(0) WGA/AMPTP REACH DEAL. Shortly after the Scroll was posted, I received this news item reported by Variety: “Deal! WGA, AMPTP Agree to Deal After 146-Day Writers Strike”.
Hollywood heaves a sigh of relief. The WGA and major studios and streamers have reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract that promises to end the 146-day strike that has taken a heavy toll across the content industry.
Negotiators for the Writers Guild of America and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers reached the finish line Sunday after five consecutive days of negotiations. Day 4 on Saturday mostly involved lawyers for the guild and AMPTP hashing out the fine print of language around complicated and groundbreaking additions to the WGA’s Minimum Basic Agreement. The nitty-gritty details of language around the use of generative AI in content production was one of the last items that the sides worked on before closing the pact.
“We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional – with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership,” the WGA Negotiating Committee wrote in an email to sent to members at 7:10 p.m. PT (Full text below).
The three-year contract will be sent to WGA members for a ratification vote. After nearly five months on strike – the work stoppage began May 2 – it’s highly likely to pass muster with the WGA’s 11,000 members, especially with the enthusiastic endorsement of WGA leaders. As momentum built this week, negotiators began to look at the approach of the Yom Kippur holiday on Sunday as a soft target deadline….
(1) HUGO VOTING DEADLINE. Voting for 2023 Hugo Award, Astounding Award and Lodestar Award closes less than a week from now on September 30 at 11:59 p.m. Hawaiian Time. Don’t miss your chance to cast and update your ballot before the deadline.
(2) YOU STEPPED OUT OF A DREAM. I dreamed last night I was watching a stand-up comic perform. He got to part of a story where emergency vehicles were responding to a situation and he was imitating the siren/bell/electronic squawks they made — which was surprising (and possibly unlikely) he could do with his voice alone, but it was mentally up to me to decide when he had made enough different noises to be funny but without doing too many to kill the joke. Apparently I woke up at the point I decided he’d done enough.
(3) FIFTH ELEMENTS. New Scientist presents “Five of sci-fi’s best corporate villains, according to author John Scalzi”. Read fast – New Scientist lets you read for a few seconds before blocking with a request that you register for an account to continue reading.
In my latest novel Starter Villain, the book’s protagonist, Charlie Fitzer, inherits his mysterious uncle’s vast corporate empire – only to discover that underpinning it all is a supervillainy business that rivals anything that James Bond’s adversaries might have ever imagined.
While my book takes place in today’s world, there are definitely unexpected elements (wait until you meet the cats!) that make for a mash-up of wild science fiction and modern corporatised evil. But of course, Starter Villain isn’t the first work to blend the two concepts.
Submitted below, for your approval, are five cinematic (non-007) works from across several decades that have offered up the sort of villains who show up in my novel….
One of his choices is:
Aliens(1986): In the original Alien (1979), it is clear that the Weyland-Yutani corporation that has sent the crew of the Nostromo to pick up a murderous, extraterrestrial egg values its military branch’s profits more than humans. But in this excellent and rather tonally different sequel, that corporate ethos is given a face in Carter Burke (Paul Reiser), a striving middle-management type who just doesn’t understand why Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) can’t see the financial opportunity the aliens offer the company. Appropriately, it’s the aliens themselves who eventually show him the error of his ways.
(4) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]
Chengdu Science Fiction Season. I’m not sure how officially these are associated with the Worldcon, but there have been a few events under the “2023 Chengdu Science Fiction Season” branding, which include the Chengdu Worldcon name and panda logo on their photos and videos.
- (i) Touch Science Fiction: A Magnificent Adventure Through the Imaginary World talk — https://www.sohu.com/a/721301484_355475
On September 15th, writer 泽泽 / Ze Ze gave a talk at a Chengdu primary school about the history of SF, which apparently went as far as explaining the difference between hard and soft SF.
- (ii) Why Should You Read SF in the Age of Science and Technology? Talk — https://www.sohu.com/a/722160524_121168497
This is another talk to schoolkids, this time by La Zi (aka Latssep), who works at SF World magazine, and co-edited one of the Best Fanzine finalists. This line caught my eye:
First of all, [La Zi] started by talking about three “major science fiction events” that happened around us, the World Science Fiction Conference, The Wandering Earth, General Secretary Xi’s speech…
That’s the Google Translate rendering, but I also put that text through the DeepL and Vivaldi Lingvanex translators, and they all came out with similar results.
- (iii) Infinite Possibilities of Science Fiction and Art panel — https://tech.china.com/hea/article/20230920/092023_1410643.html
This took place on September 16 in Chengdu, and featured Best Short Story finalist Lu Ban alongside a moderator and a couple of others.
- (iv) Sichuan / Chongqing University SF club forum — https://weibo.com/2889308430/NkOlHhbXa (post with photos of the event); https://weibo.com/1660282297/NkvQcBpcp (earlier post on Friday with info, and a 95 minute untranslated/unsubtitled video of the event).
I’m not sure when exactly this took place. The Friday post talks about an event that happened this afternoon (Sunday 24th), but has a video of the panel, so whatever happened today can’t have been that panel? (I think that panel may have been streamed live, per the text in the top right of the video?) The panelists include one of the Worldcon division heads, and a couple of writers who’ve had stories published in English translation.
The people on stage, from left:
- The lady hosting the panel is 陈曜 / Chen Yao aka Sara Chen, who works at SF World magazine, and is one of the Worldcon division heads.
- The guy in the black North Face polo shirt is 谢云宁 / Xie Yunning, who won the Xingyun Best Novel award in 2021, but doesn’t seem to have had anything published in English.
- Third panelist (guy with glasses) is 阿缺 / A Que, who has had several stories published in Clarkesworld, and also one in the Sinopticon anthology.
- The lady in the blue top is 程婧波 / Cheng Jingbo, who has also had a few stories translated into English, and has an SFE entry https://sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/cheng_jingbo
- Fifth panelist (guy with glasses) 天瑞说符 / Tianrui Fu, webnovelist. He has a translation of one of his works available on Amazon ( https://www.amazon.co.uk/Die-Mars-Chinese-science-fiction-ebook/dp/B07YH2HXR7 ), but from a very quick skim, it doesn’t look like anyone who was a native speaker was involved in the translation.
- Rightmost panelist: 张玉乐 / Zhang Yule, president of a university SF society
Early on, after giving an overview of what Worldcons are, and a bit of background about the Hugos, between 17:45 and 20:05, Chen Yao namechecks all the Hugo finalists that SF World has published, has scheduled to publish in the future, or employs (in the case of the editor finalists), all of which were on the recommendation list mentioned in the Scroll a couple of months ago. I’m sure none of that is an attempt to influence Hugo voters….
(5) THE GODS THEMSELVES. “Krapopolis Review: Dan Harmon Sitcom Off to Promising Start” declares Variety.
Ever since the success, demise, rebirth and extended afterlife of the NBC-turned-Yahoo sitcom “Community,” the showrunner Dan Harmon has largely avoided the strictures of network TV. With his cynical streak and meta references, Harmon’s niche sensibility was always an awkward fit for a mass audience; even when “Community” was on the air, it was perpetually on the verge of cancellation. As television expanded rapidly in the 2010s, Harmon found a more natural home in cable and streaming. Despite the departure of “Rick and Morty” co-creator and star Justin Roiland amid allegations of sexual assault, the hit show is now entering its seventh season on Adult Swim; earlier this year, Harmon helped adapt the web comic “Strange Planet” into a series for Apple TV+.
With the animated half-hour “Krapopolis,” however, Harmon makes his official return to a broadcast network. Airing on Fox, “Krapopolis” is at least guaranteed the stability “Community” never enjoyed; ahead of its premiere on Sept. 24, the show has already been renewed through Season 3. And due to the ongoing strikes, “Krapopolis” is now, by default, one of the tentpoles of its network’s fall schedule, with new live-action series postponed until further notice.
That’s a heavy load to bear for an amusing, high-concept riff on the family sitcom set in an extremely loose rendition of ancient Greece. Physically weak and intellectually arrogant, 29-year-old Tyrannis (Richard Ayoade) is a man ahead of his time, so he’s recruited his warrior sister Stupendous (Pam Brady) and scientist half-brother Hippocampus (Duncan Trussell) to help him build a modern city-state. (“He tells powerless people they’re powerful and they like that, so they give him all their power,” one citizen says of Tyrannis’ skill set.) But first, Tyrannis must persuade the skeptical, not least among them his own parents: vain goddess Deliria (Hannah Waddingham) and Shlub (Matt Berry), a manticore-like hybrid of several different creatures….
(6) SFF THAT IS UNEXPECTEDLY PREDICTIVE. Gizmodo says this is “The Summer That Reality Caught Up to Climate Fiction”.
…What once sounded outlandish, like material for a dystopian novel, is looking more and more like reality. So what is a writer of fiction supposed to do? For decades, authors have speculated what the world might look like when the climate from hell arrives. Consider American War by Omar El Akkad, set in 2074 during the outbreak of a civil war set off by a ban on fossil fuels, when Florida is erased from the map and Louisiana is half-underwater. In the six years since the book’s publication, the United States has become the most deeply polarized democracy in recent history; the intensity of heat waves and other disasters have eclipsed expectations. Earlier this year, the magazine Writer’s Digest called American War an “all-too-realistic cautionary tale.”
But El Akkad never intended it to be realistic at all. I asked him if it felt like the novel was starting to come true. “I thought that the way I had structured it was enough of an extrapolation that I wouldn’t have to deal with precisely the question you’re asking,” El Akkad told me. “And that has been obliterated in the last few years. That, to me, is terrifying.”
Extreme weather has melted the distinction between fact and fiction. As El Akkad described it, global warming doesn’t feel slow and steady; it feels more like falling down the stairs, with big drops that shake your expectations. One moment, you’re taking a nap in your house; the next, you’re running for your life from a wildfire. This year, a naturally hotter weather pattern called El Niño started setting in, adding extra heat on top of the climate change we’ve become accustomed to. July was the planet’s hottest month on record, clocking in at 1.5 degrees C (2.4 F) warmer than the preindustrial average. The disasters this summer serve as a preview of what the world could see during a typical year in the early 2030s. We no longer need authors or scientists to imagine it; real-world experience does the trick for anyone who’s paying close attention…..
(7) HWA LATINX INTERVIEW SERIES. “Latinx Heritage in Horror: Interview with Javier Loustaunau” is the latest in the Horror Writers Association blog’s series.
What inspired you to start writing?
I grew up in a house surrounded by books so there was never a moment where I did not think I was going to write, it felt like everyone must write for there to be this many books. Really, I was just impatient to grow up a little and become a better writer, somebody who did not have to lean so hard imitating other writers. One thing that helped me as a writer was when I reached out to the Marvel editorial asking for help on becoming a comic book writer and I got a response from Stan Lee (or more likely his assistant) telling me it does not matter what I write but I need to write every single day if I want to improve. So I wrote letters, I wrote reviews, I wrote poems, I translated, I journaled… but I made sure I always wrote every single day.
(8) SIGHTS AND SOUNDS. Rebecca F. Kuang shares literary and cultural recommendations with the Guardian in: “On my radar: Rebecca F Kuang’s cultural highlights”. The second item is —
Clarice Lispector’s The Hour of the Star, translated by Benjamin Moser
A few months ago, I hosted a friend from Colombia who was touring my university. After a morning walk in the cemetery, we ended up at the campus Barnes & Noble, where we picked out favourite novels for the other to read. Rather predictably, we went for the Nobel laureates – I chose for her Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, and she chose Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera. She also included a random bonus pick – a short, translated novel by Ukrainian-born Brazilian novelist Clarice Lispector, which I enjoyed so much I have since copied out the following passage about writing in several letters to friends: “All this, yes, the story is history. But knowing beforehand so you never forget that the word is the fruit of the word, the word must resemble the word. Reaching it is my first duty to myself. And the word can’t be dressed up and artistically vain, it can only be itself. Well, it’s true that I also wanted to arrive at a sheer sensation and for it to be so sheer that it couldn’t break into a perpetual line.” The word can only be itself. Good advice for every time I sit down to write….
(9) REST IN PEACE TACO CAT. Cat Rambo shared this sad news today:
Earlier this year Taco was part of our Cats Sleep on SFF series in “Proud Pink Sky” – photo at the link.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born September 24, 1922 — Bert Ira Gordon. He not only wrote but directed such films as Serpent Island, King Dinosaur, The Amazing Colossal Man, Earth vs. the Spider, Village of the Giants and Empire of the Ants. Aren’t those truly deliciously pulpy SF film titles? (I need more adjectives, I truly do.) Forrest J Ackerman nicknamed him “Mr. B.I.G.” a reference to both his initials and his films’ tendency to feature super-sized creatures. (Died 2023.)
- Born September 24, 1930 — Jack Gaughan. Artist and illustrator who won the Hugo several times including once for Best Professional Artist and Best Fan Artist in the same year. Most of his work from 1970 onward was for Ace and DAW. He illustrated the covers and hand-lettered title pages for the unauthorized first paperback edition of The Lord of the Rings which Ace released in 1965. Here’s those covers he did for The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. (Died 1985.)
- Born September 24, 1934 — John Brunner. My favorite works by him? The Shockwave Rider, Stand on Zanzibar which won a Hugo at St. Louiscon and The Sheep Look Up. I’m also fond of The Squares of The City which was nominated for a Hugo at Tricon. What’s your favorite works by him? (Died 1995.)
- Born September 24, 1936 — Jim Henson. As much as I love The Muppet Show, and I’ve watched every show at least twice, I think The Storyteller is his best work. That’s not to overlook Labyrinth, The Witches, (yes I know it’s now considered misogynistic) The Dark Crystal and the first two Muppets films which are also excellent. (I think they really did far too many Muppets films.) (Died 1990.)
- Born September 24, 1945 — David Drake, 78. I’d say his best-known solo work was the Hammer’s Slammers series. He has also written the Royal Cinnabar Navy series which are space operas inspired by the Aubrey–Maturin novels which i be not read. Opinions please on if I should do so. He has also drafted story ideas that were then finished off by co-authors such as Karl Edward Wagner, S.M. Stirling, and Eric Flint. He’s very, very well stocked at the usual suspects. Usual suspects for those of you are curious being Apple Books, Kindle and Kobo.
- Born September 24, 1945 — Ian Stewart, 78. Mathematician and writer. He makes the Birthday Honors for the four volumes in The Science of Discworld series he wrote with Jack Cohen and Terry Pratchett. It was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000. Each of the books alternates between the usually absurd Discworld story and serious scientific exposition. (All four volumes are available from the usual suspects.) He would write a number of genre novels, none of which I’m familiar with. Anybody here read his works?
- Born September 24, 1957 — Brad Bird, 66. Animator, director, screenwriter, producer, and occasionally even a voice actor whom I’m going to praise for directing The Iron Giant (nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000), The Incredibles (winner of Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form at Interaction), Incredibles 2 and Tomorrowland. He’s the voice of Edna Mode in both the Incredibles films, a most excellent role indeed.
- Born September 24, 1965 — Richard K. Morgan, 58. The Takeshi Kovacs novels are an awesome series that I’ve read at least twice which are why I haven’t watched the Netflix series. His fantasy series, A Land Fit For Heroes, is still on my TBR To Be Listened To pile. I read the first of the Black Man series and will admit that I was far from impressed.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- Bizarro is kind of a police procedural. Sort of.
- Brewster Rockit is a didactic strip about the OSIRIS-Rex mission, with a surprise twist at the end.
- Tom Gauld reveals another benefit of reading.
- And Tom Gauld knows something about co-workers’ social lives.
(12) SHRINKING COMICS SECTION. Cartoonist Dave Kellett on X reports Gannett Newspapers is cost-cutting and has limited ALL its 200 papers to just these 34 comics.
The Daily Cartoonist has a list of “The Gannett 34”.
The USA TODAY Network/Gannett group has released a list of the selected 34 comic strips and panels that local editors and publishers will* choose from to run in their newspapers – not all will run in all (any?) of the papers.
The chosen strips and panels:
Group 1: Blondie, Zits, Beetle Bailey, Family Circus, Hagar the Horrible, Dennis the Menace
Group 2: Garfield, Peanuts, For Better or Worse, Baby Blues, Pickles, FoxTrot
Group 3: Pearls Before Swine, Jump Start, Ziggy, Marmaduke, Non Sequitur, Crabgrass
Group 4 Crankshaft, Luann, Baldo, Frank & Ernest, The Born Loser
Group 5: B.C., Wizard of Id, Close to Home, Argyle Sweater, Mother Goose, Rose is Rose
Group 6: Hi & Lois, Mutts, Curtis, Shoe, The Lockhorns
(13) DRAGONSLAYER. On the “DARK DISNEY – Part 1: Dragonslayer (1981)” episode of Erik Hanson’s Cradle to the Grave podcast the host is joined by guests Clay McLeod Chapman, Junot Diaz, and Stephen Bissette.
Have you ever wanted to see a Disney movie where the Princess gets her foot chewed off by a baby dragon? Well, look no further, Dragonslayer has you covered! Here to chat about said foot-chewing are 3 of the biggest Dragonslayer fans I could find: Author Clay McLeod Chapman, Author Junot Diaz, and comic book writer / artist Stephen Bissette. Together we dive deep into the era known as “Dark Disney” and come to the realization that Disney has ALWAYS BEEN DARK!
(14) I COULD HAVE HAD A V-2. The National Air and Space Museum blog article “Restoring the Museum’s V-2 Missile” goes into fascinating detail about the history of the components in the museum’s V-2, and the painstaking research to explain which of the paint jobs applied over the years might be the most historically accurate.
One of the icons of the Museum’s location on the National Mall has been the black-and-white German V-2 ballistic missile. Ever since the building opened in July 1976, it stood in Space Hall, which in 1997 was revised to become Space Race. That rocket, currently off display, will return in a new guise, with green camouflage paint, when the hall reopens in a few years as RTX Living in the Space Age….
In a parallel project, Duane Decker of the Preservation and Restoration Unit redid the V-2 launch stand, which is original German mobile launch equipment transferred by NASA Marshall in 1975. Painted black, it was used to support the missile in Space Hall/Space Race. When he stripped it, he found no original paint. I consulted with Tracy Dungan, who supplied 1944 images that showed German stands painted in “dark yellow,” the late-war Wehrmacht vehicle camouflage. Duane painted ours in that color and it will once again support the rocket when it goes back on display in RTX Living in the Space Age.
This time the stand and rocket will be on top of a pedestal in the Missile Pit, the hole in the center of the gallery floor that allows taller rockets to fit under the roof. Lifted up to floor level, visitors will be able to see the stand and the rocket much as they would have looked during the V-2 campaign of 1944-1945. I very much look forward to the day when we again assemble and mount this important and deadly icon of the missile and space age.
(15) SUCCESSION. The Guardian says “Studio Ghibli to be acquired by Nippon TV after struggle to find a successor to Miyazaki”.
Weeks after the celebrated Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki made his long-awaited comeback, the studio he founded almost four decades ago has secured its long-term future, easing concerns over its struggle to find a successor.
Studio Ghibli said this week that the company would be acquired by the private broadcaster, Nippon TV, which promised to continue building on Ghibli’s global success.
Miyazaki – widely considered to be one of the world’s greatest animators – founded Studio Ghibli in 1985, leading it to a string of successes, including an Oscar in 2003 for Spirited Away.
The studio built a loyal following around the world with films like My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke, while Miyazaki was nominated for two further Academy Awards – for Howl’s Moving Castle in 2006 and The Wind Rises in 2014 – the same year he was chosen to receive an honorary Oscar.
The agreement with Nippon TV, which will become Ghibli’s biggest shareholder, came after Miyazaki, 82, and its president, 75-year-old Toshio Suzuki, failed to persuade Miyazaki’s son to take over the running of the studio….
(16) HONEY, I’M HOME. “In a first, NASA returns asteroid samples to Earth” – NBC News has the story.
A capsule containing precious samples from an asteroid landed safely on Earth on Sunday, the culmination of a roughly 4-billion-mile journey over the past seven years.
The asteroid samples were collected by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, which flew by Earth early Sunday morning and jettisoned the capsule over a designated landing zone in the Utah desert. The unofficial touchdown time was 8:52 a.m. MT, 3 minutes ahead of the predicted landing time.
The dramatic event — which the NASA livestream narrator described as “opening a time capsule to our ancient solar system” — marked a major milestone for the United States: The collected rocks and soil were NASA’s first samples brought back to Earth from an asteroid. Experts have said the bounty could help scientists unlock secrets about the solar system and how it came to be, including how life emerged on this planet….
And — “NASA collected a sample from an asteroid for the first time — here’s why it matters” – The Verge will be happy to explain.
(17) A PART OF ONE PIECE. Gizmodo thinks “Jamie Lee Curtis May Have Achieved Her Dream of Being in One Piece” based on this Instagram.
(18) ANIME EXPLORATIONS. The prospect of Jamie Lee Curtis being cast in One Piece is also one of several topics taken up in episode 12 of the Anime Explorations Podcast, “Shirobako”. Another is Anime industry figures referenced in Shirobako. And Vampire Hunter D.
[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, Steven French, Alexander Case, Kathy Sullivan, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]