Pixel Scroll 6/13/24 You Get A Pixel And You Get A Pixel! Everybody Gets A Pixel!

(1) BRITISH FANTASY AWARDS TAKING NOMINATIONS. It’s time for eligible voters to nominate for the British Fantasy Awards 2024. Full details at the link. Voting will remain open until Saturday, June 29.

You can vote for the BFAs if you are any of the following:
– A member of the British Fantasy Society
– An attendee at FantasyCon 2023 (Birmingham)
– A ticket-holder for FantasyCon 2024 (Chester)

For each category, you may vote for up to three titles. There is no requirement to complete all three fields for each category, or to vote for every category. …

A crowdsourced list of suggestions has been created here: http://tinyurl.com/suggestionlist2024. You may vote for titles not on the suggestions list – this is just to help you generate ideas if you need some guidance….

…The four titles or names with the highest number of recommendations will make the shortlist of nominations. In case of a tie, the title with the most recommendations in space “1” will go through – so please rank your votes in order of preference.

(2) WORLDCON 2026 SITE SELECTION OPENS. Glasgow 2024 announced that WSFS Site Selection for the 2026 Worldcon is open. Complete directions for voting are at the link.

Los Angeles (Anaheim) in 2026 is the sole bidder on the ballot. Their website can be found here. Write-in bids are also allowed, however, to be selected they must meet the requirements in the WSFS Constitution and file the necessary documents with the administering Worldcon. 

Glasgow 2024 WSFS Members who wish to vote in Site Selection need to purchase an Advance WSFS Membership in the 2026 Worldcon, at a cost of £45.00 (GBP). All members who pay this fee will automatically become WSFS Members of the 2026 Worldcon, regardless of who they vote for (or indeed if they vote at all). All Advance WSFS Membership fees received by Glasgow for the 2026 Worldcon will be passed on to the successful candidate.

There are three ways for you to vote in Site Selection:

  1. We have partnered with Election Buddy, a leading provider of secure voting solutions, to enable easy online voting for Site Selection this year. Full information on how to vote online is provided below. This is the quickest and simplest way to pay your fee and submit your site selection ballot.
  2. Attending Members can vote in person at Glasgow 2024, until the Site Selection desk closes at Noon on Saturday, 10th August.
  3. You can also submit a printed ballot by postal mail. If you wish to use this option, please contact us at [email protected]. All postal ballots must reach us by Thursday, 1st August.

(3) WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION. The winner of the 29th Women’s Prize For Fiction is Brotherless Night by V. V. Ganeshananthan, a non-genre novel.

The only shortlisted genre work was The Blue, Beautiful World by Karen Lord (Gollancz).

The Prize is awarded annually to the author of the best full-length novel of the year written in English and published in the UK. The winner receives £30,000, and the “Bessie”, a bronze statuette created by the artist Grizel Niven.

(4) NEW TOLKIEN MEMORIAL. With an assist from Neil Gaiman and Roz Kaveney, “JRR Tolkien memorial unveiled at Pembroke College” reports BBC News.

A memorial to The Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien has been unveiled at the University of Oxford college where he used to teach.

The bronze sculpture, created by sculptor Tim Tolkien, the writer’s grand-nephew, was revealed at Pembroke College.

Neil Gaiman, who served as master of ceremonies at the event, told the BBC that Tolkien was a “towering figure” who “singlehandedly created an entire genre of literature”.

The college said Tolkien was “one of the college’s most esteemed fellows and a literary giant of the 20th Century”.

The memorial design depicts Tolkien as he looked during his time at Pembroke.

Its Junior and Middle Common Rooms each raised 10% of the funds. The Tolkien Society and the Tolkien Estate also contributed.

The author served as the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at the college from 1925 to 1945.

He also wrote The Hobbit, part of The Lord of the Rings, and critical works such as Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics during his time there.

A special poem was read out at the unveiling by writer and Pembroke alumna Roz Kaveney.

Gaiman, author of The Sandman and Good Omens, said he had been a fan of Tolkien ever since he bought an “ancient green hardcover” of The Hobbit for a penny.

He said: “Even more exciting for me was finding in the school library The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers.

“I read them over and over and when I got to the end of The Two Towers I’d go back to The Fellowship of the Ring.

“And when at the age of 12 I won the school English prize they said: ‘What do you want? We’ll get you a book.’ And I said: ‘Can I have The Return of the King? I want to find out how it ends.'”

He said hosting the event was “an honour that I’m not worthy of, and that’s fine because none of us are”.

He added: “Being in this place feels huge and strange and very appropriate. Walking the grounds that Tolkien walked, [feeling] just slightly disappointed that there are not enough trolls and elves here as well, but maybe they’ll turn up.”…

(5) WINDS OF CHANGE? Mark Roth-Whitworth opens a discussion of “Cultural changes in fandom”. First on the list:

…Thinking back over the decades I’ve been going to cons, in the last few years, things seem to have changed. For one, there are more writers, and fewer fans on panels….

(6) MALIK & SHAWL EVENT. Usman T. Malik will be in conversation with Nisi Shawl at Hugo house in Seattle next week. It will be a hybrid event. Free registration to see it online is available here.

(7) GENERATIONAL CHANGE IN CHINA. “Escaping the Censors’ Gaze: Lai Wen on Sci-Fi and the Need for Chinese Protest Literature Today” at Literary Hub.

Xinran: What excites you about the literary scene in China today?

Lai Wen: I think Chinese science fiction is particularly good. It’s something that often sucks in the fundamental social conflicts and contradictions of a given time and remodels them through these incredibly creative and vast fantasy worlds. The earliest Chinese science fiction novels weren’t all that great, to be frank, but they still told you a lot about Chinese society, our way of life, our fears and our hopes.

Lu Shi’e’s New China, published at the beginning of the twentieth century was one of the first examples of homegrown Chinese sci-fi/fantasy. The memory of the Opium Wars—the defeat by foreign powers and the vast numbers of the population who remained addicted to the drug—was still raw.

In his novel, one of the central characters is a genius doctor who invents medical techniques that can pull the population out of an opium-induced stupefaction and supercharge their minds. China then goes on to experience a period of intense rejuvenation, emerging as an economic and cultural superpower where peace and prosperity reign. The novel itself is somewhere between wish-fulfillment and prophecy, as many of the novels from that period were.

I think that the creative and original wave of science fiction coming out of China can be understood in the context of our history. Throughout the twentieth century, change was occurring at a frenetic, world-shattering pace. The final Manchu/Qing dynasty ended in 1911 and then power was dispersed amongst hundreds of local war lords jockeying for position; then Kuomintang was able to unite China under a modern nationalization program.

There was the Second World War, the civil war, Mao’s communists, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, until, eventually, the country was opened up under Deng Xiaoping. Today, China has emerged as a dominant global power.

So many Chinese people born in the last hundred years have lived through successive social systems and different economic models compressed into a handful of decades. Chinese science fiction reflects this. During the period of Communist dictatorship, the genre tended to be more sterile, reduced to the level of propaganda for the Party, but in the 1980s and 1990s science fiction went through something of a revival under Deng’s administration.

While censorship was still robust, science fiction and dystopic fantasy enabled cutting political and social commentaries to fly under the radar. Nineteen Eighty-Four made it past the censors, for instance, and many of the classics of Western science fiction were accessible to people during this time, along with Hollywood films such as E.T.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the most famous Chinese science-fiction writers lived through this period—writers such as Han Song and, most famously of all, Liu Cixin, whose most successful novel, The Three-Body Problem, has been made into a Netflix series….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Born June 13, 1893 Dorothy Sayers. (Died 1957.) I’m going to talk about Dorothy Sayers tonight who though she wrote a handful of ghost stories is here because of mysteries. Oh, what mysteries they were.

Her first novel, Whose Body?, was published in 1923. Over the next thirteen years, she would write ten more novels featuring the ever so proper Lord Peter Wimsey who solved mysteries. In Strong Poison, we would be introduced to artist Harriet Vane who Wimsey would fall in love with in an properly upper-class manner. Harriet appears off and on in the future novels, resisting Lord Peter’s proposals of marriage until Gaudy Night six novels later.

Dorothy L. Sayers

Yes, I read all ten of these novels in order some forty years back. I like them better than Agatha Christie novels on the whole as the social commentary here gives them a sharper edge and I think Sayers described her society better than Christie did. Now Christie was way more productive over a much longer period of time as Sayers stopped writing these mysteries, which includes short stories, by the later Thirties in favor of writing plays, mostly on religious themes which were performed in cathedrals and broadcast by the BBC. 

So there’s eleven novels and the short story collection, Lord Peter Views the Body, which I’ve not read but now I see is on the usual suspects as a rather good deal of just a dollar, so I’ll grab a copy now. Done. 

I’d like to speak about The Lord Peter Wimsey series starring Ian Carmichael of the early Seventies, it covered the first five novels. Carmichael said he was too old to play the part for the romantic relationship of the later novels, but it didn’t matter as the series was cancelled.  

I thought it was a rather well-done series and I caught it recently on Britbox, one of those streaming services, and it has help up rather well fifty years on with the Suck Fairy concurring. 

He did play Wimsey into the BBC radio series that covered all of the novels and ran at the same time. They are quite excellent and are available on Audible at a very reasonable price. 

Finally she wrote, according to ISFDB, a handful of genre stories, four to be precise —“The Cyprian Cat”, “The Cave of Ali Baba”,  “Bitter Almonds” and “The Leopard Lady”.   Three seem to be fantasy and the fourth, “Bitter Almonds” I’ve no idea about. Anyone have knowledge of these?

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Rhymes with Orange features a page turner.
  • xkcd explains all those weird word math problems.
  • Carpe Diem offers the correct explanation why one species became extinct.

(10) THE BOYS IS BACK IN TOWN. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Season 4 of The Boys, based on Garth Ennis’ comic book series, (all available in digital omnibus editions via Hoopla, etc.) starts up (on Prime) Thursday, June 14 with the first 3 episodes, the following 5 dropping weekly.

Reminder, the Prime spin-off series GEN V takes place between The Boys seasons 3 and 4.

If you haven’t seen Seasons 1-3 and GEN V, watch those first.

Like the comics, The Boys (and GEN V) contains lots of fairly explicit violence, cussing, sex, nudity, and drugs. And a bit of song and dance here and there, but not much.

Also returning, August 8: the 4th and final season of The Umbrella Academy.

(11) KGB PHOTOS. Ellen Datlow has posted photos from last night’s Fantastic Fiction at KGB readings with Grady Hendrix and Bracken McLeod.  

(12) GINA CARANO SUIT PROCEEDING. The Hollywood Reporter updates readers: “Mandalorian Lawsuit: How Gina Carano, Disney Are Battling In Court”. “At a Wednesday hearing, a judge expressed skepticism that the Carano’s lawsuit should be tossed before discovery is allowed to take place.”

A federal judge has signaled that Gina Carano‘s lawsuit against Disney and Lucasfilm over her termination from The Mandalorian will be allowed to proceed as the court considers whether the First Amendment allows private companies to sever ties with employees who publicly clash with their values.

U.S. District Judge Sherilyn Peace Garnett on Wednesday pushed back on arguments from Disney lawyer Daniel Petrocelli, who argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the company has the “right not to associate with a high-profile performer on a high-profile show who’s imbuing” the Star Wars series with “views it disagrees with” that could turn fans away from the show.

Petrocelli urged the court to find in favor of Disney on its First Amendment defense on dismissal rather than at a later stage of litigation after discovery takes place in which it’s determined whether the case should be allowed to proceed to trial.

“I’m not convinced there are no disputed facts,” Judge Garnett responded. She pointed to allegations that Carano was terminated to deflect attention from Disney’s contentious business decisions at the time, including the company’s contract dispute with Scarlett Johansson and criticism of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law, which led to the dissolution of its special tax district in the state….

(13) LATEST IN CAPTAIN FUTURE SERIES. Hugo, Locus, and Seiun award-winning author Allen Steele returns to the world of Edmond Hamilton’s classic SF pulp hero with Lost Apollo, a new Captain Future adventure,

The first installment of a two-part story arc takes the cosmic defender and his uncanny crew on a quest across parallel worldlines to save not just our own universe, but countless others!

When an archaic spacecraft unexpectedly comes through a spacetime rift between Earth and the Moon, Curt Newton and the Futuremen intercept it and discover that it’s Apollo 20, a NASA lunar mission from 1973. Yet history doesn’t record there being any further Apollo missions after Apollo 17 in 1972, which can only mean this craft and its crew must have come from a parallel universe … but how, and why?

To discover the answers, Newton enlists the aid of an old foe, a renegade Martian physicist who has unlocked the secret to multiverse travel. Together with the Apollo astronauts, the adventurers lead a military expedition back to the worldline the wayward spacecraft came from, only to discover an unexpected menace awaiting them, a force that threatens Earth … not just one, but many.

Allen Steele’s Captain Future series has been acclaimed by science fiction fans and pulp enthusiasts alike as the blazing return of a classic SF champion. The debut novel, Avengers of the Moon (Tor, 2017) was nominated for Japan’s Seiun Award for Best Foreign Translation. Steele is also the author of an unrelated 1995 novella, “The Death of Captain Future,” which received the Hugo, Locus, and Seiun Awards and was a finalist for the Nebula Award.

Lost Apollo is his sixth Captain Future adventure and his fifth to be published by Amazing Selects.

(14) NANO NEWS. The New Yorker looks at the question “How Will Nanomachines Change the World?”

…In the best case, Santos said, the advent of molecular machines will be less like the invention of an individual tool and more like the creation of a new toolbox. “We have to decide which tool works best for each job,” she told me. Nanomachines bring to mind other innovations for which scientists have found new applications over time. After lasers were invented, in 1960, the military used them to improve guidance systems for smart bombs; now they are used for eye surgery, high-speed Internet, and tattoo removal. Of course, for every technology like the laser, there are many others that never live up to their promise. Directing the right number of molecular machines to the right places, so that they do exactly what they’re made for and nothing more, is much easier in a petri dish than a living body.

Some machines could have untoward interactions with the immune system; others may be harmful to mammalian cells. It will probably be many years before the technologies are tested in humans. “There’s a huge leap between showing something works in a lab and proving it works in people,” Mihail Roco, a senior adviser at the National Science Foundation, who helped create the National Nanotechnology Initiative, told me. “These nanomachines could be a new treatment paradigm, but the human body is enormously complex. Many things we thought would work turned out to be ineffective or toxic.” Still, he went on, “Even if you don’t get exactly what you hoped for, you often learn something useful. You advance knowledge that, down the line, could benefit humanity.”

(15) 2024 NEBULA CEREMONY. The video of the 59th Annual Nebula Awards ceremony is now available on YouTube.

The 59th Annual Nebula Awards took place in Pasadena, California on June 8th, 2024. Hosted by Toastmaster, Sarah Gailey, the evening brought with it a toast to service, remembrance for those we lost in the publishing field, celebration of our finalists and winners of the evening and the induction of the 40th SFWA Grand Master, Susan Mary Cooper.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/11/24 A Pixel Is To Be Hugged And Sung Lullabies Lest It Grow Up Feeling Unwanted. And Then It Won’t Want To Be Scrolled

(1) GLASGOW 2024 TOWN HALL ABOUT BUSINESS MEETING ON 6/15. Glasgow 2024 will host a virtual Town Hall Event about the WSFS Business Meeting on Saturday, June 15, at 7:00 p.m. BST (which is 11:00 a.m. Pacific). Sign up for a free ticket at this Eventbrite link.

Key members of the Business Meeting and The World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) team from Glasgow 2024 will discuss the Business Meeting that will occur at Glasgow 2024.

The event will be moderated, taking questions in advance. If you wish to submit a question for consideration, please do so below. There may not be enough time to cover all questions, but we will do our best to get to as many as we can. https://forms.gle/goRw9ZGspQ4YE3mA9

(2) SHE’S ON THE FRONT. Nnedi Okorafor is featured in the June 10 issue of Publishers Weekly.

(3) CREDIT FOR HELPING SAVE TREK. Bjo Trimble’s daughter Lora reports on Facebook she “again went to the Peabody awards last night to watch Star Trek be honored with the Peabody Institutional Award. What Bjo didn’t know was Alex Kurtzman paid tribute to her and My father John Trimble and all the work they did to save Star Trek and keep it going! It was a lovely evening.” More photos at the link.

Bjo Trimble attends the 2024 Peabody Awards at Beverly Wilshire on June 9. Photo by Jon Kopaloff.

Below you can see J. J. Abrams and Alex Kurtzman accepting Star Trek’s Peabody Award, including Kurtzman’s mention of Bjo.

(4) A STELLAR VILLAIN. “Paul Giamatti Joins ‘Star Trek: Starfleet Academy’ as Main Villain” reports Variety. (Does Starfleet Academy have holiday holdovers?)

Set phasers to stunned. In another casting coup, the upcoming Paramount+ series “Star Trek: Starfleet Academy” has cast Emmy winner and multiple Oscar nominee Paul Giamatti in a recurring guest role as the first season’s main villain, who has a sinister connection to the past of one of the (yet to be cast) cadets.

Giamatti joins Holly Hunter, who Variety exclusively reported in May is boarding “Starfleet Academy” as the Academy’s captain and chancellor.

“Sometimes you’re lucky enough to discover that one of the greatest actors alive is also a huge ‘Star Trek’ fan, and meeting Paul was one of those miraculous moments for us,” said co-showrunners Alex Kurtzman and Noga Landau in a statement. “The sheer delight with which he dove in on ‘Starfleet Academy’ is only surpassed by the gratitude we feel about him joining our incredible cast.”…

(5) HOW MANY VIEW WHO. Steven Moffat told Facebook readers today:

According to Russell T Davies, the ratings for Doctor Who are “far above expectations.”

While he admits that the figures “aren’t where we want them. We always want higher”, an independent BBC review has revealed that it is the most watched show for under 30s in the world.

The series has “reached and exceeded every target, so we are showing no signs of slowing down.”

(6) NO VROOM AT THE INN. New York Times critic Esther Zuckerman recommends “A Four-Hour-Long Hotel Review That Is Actually About So Much More” – Jenny Nicholson’s report on Disney’s Star Wars-themed Galactic Starcruiser hotel, now shut down, which she deems a spectacular failure.

…One of the most captivating pieces of entertainment I’ve seen so far this year is a four-hour-long YouTube video in which one woman describes her stay at a Disney World hotel. I’m as shocked by this as anyone.

To be clear: I was initially resistant when my partner encouraged me to watch Jenny Nicholson’s epic “The Spectacular Failure of the Star Wars Hotel,” which breaks down in microscopic detail her visit to Disney’s Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. During the experience, now closed, guests on vacation were encouraged to live out their George Lucas dreams by participating in a role-playing game while staying in a structure on the outskirts of the park near Orlando, Fla.

Nicholson’s monologue, which runs longer than “Lawrence of Arabia,” has been viewed more than seven million times since it was uploaded last month and has been the talk of social media, yet I was still unprepared for how absolutely riveting it was. While it highlights a litany of problems with the hotel itself, the video can also be viewed as a diagnosis of the entertainment industry’s current ills writ large. In her frustration, Nicholson becomes a valiant truth teller, clearly articulating how corporate greed betrays loyal fans to sell a cheaper and less emotionally enriching product. And she does this against a backdrop of stuffed animals and while wearing various costumes, including, at one point, a giant suit resembling a Porg, the puffin-like creature in “The Last Jedi.”…

…The great irony is that Nicholson herself produced what Disney couldn’t: a comprehensive, entrancing experience that held my attention.

(7) PLEASE DON’T FEED THE BOTS. Clarkesworld’s Neil Clarke has updated his blog post “Block the Bots that Feed ‘AI’ Models by Scraping Your Website” to warn about another offender: “If you haven’t updated your robots.txt to protect your work from scraping for ‘AI’ training recently, there’s probably a few bots you aren’t blocking. Added Applebot-Extended this morning.”

Applebot-Extended does not directly crawl webpages. It is used to determine whether or not pages crawled by the Applebot user agent will be used to train Apple’s models powering generative AI features across Apple products, including Apple Intelligence, Services, and Developer Tools….

(8) ANOTHER SCURRILOUS TACTIC. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] I was listening to a favorite law podcast of mine, Law and Chaos, (“PA Dad Takes On Moms For Liberty”) and they were  interviewing a Pennsylvania father who discovered books were quietly going missing from his kid’s local school library and decided to figure out why. Turns out it was a “shadowban” campaign against books that Moms for Liberty hates and included such lovely behavior as the school creating fake student library accounts, checking out the books to those accounts for an entire year, and then adding the books to the list of items to be removed from the library on the grounds that they weren’t being checked out (!). It’s a fascinating story about just how far Culture Warriors will go to ban books! The titles secretly removed included the entire “A Court of Thorns and Roses” (ACOTAR) fantasy series, which, while not my cup of tea where fantasy is concerned, are very popular with teenage girls who deserve to have the right to check out the books if they want.

The Bucks County Beacon wrote about the Dad who discovered what was going on: “Uncovering the Cover-up: How Republican Pennridge School Board Directors Secretly Banned Books”.

…Frustrated by the lack of answers, I submitted a Right-To-Know request seeking a report that listed the books checked out of the high school library by non-students.  To my surprise, the report furnished by the district was discernibly inaccurate. It did not contain any of the targeted titles that had recently gone missing.

I hired an open records attorney, Joy Ramsingh, to negotiate with the district’s law firm, Eckert Seamans. I was simply requesting the production of a good faith public record. My goal was to learn which books were being censored.  

I wanted to give the community a fair opportunity to read, defend, and debate the merit of literature before it was permanently removed from the library. My lawyer sought to reach a quick and amicable resolution, but the negotiations were unsuccessful. We appealed to the Court of Common Pleas.

After a year of litigation, my attorney was able to prove that the RTK report furnished by the district was illegally manipulated. Faced with overwhelming evidence, the district eventually conceded that an employee had deleted records from the report. It was a clear attempt to hide the removal of books from public scrutiny….

(9) MEDICAL UPDATE. Adam-Troy Castro, in a public Facebook post, has announced he is battling cancer again – but it should be survivable. Full details at the link.

…They remove this and give me another round of chemo and it is pretty survivable. Which is a lot different than this would be if the Colon Cancer had metastasized in any other organ. Anywhere else would have been a case of, “okay, we’re bailing water to keep the boat afloat until it sinks.”

On the scale of having Stage 4 any kind of Cancer, this kind of cancer is not as bad as most. Okay? It’s survivable.

Does this suck?

Yes.

Does it suck a lot less than it could suck if it has to suck?

Yes….

(10) WHAT THE SCROLL SHOULD HAVE ADDED ABOUT H. BRUCE FRANKLIN. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Pixel Scroll 5-23-24 item #9’s mini-obit of H. Bruce Franklin, while acknowledging him as “author of numerous books, essays, and exhibitions related to science fiction.” fails to cite what (to me at least) are the obvious suspects (titles) Future Perfect (an antho that I read decades ago; my memory burped the title up instantly when I saw the NYTimes obit a few weeks ago) and it looks like he also wrote a book about Heinlein, Robert A. Heinlein: America as Science Fiction, and, along with political/historical non-fiction, this one of interest no doubt to SJW credentials: The Most Important Fish in the Sea: Menhaden and America.  

And thanks to Scott Edelman, here’s an unlocked copy of the New York Times obituary: “H. Bruce Franklin, Scholar Fired for His Antiwar Views, Is Dead at 90”.

(11) WORKING THROUGH LOSS. Sharon Lee writes about her experiences while grieving the death of her husband, Steve Miller, in “While one lives, both stand”. Here are the opening paragraphs.

Grief puts funny ideas into your head.

For instance, for awhile back in March, I was convinced that Steve had left me — walked out of our partnership and left no forwarding address.  I couldn’t imagine why, and spent way too much time minutely reviewing our past, looking for my error.

Then I became convinced that we had gotten done at this house, and were moving on.  As has been the case in previous moves, Steve had gone on ahead, leaving me to clean up these last few things before I joined him.  This delusion is particularly pernicious because for those of us who speak Metaphor, it’s true.   Only it’s not.

Anyhow, it’s been my goal for some while now to find or create for myself a place of gratitude for having been privileged to share so much time, love, and magic; for having had Steve in my life.  While it’s certainly a very lonely, hard, and scary thing to no longer have him for back-up, for taking the lead, for producing surprising — and occasionally infuriating — insights — surely unrelenting misery was not the best lesson I could take from our life together.

So, I started looking for ways to achieve, at first, equilibrium.  I didn’t expect to leap from misery to gratitude.  I expected there to be a process, and backsliding, and all the things that attend the pursuit of any mighty goal.

Steve and I not only shared our mundane lives, but we shared an active and beguiling fantasy life.  The worlds we built, the people who live there, the lessons, the philosophies — those also fed the richness of our partnership and informed our mundane lives…

(12) DOUG LEWIS (1955-2024). Thomas Kellogg, in a Centipede Press newsletter, paid tribute to bookseller and publisher Doug Lews, who died May 20.

Doug Lewis who with his wife Tomi, owned and operated the Little Bookshop of Horror/Roadkill Press in Arvada, Colorado and won a World Fantasy Award in the Nonprofessional category in the 1990s, died on May 20, 2024 of complications of diabetes. 

Doug started their bookstore when he was unable to find a copy of Joe Lansdale’s The Night Runners to purchase locally. The Lewis’ store primarily featured horror, fantasy, science fiction and crime fiction. Soon they were sponsoring readings by Joe R. Lansdale, along with Edward Bryant, Harlan Ellison, Dan Simmons, Connie Willis, Nancy Collins, Norm Partridge, Steve Rasnic Tem, Melanie Tem and many others. 

The Night Voices series of readings spawned a long friendship between Doug, Tomi and Ed Bryant. Ed was in many ways their mentor. Ed was the MC for the readings and his introductions were memorable by themselves. The readings spawned a publishing venture Roadkill Press. The initial idea was to publish chapbooks of the writers featured in readings. At that time chapbooks were a rarity. The concept was a quality item using high quality paper, with illustrations, signed by the writers that were incredibly affordable. The line of chapbooks was a big success. A collectible that was affordable was unusual in a time dominated by costly limited editions.

…It all came to a crashing end when Tomi became ill and was diagnosed with cancer. Although she fought bravely, she was gone in less than eight months. A farewell auto tour across the county to see all their friends was thwarted by the ravages of the chemotherapy. Doug was crushed by Tomi’s passing. Nothing mattered anymore. Tomi was the extrovert of the pair. With her gone, Doug fell into an abyss of despair that would last the rest of his life.

Adrift in that despair, his physical health deteriorated. He became a type 1 diabetic almost overnight. I remember at the time he told me that he wasn’t going to let diabetes run his life. Caring about nothing, he failed to take care of himself. The disease ultimately destroyed life. 

My 30 year plus friendship with Doug spanned both his highs and his lows of his life. It as a tragedy that he couldn’t overcome the loss of Tomi. As with us all, he had his demons. Many friends reached out multiple times in the years after Tomi’s passing, only to be rebuffed or ignored. I like to think he avoid responding because it only deepened his sense of loss….

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Compiled by Paul Weimer.]

Born June 11, 1971 P. Djeli Clark, 53.

By Paul Weimer. By day, he is a historian of slavery in history and popular culture. By night. P. Djèlí Clark is a ferocious new talent in science fiction and fantasy.  It took me a bit to come across his work, a friend of mine practically pushed his novella, The Haunting of Tram Car 015 into my hands, telling me that this was going to be my jam.  And an alternate historical late 19th century Egypt with magic, becoming a world power? Djinn, magic, spirits and a strong sense of place in this alternate Cairo?  It most certainly was, and is. 

P. Djèlí Clark

His A Master of Djinn continues in that same world as the novella, and builds and extends and grows that world in a very satisfactory manner. Like the first novella, it builds and works with themes of colonialism, race and gender relations, and magical worldbuilding in exploring the consequences of “The magic returns” and making Egypt a powerhouse. I would so love to physically visit this alternate Cairo and photograph its wonders, but for the moment, can only hope for more books set in this world.

 I have not yet read the copy of Ring Shout on my Kindle although, given his day job, it is probably the work of his thus far that is closest to his day job and his academic research interests. I am confident that it will be excellent, but it remains buried in Mount TBR. For now.

However, as part of my Hugo Reading for 2024, I read and enjoyed “How to Raise a Kraken in Your Bathtub”. It’s a clever little story that takes its worldbuilding as a matter of fact sort of approach to add Krakens, and merpeople, to a 19th century Britain not really equipped or ready to deal with the consequences of racism and colonialism and sexism.

As of the writing of this, I have started reading an ARC of his forthcoming work, The Dead Cat Tail Assassins. This story, unlike his others, is firmly set in a secondary world, and reminds me, as of this moment, of the secondary world fantasy of N K Jemisin, in particular the Dreamblood novels. The setting is an entrepot city, and indeed, the main character is one of the titular Dead Cat Tail Assassins. Shenanigans have already ensued.  It’s a new and different mode for Clark, and I look forward to seeing how he continues with it. 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) THE GAME’S AFOOT. Inverse’s Ryan Brittthinks “’Indiana Jones and the Great Circle’ Could be the Best Indy Adventure in 35 Years”.

…But for the most ideal Indy results, perhaps it’s still best if the entire adventure happens in the 1930s or 1940s, with Dr. Jones looking and sounding like he’s in between the events of the first three movies. And with the release of a new trailer for the upcoming Bethesda game Indiana Jones and the Great Circle, it seems the franchise is getting back to its roots in an unexpected medium.

Set in 1937, The Great Circle takes place right in between Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade and pairs Indy with a new character named Gina Lombardi. As revealed in the new trailer, the primary mystery in this story is centered on various spiritual sites of great importance — from the Vatican to the Great Pyramids — that form a kind of invisible circle. A madman named Voss is after this power, and it’s up to Gina and Indy to stop him while they race to unlock the secrets of the circle.

Indy is voiced by Troy Baker, but you can barely tell this isn’t Harrison Ford uttering the lines. The mystical and religious overtones of the story also feel very aligned with the tone of The Last Crusade. In other words, this feels authentically Indy in a way that aspects of Dial of Destiny and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull didn’t.

(15) BAIT FOR YOUR CLICK. “’Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim’ Debuts Epic First Footage”Variety has the reaction. (But no video!)

Warner Bros. Animation, New Line Cinema and Sola Entertainment previewed 20 minutes of its upcoming anime feature “The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim,” receiving thunderous applause during the packed presentation on Tuesday at the Annecy Animation Festival.

Director Kenji Kamiyana said he was inspired by not just J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” books, but by the films of Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, who were confirmed as exec producers of the movie during the session.

The new story is set nearly 200 years before Bilbo Baggins comes into contact with the ring of power, and centers on the House of Helm Hammerhand, the King of Rohan (voiced by Brian Cox), with a focus on his daughter, the strong willed Princess Héra (voiced by Gaia Wise). In the clip, a dispute erupts during a council meeting, leaving Wulf, a ruthless Dunlending lord, seeking vengeance. Miranda Otto reprises her “Lord of the Rings” role as Éowyn, this time as the movie’s narrator….

(16) BYE, BOYS. “’The Boys’ Is Ending With Season 5 on Amazon” says The Hollywood Reporter.

The Boys will have their final fight in the near future.

Eric Kripke, the showrunner of Prime Video‘s super(anti)hero series, said on social media Tuesday that the show’s fifth season — which the streamer ordered in May — will be its last.

“Season 4 premiere week is a good time to announce: Season 5 will be the final season!” Kripke wrote on X. “Always my plan, I just had to be cagey till I got the final OK from Vought. Thrilled to bring the story to a gory, epic, moist climax.”…

(17) NO SCRAPING UNLESS IT’S MY SCRAPING. Gizmodo tells us “Elon Musk Just Cancelled iPhones”.

Apple and OpenAI’s partnership is only a few hours old, and Elon Musk is already going to war over it. The owner of Tesla, X, SpaceX, and xAI said he would ban Apple devices at his companies if Apple integrated ChatGPT at the operating system level, which the companies are very much planning to do. Musk, a founder of OpenAI who is now suing the present owners, said ChatGPT integrated iPhones present an “unacceptable security violation.”

“If Apple integrates OpenAI at the OS level, then Apple devices will be banned at my companies,” said Musk in a tweet on Monday. “And visitors will have to check their Apple devices at the door, where they will be stored in a Faraday cage,” said Musk in a follow-up tweet

(18) STEVE HEADROOM? “Brighton general election candidate aims to be UK’s first ‘AI MP’” reports the Guardian. Candidate Steve Endacott tells journalists how it’s supposed to work.

‘Politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians’, so the saying goes.

This may be why a businessman in the south of England is proposing a novel solution: putting himself forward as a candidate in the UK general election as the first “AI MP”.

AI Steve is a nominee on the list of candidates for the 4 July general election in Brighton Pavilion, last held by the Green party’s Caroline Lucas, who is stepping down.

The man behind AI Steve is Steve Endacott, a self-described entrepreneur who lives in Rochdale, but “maintains a house in Brighton”.

Endacott, who is the chair of an artificial intelligence company called Neural Voice but “made his fortune” in the travel sector, claims he will attend parliament to vote on policies as guided by AI Steve’s feedback from his constituents.

He claims the AI representative would answer constituents’ concerns and questions using a rendition of Endacott’s voice and an avatar.’…

(19) SMALL BANG THEORY. “Webb telescope reveals asteroid collision in neighboring star system” at Hub.

Astronomers have captured what appears to be a snapshot of a massive collision of giant asteroids in Beta Pictoris, a neighboring star system known for its early age and tumultuous planet-forming activity.

The observations spotlight the volatile processes that shape star systems like our own, offering a unique glimpse into the primordial stages of planetary formation.

“Beta Pictoris is at an age when planet formation in the terrestrial planet zone is still ongoing through giant asteroid collisions, so what we could be seeing here is basically how rocky planets and other bodies are forming in real time,” said Christine Chen, a Johns Hopkins University astronomer who led the research.

The insights will be presented today at the 244th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Madison, Wisconsin.

Chen’s team spotted significant changes in the energy signatures emitted by dust grains around Beta Pictoris by comparing new data from the James Webb Space Telescope with observations by the Spitzer Space Telescope from 2004 and 2005. With Webb’s detailed measurements, the team tracked the dust particles’ composition and size in the exact area previously analyzed by Spitzer.

Focusing on heat emitted by crystalline silicates—minerals commonly found around young stars as well as on Earth and other celestial bodies—the scientists found no traces of the particles previously seen in 2004–05. This suggests a cataclysmic collision occurred among asteroids and other objects about 20 years ago, pulverizing the bodies into fine dust particles smaller than pollen or powdered sugar, Chen said.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. PRINT Magazine praises “Design Army’s Out of This World Campaign for the Hong Kong Ballet”.

The Hong Kong Ballet is celebrating its 45th anniversary with a groundbreaking campaign in collaboration with Design Army and Dean Alexander Productions. The production brings the ethereal beauty of ballet to the masses, transforming it from a symbol of privilege to a universal cultural experience. This inventive campaign, inspired by Degas’ ballerina portraits, the Renaissance, and artistic hip-hop, redefines ballet in a uniquely Hong Kong context. From the witty “Tutu Academy” to sci-fi extraterrestrial scenes, the film captures the essence of dance as a universal language, connecting everyone, even aliens, to its unearthly magic. With vibrant settings ranging from university halls to iconic plazas, the campaign showcases the troupe’s artistry against the backdrop of Hong Kong’s cultural landmarks, making ballet accessible, relatable, and joyfully unconventional….

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

Samantha Béart Announced as Special Guest at Glasgow 2024

Glasgow 2024 today announced actor Samantha Béart (she/they) as a Special Guest of the 2024 Worldcon.

Samantha Béart

Samantha Béart is a BAFTA and DICE nominated, GANG Award-winning actor. They are best known for their role as Karlach in Baldur’s Gate 3 (Larian Studios). They are also a member of this year’s BAFTA Breakthrough cohort, the first actor to enter the scheme for a video game, The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow (Wadjet Eye Games/Cloak and Dagger Games). Samantha is also the creator and host of “It Takes A Village”, a streaming chat show on Twitch featuring a live audience Q&A. The show shines a spotlight on those who are so often overlooked – the people who make our games – on themes of collaboration and community. VODs can be found on Samantha’s YouTube Channel. Most recently they co-hosted the “Future Games Show: Spring Showcase”.

Looking ahead to the convention, Samantha said “Glasgow is my favourite city in the UK, and it’s wonderful to visit during Worldcon. I’m looking forward to connecting with friends, old and new.”

Announcing Samantha’s appearance, convention chair Esther MacCallum-Stewart added “I am delighted to welcome Samantha Béart to Glasgow 2024, a Worldcon for our Futures. Samantha will be playing D&D live onstage with our other Special Guests; Tanya DePass and the Three Black Halflings, and I can’t wait to see the dice start to roll!” 

About Samantha Béart: Before training at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Samantha’s first professional acting job was as Random Dent in BBC Radio 4’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Quintessential Phase. This was to be the first of many audio drama collaborations with director Dirk Maggs, including Terry Pratchett’s Unseen AcademicalsAlien: River of Pain by Christopher Golden, and How the Marquis Got His Coat Back & Calliope in The Sandman, both by Neil Gaiman. Samantha also appeared in two UK theatre tours with the original cast of “Hitchhikers”. They have been in 41 audio dramas with Big Finish Productions (42 can’t be far away now). Aside from various episodes of “Doctor Who”, highlights include Vienna with Chase Masterson, New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield with David Warner, The War Master with Derek Jacobi, and as team member Orr in three series of “Torchwood” – a new character created by Russell T Davies.

Other games include The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles (Capcom), The Solitaire Conspiracy (Bithell Games), Demon’s Souls Remake (Japan Studio/Bluepoint) and Age of Wonders III (Triumph Studios)

Samantha’s full biography can be found on the Glasgow 2024 website.

Follow Samantha online at https://linktr.ee/samanthabeart

[Based on a press release.]

Glasgow 2024 Membership Rate Changes as of July 1

Glasgow 2024 has announced changes to its membership rates to take effect from July 1, 2024. These rates will apply until the convention and on the door.
 
Attending Membership Rates: In-person attending membership rates from July 1, 2024 will be as follows. All these memberships include the right to attend the convention, WSFS rights to participate in the Hugo Awards and Site Selection, and for those over 15 years old, full access to the Online Convention, both during and after the convention.
 
Full Adult (26 and over) – £255 (previously £230)
First Worldcon Adult – £185 (previously £165)
Historically Under-represented Adult – £185 (previously £165)
Scottish / Local Adult – £165 (previously £150)
Full Young Adult (16-25) – £150 (previously £135)
Scottish / Local Young Adult – £100 (previously £95)
Teenage (11-15) – £100 (previously £90)
 
The following rates will also change:
 
Online Bundled (Includes WSFS rights) – £95 (previously £80)
Online Unbundled (no WSFS rights) – £50 (previously £40)
Child Tickets (In-Person Only, 6-10 years old) – £65 (previously £55)
Infant Tickets (under 6, excludes Childcare) – £15 (previously £5)
WSFS Only (Supporting) Memberships – £50 (previously £45)
 
Day and Weekend Tickets: The prices for Glasgow’s Day and Weekend Tickets will also increase from July 1. These tickets are available in two forms: one for those aged 16 and over including access to the online convention, and one for younger fans covering physical attendance only.
 
Please note that Day and Weekend Tickets do not include WSFS rights; a separate WSFS Only Membership will be required for individuals who wish to participate in the Hugo Awards, Site Selection and Business Meeting.

Day / Weekend ticket rates from July 1 will be as follows: 

DayAdult (over 16)Under 16
Thursday 8 Aug£60£25
Friday 9 Aug£85£30
Saturday 10 Aug£85£30
Sunday 11 Aug£85£30
Monday 12 Aug£50£20
Weekend 10 and 11 Aug£155£55

People planning to attend on two or more days should check their rates against our Full Attending In-Person rates, particularly if they are eligible for a concessionary rate (First Worldcon, Scottish / Local etc) or also plan to buy a WSFS Membership, as the Full Attending Rate may offer a cheaper option.

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 6/1/24 If You Like My File And You Think I’m Pixely, Come On Baby Let Me Scroll

(1) $UPPORT THE BID. The Worldcon Heritage Organization, which maintains several fixed exhibits to be shown at Worldcons, including a collection of past Hugo Awards, is putting together a bid in hopes of acquiring the first Hugo Award ever given when it goes to auction on June 7. They will also try to get the honorary one given to Hugo Gernsback in 1960, another lot in the same auction.

WHO President Kent Bloom said in a comment on File 770, “Our funds are limited, so if anyone bids against us we may not succeed. I don’t know how to set up a fund to collect donations, but anyone who wants to donate can send money to Worldcon Heritage Organization, c/o Kent Bloom, 1245 Allegheny Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80919. If you want this considered as a contingent donation, please let us know and if we don’t succeed in acquiring the trophies we can return your contributions.” Bloom can be contacted at [email protected] or at kent.bloom (at) rialto.org

John Pomeranz followed with this advice: “And, as a reminder, let’s not publicize how much we’re giving. No need to tip off the other bidders how high WHA might be able to go.”

(2) POLAND’S FAN OF THE YEAR. Congratulations to Polish fan Marcin “Alqua” Klak who received the Śląkfa Award from Śląski Klub Fantastyki as the fan of the year.

Marcin “Alqua” Klak

(3) UNEXPECTED KAIJU. “Godzilla Minus One Makes a Surprise Stomp to Netflix and Digital” reports Gizmodo.

Godzilla Minus One was one of 2023’s best movies, if not the best, depending on who you ask. If you’re one of the folks who didn’t get the chance to see it in theaters, great news: it’s now on Netflix and available to own or rent digitally…

…If you weren’t aware, there was some confusion around the circumstances of Minus One’s arriving on streaming and physical formats. Due to a contract between Toho and Legendary, the movie had to be taken out of theaters once Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire came out. Presumably, that’s also why a physical 4K/Blu-rRay version hasn’t dropped in outside of Japan either. New Empire only just hit streaming in mid-May and is coming to physical formats on June 11, so it might be a while before folks get to snatch up Minus One to add onto their physical collections….

(4) WHO KNEW? At Physics World, Robert P. Crease says our Steven French knew! “Ursula Le Guin: the pioneering author we should thank for popularizing Schrödinger’s cat” at Physics World.

… But despite its current ubiquity, the fictitious animal only really entered wider public consciousness after the US science-fiction and fantasy writer Ursula K Le Guin published a short story called “Schrödinger’s cat” exactly 50 years ago. Le Guin, who died in 2018 at the age of 88, was a widely admired writer, who produced more than 20 novels and over 100 short stories.

Schrödinger originally invented the cat image as a gag. If true believers in quantum mechanics are right that the microworld’s uncertainties are dispelled only when we observe it, Schrödinger felt, this must also sometimes happen in the macroworld – and that’s ridiculous. Writing in a paper published in 1935 in the German-language journal Naturwissenschaften (23 807), he presented his famous cat-in-a-box image to show why such a notion is foolish.

For a while, few paid attention. According to an “Ngram” search of Google Books carried out by Steven French, a philosopher of science at the University of Leeds in the UK, there were no citations of the phrase “Schrödinger’s cat” in the literature for almost 20 years. As French describes in his 2023 book A Phenomenological Approach to Quantum Mechanics, the first reference appeared in a footnote to an essay by the philosopher Paul Feyerabend in the 1957 book Observation and Interpretation in the Philosophy of Physics edited by Stephan Körner….

(5) SUMMER IS COMING. “George R.R. Martin reveals first look at his sci-fi short film The Summer Machine” at Winter Is Coming.

…The Summer Machine is a science fiction story and may be the first entry in an anthology. Martin is producing the movie, but not writing or directing it; both roles are filled by Michael Cassutt, with whom Martin worked on the 1985 Twilight Zone reboot. The short will star Lina Esco, Charles Martin Smith and Matt Frewer.

We don’t know many details about the plot, although in the image above you can clearly see that Martin is sitting in front of some kind of sci-fi doohicky….

(6) GEORGE R.R. MARTIN COMING TO GLASGOW 2024. Blink and you’ll miss it, but in a Not a Blog post about yet another TV series based on his work (“Here’s Egg!”) George R.R. Martin said he’s going to this year’s Worldcon.

THE HEDGE KNIGHT will be a lot shorter than GAME OF THRONES or HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, with a much different tone… but it’s still Westeros, so no one is truly safe  Ira Parker and his team are doing a great job.  I hope to visit the shoot come July, when I swing by Belfast on my way to the worldcon in Glasgow.  

(7) CENSORING SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT APPARENTLY FEARS TO TOUCH BOOK. “The Handmaid’s Tale Was Removed from An Idaho School Library. This Teen Handed A Copy to the Superintendent At Graduation”People tells what happened then.

Annabelle Jenkins protested the removal of the graphic novel adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel earlier in the school year

An Idaho high school graduate took book censorship into her own hands at her graduation ceremony earlier this month.

During the May 23 graduation ceremony for the Idaho Fine Arts Academy, Annabelle Jenkins handed West Ada School District superintendent Derek Bub a copy of the graphic novel adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale. The book had been removed from the school district’s libraries in Dec. 2023.

According to the Idaho Statesman, the novel was one of 10 books, including Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen and Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas, to be removed from the school district. It’s administration concluded that the “graphic imagery contained within [the graphic novel adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale] was not suitable for the West Ada School District student population,” per a statement from district representative Niki Scheppers.

“I just realized that I did not want to walk across that stage and get my diploma and shake the superintendent’s hand,” Jenkins told KTVB. “I just did not want to do that.”

In a TikTok Jenkins posted, which currently has over 24 million views, the graduate is seen shaking the hands of other faculty on stage during the ceremony. When she gets to Bub, Jenkins hands him a copy of The Handmaid’s Tale graphic novel instead.

“I got up there and I got the book out. I kind of showed it to the audience really quick,” she said. “He crossed his arms like this and he wouldn’t take it.” Jenkins placed the book at his feet before she walked off the stage….

(8) DOG’S BEST FRIEND. The New York Times’ Amy Nicholson tells why this is a “critic’s pick”: “‘Robot Dreams’ Review: A Friendship That Is Far From Mechanical”. (Link bypasses NYT paywall.)

Decades after Philip K. Dick asked if androids dreamed of electric sheep, we have an answer. This android — one of two nameless leads in the Oscar-nominated charmer “Robot Dreams” — envisions a small, lonely dog in his third-floor walk-up, microwaving a depressing dinner for one. Set in 1980s Manhattan, Pablo Berger’s all-ages, wordless wonder of a cartoon kicks into gear when the mutt assembles a self-aware, spaghetti-limbed robot companion ordered from an infomercial. You might be thinking that sentient artificial intelligence didn’t exist 40 years ago, and you’d be right. But dogs don’t rent apartments, either.

This fanciful vision of New York is populated by animals: sporty ducks, punk rock monkeys, buffalo mail carriers, penguins shouldering boomboxes, and a disproportionate number of llamas. Mechanical beings are sparse and some creatures consider them lower in status, a brutal development when our robot’s relationship with his dog begins to break down. But Berger isn’t interested in science fiction. He’s made a buddy film that’s as relatable as two friends bonding over slices of pizza (but the robot eats the plate, too)….

(9) ZACK NORMAN (1940-2024). Producer Zack Norman, who gained a kind of fame as the maker of a film referenced on Mystery Science Theater 3000, died April 28 at the age of 83. The New York Times obituary tells how he became a pop culture icon.

…A far more obscure film that Mr. Norman helped produce, “Chief Zabu” (1986), entered into pop-culture lore in an unusual way: by disappearing for three decades.

“Chief Zabu,” which Mr. Norman wrote, produced and directed with Neil Cohen, was another bargain, made on a shoestring budget of $200,000. Mr. Norman was also a star of the film: He played Sammy Brooks, a real estate mogul who, with his friend Ben Sydney (Allen Garfield), pursues both financial and political ambitions in a grandiose scheme to take over a fictitious Polynesian island.

The film fizzled in a preview and was never released. For 30 years it was buried, but not forgotten — at least not to fans of “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” the Generation X staple of the 1990s that featured a weary space traveler and his robot friends poking fun at bad B-movies on a journey through the cosmos.

On the show, any time a character in one of those achingly bad movies cracked a newspaper, Joel Hodgson, the original host, would wearily intone, “Hey, Zack Norman is Sammy in ‘Chief Zabu.’”

It was a knowing reference to an advertisement for the movie, featuring a stern photo of Mr. Norman, that he continued to run — stubbornly yet playfully — in Weekly Variety every Wednesday for nine years. Why? “Because it gave me great joy,” he said in a 2016 interview with The Sun Sentinel of South Florida….

Mr. Norman’s faith in “Chief Zabu” eventually paid off. He and Mr. Cohen released a new cut of the film in 2016 and then took it on tour, presenting it at comedy clubs. Even so, it took them decades to realize that the Variety ad had become a cultural artifact.

In a 2020 interview with the film website Skewed & Reviewed, Mr. Cohen said that neither of them had heard of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” until one afternoon in the mid-2010s when they were walking down a Los Angeles street and saw a man wearing a “Zack Norman as Sammy in Chief Zabu” T- shirt.

“We stopped the guy and said, ‘Dude, what is up with that?’” he recalled. “And you can imagine his reaction when he saw he was talking to Zack Norman, whose face was on his T-shirt.”

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

June 1, 1947 Jonathan Pryce, 77. I’m reasonably sure that the first role I saw Jonathan Pryce in was the lead antagonist of Some Wicked Comes This Way. (Bradbury did a stellar job writing the screenplay, didn’t he?)  He pulls off the carnival leader of Mr. Dark in suitably sinister manner. 

Then there’s the matter of Right Ordinary Horatio Jackson in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen where we meet him executing a heroic officer played by Sting for his act of bravery because it’s demoralizing to soldiers and citizens just trying to lead as he says unexceptional lives. 

(That is the Gilliam film I’ve watched the most followed by Time Bandits. Surely you’re not surprised?) 

As media baron Eliot Carter is in the Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, he’s trying to cause war between the United Kingdom and China. Arrogant little prick he is here. 

He’s in Pirates of the Caribbean seriesas Governor Weatherby Swann. I’ve only seen the first film, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and I thought it was an interesting but not terribly great film. 

He’s The Master in the Doctor Who special,  Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death, made specifically for the Red Nose Day charity telethon. It was the only BBC commissioned live-action Doctor Who production between the Who television movie and the launch of the present Who era starting with the “Rose” episode.

In Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars, he got to play that character with Bill Paterson as Watson. The Baker Street Irregulars, a group of street urchins as the BBC press kits described them, is trying to find their missing members, while also trying to prevent Sherlock Holmes being convicted of murder. I’ll end this review with a photo of him in that role.

Jonathan Pryce as Sherlock Holmes.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) STARLINER LAUNCH SCRUBBED. “Boeing forced to call off its first launch with NASA astronauts once again”NBC News has the story.

NASA and Boeing were forced once again to call off the first crewed launch of the company’s Starliner spacecraft.

NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita Williams were scheduled to lift off aboard the Starliner from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Saturday at 12:25 p.m. ET. The flight to the International Space Station would have been the vehicle’s first with a crew.

The launch attempt was scrubbed with only 3 minutes and 50 seconds to go in the countdown — yet another setback for Boeing, which has already dealt with years of delays and budget overruns with its Starliner program.

Officials were attempting to try again the next day but announced Saturday evening that the flight was postponed “to give the team additional time to assess a ground support equipment issue,” according to NASA….

(13) SECOND LIFE. “Scavengers Reign, a sci-fi show like no other, now gets a second shot at life on Netflix”Polygon has the good news.

The streaming era operates via a cold and opaque calculus. Many shows unceremoniously premiere with limited promotion, only to face swift cancellation with an equal lack of fanfare. With no real numbers and a few dodgy reports available to the public and creators (now a little less dodgy, thanks to the Writers Guild of America strike), a show’s fate can feel like a cosmic joke, with no rhyme or reason to why some soldier on and some never get the chance to find an audience. Scavengers Reign, the stunning animated series that debuted on Max last year, found its number was up when the streamer canceled it earlier this May. However, in a rare moment of clarity, there is a way forward for the show: It just has to be a hit starting Friday, when it premieres on Netflix.

Its new summer home (Scavengers Reign is still available to stream on Max) is reportedly considering a season 2 renewal pending the show’s Netflix debut, though what a favorable run looks like isn’t terribly clear. Mostly, this is just an excuse to exercise a rare bit of streaming-era agency: Go check out Scavengers Reign, one of the very best shows of last year, and the rare series that earns the superlative of “like nothing else on television” simply by virtue of its stunning visual design.

Taking visual cues from European sci-fi artists like Moebius and Simon Roy, Scavengers Reign chronicles the aftermath of a disaster aboard the spacecraft Demeter, following a handful of survivors that escaped to the alien world of Vesta Minor, a hauntingly beautiful and hostile planet…. 

(14) THREE SHALL BE THE NUMBER. “’3 Body Problem’ To Run For 3 Seasons On Netflix” reports Deadline.

3 Body Problem creators David Benioff, D.B. Weiss and Alexander Woo on Friday cleared up the confusion over the Netflix sci-fi drama’s recent renewal, confirming that it will produce two more seasons.

At the streamer’s upfront presentation last month, the streamer announced that 3 Body Problem has been picked up for “all-new episodes”, with Benioff, Weiss and Woo assuring fans that they will “get to tell this story through to its epic conclusion.”

No number of episodes or seasons were revealed, creating a confusion and triggering wild speculation. Benioff, Weiss and Woo subsequently indicated to THR that the pickup was for “seasons” but have not provided specifics until today when they confirmed that there will be Seasons 2 and 3 during a 3 Body Problem Television Academy panel at the Netflix FYSEE space….

(15) SMOKE BUT NO MIRRORS? [Item by Steven French.] So, maybe not built by aliens ….? “Are dusty quasars masquerading as Dyson sphere candidates?” asks Physics World.

Seven candidate Dyson spheres found from their excess infrared radiation could be a case of mistaken identity, with evidence for dusty background galaxies spotted close to three of them.

The seven candidates were discovered by Project Hephaistos, which is coordinated by astronomers at Uppsala University in Sweden and Penn State University in the US.

A Dyson sphere is a hypothetical construct: a swarm of energy collectors capturing all of a star’s radiant energy to provide huge amounts of power for its builders. As these energy collectors – basically huge arrays of solar panels – absorb sunlight, they must emit waste heat as infrared radiation to avoid overheating. While a complete Dyson swarm would hide a star from view, this waste heat would still be detectable.

The caveat is that to build a complete Dyson swarm, a lot of raw material is required. In his 1960 paper describing the concept, Freeman Dyson calculated that dismantling a gas giant planet like Jupiter should do the trick.

Given that this is easier said than done, Project Hephaistos has been looking for incomplete Dyson swarms “that do not block all starlight, but a fraction of it,” says Matías Suazo of Uppsala University, who is leading the project….

(16) CHANG’E-6 LANDS ON MOON. “China’s Chang’e-6 probe successfully lands on far side of the moon”CNN puts the news in perspective.

China’s Chang’e-6 lunar lander successfully touched down on the far side of the moon Sunday morning Beijing time, in a significant step for the ambitious mission that could advance the country’s aspirations of putting astronauts on the moon.

The Chang’e-6 probe landed in the South Pole-Aitken Basin, where it will begin to collect samples from the lunar surface, the China National Space Administration announced.

China’s most complex robotic lunar endeavor to date, the uncrewed mission aims to return samples to Earth from the moon’s far side for the first time.

The landing marks the second time a mission has successfully reached the far side of the moon. China first completed that historic feat in 2019 with its Chang’e-4 probe.

If all goes as planned, the mission — which began on May 3 and is expected to last 53 days — could be a key milestone in China’s push to become a dominant space power.

The country’s plans include landing astronauts on the moon by 2030 and building a research base at its south pole – a region believed to contain water ice.

Sunday’s landing comes as a growing number of countries, including the United States, eye the strategic and scientific benefits of expanded lunar exploration in an increasingly competitive field.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. You’re just in time (!) for the “Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark Pitch Meeting” with Ryan George. Does the proposed story have any holes? Shut up, he explained.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/26/24 How Can You Have Any Pixels If You Won’t Scroll Your File?

(1) HIGHEST QUALITY DUMPS. Dorothy Grant points writers at “Excellent info on infodumping well” at Mad Genius Club.

I used to think I hated infodumps. I’ve come to realize, with careful line-by-line analysis of works I love and works I find mediocre, that I hate poorly-done infodumps.

What is the difference?

Relevancy, and timeliness.

Here’s an excerpt from Grant’s advice about relevancy:

Relevancy:
“Who is my audience and what specific question does it need answered?”

If my audience are current and prior military looking for a thriller, then that affects how I present the answer, as opposed to if my audience are civilian women over 40 looking for a light romance read that will not tax them by forcing them to think.

…But even in thrillers, where the audience enjoys the deep dive into the specs on the submarine, or the loadout someone’s carrying, they only enjoy it if it’s useful to the story.

(2) ARKS LOST AND FOUND. Julien*s Auctions has an array of highly recognizable props in its “Hollywood Legends: Danger, Disaster & Disco” auction happening June 12-14.

From beloved blockbusters to side-splitting comedies, cult classics, and even thought-provoking art films, this auction is a treasure trove for movie enthusiasts. Brace yourself as The Big Lebowski, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial take center stage, alongside the electrifying disco inferno of Saturday Night Fever. Marvel and DC fans, prepare to unleash your inner superhero as this auction proudly showcases astounding treasures from the beloved comic book universes.

An original production-used Ark of the Covenant prop as used during the making of the action-adventure Indiana Jones film Raiders of the Lost Ark (Lucasfilm Ltd., 1981). 

This ark prop is composed of wood, plastic trophy figures (missing arms), hot glue, and gold-tone paint. The back side of the ark is unfinished and is painted black. The Ark is uniquely constructed from layers of picture frames and hot glue, placed together to form an ornate design. The top of the Ark features a hinged lid and a “battleship gray” painted interior. A cut-out portion of the interior of the lid may have been used to mount the trophy figures and frames on the surface of the lid, or may have served a purpose during pyro experimentation.

An original hero large-scale filming miniature of the USOS Seaview submarine from the Irwin Allen science fiction film Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (20th Century Fox, 1961) and the television series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (20th Century Fox Television, 1964 – 1968). 

(3) FANZINE NEWS. Chinese fan RiverFlow discusses plans for an English language edition in time for the Worldcon.

(4) CORFLU FIFTY WINNERS FOR 2025. The Corflu Fifty guests at next year’s Corflu – Corflu 42 in Newbury, UK – will be Nic and Jennifer Farey. 

The Corflu Fifty are a group of fans who jointly pay for some worthy person to attend the convention. Rich Coad is the US Administrator and Rob Jackson the UK Administrator.

Rob Jackson sent the news with this comment: “Donations over and above the standard contributions by the C50 members are always welcome, of course; but we are being ambitious in supporting a couple for a Transatlantic trip this year.  Fandom – especially fanzine fandom – will be doing its best to support them, of course.”

(5) AMENDED HUGO BALLOT. Xueting C. Ni, translator of a Hugo finalist, asks Glasgow to add their credit:

(6) GARFIELD MAKES MAX MADDER. According to the New York Times, “‘Furiosa’ Is a Box Office Dud, Adding to Hollywood Woes”.

Hollywood expected “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” to scorch the box office over the holiday weekend. Instead, the big-budget Warner Bros. prequel iced it over.

“Furiosa,” which cost $168 million to make, not including tens of millions of dollars in marketing costs, collected an estimated $25.6 million in the United States and Canada from Thursday night to Sunday. Box office analysts expected the film to take in about $5.4 million on Monday, for a holiday-weekend total of $31 million….

…Hollywood had high expectations for “Furiosa,” which Warner Bros. premiered at the Cannes Film Festival; the movie received exceptional reviews. On Sunday, however, it was unclear whether “Furiosa” would manage even first place at the box office. Analysts said the poorly reviewed “Garfield” (Sony), which cost $60 million to make, could inch ahead. It could also be a tie….

(7) ELUSIVE MEMORY. Phil Foglio sent a note about yesterday’s birthday celebrant, Ian McKellen:

Hardly anybody remembers this one, and it’s a damn shame: The best film version of the Scarlet Pimpernel. (1982) McKellen is the romantic villain, Paul Chauvelin. He is hilarious, heart-breaking, and ice-cold terrifying, and his is not even the best performance in the movie.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

May 26, 1923 James Arness. (Died 2011.) We are here tonight to discuss Marshall Matt Dillion, errr, I mean James Arness. Though he’s certainly best remembered for playing that role on Gunsmoke. It premiered on September 10, 1955 and would run until March 31, 1975, on CBS, with six hundred and thirty-five episodes. 

James Arness in 1970. Photo by Steve Mays.

The first two seasons were not called Gunsmoke, but rather were Marshall Dillon.  I’m not much of a Western fan but what I saw of the few seasons I really liked.

After cancellation, there would be four Gunsmoke films about ten to twenty years later. Not going to comment on how old that made the actors who were still with us at that point… 

So, his genre-related films. 

Well, he did save Mike’s city from giant ants in Them where he played FBI agent Robert Graham. With others, he discovers that all the incidents plaguing Mike’s city are due to giant ants that have been mutated by atomic radiation.

In The Thing from Another World, mostly called The Thing, he played, errrr, The Thing. Cast in the role because of being six feet seven inches tall, he made a most splendid monster. Of course, you know that The Thing is based on the “Who Goes There?” which was written by John W. Campbell.

Arness as the Thing.

Lastly, he was Kirk Hamilton in Two Lost Worlds which was a really low budget Fifties film that had dinosaurs and pirates in it. How low budget? The dinosaurs appear 58 minutes into the film. They were taken from footage recycled from the One Million B.C. Film that had ended up in the bin. Yeah, they were considered that bad. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Broom Hilda avoids the second novel problem.
  • Frazz ponders the difference between rereads and sequels.
  • Free Range introduces a needed superhero.
  • Shoe says an actor’s roles point to an inescapable conclusion.
  • Thatababy explains brain freeze. Can you name the characters?
  • The Argyle Sweater updates a fairy tale.

(10) ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER. “Daniel Radcliffe not expecting to return for Harry Potter TV show”, so he tells Entertainment Weekly.

When it comes to the upcoming Harry Potter TV series, don’t expecto patronum Daniel Radcliffe to make an appearance.

The actor, who of course played the Boy Who Lived in all eight of the blockbuster Harry Potter movies, recently told E! News that he didn’t think a role or cameo in the upcoming entry into the Wizarding World was in the cards for him.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “I think they very wisely want to [have] a clean break. And I don’t know if it would work to have us do anything in it.”

And that’s perfectly all right with the 34-year-old actor, who added he is “very happy to just watch along with everyone else.”

Radcliffe remained coy when asked what his response would be should the Max production team actually conjure up an opportunity for him to return, though. “I’m gonna be a politician about this,” he said, “and not deal in hypotheticals.”…

(11) REPLICANT CHOW. [Item by Steven French.] This is a bit of a tangential genre allusion but I love Jay Rayner’s restaurant reviews in The Observer and I just couldn’t resist bringing this passage from his latest to the Collective Attention: “Sam’s Montpellier, Cheltenham: ‘Dishes that deserve our attention’ – restaurant review” in the Guardian:

…She smiles broadly. “Here at Sam’s, we have…” Pause. “A small plates concept. A bit like tapas.” You do? Oh, you marvellous, dear, young person. And if that sounds like I’m being patronising all I can say is, how clever of you to notice. In this job you see things. Granted, restaurant reviewing isn’t all attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, and C-beams glittering in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate, but it can be challenging. So when someone threatens profound difference, sweaty-palmed trepidation is reasonable. And when that difference turns out to be something achingly familiar, so is relief….

(12) WILL YOU FAIL TO PROVE YOU’RE NOT A ROBOT? NPR agrees, “It’s not your imagination. CAPTCHA tests are getting harder”. Weekend Edition host Scott Simon interviews cybersecurity expert Amanda Fennell.

… SIMON: What are some of the hardest CAPTCHA tests out there that you’ve seen?

FENNELL: Well, I actually am one of those people who’s challenged by them. There’s a percentage of the human population, about 3%, actually, that have a literal issue whenever they see these kind of stimulant tests. And so, for me, personally, they’re horrible. And it doesn’t matter if I do the audio or the visual. I have a high probability of failing it.

SIMON: And you’re a cybersecurity expert.

FENNELL: I know. That’s what they say. Yeah. But there are some better alternatives to what they’ve been using for CAPTCHA, the version 1, 2, 3, ReCAPTCHA with Google. There are better ideas that are coming out in more recent years.

SIMON: And they are coming out, right? There are things on the horizon?

FENNELL: You may have seen some of them. My personal favorite is actually gamification. It’s, you know, some kind of an image that’ll say, can you plant a garden? And you have to move the images that make sense. Simple questions, you know, what’s one plus one? Things like that. Sliders, which all of us Apple users love to see when we see a slider across the screen. But a lot of things are actually happening behind the scenes. This is actually concerning. And I don’t want to get on a soapbox, but this…

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George checks out “What Facebook Is Like Now” – and it’s worse than any horror movie you can see in a theater, that’s for damn sure.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/21/24 Cotton Candy Pixels, What Flavor Is Your Favorite?

(1) COUNTERFEIT CHARACTERS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] We all now know that A.I. threatens creativity… something we seemed to have missed in SF where A/I. was oft portrayed more as a physical threat. BBC Radio 4 (the BBC’s national news and magazine station that replaced the Home Service) is airing a half-hour programme on A.I. replacing actors…. “Counterfeit Characters”.

What do Artificial Intelligence and digital technology mean for actors and their relationship with audiences?

Leading acting coach Geoffrey Colman, who has spent his working life on the sets of Hollywood movies, in theatrical rehearsal spaces, and teaching in the UK’s most prestigious classrooms, wants to find out.

AI, he says, may represent the most profound change to the acting business since the move from silent films to talkies. But does it, and if so how are actors dealing with it? What does that mean for the connection between actors and audiences?

Geoffrey’s concern is rooted in acting process: the idea that the construction of a complex inner thinking architecture resonates with audiences in an authentic almost magical way. But if performance capture and AI just creates the outer facial or physical expression, what happens to the inner joy or pain of a character’s thinking? The implications for the actor’s technique are profound.

To get to the bottom of these questions Geoffrey visits some of those at the cutting edge of developing this new technology. On the storied Pinewood lot he visits Imaginarium Studios, and is shown around their ‘volume’, where actors’ every movement is captured. In East London he talks to the head of another studio about his new AI actor – made up from different actors’ body parts. And at a leading acting school he speaks to students and teachers about what this new digital era means for them. He discusses concerns about ethical questions, hears from an actor fresh from the set of a major new movie, quizzes a tech expert already using AI to create avatars of herself, and speaks to Star Wars fans about how this technology has allowed beloved characters to be rejuvenated, and even resuscitated.

You can access the programme at this link.

(2) VOICEJACKING. Meanwhile, back in the litigious real world… “Scarlett Johansson Said No, but OpenAI’s Virtual Assistant Sounds Just Like Her” says the New York Times.

Days before OpenAI demonstrated its new, flirty voice assistant last week, the actress Scarlett Johansson said, Sam Altman, the company’s chief executive, called her agent and asked that she consider licensing her voice for a virtual assistant.

It was his second request to the actress in the past year, Ms. Johannson said in a statement on Monday, adding that the reply both times was no.

Despite those refusals, Ms. Johansson said, OpenAI used a voice that sounded “eerily similar to mine.” She has hired a lawyer and asked OpenAI to stop using a voice it called “Sky.”

OpenAI suspended its release of “Sky” over the weekend. The company said in a blog post on Sunday that “AI voices should not deliberately mimic a celebrity’s distinctive voice — Sky’s voice is not an imitation of Scarlett Johansson but belongs to a different professional actress using her own natural speaking voice.”

For Ms. Johansson, the episode has been a surreal case of life-imitating art. In 2013, she provided the voice for an A.I. system in the Spike Jonze movie “Her.” The film told the story of a lonely introvert seduced by a virtual assistant named Samantha, a tragic commentary on the potential pitfalls of technology as it becomes more realistic.

Last week, Mr. Altman appeared to nod to the similarity between OpenAI’s virtual assistant and the film in a post on X with the single word “her.”…

(3) WHISKY TASTING EVENT CONCURRENT WITH WORLDCON. [Item by Sandra Childress.] This is an invitation to those attending Worldcon this summer to venture outside of the convention space for a couple of hours and taste some local history and whisky at the Clydeside Distillery Tour & Tasting. This event is a venue takeover being hosted by Joel Phillips’ Friday Night Weekly Whisky Zoom that has been running nearly non-stop since April 2020. This group has hosted parties at Discon 3 and Chicon 8 — all in the name of friendship and whisky. 

The Clydeside Distillery

This time around, the group is doing something different. The Clydeside Distillery is across the parking lot from the convention center. Joel and the Zoom members knew this was not to be passed up. So, on August 9 (Friday) starting at 7:00 p.m. there will be a tour and tastings for up to 150 pre-paid attendees. The cost of $103USD includes the following:

  • 2 tickets for welcome drinks (1 of which can be used at the blind Scotch tasting station if you choose)
  • Welcome drinks are Prosecco, Beer or mixed whisky drink
  • 6 canapes per person
  • 4 wee drams of single malts (your choice) from Clydeside Distillery including a bourbon cask finish and sherry cask finish only available at the distillery and a third single malt yet to be determined.

Additionally, a cash bar will also be available and a station where you may buy a bottle for £68 and create your own personalized label.

Deadline to register and pay is Thursday July 25th or when the count hits 150. There will be no onsite registrations available. Please register via the Google Form (https://forms.gle/QnGmmhTN58Xe76un6) and follow the instructions there for payment. As of May 20, there are 62 registered…so there is still room for you and your friends to join the tour and tasting.

(4) INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE 2024. The non-genre novel Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated by Michael Hofmann, has been named the winner of the International Booker Prize 2024. The winner was announced by Eleanor Wachtel, Chair of the 2024 judges, at a ceremony sponsored by Maison Valentino and held at London’s Tate Modern today. 

The £50,000 prize is split equally between author Jenny Erpenbeck and translator Michael Hofmann, giving each equal recognition. 

Erpenbeck’s novel, which was originally written in German, follows a destructive affair between a young woman and an older man in 1980s East Berlin, with the two lovers seemingly embodying East Germany’s crushed idealism. A meditation on hope and disappointment, Kairos poses complex questions about freedom, loyalty, love and power. 

(5) SHE’S THE CAPTAIN. “’Star Trek: Starfleet Academy’ Series Casts Holly Hunter in Main Role”Variety has details about the actor and the series. If you wondered, this Hunter is no relation to the Hunter who played Star Trek’s first Captain.

The “Star Trek: Starfleet Academy” series at Paramount+ has cast Holly Hunter in a lead role, Variety has learned.

Hunter’s character will serve as the captain and chancellor of the Academy, presiding over both the faculty and a new class of Starfleet cadets as they learn to navigate the galaxy in the 32nd century….

(6) DON’T PANIC. Not that you were anyway… “’3 Body Problem’ Creators Clarify Netflix’s Mysterious Renewal Plan” for The Hollywood Reporter.

One of the biggest 3 Body Problem mysteries since the show ended has been: What did Netflix‘s renewal announcement mean, exactly?

During the streamer’s upfront presentation last week, Netflix promised “additional episodes” of the acclaimed sci-fi drama to “finish the story.”

Of course, “additional episodes” could mean anything from two episodes to five seasons and, naturally, many fans worried that the ultimate answer would be too close to the former for comfort.

But showrunners David Benioff, Dan Weiss and Alexander Woo assure things are going to be just fine (for the show, at least, if not for their ensemble drama’s characters facing an alien invasion). While the trio didn’t reveal the exact number of episodes in their new deal, they emphasized it was for “seasons” — plural — and that the number of hours aligns with their original plan to adapt author Liu Cixin’s two remaining novels in his Hugo-winning trilogy.

“We knew going into this how many hours we need to tell the rest of the story because we’ve got a roadmap through to the end,” Weiss told The Hollywood Reporter. “And we have what we need to get to the end as intended from when we started.”

“By the time we finish with the show, it will be seven years we’ve devoted to it,” Benioff added. “We’re now at a place where we get to tell the rest of the story, and, yes, we have enough time to tell the rest of the story the way we want to and that’s immensely gratifying.”…

(7) LECKIE Q&A. The Mountain View (CA) Public Library hosted an online event with author Ann Leckie as part of Sci-Fi September last year.

Critically acclaimed science fiction author Ann Leckie joined us for an exclusive conversation about her new novel Translation State and answered questions from the audience.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born May 21, 1917 Raymond Burr. (Died 1993.) Surely you know Raymond Burr, the man whose Birthday it is today. So let’s get started.

I must of course start with his long running role as Perry Mason which is decidedly not genre. CBS paid Gardener for the rights to two hundred and seventy-two of his stories, a good idea given that Perry Mason would run nine seasons. Many early episodes were based off his stories and novels.  

The role of Perry Mason proved the hardest to cast. Richard Carlson, Mike Connors, Richard Egan, and William Holden were considered. None at all suited the casting team. Burr initially read for the role of district attorney Hamilton Burger, but he told them that he was more interested in the Perry Mason role. They had seen him being a lawyer, and said he could play the role provided he lose at least sixty pounds. He did and got the role.

Raymond Burr, right, Frank Iwanaga, left, in Godzilla, King of the Monsters

What a magnificent Perry Mason he made. Burr’s coolness, control and reserved sense of humor were such that he became so identified with the character that, for the television audience, that meant there was no other Mason but Burr. He was not the Mason that had existed, there were four before him, all on film, and the producers tried reviving the series after CBS cancelled it, but it utterly failed. And HBO has a new series that looks at early years of his life. 

In the late Eighties he reprised his Mason role in twenty-six tv movies. The first has the title of Perry Mason Returns.

Now for his genre work.  Mike joked with me when I said when I was doing him that he was the lawyer for Godzilla. Well, he was Steven Martin in Godzilla, King of the Monsters! It is a re-edited for American audiences of the 1954 Japanese film Godzilla which in its original wasn’t available outside Japan for fifty years. He would reprise this role in Godzilla 1985.

He was the Grand Vizier Boreg al Buzzar in The Magic Carpet. Evil viziers! Dungeons! Magic carpets! Princesses! 

He’s Cy Mill, hulking villain in Gorilla at Large. Remember what was said about his weight in his Burr casting. Well, this film was done just previous to this series and he was quoted as saying there, “I was just a fat heavy.” Burr told journalist James Bawden, “I split the heavy parts with Bill Conrad. We were both in our twenties playing much older men. I never got the girl but I once got the gorilla in a 3-D picture called Gorilla at Large.”

He was Vargo in Tarzan and the She-Devil , the seventeenth film of the Tarzan film series that began with 1932’s Tarzan the Ape Man, twenty years earlier.

Television wise, he appeared on Tales on Tomorrow in “The Masks of Medusa” and in the horror film Curse of King Tut’s Tomb, he’s Jonash Sebastian. I thought there’d be more but there aren’t. 

(9) ARMED SURVIVOR. In “Rocket Man No More”, Heritage Auctions introduces one of the headline lots from the May 31 Star Wars Signature Auction: “Star Wars Prototype Rocket-Firing Boba Fett L-Slot / Hand-Painted”.

Star Wars Prototype Rocket-Firing Boba Fett L-Slot / Hand-Painted AFA 60 (Kenner, 1979). The Rocket Firing Boba Fett has been called the “Crown Jewel of Unproduced Toys” It’s become legendary as an iconic Star Wars “Mandela Effect,” (far better termed “Rocket Fett Syndrome.”) The figure everyone thought they had, but didn’t. Offered as a mail-away premium, the Rocket Firing Boba Fett was highly promoted by Kenner, lodging it in everyone’s imaginations. For four proof-of-purchase seals cut from any Star Wars 3 ¾” action figure card back it could be yours. It seemed a cruel trick, when the Boba Fett figures that shipped, arrived with their plastic missiles sonically welded in place. It was a clear letdown. Helping along this disappointment was a small polite letter explaining Kenner’s safety concerns over the toy necessitating the change. It offered in substitution any Star Wars 3 ¾” action figure of choice if the consumer wasn’t satisfied with the redesign. Looking back, the removal of the rocket launching mechanism should have been no surprise. Almost immediately anything to do with it was being mysteriously obscured by stickers ignoring the feature. Kenner’s legal department already had concerns over the toy’s safety, but the company’s outgoing President Bernie Loomis was highly in favor of the project. As Kenner engineer’s struggled to make the toy safe, another ominous event was happening in the toy world. Rival toy company Mattel was experiencing their own problems with their popular Battlestar Galactica toy spaceships, which fired a similar sized projectile. If accidentally shot into the mouth, the choking potential for children was becoming clear. Already, there were several aspiration induced injuries, and one child’s death. The culmination of these two events ultimately doomed the Rocket Firing Boba Fett. Painfully most would agree Kenner made the right decision, erroring on the side of safety. It’s uncertain exactly how many Rocket Firing Boba Fetts were created before Kenner abandoned the concept for a safer non-firing figure. What survives today in the hobby generally comes from ex-Kenner employees who took examples home. All others are believed destroyed with none (despite urban legends) ever getting distributed to the public. Surviving populations featuring the original reverse “L-slot” latch configuration number about seventy. Mostly injection molded in blue-gray, these “first-shot” figures are generally unpainted and were created to test the mold cavity functions before general production. As such these unpainted “first-shots” lack all copyright and point of origin stamps to the back of the legs. Of the seventy examples believed in collector’s hands today, only five have been found hand painted – two in production paint scheme as this example, and three in unique alternate paint schemes. One of only two examples known to exist…

(10) DOCTOR MEWLITTLE. An SJW credential with credentials! “Meet Max, the cat receiving an (honorary) doctorate from Vermont State University this weekend”Vermont Public has the story.

As Vermont State University Castleton graduates receive their degrees this weekend, so too will a tabby cat. The cat, named Max, is getting an honorary degree as a “Doctor in Litter-ature.”

Once a feral kitten in the town of Fair Haven, Max has lived with his human mom, Ashley Dow, on Seminary Street in Castleton for the past five years. And for most of those years, he’s been venturing up to the university campus….

(11) ANOTHER SPACE CAT. Captain Kirk also picked up an honorary sheepskin on May 20. Forbes reports, “William Shatner Among Geniuses Honored At Liberty Science Center Gala, Underscoring Intrinsic Bond Of Art And Science”.

William Shatner beamed up into the Liberty Science Center (LSC) last night to accept the 2024 Icon Award at the sold-out 12th Annual Liberty Science Center Genius Gala.

“On October 13, 2021, William Shatner, age 90, boldly went where no one else had gone before: into space,” said LSC President and CEO Paul Hoffman. “At 93, Will remains incredibly active.”

Shatner was filming in Los Angeles, so Hoffman interviewed him in his Studio City office.

“I saw a great deal that made me cry, and I didn’t know why I was crying, literally crying. I was weeping uncontrollably when I landed,” said Shatner. “I realized, oh my God, I’m in grief! For what I’ve seen of the world, you look at your telescopes, it’s fantastic, it’s magical. Space is magical. I’m looking at space from the spaceship and all it is is palpable blackness, it’s black death. I look back and I see blue, beige, and white. The planet is calling to us. You can’t believe how small this rock we’re living on is. You can’t believe how thin the fertile earth is. … That’s how precious our topsoil is. And then there’s the air. I’m a pilot. I know you can’t go above 3,500 feet for oxygen. Two miles of oxygen, a handful of dirt that we’re going to live on, and live on with increasing numbers. We now know everything is connected, interconnected. Everything is part of each other. All of nature is alive and vibrant with intelligence and life.”…

(12) SPACEPLANE MISSION TO ISS. “World’s first commercial spaceplane in final stages before debut ISS flight” reports New Atlas.

The world’s first winged commercial spaceplane has arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, its final destination before its first mission to the International Space Station (ISS) later this year.

Following rigorous testing at Ohio’s Neil Armstrong Test Facility, the Dream Chaser DC-100 spaceplane named Tenacity got the green light to commence final pre-launch preparations, such as finishing its thermal protection system and payload integration, before it hitches a ride on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan rocket to deliver 7,800 pounds (3,540 kg) of food, water and science experiments to the ISS….

(13) MILKY WAY. [Item by Steven French.] A collection of absolutely stunning photographs: “Milky Way photographer of the year 2024 – in pictures” in the Guardian. Photo at the link —

The vanity of life | Wadi Rum desert, Jordan

Photographer Mihail Minkov: ‘The concept behind this shot is to highlight the stark contrast between the vastness of the cosmos and the minuscule nature of humanity. The composition intentionally draws the viewer’s focus to a small figure, underscoring our insignificance in the grand scheme of the universe, while the majestic Milky Way core dominates the background’

Photograph: Mihail Minkov/2024 Milky Way photographer of the year

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Heritage Auctions has an interview with Former Kenner Engineer Jacob Miles about the Boba Fett – Star Wars action figure pulled from production.

[Thanks to Steven French, Teddy Harvia, Kathy Sullivan, Sandra Childress, Daniel Dern, Heath Row, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Glasgow 2024 Hugo Voter Packet Available

Glasgow 2024 notified members today that the Hugo Voter Packet is available to download through the Hugo Awards page.

The packet impressively contains complete works for five out of six Best Novels, and all six Best Novella, Best Novelette, and Best Short Story finalists. There also are many complete books and stories provided by the Best Series, Best Editor Long and Short Form, Best Semiprozine, and Best Graphic Story finalists.

The Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form has available MP4’s for two complete movies.

Many fan finalists are also represented by complete works.

There were no materials provided by the finalists for the Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form category. Rosemary Parks of the Hugo Help Desk commented, “We are grateful to the rights holders who generously donate works for the Hugo Voters Packet.  The contents of the Hugo Voter Packet are made available to the voters through the kindness of the creators and their publishers. We urge all of our members to be grateful for the material provided and understanding of any finalist who has chosen not to participate.  We received no materials for the Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form category.”

Online voting for the 2024 Hugo Awards, the Lodestar Award for best Young Adult Book, and the Astounding Award for Best New Writer is already open. All ballots must be received by July 20 at 20:17 p.m. GMT instead of the more standard 11:59, because that’s 55 years to the minute of the moon landing.

A highly convenient index PDF for each category shows the works and formats available. The following checklist is based on the committee’s indexes.

If a finalist has no material in the packet, they are lined through in the list below.

2024 HUGO VOTER PACKET CONTENTS

Best Novel

  • The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty (Harper Voyager, Harper Voyager UK) — ePub, PDF
  • The Saint of Bright Doors by Vajra Chandrasekera (Tordotcom) — ePub, PDF
  • Some Desperate Glory by Emily Tesh (Tordotcom, Orbit UK) — ePub, PDF
  • Starter Villain by John Scalzi (Tor, Tor UK) — ePub, PDF
  • Translation State by Ann Leckie (Orbit US, Orbit UK) — — PDF Excerpt
  • Witch King by Martha Wells (Tordotcom) — ePub, PDF

Best Novella

  • “Life Does Not Allow Us to Meet”, He Xi / 人生不相见, 何夕, translated by Alex Woodend (Adventures in Space: New Short stories by Chinese & English Science Fiction Writers) — ePub, PDF
  • Mammoths at the Gates by Nghi Vo (Tordotcom) — ePub, PDF
  • The Mimicking of Known Successes by Malka Older (Tordotcom) — ePub, PDF
  • Rose/House by Arkady Martine (Subterranean) — ePub, PDF
  • “Seeds of Mercury”, Wang Jinkang / 水星播种, 王晋康, translated by Alex Woodend (Adventures in Space: New Short stories by Chinese & English Science Fiction Writers) — ePub, PDF
  • Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher (Tor, Titan UK)  — ePub, PDF

Best Novelette  

  • I AM AI by Ai Jiang (Shortwave) — ePub, PDF Chinese and English versions.
  • “Introduction to 2181 Overture, Second Edition”, Gu Shi /〈2181序曲〉再版导言, 顾适 translated by Emily Jin (Clarkesworld, February 2023) — ePub, PDF Chinese and English versions.
  • “Ivy, Angelica, Bay” by C.L. Polk (Tor.com 8 December 2023) —ePub, PDF
  • “On the Fox Roads” by Nghi Vo (Tor.com 31 October 2023) — ePub, PDF
  • “One Man’s Treasure” by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny Magazine, JanuaryFebruary 2023) — ePub, PDF, Mobi, JPG Includes cover image.
  • “The Year Without Sunshine” by Naomi Kritzer (Uncanny Magazine, November-December 2023)  — ePub, PDF, Mobi, JPG Includes cover image.

Best Short Story

  • “Answerless Journey”, Han Song / 没有答案的航程, 韩松, translated by Alex Woodend (Adventures in Space: New Short stories by Chinese & English Science Fiction Writers) — PDF
  • “Better Living Through Algorithms” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld May 2023) – ePub, PDF
  • “How to Raise a Kraken in Your Bathtub” by P. Djèlí Clark (Uncanny Magazine, January-February 2023) — ePub, PDF, Mobi, JPG Includes cover image.
  • “The Mausoleum’s Children” by Aliette de Bodard (Uncanny Magazine, May-June 2023) — ePub, PDF, Mobi, JPG Includes cover image.
  • “The Sound of Children Screaming” by Rachael K. Jones (Nightmare Magazine, October 2023) — ePub, PDF Full issue of Nightmare magazine.
  • 美食三品 (“Tasting the Future Delicacy Three Times”), 宝树 / Baoshu (银河边缘013:黑域密室 / Galaxy’s Edge Vol. 13: Secret Room in the Black Domain) — ePub, PDF Chinese and English versions

Best Series  

  • The Final Architecture by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tordotcom, Orbit UK) — ePub, PDF Excerpt from Shards of Earth.
  • Imperial Radch by Ann Leckie (Orbit US, Orbit UK) — PDF Excerpt from Translation State.
  • The Last Binding by Freya Marske (Tordotcom, Tor UK) — ePub, PDF All three books in the trilogy: A Marvellous Light, A Restless Truth, and A Power Unbound.
  • The Laundry Files by Charles Stross (Tordotcom, Orbit UK) — ePub, PDF Excerpts from The Atrocity Archives and Dead Lies Dreaming, and complete book of Three Tales from the Laundry Files.
  • October Daye by Seanan McGuire (DAW) — PDF NetGalley* links for all of the books in the series.
  • The Universe of Xuya by Aliette de Bodard (Gollancz; JABberwocky Literary Agency; Subterranean Press; Uncanny Magazine; et al.) — PDF, JPG Excerpts and cover images from A Fire Born of Exile and The Red Scholar’s Wake 

Best Graphic Story or Comic  

  • Bea Wolf, written by Zach Weinersmith, art by Boulet (First Second) — PDF Excerpt.
  • Saga, Vol. 11 written by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Fiona Staples (Image Comics) — PDF Volume 11, collecting issues 61–66.
  • Shubeik Lubeik, Deena Mohamed (Pantheon); as Your Wish Is My Command (Granta) — PDF Start reading at the bottommost or rightmost page. If you see the table of contents, you’re at the start of the book; if you see “About the Author,” you’re at the end of the book.
  • 三体漫画:第一部/ The Three Body Problem, Part One, adapted from the novels by 刘慈欣 (Liu Cixin), written by 蔡劲 (Cai Jin),戈闻頔 (Ge Wendi), and 薄暮 (Bo Mu), art by 草祭九日东 (Caojijiuridong) (Zhejiang Literature and Art Publishing House)  —ePub, PDF Part One.
  • The Witches of World War II written by Paul Cornell, art by Valeria Burzo (TKO Studios LLC) — PDF Collecting issues 1–6.
  • Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, art by Phil Jimenez, Gene Ha and Nicola Scott (DC Comics) — PDF Collecting issues 1–3

Best Related Work  

  • All These Worlds: Reviews & Essays by Niall Harrison (Briardene Books) — ePub, PDF
  • 中国科幻口述史, 第二卷, 第三卷,(Chinese Science Fiction: An Oral History, vols 2 and 3) ed. 杨枫 / Yang Feng (8-Light Minutes Culture & Chengdu Time Press) —ePub, PDF Two volumes, in Chinese.
  • A City on Mars by Kelly Weinersmith and Zach Weinersmith (Penguin Press; Particular Books) — PDF
  • The Culture: The Drawings, by Iain M. Banks (Orbit)
  • 雨果X访谈 (Discover X), presented by 王雅婷 (Tina Wong) – PDF; Introductory PDF in Chinese and English, with links to videos on bilibili and YouTube.
  • A Traveller in Time: The Critical Practice of Maureen Kincaid Speller, by Maureen Kincaid Speller, edited by Nina Allan (Luna Press Publishing) — ePub, PDF Excerpt

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form  

  • Barbie, screenplay by Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, directed by Greta Gerwig (Warner Bros. Studios)
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, screenplay by John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein and Michael Gilio, directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (Paramount Pictures) — MP4, VTT, SRT Complete movie, along with separate subtitle files in two file formats.
  • Nimona, screenplay by Robert L. Baird and Lloyd Taylor, directed by Nick Bruno and Troy Quane (Annapurna Animations) 
  • Poor Things, screenplay by Tony McNamara, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (Element Pictures)
  • Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, screenplay by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Dave Callaham, directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson (Columbia Pictures / Marvel Entertainment / Avi Arad Productions / Lord Miller / Pascal Pictures / Sony Pictures Animation) — MP4, PDF, JPG Script, trailer, and promotional still images.
  • 流浪地球2 / The Wandering Earth II, based on the novel by 刘慈欣 Liu Cixin, screenplay by 杨治学 Yang Zhixue, 郭帆 / Frant Gwo, 龚格尔 Gong Geer, and 叶濡畅 Ye Ruchang, script consultant 王红卫 Wang Hongwei, directed by 郭帆 / Frant Gwo (中影创意(北京)电影有限公司 / CFC Pictures Ltd, 郭帆(北京)影业有限公司 / G!Film (Beijing) Studio Co. Ltd, 北京登峰国际文化传播有限公司 / Beijing Dengfeng International Culture Communication Co, Ltd, 中国电影股份有限公司 / China Film Co. Ltd) MP4 Complete movie, with subtitles burned in

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • Doctor Who: “The Giggle”, written by Russell T. Davies, directed by Chanya Button (Bad Wolf with BBC Studios for The BBC and Disney Branded Television)
  • Loki: “Glorious Purpose”, screenplay by Eric Martin, Michael Waldron and Katharyn Blair, directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (Marvel / Disney+)
  • The Last of Us: “Long, Long Time”, written by Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann, directed by Peter Hoar (Naughty Dog / Sony Pictures)
  • Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “Those Old Scientists”, written by Kathryn Lyn and Bill Wolkoff, directed by Jonathan Frakes (CBS / Paramount+)
  • Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “Subspace Rhapsody”, written by Dana Horgan and Bill Wolkoff, directed by Dermott Downs (CBS / Paramount+)
  • Doctor Who: “Wild Blue Yonder”, written by Russell T. Davies, directed by Tom Kingsley (Bad Wolf with BBC Studios for The BBC and Disney Branded Television)

Best Game or Interactive Work

  • Alan Wake 2, developed by Remedy Entertainment, published by Epic Games — PDF Information about the game, links to other game materials, and information on how to request an evaluation code to play the game.
  • Baldur’s Gate 3, produced by Larian Studios —PDF, PNG Promotional still images, information about the game, links to videos, and information on how to request an evaluation code to play the game.
  • Chants of Sennaar, developed by Rundisc, published by Focus Entertainment —PDF Information about the game, links to other game materials, and information on how to request an evaluation code to play the game.
  • DREDGE, developed by Black Salt Games, published by Team17 — PDF, JPG, PNG Promotional still images, information about the game, links to other game materials, and information on how to request a Windows Steam key to play the game.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, produced by Nintendo
  • Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, developed by Respawn Entertainment, published by Electronic Arts — PDF, JPG, PNG Promotional still images, information about the game, and links to other game materials

Best Editor Short Form

  • Scott H. Andrews — ePub, PDF Editorial philosophy and Beneath Ceaseless Skies issue 392.
  • Neil Clarke — ePub, PDF Editorial philosophy and multiple edited stories.
  • 刘维佳 (Liu Weijia) — ePub*, PDF Editorial philosophy in Chinese and English, and The Best of Chinese Metropolis Science Fiction: The Annual Rings of the Earth in Chinese.
  • Jonathan Strahan — PDF List of works edited in 2023, with links
  • Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas — ePub, PDF, Mobi, JPG Uncanny issues 50–55, and a compilation of highlights from the magazine
  • 杨枫 (Yang Feng) — ePub*, PDF Editorial philosophy in Chinese and English, and Galaxy’s Edge issues 013–016 in Chinese.

Best Editor Long Form

  • Ruoxi Chen — ePub, PDF Includes multiple edited books.
  • Lindsey Hall — PDF
  • Lee Harris — PDF
  • Kelly Lonesome — ePub, PDF Includes multiple edited books.
  • David Thomas Moore — ePub, PDF Includes samples of multiple edited books.
  • 姚海军 (Yao Haijun) — PDF Includes samples of multiple edited books, in Chinese

Best Professional Artist

  • Micaela Alcaino — PDF, JPG
  • Rovina Cai — PDF
  • Galen Dara — PDF, JPG
  • Dan Dos Santos — JPG
  • Tristan Elwell — JPG
  • Alyssa Winans — PDF, JPG

Best Semiprozine

  • Escape Pod, editors Mur Lafferty and Valerie Valdes; assistant editors Benjamin C. Kinney, Premee Mohamed and Kevin Wabaunsee; hosts Tina Connolly and Alasdair Stuart; producers Summer Brooks and Adam Pracht; and the entire Escape Pod team — MP3, ePub, PDF Audio and text versions of multiple episodes.
  • FIYAH Literary Magazine, publisher and executive editor DaVaun Sanders, poetry editor B. Sharise Moore, special projects manager L. D. Lewis, art director Christian Ivey, acquiring editors Rebecca McGee, Kerine Wint, Joshua Morley, Emmalia Harrington, Genine Tyson, Tonya R. Moore, sponsor coordinator Nelson Rolon — PDF Multiple issues of the magazine.
  • GigaNotoSaurus, editor LaShawn M. Wanak, associate editors Mia Tsai and Edgard Wentz, along with the GNS Slushreaders Team — ePub, PDF Multiple stories that appeared in the magazine.
  • khōréō, produced by Aleksandra Hill, Zhui Ning Chang, Kanika Agrawal, Isabella Kestermann, Rowan Morrison, Sachiko Ragosta, Lian Xia Rose, Jenelle DeCosta, Melissa Ren, Elaine Ho, Lilivette Domínguez, Jei D. Marcade, Jeané Ridges, Isaree Thatchaichawalit, Danai Christopoulou, M. L. Krishnan, Ysabella Maglanque, Aaron Voigt, Adil Mian, Alexandra Millatmal, E. Broderick, K. S. Walker, Katarzyna Nowacka, Katie McIvor, Kelsea Yu, Marie Croke, Osahon Ize-Iyamu, Phoebe Low, S. R. Westvik, Sara S. Messenger — ePub, PDF Multiple issues of the magazine
  • Strange Horizons, by the Strange Horizons Editorial Collective — ePub, PDF Multiple works that appeared in the magazine.
  • Uncanny Magazine, publishers and editors-in-chief: Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas; managing editor Monte Lin; nonfiction editor Meg Elison; podcast producers Erika Ensign and Steven Schapansky. — ePub, PDF, Mobi, JPG Multiple works that appeared in the magazine, as well as links to the podcast.

Best Fanzine

  • Black Nerd Problems, editors Omar Holmon and William Evans — PDF Multiple articles.
  • The Full Lid, written by Alasdair Stuart and edited by Marguerite Kenner — PDF Introduction and multiple issues.
  • Idea, editor Geri Sullivan — PDF Introduction and issue 13.
  • Journey Planet, edited by Michael Carroll, Vincent Docherty, Sara Felix, Ann Gry, Sarah Gulde, Allison Hartman Adams, Arthur Liu, Jean Martin, Helena Nash, Pádraig Ó Méalóid, Yen Ooi, Chuck Serface, Alan Stewart, Regina Kanyu Wang, James Bacon and Christopher J. Garcia — PDF Issues 70–78.
  • Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together, editors Roseanna Pendlebury, Arturo Serrano, Paul Weimer; senior editors Joe Sherry, Adri Joy, G. Brown, Vance Kotrla. — ePub, PDF Multiple articles.
  • Unofficial Hugo Book Club Blog, editors Olav Rokne and Amanda Wakaruk  — PDF Multiple articles.

Best Fancast  

  • The Coode Street Podcast, presented by Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe — MP3, PDF Introduction and multiple audio episodes
  • Hugos There, presented by Seth Heasley — MP3, PDF, text Introduction and multiple audio episodes, with transcripts.
  • Octothorpe, by John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty —MP3, PDF, SRT, text Introduction and multiple audio episodes, with transcripts.
  • Publishing Rodeo, presented by Sunyi Dean and Scott Drakeford — MP3, PDF Introduction with links, and a compilation of excerpts from multiple audio episodes, with transcripts.
  • 科幻Fans布玛 (Science Fiction Fans Buma), production team 布玛(Buma),刘路(Liu Lu),刘倡(Liu Chang) —MP4, PDF Introduction in Chinese and English, a video in Chinese with subtitles in Chinese and English, a video in Chinese with subtitles in Chinese, and a link to a video playlist.
  • Worldbuilding for Masochists, presented by Marshall Ryan Maresca, Rowenna Miller, Cass Morris and Natania Barron — MP3, PDF Introduction and multiple audio episodes, with transcripts.

Best Fan Writer

  • Bitter Karella — ePub, PDF Introduction and multiple works.
  • James Davis Nicoll — PDF Introduction and links to multiple reviews.
  • Jason Sanford — ePub, PDF Introduction and multiple articles.
  • Alasdair Stuart — PDF Introduction and multiple articles.
  • Paul Weimer — ePub, PDF, Mobi Introduction and multiple articles.
  • Örjan Westin — ePub, PDF Introduction and multiple works.

Best Fan Artist

  • Iain J. Clark – PDF, JPG
  • Sara Felix – PDF, PNG
  • Dante Luiz — JPG
  • Laya Rose — PDF
  • Alison Scott — PDF, JPG, PNG
  • España Sheriff — PDF

Lodestar Award for Best YA Book

  • Abeni’s Song by P. Djèlí Clark (Starscape) — ePub, PDF
  • Liberty’s Daughter by Naomi Kritzer (Fairwood Press) — ePub, PDF
  • Promises Stronger than Darkness by Charlie Jane Anders (Tor Teen) — ePub, PDF All three books in the trilogy: Victories Greater Than Death, Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak, and Promises Stronger Than Darkness.
  • The Sinister Booksellers of Bath by Garth Nix (Katherine Tegen Books, Gollancz and Allen & Unwin) — PDF Excerpt
  • To Shape a Dragon’s Breath by Moniquill Blackgoose (Del Rey) — PDF Excerpt of the book, plus a NetGalley* link to request the whole book.
  • Unraveller by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Children’s Books; eligible due to 2023 U.S. publication by Amulet) — PDF

Astounding Award for Best New Writer (sponsored by Dell Magazines)

  • Moniquill Blackgoose (1st year of eligibility) — PDF Excerpt of To Shape a Dragon’s Breath, plus a NetGalley**** link to request the whole book
  • Sunyi Dean (2nd year of eligibility) — ePub, PDF The Book Eaters.
  • Ai Jiang (2nd year of eligibility) ePub, PDF “Give Me English” and “I AM AI” in Chinese and English.
  • Hannah Kaner (1st year of eligibility) ePub, PDF Godkiller
  • Em X. Liu (1st year of eligibility) ePub, PDF The Death I Gave Him and If Found, Return to Hell
  • Xiran Jay Zhao (eligibility extended at request of Dell Magazines) ePub, PDF Iron Widow

Pixel Scroll 4/20/24 Was Cheops A Very Large Cat? Only The Builders Know

(1) UKRANIAN WOMEN IN SF. Michael Burianyk’s English-language roundtable interview with Ukrainian Science Fiction and Fantasy writers Daria Piskozub, Svitlana Taratorina, Iryna Hrabovska, Natalia Matolinets and Nataliya Dovhopol has just been published in the British Science Fiction Association blog, Vector: “Ukrainian Women in SF: A Roundtable Conversation”. The wide-ranging discussion, on Ukrainian Science Fiction and Fantasy, literature and culture, language and translation, women’s writing, is insightful and often touching and even harrowing at times.

There is a strong trend of more Ukrainian SFF being published. Why did you think this was happening?

Nataliya It’s mainly about escapism. After spending the night in a bomb shelter and doom scrolling all day, one needs something less traumatic. Yet, SFF can also help to cope with feelings, to project one’s own experiences on those in the stories. Then the ban on book imports from Russia and a growing interest in Ukrainian culture has created more of a demand for domestic literature….

(2) HORROR UNIVERSITY OPEN FOR ENROLLMENT. StokerCon has announced the 2024 Horror University Online workshop schedule. From May 30 to June 1, they will present nine live, in-person workshops at StokerCon 2024 in San Diego, CA. See items at the link.

HORROR UNIVERSITY is designed for horror writers interested in refining their writing, learning new skills and techniques, exploring new writing formats, or better understanding the genre. These workshops are taught by some of the most experienced voices in horror. Full descriptions and registration information for our STOKERCON 2024 Workshop Schedule is available in the Horror University School on Teachable: https://horror-university.teachable.com/courses/category/stokercon-2024.

REGISTRATION IS OPEN NOW!

Registration for each workshop is $65 for non-HWA-members. HWA members receive a 15% discount on individual courses or a 20% discount on registration for five or more courses. Log into the Members Only area of www.horror.org and check the discounts page for codes. General registration for StokerCon does not include Horror University programming; additional registration is required so that the Con is able to compensate each instructor for their workshop and support the cost of the program.

(3) FIVE FOR YOUR MT TBR. Lisa Tuttle’s roundup of “The best recent science fiction, fantasy and horror” for the Guardian reviews Calypso by Oliver K. Langmead; Someone You Can Build a Nest In by John Wiswell; The Familiar by Leigh Bardugo; The Underhistory by Kaaron Warren; and The Universe Delivers the Enemy You Need by Adam Marek.

(4) GAY FURRY HACKERS. Them reports“Gay Furry Hacker Group SiegedSec Breached Far-Right Media Outlet Real America’s Voice”.

The gay furry hacker group SiegedSec has done it once again, this time claiming responsibility for leaking the data from a far-right media outlet.

In a Monday post to its Telegram channel, the group announced that it had hacked the app for Real America’s Voice, a right-wing media outlet founded in 2020 that regularly features far-right activists like Steve Bannon and Charlie Kirk. The outlet also frequently platforms conspiracy theories and transphobic rhetoric.

As part of SiegedSec’s ongoing hacktivism campaign OpTransRights, the group said they released the personal information of over 1,200 users on the app, including their full names, phone numbers, and email addresses. The group also said they “went poof on their files,” wiping user data from the app’s API and its cloud storage.

“[T]hroughout our attacks on transphobic entities, we have received concerns that our attacks will be used to label the LGBTQ+ community as ‘terrorists’ and ‘criminals,’” the group wrote in a Telegram message. “[T]he thing is, these types of people will blame the LGBTQ+ community regardless of what we do. they will look for a reason to hate, they won’t listen to reason, they want to spread lies to shun people different than them.”…

(5) COPYRIGHT’S WOBBLY LEGAL LINE. “Author granted copyright over book with AI-generated text—with a twist” reports Ars Technica.

…The novel draws from Shupe’s eventful life, including her advocacy for more inclusive gender recognition. Its registration provides a glimpse of how the [Copyright Office] is grappling with artificial intelligence, especially as more people incorporate AI tools into creative work. It is among the first creative works to receive a copyright for the arrangement [emphasis added] of AI-generated text.

“We’re seeing the Copyright Office struggling with where to draw the line,” intellectual property lawyer Erica Van Loon, a partner at Nixon Peabody, says. Shupe’s case highlights some of the nuances of that struggle—because the approval of her registration comes with a significant caveat.

The USCO’s notice granting Shupe copyright registration of her book does not recognize her as author of the whole text [emphasis added] as is conventional for written works. Instead she is considered the author of the “selection, coordination, and arrangement of text generated by artificial intelligence.” This means no one can copy the book without permission, but the actual sentences and paragraphs themselves are not copyrighted and could theoretically be rearranged and republished as a different book. [emphasis added]

(6) GLASGOW 2024 NEWS. The Glasgow 2024 Worldcon “In Memoriam” list is being constantly updated by Steven H Silver. They ask of you know of someone you believe should be included, please let us know.

(7) DUNE MUSICAL AT WORLDCON. Glasgow 2024 also invites members to “Prepare for a unique twist on Frank Herbert’s masterpiece with Dune! The Musical. Solo artist Dan Collins will take you on a whimsical one-hour journey across Arrakis with humour and song.” There will be a performance at the Worldcon.

A memoir in song by the Earl of Caladan, trusted adviser to the Padisha Emperor and beloved troubadour-warrior, the bard Gurney Halleck.

Following the success of his work on “A Child’s History of Muad’Dib” Gurney will perform hits from his back catalogue and introduce never-before-heard songs from his time among the Fremen.

Sing along with little Paul Atreides on his journey to Sietch Tabr; can he tame the worm, save the world and get the girl?

Forget everything you know about Arrakis and get ready for Dune! The Musical…

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Paul Weimer.]

Born April 20, 1939 Peter S. Beagle, 85. [By Paul Weimer.] It’s Rankin and Bass’ fault that I got into the work of Peter S. Beagle.  As a voracious young reader, I saw The Last Unicorn in the library and somehow, even given my small “c” catholic tastes in SFF, saw that it was somehow not going to be for me. So I didn’t pick it up. I passed it by.

Fast forward to the mid-1980’s. NYC’s Channel 11, an independent TV station, aka “New York’s movie station”, introduced me to a gigantic swelter of movies.  

One of them, by accident, was the 1982 animated version of The Last Unicorn. I remember not remembering at the time or realizing at the time that it was based on the Beagle novel, but after I was transported and transformed by the adaptation, I went and sought out the original novel.  As fine and charming as the movie is, the novel truly gave me a sense of the power and lyric nature of Beagle’s work.

I was hooked.

Peter S. Beagle

I came across my favorite Beagle, The Innkeeper’s Song, in the mid 90’s. I was in a strong fantasy vein at the time and was interested in a variety of narrative forms. The Innkeeper’s Song, with its multiple first-person narration, was a revelation in escaping the usual multiple third-person points of view that were the norm at the time. Even today, Innkeeper’s Song feels fresh and unique in its approach to narrative, point of view, and literary interest. Even before Gene Wolfe, I think Beagle’s fantasy was my first real immersion into what one might call literary fantasy.

But even more than literary talent or line by line skill, what Beagle’s work does to me, from the Last Unicorn to today, is make me feel. I think his shorter fiction is where the distillation of his skill, craft, mood and the ability to evoke emotion is at its best in the short form.  “Two Hearts”, a sequel to The Last Unicorn, is a particular favorite, because Griffins. His TNG written episode “Sarek” is one of the most moving pieces of Star Trek to this day. And yes, to this day, The Last Unicorn, the movie, brings tears to my eyes.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) CLOSING WORDS. GiantFreakinRobot discusses “The Last Essay Ray Bradbury Wrote Before He Died”.

…At points, he describes how his librarian would get upset with him because he’d check out so many books when she didn’t think he’d read them all. But he did, he read every word he could get his hands on. As Bradbury explains, books “are the building blocks, the DNA, if you will, of you.”

Reading fed Ray Bradbury’s appetite for knowledge and his curiosity, which led to his understanding of writing and imagination. He expressed his love for books throughout his work, including, famously, in his 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451, which describes a future world where books and reading is against the law.

Having his last essay be about the art of reading in general is more than a little fitting for Ray Bradbury. It acts as something of a career summation, an explanation for why literature and the act of reading are just so very important for us as humans. There really is no better sendoff for the writer, an inspiration for all us.

(11) BLUEY. Chris Barkley assures me sff fans will want to know this news: “’Bluey’ Drops Surprise New Episode on Disney” at The Hollywood Reporter. I’m guessing Chris knows this show exists because he has kids in his life. When my daughter was young I knew about Blue’s Clues and Mister Rogers Neighborhood in detail. Now kids’ TV is an undiscovered country for me.

… The new episode comes a week after “The Sign,” a special, 28-minute installment of the beloved kids’ show debuted (most Bluey episodes run under 10 minutes). The special drew waves of critical praise for its emotional storyline centering on the Heeler family possibly selling their home and moving to another city where dad Bandit would take a new job, as well as a wedding between the Heelers’ Uncle Rad and Frisky.

Coupled with the preceding episode, “Ghostbasket,” the special spawned widespread speculation that Bluey was ending. While the long-term future of the show, originally commissioned by Australia’s ABC and the BBC in the U.K. hasn’t been decided — “the BBC has asked for me never to talk about the kids’ voices or the future of Bluey,” creator Joe Brumm told The Hollywood Reporter in 2023 — “Surprise” ensures that “The Sign” isn’t the last episode of the series.

Bluey has been a breakout hit for Disney+ in the United States. It’s the most streamed show in the country this year in terms of total viewing time, according to Nielsen’s streaming ratings, after ranking second in 2023 and sixth in 2022….

(12) LESSONS FROM THE UKRAINE. The New York Times asks “Do Tanks Have a Place in 21st-Century Warfare?”

… Despite their power, tanks are not impenetrable, and they are most vulnerable where their heavy plated armor is the thinnest: on the top, the rear engine block and the space between the hull and the turret. For years they were mainly targeted with land mines, improvised explosive devices, rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank guided missiles, like “shoot and scoot” shoulder-fired systems. These were widely used early in the Ukraine war because they could strike tanks from above and hit them up to 90 percent of the time.

The drones that are now being used against tanks in Ukraine are even more accurate. Known as first-person view drones, or FPVs, they are equipped with a camera that streams real-time images back to their controller, who can direct them to hit tanks in their most vulnerable spots. In several cases, the FPVs have been sent in to “finish off” tanks that had already been damaged by mines or anti-tank missiles so that they could not be retrieved from the battlefield and repaired, Colonel Reisner said.

Depending on their size and technological sophistication, the drones can cost as little as $500 — a paltry investment for taking out a $10 million Abrams tank. And some of them can carry munitions to boost the impact of their blast, said Colonel Reisner. These could be rocket-propelled grenades, he said, or self-forging warheads known as explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, that were widely used in roadside bombs during the war in Iraq. Colonel Reisner has collected videos of tanks in Ukraine being chased down by the drones or drones flying into their open turrets.

“Welcome to the 21st century — it’s unbelievable, actually,” said Colonel Reisner, a historian and former armor reconnaissance officer who oversees Austrian forces’ training at the Theresian Military Academy….

(13) MILITARY AI. “’Machines set loose to slaughter’: the dangerous rise of military AI” – a 2020 article from the Guardian.

The video is stark. Two menacing men stand next to a white van in a field, holding remote controls. They open the van’s back doors, and the whining sound of quadcopter drones crescendos. They flip a switch, and the drones swarm out like bats from a cave. In a few seconds, we cut to a college classroom. The killer robots flood in through windows and vents. The students scream in terror, trapped inside, as the drones attack with deadly force. The lesson that the film, Slaughterbots, is trying to impart is clear: tiny killer robots are either here or a small technological advance away. Terrorists could easily deploy them. And existing defences are weak or nonexistent.

Some military experts argued that Slaughterbots – which was made by the Future of Life Institute, an organisation researching existential threats to humanity – sensationalised a serious problem, stoking fear where calm reflection was required. But when it comes to the future of war, the line between science fiction and industrial fact is often blurry. The US air force has predicted a future in which “Swat teams will send mechanical insects equipped with video cameras to creep inside a building during a hostage standoff”. One “microsystems collaborative” has already released Octoroach, an “extremely small robot with a camera and radio transmitter that can cover up to 100 metres on the ground”. It is only one of many “biomimetic”, or nature-imitating, weapons that are on the horizon…

(14) NO SIRENS ON TITAN. “Dragonfly: NASA Just Confirmed The Most Exciting Space Mission Of Your Lifetime” enthuses Forbes.

NASA has confirmed that its exciting Dragonfly mission, which will fly a drone-like craft around Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, will cost $3.35 billion and launch in July 2028.

Titan is the only other world in the solar system other than Earth that has weather and liquid on its surface. It has an atmosphere, rain, lakes, oceans, shorelines, valleys, mountain ridges, mesas and dunes—and possibly the building blocks of life itself. It’s been described as both a utopia and as deranged because of its weird chemistry.

Set to reach Titan in 2034, the Dragonfly mission will last for two years once its lander arrives on the surface…

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Nearly 200,000 views and not even out for two days…. Matt O’Dowd over at PBS Space Time wonders “Why Is The World Rushing Back To The Moon?”

The Moon has been one of the most important theoretical stepping stones to our understanding of the universe. We’ve long understood that it could also be our literal stepping stone: humanity’s first destination beyond our atmosphere.

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

Glasgow 2024 Opens Hugo Awards Voting

Glasgow 2024 today opened online and mail voting for this year’s Hugo Awards, Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book, and Astounding Award for Best New Writer. All ballots must be received by Saturday, 20th July 2024, 20:17 GMT.
  
The Final Ballot is open to holders of Glasgow 2024 memberships in the categories of Attending Adult, Young Adult, and Teen Members, Online Attending Members, and WSFS Members. (Holders of Day Tickets, Online Attending Tickets, and Child/Infant Attending Tickets are not eligible to vote in the Final Ballot).
 
More information about the Hugo Awards, including full instructions on how to complete and submit a final ballot can be found on the Glasgow 2024 website. Also provided are PDF versions of the ballot in both English and Chinese. These printable ballots can be downloaded by members who prefer to submit their votes by postal mail. All ballots, whether submitted electronically or by postal mail, must be received by the deadline of 20.17 GMT on Saturday, July 20th, 2024.
 
Instructions have also been sent to all eligible Glasgow 2024 Members by email, using the email address associated with their membership. They encourage members to check their junk/spam/promotions folders for this email if they do not appear to have received it because voter notification messages may be flagged as spam by some email systems. Worldcon members who are uncertain of their status or who experience problems with the online ballot form should contact the committee at [email protected].
 
Only members of the 2024 Worldcon are eligible to vote on the final ballot. To join the convention, see the Glasgow 2024 Membership Page.
 
Any questions about the administration of the 2024 Hugo Awards should be directed to [email protected].

HUGO VOTER PACKET. Glasgow 2024’s Nicholas Whyte, in an online Town Hall session today, said the Hugo Voter Packet will be released a few weeks from now, during May.

BUSINESS MEETING. Whyte also said the Worldcon Business Meeting will be livestreamed and recorded. However, he reminded viewers, the rules do not allow virtual participation in the meeting.

[Based on a press release.]