Pixel Scroll 2/21/24 Born Of Scroll And Pixel?

(1) NOT A NEW PHENOMENON. [Item by Anne Marble.] If the article quoted in Seanan McGuire’s thread is any indication, the people marketing “romantasy” seem to think they’re the first to publish fantasy novels for women. Or maybe they know better — but they don’t care because they’re trying to market romantasy/romantic fantasy.  Bluesky thread starts here.

(2) WELCOME TO DYSTOPIA. Like Abigail Nussbaum says in her headline: “The 2023 Hugo Awards: Somehow, It Got Worse” at Asking the Wrong Questions.

… I’m going to say this again, because it is so shocking that it seems to have taken a lot of people some time to grasp the enormity of it: hundreds, perhaps even thousands of valid, legal nominating ballots were dropped from the final nominating stats, apparently under the pretext of having represented a slate, even though slates are perfectly legal under the Hugo rules. This was done on the orders of the Hugo administrator, with apparently no outside input or discussion, and appears to have elicited so little response from the Hugo team that they are casually mentioning it as if it’s nothing. If these numbers are correct, it’s entirely possible that the whole Hugo ballot should have looked completely different, and that none of the eventual winners in the fiction categories should have even been nominated.

What this means is that the entire 2023 Hugo scandal is something completely different from what we’ve understood it as during the last month. Appalling as it is, the choice to screen English-language nominees for ideological compatibility may, in fact, be a sideshow to the real scandal, which is that hundreds of Chinese voters have been disenfranchised. And—barring even more revelations—this disenfranchisement cannot be blamed on PRC sensibilities and censorship. I truly doubt that it was in the interest of China, or the Chinese business interests who took over Worldcon, to remove Chinese-language nominees from last year’s Hugo ballot. This decision came from the American and Canadian staffers who made up the English-language Hugo team, many of them Worldcon volunteers of long standing.

In this context, it is infuriating to recall just how quickly the response to our original sense of what this scandal was turned to anti-democratic measures and calls to limit the power of rank-and-file Worldcon members. “Elections have consequences!” crowed the people who are still pissed they weren’t allowed to steal the site selection vote in 2021, while others called to limit site selection to those with “skin in the game”—read, those with the wherewithal to travel to US-based conventions. But as it turns out, the call was coming from inside the house. This was never a China problem. It’s an us problem. If the allegations that are now emerging claiming that McCarty has behaved this way in the past, and also harassed other Worldcon staffers, are to be believed (and there is certainly more than enough reason to believe them at this point), it’s a profound failure on the part of Worldcon and its membership to police toxic members, which has now blown up in all our faces….

(3) TCHAIKOVSKY’S STATEMENT ABOUT 2023 HUGO. His Children of Time was announced as winner of the 2023 Best Series Hugo, however, after all the revelations “Adrian Tchaikovsky Will No Longer Cite His 2023 Hugo”.

There are many reasonable points of view about how to deal with the awards. File 770’s goal is to support and respect the recipients’ decisions.

Another author, Samantha Mills, recently made a decision comparable to Tchaikovsky’s, in a blog post titled “’Rabbit Test’ unwins the Hugo”

(4) THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING. The Hugo Awards scandal has even made it into Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter – “Litteraturpris valde bort kinesiska författare”. The article is behind a paywall, though that’s honestly only a problem if you read Swedish.

(5) RAH VS. PKD. Giant Freakin Robot, in “The Sci-Fi Master Whose Work Has Been Ignored By Hollywood, And That Needs To Change”, feels Robert A. Heinlein deserves the kind of cinematic attention given to Philip K. Dick. (Survey says – *bzzzt*! “Wrong!”)

…Hollywood has had an ongoing love affair with the works of Phillip K. Dick for decades now. Sometimes it’s a healthy relationship, giving us masterworks such as Blade Runner. Sometimes it’s downright abusive when it produces flicks like Screamers or Paycheck. And sometimes it splits the difference and serves up enjoyable silliness such as Total Recall.

Still, as many times as the movies have returned to Dick’s catalog, you’d think he was the only SF writer out there. We all know better, of course, and pretty much any SF fan has their dream list of books they’d love to see brought to the silver screen.

If Hollywood really wants to freshen things up, they should take a closer look at the work of Robert A. Heinlein….

(6) BANNED FROM THE HIGHWAY. [Item by Dann.] Remember when non-genre magazines used to publish SFF stories?

Every automobile begins as the sparkle in someone’s eye. In 1981, Neil Peart and his Rush bandmates introduced the world to a Red Barchetta. Saved in an old white-haired uncle’s barn. A relic from before the Motor Law being chased down by gleaming alloy air cars before being saved by a one-lane bridge

But before that, it was an old MGB roadster. Rendered obsolete by wave after wave of modern automobile safety standards had made surviving car crashes not only likely but predictable. The drivers of the newly designed cars expected to walk away from accidents unscathed. As a result, drivers of these Modern Safety Vehicles began targeting older vehicles leaving them in mangled heaps. Those driving older cars were likely to be left in a similarly mangled condition. The price for driving a classic. And so the driver of the old MGB engages in a race for his life pursued by a pair of MSVs.

The story was “A Nice Morning Drive“. It was written by Richard S. Foster and first published in the November 1973 issue of Road & Track magazine. Neil Peart had encountered the story and was inspired to re-tell it in a more distant future where automobiles were banned. It appeared in 1981 on the quintessential RUSH album, Moving Pictures as the second track, “Red Barchetta“.

The band had tried to contact Richard, but R&T no longer had his current address. They did add a credit note referencing the original story in the liner notes.

It was many years later before a friend pointed out that Neil had been inspired by Richard’s story. And it was a few years after that when Richard began corresponding with Neil. The two eventually planned a motorcycle ride along the East Coast. It turns out that they both owned the same model motorcycle, the BMW R1200GS.

As a footnote, Moving Pictures came out in my junior year of high school when I took an advanced composition class. At some point, a red car entered into the zeitgeist of my classmates. The model would shift to suit the moods and tastes of various authors. Sometimes it was only glimpsed under a protective tarp. Other times it would it would fly along country roads kicking up a stream of fall leaves. Our automobile appreciations lasted about a month before our teacher put a firm but kindly end to our vehicular ruminations.

(7) BACK IN ACTION. Nancy Collins’ February 19 update to her GoFundMe backers is good news indeed: “Fundraiser by Nancy Collins : What Doesn’t Kill Me Leaves Me With Medical Bills”.

I want to take a moment to thank all of you once again for the great kindness and generosity you have shown me in the recent weeks and also update you on my current status and plans.

This coming weekend (February 23rd-25th) I will be a guest at Pensacon 2024 in Pensacola, FL. My doctor says I’m in good enough health to travel as long as I continue to pace myself and take my meds and supplements. And, to be blunt, I can’t afford to pass up what is likely my only comic con appearance for the foreseeable future. So if any of you who have donated are at the convention this coming weekend, please stop by so I can thank you in person. My good friend, Adam–who is the one who talked me into going to the ER instead of gutting it out another 24 hours–will be driving me there and back, as well as helping set-up and run my merchandise table for the weekend, so I have reliable support with me.

I have 3 more weeks, more or less, of blood thinners twice a day ahead of me before I get an idea of whether or not the blood clots were a one-off event or a symptom of something more serious. Until I know one way or another, I will be staying close to home. However, I still plan to be at the Outer Dark Writer’s Symposium in Atlanta next month, health permitting.

(8) LEE AND MILLER PHOTO. Following yesterday’s announcement of Steve Miller’s death, Andrew Porter sent File 770 his photo of the Steve and Sharon at Book Expo.

(9) MARK MERLINO DIES. Mark Merlino, one of the early founders of organized Anime and Furry fandoms in North America, died February 20 at age 71. He suffered a stroke in December, then was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer about two weeks ago. 

Merlino was known for organizing ConFurence, the very first furry convention, which laid the groundwork for the community’s expansion and visibility. His influential role was also recognized in the documentary feature The Fandom, showcasing his significant contributions.

Mark Merlino in 2006.

(10) RICHARD MATHEWS (1944-2024). Scholar Douglas Anderson pays tribute to a colleague in “R.I.P. Richard Mathews (1944-2024)” at Tolkien and Fantasy.

I just googled to see if my old friend Richard Mathews was still the Director of the University of Tampa Press, only to find out that he died last month.

I met him at the 1987 Mythcon in Milwaukee, where we both appeared on a panel on David Lindsay. We found we had many common interests. Richard had published, with Borgo Press, a short book on Tolkien, Lightning from a Clear Sky (1978), and other short books on William Morris and Brian Aldiss. His most notable work was the Twayne volume Fantasy: The Liberation of Imagination (1997; reissued in 2012), which was filled with insights despite the somewhat odd structure of the book (presumably imposed upon him as part of the series it was in). Richard also contributed introductions to some of the William Morris reprints for the Newcastle fantasy series in the 1970s…. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 21, 1946 Alan Rickman. (Died 2016.) The first time I saw Alan Rickman was in the decidedly not-genre role of German terrorist leader Hans Gruber in Die Hard, a film that’s still high on my list of great thriller films. Great role for him, too. It was amazingly his first film role.

He would won a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for playing the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. I actually did see that film. No, I’ll never watch again. Simon R. Green’s publicist tells me he made a lot of money for writing the novelization. 

Rickman went on to play the wizard Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series. I can’t say I cared for the character but I don’t think we were supposed to. I never got beyond a hundred pages in the first novel before I gave up reading it, but loved the films. 

While in the film The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the GalaxyWarwick Davis played Marvin, the android who was clinically depressed and in the novels I thought a royal pain in the ass, it was Alan Rickman who actually voiced the character.

He also voiced Absolem, the Caterpillar in an odd version of Alice in Wonderland. Look it up. Trust me, it’s weird.

And yes, I saved the best first last for last which as you already know is his role in the Hugo Award winning Galaxy Quest which is by far his best genre role. Alexander Dane is a Shakesperean actor who resents his character  Dr. Lazarus, the ship’s science officer. His catch phrase? Oh, you know that by heart.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Macanudo shows who really was entitled to say, “How wude!!”

(13) ALL IN THE FOUND FAMILY. [Item by Steven French.] How the story of the ‘Hopkinsville goblins’ led to ET, Gremlins and a bunch of other movies! “The Long, Surprising Legacy of the Hopkinsville Goblins” at Atlas Obscura.

…THE STORY COMES TO US from the local newspaper Kentucky New Era, which, on August 22, 1955, reported strange goings-on the previous night, eight miles north of Hopkinsville, Kentucky. At about 11:00 pm, two cars arrived at the local police station, blasting out of the night filled with at least five adults and several children, all of whom were highly agitated. “We need help,” they told the police. “We’ve been fighting them for nearly four hours.”

Once they’d calmed down enough to talk, they unfurled a strange story. One of the men, Billy Ray Taylor, had been visiting from Pennsylvania. At one point, he went outside to fetch water from the farm’s well. As he walked through the failing light, he saw a circular-shaped object hover through the air before coming to rest in a nearby gully…

… Concerned, Taylor retreated inside and returned with a shotgun to investigate. As he walked into the gloom, a strange, goblin-like thing with glowing eyes appeared and moved toward him. It had “huge eyes,” and hands out of proportion with its body, and looked to be wearing some kind of “metal plate.” Taylor retreated to the house yet again and grabbed a .22 caliber pistol, while Lucky Sutton grabbed a shotgun and joined him.

A creature—whether it was the same one, they didn’t know—appeared in the window, and Sutton unloaded his shotgun at it, blowing out the window screen. When they went outside to see if they’d hit anything, Taylor felt a “huge hand” reach down from the low roof above and grab his hair….

(14) CARVING OUT A PLACE IN SPACE. “Japan to launch world’s first wooden satellite to combat space pollution” – the Guardian has the story.

The LignoSat probe has been built of magnolia wood, which, in experiments carried out on the International Space Station (ISS), was found to be particularly stable and resistant to cracking. Now plans are being finalised for it to be launched on a US rocket this summer.

The timber satellite has been built by researchers at Kyoto University and the logging company Sumitomo Forestry in order to test the idea of using biodegradable materials such as wood to see if they can act as environmentally friendly alternatives to the metals from which all satellites are currently constructed.

“All the satellites which re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere burn and create tiny alumina particles, which will float in the upper atmosphere for many years,” Takao Doi, a Japanese astronaut and aerospace engineer with Kyoto University, warned recently. “Eventually, it will affect the environment of the Earth.”…

(15) IT’S SUN-GRY. The Guardian reports — “Astronomers discover universe’s brightest object – a quasar powered by a black hole that eats a sun a day”. (“Feed me!”)

The brightest known object in the universe, a quasar 500tn times brighter than our sun, was “hiding in plain sight”, researchers say.

Australian scientists spotted a quasar powered by the fastest growing black hole ever discovered. Its mass is about 17bn times that of our solar system’s sun, and it devours the equivalent of a sun a day.

The light from the celestial object travelled for more than 12bn years to reach Earth….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Animation Magazine encourages readers: “Watch: Prime Video Sneak Peeks ‘The Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy’ in New Clip”. The series debuts February 23.

…In a new exclusive clip shared with Animation Magazine, we get an advance look at the premiere episode. The excerpt features Dr. Klak (Keke Palmer), Dr. Sleech (Stephanie Hsu), Dr. Vlam (Maya Rudolph) and Dr. Plowp (Kieran Culkin). In Season 1, doctors Sleech and Klak take on a highly dangerous and potentially groundbreaking case and, in doing so, put existence itself in jeopardy. (Although considering their dismal personal lives, oblivion might be an improvement.)…

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Taral Wayne, Rich Lynch, Anne Marble, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jeff Jones.]

Pixel Scroll 12/27/23 So Have You Looked Up And Seen How Pixels Twinkle Against The Midnight Sky? 

(1) UNFORSEEN INTERSECTION. Maya St. Clair draws a fascinating comparison between a current bestseller and Heinlein’s controversial classic in “Fourth Wing Review: Starship Troopers (for Girls!)”

…Criticisms of Starship Troopers’ themes, while hyperbolic, were not entirely off-base. In Heinlein’s world, the ideal military life is violent, abusive, and deindividualizing; death is and should be omnipresent at every stage of training. For example, there’s the basic training exercise in which

“… they dumped me down raw naked in a primitive area of the Canadian Rockies and I had to make my way forty miles through mountains. I made it [by killing rabbits and smearing fat and dirt on his body] … The others made it, too… all except two boys who died trying. Then we all went back into the mountains and spent thirteen days finding them…. We buried them with full honors to the strains of ‘This Land Is Ours’… They weren’t the first to die in training; they weren’t the last.”

Through the eyes of Johnnie, we experience an intensity of life that makes civilian existence seem anemic, even pathetic….

…With all that being said, it feels wrong to mention Fourth Wing in the same breath as Starship Troopers. Putting aside the fact that Fourth Wing is a poorly-written work whose prose has been critiqued to death by many people before me, the two books seem to represent opposing moments in publishing history. Heinlein, for all his faults, was writing “up” for an audience of teens, treating them as adults and including them in the sphere of “adult” science fiction, with complex worldbuilding and (relatively) sophisticated themes. Sixty years later, Fourth Wing and its team (author Rebecca Yarros and Entangled Publishing) represent a publishing world moving in the opposite direction: creating books for adults in an actively juvenile style, and cultivating an audience of adult readers who no longer demand that published books have good writing at all so long as they check necessary boxes of sensation and eroticism.

But thematically and content-wise, the two books are as close as one could possibly get. Fourth Wing, like Starship Troopers, sells a military coming-of-age story in which mass death is a part of the allure (“brutally addictive,” says the cover blurb). Someone on Reddit puts the death count of Fourth Wing at 222 cadets, plus an untold number of civilians — though it’s widely considered a “fluff” read. Its primary audience (and the primary audience of most mainstream fantasy now) is female, young, progressive, and would probably be aghast at being compared to grimdark bros, Heinlein apologists, or men in general. And yet here we all are, hooked on the same stuff….

(2) ICONIC LE GUIN COVER ART OFFERED. The estates of Carol Carr and her husband Robert Lichtman are in the news: “Original cover art for Le Guin sci-fi novel goes on sale” at Bay Area Reporter.

…First published in paperback by Ace Books, the novel sported cover art by award-winning artists and biracial couple Leo and Diane Dillon. Their painting featured profiles of the book’s protagonists in the left bottom corner looking off into the distance. Surrounding the pair is a blue and white celestial-like scene with what appears to be a brown planet and a spaceship hovering above.

(Leo Dillon, of Trinidadian descent, died in 2012. He was the first African American to win the prestigious Randolph Caldecott Medal for illustrators of children’s books, while the Dillons were the only consecutive winners of the award, having received the honor in 1976 and 1977.)

The Dillons’ original 17 and 1/4 by 13 inches acrylic painting is now being offered for sale for the first time at the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America global book fair taking place in San Francisco in early February. The asking price is $20,000.

“It is literally unique. This is it, the original and not a print,” said Mark Funke, a rare bookseller who lives in Mill Valley where his business is also located.

Scouting out shops in the East Bay several years ago looking for new material to sell, Funke had received a tip about the sale of various items from a home in the Oakland hills. It led him to receive an invite from the executor of the estate to come to the house.

To his amazement, Funke had stumbled onto the archives of three individuals involved in the world of science fiction writing. One was the late Terry Carr, an editor at Ace Books who published the works of Le Guin and other sci-fi authors and died in 1987. While most of Carr’s personal papers had gone to UC Riverside, Funke found several boxes still in the house and acquired them….

… Funke is now handling its sale on behalf of the Carr and Lichtman Estate. He will have it available on a first-come, first-served basis at his booth at the book fair.

“I am pricing it high for the artists but, I think, reasonable for it being Le Guin’s most famous novel. She won awards for it, and it ratcheted her up to the greats of science fiction,” said Funke. “It’s got very topical content; this idea of the planet Gethen and ambisexual individuals. I just think it is fascinating and a very active topic in today’s discussion.”

In a statement to the B.A.R. about the sale, the executor for the family estate said, “The Carr-Lichtman family has treasured this artwork for over 50 years and now it is time to find a new owner who will cherish this remarkable work of science fiction publishing history for the next 50 years.”…

(3) KORSHAK COLLECTION NEWS. The Korshak Collection announced on Facebook

We have partnered with the University of Delaware for an academic illustrated catalog of the Korshak Collection. We don’t want to give away all of our surprises, but the catalog will include a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman and entry by Pulitzer prize winner author Michael Dirda, as well as an interview with the Hugo Award winning artist Michael Whelan. We are so grateful for this partnership and all of the outstanding contributions that have made this project possible.

(4) MCU UK. James Bacon recommends David Thorpe’s account of his time as a creator for Marvel UK: “In Review: The Secret Origin of Earth 616 By David Thorpe” at Downthetubes.net.

… This is a fascinating book, and, for Captain Britain fans, a definite buy. For comic fans interested in Marvel UK, of great interest. Yet it is also an excellent autobiography, a very readable and personal exploration of a comic fans desires, aspirations and progression to be a writer and an insight into how Marvel UK was, and offers real honesty when it comes to a comics career that took an interesting turn that saw David Thorpe’s work in the industry elsewhere. The story is brimful, and includes how another comic related moment saw him turn to a very successful career beyond comics, one that arguably has made a real difference to the world….

… David Thorpe came up with the concept of Earth 616, and he describes it as a Stan Lee styled “Hoo Boy” moment when he heard Mysterio say “This is Earth dimension 616. I’m from Earth 833.” to Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Far From Home and that is something that any comic reader can appreciate, many of whom have imagined themselves as writers….

(5) IN FELLOWSHIP THERE IS STRENGTH. “Board Game Cafe Workers Went on a Quest for a Union and Won” reports the New York Times.

A golden glow illuminated the employees huddled inside a Hex & Co. cafe on the Upper East Side, a haven created for board game enthusiasts to gather for fantastical quests.

Meticulous campaigns were second nature to these workers — how many times had they infiltrated an obsidian castle or vanquished a warlock? They had been immersed in this particular adventure for months, navigating a labyrinth governed by strict rules and made harrowing by unfamiliar tasks and tests. Now they gathered to plot their final triumph: unionization.

On that Tuesday in September, Hex & Co. workers confronted their bosses with a demand for recognition. Less than two months later, they voted to join Workers United, the same group that has been organizing workers at Starbucks stores across the United States. The workers at the three Hex & Co. locations across New York City were just the first employees of a board game cafe in the city to unionize. Workers at the Uncommons and the Brooklyn Strategist followed this month.

All the stores fall under the ownership of either Jon Freeman, Greg May or both, and they pleaded with their employees not to unionize, saying that a union would wipe out the “flexible and open-door atmosphere we have tried to foster.”

Teaching board games is a far cry from swinging a miner’s pick or working numbing hours on an assembly line. In fact, many of the cafe workers said they hung out at their workplaces in their off hours. But in the end, complaints over dollar-an-hour raises and bands of unruly children reigned: Among the 94 employees who voted, only 17 dissented….

…Only 10 percent of American wage and salary workers were union members in 2022, a historical low, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The food-service sector’s membership rate was less than 4 percent. But this fiscal year saw the most representation filings since 2015, according to the National Labor Relations Board.

Young workers “are willing to take risks, because they feel like their future is at stake,” said Kate Bronfenbrenner, the director of labor education research at Cornell University.

After slogging through a recession and a pandemic, many found themselves earning minimum wage while corporate profits soared, she said….

(6) AI AS SEEN BY THREE SFF AUTHORS. The River Cities’ Reader tells fans how to access the “Virtual Event: ‘Speculating Our AI Future,’” with Cory Doctorow, Ken Liu, and Martha Wells on January 11.

Designed for those fascinated by, or terrified about, the rise of artificial intelligence is invited to a January 11 virtual event hosted by the Rock Island and Silvis Public Libraries, when Illinois Libraries Present’s Speculating Our AI Future finds bestselling science-fiction writers Cory Doctorow, Ken Liu, and Martha Wells in discussion on the promise, perils, and possible impacts that AI will have on our future, as well as AI as portrayed in contemporary and future science-fiction writing.

The Speculating Our AI Future panel discussion with Corry Doctorow, Ken Liu, and Martha Wells will begin on January 11 at 7 p.m., participation in the virtual event is free, and more information is available by calling (309)732-7323 and visiting RockIslandLibrary.org, and calling (309)755-3393 and visiting SilvisLibrary.org.

Cory Doctorow, Ken Liu, Martha Wells.

(7) GRAPHIC EXAMPLES. Sam Thielman hits the high notes in a review of “The Year in Graphic Novels” for the New York Times.

Good graphic novels tend to appear in bookstores seemingly out of nowhere after years of rumors, scattershot serialization, “process” zines and snippets posted to social media. As literature, long-form comics are uniquely resistant to editing. As visual art, the cartoonist is in the weird position of having no access to the final product until it’s presented to the public. So it’s frankly miraculous when we get as many good comics as we do. This year there were remarkable new books from established masters and freshman graphic novels from brilliant young artists. Better still, a gratifyingly thick stratum of our 2023 stack was devoted to making us laugh. It’s a rich conversation, and one that promises to continue into next year and long beyond.

From the moment you open it, Daniel Clowes’s MONICA (Fantagraphics, 108 pp., $30) announces its ambition. Against the weird hellscape of its front endpapers, the title spread depicts the world at its lifeless, churning, brightly colored beginning. Then all of time (so far) goes by in a whoosh on the next two pages — the dinosaurs, Jesus, Hitler, Little Richard, Sputnik — alongside the copyright boilerplate and the names of the editors and publicist. In Clowes’s smooth lines and precise hues, the rest of the book borrows styles from war, horror and romance comics to tell the story of an ordinary woman trying to give her life some meaning. Is such a thing even possible? Could the attempt destroy everything?…

(8) EVA HAUSER (1954-2023). Past fan fund winner (GUFF) Eva Hauser died December 23 at the age of 69. Here is an excerpt from Jan Vaněk Jr.’s tribute on Facebook:

I am sad to announce that the 1992 GUFF delegate died on Friday 22nd. Eva Hauser[ová] travelled from Prague, still-Czechoslovakia to Syncon ’92 in Sydney, and then to Melbourne and back.

If you were there (despite the small attendance, the trip report reads like the Who Is Who of a golden age of the Australian fandom, and a testimony to their hospitality. Even though so much, and many, have already been lost in time, like tears in rain…), you may remember; and then you will understand why Eva is so much-lamented and widely eulogised from many different communities she was a part of….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 27, 1951 Charles Band, 72. We have come tonight to honor a true film genius in Charles Band. He entered film production in the Seventies with Charles Band Productions. Dissatisfied with distributors’ handling of his movies, he formed his own company in the early Eighties. At its height, he would release an average of two films a month, one theatrically and one on home video. 

So what are you going to recognize out of his hundreds of films? 

Most of his films paid the cast next to nothing, were notoriously lax on safety measures according to State officials who fined him considerable amounts over the years and he paid screenwriters, well, guess. 

Trancers, also released as Future Cop, the first of a series, which I’ve seen and liked, had Tim Thomerson and Helen Hunt in the lead cast. Supposedly the detective here is homage to Bogart’s various detective roles.

As producer, he did Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn.  Richard Moll who is in the cast and he shaved his head for his role here. The Night Court producers liked the look for Moll, so he continued shaving his head for the show.

Now he also produced a lot of more frankly sleazy SF such as Slave Girls from Beyond InfinityGalactic Gigolo, and Space Sluts in the Slammer, and the post-apocalypse zombie films, Barbie & Kendra Save the Tiger King and Barbie & Kendra Storm Area 51

His autobiography has a title that’s every bit has as over the top as most of some of film titles are, Confessions of a Puppetmaster: A Hollywood Memoir of Ghouls, Guts, and Gonzo Filmmaking

One final note. His entire financial house of cards collapsed in the late Eighties and was seized by various banks who in turned sold the assets off to MGM, so you’re likely to see one of his films streaming just about anywhere these days. 

(10) STORIES YES AND NO. Rich Horton reaches back to 1970 to tell Black Gate readers about “No More Stories — The Capstone to Joanna Russ’s Alyx Sequence: ‘The Second Inquisition’”.

“No more stories.” So ends Joanna Russ’s great novelette “The Second Inquisition.” But in many ways the story is about stories — about how we use them to define ourselves, protect ourselves, understand ourselves. It’s also, in a curious way, about Joanna Russ’s stories, particularly those about Alyx, a woman rescued from drowning in classical times by the future Trans-Temporal Authority….

(11) CORE TELEVISION. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Now, I don’t agree with everything in this article (for one thing, Foundation is execrable.) But it is an interesting look at what Apple+ is doing in SFF and why so much of it works. “The Best Sci-Fi Shows of 2023 All of Have One Shocking Thing in Common” at Inverse.

For All Mankind isn’t the only sci-fi show pushing the limits of the genre on Tim Cook’s dime. The Apple CEO has been quietly funding some of the best science fiction TV in recent memory, ranging from the centuries-spanning Isaac Asimov adaptation Foundation to the mind-bending near-future of Severance to the globe-trotting Godzilla spinoff series Monarch: Legacy of Monsters — to name just a few.

And while it’s hard to say what exactly defines an Apple sci-fi show, Inverse spoke to several showrunners and producers who all agree the tech giant brings a unique, futurist perspective to the genre that — when combined with endless cash — helps explain why, all of a sudden, it seems like the best science fiction television is all coming from the same company that sold you your iPhone….

… One thing you can say about pretty much any show or movie on Apple TV+ is that it probably looks gorgeous. While many Netflix productions have a certain flatness to them that can make it feel like the streamer has been cutting corners, Apple is pouring a lot of money into the look (and star power) of its original series — it helps to have a trillion-dollar cash pile, even if Amazon and Disney are still outspending the MacBook maker….

(12) MARATHON FAN. SYFY Wire understandably wants us all to know “How to Watch SYFY’s Twilight Zone New Year’s Marathon 2023-2024”.

Just as you can count on our planet making a full rotation around the sun every 365 days or so, you can also rest assured that SYFY will use the key of imagination to unlock its annual New Year’s marathon of The Twilight Zone. The honored tradition of airing Rod Serling’s groundbreaking anthology series won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, the 2023-24 edition is super-sized, with the marathon spanning a total of three whole days — starting Saturday (December 30) and ending Tuesday (January 2).

Who needs to smooch someone at midnight when you’ve got Jason Foster (Robert Keith) teaching his wicked family members a lesson they’ll never forget in “The Masks”? Fittingly enough, the classic episode — which revolves around a collection of vain and greedy individuals ordered to wear hideous masks until the stroke of midnight — will air about 40 minutes before the ball drops. If someone offers you a grotesque party favor along with that glass of Champagne, you might want to turn it down….

(13) CHINA’S MIXED SIGNALS ON VIDEO GAME PLAYING. “Will China Ease Its New Video Game Controls? Investors Think So.” The New York Times says, “After a market rout, gaming companies like Tencent and Netease rally on signals that regulators might apply proposed curbs on users less harshly than feared.”

 …The events of the past several days underline the push-and-pull forces in Chinese policymaking. The country’s top leaders have acknowledged they need to stabilize the economy, which has been slow to recover from being virtually locked down during the Covid pandemic. But the government’s tight control of how companies do business continues to inject uncertainty into the markets.

China’s National Press and Publication Administration, which issues licenses to game publishers and oversees the industry, unveiled a proposal on Friday aimed at effectively reducing how much people spend playing games. The plan took the industry by surprise, and investors dumped tens of billions of dollars in company stock.

The regulator issued a statement on Saturday stressing that the draft rules aim to “promote the prosperity and healthy development of the industry,” and said it is “listening to more opinions comprehensively and improving regulations and provisions.”

Then on Monday, the agency announced that it had licensed about 100 new games, after licensing 40 others on Friday. And a semiofficial association affiliated with the agency said that the additional game approvals were “positive signals” that the agency supports the industry.

The new regulations would cap how much money users could spend within games on things like upgrading the features of characters or procuring virtual weapons or other things used by the characters. It would also ban rewards that companies use to entice players to return. The proposal did not specify a spending cap…..

… The industry is still reeling from earlier restrictions first imposed in 2019 aimed at what the government deemed was an online gaming addiction among minors, as well as a broader crackdown against tech companies. Regulators also stymied publishers by not issuing any new game licenses for an eight-month stretch that ended in April 2022….

(14) CHART YOUR COURSE. Archie’s Press offers interesting “Outer Space” prints.

Outer Space is so huge, there’s really no way to wrap your head around the entire thing. This makes it all make sense.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Dann.] A tale of old Japan.  A tale as old as time.  A beleaguered hero looking to avenge past wrongs.  Western forces looking to control a local government.  A beauty of a beast.

When the culture and government deny any usual path to survival, much less happiness, our hero seeks unusual opportunities instead.  Learning the secrets of steel.  Surreptitiously learning the secrets of the sword.  All of them.

Eventually, our hero sets out on a path of vengeance leaving rivers of blood along the way.  Companions are found, whether or not our hero desires their companionship.

Each character is well-developed with unique strengths, flaws, and motivations.  Even the villains have a compelling story to tell.

Blue Eye Samurai is not to be missed.  And The Critical Drinker knows why.  Go watch the “The Drinker Recommends… Blue Eye Samurai”.

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

Pixel Scroll 11/28/23 Scrollmas Won’t Be Scrollmas Without Any Pixels

(1) WORLD FANTASY CONVENTION 2025 ACCESSIBILITY. Karen Fishwick, Chair of World Fantasy Convention 2025, responded to Mari Ness’ comments about accessibility issues at the 2025 WFC hotel quoted in yesterday’s Scroll.

There have been some very valid concerns raised on social media about the accessibility of World Fantasy Convention 2025. 

Some of these concerns are based on experiences at a previous WFC held at the same Hotel, so I wanted to make sure that these were put into context. 

  • The hotel has recently undertaken some renovations in the front/lobby area, which has improved access. 
  • The bedrooms have been renovated since 2013. 
  • We are not using function rooms in the hotel that are not accessible to people in wheelchairs (including the mezzanine room on the staircase). The function rooms we are using are on the lower ground floor and the upper ground floor. We do also have options to use rooms on Floor M as well.
  • Details of the entrances to the hotel are on our Accessibility Audit https://worldfantasy2025.co.uk/accessibility-audit/

There are still some things we are working on:

  • Parking for high sided vehicles – this particularly affects dealers, event organisers and people with larger mobility vehicles – There is space to drop people/unload at the venue, but the car park is height limited. We are looking for parking options. If these are further away from the venue, we will look at the logistics of getting drivers to and from that site. Details of the current provision and height limits are on our Accessibility Audit. https://worldfantasy2025.co.uk/accessibility-audit/
  • We will be talking to adjacent hotels to identify options for people with different budgets and access needs to make sure that people have a range of options to choose from. 

We would very much like people to read our Accessibility Policy https://worldfantasy2025.co.uk/accessibility-policy/ that sets out the measures we are taking to improve the accessibility of our event. We will add any additional measures/accommodations to this page as they are confirmed. 

If anyone has specific concerns or have a question about the venue, they can contact me directly on [email protected]

On a personal note, I myself am physically disabled, so we do take these concerns very seriously and want to work with our potential attendees to ensure they enjoy the event. 

(2) OF COURSE THERE WERE VFX. “No Visual Effects in ‘Barbie’? Glen Pratt Reveals the Truth”Animation World Network sets the record straight.

Much has been made of Barbie and Oppenheimer sharing the same theatrical release date to the point that clever fan posters were created to promote a possible double bill coined Barbenheimer. Both productions also notably shared the declaration that they contained no visual effects when in fact, the famed physicist’s biopic, directed by Christopher Nolan, utilized digital compositing; and there are full CG shots as well as CG augmentation used to bring the adventures of a Mattel doll to life by Greta Gerwig. 

Caught the middle of the controversy are Glen Pratt and Andrew Jackson, the visual effects supervisors responsible for the two projects. Their presence on the credit list highlights the ludicrous nature of the public statements….

… “Even if you look at the sets that were physically built like the Barbie Dream House,” Pratt continues. “We shot clean plates of that for certain shots and in those clean plates, when you looked at them without any actors or crew in them, it looked like a toy.  We were taking that and extrapolating further upon that language.”

There are over 20 fully CG shots in the film. “In the Dawn of Women sequence, which is Greta’s version of 2001: A Space Odyssey there is an entirely CG shot of the original Barbie doll which doubles as the monolith,” Pratt reveals. Framestore did concept art, visual development, previs, postvis, and virtual production, totalling 1,300 shots, while Chicken Bone FX, FuseFX, UPP, and Lola VFX contributed 300 shots. 600 of the 1,600 shots required extensive visual effects work.  “When Barbie is first driving out onto the open road environment and you have the big Barbie Land rainbow, all of that was essentially bluescreen,” Pratt shares. “There was a tiny bit of set and pink road but the car had to be moving.  The sky, distant vista of Barbie Land and the mountains were created digitally from reference photography of the sets that were built.  We created an entirely CG environment.”…

(3) LIST OF PRIORS. [Item by Jim Janney.] Ars Technica has a long dive into movie time travel, from George Pal to Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, with separate scores for entertainment and science. Includes some I haven’t seen and some I hadn’t even heard of.  “The Ars guide to time travel in the movies”.

…Even without scientific accuracy, we can still ask for logical consistency. Alas, that is also pretty thin on the ground, although in this case, there are true exceptions. The most straightforward way for travel to the past to make sense is if you can visit but you can’t actually change anything—“Whatever happened happened,” in the memorable formulation of fictional physicist Daniel Faraday in the TV show Lost. Physicists have dubbed this the “Novikov self-consistency principle,” but it can really just be summed up as “making sense.” Somewhat more ambitiously, we can imagine one or more alternative parallel timelines that are created by a sojourn into history. For the most part, however, our cinematic heroes make a cheerful hash of logic and narrative sense as they traipse through their pasts….

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

…You will not be surprised to learn that Hot Tub Time Machine doesn’t work too hard to maintain scientific plausibility in its portrayal of time travel….

(4) EGGSCLUSIVE. [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Did you there was an Alien series? I didn’t.

But Deadline does: “’Alien’: Timothy Olyphant Cast In Noah Hawley’s FX Series”.

Timothy Olyphant is reuniting with Noah Hawley and FX, signing on for a major role in the upcoming Alien series. Olyphant, who recurred on Season 4 of Hawley’s FX anthology series Fargo, is set to star opposite Sydney Chandler in Hawley‘s prequel to the Alien franchise, sources tell Deadline.

Details about Olyphant’s character are not being disclosed. I hear he plays Kirsh, a synth who acts as a mentor and trainer for Chandler’s Wendy who is a hybrid, a meta-human who has the brain and consciousness of a child but the body of an adult….

(5) GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. “From Local, to Global, to Gone: On the Rise and Fall of Borders Books” — an excerpt from Among Friends: An Illustrated Oral History of American Book Publishing & Bookselling in the 20th Century, edited by Buz Teacher and Janet Bukovinsky Teacher — at Literary Hub.

… Rookie Mistake #2: they ordered some new books and mixed them with used books on the same shelves. Customers were confused, not knowing if a slightly worn new book was “used,” or if a gently used book was “new.”

Rookie Mistake #3: They finally understood that Ann Arbor was a readers’ town and that antiquarian books were of marginal interest to the local avid readers. All the used books were culled from the shelves. After surviving three moves in two years, Borders Book Shop was in a good location with enough space to make a splash, and selling the kind of books people wanted. Their ambitions were rekindled.

That year, Joe Gable, fresh from Madison, Wisconsin, swaggered into Borders Book Shop. During a stand-up job interview in front of the fiction section Tom asked him “What do you know about books?” Sounding a bit like Marlon Brando, looking straight into Tom’s eyes, Joe said humbly: “I know more about books than anyone in this store.” Tom was momentarily stunned by the hubris of the comment. But he took the insult like a man, and after a few pointed questions, he hired Joe on the spot. In fact, Joe did know more about books than anyone in the store. And he proved it over the next quarter century….

(6) RECOMMENDED CLASSICS. The Martian Chronicles and Lord of the Rings are on Her Campus’ list of “ Classics That Are Worth The Read”.

Often it feels like to consider yourself a true reader, you have to know the classics. But the most classic of classics can feel impossible to read. I’ve read my fair share of incredibly boring classics, but have also managed to find some entertaining and important stories among them. Here is my list of five classics that are absolutely worth the read….

(7) DAVID ELLIOTT (1931-2023). Director David Elliott, who worked on several Gerry and Sylvia Anderson series, died November 10. Stephen La Riviere paid tribute in the Guardian.

Like many film back-room boys, my friend David Elliott, who has died aged 92, was not a household name, although he had seven decades worth of credits. Many thousands, however, will remember the happy childhood images he created as a director on the classic 1960s puppet TV series Thunderbirds, created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson.

David first met Gerry Anderson while they were both working on feature films in the 50s. When Anderson went on to become a producer of puppet series for the fledgling medium of television, he brought David over to picture edit. A back-breaking schedule saw him cut one episode of The Adventures of Twizzle (1957-58) a day. The work paid off and soon a marionette empire was born.

David then started directing, shooting puppet stars as if they were film stars. Each production brought greater worldwide success. Four Feather Falls (1960), Supercar (1961-62), Fireball XL5 (1962-63), Stingray (1964-65) and Thunderbirds (1965-66) entertained and pushed the boundaries of TV. At one point, Anderson’s production company AP Films was the largest consumer of colour film, when TV was still black and white. It was a far-sighted decision that ensured new audiences for their work for decades….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born November 28, 1946 Joe Dante, 77. He started off as one as us as he wrote columns and articles for fanzines and APAs.  

Now let’s look at what he’s done that I find interesting.

The first would be his collaboration with John Sayles when they completely rewrote the first draft of Gary Brandner’s The Howling novel for that film. Brandner was said to extremely angry with the film that was produced.

Because of The Howling, Speliberg offered up Gremlins, one of my all time favorite films, to him. I’ve watched it more times than I can count and I enjoyed it each time. Gremlins II, not so much. 

Spielberg also brought him on as one of the directors on John Landis’ Twilight Zone: The Movie. Dante’s segment, a remake of the original Twilight Zone “It’s a Good Life” episode as written by Serling. That story was based off a Jerome Bixby story published in 1953 in the Star Science Fiction Stories anthology series, edited by Frederik Pohl.

Ahhh, Innerspace with Dennis Quaid, Martin Short, and Meg Ryan. The Studio  hated it, Dante made the film he wanted to despite the Studio and audiences stayed home. I thought it was sweet. 

I hadn’t realised to now that Dante was responsible for Small Soldiers, an interesting film. Not a great film but it have a possibility of being something. Not sure what that something would have been. Dante says that there were twelve writers involved in writing the script. Ouch. 

So Dante directed Looney Tunes: Back in Action. Moving on.

Finally Dante came back to Gremlins by serving as a consultant on the Max Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai prequel series. Don’t get too excited as this is an animated series and I’ll give you the promo poster of this kid friendly series as I take leave of you.

(9) PROTEST DAMAGE TO LIBRARY. “New York Public Library facing steep graffiti cleanup costs after protests”Gothamist forecasts the bill.

…Protesters have caused at least $75,000 in graffiti damage to the famous New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman building, where some carved reliefs may need to be replaced.

The damage was caused by at least three separate pro-Palestinian protests over the last few weeks, officials said. The worst damage, however, occurred on Thanksgiving Day when protesters sprayed “Free Palestine” in dark green paint and smeared red handprints on the steps, fountain and facade.

The graffiti damage from Thursday covered parts of marble where donors’ names are engraved with delicate crevices that can be easily eroded by cleanup efforts, said Garrett Bergen, director of facilities for the library.

Cleaning dark paint from the building requires applying a number of applications of solvent for days at a time, he said.

“We could have to replace certain elements if a rosette is too damaged for the paint to be removed. So it’s a little unclear,” Bergen said….

(10) SNAKES, IT HAD TO BE SNAKES. “Box Office: ‘Hunger Games’ Beating ‘Wish’ With $43M, ‘Napoleon’ $30M+ Over Thanksgiving” reports Deadline.

Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes won Black Friday and Saturday at the box office, respectively with $11.4M and $11.2M, soaring above a Disney animated movie (Wish) which are typically the champs of Thanksgiving weekend, and big streamer Apple’s $200M war epic, Napoleon, for a No. 1 win over the holiday stretch with a 3-day $28.8M and 5-day of $42M….

… Disney Animation’s Wish came in third on Friday and Saturday (eeks) with respectively $8M and $7M, behind Apple Original Production’s Sony-distributed Napoleon, which earned an estimated $8.4M on Friday and $7.5M [Saturday]…

(11) PAYING IT FORWARD. “Dr. Jerry Pournelle’s advice to writers from advice given to him by Robert Heinlein” – a Writers & Illustrators of the Future video from a number of years ago.

(12) LAUGHING WITH BARBIE. “’Barbie’ Gotham Awards Tribute: Watch Greta Gerwig & Margot Robbie Get Silly” – an invitation from Deadline.

Barbie writer-director Greta Gerwig and star-producer Margot Robbie showcased their comedy chops in a one-two bit tonight, thanking the Gotham Awards for a Global Icon & Creator tribute. Watch their speech above.

“We love a restaurant in a bank!” said Gerwig of the Cipriani Wall Street locale, which is just that. 

The duo was lovingly introduced by Laura Dern. …… “Four years ago, I asked Greta to come and write Barbie with me,” said Robbie. Gerwig and her husband and co-writer Noah Baumbach “took an object — a doll with no character or story — and cooked up the most ridiculous, outrageous, bananas script in an attempt to conjure back what they loved about the movies.”

Said Gerwig about making the film during the Covid lockdown: “We figured that if no one was making movies anyway, they might as well not make this one. And we showed it to everyone. And Warner Bros., miraculously, said yes, and Mattel, miraculously, said yes.” 

Robbie: “Essentially. Mostly. With some notes, which Greta and Noah ignored.”

Gerwig: ”We carefully considered the notes. And then we presented our case.”

Robbie: “You ignored them.” …

(13) THE EVOLUTION OF THE BOOK. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This is a charming, and surprisingly informative 15 minute documentary from the one and only Moid Moidelhoff over at  Media Death Cult. Actually, this came out a couple of weeks ago, but I have only just watched my downloaded copy. Trust me, I think you’ll find two or three things you did not know. (Have you ever heard of the paperback original revolution of the 1950s?…) In the middle of domestic chaos, Moid took the trouble to make this the week before he moved house.  So make a mug of builders and join Moid…

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

Cat Eldridge Review: “All You Zombies—”

Robert Heinlein’s ‘All You Zombies—‘ on Escape Pod

Review by Cat Eldridge: In a scant fourteen minutes, Heinlein creates the most perfect time travel story of all time and lays the foundation for World as Myth novels that were written much later than this, which was written in Heinlein in 1958. He has been quoted as saying he wrote it in one day, not surprising given the speed with which the tale is told.

But first some words about narrators, audio quality and why older audio isn’t always better than newer audio. You can purchase this story as part of The Fantasies of Robert Heinlein which Tor Books did some fifteen years ago.

The collection is quite wonderful and well worth reading but the audiobook version of this collection is just plain awful — a tinny sound combined with a truly boring narrator who sounds like he’s sleepwalking through the fourteen minutes. Avoid at all costs. So what should you listen to instead? Well that’s where a neat podcast called EscapePod comes in.

Steve Eley narrates the story and does a superb job of doing so. There’s only two different voices needed for all practical purposes and he makes them sound like people you’d know from their voices if you met them. And the production is spot on.

Now about this story. Essentially it’s a tale of sexual genders switched (literally) over and over again. All of which are… Oh never mind. Look I can’t really tell you much about the tale as that’d spoil your enjoying this really clever tale in which not a word is wasted, not a story aspect is not wrapped up perfectly.

If you’ve read the later World as Myth novels such as The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, you’ll see where Heinlein first thought of those ideas including the name of the time travelling force that’s central to the World as Myth novels. Indeed I suspect that this story was what led him to write those later, specifically Stranger in A Strange LandThe Number of The BeastThe Cat Who Walks Through Walls, and To Sail Beyond The Sunset. To a lesser extent, these ideas show up elsewhere as well.

So go here for the location of this story and do check their other spoken story productions. You won’t be at all disappointed!

(EscapePod, July 2, 2009)

Pixel Scroll 3/26/23 I Need A Little Pixel In My Scroll

(1) MEMBERS WILL HEAR FROM GLASGOW 2024. Glasgow 2024 told Facebook readers they will shortly be emailing all WSFS Only Members and Unconverted Friends with personalized instructions on how to become an Attending member, which will save people between £20 and £50 on what it will cost to become an Attending Member after the end of April.

Those who are not already members but plan on attending Glasgow 2024 in-person you should become a member before the end of April when, for example, Adult rates will rise from £170 to £190. If this is too much to pay out right now, by opting into the installment plan people can fix the rate at £170 and pay over time.

If people want help joining, or want to know their current status, email [email protected]

(2) FURRY CON INTERRUPTED BY BOMB THREAT. On Friday, the first day of Motor City Furry Con in Ypsilanti, MI Fox 2 News says the con was evacuated after a reported bomb threat. However, nothing was found and the con resumed for the rest of the weekend.

WWJ News Radio interviewed people who were there: “Evacuations underway at Motor City Furry Con in Ypsilanti”.

…Speaking to the crowd, a man who identified himself as chairperson for the convention said organizers received an email from an unidentified person who “actually did threaten us with a bomb.”

The chairperson added: “What’s going on right now is we’ve got the police here to sweep the hotel. There’s gonna go and investigate — probably your rooms, I’m sorry — but they are gonna look through the hotel and make sure we are safe.”

Cassidy, who traveled to Michigan from Vancouver for the event, said the police showed up as everyone was evacuating. Eventually, officers ushered everyone away from the hotel onto a nearby golf course.

“There wasn’t really a large panic because in some ways the furry fandom is unfortunately getting used to this. It’s kind of becoming part of daily life to some degree, I think where we all understand that someone can just call something in,” Cassidy said.

“And this is actually the third time at a convention this month that there’s been a police presence.”

(3) IT’S THE PITS. Cora Buhlert has posted a new Masters of the Universe action figure photo story on her blog. “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘The Prisoner of Castle Grayskull’”.

Like any good castle, the mystical Castle Grayskull from Masters of the Universe also has a dungeon and indeed the Castle Grayskull playset has always been equipped with a practical trapdoor that allows you to drop intruders from the throne room straight down into the dungeon.

However, beneath the regular dungeon of Castle Grayskull, there is also a second, deeper dungeon that extends steadily downwards, because Castle Grayskull sits on top of a bottomless abyss named the Dwell of Souls. This lower dungeon is populated by all sorts of monsters and represented in all versions of the Castle Grayskull playset by a sticker of a metal grate with all sorts of monsters trying to get out. In many ways, this is reminiscent of the portal to the underworld located underneath Castle Joiry in C.L. Moore’s stories “Black God’s Kiss” and “Black God’s Shadow” or the monster-infested dungeon underneath the Scarlet Citadel from the eponymous Conan story by Robert E. Howar. I doubt this is a coincidence, because Masters of the Universe draws a lot of inspiration from vintage sword and sorcery and pulp SFF in general

Unsurprisingly, people have been fascinated by the dungeon sticker and the monsters living underneath Castle Grayskull for forty years now. I mean, it’s monster-filled dungeon beneath a castle, so who wouldn’t be fascinated by what’s down there? However, little was known about the creatures that live beneath Castle Grayskull until very recently….

(4) LOOKING AHEAD. Brian Keene shared this unexpected sentiment in his newsletter today, “Letters From the Labyrinth 326”:

…For many years, people in our business used to say “Don’t mess with Brian Keene’s family, Brian Keene’s money, or Brian Keene’s genre.” These days, I don’t give a crap about the genre. It can collapse into rubble tomorrow and that would be okay with me. That was how I found it when I arrived on the scene, and I did my part to rebuild it into something better, but the older I get, the more I’m convinced it needs to be reduced to ashes and rebuilt from time to time….

(5) THREE GENRE WINNERS. The winners of the 2023 Waterstones Children’s Book Prizes are genre books.

Nadia Mikail has been named Overall Winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for her debut novel, The Cats We Meet Along The Way, which also won the Older Reader’s Category. 

M.T. Khan’s Nura and the Immortal Palace won the Younger Readers’ category and Kim Hillyard’s Gretel the Wonder Mammoth took the category for Illustrated Books

(6) CASTRO SEEKS FINANCIAL HELP. Adam-Troy Castro opened a GoFundMe for “Chemotherapy and Other Medical Expenses”.

I have run five fundraisers in about as many years, and I am getting used to apologizing for starting this well-worn route again. Believe me, I don’t want to.

Past Fundraisers included one when Judi needed ankle surgery, one when she and I lost our home, one when Judi died and left me penniless, one when car troubles and medical expenses loomed.

I have just closed that last fundraiser because events have yet again changed.

In September, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer, a tumor the size of a fist.

I required scans, iron infusions, many visits, and lots of arguing with my insurance provider.

When the tumor was removed in December, I lost a foot of bowel and discovered that the category-3 tumor had begun to spread to my lymph notes. In late January I will commence chemotherapy.

And this is where I am, at the beginning of another year’s deductible.

This is what I have been told: the entire process of chemotherapy will fall under my deductible. 800 dollars per treatment for six months. I will also require post-surgical scans, more tests and iron infusions. plus lots of unforeseeable disbursements to take care of me while I endure what will be a bumpy ride. There will be drugs to manage the symptoms, some quite expensive. And then I will need many check-ups to see if the treatment is effective.

At the same time, a separate issue but a real one, I am rapidly going blind from cataracts. Treatment for that has been delayed as the cancer takes precedent. That will involve outpatient surgery.

So yeah, right now, holding on to life is costing more than it costs to live.

And here’s the thing.

I know that this is another round of “Adam is in trouble.”

I would rather not be having one. Trust me. I would so much love to do things like travel.

I am more grateful for prior assistance than I can possibly tell you.

But this is what is going on, and I thank you, so thank you, for considering even the smallest donation to what is shaping up to be the battle of my life, only a year and a half removed from the loss of Judi and what I previously imagined to be the battle of my life….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1959[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Some truly great things come in small servings, and it is with Robert A. Heinlein’s “All You Zombies-“. First published by the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in the March 1959 issue after it was rejected by Playboy. It actually had a previous smaller release in The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag on Gnome Press.

It develops themes that were in a previous work, “By His Bootstraps”, published in the October 1941 issue of Astounding Science Fiction under the pen name Anson MacDonald. 

So given its shortness and the possibility, however remote I’ll admit, that some Filer might have not experienced it, I won’t say anything about it. All will I say is that I love the story and think that it’s one of his best.

The Australian 2014 Predestination film was based upon this story. The film which stars Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook gets a stellar eighty-four rating from the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

Spider Robinson does a brilliant narration of it, and I know it’s been done as an audio work quite a number of times going back decades. Anyone care to list them? 

And now our quite amazing Beginning…

All You Zombies—” 2217 Time Zone V (set) 7 Nov 1970 NYC—“ Pop’s Place”: I was polishing a brandy snifter when the Unmarried Mother came in. I noted the time—10.17 p.m. zone five or eastern time November 7th, 1970. Temporal agents always notice time & date; we must. 

The Unmarried Mother was a man twenty-five years old, no taller than I am, immature features and a touchy temper. I didn’t like his looks—I never had—but he was a lad I was here to recruit, he was my boy. I gave him my best barkeep’s smile. 

Maybe I’m too critical. He wasn’t swish; his nickname came from what he always said when some nosy type asked him his line: “I’m an unmarried mother.” If he felt less than murderous he would add: “—at four cents a word. I write confession stories.” 

If he felt nasty, he would wait for somebody to make something of it. He had a lethal style of in-fighting, like a female cop—one reason I wanted him. Not the only one. 

He had a load on and his face showed that he despised people more than usual. Silently I poured a double shot of Old Underwear and left the bottle. He drank, poured another. 

I wiped the bar top. “How’s the ‘Unmarried Mother’ racket?” 

His fingers tightened on the glass and he seemed about to throw it at me; I felt for the sap under the bar. In temporal manipulation you try to figure everything, but there are so many factors that you never take needless risks. 

I saw him relax that tiny amount they teach you to watch for in the Bureau’s training school. “Sorry,” I said. “Just asking, ‘How’s business?’ Make it ‘How’s the weather?’” 

He looked sour. “Business is okay. I write ’em, they print ’em, I eat.”

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 26, 1850 Edward BellamyLooking Backward: 2000–1887 is really the only work that he’s remembered for today. He wrote two other largely forgotten works, Dr. Heidenhoff’s Process and Miss Ludington’s Sister: A Romance of Immortality. (Died 1898.)
  • Born March 26, 1920 Alex Comfort. No smirking please as we’re adults here. At least allegedly. Yes, he’s the author of The Joy of Sex but he did do some decidedly odd genre work as well. Clute at EoSF notes that his “first genuine sf novel, Come Out to Play (1961), is a near-future Satire on scientism narrated by a smug sexologist, whose Invention – a potent sexual disinhibitor jokingly called 3-blindmycin (see Drugs) – is accidentally released over Buckingham Palace at the Slingshot Ending, presumably causing the English to act differently than before.” (Died 2000.)
  • Born March 26, 1924 Peter George. Welsh author, most remembered for the late Fifties Red Alert novel, published first as Two Hours To Doom and written under the name of Peter Bryant. The book was the basis of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. (Died 1966.)
  • Born March 26, 1931 Leonard Nimoy. I really don’t need to say who he played on Trek, do I? Did you know his first role was as a zombie in Zombies of the Stratosphere? Or that he did a a lot of Westerns ranging from Broken Arrow in which he played various Indians to The Tall Man in which at least his character had a name, Deputy Sheriff Johnny Swift. His other great genre role was on Mission: Impossible as The Great Paris, a character whose real name was never revealed, who was a retired magician. It was his first post-Trek series. He of course showed up on the usual other genre outings such as The Twilight ZoneThe Man from U.N.C.L.E.The Outer LimitsNight Gallery and Get Smart. And then there’s the matter of “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins”.  If you find it on the web, do not link to it here as all copies up are illegally there. (Died 2015.)
  • Born March 26, 1953 Christopher Fowler. I started reading him when I encountered his Bryant & May series which though supposedly not genre does feature a couple of protagonists who are suspiciously old. Possibly a century or more now. The mysteries may or may not have genre aspects but are wonderfully weird. Other novels by him are I’d recommend are Roofworld and Rune which really are genre, and Hell Train which is quite delicious horror. (Died 2023.)
  • Born March 26, 1950 K. W. Jeter, 73. Farewell Horizontal may or may be punk of any manner but it’s a great read. Though I generally loathe such things, Morlock Night, his sequel to The Time Machine, is well-worth reading reading. I’ve heard good things about his Blade Runner sequels but haven’t read them. Opinions?
  • Born March 26, 1985 Keira Knightley, 38. To my surprise, and this definitely shows I’m not Star Wars geek, she was Sabé, The Decoy Queen, in The Phantom Menace.  Next up for her is Princess of Thieves, a loose adaptation of the Robin Hood legend. Now I didn’t see that but I did see her in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl as Elizabeth Swann. (She’s in several more of these films.) I saw her as Guinevere, an odd Guinevere indeed, in King Arthur. Her last role I must note was as The Nutcracker and the Four Realms in which she was the Sugar Plum Fairy! 

(9) WHY DID THEY BLOCK ME? John Scalzi supplies the answer for one Twitter user.

(10) FACING YOUR DEMONS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Yup. It’s a real thing. I heard about it on Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! “Facing the demons: can Dungeons & Dragons therapy heal real-life trauma?” in the Guardian.

…According to practitioners, D&D can be used to treat everything from exploring gender – you can take on a character whose identity is completely foreign to yours – to recovering from traumatic events. “Trauma disconnects us from ourselves, and one of the first things we get disconnected from is our imagination and creativity,” Cassie Walker, a clinical social worker, told Wired last year. Role-playing has the potential to lighten up therapy sessions, and invigorate clients whose expressiveness may have been dulled by past events.

Today, Connell is especially interested in working with young women and girls to use the game to build self-esteem and assertiveness through play. “It’s a great place to practice skills and step into those aspirational traits to be the person you want,” she said….

(11) INTERSTELLAR. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Science fiction (and science nonfiction) author, Les Johnson (whose day job is at NASA), was recently interviewed via email for an article in Forbes about interstellar travel. “NASA Technologist Talks What’s Needed For Interstellar Travel”.

What should we be doing to make interstellar travel possible?

“We need to bring back funding for basic research and development and run away from the notion that all R&D must have a near-term return on investment,” said Johnson.

Some form of warp drive is likely the most feasible way to enable realistic Star Trek-styled travel since each warp factor is a multiple of the speed of light cubed. As Johnson explains in “A Traveler’s Guide to the Stars,” Warp drive “uses tremendous energies to change the shape of space-time, allowing the ship to cross normal, albeit warped/compressed/expanded space very quickly.”

In a now-famous 1994 refereed paper, Mexican theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre describes a warp drive that “works mathematically and would allow a starship to appear to be traveling faster than light, while not really doing so,” Johnson notes in his book.

(12) SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME. “Mathematicians Discovered a New 13-Sided Shape That Can Do Remarkable Things” at Popular Mechanics. See image at the link.  (There’s also more discussion in a Twitter thread that starts here.)

Computer scientists found the holy grail of tiles. They call it the “einstein,” one shape that alone can cover a plane without ever repeating a pattern.

And all it takes for this special shape is 13 sides.

In the world of mathematics, an “aperiodic monotile”—also known as an einstein based off a German phrase for one stone—is a shape that can tile a plane, but never repeat.

“In this paper we present the first true aperiodic monotile, a shape that forces aperiodicity through geometry alone, with no additional constrains applied via matching conditions,” writes Craig Kaplan, a computer science professor from the University of Waterloo and one of the four authors of the paper. “We prove that this shape, a polykite that we call ‘the hat,’ must assemble into tilings based on a substitution system.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Cora Buhlert, 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 2/9/23 Fifty Ways To Scroll Your Pixels

(1) WEBSITE SECURITY. “Safety Dispatch: How to Secure Your Author Website” from the SFWA Safety Committee. Sections on choosing a hosting service, domain registration, and the like, are followed with some wisdom about choosing content.  

Carefully Choose What to Share

Your author bio doesn’t have to list family members, your hometown, or any other identity markers you aren’t comfortable sharing. You’re not obligated to mention your birthday, your employer, or your involvement with other organizations, through which somebody might find details about your identity and location that you don’t wish to share. Some authors are transparent about all of these things, and some aren’t. There isn’t a single right answer to sharing information about your life online. But if you think about the boundaries you would like to set in advance, you’ll find it easier to avoid posting information that you can’t take back.

Photographs can also be sources of more information than you intend. Pay attention to what’s in the background of any photos you post on your website or on social media, such as exterior shots of your home or distinctive landmarks through your windows. Turn off geolocation metadata when you take photos or make sure you know how to remove it before posting images online. 

(2) TRADPUB PAY HIKES. Two publishers recently raised their starting salaries, perhaps hoping to forestall the labor action current facing HarperCollins – Publishers Weekly reports “HBG Raises Starting Salaries to $47,500” and “Macmillan Raises Starting Salaries to $47,500”. It’s hard not to notice the figures are identical – collusion, anyone?

(3) SOONERCON. Oklahoma pop-culture event Soonercon announced a new graphic design and branding yesterday, along with a new mascot.

We are excited today to reveal an all new look and feel for Soonercon! We’ve been working closely these past few months with our Diamond Sponsor Robot House to rebrand Soonercon for the modern era. We started this journey with the Soonercon story and two words came forward: community and hope. Armed with that (and whole heck of a lot more words about our special convention), Robot House designed these new logos for us, a friendly and forward color scheme, and fonts to take us into the future.

Even more exciting, say hello to Ripley Raccoon, Soonercon’s new mascot! Ripley is curious, always learning, loves art and reading, and has a whole lot of hobbies – just like our members.

In the Soonercon Cosplay Facebook group the change received a mixed greeting. Some liked it. Some criticized it for resembling sites aimed at kids, others for lacking any sci-fi identity.

(4) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to collaborate over breakfast with Brian Keene and Mary SanGiovanni in Episode 191 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Mary SanGiovanni and Brian Keene

Anyone who’s listened to more than a few episodes of Eating the Fantastic already knows — collaboration confuses me. Tell me two writers have managed to work together on the same project without blood on the floor and a lifelong feud and I’m baffled. So when I learned previous guests of the show Brian Keene and Mary SanGiovanni had collaborated on the short story collection Things Left Behind, released last year by Thunderstorm Books, I knew we’d have to chat about it.

We met for breakfast at Martinsburg, West Virginia’s Blue White Grill, which has been serving diner food since the ’50s.

Brian’s published more than 40 novels, including the best-selling The Rising, and he’s the winner of the 2014 World Horror Grand Master Award, while Mary is the author of The Hollower trilogy, the first volume of which was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award. There’s a whole lot more to know about each of them, as you’ll learn if you listen to those two earlier episodes.

We discussed how being intimidated by each other helps their collaborative process, their different tolerances for writing gore (and how that’s changed over time), the romantic reason (up until this episode known to only one of them) their collaborative short story collection came about, which of them once wrote 45,000 words in a day, how they came to agree on a joint dedication, who gives each story its final polish (and who get the final say on sending it to market), how Brian attempted to bleed all over Mary’s upcoming Alien novel, the way they approach their own deaths, their honeymoon book tour hitting every state but Alaska and Hawaii, their upcoming collaborative novel, and much more.

(5) MIDDLE-EARTH LEGO SET. “The 6,167-Piece Rivendell Is the One Lego Lord of the Rings Set to Rule Them All”Gizmodo takes readers on a tour. (See even more on the Lego website.)

…Although Lego’s Rivendell even includes the place where Aragon and Boromir first meet next to the shrine featuring the shards of Narsil, it appears as if the minifigure version of Boromir has yet to cut his finger on the still-sharp sword. But that’s nothing a red Sharpie can’t fix.

As peaceful as Rivendell appears, the elves are still well regarded for their weapons, and not only does this set come with a well-stocked armory, but also a glowing forge for creating Lhangs and other stabby tools for making short work of orcs and goblins.

There’s nothing worse than working your way through a textbook-sized Lego instruction manual only to come across a step that has to be repeated countless times that dramatically slows down your build progress. That is undoubtedly the case with the tiled roof atop Rivendell—each 1×1 Lego tile will have to be attached and aligned individually—but the results look like they’re definitely worth the effort.

Although Lego did release a mountain (of doom) of images of its new LOTR Rivendell set, there still appear to be lots of details not highlighted yet. So if you’re still on the fence over whether you want to make room to add this sizeable set to your collection, you can take a quick tour of its entire layout using this 360-degree animation….

(6) SOMETIMES THEY’RE RIGHT. [Item by David Goldfarb.] On last night’s episode of Jeopardy! in the Double Jeopardy round, “That’s Dedication”, $1200:

Douglas Adams dedicated this title guy’s “Holistic Detective Agency”,

“To my mother, who liked the bit about the horse”

Returning champion Matthew Marcus correctly responded, “Who is Dirk Gently?”


“Comedy Time”, $800:

1960s: General Buck Turgidson wants to explore the nuclear option

Dan Wohl responded, “What is Doctor Strangelove?”

(7) TCHAIKOVSKY Q&A. Moid Moidelhoff conducts “An Interview with Adrian Tchaikovsky – Children Of Memory and Beyond” at Media Death Cult.

(8) OMNIVOROUS READER. A New York Times interview: “Jojo Moyes’s Grandmother Knew a Bookworm When She Saw One”.

Do you distinguish between “commercial” and “literary” fiction? Where’s that line, for you?

Not in terms of my appetite for reading — I read everything from thrillers to literary fiction to comic books. And I’m enjoying the fact that the line appears to have become increasingly blurred between them. If someone I trust tells me something’s good, I’ll give it a go.

What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?

I was an only child and a voracious reader. My grandmother called me a bookworm, and it wasn’t a compliment, as my weekly visits to her were usually spent with my nose buried between the pages. The books that have stayed with me are “The Black Stallion,” by Walter Farley, and “The Secret Garden,” by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and, as a teenager, the books of F. Scott Fitzgerald. I was also a compulsive reader of horror — I could not read horror now if you paid me.

(9) LEE MODER OBITUARY. Comics artist Lee Moder died around January 15 says Deadline.

Comic book artist Lee Moder, who co-created the Courtney Whitmore version of Stargirl with Geoff Johns in 1999, has passed away, according to ComicBook.com and statements from his peers. The web site cited a family friend, who indicated that Moder died quietly at home sometime on or before January 15th. No cause of his death was given. Moder was 53.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1982 — Paul Weimer offers us his thoughts on Robert Heinlein’s Friday

Heinlein’s Friday is, in my mind, unquestionably the strongest of the late Heinleins. It starts with a strong and indelible paragraph that introduces and defines the character. The world of the novel, a sequel to the story “Gulf” is also a refutation of that story’s thesis, and shows the evolved thinking Heinlein had about that earlier story’s assumptions. The balkanized America of the novel is a chaotic and interesting place, from its vividly imagined Democracy run amok California to the mighty and autocratic Chicago Imperium. 

Its ideas on corporations, artificial personhood, and more are thought provoking. Friday is far and away the most successful of the late Heinlein novels in what it tries to do, and remains the most readable by a large margin. 

And now the Beginning of that novel… 

As I left the Kenya Beanstalk capsule he was right on my heels. He followed me through the door leading to Customs, Health, and Immigration. As the door contracted behind him I killed him.

I have never liked riding the Beanstalk. My distaste was full-blown even before the disaster to the Quito Skyhook. A cable that goes up into the sky with nothing to hold it up smells too much of magic. But the only other way to reach Ell-Five takes too long and costs too much; my orders and expense account did not cover it.

So I had been edgy even before I left the shuttle from Ell-Five at Stationary Station to board the Beanstalk capsule…but, damn it, being edgy isn’t reason to kill a man. I had intended only to put him out for a few hours.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 9, 1863 Anthony Hope. He is remembered predominantly for only two books: The Prisoner of Zenda and its sequel Rupert of Hentzau. Well so says online sources but I never heard of the latter novel. Any of you heard of it? The Prisoner of Zenda was filmed in 1936 with the legendary Ronald Coleman in the lead and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. as Rupert. (Died 1933.)
  • Born February 9, 1877 George Allan England. His short story, “The Thing from—’Outside’”, which had originally appeared in Gernsback’s Science and Invention, was reprinted in the first issue of the first SF magazine, Amazing Stories, in April 1926. Unfortunately, his later Darkness and Dawn trilogy is badly marred by overt racism as later critics note. (Died 1936.)
  • Born February 9, 1928 Frank Frazetta. Artist whose illustrations showed up damn near everywhere from LP covers to book covers and posters. Among the covers were Tarzan and the Lost EmpireConan the Adventurer (L. Sprague de Camp stories in that setting) and Tarzan at the Earth’s Core. He did over-muscled barbarians very well! In the early 1980s, Frazetta worked with Bakshi on the feature Fire and Ice. He provided the poster for it as he did for Mad Monster Party and The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck, two other genre films. He was inducted into both Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame. (Died 2010.)
  • Born February 9, 1935 R. L. Fanthorpe, 88. He was a pulp writer for UK publisher Badger Books during the 1950s and 1960s during which he wrote under some sixty pen names. I think he wrote several hundred genre novels during that time but no two sources agree on just how many he wrote. Interestingly nothing is available by him digitally currently though his hard copy offerings would fill a wing of a small rural library. He’d be perfect for the usual suspects I’d say.
  • Born February 9, 1946 Clive Walter Swift. His first genre appearance was as Snug in that version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1968). Several years thereafter he was Dr. Black in “A Warning to the Curious” (based on a ghost story by British writer M. R. James).Then he’s Ector, whoever that character is, in Excalibur. He shows up next in the Sixth Doctor story, “The Revelation of a The Daleks” as Professor Jobel. (Died 2019.)
  • Born February 9, 1951 Justin Gustainis, 72. Author of two series so far, one being the Occult Crimes Unit Investigations series which he’s written three superb novels in so far, and the other being the Quincey Morris Supernatural Investigations series which has seven novels and which I’ve not read yet. Who’s read the latter series? 
  • Born February 9, 1953 Ciaran Hinds, 70. I can’t picture him but he’s listed as being King Lot in Excalibur, that being his credited his genre role. He next shows up in Mary Reilly, a riff off the Hyde theme, as Sir Danvers Care. I’ve next got him in Jason and the Argonauts as King Aeson followed by being in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life as Jonathan Reiss. (Yes I like those films.) before being replaced in the next film, he played Aberforth Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. Two final roles worth noting. he played The Devil in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and Steppenwolf In Justice League.
  • Born February 9, 1956 Timothy Truman, 67. Writer and artist best known in my opinion for his work on Grimjack with John Ostrander, along with Scout, and the reinvention of Jonah Hex with Joe R. Lansdale. His work with Ostrander is simply stellar and is collected in Grimjack Omnibus, Volumes 1 and 2.  For the Hex work, I’d say get Jonah Hex: Shadows West which collects their work together. He did do a lot of other work and I’m sure you’ll point out what I’ve overlooked.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Heart of the City is about a family’s plans to go to a con. 
  • Bizarro’s Star Wars-themed joke today proves again why this comic bears the name it has.  

(13) EKPEKI Q&A. The Horror Writers Association Blog continues their Black History Month theme with “Black Heritage in Horror: Interview with Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki”.

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

It’s familiarity. The way that it approached all these very real issues we experienced and lived everyday in ways that were innocent and enticing enough to consume when we shied away from the stark reality of it.

Do you make a conscious effort to include African diaspora characters and themes in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?

Yes. It’s a conscious, deliberate decolonization process for me. A reclamation of my identity and these pieces of myself, culture, identity that were eroded with slavery and colonialism….

(14) LET THE WOOKIEE WIN. “Chewbacca: Peter Mayhew’s Wife Slams Auction for Star Wars Sale” reports Variety. Things the Mayhews abandoned in an attic when they moved were scheduled to go under the hammer.

Angie Mayhew, the wife of the late “Star Wars” actor Peter Mayhew, is speaking out against an upcoming auction in which Peter’s “Star Wars” memorabilia will be sold. Ryedale Auctioneers is selling “Star Wars” scripts, call-sheets and more that were discovered in Peter Mayhew’s attic after his death. Peter starred as Chewbacca in George Lucas’ original “Star Wars” trilogy. Angie took to Twitter to say the auction “really breaks [her] heart.”

“When we moved out of this house, Peter’s movement challenges made it impossible for him to get into the attic to get the rest of these memories,” Angie wrote. “It really breaks my heart to see our belongings auctioned off like this by [auction house founder] Angus Ashworth and Ryedale Auctioneers.”

“It was one of Peter’s and my biggest regrets that we had to leave these items behind,” Angie added. “His knees and joints had gotten to be so painful that he was no longer able to go into the attic to get them.”

Several hours after posting, Angie updated fans using the Peter Mayhew Foundation account and said that she had a Zoom meeting with the auction house.

“I communicated our desire that Peter’s items be returned to the Mayhew family,” Angie wrote. “Will keep everyone posted as progress is made – thank you for the continued support!”…

(15) INFLATION RATE. Not that you ever doubted it: “Chinese Balloon Had Tools to Collect Communications Signals, U.S. Says” in the New York Times.

The Chinese spy balloon shot down by the U.S. military over the Atlantic Ocean was capable of collecting communications signals and was part of a fleet of surveillance balloons directed by the Chinese military that had flown over more than 40 countries across five continents, the State Department said Thursday.

The United States used high resolution imagery from U-2 flybys to determine the balloon’s capabilities, the department said in a written announcement, adding that the balloon’s equipment “was clearly for intelligence surveillance and inconsistent with the equipment onboard weather balloons.”

The agency said the balloon had multiple antennas in an array that was “likely capable of collecting and geo-locating communications.” Solar panels on the machine were large enough to produce power to operate “multiple active intelligence collection sensors,” the department said.

The agency also said the U.S. government was “confident” that the company that made the balloon had direct commercial ties with the People’s Liberation Army, the Chinese military, citing an official procurement portal for the army. The department did not name the company….

(16) SQUINTING IN SPACE. Nature reports the first space-based discovery of an exoplanet using microlensing. Primary research paper here.

K2-2016-BLG-0005Lb is the first bound micro-lensing exoplanet discovered from space-based data. 

The system lies at a distance of 5.2 ± 0.2 kpc (17,000 light years if my maths is right?) from Earth towards the Galactic bulge, more than twice the distance of the previous most distant planet found by Kepler. The sky-projected separation of the planet from its host is found to be 4.2 ± 0.3 au (1 au being the distance between the Earth and the Sun).

According to current planet formation models, this system is very close to the host mass threshold below which Jupiters are not expected to form…

(17) 00P$. “Google AI chatbot Bard sends shares plummeting after it gives wrong answer” reports the Guardian. “Chatbot Bard incorrectly said James Webb Space Telescope was first to take pictures of planet outside Earth’s solar system.”

Google’s response to ChatGPT has got off to an embarrassing start after its new artificial intelligence-powered chatbot gave a wrong answer in a promotional video, as investors wiped more than $100bn (£82bn) off the value of the search engine’s parent company, Alphabet.

The sell-off on Wednesday came amid investor fears that Microsoft, which is deploying an ChatGPT-powered version of its Bing search engine, will damage Google’s business. Alphabet stock slid by 9% during regular trading in the US but was flat after hours.

Experts pointed out that promotional material for Bard, Google’s competitor to Microsoft-backed ChatGPT, contained an error in the response by the chatbot to: “What new discoveries from the James Webb space telescope (JWST) can I tell my nine-year old about?”…

(18) APPARENT VIOLATION OF THE ROCHE LIMIT. Of course you know what that is. Errr…. “Astronomers Discover Unexpected Ring around Distant Dwarf Planet” at Sky & Telescope.

The distant dwarf planet 500000 Quaoar appears to have a ring that spans far beyond where it ought to be stable. “That is not where it was supposed to be,” says Bruno Morgado (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), lead author of a team of 59 astronomers who report the discovery in Nature

French astronomer Edouard Roche defined the concept of the Roche limit in 1848, calculating where a planet’s tidal forces would exceed the gravitational force holding a moon together. Inside that region, the stronger gravitational force of the planet overpowers the moon’s gravity and that tidal pull eventually tears the moon apart. Only outside that limit can small objects, dust, and debris coalesce under their own gravity to form a moon. With the ring’s discovery, the Roche limit may need a rethink….

How much trouble can they get into for violating the Roche Limit? John A Arkansawyer guesses, “They might get thrown out of the Astronomical Union?”

(19) DID THE EARTH MOVE FOR YOU? Matt O’Dowd of PBS Space Time displays multiple different ways of looking at the same question in “How Earth REALLY Moves Through the Galaxy”.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cliff, David Goldfarb, Steven French, Scott Edelman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John A Arkansawyer, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day by Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 11/21/22 Please State The Nature Of Your Pixel Emergency

(1) TWITTER CONTINUES TO HEMORRHAGE. John Scalzi reports that he has been losing Twitter followers since people began shutting down their accounts after Musk took over — and that the number immediately dropped by several hundred when Musk announced Trump could have his account back. Scalzi now has tweeted this summary for the last month.

(2) MAJOR PUBLISHER MERGER NOW IMPROBABLE. Publishers Weekly anticipates that “PRH, S&S Deal Likely Dead”.

With the deadline to appeal Judge Florence Pan’s October 31 decision closing in, reports from multiple media sources say that Simon & Schuster parent company Paramount Global has decided not to extend its purchase agreement, putting the sale to Penguin Random House close to collapse. Without an extension of the purchase agreement, which is reportedly set to expire on Tuesday, an appeal would be virtually impossible, and S&S would likely go back on the market.

Paramount’s decision to forego an appeal doesn’t come as a surprise. Immediately after Pan’s decision came down in late October, sources were pointing out that an appeal could only be made if Paramount agreed, and while PRH CEO Markus Dohle wanted to move ahead, he acknowledged that PRH and parent company Bertelsmann were talking to Paramount executives about “next steps.”

Representatives at PRH and S&S had no comment on the reports this morning.

If the deal is indeed dead, Paramount is entitled to a roughly $200 million breakup fee, something that makes ending the legal fight much more attractive to Paramount than PRH. Even the expedited appeal that PRH is seeking could take as long as nine months to be heard and would further prolong the process of finding a new home for S&S, especially if the appeal was denied and Paramount would need to revive the acquisition process….

(3) SEASON’S READINGS. “Bill Gates’ 2022 holiday book list: From ‘Team of Rivals’ to Bono” at CNBC.

This holiday season, billionaire Bill Gates is gifting you a list of five books to read while you’re hopefully enjoying some much-deserved downtime.

Gates, a voracious reader who reads at least 50 books each year, regularly releases lists of the best books he’s read each year — alongside seasonal recommendations for holiday books and summer beach reads….

There’s a reason this Heinlein novel is one of them.

‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ by Robert Heinlein

This 1961 sci-fi classic holds a special place in Gates’ memory.

“I met Paul [Allen] around [that] time, and we got to know each other by talking about sci-fi,” Gates wrote of his late friend and Microsoft co-founder. “I thought I had read a lot of it, but Paul way outdid me.”

“Stranger in a Strange Land” — Gates’ favorite sci-fi book from his youth, he noted — is the story of a human who was raised on Mars, by Martians. The young man travels to a futuristic Earth, where he struggles to understand human concepts of religion and war.

“I love sci-fi that pushes your thinking about what’s possible in the future,” Gates wrote, noting that Heinlein’s book correctly predicted some aspects of the future at the time, including “hippie culture” and waterbeds.

“He also does the classic sci-fi thing of using an obviously fictional setting to ask profound questions about human nature,” Gates added.

(4) HOMES WORTHY OF A SAGA. Architectural Digest invites you to admire “15 Whimsical Fairytale Houses Around the World”.

From a Beverly Hills home to a 500-year-old thatched roof cottage, don’t be surprised if you find Snow White answering the door at one of these properties…

Wow, this may be in my general area but it is news to me!

Culver City, California

If the lopsided roof, stone façade, and odd-shaped window alone didn’t make this home look like it came straight out of children’s book, then the small pond surely seals the deal. Designed by Lawrence Joseph, an ex-Disney studio artist, the home is actually located in a development in Culver City known as The Hobbit Houses of Los Angeles. Built over some 20 years, the community holds a collection of whimsical storybook homes.

(5) WORLD ENDS, FILM AT ELEVEN. CBR.com admires these “10 Best Movies About The End Of The World”.

…Frequent topics covered in apocalyptic films include zombie attacks, virus outbreaks, natural disasters, alien invasions, and nuclear holocausts. Some apocalyptic films are produced solely for their entertainment value, while others encapsulate the chaotic nature of their respective eras. Many of the greatest films of all time revolve around the destruction of human existence….

The list begins with a film with a growing reputation:

10/10 Train To Busan Is One Of The All-Time Great Zombie Movies

Train to Busan is a South Korean action horror film that predominantly takes place on a high-speed train as a group of passengers attempts to survive a zombie apocalypse. Historically, zombies have been portrayed as lumbering creatures; however, in Train to Busan, the zombies are highly aggressive and move with lightning quickness.

Train to Busan was a massive box-office success, becoming the highest-grossing film of the year in South Korea and the all-time highest-grossing Korean film in several Asian countries. The film has been praised for its thrilling entertainment value as well as its social commentary on class warfare.

(6) MEMORY LANE.

2012 [By Cat Eldridge.] Rise of the Guardians

On this day a decade ago, The Rise Of The Guardians enjoyed its premiere.  It is quite possibly my favorite holiday film, though Scrooged and The Polar Express are also on the list as well.

It was directed by Peter Ramsey and produced by Christina Steinberg and Nancy Bernstein from a screenplay by David Lindsay-Abaire. It was based on William Joyce’s The Guardians of Childhood series, 

OK, IT IS TIME FOR A CUP OF HOT CHOCOLATE PREPARED BY THE STEWARDS OFVTHE POLAR EXPRESS. COME BACK AFTER WE HAVE TOLD THE STORY OF THIS FILM.

The Guardians of Childhood series was a mystical epic of mythological characters fighting darkness to protect childhood dreams. It made very good source material for that aforementioned screenplay by David Lindsay-Abaire in which Jack Frost awakens from a very long nap under the ice with his memory gone to discover everyone has forgotten him.

Meanwhile at the North Pole (splendidly realized here), the Man in the Moon warns Nicholas St. North that Pitch Black (who look a lot Mr. Dark in Bill Willingham’s Fables series) is threatening the children of the world with his nightmares. 

He calls E. Aster Bunnymund, the Sandman, and the Tooth Fairy to arms. Each of these is a wonderfully realized character as the Man in the Moon and Nicholas St. North.

A series of truly epic battles to defeat Pitch Black follows lest all the children of the world are permanently beset with nightmares. He is defeated when his own Nightmares sensing he has grown weak drag him down into the Underworld.

DID YOU ENJOY THAT HOT CHOCOLATE? GOOD, COME ON BACK. 

The feature starred the voice talents of Hugh Jackman, Jude Law and Isla Fisher among others. I think it was a stellar voice cast and the animation was splendid. I’ve rewatched it several times, and the Suck Fairy retreats whimpering that it’s too sweet for her to mess with. 

It did exceedingly well at the box office taking in over three hundred million on a budget of one hundred and thirty million, and most critics at least grudgingly admit to liking it. (Children’s films are hard on critics.) The audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes is very healthy eighty percent.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 21, 1924 Christopher Tolkien. He drew the original maps for the LoTR. He provided much of the feedback on both the Hobbit and LoTR. His father invited him  to join the Inklings when he was just twenty-one years old, making him the youngest member of that group. Suffice it to say that the list is long of his father’s unfinished works that he has edited and brought to published form. (Died 2020.)
  • Born November 21, 1941 Ellen Asher, 81. Editor who introduced many fans to their favorites, as editor-in-chief of the Science Fiction Book Club (SFBC) for thirty-four years, from 1973 to 2007 (exceeding John W. Campbell’s record as the person with the longest tenure in the same science fiction job). She was personally responsible for selecting the monthly offerings to subscribers, and oversaw the selection of individual works for their special anthologies and omnibuses. She has been honored with a World Fantasy Special Award and an Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction. In 2009, she was given a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and she was Editor Guest of Honor at Renovation.
  • Born November 21, 1945 Vincent Di Fate, 77. Artist and Illustrator who has done many SFF book covers and interior illustrations since his work first appeared in the pages of Analog in 1965. He was one of the founders of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (ASFA), and is a past president. In addition to his Chesley Award trophy and 7 nominations, he has been a finalist for the Professional Artist Hugo 11 times, winning once; two collections of his artwork, Infinite Worlds: The Fantastic Visions of Science Fiction Art and Di Fate’s Catalog of Science Fiction Hardware, have been Hugo finalists as well. He was Artist Guest of Honor at the 1992 Worldcon, for which he organized their Art Retrospective exhibit. He was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2011. You can see galleries of his works at his website.
  • Born November 21, 1946 Tom Veal, 76. He’s a con-running fan who chaired Chicon 2000. He was a member of the Seattle in 1981 Worldcon bid committee. He chaired Windycon X.  In 2016 he married fellow fan Becky Thomson. And he wrote the “1995 Moskva 1995: Igor’s Campaign“ which was published in  Alternate Worldcons and Again, Alternate Worldcons as edited by Mike Resnick.
  • Born November 21, 1950 Evelyn C. Leeper, 72. Writer, Editor, Critic, and Fan, who is especially known for her decades of detailed convention reports and travelogues. A voracious reader, she has also posted many book reviews. She and her husband Mark founded the Mt. Holz Science Fiction Club at Bell Labs in New Jersey (Mt = abbreviation for the labs’ Middletown facility), and have produced their weekly fanzine, the MT VOID (“empty void”), since 1978. She was a judge for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History for 20 years. She has been a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twelve times, and Fan Guest of Honor at several conventions, including a Windycon. (JJ)
  • Born November 21, 1953 Lisa Goldstein, 69. Writer, Fan, and Filer whose debut novel, The Red Magician, was so strong that she was a finalist for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer two years in a row. Her short fiction has garnered an array of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominations, as well as a Sidewise Award. The short story “Cassandra’s Photographs” was a Hugo and Nebula finalist and “Alfred” was a World Fantasy and Nebula finalist; both can be found in her collection Travellers in Magic. Her novel The Uncertain Places won a Mythopoeic Award. You can read about her work in progress, her reviews of others’ stories, and other thoughts at her blog. (JJ)
  • Born November 21, 1965 Björk, 57. Who bears the lovely full name of Björk Guðmundsdóttir. I like Icelandic. And I’ve got boots of her band somewhere here I think. She’s here for The Juniper Tree which is a 1990 Icelandic film directed and written by Nietzchka Keene which is based on “The Juniper Tree” tale that was collected by the Brothers Grimm. She’s one of five performers in it. Oh, and because her last album Utopia explored that concept even using cryptocurrency as part of the purchase process.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Macanudo has an idea about how to train your dragon that I never saw in a movie.

(9) JUST BEFORE THE HEAT DEATH OF THE UNIVERSE? “When Will the MCU End? Marvel Studios Exec Gives Honest Answer” at The Direct.

…During an interview on The Town with Matthew Belloni, Marvel Studios VP of Production & Development Nate Moore addressed how long the Marvel Cinematic Universe could potentially run.

When asked if there’s an end in sight, Moore admitted that the team “can’t sit back on (their) laurels,” noting a need to keep pushing the limits of what the genre and the franchise can do. But, in the end, he does feel like the MCU could continue for “a long time:”…

(10) FIREPOWER. Marvel didn’t get there first. CBR.com explains: “A Forgotten Will Eisner Creation was the First Fire-Themed Superhero”.

…Before Eisner achieved immense success with his groundbreaking character, the Spirit, the now legendary comic book writer was hired by Fox Feature Comics to help capitalize on the recent popularity of the superhero genre spearheaded by the arrival of Superman in 1938. After a failed attempt to replicate the Superman style with his character Wonder Man in the May of 1939, Eisner created one of the first superheroes to have a fire-based gimmick in the form of ‘The Flame’ in July that same year, actually predating the first appearance of Human Torch in Marvel Mystery Comics #1 (by Carl Burgos, Paul Gustavson, and Bill Everett)….

(11) TAKING THE BARK OFF OF THEM. Did you wonder what happened to the Puppies? Well, pretend you did, because Steve J. Wright has answered the question by setting clever new lyrics to a Noel Coward tune, which he titles “I Don’t Care what Happens to Him”. Here’s the opening verse.

The Puppies that one’s read about
That Fandom lost its head about
Have fallen from the spotlight to the darkness whence they came.
Though individual Puppies moan and whine
A lot,
Their prose is not
As hot as they might claim.
They never, ever managed yet,
Their plan to cause a big upset,
And now they must content themselves to play the hand they’re dealt….

(12) IANNUCCI Q&A. Armando Iannucci on ADHD, Avenue 5 and how human poop would make a good shield against radiation in space: “Armando Iannucci: ‘I have ADHD, which explains why I can only work to deadlines’” in the Guardian.

It’s become a cliche that “politics is beyond satire”. Do you believe that?
No, it’s how you approach it. If you try to dramatise current events, it will quickly date. Nowadays, the news moves faster than the last season of Game of Thrones. So either you get fast turnaround satire on social media – Cassetteboy, Led By Donkeys, Rosie Holt’s spoof Tory MP or Michael Spicer’s The Room Next Door, which are all great – or the more considered, analytical style of John Oliver. Not so much looking at what happened today but where it fits in. Framing the joke and giving it context. That influenced my thought process on Avenue 5 – it’s about going forward in time and away from the planet, then looking at it again from a wider perspective.

(13) ZOMBIE PITCHMAN. John King Tarpinian says, “The Walking Dead series finale was just so-so. But the commercials were hilarious.” The Drum has two of them. “Gareth’s Back! 5 Ads Resurrect Infamous Undead Characters During The Walking Dead Finale”.

After 11 seasons, 177 episodes and 12 years, AMC’s The Walking Dead came to an end last night.

To commemorate the momentous occasion, Ryan Reynolds’ creative agency Maximum Effort, AMC Network’s Content Room and Kimmelot’s Dan Sanborn devised a five-spot campaign that aired during the finale. The series of spots for Autodesk, Deloitte, DoorDash, MNTN and Ring bring back four characters who died throughout the series’ 12-year run….

Here’s one example. Another is at the link.

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

Pixel Scroll 11/7/22 Make Me A Poster From An Old Pixel Scroll

(1) SFPA ELECTS NEW PRESIDENT. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association has voted Colleen Anderson to be their next SFPA President. Anderson previously served SFPA as Vice-President.

The vote breakdown by percentages was:

Colleen Anderson – 38%
Christina Sng – 31%
Brian U. Garrison – 31%

Outgoing SFPA President Bryan Thao Worra, who held the office for six years, said:

I thank all of our members who took the time to vote this year, and I thank all of the candidates who ran for President. I welcome Colleen with joy and the confidence of having worked closely with her as the Vice-President of SFPA that she is at once familiar with our traditions and key elements of our organization, its bylaws, and our opportunities and challenges. I have no doubt that she will bring her talent and vision to making this an effective and dynamic organization that is inclusive and empowering, expanding the passion for speculative verse around the globe in all of its many forms. To all of the members of SFPA, past and present, please accept my gratitude for all that you have done in service to speculative poetry and the association. The last 6 years have been some of the most important and inspiring years of my life, and I enjoyed seeing how vibrant science fiction, fantasy, and horror poetry has continued to grow. I hope you all will continue to reach out to one another and the very best within us as writers and kindred spirits.

(2) DIAGRAM PRIZE SHORTLIST. “Oddest Book Title of the Year shortlist announced for The Diagram Prize 2022” reports The Bookseller.

A six-book shortlist has been released for the Bookseller Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year. The winning title will be chosen by members of the public via an online vote, and a winner announced December 2.

The shortlisted titles are:

  • Frankenstein Was a Vegetarian: Essays on Food Choice, Identity and Symbolismby Michael Owen Jones
  • The Many Lives of Scary Clowns: Essays on Pennywise, Twisty, the Joker, Krusty and More by Ron Riekki
  • Jane Austen and the Buddha: Teachers of Enlightenment by Kathryn Duncan
  • RuPedagogies of Realness: Essays on Teaching and Learning With RuPaul’s Drag Race by Lindsay Bryde & Tommy Mayberry
  • Smuggling Jesus Back into the Church by Andrew Fellows
  • What Nudism Exposes: An Unconventional History of Postwar Canada by Mary-Ann Shantz

The award was conceived in 1978 by Trevor Bounford and Bruce Robertson, co-founders of publishing solutions firm the Diagram Group, as a way to avoid boredom at the Frankfurt Book Fair. There is no prize for the winning author or publisher, but traditionally a “passable bottle of claret” is given to the nominator of the winning entry. 

(3) TWITTER DEFECTIONS. How many are leaving? In an unpdate, John Scalzi says his Twitter following now has dropped by 3,000 since Musk took over.

(4) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Eileen Gunn and Stephanie Feldman at the KBG Bar on Wednesday, November9, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

EILEEN GUNN

Eileen Gunn writes short stories. Her fiction has received the Nebula Award in the US and the Sense of Gender Award in Japan, and has been nominated for the Hugo, Philip K. Dick, World Fantasy and James Tiptree, Jr. awards. She will be reading from new work.

STEPHANIE FELDMAN

Stephanie Feldman is the author of the novels Saturnalia and the award-winning debut The Angel of Losses. Her short stories and essays have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Catapult Magazine, Electric Literature, Flash Fiction OnlineThe Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and The Rumpus.

Location: The KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003. (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs)

(5) AMAZING KICKSTARTER. New Amazing Stories, LLC publisher Kermit Woodall announced the “Amazing Stories Annual Special: SOL SYSTEM by Steve Davidson — Kickstarter” today.

The Amazing Stories Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign begins.  And once again, Amazing Stories hopes to harness the energy of the science fiction community to raise the funds to release a special issue featuring some of the biggest names in SF today speculating about the future of mankind in our solar system!

Stretch goals will be used to increase author and artist pay and to fund Amazing’s second ONLINE science fiction convention — AmazingCon II. There are also numerous contributor rewards, including copies of the special issue, some of our books and anthologies, AmazingCon convention tickets, and other exciting bonuses!

(6) BEEN THERE! Artist Kieran Wright tells Print Magazine how he fabricates small models of iconic LA buildings as a hobby. “Kieran Wright’s Miniature Models of LA Buildings Reflect His Big Love for the City”. I live only a couple of miles from one of his subjects, the Aztec Hotel. My barber shop is in the building. John and Bjo Trimble were volunteers involved in its restoration a couple of decades ago.

(7) SFF BIBLIOGRAPHY. Kenneth R. Johnson has produced another SF bibliography, “Futuristic Romances”. It’s been posted by Phil Stephenson-Payne on the Homeville website.  It documents a little-known series of Science Fiction paperbacks. 

(8) JOANNA RUSS FICTION. The Library of America’s “Story of the Week” is Joanna Russ’s “When It Changed” (1972), originally published in Again, Dangerous Visions.

…“There are plenty of images of women in science fiction. There are hardly any women.”

So concludes Joanna Russ’s often-reprinted essay, “The Image of Women in Science Fiction,” which first appeared in 1970 in the seventh and last issue of Red Clay Reader, a relatively obscure literary annual. Three years earlier, Russ had published her debut book, the sword-and-sorcery space adventure Picnic on Paradise, which was a finalist for the Nebula Award and a notable break from the conventions and stereotypes common in science fiction and fantasy during the previous decades. “Long before I became a feminist in any explicit way,” Russ told an interviewer in 1975, “I had turned from writing love stories about women in which women were the losers, and adventure stories about men in which men were winners, to writing adventure stories about a woman in which the woman won.”…

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1992 [By Cat Eldridge.] Next Generation’s “A Fistful of Datas” 

Spot meows and jumps onto Data’s console.
“Spot, you are disrupting my ability to work.”
After Data moves her to the floor, Spot meows and jumps back up.
“Vamoose, you little varmint!” in a Texan accent. 
— Next Generation’s “A Fistful of Datas” 

Oh let’s get silly. I mean really, really silly. Now understand before writing this essay on the Next Generation’s “A Fistful of Datas”  which aired thirty years ago on this date according to MemoryAlpha, that I rewatched it on Paramount + earlier today. 

MASSIVE HOLODECK SIZED SPOILERS FOLLOW. REALLY I MEAN IT. 

Patrick Stewart directed this silly affair.  The story by Robert Hewitt Wolfe with the actual  script by Robert Hewitt Wolfe and Brannon Braga. Now that we’ve got those details out of the way, let’s get to the story.  

We get such deliciously comical things as Data in drag, really we do. How we came to this is Worf reluctantly joins his son Alexander in a holodeck story in Deadwood along with Deanna Troi. 

Now that wouldn’t be a problem but Data proposes that they use his psitronic brain as a backup to the ship’s computer in case something goes. ( Huh? WTF?) While interfacing the two, an energy surge happens. (Love those surges — haven’t they ever heard of buffers?) 

Now it gets weird. Data suddenly, and really for no reason, is a pastiche of the Old West. A bit of this, a bit of that, a dollop of something else. 

Both the hologram town of Deadwood and all of the performers here in their Western garb are oh so perfect. 

Unfortunately for the Enterprise crew, the interactive characters physically resemble and have the same enhanced abilities as Data. Really Bad Idea.

WE ARE OFF THE HOLODECK NOW.

“A Fistful of Datas” is taken from Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars, the Clint Eastwood film, the very first Spaghetti Western. The first title pitched was “The Good, the Bad and the Klingon”. Really it was. 

Brent Spiner in Captains’ Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages said that “I had the chance to play five or six characters in a show and Patrick directed, which made it additionally fun. It’s certainly the most fun episode I’ve had to do and I would have liked to have done a show called ‘For a Few Datas More.’”

It has been rated one of the best Next Generation episodes with some comparing it to “Shore Leave”. It won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Drama Series.

It of course is available for viewing on Paramount +.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 7, 1910 Pearl Argyle. Catherine CabalI in the 1936 Things to Come as written by H.G. Wells based off his “The Shape of Things to Come” story. Being a dancer, she also appeared in 1926 The Fairy Queen opera by Henry Purcell, with dances by Marie Rambert and Frederick Ashton. Her roles were Dance of the Followers of Night, an attendant on Summer, and Chaconne. At age thirty-six, she died of a sudden massive cerebral hemorrhage while visiting her husband in New York. (Died 1947.)
  • Born November 7, 1914 R. A. Lafferty. Writer known for somewhat eccentric usage of language.  His first novel Past Master would set a lifelong pattern of seeing his works nominated for Hugo and Nebula Awards as novels but generally not winning either though he won a Best Short Story Hugo for “Eurema’s Dam” at Torcon II. He received a World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award, and has been honored with the Cordwainer Smith Foundation’s Rediscovery award. (Died 2002.)
  • Born November 7, 1950 Lindsay Duncan, 72. Adelaide Brooke in the Tenth Doctor‘s “The Waters of Mars” story and the recurring role Lady Smallwood  on Sherlock in “His Last Vow”, “The Six Thatchers” and “The Lying Detective”. She’s also been in Black MirrorA Discovery of WitchesFrankensteinThe Storyteller: Greek MythsMission: 2110 and one of my favorite series, The New Avengers. Oh and she voiced the android TC-14 in The Phantom Menace.
  • Born November 7, 1954 Guy Gavriel Kay, 68. So the story goes that when Christopher Tolkien needed an assistant to edit his father J. R. R. Tolkien’s unpublished work, he chose Kay who was then a student of philosophy at the University of Manitoba. And Kay moved to Oxford in 1974 to assist Tolkien in editing The Silmarillion. Cool, eh? Kay’s own Finovar trilogy is the retelling of the legends of King Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere which is why much of his fiction is considered historical fantasy. Tigana likewise somewhat resembles Renaissance Italy . My favorite work by him is Ysabel which strangely enough is called an urban fantasy when it isn’t. It won a World Fantasy Award. 
  • Born November 7, 1960 Linda Nagata, 62. Her novella “Goddesses” was the first online publication to win the Nebula Award. She writes largely in the Nanopunk genre which is not be confused with the Biopunk genre. To date, she has three series out, to wit The Nanotech SuccessionStories of the Puzzle Lands (as Trey Shiels) and The Red. She has won a Locus Award for Best First Novel for The Bohr Maker which the first novel in The Nanotech Succession. Her 2013 story “Nahiku West” was runner-up for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and The Red: First Light was nominated for both the Nebula Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Her site is here.
  • Born November 7, 1974 Carl Steven. He appeared in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock as a young Spock, thereby becoming the first actor other than Leonard Nimoy to play the role in a live action setting. Genre one-offs included Weird ScienceTeen Wolf and Superman.  He provided the voice of a young Fred Jones for four seasons worth of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo which can be construed as genre. Let’s just say his life didn’t end well and leave it at that. (Died 2011.)

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Dinosaur Comics has all kinds of writerly advice about worldbuilding.

(12) TRANSPARENT LAYERS. Netflix dropped a trailer for Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, which begins streaming on December 23.

(13) A DIFFERENT HUGO. [Item by Olav Rokne.] I’ve not been able to track down a copy, but I figure that any adaptation of a Heinlein story is of interest. “Life –Line”.

Based on the 1939 short story by Robert Heinlein, Life-Line tells the story of an eccentric professor named Dr. Hugo Pinero, who sets in motion a future history with his invention that can accurately predict how long a person has to live.

(14) FORTIFIED FOOD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Scientists at Kellogg’s determined that massive amounts of orangium and electricity have turned beloved characters Snap, Crackle, and Pop into one-eyed mutants!  Fortunately this shocking experiment proved abortive and the cereal was banished to the half-price aisle. “Kellogg’s Launches New Rice Krispies Shocking Orange Colored Cereal For The 2022 Halloween Season” at Chew Boom.

(15) WATCHING: THE TOP 10. JustWatch Top 10’s for October just became available after some glitches. These are the viewing rankings for the U.S.

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1Everything Everywhere All at OnceThe Peripheral
2The ThingDoctor Who
3Halloween III: Season of the WitchQuantum Leap
4Jurassic World DominionAvenue 5
5VesperThe Handmaid’s Tale
6Crimes of the FutureLa Brea
7Significant OtherThe X-Files
8AlienSeverance
9InterstellarOrphan Black
10Event HorizonResident Alien

*Based on JustWatch popularity score. Genre data is sourced from themoviedb.org

(16) ZOOTOPIA GETS SERIES. Disney Plus dropped this trailer for the sequel to Zootopia today: Zootopia+

“Zootopia+” heads back to the fast-paced mammal metropolis of Zootopia in a short-form series that dives deeper into the lives of some of the Oscar®-winning feature film’s most intriguing residents, including Fru Fru, the fashion-forward arctic shrew; ZPD dispatcher Clawhauser, the sweet-toothed cheetah; and Flash, the smiling sloth who’s full of surprises.

(17) ACROSS TIME. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Media Death Cult cracks the covers of these “MUST READ Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Books”.

…My personal recommendations for time travel time, Loop, Multiverse, hop in inter-dimensional pop-in stories. I’ve tried to keep the focus of the video on books where the wobbly elements are the essence of the story rather than something like Revelation Space or the later Ender’s Game books where obviously time dilation plays a big part of those stories but I don’t consider them first and foremost time travel books.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The How It Should Have Ended gang takes on Jurassic World Dominion. 

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Olav Rokne, Lise Andreasen, Jeffrey Smith, 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 Randall M.]

Pixel Scroll 3/17/22 If You Can’t Handle Me At My Pixel, You Don’t Deserve Me At My Scroll

(1) PLEASE, MAY I HAVE SOME MORE? “Editorial Resignations At Big Houses Spark Reckoning” reports Publishers Lunch. Of the four departed editors, one worked for Tor and two for Orbit.

Multiple resignations from the editorial departments at two big houses caused an online reckoning on Friday. Four editors, Angeline Rodriguez and Hillary Sames at Orbit, Erin Siu at Macmillan Children’s, and Molly McGhee at Tor all announced their resignations, leading to a discussion about the workload of junior and mid-level employees and the difficulty of advancement across the industry. The online exchange brought into the open the frustrations of increased workload, burnout and turnover that have been brewing as the pandemic continues. Those feelings are intensified as big publishers report record sales and earnings, even as multiple people report on Twitter they believe their employers are not sufficiently reinvesting those proceeds in additional staff, systems and raises.

At the heart of the discussion was McGhee’s resignation letter which she posted on Twitter….

McGhee’s interview with the New York Times ran under the headline “When Will Publishing Stop Starving Its Young?”

… On March 11, McGhee joined a group of junior and midlevel employees who exited the publishing industry, blaming low pay, unrealistic workloads and burnout. For context: It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to live in or near New York City (epicenter of bookmaking) on an entry-level publishing salary. Add school loans, subtract a second job or additional subsidy and you risk being factored out of a career in letters before the ink on your college diploma has had a chance to dry.

“As some of you may have heard, today is my last day at Tor Books,” McGhee wrote in the resignation letter she shared on Twitter. “My promotion request was denied, and as such I am leaving as my first acquisition (the marvelous THE ATLAS SIX by Olivie Blake) debuts at number three on The New York Times Bestsellers List.” She goes on, “Making the NYT is a career high for an editor. It is rare for an assistant to do so and, by all accounts, this should be ‘a great beginning’ and not a heartbreaking end.”

McGhee also cites “the invisibility of the junior employee’s workload” as one of her reasons for leaving Tor. As Blake writes in her novel, “We are the gods of our own universes, aren’t we?” Indeed we are. But gods cannot live on ramen alone….

The text of McGhee’s March 11 message follows:

(2) ESA AND ROSCOSMOS BREAKUP. The European Space Agency has suspended the ExoMars rover after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The ESA ruling council “acknowledged the present impossibility of carrying out the ongoing cooperation with Roscosmos on the ExoMars rover mission with a launch in 2022” – “ESA – ExoMars suspended”.

As an intergovernmental organisation mandated to develop and implement space programmes in full respect with European values, we deeply deplore the human casualties and tragic consequences of the aggression towards Ukraine. While recognising the impact on scientific exploration of space, ESA is fully aligned with the sanctions imposed on Russia by its Member States.

ExoMars

ESA’s ruling Council, meeting in Paris on 16-17 March, assessed the situation arising from the war in Ukraine regarding ExoMars, and unanimously:

  • acknowledged the present impossibility of carrying out the ongoing cooperation with Roscosmos on the ExoMars rover mission with a launch in 2022, and mandated the ESA Director General to take appropriate steps to suspend the cooperation activities accordingly;
  • authorised the ESA Director General to carry out a fast-track industrial study to better define the available options for a way forward to implement the ExoMars rover mission.

Space Transportation

Following the decision by Roscosmos to withdraw their personnel from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, all missions scheduled for launch by Soyuz have been put on hold. These concern essentially four institutional missions for which ESA is the launch service procurement entity (Galileo M10, Galileo M11, Euclid and EarthCare) and one additional institutional launch.

Consequently, the ESA Director General has initiated an assessment on potential alternative launch services for these missions, which will include  a review of the Ariane 6 first exploitation flights.  A robust launch manifest for ESA missions’ launch needs, including for spacecraft originally planned for launch by Soyuz from Kourou, will be submitted to Member States.   

Likewise, “Russia’s War in Ukraine Threatens Joint Missions to Mars, Venus and the Moon” reports Scientific American.

… The strife is impacting otherworldly missions as well: Consider Russia’s nascent Venera-D mission, a proposed orbiter and lander meant to blast off for Venus in 2029. The U.S. had been considering allowing NASA to collaborate on Venera-D, perhaps by contributing scientific instruments. But, citing retaliatory sanctions, Russia’s space leadership deemed continued U.S. participation in the project “inappropriate.”…

(3) RUNAWAY SUCCESS. Brandon Sanderson’s record-breaking Kickstarter, “Surprise! Four Secret Novels by Brandon Sanderson by Dragonsteel Entertainment”, had raised $29,710,529 when I checked today. With 14 days remaining it will obviously break $30 million and then some.

(4) MS. PRESIDENT. “Stacey Abrams makes surprise appearance on Star Trek as president of Earth”Yahoo! has the story.

Stacey Abrams just boldly went where no Georgia gubernatorial candidate has gone before.

Abrams, the Georgia politician who’s running for governor of the state this year, had a surprise cameo in the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery, appearing as the president of United Earth.

A scene at the end of the season four finale, “Coming Home,” introduces the United Earth president, and Abrams gets several lines, announcing that “United Earth is ready right now to rejoin the Federation, and nothing could make me happier than to say those words.” She also has a discussion with Discovery‘s main character, Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), about Earth rejoining the Federation, and this scene closes the episode….

(5) MOFFAT’S NEXT SHOW. “The Time Traveler’s Wife shares trailer for new Steven Moffat series”Radio Times sets the frame.

Sky has released the official teaser trailer for Steven Moffat’s adaptation of The Time Traveler’s Wife, which will air on Sky Atlantic and NOW in May.

… The six-episode series is the second major adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger’s popular novel of the same name, following the 2009 film starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana, once again telling the story of a marriage that threatens to be torn apart by time travel. Alongside Leslie and James, the cast also includes Desmin Borges, Natasha Lopez, Kate Seigel and Michael Park.

Of course, it’s not Moffat’s first time dealing with time travel – following his hugely successful stint as Doctor Who showrunner between 2009 and 2017 – but he’s been on record to explain that the two shows share little in common beyond that superficial similarity.

(6) I’VE SEEN THAT FACE BEFORE. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Well, this will certainly be out of the price range of us mere mortals… Virgil Finlay’s “Portrait of Robert A. Heinlein” will be up for auction on April 15. “This lot is accompanied by a letter signed by the artist and dated August 5, 1953.”

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2006 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Doctor Who ended back in 1989 when the Seventh Doctor as played by Sylvester McCoy had his final story, “Survival.” No indication was given beforehand that the show was being cancelled. 

A year after the BBC revived by the show in the UK, Doctor Who returned in the U.S. “Rose” was broadcast in the States on March 17, an episode named for the Billie Piper character who was the first modern companion. Christopher Eccleston played the Ninth Doctor.  Briefly. Note that there is no regeneration scene here. Of course as we know there were other Doctors between the Seventh Doctor and this Doctor. Indeed the numbering is suspect, isn’t it? 

So how was the reception for this new Who? The New York Times liked it: “In most previous versions of the show, so little was going on between the Doctor and his female companions that fans took to making up sex scenes on the Internet, much the way ‘X-Files’ buffs tried to fantasize a little action between Scully and Mulder. But between the Doctor and Rose there is genuine, old-fashioned chemistry, and their interaction, which occasionally takes on the aspect of screwball comedy, is much the best thing in the show.” 

And Radio Times succinctly put it, “Think big. Think bold. Think fantastic! For the very first time, Doctor Who achieves a perfect blend of big screen and small screen.”

Season One over at Rotten Tomatoes holds a near perfect ninety-six percent rating among audience reviewers. 

The entire new series is streaming on HBO Max. The older series is on a number of streaming services of a British nature.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 17, 1846 Kate Greenaway. Victorian artist and writer, largely known today for her children’s book illustrations. So popular was she and her work that the very popular Kate Greenaway Almanacks appeared every year from 1883 to 1895. Among her best-known works was her edition of Robert Browning’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin, Rosa Mulholland’s Puck and Blossom and Bret Harte’s Pirate Isle. (Died 1901.)
  • Born March 17, 1906 Brigitte Helm. German actress, Metropolis. Her first role as an actress, she played Maria and her double, the Maschinenmensch, plus several uncredited roles as well.  She’s got some other genre credits including L’Atlantide (The Mistress of Atlantis) and Alraune (Unholy Love). Her later films would be strictly in keeping with the policies of the Nazis with all films being fiercely anti-capitalist and antisemitic. (Died 1996.)
  • Born March 17, 1945 Tanya Lemani, 77. Iranian-born actress who is one of the victims of Star Trek’s “Wolf in the Fold” as the dancer Kara. She has appeared on the original Fantasy IslandGet Smart, I Dream of Jeannie, The Bionic Woman, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in one-offs.
  • Born March 17, 1933 Penelope Lively, 89. I’ve actually mentioned her before as Catherine Butler did a work in part on her, Four British fantasists: place and culture in the children’s fantasies of Penelope Lively, Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones, and Susan Cooper. She’s here because I’m very fond of one of her novels, The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy, having a great liking for fiction about that story. She’s won the Booker Prize for Moon Tiger and the Carnegie Medal for British children’s books for The Ghost of Thomas Kempe.
  • Born March 17, 1941 Paul Kantner. A founder of Jefferson Airplane which would become Jefferson Starship. The Dragonfly album, particularly “All Fly Away” and “Hyperdrive” is very genre as well as much of the Jefferson Airship output is genre. “Hyperdrive” would be used in the opening ceremonies at MidAmeriCon (1976). (Died 2016.)
  • Born March 17, 1947 James Morrow, 75. Author of the most awesome Godhead trio whose first novel, Towing Jehovah, won a Nebula and a World Fantasy Award and was nominated for a Hugo at Intersection. I’m also impressed by The Last Witchfinder as it’s told by a sentient book, Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica
  • Born March 17, 1948 William Gibson, 74. I’ve read the Sprawl trilogy more times than I can remember and likewise the Bridge trilogy and The Difference Engine. He won a Hugo at Aussiecon Two for Neuromancer, his only such win, though he had other nominations including for the other two novels in the Sprawl trilogy.
  • Born March 17, 1951 Kurt Russell, 71. I know I saw Escape from New York on a rainy summer night in a now century-old Art Deco theatre which wasn’t the one I later saw Blade Runner in. I think it’s much better than Escape from L.A. was. Of course there’s Big Trouble in Little China, my favorite film with him in it. And let’s not forget Tombstone. Not genre, you say. Maybe not, but it’s damn good and he’s fantastic in it.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) YOU BE THE JUDGE. All Squaxx dek Thargo may want to know there’s going to be a “Star-studded online convention to celebrate 45 years of 2000 AD”. It’s free and happening on March 26-27.

Featuring celebrity fans and legendary creators, The Galaxy’s Greatest will stream online and for free on 26 and 27 March on 2000 AD’s social media channels and YouTube, and Rebellion’s dedicated Twitch stream.

The two-day show will feature top flight guests on more than a dozen panels, all discussing the impact of 2000 AD on comics and culture over almost half a century, as well as announcements and new merchandise.

… The event will throw a spotlight on the people who have helped make 2000 AD the galaxy’s greatest comic, with creators both new and legendary sharing their stories and insights on the comics-making process — including a feature interview with the co-creator of Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog, John Wagner, as well as panels with Garth Ennis (The BoysPreacher), Rob Williams (Suicide Squad), Alex de Campi (Archie vs Predator), Sean Phillips (Criminal), Anna Morozova (Judge Anderson), John McCrea (Hitman), Dan Cornwell (Rok of the Reds), Aleš Kot (Zero), and more to be announced.

The next 45 years of 2000 AD will also be discussed with owners and publishers Chris Kingsley OBE and Jason Kingsley OBE, and current editor Matt Smith – now the longest serving editor in 2000 AD history….

(11) SQUELCH THAT RUMOR. Radio Times eavesdrops while “Catherine Tate addresses Doctor Who return rumours”.

…The Donna Noble star has been heavily linked with a return to the sci-fi show in recent months, with rumours that she might rejoin the cast for the upcoming 60th anniversary special.

And she addressed those rumours during an appearance on The One Show to promote her new film The Nan Movie, telling Jermaine Jenas that she “probably started a lot of them” herself.

“What can I tell you? No, I wish it was [true],” she said. “Well, no one’s been in touch.”

But she added: “I’m on the same number, I’d just like to say. So, if you’ve got the money, I’ve got the time.”

(12) OCTOTHORPE.  John Coxon has COVID, Alison Scott wanted to do a podcast, and Liz Batty had no better offers. So it’s a short episode of the hosts answering Cora Buhlert’s questions. Listen to Octothorpe 53  here: “It Was John’s Idea”.

(13) BREAKFAST IS SERVED ON ARRAKIS. The New York Times was initiated into “The Secret Sounds of ‘Dune’: Rice Krispies and Marianne Faithfull”.

…We were at Zuma Beach on the kind of warm March afternoon that New York readers would surely prefer I not dwell on, and Villeneuve’s Oscar-nominated sound editors Mark Mangini and Theo Green were nearby, pouring cereal into the sand. This wasn’t meant to provoke any sea gulls; Mangini and Green wanted to demonstrate the sound-gathering techniques they used to enliven Arrakis, the desert planet where the “Dune” hero Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) discovers his destiny.

 “One of the most compelling images in the film is when Paul first steps foot onto the planet,” Mangini said. Since the sand on Arrakis is laced with “spice,” a valuable and hallucinogenic substance, the sound designers had to find an audible way to convey that something special was underfoot.

By way of explaining it to me, Mangini ground his work boot into the soft patch of sand that he had dusted with Rice Krispies. The sand produced a subtle, beguiling crunch, and Villeneuve broke out into a big smile. Though he’d heard it plenty of times in postproduction, he had no idea what the sound designers had concocted to capture that sound.

“One of the things I love about cinema is the cross between NASA kind of technology and gaffer tape,” Villeneuve said. “To use a super-expensive mic to record Rice Krispies — that deeply moves me!”…

(14) FLY LIKE AN EAGLE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future… At least that’s what the Steve Miller Band assured me in their 1976 hit Fly Like an Eagle. Perhaps they assured Elon Musk the same thing (though he’d only have been 5 at the time).

In 2016, Musk told us that humanity would land on Mars by 2024. In late 2020, he revised the landing date to 2026. Now he’s telling us 2029. This is hardly the first time that Musk has been forced to change projections for one of his ventures. Nor is it the first time a targeted date for anyone’s space launch has slipped.

To me, 2029 still seems ambitious given where we are. But, if Musk (or someone else) does manage to hit that date, it’ll be 60 years after the Eagle landed on the Moon. Assuming I live that long (and am still compos mentis), it’d be extraordinary to witness both landings in one lifetime. “Elon Musk Has New Estimate for When Humans Might First Step on Mars” at CNET.

… Starship, which SpaceX is designing to take astronauts to the moon for NASA and eventually to Mars, has made some successful high-altitude flights, but has yet to make it to space.

Musk has made noise over the past two years about federal launch regulations slowing the process of reaching Mars and recently even floated the specter of bankruptcy if SpaceX isn’t able to produce Starship’s raptor engines more rapidly.

Unsurprisingly, getting to Mars takes planning. As Mars and Earth move around the sun, the two planets move closer to one another and then farther away again. To take advantage of the times when the trip between the two worlds is shortest requires launching during certain windows. The ideal Mars launch windows for this decade are later this year, late 2024, late 2026 and late 2028/early 2029. 

It’s looking as though Musk’s initial ambitions may have been overly optimistic. If his target date slips much further, into the 2030s, it will be more in the ballpark of when NASA has always been aiming in terms of sending the first astronauts to Mars…. 

(15) BEHIND THE LINES. Enjoy Greener Grass a Star Wars short film made with Unreal Engine 5.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Pitch Meeting” Ryan George says in the third Harry Potter movie, Voldemort isn’t around but Dumbledore still gets to give his annual address on the many ways Hogwarts students can die.  And when asked why Hogwarts could produce a book of monsters that is an actual monster, the writer answers, “It’s clear wizards don’t have any consumer protection laws.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Rich Horton, Gary Farber, Olav Rokne, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]

Pixel Scroll 1/12/22 Asking Only Filer’s Pixels, I Come Looking For A Scroll

(1) BIPOC WRITERS INVITED. Editor Jonathan Strahan is reserving up to three spots in his upcoming anthology The Book of Witches for new BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and other People of Colour) writers. “Open submission period for BIPOC* writers for The Book of Witches”. He will be taking submissions from March 14-18. Complete guidelines at the link.

Following on from the award-winning success of The Book of Dragons, Harper Voyager will publish an exciting new anthology, The Book of Witches, edited by Jonathan Strahan in the fall of 2023. Like The Book of DragonsThe Book of Witches will be a big, inclusive, illustrated anthology of fiction and poetry, this time looking at “witches”, more specifically your witch and what it means to you.

So far writers who have agreed to contribute to the book include Linda Addison, S.A. Chakraborty, Zen Cho, P. Djèlí Clark, Indrapramit Das, Amal El Mohtar, Andrea Hairston, Millie Ho, Nalo Hopkinson, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Cassandra Khaw, Fonda Lee, Darcie Little Badger, Ken Liu, Karen Lord, Usman T. Malik, Tochi Onyebuchi, C.L. Polk, Rebecca Roanhorse, Kelly Robson, Angela Slatter, Rivers Solomon, Andrea Stewart, Sheree Renée Thomas, and Tade Thompson, and we are reserving up to three spots in the final book for new BIPOC writers.

If you are a BIPOC writer – regardless of whether you’re widely published or just starting out – and would like to see your work appear in a major anthology like The Book of Witches, we’d love to hear from you. Just check out the submissions guidelines below and send us your story. 

(2) KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. The American Museum of Natural History will livestream Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “Year in Review” on February 26. Purchase tickets at the link.

Find out what’s new in the cosmos as Tyson, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium, reviews top stories from 2021, including notable commercial space launches, missions to Mars, visits to asteroids, and sky phenomena. 

This program will be presented online. Viewing information will be provided with your purchase confirmation. Only one ticket is needed per household.

(3) APPLY FOR SLF’S BOSE GRANT. The Speculative Literature Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2022 A.C. Bose Grant for South Asian Speculative Literature. Applications will be open through January 31. Complete guidelines are here.

The $1,000 A.C. Bose Grant for South Asian Speculative Literature, co-sponsored by the SLF and DesiLit, is awarded to a South Asian or South Asian diaspora writer developing speculative fiction.

The grant is named in memory of Ashim Chandra Bose, a lover of books, especially science fiction and fantasy, and was founded by his children, Rupa Bose and Gautam Bose.

(4) RELOADING THE CANON. Lois McMaster Bujold has updated her recommended reading order for her various series: “The Vorkosigan Saga Reading Order Debate: The Chef Recommends – Bujold reading-order guide 2022 update (chapter 2)” at Goodreads.

(5) NASA’S WEBB TELESCOPE LEADER PROFILED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Courtland Milloy profiles James Webb Space Telescope program administrator Gregory Robinson, who is Black. His parents were tobacco sharecroppers and he began his student days in a segregated school, but after graduating from Virginia Union University and then from Howard University joined NASA in 1989 and worked his way up to his current position. Gregory Robinson, Webb telescope director, has had his own journey – The Washington Post

…“I often reflect on how dedicated, smart, encouraging and supportive they were during that time,” Robinson said of his teachers. “They’d tell us that we could do anything we wanted if we had an education. That appealed to me because I wanted to get out of Danville and have a better life.”

“I wanted to go to college but didn’t know if I could afford it,” he recalled. Fortunately, along with his knack for math, he’d been a pretty good high school quarterback. He earned himself a football scholarship to Virginia Union University in Richmond, packed two bags, and caught a Greyhound bus to the university.

At Virginia Union, he earned a bachelor’s degree in math. Then he transferred to Howard University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He later earned an MBA from Averett College in Danville and attended Harvard University’s Senior Executive Fellows Program at the Kennedy School of Government.

While attending Howard, he met students who had done internships with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. He was intrigued by what he heard. “They were doing really interesting things, unlocking many secrets, mysteries and unknowns about our solar system, our Earth systems,” he said….

(6) FROM AN OLD FAMILIAR SCORE. CBR calls these the “10 Most Overdone Sci-Fi Clichés”.

…However, the overabundance of certain clichés can be a tad tiresome, especially for fans of sci-fi. This is because the genre insists on recycling the same old symbols and allegories, over and over until all meaning is drained out of the story, leaving behind nothing more than a stale skeleton of something that used to be original at one point….

One of the offenders on their list:

7 Hacking Into Computers Is Easy Enough For Anyone

The process of hacking, particularly methods that rely on brute force, is long, slow, and painfully dull. Most people wouldn’t have the attention span to work out the countless algorithmic permutations required to break into secure computing systems, but sci-fi would have audiences believe that anyone can become a hacking professional.

Even scientist characters aren’t immune to this trope: in Independence Day (1995), they somehow write a virus and inject it into the alien’s computer, despite having no formal knowledge of extraterrestrial tech. Similarly, R2-D2 from Star Wars is capable of hacking practically any computing device with ease, even though his build is relatively ancient.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1937 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Eighty-five years ago, the German adaptation of The Hound of Baskervilles, Der Hund von Baskerville, as directed by Carl Lamac premiered in Bavaria from the screenplay by Carla von Stackelberg. 

Two individuals are credited as playing Holmes, Bruno Güttner doing the physical work and Siegfried Schürenberg doing the voice. The latter dubbed most of Clark Gable’s films into German including Gone with the Wind. Fritz Odemar was Dr. Watson it was the ninth German film adaptation of this story with the first being in 1914. (There’s only been three such adaptations since then.) 

This was one of two films that was found in Adolf Hitler’s bunker by the Allies in 1945. The other film was Der Mann, der Sherlock Holmes war (The Man who was Sherlock Holmes), another Thirties film. 

If you’re interested, you can see it here with English subtitles.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 12, 1913 Marc Davis. He was one of Disney’s Nine Old Men who created some of Disney’s most-remembered animated cartoons from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to The Rescuers in the Seventies. He worked on Snow White and the Seven DwarfsBambi, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty and A Hundred and One Dalmantians. (Died 2000.)
  • Born January 12, 1916 House Peters Jr. Though he’s best remembered as Mr. Clean in the Procter & Gamble commercials of the Fifties and Sixties, he did appear in a fair amount of SFF including Flash Gordon, Batman and RobinKing of the Rocket MenThe Day The Earth Stood StillRed Planet MarsTarget Earth and The Twilight Zone. Here’s one of the pre-animated Mr. Clean commercials. (Died 2008.)
  • Born January 12, 1937 Shirley Eaton, 85. Bond Girl Jill Masterson in Goldfinger, and yes, she got painted gold in it. She was not nude as is generally thought but was wearing a monokini. She also shows up as the title character in The Million Eyes of Sumuru, the Sax Rohmer based film we discussed last year. Her other significant role would be as Dr. Margaret E. ‘Maggie’ Hanford in Around the World Under the Sea. She retired from acting in the late Sixties. 
  • Born January 12, 1948 Tim Underwood, 74. Bibliographer with such works as Fantasy and Science Fiction by Jack Vance (done with Jack Miller), Shameless Art: Paintings of Dames, Dolls, Pin-ups, and Bad Girls (genre adjacent at the very least) and Stephen King Spills the Beans: Career-Spanning Interviews with America’s Bestselling Author.  
  • Born January 12, 1951 Kirstie Alley, 71. She’s here for being Saavik on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, her very first film. It was, errr, interesting reading the various rumors why this was her only Trek film. Her SFF experience otherwise was brief limited to being the villain’s ex-girlfriend in Runaway, an uncredited handmaiden on Quark, and being in the Village of the Damned as Dr. Susan Verner.
  • Born January 12, 1952 Walter Mosley, 70. I have read his most excellent Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins series but hadn’t  been aware that he wrote SF of which he has four novels to date, Blue LightFutureland: Nine Stories of an Imminent FutureThe Wave, and 47. There’s a Jack Kirby art book called Maximum Fantastic Four that was conceived of and orchestrated by him.  Interestingly enough, he’s got a writing credit for episode of Masters of Science Fiction called “Little Brother” where Stephen Hawking was the Host according to IMdB.
  • Born January 12, 1952 Rockne S. O’Bannon, 70. He’s the genius behind the rejuvenated Twilight ZoneAmazing Stories, the absolutely frelling fascinating Farscape, the could-have-been-great SeaQuest 2032, the Alien Nation series and Defiance.
  • Born January 12, 1980 Kameron Hurley, 42. Winner of a Best Related Work Hugo at London 3 for We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative. Fiction wise, her most excellent God’s War won a BFA and a Kitschie, whereas her The Geek Feminist Revolution won her a BFA for non-fiction. Very impressive indeed. Oh, and she won a Hugo for Best Fan Writer at London 3 as well. Nice. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

 (10) THINK AGAIN. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt says Andrew Garfield’s good work in Spider-Man: No Way Home should lead to a reassessment of his two Spider-Man movies, which Betancourt believes are underrated. “Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man deserves redemption”.

…That is not to say Garfield’s Spider-Man never had believers. There are plenty of younger fans who were children when he was sticking to walls on the screen between 2012 and 2014 and who identify him as their Spider-Man. For many, however, Garfield’s Peter Parker was the Spider-Man that couldn’t. A Spider-Man who couldn’t beat the worldwide box office of his predecessor, Tobey Maguire. A Spider-Man who couldn’t make it to trilogy status. And worst of all, a Sony Spider-Man that couldn’t swing on his webs alongside the Avengers over at Marvel Studios because of legalities.

But our spidey-senses failed us. Now we know we were wrong about Garfield….

(11) A PREVIOUS PIXEL. Pat Cadigan is always supplying her Facebook readers with essential facts.

Robert Heinlein told me that one winter day, he and his wife were watching one of their cats go from door to door in their house. The cat would look at each door curiously, meow, and then move on to another door.

Heinlein said to his wife, “I wonder what he’s looking for.”

Virginia Heinlein replied, “He’s looking for the door into summer.”

Heinlein said, “Don’t say another word!”

He ran to his typewriter and finished a first draft of the novel within ten days.

Just because I know you couldn’t go a moment longer without knowing this. You’re welcome.

(12) LOOKALIKE COLLECTIBLE. Space Command showrunner Marc Scott Zicree tells “How I Saved Myself $300,000!” Before Marc gets to the main event he talks about some other Star Trek items.

…Then this could easily be an illustration from that but, no, this is an officially licensed product — the Star Trek Coloring Book. Spock has the wrong color uniforms so he’s a red shirt, so he should probably  get killed in this coloring book…

(13) SOLAR BUBBLE. Been having a “lonely, empty feeling” lately? “The Solar System Exists Inside a Giant, Mysterious Void, And We Finally Know Why”ScienceAlert has the story.

The Solar System floats in the middle of a peculiarly empty region of space.

This region of low-density, high-temperature plasma, about 1,000 light-years across, is surrounded by a shell of cooler, denser neutral gas and dust. It’s called the Local Bubble, and precisely how and why it came to exist, with the Solar System floating in the middle, has been a challenge to explain.

A team of astronomers led by the Harvard & Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) has now mapped the Local Bubble with the highest precision yet – and found that the Local Bubble was likely carved out of the interstellar medium by a series of supernova explosions millions of years ago.

(14) DEATH WILL NOT RELEASE YOU. Netflix previews a Korean series about zombies taking over a high school. “All of Us Are Dead”.  Gore warning.

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