(1) PROLOGUE. Daniel Dern is champing at the bit to explain today’s Scroll title “(This Is) A Fine Paranormal Romance”.
Deets: Via the Kern & Fields song “A Fine Romance”, “…written for the musical film, Swing Time, where it was co-introduced by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.”
Here’s that video clip:
And one of my favorite recordings by Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong who have several great duets albums/CD/etc’s!
… Gaiman will donate part of the auction proceeds to the Hero Initiative, which is an emergency fund for comics creators, and the Authors League Fund, which benefits writers in financial hardship; he will also give living artists whose work sells part of the proceeds. The items are on display at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, and bidding starts on Friday.
More than 100 pieces are up for sale, and Gaiman pointed to some highlights….
The whole shooting match can be seen at Heritage Auctions. The card uses a piece of art by Mike Kaluta.
(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to snack on sushi with Ray Nayler in Episode 219 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.
Nayler is the author of the Locus Award-winning debut novel The Mountain in the Sea, which was also a finalist for the Nebula Award and the L.A. Times Book Awards’ Ray Bradbury Award for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Speculative Fiction. He began publishing speculative fiction in 2015 in Asimov’s, and since then, his stories have appeared in Clarkesworld, Analog, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Lightspeed, Vice, Nightmare, and other magazines. His story “Yesterday’s Wolf” won the 2022 Clarkesworld Readers’ poll, and the same year, his story “Muallim” won the Asimov’s Readers’ Award, his story “Father”, in French translation, won the Bifrost readers’ award, and his novelette “Sarcophagus” was a finalist for the Theodore Sturgeon Award.
In addition to his speculative fiction, Ray has published in many other genres, from mainstream literary fiction to comics. Those have appeared in Ellery Queen, Crimewave, Hardboiled, Cemetery Dance, Deathrealm, Queen’s Quarterly, the Berkeley Fiction Review, and other journals. He’s also a widely published poet, with work in the Atlanta Review, the Beloit Poetry Journal, Weave, Juked, Able Muse, Sentence, and many more. He is currently Diplomatic Fellow and Visiting Scholar at the Institute for International Science and Technology Policy at The George Washington University.
We discussed how his time living outside the U.S. helped him become a better science fiction writer, why he feels the greatest effect of having written The Mountain in the Sea was a culinary one, the reason we agree our favorite part of writing is rewriting, the sad results of his accidental Facebook experiment, whether his mammoth memory behavior is based on scientific facts or is purely speculative, why we’ll likely never be able to truly resurrect extinct species, how changes in culture can affect evolution, the train trip where he received career advice from a stranger he didn’t realize was Neil Gaiman, why we aren’t totally in control of our writing destines, how he’s haunted by the ghost of an alternate version of himself, plus much more.
(4) RADIO FREE FANDOM. Chris Barkley must feel like he’s reached the top of Mt. Olympus – he and Jason Sanford were interviewed for NPR’s “Morning Edition”. Listen here: “The Hugo Awards scandal has shaken the sci-fi community”.
And the dynamic duo were interviewed for the Retro Rockets podcast “RetroRockets With Chris Barkley & Jason Sanford”.
(5) SHOCKED THAT ‘YEET’ IS NOT IN MY ARCHAIC LANGUAGE DICTIONARY. [Item by Anne Marble.] We all need some lighter discourse. Here is a great response (from author Moniza Hossain) to another “hot take.”
The book in question “That Time I Got Drunk and Yeeted a Love Potion at a Werewolf” by Kimberly Lemming. She is a Black author who has been building her brand. And clearly has a great sense of humor.
She is aware of the recent posts and has a fun response here. It turns out that the “Yeet” title is actually the fault of people who criticized her for using modern language in her fantasy novels.
(6) MY LITTLE PONY UNDER SUSPICION IN RUSSIA. “Moscow Police Investigated a ‘My Little Pony’ Convention for Alleged LGBTQ+ Propaganda” – Them.us has the story.
This past weekend, the organizers of a My Little Pony convention in Moscow shut down the festivities early after police were called to investigate the event for alleged “LGBTQ propaganda.”
As the Associated Press reported, the organizers of Mi Amore Fest posted to the Russia social media site VK on Sunday, writing that police had received a complaint about the event promoting “non-traditional relationships and related symbols, adult content for minors, and general horror and darkness.”
Police were unable to find any confirmation of these allegations, but asked for the convention to be shut down a few hours early on Saturday, according to the post. The organizers additionally chose to end the event even earlier than the police asked, after hearing unconfirmed reports of additional officers heading to the venue, per the Associated Press. Both attendees and organizers were able to leave without incident.
My Little Pony has minimal canonical LGBTQ+ representation, but the franchise has been the subject of some scrutiny in Russia, especially in the wake of the country’s recent ruling against anti-LGBTQ+ “propaganda.” In November, Russia’s Supreme Court ruled that the “international public LGBT movement” is an “extremist organization,” and banned all forms of related activism (which includes displaying LGBTQ+ “paraphernalia or symbols”). Shortly after the ruling was issued, the Russian streaming service Kinopoisk changed its age rating for My Little Pony to 18+, according to Pink News. (There has been speculation that the change was due to the character Rainbow Dash, who has a rainbow-colored mane and tail. )…
(7) MORE ON MARK MERLINO. At Dogpatch Press, Patch O’Furr is “Remembering Mark Merlino (1952-2024), a founder and soul of furry fandom” with a well-researched tribute.
…After 5 decades at the heart of it all, Mark’s elder health problems led to hospitalization at the new year in 2024. He was lovingly supported by friends and partners and a crowdfund until he passed away on February 20. Anime, furry, and brony networks lit up with condolences from around the world while the name Mark Merlino trended on social media next to mainstream celebrities.
He is survived by partners including Rod, and Changa who joined them for 28 years. They were united by love and creativity, but as queer people, their relationship was fundamental to the acceptance and expression that aligns many furries with queer culture. Fandom may be a hobby, but it’s also a way to show identity, and theirs was the soul of what furries are.
- Dozens of convention memorial messages are collected on the Telegram news channel of Grovel Husky.
- History book Furry Nation by Joe Strike (Cleis Press) profiles Mark in Chapter Four (“A Fandom is Born”).
- Mark also features in fellow fandom founder Fred Patten‘s An Illustrated Chronology of Furry Fandom, 1966–1996.
- Documentary movie The Fandom (2020) features Mark and the Skiltaire house and residents.
Mark contributed stories to Dogpatch Press. With eyes on the future, his 2022 look at Furality featured its hugely successful 15,000 attendance. He also wrote 2020’s A brief history of the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization, America’s first anime fan club. Then there were meetings in person….
(8) NIKLAUS WIRTH (1934-2024). The New York Times pays tribute to the creator of the Pascal programming language, who died January 1: “Niklaus Wirth, Visionary Software Architect, Dies at 89”.
…In 1970, while teaching at the Swiss university ETH Zurich, Dr. Wirth released Pascal, the programming language that powered early Apple computers and initial versions of applications like Skype and Adobe Photoshop. He also built one of the first personal computers and was instrumental in helping a Swiss start-up commercialize the mouse. (The start-up, Logitech, became one of the world’s largest makers of computer accessories.)
The Association for Computing Machinery honored Dr. Wirth in 1984 with the Turing Award, often referred to as the Nobel Prize of computing. Other recipients have included Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, and Vinton G. Cerf, who wrote the code that powers communication on the internet.
For Dr. Wirth, simplicity was paramount in computing, and he created Pascal — named after Blaise Pascal, the 17th-century French mathematician and calculator inventor — as a simpler alternative to languages like BASIC, which he deemed too cumbersome.
BASIC forced programmers to “jump all over the place, writing spaghetti code,” Philippe Kahn, a former student of Dr. Wirth’s who later founded several tech companies, told the New York Times reporter Steve Lohr in an interview for his book “Go To” (2001), a history of software.
“Pascal forced people to think clearly about things and in terms of data structures,” Mr. Kahn said. He added: “Wirth’s influence is extremely deep because so many of the people who were taught in real computer science programs learned Pascal. It was the language of classical thinking in computing.”…
(9) PAMELA SALEM (1944-2024). Actress Pamela Salem, who had James Bond film and Doctor Who roles on her resume, died February 21 reports Deadline.
… She played Bond’s secretary Miss Moneypenny in Sean Connery’s 1983 film Never Say Never Again…
Salem made guest appearances in Doctor Who as Professor Rachel Jensen, first appearing in 1988’s Remembrance of the Daleks episodes with Sylvester McCoy’s seventh Doctor.
She reprised the character in Counter-Measures, a Big Finish audio spin-off series. The more recent story in the series, The Dalek Gambit, was released in 2020.
She also guest starred in Big Finish’s The Fourth Doctor Adventures (reunited with Tom Baker) and then reprised the role of Toos in The Robots.
Other screen roles included 1978 crime film The Great Train Robbery and The West Wing, in which she featured as fictional UK prime minister Maureen Graty. ER and Blake’s 7 were also notable credits.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.
[Written by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 23, 1932 — Majel Barrett Roddenberry. (Died 2008.) Majel Barrett. Number One. Nurse Chapel. Computer. Betazoid. Widow of a Centauri emperor.
She first appeared in the initial Trek pilot, “The Cage” as the Enterprise’s first officer. Number One, as she was called, is a title that was from there forwarded through the Trek universes, though not as their only name usually.
Even before she was cast in this role, she was already involved with Roddenberry. So every reliable Trek source agrees that the network executives were extremely, well, pissed off that the girlfriend of a married man was cast in a series they were going to be broadcasting. So she had to go. And hence we got Spock instead.
So instead she was cast as Christine Chapel, a nurse, one assumes more to the least grumbling acceptance of the network bosses. (Though some Trek sources claimed they were still extremely annoyed at her presence in the series. Idiots.) Chapel made her first appearance the revised script of “The Naked Time.” Of the seventy-nine episodes, she would appear in twenty-five of them. I think she was in some of the films but I can’t confirm that and it’s been too long for me to remember if that’s true.
I said Computer above, and yes she provided the voice of the computer system starting off with the original series, but it continued on from there to include the computers of Next Generation and Voyagers ships, the Deep Space Nine station and the ships in these films — Generations, First Contact, Insurrection, Nemesis, and J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot, Star Trek. She also reprised her role as a shipboard computer’s voice in two episodes of the prequel series Enterprise.
Then there’s Lwaxana Troi, Daughter of the Fifth House, Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Riix, Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed who is also, Goddess help us, the Betazoid ambassador to the Federation. I’ll admit that I never warmed to her character, but then Picard didn’t really either. Mother of Deanna (who I felt they never played right), it’s a role that just never sat right with me.
She made just six appearances here and three on Deep Space Nine.
She appeared, live or animated, in her lifetime in nearly all series that were produced.
She got cast in other Roddenberry productions, too. She appeared as Primus Dominic in Genesis II pilot; as Dr. Bradley in The Questor Tapes and as Lilith the housekeeper in the Spectre pilot.
She also appeared in Michael Crichton’s Westworld as Miss Carrie.
Remember Earth: Final Conflict? She played the character Dr. Julianne Belman in it. Well she stitched it together from notes that Roddenberry left after his death and she executive produced it.
Finally in a role I thought was pitch perfect she was in the Babylon 5 “Point of No Return” as Lady Morella, the widow of the Centauri emperor and she was psychic. Her role which was used to set-up a major story line.
I could go on, but I don’t think I will.
So what’s your favorite story about her?
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- Eek! suggests I was wrong when I assumed superhero sidekicks were independent contractors.
Tom Gauld has new cartoons.
(12) JEOPARDY! [Item by David Goldfarb.] Today’s first round of the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions had a whole category in the Double Jeopardy round.
First, in the Jeopardy round, there was this:
1960’s Fiction, $200: The Mrs. W’s (Whatsit, Who, and Which) are guides through the universe in this Madeleine L’Engle classic
Suresh Krishnan asked: “What is ‘A Wrinkle in Time’?”
Then in Double Jeopardy we had Pop Culture Dragons. Introducing the category, Ken Jennings quipped, “Not like the real ones.” I’ll present the clues in the order the contestants encountered them.
$1600: In a series of books by Cressida Cowell, this son of Stoick the Vast can speak Dragons & learns to train a dragon
Triple stumper: nobody knew this was Hiccup.
$2000: A Daily Double, found by Suresh, who wagered $3000. (All his money).
Falkor the white Luck Dragon helps Atreyu in this epic fantasy film from Wolfgang Petersen
Suresh did not come up with “The Neverending Story”.
The contestants then went through every clue in every other category before coming back to this one.
$400: Stuff the Magic Dragon is the name of the mascot for the NBA team that plays home games in this city
Emily Sands said, “What is Orlando?” (The team would be the Orlando Magic.)
$800: After killing the Ender Dragon in this “blockbuster” video game, players receive a dragon egg as a trophy
Matthew Marcus: “What is Minecraft?”
$1200: Instead of a standard written clue, we saw a picture of a group of musicians standing in front of a backdrop labeled with logos, reading things like “Golden Gods”, “Fireball”, and “Hammer”. Ken read the clue:
Where Dragons Dwell” is a swell song from this band that took its name from the Japanese word for Godzilla.
Suresh tried, “What is Gorillaz?” but this was wrong. Matthew got it right with, “What is Gojira?”
(13) WHEN ZINES WALKED THE EARTH. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Warning: There are no sff fanzines in exhibit. “When Zines Walked the Earth” at the New York Times. “An extraordinary exhibition of dissident and countercultural takes at the Brooklyn Museum shows the power of the copy machine….”
The curators of “Copy Machine Manifestos: Artists Who Make Zines” at the Brooklyn Museum, the art historians Branden Joseph and Drew Sawyer, define them as low-budget, limited-circulation publications (short for “magazine” or “fanzine”) that are not political pamphlets or countercultural newspapers.
The show’s territory starts in 1969, coinciding with the widening availability of photocopy machines, and runs to the present.
Daniel Dernnotes the obvious: SF fanzines clearly predate all this. Aside from the obvious — “starts in 1969” — I’m not seeing any mention of (mimeo or spirit) duplicators, enchanted or otherwise. IIRC, I was introduced to (sf) fanzines early ’60s, by a friend/fan from camp, Ed Reed.
Copy Machine Manifestos: Artists Who Make Zines. Through March 31, Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, 718-501-6354, brooklynmuseum.org.
(14) CHINA SCHEME FOR HARASSING DISSIDENTS. “Leaked document trove shows a Chinese hacking scheme focused on harassing dissidents” – NPR has the story.
A large trove of more than 500 sensitive technical documents posted online anonymously last week details one Chinese technology company’s hacking operations, target lists and marketing materials for the Chinese government.
The majority of the operations appear to be focused on surveilling and harassing dissidents who publicly criticize the Chinese government, including on global social media platforms like X, formerly known as Twitter.
Target lists reveal victims from at least 14 governments from Pakistan to Australia, as well as academic institutions, pro-democracy organizations in places like Hong Kong, as well as the military alliance NATO. The company was also bidding for work to surveil the minority Uyghur population in Xinxiang, a broader Chinese government program that major global human rights’ organizations around the world have heavily criticized. There are even pictures of custom devices used for spying, such as a recording device disguised as a power bank….
(15) BENNU BITS. “First Look at Asteroid Hints It’s a Fragment of a Lost Ocean World” says Science Alert.
NASA scientists are just getting started in their analysis of fragments brought back from the Bennu asteroid, and the early indications are that the material it contains originated from an ancient ocean world.
That assumption is based on the phosphate crust detected on the asteroid. The calcium and magnesium-rich phosphate mineral has never been seen before on meteorites – those small space rocks that make it through our atmosphere and down to Earth.
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Gary Farber, Kathy Sullivan, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]