Pixel Scroll 1/23/23 You Can Make The Scene On The Mezzanine, But Don’t Scroll In The Pixels

Android Jones. Photo by Greg Preston. From Jones’ appearance at Spectrum Fantastic Art Live! in 2012.

(1) HELP ARTIST RECOVER FROM STUDIO FIRE. [Item by Arnie Fenner.] Artist Andrew “Android” Jones’ studio burned down on January 18. I posted a little about it on Muddy Colors, “Android Jones Fundraiser”, and you can see some photos of his studio (before and after) in his GoFundMe page.

Several days ago a distinguished member of our art family experienced every artists’ nightmare: Andrew “Android” Jones’ studio burnt to the ground in a devastating fire. The studio, built by Andrew’s father, was separate from his home and contained all of his computers, back-up files, printers, sketchbooks, business records, traditional paintings and drawings, and his library. Thankfully Andrew and his family are safe, but everything in the studio was lost.

As one of the world’s most innovative artists—someone who was a leader of the “immersive experience” so popular today with his projections on the Empire State Building, the Sydney Opera House and at Burning Man, someone whose innovations with Painter and Photoshop pushed the boundaries and possibilities of digital art—Android’s loss is a loss for us all.

GoFundMe: “Fundraiser by Andrew Jones : Android Jones Studio Fire”.

Here’s a bit from his bio:

Best described as a “digital painter,” Jones has created an immense body of work. He has become well known for his many layered, psychedelic works and live performances using a custom built digital set up. He participated in the Grateful Dead Fare Thee Well Tour and his work has been projected on the Sydney Opera House and the Empire State Building. A long time member of the Burning Man community, Android has traveled the world exhibiting his work and has contributed to events on 6 continents.

Andrew’s art appeared on the cover of Spectrum #14 and was featured in a show at the Smithsonian: “Android Jones” at Smithsonian American Art Museum.

(2) COZY. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] My Semiprozine Spotlight project never really took off the way the other spotlights did, but I just posted another one today, featuring Wyngraf Magazine of Cozy Fantasy.

Tell us about your magazine.

Wyngraf is a magazine of cozy fantasy short fiction—as far as I know, the first of its kind. Cozy fantasy focuses on low-stakes stories, often with themes of home and community. They can be simple slice-of-life tales or feature some conflict, but they’re never about toppling kingdoms or preventing the world from ending and they’re rarely solved with violence. They’re often set at home, though when they go off wandering we call that “backpack fantasy” and still count it. Our stories always give readers worlds they’d love to live in and endings that leave them feeling warm and, well, cozy!

(3) EARLY HORROR AFICIANADO. Bobby Derie has dug up an 18th century piece of horror criticism: “’On the Pleasure derived from Objects of Terror; with Sir Bertrand, a Fragment’ (1773) by Anna Laetitia Aikin & John Aikin” – Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein at Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein.

Anna Laetitia Aikin was born in 1743; her father was a Presbyterian minister and the headmaster of a boy’s school, and both Anna and her brother John Aikin received solid educations, which led to their careers in letters—Anna being noted for working in multiple genres, and earned a reputation as a poet and author. One of her earliest publications was Miscellaneous Pieces in Prose (1773), published jointly with her brother. Among the contents of this volume is “On the Pleasure derived from Objects of Terror; with Sir Bertrand, a Fragment.”

The essay is one of the early English works on the subject of the horror story, and much of it is as insightful today as it was two and a half centuries ago…

(4) JMS ON B5. J. Michael Straczynski has released another Babylon 5 episode commentary track on YouTube: “Babylon 5: Severed Dreams”

A new sync-up commentary sponsored by my Patrons (if you’d like to lend your support you can do so the Patreon page noted above) for Severed Dreams, the third episode of the Messages from Earth trilogy. Best listened to by playing this on your iphone or tablet while the episode unspools on the TV in front of you.

(5) LOCUS GETS GRANT. “CLMP Names US Literary Publishers’ ‘Capacity-Building’ Grants” reports Publishing Perspectives. Locus Magazine is one of the grant recipients.

CLMP, the nonprofit Community of Literary Magazines and Presses in the United States, has announced extensive funding to 43 independent nonprofit literary magazines and presses. Each of these grantees has been chosen to receive two-year “capacity-building” grants of US$2,500 to $25,000 per year, meaning that each company listed will get, in total, between $5,000 and $50,000….

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1991 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Emma Bull’s Bone Dance

There’s a nice riff on gardening, on growing food, in Emma Bull’s Bone Dance when Sparrow is in a community outside the city. 

I used to read, when I could still read novels, this Hugo-nominated work at least every few years as it’s one of my favorite novels. It’s got great characters, especially the gender ambiguous Sparrow, a fascinating setting that’s based according to her on our Minneapolis and an absolutely stellar story. 

I do have a signed copy of it as I do Finder and two copies of War for The Oaks, one just after her unfortunate accident and one much later one. And yes, she is on the chocolate gifting list. Surely you aren’t at all surprised by that. 

Here’s the quote. 

As my endurance came back, and my flexibility, I began to walk instead of sit. Outside the second ring of houses (my estimate had been low; there were thirty-nine), I found barns and sheds and stables and workshops. Beyond those were pastureland and cultivated fields. Grain did its foot-rooted wind dance there; corn thrashed its jungle leaves; beans waggled long green or purple or yellow fingers; summer squash ripened furiously in a pinwheel of tropical-looking vegetation. Here, too, there were always people, cultivating, hoeing weeds, spreading things, raking things, trimming, harvesting. It all seemed as ritual as a pre-Bang Catholic mass, and as intelligible to outsiders.

Work 

One morning, when I’d gone farther than I had before and was feeling the effects, I sat down in the shade of a tree next to a field. Five people were hoeing up and down the rows of something I didn’t recognize. One of them reached the end of the row nearest me, looked up, smiled, and came over.

“Hi,” she said, dropping down onto the grass. “Sparrow, isn’t it? I’m Kris.” She pulled her straw hat off to reveal a brush of hair the color of the hat. She tugged a bandanna out of her pocket and wiped her face with it; then she unclipped a flask from her belt and poured some of the contents over the bandanna. She draped that over her head like a veil and jammed the hat back on. “Funny-looking,” she said with a grin, when she saw me watching the process. “But it does the trick. The evaporating water keeps your head cool.”

“Looks like hard work,” I said, nodding back out into the sun.

“Goddess, it is. Especially this part of the year. Harvesting isn’t any easier, but it’s more fun, and you have something to show for it right away. Every year about now I start wishing it was winter.”

This was a reasonable line of conversation, not too personal. “What is that out there?”

“Sugar beets. We voted to do ’em this year instead of tobacco, thank Goddess. Don’t get me wrong—I love to smoke. But I’ll pay for my tobacco and be glad to. It’s a good cash crop, but the hand labor is murder, and no matter how careful we are, we always have trouble with the tomatoes when we grow it. Turns out we’ll make as much on the beets, anyway, so I can afford to buy my smokes.”

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 23, 1923 Walter M. Miller Jr. He’s best remembered for A Canticle for Leibowitz, the only novel he published in his lifetime. Terry Bisson would finish off the completed draft that he left of Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman, a sequel of sorts to the first novel. He did a fair amount of short fiction as well. He’s poorly represented both from the usual suspects and in the dead tree sense as well beyond A Canticle for Leibowitz. (Died 1996.)
  • Born January 23, 1933 Emily Banks, 90. She played Yeoman Tonia Barrows in the absolutely splendid “Shore Leave”.  Though her acting career was brief, ending twenty years later, she shows up on Mr. Terrific, a series I’ve never heard of, Fantasy IslandThe Wild Wild WestBewitched, the original Knight Rider, Highway to Heaven and Air Wolf.
  • Born January 23, 1939 Greg and Tim Hildebrandt. Greg is aged 84, but Tim passed seventeen years ago. I’d say best known for their very popular and ubiquitous Lord of the Rings calendar illustrations, also for illustrating comics for Marvel Comics and DC Comics. They also did a lot of genre covers so I went to ISFDB and checked to see if I recognized any. I certainly did. There was Zelazny’s cover of My Name is Legion, Tolkien’s Smith of Wooton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham and Poul Anderson’s A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows. Nice. (Tim Hildebrandt died 2006.)
  • Born January 23, 1943 Gil Gerard, 80. Captain William “Buck” Rogers in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century which I fondly remember as a really truly great SF series even if it really wasn’t that great. He also shows up in the very short lived E.A.R.T.H. Force as Dr. John Harding, and he’s General Morgenstern in Reptisaurus, a movie title that proves someone had a serious lack of imagination that day. In Bone Eater, a monster film that Bruce Boxleitner also shows up in as Sheriff Steve Evans, he plays Big Jim Burns, the Big Bad. Lastly, I’d like to note that he got to play Admiral Sheehan in the “Kitumba” episode of fan created Star Trek: New Voyages.
  • Born January 23, 1944 Rutger Hauer. Roy Batty In Blade Runner of course but did you know he was Lothos In Buffy the Vampire Slayer? That I’d forgotten. He’s also William Earle in Batman Begins, Count Dracula himself in Dracula III: Legacy, Captain Etienne Navarre in Ladyhawke, the vey evil John Ryder in The Hitcher, Abraham Van Helsing in Dracula 3D, King Zakour in, and no I didn’t know they’d done this film, The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power and finally let’s note his involvement in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets as President of the World State Federation. (Died 2019.)
  • Born January 23, 1950 Richard Dean Anderson, 73. Yes I am counting MacGyver as genre you can say it is open to debate if you want. His main and rather enduring SF role was as Jack O’Neill in the many Stargate small universe series. Well Stargate SG-1 really as he only briefly showed up on Stargate Universe and Stargate Atlantis whereas he did one hundred and seventy-three episodes of SG-1. Wow. Now his only other SF role lasted, err, twelve episodes in which he played Enerst Pratt alias Nicodemus Legend in the most excellent Legend co-starring John de Lancie. Yeah, I really liked it. Too bad it got cancelled so fast. 
  • Born January 23, 1950 David Feldman, 73. Before authoring the “Imponderables” series, David Feldman taught the first-ever college course on soap operas at Bowling Green State University (OH), at that time the only school in the world with a postgraduate degree in popular culture. That’s where Mike Glyer met him. After Feldman took his talents to the University of Maryland in pursuit of a Ph.D., where the soap opera class blew up into a 350-student draw, he worked in New York in the programming department of NBC, in both daytime and primetime programming until he decided writing books was a more attractive idea. Imponderables, the first in the 11-book series, came out in 1986. And once upon a time, he even ran Wolfman Jack’s campaign for president. (OGH)
  • Born January 23, 1954 – Craig Miller, age 67.  Ray Bradbury suggested he join LASFS (Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society).  Of course I put that first, what Website do you think this is?  CM soon earned the LASFS’ Evans-Freehafer Award (service).  Co-chaired Equicon ’74, Westercon 28, L.A.con II the 42nd Worldcon; chaired Loscon 12.  Fan Guest of Honor, Westercon 41, Loscon 27 (with wife Genny Dazzo), Baycon 2006, Boskone 55.  With Marv Wolfman co-created and produced Pocket Dragon Adventures.  Memoir of work with Lucasfilms Star Wars Adventures.  Three hundred television writer and producer credits.  Writers Guild of America West’s Animation Writers Caucus Animation Writing Award.  [JH]
  • Born January 23, 1964 Mariska Hargitay, 59. First, I must note she is the lead cast member as Olivia Benson of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, now in its twenty-fourth season, the longest running scripted series currently on television. Did you know she’s the daughter of Jayne Mansfield? I certainly didn’t. Her first film appearance was as Donna in Ghoulies which is a seriously fun film. Later genre creds are limited but include playing Marsha Wildmon in the Freddy’s Nightmares – A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Series. She also plays Myra Okubo in the Lake Placid film and voices Tenar in the not very good, indeed truly awful, Tales from Earthsea. Bad, bad idea. 

(8) REVISITING APPENDIX N. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The good folks of Goodman Games are profiling more early 20th century SFF authors who appear in Appendix N of the original D&D Dungeon Master handbook:

 James Maliszewski profiles Abraham Merritt: “Adventures in Fiction: Abraham Merritt”.

Of all the literary influences on D&D and DCC RPG, Abraham Merritt is perhaps the “most-influential of the least-known.” His work is rarely read in this modern time, yet he is named by Gary Gygax as one of “the most immediate influences on AD&D. Today, on January 20, 2020, the 136th anniversary of his birth, we provide a little more insight into this little-read but well-deserving author. You can also learn about all the Appendix N authors by listening to the Appendix N Book Club. For Merritt in particular, his most famous work, The Moon Pool, was recently covered in a special session on the Appendix N Podcast in which Joseph Goodman participated. You can find more about it HERE.

Michael Curtis profiles Clark Ashton Smith: “Appendix N Archaeology: Clark Ashton Smith”.

…While we cannot fault Gygax for not including certain names, we can, however, dig deeper into the authors he does list and examine where they drew their influences from. In the process, we discover that some of the names that people grumble about over their absence, are in fact representative in the works of those that are present. One of these influencers of the influencers is the third name from “the big three of Weird Tales”—Clark Ashton Smith….

Ngo Vinh-Hoi profiles John Bellairs: “Adventures in Fiction: John Bellairs”.

…Many years later a fan asked Bellairs about his time in England only to have him reply “I lived for a year in Bristol [England], and it was the most miserable year of my life.” Bellairs’s misery was everyone else’s good fortune though, as this is when he wrote The Face in the Frost….

(9) COMPARE AND CONTRAST. Also at Goodman Games, Bill Ward contrasts those archetypical adventurers Conan and Elric: “Archetypes of Adventure: Conan and Elric”.

Few characters in fantasy are as iconic as Conan the Cimmerian: black-haired barbarian warrior with the deadly grace of a panther and the impressive physique of a prize fighter, a wanderer, a reaver, and a king by his own hand. Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melnibone perhaps rivals Conan in terms of iconic status (if not exactly in market saturation), perhaps in part due to his deliberate inversion of many of Conan’s characteristics….

(10) SHE KNOWS. “We Think Rian Johnson’s Poker Face Is a Superhero Show, and He’s OK With That” says Gizmodo at the top of its interview with the director.

Columbo. Kojak. Murder, She Wrote. These are the shows most commonly mentioned when describing Peacock’s new show, Poker Face. And, it being from Rian Johnson, the mastermind behind the Knives Out films (as well as The Last Jedi), the comparisons are accurate and logical. Poker Face is, at its core, about a woman named Charlie (Natasha Lyonne) who travels the country and solves murders.

But there’s a twist. Charlie is a human lie detector. She can instinctively tell, for a fact, if a person is lying about something. So if you step back and describe that in a different way you might say she has an innate, unexplained power that makes her superior to others. Or, in other words, a superpower….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Arnie Fenner, John Hertz, Daniel Dern, Cora Buhlert, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]

“Harlan Ellison’s Greatest Hits” Rights Auctioned

Publishers Weekly announced on January 18 that Union Square & Co, a division of Barnes and Noble won the rights to Harlan Ellison’s Greatest Hits at auction. Publication date will be Spring 2024 edited by J. Michael Straczynski with a foreword by Neil Gaiman and an introduction by Michael Chabon.

The book contains 32 of Harlan’s best known and most iconic award-winning stories, including “Repent Harlequin, Said the TickTockMan”, “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream”, “Mefisto in Onyx”, “Deathbird”, “Jeffty is Five” and many others.

Straczynski told Facebook readers, “They will be releasing the book in their Classics category, which is designated for works of significant literary merit, as Harlan’s work deserves. Since taking over the Harlan and Susan Ellison Estate (and now the nonprofit Foundation) my task has been to get Harlan’s work back into bookstores, libraries, universities and other sites where new readers can discover his books. This is a huge step in bringing his stories to a new generation of fans.”

Straczynski News Roundup About Ellison Foundation

The Lost Aztec Temple of Mars

J. Michael Straczynski has given Facebook readers an update about the accomplishments of the Harlan and Susan Ellison Foundation.

An initial round of improvements has been made to the Ellison house:

1) The first stage of improvements/repairs to the house has been completed in preparation for becoming a Memorial Library. This includes: structural repairs for leaks and other issues, installation of a state-of-the-art security system with cameras and a bunch of other wonderfulnesses, building a new back wall and reinforcing the property to keep the house from sliding downhill, and landscaping to create an area looking out over the valley for talks and other events. Stage Two will include repairing/renovating the Lost Aztec Temple of Mars, making other large repairs, putting in safety measures for folks visiting the library, and setting up audio and video systems to run during visits.

The October auction of items from Ellison’s collections has brought in enough income to put the Foundation on a solid footing:

2) This and other work for the Foundation, can now be paid for by funds earned by the recent Heritage Auction, which total approximately one million dollars. This ensures that the Foundation will be solvent and viable well into the foreseeable future.

An Ellison assistant continues to help and receive her full salary:

3) Even before this, back when I first came on as Executor, we informed Sharon, Harlan’s assistant for nearly 40 years. who was crucial to Susan coping with his passing, and is now helping with the Foundation and looking after the house, that she would continue to receive her full salary in perpetuity for the rest of her life.

The Foundation has filed as a California nonprofit corporation and is in good standing:

4) The Harlan and Susan Ellison Foundation is now a certified nonprofit corporation, which ensures that the company will be run according to all the state, local and federal rules and regulations governing such nonprofits long after I’ve gone to dust.

Commercial development of Ellison’s properties for the media, publishing plans for The Last Dangerous Visions and its predecessors, as well as a new collection of his greatest stories, are all in train:

5) Several of Harlan’s properties are now in active development for TV and film. More on this as and when I can discuss it.

6) In order to build up to the release of The Last Dangerous Visions as a major publishing Event, Blackstone Publishing will be releasing all of the DV books in sequence, starting with the original DV in Fall ’23, Again Dangerous Visions Spring 24, and TLDV Fall ’24.

7) A major publisher (holding off on the name pending a formal announcement by the company) recently won the rights to publish Harlan Ellison’s Greatest Hits in a fierce auction between several companies. The book presents 17 of Harlan’s most famous, award-winning stories that span his career. It will be published as a mass-market paperback, audio, kindle, and a collector’s edition illustrated hardcover, setting the stage for a deal to reprint all of Harlan’s prior collections.

Best of all, the book will be distributed through the company’s Classics line, which puts it in the same historical category as books by Kurt Vonnegut, Philip Roth, and other authors who have earned a place in American literature. This means it have a significant presence in bookstores, libraries and universities, will be covered by the mainstream press, and that it will be given the critical attention his work deserves.

Pixel Scroll 11/22/22 File Thing, You Make My Scroll Sing, You Make Everything … Pixelly

(1) NPR’S PICKS OF 2022. NPR has put up its massive list of “Best Books 2022: Books We Love”. It’s sortable by category – this is the button to pull out the 67 “Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Speculative Fiction” titles. The tool will also take you back to any of their annual selections since 2013.

Books We Love! – NPR’s biannual, interactive reading guide – is back for its 10th year with 400+ books published in 2022! Mix and match tags including “Book Club Ideas,” “Eye-Opening Reads,” and “Kids’ Books” to browse titles hand-picked by NPR staff and trusted critics. Click back through a decade of recommendations to find more than 3,200 books – we’ve got your next favorite read and something for every person on your holiday shopping list. Discover the books that comforted, challenged, and captivated us this year.

(2) WHAT DO YOU WANT SANTA TO BRING? Connie Willis, on Facebook, recommends adding Miracle on 34th Street to your Thanksgiving viewing. She does a deep dive into how a real Macy’s parade was filmed for the movie, and has other insights into the actors and actresses.

Thanksgiving is fast upon us, and I have a great movie to recommend (besides the standards we watch every year: PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES and DEAR GOD.) The movie is MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (the original black and white with Edmund Gwenn, Natalie Wood, Maureen O’Hara, and John Payne).

“But that’s a Christmas movie!” I can hear you saying. True, but it actually begins at Thanksgiving, with the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, and, even better, the parade in the movie is the real deal. Yes, the actual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from the year the movie was made, 1946. They filmed the opening sequences with the majorette and the clown and the drunken Santa–“It’s cold! A man’s gotta do SOMETHING to keep warm!”–at the beginning of the parade….

(3) LOCUS FUNDRAISER MAKING PROGRESS. With 23 days left, the Indiegogo for “Locus Magazine: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror” has raised $45,169 of the $75,000 goal with the help of 473 backers. There’s a variety of perks available, such as this one for $30 donors.

(4) WILL IT MAKE A BIG SPLASH? A new trailer for Avatar: The Way of Water – in theaters December 16.

Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, “Avatar: The Way of Water” begins to tell the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri, and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure.

(5) IT’S REALLY AND SINCERELY DEAD. The Department of Justice put out a press release about Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster’s decision to not appeal the district court’s verdict barring their merger deal.

The district court’s decision is a victory for authors, the marketplace of ideas, consumers, and competitive markets. It reinforces the important principle that antitrust laws apply to transactions that harm content creators and workers. The Department is pleased that Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster have opted not to appeal.

(6) RECOMMENDED READING FOR ELON MUSK. Norman Spinrad, for reasons unexplained, wants to place a copy of his forthcoming novella Up and Out in the hands of Elon Musk. He calls on everyone to use their connections and get back to him at [email protected]

ELON MUSK WHERE ARE YOU?
       
It has often been said that no one on the planet is more than 6 steps from anyone else, and I have been trying contact Elon Musk fruitlessly, not surprising, given that he is the richest and maybe one of the most famous people on Earth.  I did not want to ask him for money or anything else.  I simply wanted to give him something that I know he would enjoy, a novella called UP AND OUT, but of course, impossible to get the rtf to him personally.
     
And this is a very personal gift and now it will be published December 13th in the formally January/February issue of  Asimov’s SF Magazine.  So he will be able to buy the issue if he knows about it, and I think he can probably afford it.  

So what I am asking y’all is only to help me tell him.  Given that there are about 200 people getting this, the math would seem to say that the odds are good.  I’m not asking for an email address, or anything else, so this would seem to be possible.

(7) A CLASSIC RESUMES. “’Willow’ Resurrected: The Hard-Fought Story of an Epic Comeback”Vanity Fair tells that story, how it came to pass that Willow will roll again on Disney+ beginning November 30.

Jonathan Kasdan was in the middle of making a Star Wars movie, but his mind kept venturing to an entirely different universe. 

This happened in 2017, when the screenwriter of Solo stood on the Canary Islands set of the movie, watching as one of his idols dropped in for a cameo. Warwick Davis, who was there to play a member of a galactic biker gang, had a long history of playing Star Wars characters, but he was also the star of one of Kasdan’s favorite movies from childhood, the 1988 sword-and-sorcery adventure Willow.

“I asked to be introduced to him,” Kasdan recalls. “I had one of the ADs walk me over, and he was sitting in his foldout chair. I said, ‘I’m Jon Kasdan. I’m one of the writers.’ And he was very nice.” But Kasdan had a not-so-secret agenda. “I said, ‘Listen, I love Willow, and I really think there’s something to be done here. I’m beating the drum loudly with Kathy [Kennedy, Lucasfilm’s president] and with the company.’” Davis lit up. “He immediately was like, ‘Have a seat! Let’s talk more!’” Kasdan says. “We started talking that very minute about what it could be and have never stopped.” 

Five years later, Willow—the new Disney+ series —will debut on November 30. But the journey between that first conversation and the completion of the show was a fraught adventure of its own, sometimes harrowing, sometimes comical, sometimes just awkward. Still, it was driven by a sincere love of this fantasy realm and the unlikely hero at its center.

Today, Kasdan is part of the Lucasfilm brain trust, consulting on multiple projects with his own office at their Disney headquarters, (complete with a sweeping view of Kennedy’s parking space, he jokes). But back in 2017, when he first broached the subject of reviving Willow with Davis on the set of Solo, his credits included writing stints on Dawson’s Creek and Freaks and Geeks, and directing the indie films The First Time and In the Land of Women. Kasdan had leveled up to epics for the first time with Solo, which he had cowritten with his father (Star Wars veteran and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan). He had the experience and the enthusiasm to take on a return to Willow, if not the actual pull at Lucasfilm to make it a reality….

(8) PARADOX LAUNCH EVENT. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.]  I previously sent an image of the cover of Romania’s H. G. Wells SF Society of Timisoara 50 year anniversary edition of Paradox (Pixel Scroll 11/17/22 item #12).

The zine’s launch  took place at the Theresien Bastion (the main section of the former Austrian fortifications that defended Timisoara in 1700s) and it attracted a number of old sci-fi fans and members of the H.G. Wells association. 

I have pictures of the launch courtesy of Silviu Genescu (himself an award-winning author – the Romanian equivalent of the Booker for D is for ‘End’)

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1986 [By Cat Eldridge.] Nutcracker: The Motion Picture 

Christmas long ago was the memory of a dream that seemed never to end. But somewhere in the middle of that dream, I always did wake up, just in time to attend the Christmas party. — Opening lines as said by the adult Clara.

So let’s talk about a most unusual Nutcracker that had the blessing to get filmed. Nutcracker: The Motion Picture, also known as Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker or simply Nutcracker, is was produced thirty-six years ago by the Pacific Northwest Ballet.

So what makes this one worth knowing about? Two words that form a name: Maurice Sendak. 

Choreographer Kent Stowell who the artistic director of the Pacific Northwest Ballet had invited the author-illustrator Maurice Sendak to collaborate on a Nutcracker production in 1979 after his wife and another colleague had seen a Sendak design for a performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute.  

Sendak initially rejected Stowell’s invitation, later explaining why he did so:  

The Nutcrackers I’ve seen have all been dull. You have a simpering little girl, a Christmas party, a tree that gets big. Then you have a variety of people who do dances that seem to go on and on ad nauseam. Technically it’s a mess, too; Acts I and II have practically nothing to do with each other. … What you don’t have is plot. No logic. You have lots of very pretty music, but I don’t enjoy it because I’m a very pedantic, logical person. I want to know why things happen.

He later accepted provided that he could write it so it was in tune with the themes in Hoffmann’s original story. It was extremely popular and it was the annual Christmas show for thirty-one years. 

For reasons too complicated to explain here, I got invited on a personal tour of the backstage area of the Pacific Northwest Ballet building where the scenery and other materials that Sendak had designed for this were stored. To say these were magical is an understatement. And just a tad scary up close. 

Two Disney executives attended the premiere and suggested it’d make a splendid film. Sendak and the Director of the Ballet resisted at first preferring to just film the ballet. But both finally decided to adapt it to a film. That meant Clara’s dream had to be clarified; large portions of the choreography were changed; some of some the original designs underwent revision, and Sendak created additional ones from scratch.

It was shot in ten days on the cheap and critics weren’t particularly kind about the result as they could see the necessary shortcuts taken. Ballard, the Director here as well, responded to criticism about the editing in a later The New York Times interview, noting that the editing was not what he had initially planned, but was because of the tight filming schedule.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 22, 1932 Robert Vaughn. His best-known genre work was as Napoleon Solo in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. with other genre work being in Teenage CavemanStarship InvasionsThe Lucifer ComplexVirusHangar 18Battle Beyond the StarsSuperman III C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D. (seriously who penned that awful title?), Transylvania Twist and Witch Academy. Oh, and he wrote the introduction to The Man from U.N.C.L.E. series companion that came out a generation after the series aired. (Died 2016.)
  • Born November 22, 1940 Terry Gilliam, 82. He’s directed many films of which the vast majority are firmly genre. I think I’ve seen most of them though I though I’ve not seen The Man Who Killed Don QuixoteTidelandThe Zero Theorem or The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. I’ve seen everything else. Yes, I skipped past his start as the animator for Monty Python’s Flying Circus which grew out of his work for the children’s series Do Not Adjust Your Set which had the staff of Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Though he largely was the animator in the series and the films, he did occasionally take acting roles according to his autobiography, particularly roles no one else wanted such those requiring extensive makeup.  He also co-directed a number of scenes. Awards? Of course. Twelve Monkeys is the most decorated with six followed by Brazil with two and Time Bandits and The Fisher King which each have but one.  He’s not won any Hugos though he has been nominated for four — Monty Python and the Holy GrailTime Bandits, Brazil and Twelve Monkeys. My favorite films by him? Oh, the one I’ve watched the most is The Adventures of Baron Munchausen followed by Time Bandits. He’s co-directing and writing the forthcoming Time Bandits series Apple is financing and showing. I’ll subscribe when it’s out.
  • Born November 22, 1943 William Kotzwinkle, 79. Fata Morgana might be in my opinion his best novel though Doctor Rat which he won the World Fantasy Award for is in the running for that honor as well. And his short stories of which there are many are quite excellent too.  Did you know Kotzwinkle wrote the novelization of the screenplay for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial? The usual digital suspects are well stocked with his books.
  • Born November 22, 1949 John Grant. He’d make the Birthday list solely for being involved in the stellar Encyclopedia of Fantasy which won a Hugo at BucConeer.  And he did win another well-deserved Hugo at Noreascon 4 for Best Related Work for The Chesley Awards for Science Fiction and Fantasy Art: A Retrospective.  Most of His short fiction has been set in the Lone Wolf universe though I see that he did a Judge Dredd novel too. (Died 2020.)
  • Born November 22, 1957 Kim Yale. Married to John Ostrander until 1993 when she died of breast cancer, she was a writer whose first work was in the New America series, a spin-off of Truman’s Scout series. With Truman, she developed the Barbara Gordon Oracle character, created the Manhunter series, worked on Suicide Squad, and was an editor at D.C. where she oversaw such licenses as Star Trek: The Next Generation. For First Comics, she co-wrote much of the amazing Grimjack with her husband.
  • Born November 22, 1958 Jamie Lee Curtis, 64. Can we agree that she was the best Scream Queen for her film debut in the 1978 Halloween film in which she played the role of Laurie Strode? No? Well, that’s my claim. Spoilers follow. She followed up with yet more horror films, The Fog and Prom Night. In all, she’s the only character that survives.  She would reprise the role of Laurie in six sequels, including Halloween H20Halloween: ResurrectionHalloween II and Halloween III: Season of the WitchHalloween (a direct sequel to the first Halloween) and Halloween Kills.  She shows up in one of my fave SF films, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as Sandra Banzai but you’ll need to see the director’s extended version as she’s only there in that version. Is True Lies genre? Probably not, but for her performance, Curtis won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the Saturn Award for Best Actress. Damn impressive I’d say.  No, I’m not listing all her films here as OGH would likely start growling. Suffice to say she’s had a very impressive career. 
  • Born November 22, 1984 Scarlett Johansson, 38. Best known perhaps for her role as the Black Widow in the MCU films including the present Black Widow film but she has other genre appearances including playing Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell which was controversial for whitewashing the cast, particularly her character who was supposed to be Japanese. 

(11) JMS WILL WORK WITH AWA. “AWA Studios Enlists Top Creatives to Shepherd Content Derived From Graphic Novels” reports Variety. J. Michael Straczynski is one of the six.

AWA Studios has enlisted Reginald HudlinGregg Hurwitz, Laeta Kalogridis, Joseph Kosinski, Al Madrigal and J. Michael Straczynski to serve on the company’s Creative Council. The council’s charter is for those established players to use their experience and their connections to help AWA writer and graphic artists “unleash the full potential of their characters and stories, providing a diversity of contemporary storytelling perspectives and putting projects in the best position to be scaled across the entertainment ecosystem,” per AWA.

(12) YA THRILLER. At Nerds of a Feather, Elizabeth Fitzgerald reviews a book that won the Norma K. Hemming Award for Long Work: “Microreview [book]: Ghost Bird by Lisa Fuller”.

Ghost Bird belongs most comfortably in the genre of the YA thriller. A certain subsection of this genre likes to play coy about the presence of supernatural elements. Examples include Black by Fleur Ferris, Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein and Flight of the Fantail by Steph Matuku. By the end, each of these books definitively answers whether the speculative elements played with are considered real within the story’s world. Ghost Bird also has definitive answers, making it very at home in this subgenre. However, its identity as an Indigenous Australian Own Voices narrative makes it difficult to call the story a speculative one. After all, referring to what may be a part of a living Indigenous tradition as fantasy or speculative seems neither respectful nor accurate.

Cleverly, this tension between Western and Indigenous thought is one of the central themes of Ghost Bird. The story is written in first person present tense from the perspective of Stacey. She is intelligent, rational and takes her education very seriously — too seriously, according to some of her family, who feel she should be paying more heed to traditional ways…

(13) THE RAVELED SLEEVE OF CARE IS NOT KNITTED UP. Arturo Serrano reviews a disappointing film based on Winsor McCay’s visual innovations: “’Slumberland’ won’t spark your dreams, but it will put you to sleep” at Nerds of a Feather.

A girl loses her father and processes her grief by oversleeping. An emotionally stunted uncle tries to learn childrearing from Google. The complicated interplay of growth and decay makes the future uncertain and scary. If she wants to grow up and stop retreating into fantasies, she’ll have to accept the fact of death, but also help her uncle reconnect with his inner child and dream again.

This setup sounds like it should deliver a full emotional experience, bolstered by the metaphoric possibilities of dream language. Unfortunately, Netflix film Slumberland shows us a muted dreamscape that doesn’t dare embrace the protean qualities of the unconscious mind. When protagonist Nemo ventures into the land of dreams to look for her father, the place looks too rigid, too rational, built on an oppressively linear logic that makes it less Paprika and more Inception. This does not feel like the dream of a child; it feels like an adult’s self-serving memory of what goes on in a child’s mind….

(14) POPULATION CRISIS. Paul Weimer reviews a novel about a world ruled by women where girl children are no longer being born: “Microreview [book]: Scorpica by G.R. McAllister” at Nerds of a Feather.

…Humans are a species that can think in terms of years, decades and generations ahead and to come. Humans are a species that is very concerned with their posterity, as a way of preserving not only their legacy, but establishing the future for their children and their children’s children. And when that posterity is threatened, people, and the societies they inhabit, can come under stress, fracture, and break.

P D James’ novel The Children of Men (and its movie adaptation) explores the death of posterity for the human race by having had no children born in the last 17 years. Mankind is slowly and inexorably aging out to death, and the stresses on people, on society are like an inexorably tightening vise, a ticking clock for humanity. It’s not pretty, even (and perhaps especially) when there is a glimmer of hope that the doom can be averted.

We come to GR McAllister’s Scorpica, which takes a widescreen epic fantasy approach to this scenario. The Five Queendoms (which is also the name of the series that Scorpica starts) are a quintet of fantasy kingdoms which are not just matriarchies, kingdoms ruled by women, but out and out gynarchies. This is a woman’s world, from the fierce fighters of Scorpica to the potent magicians of Arca, the power, authority and social structures are all controlled by women.

So, when the Drought of Girls begins, and girls are no longer being born among any of the five kingdoms, there is indeed a slow moving, inexorably building crisis that strikes the inhabitants of the kingdoms, and the lives of those whom we meet in the book….

(15) GENRE JUSTICE. “Judge John Hodgman on Klingon Cat Names” in the New York Times.

Tyler writes: My partner, who is also named Tyler, wants a second cat. I’m not a fan of cats, so he takes full responsibility for ours. I told him if he adopts another cat, I would get to name it. He agreed. But he doesn’t like the name I’ve chosen — Gowron, after the Chancellor of the Klingon High Council — and insists I choose another.

This one hurts. First, because you presumed I didn’t know who Gowron is. He’s the son of M’Rel, for Kahless’s sake! Second, I suspect you’re just trying to annoy Tyler as punishment for this second cat. Third, it’s obvious this cat should be named Tyler. But a deal is a deal: Gowron it is. At least you did not get clever and suggest “Meowron,” which I’m sure has been done one million times. Readers, let me know how many of you have cats named Chancellor Meowron. Also email me if your dog is named Lieutenant Woof.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. From The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on October 26: “Will Our New Writer George R.R. Martin Finish The Monologue On Time?”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Rambo, ja, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]

Pixel Scroll 11/15/22 One Scroll, Furnished In Early Pixelry

(1) LOCUS OPENS CROWDFUNDING APPEAL. At Tor.com LP Kindred declares “Locus Magazine Is Essential to the SFF Community” which is why you should support its Indiegogo appeal. Donors have responded by giving $17,064 of the $75,000 flexible goal on the first day.

… After 54 years of speculative fiction journalism, we are in danger of losing Locus Magazine. With the rising costs of physical publishing, the mass exodus toward digital, and the rising costs of living, the margins at Locus narrow from month to month. And if no one takes action, we could lose this resource in less than a year.

Contributing reviewers return to publishing reviews for free. The six full-time staff members lose their salaries and benefits. Our community loses the Locus Awards and the honor of the Recommended Reading List. We lose a breadth of speculative journalism including short story and book reviews, spotlights, interviews, acquisition announcements, cover reveals, press releases, articles, essays for, by, and about people in speculative fiction.

I won’t pretend I had a Locus subscription when I got this news. To the contrary, I thought I had time. I thought that was something you acquired when you were farther along in your career. But it’s become clear that if we don’t start contributing to speculative fiction institutions, they might not be here when we think we’re ready for them and they definitely won’t be around for the generations of writers behind mine.

The brass at Locus is dreaming up new ways to be of service to the community at the same time that it’s searching for ways to sustain. By the time you’re reading this, the Indiegogo campaign will be live. There’s a subscription drive in the offing as well as an auction.

In the same way that readership and fundraising are the lifeblood of so many magazines we aspire to and love to read as fiction readers and writers, this journalistic institution needs you and I to help it keep its pages open. It is an archive of science fiction past and present, and Locus needs us to help it carry us into the future.

(2) BACK TO THE FUTURE. Martin Wisse says he is ready to march “Into the glorious future of blogging made possible by Elon Musk – Wis[s]e Words (cloggie.org) at Wis[s]e Words.

Due to the glorious future Twitter is being dragged kicking and screaming into thanks to the inspired leadership of Elon Musk, suupergenius, UI thought it was time to give the ol’ blog a bit of attention again. Not that I haven’t been blogging semi-regularly, but whereas a decade ago I’d hit a post a day fairly regularly, the past couple of years I’ve lucky to get into double digits in a given month. Mostly focused on anime too, as for political and other writing Twitter was just too handy. But if Twitter is going away, will blogs make a comeback?…

(3) SFWA STORYBUNDLE. The SFWA Magical Mysteries StoryBundle of novels with characters that ask “What Am I Doing Here?” is available for through November 30.

The Magical Mysteries StoryBundle features ten fantasy books that have protagonists shaking their heads and wondering how the heck they got into this, whether “this” is discovering a dragon in a coal mine or that they’ve found themselves in a nightmarish game of chess. Join us for tales of burgeoning magic, portal fantasies, strange creatures and … you guessed it: characters who have no idea what’s going on.   

SFWA StoryBundles are collections of ebooks curated by the SFWA Indie Authors Committee and offered at a discounted price. Readers decide what price they want to pay. For $5 (or more, if they’re feeling generous), they get the core bundle of four books in any ebook format available—WORLDWIDE! 

  • The Dragon’s Playlist by Laura Bickle
  • Jester by Geoff Hart
  • Dragon Dreams by Chris A. Jackson
  • Ritual of the Ancients by Roan Rosser

If they pay at least $20, they get all four of the core books, plus six more books, for a total of ten! 

  • The Sister Paradox by Jack Campbell
  • Sorrow and Joy by D.R. Perry
  • Revise The World by Brenda W. Clough
  • The Year’s Midnight by Rachel Neumeier
  • Pawn’s Gambit by Darin Kennedy
  • Spindled by Shanna Swendson

Readers will gain a rich library of fantasy ebooks and can opt to donate part of their purchase price to support SFWA’s ongoing work to promote and support speculative fiction genres and writers. 

(4) SKEPTICISM. The Guardian’s Ismene Ormonde asks “Inspirational passion or paid-for promotion: can BookTok be taken on face value?”

BookTok, the nickname for TikTok videos in which books are discussed, analysed, cried about and turned into “aesthetic” moodboards, began as a small group of the app’s users who wanted a place to talk about books. It has since grown into a hugely influential community that has the power to pluck authors out of relative obscurity and propel them into the bestsellers charts.

Earlier this month it was named FutureBook Person of the Year, an accolade which recognises digital innovation and excellence across the book trade. According to James Stafford, Head of Partnerships and Community at TikTok, BookTok is a community of “creative people around the world with a shared passion for literature”. Publishers, creators and writers have generally agreed that this corner of the platform has had an overwhelmingly positive effect, having led to huge increases in book sales and the discovery of new writers. The Bookseller even recently called it “the last safe place on the internet”….

(5) IMAGINARY PAPERS. The ASU Center for Science and the Imagination has published the latest issue of Imaginary Papers, their quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination.

The issue features an essay by the artist, researcher, and critic Zoyander Street on the 2017 BBC utopian film Carnage, and another on Adolfo Bioy Casares’ 1940 novel The Invention of Morel, by writer, podcaster, and lawyer Jason Tashea, who works on the future of criminal justice. There’s also a brief writeup of Vice Motherboard’s anthology Terraform: Watch/Worlds/Burn.

Carnage (2017)

The year is 2067. A diverse polycule of androgynous young people, wearing what appears to be glittering eye makeup, walk hand in hand through a sunny field, glass pyramids shining on the horizon. Comedian Simon Amstell narrates: “Though we rarely think about it, Britain is now raising the most peaceful and happy humans ever. Violence has been defeated with compassion, depression cured with intimacy.”

Carnage is a feature-length mockumentary written and directed by Amstell, and published on the BBC’s iPlayer in March 2017. In its utopian future, British people now live in harmony with nature and do not eat meat or animal products. Audiences are invited to reflect on Britain’s history of “carnism,” a term adopted to refer to the archaic practice of eating animals and animal-derived products. Their history is our present, so the film is a darkly comic appraisal of intergenerational trauma in the making. Characters represent the perspectives of different generations: millennial seniors undergo group therapy to process their shame at having participated in a system of abuse, while the generation reaching adulthood in the 2060s tries to make sense of the atrocities committed by their parents and grandparents….

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1951 [By Cat Eldridge.] Strangers on a Train 

Seventy-one years ago, Strangers on a Train premiered. It’s a classic film noir which was produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

It was based on the Strangers on a Train novel by Patricia Highsmith that she had written just the previous year. Hitchcock secured the rights to the novel for only $7,500 since it was her first novel. As per his practice, he kept his name out of the negotiations to keep the purchase price low. Naturally she was quite angry when she later discovered who bought the rights for such a pitiful amount.

IF YOU DON’T LIKE SPOILERS, MAY I SUGGEST YOU GO TO THE BAR NOW? 

On a train, two strangers meet and swap the idea of murders — Bruno, who is actually a psychopath, suggests he kill Guy’s wife Miriam and Guy kill Bruno’s hated father. Each will murder a stranger, with no apparent motive, so neither will be suspected. The perfect murders. Or so they think oh so smugly.

Apparently they vary out the murders, or do they? Miriam shows up alive, Guy actually has no attention of killing Bruno’s father which leads to, of all things a fight between them on carnival wheel that mortally wounds .Bruno

I’ve no idea why the psychopath didn’t kill his victim, nor does Hitchcock give us a clue. 

Sometime later, another stranger on a train attempts to strike up conversation with Guy in the same way as had Bruno with Guy, about Anne, the daughter of the US Senator he wants to marry (which is why he wants to kill his still alive wife — don’t think about that too long) but Guy turns and walks away from him.

ENJOY YOUR DRINK IN THE BAR? COME ON BACK. 

Hitchcock hated the leads, Farley Granger as Guy Haines,  Ruth Roman as Anne Morton and Robert Walker as Bruno, as the Studio which paid for the production would be the one that choose the performers. He openly scorned Ruth Roman throughout the production saying she was “lacking in sex appeal”. 

(Warner Bros. wanted their own stars, already under contract, cast wherever possible. All studios did this because it was considerably cheaper than hiring freelancers. Hitchcock of course thought money was no object and bitterly complained.) 

Though critics at the time were at best lukewarm, audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes are giving it a ninety eight percent rating. And it did great at the box office — the production costs were just one point six million dollars and it made seven million in its initial run. Very impressive. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 15, 1877 William Hope Hodgson. By far, his best known character is Thomas Carnacki, featured in several of his most famous stories and at least partly based upon Algernon Blackwood’s occult detective John Silence. (Simon R. Green will make use of him in his Ghost Finders series.)  Two of his later novels, The House on the Borderland and The Night Land would be lavishly praised by H.P. Lovecraft. While serving as a Lieutenant in the army, he was killed by the direct impact of an artillery shell at the Fourth Battle of Ypres in April 1918. (Died 1918.)
  • Born November 15, 1879 Lewis Stone. He was Lord John Roxton in The Lost World which premiered here in 1925 making it one of the earliest cinematic adaptations of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel. If you define Treasure Island as genre, that’s his only other genre role where he’s Captain Smollett. (Died 1953.)
  • Born November 15, 1929 Ed Asner. Genre work includes roles on Alfred Hitchcock PresentsThe Outer Limits, Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaThe Girl from U.N.C.L.E.The InvadersThe Wild Wild WestMission: ImpossibleShelley Duvall’s Tall Tales & LegendsBatman: The Animated Series and I’ll stop there as the list goes on for quite awhile. (Died 2021.)
  • Born November 15, 1933 Theodore Roszak. Winner of the Tiptree Award for The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein (1995), and the rather excellent Flicker which is well worth reading. Flicker is available at the usual suspects, and his only other available fiction is his Japanese folktales. Odd. (Died 2011.)
  • Born November 15, 1934 Joanna Barnes. Genre work includes roles on Planet of the Apes TV series and Fantasy Island. (Died 2022.)
  • Born November 15, 1942 Ruth Berman, 80. She’s a writer of mostly speculative poetry. In 2003, she won the Rhysling Award for Best Short Poem for “Potherb Gardening”, and in 2016 for “Time Travel Vocabulary Problems”.  She was the winner of the 2006 Dwarf Stars Award for her poem “Knowledge Of”.  She’s also written one YA fantasy novel, Bradamant’s quest. In 1973, she was a finalist for the first Astounding Award for Best New Writer. She edited the Dunkiton Press genre zine for a decade or so.  She was nominated for Best Fan Writer Hugo at Baycon (1968). Impressive indeed. 
  • Born November 15, 1972 Jonny Lee Miller, 50. British actor and director who played Sherlock Holmes on the exemplary Elementary series, but his first genre role was as a  nine year-old with the Fifth Doctor story, “Kinda”. While he’s had a fairly steady stage, film, and TV career across the pond since then, it’s only in the last decade that he’s become well-known in the States – unless, like JJ, you remember that twenty-three years ago he appeared in a technothriller called Hackers, with another unknown young actor named Angelina Jolie (to whom he ended up married, until they separated eighteen months months later). Other genre appearances include a trio of vampire films, Dracula 2000Dark Shadows, and Byzantium, the live-action Æon Flux movie, and the lead in the pseudo-fantasy TV series Eli Stone. (JJ) 

(8) NO NEWS MAY BE GOOD NEWS. J. Michael Straczyski told Twitter “’Babylon 5′ reboot could still happen, if we’re patient” reports SYFY Wire.

It’s been a little more than a year since news of a potential reboot of Babylon 5 surfaced over at The CW. Since then things have stalled in a big way, and remained stalled as The CW goes through major changes after its purchase by Nexstar Media Group. So, what does all that upheaval mean for our chances at more B5? According to creator J. Michael Straczynski, it means we wait, and it’s as simple as that….

(9) THE UPSIDE DOWN. If you’re in LA and have a few extra bucks, you can enter into “Stranger Things: The Experience”.

EVER WANTED TO BE THE PROTAGONIST OF A STRANGER THINGS ADVENTURE?

Your chance has arrived. Stranger Things: The Experience throws you headfirst into your favorite show —join Eleven, Dustin, Mike, Lucas, Max, and Will for a very special episode starring… you! Venture inside Hawkins Lab for a 45 mins. immersive experience featuring a brand-new Stranger Things storyline, then explore an 80’s-themed Mix-Tape medley with food & drinks, special merchandise, photo ops, and much more.

(10) THEIR COPYEDITOR MUST BE MY COUSIN. [Item by Daniel Dern.] From a tech PR email pitch:

Subject: Hackers using stenography for malware attacks – expert source

Daniel Dern adds, “They did get the term correct within the text – ‘steganography’ – and their response to my politely noting the hiccup, was as I expected, ‘Damn autocorrect!’”

(11) A GAME THAT TEACHES BIODIVERSITY PROTECTION. Nature Kin is a collaborative card game to help young people and families cultivate ecological literacy. The game puts players in charge of an open space where they and their friends race to find a home for 28 different native plants, animals, and insects.

Patrick Coleman (assistant director, Clarke Center) created the game with the help of his two young daughters, who adore the abundant nature we have in San Diego County: one of the top ten biodiversity hotspots in the country.

They have launched an Indiegogo campaign to help bring that game to the world and as of today it has raised $783 of the $1500 flexible goal.

Also, for every set purchased during the Indiegogo campaign, they will donate one set to a young person through a school or community outreach program, doubling your impact, and donate $5 to Project Wildlife (part of the San Diego Humane Society), a wildlife rehabilitation program that gives injured, orphaned, and sick wild animals a second chance at life.

(12) LOCAL STONES. Here’s a flyby comparison of all the moons of Uranus and Neptune – except the flyby is set above a familiar cityscape for real impact. I never knew how many moons look more like potatoes than billiard balls.

All known moons of the planets Uranus and Neptune, arranged in order of size. Uranus has 27 moons discovered so far and Neptune has 14. Some moons are known with Triton, Miranda or Titania, but there are many more smaller moons that are little known.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/22/22 In Dyson’s Sphere, Did Noonian Khan, A Scrolly Fuller Dome Decree

(1) WHAT’S UP AT THE LOST AZTEC TEMPLE OF MARS? Heritage Auctions’ recent article “Harlan Ellison Collection Continues With Showcase Auction November 12th” features an interview with J. Michael Straczynski, giving a substantial update on plans for Harlan and Susan Ellison’s house.  

[Robert Wilonsky]: It’s my understanding that the sale of this artwork in November will go toward turning his home into a landmark and learning center. Can you provide some details on that, in terms of what you’d like to see happen – and how this project came to pass?

[J. Michael Straczynski]: Harlan and Susan wanted the house maintained after their passing as a memorial library, full of books (50,000 by actual count), art (the pieces in the Heritage auction represent only a small portion of what’s there), comics, amazing architecture (complete with a tower, hidden rooms, gargoyles and the Lost Aztec Temple of Mars)…a place dedicated to writing, to creativity and art and music. This is now in progress.

To ensure that things are done properly now and in the event I get hit by a car, the Estate has been transitioned into a nonprofit corporation, the Harlan and Susan Ellison Foundation. Through the Estate and, later, the Foundation, the house has been and is undergoing a series of restorations. New security systems, landscaping, repairs and the like. We want people to be able to come in small groups for tours…fans of Harlan’s work, sure, but also lovers of art and books and architecture, as well as academics who will be able to study his manuscripts and decades of correspondences with some of the most famous writers in and out of the science fiction genre. We want to host speakers talking about writing, rotating displays of art from Disney animation to comics and art deco and rare books…we’re creating an outdoor space for lectures and perhaps a wedding or two. We are also planning to secure historical/cultural landmark status for the house.

There will be scholarships set aside for new writers coming out of high school, and donations to the kind of charitable causes Harlan supported in life. To bring the house alive, we will have audio playing through the house: Harlan reading his stories in one room, speaking at a convention or a party in another, and from the writing room upstairs, his office, the sound of jazz and a typewriter. (In keeping with the Disneyland tradition where the park is never silent at night, we may keep the jazz and typewriter going 24/7.) There will be projected video displays of Harlan and Susan in various rooms, and seminars on his work and his place in literature. We are also arranging for his back catalog of books to be republished, and plan to host launch parties at the house for critics and others in the press.

Harlan deserves a special place in American letters, and his home, the Harlan and Susan Memorial Library, deserves a special place in the geography of Los Angeles, and the funds raised through this auction will be crucial to accomplishing those goals.

(2) SUBTLE AS A SLEDGEHAMMER. Norman Spinrad today sent his mailing list a link to his 2018 song “Donald Trump Agent of Satan” with the admonition, “Do I have to say that this song, video, words, is  more urgent  than ever before ? Pro bono on line, on the air, viralized, in the streets, in the churches, use it in the coming elections.”

(3) YOU’RE THE TOPS. The New York Times analyzes “How Colleen Hoover Rose to Rule the Best-Seller List”. Some of her work is genre.

…She holds six of the top 10 spots on The New York Times’s paperback fiction best-seller list, a stunning number of simultaneous best sellers from a single author. She has sold 8.6 million print books this year alone — more copies than the Bible, according to NPD BookScan.

And her success — a shock that she’s still processing, she said — has upended the publishing industry’s most entrenched assumptions about what sells books.

When she self-published her first young adult novel, “Slammed,” in January of 2012, Hoover was making $9 an hour as a social worker, living in a single-wide trailer with her husband, a long-distance truck driver, and their three sons. She was elated when she made $30 in royalties. It was enough to pay the water bill.

Hoover, 42, didn’t have a publisher, an agent or any of the usual marketing machinery that goes into engineering a best seller: the six-figure marketing campaigns, the talk-show and podcast tours, the speaking gigs and literary awards, the glowing reviews from mainstream book critics.

But seven months later, “Slammed” hit the New York Times best-seller list. By May, Hoover had made $50,000 in royalties, money she used to pay back her stepfather for the trailer. By the summer, with two books on the best-seller list — “Slammed” and a sequel, “Point of Retreat,” — she quit her job to write full time.

Her success has happened largely on her terms, led by readers who act as her evangelists, driving sales through ecstatic online reviews and viral reaction videos.

Her fans, who are mostly women, call themselves CoHorts and post gushing reactions to her books’ devastating climaxes. A CoHo fan who made the following plea on TikTok is typical: “I want Colleen Hoover to punch me in the face. That would hurt less than these books.”

So far in 2022, five of the top 10 best-selling print books of any genre are Hoover’s, according to NPD BookScan, and many of her current best-sellers came out years ago, a phenomenon that’s almost unheard-of in publishing….

(4) IN THE YEAR 2484. “Restored Sci-Fi Series ‘The Visitors’ Unveiled by WDR”Variety tells how it happened.

German broadcasting group WDR is traveling back in time with the newly restored 1983 cult sci-fi series “The Visitors.”

The Czechoslovakian show is set in 2484, a utopian future in which humanity is united under one common government, advised in all decisions by a computer known as “the central thinker,” and where hunger, disease and war have been eradicated. When Earth finds itself suddenly threatened by an imminent collision with a comet, however, leading academic Filip and three comrades travel back to 1984 in a contemporary-looking Lada Niva in search of a lost formula that enables the shifting of planets, which could save Earth.Created by Ota Hofman and Jindřich Polák, the team behind the classic 1970s Czechoslovak children’s series “Pan Tau,” “The Visitors” was known domestically as “Návštěvníci,” “Die Besucher” in West Germany and “Expedition Adam 84” in East Germany….

(5) A MCFLY IN THE BIG APPLE. “‘Back to the Future’ Musical to Open on Broadway Next Summer” reports the New York Times. Coincidentally, this is the production that will follow The Music Man at the Winter Garden Theater.

Filmdom’s most famous DeLorean is getting ready to park itself on Broadway.

A musical adaptation of the hit 1985 film “Back to the Future” is planning to open on Broadway next summer, its producers announced Friday. (Look at your calendar: Friday is Oct. 21, which is when devoted fans celebrate “Back to the Future Day.”)

The musical, with a creative team that combines veterans of the film with some Broadway stalwarts, has already had a life in Britain.

It had an ill-timed opening at the Manchester Opera House on March 11, 2020; that production closed a few days later because of the coronavirus pandemic. The show then transferred to London last fall, where it has had much better luck: It won this year’s Olivier Award for best new musical, and it is still running at the Adelphi Theater.

…“Back to the Future: The Musical” features a book by Bob Gale, the screenwriter who co-wrote and co-produced all three films, and songs by Alan Silvestri, who composed the film’s score, as well as Glen Ballard, a record producer and songwriter. The musical also includes pop songs featured in the film, including “The Power of Love.”

The director is John Rando, who in 2002 won a Tony Award for “Urinetown.”…

(6) DRAWN THAT WAY. “A.I.-Generated Art Is Already Transforming Creative Work” but the creative professionals interviewed by the New York Times don’t sound worried.

…These apps, though new, are already astoundingly popular. DALL-E 2, for example, has more than 1.5 million users generating more than two million images every day, while Midjourney’s official Discord server has more than three million members.

These programs use what’s known as “generative A.I.,” a type of A.I. that was popularized several years ago with the release of text-generating tools like GPT-3 but has since expanded into images, audio and video.

It’s still too early to tell whether this new wave of apps will end up costing artists and illustrators their jobs. What seems clear, though, is that these tools are already being put to use in creative industries.

Recently, I spoke to five creative-class professionals about how they’re using A.I.-generated art in their jobs.

… Patrick Clair, 40, a filmmaker in Sydney, Australia, started using A.I.-generated art this year to help him prepare for a presentation to a film studio.

Mr. Clair, who has worked on hit shows including “Westworld,” was looking for an image of a certain type of marble statue. But when he went looking on Getty Images — his usual source for concept art — he came up empty. Instead, he turned to DALL-E 2.

“I put ‘marble statue’ into DALL-E, and it was closer than what I could get on Getty in five minutes,” Mr. Clair said.

Since then, he has used DALL-E 2 to help him generate imagery, such as the above image of a Melbourne tram in a dust storm, that isn’t readily available from online sources.

He predicted that rather than replacing concept artists or putting Hollywood special effects wizards out of a job, A.I. image generators would simply become part of every filmmaker’s tool kit.

“It’s like working with a really willful concept artist,” he said.

“Photoshop can do things that you can’t do with your hands, in the same way a calculator can crunch numbers in a way that you can’t in your brain, but Photoshop never surprises you,” he continued. “Whereas DALL-E surprises you, and comes back with things that are genuinely creative.”

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1972 [By Cat Eldridge.] The Screaming Woman

It’s interesting to discover what has been produced based on the works of Bradbury.  Fifty years ago, the ABC network acquired Bradbury’s “The Screaming Woman” story, first published in The Graveyard Reader in 1958. 

The story was based on his 1948 radio play for the CBS show Suspense. The movie script was written by Merwin Gerard. The film was produced by Universal Television and originally aired as an ABC Movie of the Week on January 29, 1972. Bradbury often wrote stories off radio plays that he had done. 

OOOH SPOILERS BE HERE!

A very rich woman — a released mental patient — is now home on her remote estate to recuperate. While out on the grounds one day she hears the screams of a woman who has been buried alive. Her family, however, adamantly refuses to believe her, and takes the opportunity to prove she’s insane, so they can take control of her estate.

STILL THERE? COME ON BACK. 

Ok, skip this not all horrific version and read on for another version that you should see instead. That version is scary, makes sense and faithful to our writer.  

It had a rather good cast in Olivia de Havilland, Ed Nelson, Laraine Stephens and Joseph Cotten.  However what it did not have is a script that in any manner what so ever resembled the story that Bradbury wrote. Seriously I have no idea why they needed to buy his script given that the plot is an age old one that has been used over and over. 

Now don’t be confused if you think seen a different version as the Ray Bradbury Theater would also do this fourteen years later. Not surprisingly that version was completely faithful to his story as Bradbury wrote the script. The Ray Bradbury Theater is streaming on Paramount +.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 22, 1908 John Zaremba. Best remembered for his role as Zaremba in The Time Tunnel, though I’m also noting that he had a rather amazing eleven appearances on Alfred Hitchcock Presents as well.  In the Fifties, he appeared in three SF films: The Magnetic Monster as Chief Watson, in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers in the role of Prof. Kanter, and lastly in Frankenstein’s Daughter as Police Lt. Boyle. He had later one-offs on Fantasy IslandTwilight ZoneBatmanInvadersWild Wild West, Munsters, Mission: Impossible and Get Smart!. (Note: If I don’t note which version of a series it is, it’s the original.) (Died 1986.)
  • Born October 22, 1938 Derek Jacobi, 84. He was Professor Yana in “Utopia”, a Tenth Doctor story. He’s played Metatron on Good Omens. And he was Magisterial Emissary in The Golden Compass. I’ll single out that he’s played Macbeth at Barbican Theatre in London as part of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre ensemble.
  • Born October 22, 1938 Christopher Lloyd, 84. He has starred as Commander Kruge in The Search for Spock, Emmett “Doc” Brown in the Back to the Future trilogy, Judge Doom in the most excellent Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and played a wonderful Uncle Fester in The Addams Family and the Addams Family Values. (Though I admit didn’t spot him in that makeup.) Let’s not forget that he was in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as John Bigbooté, and he played Dr. Cletus Poffenberger in a recurring role on Tremors.
  • Born October 22, 1939 Suzy McKee Charnas,83. I’d say The Holdfast Chronicles are her best work to date. “Boobs” won the Best Story Hugo at ConFiction. Her Beauty and the Opéra or The Phantom Beast novelette was a nominee at LoneStarCon 2. She’s also won the Otherwise, Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature, Nebula, Gaylactic Spectrum, and Lambda Literary Awards. Any of you read her Sorcery Hall series? 
  • Born October 22, 1943 Jim Baen. Editor of Galaxy and If for three years. He edited the sf line at Ace ad then Tor before starting his own namesake company in 1983. In late 1999, he started Webscriptions, now called Baen Ebooks, which is considered to be the first profitable e-book service. He also was the editor of Destinies and New Destinies which I remember fondly. He was nominated for Best Editor Hugo five times between 1975 and 1981 but never won. At Nippon 2007, he’d be nominated for Best Editor, Long Form. (Died 2006.)
  • Born October 22, 1952 Jeff Goldblum, 70. The Wiki page gushes over him for being in Jurassic Park and Independence Day (as well as their sequels, The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Independence Day: Resurgence), but neglects my favorite film with him in it, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, not to mention the Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake he was in. Well, I do really like Independence Day. Though not even genre adjacent, he’s got a really nice run on Law and Order: Criminal Intent as Zack Nichols.
  • Born October 22, 1958 Keith Parkinson.  An illustrator known for book covers and artwork for games such as EverQuestMagic: The Gathering and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. Book cover wise, he’s remembered for covers for Terry Goodkind, Margaret Weis, Terry Brooks, and David Eddings. He died of leukemia in 2005, just four days after his 47th birthday. (Died 2005.)
  • Born October 22, 1960 Dafydd ab Hugh, 62. “The Coon Rolled Down and Ruptured His Larinks, A Squeezed Novel by Mr. Skunk” originally printed in Asimov’s Science Fiction, was nominated for a Nebula Award. He writes a lot of Trek novels, mostly set on the Deep Space Nine series. All of his fiction is media ties save as EoSF notes, “The Arthur War Lord sequence, comprising Arthur War Lord (1994) and Far Beyond the Wave (1994), is sf with a fantasy coloration. This features the adventures of a man who, via Time Travel convention, chases a female CIA agent into Arthurian times, where she is attempting to assassinate the king, and thus to change history.” Sounds potentially interesting. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) DON’T BLINK. “NASA’s New James Webb Shot Is Much Better When You Put Googly Eyes on It” decides Futurism.

…On Wednesday, NASA released the latest cosmic photo snapped by its James Webb Space Telescope: an absolutely mesmerizing shot of the space dust-filled star nursery known as the Pillars of Creation.

Then, a day later, a new photo dropped. Twitter user ScienceSocks — definitely not NASA — put googly eyes on the Pillars, because of course they did….

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Halloween Ends Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George, in a spoiler-filled episode, has the producer explain that what the writer is pitching is “A Halloween reboot/sequel/sequel/sequel.” Michael Myers, who in the last episode was so strong that he fought an entire town, is now so weak that he has been living in a sewer as “a geriatric Pennywise the clown.” But after a third character’s rise and fall, we get the final battle between Laurie Strode and Michael Myers, which pits “an old weak sewer guy versus a grandmother.” “Angry grandmothers are tight!” the excited producer says.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/4/22 TANSTAFE! (There Ain’t No Such Thing As Free Elevenses)

(1) MEASURED BY ANOTHER YARDSTICK. “Too Dystopian for Whom? A Continental Nigerian Writer’s Perspective” by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki at Uncanny Magazine.

It is a common conception that people come to fiction, especially the speculative, to escape reality. And that is indeed one of the purposes it can serve. Another is that conversely to escaping, people come to fiction to encounter or experience reality. A paradox? After all, we already live in reality, one that is ubiquitous. We have it all around us, painfully so sometimes. Hence the need for an escape. But you see, reality has different facets, different windows, like eyes, that reveal different vistas.

This is why the consumption of fiction and SF/F based on other cultures and by people of other demographics is a necessity. Doing so helps us diversify our understanding and encounter all these different realities that lie beyond our immediate purview. What we are often steeped in is our own immediate reality, which is, while occasionally painful, also painfully limited.

It has often been surmised, most especially around discussions of war, climate change, natural disasters, and more recently the outbreak of COVID-19, in articles like this in Wired and on The Apeiron Blog we are living in a dystopia. This realization has weaned many of the need for apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, and dystopian fiction, and has them preferring instead to immerse themselves in lighter, more upbeat and positive work. This is of course valid, as we all must do what we feel right. But beyond personal preferences of individuals for lighter, “happier” works in this period of gloom, there is a wider and more general assertion that dystopias, apocalypses, grimdark, dark fantasy, and the like are now unnecessary because we live in and have it all around us. A Publishers Weekly piece talks about dystopian fiction losing its lustre due to the pandemic and spells doom for the subgenre of doom. But is this really so? In a viral tweet, the account tweets its disagreement, which I quite agree with, saying that “Dystopian fiction is when you take things that happen in real life to marginalized populations and apply them to people with privilege.” The dystopian reality is not new and has been with us for a while. Its fictionalizing continues till date despite those debates regarding its relevance or necessity….

(2) FINALIST NUMBER ONE. Mark Lawrence has started posting finalists for the 8th Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off. The first (and as of today only) finalist is Tethered Spirits by T.A. Hernandez.

(3) NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSICS. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences today announced the winners of “The Nobel Prize in Physics 2022: Entangled states – from theory to technology”.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics 2022 to
Alain Aspect, Université Paris-Saclay and École Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France,
John F. Clauser, J.F. Clauser & Assoc., Walnut Creek, CA, USA and
Anton Zeilinger, University of Vienna, Austria

Alain Aspect, John Clauser and Anton Zeilinger have each conducted groundbreaking experiments using entangled quantum states, where two particles behave like a single unit even when they are separated. Their results have cleared the way for new technology based upon quantum information.

The ineffable effects of quantum mechanics are starting to find applications. There is now a large field of research that includes quantum computers, quantum networks and secure quantum encrypted communication.

One key factor in this development is how quantum mechanics allows two or more particles to exist in what is called an entangled state. What happens to one of the particles in an entangled pair determines what happens to the other particle, even if they are far apart….

(4) THE ONION ISN’T KIDDING. “Area Man Is Arrested for Parody. The Onion Files a Supreme Court Brief.”  — the New York Times covers the litigation.

A man who was arrested over a Facebook parody aimed at his local police department is trying to take his case to the Supreme Court. He has sought help from an unlikely source, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Monday.

“Americans can be put in jail for poking fun at the government?” the brief asked. “This was a surprise to America’s Finest News Source and an uncomfortable learning experience for its editorial team.”

The source is, of course, The Onion.

Or, as the satirical website described itself in the brief, “the single most powerful and influential organization in human history.”

The Parma, Ohio, area man in question, Anthony Novak, spent four days in jail over a Facebook page he created in 2016 that mocked his local police department. He was charged with using a computer to disrupt police functions, but a jury found him not guilty.

Mr. Novak says his civil rights were violated, and he is trying to sue the city for damages. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit earlier this year, saying that the police had qualified immunity, and an appeals court upheld that decision. Now the high court is reviewing his request to take up the matter….

(5) STAR TREK SANDWICH. According to Boing Boing, “Harlan Ellison auction includes the world’s most (in)famous “Star Trek” photo”.

Heritage Auction’s upcoming auction of Harlan Ellison’s estate contains a wealth of memorabilia, including a photo of young Harlan flanked by Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner in full character costume. Nimoy inscribed the photo with, “Harlan, Love you & your great credits,” and Shatner wrote, “Who’s the kid in the middle.”

Heritage says the photo is “sure to be one of the most fought-over, sought-after items in Heritage’s history.”

…Proceeds from the sale will benefit the Harlan and Susan Ellison Foundation, a nonprofit created by Straczynski. The foundation is working to turn the late couple’s Los Angeles home into what Straczynski calls “a place dedicated to writing, creativity, art and music.”

It will be a “memorial library,” he says, “full of books (50,000 by actual count), art (the pieces in the Heritage auction represent only a small portion of what’s there), comics, amazing architecture (complete with a tower, hidden rooms, gargoyles and the Lost Aztec Temple of Mars).” Straczynski says it will serve “fans of Harlan’s work, sure, but also lovers of art and books and architecture, as well as academics who will be able to study his manuscripts and decades of correspondences with some of the most famous writers in and out of the science fiction genre.”

(6) DEBUT NOVEL OF FAMED COMICS CREATOR. Grant Morrison discusses their first novel at CrimeReads. “Grant Morrison on Gender, Genre, and Drag”.

Molly Odintz: Luda is all about the instability of identity, exemplified by drag. What did you want to say about the identities we are assigned, and assume?

Grant Morrison: At the simplest level, I suppose I want to say that ‘identity’, at least from my point of view, appears to be conditional and refuses to be contained by any label; how does the ‘identity’ of a person as a two year old child square with that same person’s alleged ‘identity’ as a 40-year old or as a dying 90-year old in a failing physical frame – our bodies and minds and how we feel about ourselves, and who we are within a larger constantly shifting and rearranging system, are subject to such radical transformations over decades that were we to speed a human life up to last ten minutes rather than 80 years the result would resemble a radical metamorphic shifting of shape and size, intellectual capacity and ‘personality’. The idea of a single label adequate to that process seems absurd.

(7) SOCIAL MEDIA CRITICISM AGAINST GRRM COAUTHORS. George R.R. Martin’s tweet publicizing a forthcoming Westeros reference book opened floodgates of criticism against his coauthors Linda Antonsson and Elio M. García Jr.

Variety reported today “‘Game of Thrones’ Fans Boycott George R.R. Martin’s Next Book, Accusing Coauthors of Racism”.

Bestselling fantasy author and “House of the Dragon” executive producer George R.R. Martin is caught in the crossfire of the heated battle over inclusive casting — and some of his fans are calling for a boycott of his upcoming book due to comments by its coauthors.

Out Oct. 25, “The Rise of the Dragon: An Illustrated History of the Targaryen Dynasty, Volume One” is being touted as a “deluxe reference book” for those itching to learn more about Westeros’ most powerful family. When Martin publicized it on social media last week, thousands of fans responded in outrage, many calling out the problematic behavior and “history of racism” of his coauthors, married couple Linda Antonsson and Elio M. García Jr. “I will not be buying anything with Linda and Elio attached to it,” one wrote, while others urged Martin to sever ties with the pair….

…Antonsson contends that upset fans are criticizing “cherry-picked statements stripped of context.” She tells Variety that it bothers her to be “labeled a racist, when my focus has been solely on the world building.” According to the author, she has no issue with inclusive casting, but she strongly believes that “diversity should not trump story.”

“If George had indeed made the Valyrians Black instead of white, as he mused on his ‘Not a Blog’ in 2013, and this new show proposed to make the Velaryons anything other than Black, we would have had the same issue with it and would have shared the same opinion,” Antonsson says.

Vulture carries more documentation: “’Game of Thrones’ Book Co-Authors Accused of Racism by Fans”.

…Married couple Linda Antonsson and Elio M. García Jr., who founded the fansite Westeros.org and have worked as fact-checkers on Martin’s novels, have decried the casting of people of color in Game of Thrones for over a decade. In 2011 and 2012, Antonsson made numerous Tumblr posts saying that most of Westeros, including Dorne, and many of the overseas lands, should be considered “very white indeed,” and getting angry and defensive at any suggestions from “whiny social justice crusaders” to the contrary. Antonsson insists that the only correct interpretation of the books is that “Unremarked skin colour=>white.”

“If you start talking about there being a need — a need outside of what is in the text — to cast actors of certain ethnicites [sic] even if their appearance doesn’t match at all what’s in the text … well, fuck that, plain and simple,” she wrote in May 2012. “I don’t respect that approach, never have and never will, and that is a perfectly valid decision. It has nothing to do with racism, so kindly go fuck yourself with something sharp and pointy.” She disapproved of the casting of a Black actor as Xaro Xhoan Daxos because that character was described as “pale” in the books, and celebrated the casting of a white actor to play Daario Naharis because of his race. In 2021, after the casting of Steve Touissant as Corlys VelaryonAntonsson wrote on Twitter, “Take your woke fucking stupidity and shove it up you ass. Corlys is miscast, there are no black Valyrians and there should not be any in the show.”…

(8) BIG DEALS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber discusses the appeal of card games.

The influence of cards is more notable in the popular genre of ‘deck-building’ games.  These titles such as Slay The Spire and the enormously popular Hearthstone, from World Of Warcraft creator Blizzard, prove particularly compelling because they augment cards with all the capabilities of digital technology, offering seamless online multi-player modes, visual pyrotechnics and an eternally expanding set of possible cards from which to choose…

…The enduring presence of cards is credit to their adaptability.  Cards are not a game in themselves but a highly flexible medium which can be used as metaphors for combat, vehicles for strategy or links to a long lineage of play that stretches far back into human history.  Today you can build memories out of houses of cards in Where Cards Fall or use cards as units of dialogue in Signs Of The Sojourner.  Rather than killing off the humble playing card, video games have given them thousands of fresh possibilities.

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

1965 [By Cat Eldridge.] Fifty-seven years ago on the BBC, Out of this World series first aired. It. produced by the BBC and broadcast on BBC2 in four series. 

It was created and produced by Irene Shubik while she was working on Armchair Theatre as a story editor. In the highly patriarchal workplace of the Sixties BBC, it was unusual that was allowed to do this. 

(Very much to her credit, she was involved in The Jewel in the Crown undertaking, a most impressive series indeed.)

She was aided by the fact that Armchair Theatre had done an adaptation of John Wyndham’s “Dumb Martian” story as a deliberate showcase for the Out of this World series. 

It lasted but thirteen episodes of which one survives today as the BBC bulk erased them, the ass****s. Too bad as Boris Karloff presented it and the stories were based off tales written by Clifford D. Simak (“Immigrant”), Isaac Asimov (“Little Lost Robot”) which is the only one that survives which the British Film Institute has released on DVD and Philip K. Dick (“Impostor”). 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 4, 1860 Sidney Edward Paget. British illustrator of the Victorian era, he’s definitely known for his illustrations that accompanied Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories in The Strand. He also illustrated Arthur Morrison’s Martin Hewitt, Investigator, a series of short stories featuring the protagonist, Martin Hewitt, and written down by his good friend, the journalist Brett. These came out after Holmes was killed off, like many similar series. (Died 1908.)
  • Born October 4, 1904 Earl Binder. Under the pen name of Eando Binder, he and his brother Otto published SF stories. One series was about a robot named Adam Link. The first such story, published in 1939, is titled “I, Robot”. (A collection by Asimov called I, Robot would be published in 1950. The name was selected by the publisher, despite Asimov’s wishes.) As Eando Binder, they wrote three SF novels — Enslaved BrainsDawn to Dusk and Lords of Creation. There’s lots of Eando Binder available on iBooks and Kindle. (Died 1966.)
  • Born October 4, 1923 Charlton Heston. Without doubt, his best known genre role was astronaut George Taylor in the Planet of the Apes. He returned to the role Beneath the Planet of the Apes. He’s also Neville in The Omega Man, and Detective Thorne in Soylent Green. By the way, once at the LA Music Center he played Sherlock Holmes in The Crucifer of Blood, opposite Richard Johnson as Dr. Watson. His IMDB credits show him as being on SeaQuest DSV in the “Abalon” episode. (Died 2008.)
  • Born October 4, 1932 Ann Thwaite, 90. Author of AA Milne: His Life which won the Whitbread Biography of the Year, as well as The Brilliant Career of Winnie-the Pooh, a scrapbook offshoot of the Milne biography. (And yes, Pooh is genre.) In 2017 she updated her 1990 biography of A.A Milne to coincide with Goodbye Christopher Robin for which she was a consultant. 
  • Born October 4, 1956 Christoph Waltz, 66. He portrayed James Bond’s nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Spectre and in No Time to Die. Genre wise, he also portrayed Qohen Leth in The Zero Theorem, Benjamin Chudnofsky in The Green Hornet (I lasted ten minutes before giving up), Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers, himself in Muppets Most Wanted, Léon Rom in The Legend of Tarzan and Dr. Dyson Ido in Alita: Battle Angel
  • Born October 4, 1956 Bill Johnson. His writing was strongly influenced by South Dakota origins. This is particularly true of his “We Will Drink a Fish Together” story which won a Hugo for Best Novelette in 1998. (It got a Nebula nomination as well.) His 1999 collection, Dakota Dreamin, is quite superb. (Died 2022.)
  • Born October 4, 1960 Annabelle Lanyon, 62. She was Oona in Legend. And she showed as Isabel in the Quatermass franchise, Quatermass series and the Quatermass Conclusion. She’s been in more genre related films and series than I can possibly list here, i.e. The Werewolves of The Third Reich which has a twenty-one rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes, 
  • Born October 4, 1975 Saladin Ahmed, 47. His Throne of the Crescent Moon was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel and did win the Locus Award for Best First Novel. He has also written for comics characters Kamala Khan (The Magnificent Ms. Marvel), Black Bolt, Exiles and the Miles Morales (Spider-Man) series, all on Marvel Comics. Oddly only his Marvel is available at the usual suspects.

(11) COMPLETELY MAD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna profiles Sergio Aragones, who is still active at 85 drawing for MAD, about his comic book Groo The Wanderer. “Sergio Aragones, MAD magazine artist, is still spoofing our humanity”.

… “When Mad accepted me, that was a change of life, a change of mind, a change of everything. Somebody liked what I did,” Aragonés says. Yet despite this “radical mind change,” he appreciated: “I didn’t have to change at all. It was what I had been doing since I was a kid, drawing, drawing, drawing.”

Aragonés also cherished the famous annual Mad trips, sometimes to far-flung places. He roomed with his heroes in Switzerland, went on safari with them in Africa, and while onboard near Bermuda, helped surprise Gaines by re-creating the publisher’s favorite Marx Brothers moment: the crowded cabin scene from “A Night at the Opera.”…

(12) IT’S OFFICIAL. “Velma Is a Lesbian: New ‘Scooby Doo’ Film Makes Her Gay Officially” reports Variety.

Velma is officially a lesbian.

Clips from the brand new movie “Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo!,” which show the Mystery Inc. member googly-eyed and speechless when encountering costume designer Coco Diablo, have gone viral on Twitter, confirming suspicions held by the “Scooby” fan base for decades.

“OMG LESBIAN VELMA FINALLY,” reads one tweet, which has over 100,000 likes.

It’s long been an open secret among fans and “Scooby-Doo” creatives that Velma is gay. Even James Gunn, who wrote the early live-action films, and Tony Cervone, who served as supervising producer on the “Mystery Incorporated” series, have confirmed the character’s sexuality, but they were never able to make it official onscreen.

In 2020, Gunn tweeted that he “tried” to make Velma a lesbian in the live-action movies. “In 2001 Velma was explicitly gay in my initial script,” he wrote. “But the studio just kept watering it down & watering it down, becoming ambiguous (the version shot), then nothing (the released version) & finally having a boyfriend (the sequel).”

(13) LOCAL ROVING. [Item by Steven French.] Wanted: job for redundant Mars rover! “Planetary rover once intended for Mars tested in Milton Keynes quarry” – the Guardianihas the story.

A planetary rover potentially destined for missions on the moon or Mars has been put through its paces at a quarry in Milton Keynes.

The Sample Fetch Rover (SFR), known as Anon, was intended to collect sample tubes left on the surface of Mars by Perseverance.

But this year Nasa and the European Space Agency announced the rover would no longer be needed for this work, as Perseverance, which landed on the red planet in February 2021, was already collecting samples from the planet.’

… Quarry testing is essential to the development process, providing a unique and dynamic landscape that cannot be replicated within the Mars Yard test facility at Stevenage, and the event marks the first time all the rover’s systems are being tested simultaneously….

(14) PLAYING IN OVERTIME. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Visual Effects Crisis,” the Royal Ocean Film Society notes that visual effects artists are suffering, with weeks of 100-hour days to make insane deadlines.  The Phantom Menace used one visual effects company; The Rise Of Skywalker used 12, and some Marvel films use 35.  But profit margins are thin, and companies frantically shift locations to take advantage of tax credits.  CATS is exhibit A of what happens when visual effects companies screw up.  The narrator notes that Rhythm and Hues’s work helped Life Of Pi win four technical Oscars but the company went bankrupt because of the many changes they had to do to make director Ang Lee happy.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Avatar (2022 Remastered) the Screen Junkies say that even though they did Avatar in 2012 if there’s a remastered version of Avatar in theatres they can take on the film again.  They say the plot combines Dances With Wolves, Pocahontas, and Ferngully, with generic characters they call “Colonel Soldier” and “Doctor Samples” (because Sigourney Weaver’s character is always looking for samples).  The aliens look like a cross between Ugly Sonic and those creatures in CATS.  And if you think “unobtainium” is a silly name, your inner 12-year old can look up the real mineral “cummingtonite” on Wikipedia.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/19/22 Secret File Wars: The Rise Of Timothy

(1) BUGLER, SOUND REBOOTS AND SADDLES! “J. Michael Straczynski Rallies Fans to Save the Babylon 5 Reboot”Tor.com boosts the signal. JMS asks fans to light up social media on behalf of Babylon 5.

The Babylon 5 reboot at The CW managed to survive the many rounds of cuts the network made in the lead up to its eventual sale. According to creator J. Michael Straczynski, however, the fate of the show is still uncertain, and he wants fans to express their support for the show on the Interweb so The CW’s new owners as well as Warner Bros. TV know there’s an audience for the sci-fi show….

Straczynski also dropped the hashtag #B5onCWin23 as the rallying point for fans to prove their desire to see the reboot. The hashtag became the top trending one on Twitter at one point, so here’s to hoping that The CW and Warner Bros. TV are listening.

(2) GUNN CENTER’S SFF BOOK CLUB. The Gunn Center’s Sci Fi, Fantasy, & Speculative Lit Book Club is officially back. You can register for the event using this link.

In honor of the upcoming Sturgeon Symposium: Celebrating Speculative Communities and the announcement of the 2022 Sturgeon Award winner at the end of this month (Sept. 29 & 30), we’ve chosen 3 short stories to read from the list of finalists:

  • Nalo Hopkinson’s “Broad Dutty Water: A Sunken Story”
  • John Kessel’s “The Dark Ride”
  • Suzanne Palmer’s “Bots of the Lost Ark”

Based on what we’ve heard from the jury, these are the final contenders for the award, so be sure to read their stories and take your guesses as to who you think the winner will be!

Sign up by midnight on the 22nd so that we can get you added to the list. Upon registration, you’ll be sent the Zoom link and passcode as well as links and pdfs to the readings.

P.S. To register for the Gunn Center’s First Annual Sturgeon Symposium (Sept. 29-30), use this link.

(3) YO HO NO. It’s not “speak like a pirate” day in France.Publishing Perspectives understands why “French Publishers Cheer a Court’s Order to Block a Book Piracy Site”.

Today (September 19), an announcement from the French publishers’ association—the Syndicat national de l’édition (SNE)—signals a victory for French publishers in cases against piracy-facilitation sites drain revenue of many world markets’ book publishing industries.

A judgment was handed down in Paris on August 25, according to SNE and that court ruling has ordered Internet service providers to block the site (and associated domain names) of a piracy group called “Z-Library.” The result, according to the syndicate, is that 209 domain names and their extensions on mirror sites are being rendered inaccessible.

“Presenting itself ‘as a free library’ since 2009,” the publishers’ association says “but offering a paying model for access to counterfeit works, the Z-Library site—accessible via multiple addresses—offered access to more than 8 million books” across all editorial sectors “and 80 million pirated items.”

…“This collective success,” the French publishers’ syndicate writes in its media messaging today, shuts down at least these instances of an abiding and expensive impediment to doing business and to copyright protection, “and opens the way to new actions by the publishers and the Syndicat national de l’édition—blocking and de-referencing, quickly and systematically, against Web sites operating to defeat copyright protections.

“French publishing is investing massively to allow broad public access to digital books,” the publishers say in today’s announcement. “Book piracy undermines the remuneration of creators, both authors and publishers. It poses a threat to the entire book ecosystem, particularly booksellers, and harms cultural diversity.

(4) CHICON 8 MASQUERADE CREDITS. As reported earlier this month, Chicon 8 posted a rich gallery of photos: “Masquerade! Astounding Faces on Parade!” It includes notes on the award winners, including Best in Show, Arwen’s Lament presented by Rae Lundquist and company. (Which also won “Excellence in Workmanship for Hobbit Feet”.)

We also want to credit the directors and judges. (Thanks to John Hertz for rounding up the names).

  • Masquerade Directors: Sue Finkle, Renata O’Connor (co-directors)
  • Judges: Debi Chowdhury, Byron Connell
  • Workmanship Judges: Karen Berquist-Dezoma, John Hertz, Leah O’Connor
  • M.C.: William Dezoma

(5) POSSIBILITY ZERO. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] Got a post-convention report from local (Scottsdale) convention CoKoCon, held Labor Day weekend earlier this month. They had 221 in attendance and reported the following about their Covid-prevention results:

COVID CASES – ZERO REPORTED!

We’ve seen a lot of reports of COVID cases coming out of other conventions, whether they be of similar size to us or much larger. Some of them, perhaps unsurprisingly, had no COVID policy in place, and became spreader events. Others had a very strict policy, so strict that it was broadly ignored.

We tried to find a middle ground that would keep all members of CoKoCon as safe as possible and it seems to have worked out, because our case count is… zero, as far as we are aware. Not one positive case has been reported.

If you did attend CoKoCon and tested positive for COVID within the next week, please let us know by e-mailing [email protected]. For now, it seems like we found a good balance and we couldn’t be happier.

Because of this, we will continue our current policy into 2023.

I think I mentioned in a Pixel Scroll comment that attendees were cooperative about following the convention guidelines: Masks required in the conference center facilities, no eating or drinking inside the facilities (the Ice Cream Social was held on an outside patio), and social distancing encouraged, both in and outside the conference rooms. 

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1989 [By Cat Eldridge.] Adapted from the Alien Nation film, the Alien Nation series premiered on Fox thirty-three years ago this evening. I’m sure that I saw that night. And even liked. It. I wouldn’t say that it’s the greatest series ever conceived but it was good enough that I caught most, if not all, of the twenty-two episodes aired.

You probably know the concept of starship crashing near Los Angeles carrying a race we called the Newcomers. Some join the LA police force, hence the police procedural theme of the series. Our central story revolves Detective Matthew “Matt” Sikes, a human, and Detective George Francisco, a Newcomer is who’s his partner. I thought they did a reasonably decent job of dealing with racism and associated issues framed within an SF setting. 

Yes, it includes weird things like even the aliens have male pregnancies. Awkwardly done I thought. 

Was it perfectly done?  (See above.) Oh Hell no. But they tried.

It was produced by Kenneth Johnson who you might recognize from the V franchise that he done earlier. He also was responsible for The Bionic Woman and The Incredible Hulk,

TV Guide would later include the series in their 2013 list of 60 shows that were “Cancelled Too Soon” I disagree. I don’t think that it was that well a conceived a series and honestly I’m not sure that it was going anywhere. It did spawn five films after it was cancelled. 

In June 2009, Syfy (You know, that which had been the Sci-Fi Channel) announced that they were developing a new take on the series. Before that went anywhere, the series was cancelled by the network in favor of paranormal reality shows and professional wrestling. Since then talk after talk has been made of a reboot. Do you see a series happening? 

Amazon, Hulu, Sling and Starz are streaming it. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 19, 1922 Damon Knight. Author, editor, critic. Kate Wilhelm who was his wife is also regrettably no longer with us. His 1950 short story, “To Serve Man” was adapted for The Twilight Zone. His first story, “The Itching Hour,” appeared in the Summer 1940 number of Futuria Fantasia which was edited and published by Ray Bradbury.  It’s hard to briefly sum up his amazing genre career but let me note he was a member of the Futurians and a reviewer as well as a writer. Novels of his I’ll single out are Hell’s PavementThe Observers and Special Delivery but don’t think I’m overlooking his brilliant short stories. The Encyclopedia of SF notes that “In 1995, he was granted the SFWA Grand Master Award – which from 2002 became formally known, in his honour, as the Damon Knight Grand Master Award. He was posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2003.” (Died 2002.)
  • Born September 19, 1928 Adam West. Best known as Batman on that classic Sixties series, he also had a short role in 1964’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars as Colonel Dan McReady. He last played the role of Batman by voicing him in two animated films, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face. He also most excellently voiced The Gray Ghost in an episode of the Kevin Conroy voiced B:TAS, “Beware the Gray Ghost”. So what did he do that I didn’t note here? (Died 2017.)
  • Born September 19, 1933 David McCallum, 89. His longest running, though not genre, role is pathologist  Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on NCIS where he appeared in every episode of the first fifteen seasons. Genre wise, he was Illya Nickovitch Kuryakin on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and the British series Sapphire & Steel where he was Steel and Joanna Lumley was Sapphire. He played the lead in a short-lived U.S. version of The Invisible Man. He was Dr. Vance Hendricks on Babylon 5’s “Infection” episode.
  • Born September 19, 1941 Mariangela Melato. She was Kala, one of the female enforcers of Ming the Merciless in the Eighties version on the Flash Gordon film. The only other film she was in that might have been genre is Thomas e gli indemoniati. (Died 2013).
  • Born September 19, 1942 Victor Brandt, 80. He showed up not once but twice during Star Trek’s third and final season. He played Watson in the “Elaan of Troyius” episode and Tongo Rad in the “The Way to Eden” episode. He’s since done work in The InvadersThey Came From Outer Space, and voice work in Star Wars: The Clone Wars
  • Born September 19, 1947 Tanith Lee. I hadn’t realized that she wrote more than ninety novels and three hundred short stories in her career. Ninety novels! She even wrote two of the Blake’s 7 episodes as well. I am more fond of her work for children such as The Dragon Hoard and The Unicorn Series than I am of her adult work. She has garnered well-deserved Stoker and World Fantasy Awards for Lifetime Achievement. (Died 2015.)
  • Born September 19, 1952 Laurie R. King, 70. She’s on the Birthday Honors list for the Mary Russell series of historical mysteries, featuring Sherlock Holmes as her mentor and later partner. Hey it’s at least genre adjacent.  She’s also written at least one genre novel, Califia’s Daughters.
  • Born September 19, 1970 N. K. Jemisin, 50. Her most excellent Broken Earth series has made her the only author to have won the Hugo for Best Novel in three consecutive years. Her “Non-Zero Probabilities” was nominated for the Best Short Story losing out to Will McIntosh‘s “Bridesicle” at Aussiecon 4. “Emergency Skin” I’m pleased to note won the Best Novelette Hugo at CoNZealand. Yeah I voted for it. And at Chicon 8 she won a Best Graphic Story or Comic Hugo for Far Sector, written by her, with art by Jamal Campbell.

(8) WHAT TOMORROW WILL LOOK LIKE. Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore will host a virtual panel – “OCCUPY GONDOR: Using Speculative Fiction To Interrogate The New Gilded Age” – with Elizabeth Bear, Katherine Addison, Arkady Martine, C. L. Polk, Scott Lynch, and Max Gladstone on September 30 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register at the link.

God-emperors and space capitalists got you down? The discourse surrounding speculative fiction, and in particular fantasy and space opera, often pushes the idea that SF is inherently regressive. Join our panel of award-winning and best-selling authors as they interrogate the assumption that the future necessarily has to look anything like the past. 

(9) FAMILIAR MOTIFS. In “Review: Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi”, Camestros Felapton says readers’ persistence will be rewarded.

This is an absolutely tremendous book that befits its Biblically gigantic name yet I feel the need to start the review in a similar way to many of the reviews I’ve since read. I initially struggled to get into the book but you should stick with it.

The other repeated review comparison I’ve seen is to Samuel Delany’s Dhalgren. It is a comparison with some merit — both books do have a disorientating sense of an urban landscape in collapse — but it is not a helpful comparison. Rather like the initial statement I made, it is a comparison that feels like you are making either excuses or giving a warning. Where Dhalgren can feel obscure or even occult, Goliath is quite direct about its thesis even if it is complex in the way it interplays the lives of the multiple characters…

(10) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter spotted the contestants tripping over this one on tonight’s episode of Jeopardy! Might have gotten me, too!

Category: A Hunger For Reading

Answer: The title eatery of this Douglas Adams book is Milliways, famed for its Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.

Wrong question: What is ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’?

Right question: What is ‘The Restaurant at the End of the Universe’?

(11) KEY AND PEELE VOICE TITLE CHARACTERS. This teaser trailer for Henry Selick’s new film dropped last week: Wendell & Wild.

From the delightfully wicked minds of Henry Selick (director of The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline) and Jordan Peele (Nope, Us, Get Out) comes the story of Kat (Lyric Ross), a troubled teen haunted by her past, who must confront her personal demons, Wendell & Wild (played by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) to start a new life in her old hometown.

(12) NO SH!T SHERLOC? “’Tantalizing’ Mars rocks strengthen the idea the Red Planet once hosted life”Inverse has the story.

NASA’S PERSEVERANCE ROVER has detected a plethora of potential biosignatures on Mars, the agency announced Thursday.

Now that the car-sized robot has covered 13 kilometers of Martian terrain over the span of 560 sols (days on the Red Planet), the mission team happily announced that the rover’s SHERLOC instrument detected organic material across many more samples of unique Mars rocks than first anticipated.

…WHAT THEY FOUND — The rocks are “tantalizing” and “whetting our appetite for what’s next,” Laurie Leshin, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said on Thursday.

First, the team found evidence that the rocks are excellent at preserving organic material. They learned this thanks to SHERLOC, short for Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals. It performed the preliminary analysis of Perseverance’s target rocks by shooting a laser at exposed faces — called abrasion patches — to analyze the rocks’ compositions….

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Warner Brothers dropped this 2022 featurette on the batsuit, featuring interviews with five directors of Batman movies and six Batmans, last week.  Narrated by Kevin Smith. “The Evolution of the Batsuit”.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/3/22 I Have Come To Praise Your Furries, Not To Scroll Them

(1) CHICON 8 ATTENDANCE UPDATE. Registration Area Head Elayne Pelz reported on Facebook that as of 11:15 a.m. Saturday there were 3,308 attendees present at Chicon 8.

(2) HUGO LIVESTREAM. Chicon 8 announced that the Hugo Awards ceremony will begin livestreaming September 4 at 7:45 Central on YouTube. This is the link: Chicon 8 Hugo Awards Ceremony – YouTube. (The ceremony will not be streamed on Airmeet.)

(3) IN GLORIOUS B&W. The Eaton Collection rounded up some of Jay Kay Klein’s photos from Chicon III, the 1962 Worldcon:

(4) KEEPING THEM DOWN ON THE FARM. Cloudflare.com has done a 180 and kicked Kiwi Farms off the service: “Blocking Kiwifarms”. Kiwi Farms is a forum for discussing figures it deems “lolcows” (people who can be “milked for laughs”), and the targets of threads are often subject to doxing and other forms of organized group trolling, harassment, and stalking, including real-life harassment by users.

We have blocked Kiwifarms. Visitors to any of the Kiwifarms sites that use any of Cloudflare’s services will see a Cloudflare block page and a link to this post. Kiwifarms may move their sites to other providers and, in doing so, come back online, but we have taken steps to block their content from being accessed through our infrastructure.

This is an extraordinary decision for us to make and, given Cloudflare’s role as an Internet infrastructure provider, a dangerous one that we are not comfortable with. However, the rhetoric on the Kiwifarms site and specific, targeted threats have escalated over the last 48 hours to the point that we believe there is an unprecedented emergency and immediate threat to human life unlike we have previously seen from Kiwifarms or any other customer before….

Vice explains the decision more fully in “Kiwi Farms is Down After Cloudflare Boots The Site As a Customer”.

…This comes just one week after Cloudflare defended the choice to keep the site as a customer.

In August, Twitch streamer Clara Sorrenti, known as Keffals, was the target of transphobic raiding and swatting—the dangerous internet harassment tactic involving prank calls to authorities that prompt police to send a SWAT team to someone’s home. Sorrenti alleges that Kiwi Farms members organized this attack, and has been campaigning for Cloudflare, the internet infrastructure company that protects Kiwi Farms from DDoS attacks among other services, to drop the website as a customer….

(5) BURKE RESPONDS TO B56 COC REPORT. Stephanie Burke posted to Facebook her reaction to the Baltimore Science Fiction Society’s Reports of the Results of the Code of Conduct Investigation Concerning Balticon 56.

I have been exonerated by Balticon for all of the bullshit that just happened. I feel that this letter to me is … I don’t know…more about them covering their asses and there still is no real apology to me or to the people who have been dealt with in this manner by the con before… It may be a bit of a reach but this is how I feel.

They say I can come back as a program participant but I am never going back. The thought of going back gives me the shakes and the start of panic attacks. I can never go back. I will miss a lot of my friends and family who are there, but I have to think about my mental health, the lies that were spread about me, and how I was treated. This could happen to anyone at any given time so I say everyone proceed with caution at cons. This was a life-changing experience for me and not in a positive way….

(6) NEW JMS B5 COMMENTARY. After J. Michael Straczynski’s full-length sync-up Babylon 5 commentaries have been offered exclusively on his Patreon page for a while, he releases them on YouTube. Here’s the latest, for “Point of No Return”, the middle of the Messages from Earth trilogy.

(7) ANTICI-PATION. JMS also revealed there is a completed Babylon 5 project that will debut next year at San Diego Comic-Con. Wait for it.

(8) THE HONORVERSE: WHAT’S AHEAD? David Weber has written a long post looking to the future of the Honorverse.

…So, by my calculations, that’s another 22 books I need to get written [with various collaborators] to wrap up my current series plans.

I’m 70 this October. I sold the first novel thirty-three years ago. Since then, I have published (or have currently turned in, awaiting production) 74 solo and collaborative novels, which works out to roughly 2.24 per year. That doesn’t count the anthologies, of course.

I lost roughly 2 years to the concussion, and about a year and a half to the Covid, so let’s call it 30 years, not 33, which brings the production up to 2.5 per year. And let’s assume that I write for another ten years, which (at the moment, and barring any anticipated encounters with mortality) seems entirely plausible. By my calculations, that comes to another TWENTY-FIVE solo and collaborative novels, in the process of which I will be working with some of my collaborators to establish them firmly in the existing universes going forward.

People, like the characters in Richard Adams’ PLAGUE DOGS, I’ll probably still be writing “when the dark comes down.” That means, obviously, that I won’t be “finished” when I leave, but don’t go around thinking that you’re getting rid of me next week!

(9) TAKEI. Look who’s reading the Unofficial Hugo Book Club twitter feed.

(10) MEMORY LANE.  

1977 [By Cat Eldridge.] Doctor Who’s “Horror Of Fang Rock” (1977)

Doctor Who: “Why am I standing here wasting my time trying to work out its size? If Reuben’s seen it, he can tell us.’”

Leela: “That is what I thought, but of course I am only a savage.’”

Doctor Who: “Come on, savage!”

BritBox streams these so naturally I watched before writing this up. It was every bit as great as I remembered it. Ahhh the sacrifices I make for all of you here! 

This Fourth Doctor story with the much loved Tom Baker in that role, obviously, and Louise Jameson as Leela the barbarian. (See quote above if you think I’m disparaging her.) It was first broadcast in four weekly twenty-five minute episodes on BBC1 from the third to twenty-fourth of September forty-five years ago.

It was directed by Paddy Russell, she also did those honors for another favorite of mine, “Pyramids of Mars”. (Paddy, by the way, was a well-known and much beloved SJW.) In all, she directed parts or the entire of six Who serials.  It was written by Terrence Dicks, not at all surprisingly as this was the period in which he was heavily involved in the series.

HERE IN THE FOG BE SPOILERS! GO AWAY! 

The Doctor and His Companion land along the coast of England, find a dead body and a erratic light in, errr, a Lighthouse. He being he decides to investigate. One of the Keepers, Reuben, tells them about the Beast of Fang Rock (Britain is lousy with such folktales. Really it is.) 

Ahh but being the Doctor soon Aliens abound as they always do, don’t they? And more humans will die. What will the Doctor do? Well he will prevail in the end of course.

END OF SPOILERS. I THINK. MAYBE.

Now this serial was the only one of the original series to have been produced at any BBC studios outside of London.  

Dicks based his script off a poem, “Flannan Isle” written by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, which The Doctor quotes from at the end of the Story.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 3, 1810 Theodor von Holst. He was the first artist to illustrate Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus in 1831. The interior illustrations consist of a frontispiece and title page engraved illustrations.  To my knowledge, this is his only genre work. (Died 1844.)
  • Born September 3, 1943 Mick Farren. Punk musician who was the singer with the proto-punk band the Deviants. He also wrote lyrics for Hawkwind. His most well-known genre work was the The Renquist Quartet about an immortal vampire.  The Renquist Quartet is available at the usual suspects.  Not at all genre, he wrote The Black Leather Jacket which details the history of the that jacket over a seventy-year span up to the mid-eighties, taking in all aspects of its cultural, political and social impact. (Died 2013.)
  • Born September 3, 1943 Valerie Perrine, 79. She has uncredited role as Shady Tree’s sidekick is Diamonds Are Forever in her first film appearance. Her first credited film role is as Montana Wildhack in Sluaughterhouse-Five. She’s Eve Teschmacher in Superman and Superman II. 
  • Born September 3, 1954 Stephen Gregg. Editor and publisher of Eternity Science Fiction which ran 1972 to 1975 and 1979 to 1980. It had early work by Glen Cook, Ed Bryant, Barry N Malzberg, andrew j offutt and Roger Zelazny. (Died 2005.)
  • Born September 3, 1959 Merritt Butrick. He played Kirk’s son, David, in The Wrath of Khan and again in The Search for Spock. Note the very young death. He died of AIDS. Well, he died of toxoplasmosis, complicated by AIDS to be precise. (Died 1989.)
  • Born September 3, 1969 John Picacio, 53. Illustrator who in 2005 won both the World Fantasy Award for Best Artist and the Chesley Award for Best Paperback Cover for James Tiptree Jr.’s Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. He’s also won eight other Chesley Awards. He was the winner of the Best Professional Artist Hugo in 2012, 2013, and 2020.
  • Born September 3, 1971 D. Harlan Wilson, 51. Author of Modern Masters of Science Fiction: J.G. BallardCultographies: They Live (a study of John Carpenter) and Technologized Desire: Selfhood & the Body in Postcapitalist Science Fiction. No, I’ve no idea what the last book is about.
  • Born September 3, 1974 Clare Kramer, 48. She had the recurring role of Glory, a god, or perhaps demon, from a hell dimension that was the main antagonist of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She’s been a lot of horror films including The Skulls III, The GravedancersThe ThirstRoad to HellRoad to HellBig Ass Spider! and Tales of Halloween.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • La Cucaracha listens in as a character tells Trump why he needs to return a box of classified stuff.
  • Tom Gauld helps you enrich your vocabulary.

(13) SNAPSHOT. JJ sent along this photo of Cora Buhlert from her Table Talk yesterday at Chicon 8.

(14) THE BORED OF AVON. Mental Floss would like to acquaint you with “5 Writers Who Really Hated Shakespeare”. On the list is —

4. J.R.R. TOLKIEN

While a member of a school debating society in the early 1900s, a teenage J.R.R. Tolkien reportedly delivered a lengthy speech in which, according to his biographer Humphrey Carpenter, he “poured a sudden flood of unqualified abuse upon Shakespeare, upon his filthy birthplace, his squalid surroundings, and his sordid character.” Opinion is divided over whether or not Tolkien upheld these opinions as an adult, but his letters offer up a number of clues: In one, dated 1944, he dismissed reading and analyzing Shakespeare’s works as “folly,” while in another from 1955, he recalls that he “disliked cordially” studying his work at school. 

… In a 1951 letter to his editor Milton Waldman, Tolkien wrote that he had recently invented two new languages to be spoken by the elves in his novels, before adding in a footnote that he intends “the word [elves] to be understood in its ancient meanings, which continued as late as Spenser—a murrain on Will Shakespeare and his damned cobwebs.” 

(15) ELVISH HAS LEFT THE BUILDING. [Item by Soon Lee.] Mike Godwin (yes, *that* Godwin) tweeted an Elvis/h filk. And it is delicious. Thread starts here.

(16) INCURABLE. Anthony Lane confesses to having “The Hobbit Habit: Reading ‘The Lord of the Rings’” in a 2001 article from The New Yorker.

…I first took on “The Lord of the Rings” at the age of eleven or twelve; to be precise, I began it at the age of eleven and finished at the age of twelve. It was, and remains, not a book that you happen to read, like any other, but a book that happens to you: a chunk bitten out of your life….

(17) THE RINGS, OH LORD! Vice reports “Astronomers Are Freaking Out Over Bizarre Rectangle-Shaped Rings in Space”. Images at the link.

… In a photograph of the star WR140, as pointed out by citizen scientist Judy Schmidt who reposted the image from the automated @JWSTPhotoBot on Twitter, a spiral of rings and rays fan out from the star’s bright white center. The rings aren’t perfectly circular, but look more like rounded squares, and not even astronomers seem to know what to do with it….

(18) HELPING JOHN WILLIAMS CONDUCT. Some of my daughter’s relatives were at the Hollywood Bowl waving along! And they say during last night’s concert Williams even debuted a piece from the upcoming Indiana Jones movie.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/27/22 And Did Those Files, In Ancient Time, Scroll Upon England’s Pixels Green?

(1) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. “Stranger Things is being edited retroactively by Netflix. Is this the beginning of a dangerous TV trend?” asks British GQ. It’s not a long article and these tweets have the gist of it.

(2) VIDEO GAME NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews The Quarry, a new game from Supermassive that stars Ted Raimi, David Arquette, and Grace Zabriskie.

While much horror cinema has taken a turn for the intellectual over the past decade, this is a straight-up lesson in the schlock doctrine, a love letter to campy teen slashers such as Friday The 13th.  You’ll find every trope in the book here, from full moons to mysterious trapdoors to flimsy metaphors for intergenerational trauma. The set-up is simple:  it’s the end of summer camp and your group of teenage counsellors are planning to stay one last night to have a party in the woods. The forest inevitably harbours a dreadful, murderous secret, but it will take a lot to faze these kids–theyre horny, wisecracking and ready to make some truly terrible decisions…

…For most of this ten-hour adventure, watching is all you’ll do. Rather than playing, you’re mostly observing scripted sequences and influencing the story by making choices,  These might be fluffy character beats (who do you want to flirt with?) or grim decisions (do you want to pull the knife out of your stomach, risking blood loss?)You’ll also be faced with that horror ur-choice:  run, or hide? There’s no right or wrong; characters can die and the story will keep going.  Each choice leads you towards one of the game’s 186 possible endings.

(3) REMEMBER WHAT THE DORMOUSE SAID. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The Royal Society concludes that playing video games will not rot your brain. “Time spent playing video games is unlikely to impact well-being”.

Abstract

Video games are a massively popular form of entertainment, socializing, cooperation and competition. Games’ ubiquity fuels fears that they cause poor mental health, and major health bodies and national governments have made far-reaching policy decisions to address games’ potential risks, despite lacking adequate supporting data. The concern–evidence mismatch underscores that we know too little about games’ impacts on well-being. We addressed this disconnect by linking six weeks of 38 935 players’ objective game-behaviour data, provided by seven global game publishers, with three waves of their self-reported well-being that we collected. We found little to no evidence for a causal connection between game play and well-being. However, results suggested that motivations play a role in players’ well-being. For good or ill, the average effects of time spent playing video games on players’ well-being are probably very small, and further industry data are required to determine potential risks and supportive factors to health….

(4) INSIDE BABYLON 5. As J. Michael Straczynski’s Babylon 5 new commentaries get uploaded to his Patreon page, older ones get a public release. The latest posted to YouTube is: “Babylon 5: Message From Earth commentary by J. Michael Straczynski”.

A full-length, sync-up commentary by creator Straczynski about Messages From Earth, the first installment of a trilogy that would forever alter the course of the series.

(5) OKORAFOR PROFILED. “Africanfuturista! The fantastical adventures of Nnedi Okorafor” at Geek Afrique.

Spaceships, terrorist aliens, water spirits, soldiers, Boko Haram, and wet piles of meat. These aren’t part of a kind of dark poetry, but mainstays of some of the best work of writer Nnedi Okorafor. Her work in her genre of choice Africanfuturism (one word, no space), her speculative fiction and fantasy work, are among the most unique today. Africanfuturism, which Okorafor coined, is an exciting subgenre that welds science fiction and technology to African mythologies, weaving black people —or blackness, really— into fertile worlds rife with story possibilities….

(6) OBAMA’S BOOK RECS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Barack Obama put books by Emily St. John Mandel and Silvia Moreno-Garcia on his Summer 2022 reading list.

He also put S.A. Cosby’s novel on there. In “Noir at the Bar”, a piece I wrote for File 770 in 2019 about going to hear crime writers read short stories, I said that Cosby was clearly the best writer in the room…

(7) CREEPY CRAWLIES. “Giant spiders, creeping tentacles all in a day’s work for this Ypsilanti artist”Michigan Live profiles Anna Miklosovic. (Her website is here.)

…Miklosovic currently has two art series depicting the unusual. The first shows a paranormal side of Ypsilanti and features work with giant spiders crawling up the side of the iconic Ypsilanti water tower and a giant tentacle in the Peninsula Paper Company Dam. The 12-part series was turned into a calendar, Miklosovic said.

Her second series focuses on Ann Arbor through the lens of the apocalypse, showing abandoned versions of well-known city locations….

(8) NOT JUST ANY USED CLOTHING. The prices didn’t quite go to infinity and beyond, but close: “Buzz Aldrin’s Space Memorabilia Sells for More Than $8 Million” reports the New York Times.

white, Teflon-coated jacket worn by the astronaut Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo 11 mission to the moon in 1969 sold for $2.7 million at a Sotheby’s auction on Tuesday, fetching the highest price among dozens of pieces of rare memorabilia tracing his career in space exploration.

Mr. Aldrin, now 92, has a storied career as an astronaut, joining NASA in 1963 after flying for the Air Force. Within three years, he had walked in space on the Gemini 12 mission. Then, on July 20, 1969, millions of people watched on television as he became the second man to walk on the moon, about 20 minutes after Neil Armstrong, who declared it “one giant leap for mankind.”

The custom-fitted jacket Mr. Aldrin wore on that mission sold after fierce bidding lasting nine minutes, with the auctioneer calling it “the most valuable American space-flown artifact ever sold at auction.” (The garments worn by the two other Apollo 11 astronauts from that mission are owned by the Smithsonian.)

In all, 68 of 69 lots of Mr. Aldrin’s belongings were sold for a combined $8 million on Tuesday by Sotheby’s in Manhattan at an auction that lasted more than two hours….

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

2008 [By Cat Eldridge.] Your essay tonight is brought to you courtesy of two of my loves — Agatha Christie and Doctor Who. Doctor Who’s “The Unicorn and The Wasp” involved both and had the added advantage of being a David Tennant story — bliss!

This episode aired first aired by BBC One on May 17, 2008. As I said it’s a Tennant Doctor and the Companion was Donna Noble as played delightfully by Catherine Tate. I didn’t care for her at first by she grew on me nicely. 

SPOLIERS ABOUND. GO AWAY NOW!

The two arrive at British manor of Lady Clemency Eddison, (Manor house mysteries are another fascination of mine), where Christie is staying. The episode is a murder-mystery where a shapeshifting giant wasp, in disguise as one of the party guests, murders the other guests using methods similar to those in the novels of Christie. The Doctor and Christie, wonderfully played by Fenella Woolgar, collaborate rather deliciously in uncovering what is going on.

Doctor Who does CGI really well and the wasp here comes off nicely even though it could’ve come as damn silly given how big it is. It didn’t. I mean a giant wasp in the British countryside? Seriously? 

More than a few Christie novels get mentioned. Actually a lot acoording to the writer and Russell T Davies. Titles that were noted were: The Murder of Roger AckroydWhy Didn’t They Ask EvansThe Body in the LibraryThe Secret AdversaryN or M?NemesisCat Among the PigeonsDead Man’s FollyThey Do It With MirrorsAppointment with DeathCards on the TableSparkling CyanideEndless NightCrooked HouseDeath in the CloudsThe Moving FingerTaken at the FloodDeath Comes as the EndMurder on the Orient Express and The Murder at the Vicarage

And there’s a neat riff at the end where the Doctor pulled a copy of a Christie novel out of a locker on the TARDIS from five billion years in the future refuting Christie’s belief that she would be remembered. 

They tie the story into the real life mystery of Christie disappearing for nearly eleven days. Mind you, their explanation is fantastical in the extreme.  

So we get The Doctor playing effectively Holmes in a manor house mystery with the assistance of Christie. 

It’s worth noting Christopher Benjamin who is Colonel Hugh Curbishley here played Henry Gordon Jago in The Talons of Weng-Chiang, another favorite episode of mine.

END SPOILERS. REALLY. 

It’s a delightedly written episode that was penned by Gareth Roberts, who previously wrote the another episode that played off history, “The Shakespeare Code”. I’ve watched it least half dozen times and enjoyed it every times. It’s streaming on HBO Max.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 27, 1938 Gary Gygax. Game designer and author best known for co-creating  Dungeons & Dragons with Dave Arneson. In addition to the almost beyond counting gaming modules he wrote, he wrote the Greyhawk Adventure series and the Dangerous Journeys novels, none of which is currently in print. I’ll admit that I’ve not read any of the many novels listed at ISFDB, so I’ve no idea how he is as a genre writer. Opinions, oh intelligent masses? (Died 2008.)
  • Born July 27, 1949 Maury Chaykin. Though best remembered as portraying Nero Wolfe staring with The Golden Spiders: A Nero Wolfe Mystery on A&E, a role that lasted twenty-seven episodes, he did have some appearances in genre work. He was in WarGames as Jim Sting, he showed up in The Twilight Zone’s “A Game of Pool” as James L. “Fats” Brown, the Millennium film as Richard Keane, on Andromeda in “Pieces of Eight” as Citizen Eight and so forth. (Died 2010.)
  • Born July 27, 1949 Robert Rankin, 73. Writer of what I’d call serious comic genre fiction. Best book by him? I’d single out The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse as the best work he ever did bar none. Hell even the name is absolutely frelling great. 
  • Born July 27, 1968 Farah Mendlesohn, 54. She’s an historian and prolific writer on genre literature, and an active fan. Best works by her? I really like her newest work on Heinlein, The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein which won a BSFA and was a 2020 Hugo finalistHer Diana Wynne Jones: Children’s Literature and the Fantastic Tradition is also a fascinating read. And I highly recommend her Rhetorics of Fantasy as we don’t get many good theoretical looks at fantasy. Her only Hugo to date was at Interaction for The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction though she won a lot of other Awards including BSFAs for the introduction to “Reading Science Fiction”, Rhetorics of Fantasy and The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein. She’s also garnered a BFA for Children’s Fantasy Literature: An Introduction (shared with co-writer Michael Levy) which also got a Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Myth and Fantasy, and she’s also won the Karl Edward Wagner Award as well.
  • Born July 27, 1969 Bryan Fuller, 53. Let’s see…There’s credits as either Executive Producer, Producer or Writer for Voyager and DS9American GodsMockingbird Lane, the  last being a reboot of The Munsters which lasted one episode and was, err, strange, Pushing Daisies, a Carrie reboot, Heroes and Dead Like Me. And animated adaptation of a quirky Mike Mignola graphic novel entitled The Amazing Screw-On Head. Go see it. It’s quite amazing.
  • Born July 27, 1970 Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, 52. Jaime Lannister in Game Of Thrones and Game of Thrones: Conquest & Rebellion: An Animated History of the Seven Kingdoms; as the lead in the short lived New Amsterdam series which is not based on the series by the same name by Elizabeth Bear; also genre roles in the Oblivion and My Name Is Modesty: A Modesty Blaise Adventure films.
  • Born July 27, 1977 Jonathan Rhys Meyers, 45. Dracula in the 2013 – 2014 Dracula series, other genre roles includes being in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, the Gormenghast series and Killer Tongue, a film with poodles transformed into drag queens. Would I kind you about the latter? It’s genre. 

(11) HULK ALUM RETURNS. Peter David, known for his legendary and impactful run on Incredible Hulk, is proving his acclaimed work on the Hulk mythos is far from over.  Having just finished an epic trilogy of limited series that told the grand saga of Hulk villain Maestro, David will now turn his attention to another iconic creation of his—Joe Fixit! The fan-favorite Hulk persona that muscled his way through Las Vegas as a hedonistic bodyguard will star in his very own limited series set during David’s original time on the Incredible Hulk. Joining David in this Sin City adventure will be artist Yildiray Cinar (The Marvels).

 “When I created Joe Fixit decades ago, it was merely as a means to shake up the standard formula,” David explained. “Typically Bruce would have set up some sort of situation and he would be worried that the Hulk would inevitably show up and screw things up. The storyline with Joe flipped the formula on its head, and set up the Hulk with his great situation in Vegas and he was worried that Bruce would show up to screw things up. I had no idea that the character would have this much staying power, and that so much would eventually be done with him in the pages of the Immortal Hulk. I’m thrilled that Marvel has given me this opportunity to revisit with an old friend.”

(12) 2023 EASTERCON. Chair Caroline Mullan announced that Conversation, the 2023 Eastercon, will be at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole at the NEC, from April 7-10, 2023.

…Expect to see more information from us soon about booking hotel rooms, booking for the dealers’ room and fan tables, and the timing and details of our initial rise in membership rates.

This has been a difficult year for site negotiations. We are very grateful to Vanessa May and the Persistence committee for providing the continuity with this site that has given us this outcome….

(13) THESE ARE THE DAYS OF OUR UNDEAD LIVES. Rest of World purports to take you “Inside the global gig economy of werewolf erotica on platforms like Dreame, GoodNovel and Amazon Kindle Vella”.

…The central characters of many of Dreame’s most beloved werewolf novels often inhabit Americanized settings, but the authors don’t typically live in the U.S. Rather, they come from countries like Mexico, the Philippines, Nigeria, and China – and often write novels in their second or third language. One student in Bangladesh, who writes under the pen name Anamika, spends five hours a day, seven days per week writing romance novels. She ends each chapter with a cliffhanger to keep readers hooked. Each book earns her up to $300, along with adoring messages from Western fans. “They are very sweet,” she said. “Their comments are my encouragement.” 

The emerging web novel industry spans the globe, taking a business model from Asia, assembling a global supply chain of authors in lower-income countries, and paying them to churn out thousands of words a day for English-speaking readers in the West. Rest of World spoke to four current and former employees at these platforms, who described how the art of novel writing is broken down into a formula to be followed: take a popular theme like werewolves, sprinkle it with certain tropes like a forbidden romance, and write as many chapters as you can. Some novels have hundreds of chapters, most ending on a cliffhanger to keep readers engaged and eager to read on.

The platforms, some backed by Tencent or TikTok’s parent ByteDance, thrived during the pandemic amid a surge in demand for online content – jobs that can be done from home. Dreame, GoodNovel, Webnovel, and Fizzo consistently rank among the most-downloaded reading apps in the U.S., the U.K., the Philippines, and Indonesia, and together rake in millions of dollars in revenues every month. The model has proven so successful that, in 2021, Amazon launched Kindle Vella, featuring similar episodic titles and plotlines. Kindle Vella even mimics a key mechanic of the other platforms: readers earn coins by spending more time engaged in the apps, which they can then spend to unlock more chapters….

(14) REBRANDING MURDER HORNETS? Like you need little branding irons for branding ants? MSN.com reports “Invasive ‘murder hornet’ is getting a rebrand. Here’s why.”

… The Asian giant hornet, commonly known as the murder hornet, has a new name as its former moniker could stoke anti-Asian sentiment.  

The Entomological Society of America (ESA) chose to rebrand the invasive species as the northern giant hornet, with the ESA concluding the political climate contributed to the need to change the name…. 

(15) A BAD DAY FOR STURGEON. “Two of the Largest Freshwater Fish in the World Declared Extinct”. MSN.com has details.

The Yangtze sturgeon lived in its namesake river for 140 million years. Now it doesn’t. Nor does another behemoth it shared China’s longest waterway with for ages, the Chinese paddlefish. Updating its Red List of Threatened Species on Thursday for the first time in 13 years, the International Union for Conservation of Nature declared the two species, known as “the last giants of the Yangtze,” extinct.

Once the largest freshwater fish in the world, the Yangtze sturgeon, Acipenser dabryanus, could reach 26 feet in length and weigh 1,500 pounds. Its historic range extended throughout Asia, including Japan, Korea, and the Yellow River in China. Dubbed a “living fossil,” it sported a rounded snout, large pectoral fins, and rows of elevated ridges on its spine and flanks. Though there are still captive fish in breeding programs, authorities, despite many efforts, have failed to successfully reintroduce the fish to the river system, and now it considered extinct in the wild.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Matthew Van Ness duplicates himself dozens of times as he sings “Hedwig’s Theme” from the Harry Potter movies: “I sing the ENTIRE orchestra in Hedwig’s Theme”.

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