Pixel Scroll 8/8/22 Cause Your Scrolling Lifts Me Higher, Like The Sweet Song Of A Choir

(1) EYE ON THE PRIZE. Iron Truth author Sofie Tholin, winner of the first Self-Published Science Fiction Competition, has received her trophy from Hugh Howey.

(2) FELICITATIONS! SJW’s assemble! It’s “International Cat Day”. (As opposed to National Cat Day, which is October 29.)

(3) PAWS FOR GENRE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Over on a mailing list, a (so far) brief discussion of “grinning like a Cheshire cat” came up.

In the 150th anniversary version of The Annotated Alice, a page-and-a-half comment discussion on this starts on page 73. (Other CC-related annotations show up a few pages later.) (If you’ve got the original hardcover Annotated Alice, from 1960, like the one I won at summer camp either in 1962 or 1963, there’s a much shorter annotation comment on page 83.)

And out on the Internet:

“The term grin like a Cheshire cat predates the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by at least seventy-five years, if not longer”

along with this suggestion/explanation for the idiom:

“Cheshire is a county in England that is known for its milk and cheese products, surely a reason for Cheshire cats to smile….The most intriguing story may be that at one time a cheese was manufactured in Cheshire county that was shaped like a cat. The cheese was eaten from tail to head, leaving the cat’s smile as the last part of the cheese to be consumed”

“the phrase crops up in English literature as early as 1788, where it appears an entry in a sort of slang dictionary of the time, Francis Grose’s A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.”

Playlist/Lagniappe: And here’s Sammy Davis Jr, who voiced The Cheshire Cat in the 1966 Hanna Barbara ABC-TV animated movie, singing “What’s A Nice Kid Like You Doing In A Place Like This?”

(4) PUBLISHER REBRANDS. Tom Doherty Associates has rebranded itself Tor Publishing Group, effective immediately. Tor president and publisher Devi Pillai said in the announcement, “Although the Tor name has always been associated with science fiction and fantasy, our list has included titles beyond that genre since our inception. With this name change and continued growth, the Tor name will now stand for quality in various types of genre publishing, with each imprint representing a distinct voice.” “Tom Doherty Associates Is Now Tor Publishing Group” at Tor.com.

(5) ALAMAT. [Item by Chris Garcia.] We here at Journey Planet have been working hard as we barrel towards Worldcon where many of us will be seeing one another for the first time since 2019-ish. Chris and James are joined by 2022 Hugo nominees Jean Martin and Chuck Serface for an issue looking at Filipino myth, legend, and folklore, alamat in Tagalog. 

Jean provides an excellent introduction to the zine and her journey into myth and legend, and writers Pat M. Yulo, Karl Gaverza, Claire Mercado-Obias, Gerard Galo, Jimuel Villarosa Miraber, and James Bacon provide fine words on the subject. 

Art from Franz Lim, Diana Padullo, Leandro Geniston, Clair Mercado-Obias, Alfred Ismael Galaroza, and Jimuel Villarosa Mirabar is also joined by a couple of pieces from the AI art-generator DALL*E 2, and graphic design elements from Chris’ 1960s airline menu collection! 

It’s all available at Journey Planet 64 – “Alamat”.

Journey Planet 64 cover

(6) ATOMIC PILES. First Fandom Experience’s latest post in support of the “1946 Project” at Chicon 8 is “The Fan Cave, c1940s”. They’ve reproduced “narrative tours” of the dedicated fan spaces created by Bob Tucker, Harry Warner Jr., and Ron Holmes.

The “experience” component of “First Fandom Experience” conveys our desire to capture what it was like to be an early fan. To date we’ve dedicated the most space to fannish interactions — clubs, correspondence, conventions, conflicts. But fans spent most of their time at home. Those fortunate enough to have even a semi-permanent residence literally papered their walls with the accumulated evidence of their devotion to science fiction….

(7) FREE READ. The Sunday Morning Transport offers Michael Swanwick’s “The Warm Equations”.

Welcome to the first, free-to-read Sunday Morning Transport story for August: science fiction from Michael Swanwick. Concise and epic, “The Warm Equations,” explores a different side of the choices we may make in space.  ~ Fran Wilde, August 7, 2022.

(8) PRINCE AND REPRINTS. Jason Sanford has written a follow-up Twitter thread about the SF Insiders post commenting on Best Editor Short Form finalist Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (who they ranked last) and the merits of reprint anthology work.  The thread starts here.

Jeff VanderMeer also drew on his experience in a comment to Sanford:

(9) ORVILLE MOURNS. “’The Orville’ Honors Norm Macdonald in Yaphit Tribute Video” at The Wrap.

“The Orville” honored Norm Macdonald in a tribute video posted Friday showcasing the late comedian and actor’s moments on the show as lovable Gelatin Lieutenant Yaphit….

(10) OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN (1948-2022). Actress and singer Olivia Newton-John died August 8 at the age of 73. Her husband made the announcement on Facebook. Her genre credits include the movies Xanadu and Sharknado 5: Global Swarming.

(11) MEMORY LANE.  

2009 [By Cat Eldridge.] Ravens in the Library: Magic in the Bard’s Name (2009)

I get a lot of personally signed books and Ravens in The Library showed up in the post some thirteen years ago with a note asking if Green Man would review it. I already knew of SJ Tucker, a singer-songwriter who does a lot of filk, sort of filk and of course straight singer-songwriter material. You can hear her doing Catherynne Valente’s “A Girl in The Garden” here, riffing The Orphan’s Garden as she gave it to Green Man

She also writes children’s books and we reviewed one here, Rabbit’s Song, she wrote with Trudy Herring. 

Sadly she got a severe illness starting in 2008 caused her to have a very long hospital stay and related surgery, and left her to recover under the weight of massive medical bills. As you well know, independent musicians don’t have deep pockets, so her friends launched a number of projects to generate the needed monies. 

So what did they do? Well the most successful project is sitting on my desk, The Ravens in the Library anthology. Three hundred and seventy pages of ballads, poems, songs and stories amply illustrated by far too many stellar artists too note here. The great cover which you can see below is James A. Owen

The writers here are, well, let’s just say I was gobsmacked. Charles de Lint, and Terri Winding, and Neil Gaiman. Ari Berk usually known for his illustrations does a story too, as does Catherynne Valente, Holly Black, and, of course, S.J. Tucker contribute excellent work too. It would be wrong to overlook the work by writers that I’ve never heard of, most likely from the fan community, who are just as great. 

So how successful was it? This anthology in less than a week paid off all of her considerable medical bills. Very impressive! 

I’d be remiss not to mention the excellent editing work of Phil Brucato and Sandra Buskirk. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 8, 1905 Reginald Lal Singh. Indian-born actor. He portrayed Captain Chandra in Star Trek’s “Court Martial”. He can also be seen by use of archival footage from The Day the Earth Stood Still in the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ “Strange New Worlds” episode. He was a military officer in the fifties War of the Worlds. (Died 1970.)
  • Born August 8, 1919 Dino De Laurentiis. Responsible for the first Dune obviously (it’s odd to have to state that it’s the first Dune, for decades there was only one) but less obviously also a lot of other genre including two Conan films, Flash GordonKing KongHalloween II and Halloween IIIDead Zone and The Last Legion. His company even made Army of Darkness! (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 8, 1920 Jack Speer. He is without doubt one of the founders of fandom and perhaps the first true fan historian having written Up to Now: A History of Science Fiction Fandom covering up to 1939 as well as the first Fancyclopedia in 1944. Filking and costume parties are also widely credited to him as well.  Mike has a proper remembrance here. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 8, 1930 Terry Nation. Best known as scriptwriter for Doctor Who and creator of the Daleks. He later created Blake’s 7. He would also write scripts for Department SThe Avengers, The Champions and MacGyver. He both Davros and the Daleks on Who. He died from emphysema in Los Angeles aged 66, as he working with actor Paul Darrow who played Kerr Avon on Blake’s 7 in an attempt to revive that series. (Died 1997.)
  • Born August 8, 1935 Donald P. Bellisario, 87. His genre shows include Tales of the Gold Monkey, Airwolf, Magnum P.I. (according to some of you) and of course that truly amazing show Quantum Leap. He was a writer and producer on the original Battlestar Galactica.
  • Born August 8, 1937 Dustin Hoffman, 85. Ahhh Captian Hook, the man who got figuratively swallowed by the vast crocodile in Hook. Yeah I like that film a lot. But then I like the novel very much, too. By no means his only genre appearance as he was Mumbles, Caprice’s fast-talking henchman in Dick Tracy (a film I actually find rather odd), Mr. Edward Magorium in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium and the voice of Master Shifu in Kung Fu Panda.
  • Born August 8, 1961 Timothy P. Szczesuil, 61. Boston-based con-running fan who chaired Boskone 33 and Boskone 53. He’s also edited or co-edited several books for NESFA, Strange Days: Fabulous Journeys with Gardner Dozois and His Share of Glory: The Complete Short Science Fiction of C. M. Kornbluth
  • Born August 8, 1987 Katie Leung, 35. She played Cho Chang, the first love interest for Harry in the Potter film series. Her only other genre appearance to date is as Dou Ti in Snow in Midsummer at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon. Dou E Yuan, often also translated as The Injustice to Dou E, is a Chinese play written by Guan Hanqing (c. 1241–1320) during the Yuan dynasty with serious bloody magic realism in it. End of your history lesson. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Breaking Cat News ran a series where the cats play an RPG. The first post is on June 20 and it runs through July 9.

(14) SUPERCANCELLATION. They are dropping like flies. “Another Huge DC Superhero Movie Is Dead” reports Giant Freakin Robot.

…Now, Rolling Stone Australia reports that another DC superhero movie is dead, this time, it is Supergirl who will fly no more.

…insiders at Warner Bros. have also said the currently in-development Supergirl film is next to be canceled. The film was planned as a spin-off from the upcoming The Flash, starring Ezra Miller. Supergirl is set to be introduced in The Flash when it is released in 2023, with actress Sasha Calle portraying the blue-suited heroine. 

It should come as no surprise that Supergirl is the next DC superhero project to be retired by the newly cutthroat Warner Bros. Discovery regime and it is likely that it has nothing to do with Batgirl. So far, The Flash has constantly been suffering bad press thanks to its lead actor Ezra Miller. Miller has been embroiled in several criminal charges and allegations over the past year and Warner Bros. has already stated the actor no longer has a future in the DC franchise beyond The Flash. With Miller out of the picture, it is safe to assume any spin-offs related to their lead role will follow suit. It’s worth mentioning that Michael Keaton’s return as Batman in The Flash was also set to be complemented by his appearance as the iconic character in Batgirl…. 

(15) SAFE TO COME OUT NOW. [Item by Soon Lee.]  (Yet) Another “Sandman” Review, but it does capture why this adaptation works. NPR’s Glen Weldon says “Netflix’s ‘The Sandman’ is a long-awaited dream come true”.

First, to the many nervous fans of The Sandman among you:

Relax. They nailed it.

Yeah, it took forever, and a slew of assorted aborted attempts, but the Netflix adaptation of the landmark comic book series just … works.

It succeeds as a faithful presentation of the look, feel and story of the Lord of Dreams as presented in the comics, which was written by Neil Gaiman, with art by Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg and many other pencilers and inkers over the years.

Far more importantly, however, it succeeds as a work of adaptation.

Where recent audiobook versions strictly adhered to every infinitesimal detail of the 1989-1995 comic run (and as a result ended up feeling both dated and overwritten), the Netflix series’ grip on the source text is gratifyingly looser. It breathes.

Changes, big and small, have been made to characters and storylines that streamline, update and focus the narrative, now honed to fit the specific propulsive demands of serialized television….

(16) BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD. In “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: How Starship Enterprise was Redesigned” Variety interviews production designer Jonathan Lee.

…Those elements started with the Bridge, which already made its debut during the second season of “Star Trek: Discovery.” But now that Pike’s Enterprise was getting its own show — one that will hopefully (and boldly) go the distance with a five-year mission — that called for significant revisions to the nerve center of the Enterprise.

“We’ve taken the set that we’ve inherited, but we did a great deal of work,” Lee said. “[Executive Producer] Akiva Goldsman briefed me to bring it back to ‘The Original Series.’ We had to move things around a little bit. We moved the captain’s chair around so that Captain Pike could throw a look to helm and navigations really easily, and that would work with the camera.” And since the viewscreen that was seen in “Discovery” was depicted using visual effects, a physical representation of the viewscreen was designed and added to the Bridge set for “Strange New Worlds.”

Lee also changed the color language from the “Discovery” version of the Enterprise. “It was quite cool with blues and greens and cool yellows. I said, the Bridge must feel warmer, particularly the motion graphics on all the monitors. When you see the before and after, it’s pretty dramatically different, but it’s much more intimate, and it feels more like our show.”

(17) DEEP-SIX IT. Gregory Benford has an idea for removing atmospheric carbon dioxide: “Addressing climate change: plants instead of plants?” in UCI News.

Growing up in Fairhope, Alabama, in the mid-20th century, Gregory Benford engaged in more than his share of character-building employment. In sun-parched farm fields, he chopped sugar cane and bagged potatoes. On shrimping and fishing boats operating out of Mobile Bay, he hauled in nets laden with the ocean’s produce.

Those years of toil on the land and water planted a seed in Benford’s young brain that would, decades later, sprout into CROPS, a nascent commercial enterprise he co-founded that may prove to be one of the most practicable and effective approaches to solving climate change ever devised.

Crops Residue Oceanic Permanent Sequestration is a method of atmospheric carbon dioxide removal that’s simple, straightforward and globally scalable. It relies on the seasonally regulated natural processes of our planet combined with readily available farm labor and unremarkable, centuries-old equipment such as baling wire, trucks and barges. Essentially, CROPS involves bundling agricultural waste into half-ton cubes and transporting them out to the deep sea, where gravity will take them to the ocean floor. Here, the carbon that was once in the air will sit unperturbed for millennia…

(18) JWST NEWS. In the Washington Post, Joel Achenbach gives an overview of the James Webb Space Telescope and the discoveries astronomers have already made with it. “The Webb telescope is astonishing. But the universe is even more so.”.

…Jane Rigby patiently walked me through what the Webb can and can’t do. One thing I learned: Even a million miles from Earth, with that sun shield providing the equivalent of SPF 1 million, the Webb isn’t in total darkness. The heavens glow in the infrared part of the spectrum because of sunlight bouncing off dust.

“It’s our stupid solar system,” Rigby said. “It’s the zodiacal cloud. It’s the light from our own solar system. We’re stuck in our solar system, and we can’t get out of it.”

The Webb probably won’t be able to see the very first stars, she said, “unless they’re kind enough to blow up for us.” But already, the Webb has detected a galaxy that emitted its light just 300 million years after the big bang — easily a record. The instruments on the telescope can do spectroscopy on that light to see what elements are present….

(19) STATE OF THE ART! ATARI 800. Paul Daniels discuses how he programmed an Atari 800 to create a computer game in this 1983 clip from the BBC that dropped today.

“The massive problem with all of this is that it’s not written for ordinary people, and it’s a shame. The magazines and the manuals are completely non-understandable, it’s gobbledygook.” – Paul Daniels Micro Live takes a trip to Blackpool, where magician, presenter and self-taught computer programmer Paul Daniels is hard at work coding his first computer game – Paul Daniels’ Magic Adventure – on the Atari 800. Will you like it? Daniels feels that the unnatural language surrounding computers and their associated literature is a huge barrier to entry for many potential users.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Emory Allen asks, “What if you could change your head as easily as you change your clothes? “Detached”.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Soon Lee, Cath Jackel, Arnie Fenner, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

Journey Planet – Erró 

By James Bacon: Join the Journey Planet team as they look at the art of Erró, Iceland’s most famous Avant Garde artist,  but are challenged by re-use, copying and the ongoing conflict created by pop-artists and their supporters as they paint over comic artist signatures. A behaviour as old as the movement itself. 

Does Erró’s art really speak when he fights against war? Was the experience of living through Britain invading Iceland and a military occupation by the allies of his peaceful non belligerent home, during the Second World War an enduring and formative one?

Are we as ignorant of Erró and Iceland’s occupation as curators are of the original ‘source’ of the art he utilizes, or do we prefer to ignore it all. 

Are original artists now being recognized?

Is this now changing thanks to Brian Bolland, whose open letter the team reprints, or is it worse than ever as they consider the appalling response of Glenn Brown who copied Chris Foss in the name of fine art.  

In this intense consideration of the work of an artist, copyright and appropriation of comic art is discussed. The team ask of themselves and the reader, what’s going on with our love of the image and try to figure out the conflict, the joy of comic imagery writ large crashing into the reflected reality of a failure to be original or worse steal from another. 

Is that the western capitalist way,  written to suit themselves into law that legitimizes and profits from it, regardless of the original artist? 

Meanwhile we look ownership of a work, copyright per se, but a much older starting point than one night expect. 

Journey Planet. Erró Errór: Edited by Pádraig Ó Méalóid, James Bacon and Christopher J. Garcia 

Fight With Art

By James Bacon: “Fight With Art” is an exhibition of Ukrainian Contemporary Art created under exceptional circumstances taking place now in Kraków at the Manggha Museum until April 30. 

We reached out to curator Artur Wabik to learn more of this topical exhibition:

“The War in Ukraine affects the entirety of Europe and European people, including artists, curators, and other workers in the cultural sector. While providing shelter to refugees, and sending food and supplies to the fighters, we must not forget that our first language of expression is culture and art. With this strong foundation, we can fight today for truth and peace. Culture is the arbiter of civil society, it prevents us from sliding into the arms of brash propaganda and naked aggression.

“This is perfectly understood by the artists from Ukraine, who have been involved in building a civil society since 2014, creating works that comment on the current political and social situation. Many of them arise in opposition to Russian disinformation. Perhaps that is why they eagerly use popular, concise art forms, such as murals, stencils, posters, or comics.

“This War that now engulfs Ukraine meant that many of these artists had to put away their pencils and paintbrushes and reach for real weapons. One of them is street art artist, Dima Fatum, whose illustration, which is the leitmotif of the exhibition, was created a few days ago in the bombed Kharkiv. Others emigrated to Poland, where they started cooperation with the local artistic community and formed new friendships.

“It is our duty to give a voice to artists from Ukraine and to create a platform for the presentation of their works. Both those created at the front and those created in exile, Ukrainian contemporary art, and its creators need our support more than ever. We give selflessly, remembering that once Polish artists also received shelter and support from greater Europe. Today, we honor an old debt and we will pay and pay it forward, and persevere.

“Fight With Art is a living, experimental exhibition that will change. As life has now unexpectedly changed because of the war in Ukraine.”

The exhibition was opened on Monday, April 4, and there are some meetings planned with the Ukrainian artists and art critics who are already in Kraków. There is also a desire to launch an online auction of selected works.

As well as refugees who have found safety in Kraków, artists from Kyiv and Lviv are represented. Most of them are members of Ukrainian Assembly Comix or The Will Publishing.

(The Patreon we mentioned for The Will and the Anthology Comic The War is going very well with art being added continually — (https://www.patreon.com/TheWillProduction).) 

The exhibition is presented as part of FestivALT in cooperation with the Muzeum Komiksu and the Muzeum Sztuki i Techniki Japo?skiej Manggha at the Manggha Museum – Marri Konopnickiej 26, Krakow, Poland.

Artur Wabik adds, “Some artists hid their works to protect their art from the war and they agreed to transport their works to Lviv and from there to Krakow in order to make them available to a wider audience, others sent us the materials in electronic form to be printed in Krakow. Others are Ukrainian artists currently living in Poland. We want help Ukrainian artists fight with their art!”

FB video of exhibition by Viktoriia Steblyk: https://fb.watch/cl14FVUKI_/

Two images and poster. 

The following works were created in March by Dima Fatum, a street art artist who was involved in a territorial defense of Kharkiv. All of them are war-related and were created between shellings.

Many thanks and best wishes to Artur and all the Ukranian artists.  

‘War’ Comic Anthology in Production in Ukraine 

By James Bacon: The Invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the horror of a modern mechanized war in Europe, viewable instantaneously, the destruction and merciless death rained down on civilians, is utterly appalling. 

From this though, art fights back. Art is a form of expression and many are horrified at what is occurring, and demonstrate this through their personal ability to portray a message, be it resistance, revulsion or rebellion. 

The focus has also brought works to the attention of readers. I found some amazing war comic images online, and hunted them down and soon found that there was an exciting Ukrainian Comic enterprise, with established comics which was pivoting to share work by artists that reflects the war. 

“WAR” is a comic book Patreon from The Will (https://www.patreon.com/TheWillProduction). The project supports Ukrainian artists and the Ukranian defense forces. The production team is creating a comic book compilation of short stories in various genres about the ‘War’, being created right now during this tumultuous time.  Artists are waiving their fees and The Will are using these to buy supplies for the defense forces. 

Artists who are already working on the project include: Kateryna Kosheleva (https://twitter.com/tokkamakart), Igor Kurilin (https://twitter.com/gentik72), Nazar Ponik (https://www.artstation.com/misterrook), Maxim Bogdanovsky and Alexander Koreškov (https://www.artstation.com/digitalfly). 

Kateryna Kosheleva’s story is in the style of a fantasy about the area of Ukraine known as KONOTOP, where many witches have lived since ancient times and the images speak for themselves. 

Igor Kurilin is working on a story depicting the action at Snake Island. 


And the cover is by Nazar Ponik.


War Comics have a long and varied history, but such direct support is new, yet laudable given the horrendous circumstances faced by these creatives. 

“The Will” is a Ukrainian alternative history fantasy comic, with a strong steampunk theme, looking at events during 1917-1920, presenting a struggle for truth and freedom. There is also “The Prince’s Will”, a different series featuring anthropomorphic hamsters. 

While these comics are in Ukrainian, the Will is also a publishing house, and as can be seen from their website, they are working to license and help their stories reach a further audience: The Will Production.

Fans will be personally challenged. War Comics are often anti-war, the arts, literature, culture lean towards civil resolutions, protest for sure. There is a known history of fans fighting in wars, and also abstaining. We are often able to dissociate ourselves from the tax we pay being used for god knows what, yet personal choices can and will be made. A country is fighting for its survival, a people have been brutally attacked, and while here on File 770 we know that there are Russians who hate Putin and this War equally, there is an actual existential fight that has been taking place in Ukraine now over a month since the invasion. 

I cannot imagine how it is for a fan, comic artist or writer to wake to shelling, to curfews, to whatever is left of a city like Mariupol, to know an invading force of aggressors control parts of one’s country, to have seen millions have to leave their home, displaced, refugees, fleeing. How hard and devastating that must be. 

Yet here we have some art, that captures the moment, that is really good to look at, that is accurate and well-drawn during adversity, and we see artists supporting their national defense forces, doing what they feel is best under dreadful circumstances, brave and admirable.

[We have permission from The Will to use these Facebook and Patreon Images.]

45 Years of 2000AD

By James Bacon: Forty-five years ago or thereabouts, on February  26, 1977, the first ‘prog’ of 2000AD was released by IPC magazines. The second issue dated March 5 a week later saw the debut of Judge Dredd. Since then, Rogue Trooper, Nemesis the Warlock, Halo Jones, Sláine, Judge Anderson, Strontium Dog, Roxy and Skizz, The ABC Warriors, Bad Company and Proteus Vex are just some of the characters and stories that have emanated from the comic that was started by Pat Mills and John Wagner. Some have gone on to be in computer games, especially as the comic was purchased by Rebellion developments in 2000, and Judge Dredd has been brought to the silver screen twice. 

Addictive and enjoyable stories of the fantastic, written and drawn by some of the greatest comic creators of the latter part of the 20th century, they often related to the current, utilizing Science Fiction to obscure issues about violence or subversiveness, but reflecting metaphorically about the now of the time. Judge Dredd was an extrapolation of how bad authority could become. A number of stories came too close to the bone in the 1970’s including in Prog 71 and 72 which featured the Battle of the Burger Barons story with McDonald’s led by Ronald McDonald and Burger King going to war. If that wasn’t enough, Prog 77 and 78 featured many characters, such as the Jolly Green Giant, Col. Sanders, The Michelin Man and although most companies didn’t engage, Jolly Green Giant did sue, and this story has not been reprinted.

An example of unfortunate agelessness may be the ‘Invasion’ story of Bill Savage that featured in 2000AD in the 1970’s and 2000’s. ‘Invasion’ themed stories were common throughout British comics, from Will O the Whistle in Victor to Holocaust Squadron in Warlord. These stories with a hard hint of Jingoism and usually with an Eastern European or Asian aggressor invading Britain, extrapolated on a Third World War scenario. The Pat Mills and Gerry Finley-Day story ‘Invasion’ and subsequent anti-authoritarian ‘Savage’ with art by Charlie Adlard had a more thoughtful approach. Although one felt that the Invasion theme was now confined to history, to be considered and analyzed, it appears that it is suddenly and dreadfully now a current situation. 

In the 1980’s the comic Crisis, a considered and thoughtful ongoing anthology from the 2000AD stable featured stories with a hard political view, reflecting on subjects from the Northern Ireland Troubles, Tiananmen Square to near future Third World War with multinationals exploiting poorer countries. Recently readers have been offered further stories which drive political thoughtfulness, and this has been most prominent with Dreadnoughts, which took an insightful near future look from now at the creation of the Judges, who become the police, detective, judge, jury and executioner all in one in the Judge Dredd historical timeline. Prog 2270 celebrated the anniversary with a Brian Bolland cover. 

A confluence of occurrences is now about to occur, which through design or synchronicity will offer various opportunities to fans to see, engage and share appreciation for ‘The Galaxy’s Greatest Comic’.

A celebration of 45 years of 2000 AD will occur online and free on this weekend on March 26 and 27 on 2000 AD’s social media channels and YouTube, and Rebellion’s dedicated Twitch stream. This two-day event has a considerable amount of talent engaging with fans, while all panels available to watch on YouTube afterwards. The full schedule is available here: https://2000ad.com/news/the-galaxys-greatest-full-schedule-announced

Comic creatives who have been announced include John Wagner, Pat Mills, Mick McMahon, Brian Bolland, Garth Ennis, Rob Williams , Alex de Campi (Archie vs Predator), Sean Phillips,  Vincent Deighan (Frank Quitely), Jock, Anna Morozova, Micheal Carroll and John McCrea amongst others. A full list of creatives is available in the Rebellion website https://2000ad.com/2000ad-45th-anniversary/

The 2000AD team have also invited a wide and varied selection of 2000AD readers from other professions, and this will see Ian Rankin, Lauren Beukes, Louie Stowell discussing their view as authors, Kelly Kanayama looking beyond  borders in 2000AD with British writer currently in Seattle Arthur Wyatt, Irish writer Michael Carroll and American artist Chris Burnham and fascinatingly Ministers for Parliament Stella Creasy and Alex Sobel on a panel with political journalist Ian Dunt on a panel discussing politics in 2000AD with MIke Molcher. How often have elected politicians been on panels? 

Pat Mills and John Wagner will also be interviewed and with a total of 21 programme items, it’s a comprehensive weekend of online activity. 

James with Calum at Glasgow. Where has that two years gone?

Also on March 26, the Commando and British Comic swap meet is being held at the 29th Glasgow Scout Group, Cameron Halls in Glasgow. The one-day event features a number of guests, Commando and 2000AD artist Graeme Neil Reid, 2000AD artist Colin MacNeil, Commando editor Calum Laird and Commando writer Colin Maxwell. The event will be occurring in person, and there are Covid precautions in place. The previous iteration of the Glasgow event took place on March 13, 2020 and based on the success of the Watford Swap meet and return of comic conventions and marts, a number of fans are travelling to it. The late Ian Kennedy who passed away on February 5 this year was due to be a guest, and he will be well remembered by those present, and missed.

Starting at 10:00 a.m., entry to the event is a pound for adults and kids go free. All proceeds from the door, raffle and other fund raising activities go to 29th Glasgow Scout Group. The venue is a 15-min train ride from Glasgow Central.  These swap meets are great fun, low key relaxed events where there is considerable chat, and where one can find fans helping one another out. 

Although there is a clash with the 2000AD online event, this writer will be joining those heading north. 

Currently at the Cartoon Museum in central London to tie in with the  celebration of 45 years of 2000AD with a Dredd @45 focused exhibition of eight pieces, and they span a considerable amount of time, and give a quick look at the character. There is a lot more to see at the Cartoon Museum. 

Later in May on the 28th & 29th, Lawless will take place at the Doubletree in Bristol. This convention, a celebration of all things 2000AD with talks, panels, and a large number of artists and writers, will be occurring in Bristol.  There’s a community feel to the event, but this is fed by the professionals. At the last one in 2019, comic artist and historian David Roach kindly brought some of his art collection, to share with fans all by the late Carlos Ezquerra who was being celebrated. Lawless attracts large numbers of professionals but welcomes hundreds of fans. Cosplay is a strong component, Judges from many territories appear, and every year more ingenious characters from the world of Judge Dredd make an appearance. With 29 comic professionals announced as guests, including Brian Bolland, John Higgins, Mike Dorey, Karen Holloway, Abigail Bulmer and Sally Jane Hurst, it presents excellent coverage of the whole history of the comic, as well as the unique opportunity to meet, engage, share a pint with and chat to professionals.  

Our Irish Fan in London will hopefully report on some of these ongoings.

Cosmonaut Solidarity 

By James Bacon: Despite some very harsh comments from Dmitry Rogozin, the director general of Roscosmos, threatening that “If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or Europe?” spacefarers seem to have a different perspective and understanding of the importance of international cooperation, respect and solidarity. This appears to have been demonstrated today when three cosmonauts arrived at the International Space Station.  

Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Sergey Korsakov, and Denis Matveyev arrived at the ISS after blasting off from Baikonur in Kazakhstan in a Soyuz MS-21. A quick 3-hour journey, they joined fellow cosmonauts and astronauts at 4:48 p.m.  

Although video footage and photos shows them in their usual white space suits, as they embarked, and official preflight photos in blue suits they changed into Yellow suits with Blue flashes by the time hatches opened.  

When asked Oleg said “It became our turn to pick a colour. But, in fact, we had accumulated a lot of yellow material so we needed to use it, so that’s why we had to wear yellow.

They join Expedition 66 Cosmonaut Commander Anton Shkaplerov and cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos, as well as NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, and ESA (European Space Agency) German astronaut Matthias Maurer.

An incredibly brave and brazen demonstration of solidarity and unity. 

Returning to Rogozin’s utterances, NASA’s Bill Nelson said “That’s just Dmitry Rogozin. He spouts off every now and then. But at the end of the day, he’s worked with us. The other people that work in the Russian civilian space program, they’re professional. They don’t miss a beat with us, American astronauts and American mission control. Despite all of that, up in space, we can have a cooperation with our Russian friends, our colleagues.”

Ukraine has had a number of Cosmonauts and Astronauts in Space during soviet and independent times. 

Ukrainian Cosmonaut Pavel Popovich, a Soviet cosmonaut who flew in space in 1962 and 1974. Stamp issued 2012. (MNH.Sc.890)

Journey Planet 62: Crafting during Covid 

By James Bacon: It’s been a challenging time, but fans have risen to the challenge in ingenious, interesting and beautiful ways, creating, making, painting and arting.  

It’s been a productive time, and with issue 62 of Journey Planet we look at some of the incredible work and fun times fans have had. 

The issue can be found here.

We celebrate some of the wonderful things people have been up to which include: 

  • fitting out a camper van
  • building a Lego steam train 
  • making galifraen tiles 
  • crochet octopus helmet cover 
  • pens and inks 
  • Knitting
  • Peeps theatre
  • wooden mushrooms 
  • a TARDIS door 

We also have a wonderful look at the art of Meg Frank, Sara Felix and Iain Clark who share their work, Tiaras, Block Printing and painting.  

With contributions from Vanessa Applegate, Constanze Hoffman, Emma King, Alissa McKersie, Edie Stern, Christy Kearny, Liz Loikkanen, and James Shields, we also touch upon what and how fandom has managed, with a consideration of the Virtual year of cons from Marcin Klack and how inertia will be overcome as fandom strives to regather in our enditorial. 

A feast for the eyes, the “Crafting in Covid” issue is co-edited by Sara Felix, Christopher J. Garcia and James Bacon. We hope you enjoy it. 

Future issues being worked on range from SF, Comics and the American War in Vietnam, Warrior Comic a 40th celebration, and V for Vendetta amongst a number of subjects.  

Contributions, comments, feedback and letters of comment always welcome to journeyplanet@gmail.com

Never Mind The News – File 770’s Best Feature Articles of 2021

Was the year too heavy, deep, and real? Yes, but it was also rich in creativity, humor, and shared adventures. It’s a gift and privilege for me to be continually allowed to publish so many entertaining posts. Thanks to all of you who contributed!

FEATURES

David DoeringMost Remote SF Bookstore in the World?

Meet “Book Island” in the town of Saint Denis on Reunion Island—a small speck in the vast Indian Ocean

Pierre E. Pettinger, Jr.Never Too Late To Start: Guest Post by Pierre E. Pettinger Jr.

… Like many fans, I had tried my hand with writing, especially as a teenager. I wrote notes, drew weird aliens, and even wrote a novel which will never see the light of day. But during all this I did noodle, consistently, with several recurring characters and a story line. It shifted and changed, of course, as I matured and different interests came into my life, and eventually they just settled in the back of my mind.

John HertzAt the Height of His –

… Once when [Tim] Powers was being interviewed at an SF convention someone asked “Do you actually believe in this stuff?”  He said “No.  But my characters do.”  As Gordon Bennett wrote, and Frank Sinatra sang, “This is all I ask, this is all I need.”

JJ2020 Novellapalooza

… I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last few years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story Synopsis had some appeal for me). …

Patty WellsLearn About SAFF, the Space Agency Fan Fund

… The mission of SAFF is to keep the factual progress of space exploration out there for our community and to help individual Worldcons and other conventions in dealing with the arrangements and funding of space experts as special guests. 

JJWhere To Find The 2020 Nebula Finalists For Free Online

To help propel you into your awards season reading, here are links to excerpts or complete works from the 2020 Nebula Award finalists.

John HertzGood Names for Bad Guys

 During 1937-1956 a radio program called “The Answer Man” was broadcast over the Mutual Broadcasting System….  

Wolf von WittingInexplicable Phenomena and How To Approach Them

… Another solved mystery was that of the vanishing pancake. A friend of mine, by profession police officer, was standing at his stove, frying pancakes. As we both did with pancakes, we flipped them around in the air. So did my friend on this day.

His mystery was that the pancake never came back down. It vanished. There was no trace of it….

A Multitude of FilersOpening Lines Rewritten for a Pandemic — By Filers

Eli Grober’s “Opening Lines Rewritten for a Pandemic” in The New Yorker humorously changes the beginnings of famous books to suit life as we knew it in the plague year of 2020…. Filers answered the challenge to add to the list. Here is a collection from yesterday’s comments….

The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed, being careful to maintain a distance of at least six feet.

–Nina Shepardson

Brendan DuBoisIn Happy Pursuit of Jeopardy!

… It was the Jeopardy! gameshow display screen one saw all the time on television, in real life, just yards away, here inside the cool Sony studios.   Six rows across with the categories, columns of five numbers under each.  To the right of the large display was Alex Trebek’s podium, and nearby were the three contestant stations. 

There were sixteen of us here, and before the end of the day, all of us but one would have our thirty minutes of fame — or infamy — in this very special place.

But how did I get here?

John HertzAnother Well-Titled Book

Glorious, the Greg Benford – Larry Niven novel appearing last year, is one of the more ambitious SF stories.  

Rich LynchRocket Boy

… The model took off and rose straight up for maybe 100 feet or so before the second stage kicked in, but then there was trouble.  Instead of continuing its upward flight, the thing veered to the right and zoomed away horizontally, slightly descending all the while.  It went directly over a house across the street and continued on, neatly bisecting the span between two tall trees behind the house.  And then it was gone from sight.  I remember that my uncle gave me a quizzical look and asked, “Was it supposed to do that?”…

IphinomeFour Reviews by Iphinome

Reading. That’s what I do, I read and I snark things.

IphinomeIphinome Reviews Novik’s A Deadly Education

El (Galadriel) is pissed off. Her classmate Orion just rescued her for the second time –needlessly. She’s capable, more than capable, El’s powerful – El, power, get it? Get it?…

Lyrics by Aydrea Walden and Jocelyn Scofield“All Because of You” Lyrics from the Nebula Awards Ceremony

But then I had a spark, a realization
While floating here all by myself
I’m actually in the best of company
Because you’re on my shelf

Mark L. BlackmanDeath and Doom (and Cats) at the KGB Bar with Seanan McGuire and Nadia Bulkin

On the evening of Wednesday, June 16, 2021, the Fantastic Fiction at KGB Reading Series, hosted by Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel, presented authors Seanan McGuire and Nadia Bulkin in livestreamed readings on YouTube. (Neither reader is running for Mayor of New York.)

This is the 16th month of virtual readings, in place of in-person reading at the eponymous bar in the East Village in Manhattan, noted Kressel. New York City may be “open,” added Datlow, but they don’t yet feel comfortable “going into the crowd” at the Bar for at least a few more months….

Mike GlyerSmell Like A Superhero

Is there a science fiction movie character you want to smell like? Forget Swamp Thing, c’mon, he’s not in Fragrance X’s catalog. Otherwise, there’s no end of superhero and genre branded colognes you can buy.

Sara FelixWhy I Work on Worldcon: Guest Post by Sara Felix

There was a post a while ago on twitter that asked, “So what motivates y’all to continue entering bids to host Worldcons? Genuinely curious.”

And I responded with, ”I think there are some great bids out there like Glasgow 2024 that you can genuinely tell they are enthusiastic and want to put on a good show.  Working on Dublin was like that for me as well.  I am not saying they are perfect but the excitement is really important.”

But that is just the tip of the iceberg of what I wanted to say…

Cat EldridgeLeague of Extraordinary Gentlemen Film Anniversary: Celebrate or Not?

… Now back to Connery. The film would leave him with such a bad experience that claimed he the production of the film and the film’s final quality was what he caused his decision to permanently retire from filmmaking, saying in an interview with The Times that, “It was a nightmare. The experience had a great influence on me, it made me think about showbiz. I get fed up dealing with idiots.”

Martin Morse WoosterSpace Jam: A New Legacy – A Review

Space Jam:  A New Legacy is a fun-free synthetic entertainment substitute.  Its many writers (six are credited) created a screenplay from artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, and gas….  

Mark L. BlackmanTwo Too-Near Futures from Kim Stanley Robinson and Nancy Kress

… Datlow asked Robinson, “How can you be so optimistic?” He replied that his mother was; she felt that it was our duty to be optimistic and to help people….

Mike GlyerLe Guin Stamp Issued Today

The Ursula K. Le Guin commemorative Forever stamp was officially unveiled today during a ceremony at the Portland (OR) Art Museum.

Steve VertliebCelebrating The Wonderful Nehemiah Persoff At 102

… I began to wonder whatever became of this marvelous actor and so, before retiring for the evening, I started to research Mr. Persoff’s whereabouts on my computer. As luck would have it, I found him and wrote him a rather hasty letter of personal and lifelong admiration. To my shock and utter astonishment, he responded within five minutes….

Melanie StormmEmails From Lake Woe-Is-Me: Links To Every Installment

Stormm began her humorous series about the misdirected emails she gets from Writer X in August and has done 17 regular and two bonus installments. It swirls together comedy, horror, and the pitfalls of being a writer.

Robin A. ReidWriting Against the Grain: T. Kingfisher’s Feminist Mythopoeic Fantasy

The purpose of this presentation is to place Tolkien’s theory of mythopoeic fiction in dialogue with fantasy series by T. Kingfisher in order to argue that her work is feminist and mythopoeic. While there are a number of elements of Kingfisher’s fiction that are relevant to my purpose, I’ll be focusing on two: her version of Faërie and system of magic, and her portrayal of female characters whose relationships are with failed warrior heroes….

Brian Z.A Modest Proposal for the Very Retro Hugo for Genre-Related Work

The talk of time capsules and 1000-year M-discs in the Pixel Scroll 8/12/21 discussion of item (16), the Louis XIII Cognac 100-year sci-fi film vault, got me thinking that Worldcon should do Hugos for Best Genre-related Work Created 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 and 40,000 years ago….

Sultana RazaHergé’s Multi-Layered Worlds

… Considered to be a genius by many, not only was Hergé skilled at drawing, he was also good at fascinating his readers with mysteries, and intriguing situations. For example, why was Prof. Calculus going into the heart of a volcano, following the agitated movements of his pendulum, instead of running away, like all the others? Perhaps he was so oblivious to his real surroundings, and was so desperate to find the cause of the wild swinging of his pendulum for the sake of science, that inadvertently, he was willing to risk his very life. Or was he running away from mundane reality? And why did Tintin rush back to save his friend from going deeper in the maze of the mountain? Possibly because that was Tintin’s nature, to rescue not just the innocent people of the world, but it also showed his deep friendship with the absent-minded professor….

Robert RepinoConsequences as an Engine of Storytelling: A Guest Post by Robert Repino

…After watching [John Wick: Chapter 3], my friends and I got some drinks at a nearby bar. There, I found myself repeating a single word from the movie: “Consequences.” Wick utters this word whenever one of the characters points out that his past may have finally caught up with him. Since I like to drive jokes into the ground, I began to say “Consequences” in response to everything that night, in a poor imitation of Wick’s scratchy voice. Why did we need to buy another round? “Consequences.” Why should someone else pick up the tab? “Consequences.” And maybe I should call out sick tomorrow? “Consequences.”…

Mike GlyerHallmark Rolls Out 2021 Ornaments

Right after the Fourth of July might not be when I shop for Christmas ornaments, but somebody does, because that’s when Hallmark runs its Keepsake Ornament Premiere.

If the timing is for the convenience of retailers, there is also a certain logic in picking a spot on the calendar that is as far away as you can get from a date associated with Christmas trees. It’s plain some of these ornaments are intended for a Halloween or Thanksgiving tree, while others probably are destined never to decorate a tree at all but to remain pristine in their original wrapping on collectors’ shelves….

Craig MillerPreview of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

In, I believe, 1927, the Academy of Motion Pictures was founded.

In 1929, they decided there should be a museum of motion picture history and memorabilia.

In three days, a little shy of a hundred years later, the Academy Museum will open to the public….

Martin Morse WoosterReview: Museum of the Bible

Continuing my reports on museums that might be of interest to Filers coming to Washington for DisCon III, I offer a report on the Museum of the Bible, which I visited recently.  (I had a Groupon!)…

Glenn HaumanOh, The Place We Boldly Stop.

The Dr. Seuss Enterprises lawsuit against us is finally over….

Esther MacCallum-StewartCOP26 and Glasgow in 2024

… COP26 has produced an enormous impact on Glasgow….

Sultana RazaFan or Spy?

… I couldn’t help thinking of the passage from The Lord of the Rings, where the Crebain go searching for the Fellowship. In fact, there are many birds as spies in fantasy fiction, such as the Three-Eyed Raven, the, One-eyed Crow, or Varamyr Sixskins warging into an eagle in A Song of Ice and Fire, to mention a few…. 

Mike GlyerShould the Best Series Hugo Category Be Kept?

The Best Series Hugo category was added to the WSFS Constitution in 2017 with a sunset clause requiring a future re-ratification vote to remain part of the Worldcon Constitution. That vote happens next week at the DisCon III Business Meeting. If you were there, would you vote yes or no on keeping the category?

Shana WorthenTwas the Night Before DisCon III

Then down the long hall there arose so much chat,
that I sprang from my chair to see what was that?
Through archways, past plant pots, I slipped through the throng
as the loud murmuration came strolling along.

Colin HarrisThe World in Worldcon

… In reality, China is a huge country with a vast population and an expanding middle class; an enormous SF field and well established fandom. Chengdu is an established international convention site as well as a centre for science and technology.

I rather suspect that from the Chengdu bid’s viewpoint, the US-centric history of Worldcon is at odds with the very name of the event and its claim to be the leading global celebration of the genre. I do not need to believe there is anything suspicious about the bid, because it only needs a tiny percentage of Chinese fans to get behind it to make it a success….

Sultana Raza (and others)International Interactions with Tolkien – A Roundtable

Though Tolkien’s novels were very successful in the last century, after the Peter Jackson trilogy in the early 2000s, their reach increased to encompass the globe. Irrespective of geographical or linguistic differences, they spoke to us in different ways. In an informal Discussion Group at Oxonmoot 2021, (held online), participants were welcome to share their thoughts/reactions/ take on various aspects of Tolkien’s works, mainly his Legendarium….

Mike GlyerThe Twenty Percent Solution: A Self-Published Science Fiction Competition Judge’s Upvotes

… Based on reading 20% of Team File 770’s assigned books, I found there are actually 12 I’d say yes to – so I am going to need to cut two more before I finalize this list….

TRIGGER SNOWFLAKE

The saga of Sheriff Trigger Snowflake, the lovely Coraline, and the shenanigans of the Solarian Poets Society added several chapters this year that were not so much ripped-from-the-headlines as amused by the news.

Ingvar Trigger Snowflake and the Election

… Trigger put his cup down, as he saw Coraline wave a paper in the air.

“Trigger!” she said, “Look at this! Look who’s standing for president!”

IngvarTrigger Snowflake and the Dessert

A few days later, down at the Coffee Emporium, Trigger was having breakfast. A nice cup of Bean of the Day and a grilled synthecheese. As he finished the last bite of the synthecheese, Barbara Dimatis walked up to his table.

“Sheriff Snowflake, may I sit?”

“Why, sure, Ms Dimatis. What troubles you?”

“You’ve heard of Bistro Futuristo? Well, turns out that the editor and owner of Futuristo Magazine has made an announcement.”…

Ingvar Trigger Snowflake and the Grand Reopening

“Sheriff! Sheriff! Have you heard?”

“No, Ms Dimatis, I don’t believe I have?”

“The Bistro has re-opened!”

“Bistro Futuristo?”

INTERVIEWS

Brandon Sanderson WFC 2020 Interview Highlights – Conducted by David Doering

Far Sector Round Table with N.K. Jemisin – Conducted by James Bacon and others

CHRIS BARKLEY

ConStellation Hat. Photo by Craig Glassner/Pinterest/Hat of the Day

… Needless to say, I have witnessed or participated in a number of remarkable, bizarre and historic incidents during my tenure working at Worldcons. I not only know how the sausage was made, I helped make it as well….

… Before I reveal my BDP Hugo Nomination Ballot choices, let’s contemplate these ten outstanding films from 2020…

So forget about what the naysayers are saying; Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a big, exciting, sprawling, violent, intense, profane, beautiful and ultimately moving film.

DECLASSIFIED! Seven Secret and Untold Stories From the Worldcon Press Office

CONVENTION REPORTS

Commemorative button.

CHRIS BARKLEY’S DISCON III REPORTS

Ride along with Chris at this year’s Worldcon, everywhere from major events to favorite restaurants.

JAMES BACON

In addition to reviewing comics and graphic novels, James used his camera and descriptive abilities to take us along on visits to all kinds of fascinating exhibits and pop culture events.

CATS SLEEP ON SFF

OBITUARIES

[date of publication]

Barkley: DisCon III, the Third Day

The File 770 DisCon III News Desk

To Be Fair, I Was Left Unsupervised: A Disjointed Chronicle of 79th World Science Fiction Convention, DisCon III — December 17-18, 2021

By Chris M. Barkley:

DAY THREE

After yesterday’s events, I decided to sleep in a bit, until about 9 a.m. Because, you know, Worldcon.

The first bit of news came from Newsletter Number 3, which was published late Thursday evening. The middle column had the BIG news: that the proposal to create a Best Audiobook category had passed muster at the Preliminary Meeting and would be debated at the Main Session on Friday. After my blistering attack on the Business Meeting I feel slightly encouraged. But let’s see what happens next. Watch This Space, as Rachel Maddow intones on a regular basis…

At 10 a.m., I was on the move; today was the day I was going to race around like a whirling dervish and get books signed, come hell or high water!

I dashed down to the Dealers Room eagerly to seek out Mary Robinette Kowal, only to find out her signing session had been rescheduled due to a conflicting panel. So, you may wonder, who else would be crazy enough to get up that early in the morning to sign autographs? Yeah, THIS GUY, fellow Ohioian John Scalzi…

On my way back to my room, I made a stop at the Press Office. Peter Thomas was there and he informed me that a dozen media reporters had registered and that he did not have a firm number on how many warm bodies were on site, but had heard unofficially form the folks in Registration that the figure may or may not be around 2,500 people. He promised to text me directly if he got any solid information. (As of Friday evening, he did not have any additional information.)  

After tempering my disappointment, it was time for breakfast. The weather remained unusually warm with moderate winds and an overcast sky. Our destination was Open City again because our companion Anna, Juli and I were wondering if their breakfast menu was as good as their dinner menu. Readers, we were not disappointed!

Juli had the Chorizo Scramble with an arugula salad, Anna had the California Scramble with a side of fruit. I decided to go big and have the Biscuit (singular!) and Gravy with a Breakfast Burrito. And yes, they serve animal crackers with their tea and coffee!

[Chris Barkley’s report continues after the jump.]

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Science Fiction Outreach at C2E2

Science Fiction Outreach took a booth at C2E2 in Chicago to promote reading and SF conventions.The event ran from December 10-12. James Bacon was there to help. 

By James Bacon: I had a terrific weekend and thousands of books were given away. Helen Montgomery was leading the operation with a host of fans helping out. The books, so many kindly donated by fans, were moved from storage to McCormick Place on Wednesday by Helen and Dave McCarty. On Thursday set up was in full flow and the shelving was built with Leanne’s help, and books put out. 

Weeks of preparation had gone into sorting the books, especially separating kids’ books, as these are at a premium for kids present at con, but even they are separated into age groups.

Friday was busy enough but with some superb examples of cosplay. Readers, once convinced that ‘Free’ meant free descended upon the booth with eagerness. Dune and Frank Herbert were perhaps the most asked for, although we had plenty of prequels, sequels, so that was good. Horror as ever proved to be strongly popular, and media tie-ins from Star Wars to Star Trek were very popular. There was considerable interest in magazines, while related books flew out.  

Leanne, Johnathon, Dave, Noelle, Michelle, Alan, Sue, Pam all helped to call out free books, replenish, chat, engage and recommend. Pam had donated a given box so as it got opened was able to give first-hand recommendations. It was also nice to meet fans for the first time and they were a lovely crew. 

Here the call of free attracts all fans. One needs to be ready to meet erudite well-read fans, of all ages and backgrounds, and I loved talking to readers. 

“Any authors you are looking for? And who’s your favourite?” work well, while “Would you like a recommendation?” was also popular. If one found a good book and lightly said “This is awesome space opera” it was soon taken away. Fans like recommendations. A Penguin book of Irish Myths lasted seconds.

It’s great fun, although a hard part is convincing people that the books are free, that yes, you can take more than one and you know, there were fans who were so grateful, so pleased to be going home with something, unexpected and nice and certainly in some cases, clear they hadn’t expected to be taking anything home and that is amazing.  

Librarians and teachers flock in, inquisitive and eager to spread the word, collectors wonder and share their passion but are reluctant to take books they hope fans younger than them will pick up. Chicon regulars fist bump and show their pride and pleasure with the efforts and cosplayers cone in to browse.  

Octavia Butler, Yoon Ha Lee and Aliette de Bodard proved easy to recommend, readers were actively enquiring about writers from as diverse backgrounds as the fans at C2E2. It’s easy to talk about great works while catering to such requests. Anthologies also offered great opportunity to allow a low investment spec try of a specified genre or area, and with themed subjects covering so many aspects, even with the most challenging of requests “I like war stuff” was easily sorted with some Joe Haldeman edited anthologies to choose from.   

Likewise James White, Justina Robson and Robyn Hobb were snapped up by readers looking for pointers. Pratchett, Rice, Banks, Harris, Gaiman, LeGuin were snaffled quickly too, but with less prompting. 

Real excitement and pleasure was palpable, and it was fun. 

We had T-shirts available for a @$25 donation and these proved popular, and people were just so nice and lovely, and donations kindly flowed. There’s real respect and appreciation. 

Every book has a bookmark promoting Outreach, Worldcons, local cons. But also flyers were given out for local cons and worldwide ones too.

With a good crew in hand, breaks were encouraged and I was gratefully given time to enjoy C2E2. 

Had a cracking weekend. In between giving away free books, with Helen Montgomery and the gang, meeting fabulous cosplayers, and enthusing about dozens of authors, I also got to roam about C2E2.  

It was amazing to meet Larry Hama, who was so friendly and we spoke about the Vietnam issue of Journey Planet, while he knows the west of Ireland well. He also was happy to use a Sharpie on a fan that would get tattooed! 

Larry Hama wields a Sharpie

It was fabulous to catch up with Dublin 2019 featured artist Afua Richardson who continues to do amazing work, and I was chuffed to get her to sign Marvels Indigenous Voices for which she did a variant cover. 

Gene Ha was super lovely and kind, and we enjoyed overcoming some pronunciation challenges, our mutual friend  Pádraig Ó Méalóid, being easy to read one way and not sounding like the person I mean when I say Pádraig. Gene is a guest at Capricon and Chicon 8 and I’m very excited. 

I asked Chris Claremont, “So about the Leprechauns in the X-Men?” and got a wonderfully thoughtful response. Indeed we spoke for longer than I expected, and it was a good discussion. 

Chris Claremont

Stephanie Hans was impressed that comics signed to other fans make lovely postal surprises, while I got to meet some amazing people thanks to Christopher Hwang. I failed to meet David Mack, and I wanted to thank him again for an awesome time at Thought Bubble

It was all go. It was huge. There were a lot of people but not overly crowded. 

The Covid policy was good, everyone wore a mask, polite and cheerful wardens reminded people, in a respectful way, assuming forgetfulness in the first instance and having masks for anyone who dropped them. This approach is good, it works. 

The con had hundreds of large 10- or 12-foot tables, next to a long run of different food trailers or stands and a bar, where beers and food could be eaten. At these tables there was no issue if you had no mask on while enjoying your break. People were respectful asking to join tables with others, but still given space some distance away at the same table, while anyone who I observed saying “I’d prefer you not” was respected or thumbed up and folks moved on. It was good, thoughtful. There was no anti-establishment bull, but likewise no heavy-handed unnecessary enforcement. Regular announcements informed us all that masks were mandatory. It was good. 

The cosplay was excellent and I offered praise and took photos of favourites.  

Timothy Zahn was as ever delightful, and it was good to speak to him, asking what’s next for this author and his character Grand Admiral Thrawn. 

A wonderful personal moment was some kind praise from Garth Ennis for the Battle issue of Journey Planet, noting a particular poignant element, a photo of myself and Dad and an article I wrote, while I discussed research I’ve done on V for Vengeance, published in 1942. 

Garth is so good to his fans, he signs and signs and signs and is generous with his time, he contributed to JP with an interview and kindly donated to charitable activities arranged by Paul Trimble, but you know, praise from professionals for your zine, is nice. I can’t wait for his next work with PJ Holden and Keith Burns, The Lion and the Eagle

Detroit Pizza is Amazing. One pizza was equal to all the cheese I ate in three months. Got a go on a US school bus, met Josephine the French bulldog who got off her pedestal of guarding Battlecat to say hello. Along with thousands of fans taking away books. 

The Science Fiction Outreach Project continues its good work and as a 501(c) accepts donations.

More photos after the jump. 

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