Pixel Scroll 1/29/23 Have Spindizzy, Will Travel

(1) LOST HISTORY, LOST FUTURE. None of the participants in the recent Facebook kerfuffle are mentioned by name, however, have no doubt that is what’s on Brian Keene’s mind in his latest newsletter: “Letters From the Labyrinth 318”.

…I don’t like what social media is doing to us, as a community. I don’t like watching authors and editors in their seventies who once contributed so many important things to our industry now destroying their legacies because their valid fears of being forgotten by the genre’s historical memory have led to misplaced anger due to generational views and the toxic stew of false logic they got from sketchy Facebook posts and talk radio. I don’t like watching writers in their thirties who have inherited this industry dispensing mob justice at the click of a button without pausing to think how it might hurt others who are listening. Speaking truth to power is something that should always be done. But that truth gets muted when everyone is speaking at once, and it’s hard to hear or discern wisdom in the midst of collective braying. I don’t like promising writers in their teens and early twenties, brimming with talent, that the sky is still the limit and yes, if they keep writing and keep submitting, they, too, can have this career… because I no longer believe that is true. They are entering the field at a time when, thanks to social media and technology, every single person in the world is a published writer, and not only do they have to compete with the entire population, they’ll now have to compete with A.I. as well.

So many people seem to have lost their empathy. So many people seem unable to pause, or just walk away. Everyone has to get that last post or Tweet or shot in, and for someone sitting here in the middle of it all, it’s just so very exhausting….

(2) COMICS BC. [Item by Soon Lee.] Colleen Doran who adapted the lovely Neil Gaiman short story “Chivalry” to comics has written a wonderful article about the process of turning the prose story into a graphic novel. Doran shares shoutouts in the graphic novel to the predecessors of modern Western comics. “Sequential art predates Action Comics #1.” The Bayeux Tapestry being an example of this. “Neil Gaiman’s CHIVALRY: From Illuminated Manuscripts to Comics”.

Action Comics popularized sequential art book storytelling that had already appeared in other forms in fits and starts throughout history. Comic books didn’t take off as a popular medium for several reasons, not least of which was the necessary printing process hadn’t been invented yet and it’s hard to popularize – and commercialize – something most people can never see. 

You find sequential art in cave paintings and in Egyptian hieroglyphics. I’ve read that comics (manga) were invented by the Japanese in 12th century scrolls….

(3) MILLIONS OF VOICES SUDDENLY CRIED OUT. “World of Warcraft to go offline in China, leaving millions of gamers bereft” reports the Guardian.

Millions of Chinese players of the roleplaying epic World of Warcraft (WoW) will bid a sad farewell to the land of Azeroth, with the game set to go offline after a dispute between the US developer Blizzard and its local partner NetEase.

Massively popular worldwide, particularly in the 2000s, WoW is an online multiplayer role-playing game set in a fantasy medieval world. It is known for being immersive and addictive, and players can rack up hundreds of hours of game time.

Blizzard’s games have been available in China since 2008 through collaboration with NetEase. Under local law, foreign developers are required to partner with Chinese firms to enter the market.

But after 14 years and millions of players in China, the two firms announced in November that talks over renewing their operating contract had failed to lead to an agreement. As a result, WoW’s Chinese servers will go offline at midnight local time on Tuesday.

Other popular titles by the Californian developer – one of the world’s biggest – will experience the same fate, including OverwatchDiablo III and Hearthstone.

“It’s the end,” wrote one Weibo user, accompanied by crying emojis.

“It was not just a game. It was also the memories of a whole generation” of young Chinese, another wrote.

“The two companies have taken players hostage,” said Wu, a 30-year-old doctoral student and a longtime fan….

(4) WANTS TO CUT THE FLOW OF $$$ TO ROWLING. InThem’s view “Hogwarts Legacy Continues to Make Enemies in the Gaming World”.

With two weeks still to go before the release of Hogwarts Legacy, the controversial video game is getting even more derision in gamer circles, both for making J.K. Rowling richer, and for looking like crap in the process.

On January 22, moderators on the gaming forum ResetEra announced that going forward, no discussion of Hogwarts Legacy would be permitted on the site. The forum previously barred “promotional” discussion of the game in 2021, but mods explained that they decided to implement a blanket ban after assessing the full situation.

“After continued internal discussion, we began to start outlining the issues put forth by Rowling and the game in question and each time, and as we discussed it all, we kept coming back to the simple fact that Rowling is not only a bigot but is actively pushing, in her position as a wealthy and famous individual, for legislation that will hurt trans people,” wrote site moderator B-Dubs in the announcement post. “Therefore, the mod team has decided to expand our prior ban on promotion for the Hogwarts game to include the game itself.”….

(5) WILL MEN BLOW A FUSE? “Toni Collette’s new Prime Video thriller series sounds electrifying” says TechRadar.

…Starring Toni Collette (Knives Out, Hereditary), Auli’i Cravalho (Moana), and Toheeb Jimoh (Ted Lasso season 3), the forthcoming Prime Video thriller series will aim to shock audiences with a worldwide tale based around gender imbalance and a single superpower.

Based on Naomi Alderman’s best-selling novel of the same name, The Power takes place in a world not unlike our own. However, one fateful day, teenage girls across the globe suddenly develop the ability to electrocute people at will. This nature-based power is hereditary, there’s no ‘cure’ for it and, most important of all, wielders can awaken the same power in their older mothers, sisters, cousins, and grandmothers.

Unsurprisingly, the emergence of this superpower leads to complete reversal of gender-based power balance in the world. Soon enough, the sparks of revolution are ignited, and men are quickly viewed as the lesser of humankind’s genders. The fallout that follows, then, will be as dramatic, suspense-filled, and electrifying as you can imagine….

(6) TRADITION DEFENDED. Ahrvid Engholm protests Chicon 8’s apology for their having initially called a panel “The Fannish Inquisition”. (Swedish, followed by English translation.) “The new heights of stupidity”.

…This “complaint” from only one (“the member who brought it to our attention”) reaches stratospheric heights in humorlessness and intolerance in claiming to be sensitive to the use of a simple word like “inquisition”. Have a look at HC Andersen’s story about The Princess and the Pea..  

If a tiny articulation of claimed uneasiness may decide what others can express, freedom of speech is in grave danger, and obviously once language is put  in a cage freedom of thought hangs loose.

We must stop this trend that anyone, who states feeling “uncomfortable” with what others say, have the right to silence them.

A well known historical institution, hundreds of years ago (are you going to tear out those pages in history books?), used as a cheerful gag would “understandably” (no, no one understands!) be “offensive” (no, it’s an innocent joke!)…

(7) WESCHING OBITUARY. Actress Annie Wersching has died of cancer at the age of 45 reports Collider.

Annie Wersching, the actress who brought to life a number of fan-favorite TV characters has sadly passed away today. Wersching most recently appeared as the villainous Borg Queen in Season 2 of Star Trek: Picard, a role that saw her return to the Star Trek franchise in a much bigger capacity a decade after initially making her Star Trek debut in a guest role in Star Trek: Enterprise. Wersching also had roles in popular TV shows such as 24Bosch, and The Vampire Diaries. Away from TV, Wersching was a big part of the fast-rising The Last of Us franchise. She lent her voice and performed motion capture for the beloved role of non-player character Tess who was recently brought to live action on the HBO series by Anna Torv. Wersching was 45 years old at the time of her death.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2019 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane is about a man whose nevered named who returns to his hometown for a funeral and remembers events that began forty years earlier. The remembrance of those events triggers something in the present of a horrific nature, and I’ll say no more in case some Filers here haven’t read it. 

The illustrated edition of the work was published in 2019, featuring the artwork of Australian Elise Hurst, a fine artist and author, specialising in children’s books.

Dinner was wonderful. There was a joint of beef, with roast potatoes, golden-crisp on the outside and soft and white inside, buttered greens I did not recognize, although I think now that they might have been nettles, toasted carrots all blackened and sweet (I did not think that I liked cooked carrots, so I nearly did not eat one but I was brave, and I tried it, and I liked it, and was disappointed in boiled carrots for the rest of my childhood.) For dessert there was the pie, stuffed with apples and with swollen raisins and crushed nuts, all topped with a thick yellow custard, creamier and richer than anything I had ever tasted at school or at home.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 29, 1913 Victor Mature. He’s best remembered for his first leading role, as a fur-clad caveman in One Million B.C., and until he showed up on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as Sparks in the “Deadly Creatures Below!” episode, which I’m reasonably sure is his only genre role. (Died 1999.)
  • Born January 29, 1918 Robert Pastene. He played the title role in the first televised Buck Rogers series on ABC that also had Kem Dibbs and Eric Hammond in that role. 35 episodes were made, none survive. As near as I can tell, his only other SFF performance was on the Out There and Lights Out series. (Died 1991.)
  • Born January 29, 1923 Paddy Chayefsky. In our circles known as the writer of the Altered States novel that he also wrote the screenplay for. He is the only person to have won three solo Academy Awards for Best Screenplay. The other winners of three Awards shared theirs. He did not win for Altered States though he did win for Network which I adore and might well be genre. (Died 1981.)
  • Born January 29, 1940 Katharine Ross, 83. Her first genre work was as Joanna Eberhart in The Stepford Wives, scary film that. She shows up next as Helena in The Swarm and plays Margaret Walsh in The Legacy, both horror films. The Final Countdown sees her in the character of Laurel Scott.  And Dr. Lilian Thurman is her character in the cult favorite Donnie Darko. I’m fairly sure that the only genre series she’s done is on The Wild Wild West as Sheila Parnell in “The Night of the Double-Edged Knife”, and she did an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents as well. 
  • Born January 29, 1945 Tom Selleck, 78. Setting aside the matter of if Magnum P.I. is genre which some of you hold to be true, he was Sgt. Jack R. Ramsay in Runaway which is most definitely SF.  He recently did some voice acting by being Cornelius, Lewis’ older self, in the animated Meet the Robinsons film, and he showed up as himself in the “What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?” of the Muppet Babies nearly forty years ago. And now in his thirteenth year as Commissioner Frank Reagan on the Blue Bloods series on Paramount+. 
  • Born January 29, 1958 Jeph Loeb, 64. His first comic writing work was on the Challengers of the Unknown vol. 2 #1 in 1991 with Tim Sale. He’d go on to win three Eisners for his work for Batman/The Spirit #1, Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: Dark Victory. And he’s also a producer/writer on such genre series such as SmallvilleLostHeroes and Teen Wolf.
  • Born January 29, 1970 Heather Graham, 53. Best known SF role was no doubt Dr. Judy Robinson on the Lost on Space film. She played also Felicity Shagwell that year in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. And she was Annie Blackburn on Twin Peaks.
  • Born January 29, 1988 Catrin Stewart, 35. Jenny Flint in five episodes of Doctor Who. She was the wife of Madame Vastra and the friend of Strax (informally known as the Paternoster Gang) who appeared first during the Eleventh Doctor and last during the Twelfth Doctor. Big Finish has continued them in their audiobooks. She also played Stella in two episodes of the Misfits series, and was Julia in a performance of 1984 done at London Playhouse a few years back.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lio makes the scene with a frozen Gort.
  • Dick Tracy is starting another (or repeat?) Little Orphan Annie arc.
  • The Far Side has some genre career counseling.
  • Tom Gauld is keeping busy.

(11) FREE READ. Sunday Morning Transport shares “Tears Waiting to Be Diamonds: Part Two” by Sarah Rees Brennan.

Sarah Rees Brennan’s “Tears Waiting to Be Diamonds, Part One,” our first story of January 2023, brought us news from the Other Lands and absolutely blew our socks off. Now, as January comes to a close, we hope you enjoy Part Two of “Tears Waiting to Be Diamonds,” with all the joys and surprises that entails. ~ Julian and Fran, January 29, 2023

(12) YEAR ENDS WITH A BANG. Joe Stech of Compelling Science Fiction shares his picks for the “Top science fiction short stories published in December”. At number one:

The top story for the month of December (and therefore our t-shirt winner!) is Murder by Pixel: Crime and Responsibility in the Digital Darkness by S.L. Huang. The story is a fun and insightful piece of fictitious journalism. It’s rare that I see near-future AI stories that really feel true-to-life and are also page-turners, Huang knocked this one out of the park.

(13) BRINGING IN THE NEW YEAR. The new episode of the Anime Explorations Podcast is up, where in honor of Lunar New Year, they discuss a Japanese/Taiwanese co-production with the first season and movie of Thunderbolt Fantasy. “Thunderbolt Fantasy Season 1 + The Blade of Life & Death”.

This month, David, Tora and Alexander Case are taking a look at the first season & film of Thunderbolt Fantasy for Lunar New Year.

Thunderbolt Fantasy is available on Crunchyroll: https://www.crunchyroll.com/series/GY75KE906/thunderbolt-fantasy

(14) REMEMBERING AN ICONIC GAME CONSOLE. Lego supplies 2,532 pieces that add up to a replica of the Atari 2600 and some of the paraphernalia.

Take a trip back to the 1980s with this LEGO Atari 2600 (10306) building set for adults. Enjoy a rewarding project creating all the details of this replica console, replica game ‘cartridges’ and joystick. Gaming fans will love the 3 mini builds depicting themes from 3 popular Atari games. There’s even a hidden 1980s scene to build for total nostalgia overload. Rediscover 3 of the most popular Atari games: Asteroids, Adventure and Centipede. There’s a replica ‘cartridge’ for each, plus 3 scenes to build capturing the story of each game. The games slot into the vintage-style console and can be stored in the cartridge holder. Check out the artwork, inspired by the original Atari designs plus a touch of LEGO spirit. This collectible building set makes an immersive project for you or a top gift idea for gamers.

(15) TERMINATOR GENESIS? CNN has video of the earliest ancestor of the T-1000 “Liquid Metal” bot. At the link: “Video: This tiny shape-shifting robot can melt its way out of a cage”.

Researchers took gallium, a metal with a low melting point, and embedded it with magnetic particles to create a robot that can melt and move. Their inspiration? A sea cucumber.

(16) COMPATIBLE QUARTERS FOR NOVELISTS. A Penguin blogger evaluates “The best places to write your novel according to authors: tried and tested”. For some, a hotel is perfect.

…Agatha Christie ostensibly wrote Murder on the Orient Express at the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul, while Maya Angelou used to write on hotel beds for months at a time. Ashdown Park Hotel is set right on the edge of the forest where Winnie the Pooh himself was born, and there are some cute nods to the Bear of Very Little Brain outside the hotel’s restaurant. Pooh and Angelou: I was in good company…

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Season 3 official trailer forStar Trek: Picard dropped today.

The stakes have never been higher as Star Trek: Picard boldly goes into its third and final season. Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, and Michael Dorn of Star Trek: The Next Generation join series star Patrick Stewart for an epic adventure.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Soon Lee, Todd Mason, Daniel Dern, Alexander Case, 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.]

Pixel Scroll 12/18/22 As You Scroll, Bob

(1) CLARION WEST CLASSES. Here are the Spring 2023 classes offered by Clarion West – click the link to read the full description and to register.

The Supporting Tuition rate is shown for each class or workshop for folks who can pay it. Paying the Supporting Tuition rate enables us to continue to pay our staff and instructors equitably, as well as support access to classes for others who may be in a different situation. 

The Helping Hands rate is available to folks under more limited economic circumstances, no matter your background.

Cross-Examining Your Character With Henry Lien

01/21/2023 10:00 AM – 01/28/2023 01:00 PM PT; Online Workshop

  • $130.00  –  Supporting Tuition
  • $100.00  –  Helping Hands Tuition

Use courtroom interrogation techniques to get to the heart of your character.

Finding Creative Truth Through Desire And Fear With Sloane Leong

02/13/2023 05:00 PM – 06:30 PM PT; Online Class

  • $75.00  –  Supporting Tuition
  • $55.00  –  Helping Hands Discounted Tuition

This interactive lecture assists writers in understanding their desires, fears, and creative philosophy in service of clarifying what they truly want out of their writing practice and stories.

The Friend, The Lover, and The Enemy: Mastering Key Relationship Arcs with Piper J. Drake

03/04/2023 10:00 AM – 03/18/2023 11:30 AM PT; Online Class

  • $130.00  –  Supporting Tuition
  • $100.00  –  Helping Hands

Explore the relationships between principal characters and how those relationship arcs can be developed into dynamic and evolving connections to engage readers and drive the plot forward.

Weirdcraft: Writing Horror, Gothic, and the Literary Strange with Ian Muneshwar

03/28/2023 05:00 PM – 05/16/2023 07:00 PM PT; Online Workshop

  • $275.00  –  Supporting Tuition
  • $205.00  –  Helping Hands

This five-session workshop, aimed at beginning and intermediate writers who’ve already produced at least one draft of a horror story, will provide students with actionable feedback on their own fiction while broadening their understanding of craft-based approaches to writing horror.

Who Are You As A Writer? Identifying Your Narrative Building Blocks With Susan J. Morris

03/30/2023 04:30 PM – 05:30 PM PT; Free Class

  • Free

In this 1-hour webinar, learn to identify your core strengths, themes, narrative building blocks, and values, and how to use them to generate new ideas that play to your strengths.

Emergent Structures: How Structure Shapes Your Story On A Macro And Micro Level With Susan J. Morris

04/27/2023 04:30 PM – 06:00 PM PT; Online Class

  • $75.00  –  Supporting Tuition
  • $55.00  –  Helping Hands

Delve beyond Save the Cat to explore different structures—not just of plot, but of every aspect of your story, from scenes to character arcs.

(2) MOVING VOLUMES. [Item by Jeffrey Smith.] This article’s header is an illustration of Mount Tsundoku! “We’re drowning in old books. But getting rid of them is heartbreaking” says the Washington Post.

On a recent weekday afternoon, Bruce Albright arrives in the Wonder Book parking lot, pops the trunk of his Camry and unloads two boxes of well-worn books. “It’s sad. Some of these I’ve read numerous times,” he says.

Albright, 70, has been at this for six months, shedding 750 books at his local library and at this Frederick, Md., store. The rub: More than 1,700 volumes remain shelved in the retired government lawyer’s nearby home, his collection lovingly amassed over a half-century.

But Albright is on a mission. “I cleaned out my parents’ home,” he says. “I don’t want to do to my kids what my parents did to me.”

He’s far from alone. Books are precious to their owners. Their worth, emotional and monetary, is comparably less to anyone else.

Humorist and social critic Fran Lebowitz owns 12,000 books, mostly fiction, kept in 19th-century wooden cases with glass doors in her New York apartment. “Constitutionally, I am unable to throw a book away. To me, it’s like seeing a baby thrown in a trash can,” she says. “I am a glutton for print. I love books in every way. I love them more than most human beings.” If there’s a book she doesn’t want, Lebowitz, 72, will spend months deciding whom to give it to….

(3) HOW BLUE WAS THE BOX OFFICE? “’Avatar 2’ makes waves with $134 million domestic debut” and Yahoo! Entertainment thinks that was nothing to be sneezed at.

Avatar: The Way of Water ” didn’t make quite as big of a splash as many assumed it would, but James Cameron’s big budget spectacle still helped breathe life into the box office this weekend. The sequel earned $134 million from North American theaters and $300.5 million internationally for a $434.5 million global debut, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

It tied with “The Batman” as the fourth highest domestic debut of the year, behind “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” ( $187.4 million in May ), “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” ( $181 million in November ) and “Thor: Love and Thunder” ($144.2 million in July).

Expectations were enormous for “Avatar 2,” which carried a reported price tag of over $350 million, the pressure of following up the highest grossing film of all time (thanks in part to various re-releases) over a decade later and the daunting task of propping up an exhibition business that’s still far from normal.

(4) MAKES FOR COMPELLING READING. In Joe Stech’s latest Compelling Science Fiction newsletter he picks five of the “Top science fiction short stories published in October”. Leading the way:

The top story for the month of October (and therefore our t-shirt winner!) was The Conflagration at the Museum of You by Adam-Troy Castro. I’ve never read a story quite like it — implausibly bizarre and yet compellingly real. The writing is outstanding, and it really has to be to keep you reading. The story is written in the second person, discussing a museum dedicated to you, the reader. The ‘why’ of it is unimportant and hand-wavy, and the story could have easily been annoying to read, but it wasn’t, and you should read it.

(5) PETRONA AWARD. Maria Adolfsson won the 2022 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year for Fatal Isles, translated from the Swedish by Agnes Broomé. Adolfsson will receive a trophy, and both author and translator get a cash prize.

The judges said: “This captivating winning novel is the first in a proposed trilogy featuring the beautifully flawed protagonist Detective Inspector Karen Eiken Hornby, whose take on life and work make for a strong down-to-earth and modern heroine in the relicts of a man’s world. Set in the fictional yet completely credible location of Doggerland, this three-islands archipelago in the North Sea, reflects Scandinavian, North European and British heritages. Doggerland is shaped and influenced by its geographical position; the atmospheric setting, akin to the wind- and history-swept Faroe and Shetland Islands, and Nordic climes, enhances the suspenseful and intriguing plot of a police procedural that combines detailed observations and thoughts on the human condition….

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1991 [By Cat Eldridge.] FAO Schwartz bronze Teddy Bear, Boston

In Boston, there’s an eight foot teddy bear made of bronze that become homeless for awhile. Let us tell you that tale. 

The bear, eight feet tall and weighing three tons, was done by sculptor Robert Shure of Woburn. Two of his other works are the Joe DiMaggio Memorial at Yankee Stadium and the Massachusetts Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Boston. 

Boston’s bear was the first of many that FAO Schwartz would place around the country. It cost about sixty-five thousand dollars  when it was made in the early Nineties. Three of the teddy bears, the others being in New York and Seattle, were made of bronze while the rest were far less expensive fiberglass works.

Like The Ducklings we profiled in the Scroll last night, he was, as you can see in the image below, in the Back Bay, outside the FAO Schwartz store. Then one day he was gone. Well not quite that dramatically as FAO Schwartz went bankrupt in 2004 as so many of those department store did around that time, so the Boston store was closed, and he went into storage. Poor bear, sitting alone in a dark space, unloved.

The company donated Boston’s bear to the city, but what to do with him? He is a lot of bear and he needed a new place to live, one where children could love him again.

Boston’s Mayor Thomas Menino decided that a contest was the best way to find him a home with the city’s children sending in their ideas as to where his home should be. That resulted in some seven thousand letters, with children from thirty-four states and even a few foreign countries submitting ideas for his home, many of them written in crayon. 

So where did he go? Well at least for now, he’s outside the Tufts Medical Center/Floating Hospital for Children, which is appropriate as the children there love him, but it was announced that Tufts Children’s Hospital inpatient pediatric beds will be closed and converted to add forty one adult ICU beds, citing increasing demand from critically ill adults. So he’ll need yet another new home presumably. 

Update: this week, the hospital announced that he’s staying there because they are keeping pediatric primary care services, including the Pediatric and Adolescent Asian Clinic, and the Children with Special Needs Clinic, so he will have lots of children to love him.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 18, 1923 Alfred Bester. He is best remembered perhaps for The Demolished Man, which won the very first Hugo Award. I remember experiencing it as an audiobook— a very spooky affair!  The Stars My Destination is equally impressive with Foyle both likeable and unlikable at the same time. Psychoshop which Zelazny finished is in my library but has escaped reading so far. I’ve run across some scattered references to Golem100 but I’ve never seen a copy anywhere. Who here has read It? (Died 1987.)
  • Born December 18, 1941 Jack C. Haldeman II. He’d get Birthday Honors if only for On the Planet of Zombie Vampires, book five of the adventures of Bill the Galactic Hero, co-written with Harry Harrison. He’d also get these honors for chairing Disclave 10 through Disclave 17, and a Worldcon as well, Discon II. He was a prolific short story writer, penning at least seventy-five such tales, but alas none of these, nor his novels other than There is No Darkness that he did with his brother are available in digital form. (Died 2002.)
  • Born December 18, 1939 Michael Moorcock, 83. Summing up the career of Moorcock isn’t possible so I won’t. His Elric of Melniboné series is just plain awesome and I’m quite fond of the Dorian Hawkmoon series of novels as well. Particular books that I’d like to note as enjoyable for me include The Metatemporal Detective collection, Mother London and The English Assassin: A Romance of Entropy. While he was editor, New Worlds got nominated for Best Professional Magazine from 1967-1970. 
  • Born December 18, 1946 Steven Spielberg, 76. Are we counting Jaws as genre? I believe we are per an earlier discussion here. If so, that’s his first such followed immediately by Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Between 1981 and 1984, he put out Raiders of the Lost ArkE.T. the Extra-TerrestrialTwilight Zone: The Movie and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Ok so the quality of the last film wasn’t great… He’d repeated that feat between ‘89 and ‘93 when he put out Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Hook which I both love followed by Jurassic Park which I don’t. The Lost World: Jurassic Park followed along a string of so-so films, A.I. Artificial IntelligenceMinority Report, War of the Worlds and one decided stinker, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal SkullThe BFG is simply wonderful. Haven’t seen Ready Player One so I’ll leave that up to y’all to opine on. 
  • Born December 18, 1953 Jeff Kober, 69. Though he’s best remembered as Dodger in the stellar China Beach series, he’s been in numerous genre series and films including VThe Twilight ZoneAlien Nation, the Poltergeist series,The X-Files series, Tank Girl as one of the kangaroos naturally, SupernaturalStar Trek: VoyagerStar Trek: Enterprise, Kindred: The Embraced and The Walking Dead. 
  • Born December 18, 1954 Ray Liotta. We could just stop at him being Shoeless Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams, don’t you think of it as being an exemplary genre cred? Well I do. On a much sillier note, he’s in two Muppet films, Muppets from Space and Muppets Most Wanted. On a very not silly note, he was Joey in Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. (Died 2022.)
  • Born December 18, 1968 Casper Van Dien, 54. Yes, Johnny Rico in that Starship Troopers. Not learning his lesson, he’d go on to film Starship Troopers 3: Marauder and the animated Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars. Do not go read the descriptions of these films!  (Hint: the former has a nineteen percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.) He’d also star as Tarzan in Tarzan and the Lost City, show up as Brom Van Brunt In Sleepy Hollow, be Captain Abraham Van Helsing In Dracula 3000, James K. Polk in, oh really CasperAbraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter sequels, Rumpelstiltskin in Avengers Grimm and Saber Raine In Star Raiders: The Adventures of Saber Raine.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

Wheatcomics offers this astronomical view:

(9) FLAT NOTES. For crime novelist Ann Cleeves it was good news and bad news: “Writer recovers laptop containing half-finished novel after Shetland blizzard”, but it had been run over by a car.

… Tweeting an image of a badly misshapen computer, she said it had been found by a “sharp-eyed” young woman as she got off a school bus near to where Cleeves had been staying….

Describing how it was lost, she said she had been working in a library in Lerwick and walked “in a total blizzard” for a meeting at a nearby arts centre, adding that, while she was inside, the weather “just got worse and worse”.

“I needed to get home early and I think I must have either left my laptop there or it fell out of my bag while I was struggling through the wind and the snow to get from the library to the arts centre,” she said.

She added that people had been “amazingly kind” since she first tweeted about the laptop and that she been “getting responses from all over Lerwick”….

(10) THERE’S A SUCKER BORN… According to Yahoo!, “Donald Trump NFT Collection Sells Out, Price Surges”.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s non-fungible token (NFT) digital trading card collection sold out early Friday, the day after its initial release.

According to data from OpenSea, at time of writing, the collection’s trading volume is 900 ETH, or about $1.08 million. Its floor price is about 0.19 ETH, or about $230 – more than double the original price of $99.

Some tokens are selling for much higher prices. The one-of-ones, the rarest of the NFTs, which comprise 2.4% of the 45,000 unit collection (roughly 1,000), are selling for as much as 6 ETH at the time of writing. One of these rare trading cards, of the 45th president standing in front of the Statue of Liberty holding a torch, is currently listed at 20 ETH, or about $24,000.

According to data from Dune Analytics, nearly 13,000 users minted 3.5 tokens upon the release of the collection. Additionally, 115 customers purchased 45 NFTs, which is the minimum number of tokens that guarantees a ticket to a dinner with Trump; 17 people purchased 100 NFTs, which, according to the Trump Trading Card site, was the maximum quantity allowed to mint….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Jennifer Hawthorne, Jeffrey Smith, 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.]

Pixel Scroll 11/23/22 I’ve Read Through The Pixel On A Scroll With No Name

(1) ARISIA CHAIR TURNOVER. The acting Arisia 2023 convention chairs Alan and Michelle Wexelblat have resigned. Melissa Kaplan has stepped up as acting con chair in their place. The Arisia board says “details of the handoff and relevant ongoing efforts at Arisia will be forthcoming after the holiday break.”

(2) UNCLE HUGO’S / UNCLE EDGAR’S GET THEIR NAMES OUT FRONT. Don Blyly says, “The new awnings were installed last Friday afternoon, making it much easier to find the new location for the first time.” Until then, his bookstores’ new location still had the previous tenant’s name out front.  

(3) SUSPECT IN WOOSTER DEATH. Martin Morse Wooster was killed by a hit-and-run driver on November 12, however, his name did not appear in news reports until yesterday on WAVY in an update that says Virginia State Police have identified a suspect.

…State Police had said it was looking for witnesses who may have been driving in the area around Bypass Road prior to or after the incident.

Sgt. Michelle Anaya with the Virginia State Police said it has identified a suspect, and it is investigating and working with the Commonwealth’s Attorney. The incident, she said, is still under investigation, with charges pending….

(4) A GHOSTLY REALITY. Cora Buhlert’s new “Non-Fiction Spotlight” introduces readers to “A Haunted History of Invisible Women – True Stories of America’s Ghosts by Leanna Renee Hieber and Andrea Janes”.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Leanna: I’ve been writing since I was a kid and didn’t consider pursuing it professionally until my first job out of college. I had gotten a BFA in theatre performance with a focus study in the Victorian Era. I worked in the professional regional theatre circuit for a few years before moving to New York City and ended up at a Broadway callback where all I could think about was the book that would end up becoming my debut Gothic, Gaslamp Fantasy series, Strangely Beautiful. I stopped auditioning and solely focused on my novel about a girl who sees, talks with, and helps ghosts. Spectral subjects have been part of my creative process since childhood. I got my NYC tour guide’s license my first years in New York as I knew I wanted to incorporate real history into my fiction and eventually write non-fiction. Being a tour guide is a great way to make history second-nature. I feel like A Haunted History of Invisible Women is the culmination of everything that’s ever been important to me.

Andrea: I’m a writer and a New York City tour guide. I founded my own walking tour company, Boroughs of the Dead, in 2013….

(5) BEGINS WITH A SINGLE STEP. Sarah A. Hoyt offers some practical encouragement to writers in “The Best Beginning” at Mad Genius Club.

The best beginning is the one you can do.

This applies both to the beginning of novels, and “simply” to starting to write, or to establishing a writing schedule.

There are all sorts of books and instructions on how to start any of those, but what they leave out is: just begin any way you can. The rest will follow.

With novels, there are all kinds of ways to begin, including setting the tone of the book in the first paragraph. The theme in the first page. Make sure you start with the character who is central to the conflict, because readers are like ducklings, they imprint on the first moving thing they see.

However, you can always fix it in post. You can always go back and fix that beginning so it points the right way. You can lose the first fifty pages (beginning writers consistently start fifty pages too early.) Etc….

(6) PICARDO ASKS DOCTOR WHO WHO IS THE DOCTOR. But he is one only in an emergency, right?

(7) NEW ORLEANS IS HIS BEAT. Rich Horton lets us look over his shoulder in “Convention Report: World Fantasy 2022”; from Strange at Ecbatan.

…Mary Ann and I had decided to use Sunday afternoon to visit the French Quarter. We took the streetcar down there — it’s very easy and convenient. We were going to get lunch and I was determined to get a muffeletta, which is one of my favorite sandwiches. I wanted an authentic muffuletta from New Orleans — which I got at Frank’s, which advertised the “original muffuletta”. Alas, it might be the original, and it was fine, but you can get one just as good at, for example, C. J. Mugg’s in my town of Webster Groves. We should have eaten at the French Market Restaurant instead! We also, of course, went to Cafe du Monde to try beignets, and, hey, they were actually very good. (The line was long but went quickly.)…

(8) THE TRISOLARIANS ARE COMING. ScreenRant publicizes the release date for Bilibili’s animated adaptation of The Three-Body Problem. Beware spoilers.

The award-winning science fiction novel The Three-Body Problem has been adapted into an anime series by the Chinese online video and anime platform Bilibili, and the first episode is set to premiere on December 3, 2022.

…Normally, an adaptation is a testament to the popularity of the work in the public’s mind. This is particularly so with The Three-Body Problem. In addition to Bilibili, two other powerful film and television operations, namely Netflix and the Chinese tech giant Tencent have also produced their own live-action adaptations of the story. Fittingly, the world-famous story has its own version of the three-body problem….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1986 [By Cat Eldridge.] Peter S. Beagle’s The Folk of The Air

So let’s talk about one of the underappreciated novels by Mister Beagle, The Folk of The Air which was published thirty-six years ago by del Rey / Ballantine in hardcover.

It had a long, long gestation period as it took nearly twenty years from the time he started work on it until the time the final version was done. 

SPOILERS ARE HERE NOW. I SUGGEST MULLED WINE WOULD BE APPROPRIATE TO DRINK WHILE I DISCUSS THIS NOVEL? 

Joe Farrell, a musician who’s whiled away most of his post-college time in a sort of hippie style, travelling the country and avoiding any possibility of settling down, has returned at last to his Bay Area hometown of Avicenna, Beagle’s fictional version of Oakland.

Everything has changed — his closest friend is living with a woman who has immense magical powers in a house that keeps changing itself; another acquaintance is involved up with the League of Archaic Pleasures, a group that has taken to itself the events and manners of medieval chivalry, sometimes way, way too seriously; and he sees a teenage witch successfully summon back a centuries-old demon.

That Demon could tear asunder all that exists now and only his closest friend’s girlfriend can stop him but she’s gone walkout into a room in their house that nobody can find.

DID YOU LIKE THE MULLED WINE? I THINK THAT IT IS MOST EXCELLENT. 

I think it’s a most splendid novel, though Peter has reservations about it as he told me once that he considered revising it. He never said what about it that he’d change, just that he thought it could use some more work. Even SFReviews.net reported that saying “Beagle has never been fully satisfied with The Folk of the Air, and is currently reported to be working on a revision to be retitled Avicenna.” Mind you his Editor and closest friend tells me that she never heard of this existing either. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 23, 1908 Nelson S. Bond. Writer, Editor, Critic, and Member of First Fandom who also wrote for radio, television, and the stage, but whose published fiction work was mainly in the pulp magazines in the 1930s and 1940s. He’s remembered today mainly for his Lancelot Biggs series and for his Meg the Priestess tales, which introduced one of the first strong female characters in SF back in 1939. As a fan, he attended the very first Worldcon, and he famously advised Isaac Asimov, who kept arguing with fans about his works in the letter columns of magazines, “You’re a writer now, Isaac. Let the readers have their opinions.” He was named a Nebula Author Emeritus by SFWA in 1998. (Died 2006.) (JJ) 
  • Born November 23, 1951 David Rappaport. I remember him best as Randall, the leader of the gang of comically inept dwarves in Time Bandits who steal the map to the Universe. I’m reasonably sure that it’s the only thing he’ll be remembered for of a genre nature having looked up his other works and found them to be decidedly minor in nature. Most of them such as The Bride, a low budget horror film, were artistic and commercial disasters. It is said that his death by suicide in 1990 is one of the reasons cited by Gilliam for there not being a sequel to Time Bandits.  Well, now there is as Apple TB with the cooperation of Gilliam, there will Time Bandits series that Taika Waititi will co-write with Gilliam and direct, since it’ll shield in New Zealand. (Died 1990.)
  • Born November 23, 1966 Michelle Gomez, 56. Best known genre role is Missy, a female version of The Master on Doctor Who from 2014 to 2017, for which she was nominated for the 2016 BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress. I admit having grown up with Roger Delgado as The Master so later performers playing this role took a bit of getting used but she made a fine one. She is also Mary Wardwell in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. She plays Talia Bauerin in Highlander: The Raven which apparently is a very short-live spinoff from the Highlander series. And she shows up in the Gotham series for two episodes simply as The Lady. She is now playing Madame Rouge on the Doom Patrol.
  • Born November 23, 1992 Miley Cyrus. She’s had three genre appearances, each ten years apart. She was in Big Fish as the eight-year-old Ruthie, she was the voice of Penny in Bolt and she voiced Mainframe on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. And there’s the matter of A Very Murray Christmas which is at least genre adjacent…

(11) SEEN THIS IN YOUR DICTIONARY? FilmSchoolRejects introduces a video about “The Existential Comforts of Cyberpunk”.

…There isn’t a succinct definition of cyberpunk. Its origins can be traced back to the late 1960s and the New Wave sci-fi movement, with writers like J.G. Ballard, William Gibson, and Harlan Ellison. As a sci-fi sub-genre, cyberpunk is keenly interested in speculative technology and urban dystopias; which together provide fertile breeding grounds for vice, drugs, nefarious corporations, corruption, and social upheaval.

…I can think of a lot of ways to describe how cyberpunk worlds make me feel (sad, artificial, and lonely spring to mind). But “comforting” isn’t one of them. The following video essay argues that, if you tilt your head the right way, cyberpunk cities offer a kind of relief. Somewhere, on the other side of all that existential anxiety and angst … there’s a sense of bliss and relief. Amidst all the urban bustle and the sea of cables, you don’t mean a thing. Thank god….

(12) FAKING IT IS MAKING IT. Is artificial intelligence equal to the challenge of writing about Timothy the Talking Cat? Find out in Camestros Felapton’s post “AI-generated writing”.

…I’ve experimented with MidJourney to make images but how is the world of AI-generated text going? I’m trying out the LEX, a cross between a Google docs wordprocessor and an AI text generator….

(13) FIRST FIVE. Joe Stech of Compelling Science Fiction is ready to tell you his picks for the top science fiction short stories published in August.

These are the top 5 out of the 26 stories I read. August was a lighter month than July because some of the bimonthlies aren’t out in August…

“Polly and (Not) Charles Conquer the Solar System” by Carrie Vaughn is the winner.

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. While Camille DeAngelis was in LA for a screening of Bones and All, the film adaptation of her vegan subtext cannibal novel, she and Henry Lien made this video about why they love being vegan and how Henry has a magical fridge: “Henry Lien and the Narnia Fridge”.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Patrick McGuire, 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 10/11/22 Make Room Party, Make Room Party

(1) YOU WILL SCORE BETWEEN ZERO AND 2001. [Item by David Goldfarb.] LearnedLeague just had a One-Day Special quiz on the movie and novel 2001: A Space Odyssey. You can find the questions here. Be warned that if you haven’t seen the movie and read the book recently, you’ll find it pretty hard!

(2) STILL CHECKING IN. Publishers’ suit against the Internet Archive over “Controlled Digital Lending” nearing final submission: “Publishers, Internet Archive Ready for Summary Judgment Hearing in Book Scanning Case” reports Publishers Weekly.

… In their third and final reply brief, attorneys for the publishers reiterate their position that, on both the facts and the law, there is no viable fair use defense for the IA’s scanning and lending program, labeling the Internet Archive a “commercial” actor and CDL “a cynical branding exercise designed to repackage industrial-scale copyright infringement as a legitimate enterprise.”

Furthermore, the publishers dismiss the IA’s contention that CDL guards against publishers choosing not to make digital books available to libraries as a “delusion” and credits the publishers with “pioneering” a “thriving” licensed access library e-book market for just such a purpose, to make digital books available to libraries.

“In the end, Internet Archive asks this Court to adopt a radical proposition that would turn copyright law upside down by allowing IA to convert millions of physical books into e-book formats and distribute them worldwide without paying rights holders,” the publisher brief states. “Since the purpose of copyright is to incentivize the creation of new works, authors and publishers—not IA—hold the exclusive right to publish their books in all formats and distribute them via select channels.”

In their brief, Internet Archive lawyers reiterate their arguments that their scanning and lending program is fair use—and that the evidence will show no harm to the publishers market.

“All CDL does, and all it can ever do, is offer a limited, digital alternative to physically handing a book to a patron. Libraries deciding how to meet their patrons’ needs for digital access to books are not making a choice between paying e-book licensing fees or getting books for free. Libraries pay publishers under either approach,” the IA brief states. But with CDL as an option, “librarians can continue to maintain permanent collections of books, to preserve those books in their original form for future generations, and to lend them to patrons one at time, as they have always done,” the brief adds, meaning that “librarians can continue to advance the ultimate purpose of copyright: ‘the intellectual enrichment of the public.’”

And in a twist, the IA brief concludes by citing two recent headlines. First up, a controversial decision by Wiley—one of the plaintiffs in the case—to pull digital library access to its textbooks just before the start of the academic year.

“When they returned to campus this fall, students at Georgetown, George Washington University, and the other members of the Washington Research Library Consortium found 1,379 books published by Plaintiff Wiley could no longer be borrowed in electronic form from those institutions’ libraries,” IA lawyers told the court. “They disappeared from those libraries’ virtual shelves because Wiley decided to stop licensing them to the academic library market as of August 31, 2022. And according to Plaintiffs’ theory in this case, that means libraries could not loan them out digitally at all.”

The brief notes that Wiley restored the titles for the academic year after a public backlash. “But the message was sent,” IA lawyers state. “The ability of libraries to serve their patrons is subject to publishers’ whims.”

And tapping another recent headline, IA lawyers quoted a recent open letter organized by digital advocates Fight for the Future and signed by more than 400 authors that expressed fear of a world in which “libraries are reduced to a sort of Netflix or Spotify for books.”

“That is what this case is about,” IA lawyers conclude. “Whether the selection of books available from libraries digitally will be chosen by librarians, or instead determined by publishers’ unilateral and unreviewable licensing choices. This Court is being asked to decide whether copyright law gives publishers the power to dictate which books in a library’s collection can and cannot be loaned digitally.”…

(3) AD ASTRA. The Space Review’s Jeff Foust reviews a book by a NASA project manager about whether interstellar travel is possible.“Review: A Traveler’s Guide to the Stars”.

Tucked away on the inside of the adapter that connects the Orion spacecraft to the upper stage of the Space Launch System are ten cubesats, patiently awaiting launch on the Artemis 1 mission. One of those ten is Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) Scout, a NASA cubesat that will, after deployment, unfurl a solar sail and use that to send the spacecraft on a flyby of a near Earth asteroid in two years. NEA Scout was intended as a technology demonstrator for larger solar sails, explained Les Johnson, principal investigator for the solar sail part of the mission at NASA Marshall, during a talk at the Conference on Small Satellites in Utah in August.

Johnson’s vision, though, goes far beyond solar sails for cubesats. He has been involved for more than two decades on efforts related to interstellar travel, dating back to managing a short-lived NASA project on interstellar propulsion at the turn of the century. “I became a convert” to the field by that time NASA ended that project, he writes in the preface of his new book, A Traveler’s Guide to the Stars. “I came to believe that going to the stars is something that can actually be done.”…

(4) MEMORY LANE.  

2017 [By Cat Eldridge.] Just five years ago, Thor: Ragnarok premiered on this date. So why is it getting essayed tonight? Well y’all did nominate it for a Hugo at Worldcon 76. Anything that gets nominated is probably going to get written up here. And I like the Thor films. Still don’t why they haven’t made a film for Throg yet. He’s so cool, isn’t he?

Ok, back to the film now which had nothing to do with Throg. I hope. It is the sequel to Thor and Thor: The Dark World. And it was, may Odin have mercy on us, the seventeenth MCU film. There have been twenty-seven films to date with a run time of about two hours and a quarter.  And yes this was in that ballpark.

It was directed by Taika Waititi, his first full length film for Marvel though he had done some shorter works including the Team Thor direct-to-video mockumentary short films. The script was written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost —all three not surprisingly are heavily involved in MCU film production undertakings. 

I won’t detail the cast or the story as y’all with impeccable taste nominated for a Hugo at WorldCon 76 though it lost out to Wonder Woman.

Though it was expensive production at one eighty million, partly due to being done  entirely in Queensland, that in the end didn’t matter as the box office was eight hundred and fifty million dollars. That of course doesn’t count streaming and disc sales. 

Critical reception was, shall we say, fantastic. They all liked the light, over-the-top feel, with Hollywood Reporter noting “even the story’s central bad guys having silly fun, hammed to the hilt by Cate Blanchett and Jeff Goldblum.” And the San Francisco Chronicle reviewer said that the film “has confidence in its characters and in its own invention, and so it avoids repetition and stays fresh.” 

Rotten Tomatoes gives it a thunderous eighty-seven rating among audience reviewers. 

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 11, 1944 Patrick Parrinder, 78. I’ve a soft spot for the academics who plow our fields. This one settled upon H. G. Wells starting with H. G. Wells and H. G. Wells: The Critical Heritage nearly forty years ago all the way to H. G. Wells’s Perennial Time Machine that he wrote with Danièle Chatelain and George E. Slusser. 
  • Born October 11, 1960 Nicola Bryant, 62. Well known for her role as Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown, a companion to both the Fifth and Sixth Doctors. She also worked in “The Two Doctors” story so she appeared with the Second Doctor as well. Of course she’s done Big Finish Doctor Who audio dramas. Not to mention Trek fan fic as Lana in Star Trek Continues.
  • Born October 11, 1964 Michael J. Nelson, 58. Best known for his work on Mystery Science Theater. He was the head writer of the series for most of the show’s original eleven-year run, and spent half of that time as the on-air host. Bad genre films were a favorite target of him and his companions. Not that they don’t deserve it. 
  • Born October 11, 1965 Sean Patrick Flanery, 57. I really do think that his best work was on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and the films that followed. It certainly wasn’t as Bobby Dagen in Saw: The Final Chapter, a film best forgotten. (It gets a forty-one percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes, much better than I expected.) He appeared as Jake Greyman in Demon Hunter, another low budget horror film, and as John in The Evil Within. I see a pattern…
  • Born October 11, 1972 Nir Yaniv, 50. Author, editor, musician, and filmmaker. He founded a webzine for the Israeli Society for Science Fiction & Fantasy.  Currently, he’s the chief editor of Chalomot Be’aspamia, Israel’s only professionally printed genre magazine. His short fiction has appeared in Weird TalesApex Magazine and The Best of World SF. He co-wrote The Tel Aviv Dossier with Lavie Tidhar. 
  • Born October 11, 1972 Claudia Black, 50 . Best known for being Aeryn Sun in Farscape, Vala Mal Doran in Stargate SG-1 and Sharon “Shazza” Montgomery in Pitch Black. She also had a recurring role as Dahlia in The Originals and starred as Dr. Sabine Lommers in The CW’s Containment series.
  • Born October 11, 1976 Emily Deschanel, 46. Temperance “Bones” Brennan in Bones which crossed over with Sleepy Hollow twice (she visited the latter once) and she had a bit part on Spider-Man 2. More notably she was Pam Asbury in Stephen King’s Rose Red series. More notably she was Pam Asbury in Stephen King’s Rose Red series. Actually the forensic science on Bones is genre, isn’t it? 

(6) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! features a very catty comment.

(7) DC UPS THEIR STREAMING DIGITAL COMICS OFFERING. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Hot off the main web site.

—OK, here’s the info from DC—

DC UNIVERSE INFINITE is getting even better with the introduction of the brand-new ULTRA tier launching today! DC UNIVERSE INFINITE ULTRA subscribers will be able to read the latest releases from DC just one month after they are available in comic shops. Starting today, ULTRA tier members can read titles like Black Adam #1-4, Batman: Beyond the White Knight #1-4, Flashpoint Beyond #1-5, The Nice House on the Lake #1-9, and much, much more!

Plus, starting in mid-November, ULTRA subscribers can also read more than 5,000 exclusive titles from Vertigo, DC Black Label and Collected Editions from DC including Sandman Presents: Dead Boy Detectives, 100 Bullets, and American Vampire, and more.

ULTRA tier is available for a special limited-time introductory price of $99.99 USD a year in the US, $119.99 CAN in Canada, $134.99 AUD in Australia, $134.99 NZD in New Zealand and £72.99 BPS in the U.K., plus applicable taxes. The introductory pricing rate is available until November 28, 2022, and remains valid as long as your ULTRA Annual  subscription is in good standing and you do not cancel. Current DC UNIVERSE INFINITE subscribers can upgrade their monthly and annual subscriptions to ULTRA.

— and here’s the bullet-list version, via https://www.dc.com/ultra 

ENJOY THE BENEFITS OF YOUR DC UNIVERSE INFINITE ULTRA MEMBERSHIP!

• SPECIAL LIMITED-TIME INTRODUCTORY PRICE* ($99 a year in the US, $119.99 CAN in Canada, $134.99 AUD in Australia, $134.99 NZD in New Zealand and £72.99 BPS in the U.K.)

• Comics library expands from 27000 to 32000+ books by mid-November 2022 accessible anytime anywhere

• New comics available just 30 days after print release

• Expanded Vertigo and Black Label and DC Collected Edition catalogs available only with Ultra membership starting in mid-November 2022

• Free DC collectible comic exclusive to Ultra subscribers***

• Access to Ultra member-only events and discounts

• 7-day FREE trial**

Dern notes, the current DC Universe offering is $74.99/year or $7.99/month, so an affordable bump (particularly if I sign up soon.)

Dern also notes:

I’ve been on DCUniverse since it started (originally, to watch Doom Patrol and Titans, which are now instead on HBO Max). I continue to enjoy reading the not-quite-new comics (having an iPad Pro 12.9″ helps!).

That said, (a) there seems like a lot of DC comics that don’t get ever get posted (I could be wrong), and (b) DC has, over the past year, like Marvel, gone to a lot of work to make search/back-issue much worse, grumble. Still, for (DC) comic readers, a deal that can’t be beat.

IGN also says: “DC Universe Infinite Adds ‘Ultra’ Subscription Tier With 5000 More Comics”.

DC is also making one addition to the service [including the existing level] that will be available to all subscription types. YA graphic novels like Teen Titans: Beast Boy Loves Raven and Nubia: Real One, as well as 100 classic issues of MAD Magazine, are live now on the app.

DPD comments, These YA graphic novels are quite good. (There’s a bunch already available via HooplaDigita..com, so, free if you’ve got a card for a Hoopla-using public library.)

Also, there’s a physical annual freebie. Via Graphic Policy: “NYCC 2022: DC announces DC Universe Infinite Ultra”.

Ultra subscribers will be eligible to receive one free physical comic book (based on availability) when they subscribe, upgrade or renew their membership.

[more pricing deets]

The introductory pricing rate is available until November 28, 2022, and remains valid as long as your Ultra Annual subscription is in good standing and you do not cancel. Current DC Universe Infinite subscribers can upgrade their monthly and annual subscriptions to Ultra.

(8) READING RECOMMENDATIONS. In Joe Stech’s latest “Compelling Science Fiction Newsletter” he ranks and reviews the top 5 out of the 26 stories he read that were published in August. Curious what is number one on his list? Click the link!

(9) TUNE IN. Otto Penzler of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York will be on ABC’s Good Morning America on Thursday.

(10) LOVE IS LOVELIER THE FOURTH TIME AROUND. Camestros Felapton finds a few things to like in spite of it all: “Review: The Matrix Resurrections”.

…There are no new big ideas in this fourth film and the signature effects and visual style have become cliches in the meantime. However, there are a number of things to like about the film. The first and most obvious is that it is fun to through Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss back into their roles. Gen-X nostalgia is part of what the film is offering, a film made by mid-1960s babies for the same….

(11) POIROT AND COMPANY. It’s not that Tina Fey can’t act, it’s that I’ve seen her in so many modern comedies that it will seem strange to see her in a period mystery. “Kenneth Branagh’s Third Hercule Poirot Film ‘A Haunting in Venice’ Casts Tina Fey, Jamie Dornan, Michelle Yeoh and More” at Variety.

…Set in post-WWII Venice on All Hallows’ Eve, the film follows another mystery featuring the celebrated sleuth Poirot. Inspired by Christie’s “Hallowe’en Party,” the now retired and living in self-imposed exile Poirot reluctantly attends a séance at a haunted palazzo when one of the guests is murdered, and the former detective must once again find out who did it….

(12) HANDMADE, GET IT? Food & Wine admires the results when “Martha Stewart Collaborates with Liquid Death Water on New Candle”.

… “I recently heard about an interesting new beverage company called Liquid Death,” Stewart says in a gleefully gory promo video. “Together we teamed up to create an utterly delightful candle. A lot of people are asking me how we made them so realistic. Well, it’s not easy: each one is made by hand.”…

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Shovel Knight Dig,” Fandom Games says this game is the latest in a retro franchise that tries to duplicate the 16-bt games of 30 years ago.  But to help the guy finish his dig before he faces “the buzz saw of death” you’ll have to buy lots of stuff–so much that this game has a “trickle-down economy.”  “You want A material, you’ll have to pay for it,” the narrator says.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/6/22 All Of The Riverworld Ramblers Are Losing Their Grails

(1) A LITTLE SMACK. Deadline takes notes as “Neil Gaiman Slaps Back At Elon Musk For Criticizing ‘LOTR: The Rings Of Power’”.

…Gaiman’s comment came after Musk slammed Amazon’s LOTR: The Rings Of Power, saying “Tolkien is turning over his grave,” as Musk is attempting to exit his proposed $44BN takeover of Twitter and amid an ongoing feud with Amazon founder and executive chairman Jeff Bezos.

(2) DANISH AUTHOR IN NY. The Community Bookstore in Brooklyn, NY will host “Olga Ravn presents ‘The Employees’” on Friday, September 30 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Tickets for sale at the link.

Shortlisted for the International Booker prize, and the Ursula K. Le Guin Prize, The Employees reshuffles a sci-fi voyage into a riotously original existential nightmare.

Olga Ravn’s prose is chilling, crackling, exhilarating, and foreboding. The Employees probes into what makes us human, while delivering a hilariously stinging critique of life governed by the logic of productivity.

(3) FREE READ. Sunday Morning Transport offers a free story: “About what you keep, what you mend, and what you throw away,” by Elizabeth Bear: “The Part You Throw Away”.

(4) SOURCES OF TERROR. Meg Elison promotes her new novel Number One Fan on CrimeReads.“Why Are Stories of Captivity and Abduction So Extraordinarily Terrifying?”

…Part of the reason for the power of captivity is something called the “castle doctrine.” This is an underpinning of law, dating back to the English document known as the Magna Carta. This concept and subsequent iterations of law made the home a sacrosanct place, providing the bedrock from which we derive our rights to deny search and seizure without a warrant, to remove anyone we wish from our homes, and to defend ourselves at home using force, including deadly force. This concept and the laws formed around it make any domicile, even a van or a bus a person might live in, a legally protected place that no one may enter or inspect without cause and (usually) a judicial order. As much as this is a crucial piece of our right to privacy (but not in your own womb! ha!) it also shrouds and protects perpetrators of home-based violence: domestic and child abuse, incest, and this kind of home-grown captivity….

(5) BRITISH ACADEMY BOOK PRIZE. The shortlist for the British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding 2022 is comprised of six books. The international book prize, worth £25,000, rewards and celebrates the best works of non-fiction that have contributed to public understanding of world cultures and their interaction.

  • The Invention of Miracles: Language, Power, and Alexander Graham Bell’s Quest to End Deafness by Katie Booth (Scribe UK)
  • Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich by Harald Jähner (WH Allen/Ebury Publishing)
  • Osebol: Voices from a Swedish Village by Marit Kapla (Allen Lane)
  • Horizons: A Global History of Science by James Poskett (Viking)
  • When Women Kill: Four Crimes Retold by Alia Trabucco Zerán (And Other Stories)
  • Kingdom of Characters: A Tale of Language, Obsession, and Genius in Modern China by Jing Tsu (Allen Lane)

(6) WORLDCON CHAIRS PHOTO SESSION. Recorded at Chicon 8.

(7) PETER STRAUB (1943-2022). Author Peter Straub died September 4 at the age of 79. The New York Times obituary is here. The Guardian notes that Straub’s many novels ranged from his debut horror novel Julia in 1975 – later filmed as The Haunting of Julia – to the 2010 novel A Dark Matter and The Talisman, which he co-wrote with Stephen King.

He told Salon in 2016, “I like the worst characters, I like the villain. You can almost always tell there’s a lot of imaginative sympathy for them on my part. Once I start thinking about how they got that way I feel empathy and compassion. I don’t want to kill them off.” 

Straub won four World Fantasy Awards and ten Bram Stoker Awards. He received World Fantasy and Bram Stoker Life Achievement awards, was named an International Horror Guilds Living Legend, and a World Horror Grandmaster.

(8) MEMORY LANE.  

1999 [By Cat Eldridge.]  Speaking of most stellar novels, there’s the matter of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. There are two novels that I think Gaiman did really well, this and Neverwhere. This is his best novel and I’ll say why now. (Me? Opinionated? Why yes!) 

SPOILERS ABOUND LIKE SPRITES IN THE MOONLIGHT

Stardust was written twenty-three years ago, starting off with the story set in late April 1839, as John William Draper had just photographed the Moon and Charles Dickens was serializing Oliver Twist, but almost all of the book takes place seventeen years later, starting around October 1856.

The novel set in the village of Wall. Once every nine years an opening to Fairy occurs on All Hallows’ Eve. Naturally a young man will fall in love with what he thinks is a young woman. Who isn’t. Really she isn’t. Trust me on this plot point. 

We have really evil witch-queens, near immortal rulers of vast castles delightfully named Stormhold, quests to the end of the world or nearly so. All deliciously told by Gaiman as though it was a fairy tale. There’s even unicorns. And pirates! 

Yes, and true love won out in the end as it should. 

END OF SPOILERS. NO MORE SPOILERS FOR NOW. MAYBE.

The best edition of this book is the one illustrated by Charles Vess that should’ve won a Hugo but didn’t. Nor did Stardust itself. The film did win one most deservingly at Denvention 3.  Oh and Neil himself narrates the audio version! 

I’ve read both the unadorned text version and the version with Vess artwork, or listened to it, at least a half dozen times now, and it always delights me every time that I do. No, I’ve not seen the film, nor will I ever see it following my long standing policy of never seeing any video version of books that I really, really like. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 6, 1904 Groff Conklin. He edited some forty anthologies of genre fiction starting with The Best of Science Fiction from Crown Publishers in 1946 to Seven Trips Through Time and Space on Fawcett Gold in 1968. The contents are a mix of the obscure and well known as Heinlein, Niven, Simak, Dahl, Sturgeon, Lovecraft and Bradbury show up there. (Died 1968.)
  • Born September 6, 1943 Roger Waters, 79. Ok Pink Floyd is definitely genre and I’m no longer doing any substances that aid in my judgement thereof. The Wall of course. And The Division Bell with its themes of communication. And Happy Birthday Roger!
  • Born September 6, 1946 Hal Haag. Baltimore-area fan who found fandom in the early Eighties and who chaired Balticon 25 and Balticon 35 and worked on Balticon and quite a number of regionals. He Co-founded BWSMOF (Baltimore/Washington SMOFs) along with Inge Heyer from Shore Leave, a regional organization whose purpose it is to discuss running regional conventions of all types. The Baltimore Science Fiction Society put together a very touching memorial site which you can see here. (Died 2006.)
  • Born September 6, 1953 Patti Yasutake, 69. Best-known for her portrayal of Nurse Alyssa Ogawa in the Trek universe where she had a recurring role on Next Generation and showed up in Star Trek Generations and Star Trek First Contact. In doing these Birthdays, I consult a number of sites. Several of them declared that her character ended her time as a Doctor. Not true but made for a nice coda on her story.
  • Born September 6, 1972 China Miéville, 50. My favorite novels by him? The City & The City is the one I’ve re-read the most, followed closely by Kraken. Scariest by him? Oh, that’d King Rat by a long shot.  And I’ll admit the dialect he used in Un Lun Dun frustrated me enough that I gave up on it. I’ll hold strongly that the New Crobuzon series doesn’t date as well as some of his other fiction does. His Hugo history is a one long one. His first nomination at ConJosé for Perdido Street Station was followed by The Scar at Torcon 3. He picked up another nomination at interaction for Iron Council, and his only win at Aussiecon 4 for The City & The City which was shared Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl. He has two more nominations to date, Embassytown at Chicon 7 and “This Census-Taker” novella at Worldcon 75. 
  • Born September 6, 1958 Michael Winslow, 64. Though he might bear notice as the comically voiced Radar Technician in Space Balls, I’m more interested that his first genre role of significance was giving voice to Mogwai, and the other gremlins in Gremlins, a role he didn’t reprise for the second Gremlins film. 
  • Born September 6, 1972 Idris Elba, 50. Heimdall in the Thor franchise, as well as the Avengers franchise. First genre role was as Captain Janek in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and later he was in Pacific Rim as Stacker Pentecost. And let’s not forget him as the Big Bad as Krall in Star Trek: Beyond
  • Born September 6, 1976 Robin Atkin Downes, 46. Though he’s made his living being a voice actor in myriad video games and animated series, one of his first acting roles was as the rogue telepath Byron on Babylon 5. He later shows up as the Demon of Illusion in the “Chick Flick” episode of Charmed and he’s got an uncredited though apparently known role as Pockla in the “Dead End” episode of Angel. Ditto for Repo Men as well. He does get as the voice of Edward in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.
  • Born September 6, 1976 Naomie Harris, 46. She’s Eve Moneypenny in SkyfallSpectre and  No Time to Die. This was the first time Moneypenny had a first name.  No word if she’ll be in Bullets for Winter, the next Bond film which has been announced.  She also appeared in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as Tia Dalma. In the Marvel Universe, she was Frances Barrison / Shriek in the Spider-Man centric Venom: Let There Be Carnage. And lastly I’ll note she played Elizabeth Lavenza in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at the National Theatre.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) THE WINNER GETS A T-SHIRT. Joe Stech will begin giving the Compelling Science Fiction Appreciation Award every month. See what it takes to win.

Ever since Compelling Science Fiction stopped publishing short stories I’ve been looking for ways to engage with the science fiction community that don’t involve me reading a submission queue of 500 stories/month. I’m still thinking about different approaches, but in the meantime I’m announcing a fun project: every month I’m going to send a t-shirt to the author that writes the short story that scores the highest on the set of axes that best represent Compelling Science Fiction (plausibility/novelty/entertainment).

(12) COMPELLING SCIENCE FICTION T-SHIRT DESIGN POLL. Joe Stech is also going to print up some more of the original Compelling Science Fiction shirts, but also wants to create a new design.

Below are eight different astronaut designs that I think reflect Compelling Science Fiction’s lack of taking itself too seriously, and I’d love it if you’d tell me your favorite. Please ask your friends too, if your friends have good taste! Here’s the poll.

(13) A TRUCE WITH BEAVERS. [Item by Daniel Dern.] My favorite informative fact from the article: “They’re wild, swimming rodents the size of basset hounds.” “It Was War. Then, a Rancher’s Truce With Some Pesky Beavers Paid Off.”

Horace Smith blew up a lot of beaver dams in his life.

A rancher here in northeastern Nevada, he waged war against the animals, frequently with dynamite. Not from meanness or cruelty; it was a struggle over water. Mr. Smith blamed beavers for flooding some parts of his property, Cottonwood Ranch, and drying out others.

But his son Agee, who eventually took over the ranch, is making peace. And he says welcoming beavers to work on the land is one of the best things he’s done.

“They’re very controversial still,” said Mr. Smith, whose father died in 2014. “But it’s getting better. People are starting to wake up.”

As global warming intensifies droughts, floods and wildfires, Mr. Smith has become one of a growing number of ranchers, scientists and other “beaver believers” who see the creatures not only as helpers, but as furry weapons of climate resilience.

Last year, when Nevada suffered one of the worst droughts on record, beaver pools kept his cattle with enough water. When rains came strangely hard and fast, the vast network of dams slowed a torrent of water raging down the mountain, protecting his hay crop. And with the beavers’ help, creeks have widened into wetlands that run through the sagebrush desert, cleaning water, birthing new meadows and creating a buffer against wildfires.

…“We need to get beavers back to work,” Wade Crowfoot, California’s secretary of natural resources, said in a webinar this year. “Full employment for beavers.” (Beaver believers like to note that the animals work for free.)…

(4) VERY CAREFULLY. “Once they had breathed our air, germs which no longer affect us began to kill them. The end came swiftly. All over the world, their machines began to stop and fall.” You know where that line comes from. And we don’t want to be on the receiving end. “To Prevent a Martian Plague, NASA Needs to Build a Very Special Lab” reports the New York Times.  

…“It is possible that on Mars there are pathogens,” [Carl Sagan] wrote, “organisms which, if transported to the terrestrial environment, might do enormous biological damage — a Martian plague.”

Michael Crichton imagined a related scenario in his novel “The Andromeda Strain.”

Such situations, in which extraterrestrial samples contain dangerous tagalong organisms, are examples of backward contamination, or the risk of material from other worlds harming Earth’s biosphere.

“The likelihood that such pathogens exist is probably small,” Sagan wrote, “but we cannot take even a small risk with a billion lives.”

Scientists have long considered Sagan’s warnings in mostly hypothetical terms. But over the approaching decade, they will start to act concretely on backward contamination risks. NASA and the European Space Agency are gearing up for a shared mission called Mars Sample Return. A rover on the red planet is currently scooping up material that will be collected by other spacecraft and eventually returned to Earth.

No one can say for sure that such material will not contain tiny Martians. If it does, no one can yet say for sure they are not harmful to Earthlings.

With such concerns in mind, NASA must act as if samples from Mars could spawn the next pandemic. “Because it is not a zero-percent chance, we are doing our due diligence to make sure that there’s no possibility of contamination,” said Andrea Harrington, the Mars sample curator for NASA. Thus, the agency plans to handle the returned samples similarly to how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention handles ebola: carefully….

(15) WHAT’S BREWING? Make explains how “This Elven Architecture Diorama Makes A Perfect Cup Of Tea”. It’s a sort of steampunk encounter with Rivendell.

…There are multiple options available, for different blends of tea and temperatures for steeping. With a quick press of a button, this elven village hops to life measuring out tea leaves, depositing them into the tea ball, heating water and dispensing it into the cup, then dunking the tea ball for the prescribed amount of time, then depositing it on a tiny coaster for disposal. 

At the end of the process, Samuel is left with a perfect cup of tea, and a view that is absolutely wonderful.

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

Pixel Scroll 8/12/22 The Hamster, My Friend, Is Scrolling In The Solar Wind

(1) RUSHDIE HOSPITALIZED AFTER ATTACK. Salman Ruhdie was attacked and stabbed at least twice while speaking onstage this morning in upstate New York. He was airlifted to a hospital and taken to surgery. The CNN story says:

The suspect jumped onto the stage and stabbed Rushdie at least once in the neck and at least once in the abdomen, state police said. Staff and audience members rushed the suspect and put him on the ground before a state trooper took the attacked into custody, police said.

… Henry Reese, co-founder of the Pittsburgh nonprofit City of Asylum, who was scheduled to join Rushdie in discussion, was taken to a hospital and treated for a facial injury and released, state police said. The organization was founded to “provide sanctuary in Pittsburgh to writers exiled under threat of persecution,” according to the Chautauqua Institution’s website.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul told reporters Friday a state trooper “stood up and saved (Rushdie’s) life and protected him as well as the moderator who was attacked as well.

The story did not have an update about Rushdie’s condition.

There is now an update from Publishing Perspectives:

Salman Rushdie’s agent, Andrew Wylie, has told The New York Times’ Elizabeth A. Harris, “The news is not good. Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.”

Wylie’s information, emailed to Harris, is the first description of the condition of the author following surgery….

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports “Stabbing sends ripples of ‘shock and horror’ through the literary world.”

Literary figures and public officials said that they were shocked by the news that the author Salman Rushdie had been stabbed in the neck on Friday morning while onstage to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institute in western New York.

“We cannot immediately think of any comparable incident of a public violent attack on a writer during a literary event here in the United States,” said Suzanne Nossel, the chief executive officer of the nonprofit literary organization PEN America, who noted that the motivations for the attack and Mr. Rushdie’s current condition were unknown as of Friday late morning.

Mr. Rushdie is a former president of PEN America, which advocates for writers’ freedom of expression around the world.

She said in a statement that the organization’s members were “reeling from shock and horror.”

Here is Neil Gaiman’s response on Twitter.

(2) PINCH-HITTER. Congratulations to Abigail Nussbaum, who was invited to cover for the Guardian‘s regular SFF columnist, Lisa Tuttle. You can see her reviews here at the Guardian.

…I was a bit nervous about the experience—five books is a big commitment of time and energy, and readers of this blog know that I’m not accustomed to summing up my thoughts on anything in 200 words or less. But I ended up having a lot of fun, mainly because the books discussed were a varied bunch, several of which weren’t even on my radar before the column’s editor, Justine Jordan, suggested them.

The column discusses The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean, a twist on the vampire story that has more than a little of The Handmaid’s Tale in its DNA. The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay, a horror author whom I’ve been hearing good things about for years, so it was great to have an opportunity to sample his stuff. Extinction by Bradley Somer, part of the rising tide of climate fiction we’ve been seeing in recent years, but with a very interesting and original approach. The Women Could Fly by Megan Giddings, a story about witches that combines a magical realist tone with pressing social issues. And The Moonday Letters by Emmi Itäranta, a whirlwind tour of the solar system reminiscent of Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 but with a slant all its own. I’ll have more to say about that last book in the near future, but all five are worth a look….

(3) OVERDRAWN AT THE BLUE CHECKMARK. From one of my favorite authors, Robert Crais:

(4) 2022 WORLDCON ADDS MONKEYPOX POLICY. In addition to its COVID-19 Policy, Chicon 8 now has issued a Monkeypox Policy. More details at the link.

On Aug. 1, 2022, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker declared Monkeypox a public health emergency in the state of Illinois, in order to rapidly mobilize all available public health resources to prevent and treat Monkeypox and ensure smooth coordination at all levels of government….

(5) CATHEDRALS OF BOOKS. With the help of DALL-E, Joe Stech is designing “Future Libraries”. He shares many examples in his latest Compelling Science Fiction Newsletter.

Many years ago I spent some time learning to paint and sketch, and got halfway decent (to the point where I could at least convey a little bit of what was in my head, albeit clumsily). The amount of time it took me to draw something halfway decent was fairly incredible, and after I stopped drawing regularly my meager skillset deteriorated. I still remember how it felt to finish a sketch though, and generative art models like DALL-E 2 have helped me recapture that joy with a much smaller time investment….

(6) DOINK-DOINK. Meanwhile, back on the courthouse steps in New York: “Frank Miller Sues Widow of Comics Magazine Editor for the Return of Artworks”.

The comic writer and artist Frank Miller is suing the widow and the estate of a comics magazine founder over two pieces of promotional art he created that she was trying to sell at auction. The art, which appeared on covers of David Anthony Kraft’s magazine Comics Interview in the 1980s, includes an early depiction of Batman and a female Robin — from the 1986 The Dark Knight Returns series — and is potentially a valuable collectible.

The lawsuit seeks the return of the Batman piece, which was used on the cover of Comics Interview No. 31 in 1986, as well as art depicting the title character of Miller’s 1983 Ronin series. He had sent both to Kraft for his use in the publication; the Ronin artwork was used as the cover of Comics Interview No. 2 in 1983. Miller contended in the court papers that he and Kraft agreed they were on loan, citing “custom and usage in the trade at the time,” and that he made repeated requests for their return….

(7) SEEKING FANHISTORIC PHOTOS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] This year’s DeepSouthCon is working on a project to create a photo gallery of past winners of the Rebel and Phoenix Awards.

We are looking for contributions from anyone who may have such photos. Digital files are preferred, obviously. We’d rather not be responsible for receiving your one-of-a-kind print photo and getting it back to you in one piece. The mail and other delivery services are more than capable of ripping any given package to shreds.

The gold standard would be a photo of the person holding the award at time of presentation or shortly after. We’re also happy to take more contemporary photos taken months, days, years, or decades later. If no such photo is available, we’re also happy to take photos of the winners themselves, just the award, or one of each.

Mike Kennedy, Co-chair, DeepSouthCon 60

(8) ON THE SCALES. Cora Buhlert has a rundown on the creators and works on the latest Dragon Awards ballot: “The 2022 Dragon Award Finalists Look Really Good… With One Odd Exception”.

…Anyway, the finalists for the 2022 Dragon Awards were announced today and the ballot looks really good with only a single WTF? finalist (more on that later) and a lot of popular and well regarded works on the ballot. This confirms a trend that we’ve seen in the past three years, namely that the Dragon Awards are steadily moving towards the award for widely popular SFF works that they were initially conceived to be, as the voter base broadens and more people become aware of the award, nominate and vote for their favourites. It’s a far cry from the early years of the Dragon Awards, where the finalists were dominated by Sad and Rabid Puppies, avid self-promoters and Kindle Unlimited content mills with a few broadly popular books mixed in….

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

2006 [By Cat Eldridge.]ONCE THERE WAS A CHILD WHOSE FACE WAS LIKE THE NEW MOON SHINING on cypress trees and the feathers of waterbirds. She was a strange child, full of secrets. She would sit alone in the great Palace Garden on winter nights, pressing her hands into the snow and watching it melt under her heat. She wore a crown of garlic greens and wisteria; she drank from the silver fountains studded with lapis; she ate cold pears under a canopy of pines on rainy afternoons.” — First words of The Orphan’s Tales: in the Night Garden

There are works that I fall in love from the first words. Catherine Valente’s The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden is one of those works. Well actually it was from the cover art by Michael Kaluta that I fell in love. 

I don’t remember if it came out before or after I had coffee with her in a coffeehouse in the east coast Portland where we both live. (I was married and living on the mainland. She was single and living on Peaks Island. I’m now single and still living on the mainland; she’s married and on Peaks as far I know with her first child. It was an interesting conversation.)

I do remember that she got an iMac that I was no longer using as a result of that meeting, one of the aquarium style ones. Blue I think. I’m sure you’ve read fiction that was written on it.

Now back to the books. It stunned me of the non-linear nature of them which was quire thrilling. Living  in a palace garden, a young girl keeps telling stories to a inquisitive prince: impossible feats and unknown-to-him histories of peoples long gone which weave through each other again and again and again, meeting only in the telling of her stories. Inked on her tattooed eyelids, each of these tales is a intriguing piece in the puzzle of the girl’s own lost history.

I can’t call either a novel in the traditional sense as they really aren’t. They’re something much more complex. What they are is Valente’s take off the 1001 nights but keep in mind that the 1001 nights stories weren’t connected to each other and these are, and so it is a spectacular undertaking of that concept, weaving stories within stories within stories myriad times over. It takes careful paying attention to catch all the connections. 

So what we have here is quite delightful and they are matched up very up by well by the artwork by Michael Kaluta. The cover art for both is by him so that gives you an ample idea of what he does on the inside though those are all black and white. There are hundreds of drawings within, each appropriate to the story you are reading. One of my favorite illustrations is in the prelude of a gaggle of geese. Simple but very cute.

They both won the Mythopoetic Award and the first an Otherwise Award.

I’ve spent many a Winter night reading these. They are wonderful and I really wish they’d been made into an audiobook as they’d be perfect that way. And they really, really do deserve for some specialty press like Subterranean to publish a hardcover edition of them, though I expect getting the rights to the illustrations from Random House could be difficult to say the least. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 12, 1881 Cecil B. DeMille. Yes, you think of him for such films as Cleopatra and The Ten Commandments, but he actually did some important work in our genre. When Worlds Collide and War of The Worlds were films which he executive produced. (Died 1959.)
  • Born August 12, 1894 Dick Calkins. He’s best remembered for being the first artist to draw the Buck Rogers comic strip. He also wrote scripts for the Buck Rogers radio program. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Complete Newspaper Dailies in eight volumes on Hermes Press collects these strips.  They’re one hundred and fifty dollars a volume. (Died 1962.)
  • Born August 12, 1929 John Bluthal. He was Von Neidel in The Mouse on the Moon which sounds silly and fun. He’s in Casino Royale as both a Casino Doorman and a MI5 Man. (Why pay the Union salaries?) He had roles in films best forgotten such as Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World. (Really. Don’t ask.) And he did play a blind beggar in The Return of the Pink Panther as well, and his last genre role was as Professor Pacoli in the beloved Fifth Element. Lest I forget, he voiced Commander Wilbur Zero, Jock Campbell and other characters in Fireball XL5. (Died 2018.)
  • Born August 12, 1931 William Goldman. Writer of The Princess Bride which won a Hugo at Nolacon II and which he adapted for the film. He also wrote Magic, a deliciously chilling horror novel. He wrote the original Stepford Wives script as well as Steven King’s King’s Hearts in Atlantis and Misery as well. He was hired to adapt “Flowers for Algernon” as a screenplay but the story goes that Cliff Robertson intensely disliked his screenplay and it was discarded for one by Stirling Silliphant that became Charly. (Died 2018.)
  • Born August 12, 1947 John Nathan-Turner. He produced Doctor Who from 1980 until it was cancelled in 1989. He finished as the longest-serving Doctor Who producer. He cast Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy as the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors. Other than Doctor Who, he had a single production credit, the K-9 and Company: A Girl’s Best Friend film which you can currently find on BritBox which definitely makes sense. He wrote two books, Doctor Who – The TARDIS Inside Out and Doctor Who: The Companions. He would die of a massive infection just a year before the announcement the show was being revived. The Universe often sucks.  (Died 2002.)
  • Born August 12, 1960 Brenda Cooper, 62. Best known for her YA Silver Ship series of which The Silver Ship and the Sea won an Endeavour Award, and her Edge of Dark novel won another such Award. She co-authored Building Harlequin’s Moon with Larry Niven, and a fair amount of short fiction with him. She has a lot of short fiction, much collected in Beyond the Waterfall Door: Stories of the High Hills and Cracking the Sky. She’s well-stocked at the usual suspects.
  • Born August 12, 1966 Brian Evenson, 56. Ok, I consider him a horror writer (go ahead, disagree) and his Song for the Unraveling of the World collection did win a Shirley Jackson Award though it also won a World Fantasy Award as well. He received an International Horror Guild Award for his Wavering Knife collection. He even co-authored a novel with Rob Zombie, The Lords of Salem. Which definitely puts him on the horror side of things, doesn’t it?
  • Born August 12, 1992 Cara Jocelyn Delevingne, 30. Her first genre role was as a mermaid in Pan. She then shows up in James Gunn’s rather excellent Suicide Squad as June Moone / Enchantress, and in the (oh god why did they make this) Valerian and in the City of a Thousand Planets as Laureline. She was also in Carnival Row as Vignette Stonemoss. It was a fantasy noir series on Amazon Prime which sounds like it has the potential to be interesting.

(11) LEARN FROM AN EXPERT. Here is Cat Rambo’s advice about using social media. Thread starts here.

At the end of the list:

(12) THEY DID THE MONSTER CA$H. NPR is there when “General Mills brings back Franken Berry, Count Chocula, Boo Berry, Frute Brute”.

General Mills is releasing four limited-edition Monster Cereals boxes as part of a new collaboration with pop artist KAWS.

Franken Berry, Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Frute Brute are back for this year’s seasonal release. Fans are particularly excited about the appearance of Frute Brute, which is available for the first time since 2013.

…Franken Berry and Count Chocula now bear the bone-shaped ears seen in many of KAWS’ works. They also have KAWS’ signature Xed-out eyes, as do Boo Berry and Frute Brute. The boxes have been reimagined following the same design as the original boxes, with an illustration of each character and a photo of the cereal in a bowl, all set on a blank white background….

(13) BIGGER THAN SATURN. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.]  In today’s Science: “Starship will be the biggest rocket ever. Are space scientists ready to take advantage of it?”

Jennifer Heldmann, a planetary scien-tist at NASA’s Ames Research Centre…   wants to send another rocket to probe lunar ice—but not on a one-way trip. She has her eye on Starship, a behemoth under development by private rocket company SpaceX that would be the largest flying object the world has ever seen. With Starship, Heldmann could send 100 tons to the Moon, more than twice the lunar payload of the Saturn V, the work-horse of the Apollo missions.

(14) FAN-MADE FF TRAILER. “Fantastic Four: Krasinski, Blunt and Efron stun in jaw-dropping trailer” declares Fansided.

…This awesome fan-made concept trailer from Stryder HD imagines what a Fantastic Four movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe could be about, showcasing how Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm all become their heroic alter-egos….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Book of Boba Fett Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says in The Book of Boba Fett that Boba Fett is the worst crime boss in the galaxy.  But the writer explains he got bored and wrote a couple of episodes of The Mandalorian instead.  The producer gets excited when he hears Baby Yoda is in it, because Baby Yoda is “my little green money baby.”  But then we go back to Baba Fett and how he fights someone who fans of The Clone Wars will recognize while everyone else will be confused.  So the producer concludes, “at least we have some content.”

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

Pixel Scroll 8/4/22 Engine Summertime, And The Scrolling Is Easy

(1) BIDDING WILF FAREWELL. Radio Times profiles the late actor in “Bernard Cribbins: How he brought magic to Doctor Who”.

…It was when Howard Attfield, who’d played Donna’s dad in The Runaway Bride, passed away before his scenes could be completed on 2008 episode Partners in Crime that Russell T Davies hit upon the idea of bringing in Cribbins as Donna’s gramps (Cribbins re-filmed the scenes that Attfield had already completed).

With any other actor it would have taken fans time to fall in love, but RTD was clearly banking on 40-plus years’ worth of affection for Cribbins. And it’s testament to how scene-stealing the actor was in that episode that Wilf pops up more and more as the 2008 series goes on. He’s heartbreaking in alternate reality episode Turn Left, as he watches immigrants being forcefully taken away by the army. “Labour camps, that’s what they called them last time,” he says, tearfully. “It’s happening again.”…

(2) SIT ON IT. The Los Angeles County Natural History Museum will be exhibiting “House of the Dragon:The Targaryen Dynasty” from August 5-September 7.

The Natural History Museum and HBO Max present a new, one-of-a-kind experience exploring the lives and legends of the HBO original series House of the Dragon. Visit the mythical world of Westeros, the Targaryen Dynasty, and the dragons that ruled beside them. Attendees will be the first to see new costumes and props from the series and have the chance to sit on a replica of the new Iron Throne.

Through related digital and public programming, we will also explore the relationship between dragons and the real-life creatures that may have inspired them.

(3) A NOVEL INTERPRETATION. If the government’s suit to keep Penguin Random House from buying a competitor, Simon & Schuster, is successful, does that actually help Amazon? “The Books Merger That’s About Amazon” (limited to New York Times subscribers).  

…This case, which is about much more than books and the earnings of big-name authors, is another example of the debate over how to handle large companies — including the biggest digital powers — that shape our world.

The elephant in the room is Amazon. Book publishers want to become bigger and stronger partly to have more leverage over Amazon, by far the largest seller of books in the United States. One version of Penguin Random House’s strategy boils down to this: Our book publishing monopoly is the best defense against Amazon’s book selling monopoly.

As the dominant way Americans find and buy books, Amazon can, in theory, steer people to titles that generate more income for the company. If authors or publishers don’t want their books sold on Amazon, they may disappear into obscurity, or counterfeits may proliferate. But if the publisher is big enough, the theory goes, then it has leverage over Amazon to stock books on the prices and terms the publisher prefers.

“Their argument is in order to protect the market from monopolization by Amazon, we’re going to monopolize the market,” said Barry Lynn, the executive director of the Open Markets Institute, an organization that wants tougher antitrust laws and enforcement….

(4) WHO PAINTED THOSE GREEN HILLS OF EARTH? In the Saturday Evening Post: “The Art of the Post: Illustrator Fred Ludekens — The Post’s ‘Problem Child’”. “Falling horse? Man on Mars? Thirteenth century Mongolian warriors? When the Post needed someone to illustrate the unusual, they called Fred Ludekens.”

…For example, in 1947 the Post needed an illustration for a story by Robert Heinlein that takes place in “interplanetary space.” According to How I Make a Picture, the art editor recalled that he scratched his head and wondered, “What the hell does interplanetary space look like?” Next, he called Fred Ludekens.

The story, The Green Hills of Earth, was about a blind accordion player living in the Martian city of Marsopolis. Ludekens first thought he might avoid a lot of homework by proposing a flat, “decorative” design as an illustration. Here is his preliminary draft that he submitted to the Post:

But the Post said no. Then he thought he might get off easily by adopting a “fantasy” approach:

But again the Post said no. Any illustrator could do that kind of painting. The Post wanted a “realistic” illustration. The magazine had housewives and truck drivers amongst its readers, but it also had astronomers and university professors itching to criticize any technical error they might find. The Post needed an artist who could please a general audience but at the same time satisfy the experts….

Heinlein must have liked the painting – he ended up with it. (And it was displayed as part of the 2011 Worldcon’s history sf art exhibit.)

(5) FANDOM’S JOE KENNEDY. First Fandom Experience has another entry in anticipation of Chicon 8’s “Project 1946”, which the Worldcon is doing in lieu of Retro Hugos: “Science Fiction and Fantasy in Books: 1946”

Continuing our series of posts in preparation for the 1946 Project at Chicon 8.

In the aftermath of the war, an explosion of genre book publishing brought science fiction and fantasy closer to the mainstream. However, new novel-length fiction was scarce, so the vast majority of titles issued in 1946 looked back, republishing material from prior years.

Thanks to one prolific fan, we have a contemporaneous view of fandom’s favorites from this period. In January 1947, New Jersey’s Joseph Charles (“Joe”) Kennedy published the 1946-1947 Fantasy Review, the second in his series of yearbooks covering the field. Along with his own perspective, Kennedy presented the results of a survey that captured the opinions of 78 fans of the day. Caveats apply; e.g. the sample appears to be entirely from the United States and Canada — but the poll offers at least one window into sentiments at the time….

(6) HOLLYWOOD LOGS. Rick Wilber discusses the setting and inspiration for his story “The Goose” in his Asimov’s post “The Spruce Goose, the Hollywood Stars, and America’s Nazis” in the “From the Earth to the Stars” section.

…Hollywood was in its Golden Age in 1941 and so was baseball. As I wrote this novella, setting scenes at Gilmore Field and the Brown Derby and Long Beach Harbor for the first flight of the Spruce Goose was great fun, made all the more enjoyable for my fictional version being not so far from the truth.   

But there’s another part of this story that’s also not far from the truth. Underneath all the glamour and magic of Hollywood in those years there was a dark upwelling of fascism. There were plenty of people in America, and particularly in Southern California, who admired Hitler and the way he’d made Germany a world power again. Many, perhaps most, of these people also liked what he was doing to the Jews in Germany and thought that was something they should do to the Jews of Hollywood, especially  the Jewish studio heads and their many directors and producers and actors, who, in the fevered minds of these home-grown fascists, were destroying America with their evil money-making success trying to make propaganda films that warned of the Nazi menace and praised resistance to it. Good thing the German consul to Los Angeles, Georg Gyssling, made sure those films were changed to be less troublesome before they were released, else he’d ban them from distribution in Germany, Europe’s biggest market for films….

(7) OCTOTHORPE. “Nonsense Divide” is the title of Octothorpe podcast episode 63.

We have some locs, and then we dive into discussing the recent travails of FantasyCon, the recent books of The Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the recent venues of Conversation 2023. Art by Alison Scott.

(8) HIS FRIEND FLINT. Kevin J. Anderson paid tribute to the late Eric Flint on Facebook.

Took me a long time to do this.

It was all an act, as any of Eric’s closest friends knew: his gruff demeanor, his curmudgeonly comments, but it was nothing more than a thin disguise for the engaged, caring, and mentoring personality that was Mr. Eric Flint. This guy knew what he was talking about.

When I met Eric for the first time (or so I thought), he was already a legend. I sought him out at a Chicago Worldcon and introduced myself. He just smiled and said that we had already met—I was one of his instructors when he’d won the Writers of the Future Contest in 1993. He was one of those wide-eyed students sitting around the table (along with Sean Williams and Stoney Compton), as Rebecca Moesta and I lectured them on professionalism and productivity….

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

1952 [By Cat Eldridge.] No, this is definitely not genre or genre related in any way what-so-ever, but it’s a fascinating story none-the-less. So let’s look at the story of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap play. 

The Mousetrap opened in London’s West End in 1952 and ran continuously until 16 March 2020, when the stage performances had to be temporarily discontinued during the COVID-19 pandemic. It then re-opened on 17 May 2021. The longest-running ever West End show, it has by far the longest run of any play in the world, with its 27,500th performance taking place on the 18th September of 2018.

It is set in a guest house, Monkswell Manor, in the winter in the present day so the settings and costuming are always contemporary. it is a whodunit and the the play has a surprise ending, which the audience are asked not to reveal after leaving the theatre. Not that actually helps as many of course do discuss it.

Critics in general just plain didn’t like saying it was way too cliched and the characters were “too obvious by half”. 

Some four hundred actors have played the various roles down the decades. Most are relatively unknown.  sir Richard Attenborough was the original Detective Sergeant Trotter, and his wife, Sheila Sim, the first Mollie Ralston, owner of the Monkswell Manor guesthouse. 

The play began life as a short radio play written as a birthday present for Queen Mary, the consort of King George V. It was broadcast on 30 May 1947 as “Three Blind Mice”. 

The play is based on a short story which was Christie based off the radio play. Christie ordered that the story not be published as long as it ran as a play in the West End of London. The short story has still not been published within the U.K. but it was published in the States in the 1950 Three Blind Mice and Other Stories collection.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 4, 1923 Paul Schneider. He wrote scripts for the original Star TrekStar Trek: The Animated SeriesThe StarlostThe Six Million Dollar Man, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He’s best remembered for two episodes of the original Trek series: “Balance of Terror” and “The Squire of Gothos”. “Balance of Terror”, of course, introduced the Romulans. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 4, 1937 David Bedford. Composer who worked with Ursula K Le Guin to produce and score her Rigel 9 album which the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says is ‘a work that is musically pleasant although narratively underpowered.’ I’ve not heard it, so cannot say how accurate this opinion is. (Died 2011.)
  • Born August 4, 1942 Don S. Davis. He’s best-known for playing General Hammond on Stargate SG-1 and Major Garland Briggs on Twin Peaks. He had a small part in Beyond the Stars as Phil Clawson, and was in Hook as Dr. Fields. Neat factiod: on MacGyver for five years, he was the stunt double for Dana Elcar. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 4, 1944 Richard Belzer, 78. The Third Rock from The Sun series as himself, also the Species II film and a truly awful adaption of Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters, along with series work too in The X-FilesThe InvadersHuman Target, and a recurring role in the original Flash series to name a few of his genre roles.
  • Born August 4, 1950 Steve Senn, 72. Here because of his Spacebread duology, Spacebread and Born of Flame. Spacebread being a large white cat known throughout the galaxy as an adventuress and a rogue. He’s also written the comic novels, Ralph Fozbek and the Amazing Black Hole Patrol and Loonie Louie Meets the Space FungusSpacebread is available at the usual suspects for a mere ninety cents as is Born of Flame: A Space Story for the same price!
  • Born August 4, 1968 Daniel Dae Kim, 54. First genre role was in the NightMan series, other roles include the Brave New World TV film, the second Fantasy Island of three series, recurring roles on LostAngel and Crusade, the Babylon 5 spinoff Crusade series, Star Trek: Voyager, Charmed and voice work on Justice League Unlimited.
  • Born August 4, 1969 Fenella Woolgar, 53. Agatha Christie in “The Unicorn and The Wasp” episode of Doctor Who where she more than capably played off against David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. Her only other genre was as Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester. (See my essay on “The Unicorn and the Wasp” in item #9 here.)

(11) AMONG THE MISSING. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt explores who would have been in Batgirl if it had been finished, including J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon and the return of Michael Keaton as Batman. “’Batgirl’ has been canceled. Here’s what’s lost”.

…One of the most dramatic aspects of the Batgirl mythos is that she is the daughter of Gotham City police commissioner Jim Gordon, who in many comic iterations is not aware his daughter is a crime-fighting vigilante. “Batgirl” starred J.K. Simmons as Gordon, continuing a role he began in Zack Snyder’s polarizing Justice League movies. Simmons is best known for giving one of the all-time great superhero movie performances in Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man trilogy as Daily Bugle editor in chief J. Jonah Jameson. If Simmons is in your superhero movie, it’s a big deal.

Brendan Fraser, having already done stellar work for WB/DC in the HBO Max series “Doom Patrol,” was “Batgirl’s” villain, the pyromaniac Firefly. His attempt to add to an impressive array of DC movie villains over the years, from Jack Nicholson to Heath Ledger, now goes up in smoke.

But the biggest holy cow moment of all from “Batgirl” was going to bethe return of Keaton as Batman. There are few bigger deals in comic book culture than his answering a Bat-signal’scall in the 21st century. He is also set to resume the role in the upcoming “The Flash” movie starring Ezra Miller, scheduled for release in 2023,but given the recent controversies surrounding Miller, one must wonder whether we’ll ever see Keaton’s bat-comeback at all….

(12) RAISE YOUR BANNERS. Creation Entertainment and Warner Bros. will run the first Game of Thrones Official Fan Convention from December 9-11, 2022 at Los Angeles Convention Center. See guest list and other details at the link.

(13) COMPELLING COMMENTS. Joe Stech read and ranked all the Hugo Best Novel finalists at the Compelling Science Fiction Newsletter. Here is an excerpt from his praise for A Desolation Called Peace.

…I also thought Martine did a great job of conveying how military officers are required to make significant decisions without enough data, and how that results in a drastically different worldview than that of an academic.

And finally, the prose was wonderful. Little things like “You think these aliens are offensive; your word for offensive is ‘wasteful'”. Just so good. I highly, highly recommend this novel….

Stech also delivers many frank observations about some of the other finalists that don’t work so well for him.

(14) DEATH’S INTERN. Plague Unleashed by D. C. Gomez (published in 2018) is book two in the action-packed and humorous Urban Fantasy series The Intern Diaries. Isis Black has survived eight months as Death’s Intern. But not even all her training could have prepared her for the madness of zombies running loose in Texarkana.

A disgruntled employee, sibling rivalry, and zombie attacks. Who said Texarkana was boring?

I swear, I didn’t do it.

It wasn’t me.

I did not start the zombie-apocalypse in Texarkana.

But I’m planning to find out who did it, before the whole city is taken over by those mindless souls.

Too bad the one person that might have the answer is the one being Constantine despises above all else, Death’s Sister, Pestilence. How can one person be so absolutely despicable? Why does she need ten interns all calling her Mistress? She is evil.

Pestilence swears she didn’t cause the Plague. I’m blaming her anyway. Now all I need is more time and less five-year-olds trying to eat their teachers’ faces. Scratch that, what I really need is a new job.

Available from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

D. C. Gomez is an award-winning USA Today Bestselling Author, podcaster, motivational speaker, and coach. Born in the Dominican Republic, she grew up in Salem, Massachusetts. D. C. studied film and television at New York University. After college she joined the US Army, and proudly served for four years.  You can find out more about her at www.dcgomez-author.com.

(15) DOUBLE DUTCH BUS IN ANTIQUITY. “Footprints Discovery Suggests Ancient ‘Ghost Tracks’ May Cover the West” according to the New York Times.

Scientists have discovered ancient human footprints in Utah, traces, they say, of adults and children who walked barefoot along a shallow riverbed more than 12,000 years ago….

The 88 footprints are in several short trackways, some of which indicate that people may have simply been congregating in one area. “It doesn’t look like we just happened to find someone walking from point A to point B,” Dr. Duke said. They believe these footprints are of people who lived nearby. “Maybe collecting things. Maybe just enjoying themselves” in the shallow water, he added….

Dr. Urban compared the Utah footprints to the “ghost tracks” in White Sands, a term used for tracks that appear only under certain conditions, then disappear just as quickly. The fossil tracks in New Mexico, as much as 23,000 years old, were uncovered using ground-penetrating radar technology and contained a treasure trove of revelations: tracks of ancient humans and megafauna intersecting and interacting with each other. They showed proof that ancient humans walked in the footprints of enormous proboscideans and vice versa; that one human raced across the mud holding a child, put that child down at one point, picked that child back up and then rushed off to an unknown destination; that at least one giant ground sloth was followed by ancient humans, rose up on its hind legs and twirled as the humans surrounded it; that children played in puddles.

(16) WHO’S WATCHING WHAT. JustWatch says these were the Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies and TV Shows in the US in July.

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1Everything Everywhere All at OnceStranger Things
2Spider-Man: No Way HomeMoonhaven
3Jurassic World DominionSeverance
4Independence DayResident Evil
5Jurassic WorldFor All Mankind
6The ThingWestworld
7Jurassic World: Fallen KingdomThe Orville
8Crimes of the FutureThe Twilight Zone
9InterstellarPaper Girls
10Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of MadnessDoctor Who

*Based on JustWatch popularity score. Genre data is sourced from themoviedb.org

(17) CATS WHO LOVE TURKEY. Kedi, a cat documentary filmed in Istanbul, was released in 2017. But maybe these clips are news to you, too!

A profile of an ancient city and its unique people, seen through the eyes of the most mysterious and beloved animal humans have ever known, the Cat.

(18) TESTED AGAIN. Adam Savage discusses why he loves The Matrix in this video which dropped this week. “Ask Adam Savage: What IS It About The Matrix?”

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

Pixel Scroll 6/1/20 Do Pixels File Of Electric Scrolls

(1) LOOTERS HIT MORE SFF BUSINESSES. Bleeding Cool has a roundup about genre businesses struck by vandals: “8 Comic Stores Hit By Looting Across the USA”. They include:

  • Los Angeles County: Golden Apple Comics, Hi De Hi Comics, JapanLA,  
  • San Diego County: Crazy Fred’s Cards And Comics (local NBC news report here.)
  • Chicago: Graham Crackers, Challengers Comics + Conversation
  • Berwyn, IL: Top Cut Comics
  • Minneapolis: DreamHaven Books and Comics (Publishers Weekly has an overview of all the local bookshops that were hit, including notes on Uncle Hugo’s and DreamHaven: “Minneapolis Bookstores Deal With Fire, Vandalism During Chaotic Weekend”.)

Alt-right blog Bounding Into Comics had details about yet another store:

  • Grand Rapids, MI: Vault of Midnight

(2) DREAMHAVEN UPDATE. Katya Reimann helped out at DreamHaven and learned more details about the vandals who hit that shop.

…”Luckily” for Dreamhaven (which stocks fantasy and science fiction books, comics, and collectibles), the four white teenagers who broke in were incompetent non-professionals. They trashed things, tipped shelves, smashed the glass display cases, and tried to burn the building down. Fortunately, the book used to try to light the fire failed to properly catch.

Neighbors saw the foursome running from the building carrying armloads of stuff (including a replica Captain America shield which they abandoned in the street) before hopping into an old gray beater car and driving off.

(3) UNCLE HUGO’S UPDATE. A post on the bookstore’s website emphasized: “Don Has Not Authorized Any Fundraising”.

Elizabeth here. I spoke with Don this afternoon regarding this topic and am conveying his views here. He has spoken with several people about crowdfunding, and asked them NOT to implement anything on his behalf. One person refused to comply with Don’s request, and Don is following up to have that effort stopped.

There are a lot of complex issues involved in any possible rebuilding of the store, including insurance, city ordinances, and business requirements for newly constructed buildings (as opposed to existing structures). Until Don has definite information about all these things, he will not be making any decisions regarding rebuilding.

At that point, if he decides to crowdfund, he will do it in under his own name, and you will know about it because the information will be posted here on the store website, and as an official store Facebook post. In the meantime, anyone else purporting to be fundraising for the store is doing it without Don’s consent, and against his expressed wishes.

Don is making some interim plans for operating a limited mail-order business, and we’ll keep you informed as things develop. He does appreciate everyone’s support and enthusiasm.

Also, store dog Echo is doing fine, I petted her this afternoon and fed her a small snack (as is my custom).

Elsewhere The Federalist, a site that in the past I’ve looked at only when Jon Del Arroz appeared there, ran a piece by Tony Daniel, “Minneapolis Rioters Burned One Of America’s Most Beloved Independent Bookstores To The Ground”, with his own idiosyncratic ideas why Don Blyly qualifies for sympathy:

…Uncle Hugo’s was known in the often politically contentious science fiction community as a place where good books and good storytelling was prized above all else. Blyly took a decidedly nonpartisan stance when it came to what he sold. The physical store supplied a wide mailing list as well, with often hard to find first and special editions of books.

(4) AGENT OF CHAOS. Publishers Weekly reports: “Three Agents Resign After Red Sofa Literary Owner’s Tweet”.

The civil unrest in the Twin Cities continues to take its toll on Minnesota’s literary community—sometimes in unexpected ways. Thursday evening, the night before protesters set fire to two adjoining Minneapolis indie bookstores and destroying them both, the reaction to a St. Paul–based literary agent’s tweet ended up gutting the boutique agency she owns.

Three agents affiliated with Red Sofa Literary tweeted this past weekend that they have resigned in response to owner Dawn Frederick’s tweet, leaving one subsidiary rights executive besides Frederick still employed there. Frederick’s official Red Sofa account on Twitter has been removed.

In the tweet that set off the resignations, Frederick wrote that the gas station on her block, in the city’s Groveland/ Macalester neighborhood across the Mississippi River from Minneapolis, was “officially getting looted.” She added that she was calling the police, “as someone will need to board up this place.” Almost immediately, several followers responded, asking Frederick not to call police on anyone in the midst of widespread civil disobedience in the Twin Cities. (There is a growing concern among area residents and other observers that the police, armed with rubber bullets and tear gas canisters, are targeting people of color protesting George Floyd’s murder at the hands of a police officer.) One follower, author Mandy Ryan Sandford, tweeted, “Please do not call the cops right now. Imagine if you were black right now.” Although the exchange between the two was later removed, others captured screenshots that still remain on Twitter….

The news prompted Foz Meadows to share her own experience with the agency and Dawn Frederick: “Red Sofa”.

…This is a small matter in comparison to the ongoing protests over the extrajudicial murder of George Floyd and the egregious police brutality with which those protests have been met, but it is still, to me, an important matter, as how the SFF community responds to racism and bigotry in other contexts will always relate to how it deals with internal gatekeeping. After what’s happened, I don’t feel that I can in good conscience continue to remain silent.

Last week, Dawn Frederick of Red Sofa Literary, who lives in Minneapolis, tweeted that she had called the police about “looters” at the gas station near her house in the wake of protests about the death of George Floyd. When other people pointed out that calling the police could potentially result in more violence towards Black people in particular – the Minneapolis protests were peaceful until police turned water cannons and rubber bullets on the crowd, precipitating the riots through a series of violent escalations – Fredrick doubled down in defense of her actions. When one of her agents, Kelly Van Sant, announced her resignation from the agency over the matter, Frederick posted a statement to the Red Sofa Literary website, insisting that there were “zero protesters” present at the gas station, just “straight up looters.” (How she could be certain there was no overlap between the two while watching from a distance is, presumably, unknown.)

Since then, two more Red Sofa agents, Amanda Rutter and Stacey Graham, have likewise resigned from Red Sofa in protest, while several of Frederick’s clients have dropped her. It was only after this that Frederick published a second statement, apologising for her actions; she has also deleted her twitter account. As as a result, I have seen many members of the SFF community debating whether or not the reaction Frederick received was proportional to her offence, with some asserting her credentials as a long-standing advocate for diversity in the SFF community as a reason why she has been treated unfairly.

It is for this reason that I have decided to speak publicly about my own past experiences with Dawn Frederick….

An extended narrative follows.

(5) THE GUARDIAN REMEMBERS TOTAL RECALL WHOLESALE. [Item by Olav Rokne,] Guardian film critic Scott Tobias (@scott_tobias) tackles the 30th anniversary of the Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi actioner Total Recall. Writing in the Guardian, Tobias explores the themes of totalitarian governments, propaganda, and colonization. In doing so, he makes a decent case to reconsider Total Recall’s canonical standing as the middle chapter of director Paul Verhoeven’s science fiction trilogy.  “Total Recall at 30: a thrilling reminder of Paul Verhoeven at his best”.  

“Verhoeven pushed the politics of RoboCop and Starship Troopers more to the foreground than he does in Total Recall, but he shows again how propaganda networks brand the resistance as “terrorists” and describe their indiscriminate slaughter as “[restoring] order with minimal use of force”. Total Recall suggests that colonization is an opportunity to terraform a reality that’s entirely managed by the terraformers, without a scrap of land that regular people can call their own.”

(6) LOST, BUT NOT IN SPACE. Emily Carney’s piece on autobiographies of failed or angry ex-astronauts is worth noting: “The genre-defining astronaut/ex-astronaut autobiographies” in The Space Review.

Books still matter. Throughout the last sixty-plus years of spaceflight, literature chronicling spaceflight history and heritage, which runs the gamut from detailing hardware and rocketry to describing the features of the Moon and various solar system objects, have dazzled and awed readers, often introducing audiences to the subject. However, frequently the books that draw the most interest from readers are about the people: the astronauts, the flight controllers, and the workers. First-person accounts of a particular period can function as a “time machine,” pulling the reader closer into a project’s or program’s orbit (pardon the pun.)

The Making of an Ex-Astronaut, by Brian O’Leary (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1970)

Published 50 years ago, this choice might be somewhat controversial. Dr. Brian O’Leary, perhaps NASA’s most famous (or infamous?) ex-astronaut, doomed himself to a permanent exile from the fighter jock-heavy astronaut corps with the sentence, “Flying just isn’t my cup of tea.” But O’Leary’s 1970 sort-of-memoir mixed with op-ed essays, The Making of an Ex-Astronaut, was the first autobiographical work that began to lift the veil obscuring the astronaut corps during 1960s NASA. (Another work that would fully lift the veil will be discussed later.) Moreover, it set the scene. You can envision a bespectacled O’Leary, age 27, walking around Houston’s Manned Spacecraft Center, looking bewildered, out-of-place, and anxious as he realizes he got himself waaaaaaaay in over his head with a job he can’t quite fulfill. Many of us have been exactly where O’Leary was at the time—except unlike us, his resignation would be broadcast all over the world.

(7) A SIGNPOST OF QUALITY. The Hugo Book Club Blog considers the long-term impact of “The Astounding Award”.  

…Reviewing the list of Astounding Award finalists and winners makes it clear that part of the joy and value of this award is that it can help new generations of readers find works by creators whose careers never soared to Scalzian heights, or whose years of writing were few in number.

…The fact that Melko, Roessner and Carter do not seem to be publishing new books or stories anymore does not diminish in any way the depth of their talent, or the worthiness of their existing works. But it would, unfortunately, have made it significantly less likely that they will find new readers if awards like the Astounding didn’t exist.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • June 1, 1984 Star Trek III: The Search for Spock premiered. It was written and produced by Harve Bennett,  and directed by Leonard Nimoy.  It starred William Shatner, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan. George Takei, Walter Koeni, Nichelle Nichols, Merritt Butrick and Christopher Lloyd. Critics generally loved it and thought Nimoy caught the feel of the series; audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 61% rating. It would finish third at Aussiecon Two behind 2010: A Space Odyssey which won the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo and Ghostbusters which came in second.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born June 1, 1858 – Frank Ver Beck.  Wood engravings; illustrations for Collier’sThe Ladies’ Home JournalScribner’s; superlatively, animals, sometimes in a style eventually called anthropomorphic.  Twenty books, e.g. A Handbook of Golf for Bears, and in particular Baum’s Magical Monarch of Mo.  (Died 1933) [JH]
  • Born June 1, 1914 George Sayer. His Jack: C. S. Lewis and His Times which won a Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Inkling Studies is considered one of the best looks at that author. He also wrote the liner notes for the J. R. R. Tolkien Soundbook, a Cadmeon release of Christopher Tolkien reading from excerpts from The SilmarillionThe Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. (Died 2005.) (CE)
  • Born June 1, 1928 Janet Grahame Johnston and Anne Grahame Johnstone. British twin sisters who were children’s book illustrators best remembered for their prolific artwork and for illustrating Dodie Smith’s The Hundred and One Dalmatians. They were always more popular with the public than they were critics who consider them twee. (Janet died 1979, Anne died 1998.) (CE)
  • Born June 1, 1940 René Auberjonois. Odo on DS9. He’s shown up on a number of genre productions including Wonder WomanThe Outer LimitsNight GalleryThe Bionic WomanBatman Forever, King Kong, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered CountryEnterpriseStargate SG-1 andWarehouse 13He’s lent both his voice and likeness to gaming productions in recent years, and has done voice work for the animated Green Lantern and Justice League series. (Died 2019.) (CE) 
  • Born June 1, 1947 Jonathan Pryce, 73. I remember him best as the unnamed bureaucrat in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. He’s had a long career in genre works including Brazil, Something Wicked This Way Comes as Mr. Dark himself, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as Governor Weatherby Swann, The Brothers Grimm, in the G.I. Joe films as the U.S. President and most recently in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote as Don Quixote. (CE) 
  • Born June 1, 1947 – Adrienne Fein.  One of 3 Founding Mothers of CMUSFS (Carnegie Mellon Univ. SF Society).  Introduced Arthur Hlavaty to apas (apa = amateur press ass’n, originally a way of distributing zines, eventually a kind of fan activity in itself).  Known as a loccer (loc or LoC = letter of comment, the blood of fanzines) but no slouch as a fanartist, e.g. this cover for Granfalloon 1 and interiors there, this one for It Comes in the Mail 18, interiors for Riverside Quarterly.  (Died 1990) [JH] [Corrected 6/2/20 as noted in comments by Arthur Hlavaty and John Hertz.]
  • Born June 1, 1947 – Chris Moore.  Four hundred sixty covers, eighty interiors.  Collection, Journeyman.  Here’s a cover for The Stars My Destination; one for The City and the Stars; one for Hexarchate Stories.  Here’s his story.  [JH]
  • Born June 1, 1948 – Mike Meara.  Nova Award for Best Fanwriter.  Administered the FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Awards at Corflu XXXII (fanziners’ con; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable).  Fanzine, A Meara for Observers.  [JH]
  • Born June 1, 1950 — Michael McDowell. His best-remembered works are the screenplays for the Tim Burton‘s Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas. He also wrote scripts for Tales from The DarksideAlfred Hitchcock PresentsAmazing StoriesTales from the Crypt and Monsters. He’s an accomplished horror writer as well but I’ve not read any of his work. (Died 1999.) (CE) 
  • Born June 1, 1958 – Ian Gunn.  Seven dozen interiors in Banana WingsFocus, and like that; in Program Books for the 51st Worldcon (ConFrancisco), 52nd (ConAdian), 57th (Aussiecon III); logo for The Frozen Frog; 10 Ditmars (one won by a story!), 2 FAAn Awards, 1 Hugo at last.  (Died 1998) [JH]
  • Born June 1, 1965 Tim Eldred, 55. Author and illustrator of Grease Monkey, a most excellent humorous take on space operas and uplifting species.  As an illustrator alone, he was involved in Daniel Quinn’s superb The Man Who Grew Young. (CE)
  • Born June 1, 1973 – C.E. Murphy.  Two dozen novels, in particular The Walker Papers; two dozen shorter stories; one graphic novel.  Born in Alaska, she moved to Ireland her ancestral homeland.  Essay on Anne McCaffrey for the 77th Worldcon last year.  Her Website is here.  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) MORE TO READ. Publisher Joe Stech has released Compelling Science Fiction Issue 15, a magazine that specializes in “stories that are self-consistent, scientifically plausible, and technically detailed when necessary.”

dav

Here are the five new stories that you can enjoy right now:

We start with Steve Rodgers’ “Housefly Tours”. Four hundred years in the future, a very special adventure tour takes tourists to spy on the only other sentient race ever discovered. But human mistakes and frailty may just ruin everything (9461 words). Our second story is “The Stillness of the Stars” by Jessica McAdams. A young woman escapes the lower-class decks of a generation ship only to find that those on the affluent upper decks have been lying about the journey on which they’ve all embarked (5627 words). The third story this issue, Dominic Teague’s “Portrait of a Rogue,” is a story about an investigative journalist who interviews a wealthy savant concerning his family’s shady history of scientific and artistic innovations (2000 words). Next we have “Two Moons” by Elena Pavlova. This one is a story about a young girl who must survive a coming-of-age trial outside the giant extra-terrestrial organism in which she lives (6500 words). The final story is “Drought and Blood” by Spencer Koelle. Amelia Okella’s life work is threatened by public suspicion when a man is found exsanguinated in a field of her bio-engineered drought-prevention plants (5900 words).

(12) ON BOARD THE ISS. “Astronauts on historic mission enter space station” — includes video.

US astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken have docked with, and entered, the International Space Station (ISS).

Their Dragon capsule – supplied and operated by the private SpaceX company – attached to the bow section of the orbiting lab 422km above China.

After a wait for leak, pressure and temperature checks, the pair disembarked to join the Russian and American crew already on the ISS.

More: “SpaceX Nasa Mission: Astronaut capsule docks with ISS”

US astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken have docked with the International Space Station (ISS), after a 19-hour journey.

The men will have to wait for leak and pressure checks to be completed before they can safely disembark and join the Russian and American crew already on the ISS.

(13) HISTORIC CARTOON CHARACTER AT CENTER OF RIGHTS DISPUTE. In the Washington Post, Robyn Dixon details the efforts of Russian animation company Soyuzmultfilm to reclaim the rights of cartoon character Cheburaska, which were sold to a Japanese firm in a 2005 dea the Russian company believes it cancelled in 2015 in a letter the Japanese say they never received.  Dixon interviews Maya Balakirsky Katz, an art historian at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, who explains how Cheburaska and other Soviet animated films of the 1960s and 1970s were innovative because many of the animators were Jews who used the films as an outlet to comment on Soviet anti-Semitism. “Cheburashka was the beloved misfit of Soviet animation. It’s now a missing treasure for Russia.”

… The Soyuzmultfilm archives — and especially Cheburashka — offer a study in creative criticism of aspects of Soviet life.

Soviet censors tried to stifle the Cheburashka animations, which poked fun at nitpicking bureaucrats, polluting factory directors, nasty train conductors and the orthodoxy of the Soviet children’s movement, the Pioneers.

Still, the character Cheburashka only sees the best in people and is chirpy even in the gloomiest situation. 

(14) OLD WINE IN NEW CASKS. BBC wonders “Could Poe teach Trump about wall building?”

If you think that the sort of things that millennials make trend on social media are entirely predictable, then you may need to think again.

A curious phenomenon has emerged on the micro-blogging site Tumblr. It’s perhaps been best summed up by one user called brinnanza: “Oh, giant company, you want your advertisement to go viral? Well this week the kids are obsessed with a short story written in 1846.”

The short story in question is Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”, and unlikely as it may sound it’s inspired a series memes that thread together images and quotes from this macabre tale with more modern concerns.

…So what is it about this 170-year-old unhappy ending that resonates with today’s Tumblr users (who according to the Pew Research Center are mostly 18-29 year olds)?

…”The Cask of Amontillado is the new meme in reaction to the clown epidemic,” wrote Tumblr user memeufacturing. “We all became aware of the clown epidemic a week or two ago and now the new meme is luring and subsequently cementing a clown into your ancient cellar …”.

We should say that memeufacturing message is tongue-in-cheek (we hope)…

And that was just the start of the memestorm as Poe’s creepy classic was given all sorts of popular culture twists.

(15) SOURCING THE VIRUS. “U.S. and Chinese Scientists Trace Evolution of Coronaviruses in Bats” in a New York Times report.

Researchers whose canceled U.S. grant caused an outcry from other scientists urge preventive monitoring of viruses in southwestern China.

An international team of scientists, including a prominent researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, has analyzed all known coronaviruses in Chinese bats and used genetic analysis to trace the likely origin of the novel coronavirus to horseshoe bats.

In their report, posted online Sunday, they also point to the great variety of these viruses in southern and southwestern China and urge closer monitoring of bat viruses in the area and greater efforts to change human behavior as ways of decreasing the chances of future pandemics.

The research was supported by a U.S. grant to EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based nonprofit, that was recently canceled by the National Institutes of Health. The grant, for more than $3 million, was well on its way to renewal, and the sudden reversal prompted an outcry in the scientific community.

Thirty-one U.S. scientific societies signed a letter of protest on May 20 to the N.I.H., and 77 Nobel laureates sent another letter to the N.I.H. and the Department of Health and Human Services seeking an investigation of the grant denial. The Nobelists said the cancellation appeared to be based on politics rather than a consideration of scientific merit.

…The researchers, mostly Chinese and American, conducted an exhaustive search for and analysis of coronaviruses in bats, with an eye to identifying hot spots for potential spillovers of these viruses into humans, and resulting disease outbreaks.

The genetic evidence that the virus originated in bats was already overwhelming. Horseshoe bats, in particular, were considered likely hosts because other spillover diseases, like the SARS outbreak in 2003, came from viruses that originated in these bats, members of the genus Rhinolophus.

None of the bat viruses are close enough to the novel coronavirus to suggest that it jumped from bats to humans. The immediate progenitor of the new virus has not been found, and may have been present in bats or another animal. Pangolins were initially suspected, although more recent analysis of pangolin coronaviruses suggests that although they probably have played a part in the new virus’s evolution, there is no evidence that they were the immediate source.

[Thanks to Bill, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Olav Rokne, John King Tarpinian, JJ, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Dale Nelson, Rose Embolism, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]

Pixel Scroll 1/11/20 The Yellow Brick Road Must Roll

(1) PROZINE REJOINS THE LIVING Compelling Science Fiction has been saved from the scrapheap of history. Editor Joe Stech explains how it happened:

We’re back in business and will be open to submissions once again on Monday, January 13th!

After I announced in September that Compelling Science Fiction would be shutting down for good, Nick Wells of Flame Tree reached out to me and suggested we work together to keep the magazine publishing our unique brand of science fiction stories. Over the last month we came to an agreement that will allow Compelling Science Fiction to continue publishing — you may recall that my issue was one of time, and Flame Tree will take over many of the most time-consuming aspects of the magazine. My role will transition to that of editor-in-chief, and Nick will take over the publishing role. I’m very excited to work with Nick and Flame Tree, and continue to support this genre of fiction that I love.

We’ll be transitioning to a quarterly schedule, and will also be accepting submissions much more often. Authors, we need your wonderful stories, so please send them our way! And readers, thanks for entrusting us with your time. I will always treat it with respect, and do my best to provide the types of stories you come here for.

(2) MORE SFF ON JEOPARDY! David Goldfarb says “The third episode of the ‘Greatest of All Time’ Jeopardy! tourney had a number of SFF-related questions.”

Here was the $800 answer in “Prequels and Sequels”:

Edited by the author’s son Christopher & published in 1977, it’s a history of Middle-Earth before “Lord of the Rings”.

Ken Jennings readily questioned, “What is Silmarillion?”

And the $400 answer:

Set for release in 2020 is Suzanne Collins’ “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”, a prequel to this series.

James Holzhauer asked, “What is The Hunger Games?”

In the “TV Green Thumb” category:

$1200: On “The Handmaid’s Tale”, this wife of Commander Waterford has some pivotal scenes in her greenhouse.

Two wrong guesses, but nobody got, “Who is Serena?”

$1600: Played by Carolyn Jones in the ’60s, she loved to cut the heads off her roses, & rejoiced when her thorns came in sharp.

Crickets. “Who is Morticia Addams?”

And the $2000 featured a picture of Jean-Luc Picard and Boothby the groundskeeper: Jean-Luc Picard once helped Boothby, played by this one-time TV Martian, to replant some flowers at Star Fleet Academy.

Ken Jennings got it: “Who is Ray Walston?”

Goldfarb concludes, “The game in the second half (each day’s game is two regular games put together) had questions about Cocteau’s ‘La Belle et Le Bête’ and Grieg’s ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’, but I’m going to call those only genre-adjacent and not quote them.”

Then, Andrew Porter saw this go down —

Category: Book Marks

Answer: In this novel, Mark Watney says, “I didn’t die on Sol 6. Certainly the rest of the crew thought I did.”

Wrong question: What is “The Sun Also Rises?”

Right question: What is “The Martian.”

(3) DIAGNOSING SUCCESS. The Hollywood Reporter’s Patrick Shanley probes “The Key Difference Between Video Game and Film Remakes”.

…Video game remakes work because, in many ways, they are the antithesis of film remakes. They honor the original vision by elevating it to what it was hoping to be but unable to achieve due to the limits of technology. The best remakes (in any medium) maintain the heart and soul of their source material while simultaneously modernizing them. In that regard, games have outshone film, delivering on the promise of the original while also updating them in a way that appeals to the nostalgia of longtime fans and the discerning eye of newcomers.

(4) STREAMING SEVENTIES SFF. [Item by Rob Thornton.] Criterion Channel, a streaming service that focuses on art films and is based on the home video distributor The Criterion Collection, will be featuring a wide range of science fiction films from the 1970s for most of January 2020. The service’s sci-fi offerings for the month are:

  • No Blade of Grass (Cornel Wilde, 1970)
  • A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971) [based on the Anthony Burgess novel of the same name]
  • The Omega Man (Boris Sagal, 1971) [based on Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend]
  • THX 1138 (George Lucas, 1971)
  • Z.P.G. (Michael Campus, 1972)**
  • Westworld (Michael Crichton, 1973)
    Soylent Green (Richard Fleischer, 1973) [based on Harry Harrison’s Make Room, Make Room!]
  • Dark Star (John Carpenter, 1974)
  • The Terminal Man (Mike Hodges, 1974)
  • Rollerball (Norman Jewison, 1975),
  • A Boy and His Dog (L. Q. Jones, 1975) [based on the Harlan Ellison story of the same name]
  • Death Race 2000 (Paul Bartel, 1975)
  • Shivers (David Cronenberg, 1975)
  • The Ultimate Warrior (Robert Clouse, 1975)
  • Logan’s Run (Michael Anderson, 1976)
  • God Told Me To (Larry Cohen, 1976)
  • Demon Seed (Donald Cammell, 1977)
  • Mad Max (George Miller, 1979)

Other genre-related SF films from the decade may already be available on the service (Tarkovsky’s Stalker and Solaris are definitely there) .

(5) JAMES DAVIS NICOLL. The proprietor tells us that today’s review — of An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass — is review 1500 on James Nicoll Reviews. His career total is “something like 6600 reviews.”

(6) CROWDFUNDING WISDOM. Cat Rambo tweeted the highlights from “Crowdfunding and Kickstartering with M.C.A. Hogarth.” Thread starts here.

(7) GETTING THE ROCKETS READY. CoNZealand has posted a “Hugo Awards Video” hosted by Tammy Coxen, this year’s awards administrator.

If you’d like to know more about the Hugo Awards, check out this new video from the CoNZealand team, talking about the history of the awards and why they’re so important.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • January 11, 1997 — in Japan, Barb Wire got released. Starring Pamela Anderson and a very brief outfit, it was based on a Dark Horse comic (written by John Arcudi and illustrated by a rotating group of artists), the film was made on a shoehorn budget (about the size of her outfit) of nine million but was still a box office bomb bringing in only four million. Excepting Ebert, most critics didn’t like it and the reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes are especially harsh, giving it just a 14% rating. And there’s a lot of them that don’t like it — 47, 276 so far! 
  • January 11, 2013 Survival Code (Borealis was its original name and it was called that in Canada), and it starred Ty Olsson, Patrick Gallagher and Michelle Harrison. It was directed by David Frazee. It won three Canadian Screen Awards at the Second Canadian Screen Awards for Best Dramatic Miniseries or Television Movie, Best Writing in a Dramatic Program or Miniseries, and Best Original Score for a Television Program. The film was created to be a series pilot for Space, but the series never happened for reasons we can’t find but Space, its distributor, aired it instead as a television film. Yes it scored well at the Canadian Screen Awards, but the reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes were less forgiving as it get just 33% there. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 11, 1906 John Myers Myers. Ahhh, Silverlock. I read the NESFA Edition which has the Silverlock Companion in it which is very useful as you know the novel’s very meta indeed. If you don’t have this, it was reprinted separately later. Thirty years after Silverlock was published, The Moon’s Fire-Eating Daughter novella came out. Myers claims it’s a sequel to Silverlock. (Died 1988.)
  • Born January 11, 1923 Jerome Bixby. His “It’s a Good Life” story became the basis for an episode of the original Twilight Zone episode under the same name, and which was included in Twilight Zone: The Movie. He also wrote four episodes for the original Star Trek series: “Mirror, Mirror”, “Day of the Dove”, “Requiem for Methuselah”, and “By Any Other Name”. With Otto Klement, he co-wrote the story upon which Fantastic Voyage series is based, and the Isaac Asimov novel was based. Bixby’s final produced or published work so far was the screenplay for The Man from Earth film.  (Died 1998.)
  • Born January 11, 1923 Wright King. He’s had roles in the SFF realm starting with Captain Video and His Video Rangers and including Johnny Jupiter, Twilight Zone, Out ThereThe Invaders, Planet Of The Apes , Invasion of the Bee Girls, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Logan’s Run. (Died 2018.)
  • Born January 11, 1930 Rod Taylor. First SFF role would be as Israel Hands in Long John Silver. He would follow that up with World Without End (which you probably heard of), The Time MachineColossus and the Amazon Queen (Taylor claims to have rewritten the script), The Birds (I really don’t like it), Gulliver’s Travels and last, and certainly least, The Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy. (Died 2015.)
  • Born January 11, 1937 Felix Silla, 83. He played Cousin Itt (sic) on The Addams Family in a role invented for the show. The voice was not done by him but rather provided by sound engineer Tony Magro in post-production. He was also responsible for the physical performance of Twiki on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century though the voice was supplied by Mel Blanc or Bob Elyea. And he played an unnamed Ewok on Return of the Jedi
  • Born January 11, 1961 Jasper Fforde, 59. I read and thoroughly enjoyed every one of his Thursday Next novels with their delightfully twisted wordplay as I did his Nursery Crimes series. I thought last year when I wrote Birthday note up that I had not read his Shades of Grey books and I was right — I now know that I read the first few chapters of the first one and wasn’t impressed enough to finish it. I do know I’ve not read the Dragonslayer series though I’ve heard Good Things about them. 
  • Born January 11, 1963 Jason Connery, 57. Son of Sir Sean Connery. He’s best known for appearing in the third series of Robin of Sherwood, a series I loved dearly including the music which was done by Clannad which I’ve got live boots of. He also played Jondar in the “Vengeance on Varos”story on Doctor Who during the Sixth Doctor era (my least favorite Doctor). He was Ian Fleming in Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming. And he was a young Merlin in Merlin: The Quest Begins
  • Born January 11, 1971 Tom Ward, 49. He’s Captain Latimer in the Eleventh Doctor’s Christmas Special, “The Snowmen”. And he’s Edward Goodwin in Harry Price: Ghost Hunter. His latest genre role was as Sir Robert Peel in The Frankenstein Chronicles.
  • Born January 11, 1972 Amanda Peet, 48. Not a long SFF précis but an interesting one none-the-less.  She first shows up voicing Maria Montez in Battle for Terra. She was then Harlee in Martian Child which is at genre adjacent. She was ASAC Dakota Whitney in The X-Files: I Want to Believe. Say did you know that Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey was paid for in part by NASA? Way cool. She voiced Ranger in it. 

(10) BRITISH INTERPLANETARY SOCIETY REMEMBERED. The London Review of Books has linked to “Operation Backfire” by Francis Spufford first published in 1999.  This history of the British space program mentions Arthur C. Clarke twice:  first in describing the British Interplanetary Society in 1944 and second a theological debate Clarke had with Lewis and Tolkien in 1958.

In November 1944 a group of men met in a London pub. In this fifth year of the war, the capital was dingy, dog-eared, clapped-out, frankly grimy. Though Britain had not shaken off its usual inefficiencies at mass production, it had converted its economy to the needs of the war more completely than any other combatant nation. For five years there had been no new prams, trams, lawnmowers, streetlamps, paint or wallpaper, and it showed. All over the city things leaked, flapped, wobbled and smelt of cabbage. It was the metropole that Orwell would project forward in time as the London of 1984.

These drinkers were not the kind of people to let an unpromising present determine the shape of things to come. They were the inner circle of the British Interplanetary Society, and in 1938 they had published a plan for reaching the Moon using two modules, one to orbit, one to descend to the lunar surface. The cost of the rocket – as much as a million pounds – was far more than they could raise, but they did have enough money to make a couple of instruments for it. ‘We were in the position of someone who could not afford a car, but had enough for the speedometer and the rear-view mirror,’ Arthur C. Clarke would remember. They constructed a ‘coelostat’, a device to stabilise the image of a spinning star-field. It was made from four mirrors and the motor of Clarke’s gramophone; it worked, and was proudly displayed in the Science Museum.

(11) “FUN” IS OVER. For awhile Jon Del Arroz branded his videos Diversity in Comics – but no more! “Why I’m Changing the Channel Name Back to Jon Del Arroz”.  Here’s the transcript of his explanation. (And remember, YouTube talking head videos really do tend to be one endless run-on sentence):

…But for here I’ve used the name Diversity in Comics over the last I guess two three months helped grow the channel quite a bit so thank you everybody came by because you saw the name and thought it was funny and all that but there comes a time where jokes have to end and we had a funny joke for a bit there and it was great and at this point I’m seeing that there’s a couple things that are an issue with this which is one that yeah it is needlessly antagonizing some people who get really worked up about this and and while I I do enjoy triggering people who get triggered for no reason and all that there there comes a time where joke a stand and it’s it’s just not funny and it’s not funny even watching somebody lose their minds over something like this anymore so definitely don’t want that happening anymore don’t want to insult anybody who might be a comic book reader who might check out the books and things like that I definitely want that to be something uh you know to where we can have are buying comic books and and we’re coming back and changing it back to just my name and the reason we’ll go with my name instead of something fancy….

(12) GIBSON INTERVIEW. William Gibson tells a Guardian writer, “‘I was losing a sense of how weird the real world was'”.

… As a Canadian writer who initially marked his territory in a future Japan, what attracted him to setting his post-Jackpot world in London? He doesn’t see it as so much of a jump. “On my first three or four visits to Japan I immediately thought that Tokyo had more in common with London than with any other city,” he says. “These disproportionately large sites of former empires, huge concentrated populations, recent wartime trauma, lots of fatalities. They’re capitals of island nations. But also cultural things: the fanatical attention paid to specific individual classes of objects. In London you could probably find a speciality shop for almost anything. And you certainly could in Tokyo. All these parallels. I’m curious that I’ve almost never seen it mentioned anywhere.”

(13) STRANGE DIRECTION. BBC reports “Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson exits over ‘creative differences'”.

Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson has left the sequel over “creative differences” with Marvel.

Derrickson made the original 2016 film starring Benedict Cumberbatch and had been due to deliver Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in 2021.

There’s speculation that Derrickson and Marvel boss Kevin Feige disagreed about how scary the follow-up should be.

The director, whose credits include The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Sinister, had pledged “the first scary MCU film”.

He made the comments at San Diego Comic Con in July, where Feige swiftly clarified that it would still be suitable for teenage viewers. “It’s gonna be PG-13 and you’re going to like it!” he added.

Feige has since said it would not be a horror film, and that any scary sequences would be like those made by Steven Spielberg in films like Indiana Jones and Gremlins.

(14) MOMENT OF BOOM. “Popocatépetl: Mexican volcano’s spectacular eruption caught on camera” — someone caught the start of the eruption on a short video.

Mexico’s Popocatépetl volcano erupted on Thursday with a dramatic show of lava and a cloud of ash and rocks that reached 3,000m (9,800ft) into the sky.

No-one was hurt. Popocatépetl is an active stratovolcano, 70km (43 miles) south-east of the capital, Mexico City.

Its name means “smokey mountain” in the indigenous Náhuatl language.

(15) OPPOSITE OF SWATTING. Or so you might call it: “Teenager having seizure saved by online gamer – 5,000 miles away in Texas”.

The parents of a teenager who suffered a seizure while chatting online have thanked his friend who called emergency services from 5,000 miles away.

Aidan Jackson, 17, was talking to an American gamer from his bedroom in Widnes on 2 January when he had a fit.

His friend, 20-year-old Dia Lathora, from Texas, alerted police in the UK.

The first Aidan’s parents knew of the emergency was when police and an ambulance appeared at their front door, the Liverpool Echo reported.

Caroline and Steve Jackson then rushed upstairs to find their son “extremely disorientated”.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. They intend to live happily ever after:

Lee Loechler recently proposed to his girlfriend, Sthuthi David, by taking her to a packed theater to see her favorite movie, Sleeping Beauty. Little did she know that Loechler had spent six months altering the animation of the film’s most iconic scene, changing the characters to look like the couple themselves and altering the storyline to set up his Big Question. And that’s only the beginning.

Watching David’s face during the scene change is sheer delight, as her confused look proves that she has no clue what is about to happen. The set-up is great, but the magical moment when Loechler’s illustrated self tosses the engagement ring to his real-life self? That’s when we all toss up our hands and say, “OKAY, man. You win at proposing. Everyone else must bow before you now.”

The whole proposal—the re-illustrations, the heart jokes (David is a cardiologist), and the bride-to-be’s surprise when she finds surrounded by her friends and family—it’s all perfection. Just watch:

[Thanks to Rob Thornton, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Michael J. Walsh, Contrarius, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 12/15/19 The UnPixeled Scrollfession Of Jonathan Hugo

(1) THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG, CAME FIRST IT DID. Popular Mechanics takes “An Alarmingly Deep Dive Into the Science of Baby Yoda”. Tagline: “We talked to eight actual scientists to find the answers. This is a cry for help.”

There have been many famous babies throughout history: The Lindbergh Baby. The Gerber Baby. Baby Jessica. Rosemary’s Baby. But has there ever been a baby as universally loved and fawned over as Baby Yoda?

For all the joy that Baby Yoda brings us, he can also be confusing. And not because of the obvious questions, like whether Baby Yoda is the real Yoda. Obviously he’s not. The Mandalorian—the Disney+ original series that’s given us our favorite non-English-speaking Star Wars character since BB-8—is set between Return of the Jedi (when the O.G. Yoda dies) and The Force Awakens.

It’s arguable that Baby Yoda could be the illegitimate love-child of Yoda and Yaddle, the lady Yoda from The Phantom Menace, and there’s been some scholarly speculation on that topic, including an investigative report with the refreshingly blunt title, “Did Yoda F**k?”

But whether the Yoda is Baby Yoda’s true daddy isn’t what fascinates us every time we tune into The Mandalorian. What keeps us coming back for more is trying to figure out what in the actual hell Baby Yoda is supposed to be….

(2) WRITE IF YOU GET WORK. Cat Rambo tweeted highlights from the online class “The Freelancer’s Toolkit” with James L. Sutter for the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers. Thread starts here.

(3) MANGA REVELATIONS. In the Washington Post Simon Denyer profiles Tomoni Shimuzu’s What Has Happened To Me, a manga that tells the first-person story of Mihrigul Tursun, a Uighur persecuted by the Chinese: “Japanese manga about a Uighur woman’s persecution in China becomes viral hit”

… “What has happened to me — A testimony of a Uyghur woman” recounts the story told by Mihrigul Tursun, a member of the Muslim minority in western China that has faced relentless crackdowns from authorities in Beijing.The manga — as all comic-style works are known in Japan — describes Tursun’s imprisonment and torture by the Chinese government, the death of one of her young children while in custody, and the jailing of her husband for 16 years.

(4) KINDLING HIGHER RATES. The Digital Reader announced “Kindle Unlimited Per-Page Rate Jumped in November 2019”. Which is a good thing if KU readers are flipping your pages.

Amazon announced on Friday that the Kindle Unlimited funding pool increased by one hundred thousand dollars in November 2019, to $26.1 million, from $26 million in October 2019.

At the same time the per-page rate royalty jumped to d $0.004925, from $0.0046763  in October.

(5) HIGH MAGIC. Nerds of a Feather’s Paul Weimer, in “Microreview: The Last Sun, by K.D. Edwards, reviews “an intriguing Urban Fantasy that uses genderqueer characters and the story of Atlantis to tell an intriguing magic-infused story.”

In a world very much like ours but where Atlantis existed, and existed into the modern era until the survivors of its fall emigrated to a new home in the New World, a scion of a fallen House is wrapped up in mystery and intrigue, as rivalries, schemes and long set plans collide with that scion’s destiny and coming into his true power.

Rune Sun is the last of his kind. House Sun, his tarot card named noble family, has long since fallen and he is the only survivor. A  sword fighter and a sorcerer, he lives doing odd jobs here and there, a down on his luck existence especially given the wealth and power of his peers, and of his life, long ago. It is doing one of those odd jobs, against another noble House, that Sun gets hooked into an intrigue that extends across New Atlantis. That hook, too and just might provide an opportunity for Rune to prove and show his capability and true abilities. If it doesn’t wreck his homeland or get him killed first, that is.

(6) FOR BETTER OR WORSE. ScreenRant, in “DCEU: 5 Best Rivalries (& 5 That Make No Sense)”, says “the characters in these movies and their conflicts are also not so black-and-white. Some of them are good, but others are not.” Here’s part of their list:

6 Makes No Sense: Wonder Woman & Ares

Another pointless final battle in the DCEU includes the one in Wonder Woman. Not only did we expect another character to be Ares, but we also focused on a different conflict, which was Diana’s belief that Ares was causing wars and the reality that people weren’t just all good.

This is why the final battle feels so odd to most viewers. It is just a CGI mess with explosions that are meant to excite those who were expecting such action. But what could have been more logical would be for Diana to finally come to the realization that she was wrong and naive.

(7) CLOSING TIME. Publisher Joe Stech is signing off with Issue 14 of Compelling Science Fiction, his magazine devoted to plausible science fiction.

Welcome to the final issue of Compelling Science Fiction!

The last 3 years have been a fun ride. I wrote a blog post about some of the highlights from my perspective, but here I’ll just say: It was a privilege working with so many wonderful authors, and I hope people enjoy these stories for many years to come. I’ll be leaving every issue up online indefinitely.

As for this issue, I’m happy to say that we’re finishing strong — here are our final five fantastic stories that you can read right now…

Stech wanted hard sf, as he thought of it, but to communicate that he came up with a less-fraught alternative term:

“Plausible science fiction,” in this context, means “science fiction that tries not to disrupt suspension of disbelief for people that have knowledge of science and engineering.” This can mean not blatantly contradicting our current knowledge of the universe, and it can also mean not blatantly ignoring how humans generally behave. It also means internal self-consistency.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • December 15, 1978 Superman: The Movie premiered. It would win a Hugo at  Seacon ’79 with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio program and Watership coming in second and third respectively. Likewise Rotten Tomatoes has 94% of their reviewers giving Superman a positive review.  That it was boffo at the  box office and a critical favorite is hardly surprising either. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 15, 1923 Freeman Dyson, 96. Physicist best known in genre circles for the concept he theorized of a Dyson Sphere which would be built by a sufficiently technologically advanced species around a sun to harvest all solar energy. He credited Olaf Stapledon in Star Maker (1937), in which he described “every solar system… surrounded by a gauze of light traps, which focused the escaping solar energy for intelligent use” with first coming up with the concept. 
  • Born December 15, 1948 Cassandra Harris. She was in For Your Eyes Only as the Countess Lisl von Schlaf. Pierce Brosnan, her third husband, met producer Albert R. Broccoli while she was shooting her scenes and was cast in four Bond films as a result. Her genre resume is short otherwise, an appearance on Space: 1999, and a likewise one-off on Shadows, a YA scary show. (Died 1991.)
  • Born December 15, 1949 Don Johnson, 70. Though Miami Vice is where most will know him from, he has impressive genre creds including the lead in the Ellison-derived A Boy and Dog, voicing Wazir’s Son in Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, Office Andy Brady in the Revenge of the Stepford Wives film and another Sheriff, Earl McGraw, in the From Dusk till Dawn: The Series.
  • Born December 15, 1954 Alex Cox, 65. Ahhh, the Director who back in the early Eighties gave us Repo Man. And that he got a co-writer credit for the screenplay of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas before it was completely rewritten by Gilliam. No, what interests me is that he’s listed as directing a student film version of Harry Harrison’s Bill, the Galactic Hero at University of Colorado Boulder just a few years ago!
  • Born December 15, 1963 Helen Slater, 56. She was Supergirl in the film of that name,  and returned to the 2015 TV series of the same name as Supergirl’s adoptive mother. Also within the DC Universe, she voiced Talia al Ghul in in Batman: The Animated Series. Recently she also voiced Martha Kent in DC Super Hero Girls: Hero of the Year. And Lara in Smallville… And Eliza Danvers on the Supergirl series.  Me? I’m not obsessed at all by the DC Universe though the DCU streaming app is my sole entertainment budget other than an Audible subscription.  Her other genre appearances include being on Supernatural, Eleventh Hour, Toothless, Drop Dead Diva and Agent X
  • Born December 15, 1970 Michael Shanks, 49. Best known for playing Dr. Daniel Jackson in the very long-running Stargate SG-1 franchise. His first genre appearance was in the Highlander series and he’s been in a lot of genre properties including the Outer Limits, Escape from Mars, Andromeda (formally titled Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda and there’s a juicy story there), Swarmed, Mega Snake, Eureka, Sanctuary, Smallville, Supernatural and Elysium. Wow! 

(10) MILES TO GO. Marvel Comics presents “Rapid-Fire Questions with Saladin Ahmed.”

Writer for Spider-Man: Miles Morales and The Magnificent Ms. Marvel, Saladin Ahmed, answers the hard-hitting questions about Kamala and Miles.

(11) OVERWHELMED BY RELATIVISM. The Chengdu in 2023 Worldcon bid prompts Steve Davidson to ask a basket of questions in “The Future for WSFS” at Amazing Stories.

As WSFS – empowered by its ever-shifting fannish membership – moves towards the greater realization of the initial word in its name – World – it will be increasingly called to task over issues and concerns that it has heretofore not had to grapple with.  No longer can Fannish politics enjoy wide separation from real world politics.  One of those questions will surely be How do we assess the fitness of a country to host a Worldcon?

That single question is replete with detail and nuance.  Previously, we’ve applauded governmental support of Worldcons;  Finland was underwritten by the Finnish government;  New Zealand’s Prime Minister recently endorsed an upcoming convention.  On the other hand Chengdou would be taking place in a city that has been designated as a center for science fiction by the Chinese Government and is undoubtedly receiving both financial and material support from the same.

When a government’s support and endorsement is limited to just a bit of funding and some promotional support, we’re unlikely to question its motives (of course they love fans), but at what point do we begin to question those motives?  At what point does our desire for such impact other aspects of our community, and how much influence are we prepared to accept?  (Remember that Scientology attempted to use promotional and financial support to co-opt as Worldcon and its awards.)…

(12) SOMETHING MISSING. Rob Latham identifies snubs and surprises in a review of Gary K. Wolfe’s Sixties novel anthology for Library of America in “An Uneven Showcase of 1960s SF” at LA Review of Books.

…The shortcomings of this set derive, in large part, from constraints not wholly of the editor’s making. Probably because the press wanted to extend its coverage as much as possible, a decision was made to exclude writers who had been featured in the earlier 1950s volumes, meaning that talents who continued to produce compelling work into the subsequent decade — Heinlein, Fritz Leiber, James Blish, Frederik Pohl — were programmatically passed over. At the same time, major authors whose work has come to define the 1960s, but who were already spotlighted in single-author collections, were barred as well: hence, this set does not include Dick’s The Man in the High Castle (1962) or Ubik (1969), Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), or Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle (1963) or Slaughterhouse-Five (1969). And the goal of gathering as many texts as possible into two manageable volumes meant that exceptionally long books could not be chosen, which ruled out the novel often voted by fans as the best ever written in the genre, Frank Herbert’s Dune (1965). Finally, the goal of “balanc[ing] the halves of the decade” — as Wolfe puts it in his introduction — has produced a first volume that is significantly inferior, aesthetically, to the second, since (for reasons I explain below)…

(13) FURSUITING. Mara Reinstein in Parade gives an extensive background to CATS: “Cats Returns! James Corden and Rebel Wilson Take Us Behind the Scenes of the New Cats Movie”.

Ask the Cats cast members why they wanted to be a part of the movie, and the answers all circle back to, well, memories—of the original musical.

Corden, 41, a Tony and Emmy winner perhaps best known for belting out music with celebrities on the hugely popular “Carpool Karaoke” segments on his Late Late Show on CBS, recalls seeing the production with his parents as a 13-year-old in London in the early 1990s. “I remember thinking, Man, this is a spectacle,” he says. “I knew the movie would be great fun.” Wilson, who attended theater school in her native Australia, was visiting London in the early 2000s and caught a performance from the cheap seats. “I had to watch it with little binoculars,” she recalls, “and I was still blown away.”

For Dench, 85, the film served as a Cats homecoming. Back in 1981, she was slated to be part of the original production but had to pull out because of an injury. “We were concentrating every minute of every day on behaving like cats and trying to translate that into a way of moving,” she says. “But I snapped my Achilles tendon during one of the rehearsals, and as anyone knows, that can take a while to heal.” She was “very pleased” to be invited to join the movie production.

(14) OUT OF BREATH. An interview conducted with Richard K. Morgan in 2018 by Professor Sara Martin Alegre is presented in “Thin Air, Deep Dive”.

The novel is called Thin Air partly because this refers to how the ‘terraform eco-magic’ has failed to generated atmospheric conditions beyond ‘four percent Earth sea level standard’. Why this pessimism? Can you also tell a little about the ‘lamina’ and about the role of nanotech in developing Mars?

There is a central conceit that I keep – not consciously, I swear! – returning to in my work. It takes different metaphorical guises, but at root it’s always the same sense of something grand and worthwhile being abandoned by vicious and stupid men in favour of short-term profit and tribal hegemony. You see it in the regressive politics of the Protectorate in the Kovacs novels, the way both the Yhelteth Empire and the – so-called – Free Cities fail their duty as civilisations in A Land Fit for Heroes. So also with Thin Air – the landscape is littered with the markers of a retreat from the grand scheme of terraforming and building a home for humanity on Mars, in favour of an ultra-profitable corporate stasis and an ongoing lie of highly emotive intangibles sold to the general populace in lieu of actual progress. Take a look around you – remind you of anything?

(15) FOUND FOOTAGE. In the “news to me” department – a 2010 episode of Pawn Stars featured a clump of silver rupees recovered from a shipwreck found off the coast of Sri Lanka by Arthur C. Clarke and Mike Wilson in 1961. The discovery became the basis for the book The Treasure of the Great Reef. Clarke’s name is mentioned several times in episode’s “Taj Mahal sunken treasure” segment, which starts around 1:10 of this video:

(16) THE PERILS OF BLABBING. YouTuber TheOdd1sOut’s review of “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” was #1 on the trending tab. Apparently because its anecdotes revolve around why Jim Henson’s daughter was peeved at an earlier review and the nondisclosure agreement he had to sign before screenings of the new series.

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