Pixel Scroll 5/9/24 When Pixel Filed, And Scroll Span, Who Then Melted Jack Dann?

(1) PARDON MY WTF. “Apple Apologizes for iPad Pro Ad After Criticism”The Hollywood Reporter explains why they need to. (Though they can’t be too sorry because the kerfuffle has helped the ad draw 53 million views.)

Apple is apologizing for an iPad Pro ad that was widely criticized when it debuted earlier this week.

The dystopian spot, titled “Crush,” shows several instruments, including a guitar and piano, being crushed by a hydraulic press. Also among the items being smashed flat are balls that look like emojis and an Angry Birds statue….

Apple CEO Tim Cook posted the spot on X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday (it also was posted on YouTube). His post and the YouTube video are still up, but the spot won’t run on TV, according to Ad Age.

“Meet the new iPad Pro: the thinnest product we’ve ever created, the most advanced display we’ve ever produced, with the incredible power of the M4 chip. Just imagine all the things it’ll be used to create,” Cook wrote….

[One of the many negative comments was,] “Crushing symbols of human creativity and cultural achievements to appeal to pro creators, nice. Maybe for the next Apple Watch Pro you should crush sports equipment, show a robot running faster than a man, then turn to the camera and say, ‘God is dead and we have killed him.’”

(2) KGB. Ellen Datlow has posted photos from Wednesday night’s Fantastic Fiction at KGB session where John Wiswell and Anya Johanna DeNiro read from their recent novels.

(3) CHOOSING CONVENTIONS. The new episode of Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing podcast is “Conquering Conventions; Crafting Confidence”. (There’s also an excellent transcript available – yay!)

In this episode, she shares her experiences and insights on convention attendance, from choosing the right ones to the art of mingling without the cringe. Plus, she tackles the ever-present concern of COVID safety in crowded spaces.

Whether you’re a cosplayer or a casual attendee, Mur advises on how to present yourself professionally, connect with industry pros, and enjoy the con experience while staying true to your comfort level. And for those not ready to dive back into the physical con scene, she discusses the merits of virtual conventions and how they can be a great alternative.

(4) LEVAR READS RAY. LeVar Burton Reads “The Toynbee Convector” © 1983 by Ray Bradbury in his latest podcast.

The world’s only time traveler finally reveals his secrets.

(5) ‘THE HUNT FOR GOLLUM’. “New ‘Lord of the Rings’ Movie Coming in 2026, Andy Serkis Directing”Variety has the story.

Warner Bros. will release the first of its new batch of live-action “The Lord of the Rings” films in 2026, which will focus on Andy Serkis’ Gollum.

Original “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy filmmaker Peter Jackson and his partners Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens are producing the movie and “will be involved every step of the way,” Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said during an earnings call Thursday.

The project is currently in the early stages of script development from writers Walsh and Boyens, along with Phoebe Gittins and Arty Papageorgiou, and will “explore storylines yet to be told,” Zaslav said.

In a press release from Warner Bros. later Thursday morning, the studio revealed that the working title for the film is “Lord of the Rings: The Hunt for Gollum,” and it will be directed by and star Serkis in his iconic titular role….

…A separate, animated Middle-earth movie, “The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim,” is due on Dec. 13 via Warner Bros. and director Kenji Kamiyama. That movie is set 200 years before the events of “The Hobbit.”…

(6) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 109 of the Octothorpe podcast, “But Also a Worrying One”, John Coxon is middle, Alison Scott is even sadder, and Liz Batty is sorry.

We have a bumper mailbag in Octothorpe 109, and we continue our discussion about accessibility in Eastercon before segueing into a discussion of money and privilege with respect to conventions. We also mention the latest news out of Chengdu. Massive thanks to Ulrika O’Brien for the gorgeous cover art this week!

The background is a starry, lightning-filled square in blues, purples, and yellows. Atop that, there is a spaceship, somewhat like a rocket, with engines coming out of the sides. There are yellow lights shining from it, and a ladder reaches up to a central archway. John, Alison and Liz are depicted as silhouettes, regarding it with wonder. Their shadows stretch off the canvas, and they look faintly alien or futuristic in a hard-to-define manner.

(7) SERLING’S TRUNK STORY. “A short story by The Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling is published for the first time” reports NPR.

…Not long after he returned from the war in 1946, Serling attended Antioch College on the G.I. bill. There, in his early 20s, he penned “First Squad, First Platoon,” a short story which is being published for the first time Thursday in The Strand. It was one of his earliest stories, starting a writing career that Serling once said helped him get the war “out of his gut.”

“It was like an exercise for him to deal with the demons of war and fear,” said his daughter, Jodi Serling. “And he sort of turned it into fiction, although there was a lot of truth to it.”

The story is set on Leyte Island in “heavy jungle foliage” and a “hostile rain that caked mud on weapons, uniforms, equipment.” Each of the five chapters in the 11,000-word story is about a different soldier and how they died….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born May 9, 1936 Albert Finney. (Died 2019.) I’m very, very fond of British performers and among them is Albert Finney. So let’s look at the career of this most talent actor.

His first genre performance is as Ebenezer Scrooge in Scrooge. Scrooge is my favorite Albert Finney film and it is benefitted immensely by the many extraordinary strong performances by actors like him. To give a good sense of him in that role, I feel obligated to show him in his full Victorian regalia. 

That’s followed by being Dewey Wilson in Wolfen, a deeply disturbing film. Wolfen to me is the perfect werewolf film as it is a police procedural firmly within the horror genre. His character here Detective Dewey Wilson along with Diane Venora as Detective Rebecca Neff unraveled the grisly murders that turn-out to be based in First Folk reality. 

He plays Edward Bloom, Sr. Big Fish in the wonderful Big Fish. He’s central character here.  He is a story-teller but his only son, Will, doesn’t enjoy them because he believes they are simply not true. Of course, they are, but they’re just exaggerated. Or are they being so? 

He voices Finis Everglot in Corpse Bride. Now I’d love to tell how he was in that role but I’ll confess and say that I’ve not see that film as I am not a big fan of Tim Burton’s animated work at all. 

He was Kincade in Skyfall. He’s the gamekeeper of Skyfall Lodge and the ancestral Bond family estate in Scotland. He’s got a major role in that film.

He was Maurice Allington in The Green Man based on Kingsley Amis’ novel of the same name. He’s the somewhat inebriated owner and landlord of The Green Man, an inn that he says is haunted by ghosts.  He tells tales of these to scare guests as it amuses, or trying to seduce them to no avail as he’s not at all handsome. But it may be that The Green Man is truly haunted and those ghosts are happy with him…  it’s a great role for him and he play it quite well.

Lastly, I’ll wrap up with Murder on the Orient Express, the 1974 version. I have that poster, an original, not a reproduction, framed and hanging here as I truly love this film. Christie, who lived just long enough to see the film get released and be a box office success, said that Murder on the Orient Express and Witness for the Prosecution were the only movie versions of her books that she liked although she expressed disappointment with Poirot’s moustache as depicted here was far from the creation she had detailed in her mysteries.

She’s misremembering her detailing of that moustache which I confirmed checking the many such novels I have on hand in Apple Books. Most novels have no detailed description at all, and this in The Mysterious Affair at Styles  being typical: “Poirot seized his hat, gave a ferocious twist to his moustache, and, carefully brushing an imaginary speck of dust from his sleeve, motioned me to precede him down the stairs; there we joined the detectives and set out for Styles.”

Finney made a most excellent Poirot though many later critics compared him to David Souchet who they consider the definitive version of the character. I always wondered what Dame Christie would have thought of Souchet.  

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Free Range might not be teaching what the student wants to learn.
  • Carpe Diem has an unexpected Egyptian traffic sign.
  • Heathcliff’s latest in a week-long series of guest appearances comes from Star Wars.
  • Nathan W. Pyle emphathizes with creators.

(10) GLIMPSE THE NEXT CHAPTER OF NEIL GAIMAN AND MARK BUCKINGHAM’S GROUNDBREAKING MIRACLEMAN SAGA. Miracleman By Gaiman & Buckingham: The Silver Age #1-7 is now available as a complete collection. Catch a glimpse of the action in the new trailer, featuring artwork from all seven issues.

In THE SILVER AGE, Miracleman has created a utopia on Earth where gods walk among men and men have become gods. But when his long-dead friend Young Miracleman is resurrected, Miracleman finds that not everyone is ready for his brave new world! The story that ensues fractures the Miracleman Family and sends Young Miracleman on a stirring quest to understand this world — and himself. It’s a touching exploration of the hero’s journey that ranges from the top of the Himalayas to the realm of the towering Black Warpsmiths — and into the secret past of the Miracleman Family!

 (11) X-MEN ONE-DAY SPECIAL ON LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] LearnedLeague just had a One-Day Special quiz about the X-Men. It focused more on the comic books than the various adaptations, which suited me just fine. I’m currently scored at 11/12, but I’ve submitted an appeal on the one answer where I was marked wrong. We’ll see if that goes through.

You can find the questions behind this link, although nearly all of them have pictures that people who aren’t LL members won’t be able to see. None of the pictures are absolutely necessary, but at least a couple of them have valuable clues.

(12) VIDEO GAME ANIMATION INSIGHTS. “’Harold Halibut’ brings with handmade charm and stop motion inspirations” on NPR’s “Here and Now”.

“Harold Halibut” is a new sci-fi video game set in an underwater space colony. But it’s got a novel look; all of the characters and sets in the game were made by hand, then 3D scanned and animated digitally….

(13) BRAINS DON’T GROW ON TREES. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] 1 cu. mm of brain tissue. 5000 slices. 23 cm of blood vessels. 57,000 cells. 150,000,000 neural connections. Lots of surprises. The Guardian reports “Scientists find 57,000 cells and 150m neural connections in tiny sample of human brain”.

… “The aim was to get a high resolution view of this most mysterious piece of biology that each of us carries around on our shoulders,” said Jeff Lichtman, a professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard. “The reason we haven’t done it before is that it is damn challenging. It really was enormously hard to do this.”

Having sliced the tissue into wafers less than 1,000 times thinner than the width of a human hair, the researchers took electron microscope images of each to capture details of brain structure down to the nanoscale, or thousandths of a millimetre. A machine-learning algorithm then traced the paths of neurons and other cells through the individual sections, a painstaking process that would have taken humans years. The images comprised 1.4 petabytes of data, equivalent to 14,000 full length, 4k resolution movies.

“We found many things in this dataset that are not in the textbooks,” said Lichtman. “We don’t understand those things, but I can tell you they suggest there’s a chasm between what we already know and what we need to know.”

In one baffling observation, so-called pyramidal neurons, which have large branches called dendrites protruding from their bases, displayed a curious symmetry, with some facing forwards and others backwards. Other images revealed tight whorls of axons, the thin fibres that carry signals from one brain cell to another, as if they had become stuck on a roundabout before identifying the right exit and proceeding on their way…

(14) INSULIN PUMP ISSUE. “FDA Warns on Insulin Pump Problem” at MedPage Today. “This has been a plot point in several movies and tv shows lately,” says Chris Barkley.

A mobile app used with an insulin pump that led to 224 injuries was recalled by Tandem Diabetes Care, the FDA announced today.

The recall is for the 2.7 version of the Apple iOS t:connect mobile app, used in conjunction with t:slim X2 insulin pump with Control-IQ technology, the agency said.

The FDA identified the action as a Class I recall, the most serious type. The recall is a correction, not a product removal, and was prompted by a software glitch that may cause the pump battery to drain sooner than expected. Users are being urged to update the app to the latest software….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Adam Savage tells “How Star Wars: Ahsoka’s Jedi Shuttle Filming Model Was Made!”

During the production of Star Wars: Ahsoka, Adam Savage visited the miniatures filming stage set up at Lucasfilm to watch the practical model of Ahsoka’s T-6 Jedi Shuttle being filmed. Modelmaker John Goodson and machinist Dan Patrascu spent four months building the 30-inch model of that T-6 ship for the show–an incredible hero ship model not only equipped with lights, but was fully mechanized with a rotating wing!

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Lise Andreasen, David Goldfarb, Steven French, Teddy Harvia, Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 4/24/24 The City With Two Dates Twice

(1) NAOMI KRITZER Q&A. Hear from Naomi Kritzer in this 2024 Minnesota Book Awards roundup: “Meet the Finalists: GENRE FICTION”.

Minnesota Book Award finalist Andrew DeYoung (2023) moderated a discussion between all four 2024 finalists in contention for the Minnesota Book Award for Genre Fiction: C.M. Alongi, author of Citadel (Blackstone Publishing); Tashia Hart, author of Native Love Jams  (self-published); Naomi Kritzer, author of Liberty’s Daughter (Fairwood Press); Emma Törzs, author of Ink Blood Sister Scribe (William Morrow/HarperCollins Publishers).  The Minnesota Book Awards are sponsored by Education Minnesota; Macalester College is the 2024 category sponsor for the Genre Fiction category.

(2) MURDERBOT’S VOICE. AudioFile Magazine has been “Talking with Author Martha Wells” about the audio versions of her series.

…This relatability is part of what has made The Murderbot Diaries so beloved. Golden Voice Kevin R. Free, who has narrated all of the unabridged audiobooks in the series, says that fans regularly reach out to him to tell him that they’ve listened over and over again. “When people say, ‘It’s comforting to me when I listen to this,’ I just feel so happy that I’m bringing people comfort.” Free stresses that he’s also a fan of the books, and he’s quick to give full credit to Wells….

(3) APPLY FOR SLF OLDER WRITERS GRANT. The Speculative Literature Foundation will accept applications for the 2024 Older Writers Grant from May1 through May 31. The complete guidelines are here.

Since 2004, the $1,000 Older Writers Grant has been awarded annually to writers who are at least fifty years of age at the time of application to assist such writers who are just starting to work at a professional level. These funds may be used as each writer determines will best assist their work. This grant, as with all SLF grants, is intended to help writers working with speculative literature.

Grant applications are open to all: you do not need to be a member of SLF to apply for or receive a grant. Launched in January 2004 to promote literary quality in speculative fiction, the Speculative Literature Foundation addresses historical inequities in access to literary opportunities for marginalized writers. Our staff and board are committed to representing racial, gender, and class diversity at all levels of our organization. This commitment is at the heart of what the Speculative Literature Foundation stands for: equal access to create and advance science fiction, fantasy, and horror literature. We strive to enable writers at any stage of their career and of any age, any ethnicity, any gender expression, from any location and of any economic or social status, who want to learn about, or create within, the speculative arts. The SLF is a 501(c)3 non-profit.

(4) NEW VOLUME IN THE TAFF LIBRARY. Sue Mason’s Into the Wide Purple Yonder: A Fan Artist in America, a report of her westbound TAFF trip to the USA and the 2000 Chicago Worldcon (Chicon 2000), was published in 2023 by Alison Scott, illustrated with many photographs and artwork by Sue herself. David Langford says it now has been “Added to the TAFF site with the kind permission of Sue and Alison on 24 April 2024.” Cover artwork by Sue Mason.

(5) DOES THIS WARNING SOUND FAMILIAR? Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders devote their latest Our Opinions Are Correct podcast to “Fascism and Book Bans (with Maggie Tokuda-Hall)”.

Science fiction has been warning us about fascism for decades — so why haven’t we listened? How did Nazis become just another monster in our stories, like werewolves or cyborgs? Plus we talk about the new wave of book censorship with Maggie Tokuda-Hall, co-founder of the new organization Authors Against Book Bans.

(6) POWER PACKED. CBR.com lists the “13 Most Powerful Artifacts In The Marvel Universe (That Most Fans Forgot Exist)”. We’ll begin by reminding you about —

#13 — Casket Of Ancient Winters

First Appearance: Thor (Vol. 1) #346, by writer/penciler Walt Simonson, inker Terry Austin, colorist Christie Scheele, and letterer John Workman Jr.

Created by the frost giants, this ancient weapon has limitless power stored within it. The Casket of Ancient Winters can unleash a devastating icy wind that can consume entire worlds. It often gets forgotten because it has been stored in Odin‘s treasure room safely for years.

The Casket of Ancient Winters briefly appeared in the MCU. Loki used it to help the frost giants take over Asgard. His plan was unsuccessful, and the artifact remained locked in Odin’s vault, but it is an endlessly powerful tool that has been seemingly forgotten by Marvel fans.

(7) SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY JOURNAL APPRECIATION OF DEB GEISLER. “In memory of Deborah Geisler: a life of impact” – read the complete article in The Suffolk Journal.

…Geisler was known for her snark and humor, from her cherished pocket constitution to her in-class commentary. In her beloved 1980s Mazda GLC, Geisler was a vibrant presence on campus, one that worked to push her students just as much as she worked to foster their passion for journalism.

Edwards, who had a class with Geisler in the spring of 2020 at the start of the coronavirus in 2020, said her spirit was pivotal to maintaining community and morale throughout Zoom classes.

“Through the transition to virtual learning, Deb made it so all about the students. She put her students before herself, she again always found time to make us laugh. She was very, very flexible. She really was just great,” said Edwards.

Geisler was heavily involved in the Suffolk and Boston communities. At Suffolk, she was the adviser to The Suffolk Voice. Her passion for all things science fiction led her to chair Noreascon 4, the 2004 World Science Fiction Convention, along with her involvement in conventions through the years….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born April 24, 1930 Richard Donner. (Died 2021.) Tonight we have Richard Donner who has entered the Twilight Zone, errr, the Birthday spotlight. As a genre producer, he’s responsible for some of our most recognizable productions.

His first such works was on The Twilight Zone (hence my joke above in case you didn’t get it) as he produced six episodes there including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”. He’d go on to work in The Sixties on The Man from U.N.C.L.E.Get Smart!, and The Wild Wild West. He closed out this period by producing Danger Island (which I’ve never heard of) where, and I quote IMDB, “Archaeologists are being pursued by pirates around an island in the South Pacific. On this island, various adventures await them.” It’s at least genre adjacent, isn’t it?

Richard Donner in 1979. Photo by Alan Light.

So forty-eight years ago and then two years later, he directs not one but two now considered classic films in two very different genres. First out was The Omen with an impressive cast far too long to list here that got mixed reviews but had an audience that loved and which birthed (that’s deliberate) a franchise and garnered two Oscar’s nominations.

Next out was, oh guess, go ahead guess, Superman. Yes, it would win a much-deserved Hugo at Seacon ’79. DC being DC the film had a very, very difficult time coming to be and that was true of who directed the film with several sources noting that Donner may have been much as the fourth or fifth choice to do so. Or more.

So what did he do post-Superman? Well something happened during the production of Superman II and he was replaced as director by Richard Lester during principal photography was Lester receiving sole directorial credit.  That being most likely tensions, and that was the polite word, which he had with all of the producers concerning the escalating production budget and production schedule. Mind you both films were being shot simultaneously. 

If you’re so inclined, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut was released oddly enough when the film came out so I’m assume he had the legal right to do so which I find damn odd. 

He did go on to direct The Goonies. Now I really don’t think it’s genre, but I will say that the treasure map and the premise of treasure make it a strong candidate for genre adjacent, wouldn’t you say? Truly a great film! 

He went on to direct one of my favorite Bill Murray films, Scrooged. The Suck Fairy says she still likes that film and will agree to watch it every Christmas as long as there’s lots of hot chocolate to drink

His last work was a genre one, Timeline, about a group of archaeologists who travel back to fourteenth century France, based on a Michael Crichton thriller.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) SUN-RELATED SFF ON LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] There was a One-Day Special quiz about the Sun recently. Most of it isn’t relevant to our interests, but there were two questions involving SFF:

4.  In the Marvel Universe, Brazilian mutant Roberto da Costa draws powers from the Sun that include super strength, flight, and the ability to generate blasts of energy. What superhero name does da Costa use as a member of both the X-Men and the New Mutants?

Only 17% of players knew this was “Sunspot”.

7.  The 1953 science fiction story “The Golden Apples of the Sun” follows a spaceship tasked with approaching the Sun and trying to literally capture a sample of its material within a giant metal cup operated by a robot hand. The title of the story was taken from a line in the 1899 poem “The Song of Wandering Aengus.” Name either the author of the sci-fi story (who is American) or the writer of the namesake poem (who is Irish).

45% of players got this one. The poet was William Butler Yeats; I won’t insult Filers by giving the name of the SF author.

If anyone is curious about the whole quiz they can find it by following this link.

(11) WINNING WITH BREATHABLE AIR. NPR explains how “New Catan board game introduces climate change to gameplay”.

In the original version of the popular board game Settlers of Catan, players start on an undeveloped island and are encouraged to “fulfill your manifest destiny.” To win you have to collect resources and develop, claiming land by building settlements, cities, and roads.

A new version of the board game, Catan: New Energies, introduces a 21st-century twist — pollution. Expand responsibly or lose. In the new version, modern Catan needs energy. To get that energy players have to build power plants, and those plants can run on renewable energy or fossil fuels. Power plants operated on fossil fuels allow you to build faster but also create more pollution. Too much pollution causes catastrophes….

(12) SANCTIONS IGNORED. “New Isekai Anime Series Believed to Have Been Outsourced to North Korea”CBR.com tells what raised people’s suspicions.

…This week, 38North published an article revealing that a North Korean animation studio was believed to have worked on the upcoming anime Dahlia in Bloom. This is despite sanctions currently being observed forbidding businesses from working with state-owned North Korean companies. An analysis of leaked files shows that the North Korean studio was likely April 26 Animation Studio, also known as SEK Studio. 38North adds that the studio is North Korea’s leading animation studio, producing many series for domestic TV.

Analysis of the files has also revealed that instructions in Chinese were provided to the North Korean studio, with 38North adding that a Chinese company likely acted as an intermediary between the North Korean studio, Dahlia in Bloom‘s animation studio and others. Other animated series the studio is believed to have worked on are HBO’s Iyanu, Child of Wonder and Invincible Season 3. Files have also been identified that may suggest a relationship with the Japanese animation studio Ekachi Epilka (Demon Lord, Retry!).

Despite its many risks, outsourcing in the Japanese anime industry is often done due to significantly lower labor costs.…

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Phil Foglio recommended a video – “The Process: Inking Old-School”.

[Thanks to Steven French, Teddy Harvia, Kathy Sullivan, Michael J. Walsh, David Goldfarb, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH.]

Pixel Scroll 4/22/24 Pixel Walked Through A Wall Where She Encountered More Pixels

(1) CLARKE AWARD SUBMISSION LIST. The complete list of eligible books received by Arthur C. Clarke Award judges has been posted in “Carbon-Based Bipeds: Apr 22nd. This year the judges received 117 eligible titles from 50 UK publishing imprints and independent authors. 

(2) PEN AMERICA MAKES LITERARY AWARDS DECISIONS. “PEN America Cancels 2024 Literary Awards Ceremony” reports Publishers Weekly.

PEN America has canceled its 2024 Literary Awards ceremony, which was previously scheduled to be held at the Town Hall in New York City on April 29, although some awards will still be conferred. The move follows months of steadily mounting criticism of the organization over its response to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which culminated last week in 28 authors withdrawing books from consideration for the awards, including nine of the 10 authors nominated for the organization’s top prize, the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award.

“We greatly respect that writers have followed their consciences, whether they chose to remain as nominees in their respective categories or not,” PEN America literary programming chief officer Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf said in a statement. “We regret that this unprecedented situation has taken away the spotlight from the extraordinary work selected by esteemed, insightful and hard-working judges across all categories. As an organization dedicated to freedom of expression and writers, our commitment to recognizing and honoring outstanding authors and the literary community is steadfast.”

The $75,000 prize accompanying the PEN/Stein award will be donated, this year, to the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund at the direction of the Literary Estate of Jean Stein….

The five finalists and winning titles for each of the more than 20 awards conferred by PEN America had already been selected by judges during deliberations held before the mass withdrawals, the organization said in a statement. As a result, the organization continued, the two winners who remained under consideration for their awards will receive their cash prizes. Those include Countries of Origin by Javier Fuentes (Pantheon), which was chosen to win the $10,000 PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel, and The Blue House: Collected Works of Tomas Tranströmer by the late Tomas Tranströmer, translated from the Swedish by Patty Crane (Copper Canyon Press), which was chosen to win the $3,000 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation.

No winners will be announced if the winning title was withdrawn from consideration for the award,…

(3) CLARION WORKSHOP 2024. The Clarion Workshop at UCSD has announced the Clarion class of 2024:

The Clarion Workshop at UCSD  also plans to bring back the Write-A-Thon this year.

Last summer we saw enormous success in our Indiegogo fundraising campaign, but we also missed joining in writerly solidarity with the larger Clarion community. That’s why we’re returning to our roots–but we’re also hoping to shake things up a little (more news on this soon!)

As always, this year’s Thon will run concurrently with the workshop (June 23 to Aug 3) to help Clarion raise scholarship money to support future students. The Write-a-Thon also helps participants commit to writing goals for the summer. 

We’ll include more details for how to participate and contribute in our next newsletter. In the meantime, it’s time to start thinking about your writing goals for the summer. We can’t wait to hear more about them!

(4) THE X-MAN AND THE WHY-MAN. Deadline shares “’Deadpool and Wolverine’ Trailer”. Deadpool & Wolverine is set to arrive in theaters on July 26. Ryan Reynolds is Deadpool, and Hugh Jackman reprises his role of Wolverine in the Marvel film.

(5) READERS TAKE DENVER, AUTHORS GIVE IT BACK. [Item by Anne Marble.] On Threads, there are a lot of upset posts about Readers Take Denver — an event for authors and readers. If you see “RTD” trending, that’s why. This weekend, it was one of the top trending items on Threads. On Twitter, the Readers Take Denver posts were mostly positive — until later on Sunday. (On Twitter, if you search for RTD, you get mainly posts about Russell T Davies of Dr. Who, so I had a hard time finding information at first.) Here are some newer Twitter posts taking on the event:

On Threads, there are so many posts that “RTD” got its own tag on Threads: tag on Threads (registration required).  

Here is a good starting place on Threads (registration not required): @charlottedaeauthor: “After scouring Threads for information regarding Readers Take Denver, here’s what I’m gathering”.

This Thread also has details: @storiesdontcare “Readers Take Denver is an absolute logistical atrocity. $300 for a ticket”.

How influencers were treated: @authorncaceres “Influencers received different treatment. 1st they were told not to film anywhere. Then they were…”.

There were also accessibility issues: @rinkrat702 “Readers take Denver. Accessibility: me when I signed up. ‘I’d love to be on the ADA team’”.

It’s mostly a romance event, but it included romantasy authors — including big names such as Rebecca Yarros (“Fourth Wing”). There was also a day for thriller authors, including Jason Pinter and Mark Greaney. It sounds as if the organizers got way in over their heads. They had something like 3,000 attendees. And a huge list of authors (“Attending Authors / Narrators – Readers Take Denver”). Many think they aimed too high and ended up with a logistical nightmare.

There are allegations that the registration line took 3 hours — Also, signing lines took a very long time as well — too many authors in a small space without enough time allotted for the event. Authors are alleging that items were stolen from them (such as boxes of books). I’ve read about at least one case where an author’s books were accidentally given away as “swag.”

Also, the organizers apparently ran out of lanyards (!) and swag bags. And they didn’t have enough bottled water for the authors. Many readers enjoyed the event and had no issues, but other readers felt that they were ripped off.

It sounds like they needed better security, too. Later on Sunday, sexual assault allegations emerged. Several men attending another event entered RTD (despite having no badges) and groped women at RTD.

(6) SOFANAUTS LAUNCHES. Tony Smith hosts a new podcast — Sofanauts. He says the podcast mixes science fiction and technology. Two episodes are already available.

…Each week I’ll be joined by futurist, educator, speaker and writer Bryan Alexander (Thursdays) to talk about science fiction and technology. We’ll be discussing our favourite books, movies, and TV shows, as well as the latest technological developments that are shaping the future from the the very books, films and TV shows we’ve watched and read over the years….

(7) RAY GARTON (1962-2024). [Item by Anne Marble.] Horror author Ray Garton passed away on April 21. The announcement came from Dawn Garton on his Facebook page:

On April 9, 2024, he had posted on Facebook that he was in the hospital with stage 4 lung cancer.

Garton was named a World Horror Convention Grand Master in 2006.

Among others, Stephen King posted about his death:

A GoFundMe was started earlier in April by a family friend. “Ray Garton~Beloved Master of Horror”.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born April 22, 1937 Jack Nicholson, 87. My all-time must watch again performance by Jack Nicholson is that of him playing Daryl Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick. I’ve refused to watch any of the later versions of The Witches of Eastwick simply because I can’t picture anyone else being that character.   

Bill Murray had been cast in the role had dropped out before even preliminary filming began. Jack Nicholson expressed interest in playing the role of Daryl to the producers through his then-girlfriend Anjelica Huston who was then being seriously considered for a role there. (Apparently the role Susan Sarandon got according to several sites.) So thus we got The Devil in the form of him. Brilliant role.

Jack Nicholson, center, Murray Close, right.

Now his first role in the genre was in The Little Shop of Horrors, the true one of course, not the latter one, as Wilbur Force, The Dentist.  Because Corman did not believe that The Little Shop of Horrors had any chance of making money at all after its first run, he did not bother to copyright it, resulting in the film entering public domain immediately, so I can show you this scene with him in that role.

His next film, another Roger Corman affair, The Raven, was better known forc who he was performing with than for him being in it, those performers being Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and Boris Karloff. He played Lorre’s son, Rexford Bedlo. Poe’s “The Raven” poem was very, very faintly the basis of this film. Think a drop of blood in a gallon of water.

He’s Andre Duvalier in The Terror. Here he’s a French officer who is seduced by a woman who is also a shapeshifting devil. 

Now we come to what critics consider his best performance of all time, that of Jack Torrance in The Shining based off King’s novel which was produced and directed by Kubrick who co-wrote it with Diane Johnson. Look I can’t judge his role there as I do not do horror of that sort, so it’s up to the collective wisdom here to tell me how he was there. Go ahead, tell me. 

Now I did see Batman. Several times. And yes, I like it a lot. And yes, I thought he made a most excellent Joker. And one of the best Jack Napiers as well, a role that is even harder to get right. (The animated B:TAS series did so by showing him smartly dressed and grinning evilly but not speaking after committing a cold blooded murder. They’d refer to him several times over the series and in The Mark of The Phantasm film which I highly recommend.) So it was a very good role for him.

In Wolf, he was Will Randall. A middle-aged chief editor who hits a wolf with his car who is actually a werewolf who bites him. A Very Bad Idea Indeed. He chews a lot of scenery here. A lot. And he can, as we saw in Batman, chew scenery really, really well. Actually he did so in The Witches of Eastwick brilliantly as well. 

Finally there’s Tim Burton’s LoneStarCon 2 Hugo-nominated Mars Attacks! where he plays two roles, President James Dale and Art Land. I’ll be damn if I remember the latter role now nearly thirty years on after seeing it. One moment… Oh I see, he was the Galaxy Casino owner. No, that still didn’t help. The President James Dale character was fascinating if only as for being a much less in your face role than some of his other genre roles such as those of The ShiningBatman, and Wolf

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) TEDDY HARVIA CARTOON. Another of Teddy’s Belphegor cartoons. “I must have sold my soul to the Devil to come up with such funny stuff.”

(11) X MARKS A LOT OF SPOTS. Check out the first half of Scott Koblish’s connecting cover that run across four upcoming X-Men titles: X-Men #35 (Legacy #700), X-Men #1, Uncanny X-Men #1, and Exceptional X-Men #1. (Click for larger image – though still might not see a lot of detail.)

It’s a great time to be an X-Men fan! In addition to their animated resurgence in Marvel Studios’ X-Men ’97, the X-Men’s comic book line is closing out its’ revolutionary Krakoan age of storytelling AND gearing up for the exciting all-new From the Ashes era this summer! To celebrate this iconic franchise’s recent milestone, acclaimed artist Scott Koblish has crafted an insanely epic connecting cover that will grace some of the most highly-anticipated upcoming X-Men comic releases…. 

Showcasing the entirety of the X-Men’s 60-year publication history, including core X-Men series as well as spinoffs and limited series, this breathtaking group shot spotlights A-List X-Men, obscure mutants, super villains, allies, super hero guest stars, and much more. Test your knowledge of the mutant mythos by finding your favorites and identifying as many characters as you can!  For more information, visit Marvel.com.

(12) ASTEROIDS QUIZ. Brick Barrientos’ “Asteroids One-Day Special” went live on April 15. He says “Rich Horton was among my playtesters.” Here is the link to the quiz: https://www.learnedleague.com/oneday.php?5701.

The first question has audio which can only be heard by Learned League members – but you can eavesdrop on the copy hosted at Brick’s Google Drive:

1.  What astronomer and composer of this piece first suggested the term “asteroid”, just after the discovery of Pallas, the next body discovered after Ceres? Although at that time, the term was intended to apply also to the moons; objects with a star-like point appearance. 

(13) NOW, VOYAGER. [Item by PJ Evans.] In far-out news, Voyager 1 seems to be communicating again: “NASA’s Voyager 1 Resumes Sending Engineering Updates to Earth”.

…For the first time since November, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft is returning usable data about the health and status of its onboard engineering systems. The next step is to enable the spacecraft to begin returning science data again. The probe and its twin, Voyager 2, are the only spacecraft to ever fly in interstellar space (the space between stars)….

…The team discovered that a single chip responsible for storing a portion of the FDS memory — including some of the FDS computer’s software code — isn’t working. The loss of that code rendered the science and engineering data unusable. Unable to repair the chip, the team decided to place the affected code elsewhere in the FDS memory. But no single location is large enough to hold the section of code in its entirety.

So they devised a plan to divide the affected code into sections and store those sections in different places in the FDS. To make this plan work, they also needed to adjust those code sections to ensure, for example, that they all still function as a whole….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. It’s a tight one. “Most awkward moments in superhero filming”.

Great power comes with… a painful costumes. Today, it’s about the unavoidable pain of being a superhero.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, JJ, Anne Marble, Kathy Sullivan, Brick Barrientos, Teddy Harvia, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 3/5/24 But The Pixels We Climbed Were Just Shoggoths Out Of Time

(1) COMING IN FOR A LANDING. Los Angeles Magazine tells why “George Lucas’ Billion Dollar Museum Is About Way More Than ‘Star Wars’”. A year ago this design looked unique. But today? I bet you can guess what building it reminds me of now.

We’re still maybe a year out from the grand opening of the new museum created by film director George Lucas and his wife, executive Melody Hobson. But anyone visiting the Coliseum, Natural History Museum, USC, or riding the Expo Line has seen the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art rising above Exposition Park. The absolutely massive structure by Beijing-based architect Ma Yansong encloses some 300,000 square feet over a building ranging from three and five floors set atop an underground parking garage (with 600 more spaces than the surface lot the building replaced) all nestled in a green garden….

Artist’s rendering of Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

(2) A SHORE THING. A trailer has dropped for The Wild Robot. Arrives in theaters on September 20.

The epic adventure follows the journey of a robot—ROZZUM unit 7134, “Roz” for short — that is shipwrecked on an uninhabited island and must learn to adapt to the harsh surroundings, gradually building relationships with the animals on the island and becoming the adoptive parent of an orphaned gosling.

(3) LEARNEDLEAGUE SFF QUESTION. [Item by David Goldfarb.] It’s the hundredth season of LearnedLeague. The first question of match day 15 asked us:

“What name is the last word uttered in the final installment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy from 2019, as well as the last word of the film’s title?”

Way to nerf the question with that last clause, eh? Although even with that, the question had a 67% get rate, with 12% giving the most common wrong answer of “Jedi”. (Presumably thinking of the second movie in the trilogy.)

My opponent quite rightly assigned me 0 points for this one, as did I for him.

(4) HANDS (OR LEGS) UP FOR “YES”? NO? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Is the giant spider in Netflix’s Spaceman real or just a figment of the title character’s imagination? The main creatives each have an answer but it may not be your answer. Beware — spoilers ahead.

There’s an obvious question at the heart of Spaceman, Netflix’s science fiction movie where Adam Sandler’s forlorn astronaut character spends half the story talking to a tennis ball communing with a giant alien spider that he names Hanuš. But even without watching the movie, viewers may wonder: Is Hanuš actually real?

Normally, when a movie revolves around this kind of question, the director and stars hedge when asked for their opinions. For instance, No One Will Save You writer-director Brian Duffield has been clear that he wants viewers to interpret that film’s startling ending in whatever way they think fits best, without his input. Andrew Haigh has been careful about weighing in on the controversial ending of All of Us Strangers. And that’s entirely reasonable — often filmmakers want to keep viewers guessing, thinking, debating, and interpreting.

But not always. Polygon couldn’t resist asking Spaceman director Johan Renck and stars Adam Sandler and Paul Dano what they think about the movie’s central debate point — and we were surprised at how definitive their answers were. We’ll get into the details after a spoiler break….

(5) MPSE GOLDEN REEL AWARDS. The Motion Picture Sound Editors presented their Golden Reel Awards on March 3. Here are the winners of genre interest:

EFFECTS & FOLEY

  • Oppenheimer

DIALOGUE & ADR

  • Oppenheimer

ANIMATION

  • Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

(6) IN THE YEAR 2024. “Plane commutes, world peace and 100-year-old predictions about 2024” at USA Today.

Well, we’re finally here. Is this the future that you envisioned?

Nearly 100 years ago, a group of visionaries dared to imagine what life would be like in 2024. Some of their prophecies fell woefully short while others proved to be strangely accurate. 

Join us now as we gaze into that crystal ball from 1924….

A growing problem

Arthur Dean, whose parental advice column appeared in newspapers across the country, expressed concerns about American dietary habits.

“I sometimes wonder what our stomachs will look like and be like 100 years from now,” he wrote. “Will we have any teeth at all? Will there be any color on our face except paint? Will the men have any height to speak of or will they be all girth? Will people have mostly an east and west appearance – all latitude and lassitude and no longitude?”

(7) SFWA ESTATES LEGACY PROGRAM. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association has informed members that Mishell Baker is stepping down from her lead position on the Estates Project but will remain available for consultation. Going forward, the remaining Estates Project volunteers will cover her duties as needed.

Mishell is a winner of the Kevin J. O’Donnell Service to SFWA Award, and she served as the primary contact for SFWA’s Estate Project since 2016. She liaised with publishers interested in reprinting works by science fiction and fantasy authors who are no longer with us and acted as an intermediary for individual heirs who wished to keep their contact information confidential. Mishell gained a well-deserved reputation for handling these communications with consistency and sensitivity, providing help in sometimes difficult and confusing situations.  

The Estates-Legacy Project wishes to thank Mishell for her many years of exceptional service on behalf of writers, their heirs, and the readers now enjoying the work of past masters as a result of her efforts.

(8) RICHARD BOWES (1944-2023). In “Richard Bowes—A Remembrance” at Uncanny Magazine, Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas, Christopher Barzak, Matthew Cheney, Sam J. Miller, and Matthew Kressel share their memories and feelings about Bowes, who died December 24. Here is an excerpt fro Kressel’s segment:

I’m fairly certain I met Rick Bowes at a Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading on November 15, 2006. That night, Lucius Shepard and Catherynne Valente were reading. This may seem awfully specific, but I have proof. Ellen Datlow captured this moment in a photo that resides on her Flickr stream. For a Halloween party I’d bleached my hair and dressed up as Roy Batty from Blade Runner. In the photo, Rick leans in, hands pressed like a sage, telling me something with authority, while I, with my Billy-Idol-blonde hair, listen rapt. (In the background, Rajan Khanna, whom in this moment I have yet to befriend, stares at the camera.) And this is how I will remember Rick. Telling stories. His depth of knowledge always astounded me. Right away, I knew I was in the presence of a sharp mind….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 5, 1951 Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden, 73. Let’s talk about Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden who writes under the pen names of Megan Lindholm and Robin Hobb. Thirty-six years ago at the age of thirty, as Megan Lindholm, her second novel, a fantasy set in Seattle was published. That was the extraordinarily excellent Wizard of the Pigeons, a novel that bring a smile to the face of even the Suck Fairy. 

In a sense, it is a direct evolution from her fiction as children’s writer which published in magazines as Jack and JillHighlights for Children and Humpty Dumpty as she notes. Her Robin Hobb persona, she claims is a little more gentle than her Meghan Lindholm persona which, as she told a Bookseller interviewer, is “a little more snarky, a little more sarcastic, a little less optimistic, less emotional”.

So let’s stay with her writing under the Lindholm name. Her first writing as that persona was short fiction was in 1979, “Bones for Dulath”, followed in 1980 by “The Small One” and in 1981 by “Faunsdown Cottage”. She’s written (and coauthored) twenty-six stories exclusively as Lindholm. That includes five works in Emma Bull and Will Shetterly’s Laivek franchise, some co-written with Stephen Brust or Gregory Frost. 

Lindholm’s first novel, Harpy’s Flight, was published forty-one years as ago, and was the first in her Windsingers series about the characters Ki and Vandien, and, yes, I like these novels a lot. 

Now remember these Birthdays are, if I choose, are what I’ve read by a given writer and this is what I’m doing here as I’ve read enough her to be reasonably knowledgeable about her.

The final novel by her that I’ve read is the one she did with Stephen Brust, The Gypsy. It’s based on Romany folklore, and it’s more or less a mystery. It got its own soundtrack courtesy of Boiled in Lead, vocals by Adam Stemple, son of Jane Yolen. Superbly crafted work. 

So now her other persona, Robin Hobb, and may I now say that I like both of the creators that she choose to be? Really I do.

Her first work as Hobb was the Farseer trilogy, narrated in first person, my favorite way to experience this sort of fiction, involves  FitzChivalry Farseer, illegitimate son of a prince. Great character, ever better series.  The first volume of the trilogy, Assassin’s Apprentice, sets up them well.

Ok, I’ll admit I’ve read much of the Realm of the Elderlings franchise, though by no means all, that talking about it coherently isn’t possible. What I will say is nothing by her is anything by really, really good.  I will say, despite Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden saying Hobb is the gentler of the two, that trigger warnings for brutality and even rape are necessary here. Really they are.

Both personas in the end aren’t, despite her claims, really that different. The only novel that is decidedly different I can say as a reader is The Gypsy but that was co-written with Brust as were the four Laivek works. Co-written works are such that one never knows how much that the one has influenced it and how much the other has.

(10) A NEW MEANING FOR WC. “What Is WcDonald’s, McDonald’s Anime Counterpart?” at Food Network. One of these comics was on my bag today!

… This month, McDonald’s is embracing what has become a common … homage, shall we say, to its golden arches in anime films and series: WcDonald’s.Swapping in a “W” — or, rather, an upside-down “M” — has become a cheeky way for animators and illustrators to let their characters dine at or otherwise interact with what the audience can immediately identify as a McDonald’s without licensing the actual name of (or getting sued by) McDonald’s itself. Starting next week, however, McDonald’s is embracing its cartoon counterpart at its real-life restaurants in the U.S. and beyond…. A New McNugget Sauce: To pair with “WcNuggets,” a new, limited-edition Savory Chili WcDonald’s Sauce is coming to the menu, described as a “unique combination of ginger, garlic and soy with a slight heat from chili flakes.” Manga-Inspired Packaging: Japanese illustrator Acky Bright designed original artwork of WcDonald’s crew members for the McDonald’s/WcDonald’s items. Packaging will also feature a QR code with access to digital WcDonald’s manga content weekly featuring Bright’s cast of WcDonald’s characters (yes, one is a mecha).

The promotional website WcDonald’s has a lot of content. Here are some of the newest characters.

(11) LAST DARKNESS FALL — PERMANENTLY. “Solar eclipse glasses: Why you need them, and why you should buy them right now” – advice from Slate. “The eclipse is happening on April 8—and last time, the glasses sold out many places.”

Few natural phenomena bring sci-fi-esque buzz like a solar eclipse. Some people talk about this astronomical event as if it comes straight out of a Ray Bradbury story. And those people are right! Solar eclipses are, without hyperbole, awesome. And just in case you haven’t heard, there’s one happening on April 8.

Of course, a cardinal rule of day-to-day life still applies to eclipses: You must absolutely not look at the sun directly—even if it’s partially obscured by the moon. It can cause permanent retinal damage.

Photoreceptors in the eyes register and convert light to electrical signals detected in your brain. The powerfully incandescent sun overwhelms those photoreceptors, bombarding them with far more light than they can convert. Any light your photoreceptors don’t absorb filters through to the back of your eye, producing heat. Although the moon partially blots out the sun, that doesn’t make the rays that are visible any less potent. Look at a partial eclipse long enough and you can burn the sun into your retinas, which can result in a permanent hole in your vision called a scotoma. Since your retinas lack pain receptors, you won’t know that the damage has been done until it’s too late. Looking through conventional binoculars or telescopes doesn’t mitigate this risk….

(12) ROLL THE CREDITS. “Superman movie to film in Ohio, hire more than 3,000 locals” at NBC4i. The state will reward this decision with a big tax credit.

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman! A new movie on the comic book hero is filming in Ohio this year and has been awarded about $11 million in tax credits, with plans to hire more than 3,000 locals.

The DC Studios movie titled simply “Superman” is filming in Cincinnati and Cleveland this spring and summer and will receive $11,091,686 in tax credits, according to an Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit application filed under the project’s code name, “Genesis.” The film is expected to hire 3,254 Ohio residents to take part in the production.

DC’s Ohio-related expenses are projected to exceed $36 million, which makes up about 10% of the movie’s total budget of more than $363 million….

(13) TECH BROS. “’Musk needs to be adored … Zuckerberg is out of his depth’: Kara Swisher on the toxic giants of Big Tech” in the Guardian.

…In the book, Swisher says Zuckerberg is “the most damaging man in tech”. Elon Musk, by contrast, is maligned as the “most disappointing”, which reflects Swisher’s long period of thinking of the founder of Tesla and SpaceX as one of the tech industry’s most promising sons. In 2016, she contacted him ahead of the big meeting with Trump, warning that the president-elect would “screw” him; two years later, Musk told her she had been right. All told, she seemed to believe that he operated on a higher level than most of his peers.

“Here’s someone who actually was doing serious things,” she says. “There’s a lot of people in Silicon Valley who are always doing a dry cleaning app. He was thinking of everything from cars to space to solar. Even the silly stuff like [his imagined high-speed transport system] Hyperloop: what a great idea. What an interesting idea.” She also mentions Neuralink, the venture working on computer interfaces that can be implanted in people’s brains. “How could we upgrade our intelligence? That’s a big, fascinating problem.”…

(14) SFWA INSTAGRAM PROGRAM. The SFWA Instagram Program gives users a peek at members’ daily creative lives, pets, and works. In the past year and a half, SFWA has processed nearly 200 requests and created over 600 graphics that have been shared through its Instagram account. Here’s an example:

(15) A FINE IDEA. This month (only) “A Massachusetts Library System Will Let You Pay Fines With Cat Pictures” according to Mental Floss.

It’s not often that cat photos are accepted as currency. But for the month of March, public libraries in Worcester, Massachusetts, will wipe certain fines from your account if you submit any picture of a cat.

Branches in the Worcester Public Library (WPL) system don’t charge fees for overdue books, but they do charge for lost or damaged ones. The call for cat pictures is a way to keep those bills from preventing patrons from using the library. “We at the Worcester Public Library are always looking for ways to reduce barriers,” Worcester Public Library executive library director Jason Homer told WBUR. “We know that a lot of people, unfortunately, through being displaced in housing, or life getting in the way in the global pandemic, lost a lot of materials.” 

“Felines for Fee Forgiveness” is part of March Meowness, a month of cat-centric programming that includes a screening of the 2019 movie Cats, a cat-eye makeup tutorial, a “de-stressing” hour of playing with shelter cats, DIY crafts, and more events.

Before you show up to a WPL branch with a cat image at the ready, there are a few rules to know. For one, a book needs to have been lost for at least two months in order for its fee to be waived…. 

(16) PROTOPLANETARY SYSTEM. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Last week’s issue of Science looks at the formation of other planetary systems.

This JWST infrared image shows the Orion Bar, which separates parts of the Orion Nebula containing cool molecular gas (lower left) from those containing hot plasma (upper right). The latter are ionized by ultraviolet radiation from massive stars (located beyond the image). The strong ultraviolet radiation field heats protoplanetary disks around young stars in this region, dispersing the gas needed for planet formation<

Primary research paper’s abstract here.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. GamesRadar+ reports “Star Wars fans rocked by resurfaced beer adverts stitched directly into the original trilogy – including a bizarre replacement for Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber”. One video is embedded below, there are more at the link.

We all remember that iconic Star Wars moment where Obi-Wan Kenobi goes to give Luke Skywalker his father’s old, ice cold beer, right? 

Well, if you watched a specific version of the movie shown in Chile, you might remember things that way. The old ads are going viral once again thanks to the fact that the beer marketing is spliced directly into some of the original trilogy’s most famous moments – unintentionally creating the most hilarious advertising campaign ever. While these videos might seem like fakes, they are very much real: according to The Guardian, the campaign even won an award for its ingenuity…. 

[Thanks to Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, N., Jeffrey Smith, JJ, David Goldfarb, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jeff Jones.]

Pixel Scroll 2/10/24 No, That’s Not A Pixel, It’s A Cat Dreaming It’s A Pixel

(1) 2027 WORLDCON RACE HEATS UP. A Montréal in 2027 Worldcon bid was announced this weekend. The committee is led by Worldcon-running veteran Terry Fong, who lives there. Montréal previously hosted the 2009 Worldcon.

Terry Fong and Rebecca Downey were at Boskone today running a bid table – thanks to Lisa Hertel for this photo.

Terry Fong and Rebecca Downey at Boskone. Photo by Lisa Hertel.

According to Kevin Standlee their proposed site, the Palais des Congrès, is scheduled for a major renovation in 2028, so a bid for that year would not be practical.

The other announced bid for 2027 is WorldCon 2027 in Tel Aviv, Israel.

(2) MEDICAL UPDATE. Kaja Foglio has returned home from the hospital. Phil Foglio posted the good news.

(3) CHTORR GAME IN OUR FUTURE. David Gerrold has told Facebook readers that Dan Verssen Games has licensed the use of one of his Chtorr novels for a version of DVG’s Warfighter games series.

(4) VERSE WANTS TO BE FREE. Bobby Derie in “’A Dracula of the Hills’ (1923) by Amy Lowell” at Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein looks at the Lowell novel, what Lovecraft thought of Lowell, and how both were influenced by Bram Stoker’s novel.

… Time and experience somewhat mellowed Lovecraft’s attitudes towards free verse and Amy Lowell. While the 1922 publication of T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” prompted Lovecraft to write his own satire in free verse, “Waste Paper.” For all that Lovecraft remained a lifelong devotee of traditional meters and rhyme schemes, continued interaction with poets that used free verse such as Hart Crane and Edith Miniter seems to have led him to a begrudging acceptance of the practice. When Amy Lowell died 12 May 1925, Lovecraft wrote:

“When I say that Miſs Lowell wrote poetry, I refer only to the essential contents—the isolated images which prove her to have seen the world transfigured with poetic glamour. I do not mean to say that the compleat results are to be judg’d as poems in any finish’d sense—but merely that there is poetical vision in the broken & rhythmical prose & disconnected pictorial presentations which she gave us. She is also, of course, the author of much genuine poetry in the most perfect metres—sonnets & the like—which most have forgotten because of the greater publicity attending her eccentric emanations.”

H. P. Lovecraft to Lillian D. Clark, 8 Aug 1925, Letters to Family and Family Friends 1.340

(5) BUT THE GROUND’S GETTING CLOSER. The Coyote may still be up in the air, however, his destiny seems certain: “’Coyote Vs. Acme’: With Pic’s Fate In Limbo At Warners, Phil Lord Observes, ‘How Funny It Would Be For This To End With A Congressional Hearing’” reports Deadline.

Warners Bros has screened their axed Coyote vs. Acme to around 12 buyers we hear with a rigid buy price of $70M+; which is how much the animated live-action hybrid movie cost.

Netflix and Paramount put forth bids, which we told you about, but they were lower than the $70M asking price (between $30M-$50M), therefore in Warner’s eyes, rivals didn’t want the feature for what it cost.

What Deadline has received clarity on is that Warner Bros took a $70M writedown on Q3 earnings, not the upcoming Q4. Nonetheless, the movie, which the Burbank, CA lot decided back in early November not to release — remains in purgatory. That said, we hear the door isn’t officially closed on Coyote vs. Acme‘s prospects yet — it’s just that the Coyote could wind up in the cave with Batgirl.

Phil Lord, whose Lego Movie made Warner Bros. over $471M in addition to spuring a feature franchise, took umbrage with the David Zaslav-run conglomerate on Twitter tonight exclaiming, “Is it anticompetitive if one of the biggest movie studios in the worlds shuns the marketplace in order to use a tax loophole to write off an entire movie so they can more easily merge with one of the bigger movie studios in the world? Cause it SEEMS anticompetitive.”

Lord is among those with Chris Miller, Michael Chaves, Daniel Scheinert and Deadline who’ve seen the movie.

Lord further added in reference to the climax of Coyote vs. Acme, “If you could see Coyote vs. Acme, you’d know how funny it would be for this to end with a congressional hearing.”…

(6) YOU AND YOU AND YOU AND THE MULTIVERSE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] We at SF2 Concatenation enjoy diving into the really important questions of life, the Universe and everything, especially those on that fertile boundary between science fact and science fiction, feeling that there are more useful answers there than just a two-digit figure… And so is Becky Smethurst, who has used Rick and Morty as a starting point to explore the concept of the multiverse.

Is there really a parallel universe with an identical you in it? And which multiverse theory does Rick and Morty subscribe to? Indeed, how broad is SF’s approach to the multiverse concept?

Here, Brit Cit astrophysicist Dr. Becky would like to know of any SF story or film that employs the ‘bubble universe’ theory of the multiverse. If you have an example, put it in the comments beneath her 15-minute YouTube video. There’s a challenge for Filers. (Sadly, the end of video the good doctor displays worries that some (just some) of her science colleagues will object vehemently for her use of SF to explore science… There are trolls everywhere, even in science alas.)

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born February 10, 1953 John Shirley, 71. Did you know that John Shirley has written n historical novel, a western about Wyatt Earp — Wyatt in Wichita? I wonder how many of our sff writers beside him and Emma Bull (whose novel Territory was decidedly not historical) have written novels on this incident and the individuals there? 

John Shirley. Photo by Sunni Brock.

I really enjoyed his first novel City Come A-Walkin which I think is a brilliant rendering of a City come to life. 

I’ll admit I’m not much at all for grim dystopian SF but I did find his A Song Called Youth trilogy of EclipseEclipse Penumbra and Eclipse Corona fascinating if in a horrifying manner.

His best known script work is The Crow film, for which he was the initial writer, before David Schow reworked the script. I’m not sure he got actually any credit at all. He also wrote scripts for Poltergeist: The Legacy.

I see that to my surprise he wrote an episode of Deep Space Nine, “Visionary” and also wrote three episodes of the ‘12 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. 

He wrote novels in the AliensDoomHaloResident EvilPredators franchise, Borderlands video gaming DC metaverse and Grimm series.

His latest novel which I’ve not read so do tell me about it is SubOrbital 7.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Argyle Sweater has an update about Peter and Wendy.
  • Tom Gauld has been busy since we last checked in.

(9) THE FUNGUS AMONG US. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Could The Last Of Us fungi be a real risk? The all-party Science Innovation & Technology Committee of the House of Commons Select Committee has held a special one-off session on fungi.

The session explored some of the risks and drawbacks of fungi, which can cause disease in plants and animals including humans. We know that one fungus, cordyceps, can infect and completely “take over” the life functions of insects like ants. But could they really start the zombie apocalypse as depicted in the video game and TV series The Last Of Us? The Daily Mail reported on the meeting

 A fungus called cordyceps, or zombie-ant fungus, is able to control insects’ minds using psychoactive chemicals. It drains their bodies of nutrients before directing them to a high place and releasing spores to infect others. Emmy Award-winning The Last of Us, a post-apocalyptic drama based on a hit video game, shows a world in which cordyceps has spread to humans and wiped out most of humanity. Alarmingly, Professor Fisher said rising global temperatures are causing fungi like cordyceps to evolve and adapt to warmer conditions – which could enable them to colonise human bodies. Dawn Butler MP asked: ‘Is a zombie apocalypse driven by fungal infections a possibility? Professor Fisher said: ‘Well, all the bits exist, don’t they? ‘Fungi can produce strongly psychoactive chemicals, which can influence our behaviour dramatically, and they can also spread and invade humans. 

However, don’t take the Daily Mail too seriously, it is not the best of British newspapers.

The meeting also noted that few fungi can flourish in the warmth of the human body, nonetheless with a changing climate there will be more fungi about.

(10) YEAR OF THE DRAGON ON LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] Filers might be interested in this One-Day Special quiz: Year of the Dragon at LearnedLeague. It actually has surprisingly little SFF content for a dragon-themed quiz.

(11) JABBA Q&A. Can you guess why this is topical?

(12) PHANTOM RETURNING. And this might be a good place to announce “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace 25th Anniversary Cinema Release Confirmed For May The 4th Weekend” at Empire Online.

The epic Darth Maul vs. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn duel. The thunderous Boonta Eve Podrace. The battle of Naboo. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace is packed with moments best witnessed on the big screen, spooling back to the very beginning of the Skywalker Saga to depict Anakin Skywalker’s first encounter with the Jedi, the beginnings of the galactic civil war, and the menacing meddling of Palpatine. Well, good news: to mark 25 years since the film first hit cinemas in 1999, it’s coming back to cinemas later this year. Cue the fanfare!

This May the 4th weekend (so, from Friday 3 May), The Phantom Menace will be re-released in cinemas for a limited time, meaning you can revisit all your favourite moments as large and loud as George Lucas intended….

 (13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. At first I thought he made this up.

But no! I’m stunned to learn this is a real product.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/11/24 Scroll, Pixel, Scroll, Upon Your Mystery Ship

(1) BITTER KARELLA (“MIDNIGHT PALS”) Q&A. The Horror Writers Association blog continues its “Nuts & Bolts” series in an “Interview With Bitter Karella, Creator of The Midnight Pals”.

The Midnight Pals microfiction series started as a simple but inspired running gag on Twitter. Storytellers gather around a campfire a la Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark?, except they’re real-life horror authors past and present — Stephen King, Clive Barker, Mary Shelley, etc.

Its author, Bitter Karella, has managed to find surprising depths in that premise, delivered almost entirely in dialogue. Midnight Pals features complex, interweaving storylines, recurring characters, and trenchant social commentary, all while remaining consistently hilarious….

Q: Humor aside, it’s impressive how Midnight Pals manages to convey entire narrative arcs using little but snippets of dialogue. Do you have any pointers on story-telling?

A: One of the most powerful parts of storytelling is leaving things unsaid. A well-timed pause or a deflection can say so much —  about what a character is thinking, their emotional state, what they want to say but can’t for some reason, what inner demons they refuse to confront, what blind spots they’re not even aware of. These are the moments that really let the reader ponder what’s going on in a character’s brain and I think letting the reader try and figure out for themselves what is going on gives the whole affair a bigger impact than if the writer just spells everything out for them. Because we live in a social media world where we’re all understandably nervous about getting yelled at online, I think many writers today feel uncomfortable with the idea that a reader might misunderstand them and they feel compelled to answer every question before it’s asked. I struggle a lot with that as well … when I write a punchline, I want to write it so that there’s no ambiguity about what’s happening, so that everyone can get it. But sometimes the phrasing that hits best is also going to be the phrasing most ripe for misinterpretation or sometimes it’s just funnier (or more interesting) to leave something out. You just have to trust your reader to connect the dots for themselves, sometimes!

(2) AUTHOR BIO ADVICE. Nicola Griffith makes recommendations: “Author Bios: Saying the quiet part out loud”.

…Nobody really talks about about Author Bios. Consequently, when I was first asked to write one (in the late 80s, for Interzone, or maybe Iron Women) I hadn’t a clue where to begin. If I’d thought about them at all I probably assumed somebody else wrote them. After all, as my English, trained-to-not-blow-my-own-horn inner voice reminded me, If you have to tell people you’re important/interesting, you’re not. Looking back, I’m glad I was clueless about this kind of self-promotion. I might never have begun this writing thing if I’d had any idea how much being a working novelist depends on blasting out your own brassy fanfares all the time, about everything: not just social media but essays, interviews, panels, readings, think pieces, puff pieces, listicles, blog posts, podcasts… It’s a very large part of the job. And all those things rest on the bio—usually between 500 and 1,000 words for your own website (the Inside Bio), and anything from 25 to 200 words elsewhere (the Outside Bio)1

(3) LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] Two SFF-related themed quizzes were featured this week on LearnedLeague. Here’s a link to “Spaceballs: The One-Day Special!” and here’s one to “The Sandman“.

I’ve actually never seen Spaceballs, so I didn’t take that quiz. Sandman, by contrast, I’ve been reading since 1988. I got 12/12 right on that one fairly easily (I did need the embedded hints in one question) but wasn’t in the winners’ circle because the scoring involves guessing what questions will be the hardest, and I failed at that. My old friend Tom Galloway got a perfect score, though.

(4) SHADE TREK. “Star Trek Series Erased From Existence By Sci-Fi Show, Is It Revenge?” asks Giant Freakin Robot.

Star Trek definitely exists in the universe of Ronald D. Moore’s Apple TV+ series For All Mankind, but does every show from the franchise exist? A recent episode has fans speculating that Moore is purposefully suggesting that Star Trek: Voyager wasn’t made in the For All Mankind universe.

If true, it seems like Moore would be throwing some slight shade toward screenwriter Brannon Braga, whom Moore had a falling out with, causing him to leave Voyager.

For All Mankind takes place in an alternate reality where there is a global space race, and one of the interesting aspects of the show is seeing the slight differences in the timelines from our reality. The Star Trek: Voyager theory popped up when a Reddit user pointed out that the character Danielle (Krys Marshall), the first African-American woman in space, sent a message to her stepson Isaiah about the birth of his daughter.

In the scene, Danielle says, “I know you hate Star Trek, but you better get used to it, because I’m gonna make sure my grandbaby is a full-blown Trekkie,” adding, “That’s right, we’re gonna watch all the series, all three of them.”

While that statement may seem innocuous enough, the scene takes place in 2003, when there were six series in the franchise, including The Original SeriesThe Animated SeriesThe Next GenerationDeep Space NineVoyager, and Enterprise….

(5) SCRIPT OF THE UNMADE DUNE SEQUEL. Max Evry tells Ars Technica “I found David Lynch’s lost Dune II script”. That the 1984 Dune movie was low-earning and brutally reviewed is part of the reason it was lost.

… During the two years I spent putting together my book A Masterpiece in Disarray: David Lynch’s Dune—An Oral History, I had no luck uncovering Lynch’s script for Dune II, despite Frank Herbert telling Prevue magazine in December 1984 that he possessed a copy and was advising Lynch on it. “Now that we speak the same ‘language,’ it’s much easier for both of us to make progress, especially with the screenplays,” Herbert told the publication. Then, in July 2023, within the Frank Herbert archives at California State University, Fullerton, I came across a slim folder with a sticky note declaring “Dune Messiah script revisions,” addressed to the second floor of VFX man Barry Nolan’s office in Burbank where Lynch supervised the final effects shoots and editing on Dune….

… Of the many differences between Dune Messiah in novel form and David Lynch’s script, the biggest lay in the opening pages, which detail what happens in the aftermath of the scene in the first Dune movie when the Harkonnens bombed the Atreides’ fortress in Arrakeen, the capitol of the desert planet Arrakis. In the hallway where Duncan Idaho (Richard Jordan) was shot in the head, his shielded dead body still floats on the floor, humming and sparking.

From out of the shadows emerges a familiar face: the Baron’s Doctor (Leonardo Cimino). Thought to be the only speaking part created specifically for Dune by Lynch, we learn this Doctor was actually Scytale, a shape-shifting “face dancer” crucial to the plot of Herbert’s second book. Going back to Dune ’84, you may not have noticed Cimino’s Doctor accompanied Baron Harkonnen during the Arrakeen attack. The Doc is absent after that, even as the Baron yells creepily, “Where’s my doctor?” That’s because Doc/Scytale absconded with Duncan’s body. This Easter egg is Lynchian world-building at its best.

Scytale’s 12-year odyssey reanimating “dead Duncan Idaho” into the ghola named Hayt on the nightmarish Bene Tleilax world (mentioned by Paul in Dune) constitutes the entire opening 10 minutes of the script. Lynch calls the planet Tleilax “a dark metal world with canals of steaming chemicals and acids.” Those canals, Lynch writes, are lined with “dead pink small test tube animals.” Initiating Dune II with a focus on Scytale foregrounds him to primary antagonist, unlike Herbert’s book where myriad conspirators work against Paul….

(6) TURN OUT THE LIGHTSABER, THE PARTY’S OVER. And speaking of unmade sequels – which two famous producers did in The Hollywood Reporter interview: “David Benioff, Dan Weiss Reveal Their Star Wars Movie: The First Jedi”.

…On the Star Wars front, the duo confirm media reports from 2019 that they were looking at the early days of the Jedi, but added some details.

“We wanted to do The First Jedi,” Benioff says. “Basically, how the Jedi Order came to be, why it came to be, the first lightsaber …” 

“And we were annoyed as hell when [Rian Johnson, the duo’s longtime friend and 3 Body Problem producer] called his movie The Last Jedi,” Weiss says dryly. “He completely destroyed the obvious title for what we were working on.” 

Asked what went wrong, Benioff says, “[Lucasfilm] ended up not wanting to do a First Jedi story. We had a very specific story idea in mind, and ultimately they decided they didn’t want to do that. And we totally get it. It’s their company and their IP, but we weren’t the droids they were looking for.”

The duo were far from the only ones that had their Star Wars movie taken away. Lucasfilm also decided against making Star Wars projects from top creatives like Kevin Feige, Patty Jenkins and Damon Lindelof….

(7) BRITISH LIBRARY RECOVERY. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] The British Library announced that some of their major services will begin to be available again starting next week, following last October’s crippling cyber-attack. “Restoring our services – an update”. There is still much work to be done.

As we begin a new year, I’m pleased to confirm that – as promised before Christmas – next Monday 15 January will see the return online of one of the most important datasets for researchers around the world: the main British Library catalogue of over 36 million records, including details of our printed books, journals, maps, music scores and rare books. Its absence from the internet has been perhaps the single most visible impact of the criminal cyber attack which took place at the end of October last year, and I want to acknowledge how difficult this has been for all our users.

When the catalogue returns it won’t be in quite the form that long-standing users will be familiar with. Most notably it will be ‘read-only’, so although you will be able to search for items as before, the process for checking availability and ordering them for to use in the Reading Rooms will be different. We’ll be providing more detailed information and practical guidance when the catalogue goes online on Monday….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born January 11, 1961 Jasper Fforde, 63. I, like most folk I suspect, first discovered the somewhat eccentric charms of his writing in the Eyre Affair, the first of his novels with Tuesday Next, the  Special Operation Network, Literary Detectives (SO-27) who could literally enter the great and not so great works of English literature. 

Bidder and Stoughton published it twenty-three years ago. I’d like to say the Eyre Affair was a much desired literary property but he says there were seventy-six publisher that he sent his manuscript to. I’m surprised there were that many publishers in the U.K. that would have been interested…

Jasper Fforde in 2012.

There would be six in the series in all — this novel followed by Lost in a Good BookThe Well of Lost PlotsSomething RottenFirst Among SequelsOne of our Thursdays Is Missing and The Woman Who Died a Lot. I won’t say that they were consistently great as they weren’t and the humor sometimes wore more than a bit thin, but overall I like the series considerably.

Next up, and I wasn’t eggspecting to like it, yes I know bad pun there, is The Big Over Easy which is set in the same universe as the Thursday Next novels though I don’t remember any overlapping character twenty years after reading them. It reworks his first written novel, which absolutely failed to find any publisher whatsoever. 

Its original title was Who Killed Humpty Dumpty? Errr, wasn’t there a novel involving a rabbit by almost that name?  It had a sequel of sorts in The Fourth Bear. Both are quite more than bearably good. 

I have not read his dystopian novel Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffronwhich is about a future Britain where everyone there is judged by how they perceive colors. Suspect someone with color blindness like myself wouldn’t be welcome there. A friend who did read it like it a lot. 

His Dragonslayer series, also known as The Chronicles of Kazam, are a YA affair and a great deal of fun indeed. 

He’s got several one-offs but I know absolutely nothing about them.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) STRACZYNSKI Q&A. “Hope and Strange: PW Talks with J. Michael Straczynski” at Publishers Weekly.

You’ve said before that, with established mainstream comics characters, you view your job as asking unlikely questions. Could you expand on that approach?

[JMS]: Spider-Man is a good example of that. For 50-plus years, we’ve known that Peter Parker got bit by a spider and got his powers. I like to look under the hood and say, oh, wait, hang on a second. The spider was irradiated—we know that part of it. But did the spider have the powers from the radiation, and therefore gave it to Peter, or was that spider bringing the powers to him in the first place, and had to get to him before the radiation killed it? Because the second question implies intent. And the moment you put intent into that equation, it changes everything. It opens up whole new possibilities of storytelling. Out of that one question came the Spider Totem idea, but also the Spider-Verse. All the things you’ve seen since then from the Spider-Verse, the characters and movies, and the animated stuff, all that came from that one unlikely question—that implied intent….

(11) UNCANNY MAGAZINE’S SUBMISSION SCORECARD. A little peek behind the scenes at a leading sff magazine.

(12) MORE AI FAKERY ON AMAZON. “Scammy AI-Generated Book Rewrites Are Flooding Amazon” reports WIRED.

When AI researcher Melanie Mitchell published Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans in 2019, she set out to clarify AI’s impact. A few years later, ChatGPT set off a new AI boom—with a side effect that caught her off guard. An AI-generated imitation of her book appeared on Amazon, in an apparent scheme to profit off her work. It looks like another example of the ecommerce giant’s ongoing problem with a glut of low-quality AI-generated ebooks.

Mitchell learned that searching Amazon for her book surfaced not only her own tome but also another ebook with the same title, published last September. It was only 45 pages long and it parroted Mitchell’s ideas in halting, awkward language. The listed author, “Shumaila Majid,” had no bio, headshot, or internet presence, but clicking on that name brought up dozens of similar books summarizing recently published titles.

Mitchell guessed the knock-off ebook was AI-generated, and her hunch appears to be correct. WIRED asked deepfake-detection startup Reality Defender to analyze the ersatz version of Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans, and its software declared the book 99 percent likely AI-generated. “It made me mad,” says Mitchell, a professor at the Santa Fe Institute. “It’s just horrifying how people are getting suckered into buying these books.”…

(13) ELFQUEST SCRIPT IS GO. “’Elfquest’ Animated Series Based On Comics In Works At Fox” reports Deadline.

Fox has given a script commitment to Elfquest, a one-hour animated drama series based on the epic fantasy adventure comic series created by Wendy and Richard Pini, from Rodney Rothman and Adam Rosenberg’s Modern MagicSusan Hurwitz Arneson (The Last Amazon) will pen the series adaptation and serve as showrunner and executive producer.

Created in 1978, Elfquest, published by Dark Horse Comics, is a fantasy story about a community of elves and other fictional species who struggle to survive and coexist on a primitive Earth-like planet with two moons….

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Daniel Dern.] The fan-relevant part starts at 3:53 into the video, “Stephen [Colbert] Plays ‘Ick Or No Ick’ With Taylor Tomlinson, Host Of “After Midnight”. Listen through Colbert’s follow-up to Tomlinson’s response, until he closes with a plug for her new show.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, David Goldfarb, Kathy Sullivan, Michael J. Walsh, Bruce D. Arthurs, Jim Janney, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mark J. McGarry.]

Pixel Scroll 12/19/23 I’m My Own Granfalloon

(1) LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] “Question 4 of match day 23 of LearnedLeague season 99”:

Fourth Wing and Iron Flame are titles of the best-selling “romantasy” books released in 2023. Give either the name of the series of which these are the first two installments, or the name of the books’ American author.

Answer: the Empyrean series by Rebecca Yarros.

This had a 14% get rate, with no single wrong answer being given by as many as 5% of players.

I know for a fact that I have seen advertising for this. If only someone had poked me on the shoulder and said, “Pay attention! This will be on LL!” I’d have had a tie in my match instead of a loss. Sigh.

(2) POWELL’S BOOKS UNION CONTRACT. Publishers Weekly knows the terms. “Powell’s Books Workers Ratify New Union Contract”.

Unionized workers at Powell’s Books in Portland, Ore., have ratified a new contract, according to ILWU Local 5, the union which has represented Powell’s staff since 2000. Ninety-three percent of eligible Powell’s workers voted yes for the contract, which will last for four years.

The ratification follows 10 months of negotiations and multiple rejected contracts, including one proposed by Powell’s management in August and another in November. On Labor Day, unionized Powell’s workers staged a walkout, resulting in the daylong closure of all three Powell’s locations on September 4.

Among the new contract’s stipulations are:

  • “10-19% increases to the minimums for the lowest-paid job groups in the first year, and increases to the minimum for all job groups throughout the life of the contract”
  • “annual wage increases totalling $5.20 over the life of the contract” for every union worker, which the union says “amounts to a 28% increase for the average Powell’s worker, and is in addition to any wage increases tied to promotions”
  • “expedited promotions (an accompanying wage increases) for entry-level positions”
  • “broader access to holiday pay”
  • “stronger inclement weather language to give workers more information to make safe decisions in event of snow, ice, extreme heat, wildfire smoke, etc.” “a healthcare plan that significantly decreases the cost of the most common claims for most workers”
  • “a more clearly defined recall process in the event of layoffs, and preservation of benefits for the entire time a worker is on the recall list”…

(3) ONLINE YULE LOGS AT HBO MAX. [Item by Daniel Dern.] HBO Max has a variety of Yule Log/Fireplace videos (looks like only for subscribers) including:

(Looks like it simply glows, but doesn’t hatch)

  • Harry Potter: Fireplace

Wizarding World welcomes you into the common room of all four Hogwarts houses — cozy up around a crackling fire and say hi to some familiar friends.

  • Califer (living flame, from Studio Ghibli)
  • Adult Swim Yule Log (aka The Fireplace)

[Note, not just a fire’n’log; it’s actually a horror movie, with actors, dialog, and, well, horror stuff (based on my quick skim).] “Rated TV-MA for violence, adult language and brief nudity.”

(4) IT’S NOT IN THE CARDS. “Hasbro, owner of Wizards of the Coast, to lay off 1,100 over weak sales” says The Seattle Times.

Hasbro, the parent company of the Seattle-area game publisher Wizards of the Coast, plans to lay off approximately 1,100 employees of its global workforce over weak sales that are expected to continue into next year. 

The maker of toys like Transformers and Play-Doh declined to specify if the layoffs will hit Wizards of the Coast and Washington-based employees. The Rhode Island company also declined to break down total employee numbers by location. 

Hasbro CEO Chris Cocks said in a memo to staff on Monday that weaker-than-expected sales hit as the market is coming off “historic, pandemic-driven highs.”

The “headwinds we anticipated have proven to be stronger and more persistent than planned,” Cocks said. 

Monday’s layoffs, which will affect nearly 20% of Hasbro’s global workforce, are on top of the 800 positions eliminated earlier this year

Despite Hasbro’s struggles, Wizards of the Coast, publisher of the popular games Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering, performed well financially this year. … 

(5) GEOFF RYMAN ANNOUNCES DEATH OF PARTNER. Sending our condolences to Geoff Ryman.

(6) TCM MEMORIAL REEL. Turner Classic Movies today posted their annual tribute: “TCM Remembers”.

We say goodbye to the performers, filmmakers, and creatives we lost in 2023. Through their art and storytelling they soared to new heights and kept us grounded.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 19, 1902 Sir Ralph Richardson. (Died 1983.) So why Ralph Richardson for this Birthday write-up? Well he’d be here if only for being in Terry Gillian’s Time Bandits which was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon IV in which he played the Supreme Being. But he was actually quite active in our end of things. 

His very first genre acting was not surprisingly in the theatre with Macbeth for the first time at age nineteen when he played both Macduff and Banquo, and later on he’ll be Macbeth himself several times. Over the years he had quite extensive theatre experience, but I’ll only detail that relevant to our interest here. 

He was in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Lysander (and Bottom in several later productions) and Hamlet as Haratio twice. He’s Face in Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist, and Mr Darling and Captain Hook in Peter Pan.  

Now unto his film work. At age twenty-nine, unusually late generally to be doing so, he made his film debut. Two years later, The Ghoul, a horror film with Boris Karloff marked his genre debut as Nigel Hartley. 

Ralph Richardson, left, with Margaretta Scott, right, in Things To Come.

Next was Things to Come (also known in promotional material as H. G. Wells’ Things to Come whose script was written by Wells and based his book The Shape of Things to Come. He was Rudolf, “The Boss”. 

Q Planes (known as Clouds Over Europe in the States) I think is SF given the weapon that brought the spy planes. He played Major Charles Hammond here.

One very, very creepy role was The Crypt Keeper in Tales from The Crypt. I do hope he got paid very well for that acting performance. Then he got to be very cute as the caterpillar in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and one very determined creature as the Chief Rabbit in Watership Down.

He finished off his film work I think appropriately enough by playing Lord Greystoke in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes

Ralph Richardson, left, in Time Bandits.

(8) YOU MAY ALREADY HAVE WON. There’s a stampede to fill MCU’s Kang vacancy. Call your agent today! “5 Actors To Recast As Kang Following Jonathan Majors Guilty Verdict And Disney Firing” at Forbes.

… The plan was to move from the MCU’s Phase 5 into Phase 6 with 2026’s The Avengers: Kang Dynasty, but that plan may now be scrapped after Majors’ exit and conviction.

The question now is whether Disney will attempt to recast Kang or simply move on to a new villain….

… My criteria here also includes physical details: Chiefly, the actor should be a black man who isn’t too old or too young. Kang needs gravitas, so casting someone too young would be a mistake. But if he’s too old he won’t come across as physically intimidating enough without CGI (and we don’t need another Thanos). Denzel Washington is a fan-favorite choice here but at 68 I think he might be too old at this point. Other great actors like LaKeith Stanfield just don’t have quite the physique, though it’s possible that could be countered by physical training and costumes….

(9) LAST BITE. Variety has heard that “’What We Do In the Shadows’ Ending With Season 6 at FX”.

The sixth season of FX‘s “What We Do in the Shadows” will be its last.

The series, created by Jemaine Clement based on his and Taika Waititi’s 2014 film of the same name, premiered in 2019. In mockumentary format, it follows the nightly exploits of vampire roommates Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Laszlo (Matt Berry), Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) and Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) as they navigate the modern world of Staten Island with the help of their human familiar, Guillermo (Harvey Guillén), and their vampire bureaucrat acquaintance, the Guide (Kristen Schaal)….

…Since its debut, the series has garnered 21 Emmy nominations, winning for Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes in 2022. This year, it won Best Comedy Series at the GLAAD Media Awards….

(10) THAT THING YOU DO. At Comicbook.com “The Thing’s Kurt Russell Weighs in on Film’s Debated Ending”.

…Namely, fans wonder if either Kurt Russell‘s MacReady or Keith David’s Childs have been infected by the otherworldly creature, and while Russell isn’t outright revealing the answer, he recently addressed what his motivations were for the project and the conversations he had with Carpenter about the cryptic finale. While knowing the “answer” of the ending doesn’t change the effectiveness of the adventure, fans have remained curious about the opinions of the cast and crew regarding those final scenes.

“We talked about that, the ending of that movie, John and I, for a long, long time. We’d trade ideas for the end, write it out, and it was one of those things where John was concerned about it, doing a movie that you would see, for two hours plus, and bring you back to square one,” Russell recently shared during a conversation hosted by the Happy Sad Confused podcast. “We finally got to a point where, we’d try different things, and I just remember finally saying, ‘How about this one?’ and we’d try it, and I said, ‘John, I think this comes back to square one. I think that’s what it does.’ The only thing I could do was finish it with, ‘Why don’t we just sit here for a while and see what happens.’ It worked. It was the thing that it called for.”

He added, “It’s fun to hear people talk about that one, I must say, that’s a fun one.”…

(11) TUNES WITH A HOOK. “Spielberg’s 1991 movie ‘Hook’ was nearly a musical. Now its score has been released” reports NPR.

Steven Spielberg’s 1991 movie “Hook” was nearly a musical. Now the never-heard score with tunes by John Williams has been recorded and released.

… (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

LESLIE BRICUSSE: And we thought we’d got the Oscar with a song called “Childhood.” And I remember Steven, when he heard it, saying, that’s a home run.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “CHILDHOOD”)

UNIDENTIFIED MUSICAL ARTIST #1: (Singing) Shadows, memories, lingering laughter reach out, touch me half my life after.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

[LESLIE] BRICUSSE: But it was a beautiful song, beautiful song, beautiful melody – vintage Williams.

[TIM] GREIVING: “Childhood” was written for Granny Wendy. Williams and Bricusse also wrote a seductive villain song for Captain Hook to sing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “STICK WITH ME”)

UNIDENTIFIED MUSICAL ARTIST #2: (As Captain Hook, singing) Looking at where we’re at sensibly, boy, if you will spend a little time with me, you can be – I guarantee – anything you want to be.

[TIM] GREIVING: None of these made it into “Hook” the movie….

(12) COLLECTOR ROYALTY. “You Need Felix the Cat? Early Popeye? Talk to the King of Silent Animation” advises the New York Times.

… Once a week, [Tommy José Stathes] heads from his small studio apartment in Queens to his enormous collection of vintage cartoons: a celluloid library of around 4,000 reels, some of the prints more than 100 years old. It is certainly one of the largest collections of early animated films anywhere in the world — and that accounts for the holdings of the Library of Congress, according to an archivist who does restoration there….

…This avocation can be traced back to an obscure Farmer Alfalfa cartoon his father showed him once. From there, he expanded to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Felix the Cat, and he started hunting for reels in local antique shops and flea markets. He soon progressed to eBay, ultimately piling up a six-figure investment in the archive.

His devotion to silent cartoons — the very birth of the form — is unrivaled. In fact, he has helped the Library of Congress identify some of its own collection. George Willeman, who oversees the nitrate film vaults for the library, recalled being amazed when Mr. Stathes, then in his 20s, took a seat in the archive and identified reel after reel of unidentified cartoons made decades before he was even born.

“As far as I know,” Mr. Willeman said, “Tommy is the king of silent animation.”…

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

Pixel Scroll 11/14/23 Give Me Forty Pixels And I’ll Scroll This Rig Around

(1) WON’T BE THE FIRST TIME. The organizers anticipate some accepters will make some political statements from the stage of the National Book Awards ceremony on November 15: “Israel-Hamas War Sows Disruption at the National Book Awards” in the New York Times.

As the cultural fallout from the war in the Middle East continues, several finalists for the National Book Award plan to call for a cease-fire in Gaza during the ceremony on Wednesday. Two sponsors have decided not to attend the ceremony after learning authors were planning a political statement.

“I don’t want to look back on this time,” said Aaliyah Bilal, a finalist in the fiction category and one of the authors planing to speak out, “and say that I was silent while people were suffering.”

Rumors that authors would take a stand regarding the Israel-Gaza conflict during the ceremony were flying in the days leading up to the event, but it was unclear what the statement would include, leaving several sponsors concerned.

One of the sponsors that withdrew after learning that some authors were planning a political statement was Zibby Media. Zibby Owens, the company’s founder, wrote in an essay published on Substack that her company had withdrawn because she was afraid the remarks at the ceremony would take a stance against Israel, noting that “we simply can’t be a part of anything that promotes discrimination, in this case of Israel and the Jewish people.”

Another sponsor, Book of the Month, has also decided not to attend. In a statement, the organization said it continued to support the event.

On Tuesday, the National Book Foundation sent a message to all the sponsors and those who purchased tickets, alerting them to the likelihood that winners were planning to issue political statements from the podium. The letter said that one group had decided to withdraw its sponsorship altogether….

(2) PROTESTORS AT GILLER PRIZE CEREMONY. Last night’s Giller Prize ceremony in Toronto was interrupted twice by protestors: “Three people charged in Giller Prize protest” at CP24.

Toronto police say three people are facing charges after a surprise protest which hijacked a gala for the Scotiabank Giller Prize – one of the biggest nights in Canadian literature.

The glitzy awards ceremony was held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Yorkville Monday night.

The $100,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize went to Montreal native Sarah Bernstein for her novel, “Study for Obedience.”

Just as the prize was being announced, a protester posing as a photographer interrupted the ceremony – which was being broadcast live on CBC – with antiwar slogans.

A video of the incident posted to social media shows a woman yelling at the room while several others held up signs accusing Scotiabank of “genocide” for investment in an arm’s company that deals with Israel.

Publishers Lunch reports a Scotiabank asset investment fund holds a five percent stake (worth roughly $500 million) in Elbit Systems, the “largest non-government-owned defense company in Israel.”

(3) NANOWRIMO CONCERN. This report about the NaNoWriMo Youth Forums says the Board of Directors had to step in because of allegations against a moderator. The following is an excerpt from a thread which begins here.

And this tweet links to a 5-minute Rebecca Thorne Tik-Tok video commentary on the situation where she says “Now is the time to change your password, your email, and check your kids if they’ve been on these forums”.

(4) 2024 GRAMMY BALLOT INCLUDES SFF NOTABLES. The “2024 GRAMMY Nominations” were released on November 10, with nearly one hundred categories. William Shatner stands alone in his category, but the next four are almost entirely filled by musical works of genre interest.

68. Best Audio Book, Narration, and Storytelling Recording

Boldly Go: Reflections On A Life Of Awe And Wonder
William Shatner

69. Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media

Award to the principal artist(s) and/or ‘in studio’ producer(s) of a majority of the tracks on the album.  In the absence of both, award to the one or two individuals proactively responsible for the concept and musical direction of the album and for the selection of artists, songs and producers, as applicable. Award also goes to appropriately credited music supervisor(s).

AURORA
(Daisy Jones & The Six)

Barbie The Album
(Various Artists)

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Music From And Inspired By
(Various Artists)

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3: Awesome Mix, Vol. 3
(Various Artists)

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
Weird Al Yankovic

70. Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media (Includes Film And Television)

Award to Composer(s) for an original score created specifically for, or as a companion to, a current legitimate motion picture, television show or series, or other visual media.

Barbie
Mark Ronson & Andrew Wyatt, composers

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Ludwig Göransson, composer

The Fabelmans
John Williams, composer

Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny
John Williams, composer

Oppenheimer
Ludwig Göransson, composer

71.  Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media

Award to Composer(s) for an original score created specifically for, or as a companion to, video games and other interactive media.

Call Of Duty®: Modern Warfare II
Sarah Schachner, composer

God Of War Ragnarök
Bear McCreary, composer

Hogwarts Legacy
Peter Murray, J Scott Rakozy & Chuck E. Myers “Sea”, composers

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
Stephen Barton & Gordy Haab, composers

Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical
Jess Serro, Tripod & Austin Wintory, composers

72. Best Song Written For Visual Media

A Songwriter(s) award. For a song (melody & lyrics) written specifically for a motion picture, television, video games or other visual media, and released for the first time during the Eligibility Year. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.)

Barbie World [From “Barbie The Album”]
Naija Gaston, Ephrem Louis Lopez Jr. & Onika Maraj, songwriters (Nicki Minaj & Ice Spice Featuring Aqua)

Dance The Night [From “Barbie The Album”]
Caroline Ailin, Dua Lipa, Mark Ronson & Andrew Wyatt, songwriters (Dua Lipa)

I’m Just Ken [From “Barbie The Album”]
Mark Ronson & Andrew Wyatt, songwriters (Ryan Gosling)

Lift Me Up [From “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Music From And Inspired By”]
Ryan Coogler, Ludwig Göransson, Robyn Fenty & Temilade Openiyi, songwriters (Rihanna)

What Was I Made For? [From “Barbie The Album”]
Billie Eilish O’Connell & Finneas O’Connell, songwriters (Billie Eilish)

(5) LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] The last day of the current LearnedLeague off-season featured a fun quiz on invented religions in a wide range of SF and fantasy. I got 9/12. You can find the questions here: “Fictional Theology”.

(6) SACRIFICIAL RAMMING SPEED. While you may have missed the latest NCIS television spinoff (I certainly did), Camestros Felapton confesses “I watched NCIS Sydney.

…The choice of city is obvious from the opening shots which take in the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House before taking us to the naval base near Woolloomooloo. You really can’t go wrong with filming Sydney Harbour, it is genuinely photogenic and really does have visiting naval vessels in it. Apparently, the real NCIS does have an Australian sub-office but it is in Perth, which is a lovely city but lacks the kind of recognisable landmarks that invading aliens or kaiju like to destroy….

(7) IT TURNS OUT MOUNT DOOM IS FREEWAY CLOSE TO POMPEII. In Italy, where the right wing is trying to appropriate Tolkienesque icons and themes, Politico takes readers “Inside Giorgia Meloni’s Hobbit fantasy world”.

Introducing soon-to-be Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni at her final election campaign rally last year, the compère lifted a line from a battle speech in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings: “The day of defeat will come, but not today.”

Meloni has made it no secret that the fantasy epic is her favorite literary work. As a young activist she dressed up as a hobbit; after she became a minister, she posed next to a statue of Gandalf for a magazine photoshoot….

…The Ministry of Culture is funding an exhibition in Rome marking 50 years since the author’s death at a cost of €250,000, according to an official, who said the ministry hopes to recoup the funds from ticket sales. Meloni herself will open the show on November 15 at the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art before it moves to other Italian cities.

Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano announced the show to the youth wing of Meloni’s party in July as “a gift.”

On Wednesday, presenting the exhibition, Sangiuliano said the show was “not by accident but deliberate and desired.” In response to a question by POLITICO, he insisted that Meloni had not requested the show but “only found out later.”

In the 1970s the far right would organize “Hobbit camp” festivals; Meloni has recalled that her friends were nicknamed Frodo, Gandalf and Hobbit, after central characters from the books.

She has quoted liberally from Tolkien throughout her career, from one of her first political speeches as a youth leader in 2002, to her autobiography in 2022. In 2015 she called on followers to combat that “sly enemy that Tolkien called the rings of power,” referring to the global financial elite….

(8) A BIG IMPROVEMENT. Christopher Nieman’s cover for The New Yorker shows robots are here to help us. (Click on item to see all panels.)

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • 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 eighteenth 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. (Died 2002.)
  • Born November 14, 1951 Beth Meacham, 72. 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 until her retirement.  She does have one novel, co-written with Tappan King, entitled Nightshade Book One: Terror, Inc. and a handful of short fiction.  A Reader’s Guide to Fantasy that she co-wrote wrote with Michael Franklin and Baird Searles was nominated for a Hugo at L.A. Con II. She has been nominated for six Hugos as Best Professional Editor or Best Editor Long Form.
  • Born November 14, 1963 Cat Rambo, 60. All around great person. Past President of SFWA.  She was editor of Fantasy Magazine for four years which earned her a 2012 nomination in the World Fantasy Special Award: Non-Professional category. Her novelette Carpe Glitter won a 2020 Nebula, and her short story “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain” was a 2013 Nebula Award finalist.  Her impressive fantasy Tabat Quartet quartet begins withBeasts of Tabat, Hearts of Tabat, and Exiles of Tabat, and will soon be completed by Gods of Tabat. 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 through live and on demand classes about a range of topics. You can get details here. Her latest, Devil’s, was a stellar listen and an outstanding sequel to You Sexy Thing.
  • Born November 14, 1969 Daniel Abraham, 54. Co-author with Ty Franck of The Expanse series which won a Hugo at CoNZealand. Under the pseudonym M. L. N. Hanover, he is the author of the Black Sun’s Daughter urban fantasy series.  Abraham collaborated with George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois to write the Hunter’s Run. Abraham also has 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 Wild Cards anthologies. By himself, he picked up a Hugo nomination at Denvention 3 for his “The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairy Tale of Economics” novelette. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! has a grotesque Wolverine joke.

(11) ARMOR MUSEUM EXHIBIT IN HUNTSVILLE. [Item by Marc Criley.] Armor frequently plays a key supporting role in high fantasy and historical fiction set in a certain era.

Pay a visit to the Huntsville Museum of Art in Huntsville, Alabama to see what really protected those that became the storytellers’ myths and legends. The Age of Armor: Treasures from the Higgins Armory Collection at the Worcester Art Museum on display now until January 14, 2024.

Far from the ungainly exoskeleton we often imagine today, the suit of armor was made to be sleek and stylish—painstakingly engineered, elegantly designed, and treasured as the expression of its owner’s taste, sophistication, and prowess.

Wolfgang Stäntler, Swept-Hilt Sword for the Munich Town Guard, about 1600,

(12) DISGRACELAND. “Shock of the old: eight abandoned and appalling theme parks” – the Guardian has a little list. Here’s one example:

Gulliver’s Kingdom, Japan

Given its wholesome location, nestled up against the Aokigahara “suicide forest” and the Aum Shinrikyo cult headquarters in Japan, it’s impossible to imagine why this Jonathan Swift tribute park didn’t catch on. It’s the kind of thing you could threaten your kids with: “Be good, or we’ll go and see the vast, nightmarish statue of a man in a book you’ve never read.” Did they serve Modest Proposal burgers? It’s been demolished now; probably best for the planet’s collective psychological wellbeing.

(13) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. [Item by Steven French.] Well, who hasn’t lost a ring at some time or another …?! “Saturn’s Rings Will Temporarily Disappear From View in 2025” according to Smithsonian Magazine.

… In reality, it all has to do with planetary alignment. Saturn’s rings are so thin that they seemingly vanish when viewed edge-on. And as Earth and Saturn travel around the sun on their respective orbital paths, our planet reaches this particular vantage point like clockwork, roughly every 13 to 16 years.

As Saturn completes its orbit over approximately 29.4 Earth years, it leans at an angle of 26.7 degrees. This means that our view of Saturn toggles between the upper side of its rings when it’s tilted toward us and the lower side when it’s tilted away. We get the special, ringless view of the planet when Earth transitions between each of these perspectives and passes through Saturn’s “ring plane,” essentially, any area of space that’s in line with the edge of its rings.

From that angle, “they reflect very little light and are very difficult to see, making them essentially invisible,” Vahe Peroomian, a physicist and astronomer at the University of Southern California, tells CBS News’ Caitlin O’Kane…

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Anne Marble, Marc Criley, Nicholas Whyte, Steven French, Lise Andreasen, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Mike Kennedy, for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 11/13/23 Yesterday, Upon A Scroll, I Met A Pixel Who Wasn’t There

(1) MAYBE “COYOTE” ISN’T DEAD YET. “I’m feeling better!”Deadline reports “Coyote vs. Acme: Warner Bros Showing Pic to Amazon, Apple For Acquisition”.

Screenings are being set up this week for streamers Amazon Prime Video, Apple and Netflix to check out and potentially acquire Warner Bros‘ axed Looney Tunes movie Coyote vs. Acme after the studio’s phone ran off the hook the entire weekend from angry filmmakers and talent reps over their third feature film kill after Batgirl and Scoob Holiday Haunt!

The more egregious Hollywood sin with Coyote vs. Acme is that it’s a finished film was intended for a theatrical release, while the other two movies were still in the works.

Of those kicking the tires, even though no deals have been drafted, I hear Amazon is a leading contender given the fact that Courtenay Valenti, the Head of Film, Streaming and Theatrical for Amazon Studios and MGM, was a big champion and linchpin for the movie while she was President of Production and Development at Warner Bros. All of this boils down to Head of Amazon Studios Jen Salke’s signoff, I understand. During the pandemic, Prime Video acquired Sony’s family titles Hotel Transylvania 4 and Cinderella, among other movies. Amazon has been known to take finished films off the table for $100M and turn them into events for Prime Video….

(2) SFPA OFFICER ELECTION RESULTS. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association has tallied the votes and announced that starting January 1, 2024, John Philip Johnson will be SFPA Secretary and Jordan Hirsch will be SFPA Treasurer.

(3) ULTRAMAN ARRIVING IN 2024. “The First Ultraman: Rising Trailer Looks Incredible” says Yahoo!

Ultraman is one of Japan’s biggest superheroes – both figuratively and literally – but outside of Japan the hero’s popularity hasn’t quite hit fever pitch. Netflix’s newest film could change all that, if the first trailer for Ultraman: Rising is anything to go by, as it looks absolutely incredible.

Netflix released the first trailer for the CG animated film Ultraman: Rising last night, as part of its annual Geeked Week celebrations. The trailer shows off a rebooted Ultraman, a gigantic super-powered hero that’s the powered-up form of baseball superstar Ken Sato.

As the story goes, Ken comes back to Japan to take up his duties as the biggest superhero on the planet, promptly defeating a large, dragon-like kaiju. In the trailer, he retrieves a mysterious orb from the monster, only to discover it’s an egg — and it hatches into the child of his greatest foe…

(4) LEARNEDLEAGUE CALENDAR. [Item by David Goldfarb.] Here are LearnedLeague One-Day Special quizzes scheduled for 2024, that relate to SF and fantasy. Some are specifically SFF-related, some are genre-adjacent. I’ll list both.

SFF-related:

  • Spaceballs: The One-Day Special!  Jan 9
  • The Sandman  Jan 10
  • The X-Men   May 8
  • Folk Horror Films  May 13
  • Science Fiction Homeworlds  Jul 20
  • Mars in Popular Culture  Jul 23
  • Studio Ghibli  Jul 23
  • Faerie Tale Theatre  Aug 6
  • Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere  Aug 7
  • Murderbot for Everyone  Aug 21
  • Elemental Masters (probably? Mercedes Lackey has a series with that title, but it could be about something else with a similar name)  Oct 7
  • The Silmarillion   Oct 10 (we’ve had 3 quizzes already about The Lord of the Rings, so now we move on to The Silmarillion)
  • Godzilla  Oct 14
  • Just Audio Horror Pairings  Oct 16
  • Jurassic Park  Oct 17
  • Just Images Portals  Oct 28
  • Romance Novels 3: Super Friendly Monsters  Oct 31
  • Science of Science Fiction 2  Nov 4
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation  Nov 7

Genre-Adjacent:

  • Polyamory  Jan 12
  • Video Game Weaponry  Jan 22
  • Homestuck  Feb 7
  • Year of the Dragon (possibly? not 100% clear what this one is about)  Feb 8
  • Secret Identities  Mar 25
  • DuckTales  Apr 9
  • Nanotechnology  Apr 10
  • Chemicals I Won’t Work With  Apr 13
  • Asteroids  Apr 15
  • Horror Hosts  Apr 15
  • Fictional Religions  May 15 (not clear how this will differ from Fictional Theology)
  • Science Theater  Jul 15
  • Tintin Comics  Jul 18
  • Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall Trilogy  Oct 10
  • Mercury 7 Astronauts  Nov 7

I’m particularly looking forward to Cosmere, Homeworlds, Murderbot, and Science of SF. (I was part of a 10-way tie for champion of the first “Science of Science Fiction” quiz.)

(5) WHO MAY GIVE YOUNG VIEWERS THE CREEPS? “Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies issues warning to parents ahead of anniversary specials” and The Independent boosts the signal.

Doctor Who’s returning showrunner Russell T Davies has issued a warning to parents about “dark” and “violent” content in the show’s forthcoming episodes.

… Of the three episodes, series opener The Star Beast, which airs on 25 November and centres on a furry creature called a Meep (voiced by Miriam Margolyes), is the most child-friendly, Davies explained.

“It is like a great big Pixar family film, like a bank holiday film – all the family watching, lots of laughs, a funny monster,” he said.

However, the following two episodes will not be appropriate for children, Davies warned. “The second one, Wild Blue Yonder, is darker. Not scary – it’s genuinely weird,” he said.

“We do very scary stuff. Some stuff is quite violent. It’s not for children, it’s about children.”…

(6) LOKI SEASON 2 BOX SCORE. Deadline has the viewership numbers: “’Loki’ Season 2 Finale Pulls In 11.2M Views, +3% From Opener”.

Marvel Studios’ season 2 finale of Loki went out with a blast attracting 11.2M global views over three-days, which is +3% from the season 2 first episode 3-day draw of 10.9M.

Loki‘s season 2 kickoff was the second most-watched season premiere this year on Disney+, behind March’s season 3 premiere of The Mandalorian.

The finale of the Marvel Studios series—which concluded last Thursday—was only behind the season three finale of The Mandalorian, which wrapped up its season in April….

(7) OUROBOROS Q&A. “Ke Huy Quan Discusses Loki Season 2 Finale & His Marvel Entry” at Deadline. Beware spoilers.

DEADLINE: It’s so great to get to talk with you about Loki. You haven’t really been able to talk about your role, due to the actors strike. What have you been waiting to say?

KE HUY QUAN: When I decided to become an actor again, [being part of the MCU] was at the top of my wishlist…They all welcomed me with wide open arms, and I was so happy. I was patiently waiting for the show to come out so we can go and celebrate it and tell the fans. Then, of course, the strike happened. I just want to tell everybody how proud of the show I am. How happy I am with it. And working with Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, the entire Loki family has just been incredible. We made this last year in London. I was there for four months, my wife and I were there. It was one of the best four months of my life. I’ve done a few shows before, and this was the first time where I didn’t want it to end. I was so happy. In fact, I’ll tell you this. We were scheduled for reshoots this February, and I was waiting. My wife and I were looking forward to spending more time in London and with our Loki family. And all of a sudden we were told, ‘Oh, we don’t need any reshoots. It’s all good.’ I was kind of disappointed. I was actually disappointed that we didn’t get to go back because of how much fun we had… So we made history. We make history two times. One is the first series of Marvel getting a second season and the second is the first time a Marvel show didn’t have any reshoots. I’m so proud of that….

(8) MICHAEL BISHOP (1945-2023). Beloved sff author Michael Bishop died November 13, the day following his 78th birthday, after a prolonged stay in hospice care. His daughter made the announcement on Facebook.

…It is with great sadness (and yet relief for my dad) that I post with the news that Daddy breathed his last breath early this morning with my mom by his side. He is at peace and free from pain AND we miss him terribly already….

He made such an immediate and strong impression on the field that he was presented DeepSouthCon’s Phoenix Award for lifetime achievement in 1977, less than a decade after his first work was published.

By the time his career was over, Bishop was a 17-time Nebula finalist, winning Best Novelette for “The Quickening” in 1982 and Best novel for No Enemy But Time in 1983. He was also a 9-time Hugo finalist, though never won.

His versatility was proven by the other awards he received. His short story “The Pile” won a 2009 Shirley Jackson Award. His novel Unicorn Mountain won the Mythopoeic Award for Best Fantasy in 1989. His poem “For the Lady of a Physicist” won a 1979 Rhysling Award. He was also a four-time Locus Award winner.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 13, 1850 Robert Louis Stevenson. Author of Treasure IslandStrange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and the New Arabian Nights collection of short stories.  Internet Movie Database gives over three hundred productions that have been based off of his works. What are your favorite ones? And I’m not even going to get into the deeps of genre fiction based off just the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll as I know Theodora Goss was making use of that story in one of her series and Simon R. Green had Hydes in his Nightside series. Not to mention Bugs Bunny… (Died 1894.)
  • Born November 13, 1887 A. R. Tilburne. Pulp artist who by 1938 was selling cover illustrations to Short Stories and Weird Tales such as the November 1938 issue of the latter, and in the 1940s he also drew many interior story illustrations for Weird Tales. In 1947 he painted the cover for H. P. Lovecraft’s The Lurking Fear, published by Avon paperback books. (Died 1965.)
  • Born November 13, 1888 Philip Francis Nowlan. He’s best known as the creator of Buck Rogers. While working in Philadelphia, he created and wrote the Buck Rogers comic strip, illustrated by Dick Calkins. Philip Nowlan working for the syndicate John F. Dille Company, later known as the National Newspaper Service syndicate, was contracted to adapt the story into a comic strip. The Buck Rogers strip made its first newspaper appearance on January 7, 1929, but the first appearance of “Anthony Rogers” was actually in Amazing Stories in August of 1928 in the “Armageddon—2419 A. D.” Story there with cover illustration by Frank R. Paul. (Died 1940.)
  • Born November 13, 1945 Pierre Pelot, 78. A French writer who wrote fourteen science fiction novels and seven horror novels including space operas. Only But What If Butterflies Cheat? (its English translation title) is available in English so far. It’s part of the might exist The Child Who Walked on the Sky / But What If Butterflies Cheat? omnibus as I failed to find it anywhere including Amazon and any of the places that resell books online. He was nominated for a dozen Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire Awards winning two. 
  • Born November 13, 1955 Brenda Clough, 68. She was nominated for a Hugo at ConJosé for her “May Be Some Time” novella. I’m very fond of her fantasy Averidan series. Though very much not genre, I recommend her A Most Dangerous Woman, a sequel to The Woman in White by Wilkie Collin. It’s a serial on Realm which you can find at the usual suspects. 
  • Born November 13, 1957 Stephen Baxter, 66. Ok I’m going to confess that the only thing I’ve read that he’s written is the Long Earth series with Terry Pratchett.  I’ve only read the first three but they are quite great SF!  Ok I really, really need your help to figure out what else of his that I should consider reading.  To say he’s been a prolific writer is somewhat of an understatement and he’s gotten a bonnie bunch of awards as well though no Hugos.  It’s worth noting that Baxter’s story “Last Contact” was nominated for a Hugo for best short story at Denvention 3 as were The Time Ships as L.A. Con III, “Moon Six” novellette at BucConeer, “On the Orion Line” novellette  and “The Gravity Mine” short story at the Millennium Philcon, and finally “The Ghost Pit” short story at ConJosé.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Speed Bump checks the shelves of an interesting library.
  • Thatababy has a strange way of getting rid of autumn leaves.
  • Wallace the Brave gives a teacher a novel excuse.
  • Tom Gauld made a design with you in mind.

(11) HORRENDOUS PROBLEMS IN IRON FLAME PRINT BOOKS. Publishers Lunch learned that “Entangled Is Working On A Solution to ‘Iron Flame’ Misprints”.

Entangled Publishing said in a statement that it’s working to correct misprints in the new Rebecca Yarros novel Iron Flame that published on November 7. Entangled reportedly indicated the book sold more than half a million copies on its release day, and some of the copies had irregularities including damaged pages, missing pages, upside down pages, and more, which readers catalogued on TikTok.

In a statement to Variety, the company acknowledged that the misprints “have caused disappointment among those who eagerly awaited this release.” They write, “In keeping with our values of quality and responsibility, we are committed to making this right. We are actively working with our distribution partner to create a solution for those who wish to exchange their copy but are unable to do so at their original retailer. Our printing company is also working to produce the additional copies needed to facilitate this process. Entangled Publishing appreciates the patience and support of our readers as we work to swiftly resolve this issue. More details will be available on our social media platforms in the coming weeks.”

(12) AI COPYRIGHT LAWSUIT NEWS. Publishers Weekly reports“Judge Will Toss Part of Authors’ AI Copyright Lawsuit”.

At a hearing last week, a federal judge said that he will dismiss part of the lawsuit filed by a group of authors including comedian Sarah Silverman that claims Meta’s Llama AI application infringes their copyrights.

According to Reuters, judge Vince Chhabria said the authors’ allegations that text generated by Llama infringes their copyrights simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. “When I make a query of Llama, I’m not asking for a copy of Sarah Silverman’s book—I’m not even asking for an excerpt,” Chhabria observed, noting that, under the authors’ theory, a side-by-side comparison of text generated by the AI application and Silverman’s book would have to show they are similar.

However, the judge said he will not dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning the authors will be allowed to amend and refile their claims. Furthermore, a core claim of the suit—that Meta’s use of unauthorized copies to train its AI model is infringing—remains.

The judge’s decision was not unexpected. As PW reported in July, multiple lawyers said that the authors’ copyright claims face long odds in court.

The proposed class action suit before Chhabria was filed on July 7 by the Joseph Saveri Law Firm on behalf of authors Christopher Golden, Richard Kadrey, and comedian Sarah Silverman, just days after the Saveri firm filed a similar suit on behalf of authors against Open AI, with authors Paul Tremblay and Mona Awad as named plaintiffs (though Awad has since withdrawn). A third group of authors represented by another firm (with authors including Michael Chabon, David Henry Hwang, Matthew Klam, Rachel Louise Snyder, and Ayelet Waldman among others) filed a lawsuit in August….

(13) TOY-BASED MOVIE GETTING ANOTHER CHANCE. “‘Masters of the Universe’ Movie Eyes New Home at Amazon” reports Variety.

In “Masters of the Universe,” He-Man’s nemesis is the evil wizard Skeletor. In Hollywood, his greatest threat has been a list of studio partners that have sidelined him from the big screen for nearly two decades. 

The blond barbarian, based on a popular set of Mattel toys, may finally win the day. Amazon MGM Studios is in serious talks to mount a live-action “Masters of the Universe” movie from Adam and Aaron Nee, the writing and directing team behind “The Lost City,” according to multiple insiders. Conversations are taking place with Amazon after Netflix dropped a planned version of the Nee brothers film in July….

(14) TERMINATOR BEGINS AGAIN. Yahoo! says“Terminator is back with a new anime series coming to Netflix”.

Netflix is giving the Terminator franchise the anime treatment in a new series that’s set to hit the streaming platform “soon.” The company dropped the first teaser for Terminator: The Anime Series this weekend during its Geeked Week event. Details so far are scant, but we do know it’ll be produced by Production IG, the Japanese animation studio behind the original Ghost in the Shell movie and spinoff TV series.

Terminator: The Anime Series will take us back to August 1997, when the Skynet AI becomes self-aware and turns against humans. While there is no information on the cast just yet, Variety reports the series will feature entirely new characters….

(15) THESE GHOSTS ARE ON THE CASE. Variety is there when “’Dead Boy Detectives’ Netflix Series Drops First Trailer”.

The “Dead Boy Detectives” series is officially set to air on Netflix after originally being set up at Max.

The show, based on characters created for DC by Neil Gaiman and Matt Wagner, was originally ordered to series at Max back in April 2022. However, it was reported earlier this year that it would be moving to Netflix due to the fact it did not fit the new direction for Max-DC content being spearheaded by James Gunn and Peter Safran.

The official description for the eight-episode series states, “Do you have a pesky ghost haunting you? Has a demon stolen your core memories? You may want to ring the Dead Boy Detectives. Meet Edwin Payne (George Rexstrew) and Charles Rowland (Jayden Revri), ‘the brains’ and ‘the brawn’ behind the Dead Boy Detectives agency. Teenagers born decades apart who find each other only in death, Edwin and Charles are best friends and ghosts… who solve mysteries….

(16) MOON UNIT. “Rebel Moon Trailer: Part One A Child of Fire Kicks Off Zack Snyder Epic”Variety provides the introduction.

Netflix has debuted an explosive new trailer for Zack Snyder‘s “Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire,” set for a limited one-week theatrical release on Dec. 15 and a wide streaming release on Netflix on Dec. 22.

Snyder’s epic space adventure film stars Sofia Boutella, Ed Skrein, Cleopatra Coleman and Cary Elwes. The story centers on a young woman living on the outskirts of a galaxy who must find a group of warriors to save the galaxy from an invasion from a tyrant. Snyder revealed to Total Film that “Rebel Moon” takes place in the same universe as another Netflix film of his, “Army of the Dead,” though one is set in outer space and the other in apocalyptic Las Vegas….

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

Pixel Scroll 11/6/23 Reader, I Pixeled Him

(1) DANGEROUS COVER REVEALS. J. Michael Straczynski  today posted in social media links to the Amazon pre-order pages showing the covers of of Dangerous Visions and Again, Dangerous Visions coming out from Blackstone Publishing next year.

JMS added that, “What’s not noted in this description is that this edition of Dangerous Visions the book has two new introductions, one by me, and one by Patton Oswalt.”

Dangerous Visions, Blackstone Publishing; Hardcover edition (March 26, 2024)

Again, Dangerous Visions, Blackstone Publishing; Unabridged edition (June 1, 2024)

(2) SERGEY LUKYANENKO PROMOTES CHENGDU WORLDCON BOOK. This is news because it’s the first time this year that Sergey Lukyanenko’s blog has mentioned the Chengdu Worldcon, where he was a no-show guest of honor. On October 31 he promoted the book published for the con containing stories by the three GoHs.

A collection of stories by honored guests of WorldCon 2023 (Chengdu, China): “The Stars Echo” Authors: Sergey Lukyanenko, Liu Cixin, and Robert Sawyer

His blog includes several photos from a Chinese promotional event for the book (none of them showing the other two GoHs).

(Interestingly, his next blog post announced a scheduled appearance by Vladimir Putin at the Public Chamber of Russia, of which Lukyanenko is a member. He and 39 others were appointed members by Putin in April.)

(3) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Cadwell Turnbull and Victor Manibo on Wednesday, November 8, 2023. The event begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern in the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003 (Just off 2nd Ave, upstairs)

Cadwell Turnbull

Cadwell Turnbull is the award-winning author of The Lesson and No Gods, No Monsters. His short fiction has appeared in The Verge, Lightspeed, Nightmare, Asimov’s Science Fiction and several anthologies, including The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018 and The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019. His latest novel We Are the Crisis is available now from Blackstone Publishing.

Victor Manibo

Victor Manibo is a Filipino speculative fiction writer living in New York. A 2022 Lambda Literary Emerging Voices Fellow, he is the author of the science fiction noir novel The Sleepless. His next novel, Escape Velocity, is forthcoming from Erewhon Books in Spring 2024. Aside from fiction, he also spins fantastical tales in his career as a lawyer. He lives in Queens with his husband, their dog, and their two cats.

(4) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

The Tibet SF table in the fan area

(Note: I am of course aware that the status of Tibet is a controversial subject, to put it mildly.  For better or worse, this item focuses solely on the content in the linked article.  Also, given that this item is based on a machine translation of a Chinese-language article that in turn uses many Tibetan names, I’m sure there is a very high chance of mistranscribed or mistranslated names and titles, for which I can only apologize.)

This WeChat/Weixin article covers the Tibet SF table that was present in the fan area at the Worldcon.  Some extracts, via Google Translate, with manual edits:

The crowd in the hall was bustling and noisy, and the schedule of activities was full. However, many details were not satisfactory. The entire convention was not planned like a free and easygoing party, but more like a well-regulated exhibition. After all, the fan area was located in the lobby on the first floor, in a corner space.

I wandered around the exhibition area… and a line of familiar and unfamiliar fonts attracted my attention.  They read “In this way, Tibetans are a people with a long history. A nation with a history of science fiction literature and a great influence on various science fiction works in the world; Tibet is a treasure trove of science fiction decorated with faith and curiosity, as well as romance and enthusiasm.”

Are there actually elements of science fiction in the plateau tradition that I have lived with for many years? …

The table area was not large, and it was filled with Tibetan books with traditional bindings and modern designs. Two “roll-up banners” were placed at each side, displaying the text “Introduction to Tibetan Science Fiction Works” in Tibetan, Chinese and English, and a huge background board stood against the wall. Under the huge bilingual title “Tibetan Science Fiction Works”, there were posters for two film and television works, “2012” and “The Nine Billion Names of God”. Between the posters, an exquisite painting was hung…

[The author of the article in conversation with one of the people staffing the table]

Cang Gou: Could you name a traditional science fiction literary work that you think is representative [of Tibetan SF]?

Yun Dan: Yes, for example, I think the ancient Tibetan book “Semi”, which dates back more than a thousand years, is one of the earliest works with science fiction elements. It is a biography of a character, written in poetic form. It is written in a physical style, but it includes the science fictional element of exploring the universe. There is a phrase in the book: “The world is incredibly infinite.”  It mentions other forms of civilization beyond the earth, showing the insignificance of human beings. What we see is not the world as it is, and that many worlds are beyond our vision and understanding. Tibetan culture not only recognizes the existence of intelligent life on other planets, but also that some of the planets are much more civilized than the Earth we live on.

Cang Gou: This is a very interesting interpretation. Are there any works in traditional Tibetan literature that we would be more familiar with?

Yun Dan: Of course, the world-famous  “Epic of King Gesar” also contains elements of science fiction. Not only is it a “living epic” that is still being worked on, but it also mentions a lot of technological things. For example, the story “Conquering the Snowy Mountains and Crystal Kingdom”, created around the 17th century, describes a wooden aircraft that could seat 15 people . This aircraft was powered by an internal iron engine, allowing soldiers to fly long distances. “House Tales” records the legend of how a team of carpenters, blacksmiths and other craftsmen made an aeroplane that successfully flew into the sky. Other stories also mention “modern” equipment such as ships, wires, and rockets.  Most modern scholars believe that the Epic of King Gesar was created around the 11th to 13th centuries, so the “future” objects mentioned above could not really exist in that era, but from another perspective, they reflect traditional Tibetan literary works, with an extraordinary imagination…

Cang Gou: So are there any science fiction works in contemporary Tibetan literature?

Yun Dan: Yes, for example, there is a story called “The End of the Moon” in Thondup Tsering‘s novels, in which in a future world, a child asks his grandfather, why is there no moon in the sky?  His Grandpa explains that a long time ago, due to the development of industrialization, humans destroyed the Earth’s environment, and furthermore, because of uncontrolled selfishness and greed, they then set their sights on the moon. In order to obtain mineral deposits, they chose to blow up the moon, regardless of [the impact on] future generations.  Such science fiction stories also have strong realistic criticism and warning significance. In addition, there are also science fiction poems such as “Ping” and “Home” in my own “Collected Poems of Gao Yun”, and other authors have published [SFnal work] in “Gongga Mountain”, “Tibetan Literature”, “Zhangchar” and other publications, but overall the number is relatively small…

Cang Gou: What do you think of the current situation of Tibetan science fiction?

Yun Dan: In actuality, Tibetans are a very imaginative nation, and there are a lot of science fiction genes in their traditional culture. However, we have not done enough research, organization and development in this area. The older generation may not understand it well. What does science fiction mean? Young people don’t have many opportunities to be exposed to science fiction works. Many people also don’t know how to rediscover and apply traditional culture from the perspective of science fiction. Therefore, the audience for science fiction works is very small, and the science fiction atmosphere in Tibet is very weak compared to China and overseas.

Cang Gou: How do you think we can promote the development of Tibetan science fiction?

Yun Dan: First of all, we need to discover more Tibetan science fiction elements in traditional culture, so that more young generations can like science fiction and develop a  science fictional mindset.  Secondly, we need a larger number of writers to participate in the creation, translation and dissemination of science fiction works. Thirdly, the government and the private sector should provide more support for science fiction creation and the dissemination of science fiction culture, and cultivate the science fiction cultural atmosphere in Tibet.

Articles about Hai Ya from a finance newsletter and his employer

This article from a financial news organization is a couple of weeks old, but I hadn’t got around to posting it before now.  It’s a fairly standard piece about the Best Novelette Winner, which came to my attention via a bilingual finance blog.  That has some extracts which I imagine are better translated than the Google Translate-sourced material that has been published here.  It also links to another interview with Hai Ya, which seems to be by the account of his employer, and which perhaps veers a little into advertorial territory in places.

There was also a Xiaohongshu post from his employer’s account.

Images from his employer’s Xiaohongshu post

Miscellaneous Xiaohongshu galleries

This one has a photo that shows the organizers were steadfastly refusing to acknowledge the reality that Lukyanenko wasn’t going to be at the con.  (As an aside, I’ve also seen post-con promotional material for the Liu/Sawyer/Lukyanenko anthology that refers to all three as Guests of Honour.)

Several Western attendees are pictured in this image set, posted by one of the con staff.

And finally a slightly random set of images.  I’m not sure which hotel some of these were taken in; maybe the Wyndham rather than the Sheraton close to the venue?

(5) GOT ONE JOE, GET SOME MORE. Justin Caravoulias shared “An incredibly Brief History Of G.I. Joe Action Figures” in the Heritage Auctions newsletter.

…The original G.I. Joe line was released in 1964 with soldiers representing the 4 branches of the military, each with clothing, gear, and weapons that were interchangeable. Additional outfits and gear were available in accessory kits sold separately as well. From 1964 to 1969, Hasbro released many different Military figures and expanded to international soldiers as well with their Soldiers of the World which included German, Japanese, British, French, and Australian fighters. Hasbro even released a fire truck with Crash Crew figure, a Canadian Mounty, and a female Nurse figure which is highly sought after today.

In 1969 as the Vietnam War became increasingly unpopular, G.I. Joe steered away from military toys and released adventure sets. By 1970, the “Adventure Team” G.I. Joe figures were no longer about military but about accomplishing special missions. This also mis when the “Kung-fu Grip” and “Lifelike Hair” were introduced. My first G.I. Joe as a child was a 12 Inch Adventure Team Land Adventurer that my mother purchased at a local yard sale. I still vividly recall playing with him among the planters in the living room next to our burgundy red 1960’s foam-cushioned couch….

(6) STEPPING INTO THE ANCIENT. “In search of strange and sacred sites – the UK’s weirdest walks” – the Guardian is tracking them down.

… And then, in the closing hours of the 20th century, came Julian Cope’s The Modern Antiquarian, a landmark practical tome for the would-be site-seeker, served up in its own mud-proof slipcase, synthesising archaeology, folklore, grid references, helpful full-colour maps, parking advice and a small smidgeon of Cope’s own eccentric interpretations, often later validated by reluctantly admiring academics. The stones were stages! Rock and roll! It was a game-changer, and Cope opened up the crack in the Devil’s Grave of our folkloric landscape to all, like the wizard of Alderley Edge.

But Weird Walk is not The Modern Antiquarian. If anything, the three Weird Walkers, whoever they may be, have returned the love of folk tales, ancient sites and the perambulations that lead one to their locations even more defiantly to the realm of the gentleman and gentlewoman amateurs who first documented them. The sensibly shod 17th-century parson, mapping the megaliths between funerals and marriages, and the aristocratic antiquary, pleading with some Cornish farmer to spare the collapsed burial chamber whose capstone he had earmarked for a pigsty, would recognise the Weird Walkers as kindred spirits. No one knows who they are, or what they are doing.

And yet, in their costly boots and cagoules, they seem to have stumbled into something. They walk the landscape in the shadows of the seasons as we used to experience them before they blurred, reminding us of how we once measured out the increments of our humanity, and etched it into rock and earth, in the annual cycles of rotting and rebirth. When we lose this knowledge, we are lost. We’re probably lost anyway to be honest, but fuck it, let’s go down drunk and walking weird.

Fernworthy Forest, Dartmoor, Devon

Dartmoor is a weird place; temporal dislocation comes with the territory. Wayfinding is not easy among this gorse, these rambling tors and secluded brooks. And when an autumn mist descends, you can be transported: a bronze age farmer to your left, a medieval tin miner to your right, and up ahead the lord of the manor has antiquarian ambitions. He’s just repositioned those stones. The earth gnomes don’t approve.

The stretch of moor between the storied Warren House Inn and the foreboding interwar plantation of Fernworthy Forest is classic Dartmoor; the grasses are thick underfoot and marshy ground emerges without warning, saturated by the capricious weather. Long ago, the moorland here would have rolled uninterrupted and Fernworthy’s ancient monuments would have been as exposed as their neighbours at Merrivale or the Grey Wethers. Now, the break with the moor is absolute, and dark evergreens offer up an entrance out of a Grimm’s tale. Once inside, the silent monoculture can provide even the warmest October day with an eerie chill.

Near the edge of the forest sits Assycombe double stone row, Fernworthy’s planters helpfully leaving a gap between the saplings for the stones to breathe. Although little known, it is a remarkable monument that seems to tumble down its grassy hill, the irregular miniliths descending like a dragon’s spine from an initial menhir to a large blocking stone at the foot of the slope.

Assycombe is one of the many stone rows on Dartmoor thought by early antiquarians, such as Richard Polwhele, to be “Druid ways”. They are scattered across the landscape, sometimes barely discernible, but always potent in their imaginative value. Walking these ancient lines creates an access point, a connection to those who walked them long ago….

(7) LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] More LearnedLeague specials.

You can find twelve questions about vampires here. (I got eleven right.)

And twelve more about “Haunted New England” here. (Only eight of these.)

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 6, 1907 Catherine Crook de Camp. Author and editor. Most of her work was done in collaboration with her husband L. Sprague de Camp, to whom she was married for sixty years. Her solo work was largely non-fiction. Her Science-Fiction Handbook was nominated for Retro Hugo at Noreascon 4, and Dark Valley Destiny: The Life of Robert E. Howard was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. Heinlein in part dedicated Friday to her. It is worth noting that she has been depicted in works by several authors, usually together with her husband. I’ll single out she appears in S. M. Stirling’s In the Courts of the Crimson Kings and Paul Malmont’s The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown. (Died 2000.)
  • Born November 6, 1936 Edmond G Addeo,  87. Author with Richard M Garvin of The FORTEC Conspiracy, a late Sixties SF novel set at Roswell that the X-Files could’ve used for source material. The Roswell conspiracy fanatics thought it was actually fact. 
  • Born November 6, 1948 Michael Dirda, 75. Currently book critic for the Washington Post. His connection to genre is a fascinating work entitled On Conan Doyle; or, The Whole Art of Storytelling which won the Edgar Award for Best Critical / Biographical Works in 2012 and which looks at his SF work as well. Also worth bringing to your attention is Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books which y’all should naturally be interested in reading.
  • Born November 6, 1951 Gary Ruddell, 72. Illustrator whose cover artwork for Dan Simmons’s Hyperion novel was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Original Artwork at ConFiction. I’m also fond of the work he did on the Liavek and Thieves’ World covers.
  • Born November 6, 1955 Catherine Ann Asaro, 68. She is best known for her books about the Ruby Dynasty, called the Saga of the Skolian Empire. When I wrote up this Birthday originally four years ago, I said, “I don’t think I’ve read them, so if you’ve read them, please do tell me about them.” Since then I’ve read The Jigsaw Assassin and it’s quite excellent indeed. The Quantum Rose won a Nebula as did “The Spacetime Pool” novella. And I would argue strongly that her magnificent “Ancient Ages” song is definitely genre in content. It’s available from the usual musical digital sources with her books available from the usual digital suspects. 
  • Born November 6, 1965 Sandra Newman, 58. She has two genre novels, both of which did well as mainstream fiction as well: The Country of Ice Cream Star, a near future dystopian feminist novel and The Heavens which may or may not involve time travel back to Elizabethian times. She also co-authored with Howard Mittlemark, How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them–A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld gives this model a day of rest, but not of arrest.

(10) FROM MCU TO MCFILMS. The New York Times review of MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios by Joanna Robinson, Dave Gonzales and Gavin Edwards shows “Why You Can’t Spell Hollywood Without Marvel”.

Hollywood doesn’t believe in immortals. From Mary Pickford to the MGM musical, Golden Age cowboys to teenage wizards, the city worships its gods only until their box-office power dims. So it feels audacious — if not foolhardy — to open “MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios” and find its authors, Joanna Robinson, Dave Gonzales and Gavin Edwards, declaring that it’s difficult to imagine a future where the Disney-owned superhero industrial complex “didn’t run forever.” Even Tony Stark, better known as Iron Man, has yet to engineer a perpetual motion machine.

Yet the three veteran pop culture journalists behind this detailed accounting of the company’s ascendancy have the numbers to support it. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, a constellation of solo superhero tales mixed with all-star team-ups, including four installments of “The Avengers,” is Hollywood’s most successful movie franchise of all time — 32 films that have grossed a combined $29.5 billion. By comparison, the book points out that the “Star Wars” series, Marvel’s nearest rival, has notched only 12 films and $10.3 billion.

Turning the pages — which are devoid of the usual, and unnecessary, glossy photo spreads — one realizes that superheroes are an X-ray lens into the last decade and a half of Hollywood disruption. Every upheaval gets a mention: corporate mergers; profit-losing streaming services; Chinese censorship; digitally scanned actors; social media cancellations; #MeToo and #OscarsSoWhite; the resurgence of a production-to-distribution vertical pipeline that hadn’t been legal since the 1948 Paramount Decree. Pity there’s no room to examine each in depth.

First, the origin story. In the ’90s, the former overseer of Marvel Enterprises, Ike Perlmutter (let’s give him the comic book nickname “The Pennypincher”), empowered his entertainment division to license its biggest stars for cheap, scattering Spider-Man, Hulk and the X-Men across other studios in service of selling more toys. (“MCU” familiarizes us with the marketing term “toyetic.”)…

(11) IF YOU WANT TO BE AN ACTOR, SEE MISTER FACTOR. “’Stranger Things’ Producer Says Season 5 Won’t Use AI To De-Age Actors” reports Deadline.

The final season of Stranger Things is still on pause, but even as the principal cast gets older, executive producer Shawn Levy doesn’t think the team will need to go to any extreme lengths to de-age them.

Levy, who also directed two pivotal Season 4 episodes, recently suggested that the producers would do whatever they could to make the kids’ aging seem less apparent, because it will have been several years since the previous season wrapped production.

However, in an interview with Deadline, he clarified that he didn’t mean to suggest any computer-generated assistance….

(12) A SHOW WITH A FUTURE. “’Futurama’ Renewed For Two More Seasons By Hulu”Deadline has the story.

Hulu has ordered two more seasons of the adult animated series Futurama.

The streamer revived the series in 2022 with a 20-episode order. Season 11 premiered July 24 on Hulu on and was on Nielsen’s Top 10 originals series list for six weeks.

Season 12 is expected to debut on Hulu in 2024. The 20-episode latest order is for Seasons 13 and 14…

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George shows the way things would have gone differently “If Ouija Boards Had Been Invented Today”.

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