as a fan. Their novel Amatka described a world constantly created and destroyed through language, and I can’t help but think how much that describes Nordic Larp. Tidbeck looks drained but happy, a beer in their hand….

(17) VERY WEIRD VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I have NO idea what this one by John Butler is about.  But there’s a Bradbury reference in it! “The Avant Garde”.

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

Pixel Scroll 8/16/22 Faraway Pixels With Strange-Sounding Scrolls

(1) HOUSE OF THE DRAGON ACTOR RECEIVES RACIAL ABUSE. “Steve Toussaint reveals racist abuse after being cast in House of the Dragon” – the Guardian has the story.  

Steve Toussaint has revealed he received racist abuse online after he was cast as Corlys Velaryon in the upcoming Game Of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon.

The 57-year-old British actor has previously starred in Doctor Who, Line of Duty and Death in Paradise.

Speaking to the Radio Times about his lead role in the highly anticipated HBO series, Toussaint said: “When they announced [my casting], one of the first things I saw on social media was a drawing of the character [from the books] next to a picture of me.

“And then there was the racist abuse that came with that.”

In the books by George RR Martin on which the series is based, the Velaryons are described as having white skin, ghostly pale hair and purple eyes. However, in the new series the clan are reimagined as black nobles with long silver dreadlocks.

Reflecting on the backlash from fans of the series of books, Toussaint continued: “I kind of thought: ‘Oh, I get it’. When we were criminals and pirates and slaves in the other show, you were OK with that.

“But as this guy is the richest [character] in the show and he’s a nobleman, now you have a problem with it.

“In House Of The Dragon [our colour] is just a given – I quite like that.”

Despite the risk that acknowledging the backlash could give it greater prominence, Toussaint said he thought it was important to address it….

(2) EVERYBODY LOOK, WHAT’S GOING DOWN. Jay Blanc saw that someone in a Baen’s Bar forum is once more writing the kind of things that led Jason Sanford last year to do a report about the forum being used to advocate political violence.

https://twitter.com/jayblanc/status/1559195968251338752

Here’s people on @BaenBooks Web Forum talking about how to shoot someone wearing body armour in a thread about the Judge who signed the #MarALagoFBIRaid warrant.

Please boycott Baen Books for hosting a forum for domestic terrorists. pic.twitter.com/uYxRnp05iG

— Jay Blanc (@jayblanc) August 15, 2022

(3) SOCIAL MEDIA LIGHTNING STRIKES. IN A GOOD WAY. The Guardian profiles a 26-year-old author who got a six figure advance for her YA fantasy debut after it took off on TikTok“More zeros than I’ve seen in my life’: the author who got a six-figure deal via ‘BookTok’”.

Having finally published her first novel, Alex Aster was feeling disheartened. The book had tanked during the pandemic and she had been dropped by her literary agent. Then, on 13 March 2021, she decided to take to TikTok, asking her followers if they would: “read a book about a cursed island that only appears once every 100 years to host a game that gives the six rulers of the realm a chance to break their curses.” One of the rulers must die, the short video revealed, “even as love complicates everything” for the heroine, Isla Crown.

Aster didn’t expect much, especially when she checked in a few hours later to see that her post had only clocked up about 1,000 views. Maybe the books world was right, she thought. Maybe there wasn’t a market for Lightlark, a young adult story she had been writing and rewriting for years, to no interest from publishers. The next day, however, she woke up to see her video had been viewed more than a million times. A week later, Lightlark had gone to auction and she had a six-figure deal with Amulet Books. Last month, Universal preemptively bought the film rights for, in her words, “more zeros than I’ve seen in my life”….

(4) WHEN BOOK LOVERS GET TOGETHER. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] ln the Guardian, Sarah Shaffi wonders about the future of literary festivals after Covid: “Are literary festivals doomed? Why book events need to change”. A lot of this applies to cons as well.

…Lizzie Curle, festival director at Capital Crime, which will be held in September, said festivals were “dealing with the psychological impact” of coronavirus, and people’s nervousness around the illness. To mitigate this, Capital Crime will be moving from its previous venue of the Grand Connaught Rooms in London to “fully aerated” tents in Battersea Park. Although the pandemic meant Capital Crime had to take two years off from an in-person event after its inaugural festival in 2019, Curle said the crisis “forced independent businesses like Capital Crime to get creative”.

Leah Varnell, managing director at Ways With Words in Dartington in Devon, said that “audience numbers were low across all events” at this year’s festival, something she has put down to the cost of living crisis.

“The mood music seemed that ‘leisure’ activities had to be jettisoned due to the already felt increased cost of fuel/food,” she said, “and there was a palpable anxiety about how much more expensive life may yet become and for how long the cost of living pressures would be felt.”…

(5) THE FUTURE IS MODULAR. Cora Buhlert’s latest article for Galactic Journey is about the rise of the shipping container, which is just taking off in 1967: “[August 16, 1967] Boxes, Big Steel Boxes: The Rise of the Shipping Container”.

… The first of the 226 containers on board was unloaded without a hitch. However, disaster struck when the second container, a refrigerated unit called a “reefer container”, carrying frozen chicken legs from Virginia, slipped from the hook of the on-board cargo crane of the Fairland and crashed down onto the driver’s cab of a brand-new truck waiting below. Thankfully, the driver was not seriously injured. The container survived the fall as well, as did the chicken legs, though the truck did not….

(6) WOLFGANG PETERSEN (1941-2022). Noted director Wolfgang Petersen died August 16 at the age of 81. While known for such films as The Perfect Storm, Air Force One and Das Boot, he also directed genre films The NeverEnding Story (1984), Enemy Mine (1985), and (dare we count?) Troy (2004).

(7) MEMORY LANE.  

2011 [By Cat Eldridge.] He-Man is a toy franchise, and yes, I’m approaching it that way, with a complicated history. It started twenty years ago on this date and ended on January 10, 2004. It wasn’t a particularly successful series lasting but two seasons and thirty-nine episodes. 

So why did I emphasis the toy aspect? Because it was produced to coincide with Mattel’s revival of the Masters of the Universe toy franchise eleven years after a previous attempt, which failed quite spectacularly.

So the look and feel emulates the toy line. I’m not an expert on He-Man mythos, so I have drafted one in the guise of Cora Buhlert, who will give her extensive thoughts in a minute.

Video wise as I said, it’s been complicated. There’s been two films and seven series. That’s doesn’t include He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special. Seriously He-Man learns the means of Christmas.

Now let’s have Cora’s rather great review of this. But first she says that you, courtesy of Mattel, can legally watch it. The three-part pilot is up, and they are dropping a new episode she says every Tuesday. The playlist is here: “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002) | Season 1 Episode 1 | The Beginning, Part 1”.

Now for her review.

Cora Buhlert: IMO, it was a very good update of the early 1980s Filmation show. It had more internal continuity than the 1980s show and fleshed out the worldbuilding. Both Prince Adam and Teela were a bit younger in the 2002 show, sixteen as compared to eighteen/nineteen in the Filmation show, and also brattier, but then they are teenagers. This contrasts with the fact that the 2002 show was quite a bit darker and villains like Skeletor or King Hiss were genuinely nasty. Skeletor tortures King Randor and Man-at-Arms, throws a vial of acid in Randor’s face (which backfires) and tries to throw both Prince Adam and Randor into a bottomless abyss. King Hiss, leader of the Snake Men, eats people.  

The 2002 show also gave the supporting characters both good and bad more to do and gave characters like Stinkor (who had never appeared in the original show) or Two-Bad an origin story. And the Snake Men, main antagonists of season 2, had never appeared in the Filmation cartoon at all, because they were introduced after the show ended. The 2002 show also popularized what is now the accepted origin story of Skeletor, namely that he once was Keldor, a blue humanoid and King Randor’s estranged half-brother. He gained his skull face, when he tried to throw a vial of acid into Randor’s face, only for Randor to deflect it and Keldor/Skeletor managing to burn off his own face instead. The character of King Grayskull, He-Man’s heroic ancestor who built Castle Grayskull, originates here. He most recently showed up in Masters of the Universe: Revelation, infuriating the usual suspects because he was portrayed as black in the later show. The man bun Man-at-Arms wears in Masters of the Universe: Revelation (the 2021 Netflix show) also originates here as does the fact (which shows up in my photo stories a lot) that Man-at-Arms and Fisto are brothers. Plus, the 2002 show has the best version of King Randor.

Oddly enough, the 2002 show was more closely tied to the toys Mattel was trying to sell than the 1980s show. Because while the toys would occasionally show up in the Filmation show, they often did whatever they pleased without paying any attention to the toyline. Meanwhile, in the 2002 show, you have a few episodes where the writers obviously tried to shoehorn in some toy Mattel was trying to sell, even though it doesn’t really fit the story, e.g. a touching flashback episode about the events that led to Teela’s birth is interrupted by a random fight with slime zombies.

Things I don’t like: Some of the fight scenes are too stylized – basically people jump into the air and twirl their weapons a lot. Cringer/Battlecat doesn’t talk in this one, whereas I prefer Cringer to talk. Queen Marlena who is a formidable woman in the 1980s show gets very little to do here. Count Marzo, a secondary antagonist from the 1980s show, unfortunately looks like an anti-semitic caricature in his non-powered form, which shocked me in a show made in the 21st century. And I’ll never accept that Fisto is Teela’s biological father, sorry. 

(See Cora’s latest Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre photo story  “The Mystery of He-Man’s Long-Lost Twin Sister” at the link.)

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 16, 1884 Hugo Gernsback. Publisher of the first SF magazine, Amazing Stories in 1926. He also helped create fandom through the Science Fiction League. Pittcon voted him a Hugo titled Father of Magazine Science Fiction, and he was voted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award. He’s the writer of the Ralph 124C 41+ novel which scholar Westfahl considers “essential text for all studies of science fiction.” There’s at least nine versions of it available at the usual suspects which is sort of odd. (Died 1967.)
  • Born August 16, 1930 Robert Culp. He’d make the Birthday Honors solely for being the lead in Outer Limits’ “Demon with a Glass Hand” which Ellison wrote specifically with him in mind. He would do two more appearances on the show, “Corpus Earthling” and “The Architects of Fear”. Around this time, he made one-offs on Get Smart! and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. before being Special FBI Agent Bill Maxwell in The Greatest American Hero. Did you know there was a Conan the Adventurer series in the Nineties in which he was King Vog in one episode? I’ve not seen it. Do we consider I Spy genre? Well we should. (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 16, 1933 Julie Newmar, 89. Catwoman in Batman. Her recent voice work includes the animated Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face, both done in the style of the Sixties show. They feature the last voice work by Adam West. Shatner btw plays Harvey Dent aka Two Face.  She was on the original Trek in the “Friday’s Child” episode as Eleen. She also has one-offs on Get Smart!Twilight ZoneFantasy IslandBionic WomanBuck Rogers in the 25th Century, Bewitched and Monster Squad
  • Born August 16, 1934 andrew j. offutt. I know him through his work in the Thieves’ World anthologies though I also enjoyed the Swords Against Darkness anthologies that he edited. I don’t think I’ve read any of his novels. And I’m not a Robert E. Howard fan so I’ve not read any of his Cormac mac Art or Conan novels but his short fiction is superb. His only award was a Phoenix Award which is a lifetime achievement award for a science fiction professional who had done a great deal for Southern Fandom. (Died 2013.)
  • Born August 16, 1934 Diana Wynne Jones. If there’s essential reading for her, it’d be The Tough Guide to Fantasyland which is a playful look at the genre. Then I’d toss in Deep Secret for its setting, and Fire and Hemlock for her artful merging of the Scottish ballads Tam Lin and Thomas the Rhymer. Now what’s the name of the exemplary short story collection she did late in life? Ahhh it was Unexpected Magic: Collected Stories with the great cover by artist Dan Craig. Yes, I bought it without opening the book solely because of the cover! (Died 2011.)
  • Born August 16, 1958 Rachael Talalay, 64. She made her directorial debut with Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, and she also worked on the first four of the Nightmare on Elm Street films. Moving from horror to SF, she directed Tank Girl next. A long time Who fan, she directed all three of Twelfth Doctor’s series finales; series 8’s “Dark Water” and “Death in Heaven”; along with series 9’s “Heaven Sent” and “Hell Bent”; before directing series 10’s “World Enough and Time” and “The Doctor Falls.” She capped her Who work with “Twice Upon a Time”, the last Twelfth Doctor story. Her latest genre undertaking is A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting.
  • Born August 16, 1960 Timothy Hutton, 62. Best known as Nathan Ford  on the Leverage series which is almost genre. His first genre was in Iceman as Dr. Stanley Shephard, and he was in The Dark Half in the dual roles of Beaumont and George Stark. He’s David Wildee in The Last Mizo, based off “Mimsy Were the Borogoves” by Lewis Padgett (husband-and-wife team Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore). He was Hugh Crain in The Haunting of Hill House series. I’m going to finish off this Birthday note by singling out his most superb role as Archie Goodwin on the Nero Wolfe series. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Macanudo shows what would happen if Peter Pan visited today (though where’s Nana?)

(10) COSTUME PROMPTS POLICE HARASSMENT IN CHINA. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The Guardian has an article about a cosplayer being arrested in Suzhou, China, for wearing a kimono as part of her cosplay: “Chinese woman ‘detained for wearing Japanese kimono’”.

A Chinese woman said she was detained by police for hours and accused of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” for wearing a Japanese kimono and taking photos in a city street.

The woman was wearing the kimono and a wig while cosplaying as a popular character from the manga series Summer Time Rendering. She was taking photos in Suzhou when she and her photographer were approached by a police officer, according to video filmed and shared to social media.

In the video, the woman explains she was conducting a photoshoot, but an officer tells her: “If you came here wearing Hanfu, I wouldn’t say this. But you are wearing a kimono, as a Chinese. You are a Chinese! Are you?”

Hanfu is a term for traditional Han Chinese dress. The woman asked why she was being yelled at and was told she was suspected of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, a catchall accusation used routinely by Chinese authorities against dissidents, journalists and activists.

The video cuts out shortly after she is grabbed by officers and taken away….

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cora Buhlert, Rich Horton, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 6/29/22 I Want To Scroll, What The Pixel On The Table Number 5 Is Scrolling!

(1) MARCEAU RAISES ISSUE ABOUT H.A.G. PRESIDENT. Author Caitlin Marceau tweeted yesterday that she has made the decision to leave the Horror Authors Guild (a different organization than the Horror Writers Association) due to Facebook comments made by the group’s newly-appointed president Don Smith on his own page. Smith was appointed President of HAG after D.A. Roberts stepped down, as Roberts announced June 14 on Facebook. Thread starts here.

(2) OTHER TIMES. Oliver Brackenbury of the Unknown Worlds of the Merril Collection podcast interviews Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus about alternate history fiction: “Alternate Histories”.

(3) A BARBARIAN’S BIRTHDAY. The Cromcast shares another Howard Days recording, this time of a panel to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Conan the Barbarian film: “Howard Days 2022 – Part 6 – Conan the Barbarian at 40!”

In this recording from Saturday, June 11, Paul Sammon shares comments and stories related to his involvement with the first two Conan movies starring Arnold Schwarzenegger .

(4) BEYOND PEEVED. The Guardian tells how the superhero show The Boys enraged its rightwing fanbase, because they apparently did not realize that The Boys was supposed to be satire: “Why superhero satire The Boys turned off its rightwing fanbase”.

There seems to be a low-key competition within the culture at the moment as to who can produce the worst sort of fan. For years, Star Wars has been the far and away winner, with fans bitching and crowing like wounded animals any time the series dares to venture out of its very narrow parameters. And Rick and Morty had a decent shot at the title a few years ago, when fans furious that their favourite show had the temerity to hire a female writer published her personal details online.

But now, thanks to a large and increasingly dunderheaded minority, it would appear that the show with the worst fans alive is currently Amazon’s The Boys. These fans have just twigged that the show’s main villain is actually a villain, and they’re absolutely furious….

(5) MURRAY LEINSTER SIGHTING. A Virginia news site remembers the Dean of Science Fiction on the date he once received a statewide honor: “Editorial: The Virginia writer and inventor who predicted the internet and the multiverse” in The Roanoke Times.

We’ve opined on a number of heavy topics in recent weeks. Today we’re going to take a breather, and contemplate space, time, alternate realities and the possibility of contact with extraterrestrial civilizations.

In this instance, especially on this day, these topics have a Virginia connection.

Thirteen years ago, the General Assembly passed a resolution declaring June 27, 2009, as William Fitzgerald Jenkins Day.

Who the heck, you might wonder, is Will Jenkins?

…Jenkins, who died in 1975, is today remembered above all else as an author, but his most enduring work was not published under his own name. He used a nom de plume, Murray Leinster (pronounced LEN-ster).

As is the case with the invention of front screen projection, while you may not have personally read a Murray Leinster story, odds are extremely high that you’ve been entertain by a book or movie built on themes that he was the first to tackle — or at least the first to tackle in a manner that left a memorable impression through the decades.

Case in point, his 1945 story “First Contact,” which the General Assembly resolution billed as “the first science fiction story to present the dramatic scenario of the first meeting between earthlings and aliens.” The phrase “first contact” has since been used so often in that context that it’s understood to refer to a first encounter of the extraterrestrial kind….

(6) PULLMAN PROTESTS. Sheffield Hallam University in the UK has shuttered its English literature program, because the current UK government considers it a “low value” degree, which caused angry reactions from many prominent writers, including Philip Pullman: “Philip Pullman leads outcry after Sheffield Hallam withdraws English lit degree” in The Guardian.

The award-winning author Philip Pullman has said the study of literature “should not be a luxury for a wealthy minority of spoilt and privileged aesthetes” after it emerged that Sheffield Hallam University is to pull its English literature degree from next year.

He was one of a number of writers to raise concerns about the university’s decision to stop teaching the standalone degree and incorporate it instead into a broad-based English degree, a year after the University of Cumbria took similar action.

A Sheffield Hallam spokesperson confirmed that English literature was among a small number of its courses that were being either suspended or closed, largely due to lack of demand. They said the changes would not involve job losses….

(7) DOROTHY J. HEYDT (1942-2022). Author Dorothy J. Heydt, the originator and first editor of the Star Trek Concordance (1969), died this month reported Seanan McGuire on Twitter. Memory Alpha notes that beginning in 1967 her series of Star Trek stories, “Dorothy and Myfanwy” were published in Ruth Berman’s fanzine T-Negative. The Wikipedia credits her with the invention of the first widely used Vulcan conlangs for that series.

Its words were picked up and used by other fan fiction authors such as Claire Gabriel. One term, ni var, meaning “two form”, an art form in which two contrasting aspects of a subject are compared, is still used on Star Trek: Enterprise, as the name of a Vulcan ship and on Star Trek: Discovery as the new name of the planet Vulcan itself.

She also had poetry and articles published in the first Trek fanzine, Spockanalia.

Later she was an active participant in the Usenet newsgroups rec.arts.sf.written and rec.arts.sf.fandom. She wrote numerous short stories and two novels. Many of her stories appeared in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine, or in collections edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley, including the Sword and Sorceress series, and stories in the Darkover series shared world. 

(8) BILLY WOLFENBARGER (1943-2022). Author and poet Billy Wolfenbarger died June 26. In addition to short fiction and poetry, he wrote columns and contributions for fanzines, especially Bill Bowers’ Outworlds and Xenolith. Two years ago William Breiding fulfilled the late Bowers’ vision of gathering these works in a book – Language at Midnight – now available at eFanzines. Breiding’s introduction shares some of that history:

In 1973 Bill Bowers published The Lizard Speaks by Billy Wolfenbarger in Outworlds 15, the 3rd anniversary issue, as a “book” inclusive to that issue. He then did an overrun of 50 “books” (a mimeographed pamphlet) that he distributed to its author and other interested parties. This was the culmination of an affectionate editor/writer relationship between Bill Bowers and Billy Wolfenbarger that dated as far back as 1964 and the Bill Bowers/Bill Mallardi fanzine Double:Bill.

In 1974 Bowers ran Wolfenbarger’s first “Language At Midnight” column in Outworlds 19. The column continued through Outworlds 26, published in 1975, then hopped over to Bill’s Xenolith in 1977 and ran there until 1980, when Billy stopped writing the column. Billy had a scattershot of other pieces in Bill’s publications—prose and verse—but never another “Language At Midnight” column, which had its own cast of characters and feel to it. (“Where it’s always midnight in October.”)

(9) MEMORY LANE

1972 [By Cat Eldridge.] Fifty years ago, at the very first L.A. Con, we saw Poul Anderson’s “A Queen of Air and Darkness” novella which has been published in F&SF, the April 1971 edition, win the Hugo for Best Novella. (Mike says he both nominated and voted for it.)

It was a particularly strong field that year with the other works being Arthur C. Clarke’s “A Meeting with Medusa”, Larry Niven‘s “The Fourth Profession”, John Brunner’s “Dread Empire” and Gardner R. Dozois’s “A Special Kind of Morning”. 

It would remain in print thereafter showing up immediately in Terry Carr’s The Best Science Fiction of the Year and Lloyd Biggle Jr.’s Nebula Award Winners 7. Anderson put in several collections including, not unsurprisingly, The Queen of Air and Darkness and Other Stories. Currently, of course, it is in the NESFA volumes. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 29, 1919 — Slim Pickens. Surely you remember his memorable scene as Major T. J. “King” Kong in Dr. Strangelove? I certainly do. And of course, he shows up in Blazing Saddles as Taggart. He’s the uncredited voice of B.O.B in The Black Hole and he’s Sam Newfield in The Howling. He’s got some series genre work including several appearances on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, plus work on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Night Gallery. (Died 1983.)
  • Born June 29, 1920 — Ray Harryhausen. All around film genius who created stop-motion model Dynamation animation. His work can be seen in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (his first colour film) which was nominated for a Hugo at Detention, Jason and the Argonauts, Mighty Joe Youngand Clash of the Titans. I’ve got him voted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame twice, in 1996 and 2008. Any idea why?  (Died 2013.)
  • Born June 29, 1943 — Maureen O’Brien, 79. Vicki, companion of the First Doctor. Some forty years later, she reprised the role for several Big Finish Productions Doctor Who audio works. She had a recurring role as Morgan in The Legend of King Arthur, a late Seventies BBC series. Her Detective Inspector John Bright series was well received.
  • Born June 29, 1947 — Michael Carter, 75. Best remembered for being Gerald Bringsley in An American Werewolf in London, Von Thurnburg in The Illusionist and Bib Fortuna in the Return of the Jedi. He plays two roles as a prisoner and as UNIT soldier in the Third Doctor story, “The Mind of Evil”. 
  • Born June 29, 1950 — Michael Whelan, 72. I’m reasonably sure that most of the Del Rey editions of McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series was where I first noticed his artwork but I’ve certainly seen it elsewhere since. He did Heinlein’s The Cat Who Walks Through Walls cover which I love and many more. And there’s a wonderful collection of his work available, Beyond Science Fiction: The Alternative Realism of Michael Whelan.
  • Born June 29, 1956 — David Burroughs Mattingly, 66. He’s an American illustrator and painter, best known for his numerous book covers of genre literature. Earlier in his career, he worked at Disney Studio on the production of The Black HoleTronDick Tracy and Stephen King’s The Stand. His main cover work was at Ballantine Books where he did such work as the 1982 cover of Herbert’s Under Pressure (superb novel), the 2006 Anderson’s Time Patrol and the 1983 Berkley Books publication of E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith Triplanetary.
  • Born June 29, 1957 — Fred Duarte, Jr. His Birthday is today and this long-time Texas fan was well eulogized by Mike here upon his passing several years back. 
  • Born June 29, 1963 — Judith Hoag, 59. Her first genre role was in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as April O’Neil followed by being in Armageddon playing Denise Chappel and then a Doctor in A Nightmare On Elm Street. She filmed a cameo for another Turtle film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, but it was deleted. She’s got one one-offs in Quantum LeapThe Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Strange WorldThe Burning ZoneX-FilesCarnivàle and Grimm. Her lady genre role was in The Magicians as Stephanie Quinn.

(11) ORIGINAL HORROR ANTHOLOGY BY POC. Following a successful Kickstarter, Death In The Mouth: The Best of Contemporary Horror, a horror anthology showcasing BIPOC and other ethnically marginalized writers and artists from around the world edited by Sloane Leong and Cassie Hart, will be released October 1 and is available for pre-order.

Sloane Leong is a cartoonist, artist and writer of Hawaiian, Chinese, Mexican, Native American and European ancestries. She’s written and drawn two acclaimed graphic novels, Prism Stalker and A Map to the Sun, and has short fiction credits with Fireside Magazine, Dark Matter Magazine and Entropy Magazine. She’s also co-edited the anthology Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales: Oceania Edition. Sloane is currently living on Chinook land near what is known as Portland, Oregon.

Cassie Hart is a Māori/Pākehā author and editor from New Zealand. She has been an Australian Shadow, Hugo, and Sir Julius Vogel award finalist across the years, co-winning an SJV for Best Collected works for the anthology, Tales for Canterbury, and is a finalist for Best Edited Works in the Australian Shadow Awards 2021. Her supernatural suspense novel, Butcherbird, releases from Huia in 2021.

The anthology includes these authors and artists:

  • Jolie Toomajan – “Water Goes, Sand Remains”, with art by Jabari Weathers
  • Yah Yah Scholfield – “They Will Take Up Serpents”, with art by Makoto
  • ChiIsha Karki – “Welcome to Labyrinth”, with art by Natalie Hall
  • Endria Richardson – “Wind Up Teeth”, with art by Tsulala
  • Johnny Compton – “No Hungry Generations”, with art by Pierre Roset
  • Arasibo Campeche – “Drowned in Mindfulness”, with art by Michael Deforge
  • K-Ming Chang – “The Three Resurrections of my Grandfather”, with art by Sloane Hong
  • Reno Evangelista – “Her Apocrypha”, with art by Jess Hara
  • Catherine Yu – “Balloon Girl”, with art by Joy San
  • Daphne Fama – “The Pleiades”, with art by Alicia Feng
  • Beatrice Iker– “They’ll Keep You Gestated”, with art by Molly Mendoza
  • Cassie Hart – “She”, with art by Weiwei XuC
  • Pam Zang – “Alice or Rose or Aurora or Allerleuirah or Belle, on the Occasion of the Burial of the Beast”, with art by Charlotte Gomez
  • P. H. Low – “Tongue is a Void”, with art by JaeHoon Choi
  • Kelsea Yu – “The Obedient Son”, with art by Audrey Murty
  • JL Akagi – “Henry Watanabe and the Wandering Hand”, with art by Bhanu Pratap
  • Amaranta Sepulveda Durán – “The Mother-Wound”, with art by Vivian Magaña
  • Sloane Leong – “Paradise”, with art by Solomon Enos
  • Rivers Solomon – “Some of us are Grapefruit”, with art by Junko Mizuno
  • Ras Cutlass – “Melinda and the Grub”, with art by Naomi Butterfield
  • R.S.A. Garcia – “A Bonfire in the Night”, with art by Zhang Hetian
  • Jessica Cho – “On Tattered Wings”, with art by Lina Wu
  • M. L. Krishnan – “The Eggshell Sanctuary”, with art by Julie Benbassat
  • Priya Chand – “Never Lie to Me” with art by Congming
  • Karin Lowachee – “The Black Hole of Beaumort”, with art by Allissa Chan
  • Darcie Little Badger – “Homebody”, with art by Apolo Cacho

(12) IS IT TIME FOR YOUR MOUNT TSUNDOKU TO ERUPT AGAIN? [Item by BGrandath.] Matt of Bookpilled is IMHO one of the best SF reviewers on BookTube, he has a great respect for classic SF. He is going to have an auction of vintage books on Sunday and I thought some Filers might be interested. These are the two links to the event he discusses in the video. (1) Whatnot – Vintage SF & Fantasy Book Clearout Livestream by thriftalife #books, and (2) Bookpilled – Etsy.

(13) A LIVING SKIN COVERING FOR ROBOTS HAS BEEN CREATED. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] In The Terminator film franchise, the hideous form of the robotic Terminators were covered by biological skin. This has now been developed for real by researchers in Japan. They have developed a living-skin consisting of cells and extracellular matrix, as a human-like and self-healing coverage material for robots. It was flexible and felt like skin. If scratched it could even heal. However, this artificial living skin was prone to drying out. To avoid such drying, building perfusion channels within and beneath the outer skin so as to mimic blood vessels to supply water, as well as the integration of sweating glands in the skin equivalent, need to be developed. (See Kawai, M. et al (2022) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.matt.2022.05.019 Matter, vol. 5 1-19.)

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers:  Diablo Immortal,” Fandom Games says this version of Diablo meant for phones is yet another example of how “a thing you love is processed by the same garbage-content processing machine” that is ruining entertainment today. The game is so focused on making you by stuff to make the play enjoyable that the only people who can afford it are “Saudi princes and whales who badly need a gambling intervention.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Cora Buhlert, Steven H Silver, BGrandath, Christian Brunschen, 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 Peer.]

Pixel Scroll 6/28/22 The Mirror Grok’d

(1) F&SF COVER REVEAL. Gordon Van Gelder has shared the July/August 2022 cover for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  The cover art by Mondolithic Studios illustrates “Starblind, Booklost, and Hearing the Songs of True Birds” by Rudi Dornemann.

(2) MACMILLAN REMAINS SHUTTERED. “Macmillan Closed Tuesday As Well As They Address Security Incident” reports Shelf Awareness.

Macmillan, which closed yesterday because of “a security incident” on Saturday that involved its servers and internal system, is remaining closed “virtually and physically” today, Tuesday, June 28. The company said it is “making progress,” but it is still unable to process, receive, place or ship orders.

Details of the incident have not been publicized. Publisher’s Lunch (behind a paywall) commented:

…Network “security incidents” — generally some kind of hacking and/or ransomware — have become all too commonplace in recent years, and each one serves as a cautionary tale to all of us. Some are handled quietly and never acknowledged, but among the known incidents with publishing-related companies in recent years, the Barnes & Noble ransomware hack was the most prominent and had the biggest effect on customers, ultimately taking weeks to fully resolve….

(3) 69 IS NOT DIVINE? Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson recommends some changes in “The Hugo Awards At 69”.

… At the time of its establishment and for the first few years of its existence, the award categories clearly reflected the interests and aspects of SF Fandom that were considered important to its future existence:  fiction, the “raison d’etre” of the culture, the magazines that published the fiction and/or the editor’s who managed them, the artists who realized its visions and the people who made and reinforced that culture, the Fans.

Seven categories were initially offered.  That’s now expanded to 17 and I’ll submit that the reason(s) some categories may be under-represented and might be eliminated is not because they’ve lost importance over the years, but because the awards themselves have focused on becoming more commercially appealing, rather than on focusing on serving their original purpose, that of self-congratulation and recognition within a fan community.

The Hugo Awards need to reduce the number of categories it covers and refocus its efforts on the writing and Fan categories.  (Why Fan categories?  Two primary reasons:  The body of critical analysis offered by Fans through reviews and essays, commentary and yes, even ridicule and sarcasm, is what continuously redefines and elucidates the field.  These efforts sustain the genre and the community that engages with it and should therefore be supported….

(4) ANYTHING YOU CAN DO I CAN DO BETTER. “Aldous Huxley to George Orwell: My Hellish Vision of the Future is Better Than Yours (1949)” at Open Culture.

In 1949, George Orwell received a curious letter from his former high school French teacher.

Orwell had just published his groundbreaking book Nineteen Eighty-Four, which received glowing reviews from just about every corner of the English-speaking world. His French teacher, as it happens, was none other than Aldous Huxley who taught at Eton for a spell before writing Brave New World (1931), the other great 20th century dystopian novel.

Huxley starts off the letter praising the book, describing it as “profoundly important.” He continues, “The philosophy of the ruling minority in Nineteen Eighty-Four is a sadism which has been carried to its logical conclusion by going beyond sex and denying it.”

Then Huxley switches gears and criticizes the book, writing, “Whether in actual fact the policy of the boot-on-the-face can go on indefinitely seems doubtful. My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World.”… 

(5) PRIDE Q&A’S. The Horror Writers Association blog continues their “Point of Pride” theme in these interviews with Crystal Romero and Damian Serbu.

Do you make a conscious effort to include LGBTQ material in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?

Yes, inclusion or lack of it, is what encouraged me to begin writing. I’ve always wanted to see more people who were like me. So when I began to write original work, I made a conscious effort to include characters of all orientations, but especially lesbians. Not only do I make an effort to include LGBTQ characters in my work, but I also include people of color. In an upcoming short story, I’m including a female bi-racial lesbian and Filipino gay male character. In the story that will follow this one, I’ll be introducing a transgender female character.

What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?

I love the creative expression of horror writing. I find horror liberating in a way other genres don’t allow. With horror, there are no rules about what can or cannot happen! The notion of generating a unique monster, plague, demon, or source of evil fascinates me. I wonder what caused the horror to exist. And I ponder how people can over come it. I also think horror writing prompts a writer to get into the raw emotion of being human and in community. Fear is such a base human emotion and at the center of so much of what we think and do. Horror digs into that feeling to reveal the soul of a person.

(6) MIXING HIS INKS. Eddie Robson explains that he loves noir and paranoid Phil Dickian sf so much he decided to combine them! “On Nightmare Noir, Science Fiction, and the Lure of the Gothic” at CrimeReads.

…Meanwhile in SF we can look to the work of Philip K Dick, so often marked by ambiguity and uncertainty, calling into question the nature of reality. Technology’s increasing ability to create artificial things not only returns us to the territory of Frankenstein, it also brings back the essential Gothic quality of the uncanny. This became a familiar mode of SF in the wake of works like Neuromancer and Blade Runner—both of which, incidentally, also draw heavily on crime tropes. (Perhaps the most obvious, and successful, combination of all three is The X Files, which itself draws on key Gothic crime texts like The Silence of the Lambs and Twin Peaks.)…

(7) SQUARING THE CIRCLE. In the Washington Post, Dave Eggers discusses how the Rapid City, South Dakota school system had removed his sf novel The Circle and four other books, including Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home from the high school curriculum and were threatening to destroy the books.  He talks about how he worked with an independent bookstore in that city to make the books available and to have the school system do something with the books rather than pulp them. “South Dakota schools banned Dave Eggers’s novel. He investigated why.”

… When the book ban made national news, I talked with Amanda Uhle, my colleague at the publishing company McSweeney’s, about making the banned books available to Rapid City high school seniors.We called Mitzi’s Books, an independent bookseller in Rapid City, and we made an arrangement whereby we would buy books for any seniors who had been deprived access to them. So far more than 400 copies of the five banned books have been provided free to these students….

(8) FROM BABIES TO THE BEATLES. Kay Dee tells what it was like to witness the first worldwide live TV linkup at Galactic Journey. “[June 28, 1967] Around the World in Two Seconds (Our World Global Satellite Broadcast)”

I love how our world is drawing closer every day to some of the amazing futures that science fiction has spread before us. I’ve written before about the importance of satellite communications in connecting this divided planet. Just two days ago, 24 countries around the globe were linked together in the first world-spanning live satellite broadcast, titled – appropriately enough – Our World….

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY

2015 [By Cat Eldridge.] In the usual manner that such things happen, the Humans series debuted here two weeks after it first aired seven years ago on BBC. It was based on the Swedish SF series Real Humans which involved the creation of synths. (Yes, Picard would later use that term.) Channel 4 and Kudos in the United Kingdom, and AMC in the United States were the companies that underwrote it.

It was created by Sam Vincent, largely a voice actor, and Jonathan Brackley who had nothing to his name previous to this. I suspect a ghost writing staff was definitely involved but I cannot prove it. It was produced by Chris Fry who has executive produced a lot of Spooks so it had an experienced hand there. 

It had a huge cast including Carrie-Anne Moss and William Hurt. Seriously it did. 

It had three seasons of eight episodes each. It did not get a proper conclusion as it was simply cancelled. Ahhh welll.

Too bad, as the British critics really liked it. Mind you the ratings kept slip sliding away. 

The Guardian said, “Humans itself won’t compete with Westworld on wild ambition or imagination, and certainly not on budget. But I like it better; it’s more pressingly relevant. And more human.” 

And the London Evening Standard said that it provides “a smart and stylish exploration of the joys and perils of putting your very existence into the hands of artificial intelligence… If episode one delivers on its promise, then the journey into the unknown will be a profoundly interesting one.”

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a brainy eighty-five percent rating. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 28, 1926 — Mel Brooks, 96. Young Frankenstein (1974) (Hugo and Nebula winner) and Spaceballs (1987) would get him listed even without The 2000 Year Old ManGet Smart and others. Here is an appreciation of Mel on YouTube.  (Alan Baumler)
  • Born June 28, 1946 — Robert Lynn Asprin. I first encountered him as one of the co-editors along with Lynn Abbey of the most stellar Thieves’ World Series for which he wrote the superb “The Price of Doing Business” for the first volume. I’m also very fond of The Cold Cash War novel. His Griffen McCandles (Dragons) series is quite excellent. I’m please to say that he’s well stocked on both at the usual suspects. (Died 2008.)
  • Born June 28, 1947 — Mark Helprin, 75. Author of three works of significance to the genre, Winter’s TaleA City in Winter which won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novella and The Veil of Snows. The latter two are tastefully illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg. I know Winter’s Tale was turned into a film but color me very disinterested in seeing it as I love the novel. 
  • Born June 28, 1951 — Lalla Ward, 71. She is known for her role as the second actress to play Romana (or Romanadvoratrelundar in full) on Doctor Who during the time of the Fourth Doctor. She has reprised the character in Dimensions in Time, the webcast version of Shada, and in several Doctor Who Big Finish productions. In addition, she played Ophelia to Derek Jacobi’s Hamlet in the BBC television production.  And she was Helga in an early horror film called Vampire Circus
  • Born June 28, 1954 — Deborah Grabien, 68. She makes the Birthday list for her most excellent Haunted Ballads series in which a folk musician and his lover tackle the matter of actual haunted spaces. It’s coming out in trade paper and ebook editions soon. It leads off with The Weaver and the Factory Maid. You can read the first chapter here. Oh, and she makes truly great dark chocolate fudge. And she sent me miniature palm tree seeds which are growing here now. 
  • Born June 28, 1954 — Alice Krige, 68. I think her first genre role was in the full dual of Eva Galli and Alma Mobley in Ghost Story. From there, she plays Mary Shelley (née Godwin) in Haunted Summer before going onto being Mary Brady in Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers. Now it’s in Star Trek: First Contact in which she first plays the Borg Queen, a role she’ll repeat in the finale of Star Trek: Voyager, “Endgame”. She’s had a number of other genre roles but I will only note that she was Eir in Thor: The Dark World
  • Born June 28, 1979 — Felicia Day, 43. She was Vi in  Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a rather fascinating Dr. Holly Marten in Eureka, and had a recurring role as Charles Bradbury on Supernatural. She also appears  as Kinga Forrester in Mystery Science Theater 3000.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Baldo might be considered a biography instead of a punchline by the average Filer!

(12) AHMED’S NEW PROJECT. “Saladin Ahmed, Shaka King & Travon Free Team On Webcomic ‘Drac: Son of Dante’”Deadline has the details.

Saladin Ahmed (Miles Morales: Spider-Man) has partnered with filmmakers Shaka King (Judas and the Black Messiah) and Travon Free (Two Distant Strangers) to create Drac: Son of Dante—a new, 15-part webcomic series for Tapas Media and Endeavor Content, which is now free to read exclusively via the former company’s website and mobile app. The series’ first two episodes have already launched, with more to come weekly on Fridays.

Drac is said to introduce a new and contemporary mythology around the origins of the iconic goth villain Dracula that will resonate with multicultural and youth audiences alike. The narrative follows Dante, an eerie, flute-playing immortal who finds himself drawn to the human condition against the natural order and better judgment of his species. Dante follows this obsession no matter how much trouble it gets him into — but a conflict for the ages erupts when his monstrous son Drac chooses a human bride….

(13) THE WITCHING HOUR. Hocus Pocus 2 comes to Disney+ on September 30.

Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy reunite for the highly anticipated Disney+ Original Movie “Hocus Pocus 2.” The live-action, long awaited sequel to the perennial Halloween classic, which brings back the delightfully wicked Sanderson sisters for more comedic mayhem, will debut on Disney+ on September 30. It’s been 29 years since someone lit the Black Flame Candle and resurrected the 17th-century sisters, and they are looking for revenge. Now it is up to three high-school students to stop the ravenous witches from wreaking a new kind of havoc on Salem before dawn on All Hallow’s Eve.

(14) TRADING OLD TROUBLES FOR NEW. Fantasy author and podcaster Richard H. Stephens continues his work within the Soul Forge Universe with Dragon Sect: Highcliff Guardians Series Book Two.

The Dragon Witch Wraith has returned.

With the Grim Duke in his place, and a tentative pact with the wizard’s guild, the Queen of the Elves’ only real concern is for her rebellious daughter. Or so she is led to believe.

Buoyed by the news of unrest in the land’s largest city of Urdanya, Duke Orlythe’s new wizard attempts to convince him that a path to the coveted Willow Throne lies within reach of someone bold enough to seize the opportunity.

The return of the Dragon Witch Wraith prompts the ailing high wizard to find a way to thwart his arch nemesis before everything South March has fought for is lost.

Oblivious to the dangers of the world, Princess Ouderling sets out on a quest to locate an ancient dragon, in a desperate attempt to save her mother from an inevitable fate.

Should she fail, the Grim Duke will ascend the throne.

Available from Amazon and Amazon.ca.

At age 17 author Richard H. Stephens left high school and for the next twenty-two years worked as a shipper at a local bakery. At the age of 36, he went back to high school and graduated with honors. He became a member of the local Police Service, and worked for 12 years in a Canadian provincial court system. In early 2017, he left the Police Service to write full-time. Learn more about Richard H. Stephens at his website.

(15) WHAT IS YOUR QUEST? Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy enthusiastically recommends “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On”.

How can a film as disarmingly simple as this inspire deep feelings about loss, connection, and the meaning of family? I’m not sure I have the answer; all I know is that I was fighting back tears at the end of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. My daughter Jessie got to see the movie at the Telluride Film Festival last year and has been a proud proselytizer ever since.

I wouldn’t want to burden this charming film with descriptors like “existential” but it’s not misapplied here. At a time when so many of us are feeling disoriented—or disconnected—a movie like this is especially welcome….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Obi-Wan Kenobi,” the Screen Junkies say that Disney, having brought back Han Solo as a “broke, divorced dad,” and Luke Skywalker as a “gross recluse,” they brought back Obi-Wan Kenobi as a “sad fishmonger whose new mission is to stare at a ten-year-old boy all day.” While they liked Vivian Blair’s work as a young Princess Leia, the series becomes “another round of ‘grumpy man brings a cute, sassy kid to safety’: just like The Mandalorian, Terminator 2, and Aliens.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, 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 Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 6/22/22 Heigh-ho, The Battling Throg, The Frog Down In Valhalla, Oh

(1) HOW WRITERS GET UNPAID. Quenby Olson shows how a returned book costs her money on Amazon. Thread starts here.

Olson backed up the account with Vice’s article “TikTok Users Are Showing Readers How To Game Amazon’s Ebook Return Policy”.

A TikTok trend where users encourage others to purchase, read, and return Amazon ebooks within the company’s return policy window has irked independent authors, who claim to have seen dramatic spikes in their ebook return rates since the trend went viral.

The #ReadAndReturn challenge drew attention to Amazon’s Kindle return policy, which states that readers can “cancel an accidental book order within seven days.” But what’s been presented as a literary community “life hack” is hurting romance-fantasy authors like Lisa Kessler’s bottom line. 

“When you buy a digital book, if you read and return it, Amazon just turns around and gets the money back from the author, plus Amazon builds in a digital delivery fee and so Amazon is still getting that delivery fee but we get all the royalties taken back,” Kessler told Motherboard. 

Kessler, who self-publishes several book series, says that before the challenge, she would see on average one or two returns per month. But when she checked her Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) sales dashboard on June 1st, she says she was shocked to find a negative account balance….

(2) JUST A SECOND. The Fall of Númenor, a collection of Tolkien’s works about the Second Age of Middle-Earth, will be published by HarperCollins in November 2022. The book will appear after Amazon Prime releases the streaming series The Rings of Power, set during the Second Age of Middle-earth, in September 2022. “New Tolkien book: The Fall of Númenor to be published” at The Tolkien Society.

A HarperCollins press release included in the post explains that the volume is edited by writer and Tolkien expert, Brian Sibley, and illustrated by acclaimed artist, Alan Lee.

…Presenting for the first time in one volume the events of the Second Age as written by J.R.R. Tolkien and originally and masterfully edited for publication by Christopher Tolkien, this new volume will include pencil drawings and colour paintings by Alan Lee, who also illustrated The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and went on to win an Academy Award for his work on The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

J.R.R. Tolkien famously described the Second Age of Middle-earth as a ‘dark age, and not very much of its history is (or need be) told’. And for many years readers would need to be content with the tantalizing glimpses of it found within the pages of The Lord of the Rings and its appendices.

It was not until Christopher Tolkien presented The Silmarillion for publication in 1977 that a fuller story could be told for, though much of its content concerned the First Age of Middle-earth, there were at its close two key works that revealed the tumultuous events concerning the rise and fall of the island-kingdom of Númenor, the Forging of the Rings of Power, the building of the Barad-dûr and the rise of Sauron, and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.

Christopher Tolkien provided even greater insight into the Second Age in Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth in 1980, and expanded upon this in his magisterial 12-volume History of Middle-earth, in which he presented and discussed a wealth of further tales written by his father, many in draft form.

Now, using ‘The Tale of Years’ in The Lord of the Rings as a starting point, Brian Sibley has assembled from the various published texts in a way that tells for the very first time in one volume the tale of the Second Age of Middle-earth, whose events would ultimately lead to the Third Age, and the War of the Ring, as told in The Lord of the Rings.

(3) BALTICON UPDATE. Balticon’s post-convention email dated June 17 included the following update about the Code of Conduct investigation that is addressing events reported by File 770 here, here, and here.

(4) LIBRARY E-BOOK RELIEF UNCONSTITUTIONAL. “In Final Order, Court Declares Maryland’s Library E-book Law Unconstitutional” reports Publishers Weekly.

In a June 13 opinion and order, Judge Deborah L. Boardman declared Maryland’s library e-book law “unconstitutional and unenforceable” all but ending a successful months-long legal effort by the Association of American Publishers to block the law.

“In its February 16, 2022 memorandum opinion, the Court determined that the Maryland Act likely conflicts with the Copyright Act in violation of the Supremacy Clause,” Boardman’s opinion reads. “Although neither AAP nor the State has moved for summary judgment on any claim, they agree a declaratory judgment may be entered… Therefore, for the reasons stated in the February 16, 2022 memorandum opinion, the Court finds that the Maryland Act conflicts with and is preempted by the Copyright Act. The Act ‘stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress.’”

… First introduced in January 2021, the Maryland library e-book law required any publisher offering to license “an electronic literary product” to consumers in the state to also offer to license the content to public libraries “on reasonable terms.” The bill passed the Maryland General Assembly unanimously on March 10, and went into effect on January 1, 2022.

In response, the AAP filed suit on December 9, 2021 arguing that the Maryland law was pre-empted by the federal Copyright Act. Just days after a February 7 hearing, Boardman agreed with the AAP and temporarily enjoined the law. Boardman’s order this week now permanently renders the law enforceable….

(5) CENSORSHIP CASE IN VIRGINIA. Publishers Weekly also reports, “Lawyers Say ‘Defective’ Virginia Obscenity Claims Should Be Tossed”.

First filed in May by lawyer and Republican Virginia assembly delegate Tim Anderson on behalf of plaintiff and Republican congressional candidate Tommy Altman, the suits allege that the graphic memoir Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and A Court of Mist and Fury by bestselling author Sarah J. Maas—are “obscene for unrestricted viewing by minors.” On May 18, a retired local judge found there was “probable cause” for the obscenity claims and ordered the authors and publishers to answer the charges, raising the possibility that the court could bar the books from public display and restrict booksellers and librarians from providing the books to minors without parental consent.

But in filings late last week, lawyers for Kobabe and her publisher, Oni Press, and Maas and her publisher Bloomsbury, along with lawyers for Barnes & Noble, told the court the suits as filed are defective and the remedy sought unconstitutional.

“The petition and show cause order are facially defective because [the Virginia law] does not authorize a court to declare that the book is ‘obscene for unrestricted viewing by minors,’” reads a joint filing by Maas and Bloomsbury, explaining that the Virginia law “cannot constitutionally be the basis for the relief sought by petitioner as a matter of law.”

In separate filings, Kobabe and Oni Press also argue the law in question is misapplied and the complaint defective. “The statute permits the challenge of a book on the grounds that it is ‘obscene’ to the entirety of the community of the Commonwealth,” reads the brief from Oni Press lawyers. “Petitioner here attempts to redefine [the Virginia law] to have book declared obscene as it relates to one subset of the Community: minors in the Hampton Roads and Virginia Beach areas.”

Furthermore, lawyers for the authors and publishers argue that the books in question do not come close to meeting the standard for obscenity as established by the Supreme Court, which requires that materials, even if they contain explicit material, be found to lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value. Thus, the relief requested by the plaintiffs would be “an unconstitutional restraint on free speech,” lawyers argue.

(6) THE MIGHTY NATALIE. “’Thor: Love and Thunder’: How Natalie Portman Grew Nine Inches Taller”Variety divulges the answer at the link.

…“I definitely got as big as I’ve ever been,” Portman explained for Variety‘s cover story. “You realize, ‘Oh, this must be so different, to walk through the world like this.’”

Portman means that quite literally. Along with getting her arms and shoulders as swole as humanly possible, Portman’s Mighty Thor also stands 6 feet tall — nearly 10 inches larger than Portman’s actual height.

… To date, no one has figured out how an actor can safely elongate their body, so director Taika Waititi and his crew needed to figure out how to get Portman to the proper height for scenes in which she walked with her co-stars. Their solution proved to be about as low-tech as a Marvel movie can get….

(7) KGB. The Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series will be changing its schedule to the second Wednesday of the month. The date change begins on September 14, 2022. Both the July and August readings will be on the third Wednesday as originally scheduled.

After more than twenty years of being held on the third Wednesday of every month, the Fantastic Fiction reading series, currently hosted by Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel at the KGB Bar in Manhattan, will be switching to the second Wednesday of the month, beginning in September, for the foreseeable future. Previously, the series was held on the third Wednesday of the month.

During the Pandemic, when Covid cases in New York City were dangerously high, hosts Ellen and Matt decided to go virtual (via YouTube) for the safety of all. This virtual period lasted for more than eighteen months, during which time Ellen and Matt were able to bring in guests, many of whom were unable to visit New York in person, from all over the world, including Pakistan, Barbados, the U.K., Australia, South Africa and elsewhere.

During this same period a younger crowd less fearful of Covid began to congregate in person at the KGB Bar during the series’ usual third Wednesday. When the Fantastic Fiction series finally returned to the KGB Bar in person in late 2021 and early 2022, the KGB Bar saw a significant drop in income. Because of this, the KGB Bar owner has asked Ellen and Matt to switch weeks for this “big earner/younger generation” that they wish to accommodate on the third Wednesday of each month.

(8) EAR TO THE GROUND. CSI Skill Tree is a series from the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University.The latest event in the CSI Skill Tree series on how video games envision possible futures and create thought-provoking experiences will streamed on Thursday, July 7, from 2:00-3:15 p.m. Eastern. The event is free and open to everyone—here is the registration link.

In this event, speculative fiction author Tochi Onyebuchi and composer/sound designer Amos Roddy will discuss how sound and music in games contributes to worldbuilding, storytelling, and immersion. They’ll look closely at Inside (2016), a moody adventure game with environmental puzzles and grim, industrial aesthetics.

Roddy’s other sound work in games is frequently for science fiction titles (most recently, Citizen Sleeper), and Onyebuchi is an incredibly talented SF storyteller. 

(9) AN IDEA THAT WHIFFED. Galactic Journey knows exactly what the public in 2022 wants to hear about the Worldcon – which is nothing good, of course – and presents: “[June 22, 1967] The Stench Arising from the World Convention” by Alison Scott.

…Here we are in 1967, and Ted White, from his lofty position of power as chairman of NyCon 3, this year’s World SF Convention, has decided that the time has come to expand the existing Best Fanzine Hugo. I think that many of we actifans would welcome additional awards for Best Fan Writer and Best Fan Artist. However, the NyCon 3 committee – and I think we must assume this is mostly Ted – decided to unilaterally create a new class of awards, the Fan Achievement Awards, by analogy to the Science Fiction Achievement Awards, and to nickname them the “Pongs”, by analogy to the “Hugos”….

P.S. Even at the time almost everyone said they hated the idea. That’s why in the end the NyCon 3 committee actually did call these added fan awards Hugos.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY

1925 [By Cat Eldridge.] Let’s keep in mind that ninety-seven years ago when this first version of The Lost World premiered, A. Conan Doyle was very much alive. This is very important as he was involved in the film including writing the script from his novel and being involved in the production quite personally. Doyle said repeatedly that Challenger, not Holmes, was his favorite creation.

Directed by Harry O. Hoyt, The Lost World featured the amazing stop motion special effects by Willis O’Brien, the dinosaurs here being a great look at what he would do on King Kong in eight yers. Nine different types of dinosaurs were created including of course Tyrannosaurus. A very crowded plateau it was. Some of the dinosaur models made for this film were collected later by Ackerman.

It cost seven hundred thousand to make and grossed one point three million. Studios being relatively honest in those days, we can say it actually made money. 

Full early prints include an introduction by Doyle. Later prints removed this.  

The New York Times after seeing early reels of the dinosaurs said if these be “monsters of the ancient world, or of the new world which he has discovered in the ether, were extraordinarily lifelike. If fakes, they were masterpieces.” Contemporaneous reviews such as the LIFE one say the same thing: “In The Lost World, as it appears on the screen, the animals have been constructed with amazing skill and fidelity and their movements, though occasionally jerky, are generally convincing.” 

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently have a sixty-nine percent rating for it.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 22, 1856 — H. Rider Haggard. Writer of pulp fiction, often in the the Lost World subgenre. King Solomon’s Mines was the first of his novels with Allan Quatermain as the lead and it, like its sequels, was successful. These novels are in print to this day. Haggard by the way decided to take ten percent royalties instead of a flat fee for writing, a wise choice indeed.  And let’s not forget his other success, She: A History of Adventure, which has never print out of print either. (Died 1925.)
  • Born June 22, 1894 — George Fielding Eliot. ISFDB has scant listings from him and Wiki is not much better but shows “The Copper Bowl”  in Weird Tales in the December 1928 issue and notes that thirty years later he has “The Peacemakers”  in the Fantastic Universe in January 1960 edition. Stitching this together using the EofSF, I’ll note he wrote Purple Legion: A G-Man Thriller, a really pulpish affair. As Robert Wallace, he wrote “The Death Skull Murders”, one of the Phantom Detective stories, a series that came out after The Shadow and ran for a generation. (Died 1971.)
  • Born June 22, 1936 — Kris Kristofferson, 86. He first shows up in a genre film, The Last Horror Film, as himself. As an actor, his first role is as Bill Smith in Millennium which is followed by Gabriel in Knights, a sequel to Cyborg. (A lack of name creativity there.) Now comes his role as Abraham Whistler in Blade and Blade II, a meaty undertaking indeed! Lastly I’ll note he voiced Karubi in Planet of the Apes.
  • Born June 22, 1947 — Octavia Butler. I think her Xenogenesis series is her most brilliant work though I’m also very, very impressed by the much shorter Parable series. I’m ambivalent on the Patternist series for reasons I’m not sure about. Her first Hugo was L.A. Con II (1984) for her “Speech Sounds” short story and she also got a Hugo for her “Bloodchild” novelette at Aussiecon Two (1985). DisCon III (2021) saw Parable of the Sower: A Graphic Novel Adaptation with text by her obviously as adapted by Damian Duffy and illustrated by John Jennings pick up the Best Graphic Story or Comic Hugo. (Died 2006.)
  • Born June 22, 1949 — Edward M Lerner, 73. I’m here today to praise the Ringworld prequels that he co-wrote with Niven, collectively known as Fleet of Worlds which ran to five volumes. Unlike the Ringworld sequels which were terribly uneven, these were well written and great to read. I’ve not read anything else by him.
  • Born June 22, 1949 — Meryl Streep, 73. She’d make the Birthday list just for being Madeline Ashton in Death Becomes Her and her epic battle there with Goldie Hawn. She’s the voice of Blue Ameche in A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and a very real Aunt Josephine in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. She’s the voice of Felicity Fox in Fantastic Mr. Fox, based off the on Dahl’s 1970 children’s novel. She voices Jennie in a short that bring Maurice Sendak’s dog to life, Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More to Life. She’s The Witch in Into The Woods. I think that’s it.
  • Born June 22, 1958 — Bruce Campbell, 64. Where to start? Well let’s note that Kage loved the old rascal as she described him, so I’ve linked to her review of Jack of All Trades. I personally liked him just as much in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. and think it’s well worth checking out. I think his work as Ash Williams in the Evil Dead franchise can be both brilliant and god awful, often in the same film. Or the same scene. The series spawned off of it is rather good. Oh, and for popcorn reading, check out If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor, his autobiography. 
  • Born June 22, 1973 — Ian Tregillis, 49. He is the author of the Milkweed Triptych trilogy which is frelling brilliant. He’s contributed three stories to Max Gladstone’s The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, a  rather good serial fiction narrative (if that’s the proper term), and he’s got another series, The Alchemy Wars, I haven’t  checked out. He’s also a contributor to George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards series which I’m beginning to suspect everyone has been involved in.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

Joel Merriner mashes up Gotham with Middle-Earth.

(13) THE READING LIFE. The Critic’s Paul Dean mourns the decline of the second-hand book trade in “Bookshops remaindered”.

At the Oxford Book Fair in April, the presence of a hundred exhibitors from all over Britain suggested that Covid had not killed off the antiquarian book trade. But those who buy antiquarian books are not necessarily interested in reading, any more than those who buy hundreds of cases of rare wines are interested in drinking.

The second-hand market — for immediate consumption rather than laying down — is a different matter, as Oxford itself sadly demonstrates. In the 1970s, Blackwell’s second-hand department occupied the whole of the top floor. By 2000, it occupied most of the third floor. Now it shivers forlornly in a few feet of the first floor.

Will Waterstones, Blackwell’s new owners, bother to keep it? One second-hand bookshop after another has closed in Oxford, leaving two admittedly excellent Oxfams, St Philip’s Books opposite the cathedral, a new small outlet in the Covered Market, and the ominously named The Last Bookshop in Jericho. Thornton’s and Robin Waterfield are much missed. The former still sells online, but, although I plead guilty to online buying, that is not the same. It is like eating the menu instead of the food….

(14) GETTING READY TO INTERACT WITH AI. “Soon, Humanity Won’t Be Alone in the Universe” says David Brin in his opinion piece for Newsweek.

…In 2017 I gave a keynote at IBM’s World of Watson event, predicting that “within five years” we would face the first Robotic Empathy Crisis, when some kind of emulation program would claim individuality and sapience. At the time, I expected — and still expect — these empathy bots to augment their sophisticated conversational skills with visual portrayals that reflexively tug at our hearts, e.g. wearing the face of a child. or a young woman, while pleading for rights… or for cash contributions. Moreover, an empathy-bot would garner support, whether or not there was actually anything conscious “under the hood.”

One trend worries ethicist Giada Pistilli, a growing willingness to make claims based on subjective impression instead of scientific rigor and proof. When it comes to artificial intelligence, expert testimony will be countered by many calling those experts “enslavers of sentient beings.” In fact, what matters most will not be some purported “AI Awakening.” It will be our own reactions, arising out of both culture and human nature.

Human nature, because empathy is one of our most-valued traits, embedded in the same parts of the brain that help us to plan or think ahead. Empathy can be stymied by other emotions, like fear and hate — we’ve seen it happen across history and in our present-day. Still, we are, deep-down, sympathetic apes.

But also culture. As in Hollywood’s century-long campaign to promote—in almost every film — concepts like suspicion-of-authority, appreciation of diversity, rooting for the underdog, and otherness. Expanding the circle of inclusion. Rights for previously marginalized humans. Animal rights. Rights for rivers and ecosystems, or for the planet. I deem these enhancements of empathy to be good, even essential for our own survival! But then, I was raised by all the same Hollywood memes….

(15) SPIDER-REX. “Spider-Rex Makes His Roaring Debut on Leinil Francis Yu’s New ‘Edge of Spider-Verse’ #1 Variant Cover” Marvel announced today.

The future of the Spider-Verse is here! Launching in August, Edge of Spider-Verse will be five-issue limited series that introduces brand-new Spider-heroes and redefines fan-favorites such as Araña, Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Gwen, and Spider-Man: India! Each thrilling issue will contain three stories crafted by Marvel’s biggest Spider talents including an overarching narrative by Dan Slott who will lay the groundwork for the epic conclusion of the Spider-Verse later this year. Edge of Spider-Verse #1 will see the debut of Spider-Rex in a story by hit Spider-Woman creative team, Karla Pacheco and Pere Perez. Fans can see this awesome and one-of-a-kind Spider-Hero in a brand-new variant cover by Leinil Francis Yu.

(16) WEIRD AL’S SONG FOR STAR WARS. There might actually be a few notes from it in this trailer, I’m not sure. “LEGO Star Wars Summer Vacation”, set shortly after the events of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, features the voices of “Weird Al” Yankovic, Yvette Nicole Brown, Kelly Marie Tran, Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams, and returning cast members from previous LEGO Star Wars specials, and includes “Weird Al’s” new original song, “Scarif Beach Party”.

(17) CAT NOT SLEEPING ON SFF. Enjoy this entertaining trailer for “Puss In Boots: The Last Wish”.

This Christmas, everyone’s favorite leche-loving, swashbuckling, fear-defying feline returns. For the first time in more than a decade, DreamWorks Animation presents a new adventure in the Shrek universe as daring outlaw Puss in Boots discovers that his passion for peril and disregard for safety have taken their toll. Puss has burned through eight of his nine lives, though he lost count along the way. Getting those lives back will send Puss in Boots on his grandest quest yet. Academy Award® nominee Antonio Banderas returns as the voice of the notorious PiB as he embarks on an epic journey into the Black Forest to find the mythical Wishing Star and restore his lost lives. But with only one life left, Puss will have to humble himself and ask for help from his former partner and nemesis: the captivating Kitty Soft Paws (Oscar® nominee Salma Hayek).

(18) SHOULD BE WORTH MORE THAN TWO POINTS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This Rube Goldberg machine by Creezy has been viewed nearly 10 million times, but not on File 770! “The Swish Machine: 70 Step Basketball Trickshot”.

(19) REFERENCE DIRECTOR! [Item by Daniel Dern.] To help you decipher today’s Scroll title “Heigh-ho, The Battling Throg, The Frog Down In Valhalla, Oh” —

Throg is Frog Thor, The Frog Of Thunder, first introduced by Walt Simonson in 1986 (see “Thor Left Asgard’s Future to Marvel’s Strangest Thunder God”), although, Marvel being Marvel (sigh), there are now several variants and versions…

“Heigh-Ho etc” riffs on the Irish folk song “Heigh-Ho, The Rattlin’ Bog” popularized by The Irish Rovers and done by many others including Seamus Kennedy,

(20) AMATEURS DRIVING THE CHARIOT OF APOLLO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] James Burke and John Parry tour an Apollo training facility, crash a “scooter” on the Moon and mispronounce “Houston” in this clip from the BBC show Tomorrow’s World in 1968.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. This is buzzzzzare! “Best-Case Scenario, Worst-Case Scenario and One with Bees” from Late Night with Seth Meyers.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/6/22 Make Your Own Kind Of Pixel, Even When Nobody Else Scrolls Along

(1) FUND OGHENECHOVWE DONALD EKPEKI’S TRIP TO CHICON 8. Jason Sanford has set up a GoFundMe that will “Send Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki to Worldcon”. Donate at the link.

This year Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki became the first African writer to win the Nebula Award for Best Novelette for his story “O2 Arena ,” with that story also making him the first African writer to be a finalist for the Hugo Award in the same category. In addition, he became the first person from Africa to be a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Editor, Short Form, for his work on the groundbreaking anthology Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction.

 This fundraiser is to allow Ekpeki to travel from Nigeria to attend Chicon 8, the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in Chicago. In addition to allowing Ekpeki to attend the Worldcon where he is a finalist for two Hugo Awards, the fundraiser will also enable him to work on building in-person connections at Worldcon between genre fans and professionals from Africa and around the world….

(2) 2024 NASFIC BID. The Buffalo in 2024 NASFiC bid chair Wayne Brown answered File 770’s question about who is on the committee. Says Brown:

We have a small group right now but are looking to add more committee members.  Right now the committee consists of:

  • Wayne Brown (chair)
  • Alex Von Thorn
  • Debi Chowdhury
  • Marah Searle-Kovacevic
  • David Ennis

(3) UP ABOVE THE WORLD SO HIGH. Astronaut Chris Hadfield is one of the shortlisted authors for the 2022 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize worth £10,000.

  • The Apollo Murders by Chris Hadfield (Quercus)
  • Where Blood Runs Cold by Giles Kristian (Bantam Press, Transworld Publishers)
  • The Vacation by John Marrs (Pan, Pan Macmillan)
  • The Plant Hunter by T.L. Mogford (Welbeck Publishing Group)
  • Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo (Virago, Little, Brown Book Group)
  • Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter by Lizzie Pook (Mantle, Pan Macmillan)

The judges discuss their definition of adventure here.The winner of the 2022 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize will be announced at an online ceremony on September 21. 

(4) JUBILEE COVERAGE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The weekend has been a blast. If you get a chance catch the “Jubilee Platinum Party at the Palace.” [Note: Can only be viewed in the UK. But there are many short video clips on The Royal Family Channel.]

The next day we had a parade through central London and even the Daleks were well behaved.

(5) PULP FOREVER. Cora Buhlert has an essay about Harald Harst, a forgotten German pulp detective of the Weimar Republic era, in The Drink Tank #439 on page 10:

So-called dime novels or penny dreadfuls are a child of the industrial revolution, when the invention of the rotary printing press made it possible to publish cheap literature for the masses. The dime novel was born in the mid-nineteenth century and in the United States gave way to pulp magazines at the turn of the twentieth century. But in Germany, the dime novel never died….

(6) HE’S BACK. Netflix announced The Sandman will begin airing August 5.

There is another world that waits for all of us when we close our eyes and sleep — a place called the Dreaming, where The Sandman, Master of Dreams (Tom Sturridge), gives shape to all of our deepest fears and fantasies. But when Dream is unexpectedly captured and held prisoner for a century, his absence sets off a series of events that will change both the dreaming and waking worlds forever. To restore order, Dream must journey across different worlds and timelines to mend the mistakes he’s made during his vast existence, revisiting old friends and foes, and meeting new entities — both cosmic and human — along the way. Based on the beloved award-winning DC comic series written by Neil Gaiman, THE SANDMAN is a rich, character-driven blend of myth and dark fantasy woven together over the course of ten epic chapters following Dream’s many adventures.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1980 [By Cat Eldridge.] It’s been forty-two years since this film came out and I can’t remember if I’ve seen it. It certainly sounds familiar but that doesn’t mean anything. So let’s get to it.

It was both directed and written by William Sachs who previously had done Secrets of the Gods (re-released in theatres as The Force Beyond in 1977) and The Incredible Melting Man. It was produced by Marilyn Jacobs Tenser who had absolutely no genre background though she did produce Superchick and The Pom Pom Girls

The cast consisted of Stephen Macht, Avery Schreiber. James David, Hinton Lionel and  Mark Smith. And one more individual — Dorothy Stratten.  Now let’s be honest, Dorothy Stratten was Galaxina. Literally. And as she was a Playboy Playmate, she was the only draw for this R-rated SF film which also had a triple breasted alien in it a decade before Total Recall had its triple-breasted Mars whore.

As Jeffrey Anderson said in his review, “Unfortunately, the actual movie isn’t much. Stratten in fact plays a robot and doesn’t do or say much for at least the first half of the movie; and, despite her Playboy status, she keeps her clothes on. Then we’ve got the rest of the movie to deal with: it’s a lazy attempt to spoof the popular sci-fi movies of the day, including Star WarsAlien, and many others, but the jokes are little more than references and they simply don’t work.” 

It was made in less than three weeks on a shoestring budget of about five million and the box office was somewhat less than that. It was never released outside of the States.  

No, the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes do not like it, giving it just a twenty-three percent rating.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 6, 1918 Richard Crane. In the Fifties, he would be cast in two of the series that largely defined the look and feel of televised SF for a decade. First, he was the dashing lead in Rocky Jones, Space Ranger which lasted for thirty-nine thrilling episodes; second, he’s Dick Preston in nine of the twelve episodes of the wonderfully titled Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe. He was also the lead in the fifteen-chapter serial Mysterious Island which was a very loose adaption of the Jules Verne novel. He died far too young died of a heart attack at the age of fifty. (Died 1969.)
  • Born June 6, 1931 Joan Marshall. She played Lt. Areel Shaw in Star Trek‘s “Court Martial”, a rather excellent affair. Her other major genre other was as Wilma in The Twilight Zone‘s “Dead Man’s Shoes”.  She also had roles in Men in SpaceThe Outer LimitsThe Munsters and I-Spy. The Munsters appearance was in My Fair Munster, the Unaired Pilot as Phoebe Munster. (Died 1992.)
  • Born June 6, 1936 Levi Stubbs. Remember the voice of Audrey in The Little Shop of Horrors film?  (It was nominated for a Hugo at Conspiracy ’87 the year Aliens won.) Well that was this individual who was the lead vocalist of the Four Tops. Cool, very cool.  On the film soundtrack, he performs “Feed Me (Git It)”, “Suppertime” and “Mean Green Mother From Outer Space”. (Died 2008.)
  • Born June 6, 1947 Robert Englund, 75. I think his best performance was as Blackie on the very short-lived Nightmare Cafe. Short-lived as in just six episodes. Of course most will remember him playing Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. He actually appeared in a couple of now forgotten horror films, Dead & Buried and Galaxy of Terror, before landing that role. And he’s continued to do myriad horror films down to the years ranging from CHUD  to Strippers vs Werewolves. (Really. Truly. He did.)  Versatile man, our Robert. So versatile in fact that he’s on Stranger Things as Victor Creel in a recurring role.
  • Born June 6, 1951 Geraldine McCaughrean, 71. Fifteen years ago, she wrote Peter Pan in Scarlet, the official sequel to Peter Pan commissioned by Great Ormond Street Hospital, the holder of Peter Pan’s copyright which J.M. Barrie granted them. So has anyone here read it?  By the way, she’s extremely prolific having now written over one hundred and eighty books! 
  • Born June 6, 1959 Amanda Pays, 63. I first encountered her as Thero Jones on Max Headroom, a series I think should be considered one of the best SF series ever made. She appeared as Dawn in the Spacejacked film. She also had a guest role as Phoebe Green in the episode “Fire” of The X-Files, and was cast as Christina “Tina” McGee in The Flash of the 1990 series, and she has a recurring role on the present Flash series as the same character.
  • Born June 6, 1963 Jason Isaacs, 59. Captain Gabriel Lorca, the commanding officer of the USS Discovery in the first season of Discovery and also provided the voice of The Inquisitor, Sentinel, in Star Wars Rebels, and Admiral Zhao in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Oh, and the role of Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter film franchise.
  • Born June 6, 1964 Jay Lake. Another one who died far too young. If you read nothing else by him, read his brilliant Mainspring Universe series. Though his Green Universe is also extremely entertaining. He won an Astounding Award for Best New Writer and an Endeavour Award for Last Plane to Heaven: The Final Collection which collects a lot of his most excellent short fiction.  He has two Hugo nominations, one at Noreascon 4 for his “Into the Gardens of Sweet Night” novelette and one at LoneStarCon3 for his “The Stars Do Not Lie” novella. (Died 2014.)

(9) BERLIN IN 1967. Cora Buhlert’s new Galactic Journey article chronicles the point where the peace and love 1960s turned violent in West Germany, namely the protests against the visit of the Shah of Iran to West Berlin and the murder of Benno Ohnesorg in 1967: “[June 6, 1967] Blood in the Streets of West Berlin: The Shah Visit and the Shooting of Benno Ohnesorg”. Content warning for police violence in words and pictures as well as a photo of a body.

… On June 2, the Shah and his wife were due to visit West Berlin. Therefore, the student parliament of the Free University organised a panel discussion about the Iranian regime on the day before. Among those invited to speak at the meeting was Bahman Nirumand. The Iranian embassy in West Germany was incensed and demanded that the panel discussion be cancelled. However, the chancellor of the Free University refused, citing the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. This is not the first time that the Iranian government has tried to suppress criticism in West Germany, by the way. They have also repeatedly invoked a lese-majeste law dating from the days of the Second German Empire (which ended fifty years ago) in order to have unfavourable news articles retracted….

(10) ARTIST KELLY REMEMBERED. Brian Murphy offers a tribute to the late Ken Kelly at DMR Books: “Remembering Ken Kelly: Master of Light and Dark, and the Imagination”.

… I have a hard time writing about artists because their images speak so much louder and more potently than words. Just spend a minute looking at the covers of the Berkley Medallion Conans, and your tribute to Kelly’s passing is paid. Maybe you are lucky enough to have copies with the foldout posters intact. Kelly’s iconic images of Conan alone make him an S&S immortal, and of course they only scratch the surface of his epic 50 year career….

(11) LOVECRAFT: IT’S COMPLICATED. At Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein, Serbian horror author and scholar Dejan Ognjanović explains what the works of H.P. Lovecraft mean to him: “A Serbian Looks At Lovecraft”.

… In my childhood, in the early 1980s, during my initial investigations into the scarce horror fiction then available in Serbian, Lovecraft was literally unknown. Not a single story by him had been translated by my late teens, i.e. by 1989. Thus my first encounter with him was indirect – it was through the idea of Lovecraft, as re-imagined in an Italian comic series Martin Mystere, the episode “The House at the Edge of the World” (“La Casa ai confini di mundo”, 1982), which I read in the summer of 1986, when I was 13. It was love at first sight: for the first time I encountered the concept of houses haunted not by ghosts or any traditional monster, but by unnamable inter-dimensional entities; it also involved places serving as portals into non-Euclidean spaces, nameless cosmic vistas, alien temples and weird-looking gods/demons…

(12) A SWORD & SORCERY PODCAST. The Rogues in the House podcast talk about their fantasy influences:  “Sweet Nostalgia: A Nerd’s Journey”.

The Rogues are once again joined by Flame and Crimson author, Brian Murphy–this time to discuss the works of fiction most near and dear to their roguish hearts.

(13) NO MORE LICENSE TO KILL. “Seven years, 40 editions and 3117 trained witchers later,” the Witcher School live-action role-play events in Poland has shut down: “’Witcher school’ closes after CD Projekt Red pulls license over political ties” reports Indy100.

A ‘Witcher school’ located in Poland has been forced to close after its licence was abruptly pulled by the game’s publisher.

The reasons for which are currently unclear but organisers have claimed that the decision was due to a staff member’s involvement with an ultra-conservative political group, according to Eurogamer.

[CD Projekt Red pulled the license because of a staff member’s involvement with the ultra-conservative Polish Catholic organization Ordo Iuris, which is anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ+, and rejects the idea of gender equality.]

The Witcher School ran live-action role-playing (LARP) events in Poland themed around the popular videogame series with 40 editions of the event and over 3000 “Witchers” taking part.

But after 7 years, the publisher of the hit videogame seriesCD Projekt Red, officially ended the contract with the school in February 2022 with a three-month notice, effectively ending their use of The Witcher’s characters, setting and storylines.

(14) FUNERAL DIRECTOR. Nicholas Meyer talks with Ethan Alter of Yahoo! Entertainment on the death of Spock in this piece about the 40th anniversary of The Wrath of Khan. “’Wrath of Khan’ director reveals how he killed Spock in the 1982 blockbuster” at Yahoo!

It’s been forty years since Spock put the needs of the many ahead of the needs of the few — or the one — in the final moments of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. With the U.S.S. Enterprise‘s warp drive inoperable thanks to a devastating attack launched by Khan Noonien Singh (Richardo Montalban), Starfleet’s most popular Vulcan officer descends into the starship’s engine room and absorbs a lethal dose of radiation, surviving just long enough to save the day and say goodbye to his closest companion, James T. Kirk. And no matter how many times you’ve seen Wrath of Khan in the four decades since the movie’s June 4, 1982 release, Spock’s passing never fails to trigger tears, whether you’re human, Klingon… or Gorn.

The tears were certainly flowing on the Wrath of Khan set when William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy — who had been part of each other’s lives since the 1966 premiere of the original Star Trek TV series — played what was intended to be their final scene together. In his 2010 memoir, The View From the BridgeWrath of Khan director, Nicholas Meyer, described members of the crew weeping as Spock told Kirk: “I have been, and always shall be, your friend.”…

(15) WEBB TELESCOPE. Inverse tells us, “We Finally Know When The Webb Telescope’s First Color Images Will Arrive — Here’s What To Expect”

…On Sunday, July 12, the Webb team will release an unconfirmed number of full-color images based on observations by two of Webb’s four science instruments: the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI).

The Webb’s two other instruments, the Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) and the Fine Guidance Sensor/Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS/NIRISS) don’t capture photo-like images of the universe. Instead, they sort incoming light from distant objects into distinct wavelengths. Scientists can then use these data to measure the temperature and chemical makeup of those objects.

“We will release the scientific data from those observations as well — not just the color JPGs, but also the actual quantitative data — to the astronomical community,” Pontoppidan explains.

What can we expect to see in those first images and data? The Webb team is keeping specific spoilers under wraps, but they’ve offered a few (very broad) hints…

(16) NOSE FOR NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is the first trailer for Disney’s Pinocchio remake, which is not Guillermo del Toro’s version (That’s a Netflix project.)

This reminds me of the version of Pinocchio that sank Roberto Benigni’s career because he stupidly played Pinocchio instead of Geppetto.  “Call the vice squad!” warned Washington Post critic Stephen Hunter.  “It’s a 50-year-old man wearing jammies!”

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] David Sproxton and Peter Lord, creators of Aardman Animations, explain how stop-motion animation is done in this excerpt from a 1981 episode of Blue Peter.

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