Pixel Scroll 2/3/23 Listen To Them, The Pixels Of The Scroll! What Files They Make!

(1) SPACE UNICORNS SOUND OFF. You have until February 21 to make your voice heard: “Uncanny Celebrates Reader Favorites of 2022!”.

…While we have our personal favorites, we’d like to know which stories YOU loved from Uncanny in 2022.

We’ve set up a poll for Uncanny readers to vote for their top three favorite original short stories from 2022. (You can find links to all of the stories here.)

The poll will be open from January 31 to February 21, after which we’ll announce the results. We’re excited for you to share which Uncanny stories made you feel!

snazzy certificate will be given to the creator whose work comes out on top of  the poll!

(2) LOCUS RECOMMENDED READING LIST. The 2022 Locus Recommended Reading List from the magazine’s February issue has been posted by Locus Online.

(3) CEMETARY DANCE DROPS MONTELEONE. [Item by rcade.] He was still an active columnist for the magazine, 29 years after the bigoted column. Not any more, though:

(4) A FAREWELL TO HARMS. Priya Sridhar writes “My Goodbye Letter To J.K. Rowling: What To Do When Your Magical World Has Cast You And Your Friends Out With Hate” at Medium in Counter Arts. (Via Cat Rambo.)

… J.K. Rowling has joined the list of these creators that break their pedestals. I’ve been debating on writing this article for several years, because I did not understand. How could a woman that wrote about fighting tyranny with courage and friendship say such things, to hurt people? Why would she dig herself deeper, going from misappropriating Navajo beliefs to claiming that trans people do not exist?

This recent transphobia has provided the answer. YouTuber Jessie Gender posted a video revealing that JKR found her tweets about Jessie talking about Hogwarts Legacy, and decided to send her own fanbase against one person, labeling her a “trans gamer”. Jessie had to spend Christmas in Buffalo, New York, dealing with the fallout. According to the video, JKR apparently earns more money every time she talks about this issue in her hateful way. She didn’t care that she would be hurting a vulnerable person if it got the desired reaction.

JKR isn’t causing controversy because she is being an idiot. She’s harassing marginalized creators and critics to earn more revenue from her books and establish power over those that disagree with her.

Now, doesn’t that sound familiar? Oh yes, I know two bigoted characters that did exactly the same thing in the Harry Potter series. Spoiler alert: they were not protagonists, or even heroic side characters….

(5) BLACK HERITAGE IN HORROR. The Horror Writers Association Blog continues its series: “Black Heritage in Horror: Interview with Beatrice Winifred Iker”.

What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?

I grew up in Southern Appalachia with a rich sociocultural history to draw from. The horrors and allure of the South are genuinely neverending, fostering my interest in the genre, specifically in the subgenre of southern gothic.

Aside from that, I’m fascinated with the darker tendencies and desires of the human mind. We spend so much time assimilating and confining ourselves to social norms, but I’m more interested in examining people and histories who choose not to or don’t have a choice….

(6) IT’S A FELONY. Them explains why “Some Florida Teachers Are Removing Books from Classrooms Due to New State Law”.

Teachers in Florida’s Manatee and Duval counties are removing or physically covering up books in their classrooms after the State Board of Education ruled that a law restricting the books a district may possess applies not only to school libraries but to teachers’ classroom books as well.

House Bill 1467, which went into effect last July, requires that all schools’ books may only be displayed if they’ve been deemed appropriate by a librarian or “certified media specialist” who has undergone state retraining. Under the guidelines, books must be “free of pornographic material” and “appropriate for the age level and group.” New training approved by the State Board of Educators also asks media specialists to avoid books with “unsolicited theories that may lead to student indoctrination.”

Breaking the law is a third-degree felony: A teacher could face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for displaying or giving students a banned book. 

There’s a good chance that these “unsolicited theories” and “student indoctrination” tactics apply to the disproportionately high number of banned books that feature queer and trans characters, as well as other marginalized communities. A report from nonprofit group PEN America released last September found that over 41% of books banned over the past school year were targeted due to LGBTQ+ content…

(7) SCAM REVEALED. At Writer Beware, Victoria Strauss alerts everyone to: “Peak Fake: United Writers Organization and the Perpetual Eagle Awards”.

There’s a new solicitation doing the rounds. It’s from United Writers Organization, which describes itself as a “leading professional organization” for writers and publishers, and it delivers exciting news: you’ve been nominated for an award! A “complimentary nomination certificate” is yours for the asking–you don’t even have to pay! Although of course it would be nice if you became a UWO member, which will cost you a mere $99….

… Of course this is a scam–the out of the blue solicitation is a big clue, as are the language and grammar mistakes and telltale info from UWO’s domain registration–just 7 days old as of this writing, somewhat contradicting “Est. 1957” in the UWO logo….

(8) FESTIVAL OF MONSTERS. The Center for Monster Studies has put out a call for papers for the 2023 Festival of Monsters Conference. The conference will be held October 13-15, 2023 at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The deadline to submit abstracts and short bios is March 1.

The Center for Monster Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz is an interdisciplinary research, arts, and outreach organization focused on the ways monsters and tropes of monstrosity both perpetuate and contravene forms of social and cultural injustice. Each year we host a Festival of Monsters that brings together scholars, artists, students, and members of the general public to consider these issues.

Our 2023 Festival of Monsters (Oct. 13-15 in beautiful Santa Cruz) includes an academic conference, performances, readings, presentations from monster-makers in theatre, film and television, and events in association with an exhibit at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (MAH) entitled Werewolf Hunters, Jungle Queens, and Space Commandos: The Lost Worlds of Women Comics Artists.

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers or presentations on any aspect of monsters or monster studies. We are particularly interested in work that addresses the following topics:

Women creators of monsters

Monsters and misogyny

Monsters in comics

Monsters and sexual politics from any time period

Monsters and queerness

Papers from all disciplines are welcome. Because participants in the Festival include members of the general public as well as people from within the academic community, we ask that proposed papers consider the Festival’s mixed audience. We welcome complex theoretical concepts and scholarly interventions, but please make sure the terms and stakes of your paper are articulated as clearly as possible.   

Please submit 250-word abstracts and 50-word bios to [email protected] and [email protected] by March 1, 2023.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1937 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Now it is time for my all-time favorite Beginnings. It’s the first words of Tolkien’s The Hobbit, a novel I’ve read so many times that I know it by heart at this point. I consider it a perfect novel. 

Now we all know that the hobbit here is named Baggins but that won’t know here until the third paragraph of the novel, a nice touch indeed.  

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats—the hobbit was fond of visitors. The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill—The Hill, as all the people for many miles round called it—and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then on another. No going upstairs for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed on the same floor, and indeed on the same passage. The best rooms were all on the left-hand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden, and meadows beyond, sloping down to the river.

This hobbit was a very well-to-do hobbit, and his name was Baggins. The Bagginses had lived in the neighbourhood of The Hill for time out of mind, and people considered them very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also because they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected: you could tell what a Baggins would say on any question without the bother of asking him. This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the neighbours’ respect, but he gained—well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 3, 1925 John Fiedler. He’s solely here as he played the ever so bland bureaucrat who gets possessed by the spirit of Jack the Ripper on the Trek episode “Wolf in the Fold”. I’m less interested in him, though it was a stellar episode, than who wrote that screenplay. It was written by Robert Bloch, a master of horror who would write two other Trek episodes, “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” and “Catspaw”. (Died 2005.)
  • Born February 3, 1933 George Gipe. Screenwriter, The Man with Two Brains. He also wrote Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid but it’d be a stretch to consider that even genre adjacent. He wrote novelizations of Back to the FutureExplorers and Gremlins. And his Nearer to the Dust: Copyright and the Machine is interesting early (mid sixties) look at the potential effects of computers on copyrights. (Died 1986.)
  • Born February 3, 1938 Victor Buono. I remember him best in his recurring role of Count Manzeppi in The Wild Wild West. In his very short life, he showed up in a number of other genre roles as well including as a scientist bent on world domination in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea in an episode titled “The Cyborg”, as Adiposo / Fat man in Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Colonel Hubris in  The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Professor William McElroy / King Tut in Batman, Sir Cecil Seabrook in The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. and Mr. Schubert on Man from Atlantis. (Died 1982.)
  • Born February 3, 1954 Shawna McCarthy, 69. Editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction from 1983 to 1985, and Realms of Fantasy from 1994 to 2011. Sheila Williams in her history of the former said “While remaining a welcoming home for new writers, Shawna’s Asimov’s acquired an edgier and more literary and experimental tone.” 
  • Born February 3, 1963 Alex Bledsoe, born 1963, aged sixty years. I highly recommend his Tales of The Tufa which can sort of be described as Appalachian Fae though that’s stretching it. His Eddie LaCrosse novels remind of Cook’s Garrett PI series and that’s a high compliment as that’s one of my favorite fantasy PI series. Anyone read his Firefly Witch series? And to my surprise, he’s stopped writing fiction altogether.
  • Born February 3, 1970 Warwick Davis, 53. At least fifty live and voice appearances since first appearing in the Return of the Jedi in in place of Kenny Baker who was going to be a Ewok before he fell ill. Did you know he’s in Labyrinth as a member of the Goblin Corps? I certainly didn’t. Or that he did a series of humorous horror films centered around him as a Leprechaun? They did well enough that there was six of them. Hell he even shows up in Doctor Who during the Time of the Eleventh Doctor. 
  • Born February 3, 1979 Ransom Riggs, 44. He’s best known for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children which I’ll confess I know absolutely nothing about, so educate me. I know it was turned into a film by Tim Burton which could a Very Good Thing. 

(11) CHEAP IS GOOD, FREE IS BEST. “12 Surprisingly Low-Tech Special Effects Moments In Movies” – these are Ranker’s favorites.

Before there was computer-generated imagery (CGI), special effects crews often had to use practical effects to achieve their cinematic vision. Many of these practical effects were surprisingly low-tech genius creations that prove creative thinking often trumps throwing loads of money at a problem.

Practical effects include any special effects created without the use of computer-generated imagery. It’s a kitchen-sink term that incorporates everything from prosthetics to pyrotechnics to miniature models. Find out which grotesque movie monster was constructed in part with strawberry jam and creamed corn. How did they create that swirling tornado in The Wizard of Oz, which still looks great even by today’s visual effects standards? Some of these films were made more recently when computer effects were readily available. Yet, the filmmakers opted to get creative and go old-school low-tech practical effects that yielded a more authentic-looking result.

First up –

The Tornado In ‘The Wizard of Oz’ Was Made From A Stocking Wrapped Around Chicken Wire

Back in the 1930s, practical effects were not a stylistic choice, they were a necessity. At the beginning of The Wizard of Oz, a tornado takes Dorothy (Judy Garland) from the barren lands of Kansas to the magically magnificent world of Oz. 

The production hired prolific special effects master Arnold Gillespie to figure out how to create the movie’s famous twister. The Academy Award winner attempted several different methods before finally getting it right…. 

(12) RETRO SFF. Michael Dirda reviews The Hopkins Manuscript by R.C. Sherriff in “The moon falls to Earth in a 1939 novel that remains chillingly relevant” at the Washington Post (behind a paywall.)

Late last month, NASA announced that an asteroid would pass exceptionally close to the Earth. As Jennifer Hassan wrote in The Washington Post, “NASA was quick to reassure people that the asteroid, which is estimated at between 11 feet (about 3.5 meters) and 28 feet (8.5 meters) across, would not end life as we know it on our planet.” Suppose, though, a much larger celestial object — say, the moon — were actually to crash into Earth. What then?

This is the scenario of R.C. Sherriff’s novel “The Hopkins Manuscript” (1939), recently reissued by Scribner. From its opening pages we learn that more than eight centuries have gone by since “the Cataclysm” and that Europe, particularly England, has been left a barren wasteland. For years, however, archaeologists of the Royal Society of Abyssinia have been seeking artifacts to help “reconstruct the lost glory of the ‘white man.’” During one expedition to what was once London, a young scientist, out gathering brushwood, unearths a small vacuum flask, inside which is a handwritten account of life in a small village called Beadle during the days leading up to the lunar catastrophe….

(13) IT’S BEING LET GO. “’Never Let Me Go’ Series Not Moving Forward at FX” reports Variety.

… The show was originally picked up to series by FX back in October and was meant to air exclusively on Hulu. It had originally been reported as being in development at FX in May 2022. According to an individual with knowledge of the situation, production had not yet begun before the decision to scrap the series was made.

The drama series was inspired by Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2005 science fiction novel of the same name, which was previously adapted into a film in 2010. The film was written by Alex Garland, directed by Mark Romanek, and produced by Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich….

(14) BIG APPETITES. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Raquel Welch please note… “Neanderthals lived in groups big enough to eat giant elephants” says a Science story.

Meat from the butchered beasts would have fed hundreds.

On the muddy shores of a lake in east-central Germany, Neanderthals gathered some 125,000 years ago to butcher massive elephants. With sharp stone tools, they harvested up to 4 tons of flesh from each animal, according to a study that is casting these ancient human relatives in a new light. The degree of organization required to carry out the butchery—and the sheer quantity of food it provided—suggests Neanderthals could form much larger social groups than previously thought…

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, James Reynolds, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day by Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 1/27/23 Gully File Is My Name, And The Scroll’s My Destination

(1) 2023 SMOFCON NEWS. MCFI president Rick Kovalcik has announced new discount rates for Smofcon40, being held December 1-3, 2023 at the Marriott Downtown, Providence, RI, USA. 

There is now a $40 (attending) rate for First Smofcon Attendees, Young Adult (Under 33 Years Old / Born After 1 December 1990), or Unwaged / Retired / Hardship. We expect these rates to be good at least through the end of pre-registration. We trust people not to abuse the Unwaged / Retired / Hardship rate. Unfortunately, we will not be refunding $10 to anyone who already bought at the $50 rate. The $50 full attending rate is good at least through 28 February 2023.

We have been working on our official website at smofcon40.org and expect to have an integrated membership / payment system up shortly. In the meantime, memberships may still be bought by filling out the form at  https:tinyurl.com/Smofcon40Membership and paying by PayPal to [email protected] or mailing a check to MCFI at PO Box 1010, Framingham, MA 01701 USA.

Gay Ellen Dennett has been chosen as Smofcon40 Chair and can be reached at [email protected].

The committee has a signed contract with the hotel. They expect to publish a link for room reservations in the late spring. Any additional questions may be sent to [email protected].

(2) BOOK SHOPPING IN MONGOLIA. [Item by Mikael Thompson.] Here are two recent translations I saw in Mongolian bookstores recently. First is Howl’s Moving Castle (literally, “Howl’s habitually-nomadizing castle”–nüü- meaning ‘to move, shift pastures, nomadize’ and -deg indicating habitual aspect). Second is the just-released translation of The Man Who Fell to Earth.   

(3) EKPEKI WILL VISIT ASU IN MARCH. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki has been named a 2023 Visiting Fellow of the Future of Being Human initiative, in collaboration with the Arizona State University Center for Science and the Imagination.

Oghenechovwe will be visiting the ASU Tempe campus at the end of March, where he will be engaging with initiative communities, participating in meetups, and talking about his work and it’s connection to how we think about being human in a technologically advances future in a number of venues.

(4) AUTHOR WEBSITES. Michael Burton-Murphy has set up his own, but is looking around the field to decide how to use it: “Author Websites: A Survey of Sorts”   (Via Cat Rambo.)

… I’m not really a good hand for visuals, so I usually have a hard time figuring out what I want to do with a new website like this. I decided I’d take a survey of the sites put up by some of the authors whose work I’ve enjoyed over the years, and see what I could infer from them.

Ugly On Purpose

Let’s start with a couple of sites that aren’t formatted for visual appeal.

Charlie Stross is a writer of deep, complex, even mind-bending fiction. He’s also a veteran of multiple tech startups. His author website is spartan….

(5) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to lunch on Laotian food with Cory Doctorow in Episode 190 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Cory Doctorow

Cory is a science fiction writer, journalist and technology activist who in 2020, was inducted into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. In the years since I published his first professional fiction sale in Science Fiction Age magazine (though I didn’t buy his first professionally sold short story, a distinction we get into during our chat), he’s won the Locus, Prometheus, Copper Cylinder, White Pine and Sunburst Awards, and been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula and British Science Fiction Awards.

His novels include Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (2003), Eastern Standard Tribe (2004), Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (2005), Little Brother (2008), his most recent, Walkaway (2017), and others. His most recent short story collection is Radicalized (2019). He’s also a special consultant to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit civil liberties group that defends freedom in technology law, policy, standards and treaties.

We discussed how different D.C. seems to him now that he’s a U.S. citizen, the way his remarkable evening hanging with both David Byrne and Spider Robinson put things in perspective, the lessons we learned (both good and bad) from Harlan Ellison, our differing levels of hope and despair at the current state of the world, the major effect Judith Merril had on the direction of his life, how an ongoing column he wrote for Science Fiction Age magazine predicted the next 20 years of his life, our differing opinions as to what it means when we say stories are didactic, how to continue on in the face of rejection — and then once we do, how not to become parodies of ourselves, the best piece of advice he didn’t follow, our differing views on spoilers, what he recently came to understand about the reactionary message of traditional hardboiled fiction — and how he used that in his upcoming trilogy, knowing when to break the rules of writing, and much more.

(6) A STOPPED CLOCK TELLS THE RIGHT TIME. Camestros Felapton initially discusses a point made by Larry Correia that he agrees with – how did that happen? But they soon part company again in “Guns & Nonsense: Part 5, Defence in Depth”.

…However, Correia is apparently naïve enough to think that gun control must be perfect before it can be an additional layer of security. The opposite is obviously true. Making it harder for people who wish to hurt others to get access to guns is an additional layer of security. It’s not a perfect layer but as demonstrated in multiple wealthy nations, it is a very effective layer.

Of course, if Correia conceded that gun control is an effective layer in a model of “defence in depth” then a rather alarming conclusion would logically follow: gun control is part of self-defence. Ah. The implication of that is both huge but also demonstrable. A right to protect yourself from harm applied equitably i.e. a right that makes it easier for everybody is the opposite of tyranny….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1968 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Agatha Christie’s At Bertram’s Hotel

Food has an important role in Christie’s fiction. (And yes, I adore her detectives, all of them. That’s why you will see more culinary quotes from her fiction.) Hercule Poirot and his oh so perfect breakfast,  or the quote this time from At Bertram’s Hotel, a Miss Marple novel (she is taking a two-week holiday in London at this hotel though she doesn’t figure into our quote, though she loved breakfast here, “Miss Marple inserted a knife gingerly but with confidence. She was not disappointed. Rich deep yellow yolk oozed out, thick and creamy. Proper eggs! “) The manager is telling one of the guests what an English breakfast once was like, and what he can have there now.

‘Eggs and bacon?’

‘As you say—but a good deal more than that if you want it. Kippers, kidneys and bacon, cold grouse, York ham, Oxford marmalade.’

‘I must remember to get all that… don’t get that sort of a thing any more at home.’

Humfries smiled. ‘Most gentlemen only ask for eggs and bacon. They’ve—well, they’ve got out of the way of thinking about the things there used to be.’

‘Yes, yes… I remember when I was a child. … Sideboards groaning with hot dishes. Yes, it was a luxurious way of life.’

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 27, 1940 James Cromwell, 83. I think we best know him as Doctor Zefram Cochrane In Star Trek: First Contact which was re-used in the Enterprise episode “In a Mirror, Darkly (Part I)”.  He’s been in other genre films including Species IIDeep ImpactThe Green MileSpace CowboysI, Robot, Spider-Man 3 and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. He played characters on three Trek series, Prime Minister Nayrok on “The Hunted” episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Jaglom Shrek in the two part “Birthright” story, Hanok on the “Starship Down” episode of Deep Space Nine and Zefram Cochrane once as noted before on Enterprise
  • Born January 27, 1950 Michaela Roessner, 73. She won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer after writing Walkabout Woman. Though not genre, her two historical novels, The Stars Dispose and The Stars Compel, about Catherine de Medici are excellent.  ISFDB lists another novel of genre status, Vanishing Point. None of her fiction is available digitally, alas. 
  • Born January 27, 1953 Joe Bob Briggs, 70. Writer, actor, and comic performer. Host of the TNT MonsterVision series, and the ongoing The Last Drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs on Shudder from 2018–present. The author of a number of nonfiction review books including Profoundly Disturbing: Shocking Movies that Changed History!  And he’s written one genre novel, Iron Joe Bob. My favorite quote by him is that after contracting Covid and keeping private that he had, he said later that “Many people have had COVID-19 and most of them were much worse off than me. I wish everybody thought it was a death sentence, because then everyone would wear the f*cking mask and then we would get rid of it.”
  • Born January 27, 1956 Mimi Rogers, 67. Her best known SFF role is Professor Maureen Robinson in the Lost in Space film which I did see in a theatre I just realized. She’s also Mrs. Marie Kensington in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, and she’s Orianna Volkes in the Penny Dreadful hitchhiker horror film. She’s got one-offs in Tales from The CryptThe X-FilesWhere Are You Scooby Doo? and Ash v. Evil Dead.
  • Born January 27, 1957 Frank Miller, 66. He’s both an artist and writer so I’m not going to untangle which is which here. What’s good by him? Oh, I love The Dark Knight Returns, both the original comic series and the animated film, though the same not no true of Sin City where I prefer the original series much more. Hmmm… What else? His runs on Daredevil and Electra of course. That should do. 
  • Born January 27, 1965 Alan Cumming, 58. I’m now watching The Good Wife where plays Eli Gold, the ultimate crisis manager. His film roles include performances as Boris Grishenko in GoldenEye, Fegan Floop In the Spy Kids trilogy, Loki, god of Mischief in Son of the Mask, Nightcrawler In X2 and Judas Caretaker in Riverworld (anyone know this got made?). 
  • Born January 27, 1966 Tamlyn Tomita, 57. I’m fairly sure I first saw her in a genre role on the Babylon 5 film The Gathering as Lt. Cmdr. Laurel Takashima. Or it might have been on The Burning Zone as Dr. Kimberly Shiroma. And she had a recurring late on Eureka in Kate Anderson, and Ishi Nakamura on Heroes? She’s been in a number of SFF series in one-off roles including HighlanderQuantum LeapThe SentinelSeven DaysFreakyLinks, Stargate SG-1 and a recurring as late as Tamiko Watanabe in The Man in The High Castle.
  • Born January 27, 1970 Irene Gallo, 53. Creative Director for Tor.com and Tor Books. She’s won an amazing thirteen Chelsey Awards, and two World Fantasy Awards, as art director of Tor.com and for the Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction anthology. She also co-wrote Revolution: The Art of Jon Foster with Jon Foster and Cathy & Arnie Fenner.

(9) IF YOU CAN MAKE IT THERE. FANAC.org’s next FanHistory Project Zoom Session will be “New York Fandom in the 70s with Moshe Feder, Andy Porter, Steve Rosenstein and Jerry Kaufman”. Catch it live on February 11, 2023 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern

The story of New York fandom is fascinating. From the worldcon in the 60s to fragmentation and multiple fannish groups in the 70s, there’s a real story to tell. How did NY fandom come to break apart? What were the fannish clubs and how were they different? Who were the movers and shakers? How did the emergence of Star Trek and Star Trek conventions affect NY fandom? Did moving Lunacon out of the city have a big effect? What were the highlights and heartbreaks? Join four of the stalwarts of 70s New York fandom, as they revisit those days.

(10) JEOPARDY! SF QUESTIONS 2023-01-26 [Item by David Goldfarb.] Troy Meyer continues to extend his winning streak. On Thursday’s Jeopardy! episode there were two clues with SF content, both in the Double Jeopardy round.

Line in the Sand, $1600: A passage in this novel relays: “Gurney saw Fremen spread out across the sand there in the path of the worm”

Emma Moore responded correctly.

“B” Movies [i.e., movies whose titles began with the letter B], $2000: This Terry Gilliam fantasy features a futuristic bureaucracy

Troy Meyer responded correctly.

(11) FOUNDATIONS OF MIDDLE-EARTH. Austin Gilkeson delves into “The Lore of the Rings” at the New York Review of Books.

One September day in 1914, a young J.R.R. Tolkien, in his final undergraduate year at Oxford, came across an Old English advent poem called “Christ A.” Part of it reads, “Éalá Éarendel engla beorhtast/ofer middangeard monnum sended,” which he later rendered: “Hail Éarendel, brightest of angels/above the middle-earth sent unto men!” Safe in his aunt’s house in Nottinghamshire while battles raged on the continent, Tolkien took inspiration from this ode to the morning and evening star and wrote his own poem in modern English, “Éarendel the Mariner.” That poem was not published in his lifetime, but after it came the stories that would become The SilmarillionThe Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings, which in turn inspired, to varying degrees, EarthseaStar Wars, Dungeons & Dragons, Harry PotterThe Wheel of TimeThe WitcherGame of Thrones, and so on, an apostolic succession of fantasy.

The latest in the line is The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Amazon Studios does not have the rights to The Silmarillion, the posthumous collection of Tolkien’s mythology that serves as a sort of bible for Middle-earth, nor is it adapting The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien’s 1954 novel about the hobbit Frodo’s quest to save Middle-earth by destroying the One Ring, which holds the power of the Dark Lord Sauron. Peter Jackson’s film trilogy still looms too large. Instead, the showrunners, J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, have crafted a prequel, set thousands of years before the events of the three-volume novel and drawn from bits of lore in its prologue, “Concerning Hobbits,” and extensive appendices on Middle-earth history and culture. It’s an undertaking not dissimilar from Tolkien’s own reworking of “Christ A,” spinning out a narrative from a few textual scraps—the kind of academic exercise an Oxford professor of Old English could appreciate….

(12) SUN DIALS ARE RIGHT OUT. “What time is it on the Moon?” in Nature. “Satellite navigation systems for lunar settlements will require local atomic clocks. Scientists are working out what time they will keep.” SF authors and Andy Weir take note…

The coming decade will see a resurgence in lunar exploration — including dozens of missions and plans to establish permanent bases on the Moon. The endeavours pose myriad challenges. Among them is a subtle, but fundamental, question that meteorologists worldwide are working to answer: what time is it on the Moon?… 

The Moon doesn’t currently have an independent time. Each lunar mission uses its own timescale that is linked, through its handlers on Earth, to coordinated universal time, or UTc — the standard against which the planet’s clocks are set. But this method is relatively imprecise and spacecraft exploring the Moon don’t synchronize the time with each other. The approach works when the Moon hosts a handful of independent missions, but it will be a problem when there are multiple craft working together. Space agencies will also want to track them using satellite navigation, which relies on precise timing signals.

It’s not obvious what form a universal lunar time would take. Clocks on Earth and the Moon naturally tick at different speeds, because of the differing gravitational fields of the two bodies. Official lunar time could be based on a clock system designed to synchronize with UTC, or it could be independent of Earth time….

(13) HWA KERFUFFLE. Tom Monteleone, alleging that “gatekeepers” at the Horror Writers Association websites were keeping his post from appearing, took to Facebook to nominate David Schiff for an HWA Lifetime Achievement Award.  But before sharing the reasons Schiff should receive the recognition, Monteleone made known his real agenda:

…That said, and despite the last few LAA years looking very much like a very obvious DEI project, I am compelled to nominate a smart, old white guy: Stu Schiff…

Since then people have left over 500 comments, some applauding what he said and adding their own feelings about “virtue signaling” and “wokeness”, while others have called for him to apologize. He has made additional comments which others are engaging. The worthiness of some of the 2017 LAA winners has also been denigrated.

Former HWA president John Palisano chimed in:

As the person who was president of the HWA when these LAA awards were selected and given, I stood behind them then, and I stand behind them today. And I also stand behind Kevin Wetmore and the LAA committee who made these selections.

I’m more than disappointed their names have been attacked. I have zero tolerance for the transphobia and hateful comments spewed forth.

For the record? They were chosen on merit, period. Anyone who thinks otherwise is dead wrong. I was there. Their Race, gender, sexuality. Etc. we’re not the defining factors.

Also? SCHIFF’s validation and consideration will not be based negatively based upon this hurtful thread.

Even though I’m not president now, I know my colleagues in the HWA will not hold this against a candidate. In fact? Proof of such can be seen in the fact that many people who’ve been very critical against the HWA in the past have been brought in as GOH and in other capacities. There’s always room for growth and learning…

Brian Keene finally decided he needed to come off the sidelines and wrote a long comment that includes this quote:

… But now, with this second topic, there *are* people speaking up directly, and telling you [Monteleone] that some of the things you’re saying here are hurtful. They’re not going through me to do it. They’re saying it right here, directly to you. Maybe you’re not hearing them, so let me try saying it instead.

You’re publishing Mary’s collection of Edward Lucas White stories. She turned that in to you two days ago. That night, she said to me, quote: “Back in the day, Tom was the first editor in this business to treat me like a colleague and not like a groupie.” End quote. Today she saw your trans comments elsewhere in this thread. As the mother of a trans daughter, she was incredibly hurt by them. She’s downstairs right now, trying to reconcile all this. As the soon-to-be step-father to a trans-daughter, and as someone who has known that child since she was 4 years old, and has seen her struggle first hand, I’m hurt by them, too. You have always been kind and generous and supportive of Mary and I both, but what are we supposed to do at the wedding reception? Stick you at a back table like “that one uncle”? Because that’s how it’s coming across to us both…

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Mikael Thompson, David Goldfarb, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, and Michael Toman  for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Jayn and David Goldfarb.]

Pixel Scroll 1/20/23 Scrolling About Pixels Is Like Stardancing About Naval Architecture

(1) SHORT SFF REVIVAL. Charlie Jane Anders diagnoses the problem and then brings forward “Some Ideas for How to Save Short Fiction!”

Short fiction is once again in crisis. After an era when the Internet seemed to be helping a lot of short stories find a bigger audience, the same thing is now happening to short stories that are happening to a lot of other content: the invisible hand is raising a big middle finger. Among other things, Twitter is getting to be much less useful in helping to spread the word about short stories worth reading, and Amazon just announced that it’s ending its Kindle subscription program from magazines, depriving magazine publishers of a pretty significant slice of income….

Here’s a short example out of several ideas Anders pitches.

I’d love to see more short fiction turning up in incongruous contexts

This is something I talked about a lot in the introduction to my short story collection Even Greater Mistakes (shameless plug alert!). I am always happy to see short stories show up on coffee bag labels, in pamphlets on public transit, scrawled on bathroom walls, or in the middle of a publication that mostly includes serious non-fiction pieces about politics and culture. I feel like we could be doing more to leverage the ability of short stories to show up in surprising places and suck us in with their narrative power.

(2) MEDICAL UPDATE. Paul Di Filippo’s partner Deborah Newton wrote to friends that on January 19 Paul was hit by a large SUV. 

The driver stopped, spoke to Paul and gave him her phone to call Newton.

I ran the three blocks to where the accident had occurred — the ambulance passed me as I ran.  Luckily there was a witness whose moving car was facing the accident when it happened and had a video camera on the dashboard.  He made arrangements with the police, who had already arrived, to share the video.  

Those of you who have met Paul in the flesh will not be surprised that he dragged himself up after the huge hit, and even climbed by himself into the ambulance.  The Dr. at the ER later called that “adrenaline”, but I believe Paul has a stronger energy and will than most of us mere mortals.

After extensive testing in the ER it was determined he sustained no head wounds or broken bones. However, writes Newton, “He is covered with bruises and has a large hematoma on his left thigh. His hip, where he believes he landed after the hit, is excruciatingly painful.”

He is back home, presently using a walker to get around.

(3) LIVE FROM 1968. Cora Buhlert returns to Galactic Journey as one of the contributors to a “Galactoscope” column, reviewing Swords of Lankhmar by Fritz Leiber — and also talking about some of the biggest protests her hometown has ever seen. There are also reviews of Picnic on Paradise by Joanna Russ, a Jack Vance book, an Andre Norton book and several others: “[January 20, 1968] Alyx and Company (January 1968 Galactoscope)”.

… However, with the sale of the Ziff-Davis magazines to Sol Cohen, the appearances of Fafhrd and Gray Mouser in the pages of Fantastic became scarce. It seemed the dynamic duo was homeless once again, unless they shacked up with Cele Goldsmith Lalli over at Modern Bride magazine, that is.

So imagine my joy when I spotted the brand-new Fafhrd and Gray Mouser adventure The Swords of Lankhmar in the spinner rack of my trusty import bookstore…

(4) 2024 NASFIC UPDATE. Sharon Sbarsky, the Pemmi-con/2023 NASFiC committee member in charge of NASFiC 2024 Site Selection, announced today that the Buffalo in 2024 bid has filed. She published the following extract from their letter of intent.

Upstate New York Science Fiction and Fantasy Alliance Inc. is pleased to present this letter of intent, along with Visit Buffalo Niagara, to host the 16th North American Science Fiction Convention in Buffalo, New York USA in 2024 .

Details of the bid

Proposed date: July 18-21, 2024

Proposed site: Hyatt Regency Buffalo Hotel and Convention Center & Buffalo Niagara Convention Center

Proposed Headquarter Hotel: Hyatt Regency Buffalo Hotel and Convention Center

Upstate New York Science Fiction and Fantasy Alliance, Inc. is a NYS registered not-for-profit corporation focused on encouraging and running fannish activities in New York State. Members of our bid committee include individuals who have experience working on Worldcon / NASFiC events, as well as others who have organized small conventions and other events across New York and Southern Ontario
https://buffalonasfic2024.org/

Sbarksy added: “Members of Pemmi-con will be able to vote in the Site Selection. Details will come at a later time. We hope to have electronic voting, similar to the Worldcon and NASFiC selections at Chicon 8. 180 days before the Start of Pemmi-Con is January 21, 2023, so the ballot is still open for additional bids.”

(5) GETTING UNSTUCK. Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware delivers another warning: “Bad Contract Alert: Webnovel”.

A bit over two years ago, I wrote about two companies, A&D Entertainment and EMP Entertainment, that appeared to have been deputized by serialized fiction app Webnovel to recruit authors to non-exclusive contracts. The contracts from both companies were (and continue to be) absolutely terrible.

EMP Entertainment no longer appears to be active (it has no website and I’ve heard nothing about it since 2020), but A&D is still going strong, and over the past two years I’ve been contacted by a lot of (mostly very young and inexperienced) writers who are confused about its complicated English-language contract, or have changed their minds about signing up and want to know how to get free (as with the contracts of so many serialized fiction apps, there’s no option for the author to terminate).

A&D recruits via a bait and switch. Writers are solicited by an editor or Author Liaison who claims to have discovered the writer’s work on Amazon or elsewhere, and invites them to publish on the Webnovel platform (the bait)….

(6) DON’T JUST ROLL THE DICE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] “5 Things SecOps Can Learn from Dungeons & Dragons” at Tech Beacon. Note, “SecOps” is tech shorthand for “Security Operations” (or possibly “Security Operators”)

… Anyone who has ever experienced a SOC 2 or ISO 27001 audit might see the parallels between a lengthy framework of rules and their arbiter. Still, D&D is significantly more fun than a cybersecurity audit. In fact, when it comes to security preparedness there are quite a few lessons that security operations (SecOps) teams that are responsible for the security of connected assets—including myriad Internet of Things (IoT) devices—can learn from D&D. And they might just have a bit of fun along the way.

Assemble Your Party

From wizards and warriors to clerics and rogues, there are a wide variety of classes in D&D—each with its own specializations. The key to an effective adventuring party is to combine them in a way that the strengths of one character can mitigate the weaknesses of another. Building a cybersecurity team is no different. Aside from all the specialized roles within cybersecurity, such as incident-response or threat-hunting teams, an effective approach to security preparedness requires cross-functional collaboration between IT teams, operational-technology (OT) teams, and other lines of business to better understand how to balance business objectives with security requirements….

(7) A THEORY ABOUT THE HOBBIT.  Scott McLemee poses the questions in an “Interview with Robert T. Tally Jr. on historicizing ‘The Hobbit’” for Inside Higher Ed.

Q: You don’t historicize The Hobbit in the naïve or narrow sense of interpreting it as a fictionalized response to real-world events. Your approach owes a great deal to the American Marxist literary theorist Fredric Jameson—the subject of your first book. What does it mean to read Tolkien as a Jamesonian?

A: “Modernism” is a dirty word among many Tolkien enthusiasts, and perhaps for Tolkien himself, but I see his desire to “create a mythology for England” as a powerfully modern thing to attempt, more like Yeats or Joyce than most mere medievalism. Also, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are clearly novelistic in form, even if they deal with “epic” or “romantic” ideas.

In his work on postmodernism, Fredric Jameson refers to the “attempt to think the present historically in an age that has forgotten how to think historically in the first place.” Coming from an entirely different direction politically, I think Tolkien was deeply concerned with the modern world’s inability to “think historically,” and thus his desire to connect elements of the medieval historical world with our own time, even if—or especially if—that meant using fantasy as a way of sort of tricking us into “realizing” history.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2021 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Cat Rambo’s You Sexy Thing was a novel that I nominated for a Hugo. Why so? Because it is damn good. It made my top ten novels of that year by having a fantastic story, great characters that for the most part I could care about and not one but two truly interesting settings, the first being the intelligent bioship You Sexy Thing, and the other being a restaurant situated near a defunct star gate.

Now unlike the restaurant in the Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy, this one is not played for laughs and is real, working environment. I don’t know if Rambo has worked in such a place but she captures the feel of it very nicely as I have a very long time ago and it seems quite right.

Now before we get to the quote, I’m very, very pleased to note that the next novel in the series is indeed out relatively soon. Here are the details courtesy of the author:

Devil’s Gun, available this August, follows the adventures of intelligent bioship You Sexy Thing and its crew. While seeking a weapon against the pirate king Tubal Last and operating a pop-up restaurant near a failed star gate, Niko and her friends encounter a strange pair of adventurers who claim to have power over the gates that link the Known Universe.  But following the two on an intergalactic treasure hunt will require going into one of the most dangerous places any of them have ever faced.

Of course it will be available from all the usual suspects in both print and epub formats. 

Now I normally choose the quote, but this time I’m honored to say that Cat chose her favorite quote about food from You Sexy Thing:

[Niko] looked at Dabry, who stood ignoring them, caressing the eggplant with all four hands and his eyes half closed. “Sweet Momma Sky, should we leave so you can have your way with that eggplant or should I just let you take it to your bunk?”

His eyes closed entirely, expression blissful. “Baba ganoush,” he said. “Flat wheat bread dusted with cumin. Seared protein tinctured with lemon and garlic…”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 20, 1884 A. Merritt. Early pulp writer whose career consisted of eight complete novels and a number of short stories. H. P. Lovecraft notes in a letter that he was a major influence upon his writings, and a number of authors including Michael Moorcock and Robert Bloch list him as being among their favorite authors. He’s available at the usual suspects. (Died 1943.)
  • Born January 20, 1920 DeForest Kelley. Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy on the original Trek and a number of films that followed plus the animated series. Other genre appearances include voicing Viking 1 in The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars (his last acting work) and a 1955 episode of Science Fiction Theatre entitled “Y..O..R..D..” They’re his only ones — he didn’t do SF as he really preferred Westerns. (Died 1999.)
  • Born January 20, 1934 Tom Baker, 89. The Fourth Doctor and still my favorite Doctor. My favorite story? The “Talons of Weng Chiang” with of course the delicious added delight of his companion Leela played by Lousie Jameson. Even the worst of the stories were redeemed by him and his jelly babies. And yes, he turns up briefly in the present era of Who rather delightfully. Before being the Doctor he had a turn as Sherlock Holmes In “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, and though not genre, he played Rasputin early in his career in “Nicholas and Alexandra”! Being a working actor, he shows up in a number of low budget films early on such as The Vault of HorrorThe Golden Voyage of Sinbad,The MutationsThe Curse of King Tut’s Tomb and The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood. And weirdly enough, he’s Halvarth the Elf in a Czech-made Dungeons & Dragons film which has a score of ten percent among audience reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes.
  • Born January 20, 1946 David Lynch, 77. Director of the first Dune movieWent on to make Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me which is possibly one of the weirdest films ever made. (Well with Blue Velvet being a horror film also vying for top honors as well.) Oh and I know that I didn’t mention Eraserhead. You can talk about that film.
  • Born January 20, 1960 Kij Johnson, 63. Faculty member, University of Kansas, English Department. She’s also worked for Tor, TSR and Dark Horse. Wow. Where was I? Oh about to mention her writings… if you not read her Japanese mythology based The Fox Woman, do so now as it’s superb. The sequel, Fudoki, is just as interesting. The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe is a novella taking a classic Lovecraftian tale and giving a nice twist. Finally I’ll recommend her short story collection, At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories. She has won a Best Novella Hugo for “The Man Who Bridged the Mist” had several other nominations. Much of her work is available at the usual suspects.
  • Born January 20, 1964 Francesca Buller, 59. Performer and wife of Ben Browder, yes that’s relevant as she’s been four different characters on Farscape, to wit she played the characters of Minister Ahkna, Raxil, ro-NA and M’Lee. Minister Ahkn is likely the one you remember her as being. Farscape is her entire genre acting career. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Get Fuzzy makes a noble pun about a bestselling horror writer.
  • Eek! deals with a young superhero’s fib.

(11) FRANKLY SPEAKING. In “When Monsters Make the Best Husbands”, a New York Times reviewer tells about two plays, one of genre interest.  

The monster is nestled in a glacier when the villagers dig him out, frozen but not dead, because he was undead already. Tall, broad-shouldered, hulking in his platform boots, he is instantly recognizable, and once he thaws, proves unpretentious despite his Hollywood fame.

It is 1946 in a tiny European village, and he is the most endearing of monsters: awkward, uncertain, just wanting to help out. And in “Frankenstein’s Monster Is Drunk and the Sheep Have All Jumped the Fences,” a winsome cartwheel of a show that’s part of the Origin Theater Company’s 1st Irish festival, he finds lasting romance — with a local outcast who falls in love with him at first sight. Never mind that by his own account he is “constructed from the dismembered body parts of a number of different corpses”; their sex life is fabulous….

(12) BEGIN AGAIN. The Cromcast, a sword and sorcery podcast that started as a Conan readthrough, are rereading all the Conan stories again ten years after they launched. They started with “The Phoenix on the Sword”, the very first Conan story: “Season 18, Episode 1: The Phoenix on the Sword!”

“Know, oh prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of…”

(13) HE-MAN. The For Eternia YouTube channel has a great interview with Tim Sheridan, one of the writers of Masters of the Universe Revelation/Revolution, about why the Filmation Masters of the Universe cartoon resonated with so many gay people: “The Power of Pride: Talking Importance of 1980’s He-Man on the LGBTQ+ Community with Tim Sheridan”.

(14) THE NATURE OF REALITY COUNTS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] I know from being involved with SF2 Concatenation that quite a few fans are interested in the interface between science and science fiction: after all, the term ‘science fiction’ contains ‘science’. Consequently, it should not be any surprise that all of the four YouTube Channels I invariably check out each week are SF and/or science related.

One of these is PBS Space-Time. It is ostensibly a physics channel (though often there’s astronomy and cosmology) and there’s nothing like at the start of the day having a mug of Yorkshire builders tea (sufficiently strong that the teaspoon stands up in it) along with a short episode of PBS Space Time: it is good to limber up with some physics before embarking on the serious biological and geoscience business of the day (tough as that is for Sheldon Cooper to take).

One aspect of the SF-science border is an exploration as to the true nature of reality. Are we living in a holographic universe? Are we living in a Matrix simulation? And if so is there a simulator?

This week’s PBS Space Time asks the question as to whether the Universe is simply, and purely, mathematical (not physical)? And if so, what of parallel Universes, dimensions and alternate Universes? Indeed, are there different levels to the multiverse?

Be assured, despite maths (or ‘sums’ as we environmental scientists call it) being in the title, there are no heavy mathematics in this short video, rather it is a somewhat deep philosophical discussion. Nonetheless, don’t worry if you find your mind being stretched: that’s what daily limbering up exercises are all about.

So, sit down with your mug of builders and enjoy this 16 minute slice of Space Time“What If The Universe Is Math?”

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

Pixel Scroll 1/7/23 Farmers Market In The Sky

(1) IT WASN’T THE HOBBIT. What turned Stephen Colbert into a voracious reader? Science fiction. Specifically, Niven, Asimov, Heinlein, Pohl and more. See “Team Hobbit or Lord of the Rings?” on TikTok.

(2) SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT. Concerning a Slate critic’s claim about Tolkien’s elves, here’s Kalimac’s response from “Ross Douthat writes a fantasy novel”.

…Tolkien’s elves…. only … “essentially good” in the … sense in which they’re broadly good, they’re more good than bad, they aspire to goodness. Read the Silmarillion and you’ll find plenty of elves behaving extremely badly, and a few who are evil the way that Saruman in Lord of the Rings is evil. The reason you don’t find elves like that in Lord of the Rings is that the elves are chastened by their earlier experiences, the ones recounted in the Silmarillion, and aren’t going to make the same mistake again….

(3) SPECULATIVE POETS AT COLLAGE. [Item by Denise Dumars.] Science Fiction and Fantasy fan? Poetry fan? Why not try both together? You will get to do so when members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association  (SFPA) read their work and discuss the topic at Collage: a place for Art and Culture. You’ll also learn how to join the SFPA and how to find markets for your own poetry in the genres by writers who have published in numerous journals both print and online. Come join us on Sunday, January 15, at 2:00 p.m.. Collage is located at the south end of the Harbor Freeway, at 731 S. Pacific Ave., San Pedro, CA, 90731.   

Speakers:  

  • Wendy Van Camp: Poet Laureate of Anaheim, CA, and Convention Coordinator for the SFPA, Wendy is an award-winning writer who has edited Eye to the Telescope, the online journal of the SFPA, and is currenly nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She edits the Eccentric Orbits series of SF/F poetry anthlogies, and the current issue is nominated for Best Anthology Award. Find her at https://wendyvancamp.com/.  
  • Ashley Dioses: Award winning dark fantasy poet and fiction writer, with books of poetry published by Jackanapes Press and Hippocampus Press, Ashley has been nominated for the Rhysling and Elgin awards for SF/F poetry as well as appearing in such well-known journals as Cemetery Dance and Weirdbook. She blogs at fiendlover.blogspot.com.  
  • Denise Dumars: Columnist for Star* Line, the Journal of the SFPA, and widely published and award-winning poet and short fiction writer, Denise has been a college English instructor and a literary agent. Author of several poetry books and chapbooks, she has been nominated multiple times for the Rhysling, Elgin, and Dwarf Stars awards and is a current nominee for the Pushcart Prize. Find her at www.DeniseDDumars.com.  
  • Jean-Paul L. Garnier: Editor of Star*Line, the Journal of the SFPA, he is the owner of Space Cowboy bookstore, winner of the Critters Best Bookstore award for 2021. His podcast is Simultaneous Times, and he is an independent publisher of SF poetry and fiction. He is a five-time nominee for the Elgin award with several books in print. He contributes to dreamfoundry.org. Find him at https://spacecowboybooks.com/.

(4) PIEZOELECTRIC BOOGALOO. A New York Times writer says, “‘M3GAN’ Makes Us Ask (Again): Who’s Afraid of Dancing Robots?”

…“When you see the Boston Dynamics robots dancing in perfect unison,” Johnstone said, “it’s almost like them looking at us and saying, ‘We can do what you do, and we can do it better,’ in the most obnoxious way.” He chuckled. “Like they’re going to sashay their way toward the extermination of all humanity.”

M3GAN’s ice-cold, ruthlessly calculated “performance” stands in contrast to the human dancing in some recent horror films, where flesh-and-bone bodies reach states of overheated delirium. The choreographer, director and writer Jack Ferver, who worked on the coming horror movie “The Parenting,” said dance horror is effective when the person dancing “transcends their personhood.”

But what does that mean for a nonperson? Robots aren’t dead behind the eyes because they’re in some kind of ecstatic trance; they’re dead behind the eyes because they’re not alive….

(5) MEMORY LANE.

1964 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

No. We are not here to talk about the stellar Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory film but rather about the source material that inspired it, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory novel. It was first published in the U.K. by George Allen & Unwin in 1964 with this edition illustrated by Faith Jaques. (Yes, the US edition was first but we think this one should be considered the true first for reasons below.) 

She was renowned for her work as a children’s book author, illustrator, artist, stamp designer and a very fierce advocate of artists’ rights for control of their work. She was chosen to do the British edition following the controversy over the depiction of the Oompa-Loompas in the US edition of the book where they were African pygmies. Racism at its very worst.

In this edition, as well as the subsequent sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, was written by Dahl in 1971, the Oompa-Loompas were drawn as being white and appearing similar to hippies and the references to Africa were deleted. All other editions followed this convention.

The story was said to based on Dahl’s experience of chocolate companies including Cadbury during his schooldays sending packages to the schoolchildren in exchange for their opinions on the new products. Popular belief was that the companies sent spies into each other’s factories to scope out new chocolates. 

Because of these practices, companies became highly protective of their chocolate making. It was a combination of this secrecy and the elaborate, often gigantic, machines that looked fantastical to a child that inspired him to write this novel.

There are several editions, each with a different illustrator — Joseph Schindelman (first and revised US editions); Faith Jaques (first UK edition); Michael Foreman (1985 US edition); and Quentin Blake (1995 edition). 

The book as you know as been adapted into two major motion pictures: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory just several years after it was published, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that came out about twenty years ago. A prequel film, Wonka, a musical fantasy film, exploring Willy Wonka’s origins will be released in 2023. Timothée Chalamet is Willy Wonka. Really, he is.

Eric Idle narrated the audiobook version of the American Edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 7, 1899 F. Orlin Tremaine. He was the Editor of Astounding from 1933 to 1937. It’s said that he bought Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness without actually reading it. Later as Editor at Bartholomew House, he brought out the first paperback editions of Lovecraft’s The Weird Shadow Over Innsmouth and The Dunwich Horror. He wrote a dozen or so short stories that were published in the pulps between 1926 and 1949. (Died 1956.)
  • Born January 7, 1912 Charles Addams. Illustrator best known for the Addams Family which he first drew in 1932 and kept drawing until his death. Needless to say there have been a number of films and series using these characters of which The Addams Family is my favorite. Linda H. Davis’ Charles Addams: A Cartoonist’s Life is well worth seeking out and reading. (Died 1988.)
  • Born January 7, 1913 Julian S. Krupa. Pulp cover and interior illustrator from 1939 to 1971 who graced Amazing Stories and Fantastic. In the Thirties, he also contributed art to fanzines, including Ad Astra. His grandson said that “his Grandfather did all the illustrations for the training films for the first Nuclear Submarines and was a friend to Admiral Rickover. And then continued to do early training films for NASA.” (Died 1989.)
  • Born January 7, 1928 William Peter Blatty. Novelist and screenwriter best known for The Exorcist though he was also the same for Exorcist III. The former is by no means the only genre work that he would write as his literary career would go on for forty years after this novel and would include Demons Five, Exorcists Nothing: A Fable which he renamed Demons Five, Exorcists Nothing: A Hollywood Christmas Carol and The Exorcist for the 21st Century, his final work. (Died 2017.)
  • Born January 7, 1955 Karen Haber, 68. Wife of Robert Silverberg. Author Of the Fire In Winter series (first co-written with Robert) and the War Minstrels series as well. With Robert, she edited three of the exemplary Universe anthologies that Terry Carr had created. Her Meditations on Middle Earth, her essay collection on J.R.R. Tolkien is quite superb. And of course her prequel Thieves’ Carnival to Leigh Brackett’s The Jewel of Bas is stunning.
  • Born January 7, 1962 Mark Allen Shepherd, 61. Morn, the bar patron on Deep Space Nine. Amazingly he was in Quark’s bar a total of ninety-three episodes plus one episode each on Next Gen and Voyager. Technically he’s uncredited in almost all of those appearances. That’s pretty much his entire acting career. I’m trying to remember if he has any lines. He’s also an abstract painter whose work was used frequently on DS9 sets. For all practical purposes, this was his acting career. Do note that we saw more Lurians on Discovery showing that the species is still around even in the 32nd century. 
  • Born January 7, 1971 Jeremy Renner, 52. You know him as Hawkeye in those MCU films but he’s also in a number of other SFF film including Hansel and Gretel: Witch HuntersMission: Impossible – Ghost ProtocolMission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and Arrival.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Catching up with Tom Gauld –

(8) THEY MADE MARVEL. CBR.com contends these are “The 10 Most Important Comics In Marvel History”. For example —

8/10 Fantastic Four #1 Brought The Heroes Back

As the superhero boom died out in the late 1940s, Timely switched to other genres, including romance, teen books, and comedy titles. In 1951, a year after Captain America was canceled, Timely became Atlas News Company and it seemed like the heroes would be gone for good.

But according to legend, a decade later Martin Goodman was playing golf with Jack Liebowitz, the then head of DC Comics when Liebowitz bragged about the company’s success with their new superhero titles, most notably the Justice League of America. Goodman turned to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to give Atlas their own superhero team, and from that discussion, the Fantastic Four, and “The Marvel Age of Comics,” were born.

(9) HE’S A POE MAN FROM A POE FAMILY. “Dudley did right: Harry Melling on his evolution from Harry Potter to Edgar Allan Poe” is explained by in a Yahoo! profile.

…He first appeared at 10 years old in Sorcerer’s Stone as the hero’s tortuous, spoiled cousin, Dudley Dursley, and would maintain the part into his 20s.

Unlike his contemporaries, he found life on set to be quite isolating at times. “My experience was unique in terms of I wasn’t in it throughout the entire shoot,” the actor, 33, tells EW over Zoom from Los Angeles — now much taller and leaner compared to the plump, rosy-cheeked child with a haughty smirk movie-goers have been used to. “The earthly sequences would very much be an isolated filming block. So, I dipped in, and then I went back to school and normal life.”

Melling never felt as if people would recognize him on the streets of London. “Which I kind of loved,” he quickly adds. To him, fame feels like noise. He counts himself lucky that he hasn’t become traditionally “famous.” “Sometimes it’s nice to just concentrate on the work and what excites you,” he says.

Melling has been able to do just that with his life post-Potter, from his early run in theater to playing chess champ Harry Beltik in the Netflix hit The Queen’s Gambit. However, one role would create a different kind of noise, the kind that would get his industry peers to notice him, if not the public. Seeing Melling as the limbless artist in 2018’s The Ballad of Buster Scruggs would inspire director Scott Cooper (Out of the FurnaceAntlers) to cast the Englishman as a young Edgar Allan Poe in The Pale Blue Eye, Melling’s most impressive on-screen role to date.

“I was struck by that performance,” Cooper tells EW of Melling’s work in Buster Scruggs. “I felt, ‘My God! He would be a really terrific Edgar Allan Poe.’ And as we say in Virginia, he kind of favors Poe. He looks like him.”….

Melling also was interviewed by NPR: “Harry Melling on playing Edgar Allan Poe in the new movie ‘The Pale Blue Eye’”.

…SIMON: The film is set in 1830. But I got to begin by asking, what’s Edgar Allan Poe doing at West Point?

MELLING: I know. That’s what I thought, right? He was there in real life, which is extraordinary….

(10) DOOR HANGER. Found hanging on the internet…

(11) BE FREE. JUNG_E debuts on Netflix on January 20.

Humanity’s hope and ultimate weapon A.I. combat warrior JUNG_E Watch her break free.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Andrew (not Werdna), Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 1/4/23 Give It To Me Pixelled, Doctor, I Can Scroll It!

(1) EARLY 2023 AWARDS WARNING. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The SF2 Concatenation has just tweeted its annual, internal poll as to the Best Science Fiction Books and Films of the Year.  This is just a bit of informal fun and most certainly not to be taken too seriously. Having said that, previous years have seen a few works go on to win awards (scroll down the previous link).

(2) DEMOCRACY AT WORK. Meanwhile, the Critters Writers Workshop Readers Poll is taking votes from the public through January 14. Categories added this year: Magical Realism, Positive Future Fiction (novel & short story).

The award is unique for posting a running tally of the leaders in every category while voting is carried on.

I can say that I have actually heard of one of the top ten leaders in the Science Fiction & Fantasy category. (Reflecting on this process, I have to wonder why the Dragon Awards shortlists aren’t filled with the same kinds of indie books.)

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Christopher M. Cevasco and A. T. Greenblatt on Wednesday, January 11.

Christopher M. Cevasco

Christopher M. Cevasco’s debut novel Beheld: Godiva’s Story (Lethe) was released in April 2022. His stories have appeared in such venues as Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Black Static, and Shades of Blue and Gray: Ghosts of the Civil War (Prime). After ten years in Brooklyn, Chris and his wife moved to Myrtle Beach, SC, where they live with their two children.

A. T. Greenblatt

A. T. Greenblatt is a Nebula award winning short story writer. Her stories and essays have appeared in SlateTor.com, Uncanny, and many other places. She has been a finalist for the Hugo, Locus, Sturgeon, and WSFS awards. By day, she is a systems engineer and lives in Brooklyn.

At the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs) on January 11. Begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

(4) PERPETUALLY PEEVED. C. T. May is “mad at Harlan Ellison” for reasons explained in “A Good Story, a Great Story, and the Guy Who Couldn’t Tell Them Apart” at Splice Today.

Harlan Ellison was a very loud man. Even when he made a passing, matter-of-fact observation, it would be noisily matter-of-fact. For instance, “the two men wrote almost identical stories,” he once asserted. The two men, a pair of innocent authors, had done no such thing. But Ellison said otherwise to readers of Again, Dangerous Visions, the long-ago s.f. anthology that he compiled. I’m mad because a dead science fiction author didn’t understand a couple of stories.

Lord Dunsany wrote “Two Bottles of Relish,” and John Collier wrote “The Touch of Nutmeg Makes It.” A condiment and a spice, that’s a parallel. Further, each story involves murder and builds to a wicked one-line payoff, and the goal of each payoff is to chill the blood and flatter reader sophistication by laying before us a bitter, even grotesque secret regarding human nature and what people are capable of. The two stories are even told in a similar way: a character narrates what he saw other men say and do.

Those are some striking points of resemblance. I’d say the task of an intelligent person is to recognize that they’re just a list. Add these things up and you don’t get the same story twice….

Ellison opined on the two stories in his introduction to “Getting Along” by James Blish…

(5) DOINK DOINK. A case of New York publishing law and order is reaching its conclusion: “The End of a Book World Mystery: A Suspect in Manuscript Thefts to Plead Guilty” reports the New York Times.

The mystery captivated the book world: For years, someone impersonated authors and agents, editors and publishers, trying to steal unpublished book manuscripts from high profile authors like Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan and Ethan Hawke, but also from debut novelists and writers of more obscure works.

Now, a resolution to the yearslong scheme is near. On Friday, Filippo Bernardini is expected to plead guilty to wire fraud in front of a magistrate court judge in Manhattan, according to an email from the office of the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York that was sent to victims on Tuesday.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Bernardini early last year, saying he had “impersonated, defrauded, and attempted to defraud, hundreds of individuals” over five or more years, gaining access to hundreds of unpublished manuscripts in the process….

(6) LOOK FOR THE UNION LABEL. “Video game workers form Microsoft’s first US labor union” – the Associated Press has details.

A group of video game testers is forming Microsoft’s first labor union in the U.S., which will also be the largest in the video game industry.

The Communications Workers of America said Tuesday that a majority of about 300 quality-assurance workers at Microsoft video game subsidiary ZeniMax Studios has voted to join the union.

Microsoft already told the CWA it would accept the formation of the union at its Maryland video game subsidiary, fulfilling a promise it made to try to build public support for its $68.7-billion acquisition of another big game company, Activision Blizzard….

… The unionization campaign accelerated thanks to Microsoft’s ongoing bid to buy Santa Monica game giant Activision Blizzard. Microsoft, which is based in Redmond, Wash., made a June pact with the CWA union to stay neutral if Activision Blizzard workers sought to form a union….

(7) LET’S YOU AND HIM FIGHT. [Item by Michael Kennedy.] Is it punching down or punching up if Wolverine attacks Deadpool?

Actor Ryan Reynolds has been receiving Oscar attention for his song “Good Afternoon” in the Christmas flick Spirited. Hugh Jackman, who will be playing Wolverine opposite Reynolds‘ Deadpool in the upcoming Deadpool sequel, has thoughts. His video tweet jokes, “Ryan Reynolds getting a nomination in the best song category would make the next year of my life insufferable. I have to spend a year with him shooting Wolverine and Deadpool. Trust me, it would be impossible. It would be a problem.”

Variety analyzes Jackman’s tweet here: “Hugh Jackman Roasts Ryan Reynolds: Don’t Give ‘Spirited’ an Oscar Nom”.

Ryan Reynolds has earned himself a spot on the Oscar shortlist for best song for “Good Afternoon,” from his Christmas movie “Spirited” with Will Ferrell. But Hugh Jackman, who is preparing to star alongside Reynolds in the upcoming “Deadpool” sequel, hopes the Academy refrains from further boosting Reynolds’ ego with a nomination….

Or you can just watch it yourself.

(8) SUZY MCKEE CHARNAS (1939-2023). Author Suzy McKee Charnas died January 4. The author of many groundbreaking books (to quote Catherine Lundoff), her first published book, Walk to the End of the World, appeared in 1974 and later won a retrospective Otherwise Award. Her novella “Unicorn Tapestry” won a 1981 Nebula. Her short story “Boobs” won the Hugo Award in 1990.

Charnas’ story “Beauty and the Opéra or The Phantom Beast”  was shortlisted for the 1997 Hugo, World Fantasy, and Theodore Sturgeon awards.

She was a three-time winner of the Otherwise Award for Motherlines (1996; retrospective), Walk to the End of the World (1996, retrospective), and The Conqueror’s Child (2000).

Her series The Holdfast Chronicles was named to the Gaylactic Spectrum Hall of Fame in 2003.

The Kingdom of Kevin Malone won the Mythopoeic Award for Children’s Fantasy (1994).

Read more about her writing in John Clute’s SFE entry: Charnas, Suzy McKee. Her own website is: Suzy McKee Charnas science fiction.

Michael Swanwick also shared a significant memory in “Suzy McKee Charnas Meets Her Ideal Reader”.

…I met Ms. Charnas only once, back in the eighties, and I doubt I made much of an impression on her. But it’s worth recounting because that was the time she first met Judith Moffett.

Judy Moffett began as a serious poet (I greatly admire her collection Whinny Moor Crossing, the title poem in particular), fell into science fiction almost by accident, and quickly became an intensely admired novelist and short fiction writer. She was and is one of those tough-minded, tolerate-no-nonsense, totally admirable women who find in genre a place where they can think and do exactly as they like. And she admired the hell out of Suzy McKee Charnas. Most particularly, as with me, for The Vampire Tapestry.

Judy’s day job was as an academic at the University of  Pennsylvania, where she taught, among other things, a science fiction class. As part of which, that year, the class did a reading of a script–I think written by Judy, but it’s been a long time–of one of the component stories of the Tapestry. The protagonist was female but the student reading her lines was male.

Judy wrote to Suzy McKee Charnas telling her about the project and inviting her to come and witness an encore performance. An invitation which was readily accepted….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Waffles, or rather food in Emma Bull’s Finder: A Novel of the Borderlands

We sat at the round table that was just the right size for two; I don’t know if the Ticker ever has dinner parties. If she does, she can probably find another table. This one was made of some highly-polished golden wood in high Art Nouveau style. Heaven only knows how these things come into Bordertown, or, once they have, why they should land on Tick-Tick’s doorstep instead of in some parlor on Dragonstooth Hill.

The alcohol was gone from the liqueur, the strawberries were warmed and softened, and some of the sugars had caramelized. The waffles were crisp all around the edges and soft in the middle. And the Ticker had stopped me just in time on the whipped cream. There was hot tea to wash it down with, which tasted something like Darjeeling and something like not. It was related to last night’s shower: It was a meal to make me grovellingly happy to be alive.

— Orient in Emma Bull’s Finder: a Novel of The Borderlands

I have written this novel up here as one of my favorite novels but I’ve don’t think I mentioned in that review that food plays a role in it. Another scene takes place in the Hard Luck Cafe. 

Here’s the best quote from the part of that novel: 

It was warm inside in spite of the fans, and busy, and noisy, and remarkably like a combination of farmhouse kitchen, private club, and arts salon. Anyone who makes trouble at the Hard Luck Cafe is considered an incurable misfit, even within the loose social contract of Bordertown, and is not welcome anywhere, to anything. Consequently, the Hard Luck’s habituTs include humans, elves, and halfies, people from Dragontown and shimmers from up on the Tooth, painters and gang leaders. It’s such a desirable place to simply be that it’s almost too much to hope that the food is good. The food is good.

I peered at the back wall and the blackboard that serves as menu. The Hard Luck is a cooperative, and the people working the kitchen cook whatever they feel like that day. Certain things are almost always availableùburgers for the philistines, for instance—but if the staff decides they want to do Chinese that day, that’s what’s for dinner. If you don’t like it, that’s—all together now — Your Hard Luck. That day it looked like mixed down-home: fish chowder, lentil and spinach casserole, stuffed peppers, Brunswick stew.

Finally I need to mention the strawberries:

I sliced strawberries with all my attention. They were particularly fine ones, large and white clear through without a hint of pink. (Wild Borderland strawberries are one of the Border’s little jokes. They form bright red, and fade as they ripen. No strawberry has ever been so sweet.)

The novel is so richly, not just with these note, but everything that it brings the unnamed city, its inhabitants and the surrounding area to a quite vivid reality.  As I said in my post on the novel, I highly recommend Finder. But then I send Will and Emma dark chocolate which tells you how much I like them, so why wouldn’t I? 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 4, 1785 Jacob Grimm. Here solely for two reasons, the first being that he and his brother were the first to systematically collect folktales from the peasantry and write them down. Second is that the number of genre novels and short stories that used the Grimms’ Fairy Tales as their source for ideas is, well, if not infinite certainly a really high number. I’d wager that taking just those stories in any of The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror would get quite a number based on these tales. (Died 1863.)
  • Born January 4, 1927 Barbara Rush, 96. She won a Golden Globe Award as the most promising female newcomer for being Ellen Fields in It Came From Outer Space. She portrayed Nora Clavicle in Batman, and was found in other genre programs such as the revival version of Outer LimitsNight GalleryThe Bionic Woman and The Twilight Zone.
  • Born January 4, 1946 Ramsey Campbell, 77. My favorite novel by him is without doubt The Darkest Part of the Woods which has a quietly building horror to it. I know he’s better-known for his sprawling (pun full intended) Cthulhu mythology writings but I never got into those preferring his other novels such as his Solomon Kane movie novelization which is quite superb.
  • Born January 4, 1958 Matt Frewer, 65. His greatest role has to be as Max Headroom on the short-lived series of the same name. Amazingly I think it still stands thirty-five years later as SF well-crafted. Just a taste of his later series SF appearances include playing Jim Taggart, scientist  and dog catcher on Eureka, Pestilence in Supernatural, Dr. Kirschner in 12 Monkeys and Carnage in Altered Carbon. His film genre appearance list is just as impressive but I’ll single out SupergirlHoney, I Shrunk the KidsThe StandMonty Python’s The Meaning of Life (oh do guess where he is in it) and lastly Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, a series of films that I really like.
  • Born January 4, 1960 Michael Stipe, 63. Lead singer of R.E.M. which has done a few songs that I could say are genre adjacent. But no, I’ve got him here for being involved in a delightful project called Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films. Lots of great songs given interesting new recordings. His contribution was “Little April Shower” from Bambi which he covered along with Natalie Merchant, Michael Stipe, Mark Bingham and The Roches. Fun stuff indeed! 
  • Born January 4, 2000 Addy Miller, 23. She is on the Birthday List for being Sarah in Plan 9. Really? They remade that movie? Why? And yes, she played A Walker in that other show. My fav role by her is because of the title, it was a short called Ghost Trek: Goomba Body Snatchers Mortuary Lockdown, in which she was Scary Carrie Carmichael. And yes, you can watch it here.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Speed Bump turns a miraculous moment into a mundane complaint. (And yet it’s not about social media…)

(12) BRACE YOURSELVES. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki will be part of HWA New York’s  “Galactic Terrors” online reading series on January 12, along with Meghan Arcuri and Nathan Carson, with co-hosts Carol Gyzander and James Chambers. The writers will read their stories live and take questions.

(13) CONTINUED NEXT ROCK. Atlas Obscura has pictures of a “Hidden J.R.R. Tolkien Quote – Natural Bridge, Virginia”.

VIRGINIA’S NATURAL BRIDGE IS a wonder in and of itself. It’s no surprise that North America’s largest natural land bridge has been drawing people to it for centuries. But those who visit Natural Bridge State Park just to see the enormous stone structure miss risking one of its hidden gems.

Head to Cedar Creek, and you’ll find a literary surprise. There, etched into the side of a large rock, is a J.R.R. Tolkien quote….

(14) HISTORIC SOUND RECORDINGS PRESERVED. “Wax Cylinders Hold Audio From a Century Ago. The Library Is Listening.” And the New York Times eavesdrops.

 The first recording, swathed in sheets of distortion, was nonetheless recognizable as a child’s voice — small, nervous, encouraged by his father — wishing a very Merry Christmas to whoever was listening.

The second recording, though still noisy, adequately captured the finale of the second act of “Aida,” performed by the German singer Johanna Gadski at the Metropolitan Opera House in the spring of 1903.

And the third recording was the clearest yet: the waltz from “Romeo and Juliet,” also from the Met, sung by the Australian soprano Nellie Melba.

Accessed by laptop in a conference room at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the recordings had been excavated and digitized from a much older source: wax cylinders, an audio format popularized in the late 19th century as the first commercial means of recording sound. These particular documentations originated with Lionel Mapleson, an English-born librarian for the Metropolitan Opera, who made hundreds of wax cylinder recordings, capturing both the turn-of-the-century opera performances he saw as part of his job and the minutiae of family life….

…These particular cylinders were previously available to the library in the 1980s, when they were transferred to magnetic tape and released as part of a six-volume LP set compiling the Mapleson recordings. After that, they were returned to the Mapleson family, while the greater collection stayed with the library. But, Wood said, “there’s people all over the world that are convinced that a new transfer of those cylinders would reveal more audio details than the previous ones.”

Wax cylinders were traditionally played on a phonograph, where, similar to a modern record player, a stylus followed grooves in the wax and translated the information into sound. The Endpoint machine uses a laser that places less stress on the cylinders, allowing it to take a detailed imprint without sacrificing physical integrity, and to adjust for how some cylinders have warped over time. The machine can retrieve information from broken cylinder shards that are incapable of being traditionally played, which can then be digitally reconstituted into a complete recording.

Within the next few years, the library hopes to digitize both the cylinders and the diaries, and make them available to the public. The non-Mapleson cylinders in the library’s collection are also eligible to be digitized, though Wood said that process will be determined based on requests for certain cylinders. The library’s engineers are shared across departments, and with a backlog of thousands, she said, “We have to wait our turn.”…

(15) TAILS OF CLI-FI. The Scientist Magazine says “Animals Are Shape-Shifting in Response to a Warming World”.

At the South African nature preserve where Miya Warrington and colleagues study Cape ground squirrels (Xerus inauris), the maximum daily temperature has increased by about 2.5 °C in just 18 years. The animals have evolved a quiver of tactics to tolerate the region’s sweltering heat, says Warrington, a conservation ecologist at the University of Manitoba. Sprawling flat on the ground in a pose called splooting, for example, helps the animals shed heat from their less furry undersides. The squirrels also take shady respites under their bushy tails, which they curl above their heads like tiny parasols. When it’s really hot, the fossorial mammals retreat to their burrows to cool off. But Warrington warns that, even with all these options for keeping cool, “still they could be at the limits of their tolerance” due to such a rapid climactic shift.

That intense pressure could be why their bodies have begun to change shape, Warrington says. She found that, over the course of just under two decades, the squirrels’ already incredibly large hind feet, which may help dissipate heat, have grown relative to their body sizes by about 11 percent. Meanwhile, their spine lengths have become about 6 percent shorter….

(16) THE NEXT CRISIS. “’Foundation’ Season 2 Release Date on Apple TV Plus, Trailer” discussed at TV Line.

Apple TV+ has unveiled a sneak peek at the upcoming season, which you can check out above, featuring Gaal making her way home and Brother Day bracing for a potential war. New episodes will arrive this summer, the streamer has announced.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/14/22 Scroll My Pixeling Down, Sport

(1) LOCUS CROWDFUNDING NEARS FINISH LINE. The Locus Magazine Indiegogo campaign wraps up tomorrow. Backers have pledged $73,015 of $75,000 as of this afternoon – they may make it!

Sarah Gailey interviewed Locus’ publisher and editor-in-chief at Stone Soup: “Liza Groen Trombi Asks Better Questions”.

…Locus is a hub of genre community news, collecting stories about publishers, awards, conferences, publishing rights, deaths, and so much more. You encounter a massive volume of information every day — you’ve mentioned elsewhere that Locus receives as many as 80-100 emails in an hour. How do you process that avalanche into such a concise and informative package?

Practice, practice, practice. We have a lot of systems to gather info, an amazing senior editor who sifts through hundreds of emails every day pulling out news and all the important bits and bobs (Tim Pratt – we all bow down to his speed and competence), another who indexes all of our incoming books, many of which we hear about in email at this point (Carolyn Cushman), another who is constantly chasing up new titles and hunting down info  (Arley Sorg)… and we also know we aren’t going to cover everything, catch every bit of news. So then a little self-compassion helps a lot….

(2) THE SUN IN A JAR. In “Fusion? We’ve Seen This Movie Before”, the New York Times tells how popular culture is setting viewers’ expectations for a scientific breakthrough.  

…You probably already have some familiarity with fusion thanks to movies.

At the end of the 1985 sci-fi classic “Back to the Future,” Dr. Emmett Brown, played by Christopher Lloyd, soups up his tricked-out time-traveling DeLorean by feeding trash into a canister called the Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor attached to the top of the car. And in “Spider-Man 2,” from 2004, the well-meaning scientist Dr. Octavius (a.k.a. Doc Ock, played by Alfred Molina) creates a fusion reactor with an artificial sun at the center. But when it gets out of control, so does he, transforming into a villain who aims to re-create the dangerous machine.

Pop culture’s fascination with fusion goes beyond a process that sustains robotics and machinery; our culture’s collective dreams of safe, unlimited energy have even been epitomized by some of our heroes….

(3) MAPPING THE OUTER DARKNESS. Sunday Morning Transport marks “Reader Favorite Wednesday” by posting as a free read Yoon Ha Lee’s “Nonstandard Candles”.

Why hasn’t Yoon Ha Lee won all the awards? His writing is always smart, inventive, and above all compelling—everything you want Science Fiction to be. This story, about making maps through the darkest of spaces, is just one example, and especially apropos given everything going on in the world right now.

(4) TWISTED SISTERS CREATOR REMEMBERED. The Comics Journal reports “Diane Noomin’s Memorial Service at SVA, November 10, 2022”, a profile of the artist with a full a transcript of the remarks by her husband Bill Griffith (excerpted below).

… Diane was my partner in so many ways, from our mutual love for comics and art to a decades-long, behind the scenes collaboration on what we produced, and as aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, and friends to our extended family. But here’s the thing to remember. We were each other’s creative editors on every project we worked on, on her Twisted Sisters anthologies, on her career-spanning Glitz-2-Go book, on her recent landmark book, Drawing Power, and especially for me, on my four graphic novels, the last one still in progress. Diane’s fingerprints are all over every page of all of those books. I can’t begin to count how many times, after reading a few of my pages as I created them, she’d say, “Put more feeling into it. Get under the character’s skin, bring out the emotion. Put in some backstory.”

These books wouldn’t be the same without Diane. I can only hope I absorbed enough of her spot-on insights and continuity expertise to keep me on the straight and narrow in the future….

(5) RICHARD MILLER (1942-2022).  Industrial Light and Magic sculptor Richard Miller died December 8 at the age of 80. Deadline led with his work creating Princess Leia’s gold bikini costume for Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, and followed with a long list of credits of his work on other Hollywood films, many of which were genre.

His work was used in films like Willow (1988), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), Body Wars (1989), Back to the Future Part II (1989), Back to the Future Part III (1990), Backdraft (1991), Rocketeer (1991), Hook (1991) and Death Becomes Her (1992).

Other movies his work was featured in were The Flintstones (1994), Baby’s Day Out (1994), The Mask (1994), Casper (1995), Congo (1995), Jumanji (1995), Mission Impossible (1996), Spawn (1997), Flubber (1997).

Miller returned to the Star Wars universe when his sculptures were used in the three prequels of the saga. His credits also included films like The Mummy (1999), Space Cowboys (2000), A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), Planet of the Apes (2001), Hulk (2003) and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003).

Some of his last work was on the Pirates of the Caribbean series of films.

(6) MEMORY LANE.

2007? [By Cat Eldridge.] The Ent in Birmingham 

Yes, there’s an Ent in Birmingham. Well, there’s supposed to be.

Let’s start at the beginning with the solicitation: “In honour of JRR Tolkien, a Treebeard type Statue is going to be built for the centre of Moseley, the place where he grew up as a child and where he puts his inspiration down to. In this area, very close to his second childhood home in what was the hamlet of Sarehole (now part of Moseley) are the amazing places of Moseley Bog, the Dell and Sarehole Mill. These 3 places, alongside the River Cole have been preserved and protected, allowing the writer to experience what it must have been like for JRR and his brother Hilary as children.” 

They raised the cost by selling leaves, to wit “Under ‘him’, will be a bed of leaves on which you can have a personalised dedication engraved and so be associated with this most famous of writers. We are offering 30 large bronze leaves at a fixed price of £2000.” 

So far, so good. The twenty foot tall stainless steel structure is off Treebeard and it up in Moseley Village Green, near J. R. R. Tolkien’s childhood home in Birmingham. It will eventually be made by the author’s great-nephew Tim Tolkien.

Let me now quote the sculptor at length from an interview in 2007: “The ‘Ent’ idea was the one that was most liked. There was some negative criticism but enough positive, too, for planning permission to be granted.  

The design stage is complete now. It took probably about two to three years; the time was spent considering different ideas and going through the process of getting planning permission.  A model was made and used to create mock photos, which people thought were very realistic. I’ve had people ring to see if the statue has been moved, because they’ve seen the mock photos then gone to visit, but I haven’t started making yet. I won’t until all the money is there.  It will take about six months to construct the statue; I will build it in pieces then put it together on the site.”

In the meantime, local opposition has mounted several campaigns to get the local authorities to rescind their approval for it going there with one group claiming that Tolkien is not a major British literary figure and therefore this is an improper usage of that space. Yes, they really did say that.

Yes, there are digital models as it’ll appear placed there so here’s one. It might indeed be up but I can find no proof that it online. On the other leaf, it might never actually have happened. The Google Maps photo of the proposed location shows nothing but lawn.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 14, 1916 Shirley Jackson. First gained public attention for her short story “The Lottery, or, The Adventures of James Harris” but it was her The Haunting of Hill House novel which has made her legendary as a horror novelist as it’s truly a chilling ghost story.  I see that she’s written quite a bit of genre short fiction — has anyone here read it? And yes, I know there’s at least one series made off The Haunting of Hill House novel but you already know my opinion on such matters. (Died 1965.)
  • Born December 14, 1920 Rosemary Sutcliff. English novelist whose best known for children’s books, particularly her historical fiction which involved retellings of myths and legends, Arthurian and otherwise. Digging into my memory, I remember reading The Chronicles of Robin Hood which was her first published novel and rather good; The Eagle of the Ninth is set in Roman Britain and was an equally fine read. (Died 1992.)
  • Born December 14, 1949 David A. Cherry, 73. Illustrator working mostly in the genre. Amazingly he has been nominated eleven times for Hugo Awards, and eighteen times for Chesley Awards with an astonishing eight wins! He is a past president of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists. Oh, and he’s is the brother of the science fiction writer C. J. Cherryh (“Cherry” is the original spelling of the last name of the family) so you won’t be surprised that he’s painted cover art for some of her books such as The Cherryh Odyssey and The Kif Strike Back! as well as books for Robert Asprin, Andre Norton, Diane Duane, Lynn Abbey and Piers Anthony to name but a few.
  • Born December 14, 1954 James Horan, 68. One of those actors that had roles across the Trek verse, having appeared on Next GenerationVoyager, Deep Space Nine and Enterprise. He also voiced a character on Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, and showed up on Highlander, Charmed and Lost. Like so many Trek alums, he’s also been on The Orville
  • Born December 14, 1959 Debbie Lee Carrington. Actress who was an ardent advocate for performers with disabilities. She was the performer inside the Howard the Duck costume, a Martian rebel named Thumbelina in Total Recall, an Ewok in Return of the Jedi (and in the TV movies that followed, a Drone in Invaders from Mars, Little Bigfoot in Harry and the Hendersons, an Emperor Penguin in Batman Returns and a Chucky double in Curse of Chucky. (Died 2018.)
  • Born December 14, 1966 Sarah Zettel, 56. Her first novel, Reclamation, was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award in 1996, and in 1997 tied for the Locus Award for the Best First Novel. Writing under the alias of C. L. Anderson, her novel Bitter Angels won the 2010 Philip K. Dick award for best paperback original novel. If you’ve not read her, I’d recommend her YA American Fairy Trilogy as a good place to start.
  • Born December 14, 1968 Kelley Armstrong54. Canadian writer, primarily of fantasy novels since the early party of the century. She has published thirty-one fantasy novels to date, thirteen in her Women of the Otherworld series, another five in her Cainsville series. I’m reasonably sure I listened to the Cainsville series and would recommend it wholeheartedly.

(8) INVESTIGATING CONSCIOUSNESS. The Hugo Book Club Blog reviews “The Tentacle of Empathy” by Ray Nayler.

…The novel’s depiction of semi-functional future geopolitics and extreme forms of predatory capitalism are sadly believable, but written with interesting nuance. Nayler’s background working in the foreign service has given him a perspective and a knowledge that lends the story credibility.

But at its core, the strength of the novel is in how richly it explores the ways in which humans interpret experiences, how different sensoria and neurological architecture might construct individual understandings of the world, and how artificial intelligences might evolve and what that could mean for their sentience. It’s impossible to know what’s going on in another being’s head, nor whether depicting these processes can ever be accomplished, but we suspect that Nayler has done this about as well as possible….

The author was pleased —

(9) BLOOD SCIENCE. “World-First Trial Transfusing Lab-Grown Red Blood Cells Begins”ScienceAlert has details.

…The world-first trial, underway in the UK, is studying whether red blood cells made in the laboratory last longer than blood cells made in the body.

Although the trial is only small, it represents a “huge stepping stone for manufacturing blood from stem cells,” says University of Bristol cell biologist Ashley Toye, one of the researchers working on the study.

To generate the transfusions, the team of researchers isolated stem cells from donated blood and coaxed them into making more red blood cells, a process that takes around three weeks.

In the past, researchers showed they could transfuse lab-grown blood cells back into the same donor they were derived from. This time, they have infused the manufactured cells into another compatible person – a process known as allogeneic transfusion….

(10) SOME LIGHTNING FOR THUNDER LIZARDS. 65 comes to movie theaters March 10. SYFY Wire explains the premise.

…The new film, written and directed by A Quiet Place creators Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, opens with a very familiar premise. Commander Mills (Adam Driver), a starship pilot, is sending out a distress signal after his ship crashed on an uncharted planet. With his means of escape ripped to shreds and just one human survivor (Arianna Greenblatt) to co-exist with on this new world, he has no choice but to simply work to survive until some form of help can arrive. What he doesn’t know, of course, is that he’s crashed somewhere very familiar, not to him, but certainly to us.

That’s right, the “65” of the title is for “65 million years ago,” pitting Driver’s character against all manner of prehistoric creatures who’ve never seen the likes of him before, and setting up some very interesting implications about the early history of Earth….

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “’A Very Cold War Christmas’ – A Late Show Animated Holiday Classic”.

It’s Christmas eve, and after Vladimir Putin demands Ukraine for Christmas, Santa must defend the North Pole against a Russian invasion. President Biden delivers much needed aid to Santa via bicycle drawn choo-choo train, and then sends an elite elf squadron of North Pole’s best to the Kremlin in a Top Gun style mission culminating in an epic face off in Red Square. Are you ready to “Ride into the Manger Zone?”

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Olav Rokne, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 10/24/22 Labyrinth of Chaos

(1) EU TURN. BBC Future explores the meaning of “Eucatastrophe: Tolkien’s word for the ‘anti-doomsday’”.

…In particular, Tolkien wrote about what makes a happy ending so powerful in stories. And to do so, he came up with an intriguing coinage: fairy stories, he suggested, often feature a “eucatastrophe” – this was, he suggested, a “good” catastrophe. So, what exactly did he mean? And could such events happen in real life too?

In the present day, Tolkien’s idea of the “good catastrophe” has attracted the attention of scholars who study existential risk and humanity’s future prospects. It turns out that eucatastrophes may matter beyond fairy stories – and identifying the conditions that lead to them could be necessary if we want to thrive as a species.

According to Tolkien, a eucatastrophe in a story often happens at the darkest moment. When all seems lost – when the enemy seems to have won – a sudden “joyous turn” for the better can emerge. It delivers a deep emotional reaction in readers: “a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart”, he wrote….

(2) CLOSE LOOK AT THE CLARKE FINALISTS. The winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award will be announced on Wednesday. Andrew Butler, chair of judges, discusses the finalists in detail in “The Best Science Fiction of 2022: The Clarke Award Shortlist” at Five Books.

Let’s talk about Deep Wheel Orcadia by the Scottish writer Harry Josephine Giles. It’s a novel-in-verse, which takes a very interesting literary approach. Can you tell us more?

Novels-in-two-verses, you might argue. One in Orcadian, one in English. Orcadian is a dialect of Scots—as opposed to Gaelic—and there’s a history of Scots feeding into science fiction and horror, especially Gothic horror. In 1919, someone came up with the idea of the Caledonian antisyzygy—the Scots think in one language, but feel in another, say. There’s a sort of divided consciousness at the centre of Scottish books, poetry and art—and we can trace this division in authors such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Iain M. Banks and many others.

I think I can relate to that.

The action of Deep Wheel Orcadia is mostly set on or close to an isolated space station, at a crisis point in the solar system, and focuses on the working and private lives of the characters on board. You could decide to read the Orcadian version and then the English, or vice versa, or just one—but you’d miss so much if you only read half. I think you can pick up the Orcadian, as you might the Riddleyspeak in Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker….

(3) SCORING SFF. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to this 2017 podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin had with composer Michael Giacchino. You knew this would be a great interview because Giacchino begins the interview by saying that when he’s in the car, he listens to old-time radio and his favorite show is the sf show X Minus One. Leonard Maltin wrote a very good book about old time radio and he and Giacchino geek out about radio for many minutes.  Most of the rest of the interview was how Giacchino got his start; he graduated from the School of Visual Arts with postgraduate work at Julliard. He ended up scoring video games and got a big break from Steven Spielberg that led to his scoring “The Lost World” video game. Another big break led to Giacchino writing the score for The Incredibles after John Barry, who originally was offered the job, declined.

I think Giacchino is the best active film composer and he also gets credit for hiring veteran musicians who have all their skills but may need help with technology or disabilities. Between 85-90 percent of Giacchino’s work is for sf or fantasy films, so this should be of interest. Maltin on Movies: “Michael Giacchino”.

(4) KEN BURNS TURNS THE PAGE. In the New York Times: “Ken Burns Wishes More People Would Call Willa Cather a Great American Novelist”, however, he also reads sff.

What books are on your night stand?

I have a pretty big night stand. … and then I have Kim Stanley Robinson’s “New York 2140,” which is a really wonderful book, imagining a less dystopian future. It does have disasters and climate change, but it also has sort of human adaptability, and it’s really spectacular. 

Do you have favorite genres and genres that you avoid?

I don’t like horror. I had a big science fiction thing in high school and college and I haven’t read science fiction in ages and ages. I used to read religiously Roger Zelazny and now I can’t even find his books on a bookshelf at a reputable bookstore. But everything else is kind of open. I like good writing. One writer I love is Willa Cather. People say, Was it Melville or Hemingway or Twain who wrote the great American novel, meaning “Moby-Dick” or “A Farewell to Arms” or obviously “Huckleberry Finn,” where, as Hemingway rightly said, American literature begins. But what about “O Pioneers!” or “My Ántonia”? For that matter, what about Gabriel García Márquez? We do not have a copyright on the word “American.”

(5) BUSCH COMMEMORATED. First Fandom President John L. Coker III announced a tribute to the late Justin E. A. Busch who died October 21.

Last week, after I learned about his grave condition, I had an award plaque made.  It is the seldom-given First Fandom Merit Award, “Presented to Justin E. A. Busch for attaining excellence in his work.”  He didn’t live long enough to see it but I would like for it to be at least a small part of his legacy.

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1984 [By Cat Eldridge.] Ray Bradbury’s A Memory of Murder

Ray Bradbury’s A Memory of Murder is a collection of fifteen of his mystery short stories published thirty-eight years ago by Dell. They first appeared from 1944 to 1948 in pulp magazines owned by Popular Publications, Inc. that specialized in detective and crime fiction.

Bradbury wasn’t that happy with these stories as he thought he hadn’t developed yet as a writer and made that well known more than once later on. As he said in an interview with Crime Time, “When my first detective mystery stories began to appear in Dime DetectiveDime Mystery MagazineDetective Tales, and Black Mask in the early ’40s, there was no immediate trepidation over in the Hammett-Chandler-Cain camp. The fact is, it didn’t develop later either. I was never a threat. I couldn’t, in the immortal words of Marlon Brando, have been a contender.”

The stories themselves numbered fifteen in total with titles such as “A Careful Man Dies” from New Detective Magazine in November 1946). The cover blurb was “For a hemophiliac, no object is innocent, and even a kiss can kill!” It was one of Bradbury’s stories that filmed in 2005, this time by Italian backers and producers. 

Another one, “It Burns Me Up!” from Dime Mystery Magazine in November 1944 carried the wonderfully chilling first line of “I am lying here in the very centre of the room and I am not mad, I am not angry, I am not perturbed” it serves as a great reminder that some of his stories got turned comics, see Ray Bradbury Comics, Number 3, published in 1993.

I’ll let Ed Gorman have the last word as he reviewed this collection over on his blog in his column Forgotten Books. He said of his favorite story, “The most interesting story is ‘The Long Night.’ I remember the editor who bought it writing a piece years later about what a find it was. And it is. A story set in the Hispanic area of Los Angeles during the war, it deals with race and race riots, with the juvenile delinquency that was a major problem for this country in the war years (remember The Amboy Dukes?) and the paternal bonds that teenage boys need and reject at the same time. A haunting, powerful story that hints at the greatness that was only a few years away from Bradbury.” 

It went of print immediately but the paperback is fairly easy to find at the usual sellers.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 24, 1893 Merian Cooper. Aviator, Writer, Director and Producer. After spending WWI in the Air Force, Cooper became a writer and researcher for The New York Times and later the American Geographic Society, traveling the world, and writing stories and giving lectures about his travels. He then turned some of his writing into documentary films. He had helped David Selznick get a job at RKO Pictures, and later Selznick hired him to make movies. He developed one of his story ideas into a movie featuring a giant gorilla which is terrorizing New York City. King Kong was released in 1933, and the story has been sequeled, remade, comicbooked, and rebooted innumerable times in the last 85 years. (Died 1973.) (JJ) 
  • Born October 24, 1915 Bob Kane. Writer and Artist who co-created, along with Bill Finger, the DC character Batman. Multiple sources report that “Kane said his influences for the character included actor Douglas Fairbanks’ movie portrayal of the swashbuckler Zorro, Leonardo da Vinci’s diagram of the ornithopter, a flying machine with huge bat-like wings; and the 1930 film The Bat Whispers, based on Mary Roberts Rinehart’s mystery novel The Circular Staircase.” He was inducted into Jack Kirby Hall of Fame and the Will Eisner Hall of Fame. The character he created has been featured in countless comic books, stories, movies, TV series, animated features, videogames, and action figures in the last eight decades. The 1989 movie based on his creation, featuring Michael Keaton in the title role, was a finalist for both Hugo and British Science Fiction Association Awards. (Died 1998.)
  • Born October 24, 1948 Margaret “Peggy” Ranson. Artist, Illustrator, and Fan, who became involved with fandom when she co-edited the program book for the 1988 Worldcon in New Orleans. She went on to provide art for many fanzines and conventions, and was a finalist for the Best Fan Artist Hugo every one of the eight years from 1991 to 1998, winning once. She was Guest of Honor at several conventions, including a DeepSouthCon. Sadly, she died of cancer in 2016; Mike Glyer’s lovely tribute to her can be read here. (Died 2016.)
  • Born October 24, 1952 Jane Fancher, 70. Writer and Artist. In the early 80s, she was an art assistant on Elfquest, providing inking assistance on the black and white comics and coloring of the original graphic novel reprints. She adapted portions of C.J. Cherryh’s first Morgaine novel into a black and white comic book, which prompted her to begin writing novels herself. Her first novel, Groundties, was a finalist for the Compton Crook Award, and she has been Guest of Honor and Toastmaster at several conventions.
  • Born October 24, 1956 Katie Waitman, 66. Her best known work to date was the Compton Crook Award winning The Merro Tree in which a galaxy-spanning performance artist must defy a ban imposed on him. Her second novel, The Divided, appears to be bog standard military SF but really isn’t. Highly recommended.  
  • Born October 24, 1956 Dr. Jordin Kare. Physicist, Filker, and Fan who was known for his scientific research on laser propulsion. A graduate of MIT and Berkeley, he said that he chose MIT because of the hero in Heinlein’s Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. He was a regular attendee and science and filk program participant at conventions, from 1975 until his untimely death. He met his wife, Mary Kay Kare, at the 1981 Worldcon. He should be remembered and honored as being an editor of The Westerfilk Collection: Songs of Fantasy and Science Fiction, a crucial filksong collection, and later as a partner in Off Centaur Publications, the very first commercial publisher specializing in filk songbooks and recordings. Shortly after the shuttle Columbia tragedy, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, on live TV, attempted to read the lyrics to Jordin’s Pegasus Award-winning song “Fire in the Sky”, which celebrates manned space exploration. He was Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, and was named to the Filk Hall of Fame. Mike Glyer’s tribute to him can be read here. (Died 2017.) (JJ)
  • Born October 24, 1960 BD Wong, 62.  His first genre role was in Jurassic Park as Dr. Henry Wu (a role reprised in Jurassic World, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Jurassic Park Dominion). He was the voice of Captain Li Shang on Mulan, and Whiterose, head of the hacker collective Dark Army on Mr. Robot.
  • Born October 24, 1974 Liesel Schwarz, 48. She’s been dubbed, by whom I know not I admit, “The High Priestess of British Steampunk”. She has written the Chronicles of Light and Shadow trilogy, a sequence set in a Steampunk version of Europe in which the three novels are Chronicles of Light and ShadowA Clockwork Heart and Sky Pirates.
  • Born October 24, 1971 Sofia Samatar, 51. Teacher, Writer, and Poet who speaks several languages and started out as a language instructor, a job which took her to Egypt for nine years. She won the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and is the author of two wonderful novels to date, both of which I highly recommend: Stranger in Olondria (which won World Fantasy and British Fantasy Awards and was nominated for a Nebula) and The Winged Histories. Her short story “Selkie Stories are for Losers” was nominated for Hugo, Nebula, BSFA, and BFA Awards. She has written enough short fiction in just six years that Small Beer Press put out Tender, a collection which is a twenty-six stories strong. And she has a most splendid website. (Standback)

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Six Chix may be a comic but these characters are not overdrawn.
  • Tom Gauld on the perfect book cover. Almost.

(9) BULLPEN MEMORIES. “An iconic Daredevil writer and X-Men editor joins the pod to talk about taking translating stories from The Daily News into the Daily Bugle.” “The Girl From Marvel’s Boy-Club Bullpen Tells All About Old Times Square” in the FAQ NYC podcast.

Ann Nocenti, the writer, journalist and filmmaker who wrote and edited some of the most iconic Marvel comics of the late 1980s and early 1990s joins the podcast to discuss her early years in New York as “the girl who lived behind the fish tank,” quite literally, how her work in asylums influenced her stories about superheroes, creating Marvel’s first openly transgender character, the role of “fake news” in the comics she’s working on now, and much more. 

(10) NOT A ONE NIGHT STAND. Deadline lists the film adaptations of Howard Waldrop stories that George R.R. Martin is producing. “’House of the Dragon’ Creator George R.R. Martin On Short Film Anthology Including One With Felicia Day”.

Days before a Targaryen civil war erupts between Rhaenyra and Alicent on the Season 1 finale of HBO’s House of the Dragon, you’ll find series creator George R.R. Martin staying mum on fire-breathing animals and talking up his latest rotoscope animated short, Night of the Cootersin his Santa Fe, NM stomping ground.

The Vincent D’Onofrio-directed cowboys vs. aliens film based on the Howard Waldrop short story is one of four short movies Martin is producing in what is shaping up to be an anthology either for the big screen (a la Creepshow) or TV (a la Love, Death and Robots)…

In addition to Night of the Cooters, Martin recently finished production on the second title he owns from sci-fi author Waldrop. Currently titled Friends Forever, the short was directed by Justin Duval, a producer and DP on Night of the Cooters, and is currently in post.

Another short currently shooting in Santa Fe under the helm of Steven Paul Judd is Mary Margaret Road-Grader, which Martin billed as a “Native American Mad Max story about tractor pulls and feminism.”

Then there’s Waldrop’s most notable work, The Ugly Chickensabout the extinction of the dodo, which is about to shoot in Toronto with Kodachrome‘s Mark Raso directing….

(11) HOMES OF HORROR. Kelsey Ford lists “Haunted House Books That Will Keep You Up At Night” for readers of the PowellsBooks.Blog.

…In honor of spooky season (the best season), I’ve pulled together a by-no-means-exhaustive list of my favorite haunted house books, books with houses that exemplify the Shirley’s Jackson quote: “It was a house without kindness, never meant to be lived in, not a fit place for people or for love or for hope.”…

(12) MIDDLE EASTERN ANIMATION HIT. “Bidaya Blasts Back to the Future with Sci-Fi Show, ‘The Adventures of Mansour: Age of A.I.’”Animation Magazine has the story.

The Adventures of Mansour, a sci-fi cartoon phenomenon from the Middle East that’s racked up an astounding two billion YouTube hits, is returning with an all-new sequel series, The Adventures of Mansour: Age of A.I.  

Funded by Mubadala Investment Company and Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA), the dynamic adventure show is aimed at kids aged 6-12. This Mansour relaunch from Bidaya Media, recently announced at MIPCOM 2022, will be the first Arab cartoon first created in English and Arabic then realigned for a worldwide audience presenting topical themes of artificial intelligence, technology, climate change, and space exploration.

…Here’s the official description:

Set in the near future, in the technologically advanced Salam City, ‘The Adventures of Mansour: Age of AI’ is a sci-fi action adventure series that revolves around Mansour, a 12-year-old tech whiz, who unintentionally creates a mischievous sentient artificial intelligence known as Blink. With the support of his closest friends, Mansour must deal with all manner of pranks, challenges and dangers posed by Blink, who for his own amusement, is determined to cause as much chaos as possible for Mansour and the people of Salam City.  

(13) LAND(ED)SHARK. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Tom Scott explores the controversy over the British house with a shark in its roof (a story I think is fandom-adjacent). “The government approves of this shark now.”

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

Utopias

By Sultana Raza.

Seeking / Restoring Green Gardens of Utopias

As environmental problems caused by industrialisation and post-industrialisation continue to increase, the public is looking for ecological solutions. As pandemics, economic crises, and wars plague our society in different ways, thoughts turn to the good old times. But were they really all that good? People are escaping increasingly into fantastical stories in order to find a quantum of solace. But at what point was there a utopia in our society. If so, at what or whose cost did it exist? Whether or not we ever experience living in a utopia, the idea of finally finding one drives us to continue seeking ideal living conditions.

Mythic utopias

Most myths are about a loss of power and/or balance. The idea of creating a utopia, or for trying to recover a lost one goes back to mythic times. For example, in the great Indian myth, entitled the Ramayana, there’s a utopia of sorts within the kingdom of King Dasharatha. But his second queen asks him for a boon, which is to send the king’s heir-apparent, Lord Rama into exile in the forest for ten years. That’s where trouble begins, and though Lord Rama manages to recover his kingdom, and establish Ramaraj, or good governance, it’s not without a price.

Also, in the Mahabharata, there’s trouble and outright war between two sets of step-brothers the Pandavas (who are five in number) and the Kauravas (who are one hundred in number). Their ideal world is shattered, and never fully recovers. Lots of heroes on both sides lose their lives, and a lot of fantastical weapons are mentioned in it. Some authors think that the outcome of the war mentioned in these Indian myths was akin to nuclear devastation. The Mahabharata also describes different types of flying vessels, which even had the capability of travelling between places on earth, and also between stars. However, that technology was lost after the great war in the Mahabharata.

Greco-Roman Myths

In the Greek myths, the Hesperides and Elysium are ideal realms where not everyone is allowed to enter. Even heroes have difficulties to enter these spheres. For example, Mount Parnassus, home of the Nine Muses, is supposed to be an ideal, and sacred place in pagan myths.

The prosperous and flourishing city of Troy, which was a utopia of its kind, was lost in Greek myths. Odysseus ended up on the islands of Circe and Calypso respectively, and could have lived in these utopias, but had to leave to go back home. However, he didn’t find any peace at Ithaca after his return either. It wasn’t his utopia anymore.

Celtic Myths

In the Celtic Myths, the Tuatha Dé Danann (a race of supernatural beings) lose their homeland, which was their own utopia. They are obliged to go underground by the Milesians. There are many stories of paradise lost, also at the individual level in these myths. Lyonesse is an island thought to have disappeared beneath the seas off the coast of Cornwall. Though it was a fair land in the beginning with hard-working folks in it, due to a horrible crime committed by its inhabitants it was sunk beneath the sea by a storm, as a punishment to its people. It’s yet another land that disappeared.

Paradise Lost

Biblical stories are about the fall of Man from legendary Eden, and the efforts of human beings to be allowed back into it. Consciousness in the Occident is filled with the idea that our paradise is lost, mainly due to Eve’s mistake. However, long before the advent of the three book-based creeds such as Judaism, Christianity, or Islam, all of which outline the story of the fall of man, these kinds of stories abound in myths.

Camelot as Utopia

In the Occident, Arthurian legends are about establishing or seeking utopias. Camelot was a utopia of sorts with its fabled Round Table. All the knights who were allowed to sit at this table were supposed to be equals. But all this was before trouble began. With the fall of King Arthur, the utopia at Camelot dissolved.

The Castle of the Holy Grail was a utopia of sorts for the questing knights. Sir Lancelot wasn’t allowed to go in that castle because of his ‘sin’ with Queen Guinevere. Sir Percival was allowed to go in the castle because he was pure of heart. The Isle of Avalon was also a utopia of sorts and not everyone was allowed to go there. It’s Arthur’s final resting place and he’s supposed to come back from there after being healed, since he’s the once and future king.

Camelot; excerpted from Castles. Artist: Alan Lee

Utopia in LOTR

Since Tolkien based his stories on myths and legends, it shouldn’t be surprising that the concept of a lost utopia can be found in his Legendarium as well. The new Amazon TV serial, Rings of Power (ROP) will touch upon how the utopia of the Elves was tampered with by Morgoth, and how the Elves spent a long time defending Middle Earth and ultimately their Blessed Realms against threats. Then they defeated Sauron at the end of the Second Age, and then again at the end of the Third Age

Photo above: Rivendell; Artist: Alan Lee

In Middle earth, the Elves founded some peaceful realms such as Doriath, and Gondolin, and later on Rivendell, and Lothlorien which were kept hidden from the enemy. The Shire was a utopia for its inhabitants before it was attacked by Saruman at the end of the Third Age. In a way Tolkien’s long saga can be seen as attempts to restore the peace of the utopia in the worlds of the Elves, the Blessed Realms.

Dwarves arrive at Rivendell:

Dwarves have dinner at Rivendell:

The Fellowship reaches Lothlorien:

A utopia of sorts was also restored in Middle-earth when Aragorn became king, with Lady Arwen by his side at the end of the Third Age. And finally all Elves led by Lady Galadriel were able to go back to their version of paradise, ie the Undying Lands.

Utopia in ASOIAF

The world of George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF)is much darker and grittier than that of Middle Earth. Yet, it can also be interpreted as being that of a search for a lost paradise in a way. Winterfell for its problems was a utopia of sorts for the Stark children.

Feast at Winterfell:

Danaerys Targarayen thought King’s Landing and Westeros would become her own personal utopia, but at least in the TV show, that didn’t turn out to be the case.

Theon Greyjoy’s personal utopia was going to be his native Islands of Pyke, but that turned out to be just a pipe dream. He was pressured by his father to turn upon the Starks who’d treated him so well that he’d forgotten he was supposed to be a hostage there. In fact, once Theon helped turn the relative peace of Winterfell into a dystopia, he had cause to regret his actions very deeply.

Bran Stark thought he would find his own version of utopia beyond the Wall, but that didn’t work out for him quite as well as he’d imagined it. Although it’s arguable who is really the person on the Iron Throne at the end? Bran Stark or the three-eyed raven controlling him? The three-eyed crow was Ser Brynden Rivers, a Targaryen. So is a Targaryen sitting on the Iron Throne at the end of the GOT TV series? Or are some parts of Bran Stark somewhere inside his own head too?

In the entire series, we’re rooting for the Stark children to go back to Winterfell. At last Sansa Stark becomes the ruler and Lady of Winterfell. At least in the Game of Thrones TV series.

Finale for the Stark children:

Utopia in the Percy Jackson series

In the YA Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, Camp Hallf-Blood is a safe haven for all the half blood demi-gods. It’s located in a hidden place on the north shore of Long Island near NY. Though there’s plenty of competition and squabbling between the demi-gods, they all feel protected from monsters and threats from the outer world. The Golden Fleece keeps the place protected.

Training at Camp Half-blood:

Finding strength at Camp Half-blood:

After every adventure, the heroes come back safe and sound to this haven. In the Heroes of Olympus series, Camp Jupiter is another safe place near San Francisco for the demi-gods. These utopias serve as anchoring places for these young protagonists. It also gives them a purpose to defend these mini-utopias when they come under threat. And they have a place to look forward to returning to when their quest or adventure is over.

Search for equilibrium & survival in Dune

In Dune, after the Atreides family is destroyed when they first land on the desert planet, the whole arc of Paul Atreides (and his descendants) is to restore their house to its rightful place in their inter-planetary society. And at least in the beginning to help the Fremen get their independence too. Make Dune a utopia for its inhabitants. Since the series stretches over thousands of years and across many planets, things don’t always go according to any one character’s plans. However, the overall quest for most protagonists of this series is to restore some kind of balance in society, even if the story stretches across time and space. Things evolve in surprising ways. But at least humanity strives to find better conditions, and is saved from the threat of extinction in the end.

Conclusion

While dystopias may be very much in fashion, a stable and sustainable society can function in the long term in its own version of utopia. Therefore, it can be argued that utopias are more important than dystopias. In fact, if there wasn’t a balanced and sustainable society to begin with, then it couldn’t be distorted to form a dystopia. For example, in Star Wars, the Empire took over planets and societies which had been functioning independently for years. And the mission to overthrow the evil Empire is a bid to restore balance of power, and/or utopias of different kinds on the planets in its iron grip. Just escaping the oppressive regime of the Empire would be the beginning of a more steady and calmer society on most planets. Utopias also enable growth and evolution both at the individual and the macroscopic levels.

In a way dystopias are dependent on utopias (even distant ones) in order to come into existence. A social structure that is out of balance wouldn’t last too long anyway, as it would collapse one way or the other. Most stories are about restoring some kind of stability so that the protagonists can continue to live or exist in a sustainable world.

-The End-

Note: Some of these ideas were mentioned/discussed at the Utopias Panel, entitled ‘Better Worlds are Possible’ held at Chicon 8 in September 2022. ++ Sultana Raza

Pixel Scroll 9/22/22 On Tsundoku Did OGH, A Stately Pixel-Scroll Decree

(1) TO BOLDLY SNIFF. No need to be shy about writing this subgenre:“Imagining The Real World by Rae Mariz” at Stone Soup.

…I write climate fiction and it took me a while to realize how saying that in a declarative sentence made publishing professionals recoil like I’d asked them to smell my skunk. I put it proudly in my pitches and query letters. Climate! Fiction!… Smell! My! Skunk! I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to say the c-word in polite company. I’m still not sure why that is, why it’s not something people are actively “looking for” in fiction. Because for me, stories are ideal places to work out the tangles of complicated issues—especially the “what are we not talking about when we refuse to talk about the climate crisis?” questions….

(2) BAIKONUR BOOGIE. Today I learned there is also a Russian Space Forces (they use the plural). And I’m told this is their anthem. You can dance to it!

(3) WINDOW ON CHICON 8. Keith Stokes’ photos of the Worldcon are now online at “Chicon 8 – the 2022 World Science Fiction Convention”.

Here’s his shot of the Chengdu Worldcon exhibit table.

(4) TOLKIEN IN THE BOOT. The New York Times covers “Hobbits and the Hard Right: How Fantasy Inspires Italy’s Potential New Leader”

Giorgia Meloni, the hard-right leader who is likely to be the next prime minister of Italy, used to dress up as a hobbit.

As a youth activist in the post-Fascist Italian Social Movement, she and her fellowship of militants, with nicknames like Frodo and Hobbit, revered “The Lord of the Rings” and other works by the British writer J.R.R. Tolkien. They visited schools in character. They gathered at the “sounding of the horn of Boromir” for cultural chats. She attended “Hobbit Camp” and sang along with the extremist folk band Compagnia dell’Anello, or Fellowship of the Ring.

All of that might seem some youthful infatuation with a work usually associated with fantasy-fiction and big-budget epics rather than political militancy. But in Italy, “The Lord of the Rings” has for a half-century been a central pillar upon which descendants of post-Fascism reconstructed a hard-right identity, looking to a traditionalist mythic age for symbols, heroes and creation myths free of Fascist taboos.

“I think that Tolkien could say better than us what conservatives believe in,” said Ms. Meloni, 45. More than just her favorite book series, “The Lord of the Rings” was also a sacred text. “I don’t consider ‘The Lord of the Rings’ fantasy,” she said….

(5) HORROR FILM MAGAZINE INTERVIEWS VERTLIEB. The new issue of We Belong Dead Magazine, the prestigious British horror film magazine, includes a twelve-page interview and color layout on the life and times of Steve Vertlieb. It’s issue No. 31, and is available now at Barnes and Noble, and wherever good books and magazines are sold throughout the globe. Get your copy now!

(6) I LIVE IN A CLOCK NOW. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele take on steampunks in this 2020 sketch. “When Your Friend Goes Steampunk”.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1997 [By Cat Eldridge.] Time Travel series aren’t exactly rare, are they? A quarter of a century ago on this evening one such series, Timecop, premiered on ABC. It was based on the much more successful Jean-Claude Van Damme Timecop film. Yes, I liked that film a lot. 

If you blinked you missed this series as it lasted just nine episodes before the cancellation blues played out.

Mark Verheiden who later co-produced the more successful Falling Skies series for TNT created this series. 

It starred Ted King as the Timecop, Officer Jack Logan. You may remember him as Andy Trudeau on Charmed during its first season. There is only one character, Captain Eugene Matuzek, carried over from the film, but the premise is the same. 

And yes, the beautiful female character trope held true here. 

I wouldn’t say its originality quota was high as here’s the story for the pilot: “A time traveler from the twenty-first century kills Jack the Ripper and takes his place.” That Jack becomes the main antagonist.

Nine of the thirteen episodes ordered were televised. No, there’s not four unaired episodes out there as they were never produced.

A trilogy continuing the story was published by Del Rey Books: The ScavengerViper’s Spawn and Blood Ties.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 22, 1917 Samuel A. PeeplesMemory Alpha says that he’s the person that gave Roddenberry the catch phrase he used to sell Star Trek to the network: “[As] fellow writer Harlan Ellison has credited him with the creation of one of the most famous catch phrases in Star Trek lore, “[Gene Roddenberry] got ‘Wagon Train to the stars’ from Sam Peeples. That’s what Gene said to me. They were at dinner and Sam Peeples, of course, was a fount of ideas, and Gene said something or other about wanting to do a space show and Sam said, ‘Yeah? Why don’t you do Wagon Train to the stars?’” (Died 1997.)
  • Born September 22, 1939 Edward A. Byers. Due to his early death, he has but two published novels, both space operas, The Log Forgetting and The Babylon Gate. EOFSF says “Byers was not an innovative writer, but his genuine competence raised expectations over his short active career.” There’s no sign his double handful of stories was collected, though his two novels are in-print. (Died 1989.)
  • Born September 22, 1952 Paul Kincaid, 70. A British science fiction critic. He stepped down as chairman of the Arthur C. Clarke Award in April 2006 after twenty years. He is the co-editor with Andrew M. Butler of The Arthur C. Clarke Award: A Critical Anthology. He’s also written A Very British Genre: A Short History of British Fantasy and Science Fiction and What It Is We Do When We Read Science Fiction. His latest publication is The Unstable Realities of Christopher Priest.
  • Born September 22, 1954 Shari Belafonte, 68. Daughter of Harry Belafonte, I first spotted her on Beyond Reality, a Canadian series that showed up when I was living in upstate Vermont. You most likely saw her as Elizabeth Trent in Babylon 5: Thirdspace as that’s her most well known genre performance. Bet hardly of you saw her as Linda Flores in Time Walker, an Eighties SF horror film, or the Mars SF film in which she played Doc Halliday. 
  • Born September 22, 1957 Jerry Oltion, 65. His Nebula Award winning Abandon in Place novella is the beginning of the Cheap Hyperdrive sequence, a really fun Space Opera undertaking. Abandon in Place was nominated for a Hugo at LoneStarCon 2 (2013). The Astronaut from Wyoming was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000. 
  • Born September 22, 1971 Elizabeth Bear, 51. I’m only going to note the series that I really like but of course you will course add the ones that you like. First is her White Space series, Ancestral Space and Machine, which I’ve read or listened to each least three times.  Next up is the sprawling Promethean Age series which is utterly fascinating, and finally The Jenny Casey trilogy which just came out at the usual suspects.
  • Born September 22, 1982 Billie Piper, 40. Best remembered as the companion of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors, she also played the dual roles Brona Croft and Lily Frankenstein in Penny Dreadful. She played Veronica Beatrice “Sally” Lockhart in the BBC adaptation of Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in The North. 
  • Born September 22, 1985 Tatiana Maslany, 37. Best known for her superb versatility in playing more than a dozen different clones in the Orphan Black which won a Hugo for Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) at the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention for its “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried“ episode. She received a Best Actress Emmy and more than two dozen other nominations and awards. She is Jennifer Walters / She-Hulk in the new Marvel She-Hulk series.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) IT COULD ALWAYS GET WORSE. Stephen King reviews Celeste Ng’s Our Missing Hearts for the New York Times: “Celeste Ng’s Dystopia Is Uncomfortably Close to Reality”.

The definition of “dystopia in the Oxford English Dictionary is bald and to the point: “An imaginary place in which everything is as bad as possible.”

Literature is full of examples. In “The Time Machine,” the Morlocks feed and clothe the Eloi, then eat them. “The Handmaid’s Tale” deals with state-sanctioned rape. The firefighters in “Fahrenheit 451” incinerate books instead of saving them. In “1984”’s infamous Room 101, Winston Smith is finally broken when a cage filled with rats is dumped over his head. In “Our Missing Hearts,” Celeste Ng’s dystopian America is milder, which makes it more believable — and hence, more upsetting.…

(11) MORE HORRIFYING THAN PUMPKIN SPICE. “Demonic Doll ‘Chucky’ Gets Pumpkin Beer for Halloween”. The official collaboration between Elysian Brewing and NBCUniversal has been launched to celebrate the second season of Chucky’s eponymous TV show. (That red color comes from the added cranberry juice.)

…”Chucky is one of Halloween’s most iconic, beloved characters, and we have found the perfect partner in Elysian Brewing to capture his spirit this season,” Ellen Stone, executive vice president for entertainment consumer engagement and brand strategy at the networks’ parent company NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, stated. “This custom pumpkin beer provides a fresh, unique way for fans and beer fanatics alike to quench their thirst with a taste of Chucky ahead of the season two premiere….

(12) IRON CONTRACT. “’Iron Widow’ YA Bestseller to Be Adapted Into Movies” reports Variety.

Iron Widow,” the New York Times bestselling novel by Xiran Jay Zhao, is headed to the big screen.

Erik Feig’s Picturestart has obtained adaptive rights and is plotting a franchise around the science fiction premise, with J.C. Lee (of the forthcoming “Bad Genius” remake) set to write the screenplay.

The book is set in the fictional world of Huaxia, where humanity’s only hope against alien invaders are giant transforming robots called Chrysalises, which require a boy-girl pair to pilot…. 

(13) THE 3-D LAWS OF ROBOTICS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Nature’s cover story is about new robots — move over Asimov… “Builder drones”.

Ground-based robots have potential for helping in the construction industry, but they are limited by their height. In this week’s issue, Mirko Kovac, Robert Stuart-Smith and their colleagues introduce highly manoeuvrable aerial robots that can perform additive 3D construction tasks. Inspired by natural builders such as wasps and bees, the researchers created BuilDrones (as shown on the cover) that can work in an autonomous team to perform 3D printing tasks using foam- or cement-based materials. They also created ScanDrones to assess the quality of the structures being built. The team hopes that this approach of ‘aerial additive manufacturing’ could help to build structures in difficult to access areas.

Aerial-AM allows manufacturing in-flight and offers future possibilities for building in unbounded, at-height or hard-to-access locations.

(14) JWST LOOKS AT NEPTUNE. “New Webb Image Captures Clearest View of Neptune’s Rings in Decades”. Read the NASA release at the link.

…Webb also captured seven of Neptune’s 14 known moons. Dominating this Webb portrait of Neptune is a very bright point of light sporting the signature diffraction spikes seen in many of Webb’s images, but this is not a star. Rather, this is Neptune’s large and unusual moon, Triton….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George takes you inside the Pitch Meeting that led to Pinocchio (2022)!

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, N., Lise Andreasen, Alan Baumler, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steve Vertlieb, 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 Jayn.]