Pixel Scroll 5/5/22 I Have Pixeled The Scrolls That Were In The File, And Which You Were Probably Saving For Worldcon

(1) FREE COMIC BOOK DAY DRAWS NEAR. May 7 is Free Comic Book Day, a single day when participating comic book specialty shops across North America and around the world give away comic books to anyone who comes in. Check out the Free Comic Book Day Catalog and see what’s available. Different shops have policies on how many free comics you can receive, but you will receive at least one free comic if you enter a participating shop location. Use the Store Locator tool to find the shop near you.

(2) TAFF DELEGATE COMING HOME. Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate Michael “Orange Mike” Lowrey made it through the Covid protocol and is scheduled to return to the U.S. from the U.K. tomorrow.

(3) FLAME ON. The House of the Dragon official teaser trailer is live.

History does not remember blood. It remembers names. August 21.

HBO also released these character posters.

(4) OPERATION FANTAST LEGACY BUSINESS ENDING. [Item by Andrew Porter.] Susie Haynes, owner of Fantast Three, will close the business after importing and distributing the July/August issues of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science FictionAnalog SF, and Asimov’s SF, the US SF magazines she imports. She has already sold off her remaining stock of science fiction books.

It was originally begun as “Operation Fantast” by British SF fan Ken Slater, who played a major role in restarting British science fiction fandom after World War II. 

He created Operation Fantast to get around British post-WW II import and currency restrictions. This was turned into the bookseller Fantast (Medway) Ltd. in 1955. When Slater died in 2008 his daughter took over the business. Between them, the business had existed for 75 years.

(5) OVERCOMER HONORED. The American Library Association announces: “Martha Hickson receives the 2022 Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity”. The award was established in 2014 by the American Library Association in partnership with Snicket series author Daniel Handler. The prize, which is co-administered by ALA’s Governance Office and the Office for Intellectual Freedom, annually recognizes and honors a librarian who has faced adversity with integrity and dignity intact. The prize is $10,000, a certificate and “an odd, symbolic object.” 

Martha Hickson, media specialist at North Hunterdon High School in Annandale, New Jersey, has been selected as the recipient of the 2022 Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity. Daniel Handler, also known as Lemony Snicket, will present Hickson with the award—a cash prize and an object from Handler’s private collection—during the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference & Exhibition on Sunday, June 26, 2022 in Washington DC.

There has been no shortage of high-profile censorship challenges infesting school libraries across the United States since students returned from pandemic confinement in the Fall of 2021, but it was a fight that Hickson had already been fighting, tooth and nail. In fact, she has persevered through several book challenges since she began as a high school librarian in 2005. In 2021, however, the battle reached a new peak.

When a community group attended the Board of Education (BOE) meeting and demanded that two award-winning books with LGBTQ+ themes—Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison (and later three additional LGBTQ+ titles)—be pulled from the library shelves, their allegations not only attacked the books but Hickson herself, labeling her by name as a pornographer and pedophile for providing children with access to the titles in question. In the following weeks, she endured personal attacks from the community, hate mail, threats, nuisance vandalism, and even questions about her judgment and integrity from her administration. In fact, the open adversity became so pervasive and extreme that her blood pressure and anxiety rose to the dangerous point where her physician removed her from her workplace.

Despite this adversity, however, Hickson persisted and persevered in her unwavering defense of her students’ right to intellectual freedom and right to read, including galvanizing a group of community allies to attend the BOE meetings, gathering testimonies from LGBTQ+ students, recruiting local author David Levithan to write a statement of support, and even consulting and offering advice on censorship battles to the library community at large. At the January BOE meeting, the resolution to ban the five books in question was effectively voted down, and all challenged books remain proudly on the North Hunterdon High School library shelf….

(6) BOGUS OFFERS. The Bookseller warns “Fraudster impersonates HarperCollins editorial director and offers book contracts”.

A fraudster has been impersonating a HarperCollins editorial director and sending out messages offering book contracts.  

Phoebe Morgan, editorial director at HarperFiction, revealed on Twitter that someone has been using a fake HarperCollins account and claiming to be her. She said the impersonator has been using her photo and background information, but could be identified as a fraud by the email address, which replaced the two “l’ letters in HarperCollins with the number “1”.  

She tweeted: “If someone says they’re a crime editor wanting to offer a contract please flag as suspicious. HC would never contact you in that way”. 

The tactic is similar to the one said to be used by Filippo Bernardini, a former rights assistant at S&S UK who was arrested and charged by the FBI with allegedly stealing hundreds of book manuscripts over several years….  

(7) STREET SMARTS. “’Kimmel’ Tests People On ‘Star Wars’ vs. U.S. History And You Know What Happened”HuffPost sets the frame:

Kimmel’s crew asked random people on Hollywood Boulevard questions about the space opera franchise and U.S. history.

(8) HAVE YOU RED? [Item by Joey Eschrich.] On June 1, Future Tense is cohosting the latest in our Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club series, discussing All Systems Red by Martha Wells. Here are the details. I should note that the author won’t be joining us—for this book club series, we want to focus on discussion and deliberation, rather than on getting the behind-the-scenes. RSVP here.

The novel explores a spacefaring future in which corporate-driven exploratory missions rely heavily on security androids. In Wells’ engaging – at times funny – tale, one such android hacks its own system to attain more autonomy from the humans he is accompanying. The result is a thought-provoking inquiry into the evolving nature of potential human-robot relations.

Join Future Tense and Issues in Science and Technology at 6pm ET on Wednesday, June 1 to discuss the novel and its real-world implications. The book club will feature breakout rooms (they’re fun and stress-free, we promise) where we can all compare notes and share reactions, even if we didn’t finish the book (though we picked a short one this time!).

(9) AND BEYOND. This promo for Lightyear dropped today.

(10) TINTIN CREATOR. Nicholas Whyte discusses “Hergé, Son of Tintin, by Benoît Peeters” at From the Heart of Europe.

…Like all good Belgian comics fans, I’m fascinated by the adventures of Tintin and by their creator. This is a really interesting biographical study, by a writer who met Hergé an interviewed him a couple of times, and has now lived long enough to absorb the mass of critical commentary on Hergé’s work that has emerged over the decades.

I learned a lot from it. In particular, I learned that it’s very difficult to navigate exactly how close Hergé came to collaboration with the occupying Germans during the war…

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1992 [By Cat Eldridge.] Forever Knight, a vampire detective series, premiered thirty years ago, and concluded with the third-season finale just over three years later. This series was filmed and set in Toronto. 

It was created by Barney Cohen who wrote Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, and James D. Parriott, who was responsible for Misfits of Science.

It starred Geraint Wyn Davies, Catherine Disher, Nigel Bennett, Ben Bass, Deborah Duchêne and Blu Mankuma. It is considered the predecessor to such series as Angel

It managed in its short span to run on CBS (the first season), first-run syndication (the second season) and the USA Network (the third and final season). 

So what was its reception? Well the Canadian TV industry loved it but I suspect that was because it was providing a lot of jobs. Seriously it wasn’t for the quality of the scripts. I watched it enough to see that it was really badly written. Forever Knight was nominated for thirteen industry Gemini Awards, and won once in 1996. 

It was as one reviewer at the time noted a soap opera: “The acting in this one is decent but there was more time than I can count where I was rolling my eyes by how much the cast was hamming it up. The characters are fun but they often slip away into the cliched void of day time soaps.” 

I don’t think it is streaming anywhere currently.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 5, 1908 Pat Frank. Author of Alas, Babylon who also wrote a 160-page non-fiction book, How To Survive the H Bomb And Why (1962). (Insert irony here if you want.) Forbidden Area, another novel, he wrote, was adapted by Rod Serling for the 1957 debut episode of Playhouse 90. (Died 1964.)
  • Born May 5, 1922 Joseph Stefano. Screenwriter who adapted Bloch’s novel as the script for Hitchcock’s Psycho. He was also a producer for the first season of Outer Limits and wrote a total of twelve episodes. He also the screenwriter for the very horrifying Eye of The Cat. He wrote Next Generation’s “Skin of Evil” episode. And he was producer on the original Swamp Thing. (Died 2006.)
  • Born May 5, 1942 Lee Killough, 80. Author of two series, the Brill and Maxwell series which I read a very long time ago and remember immensely enjoying, and the Bloodwalk series which doesn’t ring even a faint bell. I see she’s written a number of stand-alone novels as well – who’s read deeply of her? Her only Hugo nomination was at Aussiecon Two for her short story, “Symphony for a Lost Traveler”.  And in the early Eighties, she wrote an interesting essay called “Checking On Culture: A Checklist for Culture Building”. Who’s read it? 
  • Born May 5, 1943 Michael Palin, 79. Monty Python of course. I’ll single him out for writing the BFA-winning Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life and co-writing the BSFA-winning Time Bandits with Terry Gilliam. He and the rest of the troupe were Hugo finalists in 1976 for Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And it might be at least genre adjacent, so I’m going to single him out for being in A Fish Called Wanda for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. 
  • Born May 5, 1944 John Rhys-Davies, 78. He’s known for his portrayal of Gimli and the voice of Treebeard in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, General Leonid Pushkin in The Living Daylights, King Richard I in Robin of Sherwood, Professor Maximillian Arturo in Sliders, a most excellent Hades in the animated Justice League Unlimted series, Hades in Justice League and Sallah in the Indiana Jones films. Oh, and voicing Macbeth in the exemplary Gargoyles animated series too. He’s getting his action figure shortly of Macbeth from NECA! 
  • Born May 5, 1957 Richard E. Grant, 64. He first shows up in our world as Giles Redferne in Warlock, begore going on to be Jack Seward in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. On a lighter note, he’s Frederick Sackville-Bagg in The Little Vampire, and the voice of Lord Barkis Bittern in Corpse Bride. He breaks into the MCU as Xander Rice in Logan, and the Star Wars universe by being Allegiant General Enric Pryde in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Now I had forgotten that he’s in the Whoverse twice, once seriously and once very not. The first appearance was the latter as he in Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death as The Conceited Doctor. And then he plays the Great Intelligence in three episodes of Doctor Who.
  • Born May 5, 1979 Catherynne Valente, 43. I personally think her best work is The Orphan’s Tales which The Night Garden got Otherwise and Mythopoeic Awards, while the second work, In The Cities of Coin and Spice, garnered the latter Award as well. Palimpsest which is one weird novel picked up, not at all surprisingly a Lambda and was nominated for a Hugo at Aussiecon 4. The first novel in the incredibly neat Fairyland series, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, picked up a coveted Norton. (Well I think it’s coveted.) Next up is “Fade to White,” novelette nominated for a Hugo at LoneStarCon 3, and a favorite of mine, the “Six-Gun Snow White” novella, was a nominee at LonCon 3. Let’s finish by noting that she was part of SF Squeecast which won two Hugos, the first at Chicon 7 then at LoneStarCon 3. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Garfield requires your imagination to fill in the horrific vision.
  • The Argyle Sweater shows a monster with dietary restrictions.
  • Tom Gauld reveals little-known-facts about a well-known fantasy series.

(14) IF YOU HAVE MONEY TO BURN. “Fahrenheit 451 Leads AntiquarianAuctions.com Sale” reports Fine Books & Collections. This is the fireproof edition. Place your bid at AntiquarianAuctions.com through May 11.

…The sale starts with flourish: lot 1 is the best available copy of the signed limited edition of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (NY: 1953), bound in ‘Johns-Manville Quinterra an asbestos material with exceptional resistance to pyrolysis’ it is estimated at $13000 to 18000, but has a reserve at just $10,000. This is accompanied by 14 other lots of similar works, including 2 others from Bradbury (Dark Carnival [Sauk City: Arkham, 1947], and an excellent copy of the 1st paperback edition of 451 [NY: Ballantine; 1953]).

(15) COOL ANIMATED COMPILATION. View the “Top 100 3D Renders from the Internet’s Biggest CG Challenge” at Infinite Journeys.

During February 2022, I challenged 3D artists with the Infinite Journeys 3D challenge, where I provided artists with a simple animation of a moving “vehicle” and they built out their own customs scenes. Of the 2,448 entires, the top 100 were chosen for this montage, and 5 of them walked away with insane prizes from Maxon, Rokoko, Camp Mograph, Wacom, Looking Glass Factory, and mograph.com.

(16) DOES CRIME PAY? At Nerds of a Feather, Roseanna Pendlebury’s “Microreview [Book]: Book of Night by Holly Black” includes some criticisms but overall gives strong reasons to add this book to our TBR piles.

… The story follows Charlie Hall, a reformed con artist and thief who used to work adjacent to the shady (ha) world of the gloamists, who work magic on shadows, but she’s now trying to keep on the straight and narrow. She’s working a normal job bartending at a dive bar, dating a reliable boyfriend about whom she’s having some doubts and trying to help her little sister get into college. Obviously, this doesn’t last, and she gets pulled back into the world she tried to leave behind. Much like Black’s YA books, the plotting isn’t desperately original, but that’s also not what it’s aiming for, really.

What it is aiming for, and succeeds at, is a fun, dark, enthralling bit of world building, something that the reader can immediately get sucked into and get the feel of, while still with plenty of mileage to build throughout the story. And her gloamists are absolutely that. There’s sexy crime – daring heists of secret magical books – as well as secrecy, hidden arts, a potential pedigree stretching way back into history – the secret magical tomes to be stolen have to come from somewhere, right? – and plenty of scope for there being downtrodden people who can use their wits to outfox the powerful….

(17) BE PREPARED. And Paul Weimer, in “Centireview: Inheritors of Power by Juliette Wade”, advises Nerds of a Feather readers that to really enjoy this third novel in the author’s series they ought to start at book one:

…That all said, however, as much as Wade can prepare a reader new to the world to the complexities of the Varin and their very alien human society, this is a novel that really relies on knowledge of the previous two books, both on a high worldbuilding and also on a character level to really succeed. With the basis of that two novels, though, it is clear to me here, that this is a rich and deep and complex story that I get the feeling Wade has wanted to tell from the beginning, and from this point. 

There is a theory in writing that one of the keys to writing any work of fiction is to know where the story begins and to start the story at that point,. In some ways, the rich story of this novel, of which I will speak shortly, seems to be the story that Wade has wanted to tell since the beginning of Mazes of Power. In Wade’s case, however, and for the readers, this story only really can work as a story if you have the background of the first two novels in order to get the full force and impact of what happens here….

(18) CATCH AND RELEASE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] “A helicopter caught and released a rocket this week” and Popular Science explains why. (Video here briefly shows the linkup around 52:30.)

…“At 6,500 ft, Rocket Lab’s Sikorsky S-92 helicopter rendezvoused with the returning stage and used a hook on a long line to capture the parachute line,” Rocket Lab said in a release. “After the catch, the helicopter pilot detected different load characteristics than previously experienced in testing and offloaded the stage for a successful splashdown.”

For this specific launch, the catch ended up being more of a catch-and-release, but that attempt still went an important way to demonstrating the viability of the option. Knowing that the release worked—that the helicopter crew was able to snag the rocket and then determine they needed to jettison the booster—is a key part of proving viability. A method that involves helicopters but jeopardizes them pairs reusability with risk to the human crew….

(19) FLY ME TO THE MOON. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Well, OK, not to the Moon. Not even to low Earth orbit. But almost 5 miles is still fairly high. For the first time, SpinLaunch put a camera onboard one of the projectiles for their suborbital centrifugal launch test platform. Choosing a camera for the payload was probably a good idea, since I don’t think even fruit flies would have enjoyed the ride.

Gizmodo introduces a “Dizzying Video Shows What It’s Like to Get Shot Out of a Centrifuge at 1,000 MPH”:

…Such tests are becoming routine for SpinLaunch, with the first demonstration of the kinetic launch system occurring last October. This time, however, the company did something new by strapping a camera, or “optical payload,” onto the 10-foot-long (3-meter) projectile.

Footage from the onboard camera shows the projectile hurtling upwards from the kinetic launch system at speeds in excess of 1,000 miles per hour (1,600 kilometers per hour). The flight lasted for 82 seconds, during which time the test vehicle reached an altitude of over 25,000 feet (7,620 meters), according to David Wrenn, vice president of technology at SpinLaunch….

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Harry Potter and the Goblet of fire Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says the fourth Harry Potter film brings back many familiar plot points, including the speech from Dumbledore about the many ways Hgwarts students can die.  The producer,being told of a test where several characters nearly drown, says “wizards are not OK people.”  Trivia lovers will note this film was Robert Pattinson’s debut.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Jennifer Hawthorne, Lise Andreasen, Joey Eschrich, 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 Danny Sichel.]

Pixel Scroll 4/22/22 All My Life’s A Pixel, Scrollrise And Scrolldown, The Roads Roll Thru The Daytime; The Moon’s Sold By Heinlein

(1) FLIEGER Q&A. Renowned Tolkien scholar Verlyn Flieger responds to questions by Cristina Casagrande and Eduardo Boheme for On Fairy-Stories: “Between darkness and the splintered lights of Tolkienian Faery: an interview with Verlyn Flieger”.

You have edited many of Tolkien’s own manuscripts, such as The Story of KullervoOn Fairy-StoriesSmith of Wootton Major, and The Lay of Aotrou & Itroun. What must an editor be ready to deal with when facing a Tolkien’s manuscript?

His handwriting first of all. Tolkien used several scripts, ranging from a beautiful, calligraphic hand (when he was making a fair copy), to an undecipherable scribble when the ideas were coming thick and fast and he was hurrying to catch up with them. There have been words and sometimes whole sentences, especially in the drafts of “On Fairy-stories” that I simply could not read.

(2) CAUGHT IN THE ROCKETS’ RED GLARE. Camestros Felapton finds one more thing needs to be said: “Rockets & Raytheon: A Debarkle Coda – 1”.

…In the last weeks of 2021 I attempted to write just one more chapter of the Debarkle series. It was poor timing and that additional chapter quickly spun out of control. So I put it aside and decided to return to it later on.

The reason for the chapter was twofold. The initiating issue was the surprise sponsorship of the 2021 Worldcon by the infamous arms manufacture/aerospace company Raytheon. There are many unanswered questions about this sponsorship including what the financial arrangement was and the timing of the decision. The program book of the convention did not list Raytheon as a sponsor and while there was (apparently) a Raytheon booth at the convention, the primary publicity given to the company (specifically the Raytheon Intelligence & Space division) was at the start of the live-streamed Hugo Award ceremony.

The subsequent controversy embroiled not just the Washington DC-based convention but the Hugo Awards and the Hugo finalists as well…

(3) A RUSSIAN WRITER YOU MIGHT READ. Yahoo! profiles Russian author Vladimir Sorokin: “He Envisioned a Nightmarish, Dystopian Russia. Now He Fears Living in One.”

Over the past 40 years, Vladimir Sorokin’s work has punctured nearly every imaginable political and social taboo in Russia.

… “A Russian writer has two options: Either you are afraid, or you write,” he said in an interview last month. “I write.”

Sorokin is widely regarded as one of Russia’s most inventive writers, an iconoclast who has chronicled the country’s slide toward authoritarianism, with subversive fables that satirize bleak chapters of Soviet history, and futuristic tales that capture the creeping repression of 21st-century Russia. But despite his reputation as both a gifted postmodern stylist and an unrepentant troublemaker, he remains relatively unknown in the West. Until recently, just a handful of his works had been published in English, in part because his writing can be so challenging to translate, and so hard to stomach. Now, four decades into his scandal-scorched career, publishers are preparing to release eight new English-language translations of his books.

… He is a master of mimicry and subverting genre tropes, veering from arch postmodern political satire (“The Queue”) to esoteric science fiction (“The Ice Trilogy”) to alternate histories and futuristic cyberpunk fantasies (“Telluria”).

(4) DON’T SAY GAY IN THE KINGDOM. “‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ Banned in Saudi Arabia”The Hollywood Reporter explains why.

Disney and the MCU have fallen foul of Gulf censors once more.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Marvel’s long-awaited follow-up to the hit 2016 superhero film starring Benedict Cumberbatch, has been banned in Saudi Arabia. Rumors began emerging online early on Friday, with The Hollywood Reporter now officially confirming the decision. THR has heard that the ban also applies to Kuwait, although this hasn’t yet been confirmed.

While the film is yet to be released and also hasn’t yet been reviewed, the decision is once again said to be related to LGBTQ issues, according to Middle East sources, with the new sequel introducing the character America Chavez (played by Xochitl Gomez) who, as per her portrayal in the comics, is gay. With homosexuality officially illegal across the Gulf, films that feature any LGBTQ references or issues often fail to get past censors….

… The film follows on the heels of Chloé Zhao’s Eternals, which was banned across much of the Gulf in November following the inclusion of a same-gender couple in the film and the MCU’s first gay superhero. At the time, THR understood that censors had requested a series of edits to be made that Disney was not willing to make. An edited version did screen in the U.A.E., however….

(5) THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING FIFTH. “Large Hadron Collider to restart and hunt for a fifth force of nature” – the Guardian has details.

…So far, everything discovered at the LHC – including the Higgs – has fallen in line with the so-called standard model. This has been the guiding theory of particle physics since the 1970s but is known to be incomplete because it fails to explain some of the deepest mysteries in physics, such as the nature of dark matter.

However, data collected in the LHCb experiment, one of four huge particle detectors at Cern in Switzerland, appeared to show particles behaving in a way that could not be explained by the standard model.

The experiment looked at the decay of particles called beauty quarks, which are predicted to decay at an equal rate into electrons and their heavier cousins, muons. However, the beauty quarks appeared to be turning into muons 15% less often, suggesting that an unknown factor – potentially a new force – was tipping the scales. Two of the top candidates include hypothetical force-carrying particles called leptoquarks or Z primes.

“The stakes are extremely high,” Patel said. “If we confirm this, it will be a revolution of the kind we’ve not seen – certainly in my lifetime. You don’t want to mess it up.”…

(6) SOME DON’T COME RUNNING. The Hollywood Reporter listens in as “Steven Spielberg Details How Harrison Ford Helped Convince Melissa Mathison to Write ‘E.T.’”

… Spielberg told [Ben] Mankiewicz that he started working on a script focused specifically on his parents’ split in 1976, around the time he was filming another alien-themed project, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. “We were shooting the scene in Mobile, Alabama, where the extraterrestrial comes down from the ship and does the hand signs with Francois Truffaut,” he detailed. “I suddenly thought, wait a second, what if that little creature never went back to the ship?”

The idea took some years to develop, eventually leading him to Mathison. Spielberg recalled that the pair worked on the script while he was editing Raiders of the Lost Ark in Marina del Rey with editor Michael Kahn. “We would spend two hours a day for five days and she would go off and write pages and come back,” Spielberg continued of their process, crediting the late scribe with coming up with memorable moments, like E.T.’s telekinesis. “There were so many details for character that Melissa brought into my world from her world.”…

(7) JUNIOR BIRDMEN. In “The High and Lowest of Infographics”, Print Magazine recalls Will Eisner’s work for the Army. The entire illustrated booklet is reproduced at the link.

Comics and cartoons often are the best teaching tools. Not just because pictures are worth a thousand complicated and confounding words, but with a combo of drawings and words you get the picture—see what I mean?! This concept is no better illustrated than in this gem of a training booklet illustrated by none other than the creator of “The Spirit” comics, Will Eisner. Produced by the U.S. Army in 1944, it’s an instruction pamphlet for young pilots to master the basics of safe flying, complete with two quizzes and two pages of “Slanguage” at the end….

(8) FANHISTORY IN NEW ENGLAND. Fanac.org has made available video of a panel from the sixth FanHistoriCon in 1997, “From MITSFS to NESFA to MCFI” with Ed Meskys, Richard Harter, Tony Lewis and Hal Clement.

FanHistoriCon 6 was held February 13-16, 1997 in conjunction with Boskone 34 in Framingham, MA. In this 35 minute excerpt of the panel “From MITSFS to NESFA to MCFI”. Ed Meskys, Richard Harter, Tony Lewis and Hal Clement tell us stories of Boston area fandom from the Stranger Club in the 1940s, through area fandom’s evolution by way of conventions, MIT and worldcon bids to NESFA and MCFI in the 90s. 

Beginning with the readers’ club of the 40s and giving way to the more active projects of MITSFS and NESFA, the panel fondly remembers the people and pastimes that were the substance of Boston area fandom. 

Anecdotes mention well known names such as L. Ron Hubbard and Hugo Gernsback, the price of an interior illo from Amazing Magazine in the 1940s, and the storybook romance of Larry Niven and Fuzzy Pink. 

You’ll learn the rules of the MITSFS game “Insanity”, the originally proposed name for NESFA, the origins of Locus and much more. You’ll even get a first hand report of why/how Hal Clement was “fired” from the Noreascon 1 committee. 

If you’re interested in 20th century Boston fandom, here’s your chance to listen to four of the folks that made it happen. 

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1992 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Razul: You are a student of Egypt, but you are not one of its sons. And until you have heard what I have heard and seen what I have seen, I would not expect you to believe that such a thing as a curse could be true, but it is. 

Sam: 3500-year-old dead men don’t just get up and walk around.

Thirty years ago this evening, Quantum Leap’s “The Curse of Ptah-Hotep” first aired on NBC. In 1957, Sam leaps into the body of Dale Conway, an American archaeologist at a dig in Egypt just as he and his partner Ginny Will discover the tomb of Ptah-Hotep. A sand storm traps them deep in the tomb’s inner chambers.

You think that they made up this particular Egypt royal person but no, he was quite real. Ptahhotep, sometimes known as Ptahhotep I or Ptahhotpe, was an ancient Egyptian vizier during the late 25th century BC and early 24th century BC Fifth Dynasty of Egypt.

The curse that forms the story here was evidently a real one that affected a number of archeological digs undertaken here.  And it is worth definitely worth noting that Sam, throughout the entire series, thoroughly disbelieves in the supernatural, except for the force has him leaping around and that could be science. He frequently tells Al not to be superstitious about anything. But here he certainly seems to take the resurrected mummies in this episode as a given.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 22, 1902 Philip Latham. Name used by astronomer Robert Shirley Richardson on his genre work. His novels were largely first published in Astounding starting in the Forties, with the exception of his children’s SF novels that were published in Space Science Fiction Magazine. He also wrote a few scripts for Captain Video, the predecessor of Captain Video and his Video Rangers. His Comeback novel starts this way: “When Parkhurst heard the announcement that climaxed the science fiction convention, he found that he’d been right, years ago when he had faith in science-fictionists’ dreams. But, in another way, he’d been wrong . . .: It’s available at the usual digital suspects for a buck. (Died 1981.)
  • Born April 22, 1934 Sheldon Jaffery. An editor and bibliographer of pulps whose non-fiction work and genre anthologies are both fascinating. Among the latter are such publications as Sensuous Science Fiction From the Weird and Spicy Pulps and The Weirds: A Facsimile Selection of Fiction From the Era of the Shudder Pulps, and from the former are Future and Fantastic Worlds: Bibliography of DAW BooksThe Arkham House Companion: Fifty Years of Arkham House and Collector’s Index to Weird Tales. (Died 2003.)
  • Born April 22, 1937 Jack Nicholson, 85. I think my favorite role for him in a genre film was as Daryl Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick. Other genre roles include Jack Torrance in The Shining, Wilbur Force in The Little Shop of Horrors, Rexford Bedlo in The Raven, Andre Duvalier in The Terror, (the previous three films are all Roger Corman productions), Will Randall in Wolf, President James Dale / Art Land in Mars Attacks! and Jack Napier aka The Joker in Tim  Burton’s The Batman.
  • Born April 22, 1944 Damien Broderick, 78. Australian writer of over seventy genre novels. It is said that The Judas Mandala novel by him contains the first appearance of the term “virtual reality”. He’s won five Ditmar Awards, a remarkable achievement. I know I’ve read several novels by him including Godplayers and K-Machines which are quite good. The latter won an Aurealis Award for Excellence in Speculative Fiction
  • Born April 22, 1959 Catherine Mary Stewart, 63. Her first genre role was Maggie Gordon in The Last Starfighter followed by beingMiranda Dorlac in Nightflyers and she played Sukie Ridgemont in the TV version of The Witches of Eastwick. She has one-offs in Mr. MerlinKnight Rider and The Outer Limits.
  • Born April 22, 1977 Kate Baker, 45. Non-fiction editor, podcast director /narrator for Clarkesworld. She won the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine twice, and the World Fantasy Award’s Special Award: Non Professional in 2014, all alongside the rest of the editorial staff of Clarkesworld. She’s a writer of three short genre stories, the latest of which, “No Matter Where; Of Comfort No One Speak”, you can hear it here. Warning for subject matter: abuse and suicide. 
  • Born April 22, 1978 Manu Intiraymi, 44. He played the former Borg Icheb on the television series Star Trek: Voyager. A role that he played a remarkable eleven times. And this Birthday research led me to discovering yet another video Trek fanfic, this time in guise of Star Trek: Renegades inwhich he reprised his role. Any Trekkies here watch this? 
  • Born April 22, 1984 Michelle Ryan, 38. She had the odd honor of being a Companion to the Tenth Doctor as Lady Christina de Souza for just one story, “Planet of the Dead”.  She had a somewhat longer genre run as the rebooted Bionic Woman that lasted eight episodes, and early in her career, she appeared as the sorceress Nimueh in BBC’s Merlin. Finally I’ll note she played Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream in BBC’s Learning project, Off By Heart Shakespeare

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Far Side makes a grotesque Peter, Paul & Mary reference.  

(12) E. E. SMITH REFERENCE IN THE NEW YORK TIMES(!) [Item by David Goldfarb.] Every two weeks the NYT puts up an acrostic puzzle put together by Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon. The one for April 24th has as clue I, 7 letters:

Kind of beam in the 1947 novel “Spacehounds of IPC”

This is a novel I would have thought little-remembered! (Alas, my first guess based on Lensman, PRIMARY, turned out to be incorrect.)

(13) SIGNS OF THE FUTURE. Michael Okuda, the graphic designer known for his work on Star Trek, told Facebook readers how he found the answer to something he wanted to know about the bridge:  

I had always wondered: If the famously-unlabeled buttons on the TOS bridge had been labeled, would those labels have been visible? In 2005, I did an experiment during the filming of “In A Mirror, Darkly” (ENT). For this experiment, I had hundreds of small clear labels printed with small numeric codes. I asked Alan Kobayashi to stick them onto most of the backlit “jellybean” buttons on the re-created TOS Enterprise bridge set, thereby labeling each button….

(14) BREAKING THE PIGGY BANK. Netflix may have stopped spending cash on original animation, but that does not mean they have stopped spending on other projects. SYFY Wire reports an eye-popping figure: “Stranger Things 4: Netflix spending $30 million per episode”.

Thanks to an ensemble celebrity cast and lavish location shoots that can take over an entire mall, Stranger Things has always had the feel of a big-budget, Steven Spielberg-inspired show. But the Hawkins arcade would need to collect more than just a truckload of quarters to cover the eye-popping cost of the series’ long-awaited fourth season.

A recent report at The Wall Street Journal reveals that Netflix is turning its wallet Upside Down and inside out to bring Stranger Things 4 to life, spending an average of $30 million on each of the smash hit series’ nine new episodes. That far eclipses the princely $13 million per-episode sum commanded by Season 4 of The Crown, the previously-reported most expensive show in the streamer’s original-series lineup….

(15) ON THE OTHER HAND. For the cost conscious among us, “House of the Dragon Budget: Under 20 Million Per Episode”. By Grabthar’s hammer, what a savings!

… If you’re wondering how HBO managed to keep the cost of “House of the Dragon” Season 1 from rising too much above what it paid for the final season of “Game of Thrones,” especially with even more CGI dragons expected to be flying around, the production insider says HBO is now so adept at these world-building series through years of not just “GoT,” but also producing “Westworld” and “His Dark Materials,” that the team can make a high-quality series as efficiently and effectively as possible….

(16) EVERYTHING AND MORE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the March 20 New York Times Magazine, Alexandra Kleeman profiles Everything Everywhere All At Once star Michelle Yeoh, who explains why doing a multiverse movie (in which she plays a hibachi chef, a laundromat store owner, and a universe where everyone has fingers that look like Twinkies) was a stretch for her in a career that has taken her from Hong Kong super action movies to James Bond to Crazy Rich Asians. “Michelle Yeoh’s Quantum Leaps”.

… Approaching a role that bounds gleefully across so many modes and genres put Yeoh to the test. She showed me a photo of her script, dutifully flagged with adhesive tabs that denoted the genre of each scene she appears in (action sequences, comedic scenes, heavy-duty drama): The stack of pages bristled with color, like a wildly blooming flower. She experimented with different kinds of sticky notes. “With the fat ones, they were overlapping so much. So, I had to get the skinny ones,” she told me. “Oh, my God, it was a whole creative process. And then when I finished, I looked at it and go, Oh, my God, I’m in serious trouble.”…

(17) ACTOR OUT. Frank Langella is definitely out of his latest film – the 84-year-old is accused of sexual harassment: “Frank Langella Fired From Netflix’s ‘The Fall Of the House Of Usher’ After Probe” reports Deadline.

…Sources confirmed to Deadline TMZ‘s report from earlier this week that the investigation was launched after the 84-year-old actor had been accused of sexual harassment, including making inappropriate comments to a female co-star on set during work.

Langella led the cast of The Fall of the House of Usher, which also stars Carla Gugino, Mary McDonnell, Carl Lumbly and Mark Hamill.

The eight-episode series is described as an epic tale of greed, horror and tragedy. Poe’s short story The Fall of the House of Usher, which serves as the basis for the show, features themes of madness, family, isolation and identity.

Roderick Usher, the role previously played by Langella that now is being recast, is the towering patriarch of the Usher dynasty….

(18) SIC TRANSIT GLORIA PHOBOS. The space agency tells how “NASA’s Perseverance Rover Captures Video of Solar Eclipse on Mars”.

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover has captured dramatic footage of Phobos, Mars’ potato-shaped moon, crossing the face of the Sun. These observations can help scientists better understand the moon’s orbit and how its gravity pulls on the Martian surface, ultimately shaping the Red Planet’s crust and mantle.

Captured with Perseverance’s next-generation Mastcam-Z camera on April 2, the 397th Martian day, or sol, of the mission, the eclipse lasted a little over 40 seconds – much shorter than a typical solar eclipse involving Earth’s Moon. (Phobos is about 157 times smaller than Earth’s Moon. Mars’ other moon, Deimos, is even smaller.)

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The How It Should Have Ended gang takes on The Batman, answering such questions as, “If he’s The Batman, why does he say his name is vengenance?” and “Why does Superman show up in inappropriate moments?”

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

Pixel Scroll 10/6/21 Magical Mystery Scroll

A lot of catching up to do. Let’s get started!

(1) YOUNG PEOPLE. At Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll turns his panel loose on a story that was heavy, deep, and real in 1971 and won Theodore Sturgeon his first Hugo late in his career.

Theodore Sturgeon was a widely beloved author whose work, I regret to say, never particularly appealed to me. Thus, aside from More Than Human, I am not widely read in his fiction. In particular, I have not read this specific story. Still, I do know something about ?“Slow Sculpture”, specifically that it won both a Hugo and a Nebula in a year when many observers might have expected some work from either Orbit 6 or Orbit 7 to win. Orbits 6 and 7 were remarkable anthologies, dominating award nominations in their years. For a story to edge out the Orbit stories, it must surely have been of remarkable quality. Right? And no doubt my Young People will as pleased to read ?“Slow Sculpture” now as reader were half a century ago. 

(2) SWECON GOING AHEAD. Fantastika, Swecon this year, has announced the con will run in Stockholm as planned November 19-21. No further postponement due to Covid restrictions is anticipated. (Fantastika was not held last year.) The con’s program is available.

(3) ASTRONOMICON CANCELS. On the other hand, the Astronomicon 13 (Rochester, NY) committee has decided to postpone until 2022 – due to Covid, and the loss of Canadian program participants.

With great sadness we must announce that due to the rise in Covid across the country and the border to Canada not being open yet, we must postpone Astronomicon this year.

Our tentative date for the con is November 4-6, 2022.

Most of our Guests of Honor and a good number of our program participants have signed on for 2022.

We want to bring you the Astronomicon that you deserve, and with the border being closed it causes us to lose between 10-15 program participants. That is unacceptable to us.

Join us next November for a great convention!!

(4) A TRAILER PARK IN WESTEROS. The Guardian’s Stuart Heritage frames the trailer for the forthcoming series: “Game of Thrones prequel: why we’ll all be hooked to House of the Dragon”.

…Set two centuries before Game of Thrones, it promises to chronicle the history of the fearsome House Targaryen. Until now, very little has been revealed about the series.

…But now things have changed. A first-look trailer has just been released and, although it is only 70 seconds long, the message couldn’t be clearer. If you liked Game of Thrones, you will like House of the Dragon. And if you didn’t like Game of Thrones, you will probably still watch House of the Dragon so that you can keep up with what everyone else is talking about.

(5) COUNTDOWN. The Horror Writers Association blog kicks off its “Halloween Haunts” series with “The Season Begins by Michael J. Moore”.

…In April, networks air “Halfway-to-Halloween” marathons, and time ceases to usher us away, as we begin to drift toward October.

Toward that shrieking, adolescent laughter. The sound of plastic wrappers, rustling as you walk. The smell of chocolate and caramel, and the feel of wooden doors against your bony knuckles. The shadows of monsters and superheroes, cast by the headlights of idling cars. Orange and black, yellow and green. The satisfaction of picking through your plunder at the end of the night.

This is the start of the holiday season. Not the 31st, but the first of the month. The morning the countdown begins. When slashers take over cable, and costumes go on display. Even non-horror-types catch the bug. Nostalgia beckons our inner children, inviting us to slip on a costume and knock on doors.

In October of 2019, I wasn’t ready for it to end, so I started writing a book centered around my favorite holiday. Then the pandemic struck, and lockdowns provided plenty of time to finish. My publisher, HellBound Books, has prepared it for release around that magical month this year….

(6) BREUER REMEMBERED. There will be a two-hour exhibition about “Amazing Breuer – Miles J. Breuer Czech Surgeon at the Birth of American Scientifiction” at the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Los Angeles on October 14 starting at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. If you are interested in taking part, send an email to czechconsulatela@gmail.com.

The exhibition is organized to commemorate the 76th anniversary of a passing of the Czech-American writer Miles (Miloslav) J. Breuer, who died in Los Angeles on 14 October 1945.

This early Czech-American science fiction writer was the author of the novel “Paradise and Iron” (1930), one of the first modern science fiction tales to warn of the dangers of a technologically oriented civilization, depicting a humanity threatened by what we today call artificial intelligence, and the co-author (with Jack Williamson) of The Girl from Mars, a thin 24 page work that became the first book in the world to be formally titled as science fiction.

At the turn of the 1920s and 30s, Breuer’s readers viewed this author as a major star of the science fiction genre. Discovered by Hugo Gernsbeck, Breuer contributed to “The Amazing Stories” and other pulp magazines.

He was born in Chicago to the Czech parents. Writing as “Miloslav” – the Czech version of his name – Breuer had published numerous stories also in Czech language (which were subsequently published in English in early science fiction magazines). 

(7) WAR’S IMPACT ON TOLKIEN. Renowned mythopeoic scholar Janet Brennan Croft will discuss Tolkien’s war experience and how war is handled in his writing: “Date with History: J.R.R. Tolkien (Virtual)” for the First Division Museum.  Thursday, October 7 at 7:00 Central. Free. Register at the link.

One of the reasons J.R.R. Tolkien is such a popular author is that he can be read at many levels. For the reader willing to look deeper than the adventure-story surface, there are many important themes in his works. War is one of the themes that runs through all of Tolkien’s books, especially The Lord of the Rings. Particular motifs appear over and over again: the effects of war on individuals, families, and society, whether war can ever be justified, and if so, the proper conduct of war; close friendships among groups of men; the glory and horror of battle. The depiction of war and its effects were drawn from his own life; he served in the First World War at the Battle of the Somme, and two of his sons fought in the Second World War. Like all artists, he absorbed the materials of his own life into his art. This talk will explore his personal experience of war and how it manifested in his legendarium.

(8) NO ONE CAN TALK TO A HORSE, OF COURSE. In a guest post at A Pilgrim in Narnia, Daniel Whyte IV expects Netflix will court controversy by producing a series about one of the books it holds rights to: “There Are No Cruel Narnians: What The Horse and His Boy Can Tell Us About Racism, Cultural Superiority, Beauty Standards, and Inclusiveness”.

Any potential adaptation of The Horse and His Boy will be fraught with minefields. Houston Chronicle editor Kyrie O’Connor claims it isn’t far-fetched to see the fantasy as “anti-Arab, or anti-Eastern, or anti-Ottoman” and suggests a desire to “stuff this story back into its closet.” While Lewis’ Narniad is emotionally stimulating and spiritually moving, it can be overshadowed by issues that led another popular fantasy writer and academic—Philip Pullman of His Dark Materials fame—to call it “one of the most ugly and poisonous things I have ever read.” He wrote that in a 1998 Guardian article titled “The Dark Side of Narnia.” Imagine what will be said about Narnia over twenty-five years later if Netflix dares to adapt The Horse and His Boy. (And I say to Netflix, as Aslan says to Bree, “Do not dare not to dare.”)

Indeed, as author, editor, and (somewhat) defender of C.S. Lewis, Gregg Easterbrook, wrote in The Atlantic two decades ago (partially in response to Pullman’s criticisms):

“Although Narnia has survived countless perils, the Chronicles themselves are now endangered… What’s in progress is a struggle of sorts for the soul of children’s fantasy literature.”

If the struggle is as eschatological as Easterbrook posits—and if Lewis’ reputation is indeed growing “beyond the reach of ordinary criticism” as Pullman argued in his ’98 hit piece—then it’s worth taking the time to look seriously at what the Narnia chronicles tell us about Lewis’ personal views and about the messaging (if any) encoded in the books….

(9) MEMORY LANE

1995 – Twenty-six years ago at Intersection, the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form went to Star Trek: The Next Generation’s two-part series finale, “All Good Things…“.  (Other nominated works were The MaskInterview with the VampireStargate and Star Trek: Generations.) It was directed by Winrich Kolbe from a script written by Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga. The title is derived from the expression “All good things must come to an end”, a phrase used by Q during the story itself. It generally considered one of the series’ best episodes with the card scene singled out as one of the series’s best ever.  

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 6, 1942 Britt Ekland, 79. She starred in The Wicker Man* as Willow MacGregor, and appeared as a Bond girl, Goodnight, in The Man with the Golden Gun. She was also Queen Nyleptha in King Solomon’s Treasure based off the H. Rider Haggard novels. *There is only one Wicker Man film as far as I’m concerned. Whatever that thing was, it wasn’t Wicker Man. Shudder.
  • Born October 6, 1946 John C. Tibbetts, 75. A film critic, historian, author. He’s written such articles as “The Illustrating Man: The Screenplays of Ray Bradbury” and “Time on His Hands: The Fantasy Fiction of Jack Finney”. One of his two books is The Gothic Imagination: Conversations on Fantasy, Horror, and Science Fiction in the Media, the other being The Gothic Worlds of Peter Straub.
  • Born October 6, 1950 David Brin, 71. Author of several series including Existence (which I do not recognize), the Postman novel, and the Uplift series which began with Startide Rising, a most excellent book and a Hugo-winner at L.A. Con II.  I’ll admit that the book he could-wrote with Leah Wilson, King Kong Is Back! An Unauthorized Look at One Humongous Ape, tickles me if only for its title. So who’s read his newest novel, Castaways of New Mohave, that he wrote with Jeff Carlson?
  • Born October 6, 1952 Lorna Toolis. Librarian, editor, and fan Lorna was the long-time head of the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation, and Fantasy at the Toronto Public Library and a significant influence on the Canadian SF community. She founded the SF collection with a donation from Judith Merril. She was a founding member of SFCanada, and won an Aurora Award for co-editing Tesseracts 4 with Michael Skeet. (Died 2021.)
  • Born October 6, 1955 Donna White, 66. Academic who has written several works worth you knowing about — Dancing with Dragons: Ursula K. LeGuin and the Critics and Diana Wynne Jones: An Exciting and Exacting Wisdom. She’s also the author of the densely-written but worth reading A Century of Welsh Myth in Children’s Literature
  • Born October 6, 1955 Ellen Kushner, 66. If you’ve not read it, do so now, as her sprawling Riverside seriesis stellar. I’m reasonably sure that I’ve read all of it. And during the High Holy Days, do be sure to read The Golden Dreydl as it’s quite wonderful. As it’s Autumn and this being when I read it, I’d be remiss not to recommend her Thomas the Rhymer novel which won both the World Fantasy Award and the Mythopoeic Award. 
  • Born October 6, 1963 Elisabeth Shue, 58. Best known as Jennifer, Marty McFly’s girlfriend, in Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III, she also had roles in Hollow Man and Piranha 3D.
  • Born October 6, 1986 Olivia Jo Thirlby, 35. She is best known for her roles as Natalie in Russian SF film The Darkest Hour and as Judge Cassandra Anderson in the oh-so-excellent Dredd. And she was Holly in the supernatural thriller Above the Shadows.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) NATIONAL BOOK AWARD. [Item by Darrah Chavey.] The National Book Award Finalists were announced October 5. Finalists of genre interest include:

Fiction

  • Anthony Doerr, Cloud Cuckoo Land

Young Readers

  • Kyle Lukoff, Too Bright To See
  • Amber McBride, Me (Moth)

Translated Literature

  • Benjamín Labatut, When We Cease to Understand the World, translated by Adrian Nathan West

Winners will be announced November 17. Winners will receive $10,000 and a bronze sculpture.

(13) THE MISSION. WisCon’s parent organization SF3 has posted a draft revision of its mission statement that emphasizes its opposition to white supremacy and racism generally: “SF3: Interim Mission, Vision, and Values”.

As noted in our Anti-Racism Statement, the SF3 Board is undertaking work to reexamine our organizational mission with the intent to eliminate white supremacy and build an organization and convention where all members can thrive and contribute. In connection to this work, we are sharing interim versions of a mission statement, organizational vision, and a clear statement of our community values which center inclusivity and explicitly reject racism and white supremacy.

These interim statements will guide our work over the next year, including community-wide conversations and strategic planning to develop a permanent and inclusive set of foundational documents for SF3 and its projects, including WisCon.

(14) CONNIE WILLIS’ CHRISTMAS STORY ANTHOLOGY. Steve Rasnic Tem posted a photo of the physical cover on Facebook. The book will be released October 26.

Library of America and Connie Willis present 150 years of diverse, ingenious, and uniquely American Christmas stories

Christmas took on its modern cast in America, and over the last 150 years the most magical time of the year has inspired scores of astonishingly diverse and ingenious stories. Library of America joins with acclaimed author Connie Willis to present a unparalleled collection of American stories about Christmas, literary gems that showcase how the holiday became one of the signature aspects of our culture.

Spanning from the origins of the American tradition of holiday storytelling in the wake of the Civil War to today, this is the biggest and best anthology of American Christmas stories ever assembled. From ghost stories to the genres of crime, science fiction, fantasy, westerns, humor, and horror, stories of Christmas morning, gifts, wise men, nativities, family, commercialism, and dinners from New York to Texas to outer space, this anthology reveals the evolution of Christmas in America–as well as the surprising ways in which it has remained the same.

(15) SHAT TALKS SPACEFLIGHT. Anderson Cooper went one-on-one with William Shatner about his upcoming flight on New Shepard Blue Origin.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chris Barkley, Lise Andreasen, Darrah Chavey, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Acoustic Rob.]

Pixel Scroll 7/21/20 Slexip Was I Ere I Saw Pixels

(1) AN EXPERIMENT. Samuel R. Delany has written a novel called Shoat Rumblin, His Sensations and Ideas. Not sff, but it is Delany.

…At one point, Vladimir Nabakov said that Madame Bovary was really just an extremely well-written fairytale. There’s one sense in which, unlike other of my books, that was what I was hoping to accomplish with Shoat Rumblin. The book was never finished to my satisfaction, although I wrote an ending for it. Through looking over it again, I’m at least contented with what I’ve done—if still uncertain how believable it is. As I’ve said on Twitter, it’s an experiment in gay pornography and realistic storytelling. Parts of it are funny and parts of it, I confess, I think are pretty grim. Overall, I’d call it a comedy rather than a tragedy, if only because it does have a happy ending, however believable or unbelievable you find it. I’m also hoping that this makes it intriguing enough for some of you to take a chance on it.

(2) TOR FOR TWO. “John Scalzi and Mary Robinette Kowal Chat About Sci-Fi, Writing Processes, and More!” at Tor.com. There’s both a video and a transcript at the link.

MRK: One of my favorite things is when I introduce a reader to an author who is, by any metric except to this reader, more famous than I am. And they have never heard of them. And they’re like, “oh, this new author Ursula K. Le Guin, I love her books!” (laughs)

JS: You’re like; I don’t know how to break this one to you, but… But, that actually brings up a really interesting point which is that because science fiction and fantasy is, as a literature, as opposed to every other aspect of media, because it is still sort of niche where you come into the genre matters. Because, if they come in with you, then a lot of your antecedents or people who influenced you will be new to them. And to them, those classics will seem almost derivative or not up to date. I’ve had that happen sometimes where people will read me first, especially people who are under the age of 35. They’ll read me first and then they’ll go backwards into someone like Heinlein and then they’re like—“hmm, I don’t know—his stuff’s OK, but I kind of like yours better.” And I’m like, well—one, thank you, and two, it’s definitely because this is the path that you took into this genre. And, it’s still something that is very possible to do in this genre that I don’t know if in mainstream it will happen as much.

(3) RUSSIAN AROUND. “‘Sputnik’ Trailer: A Cosmonaut Brings an E.T. Invasion Back to Earth in Gory ‘Alien’ Homage”IndieWire sets the frame:

While a space traveler’s greatest fear is typically what’s waiting out there in the great unknown, what they bring back to Earth could be much, much worse. That’s the premise of Russian filmmaker Egor Abramenko’s feature debut “Sputnik,” a sci-fi chiller with the stately echoes of Ridley Scott’s classic “Alien.” Set in the 1980s, “Sputnik” blends creature-feature effects with heady extraterrestrial thrills. An official selection of the canceled 2020 Tribeca Film Festival, the movie debuts from IFC Midnight in select theaters and on VOD August 14. Watch the trailer for the film below….

Here’s the YouTube intro:

Due to her controversial methods, young doctor Tatiana Yurievna (Oksana Akinshina) is on the precipice of losing her medical license. Her career may not be over, though. After she’s recruited by the military, Tatiana is brought to a secure science research facility to assess a very special case, that of Konstantin Sergeyevich (Pyotr Fyodorov), a cosmonaut who survived a mysterious space accident and has returned to Earth with a unique condition: there’s something living inside of him that only shows itself late at night. The military has nefarious plans for it. Tatiana wants to stop it from killing Konstantin. And the creature itself thrives on destruction.

(4) FLAME ON. Entertainment Weekly reports Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon begins casting”.

There are no official casting breakdowns yet available, but many are speculating about the potential lead characters based on Martin’s book. Fire & Blood covers 150 years and includes the rise and fall of many leaders in Westeros so it’s not clear which characters and time period will be the focus of the series. But sources tell EW that the famed Dance of Dragons – the Targaryen Civil War that occasionally referenced in GoT that ripped apart Westeros – will be tackled at some point in the series. What would make sense is if the first season (or two) led up to those events. Some fans have suggested the show could also be an American Horror Story-style anthology series, covering a vastly different time period in each season.

(5) RELATIONSHIPS FOR THE LONG HAUL. In “The Big Idea: Michael R. Underwood” at Whatever, the author argues there’s a sorely neglected big idea.

“Happily Ever After.”

A famous phrase that signals the end of many stories, from faerie tales to action movies to romance novels. Growing up, so many of the tv, film, comics, books, and more that I experienced said – implicitly, if not explicitly – that once a couple overcame whatever big trial happened in act three, the relationship itself was smooth sailing.

And depending on how you read those stories, it says something worse. It says that long-term, committed relationships are boring, or that they’re only interesting when they’re falling apart. “Happily Ever After” doesn’t prepare anyone for the lived reality of making a long-term relationship work. Sometimes the best romance works will illustrate those challenges and joys on the way, because romance writers are grand masters of characterization. But getting into my first romantic relationships, I had few fictional models for what it was like to negotiate the higher-level challenges and opportunities posed by a committed partnership. And being a storyteller by trade, that lack of narrative models became especially frustrating.

With Annihilation Aria, I set out to add to the count of works that unpack “Happily Ever After” and show that a committed couple can be exciting protagonists as well…. 

(6) VANDERMEERS’ FANTASY COLLECTION. Ann and Jeff VanderMeer preview The Big Book of Modern Fantasy at LitHub, including the Table of Contents: “On the Biggest Collection of Fantasy Tales Since WWII”. Plenty of names you know here.

…The truth is, a book of modern fantasy is a treasure trove of marvels, a cabinet of curiosities, and, perhaps more importantly, a strong, strong testimony to the importance of imaginative literature, of non-realist literature, and of traditions other than the Anglo Saxon. We, personally, have been enriched by these stories and lifted up by them. We hope readers will find their own favorites and fond memories from reading herein.

(7) CAPCLAVE CHANGES PLANS. Bill Lawhorn, Capclave 2020 Chair, says they’re going virtual. The event will be over the same weekend, but won’t start until Saturday.

Due to the novel coronavirus, the Capclave team has made the decision to be virtual this year. We will be holding Capclave October 17-18. Yes, this is two days, but we will run longer on Sunday than is typical. We will be focused on presentations, panels, and small group activities such as author readings or discussions.

Going virtual does present the opportunity to include people who would likely not be able to participate in a normal year. Keep an eye on our website and social media for news regarding new participants.

We plan to use Zoom for most activities, but we are looking at adding a text chat area via Discord as well. We will be updating our Code of Conduct to reflect the online nature of the convention. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact chair@capclave.org.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 21, 1929 John Woodvine, 91. First role in our realm is as Macbeth at Mermaid Theatre back in the early Sixties. Shortly thereafter he’s Badger in Toad of Toad Hall at the Comedy Theatre before being The Marshal in the Fourth Doctor story, “The Armageddon Factor”.   He did show up on The Avengers several times, each time as a different character, and he was Singri Rhamin for the episodes of Danger Man.  He’s in An American Werewolf in London as Dr J. S. Hirsch, but shortly thereafter he’s Master West 468 in The Tripods and Prior Mordrin in the Knights of God children’s SF serial. Finally, he’s Justice Dimkind in A Perfect State which is at least genre adjacent. (CE)
  • Born July 21, 1933 John Gardner. Grendel, the retelling of Beowulf from the monster’s viewpoint, is likely the only work he’s remembered for. Gudgekin The Thistle Girl (and Other Tales) are genre fairy tales as are The King of the Hummingbirds (and Other Tales)A Child’s Bestiary is, well, guess what it says it is. Mickelsson’s Ghosts, his final novel written before his untimely death in a motorcycle accident, is a ghost story. (Died 1982.) (CE)
  • Born July 21, 1944 – David Feintuch.  Campbell Award (as it then was) for Best New Writer.  Nine novels, of which seven portray Space navy officer Nick Seafort, translated into Czech, German, Japanese, Russian, Spanish.  Said he’d completed an eighth, of which no more has emerged.  (Died 2006) [JH]
  • Born July 21, 1950 Asenath Hammond. She was was a fan who was a member of NESFA, New York City and LASFS fandoms. She was married for a time to Rick Sternbach. Mike has a write-up on her here. (Died 2010.) (CE)
  • Born July 21, 1950 – Bill Kunkel.  Cartoons (sometimes as “Potshot”) in AlgolCheckpointThe Frozen FrogTrap DoorChunga seemed to energize him, he gave it much (for the end, see here and herecorflu = mimeograph correction fluid, loc = letter of comment).  Comics: DC, Marvel, Harvey; primary scripter for Richie Rich.  Pro wrestling: photographed for, edited, published Main Event magazine, hosted The Main Event radio show, energized Pro Wrestling Torch, cartoons and columns for Wrestling Perspective. Video games: Electronic GamesTips & Tricks magazines; designed a dozen games; memoir, Confessions of the Game Doctor.  (Died 2011) [JH]
  • Born July 21, 1951 Robin Williams. Suicides depress me. I remember a bootleg tape of a performance of him and George Carlin in their cocaine fueled days. No, not even genre adjacent but damn brilliant. Such manic energy. Genre wise, he was brilliant in most everything he did, be it Mork & MindyHook which I adore, The Fisher KingBicentennial Man or Jumanji. (Died 2014.) (CE)
  • Born July 21,1952 – Kathy Tyers, 68.  Ten novels, half a dozen shorter stories translated into Dutch and German.  A Star Wars novel was a NY Times Best Seller.  Two CDs of folk music (she plays flute, Irish harp).  Worked with Christopher Parkening on his memoir Grace Like a River.  Lives in Montana.  [JH]
  • Born July 21, 1956 – Todd Dashoff, 64.  Chaired Philcon 1988 and the Millennium Philcon – what else should we name a Worldcon at Philadelphia in 2001?  Knows Harry Warner upheld the rule that the local con there is Phillycon and only a Worldcon there is Philcon.  Knows this rule has not been followed since 1947 and meanwhile (after HW’s death) a comics con has been calling itself Phillycon.  Has been PSFS’ (Phil. SF Soc.) President and Treasurer.  Stalwart helper from locals to Worldcons.  Fan Guest of Honor (with wife Joni, another shining star) at Lunacon 46.  [JH]
  • Born July 21, 1960 – John Wardale, 60.  Balloon sculptor, hair braider, costumer, photographer, patiently giving balloon and braid workshops for beginners too.  A pleasure, if that word may be used, to judge “Angels Take Motown” at Detcon the 11th NASFiC (North America SF Con, since 1975 held when the Worldcon is overseas) by Janine & John Wardale, Sharon & Hall Bass, which we awarded Best Motown Entry (Journeyman Class).  Has also taught Science: Energy + Time = Change.  [JH]
  • Born July 21, 1976 – Stephanie Law, 44.  Two dozen covers including books in German and Polish, also cards and other games.  Featured in Spectrum (six times) and Locus.  Best in Art Show, DragonCon 2015.  Art Guest of Honor at BayCon 2015, JordanCon 10, Philcon 2019; was scheduled for the 13th NASFiC this year.  Artbook, Descants and Cadences.  Website here.  [JH]
  • Born July 21, 1976 Jaime Murray, 44. If you watch genre television, you’ve most likely seen her as she’s been Helena G. Wells in the Warehouse 13, Stahma Tarr in Defiance, Fiona/the Black Fairy In Once Upon a Time, Antoinette in The Originals, and Nyssa al Ghul in Gotham. Film wise, she was Livinia in The Devil’s Playground and Gerri Dandridge in Fright Night 2: New Blood. (CE)

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro reports it was a hard day at the Frankenstein factory.
  • Garfield shows what would be – for these aliens – a fate worse than death.
  • Incidental Comics’ Grant Snider calls this “Contemplation.”

(10) CHEATERS EVER PROSPER. “An author bought his own book to get higher on bestseller lists. Is that fair?” The Guardian says it doesn’t break the rules of the Sunday Times.

For any author, being able to describe yourself as a bona fide bestseller is key to conferring your career with a certain gravitas – and will often bring you even more sales. In the UK, while most book charts are tallied by Nielsen BookScan, the Sunday Times bestseller list – like the New York Times chart in the US – has become the gold standard. But making the bestseller list isn’t necessarily as straightforward as tallying sales. Not all is fair in romance and war (and other genres) when it comes to getting to the top of the charts.

Take the case of Mark Dawson, a British writer who just over a week ago hit No 8 on the Sunday Times hardback list with his thriller The Cleaner, released by the independent publisher Welbeck at the end of June. This is a great achievement for any author or small publishing house, but Dawson had done something remarkable: he bought 400 copies of his own book, at a cost of £3,600, to push his sales high enough to make the top 10….

(11) LOOKING FOR CHANGE. “More Resignations, but No Sign Yet of a Change in Gaming Culture” – the New York Times surveys the field.

First, a popular esports tournament was canceled. Next, top gaming studio executives stepped down. Then, a prominent talent management agency for video game streamers laid off its employees and closed.

The stream of reports of sexual harassment and assault in the gaming industry that began in June has continued unabated, as more women — and some men — have come forward with accusations of mistreatment.

Despite the actions that companies have taken in response to individual incidents, gaming experts say they are hesitant to call the moment an inflection point for an industry with a long and difficult history of sexist behavior and abuse. This is not the first time women have spoken up. In 2014, in what is known as Gamergate, women faced death threats for criticizing the gaming industry and its culture. Last year, women again came forward with stories of abuse in what was seen as gaming’s #MeToo moment.

So few expect the resignations this time to quickly change a culture that for decades has often been hostile to women.

“You can fire people all day long,” said Kenzie Gordon, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Alberta who studies how games can be used to prevent sexual and domestic violence. But “if only the individual people are held accountable, that doesn’t have any impact on the culture of the organization as a whole, necessarily.”…

(12) THE MARTIAN YAWNICLES. “One Challenge for Future Mars Explorers? Boredom.” So says Kate Greene at LitHub.

… It’s conditions such as these—monotony, idleness, tedium, sensory deprivation, loneliness—that concern NASA psychologists who want to send a crew to Mars. Using existing technologies, a trip to the red planet will take 200 to 300 days of travel. Most of the time will be spent inside a cramped capsule. There will be a communication delay with Earth of up to 24 minutes due to a span of hundreds of millions of miles. Real-time chatting or video calls with friends and family and mission support will be an impossibility—the limitation is the speed of light—that no new technology would be able to overcome.

Mars crews would likely need to operate with a high level of autonomy because of this communication delay. Many people believe autonomy, which implies freedom of choice, can stave off boredom. Indeed, work imbued with personal meaning can be a potential solution, but it can’t fix everything.

In addition to the isolation and sensory deprivation, there will still be repetition of meals and routines and clothing and conversations between crewmembers. The workloads will still likely be full of tedium, with narrow margins for error. In short, a mission to Mars has the perfect ingredient list for boredom and disaster borne of boredom.

(13) WHAT WILL YOU MAKE FROM THIS? “A New Artificial Material Effectively Cannot Be Cut” — which they’ve dubbed Proteus, rather than ‘nocuttium’ or whatever; Slashdot has the story.

Researchers from the University of Stirling, UK, have embedded ceramic spheres in aluminum foam to create a material that couldn’t be cut with angle grinders, power drills or water jet cutters. “They dubbed it Proteus after the shape-shifting Greek god, for the way the material metamorphosed in different ways to defend against attacks,” reports New Scientists

(14) THE SWARM. Could “swarm 3-D printing” become an endless opportunity for unanticipated results?

…What they appear to have developed is a kind of mobile robotic 3D printing concept. As you can see in the video, dual independent 3D printers are temporarily fixed to specific locations on a grid. From these locations the devices will print within a controlled zone (which AMBOTS calls a “Chunk”).

After completing a layer of a chunk, a mobile robot picks up each 3D printer and moves them to another spot on the grid where they can then access another chunk. By moving the 3D printers repeatedly through a series of access points they are able to build the entire structure — without interfering with each other.

(15) IMPERFECT CREATION. Now wait a minute. It was his own show! Yet ScreenRant says there were “10 Things Rod Serling Disliked About The Original Twilight Zone”. Well, here’s one we all disliked for sure.

9. Those Damn Commercials

One beast Serling struggled with during the run of The Twilight Zone continues to be an irritant today. That has to do with lightweight commercials that tended to deflate the intensity of a suspenseful Twilight episode.

“However moving and however probing and incisive the drama,” mused Serling at a UCLA speaking engagement in 1971, “it cannot retain any thread of legitimacy when after 12 or 13 minutes, out comes 12 dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers: Cowboy Bebop” on YouTube, Screen Junkies takes on the classic anime series, where everyone chain smokes and the gloomy atmosphere is heightened by introspective sax solos.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Daniel Dern, Lise Andreasen, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]