Pixel Scroll 8/10/22 Put Me In A Con, Hurry, Hurry, Hurry Before The Scroll Is Gone; I Can’t Control My Reading, I Can’t Control My Blog

(1) WONDERS NEVER CEASE. The 1982 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate Kevin Smith has finished his trip report: “I finally got a round tuit”. You can read it online here: “TAFF Trip”.

40 years ago, in September 1982, I went to the USA, primarily to attend Chicon IV, the World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago. The trip was paid for by TAFF, the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund, and one of the expectations is that anyone going on a TAFF Trip should write a report about it. That’s what I’ve done, finally. You can find it under ‘TAFF Trip’ in the menu bar above.

From the “Introduction”:

What I said before I left America to come home was: “I’ll write a short trip report, but do it quickly when I get back.”

As I recall, I wrote this in my next fanzine: “It were great!”

Well, it met the ‘short’ and ‘do it quickly’ criteria, but probably failed the ‘trip report’ hurdle.
So here we are. It has taken a mere 40 years, but is quite short. What more could you ask…?

[That’s what we call a rhetorical question, in the trade. You’re not supposed to answer it. Especially not like that, it’s not nice.]

(2) SCARES IN THE REAR-VIEW MIRROR. Scares That Care announced in a press release they are discontinuing their Charity Weekend event:

Since its founding in 2006, the Scares That Care charity has raised nearly $400,000 for organizations, children, and families impacted by illness, burns, or breast cancer. We’ve achieved that thanks to the generosity of you – our Scares That Care family. Due to rising costs involved in producing a show of this type, the Board of Directors has unanimously decided to discontinue our Charity Weekend event. This will allow us to focus on our other fundraising efforts, so that we can expand our goals. While we understand that many of you will be disappointed by this news, we ask you to remember that we have never been a charity that supports a convention. Rather, the convention has always supported the charity. As such, our overall mission continues, and we invite our Scares That Care family to support our other upcoming fundraisers and events. Details on our annual Christmas Dance, AuthorCon II, and other surprises are forthcoming.

Brian Keene added in his newsletter:

…But I do want to assure people that the convention was profitable. That’s not the issue. the issue is that we are a charity, and as a charity, we need to look at costs versus profit. The economy and rising costs in everything from fuel to food is hitting all of these big multi-media conventions….

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Richard Butner and Veronica Schanoes in-person on Wednesday, August 17 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Masks welcome.

Richard Butner

Richard Butner’s short fiction has appeared in Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, been shortlisted for the Speculative Literature Foundation’s Fountain Award, and nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award. His collection The Adventurists was published by Small Beer Press in March. He lives in North Carolina, where he runs the annual Sycamore Hill Writers’ Conference.

Veronica Schanoes

Veronica Schanoes is a writer whose debut short story collection, Burning Girls and Other Stories, appeared in paperback from Tordotcom in June. She is also an associate professor in the English department of Queens College – CUNY. In both guises, she works with fairy tales and fantasy.

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

(4) NEWS FROM THE FRONT. In “Covers! What are They Good For?” Sarah A. Hoyt continues her Mad Genius Club series about book covers by telling us —

What covers aren’t for:

1- to be beautiful. I mean, the eye is attracted to beautiful things, so beauty helps, but is not needed.

2- to be an accurate representation of your book. Again, if your character is a slim redhead and the cover model is a zaftig brunette (who is also very pretty) no one cares. Before they read the book, the readers don’t know that. And after they read the book they might leave a review that says “I don’t know where the cover brunette came from” but that won’t stop them promoting you if they loved the book.

3- be exactly what you envisioned in your head while writing the book. Unless of course, you’re an amazing cover artist on the side, and know exactly what sells in your genre or subgenre the month your book comes out.

4- (Contra insty trolls) signaling to the world how smart and sophisticated you are. (Unless you’re selling litewawy and little because the illusion of smart and sophisticated is essential there.)

She follows that beginning with a longer list of what covers are for.

(5) ROUNDUP TIME. G.W. Thomas shares a list of “Science Fiction Writers Who Wrote Westerns” at Dark Worlds Quarterly.

The collection Westerns of the 40s (1977) surprised me when I saw who the editor was, Damon Knight. That pillar of the Science Fiction community published the award-winning anthology series Orbit for decades. But he also did a couple of books about Pulp SF from the 1930s and 1940s. So why not some Cowboy stories from the same time period?

The bigger surprise was who he chose for that book. Not your usual W. C. Tuttle, Luke Short and Walter Tompkins stuff. Nope, Clifford D. Simak, John D. MacDonald and Murray Leinster. Three of the seven were written by Science Fiction authors. Now you can make the case for John D. MacDonald’s true fame is in the detective/suspense field. This is true, but old John D. did write Science Fiction for a spell before he quit it because it was too easy….

(6) TOO MUCH THE SAME THING? At Black Gate, Joe Bonadonna talks about his personal experiences with the sword and sorcery genre and why it withered in the 1980s in “IMHO: A Personal History Of Sword & Sorcery And Heroic Fantasy”.

Conan, King Kull, Cormac, Bran Mak Morn — names that conjure magic, characters often imitated, but never duplicated. These creations of Robert E. Howard (circa 1930) started the Sword and Sorcery boom of the 1960s and early 1970s. Then there are the barbarian warriors inspired by Howard — “Clonans,” as one writer recently referred to these sword-slinging, muscle-bound characters. A fair observation, but in some cases, not so true….

(7) WRITING FOR ANIMATION. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The For Eternia podcast has a lengthy interview with Tim Sheridan, who was one of the writers of Masters of the Universe: Revelation and also worked on a lot of other animated shows. Even if you haven’t watched the show, Sheridan has a lot of things to say about writing and storytelling.

(8) GET HUMBLE. There’s a Humble Bundle for “Image Comics 30th Anniversary: The 2000s” – pay what you want and help charity.

Image Comics turns 30 this year and we’re ready to celebrate! This bundle is all about Image in the 2000s, including the debuts of well-loved series like Invincible Volume 1: Family Matters, The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone By, and Fear Agent: Final Edition Volume 1! On top of the new heroes, villains, and sagas the decade brought, this bundle also includes the continuing adventures of fan-favorite Image characters Spawn,The Darkness, and Savage Dragon. Grab this bundle and help support BINC (Book Industry Charitable Foundation)!

Daniel Dern comments on the deal: “At this price (range), if you have any interest in these Image titles — or even want to see if you’re interested — it’s a hard bargain to resist.

“(Note, I only recently discovered Eric Larsen’s Savage Dragon. They are great! A mix of whacky plots, text/character/art references to Marvel, DC and other bits, and more. (Caution: Lots of violence, sex, gore and bad science. If you want to start ’em from the beginning, Hoopla has them — the Archives editions have more per borrow (~25 issues each), but, IIRC, are in black-and-white, it’s possible (I haven’t checked) that the fewer-paged non-Archives are in color.)”

(9) RAYMOND BRIGGS (1934-2022). [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Writer and illustrator Raymond Briggs died August 9 aged 88. He is best known for The Snowman (which is genre, because it features a magical flying snowman), but a lot of his other work such as Fungus the Bogeyman is genre as well. He also wrote and drew the terribly depressing nuclear war graphic novel (also filmed) Where the Wind Blows, where a nice elderly British couple dies slowly of radiation poisoning in spite of attempting to follow the official UK government civil defense guidelines.

Lots of tributes to him from the Guardian:

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

2008 [By Cat Eldridge.] Fourteen years on this day, the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars premiered. It is the first fully animated film in the Star Wars franchise and takes place shortly after Episode II – Attack of the Clones, at the start of the Clone Wars.

Ok let me note that I was in the minority of individuals that really liked it. I liked the voice acting and thought the story was quite excellent. Yes, the animation was odd, but Lucas has the right to do what he wants as it’s his damn universe, not ours, something’s fans seem to keep forgetting. 

 It received largely hostile, and I mean hostile reviews mainly due to both the story here and the animation style which offended, well, almost everyone.  Now that’s out of the way let’s look at it.

It was written by Henry Gilroy, Steven Melching and Scott Murphy. Keep the first writer in mind as he will go to be the writer on oh-so-stellar Star Wars: The Clone Wars which will run for seven series and over one hundred and thirty episodes. 

The voice talent was second to none: Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor, Dee Bradley Baker, Ian Abercrombie, Catherine Taber, Christopher Lee, Samuel L. Jackson and Anthony Daniels. Many of these will carry over into the later series. Tom Kane is the narrator here as he is in later series. 

So why the hostile reaction? The style is an homage to the stylized looks of both Japanese anime and manga, something fans and critics alike weren’t expecting. Roger Ebert in his review said, “the characters have hair that looks molded from Play-Doh, bodies that seem arthritic, and moving lips on half-frozen faces—all signs that shortcuts were taken in the animation work.”  

Curiously the New York Post in its review lauded the original Star Wars film for its depth of character development (huh?) saying of this film, “Director Dave Filoni is so concentrated on the action that we’re never given the chance to care who lives and who is blown into spare parts.” 

Also curious is the claim that Star Wars: The Clone Wars did very poorly at the box office. Yes, compared to the live action films in the franchise it was a disaster, but animated features generally never do as well as live action films. (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the very rare exception.) It cost eight million to make and made sixty-three million in its first run, not bad at all. It obviously put a lot of asses in the seats that autumn. 

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give a middling forty percent. What I must note is Lucas had in mind all along a Star Wars: The Clone Wars series which debuted in October of that year. That series holds a ninety-three percent rating over there.

Oh, and the animation style for that series is the same. Just saying. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 10, 1896 John Gloag. His first SF novel, Tomorrow’s Yesterday, depicts a race of cat people from the distant future observing human society. It was one of five SF novels and a double handful of short stories he wrote in the Thirties and Forties. (Died 1981.)
  • Born August 10, 1902 Curt Siodmak. He is known for his work in horror and sf films such as The Wolf Man and Donovan’s Brain. The latter was made from his own novel and ISFDB notes it was part of the Dr. Patrick Cory series. He wrote quite a few other genre novels as well. Donovan’s Brain and just a few other works are available in digital form. (Died 2000.)
  • Born August 10, 1903 Ward Moore. Author of Bring the Jubilee which everyone knows about as it’s often added to that mythical genre canon, and several more that I’m fairly sure almost no one knows of. More interestingly to me was that he was a keen writer of recipes. ISFDB documents that four of his appeared in Anne McCaffrey’s Cooking Out of This World: “Kidneys — Like Father Used to Make” and “Pea Soup — Potage Ste. Germaine“ being two of them. (Died 1978.)
  • Born August 10, 1913 Noah Beery Jr. Genre-wise, he’s best remembered as Maj. William Corrigan on the Fifties classic SF film Rocketship X-M, but he showed up in other genre undertakings as well such as 7 Faces of Dr. LaoThe Six Million Dollar ManFantasy IslandBeyond Witch MountainThe Ghost of Cypress Swamp and The Cat Creeps. I think he appeared in one of the earliest Zorro films made where he’s credited just as a boy, he’d be seven then, The Mark of Zorro which had Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and his father, Noah Beery Sr. (Died 1994.)
  • Born August 10, 1952 David C. Smith, 70. He is best known for his fantasy novels, particularly those co-authored with Richard L. Tierney, featuring characters created by Robert E. Howard. Most notable are the six novels which involved Red Sonja. Those novels are available on Apple Books but not on Kindle.
  • Born August 10, 1955 Tom Kidd, 67. Genre illustrator, he’s won an impressive seven Chelsey Awards. Though he didn’t win a Hugo for Best Professional Artist, he was nominated  at Aussiecon Two, Nolacon, Conspiracy ‘87 and ConFiction. Since I’m fond of this Poul Anderson series, I’m giving you his cover for Maurai & Kith.
  • Born August 10, 1955 Eddie Campbell, 67. Best known as the illustrator and publisher of From Hell (written by Alan Moore) which is, errr, interesting and won an IHG Award, and Bacchus, a series about the few Greek gods who have made to our time. Though not genre, I highly recommend The Black Diamond Detective Agency which he did. It’s adaptation of an as-yet unmade screenplay by C. Gaby Mitchell. 
  • Born August 10, 1965 Claudia Christian, 57. Best-known role is Commander Susan Ivanova on Babylon 5. She has done other genre roles such as being Brenda Lee Van Buren in The Hidden, Katherine Shelley in Lancelot: Guardian of Time, Quinn in Arena, Lucy in The Haunting of Hell House and Kate Dematti in Meteor Apocalypse. She’s had one-offs on Space RangersHighlanderQuantum LeapRelic Hunter and Grimm. She’s Captain Belinda Blowhard on Starhyke, a six-episode series shot in ‘05 you can watch on Amazon Prime.

(12) WONG TO PEN DEADPOOL. Alyssa Wong and Martin Coccolo launch Deadpool’s next era in November.

Deadpool’s new ongoing series will be written by Alyssa Wong, known for her acclaimed work on thrilling books like Star Wars: Doctor Aphra and Iron Fist, and drawn by Martin Coccolo, the artist currently wowing readers in the action-packed Hulk vs. Thor: Banner of War crossover. The two rising Marvel stars will take out their pent up aggression on everyone’s pizza-faced, jabber-mouthed, misguided, hate-to-love, love-to-hate fave in new Deadpool adventures loaded with riotous violence and relentless body horror. Deadpool’s latest solo exploits will kick off with a bang as a new mercenary group sends Deadpool on one of his most dangerous missions, an intoxicating villain unleashes a twisted plan on Wade’s body with horrifying side effects, and a hot new romance arrives on the scene to drive Wade crazy!

The world knows Wade Wilson is one of the top mercenary/assassins in the Marvel Universe, even if he is simultaneously the most annoying one…but he’s pushing to make that recognition official as he auditions for the elite group known as the Atelier. Now, he has 48 hours to kill one of the world’s most famous supervillains. Only problem? He’s been kidnapped, and something…strange…is GROWING INSIDE HIM.

“I love chaos. And what is Deadpool if not chaos incarnate? I’m honored to take the reins for Wade’s next solo adventure–expect romance, expect body horror, and expect a wild time!” Wong promises….

(13) DROPS OF WISDOM. Neil Gaiman answers tweets from people with questions about Greek, Roman, Norse, and Egyptian mythology for WIRED in “Neil Gaiman Answers Mythology Questions From Twitter”.

(14) ARTIFICIAL BURRITO INTELLIGENCE. Midjourney creates a portrait of John Scalzi. Then Chuck Wendig gets it to answer the question “What if you are what you eat?”

(15) CATCH THE WAVE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Jason Momoa talks about his roles in fantasy movies, including an explanation about why the 2011 Conan The Barbarian was awful, and reveals that Denis Villeneuve would like to adapt Dune Messiah into a third Dune movie in the British GQ article “Jason Momoa, Aquaman and real life superhero, is on a quest to save the ocean”.

Jason Momoa doesn’t exactly love that he keeps dying, if you really want to get into it. “My kids are always like, ‘Are you gonna die again? You always die,” he says, a little forlornly. “I obviously made a name for myself dying so if you see me it’s like, ‘Momoa’s gonna jump on the bomb, I know it!’”

Thus far he has been shot in the head, blown up, smothered, died by suicide, had his throat slashed, and been stabbed in both the stomach and the chest. It was watching his most recent death, in Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi spectacular Dune with his 12-year-old son, that really got to him. “It was pretty heart wrenching, cause I was like, ‘I’m right here buddy!’ But he was like, ‘Papa nooooooooo,’ he recalls, howling like a dog at the moon. “I said: ‘Listen dude: if you’re gonna go out, go out big.’”

Which might make it sound as though the Aquaman actor is a mere mortal, but if you saw Jason Momoa walking down the street (and not, say, emerging from the ocean with a trident in his hand, and the promise of avenging his sea queen mother glinting in his eye) you might still wonder if this towering man didn’t arrive on dry land using a branch of coral as a surfboard, having caught a wave from a kingdom far more exciting than anywhere on planet earth…. 

(16) PRIME TARGET. Cyber warfare is unleashed in The Enigma Factor, first in the twelve-book Enigma Series by Charles Breakfield and Rox Burkey.

A brilliant programmer is targeted by cyber predators! Jacob Michaels, computer network security-tester extraordinaire, tries to settle into a quiet life of work to polish his cyber security skills after the death of his mother. Jacob is unaware that his growing reputation makes him a person of interest. Cyber-criminals are hunting for new recruits. They target this brilliant programmer to seduce him into joining their cause. More people are hunting him than just the Russian cyber kingpin. Jacob sets off to find those who are targeting him. He discovers he’s in the crosshairs of previously unknown global experts. Of course, having his identity erased puts him front and center above anything else.

Buzz, when looking for the easy way, makes a ghastly judgement error and inadvertently crosses the line to the darknet. He pleads to his best friend Jacob for help. Jacob, brilliant as he is, doesn’t have enough experience to help Buzz on his own. Jacob battles against global cyber masterminds using his knowledge of programming, identity theft, and hacking. He is pulled up short when his security knowledge is dwarfed following his introduction to the distractingly beautiful encryptionist Petra. Jacob’s challenge is how to keep ahead of the criminals and learn who to trust. In their debut TechnoThriller, The Enigma Factor, award-winning authors Breakfield and Burkey weave a complex tale of danger, intrigue, and international cyber combat. They use a relevant technology foundation, then layer on travel, romance, humor and mystery. Like rust, the cat and mouse game of the new cyber warfare age never sleeps.

The book is published by ICABOD Press and is available worldwide across all platforms including from Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and as an audiobook.

Charles Breakfield is a technology expert in security, networking, voice, and anything digital. Rox Burkey is a technology professional who excels at optimizing technology and business investments. Together these Texas authors create award-winning stories that resonate with males and females, as well as young and experienced adults.

(17) IN THE BEGINNING. Vice explains how “China Is Planning to Turn the Moon Into a Giant Space ‘Shield’”.

Chinese astronomers aim to peer for the first time into the cosmic “dark ages,” an unexplored era about 200 million years after the Big Bang, by using the Moon as a shield to block out noisy radio signals caused by human activity on Earth, reports the South China Morning Post.

The Discovering the Sky at the Longest Wavelength (DSL) mission envisions sending a fleet of satellites to the Moon that could capture ultralong radio waves made by hydrogen atoms in the darkness before cosmic dawn, when the first stars were born bursting with radiant light…. 

(18) A FULLY OPERATIONAL ASTRONOMICAL STATION. [Item by Chris Barkley.] The NASA article is from April 2020, but it’s a nice counterpoint to the Chinese mission…JUST LIKE For All Mankind!!! “NASA’s Plan to Turn the Moon Into a Telescope Looks Like the Death Star” at Vice.

Called the Lunar Crater Radio Telescope (LCRT), the proposal is the brainchild of Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay, a robotics technologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. On Tuesday, LCRT was selected for initial “Phase 1” funding ($125,000) by NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, which aims to explore advanced, far-future technologies.

LCRT is still in “very early stages of development,” said Bandyopadhyay in an email, noting that “the objective of Phase 1 is to study the feasibility of the LCRT concept.”

“[W]e will mostly be focusing on the mechanical design of LCRT, searching for suitable craters on the Moon, and comparing the performance of LCRT against other ideas that have been proposed in the literature,” he added.

Bandyopadhyay envisions building the LCRT in a crater that measures about three to five kilometers (two to three miles) in diameter. The telescope’s wire-mesh scaffolding could be delivered and erected by wall-climbing robots, such as NASA’s DuAxel rovers, which would be capable of scaling the vertical slopes of the crater…

…“LCRT could enable tremendous scientific discoveries in the field of cosmology by observing the early universe in the 10–50m wavelength band (i.e., 6–30MHz frequency band), which has not been explored by humans to date.”

In particular, the telescope could shed new light on the mysterious processes that occurred more than 13 billion years ago, as the first stars in the universe were being born, according to a 2018 paper led by Bandyopadhyay. It could also examine fine details about exoplanets that orbit other stars….

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers:  Mario Strikers:  Battle League,” the Screen Junkies say that this newest edition of the Mario franchise you can have your favorite Mario characters fight each other in a battle royale that’s vaguely like soccer except people actually score goals and you can drop kick your opponents into a giant banana.  “This is a fun family game to play together,” the narrator says, “which will naturally lead to you cussing out your friends and family while you’re in front of the TV.”

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

Pixel Scroll 8/9/22 Files Are A Glorious Pixel Of Scrolls, A Medley Of Fannish-Euphoria

(1) THE SAGA OF SF ON TV. “David Gerrold Talks Television: A Conversation with Peter Wood” at “From the Earth to the Stars”, the Asimov’s author and editor blog. Wood expects one story; Gerrold generously gives him a vast number of them, about Logan’s Run, Star Trek, Land of the Lost, and more.

Peter Wood:  So, you said you have a story for me (about “Man Out of Time,” the episode you wrote for the 1977 television serial Logan’s Run)?

David Gerrold:  It’s a couple stories.  The producer on the show was Len Katzman, and the executive producers, who I never met, were Goff and Roberts.  Now, I enjoyed working with Len Katzman.  He later went on to do Dallas, and he was a very, very nice man, and a very good producer.  And what I suggested was not just a time travel story but that we actually find sanctuary, and that this would give the show the opportunity to—once we had found that sanctuary was not real—stop searching for sanctuary and start being about rebuilding the connection between all the human settlements all over…. 

(2) Q&A ABOUT S&S. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Two interviews with Sword and Soul authors:

What are the most prominent influences on your writing? How do you incorporate those influences without being derivative?

I would say the two authors that influenced my writing style are James Baldwin and Frank Herbert. From James Baldwin I learned to be a precise and descriptive writer; from Frank Herbert I learned to be a meticulous world builder. I think I keep from being derivative by having my own concept of what I want my writing to be, and applying the lessons from these authors are just a part of that.

Milton J. Davis is a great guy. We were on a panel together at DisCon.

Oliver has a great time talking with Kirk A. Johnson about his new sword & soul story collection, The Obanaax and Other Tales of Heroes and Horrors.

We cover the afternoon movies which helped form Kirk’s idea of what heroes should be, his own first collision with Conan and Frazetta, why martial arts films were such a big thing in the black community back in the day, is Robin Hood S&S?, Fafhrd & Grey Mouser in The Wire…. [etc.]

(3) AIMS. Max Florschutz has a very interesting and nuanced article about an aid in devising characters:  “Being a Better Writer: Crafting Good Goals For Protagonists and Antagonists Alike” at Unusual Things.

…Indy’s goal in the film is twofold: Acquire the ark, and/or make sure the Nazi’s don’t get their hands on it. However, this goal isn’t his. Not originally. He only comes upon this goal because someone else brings it to him.

This is a goal that evolves around a character. Indy himself isn’t the one who places himself on the path. He chooses to accept it, yes. But he only is exposed to it because other characters have the goal and bring him onboard.

Some goals are like this. Goals that grow and shape not because our character made a choice, but because other characters have impacted them, and our character reacts accordingly, adjusting aims to try and meet the original goal under new circumstances.

But what about goals that evolve through a character? Well, let’s look at another aspect of Indiana established in Raiders. The viewer is shown that one of Indy‘s goals (not the people who hire him) is to preserve and save historical artifacts. Thus, there comes a point in the film where the goal he has been given from an external source—do not let the Nazi’s acquire the ark—comes into conflict with his own personal goal of preserving relics so they can be kept safe. Indy has to choose which goal to act on, to blow up the Ark of the Covenant with a rocket launcher to keep it out of Nazi hands … or to let them have it and preserve the relic, even if in the hands of evil. One of the antagonists, and Indy’s mirror darkly, even calls him out on this exact conundrum, and Indy chooses to “evolve” the goal he was given of “get the ark/don’t let the nazis have the ark” by cutting the latter half of the goal.

That might have read a little clunky, but I hope you get the idea. Some goals are external, pushed on the character by outside forces, while other goals are internal. Goals can evolve and change around a character as caused by the actions of others, or they can change and evolve through our character making choices or coming to realizations….

(4) LATINO REPRESENTATION DECLINES. “’Batgirl’ Cancellation, James Franco Show Hollywood’s Latino Erasure” reports Variety’s Clayton Davis.

It wasn’t a great week for Latinos in Hollywood, but I’m sure many of you knew that already.

Between Warner Bros. axing the release of “Batgirl” starring Leslie Grace, HBO Max canceling the coming-of-age comedy TV series “The Gordita Chronicles” and James Franco being cast as Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in an upcoming feature, Latinos are being mercilessly discarded and overlooked in the entertainment business. Worse yet, not many seem to care.

… The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative released its findings on the absence of Hispanic and Latino representation in the film industry in September 2021. Its findings were even worse than many suspected. An examination of the 1,300 top-grossing films released in the U.S. in the last 13 years found only six Afro-Latino lead or co-leads in the time period. Even more so, less than 5% of more than 52,000 characters examined had speaking parts.

Wouldn’t that have been a wake-up call? Obviously not….

(5) THERE’S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS. Also from Variety, the other cancelled Warner Bros. movie Scoob: Holiday Haunt had basically already rented the studio and the orchestra to record the score, when the cancellation news hit: “’Scoob!: Holiday Haunt’ Producer Records Score, Despite Cancellation”.

…Although recording a score for a film that will not be released isn’t exactly an ordinary practice, axing a film after the bulk of its production has already been completed — which was the case around “Scoob!: Holiday Haunt,” according to reports — isn’t ordinary either….

And this happened too: “Kevin Smith Bizarro Nicolas Cage Superman Canceled At HBO Max” according to Cosmic Book News.

Wow. This is a tough one, as Kevin Smith reveals his Strange Adventures episode featuring Bizarro Superman has been canceled at HBO Max, which of course follows Warner Bros. Discovery and CEO David Zaslav canceling Batgirl and Wonder Twins, among others.

What also really hurts is that Smith reveals he wanted Nicolas Cage to play the Bizarro Superman (Cage nearly played Superman in Smith’s defunct Superman Lives years ago), and Smith further reveals the budget of the episodes would have been really high – around $20million an episode – and to put that into perspective, The CW DC shows are only around $3-5 million, so Strange Adventures would have been something special….

(6) WHEN GRAVITY BAILS. “Megastructures ring the Earth in trailer for sci-fi film ‘Orbital’”. Space.com introduces the trailer:

…Hashem Al-Ghaili is a Yemeni molecular biotechnologist, science communicator, director and producer whose YouTube videos on scientific breakthroughs have been watched by millions. 

Now he’s written, directed, and created the special effects for “Orbital,” an upcoming indie sci-fi film about megastructures and orbital rings with incredible visual imagery that rival many mid-budget Hollywood productions. The film’s impressive trailer has already been viewed by 1.2 million fans on YouTube and the ambitious movie is expected to be released sometime in late 2022….

(7) “AND THEY’VE GONE WRONG!” The only remaining UK bookstore chain Waterstones has massive restocking issues after a warehouse computer system upgrade went wrong. The Guardian has details: “Waterstones hit by ‘nightmare’ stock issues after warehouse system upgrade”.

…The retailer, which has more than 300 stores across the UK, upgraded to a new system called Blue Yonder several weeks ago, but it has been struggling to get stock out to shops and fulfil customer orders.

A spokesperson from the chain said: “Waterstones last month upgraded the system that manages stock distribution from our warehouse to Blue Yonder technology. This is now operational, with stock flowing to our bookshops and customers. Over the implementation period, however, a backlog of orders was created which we are now processing as quickly as we can.”

… Sam Missingham, publishing commentator and founder of The Empowered Author book marketing service raised the issue on Twitter and was inundated with replies from frustrated staff, authors and customers.

One Waterstones bookseller wrote, “We haven’t had deliveries for over a month because there’s an overhaul of our system, but something has gone wrong and we are having to order emergency stock directly from the publishers. Glasgow ran out of books.”…

(8) VICTORIA AND ALBERT AND FRANKENSTEIN. “It’s a monster mash! How the V&A is facing a transatlantic battle over a 7ft Frankenstein figure” – in the Guardian.

…Is it natural history, though? Was the monster real? Not the point.

What is the point? That the NHM was given the monster, and the costume, by Universal Studios in 1935. It in turn lent it to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, where it was reported as being destroyed in 1967. So the NHM was a bit surprised when it showed up in the V&A in London.

It wants it back? Too right. It is demanding repatriation to California, “where it belongs”.

Basically the Elgin marbles, then, only more gothic. See also the Benin bronzes…. 

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1953 [By Cat Eldridge.] Ok I’m not saying it was a very serious genre film, but Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde did premiere sixty-nine years but as you’ll see in a bit it actually was liked quite a bit by the critics at the time. 

It was directed by Charles Lamont who had done several Abbott and Costello comedies already including Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man. The screenplay was by Lee Leob who would later write Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (yes, there’s a theme here) andJohn Grant who also wrote Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man, along with Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and, I kid you not, Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff. They were all very popular.

Though it had a “PG” rating here, the censors in Britain weren’t happy with it. It received an “X” rating it there because of the scenes with Mr. Hyde. And that was not Karloff as Hyde though he credited as such in the film. Once the transformation was complete, Hyde was played by stuntman Eddie Parker, who was uncredited in the film. 

An opening night review by the Los Angeles Times was most complimentary: “Robert Louis Stevenson is turning over in his grave, it’s probably only so he can get in a more comfortable position for a belly laugh.” And likewise Film Daily liked it when they saw it at a preview: “If the audience reaction at a sneak preview can be taken as a criterion, then Universal-International has another big treat for the Abbott and Costello fans.” Interestingly reviewers linked to Rotten Tomatoes really don’t like it at all.

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a rather decent sixty-two percent rating. 

Please do not offer up links to YouTube copies of it as it still under copyright and we will delete your comment. The Movie Channel, a unit of Paramount, owns the copyright. It actually runs there from time as do all of the Abbott and Costello comedies. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 9, 1914 Tove Jansson. Swedish speaking Finnish artist wrote the Moomin books for children, starting in 1945 with Småtrollen och den stora översvämninge (The Moomins and the Great Flood). Over the next decades, there would be a total of nineteen books. Currently Moominvalley, the animated series, is playing on Netflix. And Terry Pratchett in “My family and other Moomins: Rhianna Pratchett on her father’s love for Tove Jansson” credited her for him becoming a fiction writer. (Died 2001.)
  • Born August 9, 1927 Daniel Keyes. Flowers for Algernon was a novel that I read in my teens. Two of the teachers decided that SF was to be the assigned texts for that school year and that was one of them. I don’t now remember if I liked it or not (A Clockwork Orange was another text they assigned along with something by Heinlein that I don’t remember) nor have I ever seen Charly. I see he has three other genre novels, none that I’ve heard of. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 9, 1930 D.G. Compton, 92. SWFA Author Emeritus whose The Steel Crocodile was nominated for the Nebula Award. The Unsleeping EyeThe Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe in the U.K., was filmed as Death Watch which the Audience Reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes actually like giving it a 60% rating. His two Alec Jordan near future police stories are superb. 
  • Born August 9, 1944 Sam Elliott, 78. Weirdly the source for this Birthday thought he’d only been in one genre role, General Thaddeus E. “Thunderbolt” Ross in the 2003 Hulk film, but he’s got many other roles as well. His first was Lock in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. He’s the Phantom Rider in Ghost Rider and Lee Scoresby in The Golden Compass. His latest genre is as the lead in The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot as Calvin Barr. Not even vaguely genre adjacent, but he’s in the exemplary Tombstone as Virgil Earp.
  • Born August 9, 1947 John Varley, 75. One of those authors that I’ve been meaning to read more of. I read both The Ophiuchi Hotline and Titan, the first novels respectively in his Eight Worlds and the Gaea Trilogy series, but didn’t go further. (See books, too many to read.) If you’ve read beyond the first novels, how are they as series? Worth pursuing now? He was nominated for quite a few Hugos with wins coming at Heicon ‘70 for “The Persistence of Vision” novella, Chicon IV for “The Pusher” short story and at Aussiecon Two for “Press Enter []” short story. 
  • Born August 9, 1949 Jonathan Kellerman, 73. Author of two novels so far in the Jacob Lev series (co-authored with Jesse Kellerman), The Golem of Hollywood and The Golem of Paris. I’ve read the first — it was quite excellent with superb characters and an original premise. Not for the squeamish mind you.
  • Born August 9, 1956 Adam Nimoy, 66. Son of Leonard Nimoy and the actress Sandra Zober who pre-deceased Nimoy. His wife is Terry Farrell.  He’s directed episodes of Babylon 5Next GenerationThe Outer Limits (he directed his father in the “I, Robot” episode), and Sliders. He’s responsible for For the Love of Spock, a documentary about his father. 
  • Born August 9, 1968 Gillian Anderson, 54. The ever skeptical, well most of the time, Special Agent Dana Scully on X-Files. Played Media on American Gods. And she played Kate Flynn in Robot Overlords. Did you know she’s co-authored a X-File-ish trilogy, The EarthEnd Saga, with Jeff Rovin? 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Poorly Drawn Lines brings us a dire warning!

(12) PULP VISIONS. William Lampkin shares photos from “PulpFest 50: Thursday” at Yellowed Perils. One of them includes Rick Lai, who later won this year’s Munsey Award. “Rick Lai, Win Scott Eckert, and Frank Schildiner discuss Philip José Farmer’s Lord Grandrith, Doc Caliban, and Lovecraft…”

 (13) THE MOST TOYS. Geek. Dad. Life. reports about Power-Con, a toy collector convention in Columbus, Ohio: 

(14) GENCON BOUND. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The Rogues in the House podcast shares some interviews from GenCon: “The Rogues on Hallowed Ground”. Includes a Baen editor pimping Larry Correia’s books — Baen is apparently moving into sword and sorcery.

Rogues, old and new, meet at the mecca known as GenCon. In this very special episode, Deane and Matt are joined by Howard Andrew Jones, Seth Lindberg, Steve Diamond, Sean CW Korsgaard, Jason Ray Carney, and (shudders) The Magician’s Skull himself. Topics include sword and sorcery (of course) as well as our “top picks” from GenCon.

(15) CIRCLE UP! Space Cowboy Books invites fans to their online Flash SF Night reading with Avra Margariti, Mary Soon Lee, Charlie Jane Anders on Tuesday, August 23 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free at the link.

Join us online for an evening of short science fiction readings with authors Avra Margariti, Mary Soon Lee, and Charlie Jane Anders. Flash Science Fiction Nights run 30 minutes or less, and are a fun and great way to learn about new authors from around the world.

(16) BE CAREFUL OUT THERE. Camestros Felapton reviews the new Predator prequel. “Review: Prey (Hulu/Disney+)”.

…However, it is the strange weather phenomenon and her hunter’s intuition that leads her to conclude that there is something out there worse than a mountain lion or a bear. Of course, we know what it is, a strange and remorseless killing machine known in popular culture as “European colonialism”, also a weird alien dude with laser sights, heat vision and invisibility.

Naru, her fellow hunters and her dog (who keeps stealing the show) have to contend with the twin existential threats in what becomes a protracted conflict of attrition….

(17) ALLS WELL THAT ENDS WELLS. Arturo Serrano admires the author’s take on a story originated by H. G. Wells: “Review: The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia” at Nerds of a Feather.

Is this novel a retelling, a remake, a reimagining, a reboot, a requel? I’d call it a reclaiming.

The original book that inspired it, The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells, bears several hallmarks typical of Victorian adventure fiction: a properly educated Englishman ventures into the scary jungle and is quickly forced to dodge the infighting of the locals before he makes an eager return to modern civilization. In a new version of the story, The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, author Silvia Moreno-Garcia takes that premise and turns it on its head: no, when the white man sets foot in the tropic, the dangerous thing about that interaction is not the tropic; no, the locals are not aggressive by nature, but they won’t take kindly to attempts at enslavement; and no, home sweet home is not only to be found in the drawing rooms of Europe….

(18) A SUPERIOR MIXTURE. Paul Weimer weighs in about a first-contact novel with “Microreview: A Half-Built Garden by Ruthanna Emrys” for Nerds of a Feather.

A Half-Built Garden distinguishes itself as a first contact novel unlike any either by virtue of its temporal and political setting. First contact stories that take place in the modern day are a dime a dozen and a cliche even in movies. First contact stories set in the past are a minor note in the genre of SF, but much more common  is future first contact, but with humans as an interplanetary if not an interstellar species. 

What Emrys does here is have first contact on Earth, in a late 21st Century Earth that is trying to recover from the mess of earlier decades and find a sustainably way forward. While there is a boomlet of novels that are set in this low-to-medium term future and exploring the many ways our world might go forward, good, bad, mixed, or bad, mixing in a first contact story is adding peanut butter to that chocolate and enhances both….

(19) CLASSIC PROPS.  In this clip from 2016, Adam Savage visits Peter Jackson’s collection of movie props, including the eye from the HAL 9000 computer from 2001.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers:  Multiversus,” Fandom Games says this celebrity death match game is only interesting for people who would wonder what powers Shaggy from Scooby-Doo could have if he chowed down on dog steroids.  But the narrator says he hopes Universal would do its own version so he could see Vin Diesel fight Shrek.  “I could watch this all day!” the narrator says.

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

Pixel Scroll 8/2/22 I Took My Files Down To Jaxom’s Ruth (You Know That Dragon With The Pixeled Tooth)

(1) WITNESS FOR THE PLAINTIFF. Stephen King took the stand today and AP News was there: “Stephen King testifies for government in books merger trial”.

…King’s displeasure about the proposed merger led him to voluntarily testify for the government.

“I came because I think that consolidation is bad for competition,” King said. The way the industry has evolved, he said, “it becomes tougher and tougher for writers to find money to live on.”

King expressed skepticism toward the two publishers’ commitment to continue to bid for books separately and competitively after a merger.

“You might as well say you’re going to have a husband and wife bidding against each other for the same house,” he quipped. “It would be sort of very gentlemanly and sort of, ‘After you’ and ‘After you,’” he said, gesturing with a polite sweep of the arm.

King’s was entertaining and informative, although he had little specific to say over how the merger might harm bestselling authors, with the government’s case focusing on those receiving advances of $250,000 or more. Attorney Daniel Petrocelli, representing the publishers, told King he had no questions for him and demurred on a cross-examination, saying instead he hoped they could have coffee together some time….

(2) BAIL OUT. Costume Con 40 chair Sarah Richardson is trying to raise $80,000 to pay a large penalty owed to their facility because of the shortfall in meeting their room rental commitment: “Covid-19 Relief for Costume-Con 40”. (On the other hand, some are advising the concom to work with an attorney who specializes bankruptcy.)

…Because of the sudden cancellation of Costume-Con 38 and the rescheduling of Costume-Con 39, we lost any potential advertising and seed money that might have been generated by those events. So far, we have been able to cover all our expenses except one, the venue cost.

Many of our attendees, especially our international members, were unable to attend due to Covid travel restrictions were levied right before the convention. Because of this, over a fourth of our registered members (100+ people) were not able to attend. This led to our not meeting the room night obligations in our contract, and so we must pay a hefty “attrition” penalty. We have been negotiating since April with the hotel to resolve this outstanding balance and continue to do so.

This is where we need your help. As a small, volunteer-run non-profit, we are turning to our community and putting out a request for monetary donations to help defray this debt. Any amount will be a help to us. And we intend, should we exceed our goal of retiring this particular debt, to “pay it forward” to next year’s Costume-Con and thus further ease the financial strain caused by the pandemic. Remember, we are a 501(c)3 non-profit and would be happy to issue a receipt for tax purposes.

(3) THAT’S CLAWFUL. Cora Buhlert sent He-Man and friends on a beach holiday and posted another action figure photo story on her blog: “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Holiday on Orkas Island’”.

In the 1980s Filmation cartoon, Clawful looks quite different from his toy counterpart, probably because the cartoon was based on an early prototype. He also seems to be one of a kind. However, the 2002 He-Man cartoon reveals that there is a whole species of lobster people out there and that they hail from a place called Orkas Island, which also happens to be the retirement home of an aged warrior called Dekker, Duncan’s former mentor and predecessor at Man-at-Arms.

So I decided to send Prince Adam, Teela and Man-at-Arms on a well-deserved holiday and have Clawful and his fellow aquatic Evil Warrior Mer-Man cause some trouble. I also got out a bunch of maritime themed objects to serve as props….

(4) HE FIGURES IT OUT. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Here is a video by a toy collector and YouTuber named Pixel Dan who wound up as a panelist on the He-Man 40th anniversary panel at San Diego Comic Con (he wrote a collector’s guide to Masters of the Universe toys). He offers a rare look at what the infamous Hall H looks like backstage and on stage. His enthusiasm is certainly infectious. Plus, bonus interview with Kevin Smith who moderated the panel.

(5) PEOPLE WHO NEED PEOPLE. Kim Bannerman wrote a nice profile of Zenna Henderson at Luna Station Quarterly“The Improbable Worlds of Zenna Henderson”.

…Henderson’s experiences as a teacher would influence her writing throughout her career. In her 1952 short story “Ararat”, aliens marooned on Earth are searching for a new teacher to guide their children; all the other teachers have been scared away by the children’s telekinetic powers. This story was the first in a series that featured ‘The People’, a community of gentle humanoids trying to survive on Earth.

The People are isolated, lonely individuals seeking safety and community, and they must suppress their inherent gifts in order to be accepted by human society. Instead of focusing on conquest and war, Henderson’s stories examine the quiet, personal lives of The People…. 

(6) CARS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] We had a small science fiction fayre down our way here in Brit Cit. Stalls with SF miniatures, playing card collectables abounded. Sadly, no second-hand book stall (which, on second thoughts, did save a couple of hours of my time). Nor did there seem to be a tie-in with our local film memorabilia and gaming shop, The Movie Shack: even though it was just twenty yards away inside our indoors shopping precinct. However, in the mix was a Ghostbusters marshmallow man and car, and there was also a Back to the Future DeLorean: it was one way to beat the Worldcon queues — the last time a Back to the Future DeLorean was on Worldcon show…

(7) THE BIRD IS THE WORD. Sarah Z delivers “An Exhaustive Defense of Fanfiction” in a new YouTube video.

On art, transformativity, and the literary wonders of putting your middle finger up at preps.

(8) NEW FROM LEONARD MALTIN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to the podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Michael Uslan.  Although Leonard Maltin and Uslan never met, they quickly determined they were the same age, were both guys from Jersey (Uslan’s from exit 105) who developed obsessions very early (Maltin with animation, Uslan with comics) and both were probably two rows away from each other at a notorious  1966 screening of the 1943 Batman serial at Manhattan’s Eighth Street Playhouse where the audience got rowdier and rowdier as the film got stinkier and stinkier.

Uslan grew up with comic books and read everything.  But the event that changed him was in 1972 when he successfully proposed what became the first university course on comic book at Indiana University.  This led to his getting calls from Stan Lee and Sol Harrison at DC.  He first did scripts (He proudly remembers Julius Schwartz telling him. “Your story doesn’t stink:” when he did a story for The Shadow).  In 1979 he acquired the movie rights to Batman and spent ten years in development until Tim Burton’s film came out.  He has been an executive producer on every Batman project since, including Lego Batman.  He also got DC to give him the movie rights to Swamp Thing for free if he agreed to spend $15,000 on the character, which led to two Swamp Thing movies in the 1980s.

Uslan says he likes the takes Michael Keaton, Christian Bale, and Robert Pattinson have done with the character and people shouldn’t complain about a film until they’ve seen it.  Leonard Maltin quoted Harlan Ellison, “You have the right to your informed opinion.”  He has two volumes of memoirs about his life with Batman and a Broadway play in development.  In addition, Uslan is an executor of Stan Lee’s estate and is working on Lee’s forthcoming centennial celebration. Maltin on Movies: Michael Uslan.

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

1986 [By Cat Eldridge.] Since we just discussed the Grateful Dead by way of the Jerry Garcia birthday write-up, let’s talk about a novel, that according to the author in an email received just now was indeed named after a Dead song. (Yes, he is one of the writers that gets dark chocolate.) 

There are certain novels that I return to from time to time and Steve Brust’s Brokedown Palace is one of them. It’s the only stand-alone novel set in Dragaera series, which runs currently to over twenty five novels. (I’ve read quite a few of them.) It leads off the series. It is also notable for being set in Fenario, the human-populated portion of that world.

The novel is heavily influenced by Hungarian myth and culture, not surprising giving that Brust is of Hungarian descent.  Brust uses that tradition’s folklore to great effect while combining it with family dynamics  King László, the oldest of the brothers, is a fair and just ruler along the Princies of the Lands. All live in Brokedown Palace.

Once upon a time, there were four brothers who lived in the land of Fenario. These were the King and Princes of the land, and they lived together in the decrepit Old Palace in the center of the city of Fenario. Ahhh but things are not as they seem as things well become very complicated… I won’t say more than that as it’d spoil things if you’ve not read it yet. 

This is a more complex novel than Brust usually writes and the characters here actually have more agency, more feel of being actual individuals  than that they usually get in his novels. That’s a reflection of it being a family-based novel so it feels more intimate than usual.

The wonderful cover art on the first edition is by Alan Lee. Since the art on the actual first edition is obscured by title text and other typography, we’re using the version on a later edition to display it. (ISFDB has the real first edition cover here.)

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 2, 1917 Wah Chang. Co-founder in the late 1950s, with Gene Warren and Tim Baar, of Project Unlimited Inc, the first true special effects company. They provided the effects for numerous George Pal productions, including The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, Jack the Giant Killer, and The Time Machine (for which they won an Academy Award, although Chang’s name was erroneously omitted). Wang and his fellow Projects coworkers did essentially all of the effects for the original Outer Limits television series. Perhaps most famously, Chang created some of the best-known effects for the original Star Trek, including the communicator, the tricorder, the Romulan Bird of Prey, the Tribbles, and numerous aliens, although he did not receive screen credit for any of this work. A talented artist, later in life he gained reknown as a wildlife sculptor. (Died 2003.) (PhilRM)
  • Born August 2, 1920 Theodore Marcuse. He was Korob in “Catspaw”, a second season Trek episode written by Robert Bloch that aired just before Halloween aptly enough. He had appearances in The Twilight Zone (“The Trade-Ins” and “To Serve Man”), Time TunnelVoyage to the Bottom of the SeaWild Wild West and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in the episodes “The Re-collectors Affair”, “The Minus-X Affair”, and “The Pieces of Fate Affair”. (Died 1967.)
  • Born August 2, 1932 Peter O’Toole. I’m tempted to say his first genre role was playing King Henry in A Lion in Winter as it is alternate history. It really is despite some of you saying it isn’t. Neat film. Well the original is, the second, not so much. Stewart just doesn’t work in that role for me. Actually before that he’s got an uncredited role in Casino Royale as a Scottish piper. Really he does. His first genre role without dispute is as Zaltar in Supergirl followed by being Dr. Harry Wolverine in Creator. He’s Peter Plunkett in the superb High Spirits, he’s in FairyTale: A True Story as a very credible Arthur Conan Doyle, and Stardust as King of Stormhold. Not surprisingly, he played in a version of Midsummer Night’s Dream as Lysander. (Died 2013.)
  • Born August 2, 1948 Robert Holdstock. Another one who died far too young. His Ryhope Wood series is simply amazing with Lavondyss being my favorite volume. And let’s not overlook his Merlin Codex series which is one of the more original takes on that character I’ve read. The Ragthorn, co-written with Garry Kilworth, is interesting as well. Tor, which has the rights to him in the States, has been slow to bring him to the usual suspects. (Died 2009.)
  • Born August 2, 1954 Ken MacLeod, 68. Sometimes I don’t realize until I do a Birthday note just how much I’ve read of a certain author. And so it was of this author. I’ve read the entire Fall Revolution series, not quite all of the Engines of Light Trilogy, just the first two of the Corporation Wars but I’ve got it in my to-be-finished queue, and every one of his one-off novels save Descent. His Restoration Game is quite chilling.  I should go find his Giant Lizards from Another Star collection as I’ve not read his short fiction. Damn it’s not available from the usual suspects! Hugo Award wise, he didn’t win any but had some nominations. The Sky Road was nominated at the Millennium Philcon, Cosmonaut Keep at ConJosé and Learning the World at L.A. Con IV. 
  • Born August 2, 1956 Leslie Ackerman, 66. She is best remembered for her role as the waitress in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine 1996 episode “Trials and Tribble-ations”. She also showed on the rebooted Twilight Zone as Time-Traveller in the “Lost and Found”.  She was on The Incredible Hulk and Project UFO.  She retired from acting several years after filming “Trials and Tribble-ations”.
  • Born August 2, 1970 Kevin Smith, 52. Well-loved comics writer who’s worked for DC, Marvel and other venues. He was involved with both Daredevil and Green Arrow. He directed the pilot for the CW supernatural comedy series Reaper, produced and appeared in a reality television series, Comic Book Men, and appeared as a character in the animated Superman: Doomsday.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • In The Far Side, an archeologist has dug up someone familiar, He’s not Yorick, but you knew him well.  

(12) GREEN TOWN. Wauke-Con 2022, Waukegan’s second annual comic book convention in Ray Bradbury’s home town, will take place October 8-9. The proceeds benefit Three Bros. Theatre.

(13) TURN OFF THE BATLIGHT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Warner Discovery won’t release Batgirl and has blown off the $70 million spent on it because the new regime doesn’t think the film works. “’Batgirl’ movie gets ‘shelved’ by Warner Bros: source” reports the New York Post.

Holy millions down the drain, Batman! 

The DC Comics film “Batgirl” will be completely “shelved” by Warner Bros., a top Hollywood source told The Post. 

That means it won’t hit theaters or the streaming service HBO Max. Fans will not see it.

The reportedly $70 million movie (the source said the budget was actually more than $100 million), which was doing test screenings for audiences in anticipation of a late 2022 debut, would rank among the most expensive cinematic castoffs ever.  

Those tests were said to be so poorly received by moviegoers that the studio decided to cut its losses and run, for the sake of the brand’s future. It’s a DC disaster….

(14) THE DOOR INTO BUMMER. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] I found this USA Today headline funny for all the wrong reasons: “Fact check: Scientists at CERN are not opening a ‘portal to hell’”.

… The accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, had undergone repairs and upgrades, and scientists plan to use it to crash protons together and learn more about the origins of the universe.

Nevertheless, social media users are suggesting that the machine has a different purpose. A Facebook post shared July 5 shows a TikTok video of a woman who claims that CERN scientists are using the machine to open a doorway for demons.

“If y’all don’t know about cern it’s a demonic/Evil machine that opens up portals to other dimensions/Hell/other spiritual worlds(not Heaven/or bosom of Abraham)and it brings in demons wicked spirits/High Evil Principalities,” reads the caption of the post….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Stray,” Fandom Games, in a spoiler-filled episode, says that Stray is “A playable Internet cat video, wrapped around a cyberpunk dystopia” but the least realistic thing about it is that the cat follows a robot’s instructions, because a real cat would “ignore you for four hours and then throw up on your carpet.”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Jennifer Hawthorne, Cora Buhlert, PhilRM, Todd Mason, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 7/26/22 Pixel 54, Where Are You?

(1) CALL FOR ATTITUDE CHANGE. Robert Zubrin and two associates discuss the search for life on Mars in the New Atlantis. “How to Search for Life on Mars” – “First, stop refusing to look.”

… The search for life ought to be the great passion animating Mars exploration. But it has not been a goal for NASA. In fact, NASA’s public relations department frequently claims that the agency’s Mars exploration program is meant to “seek signs of life.” They say this because they know that it is what the public is — rightly — interested in. Unfortunately, the claim just isn’t true. NASA’s Mars robotic exploration program is actually focused on geological research, while its planned human Mars exploration program — inasmuch as it exists at all — is not being designed to properly support scientific exploration of any kind.

The last time our space agency conducted experiments to identify signs of living microbes on the planet was in 1976. The 2012 Curiosity rover was meant only to find out “if Mars was ever able to support microbial life,” and the 2021 Perseverance mission was to collect geological samples for later retrieval and perhaps find signs of ancient life — neither aimed at finding living things on the planet today….

(2) DREAMHAVEN MURAL. A bit of criminal activity almost stalled today’s plans to keep painting the DreamHaven Books mural. First they announced.

Things were going so well with the mural but now someone came in the middle of the night and stole the scaffolding.

However, later they had good news:

UN-FUCK! We found the scaffolding. Some asshole wheeled it off behind a nearby building. A neighbor saw it happen and knew vaguely where it had been taken. We already had new scaffolding being delivered and I was planning to spend the night to ensure it stayed in place. I’m still staying tonight. Mark is doing Cheech Wizard right now and Little Nemo and backgrounds tomorrow.

(3) BARS TO PUBLISHING. Pamela Paul says “There’s More Than One Way to Ban a Book” in an opinion piece for the New York Times.

…Though the publishing industry would never condone book banning, a subtler form of repression is taking place in the literary world, restricting intellectual and artistic expression from behind closed doors, and often defending these restrictions with thoughtful-sounding rationales. As many top editors and publishing executives admit off the record, a real strain of self-censorship has emerged that many otherwise liberal-minded editors, agents and authors feel compelled to take part in.

Over the course of his long career, John Sargent, who was chief executive of Macmillan until last year and is widely respected in the industry for his staunch defense of freedom of expression, witnessed the growing forces of censorship — outside the industry, with overt book-banning efforts on the political right, but also within the industry, through self-censorship and fear of public outcry from those on the far left.

“It’s happening on both sides,” Sargent told me recently. “It’s just a different mechanism. On the right, it’s going through institutions and school boards, and on the left, it’s using social media as a tool of activism. It’s aggressively protesting to increase the pain threshold, until there’s censorship going the other way.”

In the face of those pressures, publishers have adopted a defensive crouch, taking pre-emptive measures to avoid controversy and criticism. Now, many books the left might object to never make it to bookshelves because a softer form of banishment happens earlier in the publishing process: scuttling a project for ideological reasons before a deal is signed, or defusing or eliminating “sensitive” material in the course of editing….

(4) A WINK IS AS GOOD AS A NOD. Hunter Liguore tells SFWA Blog readers about “Writing Eyebrows: How to Orchestrate Emotion in Your Story”.

…What is often missed in the early drafting of characters is the up-close observation necessary to fully render their emotional expression, which in turn accentuates their uniqueness. One way we can develop our characters is to consider the individuality and expression of a character’s eyebrows. 

Eyebrows can be an important window into a character’s interior world. When we scrutinize with words the detail of movement and expression individual to each person, we create an orchestration, a living symphony of movement and energy, indicative of a living world. To do this takes attention, rumination, and concentrated focus on the people we’re writing….

(5) IN THE PIPELINE. Andrew Porter shared this list of titles from the late Eric Flint that have already been delivered and are on the schedule for Baen, which he received from Toni Weisskopf.

July 2022
1812: The Rivers of War-first Baen publication, trade pb

August 2022
The Crossing by Kevin Ikenberry-hardcover (not by Eric, but an Assiti Shards novel)

September 2022
To End in Fire by David Weber & Eric Flint-mass market reprint
1637: Dr. Gribbleflotz and the Soul of Stoner by Kerryn Offord & Rick Boatwright-mass market reprint

November 2022
1637: The Transylvanian Decision by Eric Flint & Robert Waters-hardcover

January 2023
Grantville Gazette IX-mass market reprint

April 2023
1637: The Coast of Chaos by Eric Flint et al.-mass market reprint

September 2023
1638: The Siberian Enterprise by Eric Flint, Paula Goodlett & Gorg Huff-hardcover

(6) FLORIDA MAN. “Man breaks into Space Force base to warn of alien-dragon war” reports Task & Purpose.

Since the Space Force was established in 2019, there has been the lingering question of what, exactly, it does. 

One would certainly hope that the branch would be heavily involved in a theoretical battle between aliens and dragons in space. The occurrence of which, apparently, one helpful citizen was trying to warn the Space Force about last week. 

At Patrick Space Force Base, Corey Johnson, 29, was arrested for trying to enter the installation. The reason? According to what he told arresting officers, he was there on behalf of the President to alert the Space Force that there were “US aliens fighting with Chinese dragons.”…

(7) THE ULTIMATE SPACE RACE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The space battle between the U.S. and the USSR is explained by Ambient Press in less than three minutes!

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

2022 [By Cat Eldridge.] Green Lantern: Beware My Power (2022). I forgot that had preordered this animated DC film some months ago until I got an email a few hours ago that it was available for download. I’m a big fan of Green Lantern and very much enjoyed the animated series and abhorred the live film (I made maybe twenty minutes into it before giving up), so I figured that I’d like it based on the trailer that I watched on iTunes.

So I downloaded it to my iPad and started watching it. It’s the forty eighth film in the DC Animated Movie Universe influenced predominantly by The New 52 which rebooted the DC Universe. No, I’ve seen all of them by any means! 

The animation style is a clean, adult style affair and the language is too with an occasional “shit” allowed. It’s a strong PG-13 and you can see the trailer trail here.

John Stewart is a black marine sniper, voiced here by Aldis Hodge (playing Hawkman in Black Adam) who is given a Lantern Ring by a dying member of the Lantern Corps. He’s not at all happy about that as he’s forsworn violence, and doesn’t have a clue what the Lanterns are. Furthermore the mission here isn’t really explained at all, and I’ve avoiding spoilers, so he and Green Arrow plus Hawkgirl figure out things as they go along.

It was directed by Wamester from a stellar screenplay by E. J. Altbacker and John Semper. The former was involved with the Green Lantern: The Animated Series; the latter wrote for a Cyborg series.

I highly recommend it. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 26, 1894 Aldous Huxley. Brave New World is fascinating. I knew I had it assigned and sort of discussed in a High School class and at least one Uni class a very long time ago. So what else is genre by him and worth reading? I see his Time Must Have a Stop novel was on the longlist at CoNZealand. (Died 1963.)
  • Born July 26, 1928 Stanley Kubrick. I’m reasonably sure 2001: A Space Odyssey was the first film I saw by him but Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb was the one that impressed me the most. A Clockwork Orange was just too damn depressing. And I’m not a horror fan as such so I never saw The ShiningBarry Lyndon is great but it’s not genre by any means. (Died 1999.)
  • Born July 26, 1945 Helen Mirren, 77. She first graces our presences as Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She next shows up in a genre role as Alice Rage in The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, Peter Sellars’s last film. She’s an ever so delicious Morgana in Excalibur and then leaps into the future as Tanya Kirbuk in 2010: The Year We Make Contact. She voices the evil lead role in The Snow Queen, and likewise is Deep Thought in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • Born July 26, 1945 M. John Harrison, 77. Winner of the Otherwise Award. TheViriconium sequence, I hesitate to call it a series, starting with The Pastel City, is some of the most elegant fantasy I’ve read. And I see he’s a SJW as he’s written the Tag, the Cat series which I need to take a look at again. He’s also been a major critic for the past thirty years reviewing fiction and nonfiction for The GuardianThe Daily Telegraph, the Times Literary Supplement and The New York Times. He’s lightly stocked at the usual suspects though TheViriconium sequence is there at a very reasonable price.  And his short stories are excellent, so may I recommend Settling the World: Selected Stories 1970-2020?
  • Born July 26, 1954 Lawrence Watt-Evans, 68. Ok I’ll admit as I’ve said before that I’ve not read “Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers” which won him a short fiction Hugo at Conspiracy ’87. It also was nominated for a Nebula and won an Asimov’s Reader’s Poll that year. It’d be his only Hugo. So I’m curious what Hugo voters saw in it. Yes, I’ve read him — his War Surplus series is quite excellent.
  • Born July 26, 1978 Eve Myles, 44. She’s a a Welsh actress from Ystradgynlais, convenient as she played Gwen Cooper on Torchwood which was set in and shot in Cardiff. She previously played the servant girl Gwyneth in the Doctor Who episode “The Unquiet Dead” during the Ninth Doctor’s time. 

(10) BOOK TRAILER. Giant Island by World Fantasy Award Lifetime Achievement winner Jane Yolen and award-winning fantasy illustrator Doug Keith will be released in August.

Two children explore the caves and coves of the tiny and oddly-named Giant Island. Under Grandpa’s watchful eye, Ava, Mason, and dog Cooper finally fathom that the island is much more than it seems: the craggy rocks, windswept trees, and unusual grotto are all parts of a submerged giant. Yolen’s text charms with hints of age-old magic and pays tribute to mystery, curiosity, and friendship. Keith’s wondrous watercolor paintings invite young readers to pore over the pages to discover the clues to this “huge” secret. Giant Island is a delightful, intergenerational and interspecies adventure for all ages.

(11) YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH. Arturo Serrano’s “Microreview: Drunk on All Your Strange New Words by Eddie Robson” discusses a “thriller set mostly inside the mind” at Nerds of a Feather.

In the near future, Earth has established diplomatic relations with aliens known as Logi, sort-of-but-not-quite humanoids who cannot speak in sound and use telepathy instead. To facilitate the daily business of politics, some humans are trained in specialized schools to understand Logi telepathy and translate into human speech. Each Logi visitor is thus paired with a human interpreter who accompanies them at their official appearances and handles their routine communication with Earth governments.

The catch? The Logi language does funny things to the human brain. After a few minutes of hosting alien thoughts in your head, you start feeling drunk. Too much talking in one day, and you might pass out.

So when our protagonist Lydia, the interpreter assigned to the Logi cultural attaché, wakes up from a massive blackout to find her boss murdered on his sofa, she has to quickly decide whom to trust and whom to suspect, because this is a future where impressions are everything, and the wording of a message can have rippling effects on public opinion.

(12) GAMING FOR THE HIGHEST STAKES. SPARK stands for Solar Prime Augmented Reality Park, a destination for gamers in Pat Daily’s debut novel.

In his mother’s last letter, she wrote, “Find me. Save me.” And Will Kwan had heard those words before. He’d heard them in a video game. Solar Prime Augmented Reality Park, or SPARK, is a theme park for gamers: a sprawling virtual reality complex with quests and games that appeal to all ages. But beneath the surface, SPARK harbors many a secret. When sixteen-year-old Will has to escape the foster system, SPARK is his destination. “Find me. Save me.” What had his mother meant? At SPARK, he runs headlong into the force of nature known as Feral Daughter, another runaway who has chosen to make SPARK her home and her life. As their friendship grows, Will begins to walk a path that will unveil not only the secrets of SPARK, but also a whole new perception of his world. So when terrorists threaten his new home and new friend, Will cannot stand idly by. Can Will finally get his closure? Or will SPARK be destroyed, along with the new life he has built?

Pat Daily is an engineer and former Air Force test pilot who worked at NASA’s Johnson Space Center on both the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs. When not writing or trying to bring new airplane designs to life, Pat can be found gaming online. He is a fan of role-playing games – particularly open worlds with engaging storylines where actions have consequences.

Available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

(13) DIVIDE WITHOUT CONQUERING. The New York Times explains why “Splitting T. Rex Into 3 Species Becomes a Dinosaur Royal Rumble”.

The world’s most iconic dinosaur is undergoing an identity crisis.

In February, a team of scientists posited that Tyrannosaurus rex was actually three distinct species. Instead of there being only one sovereign “tyrant lizard king,” their paper made the case for a royal family of supersized predators. Joining the king in the genus Tyrannosaurus would be the bulkier and older emperor, T. imperator, and the slimmer queen, T. regina.

The proposed T. rex reclassification struck the paleontology community like an asteroid, igniting passionate debates. On Monday, another team of paleontologists published the first peer-reviewed counterattack.

“The evidence was not convincing and had to be responded to because T. rex research goes well beyond science and into the public sphere,” said Thomas Carr, a paleontologist at Carthage College in Wisconsin and an author of the new rebuttal. “It would have been unreasonable to leave the public thinking that the multiple species hypothesis was fact.”

The earlier team of researchers have anticipated the rebuttal, which was published in the journal Evolutionary Biology. Gregory Paul, one of the authors of the original study, is working on another paper and says many of the rebuttal’s claims are outlandish…..

(14) THE NOIVE. “Polish Institute Classifies Cats as Alien Invasive Species” says Slashdot.

A respected Polish scientific institute has classified domestic cats as an “invasive alien species,” citing the damage they cause to birds and other wildlife…

(15) ONCE AGAIN, WHERE DOES IT RAIN? [Item by Danny Sichel.] Last month, psycholinguist Anne Cutler died, and renewed attention was given to her 1994 paper The perception of rhythm in language, which at two and a half pages long is the greatest scientific paper ever written.

Read it, and see how long it takes you to understand why it’s so great: “The perception of rhythm in language”.

(16) STONE AGE INTERNET. Open Culture invites you to “Watch the First Movie Ever Streamed on the Net: Wax or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees (1991)”.

When the World Wide Web made its public debut in the early nineteen-nineties, it fascinated many and struck some as revolutionary, but the idea of watching a film online would still have sounded like sheer fantasy. Yet on May 23rd, 1993, reported the New York Times‘ John Markoff, “a small audience scattered among a few dozen computer laboratories gathered” to “watch the first movie to be transmitted on the Internet — the global computer network that connects millions of scientists and academic researchers and hitherto has been a medium for swapping research notes and an occasional still image.”

That explanation speaks volumes about how life online was perceived by the average New York Times reader three decades ago. But it was hardly the average New York Times reader who tuned into the internet’s very first film screening, whose feature presentation was Wax or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees. Completed in 1991 by artist David Blair, this hybrid fiction and essay-film offered to its viewers what Times critic Stephen Holden called “a multi-generational family saga as it might be imagined by a cyberpunk novelist…

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers:  Ms. Marvel,” the Screen Junkies say that Ms. Marvel is not only the first Pakistani superhero in the MCU, but also the first MCU superhero from New Jersey.  But while she faces “yet another poorly developed Marvel villain and two hunky guys competing for her attention, she is also the first mutant in the MCU since they re-acquired the X-Men,  “Come for the origin of the X-Men–stay for the origin of Pakistan!”

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

Pixel Scroll 7/23/22 Filers, Tick Not, Now Or Ever, Where To Scroll Your Pixels Go

(1) AURORA AWARDS VOTING DEADLINE. Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association members have only a few minutes left to vote for 2022 Aurora Awards. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. EDT, on Saturday, July 23.

The awards ceremony will be held as a YouTube and Facebook live streaming event at 7:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday, August 13 at When Words Collide. 

(2) BEAUTIFYING THE BRICKS. DreamHaven Books showed off the progress on their new outside wall mural to Facebook friends. There’s also this smaller peek on Instagram.

(3) HEAR HEAR. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) resumes its series with 2022 Rhysling Long Poem Reading Series Part 2.

(4) THE SPIRIT OF ’46. First Fandom Experience links up with Chicon 8’s “1946 Project” (which they’re doing instead of Retro Hugos). “Science Fiction and Fantasy in the Pulps: 1946” is a bibliography of sff published in that year.

…Presented here for your perusal and possible amusement is a fiction bibliography for science fiction and fantasy pulps issued in 1946. The list includes magazines that primarily published new works. Excluded are reprints of works published in prior years (most of Famous Fantastic Mysteries, all of Strange Tales). Non-fiction articles and editorials are also omitted. For brevity, we didn’t cite specific issue dates. For richness, we’ve transcribed the introductory blurbs that appeared in the Table of Contents or masthead for each story….

(5) DOODLER. [Item by Michael Toman.] “In a world where Franza Kafka became one of the first Big Name Fan Artists…?” “Kafka’s Inkblots” by J.W. McCormack, behind a paywall at New York Review of Books.

…Such an active imagination—the fever for annotation, familiar from Pale Fire or Flaubert’s Parrot, that distorts the inner life of the artist even as it seeks to illuminate it—is required of any reader hoping to get their money’s worth from Franz Kafka: The Drawings, a volume of the writer’s archival sketches and ephemera edited by Andreas Kilcher and Pavel Schmidt. A bearded maestro presides from the back of a business card. A stick figure seems to throttle a mass of squiggles. A harlequin frowns under the chastisement of an irate lump. Two curvilinear ink blots pass each other on a blank-page boulevard. A bushy-browed Captain Haddock-type glowers in profile on a torn envelope and, in the margins of a letter, a wrigglesome delinquent is bisected by a torture device that seems to clearly reference the one from “In the Penal Colony.” Limbs jut out cartoonishly from bodies, loopedy-loop acrobats snake up and down the gutter of a magazine, figures of authority preside in faded pencil, and then there are the stray marks on manuscript pages, neither fully letters nor drawings….

(6) BRICK BY BRICK. “E. E. Cummings and Krazy Kat” by Amber Medland at The Paris Review site puts the famous strip in perspective as an inspiration to all manner of creators of modern 20th-century literature and art.

…The Kat had a cult following among the modernists. For Joyce, Fitzgerald, Stein, and Picasso, all of whose work fed on playful energies similar to those unleashed in the strip, he had a double appeal, in being commercially nonviable and carrying the reek of authenticity in seeming to belong to mass culture. By the thirties, strips like Blondie were appearing daily in roughly a thousand newspapers; Krazy appeared in only thirty-five. The Kat was one of those niche-but-not-really phenomena, a darling of critics and artists alike, even after it stopped appearing in newspapers. Since then: Umberto Eco called Herriman’s work “raw poetry”; Kerouac claimed the Kat as “the immediate progenitor” of the beats; Stan Lee (Spider-Man) went with “genius”; Herriman was revered by Charles Schulz and Theodor Geisel alike. But Krazy Kat was never popular. The strip began as a sideline for Herriman, who had been making a name for himself as a cartoonist since 1902. It ran in “the waste space,” literally underfoot the characters of his more conventional 1910 comic strip The Dingbat Family, published in William Randolph Hearst’s New York Evening Journal….

(7) ANTICIPATION. Rich Horton abhors a vacuum, which is why he keeps his series going with “Hugo Nomination Recommendations, 1951”.

As noted, I’m planning to finish up my posts on potential Hugo nominees for 1950s Worldcons, including those that didn’t award Hugos. This is a case (as with 1954) where stories from the eligibility year (i.e. 1950) had a shot at Retro-Hugos, as Milliennium Philcon, the 2001 Worldcon, chose to award them. (Appropriate, I suppose, as the 1953 Philcon originated the Hugo Awards.) And in fact I wrote a post back in 2001 giving my recommendations for Retro Hugos that year. This appeared in SF Site here I am bemused to find that my recommendations from back then are almost exactly the same as I came up with surveying 1950s SF just now.

The 1951 Worldcon was Nolacon I, in New Orleans, the ninth World Science Fiction Convention. As noted, they gave no Hugo awards. This was the first year of International Fantasy Awards, and both were given to books published in 1949: fiction went to George Stewart’s, Earth Abides (surely a strong choice) and non-fiction to The Conquest of Space, by Willy Ley and Chesley Bonestell….

(8) LATHE OF HEAVENS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Hack writers get hackier with AI! The Verge blabs about “How independent writers are turning to AI”.

… Lepp, who writes under the pen name Leanne Leeds in the “paranormal cozy mystery” subgenre, allots herself precisely 49 days to write and self-edit a book. This pace, she said, is just on the cusp of being unsustainably slow. She once surveyed her mailing list to ask how long readers would wait between books before abandoning her for another writer. The average was four months. Writer’s block is a luxury she can’t afford, which is why as soon as she heard about an artificial intelligence tool designed to break through it, she started beseeching its developers on Twitter for access to the beta test. 

The tool was called Sudowrite. Designed by developers turned sci-fi authors Amit Gupta and James Yu, it’s one of many AI writing programs built on OpenAI’s language model GPT-3 that have launched since it was opened to developers last year. But where most of these tools are meant to write company emails and marketing copy, Sudowrite is designed for fiction writers. Authors paste what they’ve written into a soothing sunset-colored interface, select some words, and have the AI rewrite them in an ominous tone, or with more inner conflict, or propose a plot twist, or generate descriptions in every sense plus metaphor. 

Eager to see what it could do, Lepp selected a 500-word chunk of her novel, a climactic confrontation in a swamp between the detective witch and a band of pixies, and pasted it into the program. Highlighting one of the pixies, named Nutmeg, she clicked “describe.”…

(9) UP FROM THE UNDERGROUND. [Item by Dann.] This Reason Podcast focuses on the early days of comix in an interview with Brian Doherty regarding his newly published book Dirty Pictures: “Brian Doherty Talks Dirty Pictures, Comix, and Free Speech”.

Dirty Pictures: How an Underground Network of Nerds, Feminists, Misfits, Geniuses, Bikers, Potheads, Printers, Intellectuals, and Art School Rebels Revolutionized Art and Invented Comix, by Reason Senior Editor Brian Doherty, tells the story of how people such as Robert Crumb, Trina Robbins, and Art Spiegelman redefined not just what comic books were capable of but what gets counted as art.

(10) NOSTALGIC X-MEN SERIES. Yahoo! Entertainment is at SDCC when “’X-Men ’97’ Gets First Nostalgic Look, Fall 2023 Release and Season 2”.

Nearly 30 years after “X-Men: The Animated Series” debuted, many of the beloved characters are returning for Marvel Studios’ upcoming show “X-Men ’97,” coming to Disney+ in fall 2023 with a second season already confirmed.

“X-Men ’97” will continue the story of the original “Animated Series,” which ran from 1992 to 1997 on Fox Kids Network. “X-Men: The Animated Series” helped usher in the popularity of the mutant superheroes before Fox made the first live-action take on the team in 2000.

The new series will include Rogue, Beast, Gambit, Jean Grey, Wolverine, Storm, Jubilee and Cyclops. Magneto, now with long hair and a purple suit, will lead the X-Men. The animation, revealed at Comic Con on Friday, stays true to the original animated series, but looks more modern, updated and sleek.

Cable, Bishop, Forge, Morph and Nightcrawler will also join the X-Men onscreen. Battling them will be the (non-“Stranger Things”) Hellfire Club with Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw, plus Mr. Sinister and Bolivar Trask will appear.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1995 [By Cat Eldridge.] It is said that God made man in His image, but man fell from grace. Still, man has retained from his humble beginnings the innate desire to create, but how will man’s creations fair? Will they attain a measure of the divine or will they, too, fall from grace? — The Control Voice

Twenty-seven years ago, The Outer Limits’ “I, Robot” first aired on HBO. 

This is a remake of “I, Robot” that aired thirty-one years earlier. Leonard Nimoy, who played the reporter Judson Ellis in that episode, plays attorney Thurman Cutler in this version, a role played by Howard Da Silva in the original. This remake was directed by Nimoy’s son Adam Nimoy. 

Now “I, Robot” was written by Eando Binder, the pen name used by the SF authors, the late Earl Andrew Binder and his brother Otto Binder. They created a heroic robot named Adam Link. The first Adam Link story, published in 1939, is titled “I, Robot”. Adam Link, Robot, a collection of those stories, is available from the usual suspects. 

Robert C. Dennis who wrote the screenplay here would go on to write multiple episodes of Wild, Wild West and Batman. He was also one of the primary writers for the earlier Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 23, 1888 Raymond Chandler. He of the Philip Marlowe series who I hold in very high esteem is listed by ISFDB as doing some stories of a genre nature, to be exact, ”The Bronze Door”, “The King In Yellow”, “Professor Bingo’s Snuff” and “English Summer: A Gothic Romance”. I’ve neither heard of nor read these. So who here has read them? (Died 1959.) 
  • Born July 23, 1914 Virgil Finlay. Castle of Frankenstein calls him “part of the pulp magazine history … one of the foremost contributors of original and imaginative artwork for the most memorable science fiction and fantasy publications of our time.”  His best-known covers are for Amazing Stories and Weird Tales. “Roads”, a novella by Seabury Quinn, published in the January 1938 Weird Tales, and featuring a cover and interior illustrations by him, was originally published in an extremely limited numbers by Arkham House in 1948. It’s now available on from the usual suspects. (Died 1971.)
  • Born July 23, 1938 Ronny Cox, 83. His first genre role was in RoboCop as OCP President Dick Jones who comes to a very bad end. Later roles were Gen. Balentine in Amazon Women on the Moon in “The Unknown Soldier” episode, Martians Go Home as the President, Total Recall as Vilos Cohaagen, Captain America as Tom Kimball and a recurring role for a decade on Stargate SG-1 as Senator Robert Kinsey/Vice President Robert Kinsey. 
  • Born July 23, 1957 Gardner Dozois. He was founding editor of The Year’s Best Science Fiction anthology and was editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine for twenty years. He won fifteen Hugos for his editing and was nominated for others. He also won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story twice, once for “The Peacemaker” and once for “Morning Child”. Stories selected by him for his annual best-of-year volumes have won, as of several years ago, 44 Hugos, 32 Locus, 41 Nebulas, 18 Sturgeon Awards and 10 World Fantasy. Very impressive! (Died 2018.)
  • Born July 23, 1982 Tom Mison, 40. He is best known as Ichabod Crane on Sleepy Hollow which crosses-over into Bones. He’s Mr. Phillips in The Watchmen. It’s barely (if at all) genre adjacent but I’m going to note that he’s Young Blood in A Waste of Shame: The Mystery of Shakespeare and His Sonnets. Currently he’s got a main role in second season of the See SF series on Apple TV which has yet to come out. Apple hasn’t put out any publicity on it. 
  • Born July 23, 1989 Daniel Radcliffe, 33. Harry Potter of course. Also Victor Frankenstein’s assistant Igor in Victor Frankenstein, Ignatius Perrish in Horns, a horror film, and Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at the Old Vic in London.  

(13) THIS ICE CREAM DOESN’T CUT THE MUSTARD. Well, actually, it does, and that’s the problem.The Takeout’s Brianna Wellen declares “This Grey Poupon Ice Cream Needs More Mustard”.

…As described in a press release sent to The Takeout, the Grey Poupon with Salted Pretzels is “An unexpected yet delightful blend of sweet ice cream, honey-dijon swirl, and salted pretzels.” It’s part of Van Leeuwen’s line of summer limited edition flavors, which also includes Campfire S’mores, Summer Peach Crisp, Honey Cornbread with Strawberry Jam, and Espresso Fior di Latte Chip. All of these flavors are available at Walmart until the end of the season.

… Even the smell of the ice cream was slightly mustardy—I was prepared for a real dijon bomb.

But the first scoop left some things to be desired. First, the mustard flavor is a little muddled and lost amidst the creaminess….

(14) STAR WARS SANS CULOTTES. Yes, it’s what you think it is: “I saw a ‘Star Wars’ strip show in SF, and I’m forever changed” says SFGate’s Ariana Bindman.

…With each draw of the curtain, we saw a series of burlesque acts that were visually decadent and tonally unique. Aside from Jabba the Hutt and captive Leia, my other personal favorite was when Sheev Palpatine — who looked absolutely grotesque thanks to a wrinkled blue-and-white skin suit — fully stripped and swung on a massive disco ball to Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball.” Just before that, R2-D2, resident space pimp, made it rain by ejecting wads of cash into the air while a braggadocious Han Solo undulated to “Smooth Criminal,” making every goth and nerd in the audience scream like animals…. 

(15) IT’S ABOUT TIME. “Strange new phase of matter created in quantum computer acts like it has two time dimensions” at Phys.org.

By shining a laser pulse sequence inspired by the Fibonacci numbers at atoms inside a quantum computer, physicists have created a remarkable, never-before-seen phase of matter. The phase has the benefits of two time dimensions despite there still being only one singular flow of time, the physicists report July 20 in Nature.

This mind-bending property offers a sought-after benefit: Information stored in the phase is far more protected against errors than with alternative setups currently used in quantum computers. As a result, the information can exist without getting garbled for much longer, an important milestone for making quantum computing viable, says study lead author Philipp Dumitrescu….

(16) KEEP WALKING. Yahoo! introduces the trailer shown at SDCC: “’Tales of the Walking Dead’ Trailer Shows How the Zombie Apocalypse Is Kind of Like COVID”.

…The trailer features elements from several of the show’s standalone stories that all paint a very stark picture of how the world fell — and honestly we’re reminded of a ton of the drama from the COVID-19 era, particularly the denialism, rugged individualist posturing, and the scapegoating.

For example, we see Parker Posey as an apparently well-to-do woman who straight up refuses to believe reports of a zombie apocalypse… of course, until it runs right up and bites her. Crews meanwhile plays a survivalist who lives an isolated, paranoid life, until he (for an as-yet unrevealed reason) ends up sheltering with Olivia Munn and gets called out. Will he change? We’ll have to find out….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers:  The Quarry,” Fandom Games, in a spoiler-packed episode, say this game about teenagers getting munched on in the quarry by monsters “is a B movie with AAA production values that has “two hours of story and eight hours of wandering around like a stoned teen.”  But the CGI is so lifelike that the characters are actors you almost recognize, including “That guy who was in the thing you saw once.”

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

Pixel Scroll 7/19/22 A Phlogiston Of Filers

(1) AKO CAINE PRIZE. Kenyan writer Idza Luhumyo has been awarded the 2022 AKO Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story “Five Years Next Sunday”, published in Disruption (Catalyst Press and Short Story Day Africa, 2021). The story is about “a young woman with the unique power to call the rain in her hair. Feared by her family and community, a chance encounter with a foreigner changes her fortunes, but there are duplicitous designs upon her most prized and vulnerable possession.”

Okey Ndibe, Chair of the 2022 AKO Caine Prize Judging Panel, announced the winner at an award ceremony at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Luhumyo’s story was described by Ndibe as ‘an incandescent story – its exquisite language wedded to the deeply moving drama of a protagonist whose mystical office invites animus at every turn.’ 

Judging the Prize alongside Ndibe this year were French-Guinean author and academic Elisa Diallo; South African literary curator and co-founder of The Cheeky Natives Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane; UK-based Nigerian visual artist Ade ‘Àsìkò’ Okelarin; Kenyan co-founder of the Book Bunk Angela Wachuka. 

Luhumyo takes the £10,000 prize, beating 267 eligible entries in a record year of submissions. She will be published in the 2022 AKO Caine Prize anthology later this year by Cassava Republic Press. She is the fifth Kenyan writer to win the award after Binyavanga Wainaina (2002), Yvonne Owuor (2003), Okwiri Oduor (2014) and Makena Onjerika (2018).

(2) AUCTION RESULTS. The “Hollywood Legends” event organized by Julien’s Auctions rang up some big numbers for these items of genre interest:

…Other top sellers included the red, white and blue shield handled by Chris Evans’ Captain America in the 2012 superhero blockbuster “The Avengers,” which went for $200,000.

A Stormtrooper helmet used in 1977′s original “Star Wars” movie sold for $192,000, while a hammer wielded by Chris Hemsworth’s titular superhero in 2013′s “Thor: The Dark World” made $51,200….

(3) BUZZ LIGHTYEAR FOREVER. The USPS invites postal service users to “’Go Beyond’ Your Typical Forever Stamps with Buzz Lightyear”. The first day of issue will be August 3. There will be a ceremony that day at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood.

The iconic image of Buzz Lightyear has been captured in the newest Forever stamps from the U.S. Postal Service and Disney and Pixar.

Go Beyond is a colorful pane of 20 stamps arranged in four horizontal rows of five stamps featuring the image of Buzz Lightyear, a Space Ranger marooned on a planet 4.2 million light-years from Earth.

Greg Breeding was the stamp art director using illustrations from Pixar Animation Studios.

The release joins the Charles M. Shulz (and the gang) and James Webb Space Telescope stamps coming this year, and the already available Shel Silverstein stamp.

(4) ALONG CAME JONES. Stephen Jones, the British editor, had some things to say about pronouns yesterday that have since been taken private (or offline), therefore cannot be quoted here. However, some of the knock-on discussion he had about them was screencapped.

Hillary Monahan doesn’t name the person they light into in this thread, but everybody knew who it was. Thread starts here.

The Midnight Society thought the situation called for a satire. Thread starts here.

The social media discussion also reminded people of some of Jones’ history, such as:

(Jones’ remarks can be viewed on the 2021 Bram Stoker Awards ceremony video around the 1:23 mark.)

(5) PERSONAL DEFINITIONS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Contributors to the horror anthology Other Terrors explain what they think “other terrors” means to them. “A Roundtable Discussion on The Meaning of ‘The Other’” at CrimeReads.

Eugen Bacon: As an African-Australian author who is black, female, migrant and a single mother, I have struggled with identity and being ‘different’. I think, as humans, intrinsically, we want to belong, to be integral to the worlds we live in.

‘Other’ is anyone who looks different, feels different, thinks different, acts different, lives different, owns different (possessions), is perceived different—there’s a whole spectrum of othering, which is what makes the theme of Other Terrors very relatable and easy to respond to. More so in the safe space that speculative fiction offers for engaging with difference, even in acts of subversive activism….

(6) WESTERCON 74 EVENTS ONLINE. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] All of Westercon 74’s Events — anything that happened in the Main Hall or on the Main Stage of the Tonopah Convention Center, as distinct from Programming that happened in function rooms of the TCC or the other convention buildings — are now online on a newly-minted Westercon 74 YouTube channel in the Events playlist:

This includes, in the order that they happened:

  • Friday: Opening Ceremony
  • Saturday: Match Game SF
  • Sunday: Westercon Business Meeting, Committee of the Whole on Site Selection, Kuma’s Korner Stuffed friends gathering
  • Monday: Closing Ceremony

In addition, the channel includes separate recordings of the opening and closing title videos that we played during the opening and closing ceremonies.

Programming will post those online and hybrid items that we recorded to a separate playlist on this channel when they are able to do so. The head of online/hybrid programming, Michelle Weisblat-Dane, came down with COVID-19 immediately after the convention, which has slowed production.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1965 [By Cat Eldridge.] Forty-seven years ago, The Tenth Victim premiered in Ireland. An international co-production between Italy and France, it is based on Robert Sheckley’s 1953 short story “Seventh Victim” which was nominated for a Retro Hugo at Noreascon 4. No, I’ve no idea why it became the Tenth Victim.

It was directed and co-written by Elio Petri who had spent five years trying to get this filmed. In filming it, he made some major changes. Sheckley told his story from the point of view of a man hunting his seventh target, a woman, whereas in the movie she is the hunter. And as most reviewers note, the film is largely a chase story. It’s been a very long time since I read it so I don’t know how much it deviates from the original text.

The French-Italian production was fairly expensive to make at a cool million. That’s ten million now. Absolutely no idea what they spent that much money on making what was a chase film. Very expensive cars? Crates of champagne? Caviar? 

The movie company insists that it lost money, some ten million. They needed to have drank a lot less champagne.

Coming full cycle, there’s a Sheckley novelization of the film. Algis Budrys in his June 1966 Galaxy Science Fiction review said it was “a reasonably good chase novel”. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 19, 1883 Max Fleischer. Animator, film director and producer. He brought such animated characters as Betty Boop, Popeye and Superman to the screen and was responsible for a number of technological innovations including the Rotoscope and Stereoptical Processes. You can see Betty’s first screen appearance here in the 1930 Cartoon, “Dizzy Dishes”. (Died 1972.)
  • Born July 19, 1904 Groff Conklin. He edited forty anthologies of science fiction, one of mystery stories. His book review column, “Galaxy’s Five-Star Shelf”, was a core feature in Galaxy Science Fiction from its premiere issue in October 1950 until the October 1955 issue. He was nominated at NyCon II for a Best Book Reviewer Hugo, and at Millennium Philcon, he was nominated for a Retro Hugo for Best Professional Editor. (Died 1968.)
  • Born July 19, 1927 Richard E. Geis. I met him at least once when I was living out there in Oregon. Interesting person. He won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twice; and whose science fiction fanzine Science Fiction Review won Hugo Awards for Best Fanzine four times. The Alien Critic won the Best Fanzine Hugo (once in a tie with Algol), and once by himself. And yes, I enjoyed reading the Science Fiction Review. I’ve not any of his handful of genre novels, and certainly haven’t encountered his soft-core porn of which there’s a lot. (Died 2013.)
  • Born July 19, 1938 Jayant Vishnu Narlikar, 84. He and Fred Hoyle developed the Hoyle–Narlikar theory, which Stephen Hawking would prove is incompatible with an expanding universe. He would write two genre novels, The Return of The Vaman (translated from Marathi) and The Message from Aristarchus. His autobiography is My Tale of Four Cities: An Autobiography.
  • Born July 19, 1950 Richard Pini, 72. He’s half of the husband-and-wife team responsible for creating the well-known Elfquest series of comics, graphic novels and prose works. They are also known as WaRP (as in Warp Graphics). It’s worth noting that characters based on works by the Pinis appear in the first issue of Ghost Rider.
  • Born July 19, 1963 Garth Nix, 59. Writer of children’s and young adult fantasy novels, to wit the Keys to the KingdomOld Kingdom, and Seventh Tower series. The Ragwitch which I read quite some time ago is quite excellent and being a one-off can give you a good taste of him without committing to a series.
  • Born July 19, 1969 Kelly Link, 53. First, let me note that along with Ellen Datlow, she and her husband Gavin Grant were responsible for the last five volumes of The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror. They all did an absolutely magnificent job. All of her collections, Pretty MonstersMagic for Beginners and Get in Trouble are astonishingly good. And she’s much honored having three Nebula Awards, a World Fantasy Award, an Otherwise Award, a Sturgeon Award and received a MacArthur Genius Grant. She was a finalist for a 2016 Pulitzer Prize. And Hugos. She won a Hugo at Interaction for her “Faery Handbag” novellette, her “Magic for Beginners” novella was nominated at L.A. Con IV, and finally Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet was nominated at Nippon 2007 for Best Semi-Prozine (her husband Gavin Grant was also nominated). 

(9) HARD TO KEEP CURRENT. Goodreads lists “The 72 Most Popular Fantasy Novels of the Past Three Years” based on reader info. I’ve actually read three and expect to read two more of these. I was sure my score would be zero.

Fantasy literature is arguably the single oldest genre in all of storytelling. Contemporary fantasy has its roots, overtly or not, in world mythology and folklore, which in turn have their roots in oral traditions that extend back beyond recorded history. Old!
 
But today we’re interested in new fantasy. Gathered below are the most popular fantasy books of the past three years, as determined by reader shelvings and reviews. All books listed here were published in 2019 or later, in the U.S., and for fantasy series with multiple titles (ArmentroutButcherMaas!) we’ve listed the first series book published in that time period.

(10) FUTURE ERIC FLINT TITLES COMING FROM BAEN. [Item by Andrew Porter.] Toni Weisskopf wrote to me, “His last email to me was the delivery of revision of THE TRANSYLVANIAN DECISION; that’s already on the schedule. There’s a few more, which I expect collaborators will finish. Credit will vary, depending on how much input Eric had already given.”

(11) FUNDRAISER FOR FLINT FAMILY. The GoFundMe set up for Eric Flint’s wife Lucille – “Eric Flint” – has already made its $10,000 goal, having raised $11,627 at this writing.

My name is Debbie and my sister, Lucille Robbins, just lost her beloved husband of 21 years, Eric Flint. For the last six months Eric has been fighting the fight of his life, but unfortunately his body could no longer sustain the battle and he succumbed to the infections that robbed him of the final years of life. Eric had so many plans, right up to the end. He wanted to live and to keep writing and to keep reaching out to everyone in the Science Fiction community, but here we are. Unfortunately Eric has not been able to write while he has been sick and Lucille lost many hours of work taking care of Eric. As you know writers have to keep writing to make money and right now Lucille and family could use some help financially with the costs of memorial services. Any donation will be greatly appreciated.

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Hulk v. Thor (1988)” the Screen Junkies narrator notes, “no one wanted this.  You’ve got to trust us.”  The movie isn’t even called “Hulk v. Thor,” it’s “The Incredible Hulk Returns,” the first of three made-for-TV Hulk movies.  This ripe piece of ’80s cheese has Bruce Banner hiding out as “Bruce Banyon” when he isn’t turning into Lou Ferrigno and “gruntflexing.”  But Hulk DOES fight Thor. They even dance around a sparkly machine while fighting.  And Thor has a drinking problem. “I’m thirsty,” Thor says in the laboratory. “Is there nothing to drink in this alchemist’s den?”

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

Pixel Scroll 7/14/22 You’ve Got To — Accentuate The Positronic

(1) SMACK IN THE MIDDLE (EARTH) WITH YOU. Amazon Prime put out “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” main teaser today.

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

(2) WESTERCON COVID TALLY. Westercon 74, held in Tonopah, asked that any person who contracted COVID-19 during the con or for one week following send them an email so they could track any outbreak.  Kevin Standlee reports that at the end of the week 11 members reported positive COVID-19 tests. That represents 7% of the members who picked up their badges and attended the convention. The contact reports by those who gave permission to have their information published are at http://westercon74.org/covid/.

(3) STOKING THE FLAMES. LitReactor interviewed Bram Stoker Awards administrator James Chambers to find out “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Bram Stoker Awards® | LitReactor

Each year there’s an official Stoker reading list. I have used this list a lot both to make recommendations and to read recommended works. A few questions about the list: Is it open for public viewing?

Yes, a public version of the list for works published in 2022 is available here. Members recommend works they think merit consideration for a Bram Stoker Award, and we share their selections with the public. It’s a great resource for anyone looking for reading suggestions or wondering what’s new that year. Libraries sometimes refer to this list to make book selections for their patrons. Anyone, HWA member or not, can view this record of horror publishing from year to year. Last year’s list is available here.

Who is allowed to recommend books to the list?

Any member of the HWA in good standing may recommend books….

(4) GETTING TO KNOW YOU. Kelley Armstrong discusses the historical research she did for her time travel mystery A Rip Through Time in “Adventures in Writing Time Travel” at CrimeReads.

…I decided to try a time-travel mystery… with a modern detective, transported into the body of a housemaid working for an undertaker-turned-early-forensic-scientist in 1869 Edinburgh. That meant researching domestic service, undertaking, law enforcement, medicine, forensics and so much more, all of it in Scotland while most of the resources are English.

I quickly learned that secondary resources aren’t necessarily reliable. I spent the first quarter of the book referring to my local police detective as Inspector McCreadie, based on secondary sources that insisted that was the proper title in both England and Scotland. Then I started poring over firsthand police accounts and contemporary newspapers, only to discover the correct title was Detective….

(5) PUPPY PUPPETRY [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Sarah Hemming discusses a new musical version of 101 Dalmatians, which is playing at the Open Air Theatre (openairtheatre.com) in Regent’s Park through August 28.  She interviews the theatre’s artistic director, Timothy Sheader.

“There is the matter of 101 spotty dogs. And that’s before you get to the canine alliance that springs into action to rescue the stolen pups.  A pack of hounds on stage, park or no park, seems inadvisable, so while there might be a fleeting glimpse of a real puppy–‘things may get changed in previews,’ says Sheader — the vast majority of dog action will be down to puppets and children — ‘We have 96 puppets, four children, and a dog.’

For Sheader, puppets are not just a practical solution:  they also invite you to identify with the dogs.  ‘What the cartoon does brilliantly is what the novel does:  it manages to be from the perspective of the dogs,’ he says. ‘And when you go to (actual) dogs that can’t talk, they get sidelined.  We have managed to control the dogs like the cartoon. What I like about puppetry is the invitation to an audience to use their imaginations.'”

(6) A FAMILY TRADITION. “Long before Frank Oz brought many Muppets to life, his father, an amateur Dutch puppeteer, made a Hitler marionette as an act of defiance. He buried it during the war.” “The Saga of a World War II Ancestor of Miss Piggy, Bert and Yoda” in the New York Times.

A marionette of Hitler that was created in the 1930s as an instrument of parody by Frank Oz’s father, Isidore (Mike) Oznowicz, will be displayed at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.via Frank Oznowicz, Jenny Oznowicz and Ronald Oznowicz; Jason Madella

The puppet stands 20 inches tall, hand-painted and carved out of wood, its uniform tattered and torn. But for all it has endured over more than 80 years — buried in a backyard in Belgium at the outset of World War II, dug up after the war and taken on a nine-day cross-Atlantic journey, stored and almost forgotten in an attic in Oakland, Calif. — it remains, with its black toothbrush mustache and right arm raised in a Nazi salute, immediately and chillingly recognizable.

It is a depiction of Hitler, hand-carved and painted in the late 1930s by an amateur Dutch puppeteer, Isidore (Mike) Oznowicz, and clothed by his Flemish wife, Frances, as they lived in prewar Belgium.

The Hitler marionette, an instrument of parody and defiance, offers an intriguing glimpse into the strong puppetry tradition in the family of the man who retrieved it from that attic: Frank Oz, one of its creators’ sons, who went on to become one of the 20th century’s best-known puppeteers, bringing Cookie Monster, Bert, Miss Piggy and others to life through his collaborations with Jim Henson, and later becoming a force in the Star Wars movies, giving voice to Yoda. The marionette will be shown publicly for the first time later this month at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco….

(7) CHECKED OUT FOR GOOD. A local library is a casualty of the culture wars. “What’s Happening With The Vinton Public Library” asks the Iowa Starting Line.

Residents of a small Iowa town criticized their library’s LGBTQ staff and their displaying of LGBTQ-related books until most of the staff quit. Now, the town’s library is closed for the foreseeable future.

After having the same library director for 32 years, the Vinton Public Library can’t seem to keep the position filled anymore. Since summer 2021, the Vinton Public Library has gone through two permanent directors and an interim director who has served in that role twice. 

Located about 40 miles northwest of Cedar Rapids, the doors of the Vinton Public Library—housed in a brick and stone Carnegie—have been open to the public since 1904, but were shuttered on Friday, July 8, while the Vinton Library Board tries to sort out staffing issues seemingly brought on by local dalliances with the national culture wars….  

(8) MEMORY LANE.  

1999 [By Cat Eldridge.] Muppets in Space which premiered on this day was the first film released after the death of Jim Henson. As such, it came with great hope and quite a few individuals expected it to, well, fail as it didn’t have the magic of Jim Henson in it. 

It was written by written by Jerry Juhl, Joseph Mazzarino, and Ken Kaufman. Juhl wrote every Muppets films that had been done as well as the chief writer on The Muppets, Mazzarino was the chief writer on Head Writer and Director on Sesame Street.  So serious writing creds here. Well excepting Kaufman who had none.

SPOILERS HERE! 

The plot is an SF one with Gonzo being told by a pair of cosmic knowledge fish, that he is an alien from outer space. Yes, I’m serious as he really as we will see an entire ship full of gonzo beings. Now having said that very weird tidbit, I’m not going to say another word about the story.

SPOILERS END!

One of the co-writers, Mazzarino. has repeatedly said that he left the film before shooting started, due to changes made to his draft of the screenplay. He said that his draft included parodies of AlienContact and  Men in Black but most of that got removed on the request of the studio. 

Reception was decidedly mixed. Robert Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Tribune said, “Muppets from Space is just not very good.” However, Robin Rauzi of the Los Angeles Times exclaimed “The magic is back.” Frank Oz, who was not there for the filming, kvetched that it was “not the movie that we wanted it to be.”   

Indeed, it lost money, not much, as it made just about two million less than the twenty-four that it cost to make.   

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it an excellent sixty-three percent rating.   

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 14, 1906 Abner J. Gelula. One of the many authors* of Cosmos, a serialized novel that appeared first in Science Fiction Digest in July 1933 and then has a really complicated publication that I won’t detail here. It was critiqued as “the world’s most fabulous serial,” “one of the unique stunts of early science fiction,” and conversely “a failure, miserable and near-complete.” The entire text, chapter by chapter, can be read here. [*To be precise, Earl Binder, Otto Binder. Arthur J. Burks, John W. Campbell, Jr., Lloyd Arthur Eshbach, Ralph Milne Farley, Francis Flagg, J. Harvey Haggard, Edmond Hamilton, David H. Keller, M.D., Otis Adelbert Kline, A. Merritt, P. Schuyler Miller, Bob Olsen, Raymond A. Palmer, E. Hoffmann Price and Edward E. Smith. Gulp!] (Died 1985) 
  • Born July 14, 1910 William Hanna. American animator, voice actor, cartoonist, and who was the co-creator with Joseph Barbera of Tom and Jerry as well as the creator of the animation studio and production company Hanna-Barbera. He’s also responsible for The Flintstones and Jetsons. (Died 2001.)
  • Born July 14, 1926 Harry Dean Stanton. My favorite genre role for him? The tarot card player in them video for Procul Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale”. No, I’m not kidding.  He also played Paul of Tarsus in The Last Temptation of Christ, Harold “Brain” Hellman in Escape from New York, Detective Rudolph “Rudy” Junkins in Christine, Bud in Repo Man, Carl Rod in Twin Peaks twice, Toot-Toot in The Green Mile, Harvey in Alien Autopsy and a Security Guard in The Avengers. He didn’t do a lot of genre tv, one episode of The Wild Wild West as Lucius Brand in “The Night of The Hangman” and a character named Lemon on Alfred Hitchcock Presents in the “Escape to Sonoita” episode. (Died 2017.)
  • Born July 14, 1943 Christopher Priest, 79. This is the Birthday of the One and True Christopher Priest. If I was putting together an introductory reading list to him, I’d start with The Prestige, add in the Islanders (both of which won BSFAs) and its companion volume, The Dream Archipelago. Maybe Inverted World as well. How’s that sound?  What would you add in? 
  • Born July 14, 1964 Jane Espenson, 58. She had a five-year stint as a writer and producer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer where she shared a Hugo Award at Torcon 3 (2003) for her writing on the “Conversations with Dead People” episode, and she shared another Hugo at Chicon 7 (2012) for Game of Thrones, season one. She was on the writing staff for the fourth season of Torchwood and executive produced Caprica. And yes, she had a stint on the rebooted Galactica.
  • Born July 14, 1966 Brian Selznick, 56. Illustrator and writer best known as the writer of The Invention of Hugo Cabret which may or may not be genre. You decide. His later work, Wonderstruck, definitely is. The Marvels, a story of a traveling circus family is magical in its own right though not genre. His next work, Kaleidoscopic, due out this autumn looks to just as fantastic. 
  • Born July 14, 1987 Sara Canning, 35. Major roles in A Series of Unfortunate Events, Primeval: New World and The Vampire Dairies, she also appeared in Once Upon a TimeWar for the Planet Of The ApesAndroid EmployedSupernatural and Smallville to name some of her other genre work.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Some JWST humor from Shane Bevin.

(11) NARRATIVE HOOK. Molly Odintz interviews Liz Michalski “Liz Michalski On Peter Pan, Motherhood, and the Meaning of Perpetual Youth” at CrimeReads.

In Darling Girl, Wendy Darling was merely the first of many generations of women to be visited by the perpetually youthful Pan. Is this a stand-in for generational trauma?

I was thinking more along the lines of the Me Too movement and what a struggle it has been for women to be heard. Peter Pan’s story has been told for years — now it’s the turn of the Darling women.

(12) USUAL THINGS. Once again – don’t let people work con security who want to work con security: “’Stranger Things’ Fans Brought Joseph Quinn to Tears After Security Yelled at Him for Speaking to Them”Yahoo! relays the latest example why.

Stranger Things” breakout Joseph Quinn broke down in tears during a recent appearance at London Film and Comic Con. The actor, who became an instant fan favorite thanks to his performance as Hellfire Club leader Eddie on the fourth season of the Netflix series, couldn’t hold tears back after a fan stood up to thank him for sharing his time with fans.

Reports surfaced on social media during London Film and Comic Con that security hounded Quinn for interacting with fans for too long while signing memorabilia (via BuzzFeed). The event reportedly oversold tickets to Quinn’s meet-and-greet, and thus wanted to filter guests in and out quickly. Quinn apparently was chatting with his fans for longer than security would have liked.

“The way Joseph Quinn was treated at LFCC is fucking disgusting,” one attendee wrote on social media “Staff fully yelled at him to shut the fuck up and to just sign and not to interact with fans [because] they over sold and couldn’t get all people seen.”

During a larger Q&A session with Quinn, one fan stood up and said, “Mine’s not really a question, it’s just more an extension of gratitude. A lot of us have heard of what happened yesterday, whether it’s true or not, about how you were treated. I really want to say, we’re really grateful that you’re sharing your time. Thank you for signing our things, for spending time with us and making our summer.”

(13) OVERDRAWN AT THE BLADE BANK. “House of the Dragon Iron Throne prop had to borrow swords” says SYFY Wire.

We regret to inform you that the supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 health crisis have finally reached Westeros. Speaking with Entertainment Weekly for a lengthy feature about the upcoming House of the Dragon (premiering on HBO and HBO Max late next month), co-showrunner, executive producer, and series director Miguel Sapochnik estimated that around 2,500 swords were used to build the show’s interpretation of the coveted Iron Throne.

Construction on this prop required so many blades, in fact, that the Game of Thrones prequel was forced to borrow a few sabres from other fantasy projects like Netflix’s The Witcher and Duncan Jones’ Warcraft movie.

The resultant amalgamation of steel representing the epicenter of Targaryen power isn’t just a harmless bit of set dressing — it could actually take an eye out. “Literally we had to put [up] fences when we first built it,” Sapochnik revealed. “Some of them are real swords. It is as dangerous as it is [described] in the books.” While the crew could have gotten away with recycling the Iron Throne created for GoT, they decided to build something that felt more accurate to the one described in the books penned by George R.R. Martin.

(14) ALTERNATIVE TO RUSSIAN LAUNCHER. “Successful debut flight for Europe’s Vega-C rocket” reports BBC News.

The medium-lift vehicle was sent up from French Guiana to deliver seven satellites to orbit, the largest of which will test Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

Vega-C has enormous importance for Europe’s continued access to space.

It’s needed to fill a big gap in capability now that Russian rockets are no longer available because of the war in Ukraine.

The withdrawal from the market of Moscow’s Soyuz launchers earlier this year left European institutional and commercial satellites scrambling for alternative rides.

Vega-C will be the obvious option for many, although even before Wednesday’s successful maiden flight, the new Italian-led rocket system was fully booked through 2023, 2024 and 2025.

And there’s a further reason why Vega-C’s entry into the launcher business is critical. Its first stage, the segment of the vehicle that gets it up off the ground, is also going to be used on Europe’s forthcoming heavy-lift rocket, the Ariane-6.

Sharing the stage technology across both launcher systems is expected to lead to significant cost savings…

(15) THIRD FIFTH. The Season 5 teaser for The Handmaid’s Tale dropped today.

In Season 5, June faces consequences for killing Commander Waterford while struggling to redefine her identity and purpose. The widowed Serena attempts to raise her profile in Toronto as Gilead’s influence creeps into Canada. Commander Lawrence works with Aunt Lydia as he tries to reform Gilead and rise in power. June, Luke, and Moira fight Gilead from a distance as they continue their mission to save and reunite with Hannah.

(16) SPLISH SPLASH. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] It could be Waterworld Part II  if Kevin Costner, Dennis Hopper, Jeanne Tripplehorn, et al. were anime characters. (Well, I hope I’m mistaken.): “Netflix’s ‘Drifting Home’ trailer introduces a mysterious, water-filled anime world”. Available to stream on September 16.

…The film follows two childhood friends who go to play in the now-abandoned apartment building where they grew up, only to suddenly find themselves floating through a watery world with their old neighbourhood no longer in sight.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Stranger Things (Season 4),” the Screen Junkies say that Stranger Things has run out of Stephen King material to copy, so they’re riffing off of heavy metal album covers and ’90s movies.  The character David Harbour plays “should be dead.  But someone wanted David Harbour tortured–a lot.”  And what rocker in the ’80s preferred Kate Bush to Lynyrd Skynyrd?

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

Pixel Scroll 7/12/22 Pixels Come From Pixelvania

(1) WEBB WEAVINGS. NASA hosts the “First Images from the James Webb Space Telescope” at the link.

…Webb’s first observations were selected by a group of representatives from NASA, ESA, CSA, and the Space Telescope Science Institute. They reveal the capabilities of all four of Webb’s state-of-the-art scientific instruments:

  • SMACS 0723: Webb has delivered the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe so far – and in only 12.5 hours. For a person standing on Earth looking up, the field of view for this new image, a color composite of multiple exposures each about two hours long, is approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length. This deep field uses a lensing galaxy cluster to find some of the most distant galaxies ever detected. This image only scratches the surface of Webb’s capabilities in studying deep fields and tracing galaxies back to the beginning of cosmic time.
  • WASP-96b (spectrum): Webb’s detailed observation of this hot, puffy planet outside our solar system reveals the clear signature of water, along with evidence of haze and clouds that previous studies of this planet did not detect. With Webb’s first detection of water in the atmosphere of an exoplanet, it will now set out to study hundreds of other systems to understand what other planetary atmospheres are made of.
  • Southern Ring Nebula: This planetary nebula, an expanding cloud of gas that surrounds a dying star, is approximately 2,000 light years away. Here, Webb’s powerful infrared eyes bring a second dying star into full view for the first time. From birth to death as a planetary nebula, Webb can explore the expelling shells of dust and gas of aging stars that may one day become a new star or planet.
  • Stephan’s Quintet: Webb’s view of this compact group of galaxies, located in the constellation Pegasus, pierced through the shroud of dust surrounding the center of one galaxy, to reveal the velocity and composition of the gas near its supermassive black hole. Now, scientists can get a rare look, in unprecedented detail, at how interacting galaxies are triggering star formation in each other and how the gas in these galaxies is being disturbed.
  • Carina Nebula: Webb’s look at the ‘Cosmic Cliffs’ in the Carina Nebula unveils the earliest, rapid phases of star formation that were previously hidden. Looking at this star-forming region in the southern constellation Carina, as well as others like it, Webb can see newly forming stars and study the gas and dust that made them.

One of these you may have seen before — Stephan’s Quintet:

Stephan’s Quintet, a visual grouping of five galaxies, is best known for being prominently featured in the holiday classic film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Today, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope reveals Stephan’s Quintet in a new light. This enormous mosaic is Webb’s largest image to date, covering about one-fifth of the Moon’s diameter. It contains over 150 million pixels and is constructed from almost 1,000 separate image files. The information from Webb provides new insights into how galactic interactions may have driven galaxy evolution in the early universe.

(2) LEAVING THE STARTING GATE. Marina Koren says “Webb’s First View of the Universe Is Only the Beginning” in The Atlantic.

…The image, released today, was taken by the world’s newest space observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope. It is the first real snapshot from the mission, which launched more than six months ago and currently orbits about 1 million miles from Earth.

The picture is sparkly and beautiful, a great choice for a computer background. It is also, more important, an entirely new view of the universe. The light from the galaxies in the foreground left 4.6 billion years ago, and the light from the galaxies beyond those, even longer. All this light has been captured in unprecedented detail by the most powerful space telescope in history, making this one of the deepest, most high-resolution pictures of the universe that humankind has ever taken.

Astronomers call this kind of view a “deep field”: a picture of one spot in space, made with long exposure times so that the instrument can really bask in any incoming light. Remember Hubble, and that glorious deep-field image from the 1990s, sparkling with thousands of galaxies? The Webb telescope was designed to spot celestial objects that are about 100 times fainter than the ones Hubble can detect…. 

(3) MORE THAN PRETTY PICTURES. TIME Magazine thinks one of the JWST’s non-visual observations might be the most provocative: “What the James Webb Telescope Images Mean for Space”.

…Still, it was in some ways, the smallest object the telescope imaged—the exoplanet WASP-96b—that will likely cause the greatest excitement. Until now, exoplanets, or planets circling other stars, were detectable in only one of two ways: The transit method, in which astronomers discern the small dimming of light in a parent star as an orbiting planet passes in front of it; and the radial velocity method—in which they look for the small wobble in the position of the star as the gravity of the orbiting planet tugs on it.

What astronomers could never do until now was see the planet itself, since spotting so small a body in the blinding glare of its parent star would be like standing a block away and trying to see a moth fluttering next to a streetlight. The image of the smaller body would simply get washed out. And indeed, for now, Webb did not even get an image of WASP-96b itself; but what it got instead is something more important. Now that astronomers can even faintly image exoplanets, they can also look for signs of life on them, as the light from their parent star streams through their atmosphere, revealing the make-up of the gasses and the possibility of the chemical fingerprints of biology.

Webb got just such a chemical spectrum of WASP-96b, revealing that the atmosphere is rich in water, the key ingredient for life as we know it.

(4) CHICON’S ART-THEMED NEWS. Chicon 8 chair Helen Montgomery messaged members today about art exhibits and events at the 2022 Worldcon.

…Additionally, we will have two very special art exhibits courtesy of some of our other Guests of Honor, Joe Siclari and Edie Stern, and Erle Korshak. The Korshak Collection will be exhibited in the San Francisco room of the Hyatt Regency Chicago, right across the hall from the main Art Show. The Siclari/Stern Collection will be displayed within the Art Show in the Regency Ballroom. You will not want to miss these exhibits!

We will of course have our Art Show, Print Shop, and Art Auction. Artists will also be doing demos, and some will be in the Dealers Room / Creatives Corner of the Exhibit Hall. We are working on scheduling docent tours of the Art Show, and we are going to have a “Meet The Artist” event in the Art Show on Friday evening, where you will have the opportunity to talk to the artists about their work.

Chicon 8 will also be hosting The Chesley Awards on Friday evening of the convention in the Crystal Ballroom. The Chesley Awards are administered and presented by ASFA: The Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists. https://asfa-art.com/the-chesley-awards/

(5) IN LIVING COLOR. The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit “Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color”, about rediscovering the paint jobs that originally adorned ancient sculpture, continues through March 26, 2023.

“Ancient Greek and Roman sculpture was once colorful, vibrantly painted and richly adorned with detailed ornamentation. Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color reveals the colorful backstory of polychromy—meaning “many colors,” in Greek—and presents new discoveries of surviving ancient color on artworks in The Met’s world-class collection. Exploring the practices and materials used in ancient polychromy, the exhibition highlights cutting-edge scientific methods used to identify ancient color and examines how color helped convey meaning in antiquity, and how ancient polychromy has been viewed and understood in later periods.

The exhibition features a series of reconstructions of ancient sculptures in color by Prof. Dr. V. Brinkmann, Head of the Department of Antiquity at the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, and Dr. U. Koch-Brinkmann.”

(6) NOT A GOOD ATMOSPHERE FOR ARTISTS. Anime News Network rips “The Irresponsible Management of This Year’s Artist Alley – Anime Expo 2022” in this July 7 article. (The CO2 numbers are at the link.)

…Of course, there are many factors involved in community spread [of COVID], including vaccination (which doesn’t guarantee against infection, but drastically reduces one’s chance of hospitalization and death), mask usage (which is most effective when both parties are masked, especially the one who is infectious), mask type and fit, and environmental factors such as ventilation and airflow. Regarding the first two, Anime Expo briefly changed their COVID safety guidelines in early June, but eventually reverted their decision, requiring that all attendees either show proof of full COVID vaccination or a negative test taken within 72 hours, and asking that everyone wear a mask in all indoor spaces….

Another community spread factor, though, is ventilation. Transmission is reduced in outdoor settings where airflow tends to be high, but in indoor spaces, ventilation can vary drastically depending on different components. One attendee, who goes by the Twitter handle @nickelpin, was curious what the ventilation was like in various areas of the convention center, so she brought along a portable carbon dioxide monitor. The usage of CO2 monitors has been increasing in popularity—scientists and other data enthusiasts have been taking readings of places like airplanes and event spaces; parents have been sending their kids back to school with CO2 monitors to check the ventilation of classrooms….

…Outside of Day 1 heat-related effects, some artists reported feeling ill throughout the weekend with various non-COVID symptoms that subsided after they left the convention center each day. Since the end of the convention, a spreadsheet being shared amongst Artist Alley participants has shown increasing numbers of artists self-reporting headaches, drowsiness, and trouble concentrating, which could potentially be related to the high levels of CO2 in Kentia Hall.

One veteran artist who wanted to remain anonymous told us she had two panic attacks and a spell of nausea and vertigo, and had to rely on helpers so that she could take breaks outside the convention center. “It was worst on Saturday and Sunday, just kinda feeling like you’re breathing but not actually getting air.” She said her booth was located near a wall with three feet of space behind her, which made it more unusual to her that she felt she couldn’t breathe. She confirmed that she had not felt this way at other conventions or previous Anime Expos….

(7) HOW ABOUT THOSE HUGO-NOMINATED NOVELETTES? Cora Buhlert joined the Hugos There podcast again as part of a panel discussing the finalists for the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Novelette. Tthe audio only link is here.

(8) THE UNAVOIDABLE MESSAGE. Oliver Brackenbury has posted part II of his interview with David C. Smith at the So I’m Writing a Novel podcast: “Interview with David C. Smith (Part Two)”.

In this half we discuss the 80’s sword & sorcery publishing implosion, the importance of adapting to changing tastes and not just telling the same limited range of stories ad infinitum, how expanding something – like a genre’s possibilities – means more and doesn’t take away what’s already there that people like, the fallacy of thinking you can write a story with no theme or message or opinions or “politics” in it, David’s latest novel (Sometime Lofty Towers), avoiding the white savior pitfall and otherwise best practices when writing fictional indigenous peoples, the history of The Other in western civilization, cultural appropriation, writing outside “the usual sword & sorcery template”…

(9) PASSPORT TO NYUMBANI. Bill Ward shares his appreciation for “Charles R. Saunders’ Nyumbani Tales” at the Goodman Games blog: 

…But myths aren’t of course all grim sacrifice and heroic tragedy, and many of the strongest pieces in Nyumbani Tales are humorous accounts of tricksters, frauds, and con men. Fan favorite Pomphis the Bambuti, Imaro’s diminutive companion, appears in two of the most fun tales in the collection: “The Blacksmith and the Bambuti” and “Pomphis and the Poor Man,” exhibiting both the cleverness and the kindness that is a hallmark of his character. In “Two Rogues” a pair of grifters engage one another in cross and double-cross, complete with sorcery, a poison-gas-assisted heist, and a shape-shifted hippo. And it would be difficult to find a better – and funnier – story reinforcing that old adage of ‘be careful what you wish for’ than “Okosene Alakun and the Magic Guinea Fowl.”…

(10)  NOT JUST AN ILLUSION. Bobby Derie takes a look at Harry Houdini’s connection to Weird Tales in “Deeper Cut: Houdini & Weird Tales” at Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein. 

Chicago, 1923

Now long after I had inaugurated Weird Tales, I had a call by Houdini at my Chicago office; he expressed more than usual enthusiasm for the magazine, and the meeting resulted in a friendship lasting until his untimely death a few years later. He often regaled me with experiences of his that rivaled anything I had ever read in books. Several of these I published, but they were written in such a prosaic style that they evoked little comment.

J.C. Henneberger to Robert A. W. Lowndes, Magazine of Horror (May 1969) 117

(11) SHORT MARATHON. Cora Buhlert reports, “I’m also doing the July short story challenge again this year, where I write a story every day during the month of July, and I keep a running tally here –” “The 2022 July Short Story Challenge – Day by Day”.

…What is the July Short Story Challenge, you ask? Well, in July 2015, Dean Wesley Smith announced that he was planning to write a brand new short story every day during the month of July. The original post seems to be gone now, but the Wayback Machine has a copy here. At the time, several people announced that they would play along, so I decided to give it a try as well. And then I did it again the following year. And the next. And the next. If you want to read my post-mortems of the previous July short story challenges, here are the posts for 201520162017201820192020 and 2021.

Because I’ve already done the July short story challenge seven years in a row now and always found the experience very rewarding, I’m aiming for a repeat this year. This July is a very busy month for me, never mind that I caught a persistent and annoying cold (not covid, I did a test). Therefore I initially only committed to doing this for a single week, which is already finished, and now I’m going for the second week. Then, if things are going well, I’ll keep going….

(12) MEMORY LANE

1924 [By Cat Eldridge.] Once upon a time, well back in 1924, the noted Anglo-Irish writer Lord Dunsany saw his novel The King of Elfland’s Daughter published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons. It is considered to be one of the most influential and acclaimed works in all of fantasy literature, and a paperback edition was released in 1969 as part of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. 

Now many of you will recognize Steeleye Span, the famed British folk rock band founded in 1969 by Fairport Convention bass player Ashley Hutchings along with Tim Hart and Maddy Prior. (Maddy is the only musician still with it today.) Steeleye had more musicians coming through it than your typical publisher has associate publicists. One of those of was violinist Peter Knight who was with it for much its existence and left a decade back. 

(Yes, it was where Richard Thompson first got his start.) 

Like so many musicians, side-projects were a way of life and Knight was no exception. So, The King of Elfland’s Daughter narration was born with the assistance of Bob Johnson, another Steeleye musician, and a very special guest artist who you will all know. 

Now I don’t need to tell you this tale as Kestrell Rath already has done so for us over at Green Man quite delightfully. Just go read it here.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 12, 1895 Buckminster Fuller. Genre adjacent and I don’t believe that he actually wrote any SF though one could argue that Tetrascroll: Goldilocks and the Three Bears, A Cosmic Fairy Tale is genre. You will find his terminology used frequently in genre fiction including if memory serves right in Neal Asher’s Polity universe. (Died 1983.)
  • Born July 12, 1912 Joseph Mugnaini. An Italian born artist and illustrator. He is best known for his collaborations with writer Ray Bradbury, beginning in 1952. (Died 1992.)
  • Born July 12, 1923 James Gunn. Writer, editor, scholar, anthologist. Hugo winner at ConStellation (1983) for Isaac Asimov: The Foundations of Science Fiction. MidAmeriCon (1976) presented him with a Special Committee Award for Alternate Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction. The This Immortal series based on his novel by that name received a Best Dramatic Presentation nomination at Heicon ’70. Not surprisingly, he won a First Fandom Hall of Fame Award. (Died 2020.)
  • Born July 12, 1933 Donald E. Westlake. Though he specialized in crime fiction, he did dip into the genre on occasion such as with Transylvania Station with a lovely cover by Gahan Wilson.  You can think of it as a Clue style novel.  With monsters. He wrote with his wife Abby. On the horror end of things was Anarchaos. And he wrote a lot of genre short fiction, some fifty pieces by my count. Meteor Strike: Science Fiction Triple Feature has three of his SF stories is available from the usual suspects for ninety-nine cents. (Died 2008.)
  • Born July 12, 1946 Charles R. Saunders. African-American author and journalist who lived in Canada, much of his fiction is set in the fictional continent Nyumbani (which means “home” in Swahili). His main series is the Imaro novels which he called the first sword and sorcery series by a black writer. Griots, both of his short story collections, are available from the usual suspects and collect the material set in Nyumbani. (Died 2020.)
  • Born July 12, 1947 Carl Lundgren, 75. He co-founded ASFA (Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists of America), and won 4 Chesleys, including Artistic Achievement. At the tender age of eighteen, he was co-chairman of the first media SF convention, The Detroit Triple Fan Fair which featured comics, movies and various things of a SF nature. At Chicon IV, he was nominated for Best Professional Artist but lost out to Michael Whelan.
  • Born July 12, 1948 Ben Burtt, 74. Sound Designer for, and I’m not listing them all, more Star Wars films and series than I knew existed, plus the rebooted Star TrekStar Trek Into DarknessJohn Carter (yes, I really like it), WALL-E, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (no, I don’t like it) to name but a few. He has some acting creds as well such as when in the Return of the Jedi, he appeared as Colonel Dyer, the Imperial officer who yells “Freeze!” just before Solo knocks him off a balcony. 
  • Born July 12, 1970 Phil Jimenez, 52. Comics illustrator and writer. He was the main artist of Infinite Crisis, a sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths. He also did the awesome first issue of Planetary/Authority: Ruling the World, and was responsible for the first six issues of Fables spin-off, Fairest. I found that spin-off a lot of fun. Yes, I read all of Fables
  • Born July 12, 1976 Gwenda Bond, 46. Writer, critic, editor. She’s written a prequel to the Stranger Things series, Suspicious Mind, and I’m very fond of the two novels (The Lost Legacy and The Sphinx’s Secret) so far in her Supernormal Sleuthing Service which she wrote with her husband Christopher Rowe. And she penned the “Dear Aunt Gwenda” section of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet that Small Beer Press published in the early part of this millennium. And yes, she’s one of the multitudes that has written for the Wild Cards anthologies.

(14) LEIBER AND DELANY. At Attack of the 50 Year Old Comic Books, Alan Stewart remembers how he was taken by surprise by “Wonder Woman #202 (Sep.-Oct. 1972)”. First there were —

…science fiction and fantasy author Fritz Lieber’s sword-and-sorcery heroes, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.  What the heck were those guys doing on the cover of any DC comic book — let alone Wonder Woman

And then!

…The first was that I was coming in in the middle of an ongoing storyline.  The second was that the costumed woman Diana Prince was battling on the book’s cover was evidently Catwoman, wearing an outfit which, while not actually new, was unfamiliar to my fifteen-year-old self.  The third was that the script was by Samuel R. Delany — an author who, like Fritz Lieber, I hadn’t actually read anything by yet, but whom I nevertheless knew to be an award-winning young science fiction writer, associated with the same “New Wave” of more experimental, “literary” authors that also included Harlan Ellison and Michael Moorcock.  As much if not more so than Fafhrd and the Mouser, “Chip” Delany’s showing up in the present context seemed highly incongruous; really, what was the writer of the Hugo and Nebula-winning story “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones” doing scripting an issue of Wonder Woman?

(15) HORROR TROPES 101. Eva V. Gibson supplies “A Beginner’s Guide to Using (and Exploding) Horror Tropes” at CrimeReads.

…You see that knife on the book cover, you know you’ll find it, or its metaphorical equivalent, somewhere in the pages—and if it doesn’t show up, don’t you feel cheated? Well-executed tropes are used in horror stories for that specific reason: to deliver on those promises and evoke the feelings triggered by the introduction.

Effective trope use does, however, often require going beyond the basics. The techniques of trope usage in horror writing, as opposed to visual media, rely primarily on setting, mood building, plot twists, and tension to produce those promised chills. Some of my favorite tropes to use when writing horror are also my favorite to read, because they nearly always deliver the same impact across all forms of media….

(16) WILL THE STANDARD MODEL CAVE? “Physicists May Have Stumbled Upon an Entirely New Elementary Particle”Popular Mechanics explains.

Physicists are spelunking the complex findings from an experimental particle reactor found a mile below the surface in the mountains of Russia. What they found has the potential to send an earthquake through the bedrock of the standard model of physics itself: the results could confirm a new elementary particle, called a “sterile neutrino,” or demonstrate a need to revise a portion of the standard model….

(17) DANNY DUNN AND THE HOMEWORK MACHINE? “Artificial Intelligence Bot Wrote Scientific Paper in 2 Hours” and Insider asks about the issues that raised.

…After the successful experiment, Thunström, a Swedish researcher at Gothenburg University, sought to get a whole research paper out of GPT-3 and publish it in a peer-reviewed academic journal. The question was: Can someone publish a paper from a nonhuman source? 

Thunström wrote about the experiment in Scientific American, noting that the process of getting GPT-3 published brought up a series of legal and ethical questions. 

“All we know is, we opened a gate,” Thunström wrote. “We just hope we didn’t open a Pandora’s box.”

After GPT-3 completed its scientific paper in just two hours, Thunström began the process of submitting the work and had to ask the algorithm if it consented to being published.

“It answered: Yes,” Thunström wrote. “Slightly sweaty and relieved (if it had said no, my conscience could not have allowed me to go on further), I checked the box for ‘Yes.'” 

She also asked if it had any conflicts of interest, to which the algorithm replied “no,” and Thunström wrote that the authors began to treat GPT-3 as a sentient being, even though it wasn’t…. 

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge,” Fandom Games says that this game is really close to the arcade game Turtles In Time.  How close?  I’d say what they think IP lawyers will react to in the game but this is a family blog.  But the story is only one line — “Destroy the turtles!”– and the game is a reminder of how, 30 years ago, “You were still capable of experiencing joy.”

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

Pixel Scroll 7/9/22 Pixeled In The Scroll By A Chuck Tingle Pixel Scroll Title

(1) CULTURAL INSIGHTS INTO A MULTIVERSE. [Item by Soon Lee.] This terrific article by S. Qiouyi Lu explores many aspects of Everything Everywhere All at Once from a Chinese-American perspective that might not be immediately apparent to a Western viewer. At Strange Horizons: “Everything Everywhere All At Once”. SPOILERS.

…It was as if I had just seen my own brain projected onto the screen. And there were things in Everything Everywhere All At Once that I’d never seen before on the big screen. I’m not talking about the dildo fights, though those were indeed new to me. I’m talking more about seeing an immigrant Chinese mother allowed to fail, and fail repeatedly; seeing a dorky Chinese dad be a badass and a love interest; seeing a Chinese family openly having emotionally vulnerable reconciliations with each other; seeing an entire cast of people from multiple Chinese diasporas coming together to create a movie in which the greatest villain to defeat is the bureaucracy excluding Chinese people from being part of the United States. Nor had I ever seen a movie that so thoroughly reflected my own philosophical, moral, and ethical understandings of the world, mirroring them so closely that I wept with the resonance of its message….

(2) HE, THE JURY. Alex Hormann of the At Boundary’s Edge review site discusses his experience as a judge in the inaugural Self-Published Science Fiction Competition: “SPSFC At Boundary’s Edge: Closing Thoughts”.

Who Is It For?

This one has been weighing on my mind a lot recently. When I look at social media, there are two groups I see talking about the SPSFC. The first are the judges, promoting their reviews and favourite books. The second group is the authors themselves, sharing the positive reviews and using the contest to support each other. This is all great, by the way. While I do think the self-publishing community can be a little insular and self-congratulatory at times, that goes for just about any group of people. But what I’m not seeing a whole lot of is readers. Now, it’s always going to be true that most people who visit a blog aren’t going to comment or engage beyond their initial reading, but it has left the SPSFC feeling somewhat inward-looking. If the majority of the interest is from bloggers and writers, then the SPSFC isn’t really helping books find a wider audience, which to me is the whole point of the competition. For context, the fewer books I talk about in a post, the fewer views it receives. The initial cut posts are all in the three figure range, while the individual reviews still sit in the double digits. To me, this suggests that the people reading the reviews are the authors and their already interested following. I could be wrong about this though. If you’ve found a book through the SPSFC, do let me know.

The caveat here is that this is only year one of the SPSFC. Success doesn’t come overnight. It grows over time. Right now the only people following the SPSFC are those with a stake in it. Next year, there will presumably be more. Exposure is an exponential curve….

(3) SILENTS ARE GOLDEN. The New York Times’ Calum Marsh has a pretty good handle on “The Real Reason the Minions Have Taken Over the World”.

…“Despicable Me” is Gru’s story, but it’s the Minions that made the biggest impression, leading to a larger role in “Despicable Me 2” (2013) and their own vehicle in 2015. Central to their appeal is their unique manner of communicating. Voiced by [Pierre] Coffin himself, they speak a peculiar, made-up language, Minionese, that is both indecipherable and strangely coherent. A gibberish tongue that borrows words from English, Spanish, Dutch and other languages, it has a bubbly, mellifluous tone that is used to almost musical effect. When the Minions hijack an airplane in “Rise of Gru,” one makes an announcement to the passengers over the intercom. What he says is nonsense. But it sounds exactly like the bland, soothing patter of a pilot before takeoff; that you get the gist of the message without identifying a single word is the joke.

Of course, because the Minions don’t use a comprehensible language, their humor isn’t based on spoken jokes. This has doubtless helped the franchise find success abroad — with few punch lines in English, little is lost in translation. But the emphasis on sight gags and physical humor makes the Minions films very different from what you’d expect of family-friendly modern animation. Given the abundance of acrobatic antics, pratfalls and slapstick action, what the Minion movies end up resembling most is silent-era comedies.

Coffin has often mentioned the influence of silent comedians on the style and spirit of the Minions, and he has said he drew inspiration from such titans of the form as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, particularly their gift for “telling a story through character that conveys humor, emotion, even plasticity.”…

(4) FIRST, THEY HAD TO FIND THEM. [Item by Michael Toman.] “Don’t Bogart that old NASA Voyager manual, pass it over to me?” “NASA’s Voyager 1 from the ’70s is glitching. Engineers are consulting 45-year-old manuals to troubleshoot.” reports Business Insider.

…During the first 12 years of the Voyager mission, thousands of engineers worked on the project, according to Dodd. “As they retired in the ’70s and ’80s, there wasn’t a big push to have a project document library. People would take their boxes home to their garage,” Dodd added. In modern missions, NASA keeps more robust records of documentation.

There are some boxes with documents and schematic stored off-site from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Dodd and the rest of Voyager’s handlers can request access to these records. Still, it can be a challenge. “Getting that information requires you to figure out who works in that area on the project,” Dodd said. 

For Voyager 1’s latest glitch, mission engineers have had to specifically look for boxes under the name of engineers who helped design the altitude-control system. “It’s a time consuming process,” Dodd said…. 

(5) IT’S A THOR SPOT WITH HIM. Leonard Maltin drops the hammer on the latest Marvel film: “Thor: Love, Thunder And Shtick” at Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy.

… But there can be too much of a good thing, as anyone who’s overindulged in chocolate or ice cream can verify. The new Thor: Love and Thunder is a scattered affair that, at a certain point, is played as out-and-out comedy. Can this really be Chris Hemsworth spouting gag lines? Is his relationship to Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) a springboard for sitcom-style jokes? Even the rock-like creature Korg, played by Waititi, wears out his welcome before this meandering story concludes….

(6) YOU WON’T HAVE TO SHELL OUT FOR THESE PEANUTS. “Charles M. Schulz: An American Cartoonist” is a free online event hosted by the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum of Ohio State University. The webinar will run July 23 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Register at the link.

Join us via Zoom for a pictorial journey through Charles M. Schulz’s life and career and learn why Peanuts is one of the most popular and influential comic strips ever. This live, interactive experience includes a hands-on, how-to-draw Snoopy workshop at the end. This event is presented by the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California in partnership with the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum’s exhibition Celebrating Sparky.

(7) L. Q. JONES (1927-2022) L. Q. Jones, a character actor with a deep resume, who also directed A Boy and His Dog based on the Harlan Ellison story, died July 8. His first film role was a solder in Battle Cry (1955), and his latest was in Robert Altman’s final film A Prairie Home Companion (2006). Variety adds:

…Jones’ career also extended beyond screen acting, producing four independent features over his life. He produced, directed and wrote the 1975 feature “A Boy and His Dog,” which is adapted from Harlan Ellison’s novella of the same name. Jones began the project as an executive producer, but took over writing and directing responsibilities as other collaborators fell through.

A post-apocalyptic black comedy, “A Boy and His Dog” follows a teenager and his telepathic dog as they fight for survival in the southwestern U.S. of 2024, a time when nuclear fallout grips the world. Starring a young Don Johnson and Jason Robards, Jones’ fellow Peckinpah alum, the film has garnered the reputation of a cult classic over the years, with Jones stating that director George Miller cited it as an influence for his “Mad Max” series…

Jones and Ellison were both on hand at DisCon II (1974) where a rough cut of the movie was shown. It was really rough, because one of the two 35mm projectors broke down and they were forced to show it one reel at a time, with yawn-inducing delays each time they mounted the new reel. And when it was shown again at next year’s NASFiC in LA – the same thing happened!

(8) MEMORY LANE

1987 [By Cat Eldridge.] An Appreciation: Ellen Kushner’s Riverside series

I read it starting with the first book Swordspoint: A Melodrama of Manners. The second paragraph of that novel has this lovely sentence: “Let the fairy tale begin on a winter’s morning, then, with one drop of blood newly-fallen on the ivory snow: a drop as bright as a clear-cut ruby, red as a single spot of claret on the lace cuff.” Oh my. 

I was hooked. A novel that was a fantasy of manners as Kushner called it, set in a city where it was always winter, where being gay was normal and nothing to be commented upon, conversations are sharp as the ever-present sword fighting is and the drink of choice is hot chocolate. What was there not to love? 

Riverside itself is a fascinating setting. As the name implies the place is set up in now decaying buildings near a river which I don’t recall as ever being named. Kushner simply calls it “an unsavoury quarter in a prosperous city”. It is always cold there, and dressing properly is of course important as is dressing with a degree of elegance. One character notes that “He felt the cold, the wind cutting across the river, even in his new clothes. He had bought himself a heavy cloak, jacket, and fur-lined gloves.”

Oh, and the stories told here are quite fascinating. I’m going to avoid talking about them as there’s a good possibility that some of you might not have read this series yet. Our Green Man reviewer of Swordspoint in his retrospective review said “I once called this book ‘elegant, magical, and bitchy’,” and that, I think, still catches the feel of it. George R. R. Martin said “Swordspoint has an unforgettable opening . . . and just gets better from there.” That’s only the truth.” 

If you decide to read the series, you are for a extended and absolutely great reading experience as there would be quite a few novels to come telling a complex story that will extend over a considerable period of time. There are also a number of short stories too.

There are also audiobooks of the series which I should bring to your attention as these are full cast productions in which damn near everyone performs including Neil Gaiman and Simon Jones. It’s a stellar experience. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 9, 1906 Walter Sande. He’s best remembered for being on Red Planet MarsThe War of the Worlds and Invaders from Mars, but he also showed up playing a heavy in such serials as The Green Hornet Strikes Again! and Sky Raiders, the latter being at least genre adjacent. He’s had a recurring role as Col. Crockett on The Wild Wild West, and one-offs on Voyage to the Bottom of The SeaThe Man from U.N.C.L.E.Lost in Space and Bewitched. (Died 1971.)
  • Born July 9, 1911 Mervyn Peake. Best remembered for the Gormenghast series which is quite delightfully weird. Most fans hold that there are but three novels in the series (Titus Groan, Gormenghast and Titus Alone) though there’s a novella, “Boy in Darkness”, that is a part of it. It has been adapted for radio three times and television once, and Gaiman is writing the script for a forthcoming series which isn’t out yet. (Died 1968.)
  • Born July 9, 1938 Brian Dennehy. One of my favorite performers. He was Walter in the Cocoon films, and, though it’s more genre adjacent than actually genre, Lt. Leo McCarthy in F/X and F/X 2 which I immensely enjoyed. He also voiced Django in Ratatouille, a film that was, err, very tasty.Sorry I couldn’t resist the pun. I thought his very last performance was as Jerome Townsend in the “Sing, Sing, Sing” episode of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels series, but he shot three films that either have come out since he died, or will, none genre or genre adjacent. (Died 2020.)
  • Born July 9, 1944 Glen Cook, 78. Yes, I’ve read his entire excellent Black Company series. I’ve also mostly liked his far lighter Garrett P.I. series (though not the last novel for reasons I’ll not discuss here) which it seems unfortunately he’s abandoned. And I really should read the Instrumentalities of the Night as I’ve heard good things about it. I’m really, really surprised not only that he hasn’t won any awards, but how few he’s been nominated for. 
  • Born July 9, 1954 Ellen Klages, 68. Her story “Basement Magic” won a Nebula Award for Best Novelette. I strongly recommend Portable Childhoods, a collection of her short fiction, published by Tachyon Publications, my favorite publisher of fantasy. They released another collection from her, Wicked Wonders, which is equally wonderful. Passing Strange, her novel set in 1940s San Francisco, which won a BSFA Award and a World Fantasy Award, is also really great. Ok, I really like her.
  • Born July 9, 1970 Ekaterina Sedia, 52. Her Heart of Iron novel which was nominated for a Sidewise Award for Alternate History is simply awesome. I’d also recommend The Secret History of Moscow and the recent The House of Discarded Dreams as well, the latter is a fantastic audio work which is narrated by Robin Miles. It’s worth noting that the usual suspects list several collections by her, Willful Impropriety: 13 Tales of Society, Scandal, and Romance and Wilfill Impropriety that ISFDB doesn’t list. They’re quite superb it turns out as is Paper Cities: An Anthology of Urban Fantasy for which she won a World Fantasy Award. She had a story out just last year, “Ghost Shop”, in Professor Charlatan Bardot’s Travel Anthology to the Most (Fictional) Haunted Buildings in the Weird, Wild World.  She’s amply stocked at the usual suspects. She’s also very deeply stocked at the audio suspects as well which sort of surprised and delighted me as I’ve added a number of her works to my To Be Listened to list, including The House of Discarded Dreams which sounds really fascinating in the manner of Gaiman’s Sandman.
  • Born July 9, 1978 Linda Park, 44. Best known for her portrayal of communications officer Hoshi Sato on Enterprise, a series that deeply divides Trekkies. (I really liked it.) Her first genre role was Hannah in Jurassic Park III, and she was Renee Hansen in the Spectres filmwhich Marina Sirtis was also in. She was in something called Star Trek: Captain Pike as Captain Grace Shintal. It has to be another one of those fan video fictions which are quite common. Her latest genre role was in For All Mankind as Amy Chang in the “Pathfinder” episode. 
  • Born July 9, 1995 Georgie Henley, 27. English actress, best remembered for her portrayal of Lucy Pevensie throughout the Chronicles of Narnia film franchise from age ten to age fifteen. Not even vaguely genre adjacent, she recently played Margaret, Queen of Scots in The Spanish Princess.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side features a Stone Age alien encounter.
  • Tom Gauld’s latest cartoon for the Guardian:

 (11) FANS MOURN TAKAHASHI. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna has an appreciation for “Yu-Gi-Oh” creator Kazuki Takahashi. “’Yu-Gi-Oh!’ creator Kazuki Takahashi dies at 60”.

…Takahashi’s creatures range from horror to fantasy, yet “there’s a common craftsmanship among them — the kind of thing that reveals hidden details over time, as well as the visceral ‘Oh my God, that looks so rad,’ ” [Daniel Dockery, senior writer for Crunchyroll] said. “The fact that they would be summoned in a world not too unlike our own makes them even more appealing to the eye. They are truly yours to adore and play with, making you feel powerful and inspired in equal measure.”

Takahashi had recently worked on this year’s Marvel’s “Secret Reverse,” a manga graphic novel team-up featuring Spider-Man and Iron Man/Tony Stark, who travels to a Japanese gaming convention….

(12) OH, THOSE REBELLIOUS YOUNG PEOPLE. The New York Times is curious: “‘Why Is Everyone Wearing Suits?’: #GentleMinions Has Moviegoers Dressing Up”.  

Normally when Carson Paskill heads to the movie theater, he opts for a comfortable outfit of sweatpants and a sweatshirt. But last weekend, he arrived in a black suit, white collared shirt and dress shoes.

Mr. Paskill, 20, attended a screening of “Minions: The Rise of Gru” at the Century 16 in Beaverton, Ore., on July 2 with eight of his friends, all dressed in suits for the occasion.

“Anybody over the age of 25 was, like, really, really confused about what we were doing there,” said Mr. Paskill, who has 1.6 million followers on TikTok. “Like, ‘why is everyone wearing suits?’”

The inspiration is a TikTok trend known as #GentleMinions, which has amassed more than 61 million views on the platform. It encourages “Minions” moviegoers to film themselves as they dress up in suits and sunglasses to attend screenings of the latest installment of the “Despicable Me” series….

(13) HOW DO YOU GET THIS THING OUT OF SECOND GEAR? “Why the [expletive] can’t we travel back in time?” from Ars Technica in 2021.

Look, we’re not totally ignorant about time. We know that the dimension of time is woven together with the three dimensions of space, creating a four-dimensional fabric for the Universe. We know that the passage of time is relative; depending on your frame of reference, you can slip forward into the future as gently as you please. (You just need to either go close to the speed of light or get cozy with a black hole, but those are just minor problems of engineering, not physics.)

But as far as we can tell, we can’t reverse the flow of time. All evidence indicates that travel into the past is forbidden in our Universe. Every time we try to concoct a time machine, some random rule of the Universe comes in and slaps our hand away from the temporal cookie jar.

And yet, we have no idea why. The reasons really seem random; there is nothing fundamental we can point to, no law or equation or concept that definitively explains why thou shalt not travel into the past. And that’s pretty frustrating. It’s obvious that the Universe is telling us something important… we just don’t know what it’s saying.

Go ahead, kill your grandfather

There are all sorts of philosophical debates for and against the possibility of time travel. Take, for example, the famous “grandfather paradox.” Let’s say you build a time machine and travel back in time. You find your own grandfather and shoot him dead (I don’t know why, but roll with me here). But wait… if your grandfather is dead, it means he can’t father your father, which means you never exist. So how did you go back in time to do the awful deed?…

(14) CATCH A FALLING STAR. In this week’s Nature: “European mission plans to ambush a rare comet”.

The European Space Agency (ESA) last month approved the first mission that will launch without a pre-selected target. Instead, it will wait in space, ready to fly at short notice.

The Comet Interceptor mission will launch in 2028 and will travel to a point of gravitational stability 1.5 million kilometres from Earth. Once there, it will be able to wait for up to six years for a suitable comet to pass close enough to Earth’s orbit to visit. If that occurs, the probe will leave on a fly-by course. The main spacecraft will approach to a distance of about 1,000 kilometres — far enough away to avoid being damaged by nearby material — while two smaller probes will dive closer, down to as little as 400 kilometres from the surface.

The goal is to find a pristine object, known as a long-period comet, that is approaching the Sun for the first time. The encounter would provide a window on material that formed at the dawn of the Solar System, 4.5 billion years ago. Other missions have visited comets that have been altered by the Sun because they have spent time in the inner Solar System.

Alternatively, the craft could intercept an object from another solar system, similar to the rock ‘Oumuamua, which crossed the Solar System in 2017.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: V Rising,” you play a vampire who isn’t harmed that much by sunlight, “Making him like a really committed Goth.”  But the real vampires are the gamers who spend too long on this “because they’re sucking their parents’ retirement money.”

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

Pixel Scroll 7/6/22 I Come From A Pixel Down Under, Where Fen Scroll and Pros Wonder

(1) HEARING FROM DELANY. Sally Wiener Grotta kicks off a new video interview series — “What If? Why Not? How?” – with the help of Samuel Delany (who has more to say in the comments at Facebook).

A few weeks ago, when Samuel Delany and I were at a gathering of friends at Michael Swanwick‘s and Marianne Porter’s home, he explained why he feels that spelling “black” with a capital “B” is racist. As is always true, Chip’s discourse was fascinating, keeping us spellbound. There and then, I knew I would want to record him on the subject. So, here he is, helping me launch my new video interview series: “What If? Why Not? How?” 

(2) IN PERSON IN SAN DIEGO. Heidi McDonald scouts the layout for Publishers Weekly in “San Diego Comic-Con Is Back”.

For the first time in three years, San Diego Comic-Con is returning as an in-person event. However, in a world changed by an ongoing global pandemic, even the gigantic pop culture institution will look very different when fans finally return to the San Diego Convention Center July 20–24.

It’s all part of the event industry’s transition away from the most severe pandemic restrictions, as comics publishers and media companies approach events, sales, and marketing in a new social and economic landscape. For publishers, online sales have soared, and the cost of exhibiting at giant pop culture conventions isn’t always justified financially. Nevertheless, the glamour and excitement of SDCC remains a draw, and the intangible value of seeing popular artists, as well as industry colleagues, in person has been much missed.

But this year the layout of the exhibit floor at the San Diego Convention Center will feature significant changes. Warner Bros. Discovery, the newly formed parent company of DC, has pulled out of the massive booth that once anchored the end of one hall and housed DC’s SDCC booth presence. DC will have a full lineup of panels and talent, but no booth. Dark Horse Comics, which has had a large centrally located booth for years, will also be missing, along with the longtime floor presence of indie publisher Drawn & Quarterly and publisher/merchandise producer Graphitti Designs. Image Comics, also a major presence on the exhibit floor, will have a much smaller booth.

Making up for this, newer graphic novel publishers, such as Immortal Studios, Interpop, Tapas Media/Wuxia World, Three Worlds/Three Moons, and Z2, will have booths for the first time….

(3) TRACKING COVID AFTER WESTERCON. Westercon 74, held over the July 4th weekend in Tonopah, has created a COVID tracking page on its website to collate COVID-19 reports.

We ask that any person who contracts COVID-19 during Westercon 74 or for one week following the convention please send an email to covid@westercon74.org so that we can track any possible outbreak. We will not release any personally-identifying information without prior approval from the person who reports having been infected.

So far there is one report from an attendee of Westercon 74 reporting a positive COVID-19 self-test.

Kevin Standlee emphasizes, “We won’t report personal information without the person’s permission.”

(4) A SLICE OF MIDDLE-EARTH. Here’s about 25% of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Prime Video Exclusive Sneak Peek available today to Prime Video subscribers.

(5) DOMINIQUE DICKEY Q&A. Sarah Gailey interviews “Dominique Dickey of Plant Girl Game, “a cozy tabletop roleplaying game about a family of plant children working together to prevent an ecological disaster.” The crowdfunding appeal for the game is open for another 14 days at Gamefound.

The character age range for this game is young, ranging from 11 years old and up. What makes a child or adolescent’s perspective on community unique?

Children often think of very simple solutions to complex problems, because they’re more immersed in how the world should work than how it actually functions. Adolescents tend to run face first into that complexity: I remember at the age of fifteen or so, going from “Well, why can’t we just fix climate change?” to “A lot of very powerful people are invested in maintaining the status quo, and we have a narrow window of time in which to break that status quo, and it won’t be easy to do so.” I was absolutely enraged, because the childish part of me was still unable to conceptualize cruelty on a larger scale than playground bullies or mean girls in the locker room. I had a child’s expansive empathy, and wasn’t able to understand why anyone would lack that empathy.

Which is a roundabout way of saying that I want players to face that tension. I want players to begin a session of Plant Girl Game with the childlike knowledge that the world should be a kinder, fairer place, and leave with the adolescent realization that if we want that world—for ourselves and for our loved ones—we’re going to have to fight like hell for it….

(6) BE A FRINGE FAN IN A GOOD WAY. [Item by Alison Scott.] Filers might in general be interested in the Chicon Fringe programme, with local Chicago and online events. Events are free and you do not need to be a Chicon 8 member to attend. 

But I’m writing specifically because I’m hosting, on behalf of Glasgow in 2024, an online ‘book club’ discussion on the Best Fanzine finalists.

Tuesday 19th July, 19:30 p.m. BST, 1:30 p.m. CDT. Tickets, which are free, are available at Eventbrite here.

It would be lovely to see Filers, and fanzine readers more generally, there. 

(7) DEVELOPING FRIENDSHIPS. Elizabeth Bear’s guest post on Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog is about a different bit than she anticipated: “My Favorite Bit: Elizabeth Bear Talks About The Origin of Storms.

When I sat down to write this essay, I was thinking that I was going to write about the extremely ancient and slightly dimensionally shifted dragon, possibly, or maybe that I was going to write about the snarky magic pen. But (“upon contemplation,” as they say) I realized my favorite part of The Origin of Storms—the thing that was absolutely the most fun to write—is the friendships…..

(8) ON THE TUBE. “Neil Gaiman’s Books Have Enchanted Millions. Finally, Hollywood Is on Board” reports the Washington Post.

…“All of the things that made ‘Sandman’ wonderful were the same things that made it almost impossible to adapt for film and television for 30 years,” says David S. Goyer, a filmmaker and producer who was a co-writer on the “Dark Knight” Batman trilogy. “All of the features that we love about ‘Sandman’ — that it is, in essence, a story about stories — are the bugs that stymied Hollywood.”

Today that is no longer the case. Quietly and steadily over the past six years, Gaiman has matched some of the most prolific creators in Hollywood. And after 32 years trapped in the purgatory of Hollywood development, a 10-episode series based on “The Sandman” will premiere on Netflix on Aug. 5. Developed by Gaiman, Goyer and writer Allan Heinberg, it represents one of the streaming service’s biggest-budget original productions. Meanwhile, Gaiman’s 2005 novel “Anansi Boys,” a modern twist on the ancient stories of the West African trickster god Anansi, is now an Amazon Studios series in postproduction, and “Good Omens” recently wrapped filming its second season. These follow on the heels of the series“American Gods,” which premiered in 2017 on Starz — earning two Emmy nominations for its first season — and aired its third season last year.

In total, Gaiman has seven shows that he has developed or that are based on his writing, with more in the works. He has become the great adapter, pulling from the store of fable and myth for his books, and transmogrifying his written work into radio and stage plays, audiobooks and movies. And now television.

Gaiman’s books “couldn’t get made in a three-network landscape,” Hamm says, owing to their complexity. As television has matured, though, so too have the opportunities to tell more-nuanced stories….

(9) MEMORY LANE

1957 [By Cat Eldridge.] Sixty-five year ago, one of the very best Warner Bros. cartoons ever done was released on this in the form of Bugs Bunny’s “What’s Opera, Doc?”

It directed by Chuck Jones as written by Michael Maltese whose longest association not unsurprisingly was with Warner Bros. Cartoons, though he did work with other animators such as MGM Cartoons and Hanna-Barbera.

BEWARE! SPOILERS! I MEAN IT! 

In this cartoon, Elmer is chasing Bugs through a number of Richard Wagner’s operas, including Der Ring des NibelungenDer Fliegende Holländer, and Tannhäuser. Fudd is dressed as Siegfried and Bugs as Brunhilda to start it off and then, well let’s just say it’s just it gets even more manic. 

Bugs is apparently dead at the end of the cartoon as Fudd carries him off but he suddenly breaks the fourth wall and raises his head to face the audience while remarking, “Well, what did you expect in an opera? A happy ending?”

END SPOILERS

Given it has only two characters, it won’t surprise there’s only two voice actors. Mel Blanc was Bugs Bunny (as Brünnhilde) and  Elmer Fudd (yelling “SMOG”) which is no surprise, but the surprise for me that that Mel Blanc wasn’t Elmer Fudd being Siegfried but rather it was Arthur Q. Bryan who went uncredited in the cartoon.

It has been voted the best Warner Bros. Cartoon ever. 

A look at the iTunes stores shows it is available there. 

There’s are clips from it legally up YouTube but the entire cartoon is not so please do not offer links to such as they’ll just need to be removed as we don’t host pirated material here. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 6, 1916 — Donald R. Christensen. Animator, cartoonist, illustrator, writer. He worked briefly at Warner Bros. studio, primarily as a storyboard artist for Bob Clampett’s animation unit.  After that, he worked for Dell, Gold Key and Western Publishing comic books, as well as Hanna Barbera, Walter Lantz Productions and other cartoon studios. He wrote and provided illustrations for such comic book titles as Magnus, Robot Fighter, Donald Duck, and Uncle Scrooge. (Died 2006.)
  • Born July 6, 1918 — Sebastian Cabot. He’s here because he’s in The Time Machine, which was nominated for a Hugo at Seacon, as Dr. Philip Hillyer. Several years later, he’ll be in the animated The Sword in the Stone voicing both Lord Ector and The Narrator. Likewise he’d be Bagheera in The Jungle Book, and The Narrator in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Lastly he shows up in several episodes of Fifties series Conrad Nagel Theater. (Died 1977.)
  • Born July 6, 1927 — Janet Leigh. Certainly best remembered as doomed Marion Crane in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. She would also be in with her daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, in both The Fog and Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. She’s also in the Night of the Lepus, a very odd 70s SF film. (Died 2004.)
  • Born July 6, 1945 — Rodney Matthews, 77. British illustrator and conceptual designer. Among his many endeavors was one with Michael Moorcock creating a series of 12 large posters that showed scenes from Moorcock’s ‘Eternal Champion’ series. This is turn became the Wizardry and Wild Romance calendar. He also worked work with Gerry Anderson on the Lavender Castle series. 
  • Born July 6, 1945 — Burt Ward, 77. Robin in that Batman series. He would reprise the role in voicing the character in The New Adventures of Batman and Legends of the Superheroes, and two animated films, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face. (Has anyone seen these?) The latter are the last work done by Adam West before his death. 
  • Born July 6, 1946 — Sylvester Stallone, 76. Although I think Stallone made a far less than perfect Dredd, I think the look and feel of the first film was spot on for the 2000 A.D. series which was something the second film, which though it had a perfect Dredd in Karl Urban, utterly lacked. And Demolition Man and him as Sergeant John Spartan were just perfect.
  • Born July 6, 1950 — Rick Sternbach, 72. Best known for his work in the Trek verse sharing with Star Trek: The Motion Picture where he designed control panel layouts and signage for the Enterprise. He’s next hired for Next Gen where communicator badge, phasers, PADDs and tricorders are all based on his designs. These designs will also be used on DS9 andVoyager. He also pretty much designed every starship during that time from from the Cardassian and Klingon ships to the Voyager itself. He would win Best Professional Artist Hugos at SunCon and IguanaCon II, and he was the Artist Guest of Honor at Denvention 3. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro is about a bit of financial planning for frogs that reminds me of a bit in Hitchhiker’s Guide.
  • The Argyle Sweater is funny – if you get the reference. I once had a 5-year-old, so I do.

(12) MALTIN ON MOVIES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to the podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Dean Fleischer Camp about Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.  Both the Maltins very much like this film. Camp doesn’t provide many technical details, although he credits animation director Kirsten Lepore with doing a lot of the work during the 2 1/2 years it took to make this film.  He also explained that Isabella Rosselini was attached to the project because she likes making quirky artistic choices. Camp also discussed how he and Jenny Slate, who voices Marcel and worked on the script, remain close professional collaborators even though they broke up their relationship. Fun unrelated fact:  director Mike Mills lifts the spirits of his set by bringing in a harpist every friday to play for an hour. Maltin on Movies: Dean Fleischer-Camp”.

The Maltins also had a 2017 conversation with Jenny, available here.

(13) UPGRADE. “The Mars Express spacecraft is finally getting a Windows 98 upgrade” reports The Verge. Although you probably want to know, the ESA hasn’t detailed the exact software that the MARSIS is being upgraded to.

Engineers at the European Space Agency (ESA) are getting ready for a Windows 98 upgrade on an orbiter circling Mars. The Mars Express spacecraft has been operating for more than 19 years, and the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding (MARSIS) instrument onboard has been using software built using Windows 98. Thankfully for humanity and the Red Planet’s sake, the ESA isn’t upgrading its systems to Windows ME.

The MARSIS instrument on ESA’s Mars Express was key to the discovery of a huge underground aquifer of liquid water on the Red Planet in 2018. This major new software upgrade “will allow it to see beneath the surfaces of Mars and its moon Phobos in more detail than ever before,” according to the ESA. The agency originally launched the Mars Express into space in 2003 as its first mission to the Red Planet, and it has spent nearly two decades exploring the planet’s surface….

(14) SOMETHING FOR HUMMERS TO BE HUMBLE ABOUT. “Over 11 years and 570 episodes, John Rabe and Team Off-Ramp scoured SoCal for the people, places, and ideas whose stories needed to be told, and the show became a love-letter to Los Angeles. Now, John is sharing selections from the Off-Ramp vault to help you explore this imperfect paradise.” Off-Ramp at LAist.

Alex Ross says you’re probably humming “Star Wars” wrong … and more on the surprising music of John Williams, who is NOT a copycat.

John Williams is so ubiquitous now, as former leader of the Boston Pops and the man behind the music for so many Lucas and Spielberg films; and old-fashioned lush orchestral scores are now so common, it’s hard to believe they were endangered a few decades ago. But they were, and Alex Ross, the New Yorker music writer, says you can thank Williams. In a long Off-Ramp interview from 2016 with tons of musical examples, Alex makes the case for Williams, and debunks the notion that the maestro is any sort of plagiarist. He also gamely demonstrates how to properly hum the Star Wars theme. Support for this podcast is made possible by Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live; and bythe Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. (Off-Ramp theme music by Fesliyan Studios.)

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Metal Gear Rising: Revengance,” the narrator says that this game is like equivalent of “if George Orwell downed 10 Monster Energies and asked you to cut up with a katana in the backyard.” It’s slice and dice action that “lets you rip through everything like a kid at Christmas.” And “revengance” means “revenge with a vengance.”

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