Greater Columbia Fantasy Costumers Guild To Dissolve

The Greater Columbia Fantasy Costumers Guild, owing a staggering attrition penalty after failing to meet the hotel room block commitment for Costume-Con 40 in 2022, has announced they will dissolve.

Jamie Peddicord, the group’s representative on the International Costumers’ Guild Board of Directors, made the announcement on Facebook.

GCFCG logo

I unfortunately have some difficult news to share. You might be aware that Greater Columbia Fantasy Costumers Guild (GCFCG) did not have the attendance we needed at Costume-Con 40 to meet the room block for the hotel, which is in large part because of complications due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One thing that worked against us is that the hotel penalized the convention heavily for not reaching a room block practically doubling the bill to $200,000. Since the con the guild has worked hard to come up with some means of paying the hotel to be able to continue the chapter and unfortunately we have exhausted our options.

The chapter board of directors, after looking at every option possible, had to come to the extremely difficult decision, due to the unmanageable debt, to dissolve the GCFCG. This is definitely not something we are doing lightly and to quote Sarah [Richardson] “It is painful and it hurts, but it has to be done.”

The GoFundMe appeal Richardson set up for the group last year only raised $1130. As she explained at the time:

…Many of our attendees, especially our international members, were unable to attend due to Covid travel restrictions were levied right before the convention. Because of this, over a fourth of our registered members (100+ people) were not able to attend. This led to our not meeting the room night obligations in our contract, and so we must pay a hefty “attrition” penalty….

Formed in 1982, the GCFCG was the founding chapter of the International Costumers’ Guild. Plans are being made for a new ICG chapter in Maryland.

Pixel Scroll 9/21/23 Dammit, Jetpack! I’m A Pixel Not A Scroll Deliverer

(1) BIGGER ON THE INSIDE. If you can’t get somebody to give you this as a gift over the coming holidays you’ll have to buy it yourself. Because how could you not own it? “Doctor Who: Limited Edition Complete New Who Blu-ray Set Is Up for Preorder” at IGN. There’s a hell of a lot of content in these boxes.

…The Complete New Who limited edition collection is now available to preorder at Amazon and will feature every single episode from the modern era of Doctor Who in wonderful physical Blu-ray format. At $174.99, this looks incredibly affordable vs. buying each series on its own.

It’s still a premium price, for sure, but you’re getting a lot of TV-show for that price, with the collection comprising every series from the revival in 2005, to the Flux episodes (Series 13) in 2021, and every Holiday episode or one-off special along the way as well….

(2) BOOKS AS RARE AS UNICORNS. Or maybe you’d rather spend your money on one of the three limited editions of The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle from Suntup Editions, announced today.

…Magical, beautiful beyond belief and completely alone, the unicorn has lived since before memory in a forest where death could touch nothing. Maidens who caught a glimpse of her glory were blessed by enchantment they would never forget. But outside her wondrous realm, dark whispers and rumors carried a message she could not ignore: “Unicorns are gone from the world.” Aided by a bumbling magician and an indomitable spinster, the unicorn embarks on a dangerous quest to learn the truth about what happened to her kind….

The signed limited edition of The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle is presented in three states: Classic, Numbered and Lettered. The edition measures 6” x 9” and features nine full color tipped in oil painting illustrations by Tom Kidd as well as a new exclusive introduction by the author. One of the nine illustrations is a presented as a fold-out appearing in all three states….

The Classic edition is limited to 750 copies, and is the only edition to include a dust jacket illustrated by Tom Kidd….

The Numbered edition of 250 copies is a Bradel binding with a cover design inspired by the famous Unicorn Tapestries of the late Middle Ages….

The Lettered edition is limited to 26 copies and is bound in full white goatskin with a unicorn and bull design by Laura Serra on the cover. … 

(3) 57 SECONDS. The idea might remind you of the Omega-13. Gizmodo has an exclusive “57 Seconds Clip: Josh Hutcherson Discovers Time Travel”. See the clip at the link.

…Presumably Franklin gets to the time jumps quick enough, considering the rest of the movie will see him team up with Burrell to use the ring on a mission of vengeance against a sinister pharmaceutical company that was responsible for the death of his sister. But for now, it’s nice to see someone react just like we would if we discovered time travel: with a lot of anxiety, confusion, and some mild cursing…

ScreenRant posted its own, different exclusive clip a couple days ago.

(4) THE LAW AND MISTER WILLINGHAM. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] “The Litigation Disaster Tourism Hour: Bill Willingham, DC, and the Fight Over Fables – no, really, WTF is going on?” on Twitch is a video of a law stream done by Mike Dunford. He’s an actual professional copyright lawyer (did his JD thesis on it) and he was asked to address Bill Willingham’s statement that he was placing Fables into the public domain as a means of striking back at DC comics who Willingham asserts has disrespected him. Mike D goes over Willingham’s statement and explains why it’s utter nonsense. Warning: Lots of colorful profanity, much of it directed at Willingham. TL:DR: Willingham is talking BS and Mike D’s only concern is that some third party might believe WIllingham’s statement, try to make a Fables creative product, and end up getting sued into oblivion by DC.

(5) YOU MUST LISTEN. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The British SF writer Nigel Kneale is possibly best known for creating the character Quatermass whose most famous adventure was the BBC TV series Quatermass and the Pit that gripped Britain back in 1958/9, so much so that it spawned a film version, the most successful of the four cinematic adaptations of the four BBC series (there were five Quatermass TV series in all).

Because much of Kneale’s work was decades before the internet (a good portion even before the widespread adoption of the transistor and microchip) some of his works have been lost. However, a trawl through his personal archive has uncovered the script for one of his lost radio play’s You Must Listen. This has now been re-made and premiered on BBC Radio 4 yesterday, September 20.

A solicitor’s office has a new phone line connected, but the staff keep hearing a woman’s voice on the phone. Engineer Frank Wilson is called to fix the problem, and gradually the disturbing story of the woman starts to emerge.

Originally broadcast in September 1952, You Must Listen was written by Nigel Kneale, one of the most admired English science-fiction writers of the last century. His Quatermass trilogy of science fiction serials continues to influence generations of admirers and filmmakers, among them Russell T Davies and John Carpenter.

But before The Quatermass Experiment established his television career, Kneale’s radio drama You Must Listen paved the way for what was to come. It explores many of the same themes that he later addressed in Quatermass, The Stone Tape and The Road, of the paranormal coming into collision with modern science.

No recording of the original version of You Must Listen is known to exist, but fortunately Kneale kept a copy of the script in his archives, and this new version has been recorded to mark the centenary of BBC Radio Drama.

You can listen to it on BBC Sounds here for the next month.

(6) AUCTION WILL ASSIST UKRANIAN BOOKSELLERS. The Guardian has details: “Rare book donations sought for auction to help Ukraine booksellers”.

Donations of rare books, artworks, manuscripts, photographs and ephemera are being sought for an auction aimed at raising funds for Ukrainian booksellers and publishers affected by the Russia-Ukraine war.

Authors are also being invited to donate signed first-edition copies of their books. The proceeds of the auction will go to Helping Ukrainian Books and Booksellers (Hubb), a group formed shortly after the war began, when thousands of publishing professionals suddenly found themselves out of work.

…Donations across “literature, poetry, history and science” are welcomed, said Avi Kovacevich, founder of Catalog Sale, a New York-based auction house that is facilitating the sale….

Hubb’s proceeds will be distributed in Ukraine by the Ukrainian Publishers and Booksellers Association. So far, Hubb has raised more than $30,000 (£24,257), which has been allocated to booksellers, publishers and libraries in Ukraine.

A large portion came from donations made by customers at Brookline Booksmith in Boston, the bookshop visited by the late Ukrainian novelist Victoria Amelina when she lived in the city for a year. Amelina died in July from injuries sustained in a Russian missile attack on a restaurant in eastern Ukraine.

The auction will take place online in mid-November….

The call for submissions is open until 10 October. Those interested in contributing to the sale are asked to send images of up to 10 items to [email protected].

(7) SF TERMS IN NEW YORK MAGAZINE NEWSLETTER. [Item by Michael A. Burstein.] Unfortunately, this isn’t available on the web, but New York Magazine is sending out a newsletter to subscribers who sign up called Queries, from copy editor Carl Rosen. (Information about the newsletter here.) 

The issue that came out yesterday, Queries Week 2, includes this question from a reader and an answer from Rosen that I thought would be of interest (and does anyone know if Rosen was/is a part of fandom?):

A pet peeve: The new widespread usage of the phrase “I’m excited for …” applied to events instead of people. I believe that we all used to say “I’m excited for you, the bride-to-be, getting married next month!” Or, “I’m so excited about your wedding!” Now everyone says instead “I’m so excited for your wedding!” As though an event needs empathy. When did this start and why is it allowed to continue? —Callie

It started in the locker room at my middle school and followed the misuse of best for favorite that stoked my dudgeon in playground discussions of filk songs and FIAWOL (sci-fi fan terms). At least excited people talk in ways that favor empathy, as you point out, so let’s extend our sympathies to them. But only in their quotations.

(8) PRONOUNS IN SPACE. Samantha Riedel says “A Gamer Tried to Remove Pronouns from ‘Starfield’ and It Turned Their Character Nonbinary” at Them.us.

No matter how many light years you travel, you just can’t outrun pronouns.

Starfield, Bethesda Game Studios’ new science fiction role-playing game, launched almost two weeks ago with its fair share of bugs and glitches — but for the internet’s angriest hobbyists, one thing above all else had ruined the game: a drop-down menu in character creation that allows players to choose their own woke pronouns, by which we mean you can choose whether to be referred to as “he,” “she,” or “they.” (Next you’ll be telling us they let you have blue hair — aw, shit!)

Anti-trans gamer bros went on a comments-section rampage, led by one YouTuber who briefly went viral for a shrieking rant about Bethesda “tak[ing] everything we love” and shoving it full of “fucking pronouns.” One person was so Large Mad about the pronoun selection option that they even modified the game’s PC version to remove the option from character creation entirely. There’s just one problem: the mod accidentally made the player’s character gender-neutral….

(9) DEBORAH K. JONES (1948-2023). “Deborah K. Jones 1948–2023: In Memoriam” at the International Costumers Guild website is a personal tribute by Eleanor Farrell.

I am very saddened to report that Deborah K. Jones, respected and admired by all in the costuming community for her exquisitely crafted and thoughtfully choreographed masquerade presentations, passed away peacefully on July 8, 2023, following a three year bout with glioblastoma. Debby had struggled with a number of medical issues over several decades, but always with a positive attitude and quiet fortitude, and never lost her sense of curiosity and creative drive. She is survived by her husband Terry and their two children, Rhiannon and Bryan….

Continues at the link.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 21, 1895 Norman Louis Knight. His most-remembered work is A Torrent of Faces, a novel co-written with James Blish and reprinted in the Ace Science Fiction Specials line. His only other writing is a handful of short fiction. Not surprisingly his short fiction isn’t available at the usual suspects but neither A Torrent of Faces. (Died 1972.)
  • Born September 21, 1912 Chuck JonesLooney Tunes and Merrie Melodies creator (think Bugs Bunny). His work won three Oscars, and the Academy also gave him an honorary one in 1996.  I’ve essayed him more that once here, so you know that I like him. What’s your favorite one of his? Though perhaps culturally suspect these days, I’m very fond of “Hillbilly Hare”. (Died 2002.)
  • Born September 21, 1935 Henry Gibson. I’m going confess upfront that I remember best him as a cast member of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. In regards to his genre work, he showed up on the My Favorite Martian series as Homer P. Gibson, he was in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as an uncredited dancer, in Bewitched twice, once as Napoleon Bonaparte, once as Tim O’ Shanter, he was the voice of Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web, in The Incredible Shrinking Woman as Dr. Eugene Nortz, and even in an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the “Profit and Lace” episode to be exact in which he was Nilva, a ferengi. (Died 2009.)
  • Born September 21, 1947 Stephen King, 76. I once saw him leaning up against a wall in Bangor outside his favorite breakfast spot nose deep in a paperback novel. That’s how his native city treated him. Favorite by him? I’m not fond of his novels but I love his novellas and shorter fiction, so Different SeasonsFour past Midnight and Skeleton Crew are my picks. 
  • Born September 21, 1950 Bill Murray, 73. Scrooged is my favorite film by him by a long shot followed by the first Ghostbusters film as I remain firmly not ambivalent about the other Ghostbusters films. I’m also fond of his voicing of Clive the Badger in Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • Born September 21, 1964 Andy Duncan, 59. If I were to start anywhere with him, it’d be with his very excellent short stories which fortunately were published in two World Fantasy Award-winning collections Beluthahatchie and Other Stories, and The Pottawatomie Giant and Other Stories, and another WFA nominee, An Agent of Utopia: New & Selected Stories.  I’ve read his novels, so what you recommend?  He has garnered some very impressive Awards — not only World Fantasy Awards for the two collections, but also for the “Wakulla Springs” novelette (co-authored with Ellen Klages), and a Nebula for the novelette “Close Encounters” (2013). He has three Hugo nominations, for his “Beluthahatchie” short story (1998), the novella “The Chief Designer” (2002), and “Wakulla Springs”
  • Born September 21, 1974 Dexter Palmer, 49. He wrote interesting novels, the first being The Dream of Perpetual Motion which is based off The Tempest, with steampunk, cyborgs and airships as well; the second being Version Control, a media-saturated twenty minutes into the future America complicated by time travel that keep changing everything. He wrote these and that was it. 
  • Born September 21, 1983 Cassandra Rose Clarke, 40. I strongly recommend The Witch Who Came in from the Cold, a serial fiction story she coauthored with Max Gladstone, Lindsay Smith, Ian Tregillis, and Michael Swanwick. It’s quite brilliant.  And The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, nominated for a Philip K. Dick Award, is equally brilliant.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) FINAL DOOM. TVLine brings news of “’Doom Patrol’ Final Season 4B Release Date, Trailer — Series Finale”.

Max on Thursday announced that Doom Patrol‘s in-progress final season will resume on Thursday, Oct. 12. Two episodes will drop on premiere day, followed by one new episode every week through Nov. 9.

In Season 4B, “the Doom Patrol meet old friends and foes as they race to defeat Immortus and get back their longevities,” according to the official logline. “Battling between saving the world and each other, the Doom Patrol are forced to face their deepest fears and decide if they are ready to let go of the past in order to take their future into their own hands — and away from the zombie butts.”…

(13) WHAT’S COMING TO THE COMIC-CON MUSEUM. “Comic-Con Museum Announces Fall 2023 Exhibits Featuring Popnology, Artist Colleen Doran, More”. The new exhibits debut October 4.

…This interactive exhibit looks back at how the pop culture of yesterday has influenced the technology of the future, exploring the fantasy and reality of driverless cars, robots, drones, 3D printers, and more.

Museum attendees will get to explore:

How We Play – The future of toys and games. Is virtual the new reality? Experience Oculus Rift and virtual projection games.

How We Connect – The revolution in communication technology, with concept drawings from the visual futurists who created the looks for Blade Runner.

How We Live and Work – Inventions and ideas that shape daily life, including interacting with robots.

How We Move – The future of transportation on Earth and beyond. Check out everything from a full-sized replica of the Back to the Future DMC DeLorean to the world’s first 3D-printed car.

…The first of which is “Colleen Doran Illustrates Neil Gaiman”, which features original artwork by the award-winning artist Colleen Doran. The new exhibit will focus on her work illustrating the stories of Neil Gaiman, including ChivalrySnowGlassApplesThe SandmanTroll BridgeAmerican GodsNorse Mythology, and the upcoming Good Omens.

The centerpiece of the exhibit will be 20 hand-painted pages for Doran and Gaiman’s Chivalry (Dark Horse Books), the Eisner-award winning graphic novel adaptation of Gaiman’s short story which features the story of Mrs. Whitaker, a British widow who finds the Holy Grail in a thrift shop and the knight who offers her priceless relics in exchange so he can win the Grail and end his quest…

(14) SUPER STYLING. DC Comics’ merch pages include “Batman & Superman Fashion Accessories” such as these “Batman Dark Knight Cufflinks”.

And this reference to some super villains: “Arkham Asylum Lapel Pin”.

(15) OCTOTHORPE. A belated Octothorpe episode 92 winging its way to you! Listen here: “Shouting From Inside the Room”.

John Coxon went to Reno, Alison Scott went to San Francisco, and Liz Batty went to Chicago. We spend some time discussing ConFrancisco, which celebrated its 30th anniversary recently, before also discussing Glasgow and Chengdu. We read out some excellent letters of comment and discuss some science fiction, too! The cover art is by our own Alison Scott.

(16) SAMPLE CASE. Nature tells how “Bringing space rocks back to Earth could answer some of life’s biggest questions”.

At 8.55 a.m. local time on 24 September, a small and precious cargo is due to touch down in Utah’s West Desert, ending a journey of more than two years and two billion kilometres. Released 100,000 kilometres from Earth by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, the sample capsule contains roughly 250 grams of material transported from the near-Earth asteroid 101955 Bennu — the largest ever asteroid sample to be brought back to Earth.

…The imminent return of the Bennu samples by OSIRIS-REx reminds me of what an exhilarating time this is and the profound possibilities of these precious materials.

(17) SINGLE EBELSKIVER TO ORBIT. [Item by Steven French.] Space-faring Swedes! (Should the cosmos be worried about a resurgence of Viking tendencies …?!!) “Hidden in the Arctic, Sweden is quietly winning Europe’s next big space race” reports the Guardian.

Once Europe’s first successful launch is completed, the base aims to build capacity for “rapid launching” by 2030, where satellites would be ready to be thrust into orbit within a fortnight of notification. “To us, it’s not a race to be first, it’s a race to be successful,” said Gustafsson, a former marathon canoeist with world championship medals to his name. But, he adds, “competition is good because it drives speed and cost effectiveness”. Make no mistake, the Swedes have their eyes on the stellar prize.

(18) SLOW BURN. See the “Close-up Ignition of a Rocket Engine in Slow Mo” courtesy of The Slow Mo Guys.

Gav plops down the high speed camera next to a rocket engine with 45,000lbs of thrust and the results are epic. Big thanks to Firefly for allowing us to film at their facility and BBC Click for letting us use their behind the scenes footage from the day.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/23/23 File The Pixels, Lest They Squeak Or Scroll

(1) ICG LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD. Congratulations to John and Christine O’Halloran, who were presented with this year’s International Costumers Guild Lifetime Achievement Award at Costume-Con 39 on April 22.

(2) AUDIOPYROMATRONICS. Maleficent Dragon caught fire during last night’s performance of Fantasmic! at Disneyland.

(3) FUNNY BUSINESS DATABASE. “Fictional Brands Archive” is just what it says it is.

Fictional Brands Archive is a collection of many fictional brands found in films, series and video games. It is structured according to the principles of brand identity design and aims to provide a comprehensive view of each fictional brand, framing them in their own fictional context and documenting their use and execution in the source work.

This website was developed as part of a Master’s thesis in Communication Design at Politecnico di Milano, supervised by Professor Francesco E. Guida, titled Fictional Brand Design.

The Research section contains the theoretical foundations upon which the project is based: it is a summary of several chapters of the thesis and is intended to serve as an informative compendium for anyone interested in learning more about fictional branding.

For example:

ACME
Name: ACME
Featured in: Looney Toons
Sector: Private
Category: Manufacturing
Medium: Series, Animated
Genre: Comedy
Year: 1920

The Acme corporation spans across several TV series, cartoons and films. The company is perhaps best-known for its appearance in the Looney Tunes universe. Its name is derived from the Greek word “acm”, which means peak or prime, but also refers to a common practice, in the era of the yellow pages that were written alphabetically, of naming companies with the initial “A” to make it appear at the top of lists. Acme seems to be a conglomerate which makes incredibly dangerous products that are known to fail at the worst of times.

Acme doesn’t have a consistent branding system, it’s logo appears in a multitude of serif, sans serif and stencil typefaces.

(4) ADVENTURES IN BOOKSELLING. In addition to everything else, Don Blyly has to combat the elements to keep Uncle Hugo’s & Uncle Edgar’s Bookstores open as he explained in his latest “How’s Business?” newsletter.

…People have been asking about the flood I wrote about last time.  When this building was built in the 1920s, Minneapolis had a single sewer system for both sanitary sewage and storm sewage, and the roof of the building was slanted so that all the rain water flowed to the center of the roof and then down through a large pipe to the sewer pipe in the basement.  With the single sewer system, every major summer rain storm effectively “flushed” the entire sewer system, resulting in untreated sewage flowing into the Mississippi and into some basements.  About 40-45 years ago Minneapolis created a second sewer system to handle only storm sewage (primarily dumping the rain water into the city lakes instead of taking it to the sanitary sewage treatment plant), and all buildings were forced to divert the rain water from their roofs away from

the sanitary sewage system.  For this building, all the water still collected in the center of the roof, but then went through a cast iron pipe around 6 inches in diameter across the ceiling of the first floor, through the side of the building, and dumped into the alley to make it to the storm sewer system on the street.  The part of the pipe outside the building is wrapped with electrical thermal tape, and then wrapped in fiber glass insulation, which is then wrapped with an aluminum-foil like coating.  This system had kept the outside pipe from freezing through all of the below zero days all winter long, but the insulation blanket had slipped down a couple of inches over the winter, so that the water no longer dripped directly onto the alley–it instead sprayed onto the bottom of the fiber glass, froze over night in the fiber glass, and then the ice started creeping up the pipe.    At the time the flood took place, there was a column of ice reaching down to the alley and reaching up the pipe for an unknown distance.  I knock away the column of ice, and nothing happened.  I then got a hammer and chisel and started breaking off pieces of ice within the pipe.  Eventually, water started dripping from the bottom of the pipe.  After more chiseling, all the ice came out of the pipe and water started gushing into the alley and stopped coming through the ceiling.  I removed the fiber glass that had slipped down over the end of the pipe, and we’ve had no water problems since.    Of course, there have been insurance problems.    When I reported the flood, I was promised that I would be contacted by an adjuster within 2 days.  Two weeks later I called again, talked to somebody who tried to claim that the water pouring through the ceiling had to have been caused by a sewer backup in the basement.    An on-site adjuster came out a few days later, did a good examination of the situation, took lots of photos of the floor, the section where part of the ceiling fell, and the water-damaged books, and agreed with me that the sewer in the basement had nothing to do with the ice dam in the alley.  A few weeks later I received a check for part of the estimated cost of repairing the floor, but nothing for repairing the ceiling.  The insurance company also wants a title-by-title inventory of every book that got wet, and I haven’t had time to do that yet….

(5) KEEP ON TREKKIN’. The Star Trek: Strange New Worlds second season teaser trailer is online.

The crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise boldly returns for new adventures full of new life and new civilizations, and, of course, exploring strange new worlds.

(6) TODAY’S THOUGHT EXPERIMENT. CBR.com asks “What if Treebeard Found Sauron’s Ring in Lord of the Rings?”

… After Sauron lost his Ring, it came into contact with a number of powerful figures. Gandalf, Elrond and Galadriel could have claimed the One Ring as their own, and each of those hypothetical situations would have ended badly. Their natural power — combined with the power of the One Ring — may not have been enough to conquer Sauron, but it would have doomed Middle-earth. But what would happen if Treebeard had happened upon the One Ring? Would it have corrupted him too, or would he have been oblivious to its effects like the powerful Tom Bombadil?…

(7) CELEBRITY BRUSH. “Students dressed as Gandalf on pub crawl meet Burnley’s Ian McKellen”. The video can be viewed at the Lancashire Telegraph link.

A hilarious video has emerged of the moment students on a Lord of the Rings pub crawl bumped into an East Lancashire actor who starred in the real movies.

22-year-old student, Ben Coyles, was dressed as Lord of the Rings character Gandalf for his birthday pub crawl in Bristol, on April 13.

Little did he know that he would end up bumping into the Burnley-born actor who played Gandalf in the movies, Sir Ian McKellen.

In the video, which has been viewed more than 3.5million times on video sharing platform TikTok, Ben can be seen posing for a picture and chatting with the legendary actor.

Scarlet Learmonth, who posted the video and was on the pub crawl, said: “It was such a shock but also a beautiful and magical moment….

(8) COSTUMERS MEMORIAL VIDEO. The Costuming Community Memorial 2023 video was shown this weekend at Costume-Con 39.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1976[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

This is the Beginning of Bob Tucker’s “The Survey” that he wrote for  Science Fiction Five-Yearly in their sixth issue which was in 1976.

Wilson “Bob” Tucker was a member of First Fandom, coined the term space opera, and lent his name to the practice of tuckerization.   

He won the Heicon ’70 Best Fan Writer Hugo and the 1954 Best Fan Writer Retro Hugo, and was nominated for the 1951 Best Fan Writer Retro Hugo and the 1946 Best Fan Writer Retro Hugo.

And now for your considerable amusement is the Beginning of “The Survey”…

I have a weakness for fan history, and somebody made a joke about rubber chicken. It may have been Robert Bloch because he has this weakness for chickens. Preferably chicks in showers.

I wondered if it were true that all fan convention banquets served rubber chicken? For many years the allegations were rife, the references many, the jokes extensile. Were fan banquets all rubber chicken banquets? The question itself was enough to light a mental fire, enough to cause me to spring from my rocking chair and dash quickly to the bookcase to consult Harry Warner. (The elapsed time from rocking-chair-spring to bookshelf arrival was thirty-five minutes, but then this is a wide room and I did become entangled between feet and beard on the first upward spring.

I was astonished and disappointed at what I did not find in Warner’s All Our Yesterdays. I realized at once the omissions were the fault of Ed Wood and George Price, who labored many hours extracting the index which appears at the back of the book, but nevertheless Warner must share in the guilt, if only by association. The index does not have an entry “Rubber Chicken.” Nor does it have a “Chicken, rubber.” There isn’t so much as a “Banquet” entry. I know very well the fans who attended conventions in the 1940s ate something, because I was among them and I remember eating — but here, in supposedly living history, was no mention of that fact.

Still unbelieving, I turned to the text itself and discovered that Harry had mentioned worldcon banquets but did not often reproduce the menus. Of Chicago, 1940, he said: “They got free meeting rooms (in the hotel) in return for staging a banquet at which they needed to guarantee only fifty dinners at one dollar each.” And later: “The banquet that night had food in quantities approximating the cost of the meal.” Nothing about chicken, rubber.

I was at that banquet but creeping senility has long since robbed me of the memory of what was served. (However, I doubt that it was hamburgers or hotdogs.)

Of the 1941 Denver worldcon, Warner reported that bread was the banquet entree: “There were forty fans on hand for the banquet. After the breaking of bread, there were many informal talks.” It should be noted that again, Wood and Price failed to include an entry for “bread” in the index, and I’m not aware of any stale jokes about rubber bread in fandom — not even from Bloch.

But now, at last, a partial success! The Pacificon, 1946, served chicken. Yes, they did. Read Warner on page 262: “More than ninety fans and pros ate thin soup and halves of chicken, and mulled a lot of statistics that Don Day gave …” Note that. The first admission of chicken appears in history, together with a convention menu: thin soup, halved chicken, mulled statistics. No doubt a satisfactory meal for the $2.50 fee charged in that year. (Also please note the alarming rate of inflation: the official banquet had rocketed from only one dollar per person in 1940, to two and one-half in 1946. Remember this when someone blames Nixon for inflationary pressures.) I shouldn’t have to state at this point that Wood and Price are again remiss. The index carries no mention of soup, chicken, statistics….

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 23, 1879 Talbot Mundy. English-born, but based for most of his life in the United States, he also wrote under the pseudonym of Walter Galt. Best known as the author of King of the Khyber Rifles which is not really genre and the Jimgrim series which is genre, much of his work was published in pulp magazines. (Died 1940.)
  • Born April 23, 1923 Avram Davidson. Equally at home writing mystery, fantasy or science fiction, he wrote two splendid Ellery Queen mysteries, And on the Eighth Day and The Fourth Side of the Triangle. I’m fond of his Vergil Magus series if only for the names of the novels, like The Phoenix and the Mirror or, The Enigmatic Speculum. There was a 2020 audiobook edition of The Avram Davidson Treasury: A Tribute Collection edited by Robert Silverberg and Grania Davis, first published in 1998, with afterwords by Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison, and intros by many other sff writers. (Died 1993.)
  • Born April 23, 1935 Tom Doherty, 88. Once publisher of Ace Books who left that in 1980 to found Tor Books. Tor became a subsidiary of St. Martin’s Press in 1987; it became part of the Holtzbrinck group, now part of Macmillan in the U.S. Doherty was awarded a World Fantasy Award in the Lifetime Achievement category at the 2005 World Fantasy Convention for his contributions to the fantasy field.
  • Born April 23, 1946 Blair Brown, 77. Emily Jessup In Altered States (based on the Paddy Chayefsky novel) was her first genre role. Later roles include Nina Sharp, the executive director of Massive Dynamic, on Fringe, an amazing role indeed, and Elizabeth Collins Stoddard in the 2004 television remake of Dark Shadows. Her last genre role I think was Kate Durning on Elementary.
  • Born April 23, 1955 Paul J. McAuley, 68. Four Hundred Billion Stars, his first novel, won the Philip K. Dick Award, Fairyland which I adore won an Arthur C. Clarke Award and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel. His short story, “The Choice”, won a Sturgeon Award, and “Pasquale’s Angel” won a Sideways Award. He was Toastmaster along Kim Newman at Interaction.
  • Born April 23, 1962 John Hannah, 61. Here for being Jonathan Carnahan in The MummyThe Mummy Returns, and there was apparently a third film as well though let’s not talk about it please, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. In a more meaty role, he was the title characters in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and of late he’s been Holden Radcliffe on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series. Though not even remotely genre adjacent, he was Rebus in the BBC adaptation of the Ian Rankin series. 
  • Born April 23, 1973 Naomi Kritzer, 50. I saw that her 2015 short story “Cat Pictures Please” had been a Hugo Award winner at MidAmeriCon II, so I went and purchased Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories off Apple Books so I could read it. It’s since been expanded continued in two more novels, Catfishing on CatNet, which won the Lodestar Award, and the Chaos on Catnet. DisCon III saw her nominated for two Hugos, one for her “Monster” novelette and one for her most excellent “Little Free Library” short story. She also picked up a nomination at Dublin 2019 for her “The Thing About Ghost Stories” novelette. 
  • Born April 23, 1985 Angel Locsin, 38. She starred as the superhero in the epic 170-episode Darna series on her country’s television. Her character looks suspiciously like Wonder Woman. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Close to Home shows The Wizard of Oz gang examining one character’s Ancestry.com results.

(12) A CRITIC’S CHOICE. Abigail Nussbaum shared “The 2023 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot” at Asking the Wrong Questions. Makes a good reading list.

The deadline for nominating work for the 2023 Hugo awards is a week away. If you’re eligible to nominate, you should have received an email from the Chengdu Worldcon (if not, you can query them here). This year’s nominations are likely to be unusual due to the high number of Chinese Worldcon members—it’s entirely possible, and even likely, that the ballot will include Chinese-language work that hasn’t received an English translation, which will render the voting phase somewhat tricky. Still, it’s not as if I’m used to seeing my taste reflected perfectly by this award even in years when there is no language barrier, so I see no reason not to continue as I’ve always done, nominating the things I thought were excellent last year, and calling attention to them in the hopes that others, too, find them worthy. 

In compiling my nominations this year, I made great use of two tremendous resources, the Locus Recommended Reading List and the Hugo Spreadsheet of Doom. I also appreciated all the authors and critics who have posted their own award recommendations on their blogs and on twitter. The conversation about awards eligibility posts was settled long ago on the “pro” side, and I have no problem with people who try to promote their own work. But I always pay more attention to (and get more utility out of) the people who recommend the things they loved and would like to see nominated as well as the things they’ve published….

(13) VIDEO’S FOREVER HOME. Polygon shows that “Anime Blu-rays and DvDs are more popular than ever”. “Blu-rays are great collectibles — and you never have to worry about your favorites disappearing from streaming”

… Calculating anime home video sales is complicated. The market for it in Japan has been declining almost yearly for the past decade — coinciding with the worldwide move to digital platforms — but specific releases, like the first Demon Slayer film, can inspire greater interest. That movie has both the highest box office in Japanese history, and sold over a million copies on Blu-ray and DVD within the first three days of its release. To put that kind of success in perspective, only three American blockbuster films in 2022 sold more than a million copies throughout the entire year.

But the hunger for anime has only grown in the U.S., to the extent that in August 2022, Sony acquired Right Stuf Anime, a distributor established in 1987 that expanded into selling anime, live-action releases, toys, manga, and all manner of collectibles. (Sony also owns Crunchyroll, an anime streaming service.) In an era where anime home video was far from ubiquitous — one might find an ad in the back of a magazine here, a vendor with a massive collection at a convention there, and a smattering of opportunities among message boards — Right Stuf’s mission was to give the anime consumer “everything in one place” and a trusted system of delivering it to them. It was a fruitful operation. At this point, Right Stuf says it’s the largest online seller of anime in North America….

(14) HEADED FOR TOUCHDOWN. “A daring company is about to try landing on the moon. You can watch it.” Mashable tells how.

Other space ventures and spacefaring nations have tried and failed before.

Undeterred by previous flops, a Japanese company will attempt to land a robotic spacecraft on the moon. If it succeeds, ispace could claim the first commercial lunar landing in history.

The company will broadcast the event live at 11:40 a.m. ET April 25, 2023, giving viewers a peek behind the curtains at mission control in Tokyo as engineers oversee the challenging feat. Lunar landings are rare in and of themselves, let alone opportunities for the public to watch them unfold in real time.

The mission, known as HAKUTO-R(opens in a new tab), is one of several commercial lunar missions happening soon. Others in the pipeline are an outgrowth of NASA‘s Commercial Lunar Payload Services Program, established in 2018 to recruit the private sector(opens in a new tab) to help deliver cargo to the moon. ispace(opens in a new tab), a startup specializing in landing vehicles, couldn’t directly participate in the NASA program because it isn’t an American company, but it is collaborating on a contract led by Draper Technologies based in Massachusetts to land on the moon in 2025….

(15) CLEANING UP AFTER. Here is more about the local impact of the other day’s Starship explosion. “SpaceX’s Starship went down in a blaze of glory—and left a mess for locals who warned about the impact” at Yahoo!

…It resulted in an explosion that caused residents near the launch site in South Texas to notice ashy particulates falling from the sky and vibrations in their classrooms and homes.

The city of Port Isabel said there is no immediate concern for people’s health and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk declared the fireworks show a victory, saying SpaceX “learned a lot for the next test launch in a few months.”

But for the community near the site, it will take time to clean up from this one—a nearby road was covered in debris and temporarily closed and teams dedicated to protecting the bays and estuaries of the Texas coastal bend are busy surveying the damage. It’s an area where shorebirds have had their habitat disrupted from prototypes that exploded after previous test launches, and at least two species have stopped or reduced nesting in recent years, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

It’s these concerns that drew residents to release a statement before the launch, blasting SpaceX and elected officials for declining to meet about Starship and often cutting off their access to the beach.

“Whenever Elon Musk and his accomplices, the Cameron County Commissioners and Texas General Land Office, close Boca Chica beach for his pet project SpaceX, they destroy our native life ways.” wrote Juan B. Mancias, Carrizo Comecrudo Tribal Chairman.

The local community’s clash with SpaceX to protect and access their beach and wildlife represents a striking contrast to the company’s grand vision for the future. SpaceX wants to make humans a multi-planetary society, and Musk has shared his thoughts that getting humans to Mars and the “greater Solar System” could protect us if large-scale devastation happened like an asteroid hitting Earth….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. New and improved! Someone has figured out “How Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania Should Have Ended”.

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

International Costumers’ Guild Awards 2022

The recipients of the International Costumers’ Guild’s 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award and President’s Award were announced at Costume-Con 40 this weekend by ICG President Kevin Roche.

2022 ICG LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Leslie L. Johnston has been honored with the International Costumers’ Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing a body of achievement in the costuming art and service to the costuming community. Her contributions are praised in the citation.

Leslie has been an active participant in costuming communities for over four decades. After a childhood where her mother lovingly made her costumes for plays and holidays, Leslie eventually started making her own. In the 1970’s, she found a costume-making community in the SCA, and by the early 1980’s she was creating original costumes on her own and in collaboration with other costumers. Those who have gotten to know her have a friend with whom they look forward to collaborating.

The scope of Leslie’s costuming work is broad, including horror and the macabre, the elegance of Regency and Victorian, world folklore, old movies, and many others. Accolades include major awards internationally and regionally at historical and sci-fi/fantasy competitions where she enters in the open division. Her research methods and documentation are exemplary, and she is always willing to give talks and provide mentoring about how to produce great documentation. She also authors costuming-related articles, is actively involved in assisting with convention programming and exhibits, and serves as ICG Vice President.

Leslie’s qualities as a wise and kind human being, a force for order and consensus, and her extensive costuming experience have led to her being requested for masquerade judging panels, from Worldcons to small local specialty cons. World-class masquerade judging is a special skill set, requiring almost superhuman patience, collaborative spirit, and love for people who compete at every level of experience. Leslie excels at it. Her experience, calm, organization, and consensus-driven approach help the judging process work as intended.

Most recently Leslie has been instrumental in the development of the new Pat and Peggy Kennedy Memorial Archives site. Leslie applied her skills and experience as a professional archivist to the task, with an eye to making them accessible, expandable, and maintainable far into the future. She was the major researcher for choosing new software. She customized the software to best serve the needs of the Archives, has done the yeoman’s share of uploading photos to the new software, and has created exhibits to enhance the visitor’s experience. She has also been researching new storage options for the Archives to accommodate its rapidly expanding oeuvre.

Leslie’s decades-long participation in the costuming community, her demonstrated costuming skills, her willingness to mentor and share what she knows, and her many and continuing services to the costuming community and to the ICG make her an ideal recipient of the 2022 ICG Lifetime Achievement Award.

2022 ICG PRESIDENT’S AWARD

Betsy L. Marks has received the 2022 ICG President’s Award for her work restoring the Costume-Con archive. President Kevin Roche said in the citation:

The history of Costume-Con and the International Costumers’ Guild are inextricably linked to each other; it is, after all, at the “dead dog” party after Costume-Con 3 where a bunch of us from the West Coast decided to form what became the Costumers’ Guild West, who along with the Greater Columbia Fantasy Costumers’ Guild and the Sick Pups of Monmouth County banded together to create this thing we call the ICG.

It is because of that tight relationship that we hold our Annual Meeting at Costume-Con, and announce our major awards to the public this weekend. Tonight it is my privilege to present the ICG President’s Award.

Our art form is shockingly ephemeral, which is why the ICG Archives are so important, but so, too, are the records of this event, of Costume-Con itself. I know, because I had a hand myself in rebuilding the costume-con.org archives some many years ago.

Those archives were recently threatened by the same software obsolescence that shut down the ICG archive site. Fortunately, thanks to the Herculean efforts of one person, the costume-con visual archive is now not just restored, but expanded and searchable for both images and historical data.

For that work, as well as her tireless efforts for the ICG and the costuming community in general, I am recognizing Betsy Marks with the 2022 ICG President’s Award.

Besides her work on the Archives, Betsy was part of the team who assisted Karen Schnaubelt in updating the Costume-Con Constitution. She was an active member of the team who developed the new expanded ICG Guidelines, and last year was instrumental in writing the Standing Rules amendments that brought some of our practices in line with current corporate codes.

It is my privilege to recognize her hard work on behalf of Costume-Con, the International Costumers’ Guild, and the fan costume community in general, and I ask you to join me in applauding her endeavors.

2021 International Costumers’ Guild Lifetime Achievement Award

Philip and Kathleen Gust at Costume-Con 33. Photo by Kenneth T. Warren

Philip and Kathleen Gust are the recipients of the 2021 International Costumers’ Guild Lifetime Achievement Award. ICG President Kevin Roche shared the announcement on April 24. The award is the highest honor that the International Costumers’ Guild’s presents to costumers, recognizing a body of achievement in the costuming art and service to the costuming community.

The ICG Lifetime Achievement Award citation highlights their achievements:

Phil and Kathe Gust made a splash in the San Francisco Bay Area costuming community 18 years ago, with Lord of the Rings costumes featuring King Theoden of Rohan and Eowyn of Rohan. After winning a “Rising Star” award from the GBACG (Greater Bay Area Costumer’s Guild), a tie-award for a best-of workmanship title in the Novice category, and the winner of the Best Fantasy Costume in the Masquerade at BayCon (a large regional convention) in 2006, their rising star was certainly the one to watch!

Both singly and as a couple, Phil and Kathe descended upon the costuming community with glitter, knowledge, and a desire to serve. They have each taught classes at multiple conventions, and for the annual GBACG Costume Academy, on a variety of topics. They have run masquerades at the regional level, and judged at both regional and international competitions.

They have also ably served as officers in multiple roles within the ICG.

The first recipient of the award, in 1990, was Marjii Ellers. Sally Fink won it last year.

Pixel Scroll 3/31/21 Run Back To The Shelter Of Her Pixel’s Scrolling Helper

(1) A DAY FOR VISIBILITY. On International Transgender Day of Visibility, one fan talks about the way Star Trek fandom helped her feel safe and seen as her full self: “Coming Out to My Star Trek Family”.

In October 2012, I stepped into a room full of people who’d known me for years, but most of them were about to truly meet me for the first time. I was scared out of my mind. At a science-fiction convention in Chicago, they were busy turning a hotel suite into a tiny nightclub, and I had arrived to step up my DJ gear, a now-familiar ritual. Only this time, I was wearing a full face of makeup and a dress… and an announcement needed to be made. I had new pronouns. And a new name. This was not some ultra-liberal organization of party throwers, either. It’s an organization known as Barfleet, whose only real ethos is “throw the best, safest convention parties”. And I was about to their first out, visibly transgender member….

(2) COSTUMER PHOTO HISTORY RETURNS. The International Costumers Gallery, the largest collection of costume photos in the world, includes photos from science fiction and fantasy conventions, masquerade competitions, fashion shows, historical dress competitions and other events and displays. The Gallery is returning online, featuring new software and new features at a new location: ICG Pat and Peggy Kennedy Memorial Archives.

The International Costumers’ Guild (ICG), founded in 1985, is an affiliation of hobbyist and professional costumers from around the world, dedicated to the promotion and education of costuming as an art form in all its aspects, and to fostering local educational and social costume events…

(3) BARDING PARTY. James Davis Nicoll acquaints Tor.com readers with “Five SFF Works That Put Bards Center Stage”.

If there is one lesson Tolkien intended us to take from The Lord of the Rings, it is that NPC (non-player-character) bards are extraordinarily dangerous beings. Not because they might kill you (although some might) but because by their nature, they are adept at upstaging other characters. It’s probably only due to the merciful brevity of his appearance on stage that Tom Bombadil didn’t manage to transform LOTR into Tom Bombadil Saves Middle-Earth with the Power of Verse (also there were some hobbits).

First on the list is Manly Wade Wellman’s collection John the Balladeer. (If you don’t mess around with Jim, you certainly don’t mess around with John.)

(4) AFTERMATH. Following yesterday’s announcement by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society – “BSFS Shares Outcome of Investigation Into Harassment Complaints” — Keith R.A. DeCandido has posted “An open letter to Balticon, which I am not attending”.

I’m afraid that I must decline the invitation to be an author guest/program participant at Balticon 55, and have no plans to return to the convention any time soon.  

The convention’s handling of the multiple harassment complaints against convention chair Eric Gasior is disappointing. All the more so because my wife Wrenn Simms and I were witnesses to the incident spelled out in one of those complaints. We were at Arisia 2016, and we observed Eric’s behavior toward one of the complainants. At the time, we thought it was an isolated incident due to a particular set of circumstances. We have since learned that there were at least three other complaints against Eric of a similar nature to that of the one we were privy to. Our names were passed on to the investigator that Balticon hired to look into the allegations, but we were never contacted. Now the investigation is said to be complete and finished, even though Wrenn and I were not questioned, despite being witnesses to Eric’s harassment in January 2016.  

This is massively unacceptable and I cannot in good conscience support the con. Balticon is a favorite convention of ours, and I am disappointed to not be attending, but to attend now would be to give my tacit support to a convention committee that has proven to not care about the safety of its attendees.  

(5) WELL, HARDLY EVERS. “HBO drops full trailer for new sci-fi period drama The Nevers”Ars Technica sets the frame:

An inexplicable event confers supernatural powers on a select group of people in Victorian London, who must battle prejudice and those who would exploit their abilities in The Nevers, a new original series coming to HBO next month.

(6) HE CAN DIG IT. [Item by rcade.] Not many actors would do as much preparation for a role as Alexander Skarsgard did to portray geologist Nathan Lind in the movie Godzilla vs. Kong, if this Uproxx interview is to be believed: “Alexander Skarsgard Knows You Don’t Care About Him In Godzilla Vs Kong”.

Alexander Skarsgard: Even though I play a very peripheral character and no one cares, I still take my craft seriously. And that means a decade of studying geology and living, breathing the character. Just to give the audience that sublime performance that I give in the movie.

Uproxx: When you’re giving the technical jargon during the movie, viewers can rest assured that you know exactly what you’re talking about, because you studied for so long with trained geologists.

Skarsgard: Exactly. And they can see that in my eyes, that I’m not lying. I’m not pretending. I’m not acting. I’m not playing a geologist. I am a geologist.

(7) ATTACK THE MOCK. The Mitchells vs.The Machines comes to Netflix on April 30.

A quirky, dysfunctional family’s road trip is upended when they find themselves in the middle of the robot apocalypse and suddenly become humanity’s unlikeliest last hope!

(8) ST-PIERRE OBIT. Montreal club member Sylvain St-Pierre died March 25 of Covid reports MonSFFA’s Cathy Palmer-Lister: “Sad news: Sylvain St-Pierre”.

I am so sorry to have to inform you that Sylvain St-Pierre and his mom have both passed away from Covid. His brother, Marc, is in quarantine as a precautionary measure.

We are in shock. Sylvain was one of the rocks on which this club was founded, and a best friend to so many of us in fandom. 

More details here. Tributes are being posted on St-Pierre’s Facebook page.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • March 31, 1987 — On this day in 1987, the Max Headroom series premiered on ABC. This is the America version of Max Headroom as the British version was Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future which is essentially identical to the initial origin episode of the American series.  Matt Frewer as Max Headroom and Edison Carter, Amanda Pays as Theora Jones and  W. Morgan Sheppard as Blank Reg would reprise their characters from the British film. It ran from April of 1985 to March of 1987.  A spin-off series, a talk show featuring Max was recorded, The Original Max Talking Headroom Show, this time in New York. It aired on Cinemax between the two seasons and lasted six episodes. And yes, Max had a lucrative gig shilling Coca Cola and other products here and in the United Kingdom. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born March 31, 1844 Andrew Lang. To say that he is best known as a collector of folk and fairy tales is a bit of understatement. He collected enough tales that twenty five volumes of Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books for children was published between 1889 and 1913. That’s 798 stories. If you’re interested in seeing these stories, you can find them here. (Died 1912.) (CE)
  • Born March 31, 1918 – Beth Krush.  Illustrator, mostly with husband Joe Krush, who survived her.  Both did Mary Norton’s Borrowers books.  BK did Eudora Welty’s only children’s book The Shoe Bird and sixteen with Sally Scott.   Here is The Borrowers Afield.  Here is A Spell Is Cast.  Here is Countdown at 37 Pinecrest Drive.  (Died 2009) [JH]
  • Born March 31, 1932 John Jakes, 89. Author of a number of genre series including the Brak the Barbarian series. The novels seem to fix-ups from works published in such venues as FantasticDark Gate and Dragonard are his other two series. As  Robert Hart Davis, he wrote a number of The Man From UNCLE novellas that were published in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine. The magazine apparently only existed from 1966 to 1968. (CE) 
  • Born March 31, 1934 Richard Chamberlain, 87. His first dive into our end of reality was in The Three Musketeers as Aramis, a role he reprised in The Return of Three Musketeers. (I consider all Musketeer films to be genre.) Some of you being cantankerous may argue it was actually when he played the title character in Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold which he did some years later. He listed as voicing the Jack Kirby created character Highfather on the superb Justice League: Gods and Monsters but that was but a few lines of dialogue I believe. He was in the Blackbeard series as Governor Charles Eden, and series wise has done the usual one-offs on such shows as Alfred Hitchcock PresentsBoris Karloff’s ThrillerChuck and Twin Peaks. (CE)
  • Born March 31, 1936 Marge Piercy, 85. Author of He, She and It which garnered the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction novel. Of course she also wrote Woman on the Edge of Time doomed to be called a “classic of utopian speculative sf”. Woman on the Edge of Time was nominated for a Tiptree Award. (CE)
  • Born March 31, 1955 – Janice Gelb, age 66.  Co-founded the Israel SF Ass’n and the Filk Foundation.  Ran the Hugo Ceremony at L.A.con IV the 64th Worldcon, has run Program Ops at eight.  Fan Guest of Honor at Concave 22, Baycon 2003; Capricon 31 (with husband Stephen Boucher).  Big Heart (our highest service award; with Boucher).  DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) delegate; her campaignzine is here; trip report not available electronically so far as I know: try E-mail to either of the DUFF Administrators as given here; or send paper mail to me, 236 S. Coronado St., No. 409, Los Angeles, CA 90057, U.S.A., and we’ll arrange something.  [JH]
  • Born March 31, 1957 – David Bratman, age 64.  Librarian.  Classical-music reviewer.  Tolkien scholar; a dozen entries in the Tolkien Encyclopedia; edited Mythprint; edits & contributes to Tolkien Studies and Mythlore (about the Inklings).  See here.  Administered the Hugo Awards at three Worldcons, the Retrospective Hugos at one.  Although he once said “We liked dancing ‘The Black Nag’ to annoy John Hertz”, my answer to the question of the day is yes.  [JH]
  • Born March 31, 1957 – Gary Louie.  Hard-working, much-missed Los Angeles fan.  Evans-Freehafer Award (service to LASFS, L.A. Science Fantasy Society).  Labored on nearly every Worldcon for years.  When he arrived in L.A. fandom the mah jongg fad had begun (for which I bear some responsibility), and as he said, being Chinese he mixed right in.  (Died 1999) [JH]
  • Born March 31, 1960 Ian McDonald, 61. I see looking him up for this Birthday note that one of my favorite novels by him, Desolation Road, was his very first one. Ares Express which was the sort of sequel was just as splendid. Now the Chaga saga was, errr, weird. The Everness saga was fun but ultimately shallow. Strongly recommend both Devish House and River of Gods. Luna series just didn’t impress me me, so other opinions are sought on it. (CE)
  • Born March 31, 1971 Ewan McGregor, 50. Nightwatch, a horror film, with him as lead Martin Bell is his first true genre film.  That was followed by The Phantom Menace with him as Obi-Wan Kenobi, a role repeated in Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens. His latest role of interest, well to me if to nobody else, is as Christopher Robin in the film of the same name. (CE) 
  • Born March 31, 1982 – Alaya Dawn Johnson, age 39.  Seven novels, a dozen shorter stories.  Won a Nebula and an Andre Norton.  Interviewed in FantasyLightspeed. Guest of Honor at WisCon 39, ConFusion 42 (not its real name, which was “Life, the Universe, and ConFusion”).  [JH]
  • Born March 31, 2010 – João Paulo Guerra Barrera, age 11.  Two short stories in Portuguese and English.  Won the NASA Ames Space Settlement Contest.  And that ain’t the half of it.  [JH]

(11) MANGA NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the March 22 Financial Times, Leo Lewis reports that Japan’s Financial Services Agency has “turned to a scatological cartoon character to teach children about money.”  The character, “Unko Doriru” (“poo exercises”) was introduced by publisher  Bunkyosha in 2017 to help children deal with all the memorization that it takes to learn to read and write Japanese.

“In the original books,” Lewis writes, “each new character is introduced with an excrement-based sentence by Unko-sensei, a smartly-dressed, bespectacled and mustachioed pedagogue whose head is a stylized stool.  The author’s bet on the inexhaustible powers of faeces to entertain children has seen the series expand to mathematics, science, and other usually soberly-taught realms of Japanese education.”

The Financial Services Agency’s use of the character is an online multiple-choice quiz, “asking children how they would respond to various financial realities, such as having insufficient funds (to buy video games), sudden seasonal gluts of capital (gift money) and the appropriate evaluation of rendered services (washing up.)  In each case, one of the available answers involves faeces.”

(12) YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHO’S WRITTEN A BOOK. That’s what the email said. Even when it revealed that the subject was newly-released novel The Eighth Key by Laura Weyr I still needed the next clue – that Laura Weyr is the nom de plume of Janice Marcus, of the Galactic Journey Marcuses. Here’s the pitch for her new book:

The magic is gone…or is it?

Lucian is a jaded flirt and professional bard who knows all the old songs about sorcery. When he meets Corwin, a shy mage who can still use magic despite the Drought, Lucian finds his desire growing with each passing day—not just for answers, but for Corwin himself.

Sparks fly as they find themselves passionately entangled in adventure and each other. But learning the true origin of the Drought and the Key to ending it comes at a price that their bond may not survive…

How do you get it? Here are three options: Amazon; Bookshop.org; eBook from publisher Journey Press.

(13) A PEEK INTO THE FUTURE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] 60 Minutes had a segment about Boston Dynamics.  They went behind the scenes and had many interesting shots of company headquarters and some robots we’ve never seen.  The most interesting fact in Anderson Cooper’s piece is that the humanoid robot that does all the leaping is only five feet tall. “Robots of the future at Boston Dynamics”.

(14) GETTING PHYSICAL. But are they going anywhere? “New Warp Drive Model Requires No ‘Exotic Matter,’ Scientists Say We Can Build It” – maybe you’ll understand The Debrief’s explanation.  

…“If you read any publications that claim we have figured out how to break the speed of light, they are mistaken,” said one of the researchers, Gianni Martire, in an email to The Debrief. “We [instead] show that a class of subluminal, spherically symmetric warp drive spacetimes, can be constructed based on the physical principles known to humanity today.”

… So, with the team assembled, Martire described how they first looked at the classical warp designs before trying to tackle the problem themselves. “[Harold] White’s paper makes heavy use of extra non-physical dimensions,” he said, “which, as you know, is incompatible with the current understanding of general relativity. Thus, the work is not usable in our reality. No warp metric was

Hence, why they were all unphysical.”

With this limitation in mind, Martire and his co-author, Lund University Astrophysicist Alexey Bobrick, set out to design an entirely new type of Warp drive, a design they term a physical warp drive. “Our paper covers all the existing warp drives and all their possible modifications (i.e., Alcubierre),” Martire said in the email, “but the APL metric stands on its own, hence why it’s the first physical class of warp.”

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers:  Zack Snyder’s Justice League” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies note that the Snyder Cut is 2 1/2 times longer than Casablanca, which gives him plenty of room for many, many slo-mo scenes (including a slo-mo shot of Lois Lane’s coffee cup) and scenes where “the grey CGI villain reports in excruciating detail to his grey CGI boss and his boss’s grey CGI executive assistant.”

[Thanks to N., Lloyd Penney, John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Pierre and Sandy Pettinger, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Dann, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]

Pixel Scroll 8/3/20 Undeserved Loss And Inaccessible Healing

(1) MAKE ROOM, MAKE ROOM! The 2020 Hugo voting report, which begins with a short list of works that got enough votes to be finalists but were disqualified or withdrawn by the author, showed that Ann Leckie declined her nomination for The Raven Tower. In a blog entry today she explained why: “The Hugos and The Raven Tower”.

…I’ve had a taste of that cookie quite a few times now. It is, let me tell you, one delicious cookie. And when the email came telling me that The Raven Tower was a finalist for the Hugo Award, I thought of the books in that longlist, how often I’d had a bite of this cookie, and how many of the amazing books from 2019 were debuts, and/or were books that, when I’d read them, my first thought was, Oh, this should be on the Hugo ballot. More books than there were spots, for sure. And I realized that I could do something about that, at least in a small way.

And so I withdrew The Raven Tower from consideration.

Let me be perfectly clear–I was overwhelmed at the thought that so many readers felt The Raven Tower deserved to be a Hugo finalist. I have been treasuring that for months. And as I’m sure we all know, these have been months during which such treasures have become extremely important.

I also want to be clear that this is not any sort of permanent decision on my part. I make no promises about withdrawing anything in the future. If I am ever so fortunate as to have a work reach the shortlist again, and I see what seems to me a good reason to withdraw, I will. If I don’t, I won’t. It is, after all, one of the sweetest, most delicious cookies around!

(2) A WEE JOKE. From the August issue of Ansible:

The Retro Hugo Statistics reveal that a single Fan Writer nomination for 1944 work (it took three to get on the final ballot and no one had more than six) went to some chap called David Langford. Ho ho, very satirical….

(3) WHO BENEFITS. Much truth in this.

(4) NOW PLAYING. “The Ballad of Ursula K. Le Guin.”

(5) ALWAYS TO CALL IT RESEARCH. “John Boyne accidentally includes Zelda video game monsters in novel”The Guardian has his confession.

John Boyne, the award-winning author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, has acknowledged that a cursory Google led to him accidentally including monsters from the popular video game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in his new novel.

Boyne’s A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom opens in AD1 and ends 2,000 years later, following a narrator and his family. In one section, the narrator sets out to poison Attila the Hun, using ingredients including an “Octorok eyeball” and “the tail of the red lizalfos and four Hylian shrooms”….

Dana Schwartz rounded up some graphics to support the story. Thread starts here.

(6) HARD TO KEEP UP. David Gerrold concludes a Facebook post about sff awards with this sentiment:

…Personally, I am delighted that we are suffering from the challenges of success instead of the problems of failure. The level of mediocrity has risen and the level of excellence has truly surpassed the past. So the challenges in front of any author must look insurmountable, even to the long-time practitioners.

As difficult as all this may seem to anyone who writes, it’s still a good thing. Because it’s no longer about the awards — in fact, it never was about the awards. It has always been about the quality of the work.

That there is so much good work being created these days is a victory for the field, and especially for the readers.

I just wish I had enough time to keep up with it all.

(7) ONE MORE TAKE. Robert J. Sawyer has his own issue with George R.R. Martin’s choices while hosting the Hugo ceremony.

…But let me elucidate one category of Martin’s microaggressions that cut across the entire spectrum of humanity by subtly excluding anyone not part of his old guard: his use of nicknames for writers and editors whose prominence was in days gone by, signaling that no matter who you might be, if you weren’t part of the inner circle back in the day, you’ll never really be a true fan (or pro) now.

In Martin’s very, very long commentaries during yesterday’s Hugo Awards ceremony, Robert Silverberg was “Silverbob,” George Alec Effinger was “Piglet,” and the editor Robert A.W. Lowndes was “Doc.” I think Martin also called Isaac Asimov “Ike” during his trips down memory lane, although I’m not going to sift through the hour and forty-five minutes of his rambling again (fully half of the total running time of the Hugo ceremony) to be sure.

You see? Even someone like me — 40 years a selling author in this field, and now 60 years of age — was never part of that ancient, early prodom. I’ve known Robert Silverberg since 1989 and knew Asimov and Effinger, too, but was never close enough to call them by cutesy nicknames.

And if someone like me feels left out after all these decades in the field, imagine how the newer writers, or the writers whose literary background wasn’t the American SF magazines, felt during the Hugo ceremony.

… Yes, it’s a small thing — that’s why it’s called a MICROaggression — and it’s usually done without consciously intending to exclude or put down someone else, but microaggressions ARE pervasive and exclusionary in effect. We’d all do well to guard against committing them.

(8) JOIN THE BOB & DOUG SHOW. Back in their home theater after taking their show on a bit of a road trip, NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will discuss their flight to the International Space Station and back aboard the inaugural crewed voyage of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon craft. This press release — “NASA Astronauts to Discuss Historic SpaceX Crew Dragon Test Flight” – tells how to access their news conference.

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will discuss their recently completed SpaceX Demo-2 test flight mission to the International Space Station during a news conference at 4:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 4.

The news conference from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will be broadcast live on NASA Television and on the agency’s website.

This will be a virtual event with no media present, due to the safety restrictions related to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Reporters who wish to participate by telephone must call Johnson’s newsroom at 281-483-5111 to RSVP no later than 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4. Those following the briefing on social media may ask questions using the hashtag #AskNASA.

(9) DRESSING UP PITTCON. The International Costumers Guild did a roundup of contemporary photos and reports about a Worldcon sixty years ago: “Convention Costuming History – 1960”.

The 1960 Worldcon, known as Pittcon (Pittsburgh, PA) promoted their masquerade as a “Costume Cabaret”. Following the show, there would be a glee club performance, a “minstrel show of science fiction flavor”, and then a dance (music provided by a “hi-fi”, rather than a live band like some past years)…

(10) ROBERTA POURNELLE OBIT. Roberta Pournelle, widow of Jerry, passed away last night at the age of 85. Her son Frank Pournelle announced services are planned in the coming week. The Chaos Manor page on Facebook saluted her:

An educator for 30 years at the Dorothy Kirby Center in Commerce, Mother of 4, Grandmother, a friend to many; she made order out of Chaos.

Born Roberta Jane Isdell, she married Jerry Pournelle in 1959. ISFDB shows she wrote a nonfiction piece for Analog in 1988, “High-Tech for the Little Red Schoolhouse.”

(11) SUSAN ELLISON OBIT. HarlanEllisonBooks.com announced today that Susan Ellison (1960-2020) died over the weekend at home, the “Lost Aztec Temple of Mars.” No other details were given. Susan and Harlan married in 1986 and were together 32 years until his death in  2018.

(12) BUARD OBIT. It was recently learned that Patricia Anne Buard died in May 2017 reports the International Costumers Guild. Photos of her masquerade entries at the link.

Patricia Anne Buard. Patricia was a person of several interests, including theater and theology. In addition to having created works of both original fantasy and historical recreations, her short story “Devil’s Advocate” was published in the Marion Zimmer Bradley anthology book “Red Sun of Darkover”, released in 1987.

(13) IVEY OBIT. David Ivey succumbed to his battle with cancer on July 24. The International Costumers Guild describes one of his memorable entries.

David was a Michigan area costumer. His best known creations were Krakatoa, the Volcano God, and St. Helen. Krakatoa appeared at several venues, including Worldcon: Chicon V, in 1991 (photo below). It was quite innovative for its time, featuring several special effects.

(14) ENGLISH OBIT. “Bill English: Computer mouse co-creator dies at 91” – BBC pays tribute.

The co-creator of the computer mouse, William English, has died aged 91.

The engineer and inventor was born in 1929 in Kentucky and studied electrical engineering at university before joining the US Navy.

He built the first mouse in 1963, using an idea put forward by his colleague Doug Engelbart while the pair were working on early computing.

…Bill English became the first person to use a mouse when he built the prototype at Mr Engelbart’s research project at the Stanford Research Institute.

The idea was Mr Engelbart’s, which he described as only being “brief notes” – but the creation was down to Bill English.

His first version was a wooden block with a single button – and underneath, two rolling wheels at 90-degree angles that would record vertical and sideways movement.

“We were working on text editing – the goal was a device that would be able to select characters and words,” Mr English told the Computer History Museum in 1999.

(15) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • August 3, 1951 — The Tales of Tomorrow series premiered with “Verdict From Space”. The series was performed and broadcast live on ABC from 1951 to 1953. There were eighty-five episodes, each twenty-five minutes in length. The series came about through the efforts of Theodore Sturgeon and Mort Abrahams, together with the membership of the Science Fiction League of America. The League who included Theodore Sturgeon, Anthony Boucher, and Isaac Asimov made their work available to the producers.  The screenplay was written by Sturgeon and is based on his own story “The Sky Was Full of Ships” first published in the June 1947 issue of Thrilling Wonder. You can watch it here.

(16) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born August 3, 1841 – Juliana Ewing.  Thirty short stories for us; a score of books with our and other stories, plays, book-length fiction, for children.  Roger G. Lancelyn Green (1918-1987), one of the Inklings, who suggested the name Chronicles of Narnia to C.S. Lewis, called JE’s the first outstanding child-novels in English literature.  Kipling said he knew her novels Jan of the Windmill and Six to Sixteen almost by heart; of Six “here was a history of real people and real things.”  From her novelette “The Brownies” (1865) the Baden-Powells got the idea and name for junior Girl Guides.  Here is a Caldecott cover for Jackanapes (1884).  (Died 1885) [JH]
  • Born August 3, 1904 Clifford Simak. I was trying to remember the first novel by him I read. I’m reasonably sure it was Way Station though it could’ve been City which just won a well-deserved Retro Hugo. I’m fond of Cemetery World and A Choice of Gods as well. By the way I’m puzzled by the Horror Writers Association making him one of their three inaugural winners of the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement. What of his is truly horror? (Died 1988.) (CE)
  • Born August 3, 1920 P. D. James. Author of The Children of Men which she wrote to answer the question “If there were no future, how would we behave?” Made into a film which she said she really liked despite it being substantially different than her novel. (Died 2014.) (CE)
  • Born August 3, 1922 – Ron Turner.  Some sources say his birthday is the 22nd.  Twelve dozen covers (I’d say “one gross”, but look what trouble that made for Bilbo Baggins), more if you count posthumous uses.  Tit-Bits SF ComicsSpace AceRick RandomStingrayThe DaleksThunderbirds.  Here is Operation Venus.  Here is a John Russell Fearn collection.  Here is Rick Random and the Terror from Spacehere is its opening interior.  (Died 1998) [JH]
  • Born August 3, 1926 —  John Gardner. Author of more Bond novels that one would think possible. He’d write fourteen original James Bond novels, more than Fleming wrote, and the novelized versions of two Bond films. He also dip into the Sherlock universe, writing three novels around the character of Professor Moriarty. Rights to film them were optioned but never developed. (Died 2007.) (CE)
  • Born August 3, 1940 Martin Sheen, 80. So that was who that was! On Babylon 5: The River of Souls, there’s a Soul Hunter but the film originally didn’t credit an actor who turns out to be Sheen. Amazing performance. He’s been in a number of other genre roles but that’s the ones I like most. Though I will single him out for voicing Arthur Square in Flatland: The Movie. (CE)
  • Born August 3, 1946 – John DeChancie, 74.  Best known for nine Castle Perilous and three Skyway books, he’s published ten besides, two dozen shorter stories; if you know he has written as Raul Cabeza de Vaca, and entitled a poem “The Refusal to Mourn the Rejection, by Printed Form, of a Hopeful Writer in Pittsburgh, February, 1992”, you’ll know he can read, and smile, and has been with SF a while.  Some fans become pros; some pros become fans, as he did; some are both, as he has been.  Plays piano, likes the American Songbook and Rachmaninoff; paints, including a portrait of Rachmaninoff.  See this, which includes portraits of Marty Cantor and Chip Hitchcock.  [JH]
  • Born August 3, 1950 John Landis, 70. He’d make this if all he’d done was An American Werewolf in London, but he was also Director / Producer / Writer of the Twilight Zone movie. And wrote Clue which was the best Tim Curry role ever. And Executive Produced one of the best SF comedies ever, Amazon Women on the Moon. (CE)
  • Born August 3, 1953 – Margaret Bechard, 67.  Reed College woman (as an Antioch boy, I think of these things).  Children’s fiction, translated into French, Korean, Swedish.  Two novels, one shorter story for us; Star Hatchling about first contact won a Golden Duck.  Six other novels.  [JH]
  • Born August 3, 1971 – Yoshitoshi ABe, 49.  Graphic artist.  Usually writes his name in Roman letters, with capitalized for the sake of early works he signed “AB”.  Known to sketch with just his finger and an iPad.  Thirty self-published books; artbooks; covers; half a dozen each of animé and manga.  Here is his cover for Sakurazaka’s All You Need Is Kill (A. Smith tr. 2009; hello, Pete Young).  Here is Walking the Dragon from YA’s artbook Gaisokyu (“Palace”; 2007).  [JH]
  • Born August 3, 1972 Brigid Brannagh, 48. Also credited as Brigid Brannagh, Brigid Brannah, Brigid Brannaugh, Brigid Walsh, and Brigid Conley Walsh. Need an Irish redheaded colleen in a genre role? Well she apparently would do. She shows up in Kindred: The EmbraceAmerican GothicSliders, Enterprise (as a bartender), RoarTouched by an AngelCharmedEarly EditionAngel (as Virginia Bryce in a recurring role), GrimmSupernatural and currently on Runaways in the main role of Stacey Yorkes. (CE)
  • Born August 3, 1979 – Evangeline Lilly, 41.  Actress, author.  She was in LostReal Steel, two Peter Jackson hobbit films, three Marvel superhero films – to misquote Winston Churchill, who said a Wasp couldn’t sting thrice?  So far two Squickerwonker short stories for children have appeared, one translated into Portuguese.  [JH]

(17) A TOTAL SURPRISE. After Hastings author Steven H Silver tells Lawrence Shoen about eating reindeer steak in Stockholm as part of “Eating Authors: Steven H Silver”. However, the cuisine is overshadowed in this great anecdote about something that happened at dinner —

SHS: Honestly, there are a lot of things I don’t remember about my most memorable meal because it sticks out not because of the food or the company or even the location, but rather because of an incident that occurred during the meal….

(18) KAIJU KIA. Does ScreenRant have enough fingers and toes to answer the question? “How Many Times Godzilla Has Died (All Movies)”. (And I wonder if it’s more or less than the number of times John Wayne got killed?)

He’s starred in over 30 movies but how many of those has Godzilla actually died in? The first movie is a somber monster movie with the title creature is intended to be a walking metaphor for nuclear weapons. The movie’s huge success led to a franchise that is still running nearly 70 years later, with the monster appearing in sequels, reboots and remakes, in addition to comics, novels and video games where he’s battled against all sorts of creative monsters.

(19) MAD, I SAY. Could it be that Dave Freer’s message in “F-IW” at Mad Genius Club is “When you’re in your time machine on the way back to kill baby Hitler, don’t forget to stop off in the Sixties and take over traditional publishing”?

…Both of these [old] books had a huge effect on my young mind. Yes, I can see the Woke and modern left rubbing their hands (and other parts, never mentioned) in glee, saying ‘Yes! We were RIGHT that we had to capture publishing and exclude any badthink. Just think if we’d had the dominance we have now over traditional publishing, back in 1960, even evil people like Freer would have been won (Hi: I’m Dave the Divider. If it wasn’t for me, so we are told by the self-elected authorities,  sf/fantasy would be united and singing Kumbaya. See what a fate I saved you from!).

(20) CANON FIRED. Meg Elison says you’re excused from reading the SFF “canon.”

Thread starts here. A couple of excerpts —

(21) APOLLO POLITICS. At The Space Review, Dwayne Day discusses an interesting radio program about space history. “Sending Washington to the Moon: an interview with Richard Paul”.

The radio show “Washington Goes to the Moon” two decades ago shed new light on the political battles around the Apollo program, and provided a wealth of material for later historians. Dwayne Day interviews the man who wrote and produced the show.

(22) FANTASY NETWORK FREEBIES. Some of us encountered The Fantasy Network for the first time watching CoNZealand events. They also have lots of free content. For example, the 2017 movie Magellan:

When NASA picks up three signals of extraterrestrial origin coming from within our own solar system, the space agency expedites a mission to investigate the sources. As Earth’s lone emissary, they send Commander Roger Nelson, the test pilot for an experimental spacecraft call the Magellan, assisted by an onboard A.I. named Ferdinand.

(23) MORE, PLEASE. James Davis Nicoll is sure these are “Five Stories That Make You Wish For a Sequel”. But rest easy – none of them involve the megaselling series that have made sff news this week.

Many books function perfectly as standalones; many series end well. Plots are resolved, characters are given their reward or punishment. But there are also books that seem to cry out for a sequel and series that are never finished, leaving readers frustrated. We want more!

Alexis Gilliland’s Rosinante series is on this list —

… I discovered the series is funnier than one would expect from plotlines that feature banking crises, union negotiations, and the sudden collapse of the dominant government in North America. There were just three books in the series—Revolution from Rosinante (1981), Long Shot for Rosinante (1981), The Pirates of Rosinante (1982)—but the setting was expansive and interesting enough that more stories were possible, perhaps elsewhere in Gilliland’s Solar System. Thus far, none have materialized.

(24) DIY. “New ‘Quar-Horror’ Films Show Staying At Home Is Scary Too”.

It’s no exaggeration to say this year feels like a horror movie. And now, a few filmmakers are making it official.

All over YouTube, you can find inventive homemade horror shorts taking the pandemic as inspiration. (They come from Brazil, from Canada and from, well, Funny or Die.) And a new movie Host, filmed over twelve weeks in quarantine and entirely on Zoom, debuted on the horror channel Shudder last week.

Call it “quar-horror.”

Among the most chilling of the YouTube offerings is Stay At Home, part horror movie and part PSA from a filmmaker in New Orleans.

“I literally just grabbed a box, and I set up the camera on a tripod and gave myself a scenario,” says Kenneth Brown, a former Uber driver turned horror auteur. “And the story started to build and build and build.”

Brown went to film school, and you can tell. Based on the myth of Pandora’s Box and the evening news, Stay At Home is elegantly lit and crafted. As of this writing, it’s racked up nearly 200,000 views on YouTube.

Part of what makes Stay At Home so effective — and heartfelt — is the insistent drone of news anchors discussing the mounting carnage. “That’s everything I need to say as far as reaching African Americans, which is the population most vulnerable to this virus,” says Brown, who is Black himself.

But escapism is also the point, say Nathan Crooker and James Gannon. Their upcoming quar-horror, called Isolation, just wrapped principal photography. The two produced the film; Crooker is also its director. Isolation is an anthology; nine interconnected shorts by different directors who filmed their movies using only resources immediately available to them.

(25) PIECEMEAL. According to BBC, “Other mammals lose out in panda conservation drive”.

Saving the giant panda is one of the big success stories of conservation.

Decades of efforts to create protected habitat for the iconic mammal has pulled it back from the brink of extinction.

But, according to a new study, while many other animals in the same landscape have benefited from this conservation work, some have lost out.

Leopards, snow leopards, wolves and Asian wild dogs have almost disappeared from the majority of protected areas.

Driven to near extinction by logging, poaching and disease, their loss could lead to “major shifts, even collapse, in ecosystems”, said researchers in China.

Without the likes of leopards and wolves, deer and livestock can roam unchecked, causing damage to natural habitats, with knock-on effects for other wildlife, including pandas themselves.

By protecting the panda’s forests, conservationists believed they would be protecting not only the charismatic black-and-white animal, but the many other species roaming the same habitat.

But while that has worked for some other wildlife, the efforts do not appear to have worked for large carnivores, such as the leopard and wolf.

A team of researchers now says a broader – holistic – approach is needed to manage the ecosystem in which the panda lives – one that ensures key species don’t lose out.

(26) SHORT LEAPS FORWARD. In the Washington Post, Bethonie Butler interviews Catherine Hardwicke, whose new Quibi series “Don’t Look Deeper” is set “15 minutes into the future” and has a teenage girl as a protagonist who may or may not be an android.  Hardwicke discusses what it was like to direct a story delivered in 10-minute chunks and why star Helena Howard is a “strong and vulnerable” actor Hardwicke enjoyed working with. “Can Catherine Hardwicke get you to watch Quibi?”

Why Quibi? Were the shorter episodes appealing?

Actually, the script was written for short episodes. It was written in chapters. I thought that was quite interesting when I first read the script. I was like, “Wow, that’s fascinating,” because the short format does tie in — it weaves in directly with what’s going on with [Aisha’s] memory. We tell the story in a non-linear way as her memories are being erased and restored. The technology that we’re exploring, showing it on a new technological platform with the vertical and horizontal, it all seemed to kind of work together in an interesting way. So this leap of faith — that [Quibi founder Jeffrey] Katzenberg said let’s try this format — I thought that was an interesting challenge to dive into it and see what happens.

(27) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Dragonball Evolution Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains that when the hero of the film has to collect seven dragonballs to make a wish that dragonballs are as powerful as “blowing out candles on a birthday cake.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Chip Hitchcock, Cliff, Madame Hardy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

2020 ICG Lifetime
Achievement Award

Sally Fink as “Dawn,’ Costume-Con 29 photo by Ken Warren.

Sally Fink is the recipient of the 2020 International Costumers’ Guild Lifetime Achievement Award. ICG President pro tem Kevin Roche shared the announcement on March 14. The award is the highest honor the International Costumers’ Guild pays to costumers, and recognizes a body of achievement in the costuming art and service to the costuming community.

A very active costumer in the Seventies and Eighties, she is still participating today. From 2004 to 2011, one of her fantasy costumes, “The Iron Orchid,” was on exhibit in the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle, Washington. She has put on more than a dozen one-woman costume and art-to-wear shows at local venues in western Pennsylvania, raising the public’s awareness of the hobby.

The ICG’s citation page adds these comments:

Photographs from many conventions demonstrate the breadth of her design skills.  Originally recognized for glitzy science fiction and fantasy confections, her later expansion into historical garments and elaborate millinery means that she is an influence on a wide variety of “next generation” costumers.

…Sally is also active with her local chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism under the sobriquet Mistress Charmaine of Falkensee where she acts as a consultant on Garb research, sewing, and sources for fabrics and period patterns. In addition to costuming for full sized humans, Ms. Fink is also noted for her dolls.

After many years concentrating on historical clothing, Ms. Fink returned to science fiction/fantasy competition costuming in 2009. These days she sometimes transfers her formidable skills from working on her own designs to the area of interpreting and constructing the designs of other costumers by participating in the Future Fashion Folio or Single Pattern Competitions at Costume-Con. Her entry in the Future Fashion Show at Costume-Con 30 [2012] in Tempe, “Empress in the Court of Jewels” not only won “Best in Show” for that competition, but demonstrated her continuing commitment to our craft; her steampunk hall costume at the same event shows that this veteran costumer is still taking on the challenge of new genres and putting her own stamp on them.

Her website has many photos of her work.

Pixel Scroll 3/15/20 Random Scroll Is The Kindest, Bravest, Warmest, Most Wonderful Pixel File I’ve Ever Known In My Life

(1) COSTUMING COMMUNITY MEMORIAL 2020 The International Costumers Guild posted their annual In Memoriam video.

This video memorializes those who were lost within the costuming community since Costume-Con 37, 2019.

(2) SIGN OF THE TIMES. Emergency Awesome’s “The Batman 2021 Movie Announcement Breakdown – Batman Easter Eggs” shared this clever image:

(3) RAZZIE AWARDS. Having forgotten these hadn’t been announced about the same time as the Oscars, it was news that the Razzie Awards ceremony was scheduled to be livestreamed March 14. Except it wasn’t, because the City of LA shut down the facility they had booked: Deadline explains, “Razzie Awards Halted By City Coronavirus Restrictions, As Producers Unsure Whether To Cancel Or Postpone”.

(4) WESTWORLD QUIZ. A featurette from HBO.

Thandie Newton and Tessa Thompson play “Who Said It?” in advance of the Season 3 premiere.

(5) MYTHBOOSTERS. I’m sure none of you fell for these. ScreenRant lists “10 Myths About Godzilla that Some Fans Still Believe”.

With over thirty films and hundreds of pieces of media spanning nearly seventy years, Godzilla is one of the most recognizable figures in all of popular culture. But as with anything that has become so enshrined in our collective imagination, there are more than a few falsehoods about Godzilla that many people continue to believe….

8 Godzilla is Green

This largely emerged from North American advertisements for the first G-film that depicted the monster in a shade of vibrant green. Throughout most of the franchise, though, Godzilla has been shown with grey or charcoal skin.

For the most part, this trait has remained the same, with the exception being Godzilla 2000, which was actually the first iteration of the creature to be green in color.

(6) EARLY PETER CAPALDI.[Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Maltin on Movies podcast with Craig Ferguson at about the one hour mark, Leonard Maltin asked Ferguson if he really was in a band called “Bastards From Hell.”  Ferguson explained that he was, but he was the drummer in Peter Capaldi’s band.  Leonard Maltin explained that Capaldi was best known for his role as Doctor Who, and Ferguson of course said, “You mean The Doctor.”

The episode ended with the Maltins and Ferguson talking about their pets.  Ferguson explained that he kept chickens, and Jessie Maltin asked if the chickens has Scottish accents.  Ferguson said he didn’t know because “I don’t speak chicken” but then gave his impression of what chickens would sound like if they had Scottish accents…

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • March 15, 1956 Forbidden Planet premiered. It was produced by Nicholas Nayfack, and directed by Fred M. Wilcox.  The story was by Irving Block and Allen Adler. It starred Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, and Leslie Nielsen. The narration was done by Les Tremayne. Shot in glorious Eastmancolor and CinemaScope, it is considered one of the great science fiction films of all time as it well should be. It features the first appearance of Robby the Robot who, under many different guises, will show up in different advertisements, films and series down the decades. You can go watch it here.
  • March 15, 1967 Frankenstein Created Women premiered. It was yet another Hammer Frankenstein film as directed by Terence Fisher. It stars Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein and Susan Denberg as his latest creation. Anthony Frank Hinds, who was also known as Tony Hinds and John Elder, wrote the screenplay. Critics generally generally found it Lis king a coherent script and gory while currently it has a 56% rating by the audience at a Rotten Tomatoes. You can see it here. Unfortunately we could only find it as a German print, so Cora may be the only one here who can fully enjoy it!
  • March 15, 1972 Slaughterhouse-Five premiered. Based on the Vonnegut novel of the name, it would win a Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at Torcon II in 1973. The screenplay is by Stephen Geller while the film was directed by George Roy Hill. It starred Michael Sacks, Ron Leibman, and Valerie Perrine, and also features Eugene Roche, Sharon Gans, Holly Near, and Perry King. Critics in general liked it a lot, but more importantly Vonnegut thought it got the novel perfectly. It currently carries a 67% audience rating over at Rotten Tomatoes. It’s available on pretty much every streaming service in this universe.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 15, 1852 Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory (née Persse). Irish dramatist, folklorist, theatre manager. With William Butler Yeats and Edward Martyn, she created the Irish Literary Theatre and the Abbey Theatre. She produced a number of books of retellings of stories taken from Irish mythology. Gods and Fighting Men, all seven hundred pages strong, is the best look at her work. It’s available at all the usual digital sources. (Died 1932.)
  • Born March 15, 1911 Desmond  W. Hall. He served as assistant editor of Astounding Stories of Super Science. His writing career is best remembered for his Hawk Carse series which would as Space Hawk: The Greatest of Interplanetary Adventures in the Fifties. These were co-written with Harry Bates, Astounding Editor.  Unfortunately, it appears that he never stayed in print, either in paper or digitally. (Died 1982.)
  • Born March 15, 1920 Lawrence Sanders. Mystery writer who wrote several thrillers that according to ISFDB had genre elements such as The Tomorrow File and The Passion of Molly T. Now I’ve not read them so I cannot comment how just on how obvious the genre elements are, but I assume it’s similar to what one finds in a Bond film. One these novels btw is described on the dust jacket as an “erotic spine tingler”. (Died 1998.)
  • Born March 15, 1924 Walter Gotell. He’s remembered for being General Gogol, head of the KGB, in the Roger Moore Bond films as well as having played the role of Morzeny, in From Russia With Love, one of Connery’s Bond films. He also appeared as Gogol in The Living Daylights, Dalton’s first Bond film. I’m fairly sure that makes him the only actor to be a villain to three different Bonds. (Died 1997.)
  • Born March 15, 1926 Rosel George Brown. A talented life cut far too short by cancer. In 1959, she was nominated for the Hugo Award for best new author, but her career was ended when she died of lymphoma at the age of 41. Some wrote some twenty stories between 1958 and 1964, with her novels being Sibyl Sue Blue, and its sequel, The Waters of Centaurus about a female detective, plus Earthblood, co-written with Keith Laumer. She’s not available in digital form but used copies of her works are readily available on Amazon. (Died 1967.)
  • Born March 15, 1939 Robert Nye. He did what the Encyclopaedia of Fantasy describes as “bawdy, scatological, richly told, sometimes anachronistic reworkings of the traditional material“ with some of his works being Beowulf, Taliesin (which is the name of my SJW cred), Faust, Merlin and Mrs. Shakespeare: The Complete Works. Some of his works are available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 2016.)
  • Born March 15, 1943 David Cronenberg, 77. Not a Director whose tastes are at all squeamish.  His best films? I’d pick Videodrome, The Fly, Naked Lunch and The Dead Zone. Though I’m tempted to toss Scanners in that list as well. ISFDB says he has one genre novel, Consumed, which garnered a Bram Stoker Award nominated for A Superior Achievement in a First Novel. Oh and he was in  the film version of Clive Barker Nightbreed.
  • Born March 15, 1967 Isa Dick Hackett, 53. Producer and writer for Amazon who helped produce The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, and The Adjustment Bureau, all of which are based on works by her father, Philip K. Dick.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) NEVERMORE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Washington Post’s Kate Silver has a piece about Nevermore Park: “In Chicago, muralist Hebru Brantley’s outdoor art moves inside”. This is something like Meow Wolf, in that it is an immersive art installation with lots of things to do for your $28.  It is also based on imaginary characters.  But the difference is that this is the creation of one artist, Hebru Brantley, and this is Afrofuturist art.

In 2019, Brantley created Nevermore Park inside his old Chicago art studio because he wanted to tell the characters’ stories in a different way. He sought to explore how Flyboy and Lil Mama — the female character — live, what they eat, how they think, where they play, what public transportation looks like in their neighborhood. And he wanted it to be tangible, built for interaction. “In the higher-art world, it’s always ‘Look but don’t touch,’?” he says. In Nevermore Park, there are no such rules.

(11) SIGNS OF LIFE. NPR says “Australia’s Fire-Ravaged Forests Are Recovering. Ecologists Hope It Lasts”.

In the back corner of a burned lot in Australia’s fire-ravaged South Coast stands a torched tree. It’s uppermost branches reach into a cloudless sky, brittle and bare. Against its charred trunk rests half-burned rubble, remains from the gift shop it used to shade.

But that’s not where local resident Claire Polach is pointing. She gestures to the middle part of the tree, where lime green leaves sprout from blackened bark, as if the tree is wearing a shaggy sweater.

To Polach, the burst of regrowth is a sign that despite a months’ long assault of flame and smoke, the second-hottest summer on record and a multi-year drought, Australia’s nature “is doing it’s thing.”

As for people like her, recovering from the same? “We’ll follow the nature,” she says.

This cycle of fire, rain and recovery has played out in Australia for millennia. The majority of the country’s forests are uniquely adapted to fire. Some species need it. “Australia is, more than any other, a fire continent,” writes ecologist and historian Stephen Pyne in his book “World Fire.”

But scientists have long warned that a warming climate could mean more severe fires, more often. Now there are concerns that even a fire continent will struggle to recover from the scale and severity of recent events.

New research published in the journal Nature Climate Change found that a staggering 21 percent of Australia’s forested area burned in the 2019-2020 fire season, a figure the authors say is “globally unprecedented” and may indicate “the more flammable future projected to eventuate under climate change has arrived earlier than anticipated.”

The question now is whether Australia’s nature can keep pace.

(12) MUIR, PLEASE. Maria Popova discusses “The Universe as an Infinite Storm of Beauty: John Muir on the Transcendent Interconnectedness of Nature” at Brain Pickings.

…A year earlier, during his famous thousand-mile walk to the Gulf of Mexico, Muir recorded his observations and meditations in a notebook inscribed John Muir, Earth-Planet, Universe. In one of the entries from this notebook, the twenty-nine-year-old Muir counters the human hubris of anthropocentricity in a sentiment far ahead of his time and, in many ways, ahead of our own as we grapple with our responsibility to the natural world. More than a century before Carl Sagan reminded us that we, like all creatures, are “made of starstuff,” Muir humbles us into our proper place in the cosmic order…

(13) GETTING THE LOWDOWN. NPR tells how “To Forecast Spring Flooding, NOAA Planes Fly Slow And Low”.

This time of year, pilots in small blue and white airplanes are busy gathering information about how much snow is on the ground — and more importantly, how much water that snow contains.

National Weather Service forecasters say parts of Minnesota could see flood conditions later this spring, according to preliminary outlooks. The National Weather Service flood outlook map says there’s a significantly elevated chance of flooding in the Upper Mississippi River and Red River watersheds.

On a clear, very cold morning at Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie, Lt. Conor Maginn and Lt. j.g. Mason Carroll warm up their twin engine turboprop and run down the pre-flight checklist. They are pilots with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Commissioned Officer Corps. On this flight, Carroll pilots while Maginn operates the scientific instruments and scans the navigation charts.

At 3,500 feet a half hour north of the Twin Cities, Maginn lets air traffic controllers know they’ll drop down to 500 feet, an altitude so low that snowmobile tracks, the stilts beneath deer stands, and the letters on the Mora water tower are easy to spot in the bright sunshine.

From a large tablet computer, Maginn activates the suitcase-sized gamma ray detector that’s mounted in the belly of the plane. The low altitude is critical; any higher and the instrument can’t get a good reading. They scan the horizon for hazards like birds and cellphone towers.

Once a second, the detector measures the amount of low-level natural radiation emanating from the soil and compares it to readings taken in the same spot last autumn, before the snow built up.

“If we fly over the same lines like we’re doing now, we can compare those two numbers and get an idea of how much water is in the snowpack,” Maginn explained.

The computer reveals that the snow in the sample contains about 3.5 inches of water. Because snow can be fluffy or compact or anything in between, forecasters calculate a figure called snow water equivalent. This is critical to forecasting how much will drain into rivers and streams when the snow melts in the spring.

(14) SPIN DOCTOR. In the Washington Post Magazine, Menachem Wecker profiles Smithsonian cultural history curator Harry Rand, who, in his book Rumpelstiltskin’s Secret:  What Women Didn’t Tell The Grimms says that the real fairy tale about Rumpelstiltskin, as conveyed orally through women-only gatherings called Spinnstubes, is that the character is sterile. “How a Smithsonian researcher reinterpreted Rumpelstiltskin for the #MeToo era”.

Harry Rand might be the most intriguing Washington researcher you’ve never heard of. The Smithsonian Institution senior cultural history curator is a published poet who holds a 1989 patent for design of a “modular space vehicle for deep space applications.” Rand has also penned critically acclaimed books on artists and has investigated topics from what Vermeer’s famous milkmaid is making (spoiler: bread pudding) to the social implications of medieval foie gras production to how the Trojan Horse was named. Still, it’s surprising even for such an omnivorous thinker to devote nearly 300 pages, with footnotes, endnotes and appendixes, to a fairy tale. But he does just that in his new book, “Rumpelstiltskin’s Secret: What Women Didn’t Tell the Grimms,” in which he claims that the story was never intended for children.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/9/20 I Wanna Pixel Scroll All Nite And Work On My Spelling Every Day

(1) SEE CC37. A three-minute video of “The Art of Costume at Costume-Con 37” has been posted on the International Costumers Guild YouTube channel.

A music video featuring costumes worn both on stage and in the halls at Costume-Con 37, in Danvers, MA, 2019, where it’s all about costumes, all the time!

(2) NEW FAAN AWARDS VOTING DEADLINE. John Purcell has extended the deadline for receiving FAAn Awards ballots to Sunday, February 23. See the Corflu website for rules and forms.

(3) LITIGATION ENDS AS AUDIBLE RESTRICTS CAPTIONS PROGRAM. Publishers Weekly reports “In Captions Settlement, Audible Will Not Use AAP Member Content Without Permission”.  

In a filing this week in federal court, Audible has agreed not to include the copyrighted works of seven plaintiff publishers in its “Captions” program without express permission. The draft order comes nearly three weeks after Judge Valerie Caproni, on January 14, dismissed the contentious, months-long copyright infringement lawsuit between publishers and the Amazon-owned audiobook provider, after being informed by the parties that they’d reached a settlement.

… Audible sources confirmed to PW that the company currently has no plan to move forward with the Captions program beyond its limited pilot with public domain works for students. Further, Audible officials said the company has in fact decided not to include any copyrighted works in the Captions program without securing permission, regardless of whether or not the parties are AAP members—though the company was careful to stress that they’ve not formalized that decision with any party outside of this litigation.

First filed in August of 2019 by seven publishers (including all of the Big Five, Scholastic, and Chronicle Books), the suit claims that Audible’s proposed Captions program, which scrolls a few words of an AI-generated transcription alongside an audiobook’s narration in the Audible app, amounts to blatant copyright infringement.

(4) SFWA READINGS. There will be two chances to hear Jasmine Gower, Corry L. Lee, and Carolyn O’Doherty read from their work when the Pacific Northwest’s SFWA Reading series visits Seattle and Portland in April. Full details at the links.

The Pacific Northwest is home to a Tardis-Full of Science Fiction and Fantasy writers, a fact celebrated every quarter with the Pacific Northwest Reading Series. These free quarterly events provide the Northwest Science Fiction and Fantasy community a chance to gather, network and enjoy readings from local and visiting authors in Portland and Seattle.

(5) PRESSED DOWN AND OVERFLOWING. In The Full Lid – 7th February 2020, Alasdair Stuart dives into Starfleet’s long dark night of the soul on Picard in “Admiral Clancy Regrets.” He takes a look at the first part of Big Finish’s relaunch of Adam Adamant and he talks PodUK and The Tundra Project. He also signal boosts colleague Jason Pitre’s new RPG Palanquin, season 3 of the new radio adventures of Dan Dare and Sandra Odell’s Oddfellow Creations

Adam Adamant Lives! Again!

Regular readers of The Lid will know my fondness for audio drama in all it’s forms and TV drama in all its oddest forms. It’s a surprise then to admit this is my first exposure to legendarily odd short-run series Adam Adamant. However, this is by far the best possible introduction to the show.

Written by Guy Adams, it’s a whip-smart, fiercely clever and deeply kind modification of the original idea. Adam is an Edwardian adventurer, who finds himself in ’60s London. Confused and traumatized, he falls under the care of Georgina Jones, a doctor and private detective. Played with clenched teeth aplomb and Paul Darrow’ian elegance by Blake Ritson, Adam is a surprisingly convivial, and on occasion cheerfully violent man. He lived to protect the country in the past and does so again now. Just… on more of a level playing field than he ever thought…

(6) THE WILD WILD CHILD. Stoney Emshwiller told Facebook readers about a childhood experience inspired by trying to imitate Robert Conrad.

I was a big fan of The Wild Wild West as a kid and thought it was super cool James West had a fancy rig which would launch a derringer from his sleeve into his hand. So at about 11-ish years old, I went up into my dad’s well-stocked attic workshop and crafted one for myself.

Not having a derringer, I used the only “weapon” around, which was an X-Acto knife. The final result was impressive, involving an elastic band, a trigger device, a holder for the X-Acto knife, and a rail-like track for it to slide along which I’d carefully fashioned of sheet metal. It worked like a charm: when I straightened my arm, the blade would shoot from my sleeve into my hand.

Worked great until the second try, when I forgot to bend back my wrist. The blade rocketed out and imbedded itself into the palm of my hand.

I still have the scar today. Oops.

(7) BEAN OBIT. Actor Orson Bean died February 7 when struck and killed by a car and fell, only to be hit by a second car. He was 91.  SYFY Wire  says fans will remember him as the voice of two Hobbits —  he voiced both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins in the Rankin/Bass animated TV films The Hobbit and The Return of the King in the late 1970s. The complete soundtrack of the former is available on YouTube.

Bean appeared in a number of films, including Being John Malkovich and Miracle on 34th Street (1959 TV movie). He made hundreds of appearances on TV game shows and talk shows. The New York Times once described him —

“Mr. Bean’s face comes wrapped with a sly grin, somewhat like the expression of a child when sneaking his hand into the cookie jar,” The New York Times noted in a review of his 1954 variety show, “The Blue Angel.” It said he showed “a quality of being likable even when his jokes fall flat.”

In 1964 he co-founded the Sons of the Desert, an organization dedicated to comedians Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, with chapters around the world.

(8) CONWAY OBIT. Kevin Conway died of a heart attack February 5 at the age of 77. His first major film role was as Roland Weary in Slaughterhouse-Five (1972). On TV he guest starred as a clone of Kahless the Unforgettable in Star Trek: The Next Generation

His best-known film role probably was Sgt. Buster Kilrain in the 1994 movie Gettysburg.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • February 9, 1994 Cyborg Cop was released on VHS. (Cyborg Cop II was released in selected theaters on this date.) It was directed by Sam Firstenberg and written by Greg Latter. It starred David Bradley, John Rhys-Davies, Todd Jensena and Alonna Shaw. Rufus Swart was  the Cyborg. As you might expect, it was not well received. Halliwell’s Film Guide said it had  “a violent, cliché-ridden plot.” Reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 20% rating. You can watch it here.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 9, 1935 R. L. Fanthorpe, 85. I’ve never heard of him before stumbling upon him on ISFDB but I’m including him as he was a pulp writer for UK publisher Badger Books during the 1950s and 1960s during which he wrote under some sixty pen names. I think he wrote several hundred genre novels during that time but no two sources agree on just how many he wrote. Interestingly nothing is available by him digitally currently though his hard copy offerings would fill a wing of small rural library. He’d be perfect for Kindle Unlimited I’d say.
  • Born February 9, 1936 Clive Walter Swift. His first genre appearance was as Snug in that version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Several years thereafter he was Dr. Black in “A Warning to the Curious” (based on a ghost story by British writer M. R. James). Then he’s Ecto in Excalibur. He shows up next in the Sixth Doctor story, “The Revelation of a The Daleks” as Professor Jobel. (Died 2019.)
  • Born February 9, 1940 David Webb Peoples, 80. Screenwriter of Blade Runner, Ladyhawke, Leviathan, and Twelve Monkeys which is not a full listing. He’s also been writing for the Twelve Monkeys series .
  • Born February 9, 1942 Marianna Hill, 78. Doctor Helen Noel in the excellent “Dagger of The Mind” episode of the original Trek. (This episode introduces the Vulcan mind meld.) she also had roles on Outer Limits (in the Eando Binder’s “I Robot“ story which predates Asimov’s story of that name), Batman (twice as Cleo Patrick), I-SpyThe Wild Wild West, Mission: Impossible and Kung Fu (ok the last one has to be least genre adjacent). 
  • Born February 9, 1951 Justin Gustainis, 69. Author of two series so far, one being the Occult Crimes Unit Investigations series which he’s written three superb novels in so far, and the other being the Quincey Morris Supernatural Investigations series which has seven novels and which I’ve not read yet. Who’s read the latter series? 
  • Born February 9, 1956 Timothy Truman, 64. Writer and artist best known in my opinion for his work on Grimjack (with John Ostrander), Scout, and the reinvention of Jonah Hex with Joe R. Lansdale. His work with Ostrander is simply stellar and is collected in Grimjack Omnibus, Volume 1 and 2.  For the Hex work, I’d say Jonah Hex: Shadows West which collects their work together. He did do a lot of other work and I’m sure you’ll point out what I’ve overlooked… 
  • Born February 9, 1960 Laura Frankos, 60. Wife of Harry Turtledove. She’s written a baker’s dozen of genre short stories. She’s more known for her Broadway history column “The Great White Wayback Machine” and has also published one mystery novel, Saint Oswald’s Niche. Her Broadway Quiz Book is available on all digital platforms.

(11) GET READY TO TIE UP YOUR BOAT IN IDAHO. In this blue-vs.-red map, the blue part will be under water by 2100: “Where America’s Climate Migrants Will Go As Sea Level Rises” at CityLab.

When Hurricanes Katrina and Rita swept through Louisiana in 2005, cities like Houston, Dallas, and Baton Rouge took in hundreds of thousands of displaced residents—many of whom eventually stayed in those cities a year later. Where evacuees have moved since hasn’t been closely tracked, but data from those initial relocations are helping researchers predict how sea level rise might drive migration patterns in the future.

Climate experts expect some 13 million coastal residents in the U.S. to be displaced by the end of this century. A new PLOS One study gives some indication of where climate migrants might go.

“A lot of cities not at risk of sea of level rise will experience the effect of it,”says Bistra Dilkina, a computer scientist at the University of Southern California, who led the study. “This will require an adjustment in terms of the [increased] demand on the cities’ infrastructure.”

Dilkina and her team used migration data from the Internal Revenue Service to analyze how people moved across the U.S. between 2004 and 2014. Movement from seven Katrina and Rita-affected counties to unaffected counties between 2005 and 2006 was categorized as climate-driven migration. Researchers then combined that analysis with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) projections on the effects of sea level rise on coastal counties, and trained a machine-learning model to predict where coastal populations will move when forced to leave their homes—and how that, in turn, affects the migration of non-coastal residents.

(12) ON TO 4D. Something else that increasingly features in SF novels was covered in a recent Nature  — “The New 3D Printing”, Research advances are changing the image of a once-niche technology, including…

The field’s future could also lie in ‘4D printing’ — 3D-printed objects that also have the ability to perform some mechanical action, akin to artificial muscles. Often, these incorporate shape-memory polymers, materials that can react to changes in their environment such as heat or moisture

(13) DATING GAME. Will these palms mate and bring back the dates beloved in antiquity? The Guardian has the story — “Scientists in Israel grow date plants from 2,000-year-old seeds”.

…Writers from Pliny the Elder to Herodotus raved about the qualities of Judean dates, including their long shelf-life, which allowed them to be transported far and wide. “Herod even used to present them to the emperor in Rome every year,” said Sallon.

But the plants suffered under centuries of unrest; by the 19th century the plantations had disappeared.

Writing in the journal Science Advances, Sallon and colleagues report how they planted 32 Judean date palm seeds retrieved from a variety of archaeological sites across the Judean desert. These include Masada and caves at Qumran – shelters best known for concealing the Dead Sea scrolls but which were also used by refugees in ancient times.

“I spent hours and hours in the archaeology department picking through the best seeds,” said Sallon. “A lot of them had holes in where insects had bored through or [they had] fallen apart, but some were really pristine and I picked the very best ones.”

Six of the seeds sprouted. The team radiocarbon-dated fragments of the shells left after germination to reveal that Hannah and Adam date to somewhere between the first and fourth centuries BC. Judith and Boaz were dated to a 200-year period from the mid-second century BC, and Uriel and Jonah were dated to somewhere between the first and second centuries AD….

(14) I BOT THE LAW AND THE LAW LOST. A Harvard undergraduate tells “How I hacked the government (it was easier than you may think)”.

Though no expert coder, a government concentrator uses bots to show an agency its website vulnerability.

Max Weiss ’20 never intended to hack the government. His discovery of how easy it is to do — outlined in a new paper he authored — came of the best of intentions.

Weiss, a government concentrator from Cincinnati, was doing advocacy work for state expansion and defense of Medicaid last summer, a project that combined his interests in public policy and health care. While studying the ways in which various advocacy groups can influence pending legislation, he learned how valuable such groups find the federal government’s comment period, when members of the public are invited to weigh in on new or pending legislation via online forms. He realized how easy it would be to manipulate the results using bots — computer programs that generate automated responses — to flood the sites with fake responses for or against any proposal.

The 21-year-old detailed his findings in a recent Technology Science piece, “Deepfake Bot Submissions to Federal Public Comment Websites Cannot Be Distinguished from Human Submissions.”

“We were spending a lot of time and energy getting high-quality comments from constituents,” said Weiss. “I wanted to make sure these federal agencies understood the potential consequences of their policies, and I had the idea that I could use a bot and submit a lot of fake comments.”

He paused, recognizing that corrupting the process was fraught: “This would be bad for democracy.”

But the Leverett House resident couldn’t shake the idea, and he began to research the feasibility of such a scheme. Turns out submission is easy to automate. Federal agencies have some leeway to discount comments that are obviously duplicated or irrelevant. But the typical technological defenses against attack, including CAPTCHAS, anomaly detection, and outside verification — all of which are integrated into online activity from banking to email log-in — were pretty much absent.

(15) THE BIG PICTURE. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Birds of Prey director Cathy Yan, who is “the first woman of Asian descent to steer a major Hollywood superhero movie” and who got the job because Margot Robbie, who is both a producer and a star of the film, admired Yan’s indie film Dead Pigs, a hit at Sundance. “Cathy Yan’s rapid rise from journalist to ‘Birds of Prey’ director: ‘I didn’t think you could do this professionally’”.

…Moving from a smaller film to a superhero franchise can feel like a mammoth leap, Yan says, but she was inspired by such auteurs as Taika Waititi, who migrated from small comedies to the Marvel tentpole “Thor: Ragnarok,” then back to the humbly budgeted 2019 Oscar nominee “Jojo Rabbit.” And whether Yan is working on a small or large scale, there are consistent traits that attract her to a project.

(16) THE ROVE BOAT. “Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Coming to Walt Disney World” on YouTube is Disney’s official announcement of the Star Wars-themed hotel designed to look like a starship which is opening at Walt Disney World next year.

Reservations will open later this year for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, which debuts in 2021 at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. This new two-day and two-night vacation is an all-immersive experience that will take you to a galaxy far, far away in a way that only Disney could create.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Former NASA engineer Mark Rober now makes a living as a YouTube inventor. Here he unveils the ultimate deterrent to Amazon package thieves — “Porch Pirate vs. Glitter Bomb Trap 2.0.” 15 minutes long… but priceless.

[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Contrarius, Cat Eldridge, Alan Baumler, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]