Salt Lake City Bids for 2024 Westercon

By Kevin Standlee: A Salt Lake City-based group has announced a write-in bid to host the 2024 West Coast Science Fantasy Conference (Westercon 76). If selected, they plan to host Westercon 76 at the Doubletree by Hilton SLC Airport over the weekend of July 4-7, 2024. The election to choose the site of Westercon 76 will be held at Westercon 74 in Tonopah, Nevada over the weekend of July 1-4, 2022, with voting closing on July 2. There are no bids on the ballot, nor do there appear to be any other candidates vying to host Westercon 76.

The Utah in 2024 Westercon bid is led by Chair Charles R. Galway and Treasurer Cheryl A. Sneddon. Both have experience with the Salt Lake City-area convention CONduit and other volunteer events ranging from CONduit to Westercon and larger non-genre events. They are in the process of finalizing their bid filing with Westercon 74 in Tonopah, and they expect to file their bid before the close of voting at Westercon 74. Representatives of the bid will be at Westercon 74 in Tonopah to answer questions.

No bids filed by the deadline to appear on the ballot for the 2024 site selection election. Under Westercon rules, groups may file as write-in bids until the close of voting. Any site that files the necessary documents required by the Westercon Bylaws can be selected through the election process at Westercon. Should no validly-filed bid win the election, the Westercon Business Meeting can select a committee. If the Business Meeting is unable to select a committee, the selection of the site falls to the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, owners of the Westercon service mark.

The Site Selection election at Westercon 74 to select the site of the 2024 Westercon will be held on the first two days of Westercon 74 in Tonopah, Nevada. Westercon 74 will be held July 1-4, 2022 at the Tonopah Convention Center and area hotels. The Westercon 74 website is http://westercon74.org/. Voting to select the site of Westercon 74 will close at 7 PM Pacific Daylight Time on July 2, 2022. All supporting or attending members of Westercon 74 are eligible to vote, although due to the deadline for advance voting by mail, votes will need to be cast at Westercon 74.

Any member of Westercon 74 in Tonopah can vote in the election to choose the site of the 2024 Westercon upon payment of a $20 voting fee, which entitles the voter to at least a supporting membership in the 2024 Westercon. Information about the 2024 Site Selection election is available at the Westercon 74 website here. There is no electronic voting, and voting fees may not be paid by credit card. Members unable to attend Westercon 74 in person may arrange for other persons to deliver their ballots on their behalf to the Site Selection voting desk at Westercon 74 in Tonopah.

Anyone who joins Westercon 74 as a Supporting member by June 25, 2022 will also have access to the convention’s Virtual Program, http://westercon74.org/whats-on/programming/virtal-program/. To register as a member of Westercon 74, see the convention’s registration page here. Advance registration for Westercon 74 ends at the end of the day on June 25.

Westercon Site Selection is governed by the Westercon Bylaws, which are available online here.
The results of 2024 Westercon Site Selection voting will be announced at the Westercon 74 Business Meeting on Sunday, July 3 at 11 AM PDT in the Tonopah Convention Center. Should no eligible bid win the election, the Westercon Business Meeting can select a committee under the provisions of the Westercon Bylaws.

Get Ready for the 2022 Westercon in Tonopah

“What’s On?” gives a preview of Westercon 74, to be held July 1-4 in Tonopah, NV. Chair Kevin Standlee reports the con currently has 320 members. The guests of honor are Kevin Andrew Murphy and Myrna Donato.

Kevin says:

For the benefit of people who don’t have time to read through the entire progress report or search around the website, we have updated our What’s On page to give people a better idea of what will be happening at Westercon 74 and when. With the doors opening at 10 AM on Friday, July 1 and the final scheduled item being the Alien Autopsy Party (scheduled to end just before Midnight on Monday, July 4), and with the Convention Center open around-the-clock the entire time in between — none of this “it’s 6 PM, get out” stuff we’ve sometimes faced at other facilities — I suggest anyone who wants the full experience of the “Wild, Wild Westercon” to arrive at least the day before and not plan to leave until July 5.

The convention just sent out Progress Report 5 (a free download).

Did you know Westercon has an online component?

  • There will be online programming starting at 8 AM each day of the convention including Friday.
  • Online programming is available to all members, including supporting members. Information on how to access online programming will be sent to all members who have registered an email address with the convention closer to the convention dates.

The online program’s list of international participants is impressive! Lauren Beukes, Mike Carey, Ashraf Fagih, Fábio Fernandes, Stark Holborn, Lucy Holland, Cristina Jurado, Ken MacLeod, Juliet E. McKenna, Cheryl Morgan, Noura Al Noman, Gareth L. Powell, and Adrian Tchaikovsky.

The in-person side includes John Hertz running two “Classics of Science Fiction” items.

Classics of Science Fiction

By John Hertz: We’ll discuss two Classics of Science Fiction at Westercon LXXIV, one discussion each. Come to one or both as you like. You’ll be welcome to join in.

Our working definition of a classic  is “A work that survives its own time. After the currents that might have sustained it have changes, it remains, and is seen to be worthwhile for itself.” If you have a better definition, bring it.

Each work is famous in a different way. Each may be more interesting now than when first published Have you read them? Have you re-read them?

  • The Door Into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein (1956). If you don’t know who Petronius Arbiter was, it wouldn’t hurt you to look him up. That’s what Dan named his cat, so you’ll learn something about Dan. There’s plenty going on. You’ll meet people coming and going. Please don’t worry about whether the year 2000 really turned out this way. Carl Sagan said our book was tautly constructed; that matters. So does the title.
  • Judgment Night by C.L. Moore (1943). Poetry. Combat. A Galactic Empire. Rebellion. An Amazon. Throughout all, the author manages an almost palpable sense of inevitability; as things happen, you knew that they would — a tribute to her vision and narration. A.J. Budrys called our book an Astounding tour de force. So it is.

Pixel Scroll 4/26/22 I Don’t Want A Pixel. I Just Wanna Scroll On My Motorcycxel

(1) WANT TO HOST A WESTERCON? The 2024 con has no takers at the moment: “Westercon 76 Site Selection Open; No Bids Filed by Deadline” reports Westercon 74 chair Kevin Standlee.

No group filed a bid by the April 15, 2022 deadline to host Westercon 76 (the 2024 West Coast Science Fantasy Conference). Bids can still file up until the close of voting (7 PM PDT, July 2, 2022) to be eligible as a write-in bid to win the election.

Site Selection voting is now open. See our Site Selection page for more information and to download a ballot. The ballot will also be distributed to members as part of Progress Report 5, scheduled for publication sometime in May.

Meanwhile, the fate of the 2023 event, Westercon 75, is still up in the air, too.

Note that no bid was selected to host Westercon 75 (the 2023 Westercon) at last year’s convention, but a committee was formed to attempt to find a group to host the convention. As of now, no groups have come forward prepared to host Westercon 75. It is likely that the determination of arrangements for both Westercons 75 and 76 will be up to the members of Westercon at this year’s Business Meeting. If the Business Meeting is unable to make a decision, the determination of arrangements for Westercon will be left up to the board of directors of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, owners of the Westercon service mark.

(2) REGENERATE YES, REINCARNATE NO. A RadioTimes.com poll shows “Doctor Who fans want new actor, not David Tennant, as 14th Doctor”.

…However, in the comments, viewers were quick to make clear they would like Tennant back for cameos and guest appearances, with one respondent saying: “Love David and I’d be more than happy to see him back in the role as many times as possible- that fits the story, more than happy for cameos or a special but I think it would be best to stick to someone else for a full series.”…

(3) WANT STORIES ABOUT DEMOCRACY. Omenana Speculative Fiction Magazine is looking for 15 speculative short stories that explore the theme “Positive Visions of Democracy”. Full details at the link. “Call for submissions from artists and writers for special edition of Omenana Speculative Fiction Magazine”. Stories should be centred around an African experience and can be set anywhere in a near or far future, other place, other world. If you can imagine it, let’s see it. Submission deadline is April 30.

As we put pen to paper, it was literally raining coups in Africa.

From Sudan to Mali, from Burkina Faso to Equatorial Guinea to Niger, one hears either of violent truncation of government or an attempt at seizing the reins of power by gun wielding soldiers who purport to act for the greater good of the country. 

Democracy, the system of governance that best serves the interest of the individual by allowing them a say in who governs them and how they are governed, is in peril. With this backdrop, Omenana Speculative Fiction Magazine in partnership with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) – a US-based non-governmental organisation that works to strengthen democracy – is calling for submissions for a special themed edition that explores positive visions of democracy.

(4) LITERARY LADDERSHIP FOR EMERGING AFRICAN AUTHORS. “Nigerian Author Suyi Davies Okungbowa Endows Fellowship for Emerging African Authors”Brittle Paper has the story. See full details at the African Author Literary Laddership website. Applications open May 4 and close May 31.

African writers in the early stages of their career are invited to apply for the “Literary Ladder Fellowship for Emerging African Authors.”

The fellowship is an initiative of Nigerian novelist Suyi Davies Okungbowa, author of the acclaimed novels Son of the Storm and David Mogo, Godhunter. The fellowship aims to “support, elevate and connect emerging fiction authors of Black and/or African descent, based primarily on the African continent and writing in English”

The fellowship offers:

a funded ($500 each) three-month digital residency,

membership in a private community of practice,

continuous support through the publishing ecosystem….

(5) TURNING BACK THE CLOCK OR ERASING TIMES? A Slate article written by Stitch, “Turning Red: The Pixar movie has one huge blind spot when it comes to fandom”, says “The Pixar movie’s depiction of fandom may be relatable, but some of us know it’s also unrealistic.”

…Turning Red is perhaps the closest that the mainstream has come to showing how women and other marginalized folks both participate in and are mistreated for their interest in fandom too. And it does so without also making them the butt of the joke. At first, the school bully Tyler and his friends make fun of Meilin for her art; later, when Meilin and her friends capitalize upon her ability to turn into an adorable, giant red panda in order to fund their concert dreams, Tyler is one of the people who line up to hang with the cute panda. (Tyler eventually also proves to be a 4*Town fan.) Meilin’s transformation sparks a form of fandom among the students in their school, who come to be downright obsessed with Meilin’s red panda form. Some of the same people who mocked Meilin’s group for its intense fixations, it turns out, are now experiencing fixations of their own.

This angle and its turn of events are both the triumphs and the failings of the film. 

…But that portrait is one that either forgets or ignores what fandom was really like then and now. Participating in fandom of any kind was never an experience where everything was nice and fans all bonded over their shared love—especially for people of color. Nostalgia reimagines the way that fans remember early online fandom, suggesting it was a place where no one fought, where everyone minded their business, and where no one was a bigot. It’s a sunny contrast to what many agree is the situation now: Online hate mobs, browbeating, and social media–facilitated backlash are publicly acknowledged. Yet the early 2000s, around the same time that Meilin and her friends were getting into 4*Town, were full of now-legendary tales of discriminatory fandom drama…. 

(6) FLORIDA OUTLAWS RANKED CHOICE VOTING. [Item by Steven H Silver.] A new law just passed in Florida that establishes an election police force also makes it illegal in Florida for any government jurisdiction to use ranked balloting to determine winners.  Any cities or counties that already use it may no longer do so according to the new law. “Florida bans ranked-choice voting in new elections law”.

…Senate Bill 524 specifically said it was “prohibiting the use of ranked-choice voting to determine election or nomination to elective office; voiding existing or future local ordinances authorizing the use of ranked choice voting.”

This means cities or counties can’t pass their own laws on ranked-choice voting.

In a ranked-choice voting system, voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots rather than selecting just one.

The candidate with the majority of first-choice votes wins outright. However, if no candidate gets a majority of first-choice votes, an “instant runoff” takes place. That means that the candidate who finished last is eliminated, and that candidate’s voters ballots are redistributed to their second-choice pick. This process continues until there is a clear majority winner or candidate won with more than half of the vote….

(7) YEOH Q&A. “Actor Michelle Yeoh wants to change the way we think of superheroes” NPR learned in a conversation with her.

On Everything Everywhere All At Once originally being written for Jackie Chan as the lead and Michelle Yeoh as his wife – but the Daniels rewrote it

They realized, I think, we’re telling the same old story if it was really Jackie Chan and myself as playing the husband and wife, and he is the one who goes on the multiverse thing. But I think the good news was … the Daniels are surrounded by very, very strong women. … I think it’s an homage to all the strong women who are around them. … So I think that cemented the mother and daughter story a lot more. I think it’s much more relatable. It’s much more emotional on many levels.

(8) SECOND INNING. The vampire is playing a bat, again. “Robert Pattinson Returning for ‘The Batman’ Sequel” reports Yahoo!

The Batman” is getting a sequel, with Robert Pattinson set to return as Gotham’s fiercest defender.

Warner Bros. revealed its plans for another Caped Crusader story during its Tuesday evening presentation at CinemaCon, the annual trade show for theater owners. “The Batman” director Matt Reeves was on hand to announce the news that he will write and direct the follow-up, but he did not provide any details about what the movie will entail….

(9) YES, DEATH WILL NOT RELEASE YOU. “Sony confirms new ‘Ghostbusters’ movie – how it could work”SYFY Wire shares what they know.

… At the end of its CinemaCon presentation on Monday, Sony Pictures dropped a sizzle reel that included peeks at a number of upcoming projects we already knew about, including the long-awaited Kraven the Hunter movie, as well as reveals of a couple of things we didn’t know about just yet. Those reveals included a title card teasing a third Venom film, and confirmation that a new Ghostbusters installment is in the works. 

Though the project is officially still untitled, and Sony offered no clues as to casting or story for the project, the announcement of a fifth Ghostbusters movie likely means a direct sequel to 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife,…

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2010 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge] Twelve years ago the sequel to the highly successful and quite popular Iron Man film premiered. Unimaginatively titled Iron Man 2, it was directed by Jon Favreau who had done the first film, and written by Justin Theroux, who had not done the first film (which had been written by a committee of Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway. Hey it worked, didn’t it?) The first film got nominated for a Hugo at Anticipation (2009). 

Iron Man 2 premiered at the El Capitan Theatre, a fully restored movie palace in Hollywood. This theater and the adjacent Hollywood Masonic Temple (which are now known as the El Capitan Entertainment Centre) are owned by the Disney Company and serve as the venue for a majority of the Disney film premieres.

Although fandom is very fond of saying it did substantially worse than the first film at the box office that’s a lie as it actually did better. Iron Man did five hundred and eighty million against one hundred and forty million in costs, whereas this film took in six hundred and thirty million against the same production costs. 

So how was it received by critics at the time? Anthony Lane at the New Yorker liked it better than its competitors Spider-Man and Superman: “To find a comic-book hero who doesn’t agonize over his supergifts, and would defend his constitutional right to get a kick out of them, is frankly a relief.” And Roger Ebert writing for the Chicago Sun-Tribune was impressed: “Iron Man 2 is a polished, high-octane sequel, not as good as the original but building once again on a quirky performance by Robert Downey Jr.”

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a rather good seventy-one percent rating. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 26, 1564 William Shakespeare. World’s greatest playwright and perhaps one of our earliest fantasy writers was born today. Possibly. Or baptized today. Opinions differ. What I do know is that the supernatural is a commonplace thing in his plays from ghosts to fairies. So which fantasy-tinged work by him do you like the best? I go for “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”. (Died 1616.)
  • Born April 26, 1922 A. E. van Vogt. Ok I admit it’s been so long since I read him that I don’t clearly remember what I liked by him, though I know I read Slan and The Weapon Makers.  I am fascinated by the wiki page that noted Damon Knight disliked his writing whereas Philip K. Dick and Paul Di Filippo defended him strongly. What do y’all think of him? And the Science Fiction Writers of America named him their 14th Grand Master in 1995. No Hugos and only one Retro Hugo at MidAmericaCon for Slan though he’s had myriad Retro Hugo nominations. He picked a Nebula Grand Master Award. (Died 2000.)
  • Born April 26, 1943 Bill Warren. American film historian, critic, and one of the leading authorities on science fiction, horror, and fantasy films. Bill launched his writing career in the Sixties. His 1968 short story “Death Is a Lonely Place” would be printed in the first issue of the magazine Worlds of Fantasy. During the Seventies , he also wrote scripts for Warren Publishing’s black-and-white comic books CreepyEerie, and Vampirella. He was a leading light of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society and which he and his wife Beverly were very much involved in. With Allan Rothstein he wrote a murder mystery Fandom is a Way of Death set at L..A. Con II which was distributed at the convention, and featured many fans including Forrest J Ackerman. The first edition of his film reference guide Keep Watching the Skies! American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties came out in 1982; it would be revised and expanded several times, the latest in 2009. It is available from the usual suspects. (Died 2016.)
  • Born April 26, 1945 Charles Platt, 77. British writer who’s a naturalized U.S. citizen. I’m very impressed with The Silicon Man which nominated for the Campbell Memorial and Prometheus Award, and also with his nonfiction Dream Makers volumes about the genre which were both nominated for the Hugo, The Uncommon People Who Write Science Fiction by Charles Platt at Devention Two (1981) and The Uncommon Men & Women Who Write Science Fiction at L.A. Con II (1984). 
  • Born April 26, 1948 Marta Randall, 74. First woman president of SFWA.  With Robert Silverberg, Randall edited two volumes of the New Dimensions series, the eleventh and twelfth volumesI’ve not read her novels but I do remember the New Dimensions series fondly. 
  • Born April 26, 1978 Marie Bilodeau, 44. Canadian writer nominated for an amazing fifteen Aurora Awards. She’s won two, one with Derek Künsken as the 2019 co-chair of Can-Con, and another the next year with him for again hosting that Con. Who here has read her fiction?
  • Born April 26, 1985 Falk Hentschel, 37. Two of my favorite characters in the DCU are Hawkman and Hawkgirl. He played Hawkman in the Arrowverse on The FlashArrow and most noticeably Legends of Tomorrow. If you have not seen him there, here’s an image of them from Flash. He has one-offs on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Jouneyman.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frank and Ernest learn what happens to Mr. Potato Head when he needs a therapist!

(13) DEEP ROOTS. Nicholas Barber drills down to find “Doctor Strange and the historical roots of the multiverse” at BBC Culture.

Remember when saving the world was enough for any self-respecting film character? These days, they have to think bigger. In 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, Earth’s mightiest heroes went as far as saving the Universe – or half of it, anyway. But since then, even a feat as impressive as that seems woefully short of ambition. In 2022, superheroes are expected to navigate their way around a whole labyrinth of different universes. The multiverse is the place to be….

The scientific possibility of the multiverse

To answer that question, you could go back to the discussions of other realities in ancient Greek philosophy and Hindu and Persian mythology. Plenty of books have been set in two or more realms, too: CS Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, for instance. But the notion of countless co-existing universes was posited as a scientific possibility in 1957 by Hugh Everett, a mathematician from Washington DC….

(14) YOU NEED LITTLE TEENY EYES FOR READING LITTLE TEENY PRINT. “A Tiny Brontë Book, Sold for $1.25 Million, to Return Home” – the New York Times has the good news.

The last of the two dozen miniature books made by the young Charlotte Brontë to remain in private hands, which resurfaced last month after nearly a century, will soon be heading home to the remote parsonage on the moors of northern England where it was made.

“A Book of Rhymes,” which contains 10 previously unpublished poems by the 13-year-old Brontë, was a star attraction over the weekend at the New York International Antiquarian Book Fair, where it was offered for $1.25 million. At the fair’s preview last Thursday, a red dot indicating it had been sold appeared on the label inside the specially constructed display case, setting off speculations about the buyer.

On Monday, it was revealed that the buyer is the Friends of the National Libraries, a British charity, which is donating it to the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, Yorkshire, home to one of the world’s largest collections of Brontë manuscripts.

… The miniature books and magazines created by the young Charlotte. Emily, Anne and Branwell Brontë in the 1820s have long been objects of fascination for ordinary people and deep-pocketed collectors alike. Initially created to entertain their toy soldiers (and sewn together from sugar packets, wallpaper scraps and other stray bits of paper), the tiny volumes reflected the rich imaginary world they created in the isolation of the family home, which fed into novels like Charlotte’s “Jane Eyre” and Emily’s “Wuthering Heights.”

“A Book of Rhymes,” a 15-page volume smaller than a playing card made it 1829, was last seen at auction in 1916 in New York, where it sold for $520. It then disappeared from view, its whereabouts — and even its survival — unknown….

(15) STILL NOT EASY BEING GREEN. “’Wicked’ Split Into Two Movies As Universal Unveils Release Dates” announces The Hollywood Reporter. But no hurry, right? Universal has been developing the project since 2004. 

“One Short Day” in the Emerald City is turning into two longer stays. 

The Wicked film will now come to theaters as two films, rather than one production, director Jon M. Chu announced Tuesday. The first film has set a premiere date of December 2024, with the second premiering the following Christmas. 

“As we prepared the production over the past year, it became increasingly clear that it would be impossible to wrestle the story of ‘Wicked’ into a single film without doing some real damage to it. As we tried to cut songs or trim characters, those decisions felt like fatal compromises to the source material that has entertained us all for so many years,” Chu wrote in a statement on Twitter. 

(16) WHERE IT’S NOT TOO BRIGHT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I have no idea what language this film is in, but it’s sf and has come to Netflix!

Escaped from the sun, took shelter in a submarine… Is it safe now? Yakamoz S245.

After disaster strikes Earth, a marine biologist on a submarine research mission must fight to survive with the crew as a conspiracy comes to light.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Moonfall,” the Screen Junkies‘ narrator notes that many people want an Honest Trailer for The Batman.  But there’s an oxygen breach in the Screen Junkies’ compound, and the narrator’s swimming in brain fog.  But Moonfall — “That’s just stupid enough to work!  But why is the script written in crayon?”  And why do the astronauts in this film discover there’s a white dwarf at the center of the moon and their eyes aren’t fried seeing it?

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

Pixel Scroll 2/26/22 Comments Have Spoken, Like The First Filing; Pixels Have Woken, Like The First Scroll

(1) HOW THE WEB MAKES CRIMINALS OF US ALL. The Guardian tells about the revamped Tolkien Estate website in “Unseen JRR Tolkien paintings, photographs and video clips released”. (Andrew Porter reminds us that the artwork in the article is not new.)

Unseen photographs and paintings of JRR Tolkien, the author of The Lord of the Rings fantasy books, have been released by the writer’s estate, along with draft manuscripts and letters.

Its website has been relaunched with new material, including sections on Tolkien’s calligraphy and a timeline of his life.

Audio recordings and video clips featuring both Tolkien, who died in 1973, and his son Christopher, who died in 2020, are among the new material.

The relaunch date of 26 February is significant in Tolkien lore because 26 February 3019 was the date in the Third Age when the Fellowship of the Ring was broken at Amon Hen and Frodo and Sam set out on their lonely and terrifying journey to Mordor.

Perusing the site’s “Frequently Asked Questions and Links” I discovered this jarring information:

Can I publish a Tolkien Fanzine?

The name TOLKIEN is a registered trademark and may not be used without permission. Unfortunately permission cannot be given for publications which use the name TOLKIEN or the Tolkien Estate’s Copyright Materials.

Are a lot of you faneds who don’t spell it T*****n hearing from lawyers?

(2) THEY’VE GOT THE DROP ON US. “Russia’s space chief responds to new sanctions by suggesting that the ISS would no longer be prevented from crashing into the US or Europe” – originally reported by Business Insider.

According to CNN, Biden further stated that the sanctions “will degrade (Russia’s) aerospace industry, including their space program.”… 

In response, Rogozin said on Twitter: “If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or Europe?” 

He added: There is also the option of dropping a 500-ton structure to India and China. Do you want to threaten them with such a prospect? The ISS does not fly over Russia, so all the risks are yours. Are you ready for them?” 

Rogozin also mentioned that the ISS’s location and orbit in space are controlled by “Russian Progress MS cargo ships.” 

NASA did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment made outside of normal working hours.

In a statement to Euronews, however, NASA said that it “continues working with Roscosmos and our other international partners in Canada, Europe, and Japan to maintain safe and continuous ISS operations.”

It added: “The new export control measures will continue to allow US-Russia civil space cooperation.”

(3) PURLOINED LETTER TECHNIQUE. Radio Times’ Sab Astley says this is the place to look for clues to Doctor Who’s next phase: “Doctor Who Russell T Davies teases from his book on writing”.

…Now, with Davies’ surprise return to Doctor Who looming, everyone is searching for potential clues as to RTD’s approach to his second run – and unusually, the acclaimed screenwriter might have already given us a pretty good idea of what he’s planning thanks to a little book called The Writer’s Tale.

The Writer’s Tale is a tome of correspondence between Davies and Doctor Who Magazine contributor Benjamin Cook, taking place over the pre-production of season 4 right up to the final shots of Tennant’s last special between 2007 and 2009…

The Next Doctor

14th Doctor speculation is currently at an all-time high, with names like Michael Sheen, Michaela Coel, T’Nia Miller and Olly Alexander mentioned. However, one name that hasn’t arisen, which might just be a strong contender to bet on: Russell Tovey.

Davies makes no secret of his love for Tovey, and in a discussion over potential 11th Doctor castings, RTD states that Tovey is “amazing – I think I’d make him the eleventh Doctor”. Since then Tovey has starred in Davies’ Years & Years, and currently all of his upcoming projects are in post-production – making it the perfect time for RTD to nab Tovey if he so wishes.

Alternatively, if we look at Davies’ choice of actors in the years since The Writer’s Tale, the choice becomes clear: Lydia West. She’s clearly a favourite of RTD’s, starring in both Years & Years and It’s A Sin, and could follow in Jodie Whittaker’s footsteps as a female Doctor (and the first ‘lead’ Doctor to be played by a Black actor, though Jo Martin’s Fugitive Doctor technically got there first).

Altogether, based on RTD’s creative patterns and the insight of The Writer’s Tale it seems Russell Tovey or Lydia West are strong options for the 14th Doctor. However, there is a third possibility – the return of David Tennant…..

(4) FUTURE TENSE. “Good Job, Robin”, JoeAnn Hart’s short story about love, earth, and eating crickets, is this month’s installment of Future Tense Fiction, a series from Future Tense and Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination published on Slate.

Ahimsa waves an elbow at me, keeping her hands firmly cupped. “Isaura! Look!” She shouts to be heard over my earplugs, and I panic thinking she’s woozy again. But no, she only wants to show me something. I lean across the sorting table to look, and with a smile she opens her tawny hands like a flower, just enough so I can peek inside. Two stamens wiggle in the darkness.

Not stamens. Antennae. Out come the earplugs. “It’s just a cricket, Ahimsa. One of a billion crickets under this dome, every one of them chirping like an insect possessed.”…

Christy Spackman, an expert on the future of food, responds to JoeAnn Hart’s story in “Crickets could be the food solution that saves us all.”

…The first time I seriously considered crickets as the food of the future was in late 2015 during a presentation by undergraduates. Their policy proposal outlining how the adoption of insect protein in the Los Angeles Area could help insulate the region from some of the impacts of climate-change included a tasting of a recent-to-market, paleo-friendly, cricket-based protein bar. As I sunk my teeth into the slightly gummy, peanut-buttery bite being passed around the classroom, my mind flashed between the grim food futures presented in science fiction novels and the much smaller collection of hopeful fiction portrayals of delicious future feasts. What is it about our contemporary anxieties that makes it so easy to imagine such dystopic food futures?…

(5) HEAPS OF FUN. The New York Times’ A.O. Scott considers how successive American generations have different ways of arriving at the same destination — mortality: “Shelf Life: Our Collections and the Passage of Time”.

…The things you loved when you were young will never be able to make you young again. The reluctant acceptance of this fact is the source of nostalgia, a disorder that afflicts every modern generation in its own special way. Members of Generation X grew up under the heavy, sanctimonious shadow of the baby boom’s long adolescence, among crates of LPs and shelves of paperbacks to remind us of what we had missed. Just as baby boomers’ rebellion against their Depression- and war-formed parents defined their styles and poses, so did our impatience with the boomers set ours in motion. But I’m not talking so much about a grand narrative of history as about what Aksel might call the useless stuff — the objects and gadgets that form the infrastructure of memory….

Every cohort has these. A CD in a plastic jewel box is not intrinsically more poetic than a vinyl LP in a cardboard sleeve. On the internet and in television shows like “PEN15,” a robust millennial nostalgia fetishizes AOL chat rooms, Dance Dance Revolution, Tamagotchis and other things that I was already too old for the first time around. Gen Z will surely have its turn before long, even if its characteristic cultural pursuits don’t seem to be manifested in physical objects….

(6) SLF GRANT NEWS. The Speculative Literature Foundation has announced the final two winners of the SLF Convention Support Grants.

Over the course of the year we gave out $10,000, in grants of $500 – $1000 each, to science fiction and fantasy conventions.

These grants are intended to support conventions both in developing their online presences (through the purchase of tech, training costs, hosting costs, etc.) and making in-person gathering safer once it’s appropriate. Read on for more information about how each convention will use the funding.

WisCon is a feminist science fiction and fantasy convention held annually in Madison, Wisconsin. Founded in 1976 as the world’s first feminist speculative fiction convention, it has since grown into a robust and dedicated community of fans, artists, and scholars. The convention is hosted by the Society for the Furtherance and Study of Fantasy and Science Fiction a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization in Madison, Wisconsin, which aims to create a safe and inclusive environment for everyone.

WisCon will use the grant funds to cover the costs of equipment and equipment rental to make their con more accessible.

The Outer Dark Symposium on the Greater Weird is a progressive speculative fiction conference that focuses on contemporary Weird fiction. The con actively seeks to create spaces that allow for the kinds of conversations and connections that chart the future of boundary-breaking speculative fiction, as well as being an inclusive, safe and welcoming place for women, LBGTQ+, and writers of color. To meet this mission, they consider each dimension of access (fiscal, disability, equity, etc) with care to inform every decision they make, from where programming is accessed to how it’s structured.

A key focus for their 2022 convention is making sure they have easily accessible virtual spaces, as well as safe future events during the pandemic, which includes travel, catering, and technology costs that they anticipate will increase significantly this year.

(7) GAIMAN ADAPTED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Behind a paywall in the Financial Times, Nilanjana Roy reviews Chivalry, a graphic novel written by Neil Gaiman and drawn by Colleen Doran and based on a short story from Gaiman’s collection Smoke And Mirrors.

[Colleen Doran’s] stunning artwork turns Arthur’s knight into the kind of dashing, courtly hero who is obliged to seduce a maiden.  Doran’s illustrations, drawing from a soft palette of blues, pinks, and greens that flare unto sudden glorious bursts of crimson and gold at need, are what will make Chivalry a perennial Christmas gift.  Famous Authors are often at risk of having their old work briskly repackaged by clever marketing departments but Doran, a Gaiman fan since her youth has, for complicated rights reasons, waited over two decades to work on this short story…

,,,The question as to whether a single short story taken from a far more varied fantasy collection is satisfying as a standalone graphic novel remains.  Certainly,Gaiman and Doran’s book feels too slight on its own to measure up to the best of Gaiman’s output.  Still, Chivalry reminds you that, some days, all you need is to believe in impossible quests.

(8) UNDERSTANDING OCTAVIA BUTLER. “Black History Month: Octavia Butler’s sci-fi dystopia still relevant”USA Today profiles the author.

…Butler rose to prominence in the traditionally white bastion of science fiction. She was the first to write about prominent Black characters in science fiction settings, using dystopias, time travel and other tropes. 

Science-fiction author Nisi Shawl recalls meeting the “Kindred” author in 1999 during a convention in Seattle when she was tasked with writing a profile on Butler. The two became acquainted and a friendship later blossomed in 2002. 

“One thing that she really instilled in me was the idea that you should write about things that bring up strong emotions in you, things that you fear, things that you loathe, things that you cherish, but things that you are passionate about in one way or another,” Shawl tells USA TODAY, adding that Butler inspired her to write the short story “Momi Watu.” …

(9) MEMORY LANE.

2007 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Barbara Hambly, one of my favorite writers of horror, has won two Lord Ruthven Awards (1996 and 2007) given by the Lord Ruthven Assembly, a group of scholars specializing in vampire literature who are affiliated with the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. 

Those Who Hunt in The Night, the first in the excellent John Asher series, won the Locus Award for Best Horror Novel.

I’m also very impressed of her two novelizations done for one of my favorite tv series, Beauty and the Beast and and Beauty and the Beast: Song of Orpheus as it’s hard to write material off those series that’s actually worth reading.  She wrote three Trek novels and several Star Wars too but I’ve not read them. 

And yes, there’s lots about her writing career I’ve not included here so feel free to tell me what you think I should have mentioned. 

Barbara Hambly

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 26, 1908 Tex Avery. An animator, cartoonist, director and voice actor beyond compare. Without him, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and Porky Pig would not have existed. Avery’s influence can be seen in Animaniacs and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. (Died 1980.)
  • Born February 26, 1918 Theodore Sturgeon. Damn, I hadn’t realized that he’d only written six genre novels! More Than Human is brilliant and I assumed that he’d written a lot more long form fiction but it was short form where he excelled with more than two hundred such stories. I did read over the years a number of his reviews — they were quite good. (Died 1985.)
  • Born February 26, 1945 Marta Kristen, 77. Kristen is best known for her role as Judy Robinson, one of Professor John and Maureen Robinson’s daughters, in  the original Lost in Space. And yes, I watched the entire series. Good stuff it was. She has a cameo in the Lost in Space film as Reporter Number One. None of her other genre credits are really that interesting, just the standard stuff you’d expect such as an appearance on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
  • Born February 26, 1948 Sharyn McCrumb, 74. ISFDB lists all of her Ballad novels as genre but that’s a wee bit deceptive as how genre-strong they are depends upon the novel. Oh, Nora Bonesteel, she who sees Death, is in every novel but only some novels such as the Ghost Riders explicitly contain fantasy elements.  If you like mysteries, all of them are highly recommended.  Now the Jay Omega novels, Bimbos of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool are genre, are great fun and well worth reading. They are in print and available from the usual suspects which is interesting as I know she took them out of print for awhile. 
  • Born February 26, 1957 John Jude Palencar, 65. Illustrator whose artwork graces over a hundred genre covers. In my personal collection, he’s on the covers of de lint’s The Onion Girl and Forests of the Heart (one of my top ten novels of SFF), Priest’s Four & Twenty Blackbirds and Le Guin’s Tehanu: The Last Book of EarthseaOrigins: The Art of John Jude Palencar is a perfect look at his work and marvelous eye candy as well.
  • Born February 26, 1958 Karen Berger, 64. She created the Vertigo imprint at DC,  and served as the line’s Executive Editor for a decade. Some of my favorite works there are Fables, Hellblazer, Preacher, 100 Bullets and V for Vendetta. She currently runs Berger Books, an imprint of Dark Horse Comics.
  • Born February 26, 1965 Liz Williams, 57. For my money, her best writing by far is her Detective Inspector Chen series about the futuristic city Singapore Three, its favorite paranormal police officer Chen and his squabbles with an actual Chinese-derived Heaven and Hell. I’ve read most of them and recommend them highly. I’m curious to see what else y’all have read of her and suggest that I read.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) 45TH BIRTHDAY ISSUE OF 2000 AD. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] This week the 45th birthday issue of 2000 AD is out. It includes a zarjaz strip of the Command Module droids travelling through the thrillverse collecting 2000 AD characters to help Tharg compose a birthday hit single. It also features the start of a new Judge Dredd story that teases that the Judges are trying to silence someone who claims to have a secret concerning the truth of Judge Dredd!

Splundig!

(13) I SEE BY YOUR OUTFIT THAT YOU ARE A COWBOY. Kevin Standlee says Westercon 74 sent out the following announcement to its members today regarding COVID-19. The short version:

Vaccination required

Masks required

For the long version, click here – “COVID-19 Health and Safety Policy”.

As a reminder, the 2022 Westercon will be held in Tonopah, Nevada from July 1-4.

(14) PURINA BAT CHOW. “Doorbells, chicken and special edition biscuits: why are The Batman’s tie-ins such a joker?” asks the Guardian. “Someone on the merchandising team is working overtime to turn the serious new Robert Pattinson movie into Sonic the Hedgehog.”

…Then there is all the food. The Oreos we have covered; they have a picture of Batman’s face on them, because we all know that nothing is more delicious than wolfing down an effigy of agonising mental torment. Papa John’s is also in on the act. Its pizzas currently come in commemorative The Batman boxes (because who doesn’t love using used food receptacles as keepsakes?) and there is also a new side – black ghost chilli chicken wings – that also apparently have something to do with Batman. Meanwhile, in the US, Little Caesars has made a “calzony” (a kind of folded pizza) that’s shaped like the Batman logo, allowing customers to grab themselves a slice of gooey, unresolved trauma.

Caffè Nero has subverted the pattern a little by focusing on the Riddler. It has launched a new hot chocolate, with a mysterious new flavour. If you can guess the flavour – which is to say, if you can stomach spending your money on a product that for the purposes of suspension of disbelief was designed by a nightmarish BDSM goblin – you can win a trip to a theme park.

Again, I’m barely touching the sides here….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Dream Foundry has shared the Flights of Foundry 2021 panel “Making Your Reader Hungry: Food in SFF” with Nibedita Sen and Shweta Adhyam, moderated by Cora Buhlert. (Watch the video at the link.)

For a long time, speculative fiction rarely engaged with food. Over on the science fiction side of the fence, protagonists lived on food pills or ordered “Tea, Earl Grey, hot” from the replicator, while fantasy characters subsisted on the ubiquitous stew and quaffed tankards of ale. However, this has changed in recent times and now detailed food descriptions are a lot more common in SFF. Nor are we just seeing only stereotypical western and American food anymore, but also dishes from non-western cuisines and food traditions. This panel will discuss how food is portrayed in science fiction and fantasy and how this parallels real world developments, whether it’s meal replacement products like the unfortunately named Soylent or trends like pandemic baking.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/6/22 I Thank Whatever Gods There Be, For My Unpixelable Scroll

(1) WFC ADDS GOH. World Fantasy Con 2022 has announced Iris Compiet is their Artist Guest of Honor.

Iris Compiet

Iris is an award-winning traditional artist and illustrator who makes her home in the Netherlands. Her client list includes Netflix, Magic the Gathering, and Harper Collins, among others. She’s the illustrator of the Dark Crystal Bestiary, the Labyrinth Bestiary, and Faeries of the Faultlines, which offers her fans a glimpse into the world she created by the same name. To learn more about Iris, see her page on the WFC 2022 website, and follow the links to her website and social media.

(2) ATTENTION WESTERSMOFS. [Item by Kevin Standlee.] The Westercon Bylaws & Business page, including the minutes of the 2021 Westercon Business Meeting, current version of the Westercon Bylaws (including Standing Rules and Draft Agenda for 2022), and links to the video of the 2021 Westercon Business Meeting, are updated here: Bylaws & Business – Westercon. I thank Linda Deneroff and Lisa Hayes for their work creating the documents and recording the video.

(3) ORIGIN STORY. In “The Surprising History of the Comic Book”, The Nation’s J. Hoberman reviews Pulp Empire: The Secret History of Comic Book Imperialism by Paul S. Hirsch.

Blame the comic book. Cheap and transportable, a trove of infantile fantasy and psychosexual Pop Art, often spiced with egregious stereotypes and nativist aggression, this humble medium was for a time the United States’ most ubiquitous cultural ambassador. Such is the thesis of Paul S. Hirsch’s Pulp Empire: The Secret History of Comic Book Imperialism, an engaging account of the ways in which comics variously served or confounded official interests.

Vividly illustrated and enjoyably hyperbolic, Pulp Empire tells its tale as a kind of horror comic. Recounting the emergence of comic books during the Depression, Hirsch details how the medium was drafted during World War II to play its own modest part in defeating the Axis, then cues the scary music…

(4) MARVEL LOADS UP FOR FREE COMIC BOOK DAY. Marvel Comics will celebrate Free Comic Book Day on May 7 this year with three free one-shots. The third comic to be announced is Free Comic Book Day: Avengers/X-Men #1.

Packed with three stories, Free Comic Book Day: Avengers/X-Men will offer fans new and old an exciting entry point into some of Marvel’s biggest upcoming stories and characters!

Free Comic Book Day: Avengers/X-Men #1 will also mark the exciting debut of a new hero that Marvel has big plans for this year! Meet BLOODLINE in an introduction story by writer Danny Lore and artist Karen Darboe! 

(5) EARTHSHAKING CELEBRATION. Sideshow is a sales site, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be interested in all the promotions they have planned for “Sideshow’s Frank Frazetta Day 2022” on February 9.

Frank Frazetta was a legendary fantasy and science fiction artist who created some of the most iconic images in the 20th century. And on Wednesday, February 9, 2022 — Frank Frazetta’s birthday! — Sideshow is going to celebrate his life and legacy with an exciting event day. Read on for the schedule, list of giveaways, and livestream details.

Frank Frazetta Day honors Frank Frazetta’s many contributions to speculative fiction. There will be contests, games, and Sideshow Rewards. Plus, tune in for a special LIVE tour through the Frazetta Art Museum in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, led by Lori and Frank Frazetta Jr.

(6) PASSPORT TO FANTASY. “Tintin’s world adventure: comic strip hero joins the Smurfs on new Belgian passport” – the Guardian has the story.

Trees, eagles, bears, turrets and towers: passport designs used to follow certain conventions. Not any more. From Monday, all new Belgian passports will feature Tintin, the Smurfs and other heroes of Belgian comic-strip art.

With a 34-page standard passport, Belgian travellers will be accompanied by Lucky Luke, Blake and Mortimer, and Bob and Bobette. Many images are from the original strips, such as the 1954 Tintin serial, Explorers on the Moon, where the intrepid boy reporter took his first steps on the lunar surface 15 years before Neil Armstrong. Others were specially designed for the passport, such as a Smurf contemplating a globe, with its knapsack and maps spread on the ground.

… “There is a little bit of Belgian humour here,” Wouter Poels, a foreign ministry spokesman said. “It’s always nice if you can link what is functionable to something that is enjoyable. But a passport is and remains an administrative document,” he said referring to 48 new security features, such as barcodes, laser-engraved photographs and the polycarbonate ID page.

The passport scenes are inspired by travel and unsurprisingly avoid controversies, such as Tintin in the Congo, which is no longer sold in children’s sections of bookstores in the UK over its racist stereotypes. Nor does Lucky Luke smoke a cigarette. The cowboy, created in 1947 by Maurice de Bevere, also known as Morris, quit in 1988….

(7) RICHARD DEAN STARR (1968-2022). Writer Richard Dean Starr, who wrote many media tie-ins, died of Covid on February 4.

He was named Special Projects Coordinator for Moonstone Books in 2007. Starr edited Tales of Zorro, the first anthology of original Zorro short fiction ever authorized by Zorro Productions, Inc. The second volume, More Tales of Zorro, was released in the summer of 2011. In 2016, Starr co-authored a comic book team-up featuring Kolchak: The Night Stalker and Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. with New York Times bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1974 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Forty-eight years ago this day, Zardoz premiered. It was written, produced, and directed by John Boorman of Excalibur fame who was nominated for a Hugo for that work at Chicon IV. It was produced by his company, John Boorman Productions Ltd. He had decided to make the film after his abortive attempt at dramatizing The Lord of the Rings. He wrote Zardoz with William (Bill) Stair, a long time collaborator. 

It starred Sean Connery, Charlotte Rampling, Sara Kestelman and John Alderton. It was shot entirely in County Wicklow where Excalibur was produced, so most of the supporting cast and crew was Irish. Indeed many of the extras were played by members of Irish Travelling community. It was made on a shoestring budget of one point six million and made one point eight million at the Box Office, so it didn’t even break even after marketing costs were figured in. 

So how was the reception for it? Well it was nominated for a Hugo at Aussiecon though Young Frankenstein won that year. Flesh Gordon, yes Flesh Gordon, finished second ahead of it in the balloting. 

Roger Ebert for the Chicago Sun-Times I think summed it up nicely when he said it was “a genuinely quirky movie, a trip into a future that seems ruled by a perpetually stoned set decorator”. Though William Thomas of Empire Magazine was less kind: “You have to hand it to John Boorman. When he’s brilliant, he’s brilliant (Point BlankDeliverance) but when he’s terrible, he’s really terrible.” It currently holds a fifty-three percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.

It is not streaming for free anywhere but it’s available for purchase just about everywhere from AppleTV to YouTube for the same price of three dollars and ninety-nine cents. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 6, 1922 Patrick Macnee. He was best known as the secret agent John Steed in The Avengers, a role he reprised in the New Avengers. Avoid the putrid Avengers film which he is not in at to peril of your soul. And your sense of decency. He made his genre debut as Young Jacob Marley in Scrooge. He then starred as Derek Longbow in Incense for the Damned. Next up is an uncredited role voicing Imperious Leader on the original Battlestar Galactica.  He played Captain John Good R.N. in King Solomon’s Treasure based rather loosely on the H. Rider Haggard source material.  What else? Let’s see… he shows up in The Howling as Dr. George Waggner. Next up for him is another toff named Sir Wilfred in Waxwork and its sequel. Yes, he wears a suit rather nicely. At least being Professor Plocostomos in Lobster Man from Mars is an open farce.  I hope it isLet me note that he had a voice only role in the absolutely awful remake of The Avengers as Invisible Jones, a Ministry Agent. I do hope they paid him rather well. His last film work was genre, too, The Low Budget Time Machine, in which he started as Dr. Bernard. (Died 2015.)
  • Born February 6, 1925 Patricia S. Warrick, 97. Academic who did a lot of Seventies anthologies with Martin Greenberg and Joseph D. Olander with such titles as Social Problems Through Science FictionAmerican Government Through Science Fiction and Run to Starlight, Sports Through Science Fiction. She did write two books of a more serious nature by herself, The Cybernetic Imagination in Science Fiction and Mind in Motion: The Fiction of Philip K. Dick.
  • Born February 6, 1932 Rip Torn. First genre work that comes to mind is of course RoboCop 3 and his Men in Black films. His first dip into our world comes as Dr. Nathan Bryce in The Man Who Fell to Earth. And he shows up in The Beastmaster as Maax. Actually if you count Alfred Hitchcock Presents, he’s been a member of our community since his twenties. He also shows up on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as well. (Died 2019.)
  • Born February 6, 1947 Eric Flint, 75. I really like his Assiti Shards series, and the Heirs of Alexandria as well. Worth noting is that he is a co-founder and editor of the Baen Free Library.

(10) SUPERDOWNTIME. Defused showcases “40 Hysterical Comics Showing What Superheroes Do When They Are Not Out Saving The World” by artist Lucas Nascimento.

People who don’t read comics and only watch superhero movies don’t know what these heroes do when they are not saving the world from imminent destruction. I mean, don’t get me wrong it wouldn’t be a very interesting movie if we saw batman trying to keep up his persona and going g through his daily life. However, these heroes are not like us. How many of us can say that we made a whole persona out of our fear or that we are from an alien planet?

So it stands to reason that their daily problems wouldn’t be as usual as normal people. And that is the idea behind these comics which the artist by the name Lucas Nascimento has brought us. Not only does he manage to capture the unique personalities of each hero but he also draws them in his own style which is spectacular. So buckle up and get ready to go on a wild ride. Just scroll below to take a look for yourself….

(11) A RINGING ENDORSEMENT. Rich Horton’s had time to refine his thoughts about a novel he read a year ago: “Review: Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke”.

Piranesi bears almost no resemblance to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. It is far shorter, It is set in what seems roughly the present day, not an alternate Regency. It is almost claustrophobic in setting (though strangely not despite being mostly set in a single building) and for much of the novel the main character is completely alone. For all that, it is as good as its predecessor…

(12) VERDANT READING. Paul Weimer analyzes the second book in The Green Man series: “Microreview [book]: The Green Man’s Foe by Juliet McKenna” at Nerds of a Feather.

Being mortal, but also the son of an otherworldly being isn’t all that it is cracked up to be. Ask Daniel Mackmain. After dealing with a threat to a wood and coming in contact with a very powerful supernatural entity, the titular Green Man, it is no wonder that his success in dealing with a rather nasty problem (that had some unfortunate consequences for him with the press and with the police) has resulted in the Green Man calling him on again.  At a new construction job site in the lovely Cotswolds, a mysterious figure seems to be influencing the local kids…and trying to get into the job site Daniel has been hired for. But what is he after? And why?

This is the second story of Daniel Mackmain, The Green Man’s Foe….

(13) GAMING IN STYLE. In the Washington Post, Shannon Liao looks at how “companies such as XBox and Nintendo are now releasing products such as nail polish and eye shadow for gamers.” “Tetris eyeshadow and Xbox nail polish: What’s behind the latest beauty and gaming trend”.

… While many of the most famous and recurring gaming partnerships, including fast food and energy drink brands, are aimed at men ages 18 to 30, the billion-dollar gaming and beauty industries have increasingly teamed up in recent years. Colorpop, a California-based cosmetics brand, worked with Nintendo’s Animal Crossing franchise last January to release eyeshadow palettes and glittery gold gel reminiscent of the island’s in-game currency, Bells. Xbox previously worked with Mac Cosmetics last October to create three Halloween looks, recreating characters from “Sea of Thieves,” “Psychonauts” and “Halo.”

“We’re in this moment of really overcoming that idea of the gamer being just that one demographic, that preconceived notion of the gamer being in the basement, and usually a man, 18 to 30-something,” said Marcos Waltenberg, global partnerships director at Xbox. “It’s much more than that now. … We’re now tasked with talking to a lot more people than we used to as a company, a few years ago.”…

(14) SPEAKING OF METEORS. What’s most important: What we are or what we feel we are? Chosen began running on Netflix on January 27, 2022.

(15) COINCIDENCE DAY. Just by coincidence, Lise Andreasen is taking a poll.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Chris Barkley.] The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra honors mater composer john Williams on this 90th Birthday, which is this coming Tuesday. The video of the Pops’ performance of “Music of John Williams” is available through Monday, February 7 at 2:00 p.m.

Happy Birthday, John Williams! Pops Principal Guest Conductor Damon Gupton and the Pops treat us to a slice of John Williams’ most beloved scores—just in time for his 90th birthday. Experience selections from Superman, Star Wars, E.T., Jaws, Witches of Eastwick and more by one of the greatest composers of our lifetime.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/17/22 In Five Years, The Pixel Will Be Obsolete, Said The Salesman

(1) MORE AMAZON SHENANIGANS. Nick Cole says Galaxy’s Edge had its account nuked by Amazon over the weekend. The action has since been undone. “CTRL ALT Revolt FLASH REPORT”. He plays it the way his readers like to hear it.

Spent all weekend dealing with a situation on Amazon. Saturday night we got a letter saying our Galaxy’s Edge account was terminated and we were permanently banned.

This morning the books are back up. Was it a purge, a hacker running amok, the AI screwing up… I have thoughts.

But for now this is my official statement :

“We don’t know anything concrete. This happened on Saturday night on a 3 day weekend.

That sounds suspiciously like a hacker got into Amazon. Also, a few other people have had it happen to them.

But the times are crazy due to the leftists strangling everyone’s small business and acting like some kind of woke mafia within major corporations and so it must be considered, that until Amazon says different, this was some kind of Purge.

We are hoping Tuesday morning sees a resolution. Until then our cash flow has been destroyed, our customers are upset, and potential new customers are being lost forever….

(2) LIFE INFLUENCES ON LEM. [Item by Tom Becker.] Two recent books by Polish authors make clear how much Lem’s wartime experience weighed on him. In Agnieszka Gajewska’s deeply researched “Holocaust and the Stars,” translated by Katarzyna Gucio (Routledge) … and “Lem: A Life Out of This World,” a lively, genial biography by Wojciech Orlinski, which has yet to be translated into English. “A Holocaust Survivor’s Hardboiled Science Fiction” in The New Yorker. [Note: The Latin “l” is used in Lem’s first name because WordPress does not support the special character.]

In “His Master’s Voice,” a 1968 sci-fi novel by the Polish writer Stanislaw Lem, a team of scientists and scholars convened by the American government try to decipher a neutrino signal from outer space. They manage to translate a fragment of the signal’s information, and a couple of the scientists use it to construct a powerful weapon, which the project’s senior mathematician fears could wipe out humanity. The intention behind the message remains elusive, but why would an advanced life-form have broadcast instructions that could be so dangerous?

Late one night, a philosopher on the team named Saul Rappaport, who emigrated from Europe in the last year of the Second World War, tells the mathematician about a time—“the year was 1942, I think”—when he nearly died in a mass execution…..

Privately, Lem told people that he had witnessed the executions described by his fictional character. “Dr. Rappaport’s adventure is my adventure, from Lwów 1941, after the German army entered—I was to be shot,” he wrote to his American translator Michael Kandel. When Orlinski asked Lem’s widow which elements in the scene were drawn from life, she replied, “All of them.”…

(3) LIGHTNING STRIKING AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN. You knew it all along – the creators of the term “squeecore” graduated from the “I made you look! I win!” school of clickbaiting. Whose graduates always try to get John Scalzi to say their names, or failing that, they announce to the world he paid some attention to them. Yay them.

And here’s that big, succulent dose of attention:

That was it. Show’s over.

(4) THE SOUND AND THE FURY. Or is it? Camestros Felapton is convinced there’s more candy left in that piñata, as he argues in “Yeah, but”.

I was going to write something else today but as squeecore arguments are still raging on my social media I wanted to pull out some of my own views on where the discussion is, partly because there’s a lot of directions the arguments are going.

      1. Is there’s a dominant style in SFF in the sense of the works that critical buzz and award nominations? Yes, so long as we a generous with both “dominant” and “style” but it is fairly nebulous (as was New Wave for example.
      2. Is there a dominant style in SFF (in the sense above) that is so ubiquotous that is pushes out nearly everything else? No unless you define “style” so expansively that it can’t not to be true i.e. the claim becomes tautological.

He reaches number eight before he’s done.

(But wait! If you use a sufficiently high-powered vacuum, there might be more candy yet! Camestros reacts to Reddit’s discussion of the topic: “A log entry in the voyage of genre name looking for a genre”.)

(5) I SEE A LITTLE SILHOUETTO.  Meanwhile, Doris V. Sutherland has interesting points to make in “’Squeecore’ and the Cartoon Mode in SF/F” – thoughts that deserve to be discussed without the handicap of being attached to this arbitrary term.

…There’s an old rule in animation that a cartoon character should have a readily-identifiable silhouette — think of Mickey Mouse’s ears or Bart Simpson’s spiky hair. In the strongest examples these silhouettes incorporate not only the character’s body and/or clothes but also a posture that tells us something of their personality: Bugs Bunny casually leaning back as he chomps on a carrot; Spongebob excitedly waving his arms about. This is a visual counterpart to the old rule in writing that says you should hook the reader with the first line.

With that in mind, take a look at the opening line to Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth, the novel about the teenage lesbian necromancer who likes comic books and porn mags:

In the myriadic year of our Lord—the ten thousandth year of the King Undying, the kindly Prince of Death!— Gideon Nav packed her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and she escaped from the House of the Ninth.

Succinct, funny, comprehensible in a flash — this is the prose equivalent of a cartoon character’s silhouette.

Can these stories, as wholes, be described as cartoonish? That’s more debatable. The purest examples of the aesthetic I’m talking about are in short stories like Vina Jie-Min Prasad’s “Fandom for Robots” and “A Guide For Working Breeds” or Naomi Kritzer’s “Cat Pictures Please”, each of which uses its cartoon-character-silhouette as the basis for its entire narrative trajectory. This is harder to sustain in a full-length novel. There are novels built wholly around the cartoon mode, but they fit into a narrow genre of giddy, goofy comedies (David Wong’s Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick is a good example)….

(6) THINKING INSIDE THE BOX. In case you were still wondering what hopepunk is: “The sci-fi genre offering radical hope for living better” at BBC Culture.

…In the midst of current political, economic and environment uncertainty, many of us may have noticed a tendency to fall into cynicism and pessimism. Could hopepunk be the perfect antidote?

If you feel wary of optimism, you are far from alone. Writers and philosophers across human history have had ambivalent views of hope. These contradictory opinions can be seen in the often opposing interpretations of the Pandora myth, first recorded by Hesiod around 700 BC. In his poem Works and Days, Hesiod describes how Zeus created Pandora as a punishment to humanity, following Prometheus’s theft of fire. She comes to humanity bearing a jar containing “countless plagues” – and, opening the lid, releases its evils to the world. “Only Hope remained there in an unbreakable home within the rim of the great jar,” Hesiod tells us….

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2002 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Twenty years ago this day, the musical Chicago premiered. I just rewatched it on HBO Max which is why you are getting it as the Anniversary piece tonight. Well that and that Mike is extremely generous in what I can cover in this feature. Extremely generous. You are forewarned as to what the future might hold. 

I first saw this film at the theater when it came out. It’s based off the 1975 stage musical of the same name which had music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and book by Ebb and Bob Fosse. That in turn was based off Chicago, a very successful 1926 play written by Maurine Dallas Watkins. 

This film was directed by Rob Marshall and produced by Martin Richards from the screenplay by Bill Condon.  Fosse was contracted to direct this but died before he could do so. The film marked the directorial debut of Marshall, who also choreographed the film, with music by Kander and lyrics by Ebb, both had worked on the Fosse musical. Marshall would later direct Into the Woods and Mary Poppins Returns.

Chicago was primarily set in Cook County Criminal Court Building and Jail. And this is a musical which means we get to a stellar cast sing including performers I swear I never knew could do so —  Richard Gere, Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Queen Latifah, John C. Reilly, Lucy Liu, Taye Diggs, Colm Feore and Dominic West.  Gere in particular is very, very impressive though the women performers are great in part because they pass the Bechdel test in that much of the script is dialogue between women smartly done without men present. 

Reception for Chicago was almost unanimously positive. I think Robert Ebert summed it up best when he called it “big, brassy fun” which it definitely is.  It gets a most excellent eighty-six rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.  Oh, and though costly to produce at almost fifty million, it made over three hundred million. 

And yes we can tie the film into the genre as Mike pointed out to me that “?Chicago is the source of a tune Maytree used to create one of the best-ever Puppy satire filks” — here.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 17, 1899 Nevil Shute. Author of On the Beach. It originally appeared as a four-part series, The Last Days on Earth, in the London weekly Sunday Graphic in April 1957.  It was twice a film. He has other SF novels including An Old Captivity which involves time travel and No Highway which gets a review by Pohl in Super Science Stories in 1949. There’s In the Wet and Vinland the Good as well. (Died 1960.)
  • Born January 17, 1927 Eartha Kitt. Though you’ll have lots of folks here remembering her as Catwoman from the original Batman, she appeared in but four episodes there. Genre wise, she was in such series as I-SpyMission: ImpossibleMatrix, the animated Space Ghost Coast to Coast and the animated My Life as a Teenage Robot. Film wise, she played Freya in Erik the Viking, voiced Bagheera in The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story and was Madame Zeroni In Holes. (Died 2008.)
  • Born January 17, 1931 James Earl Jones, 91. His first SF appearance was in Dr. Strangelove as Lt. Lothar Zogg.  And I think I need not list all his appearances as Darth Vader here. Some genre appearances include Exorcist II: The HereticThe Flight of DragonsConan the Barbarian as Thulsa Doom and I actually remember him in that role, and Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold. Did you know the 1995 Judge Dredd had a Narrator? Well he’s listed as doing it, and Fantasia 2000 as well.
  • Born January 17, 1949 Donald Palumbo, 73. Well someone has to take us seriously. In this case, it’s this scholar. He’s done such studies as Chaos Theory, Asimov’s Foundations and Robots, and Herbert’s Dune: the Fractal Aesthetic of Epic Science FictionEros in the Mind’s Eye: Sexuality and the Fantastic in Art and Film and Worlds Apart?: Dualism and Transgression in Contemporary Female Dystopias. He has an interesting essay, “Reiterated Plots and Themes in the Robot Novels: Getting Away with Murder and Overcoming Programming” in Foundation, #80 Autumn 2000 . His latest work is A Dune Companion: Characters, Places and Terms in Frank Herbert’s Original Six Novels. Huh. I’d like to see that. 
  • Born January 17, 1952 Tom Deitz. He’s best remembered for the David Sullivan series which ran for nine novels, plus The Gryphon King, which technically isn’t part of that series. The Soulsmith is quite excellent as well. He was founding member of the SCA’s Barony of Bryn Madoc, and he won the Phoenix Award for lifetime achievement in promoting Southern fandom. Fitting for a lifelong resident of Georgia. He’s reasonably well stocked at the usual suspects. (Died 2008.)
  • Born January 17, 1962 Jim Carrey, 60. His first genre film is Once Bitten whose content is obvious from its name and which get a mere thirty-nine percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. The ‘dorable Earth Girls Are Easy was next followed up by Batman Forever in which he played a manic Riddler that I rather liked, then there’s the The Truman Show which was way cool. So may we not talk about How the Grinch Stole Christmas?  (SHUDDER!) We settled several years ago that we think that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is genre.  And I think that I’ll stop there this time. 
  • Born January 17, 1970 Genndy Tartakovsky, 52. Like Romulnan Ale, animation style is a matter of taste. So while I like his work on Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars, I can understand why many SW fans don’t as it’s definitely an acquired taste.  He also is responsible for directing the animated  Hotel Transylvania franchise. You can see a sample of his Clone Wars animation here.
  • Born January 17, 1989 Kelly Marie Tran, 33. Best known as Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi  and  Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. She voices the same character in the Star Wars Forces of Destiny animated series. She also voiced Raya in Raya and the Last Dragon and Dawn Betterman in The Croods: A New Age

(9) FAMILY FAREWELL. Christopher Rice wrote a long Facebook post about Anne Rice’s funeral in New Orleans, including the text of his eulogy.

Dearest People of the Page. We have brought Anne home. On Saturday January 15th, as we rolled to a stop on the tarmac at New Orleans International Airport, the heavens opened, and the thunder rolled, and it was as if the spirit world had heralded her return to the city of her birth, the city that always held her heart. The service was quiet and private, and a chance for close family to express their grief. The public celebration of life we will hold later in the year will be open to all of you, and it will be loud enough for Anne to hear us in heaven. She has now joined my father in the tomb in Metairie Cemetery she designed for him after his passing; their marriage, unbroken for decades, has entered immortality. My sister resides with them as well. I share with you now a portion of the eulogy I read graveside as the rain drenched our tent and a flock of blackbirds took to the sky behind me….

(10) DEL TORO’S HISTORY. “Guillermo Del Toro: ‘I saw real corpses when I was growing up in Mexico’” – the director is profiled by the New York Times.

Guillermo Del Toro used to describe Hollywood as “the Land of the Slow No”. Here was a place where a director could die waiting for a project to be greenlit. “The natural state of a movie is to be unmade,” he says over Zoom from his home in Los Angeles. “I have about 20 scripts that I lug around that no one wants to make and that’s fine: it’s the nature of the business. It’s a miracle when anything at all gets made.”

Nevertheless, Del Toro has established himself as this century’s leading fantasy film-maker, more inventive than latter-day Tim Burton and less bombastic than Peter Jackson (with whom he co-wrote the Hobbit trilogy). From the haunting adult fairytale Pan’s Labyrinth and the voluptuously garish Hellboy romps to his beauty-and-the-fish love story The Shape of Water, which won four Oscars, he is the master of the glutinous phantasmagoria….

(11) LENSMAN LOVE. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Parody ranks somewhere in there, too.“Foist Lensman: Early Fan Pastiche From the Works of Edward Elmer Smith, Ph.D.”First Fandom Experience has scans of a half dozen examples.

Fans love to pay tribute to the authors they love most. This takes the form of flattery and at times, its most sincere cousin: imitation. Imitation can stray accidentally or venture boldly into parody. The works of Edward Elmer “Doc” Smith, Ph.D. attracted all of this.

The earliest instances of fan pastiche based on Smith’s Skylark and Lensman novels appeared in fanzine that have largely been lost to history. Spurred by an inquiry from the Online Science Fiction Book Club, FFE has endeavored to make these works available. For Smith enthusiasts, we hope this is fun.
Click any image for a full-screen view.

“The Skylaugh of Space” by “Omnia”
Fantasy Magazine, v3n3, May 1934 and v3n4, June 1934
(The identity of “Omnia” is unclear. The author is described in the July 1934 issue of Fantasy Magazine as “a young chap who has shown promise in the science fiction field, having already sold stories to Wonder and Amazing. Besides, he is editor of his college humor magazine…”)

(12) WSFS. Kevin Standlee tells LiveJournal readers he has finished “Updating WSFS Documents” with changes from DisCon III. (The Business Meeting minutes are still in progress.)

The WSFS Rules website is now mostly updated. The 2021-22 WSFS Constitution and Standing Rules are updated, as is the Resolutions and Rulings of Continuing Effect, a cumulative list of resolutions passed by the WSFS Business Meeting that are likely to have an ongoing effect and rulings made by the Chair (or sometimes rulings made that were overturned on appeal) on various procedural matters.

The Minutes of the Business Meeting and the Business Passed On to the 2022 WSFS Business Meeting are nearing completion, and when they’re finished and certified by the 2021 meeting officers, I’ll update those as well.

(13) THE SHOW MUST GO ON. The New York Times says thanks to omicron “Now Is the Winter of Broadway’s Discontent”. Includes this item of genre interest —

… Now, producers have figured out how to keep shows running, thanks mainly to a small army of replacement workers filling in for infected colleagues. Heroic stories abound: When the two girls who alternate as the young lioness Nala in “The Lion King” were both out one night, a 10-year-old boy who usually plays the cub Simba went on in the role, saving the performance.

…And then there was “The Lion King,” where the young Simba went on as young Nala (uncostumed, and after a preshow explanation to the audience).

“I didn’t want the show to close,” explained the child actor, who performs as Corey J. “I was nervous at first, but then the person who plays Shenzi winked at me, and I wasn’t nervous anymore.”

In the wings between scenes, cast members cheered him on, and at the end of the show, the cast gave him the honor of the show’s final bow….

(14) BIGBUG. Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s next film is going to be released by Netflix next month.

A group of bickering suburbanites find themselves stuck together when an android uprising causes their well intentioned household robots to lock them in for their own safety.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Alan Baumler, Dann, Tom Becker, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day David Shallcross.]

Pixel Scroll 12/19/21 Who Put The Clarke In The Rama Lama File Scroll?

(1) THE HUGO RUNOFFS. The Hugo Awards official site has the 2021 voting results online. (But you already know that, right?)

  • Final ballot placements and detailed voting counts are available here (PDF).
  • Nominating details are here (PDF).

(2) CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS. Nicholas Whyte’s “2021 Hugos in detail” gives his analysis of the voting statistics released after last night’s ceremony. Here’s a narrative hook for you –

Four categories saw the total number of votes for finalists other than No Award dip below 30% of the total poll – Best Fan Writer (28.8%), Best Professional Editor (Long Form) (28.2%), Best Fanzine (27.2%), and Best Fancast (26.8%). Best Fancast was within 43 votes of not being awarded at all, due to dropping below the 25% threshold….

His comments on the Best Related Work category include:

Unusually, DisCon 3 published No Award runoff figures for every place in every category (the constitution only specifies that this should be done in determining the winner). The numbers for No Award here were particularly high in the last four places, with 358 preferring No Award to 753 who preferred George R. R. Martin Can Fuck Off Into the Sun….

Pat Cadigan shared her opinion of the result in that category with her Facebook readers.  

Also relieved that the tirade against George RR Martin did not win the Hugo. I am still baffled as to how a screed like that could have been nominated in a category that has included complex, book-length works of biography, scholarship, art, and other far more worthy examples of associated work.

I don’t care what you think of George RR Martin. I don’t care if you think the author was right. That’s not my point. A blog entry or single article is not in any way equivalent to the winner, which is a translation of Beowulf by Maria Dhavana Headley. Translating requires a lot more care, actual knowledge, and hard work than merely venting your spleen.

That would-be polemic was the Donald Trump of Hugo nominations: unworthy.

(3) MASQUERADE PHOTOS. Kevin Roche responded to a request in comments for links to DisCon III Masquerade photos.

(4) CAVALCADE OF FORMER CHAIRS. The 2021 Worldcon Chairs Photo Session is online at YouTube. Nearly all of those present at DisCon III made it to the session. Also includes current chair Mary Robinette Kowal, and a Chengdu representative.

The traditional gathering of chairs of the World Science Fiction Convention, held at DisCon III, the 79th World Science Fiction Convention, in Washington DC. Videography by Lisa Hayes.

(5) CORRECTION TO DISCON III ART SHOW SALES. “DisCon III regrets that there was an error in how sales tax was calculated for sales in the Art Show,” says today’s news release:

Instead of the correct 6% rate, it was being calculated as 10%. If you were mischarged, we are providing you two options. 

(1) You can consider the additional 4% as a bonus to the artist. We will pay the correct sales tax amount to the District of Columbia, with all of the remaining amount going to the artist.

(2) You can request a refund of the 4% overcharge by sending an email to finance@discon3.org. Please submit your request by Wednesday, December 29 as we cannot pay the artists for their sales until we know the amount due them. If you have any questions or concerns about this issue, also address them to the Finance team.

(6) THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. Kevin Standlee reports in “Worldcon 2021 Day 4: Final Business Meeting Results” what the meeting decided about seven new amendments to the WSFS Constitution that were taken up after the Site Selection report was made at Saturday’s business meeting. You can read the text of items F.1 to F.7 in the business meeting Agenda on pages 36-41. See Kevin’s post for his commentary about the proceedings.

  • F.1 One Episode per Series –– failed on a show of hands
  • F.2 30 Days Hath New Business — passed 34-15.
  • F.3 The Statue of Liberty Play — passed on a show of hands.
  • F.4 Shut Up and Take My Money — referred to a special committee 
  • F.5 A Matter of Days — adopted by unanimous consent
  • F.6 Non-transferrability of Voting Rights — adopted on a 35-22 vote
  • F.7 Best Audiobook — referred the proposal to the Hugo Awards Study Committee on a vote by show of hands.

(7) WHICH ONE IS THE FILER? Andrew (not Werdna) assures us, “I’m the non-Narn in this picture.” But he also knew that merely saying we could tell who he was by his distinctive headgear wasn’t going to be enough: “I was right — I ran into another guy with a button covered bucket hat.”

(8) RAYTHEON PRESENCE AT HUGOS. Gizmodo’s Justin Carter used his platform to presume that his opinion represents all fans’ opinions: “The Hugo Awards Face Backlash for Raytheon Sponsorship”.  But it’s true that some are protesting the decision.

…At time of writing, DisCon has yet to speak on the partnership with Raytheon for the event. For now, fans are left feeling soured that a night that should’ve been about a genre they loved had to brush up against a reality they hate.

(9) YOUR TURN IN THE BARREL. Amber Benson advises SFWA Blog readers about “Managing A Creator’s Public Profile and Navigating Audience Entitlement”.

….What happens when you step out of fandom into the pole position? A.k.a., ‘I’ve written a thing and it’s been published and now people are talking about it and me on the internet’?

Well, I’m not going to lie. You may be in for a very overwhelming and unsettling experience. Because all those feelings of ownership you had as a fan, well, they are now going to be applied to you and your work. By people you have never met before who have no compunction about @replying to you on social media in order to say mean things about you.

To a lot of these people, you have ceased to be a real live human being with feelings. You are now a “public figure” and that comes with many caveats, including being physically and emotionally vulnerable in a way that fans, with their ability to remain anonymous, are not. It also means you will be open to ridicule, judgement, and disdain online (and sometimes to your face). In balance, you will also be loved, put on a pedestal, and maybe even called a “genius.”

You and your work now belong to the world at large. And that world contains three kinds of people: fans who love what you create, critics who hate your output—and everyone else in the world who could give a crap that you make art. And between you and me, I’m not sure what’s more painful: the armchair critics who think you stink (at least they’re thinking about you) or the fact that 90 percent of the world, upon hearing your name, will only mutter: Who . . . ?

So how do you handle all of the attention—both positive, negative, and ambivalent—when you finally put your work out into this very complicated world? I have my thoughts on the subject and I will share them with you below….

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1938 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Eighty-three years ago, Hercule Poirot’s Christmas was first published by the Collins Crime Club. In the States, it bore first the title of Murder for Christmas and later A Holiday fur Murder when published in paperback.

Critics generally thought it was one of her best mysteries. The New York Times Book Review critic Issac Anderson said of it that “Poirot has solved some puzzling mysteries in his time, but never has his mighty brain functioned more brilliantly than in Murder for Christmas.”

The story was adapted for television in an episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot starring David Suchet as Hercule Poirot, first aired in the UK on Christmas 1994. The BBC has produced it twice for radio with it first being broadcast on Christmas Eve 1975 with John Moffatt as Hercule Poirot. A second production was broadcast on Christmas Eve 1986 featuring Peter Sallis as Poirot. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 19, 1902 Sir Ralph Richardson. God in Time Bandits but also Earl of Greystoke in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (which gets a remarkably great rating at Rotten Tomatoes in my opinion) and Chief Rabbit in Watership Down. Also the Head Librarian in Rollerball which I’ll admit I’ve never seen and have no desire to do so. And a caterpillar in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. And Satan in the Tales from the Crypt film. Oh, my he has had an interesting genre film career! (Died 1983.)
  • Born December 19, 1952 Linda Woolverton, 69. She’s the first woman to have written a Disney animated feature, Beauty and the Beast, which was the first animated film ever to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. She also co-wrote The Lion King screenplay (along with Irene Mecchi and Jonathan Roberts). 
  • Born December 19, 1960 Dave Hutchinson, 61. Best known for his Fractured Europe series which won a BSFA Award for the third novel, Europe in WinterEurope at Midnight was nominated for a John W. Campbell Memorial Award and the Clarke as well. I’ve listened to the entire series and it’s quite fascinating. He’s got some other genre fiction as well but I’ve not delved into any of those yet. 
  • Born December 19, 1961 Matthew Waterhouse, 60. He’s best known as Adric, companion to the Fourth and Fifth Doctors. He was the youngest actor in that role at the time. And yes, he too shows up in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. Theatre wise, he’s appeared in productions of Peter PanA Midsummer Night’s Dream (as Puck), The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Hamlet. Oddly enough, he’s not, to my knowledge, done any Who work at Big Finish.
  • Born December 19, 1969 Kristy Swanson, 53. Her first starring genre  film role was in Wes Craven’s Deadly Friend, but no doubt her best known genre role was as the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She also shows up in Alfred Hitchcock PresentsThe PhantomNot Quite Human and The Black Hole. For the record, I like her version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer! 
  • Born December 19, 1972 Alyssa Milano, 49. Phoebe Halliwell in the long running original Charmed series. Other genre appearances include on Outer Limits, the second Fantasy Island series, Embrace of the VampireDouble Dragon, the Young Justice animated series as the voice of Poison Ivy and more voice work in DC’s The Spectre excellent animated short as a spoiled rich young thing with a murderous vent who comes to a most fitting and quite bloody end.
  • Born December 19, 1975 Brandon Sanderson, 46. He is best known for the Cosmere universe, in which most of his fantasy novels, the Mistborn series and The Stormlight Archive, which was nominatedfor a Best Series Hugo at Worldcon 76, are set. He finished Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. He’s got several Hugos, both at LoneStarCon 3 for his “The Emperor’s Soul” novella and also for a Best Related Work Hugo for Writing Excuses, Season Seven
  • Born December 19, 1979 Robin Sloan, 42. Author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore which definitely has fantasy elements in it and is a damn fine read. His second novel which he sent me to consider reviewing, Sourdough or, Lois and Her Adventures in the Underground Market, is also probably genre adjacent but is also weirdly about food as well. And he’s a really nice person.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. Edd Lai is the guy – “Guy Creates Terrifying Comics That Don’t End as You’d Expect” at Pupperish.

Over the last decade or so there has been a good selection of web comics that tell some brilliant stories in a variety of different art styles. From Shen to Yehuda Devir, these brilliant comics have gained a bunch of recognition. One artist named Edd Lai has made some uplifting comics that set themselves up as horror comics and surprise you with their endings. Here are a selection of these brilliant comics. Let’s give them the recognition they deserve.

(14) WHERE IS IT? We’ve heard of unwritten codes – now Marvel gives us non-written codes. So to speak: “Marvel Comics Overhauls Digital Copy Redemption Program” at CBR.com.

Readers were taken aback this week when Marvel’s new releases did not include the traditional stickers in them that can be removed to reveal a special code that can be used to redeem a digital copy of the issue online using the Marvel Comics app. When someone inquired with Marvel as to whether it was simply a printing error, a Marvel representative revealed that it was not.

The representative explained, “Hi, Chris. It’s not a misprint, but a process update. Please follow the instructions on that code page, they will tell you step-by-step how to get codes for your comics, and any other details you need to know. Thanks!”

…If customers just have to go through a different system to get the same digital copies, this is not that significant, but fans are naturally wondering whether this is the first step towards once again stopping the digital redemption program.

(15) WITHOUT LIMITS. James Davis Nicoll tells Tor.com readers about “5 Stories in Which Great Power Is Not Always Used Responsibly”.

Imagine, if you will, that fate has imbued you with extraordinary power. Would you use that power responsibly? Would you even know what “responsibly” means? It’s easy to set out with the best of intentions, only to discover too late one has fallen into profound error. Consider these five novels.

(16) TIMELESS. [Item by Hampus Eckerman.] Not sure why this movie about a man travelling in time to celebrate Christmas in the year 2020 is listed as a Comedy. A tragedy seems more fitting. IMDb listing for the Hallmark Channel’s A Timeless Christmas.

Charles Whitley travels from 1903 to 2020 where he meets Megan Turner and experiences a 21st Century Christmas.

(17) TOP DOLLAR. An Edward Gorey illustration for a Frank Belknap Long sff collection set an auction record. Goreyana has the story: “A New Record for Gorey Art at Auction”.

…This was followed shortly thereafter by a new record auction price for original artwork by Edward Gorey – $27,500.00 (hammer price plus buyer’s premium) for a 1964  pen & ink book cover design for The Dark Beasts, a paperback collection of stories by Frank Belknap Long (this piece has not been added to my collection)….

(18) LOAD THE CANON. StarWars.com tells comics fans to mark the date: “Marvel’s Han Solo & Chewbacca Series Coming March 2022”.

The galaxy’s greatest smuggler and his Wookiee co-pilot are taking on a new job: starring in their own comic.

Han Solo & Chewbacca, a new series from Marvel, will launch in March 2022, StarWars.com can exclusively reveal. Written by Marc Guggenheim and pencilled by David Messina, the monthly comic follows Han and Chewie a few years before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, as the duo teams up with Greedo — in better times, apparently — on a heist for Jabba the Hutt….

 The comic’s writer does a Q&A in the post:

…StarWars.com: And Chewie?

Marc Guggenheim: Chewbacca’s been alive hundreds of years longer than Han. He tries to offer Han the benefit of his experience, to offer a more evolved perspective on things, but Han usually goes his own way. And the thing is, Chewie is just fine with that. He’s good to go with the flow and let Han call the shots because he knows that, no matter what, Han’s got his back. Chewie’s an interesting character to write, obviously, because he only speaks Shyriiwook, so a lot of this I have to get out by dint of the circumstances Han and Chewie find themselves in, as well as Han’s reactions to what Chewie is saying.

I’m gonna be doing a future issue exclusively from Chewbacca’s point of view, so that should be a lot of fun. Hopefully, we can get into Chewie’s head in a way we never have seen before….

(19) STARSHIP TITANIC. Michael Palin’s Starship Titanic is available to listen to at BBC Radio 4 beginning today. It will be online for another 29 days.

Michael Palin stars in an exclusive adaptation of Terry Jones’s comic novel. A tale of interstellar skulduggery, romance and unhinged robots based in Douglas Adams’s universe.

Far off in the centre of one of the less well-chartered quadrants of the universe, a vast civilisation is preparing to launch the most technologically advanced starship ever – Starship Titanic While the galaxy’s media looks on, it unfortunately undergoes SMEF (Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure) and disappears. Leovinus, the designer of the ship, uncovers shoddy workmanship, poor cybernetics and a series of increasingly eccentric robots. The owners, Scraliontis and Brobostigan, were intent on destroying the ship and claiming the insurance.

Meanwhile in Oxfordshire, four humans are inspecting a property they intend buying, only to see it crushed under the re-materialising Starship. This disaster is swiftly followed by an invitation from an over-attentive robot to come aboard, and Lucy, Dan and Nettie are catapulted into a series of increasingly bizarre encounters.

Stylistically emulating the work of the great Douglas Adams in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the late Terry Jones weaves a fabulously mad and comic tale, adapted by Ian Billings and directed by Dirk Maggs, who also directed the last four editions of the Hitchhiker’s sagas.

VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Last night’s Saturday Night Live was mostly repeats because of Covid.  They rebroadcast a 1991 holiday special on global warming featuring Tom Hanks as Dean Martin and Mike Myers as Carl Sagan.  The news is that Isaac Asimov was a character, played by Phil Hartman (who arrives at the 5:00-minute mark). I thought George RR Martin was the only sf writer parodied on SNL, but Asimov was caricatured at least once.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Sheila Addison, Dann, Nicholas Whyte, Andrew (not Werdna), Kevin Roche, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]

Pixel Scroll 12/18/21 It Was Anti-Agathics All Along

I’ve been hammering at the keyboard on one thing and another since this morning’s WSFS business meeting. Thanks to Cat Eldridge, who’s the reason there’s something to read in today’s Scroll!

(1) COVER YOUR EXPANSE. An Expanse-themed ugly sweater (really not a sweater, more of a jersey but anyway) is being raffled off for charity by the authors. Get a $5 ticket here: “The Expanse Ugly Sweater Charity Raffle Ticket”. Tickets will be on sale through December 22, 2021, at 10:00 p.m. US Central Time.

During the most recent Expanse press event in Los Angeles, Wes was given this limited-edition ugly and amazing sweater. In the spirit of the season of giving, Ty and That Guy are raffling it off to give back to the community.

Supporting Families

In honor of the classic Christmas movie Die Hard and the importance it places on family during the holidays, Ty and That Guy are putting all the money raised from this raffle to sponsor a family this year.

Community Brickworks is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization staffed entirely by volunteers that operates a food pantry and library in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia. The Ty & That Guy donation will support one or more families in the area this holiday season.

(2) 2023 WORLDCON DECIDED. Chengdu, China will host the 2023 Worldcon. Kevin Standlee’s photo of their version of Progress Report Zero is below. So is SFW’s congratulatory banner. (Click on either for a larger image.) File 770’s report of the voting and 2023 guests of honor is at the link.  

(3) GETTING READY. Cora Buhlert allowed File 770 to preview the gown she will be wearing as she participates virtually in tonight’s Hugo Awards ceremony as a finalist. Her dad took the photo.

(4) FAN SERVICE. Screen Rant is prepared to tell you “Every Sci-Fi Icon Who Guest Starred On The Big Bang Theory”.

…A good portion of Big Bang Theory‘s millions of fans likely are said geeks, considering just how many sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book icons were brought on to guest star.

This, unsurprisingly, included multiple cast members from both the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises, generally considered the two champions of mainstream sci-fi. Sadly, Harrison Ford was never among that lot, as seeing him play off his generally grumpy public persona when dealing with Sheldon being annoying would’ve been terrific. Still, the sci-fi icons Big Bang Theory did manage to enlist the services of include some of the biggest genre names ever….

…[Levar] Burton’s Star Trek: The Next Generation colleague Brent Spiner – who played Lieutenant Commander Data – also appeared on Big Bang Theory, in season 5’s “The Russian Rocket Reaction.” Spiner attends a party thrown by another former co-star in Wheaton, and notably, when Sheldon shows up, he and Wheaton finally mend fences. That’s followed by Spiner accidentally putting himself on Sheldon’s enemies list….

(5) SFF AND THE REAL WORLD. Future Tense’s Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club has selected Infomocracy by Malka Older to discuss virtually on February 2, 2022.

Science fiction can have real policy impacts, and comes rife with real-life commentary. For the third gathering of our Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club, we have selected Malka Older’s Infomocracy. The novel imagines a future where politics has become both simplified and infinitely more complex, thanks to the omniscient Information, which has led the transition from warring nation-states to a seemingly tidy form of corporate-ish global micro-democracy. 

Join Future Tense and Issues in Science and Technology at 6pm ET on February 2nd to discuss the novel and its real-world implications. The book club will feature breakout rooms (they’re fun and stress-free, we promise) where we can all compare notes and share reactions, even if we didn’t finish the book!

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1968 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fifty three years ago, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang premiered. It was directed by Ken Hughes. The film was produced by Albert R. Broccoli of James Bond fame.

The screenplay was co-written by Roald Dahl and  Hughes as rather loosely based on Ian Fleming’s Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car novel. (If you want to read it, it is available at the usual suspects at a quite reasonable price.) The novel was published in 1964 after a few months after his death.The book became one of the best selling children’s books of the year. 

Broccoli was initially not enthusiastic about it but changed his mind after the success of Mary Poppins. The film had a cast of Dick Van Dyke, Sally Ann Howes, Benny Hill, James Robertson Justice, Adrian Hall, Heather Ripley, Lionel Jeffries, Robert Helpmann, Barbara Windsor and Gert Fröbe.

The film’s songs were written by the Sherman Brothers, who had previously composed the music for Mary Poppins

Critics loved with Roger Ebert saying that “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang contains about the best two-hour children’s movie you could hope for.” The box office however was an absolute disaster as it only made eight million on the budget of ten million that it cost to produce. Ouch. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a rather excellent seventy-one percent rating.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 18, 1913 Alfred Bester. He’s best remembered perhaps for The Demolished Man, which won the very first Hugo Award. I remember experiencing it as an audiobook — a very spooky affair! The Stars My Destination is equally impressive with Foyle both likeable and unlikable at the same time. Psychoshop which Zelazny finished is in my library but has escaped reading so far. I’ve run across references to Golem100 but I’ve never seen a copy anywhere. Has anyone read It?  (Died 1987.)
  • Born December 18, 1939 Michael Moorcock, 82. Summing up the career of Moorcock isn’t possible so I won’t. His Elric of Melniboné series is just plain awesome and I’m quite fond of the Dorian Hawkmoon series of novels as well.  Particular books that I’d like to note as enjoyable for me include The Metatemporal Detective collection and Mother London. Interestingly he was a nominated a number of times for a Hugo for Best Professional Magazine for New Worlds SF, his other Hugo nomination was at IguanaCon II for Gloriana, or, The Unfulfill’d Queen.
  • Born December 18, 1941 Jack C. Haldeman II. He’d get Birthday Honors if only for On the Planet of Zombie Vampires, book five of the adventures of Bill the Galactic Hero, co-written with Harry Harrison. He’d also get these honors for chairing Disclave 10 through Disclave 17, and a Worldcon as well, Discon II. He was a prolific short story writer, penning at least seventy-five such tales, but alas none of these, nor his novels, are available in digital form. His only Award is a Phoenix Award which is a lifetime achievement award for a SF professional who has done a great deal for Southern Fandom, quite a honor indeed.  (Died 2002.)
  • Born December 18, 1946 Steven Spielberg, 75. Are we counting Jaws as genre? I believe we are per an earlier discussion here. If so, that’s his first such genre work followed immediately by Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Between 1981 and 1984, he put out Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Twilight Zone: The Movie and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. He’d repeate that amazing feat between ‘89 and ‘93 when he put out Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Hook (YEA!) which I both love followed by Jurassic Park which I don’t. The Lost World: Jurassic Park followed starting a string of so-so films,  A.I. Artificial IntelligenceMinority ReportWar of the Worlds and one decided stinker, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.   The BFG is simply wonderful. And I want one of the better Iron Giant figures on the market! 
  • Born December 18, 1953 Jeff Kober, 68. Actor who’s been in myriad genre series and films including VThe Twilight ZoneAlien Nation, the Poltergeist series,The X-Files series, Tank Girl as one of the kangaroos naturally, SupernaturalStar Trek: VoyagerStar Trek: Enterprise, Kindred: The Embraced and The Walking Dead. 
  • Born December 18, 1954 Ray Liotta, 67. We could just stop at him being Shoeless Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams, don’t you think of it as being an exemplary genre cred? Well I do. On a much sillier note, he’s in two Muppet films, Muppets from Space and Muppets Most Wanted. On a very not silly note, he was Joey in Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.
  • Born December 18, 1968 Casper Van Dien, 53. Yes, Johnny Rico in that Starship Troopers. Not learning his lesson, he’d go on to film Starship Troopers 3: Marauder and the animated Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars. Do not go read the descriptions of these films!  (Hint: the former has a nineteen percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.) He’d also star as Tarzan in Tarzan and the Lost City, show up as Brom Van Brunt In Sleepy Hollow, be Captain Abraham Van Helsing In Dracula 3000, James K. Polk in, oh really CasperAbraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter sequels, Rumpelstiltskin in Avengers Grimm and Saber Raine In Star Raiders: The Adventures of Saber Raine.

(8) SIGNING ON. Paul Weimer admired the good taste of people in line for Martha Wells’ autograph.

(9) BIGGEST FAN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, David Betancourt interviews Tom Holland about Spider-Man:  No Way Home. He notes that Holland will play Fred Astaire in an upcoming film, “a role he thinks he convinced producer Amy Pascal that he was right for when he would tap-dance on the Spider-Man set to stay warm between takes,” “Tom Holland is still a Spider-Man fan at heart”.

… Back then, when the highly anticipated trailer for “Captain America: Civil War” debuted to celebrate Spider-Man’s arrival in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Holland figured nothing would surprise him. Then Spider-Man blinked.

That subtle CGI movement of the eyes on his mask looked like a camera lens zooming in and out.It was inspired by the character’s original look in the comic books — and was designed to show the film was sprinkling the character with a bit of MCU magic. Holland, a lifelong Spider-Man fan who also happened to be Spider-Man, was caught up in the hype….

(10) ANOTHER BRIDGE TO CROSS. Comicbook.com has the photo: “The Orville Season 3 First Look Released”.

Hulu has provided The Orville fans with the first look at the show’s return as The Orville: New Dawn. That new subtitle comes as The Orville becomes a streaming original on Hulu, leaving its broadcast home, FOX, behind. It’s been a long wait, but The Orville fans can finally start counting down the weeks. The new image shows several returning characters: Capt. Ed Mercer (Seth MacFarlane, series creator), Cmdr. Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki), and Lt. Gordon Malloy (Scott Grimes), and Isaac (Marc Jackson) at their posts on the ship’s bridge. Recurring guest star Admiral Halsey (Victor Garber) is also present.

(11) FUZZY MEMORY. MeTV asks if you “Ever wonder why the women on ‘Star Trek’ appear out of focus?” Learn more about Classic Trek’s cinematographer at the link.

… The soft focus was often paired with romantic, swooning music. While the crew members were shot heroically in blazing light and sharp focus, love interests, on the other hand, looked more like watercolors. To achieve the effect, thin layers of plastic, or diffusion filters, were placed before the lens for those shots. No, as far as we know, Vaseline was not smeared on the lens. The technique came to be known as “The Gaussian Girl,” named for the Gaussian blur. …

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Kevin Standlee, Sheila Addison, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern, who says the key is in this YouTube video.]

To Be Fair, I Was Left Unsupervised: A Disjointed Chronicle of 79th World Science Fiction Convention, Discon III

By Chris M. Barkley:

DAY ONE

The day started out as pretty dreary to fly out of Cincinnati. The morning was punctuated by heavy rain showers and overcast skies. But, as the morning progressed, the skies cleared from the west and the sun revealed itself in full splendor.

My partner Juli and I received our first bit of DisCon III news just before we boarded our plane. Kevin Standlee reported on the geographic distribution of the 2023 Site Selection ballots in advance of the end of voting on Friday. The fact that this dispatch reflected that the Chengdu bid was projected to win in a landslide caused a HUGE kerfuffle online and at DisCon III. So much so that the upper management of DisCon III, asked that the post be removed and/or redacted online. And shortly thereafter, it was.   

I must note here that Kevin Standlee has been a very good friend of mine over the past twenty plus years and that my heart goes out to him. But I fear that he has done the Worldcon and the Site Selection process a great disservice by his actions. 

This development came on the heels of an editorial published Tuesday on File 770 by the distinguished UK fan Colin Harris, who suggested that if the bid from Chengdu did win that the fan community should take a deep breath and accept the results of the election. 

I have heard a great many good things about the members of Chengdu bid, in the earnest efforts to become a part of the worldwide community of fandom and their work towards winning the 2023 bid. I applaud their efforts, but I must say that my only fear, along with many others, is not any racial animus towards Chinese fans but that the authoritarian government of the People’s Republic of China may interfere with the convention committee, its members and its programming.
 
(Thursday morning addendum: Kevin Standlee has been removed as the Chair of WSFS Business Meeting and also been fired as an advisor from 2023 Winnipeg bid for in an announcement on the JOF Facebook page, “acting without consulting the bid’s senior management”. )    

Well, counting Wednesday, there are three more days of voting to go. As NBC’s statistical analyst (and khaki pants advocate) Steve Kornacki will tell you, the early vote may be in but all of the precincts have yet to be heard from and that it’s still anyone’s race. We’ll find out for sure by late Friday night or very early Saturday morning. Watch This Space. 

The flight was smooth and the landing was only slightly terrifying. Being seated on the left side of the plane, Juli and I were treated to a 45 second tour of all of the classic tourist sights anyone could want; the Capitol Building, the National Mall, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials AND the Watergate apartment and business complex. So much for sightseeing! 

As we were strolling through National Airport in search of the taxi station, we spied a cute CNBC kiosk. We didn’t stop to shop but I am imagining that all of the Brian Williams items have been marked down ninety percent. Just Sayin’…

At first sight, the Omni Shoreham Hotel looks quite massive; it is at least several hundred yards long and ten stories high. The exterior looks rather modern but the interior has the feel of an older hotel. Inside we found a spacious area around the lobby but it feels rather smaller as you journey inwards. Which leads me to the first of several criticisms of the hotel, the elevators are dreadfully small. So I can only imagine how chaotic things are going to get as people want to go to parties, programming events or checking in and out. 

Accessibility for the disabled was a hot topic before the convention and the Omni Shoreham’s deficiencies were on full display as I noticed many individuals struggling to get to Opening Ceremonies. This is not to say that accessible services are non-existent, but it is sorely in short supply abound the entire hotel. Did I mention that those elevators are REALLY SMALL?

Easily getting through Registration has never been a hallmark of any convention and DisCon III was no exception. The incredibly long line stretched from the Western part of the Promenade all the way to the Eastern Promenade elevator bank. Juli and I entered the end of the line around 2:30 p.m. After fifteen minutes, I decided to go forward to investigate why. 

What I found were two people seated at a station near the Registration Desk checking everyone’s Covid-19 vaccination cards. Only two. Around the corner, there were only two or three people relentlessly processing convention badges. 

It was at this moment that DisCon III was critically short of volunteers. Everyone reading this knows that Worldcons are run by volunteers. 

I, for one, refuse to completely blame DisCon III for the shortage of people working the convention. They have been begging for help for months and due to the pandemic and moving the convention date to December has decimated the number of people who normally would have volunteered. 

(Personal Note: I was asked to head up the Press Office earlier this year but I declined because I was unable to persuade the people I usually work with to come to DisCon III. This was the impetus for me to write the Press Office Manual and its anecdotal notes that were published here several months ago.)

But here we are. And we will have to make do with the resources we have on hand.   

ON the bright side, EVERYONE was masked and distancing as well as they could. 

At around 3:30 p.m., I was beginning to think that Juli and I wouldn’t make it to Opening Ceremonies so I took some drastic action. I hated to cut through the throngs of people waiting but I went to the Press Office (which was conveniently located near Registration), made the acquaintance of Kevin, the Deputy Head of the office, who provided us with press ribbons and made sure Juli and I got our badges. We then rushed off to find the Regency Ballroom, which was located on a lower level of the hotel.

And Opening Ceremonies were a splendid affair, hosted by Ulysses E. Campbell, and featuring a performance from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Show Choir (who serenaded the group with a medley of Christmas carols, complete with choreography!) and an honor guard as well. I was personally delighted that the recipient of this year’s Big Heart Award was given to longtime fan Linda Deneroff, who was absolutely stunned and speechless (a rare occurrence, I assure you) as she accepted her plaque. 

The event climaxed with Sebastian Martorana’s incredibly informative presentation on how he fashioned this year’s Hugo Award base, which were made from the same sort of marble from Baltimore that was used to construct the top portions of the Washington Monument.  

Unfortunately, we had to leave right afterwards because it was 5:15 p.m. and my first panel, “What Makes A Classic A Classic,” was due to start at 5:30. There was another mad dash to find the Calvert Room, which we found with minutes to spare.

What followed was a wild and wooly hour about how the panel felt about what makes our favorite works of sf and fantasy classics. Our Moderator was Shaun Duke of the Skiffy and Fanty podcast and featured myself (singing, wut?!?!?), author, scholar and editor Ellen Kushner, collector and writer Bradford Lyau and the legendary fan editor and writer John Hertz. A full audio version will be posted on File 770 sometime in the next day or so.     

Finding dinner was strangely fortuitous; Robert’s, the restaurant located in the atrium of the hotel, told Juli that they were closing at 7:00 p.m. due to a lack of serving personnel and supplies. You would have thought that the hotel would have made plans for extra service with a major convention starting that week. Well, noted and logged… 

That threw us both for a loop. After seeing the meager offerings at the pop up takeaway in another corner of the hotel, we decided to go to one of the eateries on the corner of Calvert Street and Connecticut Avenue.

On our way out the door, we encountered mega-fan Bobbi Armbruster, her husband Warren, Kathi Overton and her partner John Pomeranz. They all enthusiastically endorsed going to The Gourmand Grill, a Mexican American place that was a short walk right around the corner.      

It was a rather small place down a steep set of stairs but Juli and I were totally enchanted by the atmosphere, the affordable menus and the incredibly helpful wait staff.

When someone canceled an order of Chipotle Shrimp, our server offered it to us at no extra charge. I had the Fish and Chips and Juli had the Meatball appetizer with a small side salad. Everything was eagerly devoured. I am quite certain we will be returning before the end of the convention.

At around 8:30 p.m., I wanted to go find the Con Suite. Juli was feeling rather tired and decided to retire to our room.

After a bit of confusion about its location, I was told that the Con-Suite was located in Room 840 in the Western part of the hotel. Upon arrival, I was informed that they had closed at 8:30. A passerby did mention that there was a party being held by a group called TANSTAAFL on the fifth floor.

While I was there, I was asked by Dave McCarty to engage in a contest. Once he outlined what it was all about, I enthusiastically accepted the challenge. What is it? What is it all about? I’ll explain in a future post, AFTER I have performed my part. Laters!

I snacked on a few dessert items and then I decided to call it a day at around 10 p.m.

After seeing what happened today, I knew tomorrow would be more of the same, if not more so. 

More As It Happens, Your Faithful Correspondent

Chris B.

On Site Head Count: Not Available.

Luminaries Spotted Today: Nancy Kress, Dave McCarty, John Picacio, Marah Searle-Kovacevic, Tammy Coxen, Greg Ketter, Ellen Kushner, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, Lt. Colonel Jonathan Brazee (Ret.), Kathi Overton, John Pomeranz and Michael J. Walsh.

Standlee Reports Number of 2023 Site Selection Ballots Validated [Redacted]

[Kevin Standlee was one of Winnipeg’s representatives at the 2023 Worldcon Site Selection vote validation, and he has sent the following information to File 770 as well as posting it to his Livejournal. These figures represent the ballots cast before on-site voting begins today at DisCon III. However, Standlee has since responded to comments on his blog that for reasons “not every ballot was tallied in the country count” he did, so the totals could actually be higher.]

Update 12/15/2021 7:56 p.m. Pacific. Kevin Standlee writes:

Mary Robinette Kowal has fired me as WSFS Business Meeting Chair, and the Winnipeg in 2023 bid committee has released me from the committee. I appear to have acted precipitously and without proper consultation with my management in either my Worldcon or Bid connections. The fault for those decisions was mine and mine alone.

Mary Robinette has asked me to ask you to remove the votes-per-country information and other voter-count information. I told her that I have no control over what you do, but that I would send the request to you.

File 770 has redacted the site selection voting statistics and country table from the post.

By Kevin Standlee: Validating advance site selection ballots took about 10-1/2 hours (from 3 PM Tuesday to 1:30 AM Wednesday). My count shows that we validated [redacted] ballots, of which [redacted] were from China, [redacted] were from the USA, [redacted] from Canada, [redacted] from the UK, and the remainder from other countries.

I was one of Winnipeg’s two representatives at Tuesday’s advance ballot validation. Two people from the Chengdu bid were present as well. Initially, the bidders were doing most of the validation, but as the day wore on and Site Selection drafted in more staff to do validation in multiple “streams,” those of us from the bids were mostly watching the DisCon III team doing the work of checking ballots to confirm that they were from registered members and that they had a valid voting token. (That means that they had paid the Advance Supporting Membership Voting Fee.)

At one point, Site Selection Administrator Tim Szczesuil quoted a figure of [redacted] ballots received; however, as the day wore on, it became clear that there were hundreds of duplicate ballots cast by many members from all around the world, as people submitted their ballots multiple times, probably because they were worried that their ballots had not been received. This did slow down the validation process considerably, because we had to identify duplicates and cull them out of the count.

The Winnipeg bid partially asserted our right under WSFS Constitution section 4.5.1 to extract information from the voter data, but only the country from which the ballot was cast. (We had the right to copy all voter details, but did not assert it.) In practice, this meant that after ballots were validated, we ticked off the country from where they came. This does mean that we might have under-counted.

The following table is what I got. It does not include a small number of ballots that have issues such as we can’t read enough information on the ballot to confirm the voter’s identity and other mechanical problems. Tim Szczesuil says he will make initial rulings on these ballots on Wednesday.

[Table redacted]

Again, the figure of more than [redacted] came from the count of ballots received, and that included a huge number of duplicates that were culled from the final count. We did have to look at all of them, however, which means that we managed to work through the total number of advance ballots more quickly that we did for the 2,107 ballots cast in 1991 in Chicago.

The ballots were folded in such a way that those of us doing the validation could not see how the voter cast their ballots. The only exception were the unsigned ballots, where one of the Administrators opened the ballot and marked it as No Preference, per the rules. I do not have a count of how many such ballots were so marked.

The Winnipeg committee asked the Administrators to not separate the voter information from their ballots until after the adjournment of the Friday WSFS Business Meeting. There are potential issues with many ballots that may need to be adjudicated by the Business Meeting before then. (Of course, I will recuse myself from any Site Selection business that comes before the meeting.)

I initially thought we would have broken the total votes record set in 2015 already, but after eliminating all of those duplicates, we’re not there yet; however, there is still three days of on-site voting to come.