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.]

Pixel Scroll 5/15/22 The Arc Of The Moral Universe Is Long, But It Scrolls Toward Pixels

(1) TIME IS FLEETING. The SFWA Silent Auction ends tomorrow at noon. Organizer Jason Sanford says, “In particular you and your File 770 readers might get a kick out of seeing the original Munchkin card in the auction, which I think is amazing and is shown in the press release. Also, the auction has up for bid original, first edition hardback copies of Green Hills of Earth and Revolt in 2100 by Robert A. Heinlein from the early 1950s — both of which are signed by Heinlein! I’m a little frustrated that more people haven’t noticed these two rare, signed copies of his books from the Golden Age of SF.”

Specifically, these are the links to the two books Jason pointed out: Green Hills of Earth by Robert A. Heinlein, an autographed Shasta hardcover first edition (1951; no jacket); and Revolt in 2100 by Robert A. Heinlein an autographed Shasta hardcover first edition (1953; no jacket). Both books include a chart of Heinlein’s Future History on a flyleaf.

(2) BRITISH FANTASY AWARDS SEEK NOMINATIONS. The British Fantasy Society is taking nominations for the British Fantasy Awards 2022. You can vote in the BFAs if you are any of the following: A member of the British Fantasy Society; An attendee at FantasyCon 2021; or A ticket-holder for FantasyCon 2022. The voting form is here. Voting will remain open until Sunday May 29, 2022.

Voters may list up to three titles in each category. A crowdsourced list of suggestions has been created here. You may vote for titles not on the suggestions list. Further guidance on the eligibility criteria for each category can be found here.

The four titles or names with the highest number of recommendations in each category will make the shortlist.

(3) ALERT THE MEDIA. “David Tennant and Catherine Tate returning to Doctor Who in 2023” reports Radio Times.

After plenty of rumours and red herrings, the BBC has confirmed the shock news that former Doctor Who stars David Tennant and Catherine Tate are returning to the long-running sci-fi drama, over 12 years after they originally handed in their TARDIS keys and just a week after Sex Education’s Ncuti Gatwa was announced as the new star of the series (taking over from current Doctor Jodie Whittaker).

As the time-travelling Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble, the pair presided over a popular and critically-acclaimed era for Doctor Who still fondly remembered by fans. And now, according to the BBC, they are set to reunite with screenwriter Russell T Davies to film new “scenes that are due to air in 2023”, coinciding with Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary celebrations.

…It could be that these scenes are little more than a cameo, or they could be a major comeback. For now, they’re keeping it all a bit mysterious….

(4) NEXT, THE GOOD NEWS. Yesterday’s Scroll ran an item about what was getting axed at CW. Today Variety has published “UPFRONTS 2022: The Full List of New Broadcast Series Orders”, which it will continually update. Here are examples of what different companies are planning to air next season.

KRAPOPOLIS (Fox Entertainment)

Logline: Animated comedy set in mythical ancient Greece, the series centers on a flawed family of humans, gods and monsters that tries to run one of the world’s first cities without killing each other.

QUANTUM LEAP (Universal Television)

A sequel to the original 1989-1993 time-traveling NBC fantasy drama picks up 30 years after Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished. Now a new team has been assembled to restart the project in the hopes of understanding the mysteries behind the machine and the man who created it.

GOTHAM KNIGHTS (Warner Bros. Television)

Logline: In the wake of Bruce Wayne’s murder, his rebellious adopted son forges an unlikely alliance with the children of Batman’s enemies when they are all framed for killing the Caped Crusader.

THE WINCHESTERS (Warner Bros. Television/CBS Studios)

Logline: This prequel to “Supernatural” tells the untold love story of how John and Mary Winchester met and put it all on the line to not only save their love, but the entire world.

(5) ANOTHER INTERPRETATION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Nilanjana Roy discusses feminist retellings of classic myths.

In her debut novel Kaikeyi published this month, Chicago-based writer Vaishnavi Patel dramatically reframes a story from the great Hindu epic The Ramayana, of Queen Kaikeyo who demands that her husband King Dashrath exile her stepson, the young man-god Rama. ‘I wanted to discover what might have caused a celebrated warrior and beloved queen to tear her family apart,’ Patel writes in her introduction.

Like Patel, many are interested in questioning the framing of mythical women as both villains and heroes.  Korean-American writer Axie Oh writes a less submissive protagonist into the legend of Shim Cheong in her young-adult book, The Girl Who Fell Beneath The Sea. In Oh’s version Mina, a village girl, takes the place of Shim Cheong, the dutiful daughter in the legend who sacrifices herself to the sea gods–but her role in the story is a more active one.  ‘My fate is not yours to decide,’ she says.  ‘My fate belongs to me.’

(6) GENRE STAR GILLAN WEDS. “Karen Gillan marries American boyfriend in closely guarded ceremony at castle in Argyll” – the Daily Record has the story.

Avengers star Karen Gillan has wed her American boyfriend in a closely guarded ceremony at a castle in Argyll.

The Inverness-born star tied the knot this afternoon with American comedian Nick Kocher, 36, after jetting back to Scotland for her nuptials.

Some of the A-list guests at the wedding in Castle Toward in Dunoon included fellow action star Robert Downey Jnr and Pretty Woman star Julia Roberts, who were spotted in the town earlier today.

Steven Moffat, who was executive producer of Doctor Who when Karen was Matt Smith’s Tardis companion, was also a guest for her big day.

The 34-year-old, who had kept her engagement to the Saturday Night Live scriptwriter a secret, had chartered a yacht, The Spirit of Fortitude, to take family and friends to the 3.30pm ceremony….

(7) SFF FILLS THE 1953 MAGAZINE STANDS. [Item by Mlex.] James Wallace Harris of the Auxiliary Memory blog & SF Signal, posted a bibliographic essay on the year 1953 for science fiction short stories. “The 1953 SF&F Magazine Boom” at Classics of Science Fiction.

Science fiction in 1953 spoke to a generation and it’s fascinating to think about why. The number of science fiction readers before WWII was so small that it didn’t register in pop culture. The war brought rockets, atomic bombs, computers, and nuclear power. The late 1940s brought UFOs – the flying saucer craze. The 1950s began with science fiction movies and television shows. By 1953, science fiction was a fad bigger than the hula-hoop would ever be, we just never thought of it that way. I do wonder if the fad will ever collapse, but I see no sign it will.

He also posted a related cover gallery of magazine issues from that year at the Internet Archive: “1953 SFF Magazine Covers”.

(8) READING ALOUD. Space Cowboy Books presents the 51st episode of the Simultaneous Times podcast. Stories featured in this episode:

“The Jellyfish from Nullarbor” by Eric Farrell; music by RedBlueBlackSilver; read by Jean-Paul Garnier

“Apotheosis” by Joshua Green; music by Phog Masheeen; read by Jean-Paul Garnier

Theme music by Dain Luscombe

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2006 [By Cat Eldridge.] Sixteen years on this date, one of the most unusual strips to come into existence did so in the form of Mark Tatulli’s Liō. It was very easy to market globally as it had almost no dialogue except that spoken by other people in the parodies that I’ll mention in a minute as Liō and the other characters don’t speak at all, and there were no balloons or captions at all again giving it a global appeal. 

Liō, who lives with his father and various monsters, i.e. Ishmael a giant squid and Fido a spider, various animals like Cybil a white cat (of course there’s a cat here, a very pushy feline indeed), aliens, lab creations, and even Liō’s hunchbacked assistant.  Why there’s even Archie, Liō’s psychopathic ventriloquist’s dummy. Liō’s mother is deceased. Though why she’s deceased is never stated. Definitely not your nuclear family here.

An important aspect of the strip is that will riff off other strips, and lots of them: BlondieBloom CountyCalvin and HobbesCathyGarfieldOpusPeanuts, even Pearls Before Swine (not one of my favorite strips I will readily admit) will become fodder for parody by this strip.  That’s where the only dialogue is spoken. 

Currently  the strip which runs daily globally in more than two hundred and fifty papers. 

Tatulli on the Mr. Media podcast back a decade or so said “It’s really a basic concept. It’s just Liō who lives with his father, and that’s basically it, and whatever I come up with. I set no parameters because I didn’t want to lock myself in. I mean, having no dialogue means that there is going to be no dialogue-driven gags, so I have to leave myself as open as possible to any kind of thing, so anything basically can happen.” 

There a transcript of that podcast here as the audio quality of that interview is, as the interviewer admits, rather awful. He got better after that first interview by him. 

In multiple interviews, Tatulli has said the two major contemporary influences on his style are Gahan Wilson and Charles Addams.

And yes, it’s still in existence and offending people as this strip from late last year will demonstrate.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 15, 1856 L. Frank Baum. I adore The Wizard of Oz film and I’m betting you know that it only covers about half of the novel which is a very splendid read indeed. I’ll confess that I never read the numerous latter volumes in the Oz franchise, nor have I read anything else by him. Nor have I seen any of the later adaptations of the Oz fiction. What’s the rest of his fiction like?  There is, by the way, an amazing amount of fanfic out here involving Oz and some of it is slash which is a really, really scary idea. (Died 1919.)
  • Born May 15, 1877 William Bowen. His most notable work was The Old Tobacco Shop, a fantasy novel that was one runner-up for the inaugural Newbery Medal in 1922. He also had a long running children’s series with a young girl named Merrimeg whom a narrator told her adventures with all sorts of folkloric beings. (Died 1937.)
  • Born May 15, 1926 Anthony Shaffer. His genre screenplays were Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy and Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man. Though definitely not genre, he wrote the screenplays for a number of most excellent mysteries including the Agatha Christie-based  Evil Under the Sun,Death on the Nile, and Murder on the Orient Express. (Died 2001.)
  • Born May 15, 1948 Brian Eno, 74. Worth noting if only for A Multimedia Album Based on the Complete Text of Robert Sheckley’s In a Land of Clear Colors, though all of his albums have a vague SF feeling  to them such as Music for Civic Recovery CentreJanuary 07003: Bell Studies for the Clock of  The Long Now and Everything That Happens Will Happen Today which could be the name of Culture mind ships. Huh. I wonder if his music will show up in the proposed Culture series?
  • Born May 15, 1955 Lee Horsley, 67. A performer who’s spent a lot of his career in genre undertakings starting with The Sword and the Sorcerer (and its 2010 sequel Tales of an Ancient Empire), horror films Nightmare ManThe Corpse Had a Familiar Face and Dismembered and even a bit of SF in Showdown at Area 51. Not sure where The Face of Fear falls as it has a cop with psychic powers and a serial killer.
  • Born May 15, 1960 Rob Bowman, 62. Producer of such series as Alien NationM.A.N.T.I.S.Quantum LeapNext Generation, and The X-Files. He has directed these films: The X-FilesReign of Fire and Elektra. He directed one or several episodes of far too many genres series to list here.  
  • Born May 15, 1966 Greg Wise, 56. I’m including him solely for being in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. It is a film-within-a-film, featuring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing themselves as egotistical actors during the making of a screen adaptation of Laurence Sterne’s 18th century metafictional novel Tristram Shandy. Not genre (maybe) but damn fun. 
  • Born May 15, 1971 Samantha Hunt, 51. If you read nothing else by her, do read The Invention of Everything,  a might be look at the last days in the life of Nikola Tesla. It’s mostly set within the New Yorker Hotel, a great concept. I’m avoiding spoilers naturally. She’s written two other genre novels, Mr. Splitfoot and The Seas, plus a handful of stories. 

(11) BUILDING THE GENRE BRICK BY BRICK. “Lego’s next batch of official unofficial sets go on sale May 17th, and you’ll want to be quick” The Verge tells collectors. (This is the link to the sale: Designer Program 2021 Invitational at BrickLink.) The quotes below were written by the designers.

…A from-the-ground-up rebuild of the original “Bulwark” gunship design of the Space Troopers project, the spaceship you see here is chock full of the developments of a decade’s worth of building, yet remains sturdy and with a chunky simplicity that reminds me of what I’d have loved to play with as a boy. From the rear’s double cargo doors ready to discharge rovers, troops, or scientists on an expedition, to the inner hatch and gunner’s console with its cramped ladder allowing access to the cockpit, the hold is packed with scenes ripe for customization and exploration. Crew bunks and a tiny galley round out the hull, and the off-center cockpit rises up between a sensor array and two massive engines that can rotate up or down for flight.

The sliding cargo doors aren’t just there for show; a sturdy mechanism just behind the wings allows you to attach the two included modules or design your own, dropping them off on some distant planet or opening the doors to allow for use in-flight. Two crimson hardsuits in the classic Space Troopers red are more than just my concession to the strictures of the brick—they’re my homage to the classic sci-fi writers whose tales of adventure on far-off planets and dropships swooping from the sky have shaped my life. Deploying on two rails from a module that locks into place in the dropship’s rear, the suits are chunky, bedecked with pistons and thrusters, and, most importantly, fit a minifigure snugly inside to allow for armored adventures….

…I think around this time I also watched some The Big Bang Theory episodes. During one of these nights I “designed” an observatory made from LEGO bricks in my mind. I really love science and space, and I have never seen an observatory as an official LEGO set. That’s when I thought about building an observatory in real bricks. But I didn’t want to use an IP because that would only be interesting for people who has a connection to the place. I wanted to create a playable observatory that has a unique design. I imagined a building on the top of a mountain and what it would look like. And that’s why I called it “Mountain View.”…

…The Steam Powered Science (previously known as the Exploratorium) is a Steam-Punk themed research facility whose mission is to delve into the mysteries of the universe. One half of the facility is dedicated to researching celestial motion while the other is dedicated to traversing the ocean’s depths. The set was designed as part of the Flight Works Series, a group of Steam-Punk themed submissions on LEGO Ideas….

(12) CHARGE IT! Are Colin Kuskie and Phil Nichols really going to advocate for that most controversial of critics’ notions? To find out you will need to listen to episode 17 of Science Fiction 101, “Canon to the left of me, canon to the right”.

Colin and Phil return, buoyed by the news that Science Fiction 101 has risen to number 6 in Feedspot’s league table of Best UK Sci-Fi Podcasts!

Our main discussion topic the contentious issue of the “canon” of science fiction, triggered by a blog post by Dr Shaun Duke. We also have a movie quiz, and the usual round-up of past/present/future SF.

(13) STRANGE NEW TREK PARAPHERNALIA. TrekCore is pleased to report that after a long wait “QMx Finally Beams Down USS ENTERPRISE Delta Badges”.

More than three years after their initial announcement, QMx has finally brought their Star Trek: Discovery-era USS Enterprise Starfleet delta badges into Earth orbit — just in time for the debut of Captain Pike’s own series, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

Originally announced all the way back in February 2019, the metal Starfleet badges were showcased at that year’s Toy Fair expo in New York City… only to shuffle off the horizon, as they’d gone “on hold” by the early part of the next year (as a QMx representative told us at Toy Fair 2020), likely waiting for the then-in-the-works Captain Pike series to be announced to the public….

(14) INGENUITY BEGINNING TO AGE OUT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter on Mars showed its first sign of approaching old age when it failed to wake on time to “phone home.” After far outlasting its planned life, the approach of winter with shorter days and more dust in the air is beginning to play havoc with its ability to keep a charge on its batteries overnight. “Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Went Silent, Leaving Anxious NASA Team in the Dark” at Gizmodo.

Late last week, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter managed to reestablish its connection with the Perseverance rover following a brief communications disruption. The space agency says the looming winter is likely responsible and is making adjustments as a result.

On Thursday, Ingenuity—mercifully—sent a signal to Perseverance after the intrepid helicopter missed a scheduled communications session. It marked the first time since the pair landed together on Mars in February 2021 that Ingenuity has missed an appointment, according to NASA.

The team behind the mission believes that Ingenuity had entered into a low-power state to conserve energy, and it did so in response to the charge of its six lithium-ion batteries dropping below a critical threshold. This was likely due to the approaching winter, when more dust appears in the Martian atmosphere and the temperatures get colder. The dust blocks the amount of sunlight that reaches the helicopter’s solar array, which charges its batteries….

(15) BABY TALK. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Baby Yoda showed up on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” to promote Obi-Wan Kenobi and discuss his questionable new friends.  But don’t ask him about Baby Groot or he’ll get really angry! “Baby Yoda on His Spiritual Awakening”.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/1/22 They Say Everyone Has A Pixel Scroll Tile Inside Them

(1) LESSING’S LETTERS. [Item by Jeffrey Smith.] In between her biographies of Alice Sheldon/James Tiptree and the in-progress one of Ursula Le Guin, Julie Phillips has written a study of motherhood and creativity, The Baby on the Fire Escape. Slate has published this excerpt on Doris Lessing. “Doris Lessing and motherhood: Why the novelist left her first two kids.”

… Yet is also occurs to her that the problem is structural, and possibly generational. Her English grandmother had had a nanny, and her grandchildren, she predicted, would have affordable day care. It was her contemporaries who were so disappointed: promised career success, stuck with babies. “I haven’t yet met a woman who isn’t bitterly rebellious,” she wrote, “wanting children, but resenting them because of the way we are cribbed cabined and confined.”

I found her in the letters not trying to get away from John and Jean, but arguing to spend more time with them, an uphill battle against her first husband. The problem was that under Rhodesian law, a woman who left her marriage lost all rights to her children. At the time of the letters, Wisdom was just starting to allow her to visit them again, after a full year in which he had kept them from her….

(2) STEVE VERTLIEB MEDICAL UPDATE. A Facebook friend of Steve Vertlieb’s reports that Steve made it through his heart operation. Good news!

(3) NEBULA CONFERENCE SCHOLARSHIPS: TIME IS RUNNING OUT. Only a few hours remain for people to apply for 2022 Nebula Scholarships – the deadline is May 1, 11:59 p.m. Pacific.

SFWA will once again be offering up to 200 scholarships for members of underserved communities to attend the conference! If you or someone you know may benefit from these scholarships, please apply or share the link. Scholarship applications must be completed on the form below by May 1, 11:59pm Pacific Time.  

Here are the categories of scholarships we’re offering and the number available for each. 

Scholarship for Black and/or Indigenous Creators: This scholarship is open to Black and/or Indigenous creators in the United States and abroad. (quantity: 80)

Scholarship for AAPI Creators: This scholarship is available to Asian creators, Asian American creators, and creators from the Pacific Islands. (quantity: 30)

Scholarships for Hispanic/Latinx Creators: This scholarship is available to creators with backgrounds in Spanish-speaking and/or Latin American cultures. (quantity: 40)  

Scholarship for Writers Based Outside of the U.S.: This scholarship is available to creators who live outside the United States. (quantity: 50)

Scholarship for Ukrainian Creators: This scholarship is for creators displaced or otherwise affected by the war in Ukraine. (quantity: case-by-case)

From the applicant pool, the scholarship recipients will be selected by lottery.

(4) SFRA ONLINE CONFERENCE. The Science Fiction Research Association is registering people for its online SFRA 2022 Conference. The theme is “Futures From The Margins.”

There is no cost to attend the conference, and you need not be an SFRA member to attend. Register here.

(5) IAFA ONLINE CONFERENCE. The International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts will hold an online conference — “The Global Fantastic” – from October 7-9, 2022. The Call for Papers is at the link.

The Guest of Honor is Tananarive Due, the winner of the American Book Award for The Living Blood (2001). The Guest Scholar is Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay (University of Oslo), an internationally recognized scholar of global fantastic and the leader of the prestigious European Research Council grant “CoFutures: Pathways to Possible Presents.”

(6) IMPERIAL VISION. Jason Sanford contends Mikhail Yuriev’s The Third Empire: Russia As It Ought to Be is “The Science Fiction Novel that Inspired Putin’s War” in an unlocked Patreon post.

One aspect of the horrific Russian invasion of Ukraine that hasn’t received much attention is how a science fiction novel appears to have heavily influenced Vladimir Putin’s decision to start this war….

(7) NEW DHS APPOINTEE TARGETED. [Item by Karl-Johan Norén.] Nina Jankowicz, who recently was selected to head the new Disinformation Governance Board within the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS Standing Up Disinformation Governance Board Led by Information Warfare Expert”) has become a target for online trolls. Her background as a wizard rocker in the band The Moaning Myrtles (2006-2009, with a short reunion in 2017) was dug up, and it has been used in a smear and doxxing campaign against her.

Short background: Wizard rock developed as the musical branch of Harry Potter fandom. A lot of the bands used and uses the schtick of presenting themselves and singing from the viewpoint of one of the characters in the Harry Potter stories. The Moaning Myrtles used the ghost of Moaning Myrtle and her toilet in a very creative way within that tradition.

The band was made up of Lauren Fairweather and Nina Jankowicz.

(8) FELINE FELICITY. Michael Steinberg notes “A Few Points of Philosophical Interest Learned by Watching Our Cats: Part I” at The Philosophical Salon.

…What goes on “inside” Oliver’s mind? What is it like to be our cat? Those two moments in our everyday interactions seem to map out two opposing possibilities. When he nuzzles me and settles between my legs it is hard not to see Oliver as a being imbued with a rich emotional life and the awareness that comes with those feelings. William James saw emotions as intuitions of bodily states, and as Mark Solms points out, they would be useless unless they were experienced. But when Oliver springs into action he seems to be identical with his acts, living in a pure responsiveness without reflexive awareness.

These happen to be the only two possibilities that Descartes could imagine. He argued that humans were ensouled, self-aware beings capable of both thought and the passions, but “beasts” were merely animate bodies. …

(9) MEMORY LANE.

[By Cat Eldridge.] Robert Heinlein’s Rocket Ship Galileo: A Fan Letter (1947)

Seventy-five years ago this year, one of my favorite Robert Heinlein novels came out. Rocket Ship Galileo, the first of the Heinlein juveniles, a long and successful series that was published by Scribner’s. Heinlein originally envisioned the novel as the first of a series of books called “Young Rocket Engineers”. 

Now it almost didn’t exist as a novel. Publishers, all save one, rejected the idea, judging that going to the moon was “too far out” in the late Forties, as Heinlein tells the tale in the paperback edition of Expanded Universe. Fortunately Scribner’s decided differently and we got to read the story.

I loved this novel, as I did all of the juveniles he did, for both the characters and the settings appealed to the young me. Without doubt the novels I remember the fondest all these decades on are first Rolling Stones, which I still find absolutely fascinating, followed by Space CadetHave Space Suit—Will Travel and Starman Jones

I still think that these juveniles are his finest writing. Indeed I can even make a rather great argument that Rolling Stones is his best novel.  I know it didn’t win a Hugo (although it was eligible for the first ones, having been published after August 1952) but damn it, it was the funnest to read of all his novels by far and that as to count for a lot, doesn’t it? 

It is available as a Meredith moment from the usual suspects. Spider Robinson narrates the audio version. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 1, 1905 Edna Mayne Hull. Wife of A.E. van Vogt who began writing genre fiction after their marriage in 1939. Her initial sale, “The Flight That Failed”, appeared in the November 1942 issue of Astounding Science Fiction under chosen author credit of “E.M. Hull” though eventually she used her own name. She has but one novel of her own, Planets for Sale, and one with her husband, The Winged Man, and only a dozen stories, one with A.E. Van Vogt & James H. Schmitz. Alibris.com has copies of both of those books, no else does.  (Died 1975.)
  • Born May 1, 1923 Ralph Senensky, 99. Director of six Trek episodes including “Obsession” and “Is There in Truth No Beauty?“ which are two of my favorite episodes. He also directed episodes of The Wild Wild WestMission: ImpossibleThe Twilight Zone (“Printer’s Devil”), Night Gallery and Planet of the Apes.
  • Born May 1, 1924 Terry Southern. Screenwriter and author of greatest interest for adaptating Peter George’s original novel, Two Hours to Doom (as by Peter Bryant) into the screenplay of Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, a movie directed (and in part written) by Stanley Kubrick. He was also involved in scripting Barbarella. Though uncredited, he did work on the script of Casino Royale as well. (Died 1995.)
  • Born May 1, 1946 Joanna Lumley, 76. She was no Emma Peel, but she was definitely more than a bit appealing (pun fully intended) in the New Avengers as Purdey. All twenty-six episodes are out on DVD. Her next genre outing was In Sapphire & Steel which starred David McCallum as Steel and her as Sapphire. If you skip forward nearly near twenty years, you’ll  find her playing the The Thirteenth Doctor in The Curse of Fatal Death, part of a Comic Relief special. Yes, she played the first version of a female Thirteenth Doctor. 
  • Born May 1, 1952 Andy Sawyer, 70. Member of fandom who managed the Science Fiction Foundation library in Liverpool for 25 years up to last year. For his work and commitment to the SF community, the Science Fiction Research Association awarded him their Thomas D. Clareson Award for Distinguished Service. The paper he wrote that I want to get and read is “The Shadows out of Time: H. P. Lovecraftian Echoes in Babylon 5” as I’ve always thought The Shadows were Lovecraftian!  And his APA list is impressive: &Another Earth Matrix, Paperback Inferno and Acnestis
  • Born May 1, 1955 J. R. Pournelle, 67. Some years ago, I got an email from a J. R. Pournelle about an SF novel they wanted Green Man to review. I of course thought it was that Pournelle. No, it was his daughter, Jennifer. And that’s how I came to find out there was a third Motie novel called, errrr, Moties. It’s much better than The Gripping Hand. I have no idea where you can get it and my copy alas disappeared when that MacBook died a fatal death several years back. I don’t see listed anywhere at the usual suspects. 
  • Born May 1, 1956 Phil Foglio, 66. Writer, artist, and publisher. Foglio co-won with his wife Kaja the first Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story at Anticipation for the absolutely stunning Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones, and the next two in the category at Aussiecon 4 and Renovation. Having won these three years running, they removed themselves from further competition.  If you haven’t read them, you’re in for treat as they’re quite amazing.
  • Born May 1, 1957 Steve Meretzky, 65. He co-designed the early Eighties version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy video game with the full participation of Douglas Adams. ESF also says that he also did a space opera themed game, Planetfall and its sequel A Mind Forever Voyaging in the Eighties. He did the definitely more erotic Leather Goddesses of Phobos as well. Well, erotic by the standards of the Eighties. 

(11) HE LIKES THEM. Dennis Hartley decided against making big claims for this list – they are just “favorites” – “Any world (that I’m welcome to): 10 Sci-fi favorites” at Digby’s Hullaballoo.

I thought I’d paw through the “sci-fi” section of my collection and share ten of my favorites. Keep in mind that these are personal favorites; I was careful not to title the post “Top 10 Sci-fi Movies of All Time” (there is no more surefire way to spark a virtual bare-knuckled fracas). Anyway, here are 10 off-world adventures awaiting you now…

On the list is –

The Day the Earth Caught Fire– This cerebral mix of conspiracy a-go-go and sci-fi (from 1961) was written and directed by Val Guest. Simultaneous nuclear testing by the U.S. and Soviets triggers an alarmingly rapid shift in the Earth’s climate. As London’s weather turns more tropical by the hour, a Daily Express reporter (Peter Stenning) begins to suspect that the British government is not being 100% forthcoming on the possible fate of the world. Along the way, Stenning has some steamy scenes with his love interest (sexy Janet Munro). The film is more noteworthy for its smart, snappy patter than its run-of-the-mill special effects, but delivers a compelling narrative. Co-starring veteran scene-stealer Leo McKern.

(12) BRING FORTH THE HOLY HAND GRENADE OF JERUSALEM. Business Insider reports an interesting discovery: “Jerusalem: Archeologists Find Evidence of Crusader Hand Grenades”.

…Sherd 737, according to the archeologists, contained traces of a unique explosive mix composed of plant oils, animal fats, nitrates, and sulfur. It suggests that Crusader knights had invented their own blend of explosive chemicals.

“It shows that the explosive weapons described by the Crusaders were a local invention,” said Carney Matheson, a molecular archaeologist at Griffith University, in an email to Insider.

“This shows for the first time a whole different mixture for the ingredients of an ancient explosive which is consistent with the historical Arab texts,” Matheson continued….

(13) MARTIAN HOPPER. Yahoo! made me click: “NASA’s Mars helicopter discovers ‘alien’ wreckage on the Red Planet”. Image at the link.

…In this case, though, humans are the aliens. The wreckage was found to be from another Martian spacecraft; it is a part that detached during the landing of the Perseverance rover back in February 2021.

The photos of the wreckage, while fascinating on their own merit, will actually help scientists plan more landings on the surface of Mars in the future.

According to NASA, Martian landings are “fast-paced and stressful”. A vehicle entering Mars’ atmosphere can spiral into the planet at nearly 12,500 mph and wrestle with high temperatures and intense gravitational forces. Being able to study the wreckage that remains might allow scientists to make changes that allow for smoother landings in the future….

(14) THEY MADE A FEW MISTAKES. Indy100 tells how “Doctor Strange viewers spot four mistakes in just 13 seconds of new movie” – just like Filers do with the Scroll! Here’s the first example.

The next Marvel extravaganza, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness isn’t even in cinemas yet but fans have already spotted a litany of mistakes in a short teaser scene released online this week.

A clip from the mind-bending new superhero film, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen, was exclusively released by IMBD earlier this week and shows the Sorcerer Supreme battling the creature known as Gargantos on a New York City street.

The clip is just over a minute long and although it is fun, in the typical Marvel way, eagle-eyed viewers have spotted a huge error in the director, Sam Raimi’s film.

If you concentrate on Cumberbatch, you notice a man carrying a briefcase running past him in terror, trying to get away from Gargantos. However, that man doesn’t just run past Cumberbatch once but runs past him four times.

(15) LINE UP, SIGN UP, AND REENLIST TODAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I think this is a recruiting video for ILM that shows all the opportunities people have at the company to use their creativity.  It dropped earlier this week. “Inside ILM: To be a Generalist”.

At Industrial Light & Magic, Generalists possess a high degree of proficiency across multiple disciplines including modeling, lighting, texturing, shading/look development, FX, matte painting, animation, shot composition, and rendering. Take a deep dive into what makes the team unique, then head to jobs.jobvite.com/lucascompanies/jobs/ilm to apply today.

(16) TEASER FOR MAY THE FOURTH. “Apple Teases Star Wars-Themed ‘Behind the Mac’ Film Featuring Skywalker Sound”MacRumors has the story.

Apple today released a brief teaser trailer for an upcoming “Behind the Mac” film featuring Skywalker Sound, the sound effects division of Lucasfilm known for the Star Wars franchise and many other high-profile movies.

The full film will be released on Apple’s YouTube channel on May 4, Star Wars Day, and will examine how artists at Skywalker Sound use Macs and other tools to generate the sounds featured in the iconic films.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cliff, Cora Buhlert, Jason Sanford, Chris Barkley, Karl-Johan Norén, Jeffrey Smith, Alan Baumler, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cliff.]

Pixel Scroll 2/19/22 I Am NOT Pixel Number Six

(1) COLUMBIA COLLEGE REACTS TO ALLEGATIONS AGAINST WELLER. Columbia College Chicago has announced that faculty member and Bradbury biographer Sam Weller, accused by a former colleague of sexual assault, will ‘step away’ from teaching during Columbia investigation.

A Columbia faculty member publicly accused of sexual assault by a former colleague at the college has agreed to “step away” from the classroom while the college investigates the claims. 

In an article published on Medium Feb. 12, Cara Dehnert, a former associate professor of instruction in the Business and Entrepreneurship Department, accused Sam Weller, associate professor in the English and Creative Writing Department, of sexually assaulting her in his office on March 25, 2018. 

…Dehnert said she received no communication from Human Resources after her meeting with them in 2020, and as of Feb. 18 has not heard from the college following the publication of her article.

In a Feb. 15 statement, Lambrini Lukidis, associate vice president of Strategic Communications and External Relations, said the college was investigating the allegations against Weller. 

“Columbia College Chicago is aware of recent new allegations of potential criminal behavior and misconduct, which the College is investigating,” the statement said. “All reports of crimes and misconduct are taken seriously, investigated by the College and forwarded to local law enforcement if necessary.”  

Over the course of the past week, Dehnert’s post was shared on various social media platforms, via email and in the Columbia Engage app. As word of the accusation spread, calls for accountability and for Weller’s removal from the classroom grew. A petition titled “Hold Sam Weller accountable” was posted Wednesday on Change.org, and as of Friday evening had garnered more than 2,600 signatures. 

In a Feb. 16 interview, Madhurima Chakraborty, president of the Faculty Senate and associate chair of the English and Creative Writing Department, said she wanted more transparency from the college. 

“I want there to be clarity around accountability,” Chakraborty said. “I want there to be a clear understanding of what it is that we should be able to expect from our workplaces and the place where we study.” 

A statement from Lukidis to the Chronicle on Feb. 18 said Weller and the college “have agreed he will step away from his classes pending the outcome of the investigation.”  

Students enrolled in Weller’s classes received an email Friday afternoon from Pegeen Reichert Powell, chair of the English and Creative Writing Department, informing them that Weller’s classes would be taught by a substitute “for the time being.”…  

A local Chicago TV news devoted two minutes to the story, strangely failing to identify the accused person but interviewing the accuser on camera: “Columbia College Professor to ‘Step Away’ From Teaching Amid Sexual Assault Probe” at NBC Chicago.

Cara Dehnert Huffman has learned she’s not the only one, as she told Facebook readers yesterday.

… Since then, I’ve been contacted by five other women and counting who shared similar experience. Except all of them were students at the time.

I don’t know why Columbia College Chicago didn’t act when Sam’s behavior was reported by someone else in 2017. I don’t know why (it appears) that CCC did not act when I reported in 2020.

I’ve said all along that my only goal is to help people moving forward. But as I read and listen to heart wrenching tale after tale, all of which are too similar to mine and all of which done by the hands of Sam, I’ve reconsidered my position.

The pattern is clear. Sam’s abuse and manipulation go back as early as 2008. 2008!!!! …

(2) SOMETHING PROS WONDER ABOUT. Lincoln Michel asks, “Do blurbs work?” and answers: Maybe, but yes if Stephen King blurbs your first novel: “Do Blurbs Actually Work?”

… Yes, sometimes. I myself have bought books thanks to blurbs now and then. Recently, I was browsing a translated literature table and saw The Houseguest by Amparo Dávila. I’d never heard of the author, but the book had blurbs from Carmen Maria Machado and Julio Cortázar so I thought, hell, let’s give this author a try! I’m glad I did.

Whenever blurb discourse heats up, plenty of readers say blurbs are a factor. So yes, they can sell books.

At the same time, yes, it is perhaps true that blurbs are rarely the deciding factor….

(3) GET READY. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki pointed Facebook readers to the cover and table of contents release for Bridging Worlds: Global Conversations on Creating Pan-African Speculative Literature In A Pandemic at Jembefola, which will be released as a free download there on February 21.

…It will feature 18 non-fiction pieces by 19 creatives You can check out the TOC  here.

Our amazing cover was done by Dare Segun Falowo. The book itself will be free to download in all formats, following and due to the events inspired by Amazon KDP’s bad behaviour….

… 2020 was a landmark year in the lives of speculative fiction writers trying to both survive and create in the pandemic-lockdown breakout year. It was especially difficult for Black people, and Africans on the continent and in the diaspora.

The Bridging Worlds anthology examines those difficulties and how Black people and African writers navigated them. Even though we had myriad experiences in the different worlds we inhabit, we were nonetheless plagued by well, the same plague, no pun intended.

Bridging Worlds seeks to explore the threads and lines that connect us as we navigated this singular yet multifaceted experience, and show that connection in the various non-fiction pieces written in the diverse styles and forms the authors chose….

(4) WRAPPED. George R.R. Martin gave Not a Blog readers a progress report on House of the Dragon.

Exciting news out of London — I am informed that shooting has WRAPPED for the first season of HOUSE OF THE DRAGON.

Yes, all ten episodes.   I have seen rough cuts of a few of them, and I’m loving them.  Of course, a lot more work needs to be done.   Special effects, color timing, score, all the post production work.

But the writing, the directing, the acting all look terrific.   I hope you will like them as much as I do…. 

HBO/HBO Max chief content officer Casey Bloys was asked by Variety when the show will air.

…While Bloys could not tell Variety when “House of the Dragon” might premiere, he did confirm that it’s likely the show sticks around for more than just one season.

“If you’re betting on whether we’re going to do a second season, I think it’s probably a pretty good bet,” Bloys said. “Generally speaking, we usually let something air and see how it does, but obviously, we’ll make preparations ahead of time to make sure we’re ahead of the game.”…

(5) SFF MAGAZINE TRENDS AND INSIGHTS. Jason Sanford has published the “Genre Grapevine SF/F Magazines Survey Results” in a free Patreon post. He notes, “It turns out the results before the pandemic match up pretty close to the results in 2022. I also included a ton of the comments people shared as they completed the survey. Some fascinating stuff in those comments.”

At the end of 2019 I released the special report #SFF2020: The State of Genre Magazines, which examined the history of genre magazines along with the issues facing today’s magazines and podcasts. The report also included interviews with the editors, publishers, and staff of a number of leading SF/F magazines and podcasts.

I intended to follow that report with an examination of the attitudes of people in the science fiction and fantasy community towards their genre’s magazines and podcasts. I completed a survey on this topic in December 2019 and intended to combine the survey results with more interviews and research.

If all went well, the report would have been released in February 2020.

Of course, all did not go well. The global COVID pandemic shut the world down and swept my own personal life. I didn’t have the time to complete the report.

A few weeks ago I looked over the 2019 survey results and realized they presented an opportunity to see if the pandemic had changed attitudes among people in the SF/F community toward genre magazines and podcasts. I re-ran the same survey and compared the results….

(6) MYSTERIES REVEALED. Editor Laura Stadler tweeted a thread inviting readers to better understand what editors do. However, it’s in German, and if Twitter’s translations are not up to your standards, by all means, don’t click! Personally, I found it helpful. Thread starts here. The translation of the first tweet says —

Twitter, let’s talk about what editors do? And why am I, as an editor, not an absolute enemy of authors and why do you really not have to be afraid of me and my work on your texts?

(7) RETURN TO WONDERLAND. Literary Hub’s Erin Morgenstern shares the experience of rereading Carroll’s story for Alice in “How Lewis Carroll Built a World Where Nothing Needs to Make Sense”.

… Every time I read the books, I am struck by something that hadn’t captured my attention the same way in previous readings. On this most recent re-reading, I noticed anew how often Alice interferes with pencils belonging to other characters, and I was particularly caught by the question of what does the flame of a candle look like after the candle is blown out? There are treasures to be found in these pages, glimmering, whether it is your first time reading, or fifth, or fiftieth.

No matter how familiar these stories may be, that white rabbit might lead you somewhere unexpected, if only you will follow….

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1960 [Item by Cat Eldridge]

The time is the day after tomorrow. The place: a far corner of the universe. A cast of characters: three men lost amongst the stars. Three men sharing the common urgency of all men lost. They’re looking for home. And in a moment, they’ll find home; not a home that is a place to be seen, but a strange unexplainable experience to be felt. — opening narration

On this date sixty two years ago, The Twilight Zone’s “Elegy” aired for this first time. It was the twentieth episode of the first season and was written by Charles Beaumont who you might recognize as the screenwriter of 7 Faces of Dr. Lao. Beaumont would die at just thirty-eight of unknown causes that were assumed to be neurological in nature. 

The cast for this SF Twilight Zone episode was Cecil Kellaway as Jeremy Wickwire, Jeff Morrow as Kurt Meyers, Kevin Hagen as Captain James Webber and Don Dubbins as Peter Kirby. 

This episode was based on his short story “Elegy” published in Imagination, February 1953. It was included in Mass for Mixed Voices: The Selected Short Fiction of Charles Beaumont.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 19, 1912 Walter Gillings. UK fan of some note. He edited Scientifiction, a short lived but historic fanzine. Shortly thereafter he edited Tales of Wonder, regarded as the first UK SF zine. Clarke made his pro debut here. He’d edit a number of other genre zines later on, and ISFDB lists him as having two genre stories to his credit whereas Wiki claims he has three. (Died 1979.)
  • Born February 19, 1915 Fred Freiberger. He’s best remembered as  the producer of the third and final season of Star Trek. He was also involved in the Wild Wild West, the second season of Space: 1999 which he’s wholly responsible for and the short-lived Beyond Westworld. He was brought unto Trek after Roddenberry resigned as Showrunner. (Died 2003.)
  • Born February 19, 1937 Terry Carr. Well known and loved fan, author, editor, and writing instructor. I usually don’t list Awards both won and nominated for but his are damned impressed so I will. He was nominated five times for Hugos for Best Fanzine (1959–1961, 1967–1968), winning in 1959, was nominated three times for Best Fan Writer (1971–1973), winning in 1973, and he was Fan Guest of Honor at ConFederation in 1986. Wow.  He worked at Ace Books before going freelance where he edited an original story anthology series called Universe, and The Best Science Fiction of the Year anthologies that ran from 1972 until his early death in 1987. Back to Awards again. He was nominated for the Hugo for Best Editor thirteen times (1973–1975, 1977–1979, 1981–1987), winning twice (1985 and 1987). His win in 1985 was the first time a freelance editor had won. Wow indeed. Novelist as well. Just three novels but all are still in print today though I don’t think his collections are and none of his anthologies seem to be currently either. A final note. An original anthology of science fiction, Terry’s Universe, was published the year after his death with all proceeds went to his widow. (Died 1987.) 
  • Born February 19, 1937 Lee Harding, 83. He was among the founding members of the Melbourne Science Fiction Club along with Bertram Chandler. He won Ditmar Awards for Dancing Gerontius and Fallen Spaceman. In the Oughts, the Australian Science Fiction Foundation would give him the Chandler Award in gratitude for his life’s work. It does not appear that any of his work is available from the usual digital sources. 
  • Born February 19, 1964 Jonathan Lethem, 58. His first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music, a weird mix of SF and detective fiction, is fantastic in more ways that I can detail here. I confess that I lost track of him after that novel so I’d be interested in hearing what y’all think of his later genre work particularly his latest, The Arrest. His only major Award win was a World Fantasy Award for The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye collection. 
  • Born February 19, 1966 Claude Lalumière, 56. I met him once here in Portland. Author, book reviewer and has edited numerous anthologies. Amazing writer of short dark fantasy stories collected in three volumes so far, Objects of WorshipThe Door to Lost Pages and Nocturnes and Other Nocturnes. Tachyon published his latest anthology, Super Stories of Heroes & Villains
  • Born February 19, 1968 Benicio del Toro, 54. Originally cast as Khan in that Trek film but unable to perform the role as he was committed to another film. (And yes, I think he would’ve made a better Khan.)  He’s been The Collector in the Marvel film franchise, Lawrence Talbot in the 2010 remake of The Wolfman, and codebreaker DJ in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  Let’s not forget that he was in Big Top Pee-wee as Duke, the Dog-Faced Boy followed by being in Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as Dr. Gonzo which damn well should count as genre even if it isn’t. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side sympathizes with a famous writer.
  • xkcd explains the tractor beam – in its own idiocyncratic way.

(11) QUEEN TO QUEEN SEVEN. Paul Weimer returns to A Green Man Review with an assessment of “Greta Kelly’s The Seventh Queen

When last we left Askia, things had gone so very wrong for her. Her efforts to protect her people, her lost kingdom had been completely dashed, and she has been captured. Now, at the heart of the power of her enemy, and nearly completely denuded of her powers, Askia has to find new ways and techniques to resist and oppose Radovan, and not incidentally, save her own life. For it is certain that, like his previous captives and victims, Radovan will, within a month, kill her, and take and distribute her power as he did his previous Empresses.

The Seventh Queen continues the story from Kelly’s debut novel The Frozen Queen.

(12) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to brunch with Natalie Luhrs in episode 165 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

My guest for brunch at the Unconventional Diner — about which Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema wrote — when he placed the restaurant at #4 on his Fall dining guide last year — “No restaurant fed me more often, or better, throughout the pandemic than French chef David Deshaies’s whimsical tribute to American comfort food.” — was two-time Hugo Award finalist Natalie Luhrs.

She’s the former science fiction and fantasy reviewer for Romantic Times Book Reviews and was briefly an acquisitions editor for Masque Books, the digital imprint of Prime. Though she dabbles in writing speculative fiction and poetry, she is mostly known for her non-fiction — which earned her those nominations — and can be found at her personal blog, Pretty Terrible, the intersectional geek blog, The Bias, which she co-founded with previous guest of this podcast Annalee Flower Horne, and of course, on Twitter, as @eilatanReads.

We discussed why I had a more optimistic outlook on her chances of winning last year than she did, the emotions which inspired her most recently nominated work and the doxxing that resulted from her offering up that opinion, her love for Dune even as she recognizes the classic novel’s problematic parts, what she once said about the Lord Peter Wimsey continuations which caused a backlash, the ways romance and science fiction conventions differ, where she chooses to expend her spoons when controversies arise, the importance of making our shared fannish community a welcoming space for all, recent science fiction novels which blew her mind, and much more.

Natalie Luhrs

(13) A YEAR OF ROVING. NASA interviewed Mars 2020 team members on the occasion of Perseverance’s Landiversary.

It’s been one busy year for NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover! Join us in the Mars Yard at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as we celebrate the one-year anniversary of the robotic explorer’s historic Mars landing. We’ll be chatting with members of the Mars 2020 team who helped make the moment happen, and they’ll tell us what’s next for the rover.

(14) NUMBER NINE, NUMBER NINE. BBC Culture’s Nicholas Barber is not ready to concede to Plan 9 From Outer Space: “Is this the worst film ever made?”

…Among cinephiles who enjoyed bad films as much as good ones, Plan 9 from Outer Space became known as the one movie you had to watch, and watch again, and tell your friends (or enemies) to watch, too. Xavier Mendik, co-editor of The Cult Film Reader, says that it “remains a key template for judging cult film status”. Its fans wrote unofficial sequels and mounted stage adaptations. Jerry and his buddies aim to watch it in an episode of Seinfeld from 1991. And in 1994, Tim Burton’s biopic of Ed Wood climaxes with the making of the film. “This is the one,” beams Wood (Johnny Depp) at its premiere. “This is the one they’ll remember me for”.

… And here’s the third key to its strange charm: it isn’t actually a failure in every respect. Don’t get me wrong. Plan 9 from Outer Space is a terrible film. A dreadful film. An atrocious film. But it does have some elements that are halfway decent, and it’s unlikely that it would have a cult following without them…

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] A family of excited Star Wars fans have turned up at a new exhibition on the construction of the Millennium Falcon months before it opens.

 A life-size prop of the spaceship was built in Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire, in 1979 for the Empire Strikes Back, which was filmed in Elstree.

And news of a permanent exhibition there, due to open in April, pushed some fans to make the jump to hyperspace prematurely.

Mark Williams, who works for the Pembroke Dock Heritage Trust, said one family had “jumped the gun a little bit” amid a flurry of calls, emails and social media posts from fans.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/12/22 To Scroll The Invisible Pixel

(1) TAKE SANFORD’S SFF MAGAZINE SURVEY. Jason Sanford is running a new survey about how people view SFF genre magazines, described in his twitter thread about the survey. Sanford originally did a survey at the end of 2019 about people’s views on SFF magazines (also shared on File770). “I’d planned to release those results in the first quarter of 2020 but the COVID pandemic intervened. But having those pre-pandemic survey results allows me to run an identical copy of the survey right now and see if people’s views of SFF magazines changed over the last two years.”

Here’s the survey link at Google Docs

(2) AURORA AWARDS TIMELINE. Members of the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association have until midnight tonight (Eastern time) to add genre works to the Aurora Awards eligibility list that were done by Canadians in 2021.

On Saturday, February 19, they will open up the nomination forms so CSFFA members can select up to five different works in each of the categories to be on this year’s final Aurora Award ballot.  Nominations will be open for five weeks – closing on March 26 at 11:59 pm Eastern.  

(3) PROFIT IN ITS OWN LAND. The Guardian finds that entering public domain takes an unexpected toll on popular classics: “The Great Gapsby? How modern editions of classics lost the plot”.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” It is one of the most memorable literary payoffs in history, the end of F Scott Fitzgerald’s defining novel of the 20th centuryThe Great Gatsby.

Yet this famous ending will be lost to many readers thanks to the proliferation of substandard editions, one of which loses the last three pages and instead finishes tantalisingly halfway through a paragraph.

…In his study, to be published next month in the F Scott Fitzgerald Review, West contrasts the focus on accuracy of Fitzgerald’s publisher, Scribner, with today’s “textual instability incarnate”.

He pored over 34 new print editions released in the past year, from established and independent publishers and some that list neither the place nor publisher, although there are further digital ones: “Six are competently done, but the rest are rather careless, done just to pick up a slice of the yearly sales. While it was still in copyright, Scribner’s sold about half a million copies a year, which is remarkable for a backlist title.”

To his dismay, 17 editions dropped Fitzgerald’s dedication to his wife, Zelda: “Her name has been erased – a serious problem … because she was Fitzgerald’s muse. She was partly the inspiration for Daisy Buchanan.”

(4) A LONG GOODBYE. Jesse Walker shares a few quick thoughts about a new anthology in “Dangerous Visions and New Worlds” in Reason.

…The best thing about Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950–1985, an uneven but often incisive anthology of essays from PM Press, is that it covers the New Wave moment without limiting itself to the New Wave movement. The most talented New Wave writers are covered here—there are essays on J.G. Ballard, Octavia Butler, Barry Malzberg, and others—but so are TV tie-ins and porny paperbacks, showing how such ideas seeped through society…

(5) NOMMO SHORTLISTED WRITERS Q&A. The British Science Fiction Association and the Nommos Awards will hold a virtual event in March – date to be announced.

Last year the BSFA has funded 5 Nommo shortlisted writers  to virtually attend Worldcon, Discon 3. This March (date to be confirmed) we are holding a Q&A panel, based on the questions submitted by our readers. We are looking forward to receiving your questions on our facebook and twitter, or on a special email for the event: bsfa.nommo@gmail.com

Here is the list of participants in our Q&A.

Nana Akosua Hanson and Francis Y Brown (AnimaxFYB Studios)

Winners of the 2021 Nommo Award for best comic writer and best comic artist. All ten chapters of the winning comic are available here.

Nihkil Singh

Short-listed for the 2017 Illube Nommo Award for Taty went West and for 2021 Ilube Nommo Award for Club Ded.

His story ‘Malware Park’ is available here.

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki

The winner of the 2019 Nommo Award for Best Short Story and the 2021 Nommo Award for best novella for Ife-Iyoku: The Tale of Imadeyunuagbon, available in Dominion An Anthology of Speculative Fiction From Africa and the African Diaspora, edited by Zelda Knight and Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki. ‘The Witching Hour’ won the Nommo award for best short story in 2019. Here is another story of his, ‘The Mannequin Challenge

Stephen Embleton

His novel Soul Searching was shortlisted for the 2021 Ilube-Nommo Award.  We offer our readers a chance to read an extract from it. His speculative fiction available to read online includes “Land of Light” – Imagine Africa 500 speculative fiction anthology (2015) 

Tlotlo Tsamaase

shared the 2021 Nommo Award with Innocent Chizaram Ilo.

Her winning story ‘Behind Our Irises’ was part of Brittle Paper’s anthology Africanfuturism edited by Wole Talabi is available to read here. Her most recent fiction is “Dreamports” and “District to Cervix – The Time  Before We Were Born” 

Tochi Onyebuchi

won the 2018 Ilube-Nommo Award for his novel Beasts Made of Night

His novella Riot Baby was shortlisted for this year’s Nommo Award, and won in its category the Fiyah Award. A free excerpt is available here. His novel Goliath is expected in January of this year.  A free excerpt is available here.

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1999 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Twenty-three years ago, the film remake of the My Favorite Martian series premiered. It was directed by Donald Petrie as written by Sherri Stoner and Deanna Oliver, both had been writers on the Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs.

It has a good cast including Jeff Daniels, Christopher Lloyd, Elizabeth Hurley, Daryl Hannah, Wallace Shawn, Christine, Ebersole and Wayne Knight.  Ray Walston even showed up as Armitan/Neenert, a long ago-stranded Martian who has been masquerading as a government operative for years.

Some critics did like it, some didn’t.  As Robert Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times put it “The movie is clever in its visuals, labored in its audios, and noisy enough to entertain kids up to a certain age. What age? Low double digits.”  But Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times stated “Walston displays a crisp wit and blithe sense of whimsy otherwise lacking in this loser.”

What it didn’t make is money. On a budget of sixty-five million, it only made thirty-seven million. And it only gets a thirty percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes among audience reviewers.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 12, 1920 Louis Russell Chauvenet. Member of First Fandom, and a founder of the Boston’s Stranger Club which ran the first Boskones.  He’s credited with coining the term “fanzine” and may have also coined “prozine” as well. He published a number of zines from the later Thirties to the early Sixties. (Died 2003.)
  • Born February 12, 1929 Donald Kingsbury, 93. He’s written three novels (Courtship RiteThe Moon Goddess and the Son and Psychohistorical Crisis) that could be akin to the Asimov’s Foundation novels. Clute at EOSF says that the Asimov estate explicitly refused him permission to set Psychohistorical Crisis in the Foundation universe.  Now there’s a story there, isn’t there? 
  • Born February 12, 1933 Juanita Ruth Coulson, 89. She’s best known for her Children of the Stars series. She was a longtime co-editor of the Yandro fanzine with her husband, Buck, and she’s a filker of quite some renown. Yandro won the Best Fanzine Hugo at Loncon II in 1965. 
  • Born February 12, 1942 Terry Bisson, 80. I’m very fond of “Bears Discover Fire” which won a Hugo at Chicon V. And yes, it won a Nebula and a Sturgeon as well.  Some may like his novels but I’m really in love with his short fiction which why I’m recommending three collection he’s done, Bears Discover Fire and Other Stories, In the Upper Room and Other Likely Stories and TVA Baby and Other Stories.
  • Born February 12, 1945 Maud Adams, 77. Best remembered for being two different Bond girls, first for being in The Man with the Golden Gun where she was Andrea Anders, and as the title character in Octopussy. She shows up a few years later uncredited in a third Bond film, A View to Kill, as A Woman in Fisherman’s Wharf Crowd. 
  • Born February 12, 1945 Gareth Daniel Thomas. His best-known genre role was as of Roj Blake on Blake’s 7 for the first two series of that British show. He also had a minor role in Quatermass and the Pit, and had one-offs in The AvengersStar MaidensHammer House of Horror, The Adventures Of Sherlock HolmesTales of the UnexpectedRandall & Hopkirk (Deceased) and Torchwood. (Died 2016.)
  • Born February 12, 1954 Stu Shiffman. To quote Mike in his post, he was “The renowned fan artist, who generously shared his talents in fanzines, apas and convention publications, received the Best Fan Artist Hugo Award in 1990 and the Rotsler Award in 2010.” You can read Mikes’ gracious full post on him here. (Died 2014.)
  • Born February 12, 1960 Laura Miller, 62. Author of an essay whose title tickles me to the end: “It’s Philip Dick’s World, We Only Live In It“. Originally appearing in the New York Times, 24 November 2002, it was reprinted in PKD Otaku, #9 which you can download here.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) WHO DREW? First Fandom Experience shows its detective chops and connections as they seek out the creator of this Thirties-vintage “Mysterious Early Fan Art”.

… Regarding the style of the piece, we believe it’s directly inspired by the work of Frank R. Paul — most specifically, this piece from Amazing Stories Quarterly, v1n1, Winter 1928, illustrating “The Moon of Doom” by Earl L. Bell….

(10) THAT’S NOT GIBBERISH, THAT’S SFF. Got to love this. Phil Jamesson “reading the first page of any sci-fi novel”. [Via Boing Boing.]

(11) BAKULA TO THE FUTURE. Will Scott Bakula be involved? Movieweb rounds up “Everything We Know About the Quantum Leap Reboot”.

…In Quantum Leap’s case, details of the new series are still sketchy, but it is believed that the premise will make the new series a continuation rather than a full reboot. Set in the same universe as the original, the new series will feature a new team of scientists resurrecting the Quantum Leap project, and attempting to find out what happened to Sam, whose fate was famously left up in the air by the original’s ambiguous finale….

(12) JWST TAKES SELFIE. “NASA beams back unexpected selfie of the Webb telescope from 1 million miles away” – see the image at Mashable.

We thought we’d never see the giant James Webb Space Telescope ever again.

The space observatory has traveled to its distant cosmic outpost, nearly a million miles from Earth. It doesn’t carry any surveillance cameras dedicated to monitoring the instrument as it traveled through space and unfurled. They were too complicated, and risky, to add.

But NASA still found a way to take a (somewhat coarse and eerie) selfie.

The space agency used an auxiliary lens on its powerful Near-Infrared Camera, or NIRCam, which will peer at some of the earliest stars and galaxies that formed in the universe, over 13.5 billion years ago.

“This special lens is meant for engineering, not science, and allows NIRCam to capture an ‘inward-looking’ image of the primary mirror,” NASA tweeted. “This image helps us to check that the telescope is aligned with the science instruments.”…

(13) YOUR NOTHING IN THE WAY STATION. This Budweiser Super Bowl commercial uses a lot of sf-style effects. But if that’s not enough reason to view it, you can get a head start by skipping it now!

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Rob Thornton, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki Hears from Amazon; GoFundMe Is Successful

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki

The GoFundMe launched after Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki reported Amazon KDP shut down his account and took his royalties raised $5,568 in one day. In the meantime, his author page and books have since been restored on Amazon.com.

Jason Sanford, who organized the fundraiser said in an update:

Thanks again to everyone who donated to support Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki! We have wrapped up the fundraising campaign. The science fiction and fantasy genre has some amazing people in our fandom, as proved by this campaign funding in less than 24 hours.

Because the campaign was successful, Ekpeki will soon release both the Kindle edition of the Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction anthology and the Bridging Worlds anthology for free download. He’ll also be sharing more info on his dealings with Amazon during all this.

As Amazon proved in their horrible dealings with Ekpeki, it is far too easy for companies to cut the access authors, editors and SF/F fans around the world need to fully take part in our genre. No company should have a monopoly on who can be a SF/F lover and fan!

Sanford’s comments are also available in a Twitter thread here

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki says he received a phone call from someone at Amazon who saw his social media campaign and that this is the explanation he was given about the shutdown:

Update on Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki and His Amazon Account

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki’s Amazon author page is live again and his books are for sale there, however, he reports that the royalties in his account have not yet been restored.

This development occurred after Jason Sanford had launched a “Fundraiser for Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki” at GoFundMe. Sanford says:

The GoFundMe has raised $3,926 of its $5,000 goal as of this writing. Sanford gave this summary of events at the time it was launched:

Amazon recently shut down the publishing account of Nigerian author and editor Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki for supposed violations of their terms and conditions. Amazon refused to say what exactly the violations were and also insisted they would keep the over $2,000 in royalties from the sales of Ekpeki’s books, including The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction anthology.

The money lost through this meant Ekpeki was unable to pay a number of authors for publishing their work, and was also out his costs for both this anthology and the upcoming Bridging Worlds non-fiction anthology, which could/will no longer be released through Amazon..

Once funding is achieved, Ekpeki will release both the Kindle edition of the Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction anthology and the entire Bridging Worlds anthology for free download. The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction is the first ever year’s best anthology focusing on African speculative fiction and contains works from 29 Black and African writers of speculative fiction from both Africa and the diaspora.

2022 Philip K. Dick Award Nominees Announced

The six works nominated for the 2022 Philip K. Dick Award were announced by the judges and the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, along with the Philip K. Dick Trust on January 11.

  • Defekt by Nino Cipri (Tordotcom Publishing)
  • Plague Birds by Jason Sanford (Apex Book Company)
  • Bug by Giacomo Sartori, translated by Frederika Randall (Restless Books)
  • Far From the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson (Orbit)
  • The Escapement by Lavie Tidhar (Tachyon Publications)
  • Dead Space by Kali Wallace (Berkley Books)

First prize and any special citations will be announced on Friday, April 15, 2022 at Norwescon 44. Plans for the ceremony will be posted here when they are available.

The Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually with the support of the Philip K. Dick Trust for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States during the previous calendar year.

The award is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the Philip K. Dick Trust and the award ceremony is sponsored by the Northwest Science Fiction Society.? ?

The judges are John P. Murphy, Kelly Robson, David Sandner, Allen Steele, and Molly Tanzer (Chair).

Last year’s winner was Road Out Of Winter by Alison Stine (Mira) with a special citation to The Book Of Koli by M. R. Carey (Orbit).

Pixel Scroll 12/31/21 I Have No Idea What This Pixel Scroll Title Is Alluding To. Help!

(1) THE UPPER CRUST. Abigail Nussbaum, who read 86 books this year, says these are the best — “2021, A Year in Reading: Best Books of the Year” at Asking the Wrong Questions.

Under Honorable Mentions —

The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson – My review of this novel was decidedly mixed and frustrated, and as I wrote there, I found the actual experience of reading it rather challenging. But as I come to close out the year, I can’t help but appreciate this effort, perhaps the first novel to not only address climate change but imagine how we might go about dealing with it, and what will be required to accomplish this. It’s not a perfect novel, but it might be a necessary one.

(2) ATOP MOUNT TO BE VIEWED. Abigail Nussbaum did a separate “Best TV of 2021” post for Lawyers, Guns & Money.

…I take two lessons from the state of the TV medium in 2021. The first is that this was the year that taught us the difference between “expensive” and “good”. So many shows came out the gate this year with stratospheric production values, huge names before and behind the camera, and stunning locations, but still felt as if little or no thought was given to creating coherent, satisfying stories. The Disney+ MCU shows are exhibit A of this phenomenon: five very different shows with unbelievable budgets and star-studded casts, none of which quite managed to stick the landing. But other streamers fell into the same trap. Apple TV+ produced an eight-episode adaptation of The Mosquito Coast that shot in the desert on the US-Mexican border and in picturesque locations in California and Mexico, but apparently no one involved considered that audiences might be put off if the central family didn’t even reach the Mosquito Coast until the season finale. Netflix poured millions upon millions of dollars into comic books adaptations like Sweet Tooth and Jupiter’s Legacy, while seeming to have skimped on the scripts. (To be fair, Jupiter’s Legacy also looked like ass; I really hope there was some serious money-laundering going on because otherwise I just can’t explain it.)

(3) CIRCLING THE SQUARE. It’ll be a big deal again in Times Square tonight. Daily Kos explains the tradition: “Why do we drop a ball on New Year’s Eve? It once saved lives, but now it’s just fun”.

… But why a giant ball?  Where did this come from?

The short answer is that it’s inspired by other giant balls whose function was to indicate time.  I say “was”, because the purpose of a “time ball” is now pragmatically obsolete, and almost all of these are gone.  But one of the very earliest time balls, atop the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, has been dropped each and every day since 1833.  It is raised halfway up its post a few minutes prior, to give notice, and then it is dropped at exactly the stroke of 1 P.M.  Bongggg!

(4) CALMING THE DISCOURSE. [Item by Olav Rokne.] In an excellent, free Patreon post, Hugo-finalist fan writer Jason Sanford examines the troubling trend of targeted harassment campaigns against creators and pundits within the SFF genre, and asks how we as a community can do better. “Genre Grapevine on SF/F Abuse and Harassment Campaigns”.

…I’ve been on the receiving end of these mass harassment and abuse campaigns. When you’re subjected to harassment and abuse your world compresses to a single, painful point, like a black hole that traps you against your will. Nothing you say or do makes a difference. People can tell you the harassment and abuse is unjustified and that you did nothing wrong. But none of that matters.

Because in the end you are merely a convenient target for people who are deliberately refusing to see you as human….

(5) SAWYER Q&A. Host Mary Ito, previously with the CBC and TVOntario, interviews Robert J. Sawyer for The CRAM Podcast ~ Extraordinary Ideas Unleashed.

We all wonder about our future – post pandemic. And it’s something sci-fi writer Robert Sawyer thinks about a lot. His writing has captivated audiences with explorations of alternate worlds. Hear what one of Canada’s most fascinating big thinkers has to say about OUR world, and the transformation it’s undergoing. His audio series “The Downloaded” about a metaphorical post pandemic world will be available Fall 2022 on Audible. Robert Sawyer’s most recent book is “The Oppenheimer Alternative.”

(6) FREE TAFF BOOK. Ah! Sweet Laney! The Writings of a Great Big Man is the latest addition to TAFF’s library of free downloads. The reissue of Robert Lichtman’s and Pat Virzis’s compilation of Francis T. Laney’s other fanwriting (i.e. not Ah! Sweet Idiocy!) That will be a very familiar name if you happen to have just read about 1940s LASFS in Bixelstrasse. The collection is available in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they also hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund. 

Though best remembered for his infamous 1948 memoir and polemic Ah! Sweet Idiocy! (also in the TAFF ebook library), Francis Towner Laney also published much other notable work in his own and others’ fanzines. In addition to a generous helping of Laney’s best writing other than Ah! Sweet Idiocy!, it includes a new introduction by Robert Lichtman and memoirs of “FTL” by Robert Bloch, Charles Burbee, Terry Carr and Jack Speer.

This first ebook edition is produced with the kind permission of Robert Lichtman and the welcome support of Pat Virzi, who provided the text in PDF format, now also available at Bill Burns’s eFanzines.com. The PDF download button above gives this 10Mb PDF (with all print layout, artwork, photographs etc) rather than the usual quick-and-dirty conversion from ebook format.

(7) SLF NEEDS GRANT JURORS. The Speculative Literature Foundation announced on Facebook they need jurors to read applications for the A.C. Bose Grant.

Ideally, we’re looking for people who are well read in science fiction, fantasy and horror, but we’d also like a mix of readers, writers, librarians, teachers, editors, etc. who are capable of judging literary quality in a work. The honorarium is $25.

Please note: We’d love to have South Asian and South Asian diaspora jurors for the AC Bose Grant, but it’s not a requirement.

Please contact Catherine (catherine@speculativeliterature.org) for more information.

(8) NEW ZEALAND AWARD TAKING NOMINATIONS. SFFANZ News declares “Nominations for the 2022 Sir Julius Vogel awards Open”. Guidelines at the link.

Sir Julius Vogel Award nominations for the 2021 calendar year are now open. The nomination period will close at 11:59pm on 31st March 2022. The SJV awards recognise excellence in science fiction, fantasy, or horror works created by New Zealanders and New Zealand residents, and first published or released in the 2021 calendar year. Anyone can make a nomination and it is free!

(9) TANGLED WEBS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This Spider-Man blooper reel dropped two days ago.  I thought what was most interesting was how much of the Spider-Man:  No Way Home sets were real and what was CGI.

(10) BETTY WHITE. Actress Betty White died today, a few weeks short of her hundredth birthday. The New York Times obituary is here: “Betty White, a TV Fixture for Seven Decades, Is Dead at 99”. Although White performed a vast number of roles in her long career, only a few were genre. She was a Woman in Window encountered by the Dynamic Duo in Return to the Batcave (2003). She did voice work in several animated Christmas movies, and also on the Hercules TV series (1999), The Simpsons (as herself, 2007), The Lorax (2012), SpongeBob SquarePants (2016), and as a toy tiger named Bitey White in Toy Story 4.

Betty White, who created two of the most memorable characters in sitcom history, the nymphomaniacal Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and the sweet but dim Rose Nylund on “The Golden Girls” — and who capped her long career with a comeback that included a triumphant appearance as the host of “Saturday Night Live” at the age of 88 — died on Friday. She was 99.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1931 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Ninety years ago, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a horror film directed by Rouben Mamoulian premiered. The screenplay was by Samuel Hoffenstein and Percy Heath. It starred Starring Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins and Rose Hobart. It was a box office success making on piece three million on a budget of a million dollars. Critics loved it, and March won the award for Best Actor, sharing the award with Wallace Beery for The Champ. It has a most excellent eighty percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 31, 1937 Anthony Hopkins, 84. I think one of his most impressive roles was as Richard in The Lion in Winter but we can’t even call that genre adjacent, can we? Well, we can as it’s alternate history. He was, during that period, also King Claudius in Hamlet. I’ll say playing Ian McCandless in Freejack is his true genre role, and being Professor Abraham Van Helsing in Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a plum of a genre role. It’s a better role that he as Odin has the MCU film franchise. What else to note? What have I missed that I should note? 
  • Born December 31, 1943 Ben Kingsley, 78. Speaking of Kipling, he voiced Bagherra in the live action adaptation that Disney did of The Jungle Book. He was also in Iron Man 3 as Trevor Slattery, a casting not well received. He’s The Hood in Thunderbirds (directed by Frakes btw), Charles Hatton in A Sound of Thunder and Merenkahre in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, the third of three great popcorn films. 
  • Born December 31, 1945 Connie Willis, 76. She has won eleven Hugo Awards and seven Nebula Awards for her work, a feat that impresses even me! Of her works, I’m most pleased by To Say Nothing of the DogDoomsday Book and Bellwether, an offbeat novel look at chaos theory. I’ve not read enough of her shorter work to give an informed opinion of it, so do tell me what’s good there. She’s very well stocked at the usual suspects and a number of her works qualify as Meredith moments. 
  • Born December 31, 1949 Ellen Datlow, 72. Let’s start this Birthday note by saying I own a complete set of The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror which yes, I know it was titled The Year’s Best Fantasy for the first year. And I still read stories from them from time to time.  If that was all she had done, she’d have been one of our all-time anthologists but she also, again with Terri Windling, did the Fairy Tale and Mythic Fiction series, both of which I highly recommend. On her own, she has the ongoing Best Horror of Year, now a decade old, and the Tor.com anthologies which I’ve not read but I assume collect the fiction from the site.  Speaking of Tor.com, she’s an editor there, something she’s also done at Nightmare MagazineOmni, the hard copy magazine and online, Sci Fiction webzine and Subterranean Magazine. And yes, she won a number of Hugos for her editing including one this year which she richly deserved. 
  • Born December 31, 1953 Jane Badler, 68. I first encountered her on the Australian-produced Mission Impossible where she played Shannon Reed for the two seasons of that superb series. She’s apparently best known as Diana, the main antagonist on V, but I never saw any of that series being overseas at the time. She shows up in the classic Fantasy IslandSir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, Bitch, Popcorn & Blood and Virtual Revolution.
  • Born December 31, 1958 Bebe Neuwirth, 63. Ok she’s had but one television SF credit to her name which is playing a character named Lanel in the “First Contact” episode of the Next Gen series during season four, but I found a delightful genre credential for her. From April 2010 to December 2011, she was Morticia Addams in the Broadway production of The Addams Family musical! The show itself was ongoing up until the Pandemic started. 
  • Born December 31, 1959 Val Kilmer, 62. Lead role in Batman Forever where I thought he did a decent job, Madmartigan in Willow, Montgomery in The Island of Dr. Moreau, voiced both Moses and God in The Prince of Egypt, uncredited role as El Cabillo in George and the Dragon and voiced KITT in the not terribly well-conceived reboot of Knight Rider. Best role? Ahhh that’d be Doc Holliday in Tombstone. Nope, not even genre adjacent but I really, really love that film. 

(13) JOINING GENRES. Clarion West will be offering a free online discussion – “Fantastic Intersections: Speculative Fiction and Romance” — on January 29, 2022, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Pacific. The participants will be Zen Cho, S. A. (Austin) Chant, C. L. Polk, KJ Charles, and L. Penelope, moderated by Rashida J. Smith. Register at the link.

From the sublime and magical to the stirring and steamy, storylines centering BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ characters are flourishing in the romance and speculative genres. We’ll tackle the nuance of building romance into the plot vs. romance as the plot, the role of the HEA or HFN in representation, and the future of the fantastic in romance.

(14) GAME WITH A STRONG STORY. Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag broke her usual pattern by buying this game on release day and it worked out well: “Video Game Review – Ruined King: A League of Legends Story” at Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog.

…The story drove me on, because I wanted to read it all and find out what really happened. There is a central mystery to it – the opening cinematic sets it up beautifully. Why did the Blessed Isles fall? What is the Harrowing? You get some solid answers by the end. It’s like reading a novel while playing it as well. It was an experience I very much enjoyed. In addition to the main story there were the individual tales of each of our six main characters as well as bits of lore featuring dozens of other characters, some related and some not, that you just find as you explore the world….

(15) THE ENVELOPE, PLEASE. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt and Michael Cavna rank the 12 best performances by actors in superhero movies, including nine from the MCU and three from the DCEU. “Of ‘Spider-Man,’ ‘Shang-Chi’ and ‘The Suicide Squad’: The year’s top 12 performances from superhero titles”.

… Anchoring the success of these films were the layered human performances amid all the green-screen effects. Here are a dozen actors who especially delivered depth within their superhero universes…

4. Margot Robbie (‘The Suicide Squad’)

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in 2021’s “The Suicide Squad.” (Warner Bros./Everett Collection)

Playing the relentlessly resourceful Harley Quinn,Robbie is reliably the most electric presence in DC’s sprawling team-up movies, dropping coy one-liners with as much force as her violent blows. She again steals entire scenes in James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad,” and with each own-the-screen DC outing, including “Birds of Prey,” she proves that her radiant Harley could carry solo movies in between the “Suicide” squadfests.

(16) WITH SHARP, POINTY TEETH. [Item by Michael Toman.] Have to wonder what, say, Dylan Thomas, (“A Bright Child From Wales!”) would have done with this Late-Breaking Holiday News Update. “Bloodthirsty, ‘Psycho’ Squirrel Attacks 18 in Small Town Christmas Rampage” reports Newsweek. Will there be a movie from some of the Folks at The Asylum, the ones who gifted us with the “Sharknado Franchise?” Or maybe this needs to become an Uncuddly, Unwarm, Unfuzzy Picture Book? “What a world, what a world!”

A Welsh town is being held in the grip of fear by a most unusual source, a grey squirrel that is attacking residents.

Wales Online reported that the serial squirrel has indiscriminately attacked pensioners, pets, and children, jumping at people taking out the garbage, and been chasing after people down streets as they flee.

(17) DIANA GALLAGHER VIDEOS. Fanac.org’s Edie Stern introduces these Eighties recordings of Diana Gallagher singing filksongs.  

Diana Gallagher is now known primarily for her science fiction media novels. However, especially early in her fannish career, she also impressed as a filk songwriter/performer, and a fan artist. She received several Pegasus Awards, as well as the 1988 Fan Artist Hugo Award. As her songs often show, Diana was also an avid supporter of the space program. She passed away in December 2021.

This recording was made in our living room in the early 1980s. At that time, she was a member of the local science fiction group, and an avid filker. She was our friend. This recording is excerpted from a longer filk recording, and features her performances of five songs (of which 4 were written by her). Many thanks to our Filk Consultant, Eli Goldberg and to our Sound Editor, Luke Bretscher for their help with this recording.

Here are links to all five videos — 1. Planetbound Lovers (0:05) 2. Following (2:52) 3. Free Fall (5:23) 4. Starsong (7:30) 5. Mary O’Meara (10:12)

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers:  Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl,” Fandom Games says this Nickleodeon smash compilation is meant for gamers who ask, “Say, what would happen if Garfield fought SpongeBob?” and that Nickelodeon is basically a network for “not so nuanced sex jokes and covering kids in sludge.”

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

Pixel Scroll 10/22/21 I Must Not Scroll, Scroll Is The Pixel-Killer

(1) MCINTYRE FILM ADAPTATION COMING TO THEATERS. Moviegoers at last will be able to see the film based on the late Vonda McIntyre’s 1997 Nebula-winning novel The Moon and the Sun: “A Fantasy Blockbuster Shot In 2014 Is Finally Being Released” reports Looper. It arrives in theaters in January.

The Moon and The Sun actors Kaya Scodelario and Pierce Brosnan.

… However, one fantasy blockbuster’s release problems predate the worldwide pandemic by over half a decade. It’s a film that has been mysteriously missing ever since its production finished in 2014. That film was originally known as “The Moon and the Sun,” before it dropped off the radar ahead of its planned 2015 release date. The vanishing movie is based on the 1997 Nebula Award-winning novel of the same name by Vonda N. McIntyre (via Deadline). The family-friendly fantasy epic features Pierce Bronson in a lead role, and — had the film arrived on schedule — it would have been the realization of nearly two decades worth of effort to get the story to the big screen.

Obviously, “The Moon and the Sun” didn’t make its release date and lost the attention of both the media and moviegoers as it went into a lengthy post-production limbo. However, it seems that the film, which has been rebranded and renamed, is finally ready for a wide release and will be headed to theaters in early 2022. Here is everything fans need to know about “The King’s Daughter,” and why they’ve had to wait nearly six years to finally see it….

McIntyre got to see production shooting in France (“Vonda Visits Versailles”). A print reportedly was shown during her GoH slot at Sasquan in 2015.

(2) SAND THROUGH THE HOURGLASS. Alissa Wilkinson dissects “Dune’s expansive, enduring appeal” at Vox.

Harkonnens. Messiahs. Deadly, insect-like hunter-seekers. A secretive all-women order of spies, nuns, scientists, and theologians that’s bending history to its will. A spice harvested from an arid desert that enables space travel. ’Thopters. Interstellar war. Giant sand worms.

The world of Dune is a wild one, a tale spun by Frank Herbert in the tumultuous 1960s that mixes fear of authoritarian rule and environmental collapse with fascism, racism, and hallucinatory imagery. The 1965 novel, which eventually garnered widespread acclaim, was followed by a universe of sequels for its rabidly devoted fans. The trappings of its imagined, distant-future world feel wondrous, unfamiliar, and strange.

Or they would, if we hadn’t been steeped in Dune fever for so many years, even prior to the recent arrival of Denis Villeneuve’s extraordinary and resolutely abstruse film adaptation. Even the most Dune-averse person can hardly avoid the long tail of Herbert’s saga, whether they realize it or not.

The story has been referenced by pop stars like Lady Gaga, who made a sly nod to Dune in the “Telephone” music video, and Grimes, whose debut studio album, Geidi Primes, is a concept album based on Dune. Fatboy Slim’s song “Weapon of Choice,” the one with the music video starring Christopher Walken, is one big reference to the book (“Walk without rhythm / It won’t attract the worm”). Video games like Fallout and World of Warcraft contain references to Dune, as do plenty of TV shows from Scooby-Doo to Rick & Morty to SpongeBob SquarePants. There’s a crater on the moon officially named Dune, and some of the features on Saturn’s moon Titan have been named for planets from the series….

(3) A HOUSE DIVIDED. In the Washington Post, Michael Dirda offers his assessment of the book and film of DUNE and recalls his meeting with Frank Herbert in 1984. “’Dune’ has long divided the science fiction world. The new film won’t change that.”

… Unlike “Star Wars,” though, Villeneuve’s “Dune” isn’t a sparky, upbeat space opera. It’s more like a Wagnerian music-drama, a somber story built around intimations of doom and orchestrated with a soundtrack of pounding drums and high-pitched wailings and ululations. It is, however, packed with eye-popping visual spectacle, notably speedy little aircraft that resemble mechanical dragonflies and enormous space cruisers as sleek as any on the cover of an old issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories. Like Herbert’s book, the film is also deliberately majestic in its pacing and virtually without humor. Life is real, life is earnest and nobody has much fun. Instead, characters nobly pontificate or murmur gnomically about whether the young hero, Paul Atreides, is or isn’t the Kwisatz Haderach, the promised warrior prophet who will lead the tough and fiercely independent Fremen to victory over their brutal oppressors. Their cruelest enemy, the consummately evil Baron Harkonnen, symbolically dwells in darkness, surrounding himself with swirling smoke and completely hairless attendants. He is a grotesque vision of rampant, unbridled capitalism….

(4) DUNE VS. TATTOOINE. On This Day in Science Fiction delivers an assessment of this week’s cinematic history by comparing two sf epics with grit in “Stardate 10.22.2021.B: 2021’s ‘Dune’ Needed More Spice”.

… Paul means little to me.  Luke?  I get Luke.  I want to be Luke.  I’ll fly the Death Star trench with him, and I’ll gladly join him on Dagobah for secret Jedi training, or I’d even stand shoulder-to-shoulder in a blazing lightsaber battle with Emperor Palpatine if Luke asked me to.
 
But … Paul?
 
He’s Christlike … so what does he need me for?
 
Now, categorically, none of this lessens the strengths of what director Villeneuve accomplishes visually.  Clearly, he’s immersed himself in these worlds, and he’s spared no investor’s expense to bring them to life on the screen.  He’s taken the wide, open, endless desert seas of Arrakis and made them visual poetry – certainly real enough for fans of this franchise to enjoy again and again, much like Marvel fans flock to their superhero yarns for endless repeats.  He’s given breath to the political machinations of a galaxy that really only existed before in Herbert’s series of books in such a way that I’m sure folks will be reminded of Peter Jackson’s The Lord Of The Rings and HBO’s Game Of Thrones adaptations.  These ships and vehicles are unlike anything many have ever seen before, and I’m convinced these production designs will become influential in the years and decades ahead for other filmmakers who want to tackle similar challenges with the kind of scale employed here….

(5) A CHALLENGE FACED BY INTERNATIONAL WRITERS. Jason Sanford has posted a public Genre Grapevine column on his Patreon about the issues that international authors in Africa, parts of Asia and Latin America, etc… face to get paid for their work:  “Genre Grapevine Special Report: A Truly Global SF/F Genre Must Recognize the Financial Barriers Faced by Many International Authors and Creatives”.

…3. A fear that many people in the U.S.A., Canada and Europe don’t understand the financial barriers faced by those in other countries and that the hassles of arranging payments could cause some international authors and creatives to not have their works considered for publication in the first place.

That last point is a critical one to emerge from my interviews with more than a dozen authors, artists and creative people in countries such as Colombia, Australia, India, Nigeria, Brazil, South Korea, and Mexico, all of whom have experienced issues with receiving payments.

None of the people I spoke with knew of a single technical solution to the problems they’ve encountered with receiving payments. Instead, they spoke of worries about how the editors, publishers, and clients they’ve worked with in the U.S.A., Canada and Europe perceive these difficulties in receiving payments. It’s likely even their fellow authors and creatives in the U.S.A., Canada and Europe don’t generally understand these concerns.

In fact, most of the people I interviewed asked to remain anonymous because they feared harm to their career if they spoke publicly about the issue….

(6) REMEMBERING TRAGIC ACCIDENT VICTIM. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Everybody is talking about Alec Baldwin, but the Guardian has a profile/obituary of Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer Baldwin accidentally shot. Some of the films she worked on were genre. Plus, I think she deserves to be remembered as more than just a footnote: “Halyna Hutchins profile: a talented and passionate cinematographer”.

Halyna Hutchins was a talented and passionate cinematographer who was clearly enjoying her job as director of photography on Alec Baldwin’s latest cowboy movie.

Over the past three weeks, she posted photos on her Instagram account from the film’s rugged set in the foothills of New Mexico. They included vivid sunsets and a cast and crew picture in which Hutchins is standing next to Baldwin against the backdrop a log cabin.

There is also a short video clip taken on Wednesday in which Hutchins – wearing a grey scarf and wide-brimmed hat – sets off on horseback with colleagues. “One of the perks of shooting a western is you get to ride horses on your day off,” she wrote….

(7) FRIGHTENING ADVICE. Will Maclean shares some tips in writing scary ghost stories: “How to write scary ghost stories” at Writers Online.

The first and most important thing to remember when writing a ghost story is the difference between scariness and creepiness. You will need to deploy both moods, so it’s well worth giving the matter some thought.

The part of us concerned with pure scariness is indescribably ancient, concerned only with fight or flight, with survival. As such, we are only truly, properly terrified when we’re confronted with those same primal terrors that threatened us a million years ago – being alone, being watched, being hunted or chased or otherwise pursued, with deadly intent… that small stock of evergreen human nightmares is where the pure, visceral scares will always come from….

(8) ANATOMY OF A SUBGENRE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Bill Ward has an article about the intersection of cosmic horror and sword and sorcery at Goodman Games, who are a remarkably good source of SFF related articles: “The Cosmic Horror of Sword & Sorcery”.

… The bones of sword & sorcery lie close to the skin, and one sure blade-stroke is enough to lay them bare for all to see. There is plot-driven pulp action there, at the core, but supporting that is a foundation of swashbuckling historical adventure, and expectations of encounters of the picaresque and the exotic kind. To be sure we can also see the unsentimentality of the hardboiled, the individualism of the American experience, and a surprising dose of literary realism for a genre concerned with fantastic monsters, haunted crypts, and vampiric blades….

(9) FOUNDATION REVIEW. Camestros Felapton weighs in on “Foundation Episode 6”. As he says, spoilers follow.

The show has been taking its time by introducing the background and a broader plot about the fall of the Galactic Empire. However, if the pace was slow it was still moving. Episode 6 was a case of the show spinning its wheels without really going anywhere. There are some good bits but what momentum the story had in the previous episodes got caught up in dithering. Spoilers follow….

(10) YAKKO, WAKKO AND DOT. Hulu dropped this trailer for season 2 of Animaniacs yesterday.

“We’re so meta the shark jumped us!”

(11) SAME MOTIVE AS EVER, GETTING PAID. The Digital Antiquarian’s article about “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” begins with an expansive biography of author Harlan Ellison before turning to the game based on one of his stories.

… Ellison’s attitude toward computers in general was no more nuanced. Asked what he thought about computer entertainment in 1987, he pronounced the phrase “an oxymoron.” Thus it came as quite a surprise to everyone five years later when it was announced that Harlan Ellison had agreed to collaborate on a computer game.

The source of the announcement was a Southern California publisher and developer called Cyberdreams, which had been founded by Pat Ketchum and Rolf Klug in 1990. Ketchum was a grizzled veteran of the home-computer wars, having entered the market with the founding of his first software publisher DataSoft on June 12, 1980. After a couple of years of spinning their wheels, DataSoft found traction when they released a product called Text Wizard, for a time the most popular word processor for Atari’s 8-bit home-computer line. (Its teenage programmer had started on the path to making it when he began experimenting with ways to subtly expand margins and increase line spacings in order to make his two-page school papers look like three…)

(12) ANGEL OBIT. Legacy.com covers the career of the late “Jack Angel (1930–2021), voice actor in ‘Super Friends,’ ‘Transformers’” – who I remember listening to on KFI at the beginning of his career.

Angel got his start in the entertainment industry as a radio disc jockey in California. He worked in radio for almost 20 years before beginning his voice acting career on the popular Saturday morning cartoon “Super Friends.” Angel provided the voices of Hawkman, the Flash, and Super Samurai. He went on to perform in beloved cartoons including “The Smurfs,” “Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo,” and “Spider-Man.” In 1985, Angel began voicing a number of characters for “The Transformers,” including Ramjet, Smokescreen, and Omega Supreme. He was the voice of Wetsuit in “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” and Dr. Zachary Darrett in “Pole Position” as well as providing a number of voices in “Voltron: Defender of the Universe.” Angel also worked in animated feature films, providing voices for many movies including “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “A Bug’s Life,” “The Iron Giant,” “Spirited Away,” and “Monsters Inc.” Angel was a U.S. Army veteran who served in Korea.

(13) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 2006 – On this evening in 2006, Torchwood first aired on BBC Three before moving to BBC Two and finally to the level BBC One. A spin-off of Doctor Who which returned the previous year after a long hiatus, it was created by Russell T. Davies, the first Showrunner for the new Doctor Who. Its principal cast was John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Gareth David-Lloyd, Burn Gorman and Naoko Mori. Over five years, it would run for four series and forty-one episodes. I personally liked the first two series much better than the last two series. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a most excellent seventy-four percent rating. Both BBC and Big Finish have continued the series in audio dramas. 

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 22, 1919 Doris Lessing. The five novels collectively known as Canopus in Argos: Archives certainly established her genre creds. I personally would add her Cat Tales, three volumes of stories and nonfiction (Particularly Cats, Rufus the Survivor and The Old Age of El Magnifico) to your reading list.  (Died 2013.)
  • Born October 22, 1938 Derek Jacobi, 83. He played a rather nicely nasty Master in “Utopia”, a Tenth Doctor story. He’s played Metatron on Good Omens. And he was Magisterial Emissary in The Golden Compass. I’ll single out that he’s played Macbeth at Barbican Theatre in London as part of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre ensemble.
  • Born October 22, 1938 Christopher Lloyd, 83. He has starred as Commander Kruge in The Search for Spock, Emmett “Doc” Brown in the Back to the Future trilogy, Judge Doom in the most excellent Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and played a wonderful Uncle Fester in The Addams Family and the Addams Family Values. (Though I admit didn’t spot him in that makeup.) Let’s not forget that he was in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as John Bigbooté, and he played Dr. Cletus Poffenberger in a recurring role on Tremors.
  • Born October 22, 1939 Suzy McKee Charnas, 82. I’d say The Holdfast Chronicles are her best work to date. “Boobs” won the Best Story Hugo at ConFiction. Her Beauty and the Opéra or The Phantom Beast novelette was a nominee at LoneStarCon 2. She’s also won the Otherwise, Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature, Nebula, Gaylactic Spectrum, and Lambda Literary Awards. Any of you read her Sorcery Hall series? 
  • Born October 22, 1943 Jim Baen. Editor of Galaxy and If for three years. In late 1999, he started Webscriptions, now called Baen Ebooks, which is considered to be the first profitable e-book service. He also was the editor of Destinies and New Destinies which I remember fondly.  He was nominated for Best Editor Hugo five times between 1975 and 1981 but never won. At Nippon 2007, he’d be nominated for Best Editor, Long Form. (Died 2006.)
  • Born October 22, 1952 Jeff Goldblum, 69. The Wiki page gushes over him for being in Jurassic Park and Independence Day (as well as their sequels, The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Independence Day: Resurgence), but neglects my favorite film with him in it, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, not to mention the  Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake he was in. Well, I do really like Independence Day. Though not even genre adjacent, he’s got a nice run on Law and Order: Criminal Intent as Zack Nichols.
  • Born October 22, 1954 Graham Joyce. Selecting his best novel is a futile exercise as everything is fantastically good but I’ll single out Some Kind of Fairy Tale and The Tooth Fairy as the ones I found the most interesting reads. No Hugos not even a short list nomination but he’s won quite a few BFAs and one WFA for The Facts of Life novel. (Died 2014.)

(15) TANANARIVE DUE PROFILE. “Afrofuturist and horror writer Tananarive Due: ‘Invite more Black creators to the table’”. So she tells interviewer Roxane Gay at Inverse.

RG: You have this seemingly idyllic upbringing with both of your parents, loving family, surrounded by books. How do you develop an interest in writing horror?

TD: That’s also my mother. She was a huge horror fan. It’s only in recent years really since her loss, ironically, which has been the biggest trauma of my life that I’m thinking, “Ah, I wonder if her love of horror had a lot to do with the trauma she suffered, first growing up under Jim Crow then being subjected to state violence as a civil rights activist?” That monster on a screen, whether it’s Frankenstein or the Wolf Man, can represent the real-life trauma you have to stand up to. And you watch characters stand up to it even when they don’t understand it, even when they don’t know how to fight it.

(16) VONNEGUT ON FILM. Thom Dunn gets us ready to “Watch the trailer for the new Kurt Vonnegut documentary ‘Unstuck In Time’” at Boing Boing.

The upcoming documentary Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck In Time looks pretty interesting if you (like me) are a fan of the late author. Filmmaker Robert Weide first approached Vonnegut in 1988 to propose the idea of a documentary, and they filmed on and off until Vonnegut’s death in 2007. As a result, the movie not only documents Vonnegut’s life and career, but also the evolution of the relationship between the two men. 

(17) SOURCES OF DUNE. Haris Durrani analyzes Herbert’s drawing on Islam in “The Muslimness of Dune: A Close Reading of ‘Appendix II: The Religion of Dune’” at Tor.com.

… I find the books’ engagement with Islam to transcend linguistic wordplay and obscure intertextuality. After all, Herbert was fascinated by linguistics and believed words shape substantive meaning. The use of “Voice” by the Bene Gesserit, an order of imperialist superhuman female breeders, is a prime example of this, as is the saga’s running obsession with symbols and myths. As these semiotic tools wield tremendous power within the Dune universe, Herbert’s references likewise generate a profound “Muslimness” that goes beyond mere orientalist aesthetics. (This is not to say that the Dune novels are not orientalist in other ways, which I have detailed elsewhere.) Dune does not cheaply plagiarize from Muslim histories, ideas, and practices, but actively engages with them….

(18) NOT THE EXPANSE. Astronomy Picture of the Day: “Lucy Launches to Eight Asteroids.”

(19) VERSATILE AARDVARK. Cat discovered recordings of six episodes of “Cerebus: The Radio Show” at the Internet Archive.

Comic book series created by Canadian cartoonist Dave Sim, which ran from December 1977 until March 2004. The title character of the 300-issue series is an anthropomorphic aardvark who takes on a number of roles throughout the series-barbarian, prime minister and Pope among them. The series stands out for its experimentation in form and content, and for the dexterity of its artwork, especially after background artist Gerhard joined with the 65th issue. As the series progressed, it increasingly became a platform for Sim’s controversial beliefs.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.]

“A Crewneck for Pete” on Vimeo, directed by Andy Mills, is about how you know it’s fall in New England, when the leaves turn and you drink cider straight from the jug.  But where is Pete going to find a cozy crewneck sweatshirt?

[Thanks to  JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Rob Thornton, Will R., Cora Buhlert, Jason Sanford, Michael J. Walsh, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]