Pixel Scroll 1/24/23 Reverse The Scrollarity Of The Pixel Flow

(1) CHICON 8 SHARES FEEDBACK. Chicon 8 chair Helen Montgomery today published the latest of her “Messages from the Chair” dealing with some postcon housekeeping, and with a long passage apologizing for or explaining some decisions that were made. Here are two of the most significant items.

Credit for Hugo Awards Finalists (Translators and Colorists)

S. Qiouyi Lu brought to our attention the exclusion of translators’ names from the written works in the “long listed” works in the detailed results for the 2022 Hugo Awards, explaining the importance of proper credit for translators in a Twitter thread here: https://twitter.com/sqiouyilu/status/1566762259187060736. We have posted a corrected set of detailed results at https://chicon.org/home/whats-happening/hugo-awards/, in which we have included the translators for the written works and colorists for the graphic novels. 

As part of the administration of the Hugo Awards, we endeavor to list all relevant creators on the final ballot presented to voters, and this includes confirming the correct ballot citations with Finalists themselves. The long list in the detailed results released after the Hugo Award ceremony is a different matter: it is required by the WSFS Constitution primarily for transparency into our processes, and has the side benefit of pointing folks to works that garnered significant community interest so they can go seek them out on their own. As noted in the detailed results, we do not vet the long list for eligibility and because the primary function of the long list is transparency into the process (which requires a table that is easy to parse), we do not list out full citations with all associated names, publishers, etc. We truncate references to all the works on the long list, listing authors for the written works, author/artist for the graphic stories, and no names at all for the Best Dramatic Presentations and magazines. 

Taking into account feedback from S. Qiouyi Lu and other members of the community, we have come to understand that the work of translators of written works is as fundamental to the work as the authors, and that where one is listed, both should be. We have made corrections to the translated long list works in the 2022 detailed results accordingly. For similar reasons, we are also adding the colorists and cover artists, where they are cited, to the graphic novel listings in the 2022 long list works. 

Thank you to S. Qiouyi Lu and everyone else in the community who has worked with us on this issue.

Hugo Awards Ceremony

We would like to discuss two incidents that occurred during the Hugo Awards Ceremony.

First, we would like to apologize to Marguerite Kenner, Finalist in the Best Fanzine category for The Full Lid, whose name was not read aloud during the ceremony. This was simply a mis-read by our ceremony hosts, who did immediately reach out personally to Ms. Kenner after the ceremony to apologize as well.

Second, there were concerns raised online during the Best Semiprozine category presentation when the audience laughed at the discrepancy between the slide listing the names of the Strange Horizons team and what was said aloud. While we spoke with all Finalists and agreed upon the language to be used on the slides and in the presentation, we acknowledge that we did not properly explain to the audience the context and conversation around not reading out the names of everyone on the Strange Horizons team. We also did not properly support our hosts by putting them in this situation. We will be speaking to future Worldcons to pass on our advice and experience in the hope to avoid similar situations in the future. 

Other items include: an apology for the original name given to the “Future Worldcon Q&A Session” (“The Fannish Inquisition”), correction of errors in Hugo Awards list in the printed Souvenir Book (names misspelled, Astounding Award 2022 winner name listed); omissions of some credits for  the Hugo Awards Ceremony and Opening Ceremony; follow-up with the Airmeet team; Art Show feedback; complaints about badge lanyards; and reasons for having an electronic-only Pocket Program Guide.

(2) FIFTH SEASON RPG CROWDFUNDING. [Item by Eric Franklin.] Green Ronin has launched a Backerkit campaign for the Fifth Season RPG, using their tried-and-tested AGE system (which was also used in the Expanse RPG). “The Fifth Season Roleplaying Game”.

…You and your fellow players take the roles of members of such a community, working to overcome internal difficulties and external threats, in order to be ready when that inevitable Fifth Season comes. Are you a lifelong native of this place, someone everyone has recognized from childhood? Maybe you’re a more recent addition to the comm, someone who’s come from a distance, contributing something to the comm that makes the possibility of your secrets and past catching up to you worth it. Or perhaps you are an orogene, one who was born to sess the movements of the tectonic plates, gifted with a forbidden power to still the shaking earth and bleed heat in your environs away until frost coats everything in a perfect circle around you….

To let you know how it’s all going to work they’ve created “The Fifth Season Roleplaying Quickstart”, a free 45-page download at the link.

If you’re wondering what The Fifth Season RPG is like, you can find out right now. We’ve got a free PDF Quickstart that has an introduction to the Stillness, basic rules to play, pre-generated characters, and a complete adventure. Reading it, or better yet playing it, will give the best introduction to what The Fifth Season RPG is all about…

(3) WHERE ARE THE WATCHMEN? “Doomsday Clock moves to 90 seconds to midnight, signaling more peril than ever” reports NPR.

The world is closer to catastrophe than ever: the Doomsday Clock, the metaphorical measure of challenges to humanity, was reset to 90 seconds before midnight on Tuesday.

The science and security board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said the move — the closest to widespread calamity humanity has ever been judged to be — was “largely, though not exclusively” due to the war in Ukraine.

The scientific body evaluates the clock each January. This is the first full update since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began last February, triggering a war in Europe and a new flood of refugees….

(4) LIVE FROM DEVELOPMENT HELL. Eva Green was cast for A Patriot, a science fiction movie about “a Border Corps captain in an authoritarian futuristic state”, a movie that’s not getting made while she and the producers are suing each other: “‘Evil’, ‘peasants’ and ‘vomit’ – Eva Green’s WhatsApp messages exude star quality” in the Guardian.

A lot of Eva Green’s success is down to her sense of unknowable mystique. This is a woman who steers clear of the celebrity circuit, who isn’t given to blurting her every waking thought on social media. Interviewers perennially struggle to get to her core. Since her breakthrough in Bertolucci’s The Dreamers almost two decades ago, Green has preferred to let her work speak on behalf of her. She is an enigma, an image on a screen upon which we can project our own feelings.

Or at least she was, because loads of Eva Green’s WhatsApp messages have been read out in court, and hoo boy!

Let’s deal with the court case briefly. In 2019, Green signed up for A Patriot, a science fiction movie that would also star Charles Dance and Helen Hunt. The film – about a Border Corps captain in an authoritarian futuristic state – was never made. When the production hit the skids, Green sued producers for her £830,000 fee (almost a quarter of the film’s total budget). And this caused the producers to countersue, claiming that the reason the film was never made was because Eva Green tried to sabotage it. She argues that she did everything that she could to fulfil the terms of her contract and denies “in its entirety” the allegation that she did not want the project to succeed….

(5) ROOM FOR DOUBT. Call Lincoln Michel a skeptic: “Maybe the Book Doesn’t Need to Be ‘Disrupted’ in the First Place?” at Counter Craft.

…In the intervening years, I’ve seen countless versions of enhanced books hyped. Last year, there were articles about how “web 3” and crypto would completely change publishing by [something something string of jargon] block chain! All the magazines publishing daily articles on Web 3 and NFTs have stopped talking about them, seemingly in embarrassment as the crypto space has been exposed as a series of Ponzi schemes. (The crypto crowd is too busy focusing on “disrupting” the legal system to keep themselves out of jail to innovate the novel, I guess.) So naturally everyone who, last year, was declaring crypto would revolutionize every aspect of life have pivoted to saying “A.I.” will revolutionize every aspect of life. And, like the tweet above, that means lots of predictions about how the book will be disrupted. (Commenters to the above tweet also suggested putting books in the “metaverse” so you can “live” books instead of read them, whatever that means…)

I’m on the record as a bit of an “A.I” skeptic. And I’m putting A.I. in scare quotes because a computer program that spits out text it doesn’t understand is not an “intelligence” really. (Renaming “software” as “A.I.” was a very clever marketing coup. People freak out when they hear an “A.I.” did something like win a spelling bee even though no one would be terribly impressed to hear a computer program with a built-in dictionary did that.) …

(6) LIKE A VIRGIN. Leonard Maltin is ecstatic about “My First-Ever Oscar Vote”.

I’ve been watching the Oscars since I was a kid, and writing about them for decades, but this year I did something I never dreamt of during all that time: I cast a vote.

Last year, I was admitted to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in the At-Large category. (There is no branch representing authors, critics, or preservationists.) As awards season began it dawned on me that I was actually going to participate in this year’s Oscars.

My invitation to vote came about two weeks ago, with a deadline of January 17. As I continued to catch up with foreign-language films, indies, and documentaries I put off voting until Monday, one full day before deadline. The deed didn’t take long, as I was only qualified to cast one vote: for Best Picture.

In the first stage of the awards process, members of the Academy’s branches determine the nominees in each specialized category. Only writers nominate writers, only makeup artists nominate makeup artists, and so on….

(7) FIVE TOP CATS. [Item by Nina Shepardson.] Tor.com has an article about cats in fantasy. Given that File770 has a feature called “Cats Sleep on SFF”, I figured Filers might be interested…. “Admiring Five of Fantasy’s Best Cats” by Cole Rush.

I’ve always thought cats are the perfect companion for the bookish. You never have to put down your book to take a cat for a walk. Instead, our feline friends will curl up on our laps while we dive into our latest fantasy obsessions, as though they’re tiny, fuzzy dragons lounging atop their hoard.

While I have nothing but love and respect for dogs—whether they’re real-life canines or fictional good boys—I feel a special kind of appreciation when a fantasy story contains a cat. Below, I’ll list five of my favorite fantasy felines and briefly discuss whether they’d make good real-world pets….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

2004 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Medicine Road by Charles de Lint

Ok, I’ll admit, it is not about food, but it’s a bar which is sort of related to food, isn’t it? Ok I’m stretching things this time. I’ll admit though The Hole does have food and de Lint (with permission of course) borrowed it from Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife.

The quote this time is from Charles de Lint’s Medicine Road which involves the grown up versions of the Dillard Sisters who we last encountered in his children’s book, A Circle of Cats. Here they are folk singers touring the Southwest when they encounter the more mythic aspects of that region. 

Medicine Road was one of a series of shorter novels by de Lint that were  illustrated by Charles Vess which published by Subterranean Press. Seven Wild Sisters, in which we first met Bess and Laurel, who are another of his sister characters.  Both are lovely books as objects and damn fine reads as well. 

Here’s my chosen quote. 

We’d just finished playing our first set at the Hole, in Tucson, Arizona, and were getting ready to take our break. The place was properly called the Hole in the Wall, but when we asked directions to the Barrio Historica at the front desk of our hotel, the guy with the purple hair told us everyone just calls it the Hole. He also told us that it’s a pretty much a dive, but he should see the roadhouses back home in the Kickaha Mountains. This old adobe building, right on the edge of the barrio, is like a palace compared to some of the places we’ve played in Tyson County.

And it’s trés cool, as Frenchy’d say.

You come in off the street into a warren of rooms with saguaro rib ceilings, thick adobe walls, beautifully carved oak doors, and weathered wood plank floors. It smells of mesquite and beer, cigarette smoke and salsa. The band posters on the walls advertise everything from Tex-Mex and Cajun to bluegrass, reggae and plain old rock ‘n’ roll.

But the best part is that once you’ve threaded your way through the maze of little inner rooms you come out into a central courtyard, open to the sky. Clematis vines crawl up the walls. Mismatched tables are scattered across a cracked tile floor. And there, under the spreading branches of a mesquite tree, is the stage where we’ve been playing.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 24, 1911 C. L. Moore. Author and wife of Henry Kuttner until his death in 1958. Their collaboration resulted in such delightful works as “Mimsy Were the Borogoves” and “Vintage Season”, both of which were turned into films which weren’t as good as the stories. She had a strong writing career prior to her marriage as well with such fiction as “Shambleau” which involves her most famous character Northwest Smith. I’d also single out “Nymph of Darkness” which she wrote with Forrest J Ackerman. I’ll not overlook her Jirel of Joiry, one of the first female sword and sorcery characters, and the “Black God’s Kiss” story is the first tale she wrote of her adventures. She retired from writing genre fiction after Kuttner died, writing only scripts for writing episodes of SugarfootMaverickThe Alaskans and 77 Sunset Strip, in the late Fifties and early Sixties. Checking the usual suspects, Deversion Books offers a nearly eleven-hundred page collection of their fiction for a mere three bucks. (Died 1987.)
  • Born January 24, 1917 Ernest Borgnine. I think his first genre role was Al Martin in Willard but if y’all know of something earlier I’m sure you’ll tell me. He’s Harry Booth in The Black Hole, a film whose charms still escape me entirely. Next up for him is the cabbie in the superb Escape from New York. In the same year, he was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor as Isaiah Schmidt in the horror film Deadly Blessing. A few years late, he’s The Lion in a version of Alice in WonderlandMerlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders is horror and his Grandfather isn’t that kindly. He voices Kip Killigan in Small Soldiers which I liked, and I think his last role was voicing Command in Enemy Mind. Series wise let’s see…  it’s possible that his first SF role was as Nargola on Captain Video and His Video Rangers way back in 1951. After that he shows up in, and I’ll just list the series for the sake of brevity, Get SmartFuture CopThe Ghost of Flight 401Airwolf where of course he’s regular cast, Treasure Island in Outer Space and Touched by an Angel. (Died 2012.)
  • Born January 24, 1937 Julie Gregg. A performer that showed up in a lot of SFF series though never in a primary role. She was in Batman: The Movie as a Nightclub Singer (uncredited) in her first genre role, followed by three appearances on the series itself, two as the Finella character; one-offs on I Dream of GenieBewitchedThe Flying NunMission: ImpossibleKolchak: The Night Stalker and Incredible Hulk followed. Her only lead role was as Maggie Spencer in Mobile One which can’t even be stretched to be considered genre adjacent. (Died 2016.)
  • Born January 24, 1941 Gary K. Wolf, 82. He is best known as the author of Who Censored Roger Rabbit? which was adapted into Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It bears very little resemblance to the film. Who P-P-P-Plugged Roger Rabbit? which was written later hews much closer to the characters and realties of the film. He has written a number of other novels such as Amityville House of Pancakes Vol 3 which I suggest you avoid at all costs. Yes they are that awful. 
  • Born January 24, 1944 David Gerrold, 79. Let’s see… He of course scripted the Hugo nominated “The Trouble With Tribbles” which I absolutely love, wrote the amazing patch-up novel When HARLIE Was One, has his ongoing War Against the Chtorr series and wrote, with Robert J. Sawyer, Boarding the Enterprise: Transporters, Tribbles, and the Vulcan Death Grip in Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek. Besides his work as a novel writer, he’s been a screenwriter for Star Trek, Star Trek: The Animated Series, Land of the Lost, Logan’s Run (the series), Superboy, Babylon 5, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Sliders, Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II, and Axanar. Very, very impressive.
  • Born January 24, 1949 John Belushi. No, he was not in a single SFF series or film that I can mention here though he did voice work on one such undertaking early in his career that I’ll not mention here as it’s clearly pornographic in nature. No, he’s here for his brilliant parody of Shatner as Captain Kirk which he did on Saturday Night Live which you can watch here. (Died 1982.)
  • Born January 24, 1984 Remi Ryan, 39. You most likely remember as her as ever-so-cute hacker urchin in RoboCop 3 who saves the day at the end of that film. She actually had her start in acting in Beauty and the Beast at four and was in The Flash a year later. At twelve, she’s in Mann & Machine. A year later is when she’s that urchin. Her last genre undertaking was in The Lost Room a decade ago and she retired from acting not long after.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • From Tom Gauld.

(11) JUST A SECOND. “Guns and Nonsense: Part 2” is today’s installment of Camestros Felapton’s analysis of Larry Correia’s newly released nonfiction book In Defense of the 2nd Amendment.

… It is reasonable to say that Larry Correia uses biting sarcasm, opinions differ on whether his wit is incisive and I’ve always found that what logic he uses is supremely vincible. Maybe that’s me. However, [Nick] Searcy [author of the Foreword] does focus on the central quality of Correia’s approach to examining topics of the day: mockery. Michael Moore is a large man and hence somebody who can be mocked and once mocked his opinions can be dismissed. In reality, Moore is far from infallible and his documentaries are far from flawless but engaging with them takes effort and it is so much easier to make a quick dig about over-eating and be done.

Mockery is a recurring rhetorical device in Correia’s style of argumentation and it is what his readership enjoys. He does attempt some arguments of substance but the overall thrust of his approach is not to show that an opinion is incorrect but that it is an opinion that can be mocked or dismissed. To this extent, Searcy is accurately getting to the guts of this book. The point is not to show gun control adherents as wrong but as foolish and contemptible….

(12) I SING THE LYRIC ELECTRIC. Rich Lynch took ChatGPT for a “test drive” and sent File 770 a screencap of the results.

(13) DOWNLOAD THE BIG BUCKS. Meanwhile, Microsoft has moved from the test drive stage to the heavy investor stage. “Microsoft to Invest $10 Billion in OpenAI, the Creator of ChatGPT” reports the New York Times.

Microsoft said on Monday that it was making a “multiyear, multibillion-dollar” investment in OpenAI, the San Francisco artificial intelligence lab behind the experimental online chatbot ChatGPT.

The companies did not disclose the specific financial terms of the deal, but a person familiar with the matter said Microsoft would invest $10 billion in OpenAI.

Microsoft had already invested more than $3 billion in OpenAI, and the new deal is a clear indication of the importance of OpenAI’s technology to the future of Microsoft and its competition with other big tech companies like Google, Meta and Apple.

With Microsoft’s deep pockets and OpenAI’s cutting-edge artificial intelligence, the companies hope to remain at the forefront of generative artificial intelligence — technologies that can generate text, images and other media in response to short prompts. After its surprise release at the end of November, ChatGPT — a chatbot that answers questions in clear, well-punctuated prose — became the symbol of a new and more powerful wave of A.I….

(14) DRONES SHOT DOWN? “Amazon drone unit hit with layoffs as long-awaited program launches”CNBC has the story.

In 2013, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos appeared on CBS’ “60 Minutes” to reveal a futuristic plan his company had been secretly pursuing to deliver packages by drone in 30 minutes. 

A pre-recorded demo showed an Amazon-branded “octocopter” carrying a small package off a conveyor belt and into the skies to a customer’s home, landing smoothly in the backyard, dropping off the item and then whizzing away. Bezos predicted a fleet of Amazon drones could take to the skies within five years and said, “it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

A decade later, Amazon is finally starting to launch drone deliveries in two small markets through a program called Prime Air. But just as it’s finally getting off the ground, the drone program is running squarely into a sputtering economy and CEO Andy Jassy’s widespread cost-cutting efforts.

CNBC has learned that, as part of Amazon’s plan to slash 18,000 jobs, its biggest headcount reduction in history, Prime Air is losing a significant number of employees…. 

(15) GOOD DEED FOR THE DAY. Ready to move on from fandom? This sounds like a great substitute. “A ‘Big Night’ for Newts, and for a California Newt Brigade” in the New York Times.

…What the newts need now is a safe way to get to their rendezvous points. In many places, busy roads lie between newts and their breeding grounds. In Petaluma and other parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, thousands of newts are killed by cars each year as they try to cross these roads. The carnage in Petaluma is so severe that a group of local residents has taken it upon themselves to stop it.

For the past four years, volunteers have spent their winter nights shepherding newts across a one-mile stretch of Chileno Valley Road, a winding country road in the hills of Petaluma. They call themselves the Chileno Valley Newt Brigade, and their founder, Sally Gale, says they will keep showing up until the newts no longer need them.

On a warm, wet evening in early December, Ms. Gale and her fellow brigaders gathered to do what they do best: save newts. Wearing reflective vests and armed with flashlights and buckets, Ms. Gale and her brigaders split up into groups and began scouring Chileno Valley Road. The conditions were perfect for newts. It had just rained and the temperature was a brisk 55 degrees.

“That’s their sweet spot,” Ms. Gale said.

…On busy nights, as many as 24 volunteers gather on the road to spend their evening shepherding newts to safety.

“It’s such a huge cross-section of people, and we haven’t met a bad one yet,” said Katie Brammer, a graphic designer and newt brigade captain. Among her fellow volunteers are schoolteachers, students, naturalists, business owners and retirees.

Ms. Brammer and her husband, Rick Stubblefield, have been newt brigade captains for just over a year. They say it’s the charisma of the newts that got them hooked on helping.

“California newts are quite endearing,” Ms. Brammer said. “They hold onto your hand as you’re carrying them across the road.”…

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. This has been out for awhile, however, it may not have been linked here before. “Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania”. To be released February 17.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/16/22 I Think There Is A World Market For About Five Pixel Scrolls

(1) BAD NEWS FOR SFF MAGAZINES. [Item by rcade.] Neil Clarke posted on Mastodon that Amazon has informed Clarkesworld that it is ending Kindle Subscriptions in 2023 and trying to get magazines to move to Kindle Unlimited:

In an absolutely devastating announcement (right before the holidays) Amazon has informed us that they are ending their Kindle Subscription program in 2023 and trying to get magazines to switch to Kindle Unlimited. Asking for more details, but this is bad. Magazine subscriptions are guaranteed revenue from each subscriber. KU is not like that. It will effectively cancel thousands of subscriptions since there’s no migration path.

It’s hard to even say how much we’d get from a single subscriber. This completely removes our ability to control our price if we want to be in the dominant ebook ecosystem.
I’ve scheduled an appointment to talk with Amazon later this afternoon. Have many questions. Fellow editors of mags on Amazon: feel free to DM/email me. We should be talking.

(2) LOTS OF BUZZ. Cora Buhlert returns with a new “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Honeypot’”.

This story is called “Honeypot” and the star is not He-Man for once, but another member of the Masters of the Universe (which was originally just the name of the toyline, until the 2002 cartoon made it the name of the heroic warrior team, something most subsequent versions kept), namely Buzz-Off.

(3) AN INTERVIEW WITH MATT RUFF. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] An interview with Matt Ruff by Moid over at Media Death Cult. Despite discouragement Matt Ruff has always been a writer, it’s what he was born to do. His novel Lovecraft Country was adapted into a HBO TV show.

Matt Ruff, as he says at the start of the interview, is largely unknown in Great Britain, unlike his native US, but originally was most popular in Germany. I certainly never heard of him (though was aware of the show Lovecraft Country) so I did a word search on SF2 Concatenation’s news section on the basis that the majority of the specialist genre imprints – and a few ancillary ones – send their catalogues for their titles to be added to its news pages’ forthcoming books sections. I only found the novel Lovecraft Country listed in awards news as well as the book listings. It is published over here by Picador. Picador is a respected imprint in the UK but not especially noted for having an SF/F focus (despite having published some very worthy SF/F – they have a broader ‘literary’ camp). Picador’s PR folk don’t normally proactively reach out to us, though they are good at responding when we hear of relevant news and get in touch with them. Picador belongs to the Macmillan group and Matt Ruff might want to consider moving to Macmillan’s Tor (UK) if he wants more attention from Britain’s SF/F reading community…? (Just saying.) (Don’t know who publishes him in the US.)

(4) EXCELSIOR AWARD NOMINEES. Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden are shortlisted for Excelsior Awards for Hellboy: The Bones of Giants, and Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran are shortlisted for Chivalry, both published by Dark Horse Comics. “Excelsior Award Red 2023”.

The Excelsior Awards are chosen by students in over 200 schools in the UK. The Excelsior Award is split up into four different shortlists: Access the entire range of Excelsior Award shortlists 2023 at the link.

  • Excelsior Award White, for students aged 9 and over (Key Stage 2)
  • Excelsior Award Blue, for students aged 11 and over (Key Stage 3)
  • Excelsior Award Red, for students aged 14 and over (Key Stage 4)
  • Excelsior Award Black, for students aged 16 and over (Sixth Form)

Each shortlist consists of five books (graphic novels and/or manga) that will cost no more than £65. 

(5) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to dive into dim sum with Randee Dawn in episode 187 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Randee Dawn

Randee Dawn’s debut novel, the humorous pop culture fantasy Tune in Tomorrow, was released in August by Rebellion Publishing. She’s a former editor at The Hollywood Reporter and Soap Opera Digest, and these days covers show business for VarietyThe Los Angeles TimesEmmy Magazine, and Today.com. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and online publications such as Stories We Tell After MidnightEven in the GraveAnother World: Stories of Portal Fantasy, and more.

She co-edited the anthology Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles. Her love of all things Law & Order led her to appear in one episode and later co-author The Law & Order: SVU Unofficial Companion. Once a month she hosts Rooftop Readings at Ample Hills Creamery in Brooklyn.

We discussed the way her soap opera and gaming backgrounds led to the creation of her fantasy debut novel Tune in Tomorrow, what made her decide it was time for her to write funny, why her first instinct is always to turn her ideas into novels rather than short stories, how Law & Order fan fiction conquered her fears of showing her writing to others (and eventually led to her appearing as extra on the franchise), the reason she doesn’t read her reviews, and much more.

(6) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES. Space Cowboy Books’ Simultaneous Times podcast episode 58 features these stories:

“The Hand, The Face” by Megan Engelhardt
music by Fall Precauxions

“Cave Art” by Xauri’EL Zwaan
music by Phog Masheeen

Find the podcast here.

(6) RECOMMENDED. “Avatar: On The Cutting Edge” – movie critic Leonard Maltin is very positive about the sequel.

I surrender. It’s easy to poke holes in James Cameron’s films because of awkward dialogue or glib characterizations or his propensity for staging climaxes to his climaxes. But I was completely taken in by Avatar: The Way of Water and overwhelmed by its fluid, kinetic action scenes, eye-popping production design and propulsive storytelling….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1991 [By Cat Eldridge.] Eeyore, Piglet, Winnie the Pooh and the Hunny Pot, Newton Free Library, Newton, Massachusetts 

You didn’t think we’d pass this up, did you? It’s a most stellar group of statues of Eeyore, Piglet, Winnie the Pooh and the Hunny Pot at the Newton Free Library in Newton, Massachusetts.

They were sculpted by Nancy Schön who is best known for the  “Make Way for Ducklings” sculpture in the Boston Public Garden (which has had two stolen since it was first installed — bad people! Yes, she sculpted new ducklings to replace them.)

All are in honor of young children who have departed us. Piglet was commissioned by a woman who wanted us to celebrate the quite short life of her much-loved brother. She thought her brother was very much just like Piglet. He was timid, yet brave and he was quite able to conquer his fears, according to her, facing the reality of dying. 

Nancy notes of Pooh and the Hunny Pot that, “Sarah died on February 14, 2001. Her parents asked me to design a sculpture of Winnie-the-Pooh in her memory. I added a hunny pot for children to sit on, possibly to cheer Eeyore up. The sculpture was installed on May 12, 2002 with a plaque reading “For The Children of Newton From Sarah Oliver”.

Eyeore was the original statue that she did and was there alone for almost a decade as he was cast in bronze as they all were in 1991, and Pooh and the Hunny Pot in 2002. Piglet would join them eleven years later.

These are based the original illustrations in the A. A. Milne’s books which were illustrated by E. H. Shepard. They are closer in appearance to stuffed animals than the awful Disney version of these characters. For one, Pooh doesn’t have a shirt in the statue. (And of course those were Disney copyright.) 

Here they are with sculptor Nancy.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 16, 1917 Arthur C. Clarke. When I was resident in Sri Lanka courtesy of Uncle Sam in the early Eighties, nearly every American ex-pat I ran into was reading The Fountains of Paradise. The tea plantations he described therein are very awesome.  I never saw him but he was well known among the small British community there and I passed by his residence one day. I’ll admit that I’ve not read that much by him — Childhood’s EndRendezvous with Rama  and that novel are the only long form works by him I’ve read. I’ve read a lot of short fiction including of course Tales from The White Hart which I’ve read over and over. I’m certain I’ve read The Nine Billion Names of God collection as well. And I’ve seen 2001 myriad times but I’ve never seen the sequel. (Died 2008.)
  • Born December 16, 1927 Randall Garrett. Ahhh, Lord Darcy. When writing this up, I was gobsmacked to discover that he’d written only one such novel, Too Many Magicians, as I clearly remembered reading reading more than that number. Huh. That and two collections, Murder and Magic and Lord Darcy Investigates, is all there is of this brilliant series. Glen Cook’s Garrett P.I. is named in honor of Garrett.  I’ll admit I’ve not read anything else by him, so what else have y’all read? (Died 1987.)
  • Born December 16, 1928 Philip K. Dick. Dick has always been a difficult one for me to get a feel for. Mind you Blade Runner is my major touchstone for him but I’ve read the source material as well, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said which won a John W. Campbell Memorial Award, and I’ve read a lot of the shorter works, so I’d say that saying he’s a challenging writer is a Good Thing. I was surprised his only Hugo win for his fiction was for The Man in The High Castle at Discon though Blade Runner would pick up one at ConStellation.  (Died 1982.)
  • Born December 16, 1927 Peter Dickinson. Author who was married from 1991 to his death to Robin McKinley. He had a number of truly great works, both genre and not genre, including EvaThe Tears of the Salamander and The Flight of Dragons. His James Pibble upper class British mystery series are quite excellent as well. (Died 2015.)
  • Born December 16, 1957 — Mel Odom, 65. An author deep into mining franchise universes with work done into the BuffyverseOutlandersTime PoliceRogue Angel (which I’ve listen to a lot as GraphicAudio as produced them as most excellent audioworks) and weirder stuff such as the Left Behind Universe and Tom Clancy’s Net Force Explorers, both I think game tie-ins. 
  • Born December 16, 1961 — Jon Tenney, 61. He’s best known as Special Agent Fritz Howard on The Closer and continued in its spinoff Major Crimes, but he does have genre creds. He played Jimmy Wells in The Phantom, Martin Jordon in Green Lantern, and Lt. Ching in two episodes in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. He also showed up on Tales from the Crypt, Outer Limits and neXt
  • Born December 16, 1967 — Miranda Otto, 55. She was Éowyn in the second and third installments of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film franchise. (I stopped watching after The Fellowship of The Rings.) She‘s Zelda Spellman in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and Mary Ann Davis in Spielberg’s version of The War of The Worlds. She also played Wueen Lenore inI, Frankenstein which had an amazing cast even if the tomatometer at Rotten Tomatoes gives it a five percent rating meaning the critics really didn’t like it.

(9) KGB. Ellen Datlow has posted her photos from the December 14, 2022 gathering of the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series where Richard Kadrey and Cassandra Khaw each read sections of the forthcoming collaborative novel The Dead Take the A Train coming out from Nightfire.

(10) YIPPIE-AI-OH. David D. Levine has been making this sound pretty interesting – “Die Hard the Musical Parody” which will be a Funhouse Lounge streaming event on Christmas weekend.

In 2017, Funhouse Lounge presented its first original work of its kind, Die Hard the Musical Parody. It was a live stage version of the 1988 Willis/Rickman action classic, re-imagined as a musical. During its 3-year sold out run, it became a holiday tradition for many who came to see it.

We are happy to say it has returned this year, live on stage, for another sold-out run. However, we understand that given the current situation, many of you may not be comfortable gathering to see it. Or, you waited too long and didn’t get tickets. Or you don’t live nearby, but still like stuff that kicks ass. Or maybe you want to enjoy it with friends and family on that big screen TV at home. If any of these describe you, we have what you need.

We will have a recording of this year’s performance and it will be available to view streaming Christmas weekend. Showtimes are December 24th, 25th and 26th,

So, treat yourself to a present you deserve after another long hard year. Gather your family around the TV. Make your favorite hot drink, remembering that the drunker you are the funnier we are.

Levine also got a kind of onstage credit for donating to the production.

(11) TIME VS. GRAVITY. “Time rules everything around you. It’s also an illusion” explains NPR.

… The best-known force that stretches time is gravity. The more gravity somebody experiences, the slower time passes for them when compared to someone in a lower gravitational field.

The effect is miniscule compared to a human lifespan, but it is real and measurable. Boulder, Colo. is a mile above sea level. That means the gravitational field is slightly weaker, and time ticks by a little faster.

But modern technology can’t deal with flowy time like this. As a result, the timekeepers at Boulder and elsewhere make corrections to ensure these different flows of time look like they’re ticking in lock-step….

(12) ALSO SPRACH MATTEL. The Barbie teaser trailer is a hilarious take on 2001: A Space Odyssey. Margot Robbie is Barbie, Ryan Gosling is Ken in the new film.

(13) TANGLED UP IN BLUE. Perhaps the sequel to the Avatar skit we ran yesterday from The Late Late Show With James Corden: “Zoe Saldaña Is Crazy About Anything Blue”.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/24/22 Labyrinth of Chaos

(1) EU TURN. BBC Future explores the meaning of “Eucatastrophe: Tolkien’s word for the ‘anti-doomsday’”.

…In particular, Tolkien wrote about what makes a happy ending so powerful in stories. And to do so, he came up with an intriguing coinage: fairy stories, he suggested, often feature a “eucatastrophe” – this was, he suggested, a “good” catastrophe. So, what exactly did he mean? And could such events happen in real life too?

In the present day, Tolkien’s idea of the “good catastrophe” has attracted the attention of scholars who study existential risk and humanity’s future prospects. It turns out that eucatastrophes may matter beyond fairy stories – and identifying the conditions that lead to them could be necessary if we want to thrive as a species.

According to Tolkien, a eucatastrophe in a story often happens at the darkest moment. When all seems lost – when the enemy seems to have won – a sudden “joyous turn” for the better can emerge. It delivers a deep emotional reaction in readers: “a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart”, he wrote….

(2) CLOSE LOOK AT THE CLARKE FINALISTS. The winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award will be announced on Wednesday. Andrew Butler, chair of judges, discusses the finalists in detail in “The Best Science Fiction of 2022: The Clarke Award Shortlist” at Five Books.

Let’s talk about Deep Wheel Orcadia by the Scottish writer Harry Josephine Giles. It’s a novel-in-verse, which takes a very interesting literary approach. Can you tell us more?

Novels-in-two-verses, you might argue. One in Orcadian, one in English. Orcadian is a dialect of Scots—as opposed to Gaelic—and there’s a history of Scots feeding into science fiction and horror, especially Gothic horror. In 1919, someone came up with the idea of the Caledonian antisyzygy—the Scots think in one language, but feel in another, say. There’s a sort of divided consciousness at the centre of Scottish books, poetry and art—and we can trace this division in authors such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Iain M. Banks and many others.

I think I can relate to that.

The action of Deep Wheel Orcadia is mostly set on or close to an isolated space station, at a crisis point in the solar system, and focuses on the working and private lives of the characters on board. You could decide to read the Orcadian version and then the English, or vice versa, or just one—but you’d miss so much if you only read half. I think you can pick up the Orcadian, as you might the Riddleyspeak in Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker….

(3) SCORING SFF. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to this 2017 podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin had with composer Michael Giacchino. You knew this would be a great interview because Giacchino begins the interview by saying that when he’s in the car, he listens to old-time radio and his favorite show is the sf show X Minus One. Leonard Maltin wrote a very good book about old time radio and he and Giacchino geek out about radio for many minutes.  Most of the rest of the interview was how Giacchino got his start; he graduated from the School of Visual Arts with postgraduate work at Julliard. He ended up scoring video games and got a big break from Steven Spielberg that led to his scoring “The Lost World” video game. Another big break led to Giacchino writing the score for The Incredibles after John Barry, who originally was offered the job, declined.

I think Giacchino is the best active film composer and he also gets credit for hiring veteran musicians who have all their skills but may need help with technology or disabilities. Between 85-90 percent of Giacchino’s work is for sf or fantasy films, so this should be of interest. Maltin on Movies: “Michael Giacchino”.

(4) KEN BURNS TURNS THE PAGE. In the New York Times: “Ken Burns Wishes More People Would Call Willa Cather a Great American Novelist”, however, he also reads sff.

What books are on your night stand?

I have a pretty big night stand. … and then I have Kim Stanley Robinson’s “New York 2140,” which is a really wonderful book, imagining a less dystopian future. It does have disasters and climate change, but it also has sort of human adaptability, and it’s really spectacular. 

Do you have favorite genres and genres that you avoid?

I don’t like horror. I had a big science fiction thing in high school and college and I haven’t read science fiction in ages and ages. I used to read religiously Roger Zelazny and now I can’t even find his books on a bookshelf at a reputable bookstore. But everything else is kind of open. I like good writing. One writer I love is Willa Cather. People say, Was it Melville or Hemingway or Twain who wrote the great American novel, meaning “Moby-Dick” or “A Farewell to Arms” or obviously “Huckleberry Finn,” where, as Hemingway rightly said, American literature begins. But what about “O Pioneers!” or “My Ántonia”? For that matter, what about Gabriel García Márquez? We do not have a copyright on the word “American.”

(5) BUSCH COMMEMORATED. First Fandom President John L. Coker III announced a tribute to the late Justin E. A. Busch who died October 21.

Last week, after I learned about his grave condition, I had an award plaque made.  It is the seldom-given First Fandom Merit Award, “Presented to Justin E. A. Busch for attaining excellence in his work.”  He didn’t live long enough to see it but I would like for it to be at least a small part of his legacy.

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1984 [By Cat Eldridge.] Ray Bradbury’s A Memory of Murder

Ray Bradbury’s A Memory of Murder is a collection of fifteen of his mystery short stories published thirty-eight years ago by Dell. They first appeared from 1944 to 1948 in pulp magazines owned by Popular Publications, Inc. that specialized in detective and crime fiction.

Bradbury wasn’t that happy with these stories as he thought he hadn’t developed yet as a writer and made that well known more than once later on. As he said in an interview with Crime Time, “When my first detective mystery stories began to appear in Dime DetectiveDime Mystery MagazineDetective Tales, and Black Mask in the early ’40s, there was no immediate trepidation over in the Hammett-Chandler-Cain camp. The fact is, it didn’t develop later either. I was never a threat. I couldn’t, in the immortal words of Marlon Brando, have been a contender.”

The stories themselves numbered fifteen in total with titles such as “A Careful Man Dies” from New Detective Magazine in November 1946). The cover blurb was “For a hemophiliac, no object is innocent, and even a kiss can kill!” It was one of Bradbury’s stories that filmed in 2005, this time by Italian backers and producers. 

Another one, “It Burns Me Up!” from Dime Mystery Magazine in November 1944 carried the wonderfully chilling first line of “I am lying here in the very centre of the room and I am not mad, I am not angry, I am not perturbed” it serves as a great reminder that some of his stories got turned comics, see Ray Bradbury Comics, Number 3, published in 1993.

I’ll let Ed Gorman have the last word as he reviewed this collection over on his blog in his column Forgotten Books. He said of his favorite story, “The most interesting story is ‘The Long Night.’ I remember the editor who bought it writing a piece years later about what a find it was. And it is. A story set in the Hispanic area of Los Angeles during the war, it deals with race and race riots, with the juvenile delinquency that was a major problem for this country in the war years (remember The Amboy Dukes?) and the paternal bonds that teenage boys need and reject at the same time. A haunting, powerful story that hints at the greatness that was only a few years away from Bradbury.” 

It went of print immediately but the paperback is fairly easy to find at the usual sellers.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 24, 1893 Merian Cooper. Aviator, Writer, Director and Producer. After spending WWI in the Air Force, Cooper became a writer and researcher for The New York Times and later the American Geographic Society, traveling the world, and writing stories and giving lectures about his travels. He then turned some of his writing into documentary films. He had helped David Selznick get a job at RKO Pictures, and later Selznick hired him to make movies. He developed one of his story ideas into a movie featuring a giant gorilla which is terrorizing New York City. King Kong was released in 1933, and the story has been sequeled, remade, comicbooked, and rebooted innumerable times in the last 85 years. (Died 1973.) (JJ) 
  • Born October 24, 1915 Bob Kane. Writer and Artist who co-created, along with Bill Finger, the DC character Batman. Multiple sources report that “Kane said his influences for the character included actor Douglas Fairbanks’ movie portrayal of the swashbuckler Zorro, Leonardo da Vinci’s diagram of the ornithopter, a flying machine with huge bat-like wings; and the 1930 film The Bat Whispers, based on Mary Roberts Rinehart’s mystery novel The Circular Staircase.” He was inducted into Jack Kirby Hall of Fame and the Will Eisner Hall of Fame. The character he created has been featured in countless comic books, stories, movies, TV series, animated features, videogames, and action figures in the last eight decades. The 1989 movie based on his creation, featuring Michael Keaton in the title role, was a finalist for both Hugo and British Science Fiction Association Awards. (Died 1998.)
  • Born October 24, 1948 Margaret “Peggy” Ranson. Artist, Illustrator, and Fan, who became involved with fandom when she co-edited the program book for the 1988 Worldcon in New Orleans. She went on to provide art for many fanzines and conventions, and was a finalist for the Best Fan Artist Hugo every one of the eight years from 1991 to 1998, winning once. She was Guest of Honor at several conventions, including a DeepSouthCon. Sadly, she died of cancer in 2016; Mike Glyer’s lovely tribute to her can be read here. (Died 2016.)
  • Born October 24, 1952 Jane Fancher, 70. Writer and Artist. In the early 80s, she was an art assistant on Elfquest, providing inking assistance on the black and white comics and coloring of the original graphic novel reprints. She adapted portions of C.J. Cherryh’s first Morgaine novel into a black and white comic book, which prompted her to begin writing novels herself. Her first novel, Groundties, was a finalist for the Compton Crook Award, and she has been Guest of Honor and Toastmaster at several conventions.
  • Born October 24, 1956 Katie Waitman, 66. Her best known work to date was the Compton Crook Award winning The Merro Tree in which a galaxy-spanning performance artist must defy a ban imposed on him. Her second novel, The Divided, appears to be bog standard military SF but really isn’t. Highly recommended.  
  • Born October 24, 1956 Dr. Jordin Kare. Physicist, Filker, and Fan who was known for his scientific research on laser propulsion. A graduate of MIT and Berkeley, he said that he chose MIT because of the hero in Heinlein’s Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. He was a regular attendee and science and filk program participant at conventions, from 1975 until his untimely death. He met his wife, Mary Kay Kare, at the 1981 Worldcon. He should be remembered and honored as being an editor of The Westerfilk Collection: Songs of Fantasy and Science Fiction, a crucial filksong collection, and later as a partner in Off Centaur Publications, the very first commercial publisher specializing in filk songbooks and recordings. Shortly after the shuttle Columbia tragedy, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, on live TV, attempted to read the lyrics to Jordin’s Pegasus Award-winning song “Fire in the Sky”, which celebrates manned space exploration. He was Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, and was named to the Filk Hall of Fame. Mike Glyer’s tribute to him can be read here. (Died 2017.) (JJ)
  • Born October 24, 1960 BD Wong, 62.  His first genre role was in Jurassic Park as Dr. Henry Wu (a role reprised in Jurassic World, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Jurassic Park Dominion). He was the voice of Captain Li Shang on Mulan, and Whiterose, head of the hacker collective Dark Army on Mr. Robot.
  • Born October 24, 1974 Liesel Schwarz, 48. She’s been dubbed, by whom I know not I admit, “The High Priestess of British Steampunk”. She has written the Chronicles of Light and Shadow trilogy, a sequence set in a Steampunk version of Europe in which the three novels are Chronicles of Light and ShadowA Clockwork Heart and Sky Pirates.
  • Born October 24, 1971 Sofia Samatar, 51. Teacher, Writer, and Poet who speaks several languages and started out as a language instructor, a job which took her to Egypt for nine years. She won the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and is the author of two wonderful novels to date, both of which I highly recommend: Stranger in Olondria (which won World Fantasy and British Fantasy Awards and was nominated for a Nebula) and The Winged Histories. Her short story “Selkie Stories are for Losers” was nominated for Hugo, Nebula, BSFA, and BFA Awards. She has written enough short fiction in just six years that Small Beer Press put out Tender, a collection which is a twenty-six stories strong. And she has a most splendid website. (Standback)

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Six Chix may be a comic but these characters are not overdrawn.
  • Tom Gauld on the perfect book cover. Almost.

(9) BULLPEN MEMORIES. “An iconic Daredevil writer and X-Men editor joins the pod to talk about taking translating stories from The Daily News into the Daily Bugle.” “The Girl From Marvel’s Boy-Club Bullpen Tells All About Old Times Square” in the FAQ NYC podcast.

Ann Nocenti, the writer, journalist and filmmaker who wrote and edited some of the most iconic Marvel comics of the late 1980s and early 1990s joins the podcast to discuss her early years in New York as “the girl who lived behind the fish tank,” quite literally, how her work in asylums influenced her stories about superheroes, creating Marvel’s first openly transgender character, the role of “fake news” in the comics she’s working on now, and much more. 

(10) NOT A ONE NIGHT STAND. Deadline lists the film adaptations of Howard Waldrop stories that George R.R. Martin is producing. “’House of the Dragon’ Creator George R.R. Martin On Short Film Anthology Including One With Felicia Day”.

Days before a Targaryen civil war erupts between Rhaenyra and Alicent on the Season 1 finale of HBO’s House of the Dragon, you’ll find series creator George R.R. Martin staying mum on fire-breathing animals and talking up his latest rotoscope animated short, Night of the Cootersin his Santa Fe, NM stomping ground.

The Vincent D’Onofrio-directed cowboys vs. aliens film based on the Howard Waldrop short story is one of four short movies Martin is producing in what is shaping up to be an anthology either for the big screen (a la Creepshow) or TV (a la Love, Death and Robots)…

In addition to Night of the Cooters, Martin recently finished production on the second title he owns from sci-fi author Waldrop. Currently titled Friends Forever, the short was directed by Justin Duval, a producer and DP on Night of the Cooters, and is currently in post.

Another short currently shooting in Santa Fe under the helm of Steven Paul Judd is Mary Margaret Road-Grader, which Martin billed as a “Native American Mad Max story about tractor pulls and feminism.”

Then there’s Waldrop’s most notable work, The Ugly Chickensabout the extinction of the dodo, which is about to shoot in Toronto with Kodachrome‘s Mark Raso directing….

(11) HOMES OF HORROR. Kelsey Ford lists “Haunted House Books That Will Keep You Up At Night” for readers of the PowellsBooks.Blog.

…In honor of spooky season (the best season), I’ve pulled together a by-no-means-exhaustive list of my favorite haunted house books, books with houses that exemplify the Shirley’s Jackson quote: “It was a house without kindness, never meant to be lived in, not a fit place for people or for love or for hope.”…

(12) MIDDLE EASTERN ANIMATION HIT. “Bidaya Blasts Back to the Future with Sci-Fi Show, ‘The Adventures of Mansour: Age of A.I.’”Animation Magazine has the story.

The Adventures of Mansour, a sci-fi cartoon phenomenon from the Middle East that’s racked up an astounding two billion YouTube hits, is returning with an all-new sequel series, The Adventures of Mansour: Age of A.I.  

Funded by Mubadala Investment Company and Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA), the dynamic adventure show is aimed at kids aged 6-12. This Mansour relaunch from Bidaya Media, recently announced at MIPCOM 2022, will be the first Arab cartoon first created in English and Arabic then realigned for a worldwide audience presenting topical themes of artificial intelligence, technology, climate change, and space exploration.

…Here’s the official description:

Set in the near future, in the technologically advanced Salam City, ‘The Adventures of Mansour: Age of AI’ is a sci-fi action adventure series that revolves around Mansour, a 12-year-old tech whiz, who unintentionally creates a mischievous sentient artificial intelligence known as Blink. With the support of his closest friends, Mansour must deal with all manner of pranks, challenges and dangers posed by Blink, who for his own amusement, is determined to cause as much chaos as possible for Mansour and the people of Salam City.  

(13) LAND(ED)SHARK. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Tom Scott explores the controversy over the British house with a shark in its roof (a story I think is fandom-adjacent). “The government approves of this shark now.”

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

Pixel Scroll 8/31/22 A Lapozás Tele Van Pixelekkel

(1) A CRITIQUE OF NEAL STEPHENSON. In The New Atlantis: “The Supergenius at the End of the World”.

… And yet for all of sci-fi’s close attentiveness to arcane scientific ideas — say, the equivalence principle or the physics of traversable wormholes — the portrayals we see of how political actors might face such crises are rarely realistic. What we typically find instead are political arrangements in which knowledgeable technocrats are already comfortably ensconced in positions of authority, or narratives that leave politics offstage altogether.

In this sense, the renowned science fiction writer Neal Stephenson’s oeuvre may serve as a stand-in for the genre. For while his work draws heavily upon the tradition of political philosophy, and his plots make frequent dramatic use of catastrophic scenarios, he seems unable to present a serious account of politics as a venue for decision-making of the most consequential sort. And though he is attentive to the social and political tensions modern science often generates, particularly in democratic societies, his protagonists usually end up circumventing politics when faced with the kinds of disasters that set his plots in motion.

This is altogether a great loss. The genre of science fiction as we think of it today originally arose as part of a cultural response to the rise of scientific and technical mastery. But before it was ever a genre, it was part of a broader tradition of speculative philosophical and political thought. That today’s sci-fi — and a writer of Neal Stephenson’s caliber in particular — is unserious about crisis politics is a shame….

(2) CENSORS LOSE ROUND ONE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Hannah Natanson says District Court Judge Pamela Baskervill (spelled that way) dismissed a lawsuit by two Virginia legislators that the graphic novel Gender Queer and the fantasy novel A Court Of Mist And Fury are obscene and can be banned from Barnes and Noble, but the legislators could sill appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court. “Virginia judge dismisses lawsuit challenging sale of two ‘obscene’ books”.

A Virginia judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit brought by two Republicans that sought to limit how bookstores and public school libraries could distribute two books to minors, closing — at least temporarily — an unusual commercial strategy in what conservatives say is a campaign to protect students from age-inappropriate literature….

(3) ANDY DUNCAN ADVICE. Long-time Clarion West instructor Andy Duncan recorded six videos for their Flash Fiction Workshop as part of the 2022 Write-a-thon, and they’re now available to watch on the Clarion West YouTube channel. Dig into the first video here.

(4) CLARION WEST SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS. The 2022 Octavia E. Butler and Worldbuilder Scholars were profiled by Clarion West.

Two Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarships donated by the Carl Brandon Society went to Clarion West students. Naomi Day and Wen-yi Lee. Naomi was initially selected as a Butler Scholar in 2020, and Wen-yi was selected this year upon her acceptance.

Since 2007, the Carl Brandon Society has donated this scholarship in Octavia’s name to writers of color attending Clarion and Clarion West. Octavia attended the Clarion Writers Workshop in Pennsylvania in 1970 and taught at the Clarions for many years; this scholarship offers BIPOC writers a similar opportunity to emerge into the speculative fiction scene.

Naomi Day is a queer Black American writer who spends their time thinking about liminal experiences, mothers, and broken and found families. Her work has appeared in Black Warrior Review and The Seventh Wave, and she is an MFA candidate at The New School.

Wen-yi Lee is from Singapore and likes writing about girls with bite, feral nature, and ghosts. Her fiction has appeared in Uncanny and Strange Horizons, among others, and her non-fiction can be found on Tordotcom. She is currently working on a Singaporean historical fantasy.

George R. R. Martin awarded two Worldbuilder Scholarships this year. Tania Fordwalker, of Tasmania, was selected to receive a Worldbuilder Scholarship in 2020, and Yvette Lisa Ndlovu, of Zimbabwe, was selected this year upon her acceptance.

The Worldbuilder is a full scholarship funded by George R. R. Martin and anonymously judged by Martin’s team. The scholarship is awarded to a student with strong worldbuilding skills. Martin says: “Every great story requires interesting characters, an engrossing plot, evocative prose, an important theme… but epic fantasy also requires a memorable setting. A ‘secondary universe,’ as J.R.R. Tolkien termed it, a world both like and unlike our own, with its own rich history and geography and customs, its own beauties and terrors.”

Tania Fordwalker is an Australian living between chilly Tasmania and tropical Queensland with her spouse and cloud-shaped dog. She travels whenever she can, and writes because she’s incapable of holding down a real job. Her work has appeared in Lightspeed, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, PodCastle and more. Her first novel — the story of an escapee from a post-apocalyptic cult — is currently out on submission. She is very short and, in the way of all small things, will absolutely fight you. Find Tania at Fordwalker.com or on Twitter at @TaniaWalker. 

Yvette Lisa Ndlovu is the Zimbabwean author of Drinking from Graveyard Wells (University Press of Kentucky, March 2023). She earned her BA at Cornell University and is an MFA candidate at UMass Amherst. Her work has been supported by fellowships from Tin House, Bread Loaf Writers Workshop, and the New York State Summer Writers Institute. She is the co-founder of the Voodoonauts Summer Fellowship for Black writers. 

(5) RON LOGAN OBIT. Disney Legend Ron Logan, who as EVP and executive producer for Walt Disney Entertainment transformed live entertainment in its parks and helped bring Beauty and the Beast to Broadway, died August 30 at the age of 84.

… In his last role at Disney, Logan was EVP, executive producer, for Walt Disney Entertainment. He was responsible for creating, casting and producing all live entertainment products for the Walt Disney Company, including its resorts, The Disney Institute, Disney Business Productions, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Entertainment Productions and Walt Disney Entertainment Worldwide. He also was EVP of the Walt Disney Special Events Group, and EVP of Disney Special Programs Inc. He produced all live entertainment shows for the Disney Parks worldwide, as well as five Super Bowl halftime shows.

(6) MEMORY LANE.  

1965 [By Cat Eldridge.] Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising sequence.

Fire on the mountain shall find the harp of gold

Played to wake the Sleepers, oldest of the old;

Power from the green witch, lost beneath the sea;

All shall find the light at last, silver on the tree.

I suspect that most of you know something about this series, and further more that a lot of you have read this splendid undertaking. These five novels were intended for older children and young adults, published from 1965 to 1977, were written by the British author Susan Cooper, born May 1935.

Over Sea, Under Stone, the first was meant to be a solo novel but four followed. The series takes its name from the second novel The Dark is Rising. The final three were Green WitchThe Grey King and Silver on the Tree.

Cooper’s summation of the series is: “When young Will Stanton discovers he has come of age as the lastborn of the Old Ones, the immortal keepers of the force of the Light, he is swept up in the age-old struggle between the powers of Light and Dark. The battles against the last dreadful rising of the Dark are waged across time in the most ancient myth-haunted places of England and Wales. Will, his ageless master Merriman, and their allies and adversaries—human and mythic alike—seek the objects of power that will tip the uncertain balance of good and evil that exists throughout the world and within the mind of man.” 

Cooper did a most splendid crafting of stitching together of Arthurian mythology, Celtic mythology, English folklore and Norse mythology. And I can say that they quite wonderful books indeed!

The American Library Association’s Margaret A. Edwards Award, which recognizes one writer and a particular body of work for significant and lasting contribution to YA literature, went to the full series. Solo books have been have honored as well — The Grey King picked up a Newbery Medal and Tir na n-Og while Silver on The Tree garnered a Tir na n-Og.

An adaptation was done, not at all successfully I’d say was a kind way to put it. Cooper didn’t like the film and has made that clear in interviews. It was called The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising and critics and the box office alike were hostile to it. 

I swear there was a series made as well but I can’t find anything about it. I’ve got a Radio Times story from 2016 “Sky is developing a drama based on The Dark is Rising fantasy books” but nothing after that. 

The audiobooks are read by Alex Jennings who does a most excellent job. He’s a British actor of the stage and screen who has worked mainly with the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company. For his work with the London stage, he received three Olivier Awards given for My Fair Lady, Peer Gynt and Too Clever by Half

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 31, 1914 Richard Basehart. He’s best remembered as Admiral Harriman Nelson in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. He also portrayed Wilton Knight in the later Knight Rider series. And he appeared in “Probe 7, Over and Out”, an episode of The Twilight Zone. (Died 1984.)
  • Born August 31, 1949 Richard Gere, 73. Lancelot in First Knight starring Sean Connery as King Arthur. And was Joe Klein in The Mothman Prophecies. That’s it. First Knight for me is more than enough to get Birthday Honours!  And there’s Chicago which though not genre is absolutely stellar. 
  • Born August 31, 1958 Julie Brown, 64. Starred with Geena Davis in the cult SF comedy, Earth Girls Are Easy. She’s also been in genre films such as The Incredible Shrinking Woman, Bloody Birthday (a slasher film), Timebomb and Wakko’s Wish. She’s had one-offs in TV’s Quantum Leap and The Addams Family. She’s voiced a lot of animated characters included a memorable run doing the ever so sexy Minerva Mink on The Animaniacs. She reprised that role on Pinky and The Brain under the odd character name of Danette Spoonabello Minerva Mink. 
  • Born August 31, 1969 Jonathan LaPaglia, 53. The lead in Seven Days which I’ve noted before is one of my favorite SF series. Other than playing Prince Seth of Delphi in a really bad film called Gryphon which aired on the Sci-fi channel, that’s his entire genre history.
  • Born August 31, 1971 Chris Tucker, 51. The way-over-the-top Ruby Rhod in Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element, a film I really, really like. His only other genre credit is as a MC in the Hall in The Meteor Man.
  • Born August 31, 1982 G. Willow Wilson, 40. A true genius. There’s her amazing work on the WorldCon 75 Hugo Award winning Ms. Marvel series starring Kamala Khan which I recommend strongly, and that’s not to say that her superb Air series shouldn’t be on your reading list. Oh, and the Cairo graphic novel with its duplicitous djinn is quite excellent as well. I’ve not yet read her Wonder Women story but will soon. She also got a nomination at Discon III for Invisible Kingdom, vol 2: Edge of Everything. Am I missing anything I should be reading? 
  • Born August 31, 1992 Holly Earl, 30. She’s been in a number of British genre shows, playing Kela in Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, Agnes in Humans, and yes, Doctor Who in the “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe”, an Eleventh Doctor story in she was Lily Arwell.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! has a shocking aquatic “morning after” moment.

(9) A SECRET IDENTITY THAT WAS EVEN SECRET FROM ITS OWNER. “Did DC Once Produce a Superman Issue Hidden From the Editor of the Comic?” CBR.com says, of course, the answer is yes.

…Schwartz recalled the incident in his auto-biography:

“So comes the day [of his 70th birthday], and all of a sudden publisher Jenette Kahn’s administrative assistant Carol Fein comes in and says we’re having a special meeting in the conference room. I probably fretted as I walked down the hall wondering what the latest crisis was—and walked into the conference room to discover champagne on ice and Jenette handing me the first copy of SUPERMAN #411, and I see that I am depicted on the cover.”

The original art for the cover was then signed by LOTS of people, and Schwartz kept having people sign it over the years…

(10) MALTIN ON MOVIES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listed to this podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with animator Andreas Deja, who saw The Jungle Book when he was 10 or 11 in West Germany and decided he wanted to be an animator.  He wrote to Disney asking what he had to do and they told him in a form letter to study anatomy and learn to draw animals in real life.  He did this, went to Disney, and worked his way up to being a master animator in charge of a particular character.  He stayed at Disney for 30 years and is now a Disney Legend, but left around 2010 when Disney decided to switch to CGI.  Since then, Deja lectures on animation history with the aid of Disney’s unusually extensive archives and has worked on his own animated film, the 25-minute Mouschka which will feature 80 percent hand-drawn animation by him.  This is a pretty deep dive into Disney animation but this is a subject Maltin knows very well so I thought it informative. “Maltin on Movies: Andreas Deja”.

(11) THE RADIANT AFTERGLOW. “The Atomic Café: The Cult Classic Documentary Made Entirely Out of Nuclear Weapons Propaganda from the Cold War (1982)” – discussed at Open Culture.

…It came out in 1982, when the public’s assumptions of American military benevolence — and its patience with the country’s seemingly permanent arms race against the Soviet Union — were running low. These decades-old clips of strenuously pious politicians, drawling bomber pilots, rambling Babbitts, and civil defense-ready nuclear (in both senses) families could hardly have met with more intense cynicism.

“I was an exact contemporary of those kids in this old documentary footage,” writes Roger Ebert in his review The Atomic Café. “Life magazine ran blueprints for fallout shelters, and Estes Kefauver barnstormed the nation with warnings about strontium 90 in the milk supply.” In one scene “girls in home ec classes display their canned goods designed for nuclear survival, and it is clear from their faces that they have no clue of how they would survive nuclear war, and little hope of doing so.” The film as a whole evokes a time when the United States “spent a good deal of its resources on addressing the possibility of nuclear war, however uselessly.” We no longer hear much about that possibility, perhaps because it has genuinely diminished, or perhaps because — as viewers of The Atomic Café will suspect even today — the propagandists are busy convincing us of something else entirely.,,,

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

Pixel Scroll 8/24/22 Once the Pixels Go Up, Who Cares Where They Scroll Down?

(1) GUESSING GAME. Camestros Felapton invites you to take his “Hugo Novel Picture Quiz”.

This year, as the Hugo Awards come closer, I thought I’d combine my current hobby (throwing weird prompts as Midjourney AI) and a guessing game.

I used the names of each of the Hugo Award finalist novels as prompts for the AI. It drew a quartet of pictures for each. Based on the picture, you have to guess which pictures match which novels…

(2) L, D + R. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to this podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with several people associated with Love, Death, and Robots because one episode from the show is up for an Emmy. 

Executive producer Tim Miller says he came up with the idea of “reviving Heavy Metal” over a decade ago. He and David Fincher started pitching this idea and Netfix greenlit the series, which is renewed for season 4.  Jennifer Yuh Nelson, who directed Kung Fu Panda 2 and Kung Fu Panda 3, says as supervising producer her role is to create the storyboards animators use and “head the quality control department.”  Sound editors Brad North and Craig Henigan explain what sound editors do, and we learn that the great sound editor Ben Burtt got part of the voice for Darth Vader from a noisy projector at the University of Southern California film school that is still being used. 

Finally, Leonard Maltin said that Alfred Hitchcock once opined that the advantage an animator has over a live action director is “If you don’t like your leading man, you can rip him up.” “Emmy Nominees for Love, Death & Robots” at Maltin on Movies.

(3) THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JOANNA RUSS. A feature of the Middletown (PA) Public Library’s Science Fiction Book Club is its online archive of Science Fiction Author Interviews. The latest is an “Interview about Joanna Russ” conducted with Lisa Yaszek, a Regents’ Professor of Science Fiction Studies at Georgia Tech.

Damo Mac Choiligh: Did Russ retain her perception of SF as a worthwhile literature into later life? I have always been struck by how she was optimistic about its potential, despite the extent to which it is dominated by writers and fans for whom her feminism was anathema or who simply did not understand it.

[Lisa Yaszek:] I’ve always liked Russ’s optimism as well! Russ spoke often about how she began reading science fiction as a teenager because it promised her that “life could be different!” than the stifling world of midcentury America. And then many of her early critical essays were all about why SF is an important genre. And of course, she continued to write both professional SF and amateur “slash” fiction until her death. If her production slowed down in the 1980s and 1990s, it was largely due to health issues. Having said that, Russ did become increasingly disenchanted with certain factions of the SF community as the 1970s unfolded. When Russ started out in the 1960s, she was actually quite well-received by the largely male/male-identified SF community because she wrote about the possibilities of science fiction as the premiere story form of modernity and her first really successful stories—the Alyx tales—followed the adventures of a strong, smart, successful woman living mostly amongst men. But then Russ began to write essays about the patriarchal limits of SF as it was currently practiced (in essays such as “The Image of Women in Science Fiction” and “Amore Vincent Foeminam!”) and more literarily-experimental stories about all[1]female futures and the women who would go to war with men to preserve them, such as “When It Changed” (1972), The Female Man (1975), and The Two of Them (1978). This led SF authors and editors including Poul Anderson, Judy Del Rey, and Avram Davidson to publicly turn against Russ, dismissing her as a “second rate academic” masquerading as an author. Even Samuel R. Delany—a queer Black experimental SF author who was friends with Russ and who Russ was careful to include in important gender and SF events, such as the 1974 Khatru symposium on “Women and Science Fiction”—was quite critical of her writing at the time. Little wonder then, that Russ gave up her post as a reviewer for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1980 and began to focus more on writing and publishing in feminist and lesbian venues—even if she never quit writing science fiction itself….

(4) HUGO PICKS. Kristenelle – SFF Reader is a science fiction and fantasy focused booktuber who reads a lot of new releases and does commentary on awards such as the Hugos and Nebulas. Here are her “2022 Hugo Award Predictions”. The whole concept of booktubers fascinates me, I wish I had time to keep up with them.

(5) MENSA. Eve Peyser chronicles “My Week With America’s Smartest* People” for New York Magazine.

Despite its history and Loftus’s conclusions, I did not get the sense that Mensa is an unhealthy place to find community. Many of its members think of themselves as outsiders and feel like Mensa is a place where they can be themselves and connect with people who understand and appreciate them. It’s a place where they can find other folks who love to play Set or who have encyclopedic knowledge of minute Disney trivia. This isn’t to say that there aren’t toxic subsections of Mensa, because there are, but that’s true of any group that runs tens of thousands of members deep. And in an era when the internet and the pandemic have scrambled our sense of community and alienation reigns supreme, that’s no small thing.

(6) ARRAY OF TEMPESTS. Ars Technica tells why “We’re loving the lavish epic visuals in the new LOTR: Rings of Power trailer”.

…This latest trailer opens with a voiceover by Galadriel, telling us that her brother gave his life “hunting the enemy.” She takes up the cause in his stead. She asks for others to stand with her, as we see shots of several central characters who, one presumes, will become her comrades in arms. Or perhaps they will decline the offer. That seems to be the case with Halbrand, who insists, “I am not the hero you seek,” suggesting a dark secret in his past. “Whatever you did, be free of it,” Galadriel tells him.

Galadriel seems to be emerging as the most major protagonist, but we also get new footage of several other characters scattered throughout Middle-earth, including dwarves and hobbits. The latter, while humble, do have their strengths. “One thing we can so better than any creature in all Middle-earth—we stay true to each other, with our hearts even bigger than our feet,” Nori’s dad, Largo Brandyfoot (Dylan Smith), says. It looks like different kinds of struggles and battles will be waged on many different fronts, as befitting a sweeping epic series of this magnitude….

(7) NEVER? WELL, HARDLY EVER. Tom Mead chooses the “10 Most Puzzling Impossible Crime Mysteries” at Publishers Weekly.

… “Impossible crime” and “locked-room mystery” are two analogous terms referring to mysteries in which how a crime was committed is equally important as who committed it. Crimes which are seemingly impossible, which appear to have been committed in defiance of both physics and logic. As such, these mysteries are often tinged with a hint of the surreal, the sinister, and the uncanny. However—and this is particularly important—the crime always, always has a rational explanation. By its nature, this is a fiendish subgenre, but when done right it’s also one of the most satisfying for both writers and readers. The puzzle and the atmosphere are perfectly intertwined; all the clues are there, but they are so ingeniously disguised as to make it nigh-on impossible for the reader to suss out what is going on….

At the top of his list:

1. The Three Coffins/The Hollow Man by John Dickson Carr

Whenever I am asked what is my favorite locked-room mystery or impossible crime story, this is always my answer. The murder of Professor Charles Grimaud by the mysterious “hollow man” who vanishes without trace is a perfect locked-room problem. Meanwhile, the killing of illusionist Pierre Fley in a street carpeted with unmarked snow is an archetypal example of the popular impossible crime variant, the no-footprints puzzle. 

As well as one of the most famous examples of the subgenre, this novel remains an indisputable masterpiece. Not only is it a tour-de-force of plotting, prose, and atmosphere, it also happens to contain within it one of the definitive critical overviews of the genre itself: the famous “locked-room lecture,” a perfect piece of meta-fiction in which Dr. Gideon Fell examines the very nature of the impossible crime. It’s a treatise which probes just about every category of impossible crime, providing numerous examples of methods by which they could be achieved. But is the solution to these two murders lurking somewhere in those scant few pages? Or is the locked-room lecture itself just a red herring? 

When I first read this book, the brilliance of the solution left me giddy. Reading it again today, it has lost none of its impact. This book is one of the many reasons that John Dickson Carr remains (to borrow a phrase from Agatha Christie) the “supreme conjurer, the King of the Art of Misdirection.”

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1966 [By Cat Eldridge.] Fifty-six years ago, Fantastic Voyage premiered. It would the next year be nominated for a Hugo at NyCon 3 but Star Trek’s “The Menagerie” won. 

It was directed by Richard Fleischer and produced by Saul David. Fleischer had been responsible for the earlier 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and David had produced Our Man Flint. (It is definitely genre.) The screenplay was by Harry Klein off an adaptation by David Duncan (yes, our David Duncan) of the story by Jerome Bixby and Otto Klement which I assume is “Small War” though nowhere is that stated. 

The film starred Stephen Boyd, Raquel Welch, Edmond O’Brien, Donald Pleasence, and Arthur Kennedy. Of course it has Welch in it , there had to be one sexy female on the crew, didn’t there?

Klement and Kleiner claimed to the studio that it would be “the most expensive science-fiction film ever made”, a odd thing I think to say to sell anything to a studio. It cost five million dollars which certainly was expensive but not that expensive. It didn’t do that well at the box office returning just twelve million.

I’ll quote but one review from the time, that of Variety: “Fantastic Voyage is just that. The lavish production, boasting some brilliant special effects and superior creative efforts, is an entertaining, enlightening excursion through inner space – the body of a man.”

Asimov wrote the novelization which readers thought the film was based on as it came out well before the film premiered. He was displeased with that take so he wrote another take, Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain,  and a third novel would follow written not by him but by Kevin J. Anderson, Fantastic Voyage: Microcosm.

It would spawn a short-lived animated series, Fantastic Voyage, thirteen episodes to be precise, and a Fantastic Voyage comic book, based on the series, published by Gold Key which lasted an amazingly short two issues.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 24, 1899 Gaylord Du Bois. He was a writer of comic book stories and comic strips, as well as Big Little Books. He wrote Tarzan for Dell Comics and Gold Key Comics from the Forties to early Seventies.) He was one of the writers for Space Family Robinson which was the basis for the Lost in Space series. (Died 1993.)
  • Born August 24, 1899 Jorge Luis Borges. I’m reasonably sure my first encounter with him was at University with the assignment of The Library of Babel. I’m not deeply read in him but I loved The Book of Imaginary Beings, and though not genre, recommend The Last Interview and Other Conversations for an excellent look at him as a writer. (Died 1986.)
  • Born August 24, 1915 Alice Sheldon. Alice Sheldon who wrote as James Tiptree Jr. was one of our most brilliant short story writers ever. She only wrote two novels, Up the Walls of the World and Brightness Falls from the Air but they too are worth reading even if critics weren’t pleased by them. (Died 1987.)
  • Born August 24, 1932 William Morgan Shepard. Best remembered I think as Blank Reg in Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future. Genre wise I’d add him being the most believable Klingon Prison Warden In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Merrit in The Prestige (nominated for a Hugo at Nippon 2007),the rather scary Soul Hunter on Babylon 5 and a Vulcan Science Minister in Star Trek. (Died 2019.)
  • Born August 24, 1934 Kenny Baker. Certainly his portrayal of R2-D2 in the Star Wars franchise is what he’s best known for but he’s also been in Circus of HorrorsWombling Free, Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader series, The Elephant ManSleeping BeautyTime BanditsWillowFlash Gordon and Labyrinth. Personally I think his best role was as Fidgit in Time Bandits. (Died 2016.)
  • Born August 24, 1936 A. S. Byatt, 86. Author of three genre novels, two of which I’m familiar with, Possession: A Romance which became a rather decent film, and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature-winning The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, and one I’ve never heard of, Ragnarok: The End of the Gods,  but I’m actually much, much more fond of her short fiction. I’d start with the Little Black Book of Stories and Angels & Insects collections. 
  • Born August 24, 1951 Tony Amendola, 71. Prolly best known for being the Jaffa master Bra’tac on Stargate SG-1. He’s also had recurring roles as Edouard Kagame of Liber8 on Continuum and on Once Upon a Time as Pinocchio’s creator, Geppetto. His list of one-off genre appearances is extensive and includes AngelCharmed,  Lois & Clark, Space: Above and Beyond, the Crusade spin-off of Babylon 5X FilesVoyagerDirk Gently’s Holistic Detective AgencyTerminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, AliasShe-Wolf of London and Kindred: The Embraced. He’s also been a voice actor in gaming with roles in such games as World of Warcraft: Warlords of DraenorWorld of Warcraft: Legion and World of Final Fantasy.
  • Born August 24, 1957 Stephen Fry, 65. He’s Gordon Deitrich in V for Vendetta, and he’s the Master of Laketown in The Hobbit franchise. His best role is as Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (I absolutely adore both films as I noted in my essay on them) though he made an interesting narrator in the film version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and not to be overlooked is that he’s also the narrator for all seven of the Potter novels for the UK audiobook recordings.
  • Born August 24, 1958 Lisa A. Barnett. Wife of Melissa Scott. Some of her works were co-authored with her: The Armor of LightPoint of Hopes: A Novel of Astreiant and Point of Dreams: A Novel of Astreiant. They wrote one short story, “The Carmen Miranda Gambit”. (Died 2006.)

(10) BOOM TIMES. The New York Times takes readers “Inside the Making of New York City’s Bizarre Nuclear War P.S.A.”  This Bonestell art is not part of it…

The video opens gauzily on an empty New York City streetscape, with sirens echoing in the distance, as a woman dressed in black strolls in with some hypothetically catastrophic news.

“So there’s been a nuclear attack,” she says nonchalantly. “Don’t ask me how or why, just know that the big one has hit.”

The 90-second public service announcement, which instructed New Yorkers about what to do during a nuclear attack, was released by the city’s Department of Emergency Management in July.

It attracted attention: While most of the videos on the department’s YouTube page have recorded fewer than 1,000 views, at last count the nuclear preparedness video had been seen more than 857,000 times.

It also drew immediate and widespread derision, much of it centered on an underlying question: What were they thinking?

… Many Americans are concerned about the prospect of a nuclear attack. Nearly 70 percent of residents said they were “worried the invasion of Ukraine is going to lead to nuclear war,” according to a survey in March by the American Psychological Association.

Still, some questioned whether the city should have prioritized the nuclear preparedness video at a time when emergency officials are grappling with more imminent threats, like extreme heat and catastrophic flooding, and the city is dealing with the monkeypox health crisis.

Mr. Harvin, the former city official, said that emergency management professionals traditionally focus on events that are more likely to occur, including flash floods or mass shootings. New York City has recently experienced both….

(11) ARTEMIS ROCKET. MSN.com runs the AP’s “EXPLAINER: NASA tests new moon rocket, 50 years after Apollo”.

Years late and billions over budget, NASA’s new moon rocket makes its debut next week in a high-stakes test flight before astronauts get on top.

The 322-foot (98-meter) rocket will attempt to send an empty crew capsule into a far-flung lunar orbit, 50 years after NASA’s famed Apollo moonshots.

If all goes well, astronauts could strap in as soon as 2024 for a lap around the moon, with NASA aiming to land two people on the lunar surface by the end of 2025.

Liftoff is set for Monday morning from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

The six-week test flight is risky and could be cut short if something fails, NASA officials warn.

“We’re going to stress it and test it. We’re going make it do things that we would never do with a crew on it in order to try to make it as safe as possible,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

(12) YOUR SPITTING IMAGE. Gizmodo discusses a study that tells why “You and Your Doppelganger Might Have More in Common Than Just Looks”.

It turns out that unrelated doppelgangers may have quite a bit in common beyond just twin faces. New research suggests that lookalikes with incredibly similar faces tend to share many genetic variants—variants that don’t just seem to shape their appearance but general aspects of their life. At the same time, other important influences, such as the microbiome, appear to contribute little to their symmetry.

Study author Manel Esteller, a geneticist and director of the Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute (IJC) in Barcelona, Spain, is interested in what makes people the way they are. In 2005, he and his colleagues published research showing that identical twins weren’t as identical as they appear at first glance. While they had the same basic genetic patterns, they differed noticeably in their epigenetics: changes in how our genes express themselves, which are caused by environmental or behavioral factors, such as smoking or age.

In their new research, published Tuesday in Cell Reports, Esteller’s team wanted to look at the other side of the coin—people who look so similar that they could be twins but aren’t actually related…

(13) WOODEN IT BE ROMANTIC. Disney+ dropped their trailer for Pinocchio today (which is not Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio–the Disney version is directed by Robert Zemeckis.)

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Ryan George, in this sketch that dropped four days ago, wonders what the billionaires would do when the apocalypse happens!

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

Pixel Scroll 8/2/22 I Took My Files Down To Jaxom’s Ruth (You Know That Dragon With The Pixeled Tooth)

(1) WITNESS FOR THE PLAINTIFF. Stephen King took the stand today and AP News was there: “Stephen King testifies for government in books merger trial”.

…King’s displeasure about the proposed merger led him to voluntarily testify for the government.

“I came because I think that consolidation is bad for competition,” King said. The way the industry has evolved, he said, “it becomes tougher and tougher for writers to find money to live on.”

King expressed skepticism toward the two publishers’ commitment to continue to bid for books separately and competitively after a merger.

“You might as well say you’re going to have a husband and wife bidding against each other for the same house,” he quipped. “It would be sort of very gentlemanly and sort of, ‘After you’ and ‘After you,’” he said, gesturing with a polite sweep of the arm.

King’s was entertaining and informative, although he had little specific to say over how the merger might harm bestselling authors, with the government’s case focusing on those receiving advances of $250,000 or more. Attorney Daniel Petrocelli, representing the publishers, told King he had no questions for him and demurred on a cross-examination, saying instead he hoped they could have coffee together some time….

(2) BAIL OUT. Costume Con 40 chair Sarah Richardson is trying to raise $80,000 to pay a large penalty owed to their facility because of the shortfall in meeting their room rental commitment: “Covid-19 Relief for Costume-Con 40”. (On the other hand, some are advising the concom to work with an attorney who specializes bankruptcy.)

…Because of the sudden cancellation of Costume-Con 38 and the rescheduling of Costume-Con 39, we lost any potential advertising and seed money that might have been generated by those events. So far, we have been able to cover all our expenses except one, the venue cost.

Many of our attendees, especially our international members, were unable to attend due to Covid travel restrictions were levied right before the convention. Because of this, over a fourth of our registered members (100+ people) were not able to attend. This led to our not meeting the room night obligations in our contract, and so we must pay a hefty “attrition” penalty. We have been negotiating since April with the hotel to resolve this outstanding balance and continue to do so.

This is where we need your help. As a small, volunteer-run non-profit, we are turning to our community and putting out a request for monetary donations to help defray this debt. Any amount will be a help to us. And we intend, should we exceed our goal of retiring this particular debt, to “pay it forward” to next year’s Costume-Con and thus further ease the financial strain caused by the pandemic. Remember, we are a 501(c)3 non-profit and would be happy to issue a receipt for tax purposes.

(3) THAT’S CLAWFUL. Cora Buhlert sent He-Man and friends on a beach holiday and posted another action figure photo story on her blog: “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Holiday on Orkas Island’”.

In the 1980s Filmation cartoon, Clawful looks quite different from his toy counterpart, probably because the cartoon was based on an early prototype. He also seems to be one of a kind. However, the 2002 He-Man cartoon reveals that there is a whole species of lobster people out there and that they hail from a place called Orkas Island, which also happens to be the retirement home of an aged warrior called Dekker, Duncan’s former mentor and predecessor at Man-at-Arms.

So I decided to send Prince Adam, Teela and Man-at-Arms on a well-deserved holiday and have Clawful and his fellow aquatic Evil Warrior Mer-Man cause some trouble. I also got out a bunch of maritime themed objects to serve as props….

(4) HE FIGURES IT OUT. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Here is a video by a toy collector and YouTuber named Pixel Dan who wound up as a panelist on the He-Man 40th anniversary panel at San Diego Comic Con (he wrote a collector’s guide to Masters of the Universe toys). He offers a rare look at what the infamous Hall H looks like backstage and on stage. His enthusiasm is certainly infectious. Plus, bonus interview with Kevin Smith who moderated the panel.

(5) PEOPLE WHO NEED PEOPLE. Kim Bannerman wrote a nice profile of Zenna Henderson at Luna Station Quarterly“The Improbable Worlds of Zenna Henderson”.

…Henderson’s experiences as a teacher would influence her writing throughout her career. In her 1952 short story “Ararat”, aliens marooned on Earth are searching for a new teacher to guide their children; all the other teachers have been scared away by the children’s telekinetic powers. This story was the first in a series that featured ‘The People’, a community of gentle humanoids trying to survive on Earth.

The People are isolated, lonely individuals seeking safety and community, and they must suppress their inherent gifts in order to be accepted by human society. Instead of focusing on conquest and war, Henderson’s stories examine the quiet, personal lives of The People…. 

(6) CARS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] We had a small science fiction fayre down our way here in Brit Cit. Stalls with SF miniatures, playing card collectables abounded. Sadly, no second-hand book stall (which, on second thoughts, did save a couple of hours of my time). Nor did there seem to be a tie-in with our local film memorabilia and gaming shop, The Movie Shack: even though it was just twenty yards away inside our indoors shopping precinct. However, in the mix was a Ghostbusters marshmallow man and car, and there was also a Back to the Future DeLorean: it was one way to beat the Worldcon queues — the last time a Back to the Future DeLorean was on Worldcon show…

(7) THE BIRD IS THE WORD. Sarah Z delivers “An Exhaustive Defense of Fanfiction” in a new YouTube video.

On art, transformativity, and the literary wonders of putting your middle finger up at preps.

(8) NEW FROM LEONARD MALTIN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to the podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Michael Uslan.  Although Leonard Maltin and Uslan never met, they quickly determined they were the same age, were both guys from Jersey (Uslan’s from exit 105) who developed obsessions very early (Maltin with animation, Uslan with comics) and both were probably two rows away from each other at a notorious  1966 screening of the 1943 Batman serial at Manhattan’s Eighth Street Playhouse where the audience got rowdier and rowdier as the film got stinkier and stinkier.

Uslan grew up with comic books and read everything.  But the event that changed him was in 1972 when he successfully proposed what became the first university course on comic book at Indiana University.  This led to his getting calls from Stan Lee and Sol Harrison at DC.  He first did scripts (He proudly remembers Julius Schwartz telling him. “Your story doesn’t stink:” when he did a story for The Shadow).  In 1979 he acquired the movie rights to Batman and spent ten years in development until Tim Burton’s film came out.  He has been an executive producer on every Batman project since, including Lego Batman.  He also got DC to give him the movie rights to Swamp Thing for free if he agreed to spend $15,000 on the character, which led to two Swamp Thing movies in the 1980s.

Uslan says he likes the takes Michael Keaton, Christian Bale, and Robert Pattinson have done with the character and people shouldn’t complain about a film until they’ve seen it.  Leonard Maltin quoted Harlan Ellison, “You have the right to your informed opinion.”  He has two volumes of memoirs about his life with Batman and a Broadway play in development.  In addition, Uslan is an executor of Stan Lee’s estate and is working on Lee’s forthcoming centennial celebration. Maltin on Movies: Michael Uslan.

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

1986 [By Cat Eldridge.] Since we just discussed the Grateful Dead by way of the Jerry Garcia birthday write-up, let’s talk about a novel, that according to the author in an email received just now was indeed named after a Dead song. (Yes, he is one of the writers that gets dark chocolate.) 

There are certain novels that I return to from time to time and Steve Brust’s Brokedown Palace is one of them. It’s the only stand-alone novel set in Dragaera series, which runs currently to over twenty five novels. (I’ve read quite a few of them.) It leads off the series. It is also notable for being set in Fenario, the human-populated portion of that world.

The novel is heavily influenced by Hungarian myth and culture, not surprising giving that Brust is of Hungarian descent.  Brust uses that tradition’s folklore to great effect while combining it with family dynamics  King László, the oldest of the brothers, is a fair and just ruler along the Princies of the Lands. All live in Brokedown Palace.

Once upon a time, there were four brothers who lived in the land of Fenario. These were the King and Princes of the land, and they lived together in the decrepit Old Palace in the center of the city of Fenario. Ahhh but things are not as they seem as things well become very complicated… I won’t say more than that as it’d spoil things if you’ve not read it yet. 

This is a more complex novel than Brust usually writes and the characters here actually have more agency, more feel of being actual individuals  than that they usually get in his novels. That’s a reflection of it being a family-based novel so it feels more intimate than usual.

The wonderful cover art on the first edition is by Alan Lee. Since the art on the actual first edition is obscured by title text and other typography, we’re using the version on a later edition to display it. (ISFDB has the real first edition cover here.)

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 2, 1917 Wah Chang. Co-founder in the late 1950s, with Gene Warren and Tim Baar, of Project Unlimited Inc, the first true special effects company. They provided the effects for numerous George Pal productions, including The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, Jack the Giant Killer, and The Time Machine (for which they won an Academy Award, although Chang’s name was erroneously omitted). Wang and his fellow Projects coworkers did essentially all of the effects for the original Outer Limits television series. Perhaps most famously, Chang created some of the best-known effects for the original Star Trek, including the communicator, the tricorder, the Romulan Bird of Prey, the Tribbles, and numerous aliens, although he did not receive screen credit for any of this work. A talented artist, later in life he gained reknown as a wildlife sculptor. (Died 2003.) (PhilRM)
  • Born August 2, 1920 Theodore Marcuse. He was Korob in “Catspaw”, a second season Trek episode written by Robert Bloch that aired just before Halloween aptly enough. He had appearances in The Twilight Zone (“The Trade-Ins” and “To Serve Man”), Time TunnelVoyage to the Bottom of the SeaWild Wild West and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in the episodes “The Re-collectors Affair”, “The Minus-X Affair”, and “The Pieces of Fate Affair”. (Died 1967.)
  • Born August 2, 1932 Peter O’Toole. I’m tempted to say his first genre role was playing King Henry in A Lion in Winter as it is alternate history. It really is despite some of you saying it isn’t. Neat film. Well the original is, the second, not so much. Stewart just doesn’t work in that role for me. Actually before that he’s got an uncredited role in Casino Royale as a Scottish piper. Really he does. His first genre role without dispute is as Zaltar in Supergirl followed by being Dr. Harry Wolverine in Creator. He’s Peter Plunkett in the superb High Spirits, he’s in FairyTale: A True Story as a very credible Arthur Conan Doyle, and Stardust as King of Stormhold. Not surprisingly, he played in a version of Midsummer Night’s Dream as Lysander. (Died 2013.)
  • Born August 2, 1948 Robert Holdstock. Another one who died far too young. His Ryhope Wood series is simply amazing with Lavondyss being my favorite volume. And let’s not overlook his Merlin Codex series which is one of the more original takes on that character I’ve read. The Ragthorn, co-written with Garry Kilworth, is interesting as well. Tor, which has the rights to him in the States, has been slow to bring him to the usual suspects. (Died 2009.)
  • Born August 2, 1954 Ken MacLeod, 68. Sometimes I don’t realize until I do a Birthday note just how much I’ve read of a certain author. And so it was of this author. I’ve read the entire Fall Revolution series, not quite all of the Engines of Light Trilogy, just the first two of the Corporation Wars but I’ve got it in my to-be-finished queue, and every one of his one-off novels save Descent. His Restoration Game is quite chilling.  I should go find his Giant Lizards from Another Star collection as I’ve not read his short fiction. Damn it’s not available from the usual suspects! Hugo Award wise, he didn’t win any but had some nominations. The Sky Road was nominated at the Millennium Philcon, Cosmonaut Keep at ConJosé and Learning the World at L.A. Con IV. 
  • Born August 2, 1956 Leslie Ackerman, 66. She is best remembered for her role as the waitress in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine 1996 episode “Trials and Tribble-ations”. She also showed on the rebooted Twilight Zone as Time-Traveller in the “Lost and Found”.  She was on The Incredible Hulk and Project UFO.  She retired from acting several years after filming “Trials and Tribble-ations”.
  • Born August 2, 1970 Kevin Smith, 52. Well-loved comics writer who’s worked for DC, Marvel and other venues. He was involved with both Daredevil and Green Arrow. He directed the pilot for the CW supernatural comedy series Reaper, produced and appeared in a reality television series, Comic Book Men, and appeared as a character in the animated Superman: Doomsday.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • In The Far Side, an archeologist has dug up someone familiar, He’s not Yorick, but you knew him well.  

(12) GREEN TOWN. Wauke-Con 2022, Waukegan’s second annual comic book convention in Ray Bradbury’s home town, will take place October 8-9. The proceeds benefit Three Bros. Theatre.

(13) TURN OFF THE BATLIGHT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Warner Discovery won’t release Batgirl and has blown off the $70 million spent on it because the new regime doesn’t think the film works. “’Batgirl’ movie gets ‘shelved’ by Warner Bros: source” reports the New York Post.

Holy millions down the drain, Batman! 

The DC Comics film “Batgirl” will be completely “shelved” by Warner Bros., a top Hollywood source told The Post. 

That means it won’t hit theaters or the streaming service HBO Max. Fans will not see it.

The reportedly $70 million movie (the source said the budget was actually more than $100 million), which was doing test screenings for audiences in anticipation of a late 2022 debut, would rank among the most expensive cinematic castoffs ever.  

Those tests were said to be so poorly received by moviegoers that the studio decided to cut its losses and run, for the sake of the brand’s future. It’s a DC disaster….

(14) THE DOOR INTO BUMMER. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] I found this USA Today headline funny for all the wrong reasons: “Fact check: Scientists at CERN are not opening a ‘portal to hell’”.

… The accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, had undergone repairs and upgrades, and scientists plan to use it to crash protons together and learn more about the origins of the universe.

Nevertheless, social media users are suggesting that the machine has a different purpose. A Facebook post shared July 5 shows a TikTok video of a woman who claims that CERN scientists are using the machine to open a doorway for demons.

“If y’all don’t know about cern it’s a demonic/Evil machine that opens up portals to other dimensions/Hell/other spiritual worlds(not Heaven/or bosom of Abraham)and it brings in demons wicked spirits/High Evil Principalities,” reads the caption of the post….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Stray,” Fandom Games, in a spoiler-filled episode, says that Stray is “A playable Internet cat video, wrapped around a cyberpunk dystopia” but the least realistic thing about it is that the cat follows a robot’s instructions, because a real cat would “ignore you for four hours and then throw up on your carpet.”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Jennifer Hawthorne, Cora Buhlert, PhilRM, Todd Mason, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, 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 7/31/22 “How Many Files To Scrollbylon? Can I Get There By Pixel-Light?”

(1) FREE READ. The final free story in The Sunday Morning Transport’s month-long adventure of free reading is John Wiswell’s “Demonic Invasion or Placebo Effect?” “which shares a unique perspective on an experiment of sorts, gone very, very wrong.”

The Sunday Morning Transport is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work and our authors, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

(2) HOME COOKING. Media Death Cult posted two videos of conversations with author Claire North. First, “Meeting Claire North”.

I made myself comfortable in Catherine Webb’s kitchen, otherwise known as the Arthur C. Clarke Award nominated author, Claire North.

Then, “Claire North Recommends Some Books”.

I hung around with Catherine Webb (Claire North), we talked about books.

(3) LIKE MOTHS TO A CANDLE. “Does Twitch Fame Have to Come With a Stalker?” The New York Times shows this is not a rhetorical question.

…Twitch, more than Instagram, Twitter or TikTok, is an intimate platform, designed to make its stars seem like actual friends of their fans, hanging out virtually with them. Those cozy relationships are a core part of the site’s business model. But they sometimes turn unhealthy.

“In livestreams, they see into your home, into your bedroom, and it feels very personal with them,” Ms. Siragusa said. “I think that is what contributes to a lot of the stalking: They feel like they know you.”

Streamers on Twitch and other platforms have had stalkers show up at their homes and at fan conventions, been targeted by armed and violent viewers or dealt with swatting, a sometimes deadly stunt in which someone calls the local police to report a fake crime at a streamer’s home, hoping the raid will be caught live on camera.

In response to the harassment, threats and stalkers she has endured since joining Twitch in 2016, Ms. Siragusa has bought guns, installed security cameras and gotten a Caucasian shepherd, a breed of guard dog, named Bear. She has been swatted so often that law enforcement agencies in her area know to check her Twitch stream when they get a call. Last year, when a trash can outside Ms. Siragusa’s house caught on fire, police suspected arson….

(4) ORIGIN STORY. George Jetson was born today, July 31, 2022. Don’t ask me where – I only know that in The Jetsons he lived in Orbit City. But NPR can tell you why the date is a logical inference.

…Here’s how the math works: The show first aired in 1962, but was set 100 years in the future. That would be 2062.

During the first season of the show, George reveals that he’s 40 years old. So 2062 minus 40, and there you go.

The fact-checking website Snopes looked into the claim and concluded it is, in fact, a “reasonable estimation of his birth year.”…

(5) TONOPAH TALES. You can read “John Hertz’s Westercon Notebook” at Cheryl Morgan’s Salon Futura.

… Holding a Westercon there was Lisa Hayes’ idea. The Tonopah Convention Center had been a USO hall (United Services Organization; entertainment, hospitality for armed-forces personnel and their families) when armed forces had bases nearby. The Belvada Hotel 100 yards (90 m) away, and the Mizpah Hotel 150 yards (140 m) away, are historic buildings. A 2,000-person Westercon wouldn’t fit there, but a 200-person Westercon, about what could be expected even with COVID-19 easing, would. Hayes was vindicated. 278 attending memberships were sold (and 59 supporting memberships); 159 people arrived. This was an intimate con. It was also hybrid, with some programming available virtually via Zoom. The Convention Center was its hub, like a great Hospitality Suite….

(6) CLARION NEWS. The Clarion Write-a-Thon ended July 30. They raised $4,232.00, which is not as much as they hoped. However, they are still accepting donations.

As it is the last day of our annual Write-a-Thon, there’s still time to squeeze in some writing towards your goal or help us get closer to our fundraising goal! A huge thank you to all of the participants, cheerleaders, signal-boosters, and donors who have helped us with the Write-a-Thon this summer. This annual fundraiser is an essential source of scholarships that provide opportunities for future students.

(7) MEMORY LANE.  

1966 [By Cat Eldridge.] Robert Bloch was a very prolific genre writer and among those writings were three scripts for the original Trek series. (IMDb says that he wrote fifty-five tv and film scripts in total.) I would argue that his three Trek episodes were among the best episodes done. So let’s look at them

The first of them was the one I was least aware that he’d done, “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” A season one undertaking, this is a straight SF story involving androids, one of whom of is played by Ted Cassidy as Ruk. I’d rate it a decent story. The make-up on Cassidy is quite wonderfully done. And yes, we get a bit of eye candy as well, something Trek did in its female androids more than once. 

Now the next Trek story, “Wolf in the Fold”, from the second season, with its take off the Ripper mythos is delightful indeed. Bloch does horror very, very well and within the restrictions of Sixties television governing what can be shown for blood and violence, he does quite a bit here. I’ll single out the acting of the nebbish like killer Administrator Hengist as played by John Fiedler. 

Now I admit that I had to go back and rewatch “Catspaw”, another second season episode, as I sort of remembered it but not quite though I knew Bloch had scripted it. Fortunately I subscribe to Paramount+, home of everything Trek. Ahhh, now I remember the All Hallows episode with the delightful Antoinette Bower as Sylvia and Theo Marcuse as Korob. And let’s not forget the cat as where would All Hallows’ Eve be without a cat. All in all a most wonderful tale. 

Bloch I’d say acquitted himself most admirably in these three scripts. 

Robert Bloch

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 31, 1932 Ted Cassidy. He’s best known for the role of Lurch on The Addams Family in the mid-1960s. If you’ve got a good ear, you’ll recall that he narrated The Incredible Hulk series. And he played the part of the android Ruk in the episode “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” on Trek which is mentioned above in today’s featured essay and provided the voices of the more strident version of Balok in the “The Corbomite Maneuver” episode and the Gorn in the “Arena” episode. In The Man from U.N.C.L.E. “The Napoleon’s Tomb Affair” episode, he was Edgar, who kidnapped, tortured, and repeatedly attempted to kill Napoleon and Illya. And failed magnificently.  I watched a few months back. (Died 1979.)
  • Born July 31, 1939 France Nuyen, 83. She showed up in the original Trek as “Elaan of Troyius” as Elaan and was on the new Outer Limits in the “Ripper” episode.  She was in the original Fantasy Island series, also the Battle for the Planet of the ApesAutoman, and The Six Million Dollar Man series.
  • Born July 31, 1950 Steve Miller, 72. He is married to Sharon Lee, and they are the creators of the vast and throughly entertaining Liaden universe. I was surprised though they’ve won both a Golden Duck and Skylark that they have never been nominated for a Hugo. 
  • Born July 31, 1951 Jo Bannister, 71. Though best known as a most excellent British crime fiction novelist, she has three SF novels to her credit, all written in the early Eighties — The MatrixThe Winter Plain and A Cactus Garden. ISFDB lists one short story by her as genre, “Howler”, but I wasn’t at all aware that Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine printed genre fiction which is where it appeared first though y’all corrected me when I first ran this Birthday note several years back. 
  • Born July 31, 1956 Michael Biehn, 66. Best known in genre circles as Sgt. Kyle Reese in The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Cpl. Dwayne Hicks in Aliens and Lt. Coffey in The Abyss. He was also The Sandman in a single episode of Logan’s Run. Though not even genre adjacent, he was Johnny Ringo in the magnificent Tombstone film. Likewise he was in The Magnificent Seven series as Chris Larabee.
  • Born July 31, 1959 Kim Newman, 62. Though best known for his Anno Dracula series, I’d like to single him out for his early work, Nightmare Movies: A critical history of the horror film, 1968–88, a very serious history of horror films. It was followed up with the equally great Wild West Movies: Or How the West Was Found, Won, Lost, Lied About, Filmed and Forgotten. He’s also a prolific genre writer and his first published novel, The Night Mayor, sounds very intriguing. 
  • Born July 31, 1962 Wesley Snipes, 60. The first actor to be Blade in the Blade film franchise where I thought he made the perfect Blade. (There’s a new Blade actor though they name escapes right now. Most likely deservedly.) I also like him a lot as Simon Phoenix in Demolition Man. And he was Aman in Gallowwalkers, a Western horror film.
  • Born July 31, 1976 John Joseph Adams, 46. Anthologist of whom I’m very fond. He did The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dead Man’s Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West. He was the Assistant Editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction for nearly a decade, and he’s been editing both Lightspeed Magazine since the early part of the previous decade. He is the series editor of The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. Nominated for the Hugo many times, he won for the Lightspeed prozine at Loncon 3 (2014) with Rich Horton and Stefan Rudnicki and at Sasquan (2015) with Horton, Rudnicki, Wendy N. Wagner and Christie Yant. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! has a plan for a more powerful monster.
  • Off the Mark reveals the original French name of the movie Jaws.
  • Calvin and Hobbes is about Calvin’s science fiction story.

(10) SPLISH, SPLASH. Amazon is taking a bath. “Amazon reports $2B net loss in Q2” reports Becker’s Health IT.

Amazon reported a $2 billion net loss in the second quarter ending June 30, a blow to the company that reported net income of $7.8 billion in the same period last year.

Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon, blamed inflation among other issues for the disappointing quarter.

“Despite continued inflationary pressures in fuel, energy, and transportation costs, we’re making progress on the more controllable costs we referenced last quarter, particularly improving the productivity of our fulfillment network,” Mr. Jassy said.

The announcement comes on the heels of Amazon’s plans to purchase One Medical for $3.9 billion last week.

(11) FOR YOUR MT. TBR. Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy makes recommendations in “New And Notable Film Books July 2022 – Part One”. For example —

THE DISNEY REVOLT: THE GREAT LABOR WAR OF ANIMATION’S GOLDEN AGE by Jake S. Friedman (Chicago Review Press)

This deeply researched book tells the backstory of the notorious strike that occurred at the Walt Disney studio in 1941. It was a life-altering event for Walt and its aftereffects were still felt decades later. One of its many ironies is that it pitted Disney against the man he once regarded as his star animator, Art Babbitt. They would become blood enemies as a result of Babbitt’s passionate unionism—and his strident nature.

Students and followers of Disney know his side of the story by now, but may not recall that his father Elias was an active socialist. His upbringing wasn’t so very different from that of Arthur Babitsky, the son of Russian immigrants, who was born in Omaha, Nebraska. Fate brought these two gifted and strong-willed individuals together as Disney was envisioning new horizons for animation in the early 1930s….

(12) BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE. CNN’s reviewer Brian Lowry finds “‘DC League of Super-Pets’ goes to the dogs in more ways than one”.

Who’s a good movie? Not “DC League of Super-Pets,” a big colorful idea that proves promising in theory – tailor-made for a two-minute trailer – but a rather tedious slog as a full-length animated film. Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart’s “Jumanji” reunion as the central voices and an intriguing start to serve up a few bones fun-wise, but not nearly as much as there should be….

(13) PREPARE TO DIE. Paul Weimer tells us what he heard while listening to The Killing Machine, second in the audio reissue of Jack Vance’s Demon Princes series: “Microreview: The Killing Machine by Jack Vance” at Nerds of a Feather.

…Something I didn’t appreciate when I first read (and re-read) these novels previously but is now clear to me know is the role of serendipitous luck in how these novels kick off. It is luck and chance in both volumes that puts Gersen in the path of this latest foe, quite by chance and accident, and he spends the rest of the novel trying to force a decisive confrontation with the Demon Prince. Also in both novels, there is a sense of “I want you to know it was me” Olenna Tyrell sort of feel to Gersen’s revenge. Shooting the Demon Prince out of the sky is not quite satisfactory enough for Gersen  The Prince must face his avenger…. 

(14) ARTIFICIAL INNUENDO. On The Tonight Show artificial intelligence doesn’t sound any smarter than the ordinary kind. So should I admit that I listened ’til the end? “Bruce the Robot Performs a Freestyle Rap About Hot Dogs and Taylor Swift”.

The world’s first autonomous AI-powered robot, Bruce the Robot, talks about his desire to fly first class, tells Jimmy his best pickup line and shows off his rapping skills.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Adam Savage’s Tested looks at an animatronic Baby Yoda at Comi-Con built by Garner Holt Productions.  The price of this “bespoke” object isn’t mentioned, because, if you have to ask you can’t afford him! “Lifelike Animatronic Grogu Puppet at Comic-Con 2022!”

The highlight of Comic-Con 2022 so far is this fully animatronic Grogu from EFX Collectibles, designed by the engineers and artists at Garner Holt Productions. We get up close with this incredible animated puppet, which uses 15 servos to recreate all of the character’s joyful expressions seen in The Mandalorian. Star Wars fans at San Diego Comic-Con have to check this out!

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

Pixel Scroll 7/9/22 Pixeled In The Scroll By A Chuck Tingle Pixel Scroll Title

(1) CULTURAL INSIGHTS INTO A MULTIVERSE. [Item by Soon Lee.] This terrific article by S. Qiouyi Lu explores many aspects of Everything Everywhere All at Once from a Chinese-American perspective that might not be immediately apparent to a Western viewer. At Strange Horizons: “Everything Everywhere All At Once”. SPOILERS.

…It was as if I had just seen my own brain projected onto the screen. And there were things in Everything Everywhere All At Once that I’d never seen before on the big screen. I’m not talking about the dildo fights, though those were indeed new to me. I’m talking more about seeing an immigrant Chinese mother allowed to fail, and fail repeatedly; seeing a dorky Chinese dad be a badass and a love interest; seeing a Chinese family openly having emotionally vulnerable reconciliations with each other; seeing an entire cast of people from multiple Chinese diasporas coming together to create a movie in which the greatest villain to defeat is the bureaucracy excluding Chinese people from being part of the United States. Nor had I ever seen a movie that so thoroughly reflected my own philosophical, moral, and ethical understandings of the world, mirroring them so closely that I wept with the resonance of its message….

(2) HE, THE JURY. Alex Hormann of the At Boundary’s Edge review site discusses his experience as a judge in the inaugural Self-Published Science Fiction Competition: “SPSFC At Boundary’s Edge: Closing Thoughts”.

Who Is It For?

This one has been weighing on my mind a lot recently. When I look at social media, there are two groups I see talking about the SPSFC. The first are the judges, promoting their reviews and favourite books. The second group is the authors themselves, sharing the positive reviews and using the contest to support each other. This is all great, by the way. While I do think the self-publishing community can be a little insular and self-congratulatory at times, that goes for just about any group of people. But what I’m not seeing a whole lot of is readers. Now, it’s always going to be true that most people who visit a blog aren’t going to comment or engage beyond their initial reading, but it has left the SPSFC feeling somewhat inward-looking. If the majority of the interest is from bloggers and writers, then the SPSFC isn’t really helping books find a wider audience, which to me is the whole point of the competition. For context, the fewer books I talk about in a post, the fewer views it receives. The initial cut posts are all in the three figure range, while the individual reviews still sit in the double digits. To me, this suggests that the people reading the reviews are the authors and their already interested following. I could be wrong about this though. If you’ve found a book through the SPSFC, do let me know.

The caveat here is that this is only year one of the SPSFC. Success doesn’t come overnight. It grows over time. Right now the only people following the SPSFC are those with a stake in it. Next year, there will presumably be more. Exposure is an exponential curve….

(3) SILENTS ARE GOLDEN. The New York Times’ Calum Marsh has a pretty good handle on “The Real Reason the Minions Have Taken Over the World”.

…“Despicable Me” is Gru’s story, but it’s the Minions that made the biggest impression, leading to a larger role in “Despicable Me 2” (2013) and their own vehicle in 2015. Central to their appeal is their unique manner of communicating. Voiced by [Pierre] Coffin himself, they speak a peculiar, made-up language, Minionese, that is both indecipherable and strangely coherent. A gibberish tongue that borrows words from English, Spanish, Dutch and other languages, it has a bubbly, mellifluous tone that is used to almost musical effect. When the Minions hijack an airplane in “Rise of Gru,” one makes an announcement to the passengers over the intercom. What he says is nonsense. But it sounds exactly like the bland, soothing patter of a pilot before takeoff; that you get the gist of the message without identifying a single word is the joke.

Of course, because the Minions don’t use a comprehensible language, their humor isn’t based on spoken jokes. This has doubtless helped the franchise find success abroad — with few punch lines in English, little is lost in translation. But the emphasis on sight gags and physical humor makes the Minions films very different from what you’d expect of family-friendly modern animation. Given the abundance of acrobatic antics, pratfalls and slapstick action, what the Minion movies end up resembling most is silent-era comedies.

Coffin has often mentioned the influence of silent comedians on the style and spirit of the Minions, and he has said he drew inspiration from such titans of the form as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, particularly their gift for “telling a story through character that conveys humor, emotion, even plasticity.”…

(4) FIRST, THEY HAD TO FIND THEM. [Item by Michael Toman.] “Don’t Bogart that old NASA Voyager manual, pass it over to me?” “NASA’s Voyager 1 from the ’70s is glitching. Engineers are consulting 45-year-old manuals to troubleshoot.” reports Business Insider.

…During the first 12 years of the Voyager mission, thousands of engineers worked on the project, according to Dodd. “As they retired in the ’70s and ’80s, there wasn’t a big push to have a project document library. People would take their boxes home to their garage,” Dodd added. In modern missions, NASA keeps more robust records of documentation.

There are some boxes with documents and schematic stored off-site from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Dodd and the rest of Voyager’s handlers can request access to these records. Still, it can be a challenge. “Getting that information requires you to figure out who works in that area on the project,” Dodd said. 

For Voyager 1’s latest glitch, mission engineers have had to specifically look for boxes under the name of engineers who helped design the altitude-control system. “It’s a time consuming process,” Dodd said…. 

(5) IT’S A THOR SPOT WITH HIM. Leonard Maltin drops the hammer on the latest Marvel film: “Thor: Love, Thunder And Shtick” at Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy.

… But there can be too much of a good thing, as anyone who’s overindulged in chocolate or ice cream can verify. The new Thor: Love and Thunder is a scattered affair that, at a certain point, is played as out-and-out comedy. Can this really be Chris Hemsworth spouting gag lines? Is his relationship to Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) a springboard for sitcom-style jokes? Even the rock-like creature Korg, played by Waititi, wears out his welcome before this meandering story concludes….

(6) YOU WON’T HAVE TO SHELL OUT FOR THESE PEANUTS. “Charles M. Schulz: An American Cartoonist” is a free online event hosted by the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum of Ohio State University. The webinar will run July 23 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Register at the link.

Join us via Zoom for a pictorial journey through Charles M. Schulz’s life and career and learn why Peanuts is one of the most popular and influential comic strips ever. This live, interactive experience includes a hands-on, how-to-draw Snoopy workshop at the end. This event is presented by the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California in partnership with the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum’s exhibition Celebrating Sparky.

(7) L. Q. JONES (1927-2022) L. Q. Jones, a character actor with a deep resume, who also directed A Boy and His Dog based on the Harlan Ellison story, died July 8. His first film role was a solder in Battle Cry (1955), and his latest was in Robert Altman’s final film A Prairie Home Companion (2006). Variety adds:

…Jones’ career also extended beyond screen acting, producing four independent features over his life. He produced, directed and wrote the 1975 feature “A Boy and His Dog,” which is adapted from Harlan Ellison’s novella of the same name. Jones began the project as an executive producer, but took over writing and directing responsibilities as other collaborators fell through.

A post-apocalyptic black comedy, “A Boy and His Dog” follows a teenager and his telepathic dog as they fight for survival in the southwestern U.S. of 2024, a time when nuclear fallout grips the world. Starring a young Don Johnson and Jason Robards, Jones’ fellow Peckinpah alum, the film has garnered the reputation of a cult classic over the years, with Jones stating that director George Miller cited it as an influence for his “Mad Max” series…

Jones and Ellison were both on hand at DisCon II (1974) where a rough cut of the movie was shown. It was really rough, because one of the two 35mm projectors broke down and they were forced to show it one reel at a time, with yawn-inducing delays each time they mounted the new reel. And when it was shown again at next year’s NASFiC in LA – the same thing happened!

(8) MEMORY LANE

1987 [By Cat Eldridge.] An Appreciation: Ellen Kushner’s Riverside series

I read it starting with the first book Swordspoint: A Melodrama of Manners. The second paragraph of that novel has this lovely sentence: “Let the fairy tale begin on a winter’s morning, then, with one drop of blood newly-fallen on the ivory snow: a drop as bright as a clear-cut ruby, red as a single spot of claret on the lace cuff.” Oh my. 

I was hooked. A novel that was a fantasy of manners as Kushner called it, set in a city where it was always winter, where being gay was normal and nothing to be commented upon, conversations are sharp as the ever-present sword fighting is and the drink of choice is hot chocolate. What was there not to love? 

Riverside itself is a fascinating setting. As the name implies the place is set up in now decaying buildings near a river which I don’t recall as ever being named. Kushner simply calls it “an unsavoury quarter in a prosperous city”. It is always cold there, and dressing properly is of course important as is dressing with a degree of elegance. One character notes that “He felt the cold, the wind cutting across the river, even in his new clothes. He had bought himself a heavy cloak, jacket, and fur-lined gloves.”

Oh, and the stories told here are quite fascinating. I’m going to avoid talking about them as there’s a good possibility that some of you might not have read this series yet. Our Green Man reviewer of Swordspoint in his retrospective review said “I once called this book ‘elegant, magical, and bitchy’,” and that, I think, still catches the feel of it. George R. R. Martin said “Swordspoint has an unforgettable opening . . . and just gets better from there.” That’s only the truth.” 

If you decide to read the series, you are for a extended and absolutely great reading experience as there would be quite a few novels to come telling a complex story that will extend over a considerable period of time. There are also a number of short stories too.

There are also audiobooks of the series which I should bring to your attention as these are full cast productions in which damn near everyone performs including Neil Gaiman and Simon Jones. It’s a stellar experience. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 9, 1906 Walter Sande. He’s best remembered for being on Red Planet MarsThe War of the Worlds and Invaders from Mars, but he also showed up playing a heavy in such serials as The Green Hornet Strikes Again! and Sky Raiders, the latter being at least genre adjacent. He’s had a recurring role as Col. Crockett on The Wild Wild West, and one-offs on Voyage to the Bottom of The SeaThe Man from U.N.C.L.E.Lost in Space and Bewitched. (Died 1971.)
  • Born July 9, 1911 Mervyn Peake. Best remembered for the Gormenghast series which is quite delightfully weird. Most fans hold that there are but three novels in the series (Titus Groan, Gormenghast and Titus Alone) though there’s a novella, “Boy in Darkness”, that is a part of it. It has been adapted for radio three times and television once, and Gaiman is writing the script for a forthcoming series which isn’t out yet. (Died 1968.)
  • Born July 9, 1938 Brian Dennehy. One of my favorite performers. He was Walter in the Cocoon films, and, though it’s more genre adjacent than actually genre, Lt. Leo McCarthy in F/X and F/X 2 which I immensely enjoyed. He also voiced Django in Ratatouille, a film that was, err, very tasty.Sorry I couldn’t resist the pun. I thought his very last performance was as Jerome Townsend in the “Sing, Sing, Sing” episode of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels series, but he shot three films that either have come out since he died, or will, none genre or genre adjacent. (Died 2020.)
  • Born July 9, 1944 Glen Cook, 78. Yes, I’ve read his entire excellent Black Company series. I’ve also mostly liked his far lighter Garrett P.I. series (though not the last novel for reasons I’ll not discuss here) which it seems unfortunately he’s abandoned. And I really should read the Instrumentalities of the Night as I’ve heard good things about it. I’m really, really surprised not only that he hasn’t won any awards, but how few he’s been nominated for. 
  • Born July 9, 1954 Ellen Klages, 68. Her story “Basement Magic” won a Nebula Award for Best Novelette. I strongly recommend Portable Childhoods, a collection of her short fiction, published by Tachyon Publications, my favorite publisher of fantasy. They released another collection from her, Wicked Wonders, which is equally wonderful. Passing Strange, her novel set in 1940s San Francisco, which won a BSFA Award and a World Fantasy Award, is also really great. Ok, I really like her.
  • Born July 9, 1970 Ekaterina Sedia, 52. Her Heart of Iron novel which was nominated for a Sidewise Award for Alternate History is simply awesome. I’d also recommend The Secret History of Moscow and the recent The House of Discarded Dreams as well, the latter is a fantastic audio work which is narrated by Robin Miles. It’s worth noting that the usual suspects list several collections by her, Willful Impropriety: 13 Tales of Society, Scandal, and Romance and Wilfill Impropriety that ISFDB doesn’t list. They’re quite superb it turns out as is Paper Cities: An Anthology of Urban Fantasy for which she won a World Fantasy Award. She had a story out just last year, “Ghost Shop”, in Professor Charlatan Bardot’s Travel Anthology to the Most (Fictional) Haunted Buildings in the Weird, Wild World.  She’s amply stocked at the usual suspects. She’s also very deeply stocked at the audio suspects as well which sort of surprised and delighted me as I’ve added a number of her works to my To Be Listened to list, including The House of Discarded Dreams which sounds really fascinating in the manner of Gaiman’s Sandman.
  • Born July 9, 1978 Linda Park, 44. Best known for her portrayal of communications officer Hoshi Sato on Enterprise, a series that deeply divides Trekkies. (I really liked it.) Her first genre role was Hannah in Jurassic Park III, and she was Renee Hansen in the Spectres filmwhich Marina Sirtis was also in. She was in something called Star Trek: Captain Pike as Captain Grace Shintal. It has to be another one of those fan video fictions which are quite common. Her latest genre role was in For All Mankind as Amy Chang in the “Pathfinder” episode. 
  • Born July 9, 1995 Georgie Henley, 27. English actress, best remembered for her portrayal of Lucy Pevensie throughout the Chronicles of Narnia film franchise from age ten to age fifteen. Not even vaguely genre adjacent, she recently played Margaret, Queen of Scots in The Spanish Princess.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side features a Stone Age alien encounter.
  • Tom Gauld’s latest cartoon for the Guardian:

 (11) FANS MOURN TAKAHASHI. In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna has an appreciation for “Yu-Gi-Oh” creator Kazuki Takahashi. “’Yu-Gi-Oh!’ creator Kazuki Takahashi dies at 60”.

…Takahashi’s creatures range from horror to fantasy, yet “there’s a common craftsmanship among them — the kind of thing that reveals hidden details over time, as well as the visceral ‘Oh my God, that looks so rad,’ ” [Daniel Dockery, senior writer for Crunchyroll] said. “The fact that they would be summoned in a world not too unlike our own makes them even more appealing to the eye. They are truly yours to adore and play with, making you feel powerful and inspired in equal measure.”

Takahashi had recently worked on this year’s Marvel’s “Secret Reverse,” a manga graphic novel team-up featuring Spider-Man and Iron Man/Tony Stark, who travels to a Japanese gaming convention….

(12) OH, THOSE REBELLIOUS YOUNG PEOPLE. The New York Times is curious: “‘Why Is Everyone Wearing Suits?’: #GentleMinions Has Moviegoers Dressing Up”.  

Normally when Carson Paskill heads to the movie theater, he opts for a comfortable outfit of sweatpants and a sweatshirt. But last weekend, he arrived in a black suit, white collared shirt and dress shoes.

Mr. Paskill, 20, attended a screening of “Minions: The Rise of Gru” at the Century 16 in Beaverton, Ore., on July 2 with eight of his friends, all dressed in suits for the occasion.

“Anybody over the age of 25 was, like, really, really confused about what we were doing there,” said Mr. Paskill, who has 1.6 million followers on TikTok. “Like, ‘why is everyone wearing suits?’”

The inspiration is a TikTok trend known as #GentleMinions, which has amassed more than 61 million views on the platform. It encourages “Minions” moviegoers to film themselves as they dress up in suits and sunglasses to attend screenings of the latest installment of the “Despicable Me” series….

(13) HOW DO YOU GET THIS THING OUT OF SECOND GEAR? “Why the [expletive] can’t we travel back in time?” from Ars Technica in 2021.

Look, we’re not totally ignorant about time. We know that the dimension of time is woven together with the three dimensions of space, creating a four-dimensional fabric for the Universe. We know that the passage of time is relative; depending on your frame of reference, you can slip forward into the future as gently as you please. (You just need to either go close to the speed of light or get cozy with a black hole, but those are just minor problems of engineering, not physics.)

But as far as we can tell, we can’t reverse the flow of time. All evidence indicates that travel into the past is forbidden in our Universe. Every time we try to concoct a time machine, some random rule of the Universe comes in and slaps our hand away from the temporal cookie jar.

And yet, we have no idea why. The reasons really seem random; there is nothing fundamental we can point to, no law or equation or concept that definitively explains why thou shalt not travel into the past. And that’s pretty frustrating. It’s obvious that the Universe is telling us something important… we just don’t know what it’s saying.

Go ahead, kill your grandfather

There are all sorts of philosophical debates for and against the possibility of time travel. Take, for example, the famous “grandfather paradox.” Let’s say you build a time machine and travel back in time. You find your own grandfather and shoot him dead (I don’t know why, but roll with me here). But wait… if your grandfather is dead, it means he can’t father your father, which means you never exist. So how did you go back in time to do the awful deed?…

(14) CATCH A FALLING STAR. In this week’s Nature: “European mission plans to ambush a rare comet”.

The European Space Agency (ESA) last month approved the first mission that will launch without a pre-selected target. Instead, it will wait in space, ready to fly at short notice.

The Comet Interceptor mission will launch in 2028 and will travel to a point of gravitational stability 1.5 million kilometres from Earth. Once there, it will be able to wait for up to six years for a suitable comet to pass close enough to Earth’s orbit to visit. If that occurs, the probe will leave on a fly-by course. The main spacecraft will approach to a distance of about 1,000 kilometres — far enough away to avoid being damaged by nearby material — while two smaller probes will dive closer, down to as little as 400 kilometres from the surface.

The goal is to find a pristine object, known as a long-period comet, that is approaching the Sun for the first time. The encounter would provide a window on material that formed at the dawn of the Solar System, 4.5 billion years ago. Other missions have visited comets that have been altered by the Sun because they have spent time in the inner Solar System.

Alternatively, the craft could intercept an object from another solar system, similar to the rock ‘Oumuamua, which crossed the Solar System in 2017.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: V Rising,” you play a vampire who isn’t harmed that much by sunlight, “Making him like a really committed Goth.”  But the real vampires are the gamers who spend too long on this “because they’re sucking their parents’ retirement money.”

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

Pixel Scroll 7/6/22 I Come From A Pixel Down Under, Where Fen Scroll and Pros Wonder

(1) HEARING FROM DELANY. Sally Wiener Grotta kicks off a new video interview series — “What If? Why Not? How?” – with the help of Samuel Delany (who has more to say in the comments at Facebook).

A few weeks ago, when Samuel Delany and I were at a gathering of friends at Michael Swanwick‘s and Marianne Porter’s home, he explained why he feels that spelling “black” with a capital “B” is racist. As is always true, Chip’s discourse was fascinating, keeping us spellbound. There and then, I knew I would want to record him on the subject. So, here he is, helping me launch my new video interview series: “What If? Why Not? How?” 

(2) IN PERSON IN SAN DIEGO. Heidi McDonald scouts the layout for Publishers Weekly in “San Diego Comic-Con Is Back”.

For the first time in three years, San Diego Comic-Con is returning as an in-person event. However, in a world changed by an ongoing global pandemic, even the gigantic pop culture institution will look very different when fans finally return to the San Diego Convention Center July 20–24.

It’s all part of the event industry’s transition away from the most severe pandemic restrictions, as comics publishers and media companies approach events, sales, and marketing in a new social and economic landscape. For publishers, online sales have soared, and the cost of exhibiting at giant pop culture conventions isn’t always justified financially. Nevertheless, the glamour and excitement of SDCC remains a draw, and the intangible value of seeing popular artists, as well as industry colleagues, in person has been much missed.

But this year the layout of the exhibit floor at the San Diego Convention Center will feature significant changes. Warner Bros. Discovery, the newly formed parent company of DC, has pulled out of the massive booth that once anchored the end of one hall and housed DC’s SDCC booth presence. DC will have a full lineup of panels and talent, but no booth. Dark Horse Comics, which has had a large centrally located booth for years, will also be missing, along with the longtime floor presence of indie publisher Drawn & Quarterly and publisher/merchandise producer Graphitti Designs. Image Comics, also a major presence on the exhibit floor, will have a much smaller booth.

Making up for this, newer graphic novel publishers, such as Immortal Studios, Interpop, Tapas Media/Wuxia World, Three Worlds/Three Moons, and Z2, will have booths for the first time….

(3) TRACKING COVID AFTER WESTERCON. Westercon 74, held over the July 4th weekend in Tonopah, has created a COVID tracking page on its website to collate COVID-19 reports.

We ask that any person who contracts COVID-19 during Westercon 74 or for one week following the convention please send an email to [email protected] so that we can track any possible outbreak. We will not release any personally-identifying information without prior approval from the person who reports having been infected.

So far there is one report from an attendee of Westercon 74 reporting a positive COVID-19 self-test.

Kevin Standlee emphasizes, “We won’t report personal information without the person’s permission.”

(4) A SLICE OF MIDDLE-EARTH. Here’s about 25% of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Prime Video Exclusive Sneak Peek available today to Prime Video subscribers.

(5) DOMINIQUE DICKEY Q&A. Sarah Gailey interviews “Dominique Dickey of Plant Girl Game, “a cozy tabletop roleplaying game about a family of plant children working together to prevent an ecological disaster.” The crowdfunding appeal for the game is open for another 14 days at Gamefound.

The character age range for this game is young, ranging from 11 years old and up. What makes a child or adolescent’s perspective on community unique?

Children often think of very simple solutions to complex problems, because they’re more immersed in how the world should work than how it actually functions. Adolescents tend to run face first into that complexity: I remember at the age of fifteen or so, going from “Well, why can’t we just fix climate change?” to “A lot of very powerful people are invested in maintaining the status quo, and we have a narrow window of time in which to break that status quo, and it won’t be easy to do so.” I was absolutely enraged, because the childish part of me was still unable to conceptualize cruelty on a larger scale than playground bullies or mean girls in the locker room. I had a child’s expansive empathy, and wasn’t able to understand why anyone would lack that empathy.

Which is a roundabout way of saying that I want players to face that tension. I want players to begin a session of Plant Girl Game with the childlike knowledge that the world should be a kinder, fairer place, and leave with the adolescent realization that if we want that world—for ourselves and for our loved ones—we’re going to have to fight like hell for it….

(6) BE A FRINGE FAN IN A GOOD WAY. [Item by Alison Scott.] Filers might in general be interested in the Chicon Fringe programme, with local Chicago and online events. Events are free and you do not need to be a Chicon 8 member to attend. 

But I’m writing specifically because I’m hosting, on behalf of Glasgow in 2024, an online ‘book club’ discussion on the Best Fanzine finalists.

Tuesday 19th July, 19:30 p.m. BST, 1:30 p.m. CDT. Tickets, which are free, are available at Eventbrite here.

It would be lovely to see Filers, and fanzine readers more generally, there. 

(7) DEVELOPING FRIENDSHIPS. Elizabeth Bear’s guest post on Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog is about a different bit than she anticipated: “My Favorite Bit: Elizabeth Bear Talks About The Origin of Storms.

When I sat down to write this essay, I was thinking that I was going to write about the extremely ancient and slightly dimensionally shifted dragon, possibly, or maybe that I was going to write about the snarky magic pen. But (“upon contemplation,” as they say) I realized my favorite part of The Origin of Storms—the thing that was absolutely the most fun to write—is the friendships…..

(8) ON THE TUBE. “Neil Gaiman’s Books Have Enchanted Millions. Finally, Hollywood Is on Board” reports the Washington Post.

…“All of the things that made ‘Sandman’ wonderful were the same things that made it almost impossible to adapt for film and television for 30 years,” says David S. Goyer, a filmmaker and producer who was a co-writer on the “Dark Knight” Batman trilogy. “All of the features that we love about ‘Sandman’ — that it is, in essence, a story about stories — are the bugs that stymied Hollywood.”

Today that is no longer the case. Quietly and steadily over the past six years, Gaiman has matched some of the most prolific creators in Hollywood. And after 32 years trapped in the purgatory of Hollywood development, a 10-episode series based on “The Sandman” will premiere on Netflix on Aug. 5. Developed by Gaiman, Goyer and writer Allan Heinberg, it represents one of the streaming service’s biggest-budget original productions. Meanwhile, Gaiman’s 2005 novel “Anansi Boys,” a modern twist on the ancient stories of the West African trickster god Anansi, is now an Amazon Studios series in postproduction, and “Good Omens” recently wrapped filming its second season. These follow on the heels of the series“American Gods,” which premiered in 2017 on Starz — earning two Emmy nominations for its first season — and aired its third season last year.

In total, Gaiman has seven shows that he has developed or that are based on his writing, with more in the works. He has become the great adapter, pulling from the store of fable and myth for his books, and transmogrifying his written work into radio and stage plays, audiobooks and movies. And now television.

Gaiman’s books “couldn’t get made in a three-network landscape,” Hamm says, owing to their complexity. As television has matured, though, so too have the opportunities to tell more-nuanced stories….

(9) MEMORY LANE

1957 [By Cat Eldridge.] Sixty-five year ago, one of the very best Warner Bros. cartoons ever done was released on this in the form of Bugs Bunny’s “What’s Opera, Doc?”

It directed by Chuck Jones as written by Michael Maltese whose longest association not unsurprisingly was with Warner Bros. Cartoons, though he did work with other animators such as MGM Cartoons and Hanna-Barbera.

BEWARE! SPOILERS! I MEAN IT! 

In this cartoon, Elmer is chasing Bugs through a number of Richard Wagner’s operas, including Der Ring des NibelungenDer Fliegende Holländer, and Tannhäuser. Fudd is dressed as Siegfried and Bugs as Brunhilda to start it off and then, well let’s just say it’s just it gets even more manic. 

Bugs is apparently dead at the end of the cartoon as Fudd carries him off but he suddenly breaks the fourth wall and raises his head to face the audience while remarking, “Well, what did you expect in an opera? A happy ending?”

END SPOILERS

Given it has only two characters, it won’t surprise there’s only two voice actors. Mel Blanc was Bugs Bunny (as Brünnhilde) and  Elmer Fudd (yelling “SMOG”) which is no surprise, but the surprise for me that that Mel Blanc wasn’t Elmer Fudd being Siegfried but rather it was Arthur Q. Bryan who went uncredited in the cartoon.

It has been voted the best Warner Bros. Cartoon ever. 

A look at the iTunes stores shows it is available there. 

There’s are clips from it legally up YouTube but the entire cartoon is not so please do not offer links to such as they’ll just need to be removed as we don’t host pirated material here. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 6, 1916 — Donald R. Christensen. Animator, cartoonist, illustrator, writer. He worked briefly at Warner Bros. studio, primarily as a storyboard artist for Bob Clampett’s animation unit.  After that, he worked for Dell, Gold Key and Western Publishing comic books, as well as Hanna Barbera, Walter Lantz Productions and other cartoon studios. He wrote and provided illustrations for such comic book titles as Magnus, Robot Fighter, Donald Duck, and Uncle Scrooge. (Died 2006.)
  • Born July 6, 1918 — Sebastian Cabot. He’s here because he’s in The Time Machine, which was nominated for a Hugo at Seacon, as Dr. Philip Hillyer. Several years later, he’ll be in the animated The Sword in the Stone voicing both Lord Ector and The Narrator. Likewise he’d be Bagheera in The Jungle Book, and The Narrator in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Lastly he shows up in several episodes of Fifties series Conrad Nagel Theater. (Died 1977.)
  • Born July 6, 1927 — Janet Leigh. Certainly best remembered as doomed Marion Crane in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. She would also be in with her daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, in both The Fog and Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. She’s also in the Night of the Lepus, a very odd 70s SF film. (Died 2004.)
  • Born July 6, 1945 — Rodney Matthews, 77. British illustrator and conceptual designer. Among his many endeavors was one with Michael Moorcock creating a series of 12 large posters that showed scenes from Moorcock’s ‘Eternal Champion’ series. This is turn became the Wizardry and Wild Romance calendar. He also worked work with Gerry Anderson on the Lavender Castle series. 
  • Born July 6, 1945 — Burt Ward, 77. Robin in that Batman series. He would reprise the role in voicing the character in The New Adventures of Batman and Legends of the Superheroes, and two animated films, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face. (Has anyone seen these?) The latter are the last work done by Adam West before his death. 
  • Born July 6, 1946 — Sylvester Stallone, 76. Although I think Stallone made a far less than perfect Dredd, I think the look and feel of the first film was spot on for the 2000 A.D. series which was something the second film, which though it had a perfect Dredd in Karl Urban, utterly lacked. And Demolition Man and him as Sergeant John Spartan were just perfect.
  • Born July 6, 1950 — Rick Sternbach, 72. Best known for his work in the Trek verse sharing with Star Trek: The Motion Picture where he designed control panel layouts and signage for the Enterprise. He’s next hired for Next Gen where communicator badge, phasers, PADDs and tricorders are all based on his designs. These designs will also be used on DS9 andVoyager. He also pretty much designed every starship during that time from from the Cardassian and Klingon ships to the Voyager itself. He would win Best Professional Artist Hugos at SunCon and IguanaCon II, and he was the Artist Guest of Honor at Denvention 3. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro is about a bit of financial planning for frogs that reminds me of a bit in Hitchhiker’s Guide.
  • The Argyle Sweater is funny – if you get the reference. I once had a 5-year-old, so I do.

(12) MALTIN ON MOVIES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to the podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Dean Fleischer Camp about Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.  Both the Maltins very much like this film. Camp doesn’t provide many technical details, although he credits animation director Kirsten Lepore with doing a lot of the work during the 2 1/2 years it took to make this film.  He also explained that Isabella Rosselini was attached to the project because she likes making quirky artistic choices. Camp also discussed how he and Jenny Slate, who voices Marcel and worked on the script, remain close professional collaborators even though they broke up their relationship. Fun unrelated fact:  director Mike Mills lifts the spirits of his set by bringing in a harpist every friday to play for an hour. Maltin on Movies: Dean Fleischer-Camp”.

The Maltins also had a 2017 conversation with Jenny, available here.

(13) UPGRADE. “The Mars Express spacecraft is finally getting a Windows 98 upgrade” reports The Verge. Although you probably want to know, the ESA hasn’t detailed the exact software that the MARSIS is being upgraded to.

Engineers at the European Space Agency (ESA) are getting ready for a Windows 98 upgrade on an orbiter circling Mars. The Mars Express spacecraft has been operating for more than 19 years, and the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding (MARSIS) instrument onboard has been using software built using Windows 98. Thankfully for humanity and the Red Planet’s sake, the ESA isn’t upgrading its systems to Windows ME.

The MARSIS instrument on ESA’s Mars Express was key to the discovery of a huge underground aquifer of liquid water on the Red Planet in 2018. This major new software upgrade “will allow it to see beneath the surfaces of Mars and its moon Phobos in more detail than ever before,” according to the ESA. The agency originally launched the Mars Express into space in 2003 as its first mission to the Red Planet, and it has spent nearly two decades exploring the planet’s surface….

(14) SOMETHING FOR HUMMERS TO BE HUMBLE ABOUT. “Over 11 years and 570 episodes, John Rabe and Team Off-Ramp scoured SoCal for the people, places, and ideas whose stories needed to be told, and the show became a love-letter to Los Angeles. Now, John is sharing selections from the Off-Ramp vault to help you explore this imperfect paradise.” Off-Ramp at LAist.

Alex Ross says you’re probably humming “Star Wars” wrong … and more on the surprising music of John Williams, who is NOT a copycat.

John Williams is so ubiquitous now, as former leader of the Boston Pops and the man behind the music for so many Lucas and Spielberg films; and old-fashioned lush orchestral scores are now so common, it’s hard to believe they were endangered a few decades ago. But they were, and Alex Ross, the New Yorker music writer, says you can thank Williams. In a long Off-Ramp interview from 2016 with tons of musical examples, Alex makes the case for Williams, and debunks the notion that the maestro is any sort of plagiarist. He also gamely demonstrates how to properly hum the Star Wars theme. Support for this podcast is made possible by Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live; and bythe Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. (Off-Ramp theme music by Fesliyan Studios.)

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Metal Gear Rising: Revengance,” the narrator says that this game is like equivalent of “if George Orwell downed 10 Monster Energies and asked you to cut up with a katana in the backyard.” It’s slice and dice action that “lets you rip through everything like a kid at Christmas.” And “revengance” means “revenge with a vengance.”

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

Pixel Scroll 7/3/22 Oh No, Not I, I Will Be Five; But As Long As I Know How To Read, I Know I’ll Stay Alive

(1) MARCHING WITH SHERMAN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to this podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with songwriter Richard Sherman, which they did in 2016 but recently reposted because Richard Sherman turned 92. Maltin on Movies: “Revisiting Richard Sherman”.

Leonard Maltin knows a lot about all aspects of cinema but what he really knows a great deal about is the history of animation and Disney films.  Much of this podcast is devoted to the idea that Walt Disney really was as nice as he presented himself on Sunday nights on “The Wonderful World of Disney.”  Sherman says Disney liked being called “Walt” and if he liked an idea said, “That’ll work!”  He also said that P.L. Travers, author of the Mary Poppins novels, was as fiercely protective of her intellectual property as portrayed in Saving Mr. Banks, and he has 16 hours of tapes with Travers to prove it.  She insisted the tapes be made as a record of her conversations.

Most of the conversation here is about Mary Poppins, which earned Sherman and his brother Robert Sherman two Oscars.  He only briefly mentions Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang, which had songs by Sherman and his brother and was in effect the James Bond people trying to do a Disney musical.  He does mention that he was working on an album containing songs for two unmade fantasy films:  Sir Puss-N-Boots and The 13 Clocks, based on the James Thurber novel.  These songs were released in 2016 by castalbums.org.

Fun fact: Voice actor Paul Winchell not only voiced Tigger, but also invented an artificial heart valve.

Disney fans will enjoy this hour.

(2) THE STRANGER THINGS EXPERIENCE. Delish brags, “We Tried All The Food At Stranger Things: The Experience”.

We’re beyond excited for part 2 of Stranger Things season 4. To get into the spirit, Team Delish traveled to the new Stranger Things: The Experience in Brooklyn. With locations in New York, San Francisco, and London, the hour-long immersive adventure transports visitors straight to Hawkins, Indiana.

As much as we loved fighting Demogorgons with Eleven and the gang, our favorite part was obviously the food! Once you finish the experience, you enter Mix-Tape, an ’80s-themed area with some of the show’s iconic locations. Guests can play vintage arcade games, sit in the Byers’ living room, and snack on the character’s favorite treats.

… If you need a drink to wash everything down, head to the Upside Bar for some cocktails inspired by the show. Our favorite is the Demogorgon, which Agbuya describes as “smoky-sweet version of an Old Fashioned with a twist.” The drink is made with bourbon, maple syrup, and Angostura Bitters, but the main attraction is when the bartender uses a flavor blaster gun to blow a giant bubble. Then you puncture it with a stroopwafel and it releases citrus-scented smoke over the drink.

(3) MEDALIST. At The Heinlein Society blog (where “Right click is disabled!”) you can read a “Balticon 56 Report” that’s focused on personally presenting David Gerrold with his Heinlein Award.

(4) AFTER-SCHOOL ACTIVITIES. Bill sends along a clipping of something by Robert A. Heinlein’s second wife, Leslyn.  This was after she had divorced Robert and remarried, but refers to the place they had lived on Lookout Mountain Ave.  It’s from the July 1956 issue of Ladies Home Journal.

(5) THE SMITHSONIAN RECOMMENDS OCTAVIA BUTLER. [Item by Darrah Chavey.] In the June issue of the Smithsonian, in the column “Ask Smithsonian”, a reader asked “Who is a science fiction writer you hold in high esteem?” Their answer:

Octavia Butler was an Afrofuturist author who was born in 1947 and died in 2006. In her “Patternist” novels, published during the 1970s and ’80s, she foresaw many aspects of our current era–climate change, pandemics, ethical questions about genetic engineering, struggles for racial justice–yet she struck a chord of hopefulness, especially for Black and women readers, her body of work, which is featured in Smithsonian’s current FUTURES exhibit, grapples deeply with what it means to be human and inspires us to build a more equitable future, no matter what obstacles lie in the way.”

(6) A LOT ON HIS PLATE. “What Makes Taika Waititi Run and Run and Run?” The New York Times asks, but the subject isn’t sure!

Even when your job is to dream up the interplanetary adventures of a Norse god, you might still want to run off and play pirates.

So during the weeks he was editing “Thor: Love and Thunder,” the Marvel movie that opens on July 8, Taika Waititi, its director and co-writer, would occasionally take weekends off for a different journey.

He would get outfitted in a flowing gray wig, matching facial hair and temporary tattoos, and don deliciously fetishistic leather gear to portray Blackbeard, the swashbuckling, loin-kindling buccaneer of the HBO Max comedy series “Our Flag Means Death.”

This is admittedly not a bad way to spend your spare time, though Waititi did occasionally fret over the trade-offs. As he explained recently, “Sometimes you’re pissed off at life and you’re like, ‘Why did I say yes to everything? I don’t have a social life — I’m just working.’ But then the thing comes out, you see where the hard work goes and it’s really worth it.”

On TV, Waititi, 46, has had a hand in the FX comedies “Reservation Dogs” (as a co-creator) and “What We Do in the Shadows” (a series based on a movie he co-wrote and co-directed), as well as a “Shadows” spinoff, “Wellington Paranormal.” At the movies, you can hear him voice a good guy in “Lightyear” or see him play a bad guy in “Free Guy.”

Waititi is also editing “Next Goal Wins,” a soccer comedy-drama that he co-wrote and directed for Searchlight. He’s writing a new “Star Wars” movie for Lucasfilm, a “Time Bandits” series for Apple TV+. He’s preparing two Roald Dahl projects for Netflix and adapting a graphic novel by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius for a feature film.

(7) HIDDEN BEAUTY. Book Riot probes beneath the surface in its article “Underneath It All: Books Where The Hardcover Has a Clever Design Beneath Its Dust Jacket”.

WHAT MAKES THE BEST DESIGN UNDER THE DUST JACKET?

Let me tell you, YA really shines in this category of book beauty. While many adult hardcovers had wonderful color combinations, I was looking for them to have a design under the dust jacket that stood out. The science fiction and fantasy section did a bit better with their designs under the dust jacket, but proportionally, did not hold a candle to the sheer number of books in YA with interesting reveals. I wanted to cast a broad net and hoped to reel in a fine set of books across genres. These are the final 15 books.

Three main categories drew my eye when it came to the design under the dust jacket. First, we have the embossed stamp design, where designers created a clever design pressed into the hardcover and perhaps added some foil to enhance the contrast. Next, we have the flat graphic design, where the cover has some kind of drawn, painted, or printed image that lays flat on an almost silky cover underneath the dust jacket. Finally, we have a small but visually impressive group, the repeating print design, with a pattern that creates a textile-like pattern.

One example is the cover of this novel by the redoubtable T. Kingfisher.

NETTLE & BONE BY T. KINGFISHER

Jacket art by Sasha Vinogradova

When you wait long enough for someone to save you and no one comes, you learn how to save yourself. Marra, the third-born daughter, has seen the way the prince abuses her older sisters and is determined to kill him, once and for all. A series of legendary companions help her perform the three tasks that will free everyone from a prince too cruel to live. The golden embossed skeleton creature pops against the vibrant green cover, daring you to read the first page.

(8) MEMORY LANE

1956 [By Cat Eldridge.] “Presumably I’m the condemned man and obviously you’re the hearty breakfast.” —from Diamonds are Forever

Let’s us talk about Fleming’s Diamonds are Forever novel whose first part was published in the Daily Express on April 12, 1956 and heralded by an article by Ian Fleming on how he wrote the novel and that readers were invited to “meet James Bond, secret agent, meet M, his boss, and get ready to meet the girl you won’t forget”.  It was the first novel that the Daily Express did but hardly the last as they would go to do all of them.

Fleming wrote the story at his Goldeneye estate in Jamaica, inspired by a Sunday Times article on diamond smuggling. 

The book was first published by Jonathan Cape in the United Kingdom on March 26, 1956. It was the fourth novel featuring Bond. 

The Daily Express publication was in abridged firm, and interestingly, they followed it, by adapting into as a graphic comic series. 

As you all know, it would be adapted into the seventh Bond film which was the last Eon Productions film to star Sean Connery as Bond. Both the novel and the film were considered to be very good. That is not that all British critics loved it as Julian Symons of The Times Literary Supplement thought it was the “weakest book so far”. On the other hand, Raymond Chandler, yes that writer, said for the Sunday Times said “Mr. Fleming writes a journalistic style, neat, clean, spare and never pretentious”. 

It has, like all Bond novels, been in-print ever since it was first published. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 3, 1898 — E. Hoffmann Price. He’s most readily remembered as being a Weird Tales writer, one of a group that included Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith. He did a few collaborations, one of which was with H. P. Lovecraft, “Through the Gates of the Silver Key”. Another work, “The Infidel’s Daughter”, a satire on the Ku Klux Klan, angered many Southern readers. (Died 1988.)
  • Born July 3, 1926 — William Rotsler. An artist, cartoonist, pornographer and SF author. Well that is his bio. Rotsler was a many time Hugo Award winner for Best Fan Artist and one-time Nebula Award nominee. He also won a Retro Hugo for Best Fan Artist for 1946 and was runner-up for 1951. He is responsible for giving Uhura her first name. He wrote “Rotsler’s Rules for Costuming”. (Died 1997.)
  • Born July 3, 1927 — Tim O’Connor. He was Dr. Elias Huer in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century for much of its run.  (I really, really liked that series.) Other genre appearances were on The Six Million Dollar ManThe Twilight ZoneThe Outer LimitsWonder WomanKnight Rider, Next Gen and The Burning Zone. (Died 2018.)
  • Born July 3, 1927 — Ken Russell. Film director whose Altered States based off of Paddy Chayefsky’s screenplay is certainly his best remembered film. Though let’s not overlook The Lair of the White Worm which he did off Bram Stoker’s novel, or The Devils, based at least in part off The Devils of Loudun by Aldous Huxley. (Died 2011.)
  • Born July 3, 1937 — Tom Stoppard, 85. Playwright of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. He co-wrote the screenplays for Brazil (with Terry Gilliam) and Shakespeare in Love (with Marc Norman). He’s uncredited but openly acknowledged by Spielberg for his work on Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
  • Born July 3, 1943 — Kurtwood Smith, 79. Clarence Boddicker in Robocop which was nominated for a Hugo atNolacon II, Federation President in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and voiced Kanjar Ro in the most excellent Green Lantern: First Flight. He’s got series appearances on Blue ThunderThe Terrible Thunderlizards (no, I’ve no idea what it is), The X-FilesStar Trek: Deep Space NineStar Trek: VoyagerMen in Black: The Series which I got wrote up, 3rd Rock from the SunTodd McFarlane’s SpawnJustice LeagueBatman BeyondGreen Lantern, Beware the Batman, Agent Carter and Star Trek: Lower Decks. His last genre role is Dr. Joseph Wanless on the Netflix remake of Firestarter.   

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Junk Drawer shows that when it comes to alien abduction, many are called but few are chosen.
  • Bizarro shows an exasperated jury foreman who can’t deliver a verdict.

(11) BACK IN THE USSR. From the Sidewise Award-winning author of the acclaimed Clash of Eagles trilogy comes an alternate 1979 where the US and the Soviets have permanent Moon bases, orbiting space stations, and crewed spy satellites supported by frequent rocket launches. Hot Moon: Apollo Rising Book One by Alan Smale will be released July 26.

Apollo 32, commanded by career astronaut Vivian Carter, docks at NASA’s Columbia space station en route to its main mission: exploring the volcanic Marius Hills region of the Moon. Vivian is caught in the crossfire as four Soviet Soyuz craft appear without warning to assault the orbiting station. In an unplanned and desperate move, Vivian spacewalks through hard vacuum back to her Lunar Module and crew and escapes right before the station falls into Soviet hands.

Their original mission scrubbed, Vivian and her crew are redirected to land at Hadley Base, a NASA scientific outpost with a crew of eighteen. But soon Hadley, too, will come under Soviet attack, forcing its unarmed astronauts to daring acts of ingenuity and improvisation.

With multiple viewpoints, shifting from American to Soviet perspective, from occupied space station to American Moon base under siege, to a covert and blistering US Air Force military response, Hot Moon tells the gripping story of a war in space that very nearly might have been.

Available for preorder at Amazon and Amazon.ca.

Larry Niven says, “I loved it. Great ‘hard’ science fiction with convincing space battles.” Robert J. Sawyer declared, “Alan Smale is one of the brightest stars in the hard-SF firmament, and Hot Moon is his best novel yet. Enjoy!”

Alan Smale writes alternate and twisted history, and hard SF. His novella of a Roman invasion of ancient America, A Clash of Eagles, won the Sidewise Award. Alan grew up in Yorkshire, England, and earned degrees in Physics and Astrophysics from Oxford University. By day he performs astronomical research into black holes and neutron stars at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, with over a hundred published academic papers; by night he sings bass with high-energy vocal band The Chromatics.

(12) WET WORK. “Filmmakers of Sci-Fi Thriller ‘Vesper’ on Finding Hope in Grim Future” in Variety.

…The sci-fi-fantasy thriller, which takes place after the collapse of the earth’s eco-system and centers on a 13-year-old girl caring for her paralyzed father, who must use her wits and bio-hacking abilities to fight for survival and the possibility of a future, has proved a popular item for sales agent Anton. They have announced distribution deals in the U.S. (IFC Films), UK (Signature Entertainment), Germany (Koch Media), Italy (Leone Film) and Japan (Klockworx). IFC plans to release the film in U.S. theaters and VOD on Sept. 30….

The live-action scenes were shot in natural locations, mainly around Vilnius. Finding the fairytale forest that they wanted took nearly a year. But shooting outdoors came with its own set of problems. Samper confesses that one of the most challenging elements of the shoot was the spring weather in Lithuania. He says, “One day we had snow, storm, rain, hail and finally sunshine in the same shooting day.”…

(13) HIS AUDITION WAS A BUST. Didn’t he hear, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time”? “Florida Man Posing as Disney Worker Charged in Removal of R2-D2 at Hotel” in the New York Times.

A Florida man who said he applied for a security job at Walt Disney World in Florida wanted to impress his would-be bosses.

So, to highlight what he said was the company’s lax oversight, the man, David Proudfoot, donned the gray T-shirt, beige pants and Disney name tag worn by employees of a Disney resort, the Swan Reserve, and removed an R2-D2 “Star Wars” droid as well as an unidentified game machine, the authorities said.

R2-D2 might have been the droid he was looking for, but Mr. Proudfoot’s test of Disney’s security backfired: He was charged with grand theft and obstruction by false information, according to an arrest report dated May 31.

Mr. Proudfoot, 44, of Kissimmee, Fla., admitted to investigators that he moved the droid, which was valued up to $10,000, and the game machine, Deputy Christopher Wrzesien of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office wrote in the report.

Deputy Wrzesien wrote that Mr. Proudfoot had “temporarily moved” the droid from the third floor of the hotel to an unknown location. As for the game machine, Mr. Proudfoot told deputies that he had no intention of moving it off the property, according to the report.

He told investigators “he had an application for Walt Disney World Security pending and was moving the items to show weaknesses in the security of the resorts in the hope of securing a better-paying job at WDW,” the report said….

(14) HOME IS WHERE YOU HANG YOUR HAT. “Resident Alien: Season Two Return Date Announced” at SYFY Wire.

Resident Alien fans don’t have long to wait for the return of the science fiction comedy-drama series. Season two kicked off on Syfy in January and ran for eight episodes before going on hiatus. The remaining eight installments of the season will begin airing on August 10th.

Based on the Dark Horse comics, the Resident Alien series stars Alan Tudyk, Sara Tomko, Corey Reynolds, Elizabeth Bowen, Alice Wetterlund, Levi Fiehler, and Judah Prehn. The story follows an alien (Tudyk) who has come to Earth with a mission to kill humans, but he finds life on this planet is more than he planned.

(15) CURIOSITY. BBC knows you can’t resist watching video of the “World’s smallest cat”.

A rusty spotted cat, the world’s smallest cat, explores his forest home in Sri Lanka, but his natural curiosity is destined to get him into a spot of trouble.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Bill, Darrah Chavey, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]