Pixel Scroll 11/4/22 All Hearts Is Turned To Gizzards

(1) ABOUT THE BIRD. Neil Clarke, Editor of Clarkesworld, tweeted a series of thoughtful insights in reply to the current anxiety about Twitter’s future as a vehicle for marketing short fiction magazines. Thread starts here. Excerpts follow.

(2) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to munch Carnitas Benedict with the award-winning Michael Swanwick in Episode 184 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Michael Swanwick

Michael has won five Hugo Awards and three Locus Awards, as well as a Nebula, World Fantasy, and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award — plus has been nominated for and lost more of these major awards than any other writer. His novels include Vacuum FlowersStations of the Tide, and Bones of the Earth, plus his most recent, City Under the Stars, a novel co-authored with the late Gardner Dozois. He’s also published a baker’s dozen of short story collections over the past three decades, starting with Gravity’s Angels in 1991 and most recently Not So Much Said the Cat in 2016, as well as the 118 short stories included in The Periodic Table of Science Fiction, one per each element. His recent novel The Iron Dragon’s Mother completed a trilogy begun with The Iron Dragon’s Daughter in 1993, which was named a New York Times Notable Book. Two of his short stories — “Ice Age” and “The Very Pulse of the Machine” — were adapted for the Netflix series Love, Death + Robots.

We discussed his response to learning a reader of his was recently surprised to find out he was still alive, how J. R. R. Tolkien turned him into a writer, why it took him 15 years of trying to finally finish his first story, how Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann taught him how to write by taking apart one of his tales and putting it back together again, why it was good luck he lost his first two Nebula Awards the same year, the good advice William Gibson gave him which meant he never had to be anxious about awards again, which friend’s story was so good he wanted to throw his own typewriter out the window in a rage, the novel he abandoned writing because he found the protagonists morally repugnant, why he didn’t want to talk about Playboy magazine, the truth behind a famous John W. Campbell, Jr./Robert Heinlein anecdote, and much more.

(3) NEW YORK STATE OF MIND. Chris Barkley, Astronomicon GoH, is a newsmaker on CBS affiliate WROC as “Sci-fi convention ‘Astronomicon’ returns to Rochester”.

…Various authors and artists are invited to come to the event, including Chris Barkley who is Astronomincon’s guest fan of honor this year.

“Science fiction conventions have been around for much longer than people think. Most people believe the mythology that Star Trek conventions were the beginning start of science fiction conventions. No, the first science fiction conventions actually took place in the 1930s, 1936. And the first World Science Fiction Convention took place in New York City in 1939,” Barkley said….

(4) LOTS OF POSSIBILITIES. At The New Yorker, Stephanie Burt asks if the Multiverse is where originality goes to die or if it unlocks new storytelling possibilities. Includes references to Leinster and Stapleton (and Borges) with quotes from Sanifer. “Is the Multiverse Where Originality Goes to Die?”.

…All these multiverses might add up to nothing good. If all potential endings come to pass, what are the consequences of anything? What matters? Joe Russo, the co-director of “Endgame,” has warned that multiverse movies amount to “a money printer” that studios will never turn off; the latest one from Marvel, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” a sloppily plotted heap of special effects notable for its horror tropes, cameos, and self-aware dialogue, has earned nearly a billion dollars at the box office. This year, Marvel Studios announced the launch of “The Multiverse Saga,” a tranche of movies and TV shows that features sequels and trequels, along with the fifth and sixth installments of the “Avengers” series. (“Endgame,” it turns out, was not the end of the game.) Warner Bros. has released MultiVersus, a video game in which Batman can fight Bugs Bunny, and Velma, from “Scooby-Doo,” can fight Arya Stark, from “Game of Thrones.” Even A24, a critically admired independent film studio, now counts a multiverse movie, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (2022), as its most profitable film.

There’s a reason that studios plan to spend billions of dollars—more than the economic output of some countries—to mass-produce more of the multiverse: tens of millions of people will spend time and money consuming it. Is the rise of the multiverse the death of originality? Did our culture take the wrong forking path? Or has the multiverse unlocked a kind of storytelling—familiar but flexible, entrancing but evolving—that we genuinely need?

Andrew (not Werdna) dissents on one count: “I wouldn’t consider Endgame to be a multiverse movie.”

(5) PERSONAL WORLDS. At the Guardian, Tom Shone uses Avatar as a takeoff point for an interesting article about worldbuilding and paracosms: “’Storytelling has become the art of world building’: Avatar and the rise of the paracosm”.

…Developmental psychologists have their own vocabulary for what [James] Cameron was up to in math class. His teenage dream of Pandora was somewhere between a heterocosm – the imaginary world of an adult author intended for publication such as Thomas Hardy’s Wessex or Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast – and a paracosm, an imaginary world conjured by a child that, in its original form, is almost entirely private. Usually begun between ages six and 12, they seem to be linked to all the private clubhouses, hidden rituals and secret societies of middle childhood, in that they are maintained over a period of time, sometimes years, as the child builds a logically consistent, satisfyingly complete alternative universe for themselves. They tend to peter out with adolescence, about 12 or 14.

Many cultural figures have been drawn to these imaginary worlds. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his sister, for example, shared a secret language and addressed one another as “King” and “Queen” of their fictional kingdom. The Brontës imagined an “infernal world” of Byronic villains and architectural majesty. CS Lewis made up a land of animals where cats acted like the knights of the round table. Robert Louis Stevenson drew maps. JRR Tolkien invented languages, while the Polish science-fiction writer Stanisław Lem issued fake passports. Friedrich Nietzsche and his sister Elisabeth created an imaginary world revolving around an inch-and-a-half-tall porcelain squirrel. “Everything that my brother made was in honour of King Squirrel; all his musical productions were to glorify His Majesty; on his birthday poems were recited and plays acted, all of which were written by my brother.”

Today, the Nietzsches would be show-runners with a deal with Apple+ to write and direct their own long-running King Squirrel series (“From the mind that brought you Thus Spake Zarathustra and the studio that brought you God is Dead: A CSI investigation …”).

(6) HORROR FOR LAUGHS. At the Guardian, Rich Pelley interviews Garth Marenghi (a.k.a. comedian Matthew Holness) from the British cult TV show Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace“Garth Marenghi: ‘Many writers cite me as an influence … and I will be suing them all’”

Anyway, you’re back with brand new horror book Garth Marenghi’s TerrorTome. Apparently it’s been 30 years in the making. How come it took so long?
[Wiping anti-bacterial gel into hands] The nature of time has been the main issue. Seconds and minutes quickly form themselves into hours, transmuting by degrees into days, weeks, months and, ultimately, years. Before you know it, decades have elapsed. The essential issue was the ever passing of time between the commencement and conclusion-ment of my task.

Would it have been quicker had you bothered to learn how to type with more than two fingers?
Writing balls-to-the-walls horror is extremely physical. Typing with more than two fingers is counterproductive for any horror writer; you need to concentrate your strength on two fingers alone. I get quite hard when I write, so the best way to channel that energy is by banging – bang, bang, bang. If you type with your hands dancing all over the keyboard [mimes touch-typing], you’re essentially rubbing without release. It’s far more potent to jab….

(7) THE LAST ROUNDUP. “HBO Cancels ‘Westworld’ in Shock Decision”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

…The network has decided to cancel the sci-fi drama after its recent fourth season.

It’s an unexpected fate for a series that was once considered one of HBO’s biggest tentpoles — an acclaimed mystery-box drama that racked up 54 Emmy nominations (including a supporting actress win for Thandiwe Newton).

… Yet linear ratings for the pricey series fell off sharply for its third season, and then dropped even further for season four. Westworld’s critic average on Rotten Tomatoes likewise declined from the mid-80s for its first two seasons to the mid-70s for the latter two. Fans increasingly griped that the show had become confusing and tangled in its mythology and lacked characters to root for. Looming over all of this is the fact Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has pledged aggressive cost-cutting, though network insiders maintain that saving money was not a factor in the show’s cancellation….

(8) SHE REALIZED HER DREAM. Fanac.org has posted a video interview, “Maggie Thompson:  Before, During and After the Origins of Comics Fandom”, in two parts. Maggie Thompson has the unique distinction of being a second generation science fiction fan, one of the architects of comics fandom in the early 60s, and is a much-revered professional in the comics field.  She is interviewed by Dr. Chris Couch.

Part 1: In this absolutely delightful interview, Maggie talks about her lifelong experiences with science fiction, science fiction fandom, and popular culture. From her early love of the Oz books and her delight in John Campbell’s magazine Unknown, to her convention and masquerade experiences, to her professional successes, Maggie’s anecdotes are engrossing. There are great stories here – how she acquired her complete set of Unknowns, the origins of her publications Comic Art and Newfangles, the family connection to Walt Kelly (and the Pogo comic strip), her friendship with Carl Barks, and more.

Endearingly, when asked as a child what she wanted to be when she grew up, Maggie answered “I want to be a BNF” (Big Name Fan). She has certainly accomplished that ambition. 



Part 2: In this part of the interview by Dr. Chris Couch, we learn more about Maggie Thompson and her influence on comics. With husband Don Thompson, she published fanzines Comic Art and Newfangles, and went on to edit The Comics Buyer’s Guide and others. Maggie is a respected professional in the field and has been recognized with many awards, including the Eisner, the Harvey, the Inkpot, and the Jack Kirby awards.

Continuing this absolutely delightful interview, Maggie talks about her segue into the professional field, the end of Newfangles and the start of the The Comic Buyers Guide. The engrossing anecdotes continue, with the nature of cosmopolitan Iola, Wisconsin,  her articulation of “perpetual but non-exclusive rights”, Dark Shadows, and the Done in One label for comics.  There are stories of some of the field’s great figures, including Harlan Ellison, Stan Lee, and Carl Barks.  You’ll see questions from the audience as well. 

After decades of furious activity in science fiction and comics, Maggie remains bubbling and full of enthusiasm for her chosen community. There was no need to ask Maggie what keeps her involved—the answers are more than clear. 

(9) THE SUCCESSOR TO SMALL, CUTE ROBOTS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I saw this documentary about the rover Opportunity tonight. The film has very good special effects from ILM. But people should know the film, as the trailer points out, tries to turn the rover into Wall-E (“She” “has a face”). I would have liked at least five minutes about the science Opportunity discovered instead of having NASA people who have spent too much time in media training talk about how brave the robot was. *Sigh* “Good Night Oppy – Official Trailer”.

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1983 [By Cat Eldridge.] Poul Anderson’s Orion Shall Rise (1983) 

There was a man called Mael the Red who dwelt in Ar-Mor. That was the far western end of Brezh, which was itself the far western end of the Domain. Seen from those parts, Skyholm gleamed low in the east, often hidden by trees or hills or clouds, and showed little more than half the width of a full moon. Yet folk looked upon it with an awe that was sometimes lacking in those who saw it high and huge. — first words of Orion Shall Rise

Some novels I really like. Such is the case with Poul Anderson’s Orion Shall Rise. By now, I must’ve read it at least a dozen times.

It was first issued by Phantasia Press Inc., a small publisher created  by Sidney Altus and Alex Berman. (This I did not know having, the Timescape Books from 1983.) They published short-run, hardcover limited editions of science fiction and fantasy books with an emphasis L. Sprague de Camp C. J. Cherryh, Philip José Farmer, and Alan Dean Foster. It was lasted from 1978 to 1989.

The book is said to be part of his Maurai series which really is a bit of lie. There are is only three more stories in total, “The Sky People”, “Progress” and “Windmill” I wonder if he meant to write more, but didn’t.  And yes, the Maurai world is visited by the time-traveling character of There Will Be Time.

SPOILERS BEWARE ARE SWIMMING AROUND, AND FLYING TOO

The novel is set apparently several hundred years after a devastating nuclear war which has set back civilization on Earth from a technology viewpoint. and vastly reduced the population as well, by billions it seems. Most of the planet has no advanced technology at all, and The Maurai Federation, the radically anti-technology society in the Pacific Ocean region, is dominated by the Maurai peoples of N’Zealann.

Meanwhile on the other side of the planet, the Domain of Skyholm, a class-based European society, rules over much of lower Europe from their pre-war dirigible aerostat.

Let’s not forget the Northwest Union, a clan-based society based in Pacific Northwest is the most technologically advanced and, and here comes the major spoiler — I did warn you, didn’t I? — they’ve been scavenging pre-War nuclear material to fuel the Orion class starship they have been constructing.

NOW BACK YO MY IMPRESSIONS

So why do I like the Orion Shall Rise so much? Well the story writing is damn perfect and doesn’t slip up at all. I do wish that Anderson had indeed written an actual Maurai series as there’s much here that could’ve been expanded upon.

There is one other thing that is wonderful and that is his characters. It is quite obvious to me that he loves his characters here, so let me quote a lengthy description of one early on:

Clansman was unmistakable. Even his clothes – loose-fitting shirt beneath a cowled jacket, tight-fitting trousers, low boots – were of different cut from their linen and woolen garb, and of finer material. At his ornate belt, next to a knife, hung a pistol; a rifle was sheathed at his saddlebow; and these were modern rapid-fire weapons. His coat bore silver insignia of rank on the shoulders, an emblem of a gold star in a blue field on the left sleeve. Before all else, his body proclaimed what he was. He sat tall and slender, with narrow head and countenance, long straight nose, large gray eyes, thin lips, fair complexion but dark hair that hung barely past his ears and was streaked with white. Though he went clean-shaven in the manner of his people, one could see that his beard would be sparse. He carried himself with pride rather than haughtiness, and smiled as he lifted an arm in greeting.

Everything here feels right, feels alive. I truly regret that was never told in an oral form as its sounds so much like a spoken tale.

It is available from the usual suspects. The Timescape trade edition is available, errr, new for just ten dollars on Amazon. They must have a time machine sitting around. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 4, 1912 Wendayne Ackerman. Wife of Forrest J Ackerman in the Forties. After eight years of marriage, she and FJA divorced but remained friends and companions. Later she translated the German language Perry Rhodan books he acquired for English-language publication. (Died 1990.)
  • November 4, 1934Gregg Calkins. Writer, Editor, and Fan. Mike Glyer’s tribute to him reads: “Longtime fan Gregg Calkins died July 31, 2017 after suffering a fall. He was 82. Gregg got active in fandom in the Fifties and his fanzine Oopsla (1952-1961) is fondly remembered. He was living in the Bay Area and serving as the Official Editor of FAPA when I applied to join its waitlist in the Seventies. He was Fan GoH at the 1976 Westercon. Calkins later moved to Costa Rica. In contrast to most of his generation, he was highly active in social media, frequently posting on Facebook where it was his pleasure to carry the conservative side of debates. He is survived by his wife, Carol.” (Died 2017.)
  • November 4, 1953Kara Dalkey, 69. Writer of YA fiction and historical fantasy. She is a member of the Pre-Joycean Fellowship (which if memory serves me right includes both Emma Bull and Stephen Brust) and the Scribblies. Her works include The Sword of SagamoreSteel RoseLittle Sister and The Nightingale. And her Water trilogy blends together Atlantean and Arthurian mythologies. She’s been nominated for the Mythopoeic and Tiptree Awards.
  • November 4, 1953Stephen Jones, 69.  Editor, and that is putting quite mildly, as he went well over the century mark in edited anthologies quoted sometime ago. The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror accounts for seventeen volumes by itself and The Mammoth Book of (Pick A Title) runs for at least another for another dozen. He also, no surprise, to me, has authored a number of horror reference works such as The Art of Horror Movies: An Illustrated HistoryBasil Copper: A Life in Books and H. P. Lovecraft in Britain. He has also done hundreds of essays, con reports, obituaries and such showing up, well, just about everywhere.
  • November 4, 1957Jody Lynn Nye, 66. She’s best known for collaborating with Robert Asprin on the ever so excellent  MythAdventures series.  Since his death, she has continued that series and she is now also writing sequels to his Griffen McCandle series as well. She’s got a space opera series, The Imperium, out which sounds intriguing. And she has written novels with Travis Taylor, Moon Beam and Moon Tracks.
  • November 4, 1958Nancy Springer, 64. May I recommend her Tales of Rowan Hood series of which her Rowan Hood: Outlaw Girl of Sherwood Forest is a most splendid revisionist telling of that legend? And her Enola Holmes Mysteries are a nice riffing off of the Holmsiean mythos. She won an Otherwise Award for her Larque on the Wing novel. The Oddling Prince came out several years ago on Tachyon. 
  • November 4, 1958Lani Tupu, 64. He’d be here just for being Crais and the voice of the Pilot on the Farscape series but he’s actually been in several other genre undertakings including the 1989 Punisher as Laccone, and  Gordon Standish in Robotropolis. He also had roles in Tales of the South SeasTime Trax and The Lost World. All of which we can guess were filmed in Australia. Lastly, he appears in the Australian remake of the Mission: Impossible series which if you haven’t seen it is quite excellent. I just found it in DVD format sometime in the past several years.
  • November 4, 1960John Vickery, 62. In Babylon 5, he played Neroon which is where I remember him from as he was a Right Bastard there.  His major Trek universe role was as Rusot, a member of Damar’s Cardassian resistance group, appearing in the DS9 episodes “The Changing Face of Evil”, “When It Rains…” and “Tacking Into the Wind”.  He also played a Betazoid in Next Gen’s “Night Terrors” and a Klingon in Enterprise‘s “Judgment” episode. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) QUANTUM OF KNOWLEDGE. Available to watch now, a Quantum Week webinar exploring the forthcoming quantum technology revolution: “Perspectives on societal aspects and impacts of quantum technologies” at Physics World. The participants are listed with brief bios at the link.

Quantum science and technology is advancing and evolving rapidly and, in the last decade, has shifted from foundational scientific exploration to adoption by commercial and government organizations. It is essential that scrutiny and guidance is applied to this quantum revolution to bring other societal stakeholders onboard and ensure that the benefits can be maximized for all society.

What considerations exist for quantum technologies? How should we engage as a society in the future, as promised and created by this emerging sector? We will discuss some key questions that will shape the forthcoming quantum technology revolution.

(14) FROM THE VAULT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Charles Schulz tells the BBC’s Peter France about the importance of perseverance and draws a strip with Snoopy in this 1977 BBC clip that dropped today.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “She-Hulk Pitch Meeting,” Ryan George says She-Hulk is “one of the most meta” Disney Plus shows ever.  It has a gratuitous twerking scene with Megan Thee Stallion which is put in there “to rile up angry internet dudus, and then we’re going to make fun of them for getting angry.” This is the show where She-Hulk smashes into the show’s writer’s room, demands they produce better scripts, and then meets the writers’ boss, who is not Kevin Feige.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/16/22 I Can Scroll Clearly Now The Pixel’s Come, I Can See All Comments Now In This Thread, Gone Are The Strange Trolls That Spoiled My View, It’s Going To Be Bright, Bright, Bright Pixelly Scroll

(1) WISCON HANGS IN THE BALANCE. WisCon not only is trying to recruit people for leadership, their blog says the fate of their 2023 event depends on whether the positons are filled by November 30. “Co-Chair and Online Con Leads needed to have in-person, online events in 2023”.

…Last week Stephanie [Sarac] announced she would be stepping down as co-chair for WisCon 46 in 2023. Please join us in thanking Stephanie for all the hard work she did on the post-con survey, Guest of Honor nominations, and department outreach/coordination as co-chair. We’re really grateful for her willingness to jump into things after having only attended WisCon one time!

…In the interest of transparency, we want to let you all know that if the open Co-Chair position isn’t filled by end of November, the in-person con will be cancelled.  It is possible we may still do an Online-only con in that scenario, but that depends on a number of other variables.  If we’re able to fill the Co-Chair position but aren’t able to recruit Online Con Department lead(s), the con will be in-person only (we won’t be able to have online or hybrid programming). In either scenario of in-person and/or online con not being able to happen, we will use that time to build up departments, train up leads and chairs, fundraise, and put ourselves in the best possible position for a full event the following year.

(2) THE NEXT FANAC.ORG ZOOM. Fanac.org will host an interview with Maggie Thompson titled “Before, During and After the Origins of Comics Fandom,” with interviewer Dr. Chris Couch on Sunday October 30 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern.  To attend the Zoom session, send a request to Edie Stern, the FANAC webmaster at [email protected].

A list of past sessions, which are all available on FANAC’s Fan History YouTube channel, go to https://fanac.org/zoom.html.

(3) SIMPLE ANSWER. Dorothy Grant has sound answers to the question “What do you have to read in order to write in a genre?” at Mad Genius Club. Similar to what Larry Niven says, that a writer must read widely in order to “stock the shelves” of the imagination.

This question was posed elsewhere, and responses were quick to make fun of mandatory reading, and of “Reading The Classics”. I, on the other hand, propose a different answer.

There is no have to. Do I look like your abuela? But here is what you should do, in order to improve:

Read widely. Read deeply. Read the critically-acclaimed successes. Read the high-selling works the critics declaimed as Trash or Merely Pulp….

(4) EYES LOCKED ON. Joachim Boaz considers TV in “Future Media Short Story Review: Ray Bradbury’s ‘Almost the End of the World’ (1957)” at Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations.

…Ray Bradbury conjures a strange new world without television….

.. Ray Bradbury’s “Almost the End of the World” first appeared in The Reporter (December 26, 1957). It later appeared in his short story collection The Day It Rained Forever (1959). If you have an Internet Archive account, you can read it online here.

In multiple earlier reviews in this series, I’ve laid out television’s transformative and speedy infiltration of the American consciousness and daily activities over the course of the 1950s. Multiple Bradbury stories critique this new world. The lovely and crystalline “The Pedestrian” (1951) imagined a future night city in which its denizens are transfixed by their TV scenes. The city, observed by the solitary one-time writer Leonard Mead, is as silent as “a wintry, windless Arizona country” (90). “Almost the End of the World” (1957) ruminates on the effects on American society if a cosmic event severs the viewer from the succor of the screen….

(5) BILL AT 91. “William Shatner talks growing older, living life without regrets” in a Yahoo! interview about his new memoir, Boldly Go.

You write in your book about when you first told your parents that you wanted to be an actor. Did they live long enough to see your success?

[When I told them], they looked at me like, “Who are you? Where did you come from? What’s acting again? Isn’t that what a minstrel does?” [Laughs] I think my father must have thought, because he came from Europe to Montreal when he was about 9 or 10 … that his son wanted to be on a horse and wagon roaming across the country.

My father was around when Star Trek began [in 1966]. He died in 1968. I don’t how much of a success I was then, but I was making a living. My mother lived until a few years ago, so she saw that success. The success part wasn’t as [important to them] as long as I could make a living. And that varied as time went on, and as more and more children arrived. The definition of what a living was increased.

(6) CHAN DAVIS APPRECIATION.  [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Alan Wald, H. Chandler Davis Collegate Professor at the University of Michigan, remembers the sf writer Chan Davis, who died last month at 96. “H. Chandler Davis Was a Lifelong Radical and a Moral Touchstone for the Left” at Jacobin.

Chandler Davis (born Horace Chandler Davis and called “Chan” by his friends) was an internationally esteemed mathematician, a minor science fiction writer of note, and among the most celebrated political prisoners in the United States during the years of the high Cold War.

Dismissed from the University of Michigan (U-M) in 1954 for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) on First Amendment grounds, he served six months in Danbury Federal Correctional Institution in Connecticut, then faced an academic blacklist that drove him to pursue a career in Canada.

The death of this endlessly resilient, lifelong radical at the age of ninety-six on September 24 in Toronto seems like the passing of an emissary from a world of the socialist Left that no longer exists. Despite errors of political judgment, which Chan was the first to acknowledge, he was for many of us a moral touchstone in our own decades of political upheaval and unpredictability….

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1959 [By Cat Eldridge.] The Twilight Zone’s “Mr. Denton On Doomsday” (1959)

Portrait of a town drunk named Al Denton. This is a man who’s begun his dying early—a long, agonizing route through a maze of bottles. Al Denton, who would probably give an arm or a leg or a part of his soul to have another chance, to be able to rise up and shake the dirt from his body and the bad dreams that infest his consciousness. In the parlance of the times, this is a peddler, a rather fanciful-looking little man in a black frock coat. And this is the third principal character of our story. Its function: perhaps to give Mr. Al Denton his second chance. — Opening narration

Rod Serling was, if I must say so, bloody brilliant. And “Mr. Denton On Doomsday”, just the third episode of this series, shows this. (If you’ve not seen it of late, the series it is airing on Paramount +.) A Western, it’s also really look at how a man, two in fact can be redeemed.

SPOILERS LIKE WHISKEY IN A FICTIONAL WESTERN BAR FLOW NOW, SO GO AWAY!

Denton, our lead here played  by Dan Duryea, was once known as the quickest draw in town, but riddled with increasing guilt over the dead in his gun fights, one just a teenager, he became drunk and the derision of everyone in this Western town.

(There’s an animated Jonah Hex where this very storyline comes up. It’s called DC Showcase: Jonah Hex and Jonah, when the way-too-young male draws on him, hits with his rifle and knocks him quite unconscious. Right now, I think the only place you can see that is HBO Max.) 

A stranger offers him redemption. But he knows gunslingers come from miles around to seek him out and, inevitably, kill him. Or so he fervently hopes. The stranger named Fate (HA!) offers him and another gunfighter each a bottle of the potion. 

They fight, do not kill each other, but wound their shooting hand, thus ending their days as gunslingers. 

Fate tips his hat to Denton and rides quietly out of town.

DRINK UP, I’M DONE WITH SPOILERS. REALLY, I AM.

Martin Landau who played Dan Hotaling (the younger gunslinger) here would return to play Major Ivan Kuchenko in “The Jeopardy Room” which I’ve already essayed. He would also appear in two more Twilight Zone episodes, “The Beacon” and “One Life, Furnished in Early Poverty”. 

The harmonica music you hear in the background is an old Russian folksong known as “Stenka Razin”.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 16, 1924 David Armstrong. He appeared in two Trek episodes, “A Taste of Armageddon” as a guard to the Eminiar, uncredited of course, and as Kartan in “Operation – Annihilate!” and, though having a name, also uncredited according to Memory Alpha. He also had an amazing twenty-two appearances on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. where he was only credited when he showed as Thrushman, which must have been some sort of inside joke. Genre roles were common for him — I SpyGet Smart!The InvadersThe Girl from U.N.C.L.E. and Kolchak were all where he showed up. (Died 2016.)
  • Born October 16, 1925 Dame Angela Brigid Lansbury. She first shows up in a genre work as Sibyl Vane in The Picture of Dorian Gray. A few years later, she’s Queen Anne of France in The Three Musketeers. Somewhat later, she’s Miss Eglantine Price in Bedknobs and Broomsticks. She voices Mommy Fortuna in The Last Unicorn, and is Granny in A Company of Wolves which won the BSFA Award for Best Film and is based off Angela Carter’s A Company of Wolves. And yes, she’s in Mary Poppins Returns as The Balloon Lady. (Died 2022.)
  • Born October 16, 1926 Joe Sinnott. He worked primarily as an inker. He is best remembered for his work on the Fantastic Four from the Sixties to into the Eighties, with it being first over the pencils of Jack Kirby. He worked, mostly as a freelancer, some sixty years at Marvel, where he had long runs on The AvengersThe Defenders and Thor. And yes, he deserved many an Award  — the Alley Award, the  Inkpot Award, the Will Eisner Hall of Fame, the Inkwell Awards Hall of Fame and finally the Retro Inkwell Awards Favorite Inker. (Died 2020.)
  • Born October 16, 1947 Guy Siner, 75. Apparently he’s one of only 32 actors to appear in both the Star Trek and Doctor Who franchises. He appeared in the “Genesis of the Daleks”, a Fourth Doctor story, and on Enterprise in the “Silent Enemy” episode. Interestingly he shows up on Babylon 5 as well in “Rumors, Bargains and Lies”.  And that might place him in very select acting company indeed.
  • Born October 16, 1958 Tim Robbins, 64. I think his finest role was as Nuke LaLoosh in Bull Durham, but his first genre role was Phil Blumburtt in Howard the Duck. He played Erik in Erik the Viking, and is in The Shawshank Redemption as Andy Dufresne. He’s Woodrow “Woody” Blake in Mission to Mars. He was Harlan Ogilvy in War of the Worlds followed by being Senator Robert Hammond in Green Lantern
  • Born October 16, 1965 Joseph Mallozzi, 57. He is most noted for his work on the Stargate series. He joined the Stargate production team at the start of Stargate SG-1’s fourth season in 2000. He was a writer and executive producer for all three Stargate series. He also co-created the Dark Matter comic book series with Paul Mullie that became a Syfy series. 
  • Born October 16, 1973 Eva Röse, 49. Most likely best known for her role as the android Niska in Season 1 of the Swedish Real Humans upon which AMC’s Humans was based. She also was one of the voice cast for the animated Creepschool series, and was Jasmie on The Befallen, a supernatural series that lasted one season there. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

Tom Gauld blends literary analysis with psychoanalysis.

(10) THE GHOSTS OF COMICS PAST. “When DC Seriously Tried to Prove Bob Kane Wasn’t Actually Drawing Batman” – a “Comic Legend” history piece by Brian Cronin.

COMIC LEGEND:

Mort Weisinger tried to prove that Bob Kane wasn’t actually drawing his Batman comics when Kane added Lew Sayre Schwartz as his ghost in 1948

STATUS:

True

A while back, I wrote about the peculiar situation when it came to Bob Kane’s ghosts on the Batman comic books heading into the 1960s. The majority of the artwork being done for Batman comic books throughout the 1950s and 1960s was by “Bob Kane,” but obviously, for that much artwork to be produced, no one believed that Bob Kane was doing it all himself. As it turned out, by the mid-1950s, Kane wasn’t doing it at ALL, with Sheldon Moldoff doing ALL of the work that was credited to Kane…

(11) AN EARLY FILER. [Noted by John Hertz.]

Plutarch grappled with … the import of the word E’i inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. In Greek it can mean “Five”; it can mean “If”: but above all it means “Thou Art”.

M.A. Screech, intr. to Montaigne’s Apology for Raymond Sebond p. xxix (1993)

(12) GETTING WHAT THEY DESERVE? Molly Odintz reviews books by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Stephen Graham Jones at CrimeReads: “These Books Prove We’re Living In a Golden Age of Horror”.

…There are several converging factors for the rise in horror. First, we can’t underestimate the impact of Jordan Peele or the film Midsommar on the trends of social horror and folk horror, respectively. We apparently now wish to not only watch what we want to read, but read what we want to watch. Second, horror fiction, like crime fiction, is a vastly more diverse landscape than just a few years ago, and a genre that I’d previously stereotyped as full of fear of the other (sorry, Stephen King!) is now distinguished by sympathy for the other. Third, we’ve all gotten far more interested in haunted houses since we became forced to spend every waking hour in them. And fourth, people have simply gotten worse, and it is correspondingly more satisfying to watch them die (hence the return of the slasher)….

(13) ALSO ON CRIMEREADS. Michael Gonzales looks at the 1968 sf film Wild In The Streets. “Rock & Roll Apocalypse: ‘Wild in the Streets’”.

…It was during one of my Saturday night movie marathons that I first saw the politically charged sci-fi satire Wild in the Streets (1968), a flick about a bugged-out alternative America guided by an insane pop star named Max Frost, his band mates The Troops and the millions of fans. Twenty-two-year-old Max despised anyone over 30, and throughout the film worked hard to get rid of mature adults who were “stiff with age.” Played with crazed charisma by method actor Christopher Jones, a southern mumbler who critics compared to James Dean, Max Frost began his mission by partnering with a youngish (thirty-seven years old) congressman who helped him by getting the voting age lowered to fourteen…. 

(14) EYE OPENER. This must be my Mercedes Lackey moment, because our printing “Bulgaria” when it should have been “Croatia” is something I would have thought was more like an easily fixed mistake. Evidently it’s much worse.

(15) LIZARDS IN THE WILD. Check out the rather funny cosplay encounter at “EV Grieve: Saturday’s parting shot”.

A tail of two cities today near Union Square … photo by Derek Berg

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Ryan George discovers that it’s really hard for people in 2022 to explain to the world in 1996 what the metaverse is like. “Time Traveler Discovers The Metaverse – THE FUTURE IS DUMB”.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Michael “Orange Mike” Lowrey, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

Three Guests Cancel MidSouthCon Appearances

The MidSouthCon committee announced today that guests of honor David Mack and Amanda Makepeace, and toastmaster Maggie Thompson, will not be attending the convention. Mack says his decision is due to the convention’s state-imposed Covid policy. Makepeace and Thompson have not specifically commented in social media about their reasons.

MidSouthCon will take place in Memphis, Tennessee from March 25-27. Their Covid-19 Policy requires masks, however, Tennessee state law prohibits them from requiring proof of vaccination or negative covid tests.

Our attendee’s health and safety is our priority. With that, we are following the guidance of our venue and our local, state, and federal authorities. 

1. Masks – per our venue, masks are required for all visitors/guests in all public space, which is any non-guest-room space. All convention attendees will be expected to adhere to this requirement.

2. Vaccinations – per a recent state law passed by our Tennessee legislature, government entities and private businesses in Tennessee are prohibited from requiring proof of vaccination or negative covid tests to employees, patrons, and visitors…

David Mack explained why he withdrew as a GoH on his blog: “I’ve canceled my appearance at MidSouthCon”:

It is with deep regret that I have canceled my appearance as the Author Guest of Honor for this year’s MidSouthCon, because of the impossibility of verifying the vaccination/negative test status of attendees, staff, guests, and volunteers as a condition of attendance.

This would have been my very first time as an Author Guest of Honor at any con, and this invitation meant a great deal to me. However, protecting my health and that of my family against unnecessary risks during a pandemic, especially in the face of an extremely contagious COVID variant such as omicron, must take a higher priority.

I will be reimbursing MidSouthCon for any and all out-of-pocket costs they have incurred on my behalf.

At the time MidSouthCon and I made our plans, we had no idea the pandemic was coming. We certainly could not have known in 2019 that the Tennessee state government would pass a law that actually makes it harder to keep people safe from infection.

That fact is the key difference between this cancellation and the one I announced last week regarding my planned appearance at Farpoint Convention. The state of Maryland has no law at this time that prevents events and venues from requiring proof of vaccination as a condition of entry and/or service. The state of Tennessee, unfortunately, does. Whereas Farpoint could have chosen to apply a stronger standard for the protection of its guests, et al., but chose not to, the concom of MidSouthCon had no such option….

Artist Amanda Makepeace said in a tweet today, “I stressed myself out this weekend over a decision I needed to make. But once I accepted what was in my heart all that worry went away. Staying true to yourself is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.” The timing suggests a connection without limiting other possibilities.

Having had to pull out of two conventions, David Mack took a look ahead to address whether Covid policies would affect his participation in any other. His only upcoming convention appearance is Shore Leave, happening in Hunt Valley, Maryland from July 15–17. Shore Leave has a posted COVID-19 policy that will require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry/service to the convention’s designated areas and functions. Mack says, “As long as that policy remains in effect, I will look forward to attending Shore Leave this summer.”

He also has added a statement to his website’s Contact page that he “will not participate in person at any event held in a state…that legally bars venues and events from requesting proof of vaccination as a condition of entry and service.” Ballotopedia shows that currently includes the states of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

Pixel Scroll 8/26/21 Put Another Dime In The Replicator, Baby!

(1) GET READY. It’s happening September 8: “’Star Trek’ Reveals 55th Anniversary Plans With ‘Star Trek’ Day Celebration”, and  Uproxx tells fans what to expect.

Not only is the iconic science-fiction series Star Trek living long and prospering — it’s having a pretty great time while it does. To help celebrate the series 55th year around the sun, CBS has announced the network is hosting a live-streamed Star Trek day celebration on September 8 starting at 5:30 pm PT. According to the description uploaded alongside the event’s trailer, the show will not only be a celebration of Star Trek’s legacy but will also provide fans with some “surprise announcements and reveals” as well as some exclusive new footage.

The Star Trek Day celebration will be hosted by The Next Generation star Wil Wheaton and actress/host/all-around geek icon Mica Burton. Together, the pair will hold “back-to-back in-person conversations” with members of the cast and crew of Star Trek shows, past and present, with particular emphasis on the future of the franchise. The event will also include a live orchestra performance by Jeff Russo, some big reveals, and, you guessed it, a whole lot of panels….

(2) LE GUIN FELLOWSHIP AWARDED. Joan Lubin is the 2021 winner of the Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellowship sponsored by UO Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Oregon. [Via Locus Online.].

The intention of the Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellowship is to encourage research within collections in the area of feminist science fiction. The UO Libraries Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) houses the papers of authors Ursula K. Le Guin, Joanna Russ, James Tiptree, Jr., Kate Wilhelm, Suzette Haden Elgin, Sally Miller Gearhart, Kate Elliot, Molly Gloss, Laurie Marks, and Jessica Salmonson, along with Damon Knight. SCUA is also in the process of acquiring the papers of other key feminist science fiction authors.

Fellowship description: This award supports travel for the purpose of research on, and work with, the papers of feminist science fiction authors housed in SCUA. These short-term research fellowships are open to undergraduates, master’s and doctoral students, postdoctoral scholars, college and university faculty at every rank, and independent scholars working in feminist science fiction. In 2022, $3,000 will be awarded to conduct research within these collections. The fellowship selection committee will include representatives from the UO Libraries Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) and selected UO faculty.

(3) HEARING FROM THE SOURCE. Cora Buhlert has unveiled a Fancast Spotlight for So I’m Writing a Novel, an SFF-writing-focused podcast.

Tell us about your podcast or channel.

Well, as I like to say at the start of each episode:

So I’m Writing a Novel is the show where you join me, Oliver Brackenbury, on the journey of writing my next novel, from first ideas all the way to publication & promotion.

In this one-man-reality show I’ll share with you my ever evolving thoughts and feelings on how I write, being a writer, and everything that entails at each stage of the process. I’ll also answer listener questions and, sometimes, interview people who write fiction.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to learn how things are made, and get to know the people making them, then this is the show for you.”

The novel is a sword & sorcery short story cycle, meaning it’s a bunch of short stories following a fifteen year period in my protagonist’s life. Each story can stand alone, but readers are rewarded for reading from first to last.

Similarly I do my best to make each podcast episode work in isolation, providing short recaps as necessary, but starting from the beginning and working your way up will yield greater rewards.

(4) EMMY AWARD WINNERS. “’Love, Death, and Robots’ Season 2 Animation Goes Deeper” at IndieWire.

…In Season 2 of Neflix’s “Love, Death & Robots,” the adult animated anthology from executive producers David Fincher and Tim Miller (“Deadpool”) continued its embrace of survival and immortality in strange dystopian environments. However, there were eight shorts instead of 18 and a greater emphasis on philosophizing, with some directors stepping out of their comfort zones.

Indeed, the sci-fi anthology, produced by Blur Studio for Netflix, so impressed the TV Academy that it was awarded four juried prizes on Wednesday: Robert Valley, production designer (“Ice”); Patricio Betteo, background artist (“Ice”); Dan Gill, stop-motion animator (“All Through the House”); and Laurent Nicholas, character designer (“Automated Customer Service”)….

(5) TIME FOR PLAN B. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Alyssa Rosenberg says that Reminiscence is yet another failed movie about climate change and if Hollywood wants to deal with climate problems they should film Kim Stanley Robinson’s novels. “’Reminiscence’ highlights Hollywood’s inability to address climate change effectively”.

“Reminiscence,” a recent science fiction movie starring Hugh Jackman, takes place in a future Miami that has been transformed by rising sea levels into a new Venice. And yet, “Reminiscence” isn’t really about climate change or the response to it. Instead, the movie fixates on an addictive machine that lets users travel back into their memories. It’s about escape — not adaptation.As such, “Reminiscence” is a great illustration of how strangely passive and defeatist an industry full of Prius early adopters has been about the biggest challenge of our time….

(6) LEARN ABOUT LIGHTSAIL. Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye and members of the LightSail 2 mission team will do a Q&A following the Sailing the Light premiere event on Saturday, August 28, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. Pacific on YouTube.

Sailing the Light tells the story of the LightSail mission, a crowdfunded space science project from The Planetary Society. This groundbreaking mission showed that solar sailing — using the sun’s light to push a spacecraft through space — is a viable propulsion technology for CubeSats. These small, standardized spacecraft are part of a global effort to lower the cost of space exploration. Our LightSail 2 spacecraft, launched 25 June 2019, uses sunlight alone to change its orbit, and is currently operating under an extended mission to further advance solar sailing technology.

(7) DREAM FOUNDRY VIDEOS. More videos from this year’s Flights of Foundry have been released on the Dream Foundry YouTube channel.

(8) ON THE SPOT. In “Maggie’s World 093: Credit” for Comic-Con International: San Diego, Maggie Thompson tracks down the original, non-Disney art that illustrated a story she remembers from long ago:

I was 13. Mom used to buy Woman’s Day magazine (7 cents! cheaper than a comic book!) at the grocery store, and at some point I’d read her copy. The June 1956 issue cover-featured Danny Kaye—but there was also a cover notice about a serial starting in the issue: “Part 1 of a new novel: The GREAT DOG ROBBERY.”

I enjoyed the heck out of that first part—and the three that followed. However, when the novel was later published in book form, I noticed that the pictures I’d loved were missing and that the copyright page had this notice: “The Hundred and One Dalmatians appeared in serial form, with different illustrations, as ‘The Great Dog Robbery’ in Woman’s Day.”

What I didn’t know was who that original artist had been or why the art wasn’t in the book….

Thompson sent these notes along with the link to her post:

Disney’s animated version of Cruella first appeared in 1961’s One Hundred and One Dalmatians, in which she is voiced by Betty Lou Gerson and animated by Marc Davis who together crafted her into an iconic and memorable character. Disney based its version of Cruella on the personality and mannerisms of Tallulah Bankhead, and her long, lanky physical design came from Mary Wickes, who served as her live-action model.

When it came to Cruella, one of the only characters to ever be completely controlled by a single animator, Davis claimed his greatest inspiration was the vocal performance of Betty Lou Gerson.[16] Gerson commented in an interview how Davis incorporated her high cheekbones into Cruella’s face and how closely she had to work with him to perfect “the laugh.”

Marc Davis was the sole animator on Cruella De Vil. During production, Davis claimed her character was partly inspired by Bette Davis (no relation), Rosalind Russell, and Tallulah Bankhead. He took further influence from her voice actress, Betty Lou Gerson, whose cheekbones he added to the character. He later complimented, “[t]hat [her] voice was the greatest thing I’ve ever had a chance to work with. A voice like Betty Lou’s gives you something to do. You get a performance going there, and if you don’t take advantage of it, you’re off your rocker”.[20] While her hair coloring originated from the illustrations in the novel, Davis found its disheveled style by looking “through old magazines for hairdos from 1940 till now”. Her coat was exaggerated to match her oversized personality, and the lining was red because “there’s a devil image involved”

(9) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1957 – Sixty-four years ago, How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss was published. The story was published as a book by Random House, and at approximately the same time in two issues of Redbook. The book has been adapted many times, first as an animated film narrated by Boris Karloff who also provided the Grinch’s voice. Eleven years later, a Halloween prequel titled Halloween Is Grinch Night aired with the Grinch voiced by Hans Conried better known as Snidely Whiplash in Jay Ward’s Dudley Do-Right cartoons.  Since then, there’s been the film starring Jim Carrey, a musical, an animated film with Benedict Cumberbatch voicing him, and a live television adaptation of the musical starring Matthew Morrison. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 26, 1904 Christopher Isherwood. I’ll first note, though not genre, that he wrote Goodbye to Berlin, the semi-autobiographical novel which was the inspiration for Cabaret. Genre wise, he co-wrote Frankenstein: The True Story with Don Bachardy, The Mortmere Stories with Edward Upward, and one short story in the Thirties, “I am Waiting.” (Died 1986.) 
  • Born August 26, 1904 Peter Lorre. Genre appearances included roles in the Verne-inspired movies Around the World in 80 Days, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Five Weeks in a Balloon. In the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea film he was Comm. Lucius Emery, and in an Americanized version of Casino Royale done as a Fifties episode of the Climax! he played LeChiffre. (James Bond was called Jimmy. Shudder!)  He was in Tales of Terror as Montresor in “The Black Cat” story, The Raven as Dr. Adolphus Bedlo and The Comedy of Terrors as Felix Grille. (Died 1964.)
  • Born August 26, 1911 Otto Oscar Binder. He’s  best remembered as the co-creator with Al Plastino of Supergirl and for his many scripts for Captain Marvel Adventures and other stories involving the entire Marvel Family. He was extremely prolific in the comic book industry and is credited with writing over four thousand stories across a variety of publishers under his own name. He also wrote novels, one of which was The Avengers Battle the Earth Wrecker, one of the series created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist and co-plotter Jack Kirby. (Died 1974.)
  • Born August 26, 1940 Peter Cave, 71. Author of three New Avengers novels (House of CardsLast of the Cybernauts and Hostage) and an Invasion: Earth novel as well, The Last Echo
  • Born August 26, 1958 Wanda De Jesus, 63. She’s Estevez in Robocop 2, a film that had its moments but rarely, and she has two other film genre roles, Lexie Moore in Captain Nuke and the Bomber Boys, and Akooshay in Ghosts of Mars. Series wise, she has a number of one-offs including Babylon 5Tales from The DarksideSeaQuest DSVHappily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child and voicing a character on one of the Spider-Man series.
  • Born August 26, 1970 Melissa McCarthy, 51. Yes, I know she was in the rebooted Ghostbusters. Fanboys across the net are still wetting their pants about that film. I’m much more interested in Super Intelligence in which she is playing a character that has an AI who has decided to take over her life. It reminds me somewhat of Naomi Kritzer’s Hugo Award winning “Cat Pictures Please” premise.  (And we are not talking about The Happytime Murders in which she was involved. No, we’re not.) 
  • Born August 26, 1980 Chris Pine, 41. James T. Kirk in the current Trek film franchise; also Steve Trevor in the Wonder Woman film franchise as well as voicing Jack Frost in Rise Of The Guardians. He was Peter Parker / Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse which won a Hugo at Dublin 2019.

(11) BRITISH PROZINE COVER ART. Downthetubes.net shows the book will have a dynamic cover and plenty of fine interior art – as soon as the author figures out how it will be published: “Sneak Peek: Rayguns and Rocketships! a new book by Rian Hughes celebrating the cover art of 1950s and 60s SF”.

Heading to bookshops, soon, hopefully, from Korero Press is Rayguns and Rocketships, a celebration of 1950s and and 1960s British SF paperback cover art, compiled by ace artist, designer and author Rian Hughes.

Although the book has been listed on several booksellers web sites, Rian tells us the project that publication schedule is still to be decided, and may be the focus of a Kickstarter – more news to follow as we get it.

(12) JOCULARITY. Aaron Starr is “Treading Carefully” at Black Gate. So is this supposed to be an example of a successful or unsuccessful lighthearted send-up of a familiar set of social media concerns?

…“Well,” she responded, “what you did write, however well-intentioned, is almost certain to come off as condescending and simplistic to the people in question.” My representative snorted dismissively at this, rolling his eyes silently as she continued. “Many of these cultures rightly feel misrepresented, and might see this as cultural appropriation.”

“I can appreciate that,” I said carefully, as my representative shook his head in open disbelief at her words. “I do try to find a way to have people of the cultures I write about review a later draft, to clear up the biggest mistakes.  But I’m also writing in a world that isn’t exactly ours, so there are bound to be cultural differences anyway, right?” Her look was dubious, but she cut off her own retort and listened as I continued.

“Even a fantasy story in the most stereotypical medieval European setting is usually full of inaccuracies. Ask any historian. And even they don’t fully agree on lots of specifics. So it’s not just vastly different cultures from around the world that writers get wrong. It’s the roots of their own culture, as well. I’m going to bet that writers all over the world do the same thing. We’re writing fantasy and science fiction here, not historical textbooks.”…

(13) ORIGIN STORY. This trailer for The King’s Man dropped today, and has a red band for swearing and gore. It can only be viewed at YouTube.

As a collection of history’s worst tyrants and criminal masterminds gather to plot a war to wipe out millions, one man must race against time to stop them. Discover the origins of the very first independent intelligence agency in The King’s Man.

(14) USE THE STIX, LUKE. Buzzfeed’s “29 Things For The Ultimate Star Wars Party” is just an excuse to make a post out of advertising, but I do like this item:

3. A pair of lightsaber chopsticks that’ll have your guests all aglow when dinner is served.

This set includes two lightsaber chopsticks. The “force” is strong with these (i.e., batteries are included).

Promising review: “These are the coolest chopsticks I have ever seen. The instructions for use and cleaning were clear and concise and the light that they give off is amazing!”

(15) MARCH OF TIME. “How a little shell tells us the day was 23½ hours long, once upon a time”, a 2019 article in The Indian Express.

…Today, Earth’s orbit is not exactly 365 days, but 365 days and a fraction, which is why our calendars have leap years, as a correction. In the new study, the most accurate estimate that can be made is in a whole number of days a year, said lead author Neils de Winter, a geochemist from Vrije Universiteit Brussel,

“We are pretty sure this number (372) is very accurate because of our new method of looking at multiple chemical records and multiple years. However, the exact number could be, for example, 372.25 or 371.75, just like it is approximately 365.25 days nowadays (when we count the leap days),” de Winter said, by email….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. This episode of How It Should Have Ended about Black Widow (with Batman as guest star) dropped yesterday.

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

Pixel Scroll 10/29/20 The Wheel of Time Bears Bitter Fruit

(1) FOR THE WINNERS. Joy Alyssa Day posted a photo of this year’s Chesley Award.

Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 13. On April 13, 1970, the Apollo 13’s lunar landing was aborted in what would become a historic mission. The crippled Apollo 13 spacecraft splashed down on April 17, 1970.

It’s a beautiful piece, 4″ wide, 12″ deep and about 4″ tall. Water is sculpted fused glass with a blown glass Apollo Capsule attached. Capsule is engraved and painted for the doors and windows.

(2) BREAK THE CYCLE. Samantha Haney Press in a Facebook post urges “A Radical Approach To Fan-Run Cons”.

…Conrunning is a hard, sometimes thankless task. Most of the time people don’t know who does what unless they’re looking to complain. Most people don’t know that a lot of fan-run cons are run by volunteers, not paid workers.

THAT BEING SAID, conrunners are still stewards of and drawn from the community made up of the convention’s attendees. If your convention isn’t welcoming to congoers of marginalized identities, the demographics trickle up. Fewer people of color among attendees means fewer people of color to recruit from for leadership positions.

And the reverse becomes true, too – no people of marginalized identities in leadership roles? Those demographics will feel unwelcome as attendees, either through passive perception or active failures by leadership. It’s a cycle.

You have to make a DELIBERATE EFFORT to break the cycle. At *every* link in the chain, or it perpetuates itself.

You need not just one person overseeing programming, for instance, but an ecosystem of people across many departments, from front-facing/high-profile jobs to the invisible ones backstage. You need redundancy in case of burnout – conrunner burnout is REAL, and it’s **compounded** by social justice burnout for those trying to enact systemic change….

(3) SPECULATING ABOUT REALITY. Mary Anne Mohanraj interviews “Minal Hajratwala”, author of Leaving India, at Speculative Literature Foundation. (Transcript here.)

“South Asian work in particular, it’s interesting because I feel like…a modern South Asian science fiction sensibility, if there is one, is still forming. And of course, I mean, we’ve talked about this, how diverse South Asia is, so many different strands. So whether you can even say there is ‘a South Asian sensibility’ is disputable. But at the same time, I do think that South Asian countries have this deep wellspring of myth…and religion, which is nothing if not speculative. Like, that’s, to me, that’s the definition. It’s like we don’t know things; therefore, we will speculate about how reality is constructed. And so drawing from that is this really fertile ground that I think people are still just beginning to tap into.”

(4) SOUND FAMILIAR? Den of Geek presents “The Scariest Sentences Ever Written, Selected by Top Horror Authors”. You’ll know a bunch of these.

For Halloween we’ve attempted to round up some of the scariest sentences ever written – and who better to ask for their recommendations than some of the finest horror writers and editors around? We asked some of our favourite experts to tell us the line that scared them most and why. Any suggestions of your own? Let us know in the comments.

To Serve Man by Damon Knight

Scariest sentence“It’s a cookbook,” he said.

Is there a better whammy of an end line than this? Ten to one you’ll know the story that precedes it: Seemingly benevolent aliens, the Kanamit, arrive on earth, promising peace and prosperity. The aliens are as good as their word, and start whisking “lucky” humans off to their planet for a “ten year exchange programme”. A U.N translator, who (rightly) thinks this is all too good to be true, sets about translating the aliens’ favourite book, which, from its title, “To Serve Man,” is assumed to be an innocent handbook. It ain’t (see the last line).

(5) CLUB FANS. PC Magazine asks Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society President Matthew B. Tepper “In 2020, Is Science Fiction Still an Escape?”

That was a long time before you joined, but do you have any memories of meeting [Ray Bradbury]?
MBT: 
If you bounced around to all the libraries and bookstores on LA’s Westside, as I did as a kid, it was hard not to meet Ray! He was always around somewhere, always genial, always ready to bask in adulation. The last time I saw him was just before his 90th birthday, at a bookstore.

There must be lots of writers who’ve emerged from LASFS over the years.
MBT: 
Yes, we’ve had many authors come up from our membership. The best known is Larry Niven, author of Ringworld, and he still attends our Zoom meetings. 

(6) MORE ABOUT LUPOFF. Comics expert Maggie Thompson focuses on the good times in “Richard Allen Lupoff: Among the Memories” at The Comics Journal.

…But facts, dates, awards: They don’t convey just how much fun it was to hang out with Dick and Pat — and how eternally kind they were as hosts. I’m speaking here as one among many who experienced their kindness. For example, they: provided home base, as Don and I explored Manhattan’s comics publishers; played host, as Don and I visited Poughkeepsie to tour the Western printing operation; and brainstormed collecting a bunch of nostalgia articles into book collections that others could share. Heck, I haven’t even mentioned their kindness, as the plans for us all to see the Broadway show It’s a Bird … It’s a Plane … It’s Superman fell through — and they arranged to substitute the off-Broadway The Mad Show. They were there for us so that we could attend John Benson’s multi-day New York City comics convention that same year (with Pat and me as two of the four attending females). And it was grand to see them more than once at Comic-Con International: San Diego.

(7) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 1996 — Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife was published by Tor Books with the cover illustration by Susan Boulet. It would win the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature the following year. It was nominated for both the BFA and Nebula Awards too. She later published a somewhat loosely connected story, “The Color of Angels”, a year later. Jo Walton in What Makes This Book So Great says that The Wood Wife “hits a sweet spot for me where I just love everything it’s doing.”

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born October 29, 1906 – Fredric Brown.  Had he written only “Arena”, The Lights in the Sky Are StarsMartians, Go Home, and What Mad Universe, it would have been enough for us; these even if alone would make him a star in our sky.  Two more novels, a hundred thirty shorter stories – some very short, one of his gifts.  Also detective fiction (Edgar Award for The Fabulous Clipjoint).  NESFA Press has two collections.  I never met him in person; photos show an ordinary-looking man; all his strangeness, of which he had no lack, must have gone into his work.  (Died 1972) [JH]
  • Born October 29, 1925 – Beryl Mercer.  Active in the British SF Ass’n.  Essays, reviews in Vector and Zenith, some with husband Archie Mercer.  Fanzines Oz (for OMPA, the Off-trails Magazine Publishers Ass’n), Mercatorial Annual (with AM), The Middle Earthworm (with AM; Tolkien), The Once and Future Worm (with AM; Arthur); did much of the zine reproduction for PADS (Printing And Distributing Service) and contributed Link (with Mary Reed).  Eastercon committees.  Doc Weir award (U.K., for service).  (Died 2003) [JH]  
  • Born October 29, 1935 Sheila Finch, 85. She’s best-known for her stories about the Guild of Xenolinguists which are quite excellent. The Golden Gryphon collection The Guild of Xenolinguists is well worth seeking out. She also wrote Myths, Metaphors, and Science Fiction: Ancient Roots of the Literature of the Future which is exactly what the title says. Neither are available at the usual digital suspects though some of her other work is. (CE) 
  • Born October 29, 1938 Ralph Bakshi, 82. Started as low-level worker at Terrytoons, studio of characters such as Heckle and Jeckle and Mighty Mouse. His first major break would be on CBS  as creative director of Mighty Mouse and the Mighty Heroes. Fast forwarding to Fritz the Cat which may or may not be genre but it’s got a foul mouthed talking cat. Genre wise, I’d say War Wizards which features voice work by Mark Hamill and whose final name was Wizards so it wouldn’t be confused with you know what film. Next up was The Lord of the Rings, a very odd affair. That was followed by Fire and Ice, a collaboration with Frank Frazetta. Then came what I considered his finest work, the Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures series!  Then there’s Cool World… (CE) 
  • Born October 29, 1967 Rufus Sewall, 53. Appeared as Reichsmarschall John Smith in The Man in The High Castle loosely based on the novel by Philip K. Dick. And he was the lead in Dark City, a film often compared to the Matrix films. He’s also appeared, and this not a complete listing,in The Legend of ZorroAbraham Lincoln: Vampire HunterA Knight’s TaleMermaid Chronicles Part 1: She Creature, The Illusionist and on the American version of the Eleventh Hour series.(CE)
  • Born October 29, 1971 Winona Ryder, 49. Beatlejuice, of course, but also Edward Scissorhands and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Not to mention Alien Resurrection and Star Trek as Spock’s human mother Amanda Grayson. Which brings me to Being John Malkovich which might me the coolest genre film of all time. (CE) 
  • Born October 29, 1971 Anna Dale, 49. Scottish  writer whom many reviewers have dubbed “the next JK Rowling” whose best  known for her Whispering to Witches children’s novel. It was based on her masters dissertation in children’s writing. She has written two more novels of a similar ilk, Spellbound and Magical Mischief. (CE)
  • Born October 29, 1979 Andrew Lee Potts, 41. He is best known as Connor Temple on Primeval and the all-too-short live spinoff Primeval: New World. He was also Tim Larson in Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, a British crime drama series. Yes, it’s that Stan Lee. He also had recurring role of Toby in Strange, a BBC supernatural series. (CE) 
  • Born October 29, 1938 – Ralph Bakshi, 82.  Producer, director, writer, animator.  Fritz the Cat (1972), first animated film to be rated X, may be the most financially successful independent animated film of all time.  Two years of Mighty Mouse 1987-1989.  Started as a cel polisher at Terrytoons.  Golden Gryphon for his Lord of the Rings.  Inkpot.  Annie.  [JH]
  • Born October 29, 1968 – Stanley Donwood, 52.  One novel, a shorter story, four covers for us; half a dozen other books; artwork for the band Radiohead, its singer Thom Yorke’s solo albums, TY’s band Atoms for Peace – I’ll let you decide whether those are ours, Our Gracious Host has been after me for saying maybe. Website Slowly Downward, also the title of a 2001 collection.  Here is Blue Light.  Here is Concrete Island.  Here is Let’s All Go to the Science Fiction Disco.  [JH]
  • Born October 29, 1975 – Dahlia Rose, 45.  Seven dozen books; mostly romance, historical, military, modern, paranormal, combinations thereof; to quote her Website, “Bad boys, soldiers and shifters, spice between the sheets”.  Ten so far in the Paladin Dragons series.  [JH]
  • Born October 29, 1986 – Lyndsay Gilbert, 34.  Likes SF, playing the fiddle, cats, dogs, “and the ancient art of belly dance”.  Has read Tennyson and Yeats.   One novel, three shorter stories so far.  A few months ago she wrote, “My life has changed so much in the last two years.  Unfortunately my writing hasn’t changed enough, so prepare for a deluge of emotional poems, folks.”  [JH]

(9) GONE ALREADY. ComingSoon reports “Sci-Fi Drama Brave New World Cancelled at Peacock After One Season”.  

According to DeadlinePeacock has officially decided not to give David Wiener’s sci-fi drama series Brave New World a second season renewal, with UCP planning to shop it to other streamers or networks. This cancellation comes four months after the Alden Ehrenreich-led series debuted its 9-episode first season as part of the original slate for the streamer’s launch in July.

(10) FOR ALL MANKIND. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “What if America had lost the race to the moon? My long-read Q&A with Ronald D. Moore” at the American Enterprise Institute, AEI scholar James Pethokoukis interviews For All Mankind creator Ronald D. Moore about his show, including why NASA did not cooperate with the series because they don’t want to hear from cranks who think the Moon landing was faked, why there should be more optimistic sf, and whether Moore, as a former Star Trek writer, agrees with Peter Thiel’s statement that Star Wars is capitalist and Star Trek communist because there’s no money in Star Trek.

In the show, one of the lead characters, astronaut Ed Baldwin, portrayed by Joel Kinnaman, criticizes NASA for being too risk-averse. Is that just a purely in-show criticism? Or is that a real-world criticism when we think about the things that have either gone wrong or not really been as spectacular as maybe many of us had hoped decades ago?

I think it’s a little bit of both. In the show’s context, I felt like that’s where the characters would go. They would be looking for reasons why they got beat, and it was like, “Well, this is why we got beat: We got too risk-averse after the Apollo 1 fire. It made us too cautious, and we lost that spirit. That’s the reason.”

In real-world terms, I think there is some validity to that. I think that the Apollo 1 fire, the Challenger accident, and the Columbia accident were magnified to the point in the public imagination that then everything at NASA became about safety. I’m not saying that we should risk astronaut lives willy-nilly. That’s not the point at all. But these are inherently dangerous things that we’re attempting. We’ve gotten to the point with space travel where we’re so concerned about that aspect that it feels like they’re really unwilling to take much risk at all.

And it’s an inherently dangerous undertaking. So then you’re sort of saying, “Well, we’re going to do very, very little of it because we have to be so, so, safe in every single possible way because we’re so deathly afraid of losing somebody.” The truth is it was predicted that we were going to lose more than one orbiter when the Space Shuttle program was first posited. So it wasn’t a shock on a certain level that it happened. It’s an inherently dangerous business. But, as a result of what happened, the way it was portrayed, and the way we dealt with it, the American public just became like, “God, we just cannot risk their lives anymore.” That works against the idea of, “You have to boldly go. You got to be bold. You got to take the risk.”

(11) REWINDING SHEETS. The Guardian brings you “Scariest ghosts in cinema – ranked!”. My favorite horror movie is almost at the bottom of this list.

18. Emeric Belasco in The Legend of Hell House (1973)

Size does matter. If ever a ghost failed to live up to its reputation it’s the malevolent entity at the centre of John Hough’s screening of Richard Matheson’s haunted house tale (played by an uncredited Michael Gough) who has to delegate his havoc-wreaking to a black cat and unsecured chapel furniture. He still manages to rack up a body count.

(12) HOUSELESS HAUNTS. CrimeReads’ Matthew Lyons counts off “The 9 Scariest Fictional Haunted Houses (That Aren’t Actually Houses)”. First on the list —

The Photo Album – Paper Tigers, Damien Angelica Walters

Some of the scariest hauntings are borne out of trauma, and in no other book is this fact examined with such dread and empathy as Damien Angelica Walters’ Paper Tigers. The story follows Alison, a horribly scarred young woman navigating the trauma from the loss of the life she used to know, who soon discovers a photo album in a curio shop that is far more terrifying and alive than it seems at the outset….

(13) BOWIE. Pitchfork invites everyone to “Watch the New Trailer for David Bowie Movie Stardust  — “…The movie focuses on a U.S. publicity tour in 1971, which led to Bowie inventing the Ziggy Stardust character. The film is coming to theaters and VOD on November 25.”

David Bowie is one of the most seminal legends in music history; but who was the man behind the many faces? In 1971, a 24-year-old fledgling David Bowie (Johnny Flynn) is sent to America to promote his newest record, The Man Who Sold the World. Leaving behind his pregnant wife Angie (Jena Malone), Bowie and his band embark on a makeshift coast-to-coast promotional tour with struggling Mercury Records publicist Rob Oberman (Marc Maron).

(14) MUPPET SCARES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Yahoo! Entertainment story, “MVP of Horror: Alice Cooper recalls making a devilish deal with the Muppets”, Lyndsey Parker interviews Cooper, who said he was concerned that appearing on The Muppet Show would affect his brand as a super-scary guy, but Cooper says he had a really great time.

Back in the ‘70s, almost every major musical artist was starring in some bonkers movie musical or TV variety show — even KISS got in on the act. But KISS’s fellow shock-rocker Alice Cooper turned most of those opportunities down, out of concern that such projects would dilute the menacing image he’d so carefully cultivated with his own 1975 television special, Alice Cooper: The Nightmare, and its companion concept album, Welcome to My Nightmare. “I never wanted to be in a show where I had to totally lose the Alice character and become something else,” he explains to Yahoo Entertainment.

But when Jim Henson came calling, asking him to star in The Muppet Show’s 1978 Halloween special, that was an offer Alice could not refuse. “I never had so much fun in my life as doing The Muppet Show,” he gushes.

“I balked at first,” Cooper admits. “I went, ‘Oh man, I’ve been spending all this time building this villain image. Is this just going to water it down?’ I said, ‘Who’s going to be on it?’ And they said Christopher Lee, Vincent Price [who’d done previous Muppet Show Halloween guest spots]. And I went, ‘I’m in!’ I didn’t even have to think about it. I went, ‘I’m in. If those guys can do it, I am privileged to do it.’”

I saw the version of “School’s Out” Cooper did with the Muppets and I thought it was pretty entertaining.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel “Poppin’ Wheelies” Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 8/11/20 The Pixel Scrolls So Sweetly, It Lists
The Links Completely

(1) LODESTAR MEMENTO. Fran Wilde shows off her Lodestar finalist pin. The Instagram is a video of her unwrapping the box. Below is a screencap of the pin.

(2) CAN’T TELL THE DC FROM THE DOA. A.V. Club reports “DC Comics hit with huge layoffs, DC Universe streaming service could be dead”.

The WarnerMedia branch of Warner Bros. was hit with a ton of layoffs today, and things seem especially dire this evening for the Warner-owned DC Comics. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a number of high-ranking people at DC are now out, including editor-in-chief Bob Harris, several senior VPs, and some editors (including executive editor Mark Doyle, who was in charge of the publisher’s edgy new Black Label graphic novels). Furthermore, THR’s sources say the layoffs have come for “roughly one third” of DC’s entire editorial staff as well as “the majority” of the people working on the DC Universe streaming service, and the DC Direct merchandise brand has been completely shut down after 22 years of selling Batman toys.

The Hollywood Reporter story adds:

…Insiders also say the majority of the staff of the streaming service DC Universe has been laid off, a move that had been widely expected as WarnerMedia shifts its focus to new streaming service HBO Max.

“DC Universe was DOA as soon as the AT&T merger happened,” said one source.

DC Universe launched in May 2018, and is home to live-action series such as Doom PatrolTitans and Stargirl, as well as animated offerings including Young Justice and Harley Quinn. Some of those shows have now started to stream on HBO Max.

Also a victim of the layoffs: DC Direct, the company’s in-house merchandise and collectibles manufacturer….

(3) THE HORROR. Jo Furniss totes up “10 Novels Based On Folk Horror” at CrimeReads.

…I don’t want to give the impression that my American Rose is some kind of bastard love child of Kate Bush and the Blair Witch. But like other suspense writers who dip their nibs into the cursed waters of folk horror, its elements may be sprinkled into a contemporary novel to create an atmosphere of dread.

The resurgence of the genre shows that folk horror is apt for our times. Identities are fluid. No bad deed goes unpunished. The civilized world is only a heartbeat away from primal and uncanny threats.

The genre is also nostalgic for a rural England that is as far from Downtown Abbey as you can get in a four-horse carriage. This England is afeared of change. In times of crisis, we return to the old ways, which offer a reassuring connection to a simple past. But at the cost of old evils. There is a sense that all progress is a chimera, that our modern sophistication is itself a form of naivety.

(4) BLACK UTOPIA. In “Will I Live to See My Utopia?” at Uncanny Magazine, P. Djèlí Clark responds to HBO’s adaptation of Watchmen.

…Before your mind can make sense of it, words in some shade of Watchmen yellow superimpose across the screen: TULSA 1921.

Gotta admit, didn’t see that coming.

Once those two words flashed, what I was looking at resolved into focus. The Tulsa Race Riots of 1921[5]. The Tulsa Massacre. The scene set off a surge on Google[6] as viewers searched for information on the riot—their first time learning about it. Many Black folks, though, didn’t have to go looking. We’d heard some version of this story. I couldn’t even tell you where or when it was passed on to me—one of those bits of common knowledge that travels along Black intra-community networks, written down in our Scriptures on the Sins of White Folk. The story of the all-Black and self-sustaining community that rose up in the middle of Jim Crow. That prospered, with its own businesses and professionals. Black Wall Street, they called it. Even if you didn’t know every detail—like the discrepancies about airplanes dropping dynamite on buildings, or the disputes over mass graves[7]—you had heard something about Tulsa. It was a story of Black excellence, and Black horror. A tragic tale of a lost world like the city of Atlantis, or doomed Krypton—only snuffed out not by natural disaster or hubris, but by the reckless fires of white supremacy.

Still, the cold open of an HBO production was the last place I expected to see this. I’d gone my entire Black life and never seen a single recreation—not once. Our stories didn’t appear in mainstream productions like this. Our histories certainly weren’t centered this way within a major speculative canon. Our perspective wasn’t supposed to fit into stories of superheroes as jaded vigilantes, a physics- bending blue guy, and the greatest hoax ever played on mankind—à la interdimensional psychic squid.

But here we were. This was happening….

(5) ROBOFLOP. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Robots and disability access clash; everyone loses. TechCrunch’s Haben Girma discusses “The robots occupying our sidewalks” .

The robot, shaped like a large cooler on wheels, zipped along somewhere ahead of me. My left hand clasped the smooth leather harness of my German shepherd guide dog. “Mylo, forward.” The speed of his four short legs complemented the strides of my longer two — call it the six feet fox trot. Together we glided past the competition.

My quarantine buddy stayed behind filming the race. Mylo: 1, Robot: 0.

The Mountain View City Council voted on May 5, 2020 to allow Starship Technologies’ robots on city streets. Founded in 2014, Starship operates no-contact delivery robots in several cities around the world. Customers schedule deliveries of food, groceries or other packages through the Starship app.

My amusement with the little robots shifted to curiosity. Thirty years after the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, many tech companies still fail to design for disability. How would the autonomous robots react to disabled pedestrians?

About 10 feet down the sidewalk, I stopped and turned around. Mylo tensed, his alarm crawling up my arm. The white visage of the robot stopped about a foot from his nose.

I hoped the robot would identify a pedestrian and roll away, but it stayed put. Mylo relaxed into a sitting position — guide dog school didn’t teach him about the robot apocalypse. I scratched his ears and he leaned into my hands. The robot was not moved.

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

August 11, 1955 X Minus One’s “Almost Human” was broadcast for the first time. The screenplay was written as usual by George Lefferts off of Robert Bloch‘s story of the same name first published in Fantastic Adventures, June 1943. (Last collected in The Complete Stories of Robert Bloch, Volume 1: Final Reckonings, 1990.) Bloch’s tale has a petty criminal taking over an android for what he thinks he is suitable training and has the tables turned on him as the android is too human. The cast included Santos Ortega, Joan Allison, Jack Grimes, Guy Repp, Nat Pollen, Joseph Julian and Lin Cook.  You can listen to it here. (CE)

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertx.]

  • Born August 11, 1902 Jack Binder. In Thrilling Wonder Stories in their October 1938 issue they published his article, “If Science Reached the Earth’s Core”, with the first known use of the phrase “zero gravity”.  In the early Forties, he was an artist for Fawcett, Lev Gleason, and Timely Comics.  During these years, he created the Golden Age character Daredevil which is not the Marvel Daredevil though he did work with Stan Lee where they co-created The Destroyer at Timely Comics. (Died 1986.) (CE) 
  • Born August 11, 1923 – Ben P. Indick.  Fanzine Ben’s Beat; letters, reviews, in AndurilBanana WingsThe Baum BugleThe Call of CthulhuChacalThe Frozen FrogThe Metaphysical ReviewNecrofileNyctalopsRiverside QuarterlyRod Serling’s Twilight Zone MagazineStudies in Weird FictionWeird Tales.  Wrote Ray Bradbury, Dramatist and George Alec Effinger; eight short stories; contributed to Hannes Bok studies and flights of angels (1968), Bok (1974).  First Fandom Hall of Fame.  My attempt to recruit him for APA-L produced, briefly, Chez Ondique.  (Died 2009) [JH]
  • Born August 11, 1928 Alan E. Nourse. His connections to other SF writers are fascinating. Heinlein dedicated Farnham’s Freehold to Nourse, and in part dedicated Friday to Nourse’s wife Ann.  His novel The Bladerunner lent its name to the movie but nothing else from it was used in that story. However Blade Runner (a movie) written by, and I kid you not, William S. Burroughs, is based on his novel. Here the term “blade runner” refers to a smuggler of medical supplies, e.g. scalpels. (Died 1992.) (CE) 
  • Born August 11, 1932 Chester  Anderson. His The Butterfly Kid is the first part of what is called the Greenwich Village Trilogy, with Michael Kurland writing the middle book, The Unicorn Girl, and the third volume, The Probability Pad, written by T.A. Waters. I can practically taste the acid from here… The Butterfly Kid is available from all the usual digital suspects. (Died 1991.) (CE) 
  • Born August 11, 1936 – Bruce Pelz, F.N.  An omnifan who did clubs, collecting, cons, costuming, fanhistory, fanzines, filking, gaming, and, as the saying goes, much much more. Co-chaired Westercon 22 and L.A.Con the 30th Worldcon (with Chuck Crayne); founded Loscon and chaired Loscon 10; Fan Guest of Honor at Noreascon Two the 38th Worldcon; founded the History of Worldcons Exhibit; twice earned the LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.) Evans-Freehafer Award; was named a Fellow of NESFA (New England SF Soc.; service award); Filk Hall of Fame; invented APA-L, contributed to it, FAPA, SAPS, OMPA, The Cult, and for a while every existing apa; recognized fan and pro art with the Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck (PDF); gave his collection of fanzines, almost two hundred thousand of them, to U. Cal. Riverside.  He was an Eagle Scout.  Here and here are appreciations by OGH.  (Died 2002) [JH]
  • Born August 11, 1949  – Nate Bucklin, 71.  First Secretary of Minn-stf (or stef, from Hugo Gernsback’s word scientifiction) and thus one of its Floundering_Fathers.  Guest of Honor at Minicon 16 and 43, Windycon 32, DucKon IV.  Five short stories.  Fanzine, Stopthink; editor awhile of Rune; founding member of Minneapa.  Being a filker (see link under Bruce Pelz) he was Guest of Honor at GAFilk Six, and the Interfilk Guest at Contata 5.  Once explained to me “We have half these songs memorized – usually the first half.”  [JH]
  • Born August 11, 1959 Alan Rodgers. Author of Bone Music, a truly great take off the Robert Johnson myth. His “The Boy Who Came Back From the Dead” novelette won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction, and he was editor of Night Cry in the mid-Eighties. Kindle has Bone Music and a number of his other novels, iBooks has nothing available. (Died 2014.) (CE)
  • Born August 11, 1961 Susan M. Garrett. She was a well-known and much liked writer, editor and publisher in many fandoms, but especially the Forever Knight community. (She also was active in Doctor Who and The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne fandoms. And no, I had no idea that the latter had a fandom.) She is perhaps best known for being invited to write a Forever Knight tie-in novel, Intimations of Mortality. It, like the rest of the Forever Knight novels, is not available in digital form. (Died 2010.) (CE) 
  • Born August 11, 1970 – Elizabeth Kiem, 50.  Four novels for us; collaborated on five books about Balanchine.  Three of those four have the Bolshoi Ballet.  [JH] 
  • Born August 11, 1972 – Danielle Wood, 48.  Tasmanian.  Three novels for us (with Heather Rose); dozens more via thus this site (subscription needed).  Website here.  [JH]
  • Born August 11, 1976 Will Friedle, 44. Largely known as an actor with extensive genre voice work: Terry McGinnis aka the new Batman in Batman Beyond which Warner Animation now calls Batman of the FuturePeter Quill in The Guardians Of The Galaxy, and Kid Flash in Teen Titans Go!  to name but a few of his roles. (CE) 
  • Born August 11, 1989 – Will Wight, 31.  Sixteen novels in three series; fourteen shorter stories, most available only here.  Website here.  Some of you will know why I keep misspelling his misspelling his name (and may even know how to spell Nesselrode).  [JH]

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) TOWARDS POGO. Maggie Thompson guides readers through “The Depression Comics Challenge” at SDCC’s Toucan blog.

…Even in high school, Walt Kelly had worked at his local newspaper; after graduation, he even drew that paper a comic strip about the life of P.T. Barnum. While he was also hired for a few freelance assignments while living on the East Coast, he wanted to produce a different sort of comic art. Walt Disney Productions was his goal, he applied to work there, and he was hired.

As he worked for Disney on a variety of projects for the next five and a half years, he became friends with several of his fellow writers and artists. Like many other fledgling creators there, he’d eventually go on to work in the new comic book industry.

But wait. We were wrapping up the 1930s. And the 1940s were just ahead….

(10) CONDEMNED BY THE SCI-FI SCRIBE. In “Awards For Works Should Be Judged By The Work Itself” [Archive Today copy] Richard Paolinelli rolls together the week’s kerfuffles – Hugo toastmaster GRRM mispronouncing names, Jeannette Ng’s Hugo, the Retro-Hugos for Campbell and Lovecraft, and the attack on the concept of an sff canon – into one prodigious blunt and fires it up. Every paragraph is like this:

…And now they want to change the rules for future Retro Hugos it seems. No longer can the best work be nominated, they yowl, but if the creator behind said work does not pass the “Officially Acceptable Wokeness Test” they must be chiseled out of the SF/F historical record forever lest future generations ever hear of their vile “un-woke” creations!

And to make sure we know how unwoke he is, Richard repeatedly misspells N.K. Jemisin’s name, and delivers this bonus blast to John Scalzi’s syndicated movie review column of 30 years ago.

…Even John Scalzi jumped into the fray to declare that we really shouldn’t waste our time on the “old SF/F” stuff and only read the “modern (read: acceptably woke) stuff”.

HISTORICAL NOTE: I had the extreme displeasure of having to read his crap when it shot across the McClatchy Newspaper wire back in the mid-1990s when he was at the Fresno Bee and I worked the copy desk for two days a week at the Modesto Bee (thankfully the other three days I escaped that torture by working in the Sports department.)

When I heard Scalzi had jumped to fiction writing I pitied his poor editor. His stuff at the Bee was always the last we worked on and always need massive reworking to be suitable to run….

(11) DOWN THESE MEAN BOSTON STREETS. Obviously not sff, but I sure have read a hell of a lot of these books. At CrimeReads, Susanna Lee surveys “The World Of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser And The Birth Of The 1970’s Private Detective”. Really, Lee could have been rather more critical and still have been fair to the series.  

…In [The Godwulf Mnuscript], a student member of the anticapitalist committee tells Spenser not to laugh at the group, saying that they are “perfectly serious and perfectly right.” Spenser answers that so is everyone else he knows. In a world that revolves around ideologies and declarations of righteousness, Spenser is glad to meet people who don’t take themselves too seriously. The cast of supporting characters is populated by friends of different genders and colors who operate on principle without saying so, who are more about the walk than the talk. This is part of the hard-boiled principle of understatement; other people’s pain is to be taken seriously, but one’s own is not. But it is also a signal that the hard-boiled is beginning to change his parameters.

(12) AN EX-WIZ OF A WIZ. “Successor To Fill The Shoes Of Retiring New Zealand Wizard” is a short transcript from NPR’s Morning Edition. This is nearly the whole thing:

Ian Brackenbury Channell walks around in black robes and a pointy hat. He’s a tourist attraction, so Christchurch, New Zealand, even pays him. As he steps aside, a successor wizard takes over. Now, you may ask, exactly what magical power does this wizard possess? His answer – every day, the world gets more serious, so fun is the most powerful thing.

(13) NO LONGER AN ENIGMA. “Wartime code breaker helps crack Sheffield birds’ behaviour”.

Scientists have used mathematical equations developed by a wartime code breaker to understand the behaviour of birds.

University of Sheffield researchers used models developed by Alan Turing to study why flocks of long-tailed tits spread out across the countryside.

They found the birds were more likely to stay close to their relatives but avoided larger flocks.

PhD student Natasha Ellison said the maths was essential to the research.

Researchers tracked the birds around Sheffield’s Rivelin Valley, which eventually produced a pattern across the landscape, and they used maths to reveal the behaviours causing these patterns.

The team used equations developed by Mr Turing in the 1950s, who developed them to describe how animals get their spotted and striped patterns.

(14) REVERSE POLARITY. “Stunning ‘reverse waterfall’ filmed near Sydney” is a BBC video.

High winds and torrential rain on the New South Wales south coast in Australia have resulted in a spectacular sight – waterfalls in the Royal National Park being blown in reverse.

(15) WHEN FRUIT COLLIDES. “‘Bullying’ Apple fights couple over pear logo”: BBC’s article includes a picture of the allegedly-infringing graphic.

When Natalie Monson started her food blog 11 years ago, she didn’t expect to end up embroiled in a fight with the world’s most valuable company.

But the US small business owner is now battling Apple for the right to use a pear in the logo on her recipe app.

In a patent filing, Apple said the image was too similar to its own logo and would hurt its brand.

Ms Monson says the tech giant is simply “bullying” and she feels a “moral obligation” to fight back.

More than 43,000 people have already signed the petition she and her husband Russ, owners of the Super Healthy Kids website, created last week to try to pressure the company to back down.

“This is a real world example of a small business being destroyed by a giant monopoly because they don’t have accountability,” Mr Monson told the BBC. “That was so frustrating to us that we thought we had to do something. We can’t just be the next victim on the list.”

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

(16) A VERY ANTISOCIAL INSECT. Yes, this ant could do anything except bite its way out of a drop of tree resin: “Fossil of fearsome ‘hell ant’ that used tusk-like jaws to hunt its victims discovered in amber” at Yahoo! News.

A 99-million year old fossil of a “hell ant” is giving researchers a glimpse into the behavior of these fearsome ancient insects, a new study reports.

Encased in amber (tree resin), the fossil provides the most vivid picture yet of how hell ants once used their uncanny tusk-like mandibles and diverse horns to successfully hunt down victims for nearly 20 million years, before vanishing from the planet.

“Since the first hell ant was unearthed about a hundred years ago, it’s been a mystery as to why these extinct animals are so distinct from the ants we have today,” said study lead author Phillip Barden of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, in a statement.

(17) WHY IT’S GR8T. In “Honest Trailers:  Avatar–The Last Airbender” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies explain that the anime series Avatar–The Last Airbender is “full of life lessons that will thrill your inner eight-year-old–because it was written for eight year olds.”

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

2019 Harvey Awards

The winners of the Harvey Awards, honoring the life and work of comics creator Harvey Kurtzman,(1924-1993), cartoonist, writer, editor and founder of Mad Magazine, were announced October 4.  

The awards were voted on by eligible industry professionals including creators, in-house professionals, librarians, and retailers. The awards are presented under the auspices of New York Comic-Con.

Book of the Year

  • Hey Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Scholastic Graphix)

Digital Book of the Year

Best Children’s or Young Adult Book

  • Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (First Second)

Best Manga

  • My Hero Academia by Kohei Horikoshi (VIZ Media)

Best European Book

  • Waves by Ingrid Chabbert and Carole Maurel (Archaia)

Best Comics Adaptation Award

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse by Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation, based on Spider-Man (Marvel Comics)

In addition, the Harvey Awards honored the 2019 inductees to their Hall of Fame and a Comics Industry Pioneer.

Hall of Fame

The seven recipients include two active creators, and five posthumous honorees who were Harvey Kurtzman’s core 1950’s MAD Magazine collaborators.

  • Mike Mignola (Hellboy)
  • Alison Bechdel (Fun Home), and
  • Will Elder
  • Jack Davis
  • John Severin
  • Marie Severin
  • Ben Oda

Comics Industry Pioneer

  • Maggie Thompson, on behalf of her work with her late husband Don Thompson as longtime editors of the Comics Buyer’s Guide.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy for an assist.]

Seven Added to Harvey Awards
Hall of Fame

The Harvey Awards revealed the 2019 inductees to their Hall of Fame ahead of the annual event at New York Comic Con. The seven recipients include two active creators, and five posthumous honorees who were Harvey Kurtzman’s core 1950’s MAD Magazine collaborators.

  • Mike Mignola (Hellboy)
  • Alison Bechdel (Fun Home), and
  • Will Elder
  • Jack Davis
  • John Severin
  • Marie Severin
  • Ben Oda

Mike Mignola, began working as a comic book artist in 1982, working for both Marvel and DC Comics before creating Hellboy, published by Dark Horse Comics in 1994. Mike’s comics and graphic novels have earned numerous awards and are published in a great many countries. He said about his latest honor:

My very first comic industry award was the 1994 Harvey Award for Best Artist on Hellboy. I never expected that award, but I took it as a sign that I might actually be on to something. It is a great honor to be inducted into the Harvey Awards Hall of Fame—something I certainly never could have imagined. And I’ll take it as proof that I haven’t embarrassed myself too badly over the last 25 years.

Alison Bechdel, known for her pioneering work on the strip Dykes to Watch Out For, which ran from 1983 to 2008, is also the author of two graphic memoirs, Fun Home and Are You My Mother? The stage-musical adaptation of Fun Home opened on Broadway in 2015 and received five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. She is currently working on a graphic memoir called The Secret to Superhuman Strength. She acknowledged the award:

As someone who existed for so long on the crumbling newsprint margins, it’s surprising and a bit unsettling to receive this recognition from the corridors of comics power. Where did I go wrong? No, just kidding. If you had told me, when I was reading Kurtzman parodies in my playpen, that I would one day be inducted into the Harvey Hall of Fame, I would have plotzed. I cannot imagine a greater nor a more furshlugginer honor.

They also will recognize the historic contributions by a co-editor of one of the field’s leading publications:

Comics Industry Pioneer

  • Maggie Thompson, on behalf of her work with her late husband Don Thompson as longtime editors of the Comics Buyer’s Guide.

The inductees will be recognized at the 31st annual Harvey Awards ceremony at Friday, October 4 in New York.

Pixel Scroll 3/2/18 Green Eggs And Lembas

(1) ADDING AN OSCAR. Animation World Network asks, “Do Digital Characters Deserve Academy Awards?”

Producing photorealistic digital humans, animals and other types of creatures has been a one of the holy grails for computer scientists and digital artists since the nascent days of the CGI technology revolution. More recently, in the last 10-15 years, many filmmakers have made significant strides toward achieving the goal — some more convincingly than others — of bringing believable photoreal human and lifelike digital characters to the screen.

From the first full-length photorealistic animated film, Hironobu Sakaguchi’s Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001) to Peter Jackson’s ground-breaking Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003), Robert Zemeckis’ innovative but not hugely popular Polar Express (2004) and Beowulf (2007), David Fincher’s mesmerizing The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), various wildly popular Marvel movies starting with Iron Man (2008), and of course, seminal films like James Cameron’s Avatar (2009) and Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), filmmakers have continually raised the bar, and stakes, with a series of increasingly complex digital characters that don’t just wow audiences with their stunning visuals, but capture people’s hearts with their believably emotional performances. The growing list of such digital performances is a testament to the unending audience appetite for visually engaging storytelling produced by a new generation of talented filmmakers more and more adept at embracing and making use of sophisticated production technology.

… According to Edlund, when you consider digital characters such as Caesar, you must also consider the team responsible for animating the performance. “Well, [the Academy is] studying this whole issue,” he says. “I know Andy Serkis thinks that he was the first one to use motion-capture and all that, and he’s a talented guy. But the thing is, Andy Serkis’s performances are also tweaked by animators, and so rather than giving Andy Serkis the entire award…if he were to be nominated and voted in, you’d have to split the award with the animators. So, it’s a very difficult thing. There’s always a serendipity about performance. There are things not on the page of the script that happen within the performance of the actor. When you animate, everything is intellectual, everything is being created. So, this is the valley that animators have to cross.”

(2) ALL FAME IS FLEETING. It’s time again for Young People Read Old SFF. James Davis Nicoll has turned them loose on Hall of Fame short story “It’s A Good Life” by Jerome Bixby.

Jerome Bixby was one of those reliable, unremarkable mid-listers the field used to support in decades past. In general, his work was a decent way to pass a half hour but not often memorable. “It’s a Good Life” is the exception, selected for the Hall of Fame, adapted to TV and the silver screen and referenced in a number of other works. Of course, the story’s heyday was in the distance past, in a now half-forgotten era of slide-rules and black & white television. How will it read to my Young Readers?

(3) #WHOAGAINSTGUNS. Doctor Who fandom is becoming a nexus of support in efforts against gun violence. A podcast, with some Who celebrities as participants, will be used as a fundraiser reports Comics Beat — “Doctor Who writers, artists, fans launch podcast to benefit gun violence prevention”

This groundswell of action also includes fan communities. One such organization is .Gallifrey Stands, a coalition who announced their Who Against Guns campaign on Monday. According to organizers, the campaign is “an initiative to encourage Doctor Who fans to take action against gun violence.”

To that end, the group has organized a massive charity podcasting effort: 40 Doctor Who fans, which include professional Doctor Who writers and artists, will record an exclusive commentary to the 1969 Classic Who story “The War Games.” The 11-episode podcast will only be released to listeners who make a donation of $10 or more to an organization committed to ending gun violence. Supporters then forward their receipt to the group, and the commentary will be made available for download on March 12th.

Who Against Guns suggests that fans direct donations towards several groups working to prevent gun violence: the aforementioned March For Our Lives, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Moms Demand Action. In recognition of Doctor Who’s international fan base, organizers have said they will honor donations made to charities that work to prevent gun violence outside of the US, and have provided a few suggestions on their website.

One of Who’s biggest names is involved — “Steven Moffat joins Who Against Guns”.

Doctor Who showrunner and writer Steven Moffat is joining the effort to raise money for gun violence prevention charities–but only if fans donate a total of $7000 by March 12. If they do, Moffat will provide a special commentary on episode 10 of “The War Games.”

…He joins a growing roster of professional Doctor Who scribes that have signed on to Who Against Guns, lending their thoughts to a commentary which includes Paul Cornell (“Human Nature”, “Family of Blood”) Jamie Mathieson (“Oxygen”, “Flatline”), Andrew Smith (“Full Circle”), and Peter Harness (“The Zygon Invasion”, “Kill The Moon”).

Comic professionals have also lent their efforts to the campaign. Titan Comic artists  Rachael Stott (Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor), and Simon Fraser (Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor) are among those commentating, as are a number of Doctor Who podcasters.

(4) ARCHIVE RESCUED. Comichron’s John Jackson Miller reports “History saved: Comics Buyer’s Guide bound and file copies, distributor publication library preserved”. Miller and Maggie Thompson have saved the Krause era (1983-2013) of Comics Buyer’s Guide from destruction.

Krause Publications, which for years published both Comics Buyer’s Guide and Comics Retailer,  is closing its Iola, Wis., office in March, moving the remaining personnel to a larger city. But as my fellow former employee Maggie Thompson learned last week, the file copies of most of the magazines were to be discarded, as well as a significant portion of the library materials.

For Comics Buyer’s Guide — read my history of the magazine here — this took in a huge number of issues. More than 5,000 copies, between two and ten each of every issue from #482 in 1983 to #1699 in 2013. This amounted to 105 cases weighing more than two tons — all destined for destruction.

The company donated the materials to Maggie and me to place, but the caveat was that we only had 72 hours to find homes for them all — and while Maggie sent the CBG bound copies to Columbia University, the file copies were still a very large problem.

(5) WATCH THE WATCH. The Verge says Pratchett’s famous series is coming to television: “BBC Studios is adapting Terry Pratchett’s iconic Discworld books for a six-part TV series”.

Discworld is a massive series written by Pratchett — who died in 2015 — which spans 41 books, dozens of characters, and a variety of smaller, thematic sub-series within the larger work. This show will reportedly be a six-episode series, with a current working title The Watch. That implies that it’ll be based off one of the most popular subsets of the overall series, featuring the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, which grows from a ramshackle group of a couple officers trying to get by to a full-fledged city police force over the course of the series.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BREWER

  • Born March 2, 1904  — Theodor Seuss Geisel

Narragansett Beer has reason to celebrate.

Today we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss with a little bit of history you might not have known… So pull up a chair and prepare for the story of how Dr. Seuss made his way into our wonderfully weird world of beer.

Who Knew? Dr. Seuss Could Brew?

Whether it’s the childhood memories of his books or you’re watching the new films today, Dr. Seuss’s tales are “too good to miss.” Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2, 1904 in Springfield, MA. Remember those famous illustrations he made for Narragansett Beer back in the day? The most famous being the tray shown above. Antique collectors date these works around the 1940?s. He did other illustrations that appeared in print ads and coasters like this one.

One of the most interesting facts was that both his father, Theodor Robert Geisel, and grandfather Geisel were brewers. In fact, his German immigrant grandfather owned the Kalmbach and Geisel Brewery, or “Come Back and Guzzle” as the locals called it, in Springfield. In 1894 it was renamed the Highland Brewery and five years later it became part of the Springfield Breweries.

(7) LE GUIN OVERVIEW. John Crowley, in “The Whole Household of Man”, reviews the Library of America edition of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Hainish Novels and Stories for Harper’s Magazine.

In the science fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin, who died last month at the age of eighty-eight, planets circle suns other than ours, yet have landscapes and skies and seas not so unlike ours and natives who are mostly not very different from us. A single, tremendous idea made her imagined realms effectively strange, even while binding them all together as realms of the human. This is what she conceived: Some hundreds of thousands of terrestrial years ago, an advanced society on an Earth-like planet called Hain discovered the principle of near-light-speed travel, and with this advance they began to explore their galaxy. They sought planets where, whatever the differences from their home, beings like themselves could live and thrive, and there they planted colonies. Over the course of cosmic time, nine planets (among them our Earth, called Terra) were populated by Hainish people. Some of the populations are different in body and all different to some degree in culture; they come to have histories reaching back to time out of mind, and ways of doing and understanding things that are also ancient—but they are our own relations, brought and adapted to their worlds by our common ancestor. For every way we differ there is a way in which we are alike.

Le Guin’s parents were both famed ethnographers—her father, Alfred Kroeber, documented the life of Ishi, called “the last wild Indian in California”; her mother, Theodora, wrote Ishi in Two Worlds, a popular telling of his story. Le Guin became in her fiction not one ethnographer or historian but many. She deploys a force of investigators throughout the Hainish-populated parts of the galaxy to rediscover colonies founded millennia before, who observe and collect and draw conclusions that sometimes turn out to be inconsistent with one another—just as human ethnography and ethnographers do.

(8) NATIONAL BIRD. NPR’s All Things Considered says “If You Want To Find The Millennium Falcon, Just Head To The National Cathedral”.

For the last six months, a red-tailed hawk has made its home in the ramparts of the Washington National Cathedral. And now, it officially has a name: Millennium Falcon.

(9) MONSTROUS GOOD STORY. Edmonton Hugo’s Book Club argues that Emil Ferris’ recent graphic novel My Favourite Thing Is Monsters should be strongly considered for nomination for this year’s Best Graphic Story Hugo. They compare the art to that of luminaries like Robert Crumb and Maurice Sendak, and suggest that this artwork elevates is above other contenders for comic book awards this year: “Best Graphic Story 2017 – My Favourite Thing Is Monsters”.

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is the first graphic novel from Chicago-born illustrator and toy designer Emil Ferris. It may be the most significant and worthwhile graphic presentation to be published in the past decade.

Told in the form of a diary written by a 10-year-old girl in late-‘60s Chicago, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is a love-letter to classic horror movies, to science fiction fandom, and to Forrest J. Ackerman’s Famous Monsters Of Filmland.

Ferris weaves a variety of narratives through the work, as the young protagonist Karen Reyes investigates the murder of her mysterious neighbor Anka Silverberg. Reyes’ isolation and alienation are expressed through her transformation (possibly only in her imagination) into a werewolf-style monster.

(10) SAFETY FIRST. Superseding flat-packs? “AutoSaw: Robot carpenter makes custom furniture”.

Robotics have long been used to manufacture mass-produced, flat-pack furniture but MIT’s work could pave the way for robots to create custom furniture for specific purposes and spaces.

The robots will cut the wood correctly, adding the holes needed to assemble it, and carry the component parts around the room.

Compared to existing machines used by carpenters, AutoSaw is considerably cheaper and more mobile. As well as Roomba, the project uses two robots from German firm Kuka – though the particular model utilised by MIT’s team has since been discontinued.

(11) MORE THAN A LITTLE. There was so much penguin poo it was visible from space, says the BBC. Oh, and so were the birds: “Penguin super-colony spotted from space”.

Scientists have stumbled across a huge group of previously unknown Adélie penguins on the most northerly point of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Numbering more than 1.5 million birds, they were first noticed when great patches of their poo, or guano, showed up in pictures taken from space.

The animals are crammed on to a rocky archipelago called the Danger Islands.

(12) JUNK AVOIDANCE. Inspired by Gravity: “The teenage scientist tracking a sea of space junk”. [Video.]

When Amber Yang watched the film Gravity – which features a cataclysmic collision which destroys the International Space Station – it gave her an idea.

She knew that hundreds and thousands of miles above Earth, pieces of wreckage were whizzing around our planet – some of them big enough to cause billions of dollars worth of damage to precious satellites and spacecraft.

So Yang, bored by her schoolwork, decided to try and find a way of tracking it, and ensuring cosmic debris doesn’t become a danger to the next generation of humans venturing into space.

(13) BEST OF BRITISH SF. Here is the table of contents for “Best of British Science Fiction 2017” edited by Donna Scott. Twenty-two stories, from established names and rising stars.

Introduction – Donna Scott
Blinders – Tyler Keevil
In the Night of the Comet (2017) – Adam Roberts
The Walls of Tithonium Chasma – Tim Major
3.8 Missions – Katie Gray
Over You – Jaine Fenn
The Ghosts of Europa Will Keep You Trapped in a Prison You Make for Yourself – Matt Dovey
Uniquo – Aliya Whiteley
Looking for Laika – Laura Mauro
A Good Citizen – Anne Charnock
Mercury Teardrops – Jeff Noon
The Nightingales in Plàtres – Natalia Theodoridou
The Road to the Sea – Lavie Tidhar
When I Close My Eyes – Chris Barnham
Targets – Eric Brown
London Calling – Philip A. Suggars
The Last Word – Ken MacLeod
After the Atrocity – Ian Creasey
Voicemail – Karen McCreedy
Green Boughs Will Cover Thee – Sarah Byrne
Airless – N.J. Ramsden
Product Recall – Robert Bagnall
The Endling Market – E. J. Swift
About the Authors

(14) SPACE MUSIC. Broken Bells’s “The Ghost Inside” is a music video that has spaceships and other sf imagery in it.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Tim Walters, Mark Hepworth, James Davis Nicoll, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 9/23/16 Is There In Pixel No Scrolling?

(1) WOKING UNVEILS WELLS STATUE. H. G. Wells only lived in Woking for 18 months, but the city’s theory is the time there had a big impact on his work, so they’ve put up a statue. This week saw the unveiling of unveiling of a seven-foot statue of the author, to honor his 150th birthday on September 21.

wells-holdng-sphere

Stephen Baxter, president of the British Science Fiction Association and vice president of the HG Wells Society, said: “HG Wells was in this very small town for a very brief period but in that time he produced a novel that changed forever mankind’s view of our infinite future in infinite space.”

Woking was a landing site for the Martian invasion in *War of the Worlds*; some years ago, sculpture illustrating the novel appeared around town. One can see a Martian tripod, a crashed interplanetary cylinder, and [SPOILER ALERT] a bacillus.

In a video on the *Get Surrey* site, sculptor Wesley Harland explains notable features of the work.

On the back of Wells’s chair is “802,701 AD,” the year his narrator visits in *The Time Machine*. Beneath the chair, the red weed from Mars creeps across the ground, as in *War of the Worlds*. And in his hand he holds a model of Professor Cavor’s spherical antigravity vessel, from *The First Men in the Moon*. Harland’s sculpture is made of bronze and, presumably, Cavorite.

(2) COWS IN SPACE. I discovered this on the back of a lunch-sized milk carton – the Cows in Space ttp://www.dairypure.com/cows-in-space game.

(3) THERE’S A HOLE IN THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA. Mark Leeper had a little fun deconstructing the 1959 movie based on Jules Verne’s novel Journey To The Center of the Earth.

Last week I wrote an evaluation of JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (1959), one of my favorite movies of the 1950s and what I consider one of the great adventure films of all times. I find what is wrong with the film forgivable. But I would not feel right about just ignoring the many problems I saw watching the film recently. This is effectively an appendix to that essay listing problems with the writing of JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH.

Jules Verne’s novel leaned rather heavily on lucky coincidence. He started with a note falling out of a book where just the right person could read it. But that is a small coincidence compared to those in the 1959 adaptation. Walter Reisch’s and Charles Brackett’s screenplay seems to consider this a carte blanche and ver and over has fortuitous accidents pushing the story forward. Consider Arne Saknussemm who, knowing he would not return from his expedition, scratched his message into a plumb bob. Somehow this tool made its way back up to the surface from near the center of the earth. Along the way somehow this tool was lightly coated in lava so it look much like another rock. It managed not to fall into the sea surrounding the volcano. Then someone found the rock and sold it individually to a shop in Edinburgh where a student volcanologist found it. What do you figure are the chances of all that happening? Later an explosion blows off the lava jacket and the plumb bob is left shiny and legible once the lava is removed.

(4) THE BIG BOOK OF BIG BOOKS. John Scalzi’s latest piece for the LA Times takes off from Alan Moore’s epic Jerusalem.

Writer Alan Moore, perhaps best known for the classic “Watchmen” graphic novel, has this month released a novel, “Jerusalem,” to generally very positive reviews. There are many words to describe the novel (“epic,” “Joycean,” “vast,” and “show-offingly brilliant” are some of them) but the one word I think that every reader and critic of the work can agree is accurate with regard to the book is “long.” “Jerusalem” clocks in at over 600,000 words, a length that dwarfs such monster books as “Ulysses” (a mere 265,000 words), and exceeds  “Shogun,” “Infinite Jest,” “War and Peace” and either the Old or New Testament individually (but not together).

… When a single word encompasses such a wide range of objects, it has the effect of skewing people’s expectations. I’m a fairly standard working novelist, in that I publish about a novel a year. In one decade, from 2006 to 2016, I wrote eight novels; Alan Moore wrote one. In terms of novel-sized objects, it appears that I have ­vastly outpaced Moore, by a ratio of 8 to 1. But my novels ranged in length from about 75,000 words to about 130,000 words, with an average of about 90,000 words. So across eight novels, I’ve written — or at least, had published — about 720,000 words in novel form. Moore, on the other hand, published more than 600,000.

(5) SELF-PUBLISHED PATRONUS. A lot of Filers were mildly grumpy about the patronus that Pottermore picked for them, but unlike most, RedWombat was ready to solve the problem herself…

I got Chestnut Mare which left me with questions–like how you know it’s chestnut when it’s SILVER!–and also I’m not that fond of horses, so I took it again with a different email, got completely different questions…

And got Bay Stallion.

Filled with burning rage, I drew my own.

(6) TRILOGY TRAILER. Tor/Forge has posted a trailer for Cixin Liu’s Three Body Trilogy on YouTube. I watched it to find out why I should buy the books I’ve already bought. (Reminds me of that cabinet member in Dave justifying the budget to buy advertising that makes people feel better about the American autos they’ve already purchased.)

(7) ROCKET ARRIVAL. Nnedi Okorafor’s Hugo arrived.

So maybe this is a good time for me to thank Elayne Pelz fo dropping off my Hugos this week. And I had John King Tarpinian shoot a photo:

mike-with-hugos-crop

(8) YOU CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE. Atlas Obscura pays a nice graphical tribute to “Places You Can No Longer Go: Ray Bradbury’s House”, which includes one frame based on John King Tarpinian’s iconic photo of the shattered garage published in news services in January 2015.

(9) LONG TIME FRIEND. Scoop hosts Maggie Thompson’s tribute: “In Memoriam: David Kyle”.

That’s some of what a formal obituary would say, but I have to add that David was one of the fan friends I’ve always known: He and Ruth were friends of my mother and father and then of Don and mine, and their kids—Kerry and AC—grew up as friends of my daughter. In fact, our families even “traded daughters” some summers, and Valerie moved to New York City to room with Kerry the year she graduated from high school.

In recent years, David has been acting grandfather to Valerie’s son—and every time I’ve seen David, he’s been the same delightful friend I’ve known for years. His body grew weaker, but his wit continued to entertain friends and fans alike.

The post also tells some of the byplay between ultimate comics fan Thompson, and Kyle, who didn’t care for comics.

(10) SF-THEMED CAT SHOW. The Cat/SF conspiracy continues. Mark-kitteh reports, “The UK’s Supreme Cat Show (yes, this is a real thing) will have a SF-themed competition for Best Decorated Pen, and the theme continues with special guests appearing including Colin Baker, Paul Darrow, Michael Keating, John Leeson & Peter Purves.”

[Thanks to Bill Higgins, Mark-kitteh, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]