Pixel Scroll 9/30/21 We’ve Replaced Their Files With Scroller’s Pixels. Let’s See If Anyone Notices

(1) CLARION WEST OCTOBER CLASSES. Clarion West is offering three more months of classes. See the full schedule here. Below are the October offerings — click the links for tuition cost and to register.

This class will discuss the history and traditions of the genre, give tips on how to update those traditions in your writing while maintaining a timeless tone, and provide suggestions on creating a modern Southern Gothic atmosphere in your writing. Students will gain a clearer understanding of the genre and its archetypes, as well as be given tools to more readily generate ideas on how to incorporate recognizable traditions of the genre into modern work.

This class is geared toward writers of long and short speculative fiction. As this is a course focusing on genre, it can be relevant to beginning, intermediate, or advanced writers unfamiliar with Southern Gothic and/or desirous of learning how to bring this genre up to date.

The Afro-Surreal is a storytelling approach allowing creators to examine Black contemporary life much more concisely than a traditional literary narrative by permitting that which is physically impossible or defies explanation. Despite Black-centered horror going mainstream, we have yet to see Afro-Surrealism incorporated widely to amplify aspects of psychological horror, weird fiction, traditional supernatural narratives, or splatterpunk. This workshop will define what constitutes Afro-Surrealism, which horror works have successfully employed it, and how to incorporate Afro-Surrealism in your writing while maintaining your own voice. Key aspects of plot, characterization, and action will be discussed, including: the overlap between the Afro-Surreal and the supernatural, dialogue and the disconnect between how marginalized and privileged people experience an interaction, the unreality of action since facts are frequently suppressed or denied when it comes to the Black experience.

Beginning, intermediate, and advanced authors can use this workshop to refine existing drafts or craft new material for future projects. Students will come away from the workshop equipped to adapt techniques developed by surrealists of the African diaspora for communicating bizarre, unreal experiences in their own horror-centric work.

Voice, Dialogue, and Characterization

Many non-Native writers are reticent to develop Native characters, but leaving out Indigenous characters is not an option, especially when writing science fiction, because it makes assumptions about the future. In the book Writing the Other, Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward give practical advice for how to write characters whose backgrounds differ from one’s own. One of their most pertinent pieces of advice is to build relationships with people from those backgrounds. A good start to building a relationship with Indigenous folks is to study their texts.

In this three-hour class, we will discuss several Indigenous futurist texts with Indigenous characters in order to learn how to diversify our science fiction (or otherwise-genred) story in a good way.

Attendees will be provided with readings for class. Writing exercises and prompts will also be provided.

This class is geared toward beginning writers.

Creatives, writers especially, are entirely too familiar with burnout, even before 2020. Trying to get your work published, let alone make a living as an author, requires a volume of effort that can be crushing. 

In this workshop, we’ll focus on regaining a sense of joy and delight in your writing, and generating ideas, characters, and settings that keep your joy front and center as you continue your journey.

How can we make the familiar scary? The aesthetics of a contemporary urban city doesn’t quite have the spine-chilling factor of an ancient village shrouded in fog, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be plenty of scares in everyday life.

In this class, attendees explore how to design new tools to build horror written in contemporary settings that take us beyond expected traditional tropes. Five excerpts from five works of horror fiction, period and contemporary, ranging from Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita to N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became, will be analyzed and discussed, with the ultimate goal of understanding how these examples have gone against the grain in horror to create an original approach to a classic field. Based on these examples, students will propose their own premises and approaches to a non-traditional horror story or novel. In the second session, we will workshop those ideas, flesh them out, and exchange suggestions for improvement. Then students will write excerpts of their own premises. In the third session, we all evaluate how effective each excerpt is and how it can be improved.

How many words does it take to create true fear? There are many genres of horror that can exist in little spaces. In this workshop, attendees will learn how to create short and scary stories within the confines of micro and flash fiction (100-1,000 words). We’ll study the similarities between comedy and horror in terms of timing, expectation, and subversion. We’ll learn about wildcard characters, invented worlds, and pacing strategies to set up suspense. Throughout the workshop, we’ll stay close to character and keep an eye on how turning points and climaxes are related to the specificity of voice, desire, and fear. By the end of this workshop, participants will have the beginnings of several new horror flash pieces based on in-class writing prompts, a worksheet for outlining a short horror piece, and resources and recommendations for further reading. 

If you’ve ever wanted to include the Tarot in your novel or short story without looking like a Fool, this class will teach you how to avoid common divinatory pitfalls. Learn why an all-Majors spread is statistically unlikely (and laughably overused), the basics behind each suit’s themes, and why the Eight of Swords can be scarier than Death itself!

Alternatively, if you just want to use the Tarot to help you get unblocked in your own writing, this class can provide tips and tricks for that too. Tarot can also be used as a tool to help clarify plot arcs and themes in your writing. Iori and Vida will discuss finding (and breaking in!) the right deck, interpretation tips, and useful spreads and layouts. 

(2) INSPIRED MUSIC. And on October 9, the Bushwick Book Club Seattle presents original music inspired by Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch. This will be a hybrid in-person and livestreamed event. Get tickets here.

An evening of musicians and artists premiering new, original works inspired by the written word.

Story: For Sunny, twelve years old and albino, her arrival in Nigeria from America was shocking enough—until she discovers herself smack in the middle of a world of indescribable magic.
Themes: Self-discovery, friendship, tradition
Heads-up: Killer on the loose, racism (more at Book Trigger Warnings / Trigger Warning database)

(3) RITE GUD. Raquel S. Benedict’s Rite Gud podcast discusses “Tragedy of the Creative Commons: Superheroes and Modern Mythology” in a new installment that dropped today.

Whenever a critic complains about the ubiquity or the creative emptiness of superhero narratives in contemporary pop culture, fans argue back that mass entertainment is just the modern incarnation of our rich cultural heritage: superheroes are mythology, and fandom is folklore. Is this true, or is this a way to flatten the complexities of traditional art while giving commercial media a spiritual significance it does not deserve?

Karlo Yeager Rodríguez joins us.

(4) LEFT BANK LOGROLLING. The New York Times covers a French literary kerfuffle: “In Paris, It’s Literary Scandal Season Again”.

The sidewalks of Paris were already strewn with fallen chestnuts by the time the literary season’s first scandal finally broke.

Most Septembers, as French publishers release their most promising books and start jockeying for prizes, the world of letters is engulfed in the Left Bank’s version of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

This season had been unfolding smoothly — unnaturally, impossibly so, some literary observers quipped — until trouble hit the one big French literary prize known for its probity: the Goncourt, the 118-year-old standard-bearer of the French novel, whose laureates include Marcel Proust, Simone de Beauvoir and Marguerite Duras.

Things started when the Goncourt’s 10 jurors gathered this month, over a lunch of roast duckling with cherries and bottles of Château Maucaillou 2015, to come up with their long list of contenders. The author of one book up for consideration happened to be the romantic partner of one of the jurors, Camille Laurens, a novelist and book reviewer at Le Monde. In fact, the book was dedicated to a certain “C.L.”

Other French prizes are also known for their jurors’ conflicts of interest.

…At the Renaudot and other big prizes, jurors openly lobby for books in which they have a personal or professional stake. Some judges are also editors at big publishing houses and advocate titles by their employers — or books they have themselves edited.

Before the changes at the Goncourt, it, too, was referred to by some critics as “the Goncourt mafia,” recalled the jury’s current president, Didier Decoin, who has been a juror since 1995.

(5) WRITING PROMO COPY. At Dream Foundry, Catherine Lundoff advises about “Words that Sell: Writing Marketing Copy for Your Novel”.

…Some day, when we can have book tables at conventions again, it’s very helpful to watch people when they pick up your books and read the back. That reaction can be magical or disappointing, but either way, it tells you when your copy grabs someone’s attention. In the meantime, look at your reviews, particularly the ones from readers. If they are consistently “expecting something else,” that may be a sign to review your marketing copy and ask writer friends to help you vet it.…

(6) THEY TURNED DOWN THE VOLUMES. The Pew Research Center can tell you “Who doesn’t read books in America?”

Roughly a quarter of American adults (23%) say they haven’t read a book in whole or in part in the past year, whether in print, electronic or audio form, according to a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted Jan. 25-Feb. 8, 2021. Who are these non-book readers?

Several demographic traits are linked with not reading books, according to the survey. For instance, adults with a high school diploma or less are far more likely than those with a bachelor’s or advanced degree to report not reading books in any format in the past year (39% vs. 11%). Adults with lower levels of educational attainment are also among the least likely to own smartphones, an increasingly common way for adults to read e-books….

More statistical cross-sections at the link.

(7) TOMMY KIRK (1941-2021). Best known as a young Disney star, actor Tommy Kirk died September 28 at the age of 79. His first venture for Disney was in the Mickey Mouse Club’s genre-adjacent serial The Hardy Boys: The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure, and the studio later cast him in numerous sort-of-genre productions like The Shaggy Dog, Son of Flubber, The Absent Minded ProfessorBabes in ToylandMoon PilotThe Misadventures of Merlin Jones and The Monkey’s Uncle. He was also in several Sixties beach party movies, a couple of them sf-tinged — playing a Martian in the 1964 feature film Pajama Party, and in The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini. His other sff roles included the campy Village of the Giants, and Mars Needs Women. Late in his career he appeared in Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfold (1995), Billy Frankenstein (1998) and The Education of a Vampire (2001).

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1988 – Thirty-three years ago on this date, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark premiered. It was directed by James Signorelli from a script by Sam Egan, John Paragon, and of course Cassandra Peterson who is as you know the person behind the impressive facade of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. She’s really the only cast that matters here as this is Her Vehicle.  Critics liked it with one saying that it was “Campy, witty and always eager to push the bawdy limits of a PG-13 rating”. 

Unfortunately for Elvira, Mistress of the Dark at the box office the distributor went dramatically out of business without warning the day before it came out, so it would only ever appear on five hundred screens instead of the twenty-five hundred that was intended, so it ended up losing a lot of money despite only costing seven-and-a-half million to produce. (Her costume might be the most expensive thing in the film.) Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it an excellent sixty-five percent rating.  

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 30, 1932 — Antoinette Bower, 89. I’ll start off with her being Sylvia in the classic Trek episode of “Catspaw” written by Robert Bloch. She had a previous genre appearance in a Twilight Zone story, “Probe 7, Over and Out” in which she was Eva Nord. It’s a shaggy God story as so termed by Brian Aldiss. She also had one-offs in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.The Wild Wild WestMission: ImpossibleGet Smart and The Six Million Dollar Man.
  • Born September 30, 1946 — Dan O’Bannon. Screenwriter, director, visual effects supervisor, and  actor. He wrote the Alien script, directed The Return of the Living Dead, provided special computer effects on Star Wars, was writer of two segments of Heavy MetalSoft Landing and B-17, co-writer with Ronald Shusett and  Gary Goldman of the first Total Recall. That’s not complete listing by any stretch! (Died 2009.)
  • Born September 30, 1950 — Laura Esquivel, 71. Mexican author of Como agua para chocolateLike Water for Chocolate in English. Magical realism and cooking with more than a small soupçon of eroticism. Seriously the film is amazing as is the book. ISFDB says she’s also written La ley del amor (The Law of Love) which I’ve not read. 
  • Born September 30, 1951 — Simon Hawke, 70. Author of the quite superb Wizard of 4th Street series as Well as the TimeWars series.He has written Battlestar GalacticaTrekFriday the 13th, Predator and Dungeons & Dragons novels as well as the genre adjacent Shakespeare & Smythe mysteries which bear titles such as Much Ado About Murder
  • Born September 30, 1959 — Debrah Farentino, 62. She’s was in the cast of Earth 2 (never saw it — how was it?) and the recurring character of Dr. Beverly Barlowe on Eureka (superb, her character and the series). She was also in Son of the Pink Panther, Baker Street: Sherlock Holmes Returns, and the “Mind Over Matter” episode of Outer Limits. 
  • Born September 30, 1960 — Nicola Griffith, 61. Editor with Stephen Pagel of the genre gender anthologies, Bending the Landscape: Science Fiction and Bending the Landscape: Fantasy (World Fantasy Award and Lambda winner) and Bending the Landscape: HorrorAmmonite won both the Lambda and Otherwise Awards. She also garnered a Lambda and a Nebula for the most excellent Slow River. All of her novels are available from the usual digital suspects. 
  • Born September 30, 1972 — Sheree Renée Thomas, 49. Writer, Shotgun Lullabies: Stories & Poems and Sleeping Under the Tree of Life; Editor, Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora which won a World Fantasy Award, and Dark Matter: Reading the Bones which also won a World Fantasy Award. She’s also written a variety of poems and essays including “Dear Octavia, Octavia E. Butler, Ms. Butler, Mother of Changes”. In 2020, Thomas was named editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Half Full proves no matter where you go there’s no escaping the spam.

(11) GUESSING WHO. Radio Times speculates about “Who will be the next Doctor Who after Jodie Whittaker?”.

At the moment there’s not much to go on, and the BBC have only said the decision will be revealed “in due course” – but, based on a few of the names swirling about, our own theories about how the next Doctor would be chosen and recommendations from RadioTimes.com staff, here are a few of our picks for the Fourteenth Doctor.

Spoiler alert: we are almost certainly wrong. But if we’re right, well, you heard (or read) it here first….

Meanwhile, “Billie Piper hints at possible Doctor Who return”.

The I Hate Suzie star, who played the Ninth and Tenth Doctor’s companion Rose Tyler from 2005 until 2008, said in a recent Cameo video that she would consider reprising the iconic role if the moment was right.

“Would I ever go back? I think if the circumstances and the story were right,” she said. “I feel like I’ve had enough time away from it to really, really want back in on it.

“I feel like my kids are are at a good age and may appreciate that too, which is often my incentive to do anything.”…

And Radio Times’ Paul Kirkley adds his own evidence-free guesses about “What to expect from Russell T Davies’ return”.

…Will it be easy, this gear shift? Not for a second. Firstly, anyone who thinks this is going to mean a return to regular Saturday night audiences of eight million (faithful) viewers is probably deluding themselves; that world no longer exists. Sure, the likes of Line of Duty and Vigil may have proved that reports of linear TV’s death continue to be exaggerated, but Doctor Who relies on continually refreshing its audience with a new generation of younger viewers. And, as Ofcom has warned, the traditional broadcasters are currently staring down the barrel of a “lost generation” who, lured away by sexy young buzz brands like Netflix, Disney Plus and YouTube, increasingly view the BBC as that funny old thing your nan watches in the afternoons. (BBC One’s average viewing age, lest we forget, is 61.)

… If, as hinted, Russell does want to expand the Doctor Who “empire”, what sort of expanded portfolio might we reasonably expect? The short answer: haven’t got a Scooby. But has that stopped you starting to build your own fantasy Doctor Who Cinematic Universe in your head? Of course it hasn’t.

So what’s on your bingo card? How about an anthology series featuring one-shot appearances from former – possibly unseen – Doctors? (Hugh Grant as a pre-Hartnell Doctor, anyone?) A stylish period spy-fi drama about the early years of UNIT? Jo Martin’s Fugitive Doctor versus The Division? A Dalek cartoon for the kids? The Humker and Tandrell Adventures…?

Will Russell be dusting off his proposal for Rose Tyler: Earth Defender? Is Torchwood coming back? (Er, probably not.) And will they please, for the love of the mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe, just give us something – anything – with Paul McGann in?

(12) PRODUCT PLACEMENT IN PRATCHETT. [Item by Meredith.] This is old (a 2011 post) but it’s so incredible I thought it might still deserve a spot in the Scroll: Terry Pratchett changes his German publisher because they inserted a soup advert into the text of one of his novels. “Terry Pratchett and the Maggi Soup Adverts” at Stuffed Crocodile.

…Fans of course got used to it, if it gave them access to the books, why not? But it became more and more grating the more genre literature was accepted into mainstream.

And then you actually had a bestseller author like Pratchett jump ship and go to the direct contender (Goldmann), just because one of these stupid stunts. I wonder how that actually was taken by the Heyne CEOs. Back then Pratchett was at the verge of becoming a star in Germany as well, so they lost him just when he was getting big….

There’s a scan of an ad in the post, too.

Diane Duane also wrote a post (with scans) on her blog in 2015: “What’s the Rihannsu for ‘soup’?” at Out of Ambit.

If the above (and below) images look a little bizarre, well, they should. They’re from long-ago German editions of My Enemy, My Ally and The Romulan Way into which the publisher inserted soup ads.

(13) NANO BUNDLE. StoryBundle is offering a 2021 NaNoWriMo Writing Tools Bundle, curated by Kevin J. Anderson.

Each year, as countless determined writers, both aspiring and professional, look at November as National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, we put together a grab back of helpful books that cover all aspects of writing, from craft, to business, to indie publishing, to marketing. This year is no exception.

Presenting a world-class StoryBundle of 16 books that will help you up your game as a writer. Plus, if you meet the bonus price, you can also get discount coupon codes for the ebook editing apps Jutoh 3 and Jutoh 3 Plus!

(14) IT’S A THEORY. Did social media clamoring for actress Lucy Lawless to be cast backfire? “Lucy Lawless Says ‘Mandalorian’ Fan Campaign to Replace Gina Carano Hurt Chances of ‘Star Wars’ Gig” at Yahoo!.

…Lawless revealed to Metro that she was actually circling a different “Star Wars”-adjacent role at the time of Carano’s firing, and she said the fans urging for her “Mandalorian” casting might’ve cost her a trip to a galaxy far, far away.

“Well to be honest with you, I was already in discussions about something on — it wasn’t ‘The Mandalorian’ — something Star Wars-affiliated,’ Lawless said. “[The fan campaign] might have hurt me in some way, because then [Lucasfilm] couldn’t hire me because it would seem to be pandering to…I’m just guessing here, I don’t know anything, but in some ways, it can be unhelpful, because if they pander to this fan group, then how are you going to pander to every other fan group, do you know what I mean?”…

(15) OCTOTHORPE. The Octothorpe podcast team, John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty, say about episode 41: “We recorded this before Fantasycon, but that didn’t stop us talking about it a whole bunch. We also talk about Novacon’s COVID policy, discuss the Ignyte Awards and do picks.”  “Leaves the Beans In”.

(16) ICE CUBE ROOTER. The New York Times knows “Where NASA Will Send Its First Robotic Moon Rover to Search for Ice”.

NASA has been planning for years to send a robotic rover to the moon’s polar regions. Water ice trapped at the bottoms of craters there could be a boon to future visiting astronauts, providing water to drink, air to breathe and rocket fuel to propel them back to Earth or even farther out into the solar system.

Now, NASA has identified the crater that the rover — the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER — will spend about 100 days exploring when it arrives in a couple of years.

VIPER will land near the moon’s south pole, at the western edge of the 45-mile-wide Nobile crater, which formed when something hit the moon. Near the poles, the sun is low on the horizon and the bottoms of craters, lying in permanent shadows, are among the coldest places in the solar system….

(17) BEYOND GOOSEBUMPS. SYFY Wire promotes the trailer for a new series based on R.L. Stine’s YA comic: “Just Beyond on Disney+ drops first spooky trailer for R.L. Stine series”.

Just Beyond. Based on the BOOM! Studios YA comic of the same name (written by Goosebumps and Fear Street creator, R.L. Stine), the eight-episode anthology heads for Disney+ in October. 

The official press release teases a collection of “astonishing and thought-provoking stories” about witches, aliens, ghosts, parallel dimensions, and more. Each episode will feature an entirely new cast of characters “who must go on a surprising journey of self-discovery in a supernatural world.” 

Seth Grahame-Smith (author of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and one of the writers behind HBO Max’s upcoming Green Lantern series) serves as writer, executive producer, and showrunner….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: WarioWare: Get It together!” Fandom Games says this new extension of the Warioware franchise features snappy little games with characters named 5-Volt, 9-Volt, and 12-Volt and in the next edition they’ll  “eliminate the middleman,” and is a snack-size alternative to watching TikTok videos of men punching themselves over and over.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/15/20 Pixelo And Scrolliet – A Play In Three Acts By Filiam Scrollspeare

(1) NEBULA NOMINATIONS DEADLINE. It’s today, and only a few hours away.

(2) VET BILL APPEAL. Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson has launched the “Bo the Wonder Dog Medical Fund” at GoFundMe.

My wife and I adopted Bo nearly 17 years ago.  

He’s been a great friend and companion, helping me through the loss of my wife to cancer and being a “great guy”.

Bo has some issues:  he’s had chronic pancreatitis and has been diagnosed with Chron’s disease.

…With the loss of my wife a couple of years ago, my personal financial picture has changed dramatically (loss of one entire income, health care, etc) and, while I’ve kept up with the bills (barely) and gotten some help from the family, I anticipate that expenses for treatment will continue for a while and I simply can not afford them.

At the current time, the outstanding balance on his bill is approximately $1300.00 – and that does not include the bill for emergency vet care when I had to bring him in at 11:30 pm on 2/16/20 [sic].  I expect that we are currently looking at around $2500 all told, and that’s just going to increase with additional office visits, tests and medications.

Bo is an extremely intelligent, vibrant, engaged silky terrier; the image shown here appeared on the cover of the Sunday Concord Monitor (NH) showing his involvement with Amazing Stories magazine.  

And Bo is the last remaining connection I have with my wife as we adopted him together and he is in many ways the child of our marriage.

I simply don’t want him to suffer, regardless of what the eventual diagnoses ends up being and I don’t want him to suffer simply because the bills can’t be paid.

(3) HWA INTERVIEW SERIES. Horror Writers of America is celebrating Women in Horror Month by interviewing some of the top women in the horror field in a series called Females of Fright. Here’s what’s online so far —

(4) BUTLER’S PARABLE ON STAGE. There will be a performance of the stage adaptation of “Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower” on Saturday, March 7 in UCLA’s Royce Hall. See details at the link.

Based on the novels Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler, this genre-defying work of political theater featuring a powerhouse ensemble of 20 singers, actors and musicians harnesses 200 years of Black music to give musical life to Butler’s acclaimed science fiction novel. Parable of the Sower, set in 2024 and published in 1993, presciently grapples with many of the same issues we face today—global warming, corporate influence over government, a destabilized economy, water scarcity, food scarcity, the privatization of social services, homelessness, public safety, a return of long forgotten diseases and the profit-making machine that runs the medical industry. Written by singer, composer and producer Toshi Reagon in collaboration with her mother, Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon (song leader, composer, scholar, social activist and founder of Sweet Honey In the Rock), Parable Of The Sower is a mesmerizing theatrical work of rare power and beauty that reveals deep insights into gender, race and the future of human civilization.

(5) STILL NO CIGAR. “Sonic the Hedgehog movie: Critics put the brakes on” – a BBC survey of the media response.

The reviews are in for the new-and-improved Sonic the Hedgehog movie, and the critics have been getting their (human) teeth stuck in.

The trailer was out last May, but Sonic went back to the drawing board after fans reacted badly to how he looked.

Variety said he “has been redesigned to satisfy fans, but no-one figured out how to make him as fun as he is fast”.

And IndieWire declared that “fixing Sonic’s terrifying face hasn’t made this movie any less of a nightmare”.

Jim Carrey plays Dr Robotnik, who – as well as the US government – is chasing the supersonic Sega hedgehog, portrayed in voice and facial motion capture by Ben Schwartz.

The Guardian gave the film two stars, noting how “dastardly Jim Carrey gives Sonic the blues”.

The paper’s critic Steve Rose wrote: “Carrey’s moustache-twirling villain is more fun and far more animated than the charmless hero in this derivative caper.”

(6) NOODLING AUDIBLY. Scott Edelman invites fans to nibble fried noodles with John Edward Lawson in Episode 115 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

My latest lunch on which you get to eavesdrop is with John Edward Lawson, the author of 16 books of fiction and poetry, plus numerous chapbooks. His short stories have been collected in such titles as Pocketful of Loose Razorblades, Discouraging at Best, and most recently Devil Entendre, while his poetry can be found in multiple titles, including The Plague Factory, The Scars Are Complimentary, Bibliophobia, and the Bram Stoker Award finalist The Troublesome Amputee.

He’s the founding editor of Raw Dog Screaming Press, which was given a Specialty Press Award by the Horror Writers Association in 2019. He currently serves as vice president of Diverse Writers and Artists of Speculative Fiction, and also manages the Broadkill Writers Resort, which he founded in 2016.

We met for lunch recently on a rainy day in Washington D.C. at Dolan Uyghur restaurant. It was my first taste of Uyghur cuisine, and I was quite impressed, particularly by the hand pulled noodles in my Laghman.

We discussed the birth of the bizarro horror subgenre (and the surprisingly democratic way in which it was named), the reason Alien both repelled and attracted him, how trying to sell screenplays led to him publishing his first short fiction instead, the story of his which was the most emotionally difficult to write, how he won a poetry award only after giving up on poetry, the unexpected gift he was given when starting his own publishing company, his initial doubts about naming his press Raw Dog Screaming, how he survived the 2008 financial meltdown which sank so many small presses, why he loves watching people bicker, the reason he became known as “the forgotten black man of horror,” and much more.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 15, 1883 Sax Rohmer. Though doubtless best remembered for his series of novels featuring the arch-fiend Fu Manchu, I’ll also single out The Romance of Sorcery as he based his mystery-solving magician character Bazarada on Houdini who he was friends with. (Died 1959.)
  • Born February 15, 1907 Cesar Romero. Joker in the classic Batman TV series and film. I think that Lost Continent as Major Joe Nolan was his first SF film, with Around the World in 80 Days as Abdullah’s henchman being his other one. He had assorted genre series appearances on series such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Get Smart, Fantasy Island and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. (Died 1994.)
  • Born February 15, 1914 Kevin McCarthy. Best remembered as Dr. Miles Bennell in The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. He would later have recurring roles in Twilight Zone and is in the Twilight Zone movie as well having a cameo in the Seventies remake of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Other SF credits include The Howling, Innerspace, Addams Family Reunion and Looney Tunes: Back in Action in which he had a cameo as Dr. Miles Bennell. (Died 2010.)
  • Born February 15, 1916 Ian Ballantine. He founded and published the paperback line of Ballantine Books from 1952 to 1974 with his wife, Betty Ballantine. The Ballantines were both inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2008, with a joint citation. During the Sixties, they published the first authorized paperback edition of Tolkien’s books. (Died 1995.)
  • Born February 15, 1917 Meg Wyllie. She was the Talosian “Keeper” in the Trek pilot episode, “The Cage”. She would show up later in Batman as Grandma in the “Black Widow Strikes Again” episode and earlier in her career, she was in Twilight Zone episode “The Night of the Meek” as Sister Florence. She’s Granny Gordon in The Last Starfighter. (Died 2002.)
  • Born February 15, 1935 Paul Wenzel, 85. Disney illustrator responsible for such works as the Mary Poppins posters, the Walt Disney commemorative stamp and concept art of The Haunted Mansion. For those of you asking why he’s here, I’ll note that during the Sixties, he did both covers and interiors for Fantastic Stories of ImaginationIf ,Galaxy, Space Travel and Worlds of Tomorrow
  • Born February 15, 1945 Jack Dann, 75. Dreaming Down-Under which he co-edited with Janeen Webb is an amazing anthology of Australian genre fiction. It won Ditmar Award and was the first Australian fiction book ever to win the World Fantasy Award. If you’ve not read it, go do so. As for his novels, I’m fond of High Steel written with Jack C. Haldeman II, and The Man Who Melted. He’s not that well stocked digitally speaking though Dreaming Down-Under is available on Kindle. 
  • Born February 15, 1948 Art Spiegelman, 72. Author and illustrator of Maus which if you’ve not read, you really should. He also wrote MetaMaus which goes into great detail how he created that work. And yes, I know he had a long and interesting career in underground comics but I’ll be damn if I can find any that are either genre or genre adjacent. 
  • Born February 15, 1958 – Cat Eldridge, 62, is the publisher of Green Man Review and Sleeping Hedgehog. Cat, who’s had some severe health problems, likes to remind people, “Technically I died in 2017 and was revived in the same year.”
  • Born February 15, 1971 Renee O’Connor, 49. Gabrielle on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. I’m reasonably that I watched every damn episode of both series when they aired originally. Quite fun stuff. Her first genre role was first as a waitress in Tales from the Crypt andshe’s had some genre film work such as Monster Ark and Alien Apocalypse. She’s also played Lady Macbeth in the Shakespeare by the Sea’s production of Macbeth.

(8) PEAK TELEVISION IS HERE. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Watching television in the modern era is like trying to drink from a fire hose: According to Nielsen, there were 646,152 unique programs available to view on television in 2019. This is the first time that there’s been a full survey done of available content, but they also ran numbers for the previous few years, and found that 2019 saw 10 per cent more content available than any previous year. From WIRED: “There Were 646,152 Things to Watch on TV Last Year”  

From the report: “We are at the flash point of the “streaming wars,” with an array of new subscription and ad-supported platforms seeking to capitalize on what is a massive global opportunity for consumer attention and value.”

(9) ANOTHER BRANCH IN THE TREE. “‘Ghost’ DNA In West Africans Complicates Story Of Human Origins”NPR has the story.

About 50,000 years ago, ancient humans in what is now West Africa apparently procreated with another group of ancient humans that scientists didn’t know existed.

There aren’t any bones or ancient DNA to prove it, but researchers say the evidence is in the genes of modern West Africans. They analyzed genetic material from hundreds of people from Nigeria and Sierra Leone and found signals of what they call “ghost” DNA from an unknown ancestor.

Our own species — Homo sapiens — lived alongside other groups that split off from the same genetic family tree at different times. And there’s plenty of evidence from other parts of the world that early humans had sex with other hominins, like Neanderthals.

That’s why Neanderthal genes are present in humans today, in people of European and Asian descent. Homo sapiens also mated with another group, the Denisovans, and those genes are found in people from Oceania.

The findings on ghost DNA, published in the journal Science Advances, further complicate the picture of how Homo sapiens — or modern humans — evolved away from other human relatives. “It’s almost certainly the case that the story is incredibly complex and complicated and we have kind of these initial hints about the complexity,” says Sriram Sankararaman, a computational biologist at UCLA.

(10) ONE OF THESE DAYS… “Wanted: New astronauts for Nasa Moon mission”

Going into space is a dream shared by children and adults around the world.

Although humans have not stepped foot on the Moon in almost half a century, Nasa hopes to change this. It plans to land the first woman – and the next man – on the lunar surface by 2024.

And now the US space agency is looking for candidates to take part in its future missions.

So with applications opening from 2 to 31 March, what does it take to become an astronaut?

Nationality matters

Since the 1960s, Nasa has selected 350 candidates to train as astronauts, with 48 currently in the active astronaut corps.

But as it is a US federal agency, the first requirement to join Nasa is American citizenship, although dual nationals are also eligible to apply.

This rule has not put everyone off: late British astronaut Piers Sellers left the UK and became a US citizen as part of his dream to become an astronaut, and later flew on three space shuttle missions.

(11) AND HOW. BBC video — “Record-breaking astronaut: ‘Do what scares you'”.

Christina Koch spent 328 days on the International Space Station and was part of the first all-female spacewalk.

The astronaut also surpassed the previous female record reached by Peggy Whitson in June 2017 for time spent in space.

She touched back down to Earth on 6 February.

(12) DRONING AWAY. PetaPixel invites you to “Watch an Anti-Drone Laser Literally Fry a Bunch of DJI Drones from Miles Away”.

Israeli defense technology company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd recently released a demo of their special “Drone Dome” counter-drone defense system. A car-mounted anti-drone solution that can fry unwelcome drones from miles away using a high-powered laser beam.

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