Pixel Scroll 10/12/23 My Pixel Threw Out All My Old Scrolls And All That’s Left Is This Godstalk

(1) HELL OF A STORY. Jennifer McMahon discusses nine books where “The Devil Made Me Do It” at CrimeReads.

…I was a child of the late seventies. I grew up watching The Exorcist, The Omen and Rosemary’s Baby. Movies that taught me the nature of true evil and terror. While movies were the gateway to this terrifying genre, books go to deeper and darker places still. So light a candle, get out your crucifix, cast a ring of salt around your favorite reading chair and settle in….

One of McMahon’s selections is:

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

This is a multi-layered literary horror novel that pays homage to the exorcism story genre and explores big questions about possession, mental illness and reality TV. The story follows Merry, at 23, sharing her recollections about her childhood with an author. When she was 8 and her sister Marjorie was 14, Marjorie… changed.  Their parents were split on whether this was a mental health crisis, or the work of the devil. A local priest became involved, and soon, their family became the center of a reality show called The Possession. Was Marjorie actually possessed? Get sucked into this spellbinding story and see what you believe.

(2) THIS MAKES ME THINK OF SNL’S DAVID L. PUMPKINS SKETCH. “Madame Tussauds and the InterContinental New York Times Square host spooky overnight stays in NYC”TimeOut says it will cost a mere $4K!

This might be the scariest Halloween-themed experience out there at the moment: Madame Tussauds and the InterContinetal in Times Square are offerings folks with a flair for the spooky the chance to stay in a room reminiscent of some of the most petrifying movies in history on the nights of Friday, October 13 and Tuesday, October 31.

The chilling experience for two will cost around $4,000 plus taxes—a hefty price for what will likely be a sleepless night but, alas, some of us just can’t enough of the whole sinister vibe. 

Guests will start off enjoying a three-course dinner and drinks menu delivered by the hotel’s room service staff and inspired by four popular movies: The ExorcistThe Nun, Annabelle and IT. …

…The room you’ll actually sleep in will be an eerie one, decorated like a subway station, yet complete with a fully stocked mini bar (clearly, you’ll need to drink to get through this all)….

(3) SURVIVORS. “’Scavengers Reign’ Official Trailer Released”GlobalGrind is on top of the story.

This week (October 11), Max released the official trailer for its new adult animated series Scavengers Reign. Click inside to check it out!

In Scavengers Reign, the brainchild of visionary creators Joe Bennett and Charles Huettner, the remaining crew of a damaged interstellar freighter ship find themselves stranded on a beautiful yet unforgiving alien planet – where they must survive long enough to escape or be rescued. But as the survivors struggle to locate their downed ship and missing crew mates, their new home reveals a hostile world allowed to thrive without human interference. Featuring lush, visually stunning animation, Scavengers Reign presents a wholly unique view of the consequences of unchecked hubris and humanity’s eternal desire to conquer the unknown….

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

Students from nearby school post English language video about the event

This is a nice two minute video where some students from the Hua’ai school just across the lake from the Science Museum talk in English about the event, and some of the related activities they are taking part in.

(I’ve attached 4 PNG screengrabs, filenames prefixed school)

8 Light Minutes Culture: book launches, ribbons, Aldiss and Lukyanenko stamps, and more

An incomplete summary of this mp.weixin.com post:

  • CG render of their booth
  • Launch of volumes 2 and 3 of Chinese SF: An Oral History
  • Limited edition of the Sawyer/Lukyanenko/Liu anthology
  • “The Songs of Space Engineers” hard SF anthology edited by Cixin Liu
  • Pick up a luminous bracelet from their booth
  • Get your books stamped by Brian Aldiss and Sergey Lukyanenko stamps
  • 18-different ribbons; different ones to be available each day from (I think) two different booths.  NB: 8LM has the Chinese licence for Doctor Who books, so the DW ribbons are presumably official merch

Video of official “Kormo” figure

I think this toy was covered along with other merchandise in a previous Scroll; there’s now an unboxing video of what looks like the finished item.

Kaiju Preservation Society, Ray Bradbury and The Culture ribbons and merchandise

Xinxing Publishing House are launching three limited edition sets of merchandise at the con, this Xiaohongshu post says that information about buying them online will come later, although whether that includes international purchases remains to be seen.

  • Kaiju Preservation Society canvas bags
  • Culture “Gravitas” bags  (Google Translate calls these “laser bags”; they seem to have some sort of foil/metallic effect?)
  • There are also ribbons for KPS, The Culture and Ray Bradbury

Secondary market tickets being advertised

I’ve no idea how widespread or successful these are, but here’s a Xiaohongshu user posting a screengrab from some other app/site showing a Chengdu resident advertising a single day “youth” (age 13-25) ticket for Saturday  21st for 500 yuan.  For reference: the sale price for the 5-day youth tickets was 200 yuan, and the individual youth day tickets that were sold more recently were 78 yuan.

Per Google Translate (with minor manual edits) the original ad states:

Youth tickets for the Chengdu Science Fiction Convention on the 21st are available at a premium price.  If you are interested in tickets click [the button] and chat with me privately.

The footer text notes:

There are risks in concert products, please follow the transaction process and do not trade outside the site.

(5) OCTOTHORPE PODCAST. Octothorpe 94 “Satisfying Meat” is now up. Listen here.

John Coxon is eating cinnamon rolls, Alison Scott doesn’t think it’s funny, and Liz Batty has two lists. We discuss the Best Novel finalists for the Hugo Awards. Art by the very lovely Sue Mason.  

John is in the bottom-left, sitting in a chair, wearing a blue shirt and purple trousers, holding a can, and reading an ebook. Alison is in the upper-middle, lying down upside down, wearing a purple shirt and stripy trousers, and reading an ebook. Liz is in the bottom-right, wearing a pink shirt with green trousers, holding a mug of a hot beverage, and reading a physical book. They are surrounded by floating beer bottles, books, the Moon, a mug with a moose on it, and two cats. The word “Octothorpe” appears in scattered letters around the artwork, against a pinky-purple background.

(6) ROYAL ARTIST. The New York Times tells “How the Queen of Denmark Shaped the Look of Netflix’s ‘Ehrengard: The Art of Seduction’”.

…Around the time the princess turned 30 — and after she had earned a diploma in prehistoric archaeology at the University of Cambridge, and had studied at Aarhus University in Denmark, the Sorbonne and the London School of Economics — she read J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.” It inspired her to start drawing again.

Not long after, upon her father’s death in 1972, the princess was crowned as queen: Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, to be specific.

Margrethe, now 83, celebrated 50 years on the throne in 2022. But in assuming the role of queen, she did not abandon her artistic passions. As a monarch she has taken lessons in certain media, has taught herself others and has been asked to bring her eye to projects produced by the Royal Danish Ballet and Tivoli, the world’s oldest amusement park, in Copenhagen.

Her paintings have been shown at museums, including in a recent exhibition at the Musée Henri-Martin in Cahors, France. And her illustrations have been adapted into artwork for a Danish translation of “The Lord of the Rings.” (They were published under the pseudonym Ingahild Grathmer, and the book’s publisher approached her about using them after she sent copies to Tolkien as fan mail in 1970.)

Margrethe recently notched another creative accomplishment: serving as the costume and production designer for “Ehrengard: The Art of Seduction,” a feature film that debuted on Netflix in September and has wardrobes and sets based on her drawings and other artworks.

The film is an adaptation of the fairy tale “Ehrengard” by Karen Blixen, a Danish baroness who published under the pen name Isak Dinesen. Set in a fictional kingdom, the story is loosely about a woman named Ehrengard who becomes a lady-in-waiting and foils a royal court painter’s plot to woo her.

(7) IT’S ALL GREEK TO THEM. “Of Snakes and Men: ‘Krapopolis’ Monstrous Transformations”: Animation World Network takes a look (and doesn’t turn to stone.)

While most people find solace in reading fiction novels, Pete Michels gets his kicks from history and archeology books. So, when Dan Harmon, who Michels had worked with previously on Rick and Morty, reached out with a proposal for a parody series on Greek mythology, Michels jumped at the opportunity… 

…In the series, Ayoade voices Tyrannis, the mortal son of a goddess and benevolent King of Krapopolis, who tries to make do in a city that lives up to its name. Waddingham plays Deliria, Tyrannis’ mother, goddess of self-destruction and questionable choices. Deliria is as petty as she is powerful, and only seems interested in defending civilization if it means she’ll get more worshipers out of it than her frenemies up on Mt. Olympus. Berry is Shlub, Tyrannis’ father, a mantitaur (half centaur [horse + human], half manticore [lion + human + scorpion]). He’s the self-described “life of the orgy,” and a true pleasure seeker. Murphy voices Stupendous, Tyrannis’ half-sister, daughter of Deliria and a cyclops. Trussell plays Hippocampus, Tyrannis’ half-brother, offspring of Shlub and a mermaid, and a hot mess, biologically speaking….

(8) PULPFEST. “2023 PulpFest Convention Report, by Martin Walker” at Mystery File.

…This year, though, Walker [Martin] did attend but managed to catch Covid while there, and while he’s doing much better now, it took him a while to recover, and he never did manage to write up a report. As you may have surmised, “Martin Walker,” whose report follows, is a pseudonym, but I can guarantee the facts he relates are 100% accurate. Bill Lampkin, whose photos I used is real, however, and I thank both him and our anonymous reporter for this year’s annual PulpFest report, at last!

Here’s a snippet from the report:

…There was more buying and selling on Friday, August 4. Competing for attendees’ attention were a couple of afternoon presentations. Chris Carey and Win Scott Eckert discussed “Doc Savage — The Man and Myth of Bronze.” Part of PulpFest’s celebration of the 90th anniversary of “The Man of Bronze,” it was also this year’s FarmerCon presentation. Since 2011, PulpFest has hosted FarmerCon, a convention that began in Peoria, Illinois, the hometown of Philip José Farmer….

(9) AUDIO ALARM. “Spotify’s new audiobook streaming could have ‘devastating effect’, says Society of Authors” – the Guardian has the story.

The Society of Authors (SoA) has said it is “deeply concerned” about Spotify’s new audiobook provision. The industry body cited “the devastating effect that music streaming has had on artists’ incomes”, and expressed its fear that authors may suffer in a similar way.

“The streaming of audiobooks competes directly with sales and is even more damaging than music streaming because books are typically only read once, while music is often streamed many times,” a statement from the SoA read.

At the beginning of October, the Bookseller reported that “all of the major book publishers” had agreed limited streaming deals with Spotify. Since 4 October, Spotify Premium subscribers in the UK and Australia have been able to access to up to 15 hours of audiobook content per month, from a catalogue of more than 150,000 titles.

“As far as we are aware, no authors or agents have been approached for permission for such licences, and authors have not been consulted on licence or payment terms,” the SoA said. “Publishing contracts differ but in our view most licences given to publishers for licensing of audio do not include streaming. In fact, it is likely that streaming was not a use that had been invented when many such contracts were entered into.”…

(10) KEITH GIFFEN (1952-2023). Keith Giffen, whose 47 years in the comics business were heavily SF-themed, died  October 9 at the age of 70. The veteran writer and artist’s work included DC’s Lobo and the Jamie Reyes version of the Blue Beetle and Marvel’s Rocket Raccoon. The full details of his career are in his Wikipedia entry.

(11) PHYLLIS COATES (1927-2023) Phyllis Coates, known as TV’s first Lois Lane, died October 11 reports Deadline.

Phyllis Coates, who became television’s first Lois Lane when she was cast in the classic Adventures of Superman series starring George Reeves, died yesterday of natural causes at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills. She was 96.

In 1951, Coates was invited to audition for the role of Lois Lane in the low-budget feature film Superman and the Mole Men. Starring Reeves as Superman, the film was a de facto TV pilot, and by the end of the year both Reeves and Coates were asked to join the upcoming TV series.

Coates stayed with the series for only one season – 1952-53… Until her death, Coates was the last surviving regular cast member of the classic superhero series.

Though best remembered for Superman, Coates would build an extensive roster of TV and film credits in a career that lasted well into the 1990s. She appeared in the now-classic monster movie I Was A Teenage Frankenstein and … later, one 1994 episode of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, in which she played the mother of Teri Hatcher’s Lois Lane.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 12, 1875 Aleister Crowley. Mystic. Charlatan possibly. Genre writer? You decide. But I’ve no doubt that he had a great influence upon the genre as I’m betting many of you can note works in which he figures. One of the earliest such cases is Land of Mist, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle which was published in 1926. (Died 1947.)
  • Born October 12, 1903 Josephine Hutchinson. She was Elsa von Frankenstein with Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff in Son of Frankenstein. She was in “I Sing the Body Electric”, The Twilight Zone episode written by Bradbury that he later turned into a short story. (Died 1998.)
  • Born October 12, 1904 Lester Dent. Pulp-fiction author who was best known as the creator and main author of the series of novels chronicling Doc Savage. Of the one hundred and eighty-one Doc Savage novels published by Street and Smith, one hundred and seventy-nine were credited to Kenneth Robeson; and all but twenty were written by Dent. (Died 1959.)
  • Born October 12, 1956 Storm Constantine. Writer with her longest-running series being the Wraeththu Universe which has at least four separate series within all of which are known for their themes of alternative sexuality and gender. She has also written a number of non-fiction (I think they are) works such as Sekhem Heka: A Natural Healing and Self Development System and The Grimoire of Deharan Magick: Kaimana. (Died 2021.)
  • Born October 12, 1965 Dan Abnett, 58. His earlier work was actually on Doctor Who Magazine, but I’ll single out his co-writing Guardians of the Galaxy #1–6 with Andy Lanning, The Authority: Rule Britannia and his Border Princes novel he did in the Torchwood universe as great looks at him as a writer. 
  • Born October 12, 1966 Sandra McDonald, 57. Author of some sixty genre short stories, some of which are collected in Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories (which won a Lambda Award for LGBT SF, Fantasy and Horror Works) and Lovely Little Planet: Stories of the Apocalypse.  Outback Stars is her space opera-ish trilogy. 

(13) KGB. Ellen Datlow has posted her photos of last night’s Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading with David D. Levin and Matthew Kressel.

(14) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to dine on oxtail stew with Lauren Beukes in Episode 209 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Lauren Beukes

At this year’s Readercon, my first guest of the weekend was Lauren Beukes, who I first met at the very start of her novel publishing career — at the 2009 Worldcon in Montreal, where Angry Robot Books held a launch party which included Moxyland. That party also debuted the first novel of previous guest of the podcast Kaaron Warren, who was launching her own book Slights.

In addition to Moxyland, Beukes is also the author of the novels Zoo City (winner of the 2011 Arthur C Clarke Award), The Shining GirlsBroken MonstersAfterland, and her newest novel, BridgeThe Shining Girls, about a time-travelling serial killer and the survivor who turns the hunt around is currently an Apple TV+ series with Elisabeth Moss. She’s also the author of the short story collection, Slipping, plus a pop-history, Maverick: Extraordinary Women From South Africa’s Past.

Beukes has worked also in worked in film and TV, as the director of Glitterboys & Ganglands, a documentary which won Best LGBTI Film at the Atlanta Black Film Festival, and as showrunner and head writer on South Africa’s first half hour animated TV show, Pax Afrika, which ran for 104 episodes on SABC. Her comics work includes the original horror series, Survivors’ Club with Dale Halvorsen and Ryan Kelly, and the New York Times best-selling Fairest: The Hidden Kingdom, a Japanese horror remix of Rapunzel with artist Inaki, as well as “The Trouble With Cats,” a Wonder Woman short set in Soweto with Mike Maihack.

We discussed why the genre community is like a giant amoeba, how her choice of D&D character is in perfect sync with the way she writes, the reason she only recently realized she has ADHD (and why her new novel Bridge is definitely an ADHD book), why AI can never replace writers, the ways in which the protagonist of her new novel is different from all her other protagonists, the importance of authenticity readers, why acquiring editors at publishing companies are like restaurant critics, the importance of art in helping us find our way through the darkness, the reason you shouldn’t be so hard on your younger self, how she uses the Tarot to get unstuck, and much, much more.

(15) PLANT EXTINCTION RISK. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] 45% of all flowering species of plant are at risk of extinction, is just one of the sobering statistics in the Royal Botanic Gardens latest State of the World’s Plants and Fungi 2023 reportThe fifth edition of State of the World’s Plants and Fungi, from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew), focuses on the latest knowledge on the diversity and geographical distribution of plants and fungi.

Now, for the first time, scientists have used models to predict the extinction risk of every flowering plant species and identify the uncertainty level of each prediction. The report looks back at all the plant species known to us and there threat of extinction classification. Further, it looked at when each species was discovered and its extinction threat. The researchers found that the earlier a species had been discovered, the lower its extinction threat: recently discovered species were more at risk. Extrapolating this into yet-to-be-discovered species, the conclusion is that these would be even more prone to extinction. The report says that there are 77% undescribed plant species are likely threatened with extinction. And there are many species yet to be discovered. Taking flowering plants alone, the report estimates that potentially tens of thousands of flowering plant species have yet to be scientifically named.

Since 2015, a project to have all tree species assessed for the IUCN (the UN’s International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List, has so far found that 31% of tree species are at risk of extinction. And this does not include tree species yet to be discovered for whom the extinction risk is higher.

But there are notable black holes in the data. Given the history of fungal species discovery, it is estimated that 92% and 95% of fungi have yet to be scientifically described. Since the beginning of 2020, more than 10,200 fungal species have been described as new to science.  (See Antonelli, A. et al (2023) State of the World’s Plants and Fungi 2023. Royal Botanic Gardens: Kew, Middlesex, Great Britain.)

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Orphan Black: Echoes Teaser Trailer”.

#OrphanBlackEchoes, starring Krysten Ritter and Keeley Hawes, premieres in 2024 on AMC, BBC America, and AMC+.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge Scott Edelman, John Coxon, Danny Sichel, Ellen Datlow, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Ersatz Culture  for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 9/28/23 I’ll Scroll What She’s Scrolling

(1) SFWA GIVERS FUND GRANT DEADLINE OCTOBER 1. During SFWA’s recent annual business meeting, Chief Financial Officer Erin M. Hartshorn gave an update on the current amounts in each of the organization’s benevolent funds: $388,000 for the Emergency Medical Fund, $66,000 for the Legal Fund, and $103,000 for the Givers Fund, which will give away $30,000 worth of grants this fall. Applications for grants from the Givers Fund are due October 1. 

(2) RUSHDIE TO SPEAK. On October 21, Salman Rushdie will make one of his first in-person appearances since being severely injured in a stabbing attack last August, at Frankfurter Buchmesse: “Salman Rushdie Appears at Frankfurt’s Saturday Gala” reports Publishing Perspectives.

…This program, supported by ARD, ZDF, and 3sat, precedes the October 22 presentation to Rushdie of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, as Publishing Perspectives readers know. The award carries a purse of €25,000 (US$26,389).

In a statement today, Frankfurt president and CEO Juergen Boos  has said, “I was very moved that Salman Rushdie is not missing the opportunity to meet the audience in Frankfurt in person, in addition to attending the award ceremony for the Peace Prize….

…As you’ll remember, the stabbing attack on Rushdie at the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York occurred on August 12, 2022. Dealing with severe injuries and the preparation of his new book, Rushdie has made very few public appearances since then, one of them in May in a videotaped message from New York for the British Book Awards….

(3) HOW NETFLIX DVD WORKED. [Item by Dan Bloch.] Tomorrow is, of course, Netflix DVDs last day, and there are of course lots of articles about this, all saying more or less the same thing (“Netflix DVD, we’ll miss you, even though we canceled our subscription a long time ago”). This one is different: “Netflix’s DVD service shuts down: here’s the complex tech behind it” at The Verge. It’s a longish but very interesting article about how the technology in their shipping hubs works.

… Bronway custom-designed a massive disc robot called the “automated rental return machine,” or ARRM 3660. The ARRM, as Netflix employees simply called it, was an assembly-line-sized machine consisting of 6,500 parts total. At its center were two carousels, housed behind glass doors, that were loaded up with incoming mail and then used pneumatic arms to perform all of the things people had done before: slice open returned envelopes, unpack discs, inspect them, clean them, add them to a facility’s inventory system, and get them ready to go out of the door again — basically, every job short of sorting discs and stuffing envelopes for the next customer. 

The robotics company sold 180 of these machines to Netflix in 2010, and they were deployed in stages across all of its hubs. The labor savings alone were enormous. “The hubs were a spectacular number of people,” recalled Johnson. “You could replace about five humans opening the discs with one machine.”

Once a hub was fully automated, it really only required a handful of people to operate. Warehouse workers would arrive at 2AM each day to flip on the machines and process tens of thousands of DVDs in time to deliver them to the Postal Service later that morning. “It was just one person per machine,” Gallion said. “You’d have one person running the stuffer, one person running the sorter, one person running the rental return machine.”

But automation wasn’t just about labor costs alone. Machines were also a lot better at their job, which led to less frustration for Netflix subscribers. Customers who borrowed entire seasons of a TV show would frequently mix up discs — they might put season 7 disc one of The Simpsons in the sleeve for season 7 disc two.

Netflix hub employees were supposed to catch those mix-ups and make sure that the next customer didn’t accidentally receive the wrong disc. “But humans aren’t very good at that,” Johnson said. Machines, on the other hand, aren’t fooled by similar-looking titles. “If barcode A doesn’t match barcode B, then clearly, you’ve got a mismatch,” he said…

(4) PLUMBING THE ABSTRUSE. Timothy B. Lee and Sean Trott promise: “Large language models, explained with a minimum of math and jargon” at Understanding AI.

… If you know anything about this subject, you’ve probably heard that LLMs are trained to “predict the next word,” and that they require huge amounts of text to do this. But that tends to be where the explanation stops. The details of how they predict the next word is often treated as a deep mystery.

One reason for this is the unusual way these systems were developed. Conventional software is created by human programmers who give computers explicit, step-by-step instructions. In contrast, ChatGPT is built on a neural network that was trained using billions of words of ordinary language.

As a result, no one on Earth fully understands the inner workings of LLMs. Researchers are working to gain a better understanding, but this is a slow process that will take years—perhaps decades—to complete.

Still, there’s a lot that experts do understand about how these systems work. The goal of this article is to make a lot of this knowledge accessible to a broad audience. We’ll aim to explain what’s known about the inner workings of these models without resorting to technical jargon or advanced math….

(5) CHENGDU WORLDCON UPDATE. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]

  • Day tickets still not available

After the closure of regular ticket sales – on the con site, and on the damai.cn vendor site – the day tickets that were promised exactly a week ago — https://en.chengduworldcon.com/news3_35_95_32_66_76_50/151.html — have not yet materialized.  Here’s a (Chinese language) Weibo post from File 770 commenter Adaoli summarizing the situation:  https://weibo.com/5726230680/Nllv9A08q

I’m not sure if this is a new announcement, but I don’t recall seeing any mention of it prior to today.  Douban – which can be compared to both IMDB and Goodreads – has a listing for “Stellar Concerto”, which features stories from the three Worldcon GoHs.  The listing indicates there are new stories in this anthology, although I assume that means they are new in translation, but have been previously published in their original language.  The publisher is the Chengdu-based 8 Light Minutes Culture, which has a few staff on the Chengdu concom.

The October issue’s cover feature is about SF, although it doesn’t seem to have an explicit Worldcon connection, on the cover at least.  There are photos of some of the interior content, which seems to involve at least a couple of people on the concom, at this Weibo post: https://weibo.com/1662229842/NlnnPvnGo

The HelloChengdu Weibo account linked to a Sichuan Daily post from a couple of days ago with a 2-minute Worldcon-related video that has CG renderings of the venue that I don’t think I’ve seen before.  Although given that the con is ~20 days away, I’d have thought the time for CG renders over real-world footage should have long passed.

This one is way beyond my negligible language skills – and I think it might be a repost of something previously released – but I believe it goes over the Puppies stuff (29:43 and later), Marko Kloos declining his Hugo nomination (from 36:26) and the resulting elevation of The Three-Body Problem to be a finalist.,  Other people/things shown or namechecked include: VD and LC (30:02, VD numerous times after that), Zoe Quinn (from 32:39), GRRM’s Puppygate blog post (37:33), N. K. Jemisin (40:30), Robert Silverberg (45:24), the “GRRM Can Fuck Off Into the Sun” blog post (48:00).

This isn’t something that most File 770 readers are going to need or want to watch, but I think it’s a good illustration that Chinese fans aren’t ignorant of stuff that happens in the Anglosphere.

(6) SOMETHING MISSING. Abigail Nussbaum voices the opinion that Terry Pratchett: A Life With Footnotes by Rob Wilkins” has a lot of deficiencies as a biography at Asking the Wrong Questions.

…The core problem of A Life With Footnotes is one that felt easy to predict before even turning the first page. Terry Pratchett, to be perfectly blunt, did not live a particularly interesting life. He was the precocious son of working class parents in post-war England, who fell in love with science fiction and fantasy in his teens, fooled around with writing them with only moderate success, did some creative-adjacent salaried work (journalism, then PR), and then hit on a concept that ballooned into a world-class success with remarkable speed, after which he was very rich and very successful for the rest of his life. In other words, the life story of quite a few midcentury authors (give or take the stratospheric success). What set Pratchett apart, like most writers, was what was going on in his head….

But then, one of the most startling choices in A Life With Footnotes is how little it has to say about Pratchett the author….

Wilkins’s focus seems, instead, to be on the business side of things….

While I agree with Nussbaum’s description of what is and isn’t there, Pratchett was unable to complete his autobiography before he died so my own focus is on the book we have thanks to Rob Wilkins’ efforts, not the book we wanted.

(7) FROM PIXELS TO BRICK AND MORTAR. The New York Times says “Instagram’s Favorite Bookseller Is Ready to Go Offline”.

For Idea, a rare-book dealer and publisher in London, the dwindling of print has never been much of an issue. If anything, it has been a boon for the understated business that David Owen and Angela Hill have built, largely on the back of Instagram’s early infrastructure.

But now, Idea is navigating yet another swerve — the death of the Instagram timeline. In 2021 the social media platform moved from a chronological feed to a more opaque algorithm, which boosted videos. That meant less exposure for posts of, for example, vintage fashion books, which in turn made book selling on Instagram something of a slog.

And even though Idea has some 500,000 followers — W magazine called it an “Instagram phenomenon” in 2015 — the company is ready to experiment with a fairly antiquated idea that some may consider riskier than print itself: a physical bookstore.

In late September, Idea will open a store spread over three floors of a brick building on Wardour Street, in the London neighborhood of Soho. (The location is also Mr. Owen and Ms. Hill’s current home — they rent in the building — in a district crowded with David Bowie walking tours and lines for a Supreme store nearby.)

“What it really feels like is the perfect answer to all the frustration we’ve had with Instagram for the last couple of years, compared to the absolute joy and wonder we’ve had with it the eight previous to that,” Mr. Owen said.

When Mr. Owen and Ms. Hill started their Instagram account in 2010, it quickly became a popular feed. Glossy scans of their collection — which included issues of Six, a magazine by Commes des Garçons ($3,050); “Pentax Calendar” by Guy Bourdin ($500); and “Fiorucci: The Book” by Eve Babitz ($365) — popped out against a sea of heavily filtered selfies….

(8) MOTE GETS SHOPPED BY UNTITLED.TV. The Chaos Manor Facebook page announced an interest in making series from two Niven/Pournelle books has been expressed by Untitled.

A shopping agreement for a streaming series based on The Mote in Gods Eye and The Gripping Hand has been secured by Untitled.

With the end of the WGA strike, real work has begun to craft and pitch an expected 24+ episode, 3 year story arc.

Questions abounded on how to both streamline and lengthen the proposed series for streaming audiences. Let’s see how Untitled proceeds, now that the clock has started.

When asked Why 3 Arms? Larry Niven explained yesterday that his approach to the initial alien design was inspired by the dual question of why tool makers would need symmetry in their biology if there was limited-to-no gravity. He also posed: Do we need a spine? What if the spine was an evolutionary mistake?

(9) WHAT SIR PAT READS. The New York Times asks the actor about his reading habits in “The Most Novelistic Part That Patrick Stewart Ever Played”. But first – the hook!

“I acted Macbeth for exactly 365 days,” says the actor, whose new memoir is “Making It So.” “The role got into me so deeply it dominated my life at the time and caused me to drink too much alcohol after the performance was over. No other role I have played has affected me so profoundly.”…

…Describe your ideal reading experience (when, where, what, how).

Immediately on waking up I make a cup of Yorkshire Gold with a chocolate digestive and read in bed for half an hour, or more. Always a book. Never a script or emails. This not only wakes me up, it puts me back in the world we are living in and who we are today. Unless there is an urgent reason I do not look at newspaper headlines, or listen to the news until halfway through the morning.

What’s your favorite book no one else has heard of?

You know, I haven’t heard of it either….

(10) MICHAEL GAMBON (1940-2023). Actor Michael Gambon died September 27. Variety profiles his career in its obituary: “Michael Gambon Dies: Harry Potter’s Dumbledore Was 82”.

Michael Gambon, the Irish-English actor best known for his role as Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore in six of the “Harry Potter” movies, has died, Variety has confirmed. He was 82.

“We are devastated to announce the loss of Sir Michael Gambon,” his family said in a statement. “Beloved husband and father, Michael died peacefully in hospital with his wife Anne and son Fergus at his bedside, following a bout of pneumonia.”

While it is easier for a character actor, often working in supporting roles, to rack up a large number of credits than it is for lead actors, Gambon was enormously prolific, with over 150 TV or film credits in an era when half that number would be impressive and unusual — and this for a man whose body of stage work was also prodigious.

He played two real kings of England: King Edward VII in “The Lost Prince” (2003) and his son, King George V, in “The King’s Speech” (2010); Winston Churchill in his later years in the 2015 ITV/PBS “Masterpiece” telepic “Churchill’s Secret”; U.S. President Lyndon Johnson in John Frankenheimer’s 2002 HBO telepic “Path to War,” for which he was Emmy-nominated; and a fictional British prime minister in “Ali G Indahouse,” also in 2002. And as Hogwarts headmaster in the “Harry Potter” movies, he presided over the proceedings therein. In 2016, he served as the narrator for the Coen brothers’ paean to golden-age Hollywood, “Hail! Caesar.”…

And you can see a photo of Michael Gambon, circa 1970, from when he was invited by producer Cubby Broccoli to test for James Bond at the Tim Burton Wiki.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 28, 1913 Ellis Peters. Nom de plume of the writer of The Cadfael Chronicles,which I’ll admit I broke my rule of never watching a video adaption of a print series that I like. Derek Jacobi as Cadfael was damn perfect. She is here because she was the writer of two excellent ghost novels, The City Lies Four-Square and By This Strange Fire, under her real name of Edith Pargeter. (Died 1995.)
  • Born September 28, 1932 Michael G. Coney. British-born writer who spent the last half of his life in Canada. He’s best remembered for his Hello Summer, Goodbye novelI’m very fond of The Celestial Steam Locomotive and Gods of the Greataway which might be set on what could be Vancouver Island. His only Award was from the BSFA for Brontomek!, one of his Amorphs Universe works, although he was a 1996 Nebula nominee for his “Tea and Hamsters” novelette, and a five-time finalist for the Aurora Award. (Died 2005.)
  • Born September 28, 1938 Ron Ellik. Writer and Editor, a well-known SF fan who was a co-editor with Terry Carr of the Hugo winning fanzine, Fanac, in the late 1950s. Ellik was also the co-author of The Universes of E.E. Smith with Bill Evans, which was largely a concordance of characters and the like. Fancyclopedia 3 notes that “He also had some fiction published professionally, and co-authored a Man from U.N.C.L.E. novelization.” The Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction says he died in an auto accident the day before his wedding. (Died 1968.)
  • Born September 28, 1950 John Sayles, 73. I really hadn’t considered him a major player in genre films but he is. He’s writer and director The Brother from Another Planet and The Secret of Roan Inish; and he wrote the scripts of PiranhaAlligatorBattle Beyond the StarsThe HowlingE.T. the Extra-TerrestrialThe Clan of the Cave Bear and The Spiderwick Chronicles.
  • Born September 28, 1963 Greg Weisman, 60. Writer who’s best remembered for Gargoyles, Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice. He also scripted some of Men in Black: The Series and Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles. He also wrote children’s novel World of Warcraft: Traveler, followed by a sequel, World of Warcraft: Traveler – The Spiral Path. Children’s novels in the Warcraft universe? Hmmm… 
  • Born September 28, 1982 Tendai Huchu, 41. Zimbabwean author who’s the editor along with Raman Mundair and Noel Chidwick of the Shores of Infinity zine. He’s also written a generous number of African centric stories of which “The Marriage Plot” won an African Speculative Fiction Society Nommo Award for African Speculative Fiction for Best Short Story.
  • Born September 28, 1986 Laurie Penny, 37. They are the writer of one genre novella to date, “Everything Belongs to the Future“, published at Tor.com, and a generous number of genre short stories. They were a finalist for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer at Worldcon 75 won by Ada Palmer.  “Vector at Nine Worlds: Laurie Penny”, an interview with them by Jo Walton is in Vector 288.

(12) COMIC SECTION.

  • The Far Side shows something that might be a case for an insurance company. But is it an act of God? 

(13) FIFTY CALIBER. Congratulations to Michaele Jordan on her appearance in 50 Give or Take!

(14) CHOPPED. “Now that Winnie-the-Pooh is in the public domain, it’s a free-for-all.” NPR tells how “Winnie-the-Pooh is now being used to raise awareness about deforestation”. [Click for larger image.]

Winnie-the-Pooh: The Deforested Edition is a reimagining of the A.A. Milne classic created by the toilet paper company Who Gives A Crap.

There is just one, stark difference: There are no trees.

The Hundred Acre Wood? Gone.

Piglet’s “house in the middle of a beech-tree” is no longer “grand.”

Six Pine Trees is six pine stumps.

Yes, this is imaginative PR (a free eBook is available on the Who Gives A Crap website; a hardcover was available for purchase but is now sold out). But the company’s co-founder, Danny Alexander, said the goal is to raise awareness about deforestation. Who Gives A Crap prides itself on “creating toilet paper from 100% recycled paper or bamboo,” he said….

… Alexander said Who Gives A Crap has tried to spread the word that “over a million trees are cut down every single day just to make traditional toilet paper,” according to a study the company commissioned….

(15) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 93 of the Octothorpe podcast “The Good Thing About the Hugos” is now up.

John Coxon is husky, Alison Scott is a dingo, and Liz Batty is a ridgeback.

We discuss Chengdu, our impact on Chinese fandom, Glasgow, its impact on Glaswegian fandom, and then all the Hugo categories bar one (foreshadowing). Or four, depending on how you count.

(16) PROTON ART. “Painting with protons: treatment beams recreate works of art” at Physics World.

Intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT) is an advanced cancer treatment technique that uses narrow pencil-like beams of protons – painted spot-by-spot and layer-by-layer within the patient – to deliver radiation in highly complex dose patterns. Combined with sophisticated treatment planning techniques, IMPT can shape the proton dose to match the targeted tumour with unprecedented accuracy, maximizing the destruction of cancer cells while minimizing damage to nearby healthy tissue.

Looking to showcase the impressive power of IMPT to create intricate dose distributions, medical physicist Lee Xu from the New York Proton Center came up with an unusual approach – he used proton pencil beams to recreate a series of well-known paintings as treatment plans, effectively using the protons as a paintbrush….

(17) DISKWORLDS. In this week’s Nature: “How worlds are born: JWST reveals exotic chemistry of planetary nurseries”, “The telescope is delivering a cascade of insights about the ‘protoplanetary’ disks where planets take shape.”

 The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is aweing scientists and the public alike with its spectacular images of distant galaxies and its discoveries of dozens of new black holes. Yet JWST is also rewriting scientists’ understanding of objects on a slightly smaller, more relatable scale: how planets form from swirls of gas and dust around young stars. Such ‘protoplanetary’ disks are what the environs of the Sun would have been like 4.6 billion years ago, with planets coalescing from the whirling material around an infant star.

JWST is revealing how water is delivered to rocky planets taking shape in such disks. It’s providing clues to the exotic chemistry in these planetary nurseries. And it has even found fresh evidence for a cosmic hit-and-run in one of the most famous debris disks, encircling the star Beta Pictoris…

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Steven French, Lise Andreasen, Jeff Smith, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Dan Bloch, Bill, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Ersatz Culture for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 9/21/23 Dammit, Jetpack! I’m A Pixel Not A Scroll Deliverer

(1) BIGGER ON THE INSIDE. If you can’t get somebody to give you this as a gift over the coming holidays you’ll have to buy it yourself. Because how could you not own it? “Doctor Who: Limited Edition Complete New Who Blu-ray Set Is Up for Preorder” at IGN. There’s a hell of a lot of content in these boxes.

…The Complete New Who limited edition collection is now available to preorder at Amazon and will feature every single episode from the modern era of Doctor Who in wonderful physical Blu-ray format. At $174.99, this looks incredibly affordable vs. buying each series on its own.

It’s still a premium price, for sure, but you’re getting a lot of TV-show for that price, with the collection comprising every series from the revival in 2005, to the Flux episodes (Series 13) in 2021, and every Holiday episode or one-off special along the way as well….

(2) BOOKS AS RARE AS UNICORNS. Or maybe you’d rather spend your money on one of the three limited editions of The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle from Suntup Editions, announced today.

…Magical, beautiful beyond belief and completely alone, the unicorn has lived since before memory in a forest where death could touch nothing. Maidens who caught a glimpse of her glory were blessed by enchantment they would never forget. But outside her wondrous realm, dark whispers and rumors carried a message she could not ignore: “Unicorns are gone from the world.” Aided by a bumbling magician and an indomitable spinster, the unicorn embarks on a dangerous quest to learn the truth about what happened to her kind….

The signed limited edition of The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle is presented in three states: Classic, Numbered and Lettered. The edition measures 6” x 9” and features nine full color tipped in oil painting illustrations by Tom Kidd as well as a new exclusive introduction by the author. One of the nine illustrations is a presented as a fold-out appearing in all three states….

The Classic edition is limited to 750 copies, and is the only edition to include a dust jacket illustrated by Tom Kidd….

The Numbered edition of 250 copies is a Bradel binding with a cover design inspired by the famous Unicorn Tapestries of the late Middle Ages….

The Lettered edition is limited to 26 copies and is bound in full white goatskin with a unicorn and bull design by Laura Serra on the cover. … 

(3) 57 SECONDS. The idea might remind you of the Omega-13. Gizmodo has an exclusive “57 Seconds Clip: Josh Hutcherson Discovers Time Travel”. See the clip at the link.

…Presumably Franklin gets to the time jumps quick enough, considering the rest of the movie will see him team up with Burrell to use the ring on a mission of vengeance against a sinister pharmaceutical company that was responsible for the death of his sister. But for now, it’s nice to see someone react just like we would if we discovered time travel: with a lot of anxiety, confusion, and some mild cursing…

ScreenRant posted its own, different exclusive clip a couple days ago.

(4) THE LAW AND MISTER WILLINGHAM. [Item by Jennifer Hawthorne.] “The Litigation Disaster Tourism Hour: Bill Willingham, DC, and the Fight Over Fables – no, really, WTF is going on?” on Twitch is a video of a law stream done by Mike Dunford. He’s an actual professional copyright lawyer (did his JD thesis on it) and he was asked to address Bill Willingham’s statement that he was placing Fables into the public domain as a means of striking back at DC comics who Willingham asserts has disrespected him. Mike D goes over Willingham’s statement and explains why it’s utter nonsense. Warning: Lots of colorful profanity, much of it directed at Willingham. TL:DR: Willingham is talking BS and Mike D’s only concern is that some third party might believe WIllingham’s statement, try to make a Fables creative product, and end up getting sued into oblivion by DC.

(5) YOU MUST LISTEN. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The British SF writer Nigel Kneale is possibly best known for creating the character Quatermass whose most famous adventure was the BBC TV series Quatermass and the Pit that gripped Britain back in 1958/9, so much so that it spawned a film version, the most successful of the four cinematic adaptations of the four BBC series (there were five Quatermass TV series in all).

Because much of Kneale’s work was decades before the internet (a good portion even before the widespread adoption of the transistor and microchip) some of his works have been lost. However, a trawl through his personal archive has uncovered the script for one of his lost radio play’s You Must Listen. This has now been re-made and premiered on BBC Radio 4 yesterday, September 20.

A solicitor’s office has a new phone line connected, but the staff keep hearing a woman’s voice on the phone. Engineer Frank Wilson is called to fix the problem, and gradually the disturbing story of the woman starts to emerge.

Originally broadcast in September 1952, You Must Listen was written by Nigel Kneale, one of the most admired English science-fiction writers of the last century. His Quatermass trilogy of science fiction serials continues to influence generations of admirers and filmmakers, among them Russell T Davies and John Carpenter.

But before The Quatermass Experiment established his television career, Kneale’s radio drama You Must Listen paved the way for what was to come. It explores many of the same themes that he later addressed in Quatermass, The Stone Tape and The Road, of the paranormal coming into collision with modern science.

No recording of the original version of You Must Listen is known to exist, but fortunately Kneale kept a copy of the script in his archives, and this new version has been recorded to mark the centenary of BBC Radio Drama.

You can listen to it on BBC Sounds here for the next month.

(6) AUCTION WILL ASSIST UKRANIAN BOOKSELLERS. The Guardian has details: “Rare book donations sought for auction to help Ukraine booksellers”.

Donations of rare books, artworks, manuscripts, photographs and ephemera are being sought for an auction aimed at raising funds for Ukrainian booksellers and publishers affected by the Russia-Ukraine war.

Authors are also being invited to donate signed first-edition copies of their books. The proceeds of the auction will go to Helping Ukrainian Books and Booksellers (Hubb), a group formed shortly after the war began, when thousands of publishing professionals suddenly found themselves out of work.

…Donations across “literature, poetry, history and science” are welcomed, said Avi Kovacevich, founder of Catalog Sale, a New York-based auction house that is facilitating the sale….

Hubb’s proceeds will be distributed in Ukraine by the Ukrainian Publishers and Booksellers Association. So far, Hubb has raised more than $30,000 (£24,257), which has been allocated to booksellers, publishers and libraries in Ukraine.

A large portion came from donations made by customers at Brookline Booksmith in Boston, the bookshop visited by the late Ukrainian novelist Victoria Amelina when she lived in the city for a year. Amelina died in July from injuries sustained in a Russian missile attack on a restaurant in eastern Ukraine.

The auction will take place online in mid-November….

The call for submissions is open until 10 October. Those interested in contributing to the sale are asked to send images of up to 10 items to [email protected].

(7) SF TERMS IN NEW YORK MAGAZINE NEWSLETTER. [Item by Michael A. Burstein.] Unfortunately, this isn’t available on the web, but New York Magazine is sending out a newsletter to subscribers who sign up called Queries, from copy editor Carl Rosen. (Information about the newsletter here.) 

The issue that came out yesterday, Queries Week 2, includes this question from a reader and an answer from Rosen that I thought would be of interest (and does anyone know if Rosen was/is a part of fandom?):

A pet peeve: The new widespread usage of the phrase “I’m excited for …” applied to events instead of people. I believe that we all used to say “I’m excited for you, the bride-to-be, getting married next month!” Or, “I’m so excited about your wedding!” Now everyone says instead “I’m so excited for your wedding!” As though an event needs empathy. When did this start and why is it allowed to continue? —Callie

It started in the locker room at my middle school and followed the misuse of best for favorite that stoked my dudgeon in playground discussions of filk songs and FIAWOL (sci-fi fan terms). At least excited people talk in ways that favor empathy, as you point out, so let’s extend our sympathies to them. But only in their quotations.

(8) PRONOUNS IN SPACE. Samantha Riedel says “A Gamer Tried to Remove Pronouns from ‘Starfield’ and It Turned Their Character Nonbinary” at Them.us.

No matter how many light years you travel, you just can’t outrun pronouns.

Starfield, Bethesda Game Studios’ new science fiction role-playing game, launched almost two weeks ago with its fair share of bugs and glitches — but for the internet’s angriest hobbyists, one thing above all else had ruined the game: a drop-down menu in character creation that allows players to choose their own woke pronouns, by which we mean you can choose whether to be referred to as “he,” “she,” or “they.” (Next you’ll be telling us they let you have blue hair — aw, shit!)

Anti-trans gamer bros went on a comments-section rampage, led by one YouTuber who briefly went viral for a shrieking rant about Bethesda “tak[ing] everything we love” and shoving it full of “fucking pronouns.” One person was so Large Mad about the pronoun selection option that they even modified the game’s PC version to remove the option from character creation entirely. There’s just one problem: the mod accidentally made the player’s character gender-neutral….

(9) DEBORAH K. JONES (1948-2023). “Deborah K. Jones 1948–2023: In Memoriam” at the International Costumers Guild website is a personal tribute by Eleanor Farrell.

I am very saddened to report that Deborah K. Jones, respected and admired by all in the costuming community for her exquisitely crafted and thoughtfully choreographed masquerade presentations, passed away peacefully on July 8, 2023, following a three year bout with glioblastoma. Debby had struggled with a number of medical issues over several decades, but always with a positive attitude and quiet fortitude, and never lost her sense of curiosity and creative drive. She is survived by her husband Terry and their two children, Rhiannon and Bryan….

Continues at the link.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 21, 1895 Norman Louis Knight. His most-remembered work is A Torrent of Faces, a novel co-written with James Blish and reprinted in the Ace Science Fiction Specials line. His only other writing is a handful of short fiction. Not surprisingly his short fiction isn’t available at the usual suspects but neither A Torrent of Faces. (Died 1972.)
  • Born September 21, 1912 Chuck JonesLooney Tunes and Merrie Melodies creator (think Bugs Bunny). His work won three Oscars, and the Academy also gave him an honorary one in 1996.  I’ve essayed him more that once here, so you know that I like him. What’s your favorite one of his? Though perhaps culturally suspect these days, I’m very fond of “Hillbilly Hare”. (Died 2002.)
  • Born September 21, 1935 Henry Gibson. I’m going confess upfront that I remember best him as a cast member of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. In regards to his genre work, he showed up on the My Favorite Martian series as Homer P. Gibson, he was in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as an uncredited dancer, in Bewitched twice, once as Napoleon Bonaparte, once as Tim O’ Shanter, he was the voice of Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web, in The Incredible Shrinking Woman as Dr. Eugene Nortz, and even in an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the “Profit and Lace” episode to be exact in which he was Nilva, a ferengi. (Died 2009.)
  • Born September 21, 1947 Stephen King, 76. I once saw him leaning up against a wall in Bangor outside his favorite breakfast spot nose deep in a paperback novel. That’s how his native city treated him. Favorite by him? I’m not fond of his novels but I love his novellas and shorter fiction, so Different SeasonsFour past Midnight and Skeleton Crew are my picks. 
  • Born September 21, 1950 Bill Murray, 73. Scrooged is my favorite film by him by a long shot followed by the first Ghostbusters film as I remain firmly not ambivalent about the other Ghostbusters films. I’m also fond of his voicing of Clive the Badger in Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • Born September 21, 1964 Andy Duncan, 59. If I were to start anywhere with him, it’d be with his very excellent short stories which fortunately were published in two World Fantasy Award-winning collections Beluthahatchie and Other Stories, and The Pottawatomie Giant and Other Stories, and another WFA nominee, An Agent of Utopia: New & Selected Stories.  I’ve read his novels, so what you recommend?  He has garnered some very impressive Awards — not only World Fantasy Awards for the two collections, but also for the “Wakulla Springs” novelette (co-authored with Ellen Klages), and a Nebula for the novelette “Close Encounters” (2013). He has three Hugo nominations, for his “Beluthahatchie” short story (1998), the novella “The Chief Designer” (2002), and “Wakulla Springs”
  • Born September 21, 1974 Dexter Palmer, 49. He wrote interesting novels, the first being The Dream of Perpetual Motion which is based off The Tempest, with steampunk, cyborgs and airships as well; the second being Version Control, a media-saturated twenty minutes into the future America complicated by time travel that keep changing everything. He wrote these and that was it. 
  • Born September 21, 1983 Cassandra Rose Clarke, 40. I strongly recommend The Witch Who Came in from the Cold, a serial fiction story she coauthored with Max Gladstone, Lindsay Smith, Ian Tregillis, and Michael Swanwick. It’s quite brilliant.  And The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, nominated for a Philip K. Dick Award, is equally brilliant.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) FINAL DOOM. TVLine brings news of “’Doom Patrol’ Final Season 4B Release Date, Trailer — Series Finale”.

Max on Thursday announced that Doom Patrol‘s in-progress final season will resume on Thursday, Oct. 12. Two episodes will drop on premiere day, followed by one new episode every week through Nov. 9.

In Season 4B, “the Doom Patrol meet old friends and foes as they race to defeat Immortus and get back their longevities,” according to the official logline. “Battling between saving the world and each other, the Doom Patrol are forced to face their deepest fears and decide if they are ready to let go of the past in order to take their future into their own hands — and away from the zombie butts.”…

(13) WHAT’S COMING TO THE COMIC-CON MUSEUM. “Comic-Con Museum Announces Fall 2023 Exhibits Featuring Popnology, Artist Colleen Doran, More”. The new exhibits debut October 4.

…This interactive exhibit looks back at how the pop culture of yesterday has influenced the technology of the future, exploring the fantasy and reality of driverless cars, robots, drones, 3D printers, and more.

Museum attendees will get to explore:

How We Play – The future of toys and games. Is virtual the new reality? Experience Oculus Rift and virtual projection games.

How We Connect – The revolution in communication technology, with concept drawings from the visual futurists who created the looks for Blade Runner.

How We Live and Work – Inventions and ideas that shape daily life, including interacting with robots.

How We Move – The future of transportation on Earth and beyond. Check out everything from a full-sized replica of the Back to the Future DMC DeLorean to the world’s first 3D-printed car.

…The first of which is “Colleen Doran Illustrates Neil Gaiman”, which features original artwork by the award-winning artist Colleen Doran. The new exhibit will focus on her work illustrating the stories of Neil Gaiman, including ChivalrySnowGlassApplesThe SandmanTroll BridgeAmerican GodsNorse Mythology, and the upcoming Good Omens.

The centerpiece of the exhibit will be 20 hand-painted pages for Doran and Gaiman’s Chivalry (Dark Horse Books), the Eisner-award winning graphic novel adaptation of Gaiman’s short story which features the story of Mrs. Whitaker, a British widow who finds the Holy Grail in a thrift shop and the knight who offers her priceless relics in exchange so he can win the Grail and end his quest…

(14) SUPER STYLING. DC Comics’ merch pages include “Batman & Superman Fashion Accessories” such as these “Batman Dark Knight Cufflinks”.

And this reference to some super villains: “Arkham Asylum Lapel Pin”.

(15) OCTOTHORPE. A belated Octothorpe episode 92 winging its way to you! Listen here: “Shouting From Inside the Room”.

John Coxon went to Reno, Alison Scott went to San Francisco, and Liz Batty went to Chicago. We spend some time discussing ConFrancisco, which celebrated its 30th anniversary recently, before also discussing Glasgow and Chengdu. We read out some excellent letters of comment and discuss some science fiction, too! The cover art is by our own Alison Scott.

(16) SAMPLE CASE. Nature tells how “Bringing space rocks back to Earth could answer some of life’s biggest questions”.

At 8.55 a.m. local time on 24 September, a small and precious cargo is due to touch down in Utah’s West Desert, ending a journey of more than two years and two billion kilometres. Released 100,000 kilometres from Earth by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, the sample capsule contains roughly 250 grams of material transported from the near-Earth asteroid 101955 Bennu — the largest ever asteroid sample to be brought back to Earth.

…The imminent return of the Bennu samples by OSIRIS-REx reminds me of what an exhilarating time this is and the profound possibilities of these precious materials.

(17) SINGLE EBELSKIVER TO ORBIT. [Item by Steven French.] Space-faring Swedes! (Should the cosmos be worried about a resurgence of Viking tendencies …?!!) “Hidden in the Arctic, Sweden is quietly winning Europe’s next big space race” reports the Guardian.

Once Europe’s first successful launch is completed, the base aims to build capacity for “rapid launching” by 2030, where satellites would be ready to be thrust into orbit within a fortnight of notification. “To us, it’s not a race to be first, it’s a race to be successful,” said Gustafsson, a former marathon canoeist with world championship medals to his name. But, he adds, “competition is good because it drives speed and cost effectiveness”. Make no mistake, the Swedes have their eyes on the stellar prize.

(18) SLOW BURN. See the “Close-up Ignition of a Rocket Engine in Slow Mo” courtesy of The Slow Mo Guys.

Gav plops down the high speed camera next to a rocket engine with 45,000lbs of thrust and the results are epic. Big thanks to Firefly for allowing us to film at their facility and BBC Click for letting us use their behind the scenes footage from the day.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Ersatz Culture, Chris Barkley, Jennifer Hawthorne, Steven French, Michael A. Burstein, Dariensync, Lise Andreasen, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Pixel Scroll 8/31/23 Scroll, Scroll, Scroll That Novelette

(1) CLARION WEST WORKSHOP FACULTY. Earlier this month Clarion West announced their 2024 Six-Week Summer Workshop Instructors:

The Clarion West 2024 Six-Week Summer Workshop will take place from June 16 – July 27, 2024. Applications for the 2024 Six-Week Workshop are planned to open in early December 2023. As of right now, Clarion West has tentatively booked a new location, fully ADA accessible, in Seattle to host the workshop in person.

(2) KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. From September 2-6 we’ll jump in the Worldcon Wayback Machine and celebrate the 30th anniversary of the ConFrancisco Worldcon of 1993. There will be a series of posts drawing on my conreport for File 770, Evelyn C. Leeper’s report for MT Void, and the reports of party mavens Scott Bobo and Kurt Baty.

(3) GLASGOW 2024 BURSARY FUND. Next year’s Worldcon just put out Progress Report #2 which includes news about their fund to assist people in attending and an appeal for donations.  

(4) EDELMAN COLLECTIBLES ON BLOCK TO FUND PODCAST TECH PURCHASES. Scott Edelman needs to fund the purchase of new podcasting equipment for Eating the Fantastic, so he’s putting up for auction some of the memorabilia he’s collected over the years. Edelman has listed three items on eBay so far — autographed Babylon 5 trading cards, a Russian edition of A Game of Thrones signed by George R. R. Martin, and a promotional replica of Rick Grimes’ gun from The Walking Dead. More items will be added soon.

(5) TIMOTHY’S APPENDIX N. “How to play Dungeons and Dragons” at Camestros Felapton.

Our resident game expert Timothy the Talking Cat will take you through the basics of some of the world’s most popular games.

…One of my favourite games is Dungeons and Dragons. You can spend a lot of money on books about Dungeons and Dragons but the basic game is very simple. …

Timothy knows all the inside info, like what “DM” stands for.

… The DM can send you messages on your phone (aka “direct messages”, hence the name) for extra clues….

(6) HORROR AROUND THE GLOBE. Here are two more links to the Horror Writers Association’s month-long World of Horror series.

Is there a horror tradition in your country, in your culture? A taste for horror, a market? Not necessarily literature; perhaps oral tradition too.

In Italian culture there are many horror traditions, different for each region. They all came to life from superstitions and syncretism between Christianity and paganism, handed down for generations, especially in small towns. Many of them have oral and rural origins, in the form of stories told by the elderly, with a metaphorical meaning, or as warnings. Italian folklore is rich in this sense, having been a crossroads of peoples and traditions, including ghosts, demons, creatures, witches (many of them linked to the processes of the Inquisition), incarnations of nightmares and revenge, or demiurges of events such as earthquakes, famines, epidemics. Italian horror writers have a lot of material of this kind for their stories, to make known the peculiarities of our territories, with myths and legends capable of telling the dark imaginary of our country.

Do you make a conscious effort to include characters and settings from your country in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?

All my writing is based in India, and I always ensure that characters and settings that portray my culture and socioeconomic situation form the baseline of my stories. My intention is to expose the audience to the horror while ensuring that they can actually imagine the setting and characters from their day-to-day lives.

(7) STAND BY FOR ISSUE 100 OF THE DARK. Sean Wallace, editor / publishers of The Dark, shared a peek at the cover of its hundredth issue, arriving soon.

(8) SOME TRILOGIES NEED A FOURTH BOOK.  “’It’s equal parts exciting and terrifying’: how authors are being influenced by their fans” in the Guardian. SF author Marie Lu responds to fans’ dismay over ending her Legends trilogy by making it a quartet:

…“Six years after Champion, I wrote a fourth book, Rebel, a real conclusion to the story that I had once thought finished. I realised that I wasn’t ready to let it go yet, and that I needed to know that my characters were going to be all right. I don’t think I would have known that had it not been for my readers. There is something special, even sacred, about the link between the writer and the reader, and about how we learn from each other, collaborators in our own way on a shared story.”…

(9) TERROR INITIATIVE AIMED AT LIBRARIES. Book Riot reports “There Have Been Several Public Library Bomb Threats This Week”.

Stochastic terrorism continues this week, following the numerous bomb threats made in Chicago-area libraries over the past month. Last week’s book censorship news roundup included a look at six different libraries in the Chicago suburbs which received bomb threats, followed by two more bomb threats at an Oklahoma school district and a Davis, California, public library. Several of those libraries received not just one bomb threat, but several over the course of the week.

What used to make headline news, though, now hardly gets a blip on the radar.

This week, there have been numerous bomb threats called into public libraries across the country. These threats are, no doubt, connected to the right-wing rhetoric around libraries and librarians. The rise of stochastic terrorism is what emerges when a political movement chooses to label a group “groomers” or “indoctrinators,” and through these bomb threats, they create terror for library workers and users alike….

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 31, 1914 Richard Basehart. He’s best remembered as Admiral Harriman Nelson in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. He also portrayed Wilton Knight in the later Knight Rider series. And he appeared in “Probe 7, Over and Out”, an episode of The Twilight Zone. (Died 1984.)
  • Born August 31, 1932 Robert Adams. He’s best remembered for the Horseclans series which became his overall best-known works though he wrote other works such as the Castaways in Time series.  While he never completed the series, he wrote 18 novels in the Horseclans series before his death. (Died 1990.)
  • Born August 31, 1949 Richard Gere, 74. Lancelot in First Knight starring Sean Connery as King Arthur. And was Joe Klein in The Mothman Prophecies. That’s it. First Knight for me is more than enough to get Birthday Honours!  And there’s Chicago which though not genre is absolutely stellar. 
  • Born August 31, 1958 Julie Brown, 65. Starred with Geena Davis in the cult SF comedy, Earth Girls Are Easy. She’s also been in genre films such as The Incredible Shrinking Woman, Bloody Birthday (a slasher film), Timebomb and Wakko’s Wish. She’s had one-offs in TV’s Quantum Leap and The Addams Family. She’s voiced a lot of animated characters included a memorable run doing the ever so sexy Minerva Mink on The Animaniacs. She reprised that role on Pinky and The Brain under the odd character name of Danette Spoonabello Minerva Mink. 
  • Born August 31, 1969 Jonathan LaPaglia, 54. The lead in Seven Days which I’ve noted before is one of my favorite SF series. Other than playing Prince Seth of Delphi in a really bad film called Gryphon which aired on the Sci-fi channel, that’s his entire genre history as far as I can tell unless you count the Bones series as SF in which he’s in “The Skull in the Sculpture” episode as Anton Deluca. 
  • Born August 31, 1982 G. Willow Wilson, 41. A true genius. There’s her amazing work on the WorldCon 75 Hugo Award winning Ms. Marvel series starring Kamala Khan which I recommend strongly, and that’s not to say that her superb Air series shouldn’t be on your reading list as should Alif the Unseen which remarkably some call cyberpunk. Oh, and the Cairo graphic novel with its duplicitous djinn is quite excellent as well. I’ve not yet read her Wonder Women story but will soon. She also got a nomination at Discon III for Invisible Kingdom, vol 2: Edge of Everything. Am I missing anything I should be reading? 
  • Born August 31, 1992 Holly Earl, 31. English actress who was Kela in Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, and Agnes in Humans. She also played the young Kristine Kochanski in Red Dwarf in the “Pete, Part One” as well as Lily Arwell in the most excellent Eleventh Doctor story, “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe.“ She was Céline in the “Musketeers Don’t Die Easily” episode of Musketeers, and played Hermia in the ‘18 A Midsummer Night’s Dream film.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side.  No, this is not that guy from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. For all we know, this guy only did it once.

(12) TANA Q&A. “Sci-Fi Noir Detective Saga ‘eJunky’ Explores the Risks and Consequences of Relying on Technology – An Interview with Nicholas Tana” at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society website.

Where did you get the idea for eJunky?

Like many good stories, it started with a nightmare. I woke up sweating after dreaming that I had been abducted by aliens. They appeared like thin humans with extra large heads and big eyes, shadowy figures, in the distance—like moving trees creeping toward me from the dark corners of my bedroom.
As they came within a few feet, I could see that they were dressed in spandex one-piece outfits, midnight black, which later glowed various neon colors, a rainbow array.

There was a sense that I bore witness to their emotions changing, almost like those 1980s mood rings. It was not unlike seeing auras, I would imagine. Their visors and clothes kept changing colors according to their mood.

Soon I was forced to wear one of their visors, too. Immediately, I got the sense that this served a serious purpose of survival, a way of protecting us from each other, as if we needed to know how we were feeling in order to keep from killing each other. My fear quickly changed to calmness for a moment. Until I started to watch as they dissected my body. There was a flicker of fear, but it was swept away with complacency, too.

Then, I woke up.

(13) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 91 of the Octothorpe podcast is now up. Listen here! “O— O— O—“

John Coxon, Alison Scott and Liz Batty discuss the Clarke Award winner, the Hugo Voter Packet, and site selection at Chengdu, before getting really quite digressive about GUFF and some fairly outlandish fundraising ideas… Finally, we do picks, as Alison is building LEGO, John has played the Spiel des Jahres shortlist, and Liz has read arguably TOO MANY books.

(14) BALMS AWAY. ‘Scent of eternity’: scientists recreate balms used on ancient Egyptian mummy” and the Guardian takes a sniff.

…“Senetnay’s mummification balm stands out as one of the most intricate and complex balms from that era,” said Barbara Huber, the first author of the research from the Max Planck Institute of Geoanthropology.

Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, the team say Senetnay lived around 1450BC and was a wet nurse to Pharaoh Amenhotep II.

Senetnay’s canopic jars – vessels in which the deceased’s mummified organs were stored – were discovered in a tomb in the Valley of the Kings in 1900 by Howard Carter, the British archeologist who would later become famous for his role in discovering the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Huber and colleagues analysed six samples of residues of the mummification balms from inside two jars that that had once contained Senetnay’s lungs and liver, as indicated by hieroglyphic inscriptions.

The team found the balms contained a complex mix of ingredients, including fats and oils, beeswax, bitumen, resins from trees of the pine family, a substance called coumarin that has a vanilla-like scent, and benzoic acid, which can be found in many plant sources including cinnamon and cloves….

(15) IT’S A THEORY. “Our Human Ancestors Very Nearly Went Extinct 900,000 Years Ago, Genetics Suggest”Smithsonian Magazine has the story.

… The study, published Thursday in Science, analyzed the genetic lineages of 3,154 modern humans to trace their characteristics backward in time and model the population patterns likeliest to have produced their existing genomes. Wangjie Hu, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and colleagues suggest that between 813,000 and 930,000 years ago the population of ancient humans that would eventually give rise to our own species, Homo sapiens, experienced what geneticists call a “bottleneck.” For unknown reasons, perhaps difficult environmental conditions, their numbers plunged dramatically to a point where our lineage was within a whisper of total extinction. Based on the study’s estimates, some 98.7 percent of our human ancestors were wiped out.,,,

… Population fluctuations, even those hundreds of thousands of years ago, leave signatures that can be identified in modern humans’ genomic sequences. To analyze them, a team of researchers led by Chinese geneticists developed a new tool called FitCoal. The researchers used the tool on more than 3,000 living individuals from 10 African populations and 40 non-African populations. FitCoal computations traced the populations’ many genetic mutations and their probabilities of occurring backward in time to arrive at estimates of population sizes that existed at various moments in evolutionary history.,,,

…Amazingly, the study suggests that our ancestors managed to survive in precariously small numbers for an extremely long time—an estimated 120,000 years. But when conditions again became conducive to human habitation, whether through beneficial climate shifts or, as the authors theorize, technological advances like human control of fire, our ancestors bounced back swiftly. By around 813,000 years ago, all ten African populations in the study appear to have increased by a factor of 20 times.

The Natural History Museum’s Stringer notes that, like other methods of reconstructing past populations, FitCoal relies on some assumptions and simplifications of factors like mutation rates. Since the authors have made FitCoal available to scholars, he adds, its accuracy will be further tested, and researchers may use it to investigate populations through other genomes like those of Neanderthals and Denisovans….

(16) DEMAND IN UK FOR AI LEGISLATION. BBC News reports “Pass AI law soon or risk falling behind, MPs warn”.

…The report also highlights twelve “challenges” that the UK government must address, including:

  • Bias: For example AI employment tools might associate women’s names with traditionally female roles
  • Privacy: AI tools can be used to identify people in ways that are controversial. For example, police use of live facial recognition systems that scan faces and compare them to watchlists of suspects
  • Employment: AI systems will replace some jobs and the economic impact of this will need to be addressed

The use of copyrighted material to train AI systems is also one of the challenges.

So-called generative AI systems can now create new works in the style of famous artists, actors and musicians.

But to pull off this feat AI is trained on huge amounts of copyrighted material. Many authors, actors, artists and musicians argue that AI should not be trained on their works without permission and compensation.

There are already steps to develop a voluntary agreement that would allow AI firms access to copyrighted works, while at the same time supporting artists, the report notes.

A planned exemption to copyright for AI firms was abandoned by the government in February….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. While covering all the other “Barbenheimer” inspired creativity this summer I may have overlooked Ryan George’s “Barbenheimer Pitch Meeting”. But it’s not too late!

Once in a while, the internet goes absolutely nuts for something seemingly random. Recently, the concept of a Barbenheimer double feature emerge, and what seemed like just an internet meme translated into actual, real-world, box office dollars. Take that, Morbius! Barbenheimer definitely raises some questions. Like how did this insane pairing of films come to be? What do these movies have in common? Why is every single word in Oppenheimer underscored with epic music? Why did Barbie keep driving its message home long after it was clear what it was trying to say? To answer all these questions, check out the pitch meeting that led to Barbenheimer!

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Steven French, John Coxon, Jeffrey Smith, Lise Andreasen, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge, for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern, who knows a smokin’ idea when he has one.]

Pixel Scroll 8/3/23 For Who Knows What Pixels Will Come, When You Have Shuffled Off This Mortal File

(1) GOOD OMENS GRAPHIC NOVEL KICKSTARTER BREAKS RECORDS. A Kickstarter to publish a hardcover graphic novel of Pratchett and Gaiman’s Good Omens, adapted by illustrator Colleen Doran, raised over $1 million in the first two days. According to the project page, it broke two Kickstarter records: the most successful 24 hours of any comic campaign and the most-backed comics Kickstarter.

Dunmanifestin, the publishing arm of Terry Pratchett estate, will also make GOOD OMENS: the Official (and Ineffable) Graphic Novel available to bookstores as well through a pledging pre-order process.

(2) MOVE NOW TO GET “JOHN THE BALLADEER” BONUS. Place your order for the Haffner Press’ Manly Wade Wellman collection The Complete John The Balladeer by August 10 to receive a chapbook of the unpublished Wellman story, “Not All a Dream”.

Here’s the cover for the story, and photos of the big book in final stages of production.

(3) ZOOMING THROUGH FANHISTORY. Fanac.org’s next Fanhistory Zoom Session is: Boston in the 60s, with Tony Lewis, Leslie Turek and Mike Ward, moderated by Mark Olson on September 23.To get an invite, send a note to [email protected].

Boston in the 60s was a generative hotbed of fannish activities, with long lasting consequences. The first modern Boskone was held in 1965 by the Boston Science Fiction Society, as part of its bidding strategy for Boston in ’67. NESFA began in 1967, and the first Boston Worldcon was held in 1971. MIT provided a ready source of new fans, and they made themselves heard in fanzines, indexes, clubs and conventions (and invented the micro-filk). What was Boston fandom like in the 60s? How was it influenced by MIT? Who were the driving forces and BNFs? What were the impacts of the failed 67 bid? What made Boston unique?

September 23, 2023 at 4PM EDT (New York), 1PM Pacific (PDT), 9PM London (BST) and 6AM Sept 24 in Melbourne

(4) HE’S A CEO BRO. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The good news: Warner Bros. believes the writer’s and actor’s strikes may be over soon.

The bad news: They’re telling investors that, meanwhile, WB is saving sooooo much money that investors should jump for joy (and maybe root for the strikes to continue). “Warner Bros. thinks the strike will end soon. Meanwhile, it’s saving millions” in the Washington Post.

…Warner Bros. Discovery expects that the Hollywood strike will end in a few weeks, executives said in a public earnings call Thursday. But even if actors and writers remain on the picket lines into next year, the studio is projecting hundreds of millions of dollars in savings as an “upside.”

Chief financial officers Gunnar Wiedenfels said a work stoppage by thousands of unionized writers in May resulted in more than $100 million in savings, which helped juice Warner’s free cash flow above projections — to $1.7 billion between April and June. The company reported about $10.4 billion in revenue for the quarter, though it still lost $1.2 billion.

Analysts expect Warner’s free cash flow to remain strong next quarter, which will include the impact of tens of thousands of unionized actors who joined the strike in July, shutting down almost all remaining production in Hollywood….

(5) DECLINED CHENGDU OFFER. The Octothorpe team, John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty, are not taking up the Chengdu Worldcon’s offer of financial and other assistance to attend the con.

(6) STATUS OF HUGO VOTER PACKET. The Chengdu Worldcon told Facebook readers today: “We are still collecting materials for the voter packet. Hopefully, within a week we will see all. Fingers crossed!”

(7) GET OFF MY LAWN. “George Lucas learned he’s not official owner of California driveway — so he’s suing”Yahoo! has the story.

George Lucas, the creator of “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones,” recently learned he’s not the official owner of a paved driveway leading to one of his properties in California’s Bay Area, according to a lawsuit.

Lucas, and those permitted by his agents, have driven up the strip to the San Anselmo property over the past three decades — dating back to around 1990, a complaint filed Marin County Superior Court on May 15 says

The acclaimed filmmaker suspects heirs of his deceased neighbors may have been granted the right to access part of the driveway and believes they may claim that right, the complaint says.

As a result, Lucas has filed a lawsuit against those heirs and the town of San Anselmo to ensure he’s declared the rightful owner of the strip, the complaint shows. The lawsuit was first reported by the Marin Independent Journal

(8) CLARION WEST INTERVIEWS. This summer Clarion West is featuring three interviews with people from their community. Access them at the link.

Q&A with 2023 Six-Week Workshop instructor Samit Basu
Get to know our Week 3 instructor, Samit Basu, as he shares about writing and publishing across multiple genres (and countries!), plus what he’s looking forward to with Clarion West.

Interviews with Sagan Yee (CW ’21) and Fawaz Al-Matrouk (CW ’21)
Six-Week Workshop alumni Sagan Yee and Fawaz Al-Matrouk share their virtual workshop tips and insights for this year’s class. Helpful advice on balance, self-care, and facilitating online connection — useful for anyone interested in virtual learning!

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 3, 1861 — Michel Jean Pierre Verne. Son of Jules Verne who we now know rewrote some of his father’s later novels. These novels have since been restored using the original manuscripts which were preserved. He also wrote and published short stories using his father’s name. None of these are the major works Jules is now known for. (Died 1925.)
  • Born August 3, 1904 — Clifford Simak. I was trying to remember the first novel by him I read. I’m reasonably sure it was Way Station though it could’ve been City which won a well-deserved Retro Hugo. I’m fond of Cemetery World and A Choice of Gods as well. By the way I’m puzzled by the Horror Writers Association making him one of their three inaugural winners of the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement. What of his is truly horror? (Died 1988.)
  • Born August 3, 1920 — P. D. James. Author of The Children of Men which she wrote to answer the question “If there were no future, how would we behave?” Made into a film which she said she really liked despite it being substantially different than her novel. I like authors who can do that. ISFDB lists her as having done a short story called “Murder, 1986” which they say is genre but I’ve not read it. (Died 2014.)
  • Born August 3, 1940 — Martin Sheen, 83. So that was who that was! On Babylon 5: The River of Souls, there’s a Soul Hunter but the film originally didn’t credit an actor who turns out to be Sheen. Amazing performance. He’s been in a number of other genre roles but that’s the ones I like most. Though I will single him out for voicing Arthur Square in Flatland: The Movie
  • Born August 3, 1946 — John DeChancie, 77. A native of Pittsburgh, he is best known for his Castle fantasy series, and his SF Skyway series. He’s fairly prolific even having done a Witchblade novel. Who here has read him? Opinions please. 
  • Born August 3, 1950 — John Landis, 73. He’d make this Birthday List if all he’d done was An American Werewolf in London, but he was also Director / Producer / Writer of the Twilight Zone movie. And wrote Clue which is the best Tim Curry role ever. And Executive Produced one of the best SF comedies ever, Amazon Women on the Moon. Neat fact: he was the puppeteer for Grover in The Muppet Movie, and he later played Leonard Winsop in The Muppets Take Manhattan
  • Born August 3, 1972 — Brigid Brannagh, 51. Also credited, in astonishing number of last names, as Brigid Brannagh, Brigid Brannah, Brigid Brannaugh, Brigid Walsh, and Brigid Conley Walsh. Need an Irish red headed colleen in a genre role? Well she apparently would do. She shows up in Kindred: The Embrace, American GothicSliders, Enterprise (as a bartender), RoarTouched by an Angel, Charmed, Early Edition, Angel (as Virginia Bryce in a recurring role), GrimmSupernatural and on Runaways in the main role of Stacey Yorkes. 

(10) WHO HAS THEM? “Doctor Who missing episodes are ‘out there’, says TV archive boss” to Radio Times.

The head of TV archive Kaleidoscope has suggested that ‘missing’ episodes of Doctor Who are known to still exist, but remain in private collections.

Out of 253 episodes from the show’s first six years, 97 remain lost in their original form, due to the BBC’s policy of junking archive programming between 1967 and 1978.

As a result, numerous adventures of the First Doctor (played by William Hartnell) and the Second Doctor (played by Patrick Troughton) are either incomplete or missing in their entirety….

(11) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 89 of the Octothorpe podcast, “The Winner Does Not Receive a Pie”,  John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty “read your lovely letters of comment before discussing podcast transcripts, podcast programme, generative AI, free trips to China (we’re not going), and picks.”

(12) OCTOTHORPE HUGO VOTER PACKET SUBMISSION. And while we’re busy making this the all-Octothorpe edition of the Scroll, the team announced they have uploaded transcripts and subtitles for Episodes 49, 62, and 72 as part of their Hugo Voter Packet submission.

(13) IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING. “Gal Gadot Developing Wonder Woman 3 With James Gunn, Peter Safran (Exclusive)” reports Comicbook.com.

The DC Universe on film is headed in a new direction under James Gunn and Peter Safran, but it sounds like Gal Gadot is still going to be involved with Wonder Woman‘s future. Gadot debuted as Diana Prince in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. She then headlined 2017’s Wonder Woman and its 2020 sequel, Wonder Woman 1984 opposite Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, both helmed by director Patty Jenkins, while also appearing in Justice League (and the fully Zack Snyder-helmed director’s cut). As Gunn and Safran took over as co-heads of the rechristened DC Studios for Warner Bros., plans for Patty Jenkins to return for Wonder Woman 3 were scrapped. That left Gadot’s future as Wonder Woman unclear. Things became murkier when she appeared in a cameo role in Shazam! Fury of the Gods, but had a similar cameo cut from The Flash, starring Ezra Miller, where she would have appeared alongside Ben Affleck as Batman and Henry Cavill as Superman, further confusing fans.

Speaking to ComicBook.com’s Chris Killian for her new Netflix movie Heart of Stone before the SAG-AFTRA strike, Gadot said that, as she understands it, she will be developing Wonder Woman 3 together with Gunn and Safran. “I love portraying Wonder Woman,” Gadot says…. 

(14) ALL ROADS LEAD TO CURRY. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] You know how it is — been to see a few panels, desperately avoid spending too much in the dealers room, catch a recent art house SF film — and it’s the evening and you’ve had a few beers in the hotel bar…  So it’s time for a curry.  But for how long have people been doing this?

Researchers have now found on ancient culinary tools from 2,000 years ago in Southern Vietnam “culinary spices that include turmeric, ginger, finger root, sand ginger, galangal,clove, nutmeg,and cinnamon. These spices are indispensable ingredients used in the making of curry in South Asia today. [The researchers] suggest that South Asian migrants or visitors introduced this culinary tradition into Southeast Asia during the period of early trade contact via the Indian Ocean, commencing about 2000 years ago.” [Wang, W., et al (2023) Earliest curry in Southeast Asia and the global spice trade 2000 years ago. Science Advances, vol.9 (29), eadh551]

The maritime trading networks and the Silk Road linked the Eurasian continent and the ancient civilizations of the world at least since 2,000 years ago. Southeast Asia, such as the trading entrepôt, Oc Eo, is at the crossroads of the ancient maritime trading networks

Potential maritime trading networks, the realm of Funan, and the location of Oc Eo.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Planet Zoom Players bring us “The Crystal Egg” by H. G. Wells, a play adaptation with effects.

Join us to see what kindly old Mr. Cave sees in his crystal egg. What does this new world mean for Earth’s future. This performance is enhanced with illustrations, music, and animations. This is an amateur production created by Planet Zoom Players.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/7/23 The Universal Pixelscroll

(1) BE UPSTANDING. The space shuttle Endeavour will be rehoused in a new building that will allow it to be displayed upright in its original launch position, mated to the orange external tank and two booster rockets: “Space shuttle Endeavour preps for move to new museum” reports the LA Times.

After more than a decade on display at the California Science Center, the space shuttle Endeavour will begin the final trek to its permanent home at a new Los Angeles building in the coming months.

To get ready for the grand move, the state-run museum announced Thursday that crews will begin the installation of the base of the shuttle’s full stack on July 20. Workers will use a 300-ton crane to lower the bottom sections of the twin solid rocket boosters, which are 10,000 pounds apiece and roughly 9 feet tall, to the freshly built lowest section of the partly constructed $400-million Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.

It’ll be the first of many delicate maneuvers conducted over roughly six months (if the weather cooperates). Eventually, all half-million pounds of the full stack — including the shuttle Endeavour and a giant orange external tank — will rest on the base of the solid rocket boosters, bolted to the ground by eight supersized, superalloy fasteners that are 9 feet long and weigh 500 to 600 pounds….

(2) OCTOTHORPE. John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty have uttered Episode 87 of the Octothorpe podcast, “We Didn’t Imagine the Third Option”.

Wheeeeeee we’re Hugo finalists again! Huge congratulations to Alison Scott and España Sheriff who are finalists in Best Fan Artist, huge congratulations to John Coxon who’s a finalist with Journey Planet in Best Fanzine, and of course congratulations to transatlantic besties and cocky cake-makers Hugo, Girl! We also discuss the Locus and the BSFA Awards, plus (of course) picks.

(3) MEET RIVERFLOW. Chinese fan RiverFlow, a two-time 2023 Hugo finalist, tweeted this self-introduction:

(4) IT’S AN HONOR JUST TO BE NOMINATED. Wil Wheaton also shared his happy news: “Still Just A Geek is a Hugo award finalist” at WilWheaton.net.

I have been nominated for a few things in my life. I’ve even won a few. But I have not won way more often than I have. Based on my experience, the “I won!” thing is awesome for a short time, but where that euphoria fades quickly, the genuine honor of “I was nominated!” lasts forever. With that in mind, I looked at the other nominees this morning, and … I think it’s very unlikely I’ll be making space for a Hugo statue in my house. But that’s okay! I got to reach out to my TNG family today and tell them about it, and everyone who replied made me feel the love and pride that I imagine kids feel from parents who love them unconditionally.

If Still Just A Geek wins in its category, it’s going to be awesome. I’m not going to lie: I think it would be pretty great if I got to have a Hugo in my house, next to my Tabletop trophies. But if it doesn’t, the excitement, joy, and gratitude I feel that my story even made the finalists this year will never go away, and I get to have that whether I get the statue or not.

(5) COMPLETE LISTS OF HUGO FINALISTS. The Chengdu Worldcon Hugo Administrator limited the number of names they would place on the ballot announcement. As a result, several finalists have tweeted links to the complete lists of people they believe should be included.

(6) HUGO FINALIST ANNOUNCEMENT VIDEO. The Chengdu Worldcon has added the 81st Worldcon Hugo Awards Finalists Announcement to YouTube.

(7) CLARION CROWDFUNDING. The Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop at UC San Diego is in the midst of a 2023 crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to support the next generation of science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers. They have raised over $5,500 of their $20,000 with over three weeks remaining.

Would you be interested in these perks on offer to donors?

Want to have your name in a new Cory Doctorow novel?

Talk worldbuilding with Sue Burke?

Get a signed proof of Kim Stanley Robinson’s story “UCSD and Permaculture”?

Or name a scholarship to support making attending Clarion possible for a student next year? (Donation = $1,000)

All these — and t-shirts! — are on offer through the Clarion Workshop IndieGogo campaign. 

(8) ROGERS: THE MUSICAL. [Item by Daniel Dern.] I’d lost track that info about this was already scrolled — Item 7 in the June 30 Scroll — but it doesn’t look like there were any links to the actual show.

Here’s the five-and-a-half-minute trailer, from Marvel’s D23 Ex (watching the full thing once was enough for me, and it’s not the same without seeing Clint “Hawkeye” Barton in the audience shaking his head…

And here’s two  of many links to the full 37-minute show. (The first one seems to have more close-ups, but “features” some MST3K back of somebody’s head mid-left…):

  • Rogers: The Musical | Full Show, Disney California Adventure Park
  • Full Show: Rogers: The Musical | Disney California Adventure

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1963 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

This Scroll, Mike picked a work by Clifford Simak who I knew thot y’all know, so I see no need to introduce him to you. I will say that he was one of the first genre writers that I read deeply of. 

I’m fairly sure the first work by him that I read was City, a work that remains my favorite by him. But tonight we’re here to talk about Way Station, the source of the Beginning the Mike choose, another favorite of mine.

It was published by Doubleday in 1963 with the cover at by Ronald Fratell. It would win a Hugo at Pacificon II for the original publication as Here Gather the Stars in Galaxy’s June and August 1963 issues. 

And now let us turn to the Beginning…

The noise was ended now. The smoke drifted like thin, gray wisps of fog above the tortured earth and the shattered fences and the peach trees that had been whittled into toothpicks by the cannon fire. For a moment silence, if not peace, fell upon those few square miles of ground where just a while before men had screamed and torn at one another in the frenzy of old hate and had contended in an ancient striving and then had fallen apart, exhausted. 

For endless time, it seemed, there had been belching thunder rolling from horizon to horizon and the gouted earth that had spouted in the sky and the screams of horses and the hoarse bellowing of men; the whistling of metal and the thud when the whistle ended; the flash of searing fire and the brightness of the steel; the bravery of the colors snapping in the battle wind. 

Then it all had ended and there was a silence. 

But silence was an alien note that held no right upon this field or day, and it was broken by the whimper and the pain, the cry for water, and the prayer for death—the crying and the calling and the whimpering that would go on for hours beneath the summer sun. Later the huddled shapes would grow quiet and still and there would be an odor that would sicken all who passed, and the graves would be shallow graves. 

There was wheat that never would be harvested, trees that would not bloom when spring came round again, and on the slope of land that ran up to the ridge the words unspoken and the deeds undone and the sodden bundles that cried aloud the emptiness and the waste of death. 

There were proud names that were the prouder now, but now no more than names to echo down the ages—the Iron Brigade, the 5th New Hampshire, the 1st Minnesota, the 2nd Massachusetts, the 16th Maine. 

And there was Enoch Wallace

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 7, 1907 Robert Heinlein. Let’s have Paul Weimer tell about his favorite Heinlein works: “If I had to pick one favorite Heinlein novel, and that’s a tough road to hoe, I am going to go with the novel I’ve re-read the most and it’s probably not going to be the one you think.  It’s Glory Road. Yes, Glory Road. The back matter once the quest is done can be overcooked, but Heinlein had a keen eye for epic fantasy quests, the good and the bad, long before the rise of Tolkien clones. It was an early Heinlein for me, and the novel has stuck with me since, with a number of audio re-reads. I survived a boring drive across the flatness of the Great Plains by listening to the adventures of Oscar Gordon.” // If I had to pick one Heinlein story, I have a strong fondness for All You Zombies, which encapsulates all the potential paradoxes of time travel in a way that has been done at greater length, but not, I’d argue, with better effect. (The movie Predestination with Ethan Hawke is pretty darned good by the way). Oh, and my favorite book ABOUT Heinlein is Farah Mendelsohn’s The Pleasant Profession of Robert Heinlein. (Died 1988.)
  • Born July 7, 1919 — Jon Pertwee. The Third Doctor and one that I’ll admit I like a lot. He returned to the role of the Doctor in The Five Doctors and the charity special Dimensions in Time for Children in Need. He also portrayed the Doctor in the stage play Doctor Who – The Ultimate Adventure.  After a four-year-run here, he was the lead on Worzel Gummidge where he was, errr, a scarecrow. And I must note that one of his first roles was as The Judge in the film of Toad of Toad Hall by A. A. Milne. (Died 1996.)
  • Born July 7, 1946 Lisa Seagram. I’m noting her here because she was in the Batman episode “Louie, the Lilac” as Lila in which Milton Berle played the title character. She also had one-offs in both The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., plus My Favorite Martian and Bewitched. (Died 2019.)
  • Born July 7, 1931 David Eddings. Prolific and great, with his wife Leigh, they authored several best-selling epic fantasy novel series, including The BelgariadThe Malloreon and The Dreamers to name but three of their series. He’s written but one non-series novel, The Redemption of Althalus. (Died 2009.)
  • Born July 7, 1959 Billy Campbell, 64. There are some films so good in my memory that even the Suck Fairy can’t spoil them and The Rocketeer in which he played stunt pilot Cliff Secord is one of them. (IDW did a hardcover edition called Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures which Amazon has it for a mere twenty bucks! And the ePub is available from the usual suspects for a mere five dollars and ninety nine cents.) Yes, he did other work of genre interest including the main role of Jordan Collier on The 4400, Quincey Morris on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Captain Thadiun Okona in “The Outrageous Okona” episode of Next Gen, the Maine Dr. Alan Farragut on Helix and he’s currently voicing Okona once again on Prodigy.
  • Born July 7, 1968 Jeff VanderMeer, 55. Ok I’ll admit that I’m ambivalent about the Southern Reach Trilogy and am not sure if it’s brilliant or not though it is I’ll say quite disturbing. (Haven’t seen the film and have no desire to so.) I will say the pirate anthology he and his wife Anne did, Fast Ships, Black Sails, is quite tasty reading.  Now let’s see what the Hugos would hold for him. At Noreascon 4 for The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases which I truly, madly love, he got a Hugo. He along with his Ann picked up at Anticipation up one for Best Semiprozine: for Weird Tales. It would be nominated the next year at Aussiecon 4 but Clarkesworld would win as it would the Renovation losing out again to ClarkesworldThe Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature which he co-edited with  S. J. Chambers was nominated at Chicon 7. Another Best Related Work was nominated at Loncon 3, Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction. Finally the film Annihilation based off the Southern Reach trilogy was nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo at Dublin 2019. 
  • Born July 7, 1987 V.E. Schwab, 36. I’m very pleased with her A Darker Shade of Magic which explores magicians in a parallel universe London. It’s part of her Shades of Magic series. Highly recommended. Her Cassidy Blake series is also good provided you’re a Potter fan because she makes a lot of references to that series.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Arlo and Janis know there’s always someone ready to jump in and correct the details. Just like in the comments here!

(12) THE VOID CAPTAINS. Mark and Evelyn Leeper today reminded people of the history of their prolific fanzine in today’s issue, the 2278th MT VOID:

The MT VOID started as a zine for the newly formed Science Fiction Club at Bell Labs in Holmdel in August 1978, but we have always been the editors (and primary writers).  It has been weekly for decades, and has continued even after we retired and the Science Fiction Club dissolved.  The current issue is #2278, making it (I’m pretty sure) the perzine with the most issues ever, and at 45 years, one of the longest running.

In July 1981, our area was split off and moved to Lincroft.  At that point we thought we needed to spin off a new club, so we started re-numbering the MT VOID (not yet called that) at that point.  Hence the volume roll-over in July.  Eventually we ended up remerging the clubs and newsletters, but kept the new numbering.

At some point in the 1980s we also renamed the club as the “Mt.  Holz Science Fiction Club”.  “Mt. Holz” came from the inter-company mail designations for the three New Jersey locations of AT&T et al where we once had meetings:
MT Middletown
HO Holmdel
LZ Lincroft

As the work environment changed, meetings eventually ended, but the MT VOID kept rolling along.  We retained the “Mt. Holz” name in the heading until last year, when we decided it was misleading to pretend there was an actual club behind this.  [-mrl/ecl]

(13) GOING DOWN TO THE SECOND. “After ‘Barbie,’ Mattel Is Raiding Its Entire Toybox” says The New Yorker.

In 2019, Greta Gerwig became the latest in a line of writers, directors, and producers to make a pilgrimage to a toy workshop in El Segundo, California. Touring the facility, the Mattel Design Center, has become a rite of passage for Hollywood types who are considering transforming one of the company’s products into a movie—a list that now includes such names as J. J. Abrams (Hot Wheels) and Vin Diesel (Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots). The building has hundreds of workspaces for artists, model-makers, and project managers, and it houses elaborate museum-style exhibitions that document the company’s history and core products. These displays can help a toy designer find inspiration; they can also offer a “brand immersion”—a crash course in a Mattel property slated for adaptation. When a V.I.P. visits, Richard Dickson, a tall, bespectacled man who is the company’s chief operating officer, plays the role of Willy Wonka. He’ll show off the sixty-five-year-old machines that are still used to affix fake hair to Barbies; he’ll invite you to inspect life-size, road-ready replicas of Hot Wheels cars. The center even boasts a giant rendering of Castle Grayskull, the fearsome ancestral home of He-Man. “The brand immersion is the everything moment,” Dickson told me. “I have met with some of the greatest artists, truly, in the world. . . . And, if you don’t walk out drinking the Kool-Aid, then it was a great playdate, but maybe we don’t continue playing.”

The actress Margot Robbie, who had toured the center in 2018, wanted to continue playing. She’d signed up for a Barbie movie, and had approached Gerwig about writing the script. She saw in Gerwig’s filmography the right combination of intelligence and heart: “You watch something like ‘Little Women,’ and the dialogue is very, very clever—it’s talking about some big things—but it’s also extremely emotional.” The project wasn’t an obvious fit for someone whose screenplays included the subtle dramas “Lady Bird” and “Frances Ha,” and Gerwig wavered for more than a year. At one point, Dickson called her when she was mixing “Little Women” in New York. “I don’t have a ton of friends in corporate America,” she told me, over Zoom. “But he was very excited. It was sweet.” She finally agreed to come to El Segundo…

(14) ASCENDING MT. TBR. Camestros Felapton is catching up on his reading: “Review: The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher”.

…The book makes no apologies and shows no respect for genre boundaries. With a chatty, out-going narrator, multiple sections about the trials of clearing out the home of a hoarder, friendly neighbours and a welcoming coffee shop, the story has many elements associated with, dare I say, “cosy” fiction. The latter sections head more into the realm of portal-fantasy. However, these elements are simply flesh hung upon the bones of the horror of thoughts that overwhelm you….

(15) BERLITZKRIEG. Everyone laughs as “Harrison Ford Roasts Conan O’Brien Mid-Interview for Having a Han Solo Note Reminder: ‘You Can’t F—ing Remember That?’”Variety has the story.

Harrison Ford roasted Conan O’Brien on a recent episode of the “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” podcast after the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” icon discovered O’Brien had “Han Solo” written down in his notes for the interview. The two men were playfully arguing about Ford’s ancestry, which led O’Brien to consult some info he had jotted down prior to the interview.

“I refer you to this piece of paper right here,” O’Brien said. “That says, ‘Born and raised in Chicago to an Irish German father—’”

Ford leaned over to take a look at O’Brien’s notes and then interrupted the host when he realized they included a reminder that Ford played Han Solo in the “Star Wars” franchise. Along with Indiana Jones, Han Solo is Ford’s most iconic character.

“Well if that’s a quality of your research, and I imagine it is because right there it says ‘Harrison Ford’ and then you had to write ‘Han Solo,’” Ford said. “You can’t fucking remember that?”

“No I can’t. I can’t remember Han Solo,” O’Brien hilariously fired back. “I wrote it down because I heard that you were in some of the ‘Star Wars’ films, and this was news to me because I’ve seen those films and I don’t exactly think that you ‘pop.’”

O’Brien continued, “I’m sorry. But I mean, I remember Chewbacca, I remember the bad guy with the black helmet and then… there’s some people.”

Ford took matters into his own hands, asking O’Brien, “How come you’re not still on television?”…

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

Pixel Scroll 6/22/23 You Are An Odd Fellow But I Must Say…. You Scroll A Good Pixel

(1) DROPPING THE PILOT. The Horror Writers Association said goodbye to HWA Admistrator Brad C. Hodson today.

Message from the HWA Board of Trustees

The HWA and its administrator, Brad C. Hodson, have officially parted ways. Brad has served the HWA for many years and, in addition to performing his numerous administrative duties, he has helped to shepherd some wonderful initiatives, such as Horror University and health insurance for our members. We appreciate his hard work and dedication, and we wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.

As President John Edward Lawson stated at the General Meeting at StokerCon 2023, we are terminating the administrator position and instituting a new role: Executive Director. Our Treasurer, Max Gold, will be the interim Executive Director. We are grateful he has accepted this responsibility and are looking forward to working with him in this capacity.

We will begin to phase out the [email protected] email address, but Max will still be receiving emails through it. You can also email him at [email protected].

(2) HEADS ARE ROLLING. “The Flash’ Flopped. Is Turner Classic Movies Paying the Price?” asks Vanity Fair.

When Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav anointed the newly-merged company with its slogan “the stuff that dreams are made of,” he paid homage to the classic film noir, The Maltese Falcon. Since then, he’s often touted his appreciation for cinema—rescuing Jack L. Warner’s old desk from storage so he could work from it, moving into Robert Evans’s former Beverly Hills home, and declaring Turner Classic Movies “the history of our country” at the network’s film festival in April.

As TCM general manager Pola Changnon told IndieWire earlier this year, Zaslav’s assistant ensured that “he had TCM on in his office all the time.” On Tuesday, after 25 years with the company, Changnon parted ways with TCM—the first in a string of top brass exits that now include TCM’s senior vice president of programming and content strategy Charles Tabesh, vice president of studio production Anne Wilson, vice president of marketing and creative Dexter Fedor, and TCM Enterprises vice president Genevieve McGillicuddy, a TCM representative confirmed to Vanity FairMichael Ouweleen, president of Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Discovery Family, and Boomerang, and TCM alum, will take charge, per a company memo. According to the outlet’s sources, layoffs in TCM’s public relations department are expected to follow.

The gutting of TCM’s top creatives comes in the days after a major flop for Warner Bros. The Flash, a superhero blockbuster meant to link Zack Snyder’s regime at DC Studios with James Gunn’s new era, made just $55 million at the North American box office over the weekend. That’s after both the studio poured hundreds of millions into production and advertising and Zaslav himself labeled it the best superhero movie he’s ever seen.

There’s no definitive correlation between the flattening of TCM and the failure of The Flash, but it’s hard not to see it as one of a brand’s entities paying for the sins of another….

(3) HEAR FROM MANON STEFFAN ROS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Yesterday’s  B. Beeb Ceeb Radio 4 arts programme Front Row had an interview with yesterday’s winner of the Yoto Carnegie Medal for WritingManon Steffan Ros, author and translator of The Blue Book of Nebo, which is juvenile SF and rather good. It first came out in 2018 in Welsh as Llyfr Glas Nebo but then was republished in English last year hence eligible for this year’s Carnegie.

 It concerns the notes of a young woman who looks after her son who was only six when the world ended…

 I note that McCormac, who recently passed, most famous post-apocalyptic, The Road, concerned a father looking after his son and this year’s The Last of Us TV series had a boy being looked after in a post-apocalyptic setting (gosh, I enjoy the end of the world as long as it is firmly in SF). So it’s good to see a mum come to the fore.

(4) ABOUT SFWA SELLING T-SHIRTS… [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] In the File 770 comment section a few days ago, I mentioned there might have been a SFWA t-shirt long before the current offerings on the SFWA merch page.

Was able to find mine way at the back of a drawer today, so here’s a photo. I misremembered it as being based on a SFWA Bulletin cover; the original illustration was for SFWA FORUM, the members-only pub where writers clashed heads and competed to see who had the ugliest letterhead. (Members’s letters were xeroxed and pasted up for the Forum letter pages back then, including the letterheads.) I think the t-shirt dates from the late 1990s or early 2000s. 

(5) FULL HOUSE. James Davis Nicoll points us to “Five Novels Featuring Political Scandals and Skulduggery” at Tor.com. One of them is —

A Thunder of Stars by Dan Morgan and John Kippax (1970)

The first volume in the Venturer 12 series begins as all interstellar patrol series should, with extensive Commissioning Board hearings to determine the best candidate for the position of captain of the Venturer. Commander Tom Bruce is clearly that man. However, certain elements want someone else and will cheerfully accept any pretext for rejecting Bruce.

When Bruce orders the destruction of an out-of-control spacecraft, Bruce’s opponents seem to have the ammunition they need. True, the ship was headed for Earth and Bruce saved millions by having it destroyed. However, this is not the first time Bruce has ordered the deaths of innocents. Now his enemies have pretext for getting the Minos IV incident on record.

This is the sort of narrative universe in which tough men are often forced to make hard decisions, so it should be no surprise Bruce had a good reason to kill the Minos IV colonists. What should raise eyebrows but doesn’t is that Bruce’s executive officer is an ex-lover who plans to use her position to police which crewmembers sleep with Bruce. I can see no way in which that could go horribly wrong.

(6) FUNDRAISER. Michael A. Banks died June 19 (see item #10 in the June 20 Scroll). His daughter, Susan, has launched a GoFundMe to cover end-of-life expenses in “Funeral for Mike Banks”.

Hi, my name is Susan and I’m trying to raise enough to cover basic expenses related to the death of my dad, Mike Banks. My dad was a lot of things, he was a talented writer, a raconteur, and a storyteller. He loved sci fi , history, and Hawaiian shirts. He loved dogs. While he was great at using words to bring people like Ruth Lyons and Powell Crosley to life on the page, like a lot of writers, he lived a freelance life and wasn’t great at planning for the future or what would happen after he was gone.

At the end of February, Dad was diagnosed with end stage cancer that had started in his lungs and spread to his bones, liver, and spine. Within a few weeks, we learned it had also spread to his brain.

He remained upbeat and positive, even as his cognition declined. His dogged determination to soldier on to make one last trip to Kroger or the hardware store led to a fall, a broken hip, and then a series of falls that kept him in the hospital and too weak to receive radiation and chemotherapy. His decline accelerated and he passed on June 19th, less than four months from his diagnosis.

His positivity was so enduring and infectious, we were unable to get him to make a will or to do a lot of things people do for end of life.

My goal is to give him the send off he deserves and to be able to settle his estate without having to incur a large amount of debt.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1975 [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

Now let’s talk about Katherine MacLean. Short fiction was her strength which is perhaps why her only Hugo nomination was at Detention for her “Second Game” novelette. She wrote some fifty short pieces of genre fiction but only five such novels. 

Our beginning comes from one of them, Missing Man, which was published by Berkley/Putnam in 1975. The novel is a fix-up of MacLean’s three Rescue Squad stories including the Nebula Award winning novella of the same name. It would also be a Nebula-nominated novella. 

The novel is a Meredith Moment at the usual suspects.

Now go read our Beginning….

was heading uptown to the employment office. The sidewalk was soft and green and dappled with tree shadows; the wind was warm. 

I stopped by a snack machine, looked at the pictures of breakfast, and watched a man put in his credit card and get out a cup of coffee. He was a young guy, a little older than me. I could smell the coffee. I’d had hot water for lunch and dinner yesterday and hot water for breakfast. It felt good in my stomach but my legs felt weak. 

The vibes of morning are always good. People walked by, giving out a kind of cheerfulness. I was blotting up that feeling until suddenly it seemed right that the snack machine should give out some free food just to be friendly. 

I shoved my credit card into the slot and pushed levers for a cup of coffee with two creams and two sugars and some hot buttered scrambled eggs. My hands started shaking. My mouth watered. I could smell from people’s windows the perfume of bacon and toasted plankton and hot butter on hot toast. 

The machine blinked a red sign, “000.00 balance,” and my credit card rolled out of the slot. I reached for it and dropped it. The man drinking coffee looked at my shaking.

The machine blinked a red sign, “000.00 balance,” and my credit card rolled out of the slot. I reached for it and dropped it. 

The man drinking coffee looked at my shaking hands and then at my face. Hunger doesn’t show on the outside. I’d lost a hundred pounds already and I wasn’t even skinny yet. He couldn’t feel my vibes. I have a kind of round, cheerful face, like a kid, but I’m big. 

I picked up the card and grinned at him. He grinned back.

“Hard night?” he asked sympathetically, meaning had I spent a night with a girlfriend? 

I made an “okay” sign with one hand and he whistled and went away grinning, giving out happy vibes of remembering great long sex nights when he’d had the shakes in the morning. 

I tried two more snack machines in the next three blocks. No food. The best food machines in lower New York City are in the artists’ and sculptors’ commune. 

Artists don’t like to cook when they’re working on something.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 22, 1894 George Fielding Eliot. ISFDB has scant listings from him and Wiki is not much better but shows “The Copper Bowl” in Weird Tales in the December 1928 issue and notes that thirty years later he had “The Peacemakers” in the Fantastic Universe in January 1960 edition. Stitching this together using the EofSF, I’ll note he wrote Purple Legion: A G-Man Thriller, a really pulpish affair. As Robert Wallace, he wrote “The Death Skull Murders”, one of the Phantom Detective stories, a series that came out after The Shadow and ran for a generation. (Died 1971.)
  • Born June 22, 1947 Octavia E. Butler. Let’s note that she’s a multiple recipient of both the Hugo and Nebula awards, and she became in 1995 the first genre writer to receive a MacArthur Fellowship. As regards her fiction, I’d suggest the Xenogenesis series shows her at her very best but anything by her is both good and challengingI’m pleased to note that iBooks and Kindle have everything of hers available. (Died 2006.)
  • Born June 22, 1949 Edward M Lerner, 74. I’m here today to praise the Ringworld prequels that he co-wrote with Niven, collectively known as Fleet of Worlds which ran to five volumes. Unlike the Ringworld sequels which were terribly uneven, these were well written and great to read. I’ve not read anything else by him
  • Born June 22, 1949 Meryl Streep, 74. She’d make the Birthday list just for being Madeline Ashton in Death Becomes Her and her epic battle there with Goldie Hawn. She’s the voice of Blue Ameche in A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and a very real Aunt Josephine in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. She’s the voice of Felicity Fox in Fantastic Mr. Fox, based off the on Dahl’s 1970 children’s novel. She voices Jennie in a short that bring Maurice Sendak’s dog to life, Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More to Life. She’s The Witch in Into The Woods. I think that is it. 
  • Born June 22, 1953 Cyndi Lauper, 70. Ok I’m officially old as I’m thinking of her as always young. Genre-wise, she played a psychic, Avalon Harmonia, on the Bones series. She also has one-offs in series as diverse as The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!Shelley Duvall’s Mother Goose Rock ‘n’ Rhyme and Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child. She also has a dramatic acting credit, Jenny (Ginny Jenny/Low-Dive Jenny) in Bertolt Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera
  • Born June 22, 1958 Bruce Campbell, 65. Where to start? Well let’s note that Kage loved him so I’ve linked to her review of Jack of All Trades. I personally like just as much The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. and think it’s well worth checking out. I think his work as Ash Williams in the Evil Dead franchise can be both brilliant and godawful, often in the same film. The series spawned off of it is rather good. Oh and for popcorn reading, check out If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor, his autobiography. 
  • Born June 22, 1973 Ian Tregillis, 50. He is the author of the Milkweed Triptych trilogy which is frelling brilliant. He’s contributed three stories to Max Gladstone’s The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, a rather good serial fiction narrative (if that’s the proper term), and he’s got another series, The Alchemy Wars, I haven’t checked out. He’s also a contributor to George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards series which I’m beginning to suspect everyone has been involved in.

(9) OCTOTHORPE.  Episode 86 of the Octothorpe podcast is “The Joy of Hemispheres”.

John Coxon can do one, Alison Scott don’t like cricket, and Liz Batty will never get to bed. We discuss Chengdu and the Hugo Awards, new COVID ventilation advice, Seattle in 2025, Pemmi-Con, Glasgow 2024, the Clarke Award, the UK Games Expo, Ben Aaronovitch and cricket. Phew!

(10) HEY, IT COULD HAPPEN. “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 Theory: Is Pelia Actually Simka from Taxi?” wonders Slashfilm. Danielle Ryan presents the evidence. Beware spoilers.

The U.S.S. Enterprise has a new face in “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” season 2, but the actor who plays her is pretty familiar to film and TV fans. Carol Kane has starred in everything from “The Princess Bride” to “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” but one of her earliest roles seems to have found its way into the DNA of her “Star Trek” character, Chief Engineer Pelia. 

…At the end of the first season, Chief Engineer Hemmer (Bruce Horak) died heroically while fighting the Gorn, and now Pelia is going to step into his shoes. The mysterious Pelia is a Lanthanite, a member of an alien species new to “Star Trek” lore that seems to bear some similarities with the El-Aurians. (The most well-known El-Aurian is Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”) Both appear to look just like humans and are extremely long-lived, though whether or not the Lanthanites have psychic abilities is yet to be seen. If Pelia’s actions in the premiere are any indication, they just might be. She’s either psychic or incredibly observant, because she’s on the ball. In the season 2 premiere of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” we get to learn a little bit about her, and she reminds me of Simka Dahblitz-Gravas, Kane’s character from the 1980’s sitcom series, “Taxi.”…

(11) BRADBURY RARITY OFFERED. A Bradbury first edition autographed to oldtime LASFS member R.A.Hoffman. On eBay: Dark Carnival – Signed Presentation Copy From Ray Bradbury In 1947 First Edition”.

BRADBURY, RAY. Dark Carnival. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1947. First Edition of the Author’s First Book. Signed and inscribed by Ray Bradbury. The inscription reads (in upper case): “For Bob Hoffman, With fond remembrances of many pleasant evenings of Prokofieff, Gliere, Rozsa and others – and the old days of record making – With all my best from your friend, Ray Bradbury May 29, 1947.” The book is in near fine condition with the barest hint of edge wear, a trace of rubbing to the gilt stamping at the spine with all letters legible and present, and with faint dusting at page edges in a very good bright dust jacket some light soiling to rear panel, thin lines of foxing to the tops and folds of the flaps, and the usual light wear to the edges as this jacket was too large for the book, and some minor wear to the top and bottom edges of the spine. Enclosed in a custom black clamshell box. Presentation copies contemporary with publication and to personal friends are very rare. R.A. Hoffman was the “Art editor” and one of the founders of the magazine – ‘The Acolyte’. He was a member of the Clifton’s Cafe where the LASFAS group would gather (Ray Bradbury, Ray Harryhausen, Roy Squires, Robert Heinlein, and ‘the other RAH as Rah liked to quip). Although not scarce signed, a true presentation copy [at the time of publication] is indeed scarce! William F. Nolan – author of ‘The Bradbury Companion’ has noted that the book was released “October, 1947.” Perhaps to the general public it was; this copy is one of the earliest known inscriptions dated by the author, “May 29, 1947.” An attractive copy.

(12) DCEU IMMURED? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The Hollywood Reporter has what seems to be a scathing story about the DC Extended Universe movies in its latest digital issue. The article is firmly entrenched behind a paywall, though you can read a small excerpt at the link. It’s unclear, of course, if the story itself is as negative as the headline, but said headline is pretty darn negative

(13) THAT’S DISTURBING. Gizmodo says, “Soon You Can, but Really Shouldn’t, Pre-Order This Flame-Throwing Robodog”.

…When Boston Dynamics finally started selling Spot, it’s four-legged robot, it came with one stipulation: users couldn’t use it to harm people. But while the creators of the Thermonator aren’t actively promoting it as a weapon, you don’t want to be within 30 feet of a flamethrower strapped to the back of a robodog….

(14) MIXED UNBLESSING. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] God, I simply enjoy the end of the world… but only if it is firmly SF. As an environmental scientist, I’ve seen the writing on the wall for over half a century…  So this week’s Nature editorial is something of a curate’s egg.

The world’s plan to make humanity sustainable is failing. Science can do more to save it

There is no planet B, and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are heading for the rocks. Researchers around the world must do their bit to change that….

 The key, bottom line message is…

 Implicit — and to a degree explicit — in all this is changing how science itself is done. The report [from UN science advisors] argues that the actions that steer the world towards a sustainable path must be rooted in science that is multidisciplinary, equitable and inclusive, openly shared and widely trusted, and “socially robust” — in short, responsive to social context and social needs. As the authors acknowledge, for that to happen, global science needs to evolve. Knowledge needs to be more accessible than it is at present, and the production of that knowledge needs to be more open, too, recognizing, for example, the value of Indigenous and local knowledge to sustainable innovation.

Hard to argue with that… but with war-mongering and partisan political leaders wanting to put their country first, good science may not be enough. (Just saying.)

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

Pixel Scroll 6/8/23 What Happens When Pixels Go Walkabout?

(1) CHENGDU WORLDCON VENUE CONSTRUCTION UPDATE. The Chengdu Worldcon committee is meeting in China and Vice Chair and Hugo co-Administrator Dave McCarty is there.

He has added a photo gallery to his Facebook page showing the progress in constructing what will be the main venue, called the Chengdu Science Fiction Museum in press reports.

McCarty says, “The current completion projection for the building, lake that surrounds it, and park that contains it is now August 30.”

(2) WISCON BOX SCORE. WisCon 46, held May 26-29 in Madison Wisconsin, was a hybrid convention, with some events being in-person and others being virtual. Attendance for the con was:

570 in-person for all or part of the weekend (the limit was 600);

154 online memberships.

(3) THE FIRST LOTR MOVIE NEVER MADE. Den of Geek mined the letters of Tolkien to rediscover “The 1950s Lord of the Rings Movie That J.R.R. Tolkien Absolutely Hated”. The proposal was agented by Forrest J Ackerman, known for many things good and bad, among them his long record of making cameo appearances in movies. It’s interesting to speculate where he might have shown up in a Fifties version of Lord of the Rings.

All of the English-language screen versions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings came out after J.R.R. Tolkien passed away in 1973, so we’ll sadly never know what he might have thought of them. But things were nearly quite different. In the late 1950s, Tolkien and his publishers seriously considered a proposal for an animated film, which even got to the script stage before the project was eventually scrapped.

In 1957, Tolkien was approached by an American film agent, Forrest J. Ackerman, about a proposed animated film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. Early on, Tolkien was really quite positive about the idea, in a pragmatic sort of way. At this stage, Tolkien was shown some drawings and color photographs to indicate the sort of look they were going for in the animation, and he read a “Story Line,” a synopsis of the film’s proposed plot….

By June 1958, however, Tolkien had finished going through [Morton Grady] Zimmerman’s treatment and was thoroughly unimpressed. He sent Ackerman a copy of the script complete with his own notes and comments. A lengthy series of extracts were published along with his letter to Ackerman in The Letters of JRR Tolkien. Here are a few highlights…

… Tolkien had historical issues with Zimmerman’s treatment of Rohan and the Rohirrim, too. He complains that “in such time” kings like Théoden did not have private bedrooms, presumably meaning in Northern Europe during the early medieval period, which is roughly the inspiration for Rohan. He also said they did not have glass windows that could be thrown open, something he felt strongly enough about to put two exclamation marks on, and added, “We might be in a hotel.”…

(4) PAUL ECKSTEIN (1963-2023). Paul Eckstein, co-creator and executive producer of the drama series Godfather of Harlem and an actor who appeared on Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and many other shows, died June 6 at the age of 59 reports Deadline.

…Before co-creating Godfather of Harlem, along with his writing partner Brancato, Eckstein led the writers room on the first year of the hit Netflix drama Narcos. Eckstein also wrote and produced the Disney/ABC biblical series Of Kings and Prophets on location in South Africa. His other writing credits include Street TimeLaw & Order: Criminal Intent and The Dead Zone….

(5) JOSHUA QUAGMIRE (1952-2023). Cutey Bunny creator Joshua Quagmire (Richard Lester) died in a Santa Monica, CA hospital around May 28 reports Taral Wayne. His sister posted this notice in social media:

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1991[Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]

I’m a big fan of Michael Swanwick having first encountered him when I read his Jack Faust novel and then the Iron Dragon’s Daughter trilogy. What I’ve read of The Periodic Table of Science Fiction flash fiction was quite enjoyable. 

Our Beginning is that of Stations of the Tide which I really like. It was first published by William Morrow and Company thirty-two years ago in hardcover and paperback editions. The cover art is by Daniel Horne. 

It would win a Nebula as well an SF Chronicle Award while being nominated for a Hugo at MagiCon. It was nominated for a John W. Campbell Memorial Award as well. 

Here is this really great Beginning….

The Leviathan Said

The bureaucrat fell from the sky. 

For an instant Miranda lay blue and white beneath him, the icecaps fat and ready to melt, and then he was down. He took a highspeed across the stony plains of the Piedmont to the heliostat terminus at Port Richmond, and caught the first flight out. The airship Leviathan lofted him across the fall line and over the forests and coral hills of the Tidewater. Specialized ecologies were astir there, preparing for the transforming magic of the jubilee tides. In ramshackle villages and hidden plantations people made their varied provisions for the evacuation. 

The Leviathan’s lounge was deserted. Hands clasped behind him, the bureaucrat stared moodily out the stern windows. The Piedmont was dim and blue, a storm front on the horizon. He imagined the falls, where fish-hawks hovered on rising thermals and the river Noon cascaded down and lost its name. Below, the Tidewater swarmed with life, like blue-green mold growing magnified in a petri dish. The thought of all the mud and poverty down there depressed him. He yearned for the cool, sterile environments of deep space. 

Bright specks of color floated on the brown water, coffles of houseboats being towed upriver as the haut-bourgeois prudently made for the Port Richmond incline while the rates were still low. He touched a window control and the jungle leaped up at him, misty trees resolving into individual leaves. The heliostat’s shadow rippled along the north bank of the river, skimming lightly over mud flats, swaying phragmites, and gnarled water oaks. Startled, a clutch of acorn-mimetic octopi dropped from a low branch, brown circles of water fleeing as they jetted into the silt.

 “Smell that air,” Korda’s surrogate said. 

The bureaucrat sniffed. He smelled the faint odor of soil from the baskets of hanging vines, and a sweet whiff of droppings from the wicker birdcages. “Could use a cleansing, I suppose.”

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 8, 1910 John W. Campbell Jr., 1910 – 1971.  As you well know, he was editor of Astounding Science Fiction (later to be called Analog Science Fiction and Fact) from late 1937 until his death and was part of the Golden Age of Science Fiction. His novella Who Goes There? was adapted as The Thing from Another WorldThe Thing and yes once again as The Thing. (Died 1971.)
  • Born June 8, 1915 Frank Riley. He’s best known for They’d Rather Be Right (co-written with Mark Clifton) which won a Hugo Award for Best Novel at Clevention. Originally published in serialized form in Astounding unlike his eight short SF stories that were all published in If. His “The Executioner” was the cover story for the April 1956 issue of If. (Died 1996.)
  • Born June 8, 1917 George D. Wallace. He’s here for playing Commando Cody in the early Fifties Radar Men from the Moon movie serial. He would later show up as the Bosun on Forbidden Planet, and had minor roles late in his career in MultiplicityBicentennial Man and Minority Report. He also played a Star Fleet Admiral in “The Man of the People” episode of The Next Generation. (Died 2005.)
  • Born June 8, 1928 Kate Wilhelm. Author of the Hugo Award–winning Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang. She also won a Hugo Award for Best Related Book and a Locus Award for Best Nonfiction for Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. SFWA renamed their Solstice Award the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award. She established the Clarion Workshop with her husband Damon Knight and writer Robin Scott Wilson. (Died 2018.)
  • Born June 8, 1946 Elizabeth A. Lynn, 77. She is well known for being one of the first sff writers to introduce gay and lesbian characters as part of her stories. So in honor of her, the widely known A Different Light chain of LGBT bookstores took its name from her novel of that name. Her best known work is The Chronicles of Tornor series. 
  • Born June 8, 1947 Sara Paretsky, 76. Best best known for her private detective novels focused on V.I. Warshawski, she has one genre novel in Ghost Country. It, too, involves V.I. Warshawski and may or may not involve things of supernatural nature.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bliss has a special on kaiju cuisine.
  • Loose Parts supplies a scene that was left out of the Book of Jonah.
  • The Far Side  shows the moment before a time travel mistake becomes a tragedy.
  • xkcd takes up the skepticism about UFO evidence. (There may also be SJW credentials involved….)
  • Thatababy stages a peculiar race between two comparable DC and Marvel characters.

(9) MASTER PIECE. “Doctor Who stars delight fans as Master and Missy unite in new video”RadioTimes made sure we didn’t miss it.

Doctor Who fans have had their imaginations set alight by a shared Instagram post from Sacha Dhawan and Michelle Gomez, where the Master actors can be seen strutting down a flight of stairs together.

The reason for their meeting was not given, but fans were thrilled to see them together, with each known for their popular incarnations of the Doctor’s classic arch-nemesis….

(10) ANAKIN SKYWALKER AND CASSIAN ANDOR. Variety eavesdrops on a conversation between “Diego Luna and Hayden Christiansen On How ‘Star Wars’ Has Changed Their Lives”.

Hayden Christensen and Diego Luna have never met, but as Christensen puts it, they’ve occupied the “same galaxy” for years. Christensen rocketed from teenage obscurity in Canada when George Lucas cast him as Anakin Skywalker for 2002’s “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones” and 2005’s “Revenge of the Sith,” which chronicled the young Jedi’s transformation into the iconic villain Darth Vader. The Mexican-born Luna — who rose to prominence in Alfonso Cuarón’s 2001 coming-of-age masterpiece “Y tu mamá también” — joined “Star Wars” for 2016’s “Rogue One,” a prequel about the band of rebel spies, led by Luna’s Cassian Andor, that steal the plans for the Death Star….

CHRISTENSEN: I’d really love to hear about how you got into “Rogue One.” You were already a very established actor.

LUNA: It was the first time such secrecy happened around anything I was going to be part of. I was asked by my agent to meet someone for something that couldn’t be said on the phone. I went into a meeting in a restaurant that was completely empty. There was a guy sitting in the corner with a computer open, and this was Gareth [Edwards], the director. I sat down with him, and it was just us for four hours.

CHRISTENSEN: So you had no concept that it was “Star Wars” at all at this point?

LUNA: My agent said, “This might be ‘Star Wars.’” I guess she didn’t want me to get excited about anything. Gareth explained to me the whole film, and he said at the end, “I would really like you to play this role.” I said to him, “But I don’t see myself here. I love these films, but how do I fit here? No one has my accent. I’ve never thought this could be possible.” He basically said, “Since I saw ‘Y tu mamá también,’ I thought you could be great for a role like this. I want that kind of tone in the film. I want that realism, that feeling that it’s everyday life.” I never thought that a film like “Y tu mamá también” would get me the chance to be in the world of “Star Wars.”

CHRISTENSEN: That’s what I love about it. It’s a much darker and more grounded sort of take. I think it was very important for “Star Wars.” I love your performance. There’s so much subtlety to it and nuance to it, which you can’t always get in stories like these.

(11) OCTOTHORPE. The summer of fun continues! Episode 85 is “Super Smart or Completely the Opposite”.

John Coxon is at a convention, Alison Scott is in a cottage, and Liz Batty is not at a festival. This time we have a bevy of letters of comment, discussions about Satellite 8 and the Hugo Awards, and also picks. One pick is for some obscure book you won’t have heard of.

(12) NATURE BARS THE DOOR TO AI. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Nature, the world’s leading multidisciplinary science journal (well perhaps rivaling Science but that’s the other side of the Pond and we all know what goes on there (in part thanks to File770)), is the latest to ban AI use in its content. “Why Nature will not allow the use of generative AI in images and video”.

Saying ‘no’ to this kind of visual content is a question of research integrity, consent, privacy and intellectual-property protection….

 Apart from in articles that are specifically about AI, Nature will not be publishing any content in which photography, videos or illustrations have been created wholly or partly using generative AI, at least for the foreseeable future.

Artists, filmmakers, illustrators and photographers whom we commission and work with will be asked to confirm that none of the work they submit has been generated or augmented using generative AI

Why are we disallowing the use of generative AI in visual content? Ultimately, it is a question of integrity. The process of publishing — as far as both science and art are concerned — is underpinned by a shared commitment to integrity. That includes transparency. As researchers, editors and publishers, we all need to know the sources of data and images, so that these can be verified as accurate and true. Existing generative AI tools do not provide access to their sources so that such verification can happen.

Then there’s attribution: when existing work is used or cited, it must be attributed. This is a core principle of science and art, and generative AI tools do not conform to this expectation.

Consent and permission are also factors. These must be obtained if, for example, people are being identified or the intellectual property of artists and illustrators is involved. Again, common applications of generative AI fail these tests.

Generative AI systems are being trained on images for which no efforts have been made to identify the source. Copyright-protected works are routinely being used to train generative AI without appropriate permissions. In some cases, privacy is also being violated — for example, when generative AI systems create what look like photographs or videos of people without their consent. In addition to privacy concerns, the ease with which these ‘deepfakes’ can be created is accelerating the spread of false information

Appropriate caveats

For now, Nature is allowing the inclusion of text that has been produced with the assistance of generative AI, providing this is done with appropriate caveats (see go.nature.com/3cbrjbb). The use of such large language model (LLM) tools needs to be documented in a paper’s methods or acknowledgements section, and we expect authors to provide sources for all data, including those generated with the assistance of AI. Furthermore, no LLM tool will be accepted as an author on a research paper.

(13) DUELING PLATFORMS. With the upcoming Apple TV+ release of The Crowded Room, JustWatch has compiled its quality content ranking of the most popular streaming platforms.

The top position belongs to Apple TV+, with a 0.66 point lead over the global giant: Netflix, which is struggling in fifth place despite such hits as “Squid Game” and “Stranger Things”. 

Apple TV+ attributes this advantage to a number of highly rated TV Shows such as Ted Lasso, which won 11 Primetime Emmys, and Severance with 2 Primetime Emmys under its belt. The film Coda won 3 Oscars, making Apple TV+ the first-ever streamer to win Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/25/23 Pixels Propagate Like Tribbles And They Purr Like Them Too

(1) JACQUELINE WOODSON INTERVIEW. “U.S. Book Show 2023: Jacqueline Woodson Works from Memory and Empathy”Publishers Weekly reports from the show.

Mention Jacqueline Woodson—a former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature—and readers begin naming favorite titles: groundbreaking LGBTQ novels (From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun), stories of BIPOC histories and identities (After Tupac and D Foster), books adapted to TV (Miracle’s Boys), and the National Book Award–winning memoir in verse Brown Girl Dreaming. At a lunch-hour keynote on May 24, Woodson sat down with bookseller Miwa Messer, executive producer and host of the Barnes & Noble podcast Poured Over, to discuss her work.

We’re here with Jacqueline Woodson, and we’ve run out of superlatives to describe her work—straight up, let’s not pretend,” Messer said, before reading an abbreviated list of Woodson’s accolades: a 2020 MacArthur Fellowship, an NAACP Image Award, and a 2023 E.B. White Award for achievement in children’s literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters,

… “When I write, I’m very conscious of [my reader] seeing themselves in it,” Woodson said. “Is there something about how I write a character that might break that person’s spirit?” She wants to impress upon readers “that they’re not existing alone. Theirs isn’t an isolated experience.”

Warmly acknowledging her longtime editor, Nancy Paulsen, who was in the audience, Woodson explained her revision process. She reads everything aloud to hear characters’ voices, and revises scenes while “having faith [in] the picture I’m trying to paint on the page.” Her own memories and thorough research enable her to craft people and places, she said. “I think of it like a photograph that’s developing, and it becomes more clear [as] I go back into it.”…

(2) THE 84 PERCENT SOLUTION. The Hugo Book Club Blog says “The Word For ‘World’ Isn’t America”. “If the Hugo Award is to be a truly ‘World’ award, American fandom may need to relinquish it … by establishing an American award for American fiction.”

So why is there no national award recognizing the best science fiction published by authors from the United States?

It could be argued that this is a reflection of American exceptionalism or imperialism.

The Hugo Award — when it was established in 1953 — may have billed itself as celebrating the world’s greatest science fiction, but that was for a limited definition of “world.” This was a “world” that extended no further north than Toronto, no further east than London, and no further south or west than Los Angeles. American cultural hegemony was baked into the DNA of the award.

An American national SFF award was not seen as necessary, because the Hugos existed.

To date 84.2 per cent of all winners, and 84.5 per cent of the authors represented in the prose categories (short story, novelette, novella, novel and series) were born in the United States…

(3) NOT PARSELEY. NOT SAGE. NOT THYME. Craig Miller told Facebook readers about a close call at home last night.

About 9:30, roughly an hour and a half ago, headlights suddenly shined blindingly through our living room windows followed by a crash.

A minivan had come hurtling down the street, apparently missed the turn, came up between our two parked cars, over the curb, across the sidewalk, through our garden, and up our front path, finally stopping when it smashed into the cement and metal fences between our house and our neighbors.

I rushed out. The driver kept trying to back up but the car was stuck. The driver and the passenger got out. The driver had a hard time because he was in the middle of our bushes. They took off down the street.

I called the police. They’re still here. Eventually a tow truck will come and they’ll impound the vehicle.

One nice thing: they drove into and got stuck in the midst of a huge rosemary bush. All that friction in the rosemary and the yard smells terrific. One of the cops even said, “Is that rosemary? Smells great.”

(4) HOME AT LAST. Walter Jon Williams shared good news with Facebook readers. And some not-so-good news.

So Kathy’s finally home after 13 days confined to COVID jail in a hotel room on Malta.

She arrived just in time for me to catch a cold, which is definitely not COVID since I’ve tested negative two days in a row.

Timing could have been better. Definitely.

(5) GOLLUM GAME? “The Lord of the Rings: Gollum review – boil it, mash it, stick it in the bin” – a real KTF review in the Guardian.

This game never looked especially promising, and now it’s out, it’s about as riveting as listening to a huddle of ents discuss the finer points of deciduous shedding. It’s a technical disaster, at least on PC, and even when it does work, it feels like an extended forced stealth section from a game where stealth is just one of 50,000 other systems. It’s watery, janky, broken, alternately frustrating and frictionless, completely without tension or pathos, and squanders a great concept….

(7) NICE TRY, BUT NO CIGAR. “Max Will Revert Film Credits to List Directors, Writers After Backlash” reports Variety.

Warner Bros. Discovery’s newly launched Max lumped film directors and writers under a single “creators” heading — a change that prompted a backlash from filmmakers and Hollywood’s directors and writers guilds. Now the company says it is reverting the listings back to how they were presented on HBO Max, blaming the issue on a technical “oversight.”

“We agree that the talent behind the content on Max deserve their work to be properly recognized,” a Max spokesperson said in a statement to Variety. “We will correct the credits, which were altered due to an oversight in the technical transition from HBO Max to Max and we apologize for this mistake.”Max’s move to consolidate writers, directors and other creatives under the single “creators” listing drew ire amid the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike, as the union is seeking to reach a new contract with major studios through the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers….

Meanwhile, if you want to know what movies and TV shows are available on the service, click on “Max – full list of movies and TV shows online” at JustWatch.

(8) TODAY’S DAY. This was news to me, but maybe not to most fans. May 25 is —

Craig Miller, author of Star Wars Memories, says, “I don’t know that I coined it but it’s a term I’ve been using for a number of years.  When people started arguing about whether May 4th or May 25th is Star Wars Day, I started saying — in places like Facebook — that I consider May 25th Orthodox or Old Testament Star Wars Day.  May 21st – the date The Empire Strikes Back debuted – is New Testament Star Wars Day.  And May 4th is New Age Star Wars Day.  It’s people using a popular pun to center around.  It’s apt because, in most countries, Star Wars didn’t debut on May 25th.  Further, I’ve been saying that the period from May 4th and May 25th marks Star Wars Season.  Sort of like the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter is the Lenten Season.

P.S. May 25 is also Towel Day.

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1962[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Philip K. Dick’s The Man in The High Castle is the source of our Beginning. I know it’s been turned into an Amazon series but y’all know that I never watch any series based off a piece of fiction that I really like and yes, The Man in The High Castle falls into that category.

It was first published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons sixty-one years ago in a hardcover edition which cost three dollars and ninety-five cents. The cover is by Robert Galster. 

I really cannot say anything further as it’d spoil the novel though admittedly the cover does a fairly nice job of doing that I think.

And with that, here’s our Beginning…

FOR A WEEK Mr. R. Childan had been anxiously watching the mail. But the valuable shipment from the Rocky Mountain States had not arrived. As he opened up his store on Friday morning and saw only letters on the floor by the mail slot he thought, I’m going to have an angry customer. 

Pouring himself a cup of instant tea from the five-cent wall dispenser he got a broom and began to sweep; soon he had the front of American Artistic Handcrafts Inc. ready for the day, all spick and span with the cash register full of change, a fresh e svase of marigolds, and the radio playing background music. Outdoors along the sidewalk businessmen hurried toward their offices along Montgomery Street. Far off, a cable car passed; Childan halted to watch it with pleasure. Women in their long colorful silk dresses . . . he watched them, too. Then the phone rang. He turned to answer it.

“Yes,” a familiar voice said to his answer. Childan’s heart sank. “This is Mr. Tagomi. Did my Civil War recruiting poster arrive yet, sir? Please recall; you promised it sometime last week.” The fussy, brisk voice, barely polite, barely keeping the code. “Did I not give you a deposit, sir, Mr. Childan, with that stipulation? This is to be a gift, you see. I explained that. A client.”

“Extensive inquiries,” Childan began, “which I’ve had made at my own expense, Mr. Tagomi, sir, regarding the promised parcel, which you realize originates outside of this region and is therefore—”

“But Tagomi broke in, “Then it has not arrived.”

“No, Mr. Tagomi, sir.” 

An icy pause.

 “I can wait no furthermore,” Tagomi said.”

“A substitute, then. Your recommendation, Mr. Childan?” Tagomi deliberately mispronounced the name; insult within the code that made Childan’s ears burn. Place pulled, the dreadful mortification of their situation. Robert Childan’s aspirations and fears and torments rose up and exposed themselves, swamped him, stopping his tongue. He stammered, his hand sticky on the phone. The air of his store smelled of the marigolds; the music played on, but he felt as if he were falling into some distant sea.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 25, 1808 Edward Bulwer-Lytton. In addition to the opening seven words from Paul Clifford — “It was a dark and stormy night” — he also coined the phrases “the great unwashed”, “pursuit of the almighty dollar” and “the pen is mightier than the sword.” ISFDB credits him with eight genre novels including The Coming Race, Asmodeus at Large and Last Days of Pompeii to name but three. He wrote a lot of short fiction with titles such as “Glenhausen.—The Power of Love in Sanctified Places.— A Portrait of Frederick Barbarossa.—The Ambition of Men Finds Adequate Sympathy in Women”. (Died 1873.)
  • Born May 25, 1913 Carl Wessler. Animator during the Thirties working on “Musical Memories” and other theatrical cartoon shorts for the Fleischer Studios, and a comic book writer from the Forties though the Eighties for including Charlton Comics, DC, EC Comics, Harvey Comics and Marvel. He also worked for editor-in-chief Stan Lee at Marvel’s 1950s forerunner, Atlas Comics. (Died 1989.)
  • Born May 25, 1916 Charles D. Hornig. Publisher of the Fantasy Fan which ran from September ‘33 to February ‘35 and including first publication of works by Bloch, Lovecraft, Smith, Howard and Derleth. It also had a LOC section called ‘The Boiling Point’ which quickly became angry exchanges between several of the magazine’s regular contributors, including Ackerman, Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith. He paid for the costs of Fan Fantasy by working as the teenage editor of Gernsback’s Wonder Stories. (Died 1999.)
  • Born May 25, 1935 W. P. Kinsella. I’d say best known for his novel Shoeless Joe which was adapted into the movie Field of Dreams, one of the few films that Kevin Costner is a decent actor in, ironic as the other is Bull Durham. Kinsella’s other genre novel is The Iowa Baseball Confederacy and it’s rather less well known that Shoeless Joe is but is excellent. He also edited Baseball Fantastic, an anthology of just what the title says they are. Given that he’s got eighteen collections of short stories listed on his wiki page, I’m reasonably sure his ISFDB page doesn’t come close to listing all his short stories. (Died 2016.)
  • Born May 25, 1944 Frank Oz, 79. Actor, director including The Dark Crystal, Little Shop of Horrors and the second version of The Stepford Wives, producer and puppeteer. His career began as a puppeteer, where he performed the Muppet characters of Animal, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and oh so patriotic Sam Eagle in The Muppet Show, and Cookie Monster, Bert, and Grover in Sesame Street. Genre wise, he’s also known for the role of Yoda in the Star Wars franchise until he was removed from that role by The Evil Mouse.
  • Born May 25, 1949 Barry Windsor-Smith, 74. Illustrator and painter, mostly for Marvel Comics. Oh, his work on Conan the Barbarian in the early Seventies was amazing, truly amazing! And then there was the original Weapon X story arc involving Wolverine which still ranks among the best stories told largely because of his artwork. And let’s not forget that he and writer Roy Thomas created Red Sonja partially based on Howard’s characters Red Sonya of Rogatino and Dark Agnes de Chastillon.
  • Born May 25, 1966 Vera Nazarian, 57. To date, she has written ten novels including Dreams of the Compass Rose, what I’d called a mosaic novel structured as a series of interlinked stories similar in tone to The One Thousand and One Nights that reminds me more than a bit of Valente’s The Orphans Tales. She’s the publisher of Norilana Books which publishes such works as Catherynne M. Valente’s Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress anthologies,and Tabitha Lee’s Lee’s Sounds and Furies.  She has two Nebula nominations, one for her “The Story of Love” short story and another for her “The Duke in His Castle” novella. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Non Sequitur says Heaven is hell on editors.
  • Bizarro finds the next phase in AI authors’ evolution.
  • Bizarro shows part of the Darth Vader health regimen.

(12) ALLIGATOR LOKI MAKES A SPLASH IN HIS PRINT COMIC DEBUT. Alyssa Wong and Bob Quinn’s Alligator Loki #1 arrives in September.

After making his debut in Marvel Studios’ Loki on Disney+, the reptilian God of Mischief headlined his very own Infinity Comic series on the Marvel Unlimited app. Now, this iconic and adorable troublemaker will grace the stands of your local comic shop for the very first time in September! An extra-sized one-shot, ALLIGATOR LOKI #1 will collect the entirety of Alyssa Wong and Bob Quinn’s hit Infinity Comic series as well as an all-new adventure from the life of everyone’s favorite swamp-dwelling scamp!

 Bow down to the reptile in a helm who has enraptured the Ten Realms…with his cuteness! First Alligator Loki chomped down on Mjolnir, and then he chomped his way into our hearts. Now, the beloved Alligator of Mischief finds – and makes – trouble all across the Marvel Universe!

 For more information, visit Marvel.com.

(13) LIVES IN COMICS. NBM Graphic Novels debuts two bios about people of genre interest.

After the bankruptcy of his first two companies, the young Walt Disney decides to call on his older brother Roy to start a new business: the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studios. The combination of their opposing talents, one artistic, the other managerial, will give birth to an entertainment giant despite the difficult nature of Walt. Little by little, Walt will push his brother into the shadows and sink into chronic depression and excessive consumption of alcohol … But all this will not prevent him from producing the greatest masterpieces of animation.

The authors have chosen a cartoon style, worthy of Mickey Mouse comics, to tell a very serious story of creation, money and politics, but also… of family.

One of the greatest writers in science fiction history, Philip K. Dick is mostly remembered for such works as Blade Runner, Minority Report and Total Recall. His dark, fascinating work centered on alternate universes and shifting realities in worlds often governed by monopolistic corporations and authoritarian governments.

His own life story seems a tussle with reality, going through five wives and becoming increasingly disjointed with fits of paranoia and hallucinations fueled by abuse of drugs meant to stabilize him. His dramatic story is presented unvarnished in this biography.

(14) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 84 of the Octothorpe podcast, “I Do Not Like to Be Delighted on Every Page”, “John Coxon, Alison Scott, and Liz Batty read A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge in what marks the start of the SUMMER OF FUN!”

(15) BETTER LATE THAN NEVER. A lot of you will have seen this news item already, however, it’s still a fun item. “Long story: book returned to California library nearly a century late” in the Guardian.

A history book about the US has been returned to a library in California, almost 100 years overdue. The copy of Benson Lossing’s A History of the United States, published in 1881, was returned to St Helena public library in Napa Valley earlier this month. It had been due back on 21 February 1927.

At the time the book was borrowed, fines for overdue titles were a nickel (five cents) a day, meaning Jim Perry, who had the book, theoretically owed about $1,756 (£1,417). Luckily for him, the library scrapped late fines in 2019.

Perry found the copy in a box of books that belonged to his late wife, Sandra Learned Perry, according to the St Helena Star. He told the newspaper that he was “pretty sure” her grandfather, John McCormick, a descendant of one of St Helena’s oldest pioneer families, was the original borrower of the book.

Perry originally returned A History of the United States to the library’s front desk without leaving his name, but was tracked down after the library appealed for more information about the book’s history.

Library staff suspect the book was one of 540 volumes originally available from the Free Public Library, a predecessor to St Helena Public Library. The book has now been placed in a glass display case at the library’s entrance.

The Guinness World Record for an unreturned and overdue library book is held by a book owned by Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. The history book, written in German, was borrowed in 1667 or 1668 by Colonel Robert Walpole, the father of Sir Robert Walpole, regarded as the first prime minister of Great Britain.

It was discovered by Prof John Plumb while he was working on a biography of Walpole, and returned to Sidney Sussex on 16 January 1956, at least 287 years overdue….

(16) A DEEP DIVE FOR AN ANSWER: CAN YOU HELP? S. Elizabeth of Unquiet Things tries to unravel “A Mystery That Should Not Exist: Who Is The Cover Artist For This Edition Of A Wrinkle In Time?” The guesses are still pouring in.

Why is it that in this current year of 2023, no one seems to know who the cover artist is for this iconic Dell Laurel-Leaf A Wrinkle in Time cover art?? In a time when we have so much information available to us at our literal fingertips, how could it possibly be that the above marvelously and terrifyingly iconic imagery is perpetually credited to “unknown artist”? Even the Internet Speculative Fiction Database, always an excellent and trusted resource, does not have an answer….

S. Elizabeth follows with all the steps in her investigation so far.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Barbie comes to theaters July 21.

To live in Barbie Land is to be a perfect being in a perfect place. Unless you have a full-on existential crisis. Or you’re a Ken.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, N., Danny Sichel, Kathy Sullivan, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]

Pixel Scroll 5/11/23 This Pixel Scroll Is Bigger On The Inside

(1) TURNING A PAGE IN THE HUGO CALENDAR. Cora Buhlert’s first “Non-Fiction Spotlight” for a 2023 book is about a collection of essays which discusses and reviews every single one of the original Conan stories: Hither Came Conan, edited by Bob Byrne, Bill Ward, Howard Andrew Jones and Jason M. Waltz”.

Tell us about your book.

HITHER CAME CONAN is a compilation of two successful examinations of all of Robert E. Howard’s original Conan the Cimmerian stories (and one story fragment) with about 15 additional essays included. It is also the single most-inclusive repository of REH Conan story data to date. This alone makes this title invaluable; coupled with the almost 60 essays it makes this THE BOOK to shelve alongside your Wandering Star/DelRey Conan trilogy. The majority of essays (and opinions!) come from the Bob Byrne led ‘Hither Came Conan’ series hosted by Black Gate Magazine and the ‘Conan Re-Read’ of Bill Ward and Howard Andrew Jones in conversation on Howard’s blog. Data compiled for each story by Dierk Günther includes tidbits such as the probable age of both Conan and Howard, the location, the major characters, the word count, date and source of first publication, and the first recorded public reaction to be found. HITHER CAME CONAN is a wealth of all the information any reader of Conan could desire.

(2) JOHN MANSFIELD SERVICE ONLINE TOMORROW. Linda Ross-Mansfield has announced the Facebook link for the livestream of the funeral service for Pemmi-Con’s fan guest of honour, John Mansfield. Funeral begins May 12, 2:00 p.m. Central.

Murray Moore adds that at the convention there will be a special display and a memory book for fans who wish to share their memories with the family and others.

(3) BIG CONVENTION. At Galactic Journey, Alison Scott reports about Thirdmancon, the 1968 Eastercon: “[May 8, 1968] A Visit to Thirdmancon, the 1968 British Science Fiction Convention”.

It’s hard to overstate the anticipation I had for Eastercon 1968. It was going to be the largest national convention ever, with over 200 fans expected! In the end I understand that something like 150 people turned up; still the largest British national convention yet….

(4) RETRENCHMENT. Hard to believe there’s something Disney hasn’t figured how to make money from. But that’s their story, and they’re sticking to it: “Disney Pulling Some Content Off Streaming In Strategic Rethink” at Deadline.

… Pulling content off the service goes hand in hand with making less of it, or, as CEO Bob Iger put it on the call, “getting much more surgical about what we make.”

He said the company has spent a lot of time and money producing and marketing content that didn’t move the needle in terms of subscribers.

“When you make a lot of content, everything needs to be marketed. You’re spending a lot of money marketing things that are not going to have an impact on the bottom line, except negatively due to the marketing costs.”

Iger gave a shout-out to theatrical films, especially tentpoles, as great sub drivers. “But we were spreading our marketing costs so thin that we were not allocating enough money to even market them when they came onto the service. Coming up, Avatar, Little Mermaid, Guardians of the Galaxy, Elemental etc.. where we actualy believe we have an opportunity to lean into those more, put the right marketing dollars against it, allocate more basicaly away from programming that was not driving any subs at all.”

He called it “part of the maturation process as we grow into a business that we had never been in. We are learning a lot more about it. Specifically, we are learning a lot more about how our content behaves on the service and what customers want.”

(5) MAKING A COMEBACK. “Borges on Turning Trauma, Misfortune, and Humiliation into Raw Material for Art” in the Marginalian.

“Forget your personal tragedy,” Ernest Hemingway exhorted his dear friend F. Scott Fitzgerald in a tough-love letter of advice“Good writers always come back. Always.” It is an insight as true of writers as it is of all artists and of human beings in general, as true of personal tragedy as it is of collective tragedy — something Toni Morrison articulated in her mobilizing manifesto for the writer’s task in troubled times: “There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”

That is what Jorge Luis Borges (August 24, 1899–June 14, 1986) — born the same year as Hemingway, writing two decades before Morrison — conveys with uncommon splendor of sentiment in Twenty-Four Conversations with Borges: Including a Selection of Poems (public library) — the record of his dialogues with the Argentine journalist and poet Roberto Alifano, conducted in the final years of Borges’s life, by which point he had been blind for almost thirty years.

(6) EIGHTEENTH CENTURY TO THE RESCUE. “Sailing boat rescued by the Götheborg” – article and photo gallery on the Götheborg of Sweden blog.

…Imagine losing your rudder out at sea and sending out a distress call. And then the largest ocean-going wooden sailing ship in the world comes to your rescue. Or in the words of the sailors on the sailing boat: “This moment was very strange, and we wondered if we were dreaming. Where were we? What time period was it?”

You can see many more photos of the big ship on the Götheborg’s Instagram account.  

(7) MEMORY LANE.

2012[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Paul Cornell’s “The Copenhagen Interpretation” was published first in Asimov’s in their July 2011 issue. It was nominated for the Best Novelette Hugo at Chicon 7, and also for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. 

You know that I don’t do spoilers, so I won’t do any for this extraordinary well-written story. Annoyingly, while doing research found a number of descriptions of “The Copenhagen Interpretation” that gave everything away. Idiots.

And for the Beginning…

The best time to see Kastellet is in the evening, when the ancient fortifications are alight with glow worms, a landmark for anyone gazing down on the city as they arrive by carriage. Here stands one of Copenhagen’s great parks, its defence complexes, including the home of the Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste, and a single windmill, decorative rather than functional. The wind comes in hard over the Langeline, and after the sun goes down, the skeleton of the whale that’s been grown into the ground resonates in sympathy and gives out a howl that can be heard in Sweden. 

Hamilton had arrived on the diplomatic carriage, without papers, and, as etiquette demanded, without weapons or folds, thoroughly out of uniform. He watched the carriage heave itself up into the darkening sky above the park, and bank off to the southwest, swaying in the wind, sliding up the fold it made under its running boards. He was certain every detail was being registered by the FLV. You don’t look into the diplomatic bag, but you damn well know where the bag goes. He left the park through the healed bronze gates and headed down a flight of steps towards the diplomatic quarter, thinking of nothing. He did that when there were urgent questions he couldn’t answer, rather than run them round and round in his head and let them wear away at him.

The streets of Copenhagen. Ladies and gentlemen stepping from carriages, the occasional tricolour of feathers on a hat or, worse, once, tartan over a shoulder. Hamilton found himself reacting, furious. But then he saw it was Campbell. The wearer, a youth in evening wear, was the sort of fool who heard an accent in a bar and took up anything apparently forbidden, in impotent protest against the world. And thus got fleeced by Scotsmen. 

He was annoyed at his anger. He had failed to contain himself. 

He walked past the façade of the British embassy, with the Hanoverian regiment on guard, turned a corner and waited in one of those convenient dark streets that form the second map of diplomatic quarters everywhere in the world. After a moment, a door with no external fittings swung open and someone ushered him inside and took his coat.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 11, 1920 Denver Pyle. His first genre performance is in The Flying Saucer way back in 1950 where he was a character named Turner. Escape to Witch Mountain as Uncle Bené is his best known genre role. He’s also showed up on the Fifties Adventures of SupermanCommando Cody: Sky Marshal of the UniverseMen Into  SpaceTwilight Zone and his final role was apparently in How Bugs Bunny Won the West as the Narrator. (Died 1997.)
  • Born May 11, 1918 Richard Feynman. Ok, not genre as such but certainly genre adjacent. I wholeheartedly recommend Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman by James Gleick for an entertaining look at his life. (Died 1988.)
  • Born May 11, 1935 Doug McClure. He had the doubtful honor of appearing some of the worst Seventies  SF films done (my opinion of course and you’re welcome to challenge that), to wit The Land That Time ForgotThe People That Time ForgotWarlords of the Deep and even Humanoids From The Deep. Genre wise, he also appeared in one-offs in The Twilight ZoneOut of This WorldAirWolfAlfred Hitchcock PresentsFantasy Island and Manimal. Some of which were far better. (Died 1995.)
  • Born May 11, 1952 Shohreh Aghdashloo, 71. Best known genre role is Chrisjen Avasarala on The Expanse series. (I’ve not seen it, but have listened to all of The Expanse series.) She also had a recurring role as Farah Madani on The Punisher. She was also in X-Men: The Last Stand as Dr. Kavita Rao, but her role as The Chairman in The Adjustment Bureau didn’t make it to the final version. She was Commodore Paris in Star Trek Beyond, and she had a recurring role as Nhadra Udaya in FlashForward
  • Born May 11, 1952 Frances Fisher, 71. Angie on Strange Luck and a recurring role as Eva Thorne on Eureka. Have I mentioned how I love the latter series? Well I do! She’s also shown up on MediumX-Files, Outer LimitsResurrectionThe Expanse and has some role in the forthcoming Watchmen series. 
  • Born May 11, 1976 Alter S. Reiss, 47. He’s a scientific editor and field archaeologist. He lives in Jerusalem, he’s written two novels, Sunset Mantel and Recalled to Service. He’s also written an impressive amount of short fiction in the past ten years.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) BREAKING THINGS THAT WORK. Today, via a comment on Seanan McGuire’s discussion of Patreon (thread starts here), I learned about the Trust Thermocline. John Bull’s thread starts here.

(11)  DO YOUR PULP HOMEWORK HERE. The Popular Culture Association’s Pulp Studies area now has a website with links and resources: “Pulp Studies”.

What is a “Pulp”?

Pulp magazines were a series of mostly English-language, predominantly American, magazines printed on rough pulp paper.  They were often illustrated with highly stylized, full-page cover art and numerous line art illustrations of the fictional content.  They were sold for modest sums,  and were targeted at (sometimes specialized) readerships of popular literature, such as western and adventure, detective, fantastic (including the evolving genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror), romance and sports fiction. The first pulp Argosy, began life as the children’s magazine The Golden Argosy, dated Dec 2, 1882 and the last of the “original” pulps was Ranch Romances and Adventures, Nov 1971.

(12) THE SOURCES OF HORROR. At CrimeReads, Nicholas Binge explains “What Teaching Shakespeare Taught Me About Writing Horror”.

…On the surface, no play epitomizes this more than his first tragedy, the grisly Titus Andronicus. It is the Saw franchise of Elizabethan theatre, filled with as much shock and gore as Shakespeare could possibly have packed into a single play. As well as a full complement of stabbings, hangings, and beheadings, the audience is treated to Aaron being buried up to his neck until he starves to death, seeing Lavinia’s hands removed and tongue cut out, watching on as Alarbus’s arms and legs are cut off and he is thrown into a fire, and finally, Shakespeare delivers the coup-de-grace as Chiron and Demetrius are baked into a pie and then fed to their mother. Let it not be said that gore is a new thing in popular entertainment.

And yet, for all these horrors, this play never quite captures an audience (or a classroom) like some of his later, less graphic, tragedies. Why is that? Seen through the lens of a horror writer, Shakespeare’s progression as an artist is not just in his ability to play with structure, form, and character, but rather that he gains a deeper understanding of how to really scare people. As he grew as a writer, he learned there are better ways to emotionally wound an audience than the surface kills and thrills, and it’s this that ends up really defining him as a playwright….

(13) THE TOWER OF BALLARD. Also at CrimeReads, Andrew F. Sullivan revisits High-Rise by J.G. Ballard: “If You Build It, They Will Profit: Reflecting on J. G. Ballard’s High-Rise 48 Years Later”.

J. G. Ballard’s modern fable High-Rise is almost fifty years old. In the past few decades, its potency has come closer to resembling prophecy, yet Ballard’s obsession with affluence and self-isolating communities isn’t limited to this novel alone. Novels like Super-Cannes, Concrete Island, and Cocaine Nights all invoke similar themes of alienation, isolation, and unrestrained affluence from the depths of his back catalogue, the rich coiling tightly around one another to block out the pressing realities of the wider, poorer world. Yet High-Rise remains a singular invocation, summoning a sturdy mental image with ease, a fraught zoo, a series of stacked cages, a social order imprinted on the quivering skyline in concrete—a book that has shaped its legacy at times with just a title and a stark image on the cover.

(14) DOUR TOWER. The New York Post is quite right about this! “New Brooklyn Tower divides NYC with its ‘evil’ ‘Sauron’ vibes”.

(15) FAILURE MODE. A Nature editorial says, “Space companies should not lose heart when things go wrong. The first Moon missions failed repeatedly — and provided lessons on how to achieve success in space and beyond.” “In space, failure is an option — often the only one”

 “Failure is not an option,” NASA’s legendary flight-operations director Gene Kranz is said to have remarked, as seen in the 1995 film Apollo 13. Actor Ed Harris portrayed Kranz as he guided his team to save a spacecraft that had run into trouble on the way to the Moon. In the movie, as in real life, the three astronauts on the Apollo 13 mission pulled off a spectacular fix and returned safely to Earth.

Not all space ventures have such a tidy ending. A 2019 attempt by Israeli company SpaceIL to land on the Moon crashed. On 20 April this year, a spectacular intentional detonation ended the first major test flight of Starship, the world’s largest rocket, which SpaceX in Hawthorne, California, is building to carry humans back to the Moon and to Mars. The craft had spun out of control four minutes after lifting off its launch pad in Texas. Five days later, a robotic mission from the Japanese company ispace, based in Tokyo, tried and failed to land safely on the Moon

“…The scientists and engineers involved should not be discouraged by these failures. Space is hard. This is a truism trotted out every time there’s an attempt to launch from this planet or land on another. But it is accurate. Those who wish to explore the cosmos should expect to fail — perhaps many times — before they can succeed.”

(16) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 83 of the Octothorpe podcast, John Coxon would like more drawers, Alison Scott uses the floor, and Liz Batty is okay with shelves. They also discuss fan funds briefly, and the 2023 Eastercon (Conversation) at some length. Listen here: “Efffffffff”.

(17) ZELDA KEEPS ROLLING ALONG. EV Grieve has photos of “‘The Legend of Zelda,’ bus edition”. See them at the link.

Nintendo Switch gamers may be excited to see this promo bus for “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom,” the highly anticipated sequel to 2017’s “Breath of the Wild” parked on First Avenue by 12th Street… 

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Doctor Who drops brand new teaser as fans decode clues” reports Radio Times.

…This appears to confirm that we’ll get another full trailer for the trilogy of specials at some point during the Eurovision Song Contest, as had previously been rumoured….

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