Pixel Scroll 3/23/22 I’m a Pixel, and a Filer, and a Midnight Scroller

(1) TWIGGING TO IT. The Glasgow in 2024 Worldcon bid is running a community craft project at Reclamation, the 2022 Eastercon. “The Fantastic Tree of Life”. Full plan with ideas about various types of crafts and how to get them to the team can be found at the link. Reclamation 2022 is April 15-18.

The Tree of Life is a symbol found in many cultures and religions around the world. Showing variously the connection between Earth and Sky, the connection between all living things or the cycle of the seasons, there can be many different ways it is depicted. What would the tree look like if it were created by a bunch of SFF fans?

Our goal is to create a wall-hanging of a Tree of Life with all kinds of fantastic lifeforms on it. We will prepare a background cloth with the basic elements on it – earth/grass and sky and the outline of a tree. One of the defining features of the type of Tree of Life we’re envisioning is that it shows all kinds of different leaves, flowers and fruits on the same tree at the same time, often with added animals as well. So, we’re asking you to create something SFF-inspired for the tree – with sources as varied as fairy-tales and space opera, and to be honest, life on this here planet is often strange enough to qualify as well. I’m envisioning something highly stylized and drawing on naive and medieval art rather than realism.

So, what exactly do we want, and what should it be created from? We’re taking the name of Reclamation seriously and are going to reclaim and reuse all the bits and pieces lying around from previous projects – leftover yarn, felt and leather scraps, pretty paper. For example, I’ve been collecting gift wrapping paper that I found too pretty to throw out, as well as a bunch of small pieces that were left over from when I was wrapping the gifts. Those make great sources for origami and other paper crafts!

(2) KICK CANCER’S BUTT. Author John Barnes’ wife has pancreatic cancer and the family needs financial help. A GoFundMe has been launched.

“Fundraiser by Orion Rodriguez : Help Diane Kick Cancer’s Butt!” Full medical details at the link. The appeal’s introduction asks —

A few words from Orion

Whether you’ve worked with her as a teacher or tutor, collaborated with her as an artist, or simply known her as a neighbor or friend, there’s one thing everyone notices about Diane Talbot – she’s dedicated her life to helping others. Now, let’s all step up to help her!

(3) FALLING OFF THE EDGE? [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The Hugo Book Club Blog is delving into the potential issue with the Hugo Award’s 25 percent rule and how some categories are in danger of not being awarded at all, because not enough people vote in them: “The 25 per cent solution”. They suggest how the rule could be revised.

… This rule also comes from a time in which there was far more parity between the number of votes in various categories. In 1980 (the first year that we have full voting statistics on the Hugos for), the category which received the fewest votes was Best Fan Writer. In that year, 884 out of 1,788 Hugo voters voted for Fan Writer, giving that category a participation rate of 49 per cent.

Four decades later, the number of people voting in the Fan Writer category has not substantially changed, but the numbers voting in the prose fiction categories has drastically increased. Thus, the percentage of voters engaged with this category has decreased. This means that these Hugo Award categories are being endangered not due to declining interest in those categories when counted by number of voters, but rather by the enthusiasm and growth of other categories.

Fundamentally, the decision about whether or not the Best Editor – Long Form award is worth running should not be contingent on how many people voted in the Best Dramatic Presentation category….

(4) BORYS IN A BIT OF FINANCIAL DIFFICULTY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.]  Ukranian fan Borys Sydiuk (immediate family and couple of elderly dependents) is in a bit of financial difficulty.  He is in Kyiv but normal means of earning a living have stopped because some idiot keeps chucking shells and missiles at the city.

If anyone wishes to send him a few quid then Borys Sydiuk’s PayPal is info@ngo.org.ua Small amounts gratefully received.  This is not for a huge medical bill or some grand project, but some cash for living basics. (The economy in Ukraine has gone very peculiar.)

(5) SAYING FOR THE DAY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie,] “Science Fiction can only be created by a free mind.” Igor Likhovoi, Ukraine’ s Minister for Culture & Tourism in 2006 at the 2006 Eurocon.

(6) RATHBONE FOLIO PRIZE. The Rathbones Folio Prize 2022 winner is a non-genre novel by Irish novelist Colm Tóibín, The Magician (Viking), a “haunting, intimate portrait of the exiled German Nobel winner Thomas Mann.” He will receive a £30,000 prize,

(7) RICHARD LABONTÉ (1949-2022). Canadian fan, writer and editor Richard Labonté died March 20.

In 1967 he started ACUSFOOS, A Carleton University Speculative Fiction Organization, Of Sorts. He was the one who introduced Susan Wood to fandom as she later recalled: “Too late, I realized that that shy, mild-mannered, clean-shaven, white-shirted young gentleman in the corner of our newspaper office, who did all the work and never spoke to anyone, was the infamous Richard Labonte, Secret Master of Canadian Fandom. I was enslaved…” He soon was part of the community around Susan and Mike Glicksohn’s Hugo-winning fanzine Energumen. He even was once a department head of the National Fantasy Fan Federation, in charge of Round Robins. 

In later years Labonté became well-known professionally as the editor or co-editor of numerous anthologies of LGBT literature and won the Lambda Literary Award three times.

Daniel Lynn Alvarez paid tribute to him on Facebook.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1976 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-six years ago at MidAmeriCon where Ken Keller was the Chair and Robert A. Heinlein (pro) and George Barr (fan) were the Guests, A Boy And His Dog won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. (Also, a pre-release cut was shown at the 1974 Worldcon.)

It was directed by L.Q. Jones who also wrote the screenplay which was based on the novella by Harlan Ellison. A novella nominated for a Hugo at Heicon ’70 – a category won that year by “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones“. 

The cast was Don Johnson, Susanne Benton, Alvy Moore and Jason Robards. It’s a small ensemble but it fit the story.

So how was the reception for it at the time? Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times mostly liked it: “The movie’s about eccentrics (especially the dog, who turns out to be very eccentric), and Jones seems to have a feel for that: The movie doesn’t look or sound like most s-f tours of alternative futures. It’s got a unique . . . well, I was about to say charm, but the movie’s last scene doesn’t quite let me get away with that.”  

The New York Times in an unsigned review (apparently no one wanted to take credit for the review) wasn’t as kind: “’A Boy and His Dog,’ a fantasy about the world after a future holocaust, is, more or less, a beginner’s movie. It has some good ideas and some terrible ones. The good ideas are marred by awkwardness; the terrible ideas are redeemed somewhat by being, at least, unpredictable.”

Despite costing only four hundred thousand to produce, it was a box office disaster. It has, not unsurprisingly, become a cult film. You can watch it on Amazon Prime and a lot of other streaming services as well. Though not quite a Meredith moment, it is available to purchase on Amazon and iTunes. 

It has an excellent sixty-three percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 23, 1904 H. Beam Piper. Was there ever a more fun writer to read? I am reasonably sure that the first thing I read and enjoyed by him was Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen followed by Little Fuzzy and related works which are as I said damn fun reading. Has anyone here read Scalzi’s Fuzzy novel? Not a Hugo to be had by Piper, amazingly, but Little Fuzzy was nominated at the first Discon when The Man in the High Castle won. (Died 1964.)
  • Born March 23, 1934 Neil Barron. Certainly best known for Anatomy of Wonder: A Critical Guide to Science Fiction, actually still a damn fine read, which is unusual for this sort of material which can tend towards being rather dry.  (It picked up a Hugo nomination at NolaCon II.) If memory thirty years on serves me right, his Fantasy Literature and Horror Literature guides were quite good too. He did win an International Horror Guild Award for Fantasy and Horror: A Critical and Historical Guide to Literature, Illustration, Film, TV, Radio, and the Internet . (Died 2010.)
  • Born March 23, 1937 Carl Yoke, 85. One of those academics that I stumbled upon when I was looking for information on Zelazny. His 1979 study of him, Roger Zelazny, is quite excellent, as is his essay, “Roger Zelazny’s Bold New Mythologies” which is in Tom Staicar’s Critical Encounters II: Writers and Themes in Science Fiction. He also wrote “What a Piece of Work is a Man: Mechanical Gods in the Fiction of Roger Zelazny” which you’ll find in Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Yoke does have two genre stories to his credit, they’re called The Michael Holland Stories.
  • Born March 23, 1947 Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, 75. Though her only award was a Nebula for The Healer’s War, I remember her best for a three book series called The Songkiller Saga which was wonderful and the Acorna series that she did with Anne McCaffrey which they co-wrote all but two as the first two were written by McCaffrey and Margaret Ball. She wrote a tribute to McCaffrey, “The Dragon Lady’s Songs”, that appeared in Dragonwriter.
  • Born March 23, 1952 Kim Stanley Robinson, 70. If the Mars trilogy was the only work that he’d written, he’d rank among the best genre writers ever. But then he went and wrote the outstanding Three Californias Trilogy. I won’t say I have liked everything he writes, the Science in the Capital series just didn’t appeal to me. His best one-off novels I think are without argument (ha!) The Years of Rice and Salt and New York 2140.  I should note he has won myriad awards including the Hugo Award for Best Novel for the two in the Mars trilogy at ConAdian and LoneStarCon 2 (the first novel got nominated at ConFrancisco but did not win), BSFA Award for Best Novel, the Nebula Award for Best Novel and the World Fantasy Award. And the Heinlein Society gave him their Robert A. Heinlein Award for his entire body of work! 
  • Born March 23, 1958 John Whitbourn, 64. Writer of a number novels and short stories focusing on an alternative history set in a Catholic universe. It reminds me a bit of Keith Robert’s Pavane but much more detailed. A Dangerous Energy in which Elizabeth I never ascends the throne leads off his series. If that’s not to your taste, Frankenstein’s Legion’s is a sheer delight of Steampunk riffing off Mary Shelley‘s tale. He’s available at the usual digital suspects.
  • Born March 23, 1959 Maureen Kincaid Speller, 63. Former editor of Matrix, and former Administrator of the British Science Fiction Association. Senior Reviews Editor at Strange Horizons and Assistant Editor at Foundation. Also reviews for Interzone and Vector among others; a collection of her reviews appeared as And Another Thing … (2011, chapbook). Co-editor (with husband Paul Kincaid) of The Best of Vector Vo.1 (2015). Fanzines include Steam Engine Time (with Bruce Gillespie and Paul Kincaid) and Snufkin’s Bum. Founder of Acnestis apa. Four-times judge of the Arthur C. Clarke Award, has also served as a judge of the Otherwise Award (formerly known as the James Tiptree Jr. Award) and the Rotsler Award. TAFF delegate in 1998. Joint Fan Guest of Honour at Eastercon 1996 (Evolution) with Paul Kincaid. Winner of the Nova Award for Best Fanwriter 1998. [Birthday done by by Ziv Wities.]
  • Born March 23, 1977 Joanna Page, 45. It’s not the longest of genre resumes but it’s an interesting one. First she’s Ann Crook in From Hell from the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. Next up is appearing in yet another version of The Lost World. (I think that there’s a legal contract requiring one be made every so often.) And finally  she’s Queen Elizabeth I in The Day of The Doctor

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Argyle Sweater’s joke becomes more grotesque every moment you think about it.
  • Bizarro finds inspiration by adding a comma to the first line of a classic.

(11) BRADBURY’S EC STORIES. Fantagraphics will release Home to Stay!: The Complete Ray Bradbury EC Stories on October 25. Surely this belongs under your Halloween tree?

Between 1951 and 1954, EC Comics adapted 28 classic Ray Bradbury stories into comics form, scripted by Al Feldstein and interpreted and illustrated by all of EC’s top artists: Johnny Craig, Reed Crandall, Jack Davis, Will Elder, George Evans, Frank Frazetta, Graham Ingels, Jack Kamen, Bernard Krigstein, Joe Orlando, John Severin, Angelo Torres, Al Williamson, and Wallace Wood. This special companion collection to our EC Comics Library series features all 28 stories with stunning art reproduced in generously oversized coffee table dimensions!

(12) TANGLED UP IN BLUE. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Leslie Felperin of the Guardian reviews the rotoscoped fantasy film The Spine of Night, though she seems to believe it’s steampunk, when it’s really a sword and sorcery film: “The Spine of Night review – a heady concoction of steampunk and flower power”

… The Spine of Night is set in a world that seems to be going through an historical period roughly analogous to our late medieval/early Renaissance era of colonialism and discovery, when better armed conquistadors with better weapons and fewer scruples conquer the native occupants of a swampy land. However, the indigenous people, who go about mostly naked all the time, have magical blue flower power, in the literal shape of a botanical tech that shamanistic priestess Tzod (voiced by Lucy Lawless) can control with her mind and do cool stuff with, like making lethal blue flames…

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, Jerry Kaufman, Ziv Wities, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, 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 Rob Thornton.]