Last Dangerous Visions Acquired By Blackstone Publishing

J. Michael Straczynski today announced that a deal to publish Harlan Ellison’s The Last Dangerous Visions, as well as its predecessors, Dangerous Visions and Again, Dangerous Visions has been struck with Blackstone Publishing via Emma Parry at the Janklow & Nesbit Agency, and was announced at the London Book Fair. He says the book is slated for publication in 2023.

Straczynski also told Facebook readers:

Blackstone is a major, mainstream publisher, handling such authors as Cory Doctorow, Ben Bova and James Clavell, and has the capacity to get Harlan’s work out into brick-and-mortar bookstores as well as online retailers in mass market editions for the first time in many years.

The books will be published in hardcover, paperback, ebook and audiobook. They will be available for purchase individually and in a separate, unified edition. With TLDV formally finished and scheduled for publication, this completes the Dangerous Vision trilogy of anthologies.

[Thanks to John Mark Ockerbloom for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 10/20/21 Roll Over Harkonnen And Tell Shai-Tchovsky The News

(1) KRESS Q&A. DisCon III has posted an “Interview with Author Guest of Honor Nancy Kress” conducted by staff member Dr. Karen Purcell.

(2) FALLEN LEAVES AND HEROES. Brian Murphy shares ten spooky sword and sorcery stories for October:  “Ten Sword-and-Sorcery Tales For the Haunting Season” at Goodman Games.

…Here in New England, I find that as the leaves begin to turn and October shadows lengthen, so too do my thoughts drift from my natural sword-and-sorcery bent toward the nether regions of horror. Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King, classic Hammer movies and bad slasher films, bring it on, all of it.

But I’m also reminded that I need not necessarily choose between the two. Sword-and-sorcery after all is bedfellows with horror. Though he loathed the term, Karl Edward Wagner described S&S as “a fascinating synthesis of horror, adventure, and imagination … the common motif is a universe in which magic works and an individual may kill according to his personal code.”…

(3) FIRST REFLECTIONS. Tom Shapira analyzes how the Holocaust was reflected in 1950s horror comics: “The Dead Come Back: Mid-Century Horror Comics & The Holocaust”.

We’ve come a long way since Art Spiegelman’s Maus. When the first collected edition published in 1986, it appeared to be a singular and wholly unimagined thing: a comic-book — garishly colored, childishly-plotted things that were mostly concerned with muscled men in tights — about the Holocaust. German philosopher Theodore Adorno once claimed that “To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric”…so how can one justify the writing and drawing of comic-books?!

Flash-forward to 2021 and it’s clear that Maus has long stopped being a singular event. There are many more comics about the Holocaust including two graphic adaptations of The Diary of Anne Frank (one of which recently got a movie treatment), A Family SecretYosselThe BoxerHidden, and even the superhero genre feeling confident enough to take on the subject with the likes of Magneto: Testament….

(4) HE-MAN AND SHE-RA. The Rogues in the House podcast has dedicated an entire episode to “Masters of the Universe”.

(5) START AT THE TOP. And work your way down. Mark Lawrence has finally received a satisfactory result from his recent battles with Kindle Direct Publishing.  The updated saga is here. “My attempts to get sense from KDP”.

… At this point, having aired the first version of this blog post, I get advice from self-publishing experts. Email Jeff Bezos they say. So I do.

I find his email address and email him, explaining that I understand the email will land with one of his team of assistants but that I would appreciate any help in the issue (which I then lay out).

Additionally, I remember that: hey, I’m actually published by Amazon – my Impossible Times trilogy is published by 47North (there’s a story or two in there to be told one day!), one of Amazon’s own publishing imprints. So, I also email one of the people involved in the production of those books, and she very kindly agrees to reach out to someone she knows at KDP.

A day later I get an email from the Executive KDP team! This was on October 7th. A phone call from America follows and I get to speak to a human. A charming and helpful American human called Jeremy. He tells me that both my email to Jeff Bezos and to 47North reached his desk and either one would have prompted the call. So, at least you don’t have to be published by Amazon and sell 100,000+ books for them before they’ll listen.

However – we still had another 13 exciting days to go!…

(6) SKEPTICAL RESPONSE. Following a Last Dangerous Visions progress report, J. Michael  Straczysnki fielded criticisms that the writer list (as so far revealed) lacks diverse representation. His explanations prompted further discussion in a thread Karen Osborne kicked off here.

(7) SET DECORATION. Gaiman’s co-author, the late Terry Pratchett, will be acknowledged again in the sequel: “Good Omens season 2: Neil Gaiman’s tribute to Terry Pratchett on set”Metro News has the story.

…Terry’s scarf and hat also appeared in the first season of the show.

Several Good Omens fans shared how much they loved the dedication to Terry on set, with one writing: ‘It warms my heart to see Terry Pratchett still represented. I miss the wit and wisdom of his books.’

(8) GET YOUR KICKS. Publishers Weekly interviews the master of a comics industry financial model: “Crowdfunding a Publishing House: PW Talks with Spike Trotman”.

…Lots of prose and comics publishers have used crowdfunding to bring out new work, but few have been doing it as long or as well as C. Spike Trotman, publisher/CEO of Chicago-based independent comics publisher Iron Circus Comics. Trotman recently wrapped up her 30th Kickstarter campaign, The Woman in the Woods and Other North American Storiesa new volume of comics stories by indigenous creators which raised more than $330,000 (the goal was $20,000) in September, marking more than $2 million raised by Trotman through the platform since 2009. But beyond the quantitative success, Trotman has led the way in using crowdfunding as part of a scalable publishing business model that brings unique projects from diverse creators into the mainstream comics and trade book distribution system.

… “I have one foot in international distribution through old-fashioned methods and one foot in the world of Kickstarter,” she said. “I’m distributed by Consortium Book Sales and Distribution, a division of Ingram that specializes in the quirky small press lines.”

She explained that it is not a prevalent strategy for crowdfunders because book distributors generally expect presses to put out at least 10 books per year. “A lot of crowdfunders can’t manage 10 books for trade bookstores, and I understand because it’s really hard. What got me through the door, in addition to volume, was that I had made the step between exclusively self-distributing through conventions or a website, and a larger company like Ingram. I was already reaching out to comic stores and independent bookstores, emailing them PDFs of my books and my catalog, and giving them special discount codes if they ordered from me direct.”

By the time she approached Ingram, Trotman already had more than 40 retailers placing orders. “We couldn’t fulfill the wholesale orders of 40 or 45 stores and run the business, so it’s good they were able to work with us.”…

(9) END OF THE CYCLE. Hollywood Insider examines  “The Rise and Fall of Young Adult Dystopian Adaptation Franchises”.

The year is 2014, the Oscars release a selfie of the world’s biggest movie stars, Justin Bieber’s mugshot surfaces, Emma Watson speaks at the United Nations for gender equality, ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ popularizes the infinity sign; just about everything seems right in the world. As someone who lived and breathed the culture of 2014, everything in the world of pop-culture just seemed easy.

There is a bitter-sweet existence in knowing that decades have passed since the beginning of ‘Harry Potter’ with eight films from 2001-2011 earning 7.7 billion USD from the box office. Or the next successful franchise, ‘Twilight’ with five films from 2008-2012 earning 3.3 billion USD from the box office. Both YA franchises were the kick-start to a rapid incline of young adult dystopian films centered around political impact, connections, love, and loss. Ultimately the success of pop culture, income, and fan-bases from the ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Twilight’ franchises became the reason as to why studios reached out to the most popular young adult novels in order to try and gain that same impact for more films. So much so that the number of franchises that were successful compared to the ones that failed before their sequel is rather devastating. At the same time, some films give off the apparent reason as to why they failed with lousy acting, even poorer attention to storyline adaptation, timing, and in cases simply didn’t work for audiences.

… With the success of the previous films mentioned, studios began to create anything they thought would be comparable or better than the previous successors. But, with the heavy amount of failures as opposed to the successes, the amount of YA dystopian fiction adaptations diminished into almost nothing. Nowadays, studios are choosing to create YA films targeting important meanings or values such as gay relationships, movements such as Black Lives Matter, or the realism of cyberbullying….

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1967 – Fifty-four years ago on this evening, NBC first aired Star Trek’s “Doomsday Machine” which was scripted by Norman Spinrad. It was the sixth episode of the second season. The principal guest star was William Windom as Commodore Matt Decker. The episode is considered one of the finest of the series with the TV Guide ranking it the fourth best, and SciFiNow recently ranked it the tenth best episode of the original series. The special effects and much of the episode were digitally remastered fifteen years ago. And yes, it was nominated for a Hugo at Baycon, one of five Trek episodes so nominated that Con with the Harlan Ellison scripted  “The City on the Edge of Forever” being the winner. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 20, 1882 Bela Lugosi. He’s best remembered for portraying Count Dracula in the 1931 film franchise Drácula. He came to hate that he played that character feeling he’d been typecast which he certainly had. Now tell me what’s your favorite film character that he played? (Died 1956)
  • Born October 20, 1905 Frederic Dannay. One half with Manfred Bennington Lee of the writing team who created Ellery Queen. ISFDB lists two Ellery Queen novels as being genre, And on the Eight Day and The Scrolls of Lysis, plus a single short story, “ A Study in Terror”. (Died 1982.)
  • Born October 20, 1916 Anton Diffring, A long career with many genre roles which I’ll note but a few of here. He was Fabian in Fahrenheit 451 who the sixty-eighth anniversary of the novel we noted yesterday, Graf Udo Von Felseck of Purbridge Manor in The Masks of Deaths (a rather well-crafted Holmes film) and he played De Flores, a neo-Nazi in “Silver Nemesis”, a most excellent Seventh Doctor story. (Died 1989.)
  • Born October 20, 1923 Erle Korshak. He’s a reminder of how old fandom is. He discovered SF in 1934 with the August Astounding magazine and became a very serious collector in 1937 according to several sources. By 1939 he was a well-known fan and one of the leaders of the Moonstruck Press publishing house which was created to created a bibliography of all fantasy books.  He was part of the leadership triumvirate of Chicon 1, the 1940 Worldcon. He later founded a publishing house whose first major work was Everett F. Bleiler’s The Checklist of Fantastic Literature in the late Forties, a pioneering work of SF bibliography. This was followed by major works by Heinlein, Bester, Fredric Brown and other SF suthors. He was absent from fandom from the late 50s for thirty years, then rejoined fandom and was attending cons with his children.  He was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 1996, and won the Barry R. Levin Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature Lifetime Collectors Award in 2001. (Died 2021.)
  • Born October 20, 1934 Michael Dunn. He’s best remembered  for his recurring role on the Wild Wild West as Dr. Miguelito Loveless attempting to defeat our heroes over and over, but he has had other appearances in genre television. He would be Alexander, a court jester, in the Trek “Plato’s Stepchildren” episode and a killer clown in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’s “The Wax Men” episode. He was even in the Get Smart! pilot as Mr. Big. (Died 1973.)
  • Born October 20, 1937 Emma Tennant. To the manor born and a lifelong supporter of Labour, ISFDB lists nine of her novels as being as SFF. As the Literary Encyclopedia  says “ Her work is feminist, magical and wicked, and uses the fantastic and the Gothic to interpret and explore everyday women’s roles.“ I’ve not read her, so do tell me about her please if you’ve read her! (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 20, 1958 Lynn Flewelling, 63. The lead characters of her Nightrunner series are both bisexual, and she has stated this is so was because of “the near-absence of LGBT characters in the genre and marginalization of existing ones.” (As quoted in Strange Horizon, September 2001) The Tamír Triad series is her companion series to this affair. 
  • Born October 20, 1966 Diana Rowland, 55. New Orleans writer with a fascinating job history that includes cop, a crime scene investigator, and a morgue assistant. She’s best known for her Kara Gillian series and White Trash Zombie series. Her only award is a Phoenix Award, a lifetime achievement award for a science fiction professional who has done a great deal for Southern Fandom, given by DeepSouthCon. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) BLACK PANTHER #200. Marvel’s Black Panther comics will reach its milestone 200th issue in January. To celebrate, Black Panther #3 will be an oversized issue with bonus stories celebrating the past and foreshadowing the future of the Black Panther and the world of Wakanda. (Click on gallery for larger images.)

Writer John Ridley will introduce a new hero who rises up to protect the people of Wakanda while T’Challa finds his life and role as Black Panther thrown into turmoil! Fans will be able to witness the beginning of this new hero’s journey before seeing him become a key player of Ridley’s run in future issues.

In addition, the main story in the 200th issue of BLACK PANTHER will see T’Challa face off against the X-Men! With assassins closing in and Wakanda’s faith in him shaken, T’Challa goes to visit Storm on the newly terraformed Mars. But this will not be a happy reunion as T’Challa has ulterior motives for his visit. And back home, Shuri discovers who is behind the attacks on Wakanda’s secret agents — a revelation that will change everything.

(14) SCHWAB Q&A. “V.E. Schwab’s New Graphic Novel Returns to her Villains Series”, and Publishers Weekly did an interview with her.

Publishers Weekly: The power you gave Charlotte is a truly horrifying one: When she looks at someone’s reflection, she can vividly foresee the moment of their death. How did you come up with that?

V.E. Schwab: It’s the very first power I ever created for the Villains universe. In the first iteration of Vicious, I had as my main character a man who arrives in this city and two warring groups of people try to recruit him, the Heroes and the Villains. They’re essentially gangs. This character had this ability to see deaths in reflective surfaces, and I loved that ability. The story didn’t work. I ended up just stopping for a minute to write the backstories for the gang leaders, and that’s where I got the Victor and Eli story which would go on to be the series. But I always was looking for someone to give this power to. The way that the powers work in this world is that they’re tied to near-death experiences. You can’t just give the power to anyone; you almost have to retroactively figure out the person from the power. So I had to figure out what circumstance puts Charlotte into the situation where she has a near-death experience that leads to this ability. 

(15) AT THE SCREENING. At Black Gate, Matthew David Surridge reviews an interesting-looking animated fantasy film called The Spine of Night:  “Fantasia 2021, Part XXXII: The Spine Of Night”

 …The feature film it was bundled with was the movie I’d been most eagerly looking forward to at Fantasia, and it did not disappoint. The Spine of Night, written and directed by the team of Morgan Galen King and Philip Gelatt, is billed as a feature-length animated sword-and-sorcery film for adults in the vein of the Heavy Metal movie. And it very much is that. It’s more serious than Heavy Metal in many ways, but the violence and cosmic scope is if anything even greater….

(16) SPACE CUISINE CHALLENGE. This is not your father’s space ice cream — or — chow, chow, chow — or — “NASA Announces Winners of Deep Space Food Challenge”. (The chosen teams are listed at the link.)

Variety, nutrition, and taste are some considerations when developing food for astronauts. For NASA’s Deep Space Food Challenge, students, chefs, small businesses, and others whipped up novel food technology designs to bring new solutions to the table.

NASA has selected 18 U.S. teams to receive a total of $450,000 for ideas that could feed astronauts on future missions. Each team will receive $25,000. Additionally, NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) jointly recognized 10 international submissions.

NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website will air a show on the Deep Space Food Challenge at 11 a.m. EST Nov. 9 with details about the competition, winning solutions, and what could be next for the teams.

Special guests during the show will include celebrity chef Martha Stewart and retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who will announce the winners of two awards honoring international teams that demonstrated exceptional innovation. Other participants will include retired CSA astronaut Chris Hadfield and celebrity chef Lynn Crawford…

(17) LIKE THAT WHALE IN OREGON? “The often untold story of cleaning up dead kaiju finally coming to theaters next year” promises SoraNews24. I knew I’ll be holding my breath.

…And coming 4 February, 2022, a truly bold experiment in the genre is set to take place. Daikaiju No Atoshimatsu (lit. “The Great Monster’s Remains“, tentative English title: Kaiju Cleanup) marks the first time veteran film studios Shochiku and Toei have teamed up on a single feature. Perhaps the reason two companies were needed is that this movie boasts the largest monster in Japanese movie history.

However, it’s dead for pretty much the whole film….

That’s because Daikaiju No Atoshimatsu picks up where most tokusatsu films leave off. The evil kaiju collapses in defeat, the hero walks off into the sunset, and credits roll, but also those poor extras who have already been through so much, now have a gigantic rotting corpse to dispose of….

(18) VINTAGE VINELAND. A study published in Nature finds “In tree rings and radioactive carbon, signs of the Vikings in North America” reports NBC News.

… Previous studies have established there was such a cosmic ray event in the year 993 that for a few months caused greater than usual levels of radioactive carbon-14 in the carbon dioxide of the atmosphere.

Trees “breathe” carbon dioxide as they grow, and so the researchers used that radioactive carbon signature to determine which of the annual growth rings seen in cross-sections of the wood was from 993, Kuitems said.

They then used a microscope to count the later growth rings until the bark of the wood, which gave them the exact year the tree had stopped growing — in other words, when it had been felled by the Norse.

To their surprise, each of the three pieces of wood they tested was from a tree cut down in 1021, although they were from three different trees — two firs and probably one juniper….

(19) LOST AND FOUND. Cowboy Bebop’s “The Lost Session” teaser debuts online. The live-action remake arrives at Netflix November 19.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Squid Game Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George, in a spoiler-packed episode, confuses the producer, who thinks the game is in the Shark Tales universe.  But why are the bad guys pretending to be PlayStation buttons?

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

Last Dangerous Visions Progress Report

J. Michael Straczynski has partially pulled back the curtain on the The Last Dangerous Visions contributors’ list, and responded to critics of its gender balance. He has also announced the agents who will be taking not just LDV but all three Dangerous Visions anthologies to publishers as a package. (The Twitter thread starts here.)

Big News: The Last Dangerous Visions is now going to publishers via the Janklow & Nesbit Agency (Emma Parry, NY, domestic; Nathaniel Alcaraz-Stapleton, London, foreign), with Dangerous Visions and Again Dangerous Visions included in the purchase price to create a unified edition.

Contributors to The Last Dangerous Visions include Edward Bryant, Stephen Robinette, Max Brooks, DM Rowles, Dan Simmons, Cecil Castelluci, Cory Doctorow, Stephen Dedman, Patton Oswalt, Jonathan Fast, Howard Fast, Robert Sheckley, Adrian Tchaikovsky and James S.A. Corey.

It is very much the living document Harlan had always intended for it to be, bringing together new and established voices to address the profoundly human issues that can only be addressed through speculative stories that take us over the horizon and back.

The wonder has been seeing firsthand the many ways in which the themes, concerns of all these stories are profoundly relevant and important across the span of their creation. The first two Dangerous Visions books changed the genre; I have hopes this will continue that tradition.

So to any publishers out there who would like to get in on this process, see the names appended at the top of this thread. (Janklow & Nesbit is one of the largest and most prestigious agencies in the world, and their belief in and support of this book has been most rewarding.)

The plan is the three books would be released individually as well as together and at standard book prices.

Some immediate responses focused criticism on the contributors list —

Straczynski replied, “The lion’s share of the writers in TLDV were and had to be the ones Harlan selected, from the 70s-90s, or it’s not his vision anymore, with a very few slots set aside for current writers who wanted to show support for the book.”

He also tweeted specifically about two stories by women that had been held back by the author or her estate, and his efforts to increase representation:

On Facebook, he phrased his response to a similar concern this way:

It should also be remembered that the book had to be in line with the stories Harlan bought from the 70s-90s, or it wouldn’t be his vision or his book anymore. I could play at the edges, but that’s all. And had the Willis and McIntyre stories not been withdrawn, along with a couple of others that fell away in the intervening years, the current version would have a much stronger female presence from those original stories.

Also, Stracyznski had a further exchange on Facebook with someone about a story that did not make the cut.

Harlan had over a hundred stories slated for TLDV, which would never ever be sold in a modern market, and likely could not have been done then either, which was part of the problem. Since I had no direct connection to any of the writers other than to be in awe of their work was to pare down to the best of the best, the stories that were the most relevant and timeless and powerful. No, as I think I conveyed to you previously, James [Sutherland’s] story did not make the cut, but his estate is free to sell it elsewhere, as with any and all of the other stories.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 9/27/21 A Pixel Scroll Title That Turns Out To Have Been Used Before

(1) B5. Variety reports J. Michael Straczynski is working on bringing back his keynote show: “’Babylon 5′ Reboot in Development at The CW From Original Creator”.

… Original series creator J. Michael Straczynski is onboard to write the project. He will also executive producer under his Studio JMS banner. Warner Bros. Television, which produced the original series, will produce the reboot.

The new iteration of the sci-fi series is described as a “from-the-ground-up reboot.” In the series, John Sheridan, an Earthforce officer with a mysterious background, is assigned to Babylon 5, a five-mile-long space station in neutral space, a port of call for travelers, smugglers, corporate explorers and alien diplomats at a time of uneasy peace and the constant threat of war. His arrival triggers a destiny beyond anything he could have imagined, as an exploratory Earth company accidentally triggers a conflict with a civilization a million years ahead of us, putting Sheridan and the rest of the B5 crew in the line of fire as the last, best hope for the survival of the human race.

Which all makes sense of Straczynski’s cryptic tweet of two weeks ago.

(2) LDV NEWS. Today Straczynski also tweeted a brief update about the status of Last Dangerous Visions.

(3) TWO TO TANGO. James Davis Nicoll is there “When Authors Collide: Five SFF Works of Collaborative Fiction” at Tor.com.

The writing of prose is often depicted as a solitary activity, an occupation suited to hermits sealed into poorly lit garrets, sliding their manuscripts out under their front door, receiving flat food under the same door. Now this can be a perfectly functional approach to writing…but it is not the only one…..

(4) READERCON. The Readercon committee announced the next con will be in 2023. Rose Fox will be interim con chair leading their “year of renovation.” Readercon 32 Moved to July 13–16, 2023.

There will be no Readercon in 2022. But don’t panic! We’re not going anywhere! We just need some time to recharge and get our house in order.

The last two years have been a doozy for everyone. We all need some rest. And Readercon as an organization needs an opportunity to revamp back-end processes, update and streamline old systems, and recruit new volunteers to fill key positions. Just as you can’t fix your car’s brakes while you’re driving, we can’t make all those changes at the same time as putting on a convention. So after much behind-the-scenes discussion, we’re officially taking 2022 as a Renovation Year!…

(5) CORFLU. The convention for fanzine fans, Corflu 39 Pangloss, still aspires to run on its March 18-20, 2022 date – and toward that end has published Progress Report #1 with all the info about venue, membership, and who’s on the committee.

We live in parlous times. There is great confusion under heaven, and the conditions are excellent.  Which is to say, thanks to border closures, travel restrictions, economic wobbles, and ongoing pandemic uncertainty, much of what we can tell you about Corflu 39 is aspirational, provisional, or pending better data with the unfolding of future events.  But we step out in hope, and choose to be optimistic that all our Corflu wishes will come true.  Thus, Corflu Pangloss….

(6) CITY PICKS BUTLER BOOK. The city of South Pasadena (CA) has voted its One City One Story book for 2021 – Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. The South Pasadena Public Library will hold an in-person discussion on October 21 and a Zoom discussion on November 10 – register at the links.

One City One Story is the South Pasadena Public Library’s Citywide Reading Program. Community voting took place for a title from September 1-10. The winning book, Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler, was announced on September 27. We encourage South Pasadenans to read it to engage with this year’s theme, “Navigating Nature”. Dive even deeper with community discussions and themed programs.

(7) BANKS TV ADAPTATION PLANNED. Producer Matthew James Wilkinson (Yesterday) is teaming up with Poldark and Endeavour exec producer Tom Mullens on a TV adaptation of The Business by Iain Banks – Deadline has the story: “’Poldark’ & ‘Yesterday’ Producers Team For Iain Banks Adaptation”.

The Business follows Kate Telman, a working-class Glaswegian who has risen through the ranks to become a senior executive in a secretive super-corporation, known only as The Business. Telman discovers that The Business is planning to buy a small country in order to secure a seat on the UN and that, despite the benevolent image and democratic structure it presents to the world, the company will stop at nothing to increase its influence. So begins a dangerous personal reckoning as Telman travels the globe from Scotland to the Swiss Alps, the American Midwest, Pakistan and the Himalayas, determined to uncover the conspiracy at the heart of the shady company she works for.

…Mullens and Wilkinson said: “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to adapt Iain Banks’ wickedly satirical The Business for television. As relevant today as when it was first published, we look forward to honouring Iain’s work with a powerful, entertaining thriller.”

(8) THE EFFECTS THAT WON THE AWARDS. This ILM look at season 2 of The Mandalorian dropped last week: “The Emmy-Winning Special Visual Effects Of The Mandalorian: Season 2”.

Join Visual Effects Supervisor, Richard Bluff, as he shares a peek behind the curtain of the effects of The Mandalorian: Season 2, winner of 7 Emmy® Awards including Special Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, Cinematography, Prosthetic Makeup, Stunt Coordination, Stunt Performance, and Music Composition. For its sophomore outing, Lucasfilm’s hit Disney+ series built upon the groundbreaking technical and artistic achievements accomplished during season one, combining traditional methodologies, with ever-advancing new technologies. The team also increased the physical size of the ILM StageCraft LED Volume which would again be used for over half of all scenes. This season also marked the debut of ILM’s state-of-the-art real-time cinema render engine called, Helios. The high-resolution, high-fidelity engine was used for all final pixel rendering displayed on the LED screens and offers unmatched performance for the types of complex scenes prevalent in today’s episodic and feature film production. Practical creature effects have been a vital part of the aesthetic and charm of the Star Wars universe since 1977, and for season two, the effects team realized over 100 puppeteered creatures, droids, and animatronic masks, which included the beloved Tatooine Bantha, realized as a ten foot-high puppeteered rideable creature. Practical miniatures and motion control photography were used once again for scale model ships, as well as miniature set extensions built for use in ILM’s StageCraft LED volume. Stop motion animation was also utilized for the Scrap Walker at the Karthon Chop Fields. The greater krayt dragon on Tatooine was realized as a six-hundred-foot computer-generated creature that would swim shark-like through the sand environment by way of a liquefaction effect, wherein the sand would behave like water.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1964 – Fifty-seven years ago this evening on CBS, My Living Doll, a SF comedy, first aired. Another production of the Desilu Studios, My Living Doll was rather unusual in that it was purchased by the network without any pilot at the request of CBS’s president, due to the success of Chertok’s previous series, My Favorite Martian. The series starred Bob Cummings as Dr. Bob McDonald, a psychiatrist who is given care of Rhoda Miller, an android who was played by Julie Newmar who would later be Catwoman on Batman. Unlike My Favorite Martian which ran three seasons and over a hundred episodes, it would last a single season of twenty six episodes. It is available on DVD but not on streaming services. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 27, 1927 — Martin Caidin. His best-known novel is Cyborg which was the basis for The Six Million Dollar Man franchise. He wrote two novels in the Indiana Jones franchise and one for the Buck Rogers franchise as well. He wrote myriad other sf novels. The Six Million Dollar Man film was nominated for a Hugo at Discon II which Woody Allen’s Sleeper won, and Marooned was nominated at Heicon ’70 when TV Coverage of Apollo XI was chosen for the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo. (Died 1997.)
  • Born September 27, 1932 — Roger Charles Carmel. The original Harcourt Fenton “Harry” Mudd as he appeared in two episodes of the original Star Trek, “Mudd’s Women” and “I, Mudd” and one episode of the animated series as well, “Mudd’s Passion.” I say original because Discovery has decided that they have a Harry Mudd too. He also had one-offs on I-SpyMunstersThe Man from U.N.C.L.E.Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Batman. It is rumored but cannot be confirmed that he was going to reprise his role as Harry Mudd in a first-season episode of Next Gen but died before filming could start. (Died 1986.)
  • Born September 27, 1934 — Wilford Brimley. His first genre role was as Dr. Blair in John Carpenter’s The Thing. He’s Benjamin ‘Ben’ Luckett in the Cocoon films, and Agency Director Harold Smith in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. He made a rather splendid President Grover Cleveland in The Wild Wild West Revisted. And finally I note that he was Noa in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. (Died 2020.)
  • Born September 27, 1947 — Meat Loaf, 74. He has a rather tasty role as Eddie in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  He also has film roles in Wishcraft (horror), Stage Fright (horror) and Urban Decay (yes more horror). He’s also in BloodRayne which is yes, horror. He’s had one-offs on Tales from the CryptThe Outer LimitsMonstersMasters of Horror and was Doug Rennie, a main cast member of Ghost Wars. I think one of his songs, particularly the video version, “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” qualifies as genre. 
  • Born September 27, 1956 — Sheila Williams, 65. Editor, Asimov’s Science Fiction, the past fifteen years. She won the Hugo Award for Best Short Form Editor at Renovation and Chicon 7. (She’s nominated this year again.) With the late Gardner Dozois, she co-edited a bonnie bunch of anthologies such as Isaac Asimov’s RobotsIsaac Asimov’s Christmas and Isaac Asimov’s Cyberdreams. She was also responsible for the Isaac Asimov Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy writing being renamed the Dell Magazines Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing.
  • Born September 27, 1966 — David Bishop, 55. In Nineties, he edited the UK Judge Dredd Megazine (1991–2002) and 2000 AD (1995–2000). He wrote a number of Dredd, Warhammer and Who novels including the Who novel Who Killed Kennedy which is a popular Third Doctor story.  He’s written Big Finish stories in the DreddSarah Jane and Who lines. Dredd audio drams. Huh.
  • Born September 27, 1970 — Tamara Taylor, 51. Best remembered I’d say as Camille Saroyan in Bones which is at least genre adjacent being connect to Sleepy Hollow. Genre wise, she was in season seven of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as the primary antagonist, Sibyl. She also appeared in Lost, as the former girlfriend of Michael and mother of Walt, Susan Lloyd. And she has a brief appearance in the Serenity film just listed as Teacher.

(11) TONY AWARDS. The American Theater Wing presented its Tony Awards over the weekend. A Christmas Carol won five of them.  “Tony Awards: The Full List Of Winners”.

(12) DUCK! There’s four days left to bid on the original “Duck with a Pearl Earring” by Omar Rayyan, offered by Last Week Tonight with John Oliver with all proceeds going to benefit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Bidding was up to $16,351 last I looked.

This is an original oil on paper painting, commissioned by Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

The painting was entered in the 2021 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest, in which the winning entry is turned into a duck stamp and sold to raise funds for conserving the nation’s wetlands and other wildlife habitats. It is a take on a classic painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring. But there is one significant difference between the two works of art: ours is good, because it is a duck.

Shockingly this masterpiece did not win, but you can still help conserve habitats for birds and other wildlife in our National Wildlife Refuge System by bidding on the painting here.

(13) START AGAIN. “New Limits Give Chinese Video Gamers Whiplash” reports the New York Times.

China’s video game industry is booming. But it sure doesn’t feel that way to Stone Shi, a game designer in China.

Mr. Shi, 27, got his first job in 2018, when Beijing temporarily suspended approval of new games. The next year, the government placed new limits on minors’ playing time. A few weeks ago, the rules got stricter still. People under 18 can now play just three hours a week, during prescribed times on weekends.

“We never hear any good news about the gaming industry,” Mr. Shi said. “We have this joke, ‘Each time this happens, people say it’s doomsday for the video game industry.’ So we say, ‘Every day is doomsday.’”

That’s a bit of an exaggeration. Mr. Shi remains employed and hundreds of millions of Chinese continue to play games each day. Minors still find ways around government blocks. Chinese tech companies, like Tencent, are cornerstones of the global gaming industry. The country has also been quick to embrace competitive gaming, building e-sports stadiums and enabling college students to major in the topic.

(14) MUSH-A-BOOM. Jaya Saxena takes the opening of the Ratatouille ride at Walt Disney World on October 1 as the excuse for a culinary experiment: “Disney Made Me Do It: The Lightning Mushroom From ‘Ratatouille’” at Eater.

…Remy is, of course, an animated talking rat, and this is a movie that presumes, among other things, that a human body is an elaborate marionette operated by hair. I know the lightning cheese mushroom is not realistic. But it looked so enticing, like a crunchy balloon, or like if Eleven Madison Park made a Cheeto. I would very much like to taste an exploded mushroom. So to that end, I nearly set my house on fire.

…There aren’t many recipes for applying lightning to mushrooms, but some people have tried to approximate what this might taste like. My first attempt at distilling the flavor of a storm came from Disney itself, which published a recipe for “Lightning-y Mushrooms” adapted from Fiction-Food Café. Already I saw a problem, though: This recipe calls for fresh, spreadable chevre, which is whipped with herbs and honey and stuffed into mushroom caps. But in the film, Remy is enthralled to find not fresh chevre, but Tomme de Chevre, a semisoft cheese with a grey rind that’s been aged for at least seven weeks. I opted to follow in Remy’s footsteps, and ad-lib where I could.

…I decided I needed to employ some actual electricity. But short of sticking a mushroomed fork in a socket and hoping I didn’t die, I had no idea what to do. So I called Chris Young, co-author of Modernist Cuisine, hoping he had come across something like this in his experiments.

Young explained what I was trying to do is called ohmic cooking, which is actually quite common, especially in the dairy industry. Picture how a power cord plugged into a wall tends to heat up. That’s because it’s a conductor for the electricity, and because a wire is not a perfect conductor, the resistance begins to generate heat. The same thing can happen with food when you essentially make the food the wire…. 

(15) ACRONYMS. Brought to you by Harvard.edu, “Dumb Or Overly Forced Astronomical Acronyms Site (or DOOFAAS)”. This is the kind of thing we’re talking about:

SMIRFSSub Millimeter InfraRed Fiber-feed System (or something)
SMOGSpitzer Mapping of the Outer Galaxy
SMUDGESSystematic Multiwavelength Unbiased catalog of Dwarf Galaxies and Evolution of Structure 

(16) TRAILER TIME. Netflix dropped a trailer for its animated series Arcane.

From the creators of League of Legends comes a new animated series, Arcane. Set in the utopian region of Piltover and the oppressed underground of Zaun, the story follows the origins of two iconic League champions-and the power that will tear them apart.

And while I’m not that wowed by the trailer for Muppets Haunted Mansion people keep sending me the link, so what do I know?

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chris Barkley, Marc Criley, Michael J. Walsh, Daniel Dern, Jerry Kaufman, Bill Burns, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Frequently Answered Questions: The Last Dangerous Visions

The following summary is drawn solely from information J. Michael Straczynski has shared with Facebook readers, or has written in unlocked Patreon posts. Additional information, not included here, is available to subscribers of JMS’ Patreon.

HOW WILL THE BOOK FIND A PUBLISHER?

The plan is to take it out to auction in September, and it’s usually about a year before a book goes through all the steps in proofing, printing and the like, so my guess — and that’s all it is at this point pending the sale — would be late Summer/early Fall 2022. But that’s nothing official. (Facebook)  

WHY DID JMS SET THE BOOK’S WORDCOUNT AT 112K?

There were never a million words, at one point it was 700K, but then about half or more were withdrawn by the authors, so now we’re down to 250-300K, and from that it was essential to find the best of the best in order to make sure that this achieved publication that would draw attention to Harlan’s legacy and the work of those writers. This isn’t a weight competition, it’s not about 50 words, it’s about the best words.

Do you want to see 112K words by some of the best writers in the field finally being published? Or do you not want any of them to be seen in anything resembling a proper publication? Because that’s the choice. Pick one.

And all of the stories not being used in TLDV are released and free to be published elsewhere, so there’s no bottleneck at this end.

…The first DV was published in 1967, the second in ’71, and the Year’s Best anthology you mention was published in 1984, when it was not that difficult to get large anthologies in the SF genre out there. In 2021, the field has contracted, and it’s *very* difficult to go for much more of a word-count than we have here for an anthology, especially since the market for anthos is generally considered very weak. We’ve been quietly discussing this with several publishers and that number is actually slightly beyond the hard ceiling they suggested. That being said: the final manuscript definitely contains the very best of the very best…the book is *solid* and the stories are genuinely remarkable and timeless. (Facebook)

WILL HARLAN ELLISON’S INTRODUCTIONS BE IN THE BOOK?

Anything/everything Harlan wrote for TLDV will be included. (Facebook)  

WILL TIM KIRK’S ARTWORK BE IN THE BOOK?

Previously unseen artwork by the phenomenal Tim Kirk commissioned for the original volume to go with these stories will also be included in this volume. (“On Finishing The Last Dangerous Visions”)

WHICH AUTHORS HAVE NEW STORIES ACQUIRED BY JMS FOR THE BOOK?

Three authors who will have a new story in LDV have been named. The first one is —

As noted, several high-profile writers have stepped up to show support for TLDV by offering to contribute stories. The first was announced Monday exclusively to those on Patreon, and can now be conveyed here: the amazing NEIL GAIMAN!

And the other two —

Also: I’d like to announce another significant contemporary writer who has decided to lend his name to THE LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS by contributing a story: CORY DOCTOROW, who is known as not just an amazing writer but a pioneer in the realm of electronic rights and privacy and a scholar of the internet.

And of the original writers who contributed stories, “Rundown” by the highly regarded SF and fantasy writer John Morressy has been selected to be included in this volume.

WHICH PREVIOUSLY UNPUBLISHED WRITER HAD A STORY ACCEPTED FOR TLDV?

There was a one-day submission window for unpublished writers who wanted to have a story accepted for LDV (Patreon). Only one story would be accepted. JMS has named the author of the chosen story —

  • Kayo Hartenbaum

So though the competition was stiff, the thoughtfulness of the story, the inventiveness of the way in which it was told, and the story’s ability to grab and hold the attention of the reader lifted it out of the ordinary and made it something that definitely belonged in the pages of The Last Dangerous Visions.

[Comments are closed.]

JMS Has More To Say About The Last Dangerous Visions

J. Michael Straczynski has added a long comment to his Facebook announcement in defense of the decisions he’s made in shaping The Last Dangerous Visions, for example, holding it to 112,000 words to make it attractive to a major publisher.  

One thing needs to be pointed out since folks who have never actually seen any of the TLDV stories seem to have very strong opinions about what that book should be, and without seeing what this one is, what it shouldn’t be.

There was no one thing that stands as Harlan’s version of TLDV. It never existed because it was always in a state of flux. It was going to be whatever it was on the day when he finally finished with it. THAT was to be TLDV, not something frozen in amber that only reflected the70s. Which is why he continued buying stories all through the 80s and into the 90s (including from folks like Stephen Dedman) because he saw the book as a living document that would have to grow and change to stay relevant with changing times. It wasn’t supposed to be static until it actually came out…and he was the first to say that some stories would have to be trimmed to make room for ones that were more current.

Further to the point: no publisher in their right mind is going to put out a 700,000 word anthology that follows on books that came out in the 70s. The risk is too great. A reasonable sized book, yes. A behemoth, no. And the whole point of the exercise is to put the work of the best of the original DV writers, and those new voices Harlan wanted to continue to see, out where the mainstream world could see it…not as a limited edition sold to the already-faithful, not as an Ebook or a print-on-demand…but something to be published from a major company that would receive the kind of critical attention in the press that these stories and Harlan’s work deserve.

The only way for that to happen is to follow Harlan’s lead, pare away any stories that are no longer as relevant as they were, or have been supplanted by real-world events, and focus on the very best of the very best…so the book is lean and mean and strong and utterly bulletproof. (And do bear in mind that over half the original inventory was originally pulled and published elsewhere in any event.)

To those out there complaining that every single story should be included…if that were done, the book would never be published and nobody would ever see any of it in any credible form. You can have one or the other but you can’t have both. The modern publishing business doesn’t work that way.

The now-completed Last Dangerous Visions contains the sharpest, most incisive stories by the leading lights of the last 40 years…the stories Harlan believed were the strongest and the best-of-the-best.

So…crazy idea for the internet…how about people wait to see what the book actually *is* and what’s actually *inside* it before deciding what it actually is and what’s actually inside it? And understand that what *you* think the book should be isn’t the point…it’s what Harlan thought the book should be, which was never one particular thing, because it kept changing over the years. This reflects where all of that thinking finally wound up. This is the book that he would have wanted to see out there so that the writers included (all others have had their stories reverted so they can appear anywhere at the discretion of their estates or themselves) can receive the critical attention that those stories deserve.

Last Dangerous Visions News

J. Michael Straczynski told Facebook readers today that The Last Dangerous Visions has been finished.

THE LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS has at last been completed. The final draft went off to the agency that will be handling the sale about fifteen minutes ago. This has been a massive effort…112,000 words…tracking down the estates of the original writers to be included in the book, and nailing down some newer A List writers; fans of Harlan’s who wanted to be a part of TLDV. (And for the record, Harlan continued to buy stories for the anthology right through the 90s, and stopped only due to illness. He saw TLDV as a living document, and fought to keep it relevant when some stories became less timely or were supplanted by real world events.)

I will have more to say about the contents at a later date, but suffice to say that they include some of the most visionary writers in the science fiction genre over the last 48 years.

[Thanks to JJ and Chris Barkley for the story.]

JMS’ announcement last year. It’s now Summer 2021, so really no delay at all, considering the history of the project…

Last Dangerous Visions Submission Window Will Open for One Day

When J. Michael Straczynski, Executor of the Ellison Estate, announced last November his plan to complete Last Dangerous Visions for publication, one thing he promised was —

Plus, one last slot will be opened up for submissions from unknown and unpublished writers, giving “one new voice, one last chance to make it into The Last Dangerous Visions.”

Now Straczynski has now said that on April 30, for one and only one day, the submission window will be open for stories from unpublished writers.

Full guidelines and a mandatory release form are in his open Patreon post The Last Dangerous Visions Submission Info”.

Harlan Ellison was a fierce advocate for new writers. For that reason, one slot in THE LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS has been set aside for a new, unpublished writer. The submission period will last just 24 hours. One day, one voice, one vision, one new writer who will be included in a volume featuring some of the most respected writers in the science fiction genre.

DANGEROUS VISIONS stories are expected to be top-flight, challenging, new, experimental or otherwise daring in scope and vision.  They are nominally SF but there’s some room to play in there.  The most essential part is that they’re not about the space battles, or the McGuffin, they’re ultimately about what it is to be human…about what William Faulkner called “the human heart in conflict with itself.”  They can address issues of controversy, be political in nature, or deal with gender, identity, privacy, technology…a story that appears in Dangerous Visions generally does so because it couldn’t find a home in more conventional anthologies or magazines.  That doesn’t mean having gratuitous sex or violence just for shock value.  Shock doesn’t endure.  Good storytelling endures.

Take us to the horizon and beyond.   

Straczynski’s definition of “unpublished writer” is –

[One] who has not received payment for his or her work, in print or online. If you’ve self-published books that have sold via Amazon or another vendor, that’s publication. If you’ve had stories appear online in non-paying web-magazines, for which you have not received any money, or if you’ve been paid in nonfiction arenas, that counts as being unpublished in fiction.

He also says:

Further to that point, there is no fee for submitting stories. This process is entirely free of cost or obligation. Stories not selected for THE LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS remain the sole property of their original authors. Payment for the selected story is on par with current leading SF magazines at 10 cents per word. All stories appearing in THE LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS are exclusive to that book for only a two-year period, after which all the writers shall have the nonexclusive right to resell their stories elsewhere.

Pixel Scroll 1/27/21 On The AT-Atkitchson, Twinpeaka, And The Scrollta-Fe

(1) WEIMER IS BACK. The sff community rallied around and helped get Paul Weimer’s Twitter account restored after trolls got it shut down. He tells the full background on his Patreon: “The Trolls and the Twitter Ban (PUBLIC)”. Now Paul has a new honorific:

And Paul took a visual victory lap in a thread that starts here.

And yes, He’s everywhere! He’s everywhere!

(2) LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS. Two items of non-Patreon-locked news from Ellison executor J. Michael Straczynski —

Three authors who will have a new story in LDV have been named. The first one is

As noted, several high-profile writers have stepped up to show support for TLDV by offering to contribute stories. The first was announced Monday exclusively to those on Patreon, and can now be conveyed here: the amazing NEIL GAIMAN!

And the other two

Also: I’d like to announce another significant contemporary writer who has decided to lend his name to THE LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS by contributing a story: CORY DOCTOROW, who is known as not just an amazing writer but a pioneer in the realm of electronic rights and privacy and a scholar of the internet.

And of the original writers who contributed stories, “Rundown” by the highly regarded SF and fantasy writer John Morressy has been selected to be included in this volume.

Also, one unpublished writer will have a story accepted for LDV – the submission window will be open for one day on March 31:

…That announcement included word that a slot would be open for one previously unpublished writer, one new voice, to see their story included in the book alongside some of the most well-regarded writers working in the field of SF and Fantasy over the last 50 years.

Because it will take time for those interested to come up with something appropriate to TLDV, I wanted to get the word out now that submissions will be taken for only 24 hours on Wednesday, March 31st, and must be no longer than 3,500 words. The email address for submissions will be provided the day beforehand, along with a release form. All submitted stories remain the property of the writers responsible for them, and the one chosen for inclusion will be exclusive for just a two-year period, as with all the other stories in the planned volume.

Harlan believed passionately in helping to bring new voices into the field, and I share that conviction. I think if you have any success at all, you have a moral obligation to send down the elevator for the next person. With luck, this will bring a new voice into the world.

(3) HISTORICAL DICTIONARY OF SF  MAKES SPLASH. In addition to File 770’s “Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction Goes Live”, a lot of sites are covering the HD/SF today:

The game gets played between writer and reader, for sure, but also among writers, and between all the writers and all the readers. Some words get used again and again, becoming a meta-canonical corpus as allusive as classical haiku. It’s a game so complicated that it’d be nice to know the rules, maybe see the shape of the pieces. That’s where a lexicographical mad scientist named Jesse Sheidlower comes in. His creation, the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction came to life online this week—1,800 entries dating back to the beginning of the 20th century, with not only definitions but the earliest known uses, links to biographical information about the writers, and links to more than 1,600 scans of the original pages where the words appeared. It’s a wormhole into not just one alternate universe but a lexicographic multiverse, where time-traveling canons overlap in unexpected ways with each other and with whatever universe the reader happens to be sitting in. Cool concepts from your favorite movies turn out to precede those movies by decades; science fiction gets things right before science. It’s a trip, and it might just lead to some answers about what science fiction is and what it means. It’ll definitely start—and finish—some arguments.

… Even without Ewoks, the result is generally both amazing and astonishing. In just a few minutes of reconnaissance, for example, I learned that the first person to pilot a jet car was not, as I hoped, Buckaroo Banzai, but in fact a character in Bryce Walton’s 1946 short story “Prisoner of the Brain Mistress.” I figured that Han Solo wasn’t the first person to make the jump to “hyperspace,” but I didn’t expect the concept to first come up in 1928, in Kirk Meadowcroft’s story “The Invisible Bubble” in the germinal pulp Amazing Stories. Nor did I expect big names like E. E. “Doc” Smith, Isaac Asimov, Samuel Delaney, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and David Brin to have also used the idea. And let’s say you wanted to go back in time and kill the person who came up with the idea of the grandfather paradox. You’d have to assassinate Hugo Gernsback, arguably the coinventor of the modern iteration of the genre, before he published his essay “The Question of Time-Traveling” in Science Wonder Stories in 1929.

The fact that so many of these terms have examples of their use from a dozen different writers across decades of history proves that sometimes writers aren’t neologizing so much as digging into the genre lexicon. Well, newish. “You leverage off of other people’s work, but really you’ve activated decades of associations that other people might or might not be bringing,” [Charles] Yu says. “That’s something really rich about science fiction in general. There’s this overlap, or this tangent point. This dictionary is kind of trying to be placed squarely in that region, the overlap.”

There’s no denying the profound influence that the Star Trek franchise has had on our shared popular culture. But it turns out that some of the best-known terms associated with the series—transporter, warp speed, and the famous Prime Directive—actually predate Star Trek: The Original Series by a decade or more. According to Jesse Sheidlower, a lexicographer and editor of the newly launched online Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction (HDSF), the first mention of those terms appeared in 1956, 1952, and 1940, respectively.

The entry for each word or phrase includes a brief definition followed by a timeline of its occurrences in literature, film, and criticism, with quotations. For instance, if you’re a US Senator who wants to crow about how the cancellation of his book contract is “Orwellian,” you might be interested to note that the word appeared in a 1949 edition of the St. Alban’s Daily Messenger: “Almost all the Orwellian techniques of a future totalitarianism are found here.” Or if you want to give your endless Zoom meetings some historical context, you can note that in the 1944 book Television, R.E. Lee predicted your current misery in his writing about the “videophone”: “We shall undoubtedly see videophones replacing telephones in common usage.”

(4) AWARD-WINNING MERMAID AUTHOR. The Mermaid of Black Conch, an SFF novel, won the 2020 Costa Book Award. The Guardian interviewed author Monique Roffey: “’I’m flabbergasted’: Monique Roffey on women, whiteness and winning the Costa”.

After two decades of splashing around in the shallows of success, Monique Roffey was taking no chances with The Mermaid of Black Conch. The novel, which won the Costa book of the year award on Tuesday, is written in a Creole English and uses a patchwork of forms, from poetry to journal entries and an omniscient narrator, and “employs magical realism to the max”. Even its title was against it, she realised. “You’re either going to read a novel about a mermaid or you aren’t.”

Any one of these, she says, would scare away most publishers….

(5) ANNUAL IN MEMORIAM LIST. Steven H Silver’s 2020: In Memoriam article is now on-line at Amazing Stories.

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • January 27, 1980 — The Saga of a Star World started again when Galactica 1980 aired its very first episode on ABC.  The tale picked up years after the events depicted in the original Battlestar Galactica with Commander Adama still in charge as the lead vessel of the Thirteen Colonies finally found way to Earth. It was created by Glen A. Larson, and starred Lorne Greene, Kent McCord, Barry Van Dyke and Richard Lynch. The series would last for ten episodes before it was cancelled due to extremely poor ratings.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 27, 1756 – Wolfgang Mozart.  When I’ve happened to be teaching on this day, I’ve handed out Mozartkugeln.  Please consider you’ve received one virtually.  Had WM, a good candidate for greatest composer ever, written only Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute, it would have been enough for us.  The relations between WM and Salieri in the film Amadeus are (ahem) highly fictionalized.  WM may be the best part of Hesse’s novel Steppenwolf, but – I’d better stop.  (Died 1791) [JH]
  • Born January 27, 1832 – Lewis Carroll.  Another glorious – differently – illumination of this day.  Had LC written only the two Alice books – and I must add The Hunting of the Snark – it would have been enough for us.  What’s that?? Do you suppose it might be a boo-  [JH]
  • Born January 27, 1950 Michaela Roessner, 71. She won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer for Walkabout Woman. Her The Stars Dispose duology is quite excellent. Though not genre, her two historical novels, The Stars Dispose and The Stars Compel, about Catherine de Medici are excellent.  ISFDB lists two additional novels of genre status, Walkabout Women and Vanishing Point. None of her fiction is alas available digitally. (CE)
  • Born January 27, 1956 Mimi Rogers, 65. Her best known known SFF role is Professor Maureen Robinson in the Lost in Space film which I did see in a theatre I just realized. She’s also Mrs. Marie Kensington in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, and she’s Orianna Volkes in the Penny Dreadful hitchhiker horror film. She’s got one-offs in Tales from The CryptThe X-FilesWhere Are You Scooby Doo? and Ash v. Evil Dead. (CE)
  • Born January 27, 1957 Frank Miller, 64. He’s both an artist and writer so I’m not going to untangle which is which here. What’s good by him? Oh I love The Dark Knight Returns, both the original comic series and the animated film, though the same not so true of Sin City where I prefer the original series much more. Hmmm… What else? His runs on Daredevil and Electra of course. That should do. What’s your favorite? Do tell. (CE) 
  • Born January 27, 1966 Tamlyn Tomita, 55. I’m fairly sure I first saw her in a genre role on  the Babylon 5 film The Gathering as Lt. Cmdr. Laurel Takashima. Or it might have been on The Burning Zone as Dr. Kimberly Shiroma. And she had a recurring late on Eureka in Kate Anderson, and Ishi Nakamura on Heroes.  She’s been in a number of SFF series in one-off roles including HighlanderQuantum LeapThe SentinelSeven Days, FreakyLinks, Stargate SG-1 and a recurring as late as Tamiko Watanabe in The Man in The High Castle. (CE) 
  • Born January 27, 1970 Irene Gallo, 51. Creative Director for Tor.com and Tor Books. She’s won an amazing thirteen Chelsey Awards, and two World Fantasy Awards, for art director of Tor.com and for the Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction anthology. She also co-wrote  Revolution: The Art of Jon Foster with Jon Foster and Cathy & Arnie Fenner. (CE) 

(8) WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE GREEN THINGS. Ursula Vernon was briefly tempted by a catalog:

(9) SOMETHING IN THE INK. The Comics Journal reminds fans about “The Strange Case of D. Bruce Berry”, a terrific artist who was once confined to a mental institution, and later in a 38-page rant entitled A Trip To Hell claimed Chicago fan Earl Kemp and science fiction editor and writer Harlan Ellison, wearing masks, had held him up at gunpoint on a Chicago street on Labor Day night, 1958. An extensive history of Berry’s history in SF fandom, with tons of his fanzine and pro artwork.

Bruce Berry is best known as Jack Kirby’s controversial inker, who took over from Mike Royer during Kirby’s ‘70s run at DC. Perhaps Berry suffers in his close proximity to Royer, Kirby’s most faithful and therefore considered by many, his best inker. Conventional wisdom is that Berry worked for decades as an advertising product/mechanical artist before Kirby brought him on board, thus beginning his comics career.

Truth be told, Berry was an often-published pulp and fanzine illustrator, science fiction author and novelist, dating back to the 1940s. He was also a brought to court for threatening others in the science fiction community and had been confined to a mental institution as a result.

…[In] the 1948 Fantasy Annual, published by Forrest J Ackerman, Berry was ranked 3rd in the list of Top Fan Artists.

…Advertising work having dried  up in Chicago, Berry relocated to Southern California in the late 1960s. Richard Kyle helped set him up in an apartment and introduced him to professional cartoonists working in the area, which included Mike Royer. Royer had recently begun inking and lettering Jack Kirby’s “Fourth World” series of comics for DC and soon afterward he employed Berry to ink backgrounds to help keep up with the voluminous flow of work. Berry took over the full inking and lettering chores with Kamandi #17 in 1974 and remained as Kirby’s inker for most of the rest of his DC run. According to Berry, “Mike said to me, “You won’t have any problems. Just follow the lines.” Keep in mind I came out of the advertising business. When an art director tells you the way a thing should be done, it’s the rule of the game. Mike said, “follow the lines,” and that is exactly what I did.” (10) Trying to remain faithful to Kirby’s pencils as Royer had been, Berry approached the inks like a schematic, using mechanical pens and tools, which produced a static even line width (unlike Royer who employed brushes for a robust result.) The end result was that he broke Jack’s pencils into shapes and patterns, an earmark of product illustration, to mixed effect. Oddly, none of these techniques are evidenced in Berry’s own artwork.

(10) NAME OFF. “UC Berkeley removes Kroeber Hall name, noting Native Americans” reports the Los Angeles Times. Alfred Louis Kroeber was Ursula K. Le Guin’s father.

A UC Berkeley campus building will be stripped of its name because of the legacy of its namesake, an anthropologist whose work included the “immoral and unethical” collection of Native American remains, the university announced Tuesday.

Kroeber Hall, named after Alfred Louis Kroeber, will be stripped of its name in a year’s time and will temporarily be called the Anthropology and Art Practice Building.

The university’s Building Name Review Committee announced the decision Tuesday after unanimously voting to remove the name last fall. Last year, the university renamed two other buildings over their namesakes’ controversial legacies of promoting racist rhetoric and colonialist ideas…

(11) BONGING TOGETHER. John Scalzi pointed readers at this video in “I Was Gonna Complain About Something Today, But This Video of an Acapella Group Doing Windows Sounds is Much Nicer”.

(12) THE HORROR. In “Pee -wee Park – The Full Horror Trailer” on YouTube, Pixel Riot asks what would happen if all the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park were replaced with Pee Wee Herman!

[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Cora Buhlert, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 11/14/20 Dangerous Pixels

(1) MORE ABOUT LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS. Ellison estate executor J. Michael Straczynski announced yesterday that Last Dangerous Visions will be submitted to publishers in 2021. Some of the comments here prompted me to ask him will there be author/story introductions written by Harlan Ellison in the book? Straczynski answered, “More information about specific content will come later.”

(2) FUTURE SHARKS. Andrew Liptak contends “Tech CEOs should stop using Science Fiction as a blueprint for humanity’s future in space”.

… Musk isn’t alone in his love of science fiction. Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos has noted that he’s a particular fan of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars and Star Trek. In Rocket Billionaires: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the New Space Race, Tim Fernholz notes that Bezos had long been interested in space exploration, saying in his high school valedictorian speech that we could save humanity “by creating permanent human colonies in orbiting space stations while turning the planet into an enormous nature preserve.” 

… While science fiction makes for fine inspirational material, it needs to be treated with some level of skepticism. Countless writers and artists have imagined what life in space might look like, but the genre they built got its start at a time when rocketry and space travel were in their earliest stages. They took technological leaps beyond our capabilities to imagine interstellar ships, space stations, intelligent robots, and more, which made for fine storytelling material, but which were also several steps away from reality. That was their job: to imagine fantastical, entertaining adventures, rather than write about what they were seeing around them. 

While it’s steeped in a form of realism (depending on how “hard” you want your science fiction), the arts are only a simulacrum for the world around us. Based on what we know now, interstellar empires, travel between star systems, and colonizing other planets are improbable ventures. 

In 2015, author Kim Stanley Robinson sought to tackle the long-standing trope of the Generation Ships — a spaceship designed to take hundreds or thousands of years to reach its destination, the descendants of the original crew carrying on the flag of humanity — with his novel Aurora. The result was a bleak outlook for his crew members: riding a starship that had begun to break down because of unforeseen problems and shortages, and a destination that proved to be habitable, but extremely inhospitable for human habitation. Other authors have drawn on recent scholarship to imagine a more plausible universe in which we might end up. Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time and its sequel Children of Ruin each take the enormous interstellar distances into account and imagine various survivors of humanity’s ambitions as they seek to terraform the universe to better suit them. 

(3) LAT BOOK CLUB FEATURES BUTLER GIVEAWAY. The Los Angeles Times Book Club will host Lynell George, author of A Handful of Dirt, A Handful of Sky: The World of Octavia E. Butler on November 18 to discuss Butler’s work and her enduring legacy. The event will be livestreamed on the Times’ Facebook page, YouTube and Twitter. Sign up at Eventbrite — this event is free. And when you register for this event, you can receive a free copy of one of 10 books written by Butler or another sci-fi great — thanks to a generous donation from the author’s estate.

After working as a telemarketer, potato chip inspector and dishwasher, Butler went on to a groundbreaking writing career, publishing 12 novels and several short-story collections. She earned two Nebula and two Hugo awards and became the first science fiction writer to win a MacArthur “genius” grant….

Butler’s 1993 “Parable of the Sower” envisioned a Los Angeles ravaged by climate change and economic injustice where people are scraping by just to survive. The author died in 2006 but her novel has surged in popularity in recent months. “Parable of the Sower” landedon both the Los Angeles Times and New York Times bestseller lists this fall.

(4) TAKING THE PAIN OUT OF PAINT. North Hollywood’s Iliad Bookshop had its famous murals vandalized and tagged. They’ve started a GoFundMe — Restore The Iliad Bookshop’s Mural – to raise $4,000 and have it redone. See photos of all the authors on the original murals here.

The Iliad Bookshop was founded by Dan Weinstein in 1987, and moved to its current location at the corner of Chandler and Cahuenga Blvds. in North Hollywood in 2006. Besides its vast inventory of used books and its adorable cats, the Iliad has always been known for its beautiful murals. When we moved to our current location, we hired British artist Paul Dilworth to decorate our walls with murals that depicted dozens of famous authors, musicians, mythological characters, and others. Paul has expanded the mural over the years, and we added custom-made giant books as well.

Our mural was more than a source of pride for the Iliad; we believe it was a valuable part of the local community. Travelers from all over the world admired the art; we’ve had visitors, authors, and even newlyweds pose in front of the mural.

If you’d like to see the mural in its entirety, complete with a list of all the authors who appeared on it, please click here .

On October 23, 2020, we arrived to find that much of the Chandler wall had been vandalized by taggers who painted over a number of author portraits, including Shirley Jackson, Philip K. Dick, and Octavia Butler. There is a protective coating on the mural, but when the tag is rendered in thick enamel layers there’s no way to remove it. All you can do is paint over it.

Of course it broke our hearts (as if 2020 wasn’t already hard enough on a small independent bookstore), but more importantly, it left many of our customers and neighbors heartbroken and angry. We painted over the graffiti…

…and were tagged again two days later. Once more we painted over the tag.

It’s now been two weeks and we haven’t been tagged again, so we’re ready to think about fixing the mural. Since the original artist, Paul Dilworth, is on lockdown in the U.K. we can’t hire him, but he has recommended a local artist to restore the mural.

(5) $¢REW REALITY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] When it came time for a wrap party, the cast and crew of Matrix 4 decided to abandon reality — the reality of COVID-19 restrictions, that is.TMZ has the story: “‘Matrix 4’ Cast and Crew Throw Secret Wrap Party in Germany”.

The wrap party went down Wednesday in Babelsberg, Germany on a film studio stage, and they reportedly had a cover story — filming a party scene for the movie — and a code name … “Ice Cream Team Event.”

The party included around 200 guests who took rapid COVID tests, and were handed masks. But, as you can see from the pics and vid … most took off their masks once inside. It’s unclear if any of the big stars — Keanu ReevesJada Pinkett Smith or Priyanka Chopra — attended the party.

…”Matrix 4″ production moved to Germany back in March when the pandemic hit and was temporarily forced to pause production there as the global health crisis worsened. The release date was also pushed back from May 2021 to April 2022.

Germany implemented a 4-week partial nationwide lockdown that went into effect November 2 … with bars, clubs, restaurants and theaters closing. Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, had urged people to stay home to flatten the curve of a recent COVID spike.

(6) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.

Who received Martian Driver License #1?

Ray Bradbury’s Martian driver license

(7) WALKER OBIT. Colorado conrunner John S. Walker died November 8 reports Anime News Network.

The Colorado Anime Fest event revealed on Wednesday that staff member of the Nan Desu Kan (NDK) convention and former president of Denver Anime International John S. Walker passed away on November 8. He was 45.

Colorado Anime Fest also noted that Walker was a frequent panelist of the event, and that he also worked for the Starfest Convention, MileHiCon, and Denver Pop Culture Con. Colorado Anime Fest added, “His legacy will live on through all of Colorado’s conventions and the countless people he helped. But we will greatly miss him.”

(8) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 1980 — Forty years ago, the British Fantasy Society gave the August Derleth Fantasy Award for Best Novel to Tanith Lee’s Death’s Master. It’s the second of her Tales of the Flat Earth series which led off with Night’s Master. It was published the previous year as Daws Books’ Daw Collectors #324. Cover art by by David Schleinkofer, interior art is by Jack Gaughan.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 14, 1907 Astrid Lindgren. Creator of the Pippi Longstocking series and, at least in the States, lesser known Emil i LönnebergaKarlsson-on-the-Roof, and the Six Bullerby Children series as well. In January 2017, she was calculated to be the world’s 18th most translated author, and the fourth most translated children’s writer after Enid Blyton, H. C. Andersen and the Brothers Grimm.  There have been at least forty video adaptations of her works over the decades mostly in Swedish but Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter was an animated series in Japan recently. The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, world’s largest award for children’s and young adult literature, is named for her. (Died 2002.) (CE) 
  • Born November 14, 1932 – Alex Ebel.  Thirty covers, forty interiors for us; other illustration including World Book.  Known for The Left Hand of Darkness.  Did The Dispossessed too.  Here is the Winter 54 Fantastic Story.  Here is an interior from the Mar 53 Fantasy (Sheckley, “The Demons”).  Here is When the Star Kings Die.  (Died 2013) [JH]
  • Born November 14, 1949 – Carol Matas, 71.  A dozen novels for us, half again as many with Perry Nodelman.  Outside our field a dozen more, and another half dozen contributions to Dear Canada and I Am Canada.  Bilson Award, Sydney Taylor Award, Silver Birch.  [JH]
  • Born November 14, 1951 – Moshe Feder, 69.  Fan and pro.  Co-created the FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Awards.  Co-author of The Mimeo Man.  Chaired Corflu 7 (corflu = mimeo correction fluid; fanziners’ con), Guest of Honor at Corflu 19 (there’s something I’m not telling you about Corflu Guests of Honor); also Ozymandias 2, Minicon 45, Loscon 46.  Skylark Award.  Consulting editor at Tor.  Likes Komodo Dragons, railroads, Coca-Cola, and New York.  [JH]
  • Born November 14, 1951 Beth Meacham, 69. In 1984, she became an editor for Tor Books, where she rose to the position of editor-in-chief. After her 1989 move to the west coast, she continued working for Tor as an executive editor which she just retired from.  She does have one novel, co-written with Tappan King, entitled Nightshade Book One: Terror, Inc. and a handful of short fiction. (CE)
  • Born November 14, 1959 Paul McGann, 61. Yes, he only did one film as the eighth incarnation of the Doctor in the 1996 Doctor Who television film, but that role he has reprised in more than eighty audio dramas and the 2013 short film entitled “The Night of the Doctor”. Other genre appearances include The Pit and the Pendulum: A Study in TortureAlien 3, the excellent FairyTale: A True StoryQueen of the Damned and Lesbian Vampire Killers. (CE)
  • Born November 14, 1959 – Wolf von Witting, 61.  Born in Finland, lives in Italy, has published fanzines in English, German, and Swedish, currently CounterClock (European SF Award for Best Fanzine), about which Teddy Harva asks: Appeltofft Award.  [JH]
  • Born November 14, 1963 – Gail Anderson-Dagatz, 57.  Her first novel The Cure for Death by Lightning unfolds partly through narrative and partly through a collection of recipes and household tips belonging to the narrator’s mother; a Canadian best-seller; Ethel Wilson Prize, Betty Trask Award.  One more for us; three others and a collection of shorter stories.  [JH]
  • Born November 14, 1963 Cat Rambo, 57. All-around great person. Really. Recently finished up a term as SWFA President.  She was editor of Fantasy Magazine for four years which earned her a 2012 World Fantasy Special Award: Non-Professional nomination. Her story “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain”, was a Nebula Award finalist.  Her first novel, Beasts of Tabat, is the beginning of what I suspect will be an impressive fantasy quartet. Hearts Of Tabat came this year.  She also writes amazing short fiction as well.  The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers is her long-standing school for writers that provides her excellent assistance in learning proper writing skills both live and on demand as well. You can get details  here. (CE) 
  • Born November 14, 1969 Daniel Abraham, 51. Co-author with Ty Franck of The Expanse series which I really must get back get to having only read the first four volumes. Under the pseudonym M. L. N. Hanover, he is the author of the Black Sun’s Daughter urban fantasy series.  He collaborated with George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois to write the Hunter’s Run. A frequent collaborator of Martin, Abraham adapted several of Martin’s works into comic books and graphic novels, such as A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel, and has contributed to several Wild Cards anthologies . (CE) 
  • Born November 14, 1976 Christopher Demetral, 44. He also played the title character on the oh so excellent The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne series which still isn’t on DVD or streaming services, damn it. He shows up in the “Future Imperfect” episode of Next Gen, and had the recurring role of Jack on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. (CE) 
  • Born November 14, 1995 – Elizabeth Anne McKinney, 25.  Two novels for us so far.  A Texan (born in Dripping Springs) studying in Virginia who dreams of living in Scotland.  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • We might call this Bliss a Star Wars business idea.
  • The Onion marks the passing of “Sir Sean.”

(11) FLORIDA MAN. SYFY Wire interviews him: “A Year After A Heartbreaking Theft, Florida Man Says Goodbye To $2m Batman Collection”.

It took losing his collection of Batman comics to make one collector realize, it was time to say goodbye.

Randy Lawrence has spent the better part of his 60 years putting together a legendary collection of high-grade, ultra-rare Batman comics. The CGC-certified “Alfred Pennyworth” collection is known in collecting circles as being the gold standard for Batman comic book collections. “This collection is so beautiful and it’s such a cool high grade,” Lawrence says. “It’s the number one Batman collection on the [CGC] registry.”

The 1,000+ issues are going up for auction in two separate events by Heritage Auctions, the first one of which will take place on Nov. 19-22…. 

The collection includes gems such as Batman #2, a book that’s sought-after in any condition. But Lawrence’s is a CGC-graded 9.0, an absurdly high-grade copy of a Golden Age book….

Of course, a lot of people learned about the existence of Lawrence’s astonishing collection when it made headlines in January of 2019. Thieves broke into the storage facility in Boca Raton, Florida, where he had kept his collection and stolen nearly 500 of his valuable comics. Being a very careful and organized collector, Lawrence recalls that it was one box that was slightly out of place that made him think something was wrong. “I had only gone there to put some stuff away and inventory some new books that I had gotten. And I didn’t remember touching that box,” he says. “So I pulled the top off the first CGC box and it was empty. And then I ripped off the next one and it was empty and so on. And I remember I let out like, it was a primal scream, like a wounded animal. It was like my whole life had just disappeared.”

…It would take more than a year, but he would recover every single comic that was stolen from the storage facility, except one (and Lawrence says it wasn’t a key book). But after the ordeal, and the fight to get them all back, it made him realize that perhaps it was time to move on from comics. And then, a deal he thought he had to fill one hole in his collection, a high-grade copy of Batman #26, fell through in such a way that soured him on the current state of high-grade collecting. “I said, you know what, between the stress that I went through to get my comics back and now what happened trying to get that Batman issue, I said, ‘it’s time.'”

(12) ON ANY GIVEN SUNDAY. “SpaceX, NASA delay Crew-1 astronaut launch to Sunday due to rocket recovery weather” reports Space.com.

SpaceX’s first four-astronaut launch for NASA is going to have to wait at least an extra day to get off the ground. 

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule were slated to launch the astronauts to the International Space Station on Saturday (Nov. 14) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. That mission, called Crew-1, will now launch no earlier than Sunday at 7:27 p.m. EST (0027 Nov. 16 GMT) due to weather delays from Tropical Storm Eta that affected SpaceX’s drone ship rocket recovery operations. The launch itself had a promising 70% chance of good weather.

“Fundamentally, this was an issue of getting the drone ship there in time,” Benji Reed, SpaceX’s senior director for human spaceflight programs, told reporters in a Friday press conference. “The weather was such because of this tropical storm, that we couldn’t get the drone ship to leave in time and get there.”

(13) BITES OF HISTORY. The Washington Post tells how “London’s mudlarks find castoff history along the Thames”.

… Beneath our feet are what at first appear to be just tide-washed sand and stone. Maiklem reaches down and picks up a piece of red clay with a thick lip. It’s a bit of Roman roof.

“They were the first to mass-produce this,” she says, following the invasion of A.D. 43, led by Roman Emperor Claudius, whose legions founded the city Londinium along the shores of the Thames.

There’s so much roofing material that the mudlarks rarely keep a piece, but what Maiklem covets are fragments of tile with a story. She’s found pieces with the impression of a child’s fingers, with cat paw prints, left by those long gone who strayed across the drying clay.

Across the river is the Tate Modern museum and London City Hall and the replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. On our side are the ruins of Walbrook Wharf, where a trash barge nests on a pebbly beach.

To Maiklem’s practiced eyes, the foreshore is a midden, filled with Elizabethan pennies from Shakespeare’s day, beads used in Africa as part of the slave trade, and scores of clay pipes. While the pipe bowls are rare, the stems are plentiful, ranging in date from 1580 through the early 1900s. Once Maiklem points out what to look for — short lengths of bone-white stem — I see them all over.

“I love the ones where you can see someone’s teeth marks,” she says….

(14) MAGIC MOUNTAIN’S COVID-PROOF CHRISTMAS. In Santa Clarita, CA —“Six Flags Magic Mountain To Host Drive-Thru Holiday In The Park” beginning at 6 p.m. on select evenings from November 20 to January 3.

…Magic Mountain is set to have guests experience eight distinctly different areas throughout the park with millions of twinkling lights choreographed to festive music, characters “decked out” for the holidays, iconic Holiday in the Park decorations, and a drive-by featuring Santa and his elves.

As one of the largest holiday drive-through events in Southern California and the only one inside a theme park, the Holiday in the Park Drive-Thru Experience will include eight immersive,  distinctly different areas throughout the 125-acre theme park which will be filled with an exquisite palette of colorful twinkling lights, choreographed to festive music….

  • Rockin’ Universe in DC Universe features “dancing” lights customized to  contemporary holiday music favorites in one of the largest light displays of its kind in  Southern California; 
  • Merry Lane, located in Metropolis includes magnificent, larger-than-life 30-foot  brilliantly lit ornaments with thousands of twinkling lights synchronized to holiday music; 
  • The Underground, a newly added section of the park this year, will feature several  rarely-seen show cars from world-famous West Coast Customs’ vast collection, in a  unique setting decked out for the season (car enthusiasts—get your cameras ready!);  
  • Winter Wonderland is the site of beautifully adorned pine trees with red and white lights at Katy’s Kettle, continuing with fanciful “ice” sculptures and tree-filled white lights  simulating winter-like conditions along the hilly path toward Viper; 
  • Holiday Square is a kaleidoscope of breath-taking color, featuring falling “snow” and  hundreds of thousands of lights on trees and buildings throughout the main gate area;  
  • Snowy Nights will delight guests with its high energy vibe and contemporary tunes  while marveling at the magnificent silver and blue décor of the area;  
  • North Pole Plaza located in front of Golden Bear Theatre, is where Mrs. Claus and her  merry, mischievous, and bumbling elves will entertain guests from afar; and 
  • Gleampunk District is the largest area of the event and is a journey back in time to the sights and sounds of the 19th century’s industrial revolution, featuring thousands of lights illuminating the tree-lined streets and the steampunk-inspired mechanical sculptures amid the light-blanketed planters. Santa will bid guests a joyous holiday farewell from the safety of his magnificent over-sized sleigh at the conclusion of the Holiday in the Park  Drive-Thru Experience.

(15) WELCOME TO KAIJULAND.  “New Japanese theme park attraction lets guests zipline into Godzilla’s mouth” – and CNN has photos.

In what could be viewed as a fitting metaphor for 2020, a new theme park ride in Japan lets guests zipline into the gaping mouth of a massive Godzilla statue.

Part of a new attraction called Godzilla Interception Operation Awaji, it officially opened in October at Nijigen no Mori, a theme park located on Awaji Island, southwest of Kobe and Osaka.

The star of the new attraction is the “life-size” Godzilla, which measures 20 meters (65 feet) high, 25 meters (82 feet) wide and 55 meters (180 feet) long and sits in the heart of the park.

Here’s a video taking you through the whole experience:

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