Pixel Scroll 6/4/22 Pixel Of Illusions

(1) ANOTHER BURKE CO-PANELIST MAKES A STATEMENT. Shahid Mahmud, Arc Manor Books publisher, who was one of the panelists on “Diversity Readers and Why You Need Them” at Balticon 56, today told Facebook readers that he and Stephanie Burke “got into a heated discussion” but that Burke did “nothing that warranted her treatment” or expulsion from program afterwards.

…One of the panels that keeps getting referred to is a panel I was on with Stephanie, the one on Sensitivity Readers. Not only that, but I was also the one who got into a heated discussion with her on the panel.

As a fellow panelist (particularly one who got into that that discussion with her) I would like to, in no uncertain terms, make it clear that Stephanie NEVER crossed the ‘line.’ I found her charming, informative, and forceful (in a good way).

At one point I did turn to the audience and apologized for us having hijacked the discussion for the last few minutes and several of them pointed out how refreshing it was to hear different sides of the issue (a couple of them reiterating it after the panel as well).

After the panel ended, Stephanie and I did chat briefly and both of us indicated to the other how much we had enjoyed the discussion even though we disagreed with each other.

So, imagine my shock when I found out that she had been kicked off panels. Even more so, since no from Balticon bothered to contact me about the panel (and no one still has).

Anyway, as a fellow panelist on the panel that is being cited as the reason for her expulsion, I want to make it absolutely clear that Stephanie did nothing that warranted her treatment.

What I find incredulous is that someone at Balticon took it upon themselves to treat another person like that without even bothering to find out what happened or having any investigation of a any kind. Escorting someone out of a panel is pretty extreme. I do think Yakira (the Balticon Chair) is trying to set it right to the extent she can (she has publicly apologized and is now leading an investigation into the incident). I hope the investigation also focuses on Lisa Adler-Golden (the program chair, and I believe the person behind the expulsion) and her actions, motivations and suitability for participation in future Balticons.

David Weber responded at length in comments (here and here), saying in part:

…I’m waiting to see how this all works out, and I hope the con chair is able (and willing) to tell the world what really happened and issue a very sincere and public apology (if appropriate) based on the results of her investigation.

If, as I suspect from all I have heard so far, an apology IS appropriate, I think it should be accompanied with an invitation to return as a special guest and, particularly, for a panel on just how destructive this sort of thing is for the fan community as a whole, and not just for the pros/guests immediately affected by it. It’s an issue that needs to be dragged out into the daylight and confronted, without accepting it as long as it only happens to people WE don’t like, and without degenerating into fruitless rounds of whataboutism. This is goring ALL our oxen. It needs to stop, and I hope one response to this fiasco is that Balticon will tell us how IT intends to prevent it going forward….

Also in comments, Gregory Benford reminded readers why he was removed from the 2019 Loscon.  

(2) THE MESSAGE RECEIVED VARIES WITH THE READER. Jeff VanderMeer addresses the question if “Le Guin’s ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ is a classic for its portrayal of gender, but is it also sometimes, for the modern reader, a climate change parable?” in  “Landscape, Change, and the Long Road Ahead” at Orion Magazine.

…Le Guin, in creating both this world and this situation, meant to interrogate the politics and logic of countries, and how societies deal with the outsider. Even the long, harrowing journey by Genly and his erstwhile friend from Winter, Estraven, across barren ice can be interpreted as a traditional Jack Londonesque extreme wilderness survival tale, rather than anything more modern.

Yet, the reader changes a book because the world changes, and so when I read of the “facts” of Genly being disputed in Orgoreyn, I could not help but think about the “disputed” facts and proofs of the climate crisis.  

Climate crisis is about extremes, and in The Left Hand of Darkness cultures are shaped by an immeasurably hostile physical environment. The coldness of the place, which forces adaptation to its conditions and discourages certain kinds of risk. The fact the nations of Winter do not engage in war constitutes one unique manifestation of this adaptation to an extreme environment. Full-scale conflict, as opposed to minor sorties, skirmishes, individual feuds, simply seems alien to the nations of Winter…. 

Genly describes war as “the opposite of civilization,” and this is literally true on Winter—if not on our Earth. The planet’s inhabitants cannot afford the destructiveness of war or risk Death by Planet, by diverting or destroying resources needed for survival. They do not have the luxury of surviving both the climate and war….

(3) ALMOST BREAKING EVEN. Despite having cancelled Arisia 2022 due to Covid and the small number planning to attend or be on the program, Arisia, Inc. reports they have made up their annual expenses from grants and donations.

…We have heard back from the grants from this cycle, and we’ve gotten quite a few of them.  A few were contingent on holding a convention and I’ll get into the disposition of each of those.

The big news is that we got $15,000 from the City of Boston!  This is $10,000 for COVID relief and $5,000 in general operating support.  We can use this money to pay organizational expenses such as rent, which comes to $15.600 per year.

We got a grant for $2,275 from SFWA for convention expenses and we can use this for expenses the convention had even though it didn’t actually happen.  We have easily enough eligible expenses to get the access grant and $2500 for organizations that did.  This appears to be what happened, as we were approved for $2500 for training.  We have heard back from the grants from this cycle, and we’ve gotten quite a few of them.  A few were contingent on holding a convention and I’ll get into the disposition of each of those.

…We proposed to use this general staff anti-racism training, and I also requested in the application to be able to use the money for board training, in case we get other funding for anti-racism trainings.  I believe the Anti-Racism Committee is working on specifics for this training.

We got $3000 for CART from the Universal Participation Fund and the expenses didn’t happen.  This is the grant that we qualify for because of Card to Culture.  I don’t know if the money can be repurposed, or if so how.

Speaking of Card to Culture, we had 12 people registered for A22 via Card to Culture, vs. 3 in 2021.  I am hopeful that we get even more in 2023.

Finally, we have gotten about $4,000 in donations, with one large donation pending in an unknown amount.

This is a total of almost $24,000 not including the access grant.  Our annual expenses are a little over $19,000 and the convention had $6,000 in expenses that can’t be passed on to Arisia 2023, plus one of the grants obliges us to spend money on training that we might not have spent otherwise.  So we aren’t quite square, but we’re pretty close….

(4) LAWSUIT GOING FORWARD. “Freedom to Read Advocates Sound Alarm as Obscenity Lawsuit Advances in Virginia” reports Publishers Weekly.

Library groups this week joined with booksellers, publishers, and public advocacy groups in sounding the alarm over a lawsuit in Virginia in which two popular authors and their publishers have been ordered to defend their works against obscenity charges.

The legal action was filed last month by Virginia Beach lawyer and delegate in the Virginia Assembly Tim Anderson (on behalf of local plaintiff and congressional candidate Tommy Altman), citing an obscure state obscenity law. It alleges that two books for sale in a Virginia Beach Barnes & Noble—Maia Kobabe’s popular graphic memoir Gender Queer (Oni Press) and A Court of Mist and Fury (Bloomsbury) by bestselling author Sarah J. Maas—are “obscene for unrestricted viewing by minors.”

According to the Virginia Mercury, “the little-utilized state law allows ‘any citizen’ to ask a court to weigh in on books alleged to be obscene.” And in a development that has shocked observers, a local judge on May 18 found there was probable cause the books could be deemed obscene and ordered the authors and publishers to defend the books later this month.

According to the Mercury, the judge who issued the order, Pamela Baskervill, is “a retired Petersburg-area judge,” who is handling the case because “all other judges in Virginia Beach recused themselves.”

The court’s order raises the possibility that the court could issue a restraining order barring the books from public display and restraining booksellers and libraries from selling or loaning the books to minors without parental consent. In a Facebook post, Anderson hailed the judge’s order as “a major legal victory” and laid out the playbook for those seeking to restrict access to materials they find objectionable: “Suits like this can be filed all over Virginia,” Anderson wrote. “There are dozens of books. Hundreds of schools.”…

(5) HEAR FROM EUGEN BACON. Space Cowboy Books will host a free “Online Reading & Interview with Eugen Bacon” on Thursday, July 7 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Get tickets at the link.

(6) INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN. “Can a book change a young woman’s life?” Hear The Conversation with Nnedi Okorafor and Mel Mazman on BBC Sounds.

Can a book change a young woman’s life? Kim Chakanetsa talks to two women in the publishing world about the importance of writing stories that inspire and empower girls. 

Nnedi Okorafor is an award-winning Nigerian-American writer of fantasy and science fiction for both children and adults. Her books have strong female leads and draw inspiration from her Nigerian roots. Nnedi has also written comics for Marvel: she was the first woman to write the character of T’challa, the Black Panther, and she wrote a series about his tech loving sister, Shuri. She is a recipient of the World Fantasy, Hugo and Nebula Awards. 

Mel Mazman is the chief product officer at Rebel Girls, a franchise publishing books and digital content aimed at empowering young women. The company started in 2016, with a crowdfunding campaign for Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, a book featuring the stories of 100 inspirational women. Since then, they sold 7.5 million books in over 100 countries. Mel shares her insights on how the publishing industry is changing to cater for the needs and interests of younger generations of readers. 

(7) BREAKFAST WITH TIFFANYS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Jo Walton talks to Helen Zaltzman about what she calls “The Tiffany Problem, or how do you tell readers that the “anachronisms” they find in novels aren’t actually anachronistic.  “Tiffany” is an authentic 12th century name (ultmately derived from “Epiphany”) but use it in a historical novel and readers complain,  Walton discusses how she handles this problem in her novels. “The Tiffany Problem” at The Allusionist podcast.

(8) KEN KELLY (1946-2022). Prolific genre and album artist Ken Kelly died June 3 at the age of 76. He was particularly known for his sword & sorcery cover art. He depicted Conan the Barbarian, Tarzan and the rock acts KISS, Manowar, Sleepy Hollow, Rainbow, and Ace Frehley.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1982 [By Cat Eldridge.] On this day forty years ago, my favorite Trek film by far, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, premiered. As I noted yesterday in my essay on the ending of the original series, there have been thirteen films so far — the good, the bad and the just plan forgettable. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is in my opinion stellar.

Now I’ll admit that the episode that spawned it, “Space Seed”, isn’t one of my favorite episodes, but the screenwriter for this film, Jack B. Sowards, who based it off a story by him and Harve Bennett, created a story here that is fantastic. Neither had any genre background so Bennett watched all of the original series after being hired by Paramount and decided to do a film off the “Space Seed” story.

Damn, they did a great job. From the Kobayashi Maru simulation (named after Soward’s neighbor) to the over-the-top villain that Ricardo Montalbán is here (far more than he was in “Space Seed”), there is nothing that is not completely entertaining here. Most of these Trek films have a spot or two where I want to say to the editor why is that scene in here, but not in this film. I loved it from beginning to end unreservedly.

(Roger Ebert in his review had an interesting point about Khan: “Khan is played as a cauldron of resentment by Ricardo Montalban, and his performance is so strong that he helps illustrate a general principle involving not only Star Trek but ‘Star Wars’ (1977) and all the epic serials, especially the ‘James Bond’ movies: Each film is only as good as its villain.”) 

(Some of them are entirely like that.) 

They were given a lousy budget, just twelve million, as Paramount really didn’t believe the film was going to do crap. It did as it made ninety million. 

What did the critics think? If they were Trekkies, they liked it. If they weren’t, they didn’t.

Kevin Thomas of the L.A. Times definitely liked it: “In this new film there’s no feeling that its makers are straining to compete with ‘Star Wars’ and other special-effects spectaculars, instead, they’re attempting to recapture the spirit of the beloved TV series. (It is, in fact, probably a plus that the film actually began production intended for TV.) The result is a brisk, handsomely designed film in which its hardware, sturdy as it is, never overwhelms its humanity.” 

Whereas David Khmer of the Chicago Reader wasn’t impressed: “In this second Star Trek feature (1982), the crew of the Enterprise confronts middle age in a plot that makes very little literal sense but is packed with pertinent life-out-of-death, Waste Land imagery: a 200-year-old heavy (Ricardo Montalban) living on a barren planet, a secret project code-named ‘Genesis’ that can turn deserts into tropical jungles, Captain Kirk wearing specs and rediscovering his long-lost family. If only director Nicholas Meyer had grasped the implications of his tale more fully and enthusiastically, this might have become a classic piece of cornball SF poetry, but as it stands the tepid acting and one-set claustrophobia take a heavy toll.” 

It was nominated for a Hugo at ConStellation losing out to Blade Runner. Rotten Tomatoes reviewers really like giving a ninety percent rating. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 4, 1951 Wendy Pini, 71. With husband Richard, responsible for Elfquest which won them a Balrog. Over the years Elfquest has been self-published by the Pinis through their own company Warp Graphics, then Marvel Comics, then the Pinis again, more recently DC Comics and then Dark Horse Comics. Everything prior to 2013 is free online at the Elfquest Comic Viewer. Be prepared to spend hours lost in great reading! 
  • Born June 4, 1960 Kristine Kathryn Rusch, 62. If you’ve not discovered the delights of her Diving Universe series, you’re in for a treat — it’s that good. Her Retrieval Artist series is one that can be read in no particular order so is great deal of fun no matter where you start. And her Spade / Paladin series of which the first novel just came out, Ten Little Fen, is absolutely delightful.  Oh, and she won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Her website is here; don’t miss her appreciation of A.J. Budrys. 
  • Born June 4, 1960 Bradley Walsh, 62. His first genre was on The Sarah Jane Adventures as Odd Bob Elijah Spellman aka The Pied Piper in “The Day of the Clown” story. His major genre role video wise however is Graham O’Brien, companion to the Thirteenth Doctor. Now it’s worth noting that he has a lot of theatre experience that is genre having appeared in multiple versions of AladdinCinderellaJack & the Bean StalkPeter Pan and Snow White.
  • Born June 4, 1964 Sean Pertwee, 58. Let’s see, where did I see him first? Oh, of course, playing Sheriff Hugh Beringar on Cadfael but that’s not genre, is it? Captain Heinz in “Trenches of Hell, Part 2 “,  on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles which was his first genre role followed being Pilot Smith on Event Horizon and Macbeth in a UK film of that name the same year. He did a bit of low-budget horror playing Bradley Cortese in Tale of the Mummy and likewise in being Sergeant Harry G. Wells in Dog Soldiers. There were some fairly low budget SF as well, say Father in Equilibrium. Not to mention Brother Proteus in Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie which I dearly want to see! All of which gets redeemed by his Inspector Lestrade in Elementary, a stunning take on that character. And then there’s his Alfred in Gotham.
  • Born June 4, 1969 Julie Gardner, 53. She was executive producer on the revival of Doctor Who and the spin-offs of Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures. She co-founded with Julie Tranter Bad Wolf, best known for the BBC TV series His Dark Materials and A Discovery of Witches on which she serves as an executive producer.
  • Born June 4, 1972 Joe Hill, 50. I’ve met him once or twice down the years as he shows up here in Portland for signings at both book shops and comic shops pre-Pandemic. Really nice guy like his father. Actually the whole family is amazingly nice. Locke & Key is a superb graphic novel series and I’m fond of all of his short stories, particularly those collected in 20th Century Ghosts, and his collection Full Throttle. I notice that though he’s not yet won a Hugo, he’s won a fistful of Stokers, many BFAs, a World Fantasy Award and even an International Horror Guild Award.
  • Born June 4, 1975 Angelina Jolie, 47. I really liked her two Tomb Raider films and thought Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was a really cool film with her role being quite magnificent. I never saw her early Cyborg 2 undertaking but think Hackers and her role as Kate “Acid Burn” Libby was rather good. I’ve not seen her Maleficent films. 
  • Born June 4, 1991 Jordan Danger, 31. She is best known for her role as Zoe Carter on Eureka. (Now inexplicably renamed A Town Called Eureka in syndication but not on Peacock which is streaming it now along with Warehouse 13.) She also showed up in Ragin Cajun Redneck Gators which as horror is genre of sorts, plus the SF films, Higher Power and Beyond the Sky. And even a vampire film, Living Among Us. All low budget, all straight to DVD productions.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) COWL SCOWL. In “What Is Batman” the Pretty Much Pop podcast shares its taxonomical theories.

In light of the recent release of Matt Reeves’ film The Batman, we consider the strange alternation of darkness and camp that is Batman. Is he even a super hero? What’s with his rogues’ gallery? What’s with DC’s anti-world-building?

Your Pretty Much Pop host Mark Linsenmayer is joined by philosophy prof/NY Times entertainment writer Lawrence Ware, improv comedian/educator Anthony LeBlanc, and Marketing Over Coffee host John J. Wall, all of whom are deeply immersed in the comics, and we touch on other recent shows in the Batman universe.

(12) HUMOR IN THE DARKNESS. Death’s Intern by D.C. Gomez is the debut novel in the Intern Diaries series launched in 2017.

A talking cat, a boy genius, missing people, and an untrained Intern for Death. What could possibly go wrong?

Did that really happen?

There’s no way Death offered me a job. I’m a musician that makes her living as a waitress, with absolutely no training in the supernatural world. This is all a very bad dream.

But Bob has been kidnapped, and I can’t possibly lose the only friend I have.

Bob, you’d better be alive. Because if I just gave my soul to Death for nothing, I will personally kill you. Not to mention, it seems Death’s Interns have fairly short life expectancies.

God, don’t let me die.

D. C. Gomez was born in the Dominican Republic, and grew up in Salem, Massachusetts. She study film and television at New York University. After college she joined the US Army, and proudly served for four years. Those experiences shaped her quirky sense of humor. D.C. has a love for those who served and the families that support them. She currently lives in the quaint city of Wake Village, Texas, with her furry roommate, Chincha.

One of D. C.’s passions is helping those around her overcome their self-limiting beliefs.  She writes both non-fiction and fiction books, ranging from Urban Fantasy to Children’s Books. To learn more about her books and her passion, you can find her at www.dcgomez-author.com.

Available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

(13) SCIENCE TAKES A HOLIDAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] You don’t know what it has been like the past few days as you are a citizen living in a flawed democracy, conversely, I am a subject living in a full democracy kingdom. Anyway, our Queen has ruled that we must have four days celebrating 70 years of her reign. So it has been street parties, barbecue, coronation chicken and a right old national knees-up this side of the Pond. It is a tough life, but we Brits are used to it.

It has also meant that, with the exception of this morning, the library cybercafés have been closed, hence no science news until now.

“NASA’s Perseverance rover begins key search for life on Mars” in Nature.

More than fifteen months after landing in Jezero Crater on Mars, NASA’s Perseverance rover has finally begun its hunt for ancient life in earnest.

On 28 May, Perseverance ground a 5-centimetre-wide circular patch into a rock at the base of what was once a river delta in the crater. This delta formed billions of years ago, when a long-vanished river deposited layers of sediment into Jezero, and it is the main reason that NASA sent the rover here. On Earth, river sediment is usually teeming with life.

Images of the freshly ground spot show small sediment grains, which scientists are hoping will contain chemical or other traces of life. Poet William Blake’s “‘To see a world in a grain of sand’ comes to mind,” wrote Sanjeev Gupta, a planetary geologist at Imperial College London, on Twitter….

Meanwhile, the journal Science has been looking at Mayan astronomy and this features on their cover: “The Stargazers”.

The historic Maya oriented their lives by the heavens. Today, their descendants and Western scholars team up to understand their sophisticated astronomy

In the past few years, slowly converging lines of evidence have been restoring the clearest picture yet of the stargazing knowledge European colonizers fought so hard to scrub away…

(14) SHADOWPAW PRESS MAKES DUOTERO AVAILABLE AGAIN. Duatero by Vancouver author Brad C. Anderson, a searing far-future science fiction novel about the struggles of an abandoned human colony to survive on a hostile alien world, is back in print in a new edition from Shadowpaw Press after being orphaned by the closing of its original publisher, Bundoran Press.

Majstro Falchilo Kredo has devoted his life to protecting the abandoned Earth colony of Duatero from Malamiko, the indigenous ecosystem that makes their crops fail and whose contamination turns humans into mindless monsters.

But Malimiko is changing, becoming more dangerous, more aware, even as the ancient technology the humans use to combat it fails piece by precious piece. Kredo and his fellow soldiers must risk everything or see all they hold precious wiped away and forgotten.

Kredo is prepared to sacrifice himself—and anyone around him—to do his duty. But what if the price demanded is even higher?

Duatero is a powerful work of science fiction that confronts issues of morality and survival head-on in a carefully thought-out and terrifying alien world,” said Edward Willett, editor and publisher of Shadowpaw Press. “It deserves to find many new readers, and I’m thrilled to be able to give it that opportunity.”

Duatero can be bought directly from the publisher or from most online bookstores in both ebook and print and can also be ordered through any brick-and-mortar bookstore. This handy URL provides links to multiple online sources:  https://books2read.com/duatero/

(15) SPELL TREK. “Harini Logan is the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion after a historic spell-off” reports CNN.

…This year’s host was LeVar Burton. The Emmy and Grammy-award winner hosted the semifinal and the final round of the event.

In a statement in December, Burton called the position “an honor.”

“Like a lot of folks, I look forward to the competition every year and am excited to be a part of this wonderful tradition that celebrates excellence,” he said….

(16) IT’S ALMOST TIME. Suspension by Andrea Faye Christians – “a time travel tale of epic proportions” — is Book One of the Time Binder Series.

When Carla Thompson falls asleep and doesn’t wake up, she is shocked to discover what destiny has in store for her. Suspended between two worlds, she meets Isambard Brunel, the legendary eighteenth-century civil engineer, who built the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, England, and who now serves as guardian of its secrets. Historical events intertwine with Carla’s current reality and along the way she discovers a murder, encounters a host of characters including Jamaican psychic, Matilda, and engages in verbal banter with literary legend, Ernest Hemingway. Her adventures lead her to a startling revelation about why she was chosen for her strange new role. In death Carla realises she has never felt more alive.

Andrea Faye Christians was born and raised in Swansea, South Wales. Following a successful career in British radio including the BBC, she moved to the southern Mediterranean island of Malta to pursue her dream of becoming a freelance writer. A decade later she bought a farm in the Madonie Mountains of Sicily where a menagerie of rescue animals found their way to her. With a son in Malta and a daughter in Sicily, Andrea has a home and her heart in both places, and she now divides her time between the neighboring islands.

The book will be released June 30 and is available for pre-order from Bookshop, Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, Book Depository, and Barnes & Noble.

(17) PHILIP K. DICK WILL BE SORRY HE MISSED THIS SHOW. Matt O’Dowd on PBS Space Time dares to ask,“What If Physics IS NOT Describing Reality?”

Neils Bohr said, “It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how Nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about Nature.” Well it turns out that if we pay attention to this subtle difference, some of the most mysterious aspects of nature make a lot more sense.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]

Pixel Scroll 4/15/22 Is That A Real Pixel, Or Is That A Sears Pixel

(1) WISCON NEWS. Today’s “#SaveWisCon Update” has its ups and downs:

We are making AMAZING progress on our work to #SaveWisCon, thanks to your help!

      • We have now raised just over $32,000 in donations of which $30,000 will be matched, for a total of $62,000 raised to support WisCon! This is absolutely incredible, and we are so grateful for everyone who contributed and helped spread the word.
      • 70 people have completed our Volunteer Interest Form to help out with pre-con volunteering. Thank you all!
      • We’ve gained 252 new email newsletter subscribers since November, which is helping us make sure everyone gets the latest con news and updates. Not getting the newsletter? You can sign up here.
      • We have a total of 418 registrations (in-person and online). Our goal is 1,000! Please registerand tell your friends about WisCon, too.

PLUS we are receiving a total of $5,500 in grants from:

We deeply appreciate their support and encourage everyone to learn more about these excellent organizations.

Thanks to your donations and these grants, we’re at roughly $67,000 in total funds raised!

Is this the end of #SaveWisCon fundraising? Are we just done now, forever?

Well…probably not, y’all, for a couple of reasons…

The two main reasons are: (1) It’s “basically impossible” for them to book enough rooms to meet their contract so they will owe a big penalty. That’s an effect of the pandemic and people’s assessment of the risk of in-person events. (2) They have sold only a fraction of the 500 online memberships that are an expected revenue source.

(2) NOT A SWEET SOUND IN THEIR EARS. Appropriate to April 15, the usual income tax filing day in the U.S. (although not in 2022, when it’s April 18), the SFWA Blog posted this: “SFWA Alert: Tax Guidance for Audible/ACX Royalties Reporting”.

…Audible/ACX’s New Tax Reporting Policy: What Authors Should Know

As of January 1, 2021, authors who publish their own audiobooks on ACX and use ACX producers must now declare the producers’ portion of the royalties as income and then deduct those payments as business expenses when they file their taxes.  This is because Audible/ACX now reports all of the net earnings from ACX audiobooks on the authors’ 1099-MISC forms, including the earnings it paid over to producers, as the authors’ royalty earning. It has also stopped issuing 1099-MISCs to producers and instead now issues 1099-Ks to producers that meet the income threshold.

With these new accounting practices, Audible/ACX is treating the payments it makes to voice actors, audiobook producers, and studio pros (collectively referred to as Producers in the agreements) as part of the royalties payable to the authors (referred to as Rights Holders in the agreements)—on the notion that it is the authors, not Audible/ACX, who hire the Producers and owe the Producers a share of their own royalties as compensation for recording the book. The new structure makes clear that Audible/ACX is limiting its role to that of a third-party payment settlement service, even though it makes the Producers’ services available to their authors, sets the terms of that engagement (a 50/50 royalty split), and is the one to send payment to the Producers….

(3) MOURNING STAR. [Item by Andrew Porter.] Last night’s episode of Young Sheldon starts with the momentous news, related by the young version of Sheldon Cooper, that Isaac Asimov has died. (Which happened in 1992.) His parents are monumentally dismissive, but others not as much. I can honestly state that more Asimov works are mentioned there than on any other TV show, ever.

All I can say is, hilarity ensues!

It’s Series 5, Episode 18, “Babies, Lies and a resplendent Cannoli,” with the description on my TV, “Sheldon copes with the death of a hero; Missy wants to babysit; Georgie struggles with a big secret.”

Likely available On Demand.

(4) THE ANSWER IS 47. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Sarah Hemming reviews The 47th, a Shakespearean pastiche by Mike Bartlett about the 2024 presidential election which is playing at the Old Vic Theatre (oldvictheatre.com) through May 28. (I reviewed Bartlett’s previous near-future Shakespearean pastiche, King Charles III, here in 2017 “King Charles III”: A Review”.)

(5) RINGO AWARDS 2022 NOMINATIONS OPEN. The Mike Wieringo Comic Book Industry Awards return for their sixth year on Saturday, October 29, 2022 as part of The Baltimore Comic-Con. The Ringo Awards include fan participation in the nomination process along with a jury of comics professionals. Fans are welcome to nominate until June 30 at the website here.

Fan and Pro Nominations: Fan and pro-jury voting are tallied independently, and the combined nomination ballot is compiled by the Ringo Awards Committee. The top two fan choices become nominees, and the jury’s selections fill the remaining three slots for five total nominees per category. Ties may result in more than five nominees in a single category. Nominees will be listed on the ballot alphabetically. Nomination ballot voting is open to the public (fans and pros) between April 15, 2022 and June 30, 2022.

Final Ballot Voting: After processing by the Ringo Awards Committee and Jury, the Final Ballots are targeted to be available to comic creative professionals for voting on August 31, 2022 and will be due by September 28, 2022 for final tallying. Presentation of the winners will occur at the Baltimore Comic-Con on the evening of Saturday, October 29, 2022.

(6) NO VIVIAN IN 2022. The Romance Writers of America have postponed the next Vivian Award to 2023. The announcement was made last October – but it was news to me. The decision came in the aftermath of RWA rebranding its annual award (formerly the Rita), and the organization’s decision to rescind one of the inaugural Vivian Awards.

In an effort to provide the VIVIAN Task Force the time needed to thoroughly examine the 2021 VIVIAN contest, the RWA Board has approved the task force’s recommendation to postpone the 2022 VIVIAN Contest. This postponement will give the task force time to conduct a thorough analysis of the inaugural contest and make recommendations for changes to be implemented for the 2023 contest period. Under normal circumstances, our contest period begins in October with marketing and advertising campaigns followed by the recruitment and training of judges and accepting contest entries. However, the Board recognizes that the VIVIAN Task Force needs more than a couple of weeks to break down all aspects of the contest to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses outside of those revealed this year.

(7) LANGELLA OUT OF USHER. Yahoo! reports“Frank Langella Fired From ‘Fall of the House of Usher’ After Netflix Investigation”.

Veteran actor Frank Langella has been fired from Mike Flanagan’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” following a Netflix investigation that found Langella acted inappropriately on set, a source close to the production confirmed to TheWrap on Wednesday evening.

Netflix had no comment on the situation and a rep for Flanagan did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

TMZ reported on Tuesday that Netflix was looking into allegations that the 84-year-old had been accused of sexual harassment, including making inappropriate comments to a female co-star on the set of the limited series….

(8) OH GIVE ME A HOME, WHERE THE PORTAL HAS COME. A new sf western begins today on Amazon Prime: Outer Range.

Outer Range centers on Royal Abbott (Josh Brolin), a rancher fighting for his land and family, who discovers an unfathomable mystery at the edge of Wyoming’s wilderness. A thrilling fable with hints of wry humor and supernatural mystery, Outer Range examines how we grapple with the unknown. At the onset of the series, the Abbotts are coping with the disappearance of daughter-in-law Rebecca. They are pushed further to the brink when the Tillersons (the gaudy owners of the neighboring profit-driven ranch) make a play for their land. An untimely death in the community sets off a chain of tension-filled events, and seemingly small-town, soil-bound troubles come to a head with the arrival of a mysterious black void in the Abbotts’ west pasture. Wild revelations unfold as Royal fights to protect his family; through his eyes, we begin to see how time contains secrets held in the past and unsettling mysteries foreshadowed.

(9) CHRISTINE ASHBY OBIT. Australian fan Christine Ashby, the 1976 Down Under Fan Fund delegate, died at her home on March 29. She was 70 years of age. In 1976 DUFF she attended that year’s Worldcon, MidAmeriCon. Her trip report, The Flight of the Kangaroo, was published about a decade later.

(10) ESSAY: JO WALTON’S SMALL CHANGE TRILOGY. [By Cat Eldridge,] Doing alternate history right is always hard work, but Jo Walton’s  the Small Change books consisting of  Farthing, Ha’penny and Half a Crown get it perfectly spot on. Set as you know in Britain that settled for an uneasy peace with Hitler’s Germany, they are mysteries, one of my favorite genres. And these are among my all-time favorite mysteries of this sort. 

The audiobooks are fascinating as befitting that there being shifting narrators with Peter Carmichael whose presence in all three novels is voiced by John Keating, and Bianco Amato voicing David Kahn’s wife in Farthing, but Viola Lark being played by Heather O’Neil in Ha’penny and yet a third female narrator, Elvira, is brought to life by Terry Donnelly in Half a Crown

Now I’m fascinated by what awards they won (and didn’t) and what they got nominated for. It would win but one award, the Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian SF Novel for Ha’Penny which is I find a bit odd indeed given there’s nothing libertarian about that novel. 

Now Half a Crown wracked an impressive number of nominations: the Sidewise Award for Best Long Form Alternate History, Locus for Best SF Novel, Sunburst award for a Canadian novel, and this time deservedly so given the themes of the final novel a Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian SF Novel.

Farthing had picked up nominations for a Sidewise, a Nebula, Campbell Memorial, Quill where Ha’Penny only picked a Sidewise and Lambda.

Not a single Hugo nomination which really, really surprised me. 

There is one short story set in this series, “Escape to Other Worlds with Science Fiction” which you can read in her Starlings colllection that Tachyon published. It is is a fantastic collection of her stories, poems and cool stuff! 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 15, 1918 Denis McLoughlin. No, he didn’t do any genre work that you’d know of. (And I’m not interested in it anyways. This is not about a genre artist.) His greatest fame came from work doing hard-boiled detective book covers produced for the London publishing house of Boardman Books spanning a career that lasted nearly eight decades with other work as well. And oh what covers they were!  Here’s is his cover for Adam Knight’s Stone Cold Blonde, and this is Henry Kanes’…Until You’re Dead. Finally let’s look at his cover for Fredric Brown’s We All Killed Grandma.  He was in perfect health when he took a revolver from his extensive collection of weapons and committed suicide. No note was left behind. (Died 2002.)
  • Born April 15, 1922 Michael Ansara. Commander Kang  in Trek’s “The Day of The Dove” as well as a lot of other genre work including a recurring role as Kane on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, multiple roles on I Dream of Jeannie andmyriad voicings of Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze in the Batman series. (Died 2013.)
  • Born April 15, 1926 Jerry Grandenetti. In my opinion, his greatest work was as the illustrator who helped defined the look of The Spirit that Will Eisner created. He also worked at DC, mostly on war comics of which there apparently way more than I knew (All-American Men of WarG.I. CombatOur Army at War, Our Fighting Forces and Star Spangled War Stories) though he did work on the House of Mystery and Strange Adventures series as well. (Died 2010.)
  • Born April 15, 1933 Elizabeth Montgomery. She’s best remembered as Samantha Stephens on Bewitched. Other genre roles included being Lili in One Step Beyond’s “The Death Waltz” which you can watch here. She also had one-offs in The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and voicing a Barmaid in the “Showdown” episode of Batman: The Animated Series. (Died 1995.)
  • Born April 15, 1959 Emma Thompson, 63. Professor Sybill Trelawney, Harry Potter franchise. Men in Black 3 and Men in Black: International as Agent O, I am LegendNanny McPhee and the Big BangThe Voyage of Doctor Dolittle as Polynesia, the extraordinary Tony Kushner derived HBO series Angels in AmericaBeauty and the Beast as Mrs. Potts, the castle’s motherly head housekeeper who has been transformed into a teapot, BraveBeautiful Creatures and Treasure Planet voicing Captain Amelia. 
  • Born April 15, 1974 Jim C. Hines, 48. [Item by Paul Weimer.] Writer, and blogger. Jim C. Hines’ first published novel was Goblin Quest, the tale of a nearsighted goblin runt and his pet fire-spider. Jim went on to write the Princess series, four books often described as a blend of Grimm’s Fairy Tales with Charlie’s Angels. He’s also the author of the Magic ex Libris books, my personal favorite, which follow the adventures of a magic-wielding librarian from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, who happens to have the same pet fire-spider lifted from the Goblin novels as his best friend. He has two novels in his Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series. Jim’s novels usually have the fun and humor dials set on medium to high. Jim is also an active blogger on a variety of topics and won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer at Chicon 7.
  • Born April 15, 1997 Maisie Williams, 25. She made her professional acting debut as Arya Stark of Winterfell in Game of Thrones. She was Ashildr, an immortal Viking woman of unique skills, the principal character of “The Girl Who Died”, “The Woman Who Lived”, “Face the Raven” and “Hell Bent” during the time of Twelfth Doctor. She was also Lucy in the Netflix SF iBoy. She is set to star as Wolfsbane in the forthcoming Marvel film New Mutants, due for release sometime, well who knows, as it keeps getting delayed. 

(12) HEROS AND STINKERS. Here’s a research project that will amuse (or bemuse) you: “All The Hobbits From Lord Of The Rings Ranked Worst To Best”. Looper ranks 18 of them.

… There are a lot of hobbits in “Lord of the Rings.” So many, in fact, that we’ve decided to round them all up into a good ol’ worst-to-best ranking. After all, what good is this iconic race of hole-dwellers if we can’t subjectively compare them to each other? Here are all of the hobbits who play at least a minor role in the story, ranked by a general conglomeration of heroics, accomplishments, humor, toughness, and overall importance to Tolkien’s world….

16. Ted Sandyman is a pathetic excuse for a Hobbit

…While he plays a similar part in the book, Sandyman’s role is a bit bigger on-page. He’s in a lengthy scene in “The Fellowship of the Ring” where he verbally spars with Sam, rebutting his romantic notions of the world. Then he reappears at the end of “The Return of the King,” where it’s revealed that he’s gone over to the dark side, helping Saruman’s minions overrun the Shire and turn it into an industrialized police state….

Ted Sandyman is eventually put in his place, but during his time in the story he proves to be nothing more than a troublemaking bully who runs at the first site of trouble. To the bottom of the list he goes…

(13) WE’RE DOOMED, DOOMED! [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] An analysis announced by Nature this week reveals that even if all the agreed actions from last November’s COP26 UN climate change summit were implemented global temperatures could not be kept below the target 1.5°C warming.

The researchers say that to meet this target we are going to have to actively remove carbon dioxide from the air.

Personally, having studied climate change for some decades now, I am all too aware of the difficulties. Indeed, back in 2009 I posted an online essay that concluded it would be difficult to keep warming below 2°C.

Since 2009, there has been a growing body of research pointing in the same direction, of which this Nature paper is but the latest.

Quantifications of the pledges before the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) suggested a less than 50 per cent chance of keeping warming below 2 degrees Celsius…

Limiting warming not only to ‘just below’ but to ‘well below’ 2 degrees Celsius or 1.5 degrees Celsius urgently requires policies and actions to bring about steep emission reductions this decade, aligned with mid-century global net-zero CO2 emissions.

(14) REPEAT AFTER ME. If you have eight minutes to spare you can watch a “Giant ‘Live Long and Prosper’ Supercut” with every appearance of the Vulcan phrase in every Star Trek series. Nerdist gives a rundown —

…This montage (which we first saw at Laughing Squid) includes all the times someone said that phrase, from the franchise’s first days to right now. Characters first told others to “live long and prosper” on the original cast’s show, animated series, and movies. Since then Star Trek characters in The Next Generation, First Contact, Voyager, Enterprise, Lower Decks, and Prodigy have said the phrase, too.

(Uh, can we go back and edit one into Deep Space Nine? Now that we know zero characters ever said the Vulcan salute, it seems weird, right?)

(15) MIXED MEDIA. Daniel Greene’s “Best of the Year 2021” rankings are unusual in that he includes written as well as filmed media, so there’s some nice shout-outs for several notable SF/Fantasy printed works in here.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The How It Should Have Ended gang takes on the Snyder cut in this video, which dropped Thursday. “How The Snyder Cut Should Have Ended”.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Jennifer Hawthorne, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Irwin Hirsh, Joyce Scrivner, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jeff Smith.]

World Fantasy Convention 2022 in New Orleans

World Fantasy Convention 2022 has named its Guests of Honor: Ginjer Buchanan, Victor LaValle, Jo Walton, Caitlín R. Kiernan, and Andrei Codrescu. The Toastmaster is Ursula Vernon. An artist Guest of Honor will be named later. Chaired by Tom Hanlon, the convention will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana November 3-6, 2022.

The event’s sponsor, the Louisiana Association for Literacy and the Fantastic, launched WFC 2022’s website and opened online registration early this week.

“While it’s been a challenge to organize and prepare for an event with a shorter time span than normal due to COVID, and Hurricane Ida didn’t help any,” said Hanlon, “we’re thrilled to have a committee with ideas and participation from New Orleans, throughout the South and across borders. We have an amazing committee who are working hard to ensure this year’s World Fantasy Convention exceeds our members’ expectations.” The event will be held at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, located downtown within walking distance of many historical sites.

Although registration officially opened at the 2021 World Fantasy Convention in Montreal, this week’s website launch made online registration possible. Initial pricing is $150 US for attending memberships and $50 US for supporting membership. “We are planning to host a hybrid convention, with a strong virtual component,” says Hanlon. “Our initial price for virtual membership is $50, the same as a supporting membership.” The prices for attending and virtual memberships will increase on February 1, 2022, while the supporting membership will remain $50.

This year’s WFC will be the second held in New Orleans. Hanlon also chaired the first one in 1994.

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 1/11/22 Look At My Fingers: Four Pixels, Four Scrolls. Zero Pixels, Zero Scrolls!

(1) COSINE. COSine is going ahead this weekend (January 14-16) in Colorado Springs, CO. In their latest publicity email, co-chairs Morland Gonsoulin and Arlen Feldman repeated their Covid policy —

Just a reminder – we have had a lot of people concerned about getting together in the era of Omicron and other Greek-lettered invaders. Everyone who comes to the convention must be able to show proof of COVID vaccination (either electronic—myColorado or a photo on your phone, or a paper copy of your COVID vaccination card) or proof of a negative COVID test within forty-eight hours of attending. Click here for information on testing. Also, masks will be required in all convention areas (remember, masks are primarily there to protect other people, not you). We will be giving prizes to people who have the coolest masks (that are also still effective)!

(2) ONCE YOU CAN REMOVE MONEY FROM THE ATMOSPHERE…. “Neal Stephenson Thinks Greed Might Be the Thing That Saves Us” – so he said to a New York Times interviewer.

What about the story we’re telling as a society — beyond art — about climate change? Is there a way we could be talking about it that’s more likely to motivate the kind of mobilization we had, say, during the Second World War? 

The difficulty is that it’s hard to get lots of people to change their minds. The United States did mobilize in a massive way during World War II, but we didn’t start getting serious about it until 1942. There had been a huge war raging since 1939, and the Brits were tearing their hair out waiting for the United States to get more involved, and it wasn’t until Pearl Harbor that there was a tipping point in public opinion that made it possible for America’s political leadership to declare war and to enter into it in a serious way. So the question asks itself: What might be a climate equivalent of Pearl Harbor? We’re already having little regional Pearl Harbors all over the place. We had our heat dome in Seattle over the summer, we had the mega tornado supercell that passed from Arkansas to Kentucky. These little pinprick Pearl Harbor events happen here and there, but it’s difficult to imagine one that would impact an entire country the size of the United States — if it did, it would be a really bad thing. We don’t want to put ourselves in the position of wishing that something terrible would happen. It’s also natural to assume that the CO2 problem is similar to other air-pollution problems we’ve had before. In the ’50s, there was a disaster in London because of too much coal smoke in the air, and they In the ’70s, a lot of the smog problem in L.A. was cleaned up by putting catalytic converters on cars…We’re accustomed to thinking that all we have to do is stop emitting the pollutant, and then nature will clean up the air. But it’s not true in the case of CO2 in the atmosphere. People confuse CO2 emission reduction or elimination with solving the problem. But even if we could stop emitting all CO2, we’d be stuck for hundreds of thousands of years with extremely elevated CO2 levels that nature has no quick way of removing from the air. That’s the key thing that has to be widely understood before we can actually begin envisioning ways to attack the problem….

Do you see a way out of that? 

When people find that they can obtain lots of money and power by believing certain things and following certain ways of thinking, then you can bet that they’ll enthusiastically start doing that. The reason that Enlightenment thinking became popular was that people figured out that it was in their financial best interest to avail themselves of its powers. …

(3) HEAD MASTER. A tribute to Gene Wolfe on the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Fifth Head Of Cerberus in The Spectator World: “’The Fifth Head of Cerberus’ at 50”.

… Ursula K. Le Guin called Gene Wolfe “our Melville.” His meandering plots, odd characters, and surreal scenes are certainly reminiscent of aspects of Melville, but Wolfe, a conservative and a Catholic, was most like the American author in his realistic view of human nature. According to Wolfe, people are capable of great acts of goodness and evil but have a certain facility for the latter, which are done, more often than not, in the name of the former….

(4) THE OTHER OF INVENTION. Camestros Felapton is inaugurating The Museum of Right-Wing Gadgets & Sundry Devices.

 Failed experiments! Miraculous near-inventions! Some things that actually exploded! Ladles and gentlemen, I present to you the Museum of Right-Wing Gadgets & Sundry Devices!

The first inductee is Theodore Beale’s “OOMouse,” better known as the “War Mouse” – “The M of RWG&SD Exhibit 1: The OOMouse”.

…A computer mouse with multiple buttons branded with the logo of the Open Office organisation. Also known as the ‘WarMouse’ — sold with a different colour scheme….

(5) WHAT THEY SHOULD HAVE LOOKED UP.  In the Washington Post, Kate Cohen argues that although Don’t Look Up is trying to be a critique of climate change skepticism but it doesn’t work because “its villains are so villainous, and its science deniers are so dumb” that the film is implausible. “What Netflix’s ‘Don’t Look Up’ gets wrong about climate change”.

… In scene after scene, the movie offers several explanations for our nonresponse:because we’re obsessed with celebrity culture and distrustful of science, because the news media is actually in the entertainment business, because politicians prioritize reelection over problem-solving, and because billionaire geniuses choose profit over everything.

To those, I would add — and this is crucial, I think — because climate change isn’t a comet speeding toward Earth.

Yes, I know, no analogy is perfect. But if writer and director Adam McKay (“The Big Short,” “Vice”) wants to persuade people to “make the climate crisis the No. 1 priority,” as he has said, then the metaphor he chose is perfectly wrong….

(6) SUPER GOOD HABITS. Except for Captain America I never think of superheroes even changing age, much less getting old, but TIME recommends them as role models: “What Marvel Superheroes Can Teach Us About Aging Well”.

It’s not easy being a superhero: They have enemies. They have monumental tasks to accomplish. They’re constantly battered. Beyond those dangers, however, they also practice several healthy behaviors that could carry them well into old age.

That’s what a team of Australian researchers recently discovered, as published in the light-hearted Christmas 2021 issue of the journal The BMJ. During pandemic lockdowns, the researchers immersed themselves in the world of Marvel superheroes. Their goal was to discover what these champions are or are not doing well when it comes to keeping their minds and bodies healthy as they advance toward their senior years—information that we regular mortals can incorporate into our New Year’s resolutions and apply to our own lives, too….

Here’s one example:

Stay away from loud noises

The superheroes’ “exposure to planets colliding and explosions would be a risk for hearing loss,” Hubbard says. “Particularly for older men, having hearing loss and not addressing it through wearing hearing aids is associated with an increased risk of dementia.” Therefore, wear hearing aids if necessary.

(7) SUPER BAD HABITS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The dismissal of two LAPD police officers was upheld by an appellate court when it was found that, “Gotta catch ‘em all” does not refer to Pokémon if you’re on duty. “’Aw, screw it’: LAPD cops hunted Pokémon instead of responding to robbery”.

The ruling explained:

Officer Mitchell alerted Lozano that “Snorlax” “just popped up” at “46th and Leimert.” After noting that “Leimert doesn’t go all the way to 46th,” Lozano responded, “Oh, you [know] what I can do? I’ll [go] down 11th and swing up on Crenshaw. I know that way I can get to it.” Mitchell suggested a different route, then told Lozano, “We got four minutes.”

For approximately the next 20 minutes, the DICVS captured petitioners discussing Pokémon as they drove to different locations where the virtual creatures apparently appeared on their mobile phones. On their way to the Snorlax location, Officer Mitchell alerted Officer Lozano that “a Togetic just popped up,” noting it was “[o]n Crenshaw, just south of 50th.” After Mitchell apparently caught the Snorlax— exclaiming, “Got ’em”—petitioners agreed to “[g]o get the Togetic” and drove off. When their car stopped again, the DICVS recorded Mitchell saying, “Don’t run away. Don’t run away,” while Lozano described how he “buried it and ultra-balled” the Togetic before announcing, “Got him.” Mitchell advised he was “[s]till trying to catch it,” adding, “Holy crap, man. This thing is fighting the crap out of me.” Eventually Mitchell exclaimed, “Holy crap. Finally,” apparently in reference to capturing the Togetic, and he remarked, “The[] guys are going to be so jealous.” Petitioners then agreed to return to the 7-Eleven (where Sergeant Gomez later met them) to end their watch. On the way, Mitchell remarked, “I got you a new Pokémon today, dude.”

(8) HOME OF FIGRIN D’AN AND THE MODAL NODES? Hollywood’s Scum and Villainy Cantina is still with us despite Covid. Only In Your State paid it a visit: “There’s A Star Wars-Themed Pub In Southern California, And It’s Enchanting”.

Tucked along Hollywood Boulevard, Scum and Villainy Cantina is a bar unlike any other in Hollywood or all of Southern California for that matter! An ode to all-things-nerdy, it’s a place where geeks unite and all fandoms are welcome….

(9) PANSHIN MEDICAL UPDATE. Alexei Panshin told Facebook followers today, “Friends, I’m home again from the pneumonia and heart attack episode I suffered in early December, but by no means fully functional.”

Alexei (with Mike McInerney) at Tricon, the 1966 Worldcon. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

(10) MIDDLE-EARTH PENMANSHIP. “J.R.R. Tolkien Writes in Elvish” – I didn’t know there was video of this!

(11) BUKATO OBIT. Polish fan Wiktor Bukato died July 26, 2021 reports Scientifiction #70. Bukato was a translator and publisher specializing in sff, who received the “Karel” award (for the best translator) from World SF in 1987. He also won the Big Heart Award in 1987. Bukato chaired the European Science Fiction Society from 1991-1993 and was a vice-chair for two more years.  And he was a past member of SFWA.

(12) MEMORY LANE.

2012 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] A decade ago, Jo Walton’s Among Others wins the Best Novel Hugo at Chicon 7 where John Scalzi was Toastmaster. It was her first Hugo nomination. Other nominated works that year were China Miéville‘s Embassytown, James S. A. Corey‘s Leviathan Wakes (the first in the Expanse series), Mira Grant‘s Deadline and George R. R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons. It would also win the BFA Robert Holdstock Award for Best Fantasy Novel and a Nebula along with being nominated for both Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature and the World Fantasy Award. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 11, 1906 John Myers Myers. Ahhh, Silverlock. I read the NESFA Edition which has the Silverlock Companion in it which is very useful as you know the novel’s very meta indeed. If you don’t have this, it was reprinted separately later. Thirty years after Silverlock was published, The Moon’s Fire-Eating Daughter novella came out. Myers claims it’s a sequel to Silverlock. (Died 1988.)
  • Born January 11, 1923 Jerome Bixby. His “It’s a Good Life” story became  the basis for an episode of the original Twilight Zone episode under the same name and which was included in Twilight Zone: The Movie. He also wrote four episodes for the original Star Trek series: “Mirror, Mirror”, “Day of the Dove”, “Requiem for Methuselah”, and “By Any Other Name”. With Otto Klement, he co-wrote the story upon which Fantastic Voyage series is based, and the Isaac Asimov novel were based. Bixby’s final produced or published work so far was the screenplay for The Man from Earth film. (Died 1998.)
  • Born January 11, 1924 William Johnston. A prolific tie-in novelist who did nine Get Smart novels plus ones for BewitchedThe MunstersChitty Chitty Bang BangDick Tracy and five for The Flying Nun series. He did only three non-tie-in novels. (Died 2010.)
  • Born January 11, 1930 Rod Taylor. First SFF role would be as Israel Hands in Long John Silver. He would follow that up with World Without End (which you probably heard of), the Hugo-nominated The Time MachineColossus and the Amazon Queen (Taylor claimed to have rewritten the script though there’s no proof of this), The Birds (I really don’t like it), Gulliver’s Travels, One Hundred and One Dalmatians and last, and certainly least, The Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy. (Died 2015.)
  • Born January 11, 1937 Felix Silla. He played Cousin Itt (sic) on The Addams Family in a role invented for the show. The voice was not done by him but rather provided by sound engineer Tony Magro in post-production. He was also responsible for the physical performance of Twiki on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century though the voice was supplied by Mel Blanc or Bob Elyea. And he played an unnamed Ewok on Return of the Jedi. (Died 2021.)
  • Born January 11, 1952 Diana Gabaldon, 70. I have friends who read her and enjoy immensely her Outlander series. They also avidly look forward to every new episode of the Outlander television series. Any of y’all fans of either? 
  • Born January 11, 1961 Jasper Fforde, 61. I read and thoroughly enjoyed every one of his Thursday Next novels, with their delightfully twisted word play, as I did his Nursery Crimes series. I thought a few years ago when I wrote a Birthday note that I had not read his Shades of Grey books and I was right — I now know that I read the first few chapters of the first one and wasn’t impressed enough to finish it. I do know I’ve not read the Dragonslayer series though I’ve heard Good Things about them. Who’s read them? 
  • Born January 11, 1963 Jason Connery, 59. Son of Sir Sean Connery. He’s best known for appearing in the third series of Robin of Sherwood, a series I loved dearly including the music which was done by Clannad which I’ve got live boots of. He also played Jondar in the Vengeance on Varosstory on Doctor Who during the Sixth Doctor era (my least favorite Doctor). He was Ian Fleming in Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming. And he was a young Merlin in Merlin: The Quest Begins.

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • In PVP, Brent and Jade experience the difficulties associated with modern parenting. Tolkien figures into today’s problem!
  • The Argyle Sweater shows the unsuspected cause of a weather phenomenon.
  • Bizarro has a “walks into a bar” story you won’t have thought of before.

(15) I SAY HELLO AND YOU SAY GOODBYE. Den of Geek’s Andrew Blair shares his opinion about the Doctor Who series’ climactic transitions: “Doctor Who: Ranking the Doctor’s Regenerations”. He like this one the absolute least:

12. Time and the Rani (1987)

Colin Baker to Sylvester McCoy

Time and the Rani’ is all over the place. I wouldn’t say it’s the worst story ever, because while it’s a lacklustre romp remembered mainly for its camp, it isn’t mean-spirited. Its CBBC tone was imposed by the BBC after the excesses of Season 22, but it manages a genuinely good cliffhanger to its first episode, and Sylvester McCoy’s performance – while also all over the place – does contain a few moments that showed where he would later take the character.

However, as a regeneration story it has to be bottom of the list because it’s a complete failure. Even allowing for the version written where Colin Baker appeared in all four episodes and regenerated at the end, he would have sacrificed himself in a similar way to Beyus: waiting behind (unnecessarily as it happens) to make sure some bombs went off and thwart the Rani’s plans.

(16) THE COMING CONCATENATION. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] SF² Concatenation has just tweeted its final advance post for its spring season edition. This edition sees two conreports: yes, real life, physical cons are slowly coming back. This one is on the 31st Festival of Fantastic Films.

Though this year saw a return of the Fest after last year’s cancellation due to CoVID-19, despite a vaccination programme, CoVID was still with us. As with other conventions, the Fest had to take CoVID into account, but being smaller could get away with a looser arrangement. The Fest’s organisers invited attendees to wear masks/face protection at their own personal choice, and many decided to opt to do so; in addition, a system of coloured wristbands was employed, allowing everyone to select and prominently display their preference (no contact, a measure of personal interaction, or full-on hugs and handshakes). This seemed to operate highly effectively.”

“Another casualty of the circumstances was that Gil’s proposed guest line-up had to be scrapped at the eleventh hour. Half a dozen intended personal appearances/Q&A sessions were abandoned, and Kate was left with the seemingly insurmountable problem of filling the gap. Luckily, the already-booked Frazer Hines confirmed his continued availability; in something of a master stroke, Kate carefully scanned ‘what’s on in Manchester’ and was able to provide a truly stellar surprise second guest in the form of Britt Ekland, who just happened to be in the area at the right time! Britt had been touring the UK as part of an ensemble cast in Bill Kenwright’s stage revival of The Cat and the Canary, the best-known version of which is Bob Hope’s version of John Willard’s venerable warhorse of a thunderstorm mystery, now almost a century old.”

(17) SCIENCE-LIKE FICTION. Joachim Boaz muses about the many examples of “Charts, Diagrams, Forms, and Tables in Science Fiction (John Brunner, Larry Niven, Christopher Priest, John Sladek, et al.)” in Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations (From 2017, but it’s news to me!) Includes lots of examples scanned from book pages.

…As of late I’ve been fascinated by pseudo-knowledge in science fiction and speculative fiction–the scholarly afterward in The Iron Dream (1972), the real medical citations in The Hospital Ship (1976), the invented medical citations in Doctor Rat (1976), and “diagrammatic” SF covers filled with maps or anthropological diagrams.

Whatever form it takes, pseudo-knowledge—perhaps derived from our world or even “real” knowledge in our world modified and inserted into another imaginary one—adds, at the most basic level, a veneer of veracity…. 

(18) GENRE ONSCREEN POPULARITY. JustWatch ranked the Top 10 genre movies and TV shows from December 2021. Genre data is sourced from themoviedb.org.

Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies and TV Shows in the US in December (01.12.-31.12.21)

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1Spider-Man: HomecomingStation Eleven
2Spider-Man: Far From HomeThe Wheel of Time
3The Amazing Spider-ManHawkeye
4Don’t Look UpDoctor Who
5Spider-ManThe Expanse
6Venom: Let There Be CarnageRick and Morty
7DuneLost in Space
8The Amazing Spider-Man 2Resident Alien
9Spider-Man: No Way HomeArcane
10Free GuyOutlander

(19) PARKING SPACE. “Stunning STAR WARS Diorama Features a Floating Millennium Falcon”Nerdist sets the frame.

…So, what exactly went into making this cool Star Wars display piece? For starters, Glen Makes used a Revell Snaptite Build and Play Star Wars: The Last Jedi Millennium Falcon 1:164 scale model. Next, they got themselves a Stirlingkit 1000g DIY Magnetic Levitation Module Floating Display Kit. Some Tap acrylic circles and clear plastic rods. Collectively, it cost around $200 to create. But the final product looks well worth it. Who wouldn’t want a Millenium Falcon as their display centerpiece?

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Halo Infinite,” Fandom Games notes that in the seventh Halo game the bad guys are still trying to destroy the universe by completing the halo, even though they failed at this in the six previous games.  Also, you can play this for free in multiplayer mode and enjoy “causing a mid-life crisis in a frat guy” when you kill off his character.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Dann, Kate Yeazel, Chris Barkley, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jamoche.]

To Be Fair, I Was Left Unsupervised: DisCon III, Day Two

To Be Fair, I Was Left Unsupervised: A Disjointed Chronicle of 79th World Science Fiction Convention, Discon III – December 16-17, 2021

By Chris M. Barkley: There are some days, you just feel LUCKY.

On this fine day, Juli, our friend Anna and I decided to try the Omni’s restaurant for breakfast. After ordering coffee and tea, I suddenly remembered that I had not taken my diabetic meds. 

I excused myself and walked back to the elevators. There was a bit of a crowd there so I decided to take the steps up one flight to our room. There are two sets of steps and the convention had posted signs indicating which ones to use going up and which to go down.  I went to the right and  up the steps.

As I opened the door, I looked down and became very surprised; there on the floor right at the entrance was my convention notebook! Apparently, it dropped out of my pocket as we left our room. I scooped it up and immediately wrote my name and phone number on the inside of the front cover. If I had the cash for a lottery ticket, I would have gotten one today. I was smiling for the rest of the morning…

We were joined at Breakfast by Chicago area super-fan Sandra Levy, who was having a splendid time at Discon III.

After breakfast, Juli and I decided to go Vote at the Site Selection area in the Dealer’s Room. Along the way, we encountered Laurie Mann at the Boskone Fan Table, who exhorted us to VOTE! 

At the Site Selection Desk, Sharon Sbarsky reported that had been a steady stream of fans coming to vote, both yesterday and today. 

As we wandered through the Dealer’s Room (which I found out later in the day was actually the Omni’s Parking Garage and looks very reminiscent of the sets they used on The Matrix films…) we came across the table of former Worldcon Chair (ConStellation, 1983) and bookseller Mike Walsh.

My eye was immediately drawn to a BIG collection of Krazy Kat comic strip Sunday pages. And when I mean big, I ACTUALLY MEANT GIGANTIC!

Being an ardent fan of George Herrimann, the late creator of the classic comic strip, I was immediately smitten with it. As I frantically wrote out a check to make the purchase, the Best Girlfriend in the World had already whipped out her credit card and gave me a very early Christmas gift. I LOVE you Juli and I thank you for loving my stupid face every day. At 3:00, we checked out the Con Suite, which was located on the 8th floor of the East Wing of the hotel. The food and drink were quite varied and plentiful but due to the pandemic, no one was allowed to eat in the suite. The suite’s balcony was open and a few people at a time did go out to take in the captivating view of Washington D.C.

At 4:00 p.m., we caught up with Hugo Award-winning author Jo Walton (whom we last encountered at the Dublin Airport on the way home) and the Hugo Award winning editor-in chief of Clarkesworld, Neil Clarke. Since I could not bring the many books I’d like to have signed, both happily consented to signing several book plates instead.

Also in the Dealers Room, Dave McCarty introduced me to writer/director Eric Brammer, who is shooting here with a crew for a documentary on Worldcons. He hopes to have either a rough cut or finished version done to show at Chicon 8 next year.

Later in the day, Juli and I sat for a while with fan writers and editors Nicki and Richard Lynch, who live about an hour away from D.C. They are longtime attendees of our local Ohio relaxacon  Midwestcon and asked about its status for 2022. (It is currently unknown to me.) We were lucky to catch them because they are lovely people (i.e.: baseball fans) and were only attending for the day…

Nearby, The Hugo Nominee’s reception was in full swing…with The Little Big Band, an ACTUAL swing band!

In the reception area, constant Filer (and Hugo Nominees) Olav Rokne and his partner Amanda Wakaruk were holding court with Skiffy and Fanty podcast host Shaun Duke.

We had dinner at the Open City restaurant, a delightful eatery located a half a block away from the hotel. Dinner was so delicious that Juli and I agreed that we would make that our destination for breakfast the next day.

As I began writing up the day’s events (and keeping an eye on the Eagles-Chief game on Fox) we tried to find a first run copy of Day One’s Dis ‘N Dat, which featured the first mention of the Site Selection controversy. We examined all the copies we had on hand but they were all the redacted versions.

We eventually surmised that by the time we arrived on Wednesday, ALL of the offending copies had already been rounded up and destroyed.

But anyone who does have an original, is in possession of one of the rarest of all ephemeral artifacts, ground zero of this year’s biggest fannish scandal. I can only imagine seeing it on Antiques Roadshow twenty or thirty years from now…

An Editorial About the WSFS Business Meeting. On the second day of DisCon III, a Preliminary Business Meeting of the World Science Fiction Society was held to confirm the agenda for the Main Business Meeting, which will be held on Friday. 

I did not attend the Preliminary Meeting nor do I intend to go to the Main Business Meeting. 

The Business Meeting and I became first acquainted in 1999 at Aussiecon 3 and parted bitterly at the Dublin Worldcon in 2019 and I, dear reader, was the plaintiff.

Back on November 22nd, File 770 published a link to Nicholas Whyte’s analysis of the 2021 WSFS Business Meeting’s Hugo Award Study Committee, which, over the past several years, has been charged with recommending rule and category changes to the WSFS Constitution.

What they have done is left a trail of obfuscation, hand-wringing and utter disdain for the proposals that came before them. I should know, I was one of the people doing the proposing. 

It was only through the persistence of myself and a dedicated group of supporters and collaborators that any changes have been made at all. They have my undying gratitude for all the time and effort they have put into getting those changes through the arduous process of being ratified.

As many of you regular readers may know, I was one of the main proponents of the Young Adult Book Award, now known as the Lodestar Award. 

And, as one of the more recent additions to the WSFS Constitution, the Lodestar Award is up for re-ratification this year. I support its continuation, even though I, and many other people, would prefer it be recognized as a full-fledged Hugo Award category, as it was originally intended.

Reading Nicholas Wyhte’s comments on this year’s Business Meeting agenda stirred up some strong feelings within me.

Specifically, I have found that many times, the proposals that had been made and debated online in advance of the Business Meeting, most egregiously in the case of the Young Adult Book Award, there were motions to delay debate on or outright reject proposals with BM sanctioned committees, like the Hugo Award Study Committee mentioned by Mr. Whyte, for the sole purpose of obstructing and eventually killing any possibilities for new award categories. 

There have been arguments that any new award proposals should be accompanied by evidence or statistics that would support a new award. The people making these objections claim they are doing so to protect the integrity of the Hugo Awards but know that such evidence is either hard to collect or nearly impossible to produce. 

As any mathematician worth their salt will tell you that a negative cannot be proven. The only appropriate way to see if a proposal is viable is to persuade a Worldcon committee to use its special award privilege as specified in the WSFS Constitution:

3.3.19: Additional Category. Not more than one special category may be created by the current Worldcon Committee with nomination and voting to be the same as for the permanent categories. The Worldcon Committee is not required to create any such category; such action by a Worldcon Committee should be under exceptional circumstances only; and the special category created by one Worldcon Committee shall not be binding on following Committees. Awards created under this paragraph shall be considered to be Hugo Awards. 

In the past decade, the members of the Business Meeting have taken very swift action on some issues when there has been a consensus that something needed to be done.

Per wit; the Fancast Award and Best Series Award were fast tracked through the process without too much resistance and legislation was quickly passed and ratified during the Angry/Sad/Rabid Puppy Crisis to deter a rash of slated voting.    

In the meantime, the Young Adult Book Hugo Award proposal languished in committees and discussion groups as they argued over the worthiness of honoring a branch of literature that the Locus and Nebula Awards have no problem honoring previously for many years. 

The Lodestar Award, sans it’s Hugo Award status, finally debuted in 2018. 

As I have argued over the past twenty one years, the Hugo Awards NEED to evolve and change with the times lest they become irrelevant and obsolete in our cultural landscape. And when I say change, which includes the categories I had a hand in creating, the Long and Short Form Best Dramatic Presentation, Short and Long Form Editing and Best Graphic Story or Comic (which, upon further reflection, NEEDS the term Manga added to the title to expand and clarify the category’s reach).

In examining its record over the past few years, I too have concluded that the Hugo Award Study Committee has been a dismal failure, having accomplished nothing except squelching debate on new categories and delaying vitally needed reforms for a whole host of issues, including categories I mentioned above and the Best Fan and Professional Artist categories as well. 

As Mr. Whyte mentioned in his blog post, the Lodestar Award is up for a final ratification for a permanent spot on the Hugo Awards ballot. I have every expectation that it will be ratified, seeing that it has more than proved its worthiness having averaged well over 500 nominating ballots over the past four years. 

I am also of the opinion that if the Lodestar Award were struck down by the Business Meeting, it would not only be a black eye for the fannish community and it would also invite a backlash from the wider Young Adult readers around the world.

The other measure up for re-ratification is the Best Series Award; I expect that it too, will be a permanent fixture on the ballot, at least until the literary quality of the series being nominated falls off.

The move to limit a television or a streaming series to a single nomination (instead of the current limit of two) is probably a mistake because it will restrict the voting for two connected, serialized episodes, which I think would be profoundly unfair. The only upside I can see is that more people will start nominating an entire mini-series or a season of a series in the BDP Long Form category, something that I have been advocating people to do, even at the expense of some of the longer eligible films. 

The solution to this particular conundrum would be to redefine the Best Dramatic Presentation into Best Series and Best Film categories, with a third category for very short items of under one hour’s running time. (This solution was actually submitted to the Business Meeting by myself and Vincent Docherty way back in 2015 when we were both members of another “Hugo Award Committee”. It was summarily dismissed and subsequently ignored.)  

While I enthusiastically support the idea of a Best Audio Book award, I am afraid that it will either be voted down not to be considered or, if they’re lucky, relegated to a study committee where it will either be hashed around for several years or ignored and discarded. 

I have a word of advice to Michele Cobb and Nicole Morano, the fans who proposed the Best Audio Book Award. The only way to advance your idea is to show up with enough supporters to advance your amendment past the Preliminary Meeting to get to the Main Meeting and hope for some spirited debate between yourself and them. 

If you fail, my advice to you is to be PERSISTENT. Show up and keep showing up.

If not this year, then next year and the year after that. Wear them down until they actually listen to you. Persuade people. Build coalitions. Spread the word. Build a groundswell of support among fans of audio books.

And, if you love your idea and believe in it, do not retreat and never, ever, surrender to the naysayers.

Good Luck!

Estimated Onsite Head Count: Still unknown

Luminaries Sighted: Geez, EVERYBODY, I think.

Pixel Scroll 11/4/21 Last Scroll Of The Planet Fileton, Pix-El (The Cousin Clark Doesn’t Talk About)

(1) DOCTOR WHO SEASON BEGINS. Plenty of Radio Timesy-Wimey stuff to start today’s Scroll. First — “Doctor Who series 13 episode 1 review ‘The Halloween Apocalypse’”Radio Times does an episode recap, and beyond this excerpt it’s rather spoilery:

…Flux – Chapter One: The Halloween Apocalypse gets off to a rollicking start. Mid escapade. High peril. No hanging about. Well, unless you’re Yaz and the Doctor, who, as we join them, are dangling from a “gravity bar” over an ocean of roiling acid. The pace is set for a fast, fun-packed opener, impressively achieved by Chibnall and his team in the face of COVID.

Shorn of former sidekicks Ryan and Graham, the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and Yaz (Mandip Gill) make good sparring partners, fielding a balance of amity and antagonism, and falling into the trad pattern in which the Time Lord withholds vital information, imperilling the companion’s life, who in turn proves to be plucky and resourceful….

(2) BOX SCORE. And how many watched the kickoff of Season 13? Let Radio Times tell you: “Doctor Who overnight ratings revealed for The Halloween Apocalypse”.

The overnight viewing figures for yesterday’s episode of Doctor Who are in, with the series 13 premiere drawing in almost 4.5 million viewers.

BBC News entertainment correspondent Lizo Mzimba shared the audience statistics on Twitter, writing that an audience of 4.43 million watched series 13’s first episode – Chapter One: The Halloween Apocalypse.

While the figures are higher than most of series 12’s overnight statistics, they are lower than those for last season’s premiere, which was watched by 4.88 million.

(3) RAMPANT SPECULATION. Don’t read this if you’re avoiding spoilers: Radio Times returns with the gossip being shared around the TARDIS’ water-cooler: “Swarm Doctor Who regeneration theories – is Swarm a Time Lord?”

… Obviously, there’s a lot to dissect from the episode – but one of the most striking moments had to be the introduction of new (or possibly old) baddie Swarm, who claims to be an ancient foe of the Doctor now wiped from her memory (thanks to events glimpsed in series 12 finale The Timeless Children)….

(4) WORK OF A LIFETIME. Artist James A. Owen has launched a Kickstarter appeal to fund an art book retrospective/meditation/collection of illustration, comics, pop culture, and stories celebrating his career: “Illustrations & Illuminations by James A. Owen”. As of this writing, it’s raised $13,421 of the $30,000 goal.

…I envisioned this book as the place where I could collect and display the very best of that work: the color covers and best pages from STARCHILD; the line art, color covers, and process drawings for illustrations from the IMAGINARIUM GEOGRAPHICA books; the drawings I made of J.R.R. TOLKIEN, C.S. LEWIS, and the other Inklings of Oxford from Diana Glyer’s book BANDERSNATCH; the lost graphic novel proposal for Peter Beagle’s THE LAST UNICORN; covers for books by Jeff VanderMeer & Cat Rambo, and Alma Alexander, and Catherynne Valente; illustrations and covers for the emagazine THE INTERGALACTIC MEDICINE SHOW; comics adaptations of a song by TORI AMOS and a story by F. PAUL WILSON; unseen art for LOST TREASURES OF THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN; the covers from my periodical WORDS & PICTURES; designs for the magazines ARGOSY and INTERNATIONAL STUDIO; spot illustrations and pinups from every era of my career; and much, much more….

(5) A FINE ROMANCE, WITH NO KISSES. Deadline reports “’Eternals’ Banned In Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain & Oman”.

Eternals was originally scheduled to open in the region on Nov. 11.

While official reasons weren’t provided by either the studio or the local territories, here’s our understanding of what went down:

In Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman, the censors were seeking further cuts beyond any scenes of intimacy and that Disney opted not to make the edits, hence distribution certificates weren’t issued.

Meanwhile in Kuwait and Qatar, the Chloe Zhao-directed super-gods movie was blocked. The issue, we hear, may not solely be the same-sex kiss, but rather that overall these markets have historically had a problem with the depiction of gods and prophets, something they consider blasphemous.

In the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt we understand that a version of the film will be released that removes all scenes of intimacy — be they heterosexual or homosexual. This is generally normal practice for these markets…

(6) ALL THE ANGLES. At A Pilgrim in Narnia, Brenton Dickieson provides a fascinating in-depth review of a recent book about Tolkien’s Chaucer scholarship: “The Doom and Destiny of Tolkien’s Chaucer Research: A Note on John M. Bowers, Tolkien’s Lost Chaucer (2019)”.

Tolkien’s Lost Chaucer is a book about a book that was doomed from the start….

… However, the entire book is really about how the fertile imagination and poetry of Chaucer provides an unceasingly rich bed for Tolkien’s scholarship and mythopoeic work. Tolkien’s Lost Chaucer really does reveal Tolkien’s thinking about words, accents, language development, regional dialects, poetic beauty, storytelling, character development, and moral and creative rooting. It is also an excellent book for showing Tolkien’s process as a thinker and editor. Readers of the Middle-earth histories and other Tolkien archival collections (like Christopher Tolkien’s publication of Beowulf) will recognize the patterns of intensive work, attention to detail, harried productivity, and chronic procrastination endemic to Tolkien’s lifetime at the desk.

When I mention “parallels” between Chaucer and Tolkien, I really mean that this is what the book is about. These parallels are often striking, sometimes surprising, and almost always thoughtful (even when they are peculiar). I wish, as I always do of writers about intertextual influence, that Bowers would have better distinguished the different kinds of probability of influence on a case-by-case basis. Usually, though, the reader can make that decision, deciding if this is a Chaucerian moment in Tolkien or merely a striking coincidence….

(7) MODEL LYRICS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Helen Brown says that Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Major General’s Song” from The Pirates of Penzance (you know, “I am the very model of a modern major general”) has surprising sf resonances because of Tom Lehrer.

The smart-alecky language and precision-engineered rhyme scheme of (W.S.) Gilbert’s original lyrics made their way, via (Tom) Lehrer, into 20th-century science-fiction nerd culture, which made the song a perfect fit for tv shows.  On a 1978 episode of the BBC’s Dr. Who written by Douglas Adams (The Pirate Planet) Tom Baker’s incarnation of the Time Lord sang, ‘I am the very model of a Gallifreyan Buccaneer.’  The song was also sung in episodes of Star Trek:  The Next Generation (1992), Babylon 5 (1997), and Star Trek:  Discovery  (2019)… In 2017, the adorably chaotic minions from Universal’s animated film Despicable Me 3 turned the song into giddy gibberish as “Papa Mamma Loca Pipa.” As their helium-high voices tear into lines like ‘toka bocca pissa lalasagnaa,’ you can imagine Gilbert laughing from beyond the grave.

(8) KRUGMAN, PALMER, WALTON & MORE. City University of New York will present “Imagining the Future: Science Fiction and Social Science”, a free virtual event, on November 10 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. Reservations required — register on Zoom. (The event will be available a few days later on their YouTube channel.)

What do science fiction and social science have in common? Much in the way economists and political scientists forecast the results of social and economic structures, science-fiction writers envision future civilizations, both utopian and dystopian, through systematic world-building. Paul Krugman, distinguished professor of economics at the CUNY Graduate Center, joins in a conversation about the connection between the social sciences and fantasy fiction, and how they often inspire each other. The panel, including sci-fi novelists and social scientists who often refer to fiction in their writing and interviews, includes: Henry Farrell, a professor working on democracy and international affairs at Johns Hopkins University and editor-in-chief of the Monkey Cage blog at The Washington PostAda Palmer, author of the Terra Ignota series and associate professor of history at the University of Chicago; Noah Smith, who writes about economics at Noahpinion and is a former Bloomberg columnist and assistant professor at Stony Brook University; and Jo Walton, whose many books include Tooth and ClawHa’Penney, and the recent Or What You Will.

(9) SLIME TIME. “Ghostbusters Confidential: Inside The Original Ghost Shop” is an in-person Artist Talk being presented at the Museum of Neon Art in Glendale, CA on Saturday, November 20 at 5:00 p.m. Pacific. If you’re going to be in the neighborhood, tickets are available for $10 at the link. 

To celebrate the release of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, neon and kinetic sculptor Stuart Ziff returns to MONA to share an entertaining, behind-the-scenes glimpse of the creatures in the original 1984 Ghostbusters movie. As “Head of Ghost Shop,” Stuart managed over 50 artists and technicians to create the film’s iconic monsters and creatures. Stuart will explain the creature-creation process–from concept drawings to filming on set– for fan-favorite creatures including “Slimer”, “Terror Dogs”, and The “Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.” 

(10) ONCE A FANNISH MECCA. Daytonian in Manhattan profiles “The Doomed 1919 Hotel Pennsylvania”, a famous NYC hotel remembered by fans like Andrew Porter under its operating name the Statler-Hilton as the site of the 1967 Worldcon, NyCon 3, and other sff events. Porter commented there:

In 1966, a bunch of science fiction fans, myself included, checked out holding our annual World Science Ficrtion Convention at the then-Statler-Hilton. I remember being shown around. Sights included the enormous drained swimming pools, over which were built office space, as well as all the function rooms, some of which no longer exist. We did indeed hold the convention there, with numerous problems, including that the elevator operators were on strike because they were being automated out of existence. I remember the hotel rooms had window air conditioners, but also had hot, cold, and ice water faucets in the bathrooms, from the days before air conditioning was installed. Over the 1960s to 1990s, numerous science fiction, comics and Star Trek conventions were held in the hotel, and I have numerous photos with those facilities behind the people. Or just Google “1967 World Science Fiction Convention” to see reports, photos, etc.

All the hotel fittings were auctioned in September, and the building is expected to be demolished .

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1996 – Twenty-five years ago, DS9’s “Trials and Tribble-ations” first aired in syndication. A most delightful episode, it blended footage from the original “The Trouble with Tribbles” into the new episode in a manner that allowed the characters from DS9 to appear to interact with the original Trek crew. The story was by Ira Steven Behr, Hans Beimler and Robert Hewitt Wolfe with Ronald D. Moore and René Echevarria writing the actual script.

Paramount promoted the episode by arranging the placement of around a quarter million tribbles in subways and buses across the United States. Huh. Critics loved it. Really. Truly. They all turned into fanboys.  And everyone loved that they brought Charlie Brill back to film new scenes. It was nominated for a Hugo at LoneStarCon 2 but lost out to Babylon 5’s “Severed Dreams”. I personally think it should’ve won. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 4, 1912 Wendayne Ackerman. Was the translator-in-chief of 137 novels of the German space opera series Perry Rhodan, the majority published by Ace Books. She left Germany before WWII to escape anti-Semitism, working as a nurse in France and London. After the war she emigrated to Israel where she married her first husband and had a son. Following their divorce she moved to LA in 1948, and soon met and married Forrest J Ackerman. (Died 1990.)
  • Born November 4, 1917 Babette Rosmond. She worked at magazine publisher Street & Smith, editing Doc Savage and The Shadow in the late Forties. Rosmond’s first story, co-written by Leonard M. Lake, “Are You Run-Down, Tired-“ was published in the October 1942 issue of Unknown WorldsError Hurled was her only genre novel and she only wrote three short genre pieces. She’s not available at the usual suspects. (Died 1997.)
  • Born November 4, 1920 Sydney Bounds. Writer, Editor, and Fan from Britain who was a prolific author of short fiction, and novels — not just science fiction, but also horror, Westerns, mysteries, and juvenile fiction — from 1946 until his death in 2006. He was an early fan who joined Britain’s Science Fiction Association in 1937. He worked as an electrician on the Enigma machine during World War II, and while in the service, he started publishing the fanzine Cosmic Cuts. The film The Last Days on Mars (an adaptation of “The Animators”) and the Tales of the Darkside episode “The Circus” are based on stories by him. In 2005, two collections of his fiction were released under the title The Best of Sydney J. Bounds: Strange Portrait and Other Stories, and The Wayward Ship and other Stories. In 2007, the British Fantasy Society honored him by renaming their award for best new writer after him. (Died 2006.)
  • Born November 4, 1934 Gregg Calkins. Gregg Calkins, Writer, Editor, and Fan. Mike Glyer’s tribute to him reads: “Longtime fan Gregg Calkins died July 31, 2017 after suffering a fall. He was 82. Gregg got active in fandom in the Fifties and his fanzine Oopsla (1952-1961) is fondly remembered. He was living in the Bay Area and serving as the Official Editor of FAPA when I applied to join its waitlist in the Seventies. He was Fan GoH at the 1976 Westercon. Calkins later moved to Costa Rica. In contrast to most of his generation, he was highly active in social media, frequently posting on Facebook where it was his pleasure to carry the conservative side of debates. He is survived by his wife, Carol.”
  • Born November 4, 1953 Kara Dalkey, 68. Writer of YA fiction and historical fantasy. She is a member of the Pre-Joycean Fellowship (which if memory serves me right includes both Emma Bull and Stephen Brust) and the Scribblies. Her works include The Sword of SagamoreSteel RoseLittle Sister and The Nightingale. And her Water trilogy blends together Atlantean and Arthurian mythologies. She’s been nominated for the Mythopoeic and Otherwise Awards. 
  • Born November 4, 1953 Stephen Jones, 68. Editor, and that is putting quite mildly, as he went well over the century mark in edited anthologies edited quite some time ago. The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror accounts for eighteen volumes by itself and The Mammoth Book of (Pick A Title) runs for at least another for another dozen. He also, no surprise, to me, has authored a number of horror reference works such as The Art of Horror Movies: An Illustrated HistoryBasil Copper: A Life in Books and H. P. Lovecraft in Britain. He’s also done hundreds of essays, con reports, obituaries and such showing up, well, just about everywhere. He’s won a number of World Fantasy Awards and far too many BFAs to count. 
  • Born November 4, 1955 Lani Tupu, 66. He’d be here just for being Crais and the voice of the Pilot on the Farscape series but he’s actually been in several other genre undertakings including the 1989 Punisher as Laccone, and Gordon Standish in Robotropolis. He also had roles in Tales of the South SeasTime Trax and The Lost World. All of which we can guess were filmed in Australia. Lastly he appears in the Australian remake of the Mission: Impossible series which if you haven’t seen it is quite excellent. I just found it in DVD format several years back. 
  • Born November 4, 1960 James Vickery, 61. In Babylon 5, he played Neroon which is where I remember him from as he was a Right Bastard there. His major Trek universe role was as Rusot, a member of Damar’s Cardassian resistance group, appearing in the DS9 episodes “The Changing Face of Evil”, “When It Rains…” and “Tacking Into the Wind”.  He also played a Betazoid in Next Gen’s “Night Terrors” and a Klingon in Enterprise‘s “Judgment” episode. And he voiced the character Legolas in a radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) REUBEN AWARD. Ray Billingsley, creator of the comic strip Curtis, won the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist from the National Cartoonists Society on October 17. Billingsley is the first Black person to win in the 75-year history of the award. A video of his acceptance speech is here. SVA profiled him in February: “’Curtis’ Creator and SVA Alumnus Ray Billingsley on His Career, His Influences and Representation in Comics”.

(15) STUFFING YOUR CHRISTMAS SCOFFING. The Guardian’s Stuart Heritage enjoys a snarkfest at the expense of an annual UK TV tradition: “John Lewis Christmas advert 2021: this alien girl is here to ravage our planet”.

There are plenty of theories why the John Lewis Christmas ad no longer hits as hard as it once did. You could look at the fortunes of John Lewis itself, which has spent the last couple of years locked in a nightmare of plunging revenues and store closures. You could look at how aggressively every other retailer has attempted to rip off the tear-jerky John Lewis Christmas ad formula, to the extent that sitting through an ITV commercial break in November or December is now exactly the same as suffering through the first 10 minutes of Up on a neverending loop in an abandoned corn silo full of crying children.

But judging by this year’s offering, you might also suggest that John Lewis has run out of ideas. Because this year’s ad is such a straight-down-the-line John Lewis Christmas advert that you can only imagine it was assembled by tombola.

Sweet children? Check. Bittersweet ending? Check. Maudlin cover version of a song you once liked? Check, in this case a version of Together in Electric Dreams that sounds like it was performed by someone who has tumbled down a well and just realised nobody is coming to rescue her…. 

(16) REN FAIRES. Maryland’s NPR outlet produced a segment about “The Timeless Endurance Of Renaissance Faires”. Listen to it at the link. The guests are Eleanor Janega, a guest teacher in women’s history at the London School of Economics and Political Science; host, “Going Medieval;” author, “The Middle Ages: A Graphic History”; Kevin Patterson, executive director, Red Barn Productions; son of the founders of the original Renaissance Faire; and Rachel Lee Rubin, professor and chair of American Studies, University of Massachusetts-Boston; author, “Well Met: Renaissance Faires and the American Counterculture.” There’s also a sizable photo gallery.

The modern Renaissance Faire blossomed from a children’s arts education program in Agoura, California, in 1963.

Now, almost 60 years later, it’s a nationwide industry.

More than 200 festivals operate around the country — complete with jousters, performers, carnival games, vendors selling bespoke costume pieces, and various meats on a stick.

So why has the Renaissance Faire endured, nay, proliferated, all these years later?

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. An Audi is such a powerful car that it lets customers buy scary houses!

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, John A Arkansawyer, Bill, 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) riffing off an idea by Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 10/12/21 The Scroll It Stole Was The Scroll Of Scrolls Called The Scroll Of Neverending

(1) FIVE-STAR FRAUD. “Amazon Fake Reviews Scam Exposed in Data Breach” reports The Passive Voice.

The SafetyDetectives cybersecurity team uncovered an open ElasticSearch database exposing an organized fake reviews scam affecting Amazon.

The server contained a treasure trove of direct messages between Amazon vendors and customers willing to provide fake reviews in exchange for free products. In total, 13,124,962 of these records (or 7 GB of data) have been exposed in the breach, potentially implicating more than 200,000 people in unethical activities.

Sellers would tell prospective reviewers they bought an item from Amazon and gave them a 5-star review, the seller would refund the purchase price and let the customer keep the item. The refund was actioned through PayPal and not directly through Amazon’s platform, which made the five-star review look legitimate to Amazon moderators.

(2) MOVERS AND SHAKERS. K. W. Colyard contends these are “The Most Influential Sci-Fi Books Of All Time” in a Book Riot post. By my count it has 73 books. Notwithstanding the title, its work is more along the lines of advising people if-you-like-this-book-you’ll-like-these-other-books.

…The most influential sci-fi books of all time have shaped not just science fiction and its myriad sub-genres, but horror, fantasy, and manga, as well. Filmmakers have drawn inspiration for the stories between their covers, and real-world STEM developments have been made in their names. Without these books, for better or worse, our world would not be what it is today….

I was delighted to see this title in the list, though perhaps I shouldn’t say that too loudly since my past enthusiasm for its Hugo win so annoyed Jo Walton she wrote a whole book about the award:

DOOMSDAY BOOK BY CONNIE WILLIS (1992)

A Hugo and Nebula winner, Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book follows a time-traveling historian to 14th century Oxford, where she becomes stranded in the midst of the Black Death, thanks to a global influenza outbreak spreading in her home time. A treat for all readers, Doomsday Book will particularly tickle fans of other stories about time-traveling academics, such as Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair and Genevieve Cogman’s The Invisible Library.

(3) OFF SOCIAL MEDIA. Julie Poole, a poet and nonfiction author, has an opinion piece on Publishers Weekly: “A Writer Says Goodbye to the Twittersphere”.

…I recognized that my unwillingness to create accounts and slowly but surely amass a following could be a deal breaker for agents, editors, and publishers alike. My response is this: does anyone remember Myspace? People are already leaving Facebook in droves. While Twitter and Instagram are holding strong, Gen Z has found TikTok and Snapchat, hinting that they might be reluctant to type or read 280 characters or view images that don’t move. Or maybe Gen Z will give up social for good, having seen the sort of harm it can do.

Culture is always shifting. The market is saturated with writers who want to reach readers. I want readers, too; however, I’ve decided to put my health and well-being first. No one needs to see the paranoid stuff I’d post—about hidden cameras and tracking devices—amid a manic episode. And I don’t need to feel addicted, anxious, depressed, or numbed out by platforms that are designed to sell ads.

In the end, it’s all about the words. And the best thing I can do for my career is just write.

(4) SECOND FOUNDATION BITE OF THE APPLE. SYFY Wire has the story: “AppleTV+ renews Foundation for Season 2, Goyer celebrates more Asimov stories”.

The ambitious screen adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s award-winning classic book series has paid off at Apple TV+, with Apple revealing today that Foundation — only into its fourth week at the premium streamer — already has been renewed for a second season….

(5) METROPOLIS ON THE BLOCK. Bidding ends October 14 on The Gary Munson Collection of Horror and Fantasy Rare Books Auction at Heritage Auctions. Many nice copies and first editions of important SF/Horror/Fantasy works. Among them are three different early editions of Metropolis by Thea von Harbou, a work better remembered for its film adaptation by the author’s husband, Fritz Lang, in 1927. The auction notes say —

The film was written by von Harbou in collaboration with her husband, Fritz Lang, who also directed the movie adaptation. Indeed, the book itself was intended to be something of a treatment prior to the final screenplay and filming actually began before the book was published.

There’s a signed limited edition, a regular first edition, and a second photoplay edition, which HA all dates to 1926.

(6) RAND REPORT. Watching the latest (in 1966) episode of Star Trek, Galactic Journey’s Janice L. Newman notices a disturbing trend: “[October 12, 1966] Inside Out (Star Trek’s ‘The Enemy Within’)”.

… The episode begins with the transporter being used to ‘beam up’ one of the ubiquitous extras from a planet which, we are told, gets very cold at night. There’s some sort of malfunction with the transporter, and when Captain Kirk is beamed up next, he sways as though faint. Scotty escorts him to sick bay, leaving the transporter room empty when it activates again and beams in…another Captain Kirk?

It’s immediately apparent that something is off about the second Kirk. He rushes over to Sick Bay to demand alcohol from Doctor McCoy, yells at crewmates, and in a deeply disturbing scene, menaces and attacks Yeoman Rand. (Is it just me, or does it feel like Yeoman Rand’s only purpose aboard the ship is to be menaced and attacked? We’ve seen it happen in the past three episodes: Charlie in “Charlie X”, a random infected crewperson in “The Naked Time”, and now the captain himself.)…

(7) RUTHIE TOMPSON (1910-2021). Ruthie Tompson, named a Disney Legend in 2000, died October 10 reports the New York Times: “Ruthie Tompson Dies at 111; Breathed Animated Life Into Disney Films”.

If Snow White looked suitably snowy in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” Disney’s first animated feature; if Pinocchio’s nose grew at just the right rate; if Dumbo was the correct shade of elephantine gray; all that is due in part to the largely unheralded work of Ruthie Tompson.

One of a cadre of women who in the 1930s and ’40s worked at Disney in indispensable anonymity — and one of its longest-lived members — Ms. Tompson, who died on Sunday at 111, spent four decades at the studio. Over time, she worked on nearly every one of Disney’s animated features, from “Snow White” to “The Rescuers,” released in 1977.

A Disney spokesman, Howard Green, said she died at the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s retirement community in Woodland Hills, Calif., where she had been a longtime resident.

Ms. Tompson joined Disney as an inker and painter. She later trained her eye on the thousands of drawings that make up an animated feature, checking them for continuity of color and line. Still later, as a member of the studio’s scene planning department, she devised exacting ways for its film cameras to bring those flat, static drawings to vivid animated life.

“She made the fantasies come real,” John Canemaker, an Oscar-winning animator and a historian of animation, said in an interview for this obituary in 2017. “The whole setup then was predigital, so everything was paper, camera, film and paint.”…

(8) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1988 – Thirty three years ago, Jane Yolen’s Sister Light, Sister Dark was first published by Tor. It was nominated for a Nebula Award.  It’s the first novel of her Great Alta Saga which is continued in White Jenna and would be concluded in The One-Armed Queen in which a character named Cat Eldridge appears as an ethnomusicologist. (I found her a century old folktale collection she wanted. It was a fair exchange. She’s now on the list of folk who get chocolate from me regularly.) The series would be nominated for a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award but that would go to Ellen Kushner’s Thomas the Rhymer that year. The Great Alta Saga is available at a very reasonable price from the usual digital suspects. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 12, 1904 Lester Dent. Pulp-fiction author who was best known as the creator and main author of the series of novels chronicling Doc Savage. Of the one hundred eighty-one Doc Savage novels published by Street and Smith, one hundred seventy-nine were credited to Kenneth Robeson; and all but twenty were written by Dent. Several writers of late have featured him as a character in their novels. (Died 1959.)
  • Born October 12, 1916 Lock Martin. His claim to fame was that he was one of the tallest humans that ever lived.  At seven feet and seven inches (though this was disputed by some as everything is, isn’t it?), he was also quite stocky.  He had the distinction of playing Gort in The Day The Earth Stood Still. He was also in The Incredible Shrinking Man as a giant, but his scenes were deleted. (I suspect those deleted scenes for The Incredible Shrinking Man are now available given our present reality.) He shows up in Invaders from Mars as the Mutant carrying David to the Intelligence though he goes uncredited in the film. And lastly he’s a yeti in The Snow Man which he is credited for. (Died 1959.)
  • Born October 12, 1942 Daliah Lavi. She’s in Casino Royale as The Detainer, a secret agent. In the same year, she was in Jules Verne’s Rocket to the Moon as Madelaine. She was Purificata in The Demon, an Italian horror film.  If you’re into German popular music, you might recognize her as she was quite successful there in Seventies and Eighties. (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 12, 1956 Storm Constantine. Writer with her longest running series being the Wraeththu Universe which had at least four separate series within it, all of which are known for their themes of alternative sexuality and gender. She had also written a number of non-fiction (I think they are) works such as Sekhem Heka: A Natural Healing and Self Development System and The Grimoire of Deharan Magick: Kaimana. (Died 2021.)
  • Born October 12, 1963 David Legeno. He’s best remembered as Fenrir Greyback both of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows films. His first genre role was in Batman Begins as League of Warriors villain, and he had a role as Borch in the quite excellent Snow White and the Huntsman. Mike reported on his tragic death here. (Died 2014.)
  • Born October 12, 1965 Dan Abnett, 56. His earlier work was actually on Doctor Who Magazine, but I’ll single out his co-writing Guardians of the Galaxy #1–6 with Andy Lanning, The Authority: Rule Britannia and his Border Princes novel he did in the Torchwood universe as great looks at him as a writer. And let’s not forget his script for DC’s The New Deadwardians.
  • Born October 12, 1966 Sandra McDonald, 55. Author of some sixty genre short stories, some of which are collected in Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories (which won a Lambda Award for LGBT SF, Fantasy and Horror Works) and Lovely Little Planet: Stories of the Apocalypse.  Outback Stars is her space opera-ish trilogy. All three of her novels are available from the usual suspects but neither of her short story collections are. 
  • Born October 12, 1968 Hugh Jackman, 53. Obviously Wolverine in the Marvel film franchise. He’s also been the lead character in Van Helsing as well as voicing him in the animated prequel Van Helsing: The London Assignment. One of his most charming roles was voicing The Easter Bunny in The Rise of The Guardians, one of my favorite films. And he played Robert Angier in Nippon 2007 Hugo-nominated The Prestige based off the World Fantasy Award winning novel written by the real Christopher Priest, not that pretender.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro follows a house hunting genie.  

(11) SUPERMAN JR.’S LOVE LIFE. “The New Superman Is Officially Bisexual”Yahoo! has details.

DC’s league of queer superheroes (or queeroes, if you will) just added another character to its ranks: none other than the Man of Steel himself, Superman. Or, to be more specific, Superman Jr.

Jon Kent, the half-human, half-Kryptonian son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, is the newest hero to wear the iconic “S” and take on the mantle of Superman within the sprawling continuity of DC Comics. And on November 9, in Superman: Son of Kal-El #5, he will come out as bisexual.

The story, which was written by Tom Tayler and drawn by Jon Timms, includes a scene in which an exhausted Jon opens up to his friend Jay Nakamura, leading to the two characters sharing a kiss. And the apple doesn’t appear to have fallen too far from the tree: just like his dad, Jon has developed feelings for a reporter….

This development for the newest Superman of Earth marks the latest in a series of inclusive creative decisions at DC. Last year, Kid Quick was introduced as a gender-non-conforming successor to The Flash, while Young Justice‘s next-generation Aquaman is currently an openly gay young man. Most recently, the current comic book version of Robin discovered he was attracted to men. They join a long lineage of DC characters who have become more inclusive of LGBTQ+ representation, including Batwoman, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Midnighter and The Aerie….

Comicsgate’s Jon Del Arroz was quick to throw shade on these developments in a YouTube video:

Today Superman, the strongest hero on the planet, comes out as bisexual. Oh my God it’s just super cringe and this is exactly what they do. The whole point of this exercise by Tom Taylor is to get a New York Times article, to get an IGN article, to get on the front page of whatever. What used to happen in comics in the early 2000s is they found out that via gimmicks — actually this started in the back 90s with the Death of Superman — they found out that through gimmicks of killing off major characters and all that and doing things like killing Captain America, and Civil War and all that they could get mainstream attention to their comic book. They could get a buzz in the media. And so the comic industry shifted from one of telling interesting stories one of really keeping readers engaged based on continuity, based on love of the characters, based on great heroic battles, it shifted to what gimmick can we get out so that the mainstream industry media industry picks up our stories so that we can sell a couple extra short-term books. And it really is that cynical. It really is that lame. And once that stopped working, because they overused the death of everybody — I mean at this point I think they’re doing the death of Doctor Strange, it’s like he’s going to come back next week or whatever so like who cares….

Actor Dean Cain was critical, too, but as someone who used to play Superman he got to complain on Fox: “Dean Cain Slams Superman Coming Out as Bisexual” says The Hollywood Reporter story.

Former Superman actor Dean Cain has criticized DC Comics’ decision to have the current Superman come out as bisexual.

“They said it’s a bold new direction, I say they’re bandwagoning,” the 55-year-old actor told Fox & Friends on Tuesday. “Robin just came out as bi — who’s really shocked about that one? The new Captain America is gay. My daughter in [The CW series] Supergirl, where I played the father, was gay. So I don’t think it’s bold or brave or some crazy new direction. If they had done this 20 years ago, perhaps that would be bold or brave.

“Brave would be having him fighting for the rights of gay people in Iran where they’ll throw you off a building for the offense of being gay,” Cain continued. “They’re talking about having him fight climate change and the deportation of refugees, and he’s dating a hacktivist — whatever a hactivist is. Why don’t they have him fight the injustices that created the refugees whose deportation he’s protesting? That would be brave, I’d read that. Or fighting for the rights of women to attend school and have the ability to work and live and boys not to be raped by men under the new warm and fuzzy Taliban — that would be brave. There’s real evil in this world today, real corruption and government overreach, plenty of things to fight against. Human trafficking — real and actual slavery going on. … It’d be great to tackle those issues.”

(12) SECRET SHARER. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is from a Washington Post article by Devlin Barrett and Moriah Balingit about Jonathan Toebbe, who was arrested and charged with passing on nuclear submarine secrets to a foreign power. “Jonathan and Diana Toebbe, accused spies, due in federal court Tuesday”.

…Toebbe’s Facebook page indicated that one of his favorite books is Cryptonomicon–a thick science fiction novel popular with math and computer science geeks.  One of the protagonists is Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse, a mathematical genius and young Navy captain, whose grandson becomes a ‘crypto-hacker’ on a mission to build a ‘futuristic data haven…where encrypted data can be stored and exchanged free of oppression and scrutiny….

(13) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter did not touch that dial! So he was tuned in when Jeopardy! contestants hit some bumps in tonight’s episode.

Final Jeopardy: category, Publishing

Answer: Last name of brothers James, John, Joseph & Fletcher, whose company published magazines with their name as well as books.

Wrong question: Who is Penguin?

Correct question: What is Harper?

In another category, “Making a short story long,” the answer was: “This sci-fi great teamed with Robert Silverberg to expand his classic 1941 short story ‘Nightfall’ into a 1990 novel.”

The contestant correctly asked, “Who is Isaac Asimov?”

(14) USER GUIDANCE REFRESHED AT A WELL-KNOWN PLATFORM. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Daily Kos updated its “Rules of the Road,” which seems (to me) a lot like what [us] fans call CoC (Code of Conduct). I have NOT read their full document, so I am not (here) endorsing, advocating, criticizing or otherwise opining on the document nor suggesting that SF cons, etc be looking for lembas-for-thought. I am (simply) noting the document, in case either of you might find it worth perusing. “Introducing the new-and-improved Rules of the Road”. Here’s an example of one of the changes:

  • The next difference in this updated version is we added a new entry, #13, to our DO list about avoiding microaggressions:

DO recognize and avoid microaggressions. Microaggressions are subtle slights, comments, gestures, and behaviors that convey implicit biases against marginalized groups and people. Microaggressive comments and behavior are often unintentional but that does not mitigate the harm to the recipient. Examples include making a comment that perpetuates stereotypes, denying or rejecting someone’s reported experience because yours is different, singling out an individual to speak on behalf of an entire marginalized group, targeting marginalized people with disproportionate criticism, and denying or minimizing the existence and extent of discriminatory beliefs, practices, and structures. Understand the detrimental impacts of microaggressive comments and behaviors and accept responsibility for taking self-corrective actions.

We have always had Rules about bigoted language, but microaggressions are actually much more common on our platform, and they are an area where we must improve. If you’re interested in reading more on this topic, please read this post on microaggressions where we first introduced this as a new entry into the Rules of the Road and gave guidelines on how to respond to them if you see them on site. 

(15) HEY ANDROIDS — THESE ARE THE ELECTRIC SHEEP YOU ARE LOOKING FOR! Another Daily Kos article touts this advance in sheepherding: “Agrovoltaics = Agriculture + Solar Photovoltaics = Win For Everyone”.

I have often heard anti-solar energy voices talk about solar installations taking farm land out of production in an attempt to create a food vs green energy conflict. Forward thinking farmers have tried mixing solar with agriculture and, happy surprise, the two go together like peanut butter and chocolate.

Farmers are trying out mixing agriculture with solar panels and the results are awesome. Sheep, like those shown above, love the nice shady spots to rest between grass grazing. The land owners love it because they don’t have to mow around the solar panels. The solar energy companies love it because it opens up huge amounts of land to potential solar production….

(16) DRESSED FOR EXCESS. Everybody is passing around Newsthump’s gag, “Blue Origin crew concerned by new uniforms ahead of Shatner space flight. You’ll get it immediately when you see the photo.

… Until now, flight suits and uniforms have been a standard blue colour, and the sudden change has left crewmembers – none of whom have a first name – questioning what the unexpected change could mean….

(17) YOUR BRIGHT PALS. In “Honest Game Trailers: Tales of Arise,” Fandom Games says this anime-derived adventure will take lonely players to a world “where you not only have actual friends but they all have glowing swords.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Rob Thornton, Jumana Aumir, Bill, Daniel Dern, (via) Amanda S. Green, Jeffrey Smith, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day @JacksonPeril.]

Pixel Scroll 9/24/21 Scrolling Pixels Give You So Much More

(1) SUES WHATEVER A SPIDER CAN. The heirs of Steve Ditko filed to reclaim their rights to some well-known Marvel characters – now Marvel is suing to prevent them. The Hollywood Reporter looks over the filings in “Marvel Suing to Keep Rights to ‘Avengers’ Characters”.

Disney’s Marvel unit is suing to hold on to full control of Avengers characters including Iron Man, Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, Ant-Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Falcon, Thor and others.

The complaints, which The Hollywood Reporter has obtained, come against the heirs of some late comic book geniuses including Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Gene Colan. The suits seek declaratory relief that these blockbuster characters are ineligible for copyright termination as works made for hire. If Marvel loses, Disney would have to share ownership of characters worth billions.

In August, the administrator of Ditko’s estate filed a notice of termination on Spider-Man, which first appeared in comic book form in 1962. Under the termination provisions of copyright law, authors or their heirs can reclaim rights once granted to publishers after waiting a statutory set period of time. According to the termination notice, Marvel would have to give up Ditko’s rights to its iconic character in June 2023….

If the plaintiffs win, Disney expects to at least hold on to at least a share of character rights as co-owners. The studio would have to share profits with the others. Additionally, the termination provisions of copyright law only apply in the United States, allowing Disney to continue to control and profit from foreign exploitation.

(2) LIKE PEANUT BUTTER AND CHOCOLATE. Lincoln Michel on why noir blends well with sf, at CrimeReads: “Why Noir and Science Fiction Are Still a Perfect Pairing”.

… I think the answer lies first in the fact that both genres have an inherent critique of the social order. They question the state of the world, refusing to just accept the corruption, inequality, and destruction as “the way things are.” Or at least saying, sure, it’s the way things are, but it’s still screwed up.

While other crime genres are often fundamentally a defense of the status quo—police procedurals focus on petty criminals and heroic cops, spy thrillers defeat threats to the established global order—noir presents the established order as crime. It is the rich and the powerful, and the institutions that serve them, that are the true villains. (Of course this isn’t true of every single noir work, but it is of the ones that influenced SF subgenres like cyberpunk.) Take Dashiell Hammett’s masterpiece Red Harvest, in which a rich man and a corrupt police force collaborate with gangs to crush poor workers. Or Chinatown, in which a business tycoon controls government institutions to choke off water supplies. This critique of the social order is why the prototypical hardboiled (anti)hero exists outside of the official law enforcement structure. They’re not a police officer, FBI agent, or government spy. They’re a private investigator, and sometimes even unlicensed as in the case of Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins, and realize that the legal system is as corrupt as the organized crime it is fighting…and often in bed with.

(3) RAUM, THE FINAL FRONTIER. Cora Buhlert describes West German TV’s new (in 1966) space adventure show: “[September 24, 1966] Science Fiction TV from West Germany: Space Patrol: The Fantastic Adventures of the Spaceship Orion: Episode 1: Attack From Space” at Galactic Journey.

…The series has the unwieldy title Raumpatrouille – Die Phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffs Orion (Space Patrol – The Fantastic Adventures of the Spaceship Orion), which viewers have already shortened to Raumpatrouille Orion or just plain Orion.

Like the new US series Star TrekSpace Patrol Orion starts with an opening narration, courtesy of veteran actor Claus Biederstaedt, which promises us a fairy tale from the future. In the year 3000 AD, nation states have been abolished. Humanity has settled the ocean floor and colonised far-flung worlds. Starships, including the titular Orion, hurtle through space at unimaginable speeds.

An impressive title sequence and a spacy and very groovy theme tune follow, courtesy of Peter Thomas, who also supplies the music for the Edgar Wallace and Jerry Cotton movies….

(4) TANKS FOR THE MEMORIES. By George, Steve Davidson makes a good point: “Space Force Uniform Controversy” at Amazing Stories.

The Space Force, America’s latest (and completely unnecessary) military branch unveiled its proposed service uniform.

A lot of fans (and fan-adjacent television watchers) have remarked that the proposed dress uniform greatly resembles those created for the entirely fictional space navy depicted in Battlestar Galactica (the completely unnecessary re-boot, to be precise).

Yes, yes it does.  However, those more familiar with real military history would probably be more inclined to think that the new digs for Space Force look more like General George S. Patton’s tanker’s uniform that the general proposed between world wars one and two; about the only difference between uniforms then and uniforms now is Patton’s addition of a football helmet, while it is very unlikely that Space Force will adopt the recommended propeller beanie….

Comparative photos at the link.

(5) COVER SCORES. The public’s choices for best covers in the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition have been announced – and the outcome was a lot close than expected.

(6) JO WALTON KICKSTARTER. A funding appeal launched at Kickstarter aims to produce a Lifelode Audiobook by Jo Walton.

Lifelode is a Mythopoeic Award winning fantasy novel by Jo Walton that has never had an audiobook. Jack Larsen is a young man from New Zealand who has a wonderful voice for reading aloud and wants to become an audiobook reader. Together, they could be amazing…

Jo Walton writes:

The main point of this is to try to kickstart the audiobook reading career of young New Zealand fan Jack Larsen, whose wonderful reading voice has been a mainstay of the Scintillation community through the pandemic.

They will have Jack read the book in a professional studio and have it professionally edited (which is the part which costs all the money) and then sell it where all good audiobooks are sold. 

At the Kickstarter site you can listen to Jack read the first chapter — click on the video there (which is just audio). Bear in mind, Jack did this demo on his phone.

As of today’s writing the appeal has raised $2,457 of its $7,891 goal.

(7) FOUNDATION LAYS ITS CORNERSTONE. Camestros Felapton supplies detailed comments about the beginning of the new series: “Review: Foundation Episode 1 (Apple TV)”.

2021 for all its faults, is offering fans of classic science fiction two (potential) treats: a new movie version of Dune and a TV adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. It’s interesting that of these two highly influential stories that with first you can make a good guess about what specific scenes will appear and in the second I’ve no idea what we will be getting….

Warning, it’s spoilers all the way down from there.

(8) PARTS IS PARTS. In contrast, Rolling Stone’s Alan Sepinwall isn’t a believer. “New Formula for ‘Foundation’ Doesn’t Add Up”.

…Like psycho-history itself, all of these changes make sense in theory. But none of them quite accomplish what the show’s creative team needs them to. This Foundation is, like the clones’ palace on the capitol planet of Trantor, stunning to look at(*) but ultimately cold and sterile. Despite the cast and crew’s best efforts — and what appears to be an unlimited budget, even by Apple’s lavish standards — this Foundation remains an assemblage of concepts in search of a compelling TV show….

(9) LANGDON JONES (1942-2021). Author, editor and musician Langdon Jones, whose short fiction primarily appeared in New Worlds, beginning with “Storm Water Tunnel” in 1964, has died, Michael Moorcock reported on Facebook.

One of my closest, longest and best friendships was with Lang Jones, a talented composer, editor and writer, one of the most modest people I have ever known, with the sweetest nature of almost any human being I’ve met. He was Assistant Editor of New Worlds. He restored Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake to the edition you probably read and wrote the music for The Rhyme of the Flying Bomb.  You can hear his lively piano on The Entropy Tango.  His own collection of stories The Great Clock, remains his only published fiction.  I last saw him about two years ago, at the wonderful wedding of his daughter Isobel to Jason Nickolds, for whom he was extremely happy, and he said he had stopped writing and composing and had never felt better.  He leaves a son, Damon, as well as his daughter.  One of the few people of whom it’s possible to write: Loved by all.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1964 – Fifty-seven years ago, Mary Poppins had its New York City premiere. (Yes, it’s genre as a flying nanny is surely within our realm.) It was directed by Robert Stevenson from the screenplay by Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi as based off P. L. Travers’s Mary Poppins series. It was produced by Walt Disney and starred Julie Andrews in her first screen acting role. Principal other cast were Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson and Glynis Johns. The film was shot entirely at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, using painted London background scenes.  

It won’t surprise you that the film received universal acclaim from film critics, and that Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke got lavish praise. Box office wise, it earned some forty five million dollars on an estimated budget of four or so million dollars (Disney never released the budget officially) and it’s had at least another hundred million in box office rentals as well since then.

Audience reviewers currently at Rotten Tomatoes give it an excellent eighty-eight percent rating. A sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, was recently released and it too rates high among audience reviewers currently at Rotten Tomatoes with a sixty five percent rating. Dick Van Dyke has a new role in it. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 24, 1922 — Bert Gordon, 99. Film director most remembered for such SF and horror films as The Amazing Colossal ManVillage of the Giants and The Food of the Gods (based of course on the H.G. Wells’ novel The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth).  His nickname “Mister B.I.G.” was a reference both to his initials and to his preference for directing movies featuring super-sized creatures. 
  • Born September 24, 1934 — John Brunner. My favorite works by him? The Shockwave RiderStand on Zanzibar which won a Hugo at St. Louiscon and The Sheep Look Up. I’m also fond of The Squares of The City which was nominated for a Hugo at Tricon. That was easy. What’s your favorite works by him? (Died 1995.)
  • Born September 24, 1936 — Jim Henson. As much as I love The Muppet Show, and I’ve watched every show at least twice, I think The Storyteller is his best work. That’s not to overlook Labyrinth, The Witches and The Dark Crystal and the first two Muppets films which are also excellent. Warning note: the three newest takes done on The Muppets suck beyond belief. Disney should be ashamed. (Died 1990.)
  • Born September 24, 1945 — David Drake, 76. Writer with his best-known solo work being the Hammer’s Slammers series of military science fiction which are space operas inspired by the Aubrey–Maturin novels. He has also drafted story ideas that were then finished off by co-authors such as Karl Edward Wagner, S.M. Stirling, and Eric Flint. He’s very, very well stocked at the usual suspects. 
  • Born September 24, 1945 — Ian Stewart, 76. Mathematician and  writer. He makes the Birthday Honors for the four volumes in The Science of Discworld series he wrote with Jack Cohen and Terry Pratchett. It was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000. Each of the books alternates between the usually absurd Discworld story and serious scientific exposition. (All four volumes are available from the usual suspects.) He would write a number of genre novels, none of which I’m familiar with. Anybody here read his works? 
  • Born September 24, 1951 — David Banks, 70. During the Eighties, he was the Cyberleader on Doctor Who in all the stories featuring the Cybermen — Earthshock (Fifth Doctor story), The Five DoctorsAttack of the Cybermen (Sixth Doctor story), and Silver Nemesis (Seventh Doctor story). In 1989, he played the part of Karl the Mercenary in the Doctor Who: The Ultimate Adventure stage play. There were two performances where he appeared as The Doctor as he replaced Jon Pertwee who had fallen ill.
  • Born September 24, 1957 — Brad Bird, 64. Animator, director, screenwriter, producer, and occasionally even a voice actor whom I’m going to praise for directing The Iron Giant (nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000), The Incredibles (winner of Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form at Interaction), Incredibles 2 and Tomorrowland. He’s the voice of Edna Mode in both the Incredibles films. 
  • Born September 24, 1965 — Richard K. Morgan, 56. The Takeshi Kovacs novels are an awesome series  which are why I haven’t watched the Netflix series. His fantasy series, A Land Fit For Heroes, is on my TBR, well my To Be Listened To pile now. And yes I read Thin Air, the sequel first and it’s quite excellent. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

A meeting with the shrink is the subject of today’s Wulffmorgenthaler-239 at Politiken. Lise Andreasen supplies the translation from Danish:

So … You left him, you killed his aunt and uncle, you blew up his sister’s planet, you chopped his hand off … and NOW you want him to consider you a father figure and join you “on the dark side”. How do you think Luke feels about it?

(13) TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES. Or both… Shat might be on his way to space after all these years — “Beam me up? TMZ says William Shatner will take Blue Origin suborbital space trip”.

The next crewed suborbital spaceflight planned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture — which could launch as early as next month — is due to carry Star Trek captain William Shatner, according to the TMZ celebrity news site.

If the report based on unnamed sources is true, that would make Shatner the oldest person to fly in space at the age of 90, besting the record set by 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk during the first crewed flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital spacecraft in July….

(14) THE WARMED-UP EQUATIONS. “’Astronauts check our scripts!’: inside the new age of sumptuous sci-fi TV”. The Guardian tells how we got here.

…The current renaissance can be traced to Moore’s groundbreaking 2004 reimagining of hokey 70s space odyssey Battlestar Galactica. Updating the premise for a post-9/11 TV landscape, he turned a niche sci-fi story into mainstream watercooler TV. “Whether you liked sci-fi or not, you found yourself binging all these seasons,” says Ben Nedivi, one of Moore’s co-creators on For All Mankind. 

While Star Trek, too, is thriving in the current sci-fi landscape, with no less than five series currently in production, it seems unlikely to cross the final frontier into the halls of prestige sci-fi. For Nunn, this comes down to one thing: aliens. 

While the golden age shows of the 90s relied heavily on prosthetics – and, in the case of Farscape, puppets – to present characters from other worlds, today’s sombre offerings dwell solely on human problems. “With Battlestar Galactica, you’ve got robots, but you haven’t got aliens,” Nunn points out. “And The Expanse is similar. So they can be read as science fiction but also dystopias, whereas Star Trek and Babylon 5 and Farscape, even Stargate, all had alien life-forms at their core.”…

… For Shankar, a great strength of The Expanse is that it uses space as more than just a backdrop. “This is a show that turns space into a character,” he says. With a PhD in applied physics, he served as Next Generation’s official science adviser. “On Star Trek it was really about maintaining continuity with the fake science, making sure you used the phasers when you were supposed to, and not the photon torpedoes,” he says. “The technical manual [for the Enterprise] was quite detailed, but it wasn’t real. In The Expanse we use real physics to create drama. There’s a sequence in the first season where the ships are turning their engines on and off so you’re shifting from having weight to weightlessness. Two characters suddenly lose gravity and can’t get back to where they need to be, and the solution is conservation of momentum.”

This absolute commitment to accuracy is shared by the team behind For All Mankind. “We have an astronaut who reads our scripts,” explains co-creator Matt Wolpert. “He’ll tell us when we come up with ideas that are against the laws of physics.”…

(15) TED TALK. Ted White has two books out – one fiction, one non-…. Both were designed by John D. Berry, and published with the assistance of Michal Dobson’s Dobson Books. White is former editor of Amazing® and Heavy Metal® magazines and a past Best Fan Writer Hugo winner.

He’d been set up. Someone (and “independent consultant” Ray Phoenix was pretty sure who) had filed a phony stolen car report. When a freak bus accident allows him to escape into the woods, Ray lands in an entirely new world of trouble – small-town cocaine dealing, counterfeit money, and a web of strange and violent relationships that will take all of Ray’s considerable skills to unravel.

In 1986, legendary science fiction writer and editor Ted White went to jail for possession and sale of marijuana. A prolific correspondent, Ted kept up a steady stream of letters during his confinement that vividly and powerfully detail everyday life behind bars, from relationships with other prisoners and guards to living in cells and common rooms – not to mention the fine jailhouse cuisine. (Seriously, don’t mention it.) Ted White’s letters make you feel like you’re really in jail…and really glad you’re not.

(16) DISCONTENT. [Item by David Doering.] I caught this piece on TechDirt today. It appears that Sony’s art department enjoyed this fan artist’s rendering of She-Venom so much they included it in their official poster. Too bad they didn’t acknowledge that or offer to pay for it.  I certainly see more than just coincidence here. Even if Sony/others have the rights to the character, the similarities are too striking to not say the Sony version owes something to the fan artist. The comments debate both sides. “Sony Pictures, Defenders Of The Creative Industry, Appears To Be Using Fan Art Without Giving Credit”

… You can say the images don’t match up precisely if you like, but they’re certainly very damned close. As mentioned about similar past cases, this likely isn’t a copyright infringement issue; the fan artist doesn’t own any rights to the character he drew. But, again, if the copyright industries are going to do their maximalist routine under the guise of protecting those that create content, well, fan art is content…. 

(17) EVADING THE SURVEILLANCE SOCIETY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] BBC Radio 4’s The Digital Human episode “Faceless” notes that it’s becoming harder to hide from facial recognition technology and asks what does this means for people who protest against political systems … So we are SF fans and know all about Orwell’s 1984, William Gibson’s novels etc.  Or do we?  It looks like things are getting worse, but there are ways to fight back…. Digital Human looks at the issues with examples from a non-political English teacher becoming a wanted terrorist on the run in 12 days, to counter-measures.

Johnathan Hirshon works in PR and marketing and describes himself as ‘The Faceless man’ because he’s managed to keep his face off the internet for over twenty years. This may seem extreme but Neda Soltani explains how one online photo of her face, meant she had to leave her family, country and profession. Artist and curator, Bogomir Doringer whose archived and curated thousands of faceless images off the internet talks about how technology is not only choreographing the way we use our faces but persuading us to hand over our biometric data with our use of apps that change the way we look. .

Artist Zach Blas is interested in queer culture and has created masks using biometric data from minority groups, to push back on the possibility of people being categorised by biometrics. Zach uses masks to show that facial recognition technology can be disrupted. Stephen has been trying to do just that. Stephen is from Hong Kong and spent the summer protesting against the Extradition bill. He and his fellow protesters wore masks to evade identification from the police and Hong Kong’s smart lamp posts. The remit of the protest grew when the wearing of masks by protesters was banned. Stephen believes that by using facial recognition technology on the streets of Hong Kong the authorities in Hong Kong and China are creating a sense of ‘white terror’. Stephen is now protesting in the UK but still feels this ‘white terror’. While protesting people from mainland China have been taking photos of him and other protesters. He knows that photos can go global and by using facial recognition tech he could be easily identified. Is it becoming impossible to escape recognition even when we would like to hide?

(18) HE BLABBED. Tom Hiddleston tells Loki stories: Untold: Tom Hiddleston.

(19) AN ADVENTURE WITH COMPANIONS. Yes! Another excuse to watch David Tennant! “Around the World in 80 Days” will air on PBS.

David Tennant stars as literature’s greatest explorer Phileas Fogg in a thrilling new adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic adventure novel coming to MASTERPIECE on PBS. (Air date to be announced.)

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Lise Andreasen, David Doering, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 9/11/21 TribblePlusUnGood

(1) THE BRONZE TROUSERS. “’Cheese!’: Bronze statue of iconic duo Wallace and Gromit unveiled in Preston by creator Nick Park” reports ITV News Granada.

Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park unveils the new statue in Preston. Photo credit: PA

A large bronze statue of the iconic, cheese-loving duo Wallace and Gromit has been unveiled in Lancashire.

The bench sculpture is based on the inventor and his loyal pooch as they appeared in short-film ‘The Wrong Trousers’, and now sits pride of place outside Preston Markets.

(2) WORDSMITH. John Scalzi celebrates “30 Years of Being a Professional Writer” with a not-very- shocking admission:

…Thirty years on I do not have the writing career I thought I would have when I started out. I’ve said this before and I think people disbelieve me, but: I had no intention of being a novelist, or, at the very least, I assumed that if I were to write novels, that they would be a nice occasional side hustle. What I hoped for at the time — and what I assumed would be the case — is that I would write for newspapers all my life. The gig at the Fresno Bee would lead to gigs at other newspapers, and eventually I would land up at the New York Times/Washington Post/Los Angeles Times/Chicago Tribune as a daily columnist, riffing off local and world events like idols such as Mike Royko or Molly Ivins. Twenty-two-year-old me fully expected an entire career of daily deadlines and 800-word bursts of opinion.

And, I’m not going to lie, part of me is sad I didn’t get that life. Not too sad, because, well. Hello, welcome to Whatever, which I have been writing at for twenty-three years come Monday…. 

(3) NOUGHTS & CROSSES AUTHOR. Guardian reporter Sian Cain interviews YA SFF writer Malorie Blackman: “‘Hope is the spark’”.

…The last 18 months, however, have been a significant challenge. Having been classed as extremely vulnerable due to a health condition, Blackman has been isolating for most of the pandemic – and it is clear that, as she puts it, she “loves a chat”. “It has been a very strange time,” she says. “I was getting government letters saying: ‘Don’t go out.’ I was trying to live as normal a life as possible, knowing full well it was extraordinary circumstances. But you do what you can, so I focused on my writing. Endgame was a good thing because it felt like I was doing something. I wasn’t saving lives, but I was doing something.

What she was doing is probably the hardest thing an author can do: writing the ending. After 20 years, six books and three novellas, Noughts & Crosses, Blackman’s most famous series, is finished. It is set in Albion, an alternative Britain that was colonised by Africa, where the black population call themselves Crosses (as they are closer to God), while the white are Noughts (poorer, institutionally discriminated against)….

(4) IT’S TIME TO BE SIMULTANEOUS. The good folks at Space Cowboy Books have released Simultaneous Times, Vol. 2.5, a free ebook anthology of stories featured at the Simultaneous Times podcast. One of them is by Cora Buhlert. Here is a book trailer for the anthology: 

(5) KRUGMAN, PALMER & WALTON. CUNY will host “Imagining the Future: Economics and Science Fiction” on November 10 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. Register for Zoom webinar access at the link.

What do economics and science fiction have in common? Much in the way economists forecast the results of social and economic structures, science-fiction writers envision future civilizations, both utopian and dystopian, through systematic world-building. Paul Krugman, distinguished professor of economics at the CUNY Graduate Center, joins in a conversation about the connection between the social sciences and fantasy fiction, and how they often inspire each other. Featuring: Ada Palmer, author of the Terra Ignota series and associate professor of history at the University of Chicago; Jo Walton, whose many books include Tooth and Claw, Ha’Penney, and the recent Or What You Will; and others.

(6) FRAMING TOOL. Maybe an algorithm will help make that blank screen less empty: “New tool could help authors bust writer’s block in novel-length works” reports Penn State News.

… Researchers at the Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology recently introduced a new technology that forecasts the future development of an ongoing written story. In their approach, researchers first characterize the narrative world using over 1,000 different “semantic frames,” where each frame represents a cluster of concepts and related knowledge. A predictive algorithm then looks at the preceding story and predicts the semantic frames that might occur in the next 10, 100, or even 1,000 sentences in an ongoing story….

The researchers’ framework, called semantic frame forecast, breaks a long narrative down into a sequence of text blocks with each containing a fixed number of sentences. The frequency of the occurrence of each semantic frame is then calculated. Then, the text is converted to a vector — numerical data understood by a machine — where each dimension denotes the frequency of one frame. It is then computed to quantify the number of times a semantic frame appears and signifies its importance. Finally, the model inputs a fixed number of text blocks and predicts the semantic frame for the forthcoming block.

…Authors could use the tool by feeding a part of their already-written text into the system to generate a set of word clouds with suggested nouns, verbs and adjectives to inspire them when crafting the next part of their story.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1979 – Forty-two years ago on this date, Wonder Woman put away her lasso for the last time as her series came to end after three seasons. The show’s first season aired under the name of Wonder Woman on ABC and is set in the 1940s, during World War II. The last two seasons aired on CBS and was set in the then-current day late Seventies, with the title changed to The New Adventures of Wonder Woman. It starred Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman / Diana Prince and Lyle Waggoner as Steve Trevor Sr. There would be fifty-nine episodes and a movie before it ended. Currently you can find it on HBO Max along with everything Wonder Woman that Warner Media has done. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an excellent eighty percent rating.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 11, 1934 — Ian Abercrombie. He played a most excellent and proper Alfred Pennyworth on the terribly well done Birds of Prey, a certain Professor Crumbs in Wizards of Waverly Place, he was Wiseman in Army of Darkness andvoiced Palpatine in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. (Died 2012.)
  • Born September 11, 1940 — Brian De Palma, 81. Though not a lot of genre work, he has done some significant work including Carrie. Other films he’s done of interest to us are The Fury which most likely you’ve never heard of, and the first Mission: Impossible film along with Mission to Mars. Not genre, but I find it fascinating that he directed Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark video which has a genre connection as actress Courtney Cox would be in the Misfits of Science series and the Scream horror franchise as well.
  • Born September 11, 1941 — Kirby McCauley. Literary agent and editor who represented authors such as Stephen King, George R.R. Martin and Roger Zelazny. And McCauley chaired the first World Fantasy Convention, an event he conceived with T. E. D. Klein and several others. As Editor, his works include Night Chills: Stories of Suspense, FrightsFrights 2, and Night Chills. (Died 2014.)
  • Born September 11, 1948 — Michael Sacks, 73. He’s best remembered as Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse Five. Given how short his film career was, as it lasted but little over a decade, that’s no surprise. His only other genre role was as Jeff in The Amityville Horror. He’s now in the financial services sector. 
  • Born September 11, 1951 — Michael Goodwin, 69. Ahhh, Alan Dean Foster’s Commonwealth series. I know that I’ve read at least a half dozen of the novels in that series and really enjoyed them, so it doesn’t surprise that someone wrote a guide to it which is how we have Goodwin’s (with the assistance of co-writer Robert Teague) A Guide to the Commonwealth: The Official Guide to Alan Dean Foster’s Humanx Commonwealth Universe. Unfortunately like so many of these guides, it was done once part way through the series and never updated. 
  • Born September 11, 1952 — Sharon Lee, 69. She is the co-author with Steve Miller of the Liaden universe novels and stories which are quite excellent reading with the latest being Neogenesis. They won Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for significant contribution to SF in the spirit of the writer E.E. “Doc” Smith, and they won The Golden Duck, the Hal Clement Young Adult Award, for their Balance of Trade novel.  They are deeply stocked at the usual digital suspects.
  • Born September 11, 1958 — Roxann Dawson, 63. Best remembered for being B’Elanna Torres on Voyager. She’s also a published genre author having written the Tenebrea trilogy with Daniel Graham. This space opera series is available from the usual digital suspects. She’s got two genre film creds, Angela Rooker in Darkman III: Die Darkman Die, and Elizabeth Summerlee in the 1998 version of The Lost World. She’s the voice of The Repair Station computer on the “Dead Stop” episode of Enterprise. Oh and she popped up once on the Seven Days series. She’s long since retired from acting. 
  • Born September 11, 1965 — Cat Sparks, 56. Winner of an astounding fourteen Ditmar Awards for writing, editing and artwork, her most recent was in 2019 when she garnered one for “The 21st Century Catastrophe: Hyper-capitalism and Severe Climate Change in Science Fiction.” She has just one published novel to date, Lotus Blue, though there’s an unpublished one, Effigy, listed at ISFDB. She has an amazing amount of short stories all of which are quite stellar. Lotus Blue and The Bride Price collection are both available at the usual digital suspects. (CE) 

(9) NEAR TO THE MADDING CROWD. The DickHeads Podcast – so-called for their interest in Philip K. Dick – makes a side excursion to discuss someone who once gave an opinion about a PKD story: “Judith Merril Roundtable”.

Dick Adjacent is back. And it’s a good one too. The story goes that after David finished reading some of Judith Merril’s stories, he found a scathing review she wrote of PKD’s story Roog, and with that connection made, it seemed only appropriate to gather a panel of experts together and discuss her place in the science fiction universe. Considered a feminist force, she had to bully her way through a male-dominated business to make her voice heard. Incredible person. Incredible story. And a truly accredited panel. So listen in on David, Lisa Yazek, Gideon Marcus, Ritchie Calvin, and Kathryn Heffner as they discuss the legacy of Judith Merril.

(10) FLICKS BY THE BRIDGE. The Brooklyn SciFi Film Festival is back for 2021 with 160 sff films from 18 countries. All film selections will be available to stream online September 20-26 with live, in-person screenings to be held in Brooklyn at the Wythe Hotel Screening Room on September 25. Tickets available here. Special recognition in eight categories will be awarded by a panel of jurors and industry professionals on September 25.

This year, the BSFFF will feature all-new exclusive online events, screening parties, and filmmaker commentary. Another addition is the “The Future Sounds of Brooklyn,” which is a compilation of SciFi-inspired music from musicians across the globe. The popular  The Sixth Borough, a curated, BSFFF-developed series, which presents three fantastic science fiction short films united by a common theme each day of the festival, will return for the second year.

(11) A DIFFERENT WAY. Sebastien de Castell’s new YA fantasy Way Of The Argosi is pitched as “The Alchemist meets The Three Musketeers — with card tricks.”

A merciless band of mages murdered her parents, massacred her tribe and branded her with mystical sigils that left her a reviled outcast. They should have killed her instead.

Stealing, swindling, and gambling with her own life just to survive, Ferius will risk anything to avenge herself on the zealous young mage who haunts her every waking hour. But then she meets the incomparable Durral Brown, a wandering philosopher gifted in the arts of violence who instead overcomes his opponents with shrewdness and compassion. Does this charismatic and infuriating man hold the key to defeating her enemies, or will he lead her down a path that will destroy her very soul?

Through this outstanding tale of swashbuckling action, magical intrigue and dazzling wit, follow Ferius along the Way of the Argosi and enter a world of magic and mystery unlike any other.

(12) SAY AGAIN? [Item by David Doering.] Just the thing for the WSFS Business Meeting:

— Which the US Navy is also working on: “A New Navy Weapon Actually Stops You From Talking”. Like having that annoying kid who keeps repeating everything you say…on-demand!

The U.S. Navy has successfully invented a special electronic device that is designed to stop people from talking. A form of non-lethal weapon, the new electronic device effectively repeats a speaker’s own voice back at them, and only them, while they attempt to talk. 

It was developed, and patented back in 2019 but has only recently been discovered, according to a report by the New Scientist

The main idea of the weapon is to disorientate a target so much that they will be unable to communicate effectively with other people. 

Called acoustic hailing and disruption (AHAD), the weapon is able to record speech and instantly broadcast it at a target in milliseconds. Much like an annoying sibling, this action will disrupt the target’s concentration, and, in theory, discourage them from continuing to speak. …

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. First Fandom Experience tells “The Tale of Aubrey MacDermott”, who claimed to be the first active sff fan.

Aubrey McDermott was born in 1909 and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and claims to be the first active science-fiction fan. We’ll let Aubrey tell his own story through a letter that he sent to Andrew Porter around 1990…

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

Pixel Scroll 4/30/21 This Is The Way The Scroll Ends, Not With A File But A Pixel

(1) ON THE CORPORATE RIM. Tesla, The Lego Group, Netflix, Zoom, and SpaceX are on the TIME100 Most Influential Companies 2021 list. So is Roblox —

When adults turned to Zoom for pandemic-era happy hours, kids filled the social void with Roblox. In 2020, Roblox Corporation’s free-to-play game—which allows users to construct original, three-dimensional online worlds—grew its daily user base 85% to more than 32.6 million. Players can do everything from delivering pizzas to exploring ancient Rome to shelling out real money for virtual Robux to outfit their blocky avatars. (As in many online communities, some have faced harassment.) “Futurists and science-fiction writers have been imagining the Metaverse for decades,” says CEO David Baszucki, referring to the concept of a persistent, shared, 3-D virtual space. Roblox is making it a reality.

(2) ANOTHER CONVENTION CASUALTY. Jo Walton’s Scintillation con — planned for October 2021 in Montreal — is canceled. Current plans are to hope for 2022. “2021 is also cancelled”.

There will be no Scintillation in 2021. There’s no word about the border opening. Vaccinations are happening, but unevenly, and it’s not possible to get any guidance as to whether it will be legal to have events in Quebec in October. We thought about pushing it back, but then it runs into both World Fantasy (still planned to be in Montreal, still planned to be at least partly in person) and winter. The hotel are very reluctant to commit, and keeping the whole thing as a possibility was making us anxious, and of course the closer it gets the harder it is for people to commit. The worst result would be having a con and losing money so we can’t do it other years. So I decided we’d be better to just cancel again, and have the best Scintillation ever in 2022….

(3) 2021 SEIUN AWARDS FINALISTS. Locus Online’s 2021 Seiun Awards Nominees post has translations into English of all the titles up for Best Japanese Novel and Best Japanese Story, as well as the correct English titles of the works nominated for Best Translated Novel and Best Translated Story (i.e. of works into the Japanese language.) And I don’t! So hie thee hence.

The award’s own official website also lists the nominees in Multimedia, Comic, Artist, Non-Fiction, and “Free” (other) categories.

The awards will be presented at SF60, the 60th Japan SF Convention, scheduled for August 21-22, 2021 in Takamatsu city, Kagawa prefecture.

(4) ACTOR NOEL CLARKE FACES HARASSMENT ALLEGATIONS. BAFTA, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, has suspended British actor and producer Noel Clarke following allegations of sexual misconduct reports CNN. He’s known to sff fans for playing Mickey Smith in 15 episodes of Doctor Who, and appearing in Star Trek: Into Darkness.

The body told CNN in a statement on Friday that it had made the decision to suspend Clarke’s membership, along with his recent award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema, “in light of the allegations of serious misconduct” leveled against him in the Guardian newspaper.

“BAFTA has taken the decision to suspend his membership and the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema award immediately and until further notice,” it added.

The suspension comes just weeks after Clarke was given the award — one of the academy’s most prestigious honors — at its annual ceremony on April 10.

According to the Guardian, claims of sexual harassment and bullying were made against Clarke by 20 women, all of whom knew him in a professional capacity between 2004 and 2019.

(5) MANY I BUY ANOTHER VOWEL, PLEASE? James Davis Nicoll would like to point you at “The Single Best Bibliographical Resource There Is (if You Like SFF)” at Tor.com.

The ISFDB’s roots can be found in USENET, a now archaic decentralized worldwide distributed discussion system intended to be sufficiently robust enough that in the event of a global thermonuclear war, surviving users would still be able to exchange angry barbs about the latest Robert A. Heinlein novel even as deadly fallout collected in deep drifts around the furious posters. By its nature, however, USENET posts tend to be ephemeral. Thus, in the mid-1990s, Al von Ruff and the entity known as Ahasuerus created the web-based ISFDB….

(6) 124C41+. SF2 Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie sent another update about prospects for UK fan groups resuming in-person meetings in the foreseeable future.

I have almost finished downloading five months of Nature PDFs that accrued during my “digital lockdown”, fortunately I had paper subscriptions so I was kept up-to-date during this time. Next is ScienceBMJ, etc. And I’ve not yet looked at the backlog e-mails December 2020 to March ’21…

As lockdown over here in Brit Cit eases, our local Northumberland Heath DA8 Science Fiction Group is hoping for a members-only meet in June before resuming regular open meetings. Before then a few of us may though have a garden
gathering as under CoVID rules, before late May, six are allowed to gather outside. (We hope Buffy the dog doesn’t count as one of the six: she slays vampires you know.)

Whether or not our SF group will have a larger barbecue this summer remains to be seen.

As for larger UK meetings, such as the Birmingham SF Group or the London SF Circle, getting to these will involve public transport and that may put off some. We will see. For now, the London SF Circle is virtual.

Fortunately, over here, both the weekly rates of infection and fatalities seem to be in steady decline, for which we have the vaccines to thank. (All hail the UK Science Base, AstraZeneca and Pfizer.)

Trusting things are going well for you over in the rebel colonies? News from some places elsewhere is depressing. Hopefully we can speed up vaccinating the world.

?

(7) DOWN FOR THE COUNT. Dream Foundry has made Cassie Alexander’s seminar “Injuries in Fiction and Writing About Other Medical Topics” available on their YouTube channel.

Have you ever needed to incapacitate a character and gotten stuck wondering what was real versus what was functional for your project? As an author and RN, Cassie understands the way we need to sometimes bend things for fiction — but also the thrill of making fiction as truthful as possible. The first half of the talk will include an overview of such topics as: blows to the head, strokes, burns, gunshots/arrowshots, what’s “life support,” infectious processes, heart attacks, etc., and the second half of the talk will be audience questions about their WIPs.

(8) WAIT UNTIL I PRODUCE THE SILMARILLION. Uh, yeah. At Literary Hub, Emily Temple documents “How J.R.R. Tolkien Blocked W.H. Auden From Writing a Book About Him”.

…Of course, without Tolkien’s cooperation, the book never materialized—though I have to say I’m sorry. I personally would love to read what was, judging by the above, sure to be Auden’s half-catty, half-worshipful book on Tolkien. We’ll all just have to imagine it, I suppose.

(9) CHEAP CHEAP. The Independent’s Ed Cumming knows how it happened and is willing to explain: “Intergalactic: How Britain fell in love with the rickety, low-budget sci-fi show”.

Blame Doctor Who. When they arrived in 1963, the Time Lord and his chums didn’t merely create a franchise that would dominate British TV for more than 50 years – they spawned an entire universe of tonally imitative series set in space. From Blake’s 7 and Space Island One to Star Cops and Outcasts, UK TV schedules have been littered with these curiosities. With their rattling sets, iffy costumes and eccentric English charm, we might fondly call such shows “Mibs”, or Mostly Indoors British Sci-fi.

Another may be on the way in the form of Sky One’s space-prison drama Intergalactic, which begins tonight. While they differ in their specifics, these programmes share a love of big themes delivered on tight budgets. They’re also more liked than initial critical reception tends to suggest.

It stems from a paradox at the heart of the genre. For audiences, a futuristic setting conjures visions of spectacle, elaborate costumes and faraway locations, all augmented with cutting edge technology and special effects. In Hollywood, sci-fi has long pushed the envelope of what is possible in filmmaking. For TV producers on a tight leash, however, mostly indoor sci-fis have a different quality. When outside movement is limited by an infinite hostile void, you can film the whole thing in a tiny studio. Viewers get big ideas. You get great value. Everyone wins.

(10) LIGHTING UP THE TV. Netflix dropped a trailer for the second half of Season 5 of Lucifer.  

It’s time to meet your new maker! Lucifer is back with eight thrilling new episodes. Season 5 Part 2 premieres May 28th.

(11) MY ILIAD SCORE WAS AN ODDITY. “How Well Do You Know An Iliad?” Take the quiz. I scored six out of seven, but I predict many Filers will get perfect marks!

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born April 30, 1839 – Tsukioka Yoshitoshi.  (Personal name last, Japanese-style.)  Possibly the last great Japanese woodblock artist.  Some of his work is fantasy.  Here is the cover of Higashi ed., Kaiki [“fantastic”], Uncanny Tales from Japan vol. 1 (showing Minamoto no Yorimitsu Cuts at the Earth Spider).  Here is Midnight Moon at Mount Yoshino (Lady Iga no Tsubone confronting the ghost of Sadaki no Kiyotaka, see here).  (Died 1892) [JH]
  • Born April 30, 1926 Cloris Leachman. I’ve got her first in the genre in Young Frankenstein as Frau Blücher. (Strange film.) She does her obligatory mouse role when she voices Euterpe in The Mouse and His Child. Next up is being The Lord’s Secretary in The Muppet Movie. (Always a fun time.) Hmmm… she’s Millie Crown in Shadow Play, a horror film that I don’t plan on seeing. Not my cup of tea. Lots of voice work from there out and I will only note her as Mrs. Tensedge in The Iron Giant, a great film indeed. She in the live action and I assume disgusting Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse as Ms. Fielder. (Died 2021.) (CE) 
  • Born April 30, 1934 – Baird Searles.  Book reviewer for Asimov’s.  Film reviewer for Amazing and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.  Co-wrote A Reader’s Guide to Science Fiction and A Reader’s Guide to FantasyFilms of Science Fiction and Fantasy.  Co-founded the SF Shop, New York.  Drama and Literature director at Radio Station WBAI; weekly program “Of Unicorns and Universes”; 100-minute reading of “The Council of Elrond”, pronunciations verified with Tolkien by telephone; complete (serialized) reading of Last and First Men.  (Died 1993) [JH]
  • Born April 30, 1938 Larry Niven, 83. One of my favorite authors to read, be it the Gil Hamilton the Arm stories, Ringworld, Protector, The Mote in God’s Eye with Jerry Pournelle (The Gripping Hand alas didn’t work for me at all), or the 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 followed by Ringworld at Noreascon 1 and in turn 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 which I admit surprised me. (CE) 
  • Born April 30, 1947 – Melinda Murdock, age 74.  Ten novels, one shorter story, three covers.  Here is Timegatehere is A Sea of Troubles.  [JH]
  • Born April 30, 1959 – Bill Congreve, age 62.  Two dozen short stories.  Three Ditmars.  Book reviewer for Aurealis.  Edited four Year’s Best Australian Science Fiction & Fantasy (three with Michelle Marquardt), four more anthologies.  Small press, MirrorDanse Books.  Favourite (he’s Australian) meal: tabouli, roast chicken, Guinness, and Street’s Blue Ribbon ice cream.  [JH]
  • Born April 30, 1960 – P.C. Cast, age 61.  Three dozen novels, nine shorter stories, some edited by daughter Kristin Cast.   In high school fell in love with mythology and Quarter Horses.  Served in the Air Force, taught high school herself.  NY Times and USA Today best-selling author.  Prism, Holt Medallion, Laurel Wreath, Oklahoma Book awards.  Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame.  [JH]
  • Born April 30, 1968 Adam Stemple, 53. Son of Jane Yolen. One-time vocalist of Boiled in Lead. With Yolen, he’s written the Rock ‘n’ Roll Fairy TalesPay the Piper and Troll Bridge which are worth reading, plus the Seelie Wars trilogy which I’ve not read. He’s also written two Singer of Souls urban fantasies which I remember as engaging. (CE) 
  • Born April 30, 1968 David Goldfarb, 53. Worked part-time at The Other Change of Hobbit, when it was in its first location in Berkeley. Has been Tuckerized by Jo Walton in Ha’Penny and Half a Crown, and by Mark Waid in the comic book Legion of Super-Heroes. At ConJosé co-accepted Jo’s Astounding (then-Campbell) Award. He’s five-for-five in Mark and Priscilla Olson’s “Trivia for Chocolate” game at Worldcons he’s attended. He competed in “Win Tom Whitmore’s Books” at Denvention 3 and beat Tom and won a rare Bujold hardcover from him. [OGH]
  • Born April 30, 1973 Naomi Novik, 48. 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 read her Spinning Silver novel which won a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature, so opinions are welcome. (CE)
  • Born April 30, 1973 – Jeanine Hall Gailey, age 48. Ten dozen poems; five collections.  Co-edited Dwarf Stars 11 (annual anthology, DS Award finalists, SF Poetry Ass’n; poems of at most 10 lines).  Two top prizes from Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Memorial Fund (2007, 2011).  Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington.  Elgin Award.  Moon City Poetry Award.  [JH]
  • Born April 30, 1982 Kirsten Dunst, 38. Her first genre role was as Claudio in  Interview with the Vampire. Later genre roles include Judy Shepherd in Jumanji, voicing Christy Fimple in Small Soldiers, voicing Becky Thatcher in The Animated Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man franchise,  voicing Kaena in Kaena: The Prophecy, and showing up on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Hedrilin in the “Dark Page” episode. She would have been nine years old in that episode! (CE) 
  • Born April 30, 1985 Gal Gadot, 36. 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. (CE) 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro shows cops tracing a witch’s missing sibling. You’ll probably solve this disappearance before they do.

(14) IN CHARACTER. Keith Houston, in “Miscellany #90: The Grawlix” on his blog Shady Characters explains that the bunch of random typography in comics used to portray obscenity is called “The Grawlix” and was invented by Mort Walker for Beetle Bailey in the 1950s.

…But here’s the thing. A grawlix is not a col­lec­tion of ty­po­graphic char­ac­ters — at least not the way that Walker defined it. In Lex­icon, he writes:

“A vari­ety of ac­cept­able curse words are at the car­toon­ist’s dis­posal. He may throw in a new one from time to time, but the real meat of the epi­thet must al­ways con­tain plenty of jarns, quimps, nittles, and grawlixes[.]”…

(15) MAY THE FOURTH ITH NEXT WEEK. SYFY Wire thinks you should spare no expense to celebrate — “May the 4th, Star Wars Day 2021: Bad Batch premiere, events, merchandise, more”. A roundup of several dozen thematic products.

… After more than a year of shutdowns and delays, cantinas and gangster hideouts throughout the galaxy are finally opening their doors to more and more clientele. We haven’t felt this giddy and hopeful since Vader tossed Palpatine into the reactor of the Death Star. It’s only fitting that Star Wars Day 2021 should ring in a new era of optimism. After all, the entire franchise is rooted in the concept of sparking hope in dark times.

So, cash in those galactic credits and clear your schedule for Tuesday, May 4, because we’ve got your guide on how to party like it’s the days of the Old Republic. (Be sure to check back in with SYFY WIRE as more May the 4th goodies are revealed over the next week.)…

(16) URSA PASSES ORSON. In the Washington Post, Brittany Shammas says that a negative review of Citizen Kane from the Chicago Tribune has been unearthed, which makes Paddington 2 the highest ranking film on Rotten Tomatoes with uniformly positive reviews. “Rotten Tomatoes downgrades Citizen Kane’s perfect score”.

… A thousand memes and jokes were born of the news that the talking-bear sequel’s score of “100 percent Fresh” had bested the “99 percent Fresh” now assigned to the film widely hailed as the greatest ever made.

“please don’t misinterpret the adjusted Rotten Tomatoes rankings to mean that ‘Paddington 2 is now the best movie of all time.’ Paddington 2 *already was* the best movie of all time,” quipped David Ehrlich, a senior film critic at Indie Wire. “thank you.”…

(17) NOT FOREVER, JUST TOMORROW. Variety introduces “’The Tomorrow War’ Trailer: Chris Pratt’s Time-Traveling Sci-Fi Film”.

Amazon has released a trailer for the upcoming sci-fi thriller “The Tomorrow War,” debuting this summer.

The movie, out July 2, stars Chris Pratt as Dan Forester, a high school teacher who is recruited by a group of time travelers to fight a war in the future. As an alien species threatens life on Earth, the only hope for survival is for soldiers and civilians from the present to travel to the year 2051 and help save the planet. Dan teams up with his estranged father, played by J.K. Simmons, and a brilliant scientist, played by Yvonne Strahovski, to rewrite the fate of mankind.

(18) HIS GREATEST ROLL. “Hear Jeff Goldblum play D&D, because life finds a way” at Polygon.

Actor Jeff Goldblum is joining the cast of a fan-made Dungeons & Dragons podcast called Dark Dice, created and written by Fool and Scholar Productions. The high-concept audio drama starts out as a traditional session of D&D, complete with dice and a Dungeon Master. Sequences are then cut, condensed, and performed with additional voice acting, original music, and sound effects. Episodes featuring the Jurassic Park actor will begin airing for free on May 12. The announcement was made Wednesday by Deadline.

(19) STUCK. “NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter just failed to lift off from the Martian surface, but it will try again on Friday”Yahoo! has the story.

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter was scheduled to embark on its most daring flight yet on Thursday. But it failed to lift off, so NASA plans to try again on Friday.

Ingenuity made history when it flew for the first time on April 19 – a 10-foot hover that marked the first controlled, powered flight ever conducted on another planet. Since then, the 4-pound drone has completed two more flights, venturing farther and flying faster each time.

Ingenuity was in good shape after its last flight, in which it traveled roughly 330 feet out and back. It was set to attempt an even more ambitious adventure on Thursday: a 117-second flight in which the little drone was supposed to reach a record speed of 3.5 meters per second. The plan was for the helicopter to climb 16 feet into the air, fly south for about 436 feet, and snap photos of the Martian surface along the way. It was then supposed to hover for more photos, turn around, and fly back to its original spot for landing.

But Ingenuity’s rotor blades didn’t lift it up at all.

The culprit is probably a software issue that first showed up during a high-speed spin test ahead of the chopper’s first flight…. 

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. I’m sure I can’t explain Captain Yajima but it’s pretty amusing.

 [Thanks to N., JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Danny Sichel, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day jayn.]