Pixel Scroll 10/15/23 I’m Still Big; It’s The Pixels That Got Small

(1) CHARTING THE DECLINE OF SFF MAGAZINES. Steve Davidson of Amazing Stories has shared a graph on Facebook showing decade-by-decade the number of sff magazine titles and issues since 1923. The numbers really drop off as they approach 2023, as you might guess. Now you can see it, too.

Steve followed up with a deep dive into the costs of producing a print magazine today, something both fascinating and sobering.   

(2) PREVIOUSLY UNSUSPECTED PRATCHETT. A Stroke of the Pen: The Lost Stories is a new collection of Terry Pratchett shorts. Where did they come from? Big Issue has the inside story: “Terry Pratchett: Remarkable way lost stories were found by fans”.

…Following the posthumous release of his final few novels, there could never again be a new Terry Pratchett book.

Until now.

A Stroke of the Pen: The Lost Stories, published this week, compiles short tales written by Pratchett for newspapers in the ’70s and early ’80s and not republished since. It’s not the first such collection – before he died, Pratchett himself approved several volumes of his early tales, originally published in the Bucks Free Press newspaper where he wrote children’s stories under the inherited nom-de-plume ‘Uncle Jim’. The Lost Stories are different, though – until last year, nobody knew they existed.

 “It always puzzled me why his inspiration for writing short stories dried up in the mid ’70s”, says Colin Smythe, Pratchett’s friend and publisher, who would become his literary agent when the Discworld novels found success in the ’80s. “It turns out it had not.”…

(3) REVIEW OF ‘THE LOST STORIES’. SF author Adam Roberts analyzed the collection for the Guardian: “A Stroke of the Pen by Terry Pratchett review – newly discovered early stories”.

…The best stories have sparks of originality that, the reader wishes, could have been kindled into greater length. The Fossil Beach starts from the premise that putting a fossilised seashell to your ear enables you to hear a prehistoric ocean, spinning a neat and funny little time-travel comedy from that notion. The collection’s final story, The Quest for the Keys, is the best as well as the longest. It opens in “Morpork” – not exactly the Discworld’s Ankh-Morpork, but a more thinly rendered “evil, ancient, foggy city” – where a disreputable wizard, Grubble the Utterly Untrustworthy, sends the none-too-bright warrior Kron on the titular quest. It rattles along, and is liable to remind the Pratchett fan of The Colour of Magic. But it only confirms what the collection as a whole says: that this is a writer on his way somewhere more interesting….

(4) COSTLY VANITY. Victoria Strauss warns “Vanity Radio and TV: Think Twice Before Paying for Interviews” at Writer Beware.

… What’s vanity radio/TV? In the “writer beware” context, it’s radio or television air time that you, the program guest, have to pay for. Such schemes have been around forever in various forms, aimed at experts and creatives of all kinds, from services that explicitly sell pay-to-play interviews, to show hosts that charge interview fees to defray the fees that they themselves have to pay their platforms.

The main selling point is the promise that your interview will be heard by a large and eager audience, giving wide exposure to you and your book (see the pitches screenshotted below).

In reality, though, vanity radio primarily means local AM/FM stations (not national radio), often in obscure time slots; or internet radio broadcasts and podcasts delivered via platforms like Blog Talk RadioSpreaker, and streaming services such as iHeart Radio. Internet radio listenership has steadily risen over the last decade and a half, but unless there are subscriber lists (as on YouTube, for instance), there’s usually no way to determine the audience for any given host or show–or to authenticate any listenership claims the show may make.

Ditto for vanity television: interviews may appear on local channels–again, often at times when viewership may be low–but are most often delivered via “sponsored content” internet stations such as The Spotlight Network, or proprietary online “channels” like Daily Spark TV, or “cable alternative” apps like TikiLIVE, which provide no reliable way of verifying audience.

Bottom line: lots of people may be tuning in…or no one at all. Which means that that the only benefit authors can be sure they’ll receive for their money is an audio or video clip they can post to their websites and social media accounts.

Whether that’s worth it when it costs $99 or $150 or $200 is debatable enough. But when the price tag is four figures?…

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

Crowdsourced spreadsheet of panel members

This Chinese-language online spreadsheet shows in red the members of panels/events, where those people or organizations have publicly posted about them.  The Weibo post announcing it indicates that it is open to submissions for the missing information – if anyone has info, if you post a comment here, it will be seen and added to that spreadsheet.  NB: the information may not be 100% correct due to late cancellations and the like.

CSFDB activities at the Worldcon

A weixin.qq.com post by the Chinese Science Fiction Database linked from the aforementioned Weibo post provides full details of their activities, including a panel whose members include Sanfeng (aka Feng Zhang) and Arthur Liu, both of whom have contributed posts or commented here at File 770.  The post states (via Google Translate):

Note: Translation and video recording will be provided for this event, and we will produce a Chinese and English subtitled version after the event.

I asked Arthur Liu, and he said those recordings and subtitles are something that the CSFDB team are providing off their own back.  It’s still unclear what exactly the con will be providing via official streams and the like.

34th Galaxy Awards shortlist

I’m not sure if this shortlist is new information, but it doesn’t look to have been previously covered on File 770.  Hugo Best Short Story finalists “On the Razor’s Edge” and “The White Cliff” both make an appearance, as do the western works Love, Death and Robots (an anthology of the adapted stories, I think), Ken Liu’s Good Hunting (I think this is a collection including the titular story), Stanislaw Lem’s The Star Diaries and a Roger Luckhurst non-fiction book.

The award ceremony is on Thursday 19th at the Sheraton across the lake from the Worldcon site.

Successful lottery applicants have been notified

My searches for relevant Xiaohongshu posts today were dominated by successful applicants to the lottery for the three ceremonies.  From this incredibly unscientific sample set, it seems like the Hugo ceremony was most popular, followed by the opening ceremony.  I only found one post showing attendance for the closing ceremony.

Another view of the Hugo rocket decoration

This Xiaohongshu post has a few images of the interior of the museum, including a wider angle view on the Hugo rocket that was in yesterday’s Scroll.  It doesn’t look that impressive at first glance, until you notice the tiny human figure under it…

Venue video

The Chengdu Worldcon committee has posted a video on Facebook with many interior views of the décor of the building where the con will be held.

(6) OVERSIGHT. Hugo Administrator Dave McCarty has arrived in Chengdu and on Facebook has shared photos of the view of the Chinese Science Fiction Museum from his hotel room window.

(7) WE HAVE LIFTOFF! And Chris Barkley took off for China this morning after sending us this photo message: “Well, it’s HAPPENING. Tell my fellow Filers that I will be safe and I’ll TRY to behave.” 

(8) ICONOCLASTS. Michael Cava tells Washington Post readers that “Art Spiegelman didn’t expect to become a book challenge warrior”. Much of the interview is in comics form – art and word balloons.

(9) SIMULTANEOUS TIMES.  Space Cowboy Books has launched Episode 68 of the Simultaneous Times podcast. Stories featured in this episode are:

  • “This is an Optimistic Science Fiction Story About the Future” by Marie Vibbert. Music by Fall Precauxions
  • “Space Radio” by Michael Butterworth. Music by Phog Masheeen
  • “Space Age Mermaid” by Tonya R. Moore. Music by Phog Masheeen.

And theme music by Dain Luscombe

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 15, 1911 James H. Schmitz. Writer of short fiction in a space opera setting, sold primarily to Galaxy Science Fiction and Astounding Science-Fiction. His “Lion Loose” was nominated for a Short Fiction Hugo at Chicon III, and The Witches of Karres was nominated for Best Novel at NyCon 3. Sources laud him for his intelligent female characters. His collections and novels are available at the usual suspects. (Died 1981.)
  • Born October 15, 1919 E.C. Tubb. A writer of at least one hundred forty novels and two hundred twenty short stories and novellas, he’s best remembered I think for the Dumarest Saga. His other long-running series was the Cap Kennedy stories. And his short story “Little Girl Lost” which was originally published in New Worlds magazine became a story on Night Gallery. He novelized a number of the Space: 1999 episodes. Somewhat surprisingly he’s never been nominated for or won any awards. (Died 2010.)
  • Born October 15, 1923 Italo Calvino. Writer and Journalist who was born in Cuba, but grew up in Italy. His works range widely across the literary spectrum, across realism, surrealism, and absurdism. As a genre writer he is best known for his “cosmicomics”, linked stories which explore fantastical speculations about subjects such as mathematics, evolution, and human perception. At the time of his death in 1985, he was the most-translated Italian author, and he was recognized with a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. (Died 1985.)
  • Born October 15, 1926 Ed McBain. Huh, I never knew he ventured beyond his mystery novels where he was best known for his 87th Precinct novels but he published approximately twenty-four genre stories and six SF novels between 1951 and 1971 under the names S. A. Lombino, Evan Hunter, Richard Marsten, D. A. Addams, and Ted Taine. ISFDB has a list and I can’t say I know any of them. Any of y’all read them? Some are distinctly pulpier in nature such as Find The Feathered Serpent. (Died 2005.)
  • Born October 15, 1935 Ray “Duggie” Fisher. Editor, Conrunner and Fan, who chaired the 1969 Worldcon in St. Louis, was on the committee for several other conventions, and was a founding member of the Poplar Bluff Science Fiction Club and the Ozark Science Fiction Association. His fanzine ODD was a finalist for a Best Fanzine Hugo. His contributions to fandom were, sadly, cut short by his death at age 52 due to complications of diabetes. (Died 1988) (JJ)
  • Born October 15, 1942 Lon Atkins. Editor, Conrunner, and Fan who chaired a DeepSouthCon and was editor of numerous fanzines and apazines, including eight years as co-editor of Rally! He was Fan Guest of Honor at a Westercon, and a recipient of Southern Fandom’s Rebel lifetime achievement award. He was also a ferocious Hearts player. (Died 2016.) (JJ)
  • Born October 15, 1954 Linnea Sinclair, 69. Merging romance, SF and paranormal into, well, damned if I know. She’s here solely because I’m really tickled by the use of her SJW credentials as Games of Command and the short story “Of Cats, Uh, Furzels and Kings” feature telepathic feline creatures called ‘Furzels’. Sinclair has stated that these are inspired by her two cats. 
  • Born October 15, 1968 Jack du Brul, 55. A writer of somewhat SF novels that EoSF says of “the Philip Mercer sequence featuring a geologist who – not entirely unlike Steven Spielberg’s similarly scholarly Indiana Jones – has physical gifts extending beyond the probable.” He also co-wrote, and continued after Clive Cusler passed on, The Oregon Files.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) LEARNEDLEAGUE: SFF ONE-DAY SPECIAL. [Item by David Goldfarb] The LearnedLeague is in its off-season, which as usual means single-topic one-day quizzes. There was one recently about the cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender. You can read its questions here.

(13) TRIBUTE TO B MOVIE MAKER. “Roger Corman at Beyond Fest: ‘I love making motion pictures’” in the Los Angeles Times.

Beyond Fest and the American Cinematheque saluted producer Roger Corman on [September 30] with a four-film marathon followed by a conversation with some of the directors who began their careers working for the now-legendary genre icon….

…“The vast majority of people can’t tell good from bad,” said [Amy Holden] Jones. “You get notes on cuts that don’t particularly make sense, to get reshoots that aren’t fixing what’s actually the problem. But mainly the executives can’t tell good from bad. And Roger knew it immediately.”

“I’ll never be working for anybody again who knows as much about movies as Roger did when I was starting out,” said Dante, who went on to make the “Gremlins” movies. “Unfortunately, the problem is that the more movies you make, and the more executives you meet, the more you realize that there are almost none who know as much about movies as you do. And so they are no help.

“In fact, they’re a hindrance and you spend a lot of time trying to please people who don’t know what they want,” added [Joe] Dante. “And if they did, they wouldn’t know how to express it anyway. So I think all of us feel that the best years of our creative lives were spent working for somebody who knew more than we did. And that was Roger.”

[Allan] Arkush pointed to Corman when he said, “The profound thing is, this is the only person to run a studio who knows how to make a movie.”…

(14) PARTY LIKE IT’S 1998. “Lost In Space Forever” – a skit with Jonathan Harris and Bill Mumy.

The end of this 1998 documentary features a short skit with Will, Dr. Smith and the Robot on the Jupiter 2.

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Gareth Jelley, Jennifer Hawthorne, David Goldfarb, Steven French, Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 10/14/23 The Bear That Shouted “Honey!” At The Heart Of The 100-Acre Woods

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

Setup for Worldcon

Here’s a photo gallery showing some of the décor created for the Worldcon inside the Chengdu Science Fiction Museum. More at the link: http://xhslink.com/0yicuv

(2) MORE BAD NEWS FROM INTERZONE. Interzone publisher and editor Gareth Jelley has elaborated on the magazine’s switch to a solely electronic format, which was announced to subscribers the other day.

…It has been a hard call to make, but due to a very significant drop in subscriber numbers over the last three years, and the volatility of the paper market, I have decided that Interzone will be switching to electronic publication — from Interzone #296 onwards, issues of the magazine will be released as ebooks and no print edition will be produced.

When I took Interzone over from Andy Cox, I was determined to get Interzone back onto a bimonthly schedule and I also wanted to keep Interzone going as a print publication. I believed this was possible, and I did everything I could, day in, day out, to keep the print incarnation of IZ alive. Many IZ readers and fans also went above and beyond when I asked for help getting #295 into print.

The reality now is that Interzone subscriber numbers have fallen too far, too quickly, and are not where they need to be to keep Interzone in print and simultaneously back onto a regular, bimonthly publication schedule; and for a zine like IZ, once it is a choice between print and frequency, it is a no-brainer. Anything else is unfair to contributors and frustrating for readers.

Interzone is still not completely out of the woods, financially. I have drained my resources getting Interzone #295 published and it will take a little time to get Interzone #296, in its new electronic form, ready for publication. I am hoping it will not be too long, maybe even before the end of the year. and I will let you know as soon as I can….

(3) NEW YORK REVIEW OF SCIENCE FICTION READINGS. Jane Fancher and C.J. Cherryh make their NYRSF Readings debut on Wednesday, October 18 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Defiance, their latest novel in the Foreigner series, is being released that week

NYRSF can be watched LIVE at https://.facebook.com/groups/NYRSF.Readings or at https://youtube.com/streams.

The host will be Nebula finalist Barbara Krasnoff.

(4) OFFICIAL BLOCH WEBSITE. [Item by Rich Lynch.] The Robert Bloch Official Website now features “Bloch’s Acceptance Speech”” from the 1975 First World Fantasy Convention.

…About two months ago in London at Coyle’s Bookshop, they gave one of their monthly luncheons. This one was in honor of a gentleman I don’t think you are aware of—a music hall performer named Arthur Askey. It was the occasion of his seventy-fifth birthday and the publication of his book. Arthur said something which I find strangely apropos at this moment. He looked around the table and said, “This luncheon is not a work of fiction, because everybody at this table is either living or dead.” I have much the same feeling.

This is of course formerly the Arkham Hilton, and probably Mr. Lovecraft did spend a night or two here. I know that last night the sounds I heard could have been the inspiration for “The Rats in the Walls.” I knew I was in the right place when I came here. I walked into the bar and I heard somebody ordering a gin and Miskatonic…

(5) LOVE OF TREK. [Item by Nancy Sauer.] NPR has a brief essay (and love letter) by someone who was deeply influenced by Star Trek.  Heartfelt and interesting. “How Star Trek helped me find my own way”.

… I honestly don’t remember a time when I didn’t love Star Trek. I do remember when I started to realize that this show, and my father who introduced me to it, built the foundation for my sense of social justice as an astrophysicist of color. The show helped me, and my father, find a place within our culture….

… What I really related to — the show that I anticipated each week and bawled when it ended — was Star Trek: The Next Generation. This was a sequel to the original series that aired in the ’60s, a show that Martin Luther King Jr. loved!

The Next Generation had the young LeVar Burton as the chief engineer Geordi La Forge. He was famous as the lead in the TV cultural phenomena Roots and would later make everyone smile with Reading Rainbow. This new version of Star Trek also had the Shakespearean-trained actor Patrick Stewart playing Captain Jean-Luc Picard, which was the antithesis of the original Captain James T. Kirk. This new crew was more interested in science and tackled issues related to race more head-on! The technical jargon I heard coming from Geordi and others on the ship fueled my love for science….

(6) GO EAST YOUNG MAN. David Gerrold and his son’s family have moved to Vermont. Details on Facebook.

(7) LITERARY HISTORY SITE NEEDS TO BE SAVED. “Reader, they lived there: campaign to save Brontës’ Bradford birthplace as it goes on sale” in the Guardian.

Around a million visitors a year beat a path to Haworth, the small West Yorkshire town nestling in the windy moors of the Worth Valley – mainly to see the home of the Brontë sisters.

The house that writers Charlotte, Anne and Emily shared with their father, church minister Patrick, and their wayward brother Branwell is a major tourist attraction. Visitors wander around the parsonage and surrounding cobbled streets to soak up the atmosphere of just how the Brontës lived two centuries ago.

But there is a site that is equally important to the story of perhaps Britain’s greatest literary family, around six miles or so away in the village of Thornton, on the western edge of the Bradford district: the birthplace of the three sisters.

The premises that takes up 72-74 Market Street has had various uses, from an apartment block to a cafe, but a campaign has been launched to turn it into an attraction that would complement Haworth’s enduring appeal.

It is estimated it will cost about £600,000 to buy the property, which is in a state of disrepair and neglect, and sympathetically renovate the Grade II* listed building into a tourist attraction comprising a cultural and educational centre, a cafe and holiday accommodation….

(8) PIPER LAURIE (1932-2023). Actress Piper Laurie, a three-time Oscar and nine-time Emmy nominee died October 14 at the age of 91. This excerpt from Variety’s obituary covers some of her major genre performances.

…Though she informally retired to raise a family for more than a decade, she returned to film and television in the mid-’70s and racked up an impressive roster of characterizations, including Oscar-nominated turns in “Carrie” and in “Children of a Lesser God,” in which she played Marlee Matlin’s icy mother. Laurie was truly chilling in “Carrie,” as the mother of the shy telekinetic girl of the title who has, in the words of Roger Ebert, “translated her own psychotic fear of sexuality into a twisted personal religion.”

Her performance as the plotting, power-hungry Catherine Martell in David Lynch’s landmark TV series “Twin Peaks” brought her two of her nine Emmy nominations. The actress won her only Emmy for her role in the powerful 1986 “Hallmark Hall of Fame” entry “Promises,” in which James Wood starred as a schizophrenic and James Garner as his brother, with Laurie’s character offering help to the pair.

She scored her last Emmy nomination in 1999 for a guest role on sitcom “Frasier” in which she played the mother of a radio psychologist played by Christine Baranski and clearly modeled after Dr. Laura Schlessinger….

(9) MARK GODDARD (1936-2023). Actor Mark Goddard, who gained fame as Maj. Don West on CBS’ Lost in Space series from 1965 to 1968, died October 10. He was 87. The New York Times obituary notes:

…Don was always the character most annoyed by Dr. Smith, and least sympathetic to him. He could be both hot-tempered and coldhearted, but he dutifully took a spacewalk, against his better judgment, to rescue Smith from the clutches of a seductive alien creature. If it had been up to him alone, he admitted, he would have let Dr. Smith drift through space for eternity.

Major West was a role Mr. Goddard had taken reluctantly, not being a fan of science fiction. In his 2008 memoir, “To Space and Back,” he referred to his space uniform, his wardrobe for the show, as “silver lamé pajamas and my pretty silver ski boots.”…

But he came back in a cameo role for the Lost in Space movie (1998).

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 14, 1927 Roger Moore. Bond in seven films 1973 to 1985, a long run indeed. And he played Simon Templar in The Saint for most of the Sixties, an amazing one hundred eighteen episodes. Let’s not forget that he was in the Curse of the Pink Panther as Chief Insp. Jacques Clouseau!  He even got to play Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes in New York. He wasn’t a bad Sherlock either. (Died 2017.)
  • Born October 14, 1946 Katy Manning, 77. She was Jo Grant, companion to the Third Doctor. She also appeared in that role with the Eleventh Doctor on the Sarah Jane Adventures in a two-part story entitled “Death of the Doctor”. She appears as herself in the The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
  • Born October 14, 1949 Crispin Burnham, 74. And then there are those who just disappear.  He was the founder, writer and publisher of Dark Messenger Reader / Eldritch Tales from 1975 to 1995 as the publisher Yith Press. He was also a prolific essayist from 1973 to 1995, his final essay being a reflection on the life and career of Robert Bloch. There’s nothing to show him active after 1998 when the final part of his “People of The Monolith” was published in Cthulhu Cultus #13. Then he vanishes without a trace. 
  • Born October 14, 1953 Greg Evigan, 70. TekWar, one of Shatner’s better ideas, starred him as Jake Cardigan. I really liked it. Yes, Shatner was in it. And the role he had actually worked fine for him. He also shows up in DeepStar Six as Kevin McBride, as Will South in the horror film Spectre aka The House of The Damned, as Marcus Cutter in Cerberus: The Guardian of Hell, and on the Alfred Hitchcock Presents as David Whitmore in “In the Driver’s Seat”. 
  • Born October 14, 1953 Richard Christian Matheson, 70. Son of the Richard Matheson that you’re thinking of. A very prolific horror writer, mostly of short stories, he’s also no slouch at script writing as he’s written for Amazing StoriesMasters of HorrorThe Powers of Matthew StarSplatterTales from the CryptKnight Rider (the original series) and The Incredible Hulk.
  • Born October 14, 1956 Arleen Sorkin. She served as the real-life inspiration and voice for Harley Quinn, co-created by her friend Paul Dini on Batman: The Animated Series. Harley was supposed to be a one-off in “Joker’s Wild” but she was so popular that they kept her in the series. The character would appear in the New Batman AdventuresStatic ShockJustice LeagueGotham Girls, and in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. She would die at 66 of pneumonia and complications from multiple sclerosis. (Died 2023.)
  • Born October 14, 1963 Lori Petty, 60. Rebecca Buck – “Tank Girl” in that film. She was also Dr. Lean Carli in Cryptic, and Dr. Sykes in Dead Awake. She had one-offs in The HungerTwilight ZoneStar Trek: Voyager, BrimstoneFreddy’s Nightmares and Alien Nation, and voiced quite well Livewire in the DCU animated shows. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) MARVEL’S VAMPIRIC CROSSOVER. At New York Comic Con 2023 Marvel revealed “’Blood Hunt,’ Marvel Comics’ Next Crossover Event”.

…Vampires have always walked amongst the shadows of the Marvel Universe, but in Spring 2024, the long night arrives and these bloodsucking terrors will endure the spotlight like never before. The main event series will be brought to life by an A-team of Marvel talent: current Avengers scribe Jed MacKay and acclaimed X-Men artists Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia. In classic Marvel fashion, BLOOD HUNT will also spill out into a host of tie-in issues in Marvel’s hottest current series and see the launch of all-new limited series, one-shots, and redefining status quos.

 Brimming with unsurmountable stakes, this startling saga will drag the world into darkness as your favorite heroes struggle to ward off the vampire race’s cursed crusade of terror! Fans will have to wait with bated breath for more story details and information. In the meantime, sink your teeth into a special BLOOD HUNT trailer and a viciously visceral promotional image by Leinil Francis Yu and Sunny Gho!

“We have vampires in our books all the time, there’s some bad blood there,” MacKay said. “What happens if the shoe was on the other foot? We’ve got the Avengers, Moon Knight’s Midnight Mission, Doctor Strange, Miles Morales, and of course, Blade, and there’s going to be more vampires you can shake a stick at.”…

(13) HEAR FROM MICHAEL CHABON. Listen to an installment of World Book Club where Michael Chabon discusses The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay ay BBC Sounds.

American writer Michael Chabon talks about his 2001 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. 

From Jewish mysticism to Houdini to the Golden Age of Comic Books and WWII, Chabon’s immersive novel deals with escape and transformation through the lives of two Jewish boys in New York. Josef Kavalier makes an impossible escape from Prague in 1939, leaving his whole family behind but convinced he’s going to find a way to get them out too. He arrives in New York to stay with his cousin Sammy Klayman, and together the boys cook up a superhero to rival Superman – both banking on their comic book creation, The Escapist, to transform their lives and those around them, which in part he does. Their first cover depicts The Escapist punching Hitler in the face, and they wage war on him in their pages, but the personal impact of WWII is painfully inevitable. 

The novel touches on the personal scars left by vast political upheaval, and the damaging constraints of being unable to love freely and live a true and authentic life. Chabon’s prose is perfectly crafted – sometimes lyrical, sometimes intensely witty, and occasionally painfully heartbreaking.

(14) BLOCK THAT CLICK! “BBC Will Block ChatGPT AI From Scraping Its Content” reports Deadline.

The BBC has blocked the artificial intelligence software behind ChatGPT from accessing or using its content.

The move aligns the BBC with Reuters, Getty Images and other content providers that have taken similar steps over copyright and privacy concerns. Artificial intelligence can repurpose content, creating new text, images and more from the data.

Rhodri Talfan Davies, director of nations at the BBC said the BBC was “taking steps to safeguard the interests of licence fee payers as this new technology evolves….

(15) DAVID MCCALLUM ANNIVERSARY. Did you know?

(16) ANOTHER ANNIVERSARY. “’The Halloween Tree’ at 30 – An Essential Celebration of the Holiday” is a BloodyDisgusting editorial.

…Halloween is the day that we face that chilling finality. Commune with it. Drape our world in its trappings. Halloween is the day that death becomes the tapestry of our joy. We accept it. We embrace it. Maybe we even learn from it. And few Halloween based books, movies, stories or otherwise capture this idea more absolutely than Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree. Perfectly in line with its multi-layered historical trappings, it’s a tale that went through several iterations on its journey to the hallowed halls of Halloween history and one that seemed destined to become the essential animated classic that it has in the three decades since its release.

Almost 30 years before The Halloween Tree (1993) first aired on ABC, Ray Bradbury sat down to watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown one October evening in 1966. Despite the acclaimed author’s excitement and unabashed love for all things Halloween, he stood up and kicked his television set as the special’s credits rolled. While he had hoped for the equivalent of Halloween’s Santa Claus in the Great Pumpkin, the promised deity never arrived, denying the holiday its mystical spirit and breaking the vow that its title professed….

(17) MELTING! Nature says someone has figured out “How to build Moon roads using focused beams of sunlight”. First, build a couple of 2m lenses:

…A beam of concentrated sunlight could be used to build paved roads on the Moon by melting lunar dust, according to proof-of-concept experiments involving lasers and a substance resembling Moon dust.

Such roads could be useful infrastructure for future lunar missions, say engineer Juan-Carlos Ginés-Palomares and his colleagues, because they could provide areas for spacecraft to land or move around without churning up fine dust that can damage on-board scientific instruments and other equipment.

The Moon will be an important jumping-off point should humans ever want to explore further reaches of the Solar System. But its low gravity means dust doesn’t settle. Paving the lunar surface by melting the regolith — loose rock and dust — could help to address this problem….

(18) NEVER TOO LATE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] With the Chengdu Worldcon coming up, arguably time to — if you haven’t already — check out Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem. Over on YouTube @Bookpilled  (part of the YouTube Science Fiction Alliance) recently did so. “This Book Has Sold 8 Million Copies – Is It Good?”.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/9/22 I Have Tasted The Pixels In The Scroll Of The Universe, And I Was Not Offended

(1) TRIPLE TIP. What he tells you three times is true: “Hand Holding” by Mark Lawrence.

This is a blog-post about hand holding. The previous sentence was hand-holding, since the title and the image below make it obvious what the blog-post is about. 

Fantasy stories can be complicated beasts. They’re potentially confusing even if we forget all the technicalities and twistiness of battles, wars, duels, mysteries, espionage, lies etc that might well bedevil other genres….

…And the question through all of this is how much hand-holding the author does. Does the writer put the pieces of the puzzle in front of the reader and assume they’ll put them together? Does the writer put the pieces together for them then repeat the answer for the reader three times in three different ways?

Before I was published I used to share short stories on the now vanished Yahoo Groups. During that time I developed through observation and experience, what I called The Rule of Three.

The Rule of Three: If you want 90% of your readership to take onboard an important fact then you need to repeat it three times in the text….

(2) IAFA’S NEW LEADER. Dr. Pawel Frelik is the next President of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts.

A two-term Division Head of the IAFA, Pawe? Frelik is Associate Professor and the Leader of Speculative Texts and Media Research Group at the American Studies Center, University of Warsaw, Poland. His teaching and research interests include science fiction, speculative visualities, and video games. He has published widely in these fields, serves on the boards of Science Fiction Studies (USA), Extrapolation (USA/UK), and Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds (UK), and is the co- editor of the New Dimensions in Science Fiction book series at the University of Wales Press. In 2013-2014, he was President of the Science Fiction Research Association, the first in the organization’s history from outside North America. In 2017, he was the first non-Anglophone recipient of the Thomas D. Clareson Award. Within IAFA, he has served as Science Fiction Division Head since 2017. Dr. Frelik will assume the presidency at the end of the 43rd ICFA in March.

(3) DISCUSS RING SHOUT. The Gunn Center for Science Fiction Virtual Book Club will meet February 25 and Director Giselle Anatol invites you to the meeting.

(4) WIDE LOAD. Reddit’s r/printSF raised the question, “Are sci-fi books much longer than they used to be? If so, any idea why?” John Scalzi contributed a detailed reply which begins:

Novel lengths in science fiction and fantasy are essentially dictated by methods of publication *and* distribution.

For example, during the “golden age” of science fiction, the main publishing action of SF/F was in the short fiction arena, with novels (many of which were “fix-ups” of previously published shorter work) largely printed as cheap paperbacks which were fitted into racks at drug stores, groceries and other such places. Because distributors (and publishers!) wanted to fit a larger number of books into each rack, novel lengths were commensurately shorter — 40,000 to 60,000 words on average….

(5) BACK TO THE FUTURAMA. “’Futurama’ Revived at Hulu”The Hollywood Reporter says they’ve lined up the creators and the cast.

Nearly 10 years after it signed off, Futurama has been revived for a 20-episode run on Hulu, the third platform for the animated comedy from creators Matt Groening and David X. Cohen.

The series that aired its first five seasons on Fox before being revived for three more at Comedy Central will return to production this month for a 2023 premiere. Following an extended deal-making period, original stars Billy West (Fry) and Katey Sagal (Leela) along with ensemble players who voiced multiple characters Tress MacNeille, Maurice LaMarche, Lauren Tom, Phil LaMarr and David Herman will all return. John DiMaggio, who provided the voice behind the wise-cracking robot with the “shiny metal ass” Bender, is finalizing a deal to return as well though a deal has not yet closed.

(6) SCIENCE PLUS. The National Book Foundation Science + Literature Program “identifies three books annually, steered by a committee of scientific and literary experts, to deepen readers’ understanding of science and technology with a focus on work that highlights the diversity of voices in scientific writing. The selected titles will act as a catalyst to create discourse, understanding, and engagement with science for communities across the country.” Authors will receive a $10,000 prize. The inaugural winners are:

(7) IMAGINARY PAPERS 9. The latest issue of Imaginary Papers, ASU’s quarterly newsletter on science fiction worldbuilding, futures thinking, and imagination, features an essay by science fiction and global futures scholar Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay on the oft-forgotten science fiction docudramas of the filmmaker George Haggerty, and CSI staffer Bob Beard on Richard Linklater’s 2006 PKD adaptation A Scanner Darkly and the dramas of self-presentation. There’s also a writeup of the “Speculating the Future” essay series from the Olaf Stapledon Centre for Speculative Futures. “Imaginary Papers, Issue 9”.

The Films of George Haggerty, Parts 1 and 2 (1975-1994)

What exactly counts as a “forgotten future”? One can google George Haggerty, the director, whose six docufiction films are presented in two anthology DVDs, released in 2017 by Screen Edge and MVDvisual. All six films—Hamburger Hamlet (1975), Mall Time (1988), Robotopia (1990), Home on Wheels (1992), LA Requiem (1993), and Cyberville (1994)—were produced by Mike Wallington, but searching that reveals little about the director or the films. It was the sleeve descriptions, which make Haggerty appear a maverick outsider figure, that first drew my attention to these anthologies. The films are unreservedly about the future, even as they operate at the interstices of the vanishing past and present. As a documentary producer and SF researcher, there is something disconcerting about finding a set of films that one is unable to locate easily in the developing history of the medium. (Drew Barrymore even appears in one of the films, but the title is absent from her IMDb profile.)…

(8) PEEK EXPERIENCE. Leonard Maltin says this was “Douglas Trumbull’s greatest visual effect” in “Remembering Douglas Trumbull” at Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy.

Sometime in the late 1980s my wife and I were invited to a warehouse-type building in Marina del Rey for a demonstration of Douglas Trumbull’s Showscan. A new film format from the man who was largely responsible for the incredible look of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and the modern era of visual effects? The same guy who directed Silent Running? Who could turn down an invitation like that? …

(9) MAKING TIME. GQ is convinced that “The Lazarus Project is your next sci-fi TV obsession” – at least for those in the UK who can access Sky.

Archie recruits him for the clandestine Lazarus Project: an organisation composed of people with the same vanishingly rare ability with which George finds himself stuck. They harness the time-bending power to prevent global catastrophes and apocalyptic scenarios (as a famous philosopher once said: “With great power, comes great…”) But when Sarah, the love of George’s life, is involved in a car accident, the ethics of such an extraordinary gift take centre stage — and what is George willing to sacrifice?

(10) TOM DUPREE (1949-2022). Writer, critic, and editor Tom Dupree died February 7. He was employed as the line editor for Star Wars novels with Bantam Spectra from 1992-1997. He was charged with handling the X-Wing series of novels. The character names “Dupas Thomree” (in Assault at Selonia and Showdown at Centerpoint by Roger MacBride Allen) and “Ree Duptom” (in Hard Merchandise by K.W. Jeter) are playful nods to him.

He had around a dozen published short stories. “With a Smile” (from Mob Magic, 1998) received an Honorable Mention in Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best.

He co-wrote John Maxwell’s critically acclaimed one-man show based on the life of William Faulkner (filmed in 2006).

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1966 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Fifty-six years ago this evening, the thrilling sight of Lost In Space’s “War Of The Robots” first happened. In one corner of this fight, we have Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet.   And in the other corner of the ring (metaphorically speaking), we have B-9 from Lost in Space

Aired as the twentieth episode of the first season, the story is that while returning from a fishing trip, Will and B-9 find a deactivated Robotoid. Against the wishes of B-9, Will proceeds to repair and restore the Robotoid which apparently becomes a humble servant of the Robinson family. Sure.

The best part of this episode is the slow motion rock ‘em, sock ‘em battle between the robots. And yes it’s a very, very silly battle indeed as you can see from the image below. 

Lost in Space is available to stream on Hulu and Netflix.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 9, 1928 Frank Frazetta. Artist whose illustrations showed up damn near everywhere from LP covers to book covers and posters. Among the covers he painted were Tarzan and the Lost EmpireConan the Adventurer (L. Sprague de Camp stories in that setting) and Tarzan at the Earth’s Core. He did overly muscular barbarians very well! Oh, and he also helped Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder on three stories of the bawdy parody strip Little Annie Fanny in Playboy. Just saying. In the early 1980s, Frazetta worked with Bakshi on the feature Fire and Ice. He provided the poster for it as he did for Mad Monster Party? and The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck, two other genre films. He was inducted into both Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame. (Died 2010.)
  • Born February 9, 1935 R. L. Fanthorpe, 87. He was a pulp writer for UK publisher Badger Books during the 1950s and 1960s during which he wrote under some sixty pen names. I think he wrote several hundred genre novels during that time but no two sources agree on just how many he wrote. Interestingly nothing is available by him digitally currently though his hard copy offerings would fill a wing of small rural library. He’d be perfect for the usual suspects I’d say.
  • Born February 9, 1936 Clive Walter Swift. His first genre appearance was as Snug in that version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1968). Several years thereafter he was Dr. Black in “A Warning to the Curious” (based on a ghost story by British writer M. R. James).Then he’s Ecto, whoever that character is, in Excalibur. He shows up next in the Sixth Doctor story, “The Revelation of a The Daleks” as Professor Jobel. (Died 2019.)
  • Born February 9, 1940 David Webb Peoples, 82. Screenwriter of Blade RunnerLadyhawkeLeviathan, and Twelve Monkeys which is not a full listing. He’s also been writing for the Twelve Monkeys series .
  • Born February 9, 1942 Marianna Hill, 80. Doctor Helen Noel in the excellent “Dagger of The Mind” episode of the original Trek. (This episode introduces the Vulcan mind meld.) She also had roles on Outer Limits (in the Eando Binder’s “I Robot“ story which predates Asimov’s story of that name), Batman (twice as Cleo Patrick), I-SpyThe Wild Wild WestMission: Impossible and Kung Fu (ok, the last one has to be least genre adjacent, isn’t it?). 
  • Born February 9, 1951 Justin Gustainis, 71. Author of two series so far, one being the Occult Crimes Unit Investigations series which he’s written three superb novels in so far, and the other being the Quincey Morris Supernatural Investigations series which has seven novels and which I’ve not read yet. Who’s read the latter series? 
  • Born February 9, 1956 Timothy Truman, 66. Writer and artist best remembered in my opinion for his work on Grimjack (with John Ostrander), Scout, and the reinvention of Jonah Hex with Joe R. Lansdale. His work with Ostrander is simply stellar and is collected in Grimjack Omnibus, volumes one and two. For the Hex work, I’d say Jonah Hex: Shadows West which collects their work together. He did do a lot of other work and I’m sure you’ll point out what I’ve now overlooked… 
  • Born February 9, 1981 Tom Hiddleston, 41. Loki in the Marvel film universe. And a more charming bastard of a god has never been conceptualised by screenwriters. Outside of the MCU, I see he shows up in Kong: Skull Island as Captain James Conrad and The Pirate Fairy as the voice of James Hook as well in a vampire film called Only Lovers Left Alive as Adam. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Close to Home illustrates a friend who doesn’t quite get it.
  • Tom Gauld free associates.

(14) VERBATIM. The Comics Journal has posted the “Transcript of the McMinn County Board of Education’s Removal of Maus”. It’s been extensively discussed here in comments, but may still be news for others.

On January 10, 2022, the McMinn County Board of Education in Tennessee voted unanimously to remove Art Spiegelman’s Maus from its eighth-grade language arts curriculum, citing its use of profanity and depictions of nudity. This public document represents the unedited minutes of that Board’s meeting, presented as a service to all impacted parties.

(15) DAY-OLD NEWS. Someone – probably Upstream Review’s Michael Gallagher in “A Whitewashed Tomb: SFWA’s Best Can’t Sell Books” – got what you get when you poke the bear.

(16) POKÉMON TIME TRIP. “Pokémon Legends: Arceus review: breathing new life into Pokémon” promises The Verge.

…Which is what makes Pokémon Legends: Arceus so refreshing: it’s genuinely surprising. It does this by shifting the timeline back to long before the modern games in the series, during a period when pokémon were still barely understood. Instead of a world where humans and pokémon live in harmony, and anyone can buy an electronic device full of information on hundreds of species, players are thrust into a wild, untamed region where people are just doing their best to survive while surrounded by largely unknown and seemingly dangerous creatures….

(17) NEGATORY, GOOD BUDDY. If you’re sensitive to robotic (and other violence), do not watch the trailer for the game Atomic Heart. No, no, no.

(18) LONG MEMORY. Beckett’s “History of the Obscene 1977 Topps Star Wars 207 C-3PO” includes the interesting note that unlike most collectibles that have to be withdrawn, it’s easier to find the original version of this trading card than the censored replacement edition.

“C-3PO (Anthony Daniels)” is about a mundane caption as you can get.

To those working on the set at Topps and the licensor, nothing seemed to stand out.

Once the cards were out there, it didn’t take long for people to notice that something definitely was.

(19) BLOWN AWAY. BBC News reports “SpaceX loses 40 satellites to geomagnetic storm a day after launch”.

SpaceX has lost dozens of satellites after they were hit by a geomagnetic storm a day after launch, causing them to fall from orbit and burn up.

Such solar “storms” are caused by powerful explosions on the sun’s surface, which spit out plasma and magnetic fields that can hit the Earth.

The company, owned by billionaire Elon Musk, said up to 40 of 49 satellites from last week’s launch were hit.

They had been due to join its Starlink satellite internet project.

Starlink is Mr Musk’s bid to provide high-speed internet using thousands of orbiting satellites….

(20) ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK. “Asteroid sharing Earth’s orbit discovered – could it help future space missions?” asks The Conversation.

Research has shown that the Earth trails an asteroid barely a kilometre across in its orbit about the Sun – only the second such body to have ever been spotted. It goes round the Sun on average two months ahead of the Earth, dancing around in front like an excited herald of our coming.

This object, known as 2020 XL?, was first spotted in December 2020 using Pan-STARRS telescopes on the summit of Haleakala on the Hawaiian island of Maui. But determination of its orbit required follow-up observations using the 4.1-metre SOAR (Southern Astrophysical Research) telescope in Chile….

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers:  Arcane:League of Legends,” the Screen Junkies find an animated series based on a video game that “taught your 13-year-old cousin all his favorite slurs” is actually pretty good.  The series features “cyberpunk, steampunk. skatepunk, and Punky Brewster” and is in a world where “magic is like science, and science is like Crossfit.”

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

Pixel Scroll 11/10/21 Pixel-Heroes Battle Pixel-Gorillas

(1) THE SIX-BODY PROBLEM. There’s a new trailer out for China company Tencent’s production of The Three-Body Problem, which is fueling comparisons with another adaptation forthcoming from Netflix. Will Netflix’ Benioff and Weiss, veterans of Game of Thrones, overlook Chinese cultural subtleties? Will China’s censors allow Tencent to address all of them? Variety begins with a gloss of the trailer: “Tencent’s First ‘Three-Body Problem’ Trailer Sparks Netflix Rivalry”:

…The new Tencent trailer opens with an exchange between two off-screen male voices.

“Have significant accidents ever happened to you in your life?” one asks. “No,” the other replies. “Then your life is a sort of accident,” the first continues. “But isn’t that the case for most people?” the second voice asks, and the first responds, to a backdrop of ominous music with deep foghorn-type blasts that would feel at home on the “Tenet” soundtrack: “Then most people’s lives are all accidents.”

In a final line, a woman’s voice says: “This is the end of humanity.”

Several companies have been trying to produce adaptations of Liu Cixin’s novel.

Tencent nabbed the rights to adapt the story into a TV series way back in 2008. Now, its version is entering a crowded playing field.

There are at least two other “Three-Body Problem” adaptations in the works in China, including a film backed by IP rights holder Yoozoo Group that may have fallen permanently to the wayside and an animated take from Gen Z- and anime-leaning platform Bilibili.

Netflix struck its own deal with Yoozoo to create an English-language adaptation, announcing the project last September. The American version is being co-created by “Game of Thrones” big shots David Benioff and Dan Weiss alongside Alexander Woo (“True Blood”), and will be directed by Hong Kong’s Derek Tsang (“Better Days”).

Chinese social media is pressuring Tencent to do a good job:

“‘Three-Body’ is a story full of Chinese elements told by we Chinese from our Chinese perspective and ways of thinking …to express Chinese people’s values, worldview and view of the universe. These things are very hard for foreigners to express — only we are able to do it,” wrote one popular comment in response to Tencent’s Weibo recent post about the new trailer.

It was outranked by the top comment, liked 27,000 times. It read: “Buck up — you better not lose to Netflix’s nonsense version.”

While nationalist users maintained that only a Chinese production could capture the essence of the story, the novel is set during the Cultural Revolution, which could pose a problem for censors in a Chinese retelling.

Incidentally, here is the trailer Bilibili released in 2019 for its anime adaptation of The Three-Body Problem.

(2) CHIP IN. M.C.A. Hogarth is closing in on the $10K stretch goal of a Kickstarter launched to fund a collection of MilSF short stories set in her Peltedverse: To Discover and Preserve by M.C.A. Hogarth. Two days left – you might want to get in on this.

Alysha Forrest, my oldest Peltedverse character, needs some love, aletsen. Not only does she need some, she deserves it. Though fewer in number than the books comprising the Eldritch canon, the Stardancer/light milsf books of the Peltedverse sell well and without nearly the advertising the Eldritch canon has. I have a bunch of short stories that belong to this side of the timeline, but they’re all Patreon extras or newsletter gifts… and I get questions about where new readers can find them all the time! That means it’s time to collect them for retail. And while I have five stories (enough to credibly issue a single volume), they’re pretty short and could use some friends. 

Hogarth has given fans this incentive to push the Kickstarter past $10K:

…if we do, rather than continuing to pad the collection indefinitely, I will promise to finish writing the latest Alysha novel. This is the only way to guarantee you see it within the next year, since it’s otherwise indefinitely backburnered…. 

(3) CLI-FI. The Arizona State University Center for Science and the Imagination today premiered a prerecorded video event, “Cli-Mates: Climate Futures Conversations from Scotland,” in collaboration with the Scottish SF magazine Shoreline of Infinity. The event features the SF authors Kim Stanley Robinson, Ken MacLeod, Xia Jia, Libia Brenda, Gabriela Damián Miravete, Tendai Huchu, and Hannah Onoguwe, along with several scholars and editors.

During the UN Climate Change Conference, or COP26 (1-12 November, 2021), the eyes of the world are on Glasgow, Scotland, where nations, civil-society groups and activists are meeting to determine the shape of global action in the face of the climate crisis. At this moment, perhaps more than any other, we need creatively expansive thinking about possible futures—stories that help us chart a path towards a just, equitable, sustainable global civilization.

(4) FOUNDATION FX. Apple TV+ shows how it’s done in Foundation — Bringing Visions To Life Featurette”.

From the start, the world’s most dedicated visual effects artists and costume designers established that Foundation would be a show unlike any other on TV.

(5) ONE-TIME OPPORTUNITY. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] I came across this interesting-sounding item on Twitter: On November 18, the Smithsonian Archives department presents Yesterday’s Tomorrows: Visions of the Future on Film, a 1984 film that was part of a NMAH exhibit on “how past visions of the future continue to impact our present and inspire even further futures”, plus commentary from current conservator William Bennett. This is part of the Smithsonian 175th Film Fest, presenting films from the Smithsonian archives.

Due to copyright restrictions, viewers will need to register for a Zoom webinar; the presentation won’t be streamed or saved on YouTube.

(6) FROM AREA 57. “Heinz Debuts ‘Marz Edition’ Ketchup Made With Tomatoes Grown in Mars-Like Conditions” reports Smithsonian Magazine.

On Monday, Heinz revealed its first bottle of “Marz Edition” ketchup, a special recipe made with tomatoes grown in extreme temperature and soil conditions similar to the Red Planet. The team of scientists behind the celestial sauce, which is the product of two years of research and development, says the delicious achievement also advances the possibility of long-term food production on Mars.

“We’re so excited that our team of experts have been able to grow tomatoes in conditions found on another planet and share our creation with the world,” Cristina Kenz of Kraft Heinz said in a statement. “From analyzing the soil from Martian conditions two years ago to harvesting now, it’s been a journey that’s proved wherever we end up, Heinz Tomato Ketchup will still be enjoyed for generations to come.”…

Also note that The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night included a “cold open” of Hunt’s trying to one-up Heinz with Uranus catsup—“The best tasting thing to come out of Uranus.” 

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1966 — Fifty-five years on NBC, Star Trek’s “The Corbomite Maneuver” first aired. It was the tenth episode of the first season, and it was written by Jerry Sohl who had previously written for Alfred Hitchcock PresentsThe Outer Limits, The Invaders, and The Twilight Zone. (His other Trek scripts were “Whom Gods Destroy” and “This Side of Paradise”.) It was the first episode that was filmed in which Kelley played Dr. Leonard McCoy, Nichols played Lt. Uhura and Whitney played Yeoman Rand, though we first saw them in “The Man Trap”.  Clint Howard, brother of Ron Howard, played Balok, and Ted Cassidy, who was Gorn in “Arena” and the android Ruk in “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”, voiced the Balok puppet here. So did critics like it? No idea as I can’t find any contemporary reviews of it though media critics now love it. Most put it in their top twenty of all the Trek series episodes. It was nominated for a Hugo at NyCon 3, the year that “The Menagerie” won. “The Naked Time” was also nominated that year. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 10, 1924 Russell Johnson. Best known in what is surely genre for being Professor Roy Hinkley in Gilligan’s Island. His genre career started off with four Fifties films, It Came from Outer Space, This Island Earth, Attack of the Crab Monsters and The Space Children. He would later appear in both the Twilight Zone and Outer Limits. On ALF, he would appear as Professor Roy Hinkley in “Somewhere Over the Rerun”.  (Died 2014.)
  • Born November 10, 1932 Roy Scheider. First genre role was as Dr. Heywood R. Floyd in 2010, the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey. His other major genre performance was as Captain Nathan Bridger in the SeaQuest DSV series. He also has roles in The Curse of the Living Corpse (his first acting role, a very low budget horror film), one of The Punisher films, Dracula III: Legacy and Naked Lunch which may or may not be genre.  I do not consider the Jaws films to be genre, but you may do so. (Died 2008.)
  • Born November 10, 1943 Milt Stevens. Today is indeed his Birthday. On the day that OGH announced his unexpected passing did a wonderful post and y’all did splendid commentary about him, so I’ll just send you over there. (Died 2017.)
  • Born November 10, 1950 Dean Wesley Smith, 71. Editor of Pulphouse magazine which fortunately Black Gate magazine has provided us with a fascinating history which you can read herePulphouse I first encountered when I collected the works of Charles de Lint who was in issue number eight way back in the summer issue of 1990. As a writer, he is known for his use of licensed properties such as StarTrekSmallvilleAliensMen in Black, and Quantum Leap. He is also known for a number of his original novels, such as the Tenth Planet series written in collaboration with his wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch. 
  • Born November 10, 1955 Roland Emmerich, 66. Usually I don’t touch upon SJW affairs here (well I do when I want to) but he’s very strong campaigner for the LGBT community, and is openly gay so bravo for him!  Now back to his genre credits.  The Noah’s Ark Principle was in ‘84 by him written and directed by him as his thesis after seeing Star Wars at the Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film MünchenMoon 44 followed which likely most of you haven’t seen but now we get to his Hollywood films, to wit Universal SoldierThe High Crusade (yes, the Poul Anderson novel — who’s seen it?), StargateIndependence Day… no, I’m going to stop there. Suffice it to say he’s created a lot of genre film. And oh, he directed Stonewall, the 2015 look at that historic event which I know isn’t genre or genre adjacent but is worth noting. 
  • Born November 10, 1960 Neil Gaiman, 61. Where to start? By far, Neverwhere is my favorite work by him followed by the Sandman series and Stardust. And I sort of liked American GodsCoraline is just creepy. By far, I think his best script is Babylon 5’s “Day of The Dead” though his Doctor Who episodes, “The Doctor’s Wife” and “Nightmare in Silver” are interesting, particularly the former. 
  • Born November 10, 1971 Holly Black, 50. Best known for her Spiderwick Chronicles, which were created with fellow writer and illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi, and for the Modern Faerie Tales YA trilogy.  Her first novel was Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale. (It’s very, very good.) There have been two sequels set in the same universe. The first, Valiant, won the first Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.  Doll Bones which is really, really creepy was awarded a Newbery Honor and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award.  Suffice it to say if you like horror, you’ll love her. 
  • Born November 10, 1982 Aliette de Bodard, 39. Author of the oh-so-excellent Xuya Universe series. Her Xuya Universe novella “The Tea Master and the Detective” won a Nebula Award and a British Fantasy Award, and was nominated for the Hugo and World Fantasy Award. “The Shipmaker”, also set herein, won a BSFA Award for Best Short Fiction. Her other major series is The Dominion of the Fallen which is equally lauded. She’s nominated for a Hugo this year for her “The Inaccessibility of Heaven” novelette. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) TAKE THE CASH AND THE CREDIT, TOO. [Item by David Doering.] I caught a reference on Cracked about writer credits and comics. A fan asserted that comic writers only starting get credit regularly thanks to Marv Wolfman. I thought, hmmm… Really?

What do you know? It’s true. The Comics Code Authority in the 60s banned mention of “wolfman” in comics, BUT  “In DC Comics’ House of Secrets #83, the book’s host said that the story was told to him by ‘a wandering wolfman.’” Comically [pun intended], DC then credited the story to “Marv Wolfman”, making the reference OK by the CCA. 

After that, writers asking and getting credit for their stories. See full details and scans of the comics at CBR.com: “Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #119”.

(11) FALSE GRIT. Joel Haver assures us “You’ll never find a more sandy planet of sand.” So this is a Dune parody, you assume? Hell no, it’s a Star Wars parody – go figure.

(12) TAKING THE MICK OUT. “Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind Blueprints Leaked Online” – and Blog Mickey has a bucket full of what leaked.

A set of blueprints reportedly belonging to the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction have leaked online. The attraction, which has been under construction for more than 4 years, will open sometime in 2022 at EPCOT. The blueprints pull the curtain back a bit on a project that Disney has only slowly revealed information about. It’s unclear how accurate the blueprints are to the final product, but lets take a look….

…As we saw in early construction photos, roller coaster track weaves throughout the building, but the blueprints show just how much track is inside.

It’s unclear how much of the roller coaster track is for the actual attraction, and how much is for the storage, but the majority of the attraction will take place in the large gravity building that was built from scratch for this attraction….

(13) THE GALACTIC HERO BILL. John Scalzi revealed his true net worth today. Don’t you agree that “Billions and billions” is a phrase that suits an sf writer very well?

(14) SHOW NO MERCY. James Davis Nicoll’s latest Young People Read Old SFF introduces the panel to Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1971 “Vaster Than Empires and More Slow.”

“Vaster” takes place in Le Guin’s Hainish setting, where for the most part other worlds are inhabited by variant humans seeded in the ancient past by the Hainish. “Vaster” is an exception: first contact here is not between two branches of humanity but between humans and something very alien. Let’s see what the Young People make of it! 

Sort of like a Beat Bobby Flay episode, the young judges record a split decision.

(15) LOST IN SPACE TRAILER. Official trailer for the third and final season of Lost in Space. All episodes drop December 1 on Netflix.

(16) UNHOBBLING THE HUBBLE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] This latest problem started 23 October. NASA seems cautiously optimistic that the Hubble can make a full recovery. WIRED has the story: “NASA Tries to Save Hubble, Again”.

THE HUBBLE SPACE telescope, one of the most famous telescopes of the 20th and 21st centuries, has faltered once again. After a computer hardware problem arose in late October, NASA engineers put Hubble into a coma, suspending its science operations as they carefully attempt to bring its systems back online.

Engineers managed to revive one of its instruments earlier this week, offering hope that they will end the telescope’s convalescence as they restart its other systems, one at a time. “I think we are on a path to recovery,” says Jim Jeletic, Hubble’s deputy project manager.

The problem began on October 23, when the school bus-sized space probe’s instruments didn’t receive a standard synchronization message generated by its control unit. Two days later, NASA engineers saw that the instruments missed multiple such messages, so they put them in “safe mode,” powering down some systems and shuttering the cameras.

Some problems are fairly easy to fix, like when a random high-energy particle hits the probe and flips a bit on a switch. But when engineers encounter an unknown problem, they’re meticulous. The slow process is designed to protect Hubble’s systems and make sure the spacecraft continues to thrive and enable scientific discovery for as long as possible. “You don’t want to continually put the instruments in and out of safe mode. You’re powering things on and off, you’re changing the temperature of things over and over again, and we try to minimize that,” Jeletic says.

In this case, they successfully brought the Advanced Camera for Surveys back online on November 7. It’s one of the newer cameras, installed in 2002, and it’s designed for imaging large areas of the sky at once and in great detail. Now they’re watching closely as it collects data again this week, checking to see whether the error returns. If the camera continues working smoothly, the engineers will proceed to testing Hubble’s other instruments….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Eternals Pitch Meeting” on Screen Rant, Ryan George, in a spoiler-filled episode, has the writer say he has characters including “a speedster, a lady with ancient weapons, and a super-strong guy who shoots beams from his eyes.” The producer asks, “Yeah, yeah, and Batman and Aquaman. Are you sure you’re in the right office?”  The writer also can’t explain why introducing 10 superheroes we’ve never seen before can’t be done in an eight-hour Disney Plus show instead of a single movie.

After Avengers Endgame, Marvel has the massive task of not only continuing their surviving heroes’ stories, but also making audiences care about all new characters and all-new universe-threatening events. Their latest movie Eternals takes on the gargantuan challenge of introducing ten new superheroes AND explaining why they’re only showing up now. This thing’s getting complicated. Eternals definitely raises some questions. Like should this have been a Disney Plus show? Why do the Eternals only have important conversations at Golden Hour? Why is introducing humans to weapons not considered interfering in their affairs? Wouldn’t the Celestials be interested in stopping Thanos if they need a massive population to birth celestials? Why didn’t Kumail have a shirtless scene after all that work!? What have these post-credit scenes become?! To answer all these questions and more, step inside the Pitch Meeting that led to Eternals! It’ll be super easy, barely an inconvenience.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, N., Chris Barkley, Lise Andreasen, David Doering, Joey Eschrich, Bruce D. Arthurs, M.C. Hogarth, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge  for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

Pixel Scroll 11/5/21 If You Wish To Scroll, Turn To Page 18. If You Wish To Pixel, Turn To Page 45

(1) IMAGINARY WORLD INSIDE A GAME. [Item by Soon Lee.]  Ursula Vernon’s been playing Townscaper, an open-ended game/thingy where you build towns on water, and has taken to it so much that, well, would you just look at this gorgeous fan comic that’s come out of Ursula’s wonderful creativity? Thread starts here.

(2) LOCAL STAR. Transforming Edmonton’s series “The Writers’ Block” begins with “Chapter 1: Scientist and rising Edmonton author Premee Mohamed explores dichotomies”.

…Edmonton is a frequent backdrop in Mohamed’s science fiction, which often deals with calamities—whether caused by ancient monsters or climate disasters. 

 “I don’t think it’s realistic to write anything set in the future on Earth and NOT mention climate change,” says the Clareview resident.

Mohamed used to take classes in “BioSci”—she’s a scientist with degrees in molecular genetics and environmental science. She currently works for the Alberta government, devising guidelines for the clean-up of industrial activities such as factories, oil and gas wells, gravel pits and fertilizer plants. 

Science was an early passion for Mohamed. While many four-year-olds are obsessed with cars or dolls, she was fascinated with microbes—tiny organisms that you can’t see without a microscope, let alone dress up or play with in a sandbox…. 

(3) DIAGRAM PRIZE SHORTLIST. The Guardian calls “Is Superman Circumcised? favourite to win Oddest book title of the year”.

An examination of the Jewish origins of the Man of Steel, Is Superman Circumcised?, is vying with an up-to-date look at camel milk and related camel goods, Handbook of Research on Health and Environmental Benefits of Camel Products, for the dubious honour of the oddest book title of the year….

These six books are in the running for the 43rd Diagram Prize, nominated by members of the book trade:

  • Curves for the Mathematically Curious
  • Handbook of Research on Health and Environmental Benefits of Camel Products
  • Hats: A Very Unnatural History
  • Is Superman Circumcised?
  • The Life Cycle of Russian Things: From Fish Guts to Fabergé
  • Miss, I Don’t Give a Shit: Engaging with Challenging Behaviour in Schools

(4) ETERNALS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the November 2 Financial Times behind a paywall, Danny Leigh interviews Kumail Nanjiani about his role in Eternals.

Nanjiani begins at a pitch of red-carpet enthusiasm.  ‘Honestly,’ he says, ‘it’s easy to talk about the movie because I’m so excited.  I genuinely, genuinely love it.’  He says he is a life-long fan of comic books and Marvel films  His character, Kimgo, is a Bollywood leading man who is also an immortal superhero.  An action figure is available.  At home in Los Angeles, Nanjiani says, he has shelves already filled with models of Batman, Hellboy, and more  His own tiny likeness now stands among them.. ‘They minimised my eyebrows to be sensitive to my feelings, but I’m like, ‘No!  Use more black paint!’…

…’What helped’ him make Eternals ‘was a lifetime watching superheroes.’  But other influences are in play, too.  We meet Kingo in the vivid middle of a Bollywood dance number.  Growing up in Karachi, Nanjiani saw as much Bollywood as Hollywood.  Getting the details and spirit right in Eternals mattered to him.  ‘American audiences might see a Bollywood movie as ironic.  But it’s hyper sincere. That’s the beauty of it.’

Then, in the Washington Post, Ann Hornaday interviews director Chloe Zhao about Eternals and the continuity Zhao sees between her Marvel project and Nomadland. “Chloe Zhao’s ‘Eternals’ is a Marvel movie made her own way”.

… Zhao’s fans will surely recognize some of her signatures in “Eternals,” including a hat-tip to South Dakota, where she filmed her first two films, as well as portions of “Nomadland.” (The state is played by England in “Eternals,” with the help of some subtle visual effects.) Zhao insisted on practical locations when at all possible, giving “Eternals” a more organic, natural feel than most Marvel movies. When she pitched Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige on her concept for the film, she referred to the poem “Auguries of Innocence,” by William Blake.

“?‘To see a World in a Grain of Sand/And Heaven in a Wild Flower/Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand/and Eternity in an hour.’ .?.?. I think of that with ‘Nomadland’ quite a bit,” Zhao said. “And that’s Fern’s journey, in a way — going into nature and a community to be part of something bigger, and therefore heal from that process. With ‘Eternals’ it’s very much a bigger call to that — to humanity, in a way, understanding our place in the universe, our relationship with our planet, and therefore with ourselves. These are the bigger themes Jack Kirby had explored in his comics, and we were fortunate enough to [explore] in this film.”…

The New York Times gives the film a positive review: “‘Eternals’ Review: When Super Franchises Walk the Earth!”

Throughout “Eternals,” the latest — though certainly not the last! — from Marvel Studios, you can see the director Chloé Zhao fighting to cut this industrial-strength spectacle down to human size. Her efforts are mostly evident in the sincerity of the performances, and in the heartfelt moments that punctuate the movie, creating pinpricks of warming light. But it’s a titanic struggle. And as Zhao keeps lubricating the machinery with feeling and tears, her efforts seem to mirror the battle that her likable superheroes are waging against a force seeking to thoroughly control their destinies….

(5) STRANGER THINGS POP UPS. New York and Los Angeles will be the sites of two temporary pop-ups, the Stranger Things: The Official Store. They open tomorrow, for a limited time. It’s a 30-minute experience. Reservations available at the link.

…Embark on an interactive journey filled with photo moments and fun easter eggs, as you explore Hawkins and settings like Joyce’s House, Palace Arcade and Starcourt Mall. You will be able to interact with friends and foes from Hawkins. Get up close to the Russian Guards, hang out with Scoops Ahoy employees, and much more!

(6) LOST BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. Angela Cartwright and Bill Mumy (Penny and Will Robinson from the original Lost in Space) have issued a revised version of their book about the show: “Lost (and Found) in Space 2: Blast Off into the Expanded Edition”.  

And Heritage Auctions Hollywood & Entertainment Signature® Auction now in progress includes some of the costumes. Amid all this activity, another cast member gave an interview to Fox: “’Lost in Space’ star Marta Kristen recalls moment she heard ‘60s series was ending: ‘No one really knew why’”.

Fox News: How did you cope when the show ended?
Kristen: Oh, I remember that moment vividly. I was at my house and I received a phone call. I learned it was canceled. I was speechless. No one really knew why. Later on, we found out that it was possibly Irwin’s battle with CBS at the time. He wasn’t giving the scripts that CBS demanded. And they wanted six of them, apparently, or something like that.

I think everyone has a different version of the story. But at that time, Irwin just had so many projects. And I guess he just thought it wasn’t worth the fight. So it was canceled. And it was unusual because we were doing very well in the ratings. We had a very large fan base even then. But it was an expensive show.

(7) CAMILE SAVIOLA OBIT. Actress Camille Saviola, who had over 40 film and TV roles and is remembered by fans for a short run on Deep Space Nine, died October 28 at the age of 71. The full New York Times obituary is here.

…She endeared herself to a different group of fans when she was cast in “Deep Space Nine” as Kai Opaka, a spiritual leader on the planet Bajor. Though she appeared in only four episodes, from 1993 to 1996, Ms. Saviola was well known to followers of the franchise, many of whom posted about her death on social media.

In a 1995 interview with a “Deep Space Nine” fan magazine that is quoted on the website Memory Alpha, Ms. Saviola talked about how she got the part.

“I went in — every character actress was there — and did a little reading, the real thing,” she said, referring not to a script reading but to a tarot card reading. “My grandmother read cards and tea leaves down in Greenwich Village — she never charged people money — and I have a little bit of that gift.”

(8) BOB BAKER 1939-2021. Bob Baker, who co-wrote several Third and Fourth Doctor Who serials with his writing partner Dave Martin, has died reports Gizmodo. Bob Baker was also known for being a co-writer of the Wallace and Gromit films The Wrong TrousersA Close Shave and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and A Matter of Loaf and Death. 

…But perhaps most famous of all is “The Invisible Enemy,” which introduced the robot dog K-9. Originally intended to be a one-off appearance, K-9 was instead entrusted to the Fourth Doctor at the end of the story and became a regular companion alongside Leela and Romana. After exiting the show four years later, Baker’s legacy in K-9 would continue with K-9 and Company, a planned spinoff with Sladen that didn’t make it past the original pilot, and of course, K-9’s brief return to Doctor Who’s post-2005 era with the episode “School Reunion.” The character also had regular appearances in Sladen’s children-focused BBC spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures, until her passing in 2011…. 

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1993 – Twenty-eight years ago, Robocop 3 premiered. It was the first in the franchise in which Peter Weller did not play the lead role but instead Robert Burke assumed that role. It was directed by Fred Dekker, the third director in the franchise.  The screenplay was written by him and Frank Miller from a story by the latter. Its primary cast was Robert Burke, Nancy Allen, Rip Torn, Jill Hennessy, Remy Ryan and Mako. So what did critics think of it? Well they didn’t like it. Roger Ebert said, “Why do they persist in making these retreads?” And the absence of Peter Weller in the title role really, really annoyed most of the critics. (I didn’t think the change in performers was that noticeable with that costume.) Box office wise it barely broke even doing forty-seven million dollars on a budget of twenty-two million. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes really don’t like it currently giving a pathetic fifteen percent rating after Robocop 2 scored a thirty-six percent rating and the original had a most excellent eighty-four percent rating. Ouch. Needless to say there was not a Robocop 4.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 5, 1903 H. Warner Munn. Writer and Poet known in genre for his early stories in Weird Tales in the 20s and 30s, his Atlantean/Arthurian fantasy saga, and his later stories about The Werewolf Clan. After making two mistakes in his first published genre story, he compensated by becoming a meticulous researcher and intricate plotter. His work became popular again in the 70s after Donald Wollheim and Lin Carter sought him out to write sequels to the first novel in his Merlin’s Godson series, which had been serialized in Weird Tales in 1939, and they published those novels as part of their Ballantine and Del Rey adult fantasy lines. The third novel in the series received World Fantasy and Mythopoeic Award nominations, he himself was nominated three times for the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and he was Guest of Honor at the 1978 World Fantasy Convention. He won the Balrog Award for Poet twice in the 80s, and received the Clark Ashton Smith Award for Poetry. (Died 1981.)
  • Born November 5, 1938 James Steranko, 83. Artist, Illustrator, Writer, Publisher, and Magician who is noted for his work in the comic book and graphic novel industry. His breakthough was the Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. feature in Marvel Comics’ Strange Tales, and the subsequent series, in the 60s. His design sensibility would become widespread within and without the comics industry, affecting even Raiders of the Lost Ark and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, for which he created conceptual art and character designs. He also produced several dozen covers and illustrations for genre novels and anthologies in the 60s and 70s. His two-volume history of the birth and early years of comic books established him as a historian of the field. He received and Inkpot Award and Dragon Con’s Julie Award, and was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2006.
  • Born November 5, 1940 Butch Honeck, 81. Sculptor and Fan who learned mechanics, welding, machining, and metal finishing as a teenager, then went on to build a foundry and teach himself to cast bronze so he could create shapes that were too complex for welding. His bronze fantasy sculptures, which depict dragons, mythical creatures, wizards, and other fantasy-oriented themes, use the lost wax method with ceramic shell molds and are characterized by intricate details, mechanical components, humor, and surprise. He has been Artist Guest of Honor at several conventions, was named to Archon’s Hall of Fame, and won a Chesley Award for Best Three-Dimensional Art.
  • Born November 5, 1942 Frank Gasperik. The inspiration for characters in several novels including Lucifer’s Hammer as Mark Czescu, and into Footfall as Harry Reddington aka Hairy Red,  and in Fallen Angels, all by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. He was a close friend of both and assisted Pournelle on his Byte column. To my knowledge, he has but two writing credits which are he co-wrote a story, “Janesfort War”, with Leslie Fish that was published in Pournelle’s War World collection, CoDominium: Revolt on War World, and “To Win the Peace” co-written with Leslie Fish which was published in John F. Carr’s War World: Takeover. He was a filk singer including here doing “The Green Hills of Earth”. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 5, 1944 Carole Nelson Douglas. Although she has two inarguably genre series In the Delilah Street, Paranormal Investigator and the Sword and Circlet novels, I’m here to pitch to you her Social Justice Warrior credential series instead (and dissenters can now go elsewhere) in the form of her Midnight Louie series.  Each novel is told in part from the point of view of Midnight Louie, the cat himself in a style some say is like that of a Damon Runyon character. Great characters, lovely premise. (Died 2021.)
  • Born November 5, 1960 Tilda Swinton, 61. Her take as Rosetta/Ruby/Marinne/Olive in Teknolust might be the most weird genre role she’s done but I think her take as The White Witch in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is her best role to date. Mind you her Gabriel in Constantine was just frelling strange…
  • Born November 5, 1968 Sam Rockwell, 53. First in our area of interest, he’s the Head Thug in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’ve got him next being Francis Flute in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, not a role I knew. And Guy Fleegman on Galaxy Quest which of course won a Hugo at Chicon 2000. And lastly he was Zaphod Beeblebroxin The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I’ve not seen it yet. Worth seeing? The radio series is so damn good.
  • Born November 5, 1971 Rana Dasgupta, 50. British Indian novelist and essayist. Tokyo Cancelled is definitely genre and is most excellent. He’s written a lot on Dehli including “Capital: A Portrait of Twenty-First Century Delhi” which reads like science fiction.

(11) NEXT BIG THING. League of Comic Geeks previews a bestselling author’s work on The Thing #1.

Renowned storyteller Walter Mosley brings his signature style to a sweeping saga of Yancy Street’s favorite son that will range from the urban sprawl of the back alleys of Manhattan to the farthest reaches of the cosmos itself! A lonely evening and a chance encounter (or is it?) sends Ben Grimm embarking on a sojourn that will have him encountering—and battling—figures both old and new. Featuring guest appearances from figures drawn from throughout the Marvel Universe as well as precision artwork by Tom Reilly…

(12) THE CHILLS ARE ALIVE. Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s musical episode “Once More, With Feeling,” a 2002 Hugo nominee, is remembered fondly by the participants in an LA Times roundtable, “’Buffy’s’ musical episode keeps slaying”.

Ashley Lee: I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since this episode first aired! I must confess that, in those 20 years, I had never seen it, or any other episode of “Buffy.” Watching it for the first time the other day — the series is available to stream on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video — I was floored. This episode f— slaps. I am low-key pissed that I wasn’t allowed to watch this show as a kid because this would have radicalized me. What was it like for a devout “Buffy” fan to see this back then?

Jevon Phillips: Fans knew that Whedon had wanted to do a musical episode for a while. We knew Anthony Stewart Head, who plays Giles, and James Marsters, who plays Spike, could sing. We had heard glowing reviews of Amber Benson’s voice, so Tara was set too. But what about the rest of the cast?

Dawn Burkes: It really was a capital-E Event for “Buffy” fans. And it came during a time when people were still reeling from the show changing networks and well-loved characters changing too. “Where Do We Go From Here,” indeed. (And now I’m singing the entire soundtrack, of which I own a hard copy.)

Tracy Brown: It’s not hyperbole to say that I’ve probably seen “Once More, With Feeling” more times than any single episode — a tally mostly racked up when DVD boxed sets were the only way to revisit your favorite TV. This was before “Glee” or “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” so the only real frame of reference for “musical episode” I had at the time was, like, “Xena: Warrior Princess.” (“Bitter Suite” remains a favorite.) And itwent on to be shown in theaters for fan-driven, interactive sing-along events, at least for a while….

(13) DICTIONARY DEFINITION. In case you didn’t already know the meaning of this word, Lise Andreasen explains it in a tweet:

(14) USE THE CARD, LUKE. CNET’s Bridget Carey previews the Disney World LARP/”indoor cruise” Galactic Starcruiser, opening in March 2022, and “only” costing $6,000 for a family of four. Disney, says Carey, “puts the hype in hyperspace.”

(15) GOLDEN ARCHES AND A GREEN ALIEN. This place has been around a long time – but it’s news to me. “The World’s Only UFO-Themed McDonald’s is In Roswell”NewMexi.co has the story.

…The space-themed McDonald’s in Roswell was built in the 90’s. The design makes it look like a shiny metal saucer during the day and glow like a red and yellow spaceship in the dark. Dominated by a massive indoor galactic Play Place and fascinating works of art, the Roswell McDonald’s is the only space-themed McDonald’s in the world….

(16) ANTICIPATION. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] A week or two ago File 770 provided news of a preprint of Martian research from the latest lander.

File 770 is clearly ahead of the game as only now, this week, has the research been formally published in Science where it made the front cover.

(17) BRICK BY BRICK. A new Lego commercial has lots of genre callbacks: “Rebuild the world! Anything is possible with LEGO® sets”.

LEGO® sets take kids to a creative world where no rules apply. A fire-fighting dragon; a car on a carousel; clothes on a cactus; giant bees chasing Star Wars™ Stormtroopers… Anything is possible in the vast and diverse LEGO universe. And, because kids can continuously build, rebuild, reconfigure and combine, the developmental play never stops!

(18) TIME PASSAGES. Another commercial’s extrapolation from today to the Christmases of the future is also a trip from cliché to absurdity. “Lidl GB I Big on a Christmas you can ALWAYS believe in”.

If you’re watching this in 2021, or 2041, then you’ll know that we’re always be BIG on a Christmas you can believe in, to help keep your favourite festive traditions going on and on (and on!)

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

Pixel Scroll 10/8/21 Foundation And Vampire

(1) TRYING TO CROSS THE MIGHTY AMAZON. Kindle Direct Publishing has been yanking Mark Lawrence’s chain: “My attempts to get sense from KDP”.

KDP is what authors use to self-publish books and short stories. A self-published author will use just KDP. A traditionally published author may use KDP to publish additional material. I used it for Road Brothers, the Book of the Ancestor story Bound, and my short story During the Dance….

…The ‘crime’ they’re accusing me of concerns – if you follow the link – ‘willfully misleading metadata’. More on that later. …

…Without acknowledging the stupidity of their request they unblocked my account. But since the only item they had complained about was still ‘in review’ and you can’t alter anything on a book in review, I had to email them again. I’m telling them that I think they’re complaining about me referencing books I didn’t write & I’m telling them that I did write those books…

(2) INKLINGS WATERING HOLE TO REOPEN. A historic pub frequented by authors including J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis will open its doors again reports the Oxford Mail: “Historic Oxford pub Lamb & Flag to reopen in time for Christmas”.

The pub in St Giles, popular with students and real ale drinkers, has been serving since 1566, and switched to its current site in 1613.

St John’s announced its closure in January, citing tough conditions created by the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the hospitality sector.

But following an outcry, the Inklings Group – named in honour of the pub’s former literary patrons JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis – has signed a long-term lease to relaunch the pub.

The modern Inklings is a group of fans of the pub from ‘town and gown’. It is described by St John’s as a ‘diverse and eclectic mix of Oxford people, past and present’ which includes scientists and entrepreneurs, writers and artists, as well as local businesses and suppliers.

Kate O’Brien, chairman of the Inklings Group, said: “Several hundred people, brought together by a love of Oxford and the Lamb & Flag pub, have established the Inklings Group to secure the future of this well-loved pub….

I knew of the Inklings’ association with Oxford’s Eagle and Child pub but this other place was news to me. I checked with Inklings scholar Diana Glyer who explained, “From time to time, the Eagle and Child ran out of beer, so the Inklings walked across the street to the Lamb & Flag. And then when the Bird & Baby remodeled in 1962, they permanently switched to the Lamb & Flag.”

(3) LEARNING THE GAME. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Behind a paywall in the Financial Times, Tom Faber discusses “tutorials,” the part of a video game where players learn the rules of the game.

There is an adage in game design that players enjoy learning but not being taught. Some games get tutorials right by following this maxim.  The undisputed pinnacle is ‘World 1-1’ in 1985’s SUPER MARIO BROS., which shows how expert environmental design can teach wordlessly.  Players learn how Mario moves and jumps intuitively, while the designers employ ‘affordances,’ cues that draw on players’ existing knowledge.  So we run away from one guy because he has angry eyebrows and we put the key in the lock because that’s where keys go,  The reason Mario collects coins is because the developers needed to think of something that anyone would want to pick up off the ground — what else but money?”…

…Other titles dare to be creative.  In HORIZON ZERO DOWN, hero Aloy grows from child to adult as the player learns abilities.  FALLOUT 3 gamifies childhood by showing the player/character being born, taking their first steps and learning to shoot with a BB gun.  These are excellent tutorials because they leave the player with the knowledge they need, excited to get into the game proper and with a sense that the game has respected their time and intelligence. We should applaud these games that have mastered the art of teaching, but the majority of the industry still has much to learn.

(4) KEEP THEM DOGGIES ROLLING. Jon Del Arroz and Vox Day steal the hubcaps off the wheels of Comicsgate in “Debarkle Chapter 66: The Rise and Self Destruction of Comicsgate” at Camestros Felapton.

…Inevitably tying the culture war to crowdfunding comic books was a step that somebody was going to take.

Although it was not obvious in March 2017, the shine was coming off Vox Day’s Castalia House publishing project. When the Rabid Puppies campaigns finally ran out of steam, Day’s enthusiasm for publishing new science fiction novels would also wane sharply. Provoked by an article in The Federalist by Jon Del Arroz jumping on the trend of attacking diversity in comics, Day asked his followers if they’d be interested in crowd funding a line of comics from Castalia….

(5) THESE LOOK FAMILIAR. Literary Hub’s Emily Temple defends her choices for “The 25 Most Iconic Book Covers in History”.  Almost a third of them are genre.

First things first. What makes a book cover iconic? There are no hard and fast rules, of course—like anything else, you know it when you see it. But in order to compile this list, I looked for recognizability, ubiquity, and reproduction—that is, if there are a million Etsy stores selling t-shirts/buttons/posters/tote bags with the book cover, or if someone you know has ever dressed up as it for Halloween, or has a tattoo of it, it probably counts as iconic….

(6) WHAT YOU SEE WHEN YOU KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. “11 Scary Space Facts That’ll Make You Appreciate the Earth We’re Destroying” – a slideshow at Lifehacker.

We need to get rid of outer space—it’s too dark and too terrifying, and everything out there wants to kill us. Yet some of our most popular billionaires seem convinced that rocketing humanity off into the stars is a more viable longterm survival strategy than simply trying a little less hard to ruin the one planet we’ve already got.

Perhaps they should review the following strange and horrifying space facts, which will definitely make you thankful you were born on good old Earth…..

First on the list:

Something we cannot see may be tilting the entire universe

There is something in the space between the constellations of Centaurus and Vela that is pulling groups of galaxies toward it. This mystery thing is too far away for us to see, but we can observe that galaxy clusters are moving toward the whatever-it-is at extraordinary speed. Scientists surmise that The Thing could be so big it’s essentially tilting the universe. Vibes: bad.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1974 – Forty-seven years ago on NBC (where else would it be?), Star Trek: The Animated Series first aired. The first spin-off from Star Trek, it had the entire voice cast of the original series save Walter Koenig (who did write one episode). Show writers David Gerrold and D. C. Fontana considered it to be a fourth season of the first series. Its second season won an Emmy for Outstanding Entertainment in a Children’s Series. It lasted but two seasons consisting of a total of twenty-two episodes. “The Slaver Weapon” episode was adapted from “The Soft Weapon” by Larry Niven who the episode. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it an outstanding rating of ninety-four percent. And yes, I remember the series fondly. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 8, 1920 Frank Herbert. Dune, of course, which won a Hugo at Tricon. (I’ve read it myriad times.) I’ll admit I only like the series through Dune Messiah. The BBC full cast audio version of Dune is quite amazing. I’m also fond of Under Pressure.  (Died 1986.)
  • Born October 8, 1928 John Bennett. A very long involvement in genre fiction starting with The Curse of the Werewolf in the early Sixties and ending forty years later with a role on the Minority Report series. Being a Brit, naturally he appeared on Doctor Who in the prime role of Li H’sen Chang as part of a Fourth Doctor story, “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”. He had roles in Blake’s 7, Watership DownTales of The Unexpected, The Plague DogsDark MythSherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady (as Dr. Sigmund Freud!), Merlin of The Crystal Cave and The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells. (Died 2005.)
  • Born October 8, 1949 Sigourney Weaver, 72. I’m picking her greatest genre role as being the dual roles of Gwen DeMarco and  lieutenant Tawny Madison in Galaxy Quest. Chicon 2000 did give the film Best Dramatic Presentation Award after all and it is a loving homage to all that is good in the genre. And yes, I know Conspiracy ‘87 gave Aliens a Best Dramatic Presentation Award as well but I’m really not a fan of that franchise. 
  • Born October 8, 1949 Richard Hescox, 72. Illustrator who between the years of 1976 and 1993 illustrated over 135 covers for genre books but now works mostly in the games industry and for private commissions. Also notable for producing advertising art for such movies as Escape from New YorkTime BanditsSwamp ThingThe Dark Crystal, The Neverending Story and Conan the Barbarian.  Some of his work is collected in The Deceiving Eye: The Art of Richard Hescox (2004) with text by Randy Dannenfelser. 
  • Born October 8, 1951 Terry Hayes, 70. Screenwriter of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior which he co-wrote with George Miller and Brian Hannant, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome with Miller, and From Hell (from the Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell novel) which he co-wrote with Rafael Yglesias. He’s also His the writer of an unused screenplay, Return of the Apes.
  • Born October 8, 1954 Stephen Furst. Stephen is dead, damn it all. The saddest part of doing these birthdays is discovering how many folks have died that I reasonably expected were still living. Babylon 5 has had far too many deaths among its cast with Mira Furlan being the latest. Furst died of complications from diabetes at a far too young age. You know him most likely as Centauri diplomatic attaché Vir Cotto on Babylon 5, a decent being way over his head in a job he was ill prepared for. He also directed three low-budget movies for the Sci Fi Channel: Dragon StormPath of Destruction, and Basilisk: The Serpent King; he additionally co-starred in the last two films. And he produced Atomic Shark which aired during Sharknado Week on Syfy. 
  • Born October 8, 1974 Lynne M. Thomas, 47. Librarian, podcaster and award-winning editor. She has won nine Hugo Awards for, among other things, one of many involved in SF Squeecast fan cast and editing Uncanny magazine with and husband Michael Damian Thomas. She and her husband are fanatical Whovians, so it’s no surprise that with Tara O’Shea, she edited the superb Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It
  • Born October 8, 1993 Molly C. Quinn, 28. Fey / Intern Molly / Melony on the Welcome to Night Vale podcast and Pemily Stallwark on the sort of related Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast. She’s Jenny in the Authurian Avalon High series, and showed up in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as Howard’s date.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) CROWD-PLEASERS. Gothamist’s “The Best Cosplay From Comic Con 2021’s Subdued Opening Day” has 72 photos.

… Capacity restrictions made the usually jam-packed aisles and atria feel almost empty at times. Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for the under-12 set are required for entry, and masks are mandatory inside. But after a lost year, devoted cosplayers and their oglers were not going to let pandemic protocols spoil the party. 

“I love it!” said Michelle Ford, who came as Mira from Aquaman in an astonishing jellyfish dress that took two months to make. “I come to Comic Con every year, it’s literally the highlight of my year, and I like to hit it hard. Last year I took my 2019 costume and did a cosplay transformation video from home, but this is WAY better. I love the people and the interaction, it’s priceless.”…

(11) LOVECRAFT OR BUST. At Heritage Auctions there are two days left to bid on the Gahan Wilson-designed Lovecraft bust World Fantasy Award presented to Glen Lord in 1978. The top bid as of this writing is $410.

Gahan Wilson (Designer) H.P. Lovecraft Bust World Fantasy Award Sculpture for Publisher Glenn Lord Memorabilia Science Fiction (World Fantasy Convention, 1978). Cartoonist Wilson’s passion for horror fiction shaped his dark-humor cartoons for Playboy magazine, but it was in his homages to author H.P. Lovecraft that Wilson really let his freak-flag fly. This foot-tall bust of Lovecraft is a dimensional interpretation of a Wilson design, complete with Wilson’s google-eyed facial details. It was manufactured during 1975-2015 for presentation to recipients of the World Fantasy Award, recognizing a year’s best bizarre fiction. This near-pristine specimen went to publisher Lord (1931-2011) – best known for his career-spanning representation of the estate of Robert E. Howard, originator of the Conan the Cimmerian cycle of stories…. 

(12) CANUCKSPLOITATION NO MORE. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Well, this sounds promising; a well-reviewed Canuck sci-fi movie. Hope it lives up to the hype. “Review: Chilling sci-fi thriller Night Raiders sets fire to Canadian history” in the Globe and Mail.

“A thoughtful and invigorating sci-fi thriller quite unlike anything else this country has produced, Night Raiders takes a hard look at Canada’s past and sets an oil-slick fire to the idea of our safe, nice and boring nation.”

(13) PLAGUE YEAR IN COMICS. The New York Times’ Ed Park analyzes “How Comics Responded to Our Locked-Down, Anxious Covid Lives”.

…At the outset of last year, [Tasmanian-born cartoonist Simon Hanselmann] was riding high from recent successes, and (as he muses in the endnotes) “2020 was set to be another banger!” — international travel, nonstop partying, following up his great 2019 book “Bad Gateway.” But, as we know, the coronavirus had other plans, locking down artists and audiences at home. Hanselmann pivoted to create what he calls that “repulsive thing,” a free serial webcomic, and figured the world would return to normal in a month. Instead Covid kept getting worse, and from March 13 to Dec. 22, Hanselmann kept putting his stable of timeworn miscreants through the wringer. This book emerged from that agonizing year.

It begins with Megg, Mogg and Owl at home as the outbreak grows more worrisome. Megg’s chief concern is that her Animal Crossing preorder will now be delayed: a perfect snapshot of early-pandemic cluelessness. Soon, the house is packed with uninvited (if masked) houseguests: Werewolf Jones and his two feral kids (bearing toilet paper), the green-scaled trans woman Booger, and the chill, mustached Mike (a Harry Potter fan). To uptight Owl’s dismay, Jones starts performing sex acts on camera for money. (“I lost my warehouse gig,” Jones says. “I don’t have a foofy ‘work from home’ type job like you.”) But when Owl himself gets axed — unbeknown to him, his work laptop has been capturing scenes of domestic depravity — he demands a cut of Jones’s new gig and dictates content….

(14) STILL LOST. Netflix dropped a teaser trailer for the third and final season of the Lost in Space reboot.

(15) CALTECH READY FOR HALLOWEEN. Gizmodo introduces us to the “Creepy New Drone That Walks and Flies Is a Robopocalypse Nightmare Come True”. They’re working on it at Sheldon Cooper’s alma mater (if you follow the biographical breadcrumbs dropped at Big Bang Theory rather than those at Young Sheldon).

Introducing LEONARDO, or LEO for short. The name is an acronym for LEgs ONboARD drone, which nicely but insufficiently describes this robot. The Caltech engineers who built LEO didn’t just slap a pair of robotic legs onto an aerial drone—they had to design the bot with both walking and flying in mind and develop specialized software to integrates its various components.

LEO is still a prototype—a kind of proof-of-concept to see if a bipedal flying robot can perform tasks that would otherwise be difficult or impossible for ground robots or aerial drones to accomplish on their own. In the future, a full-fledged version could be tasked with difficult or dangerous jobs, such as inspecting and repairing damaged infrastructure, installing new equipment in hard-to-reach places, or attending to natural disasters and industrial accidents. Eventually, a LEO-like robot could even transport delicate equipment to the surface of a celestial body, such as Mars or Saturn’s moon Titan. More ominously, the agile bipedal flier could be used in defense or warfare….

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

Pixel Scroll 9/15/20 The Six Million Pixel Scroll

(1) IT’S SF2 CONCATENATION TIME. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] SF2 Concatenation’s Autumnal edition is now up. Principal contents include:

Plus there are many standalone SF/FH book and non-fiction SF & science book reviews.

Full details at SF2 Concatenation’s What’s New page.

Looking ahead, in SF² Concatenation will (hopefully, depending on its lock-down) have its spring (northern hemisphere) edition. Before that, hopefully we will have a pre-Christmas one-page ‘Best of’ Nature Futures short stories. But if we have a second UK lockdown then that will get rolled into our January edition.

(2) CANON CONSIDERED. In a guest post at Sarah Gailey’s Personal Canons, Alasdair Stuart recalls the years when Warren Ellis’ work used to weave way through his life, and why he now doubts it can even sit on his shelves.

…So I start buying comics from the store I used to manage before being laid off.

That last one becomes a solace, a tiny spark against the black backdrop of sleeping on my parents’ camper bed. But it reminds me of the medium that brought me joy as joy slowly returns. This time it’s Ellis’ Secret Avengers[6] run — Fortean and weird, kind and bleak. The team are barely in control, reacting as much as leading. But they’re still trying. Beast – large, smart, kind Beast – makes an appearance.

I buy the book three times. In singles. In trade. The last time I buy it digitally, in California with my new partner, and realize that, at last, I’m home.

*

When we move back to the UK a panel from Transmetropolitan heads my new Facebook page. It’s Spider Jerusalem, sitting on a window ledge. The text box reads:

AND SO, FREED, I BEGIN TO WRITE.

I know how he feels. It’s good to be outside at last.

*

I am rounding the corner towards forty-four and I’m reading a different kind of Ellis’ work. Somanyofus.com collects testimony from over sixty of the countless women who he’s harassed, or groomed, or manipulated over the last twenty years. Careers made or denied, glimpsed briefly from my own track but now laid out with courageous, horrifying context. Were it simply that, it would be damning. But damning is a zero-sum game. Damning is something Spider Jerusalem would do.

The writers of this site are better than that. Better than him.

There are tools here. Questions to ask, behavior to search for. Things to know as you travel the complex and protean landscape of parasocial relationships.

This corpus is not just a collection of testimony but a statement of intent, a course bearing for an industry from the very people that industry — through Ellis — has ground up and thrown aside. Those damaged the most by the toxic business they loved, hauling on the tiller and trying to steer it away from more rocks, more damage, more careers broken against the shore of this single man….

(3) ROWLING IGNITES SOCIAL MEDIA AGAIN. “J.K. Rowling’s New Book—About A Cross-Dressing Serial Killer—Draws Outrage” Forbes’ Lisette Voytko has a rundown:

The revelation that Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s latest book hinges on a male serial killer who dresses like a woman infuriated social media users Monday, after Rowling kicked up controversy in recent months over her views on transgender people, which critics denounced as transphobic.

Rowling’s new book, written under her pen name Robert Galbraith, is titled Troubled Blood and is the latest installment of a fictional crime series following private detective Cormoran Strike.

Troubled Blood’s villain is a “psychopathic serial killer,” according to the book’s Amazon page, and turns out to be a man who dresses as a woman.

Reaction on social media was swift, with #RIPJKRowling trending on Twitter by early Monday afternoon, as critics and former fans argued that Troubled Blood’s villain is another example of the author’s alleged transphobia….

(4) THE COMMERCIAL MARCHES ON. “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will go on, but only in TV land”. Well, it’s always been more of a televised variety show anyway, to be honest.

This year’s parade will still have the giant balloons, colorful floats and, of course, Santa Claus, but it will “shift to a television-only special presentation,” Macy’s and New York City announced on Monday.

The parade will still air across the country on NBC on Thanksgiving morning, but the pandemic forced Macy’s to “reimagine” the event. It will forgo the traditional 2.5-mile route and reduce by 75% the number of parade participants, who will be socially distanced during performances and required to wear face coverings.

…All parade participants will be at least 18 years old, with previously selected high school and college bands’ performances deferred to the 2021 event and local professional marching and musical ensembles taking over this year.

Meanwhile, the 80 to 100 handlers that normally walk the balloons throughout the city will be replaced by specialty vehicles.

(5) LEM IN PLAY. GamesRadar+ honors the source material of a forthcoming game: “The Invincible is a sci-fi thriller coming to PS5 and Xbox Series X from a new studio of former CD Projekt Red and Techland developers”.

In fact, if you’ve read any of Stanislaw Lem’s novels, then you’re probably surprised that it’s taken this long for a studio to directly adapt one of his stories into a video game, which feel like the perfect medium for his pulpy ruminations on AI, futurology, and space exploration. 

The studio that’s breaking that pattern is Starward Industries, a new team based out in Cracow, Poland, made up of 12 veteran developers who hail from CD Projekt Red, Techland Games, and other household names from around the rest of the country. 

(6) WHAT VERNE GOT RIGHT. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s AirSpace podcast presents “Voyages To Mars”.

In this first installment of Voyages to Mars, we hear launch stories from two famous science fiction novels written long before the invention of modern rockets. From Percy Greg’s 1880 novel, Across the Zodiac, we get a detailed account of one of the first imaginary ships ever to travel from the Earth to Mars in literature. In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel, From the Earth to the Moon, we find one of the first descriptions ever written of what it might be like to witness a launch. Strap yourself in and come along for the ride.

(7) BOOKSTORE DESPERATION. There must be a lot of this happening by now: “Brentwood’s Diesel bookstore launches a GoFundMe as more stores struggle through pandemic” in the Los Angeles Times.

Next to a bottle of hand sanitizer, on a table at an entrance to Brentwood’s Diesel bookstore, is a message to customers describing an existential crisis induced by a pandemic. It says, in essence: We need your help.

“We have tried to weather this storm, with creative reinvention, hard work, and perseverance, as we always have,” reads the note from Diesel owners Alison Reid and John Evans. “We’ve managed to keep our booksellers afloat financially and with the necessary health care. But at this point, our stores are foundering.

”… So we are asking for your support to restore us to a sustainable level, to make it through this taxing time… We have resisted this appeal to our wider community, but now we are running out of time. It is either this, or ending our run as a quality independent bookstore.”

Online orders, gift card purchases and the recent return of indoor shopping by appointment only have helped keep afloat the charming bookstore tucked inside the Brentwood Country Mart. But as Reid and Evans alerted some 3,500 people via email, “it is not enough, given our rent, operating expenses and our publisher debt, to sustain us.”

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • September 15, 1965 — The Lost In Space series premiered on CBS. It was created and produced by Irwin Allen who was also responsible for Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaThe Time Tunnel and Land of the Giants. It starred Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen, Bill Mumy, Angela Cartwright, Jonathan Harris and Bob May. Dick Trufeld was the voice of The Robot.   It would three seasons and eight three episodes, fifty-four In color. It would get two reboots — the Lost in Space film (withThe Robinsons: Lost in Space short) and the Lost in Space series. A sixty-minute animated film aired in the early Seventies as part of the ABC Saturday Superstar Movie. Only Jonathan Harris from the series was part of the voice cast. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born September 15, 1894 – Rachel Field.  Hitty, her First Hundred Years won a Newbery Award (the first given to a woman) and a Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, memoir of a mountain-ash-wood doll.  The Magic PawnshopEliza and the Elves also ours.  English lyrics to Schubert’s Ave Maria for Disney’s Fantasia.  A dozen other books, three best-sellers.  (Died 1952) [JH]
  • Born September 14, 1898 – Jan Slauerhoff.  Poet and novelist, an important Dutch author.  The Forbidden Kingdom (1932; Irishman haunted by and maybe transferring identities with Luís de Camões 1524-1580) recently in English (2012); sequel The Life on Earth (1934; tr. as Adrift in the Middle Kingdom 2019) yet stranger.  I haven’t found his poetry (Van der Hoogt Prize, 1933) in English.  (Died 1936) [JH]
  • Born September 15, 1914 – Aldolfo Bioy Caseras.  Friend of and collaborator with Borges, who called C’s Invention of Morel “reasoned imagination”, ha ha.  For us, one more novel, eight shorter stories, tr. into English; much else.  Legion of Honor, Cervantes Prize, Diamond Konex Award. (Died 1999)  [JH]
  • Born September 15, 1940 Norman Spinrad, 80. I’ll admit that the only novel I’ve read by him is Bug Jack Barron. My bad. And I was fascinated to learn he wrote the script for Trek’s “The Doomsday Machine” episode which is an amazing story. So how is that he’s never won a Hugo? (CE)
  • Born September 15, 1942  Charles L. Grant. A writer of whom it’s said he was best at what he called “dark fantasy” and “quiet horror.” Nightmare Seasons, a collection of novellas, won a World Fantasy Award, while the “A Crowd of Shadows” short garnered a Nebula as did “A Glow of Candles, a Unicorn’s Eye” novella. And “Temperature Days on Hawthorne Street” story would become the Tales from the Darkside episode “The Milkman Cometh”. Both iBooks and Kindle have decent but not outstanding selections of his works including a few works of Oxrun Station, his core horror series. (Died 2006.) (CE) 
  • Born September 15, 1942 Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, 78. Best known for her series of historical horror novels about the vampire Count Saint-Germain. She has been honored with the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, a Living Legend Award from the International Horror Guild Award and a Bram Stoker Award for Life Time Achievement. (CE)
  • Born September 15, 1942 – John Faucette.  Five novels, a few shorter stories; collection, Black SF.  Half a dozen novels unfinished at his death.  Of Black SF a reviewer said “warning label on the cover … should be heeded….  adult themes….  no one can argue that the author does not have a strong imagination.”  (Died 2003) [JH]
  • Born September 15, 1946 Howard Waldrop, 74. I think that The Texas-Israeli War: 1999 which he wrote with Jake Saunders is my favorite work by him. His short fiction such as “The Ugly Chickens” which won The World Fantasy and Nebula Awards are most excellent. A generous selection of his work is available at the usual digital suspects. (CE) 
  • Born September 15, 1956 Tommy Lee Jones, 74. Best known as Agent K in the Men in Black franchise, he’s done other genre work with the first being in Batman Forever as Harvey Dent / Two-Face. He’s also Colonel Chester Phillips in Captain America: The First Avenger as well. (CE) 
  • Born September 15, 1960 — Kevin Roche, 59. Chaired Worldcon 76 in San Jose (2018). Prior to that he co-chaired Westercon 66 in Sacramento in 2013 and chaired Costume-Con 26 in San José in 2008. He’s a veteran costumer and masquerade emcee, who co-directed the 2011 Worldcon’s Masquerade as well as Masquerades at Anime Los Angeles, Westercon, and BayCon. Roche is a research scientist at IBM Research Almaden. He also is the editor of Yipe! The Costume Fanzine of Record.
  • Born September 15, 1962 Jane Lindskold, 58. My first encounter with her was the Zelazny novel she finished, Donnerjack. It’s excellent though how much it’s Zelazny is open to vigorous debate. Of her own novels, I recommend The Buried Pyramid, Child of a Rainless Year and Asphodel as being very good. (CE) 
  • Born September 15, 1971 – Laura Martin, 49.  Colorist for CrossGen, DC, Image, Marvel.  Four times Comics Buyer’s Guide Favorite Colorist; six Eagles, two Eisners, a Harvey; Inkwell Awards Ambassador.  Special Guest at Comic-Con Int’l, 2015.  Here is a watercolor (portrait of Butch Guice).  Here is another.  She donated the original of this to the Baltimore Comic-Con art auction.  [JH]
  • Born September 15, 1977 – Sophie Dahl, 43.  Author and former fashion model.  Contributing editor at Condé Nast Traveller, to be seen (I mean, after her modeling career) in The GuardianThe ObserverVogue (won a Jasmine Award).  Books and cookboks.  Children’s picture book Madame Badoebdah.  Puffin Classics 2008 ed’n of The Secret Garden has her introduction.  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Garfield agrees with aliens about what makes life on Earth worthwhile. (“These aliens were redirected to Denmark, I presume,” says Lise Andreasen.)

(11) CHOOSING BETWEEN HORROR AND CATS. You don’t actually have to, as we learn in James Whitbrook Q&A at io9, “Manga Legend Junji Ito Talks Making Horror, Adapting It, and Cats”. Here’s the part about cats:

io9: Your autobiographical manga series Yon & Mu is quite a step out from what people typically know you for. What drove you to make the switch from horror to a slice of life about living with cats?

Junji Ito: I had drawn some short autobiographical comics in the past, and I enjoy working on them because of how easy they are to make. When I got married, I started living with the cats that my wife brought with her, but prior to that I had never been around cats much and honestly got the impression they were a bit creepy. At some point, I realized that a manga about learning how to deal with these new circumstances could be interesting. Not long after, my editor somehow caught onto the fact that I was now living with cats, and proposed the idea of drawing the manga. I was between projects at the time, so it was perfect timing.

(12) ARRIVAL. James Davis Nicoll shows off his newly-arrived Hugo finalist pins at his Dreamwidth blog.

(13) TRAILBLAZER. There’s not much left of summer, so be prepared to read fast! James Davis Nicoll prepared “A Late-Summer SFF Reading List” to save you some time at Tor.com.

What have I read recently? I am so happy to have imagined someone asking me that conveniently leading question.

I should note that I have embraced the concept of comparative advantage by focusing on activities at which I am acceptably competent (reading, reviewing, encountering wild animals), freeing people who are not me up for other activities at which they are superior (anything social). The end result is more productivity all round! Plus, it turns out that, at the moment, a simple handshake can be akin to French-kissing Death herself, so all in all, this anti-social, work-focused lifestyle is working out pretty well! For me, anyway. Without further ado, here’s a survey of what I’ve been reading over the last month…

(14) MUTATING SARS-COV-2 VIRUS. [Item by Jonathan Cowie.] Most people (deniers excepted) have an interest in the SARS-CoV-2 /CoVID-19 pandemic, but SF folk perhaps a little more as pandemics are something of an SF trope and commonly evoked as the backdrop to a ‘Quiet Earth’ story.

The latest Nature journal has a feature, by Nature staffer Ewen Callaway, that explores how the SARS-CoV-2 virus (which can result inCoVID-19 disease) is mutating.

The feature may be a little hard to digest for those Filers not rooted in science or biology, so here’s a condensed summary.

SARS-CoV-2 is mutating (as was previously much anticipated even as a short-term concern). Fortunately it is mutating at less than half the rate of influenza viruses and a quarter that of HIV. The virus genome has nearly 30,000 letters and if you were today to sequence a virus from two patients anywhere in the world you’d probably see an average of 10 RNA letters difference. So far, some 90,000 patients have had their virus genomically sequenced and this has revealed over 12,000 mutations doing the rounds. Luckily, nearly all these do not affect the way the virus spreads, or the resulting disease.

The bad news is that a new dominant strain has emerged. Way back, it infected an estimated less than 10% of patients by early-to-mid-February but nearly 100% by mid-June (of a sample size of over 50,000 patients globally). This strain, D614G (with a genome mutation at the coding for the 614th amino acid position) is unlike most other strains that do not affect the CoVID-19 disease. Instead, this new strain is
more infective than the original SARS-CoV-2! This is because this mutation alters the spike protein on the virus’ surface that it uses to latch on to human cells. It makes the spike more open and so easier to latch onto human cell membrane proteins.

The good news is that in COVID-19 patient impact terms this strain is no better or worse to contract than the original virus.

More good news, is that though this new strain is more infective, it responds just as well to vaccines. This is likely because what makes it more infective (an open spike) also exposes the receptor binding domain (RBD) used to lock onto human cells but the mutation has not changed the RBD itself. So this new mutation is unlikely to affect the prognosis for a vaccine from the potential vaccines now being trialled.

Interestingly, there is a second mutation doing the rounds which is a big mutation involving nearly 400 RNA nucleotides! This strain is linked to a milder form of CoVID-19.

Where does all this leave us?

Well, it could be that slow mutation will lead to vaccine-resistant strains. With vaccination, these strains may only generate mild symptoms (vaccines to related strains may confer partial protection) and also we may develop new vaccines for the new significant mutations. One possibility, the Nature feature contemplates (which the SF²; Concatenation briefing also considered way back in March), is that vaccines will immunise us making us less susceptible to mutations, so that subsequent COVID-19-related disease will have less impact. In short, that we will eventually get by with annual SARS-CoV jabs and that in the long-term it will be a bit like living with flu.

(15) TOS CONTINUES. Fansided makes sure viewers know “A new fan film called Star Trek: First Frontier has debuted online”.

Star Trek: First Frontier is an entirely new, original, and self-funded fan film that takes place in the time of the original show. Set in the same time-frame, with sets and uniforms dedicated to that era of Star Trek. It was directed by Kenneth Smith, with the entire film being self-funded by the director. It was released on Star Trek Day 2020 to add to the festivities.

Despite its production budget being very high for a Star Trek fan-film, there are issues that the director himself admits to. He attempted to fix everything but funds became scarce after Covid-19 hit, and the subsequent quarantining caused a financial issue in fixing some of the minor issues with the audio. Smith promises that the issues will be fixed in a special edition.

(16) HONEST TRAILER PARK. In “Mulan (2020) Honest Trailer” the Screen Junkies explain the Mulan remake has “vibrant colors and sumptuous landscapes that will be totally wasted on your crappy TV.”

(17) ONLY ONE HAS A RACING STRIPE. Ranker asks readers to vote on “The 19 Coolest Starships In The ‘Star Trek’ Universe”.

Throughout the many complicated iterations of the Star Trek universe, there are entire cultures dedicated to exploration, subjugation, and assimilation. Whether they’re looking to map uncharted territories or obliterate neighboring races, the right starship makes all the difference.

Here’s a look at some of the greatest Starfleet cruisers, Klingon fighter ships, and bizarre sentient space vessels that the Star Trek universe has to offer.

Now in fourth place —

4. USS ENTERPRISE (NCC-1701)

Where It’s From: Star Trek: The Original Series

Who It Belongs To: Starfleet

Why It’s Awesome: This Constitution-class heavy cruiser was built in San Francisco, assembled in space, and has one of the most storied histories of any vessel in Starfleet. It has visited more than 70 different worlds over its multiple five-year missions, and is the flagship of the Federation fleet.

(18) NOT YOUR AVERAGE BEAR. Looks like he couldn’t find a pic-a-nic basket in time. “Perfectly preserved Ice Age cave bear found in Arctic Russia”.

Reindeer herders in a Russian Arctic archipelago have found an immaculately preserved carcass of an Ice Age cave bear, researchers said Monday.

The find, revealed by the melting permafrost, was discovered on the Lyakhovsky Islands with its teeth and even its nose intact. Previously scientists only had been able to discover the bones of cave bears that became extinct 15,000 years ago.

Scientists of the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk, the premier center for research into woolly mammoths and other prehistoric species, hailed the find as groundbreaking.

In a statement issued by the university, researcher Lena Grigorieva emphasized that “this is the first and only find of its kind — a whole bear carcass with soft tissues.”

“It is completely preserved, with all internal organs in place, including even its nose,” Grigorieva said. “This find is of great importance for the whole world.”

A preliminary analysis indicated that the adult bear lived 22,000 to 39,500 years ago.

(19) PITCH MEETING. In “Twilight: New Moon Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains that the sequel to Twilight reveals that werewolves run around shirtless to save themselves from ripping off their shirts, but asking what happens to werewolf pants is too much information.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. From 2014.

The Doctor and Clara have been called to the National Portrait Gallery to investigate some very strange paintings, but instead the Doctor runs into, well, himself.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, N., James Davis Nicoll, Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, JJ, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Lise Andreasen, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 9/14/20 Istanscroll Not Constantipixel

(1) MIYAZAKI EXHIBIT WILL KEYNOTE ACADEMY MUSEUM OPENING. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles announced the work of Hayao Miyazaki will feature in its inaugural temporary exhibition when the museum opens to the public on April 30, 2021. It will be the first North American museum retrospective dedicated to the acclaimed artist and his work.

With more than 300 objects, the exhibition will explore each of Miyazaki’s animated feature films, including My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and the Academy Award®-winning Spirited Away (2001). Visitors will travel through the filmmaker’s six-decade career through a dynamic presentation of original imageboards, character designs, storyboards, layouts, backgrounds, posters, and cels, including pieces on public view outside of Japan for the first time, as well as large-scale projections of film clips and immersive environments.

From there, visitors move into the Creating Worlds gallery, a space that evokes Miyazaki’s fantastical worlds. The gallery will capture the contrast between beautiful, natural, and peaceful environments and the industrial settings dominated by labor and technology that are also often featured in Miyazaki’s movies. Visitors can view concept sketches and backgrounds that offer insight into Miyazaki’s imagination, including an original imageboard from his first Ghibli film Castle in the Sky (1986) and artworks from subsequent Ghibli features. Other areas explore Miyazaki’s fascination with complex vertical structures, such as the famous bathhouse in Spirited Away, and the underwater world of Ponyo (2008), as well as Miyazaki’s interest in flying, as seen in Porco Rosso (1992) and The Wind Rises (2013). As a highlight of the exhibition, visitors can enjoy a moment of quiet contemplation in the Sky View installation, addressing another frequent motif in Miyazaki’s films: the desire to slow down, reflect, and dream.

Next, the Transformations gallery affords visitors the opportunity to explore the astonishing metamorphoses often experienced by both characters and settings in Miyazaki’s films. In Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), for example, the protagonists go through physical transformations that reflect their emotional states, while in other films, such as Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Miyazaki creates mysterious and imaginative ways to visualize the changes that humans impose on the natural world.

Visitors then enter the exhibition’s final gallery Magical Forest through its Mother Tree installation. Standing at the threshold between dream and reality, colossal, mystical trees in many of Miyazaki’s films represent a connection or gateway to another world. After passing through the installation, visitors encounter the spirits of the forest, such as the playful Kodama from Princess Mononoke, through an array of storyboards and mixed media. Visitors exit through another transitional corridor, which guides them from the imaginative worlds of Hayao Miyazaki back into the museum.

(2) ATTEND A VIRTUAL ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT THE EXPANSE. Register here for the opportunity to hear news about the ninth and final book in the Expanse series on Wednesday at 11 AM PDT/2 PM EDT. Authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck will be answering questions following the announcement.

(3) NEW HONOR FOR ATWOOD. Margaret Atwood has won the Dayton literary peace prize reports The Guardian.

Margaret Atwood, whose sweeping body of work includes The Handmaid’s Tale, a depiction of a nightmarish totalitarian future for the US, has won a lifetime achievement award that celebrates literature’s power to foster peace, social justice and global understanding.

The Canadian writer will receive the Richard C Holbrooke distinguished achievement award, officials of the Dayton literary peace prize officials announced on Monday. The award is named for the late American diplomat who brokered the 1995 Bosnian peace accords reached in the Ohio city.

Atwood, a prolific writer of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, essays and comic books , has in recent years drawn a new round of acclaim for her bestselling 1985 novel of a dystopian future in which women are subjugated after a theocratic group overthrow the US government. The television adaptation, starring Elisabeth Moss, saw the book return to bestseller lists around the world, while some readers saw similarities to the leadership of authoritarian Gilead in the rise of US president Donald Trump…

(4) SLF STILL TAKING GULLIVER GRANT APPLICATIONS. The Speculative Literature Foundation is taking submissions for the Gulliver Travel Research Grant until September 30. Full guidelines on the website.

The SLF Gulliver Travel grants are awarded annually, since 2004, to assist writers of speculative literature (in fiction, poetry, drama, or creative nonfiction) in their research. They are not currently available for academic research, though we hope to offer such funds in the future. We are currently offering one $1000 travel grant annually, to be used to cover airfare, lodging, and/or other travel expenses.

(5) HOME (DELIVERED) COOKING. “Why did it take so long?” you’ll ask. Scott Edelman invites listeners to down dumplings with the legendary Irene Vartanoff in Episode 127 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Irene Vartanoff

This episode, I was able to totally fulfill the mandate of this podcast, and lose myself in a meal as I sat across a table face to face with a creator. That’s because I’ve known this guest for 46 years plus a few months — and have been in constant conversation with her for almost all of that time. She’s been a part of comics and science fiction fandom several years longer than I have, and worked in comics longer than I did, too. When I started at Marvel Comics on June 24, 1974, she’d ready been there for a couple of months. She has many fascinating things to say about her time in comics — and her decades working in the romance field as well.

I’m of course talking about my wife — Irene Vartanoff — or as she was dubbed by Stan Lee — “Impish” Irene Vartanoff. Her novel Hollywood Superheroine — the final book in her comics-inspired Temporary Superheroine trilogy — was recently published, so this is the perfect time to have a chat about it all.

We discussed how she’d never have gotten into comics if not for her father’s cigar habit, what made a comic book reader become a comic book fan become a comic book professional, the “heartbreaking” advice given to her by Julie Schwartz during her teen visit to DC Comics, why her reputation as a famed letterhack meant she didn’t face the same sexism as other women in comics, what it was like working for Roy Thomas at Marvel and Paul Levitz at DC (and why she respected them both), how critiquing romance manuscripts for 25 years was like being at Marvel all over again, the secret origins of her Temporary Superheroine character, how politics changed Hollywood Superheroine, the final novel in her trilogy, why pantsing works better for her than plotting, the reason she decided to go the indie publishing route, and much more.

(6) LE GUIN DISCOVERY. Sean Joyce-Farley finds worlds of meaning in Ursula LeGuin’s revision to a passage The Left Hand of Darkness, as explained in a post for Library of America, “Are You There Ursula? It’s Me, Sean”.

Knight Library lies tucked into the west side of the University of Oregon campus, just by the cemetery: a dark four-story brick building. Inside, sunlight falls into the Paulson Reading Room through the tall windows at my back. Rigged up in a mask, I look like a harbinger of things to come—but it’s the fall of 2019, and I just have a dust allergy.

There are no pens in the Special Collections, and no water. UO students periodically approach the desk only to learn that they need to take a different staircase to get to the other second floor, which is somehow not connected to this second floor. I take in camera, laptop, notebook, pencil. Grey boxes with my name on them—literally, stuck on in post-its—neatly line the shelf behind the librarian’s desk. The first box is number 77; inside, folders three to five house the handwritten manuscript of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969). I lift up the lid, and let the light in….

(7) GOT THAT RIGHT. “It’s Not Easy Being a BookTuber” on WIRED is an introduction to an episode of WIRED’s “Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy” podcast which has an interview with Daniel Greene, who makes his living reviewing sf and fantasy books on YouTube.  Greene discusses how he gets 20-30 requests from self-published authors to plug their books and how he has to keep reviewing bestsellers to satisfy YouTube’s algorithms.

Daniel Greene makes a full-time living off his YouTube channel, discussing fantasy authors such as Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, and Jim Butcher. Talking about your favorite books all day might sound like a dream come true, but Greene says that building a successful channel is harder than people think.

“For a few years I was doing a video every day of the week, seven days a week, which was insane, while also being a software engineer,” Greene says in Episode 431 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “I’m a workaholic.”

(8) MORE SAND. MovieWeb alerted readers to a French-langauge variant of last week’s Dune trailer with some additional shots.

While the majority of the Dune trailer is the same as the one that debuted a few days ago, this version is slightly shorter and has been restructured. The trailer is in French but, while you may not have much idea what they’re saying, there are a few new shots included, giving us a further look at the likes of Gurney Halleck, played by Josh Brolin, who is seen preparing for battle, as well as a little more of Timothée Chalamet’s Paul Atreides enduring the excruciating pain of the Gom Jabbar Test.

(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • September 2000 — Twenty years ago this month, the online magazine Strange Horizons posted its first issue. It does short stories, poetry and reviews, essays, interviews, and other material as tickles its fancy. It was founded by writer and editor Mary Anne Mohanraj. Susan Marie Groppi who took over in 2004, won the World Fantasy Special Award: Non-Professional in 2010 for her work as the Editor-in-Chief. Other editors have followed; the current one is Vanessa Rose Phin. Several of the stories first published here have been nominated for Hugos, Sofia Samatar’s “Selkie Stories Are for Losers” and Benjamin Rosenbaum‘s “The House Beyond Your Sky”. It was a finalist for the Best Website Hugo Award in two years, and for the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine every year from 2013 through 2020. You can find it here.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born September 14, 1927 – Martin Caidin.  His Cyborg was the basis for The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman.  Thirty novels for us, half a dozen nonfiction books about rockets and Space travel; eighty fiction and nonfiction books all told, a thousand magazine articles; an authority on aviation and aerospace.  Restored to full airworthiness a 1936 Junkers Ju 52, toured extensively with her.  Flew with the Thunderbirds demonstration squadron (U.S. Air Force), honorary member of the Golden Knights parachute demonstration team (Army).  Twice won Aviation/Space Writers Ass’n Award for outstanding aviation author.  (Died 1997) [JH]
  • Born September 14, 1931 – Ivan Klíma, 89.  Kafka Prize and Magnesia Litera award.  A Childhood in Terezin (in German, Theresienstadt; WW II holding ground for deportation to death camps e.g. Auschwitz; few survived) about his own experience.  Biography of Karel Capek (software won’t allow the diacritical mark over the showing it’s pronounced like ch in English church) translated into English, also memoir My Crazy Century.  Penguin Classics ed’n of R.U.R. has his introduction.  Three dozen other books.  [JH]
  • Born September 14, 1932 Joyce Taylor, 88. She first shows as Princess Antillia in Atlantis, the Lost Continent. Later genre appearances were The Man from U.N.C.LE., the first English language Beauty and the Beast film, the horror film Twice-Told Tales and the Men into Space SF series. (CE)
  • Born September 14, 1936 Walter Koenig, 83. Best known for his roles as Pavel Chekov in the original Trek franchise and Alfred Bester (named in homage of that author and a certain novel) on Babylon 5Moontrap, a SF film with him and Bruce Campbell, would garner a 28% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and InAlienable which he executive produced, wrote and acts in has no rating there. (CE)
  • Born September 14, 1941 Bruce Hyde. Patterns emerge in doing these Birthdays. One of these patterns is that original Trek had a lot of secondary performers who had really short acting careers. He certainly did. He portrayed Lt. Kevin Riley in two episodes, “The Naked Time” and “The Conscience of the King” and the rest of his acting career consisted of eight appearances, four of them on as Dr. Jeff Brenner.  He acted for less than two years in ‘65 and ‘66, before returning to acting thirty-four years later to be in The Confession of Lee Harvey Oswald which is his final role. (Died 2015.) (CE)
  • Born September 14, 1948 – Elizabeth Winthrop, 72.  Five dozen books, mostly children’s fiction.  Fisher Award (after Dorothy Canfield Fisher; adults choose master list, children vote) for The Castle in the Attic; it and two more ours.  Jane Addams Peace Prize for Counting on Grace.  Sarah Lawrence alumna.  Website here.  [JH]
  • Born September 14, 1961 Justin Richards, 60. Clute at ESF says “Richards is fast and competent.” Well I can certainly say he’s fast as he’s turned out thirty-five Doctor Who novels which Clute thinks are for the YA market between 1994 and 2016. There’s another nineteen novels written there.  And he had other series going as well including being one of the main scriptwriters for the Jago & Litefoot  Big Finish series, the characters being spin-offs from the Fourth Doctor story, “The Talons of Wang Chiang”.  And then there’s the Doctor Who non-fiction which runs to over a half dozen works.  (CE)
  • Born September 14, 1962 – Leigh Cunningham, 58.  Lawyer with three Master’s degrees.  Her Being Anti-Social (2013) a Best Indie Book.  Two novels for us.  Ranks Nineteen Eighty-four above The Sound and the Fury.  [JH]
  • Born September 14, 1964 – Lorie Ann Grover, 56.  Firstborn for us (Kirkus starred review); verse novels; board books; The Magic Cup with Howard Behar former president of Starbucks.  Illustrations: “I’m putting these up for fabbity publisher types to see my samples…. copyright…. Just ask me if you’d like to share them.” [JH]
  • Born September 14, 1972 Jenny T. Colgan, 48. Prolific writer of short stories in the Whovian universe with a baker’s dozen to date with several centered on River Song. She novelized “The Christmas Invasion”, the first full Tenth Doctor story. She has two genre novels, Resistance Is Futile and Spandex and the City. (CE) 
  • Born September 14, 1989 Jessica Brown Findlay, 31. She appeared as Beverly Penn in the film version of Mark Helprin‘s Winter’s Tale novel. She’s Lorelei in Victor Frankenstein, a modern take on that novel, and plays Lenina Crowne in the current Brave New World series on Peacock. Finally I’ll note she was Abi Khan on Black Mirrior’s “Fifteen Million Merits“ episode. (CE) 
  • Born September 14, 1986 – Rick Griffin, 44.  Co-authored, and illustrates, the Hayven Celestia universe, where the admirable geroo and various others suffer under the wicked krakun.  Recently Tales of Hayven Celestia (in Gre7g Luterman’s name, the is silent).  Four more covers.  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) SOMETHING’S IN THE AIR. “Astronomers see possible hints of life in Venus’s clouds” reports Yahoo! News.

Astronomers have found a potential sign of life high in the atmosphere of neighboring Venus: hints there may be bizarre microbes living in the sulfuric acid-laden clouds of the hothouse planet.

Two telescopes in Hawaii and Chile spotted in the thick Venusian clouds the chemical signature of phosphine, a noxious gas that on Earth is only associated with life, according to a study in Monday’s journal Nature Astronomy.

Several outside experts — and the study authors themselves — agreed this is tantalizing but said it is far from the first proof of life on another planet. They said it doesn’t satisfy the “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” standard established by the late Carl Sagan, who speculated about the possibility of life in the clouds of Venus in 1967.

“It’s not a smoking gun,” said study co-author David Clements, an Imperial College of London astrophysicist. “It’s not even gunshot residue on the hands of your prime suspect, but there is a distinct whiff of cordite in the air which may be suggesting something.”

(13) VENUS IF YOU WILL. By an interesting coincidence, on a day when a paper has been released indicating the discovery of a biosignature in Venus’ atmosphere, James Davis Nicoll offers “Five Science Fiction Books Featuring Floating Habitats” a Tor.com.

Venus is so inconsiderate. It presents itself as a sister world, one that would seem at first glance to be very Earth-like, but… on closer examination it’s utterly hostile to life as we know it. Surface conditions would be extremely challenging for terrestrial life, what with the toxic atmosphere, crushing pressures, and blast-furnace-like temperatures.

That’s at the surface, however. Just fifty kilometers above the surface, there is a region with terrestrial pressures and temperatures, a veritable garden of Eden where an unprotected human would not be almost immediately incinerated but instead would expire painfully (in just a few minutes) due to the lack of free oxygen and the prevalence of toxic gases….

(14) STAR WARS MUSICS HELPS CELEBRATE MILESTONE. [Item by David Doering.] Nice to see the Tabernacle Choir chose Star Wars to celebrate their 110 years of recordings:

Legendary film composer John Williams wrote the music for each of the nine Star Wars saga films, spanning more than forty years from 1977 to 2019. For Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), Williams composed “Duel of the Fates” for orchestra and chorus, accompanying a climactic lightsaber duel. The words are a fragment of an ancient Welsh poem that Williams had translated into Sanskrit—he then rearranged the syllables himself to make the text essentially meaningless, while still retaining a forceful chant-like power. He intended the choral singing itself to give the scene an explicitly religious feel, as if it were a ceremony of some kind. “Duel of the Fates” went on to become a defining musical feature of the prequel trilogy, a symbol of the saga’s broad focus on the cosmic struggle between darkness and light.

The choir music was also used to demonstrate the first stereophonic recording made back in 1940.

Oh, and BTW, while the media proudly announced that Vinyl records outsold CDs for the first time, this is on revenues, not on units. LPs are still quite a bit more expensive than CDs.

(15) GOING FOR THE JUGULAR, WITH A KICK TO THE GROIN. In a post for This Way To Texas, “Libertarians nominate Lou Antonelli for Congress”, Antonelli spotlighted the political battles he’s been waging.

…The Texas Supreme Court on Saturday, Sept. 5, rejected a Republican attempt to remove 44 Libertarians from the November ballot, according to the Texas Tribune.

Groups affiliated with both major parties have gone to court in recent weeks to remove from the ballot non-major-party candidates perceived to be a threat. In general, Libertarians are believed to peel votes away from Republicans, while the Green Party is thought to siphon votes from Democrats.

The GOP sued because the Libertarians didn’t pay their filing fees. But the state Supreme Court said Republicans missed the deadline to kick them off the ballot.

Antonelli, running in the 4th District, is one of the candidates the Republicans sought to block.

He’s trying to get Republican nominee Pat Fallon to join him in a public forum or debate, meantime trying to score off Fallon for not living in the district he wants to represent.

… Fallon lives in the Denton county portion of Prosper, an outer suburb of Dallas, which is just outside the 4th’s boundaries.

Even Wikipedia, the largest and most popular general reference work on the World Wide Web, notes Fallon’s position: “Fallon’s state senate district includes much of the eastern portion of the congressional district.”

However, regarding the 4th Congressional District, Wikipedia continues: “While candidates for the House are only required to live in the state they wish to represent, longstanding convention holds that they live either in or reasonably close to the district they wish to represent.”

The Libertarian Party candidate in the election, Antonelli said “A number of candidates who lost to Fallon in the district convention seem to feel his victory was due to arm-twisting by himself and Senator Ted Cruz, and they resent it and have told me so,”

“The residency requirement for the U.S. House is in the Constitution, so Fallon has done nothing illegal,” said Antonelli. “But Texas deserves congressional leaders who do better than just skirt the law.”

Antonelli is doing his best to leave no stone unthrown.

(16) THE UNSEEN HAND – AND EVERYTHING ELSE. The Cut introduces “The Designer Who Sent Ghost Models Down the Runway”.

While stuck inside during quarantine this past spring, designer Anifa Mvuemba began playing around with 3-D technology. Soon, an idea struck: What if she held a virtual fashion show in which her feminine, curve-friendly designs glided along on invisible models? She’d been working on her line Hanifa for eight years but had never held a runway show — maybe it was time.

On May 22, she premiered the collection, called Pink Label Congo, on Instagram Live. The digital runway show featured ghostlike 3-D figures strutting sinuously down the runway in the collection.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Using Cuts as a Visual Effect” on Vimeo, David F. Sandberg explains how cutting can be just as effective a way to produce special effects as more expensive CGI. WARNING: Many scenes from gory horror movies.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Contrarius, James Davis Nicoll, Scott Edelman, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, JJ, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 4/3/20 Andy Warhol, Pixel Scroll, Can’t Tell Them Apart At All

(1) THE CONLINE LIFE. NYC area convention HELIOsphere is running online this weekend. Here’s how to locate the schedule and tap into the programming.

When we had to cancel HELIOsphere 2020 because of the coronavirus, we were sad. And, we were bored. So, this weekend, we bring to you:

HELIOsphere: Beyond the Corona! (a virtual event)

Join us while we all #StayHome! We unfortunately had to cancel our in-person event this year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still gather together online for some presentations, panels, games, and lots of filk! Check for the latest schedule and Zoom and Discord links. And finally, stay safe and healthy, everyone! We want to see you all in person next year!

(2) NOT MAKING BOOK. Writer and editor Beth Meacham updated Facebook readers with the current struggles of the publishing industry.

I want to talk for a minute about why publishing is in so much trouble right now. It’s way more complicated than most people seem to think.

First, you need to know that the vast majority of our business remains in hardcover and paperback books. Hard copies, physical objects. The second strongest sector has been audio books. Ebooks are a distant third.

Selling books is a very long and complicated supply chain. Ignore editorial — writers and editors can work at a distance and electronically. It really starts with the paper. Storing paper for the big presses takes an enormous amount of warehouse space, which costs money. Printers don’t store a lot — they rely on a “just in time” supply chain so that when a book is scheduled to go to press, the paper is delivered to the printer. Most of that paper is manufactured in China. Guess what isn’t coming from China? Anything, for the last three months. Some of it comes from Canada. Guess what the Trump administration put a big tariff on at the beginning of the year?

So, we don’t have adequate paper supplies. Then consider, big printing plants are not “essential businesses”…. 

(3) RITE GUD. The latest episode of the Rite Gud podcast is up. In it, R.S. Benedict talks to horror writer Gretchen Felker-Martin about Isabel Fall’s controversial story “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter” and about the need to make space for messy, difficult, transgressive queer fiction. “Transgressive Queer Fiction and the Right to Be Messy”

(4) RAILING AGAINST FATE. Prepare to brace…. Snowpiercer, starring Oscar® winner Jennifer Connelly and Tony Award® winner Daveed Diggs premieres May 17.

Set more than seven years after the world has become a frozen wasteland, Snowpiercer centers on the remnants of humanity who inhabit a perpetually moving train, with 1001 cars, that circles the globe. Class warfare, social injustice and the politics of survival play out in this riveting television adaptation based on the graphic novel series and film from Oscar® Winner Bong Joon Ho (Parasite).

(5) LBJ’S WALKERS. [Item by Olav Rokne.] The U.S. National Archives blog Text Message reveals the behind-the-scenes story of how the government tried to build AT-AT style walking war machines in the 1960s. It’s an interesting story, and the images they’ve posted are amazing“Bringing Sci-Fi to Life: The Walking War Machines of ARPA and G.E.” 

One has only to look to the 1980 movie Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back to see the relationship between science fiction and scientific research to recognize the surviving creative influence of the ambulating quadruped transporter.

(6) ELUSIVE QUARRY. James Davis Nicoll reads a lot – and there are even more books he’d read, if he could! “SFF Books That Are Hard to Track Down in North America” at Tor.com.

…It can be frustrating to have heard of an interesting book, to want to read that book, and to find that it is available ONLY in an imported edition. Well, at least it’s available (failing a breakdown in global trade networks, and how likely is that)…but it may take longer to get the book and the book may be more expensive.

You may be wondering why I am vexed about this. Allow me to list a few books that I wanted to acquire and that were not available in North American editions, as far as I can tell.

(7) BY THAT SPECIAL GLINT IN THEIR…UM. “Proof of Life: How Would We Recognize an Alien If We Saw One?” Tagline: “Some day, astrobiologists will need to answer that question – if they’re lucky.”

…One thing that sets life apart from nonlife is its apparent design. Living things, from the simplest bacteria to the great redwoods, have vast numbers of intricate parts working together to make the organism function. Think of your hands, heart, spleen, mitochondria, cilia, neurons, toenails – all collaborating in synchrony to help you navigate, eat, think and survive. The most beautiful natural rock formations lack even a tiny fraction of the myriad parts of a single bacterial cell that coordinate to help it divide and reproduce. 

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • April 3, 1953 — In London, The War Of The Worlds based on the H.G. wells novel had its very first theatrical showing. It was the recipient of a 1954 Retro-Hugo Award at Noreascon 4 in 2004.  It was produced by George Pal, and directed by Byron Haskin. It starred Gene Barry and Ann Robinson. It was deemed culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant in 2011 by the United States Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. 
  • April 3, 1968 Planet Of The Apes had it a full U.S. wide release after several smaller city wide openings. It was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. It starred Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, James Daly and Linda Harrison. The screenplay was by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling, and was somewhat based on Pierre Boulle‘s La Planète des Singes. It was not on the final Hugo ballot in either 1968 or 1969 for Best Dramatic Presentation, though it was met with critical acclaim and is widely regarded as a classic film and one of the best films of 1968. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it an 87% rating with over 117,000 having expressing an opinion! 
  • April 3, 1998 — The rebooted Lost In Space film premiered. Produced by Mark W. Koch, Stephen Hopkins, Akiva Goldsman and Carla Fry, it was directed by Stephen Hopkins from a script by Akiva Goldsman based on ideas by Irwin Allen. It was universally panned by critics on release, it lost enough money to kill the planned sequel and it received a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Remake or Sequel, but lost to the tied GodzillaThe Avengers and Psycho. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a 24% rating. 
  • April 3, 1999 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World first aired on TNT.  It starred Peter McCauley, Rachel Blakely, William Snow, David Orth, Jennifer O’Dell and Michael Sinelnikoff. Produced in Australia, it would run for three seasons and last for sixty six episodes. The never produced fourth season would have featured guest appearances of two other Arthur Conan Doyle characters, Holmes and Moriarty. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 3, 1927 Donald M. Grant. He was responsible for the creation of several genre small press publishers. He co-founded Grant-Hadley Enterprises in 1945, Buffalo Book Company in 1946, Centaur Press in 1970 and Donald M. Grant, Publisher, Inc. in 1964. Between 1976 and 2003, he won five World Fantasy Awards and a Balrog Award as well. (Died 2009.)
  • Born April 3, 1928 Colin Kapp. He’s best remembered  for his stories about the Unorthodox Engineers which originally largely appeared in the New Writings in SF anthologies. I’d also single out his Cageworld series which is set in the future when humanity lives on nested Dyson spheres. Both series are available at the usual digital suspects. (Died 2007.)
  • Born April 3, 1929 Ernest Callenbach. Ecotopia: The Notebooks and Reports of William Weston was rejected by every major publisher so Callenbach initially self-published it. Ecotopia Emerging is a prequel and sequel as well published later. Yes, I read both. As such fiction goes, they’re ok. Nothing spectacular, characters flat and writing style pedestrian.  If you can find a copy, Christopher Swan’s YV 88: An Eco-Fiction of Tomorrow which depicts the rewilded Yosemite Valley is a much more interesting read. (Died 2012.)
  • Born April 3, 1946 Lyn McConchie, 74. New Zealand author who has written three sequels in the Beast Master series that Andre Norton created and four novels in Norton’s Witch World as well. She has written a lot of Holmesian fiction, so I’ll just recommend her collection of short stories, Sherlock Holmes: Familar Crimes: New Tales of The Great Detective. She’s deeply stocked at the usual digital suspects. 
  • Born April 3, 1958 Alec Baldwin, 62. I’ve no idea how many times I’ve see him in Beetlejuice as Adam Maitland since it’s one of my favorite films, period. Despite those who don’t like The Shadow and him in his dual role of Lamont Cranston and The Shadow, I’m quite fond of it. Let’s just skip past any mention of The Cat in the Hat… Ahhhh Rise of the Guardians where he voices Nicholas St. North is quite fantastic. Another go to, feel good film for me. He’s Alan Hunley in some of the Mission: Impossible franchise, a series I think I’ve only seen the first two films of. And here’s a weird one — the US. run of Thomas The Tank Engine & Friends replaced the U.K. narrator, some minor musician no one had ever heard of by the name of Ringo Starr, with him. 
  • Born April 3, 1961 Eddie Murphy, 59. He’s got a long history in genre starting with The Golden Child and going on to include Wes Craven’s Vampire in BrooklynThe Nutty Professor films, Mulan, the Dr. Dolittle films, the Shrek franchise and The Haunted Mansion
  • Born April 3, 1962 James R. Black, 58. I’d like to say he’s best known for his leading role as Agent Michael Hailey on The Burning Zone but since it was short-lived and I’m not sure anyone actually watched it on UPN that might be stretching reality a bit. If you like great popcorn viewing, The Burning Zone is certainly worth seeing. Prior to his run on that series, he’s got a number of one-offs including Babylon 5Deep Space 9, The SentinelSpace: Above and Beyond with his first genre role being Doctor Death in Zombie Cop.
  • Born April 3, 1970 Jo Graham, 50. Her first novel, Black Ships, re-imagines The Aeneid, and her second novel, Hand of Isis, features the reincarnated main character of the first novel. If that‘s not enough genre cred for you, she’s written Lost Things, with Melissa Scott and a whole lot of Stargate Atlantis and Stargate SG-1 novels.

(10) HELP IS ON THE WAY. Rick Kovalcik announced the results of the “Help Ben and Ireland Hatcher” GoFundMe on March 31:

Two money orders totaling $1661 (since USPS money orders are limited to $1000) went out by Priority Mail to Ben Hatcher today.

(11) NEW WORLD ORDER. SYFY Wire’s Dana Forsythe talks to people trying to ride out the financial storm: “Comic Cons, Artists, And Fans Search For A Way Forward Amid Coronavirus Cancellations”.

…At the top, many convention organizers were caught between a rock and a hard place after C2E2 seemingly went off without a hitch from Feb. 28 through March 1. Without guidance from local (not to mention the federal) government, con creators were still bound by contract to hold these major events. By March 12, though, tough decisions were made simple as federal and state leaders alike declared emergencies and issued bans on large gatherings. With mandatory shelter in place orders now spreading, what happens now? While comic cons big and small fight to stay afloat, the artists, vendors, and support staff scramble for solutions.

Gary Sohmers is the organizer of the NorthEast Comic Con & Collectibles Extravaganza, which organizes two midsize cons that happen three times a year just outside of Boston. The cons usually attract about 4,000 attendees over three days with the average person spending about $100 on merchandise. Sohmers employs a small staff of 12 to 15 people and then usually hires a handful of service contractors per show. That’s not to mention thousands of dollars in marketing costs, he tells SYFY WIRE.

(12) SXSW 2020 SCREENINGS ONLINE. “Amazon will stream SXSW Film Festival selections for free for 10 days”Engadget has the story. Date still to be determined.

SXSW was cancelled this year due to COVID-19, but that isn’t stopping organizers from offering a taste of what the Austin event would have offered. They’re partnering with Amazon on an SXSW Film Festival Collection that will stream movies from the festival on Prime Video for 10 days, completely free in the US — you won’t need a subscription. While creators will have to opt in, they’ll receive a screening fee for their trouble. Amazon and SXSW are tentatively looking at a late April timeframe for the virtual festival.

(13) BRAIN-TO-TEXT! [Item by Daniel Dern.] From Slashdot: “Scientists develop AI that can turn brain activity into text”.

Two immediate (media) plot uses:

1, Superman 1, when Lois Lane, while being flown by Supes, is thinking, “Can you hear what I’m thinking”

2, Zoe’s Extraordinary Playlist, for Zoe’s unable-to-speak dad (btw, this show is doing Good-Place-level exploration of Zoe’s ‘superpower’, including one bit, last week, too funny to spoil.)

3, Speechless, for JJ, also unable to talk.

(14) IT’S FREE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] More free watches/reads via io9.

Update: According to TrekCore, CBS All Access has expanded the free trial to 60 days with a second code, ENJOY. Enter both at checkout to get two months free, and if you’ve already done the first one you can extend it by going into My Account and entering ENJOY….

Scribt: In a press release, Scribt announced it’s making book, magazine, and audiobook services free for 30 days—without requiring folks to put down a credit card. All you have to do is visit the website to sign up. There’s a great collection of science fiction and fantasy books on there, as well as some self-help, healthy living, and mindfulness books for folks interested in that as well.

(15) HAPPY DEATH DAY. [Item by N.] Ladyknightthebrave’s video essay on the Happy Death Day movies. I used to dismiss these movies out of hand for their Blumhouse associations but based on the analysis/scenes featured here, they appear to be supremely underrated.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, JJ, N., and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 3/9/20 And There’s Hamburger All Over the Information Superhighway

(1) HOPE IS ON THE WAY. There’s a brand new podcast, If This Goes On (Don’t Panic), themed around hopepunk. The first episode is hosted by Cat Rambo and Alan Bailey, interviewing Alexandra Rowland, who coined the term “hopepunk.”

In this episode, Cat and Alan discuss the concept of Hopepunk with Alexandra Rowland, coiner of the term. Other topics include the hopeful nature of Lord of the Rings, why there has to be a protagonist in fiction, and why sometimes you have to sell out.

Alan also reviews the second season of The Witch Who Came in From the Cold published by Serialbox

(2) FREE DOWNLOAD. Elizabeth Bonesteel just released a free ebook of her short fiction Survival Tactics:

https://twitter.com/liz_monster/status/1236714253685526528

(3) ARROWVERSE EXPANDS. CBR.com thinks “Stargirl: The CW’s Newest Series Could Be Its Best Yet”.

The next TV series based on a DC Comics property is Stargirl, which is receiving a dual release on both The CW and the DC Universe streaming app. While this might be a drawback for DC Universe, which could benefit from the show’s exclusivity, it could be a boon for The CW.

The network’s lineup of Arrowverse shows continues to grow, something that will only continue now that the groundbreaking “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover has come and gone. Despite their seeming popularity, the shows have their fair share of detractors and common criticisms. Since it’s technically a DC Universe show, however, Stargirl may just be able to avoid those pitfalls, and thus become the best superhero series on The CW yet.

(4) CAPTIONS CASE CLOSED. Publishers Lunch tells readers “The Audible Settlement Is Finally Public”.

The case brought by seven publishers against Audible over their planned Captions feature is now formally concluded, with Judge Valerie Caproni’s signature in place on the permanent injunction barring the audiobook company from displaying text from e-books without the permission of copyright holders. Audible will pay each litigating publisher an undisclosed sum, after which both parties will file final documentation to the court.

(5) DOES THIS MEAN GETTING FOUND IN SPACE? ComicBook.com brings the shocking news that “Lost in Space Cancelled After Season 3 on Netflix”.

[Showrunner Zack] Estrin revealed that the plan for Lost in Space was always meant to be told in three parts, so this ending really is a conclusion of the story rather than a cancellation by Netflix.

“From the beginning, we’ve always viewed this particular story of The Robinsons as a trilogy,” Estrin said. “A three part epic family adventure with a clear beginning, middle and end. It’s also worth noting that, with what these characters go through just trying to survive each episode — if anyone deserves to catch their breath before their next mission — it’s Will, Penny, Judy, Maureen, John, Don West, Dr. Smith… and The Robot. And, of course, Debbie the Chicken. So while this chapter of Lost In Space is coming to a rousing conclusion, I’m excited about continuing to explore new stories with my friends at Netflix, and for all of the incredible possibilities that lie ahead.”

(6) SHERYL LERNER. Condolences to Lofgeornost’s faned Fred Lerner, who sent out this message today:

I am sorry to report that my wife Sheryl died last night. Many of you will have met her at various conventions, or read about her in my Lofgeornost trip reports. Although she did not read much science fiction, she enjoyed convention programming and the conversations we had with Lofgeornost readers.

(7) VON SYDOW OBIT. Actor Max Von Sydow died March 9. He was the only male Swedish actor to be nominated for an Academy Award. The New York Times tribute is here: “Max von Sydow, Star of ‘Seventh Seal’ and ‘Exorcist,’ Dies at 90”.

Mr. von Sydow, widely hailed as one of the finest actors of his generation, became an elder pop culture star in his later years, appearing in a “Star Wars” movie in 2015 as well as in the sixth season of the HBO fantasy-adventure series “Game of Thrones.” He even lent his deep, rich voice to “The Simpsons.”

By then he had become a familiarly austere presence in popular movies like William Friedkin’s “The Exorcist,” Steven Spielberg’s “Minority Report,” Woody Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters” and, more recently, Julian Schnabel’s “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.”

But to film lovers the world over he was most enduringly associated with Bergman.

If ever an actor was born to inhabit the World According to Bergman, it was Mr. von Sydow. Angular and lanky at 6-foot-3, possessing a gaunt face and hooded, icy blue eyes, he not only radiated power but also registered a deep sense of Nordic angst, helping to give flesh to Bergman’s often bleak but hopeful and sometimes comic vision of the human condition in classics like “The Seventh Seal” and “The Virgin Spring.”

The National Review reminded readers about a few of his other popular roles:

Sydow was 44 when portraying the wizened old priest [in The Exorcist] whose stalwart faith combats the film’s antagonistic demonic presence; he reportedly required more makeup to appear old than Linda Blair required to appear possessed in the role of Regan MacNeil.

King Osric in the underappreciated Conan the Barbarian. Sydow, along with James Earl Jones (as the villain Thulsa Doom) was brought onto the production of the 1982 John Millius film in the hope that their stately presence would inspire the mostly novice crew of actors (including Arnold Schwarzenagger, in one of his first major productions) to greater heights.

He also played emperor Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon (1980), and Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the James Bond film Never Say Never Again (1983).

(8) TUCCI OBIT. Actor Nicholas Tucci died March 3 — The Hollywood Reporter has the story: “Nicholas Tucci, ‘You’re Next’ and ‘Channel Zero’ Actor, Dies at 38”.

Nicholas Tucci, an actor who appeared in the horror film You’re Next and SyFy’s Channel Zero, died Tuesday after battling an unspecified illness, according to his father, who shared the news on Facebook. Tucci was 38.

(9) NEELY OBIT. Mystery author Barbara Neely, named Mystery Writers of America’s 2020 Grand Master just last December, has passed away. USA Today profiles her career: “Barbara Neely, author of first black female series sleuth Blanche White, dies at 78”.

Award-winning mystery writer Barbara Neely, who created the first black female series sleuth in mainstream American publishing, died last week after a brief illness, according to her publisher, Brash Books. She was 78.

Neely is perhaps best known for her four-book Blanche White series, which had at its center a nomadic amateur detective and domestic worker who uses the invisibility inherent to her job as an advantage in pursuit of the truth.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • March 1933 –This month was when the first Doc Savage novel was published. The Man of Bronze was by Lester Dent writing under the house name Kenneth Robeson. It would publisher in the March issue of the Doc Savage magazine. It was the basis of the Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze film that starred Ron Ely. You can see the film hereThe Man of Bronze is available at the usual digital publishers. 

March 9, 2011 — Dynamite Entertainment published the  first issue of Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris. It was set on the world of Barsoom 400 years before John Carter went there, with her being of the focus of the story.Arthur Adams and Joe Jusko were the writers, with Paul Renaud, and Alé Garza being the artists. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 9, 1918 Mickey Spillane. His first job was writing stories for Funnies Inc. including Captain Marvel, Superman, Batman and Captain America. Do note these were text stories, not scripts for comics. Other than those, ISFDB lists him as writing three genre short stories: “The Veiled Woman“ (co-written with Howard Browne),  “The Girl Behind the Hedge” and “Grave Matter” (co-written with Max Allan Collins).  Has anyone read these? (Died 2006.)
  • Born March 9, 1930 Howard L. Myers. Clute over at EofS positively gushes over him as does here of Cloud Chamber:“ attractively combines Cosmology, Antimatter invaders of our Universe, Sex and effortless rebirth of all sentient beings in a wide-ranging Space Opera“.  I see he had but two novels and a handful of short stories. They’re available, the novels at least, from the usual digital sources. (Died 1971.)
  • Born March 9, 1939 Pat Ellington. She was married to Dick Ellington, who edited and published the FIJAGH fanzine. They met in New York as fans in the Fifties. After they moved to California, she was a contributor to Femizine, a fanzine put out by the hoax fan Joan W. Carr. (Died 2011.)
  • Born March 9, 1940 Raul Julia. If we count Sesame Street as genre, his appearance as Rafael there was his first genre role. Yeah, I’m stretching it. Ok, how about as Aram Fingal In Overdrawn at the Memory Bank, a RSL production off the John Varley short story? That better?  He later starred in Frankenstein Unbound as Victor Frankenstein as well. His last role released while he was still living was in Addams Family Values as Gomez Addams reprising the role he’d had in The Addams Family.  (Died 1994.)
  • Born March 9, 1945 Robert Calvert. Lyricist for Hawkwind, a band that’s at least genre adjacent. And Simon R. Green frequently mentioned them in his Nightside series. Calvert was a close friend of Michael Moorcock.  He wrote SF poetry which you read about here. (Died 1988.)
  • Born March 9, 1955 Pat Murphy, 65. I think her most brilliant work is The City, Not Long After. If you’ve not read this novel, do so now. The Max Merriwell series is excellent and Murphy’s ‘explanation’ of the authorial attributions is fascinating.
  • Born March 9, 1959 Mark Carwardine, 61. In 2009, he penned Last Chance to See: In the Footsteps of Douglas Adams. This is the sequel to Last Chance to See, the 1989 BBC radio documentary series and book which he did with Douglas Adams. In 2009, he also worked with Stephen Fry on a follow-up to the original Last Chance to See. This also was called Last Chance to See
  • Born March 9, 1965 Brom, 55. Artist and writer whose best work I think is Krampus: The Yule Lord and The Child Thief. The Art of Brom is a very good look at his art. He’s listed as having provided some of the art design used on Galaxy Quest
  • Born March 9, 1978 Hannu Rajaniemi, 42. Author of the Jean le Flambeur series which consists of The Quantum ThiefThe Fractal Prince and The Causal Angel. Damn if I can summarize them. They remind a bit of Alastair Reynolds and his Prefect novels, somewhat of Ian Mcdonald’s Mars novels as well. Layers of weirdness upon weirdness. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Macanudo creates a clever image for what sff fans think of as the multiverse.
  • Free Range points out a challenge of producing the 1960s Batman TV show that’s obvious if you think about it…
  • Off The Mark has a very amusing library gag.  
  • Grant Snider’s Incidental Comics:

(13) MONSTER ART COLLECTION. Lonely Planet shows where “Metallica fans can visit Kirk Hammett’s traveling sci-fi and horror art collection”.

… Organized by the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Massachusetts, its final stop is at the Columbia Museum of Art (CMA) in Columbia, South Carolina, where it runs from 15 February to 17 May, 2020 and includes an interactive guitar experience and programming schedule with appearances by Hammett himself.

…On display are 135 works from twentieth century cinema including posters, rare art by master artists and related memorabilia such as electric guitars, lobby cards, film props and costumes. As described by his biographer Stefan Chirazi, Hammett was a self-described shy kid obsessed with monsters, ghouls, toys, movies and guitars; he first connected with Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein followed by Godzilla, the Mummy and other terrifying creatures that tap into our psychological response to fear. He admits it’s his collection that has primarily sparked his creativity over the years. “The stuff of horror has a mojo that always works on me,” he says. “I start producing ideas…they just flow like liquid.”

(14) PRESCRIPTION ROBOT. “Former MythBuster’s adorable Baby Yoda robot will cheer up sick kids”CNET has a Q&A with the designer.

Baby Yoda captured hearts everywhere when it debuted on Disney Plus Star Wars live action series The Mandalorian. Count former MythBusters cast member Grant Imahara among the fans. He thinks the character’s so cute he built his own life-like animatronic Baby Yoda to cheer up sick kids. 

Imahara currently works as a consultant for Disney Research and a mechanical designer at Spectral Motion. He helped build Disney’s animatronic Spider-Man that will be flying over the upcoming Marvel Campus in Disney’s California Adventure.

“Pleased to present my newest creation: a fully animatronic Baby Yoda,” Imahara posted on his Facebook on Friday. “It’s been three months of hard work and countless revisions. I did all the mechanical design, programming, and 3D printed the molds. He’s currently running a continuous sequence, but soon I’ll be able to trigger specific moods and reactions, as well as incorporate sound.”

To find out more about how this adorable moving animatronic Baby Yoda was created, I chatted with Imahara about what went into building it. Here is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation. 

Q: How did the idea come about to build an animatronic Baby Yoda?
After the third episode of The Mandalorian, I knew I had to make my own Baby Yoda. I was an animatronics engineer in the ILM model shop before MythBusters, and worked on the Star Wars prequels as well as the Energizer Bunny, so I had the required skill set. And it could be a character I could bring to children’s hospitals for charity work, which is something I’ve been committed to doing.

(15) GIBSON BOOK REVIEWED. Thomas J. Millay explains “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love a Superintelligent AI: On Wiliam Gibson’s ‘Agency’” at LA Review of Books.

NEUROMANCER, COUNT ZERO, Mona Lisa Overdrive; Virtual Light, Idoru, All Tomorrow’s Parties; Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, Zero History: William Gibson works in threes. Agency is the second novel of what is almost certainly going to be a trilogy. The first novel, titled The Peripheral, was a New York Times best seller notable for its heady mixture of drone manipulation, time travel, apocalypse, and alternate history, all these devices being combined in a narrative prose precise in its physical and technological descriptions. Given the novel’s formal innovations and literary qualities, it is the pace of The Peripheral that is most remarkable, with Gibson moving readers rapidly toward the novel’s utopian conclusion, in thriller-like fashion….

(16) ZONING OUT. When you live near a radio telescope, it turns out you have to give up certain things. The New York Times takes you there: “No Cell Signal, No Wi-Fi, No Problem. Growing Up Inside America’s ‘Quiet Zone’”.

…Welcome to Green Bank, population 143, where Wi-Fi is both unavailable and banned and where cellphone signals are nonexistent.

The near radio silence is a requirement for those living close to the town’s most prominent and demanding resident, the Green Bank Observatory, home to the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope. To protect the sensitive equipment from interference, the federal government in 1958 established the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000-square-mile area near the state’s border with Virginia.

The observatory’s telescope “could detect your phone on Saturn in airplane mode,” states a sign outside its science center building, but is rendered much weaker if anyone uses electronics that emit radio waves. For those who live within 10 miles of the observatory, the limitations also include a ban on Bluetooth devices and microwaves, unless they are contained in a metal box, known as a Faraday cage, which blocks electromagnetic fields.

Nearly 15 million Americans live in sparsely populated communities where there is no broadband internet service at all, a stark digital divide across America between those with access to uber-fast connections and those with none.

(17) COUNTRIES REJECT ‘ONWARD’ OVER GAY CHARACTER. BBC reports “Pixar’s Onward ‘banned by four Middle East countries’ over gay reference”.

Pixar’s latest animation Onward has been banned by several Middle Eastern countries because of a reference to lesbian parents, according to reports.

The family film will not be shown in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Hollywood media have reported.

Police officer Specter, voiced by Lena Waithe, has been heralded as Disney-Pixar’s first openly gay character.

Her lines include: “It’s not easy being a parent… my girlfriend’s daughter got me pulling my hair out, OK?”

Other Middle East countries like Bahrain, Lebanon and Egypt are showing the film.

And according to Deadline, Russia censored the scene in question by changing the word “girlfriend” to “partner” and avoiding mentioning the gender of Specter, who is a supporting character.

Speaking to Variety, Waithe explained that the line about “my girlfriend” was her idea.

And Variety’s story about it is here.

(18) MMM-MMM-BAD? BBC inquires “Why plastic is a deadly attraction for sea turtles”.

Scientists have new evidence to explain why plastic is dangerous to sea turtles: the animals mistake the scent of plastic for food.

Thus, a plastic bag floating in the sea not only looks like a jellyfish snack, but it gives off a similar odour.

This “olfactory trap” might help explain why sea turtles are prone to eating and getting entangled in plastic, say US researchers.

…Garbage patches

Once plastic has been released into the ocean, microbes, algae, plants and tiny animals start to colonise it and make it their home. This creates food-like odours, which have been shown to be a magnet for fish and possibly sea birds. The new research suggests sea turtles are attracted to plastic for the same reason.

(19) LOOK UP AND SAY CHEESE. “Space radar movies track motion on Earth’s surface” – the BBC coverage features several short sample clips.

Satellite operator Iceye is now making videos that can show the Earth’s surface through cloud and at night.

The short, 20-second movies are an extension of the standard still radar images it already produces.

In the examples released by the Finnish company on Monday, planes are seen taxiing across Britain’s Heathrow airport and heavy plant vehicles are observed working in a Utah mine.

The videos are said to be a first for a commercial space operator.

Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) technology is already appreciated for its ability to “see” the ground irrespective of the weather or lighting conditions. Retrieving motion in a scene literally now gives Iceye’s products another dimension, says CEO Rafal Modrzewski.

(20) WHO NEEDS GOOGLE? Patrick Stewart answers the web’s most searched questions for WIRED.

“Star Trek: Picard” star Patrick Stewart takes the WIRED Autocomplete Interview and answers the internet’s most searched questions about himself. How did Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen meet? Was Patrick in Harry Potter? How many awards has he won? Does he own a vineyard? Sir Patrick answers all these questions and much, much more.

[Thanks to Standback, Cat Eldridge, Rich Horton, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Andrew Liptak, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]