Pixel Scroll 5/14/23 Pixelberry Jam On Filer Buttered Scrolls

(1) BAFTA TV AWARDS. The genre cupboard was practically bare when the winners of the BAFTA TV Awards 2023 were revealed tonight. “Memorable Moment” — the only publicly-voted category – proved the exception, won by “’Platinum Jubilee – Party at the Palace’ – Paddington meets Queen Elizabeth II”. 

…Ben Whishaw was a part of Queen Elizabeth II’s Paddington Bear skit – as the voice of Paddington – which won an 2023 BAFTA TV award for most memorable moment, the only prize voted on by the public. The skit beat out Nick and Charlie’s first kiss in “Heartstopper” and the “Running Up That Hill” moment in “Stranger Things,” among other nominees…

(2) CRUISING. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] I took my Masters of the Universe figures out into the garden and posted another photo story: “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Adam’s Day Out’”.

“I just love getting out of the palace and enjoying the peace and quiet of the Eternian wilderness in springtime. And the Road Ripper really packs a punch. Too bad it’s only a one-seater, so I can’t take Cringer along. Or Teela…”

“Still, nothing beats racing across the plains of Eternia. No Prince Adam, no royal duties, no He-Man, just me and the unspoiled wilderness and… – Oh, raptor crossing!”

SCREECH!

(3) EUROVISION BOOK CONTEST. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] The finalists for the Eurovision Book Contest (like the Eurovision Song Contest, only with books) have been announced and there is at least one genre finalist, the German entry The Perfume by Patrick Süsskind, which won the 1987 World Fantasy Award: “Elena Ferrante and Marian Keyes among authors competing in Eurovision book contest” in the Guardian.

In March, the literary festival asked the public to submit their favourite fiction from any of the 37 countries that take part in the music competition each year. Suggestions could be of any genre and language but they had to have been published in the years since Eurovision began in 1956.

The final selection of one book from each country was chosen by an expert panel, who were aiming to come up with “an ambitious reading list” of books that will “inspire, examine and entertain”.

This also illustrates IMO the issue with that contest. The Perfume was released in 1985, i.e. it’s almost forty years old. The Irish contestant Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes came out in 1998. That Georgian contestant is a novel written in German by a Georgian expat. Two finalists are graphic novels. The selection is just weird.

(4) A CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT. Connie Willis shared her delight in Charles’ coronation with Facebook readers.  

“What is the finest sight in the world? A Coronation. What do people talk most about? A Coronation. What is delightful to have passed? A Coronation.” — Horace Walpole

Saturday I got up early to watch Charles III’s coronation. It was the second one I’d seen. The first was Elizabeth II’s which I watched seventy years ago on someone else’s TV because we didn’t own one yet. It was an impossibly grainy image on a tiny screen of a Cinderella-looking carriage drawn by four horses. I was only seven years old, but I have a vivid memory of it, probably because I was so fascinated by fairy tales and princesses and queens and golden coaches made out of pumpkins.

This time my husband and I watched it in color on a much larger screen while talking on the phone to our daughter in California the whole time as she kept us updated with texts from her friends and comments on Tumblr. Now, seventy years later, I am no longer all that fascinated by princess and carriages, but I am fascinated by history, and in terms of historical events, a coronation simply can’t be beat….

(5) ROBOTIC ROBBERY. Lincoln Michel knows “The Endgame for A.I. Is Clear: Rip Off Everyone”.

…But let’s talk about the more specific ways companies plan to rip off writers with “A.I.” as the excuse.

A strong hint can be found in the current Writers Guild of America strike. A key sticking point is the use of A.I. writing. The writers aren’t asking for Hollywood to ban the use of A.I., rather they are asking that A.I writing not count as “literary material” or “source material.” This is technical Hollywood language related to the realities of how contracts work and how much money writers get. With the hard realities of capitalism and how corporations look to rip off writers.

The concern isn’t that ChatGPT can replace writers, but that studios will get chatbots to produce a crappy script then hire a writer at a lower rate to fix up the script into something usable. Fixing up a mess of ChatGPT vomit could take more work than writing a script from scratch, but cost the corporation less money.

I think this fear is completely justified and one that writers everywhere should take note of. Will websites and magazines start hiring writers or editors to “fix” chatbot outputs for less pay and no credit? Will book publishers decide they can feed an idea into ChatGPT then hire a novelist as a ghostwriter to rewrite it?

Again, the chatbots don’t have to produce good or even usable writing for this to be a threat. The threat is A.I being an excuse to rip off writers. If you hire a screenwriter to rewrite a chatbot script, you can pay them less. If you hire an author to rewrite a chatbot draft, you can avoid royalties. Etc ….

(6) FOUNDATION. GeekTyrant walks viewers through a “Thrilling New Trailer for Apple Adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s FOUNDATION Season 2”.

…Season 2 is set more than a century after the finale of the first season, “tension mounts throughout the galaxy in Foundation season two. As the Cleons unravel, a vengeful queen plots to destroy Empire from within. Hari, Gaal, and Salvor discover a colony of Mentalics with psionic abilities that threaten to alter psychohistory itself. The Foundation has entered its religious phase, promulgating the Church of Seldon throughout the Outer Reach and inciting the Second Crisis: war with Empire. Foundation chronicles the stories of four crucial individuals transcending space and time as they overcome deadly crises, shifting loyalties, and complicated relationships that will ultimately determine the fate of humanity.”…

(7) TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS AND WORKING OVERTIME. New Amazing Stories editor Lloyd Penney has been interviewed by Angelique Fawns for The Horror Tree, a website for horror writers and markets.

AF: What personal projects are you working on? What do you do in your spare time?

LP: Spare time? What is this ‘spare time’ you speak of? These days, I go into a publications office in Toronto’s east end twice a week to do the proofreader/copyeditor thing for one print magazine and two e-magazines. Then, I am the occasional editor for a British author’s long-time series of books, D.J. Holmes and his Empire Rising series of space adventures. And, for the past 40 years, I have been a regular correspondent and writer in the Letters Column for a long series of fannish publications, fanzines. I try my best to juggle all of this, and I hope not to drop anything. I have been an editor/copyeditor/proofreader for most of my working life, and I have always been an SF reader, so this is the first time I’ve been able to combine the two, and I have tried my best to run with it. I was told it should be fun, and it has been.

(8) PRO TIP. “Tim Dowling: my wife is gardening. I’m in my shed writing. It’s a risky situation”. The author is quoted in the Guardian saying —

“A long time ago I read a quotation in a book of advice, which held that the hardest thing about being a writer is convincing your spouse that looking out of the window is part of your job. I have never been able to track down the exact wording or the author of that quotation; when I look online the only source I can find for it is me, because I cite it so regularly. This is perhaps fitting, since my wife thinks I made it up.”

(9) ONE SUMMER TO A CUSTOMER. Jonathan Clarke investigates “Rod Serling’s Enduring Appeal” for City Journal.

…You might have guessed by now that in “Walking Distance,” Serling was telling his own story. He was 35 when the episode appeared, and he had come a long way from a charmed boyhood in Binghamton, New York. Like Martin Sloan, he had good reason to be tired, and good reason, despite his considerable success, to want to go home again. As his success grew, that desire would grow stronger, too.

It’s easy to forget now that television was once regarded as a creative nullity, good only for selling product. In the medium’s early decades, the programming was mostly quiz shows, Westerns, and police procedurals. Corporate sponsors had considerable creative control, and in tone and style, the industry was not unlike Madison Avenue, slick and a bit shameless. At the same time, because the medium was so new, conventions hadn’t yet hardened, and barriers to entry were lower, especially for writers. Serling, with his early work for two important live series, Kraft Television Theatre and Playhouse 90, became one of a handful of creators pushing television forward. Even so, he accepted that it was a second-rate form, inherently inferior to theater and film. Interviewed by Mike Wallace in 1959, shortly before The Twilight Zone debuted, Serling argued that he was writing “serious, adult” scripts, but he didn’t claim the privileges of an artist. “I’m a dramatist for television,” he said, by way of apology. “This is the medium I know.”

By then, Serling was the most recognizable writer in the country. The face he showed to the public was an appealing one, and very much an American face—principled but modest, industrious, courageous. Beneath that there was a different man: vain, self-indulgent, needy. And underneath that there was a sensitive artist, and a traumatized war veteran, and a young man who lost his father too early. The inmost Serling was perhaps ever that eager boy in Binghamton, standing on his tiptoes to be seen. (As an adult, he stood just 5’5”.) As a writer, he sought to integrate these different selves, to find the sense of coherence that evaded him in life. He would never quite feel that he had done so….

(10) GERALD ROSE (1935-2023). Illustrator and teacher Gerald Rose died May 5 at the age of 87 reports the Guardian. He was the youngest winner of the Kate Greenaway medal for children’s book illustration, in 1960.

…As well as the books with [his wife] Elizabeth, Gerald illustrated the work of many other authors, including Ted Hughes’s Nessie the Mannerless Monster (1964), James Joyce’s The Cat and the Devil (1965), Paul Jennings’ The Hopping Basket (1965) and The Great Jelly of London (1967), Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky and Other Poems (1968) and a number of Norman Hunter’s Professor Branestawm titles (1981-83). His own later picturebooks included the award-winning Ahhh! Said Stork (1986) and The Tiger Skin Rug (2011)….

(11) LAST FAREWELL. “RIP John Mansfield”, Kevin Standlee’s tribute to our friend, includes a link to the video of the service.

As most of you who follow me may know, John Mansfield, chair of the 1994 Winnipeg Worldcon and an important figure in Canadian fandom, passed away a few days ago after a long period of decline. His funeral service in Winnipeg was today, and was live streamed and recorded so that people (including me) who could not come to Winnipeg could attend virtually….

(12) MEMORY LANE.

1990[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Charles de Lint’s Drink Down the Moon which is where this Beginning comes from is one of my favorite novels by him. Published by Ace Books in 1990, it is the second novel of his Jack of Kinrowan series, one of his Ottawa set novels. 

I like them because they are tighter, less sprawling than the later Newford novels are. They have a simplicity that sometimes gets lost in those novels.

And here’s our beginning, complete with fey music…

He slipped through the darkness in the 4/ 4 tempo of a slow reel, startled an owl in its perch, and crept through the trees to join the quiet murmur of the Rideau River as it quickened by Carleton University. At length, he came to the ears of a young woman who was sitting on the flat stones on the south bank of the river. 

The fiddle playing that tune had a mute on its bridge, substantially reducing the volume of the music, but it was still loud enough for the woman to lift her head and smile when she heard it. She knew that tune, if not the fiddler, and yet she had a sense of the fiddler as well. There was something–an echo of familiarity–that let her guess who it was, because she knew from whom he’d learned to play. 

Every good fiddler has a distinctive sound. No matter how many play the same tune, each can’t help but play it differently. Some might use an up stroke where another would a down. One might bow a series of quick single notes where another would play them all with one long draw of the bow. Some might play a double stop where others would a single string. If the listener’s ear was good enough, she could tell the difference. But you had to know the tunes, and the players, for the differences were minute.

“There’s still a bit of you plays on, Old Tom,” she whispered to the night as she stood up to follow the music to its source. 

She was a small woman with brown hair cropped short to her scalp and a heart-shaped face. Her build was more wiry than slender; her features striking rather than handsome. She wore faded jeans, frayed at the back of the hems, sneakers, and a dark blue sweatshirt that was a size or so too big for her. Slipping through the trees, she moved so quietly that she found the fiddler and stood watching him for some time before he was aware of her presence. 

She knew him by sight as soon as she saw him, confirming her earlier guess. It was Old Tom’s grandson, Johnny Faw. He was a head taller than her own four foot eleven, the fiddle tucked under his clean-shaven chin, his head bent down over it as he drew the music from its strings. His hair was a darker brown than her own, an unruly thatch that hung over his shirt collar in back and covered his ears to just above his lobes. He wore a light blue shirt, brown corduroys, and black Chinese rubber-soled slippers. The multi-coloured scarf around his neck and the gold loops glinting in each earlobe gave him the air of a Gypsy. His beat-up black fiddle case lay beside him with a brown quilted-cotton jacket lying next to it. 

She waited until the tune was done–”The King of the Fairies” having made way for a Scots reel called “Miss Shepherd’s”–and then stepped out into the little clearing where he sat playing. He looked up, startled at her soft hello and sudden appearance. As she sat down facing him, he took the fiddle from under his chin and held it and the bow on his lap.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 14, 1929 Kay Elliot. The actress who shows up in “I, Mudd” as the android form of Harry Mudd’s wife Stella Mudd. SPOILER ALERT (I promised our OGH I’d put these in. It’s possible someone here hasn’t seen “I, Mudd”.) Need I say she ends getting the upper hand in the end? She also had appearances in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as Miss Prendergast in “The It’s All Greek to Me Affair” episode and multiple roles on Bewitched. That’s it, but she died young. (Died 1982.)
  • Born May 14, 1935 Peter J. Reed. A Vonnegut specialist with a long history starting with Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.: The Vonnegut Chronicles: Interviews and Essays that he wrote with Marc Leeds, and Kurt Vonnegut: Images and Representations with Leeds again. He also wrote a handful of essays such as “Hurting ’til It Laughs: The Painful-Comic Science Fiction Stories of Kurt Vonnegut” and “Kurt Vonnegut’s Bitter Fool: Kilgore Trout”. (Died 2018.)
  • Born May 14, 1944 George Lucas, 79. For better and worse I suppose, he created the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. (Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade are fine. I adore the original Trilogy.) And let’s not forget THX 1138. My fav works that he was involved in? LabyrinthRaiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back and Willow. Oh, and and The Young Indiana Jones series. 
  • Born May 14, 1945 Francesca Annis, 78. Lady Jessica in David Lynch’s Dune, Lady Macbeth in Roman Polanski’s Macbeth. I know only two roles, but what a pair of roles they were! She also appeared in Krull as The Widow of The Web but I’ll be damned if I can remember her in that role. 
  • Born May 14, 1947 Edward James, 76. Winner at Interaction of Best Related Non-Fiction Book for The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction which he did with Farah Mendlesohn. A companion volume, The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature, was also edited with Mendlesohn. He was the editor of Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction from 1986 to 2001.
  • Born May 14, 1952 Robert Zemeckis, 71. He’s responsible for some of my favorite films including the Back to the Future trilogy, The Muppet Christmas CarolThe WitchesWho Framed Roger Rabbit and the savagely funny in a twisted sort of way Death Becomes Her. So what’s your favorite films that’s he had a hand in? 
  • Born May 14, 1952 Kathleen Ann Goonan. Her Nanotech Quartet is most excellent, particularly the first novel, Queen City Jazz. Her only Award was given for In War Times which garnered a John W. Campbell Memorial Award. She’s wrote an interesting essay on the relationship between sf and music,  “Science Fiction and All That Jazz”. (Died 2021.)
  • Born May 14, 1955 Rob Tapert, 68. I’d say he’s best known for co-creating Xena: Warrior Princess. He also produced and/or wrote several other television series including Hercules: The Legendary JourneysM.A.N.T.I.S. and American Gothic. Tapert also co-created the prequel series Young Hercules which I loved more than the adult series. He’s married to actress Lucy Lawless. 

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • Tom Gauld says this job is not that easy!

(15) KEEP A SHARP EAR OUT. You’ve still got 18 days to bid on some prime Star Trek: The Original Series collectibles available in “The Comisar Collection Platinum Signature® Auction” at Heritage Auctions.

(16) HUANG’S OUTLAWS. At Nerds of a Feather, Paul Weimer starts with history — “Review: The Water Outlaws by S. L. Huang”.

… In Classic Chinese literature, there are a number of canonical novels, core books that are the backbone of a strand of Chinese history, culture and society….

…The Water Margin is set in the Song Dynasty, the last native Chinese Dynasty before the invasion of the Mongols. The Water Margin is a story that in its 50000 foot level will be familiar to Western readers. A group of diversely outlaws in an inaccessible area, fighting against corrupt officials who are oppressing the people? Yes, in the most broad of senses, The Water Margin is the Chinese parallel to the story of Robin Hood. It’s bigger scale, (108 outlaws in all, much larger than Robin’s band), larger stakes–fighting against full imperial armies, and, sadly, ends in a tragedy, the heroism of the outlaws ending not quite in a happily ever after.

And it is The Water Margin that is the story that S. L. Huang retells in The Water Outlaws.

S. L. Huang puts us in a slightly different China right from the get go by giving it a more feminist approach, starting with genderflipping the main character, Lin Chong. In Huang’s slightly alternate China, women have a significantly better role and place in society, but not so much that sexism and oppression of women are still not huge obstacles. But as a guard captain, Lin Chong is certainly in a position she would have not had in our own history. In this way, The Water Outlaws invites for me, comparisons to Shelley Parker-Chan’s She Who Became the Sun, which has a genderflipped protagonist, but she is a character who hides her gender. And her story is at the end of the Yuan dynasty, a century or more after the events of The Water Margin. But the queer, feminist lens of Chinese history and the perspective that it brings is strong in both works.

(17) LUNAR ORDERS. Also at Nerds of a Feather, Alex Wallace’s hook “Murder, Monks, and the Moon! What’s not to like?” gets readers started: “Review: Poor Man’s Sky by Wil McCarthy”.

There’s something about the great black void above us that attracts a wide variety of peculiar people. In our world, we have the likes of Elon Musk (who promises settlements on Mars when not driving Twitter to implosion) and other billionaires with god complexes and more money than sense. This is a theme that runs through Poor Man’s Sky Wil McCarthy’s most recent novel, a sequel to 2021’s Rich Man’s Sky….

(18) TINY DANCERS. The New York Times takes readers “Inside the Big World of Small Objects” — “For over 40 years, Tom Bishop’s dollhouse miniatures show has been the gold standard for serious collectors and hobbyists alike.”

Moments before 10 a.m., a security guard thanked the crowd for being cooperative.

When the clock struck the hour, it became clear why: The doors of the Marriott Chicago O’Hare conference center opened, and hundreds of attendees, a majority of whom were over the age of 60, bee-lined as fast as they could to the booths.

Many had studied the color-coded map ahead of time listing each booth’s location and came prepared with a shopping plan — a scene that could easily be mistaken for a Black Friday sale. Instead, it was the Chicago International Miniatures Show.

Despite the gathering touting itself as “the World’s No. 1 Dollhouse Miniatures Show,” there aren’t many actual dollhouses. Attendees instead sift through thousands of tiny objects that fill these tiny homes: miniature sponges, chocolate fondue fountains, rocking chairs, barbecue sets, Tupperware containers or fly swatters.

“The largest miniature dollhouse convention” may sound like a silly distinction to some, but it is no joking matter for the sellers. For many, the Tom Bishop show is where they hope to make the bulk of their annual sales.

The Tom Bishop show, as many attendees call it, is considered by its founder, Mr. Bishop, to be the largest dollhouse miniatures event in the world. Numbers appear to support that claim. This year, over 250 vendors traveled from 21 countries and 35 states.

More than 3,000 people attended, filling three large conference rooms, with hallway spillover. The weeklong event, from April 24 to April 30, included ticketed workshops with themes like “Lobsterfest” (focused on making miniature lobster boil accouterments); trade shows; and three days of ticketed shopping for the public….

(19) FULL GROWN DANCERS. Boris Karloff narrated “The Peppermint Twist” on Shindig 1965.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/14/23 They Will Not Be Filed, Stamped, Indexed, Briefed, Debriefed, Or Numbered But They Will Be Pixelated

(1) CLOSE ENOUGH FOR…WHAT KIND OF WORK? Ted Chiang tells The New Yorker that “ChatGPT Is a Blurry JPEG of the Web”.

… This analogy to lossy compression is not just a way to understand ChatGPT’s facility at repackaging information found on the Web by using different words. It’s also a way to understand the “hallucinations,” or nonsensical answers to factual questions, to which large language models such as ChatGPT are all too prone. These hallucinations are compression artifacts, but—like the incorrect labels generated by the Xerox photocopier—they are plausible enough that identifying them requires comparing them against the originals, which in this case means either the Web or our own knowledge of the world. When we think about them this way, such hallucinations are anything but surprising; if a compression algorithm is designed to reconstruct text after ninety-nine per cent of the original has been discarded, we should expect that significant portions of what it generates will be entirely fabricated.

This analogy makes even more sense when we remember that a common technique used by lossy compression algorithms is interpolation—that is, estimating what’s missing by looking at what’s on either side of the gap. When an image program is displaying a photo and has to reconstruct a pixel that was lost during the compression process, it looks at the nearby pixels and calculates the average. This is what ChatGPT does when it’s prompted to describe, say, losing a sock in the dryer using the style of the Declaration of Independence: it is taking two points in “lexical space” and generating the text that would occupy the location between them. (“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one to separate his garments from their mates, in order to maintain the cleanliness and order thereof. . . .”) ChatGPT is so good at this form of interpolation that people find it entertaining: they’ve discovered a “blur” tool for paragraphs instead of photos, and are having a blast playing with it….

(2) ARGUMENT FOR SEPARATING ART AND THE ARTIST. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] EV Knight, doctor, says she was dumped from a hospital position due to writing horror. There is further information in Knight’s response to comments.

(3) ATTENDING LTUE THOUGHTFULLY. At Being A Better Writer, Max Florschutz encourages writers attending LTUE to focus on the opportunity to learn more about their craft and not just bask in the reflected glory of celebrity authors: “How to Use a Writing Resource Like LTUE”.

…LTUE, Life, The Universe, and Everything, which is the writing convention for writers, is happening this week. It’s a big deal. I’ve been readying myself for several weeks now, making sure that I’m prepared and ready to go when this Thursday rolls around…. 

See, there’s a lot that goes on at LTUE, but one thing that people sometimes forget when they’re in attendance is that first and foremost, LTUE is an educational con. Yes, it’s neat and fun to be able to meet some of our favorite authors and creators in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy space … but we’re not there just to meet them. And when they bring up that book that you really love or that scene that you thought was very cool, they’re not just brining it up because of that—though they definitely love it too. No, they’re bringing it up because they want to illustrate a point, or demonstrate something….

He follows with a checklist to use in assessing which items to attend. It’s advice you could adapt for attending many different cons.

(4) AMAZING’S NEW EDITOR. Lloyd Penney is a news flash on the Toronto Metropolitan University School of Journalism webpage: “Alum named editor of sci-fi magazine Amazing Stories”.

Lloyd Penney

When Lloyd Penney ‘83 received a phone call last November, he was not expecting to hear surprising news. He says he was utterly shocked to find out he would be the next editor-in-chief for one of America’s most popular sci-fi magazines, Amazing Stories, external link.  

Penney describes Amazing Stories as the “best writing” of science fiction that is enjoyable to read.

“Some of them can be bizarre, but that’s the expression of imagination. And if you can think it, if you can imagine it, you can grasp it,” says Penney.

Published for almost a century, the idea of Amazing Stories is to challenge you to think the unthinkable, enhance your imagination and enjoy the writing.

“Now, one of my jobs, besides being the editor-in-chief, is also the defender of that long history. I want to make sure that we do right by it,” says Penney….

(5) STICKING TO IT. Jon Favreau now has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The actor he cast as Iron Man introduced him in Tony Stark style. “Watch: Robert Downey Jr. Honors Jon Favreau by Defiling His Walk of Fame Star With Chewed Gum” at Comicbook.com.

…Downey took the podium to pay tribute to his two-time Iron Man director, who lobbied producer Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios to cast the once-troubled actor at the time better known for his off-screen bad behavior than his movie career. (“It wasn’t an easy job to get him cast,” Favreau recalled to EW in 2018. “There was quite a bit of resistance at first.”)

“Never forget where you come from. 16 years ago this week, Jon and I were in pre-production on what felt like a high-concept indie, and we were fueled by this infectious, yet unfounded, confidence,” Downey said in his speech. “I was beyond grateful for the power of second chances. Strangely, Kevin Feige trusted us, he and I trusted Jon, and for no good reason, Jon and Kevin trusted me.”

Before Iron Man grossed more than half a billion dollars globally and kick-started the now 31-movie MCU, it was “a second-tier superhero property that had no shot at affording Kevin Feige the opportunity to launch a cinematic universe, because there was no such thing as a cinematic universe.”

“Now, I would never insinuate that it was me who made Jon a multi-hyphenate international sensation, because I have to leave something for his speech,” Downey quipped, breaking out in laughter. “And there’s nothing more awkward for my friend that we are here to celebrate and honor than being honored and celebrated.”…

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1981[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

I suspect that almost all of you here have seen the Who Framed Roger Rabbit? film. Brilliant I think we can all agree. The screenplay was by Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman which they based off of Gary K. Wolf’s Who Censored Roger Rabbit? novel. 

Now how many of you have read the Who Censored Roger Rabbit novel? Well I have. It actually reads rather well.  It of course is an entirely different experience than the film but a rather excellent one none the less. The characters are well fleshed out, the setting is described quite well and the story which more or less makes it intact to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is quite good.

And now here is that Beginning…

I found the bungalow and rang the bell.

My client answered the door. Novel.

He was almost my height, close to six feet, but only if you counted his eighteen-inch ears. He wore only a baggy pair of shorts, held up by brightly colored suspenders. His shoulders stooped so badly, he had to secure his suspender tops in place with crossed pieces of cellophane tape. For eyes, he had twin black dots, floating in the center of two oblong white saucers. His white stomach, nose, toes, and palms on a light brown body made him resemble someone who had just walked face first into a freshly painted wall.

“I’m Eddie Valiant, private eye. You the one who called?”

“Yes, I am,” he said, extending a fuzzy white paw. “I’m Roger Rabbit.” His words came out encased in a balloon that floated over his head.

The rabbit ushered me into his living room. The angular furniture reminded me of the upward-reaching spires in caves. That, combined with an extremely low ceiling and stale air, gave the room the closed-in nature of an underground burrow. Perfect interior design for a rabbit.”

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 14, 1919 David A. Kyle. He chaired the 1956 Worldcon, was a leader in First Fandom, and wrote innumerable fanhistorical articles for Mimosa. Along with Martin Greenberg, he founded Gnome Press in the late Forties. He also penned two illustrated SF histories, A Pictorial History of Science Fiction and The Illustrated Book of Science Fiction Ideas and Dreams. He wrote three novels set in the Lensman universe: The Dragon LensmanLensman from Rigel and Z-Lensman. So has anybody read these? (Died 2016.)
  • Born February 14, 1925 J. T. McIntosh. Scottish writer at his best according to Clute in his early work such as World Out of Mind and One in Three Hundred. He’s deeply stocked at the usual suspects at very reasonable rates, indeed most as Meredith Moments. (Died 2008.)
  • Born February 14, 1933 Robert Shea. Author with Robert Anton Wilson of The Illuminatus Trilogy (The Eye in the PyramidThe Golden Apple and Leviathan). Is it really genre? Or just the ravings of two insane writers?  It won the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award. (Died 1994.)
  • Born February 14, 1942 Andrew Robinson, 81. Elim Garak on Deep Space Nine. He wrote a novel based based on his character, A Stitch in Time  and a novella, “The Calling” which can be found in Prophecy and Change, a DS9 anthology edited by Marco Palmieri. Other genre credits include Larry Cotton in Hellraiser, appearing in The Puppet Masters as Hawthorne and playing John F. Kennedy on the The New Twilight Zone
  • Born February 14, 1952 Gwyneth Jones, 71. Interesting person that she is, let’s start with her thoughts on thoughts on chestnuts. Just because I can. Now regarding her fiction, I’d strongly recommend her Bold As Love series of a Britain that went to pieces, and her twenty year-old Deconstructing the Starships: Science, Fiction and Reality polemic is still worth reading.
  • Born February 14, 1952 Paula M. Block, 71. Star Trek author and editor; but primarily known for working in Paramount Pictures’ consumer licensing division and then with CBS Consumer Products. Remember that novel I noted by Andrew Robinson? Yeah that’s her bailiwick. She’s also written with her husband Terry J. Erdmann, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion and Star Trek: Costumes: Five Decades of Fashion from the Final Frontier. It looks like she did some Trek fanfic as well including “The Girl Who Controlled Gene Kelly’s Feet”.
  • Born February 14, 1963 Enrico Colantoni, 60. Any excuse to mention Galaxy Quest is one I’ll gladly take. He played a delightful Mathesar on that film and that was his first genre role, lucky bastard. up next for him was A.I. Artificial Intelligence as The Murderer followed by appearing in Justice League Dark as the voice of Felix Faust where (SPOILER!) his fate was very, very bad. He had an amazing role on Person of Interest as Charlie Burton / Carl Elias. Not genre, but his acting as Sgt. Gregory Parker on Flashpointa Canadian police drama television series is worth noting
  • Born February 14, 1975 M. Darusha Wehm, 48. New Zealand resident writer who was nominated for the Nebula Award and won the New Zealand Sir Julius Vogel Award for The Martian Job novel. She says it’s interactive fiction. You can read the standalone prequel novella, Retaking Elysium, on her website which can be found here.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Sally Forth shows someone inventing an entertaining board game mashup.

(9) JEOPARDY! David Goldfarb chronicled two sff references in yesterday’s episode of Jeopardy!

TV Catchphrases, $200: “This Starfleet captain: ‘Make it so'”

The returning champion, Mira Hayward, tried “Who is Captain Kirk?”.

Jeff Paine responded correctly.


TV Catchphrases, $1000: “Mork: This double-talk Orkan signoff”

Jeff Paine (who looked a bit young to have watched it on first run) responded “Nanu nanu”. He hails from Colorado Springs, so perhaps the Colorado connection helped.

(10) VERDICT APPEALED. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Some little time back, Warner Bros. Discovery executives leaked that they axed the Batgirl film, which was well into post production, because, well, it sucked. “Not so!” says the title actress, Leslie Grace.  “‘Batgirl’ Star Leslie Grace Rejects Studio’s Claim the Axed Film Was Unreleasable: The Cut I Saw Was ‘Incredible’” in Variety.

When “Batgirl” completed its seven-month production in Scotland, star Leslie Grace received a wrap gift from Brendan Fraser, who played her nemesis, Firefly, in the DC movie — a gold necklace that included two charms, a little bell and a pair of dice.

“The card said a lot of really sweet things, but he basically said, ‘I give you this necklace because in this business you gotta have a little luck. So ring your bell and never stop,’” Grace says. “It was just like, Whoa. And after all this, it’s had so much meaning.”

“All this” is the August bombshell that Warner Bros. Discovery had decided to kill the film, co-directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. After the first disappointing test screenings, WBD executives chose to take a tax write-off instead of trying to complete work on the film, which had cost the debt-ridden studio $90 million, and would have cost many more millions to finish.

Grace says she had no idea the movie, originally set to stream on HBO Max, was shelved, until it was first reported by the New York Post.

“I found out like the rest of you,” she says. “And then my phone just started blowing up.”

Like Grace, Fraser says he was blindsided by the news. “I thought I was getting punked, but it checked out,” he says of reading the initial stories. “Then came hysterical laughter like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me?’ I know that the filmmakers and producers were expecting to hear from the studio about the film, and the anticipation was, ‘How do we broaden the movie out to take it from a streaming format to a theatrical release?’ But as we all know, it was the complete opposite. When we were expecting XYZ amount of support and money to expand scenes — to do pickup shots and those kinds of things — that was a gut punch. But then we learned that it was in the interest of writing down some debt? That part really stung.”

Fraser immediately called Grace. “What I find most lamentable is that now a whole generation of little girls are going to have to wait longer to see a Batgirl and say, ‘Hey, she looks like me,’” he says. “That makes me sad. I know how good she was. And I know what this would mean to so many people.”

Fraser gets emotional talking about working with Grace. “It was just magical to see how she was as quietly confident as a young actress in this breakthrough role and had a sense of purpose and dignity,” he says. “She has a work ethic that is unrivaled. She’s dynamite — and dynamite comes in small packages but still goes bang. We do battle each other several times. There was a lot of kicking and punching and getting hurt but we were always help each other to our feet after breaking set pieces and knocking the tar out of each other.”…

(11) A SPOKE IN SPACE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Research in the journal Geophysical Research Letters highlights the start of a change in Saturn’s rings. “Hubble Detects the Start of a New Saturn Ring Spoke Season”.

Saturn is known for its iconic, pristine rings. However, the main B ring can have splotches and streaks of darker or lighter material, known as spokes, that may be tied to dust interactions with the planet’s magnetic field. These spokes appear periodically, lasting around 8 years, centered around Saturn spring or fall equinox. Hubble Space Telescope observations in 2021 and 2022 revealed the start of a new ring spoke season in advance of the next equinox in 2025. Multi-color observations reveal a reddish color, and that the spokes circle the planet at about the same rate as the ring particles, though perhaps influenced by the variable rotation rate of Saturn’s magnetosphere. Spoke activity should continue to increase for the next several years, becoming more visible to ground-based telescopes over time.

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Fabrice Mathieu’s “In the shadow”, a shadow is telling its life story with his “Wearer”, a flesh and bone double, who one day it decides to get rid of…

This prequel is a research and editing work based on footage from more than sixty movies showing the most beautiful shadows in the cinema history, from “Nosferatu” to “Sin City”. The story is narrated from the shadow’s point of view.

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

Amazing Stories Has A New Editor-In-Chief

Lloyd Penney

Amazing Stories publisher Kermit Woodall has announced Lloyd Penney of Toronto, Ontario, Canada is the publication’s new Editior-in-Chief. Penney succeeds fellow Canadian Ira Nayman in this position and Steve Davidson who operated as temporary editor.

Penney has been in science fiction fandom for 45 years and has enjoyed 30-year careers in both fanzine writing and convention management. He is also an associate member of First Fandom. He’ll be working on the website, magazine, and their line of books.

Penney says, “I have been a proofreader and editor for most of my working life, with magazines, catalogs, and much more, but over the past four years, I have not only been the copy editor for Amazing Stories and Amazing Selects, but I have also worked with Scot Noel at Dreamforge Magazine, independent authors who need some fresh eyes for their novels, and also with a communications company in the east end of Toronto, working to edit their one paper magazine, and their two e-magazines.

“The editor-in-chief of Amazing Stories…this is a position I never would have dreamed of having, but now that I have it, I suspect the learning curve will be steep. Still, the best way to handle this curve is to start climbing it and see what is needed to tackle it. I will be reading as much as I can, relying on readers to look at the flood of submissions and choose what’s the best of that submitted, and also to make a few judgments on what will go on the website. I am sure I will make mistakes, and forget some vital things, but I am willing to learn. I hope to help produce a magazine that all readers of SF&F will enjoy and appreciate, and maybe make a little history along the way.”

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 6/11/22 In The Beginning There Was Nothing But Rocks. And Then Somebody Scrolled A Pixel

(1) THE FUR IS FLYING. Flayrah’s Tantroo McNally suspects the number of furry fandom’s Ursa Major awards voters who make a dispassionate assessment of quality is being overwhelmed by devoted fans of specific popular franchises and creators that campaign for the award. McNally regards this as a problem, therefore is in search of a solution: “Ursa’s Major Issue – Confident self-promotion vs humble passionate skill, and a voting system’s favoritism”.

Ursa, we may have a problem. Or at least so it may seem. Over the past few years the number of people voting in the furry fandom’s popular choice awards appears to be dwindling once again, despite continual growth and booming attendance at our conventions – COVID aside – revealing the growing audience and community beneath this stagnation.

But if less people in proportion are voting, is there a reason for this? One option may be that the system may be lead to some strange victors based on popularity of a franchise or personality rather than other considerations. But is this just a coincidence or could it be how the system was inadvertently crafted?

This article’s goal is to highlight why the current system is so sensitive to favoring artists who self-promote or whose fans rally on their behalf, at the expense of voters that weigh more toward judging the quality of the pieces nominated without authorship considerations. It will then propose a small change to make it more fair to both types of voters and creators, without stifling out those who show up with a passion for their artist.

Flayrah’s awards coverage post by GreenReaper (Laurence Parry) also criticized those in hot pursuit of awards: “’Shine’, ‘Awoo!’ take 2021 Ursa Major Awards by landslides; K. Garrison wins three”.

…Prior to voting’s close, anonymous commenters disparaged Nightstar’s promotional endeavours, which included visibility hacks such as posting comics as stories. But nobody could fault her for effort, with not only a nominations plug or two… or three, but numerous comic strips ‘desperately’ seeking readers’ votes. Likewise, Shine‘s artist Star sought nomination and invited fans to vote, as did Rocket’s builder Akela Taka. Of course, this approach was not always successful — but to some, even a nomination felt like a victory….

(2) OUSTED FROM THE MOUSE. Kenan Thompson was today’s guest on Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me and one of his questions was about how Harlan Ellison got fired from Disney. And Kenan blew the question, spectacularly! “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! — Kenan Thompson”.

Kenan Thompson, the longest-tenured cast member of Saturday Night Live, plays our game about people who only lasted one day on the job. He is joined by panelists Luke Burbank, Negin Farsad and Hari Kondabolu.

(3) SPOCK TO BE REMOVED FROM CANADIAN FIVE DOLLAR BILL. Well, technically he’s never been on it, however quite a few years ago, Lloyd Penney was the first person to show me how easy it is to turn the fellow on Canada’s $5 bill into a likeness of Spock.

Now the time is fast approaching when Wilfrid Laurier will be put out to pasture in favor of one of the shortlisted candidates for the next $5 bank note.

It won’t be William Shatner. He’s Canadian, but he fails the requirement of having been dead for 25 years – fortunately for us.

(4) UP ALL NIGHT. MSN.com sums up “Everything we know about Marvel’s Midnight Suns”.

…As of now, the reveal trailer is all that we have as far as footage for Marvel’s Midnight Suns, and while it has next to nothing in terms of gameplay, we can still learn a lot about what this game will be.

Marvel’s Midnight Suns will be a more supernatural-focused take on the superhero genre and is something like a more magical-focused version of the Avengers, although we obviously see some of the big names from that team here as well, including Iron Man, Dr. Strange, and Captain America. The plotline will be notably darker than other Marvel media, with the main antagonistic force being the spawn of the underworld. Hydra has awoken the Mother of Demons, Lilith, from her long slumber, and she has begun her own quest to summon an even greater evil known as Chthon.

The Avengers turn to the titular team known as the Midnight Suns, made up of heroes with their own supernatural talents, to combat this occult threat. Their first act is to bring out a secret weapon of their own, Lilith’s own child, known as the Hunter, who is the only one to have ever managed to defeat Lilith in the past. It looks, at least from the small bits we’ve seen, to be a fresh perspective for this franchise, and we’re excited to see if it can stick the landing….

(5) ATTENTION, PLEASE. Lisa Tuttle’s latest book recommendations came out in yesterday’s Guardian: “The best recent science fiction and fantasy – review roundup”. Reviews of Ordinary Monsters by JM Miro; In the Heart of Hidden Things by Kit Whitfield; The Sanctuary by Andrew Hunter Murray; The Splendid City by Karen Heuler; and Scattered All Over the Earth by Yoko Tawada.

(6) GUSHING. USA Today reviewer Kelly Lawler seriously, seriously loves For All Mankind, now starting season 3 on Apple TV+. “’For All Mankind’ review: Why Apple TV+ space drama is TV’s best show”.

It’s 1992, and the solar system’s first space hotel is about to open. A woman is running for president. The United States, the Soviet Union and a private corporation are in a three-way race to land astronauts on Mars. 

At least, that’s what’s happening in the 1992 of Apple TV+’s stunning “For All Mankind” (returning Friday, streaming weekly streaming Fridays; ★★★★ out of four) an alternate history drama that imagines the 1960s space race between the U.S. and the USSR never ended. Now in its third season, the series rockets to a Mars-centric version of the 1990s where the timeline is different but still feels a bit like the ’90s we know. 

“Mankind” is the rare series that’s exciting, emotional, tense, dramatic, heartbreaking, elating and infuriating all at once. Some TV shows are good, some are great, and still others remind me why I became a critic in the first place. And in the endless barrage of mediocre series pushed out weekly, “Mankind” stands out, a shining star (or moon or planet) among the replaceable rest….

(7) BEGIN HERE. The Best of Edward M. Lerner was released in May. “A physicist and computer engineer, Edward M. Lerner toiled in the vineyards of high tech for thirty years, as everything from engineer to senior vice president. Then, suitably intoxicated, he began writing full time.”

While you probably know Ed from his SF novels, including the InterstellarNet series and the epic Fleet of Worlds series with Larry Niven, Ed is also a prolific author of acclaimed short fiction. This collection showcases his finest and favorite shorter works.

Faced with the common question of which of his books should someone read first, he has carefully selected these stories to cover his wide range. Now he can answer, “This one!”

Alternate history. Parallel worlds. Future crime. Alien invasion. Alien castaways. Time travel. Quantum intelligence (just don’t call him artificial). A sort-of haunted robot. Deco punk. In this book, you’ll find these—and more—together with Ed’s reminiscences about each selection and its relationship to other stories, novels, and even series that span his writing career.

These are the best, as determined by awards, award nominations, and the selective tastes of eight top editors and choosy Analog readers.

Each excellent story stands alone—you won’t need to have read anything prior—but you’ll surely want to read more of Ed’s books afterwards.

Available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1993 [By Cat Eldridge.] Twenty-nine years ago on this day saw Spielberg taking on Nazis, errr, wrong film. No, this time it was Really Big Reptiles. Jurassic Park premiered launching the beginning of a very, very lucrative franchise. It would indeed be honored with a Hugo at ConAdian the next year suggesting that it a very popular film among y’all.

It’s based on a screenplay by Michael Crichton as co-written by David Koepp off his novel of the same name. It was produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Gerald R. Molen, both of which had long histories with Spielberg. The human cast was extended, so I’ll just single out Richard Attenborough, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Samuel L. Jackson, Sam Neill and BD Wong here.

Now about those Really Big Reptiles. They were created with a combination of imagery from Industrial Light & Magic and with life-sized animatronic dinosaurs built by Stan Winston’s team. Yes they were life-size! These were Really Big Reptiles. I thought they looked lifelike when I watched it in the theater and I know why they were! Scary looking bastards they were. 

Despite the impressive look of the film, it was actually cheap to produce costing around sixty million dollars. Crichton was smart as he only took a one point five million fee and instead got a guaranteed percentage of the gross, a gross which was over a billion in the end. 

Did the critics like it? Yes for the most part though I thought they rightfully note almost all of them that the human characters came off as, errr, lacking in being real. Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone said that it was a “colossal entertainment—the eye-popping, mind-bending, kick-out-the-jams thrill ride of summer and probably the year” and Roger Ebert in his Chicago Sun-Times review noted that though it’s a great SF film: “the movie is lacking other qualities that it needs even more, such as a sense of awe and wonderment, and strong human story values.” 

May I ask do we really need strong human characters when you’ve got Really Big Reptiles? I think not. 

It went to create quite a franchise. The Lost World: Jurassic Park was next followed by Jurassic Park IIIJurassic WorldJurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and A sixth film, Jurassic World Dominion, came out this month. Films four and five each grossed over a billion dollars with the other sequels doing well over a half billion. 

It currently holds a ninety-two rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 11, 1927 — Kit Pedler. In the Sixties, he became the unofficial scientific adviser to the Doctor Who production team. One of his creations was the Cybermen. He also wrote three scripts — “The Tenth Planet” (co-written with Gerry Davis), “The Moonbase” and “The Tomb of the Cybermen“.  Pedler and Davis went on to create and co-write the Doomwatch series. He wrote a number of genre novel including Mutant 59: The Plastic Eaters (co-written with Gerry Davis) and Doomwatch: The World in Danger. Another one who died much too young, by heart attack. (Died 1981.)
  • Born June 11, 1929 — Charles Beaumont. He is remembered as a writer of Twilight Zone episodes such as “Miniature”, “Person or Persons Unknown”, “Printer’s Devil” and “The Howling Man” but also wrote the screenplays for several films such as Burn, Witch, Burn which was nominated for a Hugo at Discon I (no Award was given that year), 7 Faces of Dr. Lao and The Masque of the Red Death. He also wrote a lot of short stories, so let’s see if there’s digital collections available. Yes, I’m pleased to say, including several by legit publishers. Yea! (Died 1967.)
  • Born June 11, 1933 — Gene Wilder. The first role I saw him play was The Waco Kid in Blazing Saddles. Of course he has more genre roles than that starting out with Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory followed by the already noted Blazing Saddles and then Dr. Frederick Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein which won a Hugo at the first AussieCon. He was Sigerson Holmes in The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, a brilliantly weird film whose cast also included Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Dom DeLuise, Roy Kinnear and Leo McKern!  I’ve also got him playing Lord Ravensbane/The Scarecrow in The Scarecrow, a 1972 TV film based based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, “Feathertop”. (Died 2016.)
  • Born June 11, 1945 — Adrienne Barbeau, 77. Swamp Thing with her is quite pulpy. She’s also in the Carnivale series, a very weird affair that never got wrapped up properly. She provided the voice of Catwoman on Batman: The Animated Series. And she was in both Creepshow and The Fog. Oh and ISFDB lists her as writing two novels, Vampyres of Hollywood (with Michael Scott) and presumably another vampire novel, Love Bites. Anyone here read these? 
  • Born June 11, 1959 — Hugh Laurie, 63. Best known as House to most folks whose series is streaming on Peacock right now and I really should rewatch it. His most recent genre role was as Mycroft Holmes in that wretched Holmes and Watson film. He’s had past genre roles in The Borrowers, the Stuart Little franchise, TomorrowlandBlackadder: Back & Forth and Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased)
  • Born June 11, 1968 — Justina Robson, 54. Author of the excellent Quantum Gravity series which I loved. I’ve not started her Natural History series but have not added it to my digital To Be Read list, so would be interested in hearing from anyone here who has. I was surprised that she hasn’t picked up any Hugo nominations so far, although her work has been up for other awards 18 times.
  • Born June 11, 1971 — P. Djèlí Clark, 51. I’m very much enjoying A Master of Djinn which made my Hugo nominations list this year. It follows his “The Haunting of Tram Car 015” novella and “The Angel of Khan el-Khalili” and “A Dead Djinn in Cairo”, short stories, all set in his Dead Djinn universe. I’ve not read his “Black Drums” novella which garnered a Hugo nomination at Dublin 2019, nor the “Ring Shout” novella which got a Hugo nomination at DisCon III, so I welcome opinions on them. And I see his “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” short story also got a 2019 Hugo nomination.  CoNZealand saw “The Haunting of Tram Car 015” pick up a nomination.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Crankshaft gets another superpet joke out of the setup we linked to the other day.

(11) STRETCH GOAL. “More ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’: Sony to Release Extended Cut In Theaters” reports Variety.

Are your spidey senses tingling?

Sony Pictures announced that “Spider-Man: No Way Home — The More Fun Stuff Version,” a cut of the December 2021 Marvel film with added and extended scenes, will hit theaters over Labor Day Weekend.

The news came Friday evening in celebration of 60 years of the Spider-Man comic book character and 20 years of Spider-Man films, along with a teaser featuring a clip from the movie where Tom Holland and previous “Spider-Man” actors Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield unite.

“This is so cool. We should do this again,” says Garfield’s Peter Parker.

“You got it,” Maguire’s Peter replies….

(12) PEDAL TO THE METAL. On the 40th anniversary of E.T., Henry Thomas chats with Ethan Alter of Yahoo! Entertainment on how he filmed that bicycle scene. “’E.T.’ at 40: Henry Thomas explains the movie magic behind the beloved film’s famous flying bike scene”.

It’s a scene that every child of the ’80s knows by heart: Riding through the California wilderness with his extra-terrestrial pal, E.T., riding shotgun — or, more accurately, riding shot-basket — young Elliott’s bicycle lifts off from the forest floor and ascends into the sky until the two are silhouetted against the full moon. That image didn’t just define Steven Spielberg’s 1982 blockbuster — it also became the signature logo for his production company, Amblin Entertainment, gracing hundreds of beloved films and TV series. While that scene defines movie magic for audiences in the theater, for the film’s young star, Henry Thomas, it was just another day on the job….

(13) FOZ DIDN’T DIG IT.  This title tells you what Foz Meadows thinks of the new movie: “I Saw Jurassic World: Dominion So That You Don’t Have To”. BEWARE SPOILERS.

Jurassic World: Dominion is not a good movie. Let’s get that out of the way up top. Given how terrible the first two Jurassic World movies were, I wasn’t expecting it to be, and yet I felt the need to see it anyway, just to make sure. Possibly this coloured my perception of it from the outset, but generally speaking, I’m not a person who purposefully sets out to hatewatch things, as I’d much rather be pleasantly surprised by an okayish film than proven right by a dud. I will, however, spitefinish an aggravating film in order to justify writing about it afterwards, and having sat through all 146 minutes of Dominion – unlike my mother, who walked out of our session and went home after the first five minutes because it was so goddamn loud – I feel the need to save others the time and money of doing likewise….

(14) IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL GET DRUNK. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] I do not want Shoeless Joe crushing the grapes for me. Especially after a full nine innings. “The baseball field in a wine vineyard” at MLB.com.

…It’s there because, well, a guy and his team needed a place to play baseball.

“The field was built in 2002,” Green said. “It was proposed by our vineyard operations manager, Manuel Vallejo, who’s worked for the Ballettos for more than 30 years. Manuel asked [founder] John [Balletto] if they could plow about four acres for a baseball field. He was playing in a community league and his team was having a really hard time finding places to practice.”

During that time, the Balletto family was in the middle of transitioning from a vegetable farm to a winery — so they were already razing old fields and planting new ones. John also thought it would be a good idea, a perk for employees and a fun addition to the property. So, the founder bought his baseball-loving employees the materials needed for construction and then Vallejo and his coworkers began building their vision. It took about a year to finish, and they proudly maintain it to this day. Vallejos’ team is fittingly called Los Uveros or, The Grapers, and they play other community teams on Sundays with practices a couple times per week. Their jerseys are also as cool as you’d imagine….

…”Yeah, all of the sections are marked. Left into center field, we’re growing Pinot Gris,” Green told me. “Right field is Chardonnay. Left field, like foul ground, is mostly Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and there is a little bit of Pinot Noir out there.”…

(15) NORWEGIAN WOOD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] If they do three Troll movies, will that be a Trollogy?

Deep inside the mountain of Dovre, something gigantic awakens after being trapped for a thousand years. Destroying everything in its path, the creature is fast approaching the capital of Norway. But how do you stop something you thought only existed in Norwegian folklore?

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, N., Bonnie McDaniel, Jennifer Hawthorne, John A Arkansawyer, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Janney.]

Lloyd Penney Lends a Hand

By John Hertz:  Trying to catch up with your fanzine reading, for Hugo Awards nomination or otherwise?

Lloyd Penney, who sees lots of fanzines and sends letters of comment widely, made a chart of fanzines he saw and locced (as we sometimes say) in 2018, and sent it to the 2019 administrator of the Fannish Activity Achievement (FAAn) Awards.  You can see it at p. 3 of this year’s Instructions, which you can find here (PDF).  Many fanzines he notes are available electronically.  The FAAn Awards are managed (if that word may be used) by the annual fanziners’ convention Corflu; the Instructions have various reference-jokes and like that.

By Ray Nelson

Worldcon Wayback Machine: Friday at MagiCon (1992) Day Two

INTRODUCTION: Twenty-five years ago today MagiCon began in Orlando, Florida. A great con, and I thought it would be fun to reprint the report I ran in File 770. Here is the second of five daily installments.

The Worldcon was held in the Orange County Convention and Civic Center, The Peabody Hotel, and The Clarion Hotel.

PROGRAMMING: Interview With Vincent Di Fate: Questioned about his career by Joe Siclari and Roger Reed, of Illustration House (a coordinator of the Di Fate retrospective displayed in the Art Show), MagiCon guest of honor Vincent Di Fate continued to dazzle listeners with his historical knowledge, critical perception and capacity for explaining technical art matter to everyday fans in understandable terms.

“It was not my intention to go into art,” insisted Di Fate. “It seemed like every artist I ever talked to was angry about something and I didn’t want to spend my life in the visual arts.”

Attracted by the set design of Rocket Ship X-M, the Disney style and the astronomical art of Chesley Bonestell, Di Fate brought to him profession a great deal of intuitive knowledge about the look of spacecraft and equipment.

Part of MagiCon’s bookmark set, with artwork by Vincent DiFate

Di Fate answered his interviewers so candidly that their open-ended questions about doing art drew responses too sophisticated for listeners to fully comprehend without the translations he supplied. For example: A generic question about his reputation as a hardware artist launched Di Fate on a cryptic commentary: “I have found no market for the exploration of the viscous properties of paint.” Said Di Fate, art directors want the images more sharp and hard-edged, adding dismissively, “but that’s what photographs are for.” He has faith the current standard will ultimately be abandoned. “The artist needs to provide an alternative. There needs to be some room left for viewer participation, imagining what those shapes mean.”

Answering another question, Di Fate observed that artists absorb a sense of how spaceships capable of flying in atmosphere must look from the way Cadillacs are shaped and the design of thousands of other familiar artifacts. Yet if the spaceship never needs to fly in atmosphere it can look like anything. One John Schoenherr black-and-white spaceship in Analog was based on a washing machine agitator; the artist created false details simply by varying his brushstrokes.

Like the stereotyped artist, DiFate has never done a painting that satisfies him. “When paintings leave the studio I utterly loathe and despise them, and loath and despise myself.”

John Young

Keynote Luncheon: The guests of honor and astronaut John Young were presented at a Friday luncheon. Young’s speech, which was repeatedly interrupted by applause, was all the more remarkable given some of the obstacles he overcame. According to Becky Thomson, Delta canceled Young’s Thursday night flight. Mere hours before his talk he reached Orlando as co-pilot of a military plane. Since NASA had not relayed Magicon’s correspondence to Young he didn’t even know he was appearing at a science fiction convention before talking to Thomson. On the ride from the airport Young pored over the Program Book and pocket program — often uttering things like, “Oh, I’ve read that!” Thomson concluded, “By the time he was done he knew more about last year’s Hugo nominees than I do!”

An inspired track of programming recreated panels from the first Worldcon in 1939 — and even fielded one of the original panelists, Sam Moskowitz. Hal Clement gave a contemporary version of “Seeing the Universe”, Vincent DiFate paid tribute to Frank R. Paul’s 1939 talk “SF: The Spirit of Youth,” and after 53 years such panels as “The Changing SF” (this time with Gardner Dozois and Beth Meacham) and “The Fan World of the Future” have become traditional fare.

Rudy Sigmund and Sam Moskowitz at an ERBdom event in 1990.

Sam Moskowitz delivered two talks at the 1939 con, one of them “The Fan World of the Future.” In concept, he was to deliver his original talk again, followed by a discussion between himself, Bruce Pelz, Wilma Meier and myself. By the time SaM got to the con he still hadn’t found his original text: perhaps it had even been extemporaneous. So he began with his own look back at the way fans lived 50 years ago, a series of recollections that enthralled everyone.

In 1939 many fans still didn’t have phones — including the four who organized the first Worldcon. But in those days if Moskowitz mailed a Special Delivery letter by 6 p.m., the other party would get it by 11 if he wasn’t more than 50 miles away, at a cost of 3 cents. Progress isn’t always progress.

Moskowitz’ own Fantasy Times in 1940 was the first offset fanzine. Early fanzines were often reproduced by hektograph: a process in which a typewriter’s impressions on a purple master were transferred to a bed of hekto jelly, and a careful fan could make about 60 readable copies by pressing down one sheet at a time.

Most early fans didn’t own automobiles or travel by plane, but a legendary trek to the 1941 Denvention involved both forms of transportation. Art Widner owned a 20-year-old car that broke down every 15 miles. He and six friends from Boston and New York contributed $10 each for the round trip to Denver. Moskowitz winked, “Needless to say, there was a bit of thievery along the way.” One of the riders, John Bell, became so disgusted with Denvention he made the first recorded fan plane trip — home.

Returning to the topic Moskowitz said they planned to hold a 1939 World’s Fair Convention. The fair had agreed to give them meeting space, and declare it jointly “Science Fiction/Boy Scout Day.” But the fair expected fans to pay admission: three days at 75 cents, $2.25, was out of the question so “fair” was dropped from the name of the event.

They also shortened it to a one-day con because none of the fans could afford a hotel room. Except Jack Williamson put himself up for $1 a night at Sloane House — sort of like a YMHA — an expense befitting his status as a successful author!

During the first Worldcon, fans took the opportunity to visit Coney Island where this foto-op took place: Front: Mark Reinsberg, Jack Agnew, Ross Rocklynne Top: V. Kidwell, Robert A. Madle, Erle Korshak, Ray Bradbury Coney Island, July 4, 1939)

A Talk With Walt Willis: Ted White conducted an interview with fan guest of honor, Walt Willis. It took a moment to pick up Walt’s lilting Irish accent in the room’s bad acoustics — but once anyone did he was likely to keep it! (Later in the weekend Art Widner explained the odd diction of his First Fandom award acceptance speech as the product of listening to James White for hours.)

The health and age of guests Vance and Willis contributed to each man’s decision to be interviewed rather than give a GoH speech. This was certainly a successful choice for Willis who sat surrounded by an audience of fanzine readers who were encyclopedically familiar with his work and offered questions more to express their appreciation than to learn anything new. For example, Moshe Feder recalled, “I embarrassed Walt at Tropicon by saying it was like meeting somebody out of the Bible.” Then Feder asked who Walt admired in fandom. Willis answered that he admired Charles Burbee for his versatility, and Bob Tucker for his faanfiction.

Ted White interviews Walt Willis. Photo by Carol Porter

THE JACK VANCE FESTIVAL OF ALL WORLDS: Answering a call for jugglers, mimes and “balloon zoologists”, fans instigated an indoor street fair Friday night in honor of GoH Jack Vance.

Martin Morse Wooster walked about in an orange and red balloon headdress looking like he’d survived a bungee jump into a vat of giant Life Savers. He called it his idea generator. “I go out and stand in the crowd and ideas come to me.” I agreed, “People passing by will shout them out at you!”

ALTERNATE AWARDS CEREMONY. Guy Gavriel Kay emceed a Friday event set aside for groups who wanted their award announced at a Worldcon. He said, “All these awards show the diversity and scope represented in the field of science fiction.”

Jerry Pournelle at MagiCon. Photo by Lenny Provenzano

The non-Hugo awards ceremony suffered a notorious glitch because Brad Lineaweaver sent Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle to the wrong building.  Together with Michael Flynn, they were to receive the Libertarian Futurist Society’s prize for Best Libertarian Novel of 1991: Fallen Angels. Making the mistake memorable for photographers, Niven and Pournelle later posed driving the award plaque through Lineaweaver’s skull at a 45-degree angle…

  • Electric SF Award (from ClariNet Communications): Geoffrey Landis, “A Walk in the Sun”
  • Prometheus Hall of Fame Award (from the Libertarian Futurist Society): Ira Levin, This Perfect Day
  • Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian SF Novel (from the Libertarian Futurist Society): Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Michael Flynn for Fallen Angels
  • Golden Duck Award for Best Children’s SF Book (from DucKon): Bruce Colville’s My Teacher Glows in the Dark
  • Golden Duck Award for Best Children’s SF Picture Book (from DucKon): Claire Ewart (illustrator), Time Train
  • Golden Duck Honorable Mention (from DucKon): Monica Hughes, Invitation to the Game
  • Seiun for Best Foreign Novel in Translation: Charles Sheffield, The McAndrew Chronicles
  • Seiun for Best Foreign Short Story or Novelette in Translation: John Varley, “Tango Charlie and Foxtrot Romeo”

Peabody Hotel. Photo by Carol Porter

PARTIES: The Peabody had been designated the ‘party hotel’ so that hosts would reserve their rooms in a central location. Lloyd and Yvonne Penney brought their 14-year-old niece Nicole with them to the con who discovered the heavy-metal group Metallica was staying on their floor at the Peabody when she met them in the lobby.

Over the weekend the Peabody boasted 10 to 20 open parties each night, plus the invitational receptions held by publishers. Crowds were rationed into the elevator cars a dozen at a time by monitors doing the second-most-thankless worldcon job (emcee of the meet-the-pros being first, of course…)

Counters at the “Slightly Higher In Canada” party said over 1000 fans came through in just one night. That made them better off than the Atlanta in ’95 bid party: I think when the thousand fans got there, they just stayed. Pressing through a solid wall of flesh to enter the party made me so claustrophobic I promptly shoved my way out again. According to Kurt Baty, Atlanta bidders kept a quiet VIP room in the rear of the suite and steered guests like Kelly Freas and Dave Kyle there to comfortable seats and the hospitality of a well-stocked bar.

New Orleans’ favorite son, Joey Grillot, visited the LA in ’96 party. Joey laughed about confusing the hell out of somebody at a party he’d just left when he told him, “I’m going to LA.” The other fan said, “But LA’s in California!” Joey said, “No, it’s up on the ninth floor.” His slower companion asked, “How’d they get it up there?” Joey smiled, “They got everybody out, then folded it up REAL SMALL.”

At another point Joey remembered John Guidry’s announcement to New Orleans fans they had won the 1988 bid. Guidry told them the rules required the committee to do certain things, like present the Hugos. “What’s that?” Joey asked, wondering if he’d heard right. Said Guidry, “That’s the science fiction award we give every year.” Joey was amazed. “John, how’re you gonna get 26 of those Hungarian automobiles in the grand ballroom of the Sheraton?”

CONTINUES: Worldcon Wayback Machine: Saturday at MagiCon (1992) Day Three

Lloyd Penney and the Regents

By John Hertz: Letters of Comment, it’s been said, are the lifeblood of fanzines; not only for any boost they give to the recipient’s self-esteem, but even more because fanzines are communication and at best communication goes both ways: fandom is participatory. We write “LoC” and “loc” which we pronounce without preference ell-oh-see or to rhyme with flock. Comedy, when successful, may cause LOL (short for LOLFFSC i.e. Laughing Out Loud, Falling on the Floor and Startling the Cat).

The other day while being shown the Great and Terrible Internet (“who are you, and why do you seek me?”) I came across a remark by Lloyd Penney, who said – quite rightly – we must loc, loc, loc the zines. Even Claire Brialey has urged this. Maybe it should be sung.

Bass
Loc loc loc, loc loc the zines.

Baritone joins
Loc loc loc, loc loc the zines.

Tenor over them
Oh, loc the zines.
Go make their scenes.
Oh, loc the zines.

All
Get out there loc’ing and a-lol’ing,
Flocking and a-feeling,
Loc the zines.

Try Doctor Who,
Try manga too,
Try Mary Sue,
But you know they’ll never do.
So loc the zines.

The title seemed better – the word appealed to me somehow – than troubling Hawthorne, California, by suggesting Penney, who practices what he preaches, was a son of the beach.

First Canadian “Faned Awards” Given

R. Graeme Cameron announced his selections for the first Canadian Fanzine Fanac Awards on October 2 at VCON 36:

  • Best Fan Artist: Taral Wayne.
  • Best Fan Writer: Garth Spencer.
  • Best Loc Hack: Lloyd Penney.
  • Best Fanzine: WARP, Cathy Palmer-Lister, Editor.
  • Life-Time Achievement: “The Unknown Faned” who published Canada’s first SF fanzine in early 1936 under the title The Canadian Science Fiction Fan. (Unknown because in his 1936 review of the zine Donald Wollheim neglected to mention the editor’s name!)

All winners will receive “The Faned” figure sculpted by Lawrence Prime, and a certificate designed by Taral Wayne.

Cameron knows his new award needs lots of publicity if it’s going to have a bright future:

These first awards are entirely by fiat, being my personal decision based on what I consider to be the most obvious choices, the CFF Awards being entirely a one-man show at this point.

I’m hoping this is so outrageously abnormal compared to the usual peer-determined, incestuous, in-fought, excessively emotionally violent fan activity (of any sort) we are all used to that vast amounts of publicity will be generated by fan reaction to the awards (and this sentence).

Got to seep into widespread fannish consciousness somehow!

Next year I will be taking peer input into account. After that? Maybe an actual vote (rigged or otherwise).

Since I currently publish five fanzines (and am about to launch a sixth) I withdrew my name from my own consideration to create an illusion of impartiality. My first impulse, to award myself all five Faneds, took at least an hour to argue myself out of… for this year anyway. I make no promises.

(And if the above paragraph doesn’t generate yet more publicity I’ll be greatly surprised. I’m discovering that ‘doing’ publicity can be fun!)

2010 JWC Memorial Award Finalists

Toronto-area fan Lloyd Penney sent me a link to Quill & Quire’s post about the John W. Campbell Memorial Award nominees that focuses on the four Canadian finalists — Margaret Atwood for The Year of the Flood (McClelland & Stewart), Cory Doctorow for Makers (Tor Books), Robert J. Sawyer for Wake (Viking Canada), and Robert Charles Wilson for Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America (Tor).

Scrolling down to the comments I found coast-to-coast complaints about Margaret Atwood’s presence on the list from people offended by denials that she writes sf, one quoting her 2009 line that “a book is only sf if it is set ‘somewhere in space, far, far away in a distant galaxy’”.

My own reaction went in a different direction: Does a Campbell memorial award signify anything today? How many of the nominated works would Campbell have wanted for Analog? And no doubt the feeling would have been mutual — How many of the writers would have offered their fiction to that renowned gatekeeper of the Golden Age?

The other authors on the shortlist are: Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl (Night Shade Books), Iain M. Banks, Transition (Orbit), Nancy Kress, Steal Across the Sky (Tor), Paul McAuley, Gardens of the Sun (Gollancz), China Mieville, The City & the City (Del Rey), Adam Roberts, Yellow Blue Tibia (Gollancz), Kim Stanley Robinson, Galileo’s Dream (Spectra), Bruce Sterling, The Caryatids (Del Rey).

The award will be presented during the Campbell Conference awards banquet at the University of Kansas on Friday, July 16.

For Fanzine Fans at Anticipation

Lloyd Penney has an update about the fanzine lounge at Anticipation. It is not in a dedicated room, but “is one part of a larger lounge area the convention is calling the Relax Area.” That’s close to the Art Show. It’s also supposed to be near a concession stand, a necessity because “any budget the fanzine lounge had went to its furnishings.” The area has free WiFi, though Lloyd still needs to determine if webcasting from the lounge is possible. He’d like to have a Ustream event, but no promises.

The hours for the lounge are:
Thursday          11am – 6pm
Fri, Sat, Sun     10am – 6pm
Monday            10am – 4pm

The deadline for submitting zines to the Worldcon apa, WOOF, will be Saturday (August 8) at 2 p.m.

Meanwhile, Cathy Palmer-Lister has scoped out the restaurant where fanzine editors will meet for lunch during Anticipation, on Saturday at 12:30. They’ll dine at the Fourquet Fourchette

a restaurant in the convention centre which serves really interesting food, such as bison, caribou, etc, at very reasonable prices. Unibroue is the beer, and I highly recommend it!

The lunch directly follows the faneds panel. Cathy adds, “The restaurant is usually closed at this hour on Saturday but opened for us, so we really need people to show up!”

Update 08/01/2009:: Note that the date and time of the lunch have been changed since this post — see Faneds Lunch Reset.