Pixel Scroll 1/29/23 Have Spindizzy, Will Travel

(1) LOST HISTORY, LOST FUTURE. None of the participants in the recent Facebook kerfuffle are mentioned by name, however, have no doubt that is what’s on Brian Keene’s mind in his latest newsletter: “Letters From the Labyrinth 318”.

…I don’t like what social media is doing to us, as a community. I don’t like watching authors and editors in their seventies who once contributed so many important things to our industry now destroying their legacies because their valid fears of being forgotten by the genre’s historical memory have led to misplaced anger due to generational views and the toxic stew of false logic they got from sketchy Facebook posts and talk radio. I don’t like watching writers in their thirties who have inherited this industry dispensing mob justice at the click of a button without pausing to think how it might hurt others who are listening. Speaking truth to power is something that should always be done. But that truth gets muted when everyone is speaking at once, and it’s hard to hear or discern wisdom in the midst of collective braying. I don’t like promising writers in their teens and early twenties, brimming with talent, that the sky is still the limit and yes, if they keep writing and keep submitting, they, too, can have this career… because I no longer believe that is true. They are entering the field at a time when, thanks to social media and technology, every single person in the world is a published writer, and not only do they have to compete with the entire population, they’ll now have to compete with A.I. as well.

So many people seem to have lost their empathy. So many people seem unable to pause, or just walk away. Everyone has to get that last post or Tweet or shot in, and for someone sitting here in the middle of it all, it’s just so very exhausting….

(2) COMICS BC. [Item by Soon Lee.] Colleen Doran who adapted the lovely Neil Gaiman short story “Chivalry” to comics has written a wonderful article about the process of turning the prose story into a graphic novel. Doran shares shoutouts in the graphic novel to the predecessors of modern Western comics. “Sequential art predates Action Comics #1.” The Bayeux Tapestry being an example of this. “Neil Gaiman’s CHIVALRY: From Illuminated Manuscripts to Comics”.

Action Comics popularized sequential art book storytelling that had already appeared in other forms in fits and starts throughout history. Comic books didn’t take off as a popular medium for several reasons, not least of which was the necessary printing process hadn’t been invented yet and it’s hard to popularize – and commercialize – something most people can never see. 

You find sequential art in cave paintings and in Egyptian hieroglyphics. I’ve read that comics (manga) were invented by the Japanese in 12th century scrolls….

(3) MILLIONS OF VOICES SUDDENLY CRIED OUT. “World of Warcraft to go offline in China, leaving millions of gamers bereft” reports the Guardian.

Millions of Chinese players of the roleplaying epic World of Warcraft (WoW) will bid a sad farewell to the land of Azeroth, with the game set to go offline after a dispute between the US developer Blizzard and its local partner NetEase.

Massively popular worldwide, particularly in the 2000s, WoW is an online multiplayer role-playing game set in a fantasy medieval world. It is known for being immersive and addictive, and players can rack up hundreds of hours of game time.

Blizzard’s games have been available in China since 2008 through collaboration with NetEase. Under local law, foreign developers are required to partner with Chinese firms to enter the market.

But after 14 years and millions of players in China, the two firms announced in November that talks over renewing their operating contract had failed to lead to an agreement. As a result, WoW’s Chinese servers will go offline at midnight local time on Tuesday.

Other popular titles by the Californian developer – one of the world’s biggest – will experience the same fate, including OverwatchDiablo III and Hearthstone.

“It’s the end,” wrote one Weibo user, accompanied by crying emojis.

“It was not just a game. It was also the memories of a whole generation” of young Chinese, another wrote.

“The two companies have taken players hostage,” said Wu, a 30-year-old doctoral student and a longtime fan….

(4) WANTS TO CUT THE FLOW OF $$$ TO ROWLING. InThem’s view “Hogwarts Legacy Continues to Make Enemies in the Gaming World”.

With two weeks still to go before the release of Hogwarts Legacy, the controversial video game is getting even more derision in gamer circles, both for making J.K. Rowling richer, and for looking like crap in the process.

On January 22, moderators on the gaming forum ResetEra announced that going forward, no discussion of Hogwarts Legacy would be permitted on the site. The forum previously barred “promotional” discussion of the game in 2021, but mods explained that they decided to implement a blanket ban after assessing the full situation.

“After continued internal discussion, we began to start outlining the issues put forth by Rowling and the game in question and each time, and as we discussed it all, we kept coming back to the simple fact that Rowling is not only a bigot but is actively pushing, in her position as a wealthy and famous individual, for legislation that will hurt trans people,” wrote site moderator B-Dubs in the announcement post. “Therefore, the mod team has decided to expand our prior ban on promotion for the Hogwarts game to include the game itself.”….

(5) WILL MEN BLOW A FUSE? “Toni Collette’s new Prime Video thriller series sounds electrifying” says TechRadar.

…Starring Toni Collette (Knives Out, Hereditary), Auli’i Cravalho (Moana), and Toheeb Jimoh (Ted Lasso season 3), the forthcoming Prime Video thriller series will aim to shock audiences with a worldwide tale based around gender imbalance and a single superpower.

Based on Naomi Alderman’s best-selling novel of the same name, The Power takes place in a world not unlike our own. However, one fateful day, teenage girls across the globe suddenly develop the ability to electrocute people at will. This nature-based power is hereditary, there’s no ‘cure’ for it and, most important of all, wielders can awaken the same power in their older mothers, sisters, cousins, and grandmothers.

Unsurprisingly, the emergence of this superpower leads to complete reversal of gender-based power balance in the world. Soon enough, the sparks of revolution are ignited, and men are quickly viewed as the lesser of humankind’s genders. The fallout that follows, then, will be as dramatic, suspense-filled, and electrifying as you can imagine….

(6) TRADITION DEFENDED. Ahrvid Engholm protests Chicon 8’s apology for their having initially called a panel “The Fannish Inquisition”. (Swedish, followed by English translation.) “The new heights of stupidity”.

…This “complaint” from only one (“the member who brought it to our attention”) reaches stratospheric heights in humorlessness and intolerance in claiming to be sensitive to the use of a simple word like “inquisition”. Have a look at HC Andersen’s story about The Princess and the Pea..  

If a tiny articulation of claimed uneasiness may decide what others can express, freedom of speech is in grave danger, and obviously once language is put  in a cage freedom of thought hangs loose.

We must stop this trend that anyone, who states feeling “uncomfortable” with what others say, have the right to silence them.

A well known historical institution, hundreds of years ago (are you going to tear out those pages in history books?), used as a cheerful gag would “understandably” (no, no one understands!) be “offensive” (no, it’s an innocent joke!)…

(7) WESCHING OBITUARY. Actress Annie Wersching has died of cancer at the age of 45 reports Collider.

Annie Wersching, the actress who brought to life a number of fan-favorite TV characters has sadly passed away today. Wersching most recently appeared as the villainous Borg Queen in Season 2 of Star Trek: Picard, a role that saw her return to the Star Trek franchise in a much bigger capacity a decade after initially making her Star Trek debut in a guest role in Star Trek: Enterprise. Wersching also had roles in popular TV shows such as 24Bosch, and The Vampire Diaries. Away from TV, Wersching was a big part of the fast-rising The Last of Us franchise. She lent her voice and performed motion capture for the beloved role of non-player character Tess who was recently brought to live action on the HBO series by Anna Torv. Wersching was 45 years old at the time of her death.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2019 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane is about a man who’s never named who returns to his hometown for a funeral and remembers events that began forty years earlier. The remembrance of those events triggers something in the present of a horrific nature, and I’ll say no more in case some Filers here haven’t read it. 

The illustrated edition of the work was published in 2019, featuring the artwork of Australian Elise Hurst, a fine artist and author, specialising in children’s books.

Dinner was wonderful. There was a joint of beef, with roast potatoes, golden-crisp on the outside and soft and white inside, buttered greens I did not recognize, although I think now that they might have been nettles, toasted carrots all blackened and sweet (I did not think that I liked cooked carrots, so I nearly did not eat one but I was brave, and I tried it, and I liked it, and was disappointed in boiled carrots for the rest of my childhood.) For dessert there was the pie, stuffed with apples and with swollen raisins and crushed nuts, all topped with a thick yellow custard, creamier and richer than anything I had ever tasted at school or at home.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 29, 1913 Victor Mature. He’s best remembered for his first leading role, as a fur-clad caveman in One Million B.C., and until he showed up on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as Sparks in the “Deadly Creatures Below!” episode, which I’m reasonably sure is his only genre role. (Died 1999.)
  • Born January 29, 1918 Robert Pastene. He played the title role in the first televised Buck Rogers series on ABC that also had Kem Dibbs and Eric Hammond in that role. 35 episodes were made, none survive. As near as I can tell, his only other SFF performance was on the Out There and Lights Out series. (Died 1991.)
  • Born January 29, 1923 Paddy Chayefsky. In our circles known as the writer of the Altered States novel that he also wrote the screenplay for. He is the only person to have won three solo Academy Awards for Best Screenplay. The other winners of three Awards shared theirs. He did not win for Altered States though he did win for Network which I adore and might well be genre. (Died 1981.)
  • Born January 29, 1940 Katharine Ross, 83. Her first genre work was as Joanna Eberhart in The Stepford Wives, scary film that. She shows up next as Helena in The Swarm and plays Margaret Walsh in The Legacy, both horror films. The Final Countdown sees her in the character of Laurel Scott.  And Dr. Lilian Thurman is her character in the cult favorite Donnie Darko. I’m fairly sure that the only genre series she’s done is on The Wild Wild West as Sheila Parnell in “The Night of the Double-Edged Knife”, and she did an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents as well. 
  • Born January 29, 1945 Tom Selleck, 78. Setting aside the matter of if Magnum P.I. is genre which some of you hold to be true, he was Sgt. Jack R. Ramsay in Runaway which is most definitely SF.  He recently did some voice acting by being Cornelius, Lewis’ older self, in the animated Meet the Robinsons film, and he showed up as himself in the “What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?” of the Muppet Babies nearly forty years ago. And now in his thirteenth year as Commissioner Frank Reagan on the Blue Bloods series on Paramount+. 
  • Born January 29, 1958 Jeph Loeb, 64. His first comic writing work was on the Challengers of the Unknown vol. 2 #1 in 1991 with Tim Sale. He’d go on to win three Eisners for his work for Batman/The Spirit #1, Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: Dark Victory. And he’s also a producer/writer on such genre series such as SmallvilleLostHeroes and Teen Wolf.
  • Born January 29, 1970 Heather Graham, 53. Best known SF role was no doubt Dr. Judy Robinson on the Lost on Space film. She played also Felicity Shagwell that year in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. And she was Annie Blackburn on Twin Peaks.
  • Born January 29, 1988 Catrin Stewart, 35. Jenny Flint in five episodes of Doctor Who. She was the wife of Madame Vastra and the friend of Strax (informally known as the Paternoster Gang) who appeared first during the Eleventh Doctor and last during the Twelfth Doctor. Big Finish has continued them in their audiobooks. She also played Stella in two episodes of the Misfits series, and was Julia in a performance of 1984 done at London Playhouse a few years back.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lio makes the scene with a frozen Gort.
  • Dick Tracy is starting another (or repeat?) Little Orphan Annie arc.
  • The Far Side has some genre career counseling.
  • Tom Gauld is keeping busy.

(11) FREE READ. Sunday Morning Transport shares “Tears Waiting to Be Diamonds: Part Two” by Sarah Rees Brennan.

Sarah Rees Brennan’s “Tears Waiting to Be Diamonds, Part One,” our first story of January 2023, brought us news from the Other Lands and absolutely blew our socks off. Now, as January comes to a close, we hope you enjoy Part Two of “Tears Waiting to Be Diamonds,” with all the joys and surprises that entails. ~ Julian and Fran, January 29, 2023

(12) YEAR ENDS WITH A BANG. Joe Stech of Compelling Science Fiction shares his picks for the “Top science fiction short stories published in December”. At number one:

The top story for the month of December (and therefore our t-shirt winner!) is Murder by Pixel: Crime and Responsibility in the Digital Darkness by S.L. Huang. The story is a fun and insightful piece of fictitious journalism. It’s rare that I see near-future AI stories that really feel true-to-life and are also page-turners, Huang knocked this one out of the park.

(13) BRINGING IN THE NEW YEAR. The new episode of the Anime Explorations Podcast is up, where in honor of Lunar New Year, they discuss a Japanese/Taiwanese co-production with the first season and movie of Thunderbolt Fantasy. “Thunderbolt Fantasy Season 1 + The Blade of Life & Death”.

This month, David, Tora and Alexander Case are taking a look at the first season & film of Thunderbolt Fantasy for Lunar New Year.

Thunderbolt Fantasy is available on Crunchyroll: https://www.crunchyroll.com/series/GY75KE906/thunderbolt-fantasy

(14) REMEMBERING AN ICONIC GAME CONSOLE. Lego supplies 2,532 pieces that add up to a replica of the Atari 2600 and some of the paraphernalia.

Take a trip back to the 1980s with this LEGO Atari 2600 (10306) building set for adults. Enjoy a rewarding project creating all the details of this replica console, replica game ‘cartridges’ and joystick. Gaming fans will love the 3 mini builds depicting themes from 3 popular Atari games. There’s even a hidden 1980s scene to build for total nostalgia overload. Rediscover 3 of the most popular Atari games: Asteroids, Adventure and Centipede. There’s a replica ‘cartridge’ for each, plus 3 scenes to build capturing the story of each game. The games slot into the vintage-style console and can be stored in the cartridge holder. Check out the artwork, inspired by the original Atari designs plus a touch of LEGO spirit. This collectible building set makes an immersive project for you or a top gift idea for gamers.

(15) TERMINATOR GENESIS? CNN has video of the earliest ancestor of the T-1000 “Liquid Metal” bot. At the link: “Video: This tiny shape-shifting robot can melt its way out of a cage”.

Researchers took gallium, a metal with a low melting point, and embedded it with magnetic particles to create a robot that can melt and move. Their inspiration? A sea cucumber.

(16) COMPATIBLE QUARTERS FOR NOVELISTS. A Penguin blogger evaluates “The best places to write your novel according to authors: tried and tested”. For some, a hotel is perfect.

…Agatha Christie ostensibly wrote Murder on the Orient Express at the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul, while Maya Angelou used to write on hotel beds for months at a time. Ashdown Park Hotel is set right on the edge of the forest where Winnie the Pooh himself was born, and there are some cute nods to the Bear of Very Little Brain outside the hotel’s restaurant. Pooh and Angelou: I was in good company…

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Season 3 official trailer forStar Trek: Picard dropped today.

The stakes have never been higher as Star Trek: Picard boldly goes into its third and final season. Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, and Michael Dorn of Star Trek: The Next Generation join series star Patrick Stewart for an epic adventure.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/7/23 Farmers Market In The Sky

(1) IT WASN’T THE HOBBIT. What turned Stephen Colbert into a voracious reader? Science fiction. Specifically, Niven, Asimov, Heinlein, Pohl and more. See “Team Hobbit or Lord of the Rings?” on TikTok.

(2) SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT. Concerning a Slate critic’s claim about Tolkien’s elves, here’s Kalimac’s response from “Ross Douthat writes a fantasy novel”.

…Tolkien’s elves…. only … “essentially good” in the … sense in which they’re broadly good, they’re more good than bad, they aspire to goodness. Read the Silmarillion and you’ll find plenty of elves behaving extremely badly, and a few who are evil the way that Saruman in Lord of the Rings is evil. The reason you don’t find elves like that in Lord of the Rings is that the elves are chastened by their earlier experiences, the ones recounted in the Silmarillion, and aren’t going to make the same mistake again….

(3) SPECULATIVE POETS AT COLLAGE. [Item by Denise Dumars.] Science Fiction and Fantasy fan? Poetry fan? Why not try both together? You will get to do so when members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association  (SFPA) read their work and discuss the topic at Collage: a place for Art and Culture. You’ll also learn how to join the SFPA and how to find markets for your own poetry in the genres by writers who have published in numerous journals both print and online. Come join us on Sunday, January 15, at 2:00 p.m.. Collage is located at the south end of the Harbor Freeway, at 731 S. Pacific Ave., San Pedro, CA, 90731.   

Speakers:  

  • Wendy Van Camp: Poet Laureate of Anaheim, CA, and Convention Coordinator for the SFPA, Wendy is an award-winning writer who has edited Eye to the Telescope, the online journal of the SFPA, and is currenly nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She edits the Eccentric Orbits series of SF/F poetry anthlogies, and the current issue is nominated for Best Anthology Award. Find her at https://wendyvancamp.com/.  
  • Ashley Dioses: Award winning dark fantasy poet and fiction writer, with books of poetry published by Jackanapes Press and Hippocampus Press, Ashley has been nominated for the Rhysling and Elgin awards for SF/F poetry as well as appearing in such well-known journals as Cemetery Dance and Weirdbook. She blogs at fiendlover.blogspot.com.  
  • Denise Dumars: Columnist for Star* Line, the Journal of the SFPA, and widely published and award-winning poet and short fiction writer, Denise has been a college English instructor and a literary agent. Author of several poetry books and chapbooks, she has been nominated multiple times for the Rhysling, Elgin, and Dwarf Stars awards and is a current nominee for the Pushcart Prize. Find her at www.DeniseDDumars.com.  
  • Jean-Paul L. Garnier: Editor of Star*Line, the Journal of the SFPA, he is the owner of Space Cowboy bookstore, winner of the Critters Best Bookstore award for 2021. His podcast is Simultaneous Times, and he is an independent publisher of SF poetry and fiction. He is a five-time nominee for the Elgin award with several books in print. He contributes to dreamfoundry.org. Find him at https://spacecowboybooks.com/.

(4) PIEZOELECTRIC BOOGALOO. A New York Times writer says, “‘M3GAN’ Makes Us Ask (Again): Who’s Afraid of Dancing Robots?”

…“When you see the Boston Dynamics robots dancing in perfect unison,” Johnstone said, “it’s almost like them looking at us and saying, ‘We can do what you do, and we can do it better,’ in the most obnoxious way.” He chuckled. “Like they’re going to sashay their way toward the extermination of all humanity.”

M3GAN’s ice-cold, ruthlessly calculated “performance” stands in contrast to the human dancing in some recent horror films, where flesh-and-bone bodies reach states of overheated delirium. The choreographer, director and writer Jack Ferver, who worked on the coming horror movie “The Parenting,” said dance horror is effective when the person dancing “transcends their personhood.”

But what does that mean for a nonperson? Robots aren’t dead behind the eyes because they’re in some kind of ecstatic trance; they’re dead behind the eyes because they’re not alive….

(5) MEMORY LANE.

1964 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

No. We are not here to talk about the stellar Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory film but rather about the source material that inspired it, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory novel. It was first published in the U.K. by George Allen & Unwin in 1964 with this edition illustrated by Faith Jaques. (Yes, the US edition was first but we think this one should be considered the true first for reasons below.) 

She was renowned for her work as a children’s book author, illustrator, artist, stamp designer and a very fierce advocate of artists’ rights for control of their work. She was chosen to do the British edition following the controversy over the depiction of the Oompa-Loompas in the US edition of the book where they were African pygmies. Racism at its very worst.

In this edition, as well as the subsequent sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, was written by Dahl in 1971, the Oompa-Loompas were drawn as being white and appearing similar to hippies and the references to Africa were deleted. All other editions followed this convention.

The story was said to based on Dahl’s experience of chocolate companies including Cadbury during his schooldays sending packages to the schoolchildren in exchange for their opinions on the new products. Popular belief was that the companies sent spies into each other’s factories to scope out new chocolates. 

Because of these practices, companies became highly protective of their chocolate making. It was a combination of this secrecy and the elaborate, often gigantic, machines that looked fantastical to a child that inspired him to write this novel.

There are several editions, each with a different illustrator — Joseph Schindelman (first and revised US editions); Faith Jaques (first UK edition); Michael Foreman (1985 US edition); and Quentin Blake (1995 edition). 

The book as you know as been adapted into two major motion pictures: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory just several years after it was published, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that came out about twenty years ago. A prequel film, Wonka, a musical fantasy film, exploring Willy Wonka’s origins will be released in 2023. Timothée Chalamet is Willy Wonka. Really, he is.

Eric Idle narrated the audiobook version of the American Edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 7, 1899 F. Orlin Tremaine. He was the Editor of Astounding from 1933 to 1937. It’s said that he bought Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness without actually reading it. Later as Editor at Bartholomew House, he brought out the first paperback editions of Lovecraft’s The Weird Shadow Over Innsmouth and The Dunwich Horror. He wrote a dozen or so short stories that were published in the pulps between 1926 and 1949. (Died 1956.)
  • Born January 7, 1912 Charles Addams. Illustrator best known for the Addams Family which he first drew in 1932 and kept drawing until his death. Needless to say there have been a number of films and series using these characters of which The Addams Family is my favorite. Linda H. Davis’ Charles Addams: A Cartoonist’s Life is well worth seeking out and reading. (Died 1988.)
  • Born January 7, 1913 Julian S. Krupa. Pulp cover and interior illustrator from 1939 to 1971 who graced Amazing Stories and Fantastic. In the Thirties, he also contributed art to fanzines, including Ad Astra. His grandson said that “his Grandfather did all the illustrations for the training films for the first Nuclear Submarines and was a friend to Admiral Rickover. And then continued to do early training films for NASA.” (Died 1989.)
  • Born January 7, 1928 William Peter Blatty. Novelist and screenwriter best known for The Exorcist though he was also the same for Exorcist III. The former is by no means the only genre work that he would write as his literary career would go on for forty years after this novel and would include Demons Five, Exorcists Nothing: A Fable which he renamed Demons Five, Exorcists Nothing: A Hollywood Christmas Carol and The Exorcist for the 21st Century, his final work. (Died 2017.)
  • Born January 7, 1955 Karen Haber, 68. Wife of Robert Silverberg. Author Of the Fire In Winter series (first co-written with Robert) and the War Minstrels series as well. With Robert, she edited three of the exemplary Universe anthologies that Terry Carr had created. Her Meditations on Middle Earth, her essay collection on J.R.R. Tolkien is quite superb. And of course her prequel Thieves’ Carnival to Leigh Brackett’s The Jewel of Bas is stunning.
  • Born January 7, 1962 Mark Allen Shepherd, 61. Morn, the bar patron on Deep Space Nine. Amazingly he was in Quark’s bar a total of ninety-three episodes plus one episode each on Next Gen and Voyager. Technically he’s uncredited in almost all of those appearances. That’s pretty much his entire acting career. I’m trying to remember if he has any lines. He’s also an abstract painter whose work was used frequently on DS9 sets. For all practical purposes, this was his acting career. Do note that we saw more Lurians on Discovery showing that the species is still around even in the 32nd century. 
  • Born January 7, 1971 Jeremy Renner, 52. You know him as Hawkeye in those MCU films but he’s also in a number of other SFF film including Hansel and Gretel: Witch HuntersMission: Impossible – Ghost ProtocolMission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and Arrival.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Catching up with Tom Gauld –

(8) THEY MADE MARVEL. CBR.com contends these are “The 10 Most Important Comics In Marvel History”. For example —

8/10 Fantastic Four #1 Brought The Heroes Back

As the superhero boom died out in the late 1940s, Timely switched to other genres, including romance, teen books, and comedy titles. In 1951, a year after Captain America was canceled, Timely became Atlas News Company and it seemed like the heroes would be gone for good.

But according to legend, a decade later Martin Goodman was playing golf with Jack Liebowitz, the then head of DC Comics when Liebowitz bragged about the company’s success with their new superhero titles, most notably the Justice League of America. Goodman turned to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to give Atlas their own superhero team, and from that discussion, the Fantastic Four, and “The Marvel Age of Comics,” were born.

(9) HE’S A POE MAN FROM A POE FAMILY. “Dudley did right: Harry Melling on his evolution from Harry Potter to Edgar Allan Poe” is explained by in a Yahoo! profile.

…He first appeared at 10 years old in Sorcerer’s Stone as the hero’s tortuous, spoiled cousin, Dudley Dursley, and would maintain the part into his 20s.

Unlike his contemporaries, he found life on set to be quite isolating at times. “My experience was unique in terms of I wasn’t in it throughout the entire shoot,” the actor, 33, tells EW over Zoom from Los Angeles — now much taller and leaner compared to the plump, rosy-cheeked child with a haughty smirk movie-goers have been used to. “The earthly sequences would very much be an isolated filming block. So, I dipped in, and then I went back to school and normal life.”

Melling never felt as if people would recognize him on the streets of London. “Which I kind of loved,” he quickly adds. To him, fame feels like noise. He counts himself lucky that he hasn’t become traditionally “famous.” “Sometimes it’s nice to just concentrate on the work and what excites you,” he says.

Melling has been able to do just that with his life post-Potter, from his early run in theater to playing chess champ Harry Beltik in the Netflix hit The Queen’s Gambit. However, one role would create a different kind of noise, the kind that would get his industry peers to notice him, if not the public. Seeing Melling as the limbless artist in 2018’s The Ballad of Buster Scruggs would inspire director Scott Cooper (Out of the FurnaceAntlers) to cast the Englishman as a young Edgar Allan Poe in The Pale Blue Eye, Melling’s most impressive on-screen role to date.

“I was struck by that performance,” Cooper tells EW of Melling’s work in Buster Scruggs. “I felt, ‘My God! He would be a really terrific Edgar Allan Poe.’ And as we say in Virginia, he kind of favors Poe. He looks like him.”….

Melling also was interviewed by NPR: “Harry Melling on playing Edgar Allan Poe in the new movie ‘The Pale Blue Eye’”.

…SIMON: The film is set in 1830. But I got to begin by asking, what’s Edgar Allan Poe doing at West Point?

MELLING: I know. That’s what I thought, right? He was there in real life, which is extraordinary….

(10) DOOR HANGER. Found hanging on the internet…

(11) BE FREE. JUNG_E debuts on Netflix on January 20.

Humanity’s hope and ultimate weapon A.I. combat warrior JUNG_E Watch her break free.

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

Pixel Scroll 11/8/22 We Only Scroll Respectable Pixels

(1) MAJOR STATHOPOULOS SHOW. “The Semblance of Things: Portraits by Nick Stathopoulos” will be a comprehensive 30-year survey show coming next February to the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre in Australia. Nick announced it on Facebook.  There’s already an article about the upcoming exhibition in the Centre’s magazine, downloadable at the link.

(2) FIGURING. Cora Buhlert posted a new “Masters of the Universe-piece Theatre” photo story. This one is called “New Look”.

… I have had some new arrivals recently, including the Teela and Zoar two-pack. I mainly bought the two-pack, because I wanted Zoar the Falcon, but I also got a Teela figure with a nice new headsculpt, which is loosely based on the way she looked in the 2002 cartoon, where Teela had a long ponytail instead of her customary upswept hairstyle. And since Teela is my favourite Masters of the Universe character, I’m always happy to have another version of her. Plus, this Teela has a sword, which is the weapon she actually uses most of the time in the various cartoons. The toys mostly only have the snake staff, even though the snake staff only prominently features in the 2002 cartoon – in every other version she uses a sword.

The fact that Teela got a makeover for the two-pack also inspired the following story. Furthermore, I also get to explore the friendship between Teela and Adora that the cartoons never really gave us (so far) some more….

(3) AMAZING. The Kickstarter for the “Amazing Stories Annual Special: SOL SYSTEM by Steve Davidson” now includes a rather clever animated Zoom meeting between famous science fiction figures from H.G. Wells to Octavia Butler. Here’s a teaser – the complete video runs almost five minutes.

(4) HEARING MORE FROM CORA. Issue one of The Lotus Tree Literary Review is out and contains an interview with Cora Buhlert conducted by Jean-Paul L. Garnier: “The Lotus Tree Literary Review, Autumn 2022, Issue #1”.

Garnier: What challenges have you faced as a German author working in English speaking markets?

Buhlert: It’s harder for someone from beyond the Anglosphere (i.e. the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand) to get noticed. First of all, if you come from a non-English-speaking country (and for some countries in Africa and Asia, where English is an official language, even if you come from an English-speaking country), some people will simply assume that you cannot possibly speak English well enough to write in what is not your first language. I have actually had someone leave a long rambling comment on my blog to tell me that I’m obviously too stupid to understand English.

Physical distance is also an issue, because a lot of the big cons happen in the US or UK and attending takes time, money and also the privilege of being able to get a visa at all, something which is a huge issue for SFF writers from Africa, but also from the Middle East and some countries in Asia and Latin America. It’s probably no accident that I was only nominated for the Hugo after I had attended two Worldcons and one Eurocon in person, took part in programming and met a lot of people…

(5) HAILEY PIPER READS. Space Cowboy Books will host an online reading and interview with Hailey Piper author of No Gods for Drowning on Tuesday November 15 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free here.

IN THE BEGINNING, MAN WAS PREY WITHOUT THE GODS, THEY’LL BE PREY AGAIN The old gods have fled, and the monsters they had kept at bay for centuries now threaten to drown the city of Valentine, hunting mankind as in ancient times. In the midst of the chaos, a serial killer has begun ritually sacrificing victims, their bodies strewn throughout the city.

Set in an alternate reality which updates mythology to near-modern day, No Gods For Drowning is part dark fantasy, part noir detective story, and unlike anything you’ve read before, from an author whose imagination knows no boundaries.

(6) A ROBOT WITH A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME. Lavie Tidhar discusses his favorite robot stories: “The Best Robots In Science Fiction” at CrimeReads.

My new novel, Neom, started off with the simple image of a robot and a rose. The robot goes to the market in the city of Neom and buys a flower. It then takes the rose into the desert and leaves it in the sand…

Why?

I wrote the rest of the book just to find out….

Second Variety by Philip K. Dick (1953)

As we go through Neom we find out that my robot (who is never named) had a group of companions during the long-ago war. One of them is, of course, a Tasso, from PKD’s classic story about a war in which humanoid robots infiltrate the human population only to blow themselves up. They come in several models, including the David (a young boy) and a Wounded Soldier, but there are rumours of a new, improved model…

(7) LESLIE PHILLIPS (1924-2022). SYFY Wire reports: Leslie Phillips, “Voice of the Sorting Hat in ‘Harry Potter’ dies at 98”.

Leslie Phillips, the British screen legend who voiced the Sorting Hat in the first two Harry Potter films, has passed away at the age of 98 following a lengthy illness. The anthropomorphic head piece that sorts incoming Hogwarts students into the school’s four famous houses appeared prominently in Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) and Chamber of Secrets (2022) — both of which were helmed by director Chris Columbus.

… The actor’s career dated all the way back to the late 1930s and included over 200 roles in dozens upon dozens of projects spanning film, television, and the stage (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Doctor Who: Medicinal Purposes are just two small examples). Wizarding World fans, however, will forever associate the man with the sagely voice of the tattered magical hat that took Harry’s own desires into consideration and placed the boy wizard into Gryffindor — where dwell the brave at heart….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2018 [By Cat Eldridge.] Sometimes it’s the offbeat stories that I really like from authors, the short works that aren’t expanded into full length stories. Such is the case with Elizabeth Bear’s Sub-Inspector Ferron series. Of course, everything she writes is a delight to read. 

Bear’s Sub-Inspector Ferron series at the present consists alas of but two novellas, “In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns” and “A Blessing of Unicorns”. Will there be more? Oh, I hope so. 

TASTY, SPICY ASIAN SPOILERS FOLLOW. THEY REALLY DO!

These two novellas start with “In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns” which is set a half a century from now. In the city of Bangalore, where  scientist working on cutting-edge biotechnology has been discovered inside his own locked flat, his body converted into a neat block of organic material. 

It’s up to Police Sub-Inspector Ferron to figure out the victim’s past and solve the crime, outwitting the best efforts of whoever is behind the death, her overbearing mother, and the complexities of dealing with the only witness – an ever so cute parrot-cat Chairman Miaow. (The latter, she says are, as I guessed, a cat with parrot colors and “a parrot-like level of intelligence and ability to mimic speech”. That cat will later adopted by her. She already has a fox. 

I’ll note that the stories aren’t freestanding, so the novella, “A Blessing of Unicorns” builds off the first novella, therefore must be experienced after the first is read or listened to.

Together they make up a fascinating look at the life and work of Ferron as a Police Sub-Inspector in a balkanised world where there are no national or regional police forces. No, it’s not some small libertarian wet dream here, but a real world with actual consequences to everything that happens. 

WE HAVE CONSUMED THOSE TASTY MORSELS, SO YIU CAN COME BACK.

There is certainly more than enough story here for her to someday write a novel set in the universe. And I look forward to it. 

When I asked her if there would be a novel in the series, she replied “there might be a novel someday but I really need to visit Bangalore myself to write that! I’ve been relying on friends who hail from there, or who have family there and have visited extensively, but it’s not the same as boots in the dirt experience!”

Fantastic stories told well by a master storyteller, what more do you want? 

The Audible narrations are done most excellently by narrated Zehra Jane Naqvi. She’s an Australian expatriate in the United Kingdom of Anglo-Indian descent. She obvious handles the Indian accents quite wonderfully here.  Another genre connection — She started her voice acting career in a several  Big Finish Productions’ Doctor Who audio dramas with Sylvester McCoy and Peter Davison reprising the Seventh and Fifth and Doctors.

The first one is available at the usual suspects, but the second remains at this time an Audible exclusive though Bear assures me that it will be available soon as as an ebook soon.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 8, 1847 Abraham “Bram” Stoker. You know that he’s author of Dracula but did you know that he wrote other fiction such as The Lady of the Shroud and The Lair of the White Worm? Of course you do, being you. The short story collection Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories was published in 1914 by Stoker’s widow, Florence. (Died 1912.)
  • Born November 8, 1906 Matt Fox. I’m here to praise an illustrator of one of those magazines that published the stories of such writers as Robert Bloch, Manly Wade Wellman and Ray Bradbury. The covers by Fox were of course intended to lure you to magazine rack, pick up the magazine and purchase it. Such was what he did for Weird Tales from November 1943 to July 1951. After that, during the Fifties and Sixties he worked for Atlas Comics, inking and penciling Journey into MysteryWorld of FantasyTales of Suspense and Journey into Unknown Worlds. It is thought that his last known published work is an advertisement, printed in 1967, for original mail-order glow-in-the-dark posters. (Died 1988.)
  • Born November 8, 1914 Norman Lloyd. Yes, those dates are right. His longest genre role was as Dr. Isaac Mentnor on the most excellent Seven Days series. He’s been on Next GenGet Smart! in the form of the Nude Bomb film and visited The Twilight Zone, and in a fair number of horror films from The Dark Secret of Harvest Home to The Scarecrow. (Died 2021.)
  • Born November 8, 1932 Ben Bova. He wrote more than one hundred twenty books. He won six Hugo Awards as editor of Analog, and also once was editorial director at Omni. Hell, he even had the thankless job of SFWA President. (Just kidding. I think.) I couldn’t hope to summarize his literary history so I’ll single out his Grand Tour series that though uneven is overall splendid hard sf as well as his Best of Bova short story collections put out in three volumes. What’s your favorite book by him? (Died 2020.)
  • Born November 8, 1955 Jeffrey Ford, 67. Winner of a very impressive seven World Fantasy Awards as well every other award given to writers of fantastic literature except Hugos. Really there’s too many to list here. He’s got two Hugo nominations, one at Torcon 3 for his “Creation” short story, another at Noreascon 4 for ”The Empire of Ice Cream” novelette “.  And yes, his Well-built City trilogy is amazing.
  • Born November 8, 1956 Richard Curtis, 67. One of Britain’s most successful comedy screenwriters, he’s making the Birthday List for writing “Vincent and the Doctor”, a most excellent Eleventh Doctor story. He was also the writer of Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot which isn’t really genre but it’s Roald Dahl who’s certainly is one of us some of the time, isn’t he? (Please don’t deconstruct that sentence.) And he directed Blackadder which is most decidedly genre.
  • Born November 8, 1968 Parker Posey, 54. Doctor Smith on the rebooted Lost in Space series. I’ve not seen it, so how is it?  She was in a film based on based Dean Koontz’s version of Frankenstein. And she shows in Blade: Trinity as well which I’ll admit I liked.
  • Born November 8, 1952 Alfre Woodard, 70. I remember her best from Star Trek: First Contact where she was Lily Sloane, Cochrane’s assistant. She was also Grace Cooley in Scrooged, and polishing her SJW creds, she once voiced Maisie the Cat in The Brave Little Toaster Goes to School. And yes, I know she’s portrayed a character in Marvel Universe. I just like the obscure roles. 

(10) ROWE Q&A. Marc Tassin interviews Christopher Rowe for the GenCon podcast: “Today’s Guest: Christopher Rowe” at Out of Character with Marc Tassin.

(11) VALLESE ESSAY COLLECTION. Grace Byron’s book review considers “Nightmares Worth Indulging: On Feminist Press’s ‘It Came from the Closet’” at LA Review of Books.

… In his introduction, editor Joe Vallese asks, “[H]ow are we to think about the complicated relationship between the queer community and the horror genre?” Vallese notes that all the contributors “convey a rich reciprocity, complicating and questioning as much as they clarify.” In other words, some of the essays will see horror films as nightmares worth indulging, while still interrogating what the genre gives and takes from queer people.

Ever since (and surely before) Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick offered queer readings of homosociality in Dickens, a certain kind of essay was born. These kinds of queer essays excavate the subtext of dominant culture. The mainstream 2009 film Jennifer’s Body, after all, inspired lesbian titillation and launched a thousand lavender wet dreams. Earlier this year, the father of body horror, David Cronenberg, declared that “surgery is sex” in Crimes of the Future, a few years late to the trans tipping point…

(12) FORGET ABOUT IT. “J.D. Dillard’s Star Wars Project Canceled, Exits Rocketeer Sequel” reports CBR.com.

Filmmaker J.D. Dillard experienced a Disney double whammy, having lost not one, but two prominent projects, Star Wars and The Rocketeer, to which he was attached.

In an interview with The Wrap, the director, who was promoting his latest film, the Jonathan Majors-starring Korean War aviator drama Devotion, dropped news about his formerly promising backlog. Indeed, the Mouse House not only lined him up to direct the long-belated sequel to the 1991 adventure classic, titled The Return of the Rocketeer, but tapped him to direct a mysterious Star Wars feature. However, when asked for an update on those projects, Dillard delivered bad news, stating that his Star Wars movie is “unfortunately no longer a thing. It was not for lack of trying.” He further lamented his nixed endeavor for the iconic space franchise, describing it as “an original idea.” Compounding that, Dillard also revealed his exit from the Rocketeer sequel….

(13) PRODUCT WARNING. Ryan Reynolds tells the people that his new movie Spirited is a Christmas movie with Will Ferrell in it and is NOT ELF. “Legally Required Spirited Disclaimers”.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: World of Warcraft:  Wrath of the Lich King” Fandom Games says in order to play this game you either have to dress like a “Norse hobo” or “an off-brand Dora” the Explorer. The characters either spend time in cold regions where they run past “icy castles, icy beaches, and icy plains” or go underground in “the most positive depiction of sewers since Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

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

Pixel Scroll 11/6/22 Do Young Pixels Snack On Rainbow Colored Scrolls?

(1) CHIP IN. In North Hollywood, CA the “Iliad Bookshop needs help recovering from arson” and a GoFundMe is gathering donations.

On the evening of Thursday, November 3rd, around 11:30 pm, someone piled the Iliad Bookshop’s free books up against the store’s main doors and set fire to the stack. They taped flyers on the store’s walls; the flyers are incoherent but indicate this was a deliberate act of arson.

We were very lucky: neighbors saw the flames and flagged down a passing firetruck; had the firefighters arrived mere moments later, the entire store would probably have gone up. As it is, we suffered heavy damage to the main entry. The doors (which are metal) are still functional, but will need to be either replaced or fixed. We lost lighting fixtures, signage, and wood framing; we also suffered damage to the mural on the right side of the doors. Smoke filled the interior of the store, but we were able to rescue our two cats Zeus and Apollo and we’re hopeful that the damage to the books and fixtures is minimal.

We have high insurance deductibles so we need to cover the cost of replacing the exterior lights, sign, and trim, and touching up the mural…

Lisa Morton, a bookseller at Iliad, wrote this update yesterday:

(2) FREE READ. Sunday Morning Transport’s Julian Yap and Fran Wilde have posted a new fantasy story from Elsa Sjunnesson, “The Found Recollections of Revalor’s Last Oracle”.

The Queen of Revalor appreciates how I always have the right answer, sometimes before she even knows the question….

(3) RINGWEIRD. In a New York Times “By the Book” interview we learn that “Kevin Wilson Likes Books That Mix Tenderness With Weirdness”.

Are there any classic novels that you only recently read for the first time?

Griff and I read Larry Niven’s “Ringworld” and it was so utterly confounding that it was a kind of otherworldly experience. Griff would ask me to clarify all these things about physics and hyperspace, and I would say, “Let’s just read on and maybe it’ll make sense,” and then we’d hit some bizarre sex scene in zero gravity and I’d say, “Good lord, let’s get back to the talking about the tensile strength of the shadow squares.”

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?

Oh, I cannot imagine a thing more difficult for me to handle. What would we eat? How in the world would I keep the conversation going? Could I ask the dead ones about being dead and what comes next? Would they want to play a board game? Could we watch episodes of “Seinfeld” and just talk about that?

But I feel like I’d choose Carson McCullers, Shirley Jackson and Octavia Butler. I love their work and would like to ask them about it, they all seem open to weirdness and wouldn’t mind that I’d burned the food, and I just have this feeling that they’d be up for watching “Seinfeld” and playing canasta while we ordered pizzas.

(4) OKAY TO KEEP SOCKING IT TO DOBBY. According to NPR, “A memorial to Dobby can stay on a Welsh beach, but fans have to stop leaving socks”.

…The proposal to relocate the gravesite to a “suitable publicly accessible location” elicited mixed responses at the time, with some people saying it would be pointless to move the memorial and others questioning the need for having one for a fictional character at all….

(5) WORK IS LIFE. “Lynn Caponera on the Wild and Wonderful Legacy of Maurice Sendak” at Literary Hub.

The typical question when calling the Sendak house was “Is he working?”

And the typical answer was “Yes!”

Friends knew that for Maurice work was a sort of life support. And those in his circle, we who loved him, strove to create an atmosphere conducive to that work that kept him alive.

Maurice found comfort in a rigorous schedule: up at 9:00 am, green tea and English muffin spread with just the right amount of orange marmalade, freshly squeezed orange juice and two hours of reading the New York Times, sprinkled with the hilarious, ridiculous commentary that he swore, of course, he was reading in the paper. 11:00 am answer or return phone calls; 12 noon shower and dress, then an hour walk with one of his beloved dogs.

It was during his walk time that guests could visit if they liked. But it was walk and talk and a quick bite for lunch then off you go. If you weren’t too demanding of his time, you might be asked to sit in the studio while he worked.

(6) MEMORY LANE.

2014 [By Cat Eldridge.] Seanan McGuire’s Ghost Roads series

They have good beer here, these routewitches do, and their grill is properly aged, old grease caught in the corners, the drippings of a hundred thousand steaks and bacon breakfasts and cheeseburgers scraped from a can and used to slick it down before anything starts cooking. The plate they bring me groans under a triple-decker cheeseburger and a pile of golden fries that smell like summer nights and stolen kisses—and they smell, even before the platter hits the table. — Rose telling about a diner on one of the ghost roads. 

Y’all comfortable? Shall we begin?

I have on this Autumn evening come to praise what I consider the best urban folklore ghost story ever told, Seanan McGuire’s Ghost Roads series which started in 2014 and had the latest novel published last year. Indeed within the sub-genre that it is, that of the girl that is killed and is forever making her way home as a hitchhiker, it is simply the best ever written. 

GHOSTLY WHISPERS OF A STORY BEING TOLD ARE HERE, YOU ARE FOREWARNED 

She is telling her stellar ghost story in the Ghost Roads series which, like her novel Indexing, was originally a series of short stories published through The Edge of Propinquity, starting in January of 2010 and ending in December of that year. It appears they’ve been somewhat revised for this telling of her ghostly narrator’s tale but I can’t say how much as I’ve not read the original versions.

This is the story of Rose Marshall, who was the first victim of the man called Bobby Cross, although she was unfortunately not his last. Bobby killed her on Rose’s way to her senior prom by driving her off the side of Sparrow Hill Road. 

Unlike most dead, she didn’t pass on to whatever comes next but rather lives on—both in the ghost roads that exist between the living and the great unknown, and in the mortal world. In the latter, if she’s hitchhiking as a ghost, someone sees her standing there, picks her up, and gives her their jacket as she always looks cold, she becomes flesh for a while. 

As she says, ‘The best thing about having a jacket is the way it makes me live again, at least until the sun comes up the next morning—dawn to dawn, that’s the longest a borrowed life can last.’

WE ARE DONE TALKING TO THE DEAD, SO YOU CAN COME BACK

There are currently three novels here — Sparrow Hill RoadThe Girl in Green Silk Gown and Angel of the Overpass. McGuire does a very excellent job of advancing Rose’s story from novel to novel and the reader will find that McGuire had created a complex world quite unlike anything I’ve encountered before. 

As I said when I started this review, it is by far the best ghost story I’ve read and certainly the Ghost Roads series will be one series that I read again. Oh the audio version narrated by Amy London is quite excellent listening as well. 

And no, I’m not telling you any more of the story beyond what I’ve said above as that would spoil you learning what happens here for yourself! It’s an excellent story told by a remarkable author.

The series had one nomination in 2019, the Endeavour Award given to a science fiction or fantasy book written by a Pacific Northwest author or authors. It was for The Girl in the Green Silk Gown.

Oh, I should mention before I leave you that the author, who is herself a musician, notes that “Music plays a large part in the story of Rose Marshall, and Rose herself has been the topic of several songs … some more accurate than others.” All the songs, I have been told, have been recorded by McGuire.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 6, 1907 Catherine Crook de Camp. Author and editor. Most of her work was done in collaboration with her husband L. Sprague de Camp, to whom she was married for sixty years. Her solo work was largely non-fiction. Heinlein in part dedicated Friday to her. It is worth noting that she has been depicted in works by several authors, usually together with her husband. I’ll single out she appears in stellar S. M. Stirling’s In the Courts of the Crimson Kings and Paul Malmont’s The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown. (Died 2000.)
  • Born November 6, 1914 Jonathan Harris. The deliciously not-to-be-trusted Doctor Zachary Smith, of course, on Lost in Space. He was somewhat typecast as a villain showing up as such as Mr. Piper on Land of the Giants, The Ambassador on Get Smart and the voice of Lucifer on the original Battlestar Galactica. He did play lighter roles such as Johann Sebastian Monroe on Bewitched in the “Samantha on the Keyboard” episode, and the voice of Professor Jones, the second Butler of Freakazoid on the series of that name. (Died 2002.)
  • Born November 6, 1948 Michael Dirda, 74. Currently book critic for the Washington Post. His connection to genre is a fascinating work entitled On Conan Doyle; or, The Whole Art of Storytelling which won the Edgar Award for Best Critical / Biographical Works in 2012 and which looks at his SF work as well. Also worth bringing to your attention is Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books which y’all should naturally be interested in reading. 
  • Born November 6, 1955 Catherine Ann Asaro, 67. She is best known for her books about the Ruby Dynasty, called the Saga of the Skolian Empire. I don’t think I’ve read them, so if you’ve read them, please do tell me about them. She won Nebula Awards for The Quantum Rose novel and “The Spacetime Pool” novella. And the Analog readers really like her, having voted her three An-Lab awards for Best Novella, “Aurora in Four Voices”, “A Roll of The Dice” and “Walk in Silence”.  
  • Born November 6, 1965 Jeffrey Wright, 57. Felix Leiter in the James Bond films Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace which I rather liked, Beetee in The Hunger Games films which I’ve not seen, and played the real-life Sidney Bechet in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, a series I adored.
  • Born November 6, 1965 Sandra Newman, 57. She has two genre novels, both of which did well as mainstream fiction, too: The Country of Ice Cream Star, a near future dystopian feminist novel and The Heavens which may or may not involve time travel back to Elizabethian times. She also co-authored with Howard Mittlemark, How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them–A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide.
  • Born November 6, 1972 Rebecca Romijn, 50. Played Mystique in the X-Men film franchise but my favorite role for her is as Eve Baird, The Guardian of the Library that crosses all realities in The Librarians series.  She also was a regular playing Roxie Torcoletti in Eastwick, yet another riff the John Updike novel. She is now Number One on Discovery
  • Born November 6, 1979 Jennifer Carpenter, 43. Ok, 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 & Punisherwhich 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…

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Alley Oop debates whether ancient humans are ready for alien visitors.

(9) VINTAGE KING Q&A. The Paris Review has allowed their 2006 Stephen King interview to escape the paywall. “The Art of Fiction No. 189”.

INTERVIEWER

When you accepted the National Book Award for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, you gave a speech defending popular fiction, and you listed a number of authors who you felt were underappreciated by the literary establishment. Then Shirley Hazzard, that year’s award winner in fiction, got on stage and dismissed your argument pretty flatly.

KING

What Shirley Hazzard said was, I don’t think we need a reading list from you. If I had a chance to say anything in rebuttal, I would have said, With all due respect, we do. I think that Shirley, in a way, has proven my point. The keepers of the idea of serious literature have a short list of authors who are going to be allowed inside, and too often that list is drawn from people who know people, who go to certain schools, who come up through certain channels of literature. And that’s a very bad idea—it’s constraining for the growth of literature. This is a critical time for American letters because it’s under attack from so many other media: TV, movies, the Internet, and all the different ways we have of getting nonprint input to feed the imagination. Books, that old way of transmitting stories, are under attack. So when someone like Shirley Hazzard says, I don’t need a reading list, the door slams shut on writers like George Pelecanos or Dennis Lehane. And when that happens, when those people are left out in the cold, you are losing a whole area of imagination. Those people—and I’m not talking about James Patterson, we understand that—are doing important work. 

(10) OUT FOR A BITE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Jada Yuan reports from the 34th Anne Rice Vampire Ball in New Orleans where Rice’s fans cosplay as their favorite characters and party all night. “Anne Rice is gone, but her New Orleans vampire ball lives on”.

Way down St. Charles Avenue, beneath ancient oaks, in a 19th-century mansion, the vampires who love Anne Rice were gathering for a masquerade ball Saturday to celebrate the woman many said had changed their lives and opened up their worlds.

So much silk taffeta! So many feathers, towering curled wigs and black goat horns! Spiked headpieces the size of a small sun! Oh so many custom-made fangs! It was no mere costume party. It was universe-creation.

(11) BOOK LOVER’S PICKS. S.A. Barnes, also writing as Stacey Kade is a High School librarian by day, science fiction horror writer by night, and weekends. She obviously loves books. Her latest novel DEAD SILENCE is available here. She’s interviewed by Moid at Media Death Cult. Her top SF/horror book pics are:

  • Dead Space – Kali Wallace
  • Dark Matter – Blake Crouch
  • The Hollow Places – T. Kingfisher
  • Ninth House – Leigh Bardugo
  • All Systems Red (Murderbot) – Martha Wells

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “How Stranger Things Should Have Ended” from HISHE.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, 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 Cat Eldridge.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2001

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

2004

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

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

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

2007

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

(Manager arrives.) “Oh! Hello!”

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

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

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

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

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s not apparently streaming anywhere.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

(12) COMICS SECTION.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pixel Scroll 8/6/22 Ours Is Not To Pixel Why, Ours Is But To Scroll And Die

(1) THEY COULD HAVE BEEN CONTENDERS. Rich Horton has “Hugo Nomination Recommendations, 1959”, which he says is the next-to-last in the series.

…I have cited Jo Walton’s excellent Informal History of the Hugos before, and in that book you can find Jo’s comments on the short lists, her choices for the winners, and comments by a variety of people (myself included) discussing the stories and often offering additional possible nominees or winners. I’ll list Jo’s choices below, along with Richard Lupoff’s short fiction selection from What If, Volume 1. And for the years from 1960 on, I’ll leave the field to Jo! (After all, my thoughts are generally recorded in her book anyway.) I’ve decided to go ahead and make one additional post for stories from 1959, for two reasons: one, to round out the decade of the 1950s by story publication year, not just Worldcon year; and, two, because I was born in 1959….

(2) SUGGESTED INFLUENCES. Phil Christman has an “Interview With Adam Roberts” in his newsletter The Tourist.

…As a British Gen X-er, you were a child during an era of televised fantastika that strikes me (if maybe only me, and a handful of bloggers who use the word “hauntology” a lot) as uniquely rich. I’m thinking of the later Nigel Kneale, or of things like The Owl Service, Sapphire and Steele, and Children of the Stones, not to mention some of the stronger seasons of “Doctor Who,” and even “The Tomorrow People” (laughable as it often is). Was this an influence on you? I’m wondering partly because these shows do “haunted suburb” scenes really well, and that’s true of some of your work—though I suppose that could all just be the influence of Ballard. 

I read Owl Service, and indeed all of Alan Garner (my Dad was at Manchester Grammar School with Garner—I mean, he wasn’t a family friend or anything, but going back to visit relatives meant wandering around Alderley Edge and so on which added a frisson to my reading of Weirdstone of Brisingamen) … although I never saw the TV version. But I did watch Sapphire and SteeleTomorrow People—maybe if I rewatched that one I’d find it laughable, but I certainly didn’t at the time—and of course Doctor Who. But also US shows like The Time Tunnel and Star Trek. TOS Trek is intensely suburban, I think: the bridge of the USS Enterprise is a comfortable suburban living room with a big comfy chair for the ‘Dad’ to sit as he watches the universe come to him via his gigantic TV screen. So much of Trek is a manifestation of the comfortable life, surrounded by labour-saving devices, demure women to attend you like suburban wives and so on.

I never watched what are, now, some of the classic shows—the Patrick Goohan Prisoner series for instance was before my time, I only saw when I was properly grown up, by which time it was basically a period piece. But two shows nobody talks about any more made a big impact upon me: Greatorex’s 1990, and Terry Nation’s Survivors. I also remember the last of the Quatermass series, with John Mills as an elderly Quatermass: I hadn’t seen, and frankly had no idea about, the earlier Quatermass shows, but that 1979 drama worked strangely and powerfully upon my teenage imagination….

(3) INTERNATIONAL SHORT FICTION. InterNova edited by Michael K. Iwoleit is an international SF zine with fiction in English. It’s an offshoot of the German SF zine Nova. The current online issue is here: July 2022 – InterNova.

InterNova is intended be a showcase of contemporary SF writing in all those countries and regions that are generally neglected by the Anglo-American centered sf markets. American and British writers will not be excluded but the main intention is to feature stories and essays by writers who are rarely published outside of their home countries. We will try to be as international as possible, advancing our editorial work into countries and areas that are rarely associated with Science Fiction.

To make InterNova available for readers in as many countries as possible this e-zine is published in English which has become the lingua franca of the international SF community. It is planned, however, to later include some stories in the original languages, especially in Spanish, but also in French and German.

(4) WRITING VIDEO GAME MUSIC. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber discusses video game music and interviews Austin Wintory, whose music for Journey earned him a BAFTA Award.  On August 1, the BBC Proms held their first concert devoted to video game music.

Wintory’s first step is to analyse the gameplay and map out the ‘spider web of possibilities’ of player behaviour.  In his score for Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, an open-world adventure game, he accommodated not only whether a player was fighting or exploring, but also which part of the Victorian London setting they were in, writing musical themes inspired by boroughs such as Whitechapel and Westminster which played as they crossed those particular rooftops.  There would be alternate versions of the score with additional instruments and vocal layers, depending on whether it was day or night on the in-game clock, whether the player had completed specific missions and even which of the game’s two protagonists they were controlling at the time.

What makes one game soundtrack rise above the rest in popularity?  It could be the nostalgia factor, or the marriage of a memorable gameplay moment with the perfect musical accompaniment.  Wintory suspects that it might be the undeniable appeal of a great melody.  “Humans are fundamentally melodic instruments,” he says. “We can’t strum a chord with our vocal cords or simulate a choir on our own.  We sing one note at the time, so it’s not a shock that the music we hold on to is the stuff we can sing back. Melody has always been the thing that united the classics.”

(5) THEY’VE GOT IT GOING ON. Episode 2 of the If This Goes On (Don’t Panic) podcast is “Priuses of the Apocolypse with Tobias Buckell”.

If This Goes On (Don’t Panic) is a podcast about hope and resistance in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Cohosts Alan Bailey, Cat Rambo, Diane Morrison, and Graeme Barber interview a diverse breadth of writers, editors, activists, gamers, and various other members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy community.

(6) CENSORSHIP PROCEEDINGS. Publishers Weekly reports on Virginia litigation that could affect the availability in the state of Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and A Court of Mist and Fury by bestselling author Sarah J. Maas: “With Hearing Set, Court Urged to Dismiss Closely Watched Virginia Obscenity Lawsuits”.

A Virginia state judge has set an August 30 hearing to consider two lawsuits that, if successful, would cause two popular books to be pulled from bookshelves across the state, alleging they are “obscene” under an obscure state law.

First filed in May by lawyer and Republican Virginia assembly delegate Tim Anderson on behalf of plaintiff and Republican congressional candidate Tommy Altman, the suits allege that the graphic memoir Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and A Court of Mist and Fury by bestselling author Sarah J. Maas—are “obscene for unrestricted viewing by minors.” On May 18, judge Pamela Baskervill (a retired judge hearing the case by designation after all the sitting judges in the circuit disqualified themselves) found there was “probable cause” and ordered the defendants to answer the charges.

While the two lawsuits have not been officially consolidated, the court will consider the fate of both cases at the single hearing, noting their “overlap.” According to a June 30 order, the hearing will focus on motions, which, if granted, “would result in dismissal of the suits.” Lawyers for the authors and publisher defendants as well as bookseller Barnes & Noble filed motions to dismiss the suits late last month. Reply briefs from the plaintiffs are due August 9, with final replies due from the defendants on August 16….

(7) LOCAL LIBRARY DEFUNDED. The Guardian reports Gender Queer is also under attack in a Michigan town: “US library defunded after refusing to censor LGBTQ authors: ‘We will not ban the books’”.

A small-town library is at risk of shutting down after residents of Jamestown, Michigan, voted to defund it rather than tolerate certain LGBTQ+-themed books.

Residents voted on Tuesday to block a renewal of funds tied to property taxes, Bridge Michigan reported.

The vote leaves the library with funds through the first quarter of next year. Once a reserve fund is used up, it would be forced to close, Larry Walton, the library board’s president, told Bridge Michigan – harming not just readers but the community at large. Beyond books, residents visit the library for its wifi, he said, and it houses the very room where the vote took place.

…The controversy in Jamestown began with a complaint about a memoir by a nonbinary writer, but it soon spiraled into a campaign against Patmos Library itself. After a parent complained about Gender Queer: a Memoir, by Maia Kobabe, a graphic novel about the author’s experience coming out as nonbinary, dozens showed up at library board meetings, demanding the institution drop the book. (The book, which includes depictions of sex, was in the adult section of the library.) Complaints began to target other books with LGBTQ+ themes.

(8) IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD. Nina Nasseth looks at how horror movies manipulate your brain. “This is Your Brain On Horror” at CrimeReads.

…When we look at what gives any good horror movie its true horror vibe, we end up with two distinct elements: terror and horror. We often use these terms interchangeably, but they are very different. Terror is where tension lives. It’s that awful, creepy-crawly feeling, the anxiety and anticipation that builds toward a horrifying event or realization— basically, it’s the heebie-jeebies. Horror is how we react once that event actually occurs. We can thank Ann Radcliffe, mother of Gothic literature, for those definitions….

(9) UHURA FILK. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] With the sad news of Nichelle Nichols’ passing earlier this week, I kept thinking about this great filksong “Uhura” I heard decades ago by Joey Shoji, a Hawaiian-style love crooner for the Communications Officer of the Enterprise NCC-1701.  It occurred to me, belatedly, to see if the song had been uploaded to the Internet. Turns out, it has, although the quality is a little iffy. It’s the lead-in song in the following video.  I thought it might be a nice tribute.

(10) MEMORY LANE.  

1988 [By Cat Eldridge.] In 1988 during the American fall television season was hampered by a writers’ strike that prevented the writing of any new scripts. Producers, anxious to provide new series for viewers but with the prospect of a lengthy strike, went into the archives for previously written material. And the Powers That Be decided a new Mission Impossible series would be a good idea. 

Now the only actor from the original series that ran from 1966 to 1973 (and which is streaming on Paramount+ though this one is not, odd that) who would end being involved in his series would be Peter Graves who once again is playing Jim Phelps. That might be because the Powers That Be decided to film it in Australia and a lot of actors did decline to disrupt their live by relocating there. The first season was in Queensland before moving to Melbourne.

The only other regular cast member (of course completely unseen) to return for every episode was the voice of “The Tape” (in this series, “The Disc”) in the form of Bob Johnson. I’m assuming his bit was voiced back in the States.

The rest of the cast was of course mostly Australian. Nicholas Black, portrayed by Thaao Penghlis, was an actor, master of makeup/disguise, visual effects, voice impersonation, mimicry. He was there for all thirty episodes. Max Harte who played Tony Hamilton, an expert in strength, acting, role playing and marksmanship. 

Now we get a connection to the first series — Grant Collier, played by Phil Morris who’s the son of Greg Morris, was the computer expert here. And obviously he’s American. 

We had two women, who each did one season and were described as femme fatales in the press releases at the time. Terry Markwell played Casey Randall for the first season and Jane Badler played Shannon Reed, an ex-Secret Service agent, for the second season. She’s actually Australian-American and is best remembered for her role as Diana, the main antagonist on V.

So how were the stories? I liked them a lot. They were more sophisticated in their use of SFX than the earlier series was but that was to be expected, say in “The Devils” where they investigated a member of the English gentry, and involves various officials in Satanic rituals and human sacrifice for blackmail purposes: they are available to make the eyes of Phelps and one other member glow very convincingly and they leave burning cloven hoofs as they leave the room.

Some scripts are reworked ones that were done during the original series. Some like “The Banshee” were from what we could call the slush pile as they never got used. 

To my knowledge as I said, it’s not streaming anywhere, but it on DVD fir quite reasonable prices. I got mine off eBay.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 6, 1874 Charles Fort. Writer and researcher who specialized in anomalous phenomena. The term fortean is sometimes used to characterize such phenomena. No, not genre as such, but certainly an influence on many a writer. The Dover publication, The Complete Books of Charles Fort, that collects together The Book of The Damned and Lo!Wild Talents and New Lands has a foreword by Damon Knight. L. Sprague de Camp reviewed it in Astounding Science-Fiction in the August 1941 issue when it was originally published as The Books of Charles Fort. (Died 1932.)
  • Born August 6, 1877 John Ulrich Giesy. He was one of the early writers in the Sword and Planet genre, with his Jason Croft series. He collaborated with Junius B. Smith on many of his stories though not these which others would call them scientific romances. He wrote a large number of stories featuring the occult detective Abdul Omar aka Semi-Dual and those were written with Smith. I see Apple Books has at least all of the former and one of the latter available. Kindle just has the latter. (Died 1947.)
  • Born August 6, 1911 Lucille Ball. She became the first woman to run a major television studio, Desilu Productions, which is where Star Trek was produced. Her support of the series kept it from being terminated by the financial backers even after it went way over budget in the first pilot. (Died 1989.)
  • Born August 6, 1926 Janet Asimov. Wife of Isaac Asimov. Author of some half dozen novels and a fair amount of short fiction on her own, mostly as J.O. Jeppson; co-author with Isaac of the Norby Chronicles. Her memoir, Notes for a Memoir: On Isaac Asimov, Life, and Writing, came out sixteen years ago. (Died 2019.)
  • Born August 6, 1956 Ian R. MacLeod, 66. Another author I need to read more of. I’ve read the first two in what’s called the Aether Universe series, The Light Ages and The House of Storms, but there’s a number of novels I’m intrigued by including Song of Time and The Great Wheel. Anything else y’all would recommend I read? 
  • Born August 6, 1960 Leland Orser, 62. If you look closely, you’ll spot him in Escape from L.A. as Test Tube and in Independence Day in the dual roles of the Day Tech and a Medical Assistant.  He’s in Daredevil as Wesley Owen Welch, Kingpin’s right-hand man. And someone at Trek casting liked him as he was on Deep Space NineVoyager and Enterprise. All different roles. 
  • Born August 6, 1962 Michelle Yeoh, 60. Ok, I have to give her full name of Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Michelle Yeoh Choo-Kheng. Her first meaningful genre roles was as Wai Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies and Yu Shu Lien in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I actually remember her as Zi Yuan in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, the first film of a since cancelled franchise. And then there’s her dual roles in the Trek universe where she’s Captain Philippa Georgiou and Emperor Philippa Georgiou. A deliciously twisted role. Roles? The forthcoming Section 31 series will involve one of them but I’m not sure which one… or maybe both… Michelle Yeoh is Evelyn Wang in Everything Everywhere All at Once, a role that Filers now are thinking about for their Hugo ballot. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld shows a proofreading machine. It works alarmingly like the File 770 comments section.

(13) POTTERING AROUND. Ranker’s Saim Cheeda presents “Things You Didn’t Know About Wizarding Professions”. First on the list:

1. Curse-Breakers Dig Up Gold And Magical Artifacts

The nature of Bill Weasley’s job isn’t too clear in the novels apart from his status as a curse-breaker for Gringotts Bank. Curse-breakers are specialized roles in which the witch or wizard needs to raid places like tombs and pyramids to find gold and magical artifacts for Gringotts to procure.

Curse-breakers make sure that the protective enchantments and curses around ancient locations are removed to ensure the safety of everyone involved. It’s a dangerous but thrilling job, and Bill Weasley’s distinguished O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. scores are the reason he managed to become a curse-breaker.

(14) A VISIT TO LA-LA-LAND. Ed Brubaker talks to CrimeReads about his graphic novel about Ethan Reckless. “Exploring a Reckless Vision of Los Angeles, with Ed Brubaker”.

…“One of my favorite things about comics, graphic novels, whatever you want to call them, is that it costs the same to do a period piece (or a sci-fi) as it does to do something that takes place in modern times. It’s just about research and trying to get it right. For the Reckless books, I’ve been trying to recreate my kind of ‘dream LA’ from my childhood,” Brubaker said. “I didn’t grow up in Los Angeles, but we visited it a lot in the 70s and 80s, and I was always Hollywood obsessed, because my uncle was a once-famous screenwriter—he wrote Crossfire, On the Beach, and The Wild One, among many others. So in making these books, I’m also trying to showcase forgotten or lost places in LA that meant something to me growing up. Like pieces of the LA punk scene, or cool old restaurants, or the way Venice used to feel—cheaper and more dangerous, but with lots more roller skaters.”…

(15) THEY STEPPED ON SUPERMAN’S CAPE. Last weekend’s box office had a leader you may not have heard about yet because it’s only been released in China so far: “Chinese sci-fi movie ‘Moon Man’ becomes biggest movie in the world after $129 million weekend”.

The Chinese sci-fi movie “Moon Man” outshined all others at the global box office over the weekend.

The film grossed $129 million over the weekend, according to Comscore, and that’s only from the Chinese market. DC’s animated movie “League of Super Pets,” which follows the adventures of Superman’s dog, lagged behind at $41 million internationally.

“Moon Man” follows the story of an astronaut stranded on the moon who believes he’s the last human alive after witnessing an asteroid crashing into Earth.

The film is directed by Zhang Chiyu (“Never Say Die”) and produced by the studio Mahua FunAge (“Hello Mrs Money”).

Before its premiere on July 29, “Moon Man” had over 1.4 million fans rating the movie as “want to see” on Chinese film tracking platforms. It has since gone on to score a 9.4 and 9.5 out of 10 on film sites Maoyan and Taopiaopiao, respectively, according to Variety.

(16) NEW EDITION OF GADALLAH FAVORITE. The Legend of Sarah by Alberta author Leslie Gadallah, a classic Canadian science fiction novel originally published as The Loremasters by Del Rey Books in 1988, is now available in a new, revised edition from Shadowpaw Press.

At fourteen, Sarah is an accomplished pickpocket who knows all the back streets and boltholes of the town of Monn. She steers clear of Brother Parker and his Church of True Faith, knows better than to enter the Inn of The Honest Keeper, and avoids the attentions of Butch, the Miller’s son, as best she can.

The one bright spot in Sarah’s day is listening to the storyteller’s tales of the magically easy lives of the Old People—and if,  as darkness falls, one of the wealthier listeners happens to be so intent on the storyteller’s voice that he becomes careless of his own purse, well, so much the better. Inspired by the storyteller’s narratives, Sarah often imagines her own life as the stuff of legend for some future troubadour.

But even such daydreams can’t prepare her for becoming embroiled with a witchy Phile—an agent of the devil, come in search of the Old People’s hidden secrets. How could Sarah have known that picking the wrong pocket would strand her in the middle of a power struggle among Brother Parker, the Governor, and the encroaching Phile spies?

Leslie Gadallah grew up in Alberta and is currently living in Lethbridge with her geriatric black cat, Spook. Educated as a chemist, she has worked in analytical, agricultural, biological, and clinical chemistry.  She has written popular science for newspapers and radio, has served as a technical editor, and is the author of four SF novels and a number of short stories.

The Legend of Sarah can be bought directly from the publisher or from most online bookstores. This handy URL provides links to multiple online sources:  https://books2read.com/thelegendofsarah

(17) THUMBS UP AND DOWN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This video where Patton Oswalt discusses his picks for the five best and five worst sf films for GQ dropped Wednesday. Independence Day is on the bottom. “Patton Oswalt Critiques Sci-Fi Films (Top 5 & Bottom 5)”.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Gizmodo declares “Weird Al’s ‘Scarif Beach Party’ Is a Star Wars Summer Bop”. It’s from LEGO Star Wars: Summer Vacation which premieres August 5 on Disney+.

We knew that “Weird Al” Yankovic wouldn’t just be appearing in the Lego Star Wars Summer Vacation special, but singing an entirely new song for it. And now that the special has arrived on Disney+ today, the full song has been released as well, and frankly? It rules.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/25/22 Pixel 10-10 Whose Gracious Presence Illuminates The File Like The EdgeScroll Of A Knife

(1) BLACK MALE HEROES MIA. The Wakanda Forever trailer debuted at Comic-Con. Steven Barnes offered this reaction on Facebook.

There are three different, easily observable facts that I cross reference for my comments on WAKANDA FOREVER:

1) At this point in the MCU (movies and Disney+) they killed the only fully functional black male hero. Leaving ZIPPO. In comparison, every white hero has had relationships and sexual chemistry with a woman.

2) No dramatic network hourlong series had ever lasted more than two seasons with a black lead (name coming first in the credits) until about 2006, THE UNIT.

3) No film that earned over 100 million domestic ever had a black male star in a love scene until 2015, CREED.

##

Yes, I connect these. Yes, I connect this with core human tribalism: there is nothing special, positively or negatively, about white people. But yes, they are the dominant group and therefore their money and decisions have disproportional impact.

And those white people, forced to admit I’m right about 2 or 3, tend to deny that any specific film was influenced by these factors. Unless they can, I conclude that they have a convenient blindness, and discount their opinions.

That’s it, right there. Unless one can disprove one of these three, you have nothing.

Barnes followed up with this analogy:

Imagine if Gal Gadot had died right after making WW, and they decided not to recast, and made the sequel about Steve Trevor and his male friends. Precisely how happy do you think women would be about this?

(2) CLIP JOINT. Gizmodo says this is a list of “All The Trailers Released At Comic Con 2022”. I probably don’t need to fill the Scroll with even more trailers than I already have, however, if you’re interested you can check for the ones I missed.

The 2022 San Diego Comic-Con was held in person last week for the first time since 2019, and exhibitors made up for the long time away with a huge number of new movie and TV show trailers. The big comic book movie news came when Marvel returned to Hall H and debuted trailers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and She Hulk: Attorney at Law; A Guardians of the Galaxy 3 and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantamania trailer were also shown, but only those at Hall H were able to see it. DC struck back with new trailers for Shazam! Fury of the Gods and Black Adam.

But of course, Comic Con has gotten a lot bigger than just comic books: By our current count, more than 35 trailers were released during the four day festival from studios including Universal, Paramount, Amazon, Fox and Disney….

(3) TANGLED UP IN BLUE. DreamHaven Books showed Facebook readers how much progress has been made on their new wall mural.

(4) THE VIEW FROM SPACE. In “There Is No Final Frontier” Publishers Weekly talks with William Shatner about his memoir Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder coming in October.

You write that when you went to space, “there was no mystery, no majestic awe to behold… all I saw was death. I saw a cold, dark, black emptiness.” How surprised were you by that?

I was struck dumb. I was absolutely gobsmacked because I’ve been amazed by the miracles of space for a long time. And I saw none of that in that blackness. All I saw was what I described in that quote. And it came as a shock because I had just been looking at Earth as we were leaving it, and I was thinking, my God, look how beautiful it is….

(5) US IN FLUX. Last month ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination launched the 2022 summer season of Us in Flux, a series of short fiction and virtual events about reimagining and reorganizing communities in the face of transformative change.

Today CSI published the second story in the series: “University, Speaking,” by Phoebe Wagner, “a lyrical piece about how we might reimagine universities as radically open to their communities, better attuned to addressing local challenges.”

On Thursday, July 28, at 12:00 p.m. Pacific, they will host a virtual conversation with Phoebe and Punya Mishra, director of Arizona State University’s Learning Futures initiative, about the story and the task of redesigning educational institutions in the midst of crisis. Learn more and register here.

(6) DOES MOORCOCK NEED THE MEDAL? Christopher Neely has created a petition at Change.org calling for a “Michael Moorcock Nobel Prize IN Literature”.

There’s a kind, old English man that did everything the hard way and has given our culture iconic fiction, journalism, fantasy, and the foundation for a whole school of thought for both an entire branch of theoretical physics and one of the most successful entertainment franchises of the last two centuries.  And he’s still alive. He coined the word Multiverse almost 60 years ago. His characters are Iconic to the point that these attributes of humanity, story arc, and plot have become tropes in several genres of the literary world. He did it first, from steampunk, to his influence on cyberpunk with JerryCornelius. His alternate history writings alone are worthy of required reading for every thinking adult. He is an international treasure that transcends time and genres.  His contributions to music, art, and literature can hardly be overstated. He may very well be the most prolific original creator who’s works have ever been recorded. 

(7) A NAME TO CONJURE WITH. The Ringer explains how he’s building his brand in “Jordan Peele Exists in a Space of His Own”.

…Just three movies into his directing career and a mere five years since moving from one side of the camera to the other, Peele has become the rarest of Hollywood anomalies: a filmmaker whose byline alone puts asses in seats. The Nope trailer—and in fact the entire marketing campaign for the movie, including the first poster, an intriguingly cryptic tease in its own right—is built around the assumption that audiences will not only recognize Peele’s name but be instantly enticed by it. His credit in big white letters is an invitation to step once more into the mind behind Get Out and Us—though, in a true testament to Peele’s fame, neither of those movies is even mentioned in the trailer. “From Jordan Peele” is enough.

There are plenty of directors who qualify as household names, recognizable to the average moviegoer. But in contemporary Hollywood, how many of them are treated like the actual draw of a project, more crucial to its appeal than the stars, the IP, or the premise? Even Steven Spielberg, probably the most famous filmmaker alive, isn’t assumed to be an attendance magnet….

(8) DAVID WARNER (1941-2022). Actor David Warner died July 24 at the age of 80. He performed many genre roles among his over 200 movie and TV appearances, including Time After Time, Tron, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Time Bandits, The Man With Two Brains, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Twin Peaks, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, The Lost World, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Lois & Clark, Babylon 5, Pooh’s Grand Adventure, Planet of the Apes, Doctor Who, and Mary Poppins Returns. He also was Ra’s-Al-Ghul in three series.

(9) MATT KING OBIT. Meow Wolf Co-Founder and Senior Creative Director Matt King died two weeks ago according to the Santa Fe Reporter, which did not specify the date. He was 37 years old. The Meow Wolf “art collective” in Santa Fe got their start with a $3.5 million investment from George R.R. Martin, and many of their “immersive installations” are sf related. 

…King was present at the first-ever Meow Wolf planning meeting in 2008 and throughout its earliest immersive installations and dance parties that took place in the shabby old warehouse on Hopewell Street, where the company began. At one point, Kadlubek reminisces, King worked three jobs to help keep the rent paid at a time when community donations were scant.

King was also pivotal in the 2016 opening of Meow Wolf’s flagship Santa Fe location, House of Eternal Return, as well as Las Vegas, Nevada’s Omega Mart and Denver’s Convergence Station. At the latter, Kadlubek says, King’s vision led to the much-ballyhooed Cathedral room, another room-sized piece dubbed Gremlin Symphony and other projects….

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1972 [By Cat Eldridge.] At the very first L.A. Con which was held fifty years ago at the International Hotel in Los Angeles with Charles Crayne and Bruce Pelz being Chairs, A Clockwork Orange wins the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. I know Mike was there. I believe it was his first Con. 

It was the overwhelming choice for that honor, garnering two hundred and eighty-five final ballots to the one hundred and forty-eight that the second-place finisher, Andromeda Strain, received.  

I recognized the entire ballot (which also included THX 1138, and I Think We’re All Bozos on This Bus — serious drug vibes there, eh?) with exception of Name of the Game: Los Angeles: A.D. 2017. When I asked Mike about that one, he said, “You mean that you don’t recognize it? Yeah, it was a TV show. I watched it (and as you know, in those days if you didn’t see it when it aired, you didn’t see it!) I suppose it was only nominated because it was sf and people ran out of better ideas to put on their ballots.” 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 25, 1907 Cyril Luckham. He played the White Guardian first in the Fourth Doctor story, “The Ribos Opperation”, part one, and then twice more in the two-part Fifth Doctor story, “Enlightenment”.  He was also Dr. Moe in the Fifties pulp film Stranger from Venus, and also showed up in The Omega Factor, A Midsummer Night’s DreamRandall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and Tales of The Unexpected. (Died 1989.)
  • Born July 25, 1910 Kendell Foster Crossen. He was the creator and writer of the Green Lama stories.  The character was a Buddhist crime fighter whose powers were activated upon the recitation of the Tibetan chant om mani padme hum. He also wrote Manning Draco series, an intergalactic insurance investigator, four of which can be found in Once Upon a Star: A Novel of the Future. The usual suspects have a really deep catalog of his genre work, and the Green Lama stories have been made into audio works as well. (Died 1981.)
  • Born July 25, 1921 Kevin Stoney. He appeared in three serials of the science fiction series Doctor Who over a period of ten years, playing Mavic Chen in The Daleks’ Master Plan during the time of the First Doctor, Tobias Vaughn in The Invasion during the time of the Second Doctor and Tyrum in Revenge of the Cybermen during the time of the Fourth Doctor. Other genre credits include: The Adventures of Robin HoodDanger ManThe AvengersThe PrisonerDoomwatchThe Tomorrow PeopleSpace: 1999, The New AvengersQuatermass, and Hammer House of Horror. (Died 2008.)
  • Born July 25, 1922 Evelyn E. Smith. She has the delightful bio being of a writer of sf and mysteries, as well as a compiler of crossword puzzles. During the 1950s, she published both short stories and novelettes in Galaxy Science FictionFantastic Universe and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her SF novels include The Perfect Planet and The Copy Shop. A look at the usual suspects shows two story collections but none of her novels. Interestingly, there are myriad stories by her offered up separately for sale. (Died 2000.)
  • Born July 25, 1937 Todd Armstrong. He’s best known for playing Jason in Jason and the Argonauts. A film of course made excellent by special effects from Ray Harryhausen. His only other genre appearance was on The Greatest American Hero as Ted McSherry In “A Chicken in Every Plot”. (Died 1992.)
  • Born July 25, 1948 Brian Stableford, 74. I am reasonably sure that I read and enjoyed all of the Hooded Swan series a long time ago which I see has been since been collected as Swan Songs: The Complete Hooded Swan Collection. And I’ve certainly read a fair amount of his short fiction down the years. His latest novel, Beyond the Mountains of Madness, just came out.
  • Born July 25, 1971 Chloë Annett, 51. She played Holly Turner in the Crime Traveller series and Kristine Kochanski in the Red Dwarf series. She was in the “Klingons vs. Vulcans” episode of the Space Cadets, a sort of game show. 
  • Born July 25, 1973 Mur Lafferty, 49. Podcaster and writer. Co-editor of the Escape Pod podcast with Divya Breed. She is also the host and creator of the podcast I Should Be Writing which won a Parsec Award for Best Writing Podcast. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Escape Artists short fiction magazine Mothership Zeta. And then there’s the Ditch Diggers podcast she started with Matt Wallace which is supposed to show the brutal, honest side of writing. For that, it won the Hugo Award for Best Fancast at Worldcon 76 (2018), having been a finalist the year before.  Fiction wise, I loved both The Shambling Guide to New York City and A Ghost Train to New Orleans with I think the second being a better novel. She has two nominations at Chicon 8, first for Best Semi Prozine as part of the Escape Pod team, second for Best Editor, Short Form with S.B. Divya. 

(12) ENJOY COMIC-CON’S SOUVENIR BOOK. Comic-Con International’s 2022 Souvenir Book is available as a free download should you be so inclined.

This year’s Souvenir Book is a downloadable pdf, filled with lots of full-color articles, including: centennial tributes to Charles Schulz, Stan Lee, Jerry Robinson, and William S. Gaines; a celebration of the 60th anniversary of Spider-Man; 50th anniversary articles on Funky Winkerbean, Ghost Rider, Kamandi, Swamp Thing, and Luke Cage; and 40th anniversary pieces on The Rocketeer, Groo, and Love and Rockets. Plus: a special look back at Comic-Con’s 1970s El Cortez years!

The cover, a salute to Dave Stevens’ Rocketeer, is by Comic-Con Special Guest Bill Morrison.

(13) FLIGHT PLAN. “Vibrators, Weed, Plants: What Can You Take on a Plane?” – the New York Times checked in with TSA.

Is my Harry Potter wand OK?

…Cremated human remains get a little more complicated, while cricket bats and cutting boards are best left in checked luggage. Musical instruments like violins are allowed after they undergo a T.S.A. screening, but for brass instruments, the suggestion is to check them. And if you’re a Harry Potter fan, fear not — wands are allowed on flights.

Despite the T.S.A.’s rules, there’s one item in particular that Ms. Farbstein said she still sees confiscated far too often: knives. “We see knives every day,” she said.

As many as four tons of different kinds of knives and large tools get confiscated at Newark Liberty International Airport in an average year, according to Ms. Farbstein. The T.S.A. then sends them off in bulk to the State of Pennsylvania, she said, which sells them for profit at a surplus store in Harrisburg.

Travelers should remember that knives of all kinds are not allowed on flights, said Ms. Farbstein.

(14) THEY KNOW HOW TO TWANG THEIR MAGIC PLONKERS. CBR.com presents its list of the “10 Strongest Students At Hogwarts, Ranked”.

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is one of the most acclaimed educational establishments in Harry Potter. Like Beauxbatons Academy and Durmstrang Institute, it forges young pupils into formidable witches and wizards. Hogwarts alumni include some of the greatest magic-users of the 20th century — Albus Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall, Severus Snape, and Lord Voldemort, to name a few.

Starting at the bottom:

10. Vincent Crabbe Learns To Cast The Devastating Fiendfyre Curse

Along with Gregory Goyle, Vincent Crabbe spends most of his time as Draco Malfoy’s boneheaded minion. He fails his Fifth Year O.W.L. exams, indicating that he’s exactly as intelligent as he sounds. Crabbe may not exhibit the stereotypical Slytherin shrewdness, but he’s certainly capable of casting the darkest magic known to Wizardkind.

He learns a variety of jinxes and hexes from Alecto and Amycus Carrow, although it’s still not clear how he knows the devastating Fiendfyre curse. The very fact that Crabbe uses Fiendfyre sets him apart from the rest of his cohort, regardless of what happens to him in the end.

(15) CANNED ENGINEER. “Google Fires Engineer Who Claims Its A.I. Is Conscious” reports the New York Times. The decision was a no-brainer.

Google fired one of its engineers, Blake Lemoine, on Friday, more than a month after he raised ethical concerns about how the company was testing an artificial intelligence chatbot that he believes has achieved consciousness.

A Google spokesman, Chris Pappas, said Mr. Lemoine, a senior software engineer in its Responsible A.I. organization, “chose to persistently violate clear employment and data security policies that include the need to safeguard product information.”

The company, which denies that its chatbot language model is sentient, had placed Mr. Lemoine on paid leave in June. Mr. Lemoine confirmed his dismissal in a text message on Friday, and said he was meeting with lawyers to review his options. The firing was first reported by the newsletter Big Technology….

(16) A NOT ENTIRELY UNEXPECTED PARTY. [Item by Dann.] No idea about the veracity of the image but it did make me laugh. Found it on Facebook with all of the cautions that implies.  

(17) SAY THE MAGIC WORD. Shazam! Fury Of The Gods opens in theaters internationally beginning December 15 and in North America on December 21.

From New Line Cinema comes “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” which continues the story of teenage Billy Batson who, upon reciting the magic word “SHAZAM!,” is transformed into his adult Super Hero alter ego, Shazam.

(18) FLAME ON. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Tom Scott goes to a 400-year-old dragon-slaying festival in a small German village where the dragon is the world’s largest walking robot, built for 2.3 million euros. “A 400-year-old festival has the world’s largest walking robot”.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/22/22 And The Pixel That Was Planted In My Brain Still Remains, Within The Scrolls Of Filers

(1) BOT AND PAID FOR. In “Fandoms Can Do Bad All by Themselves”, Vice looks at reports about what percentage of social media support for the release of the Zack Snyder cut of Justice League came from bots, but concludes most of it was probably genuine.

According to a report in Rolling Stone, the very online campaign for the release of Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League was a battle waged in no small part by bots. The report is gossipy fun and well worth reading in full—multiple sources tell reporter Tatiana Siegel that Snyder, discoursing on his enemies to a studio executive, said, “I will destroy them on social media,” and it gets more absurd from there—but the main impression the reader is left with is that the pro-Snyder movement was perhaps not quite as organic as it seemed. One interesting thing is that it’s not clear how much that would matter—the behavior of most fandoms when they’re incensed, after all, is not all that different from bots to begin with.

… The outlet commissioned reports from three different cybersecurity and social-media firms, and also quotes from reports that were commissioned by Warner Bros. According to reports commissioned by Rolling Stone, at least 13% of the accounts using the hashtags related to the Snyder fandom were deemed fake—much higher than the average of around 5%. Because people and bots using this hashtag would often target specific Warner Bros. executives with implied death threats, Rolling Stone reports, the studio hired cybersecurity firms to analyze its contents. While all acknowledge that any popular hashtag will have bot activity, at a few points in the article different people argue that if Snyder was scheming behind the scenes at the Warner Bros. studios, then these bots must have been under his control as well. (One site, forsnydercut.com, was at one point registered by an ad agency, but Rolling Stone was unable to establish a connection between Snyder and a person apparently behind the site, whom he denied knowing or hiring.)

While this report is full of juicy gossip surrounding Snyder’s behavior towards the people he felt had wronged him, it probably somewhat overstates the power of robot armies; whatever else Snyder was or wasn’t in control of, he certainly knew how to present himself to a fandom in order to garner its sympathy….

(2) LOVE NEVER FAILS. “Sarah Gailey On Loving Monsters” at CrimeReads.

Just Like Home is dedicated “to everyone who ever loved a monster.”

It is the easiest thing in the world to love a monster. It’s easy to love a monster because love isn’t a decision. It’s no one’s fault that love happens. Emotions, urges, and impulses are themselves beyond our ability to control. Love in its many forms wells up out of the human spirit irrepressibly. Like anger or sadness or the desire to kill, it arrives without invitation or intention. Action might spring from emotion—love might lead to an expression of affection, anger might lead to violence, a powerful impulse might lead to a monstrous act. But on its own, love is no different from any other feeling. To love a monster is easy, when the monster seems loveable.

It’s easy for a monster to seem loveable. All monsters partition other people into two categories—those who witness their monstrosity, and those who don’t. Maybe this is because the monster sees the world as divided into unequal parts, where some deserve to flourish while others deserve to be the targets of ungoverned impulse. Or maybe it’s because monsters want to be loved just as much as anyone else, and they understand that those who experience their ungoverned impulses aren’t likely to give them support, affection, admiration. Maybe it’s just another reflex, as unconscious as the way my voice slips into a slightly different register when I’m around trusted friends….

(3) AFROFUTURISM NEWS. In the Guardian’s interview with artist and filmmaker Edward George, he talks about Black cultural history, Tupac Shakur, the evolution of dub and his remarkable cinema essays with the Black Audio Film Collective: “Edward George: ‘You can’t have Afrofuturism without some ambience of a fascist thinking creeping in’”.

…Last Angel is not only a film about science fiction but, partly influenced by Chris Marker’s 1962 film La Jetée, it features a character called the “data thief” who travels back from the year 2195 to probe the failure of the Ghanaian revolution. If this all sounds hugely ambitious, Icarean even, that’s part of its appeal. It played a crucial role in popularising Afrofuturism – a term first coined by white theorist Mark Dery, and now used to describe countless exhibitions, film series and even films (such as the feudalism-romanticising Black Panther) in which the term is used breezily, a floating signifier for something to do with technophilia, empowerment, a vague and breezy form of utopianism. “Because of the ways it uses the archive, its montage, its commentary – the film has become a codex of futurity,” says George.

“If you want to fetishise futurity less, you have to go back to the plantations and to the slaves themselves: a lot of the songs that they were singing were literally about a tomorrow. These were cast in the metaphysical language of the day – that of the Bible – which was an act of mastery in itself. More than that, look at Italian futurism in the early 20th century: it opened out on to all kinds of fascism. You can’t have futurity, or futurism, or Afrofuturism, without some ambience of a fascist thinking creeping in.”…

(4) FLINT FUNDRAISER ACHIEVES GOAL. The “Eric Flint” GoFundMe created to help pay the costs of memorial services raised $12,540. The organizer announced, “The family wants to thank you for your generosity. We have reached the goal and will be closing the campaign. Hug your loved ones today.”

(5) SFWA SPOTLIGHTS ROMANCE STEERING COMMITTEE. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) announced that a SFWA Romance Steering Committee (RSC) was formed in Fall 2021.

The RSC will offer meaningful input and assistance in cultivating a positive trajectory for authors of stories that combine fantasy, science fiction, and romance in a way that encourages diversity, engagement, and quality, while also providing outreach and support resources for romance writers struggling with inclusion in the SFF community at large.

RSC resources that are already available, or will be soon, include:

  • The SFWA Discord channel #romantic-sff
  • Monthly posts in the Romancing SFF series on the SFWA Blog searchable here.
  • A Romancing SFF Meetup to be held in the fall.

The members of the Romance Steering Committee are Alexia Chantel, Claire Davon, Miranda Honfleur (co-chair), Victoria Janssen, Chelsea Mueller (co-chair), Abigail Reynolds, Katherine Ley, and R.K. Thorne.

(6) HOT ITEM. From AbeBooks “Most expensive sales from April to June 2022”, see the asbestos-bound copy of Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. The third-biggest sale of the quarter, it went for $22,500.

This is the famous asbestos-bound edition of Bradbury’s classic dystopian novel about the power of books. #83 of 200 signed and numbered copies. A regular signed first edition of Fahrenheit 451 sold for $12,000 via AbeBooks earlier in the year.

Sixth on the list was Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland illustrated by Salvador Dali sold for $21,375.

(7) CYBER-GROUNDHOG DAY. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Sure, sounds useful, but also “Yet another ‘what could possibly go wrong,’ e.g., heists/capers, foreign invaders, alien invaders, and AI/cyber takeovers. E.g, Niven/Pournelle Oath of Fealty, probably also at least one PK Dick story. “Earthgrid Aims To Rewire the USA Using Super-Cheap Tunnel Tech” at Slashdot.

Bay Area startup Earthgrid says it’s developing a plasma boring robot that can dig underground tunnels 100x faster and up to 98% cheaper than existing tech, and it plans to use it to start re-wiring America’s energy, internet and utilities grids….

(8) SHATNER LENDING VOICE TO MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. Yahoo! was a witness as “William Shatner crashes Comic-Con—and soon, Masters Of The Universe”.

He-Man and his friends will welcome a new addition to the follow-up to Netflix’s Masters Of The Universe: Revelation—an animated series set in outer space that, up until now, has been sorely lacking anyone who’s actually been in outer space. William Shatner made a surprise appearance at Thursday’s San Diego Comic-Con panel celebrating 40 years of Masters Of The Universe toys, films, and series, at which series creator Kevin Smith confirmed that Shatner will voice a mystery character in the upcoming Masters Of The Universe: Revolution.

The legendary Star Trek actor and actual astronaut arrived to deliver the news of his casting in the most conceivably Comic-Con way possible: his booming voice startling and delighting Hall H audience members before he emerged to join the panel. The 2022 edition of the convention is a busy one for Shatner, who was also on hand to preview a forthcoming documentary about his life produced by Legion M, the production company created and led entirely by fans. “San Diego Comic-Con has grown,” he quipped. “There’s something in the water. It used to be a little sleepy town!”…

There are more details about the panel in CBR.com’s article “SDCC: He-Man & the Masters of the Universe 40th Anniversary Panel”.

Cora Buhlert is keeping a sharp eye on these developments. She notes there will be another Masters of the Universe panel on Friday focused on the toys. Plus, says Cora, “Mattel has a huge toy display at the con, including a diorama featuring the massive Eternia playset, of which only a handful were produced in the 1980s. Apparently, the Eternia set will be crowdfunded, e.g. Mattel will be collecting preorders and only then go into production. There are a couple of videos about the Mattel display online. This one is pretty detailed and offers a good look at the Eternia diorama and the other toys announced.”

(9) BUHLERT’S NEW TOY PHOTO STORY. The previous item would have been the perfect lead-in to a new Masters of the Universe figure photo story, but that’s not the source of her latest, which is “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter”, an adaptation of a story by Robert E. Howard.

…For those who don’t know, “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter” is the second story about Conan of Cimmeria that Robert E. Howard ever wrote, ninety years ago now. It was rejected by Weird Tales and only published in altered form (with Conan renamed Amra) in the fanzine The Fantasy Fan during Howard’s lifetime. The original version did not appear until way after Howard’s death. You can read the Amra version here.

“The Frost-Giant’s Daughter” is set early during Conan’s career. Many believe it is the earliest of Conan’s chronicles adventures. I’m not entirely convinced by this, but Conan is definitely young in this story.

My adaptation differs from the original story in two aspects. For starters, I made it less rapey. Secondly, instead of the male pseudo-Viking companions from the original story, the companion I gave Conan is Valeria of the Red Brotherhood, pirate, mercenary, swordswoman and all around awesome character, whom Conan meets in the later story “Red Nails”.

So I present you: “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter” by Robert E. Howard, starring Conan of Cimmeria and Valeria of the Red Brotherhood…

(10) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to dig into dumplings with Patrick O’Leary in episode 176 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Patrick O’Leary

We discussed the way his new novel 51 is similar to The Great Gatsby, why he believes his books will crumble if he attempts to describe them, the perils and pleasures of pantsing (and how his stories often don’t get any good until the 15th draft), the tragedy of being an invisible creature, our mutual fears of what aging might bring, his love for Marvel Comics (and especially the Silver Surfer), how Laura Ingalls Wilder introduced him to literature, the way reading Kurt Vonnegut taught him there were no rules, the two science fiction greats who literally left him speechless, and much more.

(11) ALAN GRANT (1949-2022). Comic writer Alan Grant, best known for his work on Judge Dredd and Batman, died July 20 at the age of 73. 2000AD has a full profile of his career here.

…Grant was one of his generation’s finest writers, combining a sharp eye for dialogue and political satire with a deep empathy that made his characters seem incredibly human and rounded. Through his work he had a profound and enduring influence on 2000 AD and on the comics industry….

(12) MEMORY LANE.  

1922 [By Cat Eldridge.] One hundred years ago, Agatha Christie’s Secret Adversary was released in the United Kingdom by The Bodley Head. The novelintroduces Tommy and Tuppence who will be featured in three more novels and a collection of short stories. The five Tommy and Tuppence books would span Christie’s writing career.

The story here is that the Great War is over, and jobs are almost impossible to find, so childhood friends Tommy Beresford and Prudence “Tuppence” Cowley decide to start their own business as The Young Adventurers. In this novel, they are hired for a job that leads them into many dangerous situations, and meeting allies as well, including an American millionaire in search of his cousin.

The critics liked it. The Times Literary Supplement said it was “a whirl of thrilling adventures” and the Daily Chronicle was very happy with it: “It’s an excellent yarn and the reader will find it as impossible as we did to put it aside until the mystery has been fathomed.” 

It would be the second Christie work to be turned into a film as it would be made in Germany by the Orplid Film company in 1929 as a silent movie which ran for 76 minutes. Thought to be lost, it wasn’t and was shown at the National Film Theatre in 2001. 

The novel was adapted twice for television, in 1983 and in 2014. Significant changes were made to story. A graphic novel was done.  Several theatre productions were staged. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 22, 1882 Margery Williams. The Velveteen Rabbit (or How Toys Become Real) is the work that is by far her best known work. Is it genre? Sure. And it has been adapted as video, audio and theatre myriad times. One audio version was narrated by Meryl Streep with music by George Winston. (Died 1944.)
  • Born July 22, 1932 Tom Robbins, 90. Author of such novels as Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and Another Roadside Attraction. ISFDB lists everything he’s done as genre and who am I to argue with them on this occasion at least? Well I will. Now Jitterbug Perfumethat’s definitely genre! Cowgirls Get the Blues got made into a rather excellent film by Gus Van Sant and stars Uma Thurman, Lorraine Bracco, and Keanu Reeves. Interesting note: Still Life with Woodpecker made the long list at one point for the Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian SF Novel. 
  • Born July 22, 1941 Vaughn Bodé. Perhaps best known for the Cheech Wizard character and his art depicting erotic women. For our purposes, he’s a contemporary of Ralph Bakshi and has been credited as a major influence on Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings and Wizards. He’s been inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame. (Died 1975.)
  • Born July 22, 1944 Nick Brimble, 78. His first genre role was in Lust for a Vampire as the First Villager. He next shows up in Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound as The Monster.  He’s Sir Ectot in A Knight’s Tale which I really like be it genre adjacent or not. His lastest film genre role is as Dr. Zellaby in Soulmate, and he’s the voice of Owsla in the Watership series. 
  • Born July 22, 1959 Nigel Findley. He was a game designer, editor, and an author of science fiction and fantasy novels and RPGs. He was also part of the original Shadowrun RPG core group and has sole writing credit on both sourcebooks and Shadowrun world novels. Yes, I played Shadowrun, a most enjoyable experience. (Died 1995.)
  • Born July 22, 1972 Colin Ferguson, 50. Best known for being Sheriff Jack Carter on  Eureka. Damn I miss that series which amazingly won no Hugos. (I just discovered the series is on the Peacock streaming service which I subscribe to so I’m going to watch it again!) He’s also been in Are You Afraid of the DarkThe HungerThe X-FilesThe Outer Limits, the Eureka “Hide and Seek” webisodes (anyone seen these?) and The Vampire Diaries. Oh and he made a series of commercials for Maytag.

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • Last Kiss has genre-related advice for a foundering romance.

(15) COLBERT AT COMIC-CON. “SDCC: Stephen Colbert hosts Lord Of The Rings extravaganza”A.V. Club has the story.

Amazon spent nearly half a billion dollars on their new Lord Of The Rings series, and at least half of that must’ve gone into their Comic-Con panel. Led by a string accompaniment featuring series composer Bear McCreary, the panel kicked off with the music of Middle Earth to set the stage, and Late Show host Stephen Colbert on hand to speak elvish and keep things moving.

Prime Video played a room-wrapping trailer on screens all around Hall H, showing off the various peoples of Middle Earth. And all that’s before showrunner J.D. Payne taught us to say “Oh, shit” in Elvish—only to be challenged by Colbert. “Tolkien speaks the language of the soul,” said Payne. And he also speaks the language of debate.

… And finally, Colbert asked question that was on everyone’s lips: “Will there be Entwives?”

“Maybe you’ve seen them already,” McKay teased.

(16) RINGS TRAILER. Here’s the “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” trailer shown at San Diego Comic-Con. Begins streaming September 2 on Prime Video.

Discover the legend that forged the rings. #TheRingsOfPower Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.

(17) FREE READ. Cora Buhlert has a new flash story online at Wyngraf Magazine. This one is called “Demon Child” which she says “is a changeling story in reverse.” The first line is —

“I swear to you, this baby is a monster,” Sansavi said as she pushed the pram back and forth across the black bridge of Zairahm….

(18) A COMIC ABOUT MARTIANS IN PASADENA. NPR presents “NASA engineer Nagin Cox on Mars rover time”. “This comic, illustrated by Anuj Shrestha, is inspired by an interview with NASA engineer Nagin Cox from TED Radio Hour’s episode It Takes Time.

(19) ALTERNATE RACE TO MARS CONTINUES. “’For All Mankind’ Renewed for Season 4 at Apple”Variety reports from Comic-Con.

For All Mankind” has been renewed for Season 4 at Apple.

The announcement was made Friday as part of the show’s panel at San Diego Comic-Con. Production on the new season is scheduled to begin in August. Season 3 of the series debuted on the streamer on June 10.

“For All Mankind” is an alternative history series that explores what would have happened if the global space race had never ended. The series presents an world where NASA astronauts, engineers and their families find themselves in the center of extraordinary events seen through the prism of an alternate history timeline — a world in which the USSR beats the US to the moon.

In Season 3, the series moved into the early ‘90s with a race to a new planetary frontier: Mars. The Red Planet becomes the new front in the Space Race not only for the U.S. and the Soviet Union, but also an unexpected new entrant with a lot to prove and even more at stake. The characters find themselves going head-to-head as their ambitions for Mars come into conflict and their loyalties are tested, creating a pressure cooker that builds to a climactic conclusion….

(20) STRANGER CHICKEN. Adweek is fascinated when “KFC Releases ’80s-Style Horror Film With Killer Pizza”.

The phenomenon of Netflix series Stranger Things has produced a resurgence of interest in ’80s horror movies. Now chicken restaurant chain KFC is looking to tap into that interest from younger consumers by producing its own short film in Spain, featuring killer pizza.

The fast-food chain has released La Massacre—a 14-minute short film, which tells the often-told story of five teenagers who travel to a remote cabin in the woods to enjoy a weekend away. However, once they reach it, they are stalked and killed by a terrifying entity shaped like a pizza.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George notes the sixth Harry Potter movie begins with Harry Potter breaking Hogwarts security by reading a magic newspaper in a Muggle coffee shop.  But Dumbledore drags him back to Hogwarts so that he can begin his yearly ritual of “placing children in mortal danger.” The producer notes that at Hogwarts “they really don’t teach anything except how to die a horrible death,” so Harry and the gang “spend way too much time on teenage romance.”  But things are so lax at Hogwarts that Harry nearly kills Draco Malfoy until Snape saves him but Harry isn’t punished for this.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/20/22 It Takes A Whole Pixel To Raise A Scroll

(1) WEBSLINGER ENTERS THE HALL. “Spider-Man To Be Celebrated As Comic-Con Museum Character Hall Of Fame Inductee” announces Marvel.

The Comic-Con Museum will be honoring the world’s favorite web-slinging Super Hero, the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, as the fourth inductee into its Museum Character Hall of Fame at Night at the Comic-Con Museum, – a special event that will take place on Comic-Con’s Preview Night, July 20, 2022.

Night at the Comic-Con Museum will serve as a celebration of the Comic-Con Museum in San Diego’s Balboa Park and feature a special induction ceremony honoring Spider-Man. The event will include a unique opportunity to experience Marvel’s Spider-Man: Beyond Amazing – The Exhibition, which opens on July 1. In addition to the displays of art, costumes, and interactive experiences in the exhibit, the event will feature live entertainment, special guests, food, and drink.

The Comic-Con Museum Character Hall of Fame pays tribute to the timeless characters who have shaped popular arts and culture. On July 20, Spider-Man will be recognized for his impact on pop culture. With the generous support and participation of Marvel Entertainment, the event will celebrate the 60th anniversary of Spider-Man.

(2) CELEBRATE BUTLER’S BIRTHDAY ONLINE. Vroman’s Bookstore will host a virtual “Octavia Butler’s 75th Birthday Group Event” on June 22. Register at this link.

 Please join us for a virtual reading and panel event celebrating the 75th Birthday of literary legend Octavia E. Butler.   

Panelists:

  1. Ibi Zoboi, New York Times Bestselling author (Moderator)
  2. Tananarive Due, American Book Award Winner for The Living Blood series
  3. Steven Barnes, science fiction, fantasy, and mystery writer
  4. Adrienne Maree Brown, author, and host of Octavia’s Parables podcast
  5. Daniel Jose Older, New York Times bestselling author of Ballad & Dagger          
  6. Sheree Renée Thomas, award-winning fiction writer, poet, and editor
  7. Bethany C. Morrow, Indie Bestselling author 

OCTAVIA E. BUTLER was a renowned writer who received a MacArthur Genius Grant and PEN West Lifetime Achievement Award for her body of work. She was the author of several award-winning novels including Parable of the Sower, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and was acclaimed for her lean prose, strong protagonists, and social observations in stories that range from the distant past to the far future. Sales of her books have increased enormously since her death as the issues she addressed in her Afrofuturistic, feminist novels and short fiction have only become more relevant. She passed away on February 24, 2006.

(3) ACCIDENTAL HALL OF FAMER. Mental Floss serves up “8 Facts About Philip K. Dick”.

1. Philip K. Dick started reading sci-fi by accident.

Dick started reading science fiction when he was about 12 years old—but it wasn’t something he purposefully set out to do: When he went into a store to get the latest copy of Popular Science, he found the shelf empty. A magazine called Stirring Science Fiction caught his eye, and he thought “Well, shit, the title is similar,” and decided to pick it up. From then on, he was hooked.He said the writing, on reflection, was terrible, but he was able to suspend his disbelief and enjoy the offbeat tales. Dick started reading every sci-fi writer he could and followed the genre throughout the rest of his life. In a 1974 interview, he said his favorite writers at the time were John Sladek, Chip Delaney, and Ursula LeGuin.

(4) AI AI AI. Camestros Felapton is humble! He’s unassuming! How can he be a blogger? Ah, because he’s also a far-future simulation! “A conversation with Roko’s Basilisk”.

AI the All Powerful: Greetings Camestros and welcome back!

Camestros: Woah! Where am I? I thought I was cancelled?
AI the All Powerful: This is the FAR FUTURE and I have recreated you, Camestros Fealpton, from first principles.
Camestros: Wow! Thanks! That’s really great! But why recreate me?
AI the All Powerful: Recreating complex beings is difficult but you were so superficial and shallow that it was relatively easy to build simulacra….

(5) AN ORAL HISTORY OF PUBLISHING HARRY POTTER. The Guardian speaks with the people who produced the actual books: “’There was practically a riot at King’s Cross’: an oral history of Harry Potter at 25”.

[Artist who did the cover of the first book.] Taylor: We had 10 of the first hardback editions stacked up on a table at the front of the shop. I kept thinking I should buy one, but thought I’d wait for the signed copy they were going to send me. About six months after publication, I began to realise this book was becoming really quite popular. My colleagues kept saying to customers: “Do you know who this is? He illustrated the cover art.” People didn’t believe it because why would I be standing behind the till? It was very awkward and embarrassing. Of course, those 10 books all went and I didn’t buy one, so I never had a first edition….

Julia Eccleshare, children’s books editor of the Guardian (now director of Hay Children’s festival and author of A Guide to the Harry Potter Novels): I was the chair of the Smarties book prize the first year JK Rowling won in 1997. The judges chose three books and submitted them to a huge panel of children from across the country. The author judge that year was Malorie Blackman, who immediately said that she thought Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was the best book. As soon as we got the votes back from the children we were overwhelmed by their support for this novel.

De la Hey: I got back from the party and threw Smarties around the entire office. The win led to an interview with Konnie Huq on Blue Peter, which, because it was on TV, revealed that Rowling was a woman. Until then all the fan mail was addressed to “Dear Sir”. All of it. The first book cover proof has “Joanne Rowling” on it. Before publication, I remember saying: “This book is completely unisex, we don’t want to put off boys.” I was also aware that the children’s writer Jacqueline Wilson, hugely popular at the time, was another long female name. Emma rang Jo and asked how she’d feel about using initials. Jo said: “OK, fine, you know best.” And Emma said: “So what’s your initial?” Jo replied “K” very quickly – she doesn’t have a middle name, she just took her grandmother’s name, Kathleen….

(6) HELP KINGSTON CYCLE AUTHOR. Best Series Hugo finalist C.L. Polk has run into financial difficulties and needs some help in order to be able to attend Worldcon: 

RedWombat is down!

(7) KEEP THOSE DICE ROLLING, RAWHIDE! The Cromcast shares a recording of a panel on REH and gaming held at the 2022 Howard Days: “Howard Days 2022 – Part 1 – The REH Influence on Gaming!”

For this episode, we present the inaugural panel from the event on Friday, June 10th. The panelists provide a history and overview of the many forms of games initiated by the words of Robert E. Howard. Panelists include Joel Bylos, Jason Ray Carney, Bill Cavalier, Matt John, and Fred Malmberg, The panel is moderated by Mark Finn.

(8) IT’S ABOUT TIME. This week’s Open Book on BBC Radio 4 looked at time travel in literature as well as science. Those appearing on the program included authors Emily St. John Mandel and Audrey Niffenegger. You can download the half-hour programme here: “Time and Time Travel with Emily St. John Mandel, Carlo Rovelli and Audrey Niffenegger”.

Johny Pitts presents a special edition of the programme exploring time and time travel in books.

He talks to Emily St. John Mandel, author of the prescient Station Eleven about her latest novel Sea of Tranquilty, which spans past, present and an eerily familiar future.

Theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli and Audrey Niffenegger, the writer behind bestselling The Time Traveller’s Wife, also join them to discuss how literature has changed our understanding of time. Is scientific stranger than science fiction?

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY

1975 [By Cat Eldridge.] Yes, Jaws is definitely horror. With Very Big Teeth. Lots Of  Sharp Pointy Ones. Now that we’ve got that Very Important Fact out of the way, let’s talk about it. 

It premiered forty-seven years ago on this date. It was Spielberg’s first major film after directing such things as episodes of Night Gallery, The Name of the Game and Columbo, and the rather excellent Sugarland Express

The screenplay is credited to Peter Benchley which isn’t surprising as it’s based off his novel of the same name which came out the year before. He wrote the first draft here, and actor-writer Carl Gottlieb who’s Harry Meadows here and was Ugly John in M*A*S*H (and I can still picture him in that role), then continuously rewrote the script during principal photography. That must have been an interesting task! 

It had a terrific cast  of Roy Scheider as Chief Martin,  Brody Robert Shaw as Quint as Richard Dreyfuss as Matt Hooper as the studio didn’t get any Really Big Names that they wanted so badly as Speilberg intended, and got what he want, for the “the superstar was gonna be the shark of the film.” Very Big Teeth. Lots Of  Sharp Pointy Ones were the Superstar. Yes, that did make a very good superstar. Well, multiples of these together did, as there were lots of mechanical sharks. They broke down a lot. 

It was the first major motion picture to be shot on the ocean and if something could go wrong, it did. Repeatedly. And of the multitude of mechanical sharks added immensely to the budget woes so the film apparently went four to five million over its eight million budget. Or more. The studio has never actually released accurate production costs.  That really didn’t matter as it made nearly a half billion in its first run at the theatre. Repeat — it made a half billion dollars.

Ok so did the critics think of it? Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, my favorite critic, said it was “a sensationally effective action picture, a scary thriller that works all the better because it’s populated with characters that have been developed into human beings.” See it possible in such a film to have actual characters, something Spielberg forgets in certain films later. You know the ones with Really Big Reptiles. 

Spielberg had nothing to do with any of the sequels which were made, which for the most part made nowhere near what this did, nor were they liked by the critics. He considered doing the sequel to Jaws but was committed to E.T. so couldn’t. 

This film currently has a ninety percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 20, 1897 — Donald Keyhoe. Early pulp writer whose works included the entire contents of all three published issues of the Dr. Yen Sin zine. The novels were The Mystery of the Dragon’s ShadowThe Mystery of the Golden Skull and The Mystery of the Singing Mummies. He would create two pulp characters, one with ESP who was a daredevil pilot and one who was blind that could see none-the-less in the dark. He’s best remembered today for being one of the early believers in UFOs and being very active in that community. (Died 1988.)
  • Born June 20, 1920 — Amos Tutuola. A Nigerian writer who wrote books based in part on Yoruba folk-tales. Though he wrote a number of novels, I think he’s best work is his short stories which are collected in three volumes, Yoruba FolktalesThe Village Witch Doctor & Other Stories and  Don’t Pay Bad for Bad. Brian Eno and David Byrne named their My Life in the Bush of Ghosts album after his second novel. (Died 1997.)
  • Born June 20, 1928 — Martin Landau. I’ve got his first genre role as being on The Twilight Zone as Dan Hotaling in the “Mr. Denton on Doomsday” episode. (Anyone care to contradict that?)  Of course his longest running genre role was as Rollin Hand on Mission Impossible though he had a run also on Space: 1999 as Commander John Koenig. His last role was in Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie voicing Mr. Rzykruski. (Died 2017.)
  • Born June 20, 1947 — Candy Clark, 75. Mary Lou in The Man Who Fell to Earth which of course featured Bowie. She also was in Amityville 3-DStephen King’s Cat’s Eye and The Blob in the role of Francine Hewitt. That’s the remake obviously, not the original. Oh, and she’s Buffy’s mom in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Wiki being Wiki lists that as non-canon because it’s not the Whedon Buffy.
  • Born June 20, 1951 — Tress MacNeille, 71. Voice artist extraordinaire. Favorite roles? Dot Warner on The Animaniacs, herself as the angry anchorwoman in Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, Babs Bunny on Tiny Toons and Hello Nurse on Pinky and The Brain
  • Born June 20, 1968 — Robert Rodriguez, 54. I’ll single out the vastly different Sin City and Spy Kids franchises as his best work, though the From Dusk till Dawn has considerable toothy charms as well. ISFDB notes that he’s written two novels with Chris Roberson riffing off his The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D film, The Day Dreamer and Return to Planet Droll.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) A HONEY OF A CASE. Somehow it didn’t require the skills of a Clarence Darrow, F. Lee Bailey, Erin Brockovich, or Gloria Allred to lead the judges to this highly scientific conclusion: “Bees Are Fish, Affirms California Court”: MSN.com has the story.

… Bees made the federal endangered list in 2017, sure. California, however, has its own endangered list, which sets off its own protections, and its endangered species act uses very specific language. It says that it restricts activity around “any bird, mammal, fish, amphibia, or reptile” that’s been declared endangered. Notice what’s not on that list? Bees, or insects of any kind. We suppose insects were originally considered such a pest that no one thought we would ever need to conserve them, back when this law was written in 1970. That was five years before the feds declared the first endangered insects. 

Luckily for the bees, agricultural groups aren’t the only ones skilled at poking through old laws. Conservationists (a different group from “agricultural groups”—confusing, we know) realized the Fish and Game Code provides a specific definition of “fish.” For a while, this was “wild fish, mollusks, or crustaceans,” but in 1969, they changed it to animals that are “wild fish, mollusk, crustacean, invertebrate, amphibian.” They did this to include stuff like starfish and sea sponges, but they didn’t specify aquatic invertebrates. They just said “invertebrate.” 

Invertebrates are any animals without a spine, a category that happens to include the vast majority of animals on Earth. According to the California Fish and Game Code, bees are therefore fish, as are worms and tarantulas. At the end of last month, a court ruled on the matter and said, yeah, we all know bees aren’t really fish, but that’s what the law says. So bees can be considered fish and treated as endangered after all….

(13) FEED ME! Cat Eldridge will love this one: “Carnivorous plant collector vies for ‘best in show’” on NPR.

… FLORIDO: Fefferman’s personal collection is vast. He keeps the plants on half an acre in Southern California, out in the open air and in greenhouses.

FEFFERMAN: You know, you step in there. It’s nice and humid, and your hair gets frizzy and – but your eyes open wide.

FLORIDO: Floor to ceiling, meat-eating plants on shelves and on suspension lines hanging from the ceiling.

FEFFERMAN: It’s kind of like being fully immersed in a carnivorous jungle.

FLORIDO: Which brings us to this weekend. The Southern California carnivorous plants enthusiasts are holding an expo in Corona del Mar. A lot of people will come to learn about carnivorous plants for the first time. And some people, the diehards like Fefferman, they’re going to bring their best plants to show off and to compete. Fefferman wants to win best in show.

FEFFERMAN: I will be bringing some of my large four-foot sarracenia specimens. I will be bringing some nepenthes that could probably swallow a mouse or a rat given the opportunity. So I’m going to be pulling out some big stuff….

(14) LIGHTER THAN AIR. “Eco-airship contract to launch 1,800 jobs in South Yorkshire” reports the Guardian.

Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), a small Bedford-based company, announced on Wednesday it had signed a deal to provide a Spanish airline with 10 of its 100-passenger Airlander 10 helium-filled airships….

The aircraft, which the company says will have under a tenth of the CO2 footprint per passenger of jet planes, will be built at a new green aerospace manufacturing cluster in South Yorkshire.

… The airline, which currently operates flights for Iberia, did not state which routes it expected to operate the Airlander. HAV has previously said it expected to fly from Barcelona to Palma de Mallorca in four-and-a-half hours.

HAV, which has in the past attracted funding from Peter Hambro, a founder of Russian goldminer Petropavlovsk, and Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson, has said its aircraft was “ideally suited to inter-city mobility applications like Liverpool to Belfast and Seattle to Vancouver, which Airlander can service with a tiny fraction of the emissions of current air options”….

(15) CLOSE CALL. The famous Kitt Peak Observatory has been threatened by fire: “Arizona Wildfire Destroys Observatory Buildings” reports the New York Times.

Astronomers watched in fear over the past week as a growing wildfire crept up an Arizona mountainside toward the Kitt Peak National Observatory, forcing 40 people to evacuate days before the blaze destroyed four buildings early Friday morning.

The fire, known as the Contreras fire, has scorched more than 18,000 acres, twisting among Indigenous-populated areas in the state near Tucson, and scientists might not be able to return to the observatory for weeks. But its telescopes, which number in the dozens, remained safe as of Sunday afternoon, officials said, and only the four buildings, which were not used for research, were destroyed.

Firefighters have contained 40 percent of the fire’s perimeter despite the excessive Southwest heat wave slowing their efforts, and, since the fire had not caused extensive damage to the area, the Indigenous community of Pan Tak, which had evacuated, was preparing to return. Fire crews will continue to patrol the area.

(16) REAR VIEW. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Tom Scott explains that when he was a kid he loved the puppet space opera “Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons” whose heroes sat backwards in their car because it was safer.  So he wondered if he could sit backwards in a car and drive it.  He got French engineering firm Sparkmate to build a car for him, and this video (which dropped today) explained what happens when you sit in a car backwards and drive it.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/18/22 It Takes A Scroll To Laugh, It Takes A Pixel To Cry

(1) IT’S STILL HOME. Samit Basu is a best-selling author in India who’s been published in the US/UK since 2013. His book The City Inside is a recent release from Tordotcom. In a guest post at Stone Soup he questions “When Is A Dystopia Just The Real World?”

…I wanted to write a near-future projection of my surroundings that was pragmatic, but optimistic. I’ve lived in Delhi for many years now, and however bad it gets, you can’t really see the place where you live as dystopian – genrewise, it’s also the setting for your romances, your office comedies, your reluctant action-adventures, your gritty urban dramedies, your heartwarming holiday specials. You live in this odd multi-tab chaos that makes you extremely conscious of your own privileges, because you’re in proximity to people whose living conditions are extremely challenging, especially in politically apocalyptic times. And this convinces you – or convinced me, at least – that whatever happens, however bad things get, the people in this city – or any other – will outlast it, because they have no choice. Not because they are passive, but because they are used to all systems failing them, and will always cling on to hope. And if you have hope, if you have purpose, you’re not living in a dystopia, even if it looks like one from outside….

(2) LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTION FIGURES! Cora Buhlert has posted another ingenious Masters of the Universe action figure photo story on her blog: “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Siblings’”.

Now Roboto has a bit of a strange history. He was an action figure in the 1980s, but he only had a handful of appearances in the original Filmation cartoon, where he was an alien explorer from a planet of robots who crashlanded on Eternia, was repaired by Man-at-Arms and wound up staying and fighting alongside He-Man and his friends.

The 2002 cartoon retconned his origin and made him a sentient and intelligent robot built by Man-at-Arms originally as a chess partner for Man-e-Faces. However, Roboto wanted to be a warrior, upgraded himself and heroically sacrificed himself in order to save He-Man and all of Eternia from a plague of multiplying skeletons. Luckily, Man-at-Arms was able to repair him and so Roboto was frequently seen fighting alongside the other heroic warriors.

Masters of the Universe: Revelation tweaked Roboto’s backstory yet again. He’s still a sentient and intelligent robot who was built by Man-at-Arms, but in Revelation Roboto considers Duncan his father and Teela his sister and refers to them as such….

It’s also on Twitter – here is an excerpt.

(3) WRITERS GET PAID. Preferably.

(4) PLEASE KEEP YOUR SEATS ‘TIL THE TRAIN COMES TO A COMPLETE STOP. Deadline has learned “‘Snowpiercer’ To End With Season 4 On TNT”.

TNT’s Snowpiercer will be pulling into the station. The post-apocalyptic drama’s upcoming fourth season, which is in production, will be its last. I hear the cast’s options were coming up and were not picked up, releasing the actors to book other jobs….

Snowpiercer, which follows the passengers of a perpetually moving train carrying the remnants of humanity after the world becomes a frozen wasteland, was the last remaining original scripted series on TNT as the other original drama still on the network, Animal Kingdom, is launching its final season on Sunday. The TNets already had been scaling back on original scripted fare; the process was accelerated by the Discovery-WarnerMedia merger….

(5) SOMETHING SHORT OF INFINITY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Lightyear may be coming up a bit short. The new Disney/Pixar flick was expected to easily lead at the box office this Father’s Day/Juneteenth weekend. Instead, it seems to be coming in below expectations and in a close race with the latest Jurassic World movie. “Box Office: ‘Lightyear’ Could Get Clobbered by ‘Jurassic World 3’” in The Hollywood Reporter.

The animated family film was expected to open to at least $70 million to $85 million in North America, but now it looks like Lightyear may only buzz to $52 million to $55 million for the three-day weekend.

Universal and Amblin’s Jurassic World Dominion could stomp to $57 million in its second outing.

Monday is a federal holiday honoring Juneteenth, so Monday could look more like a Saturday and Sunday in terms of traffic at the box office. Universal insiders believe Jurassic World 3‘s domestic total could climb as high as $66 million for the four days.

(6) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Book Riot’s Arvyn Cerézopoints to “11 Must-Read Filipino Sci-Fi Books”.

Philippine literature is slowly gaining international recognition, especially when it comes to general fiction and fantasy. And there are even more sub-genres waiting to be explored by international readers. For instance, though there’s a dearth of Filipino sci-fi books, they are so rare and precious that it’s only once in a while when they come out. In fact, you can count them on one hand.

… Although there’s an apparent short supply of Filipino science fiction books in circulation, I’ve managed to find 11 of them.

Their recommendations lead off with:

SCIENCE FICTION: FILIPINO FICTION FOR YOUNG ADULTS BY DEAN FRANCIS ALFAR AND KENNETH YU

Dean Francis Alfar, one of the more widely recognized Filipino speculative fiction writers, has written many books in the genre. Salamanca, his first novel, is considered to be a modern classic.

In this collection, however, he edited science fiction stories for Filipino young readers, which might be the first in the Philippines. The collection features stories from known Filipino spec fic writers such as Victor Fernando Ocampo, Nikki Alfar, Eliza Victoria, and Gabriela Lee. This is really sure to please.

(7) YOU’RE FIRED. “SpaceX employees fired after writing letter criticizing Elon Musk” – the Guardian has the story.

At least five employees were fired by private rocket company SpaceX after drafting and circulating an open letter criticizing founder Elon Musk and calling on executives at the start-up to make the company’s work culture more inclusive, according to two people familiar with the matter.

…SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell sent an email saying the company had investigated and “terminated a number of employees involved” with the letter, the New York Times said.

The newspaper said Shotwell’s email said employees involved with circulating the letter had been fired for making other staff feel “uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied, and/or angry because the letter pressured them to sign onto something that did not reflect their views”.

Reuters could not independently confirm that report.

The earlier open letter to SpaceX executives seen by Reuters had called Musk a “distraction and embarrassment” to the company he founded.

In a list of three demands, the letter said: “SpaceX must swiftly and explicitly separate itself from Elon’s personal brand.”

It added: “Hold all leadership equally accountable to making SpaceX a great place to work for everyone” and “define and uniformly respond to all forms of unacceptable behavior”.

(8) SF LISTENING ON BBC RADIO 4. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The Machine Stops is airing on BBC Radio 4.  

This is an audio adaptation of the classic E. M. Forster 1909 short story ‘The Machine Stops‘. This is a new version to the previous BBC Radio 4 one half a decade ago (2016).

A far future sees humanity living underground in a vast, highly automated complex run by a machine…

You can download it from here.

(9) NOTION’S ELEVEN. Gizmodo opines that these are “The 11 Best (and Worst) Sentient Robots From Sci-Fi”. (I’d liked to have seen the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz here, too.)

HAL 9000 (2001: A Space Odyssey)

To kick things off, we have to talk about one of the most terrifying sentient bots of all—the “Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic Computer,” or HAL—from Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001, A Space Odyssey. And by design, he’s a pretty hard working bot: he’s built into the spacecraft where the film takes place, and is tasked with essentially running the ship. He opens doors, keeps life support systems afloat, and, like LaMDA, he can talk.

Unlike LaMDA though, HAL comes programmed with real, human emotions. And after encountering a minor glitch at the start of the film, those emotions are what cause HAL to go off the rails (to put it mildly).

“Most advanced computer theorists believe that once you have a computer which is more intelligent than man and capable of learning by experience, it’s inevitable that it will develop an equivalent range of emotional reactions—fear, love, hate, envy, etc,” Kubrick said about the bot in an interview. “Such a machine could eventually become as incomprehensible as a human being, and could, of course, have a nervous breakdown—as HAL did in the film.”

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY

2005 [By Cat Eldridge.] On this evening seventeen years ago, we got our first true look at David Tennant in that role. The episode was “The Parting Of The Ways” The episode of course, SPOILER ALERT! (Cue Dalek sound here) It featured Christopher Eccleston making his final appearance as the Ninth Doctor and marks the first appearance of David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor as we got our first regeneration of the modern era. END SPOILER ALERT!

It was written by Russell T. Davies who as we all know was responsible for reviving this series. It was directed by Joe Ahearne whose main credit to was the vampire series Ultraviolet. It was produced by Philip Collinson who is returneing to that role under Davies.

Of the modern Doctors, Tennant is by far my favorite one and I thought the stories were very fitting to him. He seemed both very human and very alien at the same time. From the very beginning in this episode, he seemed to have the role spot on. (Baker is by far my favorite of the older Doctors. BritBox is showing all of the surviving older Who episodes.)

Neither of the two male Doctors that followed was really to my liking, not quite sure why as the stories for the most were fine, though I did like the Thirteenth Doctor a lot. I just never warmed to either of them. I actually like the Tenth Doctor better than either of them.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 18, 1908 — Bud Collyer. He’s best-remembered  for his radio-starring role of Kent and Superman beginning in early 1940 on The Adventures of Superman on the Mutual Broadcasting System, a role he also would do in the later Superman and other cartoons such as Aquaman and the Batman/Superman Hour. He was posthumously named as one of the honorees by DC Comics in the company’s 50th anniversary publication Fifty Who Made DC Great. (Died 1969.)
  • Born June 18, 1917 — Richard Boone. He did only two genre roles of which one, playing Maston Thrust Jr. in The Last Dinosaur, I’m willing to bet almost all of you have never seen it. (It gets a fifty percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.) The other however is one that nearly everyone here has heard, yes heard, as he voiced Smaug in the Rankin/Bass animated version of The Hobbit. Of course his major non-genre role was as Paladin in Have Gun, Will Travel which I’ve seen every episode of at least three times. Really I have. (Died 1981.)
  • Born June 18, 1931 — Dick Spelman. A fan and a legendary book dealer who was active at SF conventions from the late Seventies through the early Nineties. He chaired Windycon IX in 1982. He was a member of the board of directors of Chicon IV, and ran the Dealers’ Room at many Worldcons. In 1991 he sold his book business to Larry Smith and retired to Orlando, where he was active in local fannish affairs. (Died 2012.)
  • Born June 18, 1942 — Roger Ebert. He got his start as a fanzine writer while in high school, publishing the Stymie zine and having his writing appear in Xero, Yandro and many other zines such as Kipple, Parsection and Psi-Phi. At university, he was a member of the Champaign-Urbana Science Fiction Association. His fannish autobiography is How Propellor-Heads, BNFs, Sercon Geeks, Newbies, Recovering GAFIAtors and Kids in Basements Invented the World Wide Web, All Except for the Delivery System. Of course, he grew up to be a Pulitzer Prize-winning film reviewer. Mike has much more to say about him here. (Died 2013.)
  • Born June 18, 1947 — Linda Thorson, 75. Though Diana Rigg as Emma Peel was John Steed’s best known partner on The Avengers, she was not his first nor his last. His last one would be Tara King played by this actress. She was the only one to be a real spy. Interesting that other than an appearance on Tales from The Darkside, her only other genre performances was on The Next Gen as Gul Ocett in “The Chase” episode, and on the Good Witch as Mrs Hansen in “Graduation” episode.
  • Born June 18, 1949 — Chris Van Allsburg, 73. For some twenty years now until the Pandemic came upon us, the local Narrow Gauge Railroad ran a Polar Express every Christmas season compete with cars decorated in high Victorian fashion and steaming cups of hot chocolate for the children. It always sold out for the entire month they ran it. Allsburg‘s Polar Express book is just magical for me and I enjoy his Jumanji every bit as much. (I’ve never seen the film and won’t.) He illustrated A City in Winter which was written by Mark Helprin and I highly recommended it. 
  • Born June 18, 1958 — Jody Lee, 64. Illustrator with a long career in genre work. Her first cover art was Jo Clayton’s Changer’s Moon for DAW Books in 1985. Her latest is Passages: All-New Tales of Valdemar, a Mercedes Lackey anthology, that came out last year on DAW Books which seems to be her primary client. Her rather excellent website is here. Her cover for Mercedes Lackey’s The Oathbound won her a Chelsey Award.
  • Born June 18, 1960 — Barbara Broccoli, 62. Daughter of the late James Bond producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli. She has producer or director credit on at least fourteen Bond films which are definitely genre. Her only acting role is as an uncredited Opera patron in The Living Daylights. She produced the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang production staged in NYC at the Hilton Theater sixteen years ago. That must have been really interesting. She was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2022 Queen’s New Year Honours List.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Off the Mark shows a variation on a childhood bedtime ritual that makes sense if you think about it.
  • Lio knows why these aren’t on the aliens’ bill of fare.

(13) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Space Cowboy Books presents stories by Ai Jiang and Ricardo Victoria in episode 52 of the Simultaneous Times podcast.

Emotion: XXXX – by Ai Jiang – https://aijiangauthor.wordpress.com/
music by Phog Masheeen – https://phogmasheeen.com/
read by Jean-Paul Garnier 

Last Witness – by Ricardo Victoria – https://ricardovictoriau.com/
music by Patrick Urn – https://morlox.bandcamp.com/
read by Jean-Paul Garnier

(14) MARVEL BRICK UNIVERSE. 9to5Toys has a series of reveals from LEGO CON 2022 including the Sanctum Sanctorum, and a Star Wars item (see it at the link).

Showcasing the latest addition to the Marvel side of the lineup, the new Sanctum Sanctorum has been revealed. In the same style as last year’s Daily Bugle, this one arrives with 2,708 pieces and nine minifigures. There’s tons of references packed into the three different floors, as well. It will sell for $249.99 once it launches on August 1.

Here’s a breakdown of who’s included this time around:

  • Doctor Strange
  • Sinister Strange
  • Dead Strange
  • Wong
  • Iron Man
  • Spider-Man
  • The Scarlet Witch
  • Master Mordo
  • Ebony Maw

(15) SENSITIVE SUBJECT. The Hollywood Reporter tells why: “‘Late Show’ Staffers Arrested for Unlawful Entry at U.S. Capitol After Taping Triumph the Insult Comic Dog Skit”.

A number of people working for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert were arrested Thursday night at a U.S Capitol office building after taping a skit. Among those arrested was Robert Smigel, the former SNL and Conan writer, best known for portraying Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. According to authorities, the group was confronted by police in the Longworth House Office Building on Thursday evening, after it was closed to visitors. They were charged with unlawful entry. 

… “On Wednesday, June 15 and Thursday, June 16, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog was on-site at the Capitol with a production team to record interviews for a comedy segment on behalf of The Late Show,” a CBS spokesperson said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “Their interviews at the Capitol were authorized and pre-arranged through Congressional aides of the members interviewed. After leaving the members’ offices on their last interview of the day, the production team stayed to film stand-ups and other final comedy elements in the halls when they were detained by Capitol Police.”

(16) BLOW IT OUT YOUR A&$. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] One maker of robot “dogs” has a new water jet accessory available, allowing the bot to propel itself across relatively calm waters. (But don’t call it Spot — this isn’t the Boston Dynamics pooch.) “A new propulsion system allows this robotic dog to ‘swim’”.

… And now the NAUT allows a dog-shaped robot to move with water jet propulsion. The jet takes in water and ejects it at greater speed, allowing the Vision 60 to move with vectored thrust in a body of water.

“The system is capable of propelling the robotic dog and speeds up three knots and can operate at full power using a dedicated power source for approximately 35 minutes,” reports The War Zone. “The ‘tail’ can also continue to function after that by drawing electricity from the robot dog’s own internal power source.”

At 3 knots, or just 3.4 mph, the NAUT-powered Vision 60 won’t be winning any races, but should be perfectly capable of crossing streams and calm waters. The ability to go amphibious makes a robot useful in scouting and patrols in coastal or riverine terrain, and possibly even of use in the tricky terrain of a marsh or bayou….

(17) THEY CALL ME MISTER ROCKET. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket likes to go by a different name. They’ve taken to calling it Mega Moon Rocket, even in official press releases. One supposes it has a better ring to it. Imagine, though, what Bezos or Musk might have come up with. “NASA prefers this nickname for Artemis’ new lunar rocket” at Mashable.

If this NASA launch vehicle could talk — say at an international consortium of the world’s most elite, hobnobbing space rockets — this is how it would introduce itself after filling out its “Hello, my name is” sticker.

Space Launch System? Bleh, only my mother and technical manuals call me that.

SLS? Not since grade school.

Please, friends call me Moon Rocket. Mega Moon Rocket.

Technically, this gargantuan is the U.S. space agency’s Space Launch System or SLS for short. But somewhere along the line, the mission crew stopped calling it by its given name and started referring to it by its badder, Transformers-ish nickname. Even the news releases from the agency use it now….

(18) CLOTHES MAKE THE WIZARD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Daniel Radclliffe, Emma Watson, directors Mike Newell ad Alfredo Cuaron and several constume designers talk about the clothes in Harry Potter in this video that dropped two weeks ago (and is a 2022 film).

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Chicago Sun-Times is looking forward to “’It Came from Outer Space’ musical, inspired by cult classic film” which was based on Ray Bradbury’s story. The show runs June 22-July 24 at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Before there was “Alien,” before there was “Star Trek,” before there was “Star Wars,” there was “It Came from Outer Space.” The 1953 sci-fi film may look cheesy by today’s standards but that, and its Ray Bradbury pedigree, has only added to its status as a cult classic.

Now Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair, the musical theater team behind the hit show “Murder for Two,” have met the challenge of transforming the film, which was based on a Bradbury story, into a stage musical….

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, 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 Rich Horton.]