Pixel Scroll 12/20/23 Doctor Who And The Scrolls Of Pixeldon

(1) GLASGOW 2024 INITIATES CONSULTATIVE VOTE. The Glasgow 2024 Worldcon committee announced they will hold a “Consultative Vote on Hugo Rule Changes” – specifically, about the two new Hugo categories given first passage at the Chengdu Worldcon Business Meeting. Only WSFS members of the 2024 Worldcon will be eligible to vote. None of the other 12 rule changes passed at Chengdu will be part of the poll.

(Note that despite the phrasing below it was not a “resolution” but multiple amendments to the WSFS Constitution that were passed in Chengdu. A mere resolution would have no binding effect.)

…A resolution passed at the 2023 WSFS Business Meeting in Chengdu would create two new Hugo Award categories: the Best Independent Short Film Award and the Best Independent Feature Film Award. This resolution would need to be ratified by the 2024 WSFS Business Meeting in Glasgow to come into effect from 2025 onward.

At present, we plan to invite all WSFS members of Glasgow 2024 to express their views on the proposed change, in a straight yes-or-no online vote, in the weeks before the convention takes place in August 2024. The proposers will be invited to write a short statement in support of their proposal, and we will offer a similar facility to opponents….

The vote will be conducted immediately before Glasgow 2024—no earlier than the close of Hugo voting, no later than the start of the convention….

Doesn’t this usurp the Business Meeting’s role in changing the constitution?

No. The consultative vote will have no constitutional force. The decisions made by the Business Meeting will be final. Within certain limits, the 2024 Business Meeting can also amend the current proposal before it is ratified, subsequent to the consultative vote.

Why are you doing this?

Among the many potential reforms to WSFS Business Meeting procedures, putting proposals and other matters to a vote of WSFS members is an innovation that has often been mentioned. But it has never been tried. In 2016, the idea of an approval vote for Hugo finalists, as a third round in the nomination process, was passed at the Business Meeting but not ratified in 2017. We therefore propose to test the operation of a consultative vote, to explore if and how such a procedure could become part of the permanent rules….

Why are you not also calling a consultative vote on any other constitutional amendments that are up for ratification in 2024, or on any changes to the standing rules?

Several other constitutional amendments were indeed passed in Chengdu, most notably a proposal to set up an Asian regional convention under the remit of WSFS. Those amendments will also be subject to ratification by the Glasgow Business Meeting, but we do not think that they are suitable material for a consultative vote. Likewise, we don’t believe that amendments to the standing rules, either recent or envisaged, are suitable for this exercise. The Hugo proposal is more straightforward and perhaps of more general interest….

(2) PEAK TV. Variety has ranked “The 100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time”. The overall number one show is I Love Lucy.

Here are the sff programs on the list. The original Star Trek isn’t on it, only Star Trek: The Next Generation. No, I’m not including St Elsewhere, regardless of its sff ending. Should I have included The Simpsons (4) or BoJack Horseman (55) or South Park (59)?

14. The Twilight Zone

21. Game of Thrones

27. Twin Peaks

32. Lost

38. The X-Files

40. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

44. Star Trek: The Next Generation

49. Watchmen

58. The Good Place

79. The Muppet Show

83. Stranger Things

95. Black Mirror

(3) DID THEY MISS THE POINT? Charles Stross says “Tech Billionaires Need to Stop Trying to Make the Science Fiction They Grew Up on Real” in an article at Scientific American. (Possibly paywalled, or not. I had a 50-50 success getting to read it.)

Science fiction (SF) influences everything in this day and age, from the design of everyday artifacts to how we—including the current crop of 50-something Silicon Valley billionaires—work. And that’s a bad thing: it leaves us facing a future we were all warned about, courtesy of dystopian novels mistaken for instruction manuals.

Billionaires who grew up reading science-fiction classics published 30 to 50 years ago are affecting our life today in almost too many ways to list: Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars. Jeff Bezos prefers 1970s plans for giant orbital habitats.  Peter Thiel is funding research into artificial intelligence, life extension and “seasteading.” Mark Zuckerberg has blown $10 billion trying to create the Metaverse from Neal Stephenson’s novel Snow Crash. And Marc Andreessen of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz has published a “techno-optimist manifesto” promoting a bizarre accelerationist philosophy that calls for an unregulated, solely capitalist future of pure technological chaos….

(4) BRING ME THE HEAD OF E.T. “Screen-Used E.T. Animatronic Head Nets Big Money at Auction” – and SYFY Wire knows how much.

…An animatronic E.T. head used during the production of Steven Spielberg‘s coming-of-age sci-fi classic (the film is available to rent and/or own from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment) recently sold for a whopping $635,000 in a bidding war hosted by California-based auction house, Julien’s Auctions. The lot — which was initially estimated to bring in between $800,000 to $1 million — also included a DVD of the movie, just to sweeten the deal a little. Because if you’re going to drop a load of cash on an immortal piece of cinema history, you might as well get a slightly outmoded form of home entertainment for your troubles….

(5) KERFUFFLE COVERAGE. The year could not end without another writerly uproar. Anne Marble has a full roundup in “Can You Copyright the Sun?. The Latest Author Attack of 2023” at Medium. Account required to read the complete story.

So what happened? An author named Lauren M. Davis accused another author of copyright infringement.

Wow. Oh, no! That sounds serious.

But wait. The targeted author — Marvellous Michael Anson — is innocent.

All Marvellous Michael Anson did was promote her upcoming book — an adult fantasy romance called Firstborn of the Sun. Like many acclaimed fantasies in recent years, this one is influenced by West African culture and magic. In this story, everyone is able to draw power from the sun. Except the heroine, Lọ́rẹ. She instead yields a shadow magic…

Note that Anne Marble is a bit concerned that people may be giving the accuser too much attention, because the complaint is so dubious some suspect she may be doing this to get sales. Or simply trolling everyone.

(6) FIGURES REVEALED. “The December Comfort Watches, Day Nineteen: Hidden Figures” – a John Scalzi review at Whatever.

…History, as taught in school, is about choices made. When I was a kid, this story was not one of the choices made.

This can be, I will note, one of the great advantages of film. Hollywood is always looking for stories, and while it is not afraid of recycling the same ones over and over and over, it still from time to time unearths one that is new, or at least new to a general audience. Some of those stories come from history, recent or otherwise. And while one must always take the history that Hollywood provides with a massive grain of salt (including this one; the general arc of Hidden Figures’ story is true, but specific incidences are pumped up and rearranged for dramatic purposes, and certain characters outside of the three main roles are made up out of whole cloth), it nevertheless has the effect of saying: This is a thing that happened, you didn’t know, and we, in our fashion, are telling you about it….

(7) DARK MATTER MAGAZINE TO BE RETIRED. “Issue 018 Will Be The Final Issue Of Dark Matter.” An announcement from Rob Carroll, Founder & Publisher.

When I started Dark Matter three years ago, I wondered if anyone would even care. There are so many excellent short fiction publications out there. Why should people pay attention to this one?

I don’t have an answer to how or why readers and writers and artists jumped on board, but I’m forever grateful they did. Thanks to them, Dark Matter will end its third year of publication in December of 2023, having published 21 issues (18 regular issues plus 3 Halloween special issues), more than 180 stories, more than 40 art features, and a number of interviews with industry greats. These past three years have been a dream come true for me. The joy of creating and editing my own science fiction magazine was an honor and a privilege, and one that I’ll never forget. Helping in a small way to create something that people truly enjoy is the best feeling in the world.

So why close now? Well, there are two simple reasons. One is bandwidth. Starting in 2024, Dark Matter will focus exclusively on our growing trade imprints and audio division. The Dark Matter staff is the most talented and dedicated group of people I’ve ever worked with, but we’re still small in number. In order to continue producing the quality readers have come to expect, I needed to streamline our business model and refresh our focus. The last thing I want is to overextend staff or fail to meet promises made to the readers and contributors that trust us with their time, money, and hard work.

The second reason: it’s time to give others a chance….

The publisher is transitioning to producing Dark Matter Presents line of anthologies, published by Dark Matter INK. 

(8) GREAT LIVES FEATURES BALLARD. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] BBC Radio 4’s Great Lives this week looked at the SF author J. G. Ballard. Among the programme’s contributors was his daughter, so the show had some real insights. For example, J. G. Ballard never objected to being called a science fiction writer, but equally did not like being pigeon-holed. Also covered were his predictions including climate change (Drowned World, 1962) and socially divisive housing (High Rise, 1975) and things like YouTube/streaming (accessible video on demand) which he predicted back in the 1970s. The 25 minute programme also covered his life beyond his writing. 

Philosopher John Gray chooses as his great life the iconic British writer of dystopian and speculative fiction, J.G. Ballard, in conversation with the author’s daughter Bea Ballard. 

You can download it here.

(9) BOB JOHNSON (1944-2023). [Item by Steven French.] I remember buying that Steeleye Span album Below the Salt! “Bob Johnson obituary” in the Guardian.

…Exhausted by the touring, Johnson left the band to work with Knight on a 1977 concept album, The King of Elfland’s Daughter, based on the 1924 fantasy novel by Lord Dunsany. Johnson and Knight were joined by a star cast that included Christopher Lee and the blues hero Alexis Korner, but it was not a commercial success. “It was a lovely project and completely Bob’s idea,” said Knight, “but the record company had no intention of promoting it.”

Johnson re-joined Steeleye for the 1980 album Sails of Silver, but by now folk-rock was out of fashion, swept away by punk and disco. The band’s schedule was far less hectic, allowing him to study for a degree in clinical psychology at Warwick University, followed by an MA at the University of Hertfordshire and occasional work as an occupational therapist in Harley Street. Ill health forced him to leave Steeleye once again in 2002, but he returned to contribute two songs and guest vocals for the band’s 2013 concept double-album, Wintersmith, which was based on stories by the author Terry Pratchett, a Steeleye fan….

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 20, 1960 Nalo Hopkinson, 63. Our Birthday guest tonight is the Jamaican-Canadian writer who I first encountered when I read her Brown Girl in the Ring with its magic realism Afro-Caribbean folklore rooted culture. She won the 1999 Astounding Award for Best New Writer, was a GoH at the 2017 Worldcon in Helsinki, and named a SFWA Grand Master in 2021.

Now I’m going to gush like a true fan here as everything she has done since her impressive debut is most stellar. 

Midnight Robber, that draws off the Trinidadian culture and puts it in a SF setting, was nominated for a Hugo Award at The Millennium Philcon and shortlisted for the Nebula Award and the Canadian Sunburst Award. It is an extraordinary coming of age story.

2017 Worldcon GoH session: Nalo Hopkinson. Photo by Daniel Dern.

So what’s next? Her short fiction must not be overlooked and Skin Folk which garnered a much deserved World Fantasy Award for Best Story Collection is well worth your reading time.“The Gloss Bottle Trick” herein got nominated for an Otherwise Award, and “Something to Hitch Meat To” got a World Fantasy Award nomination. 

And that is one eerie cover, well as done by Mark Harrison. 

Back to novels…

The Salt Roads is not light reading. Depending on your trigger points, it definitely could be depressing. Or worse. I can’t say as you’ll need to read it to find out. The best review of it by far was by Gwyneth Jones in the 91st issue of Foundation.

Everyone but Hugo nominators loved her tale of an orphaned child with a mysterious past and the fantastic troubles it causes in the life of a Caribbean woman as told as in the New Moon’s Arms. I’m not kidding. It won both Sunburst and the Prix, and had nominations for a Campbell Memorial, Mythopoetic Award and a Nebula.

She says the sources for her novels often comes from songs or poems with Christina Rossetti’s poem “Goblin Market” is that for her Norton Award winning Sister Mine which is the complicated tale of two sisters. Fascinating read.

I’ll finish off with her writing for The Sandman Universe: House of Whispers which I think is some of the best work done for that series. It is available, as is all of her work, from the usual suspects. 

Nalo Hopkinson at 2023 Boskone. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

(11) TIME TO OPEN YOUR GIFTS. The Robert Bloch Official Website tells everyone they’re just in time to receive two “presents” for the holidays.

(12) FICTION STORIES FROM THE JOURNAL NATURE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Nature “Futures” now seems to be open access again. They seem to vacillate between being open access and being behind a pay wall (only a couple of weeks ago when I last checked they were behind a paywall as I had to log in to see them (I am a Nature subscriber)).

SF² Concatenation has an arrangement with Nature to re-post what it considers to be the four best of these stories a year subject to author approval. These ‘best of’ ‘Futures’ are all open access. http://www.concatenation.org/futuresindex.html.

(13) HARD-R TREK. One of the director’s collaborators claims to know “Why Quentin Tarantino Stark Trek Movie Was Never Made” and Variety has the story.

Quentin Tarantino fans were sent into a frenzy in late 2017 after it was announced that Paramount and “Star Trek” producer J.J. Abrams had accepted Tarantino’s pitch for a new “Star Trek” movie and were working with “The Revenant” screenwriter Mark L. Smith to iron out the script. The project ultimately never got made, but Smith recently told Collider while promoting his latest project, the George Clooney-directed drama “The Boys in the Boat,” that it would’ve been “the greatest ‘Star Trek’ film.”

“Quentin and I went back and forth, he was gonna do some stuff on it, and then he started worrying about the number, his kind of unofficial number of films,” Smith said. “I remember we were talking, and he goes, ‘If I can just wrap my head around the idea that ‘Star Trek’ could be my last movie, the last thing I ever do. Is this how I want to end it?’ And I think that was the bump he could never get across, so the script is still sitting there on his desk.”

…Tarantino has long said he will retire from feature filmmaking after making his 10th movie. He has nine movies under his belt (he views the two “Kill Bill” movies as one movie), which means there’s only one Tarantino-directed film left. That will be “The Movie Critic,” not a “Star Trek” movie.

“I know he said a lot of nice things about it. I would love for it to happen,” Smith said. “It’s just one of those things that I can’t ever see happening. But it would be the greatest ‘Star Trek’ film, not for my writing, but just for what Tarantino was gonna do with it. It was just a balls-out kind of thing.”

“But I think his vision was just to go hard. It was a hard R. It was going to be some ‘Pulp Fiction’ violence,” Smith continued. “Not a lot of the language, we saved a couple things for just special characters to kind of drop that into the ‘Star Trek’ world, but it was just really the edginess and the kind of that Tarantino flair, man, that he was bringing to it. It would have been cool.”…

(14) MORE CAT VIDEOS, PLEASE. “Orange tabby cat named Taters steals the show in first video sent by laser from deep space” reports AP News.

An orange tabby cat named Taters stars in the first video transmitted by laser from deep space, stealing the show as he chases a red laser light.

The 15-second video was beamed to Earth from NASA’s Psyche spacecraft, 19 million miles (30 million kilometers) away. It took less than two minutes for the ultra high-definition video to reach Caltech’s Palomar Observatory, sent at the test system’s maximum rate of 267 megabits per second.

The video was loaded into Psyche’s laser communication experiment before the spacecraft blasted off to a rare metal asteroid in October. The mission team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, decided to feature an employee’s 3-year-old playful kitty.

The video was streamed to Earth on Dec. 11 and released by NASA this week. Despite the vast distance, the test relayed the video faster than most broadband internet connections here on Earth, said the project’s Ryan Rogalin.

NASA wants to improve communications from deep space, especially as astronauts gear up to return to the moon with an eye toward Mars. The laser demo is meant to transmit data at rates up to 100 times greater than the radio systems currently used by spacecraft far from Earth….

(15) SCANSION. “Black holes, love and poetry — an artistic exploration of intimacy and adventure” at Nature.

The Warped Side of Our Universe: An Odyssey through Black Holes, Wormholes, Time Travel, and Gravitational Waves Kip Thorne & Lia Halloran Liveright (2023)

Physicist Kip Thorne and visual artist Lia Halloran began to collaborate on a magazine article about the strange, warped space-time in and around a black hole more than a decade ago. It was never published — but it inspired a much more ambitious project.

The pair have just released an illustrated book portraying space-time storms generated by colliding black holes and neutron stars, as well as wormholes and the possibility of time machines — with explanations and illustrations all guided by cutting-edge computer simulations. It’s an intimate account, too. Halloran’s paintings depict her wife, Felicia, with her body stretching, spinning and contorting as she nears the gravitational maw of a black hole. Thorne expresses his words in verse….

(16) HOLIDAY TUNE. Return now to those thrilling days of 1979: “John Denver & The Muppets – The Twelve Days of Christmas”.

John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together is a 1979 Christmas television special starring Jim Henson’s Muppets and singer-songwriter John Denver. The special first aired December 5, 1979, on ABC.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Daniel Dern doesn’t want you miss the Pink Panther & James Bond EPIC Theme Song Mashup” (first posted in 2022.)

This time I took the famous Pink Panther theme song by Henri Mancini and the also famous James Bond Theme by Monty Norman. In my opinion the two themes fit perfectly together but judge yourself. For this Epic song mashup I used my Korg Kronos 61 and Korg Kronos 88. All the sounds you hear are specially designed for this classic theme song mashup.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, Rich Lynch, Steven French, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 3/29/23 Pixelovid Inhibits The Virus From Cross-Posting

(1) CAT RAMBO MAKES APOLOGY ABOUT WORKSHOP VENUE. Amplifying yesterday’s announcement of The Wayward Wormhole workshop in Spain, Cat Rambo has written “An Apology to the F&SF Community, and Particularly to Those who Look to Me for Leadership” in respect to the 2023 location’s lack of accessibility.

So let me start out by saying I screwed up, and in a way that I should have known better than to do. The problem is that the Wayward Wormhole intensive writing workshop that I’m hosting is in one way absolutely not up to standard, and that is its lack of accessibility. This is particularly unacceptable given that I have called out inaccessible venues in the past….

… So I apologize to the community for setting a bad example. I apologize to my teachers for having involved them in this ethical lapse. And I apologize, abjectly, to my students for having let them down in this regard.

Given that I have already made a substantial down payment that is nonrefundable and which I can’t afford to lose, what are the material steps I can do to show I understand I fucked up and mean to make it right?

The amends Cat will make are identified in four points at the post.

(2) OOPS. Hell Gate NYC is reporting “Some Guy Bought the Flatiron Building and Didn’t Pay for It”. The winning bidder on the Flatiron Building in a public auction held earlier this month has failed to make the $19 million down payment.

…[Jacob] Garlick fell to his knees upon winning the auction and appeared to cry, but why was he crying? Because of the rush of adrenaline that can only come from doing something a 14-year-old version of you would find really cool? Because he fucked up and bid his way into a Coen brothers-esque scenario? (Per our own Adlan Jackson: It’s fine to cry at work, just don’t pretend it’s about the building.) Garlick’s LinkedIn profile says he is “passionate about building deep relationships,” but maybe a little less passionate about actually coughing up the money for the Flatiron building—which he notably did not post about buying even though he’s pretty active on the platform. 

We reached out to Garlick for comment, and until we hear from the man himself, I guess we’ll never know his true motives—or the true source of his apparent buyer’s remorse…. 

According to Spectrum News 1 the next person in line to buy the building may not exercise his right:

…Under the terms of the sale, set by a judge, the building could be offered to the second-highest bidder: Jeffrey Gural, who was part owner of the Flatiron Building heading into the auction.

Gural tapped out after making a $189.5 million bid. But Gural told NY1 he was not interested in the Flatiron Building at that price….

He previously told NY1 he thought the winning bidder offered too much money, as the historic building needs extensive and expensive repairs.

(3) BRANDON SANDERSON, ESQUIRE. [Item by PhilRM.] Adam Morgan’s Esquire profile “Welcome to Brandon Sanderson’s Fantasy Empire” apparently was originally intended to appear just a few hours after Jason Kehe’s hit piece in Wired. The author reached out to Kehe for comment before this piece was published today, but didn’t get much of a response.

“This is my dream,” Brandon Sanderson says.

We’re 30 feet beneath the surface of northern Utah, in a room that feels like a cross between a five-star hotel lobby and a Bond villain’s secret base. My ears popped on the way down. Sanderson points to the grand piano, the shelves filled with ammonite fossils, the high walls covered in wood and damask paneling, and his pièce de résistance: a cylindrical aquarium swirling with saltwater fish.

“George R. R. Martin bought an old movie theater. Jim Butcher bought a LARPing castle,” he says. “I built an underground supervillain lair.”

This is where Sanderson writes bestselling fantasy and science fiction novels. Many of them take place in an interconnected series of worlds called the Cosmere, his ink-and-paper equivalent of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But instead of superheroes defending Earth, Sanderson’s warriors, thieves, scholars, and royals are spread across a richly detailed system of planets, from the ash-covered cities of Scadrial to the shattered plains of Roshar—a landscape directly inspired by the sandstone buttes and slot canyons of southeastern Utah.

It all started 25 years ago when Sanderson, a practicing Mormon, was an undergraduate student at Brigham Young University just 15 miles away in Provo. He took a part-time job working night shifts at the front desk of a nearby hotel, where he could write between midnight and 5:00 AM.

Over the next five years, while working at the hotel during and after his undergraduate years at BYU, he wrote 12 full-length novels that were all rejected by publishers. But one day in 2003, Moshe Feder, an editor at the Tor Books subsidiary of the publishing house Macmillan, discovered one of his manuscripts in the slush pile—and the fate of the Cosmere was sealed….

…Sanderson tells me he hasn’t heard from Kehe or anyone else at WIRED since the profile ran. “But I hope I can talk to [Kehe] again at some point,” he says. “Anytime I get criticism from anyone, my job is to listen.” Before we hang up, he compares this experience to something in the Cosmere. “One of the main themes of Mistborn is that it’s worth trusting people, even though they can hurt you,” he says. “It’s better to trust and be betrayed in real life, too.”

Over email, I ask Kehe a few questions as well. Why did he read so many of Sanderson’s books if he didn’t like the writing? Was he surprised by the responses to his story? Did the responses change his perspective on anything? Kehe writes back: “As I’ve said to others, the piece belongs to readers now. They get the last word.”…

(4) TUNE OF THE UNKNOWN. NPR’s Maureen Corrigan reviews Biography of X, an alternate history that may, or may not, be considered genre: “Everything she knew about her wife was false — a faux biography finds the ‘truth'”.

To those readers who prize “relatability,” Catherine Lacey’s latest novel may as well come wrapped in a barbed wire book jacket. There is almost nothing about Biography of X, as this novel is called, that welcomes a reader in — least of all, its enigmatic central character, a fierce female artist who died in 1996 and who called herself “X,” as well as a slew of other names. Think Cate Blanchett as Tár, except more narcicisstic and less chummy.

When the novel opens, X’s biography is in the early stages of being researched by her grieving widow, a woman called CM, who comes to realize that pretty much everything she thought she knew about her late wife was false. The fragmented biography of X that CM slowly assembles is shored up by footnotes and photographs, included here.

Real-life figures also trespass onto the pages of this biography to interact with X — who, I must remind you, is a made-up character. Among X’s friends are Patti Smith, the former Weather Underground radical Kathy Boudin, and the beloved New York School poet, Frank O’Hara.

As if this narrative weren’t splintered enough, Lacey’s novel is also a work of alternate history, in which we learn that post-World War II America divided into three sections: The liberal Northern Territory where Emma Goldman served as FDR’s chief of staff (don’t let the dates trip you up); the Southern Territory, labeled a “tyrannical theocracy,” and the off-the-grid “Western Territory.” A violent “Reunification” of the Northern and Southern Territories has taken place, but relations remain hostile…

(5) GAME OVER. “Rift Between Gaming Giants Shows Toll of China’s Economic Crackdown” – the New York Times has the story.

Last October, executives at the Chinese gaming company NetEase and the American video game developer Activision Blizzard joined a Zoom videoconference to discuss the future of their 14-year partnership to offer Activision’s games like World of Warcraft in China.

NetEase executives were worried about new laws imposed by the Chinese government and wanted to make changes to their longstanding contract with Activision to ensure they were in compliance.

But the companies left the call with drastically different interpretations of what had been said, according to four people familiar with the talks and a document viewed by The New York Times. What NetEase executives contended was a conciliatory gesture was seen as a threat by Activision executives. A month later, the companies broke off talks.

In January, more than three million Chinese players lost access to Activision’s iconic games when the partnership ended, and angry NetEase employees livestreamed the dismantling of a 32-foot sculpture of an ax from World of Warcraft that stood outside NetEase’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China.

The testy breakup, after months of talks, ended a relationship that had seemed to prove that global commerce could thrive despite deepening geopolitical rifts. A partnership that had been worth about $750 million in annual revenue, according to company filings and the video game research firm Niko Partners, had become another case study in the increasing difficulty of doing business in China….

… In late January, most of Activision’s games — including World of Warcraft, Diablo III and Overwatch — went dark in China. Chinese companies, including NetEase, released games that some analysts said bore close similarities to the shuttered Activision titles.

NetEase also made a recruiting pitch to former World of Warcraft players, hoping to get them to join Justice Online, a NetEase game in the same genre as World of Warcraft. Online, people posted photos of items from the Justice and Warcraft games that resembled each other.

NetEase said its games did not share similarities with Activision’s….

(6) AB FAN COLLAB. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] In a collaboration between Fermilab scientists and fashion students at the College of DuPage (both in the western part of greater Chicago), Spot now has some new duds. Or will have, once the scientists plus up a little on their tailoring skills.

The lab wanted to be able to send Spot into areas around their nuclear accelerator not “cool“ enough for humans (in a radiation sense) but provide for protection of the robot doggo from radioactive dust. The students said, “Challenge accepted.”

So, they found a way to modify human hazmat suits, including adding Velcro in strategic spots to keep the material from interfering with the sensors. They also had to be careful to size the garment so it wouldn’t get pinched in any of the bot’s joints. And, they found that off-the-shelf dog booties fit Spot’s feet quite well, completing the ensemble.

The students will deliver a pattern & instructions to the scientists designed to avoid difficult sewing tasks. For instance, if you’ve ever had to size an armhole and a matching sleeve then get them sewn together in anything like a working fashion, you know how hard that can be.  “A collaboration pairs Fermilab with fashion students” at Symmetry Magazine.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1953[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

So let’s have the Beginning of the most iconic British spies, James Bond. 

Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale was published by Jonathan Cape In hardcover in 1953. Like all the Bond novels, it’s fairly short at two hundred and thirteen pages in this printing. 

It has been a Daily Express comic strip, a Fifties episode of the CBS television series Climax! with Barry Nelson as an American Bond, Jimmy Bond, the Sixties film version with David Niven playing him, and of course the film with Daniel Craig.

He originally named his spy James Secretan before he borrowed the name of James Bond, author of the well known ornithology guide, Birds of the West Indies. As for his looks, he said, “Bond reminds me rather of Hoagy Carmichael.” 

The cover below was devised by Fleming.

A first edition is worth at least seventeen thousand dollars. 

And now for our Beginning…

CHAPTER 1

THE SECRET AGENT

The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning. Then the soul-erosion produced by high gambling—a compost of greed and fear and nervous tension—becomes unbearable and the senses awake and revolt from it.

James Bond suddenly knew that he was tired. He always knew when his body or his mind had had enough and he always acted on the knowledge. This helped him to avoid staleness and the sensual bluntness that breeds mistakes.

He shifted himself unobtrusively away from the roulette he had been playing and went to stand for a moment at the brass rail which surrounded breast-high the top table in the salle privée.

Le Chiffre was still playing and still, apparently, winning. There was an untidy pile of flecked hundred-mille plaques in front of him. In the shadow of his thick left arm there nestled a discreet stack of the big yellow ones worth half a million francs each.

Bond watched the curious, impressive profile for a time, and then he shrugged his shoulders to lighten his thoughts and moved away.

The barrier surrounding the caisse comes as high as your chin and the caissier, who is generally nothing more than a minor bank clerk, sits on a stool and dips into his piles of notes and plaques. These are ranged on shelves. They are on a level, behind the protecting barrier, with your groin. The caissier has a cosh and a gun to protect him, and to heave over the barrier and steal some notes and then vault back and get out of the casino through the passages and doors would be impossible. And the caissiers generally work in pairs.

Bond reflected on the problem as he collected the sheaf of hundred thousand and then the sheaves of ten thousand franc notes. With another part of his mind, he had a vision of tomorrow’s regular morning meeting of the casino committee.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 29, 1923 Geoffrey Ashe. British historian and lecturer, Arthurian expert. His first book, King Arthur’s Avalon: The Story of Glastonbury, was published sixty years ago. He wrote one novel, The Finger and the Moon, set at Allhallows, a college near Glastonbury Tor. Anyone here who’s read this novel? (Died 2022.)
  • Born March 29, 1943 Eric Idle, 80. Monty Python is genre, isn’t it? If not, I know that The Adventures of Baron MunchausenYellowbeardMonty Python and the Holy GrailQuest for CamelotShrek the Third and Nearly Departed, an updated version of Topper, which he had a hand in certainly are. And it turns out he’s written a witty SF novel, The Road to Mars: A Post-Modern Novel, which involves an Android, comedy and interplanetary travel.
  • Born March 29, 1955 Marina Sirtis, 68. Counselor Deanna Troi in the Trekverse. Waxwork II: Lost in Time as Gloria is her true genre film role followed shortly by a one-off on the The Return of Sherlock Holmes series as Lucrezia. And then there’s her mid Nineties voice acting as Demona on Gargoyles, possibly her best role to date. Skipping some one-offs on various genre series, her most recent appearance was on Picard where she and Riker are happily married.
  • Born March 29, 1956 Mary Gentle, 67. Her trilogy of Rats and GargoylesThe Architecture of Desire (an Otherwise nominee), and Left to His Own Devices, is a stunning work of alternate history with magic replacing science. Ash: A Secret History is superb, it won both a BSFA and a Sideways Award as well as being a finalist for a Clarke and a Campbell Memorial. 
  • Born March 29, 1957 Elizabeth Hand, 66. Not even going to attempt to summarize her brilliant career. I will say that my fav works by her are the Shirley Jackson Award-winning Wylding HallIllyria and Mortal Love. And let’s by no means overlook Waking the Moon which won both a Mythopoeic Award and an Otherwise Award. Her only Hugo nomination was at Renovation for her “The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon” novella. 
  • Born March 29, 1957 Yolande Palfrey. Yes, another Doctor Who performer. She was Janet in “Terror of the Vervoids”, a Sixth Doctor story. She was also in Dragonslayer as one of its victims, She was Veton in the “Pressure Point” episode of Blake’s 7 and she shows as Ellie on The Ghosts of Motley Hall series. She died far too young of a brain tumor. (Died 2011.)
  • Born March 29, 1968 Lucy Lawless, 55. Xena in Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Cylon model Number Three D’Anna Biers on that Battlestar Galactica series. She also played Countess Palatine Ingrid von Marburg, the last of a line of Germanic witches on the Salem series. Her most recent genre role as Ruby Knowby, one of the Dark Ones, on the Ash vs Evil Dead series. Though not genre, she was Lucretia in Spartacus: Blood and Sand, its prequel Spartacus: Gods of the Arena and its sequel Spartacus: Vengeance.

(9) SUPER INHERITANCE. This is the benefit that comes when your parent doesn’t throw his comic books away: “Metro Detroit man uncovers one of the largest, most valuable comic book collections in the country” at CBS Detroit.

A Metro Detroit father kept a secret for 50 years, but now his son is on a journey to uncover the truth. And what he found is one of the largest and most valuable comic book collections in the country.

The story will be featured in an upcoming documentary called “Selling Superman.”

(10) JEOPARDY! [Item by David Goldfarb.] Monday’s episode had some SFF-related clues in the single Jeopardy round. Here they are, in the order they were selected:

Fantasy Sports, $600: Katniss & Peeta are about to eat poisonous berries when they learn they can’t both win this, but they get a reprieve.
Challenger Nicole Rudolph responded: What are the Hunger Games?

Number “One” Movies, $800: Steven Spielberg directed this 2018 movie about the hunt for an “Easter Egg” in a virtual reality called Oasis.
Nobody knew Ready Player One.

Fantasy Sports, $200: Ginny Weasley had a brilliant career in this sport, joining the Holyhead Harpies.
Challenger Kevin Manning said: What is quidditch?

Fantasy Sports, $1000: This author says in “Sirens of Titan” that the children of Mars “spent most of their time playing German batball”.

Another triple stumper: it was Kurt Vonnegut.

(11) NEXT STOP, BRONTO BURGERS? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] An Australian start up specializing in lab-cultured meat recently unveiled a mammoth meatball. Yes, as in made from woolly mammoth meat. (Though it was rather oversized, too.)

Well, it was mostly mammoth. They used available mammoth DNA sequences, but filled in the blanks with African elephant DNA, then stuffed that all into a sheep cell with the nucleus removed. (Paging, John Hammond…)

The company, Vow, is working on their first actual product cultured from Japanese quail. 

As for mammoth meatballs, don’t expect to find them in your grocers’ freezer aisle anytime soon—this was a one-off to get peoples attention and no one even tasted it. Presumably, it would be unwise to nibble on it now it’s likely home to extensive cultures of the bacterial sort. “Elephant in the dining room: Startup makes mammoth meatball” at AP News.

An Australian company on Tuesday lifted the glass cloche on a meatball made of lab-grown cultured meat using the genetic sequence from the long-extinct pachyderm, saying it was meant to fire up public debate about the hi-tech treat.

The launch in an Amsterdam science museum came just days before April 1 so there was an elephant in the room: Is this for real?

“This is not an April Fools joke,” said Tim Noakesmith, founder of Australian startup Vow. “This is a real innovation.”

Cultivated meat — also called cultured or cell-based meat — is made from animal cells. Livestock doesn’t need to be killed to produce it, which advocates say is better not just for the animals but also for the environment.

Vow used publicly available genetic information from the mammoth, filled missing parts with genetic data from its closest living relative, the African elephant, and inserted it into a sheep cell, Noakesmith said. Given the right conditions in a lab, the cells multiplied until there were enough to roll up into the meatball….

(12) WHO OWNS A MONSTER? Monday’s BBC Radio 4 arts programme Front Row had a substantive item halfway through on copyrighting Dungeons & Dragon monsters. Downloadable from here for a month, thereafter BBC Sounds.

Front Row examines the controversy surrounding Dungeons and Dragons, the world’s most popular table-top role playing game and now a Hollywood film, as fans protest against a clampdown on fan-made content. Professional Dungeons and Dragons player Kim Richards and Senior Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law, Dr. Hayleigh Bosher, join Tom Sutcliffe to discuss what this means for fans and copyright owners

(13) ASTEROID CITY. Wes Anderson’s latest. Looks like a STFnal slant?

Asteroid City takes place in a fictional American desert town circa 1955. Synopsis: The itinerary of a Junior Stargazer/Space Cadet convention (organized to bring together students and parents from across the country for fellowship and scholarly competition) is spectacularly disrupted by world-changing events.

(14) FAN VIDEO RELEASED. [Item by N.] The second episode of the animated webseries “A Fox in Space,” based on the Star Fox series of games, has been released after seven whole years of production, set a decade before the events of episode one. Indie animation at its finest, arguably space opera at its finest?

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

Pixel Scroll 2/26/23 If You’re Scrolling To Fan FifthFrisco, Be Sure To Wear Some Pixels In Your Hair

(1) TYPE FROM THE FEDERATION JOB BOX. [Item by Olav Rokne.] The typography of Star Trek has a more interesting history than I realized. 

(2) SHAKEN, NOT STIRRED. On the heels of the Roald Dahl controversy, Variety reports the “James Bond Novels Edited to Remove Racist Content”. The linked article includes examples.

A report in U.K. newspaper The Telegraph reveals that ahead of the reissue of the Bond novels in April to mark 70 years of “Casino Royale,” the first book in the series, rights holders Ian Fleming Publications Ltd commissioned a review by sensitivity readers.

Each book will carry the disclaimer, “This book was written at a time when terms and attitudes which might be considered offensive by modern readers were commonplace. A number of updates have been made in this edition, while keeping as close as possible to the original text and the period in which it is set,” The Telegraph said….

(3) AHEAD OF ITS TIME. The New Yorker reveals “What a Sixty-Five-Year-Old Book Teaches Us About A.I.” You’ve probably even read this book. I know I did. I just don’t remember anything about it.

…On the other, what’s the point of asking anyone to write anything anymore?

Luckily for us, thoughtful people long ago anticipated the rise of artificial intelligence and wrestled with some of the thornier issues. I’m thinking in particular of Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin, two farseeing writers, both now deceased, who, in 1958, published an early examination of this topic. Their book-the third in what was eventually a fifteen-part series-is “Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine.” I first read it in third or fourth grade, very possibly as a homework assignment….

(4) A QUICK VISIT TO 1963. Sff writers were among those who responded to these questions posed by a student in 1963: “Document: The Symbolism Survey” an article from The Paris Review (2011).

In 1963, a sixteen-year-old San Diego high school student named Bruce McAllister sent a four-question mimeographed survey to 150 well-known authors of literary, commercial, and science fiction. Did they consciously plant symbols in their work? he asked. Who noticed symbols appearing from their subconscious, and who saw them arrive in their text, unbidden, created in the minds of their readers? When this happened, did the authors mind?…

…The answers to the questionnaire were as varied as the writers themselves. Did Isaac Asimov plant symbolism in his work? “Consciously? Heavens, no! Unconsciously? How can one avoid it?” Iris Murdoch sagely advises that “there is much more symbolism in ordinary life than some critics seem to realize.” Ayn Rand wins the prize for concision; addressing McAllister’s example of symbolism in The Scarlet Letter, she wrote, “This is not a definition, it is not true—and, therefore, your questions do not make sense.” Kerouac is a close second; he writes, “Symbolism is alright in ‘Fiction’ but I tell true life stories simply about what happened to people I knew.” The apologies Bruce received from secretaries—including those of John Steinbeck, Muriel Spark, and Ian Fleming—explaining that they were traveling and unable to respond were longer than that.

Science-fiction writers—most notably Fritz Leiber, Lloyd Biggle Jr., Judith Merril, and A. J. Budrys—were the most expansive. Biggle sent a lengthy letter and then, nearly a year later, sent further thoughts. In the second letter, he advised McAllister to read an essay by Mary McCarthy, “Settling the Colonel’s Hash,” saying, “You will not want to do any kind of article on symbolism until you have read [this] … You will find much good material there, as well as an emphatic reinforcement for your viewpoint.” (McCarthy sent the same advice herself.) Judith Merril’s response is heavily mired in linguistics; she offers McAllister a chart to illustrate her semantic overview….

(5) MEMORY LANE.

1968[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

The Beginning for the Scroll this time is from Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight which was published by Ballantine Books in 1968. It won no Awards but “Weyr Search” which is the short story that started off this series won a Hugo at BayCon.

It led me to try to remember decades on just how far I got in that series. I know I got as far as the Harper Hall sub-series which means I got through the first six novels but I don’t remember going any further. For those of you who read deeper, what followed those novels? 

I thought those novels were splendid with interesting characters, both human and dragon, and a wonderfully realized setting, though I admit I’ve not revisited it so I don’t know how the Suck Fairy and her steel shod boots would treat them if I was to do so now given I was in my twenties when I last read them, thus over forty years ago. 

So now here’s that Beginning…

WHEN is a legend legend? Why is a myth a myth? How old and disused must a fact be for it to be relegated to the category “Fairy-tale”? And why do certain facts remain incontrovertible while others lose their validity to assume a shabby, unstable character? 

Rukbat, in the Sagittarian sector, was a golden G-type star. It had five planets, and one stray it had attracted and held in recent millennia. Its third planet was enveloped by air man could breathe, boasted water he could drink, and possessed a gravity that permitted man to walk confidently erect. Men discovered it and promptly colonized it. They did that to every habitable planet, and then—whether callously or through collapse of empire, the colonists never discovered and eventually forgot to ask—left the colonies to fend for themselves. 

When men first settled on Rukbat’s third world and named it Pern, they had taken little notice of the stranger-planet, swinging around its adopted primary in a wildly erratic elliptical orbit. Within a few generations they had forgotten its existence. The desperate path the wanderer pursued brought it close to its stepsister every two hundred (Terran) years at perihelion. 

When the aspects were harmonious and the conjunction with its sister planet close enough, as it often was, the indigenous life of the wanderer sought to bridge the space gap to the more temperate and hospitable planet. 

It was during the frantic struggle to combat this menace dropping through Pern’s skies like silver threads that Pern’s tenuous contact with the mother planet was broken. Recollections of Earth receded further from Pernese history with each successive generation until memory of their origins degenerated past legend or myth, into oblivion.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 26, 1908 ­Tex Avery. An animator, cartoonist, director and voice actor beyond compare. Without him, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and Porky Pig would not have existed. Avery’s influence can be seen in Animaniacs and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. (Died 1980.)
  • Born February 26, 1918 ­Theodore Sturgeon. Damn, I hadn’t realized that he’d only written six novels! More Than Human is brilliant and I assumed that he’d written a lot more long for fiction but it was short form where excelled with more than two hundred stories. I did read over the years a number of his reviews — he was quite good at those. (Died 1985.)
  • Born February 26, 1921 ­Bill Evans. First Fandom member who wrote a number of important works. With Bob Pavlat, Evans edited/published the Evans-Pavlat Fanzine Index during the Fifties, which he followed up with Index of Science Fiction Magazines 1926 – 1948 that Bob Petersen co-wrote. With Francis T. Laney, Evans published Howard Philips Lovecraft (1890-1937): A Tentative Bibliography. His final work was with Ron Ellik, The Universes of E. E. Smith. (Died 1985.)
  • Born February 26, 1945 ­Marta Kristen, 78. Kristen is best known for her role as Judy Robinson, one of Professor John and Maureen Robinson’s daughters, in the original Lost in Space. And yes, I watched the entire series. Good stuff it was. She has a cameo in the Lost in Space film as Reporter Number One. None of her other genre credits are really that interesting, just the standard stuff you’d expect such as an appearance on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
  • Born February 26, 1948 ­Sharyn McCrumb, 75. ISFDB lists all of her Ballad novels as genre but that’s a wee bit deceptive as how genre strong they are depends upon the novel. Oh, Nora Bonesteel, she who sees Death, is in every novel but only some novels such as the Ghost Riders explicitly contain fantasy elements. If you like mysteries, highly recommended.  Now the Jay Omega novels, Bimbos of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool are genre, are great fun and well worth reading. They are in print which is interesting as I know she took them out of print for awhile.
  • Born February 26, 1958 ­Karen Berger, 65. She created the Vertigo imprint at DC, and served as the line’s Executive Editor for a decade. Some of my favorite works there are Fables, Hellblazer, Preacher, 100 Bullets and V for Vendetta. She currently runs Berger Books, an imprint of Dark Horse Comics.
  • Born February 26, 1963 ­Chase Masterson, 60. Fans are fond of saying that she spent five years portraying the Bajoran Dabo entertainer Leeta on Deep Space Nine which means she was in the background of Quark’s bar a lot. Her post-DS9 genre career is pretty much non-existent save one-off appearances on Sliders, the current incarnation of The Flash and Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, a very unofficial Tim Russ project. She has done some voice work for Big Finish Productions as of late.
  • Born February 26, 1965 ­Liz Williams, 58. For my money, her best writing by far is her Detective Inspector Chen series about the futuristic Chinese city Singapore Three, its favorite paranormal police officer Chen and his squabbles with Heaven and Hell. I’ve read most of them and recommend them highly. I’m curious to see what else y’all have read of her and suggest that I read.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Get Fuzzy has a cat’s attempt to improve on Rodgers & Hammerstein. Doesn’t yours do this?

(8) LISTEN IN. Episode 5 of the Anime Explorations Podcast is “Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family”.

This month, Tora, David, and Alexander kick off the inaugural installment of Fate-uary with a discussion of our background with the franchise, and a look at Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family.

Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family is available for streaming on Crunchyroll: https://www.crunchyroll.com/series/GRP8KG9VR/todays-menu-for-the-emiya-family
The manga is available through RightStuf (Affiliate Link): https://www.shareasale.com/m-pr.cfm?merchantID=65886&userID=1469344&productID=1211531609

(9) KID$ LIT. I’ve owned a lot of these books — not these pricey editions, of course: “The world’s most valuable children’s books” from AbeBooks.

Are the books from your childhood packed in boxes in the basement? Old children’s books can be valuable if they are the right edition in the right condition. And condition is so important when considering children’s literature. Youngsters can love a book too much, reading it again and again, which results in extreme wear and tear. Crayon or pen markings, and torn or lost dust jackets all reduce the value of a book….

The biggest price tag is attached to —

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Top of the pile is The Hobbit – the book that launched the fantasy genre – and we’re talking about the 1,500 first edition copies published in the UK on 21 September 1937 by Allen & Unwin. These copies are hard to find. If you discover one then it’s the equivalent of Bilbo Baggins finding Gollum’s ring in the depths of the goblin mountain. Peter Jackson’s movies and the Amazon Prime series have helped to maintain interest in Tolkien’s work.

Most expensive copy to sell on AbeBooks – a 1937 first edition sold for $65,000 in 2003.

Affordable alternative – The Harry Abrams 1977 deluxe illustrated edition, with artwork from Arthur Rankin Jr and Jules Bass, is gorgeous, and prices range from $90 to $350.

(10) VIDEO GAME MOVIE TRAILER OF THE DAY. “First trailer for Tetris movie could not be more ’80s if it tried” says MSN.com.

Apple has released the first trailer for its movie Tetris, which tells the extraordinary true story of the struggle between Western publishers, Nintendo, and the Soviet Union itself for the rights to Alexey Pajitnov’s classic puzzle game.

Taron Egerton plays Henk Rogers, the gaming entrepreneur who was instrumental in discovering Tetris and securing the console gaming rights, thus enabling its release on Nintendo’s then-revolutionary Game Boy handheld. To do so, he had to negotiate directly with the Soviet regime, since Communist law dictated that the game belonged to the people of the Soviet Union (read: the government) rather than Pajitnov himself. All sorts of Cold War skullduggery ensued….

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Olav Rokne, Daniel Dern, Jennifer Hawthorne, Alexander Case, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 11/19/22 Scroll And Deliver, Your Pixels Or Your Life!

(1) GREG BEAR MEDICAL UPDATE. File 770 has been receiving copies of Astrid Bear’s FB friends-locked updates about Greg Bear’s decline during the past week, the kind of thing I ordinarily run only with permission of the author. However, today a great many writers publicly shared his latest status, and I will too.

To catch everyone up, here is Robert J. Sawyer’s concise explanation of what has happened:

“Greg Bear had heart surgery eleven days ago on November 8, to redo his aortic arch replacement and repair the proximal descending thoracic aorta work done in a previous heart surgery in 2014. The current operation seemed to go well.

“As of eight days ago, on November 11, he still hadn’t woken up from the anesthetic. A CT scan showed multiple strokes, caused by clots that had been hiding in a false lumen of the anterior artery to the brain ever since Greg’s original surgery eight years ago.”

Today it was announced Bear will soon be taken off life support. This screencap is being shared by many, including Charles Stross, and obviously with the greatest sympathy and regard.

(2) CORFLU FIFTY WINNERS FOR 2023. [Item by Rob Jackson] Rich Coad and I, as US (including Canada) and UK (including Europe) Administrators for the Corflu Fifty fan fund, are delighted to announce that we have picked, and got enthusiastic acceptances from, two Corflu Fifty winners for Corflu Craic, the 40th Corflu which is being held at the end of March in Belfast: Sue Mason (fan artist from London), and Pascal Thomas (fan editor from Toulouse).

(3) SUPERSTAR CHEN. Tordotcom editor Ruoxi Chen carried away the prize at Publisher Weekly’s Star Watch event. “PW Star Watch Finalist Ruoxi Chen Named ‘Superstar’ Winner”  — Publishers Weekly has details, including a list of all the other finalists.

More than 100 people came out on November 15 to celebrate some of the best and brightest names in publishing at PW’s annual Star Watch event, held this year at the Monarch Rooftop in New York City.

In an evening punctuated by food and fanfare, Tordotcom Publishing editor Rouxi Chen became the toast of the town when she took away the $2,500 Superstar prize and used her moment to call attention to the ongoing HarperCollins union strike.

In a short speech, the room erupted into applause as Chen dedicated her win to her family and her “colleagues at HarperCollins who are fighting for workers rights.”

“This industry is sometimes not the easiest one to be in, but it wouldn’t be possible without all of you,” she said. “To my incredible authors, an editor isn’t anything without the books. And I am so grateful that I get to work on editing your stuff.”…

(4) ANOTHER GIANT SHRINKS STAFF. “Amazon Announces Layoffs in Books, Devices” reports Publishers Lunch.

Amazon ceo Andy Jassy told employees on Thursday that the company would “eliminate a number of positions” in the Devices and Books divisions. In a memo to staff, he said that this year’s operating planning review “is more difficult due to the fact that the economy remains in a challenging spot and we’ve hired rapidly the last several years.”

They have not yet announced which roles have been cut or how many, or how the changes will affect the functioning of the Books division. (Unlike Books, Devices has been a drag on the company, reportedly losing over $5 billion a year.)

… Other divisions will be given the option of taking voluntary buyouts, and additional reductions are planned for early 2023.

(5) WOOSTER MOURNED. National Review columnist John Miller has written a tribute to his friend: “Martin Morse Wooster, R.I.P.”

Martin Morse Wooster started a peculiar tradition years ago: Whenever he spotted a “John Miller” in the news, he let me know. Early on, he sent clips by regular mail, cut from the pages of his prodigious reading. At some point, the emails outnumbered the stamped envelopes. Along the way, I learned about hordes of people with whom I share a name. They included loads of criminals and at least one person who attended a Star Trek convention as a Klingon.

I’m sorry to say that I’ll never again receive one of these notices: Martin died on November 12, killed in a hit-and-run accident in Virginia….

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1967 [By Cat Eldridge.] Casino Royale 

Ahhhh spoofs. A long tradition they’ve had in all forms of entertainment and it’s no surprise that the Bond films got a delightful one in the Casino Royale film. It premiered fifty-five years ago, the same year as You Only Live Twice, the fifth Sean Connery Bond film.

So why so? 

Well, it turns out that Casino Royale was the only Ian Fleming book not sold to producers Saltzman and Broccoli for the official James Bond series. Because of the popularity of Sean Connery’s Bond, and because of Connery’s considered expensive million dollars per film price, Charles Feldman decided to make the film a spoof. After production troubles and budget overruns that I’ll detail below, Feldman later told Connery it would have been considerably cheaper to pay him his salary.

It was very, very loosely based upon the 1953 novel of the same name.

TIME TO GO GET A COCKTAIL OR TWO AS FILM SECRETS FOLLOW.

The film stars David Niven as the “original” Bond, Sir James Bond 007, forced out of retirement to investigate the deaths and disappearances of a number of spies. In doing so, he soon is matching wits with Dr. Noah of the not very evil SMERSH. Remember this is a parody. 

Now we come to the really fun part of the film, the matter of multiple, might-be Bonds.

Remember the film’s tagline: Casino Royale is too much… for one James Bond!

Bond’s plan is to mislead SMERSH by having six other agents be him  — baccarat master Evelyn Tremble (Peter Sellers); Bond’s daughter with Mata Hari, Mata Bond (Joanna Pettet); Bond’s secretary Miss Moneypenny (Barbara Bouchet); British agents Coop (Terence Cooper) and The Detainer (Daliah Lavi); and even a millionaire spy Vesper Lynd (Ursula Andress).

Need I say that Bond’s plan, and the film, really did go awry. I’ll discuss that below.

NO MORE SECRETS ALAS WILL BE REVEALED.

The film was a horrid affair with nearly everyone hating being involved as the ensemble cast thought each other was getting more lines than they were, everyone thought each other was getting a better salary and everyone grumbled bitterly about their accommodations. 

Sellers it is said took the role of Bond to heart, and was quite annoyed at the decision to make Casino Royale a comedy, as he wanted to play Bond straight. 

It had five directors, three writers (credited, though it is said legions would work on it) and five producers. It was constantly being rewritten and reshot. The studio never like what they saw in the dailies and demanded constant changes. 

Despite all of that and the critics wanting to drive a stake through its heart, it made forty-seven million against a budget of twelve million, twice what the studio originally budgeted. Time has been kind to it — current critics like it a lot better. 

The success of the film in part was attributed to a marketing strategy that featured a naked tattooed woman on the film’s posters and print ads. You can see that poster below. I personally think calling her naked is really, ready a stretch, isn’t it? 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 19, 1887 Boris Karloff. Where do I start? Well, consider the Thirties. He portrayed Frankenstein’s monster in FrankensteinBride of Frankenstein and Son of Frankenstein, and Imhotep in The Mummy. And he played a great pulp character in Dr. Fu Manchu in The Mask of Fu Manchu too! Now let’s jump forward to the Sixties and the matter of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! which featured him as both the voice of The Grinch and the narrator of the story. I know I’ve skipped four decades — that means not a word about such as Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde where he was the latter. (Died 1969.)
  • Born November 19, 1914 Wilson Tucker. Author and very well-known member of fandom. I’m going to just direct you here to “A Century of Tucker”  by Mike as I couldn’t say anything about him that was this good. (Died 2006.)
  • Born November 19, 1916 Michael Gough. Best known for his roles in the Hammer Horror Films from the late Fifities and for his recurring role as Alfred Pennyworth in all four films of the Tim Burton / Joel Schumacher Batman series. His Hammer Horror Films saw him cast usually as the evil, and I mean EVIL! not to mention SLIMY, villain in such films as Horrors of the Black MuseumThe Phantom of the OperaThe Corpse and Horror Hospital, not to overlook Satan’s Slave. Speaking of Doctor Who, Gough appeared there, as the villain in “The Celestial Toymaker” (1966) and then again as Councilor Hedin in “Arc of Infinity” (1983). He also played Dr. Armstrong in “The Cybernauts” in The Avengers (1965) returning the very next season as the Russian spymaster Nutski in “The Correct Way to Kill”. Gough worked for Burton again in 1999’s Sleepy Hollow and later voice Elder Gutknecht in Corpse Bride. He would mostly retire that year from performing though he would voice later that Corpse Bride role and the Dodo in Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. (Died 2011.)
  • Born November 19, 1955 Steven Brust, 67. Of Hungarian descendant, something that figures into his fiction which he says is neither fantasy nor SF. He is perhaps best known for his novels about the assassin Vlad Taltos, one of a scorned group of humans living on a world called Dragaera. All are great reads. His recent novels also include The Incrementalists and its sequel The Skill of Our Hands, with co-author Skyler White. Both are superb. His finest novel? Brokedown Palace. Oh, just go read it. It’s amazing. And no, I don’t love everything he’s done. I wrote a scathing reviewing of Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille and he told us at Green Man that he might be the only person who liked the novel. Freedom & Necessity with Emma Bull is decidedly different but good none the less and his Firefly novel, My Own Kind of Freedom, is stays true to that series. He’s quite the musician too with two albums with Cats Laughing, a band that includes Emma Bull, Jane Yolen (lyrics) and others. The band in turn shows up in Marvel comics. A Rose For Iconoclastes is his solo album and “The title, for those who don’t know, is a play off the brilliant story by Roger Zelazny, “A Rose For Ecclesiastes,” which you should read if you haven’t yet.” Quoting him again, “’Songs From The Gypsy’ is the recording of a cycle of songs I wrote with ex-Boiled-in-Lead guitarist Adam Stemple, which cycle turned into a novel I wrote with Megan Lindholm, one of my favorite writers.” The album and book are quite amazing! And yes, he is on my chocolate gifting list. He’s another dark chocolate lover. 
  • Born November 19, 1967 Salli Richardson-Whitfield, 55. Best known genre role is as Dr. Allison Blake on Eureka which can be seen on Peacock as can Warehouse 13. I’m reasonably sure her first genre role was as Fenna / Nidell in the “Second Sight” of Deep Space Nine but she charmingly voiced Eliza Mazda, the main human character, on the Gargoyles series!  She shows up as the character named Dray’auc in “Bloodlines” on Stargate Sg-1 and had a role on a series called Secret Agent Man that may or may have existed. She was Maggie Baptiste in Stitchers, a series that lasted longer than I expected it would. 
  • Born November 19, 1970 Oded Fehr, 52. Actor from Israel whose most well-known genre roles are as the mysterious warrior Ardeth Bay in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, and as Carlos Oliveira (or his clone) in three of the Resident Evil films: ApocalypseExtinction, and Retribution. (His Mummy roles no doubt led to his casting in voice roles in Scooby-Doo in Where’s My Mummy? and as The Living Mummy in the animated Ultimate Spider-Man and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.) On Charmed, he played the demon Zankou, the main villain of the show’s seventh season. He’s had an impressively long list of appearances on TV series, including recurring roles on Once Upon A Time, StitchersV, and The First, a series about the first mission to Mars. He has also voiced characters on numerous other animated features and series. He appeared in the third season of Star Trek: Discovery as Fleet Admiral Charles Vance.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld did a cartoon about the great Twitter exodus for the Guardian.

(9) GUNN Q&A. Deadline profiles “James Gunn On Leaving Marvel, DC Plans, & ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special’”.

James Gunn revealed on Twitter today in response to a fan’s question that he and new DC Studios co-head Peter Safran are planning to reveal their new DC plan to the Warner Discovery team in the next two months.

“Yes, that is true (revealing it to the WBD team)” wrote Gunn on Twitter.

Safran and Gunn were appointed the heads of DC Studios, a separate silo that Warner Discovery Boss David Zaslav wanted under the studio’s motion picture umbrella, on Oct. 25. Gunn going forward remains exclusive to WarnerDiscovery and can’t do any Marvel projects, his last ones for the Disney studio being The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special which drops on Black Friday, Nov. 25, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3 which hits theaters on May 5, 2023.

When asked by Deadline recently how he felt about leaving the Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy sandbox behind for DC, Gunn responded “I feel really comfortable. I feel really good. We did this. I think this is a bit of goofy fun that the Guardians needed as an aperitif for Volume 3, which is an enormous film. I had a plan from the beginning.”

“The reason why I needed to finish this is because I love the character of Rocket more than any character I’ve ever dealt with before, and I needed to finish his story and that is what Volume 3 is about. I absolutely needed to do it, and I think we’ve done it in a spectacular way that I can’t wait for people to see.”

(10) PEEKING DISCOURAGED. The owner of the subject Area 51 website/blog currently has their tail in a wringer: “Air Force, FBI raid Nevada homes in probe of Area 51 website” reports Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Agents from the U.S. Air Force and FBI recently raided homes in Clark and Lincoln counties in an investigation of a man who operates a website about the top-secret military base known as Area 51, a spokesman confirmed Wednesday.

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations and FBI entered homes owned by Joerg Arnu in Las Vegas and the tiny town of Rachel on Nov. 3 and seized potential evidence for an undisclosed joint agency probe, according to Lt. Col. Bryon McGarry, spokesman for Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.

“This is an open and ongoing law enforcement investigation between the Las Vegas FBI and Air Force OSI,” McGarry said in a statement.

He declined to elaborate on the basis for the investigation, but Arnu, of Las Vegas, is the webmaster of a site titled Dreamland Resort, focusing on Area 51, an Air Force base in Lincoln County about 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas where testing is conducted on new and classified U.S. military aircraft.

Dreamland Resort, at dreamlandresort.com, started by Arnu in 1999, features YouTube videos taken from drones flown over places around Area 51, satellite images of the base, a discussion forum with posts on the topic, articles on test flights, “black projects” and UFOs, and what it says are photos of new vehicles such as the so-called “super secret” Northrop Grumman RQ-180 unmanned stealth aircraft shown flying in 2021.

Arnu, reached by email Wednesday, declined comment until he can speak to his attorney. But he forwarded a news release posted on his web page last week telling his side of the story….

As an example of what you find at Dreamland Resort, this 2006 post is old but might be news to you, about an innovative aircraft named for a spaceship from Star Trek: “Bird of Prey – An Innovative Technology Demonstration”.

(11) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. The Onion informs us “Facebook HQ On Lockdown After Mark Zuckerberg’s Avatar Breaks Out Of Metaverse”.

Amid grim reports that several engineers working in the virtual reality server room had been violently dismembered, Facebook’s headquarters were on lockdown Friday after Mark Zuckerberg’s avatar reportedly broke out of the metaverse….

(12) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. “Space Cowboy Books Presents: Simultaneous Times podcast Ep.57 – Jeff C. Carter & Noah Lloyd”.

Stories featured in this episode:
Hive Songs – by Jeff C. Carter (with music by Phog Masheeen)
In September – Noah Lloyd (with music by Johnny O’Donnell)

(13) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. [Compiled by John King Tarpinian.] L. Frank Baum and his wife purchased a lot one block in Hollywood north of Hollywood Boulevard on the corner of Cherokee and Yucca, which today is the block behind the restaurant Musso & Frank’s. There in 1910 they built Ozcot, a two-story frame home featuring a large library, an attic where Baum stored his manuscripts and props from various plays, and a solarium. The dining room is described as having “light fixtures of cut copper sheets and thick pieces of emerald glass” casting “intricate patterns of green light” in the evenings – his own personal emerald city.

Ozcot

Ozcot’s grounds were as impressive as the house. A large Aviary housed a collection of exotic birds, and a chicken yard was home to a flock of Rhode Island Reds. Baum spent hours in his garden, where the southern California climate allowed him to grow numerous blooms, especially dahlias and chrysanthemums. A goldfish pond was also located in the garden. 

Baum felt right at home in Hollywood – he won many awards for his flowers at the Hollywood Woman’s Club shows and was a member of the Los Angeles Athletic Club’s exclusive Uplifters. He also spent the last nine years of his life writing children’s books under six different pen names and he founded the ambitious but ultimately unsuccessful Oz Film Manufacturing Company.

L. Frank Baum passed away at Ozcot in 1919. His widow Maud lived long enough to witness the success of The Wizard of Oz, which premiered at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, just down the street from Ozcot.

Ozcot was demolished in 1953 and today a plain two-story apartment stands, and is slated to be demolished for a larger complex. There is nothing about the site that would suggest its association with one of America’s most beloved writers.

The story continues that after he passed away his widow started to burn his papers, since his books were already on the book shelf.  A nephew came over one day and stopped her.   Back in those days it was not uncommon for a house to have an incinerator in the backyard to burn your garbage.  My parents’ home had one.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Danny Sichel, Jeffrey Jones, Rob Jackson, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

Pixel Scroll 10/15/22 Scrolls Are The Lycantropic Form Of Pixels

(1) AND YOU ARE THERE. Eleven years ago today at Capclave this happened – “Terry Pratchett Capclave Interview”.

(2) GET OUT OF YOUR OWN HEAD. Lincoln Michel advises writers how to balance “Understanding the Reader Without Pandering to the Reader” at Counter Craft. A brief excerpt:

…Here are some specific areas that often stand out to me along these lines:

Repetition:

Unless your book becomes part of some rabid geek fanbase or a English lit staple, few if any readers are going to read your stories with the Talmudic scrutiny you write and revise them. Readers are distracted. We read a story on a loud, crowded subway. We put a novel down midchapter and don’t get back to it for weeks. We read a chapter sleepily late at night. We miss things. What writers fear is beating their reader over the head is often doing the bare minimum to tap them on the shoulder.

This is a lesson even famous and award-winning authors can forget. I remember hearing a favorite writer give a craft talk and mention how in their first draft of a novel they had a line from chapter 1 repeated near the end of the book. “Aha, everyone will snap their fingers at the connection and realize the true identify of this character!” they thought. But then their editor, they said, quite rightly pointing out no one was going to remember that line 250 pages later. The novel needed to repeat that line four, five, or more times spaced out across the text for the reader to notice.

(3) THE HEAT DEATH OF THE INTERNET. Yeah, like that’s going to happen. But is the culture changing? “Has the Internet Reached Peak Clickability?” asks Ted Gioia.

… But it’s quite plausible that the Internet is losing its coolness and its clickbait appeal. It definitely feels stale and formulaic, more so with each passing month, and I’m not the only person who thinks so. If you dig into the numbers, you find that engagement on the largest platforms is falling—and not in a small way (as Sinatra might say).

The numbers don’t lie, and Kriss serves them up here—summarizing the bad news for clicks and swipes…

… But the metrics now tell a different story.

I shouldn’t be surprised by all this. My own experience at Substack has made me acutely aware of the longform renaissance. When I launched on this platform, I definitely planned to write those long articles that newspaper editors hate—Substack would be my moment of luxurious freedom! Even so, I assumed that my shorter articles would be more popular. I guess I’d drunk the Kool-Aid too, accepting the prevailing narrative that readers want it short and sweet, so they can read it complete in the time it takes the Piano Man to play a request.

Yet my Substack internal metrics reveal the exact opposite of what I expected. The readers here prefer in-depth articles. Who would’ve guessed? For someone like me, it’s almost too good to be true. It’s like some positive karma in the universe is reinforcing my own better instincts.

But the real reason is that the market for clickbait is saturated, and longform feels fresher, more vital, more rewarding….

(4) LOWREY COMMENCES TAFF REPORT. “Orange Mike” Lowrey reports the 2020 TAFF race status is now “Trip report in progress”. 

The first installment of A Visible Fan Abroad: A TAFF Journal of the Plague Years, “Chapter the First: The Trip That Never Was” appears on pages 22-23 of Nic Farey and Ulrika O’Brien’s Beam 17.

When they make it available online, readers will find it at eFanzines.com.

(5) SFF IN NYT. Amal El-Mohtar reviews Babel, The Anchored World, and Self-Portrait with Nothing in “The Magic of Translation” at the New York Times.

The word “translation” connotes movement: carrying meaning from one language to another, or shifting bodies from one place — or one context — to another, all while recognizing that moving entails loss and change. These books dwell in that potent space between setting out and arriving….

(6) MUSK TO THE FUTURE. NPR’s “It’s Been A Minute” contends “Elon Musk’s bid to buy Twitter and defend free speech is part of his mythmaking”.

The saga around Elon Musk’s deal to buy Twitter has been just that: a months-long soap opera involving lawsuits and subpoenas, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, even a town hall. But why does Musk — one of the world’s richest and arguably most influential men — want a social media platform?

It’s Been a Minute host Brittany Luse puts the question to Jill Lepore, political historian and host of The Evening Rocket, a podcast about Musk. Lepore says that the idea of being a savior of free speech would appeal to Musk, who has built around himself a mythology inspired by what she sees as a misinterpretation of mid-twentieth century science fiction.

Lepore discusses how Musk crafted a powerful narrative that millions around the world have bought into; how he draws from science fiction and film; and why we need to be more critical of billionaire visionaries….

(7) ONLINE CLUB MEETING. The Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club will take up “Lock In by John Scalzi” on November 29, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Register at the link.

Science fiction can have real policy impacts, and comes rife with real-life commentary. For the next gathering of our Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club, we have selected Lock In by John Scalzi.

The detective novel imagines a world in which a pandemic left 5 million people in the U.S. alone with lock in syndrome: fully conscious but unable to move. Twenty-five years later, enormous scientific and technological investment has created a way for those living with “Haden’s syndrome” to take part in daily life. While they remain in their beds, robotic avatars let them take classes, interact with their families, and work—including as FBI agents. Chris is a rookie FBI agent assigned to work a case that seems to involve the world of Haden’s syndrome, and he and his partner must figure out exactly what’s going on. Lock In is a fascinating tale that raises questions about the “real” world, accessibility and disability, public-health funding, and much more.

Join Future Tense and Issues in Science and Technology at 6pm Eastern on Tuesday, Nov. 29, to discuss the novel and its real-world implications. The book club will feature breakout rooms (they’re fun and stress-free, we promise) where we can all compare notes and share reactions, even if we didn’t finish the book (though we picked a short one this time!).

(8) FRANK DRAKE (1930-2022). Radio astronomer and astrophysicist Frank Drake died September 2. He was a pioneer of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, carrying out the first search for signals from extraterrestrial civilisations, Project Ozma, in 1960. He is the inventor of the “Drake equation” used to estimate the number of extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy. The Guardian obituary notes:

…As a radio astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, he made the first observations of Jupiter’s radiation belts, analogous to the Van Allen belts around the Earth, and was one of the first astronomers to measure the intense surface temperature on Venus, a consequence of the greenhouse effect of its thick atmosphere. But it is for Project Ozma, named after Princess Ozma in L Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz books and carried out with Green Bank’s 85ft radio telescope, that he will be remembered.

For three months Drake observed the sun-like stars Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani for radio signals that might be from planets with extraterrestrial civilisations. None were found, but as Drake recalled in a 2012 interview: “It was a start – and it did stimulate a lot of other people to start searching.”….

(9) MICHAEL CALLAN (1935-2022). Actor Michael Callan died October 10. Best known for his roles in Cat Ballou and West Side Story, his genre resume included the film The Mysterious Island, and television’s The Bionic Woman, Fantasy IslandKnight Rider, and Superboy.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1928 [By Cat Eldridge.] The Passing of Mr. Quin (1928)

We have a special treat for you this Scroll, a silent film first shown in the UK ninety-four years ago. The Passing of Mr. Quin was based off a short story by Agatha Christie. Though it did not feature Hercule Poirot, as that film debut wouldn’t happen for another three years.

It is a rather odd story. To wit, Professor Appleby has abused his wife, Eleanor, for years but when he is brutally murdered and her lover, Derek, goes missing under mysterious circumstances, Eleanor suspects the worst as she indeed should. 

A mysterious stranger, known mostly as “Mr Quin” appears, and begins to seduce her, but his alcoholism causes him to die quite soon. On his death bed, he confesses that he was Derek all along, and offers her to a rival, who promises to make Eleanor a happy wife.

Not cheerful at all and with just more than a soupçon of misogyny there as well but I don’t think it had any of the anti-Jewish tendencies Christie was known for early on. Need I say that the scriptwriters had their way with Christie’s original story? Well they did. 

This silent film was directed by Leslie Alibi. Three years later he directed the first ever depiction of Poirot with Austin Trevor in the lead role. That was not a silent film and Trevor once claimed he was cast as Poirot because he could speak with a French accent. The Poirot film unfortunately is now lost. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 15, 1911 James H. Schmitz. Writer of short fiction in a space opera setting, sold primarily to Galaxy Science Fiction and Astounding Science-Fiction. His “Lion Loose” was nominated for a Short Fiction Hugo at Chicon III, and The Witches of Karres was nominated for Best Novel at NyCon 3. Sources laud him for his intelligent female characters. His collections and novels are available at the usual suspects. (Died 1981.)
  • Born October 15, 1919 E.C. Tubb. A writer of at least one hundred forty novels and two hundred twenty short stories and novellas, he’s best remembered I think for the Dumarest Saga. His other long-running series was the Cap Kennedy stories. And his short story “Little Girl Lost” which was originally published in New Worlds magazine became a story on Night Gallery. He novelized a number of the Space: 1999 episodes. Somewhat surprisingly he’s never been nominated for or won any awards. (Died 2010.)
  • Born October 15, 1924 Mark Lenard. Sarek, the father of Spock in the Trek franchise, showing up in that role in “Journey to Babel”.  (The role got reprised in the animated series, as well as three films and two episodes of The Next Generation.) Surprisingly he played Romulan Commander in “Balance of Terror,” in the first season, and a Klingon Captain in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He also had one-offs on Mission ImpossibleWild Wild WestOtherworld, The Secret EmpireThe Incredible Hulk, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He had a recurring role on the Planet of The Apes as Urko. (Died 1996.)
  • Born October 15, 1935 Ray “Duggie” Fisher. Editor, Conrunner and Fan, who chaired the 1969 Worldcon in St. Louis, was on the committee for several other conventions, and was a founding member of the Poplar Bluff Science Fiction Club and the Ozark Science Fiction Association. His fanzine ODD was a finalist for a Best Fanzine Hugo. His contributions to fandom were, sadly, cut short by his death at age 52 due to complications of diabetes. (Died 1988.) [JJ]
  • Born October 15, 1942 Lon Atkins. Editor, Conrunner, and Fan who chaired a DeepSouthCon and was editor of numerous fanzines and apazines, including eight years as co-editor of Rally! He was Fan Guest of Honor at a Westercon, and a recipient of Southern Fandom’s Rebel lifetime achievement award. He was also a ferocious Hearts player. (Died 2016.) [JJ]
  • Born October 15, 1953 Walter Jon Williams, 69. The last thing I read by him was his most excellent Dagmar Shaw series which I highly recommend, but Fleet Elements is on my TBR list.  I also like his Metropolitan novels, be they SF or fantasy, as well as his Hardwired series. I’m surprised how few awards that he’s won, just three with two being Nebulas, both for shorter works, “Daddy’s World” and “The Green Leopard Plaque”, plus a Sidewise Award for “Foreign Devils”.  Damn it, where is his Hugo? 
  • Born October 15, 1954 Linnea Sinclair, 68. Merging romance, SF and paranormal into, well, damned if I know. She’s here sole because I’m really tickled by the use of her SJW credentials as told here: Games of Command and the short story “Of Cats, Uh, Furzels and Kings” feature telepathic feline creatures called ‘Furzels’. Sinclair has stated that these are inspired by her two cats. 
  • Born October 15, 1968 Jack du Brul, 54. A writer of somewhat SF novels that EoSF says of “the Philip Mercer sequence featuring a geologist who – not entirely unlike Steven Spielberg’s similarly scholarly Indiana Jones – has physical gifts extending beyond the probable.” He also co-wrote, and continued after Clive Cusler passed on, The Oregon Files.

(12) THE DOUBLE-OH GENERATION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri says that she is worried that the new James Bond might be a Millennial. “What the millennial James Bond might look like”. “Do you expect me to talk?”  “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to text!” She’s got a million of them.

(13) RAMBLING MAN. John Meaney’s post “What I Did On My Holiday” shows that he kept up his impressive workout regimen even while vacationing in “places like Lindisfarne (think Vikings) and Whitby Abbey (think Dracula) and the Western Highlands of Scotland.” He also snapped a memorable photo.

…The Caledonian Canal features a long series of locks called Neptune’s Staircase, and I did take photos of the canal itself, but was struck by this piece of useful advice, which we should always bear in mind every day….

(14) DUNGEON ACOUSTICS. “’D&D’ Goes ‘DIY’ On Kill Rock Stars’ Latest Compilation” reports Bandcamp Daily.

What does Dungeons & Dragons sound like?

That’s the fundamental question at the heart of SPELLJAMS, a new compilation album curated and produced by Chris Funk. The Decemberists guitarist wasn’t tasked with soundtracking just any old D&D campaign: SPELLJAMS is a companion piece to the newly rebooted Spelljammer setting, an outer-space-set oddity that’s become a cult favorite since its introduction in 1989. Spelljammer is a bit of an outlier within the broader D&D lore, which made it ripe for the kind of freewheeling, adventurous track listing Funk assembled for the album.

(15) LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DODGING. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Lucy, a spacecraft designed to visit Jupiter’s Trojan astroids, will swing past Earth for a gravity assist on Sunday. To get the proper oomph from the assist, it will have to come so close to Earth that it will be inside the orbit of many Low-Earth-Orbit satellites (including the International Space Station).

Cognizant of the possibility of a collision between Lucy and a LEO satellite, NASA has pre-prepared two orbit changes to stagger Lucy’s closest approach just a little bit. Or, if needed, a little bit more than that. They’re waiting as long as they can to calculate orbital positions for everything and make that decision, because the longer they wait the more accurate the predictions will be.

With luck, observers in parts of Australia or the western US may be able to see Lucy glinting like a diamond before it ducks into or after it comes out of Earth’s shadow, respectively. If you miss this chance you’ll get another opportunity two years hence when Lucy swings by for another orbital assist. “NASA on Collision Alert for Close Flyby of Lucy Spacecraft”. Gizmodo says the Space Force has been scrambled!

…The collision assessment team will send Lucy’s position to the Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron, which monitors objects in low Earth orbit. The team is prepared to perform swerving maneuvers if Lucy has more than a 1 in 10,000 chance of colliding with another object. “With such a high value mission, you really need to make sure that you have the capability, in case it’s a bad day, to get out of the way,” Highsmith said….

(16) WAITING IN A BREAD LINE. “Meet Pan Solo, a California bakery’s 6-foot bread sculpture of Han Solo frozen in carbonite”.

…The edible replica, which was painstakingly modeled out of dough to resemble Harrison Ford‘s captured character in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back and 1983’s Return of the Jedi, has been on display outside the family bakery in Benicia, Calif., since Sunday. He is accompanied by a chalkboard that adorably proclaims, “Our hero Pan Solo has been trapped in Levainite by the evil Java the Hut.”…

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In this 2021 clip, Alasdair Beckett-King explains that even in the olden times, pepole couldn’t remember their passwords!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael J. Walsh, Rob Thornton, JeffWarner, Todd Mason, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Pixel Scroll 10/1/22 Scroll Me Once, I Am The Pixel, Scroll Me Twice, I Am The File

(1) RED WOMBAT SIGNS SUNDAY AT CAPCLAVE. The Ursula Vernon autograph session specifically for kids at Capclave will be on Sunday, October 2 at 1:00 p.m. Capclave is at the Rockvillle Hilton, 1750 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD. Children who are coming just for the book signing session and their parent-in-tow get in free. www.capclave.org

(2) WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS? Erik Braa’s Storytime Braacast has one of Todd Mason’s short stories, “The Ghost Bar”, on this week. Todd tells where the idea came from:

The germ of the story got into my head in Chicago a few trips ago.  I’d moved away from Chicago in the spring of ’11. During one of my visits to house sit for a friend… probably in ’17 or ’18, I was making the rounds and was startled by the reappearance of a pub I used to frequent. The place was supposed to have been rebuilt with condos above it, the project stalled out, and it just sat empty for several years.

I went inside and got hit with some serious cognitive dissonance.  The place looked *mostly* the same. Except the bar seemed to be longer and the bathroom was not where it was supposed to be. Sort of the uncanny valley effect, but with a building.

Turns out the new bartender had a few people in common with me and I got the full story about the place eventually getting remodelled. But after I got over the whole “OK… I’m not imagining things am I,” the idea of a bar rising from the dead got into my head and… eventually this story popped out.

(3) WHERE ENOUGH NONSENSE ADDS UP TO A DOLLAR. This Folding Ideas video is about a publishing scam that operates by scamming people into doing a publishing scam. The publishing scam itself is using underpaid ghostwriters and voice actors to produce audiobooks about nonsense (trending topics smooshed together) cheaply, with all the accompanying review trading and so on to get the audiobook noticed. The scam is getting people to pay for “advice” on how to do the publishing scam! “Contrepreneurs: The Mikkelsen Twins”.

(4) HAPPY THIRTIETH! Mike Allen has posted a four part interview in which he reflects on 30 years as a writer, editor and publisher. The questions were asked by Mythic Delirium Assistant Editor Sydney Macias. In addition, authors Cassandra Khaw, C.S.E. Cooney and Carlos Hernandez used the AI Midjourney to create 20+ images based on the creatures and monsters from Allen’s short stories, and those are interspersed through the interview. The links to all four parts are here on Mike Allen’s Home Page.

… I think back on the version of me that existed in 1990, 91, 92, meandering toward the end of my days as an undergraduate, starting to get somewhat serious about submitting stories and poems to magazines, and the preconceptions I had then about how writing worked, how publishing worked, how readers chose what they want to read, and I can’t help but think that every single one of those preconceptions has proven wrong in some way.

That’s not so surprising. In those pre-household internet, pre-social media days, growing up in Appalachia, I didn’t meet anyone who shared my particular set of interests in significant numbers until late high school and college, and even then my specific set of eccentricities made me the square peg — though I note with tongue-in-cheek that I was more like a multi-pointed star of some sort, really, when it came to fitting in. Certainly I had no one to compare notes to when it came to getting published….

Inspired by the “button people” from “The Button Bin” and “The Quiltmaker”

Inspired by “The Spider Tapestries”

(5) GET ON THE CALENDAR. Cat Eldridge says, “Anyone who has Anniversary or Birthday ideas should just email me here. And anyone who thinks they should be written up is included in that list. We are certainly interested in including Filers among the Birthdays covered here.”

(6) ROCKET COLLECTOR. Editor Neil Clarke has a wonderful piece about Clarkesworld’s amazing run at the 2022 Hugo Awards ceremony: “Editor’s Desk: Sweet Sixteen”.

…There were two more firsts for Clarkesworld this year as well: This was the first time we’ve had two winners in a single year and the first time I’ve won in Editor, Short Form. The idea that this could happen wasn’t even a possibility in my head. Not that I didn’t have faith in Suzanne . . . After nine consecutive losses, I had convinced myself that it wasn’t in the cards for me and I was completely fine with that. It was probably the most relaxed I’ve ever been at a Hugo Awards ceremony. So much so that a friend and fellow finalist mocked me for being too laid-back.

So, it turns out I was wrong. Very wrong….

(7) VAMPIRE RULES. Do you know all of them? The blood you save may be your own. “Vampire weaknesses, powers, and rules: What are the best and the weirdest?” at SYFY Wire.

Vampires are perhaps the most iconic monsters lurking in the night. Luckily, with that level of fame, the average person has a pretty good idea of what to do if they ever find themselves facing off against a bloodsucker. A stake through the heart will kill them. Silver is bad, too. A crucifix is a good defense against a vampire except for when it isn’t. Sunlight will burn a vampire… unless it just makes them sparkle?

Wait a second…

Yes, it turns out that not all vampires in pop culture operate by the same rules. SYFY’s new series Reginald the Vampire, starring Spider-Man: Now Way Home’s Jacob Batalon, is the latest vampire title to grace the screen. Luckily, Reginald’s vampire rules are, for the most part, pretty standard. (Although Reginald’s vampires, except for the title character, are pretty snobby!)…

(8) HE’LL BE BACK. Shortly before rapper Coolio died, he was in the studio voicing a Futurama character. As a result, fans will be able to hear him when the show airs its next season: “Coolio Returning for New Season of ‘Futurama’ as Kwanzaa-bot” on TMZ.com.

“Futurama” fans will still be able to hear Coolio featured on their favorite show — the late rapper recorded segments for the animated series before his death — giving show creatives a chance to give Coolio, and his character, a proper send-off.

David X. Cohen, Executive Producer of “Futurama,” tells TMZ he was shocked to hear about Coolio’s passing, especially because he recorded lines for their upcoming season just weeks before.

For those unaware, Coolio’s appeared in a few episodes of the show in the past, playing Kwanzaa Bot — a counterpart to Chanukah Zombie and Santa Claus Robot. His first appearance was way back in 2001….

(9) DREW FORD R.I.P. Drew Ford, founder of It’s Alive Press, which he dedicated to bringing back out-of-print genre classics like Roachmill, Aztec AceFish Police, and the graphic novel version of The Silver Metal Lover, has died of COVID-related pneumonia. “Drew Ford, Founder of It’s Alive Press, Has Died From Coronavirus” reports Bleeding Cool.

(10) MEMORY LANE.  

1954 [By Cat Eldridge.] The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning. Then the soul erosion produced by high gambling – a compost of greed and fear and nervous tension – becomes unbearable and the senses awake and revolt from it. — Opening lines of Casino Royale

This was the month that sixty-eight years ago saw the first television adaptation of Fleming’s Casino Royale. An episode of the American Climax! anthology series, the show was the first screen adaptation of a James Bond novel. 

Purists beware that this wasn’t the Bond of Fleming’s novels, although this marks the first onscreen appearance of the secret agent. Actor Barry Nelson’s Bond is played as an American spy working for the Combined Intelligence Agency. 

It aired on October 21, 1954 in the first season of Climax!, the third episode of that still new series. Now keep in mind that the novel was adapted into a fifty-minute episode, but Fleming’s Bond novels were relatively short, this one clocked in at just over two hundred pages. It keeps damn every line of the violence in the novel but removes quite a bit of the nuances of that novel. 

It had a small cast of which the only others worth mentioning are Peter Lorre who played Le Chiffre, and Linda Christian as the first video depiction of a Bond girl. Curiously the CIA agent, Felix Leiter, became Clarence Leiter.

The original version done in color was lost but film historians found, with quite some difficulty, the black and white prints. The rights to the original were acquired by MGM at the same time as the rights for the 1967 film version, clearing the legal entanglements and allowing it to make the 2006 film of the same name. Several versions have since been shown.

A last note: almost to the last reviewer they agree that this was the Worst ever casting of a Bond ever. One said that he “trips over his lines and lacks the elegance needed for the role”. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 1, 1914 Donald Wollheim. Founding member of the Futurians, Wollheim organized what was later deemed the first American science fiction convention, when a group from New York met with a group from Philadelphia on October 22, 1936 in Philadelphia. As an editor, he published Le Guin’s first two novels as halves of Ace Doubles. His work at DAW got a special award from the folks at World Fantasy.  (Died 1990.)
  • Born October 1, 1935 Dame Julie Andrews, DBE, 87. Mary Poppins! I could stop there but I won’t. (Hee.) She had a scene cut in which she was a maid in The Return of the Pink Panther, and she’s uncredited as the singing voice of Ainsley Jarvis in The Pink Panther Strikes Again. Yet again she’s uncredited in a Panther film, this time as chairwoman in Trail of the Pink Panther. She voices Queen Lillian in Sherk 2Shrek the Third and Shrek Forever After. And she’s the voice of Karathen in Aquaman.
  • Born October 1, 1940 Richard Harris. One of the Dumbledores in the Potter film franchise. He also played King Arthur in Camelot, Richard the Lion Hearted in Robin and Marian, Gulliver in Gulliver’s Travels, James Parker in Tarzan, the Ape Man and he voiced Opal in Kaena: The Prophecy. His acting in Tarzan, the Ape Man him a nominee for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor. Anyone seen that film? I’ve not. (Died 2002.)
  • Born October 1, 1943 Sharon Jarvis. Did I ever tell you that aliases give me a mild headache? Well, they do. She did a splendid trilogy of somewhat erotic planetary adventures called These Lawless Worlds that Ellen Kozak co-wrote. She wrote two more series, charitably called pulp, one as Johanna Hailey and another as Kathleen Buckley. Now more interestingly to me, she was an editor in the early day, seventies and eighties. I’m going to quote at length from her website: “Sharon Jarvis has worked in the print media for more than twenty-five years for newspaper, magazine and in publishing companies. She has built a reputation for her market-wise expertise in the cutthroat world of publishing. Ms. Jarvis has been a sought-after editor from her days at Ballantine where she helped promote the billion-dollar science fiction boom. At Doubleday she was the acquisitions editor and worked with some of the biggest names in science fiction, including Isaac Asimov, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Harlan Ellison. At Playboy Press, Ms. Jarvis developed, instituted and promoted the science fiction line which helped sustain the publisher through many a setback in other general lines.”
  • Born October 1, 1944 Rick Katze, 78. A Boston fan and member of NESFA and MCFI. He’s chaired three Boskones, and worked many Worldcons. Quoting Fancyclopedia 3: “A lawyer professionally, he was counsel to the Connie Bailout Committee and negotiated the purchase of Connie’s unpaid non-fannish debt at about sixty cents on the dollar.” He’s an active editor for the NESFA Press, including the six-volume most stellar Best of Poul Anderson series.
  • Born October 1, 1947 Tom Clancy. ISFDB only lists Red Storm Rising as a true genre novel.  I’ve not read anything so I’ve not a clue if it is or is not genre, but EOFSF says of that novel that it “is a standalone Technothriller that can now be read as Alternate History.” Of the rest of his series, they say that “None of these sequences edges close enough to genuine speculation to list here.” (Died 2013.)
  • Born October 1, 1958 Michelle Bauer, 64. Actress, model, and scream queen. Really she is. Setting aside a lot of films that OGH prefer I not talk about (though she had a double for the sex scenes), she did star such films The Tomb, a supernatural horror film which had John Carradine in it. It was very loosely based on Bram Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars
  • Born October 1, 1989 Brie Larson, 33. Captain Marvel in the Marvel film universe. She’s also been in Kong: Skull Island as Mason Weaver, and plays Kit in the Unicorn Store which she also directed and produced. Her first genre role was Rachael in the “Into the Fire” of Touched by an Angel series; she also appeared as Krista Eisenburg in the “Slam” episode of Ghost Whisperer. She’s in The Marvels, scheduled tentatively to be out next year.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld on the bank robbers negotiating their book deal, in the Guardian.

(13) MAUS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behinds a paywall, books columnist Nilanjana Roy discusses Art Spiegelman’s Maus.

I remember my first encounter with Maus back in 1993.  I was encouraged to buy the two books by Mirza Asad Baig, founder of the Midland Book Shop in Delhi. ‘Don’t listen to literary snobs who won’t read comic books,’ he said. ‘Trust me, this author has written a tremendous tale.  If you disagree, you can exchange it.’  I never did…

…I hope critics of Maus take to heart what Spiegelman said in 1987 when discussing his sometimes exasperating father.  The author did not want to have written a book whose ultimate moral might have been that if you lead a virtuous, exemplary life, you would survive something like the Holocaust.  ‘That’s not the point,’ he said.  The point is that everyone should have survived the Holocaust.  There should never have been a Holocaust.’…

(14) OPEN THE DOORS. This trailer for Guillermo del Toro’s new project dropped: Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Alasdair Beckett-King dissects “Every Episode of Popular Time Travel Show”. This is from 2021.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/3/22 Oh No, Not I, I Will Be Five; But As Long As I Know How To Read, I Know I’ll Stay Alive

(1) MARCHING WITH SHERMAN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to this podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with songwriter Richard Sherman, which they did in 2016 but recently reposted because Richard Sherman turned 92. Maltin on Movies: “Revisiting Richard Sherman”.

Leonard Maltin knows a lot about all aspects of cinema but what he really knows a great deal about is the history of animation and Disney films.  Much of this podcast is devoted to the idea that Walt Disney really was as nice as he presented himself on Sunday nights on “The Wonderful World of Disney.”  Sherman says Disney liked being called “Walt” and if he liked an idea said, “That’ll work!”  He also said that P.L. Travers, author of the Mary Poppins novels, was as fiercely protective of her intellectual property as portrayed in Saving Mr. Banks, and he has 16 hours of tapes with Travers to prove it.  She insisted the tapes be made as a record of her conversations.

Most of the conversation here is about Mary Poppins, which earned Sherman and his brother Robert Sherman two Oscars.  He only briefly mentions Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang, which had songs by Sherman and his brother and was in effect the James Bond people trying to do a Disney musical.  He does mention that he was working on an album containing songs for two unmade fantasy films:  Sir Puss-N-Boots and The 13 Clocks, based on the James Thurber novel.  These songs were released in 2016 by castalbums.org.

Fun fact: Voice actor Paul Winchell not only voiced Tigger, but also invented an artificial heart valve.

Disney fans will enjoy this hour.

(2) THE STRANGER THINGS EXPERIENCE. Delish brags, “We Tried All The Food At Stranger Things: The Experience”.

We’re beyond excited for part 2 of Stranger Things season 4. To get into the spirit, Team Delish traveled to the new Stranger Things: The Experience in Brooklyn. With locations in New York, San Francisco, and London, the hour-long immersive adventure transports visitors straight to Hawkins, Indiana.

As much as we loved fighting Demogorgons with Eleven and the gang, our favorite part was obviously the food! Once you finish the experience, you enter Mix-Tape, an ’80s-themed area with some of the show’s iconic locations. Guests can play vintage arcade games, sit in the Byers’ living room, and snack on the character’s favorite treats.

… If you need a drink to wash everything down, head to the Upside Bar for some cocktails inspired by the show. Our favorite is the Demogorgon, which Agbuya describes as “smoky-sweet version of an Old Fashioned with a twist.” The drink is made with bourbon, maple syrup, and Angostura Bitters, but the main attraction is when the bartender uses a flavor blaster gun to blow a giant bubble. Then you puncture it with a stroopwafel and it releases citrus-scented smoke over the drink.

(3) MEDALIST. At The Heinlein Society blog (where “Right click is disabled!”) you can read a “Balticon 56 Report” that’s focused on personally presenting David Gerrold with his Heinlein Award.

(4) AFTER-SCHOOL ACTIVITIES. Bill sends along a clipping of something by Robert A. Heinlein’s second wife, Leslyn.  This was after she had divorced Robert and remarried, but refers to the place they had lived on Lookout Mountain Ave.  It’s from the July 1956 issue of Ladies Home Journal.

(5) THE SMITHSONIAN RECOMMENDS OCTAVIA BUTLER. [Item by Darrah Chavey.] In the June issue of the Smithsonian, in the column “Ask Smithsonian”, a reader asked “Who is a science fiction writer you hold in high esteem?” Their answer:

Octavia Butler was an Afrofuturist author who was born in 1947 and died in 2006. In her “Patternist” novels, published during the 1970s and ’80s, she foresaw many aspects of our current era–climate change, pandemics, ethical questions about genetic engineering, struggles for racial justice–yet she struck a chord of hopefulness, especially for Black and women readers, her body of work, which is featured in Smithsonian’s current FUTURES exhibit, grapples deeply with what it means to be human and inspires us to build a more equitable future, no matter what obstacles lie in the way.”

(6) A LOT ON HIS PLATE. “What Makes Taika Waititi Run and Run and Run?” The New York Times asks, but the subject isn’t sure!

Even when your job is to dream up the interplanetary adventures of a Norse god, you might still want to run off and play pirates.

So during the weeks he was editing “Thor: Love and Thunder,” the Marvel movie that opens on July 8, Taika Waititi, its director and co-writer, would occasionally take weekends off for a different journey.

He would get outfitted in a flowing gray wig, matching facial hair and temporary tattoos, and don deliciously fetishistic leather gear to portray Blackbeard, the swashbuckling, loin-kindling buccaneer of the HBO Max comedy series “Our Flag Means Death.”

This is admittedly not a bad way to spend your spare time, though Waititi did occasionally fret over the trade-offs. As he explained recently, “Sometimes you’re pissed off at life and you’re like, ‘Why did I say yes to everything? I don’t have a social life — I’m just working.’ But then the thing comes out, you see where the hard work goes and it’s really worth it.”

On TV, Waititi, 46, has had a hand in the FX comedies “Reservation Dogs” (as a co-creator) and “What We Do in the Shadows” (a series based on a movie he co-wrote and co-directed), as well as a “Shadows” spinoff, “Wellington Paranormal.” At the movies, you can hear him voice a good guy in “Lightyear” or see him play a bad guy in “Free Guy.”

Waititi is also editing “Next Goal Wins,” a soccer comedy-drama that he co-wrote and directed for Searchlight. He’s writing a new “Star Wars” movie for Lucasfilm, a “Time Bandits” series for Apple TV+. He’s preparing two Roald Dahl projects for Netflix and adapting a graphic novel by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius for a feature film.

(7) HIDDEN BEAUTY. Book Riot probes beneath the surface in its article “Underneath It All: Books Where The Hardcover Has a Clever Design Beneath Its Dust Jacket”.

WHAT MAKES THE BEST DESIGN UNDER THE DUST JACKET?

Let me tell you, YA really shines in this category of book beauty. While many adult hardcovers had wonderful color combinations, I was looking for them to have a design under the dust jacket that stood out. The science fiction and fantasy section did a bit better with their designs under the dust jacket, but proportionally, did not hold a candle to the sheer number of books in YA with interesting reveals. I wanted to cast a broad net and hoped to reel in a fine set of books across genres. These are the final 15 books.

Three main categories drew my eye when it came to the design under the dust jacket. First, we have the embossed stamp design, where designers created a clever design pressed into the hardcover and perhaps added some foil to enhance the contrast. Next, we have the flat graphic design, where the cover has some kind of drawn, painted, or printed image that lays flat on an almost silky cover underneath the dust jacket. Finally, we have a small but visually impressive group, the repeating print design, with a pattern that creates a textile-like pattern.

One example is the cover of this novel by the redoubtable T. Kingfisher.

NETTLE & BONE BY T. KINGFISHER

Jacket art by Sasha Vinogradova

When you wait long enough for someone to save you and no one comes, you learn how to save yourself. Marra, the third-born daughter, has seen the way the prince abuses her older sisters and is determined to kill him, once and for all. A series of legendary companions help her perform the three tasks that will free everyone from a prince too cruel to live. The golden embossed skeleton creature pops against the vibrant green cover, daring you to read the first page.

(8) MEMORY LANE

1956 [By Cat Eldridge.] “Presumably I’m the condemned man and obviously you’re the hearty breakfast.” —from Diamonds are Forever

Let’s us talk about Fleming’s Diamonds are Forever novel whose first part was published in the Daily Express on April 12, 1956 and heralded by an article by Ian Fleming on how he wrote the novel and that readers were invited to “meet James Bond, secret agent, meet M, his boss, and get ready to meet the girl you won’t forget”.  It was the first novel that the Daily Express did but hardly the last as they would go to do all of them.

Fleming wrote the story at his Goldeneye estate in Jamaica, inspired by a Sunday Times article on diamond smuggling. 

The book was first published by Jonathan Cape in the United Kingdom on March 26, 1956. It was the fourth novel featuring Bond. 

The Daily Express publication was in abridged firm, and interestingly, they followed it, by adapting into as a graphic comic series. 

As you all know, it would be adapted into the seventh Bond film which was the last Eon Productions film to star Sean Connery as Bond. Both the novel and the film were considered to be very good. That is not that all British critics loved it as Julian Symons of The Times Literary Supplement thought it was the “weakest book so far”. On the other hand, Raymond Chandler, yes that writer, said for the Sunday Times said “Mr. Fleming writes a journalistic style, neat, clean, spare and never pretentious”. 

It has, like all Bond novels, been in-print ever since it was first published. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 3, 1898 — E. Hoffmann Price. He’s most readily remembered as being a Weird Tales writer, one of a group that included Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith. He did a few collaborations, one of which was with H. P. Lovecraft, “Through the Gates of the Silver Key”. Another work, “The Infidel’s Daughter”, a satire on the Ku Klux Klan, angered many Southern readers. (Died 1988.)
  • Born July 3, 1926 — William Rotsler. An artist, cartoonist, pornographer and SF author. Well that is his bio. Rotsler was a many time Hugo Award winner for Best Fan Artist and one-time Nebula Award nominee. He also won a Retro Hugo for Best Fan Artist for 1946 and was runner-up for 1951. He is responsible for giving Uhura her first name. He wrote “Rotsler’s Rules for Costuming”. (Died 1997.)
  • Born July 3, 1927 — Tim O’Connor. He was Dr. Elias Huer in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century for much of its run.  (I really, really liked that series.) Other genre appearances were on The Six Million Dollar ManThe Twilight ZoneThe Outer LimitsWonder WomanKnight Rider, Next Gen and The Burning Zone. (Died 2018.)
  • Born July 3, 1927 — Ken Russell. Film director whose Altered States based off of Paddy Chayefsky’s screenplay is certainly his best remembered film. Though let’s not overlook The Lair of the White Worm which he did off Bram Stoker’s novel, or The Devils, based at least in part off The Devils of Loudun by Aldous Huxley. (Died 2011.)
  • Born July 3, 1937 — Tom Stoppard, 85. Playwright of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. He co-wrote the screenplays for Brazil (with Terry Gilliam) and Shakespeare in Love (with Marc Norman). He’s uncredited but openly acknowledged by Spielberg for his work on Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
  • Born July 3, 1943 — Kurtwood Smith, 79. Clarence Boddicker in Robocop which was nominated for a Hugo atNolacon II, Federation President in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and voiced Kanjar Ro in the most excellent Green Lantern: First Flight. He’s got series appearances on Blue ThunderThe Terrible Thunderlizards (no, I’ve no idea what it is), The X-FilesStar Trek: Deep Space NineStar Trek: VoyagerMen in Black: The Series which I got wrote up, 3rd Rock from the SunTodd McFarlane’s SpawnJustice LeagueBatman BeyondGreen Lantern, Beware the Batman, Agent Carter and Star Trek: Lower Decks. His last genre role is Dr. Joseph Wanless on the Netflix remake of Firestarter.   

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Junk Drawer shows that when it comes to alien abduction, many are called but few are chosen.
  • Bizarro shows an exasperated jury foreman who can’t deliver a verdict.

(11) BACK IN THE USSR. From the Sidewise Award-winning author of the acclaimed Clash of Eagles trilogy comes an alternate 1979 where the US and the Soviets have permanent Moon bases, orbiting space stations, and crewed spy satellites supported by frequent rocket launches. Hot Moon: Apollo Rising Book One by Alan Smale will be released July 26.

Apollo 32, commanded by career astronaut Vivian Carter, docks at NASA’s Columbia space station en route to its main mission: exploring the volcanic Marius Hills region of the Moon. Vivian is caught in the crossfire as four Soviet Soyuz craft appear without warning to assault the orbiting station. In an unplanned and desperate move, Vivian spacewalks through hard vacuum back to her Lunar Module and crew and escapes right before the station falls into Soviet hands.

Their original mission scrubbed, Vivian and her crew are redirected to land at Hadley Base, a NASA scientific outpost with a crew of eighteen. But soon Hadley, too, will come under Soviet attack, forcing its unarmed astronauts to daring acts of ingenuity and improvisation.

With multiple viewpoints, shifting from American to Soviet perspective, from occupied space station to American Moon base under siege, to a covert and blistering US Air Force military response, Hot Moon tells the gripping story of a war in space that very nearly might have been.

Available for preorder at Amazon and Amazon.ca.

Larry Niven says, “I loved it. Great ‘hard’ science fiction with convincing space battles.” Robert J. Sawyer declared, “Alan Smale is one of the brightest stars in the hard-SF firmament, and Hot Moon is his best novel yet. Enjoy!”

Alan Smale writes alternate and twisted history, and hard SF. His novella of a Roman invasion of ancient America, A Clash of Eagles, won the Sidewise Award. Alan grew up in Yorkshire, England, and earned degrees in Physics and Astrophysics from Oxford University. By day he performs astronomical research into black holes and neutron stars at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, with over a hundred published academic papers; by night he sings bass with high-energy vocal band The Chromatics.

(12) WET WORK. “Filmmakers of Sci-Fi Thriller ‘Vesper’ on Finding Hope in Grim Future” in Variety.

…The sci-fi-fantasy thriller, which takes place after the collapse of the earth’s eco-system and centers on a 13-year-old girl caring for her paralyzed father, who must use her wits and bio-hacking abilities to fight for survival and the possibility of a future, has proved a popular item for sales agent Anton. They have announced distribution deals in the U.S. (IFC Films), UK (Signature Entertainment), Germany (Koch Media), Italy (Leone Film) and Japan (Klockworx). IFC plans to release the film in U.S. theaters and VOD on Sept. 30….

The live-action scenes were shot in natural locations, mainly around Vilnius. Finding the fairytale forest that they wanted took nearly a year. But shooting outdoors came with its own set of problems. Samper confesses that one of the most challenging elements of the shoot was the spring weather in Lithuania. He says, “One day we had snow, storm, rain, hail and finally sunshine in the same shooting day.”…

(13) HIS AUDITION WAS A BUST. Didn’t he hear, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time”? “Florida Man Posing as Disney Worker Charged in Removal of R2-D2 at Hotel” in the New York Times.

A Florida man who said he applied for a security job at Walt Disney World in Florida wanted to impress his would-be bosses.

So, to highlight what he said was the company’s lax oversight, the man, David Proudfoot, donned the gray T-shirt, beige pants and Disney name tag worn by employees of a Disney resort, the Swan Reserve, and removed an R2-D2 “Star Wars” droid as well as an unidentified game machine, the authorities said.

R2-D2 might have been the droid he was looking for, but Mr. Proudfoot’s test of Disney’s security backfired: He was charged with grand theft and obstruction by false information, according to an arrest report dated May 31.

Mr. Proudfoot, 44, of Kissimmee, Fla., admitted to investigators that he moved the droid, which was valued up to $10,000, and the game machine, Deputy Christopher Wrzesien of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office wrote in the report.

Deputy Wrzesien wrote that Mr. Proudfoot had “temporarily moved” the droid from the third floor of the hotel to an unknown location. As for the game machine, Mr. Proudfoot told deputies that he had no intention of moving it off the property, according to the report.

He told investigators “he had an application for Walt Disney World Security pending and was moving the items to show weaknesses in the security of the resorts in the hope of securing a better-paying job at WDW,” the report said….

(14) HOME IS WHERE YOU HANG YOUR HAT. “Resident Alien: Season Two Return Date Announced” at SYFY Wire.

Resident Alien fans don’t have long to wait for the return of the science fiction comedy-drama series. Season two kicked off on Syfy in January and ran for eight episodes before going on hiatus. The remaining eight installments of the season will begin airing on August 10th.

Based on the Dark Horse comics, the Resident Alien series stars Alan Tudyk, Sara Tomko, Corey Reynolds, Elizabeth Bowen, Alice Wetterlund, Levi Fiehler, and Judah Prehn. The story follows an alien (Tudyk) who has come to Earth with a mission to kill humans, but he finds life on this planet is more than he planned.

(15) CURIOSITY. BBC knows you can’t resist watching video of the “World’s smallest cat”.

A rusty spotted cat, the world’s smallest cat, explores his forest home in Sri Lanka, but his natural curiosity is destined to get him into a spot of trouble.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/23/22 Our Exorcist Was Able To Dispossess Our Possessed Tesla Before It Got Repossessed

(1) VERTLIEB MEDICAL UPDATE. Please keep File 770 contributor Steve Vertlieb in mind on Monday, April 25 when he will be having major heart surgery. He explained to Facebook friends:

…With the impending replacement of not one, but both heart valves … Atrial and Mitral … as well as stopping the continuing dripping of blood into my heart cavity … and stitching back together a hole in my heart … I’m trusting in God, the fates, and the grateful prayer support of so many countless friends and loved ones to overcome this….

(2) DOUBLE-OH. Luke Poling looks at YA James Bond pastiches, including one where the teenage Bond fights a pirate named “Walker D. Plank.” “You Know, For Kids! The History of a Teenage James Bond” at CrimeReads. Even YA horror legend R.L. Stine has written one, Win, Place or Die.

When you think of the British agent with a license to kill, seducing his way around the world, keeping the rest of us safe, you likely don’t think of children. This is probably a good thing since the source novels are most definitely of their era, rife with casual sexism, racism, misogyny, homophobia and rape. While the films do a little better in some of these areas, they’re not exactly blameless.

It’s for these reasons that perhaps the idea of a teenage Bond isn’t something that instantly springs to mind as a great idea. Yet, as you’ll see, it’s been a long sought after market that the keepers of the Bond legacy have repeatedly tried to reach, with varying degrees of success….

(3) LE GUIN PRIZE DEADLINE. You have until midnight April 30 (Pacific time) to nominate for this year’s Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction. Click here for the nomination form and eligibility criteria. The winner will receive a $25,000 cash prize. The members of the 2022 jury are discussed here.

(4) THE FAN FROM UNCLES. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s tribute to Independent Bookstore Day includes “The return of the Uncles and other good news”.

…And Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstore — the deeply beloved science fiction and mystery store owned by Don Blyly — has found a new home. The “uncles,” as the store is known, burned during the unrest that took place in Minneapolis following the murder of George Floyd. Now, two years on, the store will reopen at 2716 E. 31st St., just a half-block away from Moon Palace Bookstore….

(5) NOTHING IS CERTAIN BUT DEATH AND TAXONOMY. Rob Thornton has a question about something he noticed at the New York Times Book Review.

They said that the column by Amal El-Mohtar was about ”science fiction and fantasy” but said in a headline that Emily St. John Mandel’s new (and acceptable) novel was “speculative fiction.”

Is NYTBR trying to split the genre into “pulp” (genre) and “literary” branches?

(6) FAN DISSERVICE. Netflix’s financial setback, mentioned here the other day, was only to be expected says The Mary Sue: “No One Is Surprised That Netflix Lost 200,000 Subscribers in The First Quarter”.

In the first quarter of 2022 (Janurary 1 to March 31), Netflix lost a net 200,000 subscribers, making it the first time in over a decade that the streaming service didn’t grow in subscriptions. If this weren’t bad enough, the loss was on the backdrop of Netflix projecting a 2,500,000 subscriber gain. Thier stock dropped roughly 30% in the last 24-ish hours. While Netflix continues to provide a handful of favorably received properties like BridgertonThe CrownSquid Game, and more, this drop was bound to happen. Everyone has beef with the company.

Stacking controversies from platforming bigoted comedians like Dave Chappelle (proud TERF), pay disparities, choosing to cancel fan-favorite content over bland hate-watched content, region-locked content, creepy cover art changes, and consistently colorist casting choices regarding Black women haven’t helped. A whole wiki page (divided into five categories) exists documenting Netflix criticism. To be very clear, not all of these grievances are equal. However, it does show that many people have issues with the company and the content for a broad range of reasons.

(7) I’M NOT THE MAN THEY THINK I AM AT HOME. Short-lived CNN+ is shutting down at the end of the month — not fast enough to prevent Chris Wallace from annoying the world’s most famous sci-fi celebrity: “Shatner Jokes He’ll Kill Chris Wallace Over Rocket Man Clip” at Mediaite.

… Fans of Shatner are probably well-acquainted with Shatner’s dramatic interpretation of “Rocket Man” at the January 20, 1978. Saturn Awards, also called the Science Fiction Film Awards. For the uninitiated:

Mr. Shatner was a guest of Mr. Wallace on the latest episode of the CNN+ series Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace, and had a strange reaction to being confronted with the clip. He joked about torturing and killing Wallace for playing a very brief clip — then made the preposterous claim that he had been unaware the performance was being filmed at the time, even thought there were elements of the performance that couldn’t possibly have been incorporated in a non-televised setting:

MR. WALLACE: I want to explore these spoken word albums, and I get what exactly what you’re saying, it’s not quite singing. It’s not quite talking, but it’s you’re going to kill me for this. Nineteen…

MR. SHATNER: No, I would never kill you…. I’d torture you.

MR. WALLACE: …1978. I’m going to play… Here’s another spoken word album. Take a look. Okay.

MR. SHATNER: (video clip) Rocket Man. Burning out his fuse out here, a. I think it’s going to be a long, long time ’til touchdown bring me round again to find I’m not the man they think I am. Oh no, no, no. I’m a Rocket Man now.

MR. SHATNER: Now your audience is going to watch Chris die, as I kill you. (Wallace laughs) It was an award show…

(8) TOOL TIME. Christopher Barzak invites us to share “A Moment with Ellen Datlow” at Jenny Magazine, the Youngstown State University’s Student Literary Arts Association online literary magazine. In addition to talking about her professional work, Ellen answers questions what she collects. There are many photos of the items.

[CB] It made me wonder if you see the collecting and arrangement of these art objects as a curatorial process in the same way that you essentially collect and arrange stories for anthologies? Do the processes seem similar to you? At heart, is being an editor essentially being a collector or curator?

ED: Wow-you’re much more perceptive than I am. I’ve usually started collecting by discovering one weird/beautiful/perfect object, then deciding I want more of them or more like them. I love antiquing and going to yard/garage sales. The first tool I ever bought was something I found in London’s Jubilee market hall in Covent Garden. I had no idea what it was for and neither did the seller. I didn’t discover its use until more than twenty years after I acquired it, when Kaaron Warren and I collaborated on Tool Tales (a chapbook consisting of photographs of ten of my tools/odd objects and the micro fictions she wrote about each one. A reader was able to match the item on ebay: Antique Nipper- Tool-Pliers-Adjust-Teeth-Saw-Hacksaw.

I prefer to find objects randomly, in-person. I started collecting native American fetish animals while visiting the American Southwest, then alas, discovered ebay and started buying way too many fetishes that way. But it’s not as satisfying. …

(9) ART FOR NEW LOTR EDITION. Artist Alan Lee fills in Literary Hub readers about the challenges: “Alan Lee on Illustrating J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

…I was asked to produce fifty watercolors for the single-volume edition. The question of which episodes I should choose as subjects, which could have occupied me for a good part of the allotted time, was more easily settled; the color plates were to be printed on separate sheets and bound around alternating signatures of text pages, which meant that the illustrations would fall between every thirty-two pages of text.

This limitation turned out to be a blessing; it was important for me that every illustration should relate immediately to the text on the opposite page to create a harmony between story and image, and it also relieved me of the obligation to represent all the dramatic high points of the tale. This meant that I could concentrate more on scene setting and atmosphere building, and creating some quieter moments.

My feeling was that it would be better to add detail and color to those parts which the author had not described in great depth than to try to echo his powerful storytelling. That said, there are very few pages in The Lord of the Rings where nothing remarkable is happening! …

You can admire examples of Lee’s work in a promotional video from The Folio Society at the link.

(10) TODAY’S DAY.

April 23 is Impossible Astronaut Day

The unofficial annual holiday celebrates the day in 2011 when the first episode of the sixth season of the series was aired in the United Kingdom, United States, and Canada.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1974 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-eight years ago on ABC, Gene Roddenberry’s Planet Earth film first aired. It was intended to be a pilot for a new weekly television series but that was not to be. 

It was written by Roddenberry and Juanita Bartlett, who had this point had no genre experience but later on would be the Executive Producer on many episodes of The Greatest American Hero and even wrote a handful of them. 

It starred John Saxon as Dylan Hunt. Yes Dylan Hunt. If you remember, Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda series will be fronted by Kevin Sorbo playing Dylan Hunt. Roddenberry was famous, or infamous for reusing almost everything. The previous pilot was Genesis II, and it featured many of the concepts and characters later redeveloped and mostly recast in this film.

So how was it received? Comic Mix correctly noted I think that “As a concept, it’s not bad. The execution, from Samuel A. Peebles’ script on down, is where the pilot film gets into trouble. Peebles’ writing was stiff, and whatever rewriting Roddenberry did, didn’t help. The characters are types, never fully fleshed out, and Cord’s heroic role is blunted by his cold, aloof performance (making him better suited as Airwolf’s Archangel a few years later).” 

And Moria’s Reviews says of it that “Planet Earth tends to represent Gene Roddenberry at his preachy worst. Genesis II, when it came down to it, was only a variant on the basic premise of Buck Rogers (1939) about a man from the present-day waking up in the future and showing people how things should be done with a little 20th Century knowhow and individualism. That is to say, Genesis II was a Buck Rogers with Gene Roddenberry’s social utopianism added to the mix.”

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a thirty percent rating.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 23, 1879 Talbot Mundy. English-born, but based for most of his life in the States, he also wrote under the pseudonym of Walter Galt. Best known as the author of King of the Khyber Rifles which is not quite genre and the Jimgrim series which is genre, much of his work was published in pulp magazines. (Died 1940.)
  • Born April 23, 1923 Avram Davidson. Equally at home writing mystery, fantasy or science fiction, he wrote two splendid Ellery Queen mysteries, And on the Eighth Day and The Fourth Side of the Triangle. I’m fond of his Vergil Magus series if only for the names of the novels such as The Phoenix and the Mirror or, The Enigmatic Speculum. His only Hugo was at Solacon (1958) for his “Or All the Seas with Oysters” short story. During his tenure as editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (1962-1965) it won the Best Professional Magazine Hugo (1963) and was nominated twice more at Pacificon II (1964) and Loncon II (1965). He was honored with the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1986. (Died 1993.)
  • Born April 23, 1935 Tom Doherty, 87. Publisher of Ace Books who left there in 1980 to found Tor Books. Tor became a subsidiary of St. Martin’s Press in 1987; both are now divisions of Macmillan Publishers, owned by Holtzbrinck Publishers. Doherty was awarded a World Fantasy Award in the Lifetime Achievement category at the 2005 World Fantasy Convention for his contributions to the fantasy field. He also partnered in the founding of Baen Books.
  • Born April 23, 1939 Lee Majors, 83. Here for his role as Colonel Steve Austin in The Six Million Dollar Man. He reprised the role in The Bionic Woman.  Much later, he had a recurring role in Ash vs. Evil Dead as Brock Williams. In the new version of Thunderbirds Are Go, he voiced Jeff Tracy.  He shows up in Scrooged as himself.
  • Born April 23, 1955 Paul J. McAuley, 67. Four Hundred Billion Stars, his first novel, won the Philip K. Dick Award, Fairyland which I adore won a Arthur C. Clarke Award and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel. His short story, “The Choice”, won a Sturgeon Award, and “Pasquale’s Angel” won a Sideways Award. He was Toastmaster along Kim Newman at Interaction.
  • Born April 23, 1956 Caroline Thompson, 66. She wrote the screenplays for Tim Burton’s Edward ScissorhandsThe Nightmare Before Christmas, and Corpse Bride. A stage version of the latter with director and choreographer Matthew Bourne was co-adapted with her this year. She also wrote the screenplay for The Addams Family. And she wrote the screenplay for the television film, Snow White: The Fairest of Them All.
  • Born April 23, 1962 John Hannah, 60. Here for being Jonathan Carnahan in The MummyThe Mummy Returns, and there was apparently a third film as well though let’s not talk about it please, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. In a more meaty role, he was the title characters in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and of late he’s been Holden Radcliffe on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series.
  • Born April 23, 1973 Naomi Kritzer, 49. I saw that her 2015 short story “Cat Pictures Please” had been a Hugo Award winner at MidAmeriCon II, so I went and purchased Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories off Apple Books so I could read it. It was superb as was Catfishing on CatNet which is nominated for a Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book at this year’s Hugos. It’s since been expanded continued in two more novels, Catfishing on CatNet and the Chaos on Catnet. DisCon III saw her nominated for two Hugos, one for her “Monster” novelette and one for her most excellent “Little Free Library” short story. She also picked up a nomination at Dublin 2019 for her “The Thing About Ghost Stories” novelette. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) SUMMERTIME. “Archie Comics Brings a Queer Character to Riverdale” reports the New York Times.

The world of Riverdale, the comic book home of the redheaded Archie Andrews and friends, will expand in June with the introduction of Eliza Han.

The new character, created by the writer Tee Franklin and the artist Dan Parent, is queer and biracial. She meets the Riverdale gang in a summer special comic when she visits Harper Lodge, a cousin of Veronica — for whom she has romantic feelings, something Eliza has in common with Reggie Mantle. Oh, teenage love!

“The best Archie characters are the ones you can drop in and have them create a little fun chaos,” Mike Pellerito, the editor in chief of Archie Comic Publications, said in a telephone interview. “Eliza is another character that you can fall in love with very easily — and there’s a lot more to be revealed about the character besides her sexuality.”

Eliza also has a fuller figure, something new for Archie, Pellerito said, a move to have more characters people can relate to. “Body diversity is something we don’t tackle a ton of,” Pellerito said….

(15) CARTOONIST PROFILED. Eye on Design shows how “The Cartoonist Seth Has Built a Real Life Entirely Around His Fictional Work”.

…Inspired by The New Yorker cover artists of the mid-century, Seth made a name for himself with semi-autobiographical literary comics rendered in that classic style, most notably his Palookaville series, including It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken and the acclaimed Clyde Fans. Perhaps this encroaching modern world is what he’s guarding against in his own home in Guelph’s historic neighborhood, The Ward. Many curtains are drawn, and custom stained glass windows with the words Inkwell’s End and Nothing Lasts set in beautiful hues, with an illustration of the house—pull you deeper into this world as they seal off the one outside.

…The house. Seth sees it as an art project that’s not only directly connected to his work, but to the city of Guelph and the province that runs in his blood. For one, electrical towers are a running theme, depicted in the ironwork outside, in one of the stained glass windows, in the sculptures on the first floor, even in the shower tiles; Seth regards them as a central image of Ontario. Elsewhere, the nearby train bridge and the two towers of Guelph’s basilica can be spotted in cabinetry masterfully crafted by Seth’s father-in-law. 

His comic work lives and breathes here, too. For fans, it’s like walking into a museum of the creator’s mind. In the parlor alone there’s a light-up ceramic sculpture of Kao-Kuk, an Inuit astronaut from his book The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists. There’s a trio of nesting cookie jar sculptures of the titular character from George Sprott (1894–1975), a series he originally created for The New York Times Magazine; he removes the top of one to reveal a younger Sprott within, which is then removed to reveal Sprott as a child. There are dolls of all the characters from Wimbledon Green: The Greatest Comic Book Collector in the World….

(16) PLUS ÇA CLIMATE CHANGE. William McKibben’s doom-sounding article “The End of Nature” sounds like it could have been published this week, but The New Yorker first ran it in 1989.

…In other words, our sense of an unlimited future, which is drawn from that apparently bottomless well of the past, is a delusion. True, evolution, grinding on ever so slowly, has taken billions of years to create us from slime, but that does not mean that time always moves so ponderously. Over a lifetime or a decade or a year, big and impersonal and dramatic changes can take place. We have accepted the idea that continents can drift in the course of aeons, or that continents can die in a nuclear second. But normal time seems to us immune from such huge changes. It isn’t, though. In the last three decades, for example, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased more than ten per cent, from about three hundred and fifteen parts per million to about three hundred and fifty parts per million. In the last decade, an immense “hole” in the ozone layer has opened up above the South Pole each fall, and, according to the Worldwatch Institute, the percentage of West German forests damaged by acid rain has risen from less than ten per cent to more than fifty per cent. Last year, for perhaps the first time since that starved Pilgrim winter at Plymouth, America consumed more grain than it grew. Burroughs again: “One summer day, while I was walking along the country road on the farm where I was born, a section of the stone wall opposite me, and not more than three or four yards distant, suddenly fell down. Amid the general stillness and immobility about me, the effect was quite startling. . . . It was the sudden summing-up of half a century or more of atomic changes in the material of the wall. A grain or two of sand yielded to the pressure of long years, and gravity did the rest.”…

…Soon Thoreau will make no sense. And when that happens the end of nature, which began with our alteration of the atmosphere and continued with the responses of the planetary managers and the genetic engineers, will be final. The loss of memory will be the eternal loss of meaning…

(17) WHISKEY BRAVO TANGO. This is what Hollywood might call a successful product placement. “Fort Collins whiskey gets TV cameo, now has unexpected ‘Star Trek’ following” at Yahoo!

Two weeks ago NOCO Distillery founder and master blender Sebastien Gavillet was going about his normal life. Now he’s commissioning custom bottle corks affixed with Star Trek figurines.

Life — and, in Gavillet’s case, some opportune product placement — sure comes at you fast.

It all started April 6, when a bottle of the Fort Collins distillery’s “Bourbon II” whiskey appeared on the latest season of Paramount+ series “Star Trek: Picard.”

The bottle, which was shown during a bar scene in episode six, appeared on screen for a few seconds — just long enough for fans to pause and make out its name, batch, cask, bottle numbers, the distillery’s logo and hometown: Fort Collins, Colorado.

“I was floored,” said Gavillet, who woke up to a flurry of text messages and calls after the episode dropped on the streaming service.

NOCO Distillery had dipped its toes in product placement thanks to Mark McFann, a distillery customer and owner of Cast a Long Shadow, a Fort Collins-based product placement company that’s had placements in everything from “Avengers” movies to HBO’s “Westworld” and, now, “Star Trek: Picard,” McFann said.

Seeing it as an interesting marketing opportunity, Gavillet said NOCO Distillery also pursued small placements on Netflix’s “Lucifer,” the new Ben Affleck movie “Deep Water” and Peacock’s “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” reboot, “Bel-Air.”

While most of NOCO Distillery’s previous product placements were minor — “if you don’t know it’s there, you don’t really see it,” Gavillet explained — Bourbon II’s extended appearance on “Star Trek: Picard” was “very unique,” he said….

Those who want to order a bottle of the next run are invited to enter their contact info here: startrekpicard (nocodistillery.com).

(18) LANSDALE Q&A. Joe R. Lansdale talks Born for Trouble and more with Michelle Souliere of the Green Hand Bookshop in Portland, Maine. Born for Trouble: The Further Adventures of Hap and Leonard was released March 21.

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

Pixel Scroll 3/25/22 Look At The Scroll Turn Hell-File Red! Someone’s Pixel’s Clicking Down, Down, Down

(1) THIS IS WILD. Brandon Sanderson invites you to watch as “We Back Every Publishing Kickstarter*”. As one commenter said, “Never thought I would watch a 30+ minute video of someone funding Kickstarters.” I had to watch the whole thing myself!

Today we are going to do something awesome. The Kickstarter has been successful beyond my wildest dreams, so I got my team together and I said what can we do to give back a little to this community that has supported us so well? So we are going to back every single Kickstarter in the publishing category. This is going to be awesome. …And indeed, some of these we’re going to pull out and we’re going to talk about why we’re backing them and what’s cool about them and so we’re going to do a time lapse for you and you can watch in real time as we back these all… 

In the middle of this, the Sanderson team tripped over a previously unknown-to-them Kickstarter function which sends all of their own backers an email every time they back another one. After a load of emails had gone out Kickstarter locked up their account! The team had to open a new account to keep going. (At first they worried that — doing the multiplication – they had unintentionally generated nine million emails. They soon learned it was a lot less – the emails only go to those who opt-in to receive such notices.)

(2) ELDEN RING. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews FromSoftware’s release The Elden Ring.

Here is the DNA which defines a FromSoftware game: difficulty which borders on masochism; finely-tuned combat that rewards patience; and storylines told through text that necessitates elucidation in YouTube explainers. Elden Ring continues the tradition, weaving the classic ingredients through a storyline written with the assistance of Game of Thrones author George RR Martin.  You are ‘a Tarnished,’ tasked with venturing across the decaying ‘Lands Between to reunite pieces of a broken ring and become the ‘Elden Lord.’

It doesn’t matter.  For most players, the plot will come a distant second in a bold change in the FromSoftware formula:  a vast open world of great beauty where almost everything wants to kill you.  While the graphics look dated by current standards, the design is stunning: misty forests, golden cities, and rotting red deserts you race past on your trusty spirit-horse, Torrent.

(3) ROWLING DECLINES PUTIN’S DEFENSE. “Vladimir Putin Claims West Is ‘Trying To Cancel’ Russia” reports Deadline.

Russian premier Vladimir Putin has delivered a TV address in which he claimed the West is “trying to cancel” his country.

During a deranged-sounding rant, translated and broadcast by Sky News, Putin at one point said that Harry Potter author JK Rowling had been similarly cancelled “just because she didn’t satisfy the demands of gender rights”….

Rowling’s response was carried by BBC News: “JK Rowling hits back at Putin’s ‘cancel culture’ comment”.

JK Rowling has hit back at Vladimir Putin, after the Russian president cited her in a wide-ranging speech that saw him criticise “cancel culture”.

At a televised meeting on Friday, Mr Putin compared recent criticism of the Harry Potter author to that faced by pro-war Russian composers and writers.

In response, Ms Rowling denounced the invasion of Ukraine in which she said Russia was “slaughtering civilians”.

Rowling has been criticised for her views on transgender issues.

“Critiques of Western cancel culture are possibly not best made by those currently slaughtering civilians for the crime of resistance, or who jail and poison their critics,” the Harry Potter author wrote on Twitter.

In the lengthy speech, which was given to the winners of various cultural prizes, President Putin claimed Russian composers and writers were being discriminated against.

(4) POLL TESTS SUPPORT FOR BOOK BANS. “ALA Poll Finds Public Broadly Opposes Book Banning Efforts” reports Publishers Weekly.

By large majorities, American say they oppose recent efforts to remove books from schools and libraries, and say they trust in librarians to make appropriate collection decisions. The news comes from a national poll commissioned by the American Library Association, released this week at the Public Library Association conference in Portland, Ore.

Amid a proliferation of new legislation in some states and an uptick in efforts to ban books nationwide, the ALA poll found that 71% of voters oppose efforts to remove books from public libraries, including majorities of voters across party lines. Furthermore, 74% of parents of public school children expressed “a high degree of confidence” in school librarians to make good decisions about which books to make available to children. The poll also found librarians to be held in high in their communities….

(5) COVER REVEAL. [Item by Bence Pintér.] Valancourt Books unveiled the cover for Attila Veres’s debut collection in English: The Black Maybe. Attila is the top Hungarian weird/horror author, I am really glad to see him published in the US. The book will be released in October.

…This volume collects ten of his best tales in English for the first time, ranging from weird fiction like ‘In the Snow, Sleeping’, in which a couple’s vacation to a health spa erodes into a surreal nightmare, to folk horror like ‘Return to the Midnight School’, in which the things that emerge from the soil in one rural farming community are bizarre and horrific, to Lovecraft-inspired tales like ‘Multiplied by Zero’, written as a wry travelogue in which a man sets out on a deadly holiday tour to explore Lovecraftian landscapes. And in the title story ‘The Black Maybe’, which Steve Rasnic Tem calls ‘one of the weirdest tales I’ve read in years’, a girl and her family escape the bustling city to experience farm life, only to discover with unimaginable horror the truth of what is really being harvested there….

(6) ESSAY: FRITZ LEIBER’S HUGOS. [Item by Cat Eldridge.] I recently listened to one of the audio versions of Fritz Leiber’s The Big Time, the one narrated by Suzanne Toren, which was his first Hugo win for Best Novel or Novelette at Solacon (1958). It would be the first of six Hugos and two Retro Hugos that he would garner in a long and distinguished career. (A movie based on one of his books also won.) So let me recount these. 

After the win for The Big Time, he next picked two nominations at Detention (1959), one for a novelette, “A Deskful of Girls” and one for a short story, “Rump-Titty-Titty-Tum-TAH-Tee” (and may I say that I really, really love that title?); another short story, “Scylla’s Daughter”, was nominated at Chicon III (1962), the same year he picked a Special Award for “The Use of SF in Advertisements”. Anyone care to tell me about this award pretty please? 

At the first DisCon (1963) he picked up a short story nomination for “The Unholy Grail”. Also nominated for Best Dramatic Production that year was Burn, Witch, Burn, also known as Night of the Eagle, which as you know is based off Leiber’s Conjure Wife, 

Loncon II (1965) saw The Wanderer novel pick up a Hugo, and “Stardock” was a finalist at Tricon (1966) as a short story nominee. “Gonna Roll Them Bones” picked up the Novelette Hugo at Baycon (1968) with “Ship of Shadows” garnering the Best Novella at Heicon ’70. 

The first Noreascon (1971) would see his “Ill Met in Lankhmar” novella win a Hugo. (I truly love those stories, one and all.)  And then the first Aussiecon (1975) would see his “Midnight by the Morphy Watch” novelette nominated for a Hugo and the next year at MidAmeriaCon (1976), his “Catch That Zeppelin!” short story won a Hugo. 

That’s it for Hugos, though there’s the matter of Retro Hugos too. L.A. Con III (1996) would see his Destiny Times Three novel nominated and Millennium Philcon saw the “Coming Attraction” short story likewise. Another short story, “The Sunken Land”, got nominated at Worldcon 76 (2018). At Dublin 2019, where two of his novels were on the Retro Hugo ballot, Conjure Wife outpolled Gather, Darkness for Best Novel, while his “Thieves’ House” novelette was also a finalist.  

His last Retro Hugo was CoNZealand (2020) for Best Fan Writer. He’d also get a nomination that year for Best Related Work for The Works of H. P. Lovecraft: Suggestions for a Critical Appraisal.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 25, 1927 Sylvia Anderson. Film producer, writer, voice actress and costume designer, best known for her collaborations with husband Gerry Anderson on such Supermarionation series as ThunderbirdsSupercarFireball XL5 and Stingray. She was responsible for much of the actual shows and the characters on them, in particular creating the iconic characters of Lady Penelope and Parker in Thunderbirds. (Died 2016.)
  • Born March 25, 1920 Patrick Troughton. The Second Doctor, of course. Troughton had a long genre resume starting with Hamlet and Treasure Island early on before proceeding to such works as Scars of Dracula and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell later on. Telly-wise, I see him on R.U.R. Radius playing a robot, on a Fifties Robin Hood show being that character, and later on in The Feathered Serpent, a children’s series set in pre-Columbian Mexico where he starred as the scheming High Priest Nasca. H’h (Died 1987.)
  • Born March 25, 1939 D. C. Fontana. You know that I’m not going to be able to give her complete précis here? She’s that complex a writer and producer, so I’m sticking to her writing side here. She’s first of all a script writer and story editor, best known for her work on the original Trek franchise but she was also involved on Logan’s RunThe Six Million Dollar Man, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. She was a story editor on the short-lived Fantastic Journey, and so many revisions made to her script for Battlestar Galactica’s “Gun on Ice Planet Zero” that her name is nowhere near it.  Oh, and she created the story that became “Encounter at Farpoint”. Impressive that. My absolute favorite work by her is “The War Prayer” episode for the first season of Babylon 5, based on a idea by Straczynski.  She even wrote an episode of the series Reboot! (Died 2019.)
  • Born March 25, 1942 Richard O’Brien, 80. He wrote The Rocky Horror Show forty-nine years ago which has remained in almost continuous production globally. He also co-wrote the screenplay of The Rocky Horror Picture Show film which came out just two years later. He appears in the film as Riff Raff. He’s in Casino Royale as a stunt performer and in the 1980 Flash Gordon as Fico. The Robin of Sherwood series had him in a recurring role as Gulnar. 
  • Born March 25, 1942 Jacqueline Lichtenberg, 80. She was nominated at the second DisCon for Best Fan Writer, the year Susan Wood won, and Neffy (National Fantasy Fan Federation Speculative Fiction Award) for Fan of the Year thirty-four years later. She’s written a number of Trek works and more fiction in the Sime/Gen ‘verse which I hadn’t known existed until now. If you’re so interested in the latter, she’s extremely well stocked at the usual suspects.
  • Born March 25, 1947 Paul Levinson, 75. “The Copyright Case” novelette would garner him a much deserved HOMer Award. It was the first work in a series of novels and short stories featuring the fascinating NYPD forensic detective Dr. Phil D’Amato who first appeared in Levinson’s “The Chronology Protection Case” novelette. You can purchase it from the usual digital sources.
  • Born March 25, 1964 Kate DiCamillo, 58. She is one of only six people to win two Newbery Medals for her novels The Tale of Despereaux and Flora & Ulysses. I’m not familiar with the latter work, but the former is a wonderful read that got turned into a remarkably good film as well, something that but rarely happens alas. 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) PRINCE VALIANT ART. Nate D. Sanders Auctions is offering art from “The John Cullen Murphy Prince Valiant Estate” – bidding closes March 31.

We’re pleased to offer collectors nearly 400 lots of Prince Valiant artwork from the estate of John Cullen Murphy, the man handpicked by creator Hal Foster to continue Val’s epic journey of adventure, romance and bravery. Never before have so many lots of original Prince Valiant art been available at auction, ranging from preliminary sketches by Hal Foster, to full-page strips by John Cullen Murphy from the 1970s to 2000s. The result is a feast for the eyes and heart, the grand illustrations that Prince Valiant is known for, coupled with the characters and tales that have captivated millions of fans the world over.

(10) WHAT WAS THE NAME OF HIS OTHER LEG? (Come on, you’ve seen Mary Poppins, you don’t need the straight line.) “Why C-3PO Had a Silver Leg in the Original Star Wars Trilogy”CBR looks for the answer.

Over the decades, part of what has made the Star Wars franchise so interesting to its fans is the slew of questions that have arisen from the films. While some of them were answered in future movies and TV shows, others remained largely unanswered or unexplored in any form of media. However, that doesn’t mean that there may not be some history to it in some way, and a great example of that fact can be found in C-3PO’s silver leg from the Original Trilogy.

In an interview with Threepio actor Anthony Daniels, he explained the various changes and updates to his suits over the years and how they’ve adapted over time. For example, when he reached The Empire Strikes Back, he discussed how his shin was never gold but a shade of silver. While it was easy to see on the action figures, most of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back made it far more challenging to see. But Daniels also explained some clever behind-the-scenes reasons as to why the leg appeared gold on camera….

(11) INHALE, EXHALE, CRUSH. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] I know it’s not SF-ish but I do like questions like this… “Why boa constrictors don’t suffocate when they squeeze their prey to death” at Science.

The fearsome boa constrictor (Boa constrictor) lives up to its name. Whenever it’s hungry, the 4-meter-long snake wraps itself around rodents, birds, or even pigs, literally squeezing the life out of them. So why don’t boas collapse their own lungs in the process?

To find out, scientists strapped a blood pressure cuff (like the one your doctor uses) around the midsections of eight boas in their lab…. 

(12) TOMBSTONE TERRITORY. This might be a spoilerCinemaBlend gives directions: “RIP James Bond: No Time To Die Fans Can Now Pay Their Respects To The Final Resting Place Of Daniel Craig’s 007”.

… Through the Guide to the Farroe Islands website, fans of Ian Fleming’s legendary creation can now book what’s being called “the official James Bond tombstone tour.” On this seven hour excursion, a guided tour will take participants through the sights and sounds of Kalsoy island, where No Time To Die filmed its sequences involving the evil lair of Rami Malek’s Safin. The main attraction is the very spot where James Bond stood in his last moments, as that is now the spot of a tombstone honoring the man himself….

(13) PHONE ON A LEASH. “Too Much Screen Time? Landline Phones Offer a Lifeline” reports the New York Times.

First came the rhinestone-encrusted rotary. Then the cherry-red lips. After that, the cheeseburger.

By last summer, Chanell Karr had amassed a collection of six landline phones. Her most recent, an orange corded model made as a promotional item for the 1986 film “Pretty in Pink,” was purchased in June. Though she only has one of them — a more subdued VTech phone — hooked up, all are in working order.

“During the pandemic I wanted to disconnect from all of the things that distract you on a smartphone,” said Ms. Karr, 30, who works in marketing and ticketing at a music venue near her home in Alexandria, Ky. “I just wanted to get back to the original analog ways of having a landline.”

Once a kitchen staple, bedside companion and plot device on sitcoms such as “Sex and the City” and “Seinfeld,” the landline phone has all but been replaced by its newer, smarter wireless counterpart….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Spider-Man–Best Picture Summary,” the three Spider-Men make fun of the Best Picture nominees.  With The Power Of The Dog, they say, “You want Dr. Strange acting like a jerk?  We have that!”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Melanie Stormm, Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Bence Pintér, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Pixel Scroll 3/19/22 Marconi Scrolls The Mamba

(1) GRIMM TIMES AHEAD. The Brothers Grimm Society of North America launched this week. “The BGSNA promotes the study of all aspects of the legacy and the spirit of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and their works. Website and membership info forthcoming.”

(2) MARCON ENDING. Marcon, the annual Columbus, Ohio convention, is calling it quits. I was Marcon’s toastmaster in 1977. At least that didn’t kill it. The con chair posted on Facebook:

Due to many challenges with which we are all familiar the current staff are stepping down. One of the panel tracks for this year will be “how to run a convention”. If you are willing to travel to Columbus in May to impart your knowledge on how to run a con there will be an entire panel track on just that topic. Please consider sharing your wisdom and experience with the folks coming next and PM me about your desire to sit a panel this May 6-8 at the final MARcon.

The Marcon.org website shut down earlier this month.

(3) VINTAGE PNEUMA. Christianity Today’s Louis Markos reviews The Medieval Mind of C. S. Lewis: How Great Books Shaped a Great Mind by Jason M. Baxter in “C.S. Lewis Was a Modern Man Who Breathed Medieval Air…”

The British Boethius

Like his friend Tolkien, C. S. Lewis was a man who loved all things medieval and who infused all that he wrote with a premodern ethos that hearkened back to an older, more traditional understanding of technology, books, wisdom, and morality. In his new book, The Medieval Mind of C. S. Lewis: How Great Books Shaped a Great Mind, Dante scholar Jason Baxter unpacks the full extent of Lewis’s medievalism. Just as Michael Ward demonstrated in Planet Narnia that Lewis keyed each of his seven Narnia Chronicles to one of the medieval planets, so Baxter demonstrates that the medieval worldview colored not only Lewis’s apologetics and fiction but his scholarship as well….

(4) NO STACKS OF BOOKS WITHOUT STACKS OF BUCKS. Publishers Weekly hears “Librarians ‘Disheartened’ by FY2022 Federal Budget, Preparing for Tough FY2023”.

Signed into law on March 11, the reconciled FY2022 budget (which began on October 1, 2021) contained only flat funding for the LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act) at $197.4 million—despite the House last summer approving a $9 million increase that would have taken LSTA funding to $206.5 million. LSTA funding, which is administered by the IMLS (Institute for Museum and Library Services) through grants to states, is the primary source of federal funding dedicated to America’s libraries….

…Amid rising inflation and continued economic volatility and uncertainty as the country emerges from the pandemic, flat funding is essentially a cut.

(5) MARLON JAMES. Boston Review’s Nate File interviews Marlon James, who says: “’Representation doesn’t just mean heroes. We need the villains as well.’”

Nate File: When Black Leopard, Red Wolf first came out, you joked that this trilogy was like an African Game of Thrones. That took off as the elevator pitch for the books, but they’re really very different. Do you regret making that joke?

 Marlon James: No, if for no other reason than it got people to pay attention to it. But also, I’m inspired by this idea that you don’t have to let go of the world of make-believe to tell a serious story. This idea that persists in fiction and in storytelling that realistic fiction is the grown-up genre and that fantasy is child’s play, even though fantasy, at a certain point in our evolutionary history, was considered fact. At one point, Zeus was a fact. For a lot of people, Shango is a fact. Game of Thrones supported the idea of telling a story that is decidedly adult—although I have no problem with teenagers stealing this book—but retain the fantastical and even the supernatural. It liberated how I always wanted to tell a story but never felt I could.

 NF: Why do you think things shifted? When did fantasy become inappropriate for adults?

 MJ: Christianity had a lot to do with it, and it still has a lot to do with it, because we look at fantastical things as inherently demonic. We’ve been burning women as witches for centuries. And, for better or worse, the rise of the nineteenth-century novel reproduced some of those ideas where things that go bump in the night are things that children believe in.

Margaret Atwood said once that human nature hasn’t changed in a thousand years, and the way you know this is to check the mythologies. I agree. I think that we reach for the fantastical sometimes to explain things that we can’t explain in the real world. For Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, only the fantastical could explain the type of horror that they witnessed in World War I. We still reach for allegory, we still reach for myth, we still reach for tall tales in order to understand ourselves….

(6) RANDOMIZED TBR. James Davis Nicoll recommends these “5 Extremely Unscientific Methods for Picking Your Next Book”.

Anyone can apply logic, taste, and methodical research to the problem of selecting which limited subset of the vast number of books available one is to read. Conversely, one can half-ass one’s way through Mt. Tsundoku using methods of dubious reliability. Don’t believe me? Here are five methods I have used, each more ludicrous than the one before….

(7) TAKARADA AKIRA OBIT. Actor Takarada Akira, whose resume was filled with appearances in kaiju movies, has died at the age of 87. Variety’s profile says:

…He made an impression in a major role as a Navy diver in the original 1954 “Godzilla” and thereafter was cast in series follow-ups including “Mothra vs. Godzilla” (1964), “Invasion of Astro-Monster” (1965), and “Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster” (1966).

…After the collapse of Japan’s studio system in the 1970s Takarada’s appearances in films became fewer though his career revived in the 1990s with supporting roles in the films of Itami Juzo. He also appeared in new entries in the “Godzilla” series such as the 1992 “Godzilla vs. Mothra” and the 2002 “Godzilla: Final Wars.” He is credited in the 2014 Garth Edwards “Godzilla” as a Japanese immigration agent, though his scenes were cut from the film….

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1999 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Now I have come to praise Farscape which debuted twenty-four years ago this evening on on Sci-Fi Channel’s SciFi Friday. I won’t claimed to be objective as regards this series as I consider it to be the finest SF series ever done bar none. 

It was produced originally for the Australian Nine Network, and was, as if you didn’t notice, produced in that country with an all Australian cast save Ben Browder as John Crichton.  It was created by Rockne S. O’Bannon who would go on to be involved in seaQuest DSV, Defiance and Alien Nation. He and Brian Henson were Executive Producers (along with a number of other individuals).

And that brings me to the Jim Henson Company which was responsible for the amazing look of this series. They produced two of the characters here, Pilot and Rigel, plus produced the appendages on Ka D’Argo’s face and the Diagnostic Repair Drones or DRDs, and of course the makeup that created the various aliens. 

The characters here make use of slang such as frell, drad and dren as a substitute for English expletives. I particularly like frell as it’s so obvious what it really is. 

So how was the reception for it? Buzz-eye.com summed it up nicely this way: “The beauty of ‘Farscape’ for the uninitiated is in how surprising the show can be; you genuinely never know what the writers are going to throw at you next, and I truly envy anyone who gets to imbibe in the series for the first time via this box set.”

It currently holds an eighty-one percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

It would run for four stellar seasons and get a proper send-off in The Peacekeeper Wars after it got cancelled on a cliffhanger. A weird cliffhanger at that. If you’re interested in watching it again, or amazingly haven’t seen it yet, it is currently airing on Amazon Prime. 

That it got no Hugo nominations is frelling beyond the pale. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 19, 1926 Joe L. Hensley. A member of First Fandom fondly remembered by OGH and others, he began publishing genre fiction with “Eyes of the Double Moon” in Planet Stories in the May 1953 issue. He would publish some thirty tales over the next fifty years including three with Ellison (including “Rodney Parish for Hire” in Partners in Wonder). Much of it is collected in Final Tales. He was also a writer of mystery fiction, at least twenty-four novels. I’m not seeing him really at the usual suspects in either genre in any meaningful amount. (Died 2007.)
  • Born March 19, 1928 Patrick McGoohan. Best remembered as Number Six as the ever so weird Prisoner series which he both created and produced. He was prior to that series, John Drake in Danger Man which might connect to this series or not. Did you know that he had a long-running connection with Columbo, directing, producing, writing, and appearing in several episodes? He appeared in “By Dawn’s Early Light” and “Identify Crisis”. (Died 2009.)
  • Born March 19, 1932 Gail Kobe. She has genre appearances with the more prominent being as Jessica Connelly in Twilight Zone’s “In His Image”, in another Twilight Zone episode as Leah Maitland in “The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross”, and two Outer Limits episodes, first as Janet Doweling in “Specimen, Unknown” and then as Janet in “The Keeper of the Purple Twilight”. (Died 2013.)
  • Born March 19, 1936 Ursula Andress, 86. She was Honey Ryder in the very first Bond film, Dr. No, and Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale. Let’s see if she’s done any other genre work… well her first was The Tenth Victim based on Sheckley’s 1953 short story “Seventh Victim”. She also appeared in L’Infermiera, oops wrong genre, The Mountain of the Cannibal GodThe Fifth MusketeerClash of the Titans where she played of course Aphrodite, on the Manimal series, The Love Boat series and the two Fantaghirò films. 
  • Born March 19, 1945 Jim Turner.  Turner was editor for Arkham House after the death of August Derleth, founder of that press. After leaving Arkham House for reasons that are not at all clear, he founded Golden Gryphon Press which published really lovely books until it went out of existence. (Died 1999.)
  • Born March 19, 1955 Bruce Willis, 67. So do any of the Die Hard franchise movies count as genre? Even setting them aside he has a very long  genre list, to wit Death Becomes Her (bit of macabre fun), 12 Monkeys (weird sh!t), The Fifth Element (damn great), Armageddon (eight tentacles down), Looper (most excellent), The Sixth Sense (not at all bad), Sin City (typical Miller overkill) and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (yet more Miller overkill).
  • Born March 19, 1964 Marjorie Monaghan, 58. JoJo on all six episodes of Space Rangers. My brain keeps insisting it lasted much, much longer. She also was on Babylon 5 as the Mars Resistance leader during the Earth Alliance Civil War, where she was known as Number One. She’s also appeared on Quantum Leap, in the cyberpunk Nemesis film, in The Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy film, on Andromeda series and on The Great War of Magellan film.
  • Born March 19, 1969 Connor Trinneer, 53. Best remembered for his roles as Charles “Trip” Tucker III on Enterprise Michael the wraith on Stargate Atlantis though he only provided the voice later on.  He also was Tycho “Ty”Johns in Star Runners, one of those good awful Sci-Fi films. How awful? It rates twelve percent among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld shows Guardian readers the periods of reading in the garden.

(11) ELEVATOR PITCH. SYFY Wire warns that “‘Moon Knight’ Goes Full Horror Mode In First Freaky Clip From Marvel’s New Disney+ Series”.

Here’s a pro Marvel tip: Never let a terrifying Ancient Egyptian deity corner you inside an elevator. Judging by the first official clip from the Moon Knight TV series (coming to Disney+ at the end of the month), Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness won’t be the MCU’s initial foray into the world of horror. And here’s another piece of advice: if you’re ever scared witless by what may be a hallucination of an inter-dimensional being, pretend you dropped your contact lens on the floor. It doesn’t exactly work here, but it’s better than nothing….

(12) EMMA VS. J.K. “People Are Praising Emma Watson’s Alleged Jab At J.K. Rowling, Just Days After J.K. Went On An Anti-Trans Rant On Twitter”Yahoo!’s article amplifies what they’re talking about with video clips and tweets.

Earlier this week, Emma Watson graced the BAFTAs stage to present the award for Outstanding British Film.

She was introduced by Rebel Wilson, who joked, “Our next presenter is Emma Watson. She’s proud to call herself a feminist, but we all know she’s a witch.”

Once Emma reached the podium, she immediately said, “I’m here for all the witches.”

Here’s why people kind of did a double-take after that comment. Emma’s “all the witches” remark comes just a few days after J.K. Rowling did one of her infamous anti-trans rants on Twitter….

(13) CLICKS WILL ABOUND. Frankenstein or Dracula? Star Trek or Star Wars? Delta or Omicron? Time for the latest duel: “Wordle vs. Elden Ring: Which is a better game?” asks Slate.

Two massive cultural juggernauts currently stand astride the video gaming landscape. One is Wordle, a minimalist word-guessing game that combines elements of hangman and Mastermind with 3 million total players, many of whom have logged on to play each day’s new puzzle for months and counting. The other is Elden Ring, a brutal fantasy role-playing game released in February, which has received near-perfect reviews from gaming critics and players since release. So far, estimates suggest the multiplatform game has sold 10 million copies on PC alone—a big feat for a game that’s not even a month old.

As games, they couldn’t be more different. Heck, Wordle doesn’t even have any graphics, and failing to solve Elden Ring’s puzzles results in (in-game) death, not a broken win streak. But their differences aside, no two games have generated more discussion and discourse in 2022 than these. They’re early Game of the Year contenders, not soon to be forgotten or toppled. We all know, however, that only one game can be the year’s best game—and while it may be too early to tell, it doesn’t hurt to ask ourselves: Is Wordle or Elden Ring more deserving of the title?…

(14) THEY’RE DYING TO BE INVITED. “Margaret Atwood’s Dream Dinner Party Features a Crystal Ball and Hammer”  at bon appétit.

You get to host any three people, fictional or real, dead or alive. Who’s invited?
I’ll stick to dead people. If I fail to invite some living people, they’d be very annoyed. (Not to say other dead people wouldn’t be. I’d expect to hear from Samuel Johnson and Oscar Wilde, who prided themselves on their dinner conversation.) But here’s my invite list…

(15) THE TRUTH IS SEMI-OUT THERE. This week’s Isaac Arthur video is a look at covert aliens.

Clandestine conspiracies and covert alien activity are popular theories involving UFO & UAP sightings as well as in science fiction, but what would covert alien activity look like?

(16) JAMES BOND DOES IT BETTER FOR COMIC RELIEF. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Comic Relief Red Nose Day is an annual BBC charity bash where comedians and others in a funny way raise money for good causes (not for comedians). By midnight last night, more than £42.7m has been raised in Comic Relief’s latest Red Nose Day broadcast, with a host of stars taking part in sketches and stunts. The total will rise as donations continue to come in. Comic Relief: Red Nose Day raises £42m in star-studded show – BBC News. Though there was much new material, we did get a dusting off of a James Bond skit first performed last year.  So, here is 007 meeting Nan (Catherine Tate)…

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day “Everyone who can’t stand ‘We Built This City’”.]