Pixel Scroll 11/13/22 Pixels Are, Scrolls Aren’t

(1) KEENE BUILDING HIS OWN TOWN SQUARE. Twitter developments have inspired leading horror author Brian Keene to reopen his Blog and revive his forums (“The Keenedom”).

…I’m done with social media. I loathed Facebook from day one. Instagram was okay for a little while, but the novelty wore off. Tumblr and TikTok are maddening in their functionality. I have used these platforms because I needed to reach the audience who buys my books, but I never enjoyed it. I quite liked Twitter, and had a lot of fun there, but it is the Titanic barreling toward the Hindenburg right now, and if you doubt that, then you’re not old enough to remember MySpace or Xanga or Geocities, and if you are old enough and still doubt it, then you weren’t paying attention.

What I forgot is that back in the day, the audience who buys my books came to me. They came to my Blog and to the message board, because there was content there that appealed to them. That’s my idea this time around, as I dial back to the past in an effort to move forward. The message board isn’t just for me and readers of my books. It’s for everyone in this genre — fan, reader, aspiring creator, or professional — who is sick of using 20 different social media apps, and just wants a big circus tent under which to find each other, and have real conversations again about things that we love with other people who love them, free from all the incessant toxic bullshit that comes with social media.

If that sounds like something you might dig, then join us there. It’s free. I’m there. So are Paul Tremblay, Josh Malerman, Mary, Edward Lee, Hailey Piper, David J. Schow, Jed Shepherd, Carver Pike, Wesley Southard, Jamie Flanagan, Samantha Kolesnik, and pretty much everyone else.

And when he says he’s “done”, this is what he really means —

…I’m not “done” with social media. I recognize that it is a necessary evil, and that I need to keep my presence in such places in order to sell books. But going forward, my social media accounts are pretty much just going to mirror whatever news item is on my website….

(2) SNEAK PEEK OF SEASON TWO. Dave Chappelle’s guest appearance on Saturday Night Live included a sendup of “House of the Dragon”.

Allies (Dave Chappelle, Kenan Thompson, Ego Nwodim, Punkie Johnson) of Rhaenyra Targaryen (Chloe Fineman) and Daemon Targaryen (Michael Longfellow) visit the couple at Dragonstone.

(3) ELDER CARE. Nicola Griffith updates blog followers about her “Aestas horribilis”.

…It’s been difficult. Kelley and I are both exhausted and stressed and working hard on taking care of an old and fragile woman with dementia (and forgets she’s just had her hip replaced and is wearing a cast and tries to walk) and her old and confused husband. We have no time, we have no bandwidth, we don’t know how long this will last or what the future holds. Those of you who have had to manage this kind of thing don’t need telling; those of you who haven’t, well, I hope you never do.

One of the things that adds to the stress is having to renege on promises and cancel things. So let me be clear here: if you ask me a favour3 in the next three months you will not even get the courtesy of a no. Until late winter/early spring, my focus will be very close to home….

(4) CATHARTIC HORROR. Erika T. Wurth discusses on CrimeReads how her Native American background influenced her horror fiction. “Erika T. Wurth on Writing Native Horror During a Horror Renaissance”.

…As for myself, growing up on the outskirts of Denver with a mother of multi-tribal descent and an alcoholic, often abusive white father, my desire for the macabre took root fast. As horror author Grady Hendrix notes, this was perfect timing: the 80’s were part of the golden era of horror fiction. And Stephen King’s novel, The Shining, so mirrored my own experience—of running from an alcoholic dad who sometimes read Louis L’Amour to me—but other times held us at gunpoint in his underwear, that it became a compulsive go-to for the rest of my life.  Neither my boyfriend nor my therapist understand this compulsion, but research shows that a lot of us love horror because it helps us to process our trauma. There’s something about the mirroring of our own childhood and/or current traumas—and the way in which they resolve at the end that’s cathartic, as author Stephen Graham Jones notes. For me, horror is the only genre, when the stuff in my head becomes too intense, that distracts me. I often fall asleep while reading or watching it….

(5) MEMORY LANE.

1995 [By Cat Eldridge.] Deep Space Nine’s “Little Green Men”

We have come gather on this wet, cold Autumn evening to speak of little green men, specifically Deep Space Nine’s “Little Green Men” which first aired twenty-seven years ago this night in syndication.

It was from a story by Toni Marberry and Jack Trevino with the actual script by Ira Steven Behr and Robert Hewitt Wolfe. Behr was the showrunner and executive producer here. 

NATURALLY WE HAVE SPOILERS. WHAT DID YOU EXPECT? CHOCOLATE?

Quark and Rom are bringing Nog to Earth to enroll in Starfleet Academy, but they are accidentally sent back in time to 1947 after the shuttle is sabotaged and become, oopps!, the supposed alien invaders in the Roswell event.

Americans think they’re Martians. Quark attempts to sell technology that of course alter the timeline , but fortunately Odo shapeshifted came along because he knew Quark intended to make the trip profitable by smuggling an banned cargo of highly dangerous kemocite.  

Rom, intelligent and more clever than Quark by quantum levels, uses a nuclear weapon to get them back to the proper time. Once he’s off to Starfleet Academy, they head back to DS9 where Quark sells the damaged shuttle thereby losing money, and embarrassing him as Ferengi, and getting arrested by Odo for the kemocite smuggling.

I DO HAVE HOT CHOCOLATE IF YOU ARE STILL AROUND.

Reception of it by critics was absolutely wonderful. UKSciNow said “was a joy”. Very impressive.

Of course it’s streaming on Paramount +.

One last note: Charles Napier, who here was General Denning, previously appeared on Star Trek’s “The Way to Eden” as Adam. He had told the Trek casting people that he would only play a military character after having portrayed that “space hippie” in his last appearance. And here he is in his preferred role.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 13, 1850 Robert Louis Stevenson. Author of for Treasure IslandStrange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and the New Arabian Nights collection of short stories. (Died 1894.)
  • Born November 13, 1888 Philip Francis Nowlan. He’s best known as the creator of Buck Rogers. The character first appeared in Nowlan’s 1928 novella Armageddon 2419 A.D. as Anthony Rogers. Nowlan and the syndicate John F. Dille Company, later known as the National Newspaper Service syndicate, contracted to adapt the story into a comic strip illustrated by Dick Calkins. The strip made its first newspaper appearance on January 7, 1929. (Died 1940.)
  • Born November 13, 1935 Keith Roberts. Author of Pavane, an amazing novel.  I’ve also read his collection of ghost stories, Winterwood and Other Hauntings, with an introduction by Robert Holdstock. Interestingly he has four BSFA Awards including ones for the artwork for the cover of his own first edition of Kaeti & Company. (Died 2000.)
  • Born November 13, 1950 James Blaylock, 72. One of my favorite writers. I’d recommend the Ghosts trilogy, the Christian trilogy and The Adventures of Langdon St. Ives which collects all of the Langdon St. Ives adventures together as his best writing, but anything by him is worth reading. I see the usual suspects don’t have much by him but they do have two Langdon St. Ives tales, Homunclus and Beneath London.
  • Born November 13, 1955 Brenda Clough, 67. She was nominated for a Hugo at ConJosé for her “May Be Some Time” novella. I’m very fond of her fantasy Averidan series. Though very much not genre, I recommend her A Most Dangerous Woman, a sequel to The Woman in White by Wilkie Collin. It’s a serial on Realm and the usual suspects. 
  • Born November 13, 1957 Stephen Baxter, 65. Ok I’m going to confess that the only thing I’ve read that he’s written is the Long Earth series with Terry Pratchett.  I’ve only read the first three but they are quite great SF!  Ok I really, really need your help to figure out what else of his that I should consider reading.  To say he’s been a prolific writer is somewhat of an understatement and he’s gotten a bonnie bunch of awards as well though no Hugos.  It’s worth noting that Baxter’s story “Last Contact” was nominated for a Hugo for best short story at Denvention 3 as were The Time Ships as L.A. Con III, “Moon Six” novellette at BucConeer, “On the Orion Line” novellette  and “The Gravity Mine” short story at the Millennium Philcon, and finally “The Ghost Pit” short story at ConJosé.
  • Born November 13, 1974 Owen Sheers, 48. His first novel, Resistance, tells the story of the inhabitants of a valley near Abergavenny in Wales in the Forties shortly after the failure of Operation Overlord and a successful German takeover of Britain. It’s been made into a film.  He also wrote the “White Ravens”, a contemporary take off the myth of Branwen Daughter of Llyr, found in the New Stories from the Mabinogion series.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro points out a super-guy thing.
  • Tom Gauld goes to the book of the year awards:

(8) INSPIRED ART. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Horror illustrator Marisa Bruno (@MarisasHorror) did this parody of Ron Walotsky’s cover art for Barry N. Malzberg’s Tactics of Conquest (1974):

(9) REOPENING PANDORA. Here’s the official trailer for Avatar: The Way of Water. Coming on December 16.

(10) NINETEENTH CENTURY SCARES. Open Culture invites you to “Watch the First Horror Film, George Méliès’ The Haunted Castle (1896)”. It runs about four minutes.

… So how far back do we have to go to find the first horror movie? Almost as far back as the very origins of film, it seems—to 1896, when French special-effects genius Georges Méliès made the three plus minute short above, Le Manoir du Diable (The Haunted Castle, or the Manor of the Devil). Méliès, known for his silent sci-fi fantasy A Trip to the Moon—and for the tribute paid to him in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo—used his innovative methods to tell a story, writes Maurice Babbis at Emerson University journal Latent Image, of “a large bat that flies into a room and transforms into Mephistopheles. He then stands over a cauldron and conjures up a girl along with some phantoms and skeletons and witches, but then one of them pulls out a crucifix and the demon disappears.” Not much of a story, granted, and it’s not particularly scary, but it is an excellent example of a technique Méliès supposedly discovered that very year….

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Adam Savage goes to London and faunches after a starship model from Star Trek:  The Next Generation that was recently auctioned in London.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Ben Bird Person, 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 Cat Eldridge, who wanted to show he’s equally capable of contributing a short title.]

Pixel Scroll 8/30/22 Set Out Filing But I Take My Time, A Friend Of The Pixel Is A Scroll Of Mine

(1) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to join writer David Ebenbach for cheesecake in D.C. on Episode 179 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

David Ebenbach

David’s the author of eight books of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, the most recent being his novel How to Mars, published last year by Tachyon Press, and the short story collection The Guy We Didn’t Invite to the Orgy and Other Stories, published in 2017 by the University of Massachusetts Press. His short stories have appeared in such genre markets as Asimov’sAnalog, and Not One of Us, but he’s also been published in such literary markets as the Kenyon ReviewIowa Review, and New England Review.

His writing has won him the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, the Juniper Prize, the Patricia Bibby Award, and other awards. He works at Georgetown University, teaching creative writing and literature at the Center for Jewish Civilization and creativity through the Masters in Learning, Design, and Technology Program, and promoting inclusive, student-centered teaching at the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship.

We discussed the way he started writing science fiction without realizing he was writing science fiction, the final line of the worst thing he’s ever written, how his first scribbling as a kid was a violent spy novel about The Smurfs, why it’s important to root for an author and not merely our own reading experience, the cliches some in the literary and science fiction worlds believe about each other, the newspaper article which sparked his novel How to Mars, the way he’s managed to carve himself out a bifurcated writing life, the philosophical differences between those writing novels and short stories, and much more.

(2) KEEPING THE LAW GREEN. “Tatiana Maslany on ‘She-Hulk’, Joining Marvel, and LGBTQ Advocacy” in an ELLE interview.

… When she was announced as the next Marvel superhero, her cult following—which refers to themselves as the Clone Club—rejoiced. Maslany shielded both her pleasure and her apprehension well.

“I had always been wary of entering this universe or doing anything of this scale,” Maslany admits when we meet for the first time over Zoom. “There’s a part of me that always feels a bit more comfortable in a smaller piece. Just something that I can guarantee will be focused on character, guarantee will be collaborative.”

Her She-Hulk audition arrived “at this very raw, very interesting time for her,” says her best friend and Arrow actor Ben Lewis, who’s known her since they met in the early aughts on the set of the misguided Rob Lowe-led film Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming. (Lewis is reluctant to even name the film, but acknowledges Google maintains its existence.) When, during the height of the pandemic, Maslany told Lewis she planned to audition for She-Hulk, the idea of the 5’3” Maslany in a cape and tights—perhaps worse, as a derivative of the Incredible Hulk—seemed “incongruous” at best, Lewis says….

(3) COULD LIGHTNING STRIKE TWICE? Savannah Walsh’s Vanity Fair article recaps the teen dystopia’s rise and fall: “Nobody Ever Found the Next ‘Hunger Games’—But Boy, Did They Try”.

… “For years everyone tried to have the next Harry Potter and no one managed to do so, but that didn’t stop companies from trying,” Craig Dehmel, then head of international distribution for Fox, told TheWrap in 2015. “And in a sense, the Twilight and Hunger Games franchises were both born out of that pursuit.” 

The first film both rode and inspired a wave of similar films as studios began clamoring to find the next Y.A. juggernaut. In 2013 and 2014, there were no less than eight teen-centered sci-fi/fantasy films based on best-selling books crammed into theaters: Ender’s Game, The Maze Runner, The Giver, The Host, Beautiful Creatures, Percy Jackson Sea of Monsters, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, and Divergent

These films all adhered to a similar formula: promising up-and-coming actors (Saoirse Ronan, Logan Lerman, Lily Collins) played heroic and/or divinely gifted teenagers with the power to stop a tyrannical leader and/or oppressive government structure. Some were set in the future, others in an alternate universe. Most lured in veteran stars for scenery-chewing supporting roles (Kate Winslet, Jeff Bridges, Viola Davis) or hedged in a watered-down love triangle. And all were angling for a piece of the Hunger Games pie….

(4) HOUSE OF THE DRAGON VIEWERSHIP GROWS. Lost Remote reports “House of the Dragon Continues to Light HBO Ratings on Fire”.

…On Sunday, Episode 2 of the Game of Thrones spinoff was up 2% from its debut, earning 10.2 million viewers domestically across HBO Max and linear telecasts, based on a combination of Nielsen and first-party data. HBO previously noted that Sunday night viewership for a series typically represents just 20-40% of the show’s total gross audience.

House of the Dragon’s debut on Aug. 21 was the largest in HBO history, reaching nearly 10 million viewers. That episode is now approaching 25 million viewers in the U.S., according to the company….

(5) TOUGH QUIZ. Book Riot challenges fans: “Can You Guess the Sci-Fi Book By Its Pixelated Cover?” I got zero, so bleep them! (Many are not what I think is the iconic cover for a particular title, but one was, and I still didn’t get it.)

So, you consider yourself a sci-fi expert. You’ve read the classics and keep up with new releases. Well, then I’m sure you know all of these titles. They’re a mix of the most well-known and enduring stories in the genre and some very popular new releases. There’s nothing here that a sci-fi fan hasn’t heard of — in fact, you’ve likely read many of them. The trick is: can you name the title and author based on a pixelated version of the cover? After all, it’s when you have to test yourself that every book title leaves your mind.

(6) THE FORCE IS DOOP WITH THIS ONE. “Futurama’s Silliest Character Highlights a Constant Flaw in Sci-Fi” according to CBR.com.

… Any time the stakes get high enough on Futurama, it’s not uncommon to see the show’s perpetual blowhard, Zapp Brannigan, enter the fray. An oafish commanding officer within the intergalactic peacekeeping force known as DOOP, Brannigan frequently gets his men slaughtered in a series of heartless decisions and strategies. When things get particularly dire, it’s not uncommon to see Brannigan arrive in the Nimbus — a truly massive spaceship that serves as the flagship for DOOP forces. But despite the inherent power of the ship, it’s frequently being shown as completely useless in combat missions….

Across multiple stories, films and shows, it’s often shown that truly massive spaceships like the Nimbus just aren’t all that useful. They lack maneuverability, making for easy targets. The Star Wars series in particular is full of these, with the Moon-sized Death Star being destroyed with a single well-placed shot, while a massive flagship Star Destroyer is brought down when a single A-Wing crashes into the bridge in Return of the Jedi. Shows like Battlestar Galactica focused on the massive populations and crews necessary to keep those ships floating — and highlighted how quickly supplies can quickly run out…. 

(7) MEMORY LANE.  

1891 [By Cat Eldridge.] Excerpt from J.M. Barrie’s Sherlock Holmes : My Evening with Sherlock Holmes pastiche:

I am the sort of man whose amusement is to do everything better than any other body. Hence my evening with Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes is the private detective whose adventures Mr. Conan Doyle is now editing in the Strand magazine. To my annoyance (for I hate to hear anyone praised except myself) Holmes’s cleverness in, for instance, knowing by glancing at you what you had for dinner last Thursday, has delighted press and public, and so I felt it was time to take him down a peg. I therefore introduced myself to Mr. Conan Doyle and persuaded him to ask me to his house to meet Sherlock Holmes.

For poor Mr. Holmes it proved to be an eventful evening. I had determined to overthrow him with his own weapons, and accordingly when he began, with well-affected carefulness, “I perceive, Mr. Anon, from the condition of your cigar-cutter, that you are not fond of music,” I replied blandly, “Yes, that is obvious.

J.M. Barrie was a close personal friend of Arthur Conan Doyle, a fellow Scots. That was because Conan Doyle had worked on a new magazine called The Idler, which allowed him to meet other writers including James Barrie, the actual name of of J.M Barrie.

J. M. Barrie would write three pastiches about Sherlock Holmes : My Evening with Sherlock Holmes (1891), The Adventure of the Two Collaborators (1893) and The Late Sherlock Holmes (1893) where Dr. Watson is accused of the murder of Sherlock Holmes before being proven innocent when Holmes is found alive.

Otto Penzler, the expert on these matters, states that it is the earliest Holmes parody ever done.

So let’s look at the very first pastiche about Sherlock Holmes : My Evening with Sherlock Holmes. It was originally written anonymously by J. M. Barrie and published in The Speaker magazine on November 28, 1891, which was four months after the publication of the first Sherlock Holmes “A Scandal in Bohemia” story.

It’s an odd bit of writing as it’s narrated by Anon who’s determined to beat Holmes at his own game. 

SPOILERS BE HERE!

The narrator, Mr. Anon, convinces Conan Doyle to introduce him to Sherlock Holmes. The narrator then proceeds to beat Holmes at his own game, deducing his recent movements and his plans for the rest of the evening. 

He taunts Holmes like this, “Fool, fool! I have kept you in luxury for years. By my help you have ridden extensively in cabs where no author was ever seen before. Henceforth you will ride in buses!”

Angrily annoyed, Holmes leaves abruptly.

END SPOILERS

Barrie would write two more of these, The Adventure of the Two Collaborators and The Late Sherlock Holmes which Doyle really liked. They are available at the usual suspects though finding them takes a bit of Holmesian hunting. 

They’re available in various collections, so you’ll just need to decide which one you want to download. Some are free, some are Meredith moments, and some are actually professionally produced therefore cost quite a bit. The latter actually are edited properly. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 30, 1797 Mary Shelley. Author of the Gothic novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus which I’ll admit that I’ve not read. Who here has read it? It certainly has spawned a multiverse of novels and films since it came, some quite good, some quite bad.  (Died 1851.)
  • Born August 30, 1942 Judith Moffett, 80. Editor and academic. She won the first Theodore Sturgeon Award with her story “Surviving” and the fame gained for her Pennterra novel helped her win John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer at Nolacon II. Asimov wrote an introduction for the book and published it under his Isaac Asimov Presents series.  Her Holy Ground series of The Ragged World: A Novel of the Hefn on EarthTime, Like an Ever-Rolling Stream: A Sequel to the Ragged World and The Bird Shaman are her other genre novels. The Bear’s Babys And Other Stories collects her genre short stories. All of her works are surprisingly available at the usual digital suspects.
  • Born August 30, 1943 Robert Crumb, 79. He’s here because ISFDB lists him as the illustrator of The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick which is likely they say an interview that Dick did with Gregg Rickman and published in Rickman’s The Last Testament. They’re also listing the cover art for Edward Abby’s The Monkey Wrench Gang as genre but that’s a very generous definition of genre.
  • Born August 30, 1955 Jeannette Holloman. She was one of the founding members of the Greater Columbia Costumers Guild and she was a participant at masquerades at Worldcon, CostumeCon, and other conventions. Her costumes were featured in The Costume Makers Art and Threads magazine. (Died 2019.)
  • Born August 30, 1955 — Mark Kelly. He maintains the indispensable Science Fiction Awards Database, which we consult almost daily. He wrote reviews for Locus in the Nineties, then founded the Locus Online website in 1997 and ran it single-handedly for 20 years, along the way winning the Best Website Hugo (2002). (OGH)
  • Born August 30, 1965 Laeta Kalogridis, 57. She was an executive producer of the short-lived not-so-great Birds of Prey series and she co-wrote the screenplays for Terminator Genisys and Alita: Battle Angel. She recently was the creator and executive producer of Altered Carbon. She also has a screenwriting credit for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, a film the fanboys hate but which I really like. 
  • Born August 30, 1972 Cameron Diaz, 50. She first shows as Tina Carlyle in The Mask, an amazing film. (The sequel is bloody awful.) She voices Princess Fiona in the Shrek franchise. While dating Tom Cruise, she’s cast as an uncredited Bus passenger in Minority Report. Oh, and she’s Lenore Case in the Green Hornet.
  • Born August 30, 1980 Angel Coulby, 42. She is best remembered for her recurring role as Gwen (Guinevere) in the BBC’s Merlin. She also shows up in Doctor Who as Katherine in the “The Girl in the Fireplace”, a Tenth Doctor story. She also voices Tanusha ‘Kayo’ Kyrano in the revived animated Thunderbirds Are Go series.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lio is present when something goes viral.

(10) PHONE HACKER. “Artist Turns Old Payphone Into Fantastical Sci-Fi Art Display: ‘It’s Generated A Lot Of Interest’”Block Club Chicago has the story.

…The art display is named for its coordinates: 42.004587, -87.690123. It features an inscription with a cryptic quote attributed to St. Luna, another alias of the artist, saying, “Some day the words of an old, beloved song will go, “Parlin’s space is vast and so is time … .’”

The payphone is across the street from Warren Park, a few blocks from Luna Rail’s West Ridge home. One day, the artist took note of the payphone infrastructure that had been left to decay.

Luna Rail figured there could be a better use for it and conceived of the installation. The piece was installed in June.

“There’s so few of these left,” Luna Rail said. “I looked at it [and thought], ‘It’s perfect.’”

Luna Rail visits the display most days. He comes by at night to turn on lights connected to the installation. During the day, he fixes issues caused by weather or vandalism….

(11) DEATH FROM ABOVE. “The Giant Meteor Trope In Science Fiction, Explained” by GameRant.

… There is perhaps no simpler trope in science fiction. The giant meteor is what it says on the tin. A piece of a comet or an asteroid that once orbited the sun breaks and gets caught up in Earth’s gravity. As it enters the atmosphere, it reaches terminal velocity. When it hits the surface, it does so with cataclysmic force. The first recorded meteor strike witnessed by a person was in 1064, near Changzhou, China. Shen Kuo reported the sights, the sound, and his findings in the resulting crater. There are a few cases of meteorites landing in Europe in the 1400s to be studied by scientists. In 1980, a team of award-winning scientists concluded that the age of the dinosaurs ended in an impact event. Those elements, along with mankind’s general fear of the endless unknown that makes up outer space led to a tradition of tales about things falling from the sky…

(12) CAT GOT THEIR TONGUE? [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The New York Times investigates whether AI tools can help SJWs figure out what their cat wants. “Did My Cat Just Hit On Me? An Adventure in Pet Translation”.

… MeowTalk, whose founders enlisted Dr. Ntalampiras after the study appeared, expands on this research, using algorithms to identify cat vocalizations made in a variety of contexts.

The app detects and analyzes cat utterances in real-time, assigning each one a broadly defined “intent,” such as happy, resting, hunting or “mating call.” It then displays a conversational, plain English “translation” of whatever intent it detects, such as Momo’s beleaguered “Let me rest.” (Oddly, none of these translations appear to include “I will chew off your leg if you do not feed me this instant.”)

MeowTalk uses the sounds it collects to refine its algorithms and improve its performance, the founders said, and pet owners can provide in-the-moment feedback if the app gets it wrong.

In 2021, MeowTalk researchers reported that the software could distinguish among nine intents with 90 percent accuracy overall. But the app was better at identifying some than others, not infrequently confusing “happy” and “pain,” according to the results….

(13) YESTERDAY’S TOMORROW. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Kate Bellingham explains in 1994 how “something called the Internet” can let you watch movies and buy things and even write to politicians because she wrote President Clinton and got a response but British Prime Minister John Major didn’t have a modem. “1994: Are YOU Ready for the INTERNET?” from BBC’s Tomorrow’s World.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Xenoblade Chronicles 3,” Fandom Games, in a spoiler-filled episode, says that this game may be “the most Japanese thing” since the dude who sings “Pen Pineapple Apple Pen,” since you cosplay a character who spends a third of the time playing the flute for dead people, there’s a fat kid who dies, and a required friendship robot.  “No one likes a game about the power of friendship more than a drudge who hasn’t seen an actual human being in weeks,” says the narrator.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Jennifer Hawthorne, Scott Edelman, 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 Joe H.]

Pixel Scroll 8/23/22 Another Hulkling, Another Skrull

(1) GENRE SQUEAKS IN. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Amazingly, there actually is one genre book on the Deutscher Buch Preis (German Book Prize) longlist, which is quite unusual for this award, which tends to go to family sagas with historical background or novels about rootless young people in the big city.

The novel in question is Auf See (At Sea) by Theresia Enzensberger, which tells the story of a woman who grows up in a floating city in the Baltic Sea that was founded by her father, a tech billionaire to escape the chaos on shore. Alas, the floating city is declining and the protagonist worries that she might be succumbing to the same mystery disease as her late mother.

The 20-book longlist is here. The winner receives prize money of €25,000 (US$24,855). The five finalists each receive €2,500 (US$2,485). The shortlist will be released September 20.

(2) LET ME INTERRUPT YOU. “An ‘Impertinent’ Interview with Lawrence Block” at Janet Rudolph’s Mystery Fanfare includes a few sff moments.

And here you are with another book—

The Burglar Who Met Fredric Brown.

—and another plug for another title, sheesh, what is it with you? Never mind, don’t answer that. Fredric Brown. Sensational writer, a whole lot better than you, and equally at home in science fiction and mystery. You ever write any SF?

I had a story in a magazine, Science Fiction Stories, in 1959, and it was chosen for Judith Merril’s best-of-the-year collection. And in 1984 Fantasy & Science Fiction ran “The Boy Who Disappeared Clouds.”

Two stories twenty-five years apart. Doesn’t exactly put you up there with Sturgeon and Asimov, does it?

I never said—

(3) BOFFO HOME BOX OFFICE. “House of the Dragon recorded HBO’s biggest premiere of all time” reports The Independent.

HBO has revealed that the first episode of its Game of Thrones spinoff House of the Dragon recorded the network’s biggest premiere of all time.

Warner Bros Discovery said that the show recorded approximately 9.9 million views on Sunday (21 August) night in the US alone….

(4) HOW TO COOK A DIREWOLF. “Chicago Chef Iliana Regan Didn’t Just Cook Fine Dining — She Cooked Fanfiction” explains Eater’s Rachel P. Kreiter.

The first time I went to a Game of Thrones dinner at the restaurant Elizabeth, the room was decked out in banners bearing ancestral sigils, while dozens of vinyl figurines were stuffed into every possible gap and onto every ledge. It was April 2017, a seventh season of the show would air in a couple of months, and a friend had come to Chicago to attend this dinner with me, not because we loved Game of Thrones — neither of us had watched for years at that point — but because the idea of a fannish dinner was exciting.

Before each of 10 courses, the staff explained the source or inspiration for everything that was served. We had the “black bread” that is mentioned repeatedly in the novels the TV series is based on. (This version was dyed with squid ink.) It was served with accompaniments, one of which was an asparagus relish; at another table, the server was explaining how he’d seen the chef arranging the asparagus on her bread like dragon scales while testing out the recipe.

If courses were inspired by something exact, the servers mentioned its scene of origin: After Catelyn Stark arrests Tyrion Lannister at an inn, she dines on onions dripping in juices, and we got the same. (The plating of these was vaguely scale-like, too.) Within a three-part course that reflected the seafaring Iron Islands culture, one dish, squid “noodles,” was a subtle nod toward the sigil of the local ruling family. Another Iron Islands dish, clams in a dashi broth, was inspired by a particular line in the fourth book of five currently published: “Aeron broke his fast on a broth of clams and seaweed cooked above a driftwood fire.” These citations were delivered in the same breath as the ingredient sources: This cheese is from Indiana, and that amuse-bouche draws on a description of tables laid with strawberries and sweetgrass.

The chef, Iliana Regan, has seemingly never done anything half-assed or half-hearted in her life; obviously she owns a small army of Game of Thrones dolls, and if she was bothering to cook a menu about it, there was going to be a chest of handmade dragon eggs next to the duck press near the kitchen….

(5) HANDMADE. Geek Tyrant introduces fans to “Impressively Detailed Sci-Fi Mecha Cardboard Art By Greg Olijnyk”.

…One of his pieces is titled David v G 2.0, which is a Mecha meets samurai meets bible story. It’s a retelling of David and Goliath. Each of his creations below comes with a little note about what his goal was for each piece.

(6) HEADED FOR CHICAGO? Just a reminder about the availability of a great resource, “Neil’s Native Guide, Chicon 8 Edition”.

This compendium is for members of Chicon, who are only in town for a few days, with hours or half-days (or empty stomachs!) to fill, so “here” is the Hyatt Regency on East Wacker (city center map  We’re part of Illinois Center on the south side of the mouth of the river.). Except for Hyde Park (Museum of Science and Industry, University of Chicago, site of the first nuclear “pile”, site of 1893 Columbian Exposition), marked with the Ferris Wheel, I’ve tried to restrain myself from things more than a couple of miles from the Loop. Alas, no Nazi submarine  [2]  [3], PullmanGarfield Park Conservatory, or Green Mill (fortunately, Ric Addy’s tour of the basement is on YouTube [2]).

(7) LANSDALE INTERVIEW. [Todd Mason.] And a good one, though you can pretty much ignore that pre-i/v intro. The interviewer does like to ask Tell Me About Your Journey questions of Creatives. “’The Family That Creates Together…’ Writer Joe Lansdale & Singer Kasey Lansdale” in The Hollywood AWAC Podcast with Host Bill Thill.

Host Bill Thill sits down with writer Joe R. Lansdale (“Hap And Leonard”, “Cold In July”, “The Bottoms”, Etc.) And Kasey Lansdale to discuss their recent collaboration writing their new book, “Terror Is Our Business”. This talented father-daughter duet chat about the creative process and what it takes to build a life less ordinary while pursuing creative endeavors.

(8) POPULARIZING SPACE EXPLORATION. At Dreams of Space, scans of Wernher Von Braun’s fictionalized portrayal of what “5 Days on the Moon” would really be like. From This Week, March 8, 1959.

“5 Days on the Moon” by Wernher Von Braun and illustrated by Fred Freeman.  These are hard to find. I am still looking for a copy of part 2.  

(While we’re aware of Von Braun’s V-2 program in WW2 and use of slave labor there, this item is linked as an example of how a vision for Moon exploration was set in American mass media just a few years before the real thing.)

(9) THE HORROR. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] If Winnie the Pooh can get a horror adaptation, why not Pretty Woman? “Popular Movies That Need Horror Adaptations”, a list by Buzzfeed’s Jeremy Hayes. For example:

3. It’s a Wonderful Life

The original is a Christmas classic, but this horror adaptation would focus on the elements at the movie’s end when George Bailey wishes he was never born. There’s an opportunity for a thought-provoking thriller with dark and supernatural elements. Imagine Clarence as a dark angel instead of George’s guardian angel.

My horror movie description: A man’s life falls into chaos after an angel makes it so he was never born.

The closest film comparison: The Forgotten

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

2014 [By Cat Eldridge.] Peter Capaldi began his reign as the Twelfth Doctor in “Deep Breath” which featured just a brief cameo from Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor. It was a crowded affair as his Companion, Clara Oswald as played by Jenna Coleman, was there, as was Neve as Madame Vastra and Catrin Stewart as her wife Jenny Flint and Dan Starkey as Santoran Strax. 

Partly without a working memory, a common theme with newly regenerated Doctors and one I’d dearly love to know why, he takes on The Faceless One. No more shall I say to skip the bother of posting SPOILER WARNINGS! 

Now how was Capaldi as a Doctor? I liked his spiky, brusque and acerbic take on the Doctor and there were episodes that I must say were absolutely stellar. The take off Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express titled “Mummy on the Orient Express” and the heist story “Time Heist” was one of the best Who stories even told. “Twice Upon a Time” where he meets the First Doctor was amazing. 

His relationships with Clara Oswald and Bill Potts I thought was written well. The Third Companion, Nardole, really not so much. That’s not his fault that at least for me Nardole didn’t work. 

I hold that he was smart, inventive and unlike most incarnations of the Doctors save the Fourth and the Seventh, he had a touch of sarcasm running through him. Subtle at times, not at all subtle other times. Not a bad thing to have, I’d say. 

Some of his episodes got nominated for Hugos — “Listen” at Sasquan, “Heaven Sent” at MidAmeriCon II, “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” at Worldcon 75 and “Twice Upon a Time” at Worldcon 76. None alas won.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 23, 1868 Edgar Lee Masters. Author of the Spoon River Anthology which, since each poem is by someone who’s dead, should count as genre, shouldn’t it?  Well, I think so even if you don’t, so there. (Died 1950.)
  • Born August 23, 1927 Peter Wyngarde. Not a lead actor in any genre series but interesting nonetheless. For instance, he shows up in the two Sherlock Holmes series, one with Peter Cushing and one with Jeremy Brett. He’s in a series of Doctor Who with the Fifth Doctor and he faces off against the classic Avenger pairing of Steed and Peel. He shows up as Number Two in The Prisoner as well. (Died 2018.)
  • Born August 23, 1929 Vera Miles, 93. Lila Crane in Psycho which she reprised in Psycho II. On a much more family friendly note, she’s Silly Hardy in Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle, the very last of the twelve Tarzan pictures released by RKO. She has done one-offs on Buck Rogers in Twentieth CenturyFantasy Island, The Twilight ZoneAlfred Hitchcock PresentsI Spy and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. 
  • Born August 23, 1931 Barbara Eden, 91. Jeannie on I Dream of Jeannie. Her first genre role however was on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as Lt. Cathy Connors though she’d show up a few years later as Greta Heinrich on The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm. And let’s not forget Barbara Eden’s role in The Brass Bottle, a 1964 film where she’s the girlfriend of a guy who is played Tony Randall who finds a troublemaking genie who was portrayed by Burl Ives. Some thirty-five years after I Dream of Jeannie went off the air, she had a recurring role as Aunt Irma on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch
  • Born August 23, 1944 Karl Alexander. Author of Time after Time which when filmed was directed and written by Nicholas Meyer. Cast included Malcolm McDowell, Mary Steenburgen and David Warner. (A thirteen-episode series would happen in 2017.) His sequel of Jaclyn the Ripper is not as well known, nor is his Time-Crossed Lovers novel. (Died 2015.)
  • Born August 23, 1965 Chris Bachalo, 57. Illustrator well-known for his work on DC Comics’ Shade, the Changing Man and Gaiman’s two Death series, Death: The High Cost of Living and Death: The Time of Your Life
  • Born August 23, 1970 River Phoenix. The Young Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was his best known genre role. He was also Wolfgang Müller in Explorers, and he’s Talbot Roe in Silent Tongue, a horror film most likely you’ve never heard of. (Died 1993.)
  • Born August 23, 1990 Jessica Lee Keller, 32. Lauren, Elise’s Best Friend, in The Adjustment Bureau from Philip K. Dick’s “Adjustment Team” story. She also shows up in LuciferTerror Birds and 12-24 where IMDB describes her as the One Tit Zombie. (CE) 

(12) SF REFERENCES, TOO. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna profiles Tom Batiuk, who is celebrating the 50th anniversary of “Funky Winkerbean,” one of the few daily strips where the characters age in real time. “How ‘Funky Winkerbean’ became the darkest strip on the comics pages”.

…“I started out writing about kids in high school who worry about trying to get a date and climbing the rope in gym class,” says the “Funky Winkerbean” creator this month by Zoom from Medina, Ohio. “Now, I’m writing about going to financial seminars and getting colonoscopies and playing pickleball.”…

(13) BOOK AUCTION ONLINE WEDNESDAY. Matt of Bookpilled is having another classic book auction Wednesday, August 24. “Whatnot – Vintage SF & Fantasy Masterpieces Livestream by thriftalife”. From what Matt calls a “Painfully Good Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Haul That I Can’t Keep”. The video previews some of the gems.

(14) MOON HOAX NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Dave Kindy discusses the Great Moon Hoax of 1835, in which readers of the New York Sun were thrilled by a series about creatures on the Moon until they discovered the series was sf written by Sun reporter Richard Adams Locke. “Great Moon Hoax of 1835 convinced the world of extraterrestrial life”.

…The Sun ran six articles on the discoveries over the course of a week beginning on Aug. 25, 1835. The stories included amazing descriptions of life on the moon, as viewed through an enormous telescope with “hydro-oxygen” lenses built by Herschel at an observatory on the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.

According to the Sun, the articles were reprinted from the Edinburgh Journal of Science in Scotland. In them, Grant wrote about golden temples and a ruby coliseum built by VespertilioHomo, a Latin name meaning “bat-man,” which was given to the humanoids populating the moon.

He also reported how “some of their amusements would but ill comport with our terrestrial notions of decorum.” Apparently, these winged humans liked to share intimate moments in public — presumably of a sexual nature…

(15) DIFFERENT ENDING TACKED ON. The New York Times reveals “In China’s Version of ‘Minions’ Movie, Morality Triumphs”. BEWARE SPOILERS.

 The bright yellow creatures known as Minions have caused plenty of chaos on movie screens. When their latest film, “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” opened in China last Friday, censors decided to impose some law and order.

In the original version, the film’s two main villains make a bold escape, unpunished. But on Chinese social media, photographs of what appeared to be a jarringly different epilogue stitched into the credits section soon began to circulate widely.

According to that epilogue, one of the villains got a lengthy prison sentence for his crimes, while the other became an attentive father of three, in what some saw as a nod to China’s policy of encouraging higher birthrates.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Minions: The Rise of Gru,” the Screen Junkies say that “Everyone will be dumber for having seen it. But I award it all the points and may God make Minions of us all.”  Now that Pixar has cornered the market in depressing your kids, the Minions film delivers fart jokes, ‘Silly Minion gibberish,” and ancient Boomer references that are too old for your parents (remember Don Rickles?)

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Rob Thornton, Todd Mason, BGrandrath, Neil Rest, 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 8/16/22 Faraway Pixels With Strange-Sounding Scrolls

(1) HOUSE OF THE DRAGON ACTOR RECEIVES RACIAL ABUSE. “Steve Toussaint reveals racist abuse after being cast in House of the Dragon” – the Guardian has the story.  

Steve Toussaint has revealed he received racist abuse online after he was cast as Corlys Velaryon in the upcoming Game Of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon.

The 57-year-old British actor has previously starred in Doctor Who, Line of Duty and Death in Paradise.

Speaking to the Radio Times about his lead role in the highly anticipated HBO series, Toussaint said: “When they announced [my casting], one of the first things I saw on social media was a drawing of the character [from the books] next to a picture of me.

“And then there was the racist abuse that came with that.”

In the books by George RR Martin on which the series is based, the Velaryons are described as having white skin, ghostly pale hair and purple eyes. However, in the new series the clan are reimagined as black nobles with long silver dreadlocks.

Reflecting on the backlash from fans of the series of books, Toussaint continued: “I kind of thought: ‘Oh, I get it’. When we were criminals and pirates and slaves in the other show, you were OK with that.

“But as this guy is the richest [character] in the show and he’s a nobleman, now you have a problem with it.

“In House Of The Dragon [our colour] is just a given – I quite like that.”

Despite the risk that acknowledging the backlash could give it greater prominence, Toussaint said he thought it was important to address it….

(2) EVERYBODY LOOK, WHAT’S GOING DOWN. Jay Blanc saw that someone in a Baen’s Bar forum is once more writing the kind of things that led Jason Sanford last year to do a report about the forum being used to advocate political violence.

https://twitter.com/jayblanc/status/1559195968251338752

Here’s people on @BaenBooks Web Forum talking about how to shoot someone wearing body armour in a thread about the Judge who signed the #MarALagoFBIRaid warrant.

Please boycott Baen Books for hosting a forum for domestic terrorists. pic.twitter.com/uYxRnp05iG

— Jay Blanc (@jayblanc) August 15, 2022

(3) SOCIAL MEDIA LIGHTNING STRIKES. IN A GOOD WAY. The Guardian profiles a 26-year-old author who got a six figure advance for her YA fantasy debut after it took off on TikTok“More zeros than I’ve seen in my life’: the author who got a six-figure deal via ‘BookTok’”.

Having finally published her first novel, Alex Aster was feeling disheartened. The book had tanked during the pandemic and she had been dropped by her literary agent. Then, on 13 March 2021, she decided to take to TikTok, asking her followers if they would: “read a book about a cursed island that only appears once every 100 years to host a game that gives the six rulers of the realm a chance to break their curses.” One of the rulers must die, the short video revealed, “even as love complicates everything” for the heroine, Isla Crown.

Aster didn’t expect much, especially when she checked in a few hours later to see that her post had only clocked up about 1,000 views. Maybe the books world was right, she thought. Maybe there wasn’t a market for Lightlark, a young adult story she had been writing and rewriting for years, to no interest from publishers. The next day, however, she woke up to see her video had been viewed more than a million times. A week later, Lightlark had gone to auction and she had a six-figure deal with Amulet Books. Last month, Universal preemptively bought the film rights for, in her words, “more zeros than I’ve seen in my life”….

(4) WHEN BOOK LOVERS GET TOGETHER. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] ln the Guardian, Sarah Shaffi wonders about the future of literary festivals after Covid: “Are literary festivals doomed? Why book events need to change”. A lot of this applies to cons as well.

…Lizzie Curle, festival director at Capital Crime, which will be held in September, said festivals were “dealing with the psychological impact” of coronavirus, and people’s nervousness around the illness. To mitigate this, Capital Crime will be moving from its previous venue of the Grand Connaught Rooms in London to “fully aerated” tents in Battersea Park. Although the pandemic meant Capital Crime had to take two years off from an in-person event after its inaugural festival in 2019, Curle said the crisis “forced independent businesses like Capital Crime to get creative”.

Leah Varnell, managing director at Ways With Words in Dartington in Devon, said that “audience numbers were low across all events” at this year’s festival, something she has put down to the cost of living crisis.

“The mood music seemed that ‘leisure’ activities had to be jettisoned due to the already felt increased cost of fuel/food,” she said, “and there was a palpable anxiety about how much more expensive life may yet become and for how long the cost of living pressures would be felt.”…

(5) THE FUTURE IS MODULAR. Cora Buhlert’s latest article for Galactic Journey is about the rise of the shipping container, which is just taking off in 1967: “[August 16, 1967] Boxes, Big Steel Boxes: The Rise of the Shipping Container”.

… The first of the 226 containers on board was unloaded without a hitch. However, disaster struck when the second container, a refrigerated unit called a “reefer container”, carrying frozen chicken legs from Virginia, slipped from the hook of the on-board cargo crane of the Fairland and crashed down onto the driver’s cab of a brand-new truck waiting below. Thankfully, the driver was not seriously injured. The container survived the fall as well, as did the chicken legs, though the truck did not….

(6) WOLFGANG PETERSEN (1941-2022). Noted director Wolfgang Petersen died August 16 at the age of 81. While known for such films as The Perfect Storm, Air Force One and Das Boot, he also directed genre films The NeverEnding Story (1984), Enemy Mine (1985), and (dare we count?) Troy (2004).

(7) MEMORY LANE.  

2011 [By Cat Eldridge.] He-Man is a toy franchise, and yes, I’m approaching it that way, with a complicated history. It started twenty years ago on this date and ended on January 10, 2004. It wasn’t a particularly successful series lasting but two seasons and thirty-nine episodes. 

So why did I emphasis the toy aspect? Because it was produced to coincide with Mattel’s revival of the Masters of the Universe toy franchise eleven years after a previous attempt, which failed quite spectacularly.

So the look and feel emulates the toy line. I’m not an expert on He-Man mythos, so I have drafted one in the guise of Cora Buhlert, who will give her extensive thoughts in a minute.

Video wise as I said, it’s been complicated. There’s been two films and seven series. That’s doesn’t include He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special. Seriously He-Man learns the means of Christmas.

Now let’s have Cora’s rather great review of this. But first she says that you, courtesy of Mattel, can legally watch it. The three-part pilot is up, and they are dropping a new episode she says every Tuesday. The playlist is here: “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002) | Season 1 Episode 1 | The Beginning, Part 1”.

Now for her review.

Cora Buhlert: IMO, it was a very good update of the early 1980s Filmation show. It had more internal continuity than the 1980s show and fleshed out the worldbuilding. Both Prince Adam and Teela were a bit younger in the 2002 show, sixteen as compared to eighteen/nineteen in the Filmation show, and also brattier, but then they are teenagers. This contrasts with the fact that the 2002 show was quite a bit darker and villains like Skeletor or King Hiss were genuinely nasty. Skeletor tortures King Randor and Man-at-Arms, throws a vial of acid in Randor’s face (which backfires) and tries to throw both Prince Adam and Randor into a bottomless abyss. King Hiss, leader of the Snake Men, eats people.  

The 2002 show also gave the supporting characters both good and bad more to do and gave characters like Stinkor (who had never appeared in the original show) or Two-Bad an origin story. And the Snake Men, main antagonists of season 2, had never appeared in the Filmation cartoon at all, because they were introduced after the show ended. The 2002 show also popularized what is now the accepted origin story of Skeletor, namely that he once was Keldor, a blue humanoid and King Randor’s estranged half-brother. He gained his skull face, when he tried to throw a vial of acid into Randor’s face, only for Randor to deflect it and Keldor/Skeletor managing to burn off his own face instead. The character of King Grayskull, He-Man’s heroic ancestor who built Castle Grayskull, originates here. He most recently showed up in Masters of the Universe: Revelation, infuriating the usual suspects because he was portrayed as black in the later show. The man bun Man-at-Arms wears in Masters of the Universe: Revelation (the 2021 Netflix show) also originates here as does the fact (which shows up in my photo stories a lot) that Man-at-Arms and Fisto are brothers. Plus, the 2002 show has the best version of King Randor.

Oddly enough, the 2002 show was more closely tied to the toys Mattel was trying to sell than the 1980s show. Because while the toys would occasionally show up in the Filmation show, they often did whatever they pleased without paying any attention to the toyline. Meanwhile, in the 2002 show, you have a few episodes where the writers obviously tried to shoehorn in some toy Mattel was trying to sell, even though it doesn’t really fit the story, e.g. a touching flashback episode about the events that led to Teela’s birth is interrupted by a random fight with slime zombies.

Things I don’t like: Some of the fight scenes are too stylized – basically people jump into the air and twirl their weapons a lot. Cringer/Battlecat doesn’t talk in this one, whereas I prefer Cringer to talk. Queen Marlena who is a formidable woman in the 1980s show gets very little to do here. Count Marzo, a secondary antagonist from the 1980s show, unfortunately looks like an anti-semitic caricature in his non-powered form, which shocked me in a show made in the 21st century. And I’ll never accept that Fisto is Teela’s biological father, sorry. 

(See Cora’s latest Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre photo story  “The Mystery of He-Man’s Long-Lost Twin Sister” at the link.)

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 16, 1884 Hugo Gernsback. Publisher of the first SF magazine, Amazing Stories in 1926. He also helped create fandom through the Science Fiction League. Pittcon voted him a Hugo titled Father of Magazine Science Fiction, and he was voted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award. He’s the writer of the Ralph 124C 41+ novel which scholar Westfahl considers “essential text for all studies of science fiction.” There’s at least nine versions of it available at the usual suspects which is sort of odd. (Died 1967.)
  • Born August 16, 1930 Robert Culp. He’d make the Birthday Honors solely for being the lead in Outer Limits’ “Demon with a Glass Hand” which Ellison wrote specifically with him in mind. He would do two more appearances on the show, “Corpus Earthling” and “The Architects of Fear”. Around this time, he made one-offs on Get Smart! and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. before being Special FBI Agent Bill Maxwell in The Greatest American Hero. Did you know there was a Conan the Adventurer series in the Nineties in which he was King Vog in one episode? I’ve not seen it. Do we consider I Spy genre? Well we should. (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 16, 1933 Julie Newmar, 89. Catwoman in Batman. Her recent voice work includes the animated Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face, both done in the style of the Sixties show. They feature the last voice work by Adam West. Shatner btw plays Harvey Dent aka Two Face.  She was on the original Trek in the “Friday’s Child” episode as Eleen. She also has one-offs on Get Smart!Twilight ZoneFantasy IslandBionic WomanBuck Rogers in the 25th Century, Bewitched and Monster Squad
  • Born August 16, 1934 andrew j. offutt. I know him through his work in the Thieves’ World anthologies though I also enjoyed the Swords Against Darkness anthologies that he edited. I don’t think I’ve read any of his novels. And I’m not a Robert E. Howard fan so I’ve not read any of his Cormac mac Art or Conan novels but his short fiction is superb. His only award was a Phoenix Award which is a lifetime achievement award for a science fiction professional who had done a great deal for Southern Fandom. (Died 2013.)
  • Born August 16, 1934 Diana Wynne Jones. If there’s essential reading for her, it’d be The Tough Guide to Fantasyland which is a playful look at the genre. Then I’d toss in Deep Secret for its setting, and Fire and Hemlock for her artful merging of the Scottish ballads Tam Lin and Thomas the Rhymer. Now what’s the name of the exemplary short story collection she did late in life? Ahhh it was Unexpected Magic: Collected Stories with the great cover by artist Dan Craig. Yes, I bought it without opening the book solely because of the cover! (Died 2011.)
  • Born August 16, 1958 Rachael Talalay, 64. She made her directorial debut with Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, and she also worked on the first four of the Nightmare on Elm Street films. Moving from horror to SF, she directed Tank Girl next. A long time Who fan, she directed all three of Twelfth Doctor’s series finales; series 8’s “Dark Water” and “Death in Heaven”; along with series 9’s “Heaven Sent” and “Hell Bent”; before directing series 10’s “World Enough and Time” and “The Doctor Falls.” She capped her Who work with “Twice Upon a Time”, the last Twelfth Doctor story. Her latest genre undertaking is A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting.
  • Born August 16, 1960 Timothy Hutton, 62. Best known as Nathan Ford  on the Leverage series which is almost genre. His first genre was in Iceman as Dr. Stanley Shephard, and he was in The Dark Half in the dual roles of Beaumont and George Stark. He’s David Wildee in The Last Mizo, based off “Mimsy Were the Borogoves” by Lewis Padgett (husband-and-wife team Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore). He was Hugh Crain in The Haunting of Hill House series. I’m going to finish off this Birthday note by singling out his most superb role as Archie Goodwin on the Nero Wolfe series. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Macanudo shows what would happen if Peter Pan visited today (though where’s Nana?)

(10) COSTUME PROMPTS POLICE HARASSMENT IN CHINA. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The Guardian has an article about a cosplayer being arrested in Suzhou, China, for wearing a kimono as part of her cosplay: “Chinese woman ‘detained for wearing Japanese kimono’”.

A Chinese woman said she was detained by police for hours and accused of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” for wearing a Japanese kimono and taking photos in a city street.

The woman was wearing the kimono and a wig while cosplaying as a popular character from the manga series Summer Time Rendering. She was taking photos in Suzhou when she and her photographer were approached by a police officer, according to video filmed and shared to social media.

In the video, the woman explains she was conducting a photoshoot, but an officer tells her: “If you came here wearing Hanfu, I wouldn’t say this. But you are wearing a kimono, as a Chinese. You are a Chinese! Are you?”

Hanfu is a term for traditional Han Chinese dress. The woman asked why she was being yelled at and was told she was suspected of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, a catchall accusation used routinely by Chinese authorities against dissidents, journalists and activists.

The video cuts out shortly after she is grabbed by officers and taken away….

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

Pixel Scroll 8/4/22 Engine Summertime, And The Scrolling Is Easy

(1) BIDDING WILF FAREWELL. Radio Times profiles the late actor in “Bernard Cribbins: How he brought magic to Doctor Who”.

…It was when Howard Attfield, who’d played Donna’s dad in The Runaway Bride, passed away before his scenes could be completed on 2008 episode Partners in Crime that Russell T Davies hit upon the idea of bringing in Cribbins as Donna’s gramps (Cribbins re-filmed the scenes that Attfield had already completed).

With any other actor it would have taken fans time to fall in love, but RTD was clearly banking on 40-plus years’ worth of affection for Cribbins. And it’s testament to how scene-stealing the actor was in that episode that Wilf pops up more and more as the 2008 series goes on. He’s heartbreaking in alternate reality episode Turn Left, as he watches immigrants being forcefully taken away by the army. “Labour camps, that’s what they called them last time,” he says, tearfully. “It’s happening again.”…

(2) SIT ON IT. The Los Angeles County Natural History Museum will be exhibiting “House of the Dragon:The Targaryen Dynasty” from August 5-September 7.

The Natural History Museum and HBO Max present a new, one-of-a-kind experience exploring the lives and legends of the HBO original series House of the Dragon. Visit the mythical world of Westeros, the Targaryen Dynasty, and the dragons that ruled beside them. Attendees will be the first to see new costumes and props from the series and have the chance to sit on a replica of the new Iron Throne.

Through related digital and public programming, we will also explore the relationship between dragons and the real-life creatures that may have inspired them.

(3) A NOVEL INTERPRETATION. If the government’s suit to keep Penguin Random House from buying a competitor, Simon & Schuster, is successful, does that actually help Amazon? “The Books Merger That’s About Amazon” (limited to New York Times subscribers).  

…This case, which is about much more than books and the earnings of big-name authors, is another example of the debate over how to handle large companies — including the biggest digital powers — that shape our world.

The elephant in the room is Amazon. Book publishers want to become bigger and stronger partly to have more leverage over Amazon, by far the largest seller of books in the United States. One version of Penguin Random House’s strategy boils down to this: Our book publishing monopoly is the best defense against Amazon’s book selling monopoly.

As the dominant way Americans find and buy books, Amazon can, in theory, steer people to titles that generate more income for the company. If authors or publishers don’t want their books sold on Amazon, they may disappear into obscurity, or counterfeits may proliferate. But if the publisher is big enough, the theory goes, then it has leverage over Amazon to stock books on the prices and terms the publisher prefers.

“Their argument is in order to protect the market from monopolization by Amazon, we’re going to monopolize the market,” said Barry Lynn, the executive director of the Open Markets Institute, an organization that wants tougher antitrust laws and enforcement….

(4) WHO PAINTED THOSE GREEN HILLS OF EARTH? In the Saturday Evening Post: “The Art of the Post: Illustrator Fred Ludekens — The Post’s ‘Problem Child’”. “Falling horse? Man on Mars? Thirteenth century Mongolian warriors? When the Post needed someone to illustrate the unusual, they called Fred Ludekens.”

…For example, in 1947 the Post needed an illustration for a story by Robert Heinlein that takes place in “interplanetary space.” According to How I Make a Picture, the art editor recalled that he scratched his head and wondered, “What the hell does interplanetary space look like?” Next, he called Fred Ludekens.

The story, The Green Hills of Earth, was about a blind accordion player living in the Martian city of Marsopolis. Ludekens first thought he might avoid a lot of homework by proposing a flat, “decorative” design as an illustration. Here is his preliminary draft that he submitted to the Post:

But the Post said no. Then he thought he might get off easily by adopting a “fantasy” approach:

But again the Post said no. Any illustrator could do that kind of painting. The Post wanted a “realistic” illustration. The magazine had housewives and truck drivers amongst its readers, but it also had astronomers and university professors itching to criticize any technical error they might find. The Post needed an artist who could please a general audience but at the same time satisfy the experts….

Heinlein must have liked the painting – he ended up with it. (And it was displayed as part of the 2011 Worldcon’s history sf art exhibit.)

(5) FANDOM’S JOE KENNEDY. First Fandom Experience has another entry in anticipation of Chicon 8’s “Project 1946”, which the Worldcon is doing in lieu of Retro Hugos: “Science Fiction and Fantasy in Books: 1946”

Continuing our series of posts in preparation for the 1946 Project at Chicon 8.

In the aftermath of the war, an explosion of genre book publishing brought science fiction and fantasy closer to the mainstream. However, new novel-length fiction was scarce, so the vast majority of titles issued in 1946 looked back, republishing material from prior years.

Thanks to one prolific fan, we have a contemporaneous view of fandom’s favorites from this period. In January 1947, New Jersey’s Joseph Charles (“Joe”) Kennedy published the 1946-1947 Fantasy Review, the second in his series of yearbooks covering the field. Along with his own perspective, Kennedy presented the results of a survey that captured the opinions of 78 fans of the day. Caveats apply; e.g. the sample appears to be entirely from the United States and Canada — but the poll offers at least one window into sentiments at the time….

(6) HOLLYWOOD LOGS. Rick Wilber discusses the setting and inspiration for his story “The Goose” in his Asimov’s post “The Spruce Goose, the Hollywood Stars, and America’s Nazis” in the “From the Earth to the Stars” section.

…Hollywood was in its Golden Age in 1941 and so was baseball. As I wrote this novella, setting scenes at Gilmore Field and the Brown Derby and Long Beach Harbor for the first flight of the Spruce Goose was great fun, made all the more enjoyable for my fictional version being not so far from the truth.   

But there’s another part of this story that’s also not far from the truth. Underneath all the glamour and magic of Hollywood in those years there was a dark upwelling of fascism. There were plenty of people in America, and particularly in Southern California, who admired Hitler and the way he’d made Germany a world power again. Many, perhaps most, of these people also liked what he was doing to the Jews in Germany and thought that was something they should do to the Jews of Hollywood, especially  the Jewish studio heads and their many directors and producers and actors, who, in the fevered minds of these home-grown fascists, were destroying America with their evil money-making success trying to make propaganda films that warned of the Nazi menace and praised resistance to it. Good thing the German consul to Los Angeles, Georg Gyssling, made sure those films were changed to be less troublesome before they were released, else he’d ban them from distribution in Germany, Europe’s biggest market for films….

(7) OCTOTHORPE. “Nonsense Divide” is the title of Octothorpe podcast episode 63.

We have some locs, and then we dive into discussing the recent travails of FantasyCon, the recent books of The Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the recent venues of Conversation 2023. Art by Alison Scott.

(8) HIS FRIEND FLINT. Kevin J. Anderson paid tribute to the late Eric Flint on Facebook.

Took me a long time to do this.

It was all an act, as any of Eric’s closest friends knew: his gruff demeanor, his curmudgeonly comments, but it was nothing more than a thin disguise for the engaged, caring, and mentoring personality that was Mr. Eric Flint. This guy knew what he was talking about.

When I met Eric for the first time (or so I thought), he was already a legend. I sought him out at a Chicago Worldcon and introduced myself. He just smiled and said that we had already met—I was one of his instructors when he’d won the Writers of the Future Contest in 1993. He was one of those wide-eyed students sitting around the table (along with Sean Williams and Stoney Compton), as Rebecca Moesta and I lectured them on professionalism and productivity….

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

1952 [By Cat Eldridge.] No, this is definitely not genre or genre related in any way what-so-ever, but it’s a fascinating story none-the-less. So let’s look at the story of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap play. 

The Mousetrap opened in London’s West End in 1952 and ran continuously until 16 March 2020, when the stage performances had to be temporarily discontinued during the COVID-19 pandemic. It then re-opened on 17 May 2021. The longest-running ever West End show, it has by far the longest run of any play in the world, with its 27,500th performance taking place on the 18th September of 2018.

It is set in a guest house, Monkswell Manor, in the winter in the present day so the settings and costuming are always contemporary. it is a whodunit and the the play has a surprise ending, which the audience are asked not to reveal after leaving the theatre. Not that actually helps as many of course do discuss it.

Critics in general just plain didn’t like saying it was way too cliched and the characters were “too obvious by half”. 

Some four hundred actors have played the various roles down the decades. Most are relatively unknown.  sir Richard Attenborough was the original Detective Sergeant Trotter, and his wife, Sheila Sim, the first Mollie Ralston, owner of the Monkswell Manor guesthouse. 

The play began life as a short radio play written as a birthday present for Queen Mary, the consort of King George V. It was broadcast on 30 May 1947 as “Three Blind Mice”. 

The play is based on a short story which was Christie based off the radio play. Christie ordered that the story not be published as long as it ran as a play in the West End of London. The short story has still not been published within the U.K. but it was published in the States in the 1950 Three Blind Mice and Other Stories collection.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 4, 1923 Paul Schneider. He wrote scripts for the original Star TrekStar Trek: The Animated SeriesThe StarlostThe Six Million Dollar Man, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He’s best remembered for two episodes of the original Trek series: “Balance of Terror” and “The Squire of Gothos”. “Balance of Terror”, of course, introduced the Romulans. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 4, 1937 David Bedford. Composer who worked with Ursula K Le Guin to produce and score her Rigel 9 album which the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says is ‘a work that is musically pleasant although narratively underpowered.’ I’ve not heard it, so cannot say how accurate this opinion is. (Died 2011.)
  • Born August 4, 1942 Don S. Davis. He’s best-known for playing General Hammond on Stargate SG-1 and Major Garland Briggs on Twin Peaks. He had a small part in Beyond the Stars as Phil Clawson, and was in Hook as Dr. Fields. Neat factiod: on MacGyver for five years, he was the stunt double for Dana Elcar. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 4, 1944 Richard Belzer, 78. The Third Rock from The Sun series as himself, also the Species II film and a truly awful adaption of Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters, along with series work too in The X-FilesThe InvadersHuman Target, and a recurring role in the original Flash series to name a few of his genre roles.
  • Born August 4, 1950 Steve Senn, 72. Here because of his Spacebread duology, Spacebread and Born of Flame. Spacebread being a large white cat known throughout the galaxy as an adventuress and a rogue. He’s also written the comic novels, Ralph Fozbek and the Amazing Black Hole Patrol and Loonie Louie Meets the Space FungusSpacebread is available at the usual suspects for a mere ninety cents as is Born of Flame: A Space Story for the same price!
  • Born August 4, 1968 Daniel Dae Kim, 54. First genre role was in the NightMan series, other roles include the Brave New World TV film, the second Fantasy Island of three series, recurring roles on LostAngel and Crusade, the Babylon 5 spinoff Crusade series, Star Trek: Voyager, Charmed and voice work on Justice League Unlimited.
  • Born August 4, 1969 Fenella Woolgar, 53. Agatha Christie in “The Unicorn and The Wasp” episode of Doctor Who where she more than capably played off against David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. Her only other genre was as Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester. (See my essay on “The Unicorn and the Wasp” in item #9 here.)

(11) AMONG THE MISSING. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt explores who would have been in Batgirl if it had been finished, including J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon and the return of Michael Keaton as Batman. “’Batgirl’ has been canceled. Here’s what’s lost”.

…One of the most dramatic aspects of the Batgirl mythos is that she is the daughter of Gotham City police commissioner Jim Gordon, who in many comic iterations is not aware his daughter is a crime-fighting vigilante. “Batgirl” starred J.K. Simmons as Gordon, continuing a role he began in Zack Snyder’s polarizing Justice League movies. Simmons is best known for giving one of the all-time great superhero movie performances in Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man trilogy as Daily Bugle editor in chief J. Jonah Jameson. If Simmons is in your superhero movie, it’s a big deal.

Brendan Fraser, having already done stellar work for WB/DC in the HBO Max series “Doom Patrol,” was “Batgirl’s” villain, the pyromaniac Firefly. His attempt to add to an impressive array of DC movie villains over the years, from Jack Nicholson to Heath Ledger, now goes up in smoke.

But the biggest holy cow moment of all from “Batgirl” was going to bethe return of Keaton as Batman. There are few bigger deals in comic book culture than his answering a Bat-signal’scall in the 21st century. He is also set to resume the role in the upcoming “The Flash” movie starring Ezra Miller, scheduled for release in 2023,but given the recent controversies surrounding Miller, one must wonder whether we’ll ever see Keaton’s bat-comeback at all….

(12) RAISE YOUR BANNERS. Creation Entertainment and Warner Bros. will run the first Game of Thrones Official Fan Convention from December 9-11, 2022 at Los Angeles Convention Center. See guest list and other details at the link.

(13) COMPELLING COMMENTS. Joe Stech read and ranked all the Hugo Best Novel finalists at the Compelling Science Fiction Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from his praise for A Desolation Called Peace.

…I also thought Martine did a great job of conveying how military officers are required to make significant decisions without enough data, and how that results in a drastically different worldview than that of an academic.

And finally, the prose was wonderful. Little things like “You think these aliens are offensive; your word for offensive is ‘wasteful'”. Just so good. I highly, highly recommend this novel….

Stech also delivers many frank observations about some of the other finalists that don’t work so well for him.

(14) DEATH’S INTERN. Plague Unleashed by D. C. Gomez (published in 2018) is book two in the action-packed and humorous Urban Fantasy series The Intern Diaries. Isis Black has survived eight months as Death’s Intern. But not even all her training could have prepared her for the madness of zombies running loose in Texarkana.

A disgruntled employee, sibling rivalry, and zombie attacks. Who said Texarkana was boring?

I swear, I didn’t do it.

It wasn’t me.

I did not start the zombie-apocalypse in Texarkana.

But I’m planning to find out who did it, before the whole city is taken over by those mindless souls.

Too bad the one person that might have the answer is the one being Constantine despises above all else, Death’s Sister, Pestilence. How can one person be so absolutely despicable? Why does she need ten interns all calling her Mistress? She is evil.

Pestilence swears she didn’t cause the Plague. I’m blaming her anyway. Now all I need is more time and less five-year-olds trying to eat their teachers’ faces. Scratch that, what I really need is a new job.

Available from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

D. C. Gomez is an award-winning USA Today Bestselling Author, podcaster, motivational speaker, and coach. Born in the Dominican Republic, she grew up in Salem, Massachusetts. D. C. studied film and television at New York University. After college she joined the US Army, and proudly served for four years.  You can find out more about her at www.dcgomez-author.com.

(15) DOUBLE DUTCH BUS IN ANTIQUITY. “Footprints Discovery Suggests Ancient ‘Ghost Tracks’ May Cover the West” according to the New York Times.

Scientists have discovered ancient human footprints in Utah, traces, they say, of adults and children who walked barefoot along a shallow riverbed more than 12,000 years ago….

The 88 footprints are in several short trackways, some of which indicate that people may have simply been congregating in one area. “It doesn’t look like we just happened to find someone walking from point A to point B,” Dr. Duke said. They believe these footprints are of people who lived nearby. “Maybe collecting things. Maybe just enjoying themselves” in the shallow water, he added….

Dr. Urban compared the Utah footprints to the “ghost tracks” in White Sands, a term used for tracks that appear only under certain conditions, then disappear just as quickly. The fossil tracks in New Mexico, as much as 23,000 years old, were uncovered using ground-penetrating radar technology and contained a treasure trove of revelations: tracks of ancient humans and megafauna intersecting and interacting with each other. They showed proof that ancient humans walked in the footprints of enormous proboscideans and vice versa; that one human raced across the mud holding a child, put that child down at one point, picked that child back up and then rushed off to an unknown destination; that at least one giant ground sloth was followed by ancient humans, rose up on its hind legs and twirled as the humans surrounded it; that children played in puddles.

(16) WHO’S WATCHING WHAT. JustWatch says these were the Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies and TV Shows in the US in July.

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1Everything Everywhere All at OnceStranger Things
2Spider-Man: No Way HomeMoonhaven
3Jurassic World DominionSeverance
4Independence DayResident Evil
5Jurassic WorldFor All Mankind
6The ThingWestworld
7Jurassic World: Fallen KingdomThe Orville
8Crimes of the FutureThe Twilight Zone
9InterstellarPaper Girls
10Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of MadnessDoctor Who

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

(17) CATS WHO LOVE TURKEY. Kedi, a cat documentary filmed in Istanbul, was released in 2017. But maybe these clips are news to you, too!

A profile of an ancient city and its unique people, seen through the eyes of the most mysterious and beloved animal humans have ever known, the Cat.

(18) TESTED AGAIN. Adam Savage discusses why he loves The Matrix in this video which dropped this week. “Ask Adam Savage: What IS It About The Matrix?”

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

Pixel Scroll 7/20/22 The Whoopee Cushions Of Isher

Today I drove to Ventura to play Risk with my brother, one of his sons, and his grandson. (The son won, I finished third.) There are Scrolls that have been published even later than this one, if you can believe that!

(1) DON’T CALL IT QUIDDITCH ANYMORE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Jo Yurcaba, in the NBC News story  “Quidditch Changes Its Name To Distance Itself From Harry Potter Author J.K. Rowling” says that the International Quidditch Association is officially changing its name to “quadball” because they don’t like J.K. Rowling and because of IP issues with Warner Bros. over the name “quidditch.”

(2) TONOPAH WESTERCON MAKES THE NEWS. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] Westercon 74 got a nice write-up that will appear in this week’s edition of the Tonopah Times-Bonanza & Goldfield News, the town’s weekly newspaper: “How tiny Tonopah beat out Phoenix to host the Westercon sci-fi convention”. I had a nice conversation with a stringer for the newspaper during Westercon 74 and I showed her around the convention and explained what our convention was about and how we ended up holding it in such an unlikely place as Tonopah. It appears that “punching above our weight” and being selected over a more traditional bid and site like Phoenix impressed them.

The initial version published online had some misspellings and misidentified where next year’s Westercon will be, but we wrote to them pointing them out, and the editor made the corrections online right away and told us that the print edition going out tomorrow will have the correct version.

(3) RECORDED ON AN EARLIER THRONE. House of the Dragon’s official trailer dropped today. It’s based on George R.R. Martin’s book Fire & Blood,

(4) MEDIEVAL FANTASY. The Getty Museum in Los Angeles invites you to acquire a book that will let you “Take a Journey Through Imaginary Medieval Worlds with Fantasy of the Middle Ages”. It’s being published to accompany an exhibit that is running through September 11.

This abundantly illustrated book is an illuminating exploration of the impact of medieval imagery on three hundred years of visual culture. From the soaring castles of Sleeping Beauty to the bloody battles of Game of Thrones, from Middle-earth in The Lord of the Rings to mythical beasts in Dungeons & Dragons, and from Medieval Times to the Renaissance Faire, the Middle Ages have inspired artists, playwrights, filmmakers, gamers, and writers for centuries. Indeed, no other historical era has captured the imaginations of so many creators. This volume aims to uncover the many reasons why the Middle Ages have proven so applicable to a variety of modern moments from the eighteenth through the twenty-first century. These “medieval” worlds are often the perfect ground for exploring contemporary cultural concerns and anxieties, saying much more about the time and place in which they were created than they do about the actual conditions of the medieval period. With over 140 color illustrations, from sources ranging from thirteenth-century illuminated manuscripts to contemporary films and video games, and a preface by Game of Thrones costume designer Michele Clapton, The Fantasy of the Middle Ages will surprise and delight both enthusiasts and scholars. This title is published to accompany an exhibition on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center from June 21 to September 11, 2022.

(5) PIECES OF EIGHT. Octothorpe episode 62 is available to listeners: “Do You Want to Talk About Lesbians?”

John has superpowers, Alison is an alien in a human suit, and Liz likes cats. We’ve read all six Hugo Award finalists for Best Novel, and we chat about each of them before we discuss our consensus picks. Art by Sue Mason. Listen here!

(6) MEMORY LANE.  

1992 [By Cat Eldridge.] No, it didn’t premiere on this day, this is just a fan letter to one of my favorite series. Nightmare Cafe, all six episodes of it, ran from January to April 1992. I caught it on NBC and loved the premise of waterfront cafe that gives its staff missions.  The premise is Frank Nolan and Fay Peronivic find themselves in an all-night diner following a brush with death which was actually fatal and have been brought back to life by the diner. Frank and Fay are given the opportunity to fix what went wrong the first time, and after that works, they will stay on as the diner’s new staff.

So have the mysterious proprietor Blackie played by Robert Englund which we all know from Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street film franchise. Is Blackie generated by the Cafe? Possibly. 

The other two characters are as Frank Nolan as played by Jack Coleman and Fay Peronivic as played by Lindsay Frost. They weren’t really as well fleshed out as Blackie, but that’s not surprising.

The setting is great as it’s a diner on the waterfront. The cafe is sentient and has a sense of humor, at one point locking Blackie out until he apologies to the Cafe. And the Cafe picks their missions as I noted above. 

I thought it looked like a real diner and indeed it was built with a ceiling, unusual for television at the time where filming often was done from above, and each of the booths was given an authentic feel with its own table jukebox which had been rented from a private collector.

It only lasted six wonderful episodes. The network claims it was cancelled because of poor ratings but really is six episodes enough to say how any series is going to do? I think not. 

Nightmare Cafe is not available for streaming, nor is it available for purchase.

Usual caveat: please don’t link to online copies of the episodes as they are pirated. We will just remove your post. Really we will. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 20, 1924 Lola Albright. Though she’s best remembered best known for playing the sultry singer Edie Hart, the girlfriend of private eye Peter Gunn, she did do some genre performances. She’s Cathy Barrett, one of the leads in the Fifties film The Monolith Monsters, and television was her home in the Fifties and Sixties. She was on Tales of Tomorrow as Carol Williams in the “The Miraculous Serum” episode, Nancy Metcalfe on Rocket Squad in “The System” episode, repeated appearances on the various Alfred Hitchcock series, and even on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in the episodes released as the feature length film The Helicopter Spies. She was Azalea. (Died 2017.)
  • Born July 20, 1930 Sally Ann Howes. Best remembered as being Truly Scrumptious on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. She was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical for her performance in Brigadoon. And I’ll note her playing Anna Leonowens In The King & I as Ricardo Montalbán played the lead role as that’s genre as well. (Died 2021.)
  • Born July 20, 1931 Donald Moffitt. Author under the pseudonym of Paul Kenyon of the Baroness thriller series with such pulp titles as Sonic Slave, somewhat akin to Bond and Blaise. Great popcorn literature. Some SF, two in his Mechanical Skyseries, Crescent in the Sky and A Gathering of Stars, another two in his Genesis Quest series, Genesis Quest and Second Genesis, plus several one-offs. The usual suspects have pretty much have everything he did. (Died 2014.)
  • Born July 20, 1938 Diana Rigg, née Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg. Emma Peel of course in The Avengers beside Patrick Macnee as John Steed. Best pairing ever. Played Sonya Winter in The Assassination Bureau followed by being Contessa Teresa “Tracy” Draco di Vicenzo Bond on On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. By the Eighties, she’s doing lighter fare such as being Lady Holiday in The Great Muppet Caper and Miss Hardbroom in The Worst Witch, not to mention The Evil Queen, Snow White’s evil stepmother in Snow White. Next she would get a meaty role in Game of Thrones when she was Olenna Tyrell. Oh, and she showed up in Dr. Who during the Era of the Eleventh Doctor as as Mrs. Winifred Gillyflower in the “The Crimson Horror” episode. (Died 2020.)
  • Born July 20, 1949 Guy H. Lillian III, 73. Fanzine publisher notable for having been twice nominated for a Hugo Award as best fan writer and having been nominated twelve straight times without winning for the Hugo for best fanzine for his Challenger zine. As a well-known fan of Green Lantern, Lillian’s name was tuckerized for the title’s 1968 debut character Guy Gardner.
  • Born July 20, 1959 Martha Soukup, 63. The 1994 short film Override, directed by Danny Glover, was based on her short story “Over the Long Haul”. It was his directorial debut. She has two collections, Collections Rosemary’s Brain: And Other Tales of Wonder and The Arbitrary Placement of Walls, both published in the Nineties. She won a Nebula Award for Best Short Story for “A Defense of the Social Contracts”. “The Story So Far” by her is available as the download sample at the usual suspects  in Schimel’s Things Invisible to See anthology if you’d liked to see how she is as a writer. 
  • Born July 20, 1977 Penny Vital, 45. Uncredited role as Old Town Girl in Sin City, Sox in Zombie Strippers (which also stars Robert Englund and Jenna Jameson), Astrid in the very short lived Star Chicks series, Sabula in Monarch of the Moon and Annette DeFour in the Dreamkiller shooterwhich I think is genre.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Six Chix brings radical monster diet news.

(9) MARVEL’S SHADY MATH. [Item by Olav Rokne.] If you ever wondered if the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a faithful adaptation of the source material, they’re even going so far as to copy some of the comic book company’s shady underpayment of comic book creators. As documented in the Hollywood Reporter, they’re using disingenuous logic and weird math to weasel out of contracts just like iconic Marvel editor Stan Lee was famous for doing. “Marvel Movie Math: Comic Creators Claim It’s ‘Bait and Switch’” in The Hollywood Reporter.

In July 2021, Scarlett Johansson stunned Hollywood with a lawsuit accusing Disney of breach of contract for sending Black Widow day-and-date to Disney+, a move her lawyers said diminished its box office (and the star’s backend compensation). As that legal battle stretched into the summer, two other Black Widow stakeholders were quietly seeking what they believed they were owed. The comic book creators behind Yelena Belova, the character played by Florence Pugh, spent months in a back-and-forth with Marvel to receive payment for her appearance in the film.

Writer Devin Grayson and artist J.G. Jones believed they would take home $25,000 each for her appearance in Black Widow thanks to paperwork they signed outlining how much they would receive for films, TV shows, video games and action figures featuring Yelena. But when Grayson and Jones, who created Yelena in 1999, eventually received payment in November, that $25,000 dwindled to about $5,000 without explanation.

(10) GENTLEMEN, BE SEATED. David Grigg and Perry Middlemiss, in episode 77 of Two Chairs Talking, wander through “A Forest Of Hugo Awards”.

David and Perry complete their review of all of the fiction nominated for this year’s Hugo Awards by discussing the Best Novel category. Then Perry and Lucy Sussex investigate the controversy around the novel which was withdrawn from this year’s Miles Franklin Award.

(11) THE GRAVEYARD BOOK. “Disney is set to rescue another Neil Gaiman project from development hell” reports MSN.com.

Released in the autumn of 2008, The Graveyard Book has been a huge success for Gaiman. It won both the British Carnegie Medal and the American Newbery Medal – both of which recognized the year’s best children’s books – as well as the annual Hugo Award for Best Novel from the World Science Fiction Convention….

(12) PUPPETS BEHAVING BADLY? Puppet Up! – Uncensored will be doing shows in LA in August. More videos at this link.

Puppet Up! – Uncensored is a night of outrageous, off-the-cuff comedy…

…featuring 80 of the Miskreant puppets brought to life by a cast of world-class comedian puppeteers from The Jim Henson Company. Created by legendary puppeteer and award-winning director Brian Henson and directed by Patrick Bristow (Ellen, Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Whose Line Is It Anyway?), Puppet Up! – Uncensored is never the same show twice.

Based on suggestions from the audience, Patrick and his team of expert puppeteers create a hilarious two-shows-in-one: the improvised puppet action projected live on screens above the stage, with the puppeteers racing around below in full view of the audience. The show also features recreations of classic pieces originally created by Jim and Jane Henson, and Frank Oz that haven’t been seen by live audiences in decades.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Adam Savage’s Tested sends a reporter (not Adam Savage) to San Francisco’s Bricks By The Bay convention to interview someone who has made an Airbus A380 (the world’s largest airplane) out of Legos.)

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Daniel Dern, Kevin Standlee, 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 7/14/22 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 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.]