Pixel Scroll 2/24/24 To Yeet Or Not To Yeet?

(1) HE FALL DOWN BUT NOT GO BOOM. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Job #1 — Stick the landing. Oops. “Odysseus: Moon lander tipped over at touchdown, limiting the data it’s sending”.– AP News has the story. (Captain Kirk was not available for comment.)

A private U.S. lunar lander tipped over at touchdown and ended up on its side near the moon’s south pole, hampering communications, company officials said Friday.

Intuitive Machines initially believed its six-footed lander, Odysseus, was upright after Thursday’s touchdown. But CEO Steve Altemus said Friday the craft “caught a foot in the surface,” falling onto its side and, quite possibly, leaning against a rock. He said it was coming in too fast and may have snapped a leg.

“So far, we have quite a bit of operational capability even though we’re tipped over,” he told reporters.

But some antennas were pointed toward the surface, limiting flight controllers’ ability to get data down, Altemus said. The antennas were stationed high on the 14-foot (4.3-meter) lander to facilitate communications at the hilly, cratered and shadowed south polar region….

(2) FAMOUS LA MOVIE THEATER NOW HAS FAMOUS OWNERS. The New York Times learns “Star Directors Buy Los Angeles Cinema With Plan for ‘Coolest AV Club’”.

With the moviegoing experience under threat from streaming services and ever-improving home entertainment options, a group with a passionate interest in its preservation — three dozen filmmakers who create their works for the big screen, to be enjoyed in the company of large audiences — has decided to do something about it.

The group of directors, led by Jason Reitman — whose films include “Juno,” “Up in the Air” and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” — announced Wednesday that it had bought the Village Theater in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, which was put up for sale last summer to the concern of film buffs. The group, which also includes Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg, Lulu Wang and Alfonso Cuarón, among others, plans to restore the 93-year-old movie palace, which features one of the largest screens in Los Angeles.

“I think every director dreams of owning a movie theater,” Reitman said in an interview. “And in this case, I saw an opportunity to not only save one of the greatest movie palaces in the world, but also assembled some of my favorite directors to join in on the coolest AV club of all time.”

The announcement of the directors group buying the Village Theater, which has long been a favorite venue for premieres, follows on the heels of Quentin Tarantino’s recent purchase of the Vista Theater in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Los Feliz….

(3) TO MESSIAH OR NOT TO MESSIAH, THAT IS THE QUESTION. [By Mike Kennedy.] David Fear, writing for Rolling Stone, seems absolutely agog over Dune: Part Two. And eager for Part Three.

His review is chock full of spoilers if you don’t know the plot already (but I suspect most of you do). It’s easily arguable, though, that there are some spoilers for elements of the movie itself. So, read the review at your own risk. “‘Dune: Part Two’ Is Bigger, Bolder — and Yes, Even Better — Than Part One”. Here’s a non-spoilery excerpt:

… For some, these names may ring bells way, way back in your memory banks; mention that they’re characters played by Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, and a who’s-who of equally recognizable actors, and you’ll see the lights go on in their eyes. For others, the heroes and villains, mentors and monsters that populate Frank Herbert’s 1965 cult novel are old friends, their exploits etched into readers’ brains like gospel. One of the great things about Dune, Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 partial adaptation of that original book, was that you could take in its story and swoon over its imagery regardless of where you fell on the scale. It’s a classic hero’s-journey tale of — to paraphrase author/film professor Howard Suber — a kid rescued from his fate and put on the path toward his destiny. And it was the sort of faithful yet bold, properly bonkers realization of the novel for the screen that fans had been dying to see, the perfect melding of artist and material….

(4) CHINESE FAN ANALYZES SOME OF THE CHINESE WORKS ON THE NOMINATION REPORT. An English language blog post by Chinese fan Prograft follows on from the Heather Rose-Jones/Camestros Felapton report, covering the Chinese works that appeared in the prose fiction categories, excluding those in the SF World recommendation list. “More on Other Chinese Hugo Nominations, based on ‘Charting the Cliff’”.

They suggest that perhaps some of the Chinese works that appeared in the “Validation” report for Best Series, but not in the nomination statistics, may not have been eligible according to the Best Series rules. This, of course, would not explain why those works disappeared between the “Validation” spreadsheet and the actual nomination statistics report.

Prograft’s article also links to (Chinese language) Weibo posts from early March 2023, which discuss why there had not been much by way of self-promotion by Chinese authors at that point in time. (The SF World list did not appear until April; another from 8 Light Minutes was published on March 27.)

(5) MEANWHILE, BACK AT 2014. Camestros Felapton says, “Larry is cross that I’m not writing about him”.

… From time to time key Puppy figures would dally with the idea that the way the Hugo vote was administered was rigged against them, particularly when they lost, but the repeated substance of their complaint was that the MEMBERSHIP was rigged against them, i.e. it was cliques of voters and publisher buying memberships for the vast number of employees that they imagined publishers have.

So no, Larry didn’t “warn us” nor has the 2023 Hugo scandal validated the core of his complaints about the Hugo Awards.

(6) CLIFF NOTES. Noreascon II in 1980 was the first Worldcon required by the WSFS Constitution to report the Hugo voting statistics (though not the first to disclose some of them). Kevin Standlee, with the help of The Hugo Award Book Club, discovered File 770 issue 24 published partial 1980 Hugo Award final voting and nominating statistics. He’s uploaded a copy to the Hugo Awards website and added a link to the 1980 Hugo Awards page. This quote about the margin for error caught my eye:

Note on counting procedure. After initial validation of the ballots, the data were keypunched by a commercial firm, (Only in the Gandalf [Award] vote was every ballot proofread against the printout; but nearly all keypunching errors were flagged by the computer, and in any other category the residual errors should be less than about 5 cards.) The votes were then counted by computer, using a counting program written by Dave Anderson.

There were 1788 valid final ballots cast that year. The reason for proofing the Gandalf votes is that it was the only category which ran close enough for a potential five-vote error to change the winner. Ray Bradbury ended up outpolling Anne McCaffrey 747-746.

(7) STAR TREK: DISCOVERY SEASON 5. Paramount+ dropped a trailer for Star Trek: Discovery Season 5.

(8) NOW WE KNOW WHO WROTE THE BOOK OF LOVE. Amal El-Mohtar reviews Kelly Link’s The Book of Love in the New York Times: “Kelly Link Returns with a Dreamlike, Profoundly Beautiful Novel”.

A certain weight of expectation accrues on writers of short fiction who haven’t produced a novel, as if the short story were merely the larval stage of longer work. No matter how celebrated the author and her stories, how garlanded with prizes and grants, the sense persists: She will eventually graduate from the short form to the long. After an adolescence spent munching milkweed in increments of 10,000 words or less, she will come to her senses and build the chrysalis required for a novel to emerge, winged and tender, from within.

Now Kelly Link — an editor and publisher, a recipient of a MacArthur “genius grant” and the author of five story collections, one of which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist — has produced a novel. Seven years in the making, “The Book of Love” — long, but never boring — enacts a transformation of a different kind: It is our world that must expand to accommodate it, we who must evolve our understanding of what a fantasy novel can be.

Reviewing “The Book of Love” feels like trying to describe a dream. It’s profoundly beautiful, provokes intense emotion, offers up what feel like rooted, incontrovertible truths — but as soon as one tries to repeat them, all that’s left are shapes and textures, the faint outlines of shifting terrain….

(9) RETURN TO NEW WORLDS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] SF² Concatenation has an advance post up ahead of next season’s edition. An October 1955 edition of New Worlds provides an excuse to explore that magazine’s history and some of the SF professionals of that era.

You never know what is around the corner. There I was, at my local SF group, quietly enjoying a pint, when a friend brings in a copy of New Worlds magazine, issue no. 40 dating from October 1955 and this opened a window into Britain’s SF scene of that time. Let me share…

Click here for the full New Worlds magazine revisited” article.

(10) CHRISTOPHER NOLAN AND KIM STANLEY ROBINSON CONSIDERED. Imaginary Papers Issue 17 is out. The quarterly email newsletter from the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University covers science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and the imagination.

In this issue, Erin K. Wagner writes about the interplay between art and science in Christopher Nolan’s films, especially Oppenheimer and Interstellar; Joe Tankersley celebrates the “subtle utopia” of Kim Stanley Robinson’s 1990 novel Pacific Edge; and we discuss the Necessary Tomorrows podcast, which pairs original science fiction stories with nonfiction analysis of sociotechnical issues.

Subscriptions are free.

(11) RAMONA FRADON (1926-2024). “Comic Book Creator Ramona Fradon Has Died, Aged 97” reports Bleeding Cool. She only just retired in January!

Comic book creator Ramona Fradon has died at the age of 97. Her agent, Catskill Comics, posted the news earlier today. “It comes with great sadness to announce that Ramona Fradon has passed away just a few moments ago. Ramona was 97 and had a long career in the comic book industry, and was still drawing just a few days ago. She was a remarkable person in so many ways. I will miss all the great conversations and laughs we had. I am blessed that I was able to work with her on a professional level, but also able to call her my friend. If anyone wishes to send a card to the family, Please feel free to send them to Catskill Comics, and I’ll be happy to pass them along. You can send cards to Catskill Comics “Fradon Family”, Po Box 264, Glasco, NY 12432″

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 24, 1957 Edward James Olmos, 67. Where I first experienced the acting of Edward James Olmos was as Detective Gaff in Blade Runner, a role I see he reprised in Blade Runner 2049.

Edward James Olmos

No, I’ve not seen the latter film, nor do I have any intention in doing so as I consider Blade Runner one of the finest SF films ever done and nothing will sully that for me. We gave it a Hugo at ConStellation, so there later films!

It wasn’t his first genre film as that was the Japanese post-apocalyptic science fiction film Virus (1980), but his first important role came in Wolfen (1981), a fascinating horror film about, possibly, the idea that werewolves are real, or maybe not, in which he was Eddie Holt who claims to a shapeshifter. 

He has an almost cameo appearance in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues as a musician at the barbecue.

It was supposed to have a theatrical release but that was not to be, so Ray Bradbury’s The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit was released directly to video. In it Olmas was Vámonos. I’ve not seen it. It sounds, well, intriguing. Who’s seen it? 

Edward James Olmos in The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit

He’s in the debacle that was The Green Hornet in one of the primary roles as Mike Axford, the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel

As you most likely know, he was William Adama on the rebooted Battestar Galactica. At seventy-three episodes, it didn’t even come close to his run on Miami Vice as Lt. Martin Castillo which was one hundred and six episodes. Now there was an interesting character! 

Olmos as Adama in Battlestar Galactica

I’ll end this Birthday note by note noting he had a recurring role on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as Robert Gonzales.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) SHRINKAGES AND DISAPPEARANCES. [Item by Kathy Sullivan.] Paper newspapers have been dropping comic strips. But the latest cuts are those by women creators. The Daily Cartoonist explains why “The Real Gannett Conspiracy = Chauvinism”.

In one of my answers in the comments section of The Great Gannett Comics Conspiracy I sarcastically said, “It’s like saying Gannett dropped Between Friends because they are misogynistic.”

Further analysis suggests that may not be far from right….

(15) MARVEL MUST-HAVES. Announced at ComicsPRO the Comic Industry Conference, Marvel Comics’ MARVEL MUST-HAVES! These FREE issues collect multiple iconic issues that spotlight the Marvel characters and comic book series currently at the forefront of pop culture. These stories have been handpicked to get fans in-tune with current Marvel adventures, and act as perfect jumping on points for new readers too. That’s more than 80 pages of comic book adventures for free, available at comic shops next month. [Based on a press release.]

 SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #1 (2016)

It’s action, adventure and just a smattering of romance in this epic teaming up the Webbed Wonder and the Merc with a Mouth! Talk about a REAL dynamic duo! Brought to you by two Marvel superstars—Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness—it’s a perfect tale for those looking forward to the Deadpool’s return to the big screen. 

Dive into the full story in SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL MODERN ERA EPIC COLLECTION: ISN’T IT BROMANTIC? TPB (9781302951641)

 IMMORTAL THOR #2 (2023)

An Elder God of the Utgard-Realm had marked Thor for destruction – and a city with him. Yet the only power that could prevail carried its own terrible price. This is the story of THE IMMORTAL THOR…and the hour of his greatest trial. Following his masterful work on Immortal Hulk, Al Ewing is breaking mythology yet again in this acclaimed new run of the God of Thunder. Featuring breathtaking artwork by superstar Martin Coccolo.

Dive into the full story in IMMORTAL THOR VOL. 1: ALL WEATHER TURNS TO STORM TPB (9781302954185)

 MS. MARVEL: THE NEW MUTANT #1 (2023)

Resurrected back into this world of hate and fear, Kamala Khan has a secret mission to pull off for the X-Men, all the while struggling to acclimate to this new part of her identity! Co-written by the MCU’s own Kamala, Iman Vellani, and Sabir Pirzada of both Dark Web: Ms. Marvel and her Disney+ series! Don’t miss this exciting evolution for one of Marvel’s brightest young heroes!

Dive into the full story in MS. MARVEL: THE NEW MUTANT VOL. 1 TPB (9781302954901)

(16) THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY? Or just a ripoff. Behind a paywall at The Sunday Times: “BBC accused of plagiarising new series from Spanish drama”. Brief excerpt:

The Ministry of Time bears a striking resemblance in title and plot to El Ministerio del Tiempo

The BBC will be asked for “explanations” from the Spanish state broadcaster after allegations of plagiarism over a new British television series.

The commissioning of the BBC’s The Ministry of Time was announced this week, described as an “epic sci-fi, romance and thriller” that is “utterly unique”.

Based on an as yet unpublished debut novel by Kaliane Bradley, it is about a newly established government department, the Ministry of Time, which gathers “expats” from across history to experiment how viable time travel would actually be.

The striking resemblance, however, in title and plot to the Spanish series El Ministerio del Tiempo — The Ministry of Time — created by Javier and Pablo Olivares and broadcast by RTVE between 2015 and 2020, has prompted allegations of plagiarism.

The allegations have been made by Javier Olivares, who said that the BBC “had not changed a hair” of his creation, and also by scores of social media users….

(17) FLORIDA LEGISLATION WOULD RESTRICT SOME TEEN ACCESS. “Florida Passes Sweeping Bill to Keep Young People Off Social Media” – details in the New York Times.

New Florida rules would require social networks to prevent young people under 16 from signing up for accounts — and terminate accounts belonging to underage users.

…Florida’s Legislature has passed a sweeping social media bill that would make the state the first to effectively bar young people under 16 from holding accounts on platforms like TikTok and Instagram.

The measure — which Gov. Ron DeSantis said he would “be wrestling with” over the weekend and has not yet signed — could potentially upend the lives of millions of young people in Florida.

It would also probably face constitutional challenges. Federal courts have blocked less-restrictive youth social media laws enacted last year by Arkansas and Ohio. Judges in those cases said the new statutes most likely impinged on social media companies’ free speech rights to distribute information as well as young people’s rights to have access to it.

The new rules in Florida, passed on Thursday, would require social networks to both prevent people under 16 from signing up for accounts and terminate accounts that a platform knew or believed belonged to underage users. It would apply to apps and sites with certain features, most likely including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and YouTube.

Last year, Utah, Arkansas, Texas and Ohio enacted laws that would require social media platforms to get permission from a parent before giving an account to a minor under 18 or under 16.

Florida’s effort would go much further, amounting to a comprehensive ban for young people on some of the most popular social media apps. It would also bar the platforms from showing harmful material to minors, including “patently offensive” sexual conduct….

(18) UP ALL KNIGHT. From The Hollywood Reporter: “‘Game of Thrones’ Spinoff ‘The Hedge Knight’ Gets 2025 Release Date”.

… Dunk and Egg keep journeying closer to their HBO debut.

On Friday, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav gave an update on the next Game of Thrones spinoff series: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight (a title that seems destined to be changed to something that doesn’t have “Knight” twice).

“[Creator and executive producer] George R.R. Martin is in preproduction for the new spinoff, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, which will premiere in late 2025 on Max,” Zaslav said.

The show is expected to begin production sometime this year.

Given that House of the Dragon is launching its second season this summer, the Knight of the Seven Kingdoms date next year raises the possibility of HBO settling into a flow of having a Thrones drama each year (assuming both shows can turn around their next seasons within two years)….

(19) ACADEMIC REPORT ON THE LANGUAGE USED BY THE CHENGDU BUSINESS DAILY. [Item by Ersatz Culture.] As is hopefully well-known by now, the Chengdu Business Daily organization – also known as Chengdu Economic Daily, which I believe is their “official” English name – provided a number of staff for the Chengdu concom in senior roles, including a Co-Chair, an Honorary Co-Chair, and members of the Hugo team.

I don’t want to get into why what is nominally a newspaper was so involved in running a science fiction convention here, but earlier today I came across a piece of academic research from 2017 that investigated how their journalistic output was summarized on Chinese social media.  Although the authors of this report appear to be Chinese nationals from a Chengdu university, the study is in English.

A couple of extracts give examples of how CBD news stories were covered on their social media accounts.  (The text from the study is left unaltered, other than reformatting for readability, and the censoring of an English language swear word.)


In all these samples, there were 23 cases of non-standardization, accounting for 7.7% of the total samples, including 10 cases of using ambiguous words, 6 cases of insufficient sentence composition, 3 cases of vulgar words, 2 cases of exaggerated titles, 1 case of non-standardized proverbs, 1 case of ambiguity. Specific reports are listed below. Such as 

  • “Ball-Hurting! #One Man Tied 7 Cars On His Testis# [sic] And Pulled Cars 8 Meters.” (“@Chengdu Economic Daily” April 1st)
  • “It Is Said That The Relevant Agencies Have Organized The Second Mental Identification Towards The Guilty Driver.” (@Chengdu Economic Daily” on March 1st)
  • “Two Small UAVs Were Artificially Installed Artillery That May Be Firecrackers And Attacked Each Other For Fun.” (“@Chengdu Economic Daily “February 1st).

After combing the entire sample, this article also found that the use of spoken language is very common. “@Chengdu Economic Daily” accounted for 22.2% and “@Chengdu Evening Post” accounted for 30.00% (see Table 3). Such as: 

  • “Easy To Learn: Home-Made Pickle-Fish Is Super Cool.”(@Chengdu Economic Daily January 1st)
  • “F*ck Off. Just Get Off. Why You Not Just Get Off.” (@Chengdu Economic Daily January 1st) 
  • “Old Lady Started Stall Besides Street While City Inspectors Helped Her.” (@Chengdu Evening Post January 1st)
  • “A Lady Shouting At A Naughty Child Was Beat By His Parents.”(“@Chengdu Evening Post” March 1st)

The use of network buzzwords and verbal expressions, with the characteristics of freshness and populism, usually adopts irony, ridicule, exaggeration and populist expressions to report and comment on events or peoples, and the contents conveyed are thoughtful, active and critical.


(20) AI’S ELECTRIC BILL. “Generative AI’s environmental costs are soaring — and mostly secret” reports Kate Crawford in Nature.

Last month, OpenAI chief executive Sam Altman finally admitted what researchers have been saying for years — that the artificial intelligence (AI) industry is heading for an energy crisis. It’s an unusual admission. At the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Altman warned that the next wave of generative AI systems will consume vastly more power than expected, and that energy systems will struggle to cope. “There’s no way to get there without a breakthrough,” he said.

I’m glad he said it. I’ve seen consistent downplaying and denial about the AI industry’s environmental costs since I started publishing about them in 2018. Altman’s admission has got researchers, regulators and industry titans talking about the environmental impact of generative AI.

So what energy breakthrough is Altman banking on? Not the design and deployment of more sustainable AI systems — but nuclear fusion. He has skin in that game, too: in 2021, Altman started investing in fusion company Helion Energy in Everett, Washington.

Most experts agree that nuclear fusion won’t contribute significantly to the crucial goal of decarbonizing by mid-century to combat the climate crisis. Helion’s most optimistic estimate is that by 2029 it will produce enough energy to power 40,000 average US households; one assessment suggests that ChatGPT, the chatbot created by OpenAI in San Francisco, California, is already consuming the energy of 33,000 homes. It’s estimated that a search driven by generative AI uses four to five times the energy of a conventional web search. Within years, large AI systems are likely to need as much energy as entire nations….

(21) AN EARLIER ‘GREAT WALL’. “Great ‘Stone Age’ wall discovered in Baltic Sea”. “Megastructure stretching nearly 1 kilometre long is probably one of the oldest known hunting aids on Earth.”

Divers have helped to reveal the remnants of a kilometre-long wall that are submerged in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Rerik, Germany. The rocks (pictured) date back to the Stone Age.

Primary research paper here.

(22) LICENSE PLATE FRAME OF THE DAY.  “Bigfoot doesn’t believe in you either.”

(23) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes arrives in theaters May 10.

Director Wes Ball breathes new life into the global, epic franchise set several generations in the future following Caesar’s reign, in which apes are the dominant species living harmoniously and humans have been reduced to living in the shadows. As a new tyrannical ape leader builds his empire, one young ape undertakes a harrowing journey that will cause him to question all that he has known about the past and to make choices that will define a future for apes and humans alike.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Ersatz Culture, Martin Easterbrook, Kathy Sullivan, Joey Eschrich, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kevin Harkness.]

Pixel Scroll 2/22/24 Home Is The Pixel, Home From The Scroll

(1) WE’RE BACK. “Odysseus becomes first US spacecraft to land on moon in over 50 years”CNN not only has the story, they enlisted Captain Kirk – William Shatner – to help tell it on the air.

The US-made Odysseus lunar lander has made a touchdown on the moon, surpassing its final key milestones — and the odds — to become the first commercial spacecraft to accomplish such a feat, but the condition of the lander remains in question.

Intuitive Machines, however, says the mission has been successful.

“I know this was a nail-biter, but we are on the surface, and we are transmitting,” Intuitive Machines CEO Steve Altemus just announced on the webcast. “Welcome to the moon.”

Odysseus is the first vehicle launched from the United States to land on the moon’s surface since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

Mission controllers from Intuitive Machines, the Houston-based company that developed the robotic explorer, confirmed the lander reached the lunar surface Thursday evening….

…After some intense waiting, Intuitive Machines, the company behind the Odysseus lunar landing mission, has confirmed the spacecraft is “upright and starting to send data.”

That’s a major milestone…

William Shatner on CNN.

(2) 2023 BUSINESS MEETING MINUTES POSTED. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] The 2023 WSFS Business Meeting minutes are now available at the WSFS rules page.

All documents are updated except the Resolutions of Rulings of Continuing Effect, which are still being reviewed by the Nitpicking & Flyspecking Committee. 

(3) HELP PAY TRIBUTE TO STEVE MILLER. Sharon Lee is asking people to send Locus their recollections about her husband, Steve Miller, who died on February 20. This link should work: [email protected].

(4) THE YEAR’S BEST AFRICAN SPECULATIVE FICTION VOLUME THREE: CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS. The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction Volume Three anthology is now open to submissions through March 31, 2024. See full guidelines at the link.

This next volume of the series covers works originally published in 2023. It will be published with a release date of late 2024 under the Caezik SF & Fantasy imprint (Arc Manor).

​Editors for this volume are Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki and Chinaza Eziaghighala.

(5) LINK Q&A. “Interview: Kelly Link on Writing Her First Novel” at New York Magazine.

How did you intellectually and practically and physically and spiritually transition from writing short stories to writing a rather long novel?

Even if one is a short-story writer at heart, this is a world of novels. This is a world where readers love novels, which I get. I love them too. But if you’re a short-story writer, any time that you are talking with somebody, they will say, “Well, have you ever thought about writing a novel?”

My husband and I ran a small press for a couple of decades. I had the enormous privilege of working with a bunch of writers on novels. I also, in my writing life, have a group of friends that I meet with, sometimes on a daily basis, and they are all novelists. We spend a lot of our time talking about the possibilities that novels present to a writer. And I love their books. I get to read them when they’re working on them. And eventually, if you’re me, at least, you start to think, Well, what could I do at this length? My very good friend, one of the writers that I work with, Holly Black, said to me about nine years ago, “If you don’t intentionally write a novel, you will write one by accident. And so you might as well plan out how to do it intentionally.”

(6) MYMAN ON THE 2023 HUGOS. Francesca Myman, who attended the Chengdu Worldcon, has written several illuminating posts about the current Hugo Award crisis.

Here’s the first post from February 16:

…The thing that gets me is, if they truly believed they were taking care of people’s safety, and they couldn’t possibly think about it creatively and find other solutions because {reasons}, they were remarkably blasé about a lack of reasonable guidance.

And it does seem that the internal justification was safety. On June 7 Kat Jones says “I’m pointing out examples of both that I find for these fan writers out of an abundance of caution, because I’m assuming we’re talking about the safety of our Chinese con-running friends when we’re making these evaluations. Maybe any fan writer concerns can be mitigated by asking them to curate their voter packet materials with our Chinese friends’ safety in mind?” Of course, “I’m assuming” isn’t the same thing as “I’m asking” and no answers are given.

Then in the February 3 interview, when Chris Barkley asked if people were likely to be endangered on some sort of social or physical level, Dave’s response was some aggrandizing bluster about “the friends I would make and how much I love them and how much I would set myself on fire for them if I needed to,” which inappropriately puts the blame for everything underhanded and weaselly and inexcusable that he did into the laps of the very people he’s claiming to protect.

I’m not here to say Chinese censorship doesn’t exist, we ourselves had to comply with regulations and couldn’t sell magazines and books at Worldcon and it did cause me a considerable amount of stress (and to be fair it was incredibly difficult to obtain any information about exactly what we needed to do to be in compliance, things like whether or not we were allowed to sell digital subscriptions and the actual problem was physical materials sold on site, or whether no sales at all were permitted), but the active participation of Westerners in hand-selecting targets for censorship is stomach-churning….

The second post appeared on February 17:

Soooo while I do think you should read my last long-but-important post about the Hugos, literally the MOST important news about what happened to the Hugos is this: Vajra Chandrasekera on Bluesky linked to a Chinese language post by “zionius” explaining that the supposed “slate” of Chinese voters that was removed from the voting was actually the result of a recommended list from Chinese publication Science Fiction World, their most respected and popular magazine. To be clear, a close analogy is if people removed a batch of Hugo votes from the voting process because they were listed in the Locus Recommended Reading List and voters had too-similar patterns because of that. A recommended reading list is NOT a slate.

Apparently there were one to nine recommendations per SF World category including both Chinese and non-Chinese creators. I suppose the “one recommendation” category, whatever that was, could be tough — but nine recommendations? That’s quite normal for a recommended reading list. The readership of SF World is vast, way higher than Locus, let me tell you that (Chandrasekera claims it’s bigger than that of every western SF magazine put together which seems plausible to me), so they have a ton of influence, but that doesn’t make it illegal….

The third post came out on February 19:

…If McCarty DID receive an earlier heads-up — I’m envisioning something like “you must remove these things because their inclusion will harm us” — we have no way to be sure. And it’s possible I’m wrong here. We lack a WHOLE lot of papertrail, and it’s probably not the worst thing we don’t have it, in terms of all the aforementioned safety concerns.

About which I would like to add: I imagined that if I had been in the committee’s position I would have been most worried about someone saying something about “Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet, negatives of China” onstage. But I don’t really have a basis to determine the impact of speeches, so. . .

. . .I asked an expat friend yesterday what the consequences would be if someone, for example, used the Worldcon stage to opine on the political situation in Taiwan, and got an “eek” face emoji.

Eek face emoji situation, I guess. Here’s what he said, which I found particularly illuminating:

“The entire community would face repercussions. Outright censoring, problems for the organizers, attracting Beijing’s ire. The government liaison who helped bring this thing to Chengdu would have severe career blowback and would either lose position or have to pivot and punish to save themselves. It would be a very selfish thing to do and would hurt the Chinese sci fi community significantly. Think of what happened when Bjork called out ‘Free Tibet!’ She said that one phrase on a stage in Beijing and for a decade + afterwards there was a massive crackdown on all artist performances and a massive impoverishment of live music in general. All the festivals struggled. Probably the most damaging thing done to China’s live music scene in the modern era. And Bjork did it because she didn’t know or care about consequences, she just wanted to say her piece. Because the West teaches Westerners that we are morally superior to everyone else and have a right or obligation to ‘speak truth to power’ especially in non white non European places.”

So based on this and other research I absolutely believe safety concerns were real. Which is why I keep coming back around to the point that the best way of handling that was just letting the rules play out and letting Chinese voters take the lead as they were meant to.

(7) ANOTHER ONE ON THE SHELF. “Stephen King Is Baffled by Decision To Keep New Salem’s Lot Movie on the Shelf” reports Comingsoon.net.

Salem’s Lot Still in Limbo

Back in November of 2023, King championed the adaptation of his celebrated vampire novel, saying it had a feeling of ”Old Hollywood” to it. The movie was originally due to be released in 2022, and then in the Spring of 2023, where it lost its spot on the calendar to Warner horror stablemate Evil Dead Rise.

Then came the SAG-AFTRA strike, which reportedly caused Warner Bros. to reconsider a theatrical release altogether, subsequently being eyed for a streaming debut on Max. However, a Warner spokesperson told Variety that ”No decision has been made about the film’s future distribution plans.”

Yet nothing else has been said about the film’s status since.

King isn’t feeling all that patient with Warner Bros. and has once again reiterated his praise for the film while failing to hide his bafflement at its continued release limbo.

”Between you and me, Twitter, I’ve seen the new SALEM’S LOT, and it’s quite good. Old-school horror filmmaking: slow build, big payoff. Not sure why WB is holding it back; not like it’s embarrassing, or anything. Who knows. I just write the fucking things.”…

(8) PRODUCTION ALMOST SHUTTERED, NOW OSCAR CONTENDER. The Hollywood Reporter found out “Why Megan Ellison Saved the Animated Film ‘Nimona’”.

In January of 2021, Megan Ellison got a call from Erik Lomis, the former head of distribution at her company, Annapurna Pictures, asking if she’d like to take a look at a movie whose filmmakers needed a lifeline. Disney was days away from announcing that it planned to shutter Blue Sky Studios, the 500-person, Greenwich, Connecticut-based animation studio it had inherited in the 2019 Fox acquisition, and with that closure, the Burbank media giant would be dropping Blue Sky’s most promising movie, Nimona.

“I wasn’t really engaging in new film projects at the time, but being curious, I said yes,” Ellison said, in an email.

Ellison watched the hand-drawn storyboard reels, which directors Nick Bruno and Troy Quane had adapted from ND Stevenson’s 2015 graphic novel, and instantly connected with the title character, a shape-shifter voiced by Chloë Grace Moretz who appears most often as a young woman, but can change into animals or other people. “I had never seen a character like Nimona in a film, let alone an animated family movie,” Ellison said. “I needed this movie when I was a kid, and quite frankly, I needed it right then and there. It was the perfect story to come into my life at that moment.”

Nimona — which has LGBTQ themes that Disney executives wanted to downplay — seemed destined to become a tax write-off before Ellison scooped it up. Now the movie, which Netflix released last June, is nominated for an Oscar for animated feature…. 

(9) ANALOG SCORES GERROLD INTERVIEW. There’s a “Q&A With David Gerrold” at The Astounding Analog Companion.

Analog Editor: What is your history with Analog?
David Gerrold: I have a long personal history with Analog. My first year of high school was at Van Nuys High. The library was a good place to hang out at lunch time and they had a subscription to Astounding. I started working my way through every issue they had. Astounding represented (to me) the high point of science fiction magazines. It introduced me to so many great stories and writers, that it became a goal. It was decades before I sold a story to the magazine, but that was one of the high points of my career.
This story was a sequel to an earlier piece where Ganny knit a spaceship out of cables and plastic sheeting. I suspect that construction of habitats in space would probably use a lot more fabricated materials than metal. So that was the spark. But once I’d written about how to build the ship, I began to wonder about the interplanetary politics, the economics, and how it all might work where everything is light minutes away from everything else. I think that’s part of the effect that reading Astounding/Analog had on me—I want to know how things work, especially in science fiction.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 22, 1959 Kyle Maclachlan, 65. I of course came to know Kyle Maclachlan first for playing Paul Atreides in David Lynch’s Dune. Like Timothée Chalamet, who was twenty-six when he played Paul Atreides, Maclachlan also was too old at twenty-five for the teen aged character. Just noting that.

(Remember that I’m not going to not noting everything that he’s done, just what I find interesting,)

Kyle Maclachlan at Cannes in 2017.

It was his first film role which I didn’t know until now, so he was old for an actor getting his film career going.

Next up was Blue Velvet in which he was Jeffrey Beaumont. Definitely genre, as it is a thriller mystery blended with psychological horror. Also directed by David Lynch. Weird film, and even weirder role for film. 

He did an excellent job as Lloyd Gallagher in The Hidden, a great SF film. He was not in The Hidden II which was not a great film. 

Yes, the Twin Peaks franchise is genre given some of the things that happened here. His Dale Cooper character is played to perfection over to the thirty episodes of the original series and the eighteen episodes of Twin Peaks known as Twin Peaks: The Return and Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series. He was also in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.

Did you know that he voiced Superman? Well he did. In one of the better animated films, Justice League: The New Frontier, he was as Kal-El / Clark Kent / Superman. He voiced him very well. 

He showed up as Edward Wilde, a librarian in The Librarian: Quest for the Spear, one of the films in The Librarian franchise. Just on the off chance that you’ve not seen it, I’ll say no more as it, but it like all The Librarian franchise, is great popcorn viewing. 

He was Cliff Vandercave in The Flintstones, the only Flintstones film worth watching. 

Lastly he was in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the dual role of Calvin Johnson / The Doctor. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) MASTODON UNDER ATTACK. TechCrunch says “Discord took no action against server that coordinated costly Mastodon spam attacks”.

Over the weekend, hackers targeted federated social networks like Mastodon to carry out ongoing spam attacks that were organized on Discord, and conducted using Discord applications. But Discord has yet to remove the server where the attacks are facilitated, and Mastodon community leaders have been unable to reach anyone at the company.

“The attacks were coordinated through Discord, and the software was distributed through Discord,” said Emelia Smith, a software engineer who regularly works on trust and safety issues in the fediverse, a network of decentralized social platforms built on the ActivityPub protocol. “They were using bots that integrated directly with Discord, such that a user didn’t even need to set up any servers or anything like that, because they could just run this bot directly from Discord in order to carry out the attack.”

Smith attempted to contact Discord through official channels on February 17, but still has only received form responses. She told TechCrunch that while Discord has mechanisms for reporting individual users or messages, it lacks a clear way to report whole servers.

“We’ve seen this costing server admins of Mastodon, Misskey, and others hundreds or thousands of dollars in infrastructure costs, and overall denial of service,” Smith wrote to Discord Trust & Safety in an email viewed by TechCrunch. “The only common link seems to be this discord server.”…

(13) A TUNE, NOT TUNA. “Whale song mystery solved by scientists” reports BBC.

… Baleen whales are a group of 14 species, including the blue, humpback, right, minke and gray whale. Instead of teeth, the animals have plates of what is called baleen, through which they sieve huge mouthfuls of tiny creatures from the water.

Exactly how they produce complex, often haunting songs has been a mystery until now. Prof Elemans said it was “super-exciting” to have figured it out.

He and his colleagues carried out experiments using larynxes, or “voice boxes”, that had been carefully removed from three carcasses of stranded whales – a minke, a humpback and a sei whale. They then blew air through the massive structures to produce the sound.

In humans, our voices come from vibrations when air passes over structures called vocal folds in our throat. Baleen whales, instead, have a large U-shaped structure with a cushion of fat at the top of the larynx.

This vocal anatomy allows the animals to sing by recycling air, and it prevents water from being inhaled….

(14) DEAR SCHADENFREUDE. Between bites of popcorn Shepherd exacted a little payback.  

(15) [DELETED]. I apologize for drawing a comparison between Shepherd and Vox Day in the item that formerly appeared in this space. I was wrong to give into the impulse, which vented at Shepherd my emotional reaction to all the Hugo stuff I’ve had to write news about for the last month, something he has nothing to do with. (And if you want to ask why, then, is item #14 still here — Shepherd intended the needle, and I felt it. Ouch.)

(16) MIDNIGHT PALS. But do you know who’s really spinning in his grave? Read this and Bitter Karella will tell you.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Laura, Joyce Scrivner, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, Kevin Standlee, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH.]

Pixel Scroll 2/19/24 Pease Porridge In The Pot Nine Days Scrolled

(1) LEAVING THE HAMC. Cheryl Morgan’s 7-point “Public Statement re the Hugos” at Cheryl’s Mewsings explains why she recently resigned from WSFS’ Hugo Awards Marketing Committee. It says in part:

3. As a member of the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee it was my duty to ensure that the results of the Hugo Award voting process were posted to the official website promptly and accurately, as they were supplied to us by each year’s Worldcon, including those from Chengdu. We had no authority to comment on or change those results in any way.

4. I am not, nor ever have been, a member of the WSFS Mark Protection Committee (MPC).

5. I am not, nor ever have been, a Director of Worldcon Intellectual Property (WIP), and have no financial stake in that organisation. WIP was created from the corporation that ran the SF&F Translation Awards (of which I was a Director), but no directorships carried over from the one organisation to the other, save for Kevin Standlee who is a Director of WIP because of his membership of the MPC.

6. I resigned from the Hugo Award Marketing Committee, primarily because I no longer wish to be held responsible for (including being subject to legal and reputational risk for) the actions of organisations of which I am not a member and over which I have no influence….

(2) DAVE MCCARTY SEXUAL HARASSMENT ALLEGATIONS. McCarty’s name is in the news because of the Hugos, but two people today shared other grievances at Bluesky.

Meg Frank said on Bluesky: “Dave McCarty is emotionally abusive, generally manipulative, and has sexually harassed myself and numerous others. I’ve spoken openly about this and made CoC complaints when possible. He is not a missing stair, he is a creepy handyman who has been using his previous community service as a shield.”

Jesi Lipp added, “I’ve never made it a secret that he groped me at a Smofcon in 2011 and it has always been largely treated as a non-issue.”

(3) AI COVER TRACED TO SOURCE. Cassandra L. Thompson draws attention back to the Gothikana AI book cover story on Threads

Thompson’s comment appears to be in response to a TikTok video by emmaskies.

@emmaskies

Replying to @be_kindful That didn’t take long. This is beyond lazy. I still can’t believe anyone approved the use of these really poorly AI-generated assets. Here’s a thought, if you can’t find good stock images to fit the creative vision HIRE AN ARTIST TO MAKE THEM. ???? #torbooks #brambleromance #gothikana #runyx #aiart #noaiart #bookcover #bookcovers #booktok #darkromance #emmaskiesreads

? original sound – emmaskies

(4) DRAWN THAT WAY. Novelist Kelly Link tells the Guardian “‘I was drawn to the monsters and half-naked women on fantasy covers’”. Here’s an excerpt from the interview.

The book that changed me as a teenager
I was a weekend lurker in the fantasy and science fiction section of my local bookstore, eager to spend my weekly allowance, but overwhelmed by the selection. I was drawn to the monsters and half-naked women on the paperback covers of Arthur Saha’s Year’s Best Fantasy anthologies, but too embarrassed for a long time to bring one up to the counter and pay for it. When, eventually, I got up the nerve, I found the stories uniformly enthralling, and the bookseller didn’t bat an eye. After that, I grew much more bold about what I wanted to read, regardless of how lurid the cover might be.

Kelly Link in 2016

(5) NEW TOU ARE DOA. Writer Beware’s Victoria Strauss reports “Outrage Over New Terms of Use at Findaway Voices Forces Change”. Pushback against Findaway/Spotify’s new Terms of Use succeeded in bringing about a substantial revision.

…Unsurprisingly, the new license terms generated a storm of criticism. Judging by what I saw on social media, and by what authors who alerted me to the new TOU told me, many rights holders took steps to cancel their contracts. Findaway/Spotify appears to have been caught completely flat-footed by the backlash.

… There’s still some vagueness (“otherwise use”) and I note the inclusion of “training” (AI training? It’s not clear, although I think the language following suggests not).

But it is a substantial change, and it does address the criticism of the original version. The license is no longer irrevocable or royalty-free. “Translate” and “modify” have been removed, as has the derivative works language. There’s no longer a moral rights waiver. And, pretty clearly in response to authors’ and narrators’ concerns, the final sentence rules out using audiobook files to create new works based on the original, or to create new machine voices, unless the rights holder gives permission (although, if I were a narrator, I might wonder whether “new” in that context creates a loophole for duplicating an existing voice).

There are two ways to look at what happened here. One is that Spotify tried an egregious rights grab, got called out for it, and did what greedy corporations sometimes do when challenged: walked it back, though not quite completely. The other is that Spotify did not anticipate the backlash, and whether because it recognized the validity of the criticism or simply saw that its self-interest was at stake, reconsidered and implemented the change.

Regardless, I do think that Findaway/Spotify deserves some credit….

(6) KERFUFFLE OVERDOSE. Maya St. Clair delivers “The last News from the Orb”.

This week, I took down that psychoanalytic take I did about Cait Corrain. Reception of the piece was positive, but I’d started to feel rankled and uncomfortable when I saw it on my page, like I needed a shower….

St. Clair’s explanation deserves a click-through to read. And I truly empathize with the next paragraph.

…As the Internet plunges its talons further into everybody’s brains, this kind of doom spiral is going to get harder to resist. The SFF, publishing, and book-reading communities have largely chosen their futures, and it’s more of this codependency: more controversies, more incidents called Something-Gate, more of that awful, druglike disgust that keeps one fixated. As writers, we could follow along: delve into endless Internet research, throw around receipts, assemble our alembics and phials and glass curlicues and try to distil the final Take on this week’s Cait Corrain. Or maybe we could think about literally anything else….

(7) THOSE WERE THE DAYS, MY FRIEND. Peter Wood discusses “The Pros and Cons of Nostalgia” at Asimov’s SF blog From Earth to the Stars.

Margaret Atwood  and I both grew up in large Canadian cities and our fathers ran summer camps in rural Ontario. Atwood’s father, a forest entomologist, took his family from Toronto into the wilds of Ontario to live with graduate students. As a teenager, Atwood worked as a camp counselor for three years.

I tell you this, because our family lived at the northern Ontario summer camp my Dad ran for the Ottawa Boys Club every summer until we moved to Florida. I worked for three years as a camp counselor in college. No need to cue the Twilight Zone music, but the settings of two of Atwood’s short story collections—Moral Disorder and Cats Eye—spoke to me because of her descriptions of rustic Ontario in the summer and cold dark winters in Toronto.

Like Atwood, I often use my own memories to embellish my writing. “Une Time Machine, S’il Vous Plait” has scenes in a summer camp in northern Ontario and sections in  the dead of winter in Toronto and Ottawa in the 1970s. Those scenes were some of the easiest in the short story to put to paper, because they are still vivid to me. Their impressions are much stronger than memories of much more recent events….

(8) DAVE MCKEAN Q&A. The Comics Journal’s Jake Zawlacki has a long, probing interview with Dave McKean. One question is about Midjourney. “’I Will Always Choose Reality’: Dave McKean, Retrospective”.

…It seems that AI may be soon having its day. Early in the book you tease a reason for Thalamus finally coming about and mention an “emergency final page.” When we get to the end, you offer a very honest experience with using Midjourney, and how you felt you needed to accommodate AI in your work, or quit. To start, how do you feel about someone typing in “Dave McKean style comic book cover” into Midjourney and using the result?

I had completed the book by June of last year, and had written that last page as a much more positive paragraph with walking anecdotes and bird pictures and a sense that I’d never felt more professionally fulfilled and personally happy as I did at the time, partly because I really enjoyed putting the book together and revisiting so much stuff that I determinedly had not looked back at for decades. But then the Midjourney thing happened and suddenly the book took on a whole other meaning for me, it was literally the end of my era, from now on my life is pre and post AI.

To start? I consider that action to be theft, the final image will be trained on my work without my knowledge, agreement, or any reimbursement. It’s fraudulent, because the user will consider it their work when my name is in the prompt, surely no simpler paper trail has ever existed for a fraud court case? So then it also makes a difference to me whether this is just one person at home having some fun with a new tech toy and not taking it any further, or someone selling that image, and there’s a greyscale of uses in between. The legal side is a minefield, and we really haven’t caught up with the implications. And finally, and most importantly in this case, the people I’ve talked to who are enthusiastic about AI actually believe this is a creative act. Typing a few words into a bot, and they will tell you how much they thought about the exact words to use, and tweaked the prompt 20-odd times, but this is essentially typing a few words into a bot and waiting a minute. This is such a denuded idea of what creativity is, they are only fooling themselves. There will always be artists who will use it as a tool and be very clear and thorough about staying on the right side of perceived moral lines, but I think they are hypnotized by the shiny new thing. They will be the Trojan horse that wrecks the notion of art, something which has carefully evolved over tens of thousands of years and helped shape the best of us, trashed by glorified predictive text. And you have no idea how sad it is for me to hear artists justify this work with the sort of evasive, relativist art-bollocks that has corrupted the contemporary gallery market….

(9) BISHOP REMEMBERED. Asimov’s editor Sheila Williams tells about her friendship with the late Michael Bishop and his family in “Cri de Coeur”.

…The 1992 World Fantasy Convention was held in Mike’s hometown—Pine Mountain, Georgia—and that’s where I got the chance to really get to know him. After spending time with Mike and his wife Jeri, they invited me, and a couple of other people, over to their beautiful home. They gave us a tour of their house, which I believe had been owned by Jeri’s family for a few generations. They also regaled us with stories about their son Jamie and daughter Stephanie, who were both away at college.

My oldest daughter was born in 1993, and I tentatively included a photo of her in a few of our authors’ holiday cards. Mike’s response to the photo and his sincere interest in my family encouraged me to continue to include these photos in cards and to expand on the number of people who received them. [I know some authors were perplexed, but I was delighted that eventually many started sending photos of their kids and/or pets back to me.] As I told Mike years later, I also tried to emulate the loving home life for my kids that he and Jeri had provided for their own children.

Mike’s ninth story in Asimov’s, “Cri de Coeur,” was our September 1994 cover story. This moving novella about the journey on a generation starship was also a finalist for both the Hugo and the Theodore Sturgeon Award. There was a twelve-year gap between Mike’s tenth Asimov’s story in 1996 and his eleventh in 2008. During that time, Mike and I mostly stayed in touch via holiday cards.

On April 16, 2007, Mike and Jeri experienced one of the most terrible tragedies that can befall a family. Their thirty-five-year-old son Jamie, now an instructor of German at Virginia Tech, was murdered in the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. Mike’s next tale for us, “Vinegar Peace, or, The Wrong-Way Used-Adult Orphanage” (July 2008), was the painful story of a society that sends adults to orphanages after their last child dies. It, too, was nominated for a Nebula….

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 19, 1937 Terry Carr. (Died 1987.) I’ll admit right now that I do not know Terry Car from any of his novels which are Warlord of KorInvasion from 2500 co-written with Ted White, and Cirque. I’ll certainly invite opinions on how they are. What I do know about him is from his most excellent and rather extensive work in the area of editing anthologies.

But first I must discuss his work as a fanzine editor, winning his first Hugo for the zine FANAC, co-edited with Ron Ellik, which they started in 1958. There were seventy-one issues (the last six were co-edited with his first wife, Miriam Carr). Read the first issue at Fanac.org. Terry would win a second Hugo for Best Fan Writer in 1973 at Torcon II. He would also be the 1986 Worldcon’s Fan Guest of Honor.

Terry and second wife Carol Carr, center, Jock Root and German literary agent Thomas Schlueck left, with Gary Deindorfer at far right, on the subway coming back to Manhattan from a gathering at Ted White’s house for TAFF delegate Schlueck in 1966. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

His work on anthologies began in the Sixties on the first seven volumes of World’s Best Science Fiction with Donald A. Wollheim. I’m reasonably sure that I’ve read at least some of them as the contents are quite familiar. 

Also while working for Donald A. Wollheim at Ace Books, he was responsible for the acclaimed Ace Special series, bringing out R.A. Lafferty’s Past Master (1968), Ursula K Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) and Alexei Panshin’s Rite of Passage (1968).

Now I know that I’ve read much of his next two anthology series as they were quite excellent. They came out almost out at the same time as the Seventies got under way, with Universe having an impressive run of seventeen volumes, and The Best Science Fiction of the Year with just a volume less. 

He also had an anthology series devoted to original fantasy only, New Worlds of Fantasy which published three volumes stating in the Sixties. He did five volumes in the Fantasy Annual reprint series starting in the late Seventies. 

His work would earn two Best Professional Editor Hugos (1985, 1987). 

Lastly, he published in his regrettably brief lifetime a reasonably large amount of shorter fiction, over forty pieces. The Seventies collection The Light at the End of the Universe is the only sole look at his short fiction to date. Subterranean Press, where art thou?

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Thatababy apparently learns from Looney Tunes.

(12) WEB BREAKS. The Hollywood Reporter says it’s dead, Jim: “Inside Sony’s ‘Madame Web’ Collapse: Forget About a New Franchise”.

The trailer buzz was worrisome, advance ticket sales anemic. Then last week, the critic reviews for Madame Web were posted, and they stung deepest of all — Sony’s Spider-Man spinoff received the lowest average Rotten Tomatoes score (13 percent) of any major superhero film in nearly a decade.

“On Wednesday night, you could actually watch advance purchase sales declining in real time as buyers were refunding their tickets,” marvels a major theatrical chain insider. “It really says something when you’d rather have Shazam! 2 numbers.”

It marked one of the lowest starts in Hollywood history for a film based on a Marvel character. Domestic box office for the first six days in North America was just $26.2 million after opening midweek on Valentine’s Day. International tallied $25.7 million from 61 markets. Even the fan-friendly CinemaScore grade was poor (C+ — extremely low for a superhero title).

Like DC and the once-unstoppable Marvel, Sony is now finding itself in under the gun to reevaluate how it makes comic book movies….

(13) LEFT BEHIND. “Harrison Ford left behind a Star Wars script. It just sold for $13,600” reports Yahoo!

A draft script from the original Star Wars movie trilogy, left in a London home rented by the actor Harrison Ford in the 1970s, has sold for more than $10,000 at auction.

The fourth draft of the screenplay that became the epic 1977 film “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” was unbound and incomplete. But it included iconic scenes, including the one that introduces Chewbacca – the towering, hairy Wookiee who co-pilots the Millennium Falcon alongside Ford’s character, Han Solo – in a dimly lit tavern.

The script, dated March 15, 1976, and titled “The Adventures of Luke Starkiller,” sold to an Austrian collector for about $13,600 during a live-streamed auction on Saturday. The seller owned the home that Ford had rented while working on the film….

(14) SPIDER MAN. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] People have certain expectations of an Adam Sandler movie. They should throw them out the window before seeing this Netflix pic.

In Spaceman, Sandler plays a “dour, isolated, arrogant” astronaut whose marriage is falling apart “due to his own failings as a husband.” Then, as depression sets in months into his solo mission, he unexpectedly finds a companion—an “ancient mind-reading spider-like creature from the beginning of time.” “‘Spaceman’ Director Johan Renck on His First Project After ‘Chernobyl’ and Giving Adam Sandler His Most Un-Adam Sandler Role to Date” in Variety.  

How did you get [Adam Sandler] on board? 

It was almost random, to be honest. I had a general meeting with him in L.A. a couple of years ago, because I’m a massive fan of his, and by the end of that chat, he was like, “Hey, what about this space film I hear you guys are developing, I’d love to read it.” We weren’t that far along but that’s how it unfolded. I remember going back up to my room and thinking: that’s pretty fucking brilliant. It was like an epiphany. But when it he said he wanted to do it, I was like, “the issue is that you’re a big name in the comedy circuit, but I’m just a little concerned about being able to pull up the financing for this with you in a dramatic role.” It’s a weird thing to say to one of the highest-grossing actors! But he’s not going to bank a dramatic science fiction film like George Clooney would. He asked how much we needed, and I said, “Well, it’s in zero gravity, one of the characters is CGI, so it’s gonna cost a bunch of money.” And he says: “I’ll get your money, I have a deal with Netflix.” And three weeks later we were shaking hands….

One similarity between “Spaceman” and “Chernobyl” was that you didn’t try to give your actors Eastern European accents. Adam Sandler sounds like Adam Sandler, Carey Mulligan sounds like Carey Mulligan.

I hate accents. They’re the most ridiculous thing ever. To me, if we want to suggest they’re speaking Czech, why is the best way to achieve that having them speak English with a really fake accents? Have you ever heard an accent in a movie work? 

(15) SLAUGHTERLESS HOUSE FIVE. “Lab-Made Meat? Florida Lawmakers Don’t Like the Sound of It.” The New York Times tells how the meat is grown.

…Start-up companies around the world are competing to develop technologies for producing chicken, beef, salmon and other options without the need to raise and slaughter animals. China has made the development of the industry a priority. In the United States, the Department of Agriculture has given initial blessings to two producers.

Now, a measure in Florida that would ban sales of laboratory-grown meat has gained widespread attention beyond state borders. The bill, which is advancing through the Florida Legislature, would make the sale or manufacture of lab-grown meat a misdemeanor with a fine of $1,000. It’s one of a half-dozen similar measures in ArizonaTennesseeWest Virginia and elsewhere.

Opponents of lab-grown meat include beef and poultry associations worried that laboratory-made hamburgers or chicken nuggets could cut into their business.

Supporters include environmentalists who say it would reduce animal cruelty and potentially help slow climate change. Meat and dairy together account for about 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations.

Other backers of the industry include advocates for space exploration, a subject particularly relevant to Florida, which is home to the Kennedy Space Center and the site of countless launches to the moon and beyond. Elon Musk, whose company SpaceX has its own outer space ambitions, has partnered with Israel-based Aleph Farms to research lab-grown meat on a Space X flight to the International Space Station that launched from Florida.

How’s this actually made?

Lab-grown meat, also called cultivated meat, is grown from cells that have been taken from an animal. The animals aren’t slaughtered. 

Then water, salt and nutrients like amino acids, minerals and vitamins are added to the cells, which multiply and eventually become minced meat….

(16) CAKE AND CANDLES. James Bacon volunteered to let me run the poem he composed to wish me “Happy birthday”.

Happy birthday to you Mike, 
We wish you cheer & delight, 
On your auspicious nice day 
Hoping your brother’s is a nice night. 

You report on the appalling news 
That’s giving us all the horrid blues 
Doubtful of when it might actually end 
With an apology, perhaps only if wills bend. 

We need to see your cheerful smile 
Defeating those who tried to defile 
Shining a light on where it went bad 
Finding reason to cease being sad 

A happy day is yours to enjoy 
What positives can we also deploy 
Looking forward upward bright 
Some cake and cheer on birthday night 

Ray Bradbury’s 89th Birthday Cake. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

[Thanks to Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Jean-Paul Garnier, James Bacon, Daniel Dern, Jason Sanford, Anne Marble, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH.]

Pixel Scroll 6/15/23 Where Do Pixels Come From? They Are Born Of Scrolls. Where Do Scrolls Originate? Go Ask Mike

(1) BLACK MIRROR CREATOR. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] BBC Radio 4’s The Media Show yesterday was devoted to Charlie Brooker. You can download the episode here.

Brooker in SF terms is best known for being the writer behind the Black Mirror whose first two seasons were on Britain’s publicly-owned but self-financed Channel 4 before it migrated behind Netflix’s pay wall. (Netflix could afford the show a bigger budget.)

Charlie Brooker is one of the most influential satirists working today. Having started out as a cartoonist, his razor sharp writing on culture and the media made his TV columns for The Guardian, begun in 2000, essential reading for many. It wasn’t long until his acerbic and frequently absurd world view found a home on BBC Four in the form of the TV review show, Screenwipe. He’s also behind acclaimed comedies like Nathan Barley. But he’s found global fame with the series Black Mirror, which has entered the lexicon for a singular form of technology-enhanced dread. In the week that the new season launches, Charlie Brooker joins</I> The Media Show <I>to look back at his career.

(2) WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION. The 2023 winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction is Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead, which despite the thrilling sound of its title is a non-genre work.

(3) 2023 KAYMAR AWARDS. The National Fantasy Fan Federation has named Will Mayo and Justin E. A. Busch the winners of the 2023 Kaymar Awards. Each is a posthumous award, a first for the N3F.

The Kaymar Award recipient is selected by a committee consisting of previous winners who are still in the N3F, from nominations submitted by members.

The award, unlike many other awards in fandom, can be awarded only once. It is not given for talent or for popularity, but for work — work for the benefit of the club and its members. The award is a memorial to K. Martin Carlson [1904-1986], who originated, maintained, and financed it for 25 years. Carlson was a long-time N3F member who held many positions in the club, including club Historian. He went by the fan name of Kaymar.

(4) ELIO. Here’s a teaser for next year’s Pixar release, Elio.

Disney and Pixar’s 28th feature film is “Elio”. Jameela Jamil and Brad Garrett join previously announced America Ferrera and Yonas Kibreab in the intergalactic misadventure that is scheduled to take off next spring—March 1, 2024.   For centuries, people have called out to the universe looking for answers—in Disney and Pixar’s all-new movie “Elio,” the universe calls back! The original feature film introduces Elio, an underdog with an active imagination who finds himself inadvertently beamed up to the Communiverse, an interplanetary organization with representatives from galaxies far and wide. Mistakenly identified as Earth’s ambassador to the rest of the universe, and completely unprepared for that kind of pressure, Elio must form new bonds with eccentric alien lifeforms, survive a series of formidable trials and somehow discover who he is truly meant to be. 

(5) UPLIFTER. Steven Barnes showed Facebook readers his latest recognition, The Uplifter Ghost of Honor Award.

(6) ANOTHER COMPANION. “Doctor Who’ Casts BAFTA-Winner Lenny Rush As Morris” reports Deadline.

Lenny Rush, the BAFTA-winning star of BBC comedy Am I Being Unreasonable?, has joined the iconic sci-fi series as Time Lord companion Morris. No further details were given about his role.

Rush, 14, won Best Male Performance for Daisy May Cooper’s Am I Being Unreasonable? last month. He has previously appeared in shows including A Christmas Carol and Dodger.

Showrunner Russell T Davies said: “This is what Doctor Who‘s all about, brand new talent from the next generation, and no one’s more talented than Lenny. He joins the TARDIS team just in time for the Doctor’s greatest nightmare, so hold on tight.”

(7) IT’S A GAS. [Item by Steven French.] “Blending science and the supernatural, high art and gothic horror, Hamad Butt made work that was literally dangerous, in one case sparking fears of a gas leak. He is one of the stars of Tate Britain’s rehang”. “’Dicing with death’: the lethal, terrifying art of Hamad Butt – and the evacuation it once caused” in the Guardian.

But where’s the genre interest, you ask? The work being showcased at the art gallery is Transmission which features a circle of glass books displaying etchings of John Wyndham’s triffids.

…One particularly exciting addition is the little-known Pakistani-born artist Hamad Butt, whose striking 1990 installation Transmission has been given a whole room.

Created at the height of the Aids epidemic in Europe and the US, Transmission evokes multiple terrors. Donning safety goggles at the entrance, you encounter a darkened space with nine open glass books, lit by UV lamps, arranged in a circle on the floor as if for some cabalistic ritual. Through the eerie glow, an etching looms on each book of a triffid, the giant carnivorous plants that overrun Earth after a blinding meteor shower in John Wyndham’s 1951 sci-fi novel The Day of the Triffids. On the wall, nine cryptic statements pronounce things like: “We have the eruption of the Triffid that obscures sex with death” and “We have the blindness of fear and the books of fear”. The piece explores fears of the foreign invader, of deadly desire (through the distinctly phallic-looking triffid), of literal blindness as well as blind faith, the open tomes recalling a madrasa or a witch’s coven….

(8) ROBERT GOTTLIEB (1931-2023). Robert Gottlieb, an influential editor who worked at Simon & Schuster, Alfred A. Knopf and The New Yorker during his career, died June 14 reports the New York Times. He was 92. He edited many successful books “by, among many others, John le Carré, Toni Morrison, John Cheever, Joseph Heller, Doris Lessing and Chaim Potok; science fiction by Michael Crichton and Ray Bradbury; histories by Antonia Fraser and Barbara Tuchman; memoirs by former President Bill Clinton and Katharine Graham, the former publisher of The Washington Post; and works by Jessica Mitford and Anthony Burgess.”

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2001[Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

If memory serves me right, the first thing that I read by  Kelly Link was something in an early issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet that she and Gavin Grant sent to Green Man of Small Beer Press for review.

They also edited the last four years of The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror that Datlow and Windling founded. Same anthology, different tastes under their editorship. 

Our Beginning this Scroll comes from the Nebula-winning “Louise’s Ghost” novelette which is in the Stranger Things Happen collection which is where it was originally published twenty-two years ago. The entire collection being her writing is wonderful. 

And now for her Beginning here…

Two women and a small child meet in a restaurant. The restaurant is nice—there are windows everywhere. The women have been here before. It’s all that light that makes the food taste so good. The small child—a girl dressed all in green, hairy green sweater, green T-shirt, green corduroys and dirty sneakers with green-black laces—sniffs. She’s a small child but she has a big nose. She might be smelling the food that people are eating. She might be smelling the warm light that lies on top of everything. 

Hit

None of her greens match except of course they are all green.

“Louise,” one woman says to the other.

 “Louise,” the other woman says. 

They kiss.

The maitre d’ comes up to them. He says to the first woman, “Louise, how nice to see you. And look at Anna! You’re so big. Last time I saw you, you were so small. This small.” He holds his index finger and his thumb together as if pinching salt. He looks at the other woman. 

Louise says, “This is my friend, Louise. My best friend. Since Girl Scout camp. Louise.” The maitre d’ smiles. “Yes, Louise. 

Of course. How could I forget?

Louise sits across from Louise. Anna sits between them. She has a notebook full of green paper, and a green crayon. She’s drawing something, only it’s difficult to see what, exactly. Maybe it’s a house. 

Louise says, “Sorry about you know who. Teacher’s day. The sitter canceled at the last minute. And I had such a lot to tell you, too! About you know, number eight. Oh boy, I think I’m in love. Well, not in love.” 

She is sitting opposite a window, and all that rich soft light falls on her. She looks creamy with happiness, as if she’s carved out of butter. The light loves Louise, the other Louise thinks. Of course it loves Louise. Who doesn’t?

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 15, 1942 Sondra Marshak, 81. Author of multiple Trek novels including The Price of the Phoenix and The Fate of the Phoenix, both co-written with Myrna Culbreath. She also wrote, again with Myrna Culbreath, Shatner: Where No Man …: The Authorized Biography of William Shatner which of course naturally lists Shatner as the third co-author. Finally she’s co-writer with Jacqueline Lichtenberg, and television producer Joan Winston of Star Trek Lives!
  • Born June 15, 1947 David S Garnett, 76. Not to be confused with the David Garnett without an S. Author of the Bikini Planet novels (StargonautsBikini Planet and Space Wasters) which should be taken as seriously as the names suggests. Revived with the blessing of Michael Moorcock a new version of New Worlds as an anthology. Last work was writing Warhammer novels.
  • Born June 15, 1960 William Snow, 63. He is best remembered as Lord John Roxton on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. (Yes, that’s its official title.) He also had the lead as David Grief on the Australian series Tales of the South Seas which had Rachel Blakey from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World as Isabelle Reed. It was definitely genre. 
  • Born June 15, 1960 Sabrina Vourvoulias, 63. Thai-born author, an American citizen from birth brought up in Guatemala, but here since her teens. Her novel, Ink, deals with immigrants who are tattooed with biometric implants that are used to keep track of them no matter where they are. I’m assuming that the “Skin in the Game” story which appeared first on Tor.com is set in the future. Fair guess that “The Ways of Walls and Words” which also appeared on Tor.com is also set there.
  • Born June 15, 1963 Mark Morris, 60. English author known for his horror novels, although he has also written several novels based on Doctor Who and Torchwood. Given his horror background, these tend to be darker than many similar novels are, I recommend Forever Autumn and Bay of the Dead if you like a good chill. 
  • Born June 15, 1973 Neil Patrick Harris, 50. His first genre role was not Carl Jenkins in Starship Troopers, but rather Billy Johnson in Purple People Eater, an SF comedy best forgotten I suspect. Post-Starship Troopers, I’ve got him voicing Barry Allen / The Flash in Justice League: The New Frontier and Dick Grayson / Nightwing in Batman: Under the Red Hood. He also voiced Peter Parker and his superhero alias in Spider-Man: The New Animated Series. Finally he’s Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events which he also produces. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! reveals something about smartphones and the undead.

(12) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, CA has released episode 64 of its monthly science fiction podcast Simultaneous Times. The stories featured in this episode are:

  • “The Runner” by Jonathan Nevair (with music by Phog Masheeen)
  • “The Last AI Editor on Planet Earth” by Toshiya Kamei (with music by Patrick Urn)

(13) DOES SOMEBODY OWE YOU $7.70? From the New York Times: “Google Might Owe You Money. Here’s How to Get It.” “As part of a legal settlement, Google agreed to pay $23 million to users who clicked on a search link from 2006 to 2013. Individual payments are estimated to be less than $8.”

Anyone who clicked on a Google search result link from October 2006 to September 2013 is entitled to a piece — however small — of a $23 million settlement that the tech giant has agreed to pay to resolve a class-action lawsuit.

The settlement’s administrators set up a website for people to submit claims. According to the site, the estimated individual payout stands at $7.70. But that figure can fluctuate based on the number of people who make valid claims.

Google, which is owned by Alphabet Inc., agreed to the settlement in August. The consolidated class-action lawsuit filed in 2013 accused the company of “storing and intentionally, systematically and repeatedly divulging” users’ search queries and histories to third-party websites and companies….

(14) ROCKS AROUND THE CLOCK. Smithsonian Magazine can help you find “Seven Ways to Explore Space Without Leaving Earth”.

…Just up the road from the Cinder Hills is Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, another astronaut training site. In the early 1970s, commander Gene Cernan and geologist Jack Schmitt trained here before Apollo 17. The mission for this final lunar landing was to find evidence of volcanism on the moon. The two astronauts used the jagged Bonito lava flow, along with surrounding cinder fields and cones, to test equipment and practice geological survey techniques.

In December 1972, Cernan and Schmitt landed in a valley of the Taurus mountain range in the Sea of Serenity. Satellite imagery had suggested these lunar highlands might be volcanic in nature. The pair’s first extravehicular activity—as astronauts call such trips outside their spacecraft—turned up mostly breccias, conglomerate rocks created by the meteorite impacts that actually formed most lunar mountains. But halfway through their second excursion, Schmitt became ecstatic when he spotted something unusual: orange soil. Analysis back on Earth proved the mission a success. They had found remnants of volcanic glass. The eventual theory was that billions of years ago, the moon was a magmatically turbulent place, where lava explosively burst from the low-gravity surface to great heights before raining down as tiny grains of orange glass.

Today, the 3,138-acre Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument offers an excellent way to experience the Arizona landscape that once simulated the lunar environment. A series of short trails allow you to explore some of the volcanic processes that Artemis astronauts may search for when they return to the moon in coming years….

(15) QUANTUM COMPUTER HITS THE MARK. “IBM quantum computer passes calculation milestone”Nature explains the significance.

‘Benchmark’ experiment suggests quantum computers could have useful real-world applications within two years.

“Four years ago, physicists at Google claimed their quantum computer could outperform classical machines — although only at a niche calculation with no practical applications. Now their counterparts at IBM say they have evidence that quantum computers will soon beat ordinary ones at useful tasks, such as calculating properties of materials or the interactions of elementary particles.”…

(16) WHAT IS A SAFE DISTANCE FROM A SUPERNOVA? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] You know me… I do worry so.  So much so that it is a wonder I get any sleep.

Among many troubling concerns is the end of the world.  Now, I have to admit liking the end of the world: it is great fun, but with the firm proviso that is that it is firmly in science fiction.  The real deal is the thing that gets me.

So Matt O’Dowd (he’s a physicist but don’t let that put you off) in this week’s PBS Space Time is sort of re-assuring (only sort of) as to one way the world might end… being caught in the blast of a supernova…

(Best make a calming cup of tea before viewing.)

The deaths of massive stars results in one of the most beautiful and violent events in the universe: the supernova. They are so luminous we can see them here on Earth and historical records show that we can even see them into the day. But supernovas release deadly and violent radiation that could destroy our atmosphere. So how far away do these supernova have to be for humanity to be safe? And when will the next supernova occur…

Nobody panic…

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

Pixel Scroll 4/1/23 Shhh. Be Vewy Quiet, I’m A Pixel and I’m Hunting Filers

(1) VOTING OPENS IN SFWA ELECTION AND REFERENDUMS. Full SFWA members have until April 11 to vote in this year’s SFWA Board of Directors election and respond to two referendums on whether English-language translations and speculative poetry should be allowed to count toward SFWA membership eligibility.

BOARD ELECTION

Candidates for President: Jeffe Kennedy*

Candidates for Secretary: Jasmine Gower*

Candidates for Director-At-Large (three [3] positions open): Phoebe Barton, Chelsea Mueller, Anthony Eichenlaub, Christine Taylor-Butler*

Oghenechovwe Ekpeki is also running for SFWA Director-at-Large, as a write-in.

* = currently serving on the Board

REFERENDUMS. Genre writers of poetry and translators of fiction cannot currently use those portions of their paid work as part of their catalog when applying to join SFWA or to upgrade their membership classification. Two resolutions dealing with those qualifications are up for a vote:

(I) Paid SFF and related genre poetry sales shall be considered for the purposes of determining eligibility for membership in SFWA.

(II) Payment for SFF and related genre translation work shall be considered for the purposes of determining eligibility for membership in SFWA by the translator.

(2) WELL, I’M BACK. The Chengdu Worldcon’s English language website is operational again after being down for several days. Naturally it never occurred to the committee to announce the outage before it began, or explain it while it was happening. They told Facebook readers today:

Our official website of 2023 Chengdu Worldcon has come back after upgrades. Please visit the previous address to checkyour membership status, purchase new memberships and to participate in the 2023 Hugo Awards nomination. For any inquiry, please contact us at:

[email protected]

en.chengduworldcon.com

Thanks for your patience and have a good weekend ahead!

(3) HOUR OF POWER. Well, maybe forty-two minutes anyway. BBC Radio 4 Front Row on Thursday included coverage of the Naomi Alderman novel The Power – a topical item as it has just been made into a TV series. Front Row, Ria Zmitrowicz on The Power, The ENO’s The Dead City and God’s Creatures reviewed”.

The trailer for The Power is online.

The Power, is an emotionally-driven global thriller, based on Naomi Alderman’s international award-winning novel. The world of The Power is our world, but for one twist of nature. Suddenly, and without warning, teenage girls develop the power to electrocute people at will. The Power follows a cast of remarkable characters from London to Seattle, Nigeria to Eastern Europe, as the Power evolves from a tingle in teenagers’ collarbones to a complete reversal of the power balance of the world.

(4) WRONG ENOUGH TO WIN. [Item by ErsatzCulture.] The April 1 edition of the BBC quiz show Pointless Celebrities (which should be available online to UK iPlayer users here) opened with a question asking the contestants to complete the names of a set of science fiction novels.

For anyone unfamiliar with Pointless, it’s roughly an inverted Family Fortunes/Feud, where surveys have been done of 100 members of the public, but here contestants have to pick the least popular answers. If a completely incorrect answer is put forward, that’s scored as 100 points. The eight contestants are split into four teams of two, and in the opening round, one member of each team has to choose one of 7 questions to answer, and then the other members of each team have to choose from a second set of 7 questions. The aim is to come out of that round with the lowest total score, with the team having the highest score being eliminated.

All but one contestant went for a correct answer – the offender being Children of Dune.  Whilst it’s not surprising to me that the Vonnegut and Cixin Liu novels aren’t well-known to the general public, I was surprised to see how low the James, Haig and St. John Mandel works scored.

There is a series of screencaps from this part of the game in Ersatz Culture’s post at Mastodon, “An episode of Pointless Celebr…”

(5) FLAME ON! Carriesthewind’s Tumblr is the source of the rant “The IA’s ‘Open Library’ is Not a Library,…” quoted by Seanan McGuire at Seanan’s Tumblr.

…Yesterday’s district court ruling DID NOT CHANGE ANY SUBSTANTIVE COPYRIGHT LAW IN THE U.S. I cannot emphasize that enough. Regardless of whatever you think of the ruling, it was applying already existing law to the facts.

This is because the Internet Archive’s “Open Library” absolutely violates existing copyright law. It just does! They broke the law, they had plenty of notice they were breaking the law and harming authors (more on that below) and just think the law shouldn’t apply because they don’t like it.

The Internet Archive’s “Open Library” is not a library….

But what really got Carriesthewind steamed was a line in IA’s statement about the decision “The Fight Continues” which says — “It hurts authors by saying that unfair licensing models are the only way their books can be read online.” That provoked this response:

…How DARE you cloak your theft in the real struggles authors face with unfair licensing models. How DARE you pretend you are on the side of authors when you are stealing their works, and they have made it quite clear that they would like you to stop, please. And how DARE you frame it in this “for exposure” bullcrap that ignores the real struggles that authors have to eat, to get healthcare, to get any sort of fair pay and wages for their work, and instead pretend that all authors should care about is whether or not their books can be read online….

(6) COURT REJECTS A BOOK BAN. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] CNN is reporting: “Judge orders books removed from Texas public libraries due to LGBTQ and racial content must be replaced within 24 hours”. Although no SFF titles are specifically mentioned in the article as having been targeted for the bans, there is a statement that the library cut off access to thousands of digital titles because they weren’t able to restrict access to two of the books they wanted to ban unless they banned access to the ALL the digital titles — so that’s what they did (!@#@!)  and I’m sure that impacted access to a lot of SFF digital titles. Also I figure that the Filers are interested in book banning/unbanning just as a general topic.

A federal judge in Texas ruled that at least 12 books removed from public libraries by Llano County officials, many because of their LGBTQ and racial content, must be placed back onto shelves within 24 hours, according to an order filed Thursday.

Seven residents sued county officials in April 2022, claiming their First and 14th Amendment rights were violated when books deemed inappropriate by some people in the community and Republican lawmakers were removed from public libraries or access was restricted.

The lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio claimed county officials removed books from the shelves of the three-branch public library system “because they disagree with the ideas within them” and terminated access to thousands of digital books because they could not ban two specific titles….

(7) STEAMY IN SEATTLE. Clarion West is promoting “Steamy in Seattle, a Paranormal Romance Tea Party”, an in-person event also being streamed online. Takes place May 5 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. Pacific. Buy admission for the in-person experience at the link above, or register for the free online version.

Meet authors Gail Carriger and Piper J. Drake as they discuss the paranormal romance genre and their own work in steampunk, shapeshifter romance, and romantic thrillers! Grab a steaming cup of tea and some delicious treats prepared by the Seattle Central College culinary students, or tune in via livestream.

Location: One World Restaurant on Seattle Central College campus (Capitol Hill neighborhood) and streaming worldwide!

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1958[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

The Muppet Show used to have a segment called “Pigs in Space.” Well this Social Justice Credential counterpart called “Cats in Space”, with a dollop of ever so cute kittens added in, appeared long before Heinlein’s Pixel came into being. 

Our Beginning this Scroll is of Ruthven Todd’s Space Cat and the Kittens. It was published sixty-five years ago by Scribner’s. It’s the fourth, and last, of a children’s books series involving Flyball, a cat who, yes, lives in space. 

The preceding books which, like this one are illustrated by Paul Galdone, are Space CatSpace Cat Visits Venus and Space Cat Meets Mars. Without giving anything away, let me just say that there will be a lot of cats, not a few kittens and a considerable comical situations as the series goes on. 

They are available in both hardcover and from the usual suspects.

Yes there are spoilers here, so go away if you don’t want to read them as this Beginning tells us about how these cats… Oh that would be giving something away, wouldn’t it? 

And here it is…

They were in and out of everything. When you thought you had cornered one of the red and gray bundles flashing among the crates in the storeroom, you would suddenly become aware that you had been attacked from behind by another. With its sharp claws unsheathed it was scrambling up your back. 

Still, everyone on the Moon not only put up with them but liked them. This was only right, for their parents were the most famous cats in the whole of space. Flyball, their father, had not only been the first cat to leave Earth for the Moon, but he had also been the first cat on Venus and on Mars. 

On Mars he had found his wife. Moofa was the last of the Martian fishing cats. Red as any firetruck, with darker stripes that ran from her head to her tail, she had lived on the fish that she caught in the Martian canals.

Now Moofa and Flyball had these two kittens—Marty and Tailspin. Marty was the older brother by a few minutes and was as proud of it as if he had arranged it himself. 

At first glance the kittens, showing both their father’s gray and their mother’s red, looked exactly alike. Then a second look showed that Tailspin had a pure gray tip to his tail while Marty’s tail was red all the way. 

The kittens had been born on the Moon and both Moofa and Flyball agreed that it was an ideal place for kittens, even though there were neither mice nor birds for them to chase. 

On the Moon they were almost as light as feathers and could jump the most tremendous distances. Still, they found, it was just as hard to catch one’s tail on the Moon as it was on Earth. They knew about Earth, for they had visited it on the shuttle-rockets which went back and forth all the time. 

The Earth, the kittens thought, was rather a dull place. A jump that on the Moon would carry them across a room, on Earth was only an ordinary little pounce.

So please name other SF where cats are characters in the story.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 1, 1875 Edgar Wallace. Creator of King Kong, he also wrote SF including Planetoid 127, one of the first parallel Earth stories, and The Green Rust, a bioterrorism novel which was made into a silent film called The Green Terror. Critics as diverse as Orwell, Sayers and Penzler have expressed their rather vehement distaste for him.  Kindle has an impressive number of works available. (Died 1932.)
  • Born April 1, 1883 Lon Chaney. Actor, director, makeup artist and screenwriter. Best remembered I’d say for the Twenties silent horror films The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera in which he did his own makeup. He developed pneumonia in late 1929 and he was diagnosed with bronchial lung cancer which he died from. (Died 1930.)
  • Born April 1, 1926 Anne McCaffrey. I read both the original trilogy and what’s called the Harper Hall trilogy oh so many years ago when dragons were something I was intensely interested in. I enjoyed them immensely but haven’t revisited them so I don’t know what the Suck Fairy would make of them. I confess that I had no idea she’d written so much other genre fiction! And I recounted her Hugo awards history in the March 7 Pixel Scroll (item #9). (Died 2011.)
  • Born April 1, 1930 Grace Lee Whitney. Yeoman Janice Rand on Star Trek. She would reach the rank of Lt. Commander in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Folks, I just noticed that IMDB says she was only on eight episodes of Trek, all in the first fifteen that aired. It seemed like a lot more at the time. She also appeared in in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. By the last film, she was promoted to being a Lt. Commander in rank. Her last appearance was in Star Trek: Voyager’s “Flashback” along with Hikaru Sulu. Oh, and she was in two video fanfics, Star Trek: New Voyages and Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. (Died 2015.)
  • Born April 1, 1942 Samuel R. Delany, 81. There’s no short list of recommended works for him as everything he’s done is brilliant. That said I think I’d start off suggesting a reading first of Babel- 17 and Dhalgren followed by the Return to Nevèrÿon series. His two Hugo wins were at Heicon ’70 for the short story “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones” as published in New Worlds, December 1968, and at Noreascon 3 (1989) in the Best Non-Fiction Work category for The Motion of Light in Water: Sex and Science Fiction Writing in the East Village, 1957-1965.  I will do a full look at his awards and all of his Hugo nominations in an essay shortly. 
  • Born April 1, 1960 Michael Praed, 63. Robin of Loxley on Robin of Sherwood which no doubt is one of the finest genre series ever done of a fantasy nature. He also played Phileas Fogg on The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne, an amazing series that never got released on DVD. It has spawned a lively fanfic following since it was cancelled with names such as Spicy Airship Stories which I admit I’m going to go read.
  • Born April 1, 1963 James Robinson, 60. Writer, both comics and film. Some of his best known comics are the series centered on the Justice Society of America, in particular the Starman character he co-created with Tony Harris. His Starman series is without doubt some of the finest work ever done in the comics field. His screenwriting is a mixed bag. Remember The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? Well, that’s him. He’s much, much better on the animated Son of Batman film. And I’ll admit that James Robinson’s Complete WildC.A.T.s is a sort of guilty pleasure.
  • Born April 1, 1970 Brad Meltzer, 53. I’m singling him for his work as a writer at DC including the still controversial Identity Crisis miniseries and his superb story in the Green Arrow series from issues 16 to 21 starting in 2002.  He and artist Gene Ha received an Eisner Award for Best Single Issue (or One-Shot) for their work on issue #11 of Justice League of America series. 

(10) KELLY LINK INTERVIEW. Electric Literature declares, “Kelly Link Makes Fairy Tales Even Weirder Than You Remember”.

Chelsea Davis: Rules—often arbitrary, always ominous—shape many fairy tales, and most of the stories in White Cat. Don’t let anyone enter the front door; don’t visit your lover unless it’s snowing; and (my favorite) don’t hunker down for the night in a home that doesn’t have a corpse inside. How do explicit rules activate or shape a story?

Kelly Link: I love thinking about rules! I’m deeply interested in the relationship that we have with them as members of a family, or a social group, or a culture. They mark out the territory in which we (or our characters) live our lives. When thinking about imaginary people, a useful approach is to consider what rules they live by, which rules they break, and the consequences or freedoms that occur as a result.

When I was a kid, I was fascinated and horrified by all sorts of rules: Don’t wear white after Labor Day! Wear pantyhose with skirts. Never wear navy and black together. Don’t take candy from a stranger. 

I was a preacher’s kid, and aside from all the familiar stuff about virginity, and not taking the Lord’s name in vain, there were weirder, more interesting rules about not eating shellfish, or wearing certain fibers together, or not suffering a witch to live. (Though the two rules about loving your neighbor as yourself, and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you still seem like good practice.)…

(11) EKPEKI GOFUNDME CONTINUES. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki’s GoFundMe fundraiser for visa processing & legal fees has reached 20 percent of its $17,500 goal.

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki recently experienced visa complications that left him unable to attend the NAACP Image award ceremony, where he was a nominee for his work co-editing the anthology Africa Risen. These visa issues will also prevent him from attending the 44th Afrofuturism-themed International Conference For The Fantastic In the Arts as a guest of honour or be a visiting fellow at Arizona State University.

Because of these issues, Ekpeki is crowdfunding for a new visa that allows him the range of activities his burgeoning literary career demands.

Specifically, this crowdfunding is for a new visa and the associated legal and application fees. Ekpeki has already connected with a lawyer experienced in this legal area who will assist with the application.

(12) JEOPARDY! David Goldfarb notes that Thursday’s Jeopardy! episode had a category in the Double Jeopardy round called “Quoth the Title”. It hit one SFF trilogy in the middle, at the $1200 level:

Philip Pullman quoted Milton, “Unless the almighty Maker them ordain” these “to create more worlds”.

Returning champion Lisa Srikan tried, “What are men?” Jacob Lang was perhaps influenced by this to respond, “What are children of men?”. Sharon Stone (not that one) declined to guess. This isn’t quite at the level where I would just assume that every Filer would know it: the clue was looking for “His Dark Materials”.

Goldfarb also tuned into Friday’s Jeopardy! episode and enjoyed several more SFF-related clues. 

In the first Jeopardy round, 

“Hey, Big Spender” for $200:

If you’ve really got all that dough, why don’t you buy Action Comics #1 from 1938, which saw the debut of this otherworldly hero

Jen Petro-Roy responded correctly.

In the Double Jeopardy round,
“Oh, the Literary Places You Don’t Want to Go!”: $1200: 

The Sprawl is a rough city with an artificial gray sky in “Mona Lisa Overdrive”, a novel from this cyberpunk master

Jen knew William Gibson.

“Literary Places”: $2000: 

The idyllic school Hailsham harbors grotesque deeds in “Never Let Me Go” from this Japanese-born author

Jen messed up the name Kazuo Ishiguro: “Kashiguro” was not accepted. The other two didn’t answer.

“Last Lines of Movies”: $800: 

“Oh, no. It wasn’t the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast.”

Jen knew it.

“Literary Places”, $400: 

Isla Nublar off Costa Rica sets the scene of this 1990 Michael Crichton novel that bioengineers some terror

Brittany Shaw knew this one.

(13) APRIL FOOL’S DAY. The Unofficial Hugo Book Club blog tried its best to keep the holiday alive.

(14) FURTHER APRIL FOOLISHNESS. James Davis Nicoll reviews an essential volume of the science fiction canon in “By Klono’s Silk Unmentionables!”

Time erodes all, including our collective memory. Even what is preserved in print can be subject to caprice; once well-known works can be forgotten. Take, for example, that classic space opera: Thorne Smith’s Lensmen….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Meanwhile, this trailer for Trolls Band Together is not an April Fool – but maybe it ought to be!

After two films of true friendship and relentless flirting, Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake) are now officially, finally, a couple (#broppy)! As they grow closer, Poppy discovers that Branch has a secret past. He was once part of her favorite boyband phenomenon, BroZone, with his four brothers: Floyd (Golden Globe nominated electropop sensation Troye Sivan), John Dory (Eric André; Sing 2), Spruce (Grammy winner Daveed Diggs; Hamilton) and Clay (Grammy winner Kid Cudi; Don’t Look Up). BroZone disbanded when Branch was still a baby, as did the family, and Branch hasn’t seen his brothers since. But when Branch’s bro Floyd is kidnapped for his musical talents by a pair of nefarious pop-star villains—Velvet (Emmy winner Amy Schumer; Trainwreck) and Veneer (Grammy winner and Tony nominee Andrew Rannells; The Book of Mormon)—Branch and Poppy embark on a harrowing and emotional journey to reunite the other brothers and rescue Floyd from a fate even worse than pop-culture obscurity.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, David Goldfarb, Jennifer Hawthorne, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Danny Sichel, ErsatzCulture, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 3/28/23 Pixels Yearning To Be Running With The Wild Things

(1) LINK Q&A. “Kelly Link Can’t Write Narrative Before 3pm: And Other Tips For Purposeful Writing” at Literary Hub.

What time of day do you write?
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out why I hate writing so much, when it’s also the thing that I want most to do—it turns out a large piece of this is that I mostly hate writing when I’m attempting to do it between waking up to around 2 pm. For a long time, I thought that real writers settled down to do their work first thing, and so I must be a dilettante not to be able to get anything done without finding it excruciating.

Finally, after lots of experimenting, I’ve realized that before 2 pm I can’t really make much headway, and that at some point between 2 and 3 in the afternoon some little switch in my brain flips, and I can think about narrative. And so now, on days when I’m going to write (including important emails), in the morning I do dishes, play games on my phone, and even watch some TV. From 3 pm to around 1 am, given the freedom to just write, I can get a lot of work done….

(2) OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN AFTER 3 P.M. And The New Yorker has a review of Link’s new collection White Cat, Black Dog: “A Shape-Shifting Short-Story Collection Defies Categorization”.

…One thing that fairy tales teach us, of course, is that it’s wise not to examine such magic too closely—better to accept the gift gratefully than to inquire into its provenance. Still, at the risk of incurring the magician’s wrath, we might look more closely at one of these stories and see if we can figure out how it works. “Prince Hat Underground” is the second story in the new collection, and the only one that’s previously unpublished. It begins in a very un-fairy-tale-like fashion, in medias res: “And who, exactly, is Prince Hat?” This isn’t as familiar an opening as “Once upon a time,” but it does point down a well-trodden path in literary fiction—that is, toward a character portrait. “Gary, who has lived with Prince Hat for over three decades, still sometimes wonders,” Link continues. And so the plot becomes even more familiar: this is the story of a marriage, and, more particularly, a story of the secrets that persist even in long-term relationships. Already we have, in two lines, a thumbnail sketch of this relationship, between staid, reliable Gary and the boyish, fanciful Prince Hat….

(3) SMALL WONDERS KICKSTARTER NEARS FINISH LINE. Stephen Granade reports, “We’re in the final day-and-a-half of the Small Wonders Kickstarter and are tantalizingly close to funding. We’ve passed 75% funded so got to release a new story from Nebula winner John Wiswell.”

Read “Irresponsibly Human” at the link.

I already got a body. Infiltrating their planet was easy after that; theirs is a simple culture, so unevolved that social media is still legal. Give me a week of using this body and the culture’s tech, and I’ll have enough experiential data to synthesize a whole army. They won’t even know we’re here until we’ve won. I’m going to be the first person to conquer another planet as a senior thesis project….

Granade adds, “When we reach 90% we’ll release a new poem by Beth Cato, and we’ve got a new story from Premee Mohamed as a reward for us fully funding.” 

(4) YOUR NAME THERE. NASA continues to invite people to “Send Your Name to Mars” on a “Future Mars Mission” whenever that may be. In the meantime, you can download a lovely Boarding Pass. My name went to Mars with Perseverance.

(5) DIAL TIME. Do you have Indiana Jones in Cannes? Well, let him out! “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny to Debut at Cannes” and The Hollywood Reporter has details.

…The French fest runs May 16-27, with Dial of Destiny eying a day two or day three debut.

It is a homecoming of sorts for the pulpy hero. Fifteen years ago, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull debuted at the fest, which has been a launching ground for tentpoles in recent years…. 

(6) NO RESPECT. Ed Power demands to know, “This Mormon sci-fi author made $55m last year. So why isn’t he taken seriously?” The article, about WIRED’s hit job on Sanderson, is behind a paywall at The Telegraph.

From tipping the barman to pre-teen beauty pageants, America is no stranger to bizarre rituals. One of the weirdest is the glossy magazine “hit piece”. This involves a journalist pretending to be friends with a famous person and then demolishing them over 2,000 words or so. Make that 4,000 in the case of a new Wired magazine “profile” of fantasy author Brandon Sanderson, in which the best-selling writer is subjected to a thorough biffing-up….

(7) PUBLISHING NIGHTMARE AVOIDS PRISON. “Book fraudster Filippo Bernardini spared jail” – the Guardian says he will be deported instead.

…Filippo Bernardini, who worked as a rights coordinator, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in New York in January.

He was yesterday sentenced by judge Colleen McMahon to time served, meaning he will not be imprisoned, according to the Bookseller. He has agreed to pay $88,000 (£72,700) to Penguin Random House to cover the legal and expert fees the company paid as a result of his scheme.

Bernardini has also been sentenced to three years of supervised release, and will be deported from the US to the UK or Italy, where he grew up….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

1992[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Great secondary characters are a must in any ongoing series. So it is with Sharyn McCrumb’s Ballad series, mysteries set in her native Appalachian region. And here we get the story of Nora Bonesteel. 

The one that is our Beginning this Scroll is from The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter which was published by Scribner in 1992. It was the second in the series after the debut novel, If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O. To date, there are thirteen Ballad novels and some shorter works. 

The Appalachian Writers Association gave The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter its Award for Best Novel. 

As per our policy here of absolutely no spoilers, I won’t say anything this novel or anything explicit about the series. I’ll only say that the author has a deft hand at writing interesting characters set in what seems to be authentic Appalachian settings with interesting stories. 

PROLOGUE 

Summer for the living, 
Winter for the dead—

The rule for solstice alignment 
of standing stones 
in pre-christian britain 

Nora Bonesteel was the first one to know about the Underhill family. Death was no stranger to Dark Hollow, Tennessee, but Nora Bonesteel was the only one who could see it coming. 

She was well past seventy, and she lived alone in a white frame house up on the part of Ashe Mountain that had been Bonesteel land since 1793. Across the patchwork of field and forest, eye to eye with the Bonesteel house, was the outcrop of rock called Hangman, looking down on the holler with a less benevolent eye than Nora Bonesteel’s. They perched on their respective summits, the granite man and the parchment woman, in a standoff older than the pines that edged the meadows. 

She seldom left her mountain fastness except to walk down the gravel road to church on Sunday morning, but she had a goodly number of visitors—mostly people wanting advice—but they’d come bringing homemade blackberry jelly or the latest picture of the grandbaby so as not to seem pushy about it. Folks said that no matter how early you reached her house of a morning with a piece of bad news, she’d meet you on the porch with a mug of fresh-brewed chicory coffee, already knowing what it was you’d come about. 

Nora Bonesteel did not gossip. The telephone company had never got around to stringing the lines up Ashe Mountain. She just knew. 

Dark Hollow folk, most of them kin to her, anyhow, took it for granted, but it made some of the townspeople down in Hamelin afraid, the way she sat up there on the mountain and kept track of all the doings in the valley; sat up there with her weaving, and her pet groundhog, and her visions. 

The night that Garrett Webster died in that wreck on the road to Asheville, Nora had the carrot cake baked to take to the funeral by the time somebody stopped in the next morning to tell her about the accident. She had a dream, she said, while she was sleeping in that old iron bedstead with the hollow pipes at the head and foot of it. Suddenly, she had heard a clang and felt the bed vibrate, as if somebody had hit those footboard pipes with the point of a sword. She’d sat up in bed, looking to see what woke her, and there was Garrett Webster standing at the foot of her bed, smiling at her from inside a glow of white light. When he saw that she’d seen him and knew who he was, he faded away, and the room was dark again. It was eight minutes past five, Nora said, and she got up right then to start fixing that cake for Esther Webster and her boys. The state trooper’s report said that the wreck between Garrett Webster’s car and a semi on Route 58 had occurred at 5: 08 that morning. It also stated that Webster never knew what hit him, but Nora Bonesteel reckoned he had. 

She knew other things, too. Who was pregnant, when to cover your tomato plants for frost, and where your missing wedding ring would turn up. She could cure nosebleeds by quoting the sixteenth chapter of Ezekiel, sixth verse; and she knew how to gauge the coming winter by the bands on a woolly worm. But that was nothing to marvel at. Every family had somebody with the simple gifts; even ones who knew when there had been a death within their family, but what made Nora Bonesteel different from others with the Sight was that for her it wasn’t only a matter of knowing about close kin. The fate of the whole community seemed as open to her as the weekly newspaper. Even newcomers, like the Underhills, outsiders who had bought an old farm and had come as strangers to settle between the mountains, were within the range of her visions. 

Nobody in Dark Hollow ever mistook her for a witch. She taught Sunday school to the early teens, and she kept her place in an old leather King James Bible with the feather of a redbird’s wing. Nora Bonesteel never wished harm, never tried to profit by her knowledge. Most times, she wouldn’t even tell people things if it was bad news that couldn’t be avoided. And if she did impart a warning, she’d look away while she told it, and say what she had to in a sorrowful way that was nobody’s idea of a curse. She just knew things, that’s all. In the east Tennessee hills, there had always been people who knew things. Most people felt a little sorry for her, and were glad they could go through life with the hope that comes from not seeing the future through well-polished glass.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 28, 1912 A. Bertram Chandler. Did you ever hear of popcorn literature? Well the Australian-tinged space opera that was the universe of the Rim World and John Grimes was such. A very good starting place is the Baen Books omnibus To The Galactic Rim which contains three novels and seven stories. If there’s a counterpart to him, it’d be I think Dominic Flandry who appeared in Anderson’s Technic History series. Oh, and I’ve revisited both to see if the Suck Fairy had dropped by. She hadn’t. (Died 1984.)
  • Born March 28, 1928 Ron Soble. He played Wyatt Earp in the Trek episode, “Spectre of The Gun”.  During his career, he showed up on a huge number of genre series that included Mission: ImpossibleThe Six Million Dollar ManShazamPlanet of The ApesFantasy IslandSalvage 1 and Knight Rider. His last genre role, weirdly enough, was playing Pablo Picasso in Pterodactyl Woman from Beverly Hills. (Died 2002.)
  • Born March 28, 1933 J. R. Hammond. Looking for companionable guides to H.G. Wells? Clute at EoSF has the scholar for you. He wrote three works that he recommends as being rather good (H G Wells: A Comprehensive Bibliography, Herbert George Wells: An Annotated Bibliography of his Works and An H G Wells Companion: A Guide to the Novels, Romances and Short Stories). Clute says that his “tendency to provide sympathetic overviews, now as much as ever, is welcome.” (Died 2018.)
  • Born March 28, 1942 Mike Newell, 81. Director whose genre work Includes The Awakening, Photographing Fairies (amazing story, stellar film), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (popcorn film — less filling, mostly tasty), Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and two episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, to wit “Masks of Evil” and “The Perils of Cupid”.
  • Born March 28, 1944 Ellen R. Weil. Wife of  Gary K. Wolfe. She wrote a number of works with him including the non-fiction study, Harlan Ellison: The Edge of Forever. They wrote a fascinating essay, “The Annihilation of Time: Science Fiction; Consumed by Shadows: Ellison and Hollywood,” which can be found in Harlan Ellison: Critical Insights. (Died 2000.)
  • Born March 28, 1946 Julia Jarman, 77. Author of a  children’s book series I like a lot, of which I’ll single out Time-Travelling Cat And The Egyptian GoddessThe Time-Travelling Cat and the Tudor Treasure and The Time-Travelling cat and the Viking Terror as the ones I like the best. There’s more to that series but those are my favorites. I see no indication that the cats are available from the usual suspects alas. 
  • Born March 28, 1972 Nick Frost, 51. Yes, he really is named Nick Frost as he was born Nicholas John Frost. Befitting that, he was cast as Santa Claus in two Twelfth Doctor stories, “Death in Heaven” and “Last Christmas”. He’s done far more genre acting than I can retell here starting with the Spaced series and Shaun of The Dead (he’s close friends with Simon Pegg) to the superb Snow White and The Huntsman. He’s currently Gus in the Truth Seekers, a sort of low-budget comic ghost hunter series 

(10) FANAC’S FANNISH FEMINISM PANEL. Fanac.org hosted a two-part presentation about “Feminism in 1970s/80s Fandom” with Janice Bogstad, Jeanne Gomoll, and Lucy Huntzinger.

Fandom in the 70s/80s saw real influence from people with a feminist perspective, from the creation of Wiscon to fanzines like Janus and Rude Bitch, and to raising awareness of the reality women experienced.  What were the beginnings? How did Wiscon get started? Was fandom following popular culture or leading it? 

Part 1 – Panelists Janice Bogstad and Jeanne Gomoll tell us about the creation of Janus, Wiscon and the Madison nexus of feminist thought in 70s fandom, and Lucy Huntzinger brings us into the 80s with the lamentably short-run Rude Bitch, and her other experiences in fandom as a feminist.  Moderated by Edie Stern, FANAC.org webmaster, this intriguing panel reveals the unusual origins of Janus (and how the editor found out it was a fanzine!), the academic background brought to the discussions of women in science fiction, and some of the factors that made Madison the hotbed of feminist thought in fandom. 

These personal histories trace the growth of feminist discussion in broader fandom, and explore why fandom felt like a safe space for women. The panelists also discuss the sometimes negative reactions received…Wound through with personal anecdotes (“Will the real James Tiptree please stand up!”, and the production of “The Emperor Norton Science Fiction Hour”), the discussion provides a window on an important area of science fiction fan history.

Part 2 –  Panelists Jeanne, Lucy and Janice continue here with more on the reactions they received from others, and with the differences in being a feminist in fandom in the 70s and in the 80s…Part 2 has stories about dating approaches in fandom, the wonderful origins of Corflu, and a number of anecdotes (both serious and constructive as well as personal and funny) about well known women writers. There are charming anecdotes about Octavia E. Butler, Connie Willis, Sheri Tepper (and her rousing call to action on population growth), and Ursula K. Le Guin. 

You’ll also hear about the origins and early days of the Tiptree Award, and its novel funding mechanism. Finally, there are audience comments and reminiscences including a true story about the Minneapolis chicken hat…This session is lots of fun, with a serious thread underlying it. 

(11) FLIGHT HISTORY SUFFERS FIRE DAMAGE. The New York Times reports “Wright Brothers’ Airplane Factory Is Badly Damaged in Fire”.

A fire that broke out at a building complex in Dayton, Ohio, on Sunday damaged a factory founded by Wilbur and Orville Wright, the brothers who were the first people to successfully fly an airplane.

The fire throws into doubt the future of the factory, where the brothers built planes starting in the 1910s. It became part of the National Park Service’s group of aviation-related sites in Dayton in 2009.

The factory is a monument not just to the brothers and their consequential invention, but also to the role of leading industrialists of the day in giving birth to the age of commercial aviation. The factory was built shortly after Wilbur Wright visited New York in 1909 and “got buttonholed by the Vanderbilts, the Colliers, J.P. Morgan, folks like that,” said Dean Alexander, who was the park service superintendent in Dayton when the site was added. “The first thing they paid for was building that factory,” Mr. Alexander said.

The Dayton Fire Department said that it is investigating the cause of the fire, which started at 2:28 a.m. Sunday and damaged the roof and interior of buildings in the complex. No one was injured, the department said….

(12) LUCAS MUSEUM OF NARRATIVE ART. “Lucas Museum in Los Angeles Slated to Open in 2025” says the New York Times.

In the spring of 2018, after years of bidding wars, shifting proposals and changing plans, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art broke ground in South Los Angeles.

And despite many subsequent delays, pandemic-related and otherwise, the enormous scope of the project by the “Star Wars” filmmaker George Lucas is finally coming into focus, and the museum is slated to open sometime in 2025, my colleague Adam Nagourney recently reported in The New York Times.

That may come as a surprise.

“My sense from the response to this story is that many people here were unaware of how far along the museum has come, and how big it is,” Adam, who is based in Los Angeles, told me.

As a refresher, Lucas considered building his billion-dollar museum in Chicago or San Francisco, but settled on Los Angeles, where officials were more aggressive in courting the project, which was expected to bring with it prestige and thousands of construction and museum jobs. The futuristic building, reminiscent of a low-flying spaceship, is being built on what were once parking lots in Exposition Park, across the street from the University of Southern California, Lucas’s alma mater.

The Lucas, designed by Ma Yansong, one of China’s most prominent architects, is part of a recent wave of museum construction in Los Angeles. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures opened in 2021, and the Hammer Museum this month completed yearslong renovations. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is also in the midst of a major overhaul….

(13) BALANCE OF POWER. “Would building a Dyson sphere be worth it? We ran the numbers” says Ars Technica. Daniel Dern posits, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”

… For these and many other reasons, a Dyson sphere costs energy. So we’re going to see how long it will take to recoup the energy investment of building one and what the optimal design might be to minimize the initial investment.

To get at some numbers, we’re going to make a lot of assumptions. People like to poke fun at physicists for simplifying complex problems, sometimes beyond recognition. The old joke goes that dairy farmers reached out to a nearby university to help understand why milk production was low, and the response from the physicists began by assuming that the cows were spherical.

But there is something powerful about this simplifying approach, which is why physicists are trained in it from day one. First, it lets us answer questions when we’re not interested in precise numbers at the outset. Here, we just want a general sense of feasibility—will building a Dyson sphere take a (relatively) small, medium, or extreme amount of energy? Second, simplifying the problem helps cover up mistakes (either in calculations or our starting assumptions). If all we’re going after is a general ballpark, then a factor-of-two mistake (or even 10 or 100) won’t really change the overall intuitions our calculations enable….

Also: How about instead making a Ringworld-scale Dyson vacuum cleaner? (to suck up all that dark matter and other clutter…?)

(14) VERSE OF THE DAY. Too long to use as a title, however, it deserves Scroll honors. By Randall M:

One File makes you pixel
And one File makes you scroll
And the ones Mike Glyer sends you
Don’t go anywhere at all
Go ask Jetpack
When it’s on a roll

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

Pixel Scroll 3/19/23 It’s Tribbles All The Way Down (Except Level 47, Which Is Selbbirts)

(1) PICS AND IT STILL NEVER HAPPENED. David Brin stares into the abyss, discussing “All those ‘chat’ programs… and the End of Photography as Proof of Anything At All” at Contrary Brin.

One of the scariest predictions now circulating is that we are about to leave the era of photographic proof.  For generations we relied on cameras to be the fairest of fair witnesses.  Images of the Earth from space helped millions become more devoted to its care.  Images from Vietnam made countless Americans less gullible and more cynical.  Miles of footage taken at Nazi concentration camps confirmed history’s greatest crimes.  A few seconds of film shot in Dallas, in November of 1963, set the boundary conditions for a nation’s masochistic habit of scratching a wound that never heals.  

Although there have been infamous photo-fakes — such as trick pictures that convinced Arthur Conan Doyle there were real “fairies” and Mary Todd Lincoln that her husband’s ghost hovered over her, or the ham-handedly doctored images that Soviet leaders used to erase “non-persons” from official history — for the most part scientists and technicians have been able to expose forgeries by magnifying and revealing the inevitable traces that meddling left behind.

But not anymore, say some experts.  We are fast reaching the point where expertly controlled computers can adjust an image, pixel by microscopic pixel, and not leave a clue behind.  Much of the impetus comes from Hollywood, where perfect verisimilitude is demanded for fantastic onscreen fabulations like Forrest Gump and Jurassic Park.  Yet some thoughtful film wizards worry how these technologies will be used outside the theaters….

…The new technologies of photo-deception have gone commercial. For instance, a new business called “Out Takes” set up shop next to Universal Studios, in Los Angeles, promising to “put you in the movies.” For a small fee they will insert your visage in a tete-a-tete with Humphrey Bogart or Marilyn Monroe, exchanging either tense dialogue or a romantic moment.  This may seem harmless on the surface, but the long range possibilities disturb Ken Burns, innovative director of the famed Public Broadcasting series The Civil War.  “If everything is possible, then nothing is true. And that, to me, is the abyss we stare into. The only weapon we might have, besides some internal restraint, is skepticism.”   

Skepticism may then further transmute into cynicism — Burns worries — or else, in the arts, decadence…. 

(2) NO LONGER BEING OVERLOOKED. Lila Shapiro spends time “In Northampton with Kelly Link and her community of like-minded writers”.

 ….In the stories of Kelly Link, strange things happen in otherwise ordinary settings. A teenage girl from Iowa travels to New York to find an older guy she met online and ends up at a hotel hosting a pair of conventions: one for dentists and one for superheroes. A girl from the Boston area discovers a lost world preserved inside her grandmother’s old handbag (which is made from the skin of a dog that lives inside it). Her stories do not abide by the rules of conflict and resolution — they make sense in the way that dreams make sense. Pressed to explain these phenomena, Link’s characters tend to change the subject. “The mechanics of how I can speak are really of no great interest, and I’m afraid I don’t really understand it myself, in any case,” a talking cat insists in a story from Link’s new collection, White Cat, Black Dog. Since 2001, Link has published four books of short stories, with the fifth — a series of unsettling retellings of classic fairy tales — out this month. For much of that time, she has worked in relative obscurity. Early reviewers were impressed by her originality, but she remained largely unknown outside of M.F.A. programs and fantasy circles. When her first book was published more than 20 years ago, serious literature, for the most part, meant one-pound tomes of psychological realism.

That has changed as Link’s stature has grown. In 2016, she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; a few years later, the MacArthur Foundation awarded her a “genius” grant for “pushing the boundaries of literary fiction.”…

… After getting an M.F.A. at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Link enrolled in the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop. “I thought, This will be a group of people who are doing the same kind of work. But in fact, the feedback I got from many of the people was, Well, I don’t know what this is.” While she and her fellow students admired some of the same authors — Heinlein, Asimov, Tolkien — Link’s indifference to genre conventions was apparent. If her heroines start an epic quest, they’re likely to get distracted or lost or turn into someone else entirely. “I remember thinking she already wrote better than I did and there was really no point in her coming to this workshop,” said Karen Joy Fowler, one of Link’s professors at Clarion…..

(3) TIME IN A BOTTLE. Dorothy Grant persuasively explains why people should listen to Neil Gaiman’s entire advice about the freelance life in “Saying No” at Mad Genius Club.

…He [Neil Gaiman] went on, though, to warn about the problems of success… and that’s what gets dropped out of a lot of the advice. He noted the problems of success are harder, in part because nobody warns you about them… and what do people do? Not listen to the warning, and drop it out of their quotes. They include:

“The point where you stop saying yes to everything, because now the bottles you threw in the ocean are all coming back, and have to learn to say no.”

(4) PLUS ÇA CHANGE, PLUS C’EST LA MÊME CHOSE. “50 Best Short Stories for High School Students” at We Are Teachers is surprisingly chock full of sff – Bradbury, Le Guin, Poe, Dahl – though I’m a little more surprised at how many of these stories were already part of the canon when I was in high school and are still on a list like this.  

If there is one thing that my students and I share, it’s our love for short stories. High school kids may not choose to read short stories on their own time, but they get very excited when the story I choose to teach a concept is short. I find that short stories pack a stronger emotional punch. They elicit real reactions, especially if the author manages to surprise them. In fact, short stories are the thing I use most often in my high school lessons to teach literary devices, act as mentor texts for our writing, and get students excited about reading. Here is a collection of 50 of my favorite short stories for high school students….

(5) GIRARDI Q&A. The Horror Writers Association blog has a new “Women in Horror” entry: “Women in Horror: Interview with Jill Girardi”.

Jill Girardi is the internationally best-selling, award-nominated author of Hantu Macabre, a novel which was optioned for a film starring MMA Fighter Ann Osman and directed by Aaron Cowan (a senior member of the Visual Effects team that won four Oscars for Avatar and Lord of the Rings.)…

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

This is something I’ve found difficult to explain over the years. Going back to the subject of du Maurier’s work, I found her simple, direct form of writing to be both beautiful and haunting, evoking so many emotions in the reader. The symbolism of it struck such a deep chord with me. For example, in one of my favorite stories, The Apple Tree, a mere tree takes on the qualities of a deceased woman, one who withered from neglect and lack of love all her life. The image was one that stayed with me long after I first finished reading the story. Many people believe that horror is all about shock value, that there’s no emotion or any deep meaning in it. Those of us who read or write horror know otherwise. We know that something as simple as a tree can haunt you, and bring you close to your own pain. This is what I adore about horror. There is so much more lurking under its surface….

(6) GODZILLA NOVELIZATIONS. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Since its publication nearly 70 years ago, there is finally an English translation by Jeffrey Angles to the Shigeru Kayama’s novelizations for Godzilla (1954) and Godzilla Raids Again (1955). According to its Amazon listing, it’ll be published by University of Minnesota Press and released October 3, 2023.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

2003[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Sharyn McCrumb’s Ghost Riders is the seventh of her Ballad Novels, her mystery series set in the Appalachian Mountains. It features a strong dash of magic realism as you’ll see in the Beginning from this novel which was published twenty years ago by Dutton Adult.

I like the novels because they feel authentic which reflects McCrumb’s being born and raised in the Appalachian region. The novels are richly detailed, the characters are fully developed, particularly the continuing ones such as Rattler, and the stories are certainly some of the better ones set in the Appalachian region. 

And if her name sounds familiar, that’s because of Bimbos of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool which she wrote.

And now our Beginning…

Prologue: Rattler 

The boy stood still in the moonlight watching the riders approach. The chill of the night air had shaken the last bit of sleep-stupor from him, and he shivered, feeling the wind on his legs and the sensation of his bare feet touching the rough boards of the porch, and knowing that he was not dreaming. He had stumbled outside to make his way to the privy, but now something–not a sound, more like a feeling–made him stop a few feet from the door, and for long minutes as he stood there he would forget the push in his bladder that had sent him out into the cold darkness of an October night. 

Night riders. 

Horses were not an every day sight in the mountains nowadays, as they had been in his daddy’s time. Now that the Great War had ended in Europe, the world had changed. People talked about aeroplanes and automobiles and store-bought clothes. Every year brought more Model A’s into the county, and those folks that didn’t run an automobile could take the train into Johnson City or Asheville if they needed to go. You sent money to the mail-order catalogue, and the postman would bring you the goods, all parceled up in brown paper, whatever you’d asked for. They called it “the wish book.” But nobody ever wished for the old days, not in these mountains. They all wanted the future to get here double quick. 

But tonight was an echo of the old days… there were horsemen at the edge of the woods. 

The boy wondered who these riders were, out on the ridge past midnight, far from a road and miles from the next farm. He could make out three of them just this side of the trees beyond the smokehouse, but in the faint light of the crescent moon their features were indistinguishable. They carried no lantern, and they rode in silence. It took the boy three heartbeats longer to register the fact that the horses made no sound either. He heard no rustle of grass, no snapping of twigs beneath their hooves. 

One of the riders detached himself from the group by the woods and trotted toward the porch where the boy stood. He was a tall, gaunt man in a long greatcoat and scuffed leather boots, and he had a calculating way of looking through narrowed eyes that froze the boy to the spot like a snake-charmed bird. The rider looked to be in his twenties, with dark hair and black whiskers outlining his chin, as if he were growing a beard by default and not by design. The boy stared at the face, a pale oval in the moonlight, and he forgot to move or cry out. 

The man smiled down at him as if he had trouble remembering how. “Evenin’, Boy,” he said in a soft mountain drawl. “What’s your name then?” 

“Rat–they called me Rattler, mister.” It took him two tries to get the sound to come out of his throat. 

The rider grinned. “Rattler, huh? Mean as a snake, are you, boy?” 

The boy lifted his chin. Even if he was shivering in his nightshirt, he was on his own porch and he would not cower before a stranger. “I don’t reckon I’m mean,” he said. “But I give salt for salt.” 

“Fair enough.” The dark man looked amused. “I guess I do the same.” He glanced back at the woods where his companions waited, motionless, shadows in moonlight. “And you’d be–what? About twelve?” 

“About,” said the boy. He would be eleven in January.

“Well, snake-boy, what do you say? You want to ride with us?” 

The boy shrugged. “Got no horse.” 

“Reckon we could rustle you up one.” 

The smile again, cold as a moonbeam. The boy hesitated. “You never said who you are, Mister.”

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 19, 1821 Sir Richard Francis Burton KCMG FRGS. He was a geographer, translator, writer, soldier, cartographer, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, fencer and diplomat. He worked on the translation of an unexpurgated version of One Thousand and One Nights. Also, Vikram and the Vampire or Tales of Hindu Devilry. Mind you, he was also the publisher of both Kama Sutra and The Perfume Garden. Philip Jose Farmer made him a primary character of the Riverworld series. (Died 1890.)
  • Born March 19, 1926 Joe L. Hensley. Long-time fan and writer who was a First Fandom “Dinosaur” (which meant he had been active in fandom prior to July 4, 1939), and received the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award in 2006. Very impressive! His first genre fiction sale was the short story “And Not Quite Human,” published in the September 1953 issue of Beyond Fantasy Fiction. His co-authors included Alexei Panshin and Harlan Ellison. Though he wrote nearly fifty pieces of short fiction, and much of that is not genre, he wrote just one genre novel, The Black Roads. (Died 2007.)
  • Born March 19, 1928 Patrick  McGoohan. Creator along with George Markstein of The Prisoner series in which he played the main role of Number Six. (The one and only Prisoner. I know it’s been remade but I refuse to admit it exists.) I’ve watched it at least several times down the years. It never gets any clearer but it’s always interesting and always weird.  Other genre credits do not include Danger Man but comprise a short list of The Phantom where he played The Phantom’s father, Treasure Planet where he voiced Billy Bones and Journey into Darkness where he was The Host of. (Died 2009.)
  • Born March 19, 1932 Gail Kobe. She has genre appearances with the more prominent being as Jessica Connelly in Twilight Zone’s “In His Image”, in another Twilight Zone episode as Leah Maitland in “The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross”, and two Outer Limits episodes, first as Janet Doweling in “Specimen, Unknown” and then as Janet in “The Keeper of the Purple Twilight”. (Died 2019.)
  • Born March 19, 1936 Ursula Andress, 87. I’m sure I’ve seen all of the original Bond films though I’ll be damned I remember where or when I saw them. Which is my way of leading up to saying that I don’t remember her in her roles as either as Honey Ryder in the very first Bond film, Dr. No, or as as Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale. Bond girls aren’t that memorable to me it seems. Hmmm… let’s see if she’s done any other genre work… well her first was The Tenth Victim based on Sheckley’s 1953 short story “Seventh Victim”. She also appeared in L’Infermiera, oops wrong genre, The Mountain of the Cannibal GodThe Fifth MusketeerClash of the Titans where she played of course Aphrodite, on the Manimal series, The Love Boat series and the two Fantaghirò films. 
  • Born March 19, 1945 Jim Turner. Turner was editor for Arkham House after the death of August Derleth, founder of that press. After leaving Arkham House for reasons that are not at all clear, he founded Golden Gryphon Press which published really lovely books until it went out of existence. (Died 1999.)
  • Born March 19, 1947 Glenn Close, 76. I had not a clue that she’d done genre-friendly acting. Indeed she has, with two of the most recent being Nova Prime in Guardians of The Galaxy, Topsy in Mary Poppins Returns and voicing Felicity Fox in the animated film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. Before those roles, she was Aunt Josephine in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Blue Mecha in A.I. Artificial Intelligence and Madeline Ashton in Death Becomes Her. Oh the latter is almost too weird in what it is. 
  • Born March 19, 1955 Bruce Willis, 68. (It’s very sad what’s happening to him.) So do any of the Die Hard franchise count as genre? Even setting them aside, he has a very long  genre list, to wit Death Becomes Her (yes another actor in it), 12 Monkeys (weird shit), The Fifth Element (damn great), Armageddon (eight tentacles down), The Sixth Sense (not at all bad), Sin City (typical Miller overkill) and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (yet more Miller overkill). 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) PLUNKING TOGETHER. In “Krissy and I Have a Band: Introducing OEMAA and ‘Parking Space’”, John Scalzi lets fans hear a driver’s overflowing white-hot rage when supply exceeds demand.  

…We agreed that we would form a punk band, whose musical theme would be venting furiously about the minor annoyances that beset ones such as ourselves, which is to say, comfortable middle-aged folks.

Fast forward to 2023, and right now, and I’m happy to announce that Krissy and I do, in fact, have a punk band in which we bemoan the inconveniences of the hugely privileged. We call ourselves OEMAA (pronounced “wee-ma”), which is an acronym for Outrageously Entitled Middle-Aged Assholes, and our first song, “Parking Space,” is the sonic blast of aggrievement emanating from the soul of a man in an SUV who sees the parking space he’s been hovering over get snapped up by another equally entitled jerk in a Lexus. Hell hath no fury like a dude in an SUV, missing out on a parking opportunity…

(11) INEXPLICABLE WRITING. Ryan George takes viewers inside the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Pitch Meeting.

With the first movie as well as the book series being massive international successes, Warner Bros was fast to get to work on adapting the second book in the Harry Potter series: The Chamber of Secrets. What adventures lay ahead for Harry Potter at his death trap of a magical high school?! People were anxious to see it play out on the big screen. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets definitely raises some questions though. Like why would Hogwarts hire Lockhart and why would he accept, knowing full well that he’s a fraud? Was the Whomping Willow really the best thing they could think of to put on school grounds? Why does the car have a mind of its own? Why did Hagrid send children off to speak to man-eating spiders in the most dangerous forest there is? How did Nearly Headless Nick get unpetrified? Is Fawkes the secret star of this movie?! To answer all these questions and more, step inside the Pitch Meeting that led to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets! It’ll be super easy, barely an inconvenience.

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Colonials debuts in select theaters on April 7 and on digital platforms on April 11.

On his mission from Mars, a space colonist’s ship is attacked by a Moon-based civilization and crash lands on Earth. Having lost his memory, he joins forces with a Resistance to save the galaxy from human extinction.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/10/23 Scrolls Are Here, Scrolls Are Here, Life Is Pixels And Life Is Bheer

(1) SPEAK MEMORY. The Guardian wonders, “Death of the narrator? Apple unveils suite of AI-voiced audiobooks”.

Apple has quietly launched a catalogue of books narrated by artificial intelligence in a move that may mark the beginning of the end for human narrators. The strategy marks an attempt to upend the lucrative and fast-growing audiobook market – but it also promises to intensify scrutiny over allegations of Apple’s anti-competitive behaviour.

The popularity of the audiobook market has exploded in recent years, with technology companies scrambling to gain a foothold. Sales last year jumped 25%, bringing in more than $1.5bn. Industry insiders believe the global market could be worth more than $35bn by 2030.

… Before the launch, one Canadian literary agent told the Guardian she did not see the value from both a literary or customer perspective.

“Companies see the audiobooks market and that there’s money to be made. They want to make content. But that’s all it is. It’s not what customers want to listen to. There’s so much value in the narration and the storytelling,” said Carly Watters….

(2) KELLY LINK Q&A. At Publishers Weekly: “Flights of Fancy: PW Talks with Kelly Link”.

What can contemporary fiction inject into the fairy tale?

Maybe psychological depth. Fairy tales depend on what the reader brings to them. The difference between fairy tales and myth is that Disney hardened our idea of certain stories so that a particular version of them becomes so codified that it replaces other possibilities of how that story could exist. I don’t think it’s great to let those stories exist in one form. People are constantly retelling them, and I think you need the rigid, popular version everyone knows for the weirder versions to have any power….

(3) DEADLINE EXTENDED. L.A. County high school students now have until January 23, 2023 to submit their sff short stories to The Tomorrow Prize & The Green Feather Award.

The Omega Sci-Fi Awards invites Los Angeles County high school students to submit their short science fiction stories to The Tomorrow Prize. The Tomorrow Prize encourages young writers to use sci-fi to explore the diverse issues humanity wrestles with, spark creative solutions, and unite the worlds of art and science.

The Green Feather Award co-presented by the Nature Nexus Institute, highlights an environmentally focused sci-fi story. We are seeking stories that integrate creative solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises.

For more details please see submission guidelines.

Selected finalists will be chosen to have their stories read in their honor by celebrity guests during the May 2023 Culminating Event.

First, Second, and Third place Tomorrow Prize winners will receive $250, $150, and $100 USD cash prizes.

The First place Tomorrow Prize winner will be published in L.A. Parent Magazine.

The Green Feather Award is a special prize for an environmentally focused sci-fi story. The winner will receive $250 USD & online publication by the Nature Nexus Institute.

(4) IN THE BEGINNING? Whatever presents “The Big Idea: Nancy Kress” about the premise to Observer, the novel she’s co-written with Robert Lanza.

…On the one hand, could science support the idea that consciousness creates the universe?  On the other hand, wasn’t this just recycled philosophy 101 according to Irish philosopher George Berkeley, among others?…

(5) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. English-language prozine Interzone is being published in Poland by MYY Press.

(6) A GREEN MAN, BUT NOT A LITTLE ONE. MeTV remembers the time “Ted Cassidy helped Gene Roddenberry play a prank behind the scenes on Star Trek”. Here’s the first part of the story:

The first-season Star Trek episode “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” has a few memorable things that stand out. It gives us our second evil duplicate Kirk of the series, we get some backstory for Majel Barrett’s nurse Chapel… but arguably what sticks in the minds of fans the most is Ted Cassidy as ominous android Ruk.

At this time, Ted Cassidy was fresh off the ending of The Addams Family where he enjoyed a regular role as Lurch, the family butler. In his book Star Trek Memories, William Shatner talks about how Cassidy was cast as the seven-foot-tall, menacing android. Prior to filming, Star Trek‘s makeup artist, Freddie Phillips asked Cassidy to come in for a makeup test.

“Cassidy sat down in Phillips’ undersized makeup chair and allowed the artist to transform him from a smiling young actor to an evil, hulking monster,” Shatner writes. “First Freddie covered Ted’s head with a latex skinhead wig; then he applied a sort of greyish-green base coat over Cassidy’s entire face. Once all that was done, Phillips darkened the area around each of the actor’s eyes and employed a black grease pencil to sharpen the angles of Ted’s cheekbones, forehead and chin. The end result was quite frightening and really served to drain all the humanity from Cassidy’s face.”…

(7) BOOK KEEPING. “Floods, Fires and Humidity: How Climate Change Affects Book Preservation” in the New York Times.

…Both immediate and long-term strategies are needed to keep books secure in changing environments, experts say, but some threats are more insidious than wildfires or hurricanes.

Shifts in temperature and humidity from climate change can have large consequences. Archivists and conservators in Cincinnati, for example, are worried about big temperature swings in a single day. Humidity is on the rise in Southern California, where the climate is historically dry; most preservation systems in the area aren’t designed to manage precipitation.

“The higher the humidity, the higher the temperature, the quicker they will break down their organic materials,” said Holly Prochaska, the interim head of the Archives and Rare Books Library at the University of Cincinnati. “Leather will wet rot. Collagen fibers in vellum will tighten and shrink.”…

Institutions like U.C.L.A. are developing ways to combat humidity to work in tandem with their climate-controlled stacks and collections rooms. Now, because of climate change, Metzger thinks twice before loaning out materials, which can keep history and knowledge under lock and key.

“Books gain meaning by use — use is exhibit, use is research — and there’s a beauty in use,” Metzger said. “If we just isolate things and keep them in these little, perfectly controlled environments with guards around them, what is their meaning anymore?”

One solution is digitization — scanning pages and storing them online. The process is not only an answer to climate change; it also allows for documents to be easily accessible and shared, broadening a collection’s reach. Adding documents to a server or the cloud, though, presents its own set of obstacles, both practical and environmental.

(8) SYLVIA RUCKER (1943-2023). Sylvia Bogsch Rucker, Rudy Rucker’s wife, died January 6. He pays tribute to her in “Sylvia’s Life”.

…Her curiosity never ended, even in her final days she wanted to know the details of everyone’s lives. This special attention made everyone feel loved. Her loving, warm, beautiful spirit will be deeply missed by all….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1926 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Pooh and food

We shall talk about Pooh and food. Well actually I believe that A.E. Milne only had one food that his round little bear found interesting to the point of obsession and that was honey. Honey, often spelled Hunny by Pooh, is as you know the ever so sweet food made by bees. 

It’s easily the most important food in the Winnie-the-Pooh works, being loved by pooh bears, heffalumps and woozles and also enjoyed by rabbits and piglets. 

Pooh even called it smackerel , which is to say a snack of a small amount of honey. Indeed In the very first chapter, Pooh tells us, “the only reason for making honey is so as I can eat it”.

And yes, actual bears do love honey. They’ll break open a tree to get at a wild hive inside a dead trunk eating the honey and bees alike. They particularly like the bee larvae. 

““When you wake up in the morning, Pooh” said piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

“It’s the same thing,” he said.”

The illustration is from the 1926 first edition with the art by E.A. Shepherd.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 10, 1904 Ray Bolger. The Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, the villainous Barnaby in Babes in Toyland, two appearances on Fantasy Island, andVector In “Greetings from Earth” on the Seventies version of Battlestar Galactica. He made a Dr. Pepper ad which you can see here. (Died 1987.)
  • Born January 10, 1937 Elizabeth Anne Hull. She served as the President of the Science Fiction Research Association and editor of its newsletter. She was a member of the panel for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best SF novel since 1986. With her husband Frederik Pohl, Hull edited the Tales from the Planet Earth anthology. She was also the editor of the Gateways: Original New Stories Inspired by Frederik Pohl anthology. She has co-authored three short stories with him, “Author Plus”, “The Middle Kingdom” and “Second Best Friend”. (Died 2021.)
  • Born January 10, 1944 William Sanderson, 79. I remember him best as J. F. Sebastian, the possibly insane genetic designer working for Tyrell in Blade Runner, but he’s had a career obviously after that film including appearing as Skeets in The Rocketeer, voicing Dr. Karl Rossum on Batman: The Animated Series, playing the character Deuce on Babylon 5 (a series I’ve watched through at least three times), E. B. Farnum on Deadwood (ok, it’s not genre, but it’s Will and Emma’s favorite show so let’s let it slide) and Sheriff Bud Dearborne on True Blood
  • Born January 10, 1944 Jeffrey Catherine JonesShe was an artist providing more than a hundred and fifty covers for many different types of genre books through mid seventies including the Ace paperback editions of the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser series including Swords Against Death. Among her work was also Flash Gordon for Charlton Comics in the Sixties and the Conan Saga for Marvel Comics in the late Eighties.  (Died 2011.)
  • Born January 10, 1947 George Alec Effinger. I’ve read his Marîd Audran series at least twice as it’s an amazing series in both the characters and the setting. I never read the short stories set in this setting until Golden Gryphon Press sent me Budayeen Nights for Green Man to review.  I don’t think I’ve ever encountered any of his other works. (Died 2002.)
  • Born January 10, 1959 Jeff Kaake, 64. He’s on the Birthday Honors list as he was Captain John Boon on the Space Rangers which lasted only six episodes. Damn. That was a fun show! He was also Thomas Cole on Viper which lasted four seasons. And he showed up in the Stormageddon film (which sounds like the name a Filer would give to a beloved  SJW Cred) as well. 
  • Born January 10, 1959 Fran Walsh, 64. Partner of Peter Jackson, she has contributed to all of his films since the late Eighties when she started out as co-writer of Meet the Feebles, and as producer since The Fellowship of the Ring which won a Hugo. Need I note the next two films won Hugos as well? The Hobbit films did not win Hugos.  The first one was nominated at LoneStarCon 3 but lost out to The Avengers; the other two were not nominated.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) TOTOPOTUS. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Miranda Parkin (@mparkinb) did this piece based on Season 2 of the HBO sci-fi comedy television series Avenue 5 (2020-):

(13) LOOK CLOSER. [Item by Jo Van.] Something tonight reminded me of the Deep Space Nine Documentary What We Left Behind, which I helped to crowd-fund back in 2017, and I was thinking, wait a minute, wasn’t there something about a posted acknowledgement of the contributors?

It took a foray into the Wayback Machine, but I found it… and there’s my name, down about where Sisko’s communicator would be.

(14) GAINING CREDENTIALS. Annalisa Barbieri tells the Guardian “What the love of cats taught me about myself”.

I never thought I’d kiss a cat. Or like them, or be in a room with them. Cats, to me, were evil and unpredictable. A classic projection, if ever I saw one, of fear manifesting as dislike. Intense fear. Intense dislike.

But then I became a mother and, as we all know, maternal love makes you do strange, selfless things occasionally. My children started asking for a cat. I said no, of course. My home was my safe place. No cats allowed. For some years they asked for a cat, on and off. Eventually, the “why we should get a cat” lists started getting toilet-roll long and I started thinking, maybe we can get a kitten. Kittens are cute. I started watching videos. Kittens were cute….

(15) BIG SIXTIES FINISH. Victoria Silverwolf wraps up a review of a famous anthology: “[January 10, 1968] Saving the Best For Last (Dangerous Visions, Part Three)” at Galactic Journey.

Welcome to the last of our three discussions about an anthology of original fantasy and science fiction that’s drawing a lot of attention. Love it or hate it, or maybe a little of both, it’s impossible to ignore….

(16) ALAS, POOR UNIVAC. Arturo Serrano brings us “Microreview [book]: Hamlet, Prince of Robots by M. Darusha Wehm” at Nerds of a Feather.

No longer the seat of Danish monarchy, Elsinore is now a corporation, a leading manufacturer of human-like robots. The murdered Hamlet senior was the Humanoid Artificial Mind (Learned Emotive Type), a model that represented a huge leap ahead in robotic innovation. Instead of a queen, Gertrude is a CEO, whose hopes for Elsinore’s bottom line now depend on the success of her latest creation, the Hamlet v.2. If the company doesn’t maintain dominance of the robot market, its (figurative) throne will be snatched by its main competitor, which is aggressively promoting a rival model, the Fortinbras. But one night, a portion of old code from Hamlet v.1 copies itself into the hard drive of Hamlet v.2, and a quest for revenge begins to take shape.

Everything’s better with robots, and a retelling of one of the biggest classics in the Western canon is a sure attention grabber….

(17) ON THE SHELF. Nerds of a Feather’s Paul Weimeralso asked the Hamlet author for recommendations in “Six Books with M. Darusha Wehm”.

1. What book are you currently reading?

I’ve had it on my shelf since it came out, but only just started The Book of Flora by Meg Elison. It’s the third and final book in the “Road to Nowhere” series, which starts with The Book of the Unnamed Midwife. The whole series is an incredible, post-apocalyptic saga of the struggles of communities in dark times. I’ve loved the two previous books in the series, but while the books offer stories of human resilience, they are also harrowing to read, so I’ve had to space them out in my reading time…. 

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In case you missed the Sixties we offer “The Complete 14 Batman Window Cameos”.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/2/20 The Television Will Not Be Revolutionized

(1) FLIGHT WORN ART. Artist Gregory Manchess tells how he designed the Dragon Crew One patch – and how he got the gig in the first place: “Mission Patch: Crew One” at Muddy Colors.

…Through a convoluted process of attending conventions and patiently waiting for the right timing, I’d met an astronaut who is a fan of science fiction. Kjell Lindgren, the year before, had opened the envelope to read one of the winners for the World Science Fiction convention in 2016. . .while floating in zero g at the space station.

The following year, Kjell (pronounced ‘Chell’) attended the WSF convention in Helsinki, which I attended, and I got to meet him. A year after that, I ran into him again at the same convention in Texas. I asked him about his next flight up and joked that I’d like to come along. He asked if I knew how to handle a robotic arm and I said, “Man, I can handle a brush. How could that be any harder?” I think he actually did a spit take on that one.

Then I asked him, seriously, who was doing their mission patch. Several conversations later, I found myself on a Skype call with Kjell, the mission commander, Mike “Hopper” Hopkins, and mission pilot, Victor “Ike” Glover.

One never knows when an opportunity may arise that can be taken advantage of. My timing was right and my enthusiasm authentic. A deadly combination for winning over clients….

(2) THE IMAGINATION DESK. The latest episode of the Center for Science and the Imagination’s podcast The Imagination Desk features an interview with science fiction author, editor, and researcher Regina Kanyu Wang. Here are direct links to the podcast, on the CSI website (which links out to the other services), Apple PodcastsSpotifyRadioPublic, and Libsyn

Regina Kanyu Wang is a science fiction writer, researcher, and critic from Shanghai. She is now based at the University of Oslo, where she is part of the CoFUTURES project. In this conversation, we talk about the Chinese science fiction scene, its fan culture, and gender politics in the genre, as well as insights on Regina’s own recent writing—including how she builds nuance and complexity into her portrayals of AI and other technologies.

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Priya Sharma and Justin C. Key on Wednesday, December 16, at 7 p.m. in a livestreamed event on YouTube. Link forthcoming. Listen to their podcast of readings here.

  • Priya Sharma

Priya Sharma is a short story writer whose collection All the Fabulous Beasts won a British Fantasy Award and a Shirley Jackson Award. Her first novella Ormeshadow from Tor won a Shirley Jackson Award. When she’s not writing she works as a doctor in the UK.

  • Justin C. Key


Justin C. Key is a speculative fiction writer and psychiatrist. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, Tor.com, Escape Pod, and Crossed Genres. His novella, Spider King, will be released by Serial Box in early 2021. He’s currently working on a near-future novel inspired by his medical training. He lives in Los Angeles.

(4) DON’T BEAM UP THE PLAGUE. “Captain Kirk calls out Alberta for not adopting federal tracing app” – Edmonton’s City News has the story.

It appears Captain Kirk is a fan of the federal COVID-19 tracing up and a critic of Alberta’s decision not to adopt it.

Canadian icon William Shatner, who played the famous Star Trek character, voiced his opinion on Twitter Wednesday, promoting the COVIDAlert app.

“Now you just need to get Alberta on board,” said Shatner. “I’ve heard that certain people have an issue with the app because they have their own app.”

The Public Health Agency of Canada responded to the tweet, thanking Shatner for promoting contact tracing.

(5) SEA SQUARED. Being a successful writer is a dream come true. Or is that a nightmare? “Jeff VanderMeer on the Saga of The Festival of the Freshwater Squid” at LitHub.

…The Ambergris books received a ton of critical acclaim, well beyond what one might expect for fictions centered around squid and mushroom people. They also sold well enough that a non-rabid, fairly polite fan base sprouted up around Ambergris.

In short, I wrote about the fantastical Festival of the Freshwater Squid for years without anything particularly odd happening. What did happen tended to fall into one of three categories.

Category the first. Dried squid. Tons of it. Acres of it. More dried squid than there are undried squid. Every year, without fail, people sent me dried squid in the mail. Never the same people, I must add, so this was not a stalkery situation, but merely an issue of proper methods of disposal. I don’t actually like to eat squid because having become an amateur squidologist, I know just how intelligent squid are and how likely it is that they would rule over us if they lived fifty years instead of two to four. But, of course, it’s the thought that counts, and the thought of receiving bags and bags of dried squid for the rest of my life might’ve been disturbing, but it was also a testament to the power of Ambergris. (Ironically, I never received any ambergris in the mail.)…

(6) THREE MORE FOR YOUR TBR. Because why would you only read the first book after seeing this pitch? “Kelly Link: Why You Should Read This Classic Trilogy” in LitHub.

…At the heart of the Deptford Trilogy is a set of mysteries. There is the question of whether the woman struck in the head by the snowball may or may not be, afterward and as a consequence, a saint capable of raising the dead and other miracles. Tied to this is the question of the peculiar death of a man named Boy Staunton. At the end of Fifth Business, a clue is offered by a Brazen Head, which floats above a stage. “He was killed by the usual cabal,” it says. But the cabal of characters here and in Fifth Business’s sequels is anything other than usual. It is, in fact, an extraordinary cabal and unlike any you are likely to encounter in novels less bold in their scope. Davies has the scalpel-like acuity of a mystery novel sleuth who has been invited to attend a birthday party and for his own entertainment proceeds to pin down the secret desires, transgressions, and petty misdeeds of each guest. In fact, part of the strangeness and originality of Fifth Business is that, in the moment where a clue is offered by the Brazen Head, it becomes apparent that we are reading a mystery novel in reverse order. First, we are given a leisurely and pleasurable introduction to a cast of disreputable, eccentric characters along with their motivations, opportunities, and confessions. Then, as the book draws to its end, we arrive with a jolt at the moment when a body is discovered under the most perplexing circumstances. Afterward, rather than being given a solution, we are briskly shown out of the novel by its narrator.

(7) PRESERVE TOLKIEN’S HOME. The stars are aligning to make sure one of Tolkien’s homes meets a better fate than, say, Ray Bradbury’s. The goal is to establish a literary center there: “Lord of the Rings Cast Reunite to Buy $6 Million Home of Author J.R.R. Tolkien” reports People. The Tolkien Estate is not involved.

Lord of the Rings stars Sir Ian McKellen and John Rhys-Davies are embarking on another epic adventure.

Rather than crossing Middle Earth to battle the evil forces of Sauron, however, the British actors have joined a fellowship to save 20 Northmoor Road, the Oxford house in which J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, in advance of it being put on the market by realtors Breckon & Breckon.

The initiative, called Project Northmoor, starts crowdfunding on December 2 and hopes to raise $6 million to purchase the home and create a literary center in honor of Tolkien. It is also supported by The Hobbit star, Martin Freeman.

…”This is just an opportunity that can’t be ignored,” John Rhys-Davies, who played Gimli and voiced Treebeard in the films, tells PEOPLE from his self-isolation in a New Zealand hotel.

“If people are still reading in 1,000 years, Tolkien will be regarded as one of the great myth-makers of Britain and it will be evident within a matter of years that not to secure this place would have been such an act of arrogance and ignorance and folly on our part.”

The donation site is here: “Project Northmoor – Save Tolkien’s Home”.

J.R.R. and Edith Tolkien moved into 20 Northmoor Road with their young family in 1930. Over the next 17 crucial years the house was the heart of the Tolkien home. It was here that J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, which he had begun as a bedtime story for his children, and followed that with another unexpected journey. That book became The Lord of the Rings.

(8) KEAYS-BYRNE OBIT. Boing Boing reports “Hugh Keays-Byrne, of Mad Max fame, dead at 73”

(9) MORE ABOUT BOVA. Ben Bova’s son commemorated his late father in this Facebook profile: “Ben Bova, by his son. Benjamin William Bova”.

… Widely read, Dr. Bova would delight in reciting entire poems of, say, Rudyard Kipling, or the songs of Cole Porter on occasion. He would acknowledge the most esoteric pun or obscure reference with a groan or a wry grin. He could – as he often did during writing breaks – with pen and sans eraser, complete entire New York Times crossword puzzles in the time it takes to finish a lunch cup of yoghurt. Words were his tools; his memory and imagination, his toolbox. And his two pointing fingers – he never used his entire set of fingers to write, the hammers that pounded first the typewriter keys and then, when it was invented, the home computer to conceive and mold a good story….

(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 1995 – Twenty-five years ago Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Forgiveness Day,” published in the November 1994 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction, would win the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. The other nominees were Maureen F. McHugh’s “Nekropolis” and Michael Bishop’s “Cri de Coeur”.  It would also win a Locus Award for Best Novella. It was last published in The Found and the Lost: The Collected Novellas of Ursula K. Le Guin on Saga Press which is available in print and digital editions.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 2, 1913 – Jerry Sohl.  Fourteen novels, two dozen shorter stories for us, other work including television, film, a chess book and a bridge book.  Title of posthumous collection Filet of Sohl not his fault.  (Died 2002)  [JH]
  • Born December 2, 1914 Ray Walston. Best remembered, of course, for playing the lead in My Favorite Martian from 1963 to 1966, alongside co-star Bill Bixby. Before that, played the Devil in Damn Yankees. His later genre appearances would include The Wild Wild WestMission: ImpossibleSix Million Dollar ManGalaxy of TerrorAmazing Stories, PopeyeFriday the 13th: The Series and Addams Family Reunion.   He would appear in The Incredible Hulk (in which David Banner was played by Bill Bixby) as Jasper the Magician in an episode called “My Favorite Magician”. (Died 2001.) (CE) 
  • Born December 2, 1929 – Lael Littke, age 91.  Two novels, a dozen shorter stories for us; she has published forty books, six dozen shorter stories, including Ellery Queen’sLadies Home JournalSeventeen.  “The trick is to recognize a good idea when it sweeps by.”  [JH]
  • Born December 2, 1937 – Brian Lumley, age 83.  Eight Cthulhu novels, a score of shorter stories (“My guys fight back.  Also, they like to have a laugh along the way”); two dozen more novels including Necroscope best-sellers, ten dozen more shorter stories, three dozen poems.  World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement.  [JH]
  • Born December 2, 1946 David Macaulay, 74. British-born American illustrator and writer who is genre adjacent I’d say. Creator of such cool works as CathedralThe New Way Things Work which has he updated for the computer technology age, and I really like one of latest works, Crossing on Time: Steam Engines, Fast Ships, and a Journey to the New World. (CE) 
  • Born December 2, 1946 Josepha Sherman. Writer and folklorist who was a Compton Crook Award winner for The Shining Falcon which was based on the Russian fairy tale “The Feather of Finist the Falcon”. She was a prolific writer both on her own and with other writer such as Mecedes Lackey with whom she wrote A Cast of Corbies and two Buffyverse novels with Laura Anne Gilman.   I knew her personally as a folklorist first and that is she was without peer writing such works as Rachel the Clever: And Other Jewish Folktales and  Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts: The Subversive Folklore of Childhood that she wrote with T K F Weisskopf.  Neat lady who died far too soon. Let me leave you with an essay she wrote on Winter for Green Man twenty years ago: “Josepha Sherman’s Winter Queen Speech”  (Died 2012.) (CE)
  • Born December 2, 1952 OR Melling, 68. One of her favorite authors is Alan Garner whose The Owl Service is a frequent read of hers she tells me. As for novels by her that I’d recommend, the Chronicles of Faerie series is quite excellent. For more adult fare, her People of the Great Journey is quite good. (CE)
  • Born December 2, 1954 – Laura Underwood, age 66.  Nine novels, eighty shorter stories.  Here is her cover for Bradley Sinor’s Dark & Stormy Nights.  [JH]
  • Born December 2, 1968 Lucy Liu, 52. She was Joan Watson on Elementary in its impressive seven-year run. Her other genre role, and it’s been long running, has been voicing Tinkermist in the Disney Fairies animated franchise. I kid you not. She’s had a few genre one-offs on The X-FilesHercules: The Legendary Journeys and the Rise: Blood Hunter film, but not much overall haughty she did show up in Luke Cage. (CE) 
  • Born December 2, 1971 Frank Cho, 49. Writer and illustrator, best remembered  as creator of the let excellent  Liberty Meadows series as well as work on HulkMighty Avengers and Shanna the She-Devil for Marvel Comics, and Jungle Girl for Dynamite Entertainment. I recommend the Frank Cho Art Book from Delcourt as being a superb look at his work. CE)
  • Born December 2, 1976 – Kate Milford, age 44.  Eight novels, another due next February.  Has read A Canticle for LeibowitzPoems of Ambrose Bierce, Borges’ Ficciones, and Serve It Forth.  She very frankly says “I update this site sometimes.”  [JH]
  • Born December 2, 1980 – Leander Deeny, age 40.  One novel by this man whom someone wants us to know was in the BBC series Merlin and the Captain America film The First Avenger.  He likes whisky, cookery, falconry, and another thing I keep forgetting.  [JH]

(12) ALIEN REAL ESTATE. “Netflix Reveals What Mysterious ‘Alien Worlds’ May Look Like” – let the Daily Beast fill you in.

Netflix is brimming with outlandish out-of-this-world genre fare, but the streaming giant’s latest docuseries, Alien Worlds, puts the science back in science fiction. Imagining what life might be like on distant planets, producer Nigel Paterson’s four-episode endeavor utilizes what we know about biology and civilization on Earth to speculate about extraterrestrial existence—a mix of knowledge and conjecture that’s echoed by its form, which marries nature documentary footage from around the globe with inventive CGI panoramas of bizarre landscapes and creatures. The result is a fantastical—and fascinating—intergalactic version of Planet Earth.

In light of that structure, it’s only natural that Alien Worlds (premiering Dec. 2) boasts its own David Attenborough-like narrator: acclaimed English actress Sophie Okonedo, who imparts surprising and enlightening facts about Earth’s varied ecosystems—and surmises about what that could mean for life elsewhere—with sonorous, import-laden gravity….

(13) RETURN OF THE TOASTMAKER. Food Network ran a listicle about the “12 Best Star Wars Kitchen Tools”. This is the kind of thing we’re talking about – aren’t you glad these helmets are good for something?

Star Wars Storm Trooper Toaster

$49.95 

WILLIAMS SONOMA

We’re willing to bet that this is the fiercest toaster you’ve ever laid eyes on. It’s shaped like a Stormtrooper’s helmet, but that doesn’t stop it from perfectly preparing your toast. The slots are extra-wide in order to accommodate different types of bread, and features a removable crumb tray for easy cleaning.

(14) CREDENTIAL HEALTH CHECK. Michael Toman sent this link with a reassuring note: “Nope, I’m definitely NOT suggesting ‘Cats Throw Up on SF’ as a new photo contest category for File 770!” Anyway, it’s Mental Floss’ fault that we’re wondering “Why Do Cats Throw Up So Often?”

And y’know, maybe I’ll forego putting an excerpt here.

(15) A MATCH MADE IN HELL. Ryan Reynolds calls it “A Love Story for the ages. Or at least this age.”

(16) I’M PIXELING MY SCROLL FOR THE MISTY MOUNTAINS. Another reason to remember today’s date, on December 2, 1971 Led Zeppelin released ”Misty Mountain Hop” as a single in the US.

The most common interpretation of the song’s title involves a reference to the Misty Mountains in J. R. R. Tolkien‘s The Hobbit.

(17) BOMBS AWAY. While tuned in to tonight’s Jeopardy, Andrew Porter saw these efforts to score during Final Jeopardy:

Novel Characters.

Answer: This character from an 1851 novel “was intent on an audacious, immitigable, and supernatural revenge.”

Wrong questions: “Who is Frankenstein?” “Who is The Count of Monte Cristo?”

Correct question: “Who is Captain Ahab?”

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Franz Kafka’s It’s A Wonderful Life” on YouTube is a short film, written and directed by Peter Capaldi, that was originally broadcast on BBC Scotland in 1993.  The film, starring Richard E. Grant as Kafka, really is a variation on Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life, and earned Capaldi an Oscar for Best Short Film–Live Action in 1995.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Arnie Fenner, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Rob Thornton, Alan Baumler, Olav Rokne, Contrarius, Mike Kennedy, Dann, Steve Davidson, Sean Wallace, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 7/18/20 Scrollhenge, Where The Pixels Dwell, Where The Filers Live, And We Do Live Well

(1) CLARION ZOOMS THROUGH THE SUMMER. Join the Clarion Conversations, a series of Zoom-based conversations about writing speculative fiction “with a just tiny fraction of the amazingly talented Clarion alumni, instructor, and broader community.” RSVP each conversation via the links below:

Editing Speculative Fiction and Poetry – July 22, 5pm PT / 8pm ET (register here)

This week, our guests are John Joseph Adams, Ruoxi Chen, and Brandon O’Brien, moderated by Theodore McCombs. We’ll be discussing the state of publishing speculative fiction and poetry and how these three editors approach their work.

Holly Black and Kelly Link in Conversation – July 29, 5pm PT / 8pm ET (register here)

For our final week, we’re thrilled to have the incredible Holly Black and Kelly Link in conversation about craft, community, surviving as a writer, and what Clarion has meant to them.

(2) GIBSON Q&A. CNET has questions: “Future shocks past and present: William Gibson on fiction’s fear of tech”.

…”In my early teens, I assumed science fiction was about the future,” Gibson says of his days reading writers like Robert Heinlein. “But it was about how the future looked to Robert Heinlein in 1942, which was very different to how the future looked to him in 1960. By the time I began to write science fiction, I took it for granted that what I was doing was writing about the present.”

(3) FROG FLAVORED CANDY? “A ‘Mandalorian’ PEZ Dispenser Gift Set Is Coming And It Will Be An Instant Collectable”Delish heralds the news.

…The Baby Yoda dispenser comes in a set along with a Mandalorian dispenser and grape, lemon, and strawberry PEZ candy. The new Harry Potter dispensers are already available on the PEZ site, but the Mandalorian candy set is not, so it’s unclear when exactly these will be available online or if they’ll be available in stores as well.

(4) MUSLIM SFF WRITERS PROFILED. Aysha Kahn of the Religion News Service has a piece about the rising number of Muslims writing sf and fantasy, citing the works of G. Willow Wilson, Saladin Ahmed, and S.A. Chakraborty. “Through sci-fi and fantasy, Muslim women authors are building new worlds”.

In the past few years, Muslim women have quietly taken the speculative fiction publishing industry by storm, earning rave reviews with fantasy and science fiction narratives that upend both the genre’s historic lack of diversity and popular depictions of women and Islam.

Last year alone, mainstream publishing houses released at least 13 fantasy and sci-fi books written by Muslim women in English, from Farah Naz Rishi’s debut “I Hope You Get This Message” to Karuna Riazi’s middle-grade novel “The Gauntlet.”

At least another dozen, including sequels to Hafsah Faizal’s instant New York Times bestseller “We Hunt the Flame” and Somaiya Daud’s award-winning “Mirage,” are in the works….

(5) LEADING WITH A TRAILER. Yahoo! Entertainment says a new series scored a two-fer: “The New Mutants gets a new trailer and a virtual Comic-Con panel”.

(6) LEWIS OBIT. Civil Rights legend Rep. John Lewis died died July 17 of cancer.

…His passion for equal rights was backed by a long record of action that included dozens of arrests during protests against racial and social injustice.

A follower and colleague of Martin Luther King Jr., he participated in lunch counter sit-ins, joined the Freedom Riders in challenging segregated buses and — at the age of 23 — was a keynote speaker at the historic 1963 March on Washington.

When Rep. John Lewis and Andrew Aydin wrote a graphic novel trilogy March about the Civil Rights Movement, Lewis went to Comic-Con to promote it.

All three March books were Eisner Award nominees — the second and third volumes won the award (2016, 2017). Lewis received San Diego Comic-Con’s Inkpot Award in 2017.

(7) SUSAN SHAW OBIT. The Guardian profiled technology preservationist Susan Shaw, who died June 13 at age 88.

Founder of the Type Archive dedicated to rescuing the remains of the letterpress printing industry

In 1970 the price of lead went through the roof, and the art, craft and industry of letterpress printing, essentially unchanged for five centuries, became suddenly vulnerable. Property speculators, rival technologies and alternative media all threatened a world dependent on precision engineering and subtle manual skill. To Susan Shaw, who has died aged 87, this was a challenge to which she devoted the rest of her life, and in 1992 she founded the Type Museum (now the Type Archive) in Stockwell, south London, to rescue the remains of the dying industry.

In that year, the Monotype Corporation, pioneers of the leading type-composition system, went into liquidation. Susan went to Salfords, near Redhill, Surrey, where the Monotype factory was, saw the size of the plant, and planned to take it over. She chatted up the owners of a 1900 industrial complex near her home in Stockwell, and persuaded them to sell it to a trust set up for the purpose, borrowing the money.

The main building had been a veterinary hospital, with floors solid enough to support circus elephants, and now heavier stuff. She next organised the transport of plant, keyboards, casting machines and associated equipment, together with all the records of the corporation worldwide, altogether several hundred tons. She called its transport and reinstallation Operation Hannibal, and an elephant became her trademark.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • July 18, 2006 Eureka premiered on the Sci-Fi Channel. In syndication, it was renamed A Town Called Eureka. It was created by Andrew Cosby who was responsible for the rebooted Hellboy film and Jaime Paglia who’s executive producer of the current Flash series. No, it doesn’t tie into the CW continuity but it did tie-in to the Warehouse 13 reality. It would last six seasons and seventy episodes with an additional eight web episodes forming the “Hide and Seek” story as well. The large ensemble cast included Colin Ferguson, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Joe Morton, Debrah Farentino, Jordan Hinson, Ed Quinn, Erica Cerra, Neil Grayston, Niall Matter, Matt Frewer, Tembi Locke and James Callis. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 18, 1896 – Otto Gail (rhymes with “pile”).  Science journalist and author; among the most popular German 1920s SF authors.  Member of the German Interplanetary Society, knew Oberth and Valier.  Five technologically realistic novels for us including juveniles, five nonfiction including a 20-booklet series.  (Died 1956) [JH]
  • Born July 18, 1913 Red Skelton. Comedian of the first order. The Red Skelton Hour ran for three hundred and thirty-eight episodes.  He’s here because ISFDB says he wrote A Red Skelton in Your Closet which was also called Red Skelton’s Favorite Ghost Stories. He also has cameos in Around the World in Eighty Days and Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, both of which I consider genre adjacent. (Died 1997.) (CE)
  • Born July 18, 1913 Marvin Miller. He is remembered for being the voice of Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet. He would reprise that role myriad times in the next few decades in such films and series as The Invisible Boy, the Lost in Space series and Gremlins. (Died 1985.) (CE) 
  • Born July 18, 1921 – John Glenn.  In fact he never liked science fiction, or what he knew of it, perhaps thinking, in a reverse of James Bond, “It lives better than it reads”.  First-rate US Marines pilot (6 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 18 Air Medals); first supersonic flight across the US; only person to fly in both the Mercury and Space Shuttle programs; six terms as US Senator (Democrat – Ohio); flew on the Discovery at age 77 to help study Space and human age.  NASA Distinguished Service Medal, US Astronaut Hall of Fame, Congressional Gold Medal, Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Memoir, John Glenn.  (Died 2016) [JH]
  • Born July 18, 1938 Paul Verhoeven, 82. Responsible for Starship TroopersTotal Recall, Hollow Man and Robocop. He’s made the short list for the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation three times (Starship TroopersTotal Recall and Robocop) but was not won it. (CE)
  • Born July 18, 1943 Charles G. Waugh, 77. Anthologist who is amazingly prolific. I count over two hundred anthologies, most done with co-anthologists, and many done with Martin Greenberg. Oft times a third anthologist would be listed, i.e. Poul Anderson for Terrorists of Tomorrow, or Isaac Asimov for Isaac Asimov’s Wonderful Worlds of Science Fiction series. (CE)
  • Born July 18, 1950 – Jay Kinney, 70.  Bijou Funnies with R. Crumb, Jay Lynch, Skip Williamson.  Hasn’t published his fanzine in a while, but here is a cover for Chunga (L to R, Hooper, Byers, juarez); here is a wise comment; here is his Clinic of Cultural Collison (noting Vaughan Bodé, who died on this day, 1975; name shared by Tex Jarman’s Uncle Bodie); here is “Welcome to the Late Show” for the Eagles.  Letters in Banana WingsRaucous Caucus (Relapse has, alas, relapsed).  [JH]
  • Born July 18, 1963 – Sue Mason, 57.  Standing for TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) she called herself “gamer, filker, costumer, dealer, apahack” modestly omitting she’s among our best fanartists.  She won; we must’ve forgiven her.  Ten covers, two hundred interiors, for AttitudeBanana WingsBentoChallengerIdeaQuasiQuoteTwink.  Eight Nova Awards as Best Fanartist, two Hugos. Part of the PLOKTA Cabal (PLOKTA = Press Lots Of Keys To Abort, the Journal of Superfluous Technology).  Guest of Honor at Eastercon 55 (British nat’l convention), Minicon 38.  MC’d the Masquerade costume competition at Intersection the 53rd Worldcon.  Artwork for Aussiecon 4 the 68th Worldcon.  Doc Weir service award.  Rotsler Award, later judge.  [JH]
  • Born July 18, 1966 Paul Cornell, 54. Author of both the Shadow Police series and the Witches of Lychford novella series which are quite excellent as well as writing a lot of television scripts for Doctor Who, Primeval and Robin Hood. He was part of the regular panel of the SF Squeecast podcast which won two Hugo Awards for Best Fancast. And he scripted quite a bit of the Captain Britain and MI: 13 comic series as well — very good stuff indeed. (CE)
  • Born July 18, 1972 – Eve Marie Mont, 48.  Time-travel tales send highschooler Emma Townsend into worlds she met in fiction, A Breath of EyreA Touch of ScarletA Phantom Enchantment.  “I shouldn’t love Rochester [in Jane Eyre]… dark, arrogant, moody, mistakes in his life that are seriously hard to overlook….  I teach high school, and the teens I know are a far cry from the ones portrayed in the media….  It’s that sense of wonder and possibility in YA literature that really excites me.”  Sponsors her school’s literary magazine.  [JH]
  • Born July 18, 1982 Priyanka Chopra, 38. As Alex Parrish in Quantico, she became the first South Asian to headline an American network drama series. Is it genre? Maybe, maybe not, though it could fit into a Strossian Dark State. Some of her work in her native India such as The Legend of Drona and Love Story 2050 is genre as Krrish 3, an Indian SF film she was in. She’s got a major role in the forthcoming Matrix 4 film. (CE)
  • Born July 18, 1990 – Kyle Muntz, 30.  Five novels, poetry (is poetry fiction?), two shorter stories, dark-fantasy game The Pale City (also the name of his Website).  Sparks Prize.  Interviewed in Lightspeed.  Has read two translations of Tu Fu (or, if you prefer, Du Fu), ranks them well above Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  By turns impish and sinister.  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) SUMMERTIME. Six critics lavish affection on “My Favorite Summer Blockbuster” in the New York Times. Lots of genre – you’re not surprised, are you? And it’s not all Marvel – though I was less impressed to see someone reach back in time for this film once I saw the call-out for its availability on the new Disney+ service.

Monica Castillo: ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’

Little was conventional about Robert Zemeckis’s 1988 film, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” which helped make it the highest-grossing film that summer and the year’s second top box office draw (behind “Rain Man”). This seedy drawing of Tinseltown took inspiration from film noir, and its story was set in the golden age of Hollywood studios, many of which were then in decline….

(12) COMPLAINT DEPT. But meanwhile, back in the U.K. — “‘Joker’ Tops U.K. List of Most Complained About Films in 2019, but Can’t Beat ‘The Dark Knight’”.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has confirmed Todd Phillips’ R-rated comic book drama “Joker” was the most complained about movie in the United Kingdom last year. The BBFC’s annual report has “Joker” topping the list of most complained about films with 20 complaints filed in regards to the movie’s age 15 classification.

The majority of complaints against “Joker” argued the film should’ve received an age 18 rating due to “violence and tone,” while a select few said the BBFC should’ve banned the movie altogether. The BBFC defended the age 15 rating for “Joker” because the film “doesn’t dwell on the infliction of pain or injury in a manner that requires an 18.”…

(13) SPEAK, MEMORY. In “Sleeping Next To An Elephant”, The Hugo Book Club Blog weighs in on a Best Novel finalist.

It’s often said in Canada that living next to the United States is like sleeping with an elephant:  affected by every twitch and grunt. It’s a phrase that came to mind when reading Arkady Martine’s debut A Memory Called Empire, a sprawling and richly imagined novel about hegemony and loss of culture.

Set in the capital city of the vast Teixcalaanli interstellar empire, A Memory Called Empire follows Mahit Dzmare the new ambassador from the much smaller Lsel Stationer Republic as she investigates the murder of her predecessor and navigates a political crisis that could spell disaster for both nations.

Martine has delivered one of the most Asimovian science fiction novels we’ve read in recent memory, while making the narrative uniquely her own. 

(14) VIRTUAL STAGE PLAY. Otherworld Theatre, Chicago’s premier science fiction and fantasy theatre will present Of Dice And Men – A Play about Dungeons and Dragons on their YouTube page on July 31 and will remain available for free until August 14, at which point it will move to Otherworld’s Patreon page. Tickets are FREE and can be obtained from Eventbrite or by subscribing to Otherworld’s YouTube page here.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Let’s Work Together” on YouTube is a new collaboration between William Shatner and Canned Heat, which will be one track on a new blues album Shatner will release this fall.

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