Pixel Scroll 1/26/23 First, They Came For The Pixels, But I Was Not A Pixel, So I Scrolled Nothing

(1) REVISED 2025 WORLDCON BID DEADLINE. The Chengdu Worldcon has recalculated the deadline for 2025 Worldcon bids to file in order to appear on the printed ballot. They tweeted:

According to Section 4.6.3 of the WSFS Constitution, the new deadline for any bidding party to have its name appearing on the printed ballot for the 2025 Worldcon Site Selection is April 21, 2023. For any inquiry, please contact [email protected]

(2) TWO DC TV SERIES WHACKED. “Doom Patrol, Titans canceled at HBO Max after four seasons” reports SYFY Wire.

The DC TV slate is getting thinner by the day. Both Doom Patrol and Titans have been canceled at HBO Max, with each DC-based series set to end for good when their current seasons are done. 

Reported at the same time, news of each cancelation on Wednesday elicited a rapid followup tweet from James Gunn, the recently-hired co-CEO (alongside Peter Safran) of the rebranded DC Studios. Gunn clarified that the move to end both Doom Patrol and Titans was decided before he was elevated to the studio’s top position, while Deadline reported that each show is building toward planned ending episodes aimed at delivering series finales that won’t close things out with any cliffhangers….

(3) EKPEKI Q&A. Kristy Anne Cox, in Strange Horizon’s “Writing While Disabled” column, speaks with Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki: “Writing While Disabled By Kristy Anne Cox, By Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki”.

KAC:  So, how do you fit into the Disabled community? 

ODE:  I only started to refer to myself as Disabled after publishing my novelette “O2 Arena,” so I’m approaching the Disabled community in baby steps. Though, I’ve been Disabled all my life. Regarding speculative fiction, my current story, which was nominated for the Hugo Award, the Nebula, and the BSFA, is the first where I’ve identified as Disabled.

KAC:  Yeah. I mean, that’s common for Disabled people like us, right? Some of us use the word Neurodiverse instead. You may not even understand you are Disabled until you get your diagnosis—and depending on which disability you have, you may or may not have access to a Disabled community. 

Chovwe, do you mind if I ask you what disabilities you have? I do that so our Disabled and Neurodiverse readers can relate their experiences to yours.

ODE:  Sure. Since birth, I have had chronic sinusitis—it’s a respiratory illness. I have perforated ear drums from the sinusitis infection, which means I’m hearing impaired. It’s all connected, like a network of disabilities springing from one. 

That’s respiratory and hearing. Then, because of my chronic sinusitis, I am more susceptible to respiratory illnesses, so I had pneumonia and tuberculosis somewhere along the line. It sort of leaves your lungs a little scarred, you know? I have weaker lungs, and an entire network of respiratory problems.

From my tuberculosis, I got damage to my spine, so I have chronic back pain, too. Chronic sinusitis, hearing loss, chronic back pain, and general breathing difficulties—that’s about it for now.

KAC:  I mean, that’s enough, right? Well, I welcome you into my Disabled communities….

(4) HARPERCOLLINS STRIKE NEWS. “HarperCollins, HarperUnion Move to Solve Labor Dispute with Independent Mediator” – details at Publishers Weekly.

In a company-wide memo sent on January 25, HarperCollins announced that it has reached an agreement with its employee union to have a mutually-agreed-upon independent mediator take over labor negotiations. With more than 200 union employees on strike since November 10, the company said that it hopes a mediator will be able to clear “a path forward” for employees to return to work.

“We entered negotiations eager to find common ground, and we have remained committed to achieving a fair and reasonable contract throughout this process,” reads the memo from HC’s v-p of human resources, Zandra Magariño. “We are optimistic that a mutually agreed upon mediator can help find the solutions that have eluded us so far.”

The memo seemed to strike a different tone than the open letter from CEO Brian Murray published early last month, in which he argued that the union’s demands for livable wages “failed to account for the market dynamics of the publishing industry” and the company’s “responsibility to meet the financial demands” of its business stakeholders. In contrast, Magariño’s memo said that HarperCollins is “optimistic that a mutually agreed upon mediator can help find the solutions that have eluded us so far. HarperCollins has had a union for 80 years, with a long history of successful and fair contract negotiations. The company has the exact same goal now, and is actively working to achieve it.”

The union confirmed the mediator on Twitter, and in its own press release, this morning. “We are hopeful the company will use this opportunity to settle fairly and reset our relationship,” it wrote, adding: “This means our pressure campaign is working. The strike will continue until we reach a fair contract agreement. Please continue to hold the line.”

(5) A DUEL OF WITS WITH AN UNARMED OPPONENT. Camestros Felapton continues his explorations of Larry Correia’s In Defense of the Second Amendment.

…Larry Correia will get to the “tired proposals” that he believes can’t work in Chapter 4 but logic is not going to play a big role.

Chapter 1 “Guns and Vultures” sets out Correia’s broad argument and covers briefly several of the themes that he will discuss at greater length in later chapters. Numerous points are made but I think it is reasonable to say that the overarching theme of the chapter is about who the true victims of American gun violence are from Correia’s perspective….

Which is to say, gun owners.

Imagine a public debate on transport policy, with a focus on increased pedestrianisation of town centres. Fewer cars, fewer accidents, safer streets and a more congenial place to shop or visit a library. Not everybody will be in favour of such a plan and maybe a guy write a book about why we should actually have more cars in town. After all, you can’t get run over by a car when crossing the road if you are already in a car! We’ll call this author Lorry Career….

(6) IS THE ORVILLE MEETING A MALIGN FATE? In ScreenRant’s news about the series, never is said an encouraging word: “The Orville Season 4 Gets Bleak Update From Hulu Exec”

…Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment president Craig Erwich gave a bleak update for The Orville season 4. The popular Star Trek-inspired science-fiction comedy follows Captain Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane) as he leads the crew of USS Orville on adventures across the galaxy. Although season 1 faltered, garnering middling reviews from critics and audiences alike, The Orville rebounded with season 2 and 3, both scoring 100% Fresh ratings on Rotten Tomatoes.

Erwich recently spoke to TVLine and gave a bleak update regarding The Orville season 4. The executive did not share any new details, avoiding any confirmation that The Orville will return. Instead, Erwich praised the work MacFarlane had done on the latest season. Read all of what Erwich said below:

We don’t have anything to share right now. It’s a great show and I know that the fans loved having it back in their lives. And Seth [MacFarlane] did a great job, uniquely as he can, in front of and behind the camera. But we don’t have anything to share right now.

CinemaBlend says another cast member finds waiting is hard: “The Orville’s Penny Johnson Drops Humorously Relatable Video About Waiting For Season 4 Renewal At Hulu”.

Meanwhile, Seth MacFarlane has been building up his positive karma: “Seth MacFarlane adopts the rescue cat Arthur after feline was dumped at a shelter with a broken leg” at Daily Mail Online.

… ‘POV: you are a black cat with a broken leg dumped at a vet clinic to be euthanized but you were finally rescued by the amazing team @perrys_place-la. Then you waited 7 months to find your forever home and now you live with the legend @macfarlaneseth.’  …

(7) WASH ME. RadioTimes did a roundup about “Doctor Who fans think they’ve spotted a key change to the TARDIS”.

Doctor Who fans are always searching for clues about possible developments in the Whoniverse – and it looks like some eagle-eyed viewers have spotted a change to the TARDIS during filming for the show’s 14th season.

Yesterday (Tuesday 24th January) Twitter user Darren Griffiths posted some snaps he had taken when he stumbled upon the set of the sci-fi show while “wandering along a coastal path in Welsh Wales”, and other fans were quick to point out some interesting alterations to the iconic Police Box.

One commenter noted that “the windows are dirty at the bottom”, while Griffiths himself added that “the Police Box sign at the top was also dulled down”. Meanwhile, fan page The Post Monument wrote, “I like how they’ve aged the TARDIS.”

Quite why the TARDIS has been given a new weathered look is not immediately clear – and it remains to be seen whether this will be a specific plot point or just an altogether new look for the Doctor’s trusty vehicle – but it is sure to cause all sorts of speculation amongst the fanbase as they wait for the show to return for its 6oth anniversary celebrations later this year.

(8) AFTER THE AFTERLIFE. “Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd set for roles in Ghostbusters: Afterlife sequel” reports Yahoo!

…A source told The Sun newspaper’s Bizarre column: “Studio bosses are taking a classic franchise, setting it in a new location but keeping the magic of the original. It’s going to be brilliant.

“’Ghostbusters’ has always been synonymous with New York, but to mix things up this time the team was thinking of other great cities with a haunted history.

“London is perfect. It gives so much license to look back at classic landmarks and British history, but still in an urban setting.

“The plans look very cool, and getting the original stars interested wasn’t difficult. They all love the movies and look back at them very fondly.”

The news comes a month after it was announced Gil Kenan will be directing the sequel, with ‘Ghostbusters Afterlife’ filmmaker moving into a writer-producer role….

(9) SAL PIRO OBITUARY. The president of the Rocky Horror Picture Show Fan Club died January 24. Deadline paid tribute: “Sal Piro Dies: Original ‘Rocky Horror’ Role-Playing Superfan And Subject Of Upcoming Movie Was 71”.

Sal Piro, who played a pivotal role in creating the audience participation routines that turned The Rocky Horror Picture Show into a multi-decade, world-wide phenomenon, died at his home in New York City Jan 21.

His death was announced by The Rocky Horror Picture Show Fan Club, which he founded in 1977 and served as its president until his death, becoming a major figure in creating the movie’s cult classic status.

“Sal was the defacto face of Rocky Horror fandom for decades,” the fan club said in a tweeted statement. “He will be sorely missed.”

Opening to terrible reviews in 1975, The Rocky Horror Picture Show soon became a staple of the midnight movie screenings at New York City’s Waverly Theater in Greenwich Village. Surprisingly, the film quickly drew the devotion of young fans, including Piro, who shouted humorous responses to much of the film’s dialogue. As the responses became more elaborate into a sort of viewing ritual, Piro helped shape a floor show of audience members playing out the movie beneath the screen….

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1996 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife

Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife which won the Mythopoeic Award for Novel of the Year is without doubt one of my favorite novels. 

It was supposed to be based off one of Brian Froud’s faerie paintings which is on the British cover of the first edition of the novel, as opposed to the Susan Sedden Boulet art for the American first edition. What you see below is Froud’s original artwork.

Of the books that wound up comprising Froud’s Faerieland series—Charles de Lint’s The Wild Wood, Patricia A. McKillip’s Something Rich and Strange, and Midori Snyder’s Hannah’s Garden, the first two, plus this in the British edition, got his artwork. 

Maggie Black is the artist who’s the central character in this novel and an amazing woman she is. She’s a poet, who comes to the Southwest desert upon learning that a friend, Cooper, has left his estate to her. I won’t say more as some of you may not have read it yet.

Here’s my extended quote from The Wood Wife as she prepares breakfast shortly after getting there. 

Maggie woke early, with a wrenching sense of dislocation. She stared at the water-stained ceiling above her and tried to recall just where she was. On a mountainside, in Davis Cooper’s house. The sky outside was a shade of violet that she’d never quite seen before.

She got up, washed, put her bathrobe on and padded into the kitchen. She’d always been an early riser; she felt cheated if she slept too late and missed the rising sun. She cherished the silver morning light, the stillness, the morning rituals: water in the kettle, bitter coffee grounds, a warm mug held between cold hands, the scent of a day unfolding before her, pungent with possibility.

As the water heated, Maggie unpacked the bag of provisions she’d brought along: dark Dutch coffee, bread, muesli, vegetables, garlic, a bottle of wine. In the small refrigerator were eggs, cheese, fresh pasta from Los Angeles, green corn tamales from downtown Tucson. The only strange thing about the unfamiliarity of this kitchen was the knowledge that it was hers now, these pans, these plates, this old dented kettle, this mug decorated with petroglyph paintings. For years she’d been travelling light and making herself at home in other people’s houses. Having an entire house of her own was going to take some getting used to.

She made the coffee, grilled some toast, and sat down at the kitchen table with yesterday’s edition of the Arizona Daily Star, too unsettled to actually read it. Davis’s kitchen was the heart of the house, with a rough wood table in the center that could have easily seated a family of twelve and not just one elderly poet. The kitchen hearth held a woodstove—the winter nights were probably cold up here. Fat wicker rockers were pulled close to it, covered by faded old serapes. The walls were a mottled tea-colored adobe with shades of some brighter tone showing through and wainscotting up to waist-height stained or aged to a woodsy green. The window frames were painted violet, the doors were a rich but weathered shade of blue. Mexican saints in beaten tin frames hung among Davis’s pots and pans; folk art and dusty tin milagros hung among strings of red chili peppers, garlic, and desert herbs. The windowsills were crowded with were crowded with stones, geodes, fossils, clumps of smoky quartz, and Indian pottery shards.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 26, 1918 Philip Jose Farmer.  I know I’ve read at least the first three Riverworld novels (To Your Scattered Bodies GoThe Fabulous Riverboat and The Dark Design which are all stellar) but I’ll be damned if I recognize the latter ones. Great novels those are. And I’ll admit that I’m not familiar at all with the World of Tiers or Dayworld series. Anyone read them? I know, silly question. I do remember his Doc Savage novel Escape from Loki as being a highly entertaining read, and I see he’s done a number of Tarzan novels as well which I admit I’ve not read. Who here has? (Died 2009.)
  • Born January 26, 1923 Anne Jeffreys. Her first role in our end of things was as a young woman on the early Forties film Tarzan’s New York Adventure. She’s Jean Le Danse (note the name) around the same time in the comedy Zombies on Broadway (film geeks here — is this the earliest zombie film?). And no, I’ve not forgotten she had the lead role as Marion Kerby in the Topper series. She also had one-offs in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.Fantasy Island and Battlestar Galactica. (Died 2017.)
  • Born January 26, 1928 Roger Vadim. Director, Barbarbella. That alone gets a Birthday Honor. But he was one of three directors of Spirits of the Dead, a horror anthology film. (Louis Malle and Federico Fellini were the others.) And not to stop there, he directed another horror film, Blood and Roses (Et mourir de plaisir) and even was involved in The Hitchhiker horror anthology series. And Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman is at least genre adjacent… (Died 2000.)
  • Born January 26, 1929 Jules Feiffer, 94. On the Birthday list as he’s the illustrator of The Phantom Tollbooth. Well, and that he’s also illustrated Eisner’s Spirit which helped get him into the Comic Book Hall of Fame. Let’s not overlook that he wrote The Great Comic Book Heroes in the Sixties which made it the first history of the superheroes of the late Thirties and Forties and their creators. 
  • Born January 26, 1943 Judy-Lynn Del Rey. After first starting at Galaxy Magazine became an editor at Ballantine Books, and eventuallywas given her own imprint, Del Rey Books, Dick and Asimov were two of her clients who considered her the best editor they’d worked with. Wife of Lester del Rey. She suffered a brain hemorrhage in October 1985 and died several months later. Though she was awarded a Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor after her death, her widower turned it down on the grounds that it only been awarded because of her death. (Died 1986.)
  • Born January 26, 1949 Jonathan Carroll, 74. I think his best work by far is The Crane’s View Trilogy consisting of Kissing the Beehive, The Marriage of Sticks and The Wooden Sea. I know de Lint liked these novels though mainstream critics were less than thrilled. White Apples I thought was a well crafted novel and The Crow’s Dinner is his wide ranging look at life in general, not genre at all but fascinating.
  • Born January 26, 1966 Stephen Cox, 57. Pop culture writer who has written a number of books on genre subjects including The Munchkins Remember: The Wizard of Oz and BeyondThe Addams Chronicles: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Addams FamilyDreaming of Jeannie: TV’s Primetime in a Bottle and The Munsters: A Trip Down Mockingbird Lane. I’ll admit to being puzzled by his Cooking in Oz that he did with Elaine Willingham as I didn’t remember that much for food in the Oz book until I started doing the current essays on food in genre literature and discovered there indeed was! 

(12) WHO NOVELS IN 2023. “Doctor Who Target books add 5 new novelisations for 2023” noted RadioTimes.

…Each of the authors for the 2023 Target books are the original screenwriters of the TV episodes so fans can expand their Doctor Who collections with these new, iconic novelisations….

(13) ONLINE ECONOMICS DISTILLED. Cory Doctorow calls it “The ‘Enshittification’ of TikTok” at WIRED.

… This is enshittification: Surpluses are first directed to users; then, once they’re locked in, surpluses go to suppliers; then once they’re locked in, the surplus is handed to shareholders and the platform becomes a useless pile of shit. From mobile app stores to Steam, from Facebook to Twitter, this is the enshittification lifecycle.

This is why—as Cat Valente wrote in her magisterial pre-Christmas essay—platforms like Prodigy transformed themselves overnight, from a place where you went for social connection to a place where you were expected to “stop talking to each other and start buying things.”…

… By making good-faith recommendations of things it thought its users would like, TikTok built a mass audience, larger than many thought possible, given the death grip of its competitors, like YouTube and Instagram. Now that TikTok has the audience, it is consolidating its gains and seeking to lure away the media companies and creators who are still stubbornly attached to YouTube and Insta.

Yesterday, Forbes’s Emily Baker-White broke a fantastic story about how that actually works inside of ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, citing multiple internal sources, revealing the existence of a “heating tool” that TikTok employees use to push videos from select accounts into millions of viewers’ feeds.

These videos go into TikTok users’ For You feeds, which TikTok misleadingly describes as being populated by videos “ranked by an algorithm that predicts your interests based on your behavior in the app.” In reality, For You is only sometimes composed of videos that TikTok thinks will add value to your experience—the rest of the time, it’s full of videos that TikTok has inserted in order to make creators think that TikTok is a great place to reach an audience….

(14) CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST A ‘RICK AND MORTY’ PRODUCER. “Adult Swim Severs Ties With ‘Rick And Morty’ Co-Creator Justin Roiland After Domestic Violence Charges; Voice Roles Will Be Recast”Deadline tells about the case and his fate.

Justin Roiland, co-creator, executive producer and star of Adult Swim’s flagship animated series Rick and Mortyis no longer in business with the Warner Bros Discovery brand on the heel of serious domestic violence allegations against him coming to light earlier this month.

“Adult Swim has ended its association with Justin Roiland,” a spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday.

Following Roiland’s exit, Rick and Morty will continue, with the title roles, which had been voiced by Roiland, recast.

Co-created by Roiland and Dan Harmon, the hit series received a massive 70-episode order in 2018 when Adult Swim also signed new long-term deals with Roiland and Harmon. The show, which has been renewed through Season 10, has completed six seasons, with four more to go as part of the pickup.

Roiland is also co-creator/executive producer and voice cast member of Hulu’s animated series Solar Opposites as well as a performer on the streamer’s animated comedy Koala Man. News on his involvement in those shows would be coming shortly, I hear.

Roiland has been charged with one felony count of domestic battery with corporal injury and one felony count of false imprisonment by menace, violence, fraud and/or deceit by the Orange County District Attorney’s office. The incident in question against a Jane Doe allegedly occurred in January 2020, according to a May 2020 complaint. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in October 2020. The semi-sealed case was kept out of the public until a hearing January 12, 2023. Roiland, who was present, also is required to attend a scheduled April 27 hearing….

(15) COLLABORATIVE MEAL. Kelsea Yu, a Taiwanese Chinese American writer, posts abut food in “Huǒguō” at Sarah Gailey’s Stone Soup.

…It’s loud and chaotic. Everyone talks over one another. Spoons cross, sauces are passed around, broth occasionally splashes out, and at any given time, some people are eating while others are serving food or adding ingredients to the pot.

It’s the kind of meal that requires participation, collaboration, consideration. The kind you can’t have alone, because then it would just be soup. It’s like stone soup, except no one’s reluctant to share.

It’s the kind of meal that helped me learn the value of how we care for each other….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. SYFY released a sneak peek of the first five minutes of its forthcoming series The Ark.

The Ark takes place 100 years into the future when humans must go on missions to colonize other planets. But what would you do if you woke up from cryogenic sleep to your spaceship suffering disaster? Watch the first five minutes of the premiere episode of The Ark. Watch the premiere of The Ark, February 1 at 10/9c on SYFY.

(17) VIDEO OF LAST WEEK. “Kenan Thompson Does an Interview as Science Fiction Writer Pernice Lafonk” on Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Kenan Thompson talks about former Saturday Night Live intern Aubrey Plaza returning to host the show before leaving the set and coming back as his alter ego, science fiction writer Pernice Lafonk.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/18/23 Scroll Me Once, I Am The Pixel, Scroll Me Twice, I Am The File

(1) RIGHTS ACQUIRED. A novel George R.R. Martin co-authored with Daniel Abraham and the late Gardner Dozois has been optioned for a movie. Variety has the details: “George R.R. Martin, Exile Content Pact on ‘Hunter’s Run’ Film Rights”.

…The sci-fi tale is the only one among Martin’s body of work that features a Latino lead, making it a natural fit for Exile Content which has produced a slew of content in Spanish and English.

Based on the sci-fi novel co-penned by Martin, Gardner Dozois and Daniel Abraham (“The Expanse”), “Hunter’s Run” follows Ramón Espejo who ekes out a living as a day laborer on a distant planet where he finds his living conditions no better off than what he left on planet Earth. He escapes but finds himself on the run for the murder of an interplanetary diplomat….

The novel itself took thirty years to finish, for reasons explained in the Wikipedia: “Hunter’s Run”.

…In 1976, science fiction author and editor Dozois conceived of a story beginning with a man floating in darkness. Dozois conceived of Ramón’s name, ethnicity (feeling that Hispanic protagonists were underrepresented in science fiction) and his basic situation, but the story did not proceed far. The following year, while working as a guest instructor at a Catholic women’s college at the invitation of Martin, his friend and colleague, Dozois read the story out loud. Martin thought the story was interesting and waited for Dozois to finish it, but Dozois found himself unable to do so. In 1981, Dozois suggested that Martin continue the story instead, which he did, bringing the story to the beginning of the chase sequence. Martin hit on the idea of expanding the story to a 500-page novel exploring the ecosystem of São Paulo..

After his writing on the story stalled in 1982, Martin handed it back to Dozois, suggesting they alternate working on it until it was done. However, Dozois was unable to come up with any ideas on how to proceed and the book remained in his desk drawer until 2002, when he and Martin decided to bring the story to the attention of a third author, Daniel Abraham. Abraham completed the story, and titled Shadow Twin, it was published by Subterranean as a novella in 2004. Dozois then went back and reworked the manuscript into a 380-page novel, renamed Hunter’s Run, for publication in 2007….

(2) STAY TUNED. Zack Snyder’s own longtime-in-hatching project Rebel Moon is finally on the way says The Hollywood Reporter: “Rebel Moon Netflix Release Date: Zack Snyder Movie Hits in December”.

Netflix has set a date for Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon. The space epic will bow Dec. 22 on the streaming service, Netflix revealed Wednesday as part of a broader look at its 2023 slate.

Snyder originally developed Rebel Moon as a potential Star Wars feature more than a decade ago, before Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012. “This is me growing up as an Akira Kurosawa fan, a Star Wars fan,” Snyder told The Hollywood Reporter in July 2021. “It’s my love of sci-fi and a giant adventure. My hope is that this also becomes a massive IP and a universe that can be built out.”…

(3) NOT AGAINST THE LAW? [Item by Daniel Dern.] Behind a paywall, more from the New York Times on the not-dead indie romance author: “A Fake Death in Romancelandia”

… She had not heard again from the police and sounded confident that she would not face charges, saying the family had not received substantial donations after her online death announcement; she had offered the detectives access to her bank accounts to prove it. She did admit feeling remorse for the fans who had grieved her loss.

“I’m sorry for their mourning, but from a legal standpoint, I did nothing wrong,” she said. “Morally, I might have done something wrong. But legally, there’s nothing wrong.”

(4) WHAT IF YOUR BOOK IS ALREADY INSIDE THE PICKET LINE? Dan Kois, a mainstream author, discusses the “HarperCollins strike: why publishing my first novel has me deeply conflicted” at Slate.

Today, my first novel is being published. It’s the culmination of seven years of work and, uh, a large number of years of dreaming of writing a novel. Publication day for a debut novel can be a little overwhelming, I’m told—you’ve got all those TV news producers begging you for interviews. (They haven’t called me yet, but I assume they will soon.) Overall, though, pub day ought to be a time of joy, if slightly nervous joy: A thing you made, and care deeply about, is finally making its way into the world!

But for me, and for a lot of other authors this winter, publication day is feeling a little bittersweet. That’s because we’re being published by HarperCollins.

About 200 HarperCollins publishing employees, primarily younger assistants and associates, have been on strike since November. Their demands are not outlandish and reflect the issues facing junior employees across publishing: They want the company’s minimum starting salary increased from $45,000 to $50,000. They want the publisher to address diversity issues at the company. They also want to ensure all eligible employees are in the union.

… So what do owe the young striking employees of HarperCollins? Should I be delivering public statements about my support for the union? Sure, that’s easy. But is that enough? Isn’t the success of my book also success for a company that’s currently behaving in a way I can’t agree with? Should I be withholding my labor and refusing to promote my book entirely?

No, said Rachel Kambury, a striking associate editor at HarperCollins. “That’s not your responsibility,” she said. “We don’t want to harm HarperCollins authors.” Indeed, the striking workers aren’t asking customers to boycott Harper titles, and have even created a Bookshop.org affiliate page where you can buy Harper books (here’s a great example!) while also contributing to the union’s strike fund, which supports workers who haven’t gotten paid for two months now….

And Publishers Weekly posted a lengthy article about the strike, the company’s intransigence, and its prospective effects on the industry: “Who Wins in the HarperCollins Union Labor Dispute?”

As the HarperCollins labor dispute rolls into a new year, the company’s unionized employee strike is now the longest in the union’s more than 80-year history at the top publisher. Since the initial employee walkout on November 10, the dispute has caught the attention of all publishing sectors, with many anticipating the outcome as a test case for how labor unions could change business operations. But for many publishing industry veterans, whether that change is positive or negative remains to be seen.

Indeed, some smaller independent publishers—mostly outside of New York City—are concerned that the public nature of the strike, with wage demands made public, is raising unrealistic financial expectations. Smaller publishing operations can’t afford to match wages at the Big Five publishing companies. Moreover, despite the double-digit profit margins that the publicly-traded publishers have posted in recent years, publishing is generally a low margin business. Sales gains during the initial years of the COVID-19 outbreak notwithstanding, the industry typically has marginal growth in annual sales, and “flat is the new up” has long been an unofficial business slogan. A lengthy, very public strike only adds to the industry’s challenges, with many agents and authors wanting the dispute to be resolved quickly and immediately so the industry can get back to business.

As of January 18, unionized employees have missed 50 work days, amid numerous stories about HarperCollins’ low pay, particularly for entry-level employees….

(5) MARVEL MOVIES RETURNING TO CHINA SCREENS. “China ends de facto ban on Marvel films after more than three years” reports the Guardian.

China has ended its de facto ban on Marvel films, with superhero flicks Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania both locking in surprise release dates, after a three-and-a-half-year gap that has cost Disney hundreds of millions in ticket sales.

The films will be released in February, after the lunar new year, marking the first Marvel releases in the world’s second-largest theatrical market since Avengers: Endgame in 2019.

Foreign film releases are approved or denied by regulators at the China Film Administration, which is part of the Chinese Communist party’s propaganda department. The CFA routinely blocks the release of foreign films to maintain censorship and protect the domestic film industry.

The CFA has never explained why Marvel films have been blocked since mid-2019….

…The readmittance of Marvel films comes as the US and China work to repair relations, and amid other signs of China’s government easing its hardline approaches on the private sector.

(6) KINSMAN HISTORY MAKER. The Tribune-Chronicle in Warren, Ohio ran a profile about a famous local author: “Valley author found success in the stars”.

Edmond Moore Hamilton was a popular author of science fiction stories and novels through the mid-20th century. During his career, he wrote more than 30 science fiction novels and 400 stories.

… On Dec. 31, 1946, Hamilton married fellow science fiction author and screenwriter Leigh Brackett in San Gabriel, California, and in 1951 moved with her to a farmhouse in Kinsman, where they worked side by side for a quarter-century, but rarely shared the task of authorship….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1993 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

I am not making the assumption that all of us here love Terry Pratchett’s Discworld fiction but I deeply, madly do. At forty one novels and a number of related works including the Hugo nominated The Science of Discworld, there’s a lot of great reading to be had.

And let’s not forget a music adaptation by Steeleye Span of one of his novels. As the Green Man reviewer says, “It may be an example of retrospective inevitability now that it has actually happened in the form of the Wintersmith CD, however.  In any case, the end result is one that is overwhelmingly a credit to all concerned; worthy of the names involved and their reputations.” 

And of course, Discworld has food.  Tonight, I’ll offer up one of my favorite quotes by him on that subject. Don’t worry — there’s more food to follow by him. 

Our quote this Scroll is from “Theatre of Cruelty”, a Discworld short story that Terry Pratchett wrote in 1993. It has an interesting history as it was first written for W. H. Smith Bookcase magazine and then was slightly changed before being published in the program of OryCon 15, and finally in The Wizards of Odd, a compilation of fantasy short stories.

Pratchett allowed it to be published sort as a feral thing online, so you can find the full text, well, pretty much everywhere. Here’s a nicely formatted copy.

And here’s the excerpt from it that I promised. 

There is such a thing as an edible, nay delicious, meat pie floater, its mushy peas of just the right consistency, its tomato sauce piquant in its cheekiness, its pie filling tending even towards named parts of the animal. There are platonic burgers made of beef instead of cow lips and hooves. There are fish ‘n’ chips where the fish is more than just a white goo lurking at the bottom of a batter casing and you can’t use the chips to shave with. There are hot dog fillings which have more in common with meat than mere pinkness, whose lucky consumers don’t apply mustard because that would spoil the taste. It’s just that people can be trained to prefer the other sort, and seek it out. It’s as if Machiavelli had written a cookery book.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 18, 1882 A.A. Milne. Oh, Pooh has to count as genre, doesn’t he? A talking, honey loving bear? Certainly that an exhibition entitled “Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic” appeared at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London shows his place in our culture. There’s also Once on a Time, a rather charming fairy tale by him. And though it isn’t remotely genre, I wholeheartedly recommend The Red House Mystery, a Country House Mystery that’s most excellent! (Died 1956.)
  • Born January 18, 1932 Robert Anton Wilson. Conspiracy nut or SF writer? Or both? I think I first encountered him in something Geis wrote about him in SFR in the Eighties. Schrödinger’s Cat Trilogy is just weird and might or might not be a sequel to The Illuminatus! Trilogy. But the absolutely weirdest thing he did I think is an interview titled Robert Anton Wilson On Finnegans Wake and Joseph Campbell. Yes, he frothed at the mouth on Campbell and Joyce in it! (Died 2007.)
  • Born January 18, 1937 Dick Durock. He was best known for playing Swamp Thing in Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing and the following television series which ran for three seasons. His only other genre appearances were in The Nude Bomb (also known as The Return of Maxwell Smart) and “The First” of The Incredible Hulk. He shows up in Die Hard with a Vengeance in a subway scene. No, it’s not genre, I just like that film. (Died 2009.)
  • Born January 18, 1943 Paul Freeman, 80. Best remembered I’d say for being the evil René Belloq in Raiders of the Lost Ark. He also played Professor Moriarty in Without a Clue which had Michael Caine as Holmes and Kingsley as Watson. He played Frederick Selous on two episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. His last genre appearance was the new The Man Who Fell to Earth series.
  • Born January 18, 1953 Pamela Dean, 70. Her best novel is I think Tam Lin though one could make an argument for Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary which Windling claims is her favorite fantasy novel. Her Secret Country trilogy is a great deal of fun reading. Much of her short stories are set in the Liavek shared universe created by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly. Alll of these are now available on all major digital platforms. According to the files sitting in my Dropbox folder, there’s eight volumes to the series. They’re wonderful reading. End of plug.
  • Born January 18, 1955 Kevin Costner, 68. Some of his genre films are Robin Hood: Prince of ThievesWaterworldThe Postman and the recent Dragonfly. Bull Durham is one of my go-to films when I want to feel good. He also was Jonathan Kent in both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. On the baseball side of things, I really like his Field of Dreams — his acting in it as Ray Kinsella is quite excellent. Not quite as superb as he was as “Crash” Davis in Bull Durham but damned good.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro shares the latest in alien transportation.

(10) LET THERE BE MOMENTARY LIGHT. “Inside the nuclear fusion breakthrough that could be a step to unlimited clean energy in the distant future” CBS’ 60 Minutes has posted their coverage as a text article in addition to the video recording.

…Last month, the nearest star to the Earth was in California. In a laboratory, for the first time, the world’s largest lasers forced atoms of hydrogen to fuse together in the same kind of energy producing reaction that fires the sun. It lasted less than a billionth of a second. But, after six decades of toil and failure, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory proved it could be done. If fusion becomes commercial power one day, it would be endless and carbon free. In other words, it would change human destiny. As you’ll see, there’s far to go. But after December’s breakthrough, we were invited to tour the lab and meet the team that brought star power down to Earth.

Uncontrolled fusion is easy–mastered so long ago the films are in black and white. Fusion is what a hydrogen bomb does, releasing energy by forcing atoms of hydrogen to fuse together. What’s been impossible is harnessing the fires of Armageddon into something useful. 

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory helps maintain nuclear weapons and experiments with high-energy physics. An hour east of San Francisco, we met Livermore’s director, Kim Budil, in the lab that made history, the National Ignition Facility. 

Kim Budil: The National Ignition Facility is the world’s largest, most energetic laser. It was built starting in the 1990s, to create conditions in the laboratory that had previously only been accessible in the most extreme objects in the universe, like the center of giant planets, or the sun, or in operating nuclear weapons. And the goal was to really be able to study that kind of very high-energy, high-density condition in a lot of detail….

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: High on Life”, Fandom Games is not just honest, but brutally honest.

…From Rick and Morty creator and alleged domestic abuser Justin Roiland comes a brand new video game that’s exactly the thing that you would expect from him. It’s a space adventure where every joke goes on two minutes too long – High on Life.

Witness what happens when Justin Roiland decides to bring his vision to life in game and experience a world that feels like a cheap knockoff of a thing made by the same guy… 

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

Pixel Scroll 1/17/23 A Stone Soup Of Pixels Served Up With Buttered Toasted Scrolls

(1) PLAYING THE TRUMPS. “Stephen Colbert to Produce ‘Chronicles of Amber’ TV Series Adaptation” reports Variety.

Stephen Colbert is joining the team that is adapting Roger Zelazny’s “The Chronicles of Amber” for television [under his Spartina production banner].

… “George R.R. Martin and I have similar dreams,” Colbert said. “I’ve carried the story of Corwin in my head for over 40 years, and I’m thrilled to partner with Skybound and Vincent Newman to bring these worlds to life. All roads lead to Amber, and I’m happy to be walking them.”

“The Chronicles of Amber” follows the story of Corwin, who is said to “awaken on Earth with no memory, but soon finds he is a prince of a royal family that has the ability to travel through different dimensions of reality (called ‘shadows’) and rules over the one true world, Amber.”…

(2) MORE LORE. Season 3 of The Mandalorian airs 3 March 1 on Disney+.

The journeys of the Mandalorian through the Star Wars galaxy continue. Once a lone bounty hunter, Din Djarin has reunited with Grogu. Meanwhile, the New Republic struggles to lead the galaxy away from its dark history. The Mandalorian will cross paths with old allies and make new enemies as he and Grogu continue their journey together.

And according to Dark Horizons:

…A fourth season of the series is already in development, whilst this arrives ahead of both “Star Wars: Ahsoka” and “Star Wars: Skeleton Crew”, both due to arrive on the Disney+ service later this year. Filming on “Star Wars: The Acolyte” and a second season of “Star Wars: Andor” are both underway in the UK at present….

(3) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Simultaneous Times SF podcast episode 59 has been released. Listen to it here. Stories featured in this episode:

  • “Three to Go” by Ria Rees. Music by Phog Masheeen. Read by Jean-Paul Garnier 
  • “Ghosts” by Michael Butterworth. Music by Julie Carpenter. Read by the author.

Simultaneous Times is a monthly science fiction podcast produced by Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, CA.

(4) FIFTIETH DAY OF HARPERCOLLINS STRIKE TOMORROW. Supporters of the strike against HarperCollins will rally January 18. Publishers Weekly has details: “HarperCollins Union Plans Rally at News Corp Offices in Manhattan”.

As unionized employees at HarperCollins Publishers prepare to mark their 50th day on strike next week, union representatives announced that a rally is planned outside the publisher’s parent company, News Corp, in Manhattan at 12:30 p.m. on January 18. Since November 10 of last year, labor negotiations between the union and company executives have been stalled, and union representatives are hoping to put pressure on the publisher to return to the bargaining table.

Local 2110 of the UAW represents more than 250 HarperCollins employees in editorial, sales, publicity, design, legal, and marketing departments. Union representatives said negotiations have stalled over higher pay, a greater commitment to diversifying staff, and stronger union protection. Negotiations started in December 2021 and unionized employees have been working without a contract since April 2022….

(5) WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW, THEY SAY. [Item by Bill Higgins.] Kenneth Hite, a Chicago author, game designer, and podcaster, was shot in the leg last week by armed robbers near his Hyde Park home.  Fortunately, he’s going to be fine.  Furthermore, he sold an account of the experience to the UK magazine The Spectator.  Because Ken Hite is a true professional. “Trigger warning: how it feels to get shot”.

… But at 3.10 a.m. on Friday, I was walking home from a late-night writing session at a colleague’s apartment a block from my house. (I work as a games designer.) A car pulled up, and two guys with guns jumped out and aggressively requested my 2014 MacBook Air.

I wish I could say I carefully considered whether my life was worth more than a nine-year-old computer and (more importantly) a manuscript I hadn’t backed up, but I acted without thinking and ran. After six or seven shots, I felt a hard thump on the back of my right calf. Then the two geniuses remembered that stuff about the third-largest armed force in Illinois, jumped back into their car and tore off. I counted my blessings and let myself into my house.

It was then that I noticed an awful lot of blood on the floor around my foot. The gunshots had, it turned out, awakened my wife Sheila, who wondered if I knew what had happened. Suddenly I did. ‘I’ve been shot in the leg,’ I told her. She called 911 and both sets of police – University of Chicago and Chicago Police Department – showed up almost immediately. In between questions, one of the cops put a tourniquet on my leg. I’ve heard since that if the tourniquet doesn’t hurt more than the bullet wound, it’s not on tight enough. This one was on tight enough….

(6) COVID STALKS AWARDS SHOWS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Following the Golden Globe Awards, several celebrities (including some particularly big names) tested positive for COVID. Apparently in response, the Critics Choice Awards instituted a COVID test policy. “Several celebrities test positive for COVID after Golden Globes” at ABC News.

In the wake of the Golden Globes last week, several celebrities said they have tested positive for COVID-19.

At least four stars, including Jamie Lee Curtis and Michelle Pfeiffer, revealed they contracted the virus following the awards show.

In response, the Critics Choice Awards, which was held on Sunday, announced that all attendees would be required to submit a negative COVID-19 test before entering the venue, according to Deadline.

Public health experts said the news of actors and actresses falling ill is not surprising due to the relaxed regulations and people gathering indoors.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1992 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]  Mexican food liked you’ve dreamed of

Tonight’s essay concerns Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies. It was published by Doubleday in Mexico in 1992 as Como agua para chocolate.  Yes, the English language title is a lot longer.

Perfection Learning published the first edition in 1995. The film actually came out here in 1993 before the book was published here because though shot in Mexico, it had simultaneous English and Spanish language versions. 

So let’s talk about the book. And a magical book it is. Even in the English translation! The original Spanish version, Como agua para chocolat, was the top-selling book in Mexico in 1990. As a work of Latin magical realism, it can’t be topped by any other work to date. I unfortunately don’t know Spanish so I read the English translation which is quite excellent.

Now it’s here because a recurring theme of both the book and the film that came out is is food, which is used to represent all aspects of the vibrant, if troubled, Mexican culture. Hardly a scene goes by without someone eating or preparing a meal, and some of the more tasty chapters/scenes involve truly awesome banquets. Both in the book and in the film, there’s a real feeling that food is more than just something one eats. Food here is a celebration of the helix of life and death, of consuming and being consumed.

It’s is possibly the most erotic film ever made. Truly it is. Even the baking of bread becomes an act of eros. 

Now here’s an exquisite example of the food scenes herein

She felt so lost and lonely. One last chile in walnut sauce left on the platter after a fancy dinner couldn’t feel any worse than she did. How many times had she eaten one of those treats, standing by herself in the kitchen, rather than let it be thrown away. When nobody eats the last chile on the plate, it’s usually because none of them wants to look like a glutton, so even though they’d really like to devour it, they don’t have the nerve to take it. It was as if they were rejecting that stuffed pepper, which contains every imaginable flavor; sweet as candied citron, juicy as pomegranate, with the bit of pepper and the subtlety of walnuts, that marvelous chile in the walnut sauce. Within it lies the secret of love, but it will never be penetrated, and all because it wouldn’t feel proper.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 17, 1899 Nevil Shute. Author of On the Beach. It originally appeared as a four-part series, The Last Days on Earth, in the London weekly Sunday Graphic in April 1957. It was twice a film. He has other SF novels including An Old Captivity which involves time travel and No Highway which gets a review by Pohl in Super Science Stories, April 1949. There’s In the Wet and Vinland the Good as well. (Died 1960.)
  • Born January 17, 1910 Carol Hughes. Genre fans will no doubt best recognize her as Dale Arden in Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe from sixty years ago. Other than The Red Dragon, a Charlie Chan film done in the Forties if I remember correctly, I’m not seeing anything that’s even genre adjacent for her though I’m assuming that the Fifties Ghost Buster short she was in should be a genre production. (Died 1995.)
  • Born January 17, 1927 Eartha Kitt. Though you’ll have lots of folks remembering her as Catwoman from the original Batman, she appeared in but four episodes there. Genre wise, she was in such series as I-SpyMission: ImpossibleMatrix, the animated Space Ghost Coast to Coast and the animated My Life as a Teenage Robot. Film wise, she played Freya in Erik the Viking, voiced Bagheera in The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story and was Madame Zeroni In Holes.(Died 2008.)
  • Born January 17, 1931 James Earl Jones, 92. His first SF appearance was in Dr. Strangelove as Lt. Lothar Zogg.  And I think I need not list all his appearances as Darth Vader here. Some genre appearances include Exorcist II: The HereticThe Flight of DragonsConan the Barbarian as Thulsa Doom and I actually remember him in that role, Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, did you know the 1995 Judge Dredd had a Narrator? Well he’s listed as doing it, and Fantasia 2000 as well. In 2022, his voice was used via software for Darth Vader in the Obi-Wan KenobiDisney+ miniseries. Jones signed a deal with Lucasfilm authorizing archival recordings of his voice to be used in the future to artificially generate the voice of Darth Vader. Jones said later that all Vader voicing would using AI software. 
  • Born January 17, 1935 Paul O. Williams. A poet won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer in 1983 after publishing The Breaking of Northwall and The Ends of the Circle which are the first two novels of his Pelbar Cycle. I’ve not read these, so be interested in your opinions, of course. (Died 2009.)
  • Born January 17, 1962 Jim Carrey, 61. His first genre film is Once Bitten whose content is obvious from its name. The ‘dorable Earth Girls Are Easy was next followed up by Batman Forever in which he played a manic Riddler, then there’s the The Truman Show which stretches genre boundaries I think. May we not talk about How the Grinch Stole Christmas? And is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind genre?,  who’s seen Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events?, Horton Hears a Who! (FUN!), A Christmas Carol  of which I know nothing, Mr. Popper’s Penguins (well it sounds cute) and, I’m not you, Sonic the Hedgehog. Busy, isn’t he?
  • Born January 17, 1970 Genndy Tartakovsky, 53. Like Romulan Ale, animation style is a matter of taste. So while I like his work on Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars, I can understand why many SW fans don’t as it’s definitely an acquired taste.  He also is responsible for directing the animated Hotel Transylvania franchise. 

(9) THE SKY’S THE LIMIT. “Should We Block the Sun to Counter Climate Change?” – an opinion piece in the New York Times.

Last month, a two-person start-up company by the name of Make Sunsets claimed that it had launched weather balloons filled with reflective sulfur particles into the sky somewhere over the coast of Baja California. More provocation than experiment, the launch was a first-of-its-kind field test of a climate intervention known as geoengineering: a branch of speculative technology that promises to counteract and even reverse global warming by altering Earth’s atmosphere.

Long a taboo idea among climate experts thought too dangerous even to research, geoengineering is becoming increasingly mainstream. In 2019, Congress gave the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration $4 million to research techniques like the one Make Sunsets just tested, and it has since drawn interest from the Biden administration.

As the world continues to fall short of the goals of the Paris agreement and the costs of climate change mount, is geoengineering an idea worth taking seriously, or is it a world-historically reckless distraction from the global effort to transition away from fossil fuels? Here’s a look at the debate….

(10) A CELLER’S MARKET. [Item by Christian Brunschen.] A company literally calling themselves “SciFi Foods” are using CRISPR gene editing to develop “scalable beef cell lines” for cultivation — with the CEO claiming inspiration from Ian M. Banks’ The Player of Games. (They’re by far not the only cultivated-meat company out there of course.) “The first CRISPR gene-edited meat is coming. This is the CEO making sci-fi a reality” at Fast Company.

…Cost parity with traditional meat is every founder’s goal, one that sets a seemingly unattainable target. (In 2022, the average price of ground beef was $4.81/lb.) SciFi is betting that the only way to economically scale cultivated meat is with CRISPR, and that by making iterative tweaks they can create dependable cell lines with rich, meat-y flavor. “We have an eventual target of $1 per burger at commercial scale,” March says.

Once harvested, beef cells will be formulated into a blended burger that is mostly like the plant-based burgers you may already know—soy protein and coconut oil. SciFi’s secret sauce is adding a small percentage of SciFi cells (5% to 20%, according to March) to reward our taste buds with the beef-y notes we may think are missing from competitors like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. Blood-quickening, salivatory, tempting….

(11) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. The TV adaptation of a Ray Bradbury story, “The Electric Grandmother”, first aired on this day in 1982.

(12) EXTRA CREDIT. Mel Brooks’ History of the World Part 2, “A sequel 40 years in the making.” A four-night event, streaming March 6 on Hulu. John King Tarpinian declares, “I can hardly wait.”

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Honest Trailers — Demolition Man” sends up another Sylvester Stallone science ficton movie.

…One of the few R-rated action sci-fi films that’s remembered more for its clever writing than its shootouts. But kids today will never understand the significance of this movie just like my ex-wife will never understand the significance of the John Spartan mannequin I bought from a Planet Hollywood estate sale….

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

Pixel Scroll 12/17/22 Last Night I Had The Strangest Scroll 

By Joe Pearson

(1) NAVIGATING AMAZON. On Neil Clarke’s blog yesterday he posted a fuller version of his news about “Amazon Kindle Subscriptions”, which began with Amazon informing Clarkesworld that it is ending Kindle Subscriptions in 2023 and trying to get magazines to move to Kindle Unlimited:

…Amazon plans to inform subscribers via email in March. I asked if there would be an opportunity for the publishers to be involved in the framing of that language and it was received positively. (Publishers don’t have access to subscriber contact information.) I should have additional information sometime in mid-January on how that will work, but first impression was that it would be some direction towards the publisher’s website for information on how to continue subscribing somewhere else (or even KU should the publisher be willing and able to go that route).

I would rate the likelihood of Amazon changing their mind as very slim. I don’t know precisely why they are doing this, but they are doing so with full knowledge of how many customers it will impact and potentially upset. That doesn’t mean you should refrain from letting them know how you feel about this, particularly if you are a current subscriber.

Each of us has 8-9 months to try to figure out how to work around and adjust to these changes. It’s no small task. Some of us have thousands of subscribers on their platform and even with some cooperation from Amazon to get the word out, migrating subscribers to a new platform will be extremely challenging.

I’m hoping for patience from our readers and followers. I’m going to be pushing subscriptions quite loudly for a while. Because I have to. We’ve also been talking about the need to increase our subscription price. (I’m not sure why magazines are locked at a price from ten years ago, but all other literary content has increased in that time.) This situation may make it a necessity and not just for us.

And finally, if you are an Amazon subscriber, please don’t forget about us. Your subscription will continue well into 2023, but at some point we hope you’ll transition to a new subscription from one of the many places that offer them. Look for information in our January issue or come back here around then. You can also check out our current subscription options, but we’re hoping to add to that. If you have suggestions, please don’t hesitate to ask about them. No matter what, thank you. Your support over the years has been crucial and we hope it can continue….

(2) AGENTS BACK HARPERCOLLINS STRIKERS. “HC Union Update: Authors Co-Host Rally at Harper Headquarters; Agents ‘Overwhelmingly’ Support Strike”Publishers Weekly has the story.

…79.1% of literary agents who participated in a survey conducted by the Association of American Literary Agents say that they support the HarperCollins union strike. The union had previously asked agents to refrain from submitting new projects to HarperCollins until an agreement is reached.

Among the supporters, 74.4% back the strike unequivocally, while 4.7% are “positive with caveats.” Meanwhile 9.3% say they are neutral, and 11.1% feel they need more information about the issue to form an opinion. Fewer than 1% of respondents say they do not support the strike at all. A total of 215 members responded to the poll.

A majority of respondents to the poll say they have changed their dealings with HarperCollins in some way as a result of the strike, from delaying deal announcements to only submitting option projects to withholding all business, including meetings, with the publisher. Still, there are some caveats: specifically, some agents noted that they will still submit to the publisher if their clients specifically request it, or if they feel that cutting Harper out of the running will result in lower offers for their clients’ books.

(3) FIFTEENTH DOCTOR. “’Doctor Who’ Reveals First Look at Ncuti Gatwa as New Doctor” in The Hollywood Reporter.

…The show tweeted photos on Saturday of Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson in character, along with a caption proclaiming their big introduction….

(4) FREE ON EARTH. While news of his decision may have been reported here sometime in the past couple of years, since November 1, 2022 there been a statement on the “Tom Lehrer Songs – Songs and Lyrics by Tom Lehrer” website that he has put all his lyrics and music into the public domain.  

I, Tom Lehrer, and the Tom Lehrer Trust 2007, hereby grant the following permissions:

All copyrights to lyrics or music written or composed by me have been relinquished, and therefore such songs are now in the public domain. All of my songs that have never been copyrighted, having been available for free for so long, are now also in the public domain.

The latter includes all lyrics which I have written to music by others, although the music to such parodies, if copyrighted by their composers, are of course not included without permission of their copyright owners. The translated songs on this website may be found on YouTube in their original languages.

Performing and recording rights to all of my songs are included in this permission. Translation rights are also included.

In particular, permission is hereby granted to anyone to set any of these lyrics to their own music, or to set any of this music to their own lyrics, and to publish or perform their parodies or distortions of these songs without payment or fear of legal action.

Some recording, movie, and television rights to songs written by me are merely licensed non-exclusively by me to recording, movie, or TV companies. All such rights are now released herewith and therefore do not require any permission from me or from Maelstrom Music, which is merely me in another hat, nor from the recording, movie, or TV companies involved.

In short, I no longer retain any rights to any of my songs.

So help yourselves, and don’t send me any money.

(5) KINDRED SCREENWRITER. Library of America presents “Adapting Kindred for Television: Highlights from Our Interview with Screenwriter Branden Jacobs-Jenkins”.

This past February, we interviewed Obie-winning playwright and screenwriter Branden Jacobs-Jenkins about the process and the challenges of adapting Octavia E. Butler’s 1979 novel Kindred into the eight-episode TV series that makes its debut later this month. A time-travel thriller that transports its heroine from Southern California in the 1970s to a plantation in antebellum Maryland, the novel is widely acknowledged as a visionary masterpiece.

Below we present some short highlights from the interview…

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1987 [By Cat Eldridge.] Nancy Schön’s “The Ducklings”

No, these are not some characters out of folklore, but we picked them because, well, they are adorable. Really, really adorable.

The story of starts off with Make Way for Ducklings,  a children’s picture book written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey, published first in 1941 by the Viking Press. That book tells the story of a pair of mallards who raise their brood of ducklings on an island in the lagoon in the Boston Public Garden. It won the 1942 Caldecott Medal for the charcoal grey illustrations therein.

Boston Public Garden, where the Mallards eventually settled, is series of bronze statues of Mrs. Mallard and her eight ducklings by artist Nancy Schön, the sculptor of Pooh and his companions that we essayed last Scroll.

Let’s have Nancy tell the tale of how these came to be: “Therein lies a long tale of her proposal writing, our meeting and working with Robert McCloskey, of acquiring the sponsorship of the Friends of the Boston Public Garden, of having my design accepted by the Boston Art Commission, the Landmarks Commission and the Parks and Recreation Department. Then there was the problem, as always, of fund raising. 

“It took two years to go through this process but on October 4, 1987 a bronze sculpture of Mrs. Mallard and her eight ducklings was installed on old Boston cobblestones. I treasure time that I spend standing near the sculpture and watching all the children hug, kiss, climb on and feed the ducks. How fortunate I am to have made this sculpture which, thanks to Mr. McCloskey, has given so much pleasure to so many.”

The tallest statue, mother of course, stands only 38 inches tall, and the family of bronze ducks set upon Boston cobblestone spans thirty feet.

Four of the ducks were stolen, one in 1991 and three in February 2000. Thieves were hoping to sell the ducks as scrap metal cut the statues off at the legs. The missing ducks were replaced in September 2000 at a rededication ceremony attended by former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev as another set of these is in Moscow.  Those were happier times in Mother Russia. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 17, 1930 Bob Guccione. The publisher of Penthouse, the much more adult version of Playboy, but also of Omni magazine, the SF zine which had a print version between 1978 and 1995. A number of now-classic stories first ran there such as Gibson’s “Burning Chrome” and “Johnny Mnemonic”, as well as Card’s “Unaccompanied Sonata” and even Harlan Ellison’s novella, Mephisto in Onyx which was on the Hugo ballot at ConAdian but finished sixth in voting. The first Omni digital version was published on CompuServe in 1986 and the magazine switched to a purely online presence in 1996.  It ceased publication abruptly in late 1997, following the death of co-founder Kathy Keeton, his wife. (Died 2010.)
  • Born December 17, 1944 Jack L. Chalker. I really, really enjoyed a lot of his Well World series, and I remember reading quite a bit of his other fiction down the years and I loved his short story collection, Dance Band on the Titanic. Which of his other myriad series have you read and -enjoyed?  I find it really impressive that he attended every Worldcon from except one, from 1965 until 2004. One of our truly great members of the SF community as was a member of the Washington Science Fiction Association and was involved in the founding of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. I was surprised that his Hugo nominations were all for not for his fiction, but twice for Best Amateur Magazine for his Mirage zines at Chicon IIII and Discon, and once for Best Non-fiction Book for The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Critical and Bibliographic History at MagiCon. (Died 2005.)
  • Born December 17, 1953 Bill Pullman, 69. First SF role was as Lone Starr in Spaceballs. He next appears in The Serpent and the Rainbow which is damn weird before playing the lead in the even weirder Brain Dead. Now we come to Independence Day and I must say I love his character and the film a lot. Post-Independence Day, he went weird again showing up in Lake Placid which is a lot of fun and also voiced Captain Joseph Korso in the animated Titan A.E. film. Which at least in part was written by Joss Whedon. He reprises his Thomas J. Whitmore character in Independence Day: Resurgence, a film I have avoided for fear the Suck Fairy got it as soon as it premiered. Was I right, oh Filers? 
  • Born December 17, 1954 J.M. Dillard, 68. Yes, I know this is a pen name but I’m interested only in her Trek output tonight. She’s written at least fifteen tie-ins starting with Star Trek: Mindshadow in the mid Eighties and her last seemingly being Star Trek: The Next Generation: Resistance in the late Oughts.
  • Born December 17, 1973 Rian Johnson, 49. Director responsible for the superb Looper, also Star Wars: The Last Jedi  and the superb Knives Out. I know, it’s not even genre adjacent. It’s just, well, I liked Gosford Park, so what can I say about another film akin to it? He has a cameo as an Imperial Technician in Rogue One, and he voices Bryan in BoJack Horseman which is definitely genre. 
  • Born December 17, 1975 Milla Jovovich, 47. First SFF appearance was as Leeloo de Sabat in The Fifth Element, a film which still gets a very pleasant WTF? from me when I watch it. She was also Alice in the Resident Evil franchise which is five films strong and running so far. I see she shows up as Milady de Winter in a Three Musketeers I never heard of which is odd is it’s a hobby of mind to keep track of those films, and plays Nimue, The Blood Queen in the rebooted Hellboy. 
  • Born December 17, 1993 Kiersey Clemons, 29. There’s a Universe in which films exist in which performers actually performed the roles they were hired for. Case in point is her work as Iris West in Justice League where all her scenes were deleted. You can see those scenes in the extras of course. She has other genre creds including being in the reboot of Flatliners (saw the original which I really liked but not this one), in the live action version of Lady and the Tramp which is at least genre adjacent, and Lucy in Extant, a series produced by Steven Spielberg that I have not seen. 

(8) LETHEM REACTS TO LAFFERTY. The October 31 issue of The New Yorker published “Narrowing Valley,” by Jonathan Lethem, a short story written in response to R.A. Lafferty’s story “Narrow Valley” which appeared in Robert Silverberg’s 1973 New Dimensions anthology. In an accompanying interview, “Jonathan Lethem on What’s Stuck in His Head”, explains why he wrote it, and tackles the question of whether it may elicit controversy.

In Lafferty’s story, a white family attempts to homestead land that had originally been given to a Pawnee Indian named Clarence Big-Saddle. The land reveals itself to be a spatial anomaly, and, ultimately, shrinks and flattens the family when they attempt to enter it. In your story, a white family is rumbling westward in a Winnebago across “stolen Tongva land.” The narrator, a white male writer, observes that “the story is headed into crisis, because the family must—as in Lafferty’s original—meet an Indian.” Do you think there’ll be readers who’ll object to what you’re doing in this story, and will feel that Native American characters are being used as a prop in a narrative that centers on a white man?

I’m grateful that you put this question directly, rather than leaving it present only by implication. The obvious answer is yes. The tone I struck here—that of nervous guilty riffing in the treacherous realm of “appropriation”—may seem almost to beg a reader’s own anxieties into play. Or a reader’s condemnation. That risk is one of the subjects of the story, really. I hope that saying this doesn’t come off in any way as blasé, let alone defiant. The irreducible historical trauma (and vast collective culpability) that would make the background for such an objection to the story isn’t subject to dismissal.

I was an amazed reader of Zadie Smith’s “Fascinated to Presume: In Defense of Fiction” when it was published in the New York Review of Books, in 2019. Despite its subtitle, Smith’s essay isn’t some exercise in intransigent advocacy for fiction’s carte blanche. Instead, she reflects humbly on her own position as a reader and writer trained in expectations and practices that find themselves placed under new pressure by evolving ethical notions, here in the twenty-first century. I can relate. And (unlike “the writer of the present story,” a character who seems to operate in a vacuum of his own despondency) as a full-time college instructor and member of an English department, I’m actually enmeshed in this conversation on a daily basis with students and colleagues. “Narrowing Valley” reflects the dynamism of that conversation, for which I’m grateful. This story’s hesitation, precisely at the limit of a willingness to invent a Native character to advance its cause, is informed by it. I don’t mean that as a defense, but I hope it might be a useful description. As we say in the humanities biz, when you can’t defend what’s plainly disastrous in some canonical text, but you still want to include it in the mix, the best thing is to “teach the problem.”

Many students, I’m happy to say, still yearn to be involved in that indefensible polymorphous sphere of “fiction” that Smith describes so movingly in her essay. Yet they’ve never known anything like the automatic license that my generation of writers tasted—let alone that known (I’m imagining) by someone even older, like R. A. Lafferty. Instead, they have to carve out the space to practice this weird art—which often entails mingling deep integrity with gleeful imposture—on a case-by-case basis. In their willingness to try, they become my teachers.

What’s striking—to bring things full circle—is that many writing students lately appear to find science fiction attractive, as a palette that offers replenishing possibilities for their efforts. This may sound a bit Gene Roddenberryish, but it’s as if the best things about the field I grew up inside—ideas about self-and-other; a lexicon for anxieties about capitalism, technology, and the environment, about our presence as a species on the planet; a resolute unwillingness to take status-quo “reality” as a given, as an end point—help disrupt the bourgeois placidity that can make fiction seem insufficient to our present life.

(9) AMY BLOOM BOOK RECS. The Guardian’s Q&A “Amy Bloom: ‘Nigella Lawson is God (if we’re lucky)’” includes praise of Octavia Butler.

The book I discovered later in life
Kindred by Octavia Butler. I read very little science fiction and had no patience with movies such as The Creature from the Black Lagoon or even ET. I came across Butler’s work in the early 90s and both the substance and style illuminated the world for me.

(10) FINALLY. “How did you spend the past 13 years? They spent it waiting for an ‘Avatar’ sequel.” “Meet the ‘Avatar’ fans who never stopped thinking the movie was cool” at the Washington Post.

…Thirteen years, after all, is an almost-scandalous amount of time to wait for a sequel, both by Hollywood standards and life-expectancy standards: Matt Laing, a 26-year-old fan from Durham, N.C., saw the original half his life ago. In between, he watched the film a few times every year — and this fall, he joined Kelutral, a global organization for fans. Every day, the analytical chemist posts memes and jokes to the group’s Discord, and lately, he has been hyping up the other 2,000 members for the sequel’s release. He and another member he has befriended race to be the first to tag each other every day. “We’re like, ‘Eleven days to go.’ ‘Ten days to go,’” Laing says with a laugh….

(11) THE LAST OF P-22.  Damn. The mountain lion of Griffith Park was euthanized today. His injuries and medical problems meant he couldn’t even be saved for a nature preserve. “P-22, the celebrity mountain lion of Los Angeles, has died” – the Los Angeles Times reports the reasons for the decision, along with an extended profile and numerous photos.

The mountain lion P-22, who lived in the heart of Los Angeles for more than a decade and became the face of an international campaign to save Southern California’s threatened pumas, was euthanized Saturday because of several long-term health concerns and injuries that likely stemmed from being hit by a car, officials said.

In a tearful news conference, wildlife biologists described multiple chronic illnesses that may have contributed to the mountain lion’s recent uncharacteristic behavior. The big cat of Griffith Park was “compassionately euthanized” at about 9 a.m., officials said.

“This really hurts, and I know that,” said Chuck Bonham, director of the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. “It’s been an incredibly difficult several days. And for myself, I’ve felt the entire weight of the city of Los Angeles.”…

(12) POWELL’S PERSEVERES. CBS Mornings devoted a segment to Powell’s Books in Portland, OR – “Portland bookstore adapting with the times”.

Michelle Miller reports from Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon, a bookstore doing everything it can, despite online competition, to keep the experience of buying and reading books fresh.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Dariensync, Steven French, Olav Rokne, Jeff Smith, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 12/12/22 Pixels Roasting On An Open Scroll

(1) USA TODAY BESTSELLER LIST MISSING. The USA Today Bestseller List is going “on hiatus” because USA Today/Gannett laid off the long-time employee who created the list on her own every week. A Publishers Lunch report explains:

As part of significant layoffs at USA Today and Gannett, approximately 200 newsroom employees were let go at the beginning of December, including longtime editor of the USA Today Best-Selling Books list Mary Cadden. She produced the list since 2007. 

Kathleen Schmidt  explains the many reasons the USA Today list is valued by indie and romance authors. Thread starts here.

Some writers say they trust the USA Today list more than the NYT and other bestseller lists because it’s based on real sales numbers. USA Today publisher Gannett says there will be an update after the beginning of the year.

(2) WORKING ARTISTS PREFERRED. At Whatever, John Scalzi has changed his personal policy on using AI-generated art, and comments on its appearance on a book cover from a major publisher: “An Update On My Thoughts on AI-Generated Art”.

Tor, which is the publisher of my novels, is being called out for using AI-generated art on a book cover; it appears that they got it from a stock art house. Getting graphic elements from stock art to modify on covers is a common enough practice — including on my own most recent novel cover — but the fact stock art houses are now stocking up on AI-generated art (which they then sell, undercutting creators) is, to put it mildly, not great. It’s possible Tor didn’t know (or didn’t pay attention to) the fact the stock art was AI-generated, but that doesn’t make it better, it kind of makes it worse.

So, two things here:

1. I’ll be emphasizing to Tor (and other publishers) that I expect my covers to have art that is 100% human-derived, even if stock art elements are used;

2. For now I’m done with AI art in public settings. As much fun as it has been to play with, the fact it’s already migrating onto “Big Five” covers is troubling, and I think it’s more important to stand with and support visual artists than it is to show off things I’ve generated through prompts on social media….

(3) CHINA’S NEW AI-MEDIA POLICY. Meanwhile, Ars Technica is reporting China has instituted new regulations requiring AI-produced media be clearly identified. The regulations cover AI-generated images, video, audio/voice, and text. They are said to be intended to promote AI-generated art while simultaneously preventing deception by requiring watermarks and forbidding their removal: “China bans AI-generated media without watermarks”.

China’s Cyberspace Administration recently issued regulations prohibiting the creation of AI-generated media without clear labels, such as watermarks—among other policies—reports The Register. The new rules come as part of China’s evolving response to the generative AI trend that has swept the tech world in 2022, and they will take effect on January 10, 2023.

In China, the Cyberspace Administration oversees the regulation, oversight, and censorship of the Internet. Under the new regulations, the administration will keep a closer eye on what it calls “deep synthesis” technology….

Under the regulations, new deep synthesis products will be subject to a security assessment from the government. Each product must be found in compliance with the regulations before it can be released. Also, the administration particularly emphasizes the requirement for obvious “marks” (such as watermarks) that denote AI-generated content…

(4) DIAGRAM PRIZE. The Bookseller announced that the 2022 Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year was won by RuPedagogies of Realness: Essays on Teaching and Learning with RuPaul’s Drag Race, edited by Lindsay Bryde & Tommy Mayberry, claiming 39% of the popular vote. Finishing in second place: What Nudism Exposes: An Unconventional History of Postwar Canada. And in third place, Jane Austen and the Buddha: Teachers of Enlightenment.  

(5) HARPERCOLLINS STRIKER INTERVIEW. “Fresh Off the Picket Line with Rachel Kambury” is a free episode of the Creating a Print Run podcast on Laura Zats and Erik Hane’s Patreon.

This week we were lucky enough to have HarperCollins associate editor Rachel Kambury on the show, and we talked to her all about her union’s strike, what about their working conditions led them to this historic moment, and how the industry might change in light of this watershed moment in publishing-worker solidarity. We thought it was important for folks to hear directly from the HarperCollins workers, and we’re very grateful for Rachel joining us to talk about her experience firsthand.

(6) DEEP DIVE INTO HUNGARIAN SFF. Here’s an English-language article about “Hungarian Speculative Fiction: Forceful, Vicious, Viscous” by Austin Wagner at Hungarian Literature Online. It covers genre history in Hungary from pre-WWII to the present.

…As for a few writers whose names you should know who haven’t yet popped up, László Sepsi and Attila Veres are two I would highlight. You can see an excerpt from Sepsi’s novel Termőtestek (Fruiting Bodieshere, shortlisted for the 2022 Péter Zsoldos award, and Attila Veres published a new book this year, A valóság helyreállítása (The Restoration of Reality), a horror novel—rarer in Hungary than other spec fic sub-genres—that shares the name of his 2021 Zsoldos award-winning short story. Even more importantly for the non-Hungarians out there, Veres’ collection of horror short stories, The Black Maybe: Liminal Tales, is now available from Valancourt Books in Luca Karafiáth’s translation. Or if you’re looking for something that straddles the traditional line between genre fiction and “high” literature, you could look to Imre Bartók’s trilogy Virágba borult világvége (The Blossoming End of the World)—though be wary as to what you should expect, as Sándor Szélesi cautions in this extensive essay on spec fic—or any of the absurd, Hungarofuturist work of Márió Z. Nemes….

The Skulls in the Stars blog also gives a strong recommendation to Attila Veres in its review of his short story collection: “The Black Maybe, by Attila Veres”.

I first encountered the work of Attila Veres in the first volume of The Valancourt Book of World Horror Stories, which came out in late 2020. The series, now on volume 2, collects the best works of foreign horror authors from around the world, and brings their works together for an English speaking audience, often for the first time. The collection is fantastic all the way through, but the story of Hungarian author Attila Veres stood out to me as “one of the most impressively horrific and nasty things I’ve ever read.” Evidently many people agreed, because Valancourt Books has published the first English edition of the short stories of Attila Veres, The Black Maybe….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

2001 [By Cat Eldridge.]

Tonight for this Scroll we have a statue of another writer, the man who created Sherlock Holmes and other equally interesting characters such as Professor Challenger and humorous stories about the Napoleonic soldier Brigadier Gerard, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

In 1909 Doyle moved to Crowborough where he lived until his death in 1931. He built Windlesham Manor, a large house in which he wrote more novels. He was buried in his garden, but his wife had his remains moved into the family vault in 1935.

This bronze full-length statue of Arthur Conan Doyle is located on the corner of Beacon Road and London Road in Crowborough. 

The Conan Doyle Statue Trust was set up to raise funds for this Statue and with the financial help from the Town Council and other various donations, the statue now stands at Cloke’s Comer. 

Their Patron, Mrs. Georgina Doyle unveiled the Statue on April 14, 2001.

It was created by local sculptor David Cornell who is now eighty-seven and who had quite amazing artistic life.

The inscription on the front of its stone plinth reads: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Resident of Crowborough, 1907 – 193

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 12, 1944 Ginjer Buchanan, 78. Longtime Editor-in-Chief at Ace Books and Roc Books. She retired from Ace in 2014. She received a Hugo for Best Editor, Long Form at Loncon 3. She has a novel, White Silence, in the Highlander metaverse, and three short stories in anthologies edited by Mike Resnick. And she’s a Browncoat as she has an essay, “Who Killed Firefly?” in the Jane Espenson edited Finding Serenity: Anti-Heroes, Lost Shepherds and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon’s Firefly.
  • Born December 12, 1949 Bill Nighy, 73. He’s got a very, very long genre association staring with being an unnamed ENT physician in Curse of the Pink Panther. He was Martin Barton in The Phantom of the Opera, Edward Gardner in Fairy Tale: A True Story, Viktor In Underworld and Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, Philip in Shaun of the Dead, a hilarious Slartibartfast in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a quite unrecognizable-as-him Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Rufus Scrimgeour In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1… I’m stopping right before this get really long. Fortunately his television genre credits may be limited to an uncredited appearance in the “Vincent and the Doctor” episode of Dr. Who as Dr. Black.
  • Born December 12, 1956 Josepha Sherman. Writer and folklorist who was a Compton Crook Award winner for The Shining Falcon which was based on the Russian fairy tale The Feather of Finist the Falcon. She was a prolific writer both on her own and with other writers such as Mercedes Lackey with whom she wrote A Cast of Corbies, and two Buffyverse novels with Laura Anne Gilman. I knew her personally as a folklorist first and that she was without peer writing such works as Rachel the Clever: And Other Jewish Folktales and Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts: The Subversive Folklore of Childhood that she wrote with T K F Weisskopf.  Neat lady who died far too soon after falling on harsh circumstances. Let me leave you with an essay she wrote on Winter for Green Man some twenty-five years ago, “Josepha Sherman’s Winter Queen Speech”. (Died 2012,)
  • Born December 12, 1966 Hiromi Goto, 56. Winner of the Otherwise Award for The Kappa Child. She followed that with two more SFF novels, The Water of Possibility and Half WorldSystems Fail, the 2014 WisCon Guest of Honor publication, highlighted her work and that of N.K. Jemisin. Hopeful Monsters, her collection of early genre short fiction, is the only such work available digitally from her. Shadow Life, her graphic novel which may or not be genre, came out last year. 
  • Born December 12, 1970 Jennifer Connelly, 52. Her first genre outing wasn’t as Sarah Williams in Labyrinth, but rather in the decidedly more low-budget Italian horror film Phenomena.  She goes to be in The Rocketeer as Jenny Blake, and Dark City as Emma Murdoch / Anna, both great roles for her. I’m giving a pass to the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still which she was involved in and not saying anything about it. Alita: Battle Angel in which she’s Dr. Chiren scores decently with audiences. 
  • Born December 12, 1976 Tim Pratt, 46. I think his best work was his very first novel which was The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl but there’s no doubt that later work such as The Constantine AfflictionBone Shop and The Stormglass Protocol are equally superb. That’s not to overlook his short fiction which if you’ve not tried it you should, and I’d recommend Little Gods as a good place to start. His latest is the Twilight Imperium space opera series.
  • Born December 12, 1981 C.S. E. Cooney, 41. She won the Rhysling Award for “The Sea King’s Second Bride” and a World Fantasy Award for her Bone Swans collection. She has what appears to be a very short novel out, Desdemona and the Deep, published by Tor.com. The latter and her collection are available digitally on Apple Books, Kindle and Kobo. 

(9) EVOLUTION OF THE WRITING WORKSHOP. The Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust is promoting “Your Personal Odyssey Writing Workshop,” a new online educational program begun in 2022. The deadline to apply is March 13, 2023. More information about the workshop is available here.

YPO provides an intensive, one-on-one workshop experience, customized for each individual student. The program combines the renowned Odyssey lectures by top authors and editors, deep practice, expert feedback, and extensive mentorship with Odyssey director Jeanne Cavelos.

YPO was designed with the flexibility to make it possible for a wider range of writers to attend. The customized nature of the program also allows it to be much more effective in helping writers improve. Students are able to choose their own pace, taking the workshop over 6 weeks, 12 weeks, or 18 weeks; choose which writing topics they study and in what order; repeat a topic to delve deeper into content; and design individual assignments to address their writing weaknesses and build on their strengths.

For the twelve students admitted in 2023, six scholarships are available, including the Fresh Voices scholarship for an outstanding writer of color, and the Walter and Kattie Metcalf Singing Spider Scholarship for a fantasy novelist who shows great skill and promise.

(10) BRACE YOURSELF. “US scientists reach long-awaited nuclear fusion breakthrough, source says”: CNN reports there will be an official announcement on Tuesday.

For the first time ever, US scientists at the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California successfully produced a nuclear fusion reaction resulting in a net energy gain, a source familiar with the project confirmed to CNN.

The US Department of Energy is expected to officially announce the breakthrough Tuesday.

The result of the experiment would be a massive step in a decadeslong quest to unleash an infinite source of clean energy that could help end dependence on fossil fuels. Researchers for decades have attempted to recreate nuclear fusion – replicating the fusion that powers the sun.

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will make an announcement Tuesday on a “major scientific breakthrough,” the department announced Sunday. The breakthrough was first reported by the Financial Times….

(11) SEASON’S READINGS. Publishing Perspectives tells about project to bring a set of rare books online: “Digitizing Its ‘Christmas Books’: Cambridge University Press”.

…These are not Christmas books in the sense of titles themed on Christmas. They’re called the press’ Christmas books because they were given to industry associates and customers at Christmas, in no small part as promotional pieces.

In most cases, only some 100 copies were made of a single title, and all of them were given away to “friends in printing and publishing.”

This meant that Cambridge University Press itself didn’t have a complete set of these rare editions, the last of which was produced in 1973. Starting in 2014, the press has been working to pull together a complete set of its own, drawing on “a mixture of donations and detective work.”…

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Martin Short and Steve Martin in Saturday Night Live’s grotesquely funny “A Christmas Carol”. (Maybe I shouldn’t have given up on them in the middle of the opening monologue?)

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

Pixel Scroll 12/7/22 Pixels: What Are They Scrolling? Are They Scrolling Anything? Let’s Find Out!

(1) 2022 #BLACKSPECFIC. FIYAH has posted the 2022 #BlackSpecFic Report, an examination of the state of representation of Black authors within the speculative short fiction market published in 2021. This report was composed by L. D. Lewis and Nelson Rolon with sponsor support from the Carl Brandon Society, Diabolical Plots, and CatStone Books.

In the report, “a market is considered “successful” with regard to its publication of Black authors if their percentages are within 2% of the U.S. census reported Black population (13.6%)” —

Highlights

  • Of the 23 pro and semipro markets examined in all 2015-2017 studies, 11 showed an increase in publishing works by Black authors relative to their respective outputs.
  • While Black editors of short speculative fiction continue to represent a small portion of the field, nearly all of the surveyed markets who host a Black owner, editor, or guest editor made the “Most Successful (without reprints)” list. And those four publications (Anathema, Fantasy Magazine, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Uncanny Magazine) are responsible for 25.4% of the entire field’s Black-authored works.

The next report is slated for 2025.

(2) AUTHORS NOT GETTING PAID. In the Guardian, Joanne Harris states “Horribly low pay is pushing out my fellow authors – and yes, that really does matter”, and goes on to spotlight how bad things are.

…We arrive at what we imagined would be the creative heart of an industry, but it turns out to be a room full of slot machines. Some of us are lucky enough to feed the right slot at the right time and hit jackpots of varying sizes. Others bring their own luck to the room – they can afford to feed the slots regardless of what they get in return. But what about everyone else? Who can honestly afford to stay?

The trouble with luck is that it is not a reliable foundation for a profession. Nor is it a reliable way to run an industry. Yet here we are.

When the ALCS first ran its survey of author incomes in 2006 it found that the median self-employed income of a full-time author was £12,330. In 2022 – a year in which multiple publishers have posted record profits while freelancers in all professions are still reeling from the impact of Covid-19, Brexit and rising living costs – the median full-time income has fallen to £7,000. That’s a drop of more than 60% when accounting for inflation.

There is also a more worrying, granular luck at play. The gender pay gap is getting worse – men earn 41% more than women (compared with 33% five years ago). Payment for Black and mixed-heritage authors is a full 51% lower than for white authors. Young authors earn less, as do older ones. Fewer authors than ever are receiving advances…

(3) LOCUS INDIEGOGO AT 82%. With 8 days to go, the Locus Magazine Indiegogo appeal has raised $61,790 of its $75,000 goal.

(4) AMAZING KICKSTARTER FALLS SHORT. Despite attracting contributions from 114 backers, the Amazing Stories Kickstarter failed reports publisher Kermit Woodall. Only $3,330 was pledged towards the $13,000 goal.

I’m afraid Amazing Stories failed to meet its Kickstarter goal.  This means the SOL SYSTEM issue won’t be coming out as planned.  Kickstarter won’t take pledge money from backers. No worries!

We do still plan to have an online convention, I can’t promise all the same writers will attend, but it will be different and possibly better! More news as that develops.

…The special SOL SYSTEM issue won’t happen.

(5) GENRE ON STRIKE. The call is out for authors and readers to join the HarperCollins picket line on December 16. (Via John Scalzi.)

(6) IN COLLABORATION. “I See, Therefore You Are: PW Talks with Robert Lanza and Nancy Kress”, a Publishers Weekly Q&A.

Scientist Lanza conveys his theory that “the universe springs from life, not the other way around” in Observer (Story Plant, Jan.), a thriller coauthored with Kress.

How did you come to develop your theory of biocentrism?

Lanza: It goes back to when I was a young boy, when I used to explore the forests of eastern Massachusetts. I was observing nature and pondering the larger existential questions, and it occurred to me that the static objective view of reality that I was being taught just wasn’t right. The Nobel Prize was just awarded just a few months ago to three gentlemen whose experiments showed that entangled particles change behavior depending on whether you look at them or not. Why? The answer is that that reality is a process that involves our consciousness.

How did this partnership begin?

Kress: Our agent put us together, because Bob, who’s published several nonfiction books on biocentrism, wanted to embody his ideas in a novel.
I was intrigued by the project from the very beginning because I have always thought that consciousness is woven into the universe. What we wanted to write together was about how these ideas might inform a possible future. And we worked until we got something we were both happy with….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

2019 [By Cat Eldridge.] Rudyard Kipling statue 

So today is we’re looking at a quite new statue, that  of Rudyard Kipling which unveiled in Burwash just three years ago. Kipling as you know did The Jungle Booksand The Just Stories, plus two true pieces of SF in his Aerial Board of Control series, With the Night Mail and As Easy as A.B.C.: a Tale of 2159 A.D.

The fully life-size figure which is located on High Street shows Kipling,  who lived in the village, sitting on a bench also cast in bronze. Burwash Parish Council commissioned the piece in 2018 and it was created by local sculptor Victoria Atkinson.

Atkinson researched Kipling using archives at Bateman’s,  the Jacobean house which was the home of Rudyard Kipling, and the National Portrait Gallery with the Kipling Society providing details such as Kipling’s height and hat and shoe size.  Of course she needed a live model to actually create the statue so she used one of her neighbors who wore a thick suit of the type favored by Kipling as a model to get the look and pose of Kipling right.

Oh the book underneath the bench? It’s The Just So Stories

It was actually, to keep costs down, cast in Athens, Greece.

Now comes a really cool thing. The unveiling took place on February 25, 2019. So who did the unveiling? Why it was Mike Kipling, grandson of Rudyard Kipling! 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 7, 1915 Eli Wallach. I‘ve a fondness for anyone who appeared on the Sixties Batman series. He played Mr. Freeze in a two part story, the third actor to do as both George Sanders and Otto Preminger had done so in previous two part stories. He also had one-offs in Worlds BeyondAlfred Hitchcock PresentsVeritas: The Quest and Tales of the Unexpected. (Died 2014.)
  • Born December 7, 1923 Johnny Duncan. Was the Sixties Batman the first Batman series? You know better. Johnny here was Robin on Batman And Robin (1949) for Columbia Pictures Corporation. It ran for fifteen episodes of roughly fifteen or so minutes apiece. Robert Lowery was Wayne / Batman. He has only one other genre appearance, an uncredited one in Plan 9 from Outer Space as Second Stretcher Bearer. (Died 2016.)
  • Born December 7, 1915 Leigh Brackett. Let’s us praise her first for her Retro Hugo for Shadow Over Mars, originally published in the Fall 1944 issue of Startling Stories. Now surely her scripts for The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye are genre adjacent? Ok, I’m stretching it, I know.  Ok, then her very pulpy Sea-Kings of Mars is? Being rhetorical there. And I love her Eric John Stark stories! (Much of these were written with her husband Edmond Hamilton.) She completed The Empire Strikes Back script for George Lucas just before she died, and although it did not become the final script many of its elements made it into the movie and she received credit along with Lawrence Kasdan. (Died 1978.)
  • Born December 7, 1945 W.D. Richter, 77. As a screenwriter, he was responsible for Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Dracula, and Big Trouble In Little China, the latter one of my favorite popcorn films. As a director, he brought Late for Dinner and Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension to us. He was also co-writer with Stephen King on the adaptation of King’s Needful Things novel to film.
  • Born December 7, 1949 Tom Waits, 73. He’s got uncredited (but obviously known) roles in Wolfen and The Fisher King. He is in Bram Stoker’s Dracula as R.M. Renfield, and he shows up in Mystery Men as Doc Heller and in Mr.Nick in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. He’s simply Engineer in The Book of Eli
  • Born December 7, 1953 Madeleine E Robins, 69. I’m very fond of her Sarah Tolerance series which starts often Point of Honour, it features a female PI in an alternate version of Georgian London. The Stone War set in a post-apocalyptic NYC is quite interesting as well, and she has quite a bit short fiction, though only three have been collected so far in Lucstones: Three Tales of Meviel. Much of her fiction is available from the usual digital suspects.
  • Born December 7, 1973 Kelly Barnhill, 49. Her The Girl Who Drank the Moon novel was awarded the Newbery Medal and she was a McKnight Writing Fellow in Children’s Literature. Four years ago, her “Unlicensed Magician” novella received the World Fantasy Award for Long Fiction. Iron Hearted Violet was nominated as Andre Norton Award. 
  • Born December 8, 1979 Jennifer Carpenter, 43. Ok, usually I pay absolutely no attention to TV awards, but she got a nomination for her work as Emily Rose in The Exorcism of Emily Rose. It was the MTV Movie Award for Best Scared-As-Shit Performance. It later got renamed to Best Frightened Performance. She’s apparently only got two other genre credits, both voice work. One is as Black Widow in Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher which is a horridly-done anime film that I do not recommend; the other is as Selina Kyle aka Catwoman in Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, the animated version of the Mike Mignola Elseworld series which I strongly recommend. Possibly the Limitless series she was in is genre, possibly it isn’t…

(9) BRACKETT BIRTHDAY SUGGESTION. Bill Higgins— Beam Jockey – thinks this would be most appropriate.

(10) ENTERPRISING LAWYERS. This legal advertisement is making the rounds in social media.

Evidently the “Shaw-Louvois” firm name is appropriate for Trek because in the 1967 Original Series episode Court Martial Lt. Areel Shaw prosecutes Captain Kirk, and in ST:TNG Phillipa Louvois is a member of Starfleet’s Judge Advocate General branch who has to rule on the rights of Lt. Cmdr. Data in “The Measure of a Man.”

(11) CANCEL THOSE KILLER ROBOTS. Gizmodo reports “San Francisco Votes Down Killer Robots After Fierce Backlash”.

In a hasty retreat, San Francisco lawmakers have reversed a vote allowing local police to use remote-controlled robots equipped with lethal explosives in extreme situations. The move comes after a wave of backlash from the community and activist organizations.

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted 8-3 Tuesday on a revised version of the policy, which now prohibits police from using robots to kill people. Tuesday’s vote was a surprise turn of events after the board approved the policy last week, including a clause allowing for the lethal bots. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, the board rarely changes its mind on second round votes, which are typically seen as formalities. However, since the first vote on Nov. 29, the policy has received a wide range of criticism both locally and nationally. Lawmakers will debate the issue for another week before voting on yet another version of the policy next week….

Cat Eldridge is skeptical: “So the Terminators lost this first skirmish against humanity. But to paraphrase Arnold‘s character in the first Terminator film, ‘They’ll be back.’” 

(12) GOOD LORD. “Figgy Pudding | SPAM® Brand”. Eh, so the main ingredient is still pork? Then shouldn’t this be Piggy Pudding?

(13) HOT DAGNABIT. Here’s an NPR segment and another article on this important topic: “Swear words across languages may have more in common than previously thought”.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

There’s a common trope in sci fi when characters curse.

RYAN MCKAY: I watched “Mork & Mindy” when I was growing up.

CHANG: That’s psychologist Ryan McKay. He’s, of course, talking about a sitcom that starred a young Robin Williams as an extraterrestrial named Mork.

MCKAY: He would often cry out shazbot when he would, you know, stub his toe or bang his head or something….

Inverse ran an article about the same study: “Scientists want to know why swear words share this one universal trait”. And unlike NPR, they didn’t bury the lede:

…Rather than present the perfect ingredients for a swear, this study identifies something that all swear words seem to lack. Across languages, swear words tend to exclude sounds like l, r, and w, known as approximants.

If you’re like me, then the first thing you did was scour your brain for exceptions to the rule (and “asshole” was the first one that came to mind, followed by “wanker”). This isn’t to say that swear words wholesale lack these phonemes, but statistically speaking, curses across different languages are less likely to contain approximants….

(14) THIRTY. Open Culture introduces “The 30 Greatest Films Ever Made: A Video Essay” by Lewis Bond from his Youtube channel The Cinema Cartography. Three genre films make Bond’s top 10.

… You may not feel exactly the same as Bond does about both My Dinner with Andre and the Lord of the Rings trilogy (a rare dual enthusiasm in any case), but seeing where he places them in relation to other movies can help to give you a sense of whether and how they could fit into your own personal canon — as well as the kind of context a film needs to earn its place…

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Via DUST, JJ Pollack’s sci-fi short film Jettison.

A restless young woman ships off to fight an interstellar war, only to struggle with the effects of being cut off from her home by both time and space.

(16) DEFINITELY NOT TODAY’S SCROLL TITLE. By Daniel Dern:

Scrollomon Grundry
Filed On Sunday
Posted On Monday
Notified On Tuesday
Clicked On Wednesday
Commented On Thursday
Fifth’ed On Friday
Stalked On Saturday
This is the lifecycle of
Scrollomon Grundy

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

Pixel Scroll 12/6/22 But Here’s My Pixel, So Scroll Me, Maybe?

(1) HARPERCOLLINS STRIKE NEWS. HarperCollins president and CEO Brian Murray, in “An Open Letter to Authors and Agents”, today addressed the company’s stalled negotiations with the United Auto Workers union which represents employees whose strike is now in its 19th day.

… Our current compensation offerings are consistent with our peers in the publishing industry. During recent negotiations, we proposed a fair and reasonable pay structure, including increases to entry level salaries. Based on publicly available information, HarperCollins’s proposed compensation increases would provide for a higher starting salary than any other major New York publisher. As well, we offer a minimum of six and a half weeks paid time off for all full-time employees (increasing with tenure), four “work from anywhere” weeks, overtime pay for those qualifying, and generous health and wellness benefits.

As with the entire industry, HarperCollins continues to contend with ongoing challenges to publishing and its underlying economics. The financial requests made by United Auto Workers, which are many and far reaching, fail to account for the market dynamics of the publishing industry and our responsibility to meet the financial demands of all our business stakeholders—including all employees, authors, and booksellers….

(2) PICKETER SPEAKS. Striking HarperCollins employee Rye White tells readers what’s going on in “HarperCollins Strike Dispatch” at N+1.

… Leading up to this year’s strike, the anxiety and frustration from union members toward the company was palpable even over video meetings and emails. HarperCollins still largely operates remotely (although good old Brian has since issued a mandate to change this), and it’s generally difficult when you work from your own living space to feel fully connected to the whole. Many people, myself included, are pandemic hires. We’ve seldom, if ever, actually come down to work in the office. Even so, our union’s organizing committee met with nearly every individual member for one-on-one chats about questions and concerns, and we were greeted with an enormous amount of careful consideration. What do we do if bosses pressure us to write out instructions for how to handle our everyday tasks? What will happen to our authors? Each of us understood the power in this decision. When it came time to vote, out of 200 or so members, more than 190 voted to authorize.

The first two days of the strike, we asked anyone who could make the commute to come down to 195 Broadway for maximum turnout and maximum noise. In the last two weeks, I’ve met many of my coworkers for the first time, put faces to names I’d only ever seen over email, and have learned about many people’s personal struggles and motivations and frustrations. “I feel closer to you all than ever before,” one picket captain noted in a recent weekly debrief meeting. “This is definitely a weird time, but I feel the camaraderie and it’s really meaningful.”…

(3) AUREALIS AWARDS. The deadline for entering work for the Aurealis Awards, Australia’s premier speculative fiction awards, is December 14.

All work published (or planned for publication) between January 1 and December 31, 2022 needs to be entered by this deadline. Enter your Australian speculative fiction work in the Aurealis Awards here.

(4) IN FRIGHTENING TECHNICOLOR. Headlining “Heritage’s Most Star-Studded Entertainment Auction Ever” is “The Wicked Witch of the West Hourglass — the Most Famous and Recognizable Timepiece in Film History.” They’re looking for an opening bid of $400,000.

….Three decades since it was last offered at auction, and after years of being displayed in myriad museums and traveling exhibitions – including Los Angeles Public Library’s Getty Gallery – it’s time once again for The Wicked Witch of the West’s hourglass to return to market. This meticulously constructed piece – made of wood, papier-mâché and handblown glass filled with red glitter and decorated with gargoyles keeping watch over the witch’s castle – is perhaps the most recognizable timepiece in cinema history. It is the very instrument the Wicked Witch uses to count down the moments Dorothy has to live – a beautiful thing no matter the moment, and forever linked to some of our earliest Technicolor nightmares.

The hourglass, which stands nearly two feet tall, was first available as part of MGM’s landmark 1970 auction, among “the things dreams were once made of.” The studio actually reused the prop a handful of times after its appearance in Oz, including in 1941’s Babes on Broadway – starring, amazingly enough, Judy Garland alongside Mickey Rooney in the Busby Berkeley-directed “Backyard Musical” (with Vincente Minnelli helming his wife’s sequences)….

(5) RAY BRADBURY SQUARE. Ten years ago today the intersection near L.A. library was named for Ray Bradbury. Read all about it in John King Tarpinian’s 2012 post “A Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood”. Plus photos, including this one of the official sign.

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1938 [By Cat Eldridge.] Mother Goose in Central Park

Continuing our exploration of characters from the fantasy genre is our look at the Mother Goose statue in Central Park.

The figure of Mother Goose is the imaginary author of a collection of French fairy tales and later of English nursery rhymes. Mother Goose in English dates back to the early Eighteenth Century, when Charles Perrault’s Contes de ma Mère l’Oye fairy tale collection was first translated into English as Tales of My Mother Goose. English writers quickly created their own collections of Mother Goose tales.

This granite statue by Frederick Roth, installed at the entrance to Rumsey Playfield in Central Park in 1938, shows a woman flying atop a goose. She has a pointy hat, purse, cloak, buckled shoe, and one very unhappy-looking cat riding the clouds.

Several other nursery rhyme characters are carved into its sides from five of the Mother Goose stories — Humpty Dumpty, Old King Cole, Little Jack Horner, Mother Hubbard, and Mary and her little lamb. I’m only going to show you the flying woman atop a goose and the cat as I think it’s the best part of the statue.

The Park went on to commission two more such statues, Alice in Wonderland and Hans Christian Andersen and the Ugly Duckling.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 6, 1893 Sylvia Townsend Warner. Do yourself a favor and look up a bio of her as she’s a fascinating person. This lovely site is a good place to do so. Her first novel, Lolly Willowes or, The Loving Huntsman, is definitely genre. ISFDB lists four genre collections by her. Kingdoms of Elfin is available on on Kindle Kindle, Lolly Willowes everywhere the usual suspects are. (Died 1978.)
  • Born December 6, 1900 Agnes Moorehead. I’m assuming that the statute of limitations for spoilers has long passed on this particular show. I’m referring to The Twilight Zone episode “The Invaders” in which she never spoke a word as she fought off the tiny Invaders, human astronauts, and she a giant alien. Written especially for her by Richard Matheson. (Died 1974.)
  • Born December 6, 1924 Wally Cox. Ok, who can resist the voice of the Underdog series which ran from 1964 to 1967? I certainly can’t. He was in Babes in ToylandThe Twilight ZoneMission: ImpossibleLost in SpaceGet SmartThe Girl from U.N.C.L.E.QuarantinedNight Gallery and Once Upon a Mattress. Warning: anything with him in it on YouTube or Vimeo is still under copyright so please don’t link to it. (Died 1973.)
  • Born December 6, 1953 Tom Hulce, 69. Oscar-nominated screen and stage actor and producer. His first genre role was in a highly-praised performance as the lead in the American Playhouse broadcast of The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket, about a young boy who discovers that he can fly. Although the bulk of his career has been in the theater, his most notable genre film role was as Henry Clerval in Kenneth Branagh’s Saturn-nominated Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. He was nominated for an Annie Award for his voice performance of Quasimodo in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and appeared in the films Stranger than Fiction and Jumper.
  • Born December 6, 1957 Arabella Weir, 65. A performer with two Who appearances, the first in “Exile,” a Big Finish audio, released in 2003. Almost a decade later Weir appeared on screen as Billis in “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe”, a superb Eleventh Doctor story. She’s had one-offs on genre and genre adjacent series such as Shades of DarknessGenie in the HouseRandall & Hopkirk (Deceased) and even a genre adjacent Midsomer Murders
  • Born December 6, 1962 Colin Salmon, 60. Definitely best known for his role as Charles Robinson in the Bond films Tomorrow Never DiesThe World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day. He played Dr. Moon in “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead”, Tenth Doctor stories, and was Walter Steele on Arrow. He most recently played General Zod on Krypton He was, alas, Ben in that clunker of films, Mortal Engines.
  • Born December 6, 1969 Torri Higginson, 53. I had forgotten that she had a role in the TekWar movies and series as Beth Kittridge. I like that series a lot. Of course, she portrayed Dr. Elizabeth Weir in one episode of Stargate SG-1 and the entire Stargate Atlantis series. Her most recent genre roles was as Dr. Michelle Kessler in Inhuman Condition, where she plays a therapist who focuses on supernatural patients, and Commander Delaney Truffault in the Dark Matter series. 

(8) COMIC SECTION.

  • Sure, Thanksgiving is over, but Herman has another reason not to decorate for Christmas yet.

(9) REALITY OVERTAKES SCIENCE FICTION. ScreenRant lists “10 Pieces Of Technology Where Reality Did Better Than The Movies, According To Reddit”.

It’s been over half a century since science fiction’s golden age of the ’60s and ’70s, and a lot of the movie technology that initially seemed advanced at the time now seems woefully out of date. Today’s reality has surpassed what was once thought of as science fiction and Redditors have come together to discuss some of the examples they think are the most blatant…

For one example:

User Interface

User interface is one of the most complicated fields in technology. They can often be visually striking, but they’re chiefly made to be easily navigated. Movies don’t really get this. As Redditor YZJay comments, UI shown in movies is “hilariously unusable in terms of design, low contrast, weak indicators of what are interactive, waaaay too much animations etc.”

UI in movies animate far too much to be useful, and they have too many transitions and sparkly effects. As mentioned, ease of navigation is the priority and the UI in movies is usually way too complicated or patience-testing to use. It makes one thankful for more basic, minimalist designs.

(10) SHRUNKEN EDS. Open Culture remembers “The Fiske Reading Machine: The 1920s Precursor to the Kindle”.

The Sony Librie, the first e-reader to use a modern electronic-paper screen, came out in 2004. Old as that is in tech years, the basic idea of a handheld device that can store large amounts of text stretches at least eight decades farther back in history. Witness the Fiske Reading Machine, an invention first profiled in a 1922 issue of Scientific American. “The instrument, consisting of a tiny lens and a small roller for operating this eyepiece up and down a vertical column of reading-matter, is a means by which ordinary typewritten copy, when photographically reduced to one-hundredth of the space originally occupied, can be read with quite the facility that the impression of conventional printing type is now revealed to the unaided eye,” writes author S. R. Winters.

Making books compatible with the Fiske Reading Machine involved not digitization, of course, but miniaturization. According to the patents filed by inventor Bradley Allen Fiske (eleven in all, between 1920 and 1935), the text of any book could be photo-engraved onto a copper block, reduced ten times in the process, and then printed onto strips of paper for use in the machine, which would make them readable again through a magnifying lens….. 

(11) WILL WORK FOR APPLAUSE. Here’s what we’ve got to have: “Star Wars (‘The Mandalorian’) The Child Talking Clapper with Night Light”. (See video demo on YouTube.)

From Star Wars Mandalorian it’s The Child Clapper with Night Light! Known as “Baby Yoda” to fans, The Child Clapper is the cutest way to operate an appliance with two claps. Clap 3 times to turn on the night light and hear quotes from the show. Hear, “The kid is coming with me” when the night light is turned on and “Come on baby, do the magic hand thing” when it’s turned off. 

(12) THE HOLE WORLD IN HIS HANDS. “Physicists Create ‘the Smallest, Crummiest Wormhole You Can Imagine’” for reasons explained by the New York Times. It’s a simulation, not the real thing, however.

…In their report, published Wednesday in Nature, the researchers described the result in measured words: “This work is a successful attempt at observing traversable wormhole dynamics in an experimental setting.”

… The wormhole that Dr. Spiropulu and her colleagues created and exploited is not a tunnel through real physical space but rather through an “emergent” two-dimensional space. The “black holes” were not real ones that could swallow the computer but lines of code in a quantum computer. Strictly speaking, the results apply only to a simplified “toy model” of a universe — in particular, one that is akin to a hologram, with quantum fields on the edge of space-time determining what happens within, sort of in the way that the label on a soup can describes the contents….

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Emergency Awesome delivers a “Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special FULL Breakdown, Marvel Easter Eggs and Things You Missed”.

The special went live (on Disney+) during Thanksgiving weekend. Daniel Dern says, “We finally watched it last night; a lotta fun. It’s also worthwhile to then watch one of the ‘abouts’ for more on the lesser-known characters, in-jokes, cameos, and implications for the Marvel movie universe.”

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

Pixel Scroll 11/10/22 What the Pixels Need Now Is Scroll, Sweet Scroll

(1) HARPERCOLLINS UNION EMPLOYEES STRIKE. “HarperCollins Workers Strike for Better Pay and Benefits” – the New York Times has the story.

Unionized employees at HarperCollins went on strike Thursday, saying they planned to stop working until they reached an agreement on a new contract.

The HarperCollins union represents about 250 employees in editorial, publicity, sales, marketing, legal and design. In a statement, the union said its members, who have been working without a contract since April, wanted better family leave benefits and higher pay.

Olga Brudastova, the president of Local 2110 of the U.A.W., which represents unionized HarperCollins employees, said that the union had decided to go on an indefinite strike after negotiations with the company stalled. The union is proposing that HarperCollins raise the minimum starting salary to $50,000, from $45,000. It has also demanded that the company address the lack of diversity in its work force.

Publishing has long been a low paying industry with long hours for its entry and midlevel employees, and it is based in New York, a very expensive city. It is also an overwhelmingly white industry, and many in the industry feel the low pay is part of what makes diversifying the industry difficult.

A recent report from PEN America, a free speech organization, said that according to company data, 74 percent of employees at Penguin Random House were white last of year, as were more than 70 percent of employees at Macmillan and about 65 percent of employees at Hachette. Those concentrations were even higher among senior managers.

Some employees joining the strike said that they hoped their collective action would also drive changes across the industry.

(2) THE COSPLAY CANDIDATE. Looked at from a certain viewpoint – as Vice is doing — the Georgia Senate election has been forced into a runoff because Libertarian Party candidate Chase Oliver pulled votes away from one of the other candidates (your choice of which one). “This Guy Just Threw the Senate Election Into Chaos From His Basement”.

… Asked whether he just upended the entire Senate election from his basement for less than the price of a used car, Oliver casually agreed. 

“Yeah, you could say that,” he said. “And, good on me, I guess. You, too, can do this.” 

Oliver racked up over 81,000 votes, according to the official tally. That’s more than twice the gap between the two main candidates. Warnock led on Wednesday afternoon with about 1,941,000 votes, compared to roughly 1,906,000 for Walker.

That wafer-thin margin means Oliver’s supporters could swing the runoff, too, if they all get behind one candidate. Their choice will be Warnock, a pastor at the church where Martin Luther King Jr. preached; or Walker, a football star with a stormy personal life, endorsed by former President Donald Trump…. 

And Oliver has some fan credentials, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution profile published in September: “Chase Oliver could send Georgia’s Senate race to a runoff – he’s OK with that”.

Chase Oliver loves to dress up for Dragon Con, the fantasy and science-fiction convention held over Labor Day weekend in Atlanta. He prefers villains. One year he came as the Riddler; another as the Norse god Loki.

But this year, Oliver, 37, is playing a different role altogether on a much different stage. As the Libertarian candidate for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, he may be the spoiler.

In the neck-and-neck contest between Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker, Oliver might peel off enough votes to send the nationally watched race into a runoff. That would translate into four more weeks of campaigning and millions more dollars in spending for a contest already expected to be among the costliest and most consequential in the nation.

Oliver is OK with that.

“The voters send this to a runoff. I don’t,” he said in an interview. “If one of the candidates can’t get 50% plus one of the vote, they don’t deserve to win.”

(3) DEPARTURE LOUNGE. There are probably many such announcements being made, I just happened to see this one.

(4) EKPEKI’S WFC ACCEPTANCE SPEECH. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki has posted on Facebook and his YouTube channel two videos of his World Fantasy Award, Best Anthology, acceptance speech. The first from the WFC has audience reactions muted. A second one taken from the audience is slightly less clear but has audible audience reactions.  

(5) PLAY LONG AND PROSPER. The idea of it may be more entertaining than the actual account, still, you may enjoy reading about “When Jimi Hendrix met Spock: the incredible story of the guitar legend’s encounter with a sci-fi icon” at Guitar World.

…And then there is the “Mind-Meld Experience,” the day that Jimi, a renowned traveler through space, time and dimension, encountered Nimoy, another astral musical voyager. 

Here, then, is WKYC Radio disc jockey Chuck Dunaway’s fascinating account of a wild night with Jimi and Leonard Nimoy in Cleveland on March 25, 1968. It is Chuck D.’s story of that day, illustrated with a few rare artifacts, some of which I published in the March 1988 Guitar World [Special Collectors’ Edition: Hendrix Lives! Tribute to a Genius] and others from Chuck’s personal archives….

(6) DAW’S TAD WILLIAMS ACQUISITIONS. Betsy Wollheim, Publisher at DAW Books, has acquired North American rights to two fantasy books by Tad Williams, represented by Matt Bialer at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates.

The first of the two books, scheduled for Fall 2024, is The Splintered Sun. Set in Williams’ beloved and well-known fantasy world of Osten Ard, The Splintered Sun follows the adventures of Robin Hood-esque figure Flann Alderwood and his band of misfit rebels in one of Osten Ard’s oldest and strangest cities, Crannhyr.

The Splintered Sun is a fast-moving adventure that will thrill newcomers diving into the world of Osten Ard for the first time, while weaving together many parts of previously unrevealed Osten Ard history for all the readers who are eager to delve into the pre-Dragonbone Chair history of Hernystir and Erkynland.

The Splintered Sun will be published by DAW Books in Fall 2024.

(7) THEY’RE FASH, AND I’M FURIOUS. [Item by Olav Rokne.] A few of us at the Hugo Book Club Blog have been musing about what the depiction of fascist empires in space-based science fiction tells us about the popular conception of what it means to be “nazi.” There’s often a lack of engagement in pop culture with the question of what “fascism” actually means, which unfortunately probably makes it easier for real-world fascists to peddle their wretched ideology. (The blog post title is a reference to a classic 1987 Trauma movie about neo-nazis on surfboards.) “Space Nazis Must Die”.

Nazis should be opposed wherever they exist: on the battlefield, at the ballot box, in the streets, and across the tenebrous depths of interstellar space. As such, depicting villains as Nazis — and therefore Nazism as villainous — has value. But depiction without engaging with the premises of motivation is lacking.

(8) GILLER PRIZE. The 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner was announced November 7. The Prize is a celebration of Canadian literary talent. It went to the non-genre novel The Sleeping Car Porter by Suzette Mayr.

There had been two works of genre interest on the shortlist, Kim Fu’s story collection Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century, and Sheila Heti’s Pure Colour.

(9) GOODREADS CHOICE. The opening round for the 2022 Goodreads Choice Awards begins November 15.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1932 [By Cat Eldridge.] One of the earlier Sherlock Holmes films is Conan Doyle’s Master Detective Sherlock Holmes which it’s ninetieth anniversary this year. It came sixteen years after the first such film, Sherlock Holmes, was released.

It was an American pre-Code film starring Clive Brook as the eponymous London detective. It was not based directly off the writings of Doyle but on the very successful Sherlock Holmes stage play by William Gillette. 

Gillette was a manager of actors, a playwright, and stage-manager in that era. He is best remembered for portraying Sherlock Holmes on stage and in a 1916 silent film thought to be lost until it was rediscovered in 2014 which I essayed about here.

The 1932 film was directed by William K. Howard for the Fox Film Corporation. Brook had played Holmes previously in The Return of Sherlock Holmes and the “Murder Will Out” segment of Paramount on Parade.

The story here in brief is that Holmes is pulled away from retirement with his fiancée when the condemned Moriarty escapes from prison and swears vengeance.

Interestingly Reginald Owen plays Dr. Watson, and Ernest Torrence is Holmes’s arch-rival, Professor Moriarty. Reginald Owen played Sherlock Holmes the following year in A Study in Scarlet.

Owen is but a very one of a small number of performers ever that have performed the roles of Holmes and Watson. 

It includes Jeremy Brett, who played Watson on stage in the United States and, of course, Holmes later on, Carleton Hobbs, who did both roles in British radio adaptations, and Patrick Macnee, who did both roles in US television movies.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 10, 1889 Claude Rains. Actor whose first genre role was as Dr. Jack Griffin in the 1933 film The Invisible Man. He would go on to play Jacob Marley in Scrooge, Prince John in The Adventures of Robin Hood, Sir John Talbot in The Wolf Man, and Erique in The Phantom of the Opera. (Died 1967.)
  • Born November 10, 1924 Russell Johnson. Best known in what is surely genre for being Professor Roy Hinkley in Gilligan’s Island. His genre career started off with four Fifties films, It Came from Outer Space, This Island Earth, Attack of the Crab Monsters and The Space Children. He would later appear in both the Twilight Zone and Outer Limits. On ALF, he would appear as Professor Roy Hinkley in “Somewhere Over the Rerun”.  (Died 2014)
  • Born November 10, 1943 Milt Stevens. Today is indeed his Birthday. On the day File 770 announced his unexpected passing OGH did a wonderful post and y’all did splendid commentary about him, so I’ll just send you over there. (Died 2017.)
  • Born November 10, 1946 Jack Ketchum. Writer who was mentored by Robert Bloch, horror writer par excellence. Winner of four Bram Stoker Awards, he was given a World Horror Convention Grand Master Award for outstanding contribution to the horror genre. I’ll admit I’m not sure that I’ve read him, so I’ll leave it up to the rest of you to say which works by him are particularly, errr, horrifying. Oh, and he wrote the screenplays for a number of his novels, in all of which he quite naturally performed. (Died 2018.)
  • Born November 10, 1950 Wesley Dean Smith, 72. Editor of Pulphouse magazine, about which fortunately Black Gate has provided us with a fascinating history which you can read herePulphouse I first encountered when I collected the works of Charles de Lint who was in issue number eight way back in the summer issue of 1990. As a writer, he is known for his use of licensed properties such as StarTrekSmallvilleAliensMen in Black, and Quantum Leap. He is also known for a number of his original novels, such as the Tenth Planet series written in collaboration with his wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch. 
  • Born November 10, 1960 Neil Gaiman, 62. Where to start? By far, Neverwhere is my favorite work by him followed by the Sandman series and Stardust. And I sort maybe possibly kind of liked American GodsCoraline is just creepy. By far, I think his best script is Babylon 5’s “Day of The Dead” though his Doctor Who episodes, “The Doctor’s Wife” and “Nightmare in Silver” are interesting, particularly the former. 
  • Born November 10, 1971 Holly Black, 51. Best known for her Spiderwick Chronicles, which were created with fellow writer and illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi, and for the Modern Faerie Tales YA trilogy.  Her first novel was Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale. (It’s very, very good.) There have been two sequels set in the same universe. The first, Valiant, won the first Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.  Doll Bones which is really, really creepy was awarded a Newbery Honor and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award.  Suffice it to say if you like horror, you’ll love her. 
  • Born November 10, 1989 Aliette de Bodard, 33. Author of the oh-so-excellent Xuya Universe series. Her Xuya Universe novella “The Tea Master and the Detective” won a Nebula Award and a British Fantasy Award, and was nominated for the Hugo and World Fantasy Award. “The Shipmaker”, also set herein, won a BSFA Award for Best Short Fiction. Her other major series is The Dominion of the Fallen which is equally lauded. More Hugos noms?  Oh yes indeed. LoneStarCon3 saw her nominated both for her oh so amazing “On a Red Station, Drifting” novella and her “Immersion” short story; Loncon 3 for her “The Waiting Stars” novelette (a Nebula winner); “Children of Thorns, Children of Water” novelette nominated at Worldcon 76; at Dublin2019, In a Vanishers’ Palace was nominated as was the ever so stellar The Tea Master and The Detective novella (a Nebula winner), a favorite of mine ever more; DisCon III saw another novelette, “The Inaccessibility of Heaven”, nominated . And this year, her most excellent Fireheart Tiger novella was up for a Hugo.

(12) MARVEL REVEALS ITS 2023 FREE COMIC BOOK DAY TITLES. In 2023, Free Comic Book Day will lure customers to their local comic shops on May 6. Here are Marvel’s four giveaway titles. For more information, visit Marvel.com.

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2023: AVENGERS/X-MEN #1 features a pair of all-new stories that set the stage for the next evolution in mutant adventures, FALL OF X, and introduces an uncanny new lineup for a new team book launching next year. Plus a preview of Jonathan Hickman and Valerio Schiti’s upcoming mystery project.

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2023: SPIDER-MAN/VENOM #1 will web-sling readers into the exciting developments currently taking place in Zeb Wells and John Romita Jr.’s hit run of Amazing Spider-Man and lay the groundwork for the SUMMER OF SYMBIOTES. Plus a preview of new Marvel epic just on the horizon.

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2023: MARVEL’S VOICES #1 invites readers to the groundbreaking and critically acclaimed Marvel’s Voices series, which spotlights creators and characters across Marvel’s diverse and ever-evolving universe. The book will include a range of stories from previous Marvel’s Voices issues as well a brand-new one!

 And last but certainly not least, FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2023: SPIDEY & FRIENDS #1 is back! Swing into adventure with Spidey, Ghost-Spider, and Miles as they face off against Green Goblin, Doc Ock and more in this spectacular special. Filled with easy-to-read comic stories based on the hit Disney Junior show, this book is perfect for the youngest readers aged 5-7. Young fans will even be able to test their wall-crawling skills with thrilling interactive activity pages! Kids will love this not-to-be-missed comic: the perfect primer for the newest generation of Spider-Fans!

 (13) OCTOTHORPE. John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty are back with episode 70 of the Octothorpe podcast —  “Oh”.

We read your lovely letters before talking about a bunch of news, including the Clarke Awards, Pemmi-Con, the Chengdu Worldcon, World Fantasy Con 2025, and Novacon.

(14) A QUESTION. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Question: Do authors get paid (reasonably) for special-press/signed editions of their books?

(In some Facebook Groups I’m following) I’m seeing special collector/collectible editions of books with a mix of additional content (essays, art, etc.), print quality (nicer paper, leather-bound, bound-by-hand, etc), and limited-edition indicia (numbered, signed-by-author)… priced often in the hundreds of dollars.

I have no doubt that the price reflects the work and materials… my question is, are authors getting a reasonable piece of the action? (Particularly when they’d put in the time to sign.)

(15) GRINCHWORMS. It’s understandable you wouldn’t be looking for Easter Eggs in a Grinch movie, but they’re there: “15 details you probably missed in ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’” at Yahoo! For example —

…There are lots of fun architectural features in Whoville, including an elephant statue that seems to be a reference Dr. Seuss’ “Horton Hears a Who.”

In his story, the titular elephant saves the city of Whoville (which exists on a tiny speck of dust), so it makes sense that they’d have a statue for him in the town.

Jim Carrey also voiced both the Grinch and Horton in film adaptations of the stories….

(16) CHANGE IS COMING. Deadline heralds plan by “Universal Orlando To Shut Down Five Attractions To Make Room For New Family Entertainment Based On ‘Beloved Animated Characters’” – whatever they may be.

Universal Orlando Resort today announced the closing of at least five attractions to make way for what it termed “new family entertainment.” Fievel’s Playland, Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster, Curious George Goes to Town, DreamWorks Destination and Shrek and Donkey’s Meet & Greet will permanently close at end of day on January 15 203, according to an announcement posted to the resort’s Twitter page.

… Universal confirmed in March that its Orlando Resort will be getting a Super Nintendo World sometime after a same-named area opens at the L.A. park,. That is scheduled for early next year. But, according to permit filings reportedly obtained by the Park Stop blog, the Florida Super Nintendo World appears to be a part of the vast new Epic Universe park being built in Orlando.

Some educated guesses about what will fill the space include a possible Pokémon attraction, or concepts based on DreamWorks or Illumination IP such as Trolls or The Secret Life of Pets — Illumination’s Minions already have their own zone coming next year. Universal promised more details “in the months ahead.”

(17) UNDERWATER DISCOVERY. “Section of destroyed shuttle Challenger found on ocean floor” reports Yahoo!

A large section of the destroyed space shuttle Challenger has been found buried in sand at the bottom of the Atlantic, more than three decades after the tragedy that killed a schoolteacher and six others.

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center announced the discovery Thursday.

“Of course, the emotions come back, right?” said Michael Ciannilli, a NASA manager who confirmed the remnant’s authenticity. When he saw the underwater video footage, “My heart skipped a beat, I must say, and it brought me right back to 1986 … and what we all went through as a nation.”

It’s one of the biggest pieces of Challenger found in the decades since the accident, according to Ciannilli, and the first remnant to be discovered since two fragments from the left wing washed ashore in 1996.

Divers for a TV documentary first spotted the piece in March while looking for wreckage of a World War II plane. NASA verified through video a few months ago that the piece was part of the shuttle that broke apart shortly after liftoff on Jan. 28, 1986. All seven on board were killed, including the first schoolteacher bound for space, Christa McAuliffe….

(18) ASTROCLICKBAIT. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Physicist and professor of particle physics Brian Cox explains whether the big bang theory is wrong. Despite major scientific discoveries that provide strong support for the Big Bang theory, there´s been a viral paper spreading over the Internet lately which says that the James Webb Space Telescope has refuted the theory. This has led many to think that our understanding of the Big Bang may be wrong. Could this really be the case? Is the James Webb telescope rewriting fundamental theories of the cosmos?

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

Pixel Scroll 9/27/22 You’re Telling Me A Pixel Filed This Scroll?

(1) UP ALL NIGHT. Sarah Gailey hosts an “Exclusive Interview with Victor Manibo” about his novel, The Sleepless.

…One aspect of The Sleepless that fascinates me is the way society in the book reacts to what some call a superpower, and what could also be framed as a hypercapitalist disability. Sleeplessness offers a fundamental change to human form and function as it’s typically understood, but it’s a change that allows people to engage more with capitalist productivity culture, consumption, and work. What made you want to explore this particular tension?

This story grew out of a what-if question I asked myself during a particularly busy time in my life. What if I didn’t need to sleep? Would I get more stuff done? How would such a change impact me, personally? The thought experiment was hard to contain to the individual level, and when I expanded the what-if to the world at large, it really raised some interesting questions. That’s when I felt like I needed to write it all out.

We’re living in an interesting time where more and more people are taking more control regarding their place in our capitalistic society. People are “quiet quitting”; it’s the age of “The Great Resignation”; there’s an increasing frequency of success stories in labor organizing, and there’s a record number of socialists in Congress. I wanted this story to be in conversation with what’s going on in the world, to interrogate why and how we participate in capitalism….

(2) A LITTLE SURPRISE. Google Double Asteroid Redirection Test, then wait a moment. [Via Tom Galloway.]

(3) HE’S GOT NOTHING. BUT SOMEBODY ELSE HAS SOMETHING. This teaser for Deadpool 3 dropped today. Ryan Reynolds apologizes for missing D23. Oh, and there’s a little casting surprised revealed at the end. “Deadpool Update”.

Or if you want to skip the video and go straight to the surprise, read this article in The Hollywood Reporter.

(4) MAKING CONTACT. Vulture has assembled an oral history of the movie Contact. “‘No Aliens, No Spaceships, No Invasion of Earth’”.

Ahead of Contact’s 25th anniversary, we spoke to nearly two dozen people involved in its making, including Zemeckis, Foster, McConaughey, Druyan, Sasha Sagan, and veteran producer Lynda Obst. They disagreed on several aspects of Contact’s development saga, but settled on some consensus: Contact was a lightning-in-a-bottle project, the kind of thing big movie studios barely made before and would probably never make again — intellectually challenging, emotionally messy, heavy with metaphor, wherein nobody shoots an alien in the face in front of an American flag. “We used to do that,” said Foster. “We used to make movies that were resonant and were entertaining.”…

Ann Druyan: This is 1978. Carl and I are still working on Cosmos. At the time, it was popular to say things like, “Well, if men are as smart as women, then how come there are no female Leonardos? No female Einsteins?” This made both of us furious. I had just co-written the part of Cosmos about the Great Library of Alexandria and the fact that Hypatia, who was the leader of the library, was a mathematician focusing on the Diophantine equations that Newton would later become interested in. Her reward for being the great intellectual light of the library in 415 AD was to be ripped from her chariot that she was driving herself and carved to bits with abalone shells.

People were throwing everything at Carl then. He was such a phenomenon in the culture, and everybody wanted to do something with him. So we knew we could get a book and a movie contract. We agreed one night, sitting in the pool at our little rented house in West Hollywood, that we were going to tell a story in which not only would a woman be the intellectual hero but, in the great tradition of Gilgamesh, she was going to go on the voyage and the guys would stay home.

(5) UNIONIZING PUBLISHING. UAW Local 2110 (2110uaw.org) – HarperCollins is the only unionized Big 4 publisher. HarperCollins workers are pushing for better compensation, diversity protections, and union security.

(6) KSR TO SPEAK IN MARYLAND.  At the 2022 F. Scott Fitzgerald Festival, with the theme “Stories and the More-Than-Human”, will be held over several dates. The main date events are on October 15, 2022 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville, MD.  The keynote speaker Kim Stanley Robinson will participate in the “Tribute to Richard Powers” at the Writer’s Center on Friday evening, October 14, and will engage with Richard Powers in a “Conversation about the Art of Fiction” and introduce Richard Powers for the Fitzgerald Award on Saturday, October 15. Festival registration is here.

(7) CRAFTING WITCHES. Leanna Renee Hieber and Andrea Janes admire “The Unstoppable, Fearsome, Delicious Allure of the Witch” at CrimeReads.

Witches are powerful women. Like all powerful women, they have been maligned, persecuted, hated, desired, feared. They are eternal, mythical subjects, a source of endless fascination. In American history, they occupy a unique place where folklore blurs the lines of reality; we remember the “witches” of Salem, Massachusetts, who were not actually witches. They have become totemic figures in television, movies, books, and pop culture, and their appeal shows no signs of waning: as of this writing, the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem is devoting a full-scale exhibit to the power and imagery of the witch…

(8) INVESTING TIME. Camestros Felapton is inspired to think about “Time travel and energy” after reading Sheila Jenne’s “Theories of time travel”. (His post was published on September 28, which is only appropriate, too…)

I was reading this neat summary of time travel rules in fiction and thinking about a couple of things basically angles and effort. The idea that a small change at one point leads to a big change in the future (aka two different kinds of things both known as a butterfly effect) predates modern science fiction. The proverb of consequences that typically starts with “for want of a nail” dates back to at least the 13th century and describes a causal chain of circumstances where a small issue (the nail in a horseshoe) leads to a major outcome.

Put another way: a small amount of effort in the past can lead to a result that would require a huge amount of effort if you were to attempt the same outcome in the present. I think that gives a neat rationale for fiction where you want time travel that allows changes to the future but where you don’t want an oops-I-stepped-on-a-butterfly-now-Donald-Trump-is-president situation….

(9) HOLDING HANDS WITH DEATH. “Terry Pratchett: A Life With Footnotes by Rob Wilkins review – anecdotes, elephants and ‘an embuggerance’” – the Guardian’s Frank Cottrell-Boyce comes away wondering why Pratchett was “so underestimated”.

…Caring for someone who has dementia is an overwhelmingly vivid experience, full of pain and comedy. There are heartbreaking and funny stories in A Life With Footnotes – started by Pratchett himself but written and completed by his longtime assistant Rob Wilkins – about the things that Pratchett’s shrinking brain made him do. He once accidentally donated £50,000 to Bath Postal Museum, for instance. Moments like that can supplant your memories of what a person was like before; here, Wilkins, who started working for the author in 2000, attempts to recover Pratchett pre-dementia. His closeness to the subject means that the book is sometimes joyfully, sometimes painfully, intimate. The description of the day Pratchett’s daughter, Rhianna, was born, for example, is so animated by love, it’s as if this treasured moment was a jewel that Pratchett placed in Wilkins’s care, to ensure it would not be stolen away by the embuggerance….

(10) CHAN DAVIS (1926-2022). Author Chandler Davis died September 24 reports Olav Rokne, who tweeted an extensive tribute that begins here.

SIDE NOTE: (I became aware of Chandler Davis as a science fiction author only a couple of years ago because of @gautambhatia88. But by an odd coincidence it turns out I met him several times in the 1980s as he worked on some math papers with my godfather Dr. Peter Lancaster)

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1968 [By Cat Eldridge.] This, I believe, was truly one of the the classic episodes of the original Star Trek series. Airing fifty-four years ago on NBC, it scripted by D.C. Fontana, one of eleven episodes that she would write including “Catspaw” that I dearly love, and directed by John Meredyth Lucas as the second episode of the final season.

If you’ve forgotten, the story is Kirk violated the neutral zone. The Romulans have a new bit of technology called a “cloaking device” (just go with the idea please). Kirk pretends to be crazy, then pretends to be a Romulan to get to it. Meanwhile, Spock pretends to be in love. But is he pretending? Who knows. 

D. C. Fontana says she based her script very loosely upon the Pueblo incident but I’ll be damned I can see this. It’s a Cold War espionage thriller at heart and most excellently played out. You did note the Romulnan commander never gets named? Later novels including Vulcan’s Heart by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz gave her the name of Liviana Charvanek. 

Speaking of Vulcans, Fontana deliberately kept the romance between her and Spock low key to the finger games they did. And then there’s Roddenberry’s idea, never done, Spock “raining kisses” on the bare shoulders of the Romulan commander. Oh awful.

Season three had no budget, I repeat, no budget for frills, so this episode suffered several times from that. Kirk was supposed to have surgery done on him after dying but that got deep sixed, and McCoy was supposed to accompany him back to the Romulan ship but my, oh my ears are expensive, aren’t they? 

Fontana would co-write with Derek Chester a sequel: Star Trek: Year Four—The Enterprise Experiment, a graphic novel published by IDW Publishing in 2008.

Critics then and now love it.

It’s airing on Paramount + as is everything else in the Trek universe. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 27, 1927 Roberta Gellis. Though she wrote nearly a dozen novels of her own, you most likely know her writing within the Elves on the Road Universe created by Mercedes Lackey. She co-wrote Serrated Edge Prequels with Lackey, two of which were full novels — Ill Met by Moonlight and And Less Than Kind. (Died 2016.)
  • Born September 27, 1932 Roger Charles Carmel. The original Harcourt Fenton “Harry” Mudd who appeared in two episodes of the original Star Trek, “Mudd’s Women” and “I, Mudd”” and one episode of the animated series as well, “Mudd’s Passion”. I say original because Discovery has decided that they have a Harry Mudd. He also had one-offs on I-SpyMunstersThe Man from U.N.C.L.E.Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Batman. It is rumored but at all not confirmed he was going to reprise his role as Harry Mudd in a first-season episode of Next Gen but died before filming could start. (Died 1986.)
  • Born September 27, 1934 Wilford Brimley. His first genre role was as Dr. Blair in John Carpenter’s The Thing. He’s Benjamin ‘Ben’ Luckett in the Cacoon films, and Agency Director Harold Smith in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. He made a rather splendid President Grover Cleveland in The Wild Wild West Revisted. And finally I note that he was Noa in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. (Died 2020.)
  • Born September 27, 1947 Meat Loaf. He has a tasty role as Eddie in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. And I’d argue some of his music videos are genre stories in their own right including “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)”. He also has film roles in Wishcraft (horror), Stage Fright (horror) and Urban Decay (yes, more horror). He’s also in BloodRayne which is yes, horror. He’s had one-offs on Tales from the Crypt, The Outer LimitsMonsters, Masters of Horror and was Doug Rennie, a main cast member of Ghost Wars. (Died 2022.)
  • Born September 27, 1950 Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, 72. He’d be on the Birthday Honors list if he’d only been Zylyn in Space Rangers which lasted just six episodes. Damn. But he’s also shown up on Babylon 5, the premier of Star Trek: The Next GenerationSuperboyAlien Nation, the Australian version of Mission: ImpossibleSabrina the Teenage WitchStargate SG-1Poltergeist: The LegacyThe Librarians, voicing characters on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Star Wars Rebels. More recently he played Nobusuke Tagomi in The Man in The High Castle (2015-2018), and Hiroki Watanabe in Lost in Space 2018-2021). 
  • Born September 27, 1956 Sheila Williams, 66. Editor, Asimov’s Science Fiction the last fifteen years. She won the Hugo Award for Best Short Form Editor at Renovation and Chicon 7. With the late Gardner Dozois, she co-edited a bonnie bunch of anthologies such as Isaac Asimov’s RobotsIsaac Asimov’s Christmas and Isaac Asimov’s Cyberdreams. She was also responsible for the Isaac Asimov Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy writing being renamed the Dell Magazines Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing. 
  • Born September 27, 1972 Gwyneth Paltrow, 50. Yes, she is Pepper Potts in the Marvel Universe film franchise but her first genre role was as a young Wendy Darling in Hook. And she shows up in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow as Polly Perkins, a reporter for The Chronicle. And let’s not forget she was in Shakespeare in Love as Viola de Lesseps. Yes, it’s most decidedly and deliciously genre, isn’t it? 
  • Born September 27, 1972 Andy Briggs, 50. He started out as an uncredited writer working on story developer on the Highlander Series. I’m going to single out his writing of The Tarzan Trilogy which consists of Tarzan: The Greystoke LegacyTarzan the Jungle Warrior and Tarzan: The Savage Lands. Most excellent pulp. He’s written eleven scripts including a remake of The Philadelphia Experiment

(13) COMICS SECTION.

Lio is rejected for UFO abduction – find out why.

(14) MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood will be staged at City Garage Theatre in Santa Monica, CA from November 11 – December 18, 2022. Get tickets here.

City Garage presents the “The Penelopiad” by feminist icon Margaret Atwood, author of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” In this remarkable retelling of “The Odyssey,” Atwood transforms both the power and the politics of the classic tale by shifting the point of view to Penelope, Odysseus’s wife, and of her twelve faithful maids unjustly hanged by the returning “hero.” It takes place in Hades, where these thirteen spirits are trapped for all eternity, telling and retelling their story like angry furies, unable to find redress for what they suffered at male hands.

While her husband Odysseus is off fighting pointless wars—for the sake of her beautiful, shameless, aggravating cousin Helen—dallying with nymphs and sirens, and playing the hero, Penelope is holding the kingdom together. All alone, with nothing but her wits, toughness, and strength to rely on, she has to raise her rebellious son, face down dangerous rumors, and keep more than a hundred lustful, brutal suitors at bay. When twenty years later the “hero” finally returns there is indeed hell to pay—but it is Penelope and her twelve faithful maids who pay the tragic price.

Atwood gives Penelope a modern voice, witty, pragmatic, yet still filled with pain as she gets to tell her own story at last, and set the record straight. 

(15) I NEVER DRINK…WELL, ON SECOND THOUGHT. Vampire Vineyards in Ventura, CA has all kinds of amusing marketing ideas. How about wine bottles with Dracula capes? Or Vampire Gummies?

(16) LAURIE STRODE RIDES AGAIN. “Jamie Lee Curtis in ‘Halloween Ends’ final trailer”SYFY Wire cues it up:

…Universal Pictures dropped the final trailer for Halloween Ends Tuesday, giving us one last look at the concluding chapter of this legacy sequel saga ahead of its October 14 premiere, and the stakes of the film are now clearer than ever. It’s been four years since the events of Halloween Kills, which left the town of Haddonfield deeply scarred and left Laurie’s own daughter (Judy Greer) dead at Michael’s hands. After that night, Michael Myers vanished, but of course Laurie’s not convinced he’s gone for good. The boogeyman is coming back for one last night of terror, and this time, Laurie thinks she finally knows how to kill him. The catch, of course, is that she might have to die too…. 

(17) RED GULCH. “China’s Mars rover finds new evidence of an ancient waterway on the Red Planet” Inverse covers a study published in Nature.

CHINA landed its first rover on the surface of Mars, called Zhurong, on May 15, 2021. Just ten days later, it began a series of observations that ancient flows of water on the Red Planet could explain.

new study published Monday in the journal Nature details how Zhurong collected data on Mars’ subterranean sediments with an instrument called the Rover Penetrating Radar (RoPeR). Chinese scientists looked at the radar results Zhurong obtained as it traveled across more than 1,100 meters of flat landscape in a place called Utopia Planitia from May 25 to September 6, 2021. That’s about 102 Mars days, or sols. In the new work, Chinese researchers announced that Mars’ subsurface sediments were organized in a way that could be explained by ancient water flow on Mars….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: The Sandman,” the Screen Junkies say that Neil Gaiman may “look like a hobbit,” but The Sandman was “one of the greatest comics ever” and the high quality of this $160 million production shows the merits of “creators owning the rights to their creations.”  The show is about the power of dreams, “but the concrete linear kind, not the ones where you’re mowing the lawn with your naked dad.” And does Patton Oswalt’s casting mean he “sounds like a talking bird?”

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