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

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

Credit for Hugo Awards Finalists (Translators and Colorists)

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

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

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

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

Hugo Awards Ceremony

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(8) MEMORY LANE.

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

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

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

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

Here’s my chosen quote. 

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

And it’s trés cool, as Frenchy’d say.

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

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

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

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

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • From Tom Gauld.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pixel Scroll 12/10/22 Pixel Was A Scrollin’ Stone

(1) LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] After a long drought, we get our second and third in the space of two days!

LL95 match day 22 Q3: What 1898 novel, famous in its own right, is also famous for its presentation in the October 30, 1938 installment of the CBS radio series “Mercury Theater on the Air”?

Filers no doubt will readily identify this as The War of the Worlds, and LLamas knew it too, with an 83% get rate.

Same match day, question 5: “SDCIWC” is an initialism common to many players of the roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons. Per the game’s original 1974 rules, the first four letters stand for Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Intelligence. What do either of the final two letters stand for?

This was Wisdom or Charisma. Get rate was 65%, with 6% of players giving the most common wrong answer “Courage”.

(2) FTC HANGS UP ON CALL OF DUTY. “F.T.C. Sues to Block Microsoft’s $69 Billion Acquisition of Activision” – the New York Times covers the government’s grounds for a suit.

The Federal Trade Commission, in one of the most aggressive actions taken by federal regulators in decades to check the power of the tech industry’s giants, on Thursday sued to block Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of the video game maker Activision Blizzard.

The F.T.C. said that the deal would harm consumers because Microsoft could use Activision’s blockbuster games like Call of Duty to lure gamers from rivals. The agency’s commissioners voted 3to 1 to approve filing the suit.

The decision is a blow to the expansion of Microsoft’s video game business, which has become its most important consumer unit and topped $16 billion in annual sales during the most recent fiscal year. For the F.T.C. chair, Lina Khan, a legal scholar who rocketed to fame after she wrote an article criticizing Amazon, the lawsuit will test whether her aggressive plan to rein in the power of Big Tech can survive in the courts….

(3) YOUNG WOLVES. Wolf Pack, the newest release by Edo van Belkom, is the inspiration behind a new TV series coming to Paramount+ on January 26, 2023.

Nothing gets between a wolf and its pack…

Most of the time, Noble, Argus, Harlan and Tora are like any other teenagers. Prowling the halls of their high school in search of new crushes and true friendships, all while trying to keep up their grades. Except these teens are anything but ordinary…

Discovered as wolf cubs in the wilderness of Redstone Forest, the pack knows their adoptive parents are the only humans they can trust with their shape-shifting secret. So whenever the siblings want to wolf around, they race to the forest to run—and relish their special bond. Until the terrible day a TV crew films their shocking transformation—and Tora is captured by a scientist determined to reveal her supernatural abilities to the world.

Now the brothers will do anything to get their sister back. Even if it means taking their powers to a whole new level by becoming werewolves for the very first time–something their parents warned them never to attempt. But once the teens go to the dark side, will they ever make it back to the only life they’ve ever known?

Available on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.

Bram Stoker and Aurora Award-winner Edo van Belkom is the author of over 200 stories of horror, science fiction, fantasy, and mystery. As an editor, he has four anthologies to his credit that include two books for young adults, Be Afraid! (A Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book of the Year finalist) and Be Very Afraid! (An Aurora Award winner — Best Work in English).

(4) ARTIFICIAL STUDENT INTELLIGENCE. The Atlantic’s article “ChatGPT Will End High-School English” is mostly paywalled, but there’s the beginning:

Teenagers have always found ways around doing the hard work of actual learning. CliffsNotes date back to the 1950s, “No Fear Shakespeare” puts the playwright into modern English, YouTube offers literary analysis and historical explication from numerous amateurs and professionals, and so on. For as long as those shortcuts have existed, however, one big part of education has remained inescapable: writing. Barring outright plagiarism, students have always arrived at that moment when they’re on their own with a blank page, staring down a blinking cursor, the essay waiting to be written.

Now that might be about to change. The arrival of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, a program that generates sophisticated text in response to any prompt you can imagine, may signal the end of writing assignments altogether—and maybe even the end of writing as a gatekeeper, a metric for intelligence, a teachable skill.

If you’re looking for historical analogues, this would be like the printing press, the steam drill, and the light bulb having a baby, and that baby having access to the entire corpus of human knowledge and understanding. My life—and the lives of thousands of other teachers and professors, tutors and administrators—is about to drastically change….

(5) DEL TORO’S PINOCCHIO. Nicholas Barber’s review for the BBC “Pinocchio: The scariest children’s story ever written” includes spoilers. Like these in the very first paragraph:

Two major Pinocchio films premiered this year, but it isn’t too difficult to tell them apart. One of them is Robert Zemeckis’s live-action remake of the 1940 Walt Disney cartoon, with Tom Hanks as a cuddly Geppetto, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt providing the voice of Jiminy Cricket. The other, directed by Guillermo del Toro, has Geppetto’s flesh-and-blood son being killed by a World War Two bomb, Geppetto (David Bradley) carving a wooden boy in a drunken fury, and Mussolini’s fascists ruling over Italy. And then there are the deaths, plural, of the title character. “Pinocchio dies in our film three or four times,” del Toro tells BBC Culture, “and has a dialogue with Death, and Death teaches him that the only way you can really have a human existence is if you have death at the end of it. There are roughly 60 versions of Pinocchio on film, and I would bet hard money that that doesn’t exist in any of the other 60.”…

(6) GARY FRIEDKIN (1952-2022). Actor Gary Friedkin, who made his film debut as a four-foot-tall Munchkin in the 1981 comedy Under the Rainbow, died December 2 of Covid complications. His other genre appearances include, uncredited, in Blade Runner and as an Ewok in Return of the Jedi.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1994 [By Cat Eldridge.] Dorothy L Sayers

Now we have a statue of a mystery writer which you will notice includes her SJW credential. 

The statue of Dorothy L Sayers and stands in Newland Street, Witham, opposite the Witham Library, and also opposite her house.

The statue was cast in bronze, about six and feet tall tall, by the Ardbronze Foundry and designed by John Doubleday, the sculptor who did the Sherlock Holmes sculptures we talked about in the Scroll last night. It was erected in 1994. 

An amusing note: several commenters online say that you can see that quite a few children and even adults like to pet Blitz, Sayer’s feline companion — he is now quite shiny on top!

A very, very not amusing note: it was privately funded through sale of much smaller statues as the British government didn’t think she was worthy of have a statue and wouldn’t fund it saying that she lacked literary worth. Fans of Ngaio Marsh need not apply. 

The plinth bears the inscription: Dorothy L. Sayers 1893 – 1957 and the name John Doubleday, Sculptor with the foundry name.

Witham Library holds a reference collection of all of her works, press-clippings, all of her reviews and letters in the Dorothy L Sayers Centre, which is jointly managed by Essex Libraries and the Dorothy L Sayers Society, and which is held in a specially outfitted room on the upper floor.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 10, 1815 Ada Lovelace. English mathematician and writer, principally known for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Genre usage includes William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s The Difference Engine and S.M. Stirling’s The Peshawar Lancers. (Died 1852.)
  • Born December 10, 1824 George MacDonald. Scottish author I think best known for Phantastes: A Faerie Romance for Men and Women and The Princess and The Goblin. His writings have been cited as a major literary influence by many notable authors including C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, G. K. Chesterton and Madeleine L’Engle to name but a few who mention him. The Waterboys titled their Room to Roam album after a passage in Phantastes. (Died 1905.)
  • Born December 10, 1903 Mary Norton. Author of The Borrowers which won the 1952 Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognizing the novel as the year’s outstanding children’s book by a British author. She would continue to write these novels for three decades with Hallmark turning it into a film in the early seventies. Her novels The Magic Bed Knob; or, How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons and Bonfires and Broomsticks would be adapted into the Disney film Bedknobs and Broomsticks in the same period. (Died 1992.)
  • Born December 10, 1907 Graves Gladney. An illustrator known for his cover paintings for Street & Smith pulp magazines, especially The Shadow. He produced all the covers from April 1939 to the end of 1941, and here’s one of his covers from June 1st, 1939. It’s worth noting that when he replaced The Shadow‘s cover artist George Rozen who did a more fantastical approach to the covers, Gladney depicted an actual scene that Walter Gibson had written in a story inside. (Died 1976.)
  • Born December 10, 1927 Anthony Coburn. Australian writer and producer who spent most of his career living and working in the U.K. He was closely involved in the earliest days of Who to the extent that it’s believed it was his idea for the Doctor’s travelling companion, Susan, to be The Doctor’s granddaughter.  He wrote four scripts for the show, of which only An Unearthly Child was used. (Died 1977.)
  • Born December 10, 1953 Janny Wurts, 69. Illustrator and writer.  She’s won three Chesley Awards, plus a HOMer Award for her Servant of the Empire novel. I strongly recommend the Empire trilogy that she co-authored with Raymond E. Feist, and her excellent That Way Lies Camelot collection was nominated for a BFA.
  • Born December 10, 1984 Helen Oyeyemi, 38. I like it when a Birthday results in my adding to my audiobook listening list. She’s resident in Prague now and her take on European folktales that surround her there is particularly sharp in Mr. Fox, which was nominated for an Otherwise Award, off that well known tale. And White is for Witching has all the makings of a damn fine haunted house story. Now one should not overlook her Icarus Girl, her first novel, which is fascinating. I’ve not encountered Gingerbread, her latest novel. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Flying McCoys shows a 20th Century answer to a 19th predicament that may not end as well for Tiny Tim.
  • Tom Gauld gives season’s greetings to a UFO.
  • In another cartoon, Tom Gauld renders a brutal translation of a familiar academic conversation.

(10) IT ONCE WAS WET. Yesterday’s Science journal reports from Mars: “Organic geochemistry in Jezero crater”.

The Perseverance rover has investigated the floor of Jezero crater on Mars, finding that it consists of igneous rocks that were modified by reactions with liquid water (aqueous alteration). Scheller et al. used the rover to perform Raman and fluorescence spectroscopy of rocks at two locations within the crater. They identified the presence of organic molecules, including aromatics with one and two benzene rings. The presence of perchlorates allowed the authors to set a limit of more than 2 billion years for the last time water filled the crater. Carbonates and sulphates were also found. The results demonstrate that the rocks in Jezero crater contain a record of ancient organic geochemistry.

Primary research paper here.

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. How It Should Have Ended presents “How Black Adam Should Have Ended”.

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

Pixel Scroll 11/22/22 File Thing, You Make My Scroll Sing, You Make Everything … Pixelly

(1) NPR’S PICKS OF 2022. NPR has put up its massive list of “Best Books 2022: Books We Love”. It’s sortable by category – this is the button to pull out the 67 “Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Speculative Fiction” titles. The tool will also take you back to any of their annual selections since 2013.

Books We Love! – NPR’s biannual, interactive reading guide – is back for its 10th year with 400+ books published in 2022! Mix and match tags including “Book Club Ideas,” “Eye-Opening Reads,” and “Kids’ Books” to browse titles hand-picked by NPR staff and trusted critics. Click back through a decade of recommendations to find more than 3,200 books – we’ve got your next favorite read and something for every person on your holiday shopping list. Discover the books that comforted, challenged, and captivated us this year.

(2) WHAT DO YOU WANT SANTA TO BRING? Connie Willis, on Facebook, recommends adding Miracle on 34th Street to your Thanksgiving viewing. She does a deep dive into how a real Macy’s parade was filmed for the movie, and has other insights into the actors and actresses.

Thanksgiving is fast upon us, and I have a great movie to recommend (besides the standards we watch every year: PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES and DEAR GOD.) The movie is MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (the original black and white with Edmund Gwenn, Natalie Wood, Maureen O’Hara, and John Payne).

“But that’s a Christmas movie!” I can hear you saying. True, but it actually begins at Thanksgiving, with the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, and, even better, the parade in the movie is the real deal. Yes, the actual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from the year the movie was made, 1946. They filmed the opening sequences with the majorette and the clown and the drunken Santa–“It’s cold! A man’s gotta do SOMETHING to keep warm!”–at the beginning of the parade….

(3) LOCUS FUNDRAISER MAKING PROGRESS. With 23 days left, the Indiegogo for “Locus Magazine: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror” has raised $45,169 of the $75,000 goal with the help of 473 backers. There’s a variety of perks available, such as this one for $30 donors.

(4) WILL IT MAKE A BIG SPLASH? A new trailer for Avatar: The Way of Water – in theaters December 16.

Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, “Avatar: The Way of Water” begins to tell the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri, and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure.

(5) IT’S REALLY AND SINCERELY DEAD. The Department of Justice put out a press release about Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster’s decision to not appeal the district court’s verdict barring their merger deal.

The district court’s decision is a victory for authors, the marketplace of ideas, consumers, and competitive markets. It reinforces the important principle that antitrust laws apply to transactions that harm content creators and workers. The Department is pleased that Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster have opted not to appeal.

(6) RECOMMENDED READING FOR ELON MUSK. Norman Spinrad, for reasons unexplained, wants to place a copy of his forthcoming novella Up and Out in the hands of Elon Musk. He calls on everyone to use their connections and get back to him at [email protected]

ELON MUSK WHERE ARE YOU?
       
It has often been said that no one on the planet is more than 6 steps from anyone else, and I have been trying contact Elon Musk fruitlessly, not surprising, given that he is the richest and maybe one of the most famous people on Earth.  I did not want to ask him for money or anything else.  I simply wanted to give him something that I know he would enjoy, a novella called UP AND OUT, but of course, impossible to get the rtf to him personally.
     
And this is a very personal gift and now it will be published December 13th in the formally January/February issue of  Asimov’s SF Magazine.  So he will be able to buy the issue if he knows about it, and I think he can probably afford it.  

So what I am asking y’all is only to help me tell him.  Given that there are about 200 people getting this, the math would seem to say that the odds are good.  I’m not asking for an email address, or anything else, so this would seem to be possible.

(7) A CLASSIC RESUMES. “’Willow’ Resurrected: The Hard-Fought Story of an Epic Comeback”Vanity Fair tells that story, how it came to pass that Willow will roll again on Disney+ beginning November 30.

Jonathan Kasdan was in the middle of making a Star Wars movie, but his mind kept venturing to an entirely different universe. 

This happened in 2017, when the screenwriter of Solo stood on the Canary Islands set of the movie, watching as one of his idols dropped in for a cameo. Warwick Davis, who was there to play a member of a galactic biker gang, had a long history of playing Star Wars characters, but he was also the star of one of Kasdan’s favorite movies from childhood, the 1988 sword-and-sorcery adventure Willow.

“I asked to be introduced to him,” Kasdan recalls. “I had one of the ADs walk me over, and he was sitting in his foldout chair. I said, ‘I’m Jon Kasdan. I’m one of the writers.’ And he was very nice.” But Kasdan had a not-so-secret agenda. “I said, ‘Listen, I love Willow, and I really think there’s something to be done here. I’m beating the drum loudly with Kathy [Kennedy, Lucasfilm’s president] and with the company.’” Davis lit up. “He immediately was like, ‘Have a seat! Let’s talk more!’” Kasdan says. “We started talking that very minute about what it could be and have never stopped.” 

Five years later, Willow—the new Disney+ series —will debut on November 30. But the journey between that first conversation and the completion of the show was a fraught adventure of its own, sometimes harrowing, sometimes comical, sometimes just awkward. Still, it was driven by a sincere love of this fantasy realm and the unlikely hero at its center.

Today, Kasdan is part of the Lucasfilm brain trust, consulting on multiple projects with his own office at their Disney headquarters, (complete with a sweeping view of Kennedy’s parking space, he jokes). But back in 2017, when he first broached the subject of reviving Willow with Davis on the set of Solo, his credits included writing stints on Dawson’s Creek and Freaks and Geeks, and directing the indie films The First Time and In the Land of Women. Kasdan had leveled up to epics for the first time with Solo, which he had cowritten with his father (Star Wars veteran and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan). He had the experience and the enthusiasm to take on a return to Willow, if not the actual pull at Lucasfilm to make it a reality….

(8) PARADOX LAUNCH EVENT. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.]  I previously sent an image of the cover of Romania’s H. G. Wells SF Society of Timisoara 50 year anniversary edition of Paradox (Pixel Scroll 11/17/22 item #12).

The zine’s launch  took place at the Theresien Bastion (the main section of the former Austrian fortifications that defended Timisoara in 1700s) and it attracted a number of old sci-fi fans and members of the H.G. Wells association. 

I have pictures of the launch courtesy of Silviu Genescu (himself an award-winning author – the Romanian equivalent of the Booker for D is for ‘End’)

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1986 [By Cat Eldridge.] Nutcracker: The Motion Picture 

Christmas long ago was the memory of a dream that seemed never to end. But somewhere in the middle of that dream, I always did wake up, just in time to attend the Christmas party. — Opening lines as said by the adult Clara.

So let’s talk about a most unusual Nutcracker that had the blessing to get filmed. Nutcracker: The Motion Picture, also known as Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker or simply Nutcracker, is was produced thirty-six years ago by the Pacific Northwest Ballet.

So what makes this one worth knowing about? Two words that form a name: Maurice Sendak. 

Choreographer Kent Stowell who the artistic director of the Pacific Northwest Ballet had invited the author-illustrator Maurice Sendak to collaborate on a Nutcracker production in 1979 after his wife and another colleague had seen a Sendak design for a performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute.  

Sendak initially rejected Stowell’s invitation, later explaining why he did so:  

The Nutcrackers I’ve seen have all been dull. You have a simpering little girl, a Christmas party, a tree that gets big. Then you have a variety of people who do dances that seem to go on and on ad nauseam. Technically it’s a mess, too; Acts I and II have practically nothing to do with each other. … What you don’t have is plot. No logic. You have lots of very pretty music, but I don’t enjoy it because I’m a very pedantic, logical person. I want to know why things happen.

He later accepted provided that he could write it so it was in tune with the themes in Hoffmann’s original story. It was extremely popular and it was the annual Christmas show for thirty-one years. 

For reasons too complicated to explain here, I got invited on a personal tour of the backstage area of the Pacific Northwest Ballet building where the scenery and other materials that Sendak had designed for this were stored. To say these were magical is an understatement. And just a tad scary up close. 

Two Disney executives attended the premiere and suggested it’d make a splendid film. Sendak and the Director of the Ballet resisted at first preferring to just film the ballet. But both finally decided to adapt it to a film. That meant Clara’s dream had to be clarified; large portions of the choreography were changed; some of some the original designs underwent revision, and Sendak created additional ones from scratch.

It was shot in ten days on the cheap and critics weren’t particularly kind about the result as they could see the necessary shortcuts taken. Ballard, the Director here as well, responded to criticism about the editing in a later The New York Times interview, noting that the editing was not what he had initially planned, but was because of the tight filming schedule.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 22, 1932 Robert Vaughn. His best-known genre work was as Napoleon Solo in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. with other genre work being in Teenage CavemanStarship InvasionsThe Lucifer ComplexVirusHangar 18Battle Beyond the StarsSuperman III C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D. (seriously who penned that awful title?), Transylvania Twist and Witch Academy. Oh, and he wrote the introduction to The Man from U.N.C.L.E. series companion that came out a generation after the series aired. (Died 2016.)
  • Born November 22, 1940 Terry Gilliam, 82. He’s directed many films of which the vast majority are firmly genre. I think I’ve seen most of them though I though I’ve not seen The Man Who Killed Don QuixoteTidelandThe Zero Theorem or The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. I’ve seen everything else. Yes, I skipped past his start as the animator for Monty Python’s Flying Circus which grew out of his work for the children’s series Do Not Adjust Your Set which had the staff of Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Though he largely was the animator in the series and the films, he did occasionally take acting roles according to his autobiography, particularly roles no one else wanted such those requiring extensive makeup.  He also co-directed a number of scenes. Awards? Of course. Twelve Monkeys is the most decorated with six followed by Brazil with two and Time Bandits and The Fisher King which each have but one.  He’s not won any Hugos though he has been nominated for four — Monty Python and the Holy GrailTime Bandits, Brazil and Twelve Monkeys. My favorite films by him? Oh, the one I’ve watched the most is The Adventures of Baron Munchausen followed by Time Bandits. He’s co-directing and writing the forthcoming Time Bandits series Apple is financing and showing. I’ll subscribe when it’s out.
  • Born November 22, 1943 William Kotzwinkle, 79. Fata Morgana might be in my opinion his best novel though Doctor Rat which he won the World Fantasy Award for is in the running for that honor as well. And his short stories of which there are many are quite excellent too.  Did you know Kotzwinkle wrote the novelization of the screenplay for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial? The usual digital suspects are well stocked with his books.
  • Born November 22, 1949 John Grant. He’d make the Birthday list solely for being involved in the stellar Encyclopedia of Fantasy which won a Hugo at BucConeer.  And he did win another well-deserved Hugo at Noreascon 4 for Best Related Work for The Chesley Awards for Science Fiction and Fantasy Art: A Retrospective.  Most of His short fiction has been set in the Lone Wolf universe though I see that he did a Judge Dredd novel too. (Died 2020.)
  • Born November 22, 1957 Kim Yale. Married to John Ostrander until 1993 when she died of breast cancer, she was a writer whose first work was in the New America series, a spin-off of Truman’s Scout series. With Truman, she developed the Barbara Gordon Oracle character, created the Manhunter series, worked on Suicide Squad, and was an editor at D.C. where she oversaw such licenses as Star Trek: The Next Generation. For First Comics, she co-wrote much of the amazing Grimjack with her husband.
  • Born November 22, 1958 Jamie Lee Curtis, 64. Can we agree that she was the best Scream Queen for her film debut in the 1978 Halloween film in which she played the role of Laurie Strode? No? Well, that’s my claim. Spoilers follow. She followed up with yet more horror films, The Fog and Prom Night. In all, she’s the only character that survives.  She would reprise the role of Laurie in six sequels, including Halloween H20Halloween: ResurrectionHalloween II and Halloween III: Season of the WitchHalloween (a direct sequel to the first Halloween) and Halloween Kills.  She shows up in one of my fave SF films, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as Sandra Banzai but you’ll need to see the director’s extended version as she’s only there in that version. Is True Lies genre? Probably not, but for her performance, Curtis won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the Saturn Award for Best Actress. Damn impressive I’d say.  No, I’m not listing all her films here as OGH would likely start growling. Suffice to say she’s had a very impressive career. 
  • Born November 22, 1984 Scarlett Johansson, 38. Best known perhaps for her role as the Black Widow in the MCU films including the present Black Widow film but she has other genre appearances including playing Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell which was controversial for whitewashing the cast, particularly her character who was supposed to be Japanese. 

(11) JMS WILL WORK WITH AWA. “AWA Studios Enlists Top Creatives to Shepherd Content Derived From Graphic Novels” reports Variety. J. Michael Straczynski is one of the six.

AWA Studios has enlisted Reginald HudlinGregg Hurwitz, Laeta Kalogridis, Joseph Kosinski, Al Madrigal and J. Michael Straczynski to serve on the company’s Creative Council. The council’s charter is for those established players to use their experience and their connections to help AWA writer and graphic artists “unleash the full potential of their characters and stories, providing a diversity of contemporary storytelling perspectives and putting projects in the best position to be scaled across the entertainment ecosystem,” per AWA.

(12) YA THRILLER. At Nerds of a Feather, Elizabeth Fitzgerald reviews a book that won the Norma K. Hemming Award for Long Work: “Microreview [book]: Ghost Bird by Lisa Fuller”.

Ghost Bird belongs most comfortably in the genre of the YA thriller. A certain subsection of this genre likes to play coy about the presence of supernatural elements. Examples include Black by Fleur Ferris, Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein and Flight of the Fantail by Steph Matuku. By the end, each of these books definitively answers whether the speculative elements played with are considered real within the story’s world. Ghost Bird also has definitive answers, making it very at home in this subgenre. However, its identity as an Indigenous Australian Own Voices narrative makes it difficult to call the story a speculative one. After all, referring to what may be a part of a living Indigenous tradition as fantasy or speculative seems neither respectful nor accurate.

Cleverly, this tension between Western and Indigenous thought is one of the central themes of Ghost Bird. The story is written in first person present tense from the perspective of Stacey. She is intelligent, rational and takes her education very seriously — too seriously, according to some of her family, who feel she should be paying more heed to traditional ways…

(13) THE RAVELED SLEEVE OF CARE IS NOT KNITTED UP. Arturo Serrano reviews a disappointing film based on Winsor McCay’s visual innovations: “’Slumberland’ won’t spark your dreams, but it will put you to sleep” at Nerds of a Feather.

A girl loses her father and processes her grief by oversleeping. An emotionally stunted uncle tries to learn childrearing from Google. The complicated interplay of growth and decay makes the future uncertain and scary. If she wants to grow up and stop retreating into fantasies, she’ll have to accept the fact of death, but also help her uncle reconnect with his inner child and dream again.

This setup sounds like it should deliver a full emotional experience, bolstered by the metaphoric possibilities of dream language. Unfortunately, Netflix film Slumberland shows us a muted dreamscape that doesn’t dare embrace the protean qualities of the unconscious mind. When protagonist Nemo ventures into the land of dreams to look for her father, the place looks too rigid, too rational, built on an oppressively linear logic that makes it less Paprika and more Inception. This does not feel like the dream of a child; it feels like an adult’s self-serving memory of what goes on in a child’s mind….

(14) POPULATION CRISIS. Paul Weimer reviews a novel about a world ruled by women where girl children are no longer being born: “Microreview [book]: Scorpica by G.R. McAllister” at Nerds of a Feather.

…Humans are a species that can think in terms of years, decades and generations ahead and to come. Humans are a species that is very concerned with their posterity, as a way of preserving not only their legacy, but establishing the future for their children and their children’s children. And when that posterity is threatened, people, and the societies they inhabit, can come under stress, fracture, and break.

P D James’ novel The Children of Men (and its movie adaptation) explores the death of posterity for the human race by having had no children born in the last 17 years. Mankind is slowly and inexorably aging out to death, and the stresses on people, on society are like an inexorably tightening vise, a ticking clock for humanity. It’s not pretty, even (and perhaps especially) when there is a glimmer of hope that the doom can be averted.

We come to GR McAllister’s Scorpica, which takes a widescreen epic fantasy approach to this scenario. The Five Queendoms (which is also the name of the series that Scorpica starts) are a quintet of fantasy kingdoms which are not just matriarchies, kingdoms ruled by women, but out and out gynarchies. This is a woman’s world, from the fierce fighters of Scorpica to the potent magicians of Arca, the power, authority and social structures are all controlled by women.

So, when the Drought of Girls begins, and girls are no longer being born among any of the five kingdoms, there is indeed a slow moving, inexorably building crisis that strikes the inhabitants of the kingdoms, and the lives of those whom we meet in the book….

(15) GENRE JUSTICE. “Judge John Hodgman on Klingon Cat Names” in the New York Times.

Tyler writes: My partner, who is also named Tyler, wants a second cat. I’m not a fan of cats, so he takes full responsibility for ours. I told him if he adopts another cat, I would get to name it. He agreed. But he doesn’t like the name I’ve chosen — Gowron, after the Chancellor of the Klingon High Council — and insists I choose another.

This one hurts. First, because you presumed I didn’t know who Gowron is. He’s the son of M’Rel, for Kahless’s sake! Second, I suspect you’re just trying to annoy Tyler as punishment for this second cat. Third, it’s obvious this cat should be named Tyler. But a deal is a deal: Gowron it is. At least you did not get clever and suggest “Meowron,” which I’m sure has been done one million times. Readers, let me know how many of you have cats named Chancellor Meowron. Also email me if your dog is named Lieutenant Woof.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. From The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on October 26: “Will Our New Writer George R.R. Martin Finish The Monologue On Time?”

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

Pixel Scroll 10/11/22 Make Room Party, Make Room Party

(1) YOU WILL SCORE BETWEEN ZERO AND 2001. [Item by David Goldfarb.] LearnedLeague just had a One-Day Special quiz on the movie and novel 2001: A Space Odyssey. You can find the questions here. Be warned that if you haven’t seen the movie and read the book recently, you’ll find it pretty hard!

(2) STILL CHECKING IN. Publishers’ suit against the Internet Archive over “Controlled Digital Lending” nearing final submission: “Publishers, Internet Archive Ready for Summary Judgment Hearing in Book Scanning Case” reports Publishers Weekly.

… In their third and final reply brief, attorneys for the publishers reiterate their position that, on both the facts and the law, there is no viable fair use defense for the IA’s scanning and lending program, labeling the Internet Archive a “commercial” actor and CDL “a cynical branding exercise designed to repackage industrial-scale copyright infringement as a legitimate enterprise.”

Furthermore, the publishers dismiss the IA’s contention that CDL guards against publishers choosing not to make digital books available to libraries as a “delusion” and credits the publishers with “pioneering” a “thriving” licensed access library e-book market for just such a purpose, to make digital books available to libraries.

“In the end, Internet Archive asks this Court to adopt a radical proposition that would turn copyright law upside down by allowing IA to convert millions of physical books into e-book formats and distribute them worldwide without paying rights holders,” the publisher brief states. “Since the purpose of copyright is to incentivize the creation of new works, authors and publishers—not IA—hold the exclusive right to publish their books in all formats and distribute them via select channels.”

In their brief, Internet Archive lawyers reiterate their arguments that their scanning and lending program is fair use—and that the evidence will show no harm to the publishers market.

“All CDL does, and all it can ever do, is offer a limited, digital alternative to physically handing a book to a patron. Libraries deciding how to meet their patrons’ needs for digital access to books are not making a choice between paying e-book licensing fees or getting books for free. Libraries pay publishers under either approach,” the IA brief states. But with CDL as an option, “librarians can continue to maintain permanent collections of books, to preserve those books in their original form for future generations, and to lend them to patrons one at time, as they have always done,” the brief adds, meaning that “librarians can continue to advance the ultimate purpose of copyright: ‘the intellectual enrichment of the public.’”

And in a twist, the IA brief concludes by citing two recent headlines. First up, a controversial decision by Wiley—one of the plaintiffs in the case—to pull digital library access to its textbooks just before the start of the academic year.

“When they returned to campus this fall, students at Georgetown, George Washington University, and the other members of the Washington Research Library Consortium found 1,379 books published by Plaintiff Wiley could no longer be borrowed in electronic form from those institutions’ libraries,” IA lawyers told the court. “They disappeared from those libraries’ virtual shelves because Wiley decided to stop licensing them to the academic library market as of August 31, 2022. And according to Plaintiffs’ theory in this case, that means libraries could not loan them out digitally at all.”

The brief notes that Wiley restored the titles for the academic year after a public backlash. “But the message was sent,” IA lawyers state. “The ability of libraries to serve their patrons is subject to publishers’ whims.”

And tapping another recent headline, IA lawyers quoted a recent open letter organized by digital advocates Fight for the Future and signed by more than 400 authors that expressed fear of a world in which “libraries are reduced to a sort of Netflix or Spotify for books.”

“That is what this case is about,” IA lawyers conclude. “Whether the selection of books available from libraries digitally will be chosen by librarians, or instead determined by publishers’ unilateral and unreviewable licensing choices. This Court is being asked to decide whether copyright law gives publishers the power to dictate which books in a library’s collection can and cannot be loaned digitally.”…

(3) AD ASTRA. The Space Review’s Jeff Foust reviews a book by a NASA project manager about whether interstellar travel is possible.“Review: A Traveler’s Guide to the Stars”.

Tucked away on the inside of the adapter that connects the Orion spacecraft to the upper stage of the Space Launch System are ten cubesats, patiently awaiting launch on the Artemis 1 mission. One of those ten is Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) Scout, a NASA cubesat that will, after deployment, unfurl a solar sail and use that to send the spacecraft on a flyby of a near Earth asteroid in two years. NEA Scout was intended as a technology demonstrator for larger solar sails, explained Les Johnson, principal investigator for the solar sail part of the mission at NASA Marshall, during a talk at the Conference on Small Satellites in Utah in August.

Johnson’s vision, though, goes far beyond solar sails for cubesats. He has been involved for more than two decades on efforts related to interstellar travel, dating back to managing a short-lived NASA project on interstellar propulsion at the turn of the century. “I became a convert” to the field by that time NASA ended that project, he writes in the preface of his new book, A Traveler’s Guide to the Stars. “I came to believe that going to the stars is something that can actually be done.”…

(4) MEMORY LANE.  

2017 [By Cat Eldridge.] Just five years ago, Thor: Ragnarok premiered on this date. So why is it getting essayed tonight? Well y’all did nominate it for a Hugo at Worldcon 76. Anything that gets nominated is probably going to get written up here. And I like the Thor films. Still don’t why they haven’t made a film for Throg yet. He’s so cool, isn’t he?

Ok, back to the film now which had nothing to do with Throg. I hope. It is the sequel to Thor and Thor: The Dark World. And it was, may Odin have mercy on us, the seventeenth MCU film. There have been twenty-seven films to date with a run time of about two hours and a quarter.  And yes this was in that ballpark.

It was directed by Taika Waititi, his first full length film for Marvel though he had done some shorter works including the Team Thor direct-to-video mockumentary short films. The script was written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost —all three not surprisingly are heavily involved in MCU film production undertakings. 

I won’t detail the cast or the story as y’all with impeccable taste nominated for a Hugo at WorldCon 76 though it lost out to Wonder Woman.

Though it was expensive production at one eighty million, partly due to being done  entirely in Queensland, that in the end didn’t matter as the box office was eight hundred and fifty million dollars. That of course doesn’t count streaming and disc sales. 

Critical reception was, shall we say, fantastic. They all liked the light, over-the-top feel, with Hollywood Reporter noting “even the story’s central bad guys having silly fun, hammed to the hilt by Cate Blanchett and Jeff Goldblum.” And the San Francisco Chronicle reviewer said that the film “has confidence in its characters and in its own invention, and so it avoids repetition and stays fresh.” 

Rotten Tomatoes gives it a thunderous eighty-seven rating among audience reviewers. 

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 11, 1944 Patrick Parrinder, 78. I’ve a soft spot for the academics who plow our fields. This one settled upon H. G. Wells starting with H. G. Wells and H. G. Wells: The Critical Heritage nearly forty years ago all the way to H. G. Wells’s Perennial Time Machine that he wrote with Danièle Chatelain and George E. Slusser. 
  • Born October 11, 1960 Nicola Bryant, 62. Well known for her role as Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown, a companion to both the Fifth and Sixth Doctors. She also worked in “The Two Doctors” story so she appeared with the Second Doctor as well. Of course she’s done Big Finish Doctor Who audio dramas. Not to mention Trek fan fic as Lana in Star Trek Continues.
  • Born October 11, 1964 Michael J. Nelson, 58. Best known for his work on Mystery Science Theater. He was the head writer of the series for most of the show’s original eleven-year run, and spent half of that time as the on-air host. Bad genre films were a favorite target of him and his companions. Not that they don’t deserve it. 
  • Born October 11, 1965 Sean Patrick Flanery, 57. I really do think that his best work was on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and the films that followed. It certainly wasn’t as Bobby Dagen in Saw: The Final Chapter, a film best forgotten. (It gets a forty-one percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes, much better than I expected.) He appeared as Jake Greyman in Demon Hunter, another low budget horror film, and as John in The Evil Within. I see a pattern…
  • Born October 11, 1972 Nir Yaniv, 50. Author, editor, musician, and filmmaker. He founded a webzine for the Israeli Society for Science Fiction & Fantasy.  Currently, he’s the chief editor of Chalomot Be’aspamia, Israel’s only professionally printed genre magazine. His short fiction has appeared in Weird TalesApex Magazine and The Best of World SF. He co-wrote The Tel Aviv Dossier with Lavie Tidhar. 
  • Born October 11, 1972 Claudia Black, 50 . Best known for being Aeryn Sun in Farscape, Vala Mal Doran in Stargate SG-1 and Sharon “Shazza” Montgomery in Pitch Black. She also had a recurring role as Dahlia in The Originals and starred as Dr. Sabine Lommers in The CW’s Containment series.
  • Born October 11, 1976 Emily Deschanel, 46. Temperance “Bones” Brennan in Bones which crossed over with Sleepy Hollow twice (she visited the latter once) and she had a bit part on Spider-Man 2. More notably she was Pam Asbury in Stephen King’s Rose Red series. More notably she was Pam Asbury in Stephen King’s Rose Red series. Actually the forensic science on Bones is genre, isn’t it? 

(6) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! features a very catty comment.

(7) DC UPS THEIR STREAMING DIGITAL COMICS OFFERING. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Hot off the main web site.

—OK, here’s the info from DC—

DC UNIVERSE INFINITE is getting even better with the introduction of the brand-new ULTRA tier launching today! DC UNIVERSE INFINITE ULTRA subscribers will be able to read the latest releases from DC just one month after they are available in comic shops. Starting today, ULTRA tier members can read titles like Black Adam #1-4, Batman: Beyond the White Knight #1-4, Flashpoint Beyond #1-5, The Nice House on the Lake #1-9, and much, much more!

Plus, starting in mid-November, ULTRA subscribers can also read more than 5,000 exclusive titles from Vertigo, DC Black Label and Collected Editions from DC including Sandman Presents: Dead Boy Detectives, 100 Bullets, and American Vampire, and more.

ULTRA tier is available for a special limited-time introductory price of $99.99 USD a year in the US, $119.99 CAN in Canada, $134.99 AUD in Australia, $134.99 NZD in New Zealand and £72.99 BPS in the U.K., plus applicable taxes. The introductory pricing rate is available until November 28, 2022, and remains valid as long as your ULTRA Annual  subscription is in good standing and you do not cancel. Current DC UNIVERSE INFINITE subscribers can upgrade their monthly and annual subscriptions to ULTRA.

— and here’s the bullet-list version, via https://www.dc.com/ultra 

ENJOY THE BENEFITS OF YOUR DC UNIVERSE INFINITE ULTRA MEMBERSHIP!

• SPECIAL LIMITED-TIME INTRODUCTORY PRICE* ($99 a year in the US, $119.99 CAN in Canada, $134.99 AUD in Australia, $134.99 NZD in New Zealand and £72.99 BPS in the U.K.)

• Comics library expands from 27000 to 32000+ books by mid-November 2022 accessible anytime anywhere

• New comics available just 30 days after print release

• Expanded Vertigo and Black Label and DC Collected Edition catalogs available only with Ultra membership starting in mid-November 2022

• Free DC collectible comic exclusive to Ultra subscribers***

• Access to Ultra member-only events and discounts

• 7-day FREE trial**

Dern notes, the current DC Universe offering is $74.99/year or $7.99/month, so an affordable bump (particularly if I sign up soon.)

Dern also notes:

I’ve been on DCUniverse since it started (originally, to watch Doom Patrol and Titans, which are now instead on HBO Max). I continue to enjoy reading the not-quite-new comics (having an iPad Pro 12.9″ helps!).

That said, (a) there seems like a lot of DC comics that don’t get ever get posted (I could be wrong), and (b) DC has, over the past year, like Marvel, gone to a lot of work to make search/back-issue much worse, grumble. Still, for (DC) comic readers, a deal that can’t be beat.

IGN also says: “DC Universe Infinite Adds ‘Ultra’ Subscription Tier With 5000 More Comics”.

DC is also making one addition to the service [including the existing level] that will be available to all subscription types. YA graphic novels like Teen Titans: Beast Boy Loves Raven and Nubia: Real One, as well as 100 classic issues of MAD Magazine, are live now on the app.

DPD comments, These YA graphic novels are quite good. (There’s a bunch already available via HooplaDigita..com, so, free if you’ve got a card for a Hoopla-using public library.)

Also, there’s a physical annual freebie. Via Graphic Policy: “NYCC 2022: DC announces DC Universe Infinite Ultra”.

Ultra subscribers will be eligible to receive one free physical comic book (based on availability) when they subscribe, upgrade or renew their membership.

[more pricing deets]

The introductory pricing rate is available until November 28, 2022, and remains valid as long as your Ultra Annual subscription is in good standing and you do not cancel. Current DC Universe Infinite subscribers can upgrade their monthly and annual subscriptions to Ultra.

(8) READING RECOMMENDATIONS. In Joe Stech’s latest “Compelling Science Fiction Newsletter” he ranks and reviews the top 5 out of the 26 stories he read that were published in August. Curious what is number one on his list? Click the link!

(9) TUNE IN. Otto Penzler of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York will be on ABC’s Good Morning America on Thursday.

(10) LOVE IS LOVELIER THE FOURTH TIME AROUND. Camestros Felapton finds a few things to like in spite of it all: “Review: The Matrix Resurrections”.

…There are no new big ideas in this fourth film and the signature effects and visual style have become cliches in the meantime. However, there are a number of things to like about the film. The first and most obvious is that it is fun to through Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss back into their roles. Gen-X nostalgia is part of what the film is offering, a film made by mid-1960s babies for the same….

(11) POIROT AND COMPANY. It’s not that Tina Fey can’t act, it’s that I’ve seen her in so many modern comedies that it will seem strange to see her in a period mystery. “Kenneth Branagh’s Third Hercule Poirot Film ‘A Haunting in Venice’ Casts Tina Fey, Jamie Dornan, Michelle Yeoh and More” at Variety.

…Set in post-WWII Venice on All Hallows’ Eve, the film follows another mystery featuring the celebrated sleuth Poirot. Inspired by Christie’s “Hallowe’en Party,” the now retired and living in self-imposed exile Poirot reluctantly attends a séance at a haunted palazzo when one of the guests is murdered, and the former detective must once again find out who did it….

(12) HANDMADE, GET IT? Food & Wine admires the results when “Martha Stewart Collaborates with Liquid Death Water on New Candle”.

… “I recently heard about an interesting new beverage company called Liquid Death,” Stewart says in a gleefully gory promo video. “Together we teamed up to create an utterly delightful candle. A lot of people are asking me how we made them so realistic. Well, it’s not easy: each one is made by hand.”…

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Shovel Knight Dig,” Fandom Games says this game is the latest in a retro franchise that tries to duplicate the 16-bt games of 30 years ago.  But to help the guy finish his dig before he faces “the buzz saw of death” you’ll have to buy lots of stuff–so much that this game has a “trickle-down economy.”  “You want A material, you’ll have to pay for it,” the narrator says.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/9/22 In A Scroll In The File, There Ticked A Pixel

Illo by Joe Pearson

(1) CASE DISMISSED. Nerd & Tie’s Trae Dorn finally came out on top: “Ryan Kopf’s Second Lawsuit Against Us Has Been Finally Dismissed”. (See more details in 2016 post “Ryan Kopf Sues Blogger Trae Dorn”.)

Since 2016 Nerd & Tie, former Nerd & Tie contributor Pher Sturz, and I have been defending a defamation lawsuit brought against us by AnimeCon.org convention owner Ryan Kopf in the state of Illinois. It’s been a long road, and a lot has happened — but we’re happy to say that the Illinois lawsuit (like his Iowa lawsuit before it) has been dismissed.

This time around, it was dismissed for failure to prosecute.

We want to thank everyone who stood by us these six years, and helped raise our voice in the convention community. A lot has changed in the half dozen years of this lawsuit, but we hope to continue our commitment to the con scene at large. We stand by the articles we published that were named in the suit, and twice now we’ve stood up for ourselves and won….

(2) NYPL RECOMMENDED COMICS. [Item by Cathy Green.] The New York Public Library has put together a list of the 50 best comics for adults published in 2022.  There’s quite a few on the list that I think would be Hugo eligible in the graphic novel category. “Best New Comics of 2022 for Adults”.

(3) TOM GAULD INTERVIEW. In Print Magazine, Steven Heller interviews the cartoonist: “Tom Gauld’s ‘The First of the Mohicans’ and Many, Many More Paeans to Books and Authors”.

Do you have a professional, scholarly or simply personal relationship to books?
It started out as a purely personal interest in reading but, because these cartoons appear every week in the “Books” section of The Guardian newspaper, it’s become a somewhat professional thing, too. I think without the weekly commission I’d still make some cartoons about books, but probably not on a weekly basis.

Why are librarians the target of your acerbic yet sympathetic humor?
My parents were big library users and drove me and my brother from our house in the countryside in Scotland to the local library every week, and that’s where I discovered many amazing authors, so I’ve always had a soft spot for libraries and librarians. In the UK our dismal government has been closing libraries and I wanted to make a cartoon supporting librarians. It seemed too insipid and obvious to make a cartoon which just said “libraries are good,” so I did the opposite and made a cartoon about dangerous librarians rising up and taking over the world. That’s where the title for the book comes from.

(4) A WRITER’S CAREER BEGINS. Samuel R. Delany posted a long autobiographical comment on Facebook earlier this week which begins:

From the outside, often I look like the writer of a single novel—a strange, semi-fantasy that can have many readings, which—after a couple of years, when the publisher had published another—*Trouble on Triton* as well—they considered it enough of a success to rope in almost all my earlier books, including half-a-dozen of the seven that had already been published; as well, they bought the rights of the two most interesting (Hogg and Equinox, which there was no chance of their publishing); they even subsidized me through three-quarters of my next major project, Return to Nevèrÿon, before finally deciding I was incorrigible, and turned me over to the university system, in which I had been dabbling my toes since ’75, to begin 35+ years as a professor of (first) comparative literature and (second) English and (third) creative writing, at four universities. (One was a repeat.)…

(5) READ TWO TABLETS AND CALL ME IN THE MORNING. “Ecocide, toxic masculinity, fear of death, and more: the Epic of Gilgamesh’s themes could be transcribed from yesterday’s newspaper,” argues Robert Macfarlane in “A Fireball from the Sands” behind a paywall at The New York Review of Books.

…That the Epic of Gilgamesh exists at all is close to a miracle, and has much to do with the bibliophilia of the last great Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal (reigned 669–627 BCE), as well as the curatorial talents of desert sand. Partial versions of Gilgamesh are found in multiple languages, including an older Sumerian cycle of five (probably freestanding) stories that date back in written form to circa 2100 BCE; an Old Babylonian version from circa 1750 BCE; and the twelve-tablet Standard Babylonian version, which provides the main basis of all modern translations of Gilgamesh and is thought to have been edited between circa 1200 and 1000 BCE.

The best-preserved tablets bearing the Standard Babylonian version were recovered in the mid-nineteenth century from the buried ruins of the Library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh (now Kouyunjik in northern Iraq). A cultured despot, Ashurbanipal used the might of his empire to create the greatest library of the age. He ordered the regional centers of Mesopotamia to send him copies of significant texts in their holdings, he plundered the repositories of the cities defeated by his armies, and he hired scholars and scribes to make copies of Babylonian sources on fine clay, and in many cases to stamp those copies with a colophon recording his ownership….

(6) THE BREAKFAST BAR IS OPEN. A CNN opinion piece speculates about “A Martian menu that could transform how we eat on Earth”.

…Lunch takes place in the main cafeteria where every inch of spare space is filled with greenery, because a core design principle on Mars is to ensure that every photon of solar energy is used to grow plants. On the menu is a leafy salad tossed with plant-based protein cubes and seasoned with salty seaweed flakes, accompanied by a milkshake.

The salad greens are grown in hydroponic solutions under LED lights that are timed to ensure each plant gets the right wavelength of light, at the right intensity, and at the right moment to optimize growth. Most of these plants are cultivated underground, safe from radiation, in an atmosphere enriched with carbon dioxide (plants generally do better when carbon dioxide levels are a bit higher than is comfortable for humans).

The seaweed is grown in the tanks along with the algae that went into the breakfast bar…

(7) MEMORY LANE.  

1990 [By Cat Eldridge.] Thirty-two years ago in syndication in the States, the She-Wolf of London series first aired on this date possibly in your market. This series should not be confuse with the horror film that aired forty-five years earlier starting June Lockhart.

Our series was created by Tom McLoughlin and Mick Garris. The former’s apparent, and I do mean apparent, claim to fame is directing Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives and One Dark Night. Really? The latter on the other sharpened claw has worked a lot with Spielberg, is the creator of the Showtime Masters of Horror series, has an Edgar for an episode he wrote for the Spielberg’s Amazing Stories series… Shall I stop? Seriously he’s really great.

SPOILERS NOW. THEY HAVE TEETH. THEY BITE, REALLY. 

It starred Kate Hodge as the really sexy American graduate student Randi Wallace who travelled to London Britain to study mythology with Prof. Ian Matheson and gets bitten one night on a British moor and turns into a werewolf. 

Together they attempt to solve supernatural cases — a headless horseman, the spirit of Guy Fawkes, another werewolf and other creatures that are sort of convincingly presented. 

Eventually, their search takes them from London to Los Angeles, when they move back to Randi’s original home and Ian becomes host of an appalling down market TV talk show focusing on psychic phenomena. 

NO MORE TEETH FOR NOW

The move to the States represents the really, really weird spilt in the series. There was one season with the first fourteen episodes being filmed in a London studio mostly and aired under the She-Wolf of London name, and a second season of six episodes was filmed in Los Angeles and aired under the name of, and may I say yuck, Love and Curses.

Some sources, well wiki, say the series contained female nudity which would have been extremely unusual for the time. I cannot confirm this. 

Episodes of the series ran on Sci-Fi for a short time following its cancellation. For these airings, the Love and Curses episodes were retitled She-Wolf of London. For once, Sci-Fi did something smart.

The series was originally on the Hollywood Premiere Network which would become UPN. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 9, 1890 Harlan Thompson. Screenwriter, Lyricist, Stage and Screen Director and Producer. After an early career co-writing scripts and lyrics for Broadway musicals, he turned his talents to Hollywood, creating films and musicals which starred names such as Cary Grant, Bob Hope, Mae West, and W.C. Fields. His genre connection is his credit for the official novelization in 1972 of the movie Silent Running. The Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction notes that “The novel quietly patches some plot holes in the film’s script.” (Died 1966.)
  • Born October 9, 1900 Harry Bates. Writer, Editor, and Member of First Fandom. Editor from 1930 to 1933 the new pulp magazines Astounding Stories of Super-Science (which later became Astounding Stories, then Analogand Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror. His Retro Hugo finalist novelette “Farewell to the Master” was the source of the classic science fiction film The Day the Earth Stood Still. He wrote a number of other stories under his own name and under various pseudonyms. In 1976 he was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1981.)
  • Born October 9, 1949 Jim Starlin, 73. Comics artist and illustrator. If you’ve seen Guardians of the Galaxy, you’ve seen the characters Thanos and Drax the Destroyer which he created. He would also work for DC and other companies over the years. Starlin and Bernie Wrightson produced Heroes for Hope, a 1985 one-shot designed to raise money for African famine relief and recovery. Genre writers such as Stephen King, George R. R. Martin, Harlan Ellison, and Edward Bryant would contribute to this undertaking. He’s written a number of genre novels co-written with his wife Daina Graziunas. 
  • Born October 9, 1948 Ciaran Carson. Northern Ireland-born poet and novelist who is here, genre wise at least, for his translation of the early Irish epic Táin Bó Cúailnge, which he called simply The Táin. I’m also going to single him out for penning the finest book ever written on Irish traditional music, Last Night’s Fun: About Time, Food and Music. It’s every bit as interesting as Iain Banks’ Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram is. With Irish music added in. (Died 2018.)
  • Born October 9, 1953 Barbara March. She played the Klingon Lursa a total of five times. First on Next Generation in in two part “Redemption”, followed by “Firstborn” and then on Deep Space Nine in “Past Prologue”, and finally in the Generations film. Cancer took her far too young. Though she did no other genre acting, she played Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream on the stage and renown for being Lady Macbeth. She wrote a horror novel, The Copper People.(Died 2019.)
  • Born October 9, 1954 Scott Bakula, 68. Lead in two great SF series, Sam Beckett on the first Quantum Leap and Captain Jonathan Archer on Enterprise. He also starred as Nolan Wood who discovers the alien conspiracy in the remake of The Invaders. Though definitely not genre or even genre adjacent, he was Dwayne Pride on the recently cancelled if greatly accent challenged NCIS: New Orleans.
  • Born October 9, 1956 Robert Reed, 66. Extremely prolific short story writer with at least two hundred tales so far. And a number of novels as well such as the superb Marrow series. He won a Hugo at Nippon 2007 for his “A Billion Eves” novella. And he was nominated for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer as well.
  • Born October 9, 1961 Matt Wagner, 61. The Grendel Tales and Batman / Grendel are very good as is Grendel vs. The Shadow. His run on Madame Xanadu was amazing too. Oh, and I’d suggest both issues of House of Mystery Halloween Annual that he did for some appropriate Halloween reading. And let’s not forget his long run on the Sandman Mystery Theatre

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Off the Mark did something unexpected – thought of a funny new zombie joke!

(10) CHILD’S GARDEN OF BATMAN. [Item by Chris Barkley.] I think Alan Moore should have a Snickers bar AND a nap… “Infantile Love For Batman Can Be Precursor To Fascism, Says Alan Moore” in a Guardian interview reported by Deadline.

…He said:

“I said round about 2011 that I thought that it had serious and worrying implications for the future if millions of adults were queueing up to see Batman movies. Because that kind of infantilisation – that urge towards simpler times, simpler realities – that can very often be a precursor to fascism.”

And he pointed out the time of Donald Trump’s election in 2016 coincided with superhero movies moving to the top of the worldwide box office.

Moore told the Guardian:

“Hundreds of thousands of adults [are] lining up to see characters and situations that had been created to entertain the 12-year-old boys – and it was always boys – of 50 years ago. I didn’t really think that superheroes were adult fare. I think that this was a misunderstanding born of what happened in the 1980s – to which I must put my hand up to a considerable share of the blame, though it was not intentional – when things like Watchmen were first appearing. There were an awful lot of headlines saying ‘Comics Have Grown Up’.

“I tend to think that, no, comics hadn’t grown up. There were a few titles that were more adult than people were used to. But the majority of comics titles were pretty much the same as they’d ever been. It wasn’t comics growing up. I think it was more comics meeting the emotional age of the audience coming the other way.”

(11) DRAWN THAT WAY. John Coulthart casts an admiring eye on old prozine illustrations in “Emshwiller illustrates Bester”.

… Before publication in book form, the story was serialised in four parts in Galaxy magazine, from October 1956 to January 1957; Ed “Emsh” Emshwiller illustrated each instalment as well as the cover of the debut issue. I’ve said before that one of the great benefits of being able to browse old magazines online is having the opportunity to turn up neglected illustrations like these. Bester’s novel has long been regarded as a genre classic—Michael Moorcock and William Gibson both refer to it as a favourite—but its print editions haven’t generated many memorable covers. Here we have Emshwiller illustrating the entire story, and doing an excellent job, yet his drawings have been buried for years….

(12) PULLMAN SERIES CONTINUES. HBO dropped this trailer for season 3 of His Dark Materials on Friday.

(13) PICARD SEASON 3. The Star Trek: Picard Teaser Trailer was shown at New York Comic Con 2022.

Get a closer look at Star Trek: Picard Season 3 in an all-new teaser that premiered at the Star Trek Universe panel at New York Comic Con 2022. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, and Michael Dorn of Star Trek: The Next Generation all return for one final high stakes mission.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/30/22 To Every Thing, TRON, TRON, TRON

(1) AUTHORS SIGN LETTER SUPPORTING INTERNET ARCHIVE LIBRARY IN LAWSUIT. Several genre authors, including Neil Gaiman, Cory Doctorow, Annalee Newitz, and Aimee Ogden signed an open letter opposing publishers’ lawsuit against the Internet Archive. “Neil Gaiman, Cory Doctorow And Other Authors Publish Open Letter Protesting Publishers’ Lawsuit Against Internet Archive Library”Deadline has the story.

A group of authors and other creative professionals are lending their names to an open letter protesting publishers’ lawsuit against the Internet Archive Library, characterizing it as one of a number of efforts to curb libraries’ lending of ebooks.

Authors including Neil Gaiman, Naomi Klein, and Cory Doctorow lent their names to the letter, which was organized by the public interest group Fight for the Future.

“Libraries are a fundamental collective good. We, the undersigned authors, are disheartened by the recent attacks against libraries being made in our name by trade associations such as the American Association of Publishers and the Publishers Association: undermining the traditional rights of libraries to own and preserve books, intimidating libraries with lawsuits, and smearing librarians,” the letter states.

…The letter also calls for enshrining “the right of libraries to permanently own and preserve books, and to purchase these permanent copies on reasonable terms, regardless of format,” and condemns the characterization of library advocates as “mouthpieces” for big tech.

“We fear a future where libraries are reduced to a sort of Netflix or Spotify for books, from which publishers demand exorbitant licensing fees in perpetuity while unaccountable vendors force the spread of disinformation and hate for profit,” the letter states.

…Author Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, was originally on the list of signatories to the letter but withdrew his name on Wednesday evening. No explanation was given, but some of his works are among those cited by the publishers in their lawsuit against Internet Archive….

(2) REMEMBER THE HYDRA CLUB. Here’s the famous (within fandom anyway) drawing of a meeting of the Hydra Club in New York City from the November 1951 issue of Marvel Science Fiction [Internet Archive] (via Roy Kettle).

The Hydra Club was a group of New York writers — Frederik Pohl was one of the nine heads who founded it. Dave Kyle says in “The Legendary Hydra Club” (Mimosa 25) that a banquet photo Life published was taken at the Hydras’ New York Science Fiction Conference of July 1-3, 1950. Hydras organized it and invited ESFA members to participate, too.

(3) DAYTON LITERARY PEACE PRIZE. The 2022 winners of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize have been announced. (The lone genre finalist wasn’t one of them.) Given for both fiction and nonfiction, the prize honors writers whose work uses the power of literature to foster peace, social justice, and global understanding. Each winner receives a $10,000 cash prize.

Fiction Winner

The Love Songs of W.E.B Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers (HarperCollins): This intimate yet sweeping novel, with all the luminescence and force of HomegoingSing, Unburied, and The Water Dancer, chronicles the journey of one American family from the centuries of the colonial slave trade through the Civil War to our own tumultuous era.

Nonfiction Winner

How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith (Little, Brown):   This compelling #1 New York Times bestseller examines the legacy of slavery in America—and how both history and memory continue to shape our everyday lives.

(4) SPSFC2 WINNING COVER. The administrator of the Self-Published Science Fiction Competiton posted a Q&A with the winners of the cover contest, author Dito Abbott and cover designer Kirk DouPonce from dogeareddesign.com and fictionartist.com

Kirk: I read and enjoyed Dito’s manuscipt, there was no lack of imagery to work from! The story is a bit on the complex side, what I had originally contemplated for the cover changed many times. Often I’m able to read a manuscript and have the concept solidified in my head before starting. But not this time. So many possible directions! At some point I remember looking at his map and thinking “well duh, there’s the cover”. The map art had the perfect whimsical flavor the story was begging for. Almost as if the artist knew the story intimately.

(5) A DIFFERENT CHEKHOV IN SPACE. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Sarah Hemming reviews a sf adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard which is playing at the Yard Theatre through October 22.

Vinay Patel’s inventive version pitches the story into the future.  Here the action unfolds o a spaceship spinning towards an elusive destination.  We are hundreds of years into the mission:  the ship is crewed by cloned humans (all of south Asian heritage) who never saw the E and various, now antiquated, bits of AI:  Firs, the ancient retainer of the original, has become Feroze, a glitchy android servant, brilliantly played by Hari Mackinnon.

The cherry orchard still exists, but in an arboretum.  It constitutes a link back to Earth, as does the ship’s rigid social hierarchy, which keeps the lower deck workers toiling in the dark.  But the mission has become sclerotic:  tensions are brewing between the decks, and the discovery of a nearly habitable planet brings everything to a head.  As in the original, pragmatic engineer Abinash Lenka (Lopakhin in Chekhov) urges Captain Ramesh to change course but ends by taking charge himself.

(6) GODSTALK! P. C. Hodgell will be signing at Uncle Hugo’s on Saturday, October 15, from 1-2 p.m. for Deathless Gods ($16.00), the 10th novel in the Chronicles of Kencyrath series.  

(7) HOIST BY THE PETARD THEY OWN. “NASA May Let Billionaire Astronaut and SpaceX Lift Hubble Telescope” reports the New York Times.

If you’ve got a telescope in danger of falling out of orbit, who are you going to call?

The United States Space Force? Nope.

NASA? Maybe not.

Billionaires? Apparently, that is indeed a possibility.

The billionaires in question are Elon Musk, the founder and chief executive of SpaceX, and Jared Isaacman, a technology entrepreneur who led an all-civilian trip to orbit in a SpaceX spacecraft last year.

NASA announced on Thursday that it and SpaceX had signed an agreement to conduct a six-month study to see if one of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsules could be used to raise the altitude of the Hubble Space Telescope, potentially further extending the lifetime of the 32-year-old instrument….

(8) ROUGH LANDING. Cora Buhlert writes, “Turns out that my Hugo rocket was also damaged [not just the base], because the tip is chipped, which I only noticed yesterday, when I took it from the shelf to show it off. I honestly wonder what you have to do to chip a piece of a Hugo rocket, considering they’re stainless steel.

I still had some fun with the damaged Hugo trophy and had my brand-new Flash Gordon, Phantom and Ming the Merciless (in the look of the Defenders of the Earth cartoon) action figures fight over the trophy, because it looks like something from a vintage Flash Gordon comic:

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

1966 [By Cat Eldridge.] Star Trek’s “Naked Time” aired 56 years ago yesterday in the USA on NBC. (Yeah I forgot. My bad.) it was the fourth episode of the first season and it was written by John D F Black who was given story credit idea when D C Fontana who the sequel, the Next Generation’s ‘The Naked Now”.

Surely everyone here knows the story of a strange, intoxicating infection, which lowers the crew’s inhibitions, spreads throughout the Enterprise. As the madness spreads, the entire ship is endangered. Really you have not watched it? You know it’s on Paramount +? 

Did you know this was the first appearance of the Vulcan nerve pinch? Though of course this being TV, it was actually filmed first in “The Enemy Within”, but “The Enemy Within” would be broadcast a week after “Naked Time” was. 

My favorite scene? Sulu’s half naked sword fight of course? However Takei had never use a sword at all so hurriedly learned to. He frequently mentions in interviews his much he likes his episode, saying it’s his favorite one, and devotes a entitle chapter on it in his autobiography.

It was meant to be a two-parter, with this episode ending with the Enterprise going back in time. The ending was revised so it would become a standalone episode. What would have been part two eventually became the episode, “Tomorrow is Yesterday”.

It is the only time Lt. Uhura, Yeoman Janice Rand and Nurse Christine Chapel all appear in the same episode.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 30, 1924 Elinor Busby, 98. In 1960, she became the first woman to win a Hugo Award for Best Fanzine editing at Pittcon for Cry of the Nameless along with F. M. Busby, Burnett Toskey and Wally Weber. She was awarded a Fan Activity Achievement Award for fan achievements, presented at Corflu in 2013. She was on the committee of Seacon (1961). Busby is noted in Heinlein’s Friday, and her husband is likewise in The Cat Who Walks Through Walls
  • Born September 30, 1931 — Angie Dickinson, 91. She was Dr. Layla Johnson in The Resurrection of Zachary Wheeler, the Dragon Queen in the genre adjacent Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen and Abbie McGee inThe Sun, the Moon and the Stars. 
  • Born September 30, 1932 — Antoinette Bower, 90. I’ll start off with her being Sylvia in the classic Trek episode of “Catspaw” written by Robert Bloch. She had a previous genre appearance in a Twilight Zone story, “Probe 7, Over and Out” in which she was Eva Nord. It’s a shaggy God story as so termed by Brian Aldiss. She also had one-offs in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.The Wild Wild WestMission: ImpossibleGet Smart and The Six Million Dollar Man.
  • Born September 30, 1947 — Michael I. Wagner. Though best remembered for his work on Hill Street Blues and deservedly so, he’s co-created with Isaac Asimov, produced and wrote several episodes for the one-season ABC series Probe. He provided the story for two episodes of Next Generation, “Bobby Trap” and “Evolution” and wrote another, “Survivor”. (Died 1992.)
  • Born September 30, 1950 — Laura Esquivel, 72. Mexican author of Como agua para chocolateLike Water for Chocolate in English. Magical realism and cooking with more than a small soupçon of eroticism. Seriously the film is amazing as is the book. ISFDB says she’s also written La ley del amor (The Law of Love) which I’ve not read.
  • Born September 30, 1951 — Simon Hawke, 71. Author of the quite superb Wizard of 4th Street series as Well as the TimeWars series.He has written Battlestar GalacticaTrekFriday the 13th, Predator and Dungeons & Dragons novels as well as the genre adjacent Shakespeare & Smythe mysteries which bear titles such as Much Ado About Murder
  • Born September 30, 1959 — Debrah Farentino, 63. She has a lead role in Earth 2 as Devon Adair, and she was the deliciously duplicitous Beverly Barlowe on Eureka.
  • Born September 30, 1960 — Nicola Griffith, 62. Writer, Essayist and Teacher. Her first novel was Ammonite which won the Tiptree and Lambda Awards and was a finalist for the Clarke and BSFA Awards, followed by The Blue PlaceStay, and Always, which are linked novels in the Ammonite universe featuring the character Aud Torvingen. In total, SFE has won the Washington State Book Award, Nebula Award, James Tiptree, Jr. Award, World Fantasy Award and six Lambda Literary Awards. Her novel Slow River won Nebula and Lambda Awards. With Stephen Pagel, she has edited three Bending the Landscape anthologies in each of the three genres FantasyScience Fiction, and Horror, the first of which won a World Fantasy Award. She latest novel is Spear which just came out. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in March 1993. She lives with her wife, author Kelley Eskridge, in Seattle.
  • Born September 30, 1972 — Sheree Renée Thomas, 50. Writer, Shotgun Lullabies: Stories & Poems and Sleeping Under the Tree of Life; Editor, Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora which won a World Fantasy Award, and Dark Matter: Reading the Bones which also won a World Fantasy Award. She’s also written a variety of poems and essays including “Dear Octavia, Octavia E. Butler, Ms. Butler, Mother of Changes”. In 2020, Thomas was named editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) THEY GO HARD. Ursula Vernon stands up for Waffle House. Thread starts here. A few of the tweets —

(13.5) HOCUS POCUS? BOGUS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] This Disney+ sequel seems to completely misunderstand the material of the 29-year old original. “Hocus Pocus 2 review – belated Halloween sequel is far from bewitching” in the Guardian. As the reviewer says:

At times it feels more like an extended, if joke-free, SNL skit than a real movie, giving us the iconography we want but without any of the soul, propulsion or bare necessity we need to go with it, something that exists because it could rather than should….

This coming Halloween, it’s likely that many families will be watching Hocus Pocus 2 together, excited by the prospect of a tradition shift. Next Halloween, I doubt they’ll be watching it again.

(14) MAKES YOU WANT TOSS. If the very thought of pumpkin spice makes you want to throw autumn-themed products away, here’s the bag to throw them in: “Limited Edition Hefty® Cinnamon Pumpkin Spice Ultra Strong™ Trash Bags”.

On September 30th, pumpkin spice enthusiasts can visit HeftyPumpkinSpice.com to purchase their own limited edition trash bags. Now, fall lovers can keep their pumpkin spice obsession going strong on this National Pumpkin Spice Day and beyond by giving their garbage the cozy fall upgrade they never knew they needed.

(15) EARTH R.F.D. [Item by Steven French.] From Physics World: photometric microlensing uses the magnification of light from background stars caused by gravitational lensing to detect exo-planets. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) we live too far out in the galactic ‘burbs where there are few background stars, for technologically adept aliens to spot the Earth. “Earth is ‘well-hidden’ from extraterrestrial civilizations hunting for habitable planets”.

… To have a good shot at spotting us, Kerins explained, an alien civilization would need to be positioned such that there were a lot of background stars behind us, as to give the Earth a good chance of deflecting the light from one. “The best position for an observer to be is right at the edge of our galaxy with us on a line of sight towards the galactic centre,” he noted, adding: “But there are very few stars at the edge of our galaxy and so presumably few observers.”…

(16) MARS ROCKS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Today’s issue of Science has a Mars cover story.

Two samples of rock (top and bottom holes) were collected by the Perseverance rover from this outcrop of the Séítah geologic formation in Jezero crater (see cover), Mars. Also visible are a discarded sample attempt (middle hole), a rock abrasion patch (lower left depression), and the rover’s tracks and shadow. Analysis of the Séítah formation shows that it consists of igneous rocks modified by liquid water

Primary research papers here.

The overall, bottom line conclusion of Perseverance’s explorations of the floor of Jezero crater explored by Perseverance consists of two distinct igneous units that have both experience reactions with liquid water. 

Second primary research paper here.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Nina Shepardson, Todd Mason, Steven French, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 9/14/22 Scroll Is The Mind-Killer. Scroll Is The Little File That Brings Total Pixelation

(1) WARNER BROS. BARS SHOWING OF ‘THE PEOPLE’S JOKER’. Polygon is there when “The People’s Joker, a hilarious trans riff on DC characters, shut down over ‘rights issues’” after a single screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, following a copyright and trademark infringement complaint by Warner Bros.

“This movie is not illegal. I just said that to get you to come.” So says Vera Drew, the writer-director-star-effects artist behind the queer Batman movie The People’s Joker. But before the film’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, Warner Bros. served a cease-and-desist order against the film anyway. Subsequent festival screenings have been canceled, leaving the future of The People’s Joker in doubt.

…Fanfiction might seem like an unlikely vehicle for real-life autobiography. But given how personal the relationship can get between fans and the pop culture they love, it makes sense that Vera, a passionate fan of the Bat-verse, would use the Joker’s character and lore to tell the story of her own transformation from a failed improv comedian into a gloriously unhinged trans agent of comedic chaos. The People’s Joker might even be called an act of comedic terrorism, if it wasn’t so damn sincere….

Here’s a video promoting the project: “Welcome to The People’s Joker”.

And here’s the teaser trailer:

(2) AMAZON SUED. “California sues Amazon over antitrust concerns” – the Washington Post has the story.

California sued Amazon on Wednesday, alleging that the company caused higher prices across the state and “stifled competition.”

Amazon penalizes sellers on its site if they offer products elsewhere for lowerprices, the state alleged. That makes it harder for others to compete, therefore entrenching Amazon’s market power, the state said in a press release announcing the lawsuit.

“For years, California consumers have paid more for their online purchases because of Amazon’s anticompetitive contracting practices,” state Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) said in a statement.

Amazon spokesman Alex Haurek said in a statement that the California attorney general “has it exactly backwards” and that “sellers set their own prices” on the website.

“Amazon takes pride in the fact that we offer low prices across the broadest selection, and like any store we reserve the right not to highlight offers to customers that are not priced competitively,” Haurek said in a statement. “The relief the AG seeks would force Amazon to feature higher prices to customers, oddly going against core objectives of antitrust law.”…

(3) FOR THOSE SCORING AT HOME. Kevin Standlee has posted a concise scorecard listing what happened to every Worldcon Business Meeting agenda item in “2022 WSFS Business Meeting Summary”.

Because people have asked for it multiple times, here is the shorter version of the 2022 Business Meeting Summary. You must have the 2022 WSFS Business Meeting Agenda in order for anything here to make sense, because I’m not going to list titles or try to summarize what each item is. If I did that (which I did already in my day-by-day summaries), this would be so long that people would complain that they wanted a summary of the summary.

(4) TOLKIEN DOWNCHECKED AGAIN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Stephen Bush discusses the legacy of JRR Tolkien and responds to criticism made by Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker.

…It is certainly true that any court seeking to convict Tolkien of great literature would struggle.  Unlike other fantasy authors, such as Michael Moorcock or Ursula Le Guin, his work provides little in the way of social or political commentary.  Nor will readers find characters in whom they see themselves or their own experiences, such as the schoolchildren in the Harry Potter books.  Or, indeed, much in the way of deep character work at all:  for the most part, existential doubt, moral complexity, sexual desire and ambiguous inter-personal relationships are in short supply in The Lord of the Rings.

But that same court would also struggle to convict Tolkien for devising the formula that Gopnik imputes to him.  The concept of a chosen one travelling through a ‘vaguely medieval’ world, aided and abetted by fantastical creatures, in search of some cosmic doodad (or, as the screenwriter and frequent Hitchcock collaborator Angus MacPhail called it, ‘a MacGuffin’) predates Tolkien.  The ‘Tolkien formula’ may be found in various retellings of the story of the Holy Grail.  To the extent that Tolkien deviates from that story, it is in the introduction of the dark lord Sauron.  But, given that in The Lord of the Rings we never hear Sauron speak, he never engages the heroes directly and his motivations are, in essence that he does evil things because he’s evil Sauron alone can hardly be seen as great innovation on the old story of the Holy Grail….

(5) STILL TALKING ABOUT TOLKIEN. Queer Lodgings: A Tolkien Podcast launched this week. Episode 1 is about “Intros”.

Grace hosts our ‘official’ first episodes with Alicia, Leah, and Tim, as they properly introduce themselves to the audience. Everyone recounts their history with Tolkien’s legendarium, and shares personal experiences and interactions with Tolkien fandom & scholarship. We wrap up with a summary of why ‘Queer Lodgings’ exists, some of our goals for the podcast, and tease some future episode topics – some intense, some decidedly more ‘fluffy’!

(6) FURRY SITE BANS AI ART. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Website Fur Affinity puts its foot (paw?) down regarding AI-generated art. Such works are now lumped in with other artwork judged to be lacking artistic merit and banned from the site. The furry site is not the first website to enact such a ban, though not all the prior ones are as strict. “Furry Fandom Site Bans All AI Art” reports Vice.

In a Sept. 5 policy update first spotted by journalist Andy Baio, Fur Affinity announced that artwork lacking “artistic merit,” which is banned from the site, now includes “submissions created through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) or similar image generators.” …

The update states: “AI and machine learning applications (DALL-E, Craiyon) sample other artists’ work to create content. That content generated can reference hundreds, even thousands of pieces of work from other artists to create derivative images. Our goal is to support artists and their content. We don’t believe it’s in our community’s best interests to allow AI generated content on the site.”

… As Baio also noted, several social art gallery sites have taken a stand against this groundswell of AI-generated art by banning it outright: Inkblot, a new site that just launched in open beta, has a zero tolerance policy on AI artworks, and Newgrounds, a social site for sharing animations and art that’s been around since 1995, banned AI art from its Art Portal feed, specifically forbidding anything made with ​​Midjourney, DALL-E, CrAIyon (formerly DALL-E Mini) and ArtBreeder. 

Newgrounds makes interesting concessions to allow it elsewhere on the platform, like on one’s own blog, but not on the Art Portal, where a flood of AI art could drown out other works….

(7) HEAR FROM THE LEGISLATOR OF STURGEON’S LAW. Fanac.org has posted a restored version of Scott Imes’ video of “Minicon 15 (1979)-Theodore Sturgeon Guest of Honor Speech, with intro by Toastmaster Bob Vardeman”.

Minicon 15 was held April 13-15, 1979 in Minneapolis, with Guests of Honor Theodore Sturgeon, Rick Sternbach and Tom Digby.

In this brief 16+ minute Guest of Honor speech, Sturgeon speaks about his experience at the “Jupiter Encounter” at JPL, seeing photos of Ganymede and Callisto for the first time. This is followed by a rumination on humanity, interwoven with his shaping of “Sturgeon’s Law,” and an exposition on his favored “Ask the Next Question” philosophy.  In this recording, you get a sense of the man himself. A lovely (and knowledgeable) intro by Bob Vardeman sets the stage.

Thanks to Geri Sullivan and the Video Archeology project for providing the recording.

(8) JEAN-LUC GODARD (1930-2022) French director Jean-Luc Godard died September 13 at age 91. One of his movies, Alphaville, is SF and coincidentally the only genre film ever to win the Golden Bear at the Berlin film festival: “Jean-Luc Godard, giant of the French New Wave, dies at 91” in the Guardian. An excerpt:

…Godard went on to make a string of seminal films in the 1960s at a furious rate. His next film, Le Petit Soldat, suggested the French government condoned torture, and it was banned until 1963, but it was also the film on which Godard met his future wife, Anna Karina, as well as coining his most famous aphorism, “Cinema is truth at 24 frames a second.” Other highlights included A Woman Is a Woman, a self-referential homage to the Hollywood musical, which again starred Karina, along with Belmondo and won more Berlin awards; the extravagant, epic film-about-film-making Contempt, with Michel Piccoli, Brigitte Bardot, Jack Palance and Fritz Lang; and Alphaville, a bizarre hybrid of film noir and science fiction….

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1968 [By Cat Eldridge.] Doctor Who’s “The Mind Robber” (The Second Doctor). I’ve not essayed a story of the Second Doctor before so this will be interesting to do. Let’s get at it. 

It was first broadcast in five weekly parts from September 14 to October 12, 1968 on BBC.  

The Second Doctor who was played by Patrick Troughton who, yes, was The Doctor for three seasons. He had two Companions here, Frazer Hines who played Jamie McCrimmon and Wendy Padbury who was Zoe Heriot. 

In a place where fiction is real, creatures such as Medusa and the Minotaur exist. The Master tries to have the Doctor replace him as the Storyteller there as he dying. Of course nothing is that simple… 

BBC says that this is indeed the first incarnation of The Master. Though their office timeline disputes that. 

Reception was decidedly mixed for it, but years later Charlie Jane Anders of io9 listed the cliffhanger to the first episode — in which the TARDIS breaks apart — as one of the greatest cliffhangers in the history of Doctor Who.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 14, 1941 Bruce Hyde. Patterns emerge in doing these Birthdays. One of these patterns is that original Trek had a lot of secondary performers who had really short acting careers. He certainly did. He portrayed Lt. Kevin Riley in two episodes, “The Naked Time” and “The Conscience of the King” and the rest of his acting career consisted of eight appearances, four of them as Dr. Jeff Brenner.  He acted for less than two years in ‘65 and ‘66, before returning to acting thirty-four years later to be in The Confession of Lee Harvey Oswald which is his final role. (Died 2015.)
  • Born September 14, 1944 Rowena Morrill. Well-known for her genre illustration, she is one of the first female artists to impact paperback cover illustration. Her notable works include The Fantastic Art of Rowena, Imagine (French publication only), Imagination (German publication only), and The Art of Rowena.  Though nominated for the Hugo four times, she never won, but garnered the British Fantasy Award, and the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. OGH’s obituary for her is here. (Died 2021.)
  • Born September 14, 1947 Sam Neill, 75. Best known for role of Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park which he reprised in Jurassic Park III. He was also in Omen III: The Final ConflictPossession, Memoirs of an Invisible ManSnow White: A Tale of TerrorBicentennial ManLegend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’HooleThe Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas BoxThor: Ragnarok and Peter Rabbit. 
  • Born September 14, 1950 Michael Reaves, 72. A scriptwriter and story editor to a number of Eighties and Nineties animated television series, including Batman: The Animated SeriesDisney’s Gargoyles He-Man and the Masters of the UniverseSmurfs Space Sentinels, Star Wars: Droids and The Transformers. Live action wise, he worked on Next GenerationSlidersSwamp Thing, original Flash and Young Hercules.  He also worked on two of my favorite animated Batman films, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman.
  • Born September 14, 1959 Mary Crosby, 63. One major role that I’ll get to at the end, and she certainly is present in genre series. First in Freddy’s Nightmares, twice as Greta Moss, then in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman as Monique, in the Trek universe on Deep Space Nine as Natima Lang in the “Profit and Loss” episode, and the major role was on The Ice Pirates as Princess Karina.
  • Born September 14, 1961 Justin Richards, 61. Clute at ESF says “Richards is fast and competent.” Well I can certain say he’s fast as he’s turned out thirty-five Doctor Who novels which Clute thinks are for the YA market between 1994 and 2016. And he has other series going as well! Another nineteen novels written, and then there’s the Doctor Who non-fiction which runs to over a half dozen works.  He writes mainly Doctor Who novels with thirteen, so from the Eighth through the Thirteenth Doctor so far, and  Creative Consultant for the BBC Books range of Doctor Who novels. He’s written novels with Professor Bernice Summerfield as the protagonist as well. And written more SF that aren’t Whovian than I possibly list here. One such series is, as EoSF notes is “the Invisible Detective sequence, beginning with The Paranormal Puppet Show (2003; vt Double Life 2004), consists in each case of two stories: one set in the 1930s, where the four young protagonists solve sf and fantasy mysteries; the other set in the contemporary world, where a parallel tale is told.”
  • Born September 14, 1972 Jenny T. Colgan, 50. Prolific writer of short stories in the Whovian universe with a baker’s dozen to date, several centered on River Song. She novelized “The Christmas Invasion”, the first full Tenth Doctor story. She has two genre novels, Resistance Is Futile and Spandex and the City. She contributed a story to the historical adventures inspired by Jodie Whittaker’s first series as The Doctor.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side knows how a man’s ideas about driving can get out of hand.

(12) THE ANSWER IS NOT NECESSARILY 42. Ars Technica chats with xkcd creator Randall Munroe about his next book: “What If? 2 is here with even more serious answers to your weird questions”.

Forget debating the airspeed velocity of an unladen African versus a European swallow. How many pigeons would it take to lift a person seated in a launch chair to the top of the Q1 skyscraper in Australia? Answer: You could probably manage this with a few tens of thousands of pigeons, as long as they don’t get spooked by a passing falcon or distracted by someone with a bag of seeds. That’s just one of many fascinating (and amusing) tidbits to be gleaned from What If? 2, the latest book from cartoonist and author Randall Munroe and the sequel to 2014’s bestselling What If?...

Ars Technica: Somehow people got into the habit of asking you these really weird, silly, sometimes impossible, implausible questions. And you started answering them. How exactly did that happen?

Randall Munroe: When I started drawing comics, I was surprised to learn there were so many people who were entertained by the same niche science ideas or funny applications of math to different problems—stuff I laughed at but I didn’t expect anyone else to. Then I put up these comics and found there are a whole bunch of people out there who think about stuff the way I do. That was really cool. But I definitely didn’t expect that people would start thinking of me as the person to settle arguments. I’d get these emails: “Hey, me and my friend have been arguing about this for a while now, and we don’t know how to answer the question. It feels like it’s not a good enough question to bother a real scientist with. But we both agreed you seemed like a great person to send it to.”

(13) JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter clicked off his TV long enough to report that on tonight’s episode of Jeopardy! – “There was an entire category, ‘Cons,’ dealing with SF, gaming and media cons, but I didn’t note any of the mistakes, except one contestant wrongly answered with a mispronunciation of Ursula K. Le Guin’s name before correcting it, too late.”

(14) STARSHIP TROPERS. “58 years ago, Star Trek created its worst trope — now, one character is fixing it” says Inverse.

In Star Trek: Lower Decks, the show’s upbeat Orion character — D’Vana Tendi — is often hit with in-universe prejudices informed by the earliest of Star Trek canon. (The green-skinned alien race appeared in the very first episode of Trek ever: the original pilot, “The Cage,” filmed way back in 1964.) In 2020, Noël Wells — the voice actress who helps bring Tendi’s character to animated life — admitted that some of these jokes went over her head. But not anymore. Now, she’s further into a performance that is bringing new life to one of Star Trek’s worst tropes: the seductive alien slave….

“We don’t always get to choose our mentors.”

Because Lower Decks is ostensibly focused on the activities of the lower-level crew members in Starfleet, it stands to reason that the careers of these underdogs can only go so far. And yet, this season is focused on Tendi training to become a legit science officer in the mold of Jadzia Dax or Spock. In Season 3 Episode 3, “Mining the Mind’s Mines,” Tendi is evaluated by the ship’s bird-like counselor, Dr. Migleemo (Paul F. Tompkins), about her ability to assert herself in big, high-stakes situations.

It’s the kind of personal growth storyline that pervades much of Star Trek, with echoes of TNG episodes like “Coming of Age,” and “Thine Own Self.” Eventually, Tendi draws strength not from Migleemo’s advice, but from her cankerous former boss, Dr. T’Ana (Gillian Vigman), who is literally a cranky cat….

(15) MORE GOOD STUFF. We linked to another post about this artist recently, however, Colossal’s photo gallery of Greg Olijnyk’s work is highly impressive: “A Cast of Articulate Cardboard Robots Populate a Growing Sci-Fi Universe Crafted by Greg Olijnyk”.

Detail of “Escher Cube,” cardboard, 50 square centimeters

(16) MISTAKES WERE MADE. “Asking the Public to Name Probe to Uranus May Have Been a Mistake” says Futurism.

A space exploration enthusiast account on Twitter asked the internet to name an upcoming mission to the planet Uranus, in what almost feels like a setup for a punch line, considering the public’s endless interest in potty humor and butt-related puns….

There’s actually no Uranus mission on the boards at this time. ScienceAlert explains why names were solicited, and why they think it didn’t go all that badly: “The Internet Was Asked to Name A Probe For Uranus. Here’s How That Went Down”.

Asking the internet to name a scientific mission has become something of a tradition, but we think even the bravest might quail at a recent ask on Twitter.

An unofficial Twitter account promoting future missions to our Solar System’s ice giants, Ice Giant Missions, requested suggestions for what to name a probe sent to Uranus.

Given the potential puns that are inevitably attached to Uranus, this is dangerous territory, even beyond the expected “Something McSomethingface”. That, of course, was among the top answers, but with ground as fertile as Uranus, why flog a dead horse?

Surprisingly, however, the butt jokes appear to be in the minority, with many respondents taking the question in good faith, and answering accordingly.

A mission to Uranus is not currently in development, but nor is it entirely a pipe dream. Missions have been sent, by now, to most planets in the Solar System. MercuryVenusMarsJupiter, and Saturn have all been visited and surveyed by dedicated probes. Even Jupiter’s moons are getting a mission.

The ice giants, on the other hand, have been somewhat neglected. Earlier this year, this led a panel of experts from the US National Academies to recommend a mission to Uranus in its decadal report to NASA.

(17) WHO ANIMATIONS SUSPENDED AS MONEY RUNS OUT. “Doctor Who director addresses animations hiatus: ‘This is it for us’” at RadioTimes.

Doctor Who animation director Gary Russell has addressed the looming hiatus for reconstructions of lost stories, following news that BBC America will no longer co-finance these projects.

Earlier this year, it was reported that the loss of funding would mean that no further animated projects would be commissioned – though RadioTimes.com understands that future productions could yet go ahead if BBC Studios secures another partner.

Since 2006, a number of Doctor Who stories that are either entirely or partially missing from the archives have been recreated with new animated visuals being matched to the existing soundtracks. The work has been completed by a number of different teams, most recently Big Finish Creative….

(18) LEARNING CURVE. This YA fantasy adaptation, directed by Paul Feig, is coming to Netflix in October: “The School for Good and Evil”.

Do you ever wonder where every great fairytale begins? Welcome to the School for Good and Evil…

(19) A LOT TO THINK ABOUT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Math-loving fans should know about this Netflix documentary “A Trip to Infinity”.

Eminent mathematicians, particle physicists and cosmologists dive into infinity and its mind-bending implications for the universe.

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

Pixel Scroll 8/21/22 Of Dyson Spheres And Birthdays Best Told Fresh

(1) ON SAIL. Walter Jon Williams gets reacquainted with his 25-year-old self in “Onward Into the Past”.

Back in April Kathy and I drove the three and a half hours to Portales for the 45th Jack Williamson Lecture, and had to figure out how we were going to entertain ourselves for the long drive across the Llano Estecado. Kathy suggested we listen to the audio book of To Glory Arise, the first of my Privateers & Gentlemen books. I’d met Kathy more than ten years after saying goodbye to that series, and she’d never read them, so she was coming to them fresh.

So we listened to the book driving out and back, and were entertained by the book and Bronson Pinchot’s excellent reading of it. I found the book so entertaining that I’ve been listening to the rest of them as they’ve been released, though the reason I was so entertained was peculiar to me— reviewing that series was a way of re-discovering my twenty-five-year-old self, the person who wrote that series, a person who is not quite the man I am today.

I was surprised by how much time and energy I devoted to the psychological dimensions of my characters. I mean, I certainly knew the psychological element was there— I considered it a selling point of the series that it wasn’t about two-dimensional action heroes, but instead characters of some complexity. But there ended up being more pages devoted to psychology than I remembered, and I think more pages than the characters actually warranted. I did not understand the concept of enough. I was inclined to say the same things over and over. I wish I’d had editors who told me that….

(2) A RISING TIDE LIFTS ALL BOATS. “Game of Thrones effect fires up reissues of ‘lost’ fantasy fiction classics” in the Guardian.

It is a lyrical, beautiful fantasy story about a mythical beast who sets out on a quest into a world that no longer believes in her to find out if she is truly the last of her kind.

Published in 1968, The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle spawned an animated movie 40 years ago and is a cherished novel that appeals to children and adults alike. But it’s not surprising if you haven’t heard of it. It hasn’t been published in the UK for half a century.

This week it is finally being reissued, the latest in a string of classic fantasy novels to find a new audience thanks to the prevalence of the genre on TV and the big screen….

As well as Beagle’s novel, other writers’ work is being reissued, including John M Ford’s novels The Dragon Waiting and Growing Up Weightless, Hope Mirrlees’s 1926 faerie fantasy Lud-In-The-Mist, and Antonia Barber’s The Ghosts, while books such as the Arabic fantasy The Tale of Princess Fatima, Warrior Woman, and Japanese author Yukio Mishima’s delightfully weird Beautiful Star have recently had their first ever English-language publications.

(3) FRIENDS. “Supporters, Opponents Weigh in on Internet Archive Copyright Battle” at Publishers Weekly is a collection of excerpts from the amicus briefs filed on behalf of both sides.

Is the Internet Archive’s program to scan and lend copies of print library books under an untested legal theory known as controlled digital lending (CDL) wholesale piracy? Or is it a carefully considered and legal effort to preserve the mission of libraries in a digital world that is moving away from ownership to licensed access? With Summary Judgment motions now filed in a closely-watched lawsuit filed by four major publishers over the Internet Archive’s scanning program, stakeholders on both sides of the case are weighing in with amicus briefs….

(4) BRAN SPANKIN’ WORDS. Jesse Sheidlower of the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction (HDSF) begins a new Boing Boing series, “Updating the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction”.

…Of course, the most important feature is the continued addition of new entries. Since the launch, we have continued to unearth new information, and we are excited to be able to share it with readers. The over 200 new entries (as of this writing) include accidental omissions (Vulcan); terms from proto-SF (space senses of fleetbattleship, and warship, all from around 1900); and genuinely recent entries that came to prominence after the original project began (cli-fi (2009), murderbot (2006), Nnedi Okorafor’s Africanfuturism (2018))….

… Yet the majority of the new entries are simply common SF terms that never made it into the original: cityship (1953), doppel (1981), the proto-SF ether ship (1883), ion gun (1935), the fandom word kipple (1960), pseudopod (1929), skin job (in an original (1958) and a Blade Runner sense (1981)), star liner (1932), timequake (1954)….

(5) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1985 [By Cat Eldridge.] Since I mentioned yesterday Ursula Le Guin’s Always Coming Home when I talked about Austin Wright Tappin’s Islandia yesterday, let’s have a conversation about Always Coming Home tonight. 

At one thousand and fifty-five pages, the Library of America edition of Always Coming Home is almost exactly the same length as the printed version of Islandia. Le Guin commented upon Islandia that it is “not a great book perhaps, but a singularly durable one, and a durably singular one. There is nothing else in all literature like Islandia.”

Now I will argue Always Coming Home is quite unlike anything else she wrote as it is not really a work of fiction but rather an anthropology of a people that don’t yet exist. It was published thirty-seven years ago and labeled a novel, but I that reject that label as Le Guin, the daughter of anthropologist, has here created the only true genre work of future anthropology ever done.

She lets the Kesh, the people that Pandora, the documentarian from the other civilization, is studying largely speak for themselves. So we as the observers are learning about them through a collage of their mythologies, poetry and their stories. All in an ethnographic approach.

There is a piece of fiction, a central novella, with the story of a woman called Stonetelling who leaves the valley to live with her father’s people, the Condor. That has Stonetelling reflecting upon her people. 

The end of the Always Coming Home contains additional information about the Kesh in more traditional ethnographic form. And there are maps as well. Quite fascinating maps.

The first edition, the trade paper in the slip case, had music too. It was called the Music and Poetry of the Kesh, featuring ten musical pieces and three poetry performances by Todd Barton. 

The book contains a hundred original illustrations by Margaret Chodos. 

The expanded edition released by Library of America is available from the usual suspects. I’ve decided to include the original cover here. 

Lest you ask, yes, I like it a lot.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 21, 1888 Miriam Allen deFord. Almost all of her genre fiction was published at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction under the editorship of Anthony Boucher. It can be found in two collections, Xenogenesis and Elsewhere, Elsewhen, Elsehow. Her “A Death in the Family” story was adapted in Night Gallery‘s second season. Other than a few short stories, nothing’s available digitally by her. (Died 1975.)
  • Born August 21, 1911 Anthony Boucher. I’m now reading The Case of The Crumpled Knave, one of his superb mysteries. Really great read. The Compleat Boucher: The Complete Short Science Fiction and Fantasy of Anthony Boucher is a most excellent read, but it’s not an epub yet. The Case of The Crumpled Knave, The Compleat Werewolf and Other Stories of Fantasy and Science Fiction are available digitally and a lot are at the usual suspects. (Died 1968.)
  • Born August 21, 1937 Arthur Thomson. Fanzine writer and editor and prolific artist known as ATom. Artist for the well-known Hyphen zine, he won the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund in 1964 and visited the States. He was nominated five times for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist, but never won. After Thomson won the 2000 Rotsler Award, it was decided not to present the Rotsler posthumously again. (Died 1990.)
  • Born August 21, 1943 Lucius Shepard. Life During Wartime is one seriously weird novel. And his World Fantasy Award winning The Jaguar Hunter is freaking amazing as are all his short collections. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 21, 1956 Kim Cattrall, 66. Gracie Law in John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China. Fantastic film! She also played Justine de Winter in The Return of the Musketeers, Paige Katz in Wild Palms, Lieutenant Valeris in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and Linday Isley in Good v. Evil. Series-wise, she was in one offs in Tales of the Gold MonkeyLogan’s RunThe Incredible Hulk and The Outer Limits (rebooted version of course). 
  • Born August 21, 1957 John Howe 65. Canadian book illustrator who’s worked on many a project, of which the Peter Jackson Hobbit films are the ones we’ll know best and which he did with Alan Lee, but he’s also done a number of endeavors including a limited edition of George R. R. Martin’s novel A Clash of Kings which was released by Meisha Merlin, A Diversity of Dragons by Anne McCaffrey and A Middle-Earth Traveler: Sketches from Bag End to Mordor.
  • Born August 21, 1966 Denise Mina, 56. Genre wise, she’s best known for having written thirteen issues of Hellblazer. Her two runs were “Empathy is the Enemy” and “The Red Right Hand”.  ISFDB lists The Dead Hour as genre but it’s very much not. Excellent novel but think rather in the vein of Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels.
  • Born August 21, 1966 Carrie-Anne Moss, 56. I first saw her as Tara McDonald in the Dark Justice series. Not genre, just her first video I think. Playing Monica Howard in the “Feeding the Beast” episode of Forever Knight was her first genre role. Oddly enough her next role was as Liz Teel in the Canadian series called Matrix which has nothing to do with the Matrix film franchise where she’s Trinity. And she’s been playing Jeryn Hogarth in the Netflix based Marvel Universe.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) WAS 1970 THE WORST IN SCI FI CINEMA? [Item by Olav Rokne.] Going through the Hugo finalists year by year in order. And oof, 1971’s shortlist was difficult to get through. We even dug through the other movies and TV shows that were eligible that year, and the fact that I don’t think Hugo nominators could have done a better job on that shortlist is an indictment of SF cinema at that time. “Possibly The Worst Year In Sci-Fi Cinema” at The Hugo Book Club Blog.

… Expressing a sentiment that was common at the time, John Baxter wrote: “Written SF is usually radical in politics and philosophy; SF cinema, like the comic strips, endorses the political and moral climate of its day.” While we’d suggest that Baxter was a little too generous towards prose SF, having watched and listened to the 1971 shortlist, it’s clear that there’s some merit in his indictment of screen offerings.

The shortlist was an eclectic one in some ways. It had one theatrically released American movie (Colossus: The Forbin Project), one television movie (Hauser’s Memory), one British movie (No Blade of Grass) one spoken-word comedy album (Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers) and one prog rock concept album (Blows Against the Empire)…

(9) REFRESH AND RELOAD. The School Library Journal believes in “refreshing the canon” and offers this “Refreshing the Canon Booklist”. Click on the title of a famous classic and you’ll be led to a list of newer suggested readings.

George Orwell’s modeling of a totalitarian society in 1984 has long been a staple of the summer reading canon. As an alternative, consider these seven titles that feature dystopian, futuristic, and repressive societies—and teens who fight back.

  • Adeyemi, Tomi. Children of Blood and Bone. Holt. ISBN 9781250170972.
  • Anderson, M.T. Feed. Candlewick. ISBN 9780763662622.
  • Bacigalupi, Paolo. Ship Breaker. Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316056199.
  • Cameron, Sharon. The Forgetting. Scholastic. ISBN 9780545945219.
  • Dimopoulos, Elaine. Material Girls. Houghton Harcourt. ISBN 9780544388505
  • Higuera, Donna Barba. The Last Cuentista. Levine Querido. ISBN 9781646140893. 
  • Jian, Ma. China Dream. Random/Vintage. ISBN 9781640092402.

(10) AH, SWEET MYSTERY OF LIFE, AT LAST I’VE FOUND THEE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A look at the first episode of She-Hulk: Attorney At Law (Disney+) is filled with spoilers for that show and with (some would say) TMI about Steve Rogers’ love life. “She-Hulk post-credits finally solve an incredible Captain America mystery” at Inverse.

…Though Jennifer is related by blood to a famous Avenger, Bruce hasn’t spilled every secret about Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. In the first episode of She-Hulk: Attorney At Law, a post-credits scene continues a joke planted early in the episode about Jennifer and her crush on Captain America….

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

Pixel Scroll 8/20/22 When I Scroll Alone, I Prefer To Be By Myself

(1) CON CELEBRITY GUEST CHARGED. Yahoo! reports “Gary Busey Charged for Two Counts of Criminal Sexual Contact in New Jersey”. Last weekend the actor was a celebrity guest at the Monster-Mania Convention in Cherry Hill.  

Gary Busey is facing four charges, including two counts of criminal sexual contact in the fourth degree, by the police department of Cherry Hill, N.J. The actor was visiting the town during the weekend of Aug. 12 to Aug. 14 to attend the Monster-Mania Convention at the Doubletree Hotel.

During the time of the convention, Cherry Hill police responded to a report of a sex offense at the Doubletree Hotel. After investigating the incident, detectives charged the 78-year-old actor on four offenses: two counts of criminal sexual contact in the fourth degree, one count of attempting criminal sexual contact in the fourth degree and one disorderly conduct count of harassment. The Cherry Hill Police Department has declined to provide further details regarding the incident at this time.

The Monster Mania committee wrote on Facebook today:

Monster-Mania is assisting authorities in their investigation into an alleged incident involving attendees and a celebrity guest at its convention in Cherry Hill, New Jersey last weekend. Immediately upon receiving a complaint from the attendees, the celebrity guest was removed from the convention and instructed not to return. Monster-Mania also encouraged the attendees to contact the police to file a report.

The safety and well-being of all our attendees is of the utmost importance to Monster-Mania, and the company will not tolerate any behavior that could compromise those values. Monster-Mania will continue to assist the authorities in any and every way possible.

(2) MILFORD, CLARION, AND OTHERS. S. L. Huang dives into sff history to find “The Ghost of Workshops Past: How Communism, Conservatism, and the Cold War Still Mold Our Paths Into SFF Writing” at Tor.com. Huang is especially interested in questions such as why “Milford would fail more often for writers of color or other minority students in the workshop.”

…Part 4. From Iowa to Bread Loaf to Milford to Clarion   

I traced this method of workshopping from Iowa to the early years of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and from Bread Loaf to Milford, which was the first writing conference dedicated to SFF. The Milford Writers’ Conference was founded by Damon Knight, Judith Merril, and James Blish in 1956, smack in the middle of Engle’s red-hot zeitgeist. There’s no indication the founders knew any of the politics attached to the expansion of those workshop methods—it’s likely they sourced the format from a colleague and figured this was the way workshopping was done.

Thanks to Engle, it was how workshopping was done. By the 1950s, almost nothing else would have existed to provide another model.

Milford was founded as a conference between peers, not as a program to teach newer writers. A decade later, in 1967, Robin Scott Wilson (who, in what appears to be an unrelated coincidence, used to work for the CIA), came and asked for assistance in starting a more beginner SFF workshop for the college campus on which he taught. He recruited much-needed help from Damon Knight and from Knight’s fellow author and by-then wife Kate Wilhelm.

None of the three had any prior knowledge about how to teach writing, other than by trying to adapt what they had been using at Milford. In Wilhelm’s Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, in which she details the very beginnings of Clarion, she confesses, “Neither Damon nor I had had teaching experience, and we were learning by trial and error what was effective and what was not.” It’s a sentiment echoed by Wilson, the only one of them who was an active professor at the time: “[A] condition of my employment was that I organize a writers’ workshop. I did not know how to do this. I did not know anybody who knew how to do this…”

… Oh, but Clarion’s methods work, an objector might point out, citing the rave reviews or the substantial number of people who credit a workshop on their ramp toward publication.

I don’t think that’s wrong. Clarion’s methods work…for the people they work for. I don’t want us not to have those methods. I want there to be more. More choice, more diversity, to nurture all types of voices and minds and pens.

My intent is not to criticize Wilson and Knight and Wilhelm for experimenting, but to emphasize the opposite—we should experiment more, in our own generation! Fifty years after Clarion’s founders built something new, it’s on us keep moving forward….

(3) WHAT WAS REVEALED DURING THE DOJ / PRH TRIAL. “A Trial Put Publishing’s Inner Workings on Display. What Did We Learn?” in the New York Times.

Lawyers for the Department of Justice and for Penguin Random House delivered their closing argument on Friday in a case that will determine whether the publisher, the country’s largest, can buy one of its rivals, Simon & Schuster.

The case, which will be decided in the fall by Judge Florence Y. Pan, focused on the effects of consolidation on publishing, an industry that has already been dramatically reshaped by mergers in recent years.

The government sued to stop the deal on antitrust grounds, saying it would diminish competition among the biggest houses and push down advances for some authors. Bertelsmann, the parent company of Penguin Random House, argued the deal would bring its supply chain and distribution muscle to a longer list of authors, to their benefit, and that the industry is large and varied, made up of many important players beyond the biggest firms. Judge Pan expressed skepticism over several of Penguin Random House’s main arguments.

Beyond the legal debate, the three-week trial offered an unusual glimpse into the world of publishing, offering observers a parade of high-profile publishing executives, agents and authors speaking frankly and on the record about how books are made.

Here is some of what we learned….

What books drive the industry’s profits?

By most measures, publishing is thriving. In any given year, hundreds of publishers in the United States release around 60,000 books. From 2012 to 2019, print book sales grew by more than 20 percent, from nine billion to 11 billion, Mr. Dohle testified. And book sales were strong during the pandemic, rising by another 20 percent from 2019 to 2021, he said.

But the trial highlighted a surprising fact: A minuscule percentage of books generate the vast majority of profits.

During their testimony, Penguin Random House executives said that just 35 percent of books the company publishes are profitable. Among the titles that make money, a very small sliver — just 4 percent — account for 60 percent of those profits.

“That’s how risky our business is,” Mr. Dohle said. “It’s the books that you don’t pay a lot for and become runaway best sellers.”

The trial offered examples of books that publishers paid a relatively small amount for, and that turned out to be a great hit. Sally Kim, the publisher of the Penguin Random House imprint Putnam, said they acquired “Where the Crawdads Sing” for “mid-six figures.” That book has gone on to sell around 15 million copies worldwide.

The issue is industrywide, and has been exacerbated by the rise of online retail, which tends to reinforce the visibility of best sellers. In 2021, fewer than one percent of the 3.2 million titles that BookScan tracked sold more than 5,000 copies.

(4) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1883 [By Cat Eldridge.] So today is the birthday of Austin Tappan Wright who was born in 1883. He died at the young age of forty-eight as a result of an automobile accident near Santa Fe, New Mexico, on September 18, 1931. During his lifetime, he published just one work of fiction, the “1915?” short story in the Atlantic Monthly for April 1915. In 1981 in the Elsewhere anthology, Mark Arnold and Terri Windling published An Islandian Tale: The Story of Alwina.

Islandian kinds of love are noted by Ursula K. Le Guin in her Always Coming Home novel, though she only mentions three of the four kinds which are ania (desire for marriage and commitment), apia (sexual attraction) and alia (love of place and family land and lineage). The fourth is amia which is love of friends. 

Did you know that Islandia wasn’t published when he was alive? His widow edited his forty years long working obsession, err hobby, project that resulted in her twenty-eight hundred page long, well, what we would know as the Islandia novel if it had been published but it wasn’t, and following her own death in 1937, their daughter Sylvia further edited and cut that text drastically. The resulting draft, only a thousand pages long, shorn of Wright’s extensive appendices, was published in 1942, along with a pamphlet by Basil Davenport, An introduction to Islandia; its history, customs, laws, language, and geography, based on the original supplementary material

Is there a full, unedited version? Yes, there is. The complete and never-published version of Islandia can be found in the Houghton Library at Harvard University. A scan of the original typed manuscript and a detailed map of Islandia are available on the Harvard Library website.

It details an extensive Utopian fantasy about an imaginary country he called Islandia located near Antarctica (if I remember correctly) with a complex history, culture and geography, said to be in scope to Tolkien’s writings of Middle-earth. I personally do not think that is valid comparison, but it is certainly a most interesting read though nowhere near as interesting as what Tolkien created. 

Now that might have been the end of the fiction based on Wright’s extensive notes and such but along came three authorized sequels by Mark Saxton who most people know for being responsible editing the papers of Austin Wright Tappan into Islandia. With the permission of the daughter, he set his last three novels in that fictional Utopian realm. It is for these that he is now remembered. 

The first, The Islar was published in 1969 as a modern-day sequel to the original novel. The two others, The Two Kingdoms and Havoc in Islandia, one published a decade later and one three years after, both take place much earlier in the kingdom’s history. All three were written off of Wright’s extensive background notes. 

He planned on more, but the daughter died and the Estate revoked him writing more. He’s since died and no one else has showed interest in writing novels based off these writings. 

I also found by Richard N. Farmer, Islandia Revisited: A Sequel By Other Hands which he claims to be a sequel to Islandia. No, it’s not authorized, and I cannot figure why it’s still in existence.

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 20, 1932 Anthony Ainley. He was the fourth actor to play the role of the Master, and the first actor to portray the Master as a recurring role since the death of Roger Delgado in 1973. He appeared in eleven stories with the Fourth through Seventh Doctors.  It is noted that he enjoyed the role so much that sources note he even stayed in character when not portraying The Master by using both the voice and laugh in social situations. (Died 2004.)
  • Born August 20, 1943 Sylvester McCoy, 79. The Seventh Doctor (my second favorite of the classic Who Doctors after Baker) and the last canon Doctor until the modern era of the official BBC Doctors when they revised canon. He also played Radagast in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films, he’s The Old Man of Hoy in Sense8 and he voices Aezethril the Wizard in the “Endgame” episode of Thunderbirds Are Go
  • Born August 20, 1951 Greg Bear, 71. Blood Music which won a Nebula Award, and a Hugo Award at L.A. Con II (1984) in its original novelette form is a amazing read. His novels Moving Mars and Darwin’s Radio are also Nebula winners, and he has other short fiction award winners. I’m also very fond of the Songs of Earth and Power duology, The Infinity Concerto and The Serpent Mage, and found his Queen of Angels a fascinating mystery. He’s deeply stocked at the usual suspects. 
  • Born August 20, 1961 Greg Egan, 61. Australian writer who does exist though he does his damnedest to avoid a digital footprint. His excellent Permutation City won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and “Oceanic” garnered a Best Novella Hugo at Aussiecon Three. I assume he wasn’t there given his stance again attending Worldcons? And He’s won a lot of Ditmar Awards.
  • Born August 20, 1962 Sophie Aldred, 60. She’s Ace, the Seventh Doctor’s Companion. (By the way Doctor Who Magazine: Costume Design: Dressing the Doctor from William Hartnell to Jodie Whittaker is a brilliant read and has a nice look at her costuming.) She’s reprised the role in the Big Finish audio adventures, and she’s recently written Doctor Who: At Childhood’s End where Ace meets the Thirteenth Doctor. born 1962, aged sixty years.
  • Born August 20, 1963 Justina Vail Evans, 59. Olga Vukavitch in Seven Days, a series I thought was extremely well-crafted. She shows up in other genre undertakings such as Super ForceConanJourney to The Center of The EarthThe Adventures of SuperboyThe X-FilesCarnosaur 3: Primal Species, Conan and Highlander: The Series

(6) COMICS SECTION.

  • Dinosaur Comics finds the connection between Anne of Green Gables and Back to the Future.

(7) YOU BE THE JUDGE. The Onion’s satirical review of “the seven-volume Chronicles Of Buckeye” says “Underwhelming Fantasy Novel Starts With Map Of Ohio” – a map which includes John Scalzi’s hometown. The review seems to have nothing else to do with him. But do you believe in coincidences?

(8) HOLEY SHEET. CrimeReads’ Keth Roysdon talks about “ghost shows,” a now-forgotten horror-tinged vaudeville entertainment of the 1940s. “The Lost History of America’s Traveling ‘Ghost Shows’”.

…True ghost shows were an evening’s worth of entertainment. Usually starting not long before midnight, these shows were staged in a movie theater and combined a magic act (with an emphasis on horror-tinged magic like swords through comely assistants) and a live-action horror skit (Frankenstein’s monster lurching around the stage) and a blackout period (in which phosphorescent-painted “ghosts” were flown on wires over the heads of the audience) and, usually starting at midnight, a screening of a classic or not-so-classic old black-and-white horror film….

(9) BALLET NEWS. [By Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Laura Chapelle reviews a new production of Léo Delibes’s Coppélia (which, remember, is about a doll that comes to life) by the Scottish Ballet (scottishballet.org.uk) in a version by Morgann Runacre-Temple and Jessica Wright “also known as Jess and Morgs.”

Dr Coppelius, once a lonely doll maker, is recast here as a babyfaced tech guru in a turtleneck, founder and chief executive of a company called NuLife.  He gets a visit from journalist Swanhlda, who questions him about his ethical negligence.  Their conversations happen in voiceover while the dancers attempt, and don’t quite manage, to act them out credibly.  Soon enough, Swanhilda finds herself wandering the halls of NuLife, encountering the company’s many lab creatures and, at one point, turning into one.  (How?  Don’t ask.)…

….It’s lo-fi dramaturgy that trips up this Coppélia.  In the 19th-century libretto, Swannhilda had a fiance, Franz, who became obsessed with a doll.  Jess and Morgs have contrived an improbable storyline to keep him around:  the 21st-century Franz shows up with his journalist girlfriend to her work event, holding her hand throughout.  The two open and close the ballet, but their relationship has no context or substance.

(10) CROWLEY’S ADVICE ABOUT READING THIS BOOK. In the Boston Review, John Crowley reviews an sf novel from Denmark — The Employees: A Workplace Novel of the 22nd Century, by Olga Ravn, translated from the Danish by Martin Aitken – “Science Fiction as Poetry”.

…Its premises are familiar Science Fiction ones: it centers a great spaceship, called The Six Thousand Ship, built to reach far planets around other suns, discover new beings, and return to Earth with treasure. The wondrous new planet of this book is called New Discovery. The planet’s Earth-like geography—of forests, warm valleys, regular nights and days—belies the fact that it is home to some very unearthly beings—the so-called “objects” that the crew collect to bring home to Earth. But The Employees contains nothing like a conventional narrative, and the reader must piece together most of this on their own. Instead, the focus of the book—and its unusual form—are made clear by Ravn’s subtitle: “A Workplace Novel of the 22nd Century.”…

(11) MOTHER’S LITTLE HELPER. “TWO Asteroids May Have Killed Off the Dinosaurs, Scientists Say”. Mike Kennedy notes this story is behind a Popular Mechanics firewall except via the Apple News app.

A newly-discovered crater 250 miles off the coast of West Africa could have been formed by a large asteroid strike. 

The probable timing of this potential asteroid strike could make it a “sibling” of the dinosaur-killing Chicxulub asteroid hit. 

Researchers hope to investigate the crater to gain more precise clues into the timing of the likely impact. 

Scientists have long believed the Chicxulub asteroid smacked Earth near the Gulf of Mexico, causing about a 100-million-megaton blast devastating enough to erase the dinosaurs from Earth. That burst created a short-lived thermal pulse in excess of 10,000 degrees, which is certainly lethal enough to have destroyed nearby life. But the massive asteroid may have had some help from a second “sibling” asteroid, scientists say. 

More than five miles in diameter beneath the North Atlantic Ocean, the newly-discovered Nadir Crater lies about 250 miles off the coast of West Africa—and researchers believe that the asteroid that may have caused it about 66 million years ago could have been that dino-killing helper. There are two prevailing theories about this second asteroid, according to a new study, published August 17 in Science Advances: that the asteroid may have been a broken-off piece of the Chicxulub asteroid, or that it was a wholly separate asteroid from an impact cluster…. 

(12) DATLOW Q&A. Terrifying Tomes of Terror presents “Episode XIIII: Publishing Anthologies with Ellen Datlow (Special Guest Co-Host Laurel Hightower)”.

I am joined by former Guest, Laurel Hightower, as my Guest Co-Host talking to the indomitable Ellen Datlow, Award-Winning Editor of over 100 Anthologies! Ellen takes us through her career in one of the most fascinating conversations I’ve had.

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

Pixel Scroll 8/12/22 The Hamster, My Friend, Is Scrolling In The Solar Wind

(1) RUSHDIE HOSPITALIZED AFTER ATTACK. Salman Ruhdie was attacked and stabbed at least twice while speaking onstage this morning in upstate New York. He was airlifted to a hospital and taken to surgery. The CNN story says:

The suspect jumped onto the stage and stabbed Rushdie at least once in the neck and at least once in the abdomen, state police said. Staff and audience members rushed the suspect and put him on the ground before a state trooper took the attacked into custody, police said.

… Henry Reese, co-founder of the Pittsburgh nonprofit City of Asylum, who was scheduled to join Rushdie in discussion, was taken to a hospital and treated for a facial injury and released, state police said. The organization was founded to “provide sanctuary in Pittsburgh to writers exiled under threat of persecution,” according to the Chautauqua Institution’s website.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul told reporters Friday a state trooper “stood up and saved (Rushdie’s) life and protected him as well as the moderator who was attacked as well.

The story did not have an update about Rushdie’s condition.

There is now an update from Publishing Perspectives:

Salman Rushdie’s agent, Andrew Wylie, has told The New York Times’ Elizabeth A. Harris, “The news is not good. Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.”

Wylie’s information, emailed to Harris, is the first description of the condition of the author following surgery….

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports “Stabbing sends ripples of ‘shock and horror’ through the literary world.”

Literary figures and public officials said that they were shocked by the news that the author Salman Rushdie had been stabbed in the neck on Friday morning while onstage to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institute in western New York.

“We cannot immediately think of any comparable incident of a public violent attack on a writer during a literary event here in the United States,” said Suzanne Nossel, the chief executive officer of the nonprofit literary organization PEN America, who noted that the motivations for the attack and Mr. Rushdie’s current condition were unknown as of Friday late morning.

Mr. Rushdie is a former president of PEN America, which advocates for writers’ freedom of expression around the world.

She said in a statement that the organization’s members were “reeling from shock and horror.”

Here is Neil Gaiman’s response on Twitter.

(2) PINCH-HITTER. Congratulations to Abigail Nussbaum, who was invited to cover for the Guardian‘s regular SFF columnist, Lisa Tuttle. You can see her reviews here at the Guardian.

…I was a bit nervous about the experience—five books is a big commitment of time and energy, and readers of this blog know that I’m not accustomed to summing up my thoughts on anything in 200 words or less. But I ended up having a lot of fun, mainly because the books discussed were a varied bunch, several of which weren’t even on my radar before the column’s editor, Justine Jordan, suggested them.

The column discusses The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean, a twist on the vampire story that has more than a little of The Handmaid’s Tale in its DNA. The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay, a horror author whom I’ve been hearing good things about for years, so it was great to have an opportunity to sample his stuff. Extinction by Bradley Somer, part of the rising tide of climate fiction we’ve been seeing in recent years, but with a very interesting and original approach. The Women Could Fly by Megan Giddings, a story about witches that combines a magical realist tone with pressing social issues. And The Moonday Letters by Emmi Itäranta, a whirlwind tour of the solar system reminiscent of Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 but with a slant all its own. I’ll have more to say about that last book in the near future, but all five are worth a look….

(3) OVERDRAWN AT THE BLUE CHECKMARK. From one of my favorite authors, Robert Crais:

(4) 2022 WORLDCON ADDS MONKEYPOX POLICY. In addition to its COVID-19 Policy, Chicon 8 now has issued a Monkeypox Policy. More details at the link.

On Aug. 1, 2022, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker declared Monkeypox a public health emergency in the state of Illinois, in order to rapidly mobilize all available public health resources to prevent and treat Monkeypox and ensure smooth coordination at all levels of government….

(5) CATHEDRALS OF BOOKS. With the help of DALL-E, Joe Stech is designing “Future Libraries”. He shares many examples in his latest Compelling Science Fiction Newsletter.

Many years ago I spent some time learning to paint and sketch, and got halfway decent (to the point where I could at least convey a little bit of what was in my head, albeit clumsily). The amount of time it took me to draw something halfway decent was fairly incredible, and after I stopped drawing regularly my meager skillset deteriorated. I still remember how it felt to finish a sketch though, and generative art models like DALL-E 2 have helped me recapture that joy with a much smaller time investment….

(6) DOINK-DOINK. Meanwhile, back on the courthouse steps in New York: “Frank Miller Sues Widow of Comics Magazine Editor for the Return of Artworks”.

The comic writer and artist Frank Miller is suing the widow and the estate of a comics magazine founder over two pieces of promotional art he created that she was trying to sell at auction. The art, which appeared on covers of David Anthony Kraft’s magazine Comics Interview in the 1980s, includes an early depiction of Batman and a female Robin — from the 1986 The Dark Knight Returns series — and is potentially a valuable collectible.

The lawsuit seeks the return of the Batman piece, which was used on the cover of Comics Interview No. 31 in 1986, as well as art depicting the title character of Miller’s 1983 Ronin series. He had sent both to Kraft for his use in the publication; the Ronin artwork was used as the cover of Comics Interview No. 2 in 1983. Miller contended in the court papers that he and Kraft agreed they were on loan, citing “custom and usage in the trade at the time,” and that he made repeated requests for their return….

(7) SEEKING FANHISTORIC PHOTOS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] This year’s DeepSouthCon is working on a project to create a photo gallery of past winners of the Rebel and Phoenix Awards.

We are looking for contributions from anyone who may have such photos. Digital files are preferred, obviously. We’d rather not be responsible for receiving your one-of-a-kind print photo and getting it back to you in one piece. The mail and other delivery services are more than capable of ripping any given package to shreds.

The gold standard would be a photo of the person holding the award at time of presentation or shortly after. We’re also happy to take more contemporary photos taken months, days, years, or decades later. If no such photo is available, we’re also happy to take photos of the winners themselves, just the award, or one of each.

Mike Kennedy, Co-chair, DeepSouthCon 60

(8) ON THE SCALES. Cora Buhlert has a rundown on the creators and works on the latest Dragon Awards ballot: “The 2022 Dragon Award Finalists Look Really Good… With One Odd Exception”.

…Anyway, the finalists for the 2022 Dragon Awards were announced today and the ballot looks really good with only a single WTF? finalist (more on that later) and a lot of popular and well regarded works on the ballot. This confirms a trend that we’ve seen in the past three years, namely that the Dragon Awards are steadily moving towards the award for widely popular SFF works that they were initially conceived to be, as the voter base broadens and more people become aware of the award, nominate and vote for their favourites. It’s a far cry from the early years of the Dragon Awards, where the finalists were dominated by Sad and Rabid Puppies, avid self-promoters and Kindle Unlimited content mills with a few broadly popular books mixed in….

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

2006 [By Cat Eldridge.]ONCE THERE WAS A CHILD WHOSE FACE WAS LIKE THE NEW MOON SHINING on cypress trees and the feathers of waterbirds. She was a strange child, full of secrets. She would sit alone in the great Palace Garden on winter nights, pressing her hands into the snow and watching it melt under her heat. She wore a crown of garlic greens and wisteria; she drank from the silver fountains studded with lapis; she ate cold pears under a canopy of pines on rainy afternoons.” — First words of The Orphan’s Tales: in the Night Garden

There are works that I fall in love from the first words. Catherine Valente’s The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden is one of those works. Well actually it was from the cover art by Michael Kaluta that I fell in love. 

I don’t remember if it came out before or after I had coffee with her in a coffeehouse in the east coast Portland where we both live. (I was married and living on the mainland. She was single and living on Peaks Island. I’m now single and still living on the mainland; she’s married and on Peaks as far I know with her first child. It was an interesting conversation.)

I do remember that she got an iMac that I was no longer using as a result of that meeting, one of the aquarium style ones. Blue I think. I’m sure you’ve read fiction that was written on it.

Now back to the books. It stunned me of the non-linear nature of them which was quire thrilling. Living  in a palace garden, a young girl keeps telling stories to a inquisitive prince: impossible feats and unknown-to-him histories of peoples long gone which weave through each other again and again and again, meeting only in the telling of her stories. Inked on her tattooed eyelids, each of these tales is a intriguing piece in the puzzle of the girl’s own lost history.

I can’t call either a novel in the traditional sense as they really aren’t. They’re something much more complex. What they are is Valente’s take off the 1001 nights but keep in mind that the 1001 nights stories weren’t connected to each other and these are, and so it is a spectacular undertaking of that concept, weaving stories within stories within stories myriad times over. It takes careful paying attention to catch all the connections. 

So what we have here is quite delightful and they are matched up very up by well by the artwork by Michael Kaluta. The cover art for both is by him so that gives you an ample idea of what he does on the inside though those are all black and white. There are hundreds of drawings within, each appropriate to the story you are reading. One of my favorite illustrations is in the prelude of a gaggle of geese. Simple but very cute.

They both won the Mythopoetic Award and the first an Otherwise Award.

I’ve spent many a Winter night reading these. They are wonderful and I really wish they’d been made into an audiobook as they’d be perfect that way. And they really, really do deserve for some specialty press like Subterranean to publish a hardcover edition of them, though I expect getting the rights to the illustrations from Random House could be difficult to say the least. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 12, 1881 Cecil B. DeMille. Yes, you think of him for such films as Cleopatra and The Ten Commandments, but he actually did some important work in our genre. When Worlds Collide and War of The Worlds were films which he executive produced. (Died 1959.)
  • Born August 12, 1894 Dick Calkins. He’s best remembered for being the first artist to draw the Buck Rogers comic strip. He also wrote scripts for the Buck Rogers radio program. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Complete Newspaper Dailies in eight volumes on Hermes Press collects these strips.  They’re one hundred and fifty dollars a volume. (Died 1962.)
  • Born August 12, 1929 John Bluthal. He was Von Neidel in The Mouse on the Moon which sounds silly and fun. He’s in Casino Royale as both a Casino Doorman and a MI5 Man. (Why pay the Union salaries?) He had roles in films best forgotten such as Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World. (Really. Don’t ask.) And he did play a blind beggar in The Return of the Pink Panther as well, and his last genre role was as Professor Pacoli in the beloved Fifth Element. Lest I forget, he voiced Commander Wilbur Zero, Jock Campbell and other characters in Fireball XL5. (Died 2018.)
  • Born August 12, 1931 William Goldman. Writer of The Princess Bride which won a Hugo at Nolacon II and which he adapted for the film. He also wrote Magic, a deliciously chilling horror novel. He wrote the original Stepford Wives script as well as Steven King’s King’s Hearts in Atlantis and Misery as well. He was hired to adapt “Flowers for Algernon” as a screenplay but the story goes that Cliff Robertson intensely disliked his screenplay and it was discarded for one by Stirling Silliphant that became Charly. (Died 2018.)
  • Born August 12, 1947 John Nathan-Turner. He produced Doctor Who from 1980 until it was cancelled in 1989. He finished as the longest-serving Doctor Who producer. He cast Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy as the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors. Other than Doctor Who, he had a single production credit, the K-9 and Company: A Girl’s Best Friend film which you can currently find on BritBox which definitely makes sense. He wrote two books, Doctor Who – The TARDIS Inside Out and Doctor Who: The Companions. He would die of a massive infection just a year before the announcement the show was being revived. The Universe often sucks.  (Died 2002.)
  • Born August 12, 1960 Brenda Cooper, 62. Best known for her YA Silver Ship series of which The Silver Ship and the Sea won an Endeavour Award, and her Edge of Dark novel won another such Award. She co-authored Building Harlequin’s Moon with Larry Niven, and a fair amount of short fiction with him. She has a lot of short fiction, much collected in Beyond the Waterfall Door: Stories of the High Hills and Cracking the Sky. She’s well-stocked at the usual suspects.
  • Born August 12, 1966 Brian Evenson, 56. Ok, I consider him a horror writer (go ahead, disagree) and his Song for the Unraveling of the World collection did win a Shirley Jackson Award though it also won a World Fantasy Award as well. He received an International Horror Guild Award for his Wavering Knife collection. He even co-authored a novel with Rob Zombie, The Lords of Salem. Which definitely puts him on the horror side of things, doesn’t it?
  • Born August 12, 1992 Cara Jocelyn Delevingne, 30. Her first genre role was as a mermaid in Pan. She then shows up in James Gunn’s rather excellent Suicide Squad as June Moone / Enchantress, and in the (oh god why did they make this) Valerian and in the City of a Thousand Planets as Laureline. She was also in Carnival Row as Vignette Stonemoss. It was a fantasy noir series on Amazon Prime which sounds like it has the potential to be interesting.

(11) LEARN FROM AN EXPERT. Here is Cat Rambo’s advice about using social media. Thread starts here.

At the end of the list:

(12) THEY DID THE MONSTER CA$H. NPR is there when “General Mills brings back Franken Berry, Count Chocula, Boo Berry, Frute Brute”.

General Mills is releasing four limited-edition Monster Cereals boxes as part of a new collaboration with pop artist KAWS.

Franken Berry, Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Frute Brute are back for this year’s seasonal release. Fans are particularly excited about the appearance of Frute Brute, which is available for the first time since 2013.

…Franken Berry and Count Chocula now bear the bone-shaped ears seen in many of KAWS’ works. They also have KAWS’ signature Xed-out eyes, as do Boo Berry and Frute Brute. The boxes have been reimagined following the same design as the original boxes, with an illustration of each character and a photo of the cereal in a bowl, all set on a blank white background….

(13) BIGGER THAN SATURN. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.]  In today’s Science: “Starship will be the biggest rocket ever. Are space scientists ready to take advantage of it?”

Jennifer Heldmann, a planetary scien-tist at NASA’s Ames Research Centre…   wants to send another rocket to probe lunar ice—but not on a one-way trip. She has her eye on Starship, a behemoth under development by private rocket company SpaceX that would be the largest flying object the world has ever seen. With Starship, Heldmann could send 100 tons to the Moon, more than twice the lunar payload of the Saturn V, the work-horse of the Apollo missions.

(14) FAN-MADE FF TRAILER. “Fantastic Four: Krasinski, Blunt and Efron stun in jaw-dropping trailer” declares Fansided.

…This awesome fan-made concept trailer from Stryder HD imagines what a Fantastic Four movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe could be about, showcasing how Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm all become their heroic alter-egos….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “The Book of Boba Fett Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says in The Book of Boba Fett that Boba Fett is the worst crime boss in the galaxy.  But the writer explains he got bored and wrote a couple of episodes of The Mandalorian instead.  The producer gets excited when he hears Baby Yoda is in it, because Baby Yoda is “my little green money baby.”  But then we go back to Baba Fett and how he fights someone who fans of The Clone Wars will recognize while everyone else will be confused.  So the producer concludes, “at least we have some content.”

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