Journey Planet Releases Issue #80

Journey Planet has released Issue #80, a one-page fanzine edited by Sara Felix, James Bacon, and Chris Garcia focused on the creation of the Glasgow 2024 April Fools Hugo.

The one-off Hugo was designed by Sara Felix and the sculpt was a joint effort between Sara and Vincent Villafranca. Sara and Vincent also designed the Worldcon 76 base together back in 2018.

The JP walks through the basics of where the idea came from and follows through the process.  After reading an article that appeared in the souvenir book for Noreascon 4 written by Peter Weston, Sara thought a tartan rocket was possible with the design and approval of Landing Zone Glasgow which Sara designed for the convention previously.

Sara says, “This design is dedicated in loving memory to Deb Geisler.  If it wasn’t Deb sending me a link to the article that Peter wrote I would never had the idea in the first place.  She was amazing and always a source of inspiration for me.”

The link to the Journey Planet can be found here.

Directions for folding the fanzine can be found here.

If you would like a copy of the small 2”x3” print of the April Fools Tartan Hugo it is on Sara’s ko-fi page.

Sara also produced a video about making the base: “April Fool’s! Sara Felix shares her creation process of a tartan rocket!”

Pixel Scroll 3/21/24 Mr. Sandworm, Bring Me A Dream

(1) MASTER OF SF. Vernor Vinge died March 20. One of the many callbacks to this distinguished sf author’s genre contributions comes from the Hugo Book Club Blog: “A Tribute To Vernor Vinge”.

…“Singularity is the point at which our old models will have to be discarded, where a new reality will reign,” Vinge wrote. “This is a world whose outlines will become clearer, approaching modern humanity, until this new reality obscures surrounding reality, becoming commonplace.”

One of these forays into singularitarianism helped launch an entire subgenre of science fiction. First appearing in a Dell paperback alongside George R.R. Martin’s Nightflyers, the story True Names offered a blueprint for cyberpunk that would influence and inspire everything from blockbuster movies to role playing games and television series….

(2) CIXIN LIU ON PRODUCTIVITY ISSUES. [Via Zionius on Weibo] On Wednesday, Singapore newspaper The Straits Times published an article tying in with the release of the Netflix adaptation of The Three-Body Problem.  The piece includes a few quotes from Liu himself, where he talks about his activity in recent years, and his sympathy with one of his peers, George R.R. Martin.

While he yearns to see Martin place the long-delayed sixth book, The Winds Of Winter, in the hands of publishers, Liu, 60, also sympathises with his 75-year-old peer’s plight – Liu himself has been through a long fallow period.

“The Winds Of Winter has been delayed for 10 years. As a writer who also writes fantasy literature, I completely understand this, because I have not been able to publish a new work for more than 10 years,” Liu tells The Straits Times in an e-mail interview…

Other than Of Ants And Dinosaurs (2010), a work that imagines a war between the two species of the title, Liu has not produced a new novel since.

“Martin has at least published other works during that time, and I had done almost nothing,” he says. 

(3) A LIFELINE TO SANITY. The Guardian calls it, “’A fascinating insight into pandemic psychology’: how Animal Crossing gave us an escape”.

“Today is the first day of your new life on this pristine, lovely island. So, congratulations!” says Tom Nook, the benevolent tanuki landlord, a few minutes into Animal Crossing: New Horizons. (Nook is often besmirched online, but you can’t argue that he’s extremely welcoming.) Many players read this comforting message at a destabilising and frightening time in the real world: Animal Crossing: New Horizons came out on Nintendo Switch on 20 March 2020, a few days before the UK entered its first Covid lockdown.

This was fortuitous timing. When we were all stuck at home, the game let us plant our native fruits, tend to our flowers and see what the town shop had on offer, repaying our extensive loans (interest-free, thankfully) to Tom Nook as a way of escaping the chaos and daily death tolls. We opened the gates to our islands and welcomed friends and strangers into our pristine little worlds. As real life crumbled, we started anew with bespectacled catssheep in clown’s coats and rhinos who looked like cakes.

The game’s sudden popularity caused Nintendo Switch sales to skyrocket among pandemic-induced shortages. New Horizons had sold 44.79 million units by December 2023 – nearly three-and-a-half times more than any other game in the Animal Crossing series, which has been running since 2001. It’s the second best-selling Switch game to date, behind Mario Kart 8 Deluxe….

(4) BOT AND PAID FOR. Annie Bot has already been called “A sharp take on a sex robot that becomes human” in a paywalled New Scientist review:

I opened the novel with low hopes, because the idea of a robot learning to be human, then chafing at its bonds, seemed a bit old hat. How wrong I was. Right from the first page, the book is coruscating, unexpected and subtle….

Now Glamour has interviewed author Sierra Green in a Q&A titled “Annie Bot Is a Chillingly Prescient Novel That Asks What Happens When a Sex Robot Realizes Her Worth”.

…The character of Doug felt so real to me (a man who would rather have a sex slave robot than a real human companion), which is scary, to say the least. What does his character represent to you, and why do you think it is important to demonstrate these types of men in the media?

This is a complicated subject. I think it’s important to try to understand what in our society encourages a man to feel like he ought to be in control, even when he’s not. No one likes to feel helpless, but men can feel doubly conflicted when they are denigrated because society has taught them that they deserve respect. Suddenly they have to reassess the entire system. When we see a character like Doug who is lonely and wants to be in control, we understand why he’s reaching out for a connection. We’re not surprised that men turn to the internet for pornography, and Annie is just a step beyond that. What matters to me is that Doug learns from his situation. He experiences deep shame, isolation, and rage, but he’s also willing to reflect on how to become a better man, a better human. Almost despite himself, he takes risks that lead him where he needs to go.

Do you think if Stellas really existed, a lot of men would buy them?

Yes. Women would buy them too, or the male Handy models. People will buy a new toy whether it’s good for them or not….

(5) MONSTER MASHER. Radio Times says “Doctor Who needs Steven Moffat – despite what he might say”.

…Every showrunner has brought something incredible to Doctor Who, from Russell T Davies’s famously skillful writing to Chris Chibnall’s bold new directions, but there’s something that Moffat brings to the show that no other writer does.

He remains unmatched as Doctor Who’s monster maker. By his own admission, his creations are simple and actually a little formulaic, usually riffing on a childhood fear to create a chilling physical embodiment of our nightmares. But it doesn’t get old – because he does it so well.

Moffat’s first episodes, a season 1 two-parter, introduced the Empty Child. Arming his creation with a haunting catchphrase (“Are you my mummy?”) and a gruesome physicality (I’ve never forgotten that transformation scene), he immediately ensured his first Doctor Who monster would be one for the ages. But it was far from his most iconic.

In season 3, Moffat penned what is widely described as one of Doctor Who’s best ever episodes, Blink, creating an all-time classic monster, the Weeping Angels….

(6) A TILT TOWARD NORTH AMERICA. “Doctor Who’s schedule change is inevitable – but still heartbreaking” opines Radio Times.

With the decision being made to debut new Doctor Who episodes at midnight on BBC iPlayer, many Whovians have expressed their disappointment. They argue that the choice was made for US-based audiences, and it undeniably was.

When the first two episodes are released on BBC iPlayer at midnight on Saturday 11th May, they will also be available on Disney Plus at 7pm ET on Friday 10th May, before BBC One airs them again later in the day on Saturday.

This means that while viewers on the US East Coast can enjoy the premiere episode in the late evening, UK fans will have to stay up into the late hours of the night to watch, diminishing the event nature and experience of watching the series…

(7) NEW HORROR. Gabino Iglesias reviewed Premee Mohamed’s The Butcher Of The Forest, C.J. Cooke’s A Haunting In The Arctic, Tim Lebbon’s Among The Living, and Amanda Jayatissa’s Island Witch in “Demons, Haunted Forests and Arctic Nightmares in 4 New Horror Novels” for the New York Times in February.

(8) SPUR AWARDS. The Western Writers of America have presented the 2024 Spur Awards. Complete winners list at the link – there do not appear to be any genre works among them. Not even Thomas Goodman’s Best First Novel The Last Man: A Novel of the 1927 Santa Claus Bank Robbery has much to do with jolly old elves.


[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 21, 1946 Timothy Dalton, 78. Timothy Dalton made his film debut sixty-eight years ago as Philip II of France in The Lion in Winter. I remember him distinctly in that role. Of course, I’ve watched that film enough times that I think I’ve memorized much of the script. 

He would do two Bond films, The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill. He made a decent Bond, but then I think the only true Bond was Connery. 

Timothy Dalton in 1987.

Now doing a dive into his genre roles, he was Prince Barin in Flash Gordon, and had a major role as film star Neville Sinclair, one of baddies in The Rocketeer. An absolutely amazing film which is why it got a nomination for a Hugo at MagiCon. 

And he was Lord President Rassilon in “The End of Time”, the last Tenth Doctor story. He made a rather impressive Time Lord indeed. 

I’ll finish up with his role as the Chief on the DC Universe/Max Doom Patrol series which just wrapped up. It was a great role for him, and a most excellent series indeed. 


(11) TRAINING FOR WAR. James Bacon reviews an issue of Battling Britons, “The Fanzine of Vintage British War Comics”, for “In Review: Battling Britons 6 – Planes, Trains and Giant Vampire Bats!”.

The Book: The latest issue of a fanzine dedicated to British war comics, offering articles, reviews and features on comics such as Commando, still published, and vintage comics such as Battle Picture Weekly, War Picture Library, including items on strips such as “Black Max”, “Dredger”, “Maddock’s Marauders”, “Kommando King” and more…

…Editor and publisher Justin Marriott often writes about subjects that are close to my heart, and this issue he looks at Commando comics that feature trains. He starts this with a fabulous laugh out loud list of the ten things he has learned from reading comics which featured trains. It’s a light hearted and humorous approach, and then lists some 30 Commando stories, and discusses them briefly….

(12) NOT JUST LOOKING AT THE PICTURES. And founder John Freeman suggests, “Comics: The Answer to The UK’s Literacy Crisis?”

We’re used to Spider-Man saving the world from the Green Goblin and a multiverse of masked miscreants. But new research by Comic Art Europe, and a separate research project by the National Literacy Trust, suggests that he could have the super-powers to do something even more valuable – something our government has signally failed to do: turn us into a nation of readers again

That’s the view, at least, of Lakes International Comic Art Festival chair Peter Kessler MBE, in an article for the latest issue of Books for Keeps magazine.

“A unique project has been unfolding in a primary school in North Manchester,” he notes, discussing the Comics and Literacy Project the Festival worked on as a partner of Comic Art Europelaunched in 2021, supported by The Phoenix comic, its full, interim report here on the Festival web site.“Abraham Moss is a typical, hard-working community school in an underprivileged area. Most of its students are from ethnic minority backgrounds, and it has a higher-than-average number in receipt of the Pupil Premium subsidy given to disadvantaged students. The school has spent two academic years participating in a Europe-wide research project entitled Comics and Literacy. The aim of the project: to analyse and quantify the impact of exposure to comics on young people.

“The results are jaw-dropping….”

(13) FANAC ZOOM NOW ONLINE. You can view the two-part FANAC History Zoom: “The Women Fen Don’t See” with Claire Brialey, Kate Heffner and Leah Zeldes Smith on YouTube.

Part 1 – 

Description: Women did not magically appear in fandom with the advent of Star Trek, but have been part of science fiction fandom since the earliest days. They’re faneds, and convention chairs, writers and artists, club fans and costumers. Sometimes, they’re all of the above. Our impressive panelists (see bios on the bottom) Claire Brialey, Kate Heffner and Leah Zeldes Smith talk about why early female fans have received less credit than they deserved, or been overlooked entirely, and describe the contributions of a number of them…In this recording (Mar 2024, part 1 of 2), our panelists talk about how this research began, and why women that were cranking the mimeos, writing fanzine articles and going to conventions were not even regarded as fans. Early fan historians didn’t correct this impression, reflecting the attitudes of society and ignoring women’s contributions to fandom, especially married women. In this recording, you’ll learn about what fans did say about women in the community, “the radical hoax of Lee Hoffman”, and Miss Science Fiction 1949 (and the Fake Geek Girl response that ensued).

Women discussed in this part 1 include Jean Bogart, Pam Bulmer, Daphne Buckmaster, Marion Eadie, Helen Finn, Nancy Kemp, Trudy Kuslan, Lois Miles, Frances Swisher, and Jane Tucker. There’s a lot of information, a little hero worship and a dive into those hard-to-research women whose fanac was not primarily in fanzines. The discussion continues in Part 2. For more fan history, go to and If you enjoyed this video, please subscribe to our channel.


Claire Brialey – Claire encountered fandom in her early teens, in the mid-’80s, after having read SF for five or six years. She’s a fanzine fan and co-editor of Banana Wings, as well as having won the 2011 Best Fan Writer Hugo. She’s a former President of ANZAPA and a conrunner (up to and including the Worldcon level). She’s worked on clubs, fan funds, and awards administration. She is one of the Guests of Honor of the 2024 Worldcon in Glasgow. And she still enjoys reading and watching SF. 

Kate Heffner – Kate Heffner (she/they) is a PhD researcher at the University of Kent England in the Department of History and an adjunct faculty member in the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Iowa. She is completing her dissertation entitled ‘A Fanzine of Her Own: Femme Fans in the Post-War Era.’ She is the recipient of the 2022 Peter Nicholls prize for best essay and a former judge for the Arthur C Clarke Award. For the last several years, she has also been adding to 

Leah Zeldes Smith – A retired journalist, Leah has been an actifan for more than 50 years, since she was a young teenager. She is a fanzine fan, and her zine STET was nominated for the Best Fanzine Hugo 3 times (1993, 1994, 2001). She’s a DUFF winner (93). She’s been involved with APAs, clubs and convention running. Leah’s involvement in documenting fanhistory dates back several decades. She has been a mainstay of Fancyclopedia, and has made thousands of updates to the site. Recently she’s pulled together a list of Fandom Firsts.

Part 2: 

Description: Women did not magically appear in fandom with the advent of Star Trek, but have been part of science fiction fandom since the earliest days. They’re faneds, and convention chairs, writers and artists, club fans and costumers. Sometimes, they’re all of the above. In this part 2 of the session (Mar 2024), our panelists Claire Brialey, Kate Heffner and Leah Zeldes Smith continue to talk about why early female fans have received less credit than they deserved, or been overlooked entirely, and describe the contributions of a number of them.

Women discussed here include Ina Shorrock, Bobbie Gray, and Ethel Lindsay. There’s more about Femizine, the impact that early female fans can have on younger generations today, and whether women fans today will experience the same sorts of erasure. At about 32 minutes in, Q&A from the audience begins, with the difficulty of researching women fans, especially those that change their names multiple times, and anecdotes of Nan Gerding, Lynette Mills, Fuzzy Pink Niven, and Noreen Shaw. Maggie Thompson contributes a wonderful anecdote about her mother SF author Betsy Curtis and Tony Boucher. The recording concludes with a welcome discussion of how women have been treated in fandom in recent years.

(14) OSCARS A RISING TIDE FOR THESE ACTORS. JustWatch asked: (1) Which movies featuring Oscar-winners Emma Stone and Cillian Murphy are the most popular with audiences? (2) Are their 2024 Oscar-winning pictures at the top?

Key Insights

Poor Things is topping our popularity ranking, with an overall popularity of 48.6% among global audiences. The Favourite, her other Oscar winning performance, is no surprise in second place. Followed by La La Land, which was also a top contender during the 2016 Oscars. Surprisingly, Cruella ranked lower on the list, even though it was a big budget Disney project. 

Oppenheimer blew away Cillian Murphy’s other movies, garnering more than 60% of global popularity. Inception, another Christopher Nolan project, took second place. Dunkirk, A Quiet Place, and The Dark Knight also ranked in our top 1010. 

We created this report by using our JustWatch Streaming Charts, which are calculated by user activity, including clicking on a streaming offer, adding a title to a watchlist, and marking a title as ‘seen’. This data is collected from >40 million movie & TV show fans per month. It is updated daily for 140 countries and 4,500 streaming services.

(15) DON’T BOTHER ME, I’M BUSY. The form letter Robert A. Heinlein devised to answer his mail is making the rounds again. In the Seventies when I heard this existed I wrote him a fan letter in hopes of receiving a copy in reply, and I did — though it was a later variation than this one. (Click for larger image.)

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Arriving in theaters on September 9: “’Beetlejuice Beetlejuice’ Trailer: ‘The Juice Is Loose’ In Sequel Teaser”. Let Deadline lead the way.

… The logline: Still haunted by Beetlejuice, Lydia’s life is turned upside down when her rebellious teenage daughter, Astrid (Ortega), discovers the mysterious model of the town in the attic and the portal to the Afterlife is accidentally opened. With trouble brewing in both realms, it’s only a matter of time until someone says Beetlejuice’s name three times and the mischievous demon returns to unleash his very own brand of mayhem….

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Kathy Sullivan, Ersatz Culture, Zionius, James Bacon, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 3/17/24 Raindrops Keep Scrollin’ On My Thread

(1) THE SOUND OF IRISH MUSIC. C.J. Cherryh put her readers in a holiday mood at Facebook. Read the full post there.

It’s an important holiday for me not because of the mythical snakes, but because of the pipers, and the fact I so love traditional Gaelic music and dancing….

… My ancestry’s a mess of people who spent a lot of time fighting each other—England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, up one side and down. But I don’t celebrate the old wars. I celebrate that we survived all of it, and can remember the songs and the dancing.

(2) THE FLIP SIDE. [Item by James Bacon.] The Irish entry into the Eurovision by Bambie Thug, “Doomsday Blue” is utterly brilliant. 

Here is Bambie Thug talking about themselves before being on The Late Late Show.

Spotify song link and Eurovision video link also.

(3) KELLY LINK Q&A. We learn how “Kelly Link Is Committed to the Fantastic” in an interview with The New Yorker. “The MacArthur-winning author on the worthwhile frivolity of the fantasy genre, how magic is and is not like a credit card, and why she hates to write but does it anyway.”

Is there a connection between your religious upbringing and the fantasy you write now?

What religion and fantasy have in common is that the reader knows, going in, that they’ll be asked to imagine that the world might be different from the way it is now. They’ll be asked to imagine the possibility of a world that is radically transformed. I salute and love the fact that fantasy is, in some ways, a frivolous genre. You read a genre book not necessarily because you feel you’re going to learn something. Sometimes it’s because the structure of a particular genre produces patterns that are pleasurable to engage with.

I didn’t expect you to say that the fantasy genre was frivolous!

It’s a story I have to tell myself when I’m working. That I am engaged in a practice which, on some level, is frivolous. I am imagining changes to the world that produce a kind of delight, not necessarily trying to describe the world in the way that it is.

It’s not that the fantastic can’t be used as a tool to do serious and pointed work. Plenty of genre writers do exactly that. But I am committed to the idea that there is something, aside from utility, in the excess and play of imagination that fantasy allows as a genre. I couldn’t write if I felt that I had something which needed to be said…

(4) FANTASY WHACKS SF AT THE BOX OFFICE! Oh, the embarrassment. (Er, I mean, “Oh, how great!” for you fantasy fans.) “Box Office: ‘Kung Fu Panda 4’ & ‘Dune: Part Two’ Fight For No. 1”. Deadline is keeping score.

SUNDAY AM UPDATE: The whole marketplace is coming in lighter than expected at $89M, which is -3% off from the same frame a year ago when Shazam Fury of the Gods did $30M. That’s exactly what the second weekend is for Kung Fu Panda 4 which is a great hold at -48%, rising to $107.7M stateside running total. Legendary/Warner Bros’ Dune Part Two isn’t far behind with $29.1M, -37%, for a running total of $205.3M. The domestic endgame on the sequel is expected to be around $275M….

(5) GAME MAKERS FACING HARASSMENT. WIRED covers the attempt to run back an ugly piece of the culture wars in “The Small Company at the Center of ‘Gamergate 2.0’”.

The accusations began around the release of Spider-Man 2 last October. More came when Alan Wake II hit a week later. They were all over the replies to the social media accounts of Sweet Baby Inc.: hateful comments, many of which hinged on the idea that the Montreal-based narrative development and consulting company was responsible for the “wokeification” of video games, recalls Kim Belair, the company’s CEO.

In the months following, the noise only increased. “You made this character Black, or you added these gay characters, or you ruined the story,” Belair says of the comments, the tone of which, she adds, never changed. Neither have the demands of the people behind them. “It’s usually, ‘leave the industry,’” Belair says, or admit there’s truth to wild conspiracy theories about being involved with investment company BlackRock. (Sweet Baby is not.) Or, more succinctly: “Die.”

Online, those clamoring for Sweet Baby’s demise are calling it Gamergate 2.0, invoking the online harassment campaign that erupted into a culture war a decade ago. Gamergate formalized the playbook for online harassment used by hate groups and the far right; it inspired figures who would later tap into that outrage and rise all the way to positions of power, such as chief strategist in the White House. The two movements do share a handful of similarities: harassment campaigns flooded with falsehoods and accusations bordering on conspiracy; attacks aimed primarily at women and people of color; the idea that video game culture for cis white men is being stolen from them.

“People want to believe that our work is surgically removing the things that they would have liked. ‘Change this line, make this line less racist,’” she says. “That’s just not the reality of it.”…

(6) MAKE YOUR MOVE WITH THE RED KNIGHT. You still have two days to bid on “Vlad the Impaler’s Red Armor” from the movie Dracula (1992) in the “Treasures from Planet Hollywood” event at Heritage Auctions.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Columbia, 1992), Gary Oldman “Vlad the Impaler” Red Armor Display Figure. Original reproduction armor made from molded fiberglass components covering a ribbed, cotton body suit with separate arm extensions. Armor includes full head helmet and corresponding plate guards. Display figure features a foam body with wire armature mounted on a wooden support platform for easy display. It measures approx. 71″ x 28″ x 11″ (wood base to mask horns). The figure is dressed in the iconic red armor that Vlad/Dracula (Gary Oldman) wore at the beginning of the Francis Ford Coppola film. Exhibits display wear, chipping in fiberglass pieces, detached components, cracking, discoloration and general age. Special shipping arrangements will apply. Obtained from technical advisor Christopher Gilman. Comes with a COA from Heritage Auctions.

(7) TIKTOK IS FOCUS OF PROPOSED LAW. A Pew Research Center daily newsletter reports:

The House of Representatives passed a bill March 13 with bipartisan support that would require TikTok’s China-based parent company to either sell the app or risk a ban in the United States. The legislation now heads to the Senate, where its fate is unclear. [The full story is behind a New York Times paywall.]

While a majority of Americans said in May 2023 that TikTok is at least a minor threat to U.S. national security, support for a TikTok ban fell over the course of the year, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. In fall 2023, 38% of U.S. adults said they would support the U.S. government banning TikTok, down from 50% who said the same in March 2023.

Overall, a third of U.S. adults (33%) say they use the video-based platform, and the share who say they regularly get news from TikTok has risen sharply in recent years, from 3% in 2020 to 14% in 2023.

(8) SCENES FROM THE AUTHOR’S EXPERIENCE. Cora Buhlert’s compelling photo narrative about the WWII destruction of Dresden follows Gideon Marcus’ (unenthusiastic) review of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five – newly released this month (which at Galactic Journey is March 1969, 55 years ago): “[March 14, 1969 ] (March 1969 Galactoscope)”.

…. I have never seen Dresden before 1945, though my grandmother who grew up in the area told me it was a beautiful city and how much she missed attending performances at the striking Semper opera house, which was largely destroyed by the bombings and is in the process of being rebuilt (The proposed completion date is 1985). However, I have visited the modern Dresden with its constant construction activity and incongruous mix of burned out ruins, historical buildings in various stages of reconstruction and newly constructed modernist office and apartment blocks and could keenly feel what was lost….

(9) PHOTOS OF THE STOPA FAMILY. With an assist from Andrew Porter, I rounded up a few more photos of Jon and Joni Stopa, and their daughter Debbie. All now passed away. [Click for larger images.]


[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 17, 1926 Peter Graves. (Died 2010.) Now Peter Graves is truly interesting. Paramount + has the Mission: Impossible series, so I watched all of it from beginning to end even before Peter Graves was James “Jim” Phelps of the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) for seasons two to seven. He was superb in the role which, like the series, held up very well when I rewatched it.

He would reprise this character during the writers’ strike. Now the producers couldn’t hire new writers obviously, so they literally went into the vaults for previously written material. Yes, they used scripts that were rejected the first time. Was the new Mission Impossible any good? I think so. 

Peter Graves in 1967.

They did new characters even though the idiots at Paramount wanted them the original characters recast, and some of original characters showed up here. (The strike ended while they were still filming so they have fresh scripts.) 

He refused to reprise this role (which would be played by Jon Voight) in the first film of the Mission: Impossible film franchise, after reading the script and discovering the character would be revealed to be a traitor and the primary villain of the film.

He did do a lot of genre films — Red Planet Mars which appears to a rather decent piece of early Fifties SF, Killers from Space (also known as The Man Who Saved the Earth) with Big Eyed Monsters and aliens, It Conquered the World with a Venusian alien, The Eye Creatures (alternatively shown as Attack of the Eye Creatures with, oh guess), Scream of the Wolf, oh look no aliens, Where Have All the People Gone? in which you can guess what happens, Addams Family Values which he narrates, he appears as himself in House on Haunted Hill which he dies in, MIB II as well, and finally he’s in a film (uncredited) that I wish I hadn’t seen, Looney Tunes: Back in Action.

 Now let’s see what other genre TV he did other than Mission: Impossible. There’s two one-offs, The Invaders and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

(11) FIRE CLAIMS ACTOR’S LA MANSION. “Cara Delevingne’s Los Angeles home destroyed in fire”AP News has the story. Delevingne has a deep genre resume, including roles in American Horror Story, Futurama, Carnival Row, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Suicide Squad, and Pan.

The Los Angeles home of model and actor Cara Delevingne was destroyed in a fire Friday [March 15].

One firefighter was taken to a hospital in fair condition with unspecified injuries, and one unidentified person from the house suffered minor smoke inhalation, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Nicholas Prange said….

…The cause was under investigation.

The 31-year-old London-born Delevingne became widely known as a fashion model in the early 2010s and later began acting, appearing in the 2016 DC Comics film “Suicide Squad” and director Luc Besson’s 2017 “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.”

(12) SHOW ME THE MONEY. At Deadline, “Billy Dee Williams Says “Pay Me A Lot Of Money” To Return To ‘Star Wars’ As Lando & Shares Thoughts On Donald Glover Taking On Character”.

…Williams said he has met Glover and shared the advice he gave the actor about taking on the role.

“I had a nice little lunch with him. He’s a delightful young man. Extremely talented. But I don’t see him… I mean, when it comes to Lando Calrissian there’s only one Lando Calrissian. I created that character,” he said. “I told him to be charming – two words! That’s all I needed to tell him. That’s all I could think of.”

Last year, Glover shared details of his encounter with Williams recalling that he gave him the “secret” on how to play Lando by telling him to “just be charming.”

“He’s right, Lando is charm incarnate,” Glover said in an interview with GQ. “He’s kind of a maverick, which I don’t think there’s a lot of anymore. It’s hard to be a smooth talker nowadays ’cause, where’s the line? But I think that’s also where the danger is. It’s like, how close can you get without tripping over it?”…

(13) UP ON THE ROOFTOP. The Guardian has a little different take on vacuum and space: “Cosmic cleaners: the scientists scouring English cathedral roofs for space dust”.

On the roof of Canterbury Cathedral, two planetary scientists are searching for cosmic dust. While the red brick parapet hides the streets, buildings and trees far below, only wispy clouds block the deep blue sky that extends into outer space.

The roaring of a vacuum cleaner breaks the silence and researcher Dr Penny Wozniakiewicz, dressed in hazmat suit with a bulky vacuum backpack, carefully traces a gutter with the tube of the suction machine.

“We’re looking for tiny microscopic spheres,” explains her colleague, Dr Matthias van Ginneken from the University of Kent, also clad in protective gear. “Right now, we are collecting thousands and thousands of dust particles, and we hope there will be a minuscule number that came from space.”’

(14) HOW FIT IS OUR GALAXY? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] In this week’s Science journal asks, “How massive is the Milky Way?”

It looks like our galaxy is a tad slimmer than thought???

The total mass of an isolated galaxy can be determined from its rotation curve, a plot of orbital velocity against distance from the galaxy’s center. Determining the rotation curve is difficult for the Milky Way because we are located inside of it. Ou et al. used a machine learning method to improve distance determinations for stars on the red giant branch, then used the stars’ velocities to extend the Milky Way’s rotation curve to 30 kiloparsecs from the Galactic Center. By fitting a mass model to the rotation curve, the authors found a lower mass for the Milky Way than was found in previous studies because of differences in the inferred distribution of dark matter.

Science journal coverage here — scroll down a little

Primary research here.

(15) SEND EELS TO OTHER WORLDS. In this week’s Science we have a brief report of a new robot designed to explore gas giant moons that may have a sub-surface ocean harboring life… “Snaking around extreme icy worlds”.

There is growing interest in the exploration of icy moons such as Enceladus because of the potential for these worlds to have liquid water that could support Earth-like life. However, obtaining samples is challenging because of environmental extremities on the surface or within ice vents. Vaquero et al. developed a snake-like robot named Exobiology Extant Life Surveyor (EELS) that was capable of autonomously navigating on icy surfaces. EELS has a perception head that contains a series of sensors and cameras to observe its environment, and its body has articulated segments for shape changing and a screw-like outer surface to enable motility. EELS shows potential for risk-aware autonomous exploration of complex icy terrains.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Cat Eldridge.] View the unsold 1959 pilot for a Nero Wolfe series with Kurt Kasznar as Nero Wolfe and William Shatner as Archie Goodwin. The theme was composed by Alex North. This 26-minute pilot is in the public domain.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Cora Buhlert, James Bacon, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]

Journey Planet Call for Submissions: “Be The Change”

Paul Weimer joins James Bacon and Christopher J. Garcia in a forthcoming issue of Journey Planet that focuses on the future of the Hugo awards, looking at realistic and achievable solutions to prevent a recurrence of what occurred in 2023.  

Button created by Brad Templeton’s ClariNet the day after a mixup in announcing a 1992 Hugo winner.

Paul is one of a number of people who were treated appallingly by the Chengdu Worldcon, whose valid nomination was arbitrarily made ineligible by Dave McCarty under Ben Yalow, in the disastrous Chengdu Hugo Awards corruption of 2023

This fanzine considers what next, looking forward, looking at solutions, looking to rebuild trust, honesty, respectfulness and democracy.

The editors welcome hearing from fellow fans who are keen to see through changes. To be part of the change, to help see it through. 

This issue will work to bring together ideas, and imaginative but manageable proposals that other fans can galvanise around.  

We know many fans already have thrown themselves into considerable amounts of work, ensuring the Hugo’s are spectacular, transparent and democratic with check points and if they have time, we will see what they too think, as well as seeking input from experienced practitioners, who are like ourselves appalled, but may have views on workloads and feasibility. 

Making the argument now is important, to ensure there is support, as fans will be at Glasgow in person, or have representatives, to speak for and vote on motions.    

There has been much hot air, obfuscation and silence. Figuring things out with the people who will have to work to deliver on any changes is vitally important. Moving notions and ideas forward needs the engagement and the views of those by all stakeholders directly impacted while welcoming all who from the community who wish to be part of the solution.  

While many parts of Fandom have had vast amounts of activity, discussion and engagement, we hope we can create a focus point for distilling these into potential motions and suggestions.  Contributions will have limitations in length, (1,200 words) and also contributors will be asked to state if they will be at Glasgow willing to put forward their argument. 

We will work to connect common ideas, to see if consensus can be formed, while also seeking an understanding of the mechanics required from a parliamentary perspective. We have planned with Mike Glyer to then publish the articles in order on File 770 for broader consideration and looking to galvanise consensus.

Paul wants to focus on  “What is to be Done”, a more productive approach than speculation on the whys and wherefores, and how important it is to “be part of the change” and we welcome that. 

Contributors are welcome to contact [email protected] 

The High Ground: Guest Post by James Bacon

By James Bacon: I cannot actually recall exactly when I saw the episode “The High Ground”, but I am sure it was in Malahide, County Dublin, at Ireland’s greatest Star Trek convention, Timewarp, held on the 6th and 7th of March 1993.

In Dublin, Ireland, we would have been watching RTE or BBC for ST:TNG episodes, months and years after airing in the US. Fans of course would work around problems, would communicate and share videos. NTSC ones would come over and be shown at gatherings in sitting rooms, evening events and conventions. It was a massive amount of excitement. 

The British Broadcasting Corporation, a public service broadcaster funded by government imposed TV licences, was never what I would call an impartial player. Although they aspire in these modern times to be impartial, their reportage of matters relating to Ireland was very poor. 

The level of probing and enquiry was non-existent at times and when British Army Officers said something had happened in the 1970’s, the BBC willingly reported it as accurate, factual, and then decades later happy to blame those who told the mistake ridden story. 

“The High Ground” was banned by the BBC. 

RTE the Irish National Broadcaster, not known for its liberal view at the best of times also decided to ban it. 

Historically it was not the only Star Trek episode that was banned by the BBC. The BBC, who had the rights to show the original Star Trek series, and where I first saw the series in the eighties, would not show “Miri”,  “Plato’s Stepchildren”,  “The Empath”, or “Whom Gods Destroy”. These were deemed too much for children, and indeed “Miri” had been received by the British public with much concern and complaint. 

Repeatedly fans asked for the episodes to be shown, and they were shown in Britain in the 70’s at Star Trek Conventions. The BBC stated upon repeated request that “After very careful consideration a top level decision was made not to screen the episodes entitled ‘Empath’, ‘Whom Gods Destroy’, ‘Plato’s Stepchildren’ and ‘Miri’, because they all dealt most unpleasantly with the already unpleasant subjects of madness, torture, sadism and disease.”

It will not go amiss amongst fans that “Plato’s Stepchildren” is a vital episode, when it comes to diversity, as it featured the kiss between Lieutenant Uhura and Captain Kirk. 

Gene Roddenberry spoke at a Newcastle convention in 1984 about it, and was clearly unhappy that they were not to be shown. Fans were vocal, and also persistent in writing letters and making their concerns known. 

As well as banning four episodes, the heavy hand of the censor from the BBC was at play and many episodes had adjustments made. “The Man Trap”, “Patterns Of Force”, “Bread And Circuses” and the “Enemy Within” had scenes of violence removed. 

Seven episodes were edited for time, but it was not clear if this was pureley for time reasons, or because some sensibility in the BBC was offended or concerned. In one instance, “Arena” was edited and the BBC took time to tell the Star Trek Action Group that “it is not BBC practice to show the exact process by which gunpowder is made… to prevent the children emulating their heroes”.

Sky One, a satellite channel, did a deal with the BBC to air TOS in 1990 and they showed all the episodes and so were the first channel to show the three season 3 episodes ever in Britain. Sky’s run were the ones I recall watching avidly, every day, at 5pm if I recall correctly. The BBC did show them, themselves, in 1994 and indeed these were new copies. Which was good. 

The Next Generation therefore, so many years after The Original Series would escape the censor redaction methods, you might think, and as you know, they weren’t.

TNG episodes “Conspiracy” and “The Icarus Factor” were edited by the BBC and later some episode fell foul to the The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), previously the British Board of Film Censors. 

Yet “High Ground” was not shown by the BBC in the UK and Ireland, or by RTE, the Irish National Broadcaster at all. It was still worthy of a BBC news article in 2007, when a Northern Ireland Arts Festival deemed to show it and again more recently.

The BBC was no fan of science fiction in my view and would dump Doctor Who and had little interest in Star Trek in 1987 when TNG aired in the USA. So it was that TNG was first aired in the UK and Ireland by the BBC on the 26th of September 1990, quite some time after it had been shown in the USA, and luckily for me, I was already a comics fan who enjoyed Star Trek, and unaware and so it was exciting, as so much happened so quickly. 

Sometimes as I watched it, I would get a  bit confused, not unsurprisingly when one considers that the BBC showed many of the  first season episodes out of order. I was no hardcore fan, my friends were watching it, I enjoyed, and my pals like Mick and Phil were avid fans, and one watched and enjoyed it and chatted about it.

At this time Star Trek became huge in Ireland. Octocon, the National SF convention in 1992 was mislabelled as a Star Trek event and it caused so many difficulties, doubling attendees to over 600 as hundreds more people turned up than expected. To the disdain of many, this was not the plan, but to others, this was opportunity.

Star Trek fandom exploded, and many who ran Octocon joined other fans and helped start a Star Trek fanclub, Starbase Ireland which ran events, Federation Day, and as a club, I joined. There were many conventions, there were multiple Irecon’s, Q-Con with John De Lancie in attendance, VisiCon with Nana Visitor.

But really in 1993 there was Timewarp, which was amazing. Again, the Octocon peeps had a major hand amongst others, which in many ways was brilliant. Philippa and Helen Ryder and Noreen Monahan had chaired the first three Octocons successfully, and there was a changing of the guard after 1992 that was tricky, but which saw Pádraig Ó Méalóid step into the breach to co-chair with Jame’s Peart and I was welcomed from staffer, to committee at only 18, and joined the likes of Maura McHugh onto the Octocon committee.

Timewarp at the time was Ireland’s largest conventions with well over 1,000 people and a fabulously amazing event. It was exciting. I watched on a lot, and many of my friends really embraced it all, while I enjoyed the bits I enjoyed, and longed for more Star Wars, worked the Octocon fan table, drank and danced.

I cannot recall where I saw “High Ground”, but know that it was at Timewarp for sure, absolutely, one hundred percent, I think. There was excitement about its screening, and I may have seen it there as it was exclusively shown. 

And, this was all great. One doesn’t need to be fully immersed in a fandom to enjoy it, and I found this with Trek, meeting some great people, with massive passions and enjoying their company, and indeed, mocking the Red Shirts for their heavy handedness, as the Ops team were as ever zealous about their duties and all in Red shirts, some good pals to this day, 31 years later.

George Takei was a phenomenal guest, his spirit and humour, and generosity was incredible. (See RTÉ Archives: “Star Trek Boldly Goes To Malahide”.)

“The High Ground”, originally aired in 1990, was not due to air until early January 1992, as the BBC showed the episodes weekly from 1990, and it just was never shown. This may sound odd to the US fan, but unfortunately the US got to see tv and films months ahead of Europe. 

The BBC lost the rights to show Star Trek, which given it was BBC2’s highest rating TV, was typical.  And so to the few moments of science fiction, with an alternative history, that saw two national broadcasters ban Star Trek

Here is an excerpt from the script, written by Melinda Snodgrass, to help illustrate how quick this was. I was expecting a hotbed of rebellious sentiment and anarchism, the cook book open, and a preparedness to really agitate. Instead, there are a few thoughtful lines between Picard and Data, and I often wonder if the same lines would work between Kirk and Spock, they were mere utterances, a little alternative history in a science fiction programme. 

DATA: Dimensional shifting is such an unstable procedure, sir, that I cannot say. Sir, I am finding it difficult to understand many aspects of Ansata conduct. Much of their behavioral norm would be defined by my programme as unnecessary and unacceptable. 

PICARD: By my programme as well, Data.

DATA: But if that is so, Captain, why are their methods so often successful? I have been reviewing the history of armed rebellion and it appears that terrorism is an effective way to promote political change.

PICARD: Yes, it can be, but I have never subscribed to the theory that political power flows from the barrel of a gun.

DATA: Yet there are numerous examples where it was successful. The independence of the Mexican State from Spain, the Irish Unification of 2024, and the Kensey Rebellion.

PICARD: Yes, I am aware of them.

DATA: Then would it be accurate to say that terrorism is acceptable when all options for peaceful settlement have been foreclosed?

PICARD: Data, these are questions that mankind has been struggling with throughout history. Your confusion is only human.

Confusion over complex human issues, is not a poor thing. It seemed, even in context of the overall episode, mild. 

The Troubles started in 1968, and the death toll peaked in 1972 with nearly 500 people killed. The Seventies were extraordinarily brutal, and between 1973 and 1976 the toll was between 250 and 300 a year, then it went to around 100 a year, dropping to a low of 57 in 1985. But for 1988, it was 105 and 1989 was 75 and by 1991 ninety-six people who died seemed all too real. All too horrible, and all so distant from Dublin, where I was immersed in comics, science fiction, and the ideas of going to conventions. It seemed far away, and by the time I was dating a Star Trek fan from Portadown in 1995 it was all quiet and coming to an end.

So, it was a raw time for sure. 1992 was a year of much sorrow. The Teebane bombing saw eight Protestant workmen killed, a RUC police officer reportedly distraught by the killing of a colleague shot dead two Sinn Féin activists and one civilian. The Sean Graham bookmakers’ shooting saw Five Catholic men and boys killed and then another betting shop in Belfast saw the killing of three Catholic civilians. Coalisland RUC base in County Tyrone was attacked, and the British Army ambushed the unit, killing two. A truck bomb at the Baltic Exchange in London killed three civilians and caused £800 million worth of damage. Cloghoge checkpoint was bombed, killing a soldier and wounding 23.  The Coalisland riots saw a variety of violence, resulting in rioters being shot at, while a soldier was killed by sniper. A 2000 lb bomb at the Northern Ireland Forensic Science Laboratory in South Belfast. The laboratory was obliterated, seven hundred houses were damaged, and 20 people were injured. These are just the larger occurrences, so many injuries and punishment beatings or shootings, and the horror of war. 

So it was a time of violence and sensitivity. Yet, fans were travelling up and down across the border, and enjoying conventions and good company, regardless of religion. It felt like a dreadful imposition to be not allowed to watch a simple TV programme, and a continuation of the heavy handedness of government backed broadcasters. Yet, it really didn’t matter, it was just another challenge for fans. 

And fans worked around it. When Sky One showed it, it was edited and only broadcast unedited in May 2006. Indeed, the BBC showed this unedited version in September 2007. Seventeen years after its screening.

The fannish relationships transcended sectarianism; guests at science fiction conventions would be from all sides of the border and it made no difference at all. I never heard a fan use the episode to justify or politicise an element of the Troubles, and indeed, this article may be about as political as it has been, my own cynicism and disdain for authority showing through.

It was a great time for fans, joined in the universal desire to have a good time, hang out, take part in raffles, drink, and meet and chat and make friends.

Despite 1992 being a dreadfully violent year, the Northern Ireland peace process was near, initially privately behind closed doors, and in 1994 the provisional IRA had a ceasefire and despite a return to violence, there was a second ceasefire and  the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, saw politics take centre stage. 

I was so surprised when I saw “The High Ground”. It was possibly more of an analog of the American Revolutionary War rather than the Troubles and indeed Washington was referenced. Was he a terrorist who won? It is a wonderful question, and of course years before America herself became such a large terrorist target. 

It sounded like Picard was trying to show Data that the complexities of human affairs are confusing, and difficult, and it was such a quick reference, and such a short set of lines, that, why would anyone get upset about it too much. Yet that was the way it was, while some castigate the way American TV has portrayed some European elements and indeed, I was not always impressed as expressed already, I thought that it was bit much to ban this episode, and was a bit nonplussed by it all.

That was OK. I recall being much more interested in dancing with friends at Timewarp, and meeting fans from a different heritage, background and community to my own, and not really being too worried about the politics and more worried about whether the next song would be good for us to dance to, Star Trek fandom doing its bit for cross community relationships, bringing diversity together, overcoming societal bigotry and not at all being the concern that must have been on the mind of the censors.  

This article originally appeared in edited form in Journey Planet in 2018, all and any inaccuracies are the fault of the correspondent’s flawed memory.

Pixel Scroll 2/19/24 Pease Porridge In The Pot Nine Days Scrolled

(1) LEAVING THE HAMC. Cheryl Morgan’s 7-point “Public Statement re the Hugos” at Cheryl’s Mewsings explains why she recently resigned from WSFS’ Hugo Awards Marketing Committee. It says in part:

3. As a member of the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee it was my duty to ensure that the results of the Hugo Award voting process were posted to the official website promptly and accurately, as they were supplied to us by each year’s Worldcon, including those from Chengdu. We had no authority to comment on or change those results in any way.

4. I am not, nor ever have been, a member of the WSFS Mark Protection Committee (MPC).

5. I am not, nor ever have been, a Director of Worldcon Intellectual Property (WIP), and have no financial stake in that organisation. WIP was created from the corporation that ran the SF&F Translation Awards (of which I was a Director), but no directorships carried over from the one organisation to the other, save for Kevin Standlee who is a Director of WIP because of his membership of the MPC.

6. I resigned from the Hugo Award Marketing Committee, primarily because I no longer wish to be held responsible for (including being subject to legal and reputational risk for) the actions of organisations of which I am not a member and over which I have no influence….

(2) DAVE MCCARTY SEXUAL HARASSMENT ALLEGATIONS. McCarty’s name is in the news because of the Hugos, but two people today shared other grievances at Bluesky.

Meg Frank said on Bluesky: “Dave McCarty is emotionally abusive, generally manipulative, and has sexually harassed myself and numerous others. I’ve spoken openly about this and made CoC complaints when possible. He is not a missing stair, he is a creepy handyman who has been using his previous community service as a shield.”

Jesi Lipp added, “I’ve never made it a secret that he groped me at a Smofcon in 2011 and it has always been largely treated as a non-issue.”

(3) AI COVER TRACED TO SOURCE. Cassandra L. Thompson draws attention back to the Gothikana AI book cover story on Threads

Thompson’s comment appears to be in response to a TikTok video by emmaskies.


Replying to @be_kindful That didn’t take long. This is beyond lazy. I still can’t believe anyone approved the use of these really poorly AI-generated assets. Here’s a thought, if you can’t find good stock images to fit the creative vision HIRE AN ARTIST TO MAKE THEM. ???? #torbooks #brambleromance #gothikana #runyx #aiart #noaiart #bookcover #bookcovers #booktok #darkromance #emmaskiesreads

? original sound – emmaskies

(4) DRAWN THAT WAY. Novelist Kelly Link tells the Guardian “‘I was drawn to the monsters and half-naked women on fantasy covers’”. Here’s an excerpt from the interview.

The book that changed me as a teenager
I was a weekend lurker in the fantasy and science fiction section of my local bookstore, eager to spend my weekly allowance, but overwhelmed by the selection. I was drawn to the monsters and half-naked women on the paperback covers of Arthur Saha’s Year’s Best Fantasy anthologies, but too embarrassed for a long time to bring one up to the counter and pay for it. When, eventually, I got up the nerve, I found the stories uniformly enthralling, and the bookseller didn’t bat an eye. After that, I grew much more bold about what I wanted to read, regardless of how lurid the cover might be.

Kelly Link in 2016

(5) NEW TOU ARE DOA. Writer Beware’s Victoria Strauss reports “Outrage Over New Terms of Use at Findaway Voices Forces Change”. Pushback against Findaway/Spotify’s new Terms of Use succeeded in bringing about a substantial revision.

…Unsurprisingly, the new license terms generated a storm of criticism. Judging by what I saw on social media, and by what authors who alerted me to the new TOU told me, many rights holders took steps to cancel their contracts. Findaway/Spotify appears to have been caught completely flat-footed by the backlash.

… There’s still some vagueness (“otherwise use”) and I note the inclusion of “training” (AI training? It’s not clear, although I think the language following suggests not).

But it is a substantial change, and it does address the criticism of the original version. The license is no longer irrevocable or royalty-free. “Translate” and “modify” have been removed, as has the derivative works language. There’s no longer a moral rights waiver. And, pretty clearly in response to authors’ and narrators’ concerns, the final sentence rules out using audiobook files to create new works based on the original, or to create new machine voices, unless the rights holder gives permission (although, if I were a narrator, I might wonder whether “new” in that context creates a loophole for duplicating an existing voice).

There are two ways to look at what happened here. One is that Spotify tried an egregious rights grab, got called out for it, and did what greedy corporations sometimes do when challenged: walked it back, though not quite completely. The other is that Spotify did not anticipate the backlash, and whether because it recognized the validity of the criticism or simply saw that its self-interest was at stake, reconsidered and implemented the change.

Regardless, I do think that Findaway/Spotify deserves some credit….

(6) KERFUFFLE OVERDOSE. Maya St. Clair delivers “The last News from the Orb”.

This week, I took down that psychoanalytic take I did about Cait Corrain. Reception of the piece was positive, but I’d started to feel rankled and uncomfortable when I saw it on my page, like I needed a shower….

St. Clair’s explanation deserves a click-through to read. And I truly empathize with the next paragraph.

…As the Internet plunges its talons further into everybody’s brains, this kind of doom spiral is going to get harder to resist. The SFF, publishing, and book-reading communities have largely chosen their futures, and it’s more of this codependency: more controversies, more incidents called Something-Gate, more of that awful, druglike disgust that keeps one fixated. As writers, we could follow along: delve into endless Internet research, throw around receipts, assemble our alembics and phials and glass curlicues and try to distil the final Take on this week’s Cait Corrain. Or maybe we could think about literally anything else….

(7) THOSE WERE THE DAYS, MY FRIEND. Peter Wood discusses “The Pros and Cons of Nostalgia” at Asimov’s SF blog From Earth to the Stars.

Margaret Atwood  and I both grew up in large Canadian cities and our fathers ran summer camps in rural Ontario. Atwood’s father, a forest entomologist, took his family from Toronto into the wilds of Ontario to live with graduate students. As a teenager, Atwood worked as a camp counselor for three years.

I tell you this, because our family lived at the northern Ontario summer camp my Dad ran for the Ottawa Boys Club every summer until we moved to Florida. I worked for three years as a camp counselor in college. No need to cue the Twilight Zone music, but the settings of two of Atwood’s short story collections—Moral Disorder and Cats Eye—spoke to me because of her descriptions of rustic Ontario in the summer and cold dark winters in Toronto.

Like Atwood, I often use my own memories to embellish my writing. “Une Time Machine, S’il Vous Plait” has scenes in a summer camp in northern Ontario and sections in  the dead of winter in Toronto and Ottawa in the 1970s. Those scenes were some of the easiest in the short story to put to paper, because they are still vivid to me. Their impressions are much stronger than memories of much more recent events….

(8) DAVE MCKEAN Q&A. The Comics Journal’s Jake Zawlacki has a long, probing interview with Dave McKean. One question is about Midjourney. “’I Will Always Choose Reality’: Dave McKean, Retrospective”.

…It seems that AI may be soon having its day. Early in the book you tease a reason for Thalamus finally coming about and mention an “emergency final page.” When we get to the end, you offer a very honest experience with using Midjourney, and how you felt you needed to accommodate AI in your work, or quit. To start, how do you feel about someone typing in “Dave McKean style comic book cover” into Midjourney and using the result?

I had completed the book by June of last year, and had written that last page as a much more positive paragraph with walking anecdotes and bird pictures and a sense that I’d never felt more professionally fulfilled and personally happy as I did at the time, partly because I really enjoyed putting the book together and revisiting so much stuff that I determinedly had not looked back at for decades. But then the Midjourney thing happened and suddenly the book took on a whole other meaning for me, it was literally the end of my era, from now on my life is pre and post AI.

To start? I consider that action to be theft, the final image will be trained on my work without my knowledge, agreement, or any reimbursement. It’s fraudulent, because the user will consider it their work when my name is in the prompt, surely no simpler paper trail has ever existed for a fraud court case? So then it also makes a difference to me whether this is just one person at home having some fun with a new tech toy and not taking it any further, or someone selling that image, and there’s a greyscale of uses in between. The legal side is a minefield, and we really haven’t caught up with the implications. And finally, and most importantly in this case, the people I’ve talked to who are enthusiastic about AI actually believe this is a creative act. Typing a few words into a bot, and they will tell you how much they thought about the exact words to use, and tweaked the prompt 20-odd times, but this is essentially typing a few words into a bot and waiting a minute. This is such a denuded idea of what creativity is, they are only fooling themselves. There will always be artists who will use it as a tool and be very clear and thorough about staying on the right side of perceived moral lines, but I think they are hypnotized by the shiny new thing. They will be the Trojan horse that wrecks the notion of art, something which has carefully evolved over tens of thousands of years and helped shape the best of us, trashed by glorified predictive text. And you have no idea how sad it is for me to hear artists justify this work with the sort of evasive, relativist art-bollocks that has corrupted the contemporary gallery market….

(9) BISHOP REMEMBERED. Asimov’s editor Sheila Williams tells about her friendship with the late Michael Bishop and his family in “Cri de Coeur”.

…The 1992 World Fantasy Convention was held in Mike’s hometown—Pine Mountain, Georgia—and that’s where I got the chance to really get to know him. After spending time with Mike and his wife Jeri, they invited me, and a couple of other people, over to their beautiful home. They gave us a tour of their house, which I believe had been owned by Jeri’s family for a few generations. They also regaled us with stories about their son Jamie and daughter Stephanie, who were both away at college.

My oldest daughter was born in 1993, and I tentatively included a photo of her in a few of our authors’ holiday cards. Mike’s response to the photo and his sincere interest in my family encouraged me to continue to include these photos in cards and to expand on the number of people who received them. [I know some authors were perplexed, but I was delighted that eventually many started sending photos of their kids and/or pets back to me.] As I told Mike years later, I also tried to emulate the loving home life for my kids that he and Jeri had provided for their own children.

Mike’s ninth story in Asimov’s, “Cri de Coeur,” was our September 1994 cover story. This moving novella about the journey on a generation starship was also a finalist for both the Hugo and the Theodore Sturgeon Award. There was a twelve-year gap between Mike’s tenth Asimov’s story in 1996 and his eleventh in 2008. During that time, Mike and I mostly stayed in touch via holiday cards.

On April 16, 2007, Mike and Jeri experienced one of the most terrible tragedies that can befall a family. Their thirty-five-year-old son Jamie, now an instructor of German at Virginia Tech, was murdered in the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. Mike’s next tale for us, “Vinegar Peace, or, The Wrong-Way Used-Adult Orphanage” (July 2008), was the painful story of a society that sends adults to orphanages after their last child dies. It, too, was nominated for a Nebula….


[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 19, 1937 Terry Carr. (Died 1987.) I’ll admit right now that I do not know Terry Car from any of his novels which are Warlord of KorInvasion from 2500 co-written with Ted White, and Cirque. I’ll certainly invite opinions on how they are. What I do know about him is from his most excellent and rather extensive work in the area of editing anthologies.

But first I must discuss his work as a fanzine editor, winning his first Hugo for the zine FANAC, co-edited with Ron Ellik, which they started in 1958. There were seventy-one issues (the last six were co-edited with his first wife, Miriam Carr). Read the first issue at Terry would win a second Hugo for Best Fan Writer in 1973 at Torcon II. He would also be the 1986 Worldcon’s Fan Guest of Honor.

Terry and second wife Carol Carr, center, Jock Root and German literary agent Thomas Schlueck left, with Gary Deindorfer at far right, on the subway coming back to Manhattan from a gathering at Ted White’s house for TAFF delegate Schlueck in 1966. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

His work on anthologies began in the Sixties on the first seven volumes of World’s Best Science Fiction with Donald A. Wollheim. I’m reasonably sure that I’ve read at least some of them as the contents are quite familiar. 

Also while working for Donald A. Wollheim at Ace Books, he was responsible for the acclaimed Ace Special series, bringing out R.A. Lafferty’s Past Master (1968), Ursula K Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) and Alexei Panshin’s Rite of Passage (1968).

Now I know that I’ve read much of his next two anthology series as they were quite excellent. They came out almost out at the same time as the Seventies got under way, with Universe having an impressive run of seventeen volumes, and The Best Science Fiction of the Year with just a volume less. 

He also had an anthology series devoted to original fantasy only, New Worlds of Fantasy which published three volumes stating in the Sixties. He did five volumes in the Fantasy Annual reprint series starting in the late Seventies. 

His work would earn two Best Professional Editor Hugos (1985, 1987). 

Lastly, he published in his regrettably brief lifetime a reasonably large amount of shorter fiction, over forty pieces. The Seventies collection The Light at the End of the Universe is the only sole look at his short fiction to date. Subterranean Press, where art thou?


  • Thatababy apparently learns from Looney Tunes.

(12) WEB BREAKS. The Hollywood Reporter says it’s dead, Jim: “Inside Sony’s ‘Madame Web’ Collapse: Forget About a New Franchise”.

The trailer buzz was worrisome, advance ticket sales anemic. Then last week, the critic reviews for Madame Web were posted, and they stung deepest of all — Sony’s Spider-Man spinoff received the lowest average Rotten Tomatoes score (13 percent) of any major superhero film in nearly a decade.

“On Wednesday night, you could actually watch advance purchase sales declining in real time as buyers were refunding their tickets,” marvels a major theatrical chain insider. “It really says something when you’d rather have Shazam! 2 numbers.”

It marked one of the lowest starts in Hollywood history for a film based on a Marvel character. Domestic box office for the first six days in North America was just $26.2 million after opening midweek on Valentine’s Day. International tallied $25.7 million from 61 markets. Even the fan-friendly CinemaScore grade was poor (C+ — extremely low for a superhero title).

Like DC and the once-unstoppable Marvel, Sony is now finding itself in under the gun to reevaluate how it makes comic book movies….

(13) LEFT BEHIND. “Harrison Ford left behind a Star Wars script. It just sold for $13,600” reports Yahoo!

A draft script from the original Star Wars movie trilogy, left in a London home rented by the actor Harrison Ford in the 1970s, has sold for more than $10,000 at auction.

The fourth draft of the screenplay that became the epic 1977 film “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” was unbound and incomplete. But it included iconic scenes, including the one that introduces Chewbacca – the towering, hairy Wookiee who co-pilots the Millennium Falcon alongside Ford’s character, Han Solo – in a dimly lit tavern.

The script, dated March 15, 1976, and titled “The Adventures of Luke Starkiller,” sold to an Austrian collector for about $13,600 during a live-streamed auction on Saturday. The seller owned the home that Ford had rented while working on the film….

(14) SPIDER MAN. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] People have certain expectations of an Adam Sandler movie. They should throw them out the window before seeing this Netflix pic.

In Spaceman, Sandler plays a “dour, isolated, arrogant” astronaut whose marriage is falling apart “due to his own failings as a husband.” Then, as depression sets in months into his solo mission, he unexpectedly finds a companion—an “ancient mind-reading spider-like creature from the beginning of time.” “‘Spaceman’ Director Johan Renck on His First Project After ‘Chernobyl’ and Giving Adam Sandler His Most Un-Adam Sandler Role to Date” in Variety.  

How did you get [Adam Sandler] on board? 

It was almost random, to be honest. I had a general meeting with him in L.A. a couple of years ago, because I’m a massive fan of his, and by the end of that chat, he was like, “Hey, what about this space film I hear you guys are developing, I’d love to read it.” We weren’t that far along but that’s how it unfolded. I remember going back up to my room and thinking: that’s pretty fucking brilliant. It was like an epiphany. But when it he said he wanted to do it, I was like, “the issue is that you’re a big name in the comedy circuit, but I’m just a little concerned about being able to pull up the financing for this with you in a dramatic role.” It’s a weird thing to say to one of the highest-grossing actors! But he’s not going to bank a dramatic science fiction film like George Clooney would. He asked how much we needed, and I said, “Well, it’s in zero gravity, one of the characters is CGI, so it’s gonna cost a bunch of money.” And he says: “I’ll get your money, I have a deal with Netflix.” And three weeks later we were shaking hands….

One similarity between “Spaceman” and “Chernobyl” was that you didn’t try to give your actors Eastern European accents. Adam Sandler sounds like Adam Sandler, Carey Mulligan sounds like Carey Mulligan.

I hate accents. They’re the most ridiculous thing ever. To me, if we want to suggest they’re speaking Czech, why is the best way to achieve that having them speak English with a really fake accents? Have you ever heard an accent in a movie work? 

(15) SLAUGHTERLESS HOUSE FIVE. “Lab-Made Meat? Florida Lawmakers Don’t Like the Sound of It.” The New York Times tells how the meat is grown.

…Start-up companies around the world are competing to develop technologies for producing chicken, beef, salmon and other options without the need to raise and slaughter animals. China has made the development of the industry a priority. In the United States, the Department of Agriculture has given initial blessings to two producers.

Now, a measure in Florida that would ban sales of laboratory-grown meat has gained widespread attention beyond state borders. The bill, which is advancing through the Florida Legislature, would make the sale or manufacture of lab-grown meat a misdemeanor with a fine of $1,000. It’s one of a half-dozen similar measures in ArizonaTennesseeWest Virginia and elsewhere.

Opponents of lab-grown meat include beef and poultry associations worried that laboratory-made hamburgers or chicken nuggets could cut into their business.

Supporters include environmentalists who say it would reduce animal cruelty and potentially help slow climate change. Meat and dairy together account for about 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations.

Other backers of the industry include advocates for space exploration, a subject particularly relevant to Florida, which is home to the Kennedy Space Center and the site of countless launches to the moon and beyond. Elon Musk, whose company SpaceX has its own outer space ambitions, has partnered with Israel-based Aleph Farms to research lab-grown meat on a Space X flight to the International Space Station that launched from Florida.

How’s this actually made?

Lab-grown meat, also called cultivated meat, is grown from cells that have been taken from an animal. The animals aren’t slaughtered. 

Then water, salt and nutrients like amino acids, minerals and vitamins are added to the cells, which multiply and eventually become minced meat….

(16) CAKE AND CANDLES. James Bacon volunteered to let me run the poem he composed to wish me “Happy birthday”.

Happy birthday to you Mike, 
We wish you cheer & delight, 
On your auspicious nice day 
Hoping your brother’s is a nice night. 

You report on the appalling news 
That’s giving us all the horrid blues 
Doubtful of when it might actually end 
With an apology, perhaps only if wills bend. 

We need to see your cheerful smile 
Defeating those who tried to defile 
Shining a light on where it went bad 
Finding reason to cease being sad 

A happy day is yours to enjoy 
What positives can we also deploy 
Looking forward upward bright 
Some cake and cheer on birthday night 

Ray Bradbury’s 89th Birthday Cake. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

[Thanks to Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Jean-Paul Garnier, James Bacon, Daniel Dern, Jason Sanford, Anne Marble, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH.]

Pixel Scroll 12/27/23 So Have You Looked Up And Seen How Pixels Twinkle Against The Midnight Sky? 

(1) UNFORSEEN INTERSECTION. Maya St. Clair draws a fascinating comparison between a current bestseller and Heinlein’s controversial classic in “Fourth Wing Review: Starship Troopers (for Girls!)”

…Criticisms of Starship Troopers’ themes, while hyperbolic, were not entirely off-base. In Heinlein’s world, the ideal military life is violent, abusive, and deindividualizing; death is and should be omnipresent at every stage of training. For example, there’s the basic training exercise in which

“… they dumped me down raw naked in a primitive area of the Canadian Rockies and I had to make my way forty miles through mountains. I made it [by killing rabbits and smearing fat and dirt on his body] … The others made it, too… all except two boys who died trying. Then we all went back into the mountains and spent thirteen days finding them…. We buried them with full honors to the strains of ‘This Land Is Ours’… They weren’t the first to die in training; they weren’t the last.”

Through the eyes of Johnnie, we experience an intensity of life that makes civilian existence seem anemic, even pathetic….

…With all that being said, it feels wrong to mention Fourth Wing in the same breath as Starship Troopers. Putting aside the fact that Fourth Wing is a poorly-written work whose prose has been critiqued to death by many people before me, the two books seem to represent opposing moments in publishing history. Heinlein, for all his faults, was writing “up” for an audience of teens, treating them as adults and including them in the sphere of “adult” science fiction, with complex worldbuilding and (relatively) sophisticated themes. Sixty years later, Fourth Wing and its team (author Rebecca Yarros and Entangled Publishing) represent a publishing world moving in the opposite direction: creating books for adults in an actively juvenile style, and cultivating an audience of adult readers who no longer demand that published books have good writing at all so long as they check necessary boxes of sensation and eroticism.

But thematically and content-wise, the two books are as close as one could possibly get. Fourth Wing, like Starship Troopers, sells a military coming-of-age story in which mass death is a part of the allure (“brutally addictive,” says the cover blurb). Someone on Reddit puts the death count of Fourth Wing at 222 cadets, plus an untold number of civilians — though it’s widely considered a “fluff” read. Its primary audience (and the primary audience of most mainstream fantasy now) is female, young, progressive, and would probably be aghast at being compared to grimdark bros, Heinlein apologists, or men in general. And yet here we all are, hooked on the same stuff….

(2) ICONIC LE GUIN COVER ART OFFERED. The estates of Carol Carr and her husband Robert Lichtman are in the news: “Original cover art for Le Guin sci-fi novel goes on sale” at Bay Area Reporter.

…First published in paperback by Ace Books, the novel sported cover art by award-winning artists and biracial couple Leo and Diane Dillon. Their painting featured profiles of the book’s protagonists in the left bottom corner looking off into the distance. Surrounding the pair is a blue and white celestial-like scene with what appears to be a brown planet and a spaceship hovering above.

(Leo Dillon, of Trinidadian descent, died in 2012. He was the first African American to win the prestigious Randolph Caldecott Medal for illustrators of children’s books, while the Dillons were the only consecutive winners of the award, having received the honor in 1976 and 1977.)

The Dillons’ original 17 and 1/4 by 13 inches acrylic painting is now being offered for sale for the first time at the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America global book fair taking place in San Francisco in early February. The asking price is $20,000.

“It is literally unique. This is it, the original and not a print,” said Mark Funke, a rare bookseller who lives in Mill Valley where his business is also located.

Scouting out shops in the East Bay several years ago looking for new material to sell, Funke had received a tip about the sale of various items from a home in the Oakland hills. It led him to receive an invite from the executor of the estate to come to the house.

To his amazement, Funke had stumbled onto the archives of three individuals involved in the world of science fiction writing. One was the late Terry Carr, an editor at Ace Books who published the works of Le Guin and other sci-fi authors and died in 1987. While most of Carr’s personal papers had gone to UC Riverside, Funke found several boxes still in the house and acquired them….

… Funke is now handling its sale on behalf of the Carr and Lichtman Estate. He will have it available on a first-come, first-served basis at his booth at the book fair.

“I am pricing it high for the artists but, I think, reasonable for it being Le Guin’s most famous novel. She won awards for it, and it ratcheted her up to the greats of science fiction,” said Funke. “It’s got very topical content; this idea of the planet Gethen and ambisexual individuals. I just think it is fascinating and a very active topic in today’s discussion.”

In a statement to the B.A.R. about the sale, the executor for the family estate said, “The Carr-Lichtman family has treasured this artwork for over 50 years and now it is time to find a new owner who will cherish this remarkable work of science fiction publishing history for the next 50 years.”…

(3) KORSHAK COLLECTION NEWS. The Korshak Collection announced on Facebook

We have partnered with the University of Delaware for an academic illustrated catalog of the Korshak Collection. We don’t want to give away all of our surprises, but the catalog will include a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman and entry by Pulitzer prize winner author Michael Dirda, as well as an interview with the Hugo Award winning artist Michael Whelan. We are so grateful for this partnership and all of the outstanding contributions that have made this project possible.

(4) MCU UK. James Bacon recommends David Thorpe’s account of his time as a creator for Marvel UK: “In Review: The Secret Origin of Earth 616 By David Thorpe” at

… This is a fascinating book, and, for Captain Britain fans, a definite buy. For comic fans interested in Marvel UK, of great interest. Yet it is also an excellent autobiography, a very readable and personal exploration of a comic fans desires, aspirations and progression to be a writer and an insight into how Marvel UK was, and offers real honesty when it comes to a comics career that took an interesting turn that saw David Thorpe’s work in the industry elsewhere. The story is brimful, and includes how another comic related moment saw him turn to a very successful career beyond comics, one that arguably has made a real difference to the world….

… David Thorpe came up with the concept of Earth 616, and he describes it as a Stan Lee styled “Hoo Boy” moment when he heard Mysterio say “This is Earth dimension 616. I’m from Earth 833.” to Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Far From Home and that is something that any comic reader can appreciate, many of whom have imagined themselves as writers….

(5) IN FELLOWSHIP THERE IS STRENGTH. “Board Game Cafe Workers Went on a Quest for a Union and Won” reports the New York Times.

A golden glow illuminated the employees huddled inside a Hex & Co. cafe on the Upper East Side, a haven created for board game enthusiasts to gather for fantastical quests.

Meticulous campaigns were second nature to these workers — how many times had they infiltrated an obsidian castle or vanquished a warlock? They had been immersed in this particular adventure for months, navigating a labyrinth governed by strict rules and made harrowing by unfamiliar tasks and tests. Now they gathered to plot their final triumph: unionization.

On that Tuesday in September, Hex & Co. workers confronted their bosses with a demand for recognition. Less than two months later, they voted to join Workers United, the same group that has been organizing workers at Starbucks stores across the United States. The workers at the three Hex & Co. locations across New York City were just the first employees of a board game cafe in the city to unionize. Workers at the Uncommons and the Brooklyn Strategist followed this month.

All the stores fall under the ownership of either Jon Freeman, Greg May or both, and they pleaded with their employees not to unionize, saying that a union would wipe out the “flexible and open-door atmosphere we have tried to foster.”

Teaching board games is a far cry from swinging a miner’s pick or working numbing hours on an assembly line. In fact, many of the cafe workers said they hung out at their workplaces in their off hours. But in the end, complaints over dollar-an-hour raises and bands of unruly children reigned: Among the 94 employees who voted, only 17 dissented….

…Only 10 percent of American wage and salary workers were union members in 2022, a historical low, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The food-service sector’s membership rate was less than 4 percent. But this fiscal year saw the most representation filings since 2015, according to the National Labor Relations Board.

Young workers “are willing to take risks, because they feel like their future is at stake,” said Kate Bronfenbrenner, the director of labor education research at Cornell University.

After slogging through a recession and a pandemic, many found themselves earning minimum wage while corporate profits soared, she said….

(6) AI AS SEEN BY THREE SFF AUTHORS. The River Cities’ Reader tells fans how to access the “Virtual Event: ‘Speculating Our AI Future,’” with Cory Doctorow, Ken Liu, and Martha Wells on January 11.

Designed for those fascinated by, or terrified about, the rise of artificial intelligence is invited to a January 11 virtual event hosted by the Rock Island and Silvis Public Libraries, when Illinois Libraries Present’s Speculating Our AI Future finds bestselling science-fiction writers Cory Doctorow, Ken Liu, and Martha Wells in discussion on the promise, perils, and possible impacts that AI will have on our future, as well as AI as portrayed in contemporary and future science-fiction writing.

The Speculating Our AI Future panel discussion with Corry Doctorow, Ken Liu, and Martha Wells will begin on January 11 at 7 p.m., participation in the virtual event is free, and more information is available by calling (309)732-7323 and visiting, and calling (309)755-3393 and visiting

Cory Doctorow, Ken Liu, Martha Wells.

(7) GRAPHIC EXAMPLES. Sam Thielman hits the high notes in a review of “The Year in Graphic Novels” for the New York Times.

Good graphic novels tend to appear in bookstores seemingly out of nowhere after years of rumors, scattershot serialization, “process” zines and snippets posted to social media. As literature, long-form comics are uniquely resistant to editing. As visual art, the cartoonist is in the weird position of having no access to the final product until it’s presented to the public. So it’s frankly miraculous when we get as many good comics as we do. This year there were remarkable new books from established masters and freshman graphic novels from brilliant young artists. Better still, a gratifyingly thick stratum of our 2023 stack was devoted to making us laugh. It’s a rich conversation, and one that promises to continue into next year and long beyond.

From the moment you open it, Daniel Clowes’s MONICA (Fantagraphics, 108 pp., $30) announces its ambition. Against the weird hellscape of its front endpapers, the title spread depicts the world at its lifeless, churning, brightly colored beginning. Then all of time (so far) goes by in a whoosh on the next two pages — the dinosaurs, Jesus, Hitler, Little Richard, Sputnik — alongside the copyright boilerplate and the names of the editors and publicist. In Clowes’s smooth lines and precise hues, the rest of the book borrows styles from war, horror and romance comics to tell the story of an ordinary woman trying to give her life some meaning. Is such a thing even possible? Could the attempt destroy everything?…

(8) EVA HAUSER (1954-2023). Past fan fund winner (GUFF) Eva Hauser died December 23 at the age of 69. Here is an excerpt from Jan Vaněk Jr.’s tribute on Facebook:

I am sad to announce that the 1992 GUFF delegate died on Friday 22nd. Eva Hauser[ová] travelled from Prague, still-Czechoslovakia to Syncon ’92 in Sydney, and then to Melbourne and back.

If you were there (despite the small attendance, the trip report reads like the Who Is Who of a golden age of the Australian fandom, and a testimony to their hospitality. Even though so much, and many, have already been lost in time, like tears in rain…), you may remember; and then you will understand why Eva is so much-lamented and widely eulogised from many different communities she was a part of….


[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 27, 1951 Charles Band, 72. We have come tonight to honor a true film genius in Charles Band. He entered film production in the Seventies with Charles Band Productions. Dissatisfied with distributors’ handling of his movies, he formed his own company in the early Eighties. At its height, he would release an average of two films a month, one theatrically and one on home video. 

So what are you going to recognize out of his hundreds of films? 

Most of his films paid the cast next to nothing, were notoriously lax on safety measures according to State officials who fined him considerable amounts over the years and he paid screenwriters, well, guess. 

Trancers, also released as Future Cop, the first of a series, which I’ve seen and liked, had Tim Thomerson and Helen Hunt in the lead cast. Supposedly the detective here is homage to Bogart’s various detective roles.

As producer, he did Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn.  Richard Moll who is in the cast and he shaved his head for his role here. The Night Court producers liked the look for Moll, so he continued shaving his head for the show.

Now he also produced a lot of more frankly sleazy SF such as Slave Girls from Beyond InfinityGalactic Gigolo, and Space Sluts in the Slammer, and the post-apocalypse zombie films, Barbie & Kendra Save the Tiger King and Barbie & Kendra Storm Area 51

His autobiography has a title that’s every bit has as over the top as most of some of film titles are, Confessions of a Puppetmaster: A Hollywood Memoir of Ghouls, Guts, and Gonzo Filmmaking

One final note. His entire financial house of cards collapsed in the late Eighties and was seized by various banks who in turned sold the assets off to MGM, so you’re likely to see one of his films streaming just about anywhere these days. 

(10) STORIES YES AND NO. Rich Horton reaches back to 1970 to tell Black Gate readers about “No More Stories — The Capstone to Joanna Russ’s Alyx Sequence: ‘The Second Inquisition’”.

“No more stories.” So ends Joanna Russ’s great novelette “The Second Inquisition.” But in many ways the story is about stories — about how we use them to define ourselves, protect ourselves, understand ourselves. It’s also, in a curious way, about Joanna Russ’s stories, particularly those about Alyx, a woman rescued from drowning in classical times by the future Trans-Temporal Authority….

(11) CORE TELEVISION. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Now, I don’t agree with everything in this article (for one thing, Foundation is execrable.) But it is an interesting look at what Apple+ is doing in SFF and why so much of it works. “The Best Sci-Fi Shows of 2023 All of Have One Shocking Thing in Common” at Inverse.

For All Mankind isn’t the only sci-fi show pushing the limits of the genre on Tim Cook’s dime. The Apple CEO has been quietly funding some of the best science fiction TV in recent memory, ranging from the centuries-spanning Isaac Asimov adaptation Foundation to the mind-bending near-future of Severance to the globe-trotting Godzilla spinoff series Monarch: Legacy of Monsters — to name just a few.

And while it’s hard to say what exactly defines an Apple sci-fi show, Inverse spoke to several showrunners and producers who all agree the tech giant brings a unique, futurist perspective to the genre that — when combined with endless cash — helps explain why, all of a sudden, it seems like the best science fiction television is all coming from the same company that sold you your iPhone….

… One thing you can say about pretty much any show or movie on Apple TV+ is that it probably looks gorgeous. While many Netflix productions have a certain flatness to them that can make it feel like the streamer has been cutting corners, Apple is pouring a lot of money into the look (and star power) of its original series — it helps to have a trillion-dollar cash pile, even if Amazon and Disney are still outspending the MacBook maker….

(12) MARATHON FAN. SYFY Wire understandably wants us all to know “How to Watch SYFY’s Twilight Zone New Year’s Marathon 2023-2024”.

Just as you can count on our planet making a full rotation around the sun every 365 days or so, you can also rest assured that SYFY will use the key of imagination to unlock its annual New Year’s marathon of The Twilight Zone. The honored tradition of airing Rod Serling’s groundbreaking anthology series won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, the 2023-24 edition is super-sized, with the marathon spanning a total of three whole days — starting Saturday (December 30) and ending Tuesday (January 2).

Who needs to smooch someone at midnight when you’ve got Jason Foster (Robert Keith) teaching his wicked family members a lesson they’ll never forget in “The Masks”? Fittingly enough, the classic episode — which revolves around a collection of vain and greedy individuals ordered to wear hideous masks until the stroke of midnight — will air about 40 minutes before the ball drops. If someone offers you a grotesque party favor along with that glass of Champagne, you might want to turn it down….

(13) CHINA’S MIXED SIGNALS ON VIDEO GAME PLAYING. “Will China Ease Its New Video Game Controls? Investors Think So.” The New York Times says, “After a market rout, gaming companies like Tencent and Netease rally on signals that regulators might apply proposed curbs on users less harshly than feared.”

 …The events of the past several days underline the push-and-pull forces in Chinese policymaking. The country’s top leaders have acknowledged they need to stabilize the economy, which has been slow to recover from being virtually locked down during the Covid pandemic. But the government’s tight control of how companies do business continues to inject uncertainty into the markets.

China’s National Press and Publication Administration, which issues licenses to game publishers and oversees the industry, unveiled a proposal on Friday aimed at effectively reducing how much people spend playing games. The plan took the industry by surprise, and investors dumped tens of billions of dollars in company stock.

The regulator issued a statement on Saturday stressing that the draft rules aim to “promote the prosperity and healthy development of the industry,” and said it is “listening to more opinions comprehensively and improving regulations and provisions.”

Then on Monday, the agency announced that it had licensed about 100 new games, after licensing 40 others on Friday. And a semiofficial association affiliated with the agency said that the additional game approvals were “positive signals” that the agency supports the industry.

The new regulations would cap how much money users could spend within games on things like upgrading the features of characters or procuring virtual weapons or other things used by the characters. It would also ban rewards that companies use to entice players to return. The proposal did not specify a spending cap…..

… The industry is still reeling from earlier restrictions first imposed in 2019 aimed at what the government deemed was an online gaming addiction among minors, as well as a broader crackdown against tech companies. Regulators also stymied publishers by not issuing any new game licenses for an eight-month stretch that ended in April 2022….

(14) CHART YOUR COURSE. Archie’s Press offers interesting “Outer Space” prints.

Outer Space is so huge, there’s really no way to wrap your head around the entire thing. This makes it all make sense.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Dann.] A tale of old Japan.  A tale as old as time.  A beleaguered hero looking to avenge past wrongs.  Western forces looking to control a local government.  A beauty of a beast.

When the culture and government deny any usual path to survival, much less happiness, our hero seeks unusual opportunities instead.  Learning the secrets of steel.  Surreptitiously learning the secrets of the sword.  All of them.

Eventually, our hero sets out on a path of vengeance leaving rivers of blood along the way.  Companions are found, whether or not our hero desires their companionship.

Each character is well-developed with unique strengths, flaws, and motivations.  Even the villains have a compelling story to tell.

Blue Eye Samurai is not to be missed.  And The Critical Drinker knows why.  Go watch the “The Drinker Recommends… Blue Eye Samurai”.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Dann, Olav Rokne, Michael J. Walsh, James Bacon, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, and Mike Kennedy  for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Viet Max Art at the US Consulate General Ho Chi Minh City

By James Bacon: Viet Max works through many forms, and he likes to showcase his creativity in contemporary art in a multi-faceted manner, he likes to “break boundaries in order to bring art closer to a larger audience”. (See previous article, “Người Mặt Trời Exhibition by Viet Max and Film by Timothy Linh Búi”.)

On my visit to Ho Chi Minh City, I was keen to take in both historical and local elements, and the US Consulate in the city proved surprisingly to be such a place where these seem to have fused together. A Vietnamese memorial to the Viet Cong who fought in the Tet offensive, and a US plaque commemorating the U.S. Marine and four MP’s killed is located here, as this was the site of the US Embassy, the scene so well burned into the minds of many, with helicopters taking desperate people from the roof during the disastrous evacuation “Frequent Wind” in 1975 as North Vietnamese captured then-Saigon. 

Now some forty-eight years later, with US President Joe Biden and General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong meeting in September to elevate relations between the two countries, there was no mistaking that the general sentiment was very positive towards the USA around the city, and I do not just mean the expected corporate elements that all humans seem to desire, from a Starbucks to a KFC, vying with Bubble Tea and locally made fried chicken, but more broadly with US-sponsored activities and ongoings. I cannot speak too much to these, just note what I saw.  

Best Fried Chicken in town with Bridie (Dang)

I hadn’t expected the Avengers tower and was especially grateful they this iconic building was not only real, was really in Ho Chi Minh City and also Accessible! 

Hip Hop artist Viet Max had been engaged to create a sequence of pieces reflecting on Vietnam and the USA, and they were presented on the walls of the consulate, with images representing Pride month, how 30,000 Vietnamese students study in the US every year, the Pacific Partnership and diversity and ending discrimination adorn the wall, strong and brilliant, quite large and vibrant. This work ably demonstrates his ability to adjust his style and technique offering quite vivid but also distinctive images. 

I took photographs of the art on public display, and of the consulate from a distance, but was stopped by a well-spoken Vietnamese employee of the US consulate when I took a photo of the Consulate Plaque, as that was not allowed. Neither being a US citizen who might lose their temper at this use of their taxes, nor someone who lacks empathy for fellow employees tasked with questionable bureaucratically deigned tasks, I politely showed them the photo being deleted and wished them well. After all, I had photographed the paintings under the watchful eye of cameras, more staff at the other entrance, and local police in the shed like structure across the road, and all seemed OK, and once again, Art beat boring bureaucracy. Make more art. 

Viet Max is someone whose dynamic art and stretchability, to cater to any artistic situation or offering is quite fantastic, his work is so varied, from design of Airline initiatives appearing on jet planes, to Breakfast cereal box art and art in a huge variety of situations, including an installation piece for the release of Rogue One, he seems so elastic and capable with beauty and brilliance coming through continually, his work is exciting and captures something really special, presenting works of imagination artistically  and well worth checking out further. 

Người Mặt Trời Exhibition by Viet Max and Film by Timothy Linh Búi

Viet Max and James Bacon

Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam 

Introduction: Stunning art inspired by a brilliant film, our Irish fan momentarily in Vietnam looks at the world of  Người Mặt Trời – Daydreamers 

By James Bacon: I was enjoying a coffee in Paper and I, across the road from the Independence Palace on Đ. Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa and it is part of a very modern small complex of multi-use buildings and in one of them I was stunned to see a piece of wonderful art, and as I stepped in it was a moment of discovery. 

Ranged around the walls were startlingly vivid works, incredible paintings some of which  were obviously Vampires but with a story, as each one was clearly identified and accompanied by text and there was a vividness that only the images can adeptly portray.   

Each character was explained. For example, Trieu, born in 1573 during feudal times, was bitten by a Vampire and then attacked by people in the area when discovered, and so she engraved upon her heart, that she would protect her people. Her blood is vampires, and she will live and die to protect her people from the hands of humans. There are a variety of characters, including two brothers who seem very different, Marco and Nhat who were born in the 1800’s on a French plantation which was massacred by Vampires, and Ha who is not infected, but as of the now is a modern youth with the stresses of life. We live in an era where all languages are accessible with a phone. 

The images were really quite well done, strongly imagined and stylized. I was quite taken aback by this surprisingly fantastic find, and it with some considerable fortuitousness that this good luck continues, for an event was taking place that evening. 

These incredible pieces of art were by Vietnamese Hip-Hop artist Viet Max, whose work I had actually seen elsewhere that day, and this work was the interpretations of characters from a Vietnamese Vampire Film by Timothy Linh Búi entitled  Người Mặt Trời — Daydreamers 

Returning that evening, the venue which opened up onto a lovely tree-filled space had been changed into a very delightful launch space, with food and drinks, and a wide selection of people present, including actors and the director, as well as Viet Max himself.  With DJ’s pumping out the local bass tunes, the wonderful venue was full of atmosphere and lively and there was much excitement for the art. 

I got the chance to speak with Viet Max. Apart from being absolutely pleasant, and so pleased with what was going on, his enthusiasm for comics and manga was made apparent as we discussed influences and his style. This is an incredibly adept artist who is brilliant at so many things, a film director, music artist, and painter, his knowledge and appreciation were considerable. He explained that he tried to fuse his passion for these things, comics and manga and bring the characters from the film to the canvas and to life but in a unique style. He totally achieved this, he had given them such strength on the canvas and the detail, the work was so good. 

There was and is much excitement about the release of Daydreamers, which opened the next day, and so I booked to go and see this Vampire Film, the first one from Vietnam, and if anything, it was a very auspicious start to my encounter with this film and art.  

Opening with an animated sequence and with fabulous music, we learn of the Vampires and their place in Vietnam, much is explained and then we are brought to the live action. 

Set in the Vietnam of the now, and filmed in Ho Chi Minh City, it had such a sense of place, I really felt as a visitor, that it was perfect placed but the pace was fitting, this is a modern and fast moving city, and this was brilliantly captured. There is a focus on brothers Nhat and Marco, the story felt different and fresh to me, clever in the way that it was set up. Taking the legend of Vampires, and giving it an interesting angle, for some, and thus presenting a sequence of really interesting moral questions, good versus evil, the loyalty of brotherhood, and the nature of existence. The film spoke to modern issues, xenophobia and assumptions of the masses, hatred and fear, and what it is to do the right thing, on a number of levels. I was stunned. 

It is beautifully filmed, there are some exquisite scenes, Marco and Trieu as well as the two brothers, and Ha who was brilliant, it all added to a really exciting and engaging film, exceeding my expectations. 

Afterwards, it was noted that the effects were excellent, and I realized that they were more than this, there was a seamlessness to the film that meant my belief was fully suspended, no moment of wishing a CGI scene or effect could have been better, I had been effectively brought into the film and stayed there by the great work of all involved. The music was incredible

Miss Nine created and produced the electronic music and Jerome Leroy the classical film score, which when fused and joining the moving imagery added so much emotion and atmosphere. Miss Nine said “I sought out to merge soundscapes from industrial, melodic techno, synthwave, deep house, and dance to convey a conflicting world for young vampires exploring unknown complex territories for themselves.” Leroy explained for his part, “Musically, I needed to represent the threat they faced in their journey from Europe to Vietnam, what happened after they arrived, and why they had to go underground, it had to feel powerful, exciting, and urgent – but we didn’t want to use a theme or motif that would be used later on. We wanted it to be its own, self-contained story.” Leroy not only presented some amazing piano solos but also incredible sounds with the Budapest Scoring Orchestra all working to add to the film. 

This is a fabulous film, and writer, director and visionary Timothy Linh Buí is responsible for a fine piece of work.  “I wanted to tell a story about people who live within the shadows of a modern city,  inspired by riverboat communities on the edge of society, who have been there for decades and are often overlooked by those around them,” he said on Leroy’s page. 

“The vampire genre was my way to explore themes of isolation, broken families, and identity. I learned that the vampire genre is very foreign to Vietnamese culture, making it even more interesting and challenging to make it relatable to local audiences while keeping nuances familiar in vampire lore throughout the Western world.

“I wanted it to be about a sense of loneliness and the struggle to find that simple human connection, whatever that might be someone… I wanted to create something personal, maybe because I have a brother but then I also felt that it’s fresher. It made me more curious to explore these elements further. I haven’t seen them before in a vampire film.” 

Tim left Vietnam in 1975, one week before the fall of Saigon, as a refugee, grew up in Sunnyvale and returned to Vietnam in 1995 and started to make films in the country, and continues to do so. As Daydreamers proves so ably, he has a unique perspective and his love of Vietnam come across in his work, and Ho Chi Minh City looks so well, and some of the scenes especially the bike scene, was so beautifully done. 

Starring Thuận Nguyễn as Marco, Trần Ngọc Vàng as Nhat, Chi Pu as the Queen of Vampires, Trịnh Thảo’s as Hạ and a thoughtful Thạch Kim Long as police colonel Lộc who contends with what is swirling around in both worlds, this is a superb film, and really enjoyable, and when considered in reflection, the work of Viet Max so brilliantly compliments the story. 

Places to get more information:

Viet Max

Người Mặt Trời

Miss Nine 

Jerome Leroy 

Journey Planet 76 – The American War in Vietnam

Journey Planet 76 – The American War in Vietnam
7th December 2023. Ho Chi Minh City.

On December 7, 1968 PFC Joe W. Haldeman wrote “Notes from the Jolly Green Jungle” about his experiences in Vietnam, which first appeared in the fanzine ODD #20. 

55 years later this, plus his “Tales from the Jolly Green Jungle,” which appeared in ODD #19, are reprinted in the new issue of Journey Planet which looks at the American War in Vietnam. 

Journey Planet co-editor James Bacon writes from the War Remembrance Museum in Ho Chi Minh City:

“It is important to pay respects to those who suffered so much, and so I am here in the War Remnants Museum, where so much time and effort is spent educating and sharing the horror of the American War in Vietnam. Whole sections are dedicated to war crimes and the effects of the use of Agent Orange by the U.S. These consequences are shown through exhibits and through paintings by children. It is a hard and challenging series of documentations. There is a requiem and photo exhibition for journalists and soldiers alike; there is acknowledgment of those who fought. As much as there is about Lt Calley’s role in the Mỹ Lai massacre, and Senator Bob Kerrey, who was a Navy SEAL and part of the atrocities at Thanh Phong Village, the museum also notes the Veterans Against the War, soldiers who marched for peace, and those like Lawerence Manley Colburn and Hugh Clowers Thompson Jr. who fought in their own way to stop atrocities by comrades.” 

“This issue of Journey Planet looks at the American War in Vietnam and its connections to fans and professionals as we consider the impact of the War. As I sit here among the artifacts of war, and contemplate it, remembering it, aware of the unbelievable losses, the sadness, the horror and the injuries and death, I am grateful to the fans who have allowed us to share their stories and memories of the War. These are personal and important stories. It is right that we confront and consider our history, and it is right that we confront and consider the experiences of the Vietnamese–those who lived through the War and those who left and those who extensively wrote about it. We started this issue five years ago, and now, at 104 pages, with dozens of people helping bring it together, we hope that you find the issue of interest.

“We look thoughtfully at Vietnamese voices, and how they shared their experience through writing and film. We discuss the works of novelists Doan Phuong Nguyen, Aliette de Boddard, Lê Minh Khuê, Dương Thu Hương, and Hoa Pham; filmmaker Eirene Tran Donohue; graphic novel writer/artists GB Tran, Clement Baloup, Marcellino Truong, Thi Bui, and Minh Lê as we carefully consider how the War is portrayed and shared.”

Along with these Vietnamese voices, they share the writings and art of Joe Haldeman and David Thayer from their time of service in Vietnam, along with excerpts of Dick Eney’s fanzine, “Curse you Red Baron!” which he published from Saigon while he was stationed there for over five years. Bacon says, “We are honored to share first-hand accounts of these vivid experiences with readers.”

Snoopy after Schultz by Col Art

Fans have taken the time to share very personal matters, writing about their family members, some of whom were lost in the War, as they contemplate carefully the personal impacts. Sara Felix, Errick Nunally, Guy Lillian, III, and co-editor Christopher J. Garcia have shared articles about their family members.  

The impact of the War on comics is considered as they look at works by Vietnamese comic book creators Nguyễn Thành Phong, Khánh Dương, Huu Do Chi, Nguyễn Khánh Dương, Can Tiểu Hy, and Võ Hùng Kiệt (ViVi). They reprint State Representative Julian Bond’s anti-war comic, Vietnam, which was first published in 1967, look at Snoopy and Charles Shultz during the time of the War, chat to comic writer Garth Ennis, write about Joe Kubert’s connection to Vietnam, and look at how DC Comics and Marvel reacted through their publications to the War at the time, while also making recommendations. 

This issue contains a wide selection of art by Keith Burns, Sara Felix, Nguyễn Thanh Phong, Khánh Dương, Guillermo Ortego, Teddy Harvia, Joe Haldeman, Col Art, Arnie Fenner, Juan Gimenez, Võ Hùng Kiệt, TG Lewis, Huy Oánh, Marcia Rosler, Bill Rotsler, and Rick Swan.

With extensive articles by Brenda Noiseux among many contributors, this issue saw Allison Hartman Adams join Christopher J. Garcia and James Bacon as co-editor in this broad look at the American War in Vietnam.

Download the issue here: Journey Planet issue 76.

Table of Contents

  • Editors’ Note
  • The Jolly Green Jungle Introduction by Chris Garcia
  • Tales From the Jolly Green Jungle by Joe Haldeman
  • How Vietnam Touched My Life by Sara Felix
  • A Vietnam Imagined by Errick Nunnally
  • ”The Smile of Victory”: The Women of the American War in Vietnam by Allison Hartman Adams
  • The Horrors of War and Other Morbid Cliches by David Thayer
  • No Capacity for More by Brenda Noiseux
  • Snoopy: A Metaphor, Mascot, or Comfort Puppy by James Bacon
  • Apocalypse: The Eyes of Doom by Jim O’Brien
  • Truyện Tranh: Piracy, Crowdfunding, and the Growth of Vietnamese Comics by Allison Hartman Adams
  • Hunter S. Thompson: Too Much Tension and Too Little News, by James Bacon
  • Lê Minh Khuê’s Postwar Fiction by Allison Hartman Adams
  • The Forever War and Coming Home by Chuck Serface
  • Little Saigon: How the Vietnam War transformed San Jose Cuisine by Chris Garcia
  • The Kubert Connection by James Bacon
  • To a Brighter Future by Brenda Noiseux
  • Star Wars: Is It an Allegory for the Vietnam War? by James Bacon
  • (Re)discovered loss by Brend Noiseux
  • What the War Left Behind by David Ferguson
  • A Not So Private Little War: Star Trek’s Muddled Vietnam War Protest Episode by Ryan Britt
  • ‘I love the smell of burning flesh in the morning. It tastes like cooked breakfast’: Teddy Bears’ Picnic and Britain’s Vietnam War by Jim O’Brien
  • It’s Not a War Story: Filmmaking and rebirth in modern Vietnam by Allison Hartman Adams
  • Advertising for Vietnam by James Bacon
  • Martha Rosler – Bringing the War Home by Chris Garcia
  • The American War in Vietnam in Marvel Comics During the Vietnam War up to 1975 by James Bacon
  • Dương Thu Hương’s A Novel Without A Name by Allison Hartman Adams
  • Box me up and ship me home: Tim O’Brien’s Vietnam by Jim O’Brien
  • DC Comics and the American War in Vietnam by James Bacon
  • The Vietnam Veterans Memorial by Chris Garcia
  • Comics of the Vietnamese Diaspora by Allison Hartman Adams
  • Curse You Red Baron! by Dick Eney
  • Vietnam Comics Recommendations by James Bacon
  • Introduction to Vietnam by Julian Bond and T.G. Lewis by James Bacon
  • Vietnam by Julian Bond and T.G. Lewis (illustrator)
  • War Fiction, A True Story by David Thayer
  • Garth Ennis talks about Vietnam with James Bacon
  • Gordon, Haldeman, Band and the Robot Jox by Peppard Saltine
  • My Cousin Jimmy by Guy H. Lillian III
  • In the End by Allison Hartman Adams
  • A Brief Note from Chris
  • Enditorial by James Bacon
  • JP 72: Operation Motorman Letters of Comment