Pixel Scroll 6/8/22 Goodness, Gracious, Great Scrolls Of Fur

(1) BIG RESPONSE. The “Send Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki to Worldcon” GoFundMe appeal passed its $7,000 goal in just over a day. A total of $7,460 has been raised from 156 donors at this writing.

(2) WHEN THE MOON HITS YOUR EYE. [By Mike Kennedy.] OK, so it wasn’t as big as the Moon (or even a pizza pie) but the “love tap” that the James Webb Space Telescope received was from an object bigger than expected. “NASA’s new powerful space telescope gets hit by larger than expected micrometeoroid” at The Verge.

NASA expected the JWST to be hit by quite a few micrometeoroids over its lifetime, but also expected them to be typically smaller than a grain of sand. One of the impacts received so far, though, was from an object bigger than that (though NASA hasn’t said just how big). It damaged one of the mirrors enough to cause a “marginally detectable effect in the data.“ Controllers are still working on it, but they feel they can make sufficient adjustments to the mirror to partially cancel the data distortion.

…Since its launch, JWST has already been hit by at least four different micrometeoroids, according to a NASA blog post, but all of those were small and about the size of what NASA expected the observatory to encounter. A micrometeoroid is typically a small fragment of an asteroid, usually smaller than a grain of sand. The one that hit JWST in May, however, was larger than what the agency had prepared for, though the agency didn’t specify its exact size. NASA admits that the strike, which occurred between May 23rd and May 25th, has caused a “marginally detectable effect in the data” and that engineers are continuing to analyze the effects of the impact….

(3) THE DECLARATION OF SWEETWEIRD. Charlie Jane Anders promulgated “The Sweetweird Manifesto” this week. The post names plenty of works she regards as examples and creates a retroactive history of the form.

…And here’s where I should admit that sweetweird isn’t actually a formal movement, and nobody except for me has been using that term. I wrote in my recent writing advice book Never Say You Can’t Survive that I’m burned out on “grimdark” storytelling that revels in nastiness and extreme violence, and instead I’m ready for “sweetweird.”… 

What is Sweetweird?

The core idea of sweetweird is: the world makes no sense, but we can be nurturing, frivolous and kind. We don’t have to respond to the ludicrous illogic of the world around us by turning mean and nasty, or by expecting everyone else to be horrible. At the very least, we can carve out friendly, supportive spaces in the midst of chaotic nonsense, and maybe help each other survive.

Instead of demanding that the universe stop being a farrago, we embrace the strangeness and make it our own. The unrealness of our consensus reality liberates us, because it undermines the fiction of “normality” and creates a space for us to be our authentic eccentric selves. Decency without conformity, joy that doesn’t depend on a false sense of stability. Affectionate silliness….. 

(4) FREE READS. Aliette de Bodard alerted fans that two of her short stories are available to read for free:

“Sword of Bone, Halls of Thorns” at The Sunday Morning Transport is a story about an exorcist, a talking sword, creepy vegetation and how the choices we make haunt us beyond death and rebirth. 

“The Scholar of the Bamboo Flute” is a reprint available in Uncanny Magazine. Basically it’s Utena-inspired sapphic shenanigans set in a 19th Century Vietnamese-esque academy. (if you don’t know the anime Utena, let’s just say it involves magical duelling, a princess and a whole hell of a lot of queerness, and it’s one of my absolute favourites–a formative watch for me). 

(5) ARTIST Q&A. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association’s SPECPO blog posted “An Interview with Austin Hart, Star*Line 44.3 Cover Artist, by Jean-Paul Garnier (editor)”.

What led you into the visual arts, and what inspires you to create?

I just admired people that could draw from an early age. I had a couple of uncles that were good artists, and my dad is an architect and my mom is good at drawing even though she doesn’t do it much. I remember some kids in my classes in elementary school that were good artists early on and just trying to keep up with them. Marvel and Image comics and trading cards were very popular and I liked drawing characters and weapons from RPGs. I remember finding out about Robert Crumb, and later Frank Frazetta, early on and that raised the bar in my head for what was possible, but I could never be as good as they are. I am more impressed by pros who can do quick lose expressive sketches with very few lines than people who can make a fully rendered drawing or painting. I am very envious of those types of pros.

(6) SFF’S OWN LOST CAUSE MYTH. Camestros Felapton took notes on a 95-minute YouTube chat between host Ethan Van Sciver and guest Larry Correia: “Watching You Tube so you don’t have to: Larry & Ethan edition”.

…What sustained me through what was an extraordinarily dull experience was the question on whether the elephants in the room would get mentioned. Put these guys together and there are two elephants: one quite significant and based in Switzerland and one less so and based in California.

… In short, EVS and LC had a lot in common to talk about! You won’t be surprised to discover that they didn’t talk about it either…

…After that, we get a garbled history of the Puppy campaigns. Events get shoehorned together and the absence of Vox Day from the story looms ever larger. It becomes this big mysterious thing as to why people might think of the Sad Puppy 2 campaign as being racist and misogynistic (hint: Vox Day aside from anything else). The absence of Day from the narrative enables this spin that the pushback against the Sad Puppy campaign from a diversity perspective was wholly irrational…

(7) THE WORLD NEEDS A HERO. DC dropped this trailer for Black Adam today. Only in theaters October 21.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1984 [By Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-eight years ago on this day, Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, the sequel to the Hugo-winning Raiders of the Lost Ark, premiered. It’s actually a prequel to that film. Once again it’s directed by Steven Spielberg from a story by George Lucas. The screenplay was by the husband and wife team of Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, best known for American Graffiti which yes involved both George Lucas and Harrison Ford. 

Harrison Ford was of course back along with Kate Capshaw, Amrish Puri, Roshan Seth, Philip Stone and Ke Huy Quan. Capshaw would marry Spielberg seven years later and yes they are still married, bless them! 

I’ll admit that Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom was nearly not as fun for me as Raiders of the Lost Ark but critics loved it, with Roger Ebert in his Chicago Sun-Times review saying it was “the most cheerfully exciting, bizarre, goofy, romantic adventure movie since Raiders, and it is high praise to say that it’s not so much a sequel as an equal. It’s quite an experience.”  

And Kathleen Carroll of the New York Daily Postwas equally exuberant: “Indie, you will be happy to learn, hasn’t changed a bit. Played with gruff determination by the appealingly rugged Harrison Ford, he continues to set quite a pace for himself in Spielberg’s rip-roaring, boldly imaginative sequel to his blockbuster hit.” 

It’s worth noting that It did get banned in India which as one who spent considerable time in Sri Lanka is something I fully understand as there are truly disgusting Indian stereotypes in that film.

It was fantastically profitable as it cost just under thirty million in production and publicity costs and made ten times that at the box office in its initial run! 

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes are very fond of it, giving it an eighty-four percent rating. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 8, 1910 – John W. Campbell, Jr.  Author of half a dozen novels, a score of shorter stories like “Who Goes There?” and “Forgetfulness.” For 34 years he edited Astounding, renamed Analog, and a short-lived fantasy companion, Unknown (see Fred Smith’s Once There Was a Magazine). Ushered in the Golden Age of SF. Won 17 Hugos, of which nine were Retrospective, all but one for editing (the exception: Retro-Hugo for “Who Goes There?”). On the other hand, in his ASF editorials he supported many forms of crank medicine, and promoted Dianetics, and specious views about slavery, race, and segregation, all of which was well-known in sf fandom. In the Sixties he rejected Samuel R. Delany‘s Nova for serialization saying that he did not feel his readership “would be able to relate to a black main character.” Focusing on his foundational contributions, his name was put on the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, but after 46 years it was renamed the Astounding Award when a winner called him out for “setting a tone of science fiction that still haunts the genre to this day.” (Died 1971) [OGH]
  • Born June 8, 1915 Frank Riley. He’s best known for They’d Rather Be Right (co-written with Mark Clifton) which won a Hugo Award for Best Novel at Clevention (1955). Originally published in serialized form in Astounding unlike his eight short SF stories that were all published in If. Sadly he’s not made it into the digital realm yet except for scattered stories. (Died 1996.)
  • Born June 8, 1917 George D. Wallace. He’s here for playing Commando Cody in the early Fifties Radar Men from the Moon movie serial. He would later show up as the Bosun on Forbidden Planet, and had minor roles late in his career in MultiplicityBicentennial Man and Minority Report. He also played a Star Fleet Admiral in “The Man of the People” episode of The Next Generation. (Died 2005.)
  • Born June 8, 1926 Philip Levene. He wrote nineteen episodes of The Avengers including creating the Cybernauts which won him a Writer’s Guild Award, and served as script consultant for the series in 1968–69. He also has three genre acting credits, one as a Supervisor in “The Food” episode of Quatermass II; the second as a Security Guard in the X the Unknown film, and finally as Daffodil in Avenger’s “Who’s Who” episode. (Died 1973.)
  • Born June 8, 1928 Kate Wilhelm. Author of the Hugo–winning Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang. She also won a Hugo for Best Related Book and a Locus Award for Best Nonfiction for Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. SFWA renamed their Solstice Award the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award. She established the Clarion Workshop with her husband Damon Knight and writer Robin Scott Wilson. (Died 2018.)
  • Born June 8, 1946 Elizabeth A. Lynn, 76. She is well known for being one of the first genre writers to introduce gay and lesbian characters as an aspect of her stories. So in honor of her, the widely known A Different Light chain of LGBT bookstores took its name from her novel of that name. Her best known work is The Chronicles of Tornor series. Her Watchtower novel won a World Fantasy Award as did “The Woman Who Loved the Moon” story. 
  • Born June 8, 1947 Sara Paretsky, 75. Best best known for her private detective novels focused on V.I. Warshawski, she has one genre novel in Ghost Country. It too involves V.I. Warshawski and may or may not involve things of supernatural nature. I haven’t encountered it, so I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who has. 
  • Born June 8, 1973 Lexa Doig, 49. Cowgirl the hacker on TekWar,the post-Trek Shatner series that he actually made sense in as opposed to Barbary Coast. She was also Andromeda Ascendant/Rommie on Andromeda and Sonya Valentine on Continuum, and the voice of Dale Arden in the animated Flash Gordon series. One-offs in Earth: Final ConflictThe 4400Stargate SG-1, Eureka, V, Smallville, Supernatural and Primeval: New World

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Mannequin on the Moon has a wonderful word processing gag.
  • Crankshaft is about someone who hasn’t kept up with the times. (Which it usually is, come to think of it.)

(11) HEAD OUT ON THE HIGHWAY. This bookseller delivers – the entire store! “Rita Collins Drives a Traveling Bookstore Around the United States” at Today.

From May to October, you can find Rita Collins, 70, in the front seat of a white Sprinter van, driving across America. In this era of RVs and #vanlife Instagram photos, Collins’ ride is set apart. Rattling around, in the back of her van, is a fully functional used bookstore.

While stopping in small towns and cities around the U.S., Collins relishes in the wonder that comes across people’s faces when they realize this van is not like any other. Whether she’s parked outside of a book festival, coffee shop or farmer’s market, Collins finds herself having the same conversation, encouraging people to climb the wooden steps and take a peek inside….

Like most traditional bookstores, St. Rita’s Traveling Bookstore and Textual Apothecary has floor-to-ceiling shelves organized by genre, overhead lighting and a carpet on the floor. The main difference, of course, is that it’s on wheels. The bookstores’ 600 volumes are set at a 15 degree angle to keep them from falling as Collins drives from state to state — so far, she’s been to 30, and has traveled cross-country three times. 

(12) HERE COMES THE PITCH. “’Ms. Marvel’ directors presented a PowerPoint to Kevin Feige to convince him to include animation, inspired by ‘Into the Spider-Verse’” at MSN.com.

…With past shows like “Moon Knight,” “Hawkeye,” “Loki,” and “WandaVision” taking on a more serious tone, here comes a standout show that’s refreshingly light.

You can give some of that credit to filmmaking duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah.

The Moroccan-Belgian filmmakers (known collectively as Adil and Bilall) instantly saw “Ms. Marvel” as a show that should be filled with color, life, and celebration of culture….

Adil and Billal felt animation would make the show pop. So they compiled a presentation with things that inspired them and headed to the Marvel Studios offices to pitch how they would direct the series to studio head Kevin Feige and his team.

“Kevin walked in and I have to admit, I was a little starstruck,” Bilall said. “We did this whole PowerPoint presentation and we told them that this is our influences for the show. ‘Into the Spider-Verse’ was a big one because of the animation.”

“For us, the animation was something we always wanted to put into it,” Adil added. “We wanted to portray that dream world of Kamala Khan and the comic book aspect to it. We were afraid that Kevin would say no because it’s different from the other shows of the MCU.”

(13) THEY ROCK TO THE TREES. A 2015 article at Hollywood.com involving Andy Serkis, The Imaginarium, motion capture, and animation — with a nod to 2001: A Space Odyssey — tells how an “Andy Serkis meeting inspired Coldplay’s chimp video”.

A chance meeting between British rocker Chris Martin and actor Andy Serkis inspired the band to embrace motion-capture technology for a new music video.

The musicians were transformed into chimps in the promo for their new single Adventure Of A Lifetime using techniques pioneered in Hollywood movies such as Avatar and The Lord of The Rings.

It has now been revealed the idea came about after frontman Chris bumped into Andy on a plane, and the pair discussed the actor’s experiences with motion-capture on films such as King Kong and the Planet of the Apes series.

The rockers spent six months making the short clip, and used “full motion performance capture rigs” to transform themselves….

Coldplay – Adventure Of A Lifetime (Making Of Video)

Coldplay – Adventure Of A Lifetime (Official Video) – YouTube

(14) HERMAN, LILY, & GRANDPA, OH MY. ScreenRant invites us to watch “’The Munsters’ Return in First Trailer for Rob Zombie Movie”. The Munsters will premiere this fall on Universal All Access.

…Today, Universal released the first teaser for the film, which is practically a shot-for-shot remake of the original Munsters opening credits, complete with the classic Munsters theme song. It makes it pretty clear that if you were expecting Zombie to turn The Munsters into a stereotypical Rob Zombie movie full of blood and guts, you were mistaken. (Zombie has already said, this is not an R-rated reimagining; it’s a PG-rated tribute.)…

(15) X MINUS TWO. Paramount Plus promises this is “the dumbest science fiction movie ever made!” Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe, streaming on June 23,

In perhaps the dumbest space movie ever made, Beavis and Butt-head are sentenced to Space Camp by a “creative” judge in 1998, leading to a trip on the Space Shuttle, with predictably disastrous results. After going through a black hole, they reemerge in our time, where they look for love, misuse iPhones, and are hunted by the Deep State. Spoiler: They don’t score.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Alasdair Beckett-King asks, “What happens if you merged King of the Hill and Lord of the Rings?” in “Return of the King of the Hill of the Rings”.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/2/22 We Don’t Talk About Pixel (Scroll, Scroll, Scroll)

(1) FENCON. FenCon in Dallas, TX announced on March 29 one of their guests of honor this year will be Larry Correia. They got a little pushback (a couple of FB comments, a handful of tweets), so the committee issued this statement on Facebook.

Correia commented on his blog yesterday:

FenCon announced that I am their writer Guest of Honor. Immediately a bunch of Caring Leftists threw a temper tantrum and demanded that I get kicked out because of my evil badthink. But FenCon issued a statement and stuck to their guns. So that was refreshing! I’ve found it’s about 50/50 when SJWs throw a tantrum if the event caves and kicks me out or not.

(2) CENSORSHIP NEWS. Follett comes up with ways for parents to block what kids check out of libraries. Book Riot has details: “Technology for Parent Monitoring of Student Library Use is Being Developed by Follett: This Week’s Book Censorship News”.

… Follett had already began thinking about ways parents can restrict their children’s access to library books, however. The CEO of Content, Britten Follett, told Publishers Weekly that the company had already been contacted by districts in Florida and Texas back in February about tools to comply with “parents’ rights” bills. Since then, many more states have had similar legislation put forward.

Some of the solutions on the table include parents blocking access to certain titles, as well as an automatic email that sends students’ check outs to their parents. The Georgia school district who contacted Follett also asked for an option to restrict books based on category or tag, such as blocking access to any LGBTQ books.

Systems like this are most harmful for the students who need access to books and other library resources the most: queer kids and teens whose parents are unsupportive, students looking for safer sex information, children with abusive parents looking for resources to keep themselves safe, and more. For these students, the library could be the safest place they can go, and this would cut off that lifeline….

(3) PLUGGED IN. At Camestros Felapton, in “A cat reads Neuromancer”, Timothy the Talking Cat demonstrates the kitty litterary insights for which he has become famous.

…Yesterday, I decided to amuse myself by reading a romance novel. I picked from the shelf the first one I could see, a slim hardback novel with a jaunty yellow dust jacket entitled “New romancer”. Not merely a romance novel but (like me) an advent guard one, pushing beyond the limitations of the kind of middle-brow tastes that you or that fool Clamberdown Fossilchute….

(4) SILVER SHAMROCK PUBLISHING CANCELS ITSELF. The promotional message quoted here by Roxie Voorhees from Silver Shamrock Publishing about Gene O’Neill’s The White Plague Chronicles attracted so much social media criticism that the business has shut down.

Several authors whose books had been accepted by the publisher asked for their rights to be reverted. Numerous book bloggers said they would not be reviewing anything more from Silver Shamrock.

Some who know Gene O’Neill, including Brian Keene, Jeff Mariotte, and Vincente Francisco Garcia, tweeted defenses against charges that he is a racist.

Reportedly the publisher asked O’Neill to send people to Twitter to defend the book.

Since then the company’s Twitter account @shamrock_silver has been taken down, and its website Silvershamrockpublishing.com has been turned into a “Private Site.” Before that happened the publisher reportedly said they were closing and reverting all rights.

(5) NOT TASMANIAN BUT SILURIAN. “BBC Unveils Doctor Who: Legacy of the Sea Devils Teaser” and Gizmodo sets the frame:

…Old school Who fans should get a kick out of seeing the Devils, who are making their first appearance in the post-2005 era with this special. The Devils as a sub-race of the Silurians, and first appeared in the 1972 episode of the same name during Jon Pertwee’s time as the Third Doctor. They wouldn’t appear again until Peter Davidson’s Fifth Doctor encountered them 1984, during the four-part opener to season 21, “Warriors of the Deep.” Unlike the Silurians, who’ve had a big redesign since their original debut back in 1970, the Sea Devils have mostly maintained their original appearance for the special….

(6) LORD OF THE ROGUES. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The Rogues in the House podcast, though normally a sword and sorcery podcast, discusses Lord of the Rings“There and Rogue Again – A Lord of the Rings Story”.

The Rogues sit down with Lord of Rings expert and former TheOneRing.net writer Cindy Kehler to discuss the allure of Tolkien’s classic series. Which adaptations worked? Which failed? What does the future hold? There are many questions, questions that need answering!

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1968 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fifty-four year ago, 2001: A Space Odyssey had its world premier on this date at the Uptown Theater in Washington, D.C., it would be nearly a month and three weeks, the fifteenth of May to be precise,  before the United Kingdom would see this film. 

It was directed as you know by Stanley Kubrick from a screenplay by him and Arthur C. Clarke who wrote the novel. It spawned a sequel about which the less said the better. (My opinion, not yours.)

It would win a Hugo at St. Louiscon over what I will term an extraordinarily offbeat field of nominees that year — Yellow SubmarineCharlyRosemary’s Baby and the penultimate episode of The Prisoner, “Fallout”. 

It did amazingly well box office wise, returning one hundred fifty million against just ten million in production costs. 

So what did the critics think of it then? Some liked, some threw up their guts. Some thought that audience members that liked it were smoking something to keep themselves high. (That was in several reviews.) Ebert liked it a lot and said that it “succeeds magnificently on a cosmic scale.” Others were less kind with Pauline Kael who I admit is not one of my favorite critics saying that it was “a monumentally unimaginative movie.” Humph. 

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a most excellent rating of ninety percent. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 2, 1914 Alec Guinness. Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars trilogy. (What? There were more movies after them? No!) Do you count The Man in the White Suit? Otherwise, that’s it for filmed genre roles. Theatre is another matter altogether. He played Osric first in Hamlet in the early Thirties in what was then the New Theatre, Old Thorney in The Witch of Edmonton at The Old Vic and the title role of Macbeth at Sheffield.  (Died 2000.)
  • Born April 2, 1921 Redd Boggs. Los Angeles fanzine writer, editor and publisher. The 1948 Fantasy Annual was his first zine with Blish as a contributor with Discord being nominated for the Best Fanzine Hugo in 1961. He was nominated for the Retro Hugo for Best Fan Writer, and Sky Hook was nominated for Best Fanzine. Boggs was also a member of First Fandom. (Died 1996.)
  • Born April 2, 1926 Robert Holmes. Scriptwriter who came up with some brilliant Doctor Who stories including the Fourth Doctor-era The Talons of Weng-Chiang, one of my all-time favorite tales, which he collected in Doctor Who: The Scripts. He was the script editor on the series from 1974 to 1977and was in ill health during much of that time. He died while working on scripts for the second and final Sixth Doctor story, The Trial of a Time Lord. (Died 1986.)
  • Born April 2, 1935 Sharon Acker, 87. Here for being Odona in “The Mark of Gideon “ a third-season episode of Trek. She had appearances on a number of genre series of the time — The Wild Wild WestMission: ImpossibleThe Delphi BureauGalactica 1980The Incredible HulkThe Powers of Mathew Starr and Knight Rider.
  • Born April 2, 1939 Elliot K. Shorter. He began attending cons in the early Sixties and was a major figure in fandom through the Seventies. Some of the zines he worked on were Engram, and Niekas. As the 1970 TAFF winner he was also made fan guest of honor at Heicon, the 28th Worldcon, in Heidelberg Germany. And he helped Suncon, the 1977 Worldcon. Mike has a detailed and quite insightful obituary here. (Died 2013.)
  • Born April 2, 1945 Linda Hunt, 77. Her first genre film role was Mrs. Holly Oxheart In Popeye. (Anyone here who’s disputing that’s genre? I thought not.) She goes on to be Shadout Mapes in Lynch’s Dune. (Very weird film. Not the novel, that film.) Next up is Dragonfly, a Kevin Costner fronted horror film as Sister Madeline. And in a quirky role, she voices Lady Proxima, the fearsome Grindalid matriarch of the White Worms, in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
  • Born April 2, 1948 Joan D. Vinge, 74. Best known I think for The Snow Queen which won a well-deserved Hugo at Denvention Two, and its sequels. Also her most excellent series about the young telepath named Cat, and her Heaven’s Chronicles, the latter which I’ve not read. Her first new book in almost a decade after a serious car accident was the 2011 novelization of Cowboys & Aliens. And I find it really neat that she wrote the anime and manga reviews for now defunct Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror anthologies.
  • Born April 2, 1978 Scott Lynch, 44. His only Award to date is a BFA for Best Newcomer. Author of the Gentleman Bastard series of novels which is now at three. He’s stated that it’ll eventually be seven books in length. And I see he was writing Queen of the Iron Sands, an online serial novel for awhile. May I note he’s married to Elizabeth Bear, one of my favorite authors? And they have three feline companions? And she rides horses? 

(9) YESTERDAY’S FOOLISHNESS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] What better way to celebrate 1st April than a look at fictions intended to deceive. And so BBC Radio 4 gave us “Screenshot, Hoaxes, fakes and pranks” starting off with that infamous War of the Worlds radio play trailer. Also in the mix is a famous British TV hoax in which a housewife was duped into thinking a real alien had landed in a flying saucer in her garden…

Ellen E Jones and Mark Kermode explore the world of screen hoaxes. Mark is joined by critic Anna Bogutskaya and actor Christian McKay for a deep dive into Orson Welles’ 1973 docudrama F for Fake, and Ellen looks back at TV hoaxes, from Alternative 3 to Ghostwatch. She also asks whether the contemporary era of fake news and deep fakes has put paid to the TV hoax.

(10) COOL FOOLS. Mary Robinette Kowal posted an elaborate hoax Worldcon bid for Iceland on April 1: “Worldon intent to bid: Iceland in 2032”.

Kowal explained the hoax today, apparently concerned that the clues to it being a joke were too subtle.

…Edited to add: This was an April Fool’s prank and I really thought that having a committee member named Rikrolson would be a giveaway. Also, I did not think that the idea of me running another convention was believable.

Two jokes that probably only Icelanders spotted are that the last thirteen first names on the committee were the Icelandic Yulelads…. 

(11) TELL YOUR FRIENDS, I’M HAT MAN. James Davis Nicoll told readers of his Patreon he is the subject of this fanfic on Reddit: “Orange covid hat man”. The anecdote is probably weird enough to be worth your time no matter who inspired it.

Sorry if this is formatted poorly but I’m in a bind. I’m a student in health sciences and I have a lab in the health expansion building once a week. Tuesday on my way to lab, I started hearing boss music coming from somewhere ahead of me. I made it to the elevator and pressed the button for the third floor only to hear the music blaring from right behind me. I turned around and there he was. Orange covid hat man….

(12) DEPTHS OF WIKIPEDIA. You can get foolishness 365 days a year by clicking @depthsofwikipedia, which was profiled this week in the New York Times: “Want to See the Weirdest of Wikipedia? Look No Further.”

Did you know that there’s a Swiss political party dedicated to opposing the use of PowerPoint? That some people believe Avril Lavigne died in 2003 and was replaced by a look-alike? Or that there’s a stone in a museum in Taiwan that uncannily resembles a slab of meat?

Probably not — unless, that is, you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of people who follow @depthsofwikipedia. The Instagram account shares bizarre and surprising snippets from the vast, crowdsourced online encyclopedia, including amusing images (a chicken literally crossing a road) and minor moments in history (Mitt Romney driving several hours with his dog atop his car). Some posts are wholesome — such as Hatsuyume, the Japanese word for one’s first dream of the year — while others are not safe for work (say, panda pornography).

Annie Rauwerda, 22, started the account in the early days of the pandemic, when others were baking sourdough bread and learning how to knit. “Everyone was starting projects, and this was my project,” she said….

(13) ABSURD QUEST. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Austin McConnell continues his exploration of the “Bargain Bin Cinematic Universe” in this video, where he explores Atlas, a superhero created in the early 1960s for Super comics, a notoriously cheap comics books publisher, McConnell tells the story of Super Comics and Atlas, who is possibly connected with body builder Charles Atlas. But McConnell says he wrote an adaptation of Atlas’s public-domain origin story and wants to make a “so bad it’s good” animated version.  If you’re interested, he has a Kickstarter!

(14) WHO OVERDUE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Colin Baker, Peter Davison, Jon Pertwee, and members of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society chat with the BBC on the show’s 30th anniversary in 1993 in this clip that dropped today.

Doctor Who has been on hiatus for several years. With the 30th anniversary of the show approaching, and the BBC helmed by new Director General Alan Yentob, what are the chances of the much-loved science-fiction show making a comeback? Andi Peters chats with some Doctor Who fans who believe that the programme is ripe for regeneration, and whose sentiments are echoed by former Doctors Jon Pertwee, Peter Davison and Colin Baker.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Mike Bentley, Anne Marble, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Maytree.]

Pixel Scroll 7/21/21 No Gods Were Stalked In the Making Of This Scroll Title

(1) HAUNTED. At Horrified: The British Horror Website, Sarah Jackson discusses the objects that become haunted in classic ghost stories written by women: “Haunted objects in women’s weird fiction”.

Like hermit crabs, ghosts and demonic forces are extremely adaptable when it comes to finding a new home. Especially fond of portraits, mirrors, and dolls, they have also been known to inhabit more mundane items. A saucepan. A fur boa. A pair of gloves. A snuff box.

Household items charged with supernatural power are a common motif in the large body of weird fiction written by British women in the first half of the twentieth century. Sometimes the effect is darkly comic, sometimes tragic, sometimes terrifying. As Melissa Edmundson notes in her introduction to Women’s Weird: Strange Stories by Women, 1890-1940 (Handheld Press, Melissa Edmundson, 2019) many of these haunted objects are ‘traditionally feminine’, and almost all have some connection to women’s changing roles and complicated relationship with domesticity and sexuality in this period.

(2) HE’LL RETIRE THE SERIES WITH THE RECORD. Stephen Jones reminded Andrew Porter about ending his Best New Horror anthology series in 2022. He wrote:

“I quietly announced it nearly two years ago.

“It was always the plan that when — or if! — I ever reached volume #31 (one more volume than THE PAN BOOK OF HORROR STORIES) then I would probably retire it. It’s an annual anthology that now takes nearly two years to compile!

“The final volume (in this format at least) will be published by PS Publishing towards the end of the year.

“It will hopefully set the record for the longest-running horror anthology series from the same editor.

“I decided to let Gardner Dozois’ record with THE YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION stand.”

(3) NEXT GAIMAN BOOK TO TV.  “Neil Gaiman’s ‘Anansi Boys’ to Get Amazon Series Adaptation” reports Variety.

…The streamer has given the limited series a six-episode order with plans in place to begin shooting in Scotland later this year. First published in 2005, “Anansi Boys” follows Charlie Nancy, a young man who is used to being embarrassed by his estranged father, Mr. Nancy. But when his father dies, Charlie discovers that his father was Anansi: trickster god of stories. And he learns that he has a brother. Now his brother, Spider, is entering Charlie’s life, determined to make it more interesting but making it a lot more dangerous.

The character of Mr. Nancy appears in both “Anansi Boys” and the Gaiman novel “American Gods,” the latter of which is currently airing a series adaptation on Starz. However, there is no connection between the two projects and “Anansi Boys” will serve as a stand-alone story.

The author tells how it happened in “The Other Half of the Secret” at Neil Gaiman’s Journal.

I mentioned that making Good Omens two is half of what I’ve been working on, and will be working on for next eighteen months, and I said I’d tell you soon enough what the other secret project I’ve been working on is.

It’s this

…And I cannot tell you how happy I am to be making it, and making it in the way that we’re making it.

Anansi Boys started in about 1996. I was working on the original Neverwhere TV series for Lenny Henry’s film company, Crucial Films.

I loved a lot of what we were doing in Neverwhere. 25 years ago, it felt like we were doing something ahead of its time. 

Lenny and I went for a walk. Lenny grumbled about horror films. “You’ll never get people who look like me starring in horror films,” he said. “We’re the hero’s friend who dies third.”

And I thought and blinked. He was right. “I’ll write you a horror movie you could star in,” I told him.

I plotted one. I tried writing the first half-dozen pages of the movie, but it didn’t seem to be right as a movie. And I was beginning to suspect that the story I was imagining, about two brothers whose father had been a God, wasn’t really horror, either.

… A top Hollywood director wanted to buy the rights to Anansi Boys, but when he told me that he planned to make all the characters white, I declined to sell it. It was going to be done properly or not at all.

And then, about ten years ago, two things happened at the same time. Hilary Bevan Jones, a producer who had made a short film I had directed (called Statuesque) mentioned she’d love to make Anansi Boys as a TV series, and a man named Richard Fee, who worked for a company called RED, spotted me eating noodles in a London noodle bar, waited outside so he didn’t seem like a stalker, and told me how much he loved Anansi Boys and that he’d love to make it into television.

I loved the TV that RED had made, loved Hilary and her team at Endor, and, unable to decide between them, suggested that they might be willing to work together. They both thought this was a good idea. …

(4) WORD. SFFANZ found a couple of noteworthy sff items on the Christchurch Word Festival program. New Zealand’s Christchurch Word Festival is on August 25-29.

Our attention has been drawn to two specfic items on the programme:

Speed Date a Speculative Fiction Author“, featuring Graci Kim, Cassie Hart, Sascha Stronach, and Karen Healey

The Stardust Cabaret“, including Sascha Stronach and AJ Fitzwater, with “star-stuff infused performances”

(5) CONLANG. BBC Radio 4’s Word of Mouth program for July 20 was on invented languages such as for Game of Thrones: Word of Mouth – “The Art of Inventing Languages”.

How does one go about inventing a language? David J. Peterson is the creator of the Dothraki and Valyrian languages for fantasy series Game of Thrones, as well as many others. He joins Michael Rosen for a playful discussion about all things conlang, and Michael tries his luck at inventing a new language for bacteria.

(6) VISUAL EFFECTS. Yesterday BBC Radio 4 also ran the third of three episodes in its series Unreal: The VFX Revolution, called  “The New Flesh”.

Oscar winner Paul Franklin tells how visual effects changed and how they changed cinema. By the mid 1990s, Industrial Light & Magic, the VFX house at the heart of the rebirth of photochemical illusions, was home to a small but growing band of digerati convinced that the next breakthrough was at their fingertips. Jurassic Park not only proved their point but showed audiences and filmmakers that nothing could be the same again. The quest for the illusion of life, for the subtlety of performance would eventually lead back to Middle Earth and the evolution of Gollum – the perfect fusion of man and digits. Meanwhile the illusory world of The Matrix put its extraordinary moments of Bullet Time at the heart of its story and ideas. This was visual effects as both story and metaphor. Christopher Nolan’s Inception took that warping of reality to a different, hyper-real realm as Paul Franklin and his team folded the streetscapes of Paris upon each other. And now? What does the future hold for storytelling and visual effects?

(7) VERDANT ARTHURIANA. A second trailer has dropped for The Green Knight, to be released July 30.

An epic fantasy adventure based on the timeless Arthurian legend, THE GREEN KNIGHT tells the story of Sir Gawain, King Arthur’s reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1995 – Twenty-six years ago, Patricia McKillip’s Something Rich and Strange won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. The book was first published in hardcover by Bantam Spectra in November 1994.  It was originally published as part of Brian Freud’s Faerielands series, a collaborative series of novels where the writer could choose from a set of illustrations that Froud did and write their novels around those pieces of art. Only two of the four planned books were published with the intended artwork, this one and The Wild Wood by Charles de Lint. A third illustration would be used but not as part of this series but rather as the U.K. edition of Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife which was intended to be part of this series but instead got a Susan Seddon Boulet cover.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 21, 1929 John Woodvine, 92. He’s first shows up genre wise in An American Werewolf in London as Dr J. S. Hirsch, but shortly thereafter he’s Master West 468 in The Tripods and Prior Mordrin in the Knights of God children’s SF serial. Finally he’s Justice Dimkind in A Perfect State which is at least genre adjacent. 
  • Born July 21, 1933 John Gardner. Grendel, the retelling of Beowulf from the monster’s viewpoint, is likely the only work he’s remembered for. Gudgekin The Thistle Girl (and Other Tales) are genre fairy tales as are The King of the Hummingbirds (and Other Tales); A Child’s Bestiary is, well, guess what it says it is. Mickelsson’s Ghosts, his final novel written before his untimely death in a motorcycle accident, is a ghost story. OGH says he remembers Gardner’s short fiction collection The King’s Indian (1974) very fondly. It made a big impression on him when he was in college and still thought he might become an sf writer. (Died 1982.)
  • Born July 21, 1944 David Feintuch. Astounding Award winner for best new writer. He wrote one science fiction series, the Seafort Saga, and a fantasy series, Rodrigo of Caledon. An eighth novel in his SF series, Galahad’s Hope, was apparently completed but never published. (Died 2006.)
  • Born July 21, 1948 Garry Trudeau, 73. Best remembered for creating the Doonesbury franchise which I’m not pretending is genre but I wanted to note his birthday.  The first daily strip was published Oct. 26, 1970 (he does new ones only on Sundays now) which means he’s been at it for over fifty years. 
  • Born July 21, 1951 Robin Williams. Suicides depress me. I remember a bootleg tape of a performance of him and George Carlin in their cocaine fueled days. No, not even genre adjacent but damn brilliant. Such manic energy. Genre wise, he was brilliant in most everything he did, be it Mork & Mindy, Hook which I adore, The Fisher KingBicentennial Man or Jumanji. (Died 2014.)
  • Born July 21, 1969 Christopher Shea, 52. Someone at casting likes him as he showed up in three Trek series, VoyagerDeep Space Nine and Enterprise playing a total of four roles. His only other genre was on Charmed
  • Born July 21, 1976 Jaime Murray, 45. If you watch genre television, you’ve most likely seen her as she’s been Helena G. Wells in the Warehouse 13, Stahma Tarr in Defiance, Fiona/the Black Fairy In Once Upon a Time, Antoinette in The Originals, and Nyssa al Ghul in Gotham. Film wise, she was Livinia in The Devil’s Playground and Gerri Dandridge in Fright Night 2: New Blood

(10) THE EARLY BIRD. San Diego Comic-Con International has posted the Program Schedule for Comic-Con@Home, running July 23-25 – there are also some pre-con items on the schedule for today and tomorrow.  

(11) IT’S A MYSTERY TO HIM. James Davis Nicoll has picked out some really good ones: “Five Captivating SFF Mystery Novels” at Tor.com. I want to read all of them.

The Apothecary Diaries 01 by Natsu Hyuuga (2020)

Kidnapped and sold as a maid to the rear palace, the sprawling residence for the emperor’s many wives and consorts, Maomao is determined to keep a low profile until her term of service is over and she can return to her old life as a would-be apprentice to her apothecary foster-father in a nearby red light district. Bright, pragmatic, and aloof, Maomao sees little to covet in the endless squabbles of the rear palace.

Sadly for this plan, Maomao’s observant nature, unusual skills, and inability to restrain from interfering in potentially lethal misadventures draw the attention of powerful eunuch Jinshi. Maomao has committed an error even riskier than offending one of the court’s most powerful functionaries. She has inadvertently shown that her deductive prowess could be useful. Which means, of course, when confronted with seemingly inexplicable mysteries—or even just the need for a toxin-resistant food taster—it is to Maomao that Jinshi turns. And if things go horribly wrong? Well, that probably won’t affect Jinshi.

(12) LEND ME YOUR EARS. At Nerds of a Feather, Paul Weimer takes “A second look at N.K. Jemisin’s 2020 Hugo Finalist novel, THE CITY WE BECAME” – which is actually a first listen.

…With the novel now a Hugo Finalist, and me, as the author, as a native New Yorker having re-read the book recently in audio, I thought a second look  at the book was in order to explore other facets of the novel, and the audiobook in particular….

While I had highly enjoyed reading the book in ebook last year, my choice of re-reading it audio, first a way to fill some loose hours in my listening schedule and a way to tag back into the book in order to rank it as a Hugo Finalist on my ballot. I was, however, riveted from the beginning for a number of reasons.

The choice of narrator, Robin Miles, is an excellent choice. Miles has worked with Jemisin before (notably on the Broken Earth trilogy) and has a very good voice for Jemisin’s word choice and sentence style. It’s a wonderfully immersive performance on her part, and her voice kept me listening, to the point of NPR style “Driveway moments” throughout the production. This is a book I could have done even better listening to it on a long driving trip.

The use of sound in the audiobook was inspired. While this is not a full cast production, and just has the aforementioned Miles as narrator, the production is not content to just use her considerable vocal talents. The audiobook employs some sound effects and tricks to help immerse the reader into, particularly, the cosmic horror of the novel in a way that the print novel doesn’t quite manage….

(13) SPACE OPERATICS. And last week Paul Weimer looked at this book for Nerds of a Feather: “Microreview: Assassin’s Orbit by John Appel”.

… With the recent publication of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Shards of Earth, and now this, John Appel’s debut into novels, Assassin’s Orbit, there appears to be a mini boomlet in space opera stories set in a verse where Earth, the center, has been removed from the equation, and in point of fact, the power that ended Earth is one that might return in full force and flower and destroy what has been built in the meantime. And, also, the theme of how expatriates, if not outright refugees, try to build a new life far away from a home they cannot return to is one that is very much of this moment….

(14) ESSENCE OF WONDER. Author Jenn Lyons will be on Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron on July 24 at 3:00 P.M. Eastern: “Dragons, Demons, Gods: Astounding Award Finalist Jenn Lyons on Her Series A Chorus of Dragons”.

This is now a streaming show that you connect with using one of these platforms: YouTube; Facebook Live; or Twitch.

(15) DUNE CAST POSTERS. Warner Bros. has released a series of character posters from Dune, the film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel directed by Denis Villeneuve. Its world premiere will happen at the Venice Film Festival in September before its October 22 release. See the character posters on Twitter. Thread starts here. Poster of Timothée Chalamet, who stars as Paul Atreides; Zendaya (Chani); Rebecca Ferguson (Lady Jessica); Jason Momoa (Duncan Idaho); Oscar Isaac (Duke Leto Atreides); Javier Bardem (Stilgar); Josh Brolin (Gurney Halleck); and Stellan Skarsgård (Baron Vladimir Harkonnen). Also Dave Bautista, Sharon Duncan Brewster, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Chang Chen and David Dastmalchian and Charlotte Rampling.

(16) PRO TIP. Larry Correia gave everyone a free lesson about “How To Write Your Author Bio” [Internet Archive link] at Monster Hunter Nation. The TL:DR version is: write a straight bio with your credits, then take the curse off by writing a blog post that belittles whatever you humblebragged about. For example:

And —

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers: Scarlet Nexus,” Fandom Games says this game is “one of the most anime-friendly games ever” but not based on any actual anime, so you don’t have to prep before playing the game.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Chris M. Barkley, N., SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 7/16/21 All Scrollnanas Make A Pixel, And So Do Many More

(1) NEW PANEL FOR CORDWAINER SMITH REDISCOVERY AWARD. [Item by Steven H Silver.] Robert J. Sawyer and Barry Malzberg have retired as judges for the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award. A new panel has been created to select the honorees.  The new panel includes Rich Horton, Steven H Silver, and Grant Thiessen.  The new panel’s first selection will be announced at Readercon the weekend of August 13-15.

(2) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman declares “It’s pure pandemonium — peanut butter pandemonium! — with John Wiswell” in Episode 149 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

John Wiswell

Over the past year, you joined me as I’ve baked and shared homemade scones and pizza, or ordered takeout weiner schnitzel and sushi, my guests and I doing our best to seize those moments of community COVID-19 tried to steal from us. In this case, John Wiswell and I pretended we were sitting across the table from each other during the Nebula Awards weekend.

John Wiswell won a Nebula Award earlier this month for the short story “Open House on Haunted Hill,” which had been published last year by Diabolical Plots. He’s also appeared in NatureUncannyWeird TalesFiresideDaily Science FictionFlash Fiction OnlineCast of WondersPodcastle, and Pseudopod. In an astonishing show of prolificacy, he managed to posted fiction on his blog every day for six straight years, which I find astonishing. I found his Nebula acceptance speech astonishing as well; it was one of the best I’ve ever heard.

John and I were supposed to enjoy specialty hamburgers together this time around, only … something went wrong, as you shall hear. Why did I end up eating a chuck roast, brisket, and short rib burger while John only got to nibble on ice cream and carrots? For the answer to that question, well … you’ll have to listen.

We discussed his motivation for giving one of the greatest acceptance speeches ever, how he learned to build meaning out of strangeness, the way writing novels taught him to make his short stories better, his dual story generation modes of confrontation vs. escape, why what we think we know about the Marshmallow Test is wrong, the reason we’re both open online about our rejections, how the love of wallpaper led to him becoming a writer, why we’ve each destroyed our early writing from time to time, what he learned writing a story a day for six years, and much more.

(3) GARCIA APPEARANCES. Chris Garcia will be doing presentations at two Mystical Minds convention gatherings in the coming year.

Mystical Minds is a new Pagan, Paranormal, and Metaphysical convention created to expand our minds as well as our networks! 

Witches, Pagans, Paranormal investigators, psychics, mediums, metaphysical practitioners, UFO experts, cryptozoologists, mystics, and other free-thinking spiritual seekers will come together in person this fall and spring for two conventions in the beautiful Bay area of Northern California! 

For the Fall Gathering / Mystical Minds convention this October in Dublin, CA he’ll present:

History of Paranormal Research in the Bay Area

Before Ghost HuntersMost Haunted, or even Ghostbusters, San Francisco and the Bay has been home to research into the unknown. From occultists and de-bunkers in the early 20th century, to TV personalities in the 70s and 80s, to hard core particle physicists, research into the paranormal has happened here! Join Chris Garcia as he tells their stories! 

At the Spring Gathering / Mystical Minds convention next February in San Jose, CA he’ll speak about —

The Winchester House

An architectural marvel, containing a story of American eccentricity, and a debate over the potential paranormal aspects. We will look at the history of the House, the stories surrounding its building, the recounting of what people have experienced, and how development in the area may have something to do with all the fuss… both before and after Sarah Winchester showed up!  

(4) HARD DRIVES OF IF. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster, Designated Financial Times Reader.] In the July 16 Financial Times, Tom Faber discusses “interactive fiction” or IF, a genre between a video game and a novel.

After a few wilderness years (around 2000), IF re-emerged among a niche community of writers and intellectuals who organised around the annual Interactive Fiction Competition, founded in1995.  This renaissance as partially triggered by  progress in technology.  Writers developed methods for inactivity such as multiple choice as an alternative to the intimidating grammar rules of the text parser. New tools such as Twine, ChoiceScript and Inklewriter empowered those without coding skills to create their own games.  This contributed to a diversification of the creator pool, particularly encouraging queer writers who have broached provocative topics not tackled in the gaming mainstream, ranging from gender dysphoria to clinical depression to unconventional kinks…

…One of the most remarkable IF writers is Porpentine, author of the vivid story With Those We Love Alive.  On this tale of an artist enslaved by an insectoid empress, you roam an alien world of ‘glass flowers on iron stalks. Canopy of leafbone.  Statues sunk into the earth.’  Porpentine asks you to swap words out, wipe them away, and — most intimately — to draw symbols on your arm which represent emotional responses to the narrative.

(5) FREE DOWNLOAD FROM TAFF. Willis Discovers America and other fan fiction by Walt Willis is the latest addition to the selection of free ebook downloads at David Langford’s unofficial Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund site, where they hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund if you please. Here’s the download page.

An attempt to collect all Walt Willis’s short fan fiction, in the old sense of invented stories about real-life fans and fandom. This omits the long and much-reprinted The Enchanted Duplicator (1954 with Bob Shaw) and its sequel Beyond the Enchanted Duplicator… To the Enchanted Convention, both already in the TAFF ebook library.

The title piece is a wildly silly imagining of Walt’s first trip to the USA in 1952, written and serialized in multiple fanzines before he actually began the journey; the text used here is from the collected edition of 1955, which included a new preface and annotations explaining some of the more arcane in-jokes. Further items range from scripts for two recorded “taperas” or tape operas that had fans rolling in the aisles at 1950s conventions, to a 1987 recasting of The Enchanted Duplicator as a computer text-Adventure game. Most of this material has never before been collected.

Edited by David Langford, who has added a few more explanatory notes; research work by Rob Hansen and others; proofreading by Pat Charnock. Cover artwork by Bob Shaw, drawn on to stencil for the collected Willis Discovers America (1955). 45,000 words.

(6) YOU COULD LOOK IT UP. John Scalzi tweeted this response to an item screencapped here the other day:

(7) ELVISH. The On fairy-stories website interviews Elvish linguistic scholar Carl F. Hostetter, editor of The Nature of Middle-Earth, a new J.R.R. Tolkien book: “From Linguistics to Metaphysics”. The book proposal with many of the edited texts was seen and approved by Christopher Tolkien, who passed away last year.

In your opinion, why did Tolkien not develop completely the Elvish languages?

For much the same reason that he never completed The Silmarillion: at first, because things grew and changed in his imagination and their expression on paper, and then, after the intervention and completion of The Lord of the Rings, because he had to revise everything to make it consistent with the published book and the thousands of years of “new history” that the introduction of the Second and Third Ages required, a task he was never able to achieve. With the languages, this was because whenever he attempted to make “definitive” decision on some point of phonology or grammar, he would almost inevitably start revising the whole system, which makes sense since any language is a complexly intertwined system, such that a change in one feature or detail can and almost always does affect other aspects. Nor, I think, was it ever Tolkien’s intention to make the Elvish languages “complete” or “finished”: they were primarily an expression of his linguistic aesthetic, and its changes over time. Unlike, say, with Zamenhof and Esperanto, Tolkien had no utilitarian purpose in mind for his languages.

(8) THINKING ABOUT THE FUTURE. ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination has published the latest issue of Imaginary Papers, their quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination. Issue 7 features a piece on The Expanse by science, technology, and society scholar Damien P. Williams, and a piece on “Sultana’s Dream,” a 1905 Bengali feminist utopian speculative fiction story, by musicologist and media scholar Nilanjana Bhattacharjya.

One of the most engrossing things about the small-screen adaptation of The Expanse is how viscerally it examines the human costs of life in space. After being exposed to a massive dose of radiation, starship captain James Holden gets a permanent anticancer implant, like a far-future successor of a Port-A-Cath. And from the first episode, we’re made to understand that the Belters—descendants of humans who have worked, lived, and started societies on asteroids or the moons of other planets in our solar system—have different physiologies than the humans who still call Earth home. Gravity weighs heavier on Belters: it constricts their blood vessels, strains their hearts, and cracks their bones….

(9) HENDRIX INTERVIEW. See Kevin Kennel’s video interview of author Grady Hendrix on Facebook.

Author Grady Hendrix (‘Horrorstör’, ‘We Sold Our Souls’ and more!) graciously took time out of his busy schedule for an interview with our very own library staff member Kevin Kennel, to discuss his new book, ‘The Final Girl Support Group’ and his experiences as a writer and author. …Please note: this video contains adult content and is an interview about an adult horror novel.

(10) VISITING UTOPIA. Kim Stanley Robinson explains the usefulness of “The Novel Solutions of Utopian Fiction” in The Nation.

… But in this world, we are never going to get the chance to start over. This was one of the reasons Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels objected to 19th-century utopias like that of Charles Fourier, the French designer of small communes living in perfect harmony: They were fantasy solutions that served only to distract people from the real work of politics and revolution. They were also in competition with Marx and Engels’s own ideas, so there was the usual left infighting. But it was a legitimate complaint: If utopia isn’t a political program, then what is it for?

The answer should be obvious. Utopias exist to remind us that there could be a better social order than the one we are in. Our present system is the result of a centuries-old power struggle, and it is devastating people and the biosphere. We must change it—and fast. But to what?

Utopias are thought experiments. Imagine if things ran like this: Wouldn’t that be good? Well, maybe…let’s live in it fictionally for a while. What problems crop up in this system? Can we solve them? What if we tweak things this way, or that? Let’s tell this story and then that story, and see how plausible they feel after we spend some imaginative time in them….

(11) STEPHEN HICKMAN (1949-2021). Famed sff artist Stephen Hickman died July 16 reported his friend and colleague Ron Miller on Facebook: “Lost one of my best friends, Steve Hickman, this morning and the world lost one of its best artists and finest human beings.” Hickman had over 350 book and magazine covers to his credit. He won the 1994 Best Original Artwork Hugo for his Space Fantasy Commemorative Stamp Booklet. He was a six-time Chesley Award winner.

(12) JUDI B CASTRO OBIT. Judi Beth Castro died July 15 of a sudden illness. She was 58. Her husband, author Adam-Troy Castro, announced her passing on Facebook.

The love of my life, Judi Beth Castro, lost her fight for life at 10:50 PM Thursday night. The illness was sudden, and she was always in critical danger, but between Tuesday night and Wednesday evening her numbers were improving at such a steady rate that we thought there was hope. Alas, the decline began on Thursday morning and by afternoon there was no doubt….

Her genre credits include Atlanta Nights (2005; a parody which she contributed to with many other co-authors), and the short fiction “Unfamiliar Gods” co-authored with Adam-Troy Castro.

(13) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1953 – Sixty-eight years ago, Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe premiered as a black-and-white movie serial from Republic Pictures. It was originally going to be a syndicated television series. It was directed by Harry Keller, Franklin Adreon and Fred C. Brannon as written by Ronald Davidson and Barry Shipman. Its cast was Judd Holdren, Aline Towne, Gregory Gaye and Craig Kelly.  It would last but one season of twelve twenty-five minute episodes. And yes, it was syndicated to television on NBC in 1955. Some sources say Dave Steven based his Rocketeer character off of Commando Cody. And there’s a clone trooper named Commander Cody who serves under Jedi general Obi-Wan Kenobi, an homage that Lucas has openly acknowledged as he watched the series as a child. 

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 16, 1928 Robert Sheckley. I knew that his  short story “Seventh Victim” was the basis of The 10th Victim film but I hadn’t known ‘til now that Freejack was sort of based of his Immortality, Inc. novel.  I’ve read a lot by him with Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming (written with Zelazny) being my favorite work by him. Sheckley is very well stocked on the usual suspects. (Died 2005.)
  • Born July 16, 1929 Sheri S. Tepper. Nominated for an Austounding Award way back when, she had a long career, so I’m going to single out BeautyThe Gate to Women’s CountrySix Moon Dance and The Companions as my favorites knowing very well that yours won’t be the same. (Died 2016.)
  • Born July 16, 1951 Esther Friesner, 70. She’s won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story twice with “Death and the Librarian” and “A Birthday”.  I’m particularly fond of The Sherwood Game and E.Godz which she did with Robert Asprin. She won the 1994 Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction, for lifetime contributions to science fiction, “both through work in the field and by exemplifying the personal qualities which made the late ‘Doc’ Smith well-loved by those who knew him,” presented by the New England Science Fiction Association. She’s well stocked at the usual suspects. 
  • Born July 16, 1956 Jerry Doyle. Now this one is depressing. Dead of acute alcoholism at sixty, his character Michael Garibaldi was portrayed as an alcoholic, sometimes recovering and sometimes not on Babylon 5. Damn. (Died 2016.)
  • Born July 16, 1963 Phoebe Cates, 58. Ok, so her entire genre appearance credit is as Kate Beringer in Gremlins and  Gremlins 2: The New Batch. Yes, I’ll admit that they’re two films that I have an inordinate fondness for that the Suck Fairy cannot have any effect upon them what-so-ever. Update: I’ve discovered since I last noted her Birthday that she was in Drop Dead Fred, a dark fantasy. She also stopped acting six years ago. 
  • Born July 16, 1965 Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, 56. Best remembered genre wise as Tommy Webber in the much beloved Galaxy Quest though his longest acting role was Patton Plame on the cancelled NCIS: New Orleans
  • Born July 16, 1966 Scott Derrickson, 55. Director and Writer of Doctor Strange who also had a hand in The Day the Earth Stood Still (as Director), The Exorcism of Emily Rose (Director and Writer), Urban Legends: Final Cut (Director and Producer) and the forthcoming Labyrinth sequel (Director and Writer). 
  • Born July 16, 1967 Will Ferrell, 54. His last genre film was Holmes & Watson in which he played Holmes. It won Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screen Combo and, my absolute favourite Award,  Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel. Wow. He was also in Land of the Lost which, errrr, also got negative reviews. Elf however got a great response from viewers and critics alike. He also was in two of the Austin Powers films as well. Oh, and he voices Ted / The Man with the Yellow Hat, a tour guide at the Bloomsberry Museum in Curious George.

(15) BANNED FROM ARGO. Larry Correia told Monster Hunter Nation readers that he’s gotten his “7th or 8th” 30-day ban from Facebook. He posted screenshots from his appeal to FB’s Oversight Board in “Fun With The Oversight Board -Or- Better Sign Up For The Newsletter Before I Get Perma-Banned” [Internet Archive link].

…Facebook is a time suck garbage site that exists as the propaganda arm of the DNC/Corpo-Uni-Party, to spy on you to sell to advertisers, and to steal everyone’s personal information. After bamboozling all the content creators to go over there to build “community” they now hold them hostage because the content creators are scared to leave because they’ll take a financial hit (The Oatmeal’s got a great cartoon about it)….

(16) WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM. FOREVER. Hackaday memorializes the “End Of An Era: NTSC Finally Goes Dark In America”.

A significant event in the history of technology happened yesterday, and it passed so quietly that we almost missed it. The last few remaining NTSC transmitters in the USA finally came off air, marking the end of over seven decades of continuous 525-line American analogue TV broadcasts. We’ve previously reported on the output of these channels, largely the so-called “FrankenFM” stations left over after the 2009 digital switchover whose sound carrier lay at the bottom of the FM dial as radio stations, and noted their impending demise. We’ve even reported on some of the intricacies of the NTSC system, but we’ve never taken a look at what will replace these last few FrankenFM stations….

(17) SUSTAINABLE USE OF SPACE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] In this week’s Science:

Last month, at the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Cornwall, United Kingdom, the leading industrial nations addressed the sustainable and safe use of space, making space debris a priority and calling on other nations to follow suit. This is good news because space is becoming increasingly congested, and strong political will is needed for the international space community to start using space sustainably and preserve the orbital environment for the space activities of future generations.

There are more than 28,000 routinely tracked objects orbiting Earth. The vast majority (85%) are space debris that no longer serve a purpose. These debris objects are dominated by fragments from the approximately 560 known breakups, explosions, and collisions of satellites or rocket bodies. These have left behind an estimated 900,000 objects larger than 1 cm and a staggering 130 million objects larger than 1 mm in commercially and scientifically valuable Earth orbits.

(18) SUPERPRANKSTERS? Isaac Arthur’s video “Annoying Aliens” contends, “Fictional portrayals of alien invasion or reports of alien sightings and abductions often imply motives which on inspection make little sense… unless perhaps the true purpose was mischief.”

(19) DISCWORLD COMMENTARY. YouTuber Dominic Noble says he has finally overcome his “sense of loss and deep sadness at the tragically too early passing of the author [Terry Pratchett] due to Alzheimer’s disease” and  is planning to do videos on the Discworld books. He begins with this overview of Discworld and his appreciation for it and for Pratchett.

(20) POTTER IN PERSPECTIVE. YouTuber Eyebrow Cinema considers“Harry Potter – 10 Years Later”.

It’s been a decade since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two arrived in theaters and brought an end to JK Rowling’s saga of witches and wizards. Like most 90s kids, I too read all the books and saw all the movies as a kid and teenager but have completely left the series behind since. Ten years later, how does Harry Potter hold up? In this video essay, I try to get to the heart of Harry Potter as while as examine my own relationship to the series.

No official works cited for this video, though I imagine my criticisms of Rowling’s transphobia will draw some ire. I have no intention of arguing the ethics or legitimacy of Rowling’s claims….

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Joey Eschrich, Chris M. Barkley, Jennifer Hawthorne, Steven H Silver, StephenfromOttawa, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, N., Daniel Dern, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

Pixel Scroll 2/20/21 (I’m Picking Up) Good Vibraniums

(1) A CELEBRATION. N. K. Jemisin and Walter Mosley will be among the participants in “A Celebration of Octavia E. Butler”, a live virtual event at Symphony Space on February 24 starting at 7 p.m. (Eastern). Tickets sold at the link.

Actors and authors come together for an evening of readings and conversation to celebrate the work of the visionary author whose Afrofuturistic feminist novels and short fiction have become even more poignant since her death. Her award-winning novels, including Parable of the SowerKindredDawn, and Wild Seed, have influenced a generation of writers. Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (An Octoroon) will lead a discussion with authors N. K. Jemisin (How Long ’til Black Future Month?), Walter Mosley (The Awkward Black Man), and Imani Perry (Breathe: A Letter to My Sons); and actors Yetide Badaki (American Gods) and Adepero Oduye (When They See Us) will read selections from Butler’s prolific body of work.

Audience members will be invited to join the conversation with questions for the panelists.

(2) RED PLANET CLOSEUP. EiderFox Documentaries takes the NASA footage and gives you “Mars In 4K”.

A world first. New footage from Mars rendered in stunning 4K resolution. We also talk about the cameras on board the Martian rovers and how we made the video. The cameras on board the rovers were the height of technology when the respective missions launched. A question often asked is: ‘Why don’t we actually have live video from Mars?’ Although the cameras are high quality, the rate at which the rovers can send data back to earth is the biggest challenge. Curiosity can only send data directly back to earth at 32 kilo-bits per second. Instead, when the rover can connect to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, we get more favourable speeds of 2 Megabytes per second. However, this link is only available for about 8 minutes each Sol, or Martian day. As you would expect, sending HD video at these speeds would take a long long time. As nothing really moves on Mars, it makes more sense to take and send back images.

(3) WORLDCON FOLKS. Ty Schalter says he doesn’t know anything about the Worldcon, but his questions are good: “Worldcon vs. The World”. (Just the same it brings to mind a line from Field of Dreams: “Oh! You’re from the Sixties! There’s no room for you here in the future!”)

…How many of the people reading, writing, editing and publishing the state of the art in genre fiction also fly out to Worldcon every year? How many of the people who go to Worldcon every year are reading, say, FIYAH Magazine— the kind of bold, original, cutting-edge fantastic literature that’s currently earning Hugo Award nominations and wins?

I’m genuinely asking, because remember: I don’t know what I’m talking about. But from the outside, it sure looks like The SFF Community and Worldcon Folks are two pretty disparate groups of people, who don’t necessarily care for or value each other a whole lot.

I see it when SFF Twitter explodes with shock and outrage every time Worldcon steps on another rake— how did it happen again?! I see it every time Worldcon Folks are mystified that doing things the way they’ve always done them is now not just insufficient but immoral— and who are these people yelling at us, anyway?!

I see it every time I go to church.

Wait, church? Yes, at church — and in family businesses, and on non-profit boards. In Chambers of Commerce and Kiwanis clubs. In all the gray-haired, tuxedoed, former cultural revolutionaries of the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame harrumphing about letting N.W.A. in their storied institution. In every walk of life, everywhere, there are cultural and social organizations caught in an existential battle of whether to preserve their traditions or their values.

As a white guy turning 40 this year, I have an appreciation for the SFF of the 20th century and its associated Baby Boomer fans, slans, SMOFs, etc. In many ways, they’re who I grew up aspiring to be. But now that I’m grown, I can see the cultural blind spots and moral holes in the kind of let’s-just-us-smart-people-get-on-a-rocket-and-let-all-the-dumb-people-die Visions of A Better Future that still entice prominent members of the middle-aged-and-up set….

(4) HUGO DYNAMICS. Eric Flint’s Facebook comments in a discussion about Baen’s Bar include his views about the Hugo Awards and the Sad Puppies slates.

(5) AURORA AWARDS ELIGIBILITY. The Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association is compiling its eligibility lists. Do you know of  work that belongs there? More information at their website.

Just a quick reminder that the Aurora Award Eligibility Lists for works done by Canadians in 2020 are open and awaiting your submissions. The Eligibility Lists will close on February 28th at 11:59 EST.  If you have created, published, read, or know of works or activities that should be on our lists please assist us and submit them. Help us find all the fantastic work done by Canadians in 2020! All works should be submitted to the eligibility lists on our website at www.prixaurorawards.ca 

(6) BE LARRY’S GOOGLE MONKEY. Larry Correia is crowdsourcing the next step in his retaliation against the Worldcon for DisCon III disinviting Toni Weisskopf as a guest of honor. Camestros Felapton has the screencap in his post “More Larry Nonsense”. Correia’s public call says in part —

… I need examples of writers/editors/fans who WorldCon is perfectly comfortable with, and their shitty posts, tweets, memes, of things that aren’t “inclusive”. (advocating violence, shooting cops, killing Trump, celebrating Rush’s death, putting us in reeducation camps, whatever. If it makes you feel not included, I’d like to know)
If you don’t have a screen cap but are going from memory, that’s fine…. 

(7) HORRIBLE FAN BEHAVIOR. Examples of bad behavior in the sff community aren’t hard to come by. Harlan Ellison’s recitation of fannish awfulness, “Xenogenesis,” was probably written off the top of his head. It originated as his 1984 Westercon GoH speech. The Internet Archive has a copy in the transcript of an Asimov’s issue — https://archive.org/stream/Asimovs_v14n08_1990-08/Asimovs_v14n08_1990-08_djvu.txt

Ellison precedes his dossier of criminal acts and psychopathic behavior with this introduction:

… In biology there is a phenomenon known as xenogenesis. It is a pathological state in which the child does not resemble the parent. You may remember a fairly grisly 1975 film by my pal Larry Cohen titled It’s Alive! in which a fanged and taloned baby gnaws its way out of its mother’s womb and slaughters the attending nurses and gynecologist in the delivery room and then leaps straight up through a skylight, smashes out, and for the duration of the film crawls in and out of the frame ripping people’s throats.

Its natural father is a CPA or something similar. Most CPA’s do not, other than symbolically, have fangs and talons. Xenogenesis.

In the subculture of science fiction literature and its umbilically attached aficionados, we have the manifestation of a symbiotic relationship in which the behavior of the children, that is, the fans, does not resemble the noble ideals set forth in the writings and pronouncements of the parents, the writers. For all its apocalyptic doomsaying, its frequent pointing with alarm, its gardyloos of caution, the literature of imagination has ever and always promoted an ethic of good manners and kindness via its viewpoint characters.

The ones we are asked to relate to, in sf and fantasy, the ones we are urged to see as the Good Folks, are usually the ones who say excuse me and thank you, ma’am.

The most efficient narrative shorthand to explain why a particular character is the one struck by cosmic lightning or masticated by some nameless Lovecraftian horror is to paint that character as rude, insensitive, paralogical or slovenly.

Through this free-floating auctorial trope, the canon has promulgated as salutary an image of mannerliness, rectitude and humanism. The smart alecks, slugs, slimeworts and snipers of the universe in these fables unfailingly reap a terrible comeuppance.

That is the attitude of the parents, for the most part.

Yet the children of this ongoing education, the fans who incorporate the canon as a significant part of their world-view, frequently demonstrate a cruelty that would, in the fiction, bring them a reward of Job-like awfulness….

(8) WHO KNEW? Science Sensei regales fans with “40 Times Science Fiction Was Wrong About Predicted Future Events”. Connie Willis’ emcee routines about sf predictions are much funnier, admittedly.

… No matter how accurate some writers are about the future, they are victims of the time they live in. It’s not Verne’s fault that he wrote his books in the 1800s and lacked the knowledge we have today. Yet this is what happens when you write about the future. Those future people can look back to see how accurate you were. Verne is one of many amazing writers who were both right and wrong about his future predictions. Yet some were completely wrong, and this involves far more than books. That is what our article is about, the science fiction out there that ended up getting the future very wrong. Enjoy!

25. Back to the Future Part II (Food Hydrators In 2015)

The original Back to the Future, starring Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox came out in 1985. The movies were all released within 5 years in real-time but they had to always return to the year of the original film, 1985. Instead of the past, the second film focused on the future

In this film, we see a Future 2015, where they have an entire world we almost wish was real. One of the impressive futuristic inventions in the film was a Food Hydrator by Black & Decker. Any food you wanted could be made with it, cooked quickly and ready to go in seconds. We never saw this in 2015, and we’re still upset about it!

(9) THAT JOB IS HELLA HARD. David Gerrold comments on “What Would It Take to Actually Settle an Alien World?” and his writing generally in a new installment of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast at WIRED.

David Gerrold is the author of dozens of science fiction books, including The Martian Child and The Man Who Folded Himself. His new novel Hella, about a low-gravity planet inhabited by dinosaur-like aliens, was inspired by the 2011 TV series Terra Nova.

“The worldbuilding that they did was very interesting, very exciting, but because I was frustrated that they didn’t go in the direction I wanted to go, I was thinking, ‘Let me do a story where I can actually tackle the worldbuilding problems,’” Gerrold says in Episode 454 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.

Hella goes into enormous detail about the logistics of settling an alien world, and grapples with questions like: Would it be safe for us to eat alien proteins? Would it be safe for us to breathe alien germs? What effect would plants and animals from Earth have on an alien ecology? It’s a far cry from many science fiction stories which assume that alien planets would be pretty much like Earth. “My theory is that there are no Earthlike planets, there’s just lazy writers,” Gerrold says….

(10) THE WORLD SF MAKES. Sherryl Vint’s Science Fiction is being released by MIT Press this month.

Summary

How science fiction has been a tool for understanding and living through rapid technological change.

…After a brief overview of the genre’s origins, science fiction authority Sherryl Vint considers how and why contemporary science fiction is changing. She explores anxieties in current science fiction over such key sites of technological innovation as artificial intelligence, genomic research and commodified biomedicine, and climate change. Connecting science fiction with speculative design and futurology in the corporate world, she argues that science fiction does not merely reflect these trends, but has a role in directing them.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • February 20, 1955  — On this day in 1955, Tarantula premiered. It was produced by William Alland, directed by Jack Arnold. It stars John Agar, Mara Corday, and Leo G. Carroll. The screenplay by Robert M. Fresco and Martin Berkeley was based on a story by Arnold, which was in turn was based on by Fresco’s script for the Science Fiction Theatre “No Food for Thought” episode  which was also directed by Arnold.  It was a box office success earning more than a million dollars in its first month of release. Critics at the time liked it and even current audiences at Rotten Tomatoes gives at a sterling 92% rating. You can watch it here. (CE)

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born February 20, 1925 Robert Altman. I’m going to argue that his very first film in 1947, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, based off the James Thurber short story of the same name, is genre given its premise. Some twenty five years later Images was a full-blown horror film. And of course Popeye is pure comic literature at its very best. (Died 2006.) (CE)
  • Born February 20, 1926 Richard  Matheson. Best known for I Am Legend which has been adapted for the screen four times, as well as the film Somewhere In Time for which he wrote the screenplay based on his novel Bid Time Return. Seven of his novels have been adapted into films. In addition, he  wrote sixteen episodes of The Twilight Zone including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “Steel”. The former episode of course has William Shatner in it. (Died 2013.)  (CE) 
  • Born February 20, 1926 – Pierre Boulle.  For us, Planet of the Apes and eight more novels, thirty shorter stories; famous for The Bridge on the River Kwai; a dozen other novels.  Knight of the Legion of Honor, Croix de GuerreMédaille de la Resistance, earned during World War II.   (Died 1994) [JH]
  • Born February 20, 1926 – Ed Clinton.  A score of short stories (some as Anthony More).  “Idea Man” essay in the Jan 44 Diablerie.  Review & Comments Editor for Rhodomagnetic Digest.  (Died 2006) [JH]
  • Born February 20, 1943 – Dan Goodman.  Active fan in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Minneapolis.  Literate, articulate, wry.  Edited and I believe named the Minn-StF clubzine Einblatt.  For a while in The Cult, to which the Fancyclopedia III article hardly does justice, but see Hamlet Act II scene 2 (Folger Shakespeare line 555).  In Lofgeornost at least as recently as 2014.  A story in Tales of the Unanticipated.  A note by me here.  (Died 2020) [JH]
  • Born February 20, 1943 – Suford Lewis, F.N., age 78.  Active in the LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.); then NESFA (New England SF Ass’n): a Founding Fellow (service; first year’s Fellow of NESFA awards, 1976), President, chaired Boskone 10, co-chaired B44, edited six Bujold books for NESFA Press, also the excellent Noreascon Two Memory Book (post-con; 38th Worldcon).  Ran the Retrospective-Hugo ceremony for L.A.con III (42nd), the Masquerade (our on-stage costume competition) for Noreascon Three (47th).  Co-ordinated and actually brought into being Bruce Pelz’ Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck, herself drawing Strength (! – Major Arcana VIII; a dozen-year project; see all the images and BP’s introduction here, PDF), and exhibiting all the original artwork at N2.  Fan Guest of Honor at Windycon VI (with husband Tony Lewis).  That ain’t the half of it.  Big Heart (our highest service award).  [JH]
  • Born February 20, 1943 Diana Paxson, 78. Did you know she’s a founder of the Society for Creative Anachronism? Well she is. Genre wise, she’s best known for her Westria novels, and the later books in the Avalon series, which she first co-wrote with Marion Zimmer Bradley, then – after Bradley’s death, took over sole authorship of. All of her novels are heavily colored with paganism — sometimes it works for me, sometimes it doesn’t. I like her Wodan’s Children series more than the Avalon material. (CE)
  • Born February 20, 1954 Anthony Head, 67. Perhaps best known as as Librarian and Watcher Rupert Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, he also made an impressive Uther Pendragon in Merlin. He also shows up in Repo! The Genetic Operaas Nathan Wallace aka the Repo Man, in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance as Benedict, and in the awesomely great Batman: Gotham by Gaslight voicing Alfred Pennyworth. (CE)
  • Born February 20, 1964 – Tracey Rolfe, age 57.  Half a dozen novels, as many shorter stories.  Clarion South 2004 (see her among other graduates in Andromeda Spaceways 10).  “How do you deal with writer’s block?” ‘I usually take my dog out for a walk.’ [JH]
  • Born February 20, 1979 Brian James Freeman, 42. Horror author. Novels to date are Blue November StormsThis Painted Darkness and Black Fire (as James Kidman). He’s also done The Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book (superbly done) which he co-authored with Bev Vincent and which is illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne. He publishes limited edition books here. (CE) 
  • Born February 20, 1989 – Nathália Suellen, age 32.  Digital artist and commercial illustrator.  A score of covers for us, but certainty is elusive at borders.  Here is Above.  Here is Unhinged.  Here is The Gathering Dark (U.K. title).  Here is Henry, the Gaoler.  Here is a self-portrait.  [JH]

(13) EMOTIONAL ROBOTS. On March 10, Writers Bloc presents “Nobel Laureate Kazuo Ishiguro with Westworld’s Lisa Joy”. Book purchase required for access to the livestream.

Kazuo Ishiguro, winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature, seduces us with his storytelling. His novels (The Remains of the DayNever Let Me Go; and others) draw us in and we are powerless to leave the page. His novels are deceptive–while he lulls us into his gorgeous and straightforward prose, he presents us with profound observations of human behavior, and explorations of love, duty, and identity. In his new novel, Klara and the Sun, Ishiguro introduces us to Klara, an artificial object who watches the world from her perch in a shop. She watches the comings and goings of those who enter the shop, and those who merely pass by. She hopes that someone will choose her. and that she can be loved. Magnificent.

In conversation with Lisa Joy. Lisa Joy is one of the creators and writers of the acclaimed HBO series, Westworld. A dystopic genre-bending series, Westworld explores the fraught relationship between humans and human-looking robots at an amusement park. What happens when artificial intelligence interferes with the people who employ them? What happens when artificial intelligence breaks its own boundaries and those robots start to feel, to love, to cause harm? Westworld has won countless prestigious awards.

(14) ELUSIVE APPOINTMENTS. “How some frustrated COVID-19 vaccine hunters are trying to fix a broken system”The Seattle Times has the story.

That pretty much said it all, the other day, when a 90-year-old remarked in a Seattle Times story that the easy part of navigating our COVID-19 vaccine system was when she had to walk 6 miles through the snow to get the shot.

George Hu is only 52, but he can sympathize. When the former Microsoft developer tried to find appointments online for his 80-year-old in-laws, he was dumbfounded how primitive it all was.

“All tech people who see this setup are horrified,” Hu says.

That was my experience trying to nab a slot for my 91-year-old father. As everyone discovers, there isn’t one or a couple of places to hunt vaccine, but rather … hundreds, many with their own interfaces. I ran into one vaccine provider that was using Doodle for its vaccine appointment scheduling, another using Sign-Up Genius, another with a “don’t call us, we’ll text you back sometime” online form.

Rather than a global health emergency, it felt more like when the PTA is signing parents up for a bake sale.

“It’s whack-a-mole, except there are 300 holes,” Hu says. “And also you have no clue if the mole is ever going to pop up in any of them.”

(15) WHAT A BUNCH OF SCHIST. The headline made me click – “The missing continent it took 375 years to find” at BBC Future. Maybe your power to resist will be greater!

It took scientists 375 years to discover the eighth continent of the world, which has been hiding in plain sight all along. But mysteries still remain….

Zealandia was originally part of the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana, which was formed about 550 million years ago and essentially lumped together all the land in the southern hemisphere. It occupied a corner on the eastern side, where it bordered several others, including half of West Antarctica and all of eastern Australia.

Then around 105 million years ago, “due to a process which we don’t completely understand yet, Zealandia started to be pulled away”, says Tulloch.

Continental crust is usually around 40km deep – significantly thicker than oceanic crust, which tends to be around 10km. As it was strained, Zealandia ended up being stretched so much that its crust now only extends 20km (12.4 miles) down. Eventually, the wafter-thin continent sank – though not quite to the level of normal oceanic crust – and disappeared under the sea.

Despite being thin and submerged, geologists know that Zealandia is a continent because of the kinds of rocks found there. Continental crust tends to be made up of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks – like granite, schist and limestone, while the ocean floor is usually just made of igneous ones such as basalt.

But there are still many unknowns. The unusual origins of the eighth continent make it particularly intriguing to geologists, and more than a little baffling. For example, it’s still not clear how Zealandia managed to stay together when it’s so thin and not disintegrate into tiny micro-continents.

Another mystery is exactly when Zealandia ended up underwater – and whether it has ever, in fact, consisted of dry land. The parts that are currently above sea level are ridges that formed as the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates crumpled together. Tulloch says opinion is split as to whether it was always submerged apart from a few small islands, or once entirely dry land….

(16) THE BUZZ. Mental Floss assures us that Wasps Are Ridding Anne Boleyn’s Birthplace of Moth Infestation”.

…Now, however, it’s home to common clothes moths that could wreak havoc on rugs, clothing, and other vulnerable artifacts—including a rare 18th-century canopy bed and a tapestry that Catherine the Great bestowed upon the household in the 1760s. The moths have had much freer rein throughout Blickling Hall in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and periodic pest counts have proved that the population has grown considerably over the past year.

“There’s no doubt lockdown suited our resident bugs,” assistant national conservator Hilary Jarvis said in a press release. “The relative quiet, darkness, and absence of disruption from visitors and staff provided perfect conditions for larvae and adults alike from March onwards.”

To curb further spawning, the National Trust has enlisted the help of an unlikely ally: microscopic parasitoid wasps (Trichogramma evanescens). In 11 especially moth-ridden locations within the hall, staff members will plant dispensers that hold around 2400 wasps each, which will destroy moth eggs by laying their own eggs inside them. Though it seems like Blickling Hall will have simply swapped out one infestation for another, the wasps pose no threat to the upholstery or anything else—they’ll eventually die and “disappear inconspicuously into house dust,” if all goes according to plan….

(17) TENET COMMENTARY. CinemaWins tells you “Everything GREAT About Tenet!” There must have been more good stuff in there than I suspected.

  • Everything GREAT About Tenet! PART 0 (Plot Breakdown):
  • Everything GREAT About Tenet! PART 1: 
  • Everything GREAT About Tenet! PART 2: 

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Jim Henson Introduces Kermit The Frog to Dick” on YouTube is a November 1971 clip from The Dick Cavett Show with both Jim Henson and Kermit as guests where you can clearly see how Henson changed his voice to be Kermit.

[Thanks to Michael Toman, rcde, John Hertz, N., Andrew Porter, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 2/19/21 Why, I Sweep My Scroll With A Geiger Counter Every Day, And Nary A Pixel!

(1) DISCON III REACTIONS. Today’s decision by the 2021 Worldcon committee to remove Toni Weisskopf as a GoH (“DisCon III Removes Weisskopf as a Guest of Honor”) is being widely discussed.

Toni Weisskopf posted a concise response on Facebook.

The committee of Discon III approached me this week to discuss the allegations about Baen’s Bar that were posted at Patreon. Baen is conducting a thorough investigation, which we feel we cannot rush, and has taken down the Bar while we conduct the investigation.

I do understand the immediate appeal of Discon III wishing to act quickly to respond to their community. Today they informed me of their official decision to remove me as their Editor Guest of Honor.

While I strongly disagree with the committee’s decision, I will regretfully accede to their wishes.

These excerpts for the Scroll are primarily by authors who condemned the decision (except for the final one).

David Weber responded on Facebook.

So Toni Weisskopf has been formally disinvited by WorldCon and DisCon. Can’t say it was a surprise. I will however remind people of the personal policy I adopted years ago and reiterated in the case of ConCarolina and John Ringo. I will not attend a con which has disinvited a guest. You are always free to invite —or not—anyone you like. Any con which disinvites someone after the invitation has been issued and accepted, especially when they do so under pressure, however, does not deserve to be trusted by future guests.

He said more in the comments on his post, including —

Bob Eggleton made this comment —

Chuck Gannon also made a comment on Weber’s post, repeating one of his quotes linked here yesterday and extending it as follows:

…So Toni Weisskopf activated the most proactive, realistic option available to her: she closed the Bar, thereby ending any possibility that it might do further ostensible injury.

36 hours later, however, she was disinvited without any additional cause.

You will note, however, that no one asserted that she did not respond quickly enough. In fact, in disinviting her, there were no further/new discoveries added to those put forth in Mr. Sanford’s essay.

So what had changed? If the concom believes that 36 hours is enough time for her to resolve the matter completely, I once again point out that

a) any business person operating in the real world would *know* that is not enough time to conduct anything like a thorough review

b) in order to ensure that what Mr. Sanford reported could not expand or remain as a potential threat, SHE CLOSED THE WHOLE BAR DOWN.

If she had meant to stonewall, or not actually investigate the matter, she would not have taken the step of closing the Bar.

Do I repeat myself in this post? Assuredly so . . . because these are salient points which are being repeatedly, perhaps purposively, overlooked.

For anyone familiar with the musical Hamilton, cue “The Room Where It Happened” as we ponder “so what changed in 36 hours?”

Larry Correia shames the SMoFs in “An Open Letter To The Old Time Fans at WorldCon” [Internet Archive link].

…Then several years later, after the old controversy I caused had died off and most of us barbaric outsiders had said screw cheesy WorldCon and moved on with our lives, some of you still felt guilty for how you’d treated Toni, so you extended an olive branch. You offered her the Guest of Honor spot at your little convention. How nice. How fucking magnanimous.

Toni, being a far better human being than any of you could ever aspire to be, thought the offer over. She knew there was risks. She knew that she’d take heat from people on the right (and she has). Morons on my side of the political would call her a sell-out, quisling, traitor, boot licker, so on and so forth, and they did. She got attacked by the useless grifters on both sides, looking for hate clicks. But unlike you, Toni ignores the baying mob and always does what she thinks is the right thing to do.  She looked at your peace offering, and said fine, If you want to try and mend fences, okay, I’ll take the heat, I’ll be your guest of honor. She was the bigger person.

She talked to me about her decision. I told her I understood, I wouldn’t do it, but I respected her call, but that she’d surely get yelled at by the idiots on both sides. She already knew, but she thought it was the right thing to do anyway. Because unlike you, Toni actually has a moral compass. Your moral compass is a windsock. Her one mistake in all this was assuming that any of you old time Smofs would have a spine….

A very large number of people today are reaching for rhetorical flourishes to complain about what happened. RS Benedict made this connection. (If you don’t recognize Isabel Fall’s name, run a search here. Also let it be noted that Weisskopf has been removed as GoH, not banned from attending.)

Mike VanHelder, an experienced conrunner, tried to understand the decision from a convention running perspective. As part of that he wrote this How It Should Have Ended scenario, in addition to other insights. Thread starts here.

(2) NO ONE TO FOLLOW. While we’re at it, let WIRED’s Angela Wattercutter tell you about “The Crushing Disappointment of Fandom”.

…When we really, truly admire someone, whether they’re an Avenger or Anthony Fauci, there’s a tendency to mimic their personality, even their morality. Media theorists call these bonds “parasocial relationships”; parents of kids with one too many Star Wars posters (probably) call it “over the top.” But the people in it, the ones who write fic and spend days making cosplay before the next convention, call it part of their identity, the fabric of who they are.

Until it’s not. Earlier this week, actress Gina Carano lost her job playing Cara Dune on The Mandalorian. The former MMA fighter had been facing criticism for months for her anti-science views on mask-wearing, mocking transgender-sensitive pronouns, and tweets about voter fraud. Then, on Wednesday, after she shared an Instagram story that suggested having differing political views was akin to being Jewish during the Holocaust, the hashtag #FireGinaCarano began to trend on Twitter. That night, Lucasfilm issued the following statement: “Gina Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future. Nevertheless, her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”

Carano’s comments are harmful for a lot of reasons, but they seem to carry an additional weight for fans. Cara Dune was a hero, someone who fought for people, a tough, competent female warrior in a genre often dominated by men. Fans looked up to Cara, and by extension Carano, but the actor’s comments on social media left one of those things harder to do….

(3) BY POPULAR DEMAND. The UK’s Daily Mail proclaims: “WandaVision: Fans CRASH Disney+ to stream latest episode”.

Viewers of WandaVision crashed Disney+ on Friday morning as the latest installment dropped on the streaming service.

There was a brief 10-minute outage in the early hours of Friday as episode seven of the Marvel Cinematic Universe-based series was made available, PEOPLE reports.

Fans expressed their frustration on social media after experiencing issues as they signed on in droves to catch the latest installment of Wanda and Vision’s Westview adventures.

(4) RECOVERED. Claire O’Dell has released a second edition of her award-winning River of Souls trilogy with new covers and updated text: River of Souls Series. The author blogged about the books here.

…Once Tor returned the rights to me, I decided to release a second edition, with new covers and updated text. I commissioned new artwork from the amazing Jessica Shirley. I badgered my long-suffering spouse into designing new covers. And I spent several months editing and proofreading the manuscripts. The e-books are now available at my on-line bookstore (here), individually or as a bundle, and will appear at all the usual vendor sites later this week….

(5) PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT. James Davis Nicoll helps us keep these two things straight: “Five SF Works Featuring Dyson Shells (and Not Dyson Swarms)” at Tor.com.

…There are at least two kinds of Dyson Sphere. The first—the one Dyson intended—is made up of a myriad of independently orbiting objects. While this presents an interesting traffic control challenge, the Dyson Swarm has the advantage that not only can it be built incrementally over a very long period, but the components are gravitationally coupled to the star in question.

The second option is a solid shell with the star in the middle….

Here’s one of James’ picks:

“Back to Myan” by Regina Kanyu Wang (2017)

Retrieved by the Union from certain extinction on the ice-encrusted world Myan, Kaya is somewhat less than entirely grateful. After all, the reason Myan was freezing in the first place was Project Saion, the Union’s vast energy-gathering structure blocking Myan from its star, Saion. While the Union did belatedly notice the Myan natives and rescue them, this didn’t come to pass until 997 out of every 1000 of Kaya’s species had perished in the cold. Still, the Union is very, very powerful, while the handful of Myans are not. There is nothing Kaya can do to save her home world. At least, that’s what the Union believes…

(6) GREG BEAR INTERVIEWED. Frank Catalano, who was SFWA Secretary back when Greg Bear was SFWA President, pointed out a good profile of Greg Bear in the Seattle Times today, including his thinking that his newest novel may be his last one, and the trouble he had in finding a publisher for it: “Lynnwood’s Greg Bear, stalwart of modern science fiction, starts writing his life story”.

The 69-year-old Lynnwood-based author and first-class raconteur still has a lot to say. He’s published four novels since aortic dissection surgery left him with a titanium heart valve six years ago and has plans for more. But he’s just not sure he wants to deal with the business of fiction publishing anymore after having a hard time finding a buyer for “The Unfinished Land,” eventually published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt imprint John Joseph Adams Books.

“If I had written it and no one wanted to publish it, what would I do right at that point?” Bear said. “I considered just retiring. And I think I’m still making that decision at this point.”

Catalano reacts: “It’s end-of-days when Greg Bear can’t find a publisher. Ack.”

(7) ENDLESS RIVER. “Doctor Who’s River Song Alex Kingston writes new novel”Radio Times has the story.

… Alex Kingston is releasing a brand new River Song novel, taking the popular companion on a brand new adventure.

The book, entitled The Ruby’s Curse, promises to tell a thrilling story set in New York in 1939, featuring both River Song and her alter-ego Melody Malone. It is Alex Kingston’s first foray into writing Doctor Who fiction, following in the footsteps of Tom Baker, whose story Scratchman follows the escapades of the Fourth Doctor….

“Having absolutely no idea of the journey I would be taking with River Song when I first uttered those words, “Hello Sweetie,” I cannot begin to express how excited I am to be able to continue not only River, but Melody’s adventures on the written page,” she says.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1961 — Sixty years ago at Seacon in Seattle, A Canticle for Leibowitz, a fix-up of three short stories published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, written by Walter M. Miller, Jr. wins the Hugo for Best Novel. It was published by J. B. Lippincott. Other nominees that year were The High Crusade by Poul Anderson, Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys, Deathworld by Harry Harrison and Venus Plus X by Theodore Sturgeon. Surprisingly this is the only award this novel won.  

(9) BLACKBURN OBIT. Graphic designer “Bruce Blackburn, Designer of Ubiquitous NASA Logo, Dies at 82” reports the New York Times. He died February 1 at the age of 82,

…In 1975, NASA introduced the worm, a sleek sequence of winding red letters, and the logo quickly became a tangible symbol of a boundless space age that lay ahead.

“We did get what we set out to accomplish,” Mr. Blackburn said. “Anybody we showed it to immediately said, ‘Oh I know what that is. I know them. They’re really great. They’re right on the leading edge of everything.’”

But in 1992, a few years after the Challenger explosion, NASA dropped the worm and revived the meatball in a decision that was said to be intended to improve company morale.

Mr. Blackburn and other designers lamented the choice. “They said, ‘This is a crime. You cannot do this,’” he said. “‘This is a national treasure and you’re throwing it in the trash bin.”

“His design sensibility was offended by what happened,” his daughter said. “He thought the meatball was clumsy and sloppy and not representative of the future.”…

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born February 19, 1923 – Alan Hunter.  Fan and pro artist; founded the Fantasy Art Society (U.K.); fifty covers, three hundred fifty interiors, for Banana Wings, DreamFantasy TalesMatrixNebulaNew Worlds, SF ChronicleVector, the Millennium Philcon Program Book (59th Worldcon), the LoneStarCon 3 Program Book (71st Worldcon).  Artist Guest at Fantasycon 1981.  Here is the Spring 53 Nebula.  Here is an interior from the Mar 53 New Worlds.  Here is an interior from Dream.  Here is the Oct 86 SF Chronicle.  Here is Vector 112.  Here is Banana Wings 38.  Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here.  (Died 2012) [JH]
  • Born February 19, 1937  Terry Carr. Well-known and loved fan, author, editor, and writing instructor. I usually don’t list awards both won and nominated for but his are damned impressed so I will. He was nominated five times for Hugos for Best Fanzine (1959–1961, 1967–1968), winning in 1959, was nominated three times for Best Fan Writer (1971–1973), winning in 1973, and he was Fan Guest of Honor at ConFederation in 1986. Wow. He worked at Ace Books before going freelance where he edited an original story anthology series called Universe, and The Best Science Fiction of the Year anthologies that ran from 1972 until his early death in 1987. Back to Awards again. He was nominated for the Hugo for Best Editor thirteen times (1973–1975, 1977–1979, 1981–1987), winning twice (1985 and 1987). His win in 1985 was the first time a freelance editor had won. Wow indeed. Novelist as well. Just three novels but all are still in print today though I don’t think his collections are and none of his anthologies seem to be currently either. A final note. An original anthology of science fiction, Terry’s Universe, was published the year after his death with all proceeds went to his widow. (Died 1987.) (CE) 
  • Born February 19, 1963 Laurell K. Hamilton, 58. She is best known as the author of two series of stories. One is the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter of which I’ll confess I’ve read but several novels, the other is the Merry Gentry series which held my interest rather longer but which I lost in somewhere around the sixth or seventh novel when the sex became really repetitive. (CE) 
  • Born February 19, 1946 – Rosemary Ullyot, age 75.  Early member of the Ontario SF Club.  Fanzine Kevas & Trillium with Alicia Austin and Maureen Bournes.  “Kumquat May” column in Energumen.  Twice finalist for Best Fanwriter.  [JH]
  • Born February 19, 1957 – Jim Rittenhouse, age 64.  Founded Point of Divergence, alternative-history apa.  Guest of Honor at DucKon 12, Windycon 32.  Judge of the Sidewise Award.  Has read As I Lay DyingUncle Tom’s Cabin, Suetonius’ Twelve Caesars, Adam BedeLolitaOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  “Why do I like fountain pens?  The smoothness and ease of writing, the clarity and solidity of the line, the profound coloring and the strong saturation of the ink.”  [JH]
  • Born February 19, 1964 Jonathan Lethem, 57. His first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music, a weird mix of SF and detective fiction, is fantastic in more ways that I can detail briefly here. I confess that I lost track of him after that novel so I’d be interested in hearing what y’all think of his later genre work particularly his latest, The Arrest. (CE)
  • Born February 19, 1966 Claude Lalumière, 55. I met him once here in Portland at a used book store in the the SFF section, and his wife wrote reviews for Green Man once upon a year. Author, book reviewer and editor who has edited numerous anthologies including two volumes of the excellent Tesseracts series.  Amazing writer of short dark fantasy stories collected in three volumes so far, Objects of WorshipThe Door to Lost Pages and Nocturnes and Other Nocturnes. Tachyon published his latest anthology, Super Stories of Heroes & Villains. (CE) 
  • Born February 19, 1968 Benicio del Toro, 53. Originally cast as Khan in that Trek film but unable to perform the role as he was committed to another film. He’s been The Collector in the Marvel film franchise, Lawrence Talbot in the 2010 remake of The Wolfman, and codebreaker DJ in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  Let’s not forget that he was in Big Top Pee-wee as Duke, the Dog-Faced Boy followed by being in Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as Dr. Gonzo which damn well should count as genre even if it isn’t. (CE) 
  • Born February 19, 1970 – Victor Ehikhamenor, age 51.  Writer, visual artist including photography and sculpture.  Exhibited in the first Nigerian pavilion at the Venice Biennale (57th Biennale, 2017).  Here is I Am Ogiso, the King of Heaven.  Here is The Unknowable (enamel & steel), Norval Foundation, Cape Town.  Here is Hypnotic Lover.  Here is Wealth of Nations, Nat’l Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution.  Website.  [JH]
  • Born February 19, 1973 – Nikki Alfar, age 49.  A score of short stories.  Three Palanca Awards.  Manila Critics’ Circle Nat’l Book Award.  Co-editor, Philippine Speculative Fiction.  Interviewed in Fantasy.  [JH]
  • Born February 19, 1984 – Marissa Meyer, age 37.  Re-told CinderellaLittle Red Riding HoodRapunzel, and Snow White in the Lunar Chronicles; the first, Cinder, MM’s début, was a NY Times Best-Seller; later Fairest, a prequel.  Heartless has the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland.  Half a dozen more novels, a dozen shorter stories.  Introduction to Yolen’s How to Fracture a Fairy Tale.  Has confessed to writing (under another name) twoscore pieces of Sailor Moon fanfiction.  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lio is always bizarre – this time it’s even funny.
  • Non Sequitur chronicles the Alexa / Siri conspiracy.
  • The Flying McCoys reveals that Superman buys outfits off the rack! (When they’re in stock.)

(12) HE’LL BE REMEMBERED. Milton Davis reports the GoFundMe was successful and that the headstone and monument for Charles R. Saunders’ grave have arrived.  The grave of famous fantasy writer Charles R. Saunders was without a headstone until friends raised money for it.

(13) REPURPOSED AND FUNNY. [Item by rcade.] The paranormal fantasy novelist Richard Kadrey has been reading some obscure science fiction paperbacks from the golden age of the lurid cover. Authors include Supernova Jackson, Cliff Zoom and Brawny Magnum.

The titles of Kadrey’s novels in his Sandman Slim series would be right at home on a shelf with these classics. They include Kill The Dead, Aloha from Hell, Ballistic Kiss and King Bullet, which comes out in August.

He’s also the founder with cyberpunk author Bruce Sterling of the Dead Media Project, which sought to save obsolete and forgotten forms of media. But it died.

(14) NOT A FAN. Variety’s Caroline Framke is not amused: “’Superman and Lois’ Brings The CW Superhero Brand Back Down to Boring Earth: TV Review”.

…It makes sense on paper for a new show about Superman to fast forward through the stuff that’s been done to death in order to find some new way into the man, the myth, the legend. Why not make him a harried dad juggling apocalyptic threats with teenage boys, one of whom might have the same kind of powers as he does? The CW’s dads are already supernaturally hot, so hey, might as well lean into the brand. (Hoechlin, like Tom Welling before him, does not at all have a Christopher Reeve level of charisma to bring to the role — but to be fair, who does?)

But for all the logical storylines and character journeys that “Superman and Lois” includes, it nonetheless lacks the spark to make any of it very interesting. Despite solid efforts from Tulloch, Garfin, and especially Elsass to bring life to their stiff scenes, these Kents feel more stuck than striking

(15) DO YOU REMEMBER. [Item by Mike Kennedy.[ Hugh freakin’ Jackman does the “announcer guy“ voiceover for a movie teaser… Io9 points to “Reminiscence First Look: The Sci-Fi Mystery Romance Is Out 9/3”. The clip is in Hugh Jackman’s tweet:

[Thanks to Michael Toman, rcade, James Davis Nicoll, John Hertz, Danny Sichel, Jeffrey Jones, Andrew Porter, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Steven H Silver, Frank Catalano, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Chris R.]

Baen Strikes Back; Sanford Under Growing Storm of Harassment

A series of Baen authors and editors have mounted a coordinated response to Jason Sanford’s February 15 article “Baen Books Forum Being Used to Advocate for Political Violence”, a public post on Patreon.

Eric Flint’s 4,800-word “The Controversy About Baen’s Bar” recites a great deal of his personal history as a socialist political activist in the service of deflecting criticism from Baen’s Bar. He even confidently gives assurances about activity in one of its conferences that he says he hasn’t read in two decades. Nothing to see here.

…It is in the nature of jackasses to be jackasses. This is supposed to be shocking news because it’s posted on a virtual bulletin board?

Perhaps my favorite of Sanford’s Oh, my God! moments is this one by a never-heard-of-him who uses the monicker of Theoryman: “As I’ve already pointed out, rendering ANY large city is uninhabitable is quite easy… And the Left lives in cities.”

I have to make a confession here. Although he doesn’t specify in most cases where he found these comments, I’m pretty sure that Sanford found them in one of the many conferences in Baen’s Bar—the one that goes by the title “Politics.” 

I stopped visiting “Politics” about… oh, I dunno. Twenty-three ago? The reason I did is because, as Darth Vader would say, “The stupid is strong with these ones.” I don’t mind arguing with people who disagree with me. But I refuse to waste my time getting into debates with people so dumb I don’t know how they tie their own shoes in the morning. And that’s pretty much the nature of the wrangles in “Politics.” As far as I’m concerned, the conference might as well have a sign over the entrance reading Here Be Dimwits and People Who Imagine Themselves to be Dragons. 

Take a look at what Sanford considers an “incitement to violence.” Can it be called that? Well… I suppose—if you’re willing to grant that Theoryman is such an imbecile that he actually believes that “rendering ANY large city is uninhabitable is quite easy.” [sic]

Well, not much to see here –

…This is the “great menace of Baen’s Bar” that Sanford yaps about. A handful of people—okay, two handfuls, tops—most of whom you have never heard of, who spout absolute twaddle. Yes, a fair amount of it is violent-sounding twaddle, but the violence is of a masturbatory nature. 

If only there was a way to tell the spouters who don’t mean it from the ones who show up on January 6 to riot at the Capitol, assault cops, take selfies while they vandalize the building, and try to stop Constitutional duties from being carried out.

Flint contends that even the ones caught doing explicit advocacy, like Tom Kratman, somehow don’t count either:

…If Sanford thinks that a few authors like Kratman are the ones who define Baen as a publishing house, he has the obligation to make a case for it. But he makes no effort to do so. Instead, he ignores most of Baen’s authors altogether and simply asserts that what he says is true because he says it’s true….

Jason Córdova also takes cover behind Eric Flint in “Don’t Mess With An Author’s Source of Income”.

…Point 3 — It’s “popular” for people to attack others without fear of recourse or repercussions. Now, for those of us not with our heads firmly up our backsides, we know Baen Books is a publisher with a lot of resources who publishes a lot of varied individuals, from die-hard communists like Eric Flint to Tom Kratman, who might be described as being right of Atilla the Hun on the political spectrum. Jim Baen never cared what your politics were, as long as you could tell a good story. The writer of said article (“investigative journalism” my left buttock) created an account, went onto the Bar, and decided to find the best statements he could in order to use it to bolster his claim that the Bar is a hotbed for far-right extremism. Never mind the fact that the Bar hosts like five groups dedicated to Eric Flint or his collected universes (it might be six now, I don’t know). Our intrepid (so brave, much brave) journalist needed meat for his article (he probably went into Kratman’s forum… even I think those guys are nuts).

Eric Flint’s socialism doesn’t preclude there being Baen’s Bar participants approving violence and coaching insurrection in Baen’s Bar. Or even have anything to do with it. Again, it’s presented here as an attempt to deflect attention.   

Sarah A. Hoyt calls Sanford’s post an attempt at “canceling baen books” in her Mad Genius Club column.

…If it were just the puppy kickers fighting for relevance, it would be one thing. But it’s not. This is a coordinated attack.

Which, btw, makes it mathematically inevitable that yes, they’ll come for me and you too. Because the left — idiot children that they are — think that cutting off a man’s tongue shows his opinions to be invalid.

So, as irritated as I am and have been at Baen for four years, I’m turning that irritation on the left for making me defend them.

Because cancelling is not only wrong. It’s unmaking civilization. And only the idiot sheep of the left wouldn’t see that….

Cedar Sandersons’s defense, “Baen Books” begins with extensive quotes from Hoyt, followed by her own nostalgic reminiscences about Baen’s Bar.

Anyone who has read my blog or who knows me, knows of my deep and abiding affection for Baen’s Bar, which led me to Baen Books. This week, a ham-handed and libelous attack was made on the forum….

Two other responses were reported by File 770 yesterday —

But a comment was added to Correia’s post today by someone who says he is harassing Sanford by calling Sanford’s boss at his workplace.

Larry Correia also tweeted that he spoke to Vox Day today.

OTHER RESPONSES.

For public consumption, Vox Day’s reaction is largely schadenfreude: “Baen under SJW assault” [Internet Archive link].

…It is mildly amusing to see the moderates, a few of whom didn’t hesitate to join the SJWs in pointing-and-shrieking at us, now coming under the same sort of attacks that we’ve been weathering for years. I hasten to point out that Larry Correia is most certainly not one of them, as he has always been a stand-up champion of everyone on the Right and he has disdained every invitation to denounce and disavow both the Rabid Puppies and me. He may not embrace the conflict as we do, but he fights. I have nothing but respect and regard for the man, because the Mountain is not my personal army. The VFM are….

John C. Wright, who with his family personally attended the Trump rally in DC on January 6, follows his intro to “Larry Correia on the Thought Police Ambush against Baen’s Bar” with extensive quotes from Correia’s blog.

An article to steel the resolve and cure the blindness of anyone unwary enough to underestimate the remorseless malice of the enemy, now comes a column at Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International Website.

Please note the attack was coordinated, using the “Chinese Whisper” techniques beloved by bitter and wrinkle-faced gossipy hags and bloodthirsty communist agitators alike….

Jon Del Arroz, in a kind of unintentional comic relief, spent the day successfully using sock puppets to bait Larry Correia into giving him a great deal more attention, both at Monster Hunter Nation and on Twitter, which is all JDA ever wants anyway.

WILL WEISSKOPF REMAIN A WORLDCON GOH? The DisCon III committee will meet this weekend to discuss “the situation with Baen Books’ forums.”

The range of reactions is as wide as the cultural divide. Here are two articulate examples:

JASON SANFORD. Sanford, meanwhile, is weathering a growing storm of harassment.He sent this status:

I took my Twitter and Facebook pages private for a while because I’m dealing with a serious escalation of harassment over the Baen article. I can’t go into details right now but the harassment is serious. 

I’ll probably be offline for a bit to deal with this stuff. However, I just saw Eric Flint’s essay attacking me and I wanted to say I disagree with what he wrote, which was a misrepresentation of my report. Everything I wrote about was based on facts and actual comments in the forum. I even shared screenshots of the comments on social media.

This also wasn’t a coordinated attack on Baen. Hell, aside from a couple of people who gave feedback on my report no one else knew it was even about to publish. 

Facts and evidence matter, as does reporting what goes on in our genre. I presented what was being said on Baen’s forum in my report. Baen has previously moderated their forum and could easily do so again.

Weisskopf, Correia, Weber Defend Baen’s Bar; Jason Sanford Subjected to Harassment Over His Report

In the wake of reaction to Jason Sanford’s February 15 article “Baen Books Forum Being Used to Advocate for Political Violence”, a public post on Patreon, Baen publisher Toni Weisskopf announced a hiatus for the Baen’s Bar forum.

Toni Weisskopf today replaced Baen’s Bar — for the time being — with “A Note from Toni Weisskopf” (Baen.com)  [Archive.is link]

To Whom It May Concern:

What is it we do at Baen Books? We publish books at the heart of science fiction and fantasy.

Science fiction has traditionally been a unique kind of intellectual pleasure, a process of glorious intercommunication and inspiration, with ideas flowing from scientist and engineer to writer and artist, to reader and viewer, back and forth, in a delightful mélange of shared thoughts, wild speculation, cautionary tales, reality checks, and the sheer fun of playing with boundaries and ideas. It is not for everyone. But those who enjoy it, take great pleasure in the dialogue.

When the modern form of SF began, with Hugo Gernsback and the other pulp magazines of the early 20th century, the publishers fostered that interaction through letter columns in the magazines and by encouraging science fiction readers to organize in clubs and meet in conventions. Baen Books continued that tradition with Baen’s Bar, a kind of virtual convention and on-line conversation that has been around in some form for over 20 years.

The moderators are volunteers. The readers, editors, and writers post and interact on the Bar at their own desire. Some conversations have been gone over so many times, they’ve been retired as simply too boring to contemplate again. Sometimes the rhetoric can get heated. We do not endorse the publication of unlawful speech. We have received no complaints about the content of the Bar from its users.

That said, it has come to our attention that allegations about the Bar have been made elsewhere. We take these allegations seriously, and consequently have put the Bar on hiatus while we investigate. But we will not commit censorship of lawful speech.

It is not Baen Books’ policy to police the opinions of its readers, its authors, its artists, its editors, or indeed anyone else. This applies to posts at the Bar, or on social media, on their own websites, or indeed anywhere else. On the Bar, the publisher does not select what is allowed to be posted, and does not hijack an individual’s messages for their own purposes. Similarly, the posts do not represent the publisher’s opinion, except in a deep belief that free speech is worthy in and of itself.

Most sincerely,
Toni Weisskopf
Publisher

Jason Sanford tweeted an update thread responding to Weisskopf’s statement and contesting some of her claims. Thread starts here.

He concludes:

DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon at which Toni Weisskopf will be a guest of honor, answered calls for a statement with this tweet:

Larry Correia defended his publisher in “Publishing House Baen Books Attacked by Cancel Culture” at Monster Hunter Nation [Internet Archive link].

He threw shade on Sanford’s reporting:

… It was lots of pearl clutching over regular people not toeing their arbitrary political lines, misquotes, errors, quotes taken out of context, and some flat out lies.

However, he declined to challenge any specific quotes cited by Sanford:

…I’m not going to talk about the moronic loser or go through all the nonsense in his ridiculous hit piece. Other people are going through it now and carefully cataloging his bullshit. In typical leftist fashion he’s already pretending to be the victim and claiming he’s getting death threats. Maybe he can get in touch with Anita Sarkesian and Arthur Chu for tips.

Correia urged readers to believe what is happening is a “coordinated attack,” that Sanford’s article is being used as the basis for complaints made to Baen’s internet service providers, and Baen’s Bar was temporarily taken down to “protect the rest of the company from being deplatformed.”   

…However, this was clearly part of a coordinated attack in order to materially harm our business, because immediately after the hit piece was released complaints were filed with the various internet companies Baen uses for services to pressure them into kicking us off the internet. This hit piece was presented as “evidence”. Without going into details the companies then contacted Baen about these “serious allegations” so last night Baen temporarily took down the Bar forum to protect the rest of the company from being deplatformed.

…However, lying hit pieces from lefty activists aren’t anything new. We’re used to those. The real issue here is the complaints to the internet companies so they’ll deplatform anyone who doesn’t fall in line. The woke left saw what Big Tech did to Parler and they learned from it. This is a new weapon in their arsenal to beat America over the head with. The nail that sticks up must be hammered down.

Correia then assured readers that Baen’s Bar did not deserve this attention.

…The Bar isn’t a hotbed of extremism. It’s not a hotbed of anything. It’s an old forum that was mostly kept around because of tradition. It was created at the dawn of internet forums. I haven’t used it in years (I had already built up my online presence elsewhere when I started writing for them). But that isn’t the point. Anything that can be a target, will eventually be a target. They’re coming for your business next.

As Rev. Bob observed in a comment here:

And naturally it took the MHI commentariat all of an hour to test the theory that Baen’s capitulated, reject that in favor of it being a coordinated attack by The Left (complete with the problematic content really being false-flag posts by Seekrit Leftist Infiltrators), assert that this is really about smashing Baen into nonexistence by denying them distribution, denounce such coordinated attacks as despicable lefty tactics, and finally call for a coordinated attack on Sanford’s Patreon account.

David Weber, widely regarded as Baen’s flagship author, came to their defense on Facebook. He offered these reassurances:

… But there is no way in hell that the Barflies, as they are affectionately known, are advocating for political violence. Opinions are expressed, especially in the politics forum, and tempers are running high on both sides of our current political divide, so there’s a certain degree of venting. And there are a surprising number of historians, who can be relied upon to summon up historical examples to back their points. And there are heaps of independent thinkers, who aren’t going to hew to any particular party’s line and can be trusted to step upon any sore political toes in the vicinity. And there are quite a lot of veterans, who know what violence is REALLY like — unlike the vast majority of people who are currently hyperventilating about it in this country — which means the LAST THING they would want would be to instigate violence that is anything except defensive.

… Baen Books is frequently characterized as a “right wing publisher.” That’s as stupid as the notion that the Barflies are plotting a violent coup….

To refresh readers’ memories, immediately after the January 6 insurrection  Baen author Tom Kratman made an extended comment on the next move in his Baen’s Bar author forum which began:

So where do Trump and the nation go from here?

He needs to do three things; start his own news channel, start his own party, and start his own well-armed militia as part of the party.

The militia – again, a _well_armed_ militia – is necessary to present a threat in being to the powers that be such that, should they use extra-, pseudo-, and quasi-legal means to try to suppress the party, the price presented will be far too high.  The militia will be heavily infiltrated; this is a given.  No matter; it will not be there for any purpose but to present a serious threat of major combat, and the shame of defeat, and the reality of death, to the tactical elements, police and military, that may be used against the party.

It ought to be made clear that, “I can start the civil war with a stamp of my foot.  I’ve refrained, so far, but you cannot count on that restraint under all circumstances.  And if I am infiltrated, you are even more so.”…

Today Kratman also left a comment on Correia’s post which begins —  

Jon Del Arroz, who has a Patton moment every time he sees there’s some attention he’s not getting (“An entire world at war, and I’m left out of it? God will not permit this to happen!”), also rushed to comment on Correia’s post. His efforts to horn in were recognized for what they were and Correia verbally flattened him. These excerpts are just one part.

Finally, here are other examples of the harassment being directed at Jason Sanford on Twitter. He has received more in direct messages there and on Facebook.

And with respect to the “helicopter ride” political murder meme:

Pixel Scroll 1/21/21 Underpeople S’top And S’tare, They Don’t Bother Me

(1) 45 PROOF. [Item by Rich Lynch.] A couple of years ago, in SFPA, I ran an essay titled “Of Beer and the Beltway” which was reprinted in the current (25th) issue of My Back Pages.

In it, I mentioned that a local craft brewery, 7 Locks, was producing a Rye Pale Ale they had named “Surrender Dorothy”, the name a riff on The Wizard of Oz but also a homage to a stunt that happened at a Washington Beltway railroad bridge overpass back in the 1970s.  Here’s what the beer’s logo looks like:  Surrender Dorothy RyePA – 7 Locks Brewing

In that same issue of MBP, I noted that there had recently been modern day pranksters at work who had updated the “Surrender Dorothy” Beltway bridge stunt by spray-painting that same bridge with “Surrender Donald”.  And now 7 Locks has produced a limited-run Rye PA with that same name:  Surrender Donald 6-packs | 7 Locks Brewing Online Shop

I didn’t find out about it until today, when it was described in a short news item in The Washington Post.  And since it was a limited run, it’s unfortunately no longer available.  I see they have beer glasses with that logo listed, so I may try to get one of them.  But damn!  Wish I’d known about it before today!

(2) SUPER TRAILER. The CW dropped a trailer for Superman & Lois.

(3) VIRTUAL CAPRICON. Capricon 41 begins two weeks from today. It’s usually in Chicago, but will be held this year in virtual space.

We have some really amazing program lined up for you, with awesome panelists from all over the world. Check out the full schedule at https://guide.capricon.org/. This is a mostly final schedule, but note that there may still be a few changes to times and panelists to come

Don’t Forget to Register! Everyone must register to access the virtual convention space. Register here.

(4) BERNIE SITS IN. A meme-driven website lets you “Put Bernie Anywhere!” The New York Times explains: “Bernie Sanders Is Once Again the Star of a Meme”.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is a fierce advocate of fair wages and a former presidential candidate who lost the Democratic nomination to now-President Biden. And thanks to his practical clothing choices he is also now the center of a seemingly endless flood of altered pictures that dominated some corners of the internet in the hours after Mr. Biden’s socially distanced inauguration on Wednesday.

Amid the dark suits and bright coats dotting the Capitol steps, Mr. Sanders was photographed sitting masked, cross-legged and bundled up in a bulky coat and mittens against the frigid weather in Washington, D.C. Soon after, the image, taken by the photographer Brendan Smialowski for Getty Images, began to circulate on social media inserted into a wide array of photographs and scenes from movies and artworks….

(5) NIGHTMARE FROM DEL TORO. “Searchlight Sets Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Nightmare Alley’ for December” reports Yahoo! Entertainment.

Searchlight Pictures has updated its 2021 release calendar, dating Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley” for December 3. The date puts del Toro’s latest in the thick of the 2021-2022 awards season. Searchlight appears to be following the same release plan it gave del Toro’s last movie, “The Shape of Water,” which started its U.S. theatrical rollout on the first weekend of December. “The Shape of Water” debuted at the Venice Film Festival, winning the Golden Lion, and it seems likely “Nightmare Alley” will show up on the fall film festival circuit.

Del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley” is adapted by the filmmaker, and film critic Kim Morgan, from the 1946 William Lindsay Gresham novel of the same name. The ensemble cast includes Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Ron Perlman, Rooney Mara, and David Strathairn…

(6) CASE IN POINT. The Hugo Book Club blog is going through all the Hugo-shortlisted dramatic presentations in order to see how the art of SFF cinema has evolved over time. The third post in the series is: “Hugo Cinema Club: 1960 Gets In The Zone”.

In 1960, for example, Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling seems to have been mostly unaware of the award until some two weeks later when a delegation of California-based fans who had just returned from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania visited the CBS offices to hand him a three-pound chrome rocketship on September 22.

The fans — including Bjo and John Trimble, Rick Sneary and Forrest J Ackerman — were greeted warmly by the television legend, who had also earned his fourth Emmy that summer….

(7) DISTAFF SUPERHEROES. The Women of Marvel podcast announced a special celebrating Marvel’s heroes will debut in April. Women Of Marvel #1 will spotlight iconic characters from the X-Men to the Avengers in a collection of tales by an all-female lineup from throughout the entertainment industry.

Kicking things off will be comics legend Louise Simonson with a must-read introduction. Simonson will be followed by some of the hottest rising stars in the graphic novel industry. Nadia Shammas punches the glass ceiling with an action-packed She-Hulk adventure, Elsa Sjunneson grits her way to the front line with a tale about Captain Peggy Carter, Sophie Campbell goes feral with a bone-grinding Marrow story, video game and comics writer Anne Toole gets gritty in the streets of Hell’s Kitchen, and Natasha Alterici of Heathen fame charges sword-first into the Marvel Universe with a revelatory tale about Rogue and Mystique. With astonishing art from new and established artists Kei Zama (TransformersDeath’s Head), Eleonora Carlini (Power RangersBatgirl), Skylar Patridge (ResonantRelics of Youth), Joanna Estep (Fantastic FourFraggle Rock) and more, readers are sure to come away powered up and ready to slay.

(8) MEMORY LANE.

  • 2006 — Fifteen years ago at L.A.con IV, Serenity wins the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. Serenity was the film that finished off the story that started in the much beloved by fans Firefly series that aired briefly on FOX. Other finalists that year were Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-RabbitThe Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the WardrobeBatman Begins and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It currently holds a phenomenal ninety-one percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 21, 1858 – Anna Dodd.  Short stories, novels, essays and other nonfiction e.g. criticism for The Art JournalIn and Out of Three Normandy InnsTalleyrand.  Fluent in French and Italian.  Some say Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward was inspired by AD’s novel for us The Republic of the Future, subtitled Socialism a Reality, but it’s no joyous forecast.  (Died 1929) [JH]
  • Born January 21, 1921 – Charles Eric Maine.  A score of novels, as many shorter stories.  Here is a cover for his fanzine The Satellite – not to be confused with this.  Many applaud his Mind of Mr Soames.  Also detective fiction, engineering, radio, television, film.  (Died 1981) [JH]
  • Born January 21, 1923 – Judith Merril.  Four novels, thirty shorter stories; book reviews for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction; half a dozen collections e.g. The Best of JM and posthumous Homecalling; a dozen annual Year’s Best SF (“a practically flawless anthologist” – Anthony Boucher).  Introduced and commented on Canadian broadcasts of Doctor Who.  Co-founded Milford Writers’ Conference.  Toronto Public Library’s Merril Collection named for her.  SF Hall of Fame.  (Died 1997) [JH]
  • Born January 21, 1925 Charles Aidman. He makes the Birthday Honors for having the recurring role of Jeremy Pike on The Wild Wild West, playing him four times. Other SFF appearances include Destination SpaceThe InvadersTwilight ZoneMission: Impossible and Kolchak the Night Stalker to name but a few of them. (Died 1993.) (CE)
  • Born January 21, 1929 – Arthur Jean Cox.  Two novels, a score of shorter stories.  Active in his local club – a six-year string of perfect attendance at weekly meetings, eight terms as an officer – and cons e.g. Pacificon I the 4th Worldcon.  Essays, letters, reviews in AmazingAstoundingFantasy TimesF & SFRiverside QuarterlySF ChronicleSF Review.  (Died 2016) [JH]
  • Born January 21, 1938 Wolfman Jack. Here because I spotted him showing up twice in Battlestar Galactica 1980 presumably as himself if I trust IMDb as it doesn’t list a character for him. He does have genre character roles having been in the Swamp Thing and Wonder Women series plus two horror films, Motel Hell and The Midnight Hour. (Died 1995.) (CE)
  • Born January 21, 1939 Walter C. DeBill, Jr., 82. An author of horror and SF short stories and a contributor to the Cthulhu Mythos. Author of the Observers of the Unknown series about a Lovecraftian occult detective which is collected is two volumes, The Horror from Yith and The Changeling. They don’t appear to be in print currently. (CE) 
  • Born January 21, 1947 – Cherith Baldry, age 74.  Sixty novels, seventy shorter stories, for us, some under different names; a dozen other books; plays; essays, letters, reviews in Banana WingsFocusVector.  [JH]
  • Born January 21, 1956 Geena Davis, 65. Best remembered genre wise I’d say for being in Beetlejuice but she also appeared in Earth Girls Are Easy and Transylvania 6-5000. She’s done some one-offs on series including Knight RiderFantasy Island and The Exorcist. Yes, they turned The Exorcist into a series.  (CE)
  • Born January 21, 1956 Diana Pavlac Glyer, 65. Author whose work centers on C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Inklings. She teaches in the Honors College at Azusa Pacific University in California. She has two excellent works out now, The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community and Bandersnatch: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings. (CE)
  •  Born January 21, 1972 –Tracy Falbe, age 49.  Ten novels.  Has read DraculaEmpire of the Summer MoonNineteen Eighty-FourParadise LostTwenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.  “I want to create someone you want to root for and then give him some disappointing traits.  I might infuriate a reader….  I’ll at least know that I provoked emotion.”  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) BAD FLASHBACK. Sam Besanti, in “What Is Marvel’s Heroes Reborn And Why Can’t We Shake This Feeling of Impending Doom?”  at AV Club, says Marvel Entertainment (the whole company, not just the movie or comic book divisions) sent out a Cryptic Tweet with a teaser announcing the birth of “Heroes Reborn” and speculators are speculating what Marvel means by this.

Today, Marvel Entertainment—that’s the whole company, covering the movies, the comics, and the games—posted a curious teaser that simply had the name Heroes Reborn and “whatever happened to Earth’s mightiest heroes?” underneath. We don’t know specifically what that means, but there is one obvious implication, and based on the… oh, let’s say mixed reaction that the post is getting on Twitter, a lot of Marvel fans are coming to the same conclusion….

(12) X-MEN. X-Men Legends #1 hits stand on February 17. The series “will dive into the rich history of the X-Men to tie up loose ends, resolve long-standing plot danglers, and reveal shocking truths that will change the past and future of the X-Men!” Take a first look at the interior artwork here.

X-Men history will be revisited and revealed when X-MEN LEGENDS #1 debuts next month. This first-of-its-kind series will feature the return of the franchise’s most influential creators—including Louise Simonson, Chris Claremont, and more— in all-new, in-continuity stories set during their groundbreaking runs. Starting things off will be Fabian Nicieza with a two-part tale that finally reveals the truth behind one of the most talked-about mutant mysteries: Adam-X and his startling connection to the Summers bloodline!

Introduced during Nicieza’s explosive work on the X-Men in their nineties heyday, the beginnings of this storyline can be traced back to 1993’s X-Men #23. Since then, X-Men fans have endlessly speculated, theorized, and debated what became known as the “third Summers brother” mystery. Now, all will be answered as one the most infamous comic book plot danglers of all time is resolved!

(13) BIG SHOT. [Item by JJ.] Arnold Schwarzenegger posted video of himself receiving his first dose of coronavirus vaccine at the Dodger Stadium mass vaccination site. He celebrated the moment by slipping in a line from his film — “Come with me if you want to live!”

(14) NARNIA IS NOT INERRANT. Joe R. Christopher has a short essay titled “Was Aslan Wrong about Jadis’s Plan of Attack?” published in Mythprint 57:4, Whole No. 395 (Winter 2020): 8-9 (for sale at the link.) The answer is “Yes, he was.”

(15) HE MUST BE GOING. Larry Correia says Facebook “banned me from my own group because of what I MIGHT say.” Correia has been temporarily banned from FB from time to time, but I’ve never before heard of a ban where a person can still post on his own wall, which is where Correia announced he’ll be curtailing his FB presence. Not actually ending it: “There’s a few groups I use here that I can’t get the equivalent resource anywhere else yet.” All that he told his FB followers has been turned into a post for Monster Hunter Nation: “A Farewell to Facebook” [Internet Archive link].

Jon Del Arroz in a new YouTube video said he is amused by this turn of affairs, because he claims Correia had long ago kicked him out of his group. 

…The post is kind of making the rounds that Larry Correia was banned from his own Facebook group after a couple of years. I’m kind of laughing about this, I’m not, going to lie, because Larry Correia actually ordered that I would be banned from his Facebook group a couple years ago for my quote wrong think or wrong meaning as it were this always happens with the libertarian crowd…

Truthfulness is not JDA’s strong suit, however, he’s banned here, so why not from Larry’s FB group, too?

(16) BIG AND GRAY. Satellite images may take over from aircraft when it comes to surveying this endangered population: “Elephants counted from space for conservation”.

…And all the laborious elephant counting is done via machine learning – a computer algorithm trained to identify elephants in a variety of backdrops.

“We just present examples to the algorithm and tell it, ‘This is an elephant, this is not an elephant,'” Dr Olga Isupova, from the University of Bath, said.

“By doing this, we can train the machine to recognise small details that we wouldn’t be able to pick up with the naked eye.”

The scientists looked first at South Africa’s Addo Elephant National Park.

“It has a high density of elephants,” University of Oxford conservation scientist Dr Isla Duporge said.

“And it has areas of thickets and of open savannah.

“So it’s a great place to test our approach.

“While this is a proof of concept, it’s ready to go.

“And conservation organisations are already interested in using this to replace surveys using aircraft.”

Conservationists will have to pay for access to commercial satellites and the images they capture.

But this approach could vastly improve the monitoring of threatened elephant populations in habitats that span international borders, where it can be difficult to obtain permission for aircraft surveys.

(17) A ROSE WAR BY ANY OTHER NAME. The Folger Shakespeare Library podcast Shakespeare Unlimited brings us “Shakespeare and ‘Game of Thrones’”.

Based on his knowledge of Shakespeare’s Henry VI plays, Harvard’s Dr. Jeffrey R. Wilson knew just how HBO’s Game of Thrones would play out. Jon Snow, the illegitimate son, was a Richard III type, who would win the crown (and our hearts, in a love-to-hate-him kind of way). But Daenerys Targaryen, as a kind of Henry VII, would defeat him in battle and win it back, restoring peace and order. Turns out he was wrong about all of that.

But as Wilson kept watching, he began to appreciate the other ways Game of Thrones is similar to Shakespeare—like the way that both Shakespeare and George R.R. Martin’s stories translate the history of the Wars of the Roses into other popular genres….

(18) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter witnessed another stumper on tonight’s Jeopardy!

Final Jeopardy: British Writers

Answer: When Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days in 1926, this British fellow writer tried to find her with the help of a spiritual medium.

Wrong questions: Who is George Orwell? and Who is George Bernard Shaw?

Correct question (only 1 contestant got it right): Who is Arthur Conan Doyle?

(19) A MISSION. Pierre Pettinger, the well-known costumer who along with his wife Sandy received the International Costumers Guild’s 2000 Lifetime Achievement Award, published a new space opera in October, The Road From Antioch.

The pilgrim ship Antioch is destroyed just short of the New Vatican. Someone is stealing critical shipments in the Chemosh Empire. Two worlds of the Laanyr Clan Heer have been attacked. Small vessels are buzzing the Rivnyera World Ships.

Who is behind these incidents? Terrorists? Rebels? The mysterious Cherek? Or someone else entirely? The nations of the Orion Arm must join forces and find the culprits.
The investigation ranges from the space around the planet Ans to the fields of Inohr Dan Nool to the supposedly primitive planet of Cordwainer. Join an Admiral, a Catholic Sister, a Knight Militant, an Ensign, a Great Mind, an Inspector and a Herdmaster as they seek out the perpetrators of these odd occurrences.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Jimmy Kimmel Live aired this wild animation last night – “Goodbye Donald Trump”.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Tammy Coxen, Pierre Pettinger, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 1/11/21 The
Muppet Pastors

(1) LIGHTS OUT AT PARLER. When Twitter banned President Trump and purged thousands of QAnon-linked accounts that fell under the company’s “coordinated harmful activity” ban (due to concerns about online incitement leading to violence), Parler was one of the alternative social media sites expecting to offer a new home to the traffic — until its tech host, Amazon, pulled the plug: “Parler sues Amazon after pro-Trump site goes dark” in the Washington Post.

Parler filed a lawsuit against Amazon Web Services on Monday, just hours after the social media network was taken offline when Amazon pulled support.

Parler filed the suit against Amazon on Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The company alleges in the suit that Amazon breached its contract by not giving it 30 days’ notice before dropping service. Parler also argued that Amazon was being hypocritical by not taking similar action against Twitter, where violent posts can also appear.Big Tech abandoned the social media site, known for allowing unfettered speech on its platform, over the weekend after expressing concern that the site was not properly moderating posts that could incite violence. Google and Apple removed Parler from its app stores, while Amazon — which was hosting the site on its cloud — decided to stop working with it, effectively removing it from the Internet.

…Even after Apple warned Parler that it needed to implement a more thorough content moderation plan or be kicked off the App Store, the social media network spurned the idea.

(2) HOYT. Sarah Hoyt, in “…Book Promo And Some Blather By Sarah” [Internet Archive link], urged people not to make her Amazon sales collateral damage in their reaction to its treatment of Parler.

A lot of you are furious at Amazon for joining the unconscionable censorship of Parler, which btw is still relatively small and all innocuous, other than, you know, allowing Trump a platform (Because as invaders, the left can’t let the president of the US address the nation, of course.) Look, so am I. I’m even more furious because I have no way out of the trap.

Yes, a lot of you — yes, I’m looking at you — have raged at Amazon for years and told us it would come for us and that we should get out now. This was not only misguided (I’ll explain why) but also it’s kind of the equivalent of poking a chained prisoner and saying “run.” He really wants to, but all you’re actually doing is torturing and wounding him.

However, since last night, this has TRULY become an emergency, not because of what Amazon will do or won’t do to ebook fiction (more on that) but because a core of my readers will now refuse to buy from Amazon under any circumstances, which means that I’m going to lose a lot of my income (and Amazon won’t give a flying fig. But I get your outrage, I understand, and yet you’ll only hurt the writers, UNTIL WE HAVE AN ALTERNATIVE.)

(3) CORREIA. Larry Correia’s post “Bow Before Appgooglezon” [Internet Archive link] at Monster Hunter Nation mentions neither Parler nor Amazon, but everyone in comments knows what’s being discussed, and they do name them.

(4) PUNDITRY. Camestros Felapton finds the two prior authors a source of inspiration for his own commentary. Quoted here are the final lines of a pair of his latest posts.

…So there you go, not one red cent apart from any red cents where a proportion of the red cent might go to Sarah Hoyt.

…It is a bit late in the day for Larry to discover that Elizabeth Warren had a point but it is noticeable that the step big tech took that tipped Larry over the edge was them clamping down on speech aimed at inciting violence to over throw an election.

(5) SCALZI. John Scalzi has written several posts on recent developments, beginning with “Thoughts on Coups and Sedition, 1/8/21”. (His comment on Trump’s Twitter ban is comparatively laconic: “Huh”.)  

Fine. First question: Was what happened on Wednesday an actual coup attempt?

What makes you think that it wasn’t?

I don’t know, I guess maybe I thought a real coup wouldn’t include a guy who looked like a Jamiroquai cosplayer at a Nazi bar karaoke night.

Just because it was a stupid coup attempt doesn’t mean it wasn’t a real coup attempt. Trump plumped for the thing to happen in his nodding and winking way on Twitter, and he incited it and encouraged it in person. The attendees came expecting to take part in one, and had planned their strategy, such as it was, on Parler and other not-exactly-savory portions of the internet. They brought weapons and zip ties. They went looking for congresspeople. They weren’t just there to hang out on the mall, wave their Trump flags, get a churro and go home. They meant business. Fortunately like all Trump business, it went belly up in record time. But that’s neither here nor there for the intent….

(6) JEMISIN. N.K. Jemisin identifies some historical myopia in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s video (linked in yesterday’s Scroll) but adds “I’m mostly fine with Arnold’s message, BTW.”

(7) WATCHING BB. Buckaroo Banzai is the theme of the World Watch One Newsletter for January 10 [PDF file] which contains Steven H Silver’s “The Buckaroo Barrier” (pp. 15-16) where he explains, “I’ve been a fan of the film Buckaroo Banzai ever since I saw it in the theatres. A few years ago, I realized that for a lot of people, the first viewing of the film left them confused and disliking the film. I discuss why a second viewing may be necessary to appreciate it.”

(8) FIVE YEARS. Wil Wheaton shared his sobriety anniversary on Facebook His testimony begins:

Yesterday, I marked the fifth anniversary of my decision to quit drinking alcohol. It was the most consequential choice I have ever made in my life, and I am able to stand before you today only because I made it.

I was slowly and steadily killing myself with booze. I was getting drunk every night, because I couldn’t face the incredible pain and PTSD I had from my childhood, at the hands of my abusive father and manipulative mother.

It was unsustainable, and I knew it was unsustainable, but when you’re an addict, knowing something is unhealthy and choosing to do something about it are two very different things….

(9) SELF-PROPELLED TBR. Most have to go to the mountain, but his Mount TBR came to him, and James Davis Nicoll can even tell you the names of “Five of the Best Books I Never Meant to Read”.

While but a callow youth, I subscribed to the Science Fiction Book Club. The club, wise in the ways of procrastination, would send each month’s selection of books to subscribers UNLESS the subscribers had sent the club a card informing the SFBC that one did not want the books in question. All too often I planned to send the card off, only to realize (once again), when a box of books arrived, that intent is not at all the same thing as action.

Thus, I received books that I would not have chosen but, once in possession, I read and enjoyed them. All praise to the SFBC and the power of procrastination! Here are five of my favorite unintended reading experiences…

(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

1991 — The Nebula Award for Best Novel went to Ursula K. Le Guin’s Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea, the fourth novel of the Earthsea sequence. It published by Atheneum in 1990. It had been twenty years since the last Earthsea novel was published. It would be not the last novel as The Other Wind would follow twenty years later.  It would also win the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 11, 1886 – Samuel Cahan.  Frequent Argosy interiors for us, e.g. Pirates of Venus and The Synthetic Men of Mars (Burroughs), “The Earth-Shaker” (Leinster).  Outside our field e.g. this fine drawing of Woodrow Wilson.  (Died 1974) [JH]
  • Born January 11, 1906 – John Myers Myers.  A score of books, including historical fiction, nonfiction, poetry; for us marvelously Silverlock – get the NESFA Press edition with songs, a Reader’s Guide, commentary; as the folklorist George Melikis said about something else, “I love studying Macedonia because everybody lives there.”  (Died 1988) [JH]
  • Born January 11, 1923 Jerome Bixby. His “It’s a Good Life” story became the basis for an episode of the original Twilight Zone episode under the same name and which was included in Twilight Zone: The Movie. He also wrote four episodes for the original Star Trek series: “Mirror, Mirror”, “Day of the Dove”, “Requiem for Methuselah”, and “By Any Other Name”. With Otto Klement, he co-wrote the story upon which the Fantastic Voyage series and the Isaac Asimov novel were based. Bixby’s final produced or published work so far was the screenplay for The Man from Earth film. (Died 1998.) (CE) 
  • Born January 11, 1928 – Virgil Burnett.  Author, illustrator, sculptor, Professor of Fine Arts at Univ. Waterloo (Ontario, Canada).  A dozen short stories collected in Towers at the Edge of a World.  Here is a cover for The War of the Worlds.  Here is his frontispiece for Jurgen.  HereThe Rubâ‘îyat [pl. of rubâ‘î , a kind of quatrain] of Omar Khayyam.  Here is his cover for Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  Here is Alexander the Great.  See this note on a 2013 exhibit by his daughter at Haverford College.  (Died 2012) [JH]
  • Born January 11, 1930 Rod Taylor. First SFF role would be as Israel Hands in Long John Silver. He would follow that up with World Without End (which you probably heard of), the Hugo nominated The Time MachineColossus and the Amazon Queen (Taylor claims to have rewritten the script though there’s no proof of this), The Birds (I really don’t like it), Gulliver’s Travels, One Hundred and One Dalmatians and last, and certainly least, The Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy. (Died 2015.) (CE)
  • Born January 11, 1931 – Mary Rodgers.  Her Freaky Friday and three sequels are ours; I’m unsure about her musical Once Upon a Mattress – is “The Princess and the Pea” fantasy?  She did music and lyrics for Davy Jones’ Locker with the Bill Baird marionettes, also music for a Pinocchio with them.  Daughter of Richard Rodgers.  (Died 2014) [JH]
  • Born January 11, 1937 Felix Silla, 84. He played Cousin Itt (sic) on The Addams Family in a role invented for the show. The voice was not done by him but rather provided by sound engineer Tony Magro in post-production. He was also responsible for the physical performance of Twiki on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century though the voice was supplied by Mel Blanc or Bob Elyea. And he played an unnamed Ewok on Return of the Jedi. (CE)
  • Born January 11, 1961 Jasper Fforde, 60. I read and thoroughly enjoyed every one of his Thursday Next novels with their delightfully twisted word play as I did his Nursery Crimes series. I thought last year when I wrote Birthday note up that I had not read his Shades of Grey books and I was right — I now know that I read the first few chapters of the first one and wasn’t impressed enough to finish it. I do know I’ve not read the Dragonslayer series though I’ve heard Good Things about them. (CE) 
  • Born January 11, 1963 Jason Connery, 58. Son of Sir Sean Connery. He’s best known for appearing in the third series of Robin of Sherwood, a series I loved dearly, including the music done by Clannad which I’ve got live boots of. He also played Jondar in the Vengeance on Varosstory on Doctor Who during the Sixth Doctor era (much least favorite Doctors). He was Ian Fleming in Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming. And he was a young Merlin in Merlin: The Quest Begins. (CE)
  • Born January 11, 1972 Tom Ward, 39. He’s Captain Latimer in the Eleventh Doctor’s Christmas Special, “The Snowmen”.  He played H.G. Wells in Hallmark’s The Infinite Worlds of H. G. Wells series, and he’s Edward Goodwin in Harry Price: Ghost Hunter. His latest genre role was as Sir Robert Peel in The Frankenstein Chronicles. (CE) 
  • Born January 11, 1976 – Alethea Kontis, age 45.  A dozen novels for us, four dozen shorter stories.  NY Times and USA Today best-seller.  Keynote address at Lewis Carroll Society’s Alice150 Conference.  “Alethea means truth in Greek, but I was named after an episode from the first season of Kung Fu where Jodie Foster played a little girl named Alethea Ingram….  Our last name was originally Kontaridis, but my grandfather shortened it.”  Makes good baklava, plays bad acoustic guitar.  [JH]
  • Born January 11, 1987 – Wesley King, age 34.  A dozen novels, including two with Kobe Bryant and the possibly well-titled Incredible Space Rangers from Space.  NY Times best-seller.  Has read “Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, The Time Machine, four Shakespeare plays, War and PeaceWhere the Wild Things Are.  Lives in Nova Scotia and on a 1967 sailboat.  [JH]

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) BUT ON THE EIGHTH LEG. Literary Hub podcast Otherppl with Brad Listi brings us “George Saunders on How You Know When the Talking Spider Belongs in the Story”.

…For me, my intention is I really want all my stories to speak to those moments in our lives when the scrim drops away and we’re confronted with the brutality of this life that we’re living in. And also the beauty. But I want my stories to be comforting in the sense that they won’t be full of shit if you read them at a low moment. That means that I don’t want anything in a story that doesn’t serve that purpose, or another way of saying it is I don’t want anything weird to happen until it’s going to do that kind of emotional work. So my default is there’s no weird shit allowed. I’m basically a realist at heart. But every so often you get to a place where a story is saying, “If you will just let me have the talking spider, I will be more profound.” Or often what it does is it says, “There’s a question that I have to ask here in this story, but I can’t do it without the talking spider. Would you allow it?”

(14) CLASHING SYMBOLS. Mental Floss says the public can “Help Massachusetts Choose a Possible State Dinosaur”.

Massachusetts residents have no shortage of state symbols through which to celebrate their regional devotion….

Now, Massachusetts state legislator Jack Patrick Lewis is lobbying for another one: state dinosaur. As Boston.com reports, Lewis has fostered a passion for prehistoric creatures ever since seeing The Land Before Time (1988) in his youth, and he’s hoping an official state dinosaur will help fellow Bay Staters learn about the area’s early history.

Lewis has chosen two species to consider for the designation. The Podokesaurus holyokensis is a 3-to-6-foot carnivore whose fossils were unearthed around Mount Holyoke in 1910. Mignon Talbot, the woman who made the discovery, was the first woman to ever name a newfound dinosaur. The Podokesaurus’s competition is the Anchisaurus polyzelus, a slightly larger herbivore whose bones were located in Springfield, Massachusetts, more than half a century earlier….

Twelve states and the District of Columbia already have state dinosaurs – and there’s a separate category for state fossils.

(15) DINO NEST. At the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, “Researchers Announce World’s First Dinosaur Preserved Sitting on Nest of Eggs with Fossilized Babies”.

…“This kind of discovery—in essence, fossilized behavior—is the rarest of the rare in dinosaurs,” explains Dr. Lamanna. “Though a few adult oviraptorids have been found on nests of their eggs before, no embryos have ever been found inside those eggs. In the new specimen, the babies were almost ready to hatch, which tells us beyond a doubt that this oviraptorid had tended its nest for quite a long time. This dinosaur was a caring parent that ultimately gave its life while nurturing its young.”
 
The team also conducted oxygen isotope analyses that indicate that the eggs were incubated at high, bird-like temperatures, adding further support to the hypothesis that the adult perished in the act of brooding its nest. Moreover, although all embryos were well-developed, some appear to have been more mature than others, which in turn suggests that oviraptorid eggs in the same clutch might have hatched at slightly different times. This characteristic, known as asynchronous hatching, appears to have evolved independently in oviraptorids and some modern birds.

(16) SHARING EXPERIENCE. The Odyssey Writing Workshop Blog presents “Interview: Graduate & Guest Lecturer Gregory Ashe”.

You’ve published six books in your Hazard and Somerset mysteries. Do you tend to outline your books and series ahead of time, or do you tend to figure things out as you go along? When you started the series, did you know how many books you would write and where your characters would end up?

Although I have become more and more of an outliner, there is still an element of excavation and discovery in each book I write. One challenge I’ve faced as a writer is that I tend to write long books—and if I’m not careful, they become massive. Outlining helps me control the size of the story, as well as ensuring that I hit the right beats and turns when and where I want to. The excavatory and exploratory side of storytelling tends to happen, for me, between those major plot points. I have written quite a few books without an outline at all, but that is less and less the case. The same is true for series. The Hazard and Somerset series essentially took shape as two parts: the first four books, and then the last two. I learned from that, and when I wrote ‘season two,’ Hazard and Somerset: A Union of Swords, I had a fairly comprehensive outline for the five-book series. I now tend to write all of my series this way, with an outline to guide the pacing of the series as well as the individual books.

(17) CAT SCAN. In a video at A.V. Club, “Take a model train tour through a world ruled by giant cats”.

Jonathan Lawton is a visionary artist. His work may seem humble—the West Yorkshire man builds model railways, set in blue-skied little villages, just like so many other people looking for a productive reprieve from their daily lives. But, Lawton’s work extends beyond its genre and into the realm of speculative fiction thanks to his collaborator, a cat named Mittens that towers like a benevolent god in a showcase of his creation….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Power Rangers Pitch Meeting” on YouTube, Ryan George explains that people who see the Power Rangers remake will not enjoy Bryan Cranston’s performance as a 65-million-year-old blue guy or that there’s no Power Rangers action until 90 minutes into the movie.

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