Pixel Scroll 2/21/23 Pick A Peck Of Feral Pixels

(1) RIDING IT OUT. James Davis Nicoll points to stories involving an iconic bit of wishful thinking: “Take Cover: Five Cold War-Era Stories Featuring Fallout Shelters”.

Few things are as emblematic of modern society as the nuclear family; nothing is as crucial to the nuclear family as the nuclear fallout shelter. Without a shelter, atomic war may bring swift incineration or painful death from radiation. With a shelter, one can survive with one’s loved ones…at least until the air and food runs out or the radiation finds its way in.

Living as we do in an era of unparalleled international peace and cooperation, fallout shelters might seem a ludicrous expense. During the Cold War, when World War Three seemed a perpetual twenty minutes away, matters were quite different. Many SF authors found fallout shelters inspirational. Here are five examples….

(2) DAHL COMPLAINTS ECHOED AT HIGHEST LEVEL. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] There’s this which is causing a small kerfuffle over here in Brit Cit: “Roald Dahl: Rishi Sunak joins criticism of changes to author’s books” at BBC News. PS. Rishi Sunak is our latest Prime Minister — I mention in case you’d lost track…

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has criticised changes to Roald Dahl books, after the removal of some references to things like characters’ appearance and weight sparked a fierce debate.

Dahl’s estate and publisher said works including The BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory had been updated to be more suitable for modern audiences.

Some said they approved of the changes.

But Mr Sunak’s spokesman said works of fiction should be “preserved and not airbrushed”….

(3) DOUBLING DOWN. And who would have predicted this? “BBC Apologizes To J.K. Rowling For Second Time This Month After She Was Accused Of Transphobia” reports Deadline.  

The BBC has apologized to JK Rowling for the second time in less than a month after she was accused of having transphobic views on a live current affairs show.

In a discussion about Harry Potter video game Hogwarts Legacy on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland show, a transgender woman said she had boycotted the game because it was being used to “fund the anti-trans movement.”

Carrie Marshall, a writer and broadcaster, said: “This is having a measurable effect on trans people’s lives and potentially our safety too. I think that’s why so many trans people are concerned about this game.”

The BBC said it reviewed audience complaints about the discussion, which broadcast on February 10. In a statement, it said the exchange did not meet editorial standards.

“The debate got into the issue of gender identity and claims were made about JK Rowling’s views. We accept that the programme failed to challenge these claims and acknowledge that our contributors gave their opinion as fact,” the BBC said.

“This fell below the rigorous editorial standards we’ve applied to our broad coverage of trans and gender recognition stories across BBC Scotland’s news and current affairs output, and we apologise for that.”

The ruling came despite another gamer, Lee Rob, arguing in favor of purchasing Hogwarts Legacy, saying it was “possible to separate the artist from the art.”

A similar discussion about the game on Radio 4’s PM show also failed to meet BBC standards after an attack on Rowling from transgender gamer Stacey Henley went unchallenged. The corporation received 200 complaints about the show and apologized earlier this month….

(4) SOCIAL MEDIA GOES TO DEFCON FOUR. For a thorough breakdown of the Spoutible kefuffle, read Anne Marble’s article at Medium: “Is Spoutible Fighting With Romance Writers and Fans?”

… This may have started with romance author Jackie Barbosa. She had questions about why one of her posts was removed. She was accused of “bullying and harassment” and banned from Spoutible. Her posts were removed by the site (hmm), so she can’t use them to prove her innocence.

Romance and SFF author Olivia Waite also ran into similar problems — before being banned.

Susannah Nix, the author of Pint of Contention, was also banned. She described some of her concerns in this post and in this post.

Many others spoke forth on this, including SFF and romance reader Romancing the NopeZinnia ZAlyssa, and author Beverley Kendall. Plus author Suzanne Brockmann in this post and author KJ Charles in this post.

Romance author (and lawyerCourtney Milan got involved in the debate. She makes great points in her Twitter thread (one of several)….

(5) A BIG DEAL. “Magic: The Gathering Becomes a Billion-Dollar Brand for Toymaker Hasbro” and is celebrated in the New York Times.

…On Thursday, the company announced that Magic had become its first billion-dollar brand in terms of annual sales, surpassing other toy lines in its stable, like Transformers and G.I. Joe.

That milestone was achieved after 30 years of nurturing the game for longtime fans while finding ways to coax new players to pick it up. It was a “winning playbook,” as Chris Cocks, the chief executive of Hasbro, put it in an interview.

Since it was introduced in the mid-1990s, more than 50 million people — including the rapper Post Malone and the actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt — have played Magic in hobby shops and around kitchen tables around the world. The game casts players as wizards who derive their powers by picking cards from the decks they have built, drawing from an ever-expanding universe of cards that are bought, sold and traded in a thriving secondary market. Magic’s popularity has spawned a cottage industry of video games, comic books, a Caribbean cruise and an animated series in development for Netflix.

On Friday, Wizards of the Coast, the Hasbro unit that publishes the game, will kick off MagicCon in Philadelphia.

After the initial buzz when it first appeared, Magic flew under the radar for many years, said Gerrick Johnson, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets who covers the toy industry. “Now you get to see how big it is,” he added. “I don’t think there is any toy brand that is even half that size.”

But Hasbro faces challenges making Magic even bigger, particularly player fatigue brought on by the release of 39 new card sets last year, up from 15 in 2019, according to an analysis by Bank of America. New sets can start around $50….

(6) SET A THIEF… The New York Times says “This Tool Could Protect Artists From A.I.-Generated Art That Steals Their Style”.

…One artist noticed that the whimsical A.I. selfies that came out of the viral app Lensa had ghostly signatures on them, mimicking what the A.I. had learned from the data it trained on: artists who make portraits sign their work. “These databases were built without any consent, any permission from artists,” Mr. Rutkowski said.

Since the generators came out, Mr. Rutkowski said he has received far fewer requests from first-time authors who need covers for their fantasy novels. Meanwhile, Stability AI, the company behind Stable Diffusion, recently raised $101 million from investors and is now valued at over $1 billion.

“Artists are afraid of posting new art,” the computer science professor Ben Zhao said. Putting art online is how many artists advertise their services but now they have a “fear of feeding this monster that becomes more and more like them,” Professor Zhao said. “It shuts down their business model.”

That led Professor Zhao and a team of computer science researchers at the University of Chicago to design a tool called Glaze that aims to thwart A.I. models from learning a particular artist’s style. To design the tool, which they plan to make available for download, the researchers surveyed more than 1,100 artists and worked closely with Karla Ortiz, an illustrator and artist based in San Francisco….

(7) THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE FUNNY. Lucy A. Snyder discusses effective examples and others in “Building Worlds and Creating Mood and Atmosphere” at CrimeReads.

…Creating a deliberately amusing description via exaggeration can pair well with a threatening one, particularly if you’re writing horror comedy or action comedy.

There exists in this world a spider the size of a dinner plate, a foot wide if you include the legs. It’s called the Goliath Bird-Eating Spider, or the “Goliath Fucking Bird-Eating Spider” by those who have actually seen one. …

I don’t know how they catch the birds. I know the Goliath Fucking Bird-Eating Spider can’t fly because if it could, it would have a different name entirely. We would call it “sir” because it would be the dominant species on the planet. None of us would leave the house unless a Goliath Fucking Flying Bird-Eating Spider said it was okay.

—  from This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It by David Wong

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1937[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit: Or There and Back Again has I think one of the most perfect Beginnings I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. It tells the hobbits are creature of comfort, while hinting that one, a Baggins by name, will have an adventure. 

The Hobbit was published eighty six years ago first in the UK by  George Allen & Unwin. The cover which you see below was by Tolkien. 

The first edition differs from latter editions as Tolkien made changes to it after writing the Lord of The Rings to bring into accomandation with those novels. 

Need I see it is one of my favorite novels to read over and over? 

And here is that wonderful Beginning… 

AN UNEXPECTED PARTY 

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats—the hobbit was fond of visitors. The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill—The Hill, as all the people for many miles round called it—and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then on another. No going upstairs for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed on the same passage. The best rooms were all on the left-hand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden, and meadows beyond, sloping down to the river.

This hobbit was a very well-to-do hobbit, and his name was Baggins. The Bagginses had lived in the neighbourhood of The Hill for time out of mind, and people considered them very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also because they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected: you could tell what a Baggins would say on any question without the bother of asking him. This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the neighbours’ respect, but he gained—well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end.

This is the presentation copy that was auctioned by Sotheby’s which is inscribed “Mr and Mrs Livesley | & Edgar | with best wishes | from | J.R.R. Tolkien.”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 21, 1912 Peter Schuyler Miller. He wrote pulp fiction starting in the Thirties, and is generally considered one of the more popular writers of the period. His work appeared in such magazines as Amazing StoriesAstoundingThe Magazine of Fantasy and Science FictionMarvel TalesSuper Science Stories, and Weird Tales to name but a few of the publications he appeared in. He began book reviewing initially for Astounding Science Fiction and later for its successor, Analog. He was awarded a special Hugo Award for book reviewing. He had but two novels, Genus Homo, written with L. Sprague de Camp, and Alicia in Blunderland. (Died 1974.)
  • Born February 21, 1913 Ross Rocklynne. The pen name used by Ross Louis Rocklin, an SF writer active in the Golden Age of the genre. He attended the first WorldCon in 1939. Though he was a regular contributor to several SF magazines including Astounding StoriesFantastic Adventures and Planet Stories, he never achieved the success of fellow writers Isaac Asimov, L. Sprague de Camp and Robert A. Heinlein. ISFDB lists two novels for him, The Day of the Cloud and Pirates of the Time Trail. (Died 1988.)
  • Born February 21, 1935 Richard A. Lupoff. His career started off with Xero, a Hugo winning fanzine he edited with his wife Pat and Bhob Stewart. A veritable who’s who of writers were published there. He also was a reviewer for Algol. To say he was prolific as a professional writer is an understatement as he’s known to have written at least fifty works, plus short fiction, and some non-fiction as well. I’m fond of Sacred Locomotive Flies and The Universal Holmes but your tolerance for his humor may vary. The usual digital suspects stock him deeply at quite reasonable prices. (Died 2020.)
  • Born February 21, 1937 Gary Lockwood, 86. Best remembered for his roles as astronaut Frank Poole in 2001: A Space Odyssey and as Lieutenant Commander Gary Mitchell in the Trek episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. He’s also in The Magic Sword as Sir George which Mystery Science Theatre admitted was pretty good, a rare admission for them. He’s got a number of genre of one-offs including the Earth II pilot ,Mission ImpossibleNight GallerySix Million Dollar Man and MacGyver.
  • Born February 21, 1946 Anthony Daniels, 77. Obviously best known for playing C-3PO in the Star Wars film series. To my knowledge, he’s the only actor to have appeared in all of the productions in the series, no matter what they are. He has scant other genre creds but they are being in I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle as a Priest, voicing C-3PO in The Lego Movie and the same in Ralph Breaks the Internet. Did you know that Season 4, Episode 17 of The Muppet Show is listed as “The Stars of Star Wars” and C-3PO apparently appears on it? 
  • Born February 21, 1949 Frank Brunner, 74. Comics artist whose career started at such venues as CreepyWeb of Horror and Vampirella. Worked later mostly at Marvel Comics on such features as Howard the Duck where he did his artwork for his early features. He also did the art for the Chamber of ChillsHaunt of Horror, and Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction anthologies. In addition, he and Moorcock collaborated on an adaptation of the latter’s sword-and-sorcery hero Elric in Heavy Metal magazine. 
  • Born February 21, 1961 David D. Levine, 62. Winner of the Hugo Award at L.A. Con IV for the Best Short Story for his story “Tk’tk’tk” which you hear over here. He has the most excellent Adventures of Arabella Ashby series which currently is three novels strong. To date, he has had one collection titled Space Magic.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Non Sequitur made me shiver. Though they only set out to make breakfast.

(11) AHH, THE CLASSICS! Last weekend’s Gallifrey One convention in LA made news in Radio Times: “Jodie Whittaker joined by classic companions at Doctor Who convention”.

… As well as a jam-packed roster of programmes, events and incredible costumes, the special convention also saw Jodie Whittaker take to the stage for her first-ever appearance at a dedicated Doctor Who convention.

It’s safe to say that the whole affair was very heartwarming, with Janet Fielding and Sophie Aldred joining the former Doctor on stage at the end of her panel talk….

(12) WHEN YOU WISH UPON A FARR. Charlie Jane Anders Happy Dancing newsletter shares “7 Hot Takes About Star Trek”.

3. The contradiction at the heart of Trek gives it a lot of its power.

Starfleet is simultaneously a militaristic organization loosely modeled on the U.S. Navy, and also a peaceful scientific institution whose members are encouraged to think for themselves and to take up artistic hobbies — as long as they only perform Shakespeare plays or music that someone from the mid-twentieth century would immediately recognize. Some of the most memorable scenes in TNG involve crewmembers who’ve disobeyed orders and get dressed down by Picard or some other officer. That moment when someone reaches the limits of Starfleet tolerance, and discovers that individualism and kindness aren’t always the order of the day, is always super fascinating. This dichotomy also powers a lot of the best Trek dilemmas, which boil down to whether to respond to some new, dangerous phenomenon with curiosity or aggression.

(13) STEAMPUNK DISNEY. Olivia Rutigliano remembers “That Time Disneyland Paris Built a Jules Verne-Themed Space Mountain Ride” at CrimeReads.

…Even with the design retraction and financial constraints, lead imagineer Tim Delaney oversaw the building of a masterpiece. Inside, and out, the ride was a sight to behold. The aesthetic of the whole area was beaux-arts steampunk, both ornate and mechanical: the exterior was shiny copper and steel, with glistening gears. Along the side of the pavilion, there was a giant golden canon, which would shoot the guests “into space” to start the ride. The cars would slingshot forwards and upwards before ducking into the pavilion, zooming around (and upside-down) through space and eventually towards a smiling moon, before hurtling back to earth. It had a full narrative, and its own original score. The coaster was named “Space Mountain: From the Earth to the Moon.” And, for a time, it alone solved the financial problems suffered by EuroDisney (then called “Disneyland Paris”)….

(14) THE STARS COME OUT. The Guardian presents a gallery of cosplay photos: “C-3POs, Wonder Women and a trio of Alices: the stars of cosplay – in pictures”.

(15) WHEN DRACULA KICKED THE HABIT. “Bela Lugosi – His Triumph and Testimony Overcoming Drug Addiction – With Gary D. Rhodes” on YouTube.

Author, film historian, and Bela Lugosi biographer Gary Don Rhodes introduces us to recently rediscovered (2023) footage of Bela Lugosi testifying on the horror of drug addiction in 1955. Bela Lugosi (October 20, 1882 – August 16, 1956), early in his Hollywood career in the 1930s, became addicted to narcotics to battle chronic pain in his legs, originating during his military service, and which had increased in severity over the years. For twenty years, use of morphine as a pain killer, and methadone to combat morphine addiction, with bouts of alcoholism, deteriorated his health and quality of life. In 1955, Lugosi, now in his early 70s, desperately sought help to shed these addictions. By court order in the State of California, Lugosi began treatment at The Metropolitan Hospital in Norwalk, California. The three-month treatment was successful, and Lugosi was “clean”. Lugosi was very keen and very candid about sharing his misfortunes with substance addiction, and was eager to warn the public and advocate for treatment at a time when the subject of drug addiction and treatment wasn’t openly discussed, but “swept under the rug”. We present recently rediscovered footage of Bela Lugosi testifying before a Senate Committee. He appears as a voluntary witness before Senator Price Daniels (D-Tex), a one-man Senate subcommittee, during a hearing on narcotics traffic in Los Angeles, November 16th, 1955. Said Bela Lugosi about his decades-long addiction, and especially the pain of withdrawal and rehabilitation, “…it was hell.”

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

Pixel Scroll 2/10/23 Jetpack Failing, Must Attempt To Pixel To A Safe Scrolling

(1) VINTAGE OR VINEGAR? At Young People Read Old SFF, James Davis Nicoll tasked the panel to read Melancholy Elephants by Spider Robinson. Click through to hear what they thought about it.

Young People Read Old Hugo Finalists focuses on Spider Robinson’s 1982 Hugo-winning ​“Melancholy Elephants”. Readers of my vintage might remember Robinson as the author of the once-popular Callahan’s stories (to which series ​“Melancholy Elephants” does not belong) as well as a prolific reviewer whose pieces appeared in Galaxy, Analog, and Destinies Magazine and no doubt elsewhere. ​“Melancholy Elephants” is a stand-alone focusing on the issue of perpetual copyright. It’s a subject still relevant today. I am curious what the Young People make of Robinson’s story….

(2) IT’S A RISKY BUSINESS. And at Tor.com, James Davis Nicoll picks out “Five SF Stories About Space Scouts and Cosmic Exploration”.

Of all the career paths offered to player characters in the venerable tabletop roleplaying game Traveller, few were as memorable as that of the scout. Stalwart explorers of empire’s hinterlands, scouts could expect a charmingly informal command structure, a good chance of a loaner starship on retirement, and, oh yes, the life expectancy of a newborn puppy in a crocodile-filled swamp. Classic Traveller was notorious for its character generation system: player characters could and often did expire during the process. Few careers offered the harrowing mortality rate of the scout class.

Traveller author Marc Miller drew inspiration from classic science fiction, whose authors delighted in dropping explorers into situations for which the explorers soon discovered they were insufficiently prepared. Here are five tales of the sort  that inspired Traveller….

(3) UNION AND HARPERCOLLINS ANNOUNCE AGREEMENT. Vox’s overview “What the hard-won HarperCollins union contract means for the future of books” actually does little to answer its own question. But it does supply this snapshot of how the strike ended.

…On January 26, HarperCollins management agreed to enter federal mediation with the union. Five days later, it announced that it would be laying off 5 percent of its workforce. A HarperCollins spokesperson attributed the layoffs to supply chain pressures and declining revenue, saying, “The timing had nothing to do with mediation.”

Because HarperCollins is the only union shop among the Big Five, the stakes here are high. It is pushed by necessity to set the labor standards for the rest of the industry: when it raises its wages, Penguin Random House raises its wages too. The hope among supporters both in and out of the union was that the new agreement would spark similar structural changes at the other Big Five houses, and maybe even inspire other houses to unionize.

Finally, at 8 pm on February 9, the union and HarperCollins together announced they had reached a tentative agreement. “The tentative agreement includes increases to minimum salaries across levels throughout the term of the agreement, as well as a one-time $1,500 lump sum bonus to be paid to bargaining unit employees following ratification,” said HarperCollins in a statement. Currently, there’s no word on whether the union also succeeded in bringing in new diversity initiatives or in getting a union security clause. The contract doesn’t become official until it’s ratified….

Publishers Weekly’s coverage put the agreement in perspective with HarperCollins’ recent business reverses: “Deal Reached in HarperCollins Strike as Publisher Has Another Bad Quarter”.

…News of the tentative agreement came shortly after HC parent company News Corp. released financial results for the quarter ended December 31, 2022. The company reported that earnings tumbled 52% at HC, falling to $51 million, from $107 million in the comparable quarter a year ago. Sales dropped 14%, to $531 million.

News Corp. attributed the revenue decline to slowing consumer demand for books, difficult comparisons to a strong frontlist performance a year ago, and “some logistical constraints at Amazon.” In the first quarter of the 2023 fiscal year, HC attributed the decline in sales and earnings largely to a steep drop in orders from Amazon, and in a conference call, News Corp. executives said the negative impact of Amazon on second quarter sales was less than in the first quarter. Sales were down in both print and digital formats.

In addition to lower sales, News attributed the plunge in profits primarily to “ongoing supply chain, inventory, and inflationary pressures on manufacturing, freight, and distribution costs.” A change in the product mix also depressed earnings, with the share of e-book sales falling in the second quarter as that of the the less-profitable print books rose.

With financial results also down in the first quarter, in the first six months of fiscal 2023, profits declined 53%, to $90 million, and sales fell 12%, to $1.02 billion.

Last month, HC began implementing a program to cut its North American workforce by 5% by the end of the fiscal year ending June 30. In a conference call announcing results, News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson said News is making a 5% workforce cut in all its businesses, which will result in the elimination of about 1,250 positions….

(4) KGB. Ellen Datlow shared her photos from the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series event on February 8 at Flickr. Jeff Ford and Marie Vibbert were the evening’s readers.

(5) SKY HIGH DINING. The Torrance (CA) Public Library hosts a Zoom presentation by Richard Foss, “Food in Space in Science Fiction and Reality”, on February 15 at 6:30 p.m. Pacific. Email [email protected] for the invitation link.

Early science fiction stories about space travel ignored the most basic need of any pioneer – what did they eat, and how? The science fiction authors did get around to addressing this question, their solutions were sometimes novel but impractical.

How do their fantasies match up with reality, and are authors getting it right now? Join Richard Foss, author, culinary expert and lecturer as we explore this fascinating subject.

Please email [email protected] for the invitation link to join this discussion on Zoom.

(6) START YOUR OWN INKLINGS. “Writers Need Writers: In the Footsteps of the Inklings” at Inspire Christian Writers.

… Writing is a solitary pursuit. Only the writer understands the intent. Hunched alone over our notepads and computers, we snaggle our words and graft them onto the page, prayerfully hopeful they will touch hearts. But we can’t know the true strength of our writing unless we are willing to share those words with another who will render kind and honest feedback. Our mothers don’t count. Neither does a stranger. One lacks honesty, the other an understanding of the writer’s heart.

Twelve members of the Inklings steadfastly met for almost twenty years. Weathering war and broken friendships, they left us with poetry, Christian essays, and stories that delight and instruct to this day. That’s what I want. I want their journey. How? Here’s some gleanings from Bandersnatch.

[Dr. Diana] Glyer believes it’s possible to have what the Inklings had. Start small but keep at it, she says. The Inklings began with just two, Tolkien and Lewis….

(7) MANTELL OBITUARY. The New York Times marks the passing of the co-creator of a spoken word record business: “Marianne Mantell, Who Helped Pave the Way for Audiobooks, Dies at 93”.

Marianne Mantell, who in her early 20s helped start the audiobook revolution by co-founding a record company [Caedmon] that turned recordings of countless literary giants, including Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and Dylan Thomas, into mass-market entertainment, died on Jan. 22 at her home in Princeton, N.J. She was 93….

… In an era when American business was dominated by Fortune 500 companies, it was rare enough for two recent college graduates to create what was in essence a tech start-up aimed at disrupting two industries, book publishing and the record business. And in an era when those corporate giants were run largely by men in Brooks Brothers suits, it was even more unusual for two women to do so.

“Caedmon was the era’s only female-owned record company, and its remarkable success stood out in a male-dominated record industry,” Mr. Rubery said. “At the time, only around 5 percent of record industry employees were women, and those women were almost all in marketing and retail roles. The rise to the top by two female entrepreneurs represented a remarkable exception.”

As Ms. Mantell wrote in a 2004 remembrance for AudioFile magazine, “Although poets had been recorded before as vanity efforts, it was Barbara and I who realized that there was an audience of literate people and made a business out of it.”

… The labels had no interest, so Ms. Mantell and Ms. Holdridge scratched together $1,800 to start a label of their own, which they christened Caedmon after the seventh-century cowherd considered the first recognized English poet. The company’s slogan: A third dimension for the printed page.”

…“We were not just out to preserve celebrity voices (to the extent that a poet is a celebrity),” she wrote. “Our purpose was literary: to capture on tape as nearly as possible what the poet heard in his head as he wrote.”

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1974[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

I think I read Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed in University when a classmate recommended it. I had a keen interest in politics, particularly those on the Left, so the politics of the novel interested me. 

I think it works much better for its politics than it does for the strength of the character therein. The politics and the set-up of two planets was fascinating though I admit that it’s not a novel by her I’ve re-read, unlike her exemplary Earthsea series. 

It won both a Hugo and a Nebula, and deserved them. 

And with that, here’s the Beginning…

THERE was a wall. It did not look important. It was built of uncut rocks roughly mortared. An adult could look right over it, and even a child could climb it. Where it crossed the roadway, instead of having a gate it degenerated into mere geometry, a line, an idea of boundary. But the idea was real. It was important. For seven generations there had been nothing in the world more important than that wall. 

Like all walls it was ambiguous, two-faced. What was inside it and what was outside it depended upon which side of it you were on. 

Looked at from one side, the wall enclosed a barren sixty-acre field called the Port of Anarres. On the field there were a couple of large gantry cranes, a rocket pad, three warehouses, a truck garage, and a dormitory. The dormitory looked durable, grimy, and mournful; it had no gardens, no children; plainly nobody lived there or was even meant to stay there long. It was in fact a quarantine. The wall shut in not only the landing field but also the ships that came down out of space, and the men that came on the ships, and the worlds they came from, and the rest of the universe. It enclosed the universe, leaving Anarres outside, free. 

Looked at from the other side, the wall enclosed Anarres: the whole planet was inside it, a great prison camp, cut off from other worlds and other men, in quarantine.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 10, 1904 Lurton Blassingame. Literary agent for Heinlein. He makes the birthday list because Grumbles from the Grave has more letters to Blassingame than to any other correspondent. And even some of Blassingames’s letters to Heinlein are included. (Died 1988.)
  • Born February 10, 1906 Lon Chaney Jr., 1906 – 1973. I certainly best remember him as  playing Larry Talbot in The Wolf Man but he has a lot of other roles as well: The Ghost of Frankenstein as The Monster (hey, correct billing!), The Mummy’s Tomb as The Mummy Kharis or Son of Dracula as Count Dracula, he played all the great monsters, often multiple times. (Died 1973.)
  • Born February 10, 1920 Robert Park Mills. He was the managing editor of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine beginning in 1948 and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction the following year. He also edited Venture Science Fiction for several years. Under him, F&SF won an impressive three Hugo Awards for best magazine in 1959, 1960 and 1963. (Died 1986.)
  • Born February 10, 1929 Jerry Goldsmith. Composer whose music graces many a genre undertaking including, and this is not complete listing, AlienStar Trek: The Motion PicturePoltergeistPlanet of the ApesThe Man from U.N.C.L.E. series, Star Trek: VoyagerThe MummyThe Twilight Zone (need I say the original series?) and he even did the music for Damnation Alley! (Died 2004.)
  • Born February 10, 1953 John Shirley, 70. I not going to even attempt a complete précis of his career. I read and much enjoyed his first novel City Come A-Walkin and oddly enough his Grimm: The Icy Touch is damn good too in way many of those sharecropped novels aren’t. I see that to my surprise he wrote a episode of Deep Space Nine, “Visionary” and also wrote three episodes of the ‘12 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. His latest novel which I’ve not read so do tell me about it is A Sorcerer of Atlantis.
  • Born February 10, 1967 Laura Dern, 56. I’m going to note she’s in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet as Sandy Williams which is not genre but which is one weird film. Jurassic Park where she is Dr. Ellie Sattler is her first SF film followed by Jurassic Park III and a name change to Dr. Ellie Degler.  Such are the things movie trivia is made of. Star Wars: The Last Jedi has her showing as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo.  I think her first genre appearance was on Shelley Duvall’s Nightmare Classic.
  • Born February 10, 1970 Robert Shearman, 53. He wrote the episode of Who called “Dalek” which was nominated for the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form at L.A. Con IV. (There were three Who entries that year and “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances” won.) His first book, a collection of short stories called Tiny Deaths was a World Fantasy Award winner. He’s written a lot of short fiction since then, collected helpfully into two collections, Remember Why You Fear Me: The Best Dark Fiction of Robert Shearman and They Do the Same Things Different There: The Best Weird Fantasy of Robert Shearman. Some, but by no means all, of his works are up at the usual suspects.
  • Born February 10, 1976 Keeley Hawes, 47. Ms Delphox/Madame Karabraxos in my favorite Twelfth Doctor story “Time Heist”.  She also played Zoe Reynolds in MI5 which is at least genre adjacent given where the story went. She has also provided the voice of Lara Croft in a series of Tomb Raider video games. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side is present at the Creation.
  • Edge City tries to figure out what all the remotes are for.
  • Sheldon predicts who will be AI art’s mortal enemy.
  • Sheldon also illustrates the limits of dog science.

(11) SHORT REVIEWS. Lisa Tuttle supplies “The best recent science fiction and fantasy – reviews roundup” for the Guardian. The four titles covered this time are Hopeland by Ian McDonald; Ten Planets by Yuri Herrera; Observer by Robert Lanza and Nancy Kress; and Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett.

(12) PLAYING GAMES. Them is reporting that “Hogwarts Legacy Features the Harry Potter Franchise’s First Trans Character”.

Now that the review embargo for Hogwarts Legacy is up, more details about the forthcoming Harry Potter role-playing game, set to release on Friday, are surfacing. One particularly noteworthy new fact? The inclusion of a transgender non-playable character (or NPC) named Sirona Ryan, whom players can find at the Three Broomsticks pub.

The news came courtesy of a gameplay clip shared by YouTuber Doctor Gramma, in which Sirona serves a pair of characters Butterbeer and remarks upon a recent, unspecified attack on Hogwarts. Although Sirona was not confirmed as trans in the clip itself, Entertainment Weekly and other outlets have since reported on in-game dialogue referencing her transition. Speaking about her former classmates, the barkeep reportedly says,  “Took them a second to realize I was actually a witch, not a wizard.”

Given Potter author J.K. Rowling’s well-documented transphobia, Sirona’s presence is unexpected, to say the least. Some in the video game world are even claiming the character was included in hopes of quelling a boycott from gamers who have chosen not to play the game based on Rowling’s dangerous anti-trans platform.

“An old acquaintance did some work on that Hogwarts game,” YouTuber Stephanie Sterling tweeted early Monday morning. “I’m told they added a token trans NPC to pivot the conversation away from JKR. They’re barely in it.”

“Did You Know Gaming” contributor and video game historian Liam Robertson backed up Sterling’s account, writing, “I was also told this. There was apparently some trans representation added after some of the initial controversy. I don’t know how it appears in the final product but one of the sources I talked to described it as ‘performative bullshit.’”…

(13) YOU’RE FIRED. While Elon Musk was making news for firing a Twitter engineer, his SpaceX was getting attention for test-firing an engine: “SpaceX Test Fires 31 Engines on the Most Powerful Rocket Ever” in the New York Times.

SpaceX moved one step closer to its future on Thursday with a successful ground test of the engines of the most powerful rocket ever built.

The company, founded by the entrepreneur Elon Musk, conducted what is known as a static fire of Super Heavy, a massive rocket booster. Super Heavy was made to send SpaceX’s next-generation Starship vehicle toward orbit before returning to Earth.

More than 110,000 people watched a livestream broadcast by NASASpaceFlight.com, an independent space media company that has cameras monitoring the Starship test site in Boca Chica, Texas. The video feed showed clouds of vapor enveloping the launch stand when propellants started flowing into the rocket, and rings of frost forming around the rocket as the tanks filled with ultracold propellants.

Then the clouds mostly vanished when the fueling was complete — for the brief test, the tanks were not filled to the brim.

At 4:14 p.m. Eastern time, on a video feed provided by SpaceX, the engines roared to life for a few seconds and shut down, kicking up that rose clouds above the rocket and prompting masses of birds to flee the area. An update on Twitter from SpaceX indicated the test was a success, lasting as long as intended. The booster and launch stand appeared to be in good shape afterward.

(14) APOLOGIES. JUPITER-SIZED ERROR. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] I have to correct a stupid error I made in yesterday’s piece about one of the most distant exo-planet detected and first space-based detection of an exo-planet using gravitational lensing. It was not the close to smallest theoretical-sized Jupiter — close to the host mass threshold below which Jupiters are not expected to form.  Instead, it was somewhat surprising to find a Jupiter-sized exoplanet around such a small star (a little over half the mass of the Sun).  It is thought that the planetary mass around small stars is smaller than the planetary mass around larger stars. So to have a Jupiter-sized planet orbiting such a small star is a little unusual and close to the theoretical limit.

The error came about because I only quickly scan/read the abstracts of papers of interest at a cybercafé and then blat an e-mail off to Mike, and I only subsequently read papers in detail when I get home.  Also, since we (SF2 Concatenation) lost our much missed physics and space science editor, I have taken over that coverage in addition to that of the bio- and geosciences about which I am more sure-footed.

See Specht, D. et al, (2023) “Kepler K2 Campaign 9: II. First space-based discovery of an exoplanet using microlensing”. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, stad212.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Honest Game Trailers gives its brutally frank opinion of “Fire Emblem Engage”.

…Discover yet another fantasy Kingdom on the brink of inevitable War as you take control of a protagonist so anime that they are actually a dragon, an amnesiac, and also a God who looks like a deviantART character where you took two cheesy anime protagonists and smashed them together in a hydraulic press…

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Ellen Datlow, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Dann, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy  for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day by Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 1/5/23 Plant-Based Baloney Weighed The Solar-Powered Raven Down

(1) OF LANDINGS UNSTUCK. The New York Times’ Carlo Rotella reminds us of the power of words in “Good Fantasy Writing Is Pure Magic”.

As I watched last fall’s showdown of TV’s big-money epic fantasy franchises, I was wincingly reminded that language is the most underrated special effect. Unforced errors of word choice — loose talk of “focus” and “stress” in HBO’s “House of the Dragon,” for example — kept pulling me down from my fantasy high and into the diction of emails from human resources. Case in point: “I have pursued this foe since before the first sunrise bloodied the sky,” says the elf warrior-princess Galadriel in Amazon’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.” “It would take longer than your lifetime even to speak the names of those they have taken from me.” She’s adrift on a life raft with a mysterious stranger after a sea-monster attack, and certain dark intimations suggest that eldritch evil draws nigh. So far, so OK, but then her speech reaches its climax: “So letting it lie is not an option.”

Clangalang! Descending from a tagline fashioned by writers of the movie “Apollo 13” from something a NASA flight director said, “X is not an option” has become a staple of business-speak and coach-talk. The writers of Galadriel’s speech couldn’t have killed the buzz any deader if they’d followed up with, “I’m all about laserlike focus 24-7 on getting some closure on this whole Sauron thing.” …

(2) INTERZONE NEWS. [Item by Andrew Porter.] The new version of Interzone now has a website — https://interzone.press/ — which has the covers and Tables of Contents for the next three issues (294 to 296) coming in January, March and May 2023. The style of the covers is certainly quite a change.

(3) WHO RULES? James Davis Nicoll puts a claim to the test in “SF and Fantasy Governments: A Semi-Scientific Survey” at Tor.com.

…Are science fiction and fantasy as rife with autocracies as some have implied? Or is this merely an illusion, one to which I might be subject because I am personally rather tired of autocratic settings?

It’s been nearly a year since my project began. The results are not quite as I expected….

(4) MAY I BUY A VOWEL? Apparently from now on I will be saying it was Turkiye where I ate Turkish Delight in 2004. “US changes to Turkey’s preferred spelling at ally’s request” reports MSN.com.

The [State] department has instructed that new official documents refer to Turkiye instead of Turkey, although the pronunciation will not change, officials said. But neither the State Department website nor the Foreign Affairs Manual, which guides U.S. diplomatic practices, had been revised to reflect the change as of midday Thursday.

“The Turkish embassy requested that the U.S. government use the name “Republic of Turkiye” in communications,” the department said. “We will begin to refer to Turkiye and Republic of Turkiye accordingly in most formal, diplomatic, and bilateral contexts, including in public communications.”

The move comes ahead of an expected visit to Washington later this month by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu during which Turkey’s position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its resistance to allowing Finland and Sweden to join NATO will be high on the agenda.

(5) THE MONEY KEEPS ROLLING IN. It sells tickets whether or not critics love it. Deadline has the numbers: “‘Avatar: The Way Of Water’ Tops $1.5B Global, Becomes No. 10 Highest-Grossing Film Of All Time [Worldwide]” .

James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water, as expected (see below), has exceeded $1.5B globally with Wednesday’s figures included. The running total through yesterday is $1,516.5M, meaning that it has overtaken Top Gun: Maverick as the No. 1 worldwide release of 2022. What’s more, it is now the No. 10 biggest movie ever globally.

The 20th Century Studios/Disney sci-fi epic has also in the past day crossed Furious 7 worldwide. Today, it will pass The Avengers to claim the No. 9 spot on the all-time global chart. 

Internationally, it is the No. 9 biggest movie ever, and, in Europe, is the highest-grosser of the pandemic era (having passed Spider-Man: No Way Home). It is also the No. 5 release of all time for the region…. 

(6) MEDICAL UPDATE. Jeremy Renner tweets video update ICU. View it at the link: “A ‘not no great’ ICU DAY, turned to amazing spa day with my sis and mama”.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille has the best matzo ball soup in the galaxy. Lots of garlic, matzo balls with just the right consistency to absorb the flavor, big chunks of chicken, and the whole of it seasoned to a biting perfection. One bowl, along with maybe a couple of tamales, will usually do for a meal.

As for entertainment, Feng gets some of the best Irish musicians you’ll ever hear—good instrumental backing, fine singing, some stupendous fiddle playing, and driving energy. Hell, some of the songs are actually Irish.

— Steven Brust’s Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille

Warning: very mild spoilers by inference. H’h

The novel is, to put it charitably, not one of his better efforts though the food and music scenes are wonderful. Think I’m being harsh? Let’s ask the author:

Not one of my better efforts, I think, but there are bits of it I like. It started out to be funny, developed a serious side, and I was never able to get the elements to blend the way I wanted them to. Grumble grumble. It’s always pleasant to run into someone who liked this book; it means that I can still do all right when I’m not on my game.

I wrote a terrible harsh review of it that I’ll not link that I thought Brust would hate but he wrote me an email saying that even he didn’t like the novel. But his scenes of the characters eating are fantastic: 

Cecil’s? It was a small place with a lot of mirrors and chrome and a little bit of an antiseptic feeling. The food was good, though. We had something that tasted like oyster soup and almost was, then she had a small salad and I had something with beef and mushrooms in a sherry sauce. No complaints.

They also drink a lot of coffee and I do mean a lot of it. They must have sacks of beans in this interstellar hopping cafe. And a hell of a roaster. 

So it’s reading for these scenes and the Irish music scenes herein. The SF story? Well, not so much, say me and the author. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 5, 1929 Russ Manning. An artist who created and drew the Gold Key comic book character Magnus: Robot Fighter; who drew the Tarzan comic book from 1965–1969 and the Tarzan newspaper comic strip from 1967 – 1972; and the Star Wars newspaper strip from 1979–1980. (Died 1981.) (bill) 
  • Born January 5, 1940 Jennifer Westwood. Folklorist who I’m including on the Birthday Honors List (if the King can have such a list, I can too) for one of her works in particular, Albion: Guide to Legendary Britain as it has a genre connection that will take some explaining. Ever hear of the band from Minnesota called Boiled in Lead? Well they took their name from a local legend in that tome about a man that was wrapped in lead and plunged in a vat of scalding oil so that he now stands forever in a circle of stones. Among the genre folk that have had a role in the band are Emma Bull, Steven Brust, Adam Stemple, Jane Yolen and Will Shetterly. (Died 2008.)
  • Born January 5, 1941 Hayao Miyazaki, 82. A masterful storyteller who chose animation as his medium. He co-founded Studio Ghibli in 1985 and has directed some of the best loved films of all time. His films include the Oscar winning film Spirited AwayMy Neighbor Tortoro, and adapting the classic novel Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones for the big screen.  (Matt Russell)
  • Born January 5, 1959 Clancy Brown, 64. I first encountered him as the voice of Lex Luthor in the DC animated universe. All of his voice roles are far too extensive to list here, but I’ll single out his work as Savage Opress, Count Dooku’s new apprentice and Darth Maul’s brother, in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  Very selected live roles include Rawhide in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, The Kurgan in Highlander, Sheriff Gus Gilbert in Pet Sematary Two, Captain Byron Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption, Sgt. Charles Zim in Starship Troopers and, one of my favorite weird series, Brother Justin Crowe in Carnivàle.
  • Born January 5, 1966 Tananarive Due, 57. I’m particularly fond of her short fiction which you can find in her BFA winning Ghost Summer collection which also won the Carl Brandon Kindred Award. The Good House and The Between are novels are worth reading for having strong African-American characters.
  • Born January 5, 1975 Bradley Cooper, 48. He’d be here just for voicing Rocket Raccoon in the MCU. In fact he is here just for that role. Mind you he’ll have voiced him six times by that Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 3 comes out, so I’d say he’s got him spot perfect.
  • Born January 5, 1978 Seanan McGuire, 45. Ahhhh, one of my favorite writers. I just finished re-listening to her Sparrow Hill Road stories which was are excellent and earlier I’d read her much of InCryptid series, both of her Indexing books which are beyond amazing and I hope she does more of. 

(9) PROTO WRITING’S EARLIER BEGINNING LEARNED. “Mystery of ancient dots and stripes on Europe’s caves is solved” reports Yahoo!

For decades, researchers had suspected that the seemingly random dots and stripes on cave paintings across Europe contained a hidden meaning, yet they were unable to decipher them.

Now, thanks to the work of a pioneering amateur, the code has been cracked and archaeologists believe that a wave of discoveries is set to tumble forth.

The first great revelation is that ancient humans were using the paintings to track the mating and birthing seasons of wild animals such as cattle, horses and mammoths….

For example, paintings of aurochs, wild ancestors of modern cattle, in Spain had four dots on them. This showed that they were mating four months after “bonne saison” or Paleolithic spring.

Prof Pettitt and Prof Bob Kentridge, also at Durham, helped confirm the findings by proving that there was almost no statistical chance of the results being coincidental.

By showing that the dots were more than just a simple tally, for example of hunting kills, the research has revealed a much higher level of thought among hunter-gatherers said Prof Pettitt…

(10) A THOUGHT EXPERIMENT. John L Ford is a lifelong fan turned author of Science Fiction. He hails from a background in Natural Sciences having a degree in Meteorology. His novel Dominion is an escape into the analogy of Artificial Intelligence.

Where the corrosive power of time failed, Dominion begins. Unable to wear down the chains of grief left in the wake of losing her and stuck in the quagmire of postmortem morosity, Colton is on the verge of hanging his legacy upon the gallery walls of dimmed mediocrity in the museum of unknown history. Then, it happens.

A flash of insight, as though spoken from the grave, it becomes the guiding light; one desperately needed to reinvent purpose and meaning. It is so much of what she meant to him shining through, that internal voice from the past, that it strikes him with an idea so profound it could only result in the ensuing research. Is it fiction or reality?

Leonardo da Vinci visualized flying machines, and the essential aspects of that ‘fiction’ became fact. And just as the genetics of his ideas evolved into man-made dragonflies and humming birds, Colton Reinholt, a physicist, with a unique mind for synthesis, drafts an idea, too.

Borrowed by observation of actual physiological biology, he uses solid state physics to reconstruct a natural paradigm only ever achieved by evolution’s miracle, the human mind. Thus, what emerges in this physical and ethereal journey simply must carry more than mere soupcon of riveting plausibility.

So, through accelerating technological forces on the world often charging boldly before compunction, we are compelled by our own evolution to satisfy an unstoppable desire for discovery. What is really meant by the phrase, ‘Artificial Intelligence’? This is what we adventure through experimental exploration into the energy of the mind.

What begins as an innocent thought experiment, frolicsome dabbling fuses with technical knowhow and its synthesis results in a fantastic gestalt. By bridging disparate scientific disciplines, it ultimately gives rise to a power that may either become benevolent or malevolent. For despite all human conceits, the answer to the question of good versus evil is not one we are capable to define.

Available from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

(11) ROBORAPTORS. Behind a paywall in Nature, “A robotic bird of prey scares off nuisance flocks in a flash – and they don’t seem to get wise to the deception”. “Plagued by problem birds? Call RobotFalcon!”

Birds that hit aeroplane windscreens or are sucked into jet engines can cause accidents and costly damage, so airfields work to keep birds — particularly flocking birds — away. Trained falcons are more effective than scarecrows, but are expensive to keep and need to rest between patrols.

Rolf Storms at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and his colleagues designed a robotic raptor to take over the task.

Collisions between birds and airplanes can damage aircrafts, resulting in delays and cancellation of flights, costing the international civil aviation industry more than 1.4 billion US dollars annually.

The RobotFalcon is a practical and ethical solution to drive away birdflocks with all advantages of live predators but without their limitations.

Primary research here.

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Adam Savage, in this video which dropped Sunday, continues his trip to London examining an original Christopher Reeve Superman suit and how they built such suits before Spandex was invented.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/5/22 I Am Not The Rest Of The Robots

(1) NOMINATIONS OPEN FOR 58TH NEBULA AWARDS. Full, Associate, and Senior members of SFWA are eligible to submit a nomination ballot for the Nebula Awards. Nominations may be cast online or by post. Ballots must be received by February 28, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific.

(2) CHECKING ON WOOSTER CASE. File 770 followed up with Virginia authorities about the WAVY report on the death of Martin Morse Wooster, “State Police ID suspect in York County hit-and-run”.  

Sergeant Michelle Anaya of the Virginia State Police replied, “In reference to your email…. An arrest has not been made, still under investigation.”

(3) ONE IS THE LONELIEST NUMBER. “Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, and dozens of other famous authors shared stories of their worst book signing disasters to comfort an up-and-coming author” at Yahoo!

For debut author Chelsea Banning, an ill-attended book signing may have turned out to be a big break.

Banning, whose debut book is titled “Of Crowns and Legends” – a fantasy novel following two of King Arthur’s twins as war looms – vented on Twitter yesterday about her first-ever signing event. She shared that while 37 people had RSVP’d, only two showed up. “Kind of upset, honestly,” the Ohio-based librarian tweeted, “and a little embarrassed.”

It was a sentiment that resonated with writers of all sizes and genres, inspiring some of literature’s most prominent names – including Neil Gaiman, Jodi Picoult, Cheryl Strayed, and Margaret Atwood – to share their own humbling experiences of book signings gone awry.

“Terry Pratchett and I did a signing in Manhattan for ‘Good Omens’ that nobody came to at all,” wrote Gaiman. “So you are two up on us.”

“I have sat lonely at a signing table many times only to have someone approach…and ask me where the bathroom is,” added Picoult.

“Join the club,” said Atwood. “I did a signing to which nobody came, except a guy who wanted to buy some Scotch tape and thought I was the help.”…

(4) THEY’RE HISTORY. James Davis Nicoll extols “Five Cold War Classics in Which the U.S. Has Been Toppled” at Tor.com.

Some of you might find the concept of hostility between different modes of government (such as those of, say, the US and Russia) as outdated as Ottoman and Hapsburg rivalries. But back in the day, the Cold War was a source of inspiration to many SF authors. A number of authors speculated as to what would happen if the US government were subverted or overturned by conquest. Too bizarre to contemplate? Not so, as these five Cold War classics show.

First on his list is this most ingenious choice –

The Mouse That Roared by Leonard Wibberley (1955)

The Grand Duchy of Fenwick is an unlikely world power, being as it is a low-population, land-locked pocket kingdom whose meagre economy is dependent on the export of a single luxury product, Pinot Grand Fenwick. The Grand Duchy’s bold scheme depends on their weakness….

(5) RELEASE PARTY FOR APEX 2021. Space Cowboy Books will host an online interview with Apex Magazine editors Jason Sizemore and Lesley Conner on Tuesday, December 6, 2022, 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free here.

With stories by Alix E. Harrow, Sam J. Miller, Sheree Renée Thomas, Cassandra Khaw, and many more, Apex Magazine 2021 is a collection of darkly beautiful tales appearing originally in Apex Magazine January-December 2021. From a spaceship in the far-flung reaches of space to a cozy living room where a detective interviews a killer, this anthology explores the good and the ugly. It dissects what makes us human versus what makes us monsters.

Within these pages, you will meet a golem that doesn’t know how to save its family, a group of robots debating whether they are alive, and a woman striving for that social media-perfect life. From parasitic twins to a hospital dreamscape, to a town full of people wearing masks, this anthology will take you on journeys you never could have expected.

Come with us and discover the 48 surreal, strange, shocking, and beautiful stories in Apex Magazine 2021.

(6) YOUR AI CO-CREATOR. Andrew Mayne discusses the broader implications of “Collaborative Creative Writing with OpenAI’s ChatGPT”. Daniel Dern pundits, “This is what happens when ChatBots spend too much time playing Colossal Cave (aka ‘Adventure’).”

tl;dr: You can use OpenAI’s ChatGPT to bounce ideas around and write story outlines

Since I got into the field of AI and started working at OpenAI, it’s been interesting to see how things have accelerated. As an author, I’m frequently asked if AI will replace writers altogether. My personal take is that while AI may begin to do more creative writing and produce content on par with humans, it can never replace the fact that we often like what we like, not because of some objective measure, but because of the story of the person who wrote it. A lot of the things we like are because the person who created them is interesting. I like reading Stephen King books because they’re quite good and I find Stephen King fascinating. While an AI might be able to produce a song on the same level as Billie Eillish, it won’t have the same compelling personal journey as she does.

The future looks like it’s going to be a mixture of human and AI content. Some of it will be created by AI and where we care only about its objective value, some by humans where their personal narrative adds meaning and then content that’s collaboratively produced by creative humans and clever AI – which will mix together the best of both worlds….

(7) QUARK AND THE BARD. The Antaeus Theatre Company offers “Masterclass: Shakespeare’s Rhetoric with Armin Shimerman” on January 21 from 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Pacific. Are you not intrigued?

Join Armin Shimerman on January 21, 2023, as he delves into Shakespeare’s style and the different literary devices and strategies used in Shakespeare’s plays. Students will leave the two and a half hour Masterclass with a better understanding of England as Shakespeare knew it. This Masterclass is intended for actors, directors, students, theater-lovers, and anyone who has ever wanted to learn more about Shakespeare!

Armin Shimerman is a highly regarded actor and is best known to television audiences as Quark, on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Plus 80 different Guest Star roles, including Antaeus the Nox on Stargate, Principal Snyder on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Judge Hooper on Boston Legal. On Broadway: Threepenny Opera; St. Joan; I Remember Mama, and Broadway. Selected Regional Theater: King Lear (Fool), Road to Mecca (Marius),The Seafarer (Blind Irishman -San Diego Critics Circle Award for Best Actor: San Diego Repertory); Richard III, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Merry Wives of Windsor (San Diego Old Globe);Henry V (American Shakespeare Festival) and recently Polonius (Hamlet) and the Porter ( Macbeth) at the Utah Shakespeare festival. For Antaeus, he has taught, acted, and co-directed both the “Crucible” and last year’s production of “Measure for Measure. ”He is an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California (USC) where he teaches Shakespeare to Theater BFAs. In addition, he has two novels about the early days of William Shakespeare entitled “Illyria” published and currently on sale with a third due next year. He has given lectures on Shakespeare to thousands of people.

(8) STUFF AND BOOKS. Paul Wells wonders if he’s ready for “The Rideau Centre Indigo Store” which has superseded his familiar local bookstore.

…But how far does Ruis, who’s also said “the days of just browsing bookshelves are behind us,” plan to go? I realized my city would soon get a test case when this sign appeared, at the end of September, in a window of the old Chapters downtown Ottawa flagship store at Rideau and Sussex, now shuttered:

…This sign inspired the excited/doomed feel I’ve come to associate with life in the 21st century. Who wouldn’t want “a brand-new state of the art Indigo store” a stone’s throw from the office? I’m definitely in favour of “everything you love and more,” and I’m not, per se, against “lifestyle products and inspiring displays.” I’ve been spotted inside the odd Williams-Sonoma too, you know. The reference to “a curated assortment of books” did made me wonder. Did that mean, like, six books?

Last night I saw that the brand-new state of the art Indigo store at the Rideau Centre shopping mall, across from the old Chapters, is open. I popped in. Here’s what I found.

… Whew. I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit winded after seeing two displays of books in a bookstore. Fortunately, I came upon this oasis, the section where there’s paper without anything written on it….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2002 [By Cat Eldridge.] Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden 

Today we are going Seussian. The Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden is a sculpture garden in Springfield, Massachusetts that honors Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known to the world as Dr. Seuss. Located at the Quadrangle, a group of cultural buildings in that city.

The Spring Seuss Organisation notes, “Opened in 2002, the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden was first envisioned when Ted Geisel visited Springfield in 1986. After his death in 1991, his wife Audrey authorized the creation of the memorial and provided major support for the project. In 1996, Ted’s stepdaughter, noted sculptor Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, was selected to make over 30 bronze statues for the Museums’ grounds.”

I of course am going, with the indulgence of Mike, to show you all of them, as they are quite, well, Seussian. We have life-sized bronze statues of the Horton, Grinch and Max, Cat in the Hat, Yertle the Turtle, Thing 1 and Thing 2 and the Lorax—and the author himself. 

The first is Dr. Seuss and the Cat in the Hat, titled Dr. Seuss and the Cat in the Hat: The title character of The Cat in the Hat standing alongside Dr. Seuss at his desk.

The Storyteller: A chair placed in front of a 10-foot-tall book with the text of Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, the title character from Gertrude McFuzz, and beside it, the Grinch and his dog, Max.

This one is called Horton Court with Horton the Elephant from Horton Hears a Who! steps out of an open book accompanied by various ancillary characters from other Dr. Seuss stories, including Thing 1 and Thing 2 from The Cat in the Hat.

The Lorax: The title character from The Lorax stands on a tree stump with the book’s refrain: Unless… Unlike the rest of these, this statue is located in front of the Springfield Science Museum. 

And finally, Yertle the Turtle: a 10-foot-tall tower of turtles, from Yertle the Turtle, which introduces visitors to the Quadrangle from the arch on Chestnut Street. The troll from my previous post would be proud of these I think as I think they look like troll companions. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 5, 1890 — Fritz Lang. Metropolis of course, but also Woman in the Moon (German Frau im Mond) considered to be one of the first “serious” SF films. I saw Metropolis in one of those art cinemas in Seattle in the late Seventies. It’s most excellent I think. (Died 1976.)
  • Born December 5, 1901 — Walt Disney. With Ub Iwerks, he developed the character Mickey Mouse in 1928; he also provided the voice for his creation in the early years. During Disney’s lifetime his studio produced features such as Snow White and the Seven DwarfsPinocchioFantasiaDumbo, and BambiCinderella and Mary Poppins, the latter of which received five Academy Awards. In 1955 he opened Disneyland. In the Fifties he also launched television programs, such as Walt Disney’s Disneyland and The Mickey Mouse Club. In 1965, he began development of another theme park, Disney World, and the “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow” (EPCOT).  I’ll pick Fantasia as my favorite film that he’s responsible for though I’m also very fond of Cinderella and Mary Poppins. (Died 1966.)
  • Born December 5, 1921 — Alvy Moore. He shows up first in a genre role uncredited as Zippy in The War of the Worlds. (He was also uncredited in The Girls of Pleasure Island that same year.) He’s again uncredited, as a scientist this time, in The Invisible Boy (aka S.O.S Spaceship) and The Gnome-Mobile saw his continue that streak as a Gas Mechanic. The Brotherhood of Satan saw him get a credit role as did The Witchmaker, both all budget horror films. He’s listed as having co-written and produced, along with LQ Jones, A Boy and His Dog, the Ellison originated film. (Died 1997.)
  • Born December 5, 1951 — Susan Palermo-PiscatelloSF Site in its obit said that she was “was active in fandom in the early 1970s, taking pictures that appeared in The Monster Times and working for the company that brought Japanese monster films, including Battle for the Planets and Time of the Apes to the US. She was among the first bartenders at CBGB and was in the band Cheap Perfume. She had recently returned to fandom after several years of gafiation.” (Died 2011.)
  • Born December 5, 1951 — Betsy Wollheim, 71. President, co-Publisher and co-Editor-in-Chief of DAW Books. Winner, along with her co-Publisher and co-Editor-in-Chief Sheila E. Gilbert, of a Hugo Award  at Chicon 7 for Long Form Editing. In the early Nineties, they won two Chesley Awards for best art direction.
  • Born December 5, 1961 — Nicholas Jainschigg, 61. Teacher, Artist and Illustrator. He began his career by doing covers and interior art for Asimov’s and Analog magazines, then progressed to covers for books and other magazines, eventually providing art for Wizards of the Coast gaming materials and for Marvel and DC Comics. As an Associate Professor for the Rhode Island School of Design, his private work these days is mainly in animations, interactive illustration, painting in oils, and paleontological reconstructions in murals and dioramas.
  • Born December 5, 1973 — Christine Stephen-Daly, 49. Her unpleasant fate as Lt. Teeg on Farscape literally at the hands of her commanding officer Crais was proof if you still need it that this series wasn’t afraid to push boundaries of such things of cringe-causing violence. She was also Miss Meyers in the two part “Sky” story on The Sarah Jane Adventures

(11) LANGUAGE TRUE OR FALSE. Would you say these verb choices are consistent American English idioms? When telling about a movie — “I saw The Fabelmans”. But about a TV show – “I watched Saturday Night Live”.  Saw a movie versus watched something on TV.

(12) COLD AS MICE. Are we getting close to the point where something like human hibernation could make space travel easier? WIRED presents “The Hibernator’s Guide to the Galaxy”.

One day in 1992, near the northern pole of a planet hurtling around the Milky Way at roughly 500,000 miles per hour, Kelly Drew was busy examining some salmon brains in a lab. Her concentration was broken when Brian Barnes, a zoophysiology professor from down the hall at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, popped by her bench for a visit. With a mischievous grin, he asked Drew—a neuropharmacologist early in her career—to hold out her hands and prepare for a surprise. A moment later, she felt a hard, furry lump deposited in her palms. It was some sort of brown rodent with dagger-like claws, curled up into a tight ball and so cold to the touch that Drew assumed it was dead. To her astonishment, Barnes gleefully explained that it was actually in perfect health.

An Arctic ground squirrel—the most extreme hibernator on the planet—can spend up to eight months a year in a torpid state.

The creature, an Arctic ground squirrel, was just hibernating, as it does for up to eight months of the year. During that span, the animal’s internal temperature falls to below 27 degrees Fahrenheit, literally as cold as ice. Its brain waves become so faint that they’re nearly impossible to detect, and its heart beats as little as once per minute. Yet the squirrel remains very much alive. And when spring comes, it can elevate its temperature back to 98.6 degrees in a couple of hours.

Drew cradled the unresponsive critter in her hands, unable to detect even the faintest signs of life. What’s going on inside this animal’s brain that allows it to survive like this? she wondered. And with that question, she began to burrow into a mystery that would carry her decades into the future….

(13) SFWA INDIE AUTHOR TOWN HALL. SFWA’s Independent Authors Committee held a town hall on November 10. Video of the event is now online.

Kelly McClymer and John Wilker, members of the SFWA Independent Authors Committee, were joined by Emily Mah, SFWA Editorial Director, to take the temperature of the attending indie author community on hurdles they deal with regarding online retailers. The feedback provided during this town hall will be used by the committee to help direct future advocacy work for SFF independent authors.

(14) PRESENT SHORTLY AFTER THE CREATION. From Library of America, “Story of the Week: Eve’s Diary” by Mark Twain, first published in 1905.

…For I do love moons, they are so pretty and so romantic. I wish we had five or six; I would never go to bed; I should never get tired lying on the moss-bank and looking up at them.

Stars are good, too. I wish I could get some to put in my hair. But I suppose I never can. You would be surprised to find how far off they are, for they do not look it. When they first showed, last night, I tried to knock some down with a pole, but it didn’t reach, which astonished me; then I tried clods till I was all tired out, but I never got one. It was because I am left-handed and cannot throw good. Even when I aimed at the one I wasn’t after I couldn’t hit the other one, though I did make some close shots, for I saw the black blot of the clod sail right into the midst of the golden clusters forty or fifty times, just barely missing them, and if I could have held out a little longer maybe I could have got one….

(15) HAILING FREQUENCY. “’Are we alone in the universe?’: work begins in Western Australia on world’s most powerful radio telescopes” reports the Guardian.

Construction of the world’s largest radio astronomy observatory, the Square Kilometre Array, has officially begun in Australia after three decades in development.

A huge intergovernmental effort, the SKA has been hailed as one of the biggest scientific projects of this century. It will enable scientists to look back to early in the history of the universe when the first stars and galaxies were formed. It will also be used to investigate dark energy and why the universe is expanding, and to potentially search for extraterrestrial life.

The SKA will initially involve two telescope arrays – one on Wajarri country in remote Western Australia, called SKA-Low, comprising 131,072 tree-like antennas.

SKA-Low is so named for its sensitivity to low-frequency radio signals. It will be eight times as sensitive than existing comparable telescopes and will map the sky 135 times faster.

A second array of 197 traditional dishes, SKA-Mid, will be built in South Africa’s Karoo region….

(16) VERTICAL TAKEOFF. Has somebody been watching too many Marvel movies? “Flying Aircraft Carrier: The U.S. Navy’s Next Game Changer?” at MSN.com. Perhaps not. As you’ll discover when you read the article, the author doesn’t really think they’re feasible at all. Still, it’s an entertaining thought experiment with lots of lovely photos of aircraft carriers if that kind of thing floats your boat.

…. Let’s simply assume a flying aircraft carrier could be built. Would such a platform actually serve any purpose? First, it would be extremely dangerous. Even if it weren’t nuclear-powered, it is doubtful most nations would want it to fly overhead. A vessel the size of even a light carrier crashing down on a population center would result in the deaths of tens and even hundreds of thousands of people. Moreover, it would require not only the aforementioned purpose-built construction facility but specialized bases able to accommodate it. It is doubtful even if it were nuclear powered that it could remain aloft indefinitely so there would need to be special landing strips and the ground infrastructure to support/reequip it….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Fandom Games brutally begins “Honest Game Trailers: Marvel Snap” — “If you’re too dumb for Magic the Gathering too good for Hearthstone and not insane enough for Yu-Gi-Oh now there’s a collectible card game for you.”

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

Pixel Scroll 12/1/22 We Reserved A Table For Nine In The Pipeweed Smoking Section… The Name Is Gandalf. Gee Ay Enn Dee Ay Ell Eff

(1) NUMBER, PLEASE. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny comes to theaters June 30, 2023. It’s the first fifth in the series!

Harrison Ford returns as the legendary hero archaeologist in the highly anticipated fifth installment of the iconic “Indiana Jones” franchise, which is directed by James Mangold (“Ford v Ferrari,” “Logan”). Starring along with Ford are Phoebe Waller-Bridge (“Fleabag”), Antonio Banderas (“Pain and Glory”), John Rhys-Davies (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”), Shaunette Renee Wilson (“Black Panther”), Thomas Kretschmann (“Das Boot”), Toby Jones (“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”), Boyd Holbrook (“Logan”), Oliver Richters (“Black Widow”), Ethann Isidore (“Mortel”) and Mads Mikkelsen (“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore”).

(2) BUT FIRST! Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 will get a head start, arriving in theaters on May 5, 2023. Screen Crush took notes on the new trailer: “’Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ Trailer Teases the Team’s End”

…Right off the bat, you’ll see the Guardians wearing matching team uniforms for the first time — uniforms that come right out of the Guardians comic books that first inspired this movie franchise.

But just because they’re dressing as a unit doesn’t mean things are going well on the team. This Vol. 3 trailer strongly implies the film will mark the end of the team — and that some of the characters may die along the way. Several of the characters, including Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord and Dave Bautista’s Drax, are shown badly wounded, and there is a lot of ominous talk from Bradley Cooper’s Rocket about them all flying away together “one last time.”

(3) NELSON AT PKD CEREMONY. Here are two photos of Ray Nelson, who died yesterday, taken by Andrew Porter when Nelson received his Philip K. Dick Award citation in 1983.

(4) MISSING ARMAGEDDON. James Davis Nicoll recommends “Five SF Works About Sitting Out World War III” at Tor.com. Three of them were published in 1984 – feel free to propound your own theory about that!

Although recent history suggests that humans as a whole (or at least their leaders) are perfectly comfortable with the ever-present risk of a global nuclear exchange, individual authors appear to be more ambivalent. Perhaps it’s some unnatural “life wish.” One coping mechanism that appeared over and over in SF written during the Cold War was to suppose that nations allied with one superpower or another could arrange to sit out World War III, thus suffering only indirect effects….

(5) ARABIC LITERATURE PRIZE. The three-book shortlist for the 2022 Banipal Prize of Arabic Literature in Translation includes one work of genre interest, Slipping by Mohamed Kheir, translated by Robin Moger. The winner will be announced in February.

Here is the description of Slipping:

A struggling journalist named Seif is introduced to a former exile with an encyclopedic knowledge of Egypt’s obscure, magical places. Together, as explorer and guide, they step into the fragmented, elusive world the Arab Spring left behind. They trek to an affluent neighborhood where giant corpse flowers rain from the sky. They join an anonymous crowd in the dark, hallucinating together before a bare cave wall. They descend a set of stairs to the spot along the Nile River where, it’s been said, you can walk on water. But what begins as a fantastical excursion through a splintered nation quickly winds its way inward as Seif begins to piece together the trauma of his own past, including what happened to Alya, his lover with the remarkable ability to sing any sound: crashing waves, fluttering wings, a roaring inferno.

(6) THE WELL DRESSED FAN. This is a public service announcement for the Glasgow2024 Shop at Redbubble where you can buy your 2024 Worldcon gear.

(7) THE VALUE OF FICTION. Jason Sanford has a good essay in Apex Magazine about why reading and writing fiction is important: “How Can You Be?”

… It’s interesting how our world’s “serious” people always find a way to dismiss things. How there are always people finding ways to insist other people’s activities and loves are not up to the task of dealing with life. How, to them, the time is never right to create art and fiction and anything else they deem frivolous.

I suspect such attitudes have always existed. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the emerging genre of novels such as those of Jane Austen were looked down upon by serious people. Similar attitudes were directed toward the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres for a large part of the 20th century. Most other creative and artistic pursuits have experienced similar tut-tuttings, with the short list of creative fields being dismissed over the decades including movies, TV shows, jazz, comic books, hip hop, video games, rap, manga, anime, and cosplay.

Hell, it’s a safe bet that every type of art and storytelling has been dismissed at one time or another by the world’s serious people….

(8) WOJTOWICZ MOURNED. Hania Wojtowicz of Toronto, who’s been active in Midwestern fandom for decades, died December 1 of cancer. Her brother Steve Klimczuk announced her passing on Facebook.

(9) ALINE KOMINSKY-CRUMB (1948-2022). Underground comix artist Aline Kominsky-Crumb died November 29 reports Forbes.

…Kominsky-Crumb was a founding member of the influential all-female collective that produced the anthology Wimmin’s Comix, a long-running feminist comic published by Last Gasp from 1972-1985. Kominsky-Crumb, along with artist Diane Noomin, broke with the group in the mid-1970s to do their own publication, Twisted Sisters. Both comics were some of the first to deal squarely with the political issues around female empowerment, criticism of the patriarchy, sexual politics, lesbianism and other topics central to feminist ideology….

She is surivived by her husband, comix creator Robert Crumb.  

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1914 [By Cat Eldridge.] Winnie the Pooh Birthplace statue

The only reason for being a bee is to make honey. And the only reason for making honey is so I can eat it. — Pooh

Continuing our look at the statues of great genre characters, we come to the one of commemorating the birthplace as it is of Winnie the Pooh and no, it’s not somewhere in in a quaint corner of Britain. 

On Aug. 24, 1914, Lt. Harry Colebourn, a Canadian veterinarian and soldier with the Royal Canadian Army Veterinary Corps, came across an orphaned female bear cub while on a train stop in White River, Ontario. So he bought her for twenty dollars.

He then named her Winnipeg, shorten than to Winnie, after his hometown, and she travelled with him to Britain, where he became the very unofficial regimental mascot for five years before she was donated to the London zoo where she resided the rest of her life — that’s where she caught the attention of a boy named Christopher Robin and his father, A.A. Milne — which is how Milne came to use her as the basis of Winnie the Pooh. 

The town apparently did not know that Milne had named Winnie the Pooh after her until the Eighties. They now have an annual celebration of All Things Pooh, Winnie’s Hometown Festival, thirty-four years old this year and held every year save the Pandemic years, including a street parade in honor of the “tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff.” 

Of course, the Mouse decided to be an absolute idiot as they always do without fail. Their lawyers in the Nineties sent a letter to them refusing the town’s request to build a Winnie the Pooh statue. They suggested that the town build a statue of the original black bear instead. They backed down when the publicity got really, really hostile towards them in the States.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 1, 1886 Rex Stout. He did several genre or at least genre adjacent novels, to wit How Like A GodThe President Vanishes and his lost world tale, Under the Incas. Though I’ve read lots of Stout, I’ve not read these. ISFDB also lists Rue Morgue No. 1 as genre but this appears to be mysteries or possibly straightforward pulp tales that he co-edited with Louis Greenfield. Anyone here who read it? (Died 1975.)
  • Born December 1, 1905 Charles G. Finney. Writer and Editor. It’s rare that I pick writers whose main accomplishment is one work which has defined them, but his one such work is, well, phenomenal. His first novel and most famous work, The Circus of Dr. Lao, won one of the inaugural National Book Awards for the Most Original Book of 1935; it is most decidedly fantasy. A film adaptation, 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, was a 1965 Hugo nominee. Ray Bradbury liked the novel so much that he included a magazine-published excerpt as the headline story in his anthology The Circus of Dr. Lao and Other Improbable Stories; it is said that the carnival in his Something Wicked This Way Comes is modeled upon The Circus of Dr. Lao. (Died 1984.)
  • Born December 1, 1942 John Crowley, 80. I’m tempted to say he’s a frelling literary genius and stop there but I won’t. Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and World Fantasy Award winning Little, Big is brilliant but if anything his crow-centric novel of Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr which received the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award makes that novel look like child’s play in comparison. (Yes Little, Big did a Hugo nomination at Chicon IV.) Did you know he wrote a novella called The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines? Or Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land, which contains an entire imaginary novel by the poet? 
  • Born December 1, 1956 Bill Willingham, 66. Writer and Artist who is best known, I’d say for his long-running, four-time Hugo finalist Fables comic series – though personally I think his best work was Proposition Player, in which the souls of those lost in a card game become entangled in the politics of Heaven and Hell. He got his start in the late 1970s to early 1980s as a staff artist for TSR Games, where he was the cover artist for the AD&D Player Character Record Sheets and a lot of other games. I must mention his superb 1980s comic book series Elementals, and he later wrote the equally excellent Shadowpact for DC. I was always ambivalent about the Jack of Fables series which he spun off of Fables, but his House of Mystery was rather good as well. His work has been recognized with several Eisner Awards, and he was honored as a Special Guest at Renovation.
  • Born December 1, 1962 Gail Z. Martin, 60. Best known for known for The Chronicles of The Necromancer fantasy adventure series. Her single award to date, and it is impressive, is the Manly Wade Wellman Award for North Carolina Science Fiction and Fantasy for her Scourge novel. It was the seventh time that she had been a finalist for it. 
  • Born December 1, 1964 Jo Walton, 58.  She won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2002 and the World Fantasy award for her novel Tooth and Claw in which dragons got positively and delightfully Victorian. Even if they eat each other. Really they do. Her Small Change trilogy may be the finest WW II novels I’ve read bar none, and her Sulien series is an excellent retelling of the Arthurian myth. Among Others she says is about the “coming-of-age experience of having books instead of people for friends and solace”. I can relate to that as I imagine many here can too. And let’s not overlook so stellar An Informal History of the Hugos: A Personal Look Back at the Hugo Awards, 1953-2000 nominated at Dublin 2019.
  • Born December 1, 1970 Greg Ruth, 52. Artist and Illustrator who has provided covers and interior art for dozens of genre fiction works and comics, including the Lodestar Award-winning Akata Warrior, and the new hardcover and German editions of Nnedi Okorafor’s Hugo-winning Binti series. His art has earned four Chesley nominations, winning once, and has been selected for numerous editions of the industry year’s best art book, Spectrum; he was one of five artists selected for the Spectrum jury in 2015. His covers for the German editions of Okorafor’s Lagoon and Book of the Phoenix were nominated for the Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis, and Lagoon took home the trophy. Interestingly, he has created two music videos – for Prince and Rob Thomas (of Matchbox Twenty). (JJ)
  • Born December 1, 1985 Janelle Monáe, 37. Writer, Actor, Composer, Singer and Producer who is known for her science-fictional song lyrics and videos. Her debut EP, Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase), is the first in a 7-part conceptual series inspired by Fritz Lang’s classic SF film; the single “Many Moons”, and her subsequent album, The ArchAndroid, garnered Grammy nominations, and her next album, The Electric Lady, was also acclaimed. She released the album Dirty Computer, with a companion 48-minute mini-movie which is very much a science fiction film. She played a lead role in the Hugo- and Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures, and has also had guest appearances on Stargate Universe and Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams. (JJ)

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) TAFF LIBRARY GROWS. The Lindsay Report by Scots fan Ethel Lindsay reprints the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate’s trip report in ebook form. You can download it at the link, and if you enjoy any of the free ebooks on the site, a donation to TAFF is a fine way to express your appreciation.

Ethel Lindsay (1921-1996), a prolific Scots fan active from the early 1950s as fanzine editor, writer, publisher, reviewer and social organizer, was the first female winner of the TransAtlantic Fan Fund. She travelled under the auspices of TAFF to the USA for the 1962 World SF Convention: Chicon III in Chicago. Before and after Chicon she visited fans in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and elsewhere, and lost little time in describing her adventures in The Lindsay Report (1963), now digitized for this ebook.

1962 was unusual in that were three UK fan fund delegates at that year’s Worldcon, whose paths also crossed elsewhere in the USA. The other two were Walt and Madeleine Willis, brought from Northern Ireland by the Tenth Anniversary Willis Fund (TAWF). Thus there are three complementary trip reports: Ethel’s The Lindsay Report, Walt’s Twice Upon a Time and Madeleine’s The DisTAWF Side. Both Willis reports have been combined as another TAFF Free Library ebook, TAWF Times Two (2022). Besides her interactions with the Willises (providing a different perspective on shared events), Ethel also references her friend Ella Parker’s The Harpy Stateside (1962; expanded TAFF ebook), reporting on Ella’s 1961 Worldcon visit and US tour.

Released as an Ansible Editions ebook for the TAFF site on 1 December 2022. The cover artwork by Atom (Arthur Thomson) was the frontispiece of the original The Lindsay Report. 37,000 words.

(14) BUTLER’S GROWING AUDIENCE. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Happened to pick up the print edition of the New York Times yesterday, and read a really thoughtful piece about why Octavia Butler’s work continues to resonate. Then noticed the byline; the piece is written by Hugo finalist Lynell George. “The Visions of Octavia Butler”.

As a science fiction writer, Butler forged a new path and envisioned bold possibilities. On the eve of a major revival of her work, this is the story of how she came to see a future that is now our present….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Honest Trailers treatment of “Hancock” comes with the warning, “…Prepare for a third act twist that turns an otherwise okay comedy into a complete train wreck…”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, David Langford, John A Arkansawyer, Olav Rokne, Lloyd Penney, Cora Buhlert, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Socialinjusticeworrier.]

Pixel Scroll 10/25/22 Mahna Mahna! Do Scroll The Pixels The Pixels Are The One Thing That Is True

(1) PULLING RANK. Amanda S. Green puts a blip on indie author’s radar screens. There’s been a change in what rankings Amazon displays to readers: “And so it goes” at Mad Genius Club.

…And Amazon has changed the rules without much fanfare when it comes to what rankings they show. According to another author who queried Amazon about what they were seeing, Amazon has shifted to a policy where only three category rankings will show on a product page. In other words, you can be in the top 10 in four or more categories but Amazon will only show three. As if that’s not bad enough, the categories I see might not be the same one you see because their bots choose which ones to show based on our browsing histories.

As a reader, I don’t see a big problem. As a writer, this is a huge problem….

(2) KINDLE STORYTELLER AWARD. The winner of Amazon UK’s 2022 Kindle Storyteller Award is a historical fantasy novel: King of War by Peter Gibbon.

The Kindle Storyteller Award is a £20,000 literary prize recognising outstanding writing. It is open to writers publishing in English in any genre, who publish their work through Kindle Direct Publishing. Readers play a significant role in selecting the winner, helped by a panel of judges including various book industry experts.

The 2022 Kindle Storyteller Award was open for entries between 1st May and 31st August 2022.

(3) SAY IT AIN’T SO! Syfy Wire has horrible news: “Disney+ lands future seasons of ‘Doctor Who’”.

If you want to watch the next incarnation of Doctor Who, you’re going to need a Disney+ subscription.

Disney announced Tuesday morning that it will be the new home for upcoming seasons of the classic BBC science fiction series in the United States and around the world, a major streaming acquisition for a streaming service that’s already home to major franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star WarsNcuti Gatwa, who will play the Fifteenth Doctor on the series, confirmed the news during an appearance on Live with Kelly and Ryan this morning, according to a Disney press release…. 

(4) GATEWAY TO THE PAST. Young People Read Old SFF features a look at the Susan C. Petrey that ends her posthumous collection Gifts of Blood, which included essays by Le Guin, Vonda McIntyre, and Kate Wilhelm.  What do the panelists think of this Hugo finalist?

October 2022’s Young People Read Old Hugo Finalists offers a story unusual in several ways. Firstly, I was utterly unfamiliar with Susan C. Petrey’s Hugo finalist story ​“Spidersong1”. A glance at Petrey’s ISFDB entry offers a grim explanation: Susan Petrey died in her mid-thirties, 5 December 1980. Most of her work seems to have been published posthumously, largely in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, a magazine that for no good reason I did not read. 

In addition to her Hugo nomination, in spite of having just three stories in print (1979’s ​“Spareen Among the Tartars”, 1980’s ​“Spidersong”, and 1980’s ​“Fleas”), Petrey was nominated for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer2. Petrey died before the results of the nomination were announced. In fact, Petrey was one of two authors present posthumously on the 1981 Astounding Award3; Robert Stallman died August 1, 1980. As far as I can tell, this is the only year any nominees, let alone two4, for the Astounding were nominated post-mortum. 

“Spidersong” is unusual in a third, far more positive way: it is still in print, for web-based values of in print. Spidersong can be read in Issue 54 of Light Speed Magazine….

(5) LIGHTS ON. Cora Buhlert calls this a “semi non-fiction spotlight” because it’s about an anthology that mixes fiction reprints with essays and commentary: Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women Volume 2 (1953 to 1957), edited by Gideon Marcus”.

What prompted you to write/edit this book?

By 2018, I had read dozens of great stories by women in my trek through all the period science fiction magazines. That same year, I ran across A. J. Howells, who had started up a small press to republish The Office by Fredric Brown. His experience made me realize that it’s not too hard to start a press these days. Putting two and two together, it was obvious what my first project would be: a collection of all of my favorite stories by women from the era….

(6) THE NOT AT ALL JOLLY ROGER. According to this article from the Guardian, even Booker Prize winners have to deal with book piracy: “Booker prize winner urges people not to circulate pirated copies of his novel”.

Booker prize-winning author Shehan Karunatilaka has asked people not to circulate pirated versions of his novel.

Karunatilaka won the prize…for his second novel, The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida. In an Instagram story and a Facebook post two days after his win, Karunatilaka said it had “come to light that an unofficial and illegal” pdf version of his book was “doing the rounds on Sri Lankan social media”.

In his post, titled “Do not steal the moon”, the author wrote: “The book took seven years to write, with countless hours of research, craft and hard work poured into it. If you wish to support and honour Sri Lankan art, please do not forward pirated versions of the book and tell those who are circulating it to refrain from doing so.”…

(7) PREMEE MOHAMED Q&A: At the Unofficial Hugo Book Club Blog: “Interview with Premee Mohamed, author of the Beneath The Rising trilogy”.

UHBC Blog: …Do you think it’s possible to write near-future fiction and not include some time of climate change elements?

Premee Mohamed: Well, anything’s possible in fiction.

But suppose I wanted to write a murder mystery set in London in a fancy house in the middle of the city in 1942. In theory, I could write the entire book just about the murder mystery and these friends would have to solve it.

But in practice, if I didn’t mention World War II at any point or the Blitz or the bombs or people that they knew that had died in the war … it would feel very weird and I feel like the book would be kind of missing something enormous about the reality of London in 1942….

(8) KNOW THE TERRITORY. J. Dianne Dotson advocates for “The Ecology of World-Building“ at the SFWA Blog.

…Interactions between living organisms and their environments include abiotic and biotic factors. Abiotic factors are nonliving factors, such as the sun, wind, precipitation, slope, or substrate (whether rock or other substance). Biotic factors are those that are living, such as plants, fungi, protists, or animals. Think about how both living and nonliving elements in your world affect your characters.

Other considerations include predator–prey relationships in your worlds. An apex predator is a top predator in a food chain. If your world has creatures, assume that there are predator–prey interactions. Where does each creature in your world fit in a food chain? What happens when you take the top predator away? What sorts of population pressures do your characters face? Showcasing these factors in your fiction weaves a unique tapestry for your characters to inhabit….

(9) CALLING OUT FATPHOBIA IN SFF. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Writing at Tor.com, R. K. Duncan enumerates the ways in which SFF has been a space that marginalizes those who are large. “SFF’s Big Fat Problem” is an important piece for us to read and to think about, when we’re consuming and creating fiction. 

In my lifetime, SFF has become unimaginably more welcoming of my queer self than it was when I began to read. My fat self, not so much. This essay is a callout for everyone who feels they are a part of this community. Do better.

(10) FEARSOME FIVE. James Davis Nicoll counts up “Five Chilling Horror Novellas to Read This Fall” at Tor.com.

October is, as I noted in an earlier essay, a season for ghosts and ghouls.  Days are shortening, winter is coming (at least for us folks in the northern hemisphere). It’s a season for melancholy entertainment.

Of course, autumn is also a busy season—even if, like the overwhelming majority of my readers, you don’t have to worry about getting crops in. You might not have the time, or the inclination, to read something long (there will be plenty of time for that in the cold days ahead). Happily, novellas are there for you. You might want to try one or more of these five….

(11) MEMORY LANE.

1969 [By Cat Eldridge.] The Picasso Summer 

Back in the Summer of love or thereabouts, Mister Bradbury wrote the script for The Picasso Summer which by the time it was in the can had involved artist Pablo Picasso, French directors Francois Truffaut and Serge Bourguignon, cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond,  animators Faith and John Hubley, composer Michel Legrand and Barbra Streisand. Even Bill Cosby was in the mix as his company produced it, as was another actor, Yul Brunner.

It’s based off his “In a Season of Calm Weather” short story which was first published in the January 1957 issue of Playboy. It was most recently, 2013, published by Bantam in his Medicine for Melancholy collection. 

SPOILERS OF A VERY PSYCHEDELIC NATURE FOLLOW. SENSITIVE MINDS SHOULD GO ELSEWHERE.

Bradbury wrote a most excellent script here. 

His story is that SF architect George Smith (as played by Albert Finney) is vacationing in France with his wife Alice (a very beautiful Yvette Mimieux) with the hopes of meeting Picasso. Why he wants to meet him is not explained. The back story is he is terminally weary of being an architect.

The young couple are turned away from the artist’s home, and a fight breaks out. George in a rather nasty mood goes off to Spain to meet Spanish bullfighting legend Luis Miguel Dominguín, who might be a friend of Picasso and might get him an introduction. He doesn’t. 

So Alice stays behind and alone in France, very miserable. Upon he returns, he apologizes for the quite bad vacation. They go for a final swim on the beach, utterly failing to notice Picasso playing in the sand with his family just a few hundred yards away as they stroll away from him into the sunset.

YOU COME BACK. WE’RE NOT DOING INTERESTING DRUGS ANYMORE. I THINK. 

I must stress that it includes some very trippy and quite lively animated sequences of Picasso’s work done up in the finest Sixties style possible. Groovy man!  It’s quite delightful and all goes superbly well for our couple in the end.

It was shot in 1969, partly re-shot and tooted into the vault in 1969, but not shown publicly until 1972. It doesn’t appear in the Warner Bros. release records because it never hit the theaters only to premiere in the States on CBS’s Late Nite Movie. Warner Bros put a clip from it up here. Please, please do not link to the many extended clips from the film including the animated sequences as they are clear violations of copyright as the film is still very much under copyright.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 25, 1902 Philip Wylie. Writer of SF snd mysteries alike. Co-author with Edwin Balme of When Worlds Collide, his most important work, which was first published as a six-part monthly serial (September 1932 through February 1933) in the Blue Book magazine with illustrations by Joseph Franké. The novel was the basis of the 1951 film  of the same name that was produced by George Pal. (Died 1971.)
  • Born October 25, 1909 Whit Bissell. You most likely know him as Station Manager Lurry on “The Trouble With Tribbles”, but his major contribution to the SFF genre was being in all thirty episodes of The Time Tunnel as Lt. Gen. Heywood Kirk. He also did one-offs on The InvadersI Dream of JeannieThe Man from U.N.C.L.E.Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaScience Fiction TheaterThe Incredible Hulk and The Outer Limits. And yes, in the Time Machine film. (Died 1996.)
  • Born October 25, 1928 Marion Ross, 94. Best remembered as Marion Cunningham on Happy Days but she does have some genre roles, including an uncredited appearance in The Secret of The Incas often cited as the inspiration for Raiders of the Lost Ark. Charlton Heston was adventurer Harry Steele. Anyone see it? Again uncredited, she’s in a Fifties version of Around the World in 80 Days. The Sixties are kinder to her as she starts getting credited for her work, first for being on The Outer Limits as Agnes Benjamin in “The Special One” episode followed by being Angela Fields in Colossus: The Forbin Project. To date, her last genre role was on the animated Galaxy as the voice of Doctor Minerva in “Gotta Get Outta This Place”. 
  • Born October 25, 1940 Janet Fox. Author whose stories appeared in countless genre zines and anthologies between the Seventies and mid-Nineties.  Her long fiction, mostly the Scorpio Rising series, was done as Alex McDonough. She’s also know for the Scavenger’s Newsletter which featured a number of noted writers during its run including Linda Sherman, Jeff VanderMeer and Jim Lee. (Died 2009.)
  • Born October 25, 1963 John Gregory Betancourt, 59. Writer known for his work in Zelazny’s Amber universe but who has written quite a bit of other franchise fiction including works in the Star TrekHerculesRobert Silverberg’s Time ToursDr. Bones and The New Adventures of Superman. Most of his original fiction was early in his career. He’s also edited in a number of magazines including Weird TalesAmazing StoriesH. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of HorrorAdventure Tales and Cat Tales. He even co-edited with Anne McCaffrey, Serve It Forth: Cooking with Anne McCaffrey. His Wildside Press has been nominated three times for World Fantasy Awards. 
  • Born October 25, 1971 Elif Safak, 51. Turkish writer with three genre novels, one written originally in Turkish (Mahrem), The Gaze in its English translation, and two written in English, The Architect’s Apprentice (which was translated into Turkish as Ustam ve Ben)  and 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World.
  • Born October 25, 1971 Marko Kloos, 51. Author of two MilSF series, Frontlines and The Palladium Wards. His Lines of Departure was nominated for Hugo Award for Best Novel at Sasquan on a slate organized by the Sad Puppies. In reaction to this, Kloos withdrew the novel from consideration for the award. He was subsequently honored by George R. R. Martin for this decision. And that gets him Birthday Honors. Five of his books have been Dragon Awards nominees in the Best Military SF or Fantasy category.

(13) SOI HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES. The Society of Illustrators’ 2022 Hall of Fame Ceremony and Awards will catch up two years’ worth of inductees.

Since 1958, the Society of Illustrators has elected to its Hall of Fame artists recognized for their distinguished achievement in the art of illustration. 

Artists are chosen based on their body of work and the impact it has made on the field of illustration. 

2021 Hall of Fame Laureates

  • Braldt Bralds
  • Craig Mullins
  • Floyd Norman
  • Margaret Brundage
  • Jean Alexandre Michel André Castaigne
  • Walter Percy Day
  • Dale Messick

2022 Hall of Fame Laureates

  • Charles Addams
  • George Booth
  • Emory Douglas
  • Wendy and Brian Froud
  • Reynold Ruffins

(14) HUGO SWAG. Cora Buhlert recently received her 2022 Hugo finalist certificate and pin. You can see a photo here: “Look What the Mailman Brought Me”.

(15) SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY POETRY ASSOCIATION MILESTONE. Adele Gardner and Greer Woodward, Editors of the 2022 Dwarf Stars Anthology made a historic announcement about the poet who took second place in the 2022 Dwarf Stars Award for his poem “Colony.”

Jamal Hodge is the first black man to win or place in the competition. Though the editors are saddened that there have not been prior accolades for black men in the Dwarf Stars Award, we are so very glad that Jamal Hodge has broken this barrier and lifted us with the quality of his work.
 
Jamal Hodge is a multi-award-winning filmmaker and writer from Queens NYC who has won over 80 awards with screenings at Tribecca Film Festival, Sundance, and the Cannes Short Film Corner. As a writer, Hodge is an active member of the Horror Writers Association and the SFPA, being nominated for a 2021 & 2022 Rhysling Award for his poems “Fermi’s Spaceship” and “Loving Venus,” while placing second in the 2022 Dwarf Stars. His poetry is featured in the anthology Chiral Mad 5 alongside such legends as Stephen King and Linda Addison. His written work was featured in the historical all-black issue of Star*Line (43.4), Space and Time Magazine, Hybrid: Misfits, Monsters & Other Phenomena, Penumbric Speculative Fiction Magazine, Savage Planets, and many others. https://linktr.ee/directorh
 
Hodge’s 2022 Dwarf Stars poem “Colony” is a poignant observation of humanity. Although scientists have developed technology superb enough to send people to Mars and establish a colony, human nature has remained unchanged. The fact that murder is one of the things that marks our humanity is not only tragic, but may well damage prospects for a hopeful future. The editors admired the way this powerful message was expressed in only 29 words.

(16) MIGHTY DIALOG. Book Riot’s Kate Scottanoints these as “23 of the Best The Lord of the Rings Quotes”.

Choosing the best quotes from The Lord of the Rings is difficult, because there are so many amazing lines in this fantasy epic. Nevertheless, here are 23 of my favorite The Lord of the Rings quotes.

First out of the gate:

“‘Why was I chosen?’ ‘Such questions cannot be answered,’ said Gandalf. ‘You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess: not for power or wisdom, at any rate. But you have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.’”

How can it be that my own favorite isn’t even on the list!

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: The Rings Of Power (Season 1),” the Screen Junkies say this Lord of the RIngs prequel has so many mysterious strangers show up in the first episodes that “It’s hard to keep up with the people who aren’t mysterious. Stop making me do homework to watch TV!” the narrator complains. He shows at least five clips where the cast are trying very very hard not to say they’re making rings that characters can be lords of. Noting this is an Amazon project, the narrator asks, “do the orc slaves get free two-day shipping?”

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

Pixel Scroll 9/23/22 Let The Midnight Pixel Shine Its Scroll On Me

(1) LITERARY LITIGATION. You have until September 29 to bid on this “Important Edgar Allan Poe Autograph Letter Signed, Regarding His Famous Feud with Poet Thomas Dunn English – ‘…in relation to Mr. English…some attacks lately made upon me by this gentleman…’” at Nate D. Sanders Auctions.

Edgar Allan Poe autograph letter signed, with dramatic content regarding his famous feud with poet and playwright Thomas Dunn English. Poe writes to John Bisco, publisher of the defunct ”Broadway Journal”, which Poe had once edited. Poe asks Bisco to call upon an attorney in relation to ”attacks made upon me” by Mr. English. This is the first time since 1941, when it was sold by Parke-Bernet, that this letter has been at auction.

Although the public feuding between Poe and English was not new – with both men trading veiled barbs in various publications over the years, English raised the stakes when he wrote a letter published in the 23 June 1846 edition of the ”New York Evening Mirror.” Not only did English accuse Poe by name of being a forger, drunk, deadbeat, and scoundrel for besmirching a lady’s honor, but also, perhaps most unforgivable, a serial plagiarist. Poe likely got advance notice of the article as this letter is dated 17 July 1846, only six days before the publication. However, although Poe couldn’t stop the article from running, he was successful in suing the ”Mirror” for libel, collecting $225.06 in damages a year later, likely more than Poe made during his lifetime from writing. 

(2) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to chow down with Wesley Chu in episode 181 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast, the first of six recorded at Chicon 8.

Wesley Chu

Chu’s debut novel, The Lives of Tao, earned him a Young Adult Library Services Association Alex Award and a Science Fiction Goodreads Choice Award Top 10 slot, and was followed by three other books in that universe — The Deaths of Tao (also in 2013), The Rebirths of Tao (2015), and The Days of Tao (2016). He’s also published two books in his Time Salvager series — Time Salvager (2015) and Time Siege (2016). His novel Typhoon, set in The Walking Dead universe, was published in 2019.

He’s also the coauthor of the Eldest Curses series with Cassandra Clare, the first book of which — The Red Scrolls of Magic (2019) — debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and was followed by The Lost Book of the White in 2020. His latest novel, The Art of Prophecy (2022), released in August, is the first book in The War Arts Saga. He was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2014, and won the following year. But that’s not all! He’s also an accomplished martial artist and a former member of the Screen Actors Guild who has acted in film and television, worked as a model and stuntman, and summited Kilimanjaro.

We discussed why his new novel The Art of Prophecy has him feeling as if he’s making his debut all over again, the reason his particular set of skills means he’s the only one who could have written this project, why creating a novel is like trying to solve a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle without the picture on the box as reference, the heavy lifting a well-written fight scene needs to accomplish, why you’ll never get to read his 180,000-word first novel, how to make readers continue to care when writing from the POV of multiple characters, the benefits and pitfalls of writing bigger books, why he decided to toss 80,000 words from the second book in his series, the ways in which environments are also characters, and much more.

(3) WHAT PROFESSIONALISM MEANS IN SFF. Morgan Hazelwood shares notes and comments about another Chicon 8 panel, “Publishing As Collaboration”, at Morgan Hazelwood: Writer In Progress.

If you want to be a published author, a little professionalism goes a long way.

Bookshelves are packed with volumes about how to properly submit your manuscripts, but how does professionalism function in real-world publishing relationships? Moreover, what defines professionalism from culture to culture? Agents and editors share their best examples of what works best, and how to get back on track if your interactions go off the rails.

The titular panel at WorldCon 80 — otherwise known as ChiCon8 — had moderator Holly Lyn Walrath, with panelists Emily Hockaday, Joey Yu, and Joshua Bilmes.

Hazelwood also presents her comments in this YouTube video.

(4) PATHFINDER. James Davis Nicoll knows there are Martha Wells fans who haven’t yet discovered the rest of her work: “For Murderbot Fans Who Want More: Five Fantasy Books by Martha Wells” at Tor.com.

…Wells’ debut novel, The Element of Fire, appeared in 1993. To put that in terms grognards might better understand, by this point in their careers, Poul Anderson had just published A Knight of Ghost and Shadows, while Lois McMaster Bujold was about to publish Penric’s Demon.

This is, of course, good news! If you are only familiar with Well’s Murderbot books, know that there are plenty more Wells books to read. Allow me to suggest five Martha Wells books that Murderbot fans might like….

(5) THEY, THE JURY. Meanwhile, James Davis Nicoll has assigned the Young People Read Old SFF panel John Varley’s 1979 story “Options”.

This month’s Hugo Finalist is John Varley’s Options. First published in 1979, Options was both a Hugo1 and Nebula2 finalist. Options was popular with both fans and Varley’s peers. It might then seem a pretty safe bet to win the hearts and minds of the Young People. 

Except…

The second last Eight Worlds (phase one) story published, Options examines the impact of cheap, convenient gender reassignment. By the era most Eight Worlds stories were set, body modification was a common and uncommented upon aspect of the proto-transhumanist setting. Options is set just as the technology becomes available…. 

(6) DIGGING IN. “House and Senate Democrats prepare resolutions to oppose local book bans”Politico has the story.

Top congressional Democrats are preparing to address a wave of bans and restrictions on school library materials Thursday with new resolutions that call on local governments “to protect the rights of students to learn,” according to lawmakers and a draft copy of the legislation.

The moves represent urgent statements of concern from President Joe Biden’s party about ongoing controversies that affect as many as 4 million U.S. schoolchildren, according to one recent estimate. The congressional response has won endorsements from the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association labor unions as well as prominent literary and left-leaning educational interest groups….

Both the House and Senate resolutions will face an uncertain path to a vote.

Alarmed Democratic lawmakers have nevertheless convened hearings this year over political organizing and state restrictions against books and curriculum that address gender identity and race. A group of party pollsters and strategists have also sought to draw voter attention to the controversies during fall’s midterm elections as they attempt to depict conservative-led campaigns as extremist and at odds with a significant share of public opinion.

(7) AUTHOR MAY NEED AROUND-THE-CLOCK CARE. “Rachel Pollack needs your help!” — a GoFundMe appeal has been launched for the American science fiction author, comic book writer, and expert on divinatory tarot.. The goal was $15,000, and at this writing 666 donors have given over $36,000.  

As many of you know Rachel is in the ICU.

If she is able to go home, she will need 24-hour care. Up to now, we haven’t needed your help. It is time now. If we are wrong, your pledge will not be collected. We love and honor you …. But you already know that. Keep up the prayers, rituals and love too. All is real and appreciated.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1962 [By Cat Eldridge.] Sixty years tonight in prime time on ABC, The Jetsons debuted its very first episode, “Rosey the Robot”. Yes, a SF cartoon would start on in network television as a primetime series and would be the first program broadcast in color on ABC. 

Following its primetime run of three years and seventy-five episodes of roughly twenty to thirty minutes, the show aired on Saturday mornings for decades. It started on ABC for the 1963–64 season and then on CBS and NBC as it was syndicated after the first season.

The series was considered by some critics to be a sort of antithesis of The Flintstones being set in whimsical future approximately a century from now. Naturally William Hanna and Joseph Barbera were the creators, executive producers and producers (along with a long list of other folk) as it was a property of Hanna-Barbera Productions. 

It had a very extensive voice cast befitting the number of characters — George Jetson was voiced by George O’Hanlon, Jane Jetson by Penny Singleton, Elroy Jetson by Daws Butler, Judy Jetson, Rosey by Jean Vander Pyl, and Cosmo Spacely by Mel Blanc. No, that’s not a complete cast.

In 1963, Morey Amsterdam and Pat Carroll each filed $12,000 suits against Hanna-Barbera for breach of contract. They had been cast and signed to the roles of George Jetson and Jane Jetson, respectively. But someone didn’t like their work and fired them after the first episode work was done. (That voice work wasn’t used.) They were paid the five hundred dollars owed and showed off the lot. They claimed they were promised the entire first season, but they had no contract for this hence losing the Court case.

It’s worth noting that this series had devices that did not exist at the time but subsequently are now in usage such as computer viruses, digital newspapers, flatscreen television and video chat to name but a few.

It’s streaming on Amazon and HBO Max.

Audience reviewers at Rotted Tomatoes give it seventy percent rating.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 23, 1897 Walter Pidgeon. He’s mostly remembered for his role in the classic Forbidden Planet as Dr. Morbius, but he’s done some other genre work, in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as Adm. Harriman Nelson, and in The Neptune Factor as Dr. Samuel Andrews. (Died 1984.)
  • Born September 23, 1908 Wilmar House Shiras. Her story “In Hiding” was published in 1948 in Astounding Science Fiction, followed by a pair of sequels over the next two years, “Opening Doors”, and “New Foundations”. The three stories would become the first three chapters in the novel, Children of the Atom. Almost twenty years later she had three more short stories published in Fantastic. (Died 1990.)
  • Born September 23, 1928 John S Glasby. English writer who wrote a truly amazing amount of pulp fiction of both a SF and fantasy under quite a few pen names that included  John Adams, R. L. Bowers, Berl Cameron, Max Chartair, Randall Conway, Ray Cosmic, John Crawford, J. B. Dexter, John Glasby, J. S. Glasby, Michael Hamilton, J. J. Hansby, Marston Johns, Victor La Salle, Peter Laynham, H. K. Lennard, Paul Lorraine, John C. Maxwell, A. J. Merak, H. J. Merak, R. J. Merak, John Morton, John E. Muller, Rand Le Page, J. L. Powers and Karl Zeigfried. It is thought but not confirmed that he produced more than three hundred novels and a lot of short stories in a twenty year period that started in the early Fifties. (Died 2011.)
  • Born September 23, 1920 Richard Wilson. A Futurian, and author of a number of sff short stories and novels, his really major contribution to fandom and to Syracuse University where he worked as the director of the Syracuse University News Bureau was in successfully recruiting the donation of papers from many prominent science fiction writers to the Syracuse University’s George Arents Research Library.  The list of those writers includes Piers Anthony, Hal Clement, Keith Laumer, Larry Niven and Frederik Pohl. And, of course, himself. It has been called the “most important collection of science fiction manuscripts and papers in the world.” (Died 1987.)
  • Born September 23, 1948 Leslie Kay Swigart, 74. Obsessions can be fascinating and hers was detailing the writings of Harlan Ellison. Between 1975 and 1991, she published Harlan Ellison: A Bibliographical Checklist plus wrote shorter works such as “Harlan Ellison: An F&SF Checklist“, “Harlan Ellison: A Nonfiction Checklist“ and “Harlan Ellison: A Book and Fiction Checklist”. Her George R. R. Martin: A RRetrospective Fiction Checklist can be found in the Dreamsongs: GRRM: A RRetrospective collection. 
  • Born September 23, 1957 Rosalind Chao, 65. She was the recurring character of Keiko O’Brien with a total of twenty-seven appearances on Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. In 2010, a preliminary casting memo for Next Gen from 1987 was published, revealing that Chao was originally considered for the part of Enterprise security chief Tasha Yar.
  • Born September 23, 1959 Frank Cottrell-Boyce, 63. Definitely not here for his sequels to Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. He is here for such writing endeavors as Goodbye Christopher Robin, his Doctor Who stories, “In the Forest of the Night” and “Smile”, both Twelfth Doctor affairs, and the animated Captain Star series in which he voiced Captain Jim Star. The series sounds like the absolute antithesis of classic Trek
  • Born September 23, 1956 Peter David, 66. Did you know that his first assignment for the Philadelphia Bulletin was covering Discon II? I’m reasonably sure the first thing I read by him was Legions of Fire, Book 1—The Long Night of Centauri Prime but he’s also done a number of comics I’ve read including runs of Captain Marvel , Wolverine and Young Justice.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) SWEET WATER, DRY GULCH. Paul Thompson tells how the landscape where movie history was made was also where American history has been mythologized: “The Girl and the Outlaw: Jordan Peele’s ‘Nope’ and the End of the Alien” at LA Review of Books.

ONE HUNDRED AND SEVEN years ago, Woodrow Wilson hosted the first-ever film screening at the White House. It was for D. W. Griffith’s adaptation of Thomas Dixon Jr.’s The Clansman, which was published originally as a novel but made famous as a stage play that traces the lives of a white family through the Civil War and Reconstruction. Griffith called it The Birth of a Nation. “It’s like writing history with lightning,” the president is reported to have said when he walked out of the East Room. “My only regret is that it is all so terribly true.”

In the century since its release, The Birth of a Nation has become shorthand for a specific, and specifically virulent, kind of early-20th-century American racism that was obsessed with relitigating that war and the legislation that came out of it (a shorthand so enduring, in fact, that Nate Parker’s 2016 The Birth of a Nation, about Nat Turner and the rebellion by enslaved people he led in 1831, was very plausibly greenlit because of its title’s provocation)….
Birth also invented whole swaths of cinematic language still in use today. It is likely — probably inevitable — that other filmmakers would have, on their own, in time, devised dramatic close-ups on actors’ faces, tracking shots to follow action as it moved, cross-cutting between different sequences, or fade-outs to exit scenes. But no one had done so before Griffith. The late critic Pauline Kael wrote that “[o]ne can trace almost every major tradition and most of the genres, and even many of the metaphors, in movies to their sources” in his work. The Los Angeles Times called Birth “the greatest picture ever made.”

And yet Woodrow Wilson was not talking about cross-cutting when he called Griffith’s movie “so terribly true.” Aside from sympathizing with its Klan-agitprop politics, the president, who grew up in Virginia and codified Jim Crow laws within the federal government, was apparently engrossed by the film’s other great technical achievement: its intricate battle sequence, where Griffith skips between disorienting close-ups, wide vistas, and the literal fog of war — gun smoke choking the camera.

This footage was not filmed on the ground of old battlefields. It was captured on arid land across Los Angeles County and edging into the Inland Empire….

… In Nope, the Haywoods exist on the fringes of the industry that drives this imagination. But these are, truly, the fringes: Agua Dulce, practical in the age of computer-generated imagery, horse handlers when superheroes have replaced cowboys. The land that the studios have found to be such a convenient stand-in for the moon, Mars, and beyond — the land that is meant to support them as they support the city, unseen until needed — has turned, if not hostile, something just short….  

Beyond the traditional routes to fame — sports, entertainment, even politics — Nope hints at a morbid dovetail between its twin focuses on race and film. Though its protagonists are motivated by profit, it’s difficult to watch without thinking, at least in passing, of the way police brutality was disbelieved or minimized before the broad dissemination of videos depicting it — or of the way those videos are in turn reduced over time by cable news and political pundits to mere spectacle….

(12) ON THE RIGHT TRACKS.  Paul Weimer makes you want to read this book in “Microreview: Last Car to Annwn Station at Nerds of a Feather. Last Car to Annwn Station takes what is now a famous trope in Urban Fantasy –the presence of Faerie in the Twin Cities, and puts his own, Welsh mythological spin. Oh, and Streetcars.”

… Faerie in Minneapolis has been a thing ever since Emma Bull introduced the Faerie to Minneapolis with War for the Oaks, and permanently highlighted the Twin Cities as a hotbed of Faerie activity for games like Changeling the Dreaming, and other stories and novels taking up the cause.  A modest but not overwhelming city on the edge of Prairie and forest,plenty of lakes, a vibrant cultural scene that punches above its weight, and much more make the Twin Cities a logical place to set stories like this…. 

(13) HOW WELL DO YOU SPORCLE? Surely a national trivia convention in Washington D.C. is fandom-adjacent? SporcleCon runs September 23-25. Here is the schedule of events.

(14) THE BLUE BIRD OF HAPPINESS? You probably never thought of doing this. Now you won’t be able to get it out of your mind: “F.D.A. Warning on NyQuil Chicken Alerts Many to Existence of NyQuil Chicken” in the New York Times.

A truism of the internet, central to the work of researchers who study the spread of dangerous trends and misinformation, holds that attempting to discourage bad behavior can, if clumsily handled, reinforce the bad behavior by amplifying it to people who would have otherwise never considered it.

Which leads us to the NyQuil chicken.

In recent weeks, some people on TikTok, Twitter and other sites discovered years-old videos and images of people pouring blue-green NyQuil, a nighttime cold medicine, over chicken breasts in a pan or pot. It was, to be clear, a dangerous idea that no one should do — it could lead to consuming unsafe levels of the product, and over-the-counter medicines should be used only as directed….

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Bill, 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 Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 7/21/22 This Pixel Intentionally Left Indescrollable

(1) WICKED GOOD. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] I was browsing this article in Slate and was pleasantly shocked to find Estraven from The Left Hand of Darkness on the list. There are other more mainstream SFFnal entries too. “The best death scenes in movies, TV, books, theater, songs, and more.”

…The death scene is one of the sharpest tools in a writer’s toolbox, as likely to wound the writer themself as the reader—for if a well-written death scene can be thrilling, terrifying, or filled with despair, so can a poorly written one be bathetic, stupid, and eye-rolling.

But let’s not talk about those. Let’s talk about the good ones, the deathless death scenes. We’ve assembled the 50 greatest fictional deaths of all time—the most moving, most funny, most shocking, most influential scenes from books, movies, TV, theater, video games, and more. Spoilers abound: It’s a list that spans nearly 2,500 years of human culture, from Athens to A24, and is so competitive that even poor Sydney Carton and his famous last words couldn’t make it…. 

(2) MOBY CLICK. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] In connection with the previous item, Slate also posted “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Douglas Adams explains the whale scene”, a piece reprinted with the permission of his estate in which Douglas Adams reacts to the ways that some of his readers reacted to the death of the whale. And, one supposes, this Reprinted Reaction Reaction is now Canon. 

(3)  TIMING IS THE SECRET (NOT JUST OF COMEDY). Gizmodo reports the resolution of a story I first read on Petréa Mitchell’s SMOF News: “As Comic-Con Begins, Hotel Workers Went On Strike… And Won”.

Just as the Hilton Bayfront was set to open its doors to San Diego Comic Con attendees, special guests, and press, the workers at the hotel set up a picket line in front of the hotel. The strike only lasted a few hours, proving once again that collective action, worker solidarity, and excellent timing will often force management to come to the bargaining table willing to present reasonable offers.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that last Wednesday, despite the oncoming legion of nerds, geeks, and fans that are set to swarm the sold-out hotel, management had not come to an agreement with the Unite Here Local 30, which represents nearly 450 full-time employees and an additional 150 on-call workers. Today, however, they have presented an agreement that Brigette Browning, president of Unite Here Local 30, views positively, which ended the strike, for now….

(4) PICKET DUTY. Meanwhile, on the East Coast, “HarperCollins Workers Strike For Increased Wages, Benefits and Diversity”  reports the New York Times.

HarperCollins union members went on a one-day strike on Wednesday, with around 100 employees and additional supporters marching in front of the company’s corporate headquarters in Manhattan in the sticky heat for higher wages, better family leave benefits and a stronger commitment to diversity from the company.

Publishing has long offered meager wages to entry and midlevel employees, making it difficult to live in New York City, where the industry is based, without a second job or financial support from a spouse or family.

Many workers say that the low wages also make it hard for potential employees who don’t come from wealth to consider a career in publishing, which hampers efforts to diversify the mostly white industry.

“I love my job, I love my authors, it’s an incredible privilege to get to work on these books, and I would love to do it for the rest of my life, if I can afford to,” said Stephanie Guerdan, an associate editor in the children’s department who joined the strike.

But with a salary of $56,000 a year, she said, she worries she won’t be able to stay.

(5) HEAR THEM RING. A Marriott hosting San Diego Comic-Con visitors is wrapped with publicity for The Rings of Power.

Two tracks of music from the series have been made available to hear online.

(6) GAIMAN AS OPERA. The West Edge opera production of Coraline, based on Neil Gaiman’s book, will be performed at the Oakland Scottish Rite Center in Oakland, CA from July 30-August 7. Tickets here.

With great pleasure we present an opera that is for people of all ages who love gruesome things!

Coraline is a young girl whose life has been uprooted. As she wanders alone through her new creaky house, she tries to get the attention of her work-at-home parents to no avail. One day she discovers a mysterious door, through which she sets out on a terrifying adventure that tests the limits of human bravery.

(7) POWERS OF PERSUASION. While I’m already interested in Jane Austen, if I weren’t, Abigail Nussbaum’s “Four Comments on Netflix’s Persuasion at Asking the Wrong Questions would still rivet my interest. Following the four comments referenced in the title, she sums up:

…The correct attitude when approaching a field this vibrant and busy isn’t condescension, but humility. When even the specific sub-type of Austen adaptation you’re attempting—irreverent and modernized—includes films like Clueless, you don’t have the option of half-assing your work, or failing to think through your choices and how they affect the characters and plot. You have to be able to justify what you’re doing both as a reflection of what Austen wrote, and as a work in its own right. Persuasion does not even seem to have realized that it needed to do this…. 

(8) THAT EXPRESSION IS A SMILE. You might not expect to find James Davis Nicoll recommending “Five Feel-Good Comfort Reads”, but never underestimate his versatility.

Unlike the news, fiction is not limited to a seemingly unending cavalcade of disaster, calamity, and egregiously poor choices, a cavalcade as comforting as glancing up a mountainside to see an avalanche swiftly bearing down on one.  So, if doomscrolling is getting you down, consider stepping away from the newsfeeds to enjoy a comfort read or two…

First on the list, a work with previously unsuspected sff credentials:

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (1932)

Orphaned at nineteen, Flora Post embodies “every art and grace save that of earning her own living.” Without any other means at hand, she goes to live with distant relatives: the Starkadders, whose homestead, Cold Comfort Farm, is in the depths of rustic Sussex.

Flora intends to earn her living. The rural melodramas of such luminaries as Mary Webb (Gone to Earth) assure Flora that her unfortunate rural relatives must languish under a myriad of troubles that their simple rustic minds are incapable of solving. Indeed, each Starkadder struggles with issues so profound as to seem parodic. Flora, on the other hand, is a very modern, very organized girl. What seem like insurmountable challenges for her kinfolk are to her simple challenges easily solved.

Readers who know Cold Comfort Farm only from the otherwise exemplary 1995 film adaptation—”There’ll be no butter in hell!”—may be surprised to learn that Cold Comfort Farm was a science fiction novel of sorts. The 1932 text references the Anglo-Nicaraguan wars of ’46, establishing that the book takes place in what is now an alternate history.

(9) TONOPAH ON HIS MIND. Alan White’s personal Westercon 74 Memory Book is filled with entertaining snark and Alan’s marvelous art. It can be downloaded from eFanzines.com. Here’s a paragraph about staying at the Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah.

…The wind came up howling through the window with such force, we thought someone was testing a jet-engine in the alley. The window we could neither open nor close and not until closer inspection see the latch was off-kilter less than a hair’s breadth and with some force, clicked into place (phew). Not long after, there were other noises of speculation every time our neighbor visited the bathroom. There were noises not unlike the Titanic signaling for help whenever the faucets turned on and whenever they drew a bath, I swear there was the sound as if the Lady in Red was blowing a Vuvuzela from the drain in our bathtub. I won’t belabor you dear reader with the trifling sound coming from the air duct…

(10) MEMORY LANE.  

1986 [By Cat Eldridge.] So let’s talk about the five volumes of The Hugo Winners that Isaac Asimov edited, published in various editions between 1962 and 1986. The basic facts are that Asimov selected stories that won a Hugo Award for Short Story, Novelette or Novella at the Worldcons held between 1955 and 1982. That was fine.

However, the powers that be at Doubleday decided that Asimov was free to express his opinions. And oh, did he do so! To put it bluntly, this was quite unusual as the text ordinarily found in these anthologies is, errr, bland to a degree that should surprise no one. Just the facts, ma’am.

Not Asimov, who wrote a short introduction about each author in each anthology. And my. He named writers that he didn’t like, those he was quite jealous of. And he went at length about those writers who won awards ahead of him and how angry that made him as he should have won those awards instead. Of course, he always believed that he should’ve won every award. Poor Isaac.

He discussed his political beliefs as he supported the ending of the Vietnam War. Basically, he used the anthologies to express his annoyance with the universe.  Ok Asimov was never shy about expressing his opinions. I’m just surprised that Doubleday gave him carte blanche authority to write what he wanted.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 21, 1911 Marshall McLuhan. He coined the expressions the medium is the message and global village, and predicted the World Wide Web almost thirty years before it was invented. I read The Medium Is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects a long time ago. Somehow it seemed terribly quaint. (Died 1980.)
  • Born July 21, 1921 James Cooke Brown. He’s the creator of Loglan. Oh, and he did write SF. The Troika Incident written in 1970 features a global data net. That, and two short pieces of fiction, are the sum total of his of genre writings. The Troika Incident is available from Kindle but not from iBooks.  (Died 2000.)
  • Born July 21, 1929 John Woodvine, 93. First role in our realm is as Macbeth at Mermaid Theatre back in the early Sixties. Shortly thereafter, he’s Badger in Toad of Toad Hall at the Comedy Theatre before being The Marshal in the Fourth Doctor story, “The Armageddon Factor”.  He’s in An American Werewolf in London as Dr. J. S. Hirsch, and he had a recurring role in The Tripods as Master West. He did show up on The Avengers several times, each time as a different character, and he was Singri Rhamin for the episodes of Danger Man
  • July 21, 1933 John Gardner. Novelist, critic, teacher, medievalist, among other things. His student Jeffrey Ford described Gardner’s knowledge of literature as ‘encyclopedic,’ with no regard whatever for genre boundaries. He considered Stanislaw Lem the greatest living writer, disliked Tolkien’s poetry (an assessment I agree with) but thought The Lord of the Rings ‘one of the truly great works of the human spirit’. Most of his best works are fantasy: most famously Grendel, but also Freddy’s Book, Mickelson’s Ghosts, the short story collection The King’s Indian, and his posthumously-published short story, “Julius Caesar and the Werewolf”. His book The Art of Fiction is well worth reading for anyone interested in fiction, as a writer or a reader. (Died 1982.) (PhilRM)
  • Born July 21, 1948 G. B. Trudeau, 74. Ok we decided when I first put this Birthday up that there’s enough content to be genre, but he did an amazing series on the Apple Newton when it came out. A Doonesbury Retrospective series is up to three volumes and is available from the usual suspects at very reasonable prices. 
  • Born July 21, 1951 Robin Williams. Suicides depress me. I remember a bootleg tape of a performance of him and George Carlin in their cocaine fueled days. No, not even genre adjacent but damn brilliant. Such manic energy. Genre wise, he was brilliant in most everything he did, be it Mork & Mindy, Hook which I adore, The Fisher KingBicentennial Man or Jumanji. (Died 2014.)
  • Born July 21, 1960 Lance Guest, 62. He’s an American film and television actor, best known for his lead role in The Last Starfighter. He also shows up in Jaws: The Revenge as Michael Brody, as Jimmy in Halloween II, as Kyle Lane in “Fearful Symmetry” episode of The X-Files and as The Burning Zone in “The Critical Mass” episode of The Burning Zone
  • Born July 21, 1976 Jaime Murray, 46. If you watch genre television, you’ve most likely seen her as she’s been Helena G. Wells in Warehouse 13, Stahma Tarr in Defiance, Fiona/the Black Fairy In Once Upon a Time, Antoinette in The Originals, and Nyssa al Ghul in Gotham. She voices Camilla in Castlevania. Filmwise, she was Livinia in The Devil’s Playground and Gerri Dandridge in Fright Night 2: New Blood

(12) BLACK ASL. Black Nerd Problems tells how “’The Champion’s Hike’ Brings African American Sign Language to ‘Craig of the Creek’”.

…“The Champion’s Hike” episode centers around Craig trying to fit in among his former enemies turned friends and Maya being the one to let him know that it’s okay to just be himself. The other portion of this story is how we get to see African American Sign language on screen via Jackie who is deaf. We see Jackie’s father communicating with him prior to the group leaving. We also see Keun-Sup signing communicating to Jackie with ASL as well. Not only do we get to see African American Sign Language, but this episode gives us sign language conversation between two characters of color. We also see Craig learning more ASL and remembering what he’s learned prior from Keun in order to interact with Jackie. Craig of the Creek really be out here thinking of everything man.

There is an artist touch used here as well where we know what is being said of the conversation only by how Keun reacts verbally to what Jackie is saying. We viewers who aren’t versed in ASL won’t understand what’s being said (like the conversation between Jackie and his father) However, that’s fine because it’s not for us….

The episode also attracted the attention of the Los Angeles Times: “How ‘Craig of the Creek’ got Black American Sign Language right”.

…It’s a moment that the episode’s consultants, from Southern California Black Deaf Advocates, point to as a highlight of their experience on the series.

“I teach parents [who have deaf children] how to sign, so the fact that a Black father was signing to his son, that exposure and that emphasis was so amazing,” said Deaf mentor Bibi Ashley through a sign language interpreter during a recent video call. “Just seeing that interaction, that was my favorite part.”…

(13) TALKING HEADS. Let SYFY Wire usher you through “Funko’s tour of Funkoville at SDCC 2022”.

With San Diego International Comic-Con returning this week at full capacity for the first time since July 2019, plenty of companies are finding space around the Gaslamp or on the show floor to welcome back fans and communities in a big way.

One of them is Funko, the collectible company which has long catered to corralling their hyper-engaged audience with live events at cons and at their HQ stores in Everett, Washington and Hollywood, California. After having to go virtual with their FunKon event in 2021, SDCC 2022 finds Funko incorporating the lessons learned during the pandemic and applying them to their massive new show floor booth space which they’ve dubbed Funkoville. 

(14) THEME PARK PUNCHOUT. “Disney World Brawl: Fantasyland Becomes Nightmare As Melee Breaks Out”Deadline has the story.

Close on the heels of a massive brawl that forced Knott’s Berry Farm in Southern California to close early on Saturday, video has surfaced of another large melee at Walt Disney World in Florida on Wednesday.

Video posted online shows at least 6 people simultaneously engaged in physical combat, as dozens of others hover at the edges, some trying to break it up and others at times joining the fray. One large group of about a half-dozen people are dressed in coordinated red shorts and white t-shirts with mouse ears on the front. They seem to be fighting with another equally large group, at least one of whom is heard using a racial slur.

The melee took place behind Cinderella’s Castle just in front of Peter Pan’s Flight in Fantasyland, according to a local Fox affiliate. The sheriff also confirmed to the outlet that one man was hospitalized after the incident and three people were arrested for misdemeanor battery.

This is at least the third sizable fistfight at the Magic Kingdom in as many months, according to reports.

Video of the incident and further updates are posted at WDW News Today: “UPDATE: Guest Involved in Magic Kingdom Brawl Reveals Story & More Footage”.

(15) FANCY DUDS. Just what hangs in the TARDIS closet anyway? “Doctor Who costumes ranked from William Hartnell to Jodie Whittaker” at Radio Times.

The Seventh Doctor once claimed to have “an impeccable sense of haute couture”. Which was a pretty bold statement for a man wearing so many questions marks that even The Riddler probably thought it was “a bit on-the-nose”.

It’s far from the only statement look the Time Lord has sported over the years, of course. And now, if tabloid reports are to be believed – and they’re usually not, but go with me here – it seems Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor is set to gallivant around the cosmos in a fetching pair of space wellies. So what more perfect time to bring you the Definitive Guide to Wellies in Doctor Who?

Just kidding (although the Cybermen did rock some delightful silver moon boots, back in the day): we’re actually here to talk about the Doctor’s duds down the years. And from Hartnell’s hat to Gatwa’s gumboots, it’s quite the catwalk parade…

(16) WHO HYPE. The Radio Times also reveals: “Doctor Who ‘gets behind-the-scenes spin-off series on BBC Three’”.

Returning Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies has commissioned a special behind-the-scenes series ahead of the next season with new Doctor Ncuti Gatwa, according to reports.

The BBC Three Doctor Who spin-off series will be titled Doctor Who: Unleashed and give fans a sneak-peek at the filming process, beginning with the 60th anniversary special next year and the surprise return of David Tennant and Catherine Tate, according to The Mirror.

The series will apparently be similar in format to Doctor Who Confidential, the behind-the-scenes sister show that ran from 2005 to 2012. It will reportedly continue to air alongside the next full season.

(17) DOPEST NIGHT SKY. Sometimes it isn’t aliens… “Strange Pink Glow in Sky Turns Out to Be Caused by Monster Weed Farm” says the Daily Beast.

Turns out that residents in the Australian city of Mildura didn’t need to panic when a mysterious pink glow appeared in the sky on Wednesday night—the feared alien invasion was really just light coming from a huge medical cannabis farm where staff forgot to close the blinds. The sinister hue of the celestial phenomenon was attributed to special lamps used in weed cultivation….

(18) CSI SKILL TREE. The Center for Science and Imagination’s Skill Tree event on sound and worldbuilding can now be viewed on YouTube here, and all ten CSI Skill Tree episodes are available from this playlist.

In this episode of CSI Skill Tree, we discuss how sound design and music in games contributes to worldbuilding, storytelling, and immersion. We look closely at Inside, a moody adventure game with environmental puzzles and grim, industrial aesthetics, and the iconic Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992), and consider how the possibilities for sound and music in games have changed over time. Our special guests are science fiction and fantasy author Tochi Onyebuchi (Goliath, Riot Baby) and composer and sound designer Amos Roddy, who has worked on a number of video games, including the recent cyberpunk hit Citizen Sleeper.

(19) MAD, YOU KNOW. Silvia Moreno-Garcia promotes The Daughter of Doctor Moreau on CrimeReads. “Bad Seeds and Mad Scientists: On the Build-A-Humans of 19th-Century Literature”.

…We owe the concept of criminal brains to Cesare Lombroso, an Italian physician who promulgated the idea that criminality was inherited, and that criminals could be identified by physical defects, which indicated savage or atavistic traits. Sloping foreheads or left-handedness were some of the physical signs of primitive qualities inherent in criminal brains. Lombroso’s theories on criminality would be incorporated into eugenic discourse, and the idea of the criminal brain as a source for the creature’s violent actions would be reused in many more adaptations to come….

(20) NOT JUST ANY REC ROOM. As Gizmodo phrases it, “Owen Wilson Is Iron Man With Kids in the Superhero Comedy Secret Headquarters”. Secret Headquarters streams beginning August 12 on Paramount+.

While hanging out after school, Charlie and his friends discover the headquarters of the world’s most powerful superhero hidden beneath his home. When villains attack, they must team up to defend the headquarters and save the world.

(21) LEAP YEAR. In the lead-up to SDCC, the showrunners of the new Quantum Leap sequel series have released some information about the show, which begins airing in September. Entertainment Weekly has the story: “Quantum Leap bosses preview thrilling new chapter”.

…Described as a spiritual scientist, quantum physicist Dr. Song has a specific approach to time travel. “He is compelled over and over again to make the right decision, even if his own life is at stake, so he is a much better person than I am in real life. He’s something to strive for,” Lee says. Dr. Song immigrated from Korea with his mother, which will be integral to the story Quantum Leap is telling. “We’re telling an immigrant story at its core, and it is how Ben is experiencing life moving forward,” Lilien explains.

Dr. Song’s partner will be decorated Army veteran Addison (Caitlin Bassett), who assists in the form of a hologram that only Ben can see and hear. While the pair’s dynamic has the banter of Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) and Admiral Albert Calavicci (Dean Stockwell), the new iteration will be different. “Their relationship runs deeper than just being a hologram. They have a close relationship,” Lilien teases….

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] RE the upcoming Quantum Leap series sequel, several years ago Colbert had Scott Bakula on The Late Show and they tried a reboot of their own.  Maybe the new series can take a page from them.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/11/22 Properly-Grounded Electronic Sheep May Safely Graze

(1) IT WON A HUGO; DOES THAT HELP? What does James Davis Nicoll’s Young People Read Old SFF panel think of C.J. Cherryh’s “Cassandra”?

July 2022’s entry in Young People Read Old Hugo Finalists is C. J. Cherryh’s 1979​ “Cassandra”. C. J. Cherryh should need no introduction. Over the course of nearly half a century, she has published dozens of books, and is still actively raking in award nominations and wins in awards as diverse as the Hugo [1], the Nebula, the British Science Fiction Award, the Nebula, and the World Fantasy Award. That said, if there is one thing this project teaches us, it is that all the accolades in the world do not necessarily translate into accolades from the Young People. Let’s see what they thought…. 

(2) JWST. NASA’s “First Images from the James Webb Space Telescope” begin with one unveiled by the President.

On Monday, July 11, President Joe Biden released one of the James Webb Space Telescope’s first images in a preview event at the White House in Washington. NASA, in partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency), will release the full set of Webb’s first full-color images and spectroscopic data during a televised broadcast beginning at 10:30 a.m. EDT (14:30 UTC) on Tuesday, July 12, from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Learn more about how to watch.

This first image from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date. Known as Webb’s First Deep Field, this image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 is overflowing with detail. Thousands of galaxies – including the faintest objects ever observed in the infrared – have appeared in Webb’s view for the first time. This slice of the vast universe covers a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground. Learn more about this image here: NASA’s Webb Delivers Deepest Infrared Image of Universe Yet.

(3) WHAT I SAW ON MULBERRY STREET. “Some Surprising Good News: Bookstores Are Booming and Becoming More Diverse”. The New York Times says “More than 300 bookstores have opened in the past couple of years — a revival that is meeting a demand for ‘real recommendations from real people.’”

People told Lucy Yu it was a crazy time to open a bookstore in Chinatown. It was early 2021, and the pandemic had devastated the neighborhood, forcing dozens of stores and restaurants to close. The rise of anti-Asian hate crimes had shaken residents and local business owners.

But Ms. Yu believed that a bookstore was just what the neighborhood needed.

She raised around $20,000 on GoFundMe, enough to rent a narrow storefront — a former funeral supply store — on Mulberry Street in downtown Manhattan. A neighborhood grant gave her $2,000 for shelves and books. And in December, she opened Yu and Me Books, which specializes in titles by and about immigrants and people of color.

The store was profitable within four months, Ms. Yu said….

(4) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Gregory Frost and Daniel Braum on Wednesday, July 20 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Gregory Frost

Gregory Frost writes across the fantasy spectrum. He’s currently at work on a fantasy set in 12th Century Scotland, a supernatural western mashup set in 1858, and a hard sf story in collaboration with his late friend, the inestimable Bill Johnson. His previous collaborative story, with Michael Swanwick, won an Asimov’s Readers Award in the pre-COVID universe of 2015. Most days he’s accompanied by his cat.

Daniel Braum

Daniel Braum’s latest collection Underworld Dreams is full of stories that explore the tension between the supernatural and the psychological. His novella The Serpent’s Shadow and collection The Night Marchers and Other Strange Tales are out with Cemetery Dance eBooks. His novel Servant of the Eighth Wind is forthcoming from Lethe Press.

They are in-person at the KGB Bar. Masks welcome. KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs).

(5) JANUARY FIFTEENTH. It’s Rachel Swirsky’s turn to present “The Big Idea” at Whatever:

What would it be like if the United States of America had Universal Basic Income?

Tens of thousands of questions.

What kind of Universal Basic Income? How would it come about? How would it be regulated? Dispersed? Who determines eligibility? Who determines amount? Are there restrictions for felons? Does it come along with other social services or replace those systems entirely? Is there a trial run? How long will it last? Can it be canceled? What institutional forces might try to influence the project or hijack it for themselves?

Beyond logistics–and there are so many logistics–lie the lives inflected by innumerable variations. How do you raise children who have their own universal basic income? How do these new assets affect people in institutional care? In prison? In the military with a foreign girlfriend overseas?

When I began writing January Fifteenth, I started with one question, and ended up with more tangled stories than I could write.

(6) KU DEAL ON AMAZON PRIME DAY. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Amazon Prime Day (July 12-13) offers include 2 months of Kindle Unlimited, normally $9.99/month or something like that, for $0.99/month — jumping back to the full rate after two months if you don’t explicitly cancel before then.

(Not sure whether you have to be an Amazon Prime member to get this, since I already am anyway.)

(7) ALWAYS BE CLOSING. Sophie Flynn shares a lot of tips that can help writers draw attention to their books. Thread starts here.

(8) THINKING MACHINES. In episode 19 of the Science Fiction 101 podcast, “Do As A.I. Say”, Phil Nichols and Colin Kuskie delve into their favorite sci-fi artificial intelligences.

We largely ignore ambulatory A.I., so you won’t find much talk of robots or androids here. Instead we try (but don’t always succeed) to discuss the type of A.I. that won’t chase you down a corridor or strangle you.

Among the works mentioned are some Star Treks; some Keith Laumer, AsimovClarke and Gerrold; and several classic movies that highlight our human terror at the thought that computers might one day take over….

(9) SOLVING AN ONLINE MYSTERY. The Artifice Girl premieres at the Fantasia International Film Festival on July 23.

When an internet vigilante develops a revolutionary new computer program to combat online predators, its rapid advancement leads to serious questions of autonomy, oppression, and what it really means to be human.

(10) BOMBADIL, A PERPETUAL QUESTION. “Who is Tom Bombadil? In Search of the ‘One-Answer-To-Rule-Them-All'”: a profile of author C.R. Wiley at Front Porch Republic.

Who is Tom Bombadil? Readers of J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings, have been asking this question ever since the epic tome first appeared in print in 1954. Novice fans of the book as well as diehard veterans of Tolkien’s Legendarium are equally perplexed by this mysterious character. In their quest for answers, many have scrutinized every jot and tittle from Tolkien’s pen, but the esteemed author never reveals in the novel, in his letters, or in his other writings exactly who Tom is. Those who have only viewed Peter Jackson’s film trilogy (2001–2003) also wonder who this bewildering fellow is, since the director opted to exclude Bombadil from his big screen adaptation altogether. Jackson has stated the reason he cut Bombadil was because he felt that the character wasn’t essential to the basic plot of the story. Some readers of The Lord of the Rings agree – not only do they ask, “Who is Tom Bombadil?” but they also ask “Why is he there?”C. R. Wiley, in his accessible yet perceptive little book In the House of Tom Bombadil, argues that we need to change the way we approach the “who?” and “why?” of Tom Bombadil. Wiley suggests we need to grapple with the question, not as a modern scientist or as a Sherlock-like sleuth, but as a philologist steeped in medieval lore. This makes good sense given that Tolkien was a philologist and professor of Anglo-Saxon and Medieval English at Oxford University. His understanding and appreciation for languages and for the legends that grew from them helped shape every aspect of Tolkien’s Middle-earth mythology. If we are going to really understand Tom Bombadil, we must see him as an outworking of both Tolkien’s love of language and lore….

(11) MEMORY LANE

1942 [By Cat Eldridge.] I’m quite the fan of Dashiell Hammett, so I thought I’d take a look at the second filming of The Glass Key which happened eighty years ago. (This is an appreciation piece so this is not the date it premiered.) Why it was made a second time is simple: Paramount retained the rights to it and saw it as the vehicle to make Alan Ladd a star. They also considered it the first major film for Veronica Lake as well.

It has been just seven years since the first version had been done with George Raft playing Paul Madvig who Alan Ladd will play here. That film was quite successful, being one of Raft’s biggest box-office hits of the Thirties. Though critics one and all hated it. 

This version was directed by Stuart Heisler under contract to Paramount. All biographies of him say he was at best an uninspired director but he did a better job here according to critics than the 1935 director did. And critics really hadn’t been fond of Raft as Madvig. Stolid and boring got used a lot when describing Raft where Ladd was called cheerful. 

Of course it was a vehicle for Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake as one critic noted: “The Glass Key further increased the box-office pull of Paramount’s new team of Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake.” 

And another one echoed that: “The film is mostly done for entertainment purposes, as it lightly skips over the corrupt political process as merely background for the unlikely love story developing between the engaging Lake and the deadpan Ladd.”  

The two versions pretty much get the same rating at Rotten Tomatoes, the 1935 version gets sixty percent and the 1942 version gets seventy percent.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 11, 1899 E. B. White. Author of Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, both of which are surely genre. Along with William Strunk Jr. he’s the co-author of The Elements of Style English language style guide. In a survey of School Library Journal readers, Charlotte’s Web came in first in their poll of the top one hundred children’s novels. I know I saw the Stuart Little film. It was, errr, cute. (Died 1985.)
  • Born July 11, 1913 Cordwainer Smith. Pen name of Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger. Most of his fiction was set in The Instrumentality of Mankind series which I know I’ve read once and really did like at the time. His short story, “The Game of Rat and Dragon”, was nominated at NYCon II (1956), and The Planet Buyer was nominated at LonCon II (1965). The usual suspects are well stocked with his novels and short stories, and “Scanners Live in Vain”, a most excellent novella. It was nominated for a 1951 Retro-Hugo Award. (Died 1966.)
  • Born July 11, 1920 Yul Brynner. The Gunslinger in Westworld and its sequel Futureword.  He would also play Carson, a human warrior in the post-apocalyptic The Ultimate Warrior. Are we considering The King and I genre or even genre adjacent?  If we are, he played Prince Mongkut in the short-lived Anna and the King as well. Ok I’m declaring it genre as the Siam there is a fantasy Siam, not actual Siam. (Died 1985.)
  • Born July 11, 1925 David Graham, 97. The voice of Daleks in the early years of Doctor Who including two very non-canon films, Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.; his voice work made him a sought after worker and he’d be used on Thunderbirds, the rather excellent Asterix & Obelix Take On CaesarTimeslip, the superb Moomin, Stingray and even the recent Thunderbirds Are Go.
  • Born July 11, 1950 Bruce McGill, 72. His first role was as Director Eugene Matuzak in Time Cop. He later has got one-offs in Quantum Leap (twice), Babylon 5Voyager and Tales from the Crypt.  He’s in the first television remake of The Man Who Fell to Earth as Vernon Gage. If MacGyver counts as genre and I for one think that it should, he has the recurring role of Jack Dalton there. 
  • Born July 11, 1956 Amitav Ghosh, 66. Author of the absolutely brilliant The Calcutta Chromosome: A Novel of Fevers, Delirium and Discovery which won the Arthur C Clarke Award. Really just go read it and we’ll discuss it over a cup of chai masala. His newest work is Jungle Nama, a graphic novel with illustrations by Pakistan-born Salman Toor based on the medieval Bengali tale about the forest (Sundarbans) goddess, Bon Bibi. Seriously, I need to read more of his fiction. 
  • Born July 11, 1958 Alan Gutierrez, 64. An artist and illustrator, specializing in SF and fantasy cover art. His first professional sale was to the now defunct semi-professional Fantasy Book in 1983. He then began producing work for Baen Books, Tor Books,Pequod Press and other publishers. He has also painted covers for Analog Magazine, Aboriginal Science Fiction, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and other SF magazines. He’s been nominated for five Asimov’s Readers Awards and two Analog Awards as well. 
  • Born July 11, 1959 Richard James Bleiler, 63. Genres breed academics. One of them is this bibliographer of speculative fiction, crime, and adventure fiction. Among his papers are “The Fantastic Pulp Fiction of Frank Belknap Long” which appeared in Gary Hoppenstand’s Pulp Fiction of the ’20S and ’30S and “Forgotten Giant: A Brief History of Adventure Magazines” which was published in Extrapolation: A Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

(13) ROSWELL ANNIVERSARY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Dave Kindy has a piece on the 75th anniversary of the UFO incident in Roswell, New Mexico (which took place on July 8, 1947).  He interviews aerospace historian Roger Launius, who notes that in 1994 the Air Force said the “UFO debris” was part of a high-altitude balloon launched as part of Project Mogul, which was “designed to intercept Russian radio messages via high-altitude.”  Because Project Mogul was classified the Air force bungled its response to the incident and created UFOlogy. “Roswell ‘flying saucer’ report 75 years ago sparked UFO obsession”.

 The world was worrying about war when rancher W.W. Brazel walked into the sheriff’s office in Corona, N.M., on a hot, dusty day 75 years ago to report a “flying disk” he might have found on his property, about 100 miles northwest of Roswell Army Air Field.

The next day — July 8, 1947 — the public information officer at the base issued a news release stating the U.S. Army Air Forces had recovered a “flying saucer” at the ranch. While military brass quickly retracted the statement, it was too late: The legend of Roswell as the “UFO Capital of the World” was already soaring — much like the countless bright objects many Americans claimed to have seen in the sky that summer….

(14) DIGITAL IN 1982. “40 Years Ago, Disney’s Weirdest Failure Changed Sci-Fi Movies Forever” contends Fatherly.

…But even more groundbreaking than the idea was the unique approach to visual effects. While The Last Starfighter would push the boundaries of computer-generated special effects two years later, Tron’s method of integrating human performers with a mostly empty virtual world was simultaneously stunning and moody as hell. While Bridges, Cindy Morgan, Bruce Boxleitner, and David Warner were shot with old-school backlighting techniques, the fact that their vehicles (LIGHT CYCELES!) and surroundings would be all digital was pretty much brand new….

(15) MORE STYLISH THAN THE TARDIS? [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Jon Pertwee shows up on Blue Peter with Doctor Who’s Whomobile in this clip from November 1973 that dropped today.

Doctor Who star Jon Pertwee glides into the Blue Peter studio for a chat with Peter Purves about the Whomobile, the Doctor’s unique new mode of transport.

(16) HARLEY QUINN. HBO Max dropped a trailer for the third season of Harley Quinn today. It arrives on July 28.

The mayhem and madness continue in season three of this biting and uproarious adult animated comedy series. Wrapping up their “Eat. Bang! Kill. Tour,” Harley Quinn (Kaley Cuoco) and Poison Ivy (Lake Bell) return to Gotham as the new power couple of DC villainy. Along with their ragtag crew – King Shark (Ron Funches), Clayface (Alan Tudyk), Frank the Plant (JB Smoove) – “Harlivy” strives to become the best version of themselves while also working towards Ivy’s long desired plan of transforming Gotham into an Eden paradise.

(17) SPACEX SETBACK. “Starship Booster Explodes During SpaceX Ground Test” reports Gizmodo.

SpaceX is in the midst of preparing its Starship rocket for its inaugural orbital launch, but an apparent explosion of the Super Heavy booster during tests at the company’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas, may represent a serious setback.

The explosion happened around 5:20 p.m. ET, and it was as unexpected as it was severe. …

The Elon Musk-led company is currently testing Super Heavy Booster 7 at its Boca Chica facility, known as Starbase. The prototype booster, with its 33 Raptor engines, arrived at the launch mount in late June. A Starship second stage will eventually be stacked on top, forming a fully stacked Starship rocket. Musk was hoping for an orbital test flight of the system in July, but that seems unlikely given today’s events…. 

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele ask, “What If Hogwarts Were an Inner-City School?” in this clip from 2019.

An HBO documentary dives deep into the deplorable conditions at Vincent Clortho Public School for Wizards.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/7/22 What We Scroll In The Pixels

(1) THREE STORIES. Connie Willis is angry “Regarding the Roe V. Wade Decision”, and uses three stories to explain why.

Although in my private life, I’m intensely (some would say obsessively) interested in politics, I try to keep my website focused on writing. There are times, though, when it’s impossible because it’s just too personal. And I’m just too angry. This is one of those times.

In spite of what some on the right are trying to tell us is “just a distraction” and “no big deal,” two weeks ago the Supreme Court consigned every woman in America to living in a brave new world—or a bad old one. It’s one I—and my mother and grandmother—used to live in, and here are three stories to show you what it was like.

The first story is about college. I had four different friends in college (and knew several other girls in high school) who got pregnant and had to drop out of school to get married. Three wanted to be teachers and the other wanted to be a nurse. A couple of them were able to finish school and get their degrees later, but the others weren’t, and who knows if they would have ended up marrying the guys they did if they hadn’t gotten pregnant?

I do know that one spent HOURS running up and down the stairs in our dorm because someone had told her that would cause a miscarriage. She obviously wasn’t too enthused about the marriage she eventually went through with. I also don’t know if they wanted the babies—they didn’t have any choice….

(2) PAST MASTERS. With Tor.com operational again, that means you can read James Davis Nicoll’s assessment of “Five SF Stories About Long-Vanished Forerunners”.

Stories about precursors and forerunners appear frequently in science fiction (and fantasy). Why? For one thing, it’s just way cool to think that ancient civilizations and species might have risen and vanished long before we arrived on the scene. This is true in our real world. Why wouldn’t it be true of galactic civilizations? Also, relics of otherwise extinct civilizations play well in plots….

(3) MORE ABOUT WHAT’S OPERA, DOC?. [Item by Craig Miller.] Back in the ’70s, I met Chuck Jones, the cartoon’s director, and, among other things, we talked about “What’s Opera, Doc?”  During the conversation, I told him I thought Elmer should have sung “Smite da wabbit!!” instead of “Kill da wabbit!!”  Chuck stared at me for a moment, smiled and nodded, and said, “Where were you in 1957?”

 Then he drew this and gave it to me.

(4) LAW WEST OF THE INTERNATIONAL DATELINE. Australia’s Aurealis Awards have put out a “Call for Judges”. See full details and the application form at the link.

We are seeking expressions of interest from Australian residents who would like to judge for the 2022 Aurealis Awards. Judges are volunteers and are drawn from the Australian speculative fiction community, from diverse professions and backgrounds, including academics, booksellers, librarians, published authors, publishing industry professionals, reviewers and enthusiasts. The only qualification necessary is a demonstrated knowledge of and interest in their chosen category – good time management skills and an ability to work in a team in an online environment are also essential….

(5) FRENCH AWARD JURY. Meanwhile, the Prix Utopiales have already picked their judges: “Le jury du Prix Utopiales 2022 est désigné!”

Congratulations to Sébastien Dislair, Benjamin Le Saux, Céline Pohu and Helena Schoefs. And this year the President of the Jury is… Merwan (winner of the Utopiales Prize BD 2020 with “Celestly Mechanic” published in Dargaud editions).

(6) ILM. Disney+ dropped this trailer for a six-part series on Industrial Light and Magic, directed by Lawrence Kasdan.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY

2009 [By Cat Eldridge.] This is more an appreciation of Warehouse 13. It first aired this evening on what was then Sci Fi or possibly SyFy. I never could keep track its name. It was created by Jane Espenson, best known for her work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and D. Brent Mote, who other doing creating and writing this series, did nothing other than writing two episodes of Atomic Train, a series I very vaguely remember.

I loved Warehouse 13 fromthe very first opening episode where we meet U.S. Secret Service Agents Myka Bering as played by Joanne Kelly and Pete Lattimer as played by Eddie McClintock when they are assigned as punishment to the virtually unknown Warehouse 13 that holds a near infinity of supernatural artifacts.

The premise, not unlike that of the later Librarians series which also had a lot of strange artefacts, held delicious possibilities which for the most were delivered upon in each story.  And the chemistry was rather stellar between Myra and Pete.

The series would over the course of time add more characters such as the ever delightful Saul Rubinek as Artie Nielsen is the Special Agent in Charge at Warehouse 13 and CCH Pounder as Irene Frederic, one of the Regents who’ve overseen the Warehouses for millennia.

I love the artefacts — be they Lewis Carroll’s looking glass, which contained an evil entity called Alice which possessed Myka, or the fact that all of the artefacts react with electricity and can be neutralized by dunking them  in a never explained  purple goo after being placed inside a reflective bag, both from by Global Dynamics. Yes this series is in the Eureka continium.  Cool, very cool indeed. 

It was allowed a proper wrapping up in which the team deals with the news that Warehouse 13 is moving to a new location, so Mrs. Frederic has them load their greatest memories of their missions into an artefact for future generations.

I will rewatch it at some point as it’s streaming on Peacock. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 7, 1907 — Robert Heinlein. So let’s have Paul Weimer tell about his favorite Heinlein works: “If I had to pick one favorite Heinlein novel, and that’s a tough road to hoe, I am going to go with the novel I’ve re-read the most and it’s probably not going to be the one you think.  It’s Glory Road. Yes, Glory Road. The back matter once the quest is done can be overcooked, but Heinlein had a keen eye for epic fantasy quests, the good and the bad, long before the rise of Tolkien clones. It was an early Heinlein for me, and the novel has stuck with me since, with a number of audio re-reads. I survived a boring drive across the flatness of the Great Plains by listening to the adventures of Oscar Gordon.” // If I had to pick one Heinlein story, I have a strong fondness for All You Zombies, which encapsulates all the potential paradoxes of time travel in a way that has been done at greater length, but not, I’d argue, with better effect. (The movie Predestination with Ethan Hawke is pretty darned good by the way). Oh, and my favorite book ABOUT Heinlein is Farah Mendelsohn’s The Pleasant Profression of Robert Heinlein. (Died 1988.)
  • Born July 7, 1919 — Jon Pertwee. The Third Doctor and one that I’ll admit I like a lot. He returned to the role of the Doctor in The Five Doctors and the charity special Dimensions in Time for Children in Need. He also portrayed the Doctor in the stage play Doctor Who – The Ultimate Adventure.  After a four-year run there, he was the lead on Worzel Gummidge where he was, errr, a scarecrow. And I must note that one of his first roles was as The Judge in the film of Toad of Toad Hall by A. A. Milne. (Died 1996.)
  • Born July 7, 1931 — David Eddings. Prolific and great. With his wife Leigh, they authored several best-selling epic fantasy series, including The BelgariadThe Malloreon and The Dreamers to name but three of their series. They’ve written but one non-series novel, The Redemption of Althalus. A note of warning: it’s extremely likely that both omnibus editions of his works for The Belgariad and The Malloreon available currently at the usual suspects are pirated. (Died 2009.)
  • Born July 7, 1936 — Lisa Seagram. I’m noting her here because she was in the Batman episode “Louie, the Lilac” as Lila in which Milton Berlin played the title character. She also had one-offs in both The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., plus My Favorite Martian and Bewitched. Impressive genre creds indeed! (Died 2019.)
  • Born July 7, 1959 — Billy Campbell, 63. There are some films so good in my memory that even the Suck Fairy can’t spoil them and The Rocketeer in which he played stunt pilot Cliff Secord is one of them. (IDW did a hardcover edition called Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures which Amazon has it for a mere twenty bucks! And the ePub is available from the usual suspects for a mere five dollars and ninety nine cents.) Yes, he did other work of genre interest including the main role of Jordan Collier on The 4400, Quincey Morris on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Captain Thadiun Okona in “The Outrageous Okona” episode of Next Gen, the Maine Dr. Alan Farragut on Helix and he’s currently voicing Okona once again on Prodigy.
  • Born July 7, 1968 — Jeff VanderMeer, 54. Ok I’ll admit that I’m ambivalent about the Southern Reach Trilogy and am not sure if it’s brilliant or not though it is I’ll say quite disturbing. (Haven’t seen the film and have no desire to so.) I will say the pirate anthology he and his wife Anne did, Fast Ships, Black Sails, is quite tasty reading.  Now let’s see what the Hugos would hold for him. At Noreascon 4 for The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases which I truly, madly love, he got a Hugo. He along with his Ann picked up at Anticipation up one for Best Semiprozine: for Weird Tales. It would be nominated the next year at Aussiecon 4 but Clarkesworld would win as it would the Renovation losing out again to ClarkesworldThe Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature which he co-edited with  S. J. Chambers was nominated at Chicon 7, the year The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction won. Another Best Related Work was nominated at Loncon 3, Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction, the year Kameron Hurley’s “We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative” won. Finally the film Annihilation based off the Southern Reach trilogy was nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo at Dublin 2019 it list to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  • Born July 7, 1969 — Cree Summer, 53. Voice performer in myriad series such as as Spider-Man: The New Animated SeriesJustice League UnlimitedStar Wars: The Clone Wars, and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. She’s playing a number of the cast in the current Young Justice series including Madame Xanadu and Aquagirl.
  • Born July 7, 1987 — V. E. Schwab, 35. I’m very pleased with her A Darker Shade of Magic which explores magicians in a parallel universe London. It’s part of her Shades of Magic series which is quite stellar. Highly recommended. Her Cassidy Blake series is also good provided you’re a Potter fan as she makes a lot of references to that series. She’s very well stocked at the usual suspects.

(9) THE END IS NOT AS NEAR. Although Stranger Things is expected to end with Season 5, that will not necessarily be the last encounter with the Upside Down. “’Stranger Things’ Spinoff, Stage Play in the Works at Netflix”Variety has the story.

…Under their overall deal with Netflix, the Duffers — Matt and Ross — have established the production company Upside Down Pictures, bringing on Hilary Leavitt to run the company.

Among the new projects they have in development, the Duffers are officially working on a “Stranger Things” spinoff series, though exact plot details remain under wraps. The show will be based on an original idea by the Duffers with Upside Down Pictures and 21 Laps producing. The Duffers have previously said that the show would not focus on characters like Eleven or Steve Harrington.

In addition, a stage play set within the world and mythology of “Stranger Things” is in the works. It will be produced by Sonia Friedman, Stephen Daldry, and Netflix. Daldry will also direct. Kate Trefry will write. 21 Laps serves as associate producer….

(10) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 61 of the Octothorpe podcast is up! “That Little Voice in Your Head”.

John Coxon has a hat on, Alison Scott is taking the baton, and Liz Batty twirls. We discuss COVID policies a bit, before we get into Olav Rokne’s proposal to scrap the 25% rule in the Hugo Awards and then talk quite a lot about robots.

(11) KNIT PICKING. Electra Hammond on Facebook shared a screenshot of tonight’s Jeopardy! category “The Scarf.” Says Hammond, “They had to have created the category just so they could have *this* clue. I’m sure of it.”

(12) JUST THROW IT OUT THE WINDOW. Well, not quite. Gizmodo watches as “Nanoracks Performs First Test of ISS Waste Disposal Technology”.

…On July 2, a highly-engineered trash bag holding 172 pounds (78 kilograms) of ISS garbage was jettisoned from the space station and sent to its fiery doom in Earth’s atmosphere. It’s one small step for Nanoracks, but a giant leap for the future of celestial waste disposal. The test, conducted in partnership with NASA’s Johnson Space Center, could represent a more efficient way for ISS astronauts to keep their house in order.

“Waste collection in space has been a long standing, yet not as publicly discussed, challenge aboard the ISS,” said Cooper Read, Nanoracks’ Bishop Airlock program manager, in a press release. “This was the first open-close cycle of the Bishop Airlock, our first deployment, and what we hope is the beginning of new, more sustainable ISS disposal operations,” said Nanoracks CEO Amela Wilson.

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Of course Superman and Batman have to show up in this How It Should Have Ended video, which dropped today. “How Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Should Have Ended”.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Craig Miller, John Coxon, Daniel Dern, 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 Tom Becker.]