Pixel Scroll 2/6/24 Scrollerman vs. Mr. Mixy-Pixel-like

(1) GLASGOW 2024 REOPENS HUGO NOMINATIONS. Members of Glasgow 2024 were notified today that online nominations for the Hugo Awards are working again.

One day after they initially went live on January 27, the committee announced in social media, “We are aware of an issue with nominations. We have taken that system offline as a precaution.” There is no extension to the originally announced deadline; all nominations must be received by Saturday, March 9, 2024, 16:00 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) (UTC+0). Detailed instructions for how to nominate, plus more specific information about the nomination categories and eligibility, are available here.

(2) CASHING IN. AbeBooks shared their “Most expensive sales in 2023”, and several are sff or comics.

1. Thomas Pynchon Collection – $125,000

Thomas Pynchon is one of America’s most reclusive novelists and the author of V., The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity’s Rainbow, Slow Learner, Vineland, Mason and Dixon, Inherent Vice, and Bleeding Edge.

This is a collection of 246 items comes from a fine private library.

Highlights include: an advance reading copy of V. (1963), Pynchon’s first novel, in its original wrapper, as well as a first edition copy of V. in a dust jacket, advance unbound signatures and an uncorrected proof of Gravity’s Rainbow (1973), the binder’s dummy of Mason & Dixon (1997) in a proof dust jacket, and more.

“Assembled over a lifetime by a dedicated private collector, this remarkable collection of Thomas Pynchon’s work contained over 240 items. One would be hard-pressed to find a more bibliographically complete collection containing so many Pynchon rarities in such perfect condition.”

2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – $85,620

This true first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published by Bloomsbury in June of 1997. Only 500 copies were printed, 200 of which were used to promote the book, and 300 were provided to libraries. This copy was originally owned by Edinburgh Public Library in Rowling’s hometown. She wrote the novel while sitting in various cafes around the Scottish city.

The book’s library card shows that it was borrowed 27 times between December 15, 1997 and October 12, 1999 before it was withdrawn from service. Those 27 readers were among the first people to experience the magic of Hogwarts.

This copy is a hardcover and was issued without a dust jacket. It has been restored and housed in a full red leather box lined with black suede. The sale marks our second most expensive sale of all time, and shows that the Harry Potter phenomenon, which began in 1997, has not diminished.

This is likely the most expensive online sale of a first edition of the Philosopher’s Stone. Another first edition sold at a live auction for $471,000 in 2021….

7. The Chronicles of Narnia Set by C.S. Lewis – $45,699

This remarkable set is made up of the first editions of each book in the author’s classic Chronicles of Narnia series, which has sold over 100 million copies and been translated into 47 languages….

10. Calvin and Hobbes: The Last Sunday, “Let’s Go Exploring” by Bill Watterson – $35,000

A rarity, this large color proof of the final Calvin and Hobbes strip is signed by Bill Watterson.

Calvin and Hobbes was a daily comic strip that ran between 1985 and 1995. It became hugely successful and was featured in thousands of newspapers around the globe.

This signed color proof was one of a small number produced and sent as a thank-you gift from Watterson to select newspapers who carried the strip.

(3) FREE READS. Analog and Asimov’s are offering their short fiction that made the Locus Recommended Reading List for readers to enjoy.

Novella:

“The Tinker and the Timestream”, Carolyn Ives Gilman (3-4/23)

Short Stories:

“Secondhand Music”, Aleksandra Hill (9-10/23)
“An Infestation of Blue”Wendy N. Wagner (11-12/23)

Novellas:

“Blade and Bone”, Paul McAuley (11-12/23)
“The Ghosts of Mars”, Dominica Phetteplace (11-12/23)

Novelettes:

“The Unpastured Sea”Gregory Feeley (9-10/23)
“Planetstuck”Sam J. Miller (3-4/23)
“Deep Blue Jump”, Dean Whitlock (9-10/23)

Short Story:

“Jamais Vue”, Tochi Onyebuchi (1-2/23)

(4) 100. Sunday Morning Transport, in search of subscribers, also has a free read: “A Hundred Secret Names” by Margaret Ronald.

My forty-eighth secret name is Accurate-in-Speech, so you will know that every word I say to you tonight is true.

I was born under the ice mountains, the second-youngest of a clutch of five. Like me, my siblings were loud and demanding in our fiery infancy, and unlike me, they are uninteresting. My mother was much the same; the only importance she has is that before she left us for good (for we had grown near her size and would soon be extinguished enough to venture out), she took each of us aside and whispered to us our first secret names. My siblings, being what they were, immediately told each other and reveled in this new ability to be individually loud. I, being as I am, wisely kept my name to myself….

(5) DUNE WHAT COMES NATURALLY. It’s really a thing. And Mashable conducted blindfolded testing. See video here: “We tested the Dune 2 Sandworm Popcorn Bucket. It was uncomfortable” reports Mashable.

“This was a choice!”

We blindfolded 5 Mashable employees and asked for their honest reactions to Dune: Part 2sandworm popcorn bucket. They did not disappoint. Dune: Part 2 premieres in theaters March 1st, 2024.

An even better video, however, is last weekend’s Saturday Night Live parody the “Dune Popcorn Bucket”.

A group of teenagers sings a song about a special night.

(6) ELON SAYS HE’S FOOTING THE BILL. An actress’ wrongful termination suit has an angel, of sorts: “Gina Carano Sues Disney for ‘Mandalorian’ Firing — With Elon Musk’s Help” in Variety.

Actor Gina Carano sued Disney and Lucasfilm on Tuesday for firing her from “The Mandalorian” in 2021, over a social media post in which she compared being a Republican to being Jewish during the Holocaust.

The suit, filed in California federal court, alleges wrongful termination and discrimination, as well as a demand that the court should force Lucasfilm to recast her and pay at least $75,000 in punitive damages.

Elon Musk is funding the suit, following his promise to pay for legal actions taken by people claiming discrimination from posts to Twitter/X. However, the posts in question originated on Carano’s Instagram Stories….

(7) IS IT WORTH WHAT YOU PAY FOR IT? An employee of Heritage Auctions answers the question “Is Toy Grading A Good Idea?” for readers of Intelligent Collector.

If you are a toy or action figure collector, you likely have a strong opinion on the subject when it comes to your personal collection. But whether it is a go0od idea for positive future monetary returns is an entirely different question.

While many collectors have long seen the encasement of their treasures as a separation from their tactile enjoyment, others have maintained that it preserves them in their highest quality state as time moves forward. Neither is wrong, strictly from a personal collecting perspective, but grading action figures and toys can have a significant effect on the value when sold. That is not to say that every toy should be graded as there is a real cost associated with it, but the right pieces with good grades can multiply the value from hundreds to thousands of dollars per item.

My general rule of thumb is that a toy is worth grading if the value of it is increased by at least 150% of the grading fee when added to the ungraded value. This is the case for items that already have value and a demonstrated history of selling in graded and ungraded condition. Of course, the final value will depend on the grade that the item receives as buyers pay more for higher-graded toys. For example, if a carded action figure is worth $300 and costs $100 to grade, I would grade it if it were certain to bring at least $450 at the lowest conceivable grade it could get.

On the opposing side, I would not recommend grading most brand-new items as they have not yet proven their value in the longer term. Many of the newer toys graded today may never increase in value over the grading cost and I have seen many toys over the years that are still unable to recoup the money paid for the service. Because many collectors now save packaged toys, there are many more in circulation than have ever been in the past due to the speculation of future value. If there is the potential of significant future value, I would recommend bagging and boxing the toys separately or using temporary clamshell cases made to preserve their condition.

As for vintage toys from the 1980’s and before, if the value is significant and the grade is expected to be 80 or above, I highly recommend grading to increase the value. It makes buyers more comfortable with their purchase of a graded item and its confirmed condition. Of course, these are general guidelines and there are many situations where exceptions would be made….

(8) SEW WHAT? The Huntington shares an item of Civil War history in “Guns, Secession, and a Secret Message in a Spool”.

…Yet the envelope’s contents turned out to be rather curious. There are several labeled items, apparently intended for a museum of the War Department that Townsend was trying to develop after the Civil War. Along with a piece of a British flag captured in 1781 at Yorktown and a length of red tape used by Confederate President Jefferson Davis during his detention at Fortress Monroe, there was a spool of thread wrapped in a piece of paper.

Spools like this were found in the numerous sewing kits (known as “housewives”) carried by U.S. soldiers. But it was the wrapper that caught my eye. It contained a typescript message dated 1861—several years before the typewriter was invented. A note written in Townsend’s hand along the bottom of the page read: “Sent this way to pass thru rebel lines. Message in spool of thread from one Union officer to another.”

I peered into the hole of the spool. Sure enough, inside was what appeared to be a tightly rolled piece of paper. I immediately contacted The Huntington’s superb conservation lab, where project conservator Cynthia Kapteyn managed to extract the paper and smooth it out. (You can watch a video of the extraction here.) The unrolled page revealed a handwritten message, hastily scribbled in pencil. The text matched the typed transcription.

The humble spool and the grubby note shed new light on the dramatic events that unfolded shortly after the election of Abraham Lincoln in November 1860….

(9) WORLDCON IN MEMORIAM CHANGES PLATFORMS. Steven H Silver announced that he’s moved the Worldcon In Memoriam account from Twitter (theoretically known as X) to Bluesky. Please can follow it at “Worldcon In Memoriam” (@wcinmemoriam.bsky.social).

(10) TONY BENOUN OBITUARY. Twenty-five year LASFS member Tony Benoun died January 18 after a long illness. He was active in Doctor Who fandom and helped found the Gallifrey One convention as Shaun Lyon recalls in his tribute “Tony Benoun remembered by Gallifrey One”.

Throughout the year 1988, following the Doctor Who Traveling Exhibition’s visit to Los Angeles the prior October, scarcely a month went by at the meetings of our local Doctor Who club, the Time Meddlers of Los Angeles, without someone giving voice to the idea that we should run a convention of our own. Tony Benoun was one of those loud and frequent voices in 1988, clamoring for us to step up to the plate and run our own event. He’d been part of Los Angeles Doctor Who fandom since the early 1980s, as part of the Chancellory Guard fan group; had participated in phone banking at KCET during Doctor Who pledge breaks; and had worked many other events, including as security for Creation Conventions. Tony was right with us in early 1989 when our club at large decided to move forward with the dream that would become Gallifrey One; he was with us in 1990, when that dream became reality; and he was with us ever since, as Gallifrey One persists through to this day.

As one of the longest-serving members of the Gallifrey One staff –and one of the few of us still left from those early days — Tony had been co-lead of what we’ve always called our Special Projects division: working on (and selling) our convention merchandise, T-shirts, tote bags, playing cards, stickers and more; supervising the moving and maintenance of our homegrown TARDIS for many years (he was part of a small group that created it, a group we’ve always referred to with a wink as the TARDIS Movers Union Local 42)….

He is survived by his wife Sherri, another member of the Gallifrey One team, and innumerable friends.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 6, 1922 Patrick Macnee. (Died 2015.) So let’s talk about Patrick Macnee. Even the character of Patrick Macnee as John Steed in The Avengers is more complicated than we generally think of him. Steed started as a rougher agent than the gentleman he would become during the Gale and Peel eras. 

His dress as Dr. David Keel’s sidekick was a trenchcoat and suit, though the famous bowler hat and umbrella showed up very occasionally part way through the first series.

The gentleman agent in look and manner came to be in the second series when the actor who played Keel quit to pursue a film career. Once Macnee was promoted to star he adapted permanently that Saville Row suit and bowler hat with the sword cane look that he’d keep for the entire series and the New Avengers as well. 

So what else do I find interesting about his career? (My way of saying don’t expect me to cover everything he did here.) 

Now you might well guess the first role I’ll single out.

He may, and I say may deliberately, played Holmes twice in two television films, The Hound of London and Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Temporal Nexus. The latter may or may not exist as commenters online say they cannot actually find this case of paranormal murders and extraterrestrials. Holmes meets War of the Worlds? Surely in those nearly one and fifty films involving him, that been done, hasn’t it? Or not. 

Of his Watson performances, more is certain. He played him three times: once alongside Roger Moore’s Sherlock Holmes in these television films:  Sherlock Holmes in New York, and then twice with Christopher Lee, first in Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady, and then in Incident at Victoria Falls.

He sort of plays him a fourth time. He appeared in Magnum, P.I. as, what else?, a retired British agent who suffered from the delusion that he was Sherlock Holmes, in the episode titled “Holmes”.  

What next? In a one-off, he took over Leo G. Carroll’s role as the head of U.N.C.L.E. as Sir John Raleigh in Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Fifteen Years Later Affair.  Anyone see this?

He’s in A View to Kill as Sir Godfrey Tibbett, a Roger Moore Bond film, as a horse trainer who helps him infiltrate Zorin’s chateau and stables.

Since everyone it seems showed up on this series, it probably won’t surprise you I that he was on Columbo in the “Troubled Waters” where he’s Capt. Gibbon. They filmed it on a real cruise ship, called the Sun Princess at the time. It was later sold many times and renamed Ocean Dream finally. It was abandoned off the coast of Thailand and sank there. Don’t you love my trivia? 

Finally, I think, he appeared on Broadway as the star of Anthony Shaffer’s Sleuth in the early seventies. He then headlined the national tour of that play.

No, I forgot an appearance I wanted to note. My bad.  He appeared on The Twilight Zone in “Judgement Night”. There he played the First Officer on the S.S. Queen of Glasgow, a cargo carrier, headed out on London to New York with a passenger with no memory but a feeling that something very bad will happen. 

I’m going now. Really I am.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) EGYPTIAN GRAPHIC STORIES. Hear about “Cairo in comics” in The Documentary at BBC Sounds.

Modern Cairo is a crowded metropolis. The city’s ‘thousand minarets’ are now dwarfed by a new skyline of slick tower blocks. Modern highways fly over bustling kiosks where residents gather to smoke and buy soda drinks. 

Inspired by the lives of their neighbours, playing out among mosques, high rise buildings and on busy streets, Egyptian writers and graphic artists, including Deena Mohamed, Shennawy and Mohamed Wahba bring their thousand-year-old capital to life. They tell the stories behind their own books and comics – Tok Tok, Shubeik Lubeik, and A Bird’s Eye View over Cairo. And how today, the city’s dedicated festival Cairo Comix has become an annual destination for artists and fans from around the world. 

(14) FROM SPACE COWBOY BOOKS. Released on February 4: Another Time: An Anthology of Time Travel Stories 1942-1960 edited by Jean-Paul L. Garnier.

The nature of time has forever perplexed humankind. Add the many ripe paradoxes of time travel and the situation gets complicated. While science has shown us that time travel is technically possible, at least on paper, we still know little about what time actually is, or our place within it. Science fiction has long explored this theme and it has become one of the cornerstones of the genre. In this collection of stories, we find visions of what time travel could be, what could go wrong, and dive headlong into the paradoxical nature of what it might entail. Tales ranging from 1942 to 1960 bring us into these mysterious worlds and provide a window into what the writers of this era grappled with when exploring time and the possibilities of traveling within the fourth dimension. Readers will also delight in traversing another time in literature, with stories that first appeared in Worlds of IF, Astonishing Stories, Galaxy Magazine, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Startling Stories, and Imagination Stories of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

 With stories by:

  • C. Shook
  • Darius John Granger
  • Evelyn E. Smith,
  • Sylvia Jacobs
  • Rog Phillips
  • Miriam Allen deFord
  • Anthony Boucher
  • Henry Kuttner
  • Alfred Bester

 With an introduction by Dr. Phoenix Alexander. Original cover art by Zara Kand. Get your copy at Bookshop.org.

(15) THIS YEAR’S CROP. Apple+ announced several new shows yesterday, including two intriguing sf series: “Apple TV+ Unveils New Slate Of Originals for 2024” at AllYourScreens.

Constellation
Premiere date: 
Wednesday, February 21
A new, eight-part conspiracy-based psychological thriller starring Noomi Rapace and Emmy Award nominee Jonathan Banks that will premiere globally on Wednesday, February 21, 2024 with the first three episodes, followed by one episode weekly, every Wednesday through March 27 on Apple TV+.  

Created and written by Peter Harness, “Constellation” stars Rapace as Jo – an astronaut who returns to Earth after a disaster in space – only to discover that key pieces of her life seem to be missing. The action-packed space adventure is an exploration of the dark edges of human psychology, and one woman’s desperate quest to expose the truth about the hidden history of space travel and recover all that she has lost. The series also stars James D’Arcy, Julian Looman, Will Catlett, Barbara Sukowa, and introduces Rosie and Davina Coleman as Alice. 

“Constellation” is directed by Emmy Award winner Michelle MacLaren, Oscar nominee Oliver Hirschbiegel and Oscar nominee Joseph Cedar. Produced by Turbine Studios and Haut et Court TV, the series is executive produced by David Tanner, Tracey Scoffield, Caroline Benjo, Simon Arnal, Carole Scotta and Justin Thomson. MacLaren directs the first two episodes and executive produces the series with Rebecca Hobbs and co-executive producer Jahan Lopes for MacLaren Entertainment. Harness executive produces through Haunted Barn Ltd. The series was shot principally in Germany and was series produced by Daniel Hetzer for Turbine Studios, Germany…

Dark Matter
Premiere date:
 Wednesday, May 8

Dark Matter is a sci-fi thriller series based on the blockbuster book by acclaimed, bestselling author Blake Crouch. The nine-episode series features an ensemble cast that includes Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Connelly, Alice Braga, Jimmi Simpson, Dayo Okeniyi and Oakes Fegley. Dark Matter makes its global debut on Apple TV+ on May 8, 2024, premiering with the first two episodes, followed by new episodes every Wednesday through June 26. 

Hailed as one of the best sci-fi novels of the decade, Dark Matter is a story about the road not taken. The series will follow Jason Dessen (played by Edgerton), a physicist, professor, and family man who — one night while walking home on the streets of Chicago — is abducted into an alternate version of his life. Wonder quickly turns to nightmare when he tries to return to his reality amid the mind-bending landscape of lives he could have lived. In this labyrinth of realities, he embarks on a harrowing journey to get back to his true family and save them from the most terrifying, unbeatable foe imaginable: himself.

Crouch serves as executive producer, showrunner, and writer alongside executive producers Matt Tolmach and David Manpearl for Matt Tolmach Productions, and Joel Edgerton. Dark Matter” is produced for Apple TV+ by Sony Pictures Television.

(16) FANCY EDITION. The Illustrated World of Tolkien from Easton Press is pretty.

An excellent guide to Middle-earth and the Undying Lands, including vivid descriptions of all Tolkien’s beasts, monsters, races, nations, deities, and the flora and fauna of the territory. Full-color pages with stunning illustrations create an enchanting source for information on all the fantastical places and creatures that sprung from Tolkien’s mind….

(17) THE SINGULARITY WILL NOT BE TELEVISED. Is ChatGPT compiling clinical information or drumming up business? “FDA medical device loophole could cause patient harm, study warns” at Healthcare IT News.

Doctors and researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the UMD Institute for Health Computing and the VA Maryland Healthcare System are concerned that large language models summarizing clinical data could meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s device-exemption criteria and could cause patient harm.

WHY IT MATTERS

Artificial intelligence that summarizes clinical notes, medications and other patient data without FDA oversight will soon reach patients, doctors and researchers said in a new viewpoint published Monday on the JAMA Network.

They analyzed FDA’s final guidance on clinical decision support software. The agency has interpreted it as involving “time-critical” decision-making as a regulated device function, and that could include LLM generation of a clinical summary, the authors said. 

Published about two months before ChatGPT’s release, the researchers said the guidance “provides an unintentional ‘roadmap’ for how LLMs could avoid FDA regulation.”

Generative AI will change everyday clinical tasks. It has earned a great deal of attention for its promise to reduce physician and nurse burnout, and to improve healthcare operational efficiencies, but LLMs that summarize clinical notes, medications and other forms of patient data “could exert important and unpredictable effects on clinician decision-making,” the researchers said.

They conducted tests using ChatGPT and anonymized patient record data, and examined the summarization outputs, concluding, that results raise questions that go beyond “accuracy.”

“In the clinical context, sycophantic summaries could accentuate or otherwise emphasize facts that comport with clinicians’ preexisting suspicions, risking a confirmation bias that could increase diagnostic error,” they said. 

…However, it’s a dystopian danger that generally arises “when LLMs tailor responses to perceived user expectations” and become virtual AI yes-men to clinicians.

“Like the behavior of an eager personal assistant.”…

(18) A BIT SHY OF THE MARK. Damien G. Walter’s history “The war for the Hugo awards” begins by saying that the first Hugo Awards (1953) were “so small scale that no plans were made to run them again.” Although the runners of the 1954 Worldcon didn’t give them, Ben Jason, who was instrumental in resuming the Hugos in 1955 (see “The Twice-Invented Hugos”) told me that the people who created the awards intended them to be annual. So that’s Walter taking a bit of literary license. You’ll have to check to see how closely the rest of his video hews to history. 

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

Pixel Scroll 12/24/23 I’ve Got 99 Pixels But The Scroll Ain’t Fifth

(1) WHAT HAPPENS IN TRISOLARIS — STAYS IN VEGAS. “Netflix to Stage ‘3 Body Problem’ Immersive Experience at CES 2024”. Variety tells what visitors at the Las Vegas event will encounter.

Next month, Netflix will have a booth on the main CES show floor for the first time — where it will stage an “immersive experience” for the “3 Body Problem,” the sci-fi drama series from “Game of Thrones” duo David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and Alexander Woo.

The streamer’s exhibit space at CES 2024 will be located at the Las Vegas Convention Center’s Central Hall, Booth #17048. Per Netflix’s description of the activation: “An otherworldly headset will transport CES attendees into the mysterious world of ‘3 Body Problem’ in a fun and experiential way, showcasing the series’ genre-bending high stakes.” The experience keys off a key narrative element in the “3 Body Problem” universe, in which a gaming headset is used by characters to transport into an unknown world.

In the wearable-display experience, CES attendees will be able to watch the series trailer for the very first time. And as they watch, Netflix says, “they are transported into an immersive, real-world extension of the series, revealing clues about the nature of the core threat in the ‘3 Body Problem.’”…

(2) BAD BUZZ ABOUT GOODREADS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The saga of Cait Corrain, et al., takes the lede in the Guardian story, “’It’s totally unhinged’: is the book world turning against Goodreads?”

For Bethany Baptiste, Molly X Chang, KM Enright, Thea Guanzon, Danielle L Jensen, Akure Phénix, RM Virtues and Frances White, it must have been brutal reading. All received scathing reviews on Goodreads, an online platform that reputedly has the power to make or break new authors.

But the verdicts were not delivered by an esteemed literary critic. They were the work of Cait Corrain, a debut author who used fake accounts to “review bomb” her perceived rivals. The literary scandal led to Corrain posting an apology, being dropped by her agent and having her book deal cancelled.

It also uncovered deeper questions about Goodreads, arguably the most popular site on which readers post book reviews, and its outsized impact on the publishing industry. Its members had produced 26m book reviews and 300m ratings over the past year, the site reported in October. But for some authors, it has become a toxic work environment that can sink a book before it is even published.

“It has a lot of influence because there are so many people now who are not in the New York ecosystem of publishing,” says Bethanne Patrick, a critic, author and podcaster. “Publishers and agents and authors and readers go to Goodreads to see what is everybody else looking at, what’s everyone else interested in? It has a tremendous amount of influence in the United States book world and reading world and probably more than some people wish it had.

Goodreads allows users to review unpublished titles. Publishers frequently send advance copies to readers in exchange for online reviews that they hope will generate buzz. But in October, Goodreads acknowledged a need to protect the “authenticity” of ratings and reviews, encouraging users to report content or behaviour that breaches its guidelines.

Goodreads said: “Earlier this year, we launched the ability to temporarily limit submission of ratings and reviews on a book during times of unusual activity that violate our guidelines, including instances of ‘review bombing’. This kind of activity is not tolerated on Goodreads and it diminishes the community’s trust in people who participate.”…

(3) THE HAUNTENING. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] BBC Radio 4 has had a short comedy, thriller. When he gets a gift from his girlfriend, he does not realize that it is a deep fake powered by an artificial intelligence.  But the AI does not take well to criticism and things soon become personal… You can listen to it here. “The Hauntening”.

Travel through the bad gateway in this modern ghost story as writer and performer Tom Neenan discovers what horrors lurk in our apps and gadgets. In this episode, a celebrity birthday message from Joanna Lumley turns into a terrifying gift for Tom

Modern technology is terrifying. The average smartphone carries out three-point-three-six billion instructions per second. The average person can only carry out one instruction in that time. Stop and think about that for a second. Sorry, that’s two instructions – you won’t be able to do that.

But what if modern technology was… literally terrifying? What if there really was a ghost in the machine?

(4) POSTERIZED. Think of it as a start on next year’s shopping. Or simply a well-deserved gift for yourself.  “Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk (Millennium Records, 1977)” at Heritage Auctions. Bidding is only up to $16 at last look.

Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk (Millennium Records, 1977). Very Fine on Linen. All English Language Japanese Record Store Poster (20.25″ X 29.25″) Robert Rodriquez Artwork.

Even though its films take place in a galaxy far, far away, the Star Wars franchise has connected with audiences since the original film’s release in 1977. 20th Century Fox had no idea that the film would resonate so much with fans, so when George Lucas agreed to pass up a $500,000 directing bonus to attain merchandising rights, it seemed safe for the studio to do. However, Lucas, who had seen the merchandising blitz that came with his good friend Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, knew well the power that films had on consumers. George Lucas’ imagination led to a licensing goldmine of action figures, play sets, posters, board games, books, trading cards, costumes, and more. It’s been 45 years since Star Wars hit the screen, and the franchise has raked in over $29 billion in merchandise sales alone. Much more than the Joseph Campbell hero’s journey set in a space opera, the retail and promotional items made in conjunction with this multi-faceted property have brought tremendous joy to fans worldwide and remain coveted among collectors. The characters, the settings, and the galaxy continue to be beloved by Force believers, and here we present an extensive treasure trove of rare items dating from 1977 to today. May the Force be with you!

Offered in this lot is a rare all-English language Japanese record store poster for Meco’s best-selling album Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk, which reworked the Star Wars score into a disco and jazz fusion medley. A restored poster with bright color and a clean overall appearance. Minor touchup and color touchup is applied to several creases. Grades on all restored items are pre-restoration grades.

(5) VISION QUESTS. Deadline studies the rapid advancement in animation effects in “’Across The Spider-Verse’, ‘Nimona’ & ‘TMNT: Mutant Mayhem’ VFX”.

… Since the first Academy Award for Best Animated Feature was awarded in 2002 to DreamWorks’ Shrek, the animation industry has made incredible strides. This awards season, such films are pushing the boundaries of what animation can be, and VFX plays a huge part in infusing new artistic styles into every frame….

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse pushed the animated comic book style of the 2018 film even further with six new, distinct worlds and a visually complex villain. 

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse amazed everyone in 2018 with an interpretation of animated comics, and set a bar for what animation could look like. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse exceeded expectations with the introduction of six new worlds, each with a new style of animation. While these were all challenging in their own way, VFX supervisor Mike Lasker says the most challenging aspect of the film was the new villain, the Spot. 

“This was the culmination of every tool in our toolbox we had created over the course of production,” he says. “We had a lot of great reference paintings of him, and there were all these different, dark and evil sorts of purples and ink splattering off of him as he moved his limbs.” Using 2D tools integrated into the 3D animation software, Lasker’s team was able to add hand-drawn ink lines, paint strokes, distortion, and more to create the final look. “We ended up using the stroke system, ink splatter coming off the layers, heavy compositing, lighting, paint strokes—every area of the pipeline was involved.”

Lasker says look supervisor Craig Feifarek was an essential part of creating the final look of the Spot. “Craig actually lit and composited all of these shots,” he says. “He did a great job, but also the animation department did an amazing job prototyping how the Spot acts in the last shots of the film. They were able to create all these crazy flash frames… I look at this now and I’m still in awe of what they’ve done.”

(6) HERE’S MY NUMBER AND A DIME. Slashfilm says “A Chance Run-In With Ray Bradbury Helped Bring Blade Runner To The Big Screen”.

…Paul M. Sammon’s “Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner” provides an in-depth look at the genesis of “Blade Runner” and details Fancher’s attempts to seek out [Philip K. Dick] the man behind “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” Unfortunately, the search was proving fruitless at first, with Fancher claiming “it was just about impossible to learn anything about him.” The writer, eager to get going on a script, took a trip to New York in search of the mysterious author’s agents, who turned out to be unhelpful.

What happened next was complete luck, according to Fancher, who ended up “accidentally” running into an author not dissimilar to Dick: the legendary author Ray Bradbury. The man responsible for sci-fi classics such as “Fahrenheit 451” and “The Martian Chronicles” handed Fancher a lifeline during their chance encounter. Flipping through his address book, he found Philip K. Dick’s home phone number and promptly handed it over to Fancher.

As the future co-writer of the “Blade Runner” script recalled: “the next day, in fact, I called Phil about the book and we set up an appointment to meet in his apartment.” The two spoke at Dick’s Santa Ana home where they are said to have gotten along well despite Fancher sensing some “manic” and “self-reverential” tendencies in the author, who seemed initially wary of any Hollywood treatment of his novels….

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 24, 1910 Fritz Leiber. (Died 1992.) Now in Birthdays we come to the matter of Fritz Leiber.

Fritz Leiber. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

Warning: this is my list of favorite works by him, not a definitive look at him. 

I’ll  start with The Big Time as it has long been my favorite work by him, and I must say that it has magnificently held up over the years. No Suck Fairy has dared approach it lest she turn to dust on the winds of the Change Wars. 

First published sixty-two years ago as a novel by Ace Books, The Big Time started out as a two part-serial in Galaxy Magazine‘s in the March and April 1958 issues. It would win the Hugo Award for Best Novel or Novelette at Solacon. 

It was well-received with Algis Budrys liking it but he noted it was more of a play than an actual novel. One set, a small number of actors — perfect to be staged.

There were also the Change War stories, collected in Snakes & Spiders: The Definitive Change War Collection, published by Creative Minority Productions which I can’t say I’ve ever heard of. It is available from the usual suspects. And yes, I just got a copy as I can still read short stories fine even if novels are long beyond me. 

Next up without question are that barbarian and thief duo, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Leiber wrote it as a counterpoint he says in part to such characters as Conan the Barbarian, and I for one like them very much better. I think I’ve read all them, and they’re certainly his most entertaining writing by far.

I really like Conjure Wife which was awarded the Retro Hugo Award at Dublin 2019. A most delicious take on the premise that all women are witches, and told all so well. 

Yes, I like his short stories by I can’t remember which are my favorite ones other than the Change 

That’s my list of favorite Leiber works, what’s yours?

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld sends help to those hunting for last-minute gifts.

(9) AFTER THE CALAMITY. [Item by Steven French.] Read Jeff Vander Meer “On Sven Holm’s Novella of Nuclear Disaster” in The Paris Review. The post-apocalyptic story Termush,  originally published in 1967, was reissued earlier this year with a foreword by Vander Meer:

…In its treatment of the aftermath of nuclear war, Termush distinguishes itself from the so-called disaster cozies of the fifties, like the novels of John Wyndham, to occupy more urgent territory. In this genre, the dangers of some calamitous situation become entwined with an almost cheery disaster-tourism tone; more importantly, civilization always wins in the end, even if in an altered form. The militias may hold sway for a while, or the plague lay waste to whole towns, but by the novel’s close, equilibrium and balance, logic and order, always return to human endeavors. Not so much in Termush, which also eludes, through its particular focus and narrative velocity, echoes of Cold War conflict that otherwise might have dated the novella. Instead of a pervading sense of “the other” about to storm the gates, Holm delves into the psychology of the holed-up survivors and the hazards of societal breakdown….

… The right excerpt from Termush could easily have appeared in New Worlds, the seminal sixties magazine for the New Wave…

(10) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George takes us inside the Wish Pitch Meeting”.

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

Pixel Scroll 11/21/23 I Spent A Year Pixeled For Scroll Purposes

(1) WHO HISTORY REMEMBERED. “’Matt Smith and I twiddle knobs. I am 12 again!’ Stars share their best Doctor Who moments – part two” in the Guardian.

Daniel Nettheim (director of episodes featuring the Twelfth Doctor, 2015-17)

The Doctor’s anti-war speech, from 2015’s Zygon two-parter, was a cry from the heart for compassion amid a searing indictment of the futility of war. It has never felt more relevant than it does today. The 10-minute sequence was delivered with considerable emotional heft by Peter Capaldi. It still brings a tear to my eye. When Radio Times readers voted for that year’s greatest TV moment, that came second, beaten only by Poldark scything a field with his shirt off.

Barnaby Edwards (Dalek operator, 1993 onwards)

I first worked as a Dalek in 1993. Three decades later, I’m still working as a Dalek – promotion is slow on the planet Skaro! My favourite moment was on a night shoot in Penarth in March 2008 for The Stolen Earth. It was my task to stop a Nissan Figaro in the street and threaten its occupant with extermination. It was Sarah Jane Smith, played by Elisabeth Sladen, my childhood hero. Here she was, still defending the universe from the Daleks. That’s the magic of Doctor Who. Faces come and go, but the adventure goes on for ever….

(2) EVEN ODDS. [Item by Chris Barkley.] Who will win the 2023 Booker Prize? I looked through the descriptions of the nominated books and two (or three) of them might be genre or adjacent. But, THREE guys named Paul in the ballot? What are the odds of that happening?????

Literary Hub’s Emily Temple says “Here are the bookies’ odds for the 2023 Booker Prize”.

We’re just shy of one week out from the announcement of the UK’s biggest book prize: the Booker. So it’s time to place your bets on who will win the £50,000, a massive spike in book sales, and lifelong bragging rights. (A different question, no doubt, than who should win.) If you need a tip, follow the money, and ask the bookies (they were at least close last year).

For the record: all things being equal, there is a baseline 50% chance of the Booker going to somebody named Paul on Sunday, but given the below odds, in which each Paul is more probable than the next, that number rises to . . . something I cannot calculate because I am an editor at a literary website who put all of my eggs in one basket long ago. But, higher. I think…

(3) IN THIS WORLD, ELWOOD, YOU CAN BE OH SO SMART, OR OH SO UNPLEASANT. Camestros Felapton tries to decide “Does outrage marketing work?”.

…Authors now write in a more crowded market in which even moderately successful writers struggle to make a living. Standing out from the crowd is difficult and name recognition matters….

So some authors may see a possible way forward: pick controversial/trolling-like positions, promote those positions to provoke a backlash, get free publicity and hence (maybe) more sales.

That’s the theory. I think credibly it is a process that works for Larry Correia but I can’t claim that there is any way to check in terms of sales. Correia has the advantage that his controversial stances match the author persona he projects on social media and that persona also fits the style and genre of the books he writes AND those stances (particularly on guns) fit with the audience for his books. If I just consider notable Puppies, the approach has worked less well for Brad Torgersen and notably there are mismatches across the board for Brad, he’s just not as good at projecting a tough guy persona online, and his actual novels are less well-targeted to a specific demographic and there’s not a thematic connection between his culture war topics and his science fiction other than it being vaguely backwards looking….

(4) WHO OWNS CHAOS? Facebook sent a surprising notice about a group I follow now formerly named “Jerry Pournelle’s Chaos Manor”.

And I found this posted to the group:

(5) EX X-USER. Scott Edelman reveals in a public Patreon post “What Twitter (and the leaving of it) means to me”.

…But the first week of September, it all became too much for me, and I shared the status update you see above. In the 11 weeks since then, I’ve returned every 3-4 weeks only to remind visitors I wouldn’t be posting any more and giving links to my other social media presences, in part to prevent my account from going dormant, which might allow another to squat on my name.

What was the affect of this decision on Eating the Fantastic?

Downloads have dropped by a third.

I know correlation isn’t causation, yet I can’t help but believe the loss of serendipitous discovery which would occur on Twitter is the reason.

The subscriber base remains unchanged. I’ve shed none of those regular listeners. But most of my traffic has always come from non-subscribers, and that has dropped.

When I would tweet about an upcoming guest or a new episode or any podcast news at all to my nearly 5,500 followers on Twitter, that would be retweeted many times, and I’d see a corresponding jump in downloads. Part of that, I know, was due to the fact not all listeners were interested in every conversation. Some only wanted the science fiction guests but not the horror guests, or the comic book guests but not the science fiction ones, and so rather than subscribing, they’d wait to see who was appearing and make the decision to download then. And I believe that with no tweet reminding them to check out the content of the latest episode … they’re not.

Then there were the new listeners who, upon seeing one of their friends share about an episode new or old and learning about Eating the Fantastic, would swoop in and download every prior episode. That would happen frequently in the show’s pre-Twitter days, but since September 5th, I don’t believe it’s happened even once.

All of that discoverability is gone, like tears in rain, and seemingly not replaced by the attention I’m getting from my (currently) 788 followers on Bluesky or 561 followers on Mastodon….

(6) KEYS TO SUCCESS. “The True Story of ‘The World’s Greatest Typewriter Collection’” at Heritage Auctions’ Intelligent Collector blog.

Like so many collections, it began with a single purchase made on a whim – in this case, the typewriter used by a Pulitzer-winning sportswriter. The man who bought the machine, Steve Soboroff, was a fan of the man who used it, revered Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray, whose words Soboroff devoured each morning, especially after nights when Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax hurled fastballs using The Left Hand of God. Soboroff wanted the 1940 Remington Model J so desperately that he outdueled two others competing for it at auction in 2005: the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was a hell of a score.

Not long after, Soboroff put another typewriter on the shelf beside Murray’s – a 1926 Underwood Standard that belonged to Ernest Hemingway and was used during the author’s legendary sojourns to Cuba. More machines followed in short order, each a typewriter that once belonged to someone who had appeared on the cover of Time. Novelists and playwrights, among them Jack London, Tennessee Williams, George Bernard Shaw, Ray Bradbury, John Updike and Philip Roth. Actors, including Greta Garbo, Shirley Temple, Mae West, Julie Andrews and a typewriter collector named Tom Hanks. Musicians, from crooner Bing Crosby to tenor Andrea Bocelli. Visionaries. Journalists. The famous. The infamous. Playboy creator Hugh Hefner. Samuel T. Cohen, inventor of the neutron bomb. And Ted Kaczynski, the man called Unabomber….

(7) RECORD VIEWERSHIP. “When Hollywood Put World War III on Television” – a memory-stirring article, behind a paywall in The Atlantic.

We live in an anxious time. Some days, it can feel like the wheels are coming off and the planet is careening out of control. But at least it’s not 1983, the year that the Cold War seemed to be in its final trajectory toward disaster.

Forty years ago today, it was the morning after The Day After, the ABC TV movie about a nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union. Roughly 100 million people tuned in on Sunday night, November 20, 1983, and The Day After holds the record as the most-watched made-for-television movie in history.

I remember the movie, and the year, vividly. I was 22 and in graduate school at Columbia University, studying the Soviet Union. It’s hard to explain to people who worry about, say, climate change—a perfectly legitimate concern—what it was like to live with the fear not that many people could die over the course of 20 or 50 or 100 years but that the decision to end life on most of the planet in flames and agony could happen in less time than it would take you to finish reading this article….

(8) WINDOW CAT. Steve Green predicts that this shop in Berkeley, California has a decent stock of sf.

(9) 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. And he won two Mythopoetic Awards for doing so, and was nominated for a Balrog for publishing his father’s work. (Died 2020.)
  • Born November 21, 1941 Ellen Asher, 82. 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, an Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction, a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and she was Editor Guest of Honor at Renovation. 
  • Born November 21, 1945 Vincent Di Fate, 78. 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 with an example being this November 1969 cover. 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 MagiCon, 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, 77. 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, 73. 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; it is currently at Issue #2,302. 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, 70. 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 at her most excellent blog.

(10) COMIXOLOGY APP GOES AWAY 12/4. ZDNET’s Lance Whitney scorns the way “Amazon is killing off its Comixology app in true supervillain fashion”.

Like Thanos, Kang, and Dr. Doom, Amazon seems to be on a mission to destroy superheroes, at least when it comes to providing a user-friendly platform for buying and accessing digital comics. In a new message posted online and in the app, the retail giant announced that as of December 4, its Comixology app will no longer be available and will instead be merged with its Kindle app for iOS, Android, and Fire OS.

After the deadline, you’ll still be able to access and read your existing Comixology comics, graphic novels, and manga titles, but only in the Kindle app. And before the deadline hits, you’ll have to download any Comixology books you were reading into the Kindle app. You may also need to head to your Amazon Digital Content page and send individual comic books to your preferred ebook reader.

On the plus side, any books you’re reading in the Comixology app will sync their progress in the Kindle app, so you can continue where you left off. You’ll be able to read your Comixology books in the Comics section of the Kindle website. And you can continue to buy digital comics from the Comixology area on Amazon’s website.

(11) SORT OF LIKE A MEREDITH MOMENT. [Item by Daniel Dern.] There’s an available MAX (HBO) deal: $2.99/month (with ads) for six months (normally $9.99/month) — https://auth.max.com/product. (Offer ends Monday Nov 27)

(12) TWO SHORT CLIPS FROM DOOM PATROL. [Item by Daniel Dern.] DPers imagine themselves in TV trailers.

Cliff Steele (Robotman) imagines himself teaming up with Vic Stone (Cyborg) for Steele & Stone, a Seventies-style cop show.

Rita Farr (“Elasti-Girl” imagines herself teaming up with Cyborg: in Beekeeper & Borg, like Steed and Mrs. Peel. Watch the Beekeeper & Borg trailer on YouTube.

(And a Reddit user edited the second trailer to match timing with the source material! — “I edited ‘Beekeeper & Borg’ to match the ‘The Avengers’ intro”.

(13) STEAMPUNK ART. Atlas Obscura Experiences is offering a four-part lecture series “Exploring Steampunk Art With Bruce Rosenbaum” for $75 a ticket. The promo says “Bruce Rosenbaum has been dubbed the Steampunk Guru by the Wall Street Journal and Steampunk Evangelist by Wired Magazine.”

Syllabus at a Glance

This course includes four total sessions, each lasting two hours on four Mondays beginning November 27.

Session 1 (Monday, 11/27, 7:30–9:00 PM ET)| Intro to Steampunk: Defining steampunk and identifying its origins. 

Session 2 (Monday, 12/4, 7:30–9:00 PM ET)| Designing a Steampunk Life: Exploring the philosophy and concepts of steampunk art, from creative problem solving and collaboration to adaptive reuse.

Session 3 (Monday, 12/11, 7:30–9:00 PM ET)| Past/Future Art: Taking a closer look at the process of making different kinds of steampunk art and design.

Session 4 (Monday, 12/18, 7:30–9:00 PM ET)| The Business of Steampunk: Looking into how to transform your steampunk art practice into a business (with examples from Modvic)

(14) REVISITING THE BROTHERS HILDEBRANDT. In 1994, Marvel Comics’ greatest characters were brought to life by two of science fiction and fantasy’s most renowned illustrators in Greg and Tim Hildebrandt’s unforgettable Marvel Masterpieces III trading card set. To celebrate the 30th anniversary next year, Marvel Comics will proudly showcase the Brothers Hildebrandt’s gorgeous Marvel Masterpieces III artwork in a new collection of variant covers.

Also available as virgin variant covers, the new covers will begin in January and continue all year long. Fans have already seen previews of the January pieces and now can see what’s coming in February, including spotlights on Cable and Night Thrasher for their upcoming new solo series.

Across more than 150 beautifully painted illustrations, comic fans saw the Brothers Hildebrandt’s masterful approach to the Marvel Universe with these timeless depictions of heroes and villains that have stayed with in the hearts and minds of fans ever since. Now, be captivated once more when they adorn the covers of select Marvel titles next year! For more information, visit Marvel.com.

(15) BY GRABTHAR’S HAMMER, WHAT A SAVINGS. Heritage Auctions next Space Exploration Signature Auction on December 14-15 is offering a “Full-Scale McDonnell Aircraft Corporation Manufactured Friendship 7 Mercury Spacecraft Exhibition Model”. All you need is about $50,000 and a place to keep it around the house.

…Painted on the exterior are the Friendship 7 logo, “United States,” and an American flag very similar to what was painted on John Glenn’s capsule, the first mission on which an American orbited the Earth. A 27.5″‘ x 33″ removable hatch can be detached to allow closer inspection of the outstanding interior cabin assembled of a composite of wood and metal that features two fluorescent lights that beautifully illuminate the mannequin and instrument panel when plugged in via a standard plug at the bottom of the capsule. The attention to detail in the cabin is extraordinary. The instrument panel display is similar to the “B” configuration that was used on the Friendship 7 mission. The silver spacesuit has not been removed for inspection. However, the model was donated to the BSA in 1966; therefore, the suit is of the period….

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

Pixel Scroll 10/29/23 Swamp Thing! You Make My Scroll Sing

(1) LINDA ADDISON ON HALLOWEEN. The Horror Writers Association blog continues its October theme: “Halloween Haunts: All The Treats! by Linda D. Addison”.

Halloween has been one of my favorite holidays my whole life. As a child the idea of dressing up that one day and going house to house to collect candy was magical. Back then, no one worried about being poisoned or razors in fruit. I felt stronger and magical in costume then in regular clothes. The thin awkward kid who read books all the time and didn’t talk much could become a powerful witch, one of my favorite costumes, and no doubt the easiest for my mother to create, since there were nine of us….

(2)  CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]  So, when I emailed Mike yesterday’s update, I told him that that would be the last of the big daily updates, and anything in the future would just be ad hoc submissions.  Unfortunately the real-world had other ideas.

Con reports: Jiang Bo, SF Light Year and Nicholas Whyte

This pair of Chinese reports posted to Weibo are coming from different perspectives; one from a Hugo finalist in the Best Short Story, the other from a high profile fan.

Jiang Bo

This one is a bit awkward to report on, as whilst it was published on Weibo, the latter sections are only visible to logged in users, and creating a Weibo account – from the UK at least – is a Kafkaesque nightmare of “you need to verify via a code sent by SMS/sorry, we can’t send you an SMS, try again tomorrow/rinse and repeat”.  Fortunately a kind person on Twitter was able to provide me with the full text; I’ll see if there’s some way of getting the full text available more easily.

In terms of events at the con, he mostly writes about “businessy” and writerly stuff, which he seems to have enjoyed.  The selected extracts below are about more humdrum stuff, but which I think Filers would maybe relate to more.  In the interests of full transparency, it seems that these aspects were less enjoyable for him, and it would not be an unreasonable accusation to say I’m giving a negative spin on his overall experience.  

(Via Google Translate, with minor manual edits.)

It was only when I landed that I learned some big news: the hotel I was staying at, the Wyndham Hotel, was far away from the venue, and the organizer had arranged a shuttle bus to solve the transportation problem. As a rule of thumb, the hotel is usually next to the venue, and you can enter the venue just a short walk away. The shuttle bus takes about thirty minutes to get to the venue, and it leaves on time. This poses a challenge to the conference schedule, and is also the reason why I will be quite tired in the next few days – I have to catch the early morning bus to the conference venue every day…

The name of the venue is Nebula, and the largest hall inside is called Hugo. If you add some text to it, wouldn’t it mean that Nebula is greater than Hugo? I wonder if Americans will quarrel about this. However, a Chinese venue is too far away and the sound cannot be transmitted even if there is a noise…

There was an episode where I went back and forth for fifteen minutes just to find the Hall of Mars. This venue is very unique. The halls on the second floor are basically isolated from each other. They are small halls. You must find the correct elevator to go up. When you first arrive, it’s easy to get confused…

Speaking of eating, there are no restaurants around the huge Xingyun Hall. There is only one storefront on the first floor, which houses three or four fast food restaurants, including Subway, McDonald’s and Pizza Hut. If everyone wants to solve the problem of eating in the venue, they can only find these three or four restaurants. There are so many people there, it’s almost like a restaurant in Disneyland. It’s hard to find tables and chairs, so just find a place to eat…

“Hanging by a Thread” [aka “On the Razor’s Edge”] won the Galaxy Award for Best Short Story, which was a surprise. On returning to the hotel, I was interviewed by a Chengdu TV station for almost an hour, and it was almost midnight. Then I chatted with the producer Lao Wu about creative matters, and it was already 1 a.m. when we finished talking. It felt good to chat with Lao Wu and talk about pure creation. It’s just that the schedule of the World Science Fiction Convention is too tight. If we don’t seize this time, we may not have the chance to have a good chat…

In order to get to the venue before 10 a.m., I took the 9 a.m. bus. The opening hours of science fiction convention venues are actually 9:30, so there will generally be fewer people attending the 9:30 morning session. In fact, at 10 a.m., there were still very few people, especially on weekdays. So the audience at our panel seemed very minimal, especially since it was located in the road show area, a corner that is difficult for tourists to reach. We started with the same number of people on stage and off stage. Fortunately, as time went by, the number of listeners gradually increased, and finally it was like a decent press conference…

After the press conference, I started thinking about eating again. The afternoon activity was at the Sheraton Hotel. After looking at my guest card, I had a bold idea, why not try the Sheraton?

The Sheraton Hotel is right next to the venue and can be reached on foot in about fifteen minutes. The Sheraton housed VVIPs, who are some important international friends and more important domestic guests. Although you needed to show your room card to eat at the Sheraton, what if you only needed to show your card during the conference?

I contacted the contact person and they replied that I could only have lunch at the hotel where I am staying. But I still set foot on the road to the Sheraton Hotel with hope…

The smooth lines of the Nebula Pavilion are natural, and equally smooth are the queues waiting for autograph signings. That’s right, this afternoon happened to be Liu’s autograph signing. The signing line stretched from the third floor to the first floor, and then meandered along the lakeside. I was shocked when I saw such a long line, and quickly took out my mobile phone to take pictures… I was both admiring and envious at the same time: I wish I could have such a long signing queue one day!…

Something strange also happened at SF Night [a reception jointly organized by Science Fiction World and Saifan Space]. The security of this science fiction conference was extremely strict. Xia Jia and several other authors were stopped outside.  Even organizers like Sun Yueraz were stopped from entering again after leaving. I met Xia Jia when I went out after the event. He was sitting at a table outside the security gate, looking relaxed and comfortable, chatting with others. Some things are changing, and some things remain unchanged…

The signing event went much better than expected. For at least an hour, there was a steady stream of people coming to get my signature. This is the power of the World Science Fiction Convention. It gathered a large number of people and brought some traffic to us authors. One of the fans took out the journal where I first published my novel, the April 2003 issue of The End Game, which had a photo of me on it. Compared to that time, my hair volume is a bit anxious. After all, people only have so many good days, and youth never comes back once it’s gone…

[Extracts from the acceptance speech he prepared] Thank you to all readers who voted for me and for recognizing this work.

Thank you to all readers who voted for the Hugo Awards. Anyone who is willing to spend money to vote is true love. Your support is the driving force behind this award continuing to this day….

The last thing I want to thank is this great era. In the past few decades, China has developed from an agricultural country to an industrial country, and has continuously made progress in economy and science and technology. This great process must be reflected in the writer’s thinking. Without this era and the Chinese Space Station, stories like “Hanging by a Thread” would not have been possible.

As for me, I would like to quote Mr. Carl Sagan’s epitaph to illustrate, “He never grew up, but he never stopped growing.” I hope that I can continue to grow in science fiction. Share this with everyone.

Thank you everyone, thank you to everyone who loves Chinese science fiction.[end of his acceptance speech].

Finally, the lottery was drawn, and the pie did not fall on my head. When my boots hit the ground, I felt calm. This is probably the closest I’ve ever been to a Hugo Award. If I miss it, I won’t get it again. Life always has its ups and downs. But after all, I never had the chance to say this. Writing it down is also a kind of record and will not be forgotten.

After the awards ceremony, there was a reception on Hugo night. It was held on the large terrace of the Nebula Pavilion, and you needed a ticket to enter, have a drink and chat. Generally speaking, I still chat to people I know. The organizer also arranged some programs. Many foreign friends gathered to watch, but domestic people seemed not very interested.

I came out before the reception ended and happened to meet [SF World editor, Hugo Editor finalist, concom member] Yao Haijun. I took his car back to the hotel and enjoyed the VVIP red flag car treatment…

I felt very sleepy after the conference. For the two days after I came back, I felt like I couldn’t wake up every day. Maybe I had a dream. Dreams are easy to be forgotten, so I have to fix them with words. This is probably the only thing that short-lived humans can struggle with in the face of the infinite world. 

SF Light Year

SF Light Year (aka 科幻光年/Kehuan Guang Nian aka Adaoli) is an influential Chinese fan, with 370k followers on Weibo.  He has been mentioned in several earlier Chengdu updates, and has commented here a few times.  Disclosure: he was also my co-conspirator in a plan to exchange fanzines and signed books between the UK and China, in order to give them as surprise gifts to some Hugo finalists, a couple of whom went on to win in their categories.  I also get namechecked in the second of the three parts of this report posted to Weibo.  As such, I’m not an impartial reporter of his comments.  Note also that Mike and File 770 also gets briefly mentioned in the first part.

Part 1Part 2Part 3

Note: Because these three posts are so long, the “Translate content” links that appear at the bottom of posts timed out for me.  I ended up having to copypaste the text into Google Translate.  I did ask him if I could upload the translated text (e.g. to Pastebin or similar) for everyone’s convenience, but didn’t get a reply due to it being night in China when I asked that question.  

The following excerpts are via Google Translate, with minor manual edits.

(from first post)

Every time I attend various science fiction conferences and meet authors and fantasy fans, I am always happy and excited. What gives me good memories of the Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference is not the gorgeous venue but every sincere science fiction fan and person who laughed, cried, got angry, and was moved. I will remember every moment in my heart. But this long article is dedicated to recording my disappointment with the Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference, as a small supplement to a grand narrative, because it is important to us science fiction fans, to our science fiction community, and to our internal and external science fiction. Communication can have far-reaching consequences. I’d love to be that little kid who calls out that the Emperor has no clothes.

After the successful bid to host the Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference in 2021, the organizing committee promised that fantasy travelers will “enter as VIP guests, enjoy VIP treatment, and all tickets to the conference will be free of charge.” The actual situation of the conference is that these so-called VIP guests (who are also members of WSFS) are different from the guests separately invited by the organizing committee. They did not automatically receive the right to participate in the opening and closing ceremonies and the Hugo Award ceremony… Those who purchased event tickets (non-members) also needed to participate in the lottery for access to one of the three ceremonies. Some fellow WSFS members were not even able to get admission to any of the ceremonies…

On the other hand, public news shows that as early as April 2022, an internal meeting in Pidu District arranged the event planning plan for the 81st World Science Fiction Convention in that district. Real estate developers also used the venue of the Pidu District convention as a selling point to make plans for nearby properties. [Real estate developer] Vanke also once put up a big sign announcing the countdown to the World Science Fiction Conference at the sales office, but it was later removed at the request of the organizing committee. In the tug-of-war of the balance of forces among all parties, the interests of this group of college student application groups were the first to be sacrificed.

Because he had been tracking the venue confirmation and conference information posted on Weibo from very early on, which revealed the venue change to Pidu District before the official announcement, Yao Chi [from the con team, I think this is the same person as Joe Yao] once contacted me and asked me to remove the relevant article. My response was that if Pidu District took down their announcements, I would also take down my posts on Weibo…

(from second post)

… Wu Miao mentioned that his book signing was actually a mess: although the book sold well in the two days, part way through, the con removed copies of his book, and the readers who went in the afternoon were all empty-handed and could not buy the book.  I took four customers everywhere to look for books, but none of the exhibition staff had any explanation or follow-up. His autograph signing was arranged for the first two days (non-weekends) when there were few people. The on-site booth was borrowed from Booker Bookstore because the conditions of the venue were very poor… His publisher also stated that the conference did not consider the interests of exhibitors and “there will be no next time.” Similar lack of coordination occurred repeatedly. Several guests told me that they were suddenly informed that there was a signing, or that there was a time conflict between the signing and the panel schedule. The book sales were located on the first floor, but the book signings were on the third floor. It was very inconvenient for readers to buy books and sign books, and the process of selecting and finding books was very unfriendly.

On October 14, 2023 in our online science fiction group, a hearing-impaired person attending the conference, who has a disability certificate, told us about the accessibility request email she sent to the conference.  She had asked what kind of help will be provided to the hearing-disabled people if they need it, and what materials should be applied and prepared for in advance.  Her email was returned undelivered… We found that the contact address given on the official website was wrong.  However [after this was pointed out on Weibo and the address got promptly fixed] our disabled member sent another email to the correct address, but there was no reply or official contact instructions until the end of the conference.  For such an important communication channel, it seemed that the accessibility service department was just a fiction, which is disappointing especially when the organizing committee clearly knew from reading Weibo that someone had applied for accessibility services. Fortunately, she was always accompanied by enthusiastic fans during the conference.

The lack of communication was also reflected in the coordination of volunteers. The organizing committee announced the recruitment of volunteers through different processes more than once. I submitted forms and emails twice, stating that my specialty was Japanese and that I could be a volunteer, but there was no response to any emails from the beginning to the end. Many times in various groups, I encountered netizens complaining and asking me about the same situation. Later, I learned that the government had arranged a bidding process for volunteer service projects [1], and the volunteers and training procedures were determined through other methods. However, all offline applications were not responded to and followed up, which is indeed inappropriate…

Many Hugo Award finalists, including those from China, were told they would stay at the Sheraton [close to the venue], but were eventually downgraded to Wyndham [much further away]. In terms of differential treatment, I would like to mention that Ling Shizhen, who was also a Hugo Award finalist for the Zero Gravity fanzine, was not initially given permission to attend the opening and closing ceremonies or the Hugo Award Ceremony. (His badge only had the number 3/5, which was the minimum permission for all invited guests, only allowing entry to the Science Fiction Museum and the Sheraton hotel). He was very angry about this. After contacting the organizing committee, he had to travel back and forth between the con venue and the hotel to coordinate, until finally he was allowed to enter the ceremony hall, and eventually went on stage to receive the Hugo Award.

(from third post)

On the opening day of the conference on October 18, 2023, we passed by the venue and found that the newly established “food truck area” at the Nebula Campground (renovated from dozens of buses) at the Science Museum and Sheraton Road was blocked off. and not open to the public. The news circulating in our group was that “the food in the food trucks was not classy and would affect the image” and therefore it was cancelled….

Regarding the sudden need to control the number of attendees at the reception held at the Sheraton during the conference, which resulted in a large number of invited domestic and foreign guests being unable to enter, breaking up unhappy or even causing disputes, we will not discuss this for the time being….

Enthusiastic netizens have compiled a complete breakdown of the amount related to the venue construction, tens of millions related to conference preparation and venue.  For example, the winning bid amount for the Hugo Trophy, just for the design was as high as 570 thousand yuan [approximately $80,000 USD]…

Basically, this World Science Fiction Convention was held in a situation that was both open and closed, rich and barren. If you were interviewing foreign guests, especially several World Science Fiction Convention officials or important guests – the venue has a distinction between VVIP and VIP arrangements for volunteers – there were elaborate arrangements for the support of various celebrities, free travel, meals and accommodation for two people, and special personnel to coordinate and arrange access, and enjoy exquisite meals. [Regular] Guests who have participated in dozens of conferences never enjoyed such support, even though participating in the Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference would be their highlight moment. According to Nnedi Okorafor herself, “I was treated like a queen.”… 

On the other hand, I came into contact with front-line staff from the exhibition organizers who were exhausted due to internal friction in coordination and communication, relevant leaders who frankly said they no longer wanted to bid for the World Science Fiction Convention, guests who canceled their panels because they were angry that the promised venue control would not cooperate, as well as guests who continued to attend the convention…

 In every sense of the word, this is an unforgettable World Science Fiction Convention. This was the first time it was held in China. I don’t know if there will be a second time.

[1] This might explain a Xiaohongshu post I saw yesterday, which was a group selfie of some volunteers, who were all employees of (IIRC) a construction company.  At the time I just assumed it was a group of colleagues who’d decided to do a good deed, but now I wonder if there was more to it.

Nicholas Whyte

His post about the Doctor Who panel was covered in Friday’s Scroll, but he has also posted about a visit to a panda research centrethe panels he was on, and the events he attended  and his various experiences.

Still waiting on the Hugo Statistics report

A week ago today, there was an indication that the statistics might be published on the Friday just gone.  That hasn’t happened, and as far as I know, there has been no further status update.

I think lots of us are very interested in finding out where certain books that seemed like dead certs – or as close as you can get to it in the Hugos – ended up in the nominations.

(3) CHEERS FOR FEARS.  “Shock of the new: Jordan Peele, Mariana Enríquez and more on the horror fiction renaissance” in the Guardian.

…Now horror is emphatically back, and it is no longer a dirty word. Publishing imprints such as Titan and Nightfire are devoted almost entirely to the genre, small presses are helping to introduce new names, and a thriving online community of readers, writers, critics and commentators champion literature’s most sinister impulses.

Such insatiable appetite is forcing change. From the Argentinian new wave to British neo-folk, from the Asian-inflected horror of authors such as Chinese-Canadian writer Ai Jiang to the African heritage of British-Nigerian Nuzo Onoh, writers across the world are pushing outwards, creating space for new perspectives. Horror is rapidly evolving from what was once a white, male and highly Anglocentric genre into something more diverse and much more reactive.

A new US book is testament to this progress. Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horroris edited by film director Jordan Peele, who made Us and the electrifying Oscar-winner Get Out. Peele writes in his introduction: “I view horror as catharsis through entertainment. It’s a way to work through your deepest pain and fear.” But, he suggests, that isn’t possible for Black people “without the stories being told in the first place”.

For Peele, this collection, compiled with co-editor John Joseph Adams, was a chance to commission “the very best Black authors in fiction,” he tells me over email. “I hoped that, when prompted to create a personalised nightmare, their ‘monsters’ might be representative of some previously unnamed truths. What you get are stories that feel like they couldn’t or wouldn’t have been told a few years ago.”

NK Jemisin’s contribution examines police brutality through surrealistic body horror, while Tananarive Due imagines a moment from the civil rights movement that reads like an unearthed piece of folk history. But it’s interesting how many of the tales in Out There Screamingeschew overtly racialised horror – in particular, the tight focus on trauma that has long been a thorny issue in the Black horror community….

(4) WHY JEMINSIN CONTRIBUTED. “For N.K. Jemisin, Reality Inspired Horror Fiction” – the New York Times has the details.  

Nineteen writers contributed to the story collection, including N.K. JemisinLesley Nneka ArimahTochi Onyebuchi and Tananarive Due. Initially Jemisin declined to participate, although she was pleased to be approached. “I like writing stories, but I’m very slow to write them and I don’t do well with commissions,” Jemisin said in a phone interview. “I don’t have any interest in writing to order, basically. I said, if something inspires me, sure, I’m on it, but otherwise don’t count on anything.”

Jemisin had a change of heart on a vacation in the Outer Banks: “Next door to us was a family of cops, apparently, who hung a thin blue line flag and partied all weekend and made a great deal of noise, knowing full well nobody was going to call the cops on them.”

She went on, “Nothing overt happened. We were fine. But we were on this trip with some teenagers and we told them, ‘Do not go out by yourselves because this doesn’t feel like a safe place to be a bunch of young Black folks.’”

Instead of going to the beach, Jemisin started writing “Reckless Eyeballing,” the story that now opens “Out There Screaming.” It’s about Carl Billings, a Black highway patrol officer with a habit of “roughing up” people he pulls over — a broken arm here, a baton to the teeth there. His white supervisor is on to him, and then a video of one of his traffic stops goes viral. But worst of all is Carl’s unsettling vision of oncoming headlights as eyeballs, blinking and veined, watching. He can’t get away from them…

(5) HARVEY Q&A. “Samantha Harvey: ‘I like Alien as much as anybody else. But I see this novel as space pastoral’” in the Guardian.

…How come you initially lost your nerve?
We’re in an age of first-person veracity. By some bizarre spasm of fate, I’m doing a radio interview next month alongside Tim Peake. I’m filled with anxiety: why would anyone care what some woman in Wiltshire has to say about what it might be like to be in space, when she’s sitting alongside Tim Peake? Maybe the answer is that there’s somewhere the imagination can go that experience can’t. Nasa’s website has hundreds of fascinating but quite humdrum journals that astronauts have written while in space. I was thinking, there’s a gap here – a sort of metaphysical gap, a magical experience that isn’t being documented the way I’d like to document it.

Did you want to write against more plot-driven space narratives?
I like Alien as much as anybody else. I never saw this novel as being against sci-fi, but I didn’t see it as having an awful lot in relation to it either. I thought of it as space pastoral – a kind of nature writing about the beauty of space, with a slightly nostalgic sense of what’s disappearing. Not just on Earth, but also the ISS itself, this really quite retro piece of kit which is going to be deorbited after 23 years of rattling around at 17,500 miles an hour….

(6) LOWER DECKS. “Mike McMahan Talks ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Season 4” with Animation World Network’s Dan Sarto.

…DS: Right. Let’s talk a little bit about the Strange New Worlds crossover episode. You teased it when we spoke last August. It was a fantastic episode.

MM: Thank you.

DS: The animation held its own against a well-designed visual effects-driven show. It did both worlds proud. It fit. It wasn’t too gaggy, but it was funny. I was really impressed because I had no idea what to expect. And of course, Commander Riker [Jonathan Frakes] directed it. So, tell me about your involvement. And how tough was it to pull that off?

MM: Strange New Worlds allowed me to get to somewhere where it was a little funnier than they’re used to and a little more strange new worlds than I’m used to. I was a tool that they were using. So, they used me on multiple script passes in the edit, helping conceive of the episode and all that stuff, but I can’t take any credit for that. It really was an amazing thing that they wanted to do because it was so different. And they’re only in their second season. I don’t think I would’ve had the balls to do that on a second-season show. But what it really came down to is we all had a blast, and that really comes through when you watch the episode.

And I could have made that a feature-length episode and added way more Orion pirates and all sorts of stuff. But at the end of the day, what it really highlighted was character, and I think that was really smart, that Tawny and Jack are fucking amazing. But you know who else is? Everybody on Strange New Worlds. So, getting to see them all mixed together the whole episode, it’s just such a party. It’s just such a Star Trek party that, if you’re watching this era, that is a crazy encapsulation of what makes you feel good. It’s like what you like about Trek….

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 29, 1906 Fredric Brown. Author of Martians, Go Home which would be made into a movie of the same name. He received compensation and credit from NBC as their Trek episode “Arena” had more than a passing similarity to his novelette which was nominated for Retro Hugo at CoNZealand. Interestingly, a whole lot of his Edgar Award-winning mysteries are being released on the usual suspects in December. (Died 1972.)
  • Born October 29, 1935 Shelia Finch, 88. She is best remembered for her stories about the Guild of Xenolinguists which aptly enough are collected in The Guild of Xenolinguists story collection. She first used it her 1986 Triad novel. The term would later be used to describe the character Uhura in the rebooted Trek film. Her Reading the Bones novel, part of the Guild of Xenolinguists series would win a Nebula. 
  • Born October 29, 1938 Ralph Bakshi, 85. Started as low-level worker at Terrytoons, studio of characters such as Heckle and Jeckle and Mighty Mouse which I adore. His first major break would be on CBS as creative director of Mighty Mouse and the Mighty Heroes. Fast forwarding to Fritz the Cat which may or may not be genre but it’s got a foul-mouthed talking cat when should make it genre, yes? Genre wise, I’d say Wizards which features voice work by Mark Hamill and whose final name was Wizards so it wouldn’t be confused with you know what film. It was nominated for a Hugo at IguanaCon II when Star Wars won. Next up was The Lord of the Rings, a very odd affair. That was followed by Fire and Ice, a collaboration with Frank Frazetta. Then came what I considered his finest work, the Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures series!  Then there’s Cool World
  •  Born October 29, 1941 Hal W. Hall, 82. Bibliographer responsible for the Science Fiction Book Review Index (1970 – 1985) and the Science Fiction Research Index (1981 – 1922). He also did a number of reviews including three of H. Beam Piper’s Fuzzy books showing he had excellent taste in fiction.
  •  Born October 29, 1954 Paul Di Filippo, 69. Ciphers: a post-Shannon rock-n-roll mystery was his first work. He is, I’d say, an acquired taste. I like him. I’d suggest first reading you don’t know him should be The Steampunk Trilogy and go from there.  His “A Year in the Linear City” novella was nominated at Torcon 3 for Best Novella, and won the 2003 World Fantasy Award and the 2003 Theodore Sturgeon Award. Oh, and he’s one of our stellar reviewers having reviewed at one time or another for Asimov’s Science FictionThe Magazine of Fantasy and Science FictionScience Fiction EyeThe New York Review of Science FictionInterzoneNova Express and Science Fiction Weekly
  •  Born October 29, 1954 Kathleen O’Neal Gear, 69. Archaeologist and writer. I highly recommend the three Anasazi Mysteries that she co-wrote with W. Michael Gear. She’s a historian of note so she’s done a lot of interesting work in that area such as Viking Warrior Women: Did ‘Shieldmaidens’ like Lagertha Really Exist?  And should you decide you want to keep buffalo, she’s the expert on doing so. Really. Truly, she is.
  • Born October 29, 1971 Anna Dale, 52. Scottish writer whom many reviewers have dubbed “the next JK Rowling” who’s best known for her Whispering to Witches children’s novel. It was based on her masters dissertation in children’s writing. She has written two more novels of a similar ilk, Spellbound and Magical Mischief

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Flying McCoys explains why a Charles Schulz tradition came to an end.
  • Tom Gauld shares the cauldron ingredient list.

(9) REFLECTS A CHANGING MARKET. LAist brings the bad news that “Two Of LA’s Oldest Comic Stores Are Closing Down”.

Not even a superhero could save two of Los Angeles’s oldest comic book stores.

Torrance’s Geoffrey’s Comics and Hi De-Ho Comics in Santa Monica are closing at the end of the year.

Owner Geoffrey Patterson II said that ever since the pandemic, many comic book fans moved from purchasing their comics in person to online. For his stores, that meant losing half of his customer base and more than half of the profits.

But the pandemic was just the last straw.

“It’s also just as it has become mainstream, that other places are now selling comic books that weren’t selling them before,” he said, citing big retailers like Target. “It went from being only in comic book stores to everywhere. So the customers now have 100 choices for where they pick up a comic book story, and that just kept shrinking and shrinking our customer base.”…

(10) DOING HARD TIME. He’s rocky, just not the one that first comes to mind.Animation World Network reviews “‘Curses!’ Blends Horror, Comedy, and Action with a Dad Turned to Stone”

Premiering today, Friday, October 27, Curses!, from DreamWorks Animation, hits Apple TV+ just in time for Halloween. In the all-new animated, spooky adventure-comedy series for kids, when a generations-long family curse turns Alex Vanderhouven to stone, it’s up to his two children, Pandora and Russ, and his wife Sky, to return artifacts stolen by their ancestors to their rightful homes to finally lift the curse for good….

Curses! began as a collaboration between creators Jim Cooper and Jeff Dixon. The two had never written together before; they met when their children started school together, and after dropping them off, they’d walk home and discuss their writing careers. “Jeff was mostly in horror, and I was mostly in family animation,” Cooper shares. “Sometime over the years, we thought, ‘Hey, it would be cool to combine the two.’ We hit upon the idea of Curses! after discussing what we call my ‘family curse.’ That got us thinking about other family curses and their causes, and things just sort of went from there.”

“It started with Coop telling me the story of his ‘family curse,’ Dixon adds. “He told me that all the men on one side of his family died young, generation after generation. After he showed me a photo of his grandfather as a baby holding an actual human skull, we started thinking, ‘Holy hell, that skull must somehow be the origin of the curse!’ Then our imaginations started spinning out of control thinking about curses and what happens to later generations when a family line is cursed because of something their ancestors did, to no fault of their own. And it only grew from there.”…

(11) JUST DUCKY. Heritage Auctions’ November 16 – 19 Comics & Comic Art Signature® Auction has rafts of collectible art.  This piece is particularly interesting – and is already bid up to $26,000.

 Carl Barks Luck of the North Donald Duck Painting Original Art (1973). Though this rollicking scene is based on one of the “Good Duck Artist’s” most famous yarns, this is the only painted version of it that he ever did. Carl Barks based this colorful calamity on his 1949 Donald Duck adventure from Four Color #256. This mirthful masterwork was published on Page 169 (as color plate 49) of The Fine Art of Walt Disney’s Donald Duck, where Barks noted: “In that northern lights effect at the top, I found pictures of the northern lights in some National Geographics and I kind of stole some. I find water very difficult to paint. It’s hard work, but I worked at this until I got it to look halfway authentic. I generally just plunged right in on an idea whether I was going to have trouble or not. I’d start out with a simple idea, and keep on elaborating on it until I had a real complex thing going.”

(12) VAMPIRE HUNTER D. The Animation Explorations Podcast has dropped the first episode of their second year. For the spooky season they take a look at the 1985 adaptation of Hideyuki Kikuchi’s first novel in “Vampire Hunter D (1985)” series. 

(13) THE LIGHTS IN THE SKY.  “‘Call me chief priestess for the moon goddess’: space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock” tells the Guardian.

Call me chief priestess for the moon goddess,” says Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock when I ask whether she prefers to be known as an astronomer, physicist or space scientist. She is, after all, entitled to all of them because before presenting The Sky at Night on the BBC she trained as a physicist, then an engineer and is now the nation’s go-to woman for all things space. But it seems that she really has her eye on the job of a 4,300-year-old Sumerian religious leader.

“I was giving a talk in the Scottish parliament,” she explains when we meet at a photographer’s studio hidden in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it alleyway in east London, “and I mentioned En Hedu’anna, the first female scientist who was known as chief priestess for the moon goddess of the city of Ur [in ancient Mesopotamia].” After the talk, the chair suggested they vote to bestow on Aderin-Pocock the title of chief priestess for the moon goddess of the city of Edinburgh. “That’s what I would like on my business card,” she says with a delighted clap of the hands and the kind of irresistible enthusiasm that viewers of The Sky at Night will be familiar with.

Forgotten or uncredited scientists, such as En Hedu’anna, feature prominently in Aderin-Pocock’s new book, The Art of Stargazing, a practical guide to identifying and understanding the 88 constellations…

…[Why] is outdated ancient science from long-dead civilisations still important? “When I grew up, there were many kids who looked at science and thought: ‘Well, someone like me doesn’t do that because it’s not my culture, it’s not for me – I don’t have a history of this.’ Diversity is about bringing different ideas and people into science because if it’s all just done by the European white guys, we get a very blinkered view of the world. That’s why access to the history of astronomy is important for everyone.’…

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

Pixel Scroll 10/19/23 A La Recherche Du Pixels Perdu

(1) INTERZONE NEWS. Gareth Jelley, Editor & Publisher of Interzone and IZ Digital announced today that “Interzone’s hiatus, thankfully, was very temporary.” He told File 770, “Although it is sad to lose the print edition, moving forward on a regular schedule is crucial; and I have plans for annual Interzone print anthologies, in the future, once the zine is back on track.”

Interzone 296 will be published in November. The table of contents is posted at the Interzone Patreon.

Ebook subscriptions starting from IZ 295 (the current issue) are available directly from https://interzone.press.

Jelley says, “If readers have already purchased a print issue of Interzone #295, I’ll automatically extend their e-sub by one issue.”

If people prefer to pay monthly, there is now a Patreon.

(2) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

15-minute video showing a walk around the con

Although it’s only in Chinese, the first half of this Bilibili video gives the best impression yet of what it’s like to walk around the con.  There’s a section in the middle of vox pop interviews with what I assume are a random selection of attendees, and it ends with a more leisurely wander around the central area of the museum.

The video was posted today (Thursday 19th); I assume it was filmed on the opening day of the con.  It was posted by an account called 中国科幻博物馆 / China Science Fiction Museum, so I assume it’s an official production by the con venue.

Another walkaround video

This sub-3-minute Chinese language Bilibili video is (I think) by some vloggers.  From around 01:15 through to 02:15 there are short interviews with some of the people running the fan tables; I think they are in turn the SF clubs of Sichuan University, Electronic Science & Technology University and Southwest Jiaotong University, which Google tells me are all located in Chengdu.

I think there’s a split second glimpse of Nicholas Whyte around 01:14, although the image fades to black as he comes into view, so I’m not completely certain.

Handy guide to starting inter-fandom wars in Chinese

New Star Press posted these images to Weibo.

I’m not sure where those cards might be available; I dunno if they’re fan-made, or perhaps could be picked up from their publisher booth?

Hugo X interview with Chinese Hugo finalists

This 38-minute video on Bilibili is likely to have minimal international appeal given the lack of English subtitles, but Hugo finalists Hai Ya and Jiang Bo are two of four SF writers in a group interview.

Some brief English language clips

There’s nothing actually related to SF or the con in this short interview with Chris M. Barkley that was posted to Twitter; I don’t know if it’s an extract from a longer video.

Bilibili has extracts from an interview and a panel with German writer Brandon Q. Morris.

Chinese SF In Memoriam video

SF World magazine posted this video to their Weibo account today. The In Memoriam video was shown at the Galaxy Awards Ceremony, as shown in this video of the event, with audience reaction. It commemorates some of the writers, translators and fans from the history of Chinese SF who are no longer with us.

Kind words for File 770

File 770 got namechecked by Adaoli/SF Light Year in a second Weibo post, this seems to be a transcript of an interview he gave at the con; it sounds like there might be a video version of this interview at some point? — https://weibo.com/2417401527/NoCYEyAY8

The relevant text from near the end, via Alibaba Cloud Translate:

There is a very famous American science fiction platform (File770). Its manager is over 70 years old this year. We can’t make phone calls, we can only communicate by email. He has insisted on publishing this science fiction information for decades. From this perspective, in fact, in addition to the publicity of regular publishing companies, there are many wild science fiction fans, They can also have a lot of contribution and strength. He is also my idol, and I also hope that I can persist in doing some sci-fi releases, which will be more helpful for everyone to learn more about domestic and foreign sci-fi information.

Errata

Someone spotted one of the items that were in the Oct 13th Scroll, which had a couple of translation errors, at least one of which I should have spotted.  There are four screengrabs from that Scroll, of which three are screengrabs from other Chinese social media posts. — https://weibo.com/1720576035/NnEe2c4Vb

Twitter / X and Facebook accounts that are actively posting from the con

I don’t really “do” Facebook, so that list is highly likely to be incomplete.  All are English-language unless otherwise stated, and in no particular order.

Twitter / X:

Facebook:

(3) GLAD TO HEAR IT. Ukranian fan Boris Sydiuk told Facebook readers the news that Sergey Lukyanenko didn’t appear at the Chengdu Worldcon.

…This is good news to us in Ukraine and to all global Fandom. It means Fandom united together can do important things to protect truth and humanity. We hope all fans can enjoy their convention, though I am sorry that Chengdu Worldcon could not bring themselves to dis-invite an appalling person who condones atrocities, ethnic cleansing, and hails killing people who don’t want to speak Russian. It is a shame he will forever be listed as a Worldcon GoH, but let it be known that somehow he was not there, that fans did not have to withstand his rhetoric, listen to his lies and he failed to attend….

(4) KENTUCKY COUNTY REMOVES MORE THAN100 BOOKS FROM SCHOOL LIBRARY. [Item by Joel Zakem.] The Boyle County, Kentucky, schools are removing more than 100 books from various school libraries, citing a recently passed anti LGBTQ+ law. Several of the titles are definitely genre, including four of Herbert and Anderson’s “Dune House Atreides” books and two of Tue Southerland’s “Wings of Fire” books. There may be a few others that I did not recognize. The book list is here.

The article from Louisville Public Radio: “Kentucky school district bans more than 100 books, citing anti-LGBTQ+ law”,

A children’s picture book about a boy who likes to dress up in his mom’s clothes.

A series about a teen who rides dragons in a dystopian universe.

A graphic novel based on the diary of Anne Frank.

These are among the more than 100 books banned from libraries in Boyle County Schools….

The article from the local Boyle County newspaper: “Boyle schools removing library books in response to SB 150” in the Advocate-Messenger.

…Some books that have been removed include “Gender in the 21st Century” by M.M. Eboch, “Only Mostly Devastated” by Sophie Gonzales, “Julian is a Mermaid” by Jessica Love and “The League of Super Feminists” by Mirion Malle.  Superintendent Mark Wade said in an interview with the Advocate-Messenger that the district removed books based on language in SB 150. Since the Kentucky Department of Education did not provide specific guidance on some language, the law was left open to the interpretation of each local BOE.  Part of the law about respecting parental rights states that “Children in grade five and below do not receive any instruction through curriculum or programs on human sexuality or sexually transmitted diseases; or any child, regardless of grade level, enrolled in the district does not receive any instruction or presentation that has a goal or purpose of students studying or exploring gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.”…

(5) 2024 CREATIVE WRITING AWARDS COMPETITION FOR HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS. Penguin Random House, and We Need Diverse Books (WNDB), have opened submissions for the 2024 Creative Writing Awards. This is the first year the awards include the Freedom of Expression Award; in the face of book bans and attacks on free expression on the rise in America, Penguin Random House and We Need Diverse Books celebrate the power of books and stories. Applicants to the new award will be asked to answer the prompt, “Tell us about one banned book that changed your life and why.” 

The 2024 competition launches on October 16, 2023, and closes on January 16, 2024—or when 1,000 applications have been submitted. Current high school seniors who attend public schools in the United States, including the District of Columbia and all U.S. territories, and are planning to attend college in fall 2024, are eligible and encouraged to apply.

Six first-place $10,000 prizes will be awarded in the categories of: the Michelle Obama Award for Memoir, the Amanda Gorman Award for Poetry; the Maya Angelou Award for spoken-word; fiction/drama; and the new Freedom of Expression Award.  In recognition of the Creative Writing Awards previously being centered in New York City, the competition will award an additional first-place prize to the top entrant from the NYC area. Runners up will also be honored…. 

Complete guidelines here.

(6) TODAY’S DAY.

October 19, 1953 Fahrenheit 451 published.

[Item by John King Tarpinian. First published in 2013.] On this day in history one of the most read science fiction novels was published. One of the few, if not only, novels of sci-fi on the majority of middle and high school reading lists.

Fahrenheit 451 is one of three books that as a young man made me think about stuff outside of my comfortable life. The other two were Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun and Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. The three making up a trio of books that woke up my little brain.

Fahrenheit 451 was made into a movie by the French director, François Truffaut. It was his first movie in color and his only English-language film. Remember the French guy in Close Encounters of the Third Kind?  That was Truffaut.

Flatscreen TVs were in this book. Bluetooth was in this book. Most people know that Ray never drove a car, remember that in the book Clarisse was killed by a speeding car. Montag was a brand of paper; Faber was a brand of pencil. Beatty was named for the lion tamer, Clyde Beatty.

Bradbury’s book rails against censorship, in any form.

Lastly, Ray’s headstone reads “Author of Fahrenheit 451.”

(Use this link to see a parade of Fahrenheit 451 book covers from over the years.)

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 19, 1921 George Nader. In 1953, he was Roy, the leading man in Robot Monster (a.k.a. Monster from Mars and Monsters from the Moon) acknowledged by him and others to be the one of the worst SF films ever made. He showed up in some decidedly low budget other SF films such as The Human DuplicatorsBeyond Atlantis and The Great Space Adventure. Note: contrary to popular belief, Robot Monster is not in the public domain which is why I’m not linking, nor should you. This movie is under active copyright held by Wade Williams Distribution. (Died 2002.)
  • Born October 19, 1940 Michael Gambon. Actor of Stage and Screen from Ireland who is best known to genre fans as Professor Albus Dumbledore from the Hugo-nominated Harry Potter films (a role he picked up after the passing of Richard Harris, who played the character in the first two films). He also had roles in Toys (for which he received a Saturn nomination), Mary ReillySleepy Hollow, and the Hugo finalist Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. He has had guest roles in episodes of The Jim Henson HourDoctor Who, and Tales of the Unexpected, and played an acerbic storyteller and possible tomb robber in Jim Henson’s The Storyteller. He has also done voice roles in animated features including Fantastic Mr. FoxPaddington, and The Wind in the Willows, in which he voiced very nicely The Badger. (Died 2023.)
  • Born October 19, 1943 Peter Weston. He made innumerable contributions in fan writing and editing, conrunning, and in local clubs. He was nominated for a number of Hugo awards but never won, including a nomination for his autobiography Stars in My Eyes: My Adventures in British Fandom. For many years the Hugo rockets were cast by the car-parts factory which Weston owned and managed until he retired. (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 19, 1943 L.E. Modesitt, Jr., 80. Writer of more than 70 novels and 10 different series, the best known of which is his fantasy series The Saga of Recluce. He has been Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, including a World Fantasy Convention. He won a Neffy for his Endgames novel, and an Utah Speculative Fiction Award for his Archform: Beauty novel. 
  • Born October 19, 1945 John Lithgow, 78. He enters SF fame as Dr. Emilio Lizardo / Lord John Whorfin in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. He’ll later be in Santa Claus: The MovieHarry and the HendersonsShrekRise of the Planet of the ApesInterstellar and the remake of Pet Sematary. (One of those films that really, really shouldn’t have been made.) Oh, and he voiced The White Rabbit on the Once Upon a Time in Wonderland series! He of course is Dick Solomon in 3rd Rock from the Sun.  And for true genre creds, he voiced the character of Yoda in the NPR adaptations of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
  • Born October 19, 1946 Philip Pullman, 77. I’ll confess that I like his Sally Lockhart mysteries, both the original versions and the Billy Piper-led series, far more than I enjoy the Dark Materials series as there’s a freshness and imagination at work there I don’t see in the latter. Oh, some of the latter is quite good — I quite enjoyed Lyra’s Oxford and Once Upon a Time in The North as the shortness of them works in their favor.
  • Born October 19, 1948 Jerry Kaufman, 75. Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Fan who, while in Australia as the DUFF delegate, created a Seattle bid for the Australian Natcon which actually won the bid (temporarily, for a year, before it was overturned and officially awarded to Adelaide). He was editor of, and contributor to, numerous apazines and fanzines, two of which received Hugo nominations. With Donald Keller, he founded and ran Serconia Press, which published criticism and memoirs of the SF field. He served on the Board of Directors of the Clarion West Writers Workshop and served as Jurist for the James Tiptree, Jr., Memorial Award. He has been Fan Guest of Honor at several conventions, including a Westercon. (JJ) 
  • Born October 19, 1990 Ciana Renee, 33. Her most known genre role is as Kendra Saunders / Hawkgirl on Legends of Tomorrow and related Arrowverse series. She also showed up on The Big Bang Theory as Sunny Morrow in “The Conjugal Configuration”, and she played The Witch in the theatrical production of Daniel Wallace’s Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions.  She was also Elsa in the theatrical production of Frozen.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Half Full asks the same question some of you have asked.
  • Drabble’s picks for the scariest movies might not be on your list.

(9) STRINGS ATTACHED. [Item by Steve Green.] Talking Pictures TV is a family-run British cable channel specializing in old movies and television shows. To tie in with broadcasts of the 1960s series Thunderbirds, the channel’s online “watch again” service TPTV Encore has posted an interview with puppeteers John and Wanda Brown.

Related interviewees at the site include art director Bob Bell, script editor Alan Pattillo and actor David Graham (the voice of Parker).

(10) TALKED TO DEATH. Slashfilm heard from the actor that “Robert Redford’s Twilight Zone Episode Holds A Certified And Significant Record”.

The third-season episode of “The Twilight Zone” called “Nothing in the Dark,” which first aired on January 5, 1962, is about an elderly woman living unhappily alone in a grim-looking, brick-walled basement apartment in an empty building. Wanda (Gladys Cooper) has, in recent years, become a recluse, fearing that a sojourn to the outside world will bring her face-to-face with death. By her description, however, this is literal. She once saw a man touch a woman with his finger, killing her instantly, leading her to know with utter certainty that Death is a person. Death, she also knows, can also look like anyone. So she surmises it might be best to stay away from people altogether. 

When a handsome young Robert Redford knocks on her door, however, her idyll is smashed. Redford plays a young cop named Harold who was shot in the line of duty and needs immediate medical care. Wanda refuses to let him in, knowing that he may be Death and that Death is sneaky. She eventually lets him in, he touches her, and she doesn’t die, so she is convinced all is well. Wanda and Harold discuss her views on death, her life of fear, and her philosophy that living cloistered is better than dying in the open air. But then, as we are living in the Twilight Zone, perhaps Harold may be Death after all. 

“Nothing in the Dark” was written by George Clayton Johnson (who wrote the novel “Logan’s Run, seven additional “Twilight Zone” episodes, and many other notable sci-fi stories), and the author created a wonderful miniature two-handed, one-act morality play where discussion takes precedence over action. It’s a sweet little character piece with fantastical underpinnings….

(11) RED LEADER GOES FOR OVER $3M. This X-wing fighter went walkabout. UPI found out where it’s been.

A formerly long-lost X-wing fighter model used on screen in the original 1977 Star Wars film was auctioned for a Force-disturbing sum of over $3.13 million.

Bidding on the 1:24 scale model opened at $400,000 and closed Sunday with a bid of more than $3.13 million.

Heritage Auctions said the model was long known as “the missing X-wing” until it was found in the collection of Greg Jein, who died last year after a career in miniature making that saw him earn awards nominations for his work on projects including Star Trek and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The miniature was one of four “hero” models created for filming close-ups in key moments during the famous third act battle in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and features red stripes on its top two wings, identifying it as the Rebel Alliance squadron’s “Red Leader.”…

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Kathy Sullivan.] University finals have gotten creative.  (Yes, yes, Encanto was on and I went looking for the Pluto parody and found this one as well): “We Don’t Talk About Pluto (My University Astronomy Final)”.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Kathy Sullivan, Gareth Jelley, Steve Green, Joel Zakem, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Ersatz Culture for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cliff.]

Pixel Scroll 10/11/23 We’re All The Children Of Pixels, Ancient Pixels Who Gave Birth To All Intelligence

(1) THE ROCKETS’ GREEN LIGHT. Early this morning in Los Angeles the last of two Space Shuttle Rocket Launch Motors made their way through Exposition Park to the California Science Center. Each is 116 feet long and around 12 feet in diameter.  

They are part of the “Go for Stack” project to move and lift space shuttle components for the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center. What is Go for Stack?

“Go for Stack” is the complex process of moving and lifting each of the space shuttle components into place for Endeavour’s upcoming, awe-inspiring 20-story vertical display in the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, which is currently under construction. This technically challenging feat has never been done outside of a NASA facility. 

(2) ROBIN REID GUESTS ON TOLKIEN PODCAST. Episode 16 of Queer Lodgings: A Tolkien Podcast is a “Queer Anthology Interview with Robin Reid, Chris Vaccaro, Steven Yandell”.

We have a special treat for you this month – Leah, Alicia, and Grace welcome not one… not two… but three guests! They are the editors of the forthcoming edited anthology ‘”There Are Many Paths to Tread”: Queer Approaches to Tolkien’s Middle-earth’ from McFarland (due to release in 2025), and each is a well-known Tolkien scholar in their own right – Robin Reid, Chris Vaccaro, and Steve Yandell. Join us as we discuss the landscape of Queer and Intersectional Tolkien studies, why they’re important, and what these important and fresh outlooks can contribute to Tolkien scholarship.

(3) MALINDA LO ON BOOK SUPPRESSION. “My Books Have Been Banned or Challenged in 16 States” says Malinda Lo, and in this thoroughly-researched post the author explores many ways that has been done.

In the last two years, my books have been banned, challenged, or restricted in 44 cases in 40 communities across 16 states. Last Night at the Telegraph Club receives the most attention, but Ash, Huntress, A Line in the Dark and A Scatter of Light have also been targeted by book banners. The book bans have increased over time, and in the last couple of months I’ve learned about a new one almost every week…

In the spreadsheet, I’ve recorded 44 cases in which my books were targeted by right-wing activists. Those cases include: 

  1. Book bans, in which books are removed from school libraries and/or classrooms (either during an investigation of the challenge or completely);
  2. book challenges, in which a community member makes a complaint about a book to a school district or library (this may not lead to an outright ban);
  3. restrictions, in which a book is placed in a restricted section of the library or requires parental permission for access; and 
  4. instances in which a book published as young adult was moved to the adult section of a library. 

I have chosen to count more than straightforward book bans, and I include the challenges I have found even if the book is not ultimately banned, because I’m interested in tracking all the ways my books are targeted. This is a personal analysis of how book banning has affected my work, not a broader analysis of book bans in America….

Here’s an example of Lo’s detailed analysis:

…. When asked if they had read the entire book, the challenger wrote, “I read a summary and it told me everything I need to know.” What concerns them? “This book promoting a sexual agenda to young people.”

Since they didn’t read the book, you may be wondering where they found these summaries or sections that they object to. While I don’t know where these specific two challengers found their summaries, I suspect they may have used conservative book banning Facebook groups or websites like Book Looks (created by Florida-based Moms for Liberty) or Rated Books (affiliated with the Utah-based Laverna in the Library). I think that whoever made the entries about Telegraph Club for these websites has in fact read the book, or at least they have combed through it line by line hunting for excerpts that they believe prove their allegations of a book’s offensive nature….

(4) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [By Ersatz Culture.]

New Worldcon logo

2023 Chengdu has changed its logo just before the con.  

Chinese-language article about the WSFS Business Meeting

The con posted an article to weixin.qq.com entitled (via Google Translate) “Everyone, please check the introduction of the 2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference Business Meeting!”.  Most File 770 readers are likely to be already familiar with material about the WSFS Business Meeting – the article even has a section summarizing Robert’s Rules of Order – but there are a couple of interesting bits near the bottom of the page, as follows…

Who’s sponsoring the WorldCon?  Some answers

The October 9th Scroll pointed out that the list of Chengdu Worldcon sponsors in the Business Meeting Agenda did not match announcements at a June Brand Conference.  At the bottom of the page, there is what I believe is the first official confirmation of any sponsors on any of the Worldcon’s platforms.  There are four levels or types of sponsor, the information I’ve been able to glean so far is:

“2023 Chengdu Worldcon Starseeker”

  • China Telecom (the only sponsor confirmed at the aforementioned Brand Conference)
  • ICBC – Industrial and Commercial Bank of China

“2023 Chengdu Worldcon Stargazer”

  • Das Security – cybersecurity firm, apparently also known as DBAppSecurity, according to this article which states they were also a sponsor of the recent Asian Games alongside China Telecom and ICBC.
  • Starry Dome – I assume that this is the same company as 上海瀚海星穹网络科技 / Shanghai Hanhai Xingqiong Network Technology, but I’m still a bit unclear what exactly they do; websites that provide company data mention both technology and marketing.  This listing states (via Google Translate) that “Shanghai Hanhai Xingqiong Network Co., Ltd. was established in 2023. It is a technology company dedicated to brand management, game distribution, omni-channel operation and entertainment innovation. At the beginning of its establishment, the company determined that the derivative incubation of the “Wandering Earth” IP would be its main business direction, and it has actively explored and developed in this field.”

“2023 Chengdu Worldcon Specially Supporting Brands”

“2023 Chengdu Worldcon IP Cooperative Partner”

  • Three-Body Universe is a name I’ve seen a few times, but I never looked into.  Per a recent Reddit thread“Three Body Universe is the Chinese company behind most Three Body Problem IP like the Zhang Beihai season of the Three Body Minecraft animation, the TBP animation, the radio drama, etc…”

Note that the above list(s) include neither of the organizations named as sponsors in the Business Meeting Agenda document.

(5) ON WORLDCON WEEKEND PUTIN WILL BE IN CHINA, BUT NOT CHENGDU. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Reuters News reports “China to host Belt and Road forum in Beijing Oct 17-18” on the same weekend as the Worldcon – and guess who will be there.

China will host its third Belt and Road Forum next week, its foreign ministry said on Wednesday, a President Xi Jinping signature event that President Vladimir Putin is due to attend on a rare trip abroad….

Putin attended the two previous forums, in 2017 and 2019, and the Kremlin said in September he had accepted an invitation to the forum and for talks with Xi.

The Russian leader is not known to have gone abroad since the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for him in March over the deportation of children from Ukraine….

Overlaps Worldcon in time, but not in space by a few provinces and about 1800 km by road. It might inform someone’s decisions on when and where to sightsee.

(6) TOLKIEN SOCIETY SEMINAR. The Tolkien Society Online Seminar 2023 will be happening November 26, 2023 with the theme “Tolkien and Religion in the Twenty-First Century.” Complete information at the link, including a schedule of paper presentations.

… Although J.R.R. Tolkien deliberately excluded explicit religious references from his legendarium and rejected narrow allegorical readings of The Lord of the Rings, he made no secret of his devout Roman Catholicism and its importance to his sub-creative endeavor. From the creation myth of the “Ainulindalë” to the eucatastrophic destruction of the One Ring, Túrin Turambar’s doomed warrior courage to Frodo Baggins’s self-sacrificial humility, scholars have long examined the influence of Tolkien’s Christian faith and his abiding admiration for pre-Christian legends on the nature and history of Arda. Explorations of the legendarium from other religious perspectives or explicitly nonreligious perspectives have received less attention, however, as have studies of the reception of Tolkien’s work among (non)religious readers and communities….

(7) MYTHOPOEIC ONLINE EVENT. “Something Mighty Queer” is the theme of the Mythopoeic Society’s Online Midwinter Seminar 2024, to be held next year on February 17-18. The call for papers is at the link. The deadline to submit is November 30.

We invite submissions for an online conference that focuses on queerness in fantasy, science fiction, speculative fiction or other mythopoeic work. This can be queer representation within the work or engaging with mythopoeia through queer theory. “Queerness” is an intentionally ambiguous term, demonstrating the diversity of queer experiences, and the necessity of situating queerness as a liminal, complex paradigm. Queer theory is wider than the study of gender identity or sexuality, extending to taking positions against normativity and dominant modes of thought, and engaging with the indefinite….

(8) FIVE-YEAR MISSIONARY. In an NPR interview “Patrick Stewart says his time on ‘Star Trek’ felt like a ministry”.

Martin: I talk to a lot of people about spirituality and about the value of spiritual communities, which I think are when people who have similar values gather together and have or seek transcendent experiences. And I think Star Trek, in all of its incarnations, represents that to a lot of fans. It is a spiritual world. They treat it with religious reverence. Have you encountered that? Do you get it?

Stewart: Yes. I see it very, very clearly and very strongly. It was about truth and fairness and honesty and respect for others, no matter who they were or what strange alien creature they looked like. That was immaterial. They were alive. And if they needed help, Jean Luc Picard and his crew, his team, were there to give it.

In a sense, we were ministers. And I have heard now so many times from individuals who have been honest enough and brave enough to tell me aspects of their life, of their health, of their mental health. And how it was all saved and improved by watching every week….

(9) SIGNATURE MYSTERY. [Item by Danny Sichel.] From the collection of the late Sylvain St-Pierre, Montreal fan, comes this autograph page from the souvenir program book for Nolacon II (Worldcon 1988). The top autograph is obviously from George Alec Effinger, but does anyone have any idea who the bottom one is from?

(10) MEMORY LANE.

2004 [Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Charles de Lint’s Medicine Road which is where our Beginning is from has an interesting backstory, or at least the lead characters do. Now mind you, we won’t be meeting either of them in the Beginning. Well sort of we won’t. 

There’s a minor spoiler here. Very minor. 

 There’s a number of stories that he did that are set within a place, a very rural Appalachian setting, roughly now though the year is never known to the reader. A children book, A Circle of Cats which Lis will be reviewing is where these stories began followed  by The Cats of Tanglewood Forest which she has already reviewed here.  

There’s a single story in this set of stories “Somewhere in My Mind There Is a Painting Box”.  And now we get to the YA Seven Wild Sisters where Laurel and Bess, musical twins, younger here than they will be in the adult Medicine Road where they are a folk singing duo, will get involved in the fey world of the region. Both of these will also be reviewed by her. 

And here’s our Beginning…

CHANGING DOG AND CORN HAIR

One night, not so long ago, Changing Dog and Corn Hair met up in Sedona, Arizona, to have a talk about an old bargain they’d made with Coyote Woman. It’s funny, thinking of the two of them together like that; I can imagine them doing pretty much anything except getting along. Most times they’ll argue the colour of the moon, or the taste of water, if they can’t find something better to disagree on. There’s nothing much they ever seem to settle on, except that the other’s wrong.

But this night Corn Hair wasn’t aiming for an argument. She had herself a camp there by Oak Creek, on the south bank where the water runs below Cathedral Rock. It wasn’t much, just her bedroll laid out in the sand under the sycamores, with her pack doubling as a pillow. Close by, she’d built a small fire on which she was boiling water in a tin coffee pot, the bottom blackened from all its years of use. She ground some coffee beans using a flat rock and another the size of her fist for a mortar and pestle, scooping them into the now-boiling water when they were ground to her satisfaction. By the time Changing Dog came ambling down from the red rock scars skirting the solitary butte that towered above the creek, the coffee was thick and black, ready to drink.

Changing Dog nodded hello and sat cross-legged near the fire. He was a rangy, copper-skinned man with a narrow face and long, chestnut hair that streaked to a dark tan at his temples and was kept tied back with a thin strip of leather. You hardly ever saw him dressing up. That night he was wearing a white T-shirt and jeans, dusty tooled-leather cowboy boots and an old brown leather jacket going thin at the elbows. He wasn’t a homely man and he wasn’t particularly handsome, but he had these eyes that would grab anybody’s attention, especially a woman’s. They were a vivid cornflower blue that looked violet in the right light, and there was always a promise in them–not that he’d necessarily deliver, but that whatever might come, it would at least be interesting.

He accepted the tin coffee mug that Corn Hair handed him and took an appreciative sip. Setting the mug in the sand, he pulled a tobacco pouch from his pocket and rolled them each a cigarette, lighting them with a twig from the fire. He left one hanging from his lips, offering the other to Corn Hair.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 11, 1949 Sharman DiVono, 74. She was the primary writer of the Star Trek comic strip from a year in the early Eighties.  She’s written a number of other strips such as Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm, The Man from Planet X and Tarzan. She has written for three animated series — G.I. JoeBill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures and Star Wars: Droids. She’s written one genre novel, Blood Moon
  • Born October 11, 1960 Nicola Bryant, 63. Well known for her role as Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown, a companion to both the Fifth and Sixth Doctors. She also worked in “The Two Doctors” story so she appeared with the Second Doctor as well. Of course she’s done Big Finish Doctor Who audio dramas. Like so many, many genre performers, she shows up in the video Trek fan fiction playing Lana in Star Trek Continues.
  • Born October 11, 1964 Michael J. Nelson, 59. Best known for his work on Mystery Science Theater. He was the head writer of the series for most of the show’s original eleven-year run, and spent half of that time as the on-air host. Bad genre films were a favorite target of him and his companions. Not that they don’t deserve it. 
  • Born October 11, 1965 Sean Patrick Flanery, 58. I really do think that his best work was on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and the films that followed. It certainly wasn’t as Bobby Dagen in Saw: The Final Chapter, a film best forgotten. (It gets a forty-one percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes, much better than I expected.) He appeared as Jake Greyman in Demon Hunter, another low budget horror film, and as John in The Evil Within. I see a pattern…
  • Born October 11, 1972 Nir Yaniv, 51. Author, editor, musician, and filmmaker.  He founded a webzine for the Israeli Society for Science Fiction & Fantasy.  Currently, he’s the chief editor of Chalomot Be’aspamia, Israel’s only professionally printed genre magazine. His short fiction has appeared in Weird TalesApex Magazine and The Best of World SF. He co-wrote The Tel Aviv Dossier with Lavie Tidhar. 
  • Born October 11, 1972 Claudia Black, 51. Best known for being Aeryn Sun in Farscape, arguably the best SF video series ever done, Vala Mal Doran in Stargate SG-1 and Sharon “Shazza” Montgomery in Pitch Black. She also had a recurring role as Dahlia in The Originals and starred as Dr. Sabine Lommers in The CW’s Containment series.
  • Born October 11, 1976 Emily Deschanel, 47. Temperance “Bones” Brennan in Bones which crossed over with Sleepy Hollow twice (she visited the latter once) and she had a bit part on Spider-Man 2. More notably she was Pam Asbury in Stephen King’s Rose Red series. Actually the forensic science on Bones is genre, isn’t it? 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) PRODIGY COMES IN FOR SAFE LANDING. So says The Hollywood Reporter: “’Star Trek: Prodigy’ Moves to Netflix After Paramount+ Cancellation”.

Star Trek: Prodigy, the animated kids show that was canceled at Paramount+ with its second season still midway through production, has found a new home.

Netflix has scooped up both the previously aired first season and has committed to airing the sophomore run once that completes production. Season one will stream later this year, with the second batch due in 2024.

The Paramount Global-backed Paramount+ axed Prodigy in June when it became the latest streamer to take advantage of tax write-offs. 

Prodigy, though, was a particular surprise given the series is produced in-house by CBS Studios, where Star Trek captain Alex Kurtzman is based with a nine-figure overall deal…. 

(14) DISNEY SOLVES FOR X. At CBR.com,“Disney Celebrates the X-Men and Avengers’ 60th Anniversary With What If…? Variant Covers”.

Classic Disney characters will grace the covers of Marvel’s comics in 2024 to celebrate the Avengers and X-Men‘s 60th anniversary.

The Disney What If…? variant cover series will be a monthly program adorning select issues of Amazing Spider-Man. There are twelve covers, and they will be released monthly throughout 2024. They will feature Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and other classic Disney characters in milestone moments from Avengers and X-Men history. Marvel revealed the first three covers, one recreating Avengers #1 with Peg Leg Pete as Loki, another with Mickey and friends as the original X-Men, and the third showing the iconic Disney characters assembling as the Avengers, even giving Goofy Captain America‘s shield and Pluto Thor’s hammer.

(15) 2 ARMS, 2 ARMS! The Heritage Auctions Blog promises “This Piece Will Hook You – T-1000 Arms from Terminator 2”.

When it comes to explosive sequels, few in the industry can make a more bombastic blockbusting entry into a franchise like James Cameron. Having taken audiences on a pulse pounding tour de force with his follow up to the critically acclaimed Alien and made a splash with the cutting-edge special effects technologies which brought to life his memorable creations in The Abyss, one would think that Cameron would be hard pressed to continue his upward trajectory as the king of Blockbusters. Then, on July 3rd, 1991, it happened. Like a nuclear blast from his harrowing future vision of a robotic apocalypse, he unleashed yet another pioneering action film with Terminator 2 . A sequel that not only raised the stakes presented in the original film but proved to be an even bigger critical success. Among the memorable characters and sequences, a particular liquid metal menace played by a then unknown actor, Robert Patrick, captivated audiences and the vast pop-culture consciousness, the T-100.

Flash forward 32 years, and I find myself typing this entry while sitting in a large warehouse. Don’t worry. It might be a little imposing, but a fallout shelter it is not. The world hasn’t been taken over by artificial intelligence (yet), and as a cataloger working on Heritage Auctions’ various upcoming auctions, I continually find myself in a movie memorabilia mecha. And though I’ve held pieces from iconic films spanning the history of Hollywood, very few pieces have made my heart race the way these prop T-1000 hooked arms have….

(16) COULD THIS KSR SCENARIO REALLY WORK? [Item by John A Arkansawyer.] A speculative article from the BBC on climate change uses Kim Stanley Robinson’s Ministry for the Future as a hook. Beware spoilers. “To avert climate disaster, what if one rogue nation dimmed the Sun?” at BBC Future.

…In Robinson’s imagined scenario, India’s rogue deployment of solar geo-engineering turns out to be broadly benign, and buys time to scale-up emissions reductions. But in the real-world, the idea that such a deus ex machina technology could ever be safely deployed remains highly speculative, with many risks and unknowns.

So if one rogue nation did decide to dim the Sun for real, what environmental and geopolitical consequences might unfurl? And is the safe deployment of such a technology even a conceivable goal? …

(17) PLAYING CHICKEN IN SPACE – AND LOSING. [Item by Steven French.] When worlds collide! (It’s kinda pretty…) “Afterglow of cataclysmic collision between two planets seen for first time” reports the Guardian. Photos at the link.

… After a detailed analysis of the observations, the astronomers concluded that the blast of infrared radiation came from a hot new object or “synestia” created by the collision of two planets nearly as large as Neptune. Based on the infrared readings, the vast spinning object had a temperature of more than 700C for about three years. It will eventually cool and form a new planet around the star.

According to details published in Nature, the star began to dim about 2.5 years after the afterglow began as a massive cloud of fine impact debris drifted across the face of the star.

“It’s the first time we’ve seen the afterglow from such an event,” said Simon Lock, another co-lead author at the University of Bristol. “We’ve seen debris and discs before, but we have never seen the afterglow of the planetary body that’s produced.”…

(18) BARBIE HALLOWEEN. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Part of an Utah neighborhood is transforming itself into Barbieland for Halloween. Each homeowner has picked a different theme related to the Barbie movie, Halloween+Barbie, etc. There’s the Barbie Dream House, a Barbie graveyard, Disco Barbie, and many more. Most of the houses are using pink floodlights, making the effect much more vivid at night. “Utah residents transform neighborhood into Barbieland for Halloween” at USA Today.

And the pink passion this season isn’t only in Utah. For instance, an Atlanta-area homeowner has decorated her front yard as the Barbie Scream House.

If you know of more examples of this trend, feel free to add links in the comments.

[Thanks to Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Steven French, Daniel Dern, Bonnie McDaniel, John A Arkansawyer, Lise Andreasen, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 10/9/23 Scrolls Are Truth At 24 Pixels A Second

(1) WORLD FANTASY CON UPDATE. The World Fantasy Convention is in Kansas City, MO from October 26-29 at the Sheraton Crown Center. They are getting very close to the event. 

The deadline for online registration and tickets for the awards banquet is October 12. People can still pay for memberships on the day, but it will be more expensive. More details on their website.

They have also posted the Tentative Schedule (subject to change).

(2) WIKI HELP WANTED. Scott Edelman quite reasonably thinks the Wikipedia page for prolific sff creator Robert Reed (author) should have a photo of Reed, and not him. It once did. Can any editor fix it?

After I accepted a Hugo Award for Robert Reed at the Yokohama Worldcon, someone swiped in my photo on his wikipedia page. It was corrected after I made a public complaint, but checking his page on his birthday today, I see — I’m back! And blurry, too! Could one of your readers who has editing privileges toss in an actual picture of Bob?

And would you know — today is Robert Reed’s birthday. See the listing below.

(3) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

Ben Yalow arrives in China

The Worldcon co-chair’s arrival in China received coverage from Red Star News.  Via Google Translate (with minor manual edits):

At 14:37 noon, Ben Yalow’s plane flew from Hong Kong, China to Chengdu Tianfu International Airport. He specially wore a panda badge from this World Science Fiction Convention on his front. He also received a special gift just after getting off the plane — the mascot “Kemeng” of the 2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Convention. Ben Yalow couldn’t put it down: “It’s so cute, I love it!”

This is Ben Yalow’s third visit to Chengdu. He said: “When I came to Chengdu before, the plane landed at Chengdu Shuangliu Airport, and this time it landed at Tianfu International Airport. The airport is bigger and the facilities are more beautiful. What has[n’t?] changed is that everyone is still so enthusiastic, and so many friends came to pick me up.”

Red Star News also posted a short video to the Bilibili video site.

Test run of the Worldcon-branded train this Friday

Further to the item yesterday, there will be a test run event of the Worldcon branded train this coming Friday (13th) morning.  Applications to be part of the event have to be in by the end of Wednesday the 11th; SF fans, traditional dress wearers and cosplayers are specifically named as being welcome to apply, so I imagine there’ll be plenty of photos taken and published.

Who’s sponsoring the Chengdu Worldcon?

Section B.10 of the recently released Business Meeting Agenda has a short “Sponsorship List” section near the bottom of page 31, listing two sponsors:

  • Chengdu Technology Innovation New City Investment and Development Co., Ltd
  • Chengdu Media Group

This seems inconsistent with reporting on the June 12th Brand Conference, which stated that there would be eight sponsors, although only one was named at that event.  Selected paragraphs via Google Translate:

On June 12, the 2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Convention global brand launch conference was held in Chengdu, and invitations were issued to brand partners around the world.

The “2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference Market Development Cooperation Plan” was released on site, and a signing ceremony of intent with the first sponsor company, China Telecom, and the first batch of eight franchise companies was held….

…During the event, Liang Xiaolan, full-time chairman of the 2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference and vice president of the Chengdu Science Fiction Association, and Cheng Hong, deputy secretary of the party committee and deputy general manager of China Telecom Chengdu Branch, signed the first sponsoring enterprise intention contract. Sun, vice chairman of the 2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Conference Yue signed intention cooperation agreements with representatives of the first eight franchise companies….

…According to the relevant person in charge of the 2023 Chengdu World Science Fiction Convention, the World Science Fiction Convention will hold seven high-profile main activities. By fully participating in the activities, companies can fully display their brands at the main venue of the conference and other online and offline official scenes, and use their products. Interact with fans around the world and bring massive exposure to corporate brands through the media communication matrix….

To the best of my knowledge, these sponsorships have never been acknowledged in any of the media released on the Chengdu Worldcon’s various channels (website, social media accounts, etc), in either English or Chinese.  I’m unaware of any of the other sponsors being named since that original announcement in June.  On the positive side, I don’t recall seeing any sponsor logos being displayed on any of the photos I’ve seen of the convention venue or surrounding area, or in any of the magazines that have run features on the con, so maybe some of the things mentioned in that news report never came to pass?

(I’ve attached what I think are the 5 most pertinent images from the linked sina.cn news story.) 

More Xiaohongshu photo posts

A gallery of several photos ; A transit stop ; A bus stop (second photo)

There have been a handful of posts with photos of signage, transit stops, billboards, etc related to the Worldcon.  Part of the text of of the first of the above links says (via Google Translate):

More than 800 sets of science fiction conference road flags are hung on 15 main and secondary roads in the city. With the theme of “Meeting the Future in Chengdu”, 21 themed landscape sketches are set up around the science fiction museum, on the connection and support lines and at major nodes in the city, and use back streets and alleys. The courtyard walls, bus stops and other carriers integrate sci-fi elements such as Nebula and the mascot “Ke Meng” with the characteristics of Pidu City. 

(3) GRRM’S ANSWER. A bit of Chinese advertising researched by Ersatz Culture led me to check with George R.R. Martin whether planned to go to the Worldcon. GRRM replies that he’s neither going nor participating virtually. 

“I am not involved in this year’s Worldcon.  Either in person or via zoom. Have way too much to do here at home.”

(4) COLLECTING PODCAST. Heritage Auctions sponsors The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of, a collecting podcast hosted by showrunners and “writer-collectors” David Mandel (Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Veep) and Ryan Condal (House of the Dragon).

Every week, David and Ryan explore the far reaches of the thrilling world of collecting TV and movie memorabilia. They have dedicated much of the current season to covering the once-in-a-lifetime event that is the Greg Jein Collection. They provide everything from a three-part, deep-dive into the auction catalog, going literally page by page through Greg’s incredible collection to an entire episode to finding out who Greg Jein was as a human.

Here are links to episodes of the podcast:

There are also several YouTube videos:

(5) THEY’RE NOT ALL STINKERS. “Every Isaac Asimov Movie & TV Adaptation Ranked (Including Foundation)” at ScreenRant.

…Apple TV+’s Foundation has been a recent success for Asimov adaptations, as TV networks have been working to bring fantasy/sci-fi novels to the screen. The success of Game of Thrones changed the television landscape, and every network has wanted to bring sprawling book universes to life, paving the way for Foundation. The Foundation series, with Robots and Empire books included, is Asimov’s most expansive work. If it can be adapted, anything else is possible too. Attempts have been made at bringing the author’s novels and novellas into feature films, though so far few have been successful or faithful adaptations….

There are seven items on their list – this is the first one they didn’t hate.

5. The End Of Eternity (1987)

The End of Eternity is a 1987 adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s novel of the same name. The sci-fi film has elements of mystery and thriller and actually proves to be a well-made and faithful adaptation of the time travel novel. The film, which was released episodically for television, may have some pretty niche appeal for fans of the novel. For readers who love the story, the film is definitely worth a watch.

(6) FRIENDS, ROMULANS, COUNTRYMEN. The Commandant of Starfleet Academy announces “Due to Falling Enrollments, We Will No Longer Offer Courses in Romulan at Starfleet Academy” at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

… But despite living in a post-scarcity utopia, in which all of our material needs are satisfied by replicators and the infinite energy supplied by dilithium reactors, recent increases in the price of antimatter, declining domestic enrollments, and intensifying competition for intergalactic students mean that we are facing some tough economic headwinds.…

(7) ANTHONY HICKOX (1959-2023). [Item by Steve Green.] British screenwriter, actor, director Anthony Hickox died October 9, 2023, aged 64. Most of his movies were within the horror genre — Waxwork (1988), Waxwork II: Lost in Time (1992), Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat (1989), Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992), Full EclipseWarlock: The Armageddon (both 1993) — but he also adapted the comic strip Prince Valiant for the big screen in 1997. Son of director Douglas Hickox (Theatre of Blood, 1973).

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 9, 1900 Harry Bates. Writer, Editor, and Member of First Fandom. Editor from 1930 to 1933 of the new pulp magazines Astounding Stories of Super-Science (which later became Astounding Stories, then Analog) and Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror. His Retro Hugo finalist novelette “Farewell to the Master” was the source of the classic science fiction film The Day the Earth Stood Still. He wrote a number of other stories under his own name and under various pseudonyms. In 1976 he was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1981.)
  • Born October 9, 1948 Ciaran Carson. Northern Ireland-born poet and novelist who is here, genre wise at least, for his translation of the early Irish epic Táin Bó Cúailnge, which he called simply The Táin. I’m also going to single him out for penning the finest book ever written on Irish traditional music,  Last Night’s Fun: About Time, Food and Music. It’s every bit as interesting as Iain Banks’ Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram is. (Died 2019.)
  • Born October 9, 1949 Jim Starlin, 74. Comics artist and illustrator. If you’ve seen Guardians of the Galaxy, you’ve seen the characters Thanos and Drax the Destroyer which he created. He would also work for DC and other companies over the years. Starlin and Bernie Wrightson produced Heroes for Hope, a 1985 one-shot designed to raise money for African famine relief and recovery. Genre writers such as  Stephen King, George R. R. Martin, Harlan Ellison, and Edward Bryant would contribute to this undertaking. He’s written a number of genre novels co-written with his wife Daina Graziunas. 
  • Born October 9, 1964 Jacqueline Carey, 59. Author of the long-running mildly BDSM-centered Kushiel’s Legacy Universe which also includes the Moirin Trilogy. (Multiple Green Man reviewers used this phraseology in their approving reviews.) Locus in their December 2002 issue did an interview with her called “Jacqueline Carey: Existential BDSM”.  She did several stand-alone novels including the intriguingly entitled Miranda and Caliban.
  • Born October 9, 1961 Matt Wagner, 62. The Grendel Tales and Batman / Grendel are very good as is Grendel vs. The Shadow stories he did a few years back. His run on Madame Xanadu was amazing too. Oh, and I’d suggest both issues of House of Mystery Halloween Annual that he did for some appropriate Halloween reading. And let’s not forget his long run on the Sandman Mystery Theatre
  • Born October 9, 1965 Robert Reed, 68. Extremely prolific short story writer with at least two hundred tales so far. And a number of novels as well such as the superb Marrow series. He won a Hugo at Nippon 2007 for his “A Billion Eves” novella. And he was nominated for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer as well.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Argyle Sweater has a monstrous religious experience.
  • Thatababy shows how an ordinary phrase sounds ominous when it’s also a movie reference.

(10) READY TO BE STRANGER AGAIN. “A Georgia Town Where ‘Stranger Things’ Is Shot Yearns for Production to Return” — the New York Times pays a visit.

Liz Bowman, who was a special effects artist for “Stranger Things” before the strikes began, has since been giving tours of locations from the show in Jackson. Ga.Kendrick Brinson for The New York Times

Before a hole could pierce open a parallel dimension, unleashing murderous creatures like a Demogorgon into the placid existence of Hawkins, Ind., there needed to be another invasion.

Hawkins, the fictional home of “Stranger Things,” had to take over the small town in Georgia where the hit Netflix show has been set since it debuted in 2016.

The old county courthouse in the center of Jackson, Ga., was turned into the Hawkins Library. An empty storefront became Melvald’s General Store. On the other side of the town square, a marquee was added to the front of a restaurant, transforming it into Hawkins’s movie theater.

But lately, Jackson has just been Jackson. “Stranger Things” retreated, along with most of the other movies and television shows filmed in Georgia, as the writers’ strike that began in May and the actors’ strike that followed in July reached far beyond Hollywood. The writers reached a tentative deal with studios in late September, and a ratification vote is underway. But actors are still negotiating with entertainment companies, keeping most TV and film production shut down….

(11) KEEP DRINKING TIL YOU SEE NESSIE. Are you in the market for a “Scotch Ness Critter (Chilling Stone)”?

Looming far into the Scottish Highlands, the Scotch Ness Critter roams around its habitat in secrecy. Its long neck and strong nose are drawn to only the finest scents: toasted oak, dried fruits, or even a wisp of peat. No matter how shallow or deep the glass, you might be the lucky one to keep it sticking around…are you ready?

(12) THE SHADOW KNOWS…DO YOU? One of these three contestants on a 1974 episode of To Tell The Truth is the real Walter Gibson, creatof of The Shadow: “To Tell The Truth (June 6, 1974)”.

(13) FANTASTIC VOYAGERS. “The Future of Medicine: Artificial Life Forms” at SciTechDaily.

Creating artificial life is a recurring theme in both science and popular literature, where it conjures images of creeping slime creatures with malevolent intentions or super-cute designer pets. At the same time, the question arises: What role should artificial life play in our environment here on Earth, where all life forms are created by nature and have their own place and purpose?

Associate professor Chenguang Lou from the Department of Physics, Chemistry, and Pharmacy, University of Southern Denmark, together with Professor Hanbin Mao from Kent State University, is the parent of a special artificial hybrid molecule that could lead to the creation of artificial life forms.

They have now published a review in the journal Cell Reports Physical Science on the state of research in the field behind their creation. The field is called “hybrid peptide-DNA nanostructures,” and it is an emerging field, less than ten years old.

Potential Applications of Artificial Life

Lou’s vision is to create viral vaccines (modified and weakened versions of a virus) and artificial life forms that can be used for diagnosing and treating diseases.

“In nature, most organisms have natural enemies, but some do not. For example, some disease-causing viruses have no natural enemy. It would be a logical step to create an artificial life form that could become an enemy to them,” he says….

(14) POINT NEMO. BBC Future takes you to “The Soviet spacecraft cemetery in the Pacific”.

…The area is not routinely used for any other human activity, such as shipping or fishing – in fact, the nearest humans are often a very different kind of explorer: astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS), who are just 415km (258 miles) away when they pass overhead. This is known as the Oceanic Pole of Inaccessibility, otherwise known as Point Nemo.

To find Point Nemo on a globe, you can simply look for the vast swathe of unbroken blue between New Zealand and southern Chile – it’s roughly halfway. For a more exact location, triangulate between an uninhabited atoll, Ducie Island – part of the Pitcairn Islands – in the north, Antarctica’s Maher Island in the south, the Chatham Islands in the west and Chile in the east. This is a place of superlatives: the most lonely, isolated and lifeless part of the ocean … even the seafloor is some 13,000ft (2.5 miles) from the surface.

But there is another link between the icy, empty waters of this desolate place and the void of space besides the ISS: it’s famous as the centre of a spacecraft cemetery – an expansive, scattered rubbish dump for obsolete items in Earth’s orbit.   

Between 1971 and 2018, global space powers, including the United States, Russia, Japan and Europe,  crashed more than 263 space objects in the uninhabited region of the ocean around Point Nemo. The list includes the Soviet-era Mir space station and six craft from the country’s Salyut programme, as well as 140 Russian resupply vehicles, six cargo transfer vehicles launched by Japan, and five from the European Space Agency (Esa). More recently, this oceanic dump is thought to have received part of a SpaceX capsule rocket. And coincidentally, its closest neighbour, the ISS, is expected to splash-land at this remote spot in just eight years.

How do spacecraft end up at Point Nemo? What twisted, broken remains are currently lurking in its inky depths? And what might future archaeologists make of it all?…

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

Pixel Scroll 10/3/23 Midnight At The Oasis

(1) My mother’s mental state was actually back to about normal today. And putting together even this short Scroll will do wonders for mine.

(2) AFROPANTHEOLOGY. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki & Joshua Uchenna Omenga provide an “Introduction to Afropantheology” at Public Books.

African cosmologies recognize two spheres of existence—the physical and the spiritual—between which there is an inseparable link, as well as constant interactions. Each sphere of existence is connected to the other: the living to the dead, the born to the unborn, humans to the deities. “A community develops its mode of relating to its ancestors and the gods, harmonizing the interconnectedness of everything,” according to Dr. K. C. Nweke. “Each community has its spiritual exclusiveness through its relatedness to the ancestors in the underworld who oversee the ephemeral world.”1

Today, many works of African fiction reflecting African cosmology are themselves fictional reflections of these African realities of life. Yet this can make it easy to mislabel such literary fiction as mere fantasy.

The genre of fantasy (part of the broader category of speculative fiction) can simply mean imaginative fictions involving outlandish characters, magical elements, and often set in created worlds. It is often a genre of escapist literature, in which readers must suspend their belief to enjoy. As such, “fantasy” can be an ill-fitting term, when describing many literary works of similar rendering from the African continent. In response, a new term was conceived to capture this gamut of African literary works, which, though having fantasy elements, are additionally imbued with the African spiritual realities: Afropantheology….

(3) ALEX SCHOMBURG ART AUCTION ON OCTOBER 6. Susan Schomburg sends word that artwork by her grandpa, Alex Schomburg, will be auctioning through Heritage this Friday, October 6. Here is a search link to his lots: Search: Alex Schomburg.

And here is a link to his original art for “World at Bay”.

 (4) MY INDIANA BAT HOME. “Your FIRST LOOK at America’s Only Permanent BATMAN ’66 MUSEUM” at 13th Dimension. (The museum’s own website is here: Fiberglass Freaks Batman Museum.)

October will be a helluva month for Batman ’66 fans: It will feature the opening of the only permanent museum dedicated to the 1966 Batman TV show.

The Batman Museum in Logansport, Indiana — which is reminiscent of the popular Hollywood Museum exhibit from several years ago — will be operated by Fiberglass Freaks, Mark Racop’s company that builds the only officially licensed full-scale Batmobile replicas.

But the museum will be more than just about the greatest version of Batman’s ride — it will feature displays of costumes, real and replica; set reconstructions; memorabilia; a theater; props; other vehicles; a gift shop; and more.

… Fiberglass Freaks’ Batman Museum is located at 525 East Market Street, Logansport, Indiana, 46947;

Hours will be 1 p.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 1 p.m. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday.

(5) ADS SUBTRACT. Cory Doctorow takes readers through “Google’s enshittification memos” at Pluralistic.

…When I think about this enshittification curve, I often think of Google, a company that had its users’ backs for years, which created a genuinely innovative search engine that worked so well it seemed like *magic, a company whose employees often had their pick of jobs, but chose the “don’t be evil” gig because that mattered to them.

People make fun of that “don’t be evil” motto, but if your key employees took the gig because they didn’t want to be evil, and then you ask them to be evil, they might just quit. Hell, they might make a stink on the way out the door, too…

Google is a company whose founders started out by publishing a scientific paper describing their search methodology, in which they said, “Oh, and by the way, ads will inevitably turn your search engine into a pile of shit, so we’re gonna stay the fuck away from them”:

http://infolab.stanford.edu/pub/papers/google.pdf

Those same founders retained a controlling interest in the company after it went IPO, explaining to investors that they were going to run the business without having their elbows jostled by shortsighted Wall Street assholes, so they could keep it from turning into a pile of shit:

https://abc.xyz/investor/founders-letters/ipo-letter/

And yet, it’s turned into a pile of shit. Google search is so bad you might as well ask Jeeves. The company’s big plan to fix it? Replace links to webpages with florid paragraphs of chatbot nonsense filled with a supremely confident lies,,,

How did the company get this bad? In part, this is the “curse of bigness.” The company can’t grow by attracting new users. When you have 90%+ of the market, there are no new customers to sign up. Hypothetically, they could grow by going into new lines of business, but Google is incapable of making a successful product in-house and also kills most of the products it buys from other, more innovative companies…

(6) CAN*CON COULD BE FOR YOU. Derek Künsken recommends:

If you are a writer in some far off place without access to other writers, editors, agents (like my early career), I really recommend you check out the virtual program of

@CanConSF

that will run 14 and 15 October. It’s got a lot for aspiring and leveling-up writers!

CanCon registration is at their website here.

(7) WORD POWER. Steve Erikson did a five part essay on “The Language of Magic and the Magic of Language” on Facebook.

…Oxford Dictionary:

mag·ic

/ˈmajik/

noun

1. the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.

“suddenly, as if by magic, the doors start to open”

Okay, let’s look at this definition. There are three key words here: ‘influencing,’ ‘mysterious’ and ‘supernatural.’ Now, I’m not going to back up still further to define ‘mysterious’ or ‘supernatural,’ and if ‘influencing’ is in any way baffling, I can’t help you.

Anthropology examines ‘magic’ in cultures with an emphasis on the ‘influencing’ aspects, specifically in terms of the material component. Why? Because that is the only component of ‘magic’ that can be explored in a pseudo-scientific sense. The rest is metaphysical. Ethnology can add a narrative element, of course, when, for example, shamans explain stuff to the ethnologist, who in turn records the details. Those explanations may be accurate or entirely made up. They can be well-established (tradition) or invented on the fly. Even shamans can have a sense of humour.

All human cultures possess some ideation of magic, of the miraculous and the unseen. I can’t think of a single one that doesn’t. Large elements of even the Western world hold to these notions in some iteration, whether blanketed under ‘religion,’ ‘faith’ or ‘spiritualism.’ Atheism rejects the whole shebang in favour of a strictly mechanistic universe, but atheism is a minority position dwelling within a larger, global culture of belief.

No, really, it is. …

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 3, 1874 Charles Middleton. He is no doubt best remembered for his role as the Emperor Ming the Merciless in the three Flash Gordon serials made between 1936 and 1940 which is only genre production he appeared in save three chapters of a Forties Batman serial in which he played Ken Colton. (Died 1949.)
  • Born October 3, 1931 Ray Nelson. SF writer best known for his short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” which was the basis of John Carpenter’s They Live.  He later collaborated with Philip K. Dick on The Ganymede Takeover. In the 1940s Nelson appropriated the propeller beanie as a symbol of science fiction fandom. His fannish cartoons were recognized with the Rotsler Award in 2003. He was inducted to the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 2019. (Died 2022.)
  • Born October 3, 1933 Norman Adams. The SF Encyclopaedia says genre wise that “Adams may be best known for his cover for the first edition of Larry’s Niven’s World of Ptavvs” on Ballantine Books in 1966.  I must say having looked at his ISFDB listings that their assessment is absolutely right. (Died 2014.)
  • Born October 3, 1935 Madlyn Rhue. She on Trek’s “Space Seed” as Lt. Marla McGivers, Khan Noonien Singh’s (Ricardo Montalbán) love interest. Other genre appearances included being on the original Fantasy Island as Lillie Langtry in “Legends,” and Maria in the “Firefall” episode of Kolchak: The Night. (Died 2003.)
  • Born October 3, 1944 Katharine Kerr, 79. Ok I’m going to confess that I’ve not read her Deverry series so please tell me how they are. Usually I do read such Celtic tinged series so I don’t know how I missed them. Her Polar City SF mystery novels (second written with Kate Daniel) sound fascinating. Only the first, Polar City Blues, is available from the usual suspects.
  • Born October 3, 1964 Clive Owen, 59. First role I saw him in was the title role of Stephen Crane in the Chancer series. Not genre, but fascinating none the less. He’s been King Arthur in film of the same name where Keira Knightley was Guinevere. He’s also was in Sin City as Dwight McCarthy, and in The Pink Panther (though weirdly uncredited) as Nigel Boswell/Agent 006. I’ll also single him out for being Commander Arun Filitt in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
  • Born October 3, 1973 Lena Headey, 50. Many of you will know her as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones, but I liked her sociopathic Madeline “Ma-Ma” Madrigal on Dredd better.  She was also Angelika in The Brothers Grimm, a film I’m sure I’ve seen but remember nothing about. 
  • Born October 3, 1988 Alicia Vikander, 35. She was Ava, an artificial intelligence, in Ex Machina, spooky film it was. Several years later, she starred as Lara Croft in the rebooted Tomb Raider. In The Man from U.N.C.L.E., she plays Gaby Teller. Finally she’s The Lady / Esel in The Green Knight, a retelling of the story of Sir Gawain.  

(9) DUBAI YANKS THE WELCOME MAT OUT FROM UNDER. The International Association of Library Associations and Institutions announced today that “Invitation to host IFLA WLIC 2024 in Dubai withdrawn”. Bruce Arthurs says, “This reminded me of some of the travails past & ongoing about SF/F cons being held in morally objectionable countries. The big difference here is that it was the host city itself that yanked the rug out, rather than the conference committee.”

IFLA has been informed of the decision to withdraw the invitation to hold the 2024 World Library and Information Congress in Dubai.

The decision was communicated to us by the Emirates Library and Information Association who led the bid to support the development of the field and wider region.

The Association has underlined its ongoing commitment to IFLA, and keenness to find other ways to bring librarians from the country and region closer to the global library field. IFLA is grateful to the Association for the work that it has done, and firmly believes that this provides a strong basis for building engagement in other ways going forwards.

Acknowledging the reservations expressed about holding the Congress in Dubai, we recognise the disappointment that many in the region and beyond will feel. IFLA remains committed to finding ways to engage with and support the librarians in MENA and the surrounding regions who were looking forward to experiencing the vibrancy of a World Library and Information Congress. Continuing our work in this area is vital if we are to be not just an international, but a truly global Federation.

As Dubai was the only viable bid, there will now not be a World Library and Information Conference in 2024.

(10) CHENGDU WORLDCON UPDATE. [By Ersatz Culture.]

  • Worldcon COVID preparations

The Health Bureau of the Pidu District of Chengdu carried out a number of checks and inspections in August and September, and these will continue in the run up to the con.

Photo of a meeting held September 25th, the first four characters on the LED display read “Science Fiction Conference”.  Source: https://weibo.com/3339983832/Nl50S16Up

Photo of what I assume is a ventilation check at the con venue.  Source: here (presumably taken from elsewhere, but I’ve not been able to track it down.)

On September 26th, local media in Sichuan province published an interview (in Chinese) with Ben Yalow.  Here is an extract via Google Translate:

Reporter: What do you think of Chengdu’s bid and preparation process?

Ben Yalow: I first heard about the Chengdu bid when I met a group of Chinese fans at the World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin 2019. It’s always fun to meet a new fan base. This group of people in the Chengdu circle have worked hard to present a successful World Science Fiction Convention, and now things are going smoothly.

  • Zhejiang University SF club weekly newsletter

Both of the above stories came from the Zhejiang University SF club newsletter, edited by File 770 commenter Zimozi Natsuco.  Besides items about the Chengdu Worldcon, there are lots of items about other SF activities in China and other parts of the world, and is well worth checking out (via Google Translate or similar tools) if that interests you.  NB: the current issue namechecks the Chengdu coverage that has been published here on File 770, so this is perhaps a biased opinion…

The current issue can be found here, and a list of earlier issues here

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, Rob Thornton, Susan Schomburg, Bruce D. Arthurs, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH.]

Pixel Scroll 9/19/23 In Pixelated Ink Which Glows Under Starlight

(1) OPEN LETTER AGAINST BOOK BANS. “Ariana Grande, Garbage, Natasha Lyonne Sign Open Letter Against Book Bans”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Ariana GrandeGuillermo del ToroPadma Lakshmi, Roxane Gay, Gabrielle Union, Sandra Cisneros, Amanda Gorman, Margaret Cho and Ron Perlman are among the signatories of an open letter calling on creative communities in Hollywood and beyond to leverage their voices to stop book bans.

Upwards of 175 actors, musicians, authors, comedians, reality stars, models, media personalities, academics, activists and more have signed the open letter spearheaded by Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton and published Tuesday via public advocacy organization and political action committee MoveOn Political Action….

The letter’s release coincides with National Banned Books Month and comes amid a corresponding public petition from MoveOn, which will connect signatories with future advocacy opportunities around book bans. Such opportunities include methods of support or events related to MoveOn’s Banned Bookmobile, which launched a multicity tour this summer after measures touted and supported by Gov. Ron DeSantis resulted in an increase in banned and restricted books in Florida schools, according to The Associated Press.

In October, the bookmobile will once again distribute free banned books, in addition to hosting events held in conjunction with Crooked Media’s live Pod Save America and Lovett or Leave It podcasts, and author readings in Georgia, Virginia and South Carolina as part of a broader “Read Banned Books” initiative….

Here is the full text of the letter from Moveon.org.

As artists, creators, entertainers, and activists, we recognize and are horrified by the threat of censorship in the form of book bans.

This restrictive behavior is not just antithetical to free speech and expression but has a chilling effect on the broader creative field. The government cannot and should not create any interference or dictate what people can produce, write, generate, read, listen to, or consume.

We cannot stress enough how these censorious efforts will not end with book bans. It’s only a matter of time before regressive, suppressive ideologues will shift their focus toward other forms of art and entertainment, to further their attacks and efforts to scapegoat marginalized communities, particularly BIPOC and LGBTQ+ folks. 

We refuse to remain silent as one creative field is subjected to oppressive bans. As artists, we must band together, because a threat to one form of art is a threat to us all.

We are calling on everyone to join us in pushing back against these book bans, support free and open creative industries—regardless of personal or ideological disagreements—and use their voice at the local level to stop these bans in their school districts. There is power in artistic freedom, and we refuse to allow draconian politicians to take that from us.

(2) CHENGDU VENUE PROGRESS PHOTOS. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] Here from a Weibo post are a couple more photos of the interior of the Chengdu Worldcon venue.  It looks quite different to my eyes from the earlier images, not sure if it’s the lighting, angle, or if they’ve applied some coating – the Google Translated hashtags include “#金molstone# #石 CrystalWallboard#”, whatever those might be.

(3) CORA FINDS A CRACK IN THE FOUNDATION. Cora Buhlert is doing episode reviews of Apple+ series Foundation. (Access all of them here.) The latest is “Foundation travels ‘Long Ago, Not Far Away’ and blows up its own premise”beware spoilers.

…Warning! There will be spoilers under the cut!

“Long Ago, Not Far Away” was a really good episode of Foundation. Well, at least ninety-five percent of it were really good. Unfortunately, the last five minutes or so not only ruined the episode, but the entire series….

(4) TEXAS BOOK RATING LAW BLOCKED. Publishers Weekly tells how “In a Blistering Opinion, Judge Officially Blocks Texas Book Rating Law”.

After nearly three weeks of waiting, federal judge Alan D. Albright delivered a major victory for freedom to read advocates, issuing a substantive 59-page written opinion and order officially blocking Texas’s controversial book rating law, HB 900, from taking effect. The decision comes after Albright orally enjoined the law at an August 31 hearing and signaled his intent to block the law in its entirety.

Signed by Texas governor Greg Abbott on June 12, HB 900 would have required book vendors to review and rate books for sexual content under a vaguely articulated standard as a condition of doing business with Texas public schools. Under the law, books rated “sexually explicit” (if the book includes material deemed “patently offensive” by unspecified community standards) would be banned from Texas schools. Books rated “sexually relevant” (books with any representation of sexual conduct) would have required written parental permission for students to access them. Furthermore, the law would have given the state the ultimate power to change the rating on any book, and would have forced vendors to accept the state’s designated rating as their own, or be barred from selling to Texas public schools….

…“The Court does not dispute that the state has a strong interest in what children are able to learn and access in schools. And the Court surely agrees that children should be protected from obscene content in the school setting,” Albright concluded. “That said, [the law] misses the mark on obscenity with a web of unconstitutionally vague requirements. And the state, in abdicating its responsibility to protect children, forces private individuals and corporations into compliance with an unconstitutional law that violates the First Amendment.”

In defending the law, Texas attorneys had moved to dismiss the suit, arguing that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the law, and that the state has the right to regulate vendors who wish to do business with Texas public schools—essentially asserting that rating books would simply be part of the cost of doing business in Texas. Albright demolished those arguments in his opinion, and harshly criticized the ill-conceived law in denying the motion to dismiss.

At one point, Albright observed that the burden placed on vendors by the law are “so numerous and onerous as to call into question whether the legislature believed any third party could possibly comply.” And he called out state attorneys for their inability to answer basic questions over the course of two hearings. “Generally, the government was confused and unaware of how the law would actually function in practice,” Albright observed, citing “approximately 40 instances during the August 18th hearing (‘Hearing 1’) where the government either did not know how the law would function or did not have an answer as to what the effects of certain provisions were.”…

(5) PREVIEW GREG JEIN COLLECTION. Heritage Auctions takes you “Inside the Sensational Sci-Fi Collection of Model-Making Legend Greg Jein” in this post for The Intelligent Collector.

Greg Jein was a giant among the Hollywood illusionists who created small things to fill big screens. The model- and miniature-maker never left his hometown of Los Angeles. Yet he was never earthbound: Jein spent decades introducing us to aliens who brought their motherships to Earth, and he sent us soaring time and again into space, the final frontier.

Jein, who died at 76 last year, was nominated for Academy Awards and Emmys, hailed as a magician and beloved as a mentor. Among Hollywood’s special effects wizards, Jein was heartbeat and historian, craftsman and custodian. His life’s story might have made the perfect film.

A fan first, foremost and forever, he made models when he was little. By the time Jein reached his mid-30s, he was a twice-Oscar-nominated maker of motherships, airplanes, city blocks and other models for Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 1941, both directed by Steven Spielberg.

“Greg loved what he did, creating things with his hands,” says Jerry Chang, Jein’s first cousin. “He could see in his mind things other people couldn’t.”

On October 14-15, Heritage Auctions is honored to offer the entirety of Greg Jein’s vast and unparalleled assemblage, which includes his prized trove of models and memorabilia and the cherished miniatures he made. The landmark Greg Jein Collection Hollywood Platinum Signature® Auction

There’s also a gallery of “The Most Revealing Behind-the-Scenes Photos From the Greg Jein Collection” at the link.

(6) NEW SOPHIE BURNHAM TRILOGY. DAW Books has acquired Sargassa, the first book in a trilogy from debut author Sophie Burnham. Set in an alternate North America called Roma Sargassa, where the Roman Empire never fell, readers will plunge into a landscape of political intrigue, queer romance, and impending revolution. The acquisition encompassed three books with World English rights and was agented by Maria Napolitano at the Jane Rotrosen Agency.

Sophie Burnham

…Executive Editor Navah Wolfe expressed immense enthusiasm about the acquisition, stating, “Sophie’s impressive worldbuilding, compelling characters, and insightful social commentary make Sargassa an exceptional addition to DAW’s repertoire. We are immensely excited to introduce their work to the world.”

In the book, North America has always been under Roman rule, and the death of the Imperial Historian thrusts his children, Selah and Arran, into the heart of a conspiracy. An underground rebel faction seeks to obtain the Iveroa Stone and use its secrets to reveal the empire’s obscured past and dethrone its dominion. As Selah works to unlock the Stone’s enigmas, she faces a monumental decision: to uphold or challenge the historical narratives of the Roman rule in Sargassa…

Sophie Burnham is a queer nonbinary novelist and screenwriter, backed by an Acting BFA and a concentration in Playwriting from Syracuse University. Honored with a We Need Diverse Books writing grant and a placement in ScreenCraft’s 2020 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Screenplay competition, Burnham’s debut novel promises to enthrall and enlighten readers. Follow them on Twitter at @sophielburnham.

(7) CON OR BUST FUNDRAISER. The Con or Bust Prize Sweepstakes is selling entries.

Dream Foundry’s Con or Bust program issues cash grants to fans and creatives of color to help connect them with SFFH genre events and resources. Con or Bust sends folks to conventions, workshops, classes, and other networking or professional opportunities. Grants can be used toward travel, registration, food, equipment, and other expenses associated with attending the event.

Con or Bust’s fall fundraiser is in full swing! We have lots of bookish prizes, including a 1 year subscription to Apex Magazine, two $50 Weightless Books gift certificates, libro.fm credits, and more. Oh yeah, and there’s a PS5, too.

Fine print:

The Sweepstakes is open only to the following individuals (each, an “Eligible Participant”):

Individual legal residents of, and physically located within, the United States or Canada, and who are 18 (except 19 in Alabama and Nebraska and 21 in Mississippi) years of age as of the date of entry or of legal age of majority or older in their country of residence…

(8) DOING TIE-IN RESEARCH. David Mack gives a detailed example of the kind of research he needed to do for a Star Trek media tie-in novel. Thread begins here.

(9) FREE READ. The 2023 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award-winning story, “The Hitchhiker on Souls’ Road” by A. A. Nour, is currently available to read at the Baen website.

A. A. Nour with award

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 19, 1922 Damon Knight. Author, editor, critic. Kate Wilhelm who was his wife is also regrettably no longer with us. His 1950 short story, “To Serve Man” was adapted for The Twilight Zone. His first story, “The Itching Hour,” appeared in the Summer 1940 number of Futuria Fantasia which was edited and published by Ray Bradbury.  It’s hard to briefly sum up his amazing genre career but let me note he was a member of the Futurians and a reviewer as well as a writer. Novels of his I’ll single out are Hell’s PavementThe Observers and Special Delivery but don’t think I’m overlooking his brilliant short stories. The Encyclopedia of SF notes that “In 1995, he was granted the SFWA Grand Master Award – which from 2002 became formally known, in his honour, as the Damon Knight Grand Master Award. He was posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2003.” (Died 2002.)
  • Born September 19, 1928 Adam West. Best known as Batman on that classic Sixties series, he also had a short role in 1964’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars as Colonel Dan McReady. He last played the role of Batman by voicing him in two animated films, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face. He also most excellently voiced The Gray Ghost in an episode of the Kevin Conroy voiced B:TAS, “Beware the Gray Ghost”. (Died 2017.)
  • Born September 19, 1928 Robin Scott Wilson. Founder, with Damon Knight and others, of the Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop. He edited Clarion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction and Criticism from the Clarion Writers’ WorkshopClarion II and Clarion III. He wrote one genre novel, To the Sound of Freedom (with Richard W. Shryock) and a lot of short fiction. He’s not in stock at all at the usual suspects. (Died 2013.)
  • Born September 19, 1933 David McCallum, 90. His longest running, though not genre, role is pathologist Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on NCIS where he appeared in every episode of the first fifteen seasons.  (With series lead Mark Harmon’s departure from the show in the fall of 2021 (Season 19), McCallum became the last remaining member of the original NCIS cast.) Genre wise, he was Illya Nickovitch Kuryakin on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and the British series Sapphire & Steel where he was Steel and Joanna Lumley was Sapphire. He played the lead in a short-lived U.S. version of The Invisible Man. He was Dr. Vance Hendricks on Babylon 5’s “Infection” episode.
  • Born September 19, 1947 Tanith Lee. I hadn’t realized that she wrote more than ninety novels and three hundred short stories in her career. Ninety novels! She even wrote two of the Blake’s 7 episodes as well. I am more fond of her work for children such as The Dragon Hoard and The Unicorn Series than I am of her adult work. She has garnered well-deserved Stoker and World Fantasy Awards for Lifetime Achievement. (Died 2015.)
  • Born September 19, 1952 Laurie R. King, 71. She’s on the Birthday Honors list for the Mary Russell series of historical mysteries, featuring Sherlock Holmes as her mentor and later partner. Hey it’s at least genre adjacent.  She’s also written at least one genre novel, Califia’s Daughters.
  • Born September 19, 1972 N. K. Jemisin, 51. Her most excellent Broken Earth series has made her the only author to have won the Hugo for Best Novel in three consecutive years. Her “Non-Zero Probabilities” was nominated for the Best Short Story losing out to Will McIntosh‘s “Bridesicle” at Aussiecon 4. “Emergency Skin” I’m pleased to note won the Best Novelette Hugo at CoNZealand. Yeah I voted for it. And at Chicon 8 she won a Best Graphic Story or Comic Hugo for Far Sector, written by her, with art by Jamal Campbell.

(11) FANHISTORY ZOOM. The next FANAC Fan History Zoom session will be about “Boston Fandom in the 60s” with Tony Lewis, Leslie Turek and Mike Ward, moderated by Mark Olson. It will happen September 23,2023 at Time: 4PM EDT, 1PM PDT, 9PM BST (UK), Sept 24 at 6AM Melbourne, AU. If you want access, please send a note to [email protected]

(12) COVER REVEAL. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Theory podcast Acid Horizon announced on Twitter/X the new cover for the upcoming Zer0 Books release Against the Vortex: Degrowth Utopias in the Seventies and Today by Anthony Galluzzo.

(13) LIVE ACTION, NOT ANIMATED. “Disney World forced to close rides after finding wild bear in park” reports Entertainment Weekly.

Disney World guests were just treated to a new kind of Country Bear Jamboree.

EW can confirm that a wild bear was found inside the park Monday morning, prompting the closure of at least 10 attractions inside the Frontierland, Adventureland, and Liberty Square areas. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission tells EW that biologists with FWC’s Bear Management Program, as well as FWC Law Enforcement officers, are “working on capturing and relocating the bear,” who they say was likely moving through the park in search of food….

(14) CHANGE THE TITLE, CHANGE THE GENRE. Lincoln Michel had fun with this idea – you can too.

(15) ON THEIR OWN TWO FEET. [Item by Nina Shepardson.] Slate has a list of “The 40 best stand-alone TV episodes that can be watched on their own.” Several are from genre TV shows, including Star Trek, The X-Files, and The Twilight Zone. I’d be interested to hear whether other Filers think Slate picked the right episodes…

Whether we’re living in the age of Peak TV or Trough TV, one thing is clear: There’s too much TV. Thankfully, not every show has to be watched in its entirety. One of the best things about television is its serialized nature, the continuous thread that strings viewers along from one episode to the next. It’s a cliché that prestige television is the new novel precisely because of the way that many dramas develop their characters and plots over many hours of storytelling. But an older virtue of TV is its brevity—the way a scenario can be introduced and resolved within the space of an hour, or half that—and some of the best episodes are less like chapters in a long-running novel than like short stories or short films. These are stand-alone episodes….

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Ersatz Culture, Ben Bird Person, Nina Shepardson, Joe Siclari, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 9/12/23 For Us, the Scrolling

(1) MICHAEL CHABON SUES META OVER AI COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT. At The Hollywood Reporter:“Meta, OpenAI Class Action Lawsuit: Novel Authors Claim Infringement”.

Michael Chabon and other decorated writers of books and screenplays sued Meta on Tuesday in California federal court in a lawsuit accusing the company of copyright infringement for harvesting mass quantities of books across the web, which were then used to produce infringing works that allegedly violate their copyrights. OpenAI was sued on Sept. 8 in an identical class action alleging the firms “benefit commercially and profit handsomely from their unauthorized and illegal” collection of the authors’ books. They seek a court order that would require the companies to destroy AI systems that were trained on copyright-protected works.

…As evidence that AI systems were fed authors’ books, the suit points to ChatGPT generating summaries and in-depth analyses of the themes in the novels when prompted. It says that’s “only possible if the underlying GPT model was trained using” their works.

“If ChatGPT is prompted to generate a writing in the style of a certain author, GPT would generate content based on patterns and connections it learned from analysis of that author’s work within its training dataset,” states the complaint, which largely borrows from the suit filed by [Paul] Tremblay.

And because the large language models can’t operate without the information extracted from the copyright-protected material, the answers that ChatGPT produces are “themselves infringing derivative works,” the lawsuit against Meta says….

(2) CHENGDU PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS. File 770 asked Chengdu Worldcon committee member Joe Yao for a list of the people who have been added as Worldcon guests since the recent offer of help went out. No names were provided, however, Yao made this statement:

We kept inviting guests from both China and abroad, and now we have about 500 guests confirmed to come. They will attend some key events including the opening ceremony, Hugo ceremony and the closing ceremony, and they will also participate in programs as either guests or speakers. My team is working closely with the overseas team on programs and we have drafted a mastersheet of the programs. It will be confirmed and released soon.

(3) BARRIERS TO TRAVEL. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki commented on Facebook about the challenges of getting a visa.

Nigerian passport & visa issues. Recently found out the Italian visa app has more requirements than US. Then I thought maybe China’s. Someone just told me that’s harder than the US’s. Germany might not give you visa even on their chancellor’s request. Is there any one that’s easy (possible) for a Nigerian?

When I was in the US, anytime Africans saw I was on a b1-b2 visa they used to be shocked out of their skulls. Like you find someone with the complete infinity gauntlet and stones. So for all these to be harder, Lol.

It’s really something to be a Nigerian that isn’t chained down and utterly grounded. Meanwhile what it took to get my US visa & the price I had to and still pay for it gifted me PTSD and damage I might never be able to afford treatment for. But hey, na me wan dream. Lol

(4) NASFIC MINUTES AVAILABLE. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] The minutes of the NASFiC WSFS Business Meeting at Pemmi-Con are now published on the WSFS Rules page here. (Scroll down to “MINUTES of the 2023 WSFS Business Meeting of the 15th NASFiC”.)

(5) ABRAHAM AND FRANCK Q&A. Award-winning sci-fi writers Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck talk with Meghna Chakrabarti about the world they created in The Expanse and what they’re working on next. “’The Expanse’ authors on ‘the importance of complicating people’” at WBUR.

(6) INTERNET ARCHIVE APPEALS TO HIGHER COURT. “Internet Archive Files Appeal in Copyright Infringement Case”Publishers Weekly has details.

As expected, the Internet Archive this week submitted its appeal in Hachette v. Internet Archive, the closely watched copyright case involving the scanning and digital lending of library books.

In a brief notice filed with the court, IA lawyers are seeking review by the Second Circuit court of appeals in New York of the “August 11, 2023 Judgment and Permanent Injunction; the March 24, 2023 Opinion and Order Granting Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment and Denying Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment; and from any and all orders, rulings, findings, and/or conclusions adverse to Defendant Internet Archive.”

The notice of appeal comes right at the 30-day deadline—a month to the day after judge John G. Koeltl approved and entered a negotiated consent judgment in the case which declared the IA’s scanning and lending program to be copyright infringement, as well as a permanent injunction that, among its provisions, bars the IA from lending unauthorized scans of the plaintiffs’ in-copyright, commercially available books that are available in digital editions.

“As we stated when the decision was handed down in March, we believe the lower court made errors in facts and law, so we are fighting on in the face of great challenges,” reads a statement announcing the appeal on the Internet Archive website. “We know this won’t be easy, but it’s a necessary fight if we want library collections to survive in the digital age.”…

(7) GARETH EDWARDS VIRTUAL CONVERSATION. MIT Technology Review will hold an online event “Humanity and AI: A conversation with the director of ‘The Creator’” at LinkedIn on Thursday, September 14, 2023, at 2:30 p.m. Eastern. Appears that LinkedIn registration is required.

As many today try to imagine the future of our world with artificial intelligence, MIT Technology Review’s senior editor of AI, Melissa Heikkilä, speaks with Gareth Edwards, director of the upcoming sci-fi epic “The Creator,” about the current state of AI and the pitfalls and possibilities ahead as this technology marches toward sentience. The film, releasing September 29th and starring John David Washington and Gemma Chan, imagines a futuristic world where humans and AI are at war and fundamentally explores humanity’s relationship with AI, what it means to be human, and what it means to be alive.

(8) THE HEINLEIN SOCIETY. These are the new Officers for The Heinlein Society:

The Board of the Society voted [September 11] for its new leadership & Executive Committee effective immediately:

  • President & Chairman: Ken Walters
  • Vice President: Walt Boyes
  • Treasurer: Geo Rule
  • Secretary: Betsey Wilcox

Congratulations to all of them! 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 12, 1897 Walter B. Gibson. Writer and professional magician who’s best known for his work creating and being the first and main writer of the pulp character The Shadow with The Living Shadow published by Street & Smith Publications in 1933 being the first one. Using the pen-name Maxwell Grant, he wrote 285 of the 325 Shadow stories published by Street & Smith in The Shadow magazine of the Thirties and Forties. He also wrote a Batman prose story which appeared in Detective Comics #500 and was drawn by Thomas Yeates. (Died 1985.)
  • Born September 12, 1921 — Stanisław Lem. He’s best known for Solaris, which has been made into a film three times. The latest film made off a work of his is the 2018 His Master’s Voice (Glos Pana In Polish). The usual suspects have generous collections of his translated into English works at quite reasonable prices. (Died 2006.)
  • Born September 12, 1940 John Clute, 83. Critic, one of the founders of Interzone (which I avidly read) and co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (with Peter Nicholls) and of the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (with John Grant) as well as writing the Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Science Fiction. All of these publications won Hugo Awards for Best Non-Fiction. And I’d be remiss not to single out for praise The Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror which is simply a superb work.
  • Born September 12, 1942 Charles L. Grant. A writer who said he was best at what he called “dark fantasy” and “quiet horror”. Nightmare Seasons, a collection of novellas, won a World Fantasy Award, while the “A Crowd of Shadows” short garnered a Nebula as did “A Glow of Candles, a Unicorn’s Eye” novella. “Temperature Days on Hawthorne Street” story would become the Tales from the Darkside episode “The Milkman Cometh”. Both iBooks and Kindle have decent but not outstanding selections of his works including a few works of Oxrun Station, his core horror series. (Died 2006.)
  • Born September 12, 1952 Kathryn Anne Ptacek, 71. Widow of Charles L. Grant. She has won two Stoker Awards. If you’re into horror. Her Gila! novel is a classic of that genre, and No Birds Sings is an excellent collection of her short stories. Both are available from the usual suspects. She is the editor and publisher of the writers-market magazine The Gila Queen’s Guide to Markets
  • Born September 12, 1952 — Neil Peart. Drummer and primary lyricist for the prog-rock, power-trio band Rush. Neil incorporated science fiction and fantasy elements into many of Rush’s songs.  An early example is “By-Tor and the Snow Dog” from the Album “Fly By Night”.  The entire first side of the 2112 album (back when albums had sides) was the 2112 suite telling the dystopian story of a man living in a society where individualism and creativity are outlawed.  Neil is a genre author having co-written The Clockwork Angels series with Kevin J. Anderson.  (Died of glioblastoma, 2020.) (Dann Todd) 
  • Born September 12, 1965 Robert T. Jeschonek, 58. Writer for my purposes of both genre and mysteries. He’s written short fiction set in the Trek universe. He’s also written fiction set in the BattletechCaptain MidnightDeathlandsDoctor WhoStarbarian Saga and Tannhauser universes. We really need a concordance to all these media universes. Really we do. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Candorville is where an author claims to focus on the positive. But does he?

(11) WESTERCON 75 ANNOUNCEMENT. Arlene Busby, chair of the cancelled Westercon 75, announced today that all membership refunds have been issued. Also, the transfers have been completed for all those members who requested that their membership monies be transfer to Loscon 49.

Similarly, refunds have been issued to all Dealers who requested them. And transfers have been completed for Dealers who requested their fees be transferred to Loscon 49.

Busby adds, “We thank everyone for their support and patience in getting all these transactions processed. If you have any questions please contact me at [email protected].”

(12) TREK THEME PERFORMED IN CHINA. From the Beijing Star Trek Day event mentioned in the September 9 Scroll comes this a video of the Michael Giacchino Star Trek theme performed on traditional Chinese instruments – see it on Weibo

(13) PULITZER PRIZE ELIGIBILITY UPDATED. “Pulitzer Board Expands Eligibility for Authors” reports Publishers Lunch.

Beginning with the 2025 awards, which opens for submissions in spring 2024, the Pulitzer Prize board has changed the eligibility requirements for the books, drama and music awards to include “US citizens, permanent residents of the United States,” and authors for whom “the United States has been their longtime primary home.” Previously, only US citizens were eligible for the awards, with the exception of authors of history books, who could be of any nationality if their book was about US history. “For the sake of consistency,” the prize board said, history books must be written by US authors according to the new guidelines.

Books still must be “originally published in English in the United States.”

In “Pulitzer Prizes expand eligibility to non-U.S. citizens”, the Los Angeles Times amplifies how the change was brought about.

…Following an August petition on the literary sites Literary Hub and Undocupoets to reconsider the U.S. citizenship requirements for the arts prizes, the Pulitzer board addressed the issue….

The petition, which was signed by many prominent authors, was created in part because of the passionate case that author Javier Zamora made against the Pulitzer’s U.S. citizen requirements in a De Los opinion piece titled “It’s time for the Pulitzer Prize for literature to accept noncitizens.”…

(14) GREG JEIN COLLECTION TO AUCTION. Model and miniature-maker Greg Jein, who died last year, had an extraordinary collection of iconic sf props and costumes, which are now going under the hammer: “’Star Wars’ Red Leader X-Wing Model Heads A Cargo Bay’s Worth Of Props At Auction” at LAist.

…The intricately made starfighter brought millions of people along for the ride as a group of plucky Rebel pilots assaulted the Death Star. Now the Star Wars scale model is being sold at auction, with bids starting at $400,000.

The “Red Leader” (Red One) X-wing Starfighter from 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope is “the pinnacle of Star Wars artifacts to ever reach the market,” says Heritage Auctions, which is handling the sale as part of a trove of science fiction props, miniatures and memorabilia.

The X-wing tops the auction list, but it’s far, far from alone: It was found in the expansive collection of Greg Jein, an expert craftsman who was as skilled at bringing futuristic stories to life as he was devoted to preserving the models and props used to bring strange new worlds to TV and film.

…More than 550 items from Jein’s collection are now heading to auction, from Nichelle Nichols’ iconic knee-high boots and red tunic as Lt. Uhura to Leonard Nimoy’s pointy ears as Spock. A hairpiece for William Shatner’s Captain Kirk and Lt. Sulu’s golden tunic are also up for sale….

There’s more information in the Heritage Auctions press release: “Mother Lode From the Mothership: Model-Making Legend Greg Jein’s Collection Beams Up to Heritage”.

…Jein also preserved Spock’s ka’athyrathe Vulcan lute strummed in a handful of Original Series episodes, including “Amok Time ” and “The Conscience of the King “; the ray generator called into duty during several Original Series episodes; and the Universal Translator that Kirk used to talk to the Gorn in “Arena. “ There’s something for fans of nearly every episode of The Original Series, from the ahn-woon of “Amok Time “ to the agonizer used in “Mirror, Mirror” to The Great Teacher of All the Ancient Knowledge intended to restore “Spock’s Brain.” The Trek offerings in The Greg Jein Auction are nearly as vast as the final frontier itself….

(15) IN THE SPIRIT OF PHILIP K. DICK. A discussion with 81st Worldcon Chair He Xi and multidisciplinary sci-fi artist Yin Guang, “HUGO X: 2”, a Chengdu Worldcon Talkshow, closes with the jolly speculation that carbon-based life will be the scaffolding for silicon-based life – artificial intelligence – and when that building is built, “you’ll be torn down.”

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Kevin Standlee, Ersatz Culture, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]