Pixel Scroll 4/10/22 We Are All Hiding In The Pixels, Camouflaged As Scrolls

(1) I DUB THEE. Mr. Sci-Fi, Marc Scott Zicree, shares with his audience “The Amazing Secret Behind the Woman Who Named Spock — Only Here! Don’t Miss It!”. He also observes about the original Star Trek

…[The pilot] did not get picked up but now in 2022 the future that show is getting greenlighted. It is the only pilot made in 1964 and picked up in 2022, two different centuries, so if that isn’t science fiction I don’t know what is….

(2) PUBLISHING STAFF ORGANIZES. “Why Condé Nast Staffers Are Unionizing: ‘Prestige Doesn’t Pay the Bills’”, as they tell the New York Times.

… Late last month, hundreds of employees at Condé Nast, including those at Vogue, Vanity Fair, Architectural Digest and Allure, noting that “prestige doesn’t pay the bills,” announced that they were forming a union and had asked company management for voluntary recognition. In another time, indifferent to the scourges of entitlement and unfairness, the jokes would have written themselves: The assistants at Vogue are mobilizing … for bigger Town Cars; they demand that all corporate retreats be held in Portofino; they’ll hijack negotiations until Keith McNally runs the cafeteria.

But the world, of course, is not what it was. Editorial, video and production staff were demanding better pay, job security and stronger commitments to diversity. Young workers were drawn to Condé Nast because it embodies a certain culture, a representative of the News Guild of New York pointed out. (The guild is currently in contract negotiations with the Times.) Today, however, that isn’t enough.

In a moving video laying out the need for collective action, writers, editors, social-media managers, graphic artists, fashion assistants and researchers explained that they were fed up and burned out, and they were seeking overtime compensation for relentless hours, pay transparency and salary floors, which previously unionized colleagues at The New Yorker obtained last year. They worried about layoffs without severance and meetings where minority representation often amounted to the presence of a single person in the room.

A spokesman for Condé Nast declined to address specific grievances but said, “We plan to have productive and thoughtful conversations with them over the coming weeks to learn more.”…

(3) DOCTOR WHO REDACTED. “Doctor Who Reveals Spinoff Podcast Series Featuring the Thirteenth Doctor”CBR.com says we’re going to get an earful.

Jodie Whittaker might only have a few Doctor Who episodes left before she regenerates, but the Thirteenth Doctor is about to receive even more adventures in podcast form.

The official Doctor Who website announced that Episode 1 of a ten-part podcast series called Doctor Who Redacted will drop on April 17, the same day as the 2022 special episode “Legend of the Sea Devils.” Instead of being directly Doctor-centric, Redacted follows “three broke university drop-outs” and podcast co-hosts Cleo Proctor (Charlie Craggs), Abby McPhail (Lois Chimimba) and Shawna Thompson (Holly Quin-Ankrah), whose series “The Blue Box Files” analyzes the reoccurrence of a mysterious object (i.e. the Doctor’s TARDIS) throughout historical records. However, Cleo, Abby and Shawna soon become the universe’s best chance at survival, thanks ironically to poor viewership numbers, after getting “caught in a supernatural conspiracy as they learn that everyone who’s ever met the Doctor is disappearing and being forgotten.”

(4) SPINDIZZY? NO, SPINLAUNCH. The space agency is going to give them shot. “NASA to Test SpinLaunch, a Huge Accelerator Built to Slingshot Payloads to Space” at CNET. This version is suborbital. A version is on the drawing board that could be used to achieve orbital insertion (in conjunction with a small upper stage). The system is strictly for uncrewed launch. 

On the long, desolate road between Las Cruces, New Mexico, and the main terminal of Spaceport America over an hour to the north, a bizarre structure looking something like a huge yo-yo with a small smokestack can be seen rising out of the desert floor to the east. 

But the spinning that happens at this facility run by California-based SpinLaunch takes place on the inside of what is really a steel vacuum chamber 300 feet (91 meters) in diameter.  A payload attached to an internal carbon fiber arm is spun up to a speed of 5,000 miles per hour (8,000 kilometers per hour) before being released and fired out of the stack toward space. 

The company completed its first public test of its suborbital mass accelerator in October and now NASA has signed up to try out the huge centrifugal slingshot later this year.

The space agency has signed a contract with SpinLaunch to fly and recover a payload as part of a developmental test flight that could lead to future launches.

(5) SILVERSTEIN BOOK ON STAMP. The U.S. Postal Service honored author and illustrator Shel Silverstein with a Forever stamp featuring artwork from his book, The Giving Tree. The first-day-of-issue event was held April 8 at the school Shel Silverstein attended, Chicago’s Darwin Elementary School. “USPS To Release Shel Silverstein Stamp”.

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1981 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-one years ago, one of those truly great genre films premiered in Excalibur.  I saw it in a movie theatre virtually empty at the time but it still was a wonderful experience. It’s directed and produced by John Boorman off a script by him and Rospo Pallenberg who later got on to The Emerald Forest with Boorman.

Lest you think those are the only Boorman connections, they’re not as it was shot was filmed in Irish locations in County Wicklow, County Tipperary, and County Kerry. The Count Wicklow locations were just a few miles from where Boorman was living at the time. No idea if the cast popped by his manor house for drinks after filming ended for the day. 

I say that as it has a stellar cast: Gabriel Byrne as Uther Pendragon,  Nicholas Clay was Lancelot,  Ciarán Hinds as Lot,  Cherie Lunghi was Guenevere, Helen Mirren was Morgana, Liam Neeson was Gawain, Corin Redgrave was Gorlois, Patrick Stewart was Leondegrance, and Nigel Terry was Arthur, and Nicol Williamson was Merlin. What a group that they would’ve been to party with! 

So what did the critics at the time think of it?

Well Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times summed it rather appropriately in his lead to his review: “What a wondrous vision ‘Excalibur’ is! And what a mess. This wildly ambitious retelling of the legend of King Arthur is a haunting and violent version of the Dark Ages and the heroic figures who (we dream) populated them. But it’s rough going for anyone determined to be sure what is happening from scene to scene.”

And Gary Arnold of the Washington Post said that “In ‘Excalibur,’ opening today at area theaters, Boorman can’t seem to master the ironic approach to high adventure that allows a movie to satisfy heroic longings without getting ridiculous. This stilted reenactment of the Arthurian saga finds Boorman evolving into a modernist parody of Cecil B. De Mille, whipping up a kitschy costume spectacle.” 

It was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon IV finishing second to Raiders of the Lost Ark

It has a sterling eighty percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes, and it earned thirty-five million at the box office against a rather small budget of just eleven million dollars.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 10, 1932 Hari Rhodes. Actor who had an impressive and very extensive genre history starting where he was the Black Man at the piano in The Lost Missile (1958) written by John McPartland and SF writer Jerome Bixby. He shows in The Satan Bug and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. Series wise he was in I-SpyMission: ImpossibleOuter LimitsEarth IIThe Six Million Dollar ManThe Bionic WomanLogan’s RunWonder WomanSalvage 1Beyond WestworldThe Powers of Matthew Star and Automan. (Died 1992.)
  • Born April 10, 1929 Max von Sydow. He played Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the Never Say Never Again and Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon. He shows up in the Exorcist II: The Heretic as Father Lankester Merrin while being King Osric in Conan the Barbarian. Dreamscape sees him being Doctor Paul Novotny while he’s Liet-Kynes the Imperial Planetologist in Dune. He was Judge Fargo in Judge Dredd (and yes I still like it), in Minority Report as Director Lamar Burgess, Sir Walter Loxley in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood and finally in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as Lor San Tekka. (Died 2020.)
  • Born April 10, 1953 David Langford, 69. And how long have you been reading Ansible? If he’s not noted for that singular enterprise, he should be noted for assisting in producing the second edition of the EoSF, not to mention some 629,000 words as a principal editor of the third (online) edition of the publication, and contributed some eighty thousand words of articles to the most excellent EoF as well. And let’s not forget his genre writing as well that earned him a Short Story Hugo at the Millennium Philcon (2001) for “Different Kinds of Darkness”. Langford holds the all-time record for most Hugo Awards, with a total of 29 wins. In addition to his short story, he has won 21 Hugos for Best Fan Writer, five for Ansible as Best Fanzine, another for Ansible as Best Semiprozine, and one for The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction as Best Related Work
  • Born April 10, 1957 John M. Ford. Damn, he died far too young! Popular at At Minicon and other cons where he would be Dr. Mike and give silly answers to questions posed to him while wearing a lab coat before a whiteboard. His most interesting novel I think is The Last Hot Time, an urban fantasy set in Chicago that might have been part of Terri Windling’s Bordertown series but wasn’t. Possibly. (And no, the Suck Fairy hasn’t gotten near when I last read it.) The Dragon Waiting is also excellent and his Trek novels are among the best in that area a of writing.  He’s finally coming back into print after a very long time. (Died 2006.)
  • Born April 10, 1962 James H. Burns. Every search I did in putting together this late Filer’s Birthday ended back here. That he was beloved here, I have no doubt. In OGH’s obituary for Burns in 2016 he said Burns’ pride was this trio of posts that paid tribute to the influence of his father — My Father, And The BrontosaurusSons of a Mesozoic Age, and World War II, and a Lexicon in Time. Burns also wrote for File 770 about memories of “growing up fannish,” such as the very popular Once, When We Were All Scientists, and CLANKY!. And his good friend Steve Vertlieb also has reminisced about Burns here. (Died 2016.)
  • Born April 10, 1973 Dean Hsieh, 49. He’s best known as the animator of A Scanner Darkly which was nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form at Nippon 2007 which was the year that Pan’s Labyrinth won. 
  • Born April 10, 1992 Daisy Ridley, 30. Obviously she played the role of Rey in The Force AwakensThe Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. She was also in Scrawl, a horror film as well as voicing Cotton Rabbit in Peter Rabbit. Though stretching to even call it genre adjacent even, she was Mary Debenham in Murder on The Orient Express which was rather well done.  Not as nearly good I’d say as the Seventies Murder on The Orient Express film whose original poster I have on my living wall but I’m biased. 

(8) CAKE DISCUSSION. Mike Kennedy joins Geek Tyrant in encouraging all fans to “Check Out This STAR WARS Death Star Trench Run Cake”. Like the Force, this cake has two sides; sponge cake and carrot cake. It’s up to you to deduce which is the dark side. If only we could queue up for a slice after the photographer finishes.

Star Wars fan Evie Rees used her talented skills to make this birthday cake that’s clearly inspired by the LEGO diorama of the Star Wars Death Star trench run. Everything you see on the cake is edible, except for the little ships and their stands.

… You can see a gallery of ten larger images of the cake in this reddit post.

(9) HOUSTON, DO YOU READ? “MLB World Reacts To Houston Astros’ New Uniform” – and MSN.com collected the tweets. Here’s one example.

On Sunday, the Houston Astros became the second MLB team to launch its new Nike City Connect uniforms. The “Space City” uni’s pay homage to the ballclub’s 1970’s look and the city’s history with the space program.

(10) LITERARY DESIGNS. Here are three intriguing product designs from Holly Sewsephine.

(11) SFF IN THE CURRICULUM. Colby College posts about how “Government Professor Joe Reisert Uses Science Fiction ‘To Make the World Better’”.

…Interesting novels that illustrate complex situations are more likely to resonate with students than conventional works of scholarship, Reisert said, explaining his reasoning for including unlikely texts in his coursework. One of his go-to books is the novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Published in the early 1930s and set hundreds of years in the future, Brave New World imagines a society dominated by technology, where citizens are engineered to perform specific jobs, programmed to love their society without question, and where “mother” and “father” are dirty words, and where genuine human emotions are unknown. Reisert, who is also the Harriet S. Wiswell and George C. Wiswell Jr. Professor of American Constitutional Law, uses other books as well, including Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed and Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, to help students envision and think about Marx’s social ideals….

(12) NOW, TALKABLE FUNGI! “Mushrooms communicate with each other using up to 50 ‘words’, scientist claims” reports the Guardian.

Buried in forest litter or sprouting from trees, fungi might give the impression of being silent and relatively self-contained organisms, but a new study suggests they may be champignon communicators.

Mathematical analysis of the electrical signals fungi seemingly send to one another has identified patterns that bear a striking structural similarity to human speech.

Previous research has suggested that fungi conduct electrical impulses through long, underground filamentous structures called hyphae – similar to how nerve cells transmit information in humans….

Daniel Dern sent the link with a comment: “And with the right fifty words, they could do ‘Green Eggs And Ham'”

(13) ART CLASS. This six-part series has Disney animators teaching you how to draw Disney characters: “Disney’s Sketchbook”.

Check out the trailer for Sketchbook, an upcoming Disney Plus series featuring six artists from Disney Animation. Disney’s Sketchbook will be available to stream on Disney+ from April 27, 2022. The show covers iconic Disney characters, including The Lion King’s Simba, Frozen’s Olaf, Encanto’s Mirabel, Aladdin’s Genie, Peter Pan’s Captain Hook, and The Emperor’s New Groove’s Kuzco.

(14) CONSIDER YOURSELVES WARNED. This is grotesque. Why am I including it in the Scroll? Chucky takes a star turn in this (mean-spirited) office segment from last night’s Saturday Night Live.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, Chris Barkley, 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 Camestros Felapton.]

Pixel Scroll 2/8/22 Something Pixel This Way Scrolls

(1) COMING ATTRACTIONS. Somtow Sucharitkul told Facebook friends his movie The Maestro will play in L.A. in June. (See the story of the film here.) He wants help to make its appearance a hit.

To my friends in Los Angeles:

THE MAESTRO will open at one of the Laemmle theaters, probably in June, exact dates and location TBA.

Before then, I would like to mobilize the F/SF/H community, the Thai community, and the Music community to try to make the run a success and even to push it beyond one week.

So happy to be following in the footsteps of Dakota Loesch and Scott Monahan the creators of “Anchorage” which just enjoyed a run with this chain.

Any friends of mine in L.A. who would like to help me organize all our potential viewers, need all the grassroots help we can get! I will fly in for the opening for sure, and maybe some others from the team.

(2) PREGENERATION. “Doctor Who’s Jodie Whittaker announces pregnancy at Brit Awards 2022”Metro News has the story.

Jodie Whittaker revealed exciting news as she graced the Brit Awards 2022 red carpet, confirming she is pregnant with her second child. 

The Doctor Who actress attended the star-studded awards ceremony at London’s O2 Arena on Tuesday wearing a dress from British designer Chimone. 

(4) ARTIFICER INTELLIGENCE. “Artist uses AI to perfectly fake 70s science fiction pulp covers – artwork and titles”CDM Create Digital Music will tell you how.

The way a lot of press gets this wrong, of course, is to say things like “the AI made some sci-fi book covers.” Even as these algorithms get a lot more sophisticated than averaged pixels or a Markov chain, they are still just algorithms, lacking in agency, albeit with enormous data sets as source material. In turn, though, that makes some of the aesthetic peculiarities they generate all the more interesting, and means that it’s helpful to understand them as generative tools in the hands of artists. They’re the outcome of a lot of human effort in mathematics, code, and ultimately human choice, even if that last bit upsets those in search of general artificial intelligence.

Lewis Hackett is that artist, and cleverly selected what we’re seeing, combining a graphics technique called Clip Guided Diffusion for the imagery with familiar GPT3 techniques for the titles. And he’s done a great job selecting the results and aping the typography style by hand….

(5) SPACE ODYSSEYS – HOW LIKELY? At The Space Review Jeff Foust asks, “Are space movie studios sci-fi fantasies?”

Remember all the excitement a couple years ago when Hollywood media reported that Tom Cruise planned to film a movie in space? The NASA administrator at the time, Jim Bridenstine, confirmed that NASA was in talks with the famous actor for filming some kind of movie—no one was really sure what it would be about—on the International Space Station, but there’s been little overt progress since then. Cruise remains grounded for the foreseeable future: given the schedule of missions to the ISS, the soonest he could go is early 2023.

Those reports did apparently convince the Russians to do their own space movie, called The Challenge, with the cooperation, and maybe financial support, of Roscosmos. A director and an actress flew to the station in October to film scenes of a movie that’s supposed to come out later this year, putting The Challenge in line to become the first feature-length dramatic movie with major parts of it filmed in space (a distinction that’s required for earlier documentaries or Richard Garriott’s short spoof Apogee of Fear.) Take that, Tom Cruise!

Both Cruise’s rumored plans and the upcoming Russian film seem to have convinced people there’s a market for shooting movies in space. Last month, Axiom Space, a company adding commercial modules to the space station that will later become part of a standalone commercial space station, said it had been selected by a company called Space Entertainment Enterprise (SEE) to build an “inflatable microgravity entertainment venue” called SEE-1 that would be attached to its own commercial modules….

(6) SCIENTISTS IN SCIENCE FICTION. Dream Foundry is adding videos of Flights of Foundry 2021’s programming to their YouTube channel.  Some highlights include “The Unhelpful Legacy of Mad Scientists: Writing Scientists as Positive Role Models” with Octavia Cade, Benjamin C. Kinney, and Arula Ratnakar, moderated by Sid Jain. View on YouTube.

(7) MARTIAN HOP. You can still enjoy the online portion of the “Mars. The Red Mirror” exhibit at the Centre de CulturaContemporània de Barcelona: “Inside the red mirror”.

This is a virtual space where you can imagine your own view of Mars: god, symbol and planet in its different metamorphoses. You may have visited the exhibition or simply clicked on to this page skipping between links and other everyday internet browsings. It depends on how much time you want to spend, how much concentration is required and how curious you are….

The voice of the meteorite

I am a rare stone. Call me KSAR Ghilane 002 or whatever name your imagination conjures up. I come from Mars. I have travelled through space for thousands of years until I reached my unexpected destination in the desert you call the Sahara. I was discovered as a result of the insatiable curiosity for exploring that is inherent to your species. Now you can see one of my fragments. I come from the deepest strata on the Red Planet. I have a story to tell you. Because I am also a meteor, like the storms, typhoons and hurricanes you can’t control.

(8) DOUGLAS TRUMBULL (1942-2022). Director and special effects creator Douglas Trumbull died February 7 at the age of 79. He directed Silent Running. Trumbull got three Academy Award nominations for visual effects (for Blade Runner, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Close Encounters of the Third Kind) and, in 1992, a special scientific and engineering award for his work helping to design the CP-65 Showscan Camera System for motion picture photography. In 2012, he received the Academy’s Gordon E. Sawyer Award, a special technical Oscar for his contributions to the industry. The Associated Press has an extensive tribute: “’2001,’ ‘Blade Runner’ effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull dies”.

(9) ROBERT BLALACK (1948-2022). Oscar-winning Star Wars visual effects artist Robert Blalack died February 2. Deadline highlights his career.

… At the age of 29, he designed and supervised the Star Wars VistaVision Composite Optical production pipeline, which allowed all the groundbreaking 365 VistaVision VFX shots in Star Wars. Much of what he created for the film was built on a (relative) shoestring. With a VFX budget of just $1.6 million for the film, Blalack made use of obsolete VistaVision optical composite equipment from Hollywood’s Golden Years that could be had for a song.

“My task was to scavenge the Hollywood junkyards for any VistaVision Composite Optical mechanics,” he wrote, “figure out how to upgrade those relics with custom state-of-the-art optics, design a photographic process to mass-produce the movie’s 365 VistaVision composites, and then train and supervise the Star Wars Composite Optical crew.”

The result was what he called, “This Rube Goldberg assemblage of ancient composite printer hardware, state-of-the-art optics and the mass-production blue screen color-difference composite techniques were the backbone of the celluloid system…subsequently used on all ILM VistaVision VFX Composite Opticals.”

Blalack was part of the team that founded Industrial Light and Magic, and again the effort was driven by necessity….

In 1983, Blalack added an Emmy to his trophy case for his work on ABC’s The Day After, a TV movie about a nuclear holocaust which captured the public imagination due in no small part to his visual effects. It was seen by 100 million people in the U.S.

His other credits would comprise a career to be proud of unto themselves. They include effects on Carl Sagan’s landmark PBS series Cosmos; transformational visions in Altered StatesWolfenCat People and RoboCop; and FX in service of comedic classics such as Airplane and The Blues Brothers.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

2007 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Fifteen years ago on this evening, the short-lived Flash Gordon series that debuted on Sci-Fi on August 10, 2007 ended. The series was developed by Peter Hume who served as executive producer and the showrunner. He wrote the first and last episodes of the series which lasted twenty one episodes as well as many others. He would later be the Executive Producer of Primeval: New World and was involved in Charmed and Fantasy Island as well. 

The primary cast which was all Canadian was Eric Johnson was Flash Gordon, Gina Holden as Dale Arden, Jody Racicot as Dr. Hans Zarkov and John Ralston as Ming the Merciless. Anna Van Hooft had a recurring role as Princess Aura. 

So how was it received? Not at all well as the New York Post stated in a frankly hostile review that it was “a disgrace to the name of the enduring comic-strip-character-turned-movie-and-TV space hero.” And U.K. TV Zone stated that it might  “have worked if the early episodes hadn’t been so dire that no-one but reviewers are still watching.” Ouch. It probably mercifully has no audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes. 

I have not seen it and would like to know how it was. So, who here has seen it?

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 8, 1828 Jules Verne. So how many novels by him are you familiar with? Personally, I’m on first-hand terms with Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the SeaJourney to the Center of the Earth and Around the World in Eighty Days. That’s it. It appears that he wrote some sixty works and a lot were genre. And of course, his fiction has become the source of many other fictions in the last century as well. (Died 1905.)
  • Born February 8, 1905 Truman Bradley. He was the host of syndicated Science Fiction Theatre series which ran from 1955 to 1957. It aired its last episode on this day in 1957.  On Borrowed Time, a fantasy film, is his only other SFF work. (Died 1974.)
  • Born February 8, 1918 Michael Strong. He was Dr. Roger Korby in the most excellent Trek episode of “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”. He also showed up in Green HornetMission ImpossibleI-Spy (ok I consider it genre even if you don’t), Galactica 1980Man from AtlantisThe Six Million Dollar ManPlanet of The ApesKolchak: The Night Stalker and The Immortal. (Died 1980.)
  • Born February 8, 1938 Ned Brooks. A Southern fan involved for six decades in fandom, and he attended his first  Worldcon in 1963. He wrote two associational works, Hannes Bok Illustration Index and Revised Hannes Bok Checklist back in the days when print reigned surpreme. ISFDB shows that he was quite the letter writer. Mike has an appreciation of him here. (Died 2015.)
  • Born February 8, 1944 Rogert Lloyd Pack. He was John Lumic in the “Rise of the Cybermen” and “The Age of Steel”, both Tenth Doctor stories. (He was the voice of the Cyber-Controller in these episodes as well.) He was also Barty Crouch, Sr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. And he played Quentin Sykes in the Archer’s Goons series. (Died 2014.)
  • Born February 8, 1953 Mary Steenburgen, 67. She first acted in a genre way as Amy in Time After Time. She followed that up by being Adrian in A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy which I suppose is sort of genre though I’ll bet some you will dispute that. She shows up next in the much more family friendly One Magic Christmas as Ginny Grainger. And she has a part in Back to the Future Part III as Clara Clayton Brown which she repeated in the animated series. And, and keep in mind this is not a full list, she was also in The Last Man on Earth series as Gail Klosterman. 
  • Born February 8, 1962 Malorie Blackman, 60. Her excellent Noughts and Crosses series explores racism in a dystopian setting. (They’re published as Black & White in the States.) She also wrote a Seventh Doctor short story, “The Ripple Effect” which was published as one of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary e-Shorts. She’s readily available on all digital platforms. 
  • Born February 8, 1969 Mary Robinette Kowal, 53. Simply a stellar author and an even better human being. Chair of the last Worldcon. I’m going to select out Ghost Talkers as the work by her that I like the most. Now her Forest of Memory novella might be more stellar.  She’s also a splendid voice actor doing works of authors such as John Scalzi, Seanan McGuire and Kage Baker. I’m particularly amazed by her work on McGuire’s Indexing series. So let’s have Paul Weimer have the last words on her: “I thought it was Shades of Milk and Honey for a good long while, but I think Calculating Stars is my new favorite.”
  • Born February 8, 1979 Josh Keaton, 43. He voiced the Hal Jordan / Green Lantern character in the most excellent Green Lantern: The Animated series which is getting a fresh series of episodes on the DC Universe streaming service. Yea! I’m also very impressed with his Spider-Man that he did for The Spectacular Spider-Man series. 

(12) COMICS AS A CASE STUDY. [Item by John A Arkansawyer.] Who knew? I did not: “Not Even a Superhero Could Fix Global Supply Chains” in The American Prospect.

World War II and 9/11 couldn’t halt comic book production; COVID did. In 2020, as the world flipped on its head, even comics couldn’t evade a concentrated economy’s bursting fault lines. Diamond Comic Distributors—the industry titan that distributed Marvel and DC Comics for a quarter-century—shut down operations in April 2020 for nearly two months.

While distribution eventually restarted, the industry has continued to suffer lags. Entering the third year of the pandemic, frustrations run deep among comic book enthusiasts. Paloma Deerfield has worked for more than five years at Vault of Midnight, a comic book shop in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her favorites include X-Men, Saga, Demon Slayer, Jujutsu Kaisen, and the indie comic publisher Boom! Studios. It’s disappointing, says Deerfield, “not being able to stock the shelves the way we want to.”

Buyers and sellers alike are feeling the impact not only from comic book distribution delays, but also from a shortage of bags and boards—the materials used to preserve collections in mint condition.

At BCW Supplies, an Indiana-based company that provides over 900 hobby accessories for collectors and retailers, backing boards are processed in their Indiana facility, while plastic bags are produced in their China factories, according to marketing manager Ted Litvan.

The paper industry’s significant price increases, explained Litvan, are due to higher demand outside of the collectibles industry. In early 2021, Amazon and other e-commerce giants snatched up the majority of the world’s cardboard supply. The cost of producing corrugated cardboard tripled last year too. For imported goods, meanwhile, “the ports are a mess,” and BCW can no longer predict when a shipment will be available for final delivery….

(13) FREUD AND C.S. LEWIS DRAMATIZED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Sarah Hemming reviews Freud’s Last Session, a 2010 play by Mark St Germain about an imaginary encounter between Sigmund Freud and C S Lewis in 1939, that is on stage at the Kings Head Theatre (kingsheadtheatre.com) through February 12.  It stars Sean Browne as Lewis and Julian Bird as Freud.

Lewis, who finds himself repeatedly drawn to the couch as if by a magnet, talks about his childhood.  For Freud, in physical agony and contemplating his end, arguments about the finality of death feel far from theoretical.

For both men the imminent conflict (of World War II) weighs heavy.  Lewis still bears the scars of his First World War experience; Freud has recently fled Austria.  The conversation is interrupted by a couple of moments of mortal terror–an air road siren; the throes of aircraft overhead–well realised in Darney’s staging. Browne and Bird bring the two adversaries springing to life.

(14) NO MIRACLE ON 35TH STREET. Bob Byrne wrote a series showing members of The Wolfe Pack how Nero and Archie are riding out the pandemic in the Spring of 2020. Black Gate has been reprinting them, and the latest installment is: “Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 34 and 35”.

…He eyed me levelly. “You know very well that you took that laundry to Lee’s as an infantile response to my insistence that the laundry go out that day. I highly doubt that Swann’s was closed.”

I was nonplussed. He continued. “No doubt, you instructed Mister Lee to put extra starch in my collars. And you added the cuffs out of spite.”

I gave him hurt expression number three. “I did no such thing.” I stared at the wall, thoughtfully. “Although, I did practice my Chinese with him. I might have said, ‘extra’ when I meant ‘less.’ My Chinese is a little rusty.”

He snorted. “Ridiculous. You don’t even speak Chinese.”

“Can’t get more rusty than that.”…

(15) AS YOU WISH. Kotaku explains now a “Sly NYT Crossword Puzzle Tricks Star Wars, Star Trek Fans”.

…The clever puzzle simply asks: “The better of two sci-fi franchises.” Depending on your preference, the answer is either Star Wars or Star Trek. The double entendre was highlighted in Wordplay, the Times’ crossword column along with a note about the choice from puzzle constructor Stephen McCarthy.

“I am a fan of both Star Wars and Star Trek, so it’s nice to be able to highlight both (not to mention the friendly rivalry between the two fandoms) in one puzzle,” McCarthy says in the column….

(16) SCIENCE IN A VACUUM. “Science and the Sublime” is an exhibit The Huntington in San Marino, CA has assembled around a famous painting temporarily on loan.

Feb. 12, 2022–May 30, 2022

Huntington Art Gallery

One of the great masterpieces from the Age of Enlightenment, Joseph Wright of Derby’s monumental An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (1768) depicts a small group of people gathered around a candlelit table on which a lecturer in natural history is performing a scientific experiment, namely the creation of a vacuum, as described by chemist Robert Boyle in the 17th century. As air is slowly removed from a glass jar, the fate of a cockatiel inside the jar hangs in the balance. The observers’ reactions range from fascination to dismay. In Wright’s hands, the tableau is an exercise in the sublime, a moment of extreme tension recast as a dramatic meditation on the fragility of life. At the same time, the experiment being performed relates to advances in the fields of science and medicine, making the scene a celebration of human achievement.

“Science and the Sublime: A Masterpiece by Joseph Wright of Derby” presents the powerful 6-by-8-foot painting on loan from the National Gallery in London, where it is one of that institution’s most popular paintings, along with 15 works from The Huntington’s own collections, including two smaller paintings by Wright and 13 rare objects from the Library’s holdings. The exhibition’s theme highlights two major strengths of The Huntington’s collections—British art and the history of science—providing a unique opportunity to juxtapose materials that are not normally displayed together. Alongside Bird in the Air Pump, are rare books and ephemera that reveal the real science behind the elements that Wright depicts on canvas, as well as the contemporary moral and aesthetic debates with which he engages.

The loan of Bird in the Air Pump is part of a reciprocal exchange with the National Gallery, where The Huntington’s most famous work, Thomas Gainsborough’s iconic painting of The Blue Boy (ca. 1770), will be on display for London museumgoers for the first time in a century, from Jan. 25 through May 15, 2022.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Tom Becker, Darrah Chavey, Jennifer Hawthorne, John A Arkansawyer, Will R., Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 12/25/21 Make Me a Pixel That Scrolls From Mont Tsundoku

(1) BEST BITS. BBC Radio 4 is airing “The Best Bits of the Good Parts Version” by Stephen Keyworth based on The Princess Bride on Christmas Day, and it will be available online for some time afterwards.

“This is my favourite book in all the world, though I have never read it”. When William Goldman discovers The Princess Bride by S Morgenstern is not the swashbuckling fantasy his father read him as a child, but is in fact a patchy and extensive historical satire, he sets out to create the “Good Parts” version…

A tale of true love and high adventure featuring a fighting giant that loves to rhyme, a swordsman on the ultimate quest for revenge, a pirate in love with a princess, a princess in love with a farm boy and a prince in love with war.

First a novel, then a film, now an audio experience:

The Best Bits of the Good Parts Version by Stephen Keyworth.

A two-part dramatisation of swashbuckling adventure plus five bitesize backstories which can be enjoyed as stand-alone stories or to enhance your experience of the drama.

The Dramatisation: Part 1  

Buttercup is the most beautiful woman in the world and she’s in love with a farm boy who is about to become the most notorious man in the world…

(2) RAMBO ACADEMY HOLIDAY SALE. Cat Rambo’s Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers holiday sale opens today and runs through January 1, 2022. All on-demand classes are $5 each for lifetime access, or there are bundles for those that don’t want to do a lot of clicking around in order to get everything.

She adds, “If finances are tight but there’s stuff you think would be useful to you, let me know. I’ve got Plunketts set aside for these as well.”

If you want to grab everything without clicking around, here’s the entire bundle for $120. 

If you bought last year’s bundle and just want everything new from 2021, here’s the update bundle for $30.

*”Lifetime” here represents the life of the Teachable platform, although I have no reason to think it’s going away anytime soon.

(3) TIME IS OUT OF JOINT. New Year’s Day specials instead of Christmas specials – “Jodie Whittaker’s lost Doctor Who specials were missed opportunity” in the view of Radio Times’ Helen Daly.

…While Jodie Whittaker has finished filming Doctor Who and is in her final batch of episodes, it feels a little early to write her Doctor’s obituary just yet. With three extended specials still to go and around 10 months before she regenerates, we’re still very much in the Jodie Whittaker era, with more adventures to form our lasting opinion of her time in the TARDIS before she leaves.

However, we do now know one thing her Doctor will never do – star in a Christmas special. And frankly, that will always be a crying shame.

Uniquely among the modern Doctors (technically, Christopher Eccleston’s The Unquiet Dead is set at Christmas) Whittaker will never take on a 25th December-themed festive frolic, after showrunner Chris Chibnall opted to focus on New Year’s Day episodes instead….

(4) I’M BATMAN. “Michael Keaton to reprise ‘Batman’ role in HBO Max’s ‘Batgirl’ in 2022” says USA Today.

Good news for “Batman” fans: Michael Keaton is reprising his iconic role in the upcoming HBO Max movie, “Batgirl.”

Keaton, who starred in Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman” and the 1992 sequel “Batman Returns,” is set to return as Bruce Wayne alongside Leslie Grace, who will play Batgirl, along with J.K. Simmons, Brendan Fraser and Jacob Scipio.

(5) WORD PILOT. Sultana Raza sent this excerpt from her article “Steering the Wheel of your Inner Creative/Writing Journey” which appeared in the Inner Circle Magazine.

Which form(s)/genre(s) suits your style best?

Many writers like experimenting at the beginning of their writing adventures. It may take a while to find your style, or (sub-)genre. George RR Martin published quite a few sci-fi books, which had a select following of SFF fans. But it’s only when he came up with A Song of Ice and Fire that he seemed to have found his sub-genre: sword and sorcery, or epic fantasy, since these best-sellers had a much wider appeal.

Some authors like to vary their styles, with novelist David Mitchell being a case in point. Since he’s incorporated many eras (from 1850 to the far future) in his novel, Cloud Atlas, he’s used the language of those particular eras and places to create the atmosphere of those times.

A strong clue to finding out which form/genre maybe the most suitable for your style would be to make a list of your favourite authors/poets. And to note down which forms/genres/styles attract you and why. Another way would be to see which of your styles got you the most positive feed-back. Yet another indication could be to notice which form comes the most easily to you. Or which one might be challenging, but gives you the most satisfaction.

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2009 [Item by Cat Eldridge.]  Twelve years ago, Sherlock Holmes premiered. The film was directed by Guy Ritchie and produced by Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram, Susan Downey, and Dan Lin.  The screenplay was by Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham, and Simon Kinberg from a story idea by Wigram and Johnson. 

Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law were a most excellent Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson with Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler, Eddie Marsan as Inspector Lestrade and Andrew Jack provided the voice of Professor Moriarty. 

Reception among critics was nearly unanimously enthusiastic with Roger Ebert saying “The Conan Doyle stories are still read, and probably always will be. Most readers get to at least a few. But among moviegoers on Christmas night (traditionally one of the busiest movie nights of the year), probably not so many. They will be unaware that this ‘Sherlock Holmes’ is cheerfully revisionist. They will be entertained, and so was I. The great detective, who has survived so much, can certainly shrug off a few special effects.” The box office was amazing was it did over a half billion against the ninety million it cost to produce. It currently had has a seventy-seven percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 25, 1924 — Rod Serling. Best remembered for the original and certainly superior Twilight Zone and Night Gallery with the former winning an impressive three Hugos. He’s also the screenwriter or a co-screenwriter for Seven Days in May, a very scary film indeed, as well as The New People series, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeA Town Has Turned to DustUFOs: Past, Present, and Future and Planet of the Apes. ISDB lists a lot of published scripts and stories by him. (Died 1975.)
  • Born December 25, 1928 — Dick Miller. He’s appeared in over a hundred films including every film directed by Dante. You’ve seen him in both Gremlins, The Little Shop of HorrorsTerminatorThe HowlingSmall SoldiersTwilight Zone: The MovieAmazon Women on the Moon, the most excellent Batman: Mask of the Phantasm where he voiced the gravelly voiced Chuckie Sol and Oberon in the excellent “The Ties That Bind” episode of Justice League Unlimited. (Died 2019.)
  • Born December 25, 1945 — Rick Berman, 76. Loved and loathed in equal measures, he’s known for his work as the executive producer of Next GenDeep Space Nine which is my fav Trek series, Voyager and Enterprise which he co-created with Brannon Braga. He’d be lead producer on the four Next Generation films: Generations which I find boring, First Contact (which I really like), Insurrection and Nemesis.
  • Born December 25, 1952 — CCH Pounder, 69. She’s had one very juicy voice role running through the DC Universe from since Justice League Unlimited in 2006. If you’ve not heard her do this role, it worth seeing the animated Assault on Arkham Asylum which is far superior to the live action Suicide Squad film to hear her character which is Amanda “The Wall” Waller. She also had a recurring role as Mrs. Irene Frederic on Warehouse 13 as well.  She’s also been in X-FilesQuantum Leap, the Gargoyles series, Millennium, House of Frankenstein and Outer Limits.  Film-wise, she shows up in Robocop 3Tales from the Crypt presents Demon KnightThe Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and several of the forthcoming Avatar films. 
  • Born December 25, 1984 — Georgia Moffett, 37. She’s  the daughter of actor Peter Davison, the man who was Fifth Doctor and she’s married to David Tennant who was the Tenth Doctor.  She played opposite the Tenth Doctor as Jenny in “The Doctor’s Daughter” and in she voiced ‘Cassie’ in the animated Doctor Who: Dreamland which is now on iTunes and Amazon. And yes she’s in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot as herself. 
  • Born December 25, 1939 — Royce D. Applegate. His best known role was that of Chief Petty Officer Manilow Crocker on the first season of seaQuest DSV. He’s got appearances in Quantum Leap, Twin Peaks (where he played Rev. Clarence Brocklehurst), Tales of the Unexpected and Supertrain. Yes, Supertrain. (Died 2003.)

(8) WHAT A TANGLED WEBB. In the Washington Post, Joel Achenbach takes a long look at the James Webb Space Telescope, explaining what it’s designed to do, why it’s important, and the many ways the mission can fail in the two months before it becomes operational. “NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, poised to launch, will open a new window on the cosmos — if everything goes just right”.

NASA’s long-delayed James Webb Space Telescope, a $10 billion marvel of engineering and scientific ambition, is finally poised to rocket into deep space from a launchpad in French Guiana, on the northeast shoulder of South America. What happens in the following days and weeks will either change our understanding of the universe, or deliver a crushing blow to NASA and the global astronomical community.

The Webb must cruise for 29 days to a unique orbit around the sun that keeps it roughly 1 million miles from Earth, four times the distance to the moon. At launch — scheduled for 7:20 a.m. Saturday, Christmas morning — it will be folded upon itself, a shrouded package inside the cone of the European Space Agency’s Ariane 5 rocket. After it escapes Earth’s gravity, it must begin opening up, blossoming into a functioning telescope….

One scientist tweeted —

(9) LANNISTER, RETIRED. “Peter Dinklage on ‘Cyrano’ and Life After ‘Game of Thrones’” — a New York Times interview.

…Still, in a recent and wide-ranging conversation via video call, Dinklage told me that he has found life since “Game of Thrones” to be quite liberating: “You feel this void, but then you also go, ‘Oh, wow. I don’t have to do that, so what am I going to do next?’ That’s the exciting thing.”

Here are edited excerpts from our conversation.

In the ’90s, you gave an interview where you said, “What I really want is to play the romantic lead and get the girl.”

I think I was speaking more to the idea that they get to thread the whole narrative, and that’s sort of a joy. I had been playing a number of fun parts, but they were supporting parts. Behind the curtain of filmmaking, so much of it is continuity of character: If you come in for one or two scenes, you can just lay some dynamite, have some fun, and then you’re out of there, but there’s no real arc to your storytelling.

I think what’s fascinating about “Game of Thrones” and why a lot of actors are now drawn to television, is because they get to do that slow burn. For example, if you take the character of Tyrion’s brother Jaime, he pushes a little kid out the window at the end of the first episode, but two seasons later, he’s a hero to the audience. It’s like, did you forget he pushed a kid out the window? It’s crazy the way you can just surf this narrative and take it wherever you want to go. I got to do that with Tyrion and you get to do that in the movie if you’re the lead, though you have to condense it a little bit more….

(10) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers:  Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl,” Fandom Games says the latest Pokemon retread is “appealing only to the person who has to have remastered versions of everything they own” and features Pokemon they call “Cocaine Smurf,” “Hit That Bongtopus,” “Baby Shark,” “Street Shark,” “UFC Shark” and “Greg.”

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

Pixel Scroll 12/24/21 Scrollent Green Is Made Of Pixels

(1) THE MOVING FINGER WRITES. “Russell T Davies has already written new Doctor Who episodes for 2023” reports Radio Times.

…In an interview with The Guardian, the writer has revealed some of the new episodes are already written and ready to go – but he insists the new Doctor is not yet decided.

“I’ve already written some of the episodes. The first will go out in November 2023 – that’s the 60th anniversary of the show,” he said.

Davies was tight-lipped on the topic of who will replace Whittaker as the Doctor, however….

(2) BEWARE SPOILER. Radio Times interviews “Jodie Whittaker on being exterminated by Dalek in Doctor Who”.

…Speaking about the upcoming episode, which will see her succumb to her foes a fair bit, Whittaker told press including RadioTimes.com: “When I read this episode for the first time and in one of the opening moments get exterminated I genuinely thought, ‘Somebody has decided to write me out a bit sooner than I thought!’

“It’s brilliant to play because the first time, for the Doctor, it’s as if you’re grasping at those seconds and that realisation that it could be your last moment. And for you to be killed by a Dalek would be so horrendous! But then once you realise you’re in this time loop the anticipation of the pain and the fun that can be had with that… it’s the first time in my career I’ve died so many times in an episode, there’s always a first! ”…

(3) A HUNK OF BURNING LOVE. Marvel shares Kate Bishop’s Yule Log.

Grab some hot cocoa and cuddle up by the fireplace at Kate Bishop’s inspired NYC apartment!

(4) HAWKEYE NON-SPOILER. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Hawkeye’s end of season-finale episode #6 includes the full performance of the Rogers/Avengers “I Could Do This All Day” song.

(5) TWILIGHT ZONE. Slash Film reminds everyone that “Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Is Science Fiction With A Beating Heart”.

…”The Twilight Zone” isn’t only some of the most unique and influential science fiction of all time, it’s also science fiction with a soul. Watch straight through, and you’ll see that Serling has an unmovable moral compass that always directs his narrative path to the most humane end result. It makes sense that the series is often played in marathons around the holiday season, as many episodes would make a great double feature with the Frank Capra Christmas classic, “It’s A Wonderful Life.” The show possesses both a sense of wonder and a through-line of deep awareness of humankind’s fallibility and mortality….

(6) A LOOK AT THE NEW MATRIX FILM. Pablo Vazquez reviewed The Matrix: Resurrection on Facebook. Reprinted here with permission.

First off, let me preface this by noting that the Matrix series has been highly influential to me and cheesily responsible for getting me to read more philosophy and exploring heterodox concepts. After rewatching some scenes and talking with other folks who’ve seen the film, I think the new Matrix film is somewhere between a 5-5.5/10 and some moments border on 6/10. It is very clearly a protest film if an impotent one and I respect it for that. It’s very clear no one involved wanted to do this but they were willing to jump back in if only to maintain an element of creative control. Some scenes are quality Matrix, some are a bit too “Whedonized/Marvelized” for me, and there’s a few sequences that were far too Episode One for me to the point that they might as well have put in some podracing. The pacing was weird, the movie seemed cheaply made, the soundtrack was disappointing and the dialogue was even more so. Don’t even get me started on the fight sequences and, I gotta say, the aesthetic was rather bland for a series so well known for its aesthetics.

What did I like then? Well, probably the first half of the film where it still seemed like a Situationist critique on the power of media to shape consensus reality and a vicious attack on bland sequel culture. The sad point is it basically became the things it was obviously trying to critique. The acting was good and I loved seeing the Sense8 cast involved in something again considering Sense8 is my all-time favorite Wachowski work. I think the movie got too saccharine in its second half but I did like the “two halves of a greater whole” theme. The cinematography was also good but could’ve been better.

Would I go see it again? Probably not. Do I think people are ridiculous for liking it? Definitely not. This is very much a subjective film considering I view it as a cynical nostalgia cash-in masquerading as radical critique but, to someone, it could very well be a crucial “message movie” or some simple entertainment. Lana didn’t want to make this but I suppose her at the helm is a bit better than whatever catastrophe WB was planning in the first place without her. All in all, to me, it’s not a thinking film, it’s rather not what I was looking for with The Matrix, and way too cynical for me, but hey, I suppose that’s the world we live in now and at least it makes alright popcorn fodder if you feel like hitting up the theaters and getting your nostalgia dose.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1981 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty years ago in Australia, The Road Warrior (alt: Mad Max 2) premiered. Directed by George Miller and produced by Byron Kennedy, the screenplay was by Terry Hayes, George Miller and Brian Hannant. Australian New Wave composer Brian May is responsible for the music. It stars Mel Gibson and the Australian outback. 

It was extremely well received by critics with Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times saying it was “one of the most relentlessly aggressive movies ever made,” and Vincent Canby of the New York Times calling it “an extravagant film fantasy that looks like a sadomasochistic comic book come to life.” On a budget of just three million, it made thirty-six million — a rather excellent showing.  Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an eighty-seven rating. It would be nominated for a Hugo at ConStellation, the year Blade Runner took home the Hugo.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 24, 1910 — Fritz Leiber. I can say that my fav work by him is The Big Time which I either read or listen to every year. And yes, I’ve read the Change War Stories too, difficult to find as they were. Yes, I know it won a Hugo — much, much deserved!  I’m also fond of Conjure Wife, but otherwise I prefer his short fiction to his novels. (Died 1992.)
  • Born December 24, 1945 — Nicholas Meyer, 74. Superb and funny novel, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution is.  Much better than the film, I think. Now his Time After Time film is spot on. And let’s not forget his work on the Trek films, The Wrath of Khan (much of which went uncredited), The Voyage Home and The Undiscovered Country.  
  • Born December 24, 1964 — Mark Valley, 55. He made my Birthday list first by being the lead, Christopher Chance, in Human Target, a short-lived series created by Len Wein and Carmine Infantino for DC, that was weirdly well done. He was also John Scott in Fringe as a regular cast member early on. He voiced Clark Kent / Superman in the second part of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
  • Born December 24, 1966 — Diedrich Bader, 53. I know him best as the voice of Batman on The Batman and Batman: The Brave and the Bold. No, he’s not Kevin Conroy but his Batman is quite enjoyable and interesting in his own right. He’s best cast as Batman / Bruce Wayne in the new Harley Quinn series on the DC Universe service.
  • Born December 24, 1969 — Mark Millar, 50. Comic book writer whose resume is long. The Millar/Quitely era on The Authority was politically edged and often got censored by DC as it commented on the Iraq War — well worth your reading. His run on Swamp Thing from 142 to 171 has a lot of other writers including Morrison. He did the Ultimates at Marvels and a lot of the superb series ended in the Avengers film. Finally, his excellent Civil War was the basis of the Captain America: Civil War film and his not to be missed Old Man Logan was the inspiration for Fox’s Logan film.

(9) COVID JOURNAL. John Skylar, Ph.D., a virologist who contracted Covid at DisCon III, is publicly documenting his experience with the virus. Thread starts here.

(10) TAIYOU CON. An Arizona anime con has had its director resign after a sexual assault claim: “Anime fans, cosplayers bow out of Arizona convention after sexual assault accusation” at Yahoo!

Cosplayers and fans of comic books, anime and video games have vowed to boycott a long-running Arizona anime convention in January due to allegations of misconduct and sexual assault against the convention’s director, who has since stepped down.

On Dec. 15, Arizona resident Allie Heady, 25, detailed in a public Facebook post that she had been sexually assaulted by someone known within the anime and cosplay communities as Gackto in December 2017. Gackto also was the name of the director of Taiyou Con, an annual anime convention scheduled for Jan. 7-9 at Mesa Convention Center.

…Heady, an anime fan who lives in Arizona, alleged in her Facebook post that she now has post-traumatic stress disorder after being sexually assaulted by Gackto four years ago.

“It’s taken me a long time to come forward and speak about this. But I continue to see him, and his posts and his ‘achievements.’ And I don’t want to,” she wrote. “And whether or not anyone believes me, I can finally get this off my chest.”

At the end of her post, Heady added a call to action: “He also created an anime convention called Taiyou Con. Please boycott it. Please understand what nightmares he has put me and others thru. Please share my story and uplift those who are maybe too afraid to come forward, because it’s happened. And I will not, I do not want to stay quiet anymore.”

(11) SPACE RONIN. [Item by Kendall.] Tons of rogue planets, Jupiter sized (which makes me wonder about smaller ones they simply can’t detect).  I wouldn’t want to meet a Jupiter in a dark alley between the stars. “Astronomers discover largest group of ‘rogue planets’ yet”The Verge has the story.

Astronomers just discovered a treasure trove of “rogue planets” — free-floating planets that don’t orbit a star but exist all by their lonesome in the depths of space. With masses comparable to that of Jupiter, the 70 or more rogue planets spotted throughout the Milky Way galaxy are the largest such group of cosmic nomads ever found.

Located within the Scorpius and Ophiuchus constellations, the planets were spotted using a suite of telescopes on both the ground and in space. Typically, rogue planets are difficult to image because they aren’t close to any stars to make them visible. However, with data compiled over 20 years from European Southern Observatory (ESO) telescopes, the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite, and more, Núria Miret-Roig, an astronomer at the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Bordeaux, France and the University of Vienna, Austria, and her team were able to capture faint heat signatures emitted from planets that formed within the last several million years.

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Well, this is inspired! “Where Is The Comma In ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen’ Supposed To Go?”

This a cappella arrangement of “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” examines how commas can change meanings… often with unintended results.

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

Pixel Scroll 11/27/21 And In The Barkness Dine Them

(1) SEVERANCE PAY. On The Last Leg, Jodie Whittaker tells the host about her emotional final day on Doctor Who, and the souvenir she stole from the set.

(2) NANOWRIMO DEADLINE APPROACHES. November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) – and guess which month is almost over? Mad Genius Club’s Amanda S. Green hit the goal, but knows from experience what can happen when “NaNoWriMo meets real life”.

… But the real problem for me and for a number of other writers is NaNo is a complete deviation from our normal way of writing. To push through and finish “the book”, most of us have to turn off the internal editor. We have to give ourselves permission not to write in all the details we usually put in during the first draft. We have to remember that what comes out is not the final product but is, at best, an expanded outline which will need another month or two to get ready for publication….

(3) GATOR GENESIS. It’s interesting that a Gothamist writer claims to have authenticated this story, because during my early days in fandom I’d heard it was perpetrated by Galaxy editor H.L. Gold. “The Alligator In The Sewer: Evidence Behind NYC’s Urban Legend”. The Wikipedia also devotes an article to “Sewer alligator” legends.

On a chilly day in 2010 I stood on the steps of City Hall to hold a press conference. Equipped with a proclamation from the Manhattan Borough President and an enlarged clipping from the NY Times, I was there to announce the First Annual Alligator in the Sewer Day, a pseudo-holiday I have been celebrating every year since.

Exactly 75 years earlier, on February 9th 1935, New York City’s greatest urban legend was born, and the NYT story, which ran the following day, proved that legend was true.

“Alligator Found in Uptown Sewer,” read the headline. The piece recounted how some East Harlem teens were shoveling snow down a storm sewer when one of them noticed movement below. He peered into the darkness and was stunned by what he saw. “Honest, it’s an alligator!” he proclaimed to his buddies….

(4) NO AHHHS ARC. Camestros Felapton provides the “Interim, spoiler-free, review of Doctor Who: Flux” you may not have known you needed.

… Overall, I think so far it has been pretty good. Like previous Chibnall seasons, there’s no stand-out 100% future-classic episode but he is leaning into his strengths. Those strengths include a good sense of the aesthetics of “good” Doctor Who episodes (but not the substance of it) and longer story arcs. Rehashing classic villains isn’t a great way of moving the series forward but Chibnall’s attempts at new ideas previously have largely fallen flat, so…I think I prefer him playing it safe….

(5) A WAY OUT. New Scientist’s Sally Adee reviews Charlie Jane Anders’ new collection in “Even Greater Mistakes review: Short sci-fi stories without the sexism”. The post ends:

… But as Anders shows us, we have choices in how to deal with these rigged systems. We can always throw the whole lot in the bin.

(6) VINDICATION. Vincent Czyz, reviewing a new edition, says “The jury’s in. The critics who agreed with an early assessment that 1975’s Dhalgren is a ‘literary landmark’ get to touch champagne flutes and congratulate one another,” in “Book Review: Samuel R. Delany’s ‘Dhalgren’ – A Critical War of Words” at The Arts Fuse.

“Very few suspect the existence of this city. It is as if not only the media but the laws of perspective themselves have redesigned knowledge and perception to pass it by. Rumor says there is practically no power here. Neither television cameras nor on-the-spot broadcasts function: that such a catastrophe as this should be opaque, and therefore dull, to the electric nation! It is a city of inner discordances and retinal distortions.” – Samuel R. Delany, Dhalgren

Dhalgren is a tragic failure,” howled science fiction heavyweight Harlan Ellison in his February 1975 review for the Los Angeles Times. “An unrelenting bore of a literary exercise afflicted with elephantiasis, anemia of ideas, and malnutrition of plot.”

“I have just read the very best ever to come out of the science fiction field,” countered Theodore Sturgeon, another SF heavyweight who, in my opinion, was a tad heavier. “Having experienced it, you will stand taller, understand more, and press your horizons back a little further away than you ever knew they could go.” Galaxy Magazine published his take on Dhalgren after Ellison weighed in.

Critic Darrell Schweitzer, writing for the fanzine Outworld (October 1975), threw in with Ellison, calling Dhalgren “shockingly bad.” “It is a dreary, dead book,” he went on to say, “about as devoid of content as any piece of writing can be and still have the words arranged in any coherent order.”

That seems a pretty definitive judgment, and yet forty-five years later Schweitzer repented: “I have to admit that Dhalgren seems well on its way to fulfilling the definition of ‘great literature’ I give here, i.e., that it means something different to readers and different points in their lives, and they keep coming back to it.”…

(7) MARCHING ON TURKEY DAY. Gothamist has a large gallery of photos from the “2021 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade In NYC”. Here are two of them:

(8) LOVES A CHALLENGE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.]  In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna interviews Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote seven songs for the new Disney animated film Encanto and who will write new songs with Alan Menken for the live-action The Little Mermaid remake scheduled to be released in 2023. “’Encanto’’s Lin-Manuel Miranda has become a go-to songwriter for Disney”.

…But it was while working together on Disney’s 2016 animated hit “Moana” — which yielded Miranda’s Oscar-nominated “How Far I’ll Go” — that the composer vocalized an “I Want” wish to screenwriter Bush, who recalls: “He told me he wanted to write the definitive Latin American Disney musical.”

Soon the two were talking with Bush’s “Zootopia” collaborator and fellow brass musician Byron Howard,who would also become a writer-director on “Encanto” (as would Charise Castro Smith). They shared the experience of coming from large extended families. Out of that grew an “Encanto” story that spotlights a dozen main characters — “unheard of in Disney animation,” says Bush….

(9) PEDESTRIAN FACTS. MeTV wants you to know: “Here’s what’s on the ground in ‘The Jetsons’”.

…One of the most common misconceptions about The Jetsons is that the cartoon never shows the ground beneath Orbit City. The Jetson family lives in the Skypad Apartments. George works at Spacely Space Sprockets. Both cylindrical buildings project into the sky like birdhouses on long poles. It is a world of flying cars.

This optimistic vision of the 21st century often left viewers wondering — what is on the ground? Well, the answer is… hobos, walking birds, concrete and parks.

One of the best views of the surface level comes in the seventh episode, “The Flying Suit.” Remember, The Jetsons originally aired for a single season in 1962–63, as reruns kept it on Saturday mornings for years. Anyway, this particular episode revolves around W.C. Cogswell and Mr. Spacely both developing a red jumpsuit that allows people to fly. Meanwhile, Elroy had concocted pills that allow people to fly. A mix-up at the dry cleaners swaps the suits, and in the end, both companies think their flying suit is a dud. Besides, who wants to slip on a special unitard when you can just pop a pill? The episode closes with Cogswell tossing his X-1500 flying suit out the window, believing it to be worthless….

(10) SONDHEIM OBIT. Stephen Sondheim, whose works includes CompanyA Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the ForumSunday in the Park with GeorgeSweeney ToddFolliesInto the WoodsAssassins and lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy, died November 26 at the age of 91. The New York Times obituary is here cites one of his lesser-known genre creations:

…Mr. Sondheim’s first professional show business job was not in the theater at all; through the agency representing Hammerstein, he was hired to write for a 1950s television comedy, “Topper,” about a fussbudget banker haunted by a pair of urbane ghosts. (Much later, Mr. Sondheim wrote a whodunit film script, “The Last of Sheila,” with the actor Anthony Perkins; it was produced in 1973 and directed by Herbert Ross.)

Sondheim coauthored this episode of the fantasy sitcom Topper in 1954 when he was 24.

(11) MEMORY LANE.

[By Cat Eldridge.]

1995 — Twenty-six years ago this evening, the writers of Deep Space Nine decided to riff off of James Bond with the “Our Man Bashir” episode. It was directed by Winrich Kolbe from a story that originated with a pitch from Assistant Script Coordinator Robert Gillan which was turned into a script by Producer Ronald D. Moore. 

Although the episode takes its title from Our Man Flint, a major inspiration for the story was the James Bond films. This obvious influence resulted in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer complaining to Paramount about it as they had GoldenEye coming out. Though why they thought it would affect the success of the film is a mystery as it was the best Pierce Brosnan Bond film and the most successful of his films. 

It was well-received at the time and has not been visited by the Suck Fairy which I hold is true of the entire series. Charlie Jane Anders at io9 considers it one of goofiest Deep Space Nine episodes, and Keith DeCandido at Tor.com says “holy crap is it fun”.  The trailer is here.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 27, 1907 L. Sprague de Camp. The Tales from Gavagan’s Bar he wrote with Fletcher Pratt are my favorite works by him. Best novel by him? I’d say that’s Lest Darkness Fall. His only Hugo was awarded at LoneStarCon2 for Time & Chance: An Autobiography. He got voted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award, and he got World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. His very first Award was an IFA for Lands Beyond that he wrote with Willie Ley. (Died 2000.)
  • Born November 27, 1935 Verity Lambert. Founding Producer of Doctor Who. (When she was appointed to Who in 1963, she was BBC Television’s only female drama producer, as well as the youngest.) After leaving BBC, she’d oversee the Quatermass series at Thames. She’d return to BBC to Executive Produce three seasons of So Haunt Me, a supernatural series.  Wiki has her producing an episode of Doctor Who called “A Happy Ending” in 2006 which it tuns out is one of this fannish productions notable for the presence of Susan, played by Carole Ann Ford, the daughter of the First Doctor.  (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 27, 1940 Bruce Lee. His only genre role was as Kato in The Green Hornet which to my utter surprise only lasted for twenty-six episodes between 1966 and 1967. He also appeared on Batman in three episodes, “The Spell of Tut”, “Batman’s Satisfaction”, and “A Piece of The Action”. Despite the various weird rumors, including Triad induced curses about his death, it was quite mundane. Donald Teare, an experienced forensic scientist who had been recommended by Scotland Yard was assigned to the Lee case. His conclusion was “death by misadventure” caused by cerebral edema due to a reaction to compounds present in the combination Equagesic medication. (Died 1973.)
  • Born November 27, 1951 Melinda Snodgrass, 70. She wrote several episodes of Next Gen while being the series’ story editor during its second and third seasons. She has also contributed produced scripts for the series Odyssey 5Outer Limits, Beyond Reality, and SeaQuest DSV. She’s contributed a lot of stories of the Wild Cards series of which she is co-editor, and I’m very fond of her Imperials Saga which is what that promo blurb referring to Bridgerton was about. 
  • Born November 27, 1957 Michael A. Stackpole, 64. Best known for his myriad Star Wars and BattleTech books, but I’m going to single him out for the excellent Once a Hero which was nominated for a Nebula, his Conan the Barbarian novel, and the two Crown Colonies novels.
  • Born November 27, 1961 Samantha Bond, 60. Best known for playing Miss Moneypenny in four James Bond films during the series’ Pierce Brosnan years. She was also Mrs Wormwood in three episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures, the spin-off of Doctor Who, and played Helga in Erik the Viking which written and directed by Terry Jones. 
  • Born November 27, 1963 Fisher Stevens, 58. He’s best remembered as Ben Jabituya in Short Circuit (and renamed Ben Jahveri in the sequel), Chuck Fishman on Early Edition, and Eugene “The Plague” Belford in Hackers. He’s also had roles on The HungerLostThe Mentalist, Medium and Elementary.
  • Born November 27, 1974 Jennifer O’Dell, 47. Her only meaningful role to date, genre or otherwise, has been that of Veronica on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World but what a pulp heroine she made there . She’s had some minor roles such on Charmed and Bones, and appearances on films such as Alien Battlefield and Dr. Laurie Williams on Vampire flick Slayer but nothing major to date.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro  tells the story of Dorian Moneybags.

(14) MIYAZAKI RETURNING. “Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki Comes Out Of Retirement For New Film”Deadline has the story.

Famed anime director Hayao Miyazaki revealed he is coming out of retirement once again to make a feature length animated film.

In an interview with the New York Times, Miyazaki didn’t give much detail about the film, but mentioned its based on Genzaburo Yoshino’s 1937 book How Do You Live? The story follows a teenage boy in Tokyo who moves in with his uncle after his father dies. The novel is reportedly one of the director’s favorites.

Miyazaki didn’t confirm if the film would have the same name as the book, but when asked why he was returning to direct the film, he simply answered “Because I wanted to.” Studio Ghibli co-founder and producer Toshio Suzuki described the new film as “fantasy on a grand scale.”…

(15) PURPLE PEOPLE. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt interviews Hailee Steinfeld, who plays Hawkeye’s sidekick Kate Bishop in Hawkeye but could play an increasingly important role in the MCU in the future. “Hailee Steinfeld of ‘Hawkeye’ could become the next big star of the Marvel universe”.

Hailee Steinfeld had no idea how much one color was about to take over her new superhero life.

Purple has become her second skin during the production and promotion of her highly anticipated series “Hawkeye.” Steinfeld kept seeing the color splashed across the “thousands” of pages she read of the Hawkeye comics, which she enjoyed so much she keeps them on display at her home. Both her character, Kate Bishop, and Clint Barton, played by Jeremy Renner, have purple suits — and it was obvious her chats with the wardrobe department on “Hawkeye” would have a singular focus.

“It’s so funny because, I of course obviously knew about the purple walking into this … but I guess maybe I didn’t. Because it has become my world,” Steinfeld told The Washington Post. “But I’m not mad about it. I do love the color purple.”…

(16) TO PROMOTE PRINT SALES. “Solana Beach Art Gallery to Host Dr. Seuss Art Collection” says Times of San Diego.

Exclusive Collections in Solana Beach announced this week it will host a private collection of artwork by beloved author Theodor Seuss Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss.

Virtually unknown to the general public, the art collection features paintings and sculptures created by the famous children’s author.

Organizers described the work as “a mind-expanding collection based on decades of artwork, which Dr. Seuss created at night for his own personal pleasure.”

(17) CAVE LIBRUM. In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri says we probably ought to ban all books, because books are dangerous! “School boards should ban all books. They’re just too dangerous.”

… Books follow you home and pry open your head and rearrange the things inside. They make you feel things, sometimes, hope and grief and shame and confusion; they tell you that you’re not alone, or that you are, that you shouldn’t feel ashamed, or that you should; replace your answers with questions or questions with answers. This feels dangerous to do, a strange operation to perform on yourself, especially late at night when everyone else in the house is sleeping….

(18) ANTIQ-TOCK-QUITY. “Surveillance, Companionship, and Entertainment: The Ancient History of Intelligent Machines” at The MIT Press Reader.

Robots have histories that extend far back into the past. Artificial servants, autonomous killing machines, surveillance systems, and sex robots all find expression from the human imagination in works and contexts beyond Ovid (43 BCE to 17 CE) and the story of Pygmalion in cultures across Eurasia and North Africa. This long history of our human-machine relationships also reminds us that our aspirations, fears, and fantasies about emergent technologies are not new, even as the circumstances in which they appear differ widely. Situating these objects, and the desires that create them, within deeper and broader contexts of time and space reveals continuities and divergences that, in turn, provide opportunities to critique and question contemporary ideas and desires about robots and artificial intelligence (AI)….

(19) STAR WARS NEWS. Disney dropped the trailer for their Boba Fett series today: “The Book of Boba Fett”.

“The Book of Boba Fett,” a thrilling Star Wars adventure teased in a surprise end-credit sequence following the Season 2 finale of “The Mandalorian,” finds legendary bounty hunter Boba Fett and mercenary Fennec Shand navigating the galaxy’s underworld when they return to the sands of Tatooine to stake their claim on the territory once ruled by Jabba the Hutt and his crime syndicate.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/28/21 Benny And The Gesserits

(1) WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS. Exciting opportunity for those communicating about space to be recognized by the European Space Agency, with categories for video, artwork, storytelling, public speaking, and education. How many fans do we know who fall into these categories! “‘ESA Champions’ award initiative launched”. Check out the link for more info, and use #ESAchampion when sharing eligible projects on social media. Full details at the link.

Whether you are hosting a YouTube channel about space or volunteering to speak at your local school, we want to recognise and reward your passion and advocacy for space.

Our new ESA Champions initiative will honour outstanding contributions to communicating about space in Europe with unique awards and give you the chance to become part of an exclusive network of space enthusiasts, as well as win some awesome prizes.

We’ll be monitoring social media over the next few months for creative representations of your passion for space in Europe, in particular on TwitterInstagramFacebookYouTubeLinkedIn and Pinterest.

If you’re an artist who paints or draws space-themed pieces, a writer who publishes short stories about space or a vlogger who posts videos, now is your chance to be recognised….

(2) DOCTOR WHO ACTORS IN THE SPOTLIGHT. Mandip Gil tells Radio Times what it feels like to be a companion on the way out.“Russell T Davies’ Doctor Who return is a ‘relief’ says star”.

…“When I started, I didn’t realise how significant it was taking over from other people, but now it’s happening to me,” she tells RT. “You’re not part of it, in that you don’t know what’s happening. Who are the companions? What are they going to do?

“I’m going to watch it, be nosey and think, ‘How’s it different to ours?’”…

But Jodie Whittaker confessed to Radio Times she was tempted not to go after all: “Jodie Whittaker considered going back on her Doctor Who exit plan”.

Speaking exclusively to Radio Times magazine, Whittaker said: “Chris [Chibnall] and I always said we were going to do three series together, but then when you get to it, it’s a very different thing.

“Sometimes it was like… ‘Are we sticking to this decision?’ There’s part of me that could absolutely say, ‘No, let’s keep going! Let’s go back on it!’ But to give the fans the level that they deserve, there has to be some sacrifice. You have to know when you’ve done it.”

Meanwhile their final season is about to air. Radio Times fished for possible surprises: “Doctor Who Thasmin in series 13 – do the Doctor and Yaz get together?”

…However, Gill also cautioned that fans don’t buy a hat for Yaz and the Doctor’s wedding just yet, noting that the duo’s closeness doesn’t necessarily mean they’d become involved romantically.

“At the same time, it could also head down the route of like it being platonic, because two people are allowed to travel together and not have that relationship,” she said.

“People have asked about it, people have wanted it. Me and Jodes have a lovely relationship as people, as actors, and our characters have a really, really nice relationship. And I think it’s been written very naturally.”…

(3) JMS FAQ. J. Michael Straczynski told Facebook readers today:

I’m getting a lot of nearly identical questions on various forums — here, Twitter, elsewhere — so to avoid redundancy, or repeating myself, or saying the same thing more than once in a way that doesn’t exactly sound like a repetition but serves the same purpose, I’ve created a Frequently Asked Questions file to address the issue.

Here’s the link: “JMS POSTING FAQ” from J. Michael Straczynski on Patreon. A few examples:

17) WHAT IS THE NEW BABYLON 5 PILOT/STORY ABOUT? WHAT CHARACTERS ARE IN IT? WHERE IS IT SET? All of that is classified, I can’t publicly discuss any of it. So there’s no point in asking anything about the story for the new pilot, because I can’t tell you.  But patrons here will be the first to get the details as they emerge, long before it reaches the rest of the world.

18) WHY DID YOU HAVE GWEN STACY AND NORMAN OSBORN HAVE KIDS? They were going to be Peter’s kids but Marvel thought Norman was a swell idea and would avoid making Peter seem old. I didn’t know any better. I was an idiot. Here, rub some salt in my wounds….

19) CAN I SUGGEST ACTORS FOR THE NEW SHOW? Technically yes (provided those suggestions don’t come with character names), but really, if you don’t know for sure who the characters are going to be, how can you suggest a suitable actor? Riddle me that, Batman!

(4) NEVER THE TWAIN SHALL MEET. Michael Dirda anoints Ambrose Bierce as “One of America’s Best” in The New York Review of Books.

Ambrose Bierce (1842–1913) is arguably the finest not-quite-first-rate writer in nineteenth-century American literature. Civil War veteran, contrarian journalist, master of the short story, muckraker, epigrammatist, and versifier, he is today most widely known for that word hoard of cynical definitions, The Devil’s Dictionary, and for a handful of shockingly cruel stories about the Civil War.

In those dozen or so “tales of soldiers,” gathered in the collection eventually titled In the Midst of Life (1892, augmented in 1898 and 1909), a brother shoots his brother, a sniper is compelled to kill his father, and a cannoneer obeys the order to destroy his own house, where his wife and child await his return from battle. The best known of these contes cruels, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” has been called—by Kurt Vonnegut, himself a kinder, gentler Bierce—the greatest short story in American literature. Surely, no first-time reader ever forgets the shock of its final sentences….

(5) SANDCASTLES IN THE AIR. John Scalzi registers his take on the epic film: “Dune: A Review” at Whatever.

…To bring Villeneuve himself back into it, it’s fair to say that he is a very fine match for the material. To begin, Villeneuve’s visual aesthetic, and its tendency to frame people as tiny elements in a much larger composition, is right at home with the Dune source material, in which legions of Fremen and Sardaukar and Harkonnens stab at each other, and 400-meter sandworms tunnel through the dunes of Arrakis. To continue, anyone who has seen Villeneuve’s filmography is well aware he is a very very very serious dude; there’s not a rom-com anywhere in his history. Dune’s single attempt at a joke is done and over in the first 20 minutes the film, almost before it even registers. One can argue whether or not Frank Herbert’s prose and story styling in Dune is exhaustingly and pretentiously serious or not, but it is what it is. Given what it is, it needs a director whose own style matches. That’s Villeneuve. I don’t care to see Villeneuve’s take on, say, Galaxy Quest. But Dune? Yup, that’s a match….

(6) 100% ACCURATE PREDICTION. Here’s Ursula Vernon’s reaction. Thread starts here. A few highlights:

HORROR THIS YEAR. Raquel S. Benedict, David Jesudason and Rich Johnson appeared on Connecticut NPR’s The Colin McEnroe Show where the host led a discussion about why horror, as a genre, is particularly resistant to Disneyfication and other topics covered were the current renaissance in Black horror cinema and An American Werewolf in London“Not Necessarily The Nose: The year in horror, 2021”.

This year: Could it be that the one genre with a certain amount of immunity from the Disneyfication, the cinematic universeification of everything… is horror?

And: There’s an ongoing renaissance in Black horror dating back to Jordan Peele’s Get Out in 2017. This year’s best example is probably Nia DaCosta’s Candyman reboot/remake/sequel (co-written by DaCosta and Peele). But horror’s creeping (you see what I did there) reckoning with racism is having its share of ups and downs, too.

And finally: We have a largely arbitrary tradition of spending a chunk of this show on a horror classic that’s celebrating, specifically, its 40th anniversary. Previously, it’s been HalloweenAlienThe Shining. This year: An American Werewolf in London.

(8) AND AT THE NEXT TABLE. CrimeReads’ Molly Odintz convenes a symposium with horror writers, including Alma Katsu, Stephen Graham Jones, and Grady Hendrix. “Horror Fiction In The Age of Covid: A Roundtable Discussion”.

I came to horror the same way I came to Rihanna—later than most, but with the commensurate fiery passion of a true convert. Crime and horror have, after all, been slowly converging for many years, as domestic suspense transformed into the New Gothic, and psychological thrillers took over from procedurals as the dominant trend in the genre. And yet, despite my newfound fandom, I’m about as poorly informed a horror reader as one could be (I’ve only read one Stephen King novel and it was Mr Mercedes). So I invited a whole bunch of authors with horror novels out in 2021 to join me for a roundtable discussion on the genre and its appeal to crime fans, and in which I could stealthily attempt to figure what exactly horror is—and why we’re all enjoying it so much during the pandemic.

(9) COME AND GET MY COPPER. Atlas Obscura tells how the genre got its name, and contends they had a beneficial side-effect: “How Gruesome Penny Dreadfuls Got Victorian Children Reading”.

…As one might expect, no audience was drawn into the world of penny dreadfuls more than children and teenagers. In fact, they specifically targeted young readers. Many of the stories feature young characters, such as the schoolboy Jack Harkaway, who would become as beloved to Victorian readers as Harry Potter is today, according to the British LibraryBoys of England, a periodical marketed to young boys, first introduced the character in the 1871 penny dreadful “Jack Harkaway’s Schooldays,” which details the protagonist running away from school, boarding a ship, and embarking on a life of adventure and travel. Jack even had to battle a 15-foot python when one of his many pranks went awry.

The popularity of penny dreadfuls had another side: They helped to promote literacy, especially among younger readers, at a time when, for many children, formal education was nonexistent or, well, Dickensian. The proliferation of such cheap reading material created “an incentive to require literacy,” says professor Jonathan Rose, author of The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes. People were invested in the stories of Jack Harkaway and Sweeney Todd, and there was only one good way to keep up—learn to read.

While some historians credit compulsory education for the increased literacy of the age, “The fact is that most of the increase in literacy happened before you got universal free education,” says Rose. In England, education wasn’t required for all children until 1880, decades into the heyday of penny dreadfuls….

(10) DE PATIE OBIT. Animation producer David DePatie died September 23 at the age of 91 reports Deadline.

…Born in Los Angeles, DePatie, according to Animation magazine, was a self-described “Warner Brat” whose father Edmond DePatie was a longtime WB exec who eventually become vice president and general manager of the studio under Jack Warner. The younger DePatie began working for the studio in 1961 as a Warner Bros. Cartoon production executive.

[NY Times noted, “David started his Hollywood career as a sound and film editor at Warner Bros. He worked on several films for the studio, including “Them!” (1954)…]

According to the magazine, DePatie “oversaw the end days of this iteration of WB animation, ushering the final Bugs Bunny, Foghorn Leghorn and Tweety Bird theatrical cartoons to screens.” He would also produce TV’s The Bugs Bunny ShowThe Adventures of the Road Runner and other projects including animated commercials.

In 1963, DePatie and Freleng formed their own company, soon landing a contract that would make their names: the comedy feature film The Pink Panther starring Sellers as the bumbling Inspector Jacques Clouseau. The animated opening-credit sequence featuring the panther quickly led to a United Artists commission for a separate cartoon short, which became the Oscar-winning The Pink Phink, launching the durable franchise of theatrical shorts and TV series.

For decades the DePatie-Freleng logo was a familiar sight to any kid watching Saturday morning cartoons or such primetime series as 1969’s My World and Welcome to It and the Seuss specials…. 

(11) MEMORY LANE.

1994 – On this day in 1994, Stargate premiered. It’d be a runner-up at Intersection to Star Trek: The Next Generation’s  “All Good Things…” which won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. It was directed by Roland Emmerich and produced by Dean Devlin, Oliver Eberle and Joel B. Michaels. It was written by Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin.  Principal cast was Kurt Russell, James Spader, Jaye Davidson and Viveca Lindfors.

It was a box office success earning over two hundred million on a budget of fifty-five million despite some critics not at all being fond of it. Ebert put it on his list of most hated films of all time, but others thought it was an “instant camp classic”. Currently it holds a most excellent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes of seventy-three percent. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 28, 1902 Elsa Lanchester. The Bride in 1935’s The Bride of Frankenstein with Boris Karloff. In 1928 she appeared in three silent shorts written for her by H. G. Wells: Blue Bottles, Daydreams and The Tonic. Now she actually had a longer career than that as she’ll have roles in Mary Poppins, Blackbeard’s Ghost, Willard, Alfred Hitchcock HourAlice in WonderlandThe Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Night Gallery. (Died 1986.)
  • Born October 28, 1951 Joe Lansdale, 70. Writer and screenwriter whose DCU Jonah Hex animated screenplays are far superior to the live action Hex film. Bubba Ho-Tep, a American comedy horror film starring Bruce Campbell, is his best known genre work though he has done a number of another works including The God of The Razor and  Reverend Jedidiah Mercer series which are definitely Weird Westerns. 
  • Born October 28, 1952 Annie Potts, 69. The original Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II of course but also appeared in HerculesThe Twilight Zone and Amazing Stories series , and The Man Who Fell To Earth film. She has a cameo as Vanessa the hotel clerk in the new Ghostbusters film. 
  • Born October 28, 1957 Catherine Fisher, 64. Welsh poet and children’s novelist who writes in English. I’d suggest The Book of The Crow series of which the most recent, Corbenic, won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. Her Incarceron series earned two more Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature nominations as well. 
  • Born October 28, 1958 Amy Thomson, 63. Writer of four novels over a decade twenty years ago, including Virtual Girl. She won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. She published one piece of short fiction, “The Ransom of Princess Starshine”, in 2017 in Stupefying Stories which is edited by Bruce Bethke.
  • Born October 28, 1962 Daphne Zuniga, 59. Her very first role was as Debbie in The Dorm That Dripped Blood, labeled a Video Nasty in the UK.  You know her much better as Princess Vespa in Spaceballs, and she also in The Fly II being Beth Logan. Series work include Nightmare ClassicsBatman BeyondHappily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child, Twilight ZoneThe Outer Limits and, no surprise here, Spaceballs: The Animated Series where she voicedPrincess Vespa again. 
  • Born October 28, 1967 Julia Roberts, 54. How can I resist giving Birthday Honors to Tinker Bell in Hook? Not to mention she was in the seriously weird  Flatliners that I saw at a virtually empty theater. Of course, there’s the ever weirder Mary Reilly with her in the title role. For something more charming, she voiced Charlotte the Spider in Charlotte‘s Web. I’m going to skip her as a Smurf I think for the sake of you not imagining her as such…
  • Born October 28, 1972 Matt Smith, 49. He’s the current and longest-serving editor of long-running 2000 AD, and also the longest-running editor of its sister title Judge Dredd Magazine. He’s written three Judge Dredd novels plus a number of other genre novels based off the properties he edits. Along with Alan Ewing and Michael Carroll, he’s written the Judge Dredd audiobook, a take on the newly deputized Dredd.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) ABOUT BERNIE WRIGHTSON. Michael Gonzales tells CrimeReads where he first encountered the artist: “Scary Monsters and Spooky Freaks: Bernie Wrightson Unleashed”.

…While comic book shopping in 1972, I spotted The House of Mystery #204. The cover featured a disgusting multi-eyed green blob creeping across the floor in pursuit of a screaming femme. In the lower right hand corner the illustrator’s signature was a simple “bw” that I later learned belonged Bernie Wrightson, the artist who’d soon become my comic book hero as well as a later inspiration for my writing. Wrightson’s cover became my gateway into the world of 1970s horror comics.

Five years later I had the pleasure of seeing the original pen and ink drawing in its entire poetic, grotesque splendor hanging on the wall of the New York Comic Art Gallery. I stared at that image with the same intensity I’d give the the Mona Lisa three decades later. It was scary, yet moving and damn near alive. Wrightson imagined things and made the horror real. However, the rules of the then-active Comics Code stated, “No comic magazine shall use the word horror or terror in its title,” so the books were referred to as mysteries or suspense….

(15) IF CTHULHU CALLS, HANG UP! James Davis Nicoll didn’t, but in compensation he got a Tor.com article idea: “Eldritch Abominations for the SFF Soul: Five Works of Cosmic Horror”.

Happy birthday, Call of Cthulhu! Forty years ago on Halloween 1981, the roleplaying world met and grew to love the Lovecraft-inspired game in which characters boldly confront the unknown before being consumed by it! If there’s one thing humans seem to desire, it’s to have their skulls cracked open like walnuts and their minds consumed by entities whose true nature would drive the sanest person mad, were they unlucky enough to understand what had them gripped in its tentacles.

Of course, Lovecraft wasn’t the first author to dabble in cosmic horror nor has he been the last. In honor of Halloween and forty years of Call of Cthulhu, allow me to suggest the following five works of cosmic horror….

(16) IN CONCLUSION. Cinefex, the visual effects magazine, has called it quits. The announcement was made earlier this year, and since then the publication has been doing a few activities to call attention to its winding down.

After 41 years of publication, we are sad to report that Cinefex 172, just off the presses, will be our final issue. We extend heartfelt thanks to our loyal readers and advertisers who sustained us through the years, and to the countless filmmakers and artists who told us their stories, shared their secrets, and trusted us to write and preserve the history of motion picture visual effects. A fond farewell to you all.

(17) MONUMENTAL RESEARCH. At Mystery File, veteran collector Walker Martin reviews Ed Hulse’s new volume, “The Art of Pulp Fiction”.

…Many collectors contributed to this book by lending paperbacks to Ed. Also he visited several art collectors. His visit to my house can serve as an example of his methods in borrowing so many books. One afternoon several months ago, he visited me and we went through the rooms discussing and looking at my paperback collection. We started on the second floor in the room that my wife and kids call “The Paperback Room”. The entire room is devoted to detective and mystery paperbacks including what may be a complete set of the hundreds of Dell mapbacks. Also in the room is some original cover art and several paperback racks which took me decades to find. These wooden racks were made to hold paperbacks for sale and were usually destroyed or lost over the years.

 We then went to my basement where we looked and talked about my science fiction, western, and mainstream paperbacks. Ed ended up borrowing two boxes full of paperbacks, perhaps 75 to 100, of which close to 50 may have been used in the book. By the way, I noticed one paperback lacked the 50 words of comment. If there is a reprint or revised edition in the future. page 116 needs comments for Poul Anderson’s Brain Wave….

(18) NEVER SAY NEVER. “’Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ director Jason Reitman used his ‘complicated’ relationship with his father to take on the franchise he’s avoided his whole life”MSN’s Jason Guerrasio profiles the younger Reitman.

… Reitman’s change of heart began with the idea of a girl in a cornfield, wearing a proton pack.

“A decade ago, I had this vision of a girl shooting a proton pack in a cornfield and suddenly popcorn flying up and her catching and eating it,” Reitman said with a far off look in his eye as he sipped on his morning coffee inside his home office. The sun shined in from his backyard window beside his desk.

“It was just one of those images where I was like, ‘Well, I don’t know what to do with that,'” he continued.

Reitman is the first to admit that he usually doesn’t embrace these types of ideas. His movies, up to this point, have been grounded in reality. He’s preferred the independently-financed dramas that explore the human condition and usually feature women going through challenging times in their lives like a teenaged pregnancy (“Juno”) or a mid-life crisis (“Tully”).

He’s always had the same answer when asked if he’ll ever make a “Ghostbusters” movie: “No.”…

(19) AND IF YOU WANT TO PLAY ALONG AT HOME. Gizmodo reports “Hasbro’s fan-funded Haslab is offering the chance to purchase a full-scale model of the iconic prop” – “Ghostbusters Proton Pack”.

…Furthermore, the prop even has “a metal V-hook bracket that connects to the metal V-hook bracket on the bottom of the Neutrona Wand,” the Neutrona Wand being another Hasbro Pulse item you can preorder here for $125. If you’re not up on your Ghostbusters equipment lingo, the Neutrona Wand… well, it’s the gun that connects to the proton pack, so if you really want to get your cosplay on, you’re looking at dropping $525 for the pair. That is, assuming the Proton Pack project gets fully funded, but I wouldn’t be too worried about that. More than half of the 7,000 backers needed have signed up since the project launched yesterday, and there are still 45 days to go… 

(20) OCTOTHORPE. Time for the 43rd of Octothorpe. Listen here! “Clip That Out, John”.

John Coxon is critically bereft, Alison Scott made a mistake, and Liz Batty is carving papayas. We discuss Hallowe’en and then we move onto discussing problematic Guests of Honour in the context of convention bidding, before wrapping up with quick picks.

(21) TWO CHAIRS TALKING. Perry Middlemiss and David Grigg “celebrate St. Crispin’s Day by discussing recent awards, what they’ve been reading, both non-fiction and fiction, and summarizing their thoughts about this year’s Hugo Award nominees” in episode 64 of Two Chairs Talking: “And gentlemen in England now-a-bed”.

(22) SWEDEN’S SOLAR SYSTEM MODEL. [Item by Ingvar.] In the intermittent “Ingvar investigates planets”, I found the Jupiter model. It is pretty big, and publicly accessible without having to do anything, except walk.

(23) TOO MUCH INFORMATION. In Atascadero, CA “It’s No. 1 For Chills”.

At this haunted house, the ghosts and ghouls sometimes elicit more than screams.

The Haunt in Atascadero keeps extra pants on hand for visitors so frightened that they lose control of their bodily functions.

Two people have requested the pants, said Sandi Andersen-Tarica, the Haunt’s production manager.

And the staff keeps a list of those who wet themselves — at least 31 “confessed pee-ers” in the last two years.

“Some people, when they know what’s happening, they like to sign it as sort of a badge of honor,” Andersen-Tarica said. “And we do have it on a sign that we will provide emergency pants upon request.”

Nestled among coffee shops and restaurants in downtown Atascadero, the Haunt draws about 4,000 visitors each year….

(24) IF YOU THINK YOU’VE FOUND E.T. “Call for a framework for reporting evidence for life beyond Earth”Nature has the details.

Our generation could realistically be the one to discover evidence of life beyond Earth. With this privileged potential comes responsibility. The magnitude of the question of whether we are alone in the Universe, and the public interest therein, opens the possibility that results may be taken to imply more than the observations support, or than the observers intend. As life-detection objectives become increasingly prominent in space sciences, it is essential to open a community dialogue about how to convey information in a subject matter that is diverse, complicated and has a high potential to be sensationalized. Establishing best practices for communicating about life detection can serve to set reasonable expectations on the early stages of a hugely challenging endeavour, attach value to incremental steps along the path, and build public trust by making clear that false starts and dead ends are an expected and potentially productive part of the scientific process….

 [Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Dr. Emma J. King, Sandra Miesel, Raquel S. Benedict, Lise Andreasen, Ingvar, Daniel Dern, James Davis Nicoll, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, StephenfromOttwa, Carl Coling, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern, a combiner of Elton John and Dune motifs, who admits Benny And The Gesserits also was a Portland, Oregon band, with at least one song from 2015, “I Guess That’s Why They Call This Place Dune”.]

Pixel Scroll 10/21/21 You Go To War With The Pixel You Have, Not The Scroll You Wish You Had

(1) BUJOLD ANNOUNCES NEXT PENRIC NOVELLA. Lois McMaster Bujold showed off the cover of the next Penric & Desdemona tale, Knot of Shadows.

Knot of Shadows

When a corpse is found floating face-down in Vilnoc harbor that is not quite as dead as it seems, Temple sorcerer Penric and his chaos demon Desdemona are drawn into the uncanny investigation. Pen’s keen questions will take him across the city of Vilnoc, and into far more profound mysteries, as his search for truths interlaces with tragedy.

(2) A FUTURE FOR CON OR BUST? Kate Nepveu is looking for volunteers to help revive Con or Bust, or the foundation will be dissolved. “Do you want to revive Con or Bust?”

… From 2009 through 2019, I ran Con or Bust, which helped people of color/non-white people/BIPoC attend SFF conventions. Since 2019, it’s been dormant; but it remains a tax-exempt not-for-profit corporation with various assets. I’ve decided that it’s time either to actively hand it over to someone willing to revive it, or to formally wind it down….

Con or Bust raised funds through a yearly online auction and distributed those funds to literally hundreds of BIPoC fans to help them attend SFF conventions. More detail on Con or Bust’s history is available at the Wayback Machine.

…If I don’t hear from any plausible candidates for new leadership, I will distribute Con or Bust’s current funds to other charities with aligned purposes and formally dissolve it as a corporation. I will make a full report on those steps here.

Please feel free to leave questions in the comments here; you can comment without logging in, but I do ask that you sign your “anonymous” comment with a name or a pseudonym for continuity of conversation.

Finally, please distribute this link far and wide!

(3) SEMIPROZINE FOCUS. Cora Buhlert is expanding her Fanzine/Fancast Spotlight project to include semiprozines, particularly the smaller ones that get very little attention.

 Here’s an introductory post to the series: “Introducing Semiprozine Spotlights”.

… Even though that definition is very specific, there are actually a lot of magazines which meet it. The semiprozine directory has a lengthy list of Hugo eligible semiprozines and there are several I know of that are not yet listed.

Semiprozines range from the very well known to the obscure, so I thought it was time to shine a light on the many great semiprozines that are out there and decided to interview the editors and staff of various semiprozines. I hope this series will be of interest not just to potential Hugo nominators, but to everybody who is looking for great SFF short fiction….

And here’s the first spotlight: “Semiprozine Spotlight: Space Cowboy Books Presents Simultaneous Times”.

Tell us about your magazine.

Space Cowboy Books Presents: Simultaneous Times is a monthly science fiction podcast, released on the 15th of each month. We create audio adaptations of stories by contemporary science fiction authors from all over the world, set to original soundtracks created by our team of composers. When possible we do cast readings of the stories, and we have featured works by authors such as: David Brin, Rudy Rucker, Michael Butterworth, and tons of other wonderful contemporary writers. …

(4) KEEP FIT WITH FRODO. Apparently you can simply walk there – in your imagination. “This Lord Of The Rings App Allows You to ‘Walk to Mordor’”Nerdist has the story, and a link to the TikTok video mentioned in the excerpt.

Ever wonder just how far Frodo and Sam walked in The Lord of the Rings trilogy? Thanks to one Middle-earth fan on TikTok by the name of DonMarshall72, we know. They estimate that from the Shire to the fires of Mount Doom spans an enormous 2,765.6 kilometers. Or, about 1,718.5 miles. And Frodo and Sam both walked barefoot. So if these halflings could do it, what is your excuse not to? Why not get motivated to walk like a Hobbit, so to speak?

Well, as with most things these days, there’s an app for that. And it’s named, appropriately enough, “Walk to Mordor.” The existence of this app comes to us via a story on CNET. The author used the Hobbits’ journey in the films to motivate herself to get back up on that treadmill and start exercising again. The Walk to Mordor app actually outdoes the journey in the films. It accounts for the longer distance recorded in Tolkien’s book….

(5) EH, NO. On Stephen Colbert Presents Tooning Out the News, Mark Hamill’s answer is that if he was hypothetically offered a trip on Jeff Bezos’ rocket: “That’d be a hard sell for me”.

Virtue Signal’s Kylie Weaver asks Star Wars icon Mark Hamill if, like Star Trek’s William Shatner, he’d accept an invitation for Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin rocket.

(6) MAKING IT SO. Assisted by a horror novelist, Raquel S. Benedict  on the Rite Gud podcast explores “How Books Happen, With Gretchen Felker-Martin”.

In this episode, horror author Gretchen Felker-Martin joins us to talk about her gritty post-Apocalyptic trans novel Manhunt (spoiler free) and how an idea becomes a traditionally published book. We talk about the myth of overnight success, how much money novelists actually make (it is not much), the writing process, agents, research, and dealing with controversy.

(7) HEAR FROM FANTASY AUTHORS.  Orbit Live is hosting two more author Q&As in the coming weeks.

Join Lucy Holland and Alix E. Harrow for a conversation about their books, myths and ancient stories, and rewriting the role of women in history. Plus, they’ll be answering your questions!

Lucy Holland [she/her] is the author of Sistersong, out in October from Redhook. As Lucy Hounsom, she is also the author of the Worldmaker series.

Alix E. Harrow [she/her] is the author of The Ten Thousand Doors of January and The Once and Future Witches, out now in trade paperback from Redhook.

Join fantasy authors Andrea Stewart and Evan Winter for a conversation about their books, magical creatures both forbidding and friendly, and writing middle books in series. Plus, they’ll be answering your questions!

Andrea Stewart [she/her] is the author of The Bone Shard Daughter (one of Amazon’s Best Books of 2020) and its sequel, The Bone Shard Emperor, out from Orbit in November.

Evan Winter [he/him] is the author of The Rage of Dragons and its sequel The Fires of Vengeance, both out now from Orbit.

(8) LOCAL COLOR. I’m shocked to discover I’ve only been to half the places on KCET’s list of “10 L.A. Landmarks Made Even More Famous by Hollywood Horror Flicks”. Amd jere’s a connection that knocks me out —

2. Franklin Canyon Lake, Franklin Canyon Park — from “Creature from the Black Lagoon”

Another famous “horror lake” can be found near the so-called “Center of Los Angeles” — at Franklin Canyon Park, whose circa 1914 reservoir has most famously served as Mayberry’s fishin’ pond in “The Andy Griffith Show” and the lagoon where “Gill Man” lived in Universal’s “Creature from the Black Lagoon” (1954)….

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1977 – Forty-four years ago this day,  Damnation Alley premiered. It was directed by Jack Smight from the screenplay by Alan Sharp and Lukas Heller which was based somewhat on the Roger Zelazny novella that was nominated for a Hugo at Baycon. (“Riders of the Purple Wage” by Philip José Farmer and “Weyr Search” by Anne McCaffrey  tied for the Hugo for Best Novella at Baycon that year.) It starred George Peppard as Major Eugene “Sam” Denton and Jan-Michael Vincent as 1st Lt. Jake Tanner. It bombed and was pulled quickly.  Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a thirty-four rating. The network TV version that aired on NBC television in 1983 featured alternate footage and additional scenes that were deleted from the earlier version. It was very much a ratings success. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 21, 1904 Edmond Hamilton. One of the prolific writers for Weird Tales from the late Twenties to the late Forties writing nearly eighty stories. (Lovecraft and Howard were the other key writers.) Sources say during that same period Hamilton wrote for all of the SF pulp magazines then publishing.  His story “The Island of Unreason” (Wonder Stories, May 1933) won the first Jules Verne Prize as the best SF story of the year. This was the very first SF prize awarded by the votes of fans, which one source holds to be a precursor of the Hugo Awards. From the early Forties to the late Sixties, he work for DC, in stories about Superman and Batman. He created the Space Ranger character with Gardner Fox and Bob Brown. On December 31, 1946, Hamilton married fellow SF author and screenwriter Leigh Brackett. He’s been nominated for three Retro Hugos — for his Red Sun of Danger novel at L.A. Con III, his “Exile” short story at Anticipation, and for his Captain Future series at CoNZealand. And he’s been voted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1977.)
  • Born October 21, 1914 Martin Gardner. He was one of leading authorities on Lewis Carroll. The Annotated Alice, which incorporated the text of Carroll’s two Alice books is still a bestseller. He was considered the doyen (your word to learn today) of American puzzlers. And, to make him even more impressive, in 1999 Magic magazine named Gardner one of the “100 Most Influential Magicians of the Twentieth Century”.  Cool! (Died 2010.)
  • Born October 21, 1929 Ursula K. Le Guin. Writer, Artist, Editor, Poet, and Translator. She called herself a “Narrative American”. And she most emphatically did not consider herself to be a genre writer – instead preferring to be known as an “American novelist”. Oh, she wrote genre fiction with quite some brillance, be it the Earthsea sequence, The Left Hand of DarknessThe Dispossessed, or Always Coming Home. Her upbringing as the daughter of two academics, one who was an anthropologist and the other who had a graduate degree in psychology, with a home library full of SF, showed in her writing. She wrote reviews and forewards for others’ books, gave academic talks, and did translations as well. Without counting reader’s choice awards, her works received more than 100 nominations for pretty much every genre award in existence, winning most of them at least once; she is one of a very small group of people who have won both Hugo and Nebula Awards in all four fiction length categories. She was Guest of Honor at several conventions, including the 1975 Worldcon; was the second of only six women to be named SFWA Grand Master thus far; was given a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement; and was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In later years, she took up internet blogging with great delight, writing essays and poems, and posting pictures and stories of her cat Pard; these were compiled into a non-fiction collection, No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, which won a posthumous Hugo for Best Related Work. Her last Hugo was at Dublin 2019 for The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition which was illustrated by Charles Vess. (Died 2018.)
  • Born October 21, 1933 Georgia Brown. She’s  the actress who portrayed Helena Rozhenko, foster mother of Worf, in the Next Gen’s “Family” and “New Ground” episodes. She was Frau Freud in The Seven-Percent Solution, a most delicious film indeed, and was Rachel in “The Musgrave Ritual” episode of the Nigel Stock fronted Sherlock Holmes series. (Died 1992.)
  • Born October 21, 1945 Everett McGill, 76. Stilgar in the first Dune film. Earlier in his career, he was a Noah in Quest for Fire. Later on, he’s Ed Killifer in License to Kill, and on Twin Peaks, he’s Big Ed Hurley. He was also Rev. Lowe in Stephen King’s Silver Bullet, a werewolf flick that actually remarkably has a decent rating of fifty-five percent  at Rotten Tomatoes!
  • Born October 21, 1956 Carrie Fisher. In addition to the original Star Wars trilogy, Star Wars Holiday SpecialThe Force AwakensStar Wars: The Last Jedi and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, she was in Amazon Women on the MoonThe Time Guardian, Hook, Scream 3, and A Midsummer Night’s Rave. And yes, she appeared in The Rise of Skywalker through the use of unreleased footage from The Force Awakens. (Died 2016.)
  • Born October 21, 1971 Hal Duncan, 50. Computer Programmer and Writer from Scotland whose first novel, Vellum: The Book of All Hours, won a Spectrum Award and received nominations for World Fantasy, British Fantasy, Kurd Laßwitz, Prix Imaginaire, and Locus Best First Novel Awards, as well as winning a Tahtivaeltaja Award for best science fiction novel published in Finnish. His collection Scruffians! and his non-fiction work Rhapsody: Notes on Strange Fictions were also both finalists for British Fantasy Awards. An outspoken advocate and blogger for LGBTQ rights, he was a contributor to Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project.
  • Born October 21, 1973 Sasha Roiz, 48. I know him only as Captain Sean Renard on the excellent Grimm series but he’s also been Sam Adama on Caprica as well, a series I still haven’t seen. And he’s also been on Warehouse 13 in the recurring role of Marcus Diamond though I admit that I don’t remember him in that role. He even showed up once on Lucifer as U.S. Marshal Luke Reynolds.
  • Born October 21, 1974 Chris Garcia, 47. He’s editor of The Drink Tank and several other fanzines. He won a Hugo Award at Renovation with co-editor James Bacon for The Drink Tank after being nominated from 2010 to 2013. He was nominated for the Best Fan Writer Hugo three years straight starting in 2010. His acceptance speech for the Hugo at Renovation was itself nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form Hugo at Chicon 7. I can’t begin to list all his feats and honors here. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Garfield watches a frustrated genre game show contestant.

(12) WHITTAKER’S VALEDICTORY. “Doctor Who’s Jodie Whittaker on the next Doctor and leaving the show” at Radio Times.

,,,Speaking to press including RadioTimes.com, Whittaker addressed her impending exit from the BBC sci-fi series and what she thinks her replacement will be in for.

On how it feels to leave the role of the Doctor behind, she said: “We’ve been very present in it – but you have to honour the show, and honour everything. Me and Chris [Chibnall, showrunner]… There was this thing of like, ‘We want to do three seasons.’ But no one holds you to that. So there was always a conversation [about how long to stay]. It was always fluid.

“But when you commit to that decision… you know, I can’t imagine it being written— like, this Doctor is Chris’s Doctor. For me, it’s right [to leave now], but if everyone comes up to you forever, going, ‘I’m a Doctor Who fan’ – then that’s an absolute joy because it’s been such a pleasure.”

Whittaker added, though, that she’ll nonetheless be “filled with a lot of grief” having left the series. “Even thinking about it, it makes me upset,” she said. “But this show needs new energy. The Doctor – the joy of this part is, you hand on your boots. And I don’t know who, but whoever that is, what a thing to be able to go, ‘You’re going to have a right time!’.”

(13) GET ME OUT OF HERE. Doctor Who showrunner “Chris Chibnall says it took ‘longer than expected’ to leave Doctor Who” reports Radio Times.

…Chibnall will exit alongside the Thirteenth Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, and while we wait to find out who will be cast as the next Time Lord, Chibnall has been chatting to press, including RadioTimes.com, ahead of series 13. As you’d expect, the subject of his departure came up and it turns out that he stuck around for longer than he thought he would.

“It’s taken longer than expected if we’re being honest. I’ve been throwing batons at people for about a year now. And finally, someone’s picked it up,” Chibnall said on the search for his replacement.

“We had that conversation right at the start, and I hope you can see that the atmosphere is so team-oriented and so positive, it is a proper family atmosphere. This cast and this crew are so close – you wouldn’t want to do it with other people, because it’s just been its own little, discrete show. And then the next version will be its own discrete show, just as Peter [Capaldi]’s era was, and Matt [Smith]’s era was, and David [Tennant]’s was.”

While the Cloister Bell may be sounding on his time in charge, Chibnall insists he has nothing but fond memories of his time on Doctor Who.

“You couldn’t enjoy it any more than we’ve enjoyed it. It’s been such a laugh and such a privilege,” he said. “And I think we’ve been deliberately very mindful of being in the moment. Obviously, I’ve known Russell and Steven [Moffat] for a long time and part of their advice was just: ‘Enjoy it while you’re doing it, because afterwards you really miss it.’”…

(14) THE FALLING OFF THE CLIFF NOTES. With pandemic restrictions easing, book clubs are meeting in-person again. How can people bluff their way through now? To the rescue – “Stephen Colbert’s Book Club For People Who Want To Sound Like They Read The Book”.

(15) ANOTHER DYNAMIC DUO. In Something More Than Night, Kim Newman, author of Anno Dracula, reimagines the lives of Raymond Chandler and Boris Karloff as collaborators in this a horrifying tale.

Hollywood, the late 1930s. Raymond Chandler writes detective stories for pulp magazines, and drinks more than he should. Boris Karloff plays monsters in the movies. Together, they investigate mysterious matters in a town run by human and inhuman monsters.
 
Josh Devlin, an investigator for the DA’s office who scores high on insubordination, enlists the pair to work a case that threatens to expose Hollywood’s most horrific secrets. Together they will find out more than they should about the way this town works. And about each other. And, oh yes, monsters aren’t just for the movies.

(16) BRIDGE OVER UNTROUBLED WATERS. I landed in the hospital before I could report this bit of news — “Winnie-the-Pooh Poohsticks bridge sold for £131k to Sussex landowner”  in The Guardian.

To Winnie-the-Pooh fans, the bridge over the river on the edge of the forest where Pooh invents a new game is up there with heffalumps and pots of honey and the Hundred Acre Wood.

It is where Pooh one day accidentally drops a fir cone in the water on one side of the bridge, only to spot – to his astonishment – the cone reappearing on the other side. “And that was the beginning of the game called Poohsticks.”

Now the original bridge has been sold for £131,625, more than double the top end of the presale estimate of £40,000 to £60,000. Its new owner is Lord De La Warr, who owns the 2,000-acre Buckhurst Park estate in East Sussex, which incorporates the wood made famous in AA Milne’s children’s books.

… The original bridge was dismantled and placed in storage. It was later reconstructed and restored, and relocated to Kent after a private sale.

Now, said Rylands, Winnie-the-Pooh fans would again be able to set eyes on it, although games of Poohsticks may be ruled out in order to preserve the bridge for future generations….

(17) NO BONES ABOUT IT. A dinosaur goes under the hammer – it must have been a very big hammer. BBC News has the story: “Big John, largest known triceratops skeleton, sold at auction”.

The skeleton fetched a European record price of €6.65m ($7.74m; £5.6m).

Some 66 million years ago, Big John roamed modern-day South Dakota in the US, where the dinosaur’s bones were unearthed in 2014.

With its huge collared skull and three horns, the plant-eating triceratops was a giant of the Cretaceous period.

A private, anonymous collector from the US bought Big John’s skeleton, which was put on public display at the Drouot auction house in Paris last week.

(18) A TRACTOR BEAM – CURE FOR SPACE JUNK. This week’s Nature reports on a study that shows “Non-magnetic objects induced to move by electromagnets”.

A set of electromagnets has been used to move metal objects without touching them, even though the objects are not magnetic. This method could potentially be used like a ‘tractor beam’ to move hazardous objects in space.

Imagine trying to catch a fragment of a rocket nozzle in orbit above Earth’s atmosphere. The fragment is travelling faster than a bullet, and tumbling rapidly end over end. Around 27,000 orbiting pieces of such debris are large enough to be tracked by the US Space Surveillance Network, and they constantly threaten active spacecraft and satellites. If the debris were magnetic, then magnets could be used to safely grab hold of the objects and dispose of them — but orbital debris tends to contain little or no magnetic material….

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] The How It Should Have Ended gang takes on The Suicide Squad, with guest stars Superman, Batman, and Deadpool.  

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Karl-Johan Norén, Raquel S. Benedict, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cora Buhlert, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bonnie McDaniel.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

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

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

(10) COMICS SECTION.

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

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

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

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

The Washington Post sums up the reasons for the stike:

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

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

And John Scalzi voiced his support, too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pixel Scroll 10/7/21 Snappy Scroll Wraps For Stupid Pixels

Already a full day writing the Lou Antonelli obituary and the Luis Rondon murder conviction, so we’ll have to take it easy on the Scroll as we continue catching up with everything Filers have been sending.

(1) LET’S NOT BE PREMATURE. “Jodie Whittaker isn’t ready to let go of Doctor Who quite yet”, as she tells Radio Times.

Speaking to Shaun Keaveny for The Line-Up podcast, Whittaker said she hadn’t had time to process leaving Doctor Who yet since filming was still underway.

“Well, it’s strange because, like, announcing you’re the Doctor, it always happens at a very strange time. So you announce that you’re going to play the Doctor and it happens before, essentially, you’ve stepped foot on set.

“So that’s one big announcement and the very emotionally, kind of contradicting thing is you announce you’re leaving, but you haven’t left.

“So I am still knee deep in shooting. So to me this hasn’t finished,” she added. “You’re just in it, but I can be in it. So the good thing now is being announced that these are my last episodes that I’m shooting doesn’t mean I have to let go yet.”

(2) ESSENCE OF WONDER. “Mermaids Monthly and the Panther Anti-Racist Union on Why Representation Matters!” will be the topic of the next Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron.

We will be speaking with the kids who organized the protests against the Racist and homophobic book ban that was just overturned in Pennsylvania, and with the incoming publishing team for Mermaids Monthly (Cental York School District).

This Saturday, October 9t at 3:00 p.m. US Eastern Time. Streaming on YouTube, Facebook Live, and Twitch.

(3) MARVELOUS CUISINE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] “What Do Marvel Characters Eat? Pop-Culture Cookbooks Have Answers, and Rapt Audiences.” The article begins:

Chelsea Monroe-Cassel is currently developing a recipe for a dish whose traditional version she’ll never be able to taste, and whose place of origin she’ll never be able to visit: Plomeek soup, a staple on the fictional planet Vulcan. In writing “The Star Trek Cookbook,” out next March, she has spent hours watching old episodes and movies from her home in West Windsor, Vt., trying to deduce what might be in the reddish soup.

“We know shockingly little about Vulcan cuisine, given how much of a fan favorite Spock is,” she said. Some people believe that Vulcans are vegetarian, as their strong morals and fear of their own capacity for violence would mean they avoid food that requires slaughtering. But do those arguments hold up, she wondered, in a universe where meat can be replicated with machines?

The result: “A cold gazpacho with tomato and strawberry and a little bit of balsamic.”…

DPD notes: While this article does passingly note that books like this have been happening for a few decades, it talks about one current author, Chelsea Monroe-Cassel, working on The Star Trek Cookbook without acknowledging, say, Star Trek Cookbook by Ethan Phillips and William J. Birnes from 1999 (info which took me all of 0.73 mintues to web-suss out).

Tsk.

(4) NEW DELANY FELLOWSHIP. CatStone Books is taking applications for its inaugural Samuel R. Delany Fellowship through October 31. It will be awarded “to one author from a community that has traditionally been marginalized in speculative fiction. This can include authors of color, LGBT+ authors, female authors, authors with disabilities, and authors living an immigrant experience.”

The fellowship will award the selected author with:

  • a $10,000 stipend
  • mentorship from a member of the Advisory Board
  • additional resources as requested

in order to help the recipient set aside time to work on and complete a speculative fiction project. 

Applications for the Samuel R. Delany Fellowship begin annually May 1 and must be submitted by October 31. The recipient of the fellowship will be announced on December 15. The application process is outlined in the application packet, which can be downloaded below.

To apply, please visit catstonebooks.moksha.io and select the Delany Fellowship option.

(5) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1998 – Twenty-three years ago this evening on The WB, Charmed first aired. Created by Constance M. Burge, who had no genre background at all having been responsible for Ally McBeal, it first starred the trio of Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs and Alyssa Milano. (Rose McGowan joined in season four.)  The pilot episode, “Something Wicca This Way Comes” played rather nicely off the title of the Bradbury novel. The early seasons of Charmed got generally excellent reviews but the latter seasons are considered a mixed bag among both critics and viewers alike. The overall rating at Rotten Tomatoes currently is a stellar ninety-five percent. I was surprised that it didn’t get any Hugo nominations. And yes, I immensely enjoyed most of it.  

No, I’ve not see the recent reboot which at least one of the original cast has been very, very unhappy about. Any Filers care to comment upon it? 

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 7, 1926 Ken Krueger. Krueger co-founded and organized the first San Diego Comic-Con International convention in 1970, originally called “San Diego’s Golden State Comic-Con”. He attended the first Worldcon in 1939. I’ll leave it up to y’all to discuss his activities as a fan and as a pro as they won’t fit here! (Died 2009.)
  • Born October 7, 1938 Jane Gallion (Ellern), 83. Writer, Poet, and Fan who was one of the members of the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society subgroup The Blackguards, which hosted many parties and tournaments. She edited the fanzines Karuna, and Topaze (etc.), contributed to many other fanzines over the years, and was known for her three post-apocalyptic novels which were very early examples of feminist works involving explicit sex.
  • Born October 7, 1942 Lee Gold, 79. She’s a member of LAFA, the Los Angeles organization for filkers, and a writer and editor in the role-playing game and filk music communities. She’s published Xenofilkia, a bi-monthly compilation of filk songs since 1988, four issues of the Filker Up anthology; and has published for forty-four years, Alarums and Excursions, a monthly gaming zine. She’s edited more fanzines than I care to list here, and is a member of the Filk Hall of Fame along with Barry Gold, her husband. 
  • Born October 7, 1945 Hal Colebatch. Lawyer, Journalist, Editor, and Writer from Australia who has written, singly or in collaboration, two novels and at least two dozen shorter pieces set in Larry Niven’s The Man-Kzin Wars series. However, his main body of work is non-genre, including six books of poetry, short stories, and radio dramas and adaptations. His non-fiction books include social commentary, biography and history, and he has published many hundreds of articles and reviews in various news and critical venues. (Died 2019.)
  • Born October 7, 1950 Howard Chaykin, 71. Comic book artist and writer. His first major work was for DC Comics drawing “The Price of Pain Ease” which was an adaptation of author Fritz Leiber’s characters Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser in Sword of Sorcery #1. He would illustrate damn near everything else from Batman and The Legion of Super-Heroes for DC to Hulk and Iron-Man for Marvel (to name but a few series) but I think his best genre work was his own American Flagg! series which I’ve enjoyed more than a times. It’s available from the usual digital suspects.
  • Born October 7, 1958 Rosalyn Landor, 63. She played Guinevere in Arthur the King, and Helen Stoner in “The Speckled Band” of Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes. She was the red headed colleen Brenna Odell in the “Up the Long Ladder” episode of Next Generation which has this choice dialogue with Riker:

Will, is something wrong?

What do you mean?
Do you not like girls?
Of course I do. Oh, is there a certain technique to this foot washing?
You generally start at the top and work your way down.
I think I could get used to that.

  • Born October 7, 1959 Steven Erikson, 62. He’s definitely  most known for his Malazan Book of the Fallen series, which began with the publication of Gardens of the Moon and was completed with the publication of The Crippled God, ten novels later. Though I’ve not read it, and didn’t know it existed until now, he’s written the Willful Child trilogy, a spoof on Star Trek and other tropes common in the genre. 
  • Born October 7, 1962 Rick Foss, 59. Historian, Writer, Food Connoisseur, Conrunner, and Fan who has had around a dozen short fiction works published, mostly in Analog, some of which are in his Probability Zero universe. He is also a food writer, maintains a blog of interesting and little-known stories about food and cooking, has published the book Food in the Air and Space: The Surprising History of Food and Drink in the Skies about the history of airline food, and has had occasional food-related contributions on File 770. He is a member of LASFS and SCIFI, has worked many Loscons and other conventions, and chaired Loscon Sixteen in 1990. Along with his twin brother Wolf Foss, he was Fan Guest of Honor and Toastmaster at Windycon 19 in 1992.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Curtis tells what you should read now that it’s October.

(8) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter witnessed a couple of Jeopardy! contestants strike out in a surprising way on tonight’s episode.

Category: character development

Answer: He tinkers with history at the Ministry of Truth, gets a girlfriend & has a very bad year.

Wrong questions: Who is Snape? and Who is Harry Potter?

Right question: Who is Winston Smith in 1984?

(9) PUNCH, BROTHERS, PUNCH WITH CARE. James Davis Nicoll tells Tor.com readers to have their tickets out: “All Aboard! Five SFF Stories About Trains and Railways”. The second stop on this trip is —

Inverted World by Christopher Priest (1974)

The City of Earth creeps across a surrealistic landscape under a distorted sun at a snail’s pace: one mile in ten days. Forever pursuing the enigmatic optimum, the City’s population is organized around the task of keeping the City moving. Track creates the rails on which the City moves, Traction propels the City, the Militia guards the City from the barbarians around it, and surveyors like Helward Mann scout the path Earth will follow.

It’s a difficult existence. Work is burdensome and constant. The women of the City bear few children; the City must draft barbarian women to bear children. Nevertheless, Helward and people like him do their bit to keep their home crawling westward. Now, however, the journey may be at its end. Ahead of the City is an ocean, vast and unbridgeable…

(10) VIDEO OF THE DAY.  The people who did “Libertarian Game of Thrones” have now come out with “LIbertarian James Bond!” — “A spy with a license to stop requiring licenses.”

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael J. Walsh, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 7/29/21 How Many Hugo Finalists Can Scroll On The Head Of A Pixel

(1) WHO’S NEXT? The Thirteenth Doctor and the showrunner will both be replaced reports Radio Times: “Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall confirmed to leave Doctor Who”.

Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall.

Both star and showrunner will bow out following a six-part series (set to air later in 2021), two specials (already planned for 2022), plus one final feature-length adventure for the Thirteenth Doctor which will also mark the BBC’s centenary next year.

In a statement, Chibnall said: “Jodie and I made a ‘three series and out’ pact with each other at the start of this once-in-a-lifetime blast. So now our shift is done, and we’re handing back the TARDIS keys.

“Jodie’s magnificent, iconic Doctor has exceeded all our high expectations. She’s been the gold standard leading actor, shouldering the responsibility of being the first female Doctor with style, strength, warmth, generosity and humour. She captured the public imagination and continues to inspire adoration around the world, as well as from everyone on the production. I can’t imagine working with a more inspiring Doctor – so I’m not going to!…”

Whittaker, who was cast as the first female incarnation of the Doctor in 2017, said: “In 2017 I opened my glorious gift box of size 13 shoes. I could not have guessed the brilliant adventures, worlds and wonders I was to see in them. My heart is so full of love for this show, for the team who make it, for the fans who watch it and for what it has brought to my life. And I cannot thank Chris enough for entrusting me with his incredible stories.

“We knew that we wanted to ride this wave side by side, and pass on the baton together. So here we are, weeks away from wrapping on the best job I have ever had. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to express what this role has given me. I will carry the Doctor and the lessons I’ve learnt forever.

“I know change can be scary and none of us know what’s out there. That’s why we keep looking. Travel Hopefully. The Universe will surprise you. Constantly.”

A RadioTimes.com poll last year voted Whittaker the show’s second most popular Doctor of all time, behind David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor.

It’s not obvious who the candidates are to take over as showrunner says Radio Times: “Doctor Who’s ‘new generation’ will be announced ‘in due course’”.

…Within the current stable of Who writers, only a handful (including Vinay Patel and Pete McTighe) have written more than one episode, and it’s unclear whether the BBC would look within the current writing staff or elsewhere to find someone to take on the often demanding showrunner job.

In other words, the speculation isn’t just for who could replace Jodie Whittaker any more. Who is the new Chris Chibnall? Taking all bets…

And there’s been an adjustment to the schedule of Doctor Who episodes and specials to accommodate the BBC’s 100th anniversary celebration next year: “Doctor Who series 13 will be six episodes long – with specials in 2022”.

The upcoming thirteenth series of Doctor Who will be six episodes long, the BBC has confirmed.

It was originally announced that there would be eight episodes in the season, but it has now been announced that the main series will consist of just half a dozen episodes, each of which will form part of an ongoing storyline.

In addition, a trilogy of specials will now air in 2022 – one more than had previously been planned, with the first airing on New Year’s Day 2022 and a second following later in spring 2022.

…The third feature-length special, in which the Thirteenth Doctor will regenerate, will then air in autumn 2022, forming part of the BBC’s Centenary celebrations.

(2) COVID POLICIES FOR TWO MEGACONS. PAX West, which is September 3-6 this year, is requiring proof of either vaccination or a negative COVID test for attendance this year — see “Health & Safety Update”.

Throughout the year, the PAX team has been actively working to support a safe environment for our PAX West visitors. We are pleased to announce that, in line with the recommendations of state and local public health authorities, we will be implementing a vaccination or negative COVID-19 test requirement for everyone at PAX West. We appreciate your patience as we worked with our venue and the authorities to create our comprehensive plan….

Dragon Con, which is the same weekend, has promised to set its policy at least 30 days before the con, which means it should be announced by next week.

…As the nation continues to emerge from the pandemic, the rules and expectations are changing fast. We are working closely with the public health officials at the Georgia Department of Public Health, the Fulton County Health Department and the experts hired by our hotels to establish a set of health and safety protocols. We don’t know at this point what these ground rules will look like by Labor Day, but we are committed to communicating them as soon as the plan is finalized and at least 30 days before the convention.

(3) WINDOW ON A CENTURY. Tanner Greer asks what we can learn from the popularity of YA in “Escaping Only So Far” in City Journal.

…Future social historians will not be able to consult an oral tradition of fairy tales in an investigation of the twenty-first century’s “mental ordering,” but they will have an equally vast catalog of fictional narratives at their disposal. For the most popular stories of our own day also tend toward the fantastic. Speculative fiction—fantasy, science fiction, and dystopian prophecies—has captured the imagination of twenty-first-century man. These flights of fancy are the cornerstone of our popular culture; their protagonists are our cultural heroes. They testify to the power of escapism.

Yet like the fairy tales of old, our escapist yarns can escape only so far. Their imagery and plotting are irrevocably tied to our society. Despite their diverse subgenres and distinct audiences, these fictional narratives share a set of attitudes and convictions about the nature of authority, power, and responsibility. They provide a window into the moral economy of the twenty-first century’s overmanaged meritocrats.

The rise of the young-adult novel is the most significant literary event of this century. The significance of the genre—often simply called “YA”—is best appreciated when juxtaposed with general trends in Anglophone reading. In an age that has seen both the average number of books read and the average number of hours spent reading steeply decline, YA readership has exploded, and not just among young adults. In 2012, one marketing firm discovered that slightly more than half of all American YA readers were older than 22. Just under one-third were somewhere between 30 and 44…. 

(4) ALMOST HAD A SHORT LIFE. Gizmodo reports the “Lord of the Rings Studio Wanted Peter Jackson to Kill a Hobbit”.

…Speaking to IGN about their new Lord of the Rings podcast series—called “Friendship Onion”—Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd (who played Merry and Pippin) touched upon a time when pressure from executives above the Lord of the Rings production team wanted to amplify the stakes of the series by killing off one of its four smallest stars. Apparently, the tall folk were off-limits, and the stakes of, say, a massive war between the forces of good and evil for the fate of all Middle-earth could only be raised if you found one of the cutest hobbits around and stabbed them to death or something.

“It’s a good job that didn’t happen, because it would have been me,” Monaghan joked to IGN. “It definitely would have. There’s no way they are killing Frodo and Sam, and the only ones that would be left would be Merry and Pippin. They wouldn’t kill Pippin because Pippin has a really strong story with Gandalf. It would have definitely been me.”

(5) HALFLING MYTHCON THIS WEEKEND. The virtual “Halfling” 2021 Mythopoeic Society conference takes place online July 31-August 1. They are offering a special “flat rate” conference membership of $20, whether or not you’re a member of the Mythopoeic Society. 

(6) WATCH THE 2021 NEBULA CEREMONY. SFWA has posted video of The 56th Annual Nebula Awards Ceremony held June 5. (The list of winners is here.)

June 5th, 2021 marked the 56th Annual Nebula Awards Ceremony! Writer and Comedian Aydrea Walden hosted for a second year, and the awards were presented by multiple notable figures in the science fiction and fantasy community!

(7) A HOLLOW VOICE SAYS PUGH. “Scarlett Johansson sues Disney for releasing ‘Black Widow’ in theaters and on Disney+” reports Yahoo! The decision impacted her paycheck.

Scarlett Johansson may have retired as the Avengers’s resident Black Widow and passed the torch to Florence Pugh, but it appears that the actress still has some unfinished business with Marvel Entertainment and its parent company, Walt Disney. As originally reported in the Wall Street Journal, the actress — who played Natasha Romanoff over a 10-year period from 2010’s Iron Man 2 to the Black Widow solo adventure that opened in July after a year-long delay — has filed a breach of contract lawsuit against her former employers.

At issue is the way that Disney ultimately chose to release the movie. Originally scheduled to open exclusively in theaters in May 2020, Black Widow was repeatedly delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Eventually, the studio made the decision to pursue a hybrid release, opening the massively-budgeted movie in multiplexes the same day it premiered on the Disney+ streaming as a Premier Access title. (Premier Access films are available to Disney+ subscribers for an extra $29.99 surchage.)

According to the lawsuit that Johansson filed on Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, that hybrid release plan breached her original contract with Marvel Entertainment and Disney, which reportedly guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release. Furthermore, her salary for the film would be based largely on how it performed at the box office…. 

(8) TOWARDS CHEAPER FREE SPEECH. At The Dream Foundry, Jean-Paul Garnier offers “Freeware Solutions for Building Your Podcasting Studio”.

Starting your first podcast can be daunting. Perusing microphones and equipment, while fun, can be disheartening as the cost quickly becomes prohibitive. But one need not get discouraged, as it is possible to get started with a very small (or no) budget. Many of the things you will need can be obtained for free and in this article we’ll show you where to find the tools you need. 

When it comes to microphones you can be looking at spending anywhere from 10s of dollars to 1000s, but the cell phone in your pocket already has a pretty decent mic built-in, and it’s good enough to get you started. Most cell phones will also have a built-in recording app, and there are plenty you can download for free. If using these go into the settings and make sure to set the sample rate and bit depth as high as possible.

Once you have made your recording it’s time to edit the recording into the beautiful finished product that will be your podcast. Fortunately from here on out everything you’ll be needing can be downloaded for free, and many of the tools we’ll be discussing are powerful and versatile…. 

(9) A NEBULOUS WINNER. As a byproduct of another author mourning how his name got misspelled in a recent award shortlist announcement I learned that Isaac Asimov famously suffered the same indignity – see the “Isaac Asimov FAQ” at Asimov Online.

Asimov hated it when his name was misspelled in print or mispronounced by others. His desire to have his name spelled correctly even resulted in a 1957 short story, “Spell my Name with an ‘s'”.

(Notable instances of his name being misspelled occurred on the cover of the November 1952 issue of Galaxy, which contained “The Martian Way”, and on his 1976 Nebula Award for “The Bicentennial Man”.)

When in 1940 he wrote a letter to Planet Stories, which printed it and spelled his name “Isaac Asenion”, he quickly fired off an angry letter to them. (His friend Lester Del Rey took great delight in referring to him as “Asenion” for many years afterward. On the other hand, Asimov himself referred to positronic robots with the Three Laws as “Asenion” robots in The Caves of Steel.)

Asimov was quite perturbed when Johnny Carson, host of the Tonight Show, pronounced his first name as I-ZAK, with equal emphasis on both syllables, during an appearance on the television show in New York in 1968.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

  • July 29, 1953 – Sixty-eight years on this date, War of The Worlds premiered in Atlantic City. It was produced by George Pal, and directed by Byron Haskin. It starred Gene Barry and Ann Robinson with narration by Sir Cedric Hardwicke. The Martian war machines were designed by Al Nozaki, and the sizzling sound effect would be used again as the first Trek series phaser sound. (You know what novel it was adapted from.) The film was both a critical and box office success with its earnings making it the top SF film of the year. Weirdly, it would win a Retro Hugo at Noreascon 4 for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form due to its running time of 85 minutes (per IMDB). Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a seventy-one percent rating.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 29, 1876 Maria Ouspenskaya. In the Forties, she did a run of pulp films, to wit The Wolf ManFrankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and Tarzan and the Amazons. A decade or so earlier, she was in the fantasy film Beyond Tomorrow. (Died 1949.)
  • Born July 29, 1888 Farnsworth Wright. Editor of Weird Tales. He regularly published Smith, Lovecraft and Howard, and even Hamilton. He’s also noteworthy for starting the commercial careers of three noteworthy fantasy artists — Bok, Brundage and Finlay. He’s been nominated for three Retro Hugos to date. (Died 1940.)
  • Born July 29, 1927 Jean E. Karl. She founded Atheneum Children’s Books, and she edited Ursula K Le Guin’s Earthsea sequence and Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising sequence. As an author, she wrote three genre novels, Strange TomorrowBeloved Benjamin Is Waiting and But We Are Not of Earth, and a reasonable amount of short fiction, all of which is In the Clordian Sweep series. Nine of those stories are in The Turning Point collection. (Died 2000.)
  • Born July 29, 1941 David Warner, 80. Being Lysander in that A Midsummer Night’s Dream was his first genre role. I’m going to do just highlights after that as he’s got far too extensive a genre history to list everything. So he’s been A Most Delightful Evil in Time Bandits, Jack the Ripper in Time After Time, Ed Dillinger / Sark In Tron, Father in The Company of Wolves, Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, The Creature in Frankenstein, voice of Ra’s al Ghul on Batman: The Animated Series and Abraham Van Helsing on Penny Dreadful
  • Born July 29, 1955 Dave Stevens. American illustrator and comics artist. He created The Rocketeer comic book and film character. It’s worth noting that he assisted Russ Manning on the Star Wars newspaper strip and worked on the storyboards for Raiders of the Lost ArkThe Rocketeer film was nominated for a Hugo at MagiCon which was the year Terminator 2: Judgment Day won. (Died 2008.)
  • Born July 29, 1982 Dominic Burgess, 49. His first genre roles are sixteen years back as a cop in Batman Begins, and as Agorax in the Ninth Doctor story, “Bad Wolf”. A decade later, he gets his first recurring role as Ember in The Magicans. He’s had roles in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.The LeftoversThe Good PlaceTeen WolfThe FlashSupernaturalAmerican Horror Story: Apocalypse and Picard.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Half Full has one of Charlotte’s forgotten web messages.
  • Crankshaft has a garden so overflowing with zucchini it reminds somebody of a Star Trek reference.

(13) THIS IS HILARIOUS. I had never seen The Core (2003) before today when I flicked on Pluto TV in time to watch the scene where they land the Space Shuttle in the Los Angeles River (!!!) This was hilarious. The best thing since the Galaxy Quest landed in the convention center parking lot.

And it turns out there’s a whole oral history post of filmmakers telling how the scene was created – visual effects, models, water imagery, etc., in “’That will not work, Houston, we got bridges every few 100 yards’” at Befores & Afters. You can watch the scene here:

(14) BUSTED. In the latest Rite Gud podcast Raquel S. Benedict says “Genre Busting Makes Me Feel Good”.

Genre is safe. Genre is comfortable. Genre tells us, as readers, what to expect. As writers, genre gives us guidelines to follow, which can make it a lot easier to plan a story: put the villain monologue here, put the meet cute there, tragically kill the protagonist’s mentor in this part of the story. But do we rely on genre conventions too much? Can genre hold us back? Is genre busting good? In this episode of Rite Gud, we are joined by writer and designer Matt Maxwell.

(15) WELL… In “Playing Favorites With Favorites, or, What We Talk About When We Talk About Our Favorite Books” at Tor.com, Molly Templeton explores the complex experience of trying to answer an icebreaker question.

What’s your favorite book?

Maybe there are people for whom this isn’t a loaded question. I’m not sure I’ve met any of them. “Favorite” is a freeze-up word, a demand impossible to meet. Picking just one? Are you serious? But there are 17 books from just last year that are my favorites!

The thing about this question, though, is that it isn’t entirely about the answer. It’s also about what the answer seems to say—the shorthand inherent in talking about books, and who reads what, and what we get out of and return to in the ones we hold closest to our hearts. If someone tells you their favorite book is The Catcher in the Rye, you are likely to draw some conclusions about them. Same goes for someone who names The Princess Bride, or The Lord of the Rings. But what if they say A Tale for the Time Being or Firebreak or The Summer Prince? Does the answer still mean much if you don’t recognize the book?

(16) YOU’RE HIRED. Gawker is back, as the New York Times notes in “Gawker: The Return”, and which I report here because I love the new editor’s modest resume:

…In her editor’s note on Wednesday, Ms. Finnegan wrote that when approached to lead the site last year, she had said, “Absolutely no way in hell.”

A second approach in January won her over. Ms. Finnegan hired a team of 12, mostly women, including four contributing writers.

“I suppose my selling points as a potential editor in chief of Gawker were that I had previously worked at Gawker and Bustle and was unemployed,” Ms. Finnegan wrote. “I was also willing to do it, which not many people can say.”

(17) MOD ARRIVES AT ISS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The Russian module, Nauka, has completed its trip to the International Space Station, though there are still nearly a dozen (previously planned) spacewalks needed to put it into service. You may recall that Nauka initially had problems completing engine burns necessary to match orbits with the ISS. “Russian lab module docks with space station after 8-day trip” at Yahoo!

The 20-metric-ton (22-ton) Nauka module, also called the Multipurpose Laboratory Module, docked with the orbiting outpost in an automatic mode after a long journey and a series of maneuvers. Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, confirmed the module’s contact with the International Space Station at 13:29 GMT.

The launch of Nauka, which is intended to provide more room for scientific experiments and space for the crew, had been repeatedly delayed because of technical problems. It was initially scheduled to go up in 2007.

In 2013, experts found contamination in its fuel system, resulting in a long and costly replacement. Other Nauka systems also underwent modernization or repairs.

Nauka became the first new module in the Russian segment of the station since 2010. On Monday, one of the older Russian modules, the Pirs spacewalking compartment, undocked from the Space Station to free up room for the new module….

The International Space Station is currently operated by NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur; Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov of Russia’s Roscosmos space corporation; Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet.

In 1998, Russia launched the station’s first module, Zarya, which was followed in 2000 by another big module, Zvezda, and three smaller modules in the following years. The last of them, Rassvet, arrived at the station in 2010.

(18) CREDIT WHERE DUE. There a whole internet industry devoted to identifying movie continuity and set decoration goofs. But sometimes filmmakers get it right! Yahoo! lists “34 Super Small Details In The ‘Back To The Future’ Trilogy That Are Smarter Than All Of Us”.

13. The clock tower’s damage is consistent.

At the beginning of Back to the Future (1985), there’s no damage on the clocktower ledge. When Marty comes back to 1985 at the end, you can see the damage from when Doc was up there to send him back in 1955. from MovieDetails

14. And it’s still broken in 2015.

In Back To The Future 2, the ledge on the clock tower that Doc broke in Back To The Future is still broken from MovieDetails

15. Oh, and that guy Marty’s talking to? He’s the mechanic in 1955!!!

In Back to the Future Part II (1989), the elderly man raising money to save the clock tower in 2015 (who also inadvertently gives Marty the idea to buy the Sports Almanac) is the mechanic who removed the horse manure from Biff’s car in 1955. from MovieDetails

The mechanic is played by Charles Fleischer, who voices Roger Rabbit. Who Framed Roger Rabbit is another movie directed by Robert Zemeckis.

(19) ASSIMILATE THIS. Nature reports “Massive DNA ‘Borg’ Structures Perplex Scientists”:

The Borg have landed — or, at least, researchers have discovered their counterparts here on Earth. Scientists analysing samples from muddy sites in the western United States have found unusual DNA structures that seem to scavenge and ‘assimilate’ genes from microorganisms in their environment, much like the fictional Borg — aliens in Star Trek that assimilate the knowledge and technology of other species. These extra-long DNA strands join a diverse collection of genetic structures — including circular plasmids — known as extrachromosomal elements (ECEs). Most microbes have one or two chromosomes that encode their genetic blueprint. But they can host, and often share between them, many distinct ECEs. These carry non-essential but useful genes. Borgs are a previously unknown, unique and “absolutely fascinating” type of ECE, says Jill  Banfield, a geomicrobiologist at the University of California, Berkeley. She and her colleagues described the Borgs’ discovery earlier this month. month (B. Al-Shayeb et al. Preprint at bioRxiv https://doi.org/gnsb; 2021).

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Loki Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George, in a spoiler-packed episode, says there’s at least a half hour of talking in every episode (like the architect scene in The Matrix) and people who think Loki in a multiverse is a spoiler should avoid the subtitle of Doctor Strange 2:  In The Multiverse Of Madness.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Petréa Mitchell, Rob Thornton, StephenfromOttawa, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]