Pixel Scroll 9/20/22 Crisis Of Infinite Credentials: The Anti-Timothy Rises

(1) NONFICTION SPOTLIGHT Q&A. Cora Buhlert’s new “Non-Fiction Spotlight” is an interview with Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki about his collection Bridging WorldsBridging Worlds: Global Conversations On Creating Pan-African Speculative Literature In a Pandemic, edited by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki”.

What prompted you to write/edit this book?

It just seemed like often we were shouting into the void, and not being heard. The works we create were received with nary a thought for where they came from or the work that went into them. It might seem like a seperate issue, the origin of the work. But a creator’s identity is very valid to their creation. And you cannot properly value a body of work without knowing it’s history or it’s creator. I witnessed a lot of struggle during the pandemic year, from my perch in Nigeria. And interacted with a lot of writers and creatives of African descent. And I just knew that these experiences needed to be documented, seen and heard.

(2) LASFS WEBSITE REVIVAL. Kristine Cherry is bringing alive the latest iteration of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society’s website at LASFS.org. It includes a new blog whose latest feature is “A Letter to Forrest J Ackerman You Won’t Soon Forget”, which was written to Ackerman by Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1931.

(3) SUPPORT FOR INDIE AUTHORS. SFWA has added two sections to their “Indie Pub 101 Main Page”.

Launched in July, Indie Pub 101’s purpose is to provide up-to-date resources for indie authors so they can improve their craft, produce professional books, and promote their indie work competitively in the digital marketplace, using the best practices and innovations of successful indie authors. Of course, many of these resources are useful for creators using traditional publication paths as well.

The two new sections are:

(4) FREE READ. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Edify, a local affairs magazine in Edmonton, got Premee Mohamed to write a story for them. It’s odd, whimsical, and fairly short. “The Control of Certain Impulses”.

(5) 2022 ACFW CAROL AWARDS. The ACFW Carol Awards for Christian Fiction include a speculative fiction category. The complete list is of winners is here.

WINNER

  • Windward Shore by Sharon Hinck (Enclave)

OTHER FINALISTS

  • Secrets in the Mist (Skyworld Book 1) by Morgan L. Busse 
  • Cast the First Stone by Susan May Warren

(6) DNA OF CLASSIC TOYS. Fitting in with last week’s report about the 2022 National Toy Hall of Fame finalists, here’s an article about “How Do You Make the Perfect Toy?”, and why some toys last, from The Walrus.

… Speaking from her home in Chicago, Baxter explains that parents, not toy producers, were the ones driving these sales. “There is this nostalgic element of either wanting to share something from their own childhood or give something that they felt they lacked in their childhood, because they think it will be good,” Baxter says. Especially now, in a largely digital world, there is something about these analog toys “that parents see as desirable for their children [and] that we find desirable for ourselves.” In fact, when Fisher-Price tried to modernize its iconic toy phone by removing the rotary dial, there was a consumer revolt, and sales fell. Nostalgia, Baxter concluded, is what keeps certain toys alive…. 

(7) WILD OATES. [Item by rcade.] After hearing a talk by science fiction author Ted Chiang at the Seattle Book Festival, Joyce Carol Oates claimed that he called the fantasy genre “fundamentally young adult”:

The living American author with the most overloaded prize shelf, Oates is spending her eighties aggravating people on Twitter. In July, she tweeted that a literary agent friend told her young white male writers can’t get published any more: “Joyce Carol Oates claims White male writers are being shut out. The data disagrees” at CNN Style.

In a tweet published Sunday morning, the author of more than 50 books shared a New York Times op-ed criticizing the publishing industry as too sympathetic to the political left.

Along with the link, Oates wrote: “A friend who is a literary agent told me that he cannot even get editors to read first novels by young white male writers, no matter how good; they are just not interested. this is heartbreaking for writers who may, in fact, be brilliant, & critical of their own ‘privilege.'”…

Ted Chiang protects his tweets so his reaction (if any) to Oates’ characterization of his talk is not available, but Jason Sanford scoffed at her interpretation:

You don’t need to know what “that tweet about her foot” references. If it was a genre it would be fundamentally horror.

(8) CREEPTASTIC! Hailey Piper recommends stories by Barker, Gaiman, and Machado for crime lovers who want to read supernatural fiction. “10 Shadowy Meetings of Crime and the Occult” at CrimeReads.

…Sometimes the crime layer peels and reveals more horrific muscle underneath. Crime and horror, especially the occult, have a long-entwined history. Sometimes it’s a ruse like Sherlock Holmes faces in The Hound of the Baskervilles, or ambiguous like in True Detective, but stories of investigators and outlaws facing ghosts, witches, and devils dot the pages of genre-mixed stories in Weird Tales, movies, novels, and comic book characters like Batman, John Constantine, and more. It’s a fun mix, too; hard to predict whether the greater threat might come from and carrying the mix of noir elements suggesting an unjust universe….

(9) MORE TRIBUTES FOR MAUREEN KINCAID SPELLER.

Nina Allan mourns “Maureen Kincaid Speller” at The Spider’s House.

…Death is always difficult to come to terms with, but in the case of Maureen it seems doubly so. She had so much more still to give. Her indomitable spirit, her keen intellect, her wicked sense of humour and the all round pleasure in being in her company – these things make her loss all the more painful. I don’t think I will ever get used to the knowledge that she is no longer with us….

Paul Raven appreciated her inclusiveness: “maureen” at Velcro City Tourist Board.

… I found her an easy person to like, which is rarer than you might think. A lot of it probably had to do with the way in which she would just kinda include you in a conversation or event, even if she didn’t know you that well: an assumption not of friendship, exactly, but of the potential for such….

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1999 [By Cat Eldridge.] Before the Tomb Raider films kicked dust up, there was twenty-three years ago the Relic Hunter series, to put it politely, a ripoff of the Indiana Jones films with a much more sexy central character.

Starring Althea Rae Duhinio Janairo known as professionally when modeling, or acting as Tia Carrere, it has instead of a grizzled Professor, a sexy Sydney Fox, also a professor who is also a globe-trotting “relic hunter” who looks for ancient artifacts to return to museums and/or the descendants of the original owner. See rip off. Many of these relics have genre underpinnings to them, being supernatural in nature or being pieces of advanced technology.

Yes, the series was shot in the Toronto area like so many genre series before the Vancouver region became popular for reasons unknown though I assume it had to do with a shorter commute to the LA studios, and includes many familiar local landmarks among its locations. A sharp eye can spot that the European locations are actually still there. No, not blue screen was not done on this series. 

Jay Firestone who was the Executive Producer here is a Major Player on genre series responsible behind the scenes for such works as AndromedaFX: The SeriesLa Femme NikitaQueen of Swords and Mutant X. Some one hundred seventy shows are in his company holdings right now. 

The Relic Hunter series which premiered in 1999 really didn’t last that long as it went off the air after three seasons and sixty-six episodes. It’s streaming on Amazon, Freevee, Tubu, Vudu and YouTube right now. 

It holds among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes a middling fifty-five percent rating. 

Ok, I’ve not seen it, so who has? 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 20, 1935 Keith Roberts. Author of Pavane, an amazing novel.  I’ve also read his collection of ghost stories, Winterwood and Other Hauntings, with an introduction by Robert Holdstock. Interestingly he has four BSFA Awards including ones for the artwork for the cover of his own first edition of Kaeti & Company. (Died 2000.)
  • Born September 20, 1948 JoAnna Cameron. I’ve previously mentioned in passing Shazam!, a Seventies children’s series done by Filmation. Well she was the lead on Isis, another Filmation children’s series done at the same time. Her only genre appearance was a brief one in the Amazing Spider-Man series. Anyone here seen it? I don’t remember seeing it. (Died 2021.)
  • Born September 20, 1950 James Blaylock, 72. One of my favorite writers. I’d recommend the Ghosts trilogy, the Christian trilogy and The Adventures of Langdon St. Ives which collects all of the Langdon St. Ives adventures together as his best writing, but anything by him is worth reading. I see the usual suspects don’t have much by him but they do have two Langdon St. Ives tales, Homunclus and Beneath London. He’s generously stocked at the usual suspects.
  • Born September 20, 1965 Robert Rusler, 57. Actor whose genre creds include Max in Weird Science, Ron Grady in the genre adjacent A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, A.J. In the equally genre adjacent Vamp, Richard Lawson in Sometimes Trey Come Back off the Stephen King novel, a recurring role for twenty two episodes of Lt. Warren Keffer on Babylon 5 (see how many characters JMS would be recasting?), Enterprise’s “Anomaly” as Orgoth and I think that’s it. 
  • Born September 20, 1973 Cody Goodfellow, 49. Best known for his Radiant Dawn sequence which consists of Radiant Dawn and Ravenous Dusk which have more than a touch of the Cthulhu Mythos in them. Perfect Union uses bee genes to create a near perfect utopia that actually is a horror in the end. Very prolific with over ten novels to his name so far. 
  • Born September 20, 1974 Owen Sheers, 48. His first novel, Resistance, tells the story of the inhabitants of a valley near Abergavenny in Wales in  the Forties shortly after the failure of Operation Overlord and a successful German takeover of Britain. It’s been made into a film.  He also wrote the “White Ravens”, a contemporary take off the myth of Branwen Daughter of Llyr, found in the New Stories from the Mabinogion series.
  • Born September 20, 1986 Aldis Hodge, 36. He played Alec Hardison on the Leverage series which just got a reboot. Ok, I know it’s not precisely genre but if there’s a spiritual descendant of Mission: Impossible, this series is it. Both the cast and their use of technology in that series are keeping with the MI spirit. He’s also had one-offs on CharmedBuffy the Vampire SlayerSupernaturalThe Walking DeadStar Trek: Discovery’s Short Takes and Bones (which given that it crossed over with Sleepy Hollow…) He will play Carter Hall/Hawkman in the upcoming Black Adam assuming it doesn’t get cancelled.
  • Born September 20, 1989 Malachi Kirby, 33. His most noted was Stripe in the Black Mirror episode “Men Against Fire”, but he’s also been in the Twelfth Doctor story “Hell Bent” as Gaston. He had the recurring role of Spring Heeled Jack Burton in the Thirties-set version of Jekyll and Hyde which revolved around of the grandson of Dr. Henry Jekyll who has inherited his grandfather’s split personality and violent alter-ego.

(12) FORCES THAT FORMED TOLKIEN. Smithsonian Magazine will host John Garth’s talk “The Real World of J.R.R. Tolkien” on Wednesday, September 21 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Tickets $25 at the link.

In this insightful lecture, the British scholar John Garth will tell us about the real-life forces that shaped Tolkien’s imaginary world—particularly the upheavals of the interwar period, which shook Tolkien to the core and prompted him to create the story of a doomed Atlantis-like island, now the basis for a new Amazon Prime television series. Garth, author of a feature in the October issue of Smithsonian, will also take your questions about all things Tolkien in a Q&A with Smithsonian senior editor Jennie Rothenberg Gritz.

(13) CLOSING THE BARN DOOR BEFORE THINGS ESCAPE. A Colorado town library has a new solution to book bans: “Colorado Town Has A Plan To Tackle Censorship: Banning Book Bans” at HuffPost.

A group of residents who showed concerns about books in a Colorado library last month have sparked a ban they did not foresee this week: a ban on book bans.

The Wellington town board voted 5-2 to pass a resolution that barred the board from restricting access to materials at the Wellington Public Library on Tuesday, The Coloradoan reported.

The move followed an August town board meeting where residents, led by town board member Jon Gaiter’s wife, Christine Gaiter, referred to books ― what she called “pornographic materials” ― she said weren’t suitable for kids.

Gaiter’s list of 19 books included “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky, according to the newspaper.

Gaiter told the board on Tuesday that she wanted restrictions on children accessing the books, not a book ban, but some residents said in August that they did want a ban.

A “majority” of residents “packed” a board room to support the resolution that would ban book bans on Tuesday, according to The Coloradoan….

(14) TOUGH TRIVIA. The Slate quiz from a couple days ago was on an SF theme: “Slate Quiz: The hardest trivia you’ll answer all week”. I got 10 of 12 quiz questions right. Knew 9 of them cold, guessed the rest but only one of my guesses was right. How about you?

(15) VAT GOT YOUR TONGUE? It’s the season for no reason…. There are 14 questionable flavors available at Archie McPhee’s “Candy Canes” headquarters page.

This year’s candy canes are here in three wonderfully terrible flavors. Butter Candy Canes have the taste of unsalted, but heavily sweetened, butter. Brisket is a holiday staple and Brisket Candy Canes are sure to become a tradition in your family. You can taste the meat! Last, and perhaps most disturbing, we have Caesar Salad Candy Canes. It tastes like salad with a hint of anchovy. Christmas is “yummy” again!

And let’s not forget “Sardine Candy Canes”.

(16) BAT-TIME TO WAKE UP. I think I would find this more palatable: Comics on Coffee’s “Dark Knight Roast”.

The ultimate team-up! Comics On Coffee & DC have joined forces to make your mornings more exciting and action packed with great tasting coffee! This Dark Knight Roast is an excellent cup of coffee, that will leave your taste buds begging for one more cup! Absolutely no bitter aftertaste, with a tiny hint of citrus and chocolate.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Outer Wilds”, Fandom Games says this game gives you a chance to explore fascinating new worlds, until the 20-minute timer causes the sun to go supernova if you haven’t completed a task. The narrator says this could be “the next game you annoy your friends about” but if you’re a gamer who likes to punch or blast things, this one is not for you.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Cora Buhlert, Jennifer Hawthorne, rcade, Olav Rokne, 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 Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 9/1/22 It’s Not A Pixel Scroll, It’s A Flamin’ Platypus

(1) PHOTO FROM THURSDAY’S FILE 770 MEETUP AT CHICON 8. The first File 770 meetup organized by Hampus Eckerman happened this morning – here’s a photo of some of the fans who made it. From left to right, Nicole, Martin and Kendall.

Meanwhile, Hampus has shifted the location for the Friday meetup to get away from the Jazz Festival happening in the area he planned before. Check the details here: Update Filers Meetup for Worldcon.

(2) PASSED MASTER. It’s a big advantage if you can skip taking a plane. “I will astral project myself to Worldcon” says Camestros Felapton. Expect to smell, er, see him there!

(3) MAGICAL THINKING. Xiran Jay Zhao, author of Iron Widow, cut loose with this video a few days ago:  

They have since traveled to Chicago. Where someone turned on the TV.

(4) CHICON 8 HITS A COUPLE OF BUMPS. The 2022 Worldcon began today, and a few problems with the con’s virtual edition prompted Chair Helen Montgomery to issue this “Virtual Access Apology”.

We apologize for the impact that accessibility issues within Airmeet, our platform for Virtual Chicon 8, have had on our members.

Thank you to people who have reached out to us about these issues as we launched this week.

The short version of our reply is that you are correct. There are definitely accessibility issues within Airmeet. Some issues we knew about and planned for, some issues are things we recently discovered, and some are things we simply didn’t think through all the way.

We knew that whatever platform we chose would have problems. We chose a platform that several of our staff have used before. We had a broad team working on Virtual C8, representing multiple divisions and areas, including our Accessibility Services team. Nonetheless, despite our best efforts, we still missed some pieces.

We are continuing to work on various workarounds for known issues. You can see our updated Accessibility Guide here (under the Virtual C8 menu tab) which is everything we know about Accessibility at this moment. We will continue to update it as we learn more.

If you need help, we have our live text chat service located at the bottom of the Virtual C8 page. You can also email us at virtual@chicon.org for assistance.

Hugo Administrator Kat Jones also apologized for some errors in the Souvenir Book: “Astounding Award Finalists: An Apology”.

We apologize for errors that have appeared in the official Chicon 8 Souvenir Book on page 98, in the listing of previous Astounding Award winners. 

When constructing the list of previous winners, the team mistakenly took the first name (ordered alphabetically) from this year’s Astounding Award ballot and listed it for the 2022 Astounding Award. We will correct this in the electronic version of the Souvenir Book. The team working on the Souvenir Book does not have visibility into the results of this year’s voting, and this error does not reflect anything other than the alphabetical ordering of the ballot.

We also apologize for the misspelling of Emily Tesh’s name as the 2021 Astounding Award winner, and the misspelling of Jeannette Ng’s name as the 2019 Astounding Award winner. These will also be corrected in the electronic version of the Souvenir Book.

We are very sorry for these mistakes.

(5) THE LINEAGE OF BATMAN. SF2 Concatenation has tweeted an advance post ahead of its autumnal edition: “Batman – Cinematic portrayals, or how The Dark Knight has maintained his comic book hero franchise”.

With the latest film in the collection just been to the cinema (eventually!) and now available on DVD, Bluray and on the usual platforms as The Batman, Mark Yon thought he would look at the rather long and complicated past of Batman in the cinema (with a couple of nods to comics and television as well!)…

(6) FENCON COPES WITH HOTEL OVERBOOKING MISTAKE. FenCon XVIII, which will be held in Irving, Texas from September 16-18, was handed the short end of the stick when their hotel “had a glitch” and got oversold by 150 rooms. The problem is being solved by switching a number of fans to nearby hotel, setting up continuous shuttles, and giving the displaced fans a $20 a day voucher. The committee told Facebook readers that anyone with an assisted reservation was kept on the property. Here is the statement from the convention’s website:

From the FenCon Staff to all of our members and guests: 

In mid-August, the Sheraton DFW hotel notified us that, due to a major computer glitch, they have oversold by over 150 rooms on FenCon weekend. The only way to manage their room inventory is to relocate many of our attendees to their sister property across the street, the DoubleTree DFW North. 

As a part of the concessions which the hotel is making to our convention, they will: 

* run a continuous shuttle between the two hotels during convention hours

* provide a $20 food voucher per day for each relocated guestroom for the DoubleTree restaurant

* the Hotel will be contacting attendees individually if their room is one of those being moved

The hotel has assured us that everyone who booked an accessible room will stay at the Sheraton.

Obviously this situation will be inconvenient, but Fencon was faced with the choice of working with the hotel to manage the situation, or canceling the convention, which we certainly did not want!

We hope the meal vouchers will help, and the shuttle should be a convenient way to move between the hotels. We do ask that you please not drive between hotels, as the parking spaces at the Sheraton will be nearly at capacity already.

We appreciate your understanding about the issue, and ask that you respect the staff at the various hotels – it isn’t their fault, and they are working hard to accommodate our needs. 

(7) SANFORD’S GRAPEVINE.  Jason Sanford posted a free issue of his “Genre Grapevine” sff news column on Patreon. It features many strong segments, such as “Twitter and the Normalization of Online Harassment and Attacks” which concludes:

…Sadly, I think it’s too late for Twitter and many of the original social media platforms, which enabled and profited off the worst aspects of humanity. As Annalee Newitz explained in this must-read post, Twitter is rapidly becoming a lost city. The result of all this will likely accelerate people moving to new platforms that don’t support and enable this hate and harassment, including siloed systems like personal newsletters. (For more on why authors should consider starting their own newsletter, see this excellent thread from K Tempest Bradford.)

All of this is a shame, because as Premee Mohamed explained, there are benefits and connections you can only find on a public platform like Twitter.

(8) EISNER TUNING UP FOR BROADWAY. Will Eisner’s “’A Contract With God’ Being Adapted Into Broadway Musical With TEG+” reports Variety.

TEG+ has acquired the stage rights to Will Eisner’s graphic novel “A Contract With God” and is adapting it into a Broadway musical, with new and original songs written by Sam Hollander, Lisa Loeb, Matisyahu, Ryan Miller and Jill Sobule.

“A Contract With God,” first published in 1978, is commonly recognized as the very first graphic novel in history. The novel consists of four interweaving stories revolving around the lives of a group of New Yorkers who live in a fictional tenement house, many of whom are Jewish and/or immigrants. For the musical, all of the members of the songwriting team are Jewish musicians and composers. Writing and recording sessions on the musical will commence soon, with Hollander serving as music producer.

(9) WHAT, AND LEAVE THAT MONEY ON THE TABLE? Dr. Michael D.C. Drout, a professor of English at Wheaton College in Massachusetts and co-editor of the journal Tolkien Studies, says in an opinion piece for the New York Times, “Please Don’t Make a Tolkien Cinematic Universe”.

…“The Rings of Power,” which will come out weekly after its two-episode premiere, is based primarily on only a few dozen pages in one of the historical appendices to “The Lord of the Rings,” meaning that almost the entire plot of the show has been created by Amazon Studios’ writers and showrunners. And there’s a huge gulf between Tolkien’s originality, moral sophistication and narrative subtlety and the culture of Hollywood in 2022 — the groupthink produced by the contemporary ecosystem of writers’ rooms, Twitter threads and focus groups. The writing that this dynamic is particularly good at producing — witty banter, arch references to contemporary issues, graphic and often sexualized violence, self-righteousness — is poorly suited to Middle-earth, a world with a multilayered history that eschews both tidy morality plays and blockbuster gore.

Is it fair to the legacies of writers like Tolkien to build franchises from their works without their knowledge or permission? Tolkien, who died in 1973, was fiercely protective of the world he created in his novels. He harshly rejected the spec screenplays of “The Lord of the Rings” he read and once asserted that the work was not appropriate for film. (He sold the film rights in 1969 only in order to help pay a tax bill; the television rights were sold to Amazon by his heirs.)…

(10) MEMORY LANE.  

1955 [By Cat Eldridge.] Sixty-seven years ago, the Hugo Awards returned as an official part of Worldcon. They had been skipped by the SFCon (1954) committee after being created by the Philcon II (1953) committee. They have been presented every year since.

The thirteenth Worldcon was held from the September 1-5, 1955. Nick Falasca and Noreen Falasca (Shaw) were the Chairs with the guests being Isaac Asimov (pro) and Sam Moskowitz (mystery GoH). The identity of the Special Mystery Guest was not revealed (even to the honoree) until the first night of the convention. The Program book noted that “Mr. Boucher [the Toastmaster] will make the presentation of the Achievement Awards and identify the Mystery Guest.” Anthony Boucher was Toastmaster. It was held at the Manger Hotel in Cleveland.  They would be known as Clevention. 

The Hugos were short enough that I feel comfortable listing them here.

  • Best Novel: They’d Rather Be Right by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley [Astounding Aug,Sep,Oct,Nov 1954]
  • Best Novelette: “The Darfsteller” by Walter M. Miller, Jr. [Astounding Jan 1955] 
  • Best Short Story: “Allamagoosa” by Eric Frank Russell [Astounding May 1955]
  • Best Professional Magazine: Astounding Science Fiction ed. by John W. Campbell, Jr. 
  • Best Professional Artist: Frank Kelly Freas 
  • Best Fanzine: Fantasy Times ed. by James V. Taurasi, Sr. and Ray Van Houten

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 1, 1875 Edgar Rice Burroughs. Ray Bradbury declared him “the most influential writer in the entire history of the world.” Not that I’d necessarily disagree or agree with that statement but I would note that he has largely fallen out of public notice once again. A statement some of you will argue with strongly. (Died 1950.)
  • Born September 1, 1926 Gene Colan. He co-created with Stan Lee the Falcon, the first African-American superhero in mainstream comics. He created Carol Danvers, who would become Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel, and was featured in Captain Marvel. With Marv Wolfman, he created Blade. (Died 2011.)
  • Born September 1, 1942 C. J. Cherryh, 80. I certainly think the Hugo Award winning Downbelow Station at Chicon IV and Cyteen at Noreascon 3 are amazing works but I think my favorite works by her are the Merchanter novels such as Rimrunners.
  • Born September 1, 1943 Erwin Strauss, 79. A noted member of the MITSFS, and filk musician who born in Washington, D.C. He frequently is known by the nickname Filthy Pierre. He’s the creator of the Voodoo message board system once used at cons such as Worldcon, WisCon and Arisia. 
  • Born September 1, 1951 Donald G. Keller, 71.  He co-edited The Horns of Elfland with Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman which I highly recommend. He is a contributor to The Encyclopedia of Fantasy and he’s member of the editorial board of Slayage, the online Encyclopedia of Buffy Studies
  • Born September 1, 1964 Martha Wells, 58. She’s has won two Nebulas, four Locus Awards, and four Hugo Awards. Impressive. And she was toastmaster of the World Fantasy Convention in 2017 where she delivered a speech called “Unbury the Future”. Need I note the Muderbot Dairies are amazing.
  • Born September 1, 1967 Steve Pemberton, 55. He’s on the Birthday List for being Strackman Lux in the Eleventh Doctor stories of “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead” but he has other genre credits including being Drumknott in Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, Professor Mule in Gormenghast and Harmony in Good Omens.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! reveals another victim of a digital currency surprise.
  • The Duplex tells why they think Marvel is running out of ideas.

(13) FIFTY YEARS OF LUKE CAGE. Throughout the last year, superstar artist J. Scott Campbell has helped Marvel Comics honor the milestone anniversaries of some of comic book’s greatest icons including Hulk, Thor, Spider-Man, and Ant-Man. Up next will be a cover for October’s Daredevil #4 featuring Luke Cage who’s celebrating 50 years of defending the streets of the Marvel Universe as a solo fighter, a Hero for Hire, and an Avenger. The artwork depicts Luke in his iconic Power Man costume

(14) CHENGDU LOCKDOWN. “China Locks Down Major Southern City of Chengdu” – the New York Times reports what’s happening this weekend in the city that will host next year’s Worldcon.  

China has locked down Chengdu, one of its biggest and economically important cities, as it turns once again to its Covid strategy of restricting people’s movements to stop outbreaks.

Starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, residents in the city of more than 21 million were no longer allowed to leave their homes without special permission, in the most drastic move to stop an outbreak since Shanghai went into a damaging two-month lockdown in April. Authorities also began citywide mass testing that they said would continue through the weekend. Chengdu reported 157 cases on Wednesday and more than 700 cases since Aug. 25.

China is the last major country in the world to pursue a policy of eradicating the virus, and it uses citywide lockdowns and mass testing to root out pockets of outbreaks. But the approach is adding to the pressures facing the local authorities in Sichuan, the southern province whose capital is Chengdu. A record-setting drought and a punishing heat wave have devastated the region’s power supply, and emergency responders battled quick-moving wildfires around the city of Chongqing until late last week.

Officials in Chengdu gave no indication of how long the lockdown might last, but it is expected to deal another economic blow to China at a challenging moment. The city is home to the manufacturing and assembly plants of several multinational automakers and technology firms including Intel, VW and Toyota, and its economic growth in 2021 accounted for 1.7 percent of China’s overall gross domestic product.

Chengdu and other cities across China have ordered measures like postponing the start of school and shutting down businesses to try to stamp out stubborn outbreaks in recent days….

(15) BIG MESS HALL. “H.P. Lovecraft Writes Olive Garden’s Dinner Menu” at McSweeney’s. A 2021 article – did we link last year? Well, it will still be news to someone.

Fried Calamari

Tendrils crusted in grit assail my palate. Begotten of the sea, yet containing the essence of a carnival. Fried and without end. At once I feel refined and base, but melancholy grips me when I spy the dressings within which this dismembered cephalopod is to dip. …

(16) OCTOTHORPE. John Coxon is a computer and Alison Scott and Liz Batty are talking to him very slowly in episode 65 of the Octothorpe podcast, “Action Castle 2”.

John, Alison, and Liz play a game because they’re all away at Chicon 8 this week. Normal service will resume shortly. Listen here!

(17) JUSTWATCH. Here are JustWatch’s Top 10 viewing lists for August 2022.

(18) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. “A massive planet circles a huge star doomed to explode” reports today’s Nature.

Confirmation of a second planet around the star μ2 Scorpii would indicate the first planetary system at a supernova-in-waiting.

A planet, and an object likely to be a planet, orbit a heavyweight star so massive that it will end its life in a spectacular explosion. The pair could comprise the first planetary system yet to be discovered around a star destined to form a supernova1.

Most of the 5,000-plus known planets beyond the Solar System circle relatively lightweight stars, no more than roughly twice the mass of the Sun. Whether planets can form and survive around stars big enough to go supernova remains relatively unexplored.

A team led by Vito Squicciarini at the University of Padua in Italy has been using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile to search for planets around 85 young, massive stars. Around the star μ2 Scorpii, which is about 9 times the mass of the Sun, the astronomers spotted a planet that’s roughly 14 times the mass of Jupiter.

There are also hints of a second object, roughly 18 times the mass of Jupiter and closer to the star than the first one. The presence of two planets around such a massive star suggests that large stars circled by large planets might be more common than expected.

Original primary research article (open access) here.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Not sff, just amazing. Watch artist Devon Rodriguez at work in the NYC subways on Facebook.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Angela Smith, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, 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 Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 8/22/22 This Is The Story Of A Scroll, Who Cried Tsundoku And Filed The Whole World

(1) MUSIC OF THE GEARS. Yoon Ha Lee has composed and released a soundtrack for his Machineries of Empire books. Available on Bandcamp: “Banner the Deuce of Gears”.

A “soundtrack” for the Machineries of Empire space opera books! Includes themes for Jedao One, Jedao Two, Cheris, and the bonus song “Burn It Down with Math (feat. Liozh Dia)”!

(2) TWITTER TROLLS WINNING. Jason Sanford is reporting Twitter has banned Harry Turtledove and Patrick Tomlinson, two well-known sff authors. Thread starts here.

Patrick Tomlinson was banned while discussing threats sent to Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki.

Sanford concludes: “@TwitterSafety’s saying if someone threatens to kill you, that’s too bad and you can’t tweet about it at all.”

(3) OP-ED ABOUT GENCON’S MOVING PLANS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Indiana University law professor Timothy William Waters criticizes Gen Con’s decision to move the convention out of Indiana after 2024 because of the state’s restrictive abortion laws, noting that Gen Con is not a political space and “how our politics improved if the elves abandon Indiana to the orcs?” “We wanted to play Bunny Kingdom. Gen Con wanted to talk about abortion”.

… Despite its earlier threats, Gen Con said after the abortion legislation passed that the convention would return at least next year. But if organizers eventually flee, where would they go? The South and Midwest would be mostly off-limits. More likely, the convention would go into deep-blue exile, leaving behind the Indiana Convention Center — the same hall where I attended the 2019 National Rifle Association convention. Booths that sold 20-sided dice this month were selling Glocks then. The NRA is returning to Indianapolis in 2023. How are politics improved if the elves abandon Indiana to the orcs?

Politicizing companies makes sense when there’s a real link to the politics. Organizations naturally take positions on social questions that affect their operations. But activists drive truckloads of preferences through that pretext: In 2013, Indiana University opposed a state constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage on grounds that went far beyond institutional concern. (Selectively: I’ve never seen a university object to laws antithetical to conservative faculty or students.)

Gen Con opposed that amendment, too, and now opposes the abortion law. Apart from saying the legislation would “have a direct impact on our team and our community,” Gen Con doesn’t pretend that’s a business decision — “hurt, angry, and frustrated,” it simply considers the law unjust.

Maybe it is, maybe not. I don’t know if Gen Con’s community agrees on abortion or anything else: The man playing Galaxy Trucker with us didn’t mention his voter registration.

But what about the women who support freedom of choice who might feel alarmed in “The Handmaid’s Tale” Indiana? It is Gen Con’s business to make them feel welcome — as it is the convention’s duty to make every attendee feel welcome, including gamers whose position on abortion Gen Con declared inhumane.

The answer is to make sure no one’s preferences dominate our shared space. Basic game design: Don’t fix the rules so only your side can play. Politicizing everything ignores that lesson….

(4) VERTLIEB INTERVIEW. B-Movie Cast devoted its501st episode to an interview with Steve Vertlieb

“The B-Movie Cast is back from a brief hiatus following our 500th episode! This show is a bit different from most as instead of featuring a film, Mary, Nic, and Mark Mawston are joined by Steve Vertlieb!

Steve is one of America’s leading film archivists and historians who is a true living link between the golden age of Hollywood and today! A cinema journalist and film music educator Steve is a bit different from some film historians. Many of them collect film memorabilia, Steve, collects friendships, memories and stories!

Join us as we talk with Steve about some of his most memorable friends among many of Hollywood’s greatest directors, producers, actors, special effects masters and music composers! Steve is a true wealth of knowledge and we’re very lucky to have him on the show as we talk about everything from Ray Bradbury’s 16mm camera troubles to Ray Harryhausen and more!”

(5) CHICON 8 PRESS REGISTRATION. Isn’t it NICE that journalists can just go onto the Chicon 8 website and just sign up so easily? 

Hello and Greetings from the Chicon 8 Press Office

The Chicon 8 Press Registration Page is now open and ready to receive your request for either a Press Pass or Press Credentials at this link:

https://chicon.org/home/about-worldcon/press-and-media/press-accreditation/

Our Attending Press Policy and Guidelines for Press Passes and Press Credentials can be found here:

The Chicon 8 Press Office will be located close to main registration, along with a bookable interview room.

…We anticipate that holders of Press Passes will be able to collect their badge, giving access to the convention, directly from the Press Office, to avoid the need to queue at main registration. If you are being granted Press Credentials, you will need to collect your badge from main registration first. You can then come to the Press Office at your convenience to check in and pick up your Press Ribbon.

In line with the Press Policy, we have a strong line on consent in general, and for photography in particular, and would appreciate your understanding on this. Attending Press are also asked to familiarize themselves with our Code of Conduct: (https://chicon.org/home/for-members/code-of-conduct/) and our Covid Policy (https://chicon.org/home/for-members/covid-policy/). In accepting our offer of a Press Pass or Press Credentials, you are committing to abide by these policies.

(6) US IN FLUX. Read ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination’s Us In Flux story “Sympathy” by Suyi Davies Okungbowa about the politics and economics of childcare, the contested science of child development, and our hopes and anxieties about the role of robotics in our lives, then see the related Zoom discussion:

Us in Flux is a series of short stories and virtual gatherings that explore how we might reimagine and reorganize our communities in the face of transformative change.

Join us for a conversation with author Suyi Davies Okungbowa and Lance Gharavi, professor of film, dance, and theatre and affiliate faculty at the Center for Human, Artificial Intelligence, and Robot Teaming at Arizona State University. They’ll discuss “Sympathy,” Suyi’s story about robotics, the politics and economics of childcare, and the complexities of early childhood development.

The webinar takes place August 25, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. Pacific. Register at the link: Suyi Davies Okungbowa & Lance Gharavi: “Sympathy”.

(7) TRANSPARENT PROCESS. Interstellar Flight Magazine’s Holly Lyn Walrath discusses their “Acquisitions from the 2021 Short Story Collections Call”, which were chosen with the help of guest editor Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki. They’ll be publishing five of the submissions.

Interstellar Flight Press is pleased to announce that we have finished reviewing all submissions from our 2021 short story collection call. As the managing editor, I would like to thank all the amazing authors who submitted to this call. We were blown away by the quality of work out there. Suffice it to say, we wish there were more presses publishing short story collections, as there are SO MANY great books out there waiting to find a home. It was lovely to see how many wonderful writers are excelling in the field of short SFF fiction.

Great thanks is owed to our guest editor for this call, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, who helped select the final books. Oghenechovwe is a talented writer and editor, and I remain humbled by the amazing writers who have served as guest editors. This position is so important and helps us select books from unique perspectives….

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

2005 [By Cat Eldridge.] On this day in the United Kingdom, the oddest thing happened: a film sequel to a failed television series premiered. Serenity, the sequel to the short-lived (but much beloved by a small group of rather fanatical fans) Firefly science fiction series, saw its debut. 

Now I don’t know how well the Firefly series did in the United Kingdom but I do know well how it did in States. By mid-December, it was averaging 4.7 million viewers per episode and was 98th in Nielsen ratings. Ouch. Now admittedly its eleven (of fourteen produced) episodes were shown out of order, so that didn’t help, did it?

Now DVD sales following its cancellation were particularly strong and the Browncoats, its fans, mounted a campaign that surprisingly convinced the film studio to produce Serenity. Odds are better than even that those responsible for that decision aren’t there anymore.

Ok, I’m not going to talk about it on the infinitely small chance that some of you have not seen this film. (Ha!) All I’m interested in here is how it did and that is quite simple. Though y’all loved it and gave it a Hugo at L.A. Con IV, and it also got a Nebula for Best Script, it did not do well at the box office. It cost forty million to produce and made, errr, forty million. 

Browncoats  quickly spread the rumor that a third film was already being planned but Whedon squashed that idea noting that he was contracted to other productions. 

Serenity is a ninety-one percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and the series has a near perfect ninety seven percent rating. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 22, 1907 Oliver McGowan. He played The Caretaker in the “Shore Leave” episode of the original Trek which I just rewatched recently and it holds up much better than I thought it would. McGowan has one-offs on One Step Beyond, Wild Wild West, I Dream of Jeannie, The Twilight Zone and Bewitched. (Died 1971.)
  • Born August 22, 1909 Paul W. Fairman. His story “No Teeth for the Tiger” was published in the February 1950 issue of Amazing Stories. Two years later, he was the founding editor of If, but he edited only four issues. (Anyone know why?) In 1955, he became the editor of Amazing Stories and Fantastic which he would hold onto for three years. There are several films, Target Earth and Invasion of the Saucer Men, based on his stories, plus some TV episodes as well. (Died 1977.)
  • Born August 22, 1920 Ray Bradbury. Seriously where do I start? He wrote some of the most wonderful stories that I’ve ever ever read, genre or not, many of which got turned into quite superb video tales on the Ray Bradbury Theater. As for novels, my absolute favorite will always be Something This Way Wicked Comes. (I’m ambivalent on the film version.) And yes I know it isn’t really a novel but The Illustrated Man I treat as such and I loved the film that came out of it with Rod Steiger in that role. Let’s not forget The Martian Chronicles. (Died 2012.)
  • Born August 22, 1925 Honor Blackman. Best known for the roles of Cathy Gale in The Avengers, Bond girl Pussy Galore in Goldfinger and Hera in Jason and the Argonauts. She was also Professor Lasky in “Terror of the Vervoids” in the Sixth Doctor’s “The Trial of a Time Lord”. (Died 2020.)
  • Born August 22, 1948 Susan Wood. She received three Hugo Awards for Best Fan Writer in 1974, 1977, and 1981, and a Best Fanzine Hugo as coeditor of Energumen in 1973In 1976 she was instrumental in organizing one of the most impactful feminist panels at a con, at MidAmericon. The reaction to it contributed to the founding of WisCon. While teaching courses in SF at UBC, one of her students was William Gibson. “Fragments of a Hologram Rose” which is his first published story was written as an assignment in her SF class. (Died 1980.)
  • Born August 22, 1955 Will Shetterly, 67. Of his novels, I strongly recommend his two Borderland novels, Elsewhere and Nevernever, and Dogland. (Emma’s Finder novel, another Borderland novel is also recommended.) He is married to Emma Bull, they did a trailer for her War for The Oaks novel which is worth seeing. They’re on the chocolate list of course. 
  • Born August 22, 1959 — Mark Williams, 63. He was Arthur Weasley in seven of the Potter films. He also played Brian Williams in the BBC series Doctor Who, appearing with the Eleventh Doctor in “The Power of Three” and “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”. He was also Olaf Petersen on Red Dwarf. His first genre role was as Fearnot’s Brother in the “Fearnot” episode of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller. 
  • Born August 22, 1963 Tori Amos, 59. One of Gaiman’s favorite musicians, so it’s appropriate that she penned two essays, the afterword to “Death” in Sandman: Book of Dreams) and the Introduction to “Death” in The High Cost of Living. Although created before they ever met, Delirium from The Sandman is based on her. I wonder if she’ll be in the Sandman series?

(10) BRADBURY BIRTHDAY. As John King Tarpinian does on Ray Bradbury’s birthday these days, he went and left a little gift at Bradbury’s grave.

I had a lovely visit today. Gifted Ray a Chicago made coin-changer, which he used on his only real job selling newspapers. Left him a little guardian angel, too. As I have done in the past, I gave the cake to the cemetery staff.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) FROM SLASH TO STEM. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Stephanie Merry profiles a romance writer who uses the pseudonym “Ali Hazelwood” and whose day job is as a neuroscientist.  Hazelwood got her start writing slash fiction about Spock (Leonard Nimoy, not Zachary Quinto) and went on to write Kylo Ren/Rey fiction until an agent discovered her and convinced her to write non-genre fiction. Now she writes “STEMinist” novels in which women fall in love with “broody, emotionless science men.” “Ali Hazelwood talks ‘Love Hypothesis,’ ‘Love on the Brain’”.

… And now here she is, less than a year after her debut became a bestseller and days from releasing her second novel, “Love on the Brain.” Both are about female scientists who fall for, well, broody, emotionless science men. Hazelwood also published three novellas this year. (“I should be doing research,” she says, “but I’m doing this other thing.”)

Hazelwood’s novels fall into the growing genre of “STEMinist” fiction that also includes recent feel-good bestsellers “Lessons in Chemistry,” by Bonnie Garmus, and “The Soulmate Equation,” by Christina Lauren. “Love on the Brain” revolves around two scientists, Bee Königswasser and Levi Ward, who areworking on a NASA project to create a helmet that uses transcranial magnetic stimulation to reduce an astronaut’s “attentional blinks,” which, as Bee describes it, are “those little lapses in awareness that are unavoidable when many things happen at once.”…

(13) WHODUNNIT? Here’s a bizarre opportunity. If you’re going to be in the vicinity of the Mark Twain House in Hartford, CT on August 26, you can go on the “GET A CLUE Interactive Murder-Mystery Tour with Sea Tea Improv.” Register here.

Friday, August 26 starting at 7pm: GET A CLUE Interactive Murder-Mystery Tour with Sea Tea Improv

Who killed Pap Finn?? Was it Tom Sawyer in the Billiard Room with the wrench? Queen Guinevere in the Conservatory with rope? The Prince (or was it the Pauper??) in the Library with the revolver. We need YOU to solve this mystery on our hilarious, interactive GET A CLUE TOUR of The Mark Twain House! With Twain’s most famous characters as suspects, portrayed by comedians from Sea Tea Improv, this larger than life version of the classic game is a fun chance for you to play detective.

(14) PHYSICS AND SF IDEAS. The Ad Astra Center for Science Fiction & the Speculative Imagination at the University of Kansas presents “The Higgs Boson In This Particular Universe” with Phil Baringer, Professor Emeritus KU Physics and Astronomy, on Wednesday, August 31 at 6:30 p.m. Central at the Lawrence (KS) Public Library.

What science-fiction ideas does this inspire? Award-winning SF author, educator, and Ad Astra Center director Chris McKitterick leads a Q&A and idea-generation session with Dr. Baringer to help attendees imagine possibilities and launch your own stories.

There will be a recorded livestream of the talk on their YouTube channel. Subscribe now so you don’t miss it.

(15) WHERE DO THEY ALL COME FROM. “Machine learning locates meteorite source on Mars” in Nature.

This unusually multicoloured view of Mars shows the distribution of 90 million impact craters across the planet’s surface, mapped by researchers using a machine-learning algorithm trained on data from previous Mars missions. The colours represent the size, age and density of the craters: for example, blue areas depict the largest and youngest ones.

Scientists made the map while investigating the origin of a meteorite called Black Beauty, which was found in the Sahara Desert in 2011. The lump of rock was thrown out into space when an asteroid struck Mars at least 5 million years ago. The team used the algorithm to narrow down the possibilities, and eventually worked out the exact location of this impact (A. Lagain et al. Nature Commun. 13, 3782; 2022). The researchers suggest that the 10-kilometre-wide crater — named Karratha — could be the focus of a future Mars mission.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Nancy Sauer, Joey Eschrich, Anne Marble, Daniel Dern, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, 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 Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 8/19/22 One Sturgeon, One Spock, One Bierce

(1) F&SF COVER REVEAL. Bob Eggleton created the art on the cover of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction’s Sept/Oct 2022 issue.

(2) B&N. Barnes & Noble seems to be shifting away from hardcovers and promoting paperbacks, and Middle-Grade / YA authors are particularly worried. At Book Riot, Jenn Northington tries to explain “What Is Going On With Barnes & Noble?”

…Let’s take the newest news first: While much of this is anecdotal, it’s not likely that Barnes & Noble would go on the record about this kind of policy and there are enough supporting responses on Bethany Baptiste’s tweet on August 17th to make it clear that many authors with hardcover releases, particularly in Kids and Middle-Grade, are not being stocked even in their local B&N stores. This isn’t limited to debut authors, either; Kelly Yang, the award-winning author of the Front Desk series, posted a video in which she announced she had been specifically told that B&N would not be stocking the newest book in the series. Scroll through the responses to Baptiste’s tweet, and you’ll see many others with the same story. Independent publisher Disruption Books weighed in to note that this holds true with their own experience.

B&N is a key piece of the in-person bookselling world. Despite Amazon controlling the lion’s share of book sales in the US, everyone in publishing (including indie bookstores) seems united in agreeing that without B&N as even a small counterweight to the e-commerce behemoth, bookselling as we know it would be doomed. As Ellen Adler, publisher of New Press, told the New York Times, “It’s funny how the industry has evolved so that they are now a good guy… I would say their rehabilitation has been total.”… 

So let’s add that together for B&N: Central ordering has been down-sized, publishers can no longer pay for placement, stores have less display room, and hardcover sales are down. Add to that the anecdata about B&N buyers being even warier of bringing in newer authors, and you’ve got a recipe for panic.

Which brings us to impact. Discovery is the perennial Holy Grail of publishing: how do you get someone to see or hear about (and then hopefully buy) your new book? There’s no one right answer (and anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something) but physical discovery, i.e. walking into a bookstore and seeing that book on a display table, has long been one of the key elements – which is why publishers have historically been willing to pay for those display spots….

… All of which adds up to, any shift by B&N to carry fewer hardcovers is a blow to discovery, and therefore to authors. If the only hardcovers you can find at your local branch are also the ones that are on the bestseller list, which are also the ones getting marketing dollars, which are also the ones that the algorithms are suggesting to you online, then the chances of, say, a debut author from a marginalized community getting their book in front of your face long enough for you to see it and consider buying it are lower than ever. And let’s be real here: decreases in discovery disproportionately affect authors from marginalized communities.

Laura Anne Gilman posted her response to the B&N news on Facebook.

There is panic once again rumbling through the publishing industry because Barnes & Noble has announced a new hardcover policy that basically fucks over anyone who isn’t already a number one best seller.

This is not good, on very many levels.

However, and I cannot emphasize this enough, this policy appears to apply only to hardcovers, and it’s unclear to my reading if it will apply to all imprints. It’s still not good, but it’s not going to destroy genre publishing. Not until they decide that they’re only gonna take the top book in mass market and or trade, too.

ETA: I would not be entirely surprised if the chains were to do this. They’ve tried it before, it has not worked out well for them.

(Hardcovers have become increasingly expensive, so I’ve been expecting trouble to surface, but I honestly thought it would come from publishers, not booksellers)

And even then, depending on how much autonomy they actually are giving their local stores… well, personally I’m waiting to see how this decision plays out, and how long they keep it in place. If it’s a sales disaster, they will pretend it never happened.

Meanwhile, continue supporting your local and non-local Indies

(3) THEY’RE OFF. The second Self-Published Science Fiction Competition has left the starting line. The SPSFC blog has details: “Let the Games Begin! SPSFC2 is Go!”

Books have been allocated, checked. Covers have been dispersed. The judges are prepped and ready!

WHAT’S NEW THIS YEAR?

This year we’ve made a few adjustments and wanted to highlight them for those following along.

Re-submissions

Firstly, this year we struggled to get to the cap of 300 submissions, so we decided that we would open up the competition to re-submissions for those books who didn’t make it through the slush pile last year. This really helped us hit the cap as we received 112 re-submissions!

With plenty of new judges (currently at 59, with only about 15 returning from last year) we hope to get a fresh set of eyes on these contestants.

… This year we’re going to try our hardest to keep the team progress and communication centralized. We’ll be playing with some ways to keep that going and please tag us on Twitter (@thespsfc) or in the Facebook Group with feedback.

(4) SFF COMMUNITY CALLS FOR VISA TO BE GRANTED TO NIGERIAN AUTHOR. Mimi Mondal is one of many using social media to call for justice in granting a visa so Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki can attend Chicon 8. However, they homed in on the U.S. Consul General in Lagos. Consul General Will Stevens, to make this appeal.

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki says, “Apparently that’s the guy in charge. The main man. That could make it all go away with a wave of his hand.”

(5) INTERNATIONAL BARRIERS. Jason Sanford adds some big-picture comments in ”The Barriers Faced By Authors and Creatives Around the World Limit the Future of the SF/F Genre” on Patreon.

Last year I wrote about the financial barriers faced by authors and creatives around the world, barriers that limited their participation in the science fiction and fantasy genre even as the genre grows increasingly global. These barriers are frequently not seen by many people in the United States, Europe, and Australia, even as people in these countries extol the increasing world-wide reach of the SF/F genre.

Sadly, financial barriers aren’t the only walls keeping people in many parts of the world from fully taking part in the SF/F genre. The latest example of such a barrier is Nigerian author Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki being denied a visa by the U.S. government to attend the World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago, where he is a Hugo Award finalist in two categories.

Ekpeki describes what happened in a must-read thread….

(6) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to share brunch on Eggs Benedict with Michael Jan Friedman in Episode 178 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Michael Jan Friedman

Michael Jan Friedman [has] written more than 70 books — around half of them set in the Star Trek universe. In 1992, he wrote Reunion, the first Star Trek: The Next Generation hardcover, which introduced the crew of the Stargazer, Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s first command. Friedman has also written for the AliensPredatorWolf ManLois and Clark, DC Super Hero, Marvel Super Hero, and Wishbone licensed book universes. Eleven of his books, including Hollywood Hulk Hogan and Ghost Hunting (written with Syfy’s Ghost Hunters), have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. He’s also produced more than 200 comic book stories, including the Darkstars series from DC Comics, which he created with artist Larry Stroman, and the Outlaws limited series, which he created with artist Luke McDonnell. He also co-wrote the story for the second-season Star Trek: Voyager episode “Resistance,” which guest-starred Joel Grey.

We discussed the comic book he refused to trade for Fantastic Four #1 as a kid, how the X-Men might actually be a deconstructed Superman, whether it mattered the Marvel Universe was set in New York rather than DC’s series of fictional cities, why his two favorite superheroes are Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter, the lesson he took from an early encounter with Issac Asimov, how he easily solved a stardate conflict which allowed him to keep Chekov in one of his Star Trek novels, what it was like helping Hulk Hogan write his autobiography, and much more.

(7) TOLKIEN RIGHTS SALE. [Item by David Doering.] Not sure if I should be scared or not. (The Swedes being neutral and all, maybe they are as good a custodian as any.) But it would be like Britain selling the Crown Jewels or Windsor Castle. “Swedish gaming giant buys Lord of the Rings and Hobbit rights” in the Guardian.

The company that owns the rights to JRR Tolkien’s works, including The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, has been bought by the Swedish gaming firm Embracer Group, which has hinted it could make spin-off films based on popular characters such as Gandalf, Aragorn and Gollum.

Embracer has acquired Middle-earth Enterprises, the holding company that controls the intellectual property rights to films, video games, board games, merchandise, theme parks and stage productions relating to Tolkien’s two most famous literary franchises.

The deal also includes “matching rights” in other Middle-earth-related literary works authorised by the Tolkien Estate and HarperCollins – primarily The Silmarillion and The Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth – which were published after Tolkien’s death in 1973….

(8) IT’S ALL ON THE TABLE. Meanwhile, the Embracer Group shows up in another news report, about the board game market: “The Great Nerdification” at Publishers Weekly.

Once upon a time not so very long ago, any board games beyond the household staples like Monopoly and Scrabble were the exclusive property of, well, nerds. And during this not so very long time ago nerds dwelled on the sidelines, wallflower-like: by near definition they were the opposite of popular.

Today, however, we’re living in what Marc Gascoigne, publisher at Aconyte Books (the fiction imprint of the games publisher and distributor Asmodee Entertainment), calls “the great nerdification.” Thanks to hit TV shows like Stranger Things, which reintroduced the public to the seminal role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, all types of tabletop games have become more mainstream—and they’re exploding in growth, and raking in big bucks.

According to the research report “Board Games Market by Product, Distribution Channel, and Geography-Forecast and Analysis 2021–2025” by Technavio Research, the market (which spans tabletop, card and dice, and RPGs) will see a year-over-year growth of 7.1% in 2021 alone, and grow at a compound annual growth rate of roughly 13% between 2020 and 2026. Additionally, the research firm Arizton Advisory & Intelligence estimates that tabletop games will rake in more than $4 billion in incremental revenues during this time frame.

This growth spurt in the board game category is partly due to the pandemic, which forced the world indoors and impelled people to find new (or old) ways to entertain themselves and socialize at home.

“The pandemic has only strengthened people’s fun and enjoyment playing board games,” Gascoigne says. “And you can now play many of them online if you can’t play in person.”

Though the board games industry is still small (if not miniature) potatoes in comparison to the video games market, which is forecast to be $300 billion by 2025, according to the Unity Gaming Report 2022, it’s expanding enough to catch the eye of video game companies, such as Swedish gaming developer the Embracer Group…. 

(9) AND IN THIS CORNER. The Guardian wonders “Who should Predator fight next? Yoda, Children of the Corn, or Sid from Toy Story?”

…It’s perhaps no coincidence that at a time when nobody really wanted another Predator movie, the straight-to-streaming prequel Prey has reinvigorated interest in the long-running saga. Set in North America in 1719, its less-is-more strategy pays off by pitching the alien against a young Native American woman who must use guile and her understanding of the warrior code to fend off an attack from the mandible-sporting alien.

The premise is much more intriguing than the execrable Alien vs Predator movies, and of course the Twittersphere has gone into a predictable loop-the-loop with suggestions for future episodes. Top of the pile is Stephen King’s idea that the extra-terrestrial hunter take on the Children of the Corn, the murderous kids who featured in his 1977 short story (and subsequent torrent of inexplicably bad movies).

Is King joking? Who cares! It’s another sideways option that would keep the Predator franchise searingly alive. Maybe the alien comes down to Earth in search of “He Who Walks Behind the Rows”, the horrible green demon worshipped by the juvenile citizens of Gatlin in King’s novel, and finds he has bitten off more than he can chew. (Can you chew with mandibles?)…

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1998 [By Cat Eldridge.] The first film of the Blade trilogy had its premiere in New York City on this date. Based off the Blade series by writer Marv Wolfman and artist Gene Colan, the screenplay was written by David S. Goyer who would also write Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. 

Wesley Snipes who plays the very special human-vampire hybrid Blade here would be one of the three producers. And I thought the cast was interesting: Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson, N’Bushe Wright and Donal Logue. 

A. Asbjørn Jøn raised the question whether Kris Kristofferson’s Whistler character was based off a character named Whistler in A Dozen Black Roses by Nancy A. Collins which came out two years earlier. Given that filming for this film started at least eighteen months before it got released and that means the screenplay was written at least a year before that, I think not. 

To save having to do SPOILERS, I will skip talking about the story which frankly is far less interesting than the sheer physical action here. It’s really watching fun Blade kill vampires in new and frankly gory manners. Snipes is fascinating to watch as he has a dancer’s physical grace as brutally stabs a vampire. Cool. Way cool.

The Blade here is not the Blade of the comics. Goyer replaced the daggers Blade used in the comics with a sword and gave him a more samurai-like aesthetic which explains the dance-like grace I saw in him. 

It cost forty million to produce and made a rather excellent one hundred and thirty million. 

Critics generally liked it. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Tribune made a good point when he noted that, “Blade is a movie that relishes high visual style.” And Peter Bradshaw writing for the Guardian said, “Blade is an entertainingly macabre and excitingly staged action horror, with a propulsive energy..” 

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give a quite stellar seventy eight percent rating. 

And yes, I like it rather a lot having seen it at the cinema and then watched it several times on video. I’m not at all fond of the two sequels though. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 19, 1921 Gene Roddenberry. Oh, you know who he is. But did you know he wrote a lot of scripts for Have Gun – Will Travel? Indeed his script for the show, “Helen of Abajinian” would win the Writer’s Guild of America award for Best Teleplay in 1958. And yes, he would share a Hugo for Star Trek’s “The City on the Edge of Forever” episode which was awarded at Baycon. (Died 1991.)
  • Born August 19, 1928 Richard N. Farmer. Author of Islandia Revisited: A Sequel By Other Hands which he claims to be a sequel to Austin Tappan Wright’s Islandia. No, it wasn’t at all authorized. There are authorized sequels to Islandia, three of them, all written by Mark Saxton, the man who edited the original Islandia manuscript. They are, in this order, The Islar, Islandia Today – A Narrative of Lang IIIThe Two Kingdoms and Havoc in Islandia. Sylvia Wright, Wright’s daughter and the executrix of the estate, died shortly before the third Saxton book was completed. Mark Saxton himself died in 1988, so it’s not really likely that we will see any additional Islandia novels.(Died 1987.)
  • Born August 19, 1930 D.G. Compton, 92. SWFA Author Emeritus whose The Steel Crocodile was nominated for the Nebula Award. The Unsleeping EyeThe Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe in the U.K., was filmed as Death Watch which the Audience Reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes actually like giving it a 60% rating. His two Alec Jordan near-future police stories are superb. He selected for the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award.
  • Born August 19, 1938 Diana Muldaur, 84. She appeared in the original series in two episodes, first in “Return to Tomorrow” as Dr. Ann Mulhall / Thalassa and then in “Is There in Truth No Beauty?”  as Dr. Miranda Jones. She, of course, is up again in Next Gen as Dr. Katherine Pulaski.  She voiced Dr. Leslie Thompkins in that animated Batman series as well. 
  • Born August 19, 1940 Jill St. John, 82. She’s best remembered as Tiffany Case, the Bond girl in Diamonds Are Forever. She was the first American to play a Bond girl. She shows in The Batman in “Smack in the Middle” and “Hi Diddle Riddle” as Molly. And she played Jennifer Holmes in the 1960 film version of The Lost World. Even more fascinatingly she’s one of the uncredited dancers on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In
  • Born August 19, 1950 Mary Doria Russell, 72. The Sparrow series, The Sparrow and its sequel Children of God, are awesome. The Sparrow won the Clarke, BSFA, and Tiptree Awards, and it was the reason she won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Though not genre, Doc and its sequel Epitaph are mysteries using the historic character of Doc Holliday. 
  • Born August 19, 1952 Jonathan Frakes, 70. Best known for his portrayal of Commander William T. Riker in Next Gen and I’m fond of his voicing David Xanatos on the Gargoyles series which had at least five Trek actors doing voice work. Interesting bit of trivia: For a time in the Seventies, he worked for Marvel Comics at Cons as Captain America. He has directed more than seventy television episodes, including episodes of myriad Trek series, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.LeverageThe Librarians and The Orville.

(12) A NICE TURN OF PHRASE. Says Icona:

(13) DEAD RECKONING. Book Riot’s K. W. Colyard spotlights “Murder Mysteries In Space: 10 Thrillers Set Where No One Can Hear You Scream”. First on the list:

THE TEA MASTER AND THE DETECTIVE BY ALIETTE DE BODARD

Aliette de Bodard’s Hugo- and Nebula-nominated novella centers on The Shadow’s Child: a sentient spaceship who has settled into her new life as a wounded veteran. Her latest client is Long Chau: a researcher who needs The Shadow’s Child‘s help acquiring a dead body. But when they realize the body they’ve found is that of a murder victim, this newly acquainted dynamic duo have no choice but to investigate in The Tea Master and the Detective.

(14) IT’S ABOUT TIME. Another SFnal-ish Isaac Arthur here: “Time Wars & Alternate Timelines” on YouTube.

Temporal Paradox and Time Travel delight us in science fiction, but what would a war across time really look like?

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Day Shift Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George explains the new Jamie Foxx vampire hunter movie begins with Jamie Foxx fighting a valued senior citizen, killing her, and stealing her fangs because in this world, the older the vampire, the more valuable their fangs.  We learn about the vampires because Foxx and another character “have an exposition battle where they quiz each other on how much they know.”  Also, many characters pee their pants and this is a plot point because “vampires don’t pee.”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Gordon Van Gelder, Scott Edelman, Jason Sanford, David Doering, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

US Embassy in Nigeria Denies Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki Visa Application; Won’t Get to Attend Worldcon

Nigerian sff author Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, a 2022 Hugo finalist, will not be able to attend Chicon 8 because the U.S. Embassy in Lagos denied him a visa during an appointment where, he says, they spent only a minute on his application before turning him down.

Ekpeki gives the details and talks about the heartbreak at length in a Twitter thread here.

The cost of his Worldcon trip had been crowdfunded in one day.

This experience with the embassy also throws into doubt whether Ekpeki will be able to attend the 2023 International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA) in Orlando, FL where he is invited to be a Guest of Honor.

Jason Sanford, who organized the Gofundme and provided other help, is outraged. “Ekpeki did everything right to try and attend Worldcon, even worked the near impossible to receive an interview appointment at the embassy (usually those appointments take a year or more to get). And then to be rejected in less than a minute without them looking at any of the supporting info or details!!!”

He has a Twitter thread on the subject here.

Update: Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki later posted the form letter he was handed:

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

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

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

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

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

And out on the Internet:

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

along with this suggestion/explanation for the idiom:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Journey Planet 64 cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(11) MEMORY LANE.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

(13) COMICS SECTION.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relax. They nailed it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anonymous Blog’s Rankings Draw Protest By Hugo Finalist Short Fiction Editor

Cartoon by Teddy Harvia

When the Hugo voting deadline closes in a lot of bloggers write posts about how they’re filling out their Hugo ballots. It’s some of the most-read material they’ll put out all year.

The SF Insiders began publishing in June, produced by an anonymous “small group of writers who’ve known each other for years”, and most of their posts so far have been about the Hugos, Lodestar or Astounding Awards given at the Worldcon.

Their second post appeared on June 20, “Blogging the Hugos #1 – Editor Short Form”, where they say “With one exception, six of us independently ranked the six finalists in the same order”. Assigned last place was —

6. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki

Ekpeki is a promising new editor and first-time finalist (and writer-finalist in novelette), but his only work for 2021 was The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction, a reprint anthology showcasing the work of other editors. There is some merit to assembling a reprint anthology, particularly one that shines a light on another part of the world, but all the other editors contributed original fiction they selected and edited.

Jason Sanford tweeted on August 5 that he regards this as a “smear”.

The SF Insiders decided they were being accused of racism: “Being Seen Again”.

…Someone decided they disagreed with the criteria we used for editor short form and, in true Twitter fashion, decided to make insinuations about our character to promote their own choice, which happened to be our last. In short, a white man called us racist….

While the tweets must stand on their own, Jason Sanford, responding to a question from File 770, said these were his reasons for speaking out: “Just saw the post being passed around and discussed in the genre community and figured I’d add my view. In addition, Ekpeki did a ton of hard work to create the first Year’s Best anthology focused on African speculative fiction, and faced obstacles many editors from the USA and Europe don’t have to deal with. So for that groundbreaking work to be dismissed with as merely ‘a reprint anthology’ really rubbed me the wrong way.” 

And in their “Editor Short Form” post the SF Insiders had not been reluctant to compliment the work of a Black American-born editor:

3. Sheree Renée Thomas

Thomas started as editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 2021 and has previously edited anthologies. Her first year was a step up for the magazine, but a transition year is bound to be a bit uneven and that’s how it felt to us. This is where we had some disagreement. One of us ranked her as #2 simply based on the difficulty of such transitions and how well she’s handled it. All of us have high expectations for the magazine under her leadership.

There still remains the issue of the SF Insiders‘ given reason for ranking Ekpeki last, that in their view assembling a reprint anthology is less worthy of being recognized than editing original short fiction.

Hugo finalist Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki was incensed by this idea and wrote a 3,000-word Facebook post to dispute it. The full text is at the link. A couple of his key points are:

My “only” work was a reprint anthology “showcasing the work of other editors”. All the other editors contributed original fiction they “edited & selected”.

Essentially saying that I didn’t do enough. What I did do, was no work, or not my work. & finally, not really editing.

Do they realize that this discredits the work of respected icons in the SFF editing world? People like Gardner Dozois, Jonathan Strahan Neil Clark, Ellen Datlow, Paula Guran, Ann & Jeff Vandermeer, & many more who also do reprints & Year’s Bests? It discredits their work. & what is a valid component of anthologies, editing and the genre itself, just to remove from the value of my work. On the other hand, I haven’t heard anyone refer to those other Year’s Best anthologies as showcasing the work of other editors. So what’s different btw me & them?

So that mine is “showcasing the work of other editors?” That’s what reprints & Year’s Best anthologies boil down to now someone’s done the first Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction anthology? Strange And I really really really want to disagree. Strongly but hopefully, coherently. I get that reviewers have to do their thing thing, and we should leave them alone and all that. But all things have limits & exceptions as my fellow Law students who went on to practice will tell you. This isn’t reviewing, so much as redefining.

If you say my compilation is bad, the works I choose don’t work, I have no Introduction, all of which has been mentioned in different tones going from positive inquiry to not so positive, I wouldn’t have made a fuss. But this is redefining what editing work is. And I have to disagree and make known my disagreement, strongly. Because not doing so would be agreeing with this faulty, problematic and dismissive, not to mention undermining, if not sabotaging definition. By editing the Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction anthology I did not “showcase” the works of other editors. The works were created by writers, not editors. That’s the first thing. Editing is its own work of selection and compilation you do whether for originals or reprints. It’s the same thing irrespective of the state of the works.

…So when you say it showcases the work of other editors, you miss the fine point of this. Is it any more rigorous reading an original work than reading a reprint? Are the words easier or harder to read? I don’t get how it’s less work or entirely the original editor’s work.

Does energy leave them every time the work is reprinted so that the reprinting editor loses nothing? Like doesn’t incur costs, charges, spend time, energy, etc? Is all that billable to the original editors so that the reprint merely “showcases” it?

…We need to work on the quality of our allyship in the genre space. Esp white, male, older writers. Generally anyone with a level of privilege. I wish we were more careful about the kind of things we give oxygen to, and unwittingly support. A bit more responsible allyship. Things like not putting out or boosting things that denigrate marginalized people or members of a minority class, vulnerable people. The people we claim to and even actually support in the community. It’s undoing and making nonsense of that work. If you are an authority in the industry, your acquiescence or even silence emboldens or ratifies these people. Is taken as approval. If you can stand by now and watch a member of a minority group be bashed, what says you won’t do the same when it’s a physical lynching?

I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen reasonable, responsible, kind, cool people we all like posting or sharing or boosting things that deliberately and obviously denigrate or demean me & other marginalized people in a racial or other marginalizing and bigoted way. Society, systems are a makeup of all of us. The way that you are and how you receive issues, react to, respond or don’t respond to them contributes to the society or system we have. So you have to ask yourself what kind of society or system your action or inaction is creating. Not just continue criticizing a system you prop up or contribute unwittingly to creating or sustaining. I am no stranger to criticism. You’ll be surprised the kind of things I’ve heard or had said to and about me. The majority of which I don’t share with anyone because it would make my feed very unpalatable….

Ekpeki has merged a defense of his work as a reprint editor with a counterattack on anyone who “demean[s] me & other marginalized people in a racial or other marginalizing and bigoted way” which indicates what he thinks are the motivations of the SF Insiders.

The SF Insiders wrote a response to Jason Sanford’s tweets (“Being Seen Again”), probably before Ekpeki’s Facebook post went live, for they tried to create division between the editor and his ally:

If the editor in question happens to be reading this, please know we enjoyed your anthology. Congratulations on your nomination! Your supporter, while admirably passionate about your work is, however, misguided and causing harm. We hope you don’t sanction such things. (That’s a criteria too.)

The mysterious SF Insiders like to agitate but sound offended when the inevitable pushback arrives. And while Ekpeki’s work should be respected and he is entitled to be proud of being a Hugo finalist, unleashing a three-thousand-word thunderbolt against a group of anonymous bloggers anoints them with a level of prestige they did not previously have.

Pixel Scroll 6/8/22 Goodness, Gracious, Great Scrolls Of Fur

(1) BIG RESPONSE. The “Send Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki to Worldcon” GoFundMe appeal passed its $7,000 goal in just over a day. A total of $7,460 has been raised from 156 donors at this writing.

(2) WHEN THE MOON HITS YOUR EYE. [By Mike Kennedy.] OK, so it wasn’t as big as the Moon (or even a pizza pie) but the “love tap” that the James Webb Space Telescope received was from an object bigger than expected. “NASA’s new powerful space telescope gets hit by larger than expected micrometeoroid” at The Verge.

NASA expected the JWST to be hit by quite a few micrometeoroids over its lifetime, but also expected them to be typically smaller than a grain of sand. One of the impacts received so far, though, was from an object bigger than that (though NASA hasn’t said just how big). It damaged one of the mirrors enough to cause a “marginally detectable effect in the data.“ Controllers are still working on it, but they feel they can make sufficient adjustments to the mirror to partially cancel the data distortion.

…Since its launch, JWST has already been hit by at least four different micrometeoroids, according to a NASA blog post, but all of those were small and about the size of what NASA expected the observatory to encounter. A micrometeoroid is typically a small fragment of an asteroid, usually smaller than a grain of sand. The one that hit JWST in May, however, was larger than what the agency had prepared for, though the agency didn’t specify its exact size. NASA admits that the strike, which occurred between May 23rd and May 25th, has caused a “marginally detectable effect in the data” and that engineers are continuing to analyze the effects of the impact….

(3) THE DECLARATION OF SWEETWEIRD. Charlie Jane Anders promulgated “The Sweetweird Manifesto” this week. The post names plenty of works she regards as examples and creates a retroactive history of the form.

…And here’s where I should admit that sweetweird isn’t actually a formal movement, and nobody except for me has been using that term. I wrote in my recent writing advice book Never Say You Can’t Survive that I’m burned out on “grimdark” storytelling that revels in nastiness and extreme violence, and instead I’m ready for “sweetweird.”… 

What is Sweetweird?

The core idea of sweetweird is: the world makes no sense, but we can be nurturing, frivolous and kind. We don’t have to respond to the ludicrous illogic of the world around us by turning mean and nasty, or by expecting everyone else to be horrible. At the very least, we can carve out friendly, supportive spaces in the midst of chaotic nonsense, and maybe help each other survive.

Instead of demanding that the universe stop being a farrago, we embrace the strangeness and make it our own. The unrealness of our consensus reality liberates us, because it undermines the fiction of “normality” and creates a space for us to be our authentic eccentric selves. Decency without conformity, joy that doesn’t depend on a false sense of stability. Affectionate silliness….. 

(4) FREE READS. Aliette de Bodard alerted fans that two of her short stories are available to read for free:

“Sword of Bone, Halls of Thorns” at The Sunday Morning Transport is a story about an exorcist, a talking sword, creepy vegetation and how the choices we make haunt us beyond death and rebirth. 

“The Scholar of the Bamboo Flute” is a reprint available in Uncanny Magazine. Basically it’s Utena-inspired sapphic shenanigans set in a 19th Century Vietnamese-esque academy. (if you don’t know the anime Utena, let’s just say it involves magical duelling, a princess and a whole hell of a lot of queerness, and it’s one of my absolute favourites–a formative watch for me). 

(5) ARTIST Q&A. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association’s SPECPO blog posted “An Interview with Austin Hart, Star*Line 44.3 Cover Artist, by Jean-Paul Garnier (editor)”.

What led you into the visual arts, and what inspires you to create?

I just admired people that could draw from an early age. I had a couple of uncles that were good artists, and my dad is an architect and my mom is good at drawing even though she doesn’t do it much. I remember some kids in my classes in elementary school that were good artists early on and just trying to keep up with them. Marvel and Image comics and trading cards were very popular and I liked drawing characters and weapons from RPGs. I remember finding out about Robert Crumb, and later Frank Frazetta, early on and that raised the bar in my head for what was possible, but I could never be as good as they are. I am more impressed by pros who can do quick lose expressive sketches with very few lines than people who can make a fully rendered drawing or painting. I am very envious of those types of pros.

(6) SFF’S OWN LOST CAUSE MYTH. Camestros Felapton took notes on a 95-minute YouTube chat between host Ethan Van Sciver and guest Larry Correia: “Watching You Tube so you don’t have to: Larry & Ethan edition”.

…What sustained me through what was an extraordinarily dull experience was the question on whether the elephants in the room would get mentioned. Put these guys together and there are two elephants: one quite significant and based in Switzerland and one less so and based in California.

… In short, EVS and LC had a lot in common to talk about! You won’t be surprised to discover that they didn’t talk about it either…

…After that, we get a garbled history of the Puppy campaigns. Events get shoehorned together and the absence of Vox Day from the story looms ever larger. It becomes this big mysterious thing as to why people might think of the Sad Puppy 2 campaign as being racist and misogynistic (hint: Vox Day aside from anything else). The absence of Day from the narrative enables this spin that the pushback against the Sad Puppy campaign from a diversity perspective was wholly irrational…

(7) THE WORLD NEEDS A HERO. DC dropped this trailer for Black Adam today. Only in theaters October 21.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1984 [By Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-eight years ago on this day, Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, the sequel to the Hugo-winning Raiders of the Lost Ark, premiered. It’s actually a prequel to that film. Once again it’s directed by Steven Spielberg from a story by George Lucas. The screenplay was by the husband and wife team of Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, best known for American Graffiti which yes involved both George Lucas and Harrison Ford. 

Harrison Ford was of course back along with Kate Capshaw, Amrish Puri, Roshan Seth, Philip Stone and Ke Huy Quan. Capshaw would marry Spielberg seven years later and yes they are still married, bless them! 

I’ll admit that Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom was nearly not as fun for me as Raiders of the Lost Ark but critics loved it, with Roger Ebert in his Chicago Sun-Times review saying it was “the most cheerfully exciting, bizarre, goofy, romantic adventure movie since Raiders, and it is high praise to say that it’s not so much a sequel as an equal. It’s quite an experience.”  

And Kathleen Carroll of the New York Daily Postwas equally exuberant: “Indie, you will be happy to learn, hasn’t changed a bit. Played with gruff determination by the appealingly rugged Harrison Ford, he continues to set quite a pace for himself in Spielberg’s rip-roaring, boldly imaginative sequel to his blockbuster hit.” 

It’s worth noting that It did get banned in India which as one who spent considerable time in Sri Lanka is something I fully understand as there are truly disgusting Indian stereotypes in that film.

It was fantastically profitable as it cost just under thirty million in production and publicity costs and made ten times that at the box office in its initial run! 

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes are very fond of it, giving it an eighty-four percent rating. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 8, 1910 – John W. Campbell, Jr.  Author of half a dozen novels, a score of shorter stories like “Who Goes There?” and “Forgetfulness.” For 34 years he edited Astounding, renamed Analog, and a short-lived fantasy companion, Unknown (see Fred Smith’s Once There Was a Magazine). Ushered in the Golden Age of SF. Won 17 Hugos, of which nine were Retrospective, all but one for editing (the exception: Retro-Hugo for “Who Goes There?”). On the other hand, in his ASF editorials he supported many forms of crank medicine, and promoted Dianetics, and specious views about slavery, race, and segregation, all of which was well-known in sf fandom. In the Sixties he rejected Samuel R. Delany‘s Nova for serialization saying that he did not feel his readership “would be able to relate to a black main character.” Focusing on his foundational contributions, his name was put on the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, but after 46 years it was renamed the Astounding Award when a winner called him out for “setting a tone of science fiction that still haunts the genre to this day.” (Died 1971) [OGH]
  • Born June 8, 1915 Frank Riley. He’s best known for They’d Rather Be Right (co-written with Mark Clifton) which won a Hugo Award for Best Novel at Clevention (1955). Originally published in serialized form in Astounding unlike his eight short SF stories that were all published in If. Sadly he’s not made it into the digital realm yet except for scattered stories. (Died 1996.)
  • Born June 8, 1917 George D. Wallace. He’s here for playing Commando Cody in the early Fifties Radar Men from the Moon movie serial. He would later show up as the Bosun on Forbidden Planet, and had minor roles late in his career in MultiplicityBicentennial Man and Minority Report. He also played a Star Fleet Admiral in “The Man of the People” episode of The Next Generation. (Died 2005.)
  • Born June 8, 1926 Philip Levene. He wrote nineteen episodes of The Avengers including creating the Cybernauts which won him a Writer’s Guild Award, and served as script consultant for the series in 1968–69. He also has three genre acting credits, one as a Supervisor in “The Food” episode of Quatermass II; the second as a Security Guard in the X the Unknown film, and finally as Daffodil in Avenger’s “Who’s Who” episode. (Died 1973.)
  • Born June 8, 1928 Kate Wilhelm. Author of the Hugo–winning Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang. She also won a Hugo for Best Related Book and a Locus Award for Best Nonfiction for Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. SFWA renamed their Solstice Award the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award. She established the Clarion Workshop with her husband Damon Knight and writer Robin Scott Wilson. (Died 2018.)
  • Born June 8, 1946 Elizabeth A. Lynn, 76. She is well known for being one of the first genre writers to introduce gay and lesbian characters as an aspect of her stories. So in honor of her, the widely known A Different Light chain of LGBT bookstores took its name from her novel of that name. Her best known work is The Chronicles of Tornor series. Her Watchtower novel won a World Fantasy Award as did “The Woman Who Loved the Moon” story. 
  • Born June 8, 1947 Sara Paretsky, 75. Best best known for her private detective novels focused on V.I. Warshawski, she has one genre novel in Ghost Country. It too involves V.I. Warshawski and may or may not involve things of supernatural nature. I haven’t encountered it, so I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who has. 
  • Born June 8, 1973 Lexa Doig, 49. Cowgirl the hacker on TekWar,the post-Trek Shatner series that he actually made sense in as opposed to Barbary Coast. She was also Andromeda Ascendant/Rommie on Andromeda and Sonya Valentine on Continuum, and the voice of Dale Arden in the animated Flash Gordon series. One-offs in Earth: Final ConflictThe 4400Stargate SG-1, Eureka, V, Smallville, Supernatural and Primeval: New World

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Mannequin on the Moon has a wonderful word processing gag.
  • Crankshaft is about someone who hasn’t kept up with the times. (Which it usually is, come to think of it.)

(11) HEAD OUT ON THE HIGHWAY. This bookseller delivers – the entire store! “Rita Collins Drives a Traveling Bookstore Around the United States” at Today.

From May to October, you can find Rita Collins, 70, in the front seat of a white Sprinter van, driving across America. In this era of RVs and #vanlife Instagram photos, Collins’ ride is set apart. Rattling around, in the back of her van, is a fully functional used bookstore.

While stopping in small towns and cities around the U.S., Collins relishes in the wonder that comes across people’s faces when they realize this van is not like any other. Whether she’s parked outside of a book festival, coffee shop or farmer’s market, Collins finds herself having the same conversation, encouraging people to climb the wooden steps and take a peek inside….

Like most traditional bookstores, St. Rita’s Traveling Bookstore and Textual Apothecary has floor-to-ceiling shelves organized by genre, overhead lighting and a carpet on the floor. The main difference, of course, is that it’s on wheels. The bookstores’ 600 volumes are set at a 15 degree angle to keep them from falling as Collins drives from state to state — so far, she’s been to 30, and has traveled cross-country three times. 

(12) HERE COMES THE PITCH. “’Ms. Marvel’ directors presented a PowerPoint to Kevin Feige to convince him to include animation, inspired by ‘Into the Spider-Verse’” at MSN.com.

…With past shows like “Moon Knight,” “Hawkeye,” “Loki,” and “WandaVision” taking on a more serious tone, here comes a standout show that’s refreshingly light.

You can give some of that credit to filmmaking duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah.

The Moroccan-Belgian filmmakers (known collectively as Adil and Bilall) instantly saw “Ms. Marvel” as a show that should be filled with color, life, and celebration of culture….

Adil and Billal felt animation would make the show pop. So they compiled a presentation with things that inspired them and headed to the Marvel Studios offices to pitch how they would direct the series to studio head Kevin Feige and his team.

“Kevin walked in and I have to admit, I was a little starstruck,” Bilall said. “We did this whole PowerPoint presentation and we told them that this is our influences for the show. ‘Into the Spider-Verse’ was a big one because of the animation.”

“For us, the animation was something we always wanted to put into it,” Adil added. “We wanted to portray that dream world of Kamala Khan and the comic book aspect to it. We were afraid that Kevin would say no because it’s different from the other shows of the MCU.”

(13) THEY ROCK TO THE TREES. A 2015 article at Hollywood.com involving Andy Serkis, The Imaginarium, motion capture, and animation — with a nod to 2001: A Space Odyssey — tells how an “Andy Serkis meeting inspired Coldplay’s chimp video”.

A chance meeting between British rocker Chris Martin and actor Andy Serkis inspired the band to embrace motion-capture technology for a new music video.

The musicians were transformed into chimps in the promo for their new single Adventure Of A Lifetime using techniques pioneered in Hollywood movies such as Avatar and The Lord of The Rings.

It has now been revealed the idea came about after frontman Chris bumped into Andy on a plane, and the pair discussed the actor’s experiences with motion-capture on films such as King Kong and the Planet of the Apes series.

The rockers spent six months making the short clip, and used “full motion performance capture rigs” to transform themselves….

Coldplay – Adventure Of A Lifetime (Making Of Video)

Coldplay – Adventure Of A Lifetime (Official Video) – YouTube

(14) HERMAN, LILY, & GRANDPA, OH MY. ScreenRant invites us to watch “’The Munsters’ Return in First Trailer for Rob Zombie Movie”. The Munsters will premiere this fall on Universal All Access.

…Today, Universal released the first teaser for the film, which is practically a shot-for-shot remake of the original Munsters opening credits, complete with the classic Munsters theme song. It makes it pretty clear that if you were expecting Zombie to turn The Munsters into a stereotypical Rob Zombie movie full of blood and guts, you were mistaken. (Zombie has already said, this is not an R-rated reimagining; it’s a PG-rated tribute.)…

(15) X MINUS TWO. Paramount Plus promises this is “the dumbest science fiction movie ever made!” Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe, streaming on June 23,

In perhaps the dumbest space movie ever made, Beavis and Butt-head are sentenced to Space Camp by a “creative” judge in 1998, leading to a trip on the Space Shuttle, with predictably disastrous results. After going through a black hole, they reemerge in our time, where they look for love, misuse iPhones, and are hunted by the Deep State. Spoiler: They don’t score.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Alasdair Beckett-King asks, “What happens if you merged King of the Hill and Lord of the Rings?” in “Return of the King of the Hill of the Rings”.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/6/22 Make Your Own Kind Of Pixel, Even When Nobody Else Scrolls Along

(1) FUND OGHENECHOVWE DONALD EKPEKI’S TRIP TO CHICON 8. Jason Sanford has set up a GoFundMe that will “Send Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki to Worldcon”. Donate at the link.

This year Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki became the first African writer to win the Nebula Award for Best Novelette for his story “O2 Arena ,” with that story also making him the first African writer to be a finalist for the Hugo Award in the same category. In addition, he became the first person from Africa to be a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Editor, Short Form, for his work on the groundbreaking anthology Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction.

 This fundraiser is to allow Ekpeki to travel from Nigeria to attend Chicon 8, the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in Chicago. In addition to allowing Ekpeki to attend the Worldcon where he is a finalist for two Hugo Awards, the fundraiser will also enable him to work on building in-person connections at Worldcon between genre fans and professionals from Africa and around the world….

(2) 2024 NASFIC BID. The Buffalo in 2024 NASFiC bid chair Wayne Brown answered File 770’s question about who is on the committee. Says Brown:

We have a small group right now but are looking to add more committee members.  Right now the committee consists of:

  • Wayne Brown (chair)
  • Alex Von Thorn
  • Debi Chowdhury
  • Marah Searle-Kovacevic
  • David Ennis

(3) UP ABOVE THE WORLD SO HIGH. Astronaut Chris Hadfield is one of the shortlisted authors for the 2022 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize worth £10,000.

  • The Apollo Murders by Chris Hadfield (Quercus)
  • Where Blood Runs Cold by Giles Kristian (Bantam Press, Transworld Publishers)
  • The Vacation by John Marrs (Pan, Pan Macmillan)
  • The Plant Hunter by T.L. Mogford (Welbeck Publishing Group)
  • Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo (Virago, Little, Brown Book Group)
  • Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter by Lizzie Pook (Mantle, Pan Macmillan)

The judges discuss their definition of adventure here.The winner of the 2022 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize will be announced at an online ceremony on September 21. 

(4) JUBILEE COVERAGE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The weekend has been a blast. If you get a chance catch the “Jubilee Platinum Party at the Palace.” [Note: Can only be viewed in the UK. But there are many short video clips on The Royal Family Channel.]

The next day we had a parade through central London and even the Daleks were well behaved.

(5) PULP FOREVER. Cora Buhlert has an essay about Harald Harst, a forgotten German pulp detective of the Weimar Republic era, in The Drink Tank #439 on page 10:

So-called dime novels or penny dreadfuls are a child of the industrial revolution, when the invention of the rotary printing press made it possible to publish cheap literature for the masses. The dime novel was born in the mid-nineteenth century and in the United States gave way to pulp magazines at the turn of the twentieth century. But in Germany, the dime novel never died….

(6) HE’S BACK. Netflix announced The Sandman will begin airing August 5.

There is another world that waits for all of us when we close our eyes and sleep — a place called the Dreaming, where The Sandman, Master of Dreams (Tom Sturridge), gives shape to all of our deepest fears and fantasies. But when Dream is unexpectedly captured and held prisoner for a century, his absence sets off a series of events that will change both the dreaming and waking worlds forever. To restore order, Dream must journey across different worlds and timelines to mend the mistakes he’s made during his vast existence, revisiting old friends and foes, and meeting new entities — both cosmic and human — along the way. Based on the beloved award-winning DC comic series written by Neil Gaiman, THE SANDMAN is a rich, character-driven blend of myth and dark fantasy woven together over the course of ten epic chapters following Dream’s many adventures.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1980 [By Cat Eldridge.] It’s been forty-two years since this film came out and I can’t remember if I’ve seen it. It certainly sounds familiar but that doesn’t mean anything. So let’s get to it.

It was both directed and written by William Sachs who previously had done Secrets of the Gods (re-released in theatres as The Force Beyond in 1977) and The Incredible Melting Man. It was produced by Marilyn Jacobs Tenser who had absolutely no genre background though she did produce Superchick and The Pom Pom Girls

The cast consisted of Stephen Macht, Avery Schreiber. James David, Hinton Lionel and  Mark Smith. And one more individual — Dorothy Stratten.  Now let’s be honest, Dorothy Stratten was Galaxina. Literally. And as she was a Playboy Playmate, she was the only draw for this R-rated SF film which also had a triple breasted alien in it a decade before Total Recall had its triple-breasted Mars whore.

As Jeffrey Anderson said in his review, “Unfortunately, the actual movie isn’t much. Stratten in fact plays a robot and doesn’t do or say much for at least the first half of the movie; and, despite her Playboy status, she keeps her clothes on. Then we’ve got the rest of the movie to deal with: it’s a lazy attempt to spoof the popular sci-fi movies of the day, including Star WarsAlien, and many others, but the jokes are little more than references and they simply don’t work.” 

It was made in less than three weeks on a shoestring budget of about five million and the box office was somewhat less than that. It was never released outside of the States.  

No, the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes do not like it, giving it just a twenty-three percent rating.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 6, 1918 Richard Crane. In the Fifties, he would be cast in two of the series that largely defined the look and feel of televised SF for a decade. First, he was the dashing lead in Rocky Jones, Space Ranger which lasted for thirty-nine thrilling episodes; second, he’s Dick Preston in nine of the twelve episodes of the wonderfully titled Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe. He was also the lead in the fifteen-chapter serial Mysterious Island which was a very loose adaption of the Jules Verne novel. He died far too young died of a heart attack at the age of fifty. (Died 1969.)
  • Born June 6, 1931 Joan Marshall. She played Lt. Areel Shaw in Star Trek‘s “Court Martial”, a rather excellent affair. Her other major genre other was as Wilma in The Twilight Zone‘s “Dead Man’s Shoes”.  She also had roles in Men in SpaceThe Outer LimitsThe Munsters and I-Spy. The Munsters appearance was in My Fair Munster, the Unaired Pilot as Phoebe Munster. (Died 1992.)
  • Born June 6, 1936 Levi Stubbs. Remember the voice of Audrey in The Little Shop of Horrors film?  (It was nominated for a Hugo at Conspiracy ’87 the year Aliens won.) Well that was this individual who was the lead vocalist of the Four Tops. Cool, very cool.  On the film soundtrack, he performs “Feed Me (Git It)”, “Suppertime” and “Mean Green Mother From Outer Space”. (Died 2008.)
  • Born June 6, 1947 Robert Englund, 75. I think his best performance was as Blackie on the very short-lived Nightmare Cafe. Short-lived as in just six episodes. Of course most will remember him playing Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. He actually appeared in a couple of now forgotten horror films, Dead & Buried and Galaxy of Terror, before landing that role. And he’s continued to do myriad horror films down to the years ranging from CHUD  to Strippers vs Werewolves. (Really. Truly. He did.)  Versatile man, our Robert. So versatile in fact that he’s on Stranger Things as Victor Creel in a recurring role.
  • Born June 6, 1951 Geraldine McCaughrean, 71. Fifteen years ago, she wrote Peter Pan in Scarlet, the official sequel to Peter Pan commissioned by Great Ormond Street Hospital, the holder of Peter Pan’s copyright which J.M. Barrie granted them. So has anyone here read it?  By the way, she’s extremely prolific having now written over one hundred and eighty books! 
  • Born June 6, 1959 Amanda Pays, 63. I first encountered her as Thero Jones on Max Headroom, a series I think should be considered one of the best SF series ever made. She appeared as Dawn in the Spacejacked film. She also had a guest role as Phoebe Green in the episode “Fire” of The X-Files, and was cast as Christina “Tina” McGee in The Flash of the 1990 series, and she has a recurring role on the present Flash series as the same character.
  • Born June 6, 1963 Jason Isaacs, 59. Captain Gabriel Lorca, the commanding officer of the USS Discovery in the first season of Discovery and also provided the voice of The Inquisitor, Sentinel, in Star Wars Rebels, and Admiral Zhao in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Oh, and the role of Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter film franchise.
  • Born June 6, 1964 Jay Lake. Another one who died far too young. If you read nothing else by him, read his brilliant Mainspring Universe series. Though his Green Universe is also extremely entertaining. He won an Astounding Award for Best New Writer and an Endeavour Award for Last Plane to Heaven: The Final Collection which collects a lot of his most excellent short fiction.  He has two Hugo nominations, one at Noreascon 4 for his “Into the Gardens of Sweet Night” novelette and one at LoneStarCon3 for his “The Stars Do Not Lie” novella. (Died 2014.)

(9) BERLIN IN 1967. Cora Buhlert’s new Galactic Journey article chronicles the point where the peace and love 1960s turned violent in West Germany, namely the protests against the visit of the Shah of Iran to West Berlin and the murder of Benno Ohnesorg in 1967: “[June 6, 1967] Blood in the Streets of West Berlin: The Shah Visit and the Shooting of Benno Ohnesorg”. Content warning for police violence in words and pictures as well as a photo of a body.

… On June 2, the Shah and his wife were due to visit West Berlin. Therefore, the student parliament of the Free University organised a panel discussion about the Iranian regime on the day before. Among those invited to speak at the meeting was Bahman Nirumand. The Iranian embassy in West Germany was incensed and demanded that the panel discussion be cancelled. However, the chancellor of the Free University refused, citing the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. This is not the first time that the Iranian government has tried to suppress criticism in West Germany, by the way. They have also repeatedly invoked a lese-majeste law dating from the days of the Second German Empire (which ended fifty years ago) in order to have unfavourable news articles retracted….

(10) ARTIST KELLY REMEMBERED. Brian Murphy offers a tribute to the late Ken Kelly at DMR Books: “Remembering Ken Kelly: Master of Light and Dark, and the Imagination”.

… I have a hard time writing about artists because their images speak so much louder and more potently than words. Just spend a minute looking at the covers of the Berkley Medallion Conans, and your tribute to Kelly’s passing is paid. Maybe you are lucky enough to have copies with the foldout posters intact. Kelly’s iconic images of Conan alone make him an S&S immortal, and of course they only scratch the surface of his epic 50 year career….

(11) LOVECRAFT: IT’S COMPLICATED. At Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein, Serbian horror author and scholar Dejan Ognjanović explains what the works of H.P. Lovecraft mean to him: “A Serbian Looks At Lovecraft”.

… In my childhood, in the early 1980s, during my initial investigations into the scarce horror fiction then available in Serbian, Lovecraft was literally unknown. Not a single story by him had been translated by my late teens, i.e. by 1989. Thus my first encounter with him was indirect – it was through the idea of Lovecraft, as re-imagined in an Italian comic series Martin Mystere, the episode “The House at the Edge of the World” (“La Casa ai confini di mundo”, 1982), which I read in the summer of 1986, when I was 13. It was love at first sight: for the first time I encountered the concept of houses haunted not by ghosts or any traditional monster, but by unnamable inter-dimensional entities; it also involved places serving as portals into non-Euclidean spaces, nameless cosmic vistas, alien temples and weird-looking gods/demons…

(12) A SWORD & SORCERY PODCAST. The Rogues in the House podcast talk about their fantasy influences:  “Sweet Nostalgia: A Nerd’s Journey”.

The Rogues are once again joined by Flame and Crimson author, Brian Murphy–this time to discuss the works of fiction most near and dear to their roguish hearts.

(13) NO MORE LICENSE TO KILL. “Seven years, 40 editions and 3117 trained witchers later,” the Witcher School live-action role-play events in Poland has shut down: “’Witcher school’ closes after CD Projekt Red pulls license over political ties” reports Indy100.

A ‘Witcher school’ located in Poland has been forced to close after its licence was abruptly pulled by the game’s publisher.

The reasons for which are currently unclear but organisers have claimed that the decision was due to a staff member’s involvement with an ultra-conservative political group, according to Eurogamer.

[CD Projekt Red pulled the license because of a staff member’s involvement with the ultra-conservative Polish Catholic organization Ordo Iuris, which is anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ+, and rejects the idea of gender equality.]

The Witcher School ran live-action role-playing (LARP) events in Poland themed around the popular videogame series with 40 editions of the event and over 3000 “Witchers” taking part.

But after 7 years, the publisher of the hit videogame seriesCD Projekt Red, officially ended the contract with the school in February 2022 with a three-month notice, effectively ending their use of The Witcher’s characters, setting and storylines.

(14) FUNERAL DIRECTOR. Nicholas Meyer talks with Ethan Alter of Yahoo! Entertainment on the death of Spock in this piece about the 40th anniversary of The Wrath of Khan. “’Wrath of Khan’ director reveals how he killed Spock in the 1982 blockbuster” at Yahoo!

It’s been forty years since Spock put the needs of the many ahead of the needs of the few — or the one — in the final moments of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. With the U.S.S. Enterprise‘s warp drive inoperable thanks to a devastating attack launched by Khan Noonien Singh (Richardo Montalban), Starfleet’s most popular Vulcan officer descends into the starship’s engine room and absorbs a lethal dose of radiation, surviving just long enough to save the day and say goodbye to his closest companion, James T. Kirk. And no matter how many times you’ve seen Wrath of Khan in the four decades since the movie’s June 4, 1982 release, Spock’s passing never fails to trigger tears, whether you’re human, Klingon… or Gorn.

The tears were certainly flowing on the Wrath of Khan set when William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy — who had been part of each other’s lives since the 1966 premiere of the original Star Trek TV series — played what was intended to be their final scene together. In his 2010 memoir, The View From the BridgeWrath of Khan director, Nicholas Meyer, described members of the crew weeping as Spock told Kirk: “I have been, and always shall be, your friend.”…

(15) WEBB TELESCOPE. Inverse tells us, “We Finally Know When The Webb Telescope’s First Color Images Will Arrive — Here’s What To Expect”

…On Sunday, July 12, the Webb team will release an unconfirmed number of full-color images based on observations by two of Webb’s four science instruments: the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI).

The Webb’s two other instruments, the Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) and the Fine Guidance Sensor/Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS/NIRISS) don’t capture photo-like images of the universe. Instead, they sort incoming light from distant objects into distinct wavelengths. Scientists can then use these data to measure the temperature and chemical makeup of those objects.

“We will release the scientific data from those observations as well — not just the color JPGs, but also the actual quantitative data — to the astronomical community,” Pontoppidan explains.

What can we expect to see in those first images and data? The Webb team is keeping specific spoilers under wraps, but they’ve offered a few (very broad) hints…

(16) NOSE FOR NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is the first trailer for Disney’s Pinocchio remake, which is not Guillermo del Toro’s version (That’s a Netflix project.)

This reminds me of the version of Pinocchio that sank Roberto Benigni’s career because he stupidly played Pinocchio instead of Geppetto.  “Call the vice squad!” warned Washington Post critic Stephen Hunter.  “It’s a 50-year-old man wearing jammies!”

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] David Sproxton and Peter Lord, creators of Aardman Animations, explain how stop-motion animation is done in this excerpt from a 1981 episode of Blue Peter.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/2/22 The Left Hand Of Pixelness

(1) NOBEL MEDAL AUCTION. Heritage Auctions is taking bids for the “Dmitry Muratov 2021 Nobel Peace Prize Medal”, being sold to benefit children and their families forced to flee Ukraine and those internally displaced since the start of the war in February. All proceeds will support UNICEF’s humanitarian response for children in Ukraine and neighboring countries.

Dmitry Muratov is the editor-in-chief of the influential Russian news outlet Novaya Gazeta. Bidding will conclude with a live auction at The Times Center in Manhattan on World Refugee Day, June 20.

“The editors of Novaya Gazeta decided it was necessary to help those in desperate need,” says Muratov, who in 1993 co-founded the Moscow-based publication that is now the last independent newspaper in Russia. “Everyone understood that we had to help, and the sale of the Nobel medal through Heritage Auctions gave us a powerful opportunity to help Ukrainian refugees. We hope that everyone around the world supports us and contributes to this movement, however they can.”

Muratov shared the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize with Filipino journalist Maria Ressa. The Norwegian Nobel Committee celebrated their “fight for freedom of expression in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.”

(2) ORIGINS AWARDS HELD OVER TO 2023. The Game Manufacturers Assocation (GAMA) told Facebook readers:

We are not having the Origins Award this year. We will be bringing them back for 2023 and will have information this fall on categories and submission process.

The awards also were not given in 2021, which prompted this comment from Jason Williams:

Can I ask then what happened to all the physical games which were entered as the awards were open for entry in 2021,(this is for game titles produced in 2020) and publishers did invest time and resources on making entries. Maybe those games which were entered need to have awards in 2023 recognized if there are enough staff available then. The fact that in 2021, submissions were accepted, but no awards were ever given, seems pretty wrong. Especially since titles are only able to be entered for the awards in the year they are published and these titles can never be considered for these awards in the future.

GAMA did not reply.

(3) JASON SANFORD. Camestros Felapton continues his series of why-you-should-vote-for each Best Fan Writer finalist with “Jason Sanford: Hugo 2022 Fanwriter Finalist”.

Jason Sanford is a fan journalist, reviewer and award-nominated novelist. He is having a busy year with two different streams of his work being recognised in 2022: he was a Nebula Award & Philip K Dick Award finalist for Best Novel with The Plague Birds and he is a Hugo Award Finalist for Best Fan writer.

As well as being a published fiction writer, Sanford is a prolific fan writer with an active interest in news and invents within fandom and genre publishing…. 

(4) NKWETI Q&A. “Nana Nkweti on Writing Cameroonian American Experiences & Crossing Genres” at Open Country.

Nana Nkweti started writing at nine years old. A sci-fi lover even then, her earliest stories saw her in future worlds, going on space adventures. Like most writers, she was a voracious reader, digging through her father’s books, the good fortune of having a home library. She read everything from fantasy to the realist classics, and began to imagine herself and girls who looked like her reflected in those stories.

It is no surprise then that the 10 stories in her collection Walking on Cowrie Shells centre Cameroonian women. The characters share her intersectional identity, as a Black woman, a hyphenated American, an ethnic African. But the stories also speak to the universal idea of people charting next steps, growing and evolving along the way.

The title “Walking on Cowrie Shells” is a play on the English idiom. She deploys it in the book to embody that sense of being in a threshold, in liminal spaces, of teetering between choices, between cultures or identities. Her characters are tentative; they are about becoming and figuring life out, who they are, who they want to be….

(5) BARRIERS TO PUBLICATION FOR AFRICAN SFF WRITERS. The If This Goes On (Don’t Panic) podcast takes up “Publishing in Africa: Publishing Platforms Or the Lack Therof with Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki”. The cohosts are Alan Bailey, Cat Rambo, Diane Morrison, and Graeme Barber.

In our 3rd audio column about publishing in Africa we chat with Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki about how Africans are being deplatformed within the publishing business. We also discuss the The Emeka Walter Dinjos Memorial Award For Disability In Speculative Fiction. As this episode was recorded before the 2022 Nebulas, we’d also like to congratulate Oghenechovwe on his award.

(6) SAULSON REPORTS ON CONVENTIONS. Sumiko Saulson reports “StokerCon 2022 was like a Black family reunion, but the struggle is far from over” at SF Bayview. Includes quotes from Craig L. Gidney, Steve Van Patten, and L.M. Wood.

…“The best part of going to cons these days is seeing the increase of diverse creators in the community. When I first started going to cons, I was one of a few folks of color. Now I’m one of many. And it feels great!

“I love that there are other Black queer creators out there – such as yourself [referring to Saulson], Kai Ashante Wilson and Marlon James. And even in that cohort, there are immense differences! For years, I wrote my fiction in isolation, collecting rejection slips like some people collect decoder rings. Now, not only is there a readership, there are other authors. It’s a great time to be publishing!” rejoiced Craig L. Gidney, author of the “Nectar of Nightmares.”

Another positive outcome for the new in-person conventions is an increase in POC representation amongst the Guests of Honor. For instance, Floyd Norman, an 86-year-old African American animator, writer, and comic book artist who was the first Black person to be a regular employee on Walt Disney’s animation staff will be the artist guest of honor at WorldCon in Chicago this year….

Saulson also covered the discussion here of SFWA’s removal of Mercedes Lackey from the Nebula Conference:

…In the wake of the incident, the power dynamics remained in play, as older, white authors have flocked to the File 770 article on the situation in defense of Mercedes Lackey, many of them citing Samuel Delaney’s personal lack of offense at the comment in their sometimes mean spirited comments about Jen Brown. Many such comments were removed from the “r/fantasy” Reddit…. 

Many comments weren’t approved for File 770, either, but speaking about the ones that were, including two welcome additions from Saulson, my goal for having that discussion was to let some in the File 770 commenting community who needed to do so alleviate their ignorance, while others came alongside to battle the excuse-makers and set proper boundaries for future discussion. I’ll point to what I said in that discussion:

Introducing the word shibboleth is an unwelcome attempt to ask white people to give intent priority over the clear statements from black people who take offense at the word. Even if Delany or Steve Barnes aren’t condemning Lackey, the status of the word is plain to see.

(7) TIME FOR A ROYAL FLUSH? [Item by Olav Rokne.] Various members of my book club and I have been jabbering away about monarchy in SFF at various points over the past several years. So when we realized that the vestigial monarch of England (and various former vassal states) was marking an arbitrary anniversary of a meaningless ceremony, Amanda and I decided was a good opportunity to talk about the various kings, tsars, emperors, etc. that populate so much SF. So we collaborated with some other folk in pulling this blog post together quickly this week. “The Tsars Like Dust” at the Hugo Book Club Blog.

…Given that there are few places that are still governed by monarchs of anything other than a vestigial variety, it might seem reasonable that few authors choose to engage critically with the consequences of the monarchies they depict. Americans under the age of 244 and British people with no recollection of what things were like before Peterloo don’t have any direct experience with just how truly awful it would be to live in a polity governed by Emperoxes. (Even if there’s a good ruler like Greyland once in a while, they end up being hamstrung by the weight of tradition.) 

Authors seeking to more accurately depict what a space empire might look like should probably look to the few modern-day examples of absolute monarchy that still exist, places like the Sultanate of Oman, the Kingdom of Eswatini, and the Kim Family Protectorate of North Korea. To put it bluntly, in the real world there is a strong correlation between the authority of monarchs, and a lack of human rights, and this is rarely depicted in science fiction….

(8) TONOPAH NEWS. The Westercon 74 in Tonopah program schedule is now online. Strangely, it seems to be in alphabetical order by title of the program item – rather than in chronological order.

The Virtual Program schedule is in chrono order.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2015 [By Cat Eldridge.] Seven years ago this evening, on what was ABC Family, the Stitchers series premiered. The premise is simple: Kirsten Clark, who has been recruited into a covert government operation is to be “stitched” with the memories of people recently deceased to investigate murders. 

It was created by Jeff Schechter who as near as I can tell had little genre background other than Strange Days at Blake Holsey High and Animorphs, but I will single him out for the very non-genre series, Transporter: The Series which was off Luc Besson’s Transporter film. 

Kirsten Clark was played by Emma Ishta. In addition, you’ll recognize two other cast members — Salli Richardson-Whitfield from Eureka who is Magritte “Maggie” Baptiste here and Allison Scagliotti of Warehouse 13 who is Camille Engelson in this series. The only other actor worth noting is Kyle Harris as Cameron Goodkin. 

Stitchers was popular enough that it made through three seasons before getting canceled. It did not accrue a lot of episodes, being treated like a British series as each series had only only ten episodes save the first that had eleven.

So did the critics like it? No, they didn’t. 

Variety’s review was typical: “About as slim as a sci-fi-inspired premise gets, ‘Stitchers’ joins a long list of series built around wide-eyed youths with an unusual skill who are recruited to join a save-the-world-type enterprise. In this case, the protagonist is a beautiful and brilliant Caltech student with temporal dysplasia, which means she doesn’t feel the passage of time. Most viewers, however, will likely feel it acutely while wading through this tired and predictable hour, which centers on a secret program that hacks into the brains of the recently deceased to solve crimes. While its heroine might not know it, skipping ‘Stitchers’ will save you time.”

Collider wasn’t any kinder: “The show’s premise thematically belongs to Syfy, and the cast is very CW, but nothing about Stitchers really comes together for ABC Family. Kirsten is described as emotionally void, and the show shares the same fate. Unfortunately, it doesn’t also happen to be brilliant to offset its other faults. The show is all over the place with its story and its tone, portraying Kirsten as a hacker, and then as a super-sleuth. Though there is some potential and humor present with its minor cast, the series pulls together elements of many other series — like CSI and Bones — without improving upon them. A missed opportunity, Stitchers is looking for signs of life, but hasn’t found them yet.” 

Eighty six percent of audience members at Rotten Tomatoes liked it. Good for them.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 2, 1921 Virginia Kidd. Literary agent, writer and editor, who worked mostly is SF and related fields. She represented R.A. Lafferty, Ursula K. Le Guin, Anne McCaffrey, Judith Merril, and Gene Wolfe. She was married to James Blish, and she published a handful of genre short fiction.  Wolfe modeled Ann Schindler, a character in Castleview, in large part on Kidd. (Died 2003.)
  • Born June 2, 1920 – Bob Madle, 102. Helped start his local sf club in 1934, went to what he considered to be the first-ever sf convention in 1936, and attended the first Worldcon (Nycon I) in 1939. Bob Madle named the Hugo Awards. He was the first North American TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate to an overseas con (Loncon, 1957). Twenty years later he was Fan Guest of Honor at the 1977 Worldcon. First Fandom has inducted him to their Hall of Fame, and given him the Moskowitz Award for collecting. He’s a winner of the Big Heart Award).  This post about his centennial birthday two years ago includes photos and a summary of his fannish life in his own words. (OGH)
  • Born June 2, 1929 Norton Juster. Author of The Phantom Tollbooth, it is said that he met Jules Feiffer who illustrates that work when he was taking his trash out. There is of course the superb film that followed. And let’s not forget The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics, a work well worth an evening spent reading. He wrote a lot of other works, none of which I recognize. (Died 2021.)
  • Born June 2, 1937 Sally Kellerman. You know she was in Star Trek as Dr. Elizabeth Dehner in “Where No Man Has Gone Before”.  But did you know she also appeared on the Twilight ZoneThe Outer LimitsLost HorizonThe InvadersThe Ray Bradbury Theater, and finally Boris and Natasha: The Movie in which she played Natasha Fatale? Quite a genre record, isn’t it? (Died 2022.)
  • Born June 2, 1941 Stacy Keach, 81. Though best known for playing hard-boiled Detective Mike Hammer, he’s got a long association with our genre starting with being The Mountain of the Cannibal God, an Italian horror film. Next up for him was Class of 1999 followed by voicing both Carl Beaumont / Voice of Phantasm in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, a film I really, really like. More horror, and a really silly title, await him in Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return where The Hollow has a tasteful title which the Man with the Screaming Brain does not provide him. Storm War, also known as Weather Wars, is SF. And then there is Sin City: A Dame to Kill which is a rather nice piece of film making. And yes, he’s been in a televised version of Macbeth playing Banquo.
  • Born June 2, 1965 Sean Stewart, 57. Fantastic author whose Galveston novel that won the World Fantasy Award I highly recommend as well as the Resurrection Man novels. I’ve not read his most recent set of novels, The Cathy’s Book series, but it’s take on augmented reality sounds intriguing.
  • Born June 2, 1979 Morena Baccarin, 43. Very long genre history starting with portraying Inara Serra in Firefly and  Serenity; Adria in the Stargate SG-1 series and the Stargate: The Ark of Truth; Anna in the 2009 version of the series V; Vanessa in the Deadpool franchise; and Dr. Leslie Thompkins in Gotham. She also did an exemplary job of voicing Black Canary in Justice League Unlimited
  • Born June 2, 1982 Jewel Staite, 40. Best known as the engineer Kaylee Frye in the Firefly verse. She was Jennifer Keller in Stargate Atlantis, Catalina in the Canadian series Space Cases, Tiara VanHorn in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show and “Becca” Fisher in Flash Forward. Genre one-offs? Oh yes: The Odyssey (twice), Are You Afraid of The Dark (again twice), The X-FilesSo WeirdSabrina: The Animated SeriesThe ImmortalSeven DaysStargate AtlantisSupernaturalLegends of TomorrowThe Order and The Magicians.

(11) DANGER ZONE. Lawyers, Guns & Money’s Robert Farley compares Pete Mitchell (from Top Gun: Maverick) to Luke Skywalker: “Pete Mitchell and Luke Skywalker”.

… As it happens, the distance between Top Gun and Top Gun: Maverick is 36 years, while the distance between Return of the Jedi and the Last Jedi is 34 years. In both films those numbers are fully realized; Hammill and Cruise each play characters with the weight of three and a half decades on their shoulders. It is perhaps worth mentioning that the mission in Top Gun: Maverick is modeled on nothing so much as Luke Skywalker trench run against the Death Star in A New Hope. I find it awfully interesting that Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and Luke “Red Five” Skywalker each returned to the screen thirty-five years after the completion of their triumphant 80s arcs. I would not have guessed that the former would have been much more favorably received than the latter, and I think it’s worth investigating why….

(12) SFWA AUCTION RESULT. The second SFWA Silent Auction brought in nearly $18,400. Over 200 items, tuckerizations, and virtual sessions were offered. The funds will go to support SFWA’s ongoing work to promote, advance, and support SFF storytelling.

(13) UNFINISHED SYMPHONY. Paul Weimer delves into “the final, and incomplete, work by a master of science fiction and fantasy” — “Microreview [book]: Aspects by John M. Ford” at Nerds of a Feather. But first he issues a warning:

…If reading incomplete books is not your cup of tea, if the fact that this story does end abruptly without resolution, then, honestly, you probably don’t need to continue on with this book review and can go, read The Dragon Waiting or something else. I admit that it poked and prodded at my brain, but I think the book and what it does, what we have of it, is worth discussing, even in an incomplete stage. Inside baseball, perhaps, but it is akin to being shown the first chapters of a book or part of a novella from a friend writer, asking for what they think of it and what works and what does not….

(14) A NICE WAY TO SPEND 100 HOURS. Joe DelFranco is gung ho about Elden Ring: “Review [Video Game]: Elden Ring by From Software” at Nerds of a Feather.

Elden Ring is a vast, seemingly endless experience, that delivers wonders and death at every turn. A hit in all spheres of the industry, loved by fans and journalists both, not just for its generous amount of content but for its ability to transport the player firmly into the Lands Between without loosening its grip for hours on end. From Software has delivered a game that lets the player go on the adventure that they wish without holding their hand, a rarity in video games nowadays; a risk that paid off….

(15) THEY AIM TO PLEASE. The Corridor Crew wants to show you have different the series would be if Stormtroopers could hit what they shoot at: “We Made Star Wars Stormtroopers Accurate”.

Jordan and Fenner set out to correct the most glaring mistake in the original Star Wars trilogy–the lack of affordable health care for the Stormtroopers.

(16) UNLIKELY HERO RETURNS. Willow is an original series streaming on Disney+ beginning November 30.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says when Dolores Umbridge shows up in the fifth Harry Potter movie, she’s “super-snotty and mean: because she interrupts Dumbledore’s annual speech on the many ways Hogwarts students can die. Also, the vision of Voldemort Harry conjures up is even more terrifying because Voldemort’s wearing a zip-up hoodie!”

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