Pixel Scroll 11/6/21 The Arrakis Island Line Is A Mighty Fine Line

(1) CLI-FI. Peter O’Dowd has quotes from several sff writers in WBUR’s post “Novelists illustrate the climate futures that could await us”.

Omar el-Akkad authored 2021’s “What Strange Paradise” and 2017’s “American War,” which is about a second civil war triggered by a ban on fossil fuels.

“[Climate change] is happening geologically in the blink of an eye,” says novelist Omar el-Akkad, “but in human terms, it’s too long to think about. Very few politicians in power right now have to worry about getting re-elected 30 years from now. Once you move past the lifespan of a mortgage, you’re in trouble.”

El-Akkad says that stories can make the abstract threat of the climate crisis real for readers.

“I think that’s one of the things that fiction allows you to do. To try to say, ‘hey, listen. Care about someone who’s not you,’ ” he says. “Is that going to work against the massive tide of incredibly individualistic society that we’ve created? I don’t know. But fundamentally I have to believe that it might”…

(2) AFROFUTURISM. The New Yorker signal boosts “An Afrofuturist Seneca Village, at the Met”.

In 1857, Seneca Village, a community of predominantly Black Americans, was destroyed to build Central Park. Beginning Nov. 5, the Met imagines an alternate world, one in which the village still thrives, with “Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room,” combining historic and contemporary art and décor. Its visionary lead curator, Hannah Beachler—who won an Oscar for her production design on “Black Panther”—is pictured here, with wallpaper by the Nigerian American artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby.

The Met’s online guide to the imagined room is here: “Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room – In-Gallery Guide”. One item on the walls is this Henry Taylor portrait:

— based on a photograph taken in 1982 at a U.S. Navy facility in Panama City, Florida, of Andrea Y. Motley Crabtree, the first woman to pass the rigorous qualification for deep sea diving, a highly specialized aspect of military service. While Crabtree wears a standard white diving uniform and holds a Mark V helmet in her lap, both the rich, dark painted backdrop and her seated posture align her with depictions of regal subjects such as popes, kings, and cardinals by artists such as Velázquez or El Greco, similarly marking her as a figure highly worthy of prestige.

(3) BOARD GAMES OVER THE MILLENNIA. LASFS’ Nick Smith presents the Pasadena History Museum’s video lecture “From Senet to Monopoly to Terraforming Mars: 4,600 Years of Board Games”.

The evolution of board games has transformed them into a popular pastime all over the world. Join Nick Smith for another fascinating adventure as we discover the history and popularity of ancient games, familiar classics and today’s popular versions of this age-old pursuit.

(4) REINING IN RAMPANT CAPITALISM. In the UK, “Monopoly Sets Up Holiday Hotline To Settle Family Disputes” says Huffington Post.

…Family members attempting to ruin Christmas by bending the rules or blatantly cheating during the game will now have to answer to an official board.

The folks over at Hasbro UK are setting up a dispute hotline from Dec. 24 through Dec. 26 for game enthusiasts in the United Kingdom and Ireland stuck in the midst of an argument.

Hasbro conducted a survey of 2,000 adults and found that players are widely unfamiliar with Monopoly’s official rules. As a result, games regularly devolve into disputes. In fact, in a statement sent to The Huffington Post, Hasbro listed 10 common arguments that occur during playing and found that “people making up rules” is the No. 1 issue.

So the company set up the hotline to mediate issues….

… Hasbro expects to receive a “flood of calls” around 6 p.m. on Christmas day.

(5) SEREDIPITY. Kim Beil touts the benefits of writers having a project in “What I Learned While Cataloguing an Entire Library of 19th-Century Schoolbooks” at Literary Hub.

Chapter 4. Accidents are meaningful. Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly write about another volume of the National Reader, something fell out of its pages: a newspaper advertisement for “The Most Popular Writer of the Day for Boys and Girls.” Clearly, the book’s owner wished he was reading something else, too. This bookmark led me to other things filed in the Reader’s pages: a small engraved portrait, a scrap of emerald silk. And this, an anathema, or book curse: “Steal not this ^book for fear of strife/ For the owner carries a big/ Dirk Knife.” The project can take you places you’d never think to go on your own.

(6) LEIA’S LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLES. At Reason.com, an excerpt from Stephen Kent’s new book on the philosophy of Star Wars, How The Force Can Fix The World. “Princess Leia shows us why hope is crucial for a liberty-oriented way of life.” “Hope Must Conquer Fear in Politics”.

… Hope is a lot of things. It can be personified, objectified, or embodied in places, faith, and prose. But the most simple definition for hope is that it’s to want something you can have, at least in theory. I want very badly to have the Jedi power of levitating objects and moving them around my house with my mind, but I don’t have hope of achieving such a thing, nor should I, even in theory. It’s not within the realm of possibility. But what if I watched enough YouTube videos made by weirdos living in their mothers’ basements, telling me beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m wrong, and this power is in fact attainable? All I’d have to do, according to these armchair wizards of the web, is watch enough of their videos and wire them some money. There’s a good chance that at some point you’ll become bitter and angry. After all, someone sold you false goods, hope beyond hope.

This is what happens to Anakin Skywalker when he is told by a supposed friend, Chancellor Palpatine, about the power to control life and death that is known only to the Sith. Anakin, suffering from visions of his wife Padme dying in childbirth, is lured in by a twisted kind of hope we might understand as an intergalactic spin on the snake-oil salesman who travels from town to town hawking miracle cures that almost certainly will let the buyer down.

Just as hope can push the likes of Princess Leia forward through a tragedy like the destruction of Alderaan, hope can also move a desperate and loving husband to spend the last of his savings or sell the house to get that cure from the roving snake-oil salesman. It’s not unlike the snake oil hawked by politicians who say all our problems will be solved if we just give them votes and power, warping the minds of people who go to great lengths to follow them. There is a light and dark side to everything….

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • November 6, 1981 — Time Bandits premiered. Co-written, produced, and directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Kenny Baker, Sean Connery, John Cleese, Shelley Duvall, Ralph Richardson, Ian Holm, Michael Palin, and David Warner. Gilliam has referred to it as the first in his Trilogy of Imagination followed by Brazil  and ending with The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. It received widespread critical acclaim with a current ninety percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes among audience reviewers and was a financial success as well.  Apple has gained the rights for a Time Bandits television series for their Apple TV+ service with Gilliam on board in a non-writing production role and Taika Waititi who directed Thor: Ragnarok as the director of the pilot.  You can read Kage Baker’s review of the Criterion edition here.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 6, 1907 Catherine Crook de Camp. Author and editor. Most of her work was done in collaboration with her husband L. Sprague de Camp, to whom she was married for sixty years. Her solo work was largely non-fiction. Her Science-Fiction Handbook was nominated for Retro Hugo at Noreascon 4, and Dark Valley Destiny: The Life of Robert E. Howard was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. Heinlein in part dedicated Friday to her. (Died 2000.)
  • Born November 6, 1914 — Jonathan Harris. Doctor Zachary Smith, of course, as seen on Lost in Space. He was somewhat typecast as a villain showing up as such as Mr. Piper on Land of the Giants, The Ambassador on Get Smart and the voice of Lucifer on the original Battlestar Galactica. He did play lighter roles such as Johann Sebastian Monroe on Bewitched  in the “Samantha on the Keyboard” episode, and the voice of Professor Jones, the second Butler of Freakazoid on the series of that name. (Died 2002.)
  • Born November 6, 1948 Michael Dirda, 73. Currently book critic for the Washington Post. His connection to genre is a fascinating work entitled On Conan Doyle; or, The Whole Art of Storytelling which won  the Edgar Award for Best Critical / Biographical Works in 2012 and which looks at his SF work as well. Also worth bringing to your attention is Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books which y’all should naturally be interested in reading. 
  • Born November 6, 1955 Catherine Ann Asaro, 66. She is best known for her books about the Ruby Dynasty, called the Saga of the Skolian Empire. I don’t think I’ve read them, so if you’ve read them,  please do tell me about them. She won Nebula Awards for The Quantum Rose novel and “The Spacetime Pool” novella. And the Analog readers really like her, having voted her three An-Lab awards for Best Novella, “Aurora in Four Voices”, “A Roll of The Dice” and “Walk in Silence”.  
  • Born November 6, 1958 Trace Beaulieu, 63. Puppeteer, writer, and actor. For the first eight seasons of MST3K, he wrote for the show, operated and voiced the Crow T. Robot puppet, and played the role of Dr. Clayton Forrester, the head mad scientist at Gizmonic Institute.
  • Born November 6, 1968 Kelly Rutherford, 53. She’s here for having the recurring role of Dixie Cousins on The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. and that’s in addition to managing to get herself involved in some bad genre series that got cancelled fast such as Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures and Kindred: The Embraced (eight episodes each). And her very first genre gig had the dubious title of Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge.
  • Born November 6, 1972 Rebecca Romijn, 49. Played Mystique in the X-Men film franchise but my favorite role for her is as Eve Baird, The Guardian of the Library that cross all realities in The Librarians series.  She also was a regular playing Roxie Torcoletti in Eastwick, yet another riff off the John Updike novel. She is now Number One on Discovery and the forthcoming Strange New Worlds

(9) THE SHARP OF THINGS TO COME. Heavy.com demands to know “Why Are the New ‘Star Trek’ Ships All so Pointy?” There’s a lot of info about Trek’s design history packed into this article, and input from key artists like Rick Sternbach.

… Perhaps it was due to the success of Probert’s Enterprise-D that things had to change. Fans knew all about Picard’s ship from seven years of “The Next Generation.” When that change happened, it was in the form of the Enterprise-E and the Voyager.

Rick Sternbach, who served the franchise as a senior illustrator, designer, scenic artist, or technical advisor, created the design for the Voyager for executive producer Jeri Taylor. She asked Sternbach to create a new ship for the show, which was “sleeker and smaller than the Enterprise-D,” according to Trek expert and writer Nick Ottens

(10) SUITABLE FOR ANY MISSION. Add the flagship-with-a-theme-song to your holiday celebrations with the Enterprise Christmas tree topper. Or skip the tree and use the lighted model as room décor year-around: Enterprise Musical Tree Topper With Light from Moonlofty. (Click for larger images.)

(11) BEZOS LOSES. “Blue Origin Loses Legal Fight Over SpaceX’s NASA Moon Contract” reports the New York Times.

A federal judge on Thursday rejected Jeff Bezos’ latest legal attempt to overturn NASA’s multibillion-dollar moon lander contract with Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The decision ended a monthslong battle between the space companies of two of the world’s richest men that posed a significant obstacle to NASA’s plans for returning humans to the moon for the first time since 1972.

The ruling makes it all but certain that whenever American astronauts return to the lunar surface, they will be traveling in a spacecraft built by Mr. Musk’s company. That adds another victory for SpaceX, a company that has become a dominant player in orbital spaceflight, including serving as a primary partner of NASA in carrying astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station.

But NASA has been unable to work on the program with SpaceX for the duration of Blue Origin’s legal challenges, which may delay the return to the moon….

(12) COMEDY TONIGHT. From last night’s Amber Ruffin show: “Lotionelle Thinks You’re Beautiful… Even With Those ‘Ugly Secrets’”. Sixty years ago this would have been the premise for a Twilight Zone episode.

(13) MORE PRO TIPS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Movie Locations Tutorial” on Screen Rant, written by Seb Decter, Ben Harrison Smith plays “Wild” Ron-Jon Mason, movie location scout, who says he found the school in School Of Rock and the house in Big Momma’s House and lots of warehouses and dark alleys for Marvel.  His advice:  shoot everything in Toronto but make sure you have a little metal Empire State Building for those New York backgrounds.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. When Owl Kitty is on the rampage in Jurassic Park,cat food always helps! “Jurassic Park but with a Cat” on YouTube.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/14/21 Pixel 10-10 Whose Gracious Presence Illuminates The File Like The Edgescroll Of A Knife

(1) DOCTORAL THESES. A roundup of Radio Times’ Doctor Who coverage.

The show’s official social media accounts posted a snap of the pair on the TARDIS set, holding a clapperboard, with an accompanying message that confirmed they’d “finished filming”.

Whittaker’s departure from Doctor Who was first announced, along with that of current showrunner Chris Chibnall, back in July.

Though this new post confirms that Gill has also “finished filming” on the next set of episodes, the BBC is yet to officially confirm if she will be departing her role as companion Yaz Khan.

Both stars will return for the show’s 13th series, set to air from 31st October on BBC One. This will be followed by two specials which will air in 2022, then one final feature-length adventure for Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor which will also mark the BBC’s centenary.

Speaking to Digital Spy, he explained: “It all depends. The moment you say yes to Doctor Who, even before you’ve done an episode, you’re being asked whether you’d go back after you finish. I don’t know if this happens to James Bonds. I don’t know if Pierce Brosnan gets asked if he’d go back to James Bond.

“Because there’s that element of fantasy, anything is ultimately possible. You should never say never to anything. I think that way madness lies.”

Well, that didn’t take long – Tennant is voicing the Doctor in a game:

David Tennant returns to the world of Doctor Who today with a special voice appearance in Doctor Who: The Edge of Reality, a video game that sees Tennant’s Time Lord sharing a screen with Jodie Whittaker’s incumbent version of the famous TV hero. But this return did come with a bit of “weirdness” thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

(2) FOLLOWING THE JUMP. Heavy.com revisits several efforts to revisit Star Trek’s Guardian of Forever in other iterations of the series: “How Spock Was Supposed to Meet Himself on ‘the Next Generation’”.

Fans cried during the airing of the “Star Trek” episode, “The City on the Edge of Forever.” This particular program would be proclaimed by many as the “greatest episode” in the franchise’s history. Written originally by science fiction scribe Harlan Ellison, “City” featured a story that taught the cruel lessons of time travel.

… Kirk, Spock, and McCoy (DeForest Kelley) were able to travel into the past with the help of a living machine known as the Guardian of Forever….  

(3) HITTING THE THEMATIC TARGET. Author and editor Michael A. Ventrella from the Pocono Liars Club chats with authors and editors Keith DeCandido and Randee Dawn on the topic of “Writing for Themed Anthologies” with lots of stories, laughs, and advice for writers and editors both!

(4) OCTOTHORPE. Octothorpe 42 is up now. Listen here: “I‘m Up for Running Controlcon”.

John Coxon used to have a different face, Alison Scott is going to Smofcon, and Liz Batty is in disguise. We talk about Douglas Adams, the SF Encyclopedia, and upcoming Worldcon bids.

(5) THE BIG TIME. [Item by Christian Brunschen.] I watched the most recent episode of the BBC quiz show Only Connect on BBC 2 – a quiz show where contestants have to find connections between clues, hosted by Victoria Coren Mitchell – and one of the combinations this time featured this combination.

[Note: iPlayer link only works in UK, but YouTube has the episode. This game segment comes after the 20-minute mark.]

(6) GUESS WHO’S A BIG JEAN-LUC FAN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Travis M. Andrews and Roxanne Roberts say Jeff Bezos has been a Trekker since fourth grade, when he’s come home from school and watch classic Trek episodes.  Andrews and Roberts note that Bezos’s favorite captain is Jean-Luc Picard, and that he nearly named Amazon makeitso.com.  His current favorite sf writers are Alistair Reynolds, Ernest Cline, and Andy Weir and it’s not a coincidence that Amazon Studios saved The Expanse after the show was killed by Syfy. “Jeff Bezos and Star Trek: A love affair”.

…“For years, I have been begging Paramount, which is owned by Viacom, to let me be in a ‘Star Trek’ movie,” he said that year. “I am very persistent, and you can imagine the poor director who got the call: ‘You have to let Jeff Bezos be in your ‘Star Trek’ movie. ”

Bezos said he was willing to be unrecognizable but wanted a speaking part — and one that was central to the plot so it didn’t end up on the cutting-room floor.

Bezos appears in the first five minutes of the film as an alien Starfleet officer stationed at Yorktown Starbase in 2263 who scans Kalara as she pleads for help from Commodore Paris and Captain Kirk. “Speak normally,” Bezos tells her. The cameo role required such extensive makeup that he could only drink through a straw.

“He was awesome,” director Justin Lin told the Associated Press. “It was like a president was visiting, you know? He had a big entourage! But it didn’t matter because he was so into it. He had to wait around all day because it was one day we were shooting like three different scenes and, it was also credit to Jeff because … he just nailed it every time.”…

(7) YES BUCKS, YES BUCK ROGERS. I’m still catching up, and this seems a timely place to slip in Saturday Night Live’s “Billionaire Star Trek” sketch from a week ago.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1926 – Eighty-five years ago, A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, was first  published in the United Kingdom. It is a collection of short stories with illustrations by E. H. Shepard. It was the first of two such collections, the second being The House at Pooh Corner. (Yes, it’d later be a song written by Kenny Loggins and performed by their Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on their 1970 Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy album but I digress.) The book was well-received at release, and was an extraordinary success, selling some one hundred fifty thousand copies before the end of the year. Winnie-the-Pooh has been adapted in other media, most notably by Disney beginning with Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree in the Sixties. Both books are free as part of the Audible Plus program. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 14, 1899 Martin Miller. He played Kublai Khan in the completed erased by the BBC First Doctor story, “Marco Polo”. He’s in the first Pink Panther film as Pierre Luigi, a photographer, and has roles in Danger ManDepartment SThe Avengers and The Prisoner. In the latter, he was number fifty-four in “It’s Your Funeral”. The Gamma People in which he played Lochner is I think his only true genre film though I’m obviously open to being told I’m wrong. (Died 1969.)
  • Born October 14, 1927 Roger Moore. Bond in seven films 1973 to 1985, a long run indeed. And he played Simon Templar in The Saint for most of the Sixties, an amazing one hundred eighteen episodes. Let’s not forget that he was in the Curse of the Pink Panther as Chief Insp. Jacques Clouseau!  He even got to play Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes in New York. (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 14, 1946 Katy Manning, 75. She was Jo Grant, companion to the Third Doctor. She also appeared in that role with the Eleventh Doctor on the Sarah Jane Adventures in a two-part story entitled “Death of the Doctor”. She appears as herself in the The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
  • Born October 14, 1949 Crispin Burnham, 72. And then there are those who just disappear.  He was the founder, writer and publisher of Dark Messenger Reader / Eldritch Tales from 1975 to 1995 as the publisher Yith Press. He was also a prolific essayist from 1973 to 1995, his final essay being a reflection on the life and career of Robert Bloch. There’s nothing to show him active after 1998 when the final part of his “People of The Monolith” was publishedin Cthulhu Cultus #13. Then he vanishes without a trace. 
  • Born October 14, 1953 Richard Christian Matheson, 68. Son of the Richard Matheson that you’re thinking of. A very prolific horror writer mostly of short stories, he’s also no slouch at script writing as he’s written for Amazing StoriesMasters of HorrorThe Powers of Matthew StarSplatterTales from the CryptKnight Rider (the original series) and The Incredible Hulk. Wiki claims he wrote for Roger Zelazny’s The Chronicles of Amber but IMDB shows no such series or show. The usual suspects  have a goodly number of story collections available for him.
  • Born October 14, 1953 Greg Evigan, 68. TekWar, one of Shatner’s better ideas, starred him as Jake Cardigan. I really liked it. Yes, Shatner was in it. He also shows up in DeepStar Six as Kevin McBride, as Will South in the horror film Spectre aka The House of The Damned, as Marcus Cutter in Cerberus: The Guardian of Hell, and on the Alfred Hitchcock Presents as David Whitmore in “In the Driver’s Seat”. 
  • Born October 14, 1963 Lori Petty, 58. Rebecca Buck – “Tank Girl” in that film. She was also Dr. Lean Carli in Cryptic, and Dr. Sykes in Dead Awake. She had one-offs in The HungerTwilight ZoneStar Trek: Voyager, BrimstoneFreddy’s Nightmares and Alien Nation, and voiced quite well Livewire in the DCU animated shows.
  • Born October 14, 1968 Robert C. Cooper, 53. He was an executive producer of all the Stargate series. He also co-created both Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe with Brad Wright. Cooper has written and produced many episodes of Stargate series as well as directed a number of episodes. I’m really impressed!

(10) COMICS SECTION.

2021: Let’s not do anything about the climate yet. – That’s a crazy bad idea.

2050: That didn’t work, I wonder what went wrong. – It was a crazy bad idea. 

(11) IATSE STRIKE IMMINENT. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) will go on strike Monday, October 18 unless studios and streaming companies meet their demands reports Business Insider: “Hollywood Union President Declares Strike Ultimatum for Monday”.

Earlier this month, IATSE members voted to authorize a strike, with over 98% of members voting in favor for a strike. The union and producers resumed bargaining negotiations on Wednesday, according to Deadline, marking eight days since the strike authorization. The unions have been locked in multiple negotiations since July, but parties have repeatedly failed to reach a consensus on a deal….

The Washington Post sums up the reasons for the stike:

…Members of the IATSE contend that television and film studios have raked in massive profits during the coronavirus pandemic as consumers turn to streaming options to fill more time at home. But those gains have not extended to workers, they say, who now put in significantly longer workweeks…

David Gerrold also discussed what the high (98%) vote portends and urged his readers to support  IATSE.

And John Scalzi voiced his support, too.

(12) UNION FORMS. Meanwhile, Dicebreaker reports board game industry employees are organizing: “Workers at Paizo have announced the United Paizo Workers union”.

Over 30 Paizo staff members from several departments have signed a letter announcing the formation of the United Paio Workers union, in coordination with the Communication Workers of America. This effort is the first of its kind in both the tabletop RPG and board game industry.

The letter states that Paizo workers have been organizing for some time but were spurred to act by September firing of customer service and community manager Sara Marie and what they call the sudden departure of customer service representative Diego Valdez and several others in the recent past. Many former and current employees, as well as freelancers and contract workers, took the opportunity to share stories of abuse, harassment, mistreatment and hostile management.

“These events, as well as internal conversations among Paizo workers, have uncovered a pattern of inconsistent hiring practices, pay inequity across the company, allegations of verbal abuse from executives and management, and allegations of harassment ignored or covered up by those at the top,” the letter said. “These findings have further galvanized the need for clearer policies and stronger employee protections to ensure that Paizo staff can feel secure in their employment.”

(13) DUNE MOTHER. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times, behind a paywall, Raphael Abraham interviewed Rebecca Ferguson about her role in Dune.

(Timothee) Chalamet may be the star but Ferguson’s character is in many ways the story’s catalyst; her role amped up by (director Denis) Villeneuve–she has defied her mysterious religious order to bear a son and possesses supernatural powers that she attempts to impart to him.  And, while other main players are killed off or become separated from the hero, it is Paul’s mother who remains by his side, battling on foot across the inhospitable desert planet of the title, evading enemies and giant sandworms.  For Ferguson and Chalamet, this meant shooting under the Abu Dhabi sun in bulky space costumery.

‘We had to adapt to mother nature,’ the actress says. ‘We could only film for an hour and a half at dusk and dawn, and during the day we had to stay inside and not burn ourselves.  It was a struggle running uphill in stillsuits but it was also so lovely doing it in the real environment–no bloody studio!’

(14) MASSIVE ART INSTALLATION HONORS ASTRONAUT. The Smithsonian explains how “A Monumental Portrait of NASA Astronaut Stephanie Wilson Crops Up in Atlanta”, as designed by artist Stan Herd.

…Fittingly, for his next creation, which will debut today at Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta, the 71-year-old crop artist is looking up to the sky for inspiration. Stretching 4,800 square feet in size, the piece coincides with the United Nations’ International Day of the Girl Child initiative and is also part of World Space Week, an annual event that celebrates global accomplishments in science and technology. Since this year’s theme is Women in Space, Herd has created a portrait of Stephanie Wilson, a veteran NASA astronaut with three space flights under her belt (she’s also the second African American woman to go into space), and one of 18 astronauts who are a part of Artemis, NASA’s lunar exploration program that is scheduled to send the first woman to the moon in 2024…

(15) DESKTOP SPACE BASE. John King Tarpinian is right when he says the S.T. Dupont Space Odyssey Prestige Collectors Set is “over the top.” But it’s priced to move! Now marked down to $9,596.

(16) GILLIAN ANDERSON VOICE ROLE. Robin Robin comes to Netflix on November 24.

Robin Robin, a holiday special from Aardman Animation, makers of Shaun the Sheep, Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit. “Starring Gillian Anderson, Richard E Grant, Bronte Carmichael and Adeel Akhtar.” When her egg fortuitously rolls into a rubbish dump, Robin is raised by a loving family of mice. As she grows up, her differences become more apparent. Robin sets off on the heist to end all heists to prove to her family that she can be a really good mouse – but ends up discovering who she really is.

(17) MARTIAN MUD. The journal Science features a Red Planet discovery: “Perseverance rover reveals an ancient delta-lake system and flood deposits at Jezero crater, Mars”.

Perseverance rover reveals an ancient delta-lake system and flood deposits at Jezero crater, Mars

Observations from orbital spacecraft have shown that Jezero crater, Mars, contains a prominent fan-shaped body of sedimentary rock deposited at its western margin. The Perseverance rover landed in Jezero crater in February 2021. Researchers have analyzes images taken by the rover in the three months after landing. The fan has outcrop faces that were invisible from orbit, which record the hydrological evolution of Jezero crater. Researchers interpret the presence of inclined strata in these outcrops as evidence of deltas that advanced into a lake.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In this Saturday Night Live “Cut for Time” sketch, a dinner party (Owen Wilson, Kenan Thompson, Cecily Strong, Heidi Gardner, Alex Moffat, Ego Nwodim) disagrees on splitting a check. But wait! – There’s more, and it’s genre.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Nancy Sauer, Chris Barkley, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Lise Andreasen, John A Arkansawyer, Christian Brunschen, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

William Shatner Back From Space

Crew members: Former Nasa engineer Chris Boshuizen, William Shatner, VP of Mission and Flight Operations, Audrey Powers, and healthcare entrepreneur Glen De Vries

Emerging from New Shepard’s crew capsule, 90-year-old actor William Shatner told his host Jeff Bezos how deeply moved he was by his flight to the edge of space:

“What you have given me is the most profound experience I can announce. I’m so filled with emotion about what just happened. I — I just — it’s extraordinary, extraordinary. I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now. I – I don’t want to lose it. It’s so much larger than the me of life. It hasn’t got anything to do with the little green planet or the — it has to do with the enormity and the quickness and the suddenness of life and death…”

Jeff Bezos, the executive chairman of Amazon, is the founder of Blue Origin, the privately-owned orbital spaceflight technology business that developed New Shepard. Today was its second launch with human passengers. Shatner is best known for playing the spacefaring Captain Kirk in Star Trek on TV and in movies.

The AP story adds:

…Bezos is a huge “Star Trek” fan — the Amazon founder had a cameo as an alien in one of the later movies — and Shatner rode free as his invited guest.

As a favor to Bezos, Shatner took up into space some “Star Trek” tricorders and communicators — sort of the iPhones of the future — that Bezos made when he was a 9-year-old Trekkie. Bezos said his mother had saved them for 48 years….

Before the flight it was surprising that a 90-year-old could be expected to withstand the rigors of a rocket launch and return to earth, although the craft’s first crewed flight in July included 82-year-old aviator Wally Funk, one of the Mercury 13. Shatner said the return to Earth was more jolting than his training led him to expect and made him wonder whether he was going to make it back alive.

“Everything is much more powerful,” he said. “Bang, this thing hits. That wasn’t anything like the simulator. … Am I going to be able to survive the G-forces?”

Passengers are subjected to nearly 6 G’s, or six times the force of Earth’s gravity, as the capsule descends. Blue Origin said Shatner and the rest of the crew met all the medical and physical requirements, including the ability to hustle up and down several flights of steps at the launch tower.

  • NBC’s video of Shatner speaking after exiting the capsule
  • CNN’s video of the complete flight

All external – no inside views of the passengers. Includes great visuals of the rocket stage returning upright to the landing pad. Also shows the capsule parachuting back to earth.

Pixel Scroll 9/12/21 The Old File-Hidden-In-The-Pixel-Scroll Trick

(1) THE TROUBLE WITH KIBBLES. With Camestros Felapton 63 chapters into Debarkle, a chronicle of how the Sad/Rabid Puppies were the sff genre’s reflection of broader right-wing movements, John Scalzi shares his own retrospective “Thoughts on the ‘Debarkle’” at Whatever.

1. It really does seem like so long ago now. The nonsense the Sad/Rabid Puppies (henceforth to be referred to as “the Pups”) perpetrated is largely contained in the years of 2014 – 2016, and while that’s not actually all that long ago — a mere five years since MidAmericon II, where new Hugo nomination rules were ratified to minimize slate nominating, and NK Jemisin won the first of her three consecutive Best Novel Hugo Awards — it feels like a distant memory now, a kind of “oh, yeah, that happened,” sort of event.

There are reasons for that, but I think the largest part has to do with the fact that the Pups, simply and bluntly, failed at every level that was important for their movement. The bifurcated goals of the Pups were to champion science fiction with a certain political/cultural point of view (i.e., largely white, largely conservative), and to destroy the Hugos by flooding the nominations with crap. They did neither very well. Toward the former, the material they slated was largely not very good, and with respect to the latter, the Hugos both still persist and remain a premier award in the field.

Their strategy was bad because it was addressing a problem that largely did not exist and was arrived at in a backward fashion, and their tactics were bad because they exploited loopholes and antagonized everyone who was not part of their clique, activating thousands of dormant Hugo voters against them. They were routed through a simple mechanism for which they had not accounted (“No Award”), and once their slating tactic was blunted by a nomination rule change, they flounced entirely.

When your only track record is that of complete failure, it’s not surprising you don’t have much of an impact….

John Lorentz says in a comment there:

As the 2015 Hugo Administrator, I can tell you that five years (or six years since it affected me directly), is not nearly enough to for me to forget it.

I used to enjoy administering the Hugos (I’ve done it four times)–2015 was a shit show that destroyed any joy I had regarding the Hugos. in the long run, the Puppies didn’t affect the field, but they sure affected me.

Also:

It was, however, the only thing I’ve ever been involved with that has show up both as a question on Jeopardy and a song on Doctor Demento.

So there’s that.

(2) WHOSE FAULT? Paul Weimer finds more than he expected, as he explains in his review for Nerds of a Feather: “Microreview [book]: Fault Lines by Kelly Jennings”.

…Like that original story, and like the other stories in that anthology by other authors, the central characters in the universe that Jennings has constructed here and the central characters are women (and note the name of Velocity’s ship). Given the preponderance of men as leads of a lot of space opera to this day, Jennings’ work is a refreshing rebalancing of that. The novel is a two-hander, with Velocity Wrachant, captain and owner of the Susan Calvin, and Brontë, a young woman who is far more than she first appears.

The story’s point of view focus on both Velocity and Brontë, although we do not see the latter’s point of view until her hijacking, and even then, it is initially months in the past. I didn’t like her at first: after all, she HAD hijacked Velocity’s ship, and I thought at first that the flashbacks from her point of view were merely to flesh her out and give us perspective and point of view to sympathize with her, however grudgingly so. As the back half of the narrative continued to build and events in the present continued, I saw the careful crafting of plot, and the central mystery at the heart of Fault Lines….

(3) HANNA MEMORIES. Joseph Nicholas penned The Guardian’s “Judith Hanna obituary”.

During her 30 years of working for a range of campaigning bodies and NGOs, my wife, Judith Hanna, who has died aged 67 of liver cancer, saw concern about the environment go from a fringe issue for community activists to a mainstream subject with a professionalised career structure.

Her life and career embodied the principle of “being the change you want to see”, through such local activities as organising annual seed swaps, promoting community gardens, calling for traffic calming measures in residential streets and, at national level, working for nuclear disarmament and better public transport. In her final role, as a social evidence principal specialist at Natural England, she promoted the now widely accepted health benefits of everyday contact with the natural world….

(4) BOLTS FROM THE BLUE. In the Future Tense newsletter, Torie Bosch says “We need a Muppet version of Frankenstein”.

On Aug. 30, my heart broke a tiny bit.

That day, the Guardian published a remarkable interview with Frank Oz, Jim Henson’s longtime collaborator and the puppeteer behind Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and other classic Muppets. Oz hasn’t been involved with the Muppets since 2007, three years after Disney purchased the franchise. He tells the Guardian: “I’d love to do the Muppets again but Disney doesn’t want me, and Sesame Street hasn’t asked me for 10 years. They don’t want me because I won’t follow orders and I won’t do the kind of Muppets they believe in. He added of the post-Disney Muppet movies and TV shows: “The soul’s not there. The soul is what makes things grow and be funny. But I miss them and love them.” As a lifelong Muppets fan, I have to agree: There were delightful moments in the Muppet reboots of recent years, but they were a little too pale, the chaos and the order a little too calculated.

But I think that there’s a way to bring the Muppets back, one that could also—and here comes the Future Tense agenda—help spark smart  discussions about scientific ethics, especially around what it means to be human and how to approach innovation responsibly. We need Frank Oz to helm a Muppet Frankenstein….

(5) I AM THE FIRE. Brain Pickings’ Maria Popova discusses “Einstein’s Dreams: Physicist Alan Lightman’s Poetic Exploration of Time and the Antidote to the Anxiety of Aliveness”.

“When you realize you are mortal,” the poet, painter, and philosopher Etel Adnan wrote while regarding a mountain, “you also realize the tremendousness of the future.” A decade earlier, shortly before a heart attack severed her life-time, Hannah Arendt observed in her superb Gifford Lectures lectures on the life of the mind that our finitude, “set in an infinity of time stretching into both past and future, constitutes the infrastructure, as it were, of all mental activities.” While Arendt was composing these thoughts and silent cells were barricading one of her arteries, Ursula K. Le Guin was composing her novelistic inquiry into what it means to live responsibly, observing: “If time and reason are functions of each other, if we are creatures of time, then we had better know it, and try to make the best of it.” A generation before her, Borges had formulated the ultimate declaration of our temporal creatureliness, declaring: “Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.”…

(6) SCANNERS IN VAIN. Tony Lewis, reporting on behalf of the NESFA Press in Instant Message #979, told about some problems encountered with their republication of Zenna Henderson’s Ingathering: The Complete People Stories collection.

An Amazon customer who bought our Ingathering ebook reported 58 typos in it. Amazon took down the book, which had been on sale for a year, until we could fix the typos. A number of NESFA Press proofers have spent the past three weeks going over the Ingathering ebook. We have found more than 400 typos, nearly all caused by unproofed OCR used to create the ebook. We also found that approximately 20 of those 400+ typos existed in the original hardcover. This proofing project is expected to be finished the week after the August Business Meeting.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1976 — Forty-five years ago at MidAmeriCon where Wilson Tucker was the Toastmaster, Roger Zelazny would win the the Best Novella Hugo for “Home is The Hangman”. It was published in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, the November 1975 issue. The other nominated works were “The Storms of Windhaven” by George R. R. Martin and Lisa Tuttle, “ARM” by Larry Niven, “The Silent Eyes of Time” by Algis Budrys and “The Custodians” by Richard Cowper. It would also win a Nebula Award. It’s in one of the three stories in My Name is Legion which is available from the usual digital suspects.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 12, 1897 — Walter B. Gibson. Writer and professional magician who’s best known for his work creating and being the main writer of the pulp character The Shadow. He used the pen-name Maxwell Grant, wrote 285 of the 325 Shadow stories published by Street & Smith in The Shadow magazine of the Thirties and Forties. He also wrote a Batman prose story which appeared in Detective Comics #500 and was drawn by Thomas Yeates. (Died 1985.)
  • Born September 12, 1914 Desmond Llewelyn. He’s best known for playing Q in 17 of the Bond films over thirty-six years. Truly amazing. Live and Let Die is the only one in the period where Q was not in it. He worked with five Bonds, to wit Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan. Other genre appearances include The Adventures of Robin Hood, the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr HydeThe Curse of the Werewolf and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. (Died 1999.)
  • Born September 12, 1921 Stanislaw Lem. He’s best known for Solaris, which has been made into a film three times. The latest film made off a work of his is the 2018 His Master’s Voice (Glos Pana In Polish). The usual suspects have generous collections of his translated into English works at quite reasonable prices. (Died 2006.) [Note: In three instances “L” has been substituted because WordPress doesn’t support the correct special character.]
  • Born September 12, 1922 John Chambers. He’s best known for designing Spock’s  pointed ears, and for the prosthetic make-up work on the Planet of the Apes franchise. Some of those character creations, including Cornelius and Dr. Zaius from the Planet of the Apes series, are on display at the Science Fiction Museum. He worked on the MunstersOuter LimitsLost in SpaceMission Impossible, Night Gallery and I-Spy along with uncredited (at the time) prosthetic makeup work on Blade Runner. (Died 2001.)
  • Born September 12, 1940 John Clute, 81. Critic, one of the founders of Interzone (which I avidly read in digital form) and co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (with Peter Nicholls) that I use every day for these Birthdays, and of the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (with John Grant) as well as writing the Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Science Fiction. All of these publications won Hugo Awards for Best Non-Fiction. And I’d be remiss not to single out for praise The Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror which is simply a superb work.
  • Born September 12, 1942 Charles L. Grant. A writer who said he was best at what he called “dark fantasy” and “quiet horror”. Nightmare Seasons, a collection of novellas, won a World Fantasy Award, while the “A Crowd of Shadows” story garnered a Nebula as did “A Glow of Candles, a Unicorn’s Eye novella. It would also be nominated for a Hugo at SunCon. And the “Temperature Days on Hawthorne Street” story would become the Tales from the Darkside episode “The Milkman Cometh”.  The usual suspects have an outstanding selection of his works including Nightmare Seasons and Shadows, another excellent  collection. (Died 2006.)
  • Born September 12, 1952 Kathryn Anne Ptacek Grant, 69. Widow of Charles L. Grant. She has won two Stoker Awards. If you’re into horror. Her Gila! novel is a classic of that genre, and No Birds Sings is an excellent collection of her short stories. Both are available from the usual suspects.  
  • Born September 12, 1962 Mary Kay Adams, 59. She was Na’Toth, a Narn who was the aide to G’Kar in the second season of Babylon 5, and she would show up as the Klingon Grilka in the episodes “The House of Quark” and “Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places” in Deep Space Nine. Her first genre role is actually an uncredited role in The Muppets Take Manhattan. No idea what it is. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) SHORTS SUBJECT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna has a piece about the “masterpieces” John Oliver is lending to museums in return for a $10,000 grant.  He talks to the heads of the Judy Garland Museum and the Cartoon Art Museum and how the Garland Museum said they could only accept the paintings if the mousehood of the “vermin-love-watercolor-on-paper” drawing by Brian Swords of nude cartoon mice was covered up. “John Oliver is helping museums through the pandemic — by lending them rat erotica”.

Melanie Jacobson was on the hunt for covid-relief cash in October when she happened to flip to HBO. As fortune would have it, “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver was announcing a contest to offer financial help to museums in need. The catch was, they had to be willing to exhibit his freshly acquired collection of three “masterpiece” paintings: a still-life of ties,a portrait of TV host Wendy Williams eating a lamb chop, plus— his “pièce de résistance” — amorous rats in the buff.Jacobson is a board member for theJudy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minn. — right where a star was born. Her catch was, the institutionshares a building with the very G-rated Children’s Discovery Museum, which meant that “I knew we would not be able to show the rat painting with certain private parts,” she said by phone this week.

So with blessing from board leadership, Jacobson submitted a proposal to the “Last Week Tonight” contest with one stipulation, she recalled: “I’m going to have to put pants on the rat.” ….

(11) NOT FOR MUGGLES. Thrillist wants to be sure you’re getting enough genre-related calories. “Dairy Queen Secret Menu: You Can Get a Butterbeer Blizzard Inspired by Harry Potter”.

We’re still flying high off the news of Dairy Queen’s fall Blizzard lineup. After all, the Pumpkin Pie is back, folks. But it’s not the only flavor on our radar as of late. In fact, DQ employee-slash-TikToker @thedairyqueenking shared a secret menu item that’s going to wow Harry Potter fans.

The soft serve insider took to the video-sharing platform with the chain’s hush, hush Butterbeer Blizzard, which boasts vanilla syrup, butterscotch syrup, Butterfinger pieces, and a healthy swirl of whipped cream topping, mirroring the fan-favorite beverage from the books….

(12) A SCRAPBOOK OF CASES. In an article composed of various incidents and testimonies, The Guardian wonders whether it is time to take reports about UFOs and aliens more seriously: “’What I saw that night was real’: is it time to take aliens more seriously?”

…But Nick Pope, a former UFO investigator for the Ministry of Defence, is not convinced and thinks that Godfrey is genuine. “He had a lot to potentially lose by coming out with this and yet stuck to his guns.”

Doesn’t a hallucination explain what he saw? “I get that people do have hallucinations, but they tend to be the result of either mental illness or some sort of hallucinogenic substance, and this guy was on duty and was, by all accounts, rational. And so those explanations don’t seem to apply – I’m stumped when it comes to that particular case. Ask yourself: how many times have you been tired and come to the end of a long day? We’ve all been in that situation, and we don’t suddenly construct bizarre narratives about spacecraft and aliens.”

Is it time to start taking these stories more seriously? “I’m not saying that I believe it’s literally true that these are alien spaceships,” says Pope. “But at the very least, these people who were previously disbelieved and ridiculed should be listened to and given a hearing….

(13) SWORD & SOUL. Flecher Vredenburgh takes “A Look at Milton Davis’ Changa’s Safari and the rest of the series at Goodman Games.

I started my blog, Stuff I Like, nearly eleven years ago with a plan of writing about swords & sorcery. When I reviewed “The City of Madness” by the late and greatly-missed Charles Saunders, I discovered he had co-edited a new story collection called Griots (2011). I bought it and found it to be one of the best batches of fantasy stories I’d read in years. It introduced me to the term sword & soul, as well as some very good writers, such as Carole McDonnell, P. Djeli Clark, and Milton Davis himself….

(14) CLASH OF THE TITANS. In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport says the battle between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos over NASA contracts is getting increasingly personal, with Musk’s SpaceX ahead on technical issues but Bezos fighting back not only on NASA contracts awarded to Space X but also trying to block Space X’s plan to build thousands of small satellites for Internet communications. “Elon Musk is dominating the space race. Jeff Bezos is trying to fight back”.

For years, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have sparred over the performance of their rockets and space companies in a simmering feud that flared during a fight over who could use a NASA launchpad and which company was the first to successfully land a rocket.

But now the two billionaires, among the world’s richest men, are waging an increasingly bitter battle that pits two enormous business empires in clashes that are playing out in the courts, the Federal Communications Commission and the halls of Congress in what’s become one of the greatest business rivalries in a generation….

(15) THE MEANING OF NONLIFE. The New York Times’ Brian Ng considers, “Could Robots From Boston Dynamics Beat Me in a Fight?”

…Boston Dynamics has uploaded videos like this for more than a decade, cataloging the progress of its creations as they grow more lifelike, and more unsettling. One of its models is a robotic dog called Spot, with four legs and, sometimes, a “neck” topped with a camera “head” — an android’s best friend.

Although the company maintains that its creations are research projects, it does sell Spot and has leased one to the N.Y.P.D. It could have been used to accomplish tasks too risky for a living being, such as delivering food in a hostage situation or checking areas with high amounts of radiation. But its appearance accompanying police officers during an arrest in public housing sparked enough public backlash for its trial to be prematurely terminated. People found the robodog both wasteful and chilling, especially in the possession of the institution most likely to use force against them. It surely didn’t help that the robodog looked quite similar to the horrific killer machines in an episode of the show “Black Mirror” called “Metalhead” — probably because the show’s creator Charlie Brooker, who wrote the episode, was inspired by previous Boston Dynamics videos.

We can ask the same question of the Atlas: What is it for? The video only shows us what it can do. For now, the robots don’t want anything; apart from not falling over, they await a reason for being. The company says the goal is to create robots that can perform mundane tasks in all sorts of terrain, but the video contains no such tasks; we see only feats of agility, not the routine functions these robots would be back-flipping toward. Through this gap enter the tendrils of sinister speculation…..

(16) BOOKS IN SIGHT. Marie Powell’s adventures in castle-hopping across North Wales resulted in her award-winning historical fantasy series, Last of the Gifted. Spirit Sight (Book 1) and Water Sight (Book 2). An omnibus volume of the two books is coming out in October. And the audiobook of Spirit Sight is available from Kindle, Amazon.ca, Audible, and Apple.

Two siblings pledge their magic to protect their people from the invading English, with the help of the last true Prince of Wales—after his murder.

Welsh warrior-in-training Hyw can control the minds of birds and animals.

His sister Catrin can see the future in a drop of water.

Now Hyw and Catrin must stretch their gifts to stand between their people and the ruthless army of Edward I (a.k.a. Longshanks). When the prince is slain, Hyw’s gift allows him to meld with the prince’s spirit, to guide them in fighting back against the English invaders.

This award-winning medieval fantasy combines magic, mythology, and historical legends with the realities of 13th Century Wales.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/26/21 I Am Just A Filer, Though My Story’s Seldom Scrolled

(1) COZY CATASTROPHES. James Davis Nicoll told me this is “A happy Monday piece.” Makes me worry about what the rest of the week is going to look like: “Five Classic SFF Novels About Environmental Disaster” at Tor.com.

The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham (1953)

This cozy catastrophe stands out because it’s a rare book in which humans are not to blame for deadly environmental changes. The novel begins quietly, as a meteor shower splashes down in Earth’s oceans. English Broadcasting Company reporters Mike and Phyllis Watson, who document the escalating crisis, see nothing alarming. Initially.

Unfortunately for the former rulers of Earth, the objects were spacecraft, delivering the planet’s new owners to Earth’s oceans. At first these enigmatic beings limit themselves to sampling the inhabitants of an occasional village to better understand their new home. Once they’ve settled in—and particularly once humans attempt to nuke the settlers—the aquatic aliens decide to conduct planetary improvements. Which is to say, they begin melting ice caps, providing themselves with more aquatic lebensraum. This also drowns the coastlines where atom bomb-wielding, land-dwelling pests tend to congregate.

(2) TWICE THE SPICE. Boing Boing spotted an Instagram post that edits the new Dune trailer into a comparison with David Lynch’s adaptation from the Eighties: “Watch: A spicy side-by-side of Dune (1984) and Dune (2021)”. See it at the link.

The newest sci-fi spectacular that is Dennis Villeneuve’s Dune might not include David Lynch’s battle pugs, but it does include some startling similarities with the original 1984 film.

(3) UNTRUE GRIT. A ZDnet writer says he got suspended for this: “On Facebook, quoting ‘Dune’ gets you suspended while posting COVID and vaccine misinformation gets you recommended”.

…[A] managing editor for commerce of our sister site, CNET, was beaming on Facebook about how he was able to get in to see a sneak preview of Dune, the Denis Villeneuve-directed film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi epic that is due for a late October release.

I’m sure many other people are as excited as I am about this movie. So I quoted [in reply] the duel scene in question, in which Sting, playing the charismatic and psychotic Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen, shouts, “I -WILL- kill you.” I even put it in quotes so that there was no question I was quoting the film.

I thought nothing of it. I went about the rest of my evening. About an hour later, I was notified by Facebook that I was suspended for three days due to violating Community Standards.

I was shocked. Suspended for quoting a film? Without even using any obscenities? This seems… extreme.

Obviously, I had no intention of killing Russell Holly, envious as I was that he got to see this film months before anyone else. I am also not in the practice of murdering my editorial colleagues with poisoned daggers, as anyone at ZDNet will tell you….

(4) LEVY HASKELL HONORED. Stinson, a nationwide legal firm, recognized employee Fred Levy Haskell, a Minneapolis fan, with an award: “Stinson Staff Honored as Unsung Legal Heroes in Missouri and Minnesota: Stinson LLP Law Firm”

Stinson LLP is proud to announce 2021 Unsung Legal Heroes award recipients for Missouri and Minnesota. 

…Levy Haskell, work product support specialist, is based in Minneapolis. He is recognized for the guidance and optimism he provided to his team, as well as the complex tools he implemented during the transition to working remotely. Fred is appreciated for his upbeat nature and willingness to help anyone at the firm.  

(5) J.K. ON THE BBC. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] J. K. Rowling seriously considered writing Harry Potter under a pseudonym and confirmed she conceived his series on a delayed, crowded rail train.  The Poet Laureate Has Gone to His Shed is a BBC Radio 4 series in which the Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, talks to poets and writers in his garden shed.  An episode this weekend had J.K. Rowling as the guest. (You can also listen to extended version.)

She revealed that she too writes in a shed-like outhouse in her garden. Like Simon’s, it too is devoid of internet access so as to rid distraction.  She revealed that she had seriously considered writing Harry Potter under a pseudonym using the name ‘Oliver’. She also said that she and her publisher decided to use the gender neutral ‘J. K.’ abbreviation.  She confirmed the story that the idea for Harry Potter came to her on a long-delayed and crowded train from Manchester to London.

She said that she always wanted to be a writer ever since she realised that the stories her mother read to her were written by someone.

With regards to writing, she says that her drafts are all hand written and outlines are in notebooks (which nobody has ever seen). The advantage, she said, of hand writing drafts is that using a word processor sees early versions deleted and once gone, are gone. The problem here is that sometimes she finds dialogue or a scene simply has not worked and that she realised that an earlier version had a better staring point for taking in a slightly different direction. Hand-written records are therefore very valuable. Simon Armitage confirmed that he too writes by hand. He said it was important for a writer to access the archaeology of the writing process.

Subsequent to the ‘Potter’ books, J. K. Rowling had been writing crime novels as Robert Galbraith. (The lawyer who outed her was fined £1,000 for breaching privacy rules.) Initially, though the Galbraith books had had critical acclaim, they had no commercial success, that came following the outing.  Simon Armitage asked Rowling as to choose her favourite of two other well-known crime writers: Ruth Rendall or P. D. James. Rowling, with difficulty went for P. D. James.

(6) SHELL GAME. Atlas Obscura ponders “Why Is the World Always on the Back of a Turtle?” Yes, Discworld gets mentioned.

ANYONE WHO’S EVER HEARD THE expression “it’s turtles all the way down” is probably familiar with the image of the world being carried on the back of a giant turtle. While that philosophical one-liner is of relatively modern vintage, the cosmic turtle mytheme has appeared in disparate cultures across the globe for millennia. In honor of everyone’s favorite intellectual quandary, let’s take a moment to celebrate the tortoises that hold up the world.

In his book Researches Into the Early History of Mankind and the Development of Civilization, the turn-of-the-20th-century anthropologist Edward Burnett Tylor writes that the world turtle concept likely first appeared in Hindu mythology. In one Vedic story, the form of the god Vishnu’s second avatar, Kurma, is a great turtle, which provides a celestial foundation upon which a mountain is balanced….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

  • 2008 – Thirteen years ago this month, Robert Holdstock’s Avilion would be published. Set in his Ryhope Wood series, it was nominated for a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. It would be the final work from this author as he died in-hospital at the age of sixty-one from an E. coli infection on the 29th of November 2009. He would be honored with The Karl Edward Wagner Award from the British Fantasy Society the following year.  And they would rename their best fantasy novel award in his honor – now called the BFS Robert Holdstock Award. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 26, 1894 Aldous Huxley. Brave New World is fascinating. I knew I had it assigned and sort of discussed in a High School class and at least one Uni class a very long time ago. So what else is genre by him and worth reading? I see his Time Must Have a Stop novel was on the long list at CoNZealand. (Died 1963.)
  • Born July 26, 1928 Stanley Kubrick. I’m reasonably sure 2001: A Space Odyssey was the first film I saw by him but Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb was the one that impressed me the most. A Clockwork Orange was just too damn depressing. And I’m not a horror fan as such so I never saw The ShiningBarry Lyndon is great but it’s not genre by any means. (Died 1999.)
  • Born July 26, 1945 Helen Mirren, 76. She first graces our presence as Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She next shows up in a genre role as Alice Rage in The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, Peter Sellar’s last film. She’s an ever so delicious Morgana in Excalibur and then leaps into the future as Tanya Kirbuk in 2010: The Year We Make Contact. She voices the evil lead role in The Snow Queen, and likewise is Deep Thought in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. She was recently in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms as Mother Ginger, regent of the Land of Amusements. Her next genre role is in the forthcoming Shazam! Fury of the Gods as Hespera.
  • Born July 26, 1945 M. John Harrison, 76. Winner of the Otherwise Award. TheViriconium sequence, I hesitate to call it a series, starting with The Pastel City, is some of the most elegant fantasy I’ve read. And I see he’s a SJW as he’s written the Tag, the Cat series which I need to take a look at. He’s also a major critic for the past thirty years reviewing fiction and nonfiction for The GuardianThe Daily Telegraph, the Times Literary Supplement and The New York Times. He’s lightly stocked at the usual suspects though TheViriconium sequence is there at a very reasonable price. 
  • Born July 26, 1954 Lawrence Watt-Evans, 67. Ok I’ll admit that I’ve not read “Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers” which won him a short fiction Hugo at Conspiracy ’87. It also was nominated for a Nebula and won an Asimov’s Reader’s Poll that year. It’d be his only Hugo. So I’m curious what Hugo voters saw in it. Yes, I’ve read him — his War Surplus series is quite excellent.
  • Born July 26, 1957 Nana Visitor, 64. Kira Nerys on Deep Space Nine which for my money is the second best of the Trek series to date and I’m including the present series in that assessment. After DS9 ended, Visitor had a recurring role as villain Dr. Elizabeth Renfro on Dark Angel. In 1987, Visitor appeared as Ellen Dolan in a never developed series pilot for Will Eisner’s The Spirit with Sam J. Jones as The Spirit. And she had a brief role in Torchwood: Miracle Day.
  • Born July 26, 1964 Sandra Bullock, 57. First film role was in, I kid you not, Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman, also Demolition Man, Practical Magic and Gravity to name but three of her other genre appearances.
  • Born July 26, 1969 Tim Lebbon, 52. For my money, his best series is The Hidden Cities one he did with Christopher Golden though his Relics series with protagonist Angela Gough is quite superb as well. He dips into the Hellboy universe with two novels, Unnatural Selection and Fire Wolves, rather capably. I’ve got his Firefly novel, Generations, in my Audible queue.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side depends on a literary reference – which I’m confident you’ll all get.

(10) WORKING TOGETHER. Literary agent Mark Gottlieb posted the interview that he conducted with Willam F. Nolan and Jason Brock shortly before Nolan’s death on July 15: “In Memory of Award-winning Author and Creator of Logan’s Run William F. Nolan”.

What is it like working together in a collaboration as two authors?

Nolan: Well, I have collaborated quite a bit in my career. I worked on the screenplay to Burnt Offerings with producer/director Dan Curtis, for example. I did most of the adaptation of Marasco’s novel, but Dan and I worked on other elements together. Of course, I co-wrote Logan’s Run with my dear friend George Clayton Johnson. That started as an idea of mine, but as the book took shape George added some fine elements. We literally typed the whole thing from notes in three weeks! We spelled one another on the typewriter in a hotel. I did the final polish later. Jason and I have worked on a lot of pieces together, also, but I’ll let him talk about that.

Brock: I come from a background in music, and having a band is quite collaborative. Also, I am a filmmaker, having completed two documentaries and working on others, and film in general is extremely collaborative. So, writing is a pretty easy way to work together as there are fewer people involved, at least in the active writing phase, as opposed to editing and preparing for publication. As long as the coauthors share roughly the same vision for the outcome, getting there can be a lot of fun, actually. It’s surprising the places a piece can go when you write something, then have the other person take your concepts and spin them, then you do that to theirs, etc. It’s a rush.

(11) A DIFFERENT TAKE ON D&D. Areo’s Christopher Ferguson restrains his enthusiasm, but what do you think? “Sensitive Masters and Wheelchair Accessible Torture Chambers: Dungeons & Dragons in the Culture War Era”.

…The collection is, indeed, progressive in tone. It has been noted that it includes a wheelchair accessible dungeon (a cause celebre for progressive members of gaming communities, though wheelchairs aren’t specifically mentioned in the book) and numerous nonplayer characters who use they/them pronouns. The collection also signals progressivism in other ways—for example, the new adventures de-emphasise the idea that good or evil motives are inherent traits of monster races. (This is a response to those who have protested that the attribution of inherent bad traits to this group is analogous to racism in real life.) And it includes a trigger warning of sorts: the accompanying book begins with a section titled “Be a Sensitive Dungeon Master,” which uses progressive buzzwords such as trigger and unsafe….

(12) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Let the BBC break it to you: “Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson may not be astronauts, US says”.

…The Commercial Astronaut Wings programme updates were announced on Tuesday – the same day that Amazon’s Mr Bezos flew aboard a Blue Origin rocket to the edge of space.

To qualify as commercial astronauts, space-goers must travel 50 miles (80km) above the Earth’s surface, which both Mr Bezos and Mr Branson accomplished.

But altitude aside, the agency says would-be astronauts must have also “demonstrated activities during flight that were essential to public safety, or contributed to human space flight safety”….

I think this reminds me of a scene in The Right Stuff where test pilots insisted the Mercury capsule needed a window and some flight control capability. Because they weren’t just the human counterparts of the monkeys that had been shot into space.

(13) HEY, I GREW UP HERE. “This quirky L.A. museum is dedicated to San Fernando Valley history” – the Washington Post has the story.

…Of the thousands of artifacts displayed here, Gelinas says, it’s the extensive collection of electric and neon signs, some with graffiti still intact, that are the museum’s biggest draw. A neon sign from the now-defunct, iconic, Palomino Club, a famed North Hollywood country music venue that hosted talent such as Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline and Tanya Tucker, is a crowd favorite, he reports. Other signs in the extensive collection include one from a Jewish deli, a Van de Kamp’s Holland Dutch Bakery complete with windmill and a galloping horse that once advertised a local liquor store.

…Of the collection, Gelinas says, 25 percent is donated while the other 75 percent is “rescued,” as in Gelinas and his team get a call to come take an item that might be destroyed. These “History Watchdogs,” as he refers to them, call when beloved area signage or iconography is in danger of being torn down. When that happens, Gelinas says, he and his team of loyal museum volunteers, many of whom have been specially trained in removal techniques, take great pains to make sure things are done well.

(14) DC AT SDCC. During the DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow Comic-Con@Home panel on Sunday, the cast and showrunners unveiled a sneak peek at the remainder of the show’s sixth season — think bowling, board games, aliens, weddings, magic mushrooms, and a whole lot of dark drama involving John Constantine.

[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Joe H.]

Pixel Scroll 7/20/21 Sixteen Kzin And Whaddaya Get

(1) WE MADE IT. As you surely already know, “Jeff Bezos just went to space and back”CNN has the details.

Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, went to space and back Tuesday morning on an 11-minute, supersonic joy ride aboard the rocket and capsule system developed by his space company, Blue Origin.

Riding alongside the multibillionaire were Bezos’ brother, Mark Bezos; Wally Funk, an 82-year-old pilot and one of the “Mercury 13” women who trained to go to space in the 20th century but never got to fly; and an 18-year old recent high school graduate named Oliver Daemen who was Blue Origin’s first paying customer and whose father, an investor, purchased his ticket.

Funk and Daemen became the oldest and youngest people, respectively, ever to travel to space. And this flight marked the first-ever crewed mission for Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital space tourism rocket, which the company plans to use to take wealthy thrill seekers on high-flying joy rides in the months and years to come….

(2) THE REACTION. People found ways to have fun with today’s headline story.

  • Jennifer Hawthorne noted, “There’s a bunch of these on a similar theme on Twitter today.”

(3) NEED FOR SPEED. [Item by Dann.] Leave it to the Banana Jr. 6000 to finally find out where Calvin went when he grew up: see Berkeley Breathed’s Facebook page, That is not the most unusual thing I’ve typed this week.  But it’s close!

(4) HUGO VOTER PACKET. DisCon III notified members today they have made additions to the Hugo Voter Packet.

Since you’ve already downloaded some or all of the Hugo Awards Packet, we want to let you know that we have uploaded new or revised material in the following categories:

  • Best Novelette
  • Best Series
  • Best Editor, Short Form
  • Best Fancast
  • Best Video Game

Additionally, a portion of Sheila Williams’ packet materials in Best Editor, Short Form, was blank, and we have uploaded the corrected documents. We sincerely apologize to Sheila for our error.

(5) PRO TIP. Every writer has bad days. That’s Jane Yolen’s message today on Facebook:

One book turned down, four poems rejected. That is how my day has started. But movement is all. Those poems, that book can now go to it next round. That book editor can be sent a new mss. There is no real downside to this.

Reminder: A Wrinkle in Time was rejected by 29 editors.

It took 20 years to sell my book with grandaughter,: Nana Dances. Coming out this month.

To Think That I Saw It On Market Street was rejected over 30 times and Suess was about to self-publish when Bennett Cerf began Random House,

Owl Moon was turned down by 5 editors as too quiet.

Sleeping Ugly was dumped by 13.

Smile, move on, and have the last laugh and the last dance with the SMART editor!

(6) PROJECT HAIL MARY NARRATOR SPEAKS. AudioFile features the narrator of Project Hail Mary in their short video “Behind the Mic with Ray Porter”.

From his very own home studio located somewhere in outer space, narrator Ray Porter shares why he loved recording Project Hail Mary, the fantastical space opera from Andy Weir (The Martian). After listening to Ray’s narration, you might feel the same way he does—sad the audiobook is over.

(7) WHY SPY. At CrimeReads, sf writer Alma Katsu interviews Owen Mathews about his novel Red Traitor. “Alma Katsu and Owen Matthews on Ideal Spies, Historical Fiction, and the Russia-West Divide”.

Katsu: Was there something you felt was lacking in the genre that you wanted to correct? Something overlooked that deserved to be highlighted?

Matthews: Every writer needs his protagonist to have a secret, and for him to be hunted. And the world of spies gives you that plot structure on a plate—what greater secret is there than to be a spy, and what better chase is there than a spy hunt? As for wanting to correct a genre or highlight a point, I think every writer worth their salt writes because they think they can tell a story better, move movingly, more excitingly, than the next guy. I would add that most of the actual spies that I have known are actually far less interesting and lead much more boring lives than one would like to imagine, so that banal reality needs to be corrected with a heavy dose of fictional jeopardy. 

(8) MORE GOOD STUFF. [Item by JJ.] One of the stories in John Joseph Adams’ and Veronica Roth’s Best American Science Fiction And Fantasy 2021 anthology came from the Take Us To A Better Place: Stories anthology which is available as a free download in both English and Spanish. Features stories by: Madeline Ashby, Hannah Lillith Assadi, Calvin Baker, Frank Bill, Yoon Ha Lee, Karen Lord, Mike McClelland, Achy Obejas, David A. Robertson & Selena Goulding, and Martha Wells

Unfortunately, you have to have an account with either Amazon/Kindle, Apple/iBooks, or B&N/Nook to get the free ebook, but there is also a PDF available.

(9) GRRM HITS THE ROAD. George R.R. Martin told Not A Blog readers about his trip “Back to the Midwest” to receive his honorary doctorate at Northwestern University (see his Graduation Speech on YouTube) and enjoy some other adventures. He also gave an interview to a local PBS station (linked from his post). Hopefully he was well-rested by the time he got home because —

…Of course, during my ten days on the road and away from the internet, the email piled up, and I found some eight hundred letters waiting for me on my return.   Which may help explain why I am weeks late in making this post, but…

(10) SCARS OF A LIFETIME. At CBR.com, “Alan Moore’s Daughter Explains His Anger at the Entertainment Industry”.

Leah Moore, a writer and the daughter of comic book icon, Alan Moore, responded to the discussion of a recent Hollywood Reporter article about comic book writers not being fairly compensated financially for their work by noting that the things discussed in the article are part of the reason why her father is so angry at the entertainment industry.

Moore has been quite open over the years in defense of her famous father, as she dislikes the idea that his anger has been portrayed as though he is being unreasonable when she obviously feels that it is not, and articles like the Hollywood Reporter one let people in on just how messed up things can be for even the top comic book writers of the world like Alan Moore (for instance, the article cites complaints from Ed Brubaker and Ta-Nehisi Coates, two of the most successful comic book writers working today).

(11) MEMORY LANE.

  • Between 1956 and 1967, Robert Heinlein would win four Hugos for Best Novel. His first win would be for Double Star at NyCon II followed four years at Pittcon for Starship Troopers. Two years later at Chicon III, he’d get his third for Stranger in a Strange Land.  His last of the four wins in the period, and indeed his last ever Hugo (not counting Retro Hugos of which he’d  later win seven), would be at NyCon 3 for The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 20, 1924 —  Lola Albright. Though she’s best remembered best known for playing the sultry singer Edie Hart, the girlfriend of private eye Peter Gunn, she did do some genre performances. She’s Cathy Barrett, one of the leads in the Fifties film The Monolith Monsters, and television was her home in the Fifties and Sixties. She was on Tales of Tomorrow as Carol Williams in the “The Miraculous Serum” episode, Nancy Metcalfe on Rocket Squad in “The System” episode, repeated appearances on the various Alfred Hitchcock series, and even on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in the episodes released as the feature length film The Helicopter Spies. She was Azalea. (Died 2017.)
  • Born July 20, 1930 Sally Ann Howes, 91. Best remembered as being Truly Scrumptious on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. She was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical  for her performance in Brigadoon. And I’ll note her playing Anna Leonowens In The King & I as Ricardo Montalbán played the lead role as that’s genre as well.
  • Born July 20, 1931 Donald Moffitt. Author of the Baroness thriller series, somewhat akin to Bond and Blaise, but not quite. Great popcorn literature. Some SF, two in his Mechanical Skyseries, Crescent in the Sky and A Gathering of Stars, another two in his Genesis Quest series, Genesis Quest and Second Genesis, plus several one-offs. (Died 2014.)
  • Born July 20, 1938 Diana Rigg, née Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg. Emma Peel of course in The Avengers beside Patrick Macnee as John Steed. Best pairing ever. Played Sonya Winter in The Assassination Bureau followed by being Contessa Teresa “Tracy” Draco di Vicenzo Bond on On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. By the Eighties, she’s doing lighter fare such as being Lady Holiday in The Great Muppet Caper and Miss Hardbroom in The Worst Witch, not to mention The Evil Queen, Snow White’s evil stepmother in Snow White. Next she would get a meaty role in Game of Thrones when she was Olenna Tyrell. Oh, and she showed up in Dr. Who during the Era of the Eleventh Doctor as Mrs. Winifred Gillyflower in the “The Crimson Horror” episode. (Died 2020.)
  • Born July 20, 1942 Richard Delap. Canadain fanzine writer who wrote for Granfalloon and Yandro. He nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twice but lost to Harry Warner, Jr. at St.Louiscon, and Wilson Tucker at Heicon ‘70. He published Delap’s F&SF Review. He co-edited The Essential Harlan Ellison. He died of AIDS complications just after it was published. (Died 1987.) 
  • Born July 20, 1957 Michael ‘Mike’ Gilbert. A fan artist in the late ’60s in Locus and other fanzines as well as an author, and publishing professional. Locus notes his wife was the co-publisher of DAW Books, and Mike worked in both editorial and art capacities at DAW, and was one of their primary first readers. (Died 2000.)
  • Born July 20, 1959 Martha Soukup, 62. The 1994 short film Override, directed by Danny Glover, was based on her short story “Over the Long Haul”. It was his directorial debut. She has two collections, Collections Rosemary’s Brain: And Other Tales of Wonder and The Arbitrary Placement of Walls, both published in the Nineties.  She won a Nebula Award for Best Short Story for “A Defense of the Social Contracts”. “The Story So Far’ by her is available as the download sample at the usual suspects  in Schimel’s Things Invisible to See anthology if you’d liked to see how she is as a writer. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side has a genre-adjacent airborne calamity.
  • Lio knows who this call is for.

(14) CLOSING TIME? In “Exterminate! Exterminate! Why it’s time for Doctor Who to die”, The Guardian’s Martin Belam says Doctor Who looks tired.  

…As someone who loved Tom Baker as the Doctor in the 70s, I have found the success of the 2005 revival wonderful to watch. But while Doctor Who looks better than it ever has – the sequences of the Cybermen marching through their battle cruiser towards the end of the last season were worth the price of admission alone – everything around it feels tired.

The ability to travel anywhere in time and space makes Doctor Who a series that could potentially tell a million brilliant different stories, and Chibnall’s innovation of “the Timeless Child”, meaning there are potentially dozens of guest star Doctors Who we have never met before, opens it up to go in new directions.

But it doesn’t feel as if it is close to telling a million brilliant stories. It feels as if it is telling an increasingly self-absorbed meta-story about its own run, accompanied by a very vocal online fandom that isn’t quite sure what it wants, but knows it doesn’t want this.

Maybe the BBC needs to try something other than carrying on. A break. A feature film. A co-production deal. An anthology series featuring familiar characters from the Whoniverse who aren’t the Doctor. Anything other than slowly grinding out another couple of series formatted as if it were still 2005….

(15) GORN TOON. Here’s a piece by artist Jacob Paik (http://jpaikmedia.com/) of the Gorn captain from the Star Trek episode “Arena.” (Click on image to see it completely.) 

(16) RESISTANCE MAY BE THE POINT. Nature tells why “Massive DNA ‘Borg’ structures perplex scientists”.

The Borg have landed — or, at least, researchers have discovered their counterparts here on Earth. Scientists analysing samples from muddy sites in the western United States have found novel DNA structures that seem to scavenge and ‘assimilate’ genes from microorganisms in their environment, much like the fictional Star Trek ‘Borg’ aliens who assimilate the knowledge and technology of other species.

These extra-long DNA strands, which the scientists named in honour of the aliens, join a diverse collection of genetic structures — circular plasmids, for example — known as extrachromosomal elements (ECEs). Most microbes have one or two chromosomes that encode their primary genetic blueprint. But they can host, and often share between them, many distinct ECEs. These carry non-essential but useful genes, such as those for antibiotic resistance.

Borgs are a previously unknown, unique and “absolutely fascinating” type of ECE, says Jill Banfield, a geomicrobiologist at the University of California, Berkeley. She and her colleagues describe their discovery of the structures in a preprint posted to the server bioRxiv1. The work is yet to be peer-reviewed….

(17) VON WITTING’S FB ACCOUNT DIES THE DEATH. Well-known European fan Wolf von Witting (who wrote a guest post for us in March, “Inexplicable Phenomena and How To Approach Them”) announced to his mailing list that he has abandoned Facebook after the following experience:

On July 15th Facebook locked my account because of suspicious activity.

What I did, was trying to log in from Bucharest.

My Yahoo-mail service also noted an unexpected login and sent an alert to my other email accounts. I simply confirmed it was me by following the given instructions.

With Facebook it was not so smooth. Not even the link from my Yahoo account could open it. I read somebody’s story about how difficult it was for him to get his account back, once it had been locked. I refuse to follow Facebook’s complicated and intrusive demands to re-open my account.

Today I sent them my final message, which I doubt they will read. Same as all the other messages I sent. They have my email, so in theory they could be answering, were they not too big for their own good. The story of the other guy concluded with “They have all the power.”

I disagree. I have the power not to associate with such poor totalitarian service. They can literally stuff the account where the sun doesn’t shine. They have my blessing. I won’t be using it any further. Ever.

My final message to Fb was as follows:

“Why do you have this function? It fills no purpose. No one appears to be reading it. No one answers. Nothing happens. I might as well talk to a dead fish. Why would I want to have back such bad and unreliable service? I thought about it and decided to not waste any more time with you. I am most certainly not going to jump through any of your hoops. Keep it! And do continue to saw off the branch you are sitting on. See where it gets you. You have my blessing. And this concludes our relationship.”

(499 of 500 possible characters used)

In my opinion, Facebook is an evil entity. It is my duty to oppose a totalitarian attitude.

Their service has not only proven unreliable, but also damaging. An article in the next issue of CoClock will deal with my damage control measures.

In the end I only feel free of another oppressor, big brother (in the bad sense) and social vampire.

A huge thank you, to Yahoo mail, which has worked without problems for 25 years.

This is now the ONLY way to communicate with me.

(18) MUGGLE TECH. SYFY Wire introduces another season of a YouTube series aimed at film fans: “Could You Survive the Movies? Season 2 clip explores Harry Potter”. If you lose your magic but still have science, maybe.

Merlin’s pants! Could You Survive the Movies? is officially back for a second season and SYFY WIRE has an exclusive first look at the Harry Potter episode debuting later this week. Hosted by Vsauce3’s Jake Roper, the YouTube Original series is basically MythBusters for die-hard cinephiles. Each episode tries to answer whether or not movie lovers would be able to live through the events of Hollywood’s most iconic films.

In this week’s magical installment, Jake plays a version of Mr. Potter, who loses all of his magical powers to a feared, Voldemort-esque dark wizard….

(19) AI ASTAIRE. Imagine what AI powered machines will be able to do in the next 5-10 years. (Boston Dynamics machines flawlessly and soulfully dancing in rhythm, video first posted in 2020). 

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Black Widow” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies say this film falls the familiar plot of “keeping important object X out of the hands of military leader Y by taking down massive airship Z.”  Plus Florence Pugh fans can see her morph from “the mischievous, braided-hair sister” in Little Women to the “mischievous, braided-hair sister in Little Women who has killed hundreds of people.”

[Thanks to Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Jennifer Hawthorne, Rich Lynch, Ben Bird Person, Wolf Von Witting, Dann, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 7/19/21 Like A Mouse Over Troubled Pixels, I Will Scroll The File

(1) KOWAL ON WALLY FUNK. The New York Times has run an essay by Lady Astronaut author (and DisCon III chair) Mary Robinette Kowal on Wally Funk. “Wally Funk’s Launch With Jeff Bezos Defies 60 Years of Exclusion From Space”. (Registration may be required.)

Ms. Funk’s trip to space with Jeff Bezos is reason to celebrate. But the launch this week, decades after she was denied the opportunity, also raises questions about whom space is for.

(2) APEX APPEAL. Apex Publications has launched a Kickstarter to fund Apex Magazine 2022. On the first day people have contributed $5,325 of its $10,000 goal. Editor-in-Chief Jason Sizemore says:

The last few years of Apex Magazine (including 2021), we’ve produced an incredible run of transformative and diverse fiction. We relaunched with Fargo Tbakhi’s “Root Rot,” a timely tale regarding colonization. “Mr. Death” by Alix E. Harrow threaded the needle between heartbreaking and hopefulness. Sam J. Miller celebrated the power of music in “A Love That Burns Hot Enough to Last: Deleted Scenes from a Documentary.”

We published back-to-back Hugo Award winners (2018 & 2019) in the category of Best Short Fiction (“Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™” by Rebecca Roanhorse and “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies” by Alix E. Harrow, respectively) and the 2017 Hugo Award winner in the category of Best Novelette (“The Tomato Thief” by Ursula Vernon). Fiction from Apex Magazine has also won the Nebula Award, Locus Award, and numerous others.

In addition to our phenomenal fiction, every issue of Apex Magazine offers evocative cover art, thought-provoking nonfiction, author and  artist interviews, and a professional-quality podcast produced by KT Bryski.

All these wonderful things would exist if not for the community of readers, creators, and staff—the extended Apex family. Thank you so much for your love and continued support!

The Apex Magazine 2022 Kickstarter also promises: “Should we fund, we will commission new original fiction from five writers who we think embodies the type of bold, diverse work we seek to publish.” Those writers are: Gabino Iglesias, Jennifer Marie Brissett, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, Samit Basu, and Lavie Tidhar.

(3) THE OOPS DIRECTIVE. James Davis Nicoll makes you wonder if there would be a story if people followed the rules. There’s plenty where they don’t, as James shows in “Five SF Stories About Disobeying Non-Interference Directives” at Tor.com.

…For historical reasons—that throughout Earth history, first contact between dissimilar cultures was generally followed by vigorous efforts by whichever culture enjoyed a military advantage to strip-mine the other of goods and services—many science fiction authors (particularly during the mid-century period when various empires were winding down) gave their settings laws encouraging non-interference. One might call this a Prime Directive….

(4) HELP REQUESTED. The“Fundraiser by Adam-Troy Castro : In the Aftermath of Unexpected Death” is a GoFundMe brought on by the sudden death of his wife, Judi. It has raised $26,979 so far.

…She was also, through her own income, the chief support of our family. I am a writer and my money comes in irregularly, sometimes in decent sized chunks (like last week, but delayed for a year by COVID), sometimes in tiny little amounts. I am going to have to restructure my new life as a freshly minted widower, and I will, but in the interim our fragile climb back to solvency has been slammed back to the earth. I am in big, big trouble; destitute with debt still looming.

I damn the whims of fate.

I am not the kind of person who finds this easy. It hurts me to type these words, and I am intensely self-conscious about asking for help this soon after the last time. I can tell you that I did not want the prior worst period of my life to be followed so soon by another loss that is even more primal, even more destructive. I have had no time to think, just arranging the memorial — and I am sure that the bills for her time for the ICU, after insurance, will be coming, inevitable and unswayed by sentiment, even as we run late on bills that would have normally been her duty to pay. (She died in a distant city, in the home of a family we were pet-sitting for, so we are far from our records, from our mailing address, and…this is a pyramid, folks. It gets higher and higher.)

If you knew Judi at all, you loved her. If you know me at all, maybe you have some of that same feeling. I have to jettison pride. She has left me bereft. I will be deeply grateful for any help you can give,

(5) SPACE JAM RULES AT BOX OFFICE. Critical reviews did not keep Space Jam: A New Legacy from overtaking Black Widow in theater ticket sales last weekend.

The Hollywood Reporter starts the ball rolling:

Space Jam: A New Legacy, starring the basketball great [LeBron James], beat holdover Black Widow to top the chart with a better-than-expected domestic debut of $31.7 million from 3,956 theaters.

Marvel and Disney’s Black Widow fell to No. 2 in its second outing with $26.3 million. The superhero pic suffered a steep 67 percent decline, one of the biggest drops ever for a Marvel title, and the worst among the Marvel films released by Disney. The decline underscores that the box office recovery is far from over; also, the tentpole is available in the home via Disney+ Premier Access (piracy is another problem)….

Deadline notes that’s the steepest second-weekend drop ever for a Disney-distributed MCU title, beating Ant-Man and the Wasp (62 percent). They say piracy is a big problem: “’Black Widow’ Post Steep Box Office Drop For MCU Title; Disney Mum On PVOD”.

…Fact: Black Widow was the most-pirated movie last week on Torrent Freak, ahead of The Tomorrow War in the No. 2 spot. I understand from sources that have seen several piracy reports that apparently Black Widow might be the most-pirated title to date during the pandemic, ahead of Wonder Woman 1984.

Studios go to extra lengths to encrypt and watermark their movies before release. Pristine copies of a tentpole spell death at the box office, and they further spell death here on both the box office and Disney+ Premier side.

Many of these piracy sites dress themselves up with images from the film to make it look like they’re legit. One industry analytics source informed me over the weekend that in one study they did for a studio, it showed that these piracy sites were the No. 1 means for those at home to watch movies, not Disney+ or any other streamer….

The LA Times tries to account for this surprising showing: “’Space Jam’ sequel unseats ‘Black Widow’ at the top of the box office”:

…Not many expected “Space Jam: A New Legacy” to pull off this win. The poorly reviewed film was pegged for an opening in the $20-million range. But a sizable number of families and millennials who grew up with the original “Space Jam” left the house and went to a theater to see it, even though it’s currently streaming on HBO Max free for subscribers. Not only that, audiences also gave the film a promising A- CinemaScore, suggesting word of mouth could be strong….

(6) SPEAKING UP. In the Washington Post. Michael Cavna interviews Jeff Bergman, who voices Bugs Bunny in Space Jam, met Mel Blanc once, but only met LeBron James at the premiere when he shouted something to James in his Bugs voice. “’Space Jam: A New Legacy’: The Bugs Bunny voice actor has spent a lifetime perfecting the craft”.

…After the premiere, James was surrounded by layers of fans. What could Bergman do to get the NBA star’s attention despite the distance and din? “I yelled out from about 20 feet away and said in Bugs Bunny’s voice, ‘Hey, Doc, we really are family,'” Bergman said. “He heard and saw me.” Bergman was ushered through the throng to greet him.

“He was holding his daughter and we embraced and thanked each other,” Bergman said. Even amid the crowd, it felt like “a very private congratulatory moment.”

(7) VISION AND REVISION. “At times it’s hard to believe what you see” it says on the cover of Dragons Walk Among Us, source of “The Big Idea: Dan Rice” at Whatever.

Is there a world before our eyes that most people overlook? What are the ramifications for someone who can see the unseeable? This is the big idea behind my debut novel Dragons Walk Among Us.

I first became interested in the world that most people overlook through photography. For example, star trails illuminate landscapes that most people never experience except through photographs taken by others. What really started to fascinate me years ago are water droplets––on blades of grass, flower petals, leaves, windows, etc. Individual little worlds are scattered across the dewy grass, and most people never take the time to appreciate them. Sometimes I imagine each dewdrop is a microcosmos populated by strange creatures. I suppose on the infinitesimal scale of microbes, this is true….

(8) SALLY MILLER GEARHART (1931-2021). Author and academic Sally Miller Gearhart died July 14 at the age of 90. The Advocate has a profile about her activism and work as an educator: “Sally Gearhart, Veteran Activist and Academic, Dead at 90”.

…Gearhart, a Virginia native, taught for many years at San Francisco State University, where in 1973 she became the first out lesbian to be named to a tenure-track position (at the school and, apparently, in the nation). At SF State, she established one of the first women’s and gender studies programs in the nation. She was an author of feminist science fiction as well….

The Wikipedia entry synopsizes her sff career:

…In 1978, her most famous novel, The Wanderground, was published, exploring themes of ecofeminism and lesbian separatism. She wrote two books as part of the Earthkeep trilogy, The Kanshou, published in 2002, and The Magister, published in 2003. Both stories explore a dystopian world where women outnumber men, and humans are the only beings on the planet.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1976 – Forty-five years ago, Roger Zelazny’s “Home is The Hangman” novella wins the Hugo at MidAmeriCon. The other nominated works that year were “The Storms of Windhaven” by George R. R. Martin and Lisa Tuttle, “ARM” by Larry Niven, “The Silent Eyes of Time” by Algis Budrys, and “The Custodians” by Richard Cowper. It would also win a Nebula Award. His Doorways in the Sand would be nominated for Best Novel that year, finishing second to Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 19, 1883 Max Fleischer. Animator, film director and producer. He brought such animated characters as Betty Boop, Popeye and Superman to the screen and was responsible for a number of technological innovations including the Rotoscope and Stereoptical Processes. You can see Betty’s first screen appearance here in the 1930 Cartoon, “Dizzy Dishes”. (Died 1972.)
  • Born July 19, 1924 Pat Hingle. He portrayed Jim Gordon in the Burton Batman film franchise. Genre wise, he had roles in Alfred Hitchcock PresentsThe Twilight ZoneCarol for Another ChristmasMission: ImpossibleThe InvadersTarantulas: The Deadly Cargo, Amazing Stories and The Land Before Time. He would reprise his Gordon role in the Batman OnStar commercials. (Died 2009.)
  • Born July 19, 1927 Richard E. Geis. I met him at least once when I was living out West. Interesting person.  He won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twice; and whose science fiction fanzine Science Fiction Review won Hugo Awards for Best Fanzine four times. The Alien Critic won the Best Fanzine Hugo once (in a tie with Algol), and once by himself. And yes, I enjoyed reading the Science Fiction Review. I’ve not any of his handful of genre novels, and certainly haven’t encountered his softcore porn of which there’s a lot. (Died 2013.)
  • Born July 19, 1938 Jayant Vishnu Narlikar, 82. He and Fred Hoyle developed the Hoyle–Narlikar theory, which Stephen Hawking would prove is incompatible with an expanding universe. He would write two genre novels, The Return of The Vaman (translated from Marathi) and The Message from Aristarchus. His autobiography is My Tale of Four Cities: An Autobiography.
  • Born July 19, 1957 John Pelan. Committed (more or less) the act of opening serial small publishing houses in succession with the first being Axolotl Press in the mid-Eighties where he’d published the likes of de Lint and Powers (before selling it to Pulphouse Publishing) followed by Darkside Press, Silver Salamander Press and finally co-founding Midnight House. All have been inactive for quite awhile now and he’d been editing such anthologies as Tales of Terror and Torment: Stories from the Pulps, Volume 1 for other presses though even that has not happened for some years as near as I can tell. As a writer, he had more than thirty published stories and he had won both a Stoker for The Darker Side: Generations of Horror anthology and an International Horror Guild Award for his Darkside: Horror for the Next Millennium anthology. (Died 2021.)
  • Born July 19, 1963 Garth Nix, 58. Writer of children’s and young adult fantasy novels, to wit the Keys to the KingdomOld Kingdom, and Seventh Tower series. The Ragwitch which I read quite some time ago is quite excellent and being a one-off can give you a good taste of him without committing to a series. 
  • Born July 19, 1969 Kelly Link, 52. First, let me note that along with Ellen Datlow, she and her husband Gavin Grant were responsible for the last five volumes of The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror. They all did a magnificent job. All of her collections, Pretty MonstersMagic for Beginners and Get in Trouble are astonishingly good. And she’s much honored having won a Hugo Award, three Nebula Awards, a World Fantasy Award, an Otherwise Award, a Sturgeon Award and received a MacArthur Genius Grant.
  • Born July 19, 1976 Benedict Cumberbatch, 45. Confession time: I really didn’t care for him in the Sherlock Holmes series as that series didn’t work for me, nor did I think his Khan In Star Trek Into Darkness was all that interesting but his Stephen Strange In Doctor Strange was quite excellent. He did do a superb job of voicing Smaug in The Hobbit, and his Grinch-voicing in the latter film was also superb. And yes, he’s the voice of Satan in Good Omens.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) GETTING PAID. The Hollywood Reporter discovers that “Marvel, DC Offer ‘Shut Up Money’ As Comic Creators Go Public”.

… Multiple comic creators have publicly stated that DC’s payments for adaptations, in general, is higher. Comic creator Jim Starlin turned heads in 2017 when he publicly noted that Warner Bros. paid him more for a minor character that appeared in DC’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice than he received for Marvel’s major Guardians of the Galaxy characters Thanos, Gamora and Drax combined. After Starlin’s airing of grievances, Disney renegotiated his deal for Thanos, the villain of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Those films went on to gross $4.83 billion globally, and Starlin, while not sharing details of his deal, walked away happy. “The cliche is that the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” Starlin tells The Hollywood Reporter. “The way these agreements are written up, Disney can be more generous if they want. It is written right there that they can change the terms to make it better.”

There’s no legal obligation to make additional payments for adaptations, with companies such as Marvel viewing these payments as thank-you gifts — and
a way to avoid the bad publicity of warring with a creator. “It’s ‘shut-up’ money,” as one Marvel creator who receives such payments, but also declined to share details of compensation, likes to call it. Even if companies have no legal obligation to compensate these writers and artists, paying more is akin to contract renegotiations with an actor. If a TV show or movie is a smash success, studios believe it makes sense to offer an actor more money for the sequel (or the next season of TV) to keep them happy. No one wants a bitter actor on set….

(13) THE SQUAD. DC dropped a Suicide Squad “In On The Action Featurette”. Comes to HBO Max on August 6.

Welcome to hell—a.k.a. Belle Reve, the prison with the highest mortality rate in the US of A. Where the worst Super-Villains are kept and where they will do anything to get out—even join the super-secret, super-shady Task Force X. Today’s do-or-die assignment? Assemble a collection of cons, including Bloodsport, Peacemaker, Captain Boomerang, Ratcatcher 2, Savant, King Shark, Blackguard, Javelin and everyone’s favorite psycho, Harley Quinn. Then arm them heavily and drop them (literally) on the remote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese. Trekking through a jungle teeming with militant adversaries and guerrilla forces at every turn, the Squad is on a search-and-destroy mission with only Colonel Rick Flag on the ground to make them behave…and Amanda Waller’s government techies in their ears, tracking their every movement. And as always, one wrong move and they’re dead (whether at the hands of their opponents, a teammate, or Waller herself). If anyone’s laying down bets, the smart money is against them—all of them.

(14) WILLIAM F. NOLAN & CO. At the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation website, a 1999 article about the many-named writing group Christopher Conlon likes to call the “Southern California Sorcerers”.

…Group member William F. Nolan, whose film credits include Burnt Offerings and Trilogy of Terror, explains: “We’d talk plot, read stories we’d finished for opinions, talk about markets and what was selling and who was buying, discuss character development and structure, and, yes, we’d argue, but in a constructive way. We all helped each other…and inter-connected on projects.”

“Sometimes, of an evening,” Ray Bradbury has written, “Richard Matheson would toss up there merest dustfleck of a notion, which would bounce off William F. Nolan, knock against George Clayton Johnson, glance off me, and land in [Charles Beaumont’s] lap. ..Sometimes we all loved an idea so much we had to assign it to the writer present who showed the widest grin, the brightest cheeks, the most fiery eyes.”

Direct collaborations between Group members were common. And no wonder. In those early days, most of them, particularly the “inner circle” of Nolan, Charles Beaumont, George Clayton Johnson, and novelist John Tomerlin, were men in their twenties who were just beginning their careers. They found strength, encouragement, and a sense of solidarity in the company of other struggling young writers. Because of the Group, says Nolan, “We were not alone; we had each other to fire us creatively, to bounce ideas around, to solve plot problems. It was the best kind of writing class that could ever be imagined.”…

(15) YOUTH MOVEMENT. In the Washington Post, Dalvin Brown says that Facebook has come up with new software that lets robots walk like toddlers, which might be a good first step in letting robots walk like human adults. Especially if it lets robots learn to do so without falling down all the time, for which they’re less prepared than toddlers. “Facebook reveals AI development to help robots move in uncharted territory”

Facebook developed what it calls a foundational “breakthrough” in the race to create more humanlike robots: software that enables machines to learn to walk like toddlers.

Humans are very efficient at maneuvering. As kids, we figure out how to adjust our stride and cadence to trek through mud, water, and up and down hills with ease. Through trial and error, we adapt, figuring out the best ways to move our feet according to real-time situations. And we can do this while toting a variety of objects, either in our hands or on our backs.It’s tough to program robots to make instantaneous adjustments to their legs and feet to accommodate such a variety of tasks, mainly because it’s hard to train themto deal with corner cases, or objects and environments they’ve never seen before….

(16) CLIMB THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN. Sure, that’s easy for you to say. According to Gizmodo, “Neutron Stars Have Mountains That Are Less Than a Millimeter Tall” but that would be one big step even for Barlennan.

A team of astrophysicists recently used new models of neutron stars to map the mountains—tiny raised areas—on the stars’ otherwise perfectly spherical structures. They found that the greatest deviations were still extraordinarily small due to the intense gravitational pull, clocking in at less than a millimeter tall.

Neutron stars are the dead cores of once-huge stars that collapsed in on themselves. They are the densest objects in the Universe aside from black holes. They’re called neutron stars because their gravity is so intense that the electrons in their atoms collapse into the protons, forming neutrons. They’re so compact that they pack a mass greater than that of our Sun into a sphere no wider than a city.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Sleepy Hollow International Film Festival, Creature Features and La-La Land Entertainment present a virtual panel celebrating the 30th anniversary of Arachnophobia with director Frank Marshall and special guests.

Recorded in November 2020, moderator Mike Matessino hosts a lively and informative discussion with ARACHNOPHOBIA’s director / executive producer Frank Marshall, co-producer Richard Vane, actor Peter Jason, production designer James Bissell and entomologist Steve Kutcher.

No stranger to delighting audiences worldwide for decades, Mr. Marshall, producer of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, POLTERGEIST and JURASSIC WORLD, made his directorial debut with ARACHNOPHOBIA in 1990, bringing rapt audiences to the edge of their seats with laughter and shrieks in equal measure. The film has remained a beloved fan favorite to this day and its appreciation continues to grow as it connects with a new generation. Now, Mr. Marshall and special guests take you behind the film, its production, and its astounding spider effects and action!

[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, Joel Zakem, James Davis Nicoll, David K.M. Klaus, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day David Shallcross.]

Pixel Scroll 6/7/21 Scroll Up The Usual Pixels

(1) THE PLAY’S THE THING. “’Game of Thrones’ Broadway show to be written by George R.R. Martin”CNBC has the story. I know there’s an obligatory comment expected here, but personally I’m glad there are things he wants to write.

The author behind the mega-hit “A Song of Ice and Fire” book series, which was the basis for HBO’s Emmy Award-winning series “Game of Thrones,” is now writing a script for a play based in the fantasy world of Westeros.

The Hollywood Reporter said Tuesday that the play will center around the Great Tourney at Harrenhal and debut in New York, London and Australia in 2023. Martin will work with playwright Duncan Macmillan (“1984”) and theater director Dominic Cooke on the project.

The Great Tourney at Harrenhal is an important historical event in the world of Westeros. Occurring 16 years before the events of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” the contest took place over 10 days and included tournaments of jousting, archery and combat. It is also the place where Prince Rhaegar Targaryen created a nationwide scandal for dedicating his victory to Lyanna Stark instead of his wife. This decision led to Robert’s Rebellion and the Targaryens being overthrown….

(2) AUSTRALASIAN HORROR Q&A. The Redback Room is an initiative of the Australasian Horror Writers Association. Every two months, host Kyla Lee Ward will interview two horror writers from Australasia – emerging or established. In Redback Room Episode 1, Kyla talks to Australia’s most awarded horror writer, Kaaron Warren, and award-winning writer and president of the AHWA, Alan Baxter.

(3) POPULAR CREATED LANGUAGES. “League of languages” helps attract attention to what is probably a marketing site for language tutoring with its articles and statistics about fictional languages – for example, Elvish and Klingon:

For decades, fantasy and sci-fi have dominated our screens and books. To fully immerse a viewer into a fictional world, language is one of the commonly used tricks to give a sense of realness.

Typically, most films and TV shows will speak gibberish or simply create just a few words or phrases that are featured in a scene. However, some of these fictional languages have evolved into fully developed languages that can be learnt and used during coherent conversations.

We analysed the top 5 most popular fictional languages and compared speakers, learners, inspirations and word count to find out which fantasy world has the best made-up language.

So whether you’re looking for a new hobby, to feel part of a fandom or simply want to know more about linguistics from your favourite film or TV show, read our guide on the most popular fictional languages.

I wondered if this is really true, though:

Key Facts:

  • More people speak Elvish than Irish.

(4) TRADPUB HORROR. Entertainment Weekly has a conversation with “Zakiya Dalila Harris on her novel The Other Black Girl”.

Three years ago, Zakiya Dalila Harris was an assistant editor at Knopf Doubleday Publishing. Now, she’s the author of a novel that garnered a seven-figure book contract (after a 14-bidder auction) and an adaptation deal at Hulu. The Other Black Girl is best described as The Devil Wears Prada meets Get Out, with a little bit of Black Mirror thrown in. It follows Nella, a book-publishing assistant who clashes with the only other Black employee in her department. As things escalate (like anonymous threatening notes left on Nella’s desk), she begins to suspect there’s something more sinister behind their professional competition. Here, Harris, 28, offers up her process — and it’s anything but beginner’s luck.

Did you feel pressure to write a happy ending?

I definitely didn’t want a happy ending. I was really inspired by Night of the Living Dead; I love endings that are frustrating or nerve-racking. I think I subconsciously wanted to drive home the pressures that Black people are under in corporate America — I didn’t want any of the characters to be able to get out of their situations easily, because that would just reinforce the notion that it’s on Black folks to resist the system, instead of on white folks to change the system.

(5) BOXING MATCH. Io9 is shocked, I tell you, by news of “Loki Charms: Marvel’s Limited Edition Cereal Disney+ Tie-In”.

Loki has done some horrible things in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including murdering Phil Coulson and leading an alien invasion of Earth in which countless people died. But now the Norse god of mischief has gained control of Lucky Charms cereal, and this crime is beyond the pale….

(6) DON’T DO THE CRIME IF YOU CAN’T DO THE TIME. Meanwhile, let Vanity Fair tell you everything they know about the series: “’Loki’: A Complete Beginner’s Guide to Marvel’s New Show”.

Where Is Loki? This is where things get a little complicated but also pretty fun. The Loki series is set inside the world of something called the TVA, or Time Variance Authority. Don’t worry even a little bit if you feel confused here; the Loki premiere spends plenty of time explaining the rules and regulations of this place.

Here, though, are the basics: The TVA is a futuristic bureaucratic organization tasked with cleaning up messy timeline shenanigans due to the aforementioned time travel. In the MCU, when a timeline is messed with, that timeline splits off into its own reality. As you might imagine, this makes things complicated. Loki escaping from a 2012 film a full six years before his date with death in 2018? Messy. In other words, Loki enters the show, and the TVA, as a time criminal. (Fun, right?) The TVA was created in the future, but it exists outside of time. But I’m not sure you really need to worry about that yet. 

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1974 — At DisCon II where the Toastmaster was andrew j. offutt,  Arthur C. Clarke wins a Hugo for Rendezvous With Rama. (It also won a Campbell, Locus and Nebula.) It was published first in Galaxy (the September/ October 1973 issue) and had its first hardcover printing by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973.  Other nominated works that year were Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein, Protector by Larry Niven, The People of the Wind by Poul Anderson and The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born June 7, 1844 – Robert Milne.  Rediscovered by Sam Moskowitz, who helped collect RM’s stories for Into the Sun.  Eleven there; fifty more not yet reprinted, e.g. “The Great Electric Diaphragm”, “A Dip into the Doings of the Four-Dimensional World”, “What the Great Instrument in the Lick Observatory Observed”.  Even I found the Into the Sun stories and four more here.  (Died 1899) [JH]
  • Born June 7, 1932 – Kit Reed.  Sixteen novels for us, a hundred forty shorter stories; fourteen other novels.  First published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction under Boucher.  Guggenheim Fellow.  Called herself a trans-genred writer.  (Died 2017) [JH]
  • Born June 7, 1946 – Jon White.  Fanziner and bookseller.  Revived Inside in 1962, brought in Leland Sapiro who renamed it Riverside Quarterly (after a famous dwelling in New York).  Here is the front cover by Atom (Arthur Thomson) for vol. 1 no. 2.  (Died 2004) [JH]
  • Born June 7, 1949 – Real Musgrave, age 72.  Graphic artist who has maintained a fannish connection.  Artist Guest of Honor at Westercon XLI (here (PDF) is its Program Book); exhibited at Magicon the 50th Worldcon.  Here is a cover for Fantasy Review.  Pocket Dragons, done as drawings, figurines, animated television series.  Brother of astronaut Story Musgrave.  [JH]
  • Born June 7, 1952 — Liam Neeson, 69. He first shows up in genre films as Gawain in Excalibur and as Kegan in Krull. He plays Martin Brogan In High Spirits, a film I enjoy immensely. Next up is the title role in Darkman, a film I’ve watched myriad times. He’s Dr. David Marrow In The Haunting which I’d contend is loosely off of The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Now we get him as Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace. Followed unfortunately by his horrid take as Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins and as a cameo in the The Dark Knight RisesNow he voiced Aslan with amazing dignity in The Chronicles of Narnia franchise and I hope voiced Zeus as well in the Titans franchise. (CE) 
  • Born June 7, 1954 – Louise Erdrich, age 67.  In the first class of women admitted to Dartmouth (A.B., English; later, honorary Litt. D. and Commencement speaker).  Member of Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians; her grandfather was tribal chief.  Nat’l Book Award for Fiction, Lib. Cong. Prize for Amer. Fiction, Amer. Acad. Poets Prize, Pushcart Prize.  Love Medicine, only début novel to win the Nat’l Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction.  Children’s books; Scott O’Dell Award for The Game of Silence.  World Fantasy Award for The Antelope Wife; three more novels in our field; interviewed in Lightspeed.  [JH]
  • Born June 7, 1968 — Sarah Parish, 53, In “The Runaway Bride“, a Tenth Doctor story, she got to play, with the assistance of extensive CGI, one of the nastiest Who villains to date, The Empress of the Racnoss, an oversized vicious spider with a human face. Great episode. It’s our introduction to Donna Noble, his Companion for quite some time to come. In a much lighter role, she played Pasiphaë on BBC’s Atlantis series. (CE)
  • Born June 7, 1969 — Anthony Simcoe, 52, Ka D’Argo in  Farscape, one of the best SF series ever done. If you don’t watch anything else, just watch the finale, The Peacekeeper Wars as it’s reasonably self-contained. Farscape is the only SF he did. If you can find a copy, Matt Bacon’s No Strings Attached: The Inside Story of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, it is a wonderful look at the creation of the creatures on the show including D’Argo facial appendages. (CE) 
  • Born June 7, 1972 — Karl Urban, 49. He’s in the second and third installments of The Lord of the Rings trilogy as Éomer. He has was McCoy in the Trek reboot franchise, Cupid on Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, John Kennex on Almost Human, Vaako in the Riddick film franchise, and Judge Dredd in Dredd. For the record, I liked both Dredd films for different reasons. (CE) 
  • Born June 7, 1974 — David Filoni, 47. Creator and an executive producer on Star Wars Rebels, a most awesome series, for all four seasons, and was supervising director and a writer on another excellent series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. (I like the animated series far better than the live action films.) He makes his live acting debut in The Mandalorian playing Trapper Wolf, an X-Wing pilot, in “The Prisoner” episode. It’s also worth noting that he his first job was directing episodes during the first season of animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender (CE)  
  • Born June 7, 1979 — Anna Torv, 42. She’s best known for her role as FBI agent Olivia Dunham on Fringe. She also played an ITU nurse in Frankenstein, a modern adaptation of that novel. She voiced the lead of Nariko in the animated Heavenly Sword film based off the game of the same name. (CE) 
  • Born June 7, 1990 – Adam Silvera, age 31. Four novels for us, a shorter story; three other novels.  Two NY Times Best-Sellers.  Has read While Mortals SleepAnimal FarmKnow the Past, Find the Future (NY Public Lib’y centennial); The Little PrinceThe Magic Shop (Wells); The Phantom TollboothFahrenheit 451.  [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Grant Snider of Incidental Comics depicts his inner critic.

(10) STOP THE PRESSES! Or at least slow them down a little: “’Paddington 2’ Loses Top Movie Honor Due to New Bad Review” says The Hollywood Reporter.

Not to be the bearer of bad news, but Paddington 2 has lost its recently obtained honor as the best movie of all time according to Rotten Tomatoes’ freshness ratings.

You’ll recall the headlines last month when Citizen Kane lost its decades-long 100 percent rating on the critic aggregation site due to a newly discovered negative review from 1941. The disruption caused fans to declare 2018’s much-beloved Paddington 2 as the new best film since it now had the most reviews of any title that also had a 100 percent rating.

Now, there’s been another update that changes all that.

A new review has knocked Paddington down a branch — to a 99 percent scoreThe review was from Film Authority and critic Eddie Harrison, who seemed to know precisely what he was doing, somewhat defensively noting, “I reviewed Paddington 2 negatively for BBC radio on release in 2017, and on multiple occasions after that, and I stand by every word of my criticism.”

(11) CATCHING HELL. Calgary author Marc Watson, who has been published on flash fiction site www.101words.org, as well as comedy site www.thecorrectness.com, begins a new fantasy series with Catching Hell Part 1: Journey.

In the distant future, two young men are thrust into unknown worlds—worlds they were raised to fear.

Aryu, the Boy with Wings, enters a realm where magic rules. Guided by the conflicted phoenix Nixon Ash, a creature sent to kill him, Aryu must confront the powerful, immortal Embracers and the balance of Everything and Nothing they inhabit. Meanwhile, Johan navigates a futuristic world, seeking a means to defeat the robotic Army of the Old destructively marching across their homeland, and reunite with his best friend.

(12) WHEN IN ROME. This vending machine will turn out a pizza in the time it takes to soft-boil an egg:

It is barely a few square meters large, just enough space for three vending machines side by side. In via Catania 2, in Rome, the first store for automatic express pizza was opened. Four flavors to select from: margherita, spicy salami, bacon and four cheeses; three minutes of waiting, which can be [whiled away] by following the different stages of preparation, and that’s it.

(13) LIQUID REFRESHMENT. What could sound more out of this world than a drink called Unicorn Tears– MAD TASTY – and for $30 for a six-pack, it’ll have to do a lot to live up to that name.

Unicorn Tears is an exotic and mysterious blend of natural fruit flavors that is delightful on the nose and refreshing for the brain. Expand your bandwidth to conquer your day with this magical elixir.

Our Hemp-Forward Formulation
At 20 MG broad-spectrum hemp extract and less than 15 calories a can, our clean, restorative, and hydrating beverage was made to fit into any wellness routine. Our Oregon-farmed hemp is sourced and extracted for all the benefits and no earthy aftertaste. There is zero sugar or sweeteners and no complicated additives needed to mask the hemp flavor.

(14) JDA STAGES TRIUMPHAL PARADE ON THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY. Jon Del Arroz threw up a couple more videos today, one of them featuring comments by his lawyer Peter Sean Bradley. He had 42 viewers at peak — that was it. 

If somebody else’s blog was involved it would have been funny, So much of his screentime was meaninglessly devoted to displaying my post about the Nebula winners while he blathered in audio, then lovingly reviewed 770’s comments about his settlement. How did his lawyer get a word in edgewise?

Richard Fox also dropped in to demonstrate his solidarity with JDA’s ideas about racism:

And to horn in on JDA’s publicity by repeating his own lies about this blog (see “Perjury, Not Piracy Is The Problem”).

(15) BEZOS in SPAAAAAAAACE!The Washington Post reports “Jeff Bezos is going to space on Blue Origin’s first crewed spaceflight in July”.

A couple of weeks after Jeff Bezos officially steps down as CEO of Amazon, he’ll leap into something more mythic: riding to the edge ofspace aboard one of his own rockets, alongside his brother, in a flight that would fulfill a lifelong dream.

The plan is that Bezos, his brother, Mark, and the winner of an online auction for Blue Origin’s nonprofit foundation will be on the New Shepard on July 20 when it lifts off for a suborbital flight, the first time the spacecraft will carry passengers. The date is the anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969.The flight will mark a significant milestone for Blue Origin, which lags behind Elon Musk’s SpaceX in the competition for billions of dollars in NASA and Pentagon contracts and which flies a more powerful rocket capable of taking people and supplies into orbit….

Daniel Dern comments:

One wonders whether nobody in this loop has read the last (third?) of Heinlein’s The Man Who Sold The Moon (and/or the shorter followup, Requiem), where Delos D Harriman is prohibited from flying, due to a mix of health, insurance, (avoiding bad) publicity, etc.

One wonders whether his life insurance premiums are taking a brief spike. Yeah, he can afford them.

If nothing else, I’d love to see him at the launch site buying flight insurance. (I’m sure somebody will do, or already has, a video of this.)

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean shows that, like other fourth films in franchises, the film practices “self-plagiarism, where the film goes through moments” people liked in the first three movies.  There’s also “hyper-specific magic with very vague backgrounds,” so there’s a great deal about the power of fresh mermaids’ tears (old ones won’t work) just to bring mermaids into the movie.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/26/21 When I Know Every Button On Galactus’ Planoform

(1) ANOTHER YP PROJECT. James Davis Nicoll has set his Young People Read Old SFF panelists to work on a new series – “Young People Read Old Hugo Finalists.” And he’s looking for more contributors —

…This time I will exposing my youthful volunteers to the Hugo Finalists of Yore, specifically the finalists for Best Short Story, starting with a story from 19561! The Hugo Awards reward the best SFF of their time, as chosen by the members of WorldCons through the centuries. How much fun we will have discovering how effectively Hugo finalists have kept their luster!

If you are 30 years of age or younger and you would like to take part in this phase of Young People Read Old SFF, please send email to jdnicoll at panix dot com. If you are already a contributor to Young People, you are welcome to keep contributing regardless of age issues. After all, I let me post.

(2) GOOD TO THE LAST DRAGON. A trailer has dropped for Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access on March 5.

“Raya and the Last Dragon” takes us on an exciting, epic journey to the fantasy world of Kumandra, where humans and dragons lived together long ago in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and its divided people. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than a dragon to save the world—it’s going to take trust and teamwork as well.

(3) NOBODY HOME. In “The Best Books on Abandoned Places” at Five Books, Cal Flyn recommends novels by Jeff VanderMeer and J.G. Ballard for readers who like books about abandoned places.

VanderMeer followed this up with Authority and Acceptance.

Yes. What’s interesting about the Southern Reach trilogy is that it doesn’t answer all the questions that it poses. You have to be quite willing to come away at the end still not quite certain what is going on. But I like that about it.

I made the mistake of taking Annihilation with me on a trip to Swona, an abandoned island off the north coast of Scotland, where I spent 24 hours alone and slept in an abandoned house. I’d travelled there in June, when the wildflowers were in bloom and the birds were breeding; I thought it would be nice to see it so full of life, and it was. But the ‘life’ was not pleased to see me. I was threatened by what we call bonxies – great skuas, big busty seabirds – and then dive-bombed and scratched by Arctic terns when I accidentally got too close to their colony.

Being there amid the abandoned houses, all in various states of dereliction, some with belongings still in the cupboards and one with the dining table still set, was very unsettling. Even though I knew myself to be safe, I just couldn’t relax. There were birds stamping around in the roof space of the house I stayed in overnight, which kept me awake. And my only reading matter was this, which definitely didn’t help. In the end I had to put it back in my rucksack and read a 1974 Readers Digest that I found in a cupboard, because it was making me far too jumpy to sleep.

(4) ON THEIR WAY TO THE FUTURE. The Edmonton crew is interviewed by Cora Buhlert — “Fanzine Spotlight: Hugo Book Club Blog”.

In the past twenty years, fanzines have increasingly moved online. What do you think the future of fanzines looks like?

Our book club includes librarians and former journalists, and even we are surprised by some of the changes in publishing technology. Who knows what will happen next? Perhaps blockchain-mediated identity verification will drive a new revolution in trustworthy news sources, and we’ll end up singing kumbaya in a unified and peaceful version of fandom. Perhaps the next generation of fans will be dealing with ink-and-paper fanzines delivered by a Kevin-Costner-on-horseback-based mail system. Or perhaps the singularity will happen and every fanzine that could ever exist will be beamed straight into your neuro-cortex.

(5) CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN. “Paramount+ teaser unites Star Trek, Beavis and Butt-Head, Dora & more” in the promo for the rebranded CBS All Access streaming service. SYFY Wire sets the frame:

It’s not every day that Spock and Captain Kirk get to go mountain climbing — let alone with a motley gang of questers that includes Beavis and Butt-Head and Dora the Explorer. But as CBS All Access gets ready to make the switch to the new Paramount+ streaming platform, the service is giving fans a fun reminder of all the cross-genre stars who’ll be making the big ascent together.

(6) ANOTHER NAME TO CONJURE WITH. After nearly 12 years on the air, Krypton Radio yesterday rebranded itself SCIFI.radio (“sci-fi dot radio”). Gene Turnbow says:

We’re the oldest and biggest scifi fandom radio station in the world now, with more than 100,000 listeners ever month in 183 countires around the world.

Gene Turnbow’s 2017 guest post “Krypton Radio: Music for the Geeking World” has much information about the project that is still relevant.

(7) BALTICON 55. The Baltimore Science Fiction Society made it official that their annual Balticon will remain virtual this year.

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) and Balticon look forward to once again holding in-person events when it is safe to do so, but the health of our membership, guests, and volunteer staff is our top priority. Accordingly, we will be holding Balticon 55 as an online event on May 28-31, 2021.

We apologize for the delay in this announcement. While we anticipated that the 2021 Balticon would be virtual, we needed to finalize key details with our host hotel regarding future Balticons before announcing this change.

We will continue to roll over previously-purchased memberships towards our next in-person Balticon. If you have any questions or need further membership information, please email Registration at registration@balticon.org.

While Virtual Balticon 55 will be a free online event, it does not come without cost to BSFS. Like last year, we will be launching a GoFundMe campaign with great swag at each giving level. As always, you can donate to BSFS and Balticon year-round through PayPal.

(8) ATTRACTED TO BANKS. In “The Culture War: Iain M. Banks’s Billionaire Fans” at Bloody Knife, Kurt Schiller theorizes about the author’s appeal to a pair of super-rich space enthusiasts.

…At times, reading or watching long-form fiction from someone to whom you are ideologically opposed can feel exhausting, draining, aggravating, and ultimately a bit futile—like being at a party where you simply don’t like anyone, don’t care about the discussions, and are annoyed at the food. There’s much to be gained by engaging with our rhetorical opponents… but, frankly, only up to a point.

What then are we to take from the distinct and quite public fascination of the two richest men in the world—Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, together worth more than $375 billion—with the sci-fi works of Iain M. Banks, an avowedly socialist author who set his far-future fiction in what might best be described as a post-scarcity, anarcho-communist utopia; a world where your Bezoses and your Musks are not just irrelevant, but actively sought out and disempowered by a society comprised of property-less workers and all-caring, mostly-benevolent A.I.s?

…At first glance, it seems like exactly what you’re imagining when you hear the phrase “space opera,” and so of course two super-wealthy spaceflight-and-sci-fi aficionados would be fans, right? After all, both men own private spaceflight contractors (Musk’s SpaceX and Bezos’s Blue Origin) and speak often of mankind’s future among the stars, with Musk proposing a mission to Mars and Bezos pitching a return to the moon and other intrasystem exploration. Seeking the stars seems to be in their blood (assuming it hasn’t been completely replaced with Soylent and whatever nootropics billionaires get).

Both men have found ways to conspicuously show their fandom: Musk by naming SpaceX rockets after Banks’s tongue-in-cheek Culture ships (“Just Read The Instructions,” “Of Course I Still Love You”) and a “brain interface” loosely patterned after the Culture’s neural laces; Bezos by attempting to bankroll a big-budget TV series based on the books, although this latter effort was unceremoniously canceled after Banks’s estate abruptly backed out. (Probably a wise decision, given both the challenge of adapting the material and the absurdity of one of the most exploitative corporations in the world attempting to adapt proudly far-left sci-fi.)

(9) ARNOLD OBIT. Richard Arnold, Gene Roddenberry’s assistant and the Star Trek archivist, has died. He worked many conventions, including helping Showmasters at some of LA’s Doctor Who-themed Gallifrey One conventions.  

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • January 26, 1967 — On this date in 1967, Star Trek’s “Tomorrow Is Yesterday” first aired on NBC. Written by D. C. Fontana and directed by Michael O’Herlihy, It was nineteenth episode of the first season. It was not nominated for a Hugo the following year when five episodes of the series were. A nifty time travel episode, the slingshot trick used here would later be used in the season two “Assignment: Earth” episode and The Voyage Home film as well. Later reviewers really liked it. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 26, 1923 Anne Jeffreys. Her first role in our end of things was as a young woman on the early Forties film Tarzan’s New York Adventure. She’s Jean Le Danse (note the name) around the same time in the comedy Zombies on Broadway (film geeks here — is this the earliest zombie film?). And no, I’ve not forgotten she had the lead role as Marion Kerby in the Topper series. She also had one-offs in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.Fantasy Island and Battlestar Galactica. (Died 2017.) (CE)
  • Born January 26, 1926 – Jean-François Jamoul.  Essays and covers for FictionGalaxieUnivers.  I’ve not found his writing in English, but here is the Jul 71 Galaxiehere is the May 72; here is one from the 3rd trimester 1973; here is the Apr 79 Fiction.  Here is the back cover for Joy Division’s record Licht und Blindheit (Side A “Atmosphere”, Side B “Dead Souls”).  (Died 2002) [JH]
  • Born January 26, 1928 Roger Vadim. Director, Barbarbella with Jane Fonda in a leather bikini. That alone gets a Birthday Honor. But he was one of three directors of Spirits of the Dead, a horror anthology film. (Louis Malle and Federico Fellini were the others.) And not to stop there, he directed another horror film, Blood and Roses (Et mourir de plaisir) and even was involved in The Hitchhiker horror anthology series. And Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman is at least genre adjacent… (Died 2000.) (CE)
  • Born January 26, 1918 Philip José Farmer. I know I’ve read at least the first three Riverworld novels (To Your Scattered Bodies GoThe Fabulous Riverboat and The Dark Design) but I’ll be damned if I recognize the latter ones. Great novels those first three are. And I’ll admit that I’m not familiar at all with the World of Tiers or Dayworld series. I’m sure someone here has read them.  I do remember his Doc Savage novel Escape from Loki as being a highly entertaining read, and I see he’s done a number of Tarzan novels as well.  (Died 2009.) (CE) 
  • Born January 26, 1929 Jules Feiffer, 92. On the Birthday list as he’s the illustrator of The Phantom Tollbooth. Well and that he’s also illustrated Eisner’s Spirit which helped get him into the Comic Book Hall of Fame. Let’s not overlook that he wrote The Great Comic Book Heroes in the Sixties which made it the first history of the superheroes of the late Thirties and Forties and their creators. (CE) 
  • Born January 26, 1943 – Judy-Lynn del Rey, F.N.  Spectacular editor for GalaxyIf, Ballantine, and after marrying Lester del Rey, her own line Del Rey Books.  Skylark Award.  Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Ass’n; service).  Seven Stellar SF anthologies plus one Stellar Short Novels.  Interviewed by Bill Rotsler for Vertex.  P.K. Dick called her a master craftsman (the suffx -man is not masculine) and “the best editor I’ve ever worked with”.  She left us a few months before ConFederation the 44th Worldcon; she had won a Hugo as Best Professional Editor, but Lester declined it on her behalf, saying she would have objected to an award’s being given her just because she had recently died. (Died 1986) [JH]
  • Born January 26, 1952 – Dwight Decker, age 69.  Four novels, nine shorter stories.  Active in comics fandom; translator for Fantagraphics and Gladstone.  Did an Elfquest Gatherium with the Pinis.  Correspondent of NY Review of SFRiverside QuarterlySF Review.  Fanzine Torch.  [JH]
  • Born January 26, 1960 – Dave Bara, age 61.  Half a dozen novels, four shorter stories.  “If you let your mind wander, inspiration will find you.”  [JH]
  • Born January 26, 1960 Stephen Cox, 61. Pop culture writer who has written a number of books on genre subjects including The Munchkins Remember: The Wizard of Oz and BeyondThe Addams Chronicles: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Addams FamilyDreaming of Jeannie: TV’s Primetime in a Bottle and The Munsters: A Trip Down Mockingbird Lane. I’ll admit to being puzzled by his Cooking in Oz  that he did with Elaine Willingham as I really, really don’t remember that much for food in the Oz books… (CE)
  • Born January 26, 1974 – Shannon Hale, age 47.  A dozen novels, as many shorter stories, for us, some with husband Dean Hale; thirty novels all told.  Newbery Honor.  Josette Frank Award, Whitney Award, Cybils Award.  Three NY Times Best Sellers.  Keeps all her rejection letters, so far a sixty-foot scroll.  Has read Moby-DickLes MisérablesA Tale of Two CitiesHuckleberry FinnOne Hundred Years of Solitude.  [JH]
  • Born January 26, 1979 Yoon Ha Lee, 42. Best known for his Machineries of Empire space opera novels and his best excellent short fiction. His first novel, Ninefox Gambit, won a Locus Award for Best First Novel. Dragon Pearl would win a Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel. (CE) 
  • Born January 26, 1986 – Brian McClellan, age 35.  Eight novels, a dozen shorter stories.  Morningstar Award.  Lives on the side of a mountain in Utah.  [JH]

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) TREK REUNION. They’re making another short together, though not playing their TOS characters. Heavy.com has the details: “Nichelle Nichols & Walter Koenig Star in ‘Star Trek’ Film”.

Two cast members of the Star Trek: The Original Series are teaming up with another Star Trek legend to create an epic new sci-fi adventure. Nichelle Nichols, known to fans as Lieutenant Uhura, and Walter Koenig, also known as Pavel Chekov, will co-star in the upcoming short film Star Trek Renegades Ominara. The film is directed by another Trek actor, Tim Russ, who fans know as Tuvok from Star Trek: Voyager.

The short is a follow-up to two previous fan films in the Star Trek: Renegades series. The series was set 10 years after Voyager’s return to Earth. Koenig reprised his role as Pavel Chekov and co-starred with Russ, who reprised his role as Tuvok. Russ also directed both shorts.

Though Koenig starred as Admiral Chekov in the previous shorts in the Renegades series, he will not be reprising that role in the new film. Additionally, Nichols will not be appearing as Uhura.

(14) BABY T.REX FOUND. An exciting development in paleontology was announced yesterday, giving a clearer picture at the lives of one of the most iconic dinosaurs. “Scientists unearth first baby tyrannosaur fossils ever found” in the University of Alberta Folio.

“Tyrannosaurs are represented by dozens of skeletons and thousands of isolated bones or partial skeletons,” said Mark Powers, second author on the study and PhD student in the Department of Biological Sciences. “But despite this wealth of data for tyrannosaur biology, the smallest identifiable individuals are aged three to four years old, much larger than when they would have hatched. No tyrannosaur eggs or embryos have been found even after 150 years of searching—until now.”

(15) VOTE FOR THE FINAL MEMBER OF THE X-MEN. The first-ever X-Men election is here! The fate of the X-Men is in YOUR hands. Vote at marvel.com/xmenvote starting January 27 until February 2 to determine the final member of the first X-Men team of the Krakoan era – and one of the most iconic teams in the Marvel Universe.

 As revealed in X-MEN #16, Cyclops and Jean Grey shared the need for a new X-Men team to protect the mutant nation of Krakoa and fight on mutantkind’s behalf. A number of nominations have been accepted since then…but the last member of the X-Men is now in YOUR hands!

 X-Men Ballot Nominations include:

  1. Banshee
  2. Polaris
  3. Forge
  4. Boom-Boom
  5. Tempo
  6. Cannonball
  7. Sunspot
  8. Strong Guy
  9. Marrow
  10. Armor

Election results, along with the full X-Men team, will be unveiled during the Hellfire Gala in Marvel comics this June.

[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Olav Rokne, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel “Model of a Modern” Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 4/30/20 A File And Scroll Reunion Is Only A Pixel Away

(1) CATS TRIUMPHANT. Naomi Kritzer has had a big week. Her YA novel Catfishing on Catnet won an Edgar Award today, and won a  Minnesota Book Award on Tuesday. Here’s an excerpt of the Q&A she did for the St. Paul Library:

How does it feel to be a Minnesota Book Award finalist?

It is a huge honor and feels amazing!

Tell us something about your finalist book that you want readers to know?

It is loosely based on my (Hugo Award-winning) short story Cat Pictures Please, which you can still find online:

Share something about your writing process and preferences. For instance, where is your favorite place to write?

When I’m outlining or brainstorming, I use a notebook of unlined paper, like a sketch diary. I like to write in my sunny living room but discovered at some point that the ergonomics of a couch, hassock, and lap desk will lead quickly to back problems, so I usually write at a desk in my home office.

(2) BOOKSTORE LOVE. LitHub tells the world “Now you can use your favorite indie bookstore as your Zoom background.” Like this shot of Vroman’s – where John King Tarpinian and I got John Scalzi to sign our copies of The Collapsing Empire a few years ago. The complete list of bookstores with notes on each one can be found on the Lookout + Ecotone blog.

(3) INGENIOUS. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand blog gives a good rundown of Alison Scott’s plans for “The Virtual GUFF Tour”, since she can’t travel there in person this year. It’s an effort completely worthy of a former editor of the fanzine Plokta, “The journal of superfluous technology.” 

Alison Scott is the recently elected European GUFF delegate. The plan was for the winning delegate to travel down under to meet local fans and addend the 2020 Worldcon – CoNZealand. Of course because of you-know-what the borders are closed and CoNZealand has gone virtual. But Alison appears undaunted – she now plans to take a virtual tour of Australasia visiting Australian and New Zealand places and fans before attending the virtual worldcon. There will be a proper itinerary mimicking a physical journey and Alison even plans to adhere to the local timezones (yay jetlag!). You can read more about her plans and follow her progress over on the facebook group dedicated to the trip.

(4) RAMPING UP TO THE APOCALYPSE. The Baltimore Science Fiction Society has completed the ADA compliant ramp in front of their building. The January 20 Pixel Scroll ran details about the permits coming through. Club President Dale S. Arnold said today –

Although the COVID-19 emergency and related closures caused some delays, eventually the weather and logistics worked to allow completion. Many years ago when the plan for renovations to the BSFS Building was announced the author Jack Chalker commented that if a bunch of SF Fans were able to pull off that complex of a plan it would be a sign of the coming apocalypse.  With the completion of this ramp (except final painting the door which was altered in the ramp design) we have now realized the dream from 1991 having completed everything planned when we bought the building.

And BSFS didn’t finish a moment too soon, because the apocalypse appears to be just around the corner.

(5) NOT GENTEEL. Errolwi points out how well today’s Merriam-Webster tweet complements James Davis Nicoll’s famous quote about the English language:

(6) AIMLESS, IF NOT LOST, IN SPACE. And by no coincidence whatsoever, the next item is about James Davis Nicoll’s latest Tor.com post, “Far From Any Star: Five Stories About Rogue Worlds”.

It’s been weeks since you last socialized (in the flesh) with anyone outside your household…or with anyone, if you live alone. Loneliness is tough. But things could be worse: you could be a rogue world, ejected from your home system billions of years ago. You could be a pitiful world formed far from any star. Such worlds are commonplace in our galaxy. They are not quite so common in science fiction. Still, a few of them feature in books that you may have read…

(7) JEMISIN AND GAIMAN. The Fisher Center will present “UPSTREAMING: Neil Gaiman in Conversation with N. K. Jemisin” on May 2 at 7:30 p.m. EST. However, the website says, “Tickets are not currently on sale. Call the box office for more information, 845-758-7900.” So if you’re interested, call.

Join Professor in the Arts Neil Gaiman for a remote, live streamed conversation with Hugo Award-winning author N. K. Jemisin (Broken Earth trilogy), whose new work The City We Became was released in March to great acclaim. The conversation is part of an ongoing Fisher Center series in which Gaiman discusses the creative process with another artist.

(8) LE GUIN IN ’75. Fanac.org has posted a video recording of an Aussiecon (1975) Worldcon panel with Ursula K. Le Guin, Susan Wood and others, “Worlds I Have Discovered.”

AussieCon, the 33rd Worldcon, was held in Melbourne, Australia in 1975. This panel centers on questions to Guest of Honor Ursula Le Guin’s on her writing for young adults (or at least classified as for young adults). The panelists, moderated by Fan Guest of Honor Susan Wood, are Ursula herself, Stella Leeds, Peter Nicholls, Anna Shepherd, and Ann Sydhom. The video quality leaves a lot to be desired, but the discussion on Le Guin’s process of writing, the panel’s views on children’s literature, and children’s literature as a literary ghetto remain interesting and very pertinent. Remember, this was decades before the phenomena of Harry Potter.

Andrew Porter sent the link with this reminder that the same year his Algol Press published Dreams Must Explain Themselves, a 36-page chapbook whose title essay is about how Le Guin got ideas for books.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • April 30, 1955  — Science Fiction Theatre’s Y.O.R.D. episode first aired. Directed by Leon Benson from a screenplay by him and George Van Marter as based on a story written by Marter and Ivan Tors. Truman Bradley Was The Host and the cast included Walter Kingsford, Edna Miner Louis,  Jean Heydt and DeForest Kelley. The latter would be playing Captain Hall, M.D.  You can watch it here.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge. Bonus typos provided by OGH.]

  • Born April 30, 1913 Jane Rice. Her first story “The Dream” was published  in the July 1940 issue of Unknown. Amazingly, she’d publish ten stories there during the War. Her only novel Lucy remains lost due to somewhat mysterious circumstances. Much of her short stories are collected in The Idol of the Flies and Other Stories which is not available in digital form. (Died 2003.)
  • Born April 30, 1920 E. F. Bleiler. An editor, bibliographer and scholar of both sff and detective fiction. He’s responsible in the Forties for co-editing the Best SF Stories with T.E. Dikty. They later edited Best Science-Fiction Stories. He also did such valuable reference guides like The Checklist of Fantastic Literature and The Guide to Supernatural Fiction. (Died 2010.)
  • Born April 30, 1926 Edmund Cooper. Pulpish writer of space opera not for the easily offended. His The Uncertain Midnight has an interesting take on androids but most of his work is frankly misogynistic. And he was quite prolific with over twenty-four novels and a dozen story collections. A lot of his work is available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 1982.)
  • Born April 30, 1934 William Baird Searles. Author and critic. He‘s best remembered  for his long running review work for Asimov’s  where he reviewed books, and Amazing Stories and F&SF where he did film and tv reviews. I’m not familiar with his writings but I’d be interested to know who here has read Reader’s Guide to Science Fiction and Reader’s Guide to Fantasy which he did, as they might be useful to own. (Died 1993.)
  • Born April 30, 1938 Larry Niven, 82. One of my favorite authors to read, be it Ringworld, The Mote in God’s Eye with Jerry Pournelle, or the Rainbow Mars stories which I love in the audiobook version. What’s your favorite Niven story? And yes, I did look up his Hugos. “Neutron Star” was his first at NyCon 3 followed by Ringworld at Noreascon 1 followed by “Inconstant Moon” (lovely story) the following year at L.A. Con I,  “The Hole Man” (which I don’t remember reading) at Aussiecon 1 and finally “The Borderland of Sol” novelette at MidAmericaCon. He’s not won a Hugo since 1976. 
  • Born April 30, 1973 Naomi Novik, 47. She wrote the Temeraire series which runs to nine novels so far. Her first book, His Majesty’s Dragon, won the Astounding Award. She most deservedly won the Nebula Award for Best Novel for Uprooted which is a most excellent read. I’ve not yet her Spinning Silver, so opinions are welcome.
  • Born April 30, Gal Gadot, 34. Wonder Woman of course in the DC film universe. Other genre work, well, other than voicing Shank on Ralph Breaks the Internet, there really isn’t any. She did play Linnet Ridgeway Doyle in the Kenneth Branagh production of Murder on the Orient Express which is quite lovely but hardly genre or even genre adjacent. 

(11) SOUNDTRACK. Steve Vertlieb would like to introduce the world to French film composer, Thibaut Vuillermet.

(12) REVENGE OF THE GRINDHOUSE. SYFY Wire reports ”Trolls World Tour Rocks $100 Million On Vod”.

The decision to skip a theatrical release in the age of coronavirus was a wise move that led to big returns for DreamWorks’ Trolls World Tour

According to The Wall Street Journal, the animated movie has racked up nearly $100 million in the three short weeks since it arrived on VOD and digital platforms Friday, April 10. With approximately 5 million rentals at $19.99 a pop, Universal has generated over $77 million from a digital release model that allows studios to keep an estimated 80 percent of profits. Since the traditional theatrical model relies on a 50-50 kind of split, a film playing in a physical venue has to make a lot more money in order for a studio to turn a profit. 

The real point here is that Trolls Would Tour has brought in more tangible revenue during its first 19 days on demand than the first movie did during five months in theaters.

However, one theater chain intends to punish Universal for their plans to reproduce the success by simultaneously releasing movies in theaters and through video-on-demand, presumably trimming their revenue. The Hollywood Reporter covered the announcement: “AMC Theatres Refuses to Play Universal Films in Wake of ‘Trolls: World Tour'”.

AMC Theatres on Tuesday delivered a blistering message to Universal Pictures, saying the world’s largest cinema chain will no longer play any of the studio’s films in the wake of comments made by NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell regarding the on-demand success of Trolls World Tour and what it means for the future of moviegoing post-coronavirus pandemic….

“The results for Trolls World Tour have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of PVOD,” Shell told The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the numbers. “As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.”

In a strongly worded letter to Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chairman Donna Langley, AMC Theatres chairman and-CEO Adam Aron said Shell’s comments were unacceptable. AMC is the largest circuit in the world.

“It is disappointing to us, but Jeff’s comments as to Universal’s unilateral actions and intentions have left us with no choice. Therefore, effectively immediately AMC will no longer play any Universal movies in any of our theaters in the United States, Europe or the Middle East,” Aron wrote.

“This policy affects any and all Universal movies per se, goes into effect today and as our theaters reopen, and is not some hollow or ill-considered threat,” he continued. “Incidentally, this policy is not aimed solely at Universal out of pique or to be punitive in any way, it also extends to any movie maker who unilaterally abandons current windowing practices absent good faith negotiations between us, so that they as distributor and we as exhibitor both benefit and neither are hurt from such changes….” 

(13) CHICKEN EATER OF THE SEA. [Item by Chip Hitchcock.] From the Harvard Gazette: “Water Beast: New paper argues the Spinosaurus was aquatic, and powered by predatory tail”.

New paper argues the Spinosaurus was aquatic, and powered by predatory tail

Back in the Cretaceous period, 145 to 66 million years ago, dinosaurs dominated the land and sky. They also, a new paper argues, terrorized the aquatic realm. Recent fossil evidence has revealed that Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, among the largest of all known carnivorous dinosaurs, was a creature of the water, with a center of gravity and a giant tail fin perfect for swimming. The same paper shares robotic modeling by two Harvard scientists that shows how that large, flexible tail fin — unique among dinosaurs — would have given the giant predator a deadly propulsive thrust in the water, similar to a salamander or crocodile tail.

The paper, “Tail-Propelled Aquatic Propulsion in a Theropod Dinosaur,” in the April 29 issue of Nature, uses new fossil evidence and robotically controlled models created by Harvard co-authors Stephanie E. Pierce and George V. Lauder, professors of organismic and evolutionary biology, to show its power.

Pierce said the new fossils were necessary to make their argument, as much of the fossil evidence of Spinosaurus, unearthed by German paleontologist Ernst Stromer, had been destroyed in World War II. University of Detroit paleontologist Nizar Ibrahim, the Nature paper’s lead author, had located more traces of the dinosaur in Morocco in 2014, and in 2018 he went back, successfully excavating extensive Spinosaurus remains. The fossils included tail vertebrae with meter-long spines that seemed to form an expanded paddle, raising questions as to what the tail was used for.

“The working hypothesis was that Spinosaurus used its tail to swim through water,” said Pierce, Thomas D. Cabot Associate Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. Ibrahim and his team reached out to Pierce, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, to test their idea. She was immediately intrigued by the 5-plus-meter-long tail.

Yes, Dave, “Predatory Tail” would be a great name for a band.

(14) YOUR MISSION… “Nasa names companies to develop Moon landers for human missions”

Nasa has chosen the companies that will develop landers to send astronauts to the Moon’s surface in the 2020s.

The White House wants to send the next man and the first woman to the Moon in 2024, to be followed by other missions.

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Alabama-based Dynetics were selected to work on landers under the space agency’s Artemis programme.

The 2024 mission will see astronauts walk on the Moon’s surface for the first time since 1972.

Combined, the contracts are worth $967m (£763m; €877m) and will run for a “base period” of 10 months.

“With these contract awards, America is moving forward with the final step needed to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024, including the incredible moment when we will see the first woman set foot on the lunar surface,” said Nasa’s administrator Jim Bridenstine.

“This is the first time since the Apollo era that Nasa has direct funding for a human landing system, and now we have companies on contract to do the work for the Artemis programme.”

(15) RECIPES WITH CHARACTERS. “Need new recipes for quarantine? Pixar’s YouTube channel is here to help”. Entertainment Weekly shares some examples.

As Pixar taught us, anyone can cook… and now the animation studio is giving you something to cook.

The Pixar YouTube channel features a series called “Cooking With Pixar,” a collection of recipes inspired by the studio’s films. At the moment, the series only has three videos, but they should provide some inspiration if you’re in need of something new to cook — which, it’s fair to say, most of us probably are at this point.

(16) YOU’RE MELTING! “Nasa space lasers track melting of Earth’s ice sheets” – BBC has the story.

Scientists have released a new analysis of how the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have changed, from 2003 to 2019.

The study shows that ice losses from melting have outpaced increases in snowfall, resulting in a 14mm rise in global sea-levels over the period.

We’ve had a number of very similar reports to this recently.

What makes this one of interest is that it uses data from the highest-resolution satellite system dedicated to studying the poles – IceSat.

This system flies space lasers over glaciers and other ice fields to track their constantly shifting shape.

The US space agency (Nasa) has now launched two of these altimeter instruments.

The first, IceSat, operated between 2003 and 2009; the second, IceSat-2, was put up in 2018.

Thursday’s report is a first attempt to tie both satellites’ observations together.

(17) BROTHER GUY’S AIR. “Antarctic meteorites yield global bombardment rate”

A team of UK scientists has provided a new estimate for the amount of space rock falling to Earth each year.

It’s in excess of 16,000kg. This is for meteorite material above 50g in mass.

It doesn’t take account of the dust that’s continuously settling on the planet, and of course just occasionally we’ll be hit by a real whopper of an asteroid that will skew the numbers.

But the estimate is said to give a good sense of the general quantity of rocky debris raining down from space.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Horizon on Vimeo is a short film by Armond Dijcks based on images taken by the International Space Station.

[Thanks to Joyce Scrivner, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Errolwi, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]