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 10/15/22 Scrolls Are The Lycantropic Form Of Pixels

(1) AND YOU ARE THERE. Eleven years ago today at Capclave this happened – “Terry Pratchett Capclave Interview”.

(2) GET OUT OF YOUR OWN HEAD. Lincoln Michel advises writers how to balance “Understanding the Reader Without Pandering to the Reader” at Counter Craft. A brief excerpt:

…Here are some specific areas that often stand out to me along these lines:

Repetition:

Unless your book becomes part of some rabid geek fanbase or a English lit staple, few if any readers are going to read your stories with the Talmudic scrutiny you write and revise them. Readers are distracted. We read a story on a loud, crowded subway. We put a novel down midchapter and don’t get back to it for weeks. We read a chapter sleepily late at night. We miss things. What writers fear is beating their reader over the head is often doing the bare minimum to tap them on the shoulder.

This is a lesson even famous and award-winning authors can forget. I remember hearing a favorite writer give a craft talk and mention how in their first draft of a novel they had a line from chapter 1 repeated near the end of the book. “Aha, everyone will snap their fingers at the connection and realize the true identify of this character!” they thought. But then their editor, they said, quite rightly pointing out no one was going to remember that line 250 pages later. The novel needed to repeat that line four, five, or more times spaced out across the text for the reader to notice.

(3) THE HEAT DEATH OF THE INTERNET. Yeah, like that’s going to happen. But is the culture changing? “Has the Internet Reached Peak Clickability?” asks Ted Gioia.

… But it’s quite plausible that the Internet is losing its coolness and its clickbait appeal. It definitely feels stale and formulaic, more so with each passing month, and I’m not the only person who thinks so. If you dig into the numbers, you find that engagement on the largest platforms is falling—and not in a small way (as Sinatra might say).

The numbers don’t lie, and Kriss serves them up here—summarizing the bad news for clicks and swipes…

… But the metrics now tell a different story.

I shouldn’t be surprised by all this. My own experience at Substack has made me acutely aware of the longform renaissance. When I launched on this platform, I definitely planned to write those long articles that newspaper editors hate—Substack would be my moment of luxurious freedom! Even so, I assumed that my shorter articles would be more popular. I guess I’d drunk the Kool-Aid too, accepting the prevailing narrative that readers want it short and sweet, so they can read it complete in the time it takes the Piano Man to play a request.

Yet my Substack internal metrics reveal the exact opposite of what I expected. The readers here prefer in-depth articles. Who would’ve guessed? For someone like me, it’s almost too good to be true. It’s like some positive karma in the universe is reinforcing my own better instincts.

But the real reason is that the market for clickbait is saturated, and longform feels fresher, more vital, more rewarding….

(4) LOWREY COMMENCES TAFF REPORT. “Orange Mike” Lowrey reports the 2020 TAFF race status is now “Trip report in progress”. 

The first installment of A Visible Fan Abroad: A TAFF Journal of the Plague Years, “Chapter the First: The Trip That Never Was” appears on pages 22-23 of Nic Farey and Ulrika O’Brien’s Beam 17.

When they make it available online, readers will find it at eFanzines.com.

(5) SFF IN NYT. Amal El-Mohtar reviews Babel, The Anchored World, and Self-Portrait with Nothing in “The Magic of Translation” at the New York Times.

The word “translation” connotes movement: carrying meaning from one language to another, or shifting bodies from one place — or one context — to another, all while recognizing that moving entails loss and change. These books dwell in that potent space between setting out and arriving….

(6) MUSK TO THE FUTURE. NPR’s “It’s Been A Minute” contends “Elon Musk’s bid to buy Twitter and defend free speech is part of his mythmaking”.

The saga around Elon Musk’s deal to buy Twitter has been just that: a months-long soap opera involving lawsuits and subpoenas, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, even a town hall. But why does Musk — one of the world’s richest and arguably most influential men — want a social media platform?

It’s Been a Minute host Brittany Luse puts the question to Jill Lepore, political historian and host of The Evening Rocket, a podcast about Musk. Lepore says that the idea of being a savior of free speech would appeal to Musk, who has built around himself a mythology inspired by what she sees as a misinterpretation of mid-twentieth century science fiction.

Lepore discusses how Musk crafted a powerful narrative that millions around the world have bought into; how he draws from science fiction and film; and why we need to be more critical of billionaire visionaries….

(7) ONLINE CLUB MEETING. The Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club will take up “Lock In by John Scalzi” on November 29, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Register at the link.

Science fiction can have real policy impacts, and comes rife with real-life commentary. For the next gathering of our Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club, we have selected Lock In by John Scalzi.

The detective novel imagines a world in which a pandemic left 5 million people in the U.S. alone with lock in syndrome: fully conscious but unable to move. Twenty-five years later, enormous scientific and technological investment has created a way for those living with “Haden’s syndrome” to take part in daily life. While they remain in their beds, robotic avatars let them take classes, interact with their families, and work—including as FBI agents. Chris is a rookie FBI agent assigned to work a case that seems to involve the world of Haden’s syndrome, and he and his partner must figure out exactly what’s going on. Lock In is a fascinating tale that raises questions about the “real” world, accessibility and disability, public-health funding, and much more.

Join Future Tense and Issues in Science and Technology at 6pm Eastern on Tuesday, Nov. 29, to discuss the novel and its real-world implications. The book club will feature breakout rooms (they’re fun and stress-free, we promise) where we can all compare notes and share reactions, even if we didn’t finish the book (though we picked a short one this time!).

(8) FRANK DRAKE (1930-2022). Radio astronomer and astrophysicist Frank Drake died September 2. He was a pioneer of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, carrying out the first search for signals from extraterrestrial civilisations, Project Ozma, in 1960. He is the inventor of the “Drake equation” used to estimate the number of extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy. The Guardian obituary notes:

…As a radio astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, he made the first observations of Jupiter’s radiation belts, analogous to the Van Allen belts around the Earth, and was one of the first astronomers to measure the intense surface temperature on Venus, a consequence of the greenhouse effect of its thick atmosphere. But it is for Project Ozma, named after Princess Ozma in L Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz books and carried out with Green Bank’s 85ft radio telescope, that he will be remembered.

For three months Drake observed the sun-like stars Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani for radio signals that might be from planets with extraterrestrial civilisations. None were found, but as Drake recalled in a 2012 interview: “It was a start – and it did stimulate a lot of other people to start searching.”….

(9) MICHAEL CALLAN (1935-2022). Actor Michael Callan died October 10. Best known for his roles in Cat Ballou and West Side Story, his genre resume included the film The Mysterious Island, and television’s The Bionic Woman, Fantasy IslandKnight Rider, and Superboy.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1928 [By Cat Eldridge.] The Passing of Mr. Quin (1928)

We have a special treat for you this Scroll, a silent film first shown in the UK ninety-four years ago. The Passing of Mr. Quin was based off a short story by Agatha Christie. Though it did not feature Hercule Poirot, as that film debut wouldn’t happen for another three years.

It is a rather odd story. To wit, Professor Appleby has abused his wife, Eleanor, for years but when he is brutally murdered and her lover, Derek, goes missing under mysterious circumstances, Eleanor suspects the worst as she indeed should. 

A mysterious stranger, known mostly as “Mr Quin” appears, and begins to seduce her, but his alcoholism causes him to die quite soon. On his death bed, he confesses that he was Derek all along, and offers her to a rival, who promises to make Eleanor a happy wife.

Not cheerful at all and with just more than a soupçon of misogyny there as well but I don’t think it had any of the anti-Jewish tendencies Christie was known for early on. Need I say that the scriptwriters had their way with Christie’s original story? Well they did. 

This silent film was directed by Leslie Alibi. Three years later he directed the first ever depiction of Poirot with Austin Trevor in the lead role. That was not a silent film and Trevor once claimed he was cast as Poirot because he could speak with a French accent. The Poirot film unfortunately is now lost. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 15, 1911 James H. Schmitz. Writer of short fiction in a space opera setting, sold primarily to Galaxy Science Fiction and Astounding Science-Fiction. His “Lion Loose” was nominated for a Short Fiction Hugo at Chicon III, and The Witches of Karres was nominated for Best Novel at NyCon 3. Sources laud him for his intelligent female characters. His collections and novels are available at the usual suspects. (Died 1981.)
  • Born October 15, 1919 E.C. Tubb. A writer of at least one hundred forty novels and two hundred twenty short stories and novellas, he’s best remembered I think for the Dumarest Saga. His other long-running series was the Cap Kennedy stories. And his short story “Little Girl Lost” which was originally published in New Worlds magazine became a story on Night Gallery. He novelized a number of the Space: 1999 episodes. Somewhat surprisingly he’s never been nominated for or won any awards. (Died 2010.)
  • Born October 15, 1924 Mark Lenard. Sarek, the father of Spock in the Trek franchise, showing up in that role in “Journey to Babel”.  (The role got reprised in the animated series, as well as three films and two episodes of The Next Generation.) Surprisingly he played Romulan Commander in “Balance of Terror,” in the first season, and a Klingon Captain in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He also had one-offs on Mission ImpossibleWild Wild WestOtherworld, The Secret EmpireThe Incredible Hulk, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He had a recurring role on the Planet of The Apes as Urko. (Died 1996.)
  • Born October 15, 1935 Ray “Duggie” Fisher. Editor, Conrunner and Fan, who chaired the 1969 Worldcon in St. Louis, was on the committee for several other conventions, and was a founding member of the Poplar Bluff Science Fiction Club and the Ozark Science Fiction Association. His fanzine ODD was a finalist for a Best Fanzine Hugo. His contributions to fandom were, sadly, cut short by his death at age 52 due to complications of diabetes. (Died 1988.) [JJ]
  • Born October 15, 1942 Lon Atkins. Editor, Conrunner, and Fan who chaired a DeepSouthCon and was editor of numerous fanzines and apazines, including eight years as co-editor of Rally! He was Fan Guest of Honor at a Westercon, and a recipient of Southern Fandom’s Rebel lifetime achievement award. He was also a ferocious Hearts player. (Died 2016.) [JJ]
  • Born October 15, 1953 Walter Jon Williams, 69. The last thing I read by him was his most excellent Dagmar Shaw series which I highly recommend, but Fleet Elements is on my TBR list.  I also like his Metropolitan novels, be they SF or fantasy, as well as his Hardwired series. I’m surprised how few awards that he’s won, just three with two being Nebulas, both for shorter works, “Daddy’s World” and “The Green Leopard Plaque”, plus a Sidewise Award for “Foreign Devils”.  Damn it, where is his Hugo? 
  • Born October 15, 1954 Linnea Sinclair, 68. Merging romance, SF and paranormal into, well, damned if I know. She’s here sole because I’m really tickled by the use of her SJW credentials as told here: Games of Command and the short story “Of Cats, Uh, Furzels and Kings” feature telepathic feline creatures called ‘Furzels’. Sinclair has stated that these are inspired by her two cats. 
  • Born October 15, 1968 Jack du Brul, 54. A writer of somewhat SF novels that EoSF says of “the Philip Mercer sequence featuring a geologist who – not entirely unlike Steven Spielberg’s similarly scholarly Indiana Jones – has physical gifts extending beyond the probable.” He also co-wrote, and continued after Clive Cusler passed on, The Oregon Files.

(12) THE DOUBLE-OH GENERATION. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri says that she is worried that the new James Bond might be a Millennial. “What the millennial James Bond might look like”. “Do you expect me to talk?”  “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to text!” She’s got a million of them.

(13) RAMBLING MAN. John Meaney’s post “What I Did On My Holiday” shows that he kept up his impressive workout regimen even while vacationing in “places like Lindisfarne (think Vikings) and Whitby Abbey (think Dracula) and the Western Highlands of Scotland.” He also snapped a memorable photo.

…The Caledonian Canal features a long series of locks called Neptune’s Staircase, and I did take photos of the canal itself, but was struck by this piece of useful advice, which we should always bear in mind every day….

(14) DUNGEON ACOUSTICS. “’D&D’ Goes ‘DIY’ On Kill Rock Stars’ Latest Compilation” reports Bandcamp Daily.

What does Dungeons & Dragons sound like?

That’s the fundamental question at the heart of SPELLJAMS, a new compilation album curated and produced by Chris Funk. The Decemberists guitarist wasn’t tasked with soundtracking just any old D&D campaign: SPELLJAMS is a companion piece to the newly rebooted Spelljammer setting, an outer-space-set oddity that’s become a cult favorite since its introduction in 1989. Spelljammer is a bit of an outlier within the broader D&D lore, which made it ripe for the kind of freewheeling, adventurous track listing Funk assembled for the album.

(15) LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DODGING. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Lucy, a spacecraft designed to visit Jupiter’s Trojan astroids, will swing past Earth for a gravity assist on Sunday. To get the proper oomph from the assist, it will have to come so close to Earth that it will be inside the orbit of many Low-Earth-Orbit satellites (including the International Space Station).

Cognizant of the possibility of a collision between Lucy and a LEO satellite, NASA has pre-prepared two orbit changes to stagger Lucy’s closest approach just a little bit. Or, if needed, a little bit more than that. They’re waiting as long as they can to calculate orbital positions for everything and make that decision, because the longer they wait the more accurate the predictions will be.

With luck, observers in parts of Australia or the western US may be able to see Lucy glinting like a diamond before it ducks into or after it comes out of Earth’s shadow, respectively. If you miss this chance you’ll get another opportunity two years hence when Lucy swings by for another orbital assist. “NASA on Collision Alert for Close Flyby of Lucy Spacecraft”. Gizmodo says the Space Force has been scrambled!

…The collision assessment team will send Lucy’s position to the Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron, which monitors objects in low Earth orbit. The team is prepared to perform swerving maneuvers if Lucy has more than a 1 in 10,000 chance of colliding with another object. “With such a high value mission, you really need to make sure that you have the capability, in case it’s a bad day, to get out of the way,” Highsmith said….

(16) WAITING IN A BREAD LINE. “Meet Pan Solo, a California bakery’s 6-foot bread sculpture of Han Solo frozen in carbonite”.

…The edible replica, which was painstakingly modeled out of dough to resemble Harrison Ford‘s captured character in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back and 1983’s Return of the Jedi, has been on display outside the family bakery in Benicia, Calif., since Sunday. He is accompanied by a chalkboard that adorably proclaims, “Our hero Pan Solo has been trapped in Levainite by the evil Java the Hut.”…

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In this 2021 clip, Alasdair Beckett-King explains that even in the olden times, pepole couldn’t remember their passwords!

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

Pixel Scroll 9/5/22 Boosterspice Fields Forever

(1) CHICON 8 MEMBERSHIP NUMBERS. Chicon 8 drew 3,574 warm bodies (494 at door). Another 947 watched at least one hour of virtual programming. There were ~6,500 total members of all types. (Numbers via KevinStandlee.)

(2) WORLDCON MASQUERADE PHOTOS. Chicon 8 posted a rich gallery of photos: “Masquerade! Astounding Faces on Parade!” Includes notes on the award winners, including Best in Show, Arwen’s Lament presented by Rae Lundquist and company. (Which also won “Excellence in Workmanship for Hobbit Feet”.)

(3) CLOSING CEREMONIES. Thanks to Kevin Standlee who encouraged me to run any of his posts and photos.

The 2023 Chengdu Worldcon leadership:

The Chengdu Worldcon committee singing to the Closing Ceremonies audience.

(4) HE WAS A WALKING WORLDCON HIGHLIGHT. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki shared some general comments about being able to achieve his trip to Chicon 8, and the Hugo acceptance speech he didn’t get to give. Lots of photos, too! Thread starts here. (Full text of the speech is on Facebook.)

And there’s a photo of another heartwarming moment on Lezli Robyn’s Facebook page here of Ekpeki being “gifted an iPad and keyboard, for all the future masterpieces he will write.” Robyn added in comments, “It was not from us! But I was the messenger/organizer.” So I don’t know who gave it to him.

(5) CONGRATULATIONS, HUGO WINNER. When Cora Buhlert sent these photos of her Hugo outfit last night she was about to practice her speech again. Now we know – the extra rehearsal was worth it!

(6) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Lincoln Michel contests a recent meme: “No, Most Books Don’t Sell Only a Dozen Copies”. After dissecting the premises of how sales are measured, Michel offers some conclusions.

…In terms of the dozen copies statistic, I can’t evaluate it because it is unclear what it’s referring to. Fifty-eight thousand books is more books than PRH publishes in a given year, but far less than their entire backlist. Is 58k all new books published with an ISBN, including self-published books? Is it something else? I really don’t know and none of the publishing professionals I follow seem to know either. (Editing to add: Jane Friedman, who posted this number originally on Instagram, noted there was no source given in testimony. Friedman gives her own guess in the comments.)

In my experience, and with the data I’ve seen, most traditionally published novels that you see on bookstore shelves or reviewed in newspapers sell several hundred to a few thousand copies across formats. Many sell much more of course. I’ve seen some flops that sold only a couple hundred. And of course not all traditionally published novels appear in bookstores or reviewed in newspapers. Is it possible someone has published a Big 5 novel that sold only 12 copies over its lifetime? I suppose. But I don’t think it’s 5% much less 50%!…

(7) SHARED UNIVERSE. Wole Talabi tells Guardian readers: “Out of this world: why we created the first collaborative African fantasy universe”. (See the list of members of the Sauúti Collective at the link.)

Creative writing can be a lonely business. As writers, we inhabit whole worlds and characters that live only in our heads for days or years, as we deposit them on the page. This is particularly true for speculative fiction – an umbrella genre of stories that involve supernatural or futuristic elements, or settings that are not the real world.

This creative loneliness is why I’ve always admired the concept of a “shared world” – a fictional setting with its own set of rules where multiple authors can create stories. Some examples are Thieves’ World, edited by Robert Lynn Asprin, or George RR Martin’s Wild Cards (which spawned dozens of books, comics and games, and was optioned for film and TV).

Because writers use the same settings, characters and concepts of the shared world in a connected way, they are in conversation with each other, as a community in the act of creation.

As a speculative fiction author from Africa, where recognition for the genre is growing and community is an important part of the culture, I’ve long wanted to be able to do this with my contemporaries – create together. Not only with other African authors but with the greater African diaspora.

That’s why, working with Fabrice Guerrier, a Haitian-American author and founder of Syllble, a production house based in Los Angeles, and the Nigeria-based magazine Brittle Paper, I sought out a group of like-minded volunteer authors from five African countries to form the Sauúti Collective.

Together we have created Sauúti – a unique shared world for and by Africans and the African diaspora….

(8) MEMORY LANE.  

1967 [By Cat Eldridge.] Alan Garner’s The Owl Service (1967)

It all begins with the scratching in the ceiling. From the moment Alison discovers the dinner service in the attic, with its curious pattern of floral owls, a chain of events is set in progress that is to affect everybody’s lives. — Alan Garner’s The Own Service

Yes, I do have favorite novels as you already know and Alan Garner’s The Owl Service which came out fifty-five years ago is one of them. I think of it as an Autumnal work so it being September, I decided to take a look at it. So here we are.

The Owl Service is supposedly a young adult novel, however, it is much, much more than that. Set in modern Wales, it is an adaptation of the story of the Welsh myth concerning the woman Blodeuwed who becomes an owl — equally made of feathers and claws. It was, as Garner has said, an “expression of that myth”. 

In his version, three teenagers visiting a Welsh estate find themselves re-enacting the story by the two boys both being bitter rivals for the girl who came with them to the estate. They awaken the legend by finding a dinner service with an owl pattern, hence the title of the novel.

It is a novel filled with myth come to life with characters, both the children and the adults, being fully realized. It wasn’t his first novel as he’d written three novels previously (The Weirdstone of BrisingamenThe Moon of Gomrath and Elidor) but of all works he’s done, it’s my favorite still. It’s not his most complex, that honor goes to Boneland which is a sequel to The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath.

The Owl Service was made into a Granada Television series in 1969. If you live in the U.K., it’s available on DVD.  It was BBC Radio 4 series in 2000. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 5, 1914 Stuart Freeborn. If you’ve seen Yoda, and of course you have, this is the man who designed it, partly based on his own face. Besides being the makeup supervisor and creature design on the original Star Wars trilogy, he did makeup on The OmenDr. Strangelove2001: A Space Odyssey and all four of the Christopher Reeve-fronted Superman films. (Died 2013.)
  • Born September 5, 1936 Rhae Andrece and Alyce Andrece. They played twin androids in I, Mudd, a classic Trek episode. (And really their only significant role.) Both appeared as policewomen in “Nora Clavicle and the Ladies’ Crime Club” on Batman. That’s their only genre other appearance. They appeared together in the same seven shows. (Died 2009 and 2005, respectively.)
  • Born September 5, 1939 George Lazenby, 83. He is best remembered for being James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Genre wise, he also played Jor-El on Superboy and was a Bond like character named JB in the Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. film. 
  • Born September 5, 1940 Raquel Welch, 82. Fantastic Voyage was her first genre film, and her second was One Million Years B.C. (well, it wasn’t exactly a documentary) where she starred in a leather bikini, both released in 1966. She was charming in The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers. She has one-offs in BewitchedSabrina the Teenage WitchThe Muppet ShowLois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanHappily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child and Mork & Mindy
  • Born September 5, 1946 Freddie Mercury. Now you know who he was and you’re saying that you don’t remember any genre roles by him. Well there weren’t alas. Oh, Queen had one magnificent role in the 1980 Flash Gordon film starring Sam J. Jones, a film that has a seventy percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. But I digress as only cats can do. (Prrrr.) Queen provided the musical score featuring orchestral sections by Howard Blake. Most of Blake’s score was not used. Freddie also composed the music for the first Highlander film. And Freddie was a very serious SJW. He cared for at least ten cats throughout his life, including Delilah, Dorothy, Goliath, Jerry, Lily, Miko, Oscar, Romeo, Tiffany and Tom. He was adamantly against the inbreeding of cats and all of them except for Lily and Tiffany, both given to him as gifts, were adopted from the Blue Cross. (Died 1991.)
  • Born September 5, 1964 Stephen Greenhorn, 58. Scriptwriter who has written two episodes for Doctor Who: “The Lazarus Experiment” and “The Doctor’s Daughter”, both Tenth Doctor stories. He wrote one episode of Around the World in 80 Days, reuniting him with David Tennant. He also wrote Marchlands, a supernatural series with Doctor Who’s Alex Kingston
  • Born September 5, 1973 Rose McGowan, 49. Best known as Paige Matthews on Charmed. She played two different roles in the Grindhouse franchise, Cherry Darling in Planet Terror and Pam in Death Proof. She was Miss Kitty in Monkeybone, a very weird film indeed.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) ARCANE. Boing Boing points out that “Arcane is the first streaming show to win the Emmy for best animated program”.

…The aforementioned Arcane from Netflix was the talk of the town last year, earning heaps of praise from fans and critics. Now the series can add Emmy award winner to its growing list of accolades. The win marks the first time an animated show from a streaming service snagged the award….

(12) KERFUFFLES OF POWER. Stuart Heritage of the Guardian wouldn’t want you to miss any: “The backlash to rule them all? Every controversy about The Rings of Power so far”. What, only six?

It’s hard to know exactly what to make of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power so far, for several reasons. The series has veered wildly in quality, with its second episode a vast improvement on its stunning but directionless pilot. It’s hard, too, to crosscheck with the source material, given that the entire shebang is cobbled together from a bunch of Tolkien’s appendices.

But the main reason why it’s difficult to form a consensus is the internet. Even more so than usual, it is being especially internetty about The Rings of Power, churning up no end of controversies about it in service to the discourse. Here’s a quick compendium of what we’ve all endured so far….

(13) HUGO LOSERS TROPHY. Camestros Felapton had an artificial intelligence art program help him gin up a trophy for those who didn’t win last night. Image at the link. “For those who need it today”.

(14) PHOTOS FROM JAMES BACON’S PRESENTATION AT CHICON 8. Including the badge ribbons distributed to support Ukraine fandom.

(15) TAMMY’S TASTING AT CHICON 8. Tammy Coxen serves Ukraine-themed drinks.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Rob Thornton, Nancy Sauer, 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 Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 7/16/22 Files, Scrolls, Pixels From The Sea

(1) SECOND ANNUAL SPSFC CONTEST TAKING SUBMISSIONS. Here’s the link for authors to submit their books to the next Self-Published Science Fiction Competition.

(2) KEEPING UP. Lincoln Michel on sf epics at Esquire: “Genre-Bending Books: Everything Everywhere All in One Novel”.

It’s a cliché to say that we live in science fictional times. But recently it’s felt like we’re living in every science fictional time simultaneously. The world’s richest man decides to purchase a global communications platform on a whim, then decides to back out on a whim. Climate change heat waves lead governments to patrol borders with robot dogs. Meanwhile, a global pandemic rages on, new dystopian technologies are unveiled every day, and the wealthy work on their plans to escape into space. When a scroll through the news reveals a dozen dystopian scenarios—and the daily tasks of work, life, and family trudge on—what’s a novelist who hopes to capture our reality to do?

Maybe novels must do everything too.

In the last couple of years, there’s been a wave of ambitious genre-bending novels whose wide scopes and wild imaginings reflect the surreal state of our times. I’ve come to think of the form as “the speculative epic.” “Speculative” is used here as an umbrella term for science fiction, fantasy, magical realism, and other fictional modes that imagine worlds different from ours. Examples of these speculative epics from the last two years include Emily St. John Mandel’s Sea of Tranquility, Matt Bell’s Appleseed, Anthony Doerr’s Cloud Cuckoo Land, Sequoia Nagamatsu’s How High We Go in the Dark, Monica Byrne’s The Actual Star, Vauhini Vara’s The Immortal King Rao, Hanya Yanagihara’s To Paradise, and Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future. These novels vary in style and range from breakout debuts to works from established masters, but they all share an epic scope and the use of speculative premises to tackle the biggest concerns of our day….

(3) TAFF SELLING TWO CHICON 8 MEMBERSHIPS. [Item by Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey.) The Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund has received a generous donation of two Chicon 8 (2022 Worldcon) attending memberships, Hugo voting and site selection rights intact, from two members who sadly cannot attend.

If you are interested in buying one or both of these, please contact the TAFF administrators, Johan Anglemark ([email protected]) and Michael J. Lowrey ([email protected]) for further instructions. The price asked is $150 per membership.

(4) FAST TIMES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber discusses the gaming subculture of “speedrunning” or going through a game as quickly as possible.  The speed record for The Elden Ring is 21 minutes.

Speedrunners often specialise in classic game series–Doom, Mario, Zelda–and certain new titles, such as platformer Celeste, have become popular and there is even a community dedicated to lengthy Japanese role-playing games. The ingenuity of these players is remarkable–community members have specific roles such as ‘routers,’ who pore over a game to work out the optimal sequence of actions to get the fastest time, or ‘glitch-hunters,’ who look for flaws in the game’s code which can be exploited to gain seconds.

In new release Lego Star Wars:  The Skywalker Saga, a speedrunner realised that child characters cannot be killed, so if you hit one upwards and continually slash them with your lightsabre, you can fly infinitely through the air, bypassing all manner of obstacles. This technique has been dubbed ‘child flight.’

(5) TUNE INTO HORROR. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] English Rose is a new, five-part, fantastical horror on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Sounds.

It is a #MeToo take on a traditional fantasy horror genre of which I don’t want to say more lest it counts as a spoiler. Risking this last, our protagonist – 18 year-old Rose – leaves Whitby to go to New York to be a nanny for a very wealthy couple. Episode 1: The Call of the Wild sees us realize that Rose is leaving behind a family and suggests that she did something that has caused her family to fear being hunted.  There is also more than a suggestion that she is on a mission and has a target… Enough said. The radio play is by the novelist and playwright Helen Cross.

The special effects for this radio drama rely on the best technology: the human brain.

(6) FANS GATHER IN LONDON. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] The Northumberland Heath SF group had its 2nd Thursday of the month meeting this week in southeast London.

Somewhat slightly depleted due to a few members away on holiday but in the mix is the daughter of a former Worldcon fan GoH Vince Clarke (see picture).

The group resumed its monthly meets in the spring following a winter CoVID lockdown.

All fans in London’s Bexley borough or on the 89 and 229 bus routes are most welcome. Details here and Facebook page here.

Apologies – the pic is a smartphone mosaic. (Not mine – don’t use smart phones – sustainability, rare earth metals etc)

(7) HERBERT W. FRANKE (1927-2022). Austrian scientist, artist, and SF writer Herbert W. Franke died July 16 at the age of 95. A major science fiction writer in the German language, he was a guest of honor at the 1970 Worldcon. He also was a computer graphics pioneer. His wife Susanne announced his death on Twitter, which he had just joined in March.

His fiction won the Deutscher Science Fiction Preis for Best Novel in 1985 and 1991, and the Kurd Lasswitz prize for sff in 1985, 1986, and 2007. The European Science Fiction Society named him “European Grand Master of Science Fiction” in 2016.

(8) MEMORY LANE.  

1987 [By Cat Eldridge.] “True enough,” Willy said with a rueful quirk of an eyebrow. “All right. There are certain days associated with magic. Halloween, May Eve, the solstices and equinoxes, a few others. Some are more favorable to one Court than the other. The next big event is Midsummer’s Eve, which is a good one for the Seelie Court. The Eve itself is a truce period. But the Sidhe would like to hold off and fight soon after that, when we’re still strong.” — Willy to Eddi

Emma Bull’s War for The Oaks was published in paperback by Ace Books thirty-five years ago this month. And then that publisher promptly tied up the rights so that it would be fourteen years before Tor Books could release another edition. Yeah Emma wasn’t happy.

SPOILERS ABOUND! 

I’ve read it at least a half dozen times, usually in the summer. I’m reasonably sure it was one of a handful of books that I took overseas with me. 

I love Eddi McCandry, a musician who dumps her quite nasty boyfriend and in the process of doing that finds herself chosen to be the agent of Good in the fight between the two sides of the Fey. 

Everything here is spot-on including the shapeshifter who’s chosen to protect Eddi and falls in love with her. For her first novel, Emma does am exceedingly great job of writing the characters here so that each is a true individual. Seelie, unseelie and just plain human characters all seem real. 

The story here is that a concert at Midsummer’s Eve will determine if the Seelie or Unseelie Court will hold sway for the next six months. The same premise was used in Gael Baudino’s rather stellar Gossamer Axe

Now it won’t surprise you, and yes this is why I said there would be spoilers, that Eddi McCandry and her band of human and seelie musicians will triumph and Good will sway for now.

END OF SPOILERS!

Fourteen years after Ace tied the rights to the novels up in, well, I can’t use the language I’d like to use, Tor published it in a nifty trade paper. Now they almost published it in a hardcover edition as well though that hardcover did come out as an Orb / SFBC edition. 

I have two signed editions here, one hardcover and one softcover. One was signed just after she broke both her forearms at a RenFaire (water and catching yourself don’t mix) and is quite shaky, the other from much later on is quite better.

They made a trailer of this novel. Yes they did. Will Shetterly decided not to run for Governor and spent the money here instead. Or so he tells me. Emma plays the Seelie Queen. And the music is by Boiled in Lead.  See how many members of Minnesota fandom that you spot. 

You can watch it  here courtesy of Green Man who has exclusive online rights.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 16, 1876 David Lindsay. Best remembered for A Voyage to Arcturus which C.S. Lewis has acknowledged was a great influence on Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. His other genre works were fantasies including The Haunted Woman and The Witch. A Voyage to Arcturus is available from the usual suspects for free. And weirdly it’s available in seven audio narratives. Huh.  Seven? (Died 1945.)
  • Born July 16, 1882 Felix Locher. He is considered the oldest Star Trek actor of all time by birth year, appearing in “The Deadly Years” episode. Other genre appearances included Curse of the Faceless Man,  The Twilight ZoneFrankenstein’s Daughter, The MunstersHouse of the DamnedThe Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Mission Impossible. His entire acting career was from 1957 to 1969. (Died 1969.)
  • Born July 16, 1928 Robert Sheckley. I knew that his short story “Seventh Victim” was the basis of The 10th Victim film but I hadn’t known ‘til now that Freejack was sort of based off his Immortality, Inc. novel. I’ve read a lot by him with Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming (written with Zelazny) being my favorite work by him. Sheckley is very well stocked on the usual suspects. He had two Hugo nominations, at NYCon II (1956) for his “Spy Story” short story, and at Detention (1959) for his Time Killer novel. His Seventh Victim novel was nominated for a Hugo at the 1954 Retro Hugos at Noreascon 4. (Died 2005.)
  • Born July 16, 1929 Sheri Tepper. I think I’m going to single out her Marianne Trilogy (MarianneThe Magus and The ManticoreMarianne, the Madam and the Momentary GodsMarianne, the Matchbox and the Malachite Mouse) as her best work. Both the setting and the characters are unique, the story fascinating. She got the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. (Died 2016.)
  • Born July 16, 1943 Steve Stiles. Fan artist who was nominated way too many times for Best Fan Artist to list here. He did win once at MidAmeriCon II (2016). I can’t begin to list everything he’s done, so I’m sending you to Mike’s eulogy here. (Died 2020.)
  • Born July 16, 1951 Esther Friesner, 71. She’s won the Nebula Awards for Best Short Story twice with “Death and the Librarian” and “A Birthday”.  I’m particularly fond of The Sherwood Game and E.Godz which she did with Robert Asprin. NESFA presented her with the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction (“Skylark”) in 1994, a lifetime achievement award. She’s very well stocked at the usual suspects. L.A. Con III (1996) saw her nominated for a short story Hugo for “A Birthday” and she was Toastmaster at Millennium Philcon (2001). 
  • Born July 16, 1963 Phoebe Cates, 59. Ok, so her entire genre appearance credit is as Kate Beringer in Gremlins and  Gremlins 2: The New Batch. Yes I’ll admit that they’re two films that I have an inordinate fondness for that the Suck Fairy cannot have any effect upon them what-so-ever. Update: I’ve discovered since I last noted her Birthday that she was in Drop Dead Fred, a dark fantasy. She also stopped acting seven years ago. 
  • Born July 16, 1966 Scott Derrickson, 56. Director and Writer of Doctor Strange who also had a hand in The Day the Earth Stood Still (as Director), The Exorcism of Emily Rose (Director and Writer), Urban Legends: Final Cut (Director and Producer) and the forthcoming Labyrinth sequel (Director and Writer). His latest film is the supernatural horror The Black Phone based on the short story by Joe Hill.

(10) ORIGINS OF LIBRARY OF AMERICA. “Edmund Wilson’s Big Idea: A Series of Books Devoted to Classic American Writing. It Almost Didn’t Happen”. A 2015 post by National Endowment for the Humanities.

The nonprofit publisher Library of America has released almost two hundred seventy volumes of classic American writing. Its black dust jackets with an image of the author and a simple red, white, and blue stripe running below the author’s name, rendered in a fountain-pen-like hand, help give the clothbound volumes a timeless feel, as if copies might have been found in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s dorm room or Henry James’s steamer trunk. But the series is nowhere near that old. It began publication in 1982.It did, however, take a long time to become a reality.

Jason Epstein remembers the day he joined Edmund Wilson at the bar of the Princeton Club, in New York City, where, in the presence of numerous martinis, Wilson said exactly what he wanted the publishing industry to do: bring out a series of books that would be small enough to fit in the pocket of his raincoat and be filled with classic American writing.

(11) KNIGHTWHO? [Item by Francis Hamit.] Knightscope. Yeah, they look like Daleks.  Sheer coincidence.  Bill Li had never heard of Daleks when he started the company. A Knightscope robot is a supplement not a replacement for a human guard but does have some pretty neat features that humans can’t replicate such a license plate reading, 360-degree vision and other sensors.

Augment your existing security program at a fraction of the average rate for one 24-hour security post. Our Autonomous Security Robots (ASRs) are Made in the USA – Designed and Built in Silicon Valley by Knightscope – and offer security patrols as well as a physical presence that deliver real-time, actionable intelligence anytime and anywhere, giving you and your security team the ability to detect and react faster.

(12) WATCH ‘EM ALL. “Pokémon Fossil Museum Virtual Tour Lets You See the Japanese Exhibit For Yourself”IGN tells how to access it.

The Pokémon Company and Toyohashi Museum of Natural History have made it possible to see the Pokémon Fossil Museum without being anywhere near Japan. Pokémon fans can now take a virtual tour around the exhibit — which is open until November — to see the collection of real and Pokémon fossils, from a tyrannosaurus to a Tyrantrum.

Designed to teach children about fossils and dinosaurs, the exhibit includes models of Pokémon side-by-side with fossilised versions and information panels to educate amid the fun.

… Ancient Pokémon obtained through fossils have always existed in the games and anime, and just like the normal pocket monsters (Pikachu being the mouse Pokémon), they’re based on species in the real world.

(13) LIGHTS! CAMERA! TENTACLES! Apparently this genre-inspired ad campaign for a brand of rum ran several years ago. But it’s news to me! “Kraken Rum Bus” from Oink Creative.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Bill Higgins, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Francis Hamit, Michael J. Lowrey, 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 Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 7/1/22 Who Will Buy This Wonderful Pixel?

(1) NETFLIX GOES UPSIDE DOWN. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Apparently, fans of Stranger Things are night owls. When the final two episodes of ST Season 4 were released—at about 03:00 Eastern today—the Netflix streaming site was hammered hard enough to experience scattered but significant outages. “Netflix Down: Streaming Service Outage After Stranger Things 4 Release” reports Variety.

Netflix’s streaming service was unavailable for a brief period early Friday after the highly anticipated release of the final two episodes of “Stranger Things 4.”

According to global uptime-monitoring site Downdetector.com, user reports of problems with Netflix spiked around 3 a.m. ET — when “Stranger Things 4” Volume 2 went live. Complaints about errors with Netflix peaked at nearly 13,000 at the top of the hour, before the situation seemed to be resolved within a half hour.

“Stranger Things 4” already has set the record as the No. 1 English-language series on the service in its first four weeks of release, as reported by Netflix based on total hours watched. The two episodes in Season 4 Volume 2 clock in at nearly four hours of runtime total: Episode 8 is 85 minutes and Episode 9 is 150 minutes.

(2) BOB MADLE DOING FINE AT 102. [Item by Curt Phillips.] I just got off the phone with Bob Madle and thought I’d give you an update. He sounds great, and his daughter Jane told me that Bob’s health is excellent. Neither of them ever caught Covid, and Bob spends a lot of time enjoying beer and baseball. He is, as you might guess, an Oakland A’s fan. He’s been following that team since the 1930’s when they were the Philadelphia Athletics. We spent 45 min or so discussing sf magazines, and Bob’s memory is as solid as a rock. He recalled pulp trivia from 90 years ago as if it happened yesterday. So, 102 years old and going strong. A fannish immortal in every way!

(3) STEPHENSON PROFILE.  In the Washington Post, Theo Zenou interviews Neal Stephenson on the 30th anniversary of Snow Crash.  The interview focuses on Stephenson’s role in tech projects, including founding (with Bitcoin Foundation co-chair Peter Vessenes), Lamina1, “a start-up that will use blockchain technology to build an ‘open metaverse.’” Zenou explains that Stephenson has been involved part-time with tech his entire life, and became employee #1 of Blue Origin after he and Jeff Bezos went to a screening of October Sky in 1999. “Neal Stephenson’s ‘Snow Crash’ predicted metaverse and hyperinflation”.

…Stephenson’s vision for Lamina1 (meaning “layer one” in Latin) is to empower the creators of these experiences. He explained, “We want to create a structure of smart contracts and other utilities that will make it easier for people who want to build Metaverse applications to do that in the first place, and then to get compensated if it turns out that people like and want to pay for the experiences they’re creating.”…

(4) FIGURING OUT THE ENDING. If you didn’t see Cora Buhlert’s story when we linked to the tweets in May, you can now read “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘The Rescue’” as a post on her blog.

“You had one job, Corporal, one job. Protect Prince Adam, with your life, if necessary. And you failed. I swear, if something happens to Adam, you will be scrubbing toilets for the rest of your life.”

“Yes, Captain.”

“Don’t be so hard on the Corporal, Teela. It wasn’t his fault.”

“I know. I should have gone with Adam. Oh Father, what if something happens to him?”

“We’ll find Adam and save him. I promise.”

Meanwhile, in the dungeons of Snake Mountain…

(5) HAVE AN IDEA FOR A SPACE FORCE STORY? C. Stuart Hardwick is editing an anthology for Baen, Real Stories of the US Space Force, and has put out a Call For Submissions. See full details at the link.

The US Space Force has a PR problem. Several, in fact. It was not Donald Trump’s idea. It did not steal its iconography from Star Trek. It is not just a lunatic scheme to expand the military-industrial complex by sending battleships into space. Yet judging from social media, many think all these things and more.

Space has become critical not only to the military but to the economy and all aspects of daily life, and as we stand at the dawn of a new age of space commerce, that’s only going to intensify, and several nations have already developed capabilities  to deny, degrade, and disrupt access to and utilization of space–based assets, whether to degrade US Military capability or as a direct economic attack.

Like it or not, the militarization of space started long ago, threats are already up there, and wherever people and their interests go next, so too will go conflict, intrigue, heroes and villains, everything that comprises good stories….

WHAT WE WANT

Stories that grab us from the start and stay with us for days. Scientifically plausible drama about people facing interesting challenges related to the US Space Force or more generally, the policing and defense of near-Earth space and related issues, now or in the foreseeable future (the next century or so).

Stories don’t have to take place in space, involve the actual US Space Force, or be hard sci-fi, but they should help illustrate in some way how space technology shapes modern civilization in critical, often overlooked ways, how it is now or soon may come under threat, and how it might be defended now and into the future. See this page for ideas and background.

(6) A SEVENTIES LOOK AT FANHISTORY. Fanac.org has added “Minicon 10 (1975)-History of the MFS-Poul Anderson, Gordon Dickson, Clifford Simak, Bob Tucker” to its YouTube channel.

Minicon 10 (1975) – History of the MFS – Poul Anderson, Gordon Dickson, Clifford Simak, Bob Tucker & more: 

Minicon 10 was held April 18-20, 1975 in Minneapolis. This panel discussion, orchestrated by Gordy Dickson, majors in history and anecdotes of the 1940s Minneapolis Fantasy Society (MFS).  Particpants: Kenny Gray, Poul Anderson, Oliver Saari, Gordon Dickson, Grace Riger, Bob Tucker, and Clifford Simak. A high percentage of the MFS members went on to sell professionally to the magazines.

The panel begins with the flowering of MFS after Clifford Simak moved to town, to anecdotes about late night hero-saving plot sessions to the true identity of Squanchfoot (hint: Simak’s City was dedicated to him). 

You’ll hear about the softball games in which many Saaris participated, the origin of Twonk’s disease, how Poul became an MFS member and more. 

There’s silly story writing, an imitation Red Boggs, and a mass induction into the MFS.  For those that live(d) in Minneapolis, and for those that didn’t, this recording provides an affectionate look at the early MFS…Many thanks to Geri Sullivan and the Video Archeology project for providing the recording. 

(7) WHERE DID THE TIME GO. Lincoln Michel tackles the question “Why Does It Take So Long to Publish a Book?” in his Counter Craft newsletter.

… For this post, I’m just talking about the last part: how long it takes to publish a book once you sell it to a traditional publisher. Often, unpublished and self-published authors are baffled at turn around time for books. This discourse was most recently kicked off by a tweet asking authors how they would feel if a publisher offered to publish their book yet it would take 2 years and they’d have to cut 10,000 words. The replies were filled with a lot of unpublished authors saying “that’s way too long!” and/or “that’s way too many words to cut!” and then a lot of published authors saying “uh, this is completely standard in publishing?”

…To be very clear, getting published by a good publisher in no way guarantees you’ll get much attention or sell many copies. Yet if you want any chance of getting those things, your publisher needs a lot of time to pitch your book to distributors and bookstores and to do all of the publicity and marketing.

This—the general publicity, marketing, and distribution—is where much of the publishing time disappears. And it’s the kind of stuff you might not realize if you aren’t a traditionally published author. Things like major bookstore orders (including Amazon) are set long before a book is published. Anticipated book lists and “buzz” begins well in advance, sometimes before books are even finished being written. Review copies get sent to reviewers months before books are published, so that reviews can appear when the book does. And so on and so forth.

In addition to the distribution, marketing, and publicity there are other important steps if you want a professional book, especially editing (big scale stuff), copyediting (line level stuff), proofreading (typos). There are many other steps here too such as getting blurbs and getting cover art but thankfully many of these can be done concurrently with the other steps timewise….

(8) SWIFT DEPARTURE. Deadline reports “‘Tom Swift’ Canceled By CW After One Season”.

Tom Swift has swiftly gotten the boot at CW.

The low-rated, Nancy Drew spinoff only launched on May 31 and has aired six episodes to date. The series, which features a predominantly Black cast, started off as an unconventional backdoor pilot, with only Tian Richards (as Tom) getting an introduction on Nancy Drew last season. The rest of the characters were cast after the project was picked up to series in August.

We hear CBS Studios, which is behind Tom Swift, is trying to extend the options on the cast, which expire today, and plans to shop the series elsewhere.

The CW brass have said that they like the show creatively. The cancellation is said to be performance-based as Tom Swift is among the CW’s least watched series on linear, with 535K viewers in Live+7, as well as on streaming….

(9) THERE IS CRYING IN TV. A show you may not have even known was in the works has also stumbled before making it out of the cornfield:  “‘Field of Dreams’ TV Series Dropped at Peacock”.

A series adaptation of Field of Dreams has struck out at PeacockThe Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The Mike Schur-created drama based on the 1989 Kevin Costner-starring baseball-focused film was picked up straight to series in August 2021 but will not stream on the platform, according to a source with knowledge.

Universal Television, where Schur’s Fremulon shingle holds an overall deal, is in the process of talking to interested buyers.

Schur is the creator of NBC’s The Good Place, along with serving as the co-creator of Parks and RecreationBrooklyn Nine-Nine and Rutherford Falls. Among other credits, he is an executive producer on HBO Max’s Emmy-winning Hacks and Freevee’s upcoming Primo….

 (10) 124C41+. Holden Karnosky’s article “The Track Record of Futurists Seems … Fine” at Cold Takes tries to find another way of testing whether it would be a waste of time to put artificial intelligence to work as futurists. One idea was to look at the futures posited by some famous sf writers.

…The idea is something like: “Even if we can’t identify a particular weakness in arguments about key future events, perhaps we should be skeptical of our own ability to say anything meaningful at all about the long-run future. Hence, perhaps we should forget about theories of the future and focus on reducing suffering today, generally increasing humanity’s capabilities, etc.”

But are people generally bad at predicting future events? Including thoughtful people who are trying reasonably hard to be right? If we look back at prominent futurists’ predictions, what’s the actual track record? How bad is the situation?

…Recently, I worked with Gavin Leech and Misha Yagudin at Arb Research to take another crack at this. I tried to keep things simpler than with past attempts – to look at a few past futurists who (a) had predicted things “kind of like” advances in AI (rather than e.g. predicting trends in world population); (b) probably were reasonably thoughtful about it; but (c) are very clearly not “just selected on those who are famous because they got things right.” So, I asked Arb to look at predictions made by the “Big Three” science fiction writers of the mid-20th century: Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert Heinlein.

These are people who thought a lot about science and the future, and made lots of predictions about future technologies – but they’re famous for how entertaining their fiction was at the time, not how good their nonfiction predictions look in hindsight. I selected them by vaguely remembering that “the Big Three of science fiction” is a thing people say sometimes, googling it, and going with who came up – no hunting around for lots of sci-fi authors and picking the best or worst.2

Alan Baumler kept score while reading the article:

  • One (Asimov) who looks quite impressive – plenty of misses, but a 50% hit rate on such nonobvious predictions seems pretty great.
  • One (Heinlein) who looks pretty unserious and inaccurate.
  • One (Clarke) who’s a bit hard to judge but seems pretty solid overall (around half of his predictions look to be right, and they tend to be pretty nonobvious).

(11) MEMORY LANE

1972 [By Cat Eldridge.] Yes, I know I wrote up Bewitched earlier this year. Or at least I think II did. I do lose track after a while. At any rate, tonight we’ve come to eulogize its ending fifty years ago on this evening. The show aired from September 17, 1964 to July 1, 1972 on ABC for two hundred and fifty-four episodes — seventy-four in black-and-white for the first two years, 1964 to 1966) and one hundred eighty in color for the final three years, 1966 to 1972.

I cannot say that I’ve watched all of the series, but I’ve watched a fair amount of it and it will unashamedly admit that I really do like it. It’s not a complicated series, nor a particularly deep series, but it’s both fun and charming, and it is inoffensive. 

So why did Bewitched come to an end? Was it the ratings? That certainly was part of that problem as by by the end of the next-to-last season the ratings for it had noticeably dropped and the show did not even rank in the list of the top thirty programs. But that wasn’t the actual reason it got cancelled.

That was down to Elizabeth Montgomery who had grown tired of the series and wanted to move on to new roles. Well, they didn’t happen. The only thing she was on Password, a game show where she was a celebrity contestant for nearly ninety episodes. 

She died at aged sixty-two of an untimely diagnosed cancer. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 1, 1934 — Jean Marsh, 88. She was married to Jon Pertwee but it was before either were involved in Whovian affairs. She first appeared alongside The First Doctor in “The Crusade” as Lady Joanna, the sister of Richard I (The Lionheart). She returned later that year as companion Sara Kingdom in “The Daleks’ Master Plan”. And she’d return yet again during the time of the Seventh Doctor in “Battlefield” as Morgana Le Fay. She’s also in Unearthly StrangerDark PlacesReturn to OzWillow as Queen Bavmorda and The Changeling
  • Born July 1, 1935 — David Prowse. The physical embodiment of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. Ok, it’s been  a very long time since I saw Casino Royale but what was Frankenstein’s Creation doing there, the character he played in his first ever role? That he then played the role in The Horror of Frankenstein and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, Hammer Films a few years later surprises me not. He shows up in Gilliam’s Jabberwocky according to IMDB as Red Herring and Black Knights (and no I’ve no idea what that means). Finally he’s the executioner in The People That Time Forgot, a film that’s very loosely based off of several Burroughs novels. (Died 2020.)
  • Born July 1, 1942 — Genevieve Bujold, 80. We would have had a rather different look on Voyager if things had played out as the producers wished, for Bujold was their first choice to play Janeway. She quit after a day and a half of shooting, with the public reason being she was unaccustomed to the hectic pace of television filming. What the real reason was we will never know.
  • Born July 1, 1952 — Dan Aykroyd, 70. Though best known as Dr. Raymond Stantz in the original Ghostbusters films (which he wrote with Harold Raimis though he himself came up with the Ghostbusters concept), Ackroyd actually showed up in his first genre role a year earlier in Twilight Zone: The Movie as Passenger / Ambulance Driver. He’s reprised his role in Ghostbusters: Afterlife. And he was the narrator of the Hotel Paranormal series that just ended.
  • Born July 1, 1955 — Robby the Robot, aged, well, 67. Yes, this is this official birthday of the robot in Forbidden Planet, which debuted a year later. Over the years he would also be seen is such films and series as The Invisible Boy,Invasion of the Neptune MenThe Twilight ZoneLost In SpaceThe Addams Family, Wonder Woman and Gremlins.  He was in a 2006 commercial for AT&T. Well very, very briefly. 
  • Born July 1, 1964 — Charles Coleman Finlay, 58. The Traitor to the Crown series is his best known work. His first story, “Footnotes”, was published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction where many of his stories have since been published.  Editor for six years of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction until February of last year. At the World Fantasy Awards in 2021 he received the Special Award – Professional for editing The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
  • Born July 1, 1981 — Genevieve Valentine, 41. Author of the superb Persona novel and also she scripted a Catwoman series, working with artists Garry Brown and David Messina. Her first novel, Mechanique: A tale of the Circus Tresaulti, won the Crawford Award for a first fantasy novel. She scripted a run of Xena: Warrior Princess, and scripted Batman & Robin Eternal as well. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Non Sequitur shows what would happen if Hollywood added “improvements” to Noah’s Ark. (Which, of course, they’ve already done, but play along with the joke.)

(14) AMAZON PRIME TEASER TRAILER FOR PAPER GIRLS. [Item by Daniel Dern.] The comic book Paper Girls — which involves time travel among other tropes, so it’s inarguably science fiction — which I may have stumbled on either browsing my library’s “new graphic novels” or during the year-ish I subscribed to ComiXology’s monthly streaming digital comics service, or a mix, is about to be an Amazon Prime series, per this trailer I just saw:

It looks promising, to say the least.

Want to read ’em first? If your public library (or interlibrary loan) doesn’t have them, you can e-borrow/read issues 1-30 free through HooplaDigital.com — either as Volumes 1-6, or in 3 borrows (remember, Hoopla allows a set # borrows/month) by going for the Deluxe Edition Books (10 issues each), as this search shows.

(I’ve read ’em; recommended!)

(15) USHERING IN THE ATOMIC AGE. Now on the block at Heritage Auctions is Capt. Robert Lewis’ ‘Enola Gay’ logbook documenting the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Bidding was up to $400,000 when last checked.

Captain Robert A. Lewis, the co-pilot of the B-29 Superfortress called the Enola Gay, wrote those immortal words shortly after 8:16 a.m. on Aug. 6, 1945, moments after he and his crewmates dropped the atomic bomb on the citizens of Hiroshima. The course of history changed at that precise moment: A beautiful day exploded into a blinding bright light, a nuclear fireball leveled a city, at least 100,000 died, and a world war neared its end.

And there, high above it all yet so much a part of the devastation below, was Robert Lewis to chronicle every spectacular and awful moment. He was among the dozen Enola Gay crewmen who delivered the 15-kiloton bomb codenamed “Little Boy” to Japan and the only person aboard who kept a detailed account of the top-secret mission that changed the world.

Lewis’ 11-page chronicle of those few minutes is among the most important documents of the 20th century, a harrowing and oft-heartbreaking account of those very moments between the pre-atomic and post-atomic world – before Hiroshima was struck by the noiseless flash, consumed by fire and swallowed by a mushroom cloud. The public has not seen it since it sold in 2002 during a famous auction of publisher Malcolm Forbes’ American historical documents.

(16) COULD WE DECODE ALIEN PHYSICS? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Matt O’Dowd at PBS Space Time asks “Could We Decode Alien Physics?”

How hard can it really be to decode alien physics and engineering? It’s gotta map to our own physics – I mean, we live in the same universe. We start by noticing that the alien technology seems to use good ol’ fashioned electronics, even if it is insanely complex. We know this because the particle carried by the alien circuitry looks like the electron. We decide this through a process of elimination.

(17) FOR YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE. JustWatch tracked themoviedb.org data to measure “Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies and TV Shows in the US in June.”

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1Everything Everywhere All at OnceObi-Wan Kenobi
2Jurassic World: Fallen KingdomFor All Mankind
3Jurassic WorldSeverance
4Spider-Man: No Way HomeTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
5Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of MadnessWestworld
6MorbiusStar Trek: Strange New Worlds
7Jurassic ParkDoctor Who
8Ghostbusters: AfterlifeNight Sky
9Crimes of the FutureThe Man Who Fell to Earth
10MoonfallThe Twilight Zone

*Based on JustWatch popularity score. Genre data is sourced from themoviedb.org

(18) THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTED. Gizmodo takes stock of its accomplishments as “LightSail 2 Mission Poised to Burn Up in Earth’s Atmosphere”.

For the past three years, a tiny loaf-of-bread-sized spacecraft with gigantic wings has been sailing on sunbeams in low Earth orbit. LightSail 2 has far exceeded its life expectancy and proven that solar sails can indeed be used to fly spacecraft. But its journey around our planet is sadly coming to an end, as Earth’s atmosphere drags the spacecraft downward where it will eventually burn up in atmospheric flames.

The Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 launched in June 2019 and unfurled its 344-square-foot (32-square-meter) solar sail a month later. Just two weeks after spreading its wings, LightSail 2 gained 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) of altitude, making this experiment a success….

(19) NIMOY THEATER UPDATE. A new era for the Center for the Art of Performance UCLA is underway as they continue to develop the UCLA Nimoy Theater. “The Nimoy sets new horizon for the arts community”. You can see an overview of the project here.

Located near the UCLA campus on Westwood Boulevard, The Nimoy is a reimagining of the historic Crest Theater as a flexible, state-of-the-art performance space.

Opening in late March 2023, the intimately-scaled venue is named for artist, actor, director and philanthropist Leonard Nimoy. Shawmut Construction has been working steadily to renovate the venue, which will be equipped with new and green technologies to support the creation and presentation of innovative work. 

The Nimoy will be a home for artists representing a broad diversity of voices, viewpoints, ideas and creative expressions in music, dance, theater, literary arts, digital media arts and collaborative disciplines. The inaugural season will feature a large slate of amazing shows, including new work by the legendary Kronos Quartet, “live documentarian” filmmaker Sam Green, and a collaboration between two essential musical voices of Los Angeles, Quetzal and Perla Batalla. 

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [By Martin Morse Wooster.] Alasdair Beckett-King asks, “What if Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson got email from spammers claiming to be “sexy women from Moldova?” “Hot Detectives in Your Area”.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Curt Phillips, Daniel Dern, Alan Baumler, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie. Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 2/19/22 I Am NOT Pixel Number Six

(1) COLUMBIA COLLEGE REACTS TO ALLEGATIONS AGAINST WELLER. Columbia College Chicago has announced that faculty member and Bradbury biographer Sam Weller, accused by a former colleague of sexual assault, will ‘step away’ from teaching during Columbia investigation.

A Columbia faculty member publicly accused of sexual assault by a former colleague at the college has agreed to “step away” from the classroom while the college investigates the claims. 

In an article published on Medium Feb. 12, Cara Dehnert, a former associate professor of instruction in the Business and Entrepreneurship Department, accused Sam Weller, associate professor in the English and Creative Writing Department, of sexually assaulting her in his office on March 25, 2018. 

…Dehnert said she received no communication from Human Resources after her meeting with them in 2020, and as of Feb. 18 has not heard from the college following the publication of her article.

In a Feb. 15 statement, Lambrini Lukidis, associate vice president of Strategic Communications and External Relations, said the college was investigating the allegations against Weller. 

“Columbia College Chicago is aware of recent new allegations of potential criminal behavior and misconduct, which the College is investigating,” the statement said. “All reports of crimes and misconduct are taken seriously, investigated by the College and forwarded to local law enforcement if necessary.”  

Over the course of the past week, Dehnert’s post was shared on various social media platforms, via email and in the Columbia Engage app. As word of the accusation spread, calls for accountability and for Weller’s removal from the classroom grew. A petition titled “Hold Sam Weller accountable” was posted Wednesday on Change.org, and as of Friday evening had garnered more than 2,600 signatures. 

In a Feb. 16 interview, Madhurima Chakraborty, president of the Faculty Senate and associate chair of the English and Creative Writing Department, said she wanted more transparency from the college. 

“I want there to be clarity around accountability,” Chakraborty said. “I want there to be a clear understanding of what it is that we should be able to expect from our workplaces and the place where we study.” 

A statement from Lukidis to the Chronicle on Feb. 18 said Weller and the college “have agreed he will step away from his classes pending the outcome of the investigation.”  

Students enrolled in Weller’s classes received an email Friday afternoon from Pegeen Reichert Powell, chair of the English and Creative Writing Department, informing them that Weller’s classes would be taught by a substitute “for the time being.”…  

A local Chicago TV news devoted two minutes to the story, strangely failing to identify the accused person but interviewing the accuser on camera: “Columbia College Professor to ‘Step Away’ From Teaching Amid Sexual Assault Probe” at NBC Chicago.

Cara Dehnert Huffman has learned she’s not the only one, as she told Facebook readers yesterday.

… Since then, I’ve been contacted by five other women and counting who shared similar experience. Except all of them were students at the time.

I don’t know why Columbia College Chicago didn’t act when Sam’s behavior was reported by someone else in 2017. I don’t know why (it appears) that CCC did not act when I reported in 2020.

I’ve said all along that my only goal is to help people moving forward. But as I read and listen to heart wrenching tale after tale, all of which are too similar to mine and all of which done by the hands of Sam, I’ve reconsidered my position.

The pattern is clear. Sam’s abuse and manipulation go back as early as 2008. 2008!!!! …

(2) SOMETHING PROS WONDER ABOUT. Lincoln Michel asks, “Do blurbs work?” and answers: Maybe, but yes if Stephen King blurbs your first novel: “Do Blurbs Actually Work?”

… Yes, sometimes. I myself have bought books thanks to blurbs now and then. Recently, I was browsing a translated literature table and saw The Houseguest by Amparo Dávila. I’d never heard of the author, but the book had blurbs from Carmen Maria Machado and Julio Cortázar so I thought, hell, let’s give this author a try! I’m glad I did.

Whenever blurb discourse heats up, plenty of readers say blurbs are a factor. So yes, they can sell books.

At the same time, yes, it is perhaps true that blurbs are rarely the deciding factor….

(3) GET READY. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki pointed Facebook readers to the cover and table of contents release for Bridging Worlds: Global Conversations on Creating Pan-African Speculative Literature In A Pandemic at Jembefola, which will be released as a free download there on February 21.

…It will feature 18 non-fiction pieces by 19 creatives You can check out the TOC  here.

Our amazing cover was done by Dare Segun Falowo. The book itself will be free to download in all formats, following and due to the events inspired by Amazon KDP’s bad behaviour….

… 2020 was a landmark year in the lives of speculative fiction writers trying to both survive and create in the pandemic-lockdown breakout year. It was especially difficult for Black people, and Africans on the continent and in the diaspora.

The Bridging Worlds anthology examines those difficulties and how Black people and African writers navigated them. Even though we had myriad experiences in the different worlds we inhabit, we were nonetheless plagued by well, the same plague, no pun intended.

Bridging Worlds seeks to explore the threads and lines that connect us as we navigated this singular yet multifaceted experience, and show that connection in the various non-fiction pieces written in the diverse styles and forms the authors chose….

(4) WRAPPED. George R.R. Martin gave Not a Blog readers a progress report on House of the Dragon.

Exciting news out of London — I am informed that shooting has WRAPPED for the first season of HOUSE OF THE DRAGON.

Yes, all ten episodes.   I have seen rough cuts of a few of them, and I’m loving them.  Of course, a lot more work needs to be done.   Special effects, color timing, score, all the post production work.

But the writing, the directing, the acting all look terrific.   I hope you will like them as much as I do…. 

HBO/HBO Max chief content officer Casey Bloys was asked by Variety when the show will air.

…While Bloys could not tell Variety when “House of the Dragon” might premiere, he did confirm that it’s likely the show sticks around for more than just one season.

“If you’re betting on whether we’re going to do a second season, I think it’s probably a pretty good bet,” Bloys said. “Generally speaking, we usually let something air and see how it does, but obviously, we’ll make preparations ahead of time to make sure we’re ahead of the game.”…

(5) SFF MAGAZINE TRENDS AND INSIGHTS. Jason Sanford has published the “Genre Grapevine SF/F Magazines Survey Results” in a free Patreon post. He notes, “It turns out the results before the pandemic match up pretty close to the results in 2022. I also included a ton of the comments people shared as they completed the survey. Some fascinating stuff in those comments.”

At the end of 2019 I released the special report #SFF2020: The State of Genre Magazines, which examined the history of genre magazines along with the issues facing today’s magazines and podcasts. The report also included interviews with the editors, publishers, and staff of a number of leading SF/F magazines and podcasts.

I intended to follow that report with an examination of the attitudes of people in the science fiction and fantasy community towards their genre’s magazines and podcasts. I completed a survey on this topic in December 2019 and intended to combine the survey results with more interviews and research.

If all went well, the report would have been released in February 2020.

Of course, all did not go well. The global COVID pandemic shut the world down and swept my own personal life. I didn’t have the time to complete the report.

A few weeks ago I looked over the 2019 survey results and realized they presented an opportunity to see if the pandemic had changed attitudes among people in the SF/F community toward genre magazines and podcasts. I re-ran the same survey and compared the results….

(6) MYSTERIES REVEALED. Editor Laura Stadler tweeted a thread inviting readers to better understand what editors do. However, it’s in German, and if Twitter’s translations are not up to your standards, by all means, don’t click! Personally, I found it helpful. Thread starts here. The translation of the first tweet says —

Twitter, let’s talk about what editors do? And why am I, as an editor, not an absolute enemy of authors and why do you really not have to be afraid of me and my work on your texts?

(7) RETURN TO WONDERLAND. Literary Hub’s Erin Morgenstern shares the experience of rereading Carroll’s story for Alice in “How Lewis Carroll Built a World Where Nothing Needs to Make Sense”.

… Every time I read the books, I am struck by something that hadn’t captured my attention the same way in previous readings. On this most recent re-reading, I noticed anew how often Alice interferes with pencils belonging to other characters, and I was particularly caught by the question of what does the flame of a candle look like after the candle is blown out? There are treasures to be found in these pages, glimmering, whether it is your first time reading, or fifth, or fiftieth.

No matter how familiar these stories may be, that white rabbit might lead you somewhere unexpected, if only you will follow….

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1960 [Item by Cat Eldridge]

The time is the day after tomorrow. The place: a far corner of the universe. A cast of characters: three men lost amongst the stars. Three men sharing the common urgency of all men lost. They’re looking for home. And in a moment, they’ll find home; not a home that is a place to be seen, but a strange unexplainable experience to be felt. — opening narration

On this date sixty two years ago, The Twilight Zone’s “Elegy” aired for this first time. It was the twentieth episode of the first season and was written by Charles Beaumont who you might recognize as the screenwriter of 7 Faces of Dr. Lao. Beaumont would die at just thirty-eight of unknown causes that were assumed to be neurological in nature. 

The cast for this SF Twilight Zone episode was Cecil Kellaway as Jeremy Wickwire, Jeff Morrow as Kurt Meyers, Kevin Hagen as Captain James Webber and Don Dubbins as Peter Kirby. 

This episode was based on his short story “Elegy” published in Imagination, February 1953. It was included in Mass for Mixed Voices: The Selected Short Fiction of Charles Beaumont.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 19, 1912 Walter Gillings. UK fan of some note. He edited Scientifiction, a short lived but historic fanzine. Shortly thereafter he edited Tales of Wonder, regarded as the first UK SF zine. Clarke made his pro debut here. He’d edit a number of other genre zines later on, and ISFDB lists him as having two genre stories to his credit whereas Wiki claims he has three. (Died 1979.)
  • Born February 19, 1915 Fred Freiberger. He’s best remembered as  the producer of the third and final season of Star Trek. He was also involved in the Wild Wild West, the second season of Space: 1999 which he’s wholly responsible for and the short-lived Beyond Westworld. He was brought unto Trek after Roddenberry resigned as Showrunner. (Died 2003.)
  • Born February 19, 1937 Terry Carr. Well known and loved fan, author, editor, and writing instructor. I usually don’t list Awards both won and nominated for but his are damned impressed so I will. He was nominated five times for Hugos for Best Fanzine (1959–1961, 1967–1968), winning in 1959, was nominated three times for Best Fan Writer (1971–1973), winning in 1973, and he was Fan Guest of Honor at ConFederation in 1986. Wow.  He worked at Ace Books before going freelance where he edited an original story anthology series called Universe, and The Best Science Fiction of the Year anthologies that ran from 1972 until his early death in 1987. Back to Awards again. He was nominated for the Hugo for Best Editor thirteen times (1973–1975, 1977–1979, 1981–1987), winning twice (1985 and 1987). His win in 1985 was the first time a freelance editor had won. Wow indeed. Novelist as well. Just three novels but all are still in print today though I don’t think his collections are and none of his anthologies seem to be currently either. A final note. An original anthology of science fiction, Terry’s Universe, was published the year after his death with all proceeds went to his widow. (Died 1987.) 
  • Born February 19, 1937 Lee Harding, 83. He was among the founding members of the Melbourne Science Fiction Club along with Bertram Chandler. He won Ditmar Awards for Dancing Gerontius and Fallen Spaceman. In the Oughts, the Australian Science Fiction Foundation would give him the Chandler Award in gratitude for his life’s work. It does not appear that any of his work is available from the usual digital sources. 
  • Born February 19, 1964 Jonathan Lethem, 58. His first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music, a weird mix of SF and detective fiction, is fantastic in more ways that I can detail here. I confess that I lost track of him after that novel so I’d be interested in hearing what y’all think of his later genre work particularly his latest, The Arrest. His only major Award win was a World Fantasy Award for The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye collection. 
  • Born February 19, 1966 Claude Lalumière, 56. I met him once here in Portland. Author, book reviewer and has edited numerous anthologies. Amazing writer of short dark fantasy stories collected in three volumes so far, Objects of WorshipThe Door to Lost Pages and Nocturnes and Other Nocturnes. Tachyon published his latest anthology, Super Stories of Heroes & Villains
  • Born February 19, 1968 Benicio del Toro, 54. Originally cast as Khan in that Trek film but unable to perform the role as he was committed to another film. (And yes, I think he would’ve made a better Khan.)  He’s been The Collector in the Marvel film franchise, Lawrence Talbot in the 2010 remake of The Wolfman, and codebreaker DJ in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  Let’s not forget that he was in Big Top Pee-wee as Duke, the Dog-Faced Boy followed by being in Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as Dr. Gonzo which damn well should count as genre even if it isn’t. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side sympathizes with a famous writer.
  • xkcd explains the tractor beam – in its own idiocyncratic way.

(11) QUEEN TO QUEEN SEVEN. Paul Weimer returns to A Green Man Review with an assessment of “Greta Kelly’s The Seventh Queen

When last we left Askia, things had gone so very wrong for her. Her efforts to protect her people, her lost kingdom had been completely dashed, and she has been captured. Now, at the heart of the power of her enemy, and nearly completely denuded of her powers, Askia has to find new ways and techniques to resist and oppose Radovan, and not incidentally, save her own life. For it is certain that, like his previous captives and victims, Radovan will, within a month, kill her, and take and distribute her power as he did his previous Empresses.

The Seventh Queen continues the story from Kelly’s debut novel The Frozen Queen.

(12) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to brunch with Natalie Luhrs in episode 165 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

My guest for brunch at the Unconventional Diner — about which Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema wrote — when he placed the restaurant at #4 on his Fall dining guide last year — “No restaurant fed me more often, or better, throughout the pandemic than French chef David Deshaies’s whimsical tribute to American comfort food.” — was two-time Hugo Award finalist Natalie Luhrs.

She’s the former science fiction and fantasy reviewer for Romantic Times Book Reviews and was briefly an acquisitions editor for Masque Books, the digital imprint of Prime. Though she dabbles in writing speculative fiction and poetry, she is mostly known for her non-fiction — which earned her those nominations — and can be found at her personal blog, Pretty Terrible, the intersectional geek blog, The Bias, which she co-founded with previous guest of this podcast Annalee Flower Horne, and of course, on Twitter, as @eilatanReads.

We discussed why I had a more optimistic outlook on her chances of winning last year than she did, the emotions which inspired her most recently nominated work and the doxxing that resulted from her offering up that opinion, her love for Dune even as she recognizes the classic novel’s problematic parts, what she once said about the Lord Peter Wimsey continuations which caused a backlash, the ways romance and science fiction conventions differ, where she chooses to expend her spoons when controversies arise, the importance of making our shared fannish community a welcoming space for all, recent science fiction novels which blew her mind, and much more.

Natalie Luhrs

(13) A YEAR OF ROVING. NASA interviewed Mars 2020 team members on the occasion of Perseverance’s Landiversary.

It’s been one busy year for NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover! Join us in the Mars Yard at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as we celebrate the one-year anniversary of the robotic explorer’s historic Mars landing. We’ll be chatting with members of the Mars 2020 team who helped make the moment happen, and they’ll tell us what’s next for the rover.

(14) NUMBER NINE, NUMBER NINE. BBC Culture’s Nicholas Barber is not ready to concede to Plan 9 From Outer Space: “Is this the worst film ever made?”

…Among cinephiles who enjoyed bad films as much as good ones, Plan 9 from Outer Space became known as the one movie you had to watch, and watch again, and tell your friends (or enemies) to watch, too. Xavier Mendik, co-editor of The Cult Film Reader, says that it “remains a key template for judging cult film status”. Its fans wrote unofficial sequels and mounted stage adaptations. Jerry and his buddies aim to watch it in an episode of Seinfeld from 1991. And in 1994, Tim Burton’s biopic of Ed Wood climaxes with the making of the film. “This is the one,” beams Wood (Johnny Depp) at its premiere. “This is the one they’ll remember me for”.

… And here’s the third key to its strange charm: it isn’t actually a failure in every respect. Don’t get me wrong. Plan 9 from Outer Space is a terrible film. A dreadful film. An atrocious film. But it does have some elements that are halfway decent, and it’s unlikely that it would have a cult following without them…

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] A family of excited Star Wars fans have turned up at a new exhibition on the construction of the Millennium Falcon months before it opens.

 A life-size prop of the spaceship was built in Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire, in 1979 for the Empire Strikes Back, which was filmed in Elstree.

And news of a permanent exhibition there, due to open in April, pushed some fans to make the jump to hyperspace prematurely.

Mark Williams, who works for the Pembroke Dock Heritage Trust, said one family had “jumped the gun a little bit” amid a flurry of calls, emails and social media posts from fans.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/19/22 File The Pixels, Lest They Squeak Or Scroll

(1) LOTR SERIES TITLE ANNOUNCEMENT. Amazon Studios will be calling it — The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The series begins airing on Amazon Prime on September 2, 2022.

Amazon Studios’ forthcoming series brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.

(2) IN TRANSLATION. The Lord of the Rings on Prime also tweeted a video displaying versions of the series title in different languages – including two of Tolkien’s.

We’re assured by an expert that the Sindarin translation is accurate: “’Rings of Power’ Tengwar and Sindarin (Prime)”.

Amazon has published today not only the trailer for the series “Rings of Power” (see below) but also a teaser with the title in different languages. There is a Polish version (I will show it in a moment). There is also a Sindarin version! This is the correct Sindarin (you can see that the creators of the series have tried to get good Tolkien linguists). 

(3) SPACE UNICORNS SOUND OFF. You have until February 7 to make your voice heard:

We’ve set up a poll for Uncanny readers to vote for their top three favorite original short stories from 2021. (You can find links to all of the stories here.)

The poll will be open from January 10 to February 7, after which we’ll announce the results. We’re excited for you to share which Uncanny stories made you feel!

snazzy certificate will be given to the creator whose work comes out on top of  the poll!

(4) ALGORITHM RUN AMOK. The Fantasy Book Critic blog was buried under a massive amount of wrong DMCA takedown notices generated by the Link-Busters anti-piracy service, and for the time being has been removed by its host, Blogger, for the breach of TOS (Terms of Service). Link-Busters reportedly has acknowledged their mistake and agreed to notify Blogger. This reputable blog is one of the judges of both the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off and the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition.

The fans are trying to accelerate getting their blog restored through social media. Thread starts here.

(5) THEY’RE EAR-IE. It’s Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday, and Christopher Conlon touts these radio dramas above any other adaptations. “Edgar in the Air: Poe and America’s Golden Age of Radio”.

…Lots of these broadcasts still exist today, and they often make for compelling listening. I would go so far as to say that some vintage radio adaptations of Poe’s stories surpass, both in fidelity to the source material and overall dramatic effectiveness, any film or TV version ever done of them….

His list begins with this 1957 episode of Suspense — “The Pit and Pendulum”.  

(6) FOUNDING OF THE SCA. Fanac.org has extracted the story of how the Society for Creative Anachronism was started from an audio interview with the late Ed Meskys.

Ed Meskys tells us the story of the beginnings of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) in this short audio recording (enhanced with photographs). Ed played a pivotal role in introducing fencers Dave Thewlis and Ken de Maiffe to Diana Paxson, and has an insider’s perspective on how the “Great Idea” was born. Ed recounts how the First Tournament came to be, and points us to a contemporary report about it in his fanzine, Niekas. You can read the report on page 7 of #16 at Niekas This short recording is excerpted from a longer 2018 interview by Mark Olson.

(7) THE MATRIX HAS A FUTURE AGAIN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews games connected to The Matrix.

The most interesting of the Wachowskis’ experiments in gaming was The Matrix Online (MX)O), a massively multiplayer online role-playing game released at the same time World Of Warcraft was becoming a cultural phenomenon.  Following the end of the trilogy, they wanted fans to ‘inherit the storyline’ and collaboratively write a narrative which would be canon in the Matrix universe. Over four years the game’s story developed in instalments, notably featuring the death of Morpheus. This collaborative cross-media space that the Wachowskis created feels imaginative even today, as we buckle under the weight of the extended cinematic universe of Marvel and Star Wars.

Just ahead of the recent film, a new playable Matrix was released. The Matrix Awakens is not a full game but rather a tech demo intended to show off Unreal Engine 5, the latest iteration of Epic’s software engine which powers many contemporary games.  It features (Keanu) Reeves reprising his role in scenes written by Lana Wachowski, including action and narrative sequences, before players are let loose in a stunningly realistic open world.  While you can do little more than play tourist in this space, it is a remarkable demonstration of the game worlds we can expect as developers get to grips with the new generation of consoles.  After a long period of silence, a return to the Matrix in gaming once again points us towards the future.

(8) AND TELL TCHAIKOVSKY THE NEWS. Cora Buhlert tells squeecore to roll over, it’s time to talk about a real trend: “How To Define a New Subgenre/Trend: The Speculative Epic and an Addendum to the ‘Squeecore’ Debate”.

… That said, Lincoln Michel is right that there seem to be more books featuring multiple intertwining timelines right now, that they share certain characteristics such as addressing social issues (though you could argue that The Star Rover address the issue of prisoner abuse) and that they mainly come from the literary side of the pond rather than from the genre side, whereas the predecessors were mostly genre writers. In addition to Cloud Atlas, the examples Michel gives are Appleseed by Matt Bell, To Paradise by Hanya YanagiharaCloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr, Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel and How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu.

However, I’m not just linking to this article because I’m interested in literary trends, subgenre formation and genre taxonomy (though I am), but also because Lincoln Michel demonstrates how to identify and define a new trend/potential subgenre without being a jerk about it….

(9) LEFT BEHIND. James Davis Nicoll says “Novels with a focus on demographic transition-driven decline are sadly rare in Western SF,” to begin his latest post for Tor.com, “Empty Earths: Five SF Stories Set on a Depopulated Planet”. One of those rarities is —

Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (1985)

A core-world alien, Snaggles, studies the social evolution of various carbon-based intra-skeletal species. Humanity’s past falls within its remit. Humanity’s present, however, is an inconvenience. Billions of humans interfere with field work. Therefore, Snaggles makes a deal with Doran. Doran can provide his fellow humans with immortality and vast power if they take his one-way tickets to habitable exo-planets. Most humans find the offer attractive. By the modern era, Earth has ten million humans left on it….

(Walter Jon Williams hastened to let his Facebook followers know it’s by no means a rare subject in his catalog — he’s written three on that theme.)

(10) YVETTE MIMIEUX (1942-2022). Actress Yvette Mimeux, whose place in genre history was cemented in 1960 with her appearance as Weena opposite Rod Taylor’s H. George Wells in The Time Machine, died January 17 at the age of 80. She also co-starred as an ESP-sensitive scientist in The Black Hole (1979), Disney’s highest budgeted movie up to that time.

Her other genre appearances included: One Step Beyond (1960 TV show, 1 ep.), The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962), The Picasso Summer (1969) – based on a Ray Bradbury short story, Death Takes a Holiday (1971 TV movie), Black Noon (1971 TV movie), The Neptune Factor (1973), Bell, Book and Candle (1976 TV movie), Snowbeast (1977 TV movie), and Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell (1978 TV movie).

(11) GASPARD ULLIEL OBIT. French actor Gaspard Ulliel, cast as Midnight Man in the upcoming Marvel series Moon Knight, has died following a skiing accident. He was injured Tuesday in a collision with another skier. After being airlifted to Grenoble, he died of a traumatic brain injury NBC News reported. Among Ulliel’s many upcoming projects was La bête, a science fiction movie reteaming him with his Saint-Laurent director, Bertrand Bonello.

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

2006 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Just sixteen years ago, Pan’s Labyrinth premiered. In Spanish, it was called El laberinto del fauno which meansThe Labyrinth of the Faun. It was written, directed and co-produced by Mexican-born and raised Guillermo Del Toro. Other producers were Bertha Navarro, Alfonso Cuarón, Frida Torresblanco and  Álvaro Augustin. 

It was narrated by Pablo Adán with a primary Spanish language cast (Sergi López, Maribel Verdú, Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil and Álex Angulo) with the exception of Doug Jones as the Faun and the Pale Man who of course has a very long relationship with Del Toro going back to Mimic which was based on theDonald Wollheim’s story of the same name. The “Mimic” story was nominated for a Retro Hugo at Worldcon 76.

Reception for it was excellent. It won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, at Nippon 2007 which had dual Toastmasters in the guise of George Takei and Nozomi Ohmori. Children of MenThe Prestige, V for Vendetta and A Scanner Darkly were also nominated for this Award.

Critics really liked it. Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun Times said of it that “Nothing I am likely to see, however, is likely to change my conviction that the year’s best film was Pan’s Labyrinth.” And Mark Kermode writing in The Observer exclaimed that it is “an epic, poetic vision in which the grim realities of war are matched and mirrored by a descent into an underworld populated by fearsomely beautiful monsters.”

Box office was quite superb as it cost just under twenty million to produce and made over eighty million.  Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give a near perfect ninety one percent rating. 

Usually I don’t note the figures made for a film but the Faun got some great ones including the NECA eight inch version which you see here in all its nightmarish glory. The Pale Man got his own figure as well.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 19, 1916 Bernard Baily. A comics writer, editor and publisher. Best remembered as co-creator of the DC Comics the Spectre and Hourman. For DC Comics precursor National Comics, Baily co-created and drew the adventure feature “Tex Thomson” in Action Comics #1 (June 1938), the landmark comic book that introduced Superman. (Died 1996.)
  • Born January 19, 1924 Dean Fredericks. Actor best known for his portrayal of the comic strip character Steve Canyon in the television series of the same name which aired from 1958–1959 on NBC. His first genre role is in Them! followed by appearances in The Disembodied and the lead in The Phantom Planet which you can watch here. (Died 1999.)
  • Born January 19, 1930 Tippi Hedren, 92. Melanie Daniels in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds which scared the sh!t out of me when I saw it a long time ago. She had a minor role as Helen in The Birds II: Land’s End, a televised sequel done thirty years on. No idea how bad or good it was as I’ve not seen it. Other genre appearances were in such films and shows as Satan’s HarvestTales from the DarksideThe Bionic Woman, the new version of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Batman: The Animated Series.
  • Born January 19, 1932 Richard Lester, 90. Director best remembered for his Eighties Superman films. He’s got a number of other genre films including the exceedingly silly The Mouse on the MoonRobin and Marian which may be my favorite Robin Hood film everand an entire excellent series of Musketeers films. He also directed Royal Flash based on George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman novel of that name. 
  • Born January 19, 1956 Geena Davis, 66. Her first genre role was as Veronica “Ronnie” Quaife in The Fly reboot, followed by her widely remembered roles as Barbara Maitland in Beetlejuice and Valerie Gail in Earth Girls Are Easy. She also played Morgan Adams in the box office bomb Cutthroat Island before getting the choice plum of Mrs. Eleanor Little in the Stuart Little franchise.  She has a lead role in Marjorie Prime, a film tackling memory loss in Alzheimer’s victims some fifty years by creating holographic projections of deceased family members that sounds really creepy. Who’s seen it?  Her major series role to date is as Regan MacNeil on The Exorcist, a ten-episode FOX sequel to the film.
  • Born January 19, 1958 Allen Steele, 64. Best, I think, at the shorter length works as reflected in his three Hugo wins: the first at LA Con III for his “The Death of Captain Future”, the second for his “… Where Angels Fear to Tread” at BucConeer and his third for “The Emperor of Mars” at Renovation. Not to say that you should overlook his novels and future history series beginning with The Jericho Iteration, which is well-worth your time. 
  • Born January 19, 1962 Paul McCrane, 60. Emil Antonowsky in RoboCop whose death there is surely an homage to the Toxic Avenger. A year later, he’d be Deputy Bill Briggs in the remake of The Blob, and he played Leonard Morris Betts in the “Leonard Betts” episode of the X-Files. 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) GENRE MUSIC TOPS THE CHARTS. In the Washington Post, Bethonie Butler says that the songs from Encanto have become very popular, with four songs on the Billboard Hot 100 and “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” reaching  #5. They’ve also gotten many fans on TikTok. “How ‘Encanto’ and its soundtrack became a viral phenomenon”.

… If you didn’t know the “Hamilton” creator was responsible for “Encanto’s” original songs, you would almost certainly know by the time you heard “Surface Pressure.” In the bouncy track, the brawny Luisa (Jessica Darrow) belts out her anxiety and resolve around the (literal) heavy lifting she takes on to help her family. It contains one of the most [Lin Manuel] Mirandaesque lines ever: “Under the surface, I feel berserk as a tightrope walker in a three-ring circus,” Luisa sings before asking, “Was Hercules ever like ‘Yo, I don’t wanna fight Cerberus?”

(16) THE SKY’S NO LIMIT. “Radian announces plans to build one of the holy grails of spaceflight”Ars Technica has the story.

A Washington-state based aerospace company has exited stealth mode by announcing plans to develop one of the holy grails of spaceflight—a single-stage-to-orbit space plane. Radian Aerospace said it is deep into the design of an airplane-like vehicle that could take off from a runway, ignite its rocket engines, spend time in orbit, and then return to Earth and land on a runway.

“We all understand how difficult this is,” said Livingston Holder, Radian’s co-founder, chief technology officer, and former head of the Future Space Transportation and X-33 program at Boeing.

(17) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Newsweek is deeply concerned: “Earth’s Core Is Cooling Faster Than Expected, Creating Uncertain Future for Planet”.

A study has unveiled secrets previously locked deep inside the Earth’s interior that could have profound implications for the future of the planet we call home.

The research paper, published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, shows Earth’s core is cooling faster than scientists had thought previously.

Scientists examined the conductivity of bridgmanite, previously named as the most abundant material in the Earth, that is found in great quantities between the core and mantle of the Earth’s interior—a place known as the Core-Mantle-Boundary (CMB.)

By experimenting on bridgmanite using extreme temperatures and pressures found at the CMB, scientists found that bridgmanite is about 1.5 times more conductive of heat than previously thought.

Consequently, the heat transfer of the high temperatures found at the center of the Earth to its outer areas, like the molten rock of the mantle and beyond, is happening faster than was previously thought….

(18) SMELLETH LIKE THE SHOW THOU LOVE. Last month, Old Spice did a commercial that ties into The Witcher. And Netflix ran a related quiz that’s still online: “Old Spice + The Witcher” – I’m counting on you to better my rate of 50% correct.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Hawkeye,” the Screen Junkies say that “in a multiverse of infinite possibilities, even the lamest ideas must exist” and that the series features Hawkeye’s assistant, who is obsessed with branding, and a deaf character who doesn’t have to hear the characters surrounding her overuse the word “bro.”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Chris Barkley, Dann, Cora Buhlert, 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 Stuart Hall.]

Pixel Scroll 9/24/21 Scrolling Pixels Give You So Much More

(1) SUES WHATEVER A SPIDER CAN. The heirs of Steve Ditko filed to reclaim their rights to some well-known Marvel characters – now Marvel is suing to prevent them. The Hollywood Reporter looks over the filings in “Marvel Suing to Keep Rights to ‘Avengers’ Characters”.

Disney’s Marvel unit is suing to hold on to full control of Avengers characters including Iron Man, Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, Ant-Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Falcon, Thor and others.

The complaints, which The Hollywood Reporter has obtained, come against the heirs of some late comic book geniuses including Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Gene Colan. The suits seek declaratory relief that these blockbuster characters are ineligible for copyright termination as works made for hire. If Marvel loses, Disney would have to share ownership of characters worth billions.

In August, the administrator of Ditko’s estate filed a notice of termination on Spider-Man, which first appeared in comic book form in 1962. Under the termination provisions of copyright law, authors or their heirs can reclaim rights once granted to publishers after waiting a statutory set period of time. According to the termination notice, Marvel would have to give up Ditko’s rights to its iconic character in June 2023….

If the plaintiffs win, Disney expects to at least hold on to at least a share of character rights as co-owners. The studio would have to share profits with the others. Additionally, the termination provisions of copyright law only apply in the United States, allowing Disney to continue to control and profit from foreign exploitation.

(2) LIKE PEANUT BUTTER AND CHOCOLATE. Lincoln Michel on why noir blends well with sf, at CrimeReads: “Why Noir and Science Fiction Are Still a Perfect Pairing”.

… I think the answer lies first in the fact that both genres have an inherent critique of the social order. They question the state of the world, refusing to just accept the corruption, inequality, and destruction as “the way things are.” Or at least saying, sure, it’s the way things are, but it’s still screwed up.

While other crime genres are often fundamentally a defense of the status quo—police procedurals focus on petty criminals and heroic cops, spy thrillers defeat threats to the established global order—noir presents the established order as crime. It is the rich and the powerful, and the institutions that serve them, that are the true villains. (Of course this isn’t true of every single noir work, but it is of the ones that influenced SF subgenres like cyberpunk.) Take Dashiell Hammett’s masterpiece Red Harvest, in which a rich man and a corrupt police force collaborate with gangs to crush poor workers. Or Chinatown, in which a business tycoon controls government institutions to choke off water supplies. This critique of the social order is why the prototypical hardboiled (anti)hero exists outside of the official law enforcement structure. They’re not a police officer, FBI agent, or government spy. They’re a private investigator, and sometimes even unlicensed as in the case of Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins, and realize that the legal system is as corrupt as the organized crime it is fighting…and often in bed with.

(3) RAUM, THE FINAL FRONTIER. Cora Buhlert describes West German TV’s new (in 1966) space adventure show: “[September 24, 1966] Science Fiction TV from West Germany: Space Patrol: The Fantastic Adventures of the Spaceship Orion: Episode 1: Attack From Space” at Galactic Journey.

…The series has the unwieldy title Raumpatrouille – Die Phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffs Orion (Space Patrol – The Fantastic Adventures of the Spaceship Orion), which viewers have already shortened to Raumpatrouille Orion or just plain Orion.

Like the new US series Star TrekSpace Patrol Orion starts with an opening narration, courtesy of veteran actor Claus Biederstaedt, which promises us a fairy tale from the future. In the year 3000 AD, nation states have been abolished. Humanity has settled the ocean floor and colonised far-flung worlds. Starships, including the titular Orion, hurtle through space at unimaginable speeds.

An impressive title sequence and a spacy and very groovy theme tune follow, courtesy of Peter Thomas, who also supplies the music for the Edgar Wallace and Jerry Cotton movies….

(4) TANKS FOR THE MEMORIES. By George, Steve Davidson makes a good point: “Space Force Uniform Controversy” at Amazing Stories.

The Space Force, America’s latest (and completely unnecessary) military branch unveiled its proposed service uniform.

A lot of fans (and fan-adjacent television watchers) have remarked that the proposed dress uniform greatly resembles those created for the entirely fictional space navy depicted in Battlestar Galactica (the completely unnecessary re-boot, to be precise).

Yes, yes it does.  However, those more familiar with real military history would probably be more inclined to think that the new digs for Space Force look more like General George S. Patton’s tanker’s uniform that the general proposed between world wars one and two; about the only difference between uniforms then and uniforms now is Patton’s addition of a football helmet, while it is very unlikely that Space Force will adopt the recommended propeller beanie….

Comparative photos at the link.

(5) COVER SCORES. The public’s choices for best covers in the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition have been announced – and the outcome was a lot close than expected.

(6) JO WALTON KICKSTARTER. A funding appeal launched at Kickstarter aims to produce a Lifelode Audiobook by Jo Walton.

Lifelode is a Mythopoeic Award winning fantasy novel by Jo Walton that has never had an audiobook. Jack Larsen is a young man from New Zealand who has a wonderful voice for reading aloud and wants to become an audiobook reader. Together, they could be amazing…

Jo Walton writes:

The main point of this is to try to kickstart the audiobook reading career of young New Zealand fan Jack Larsen, whose wonderful reading voice has been a mainstay of the Scintillation community through the pandemic.

They will have Jack read the book in a professional studio and have it professionally edited (which is the part which costs all the money) and then sell it where all good audiobooks are sold. 

At the Kickstarter site you can listen to Jack read the first chapter — click on the video there (which is just audio). Bear in mind, Jack did this demo on his phone.

As of today’s writing the appeal has raised $2,457 of its $7,891 goal.

(7) FOUNDATION LAYS ITS CORNERSTONE. Camestros Felapton supplies detailed comments about the beginning of the new series: “Review: Foundation Episode 1 (Apple TV)”.

2021 for all its faults, is offering fans of classic science fiction two (potential) treats: a new movie version of Dune and a TV adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. It’s interesting that of these two highly influential stories that with first you can make a good guess about what specific scenes will appear and in the second I’ve no idea what we will be getting….

Warning, it’s spoilers all the way down from there.

(8) PARTS IS PARTS. In contrast, Rolling Stone’s Alan Sepinwall isn’t a believer. “New Formula for ‘Foundation’ Doesn’t Add Up”.

…Like psycho-history itself, all of these changes make sense in theory. But none of them quite accomplish what the show’s creative team needs them to. This Foundation is, like the clones’ palace on the capitol planet of Trantor, stunning to look at(*) but ultimately cold and sterile. Despite the cast and crew’s best efforts — and what appears to be an unlimited budget, even by Apple’s lavish standards — this Foundation remains an assemblage of concepts in search of a compelling TV show….

(9) LANGDON JONES (1942-2021). Author, editor and musician Langdon Jones, whose short fiction primarily appeared in New Worlds, beginning with “Storm Water Tunnel” in 1964, has died, Michael Moorcock reported on Facebook.

One of my closest, longest and best friendships was with Lang Jones, a talented composer, editor and writer, one of the most modest people I have ever known, with the sweetest nature of almost any human being I’ve met. He was Assistant Editor of New Worlds. He restored Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake to the edition you probably read and wrote the music for The Rhyme of the Flying Bomb.  You can hear his lively piano on The Entropy Tango.  His own collection of stories The Great Clock, remains his only published fiction.  I last saw him about two years ago, at the wonderful wedding of his daughter Isobel to Jason Nickolds, for whom he was extremely happy, and he said he had stopped writing and composing and had never felt better.  He leaves a son, Damon, as well as his daughter.  One of the few people of whom it’s possible to write: Loved by all.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1964 – Fifty-seven years ago, Mary Poppins had its New York City premiere. (Yes, it’s genre as a flying nanny is surely within our realm.) It was directed by Robert Stevenson from the screenplay by Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi as based off P. L. Travers’s Mary Poppins series. It was produced by Walt Disney and starred Julie Andrews in her first screen acting role. Principal other cast were Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson and Glynis Johns. The film was shot entirely at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, using painted London background scenes.  

It won’t surprise you that the film received universal acclaim from film critics, and that Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke got lavish praise. Box office wise, it earned some forty five million dollars on an estimated budget of four or so million dollars (Disney never released the budget officially) and it’s had at least another hundred million in box office rentals as well since then.

Audience reviewers currently at Rotten Tomatoes give it an excellent eighty-eight percent rating. A sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, was recently released and it too rates high among audience reviewers currently at Rotten Tomatoes with a sixty five percent rating. Dick Van Dyke has a new role in it. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 24, 1922 — Bert Gordon, 99. Film director most remembered for such SF and horror films as The Amazing Colossal ManVillage of the Giants and The Food of the Gods (based of course on the H.G. Wells’ novel The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth).  His nickname “Mister B.I.G.” was a reference both to his initials and to his preference for directing movies featuring super-sized creatures. 
  • Born September 24, 1934 — John Brunner. My favorite works by him? The Shockwave RiderStand on Zanzibar which won a Hugo at St. Louiscon and The Sheep Look Up. I’m also fond of The Squares of The City which was nominated for a Hugo at Tricon. That was easy. What’s your favorite works by him? (Died 1995.)
  • Born September 24, 1936 — Jim Henson. As much as I love The Muppet Show, and I’ve watched every show at least twice, I think The Storyteller is his best work. That’s not to overlook Labyrinth, The Witches and The Dark Crystal and the first two Muppets films which are also excellent. Warning note: the three newest takes done on The Muppets suck beyond belief. Disney should be ashamed. (Died 1990.)
  • Born September 24, 1945 — David Drake, 76. Writer with his best-known solo work being the Hammer’s Slammers series of military science fiction which are space operas inspired by the Aubrey–Maturin novels. He has also drafted story ideas that were then finished off by co-authors such as Karl Edward Wagner, S.M. Stirling, and Eric Flint. He’s very, very well stocked at the usual suspects. 
  • Born September 24, 1945 — Ian Stewart, 76. Mathematician and  writer. He makes the Birthday Honors for the four volumes in The Science of Discworld series he wrote with Jack Cohen and Terry Pratchett. It was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000. Each of the books alternates between the usually absurd Discworld story and serious scientific exposition. (All four volumes are available from the usual suspects.) He would write a number of genre novels, none of which I’m familiar with. Anybody here read his works? 
  • Born September 24, 1951 — David Banks, 70. During the Eighties, he was the Cyberleader on Doctor Who in all the stories featuring the Cybermen — Earthshock (Fifth Doctor story), The Five DoctorsAttack of the Cybermen (Sixth Doctor story), and Silver Nemesis (Seventh Doctor story). In 1989, he played the part of Karl the Mercenary in the Doctor Who: The Ultimate Adventure stage play. There were two performances where he appeared as The Doctor as he replaced Jon Pertwee who had fallen ill.
  • Born September 24, 1957 — Brad Bird, 64. Animator, director, screenwriter, producer, and occasionally even a voice actor whom I’m going to praise for directing The Iron Giant (nominated for a Hugo at Chicon 2000), The Incredibles (winner of Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form at Interaction), Incredibles 2 and Tomorrowland. He’s the voice of Edna Mode in both the Incredibles films. 
  • Born September 24, 1965 — Richard K. Morgan, 56. The Takeshi Kovacs novels are an awesome series  which are why I haven’t watched the Netflix series. His fantasy series, A Land Fit For Heroes, is on my TBR, well my To Be Listened To pile now. And yes I read Thin Air, the sequel first and it’s quite excellent. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

A meeting with the shrink is the subject of today’s Wulffmorgenthaler-239 at Politiken. Lise Andreasen supplies the translation from Danish:

So … You left him, you killed his aunt and uncle, you blew up his sister’s planet, you chopped his hand off … and NOW you want him to consider you a father figure and join you “on the dark side”. How do you think Luke feels about it?

(13) TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES. Or both… Shat might be on his way to space after all these years — “Beam me up? TMZ says William Shatner will take Blue Origin suborbital space trip”.

The next crewed suborbital spaceflight planned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture — which could launch as early as next month — is due to carry Star Trek captain William Shatner, according to the TMZ celebrity news site.

If the report based on unnamed sources is true, that would make Shatner the oldest person to fly in space at the age of 90, besting the record set by 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk during the first crewed flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital spacecraft in July….

(14) THE WARMED-UP EQUATIONS. “’Astronauts check our scripts!’: inside the new age of sumptuous sci-fi TV”. The Guardian tells how we got here.

…The current renaissance can be traced to Moore’s groundbreaking 2004 reimagining of hokey 70s space odyssey Battlestar Galactica. Updating the premise for a post-9/11 TV landscape, he turned a niche sci-fi story into mainstream watercooler TV. “Whether you liked sci-fi or not, you found yourself binging all these seasons,” says Ben Nedivi, one of Moore’s co-creators on For All Mankind. 

While Star Trek, too, is thriving in the current sci-fi landscape, with no less than five series currently in production, it seems unlikely to cross the final frontier into the halls of prestige sci-fi. For Nunn, this comes down to one thing: aliens. 

While the golden age shows of the 90s relied heavily on prosthetics – and, in the case of Farscape, puppets – to present characters from other worlds, today’s sombre offerings dwell solely on human problems. “With Battlestar Galactica, you’ve got robots, but you haven’t got aliens,” Nunn points out. “And The Expanse is similar. So they can be read as science fiction but also dystopias, whereas Star Trek and Babylon 5 and Farscape, even Stargate, all had alien life-forms at their core.”…

… For Shankar, a great strength of The Expanse is that it uses space as more than just a backdrop. “This is a show that turns space into a character,” he says. With a PhD in applied physics, he served as Next Generation’s official science adviser. “On Star Trek it was really about maintaining continuity with the fake science, making sure you used the phasers when you were supposed to, and not the photon torpedoes,” he says. “The technical manual [for the Enterprise] was quite detailed, but it wasn’t real. In The Expanse we use real physics to create drama. There’s a sequence in the first season where the ships are turning their engines on and off so you’re shifting from having weight to weightlessness. Two characters suddenly lose gravity and can’t get back to where they need to be, and the solution is conservation of momentum.”

This absolute commitment to accuracy is shared by the team behind For All Mankind. “We have an astronaut who reads our scripts,” explains co-creator Matt Wolpert. “He’ll tell us when we come up with ideas that are against the laws of physics.”…

(15) TED TALK. Ted White has two books out – one fiction, one non-…. Both were designed by John D. Berry, and published with the assistance of Michal Dobson’s Dobson Books. White is former editor of Amazing® and Heavy Metal® magazines and a past Best Fan Writer Hugo winner.

He’d been set up. Someone (and “independent consultant” Ray Phoenix was pretty sure who) had filed a phony stolen car report. When a freak bus accident allows him to escape into the woods, Ray lands in an entirely new world of trouble – small-town cocaine dealing, counterfeit money, and a web of strange and violent relationships that will take all of Ray’s considerable skills to unravel.

In 1986, legendary science fiction writer and editor Ted White went to jail for possession and sale of marijuana. A prolific correspondent, Ted kept up a steady stream of letters during his confinement that vividly and powerfully detail everyday life behind bars, from relationships with other prisoners and guards to living in cells and common rooms – not to mention the fine jailhouse cuisine. (Seriously, don’t mention it.) Ted White’s letters make you feel like you’re really in jail…and really glad you’re not.

(16) DISCONTENT. [Item by David Doering.] I caught this piece on TechDirt today. It appears that Sony’s art department enjoyed this fan artist’s rendering of She-Venom so much they included it in their official poster. Too bad they didn’t acknowledge that or offer to pay for it.  I certainly see more than just coincidence here. Even if Sony/others have the rights to the character, the similarities are too striking to not say the Sony version owes something to the fan artist. The comments debate both sides. “Sony Pictures, Defenders Of The Creative Industry, Appears To Be Using Fan Art Without Giving Credit”

… You can say the images don’t match up precisely if you like, but they’re certainly very damned close. As mentioned about similar past cases, this likely isn’t a copyright infringement issue; the fan artist doesn’t own any rights to the character he drew. But, again, if the copyright industries are going to do their maximalist routine under the guise of protecting those that create content, well, fan art is content…. 

(17) EVADING THE SURVEILLANCE SOCIETY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] BBC Radio 4’s The Digital Human episode “Faceless” notes that it’s becoming harder to hide from facial recognition technology and asks what does this means for people who protest against political systems … So we are SF fans and know all about Orwell’s 1984, William Gibson’s novels etc.  Or do we?  It looks like things are getting worse, but there are ways to fight back…. Digital Human looks at the issues with examples from a non-political English teacher becoming a wanted terrorist on the run in 12 days, to counter-measures.

Johnathan Hirshon works in PR and marketing and describes himself as ‘The Faceless man’ because he’s managed to keep his face off the internet for over twenty years. This may seem extreme but Neda Soltani explains how one online photo of her face, meant she had to leave her family, country and profession. Artist and curator, Bogomir Doringer whose archived and curated thousands of faceless images off the internet talks about how technology is not only choreographing the way we use our faces but persuading us to hand over our biometric data with our use of apps that change the way we look. .

Artist Zach Blas is interested in queer culture and has created masks using biometric data from minority groups, to push back on the possibility of people being categorised by biometrics. Zach uses masks to show that facial recognition technology can be disrupted. Stephen has been trying to do just that. Stephen is from Hong Kong and spent the summer protesting against the Extradition bill. He and his fellow protesters wore masks to evade identification from the police and Hong Kong’s smart lamp posts. The remit of the protest grew when the wearing of masks by protesters was banned. Stephen believes that by using facial recognition technology on the streets of Hong Kong the authorities in Hong Kong and China are creating a sense of ‘white terror’. Stephen is now protesting in the UK but still feels this ‘white terror’. While protesting people from mainland China have been taking photos of him and other protesters. He knows that photos can go global and by using facial recognition tech he could be easily identified. Is it becoming impossible to escape recognition even when we would like to hide?

(18) HE BLABBED. Tom Hiddleston tells Loki stories: Untold: Tom Hiddleston.

(19) AN ADVENTURE WITH COMPANIONS. Yes! Another excuse to watch David Tennant! “Around the World in 80 Days” will air on PBS.

David Tennant stars as literature’s greatest explorer Phileas Fogg in a thrilling new adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic adventure novel coming to MASTERPIECE on PBS. (Air date to be announced.)

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Lise Andreasen, David Doering, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 8/11/21 Only Trust Your Scrolls, Pixels Will Never Help You

(1) F&SF COVER REVEAL. The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’s Sept/Oct 2021 cover art, “Jupiter in Half-Phase, Seen from Io,” is by David A. Hardy.

(2) THE RACCOON AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION. Brandiose is a successful creator of logos for minor league sports teams, notably Huntsville’s Rocket City Trash Pandas.

The name Trash Pandas perfectly embodies the dichotomy of the region. A place with a contemporary, optimistic, fresh energy that retains its country flavor.

We wanted to present the Trash Panda racoon as the clever, intelligent creature that it is. It was important to show that this character was less of a “banjos on the porch” type figure and more of a “this guy engineered a rocket ship out of NASA’s trash” kind of critter. 

We loved the idea that the raccoons have their own rocket engineering facility in the woods, next door to their human engineering counterparts. In their dwelling, the raccoons use the human’s discarded rocket junk to construct their own version of NASA (or RASA – Raccoon Aeronautics and Space Administration).

See more examples of their work and read the stories behind them at the link. The New York Times also ran an article about them: “Sod Poodles, Yard Goats and Trash Pandas, Oh My”.

(3) WHAT-IF ORIGINS. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Having been reading long enough to (vaguely) remember the first what-if/imaginary tales (as in, not part of continuity and/or canon), like Superman asking his Fortress of Solitude’s superdupercomputer “what if Krypton hadn’t exploded,” etc… and, Bog knows why, taking those visualizations as, ahem, gospel, versus, “yeah, coulda gone that way”, ult(cough)imately leading to (some of) these stories becoming canonized parallelisms (I’m talking about you, Marvel Ultimate)… and (while I also fault DC in many cases) I’m not moved/interested by/in many of Marvel’s What If’s, well, there’s one particular issue that remains dear to my heart — What If #11, What If The Original Marvel Bullpen Had Become The Fantastic Four?, written and penciled by Jack Kirby!

“[What if] four members of the original Marvel Bullpen were turned into real-life versions of the Fantastic Four: Stan Lee as Mister Fantastic, Sol Brodsky as the Human Torch, Jack Kirby as the Thing, and Flo Steinberg as the Invisible Girl.”

I’ve still got my copy in one of my “do not sell” boxes.

This is (also) among my favorites of “real world people guesting/in comic stories” (I’m also fond of Don Rickles’ appearances in Kirby’s first New Gods stories/plotlines in Jimmy Olsen; ditto Saturday Night Live’s Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time-Players teaming up with Spiderman in Marvel Team-Up #74.) (No, I don’t remember/know the deets, I’m looking ’em up as I go.) (And then there was the Groucho Marx-y character in a Howard the Duck annual…)

Filers can read and enjoy this Kirby masterpiece! It’s on Marvel’s streaming comic service… also in collected-in-book form, in What If? Classic: The Complete Collection Vol. 1 available from bookstores, (free from) libraries and e-free (on HooplaDigital.com ). And perhaps from a nearby friend.

(4) THE NEXT GREAT SFF AWARD. I commented on Camestros Felapton’s blog about the almost nonexistent window between when the Dragon Award ballot is released and the close of voting, and how many novels are finalists, making the award ultimately for the most popular book nobody has read or plans to read before they vote.

Greg Hullender found in that the seed of a great idea:

Hey, that’s a category we’re sorely lacking: most popular unread book. “Looking through your mountain of unread books, which one do you feel most guilty for not having read yet?”

It could have several categories:

Most Popular Unread Book That I Think is SF.

Most Popular Unread Book That I Think is Fantasy.

Most Popular Unread Book That I Suspect Might Not Be Genre.

Most Popular Unread Book That I Bought Mostly for the Cover.

Most Popular Unread Book That I Can’t Remember Why I Bought It.

What would be a good name for these awards? The Tsundoku Awards is too obvious a name. But obviously the prize for winning in a category should be a new book.

(5) AC/DC. “Robin, Batman’s Sidekick, Comes Out As Bisexual” – here’s a transcript of NPR’s discussion on Morning Edition.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, HOST:

After 80 years, Batman’s trusted sidekick finally had his coming-out moment. In the latest comic, Robin – his real name is Tim Drake – accepts a male friend’s offer to go on a date. Many fans of the character have been looking forward to this.

MEGHAN FITZMARTIN: Tim’s struggle with identity – he knows who he is when it comes to vigilantism. But this was a space where it felt the most correct. This was the next moment for him.

NOEL KING, HOST:

That’s Meghan Fitzmartin. She’s the writer for this series of DC Comics.

FITZMARTIN: The significance, I think, has been others seeing themselves in the character and feeling seen and cared for in a way that speaks to something that they’ve seen for a long time.

KING: Robin made his first appearance back in 1940. And he’s not the first comic book superhero to come out as queer, but he is by far the most high-profile one.

GLEN WELDON, BYLINE: People like Northstar, Batwoman, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Iceman, Apollo, Midnighter. But you notice something about all those names. They’re not necessarily household names….

(6) YOUR TAX QUATLOOS AT WORK. James Davis Nicoll probably didn’t have an easy time finding “Five Sympathetic Science Fiction Bureaucrats”.

Fictional bureaucrats often serve as convenient hate sinks, providing the author with characters whose occupation is generally considered fair game for scorn. Obstructive bureaucrats abound in fiction, perhaps because they are not infrequently encountered in real life. But not all writers settle for such easy targets. Indeed, some writers have gone so far as to make a bureaucrat or two into sympathetic figures.

Don’t believe me? Consider these five….

Aiah from Metropolitan by Walter Jon Williams (1995)

Aiah is a low-level functionary in Jaspeer’s Plasm Authority. Roughly speaking, she works for this world’s electric company, plasm being geomantic energy. Hardly a position to command respect, save when one considers that Aiah is a member of a despised ethnicity, the Barkazil. Convincing her coworkers to trust her with even minimal responsibility is a victory of sorts.

Fate hands Aiah a treasure in plasm. In another person’s hands, this would be the first step towards the sort of Simple Plan that ends with the protagonists as dead as a Coen Brothers’ criminal. Aiah, however, is not just hardworking and ambitious. She is cunning as well, which means not only will she leap on the chance to escape her circumstances, and not only can she find someone willing to assist her with her windfall—she has every chance of surviving the transaction.

(7) CONDENSED CREAM OF MFA. Lincoln Michel puts “Everything I’ve Learned about Being a ‘Professional’ Writer in One Post” at Counter Craft.

Last week there was a bizarrely contentious Twitter debate about whether MFA programs should offer professional advice to students or whether it should be a sacred space for art without the messiness of business. I won’t wade into all the threads, but I’m firmly on the side of publishing demystification. I always dedicate part of my MFA courses to answering student questions about submissions, agents, etc. Perhaps this is because I had to figure all of this out myself while so many writers around me seemed to have been passed all this knowledge in secret. I don’t mean that I’m not privileged, but just I didn’t have any family publishing connections or professional mentors or even know any authors growing up. I wish I’d gotten more of a professional education, from banal things like freelance taxes to general advice like how willing you have to be to promote your own work—did you know I have a SF novel called The Body Scout publishing on 09/21 that you can preorder today???—and so I figured I’d just write down everything I’ve learned here in the hope it helps someone else….

(8) MEMORY LANE.

  • 2010 – Eleven years ago at Aussiecon 4 where Garth Nix was the Toastmaster, China Miéville won the Hugo for Best Novel for The City & The City. It shared this honor with The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi.  It was published by Del Rey / Ballantine in hardcover the previous year. Other nominated works that year were Cherie Priest‘s Boneshaker, Robert J. Sawyer‘s Wake, Robert Charles Wilson‘s Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America and Catherynne M. Valente‘s Palimpsest. It would win an amazing number of other awards including the Arthur C. Clarke Award, a BSFA, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, a Kitschie (Red Tentacle) Award, a Locus for Best Fantasy Novel and a National Fantasy Fan Federation Speculative Fiction Award (Neffie). It would be nominated for, but not win, a Nebula. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 11, 1902 Jack Binder. Thrilling Wonder Stories in their October 1938 issue published his article, “If Science Reached the Earth’s Core”, where the first known use of the phrase “zero gravity” is known to happen.  In the early Forties, he was an artist for Fawcett, Lev Gleason, and Timely Comics.  During these years, he created the Golden Age character Daredevil which is not the Marvel Daredevil though he did work with Stan Lee where they co-created The Destroyer at Timely Comics. (Died 1986.)
  • Born August 11, 1932 Chester Anderson. New Wave novelist and poet. He wrote The Butterfly Kid, the first part of the Greenwich Village trilogy. It was nominated for a Hugo Award at Baycon. He wrote one other genre novel, Ten Years to Doomsday, with Michael Kurland. Not even genre adjacent, but he edited a few issues Crawdaddy! in the late Sixties. (Died 1991.)
  • Born August 11, 1959 Alan Rodgers. Author of Bone Music, a truly great take off the Robert Johnson myth. His “The Boy Who Came Back From the Dead” novelette won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction, and was nominated for a World Fantasy Award, and he was editor of Night Cry in the mid Eighties. Bone Music is the only work available from the usual suspects. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 11, 1961 Susan M. Garrett. She was a well known and much liked writer, editor and publisher in many fandoms, but especially the Forever Knight community. (She also was active in Doctor Who and The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne fandoms. And no, I had no idea that the latter had a fandom given its short longevity.) She is perhaps best known for being invited to write a Forever Knight tie-in novel, Intimations of Mortality. It, like the rest of the Forever Knight novels, is not available from the usual suspects. (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 11, 1962 Brian Azzarello, 59. Writer of the comic book 100 Bullets, published by Vertigo. Writer of DC’s relaunched Wonder Woman series several years back. One of the writers in the Before Watchmen limited series. Co-writer with Frank Miller of the sequel to The Dark Knight Returns, The Dark Knight III: The Master Race.
  • Born August 11, 1976 Will Friedle, 45. Largely known as an actor with extensive genre voice work: Terry McGinnis aka the new Batman in Batman Beyond which Warner Animation now calls Batman of the Future, Peter Quill in The Guardians Of The Galaxy, and Kid Flash in Teen Titans Go!  to name but a few of his roles.
  • Born August 11, 1964 Jim Lee, 57. Korean American comic-book artist, writer, editor, and publisher.  Co-founder of Image Comics, now senior management at DC though he started at Marvel. Known for work on Uncanny X-Men, Punisher, Batman, Superman WildC.A.T.s. and Before Watchman. Now Lee is the sole Publisher of DC Comics.
  • Born August 11, 1983 Chris Hemsworth, 38. Thor in the MCU film franchise and George Kirk in the most recent Trek film franchise. Other genre performances include Eric the Huntsman in the exemplary Snow White and the Huntsman and The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Curt Vaughan in Cabin in the Woods and Agent H in Men in Black: International. Ok who’s seen the latter? It’s on my bucket list. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) DOUBLE JEOPARDY! Deadline says this is how they’re dividing the baby: “’Jeopardy!’: Mike Richards To Host Syndicated Show, Mayim Bialik To Host Primetime Specials & Spinoffs”.

The search for new permanent host of Jeopardy! is officially over. The show’s executive producer Mike Richards has been named the new permanent host of the venerable syndicated game show, succeeding the late Alex Trebek. Additionally, Sony Pictures Television announced that The Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik will host Jeopardy!’s primetime and spinoff series, including the upcoming Jeopardy! National College Championship set to air on ABC next year. The Greatest of All Time winner Ken Jennings will return as consulting producer for the show…. 

(12) HI BROOKE! “I’m Brooke Gladstone and I Am a Trekker” from WYNC Studios – listen or read the transcript at the link.

In September 1966, Gene Roddenberry dispatched the crew of the Starship Enterprise on its maiden voyage through space and time and into the American living room. In a vintage OTM piece, Brooke explores the various television incarnations of the franchise and the infinitely powerful engine behind it all: the fan.

Brooke Gladstone: Editor’s log star date, August 11th, 2021. To mark what would have been the 100th birthday of Gene Roddenberry, the creator of one of my favorite shows, we are replaying a piece I made all the way back in 2006. I’m Brooke Gladstone. I am a Trekker.

William Shatner: Get a life, will you, people? For crying out loud, it’s just a TV show.

Brooke: When William Shatner said that on Saturday Night Live, though to be fair, he didn’t write it, it stung.

Barbara Adams: I think a lot of fans feel like they are not respected. They’re almost ashamed to admit they’re fans of Star Trek unless they hear two or three references to Star Trek in the conversation.

Brooke Gladstone: Not Barbara Adams, so moved was she by this series; optimistic, pluralistic vision of the future that when serving on the jury in the whitewater trial 10 years ago, she wore the uniform of a Starfleet officer. “If it helps to make people think a little more about what those ideals are, then I’ll keep wearing this uniform,” she said, and then was promptly dismissed for talking to the press….

(13) DJINN BUZZ. The Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron staff are joined by Patricia Jackson and Elias Eells to discuss A Master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark on Saturday, August 14 at 3:00 p.m. US Eastern Time. The streaming show is accessible via YouTube, Facebook Live, and Twitch.

(14) HEAR VALENTE. The Glasgow in 2024 Worldcon bid presents “The Present is Purple with Catherynne M. Valente” in conversation with Ed Fortune, August 24 at 7:00 p.m. BST. Register here.

About this event

Summer is slowly fading away but Glasgow in 2024 is not taking a break in bringing you amazing bookish events! Join us on August 24th for an exciting evening with the brilliant Catherynne M. Valente to talk about her brilliant new novella The Past is Red, out now from TorDotCom… Grab a copy and an iced drink and join us!

The future is blue. Endless blue…except for a few small places that float across the hot, drowned world left behind by long-gone fossil fuel-guzzlers. One of those patches is a magical place called Garbagetown…

(15) TRAILER OF DOOM. Doom Patrol Season 3 streams September 23 on HBO Max.

Go through the looking glass with a super-powered gang of outcasts (including Matt Bomer as Negative Man, Joivan Wade as Cyborg, Brendan Fraser as Robotman, and more). Last seen at a decrepit amusement park where Chief (Timothy Dalton) witnessed his metahuman daughter, Dorothy (Abigail Shapiro) engaged in a fiery face-off with “The Candlemaker,” an ancient evil deity who will stop at nothing to fulfill his world-ending destiny, join the #DoomPatrol for an action-packed third season.

(16) ANIMATED WITCHER. Face your demons. The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf premieres August 23 on Netflix.

(17) KITTY THE FREELOADER. Science has discovered “Cats prefer to get free meals rather than work for them” reports Phys.org. No shit!

When given the choice between a free meal and performing a task for a meal, cats would prefer the meal that doesn’t require much effort. While that might not come as a surprise to some cat lovers, it does to cat behaviorists. Most animals prefer to work for their food—a behavior called contrafreeloading.

… “There is an entire body of research that shows that most species including birds, rodents, wolves, primates—even giraffes—prefer to work for their food,” said lead author Mikel Delgado, a cat behaviorist and research affiliate at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “What’s surprising is out of all these species cats seem to be the only ones that showed no strong tendency to contrafreeload.”

(18) THEORY X GETS SPACED. Jacobin’s Meagan Day investigates a lost bit of space history in “Houston, We Have a Labor Dispute”.

For decades, rumors have circulated about a strike in space. The story goes that in 1973, the three astronauts on the Skylab 4 mission took an unplanned day off to protest ground control’s management style, and the job action resulted in improved working conditions. It’s a great story.

According to Skylab 4 crew member Ed Gibson, that’s not exactly what happened. But his telling of events, though it differs from the tidy and entertaining “space strike” narrative, is still a tale of overwork, micromanagement, and perceived noncompliance bringing management to the table. And Gibson’s account still confirms that even a whiff of collective action can shift the balance of power in workers’ favor.

Earlier this year, the BBC broadcast an interview with Gibson, the last surviving Skylab 4 crew member, conducted by Witness History producer and presenter Lucy Burns. “We’ve only had one reporter other than you talk to us in the past forty-seven years,” Gibson told Burns. He set out to correct the record.

Gibson maintains that the crew didn’t mean to go on strike. But what did happen had a similar effect in terms of giving the astronauts leverage and intervening in a bad (extraterrestrial) workplace dynamic.

(19) HOME COOKING. Stephen Colbert’s monologue had more to say about that Field of Dreams Apple Pie Hot Dog beginning around 8 minutes into this YouTube video. Includes info about how to make it at home from creator Guy Fieri.

(20) READERS DIGESTION. Dark Horse Direct is taking pre-orders of these Dune: Sandworm Bookends based on how the creatures appear in the forthcoming movie. Cost  $149.99, only 2,000 will be sold.

Dark Horse Direct, in partnership with Legendary Entertainment, is proud to present the Dune: Sandworm Bookends! Based on the giant sandworms from the highly anticipated new film of the iconic science fiction epic, Dune, these bookends will have you watching your walking pattern over the sands of Arrakis.

Each half measuring 8.5” tall by 8” wide by 6.5” deep, this highly detailed bookend set is meticulously sculpted and hand painted to showcase the fearsome sandworm as it erupts out of the sands, ready to defend its territory and the most precious resource in existence.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Professional Movie Fan Tutorial:  Pro Tips” on Screen Rant, written by Ryan George, Dave Heuff plays professional super movie fan “Fredge” Buick, who explains that a professional movie fan has to be perpetually angry! (his avatar is Heath Ledger’s Joker), have questionable hygiene, and use a lot of duct tape to sneak the noisy snacks you want inside the theatre.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Richard Horton, Todd Mason, John A Arkansawyer, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jake.]

Pixel Scroll 6/21/21 Unfifthgettable

(1) FIVE GODS AT 4TH STREET. “Choosing What Matters: Concepts of Heroism in The Curse of Chalion” is a video of this weekend’s 4th Street Fantasy virtual panel about the Lois McMaster Bujold novel.

In The Curse of Chalion by Minneapolis-based writer Lois McMaster Bujold, the gods set many unknowing people on the path to save the world, but only Cazaril stays the course and arrives able to do what’s needed. It isn’t extraordinary ability required of him, but extraordinary commitment to compassion: his training takes the shape of moments of unfailingly, continually choosing compassion as those acts build in scale of difficulty and significance. For the 20th anniversary of The Curse of Chalion’s publication, let’s discuss how Bujold pulls this off. How does she make this journey of disparate moments that are not “action-packed” so compelling, and why does this model of heroism in fantasy matter? Panelists: Stella Evans, Max Gladstone,  Marissa Lingen, Paul Weimer, and Patricia C Wrede.

(2) THE IOWA WAY. [Item by Michael J. Lowrey.]  ICON, Iowa’s oldest SF/F con, has announced that ICON 46 will be held in person from October 15-17, 2021. The GoHs are: Eric Flint, author; Jeff Lee Johnson, artist; Beth Hudson, fan; Joe and Gay Haldeman, ICON founders; Jim C. Hines, toastmaster.

They advise people to get hotel reservations early, as the University of Iowa moved a home football game in nearby Iowa City onto the con weekend after the ICON contractual arrangements were made.

(3) CROWN OF THEIR CAREERS. Two genre TV icons, Gillian Anderson and Elisabeth Moss, interview each other for Variety“Elisabeth Moss & Gillian Anderson on The Handmaid’s Tale and The Crown”.

Moss: Was there something that you found in her [Margaret Thatcher’s] story that was untold?

Anderson: My partner, Peter Morgan [“The Crown” creator], had expressed that we had some similarities, just in terms of our work ethic; I’m quite a perfectionist. I really didn’t know her until I had started to do the research, and she’s such a divisive character — over here specifically. It wasn’t until I dove into her that I kind of understood why it made sense that I might play her. It was almost like an alchemic thing.

Moss: People ask, “What makes you choose a certain character?” And I always have a lot of trouble answering, because I don’t know what it is. It’s just a feeling of there’s something about that person that either I know or I want to get to know — like you said, it’s an alchemy.

Anderson: Having done a couple of long-running series in my life, you’ve done four seasons now of “Handmaid’s,” and I know from watching interviews of yours that is something that you still clearly love and embrace — and have also added directing. Tell me the challenges and the delights for you of being four years into something.

Moss: I’m curious if you like the same thing about it, but I feel like you get something from doing a long-running show that you don’t really get anywhere else except maybe theater, but you’re telling the same story every night. Like on “Mad Men,” that was nine years of my life — 23 to 32.

Anderson: That’s exactly what it was for me on “X-Files.” Moss: Is that right?

Anderson: Yeah, that’s just so interesting.

Moss: You grow up during that time; you become an adult during that time. And so it feels like this merging of life and work. And the way that you get to develop a character over seven seasons, or however many seasons it is, is like nothing else. There are certain characters I played in film that I would love to play again, and I would love to explore more — but you only get to do it in TV. There are things that you can do in Season 4 that you can’t do in Season 1. And to get that opportunity of 92 episodes, it’s like an acting exercise. Television is my first love, weirdly. I know for most people it’s either theater or film, but television is where I grew up….

(4) SOUL FOOD. Lincoln Michel talks about Michael Moorcock’s “How to write a novel in three days” process: “Strange Methods: Michael Moorcock’s 3-Day Novel” at Counter Craft.

… Along these lines, I thought I’d try a little series called “strange methods” where I look at some unusual story-writing ideas, and see what techniques can be stolen. First up is a process I think about a lot: Michael Moorcock’s guide to writing a novel in three days.

Michael Moorcock, if you don’t know, is a British novelist who is probably most famous for his Elric of Melinbone fantasy novels which are kind of like Conan the Barbarian reimagined as a philosophical (and somewhat emo) goth with a sword that ate souls. However, Moorcock has written a truly crazy number of books in different genres and modes and often published several books a year at his most productive. How did he do it? Well, enter the three day method….

(5) RESTORATION. The Samir Mansour Bookshop, once the largest bookshop in Gaza, which was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike and is now receiving donations to support the shop and help them rebuild – The Guardian has the story — “Donations flood in to restore Gaza bookshop destroyed by Israeli airstrikes”.

Donations of money and books from around the world have flooded in to help rebuild one of Gaza’s largest booksellers, the two-storey Samir Mansour bookshop, which was destroyed by Israeli air strikes in May.

Founded 21 years ago by Palestinian Mansour, the shop was a much-loved part of the local community and contained tens of thousands of books in various languages covering everything from philosophy and art history to fiction and children’s books. It was reduced to rubble on 18 May, during the 11-day conflict that killed more than 250 people in Gaza and 13 in Israel.

Now a fundraiser managed by human rights lawyers Mahvish Rukhsana and Clive Stafford Smith has raised more than $200,000 (£141,000) to help rebuild the shop, while tens of thousands of donated books have been sent from all over the world to help Mansour restock.

…Rukhsana said they are aiming to replace all of Mansour’s 100,000 books and rebuild his bookshop. They also aim to help him establish a new project: the Gaza Cultural Centre, which would be a new library next door, from which readers could borrow books without paying….

(6) FUNDRAISER. The FIYAHCON staff, Best Related Work Hugo finalists, is seeking contributions to “Help Get FIYAHCON to DisCon III”.  At this moment they’ve raised $1,125 of their $8,000 goal.

Every year, the Hugo Awards are hosted by Worldcons which take place in a different city somewhere in the world (weirdly often in the U.S. for a “world” anything, but that’s another post entirely.) This year, the ceremony takes place in December in Washington, D.C. Worldcons—despite what we are sure have become best efforts—are not set up to accommodate team-based honorees such as the full staff of a literary magazine or, in our case, a convention. This leads to the occasional horror show where names are left off of ballots and team members are left out of parties beholden to capacity restrictions. (Look, we get it.)

We’d like to forego the madness and fatigue of events passed where we bemoan the State of Things yet again. We created an entire convention to address those issues.  Instead, we’d like to arrange our own mini-meetup to celebrate our nomination with some of our team in person at DisCon III. And we don’t want to take from the convention budget to do it.

We’re seeking to cover travel and lodging expenses for some of our team members to attend the convention in person Dec 15-19, as well as covering the attendance fees for our interested team members who will only be able to attend virtually. Combined, that’s about 15 people. To address the capacity issue of the pre-award party, we’d also like to host our own dinner over the course of the weekend so that we have a formal means of celebrating the work we’ve done together, whether we win the award or not.

(7) JOANNE LINVILLE (1928-2021). She passed away June 20, having gained genre fame in two well-known sff TV series. SYFY Wire pays tribute:

Joanne Linville, an actor whose career included a pair of memorable appearances in early sci-fi TV classics, has passed away at the age of 93, via Deadline. In addition to playing the central character in a haunting episode of The Twilight Zone, Linville also carved out a place in Star Trek history by appearing in the original TV series’ third season as a Romulan commander who falls romantically for Spock….

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • June 21, 1991 — On this date in 1991, The Rocketeer premiered. It was produced by Charles Gordon, Lawrence Gordon, and Lloyd Levin, and was directed by Joe Johnston. It starred Bill Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Alan Arkin, Timothy Dalton, Paul Sorvino, and Tiny Ron Taylor. The 1991 film was based upon the character of the same name created by comic book artist and writer Dave Stevens. It would be nominated for a Hugo at MagiCon which be the year that Terminator 2: Judgement Day would win that category. Critics in general really loved it but it did very poorly at the Box Office. It holds a rather excellent sixty-five percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 21, 1938 — Ron Ely, 83. Doc Savage in Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze. He was also, fittingly enough, Tarzan in that NBC late-Sixties series. Somewhere Philip Jose Farmer is linking the two characters…  Other notable genre roles included being a retired Superman from an alternate reality in a two-part episode “The Road to Hell” of the Superboy series, and playing five different characters on the original Fantasy Island which may or may not be a record.
  • Born June 21, 1940 — Mariette Hartley, 81. She’s remembered by us for the classic Trek episode “All Our Yesterdays”, though, as OGH noted in an earlier Scroll,  probably best known to the public for her Polaroid commercials with James Garner. She also had a role as psychologist Dr. Carolyn Fields in “Married”, an episode of The Incredible Hulk. 
  • Born June 21, 1947 — Michael Gross, 74. OK, I’ll admit that I’ve a fondness for the Tremors franchise in which he plays the extremely well-armed and very paranoid graboid hunter Burt Gummer. Other than the Tremors franchise, he hasn’t done a lot of genre work as I see just an episode of The Outer Limits where he was Professor Stan Hurst in “Inconstant Moon” (based on the Niven story I assume) and voicing a few Batman Beyond and Batman: The Animated Series characters.
  • Born June 21, 1957 — Berkeley Breathed, 64. ISFDB on the basis of a chapbook called Mars Needs Moms is willing to include him as genre but I’d argue that Bloom County which includes a talking penguin is genre as they are fantastic creatures. And he contributed three cartoons to the ConFederation program book.
  • Born June 21, 1964 — David Morrissey, 57. His most well-known role is playing The Governor on The Walking Dead. I saw his brilliant performence as Jackson Lake, the man who believed he was The Doctor in “The Next Doctor”, a Tenth Doctor adventure which was an amazing story. He was also Theseus in The Storyteller: Greek Myths, and played Tyador Borlú in the BBC adaption of China Mieville’s The City & The City. I’ll admit that I’m very ambivalent about seeing it as I’ve listened the novel at least a half dozen times and have my own mental image of what it should be. He has also shows up in Good Omens as Captain Vincent.
  • Born June 21, 1965 — Steve Niles, 56. Writer best-known for works such as 30 Days of NightCriminal Macabre, Simon Dark and Batman: Gotham County Line. I’ve read his Criminal Macabre: The Complete Cal McDonald Stories and the graphic novel — great bit of horror! Sam Raimi adapted 30 Days of Night into a film. 
  • Born June 21, 1969 — Christa Faust, 52. It does not appear that she’s written any original fiction save one novel with Poppy Z. Brite called Triads but she’s certainly had a lot of media tie-in work including novels set in the Final DestinationFriday the ThirteenthFringeGabriel HuntNightmare on Elm StreetSupernatural and Twilight Zone universes. Did you know there’s an entire ecology of novels, fan fiction, a game, comics, even an encyclopedia guide, September’s Notebook — The Bishop Paradox made around Fringe? I hadn’t until I was researching her. One of the perks of doing this. 
  • Born June 21, 1979 — Chris Pratt, 42. Star-Lord in the MCU film franchise, principally the Guardians of The Galaxy films. His first genre role was voicing Jake in the “Attack of the Terrible Trio” episode of The Batman series. After that, he’s largely confined himself to the MCU with the exception of being Owen Grady in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. 

(10) WILL UK LOSE A CENTURY OF CINEMA HISTORY? The Guardian shares photos of 11 historical cinemas in the UK at risk due to pandemic closures.Cora Buhlert, who sent the link, says “I’ve actually been at the Electric Cinema in Birmingham.” – “Crippled by Covid: the vintage British cinemas under threat – in pictures”.

(11) GOOGLE SLOW GLASS. Slashdot has a report about “The Relatives Frozen in Time on Google Street View”.

Social-media users are sharing Google Street View images featuring friends and relatives who have since died. It was sparked by a post on the Twitter account Fesshole, which asks followers to submit anonymous confessions — many of which are explicit. The original poster said they had searched the map platform for images taken before their father had died. Launched in the US in 2007, Google Street View has since rolled out worldwide. The BBC’s Neil Henderson shared an image of his late father at his front door. “I have literally hundreds of pics of my dad but the Google Street View is quite affecting, like he’s still around,” he wrote. Another tweeter showed an image of a couple holding hands in the street – his parents, he said, who had died several years ago….

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Pirates of the Caribbean:  Dead Men Tell No Tales Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, the writer explains there’s no point in having a pitch meeting for the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie, because like the other four the film will have “Jack Sparrow, an antagonist with an undead crew, a young couple falling in love,” and “some vaguely magical and nautical things” so who cares about the plot?  But this time we learn why Jack Sparrow wears hair beads!

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