Pixel Scroll 12/31/23 The Fewer Pixels, The Less Scrolling

(1) PARENTS OF THE YEAR. Cora Buhlert has posted a wonderful pair of articles explaining her selections for two annual awards she presents.

First: “The 2023 Darth Vader Parenthood Award for Outstandingly Horrible Fictional Parents”.

…The cartoonishly evil parents, meanwhile, show kids that no matter how bad their relationship with their parents may be, at least their parents are not Darth Vader and don’t blow up entire star systems. But these characters also serve another purpose, namely to show kids that they need not be defined by who their parents are. They can be different, they can be more. Luke Skywalker could grow up to become a Jedi knight, even though his biological father did his utmost to exterminate them. Adora could overcome a lifetime of gaslighting to become She-Ra, the heroine she was always meant to be. Particularly to kids growing up in less than ideal circumstances, these are very powerful messages….

The winner is:

Miro of the House of Niros, High King of Eternia

Some of you may now be asking, “Who?”, while others may be wondering “Why?” Like I said, this winner will probably be a little controversial….

For the reasons Cora gives I didn’t feel much was spoiled by naming the winner here. Because now you want to go and read the post just to find out who the heck that is.

However, when it comes to the winner of “The 2023 Jonathan and Martha Kent Fictional Parent of the Year Award”, I don’t want to steal any thunder from the presentation:

… As for why I felt the need to introduce a companion award, depictions of parenthood in popular culture have been undergoing a paradigm shift in the past few years with more positive portrayals of supportive and loving parents and fewer utterly terrible parents. Personally, I believe that this shift is a very good thing, because the reason that I started the Darth Vader Parenthood Award in the first place is because I was annoyed by all the terrible parents in pop culture. For while most real world parents may not be perfect, at least they do their best….

(2) HONOURS LIST 2024. The UK’s New Year Honours List 2024 includes a number of celebrities, a couple of them of genre interest. In the Guardian: “Glastonbury founder and TikTok organist make new year honours list”.

…The author Kate Mosse received a CBE, which she said was a recognition of the importance of the Women’s prize for fiction, of which she is a co-founder.

The novelist, 62, whose books have been translated into 38 languages and published in more than 40 countries, is best known for the Languedoc Trilogy – Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel – and The Joubert Family Chronicles – The Burning Chambers, The City Of Tears and The Ghost Ship.

She has been made a CBE for services to literature, to women and to charity.

The Women’s prize for fiction is now one of the biggest literary prizes in the world. Mosse said everybody involved in it “deserves all the accolades they could have”, as she applauded the “group effort”.

She added: “Quite often those things do get overlooked, not deliberately, but just there isn’t a system for them.

“So it does feel that although obviously this is for me, it’s very much an acknowledgment of the importance of the Women’s prize, and that it matters that women support other women.”

Elsewhere in literature, the bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith was knighted. The creator of The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series as well as the 44 Scotland Street novels has been given a knighthood for services to literature, academia and charity.

In film and television, the director and producer Sir Ridley Scott, whose works include Gladiator, Alien and Napoleon, is made a Knight Grand Cross, upgrading his previous knighthood, while Game Of Thrones actor Oliver Ford Davies has said he is “honoured” to be made an OBE. The performer, 84, best known for his Shakespearean stage work, found new fans as Maester Cressen in the HBO fantasy series and as Sio Bibble in the Star Wars prequel trilogy films released in 1999, 2002 and 2005. He has been recognised for services to drama….

(3) ABDICATING IN JANUARY. “Queen Margrethe II of Denmark to Step Down” reports the New York Times. And why is that story part of today’s Scroll? Keep reading.

…Much of the queen’s popularity has been tied to her personality and artistic streak. Even after she entered the line of succession at 13, she pursued her interest in art, earning a diploma in prehistoric archaeology at the University of Cambridge and studying at Aarhus University in Denmark, the Sorbonne and the London School of Economics.

She also produced her own artwork, including paintings shown in museums, decoupages — a type of cut-and-paste artwork — and drawings. (Her illustrations were adapted for a “Lord of the Ring” book under a pseudonym, Ingahild Grathmer; the book’s publisher approached her after she sent copies to J.R.R. Tolkien as fan mail in 1970.)

More recently, she served as the costume and production designer for “Ehrengard: The Art of Seduction,” a Netflix film adapting a fairy tale, that includes wardrobes and sets based on her drawings and other artworks. “I work when I can find the time,” she told The New York Times this past year, “and I seem usually to be able to find the time.”…

(4) WHO’S TO BLAME FOR BILLIONAIRES’ PET PROJECTS. Noah Smith offers a post “In defense of science fiction” at Noahpinion.

As everyone who reads this blog knows, I’m a big fan of science fiction (see my list of favorites from last week)! So when people start bashing the genre, I tend to leap to its defense. Except this time, the people doing the bashing are some serious heavyweights themselves — Charles Stross, the celebrated award-winning sci-fi author, and Tyler Austin Harper, a professor who studies science fiction for a living. Those are certainly not the kind of opponents one takes on lightly! (And I happen to like and respect both of them.)

So yes, I’m still going to leap to science fiction’s defense, but I’m going to do it very carefully….

… Instead of billionaires mistaking well-intentioned sci-fi authors’ intentions, Stross is alleging that the billionaires are getting Gernsback and Campbell’s intentions exactly right. His problem is simply that Gernsback and Campbell were kind of right-wing, at least by modern standards, and he’s worried that their sci-fi acted as propaganda for right-wing ideas.

This is a much simpler argument, but it’s also harder to evaluate. Where does the causality lie? Do right-wing billionaires arrive at their political convictions by reading right-wing sci-fi? Or do they simply prefer literature that’s aligned with their existing values? This is really hard to know. For what it’s worth, my impulse says it’s the latter — there’s such an ideological and stylistic diversity of sci-fi out there in the world that anyone who reads it widely will encounter a very wide range of political viewpoints. For every Robert Heinlein there’s an Ursula K. LeGuin, for every Vernor Vinge there’s an Iain M. Banks. Heck, there’s even a Charles Stross….

(5) SPUFFORD ON ‘THE BOOKS OF MY LIFE’. [Item by Steven French.] “Francis Spufford: ‘It was the sorrow of my life at age 10 that there wasn’t one more Narnia book to read’” he tells the Guardian. Spufford is a prize-winning non-fiction and fiction author who gives several shout-outs to SFF works here.

(Regarding the “one more Narnia book”, according to Wikipedia, “In March 2019, it was reported that Spufford had written an unofficial novel, The Stone Table, set in the universe of C. S. Lewis’s Narnia series. This takes place during a gap in fictional fiction between The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Spufford distributed self-printed copies to friends. The novel was praised as a ‘seamless recreation of Lewis’s writing-style’. The author hoped to obtain permission from the C. S. Lewis estate to publish it commercially. In the absence of permission, the earliest publication date would be 2034, seventy years after Lewis’s death, when the copyright on the original books will expire in the UK.”)

My earliest reading memory
Tolkien’s The Hobbit, read around the time of my sixth birthday, when I was home from school with mumps. It turned me from a painstaking decoder of printed letters into someone flying through a new medium. Books have been portals for me ever since. Many other things too, but portals first.

My favourite book growing up
CS Lewis’s Narnia books. It was the sorrow of my life at the age of 10 that there wasn’t one more of them to read. A few years ago I found myself in a position to do something about that, at least for myself, but (cough) I am under legal obligations not to talk about it.

The book that changed me as a teenager
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin, which did things I didn’t know were allowed with gender and with the shape of story, and showed me that an imagined setting, a built world, could ring as true narratively as anything observed in the rooms or the streets of this world.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born December 31, 1949 Ellen Datlow, 74. I first encountered her stellar editing when I picked up the first volume of what would Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror but was then just Year’s Best Fantasy, then edited by both her and Terri Windling (who with volume two explicitly took over the the horror selection.) (From the sixteenth volume to the last one, the twenty-second,  Windling was replaced by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant.) Any volume has enough excellent fiction for many evening of great reading. 

(The packager for these told me in an email conversation that there were discussions about bring these out as epubs. Unfortunately as those rights weren’t incorporated in the original contracts with the authors, that wasn’t possible.) 

Not surprisingly, the series picked up multiple World Fantasy Awards. And a Stoker as well. 

Speaking of Awards, let’s do this now. Ellen Datlow has won the Hugo for Best Professional Editor twice, and the Hugo for Best Editor – Short Form six times. Her editing work has garnered five Bram Stoker Awards, two International Horror Guild Awards for Best Anthology, three Shirley Jackson Awards for Best Anthology, as well as ten World Fantasy Awards. She was named recipient of the  Karl Edward Wagner Award, given at the British Fantasy Convention, for “outstanding contribution to the genre”. And she has received the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Horror Writers Association. I’m very, very impressed. 

Now back to her actual editing work. So what else should we be looking at? Well everything she’s edited is top notch but that goes with saying, so let’s narrow down just a bit by dealing with what I like the best. 

Thirty years ago, she and Terri Windling (no surprise  who her co-editor was) started out their Fairy Tale anthologies which I’m going to list all of their titles here because I adore them — Snow White, Blood RedBlack Thorn, White Rose, Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears,  Black Swan, White RavenSilver Birch, Blood Moon and Black Heart, Ivory Bones. As always their choices in stories are exquisite. 

Next for me in terms of how great they are is the Mythic Fiction anthologies, again edited with Windling. There’s four and I’ll single out The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest and The Coyote Road as the ones I like the best.

Ok, so there’s one-offs of which she’s done at least three dozen to date. My absolute favorite? Another one she edited with Windling — Salon Fantastique: Fifteen Original Tales of Fantasy. No theme, just great stories.  Haunted Legends edited with Nick Mamatas is themed obviously and you can tell that theme; it is deliciously scary, and the Hauntings anthology which edited by no one but herself is darker and has more of a bite to it. 

Supernatural Noir, another one of her solo efforts, is worth reading just for Caitlín R. Kiernan’s “The Maltese Unicorn”. Seriously it is. 

She’s knee deep in the blood associated with editing, sorry I couldn’t resist, her ongoing The Best Horror of The Year anthology series, now fourteen volumes long. And if you want to see what she thinks is interesting for genre books, she does that over at Cemetery Dance in The Last Ten Books I’ve Read column, the last being the March issue of this year as that publication isn’t known for its regular date of coming out. Ever.  

David G. Hartwell, left, Ellen Datlow, right, at the 2015 World Fantasy Con. Photo by and © Andrew Porter.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! covers all the monsters’ New Year’s Resolutions.  

(8) TOPICS IN ANIME. A new episode of Anime Explorations has dropped just in time to wrap up the year:: Anime Explorations Podcast: Episode 15: Anime Music Videos & Arcadia of My Youth”.

This month we memorialize Leiji Matsumoto and the creator of the Anime Music Video (not necessarily in that order).

We also talked about the Macross II Kickstarter,

(9) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Mr. Sci-Fi – Marc Scott Zicree – joins a tour of Hollywood sff props in “Space Command Coolest Props Ever!!!”

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Michael Burianyk, Alexander Case, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jan Vaněk Jr.]

Pixel Scroll 11/9/23 If You Tape Bacon To A Pixel Scroll Does It Always Fall Bacon Side Down?

(1) WHEN GRAVITY FAILS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Chuck Jones’ rules for Coyote cartoons said it works best when gravity is what defeats him. Instead, the change in management at Warner Bros seems to be what has claimed his long-awaited film. The mixed live/animated Coyote Vs. Acme is rumored to have been consigned to the dustbin, despite being a finished product. There it will join Bat Girl and Scoob Holiday Haunt!, both already brought to an ignominious end by the Bros. “‘Coyote Vs. Acme’: Finished Live/Action Animated Pic Shelved Completely By Warner Bros As Studio Takes $30M Tax Write-off”Deadline has the astonishing story.

In another maneuver by the David Zaslav-run Warner Bros Discovery to kill movies, we hear on very good authority that Warner Bros will not be releasing the live-action/animated hybrid Coyote vs. Acme with the conglom taking an estimated $30M write-down on the $70M production. We understand the write-down for the pic was applied to the recently reported Q3.

This reps the third time that Zaslav’s Warner Bros has pulled the plug on a movie greenlit by the previous Warner Media administration; the other two being the Max destined Bat Girl and the animated Scoob Holiday Haunt!.

The difference here is that Coyote vs. Acme is a completed movie with very good test scores, 14 points above the family norm. We’re told that the cash-strapped Warners finds that it’s not worth the cost to release theatrically, or to sell to other buyers (and there are parties who are interested for their own streaming services; we hear Amazon kicked the tires). After reporting a mixed third quarter, the best means for Warners money is a tax write-off. At one point, Coyote vs. Acme was dated on July 21, 2023 for theatrical release before getting pulled; that date placed by the ultimate $1.4 billion grossing Warner Bros biggest hit of all-time, Barbie….

(2) LEAVING THE EXPANSE BEHIND. Gizmodo is on hand as “The Expanse’s James S.A. Corey Announces a New Sci-Fi Trilogy”.

… Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck—who write together as James S.A. Corey—have nixed any return to the world of The Expanse, [but] they’re still working on sci-fi projects together, as today’s big announcement attests.

Fans can look forward to the arrival of The Mercy of Gods, a space opera trilogy “that sees humanity fighting for its survival in a war as old as the universe itself,” according to a press release from publisher Orbit. This book will kick off the Captive’s War trilogy, and it will be released August 6, 2024….

(3) SOMETHING’S MISSING. Victoria Struass posts a “Contest Caution: Lichfield Institute Writing Contest” at Writer Beware.

Just about every temptation for a hungry writer is here. Big bucks for the winners. Feedback on every submission from distinguished judges–at least, one assumes they’re distinguished, since they’re finalists for important literary awards. Monthly stipends! Consideration by literary agencies! What more could a contest offer, even if it does charge a $15 submission fee?

Well…

You’ll probably already have noticed some…oddities…both in the screenshot above and on the contest page. The mis-spelling of Hemingway, to start (plus, it’s PEN–it’s an acronym–not Pen). The curious absence of judges’ names. Guidelines that fail to state when winners will be announced and how they will be notified. An entry form with a copy-and-paste box for submitting your entry (have fun reading, no-name judges)….

(4) IN A MIRROR, VERY DARKLY. “Murky reflections: why sci-fi needs to stop imitating Black Mirror” argues Adrian Horton in the Guardian.

…Black Mirror knock-offs are a scourge of the streaming era, which unfortunately incentivizes dressed-up spins on previous successes over truly cerebral or ambitious imaginations of the future….

(5) JEOPARDY! Last night’s episode of Jeopardy! devoted an entire category to science fictional worlds. Andrew Porter found these responses noteworthy.

Category: At a Loss for Worlds

Answer: Survivors escape to Bronson Beta in the 1933 Philip Wylie & Edwin Balmer novel “When” this happens

Wrong question: What is “When Tomorrow Comes”?

No one could ask, “When Worlds Collide”

Same category: It’s the real name of the planet referred to in the title of a 1965 Frank Herbert novel.

He bet it all, got it wrong: “What is Dune?”

Correct question: What is Arrakis?

Same category: At the end of Arthur C. Clarke’s “Childhood’s End” this world is destroyed.

No one could ask, “What is the Earth?”

(6) OCTOTHORPE. Episode 96 of Octothorpe, “A Less QR-Code-Using Society”, is ready for listeners.

John Coxon didn’t, Alison Scott would’ve done, and Liz Batty tried. We round up the rest of the news we didn’t talk about in Episode 95, featuring a discussion of how the Chengdu Worldcon went, and the much-anticipated reappearance of THE LIZ BAT. Listen here! 

(7) FEED ME. “John Lewis Christmas Ad Stars a Playful Venus Flytrap” explains Adweek.

In the U.K., watching retailer John Lewis’ Christmas ad is as much of a festive ritual as decorating the tree or exchanging gifts. This year, with a different agency and marketing strategy, the brand is hoping to cement its role in both old and new holiday traditions. 

The new ad, titled “Snapper,” follows the unusual tale of a Venus flytrap. While at a flea market with his family, a boy discovers a seed packet promising to grow into the “perfect Christmas tree.” 

Instead, a carnivorous plant emerges from the soil. Though the boy loves Snapper, the mischievous plant causes disruption and is eventually banished outside after it grows too big for the house. 

On Christmas morning, the boy leaves his family’s normal tree to bring a gift to the Venus flytrap. Snapper spits out confetti and gifts in return, inspiring the family to embrace an unconventional addition to the festivities. … 

(8) FRANK BORMAN (1928-2023). “Astronaut Frank Borman, commander of the first Apollo mission to the moon, has died at age 95” reports Yahoo!

Astronaut Frank Borman, who commanded Apollo 8’s historic Christmas 1968 flight that circled the moon 10 times and paved the way for the lunar landing the next year, has died. He was 95.

Borman died Tuesday in Billings, Montana, according to NASA.

Borman also led troubled Eastern Airlines in the 1970s and early ’80s after leaving the astronaut corps….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 9, 1921 Alfred Coppel. Have I ever mentioned how much I love pulp? Everything from the writers to the artwork to the magazines themselves are so, so cool. And this writer was one of the most prolific such authors of the Fifties and Sixties. That he was also a SF writer is an added bonus. Indeed, his first science fiction story was “Age of Unreason” in a 1947 Amazing Stories. Under the pseudonym of Robert Cham Gilman, he wrote the Rhada sequence of galactic space opera novels aimed at a young adult market. Wiki claims he was writing under A.C. Marin as well but I cannot find any record of this. (Died 2004.)
  • Born November 9, 1924 Lawrence T. Shaw. A Hugo Award-winning fan, author, editor and literary agent. In the Forties and Fifties, Larry Shaw edited NebulaInfinity Science Fiction and Science Fiction Adventures. He received a Special Committee Award during the 1984 Worldcon for lifetime achievement as an editor. His Axe fanzine (co-edited with his wife Noreen) was nominated at Chicon III for a Hugo. (Died 1985.)
  • Born November 9, 1954 Rob Hansen, 69. British fan, active since the Seventies who has edited and co-edited numerous fanzines including his debut production Epsilon. And he was the 1984 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate. His nonfiction works such as Then: Science Fiction Fandom in the UK: 1930-1980, lasted updated just a few years ago, are invaluable. 
  • Born November 9, 1988 Tahereh Mafi, 35. Iranian-American whose Furthermore, a YA novel about a pale girl living in a world of both color and magic of which she has neither, I highly recommended it. Whichwood is a companion novel to this work. She also has a young adult dystopian thriller series.
  • Born November 9, 1989 Alix E. Harrow, 34. Winner at Dublin 2019 of the Best Short Story Hugo for “Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies” which also was nominated for a BSFA and Nebula Award. Other Hugo-nominated work: The Ten Thousand Doors of January was nomination at CoNZealand; “A Spindle Splintered” novella and “Mr. death” short story at Chicon 8; and “A Mirror Mended” novella this year. She has three excellent novels to date, The Ten Thousand Doors of January, The Once and Future Witches which was nominated for a WFA and the just released Starling House.  She has a double handful of short stories not yet collected anywhere.  More’s the pity. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Foxes in Love features a Dune crossover.

(11) BRING ME THE HEAD OF C-3PO. “Star Wars C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels is selling film memorabilia” reports BBC News.

The actor who played C-3PO in Star Wars said “it feels like it is time” to sell the costumes, props and scripts he kept from the iconic films.

Anthony Daniels, 77, is parting company with items from his personal collection via Hertfordshire-based auctioneer Propstore from Thursday.

The famous gold helmet he wore for his character in the first film from 1977 is estimated to sell for up to £1m.

Daniels said he was excited for his collection to “find a good home”.

“I realised I had these items and they’re not unloved but they are unlooked at – we don’t have them crowding the sitting room,” he said, explaining why he has chosen to sell the items now.

“Will I feel sad to part with them? No. I will enjoy the fact people will cherish and display them.”…

Propstore marked the Screen-matched Light-up C-3PO Head as sold, however, the press has not yet revealed the amount of the winning bid.

(12) FANHISTORY ART ZOOM ON YOUTUBE. Fanac.org’s two-part Zoom with a panel of fanartists now can be viewed on YouTube.

Part 1

Title: Evolution of Art(ists) (Pt 1 of 2): Grant Canfield, Tim Kirk, Jim Shull, and Dan Steffan

Description: In part 1 of this 2-part session, you’ll hear their “origin stories”, their influences, how they found science fiction fandom, and what they perceive as the unique benefits of fandom to young artists. You’ll find out why artists should avoid hecto, and torturous tales of justifying margins by hand. There are intriguing insights into adjusting one’s art to the reproduction medium, and how fandom helped people along, especially towards professional careers. Larger than life figures make their appearance, including several stories of Bill Rotsler.

There’s plenty more, including their views on Carl Barks, why Dan started “Lizard Inn”, Jim’s take on the slippery slope to having a fanzine too big to staple without an industrial stapler, Tim on his deep desire to tell stories, and Grant’s opinion of “Starling”.  The fun continues in Part 2.

Part 2

Title: Evolution of Art(ists) (Pt 2 of 2): Grant Canfield, Tim Kirk, Jim Shull, and Dan Steffan

Description: In part 2 of this 2-part session, the fan art discussion continues, with more on professional careers as well. The conversation ranges from Tolkien’s house to Harlan Ellison’s house, from “The Last Dangerous Visions” to Bill Gibson, from Harlan Ellison stories to BNFs that had an impact. There are more Rotsler stories too. You’ll hear about silent jam sessions, “Esoteric Fan Art Tales”, and the impact that conventions had on artists who worked in isolation.  A real treat is the slideshow of samples of our panelists’ art, with their live comments on what each piece represents.  

Q&A starts about 45 minutes into the video, with comments as well as questions, including Ted White’s discussion of the impact of Mondrian’s work on modern magazine design. Lest you believe that fanzines are a thing of the past, the video wraps up with a plug for an upcoming paper fanzine by faned Geri Sullivan. 

(13) A COSMIC EVENT. FirstShowing introduces “US Trailer for French ‘Cosmic Event’ Sci-Fi Thriller Film ‘The Gravity’”.

“After the alignment, the world will change forever. Everything will start over.”  Dark Star Pictures has released an official US trailer for an indie sci-fi action thriller film from France titled The Gravity, made by filmmaker Cédric Ido. This intially premiered at the 2022 Toronto Film Festival last year and it already opened in France earlier this year. Finally set for a US release on VOD starting in November. A mysterious cosmic event upsets the Earth’s gravity and sets the sky ablaze in a red hue, creating chaos in a futuristic Parisian suburb. This French “genre-busting” thriller is more of a story about street culture in the suburbs, following a local band of teenagers and their feud with other residents in the area….

(14) SPACE COMMAND. Marc Scott Zicree has dropped “Why Science Fiction Matters! Unreleased Space Command Full Scene”.

Meantime there five days remain in the Kickstarter to raise funds for “Space Command Forgiveness: Post-Production”. At this time fans have pledged almost $52,000 of the $60,000 goal.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/7/23 Like Pixels Through The Hourglass, So Are The Scrolls Of Our Lives

(1) NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION – AND UNOFFICIAL HUGO FANZINE AND FAN WRITER PACKETS. There is less than one month until the Hugo Awards voting deadline and yet the Hugo Voter Packet is still missing the content for the Fanzine and Fan Writer categories without any explanation or progress. Chinese fans are taking their own initiative to make them available.  

Two days ago Arthur Liu (“Heaven Dule”) posted a compilation of fan Hugo finalist packet material currently accessible from public links: “Worldcon Special | Hugo Award Fan Magazine & Fan Author Vote Reading Pack”. He says in his introduction [machine translated from Chinese to English]:

On August 2023, 8, the Hugo Awards Voting Reading Pack (Issue 17) was released, which did not include voting references for the three categories of Best Fan Magazine, Best Fan Author and Best Dramatic Performance. As of September 9, less than a full month before the voting deadline, there is no follow-up announcement. In this connection, we have compiled a list of public reading reference materials for voters to compile the Best Fan Magazine and Fan Author Winners. Let the official belong to the official, and the fans to the fans.

Note: that intro was also quoted in a Weibo post by Kehuan Guang Nian/SF Light Year, who occasionally comments on File 770 under a handle. He has over a third of a million followers, so the concerns being voiced by some people in China are being widely heard.

Ersatz Culture has updated their own comprehensive index to 2023 Hugo Award Voter Packet Contents. (The direct link to the Fanzine and Fan Writer categories is here.)  Here is a screencap from that website.

(2) JOURNEY PLANET VOTER PACKET CONTENTS. Journey Planet has taken their own steps to remedy the Hugo Voter Packet’s failure (so far) to distribute their  material, which is now available at this website

(3) CHENGDU WORLDCON VENUE UPDATE. The Chengdu urban blogger skyxiang1991 posted some photos from the convention center construction, which have been tweeted by Ersatz Culture.

(4) YOU CONTROL THE VERTICAL. Ursula Vernon is running a choose-your-own-adventure game on Tumblr: “The Book Of The Gear”, with audience polls used to pick which alternative is pursued.

Long, long ago, before Twitter descended into its end-stage hellscape, I ran a few iterations of a weird little choose-your-own-adventure game there, where I used the poll functions to offer options as we traversed a strange concrete labyrinth. I’d like to do that again. But as the shortest poll I can run is one day, this is more like a play-by-mail than a real-time on-the-fly. Fewer choices, but hey, you do get much longer descriptions!…

Here’s an excerpt from the first installment.

Let’s begin, shall we?

You, friend, are the latest graduate of the Wentworth School Of Exploration and Adventure (Goooo Fighting Codfish!) the second-best explorer’s school in the city. You left behind your grandmother’s cabbage farm in pursuit of higher, better, possibly more fatal things.

It was at Wentworth that you first came across a reference to the works of Eland the Younger, that wandering naturalist, historian…okay, occasionally out-and-out liar…and his great fragmentary work, the Book of the Gear. It detailed his descent into a great clockwork labyrinth, filled with strange creatures and stone gears. Even for Eland, it’s a bit weird. Most scholars dismiss it outright as a fabrication, and the few professors who would talk to you about it strongly suggested that it was dangerous and you should ignore any rumors about its location and do something else. (Possibly on one of their projects! For course credit, obviously, not money.)

You didn’t listen….

(5) FRANK TALK ABOUT A TOXIC HISTORY. Kristine Kathryn Rusch doesn’t just talk about the latest F&SF kerfuffle, but surveys decades of issues in “Business Musings: My Magazine. My Voice. My Rules”.

…I have been quite reluctant to weigh in on the F&SF mess for personal reasons. I believe that rescinding that contract was the absolute right thing to do, and I will get to that in a moment.

But let me say this first:

I try very hard not to discuss The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. I think Sheree Renée Thomas is a fantastic editor. She’s done a spectacular job at F&SF. I think she’s managed to honor the magazine’s traditions and bring it solidly into the 21st century.

I wish she had a better boss. But I have remained mostly quiet about Gordon Van Gelder. The transition between my editorship and his was ugly, with him sending a form letter to everyone with a story in inventory, telling them that the editing on their stories was poor and the stories needed to be re-edited. That was but one thing that he did when he came on board. The microaggressions continued for decades, including leaving me out of as much of the history of the magazine as possible (including the Wikipedia page, except as a name, until people complained).

The behind-the-scenes stuff got so ugly that a friend of mine, a big-name corporate lawyer, wanted to take my case for free because he said it was a textbook case of tortious interference. I did not let my friend or, later, another lawyer who offered, take the case because I was not going to edit any longer. I didn’t need editing work. If I had, I would have had to take them up on going to court.

But I was no longer interested in editing. I was more concerned with my fiction career. If Gordon and his friends managed to destroy my reputation under the Rusch name, I could—and did—write under pen names. I didn’t want to spend time in court, even though a few other lawyers (and one appellate court judge) who learned the story agreed that the case was a slam dunk.

But let’s just say that I have very little good to say about Gordon, and the lack of respect he showed, not just me, but most women in his orbit….

…Sheree has to walk a tight line between her boss and her own voice. She’s been doing so for three years now. But this conflict spilled into the open, and Gordon, acting in a typically insensitive manner (at best), left her out to dry for nearly six weeks.

That’s the problem here.

Not rescinding the acceptance.

No magazine should ever be forced to buy something from anyone they find abhorrent. Or from anyone who espouses different views than the magazine itself.

Every magazine has a voice and a perspective. Sheree’s assignment is to maintain the voice of a seventy-three year-old magazine while making that magazine relevant to 2023. She has brought in new voices while keeping some of the old ones. She has maintained the reading experience for long-time subscribers and has managed to bring in new ones along the way.

She’s doing an amazing job.

It’s a balancing act that all editors face….

(6) IN THE TRENCHES. And if you can take it, here’s some more publishing truth. On the Publishing Rodeo Podcast, Sunyi Dean and Scott Drakeford interview Kameron Hurley: “Why Don’t We Just Quit?”. Transcript at the link.

…Kameron
I couldn’t quit my job. There was no way that that was going to happen. We actually got married because his health insurance is this is before Obamacare. His health insurance was going to went out. We were going to be screwed. He was like, I’m going to die. For me, I needed to realize, I wanted to be transparent that just because someone seems to be successful, quote-unquote, there are some years I’ll make $5,000 writing that year, right? With patron now, I make much more, but that’s because of patron. I make way more than I do in book advances every year, let me tell you, especially because I’m way behind this current book. Because let me tell you, you get behind because of a pandemic or something like that. You don’t get paid until you send them the rest of the book. So you’re just sitting there going, Crap, I need to finish a book or I’m not going to get paid. So it’s understanding the way that those economics actually work. And just because someone has written a seminal novel or has written 25 novels does not mean that they’re not waking up at 06:00 a.m. And going to be a marketing strategist and getting yelled at by clients all day.

Kameron
That’s what I did today. So it’s understanding that there’s a lot more going on the background than a lot of people will present. And I think that it gives, especially newer writers, this really warped view of what success means, of what that trajectory is. Martha Wells was putting out book after book after book since I was a teenager. And not really like it was… She was just this reliable, wonderful storyteller and nothing broke out until Murderbot. And she even said at one point, she’s just like, I didn’t realize it until I looked up one day that my career was almost over. And she ended up signing with one of the publishers that I did that went bankrupt, just how I met her. But I think that people forget that sometimes you can go, Victoria Schwab talks about this. She refers to what? Eleven books were midlist books that was out of print within two years, her first book. And I like those stories because they are much more typical of the actual experience that the vast majority of writers have….

 (7) BOUCHERCON COVID INFECTION REPORT. Lee Goldberg has been tracking Covid infection reports among people who attended last weekend’s Bouchercon. “My informal tally is up to 20 #Bouchercon2023 attendees announcing their infection on Twitter. I wouldn’t be surprised if the actual total of infected attendees is at least 3 times as many…”

(8) THE WRONG KIND OF GREEN. [Item by Bruce D. Arthurs.] Lauren Panepinto’s essay, “The Envy of Non-Creatives” on Muddy Colors addresses an important aspect of AI art generation and why some people are in favor of it.

…. Some of you will read this and say, duh, I have experienced this first hand. It’s very common for artists and authors to lose friends when they make the jump to “going pro” and finding success. I work with so many authors, and it’s a given that when you publish your first book you lose a good number of friends. And it’s almost always the friends who also wanted to become an author. It’s because those friends were fine encouraging you when you were all amateurs together…but if you put the work in and level up, then it can be a harsh wake-up call to the folks in your life who haven’t put the same work and time into their own dreams. And many of hem would rather project that self-hatred onto someone else. I know many professional artists have experienced this as well. If you haven’t experienced this, then I think it is still important to think about. It’s been disheartening to see how many non-artists have leaped to defend the AI platforms, and I struggled to understand why. Put aside the businesses who want to save money — I’m talking about individuals who have nothing to gain financially from these platforms. It’s also something important to keep in mind when people try to convince us of that pesky myth that an artist must starve, must suffer, must be partially insane to make good art. That that’s the price we pay for creativity. It’s not true. Yes, there can be a correlation between mental illness and creativity (I’ve written on that before) but it’s not a causation. There’s deeper meaning there and it’s important for us as artists to see that clearly, not fall into the self-defeating traps society can often set for us….

(9) IT’S GREAT TO BEAT YOUR FEET. Cory Doctorow, in a New York Times opinion piece, says “Burning Man Is Always a Challenge, but Burners Like Me Know This Time Is Different”.

… Obviously, the weather at the ending was also one for the history books — for very different reasons. Not only did we get more heavy rains, compounding rarity upon rarity, but they arrived at the worst possible time, near the end of the event, when everyone’s supplies of food, water and fuel were low.

The storm turned the playa’s microscopic dust into a bedeviling clay that mired everything in clinging mud. Just walking was a challenge: The mud stuck to your shoes and turned your feet into tragicomic irregular spheres that grew heavier with each step. Worse, all this movement churned up the playa, marring the surface and creating pockmarks that retained water, slowing the drying out and stranding attendees for longer.

Though such rainstorms are all but unheard-of, harsh weather at Burning Man is absolutely normal. I’ve been caught in at least one white-out dust storm every year. This is how the playa teaches patience. Whatever pleasurable thing you find yourself doing is every bit as fun as the thing you were planning to do, so enjoy it.

This is how the playa teaches solidarity. The ultrafine dust infiltrates every bearing of every machine. The gusting winds blow over shelters and tear reinforced grommets. Your goggles break and the blowing, burning dust gets into your eyes. You help your neighbors. Your neighbors help you. The “radical self-reliance” of Burning Man isn’t the final word — it is counterpart to the event’s “radical inclusion.”…

(10) GOOGLE TWEAKS POLITICAL AD RULES. BBC News reports a new policy: “Google: Political adverts must disclose use of AI”.

Google will soon require that political ads on its platforms let people know when images and audio have been created using artificial intelligence (AI).

The rules have been created as a response to the “growing prevalence of tools that produce synthetic content”, a Google spokesperson told the BBC.

The change is scheduled for November, about a year ahead of the next US presidential election.

There are fears AI will supercharge disinformation around the campaigns.

Google’s existing ad policies already ban manipulating digital media to deceive or mislead people about politics, social issues, or matters of public concern.

But this update will require election-related ads to “prominently disclose” if they contain “synthetic content” that depicts real or realistic-looking people or events.

Google suggested labels such as “this image does not depict real events” or “this video content was synthetically generated” will work as flags….

(11) POPULAR MARYLAND SFF CON HOTEL CLOSING. [Item by Dale Arnold.] The Delta Hunt Valley Hotel (Formerly the Hunt Valley Inn) which was the location of many past Balticons, once a World Fantasy Con, and present convention hotel for the SF genre media cons Shoreleave, Farpoint and Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention will be closing permanently at the end of October 2023. Once upon a time the Hunt Valley Inn was considered the best hotel for SF cons in the area with a sea of free parking that the fans loved. Unfortunately, that sea of free parking on 29 acres in a desirable spot right off an interstate interchange proved so attractive that a development group bought the hotel in 2018 and although they were guarded about future plans it is now confirmed they have created a plan for mixed use office, retail etc. and will now demolish the hotel and rebuild. Many fans noticed the hotel was not being invested in since 2018, but we all hoped the grand old facility would bounce back, but alas it is not to be. 

(12) IT’S A THEORY. Electoral-vote.com took note of a sff reference in coverage of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial:

…state senator Angela Paxton, Ken Paxton’s wife, whom he cheated on, and is required to attend the proceedings by the state constitution, showed up in a red dress. I’ll suggest that this is not to show support for Republicans, but rather a reference to the Wheel of Time‘s Red Aja, the notoriously misandrist faction, and whose TV series just launched its second season. She’s out for blood.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 7, 1795 John William Polidori. His most remembered work was “The Vampyre”, the first modern vampire story published in 1819. Although originally and erroneously accredited to Lord Byron, both Byron and Polidori affirmed that the story was his. Because of this work, he is credited by several as the creator of the vampire genre of fantasy fiction. (Died 1821.)
  • Born September 7, 1921 Donald William Heiney. Under the pseudonym of MacDonald Harris, which he used for all of his fiction, wrote one of the better modern set novels using the Minotaur myth, Bull Fever. His time travel novel, Screenplay, where the protagonist ends up in a film noir 1920s Hollywood is also well crafted. Most of his work is available from the usual digital suspects.  (Died 1993.)
  • Born September 7, 1924 Gerry de la Ree. He published fanzines such as Sun Spots which ran for 29 issues from the Thirties through the Forties, and as editor, he published such work as The Book of Virgil FinlayA Hannes Bok Sketchbook, and Clark Ashton Smith – Artist. He was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1993.)
  • Born September 7, 1955 Mira Furlan. She’s best known for her role as the Minbari Ambassador Delenn on entire run of Babylon 5, and also as Danielle Rousseau on Lost, a series I did not watch. She’s reunited with Bill Mumy and Bruce Boxleitner at least## briefly in Marc Zicree’s Space Command. She died of the West Nile virus. Damn. (Died 2021.)
  • Born September 7, 1956 Mark Dawidziak, 67. A Kolchak: Night Stalker fan of the first degree. He has written The Night Stalker Companion: A 30th Anniversary Tribute, Kolchak: The Night Stalker ChroniclesKolchak: The Night Stalker Casebook and The Kolchak Papers: Grave Secret. And more additional works than I care to note here. To my knowledge, he’s not written a word about the rebooted Night Stalker series. Proving he’s a man of discriminating taste. 
  • Born September 7, 1961 Susan Palwick,  62. She won the Rhysling Award for “The Neighbor’s Wife,” the Crawford Award for best first novel with Her Flying in Place, and the Alex Award for her second novel, The Necessary Beggar. Impressive as she’s not at all prolific. All Worlds are Real, her latest collection, was nominated for the 2020 Philip K. Dick Award. She was one of the editors of New York Review of Science Fiction which was nominated for the Best Semiprozine Hugo at Noreascon 3. 
  • Born September 7, 1960 Christopher Villiers, 63. He was Professor Moorhouse in “Mummy on the Orient Express”, a Twelfth Doctor story. It’s one of the better tales of the very uneven Calpadi run. He’s also Sir Kay in First Knight and is an unnamed officer in From Time to Time which based on Lucy M. Boston’s The Chimneys of Green Knowe.
  • Born September 7, 1973 Alex Kurtzman, 50. Ok, a number of sites claim he single-handedly destroyed Trek as the fanboys knew it. So why their hatred for him? Mind you I’m more interested that he and Roberto Orci created the superb Fringe series, and that alone redeems him for me. And I’m fascinated that he was Executive Producer on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess!

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • Thatababy gets a media tie-in gift that even surprises Mom.

(15) MARVEL AT NY COMIC CON. “Marvel Announces 2023 New York Comic Con Panel Line-Up”. See details at the link.

This October, Marvel is returning to New York Comic Con with a line-up of fan-favorite panels, can’t-miss activations, exciting announcements, New York Comic Con convention-exclusive merchandise, all-star talent signings, and countless fan experiences at the Marvel booth from Thursday, October 12 through Sunday, October 15.

Marvel will be on the ground to host the exciting events in the Marvel Booth and fans at home can experience it all by watching the exclusive livestream broadcast hosted by Ryan Penagos, Josh Saleh, Langston Belton, Ray Lowe, and Mikey Trujillo. Fans can stay up to date on the biggest stories and breaking news by tuning in on Marvel.comYouTubeX (formerly Twitter)Facebook and Twitch….

(16) ALIEN BREAKTHROUGH. The Guardian profiles “Jewelle Gomez: the Black lesbian writer who changed vampire fiction – and the world”.

Ridley Scott’s Alien holds a special place in the heart of Jewelle Gomez, but not simply because Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley was just her type. “If you were going to come out, that was the movie to come out to,” she says with a chuckle over video call from her home office in San Francisco. The year was 1979, Gomez was 31, and her mother, Dolores, and grandmother, Lydia, were in New York City for a visit when they went to see the sci-fi horror at a cinema near Times Square. “We were in the bathroom after and my mother started reading graffiti on the bathroom stall,” Gomez says. “My mother says: ‘Oh, here’s one. It says Dykes unite!’ And I was like, should I speak? Should I not speak? What do I say?” Her grandmother didn’t give her a chance to answer: “She says: ‘Oh, that’s nothing. Jewelle has an ink stamp on her desk at home and it says Lesbian money!’ All three of us cracked up and I breathed a sigh of relief. It was lovely.”

(17) FRESH INTERPRETATION OF DRACULA. “New blood: Scotland to stage all-woman and non-binary Dracula play” – the Guardian has the story.

The first major staging of Dracula with an all-woman and non-binary cast aims to “reclaim and subvert” gothic tropes of fragile and corruptible females by retelling the genre classic through the eyes of Mina Murray.

In Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, Murray’s fiance, the solicitor Jonathan Harker, clumsily embroils Mina and her friend Lucy in Dracula’s bloodlust when he travels to Transylvania to assist the count in a property purchase. However, the new National Theatre of Scotland production puts Mina at the centre of the action.

Set in a psychiatric hospital in Aberdeenshire in 1897, Dracula: Mina’s Reckoning is a unique Scottish adaptation that tells the familiar story through her eyes, assisted by an ensemble of asylum inmates led by a non-binary Renfield, the Count’s devoted servant.

“The novel is wonderful,” says director Sally Cookson, Olivier award-winner and associate artist at Bristol Old Vic. “But I was always very aware of how the male characters had all the power.”

Bram Stoker hinted at Mina’s fascination with the New Woman, the feminist ideal of independence embodied in the suffragette movement, Cookson explains, “but he never really allows her to become one; she’s not allowed to join in the vampire hunt, he continually locks her up for her own safety, and then tidily marries her off [to Harker] at the end of the story”.

“What would happen if Mina’s ambition was not to get married and have children?”…

(18) FREDDIE MERCURY AUCTION. [Item by Lis Riba.] This week, Sotheby’s is auctioning off Freddie Mercury’s estate. In addition to his music memorabilia, wardrobe, and truly gorgeous works art and furniture, I noticed several lots the File 770 readership might find interesting.

(19) AT HOME IN A TESSERACT. Did we cover this in 2021? Well, let’s link to it again just in case: “Jonathan Lethem on Robert Heinlein and Other Influences” in the New Yorker.

…The story’s protagonist, Mull, has found himself living in a once spectacular tesseract house—an architect’s grandiose solution to L.A.’s housing crisis—which has collapsed yet is still habitable. The structure keeps shifting and Mull struggles to find his way around. A corridor he used one day may have vanished the next. When did you first imagine this building? Do you see it as a three-dimensional space in your mind’s eye? Do you know it better than Mull? Or as well as Mull?

The idea of a tesseract as building comes from Robert Heinlein’s famous 1941 short story, “—And He Built a Crooked House—” (an influence my story wears on the sleeve of its title). It was one of my favorite stories growing up, and, for a lot of readers my age, it might be as responsible for the introduction of the idea of a tesseract as Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time.” It’s also an L.A. story, and Heinlein was a resident when he wrote it. The house in the story is across the street from his own address, if I’m remembering right.

That people in Los Angeles live outside right now, in tents and under overpasses, is such a cruel and overwhelming reality that it may be atrocious to make reference to it in passing (though it probably isn’t better to leave it unmentioned at all, which is what happens constantly). I’ll try saying simply that I sometimes find it easiest to let certain realities express themselves in my thinking when I give them a surreal or allegorical expression. I grew up reading Stanisław Lem and the Brothers Strugatsky, and also Kafka and Anna Kavan and Kōbō Abe, so I may be predisposed to place the severest subjects into this kind of indeterminate fictional space….

(20) ALL STACKED UP AND NOWHERE TO GO. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] After their April “rapid, unplanned disassembly,“ SpaceX is ready for its next Starship launch attempt. The vehicle is stacked on top of one of their super heavy boosters, and they’re raring to roar. There’s one teeny tiny problem. The FAA has not given permission for another attempt nor publicly said when it might. Could Elon Musk be suffering from failure to launch? “Starship is stacked and ready to make its second launch attempt” at Ars Technica.

…”The SpaceX Starship mishap investigation remains open,” the agency stated. “The FAA will not authorize another Starship launch until SpaceX implements the corrective actions identified during the mishap investigation and demonstrates compliance with all the regulatory requirements of the license modification process.”…

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Marc Scott Zicree invites everyone to enjoy video of the “Space Command Creature Test”.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Ersatz Culture, Lis Riba, Bruce D. Arthurs, Dale Arnold, Kathy Sullivan, Steven French, Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Lou.]

Pixel Scroll 3/27/23 When The Fifth Is Found To Be Lies, And All The File Within You Dies, Don’t You Want Some Pixel To Scroll?

(1) 2023 NASFIC. Pemmi-Con, the 2023 NASFiC, has posted Progress Report 1, a free download.

This Progress Report includes information about programming, our venues, exhibits, accessibility, NASFiC site selection, how to check and confirm your membership level, and a brief Q&A about Winnipeg with our Co-Chair, Linda Ross-Mansfield. Are you a book lover? We feature an article about used book and music stores in Winnipeg. And more.

(2) SFF FOR PEDESTRIANS. [Item by Dale Arnold.] The Baltimore Science Fiction Society successfully deployed a Little Free Library in front of our building at 3310 East Baltimore Street on March 25. The library features a two-compartment design with the lower one for children’s books and the upper for YA+ books. Books will be suitable SF and fantasy duplicates donated to our library (our holdings are over 17,000 titles inside the building) and other children’s books donated specifically to assist in improving reading skills in a fun way. The design of this library fits to the odd available location available at our building and criteria specified by our friends in Baltimore City Government. (And still look like a typical little library as much as possible.)

(3) WILL THE WGA STRIKE? The New York Times investigates “Why There Is Talk of a Writers’ Strike in Hollywood”.

What are the writers’ complaints?

Every three years, the writers’ union negotiates a contract with the major studios that establishes pay minimums and addresses matters such as health care and residuals (a type of royalty), which are paid out based on a maze of formulas.

And though there has been a boom in television production in recent years (known within the industry as “Peak TV”), the W.G.A. said that the median weekly pay for a writer-producer had declined 4 percent over the last decade.

Because of streaming, the former network norms of 22, 24 or even 26 episodes per season have mostly disappeared. Many series are now eight to 12 episodes long. At the same time, episodes are taking longer to produce, so series writers who are paid per episode often make less while working more. Some showrunners are likewise making less despite working longer hours.

“The streaming model has created an environment where there’s been enormous downward pressure on writer income across the board,” David Goodman, a co-chair of the guild negotiating committee, said in an interview.

Screenwriters have been hurt by a decline in theatrical releases and the collapse of the DVD market, union leaders said.

Between 2012 and 2021, the number of films rated annually by the Motion Picture Association fell by 31 percent. Streaming services picked up some slack, but companies like Netflix and Warner Bros. Discovery, which owns HBO Max, have been cutting back on film production to reduce costs amid slowing subscriber growth….

(4) AI SINCE 1956. “Throughline’ examines artificial intelligence — and these days AI is everywhere” at NPR.

…ABDELFATAH: Keep in mind, at this point, computers were so big, they took up whole rooms, made tons of noise and had vacuum tubes for data input.

DICK: You know, the most disturbing part of the history of AI for me comes from the fact that these men who were working in artificial intelligence looked at those massive, noisy, hot mainframe computers and saw themselves in it.

ARABLOUEI: One proposed measure of machine intelligence was something called the Turing test, named for its creator, British mathematician Alan Turing.

ABDELFATAH: The way it works is a computer and a human being are put in separate rooms. A judge asks each of them questions without seeing either.

DICK: And then the judge, of course, is meant to be able to figure out whether the machine is the human or the human is the human. And what I have always found so shocking about the Turing test is that it reduces intelligence to telling a convincing lie, to putting on the performance of being something that you’re not…

(5) ROBOTS AT WORK. NPR profiles “The role robots play in getting your online orders to you”.

…Robots are key to helping Amazon sort and send 5 billion packages a year.

At Amazon Air, the company’s global air hub at the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport, hundreds of self-charging electric robots that look like small scooters go whizzing across a giant concrete floor. As they work to fill your orders, some speed up and others slow down because they all don’t have the same priority.

Director of Operations Adrian Melendez explains how the “drives” know where to go on this robotics sortation floor.

“They primarily use the square stickers on the floor we call ‘fiducials.’ And so the drive unit has a sensor on the bottom of it that reads these fiducials as it makes its way across the floor. And it knows exactly where it needs to speed up and slow down,” he says.

Even a year ago at all its facilities, the company had a half-million drives and more than a dozen types of robots. In Boston, it’s testing a robot called Sparrow. It’s the first Amazon robot that can sort different shapes and sizes. Some worry it might replace people. Melendez says don’t worry about that.

“Robotics can never replace people,” Melendez says. “The robots are really good at algorithms or following a set path. People are problem-solvers and that’s what we want to keep our folks doing.”…

(6) NPR CUTBACKS. And after we link to two items from NPR, what thanks do they get? “NPR Cuts 10% of Staff and Halts Production of 4 Podcasts” – and the New York Times assesses the damage.

…Although production is stopping, she added, “we’re not using the word ‘canceling,’ as the work may continue in other forms.”

“Invisibilia,” a podcast about the invisible forces that guide human behavior, began in January 2015, around the beginning of the podcast boom. It quickly reached No. 1 on Apple Podcasts, and its episodes were streamed or downloaded more than 10 million times in four weeks.

NPR will also halt production of “Everyone & Their Mom,” a comedy spinoff of the company’s weekend news quiz show, “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!”

Rough Translation,” a podcast that tells stories from places around the world in a relatable manner, will stop production after its new season airs this summer.

“How to say goodbye to a show that you’ve made for 6 years?” Gregory Warner, the host of the show, said on Twitter. “I’ll be trying to figure that out.”

Louder Than a Riot,” a music podcast, will also cease production after its current, second season. The show explores marginalization in hip-hop and how misogynoir — the combined racism and misogyny against Black women — is embedded in culture….

(7) FLATIRON AUCTIONED. A building once known as home to Tor Books has a new owner:“Empty for years, NYC’s famous Flatiron Building — and its weird narrow passages — may get a fresh start with $190M sale”.

The Flatiron Building is one of New York City’s most recognizable structures, and it now has a new owner after a public auction on Wednesday.

In an auction ordered by the New York Supreme Court, investor Jacob Garlick outbid the building’s current owners and other big names in real estate to secure the Manhattan landmark for $190 million, Smithsonian Magazine reported.

Dozens of onlookers gathered in Lower Manhattan to watch the historic building go on the block with an opening bid of $50 million. It went for nearly four times that to Garlick following a 45-minute bidding war.

“It’s been (a) lifelong dream of mine since I’m 14 years old. I’ve worked every day of my life to be in this position,” Garlick, managing partner at firm Abraham Trust, told NY1. “We are honored to be a steward of this historic building, and it will be our life’s mission to preserve its integrity forever.”…

(8) SHATNER IS PEEVED. “Elon Musk Ruffles William Shatner’s Feathers (And He Has Some Words)” – and The Street will tell you what those words are.

…Before Musk purchased Twitter, the blue check was free and was given to prominent politicians, businesses, journalists and personalities.

Now, the blue badge costs $7.99 per month. But those users who previously had the blue checkmark accompanying their accounts, before Twitter started charging for it, were allowed to keep it for a grace period.

That grace period is over as of April 1, when all legacy checkmarks will disappear.

“Hey @elonmusk, what’s this about blue checks going away unless we pay Twitter? I’ve been here for 15 years giving my time and witty thoughts all for bupkis,” tweeted Shatner. “Now you’re telling me that I have to pay for something you gave me for free? What is this — the Colombia Records and Tape Club?”

(9) MUSIC OF THE FEARS. American Songwriter introduces readers to “5 Songs You Didn’t Know Credit Edgar Allan Poe”.

…Long after his mysterious death at 40 in 1849, the legend, myths and mystery of Poe and his works continue to get reinterpreted and adapted in film, television, stage, books, and other forms of media.

Poe’s words have also been transmitted through music, with many of his poems and stories credited in more contemporary songs….

Here’s number two on the list:

2. “Ol’ Evil Eye,” Insane Clown Posse (1995)
Written by Edgar Allan Poe, Mike E. Clark and Insane Clown Posse

“Ol’ Evil Eye” is an Insane Clown Posse (ICP) retelling of Poe’s more horrid 1843 short story “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Released on the group’s third album, Riddle Box, the track features ICP’s studio vocalist and guitarist Legz Diamond reading an excerpt of the Poe classic.

I ring the doorbell, the door creeps open
And there it was starin’ and scopin’
The man’s left eye, red, big, and drippin’
I was trippin’. “Ahh, seeya!”
I ran home. I couldn’t stop thinking
About his eyeball winking and blinking
And it looked not a damn thing like the other. Ugh!
Shoulda wore a patch on the motherfucker
It hypnotized me, mesmerized me
Traumatized, paralyzed, terrorized me
Creepers, where’d you get that ball?
And tell me how it even fits in your skull

(10) MEMORY LANE.

1933[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

I’m fairly eclectic in my reading — I like equally fantasies, science fiction of all sorts and a wide range of mysteries, mostly I’ll admit mostly done though the Forties. And this is why the Beginning this Scroll is from Erle Stanley Gardner’s The Case of the Velvet Claws which was published by William Morrow and Company in 1933.

It’s the first of his Perry Mason mysteries which will eventually number eighty two plus four short stories. Many of you will have seen the simply extraordinary Perry Mason series that started in the Fifties which starred Raymond Burr. (I’m watching it right now.) Yes, I know there’s a new HBO Max series but I’ve no interest in seeing it. The Perry Mason series ran for two hundred snd seventy one episodes plus thirty movies. 

I like the Beginning has Perry exhibiting some of the traits of the classic private investigators. 

And now our Beginning…

AUTUMN SUN BEAT against the window. 

Perry Mason sat at the big desk. There was about him the attitude of one who is waiting. His face in repose was like the face of a chess player who is studying the board. That face seldom changed expression. Only the eyes changed expression. He gave the impression of being a thinker and a fighter, a man who could work with infinite patience to jockey an adversary into just the right position, and then finish him with one terrific punch. And now our Beginning…

Book cases, filled with leather-backed books, lined the walls of the room. A big safe was in one corner. There were two chairs, in addition to the swivel chair which Perry Mason occupied. The office held an atmosphere of plain, rugged efficiency, as though it had absorbed something of the personality of the man who occupied it. 

The door to the outer office opened, and Della Street, his secretary, eased her way into the room and closed the door behind her.

 “A woman,” she said, “who claims to be a Mrs. Eva Griffin.” 

Perry Mason looked at the girl with level eyes. 

“And you don’t think she is?” he asked. She shook her head. “

“She looks phony to me,” she said. “

“I’ve looked up the Griffins in the telephone book. And there isn’t any Griffin who has an address like the one she gave. I looked in the City Directory, and got the same result. There are a lot of Griffins, but I don’t find any Eva Griffin. And I don’t find any at her address.” 

“What was the address?” asked Mason.

“2271 Grove Street,” she said. 

Perry Mason made a notation on a slip of paper.

“I’ll see her,” he said.

“Okay,” said Della Street. “I just wanted you to know that she looks phony to me.” 

Della Street was slim of figure, steady of eye; a young woman of approximately twenty-seven, who gave the impression of watching life with keenly appreciative eyes and seeing far below the surface. 

She remained standing in the doorway eyeing Perry Mason with quiet insistence. “I wish,” she said, “that you’d find out who she really is before we do anything for her.”

“A hunch?” asked Perry Mason.

“You might call it that,” she said, smiling. 

Perry Mason nodded. His face had not changed expression. Only his eyes had become warily watchful.

“All right, send her in, and I’ll take a look at her myself.” 

Della Street closed the door as she went out, keeping a hand on the knob, however. Within a few seconds, the knob turned, the door opened, and a woman walked into the room with an air of easy assurance. 

She was in her early thirties, or perhaps, her late twenties—well groomed, and giving an appearance of being exceedingly well cared for. She flashed a swiftly appraising glance about the office before she looked at the man seated behind the desk.

“Come in and sit down,” said Perry Mason.

She looked at him then, and there was a faint expression of annoyance upon her face. It was as though she expected men to get up when she came into the room, and to treat her with a deferential recognition of her sex and her position.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 27, 1892 Thorne Smith. A writer of humorous supernatural fantasy. He is best remembered for the two Topper novels — a comic fantasy fiction mix of plentiful drink, many ghosts and sex. Not necessarily in that order.  The original editions of the Topper novels complete with their erotic illustrations are available from the usual digital sources. (Died 1934.)
  • Born March 27, 1901 Carl Barks. Cartoonist, writer, and illustrator. He is best known for his work in Disney comic books, as the writer and artist of the first Donald Duck stories and as the creator of Scrooge McDuck. He wrote The Fine Art of Walt Disney’s Donald Duck and Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge McDuck. He was one of the three inaugural inductees of the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame. (Died 2000.)
  • Born March 27, 1942 Michael York, 81. I remember him in the Babylon 5 episode “A Late Delivery from Avalon” as a man who believed himself to be King Arthur returned. Very chilling. I also enjoyed him as D’Artagnan in the Musketeers films and remember him as Logan 5 in Logan’s Run. So what in his genre list really impresses you?
  • Born March 27, 1949 John Hertz, 74. Winner of the Big Heart Award, presented at the 2003 Worldcon. He’s quite active in the fanzine world publishing the Vanamonde fanzine. Four collections of his fanwriting have been published, West of the MoonDancing and Joking, On My Sleeve, and Neither Complete nor Conclusive. He‘s been nominated for the Hugo for Best Fan Writer three times.
  • Born March 27, 1952 Dana Stabenow, 71. Though better known for her superb Kate Shugak detective series of which the first, the Edgar Award-winning A Cold Day for Murder is a Meredith moment right now, she does have genre work to her credit in the excellent Star Svensdotter space series, and the latter is available at the usual digital suspects.
  • Born March 27, 1953 Patricia Wrede, 70. She is a founding member of The Scribblies, along with Pamela Dean, Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Steven Brust and Nate Bucklin. Not to be confused with the Pre-Joycean Fellowship which overlaps in membership. Outside of her work for the the Liavek shared-world anthology created and edited by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly, there are several series she has running including Lyra (Shadow Magic)Enchanted Forest Chronicles and Cecelia and Kate (co-written with Caroline Stevermer). She’s also written the novelizations of several Star Wars films including  Star Wars, Episode I – The Phantom Menace and Star Wars, Episode II – Attack of the Clones  in what are  listed  as  ‘Jr. Novelizations’. 
  • Born March 27, 1969 Pauley Perrette, 54. Though she’s best known for playing Abby Sciuto on NCIS, a role she walked away from under odd circumstances, she does have some genre roles. She was Ramona in The Singularity Is Near, a film based off Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. Next up is the most excellent Superman vs. The Elite in which she voices Lois Lane. Let’s see… she had a recurring role on Special Unit 2 as Alice Cramer. 
  • Born March 27, 1971 Nathan Fillion, 52. Certainly best known for being Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds in Firefly ‘verse. An interesting case of just how much of a character comes from the actor. In his case, I’d say most of it. He portrayed Green Lantern/Hal Jordan in Justice League: DoomJustice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and Justice League: Throne of AtlantisThe Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen. Oh, and he appeared in a recurring role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Caleb. Anyone watch him in the Castle series? Opinions please.

(12) MAIL FROM JRRT. Two recently discovered “Tolkien letters shine new light on writer’s life and work” at The National Archives. The first page of one of the letters can be read in an image at the link.

Two handwritten letters penned by JRR Tolkien have been discovered for the first time, almost 50 years after the death of the Lord of the Rings author.

The previously unrecorded documents were unearthed by a volunteer working at The National Archives in Kew ahead of Tolkien Reading Day on March 25.

Written in 1945, shortly after Tolkien’s appointment as Professor of English Language and Literature at Merton College, Oxford, the letters are part of an exchange with the British Council about funding for his research into early English languages….

(13) ABOUT THOSE PERSONAL APPEARANCES. After a certain point Bob Kane paid other artists to do the work. Which brings up a question. “Batman: How Did Bob Kane Fake Doing ‘Spur of the Moment’ Drawings?” CBR.com knows the answer. You’ll find it at the link.

…However, that certainly did bring up a major problem for Kane. It was one thing to take credit for other artists’ work, but what happens when you have to demonstrate that you can draw yourself? It’s certainly a bit of a pickle, especially since Kane was such a lover of publicity that he WANTED to do as many public appearances as possible. Well, as it turned out, he solved his problem with a little help from Joe Giella (who was inking “Kane” on the Batman titles at the time, and also ghost penciling and inking the Batman comic strip under Kane’s byline)….

(14) DEATH ON BOARD. “Scare Me Once? Great Game. Scare Me Twice? Great Remake.” The New York Times studies the return of “Isaac Clarke” and what is needed to make successful new versions of vintage video games.  

Die-hard fans wanted the floating spaceship of their nightmares, one stocked with mutilated zombies, improvised blowtorches and zero-gravity spectacles. The fictional engineer Isaac Clarke navigated this ramshackle vessel in Dead Space, the popular survival horror video game from 2008 that spawned two sequels.

But when developers at Motive Studios, a division of Electronic Arts based in Montreal, revisited the original for a planned remake nearly 15 years later, something was amiss.

What players remembered as terrifying seemed almost campy by modern standards because of technological advancements to graphics and artificial intelligence that have made gaming more immersive. The developers realized they would need to start from scratch, dismantling the spaceship, redesigning the zombies — known as necromorphs — and constructing new story lines.

“We don’t necessarily want to recreate the game as it was, but like you remember it,” said the remake’s creative director, Roman Campos-Oriola, who previously worked on the Ghost Recon franchise. “That often means breaking stuff, which has a ripple effect.”…

(15) HAWKEYE ACTOR RECOVERING.  Jeremy Renner is making progress: “Jeremy Renner Walks in New Video of His Snow Plow Accident Recovery, Actor Uses Anti-Gravity Treadmill”.

… The “Hawkeye” star posted a video to his Instagram story in which he walks with the assistance of an anti-gravity treadmill. Renner confirms in the video that he is doing all of “the walking motion” himself, with the anti-gravity treadmill taking off a percentage of his body weight as his legs slowly recover.

The actor captioned the post: “Now is the time for my body to rest and recover from my will.”…

(16) BEADS OF MOISTURE. From the Guardian: “Glass beads on moon’s surface may hold billions of tonnes of water, scientists say”.

…Anand and a team of Chinese scientists analysed fine glass beads from lunar soil samples returned to Earth in December 2020 by the Chinese Chang’e-5 mission. The beads, which measure less than a millimetre across, form when meteoroids slam into the moon and send up showers of molten droplets. These then solidify and become mixed into the moon dust.

Tests on the glass particles revealed that together they contain substantial quantities of water, amounting to between 300m and 270bn tonnes across the entire moon’s surface.

“This is going to open up new avenues which many of us have been thinking about,” said Anand. “If you can extract the water and concentrate it in significant quantities, it’s up to you how you utilise it.”

Hints that the moon might not be an entirely arid wasteland have emerged from previous missions. In the 1990s, Nasa’s Clementine orbiter found evidence for frozen water in deep, steep-sided craters near the moon’s poles. In 2009, India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft spotted what appeared to be a thin layer of water bound up in the surface layer of moon dust.

The latest research, published in Nature Geoscience, points to fine glass beads as the source of that surface water. Unlike frozen water lurking in permanently shaded craters, this should be far easier to extract by humans or robots working on the moon.

“It’s not that you can shake the material and water starts dripping out, but there’s evidence that when the temperature of this material goes above 100C, it will start to come out and can be harvested,” Anand said….

(17) KEEPING THE ART IN ARTESIAN. This water is closer to home, and leans towards fantasy rather than science fiction. “Elven Spring Magic Water”.

(18) ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK. ScienceAlert breaks the news: “Nope, Stonehenge Isn’t an Ancient Calendar After All, Scientists Say”.

… As dawn breaks on summer solstice and the Sun boldly climbs above the Heel Stone that lies northeast of the circle, shining its rays directly into the heart of Stonehenge, it’s hard to deny that the monument was designed with the turning-point of the seasons in mind.

To a number of scholars, there’s more to Stonehenge’s design than a symbolic reverence for the changing lengths of days. It’s a timekeeper of some detail, a ‘Neolithic computer‘ even, tasked with dividing up the year around less significant events.

Last year, Bournemouth University archaeologist Tim Darvill published his claim that the monument operated as some kind of ‘perpetual calendar’, one based on a solar year equivalent to 365.25 days.

Now, Polytechnic University of Milan mathematician Giulio Magli and astronomer Juan Antonio Belmonte from the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, Spain, have countered Darvill’s claim, stating it is based on “a series of forced interpretations, numerology, and unsupported analogies with other cultures”….

(19) HIS SHIP COMES IN. Artist Rick Sternbach shared on Facebook how touched he was to have his name added to canon via Star Trek: Picard.

I’ll say one other thing that should be somewhat obvious; my thanks to everyone involved with Picard for making the USS Sternbach a canon thing. I absolutely appreciate it. When I pressed for the name Bussard to be attached to the matter collectors in Star Trek, and it was accepted, Bob Bussard– *Dr. Robert W. Bussard*, whom I had the pleasure of talking with and learning from as far back as 1983, thanked me for the inclusion. I know how it feels. Onward.

(20) SPACE COMMAND. “Mr. Sci-Fi at Wondercon!” encourages viewers to contribute to “Space Command Forgiveness: The Final Shoot” Kickstarter.

We’re filming the final climax to the next installment of Space Command Forgiveness, the epic Sci-Fi adventure created by Marc Zicree.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Murray Moore, Michael J. Walsh, Dale Arnold, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Pixel Scroll 8/18/22 I’ve Been Scrolling On The Fileroad, All The Pixelled Day

(1) TOLKIEN MANUSCRIPT EXHIBIT. [Item by Michael “Orange Mike” Lowrey.] “J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript” opens August 19 in Milwaukee, with material not just from Marquette University’s collection but items on loan from England which will probably not be seen again in North America in our lifetimes. The exhibit runs through December 23. Ticket information here.

Marquette University’s Raynor Memorial Libraries and the Haggerty Museum of Art collaboratively present this exhibition focused on the work of celebrated author and artist J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), best known for his literary classics The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The exhibition considers Tolkien’s work through the lens of manuscripts, in terms of both the materials that Tolkien studied as a medieval philologist and the manuscripts that he created while developing his collected writings on Middle-earth. Professor Tolkien was deeply immersed in the complexities of manuscripts, and this exhibition will illustrate how different aspects of the manuscript tradition found expression within Tolkien’s scholarly life and in his creative writing. Founded on Marquette’s J.R.R. Tolkien Collection, the exhibition also includes items borrowed from other repositories, including a significant number of Tolkien manuscripts and artwork from the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford. Many of the 147 items in the exhibition have not previously been exhibited or published. 

(2) CROWDFUNDING FOR DE LINT AND HARRIS. Charles de Lint had to step down as Chicon 8 GoH last fall after his wife contracted a severe illness. And for reasons explained below, a family friend now has launched a “Fundraiser for Charles de Lint” on Gofundme. (De Lint has also opened a Patreon: “Charles de Lint is creating stories, music, art”.)

MaryAnn Harris has been in the hospital since September 6, 2021. She is recovering from Powassan virus, an extremely rare tick-bourne illness, but is still dependent on a ventilator to breathe, and paralyzed except for a toe. In order to make a full recovery and go home (which her doctor believes is possible), she needs significantly more therapy than the Canadian healthcare system can provide. In addition, due to the severity and long term nature of her condition, Charles & MaryAnn will start being assessed a co-pay for MaryAnn’s room and board that could be as high as $4k per month, an impossible figure at this time. Charles & MaryAnn have spent their lives reaching out to all of us through words and music and conversation and acts of kindness, through their creativity and heart, their generous spirits, and their dedication to putting light out into the world. Together we can help build the resources needed to help MaryAnn make a full recovery and to bring her home. Thank you.

(3) DREAM INTERRUPTED. Suffering a heartbreaking disappointment, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki was denied a visa to attend Chicon 8. His appointment with the U.S. Embassy in Lagos was this morning, and he now has distilled his Twitter thread about what happened into a Facebook post. (See also File 770’s post and the comments: “US Embassy in Nigeria Denies Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki Visa Application; Won’t Get to Attend Worldcon”.)

… If I had been considered & denied I wouldn’t even have worried as much. But I don’t feel I was even considered at all. It didn’t look like. Despite all I did (seperate from being ultra excellent at what I do.

After I undertook to attend the Hugo, I did a GoFundMe drive ran for me by Jason Sanford l. We raised over $7000 in a day. I started trying to get a visa interview appointment. Nigerians reading this know how nerve wracking that is.

This was in June. Btw then and August, like 2 months, I got an interview date. I battered my soul to pieces for that. Nigerians understand. Immigration firm I went to refused to talk to me. Said no one was going to US from Nigeria now cuz no dates. Everyone said it was impossible. But I got it.

That’s how many layers of impossible I have had to beat. How many miracles. But this is Nigeria. Everything needs a miracle. The most basic ish. Miracle after miracle till you are one short….

(4) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 64 of the Octothorpe podcast, “John Coxon is crying, Alison Scott is lounging, and Liz Batty is crocheting. We go through our entire Hugo Award ballots in 30% the time it took us to go through one category, before talking about our schedules for Chicon 8 and then doing some picks.”

Listen here — “Best Commemorative Plate”.

(5) OCTOPUS. Nautilus takes readers down “Another Path to Intelligence”, with help along the way from Adrian Tchaikovsky, author of Children of Time.

It turns out there are many ways of “doing” intelligence, and this is evident even in the apes and monkeys who perch close to us on the evolutionary tree. This awareness takes on a whole new character when we think about those non-human intelligences which are very different to us. Because there are other highly evolved, intelligent, and boisterous creatures on this planet that are so distant and so different from us that researchers consider them to be the closest things to aliens we have ever encountered: cephalopods.

Cephalopods—the family of creatures which contains octopuses, squids, and cuttlefish—are one of nature’s most intriguing creations. They are all soft-­bodied, containing no skeleton, only a hardened beak. They are aquatic, although they can survive for some time in the air; some are even capable of short flight, propelled by the same jets of water that move them through the ocean. They do strange things with their limbs. And they are highly intelligent, easily the most intel­ligent of the invertebrates, by any measure.

… Perhaps one of the fullest expressions of this difference is to be found, not in the work of scientists, but in a novel. In his book Children of Time, science-fiction writer Adrien Tchaikovsky conceptualizes octopus intelligence as a kind of multi­threaded processing system. For the space­faring octopuses in Children of Time, their awareness—their consciousness—is tripartite. Their higher functions, which Tchaikovsky calls the “crown,” are embedded in their head-­brain, but their “reach,” the “arm­-driven undermind,” is capable of solving prob­lems independently—sourcing food, opening locks, fighting, or fleeing from danger. Meanwhile, a third mode of thinking and communicat­ing, the “guise,” controls the strobing and spotting of the octopuses’ “skin, ‘the chalkboard of the brain,’” where it doodles its thoughts from moment to moment. In this way, the octopuses freewheel through space, constructing ships, habitats, and whole societies which owe as much to bursts of emotion, flights of fancy, acts of curiosity and bore­dom, as they do to conscious intent. Tchaikovsky’s octopuses are lively, frantic, bored, creative, distracted, and poetic—all at the same time: a product of the constant dialogue and conflict within their own nervous systems. As Tchaikovsky tells it, octopuses are multiple intel­ligences in singular bodies….

(6) AND THEN THERE ARE VIRTUAL TENTACLES. Steve Davidson contemplates “The Coming Death of Commercialized Art” at the hands (figuratively speaking) of artificial intelligence in a post for Amazing Stories.

…Eventually, things will sort themselves out (if global warming doesn’t get us first) and commercial art will become the province of AI programs:  Need some paintings for your hotel lobby?  An AI will no doubt already have tens of thousands of possibilities available at relatively low cost (maybe large corporations will simply buy an art-enabled AI outright, for ALL of their commercial art needs – report covers, company retreat t-shirt designs, product illustrations, etc.).  Amazon will no doubt be the first to offer “get the story you want to read” services…completely custom fiction (written in the style of – and boy, won’t that “style copyfight” be an interesting one);  franchises will become perpetual, versions can be offered for different reading ages, the saga need never end….

Human beings will NOT be able to compete effectively in those environments.  They need food and water and shelter, sleep, physical exercise and can’t memorize the writing styles or painting styles of any artist or author who ever produced something.

We’re not talking about the “death of artistic expression”, but we are almost certainly talking about the death of the midlist author and the commercial graphic artist….

(7) CALL IT A FANACALENDAR. First Fandom Experience’s latest post in support of Project 1946 at Chicon 8 tracks “A Year in Fandom: 1946” practically day-by-day.

What was it like to be a science fiction fan in 1946?

There was a lot of new material to read. With the end of the war, Science fiction and fantasy pulps had proliferated. Classics genre novels from pulps of prior years were issued in book form. Just keeping up was a challenge.

Fan activity was also resurgent. The club scene remained most active in Los Angeles and New York, but fans from other corners also made their voices heard. Several clubs formed prior to the war resumed meeting in 1946, often attracting a mix of old and new members.

The timeline presented here is drawn from a variety of sources. Primary among them is Joe Kennedy’s 1946-1947 Fantasy Review, the second in his series of yearbooks covering the field. Eleven pages were dedicated to the doings of fans….

(8) MEMORY LANE.  

1950 [By Cat Eldridge.] Seventy-two years ago on this date, Destination Moon, produced by George Pal and an uncredited Walter Lantz premiered in the United Kingdom. 

It was directed by Irving Pichel from the screenplay by Alford Van Ronkel and Robert A. Heinlein and James O’Hanlon. It’s based off Robert A. Heinlein‘s Rocketship Galileo novel. 

It starred John Archer, Warner Anderson, Erin O’Brien-Moore, Tom Powers and Dick Wesson. 

Mainstream critics were mixed with a Bob Thomas of the Associated Press saying, “Destination Moon is good hocus-pocus stuff about interplanetary travel.” Asimov meanwhile not surprisingly said in In Memory Yet Green that it was “the first intelligent science-fiction movie made.”  

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a mediocre 48% rating. It however did rather well at the box office returning ten times its half million-dollar production budget. 

It would be voted a Retro Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at the Millennium Philcon. 

It is not in the public domain, but the trailers are and here is one for you.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 18, 1925 Brian Aldiss. I’ll single out his Helliconia series, Hothouse and The Malacia Tapestry as my favorites. He won a Hugo at Chicon III for “The Long Afternoon of The Earth”, another at Conspiracy ’87 for Trillion Year Spree which he co-authored with David Wingrove. He’s edited far too many collections to know which one to single out, but I’m sure that the collective wisdom here can make recommendations. (Died 2017.)
  • Born August 18, 1929 Joan Taylor. Her first genre role was Earth vs. the Flying Saucers as Carol Marvin, and she followed that with 20 Million Miles to Earth as Marisa Leonardo. Her last genre role was as Carol Gordon in Men into Space, a late Fifties series about a USAF attempt to explore and develop outer space. She retired from acting in the early Sixties. (Died 2012.)
  • Born August 18, 1932 Grant Williams. He is best remembered for his portrayal of Scott Carey in The Incredible Shrinking Man though he will have the role of the psychopathic killer in Robert Bloch’s The Couch. Of course, he shows in Outer Limits, he plays Major Douglas McKinnon in “The Brain of Colonel Barham”.  And he’s Major Kurt Mason in The Doomsday Machine. (Died 1985.)
  • Born August 18, 1934 Michael de Larrabeiti. He is best known for writing The Borrible Trilogy which is noted by several sources online as being an influence by writers in the New Weird movement. Ok folks, I’ve not read so please explain how The Borrible Trilogy influences that literary movement. And while you’re at it, explain what the New Weird movement was as I never quite did figure that out. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 18, 1954 Russell Blackford, 68. Writer resident in Australia for awhile but now in Wales. Author of Terminator 2: The New John Connor Chronicles, and editor of the Australian Science Fiction Review in the Eighties. With Van Ikin and Sean McMullen, he wrote Strange Constellations: A History of Australian Science Fiction. And he wrote Science Fiction and the Moral Imagination: Visions, Minds, Ethics.
  • Born August 18, 1958 Madeleine Stowe, 64. She’s in the Twelve Monkeys film as Kathryn Railly, and she’s in the Twelve Monkeys series as Lillian in the “Memory of Tomorrow” episode. Her only other genre work was a one-off in The Amazing Spider-Man which ran for thirteen episodes nearly forty years ago. She was Maria Calderon in “Escort to Danger” in that series, and she also played Mia Olham in Impostor which was scripted off Philip K. Dick’s “Impostor” story.
  • Born August 18, 1966 Alison Goodman, 56. Australian writer who’s won three Aurealis Awards for Excellence in Speculative Fiction for Singing the Dogstar BluesThe Two Pearls of Wisdom and Lady Helen and the Dark Days PactThe Two Pearls of Wisdom was nominated for an Otherwise Award. 
  • Born August 18, 1967 Brian Michael Bendis, 55. He’s both writer and artist, a still uncommon occurrence. Did you know he’s garnered five Eisner Awards for both his creator-owned work and Marvel Comics? Very impressive! He’s the primary force behind the creation of the Ultimate Marvel Universe, launching Ultimate Spider-Man which is an amazing series which I read on the Marvel Unlimited app. 

(10) COMIC SECTION.

  • Ordinarily, I wouldn’t expect to hear a character in Funky Winkerbean holding forth about psychohistory.

(11) PUBLIC SERVICE MESSAGE. N. K. Jemisin tweeted a reminder.

(12) SOYLENT GREEN IS BALONEY! This being the year in which the movie is hypothetically set, Slate’s Andrew Maynard could not resist pointing out “Why Soylent Green got 2022 so wrong”.

All of this may have remained as a footnote in the annals of dystopian 1970’s sci-fi movies, were it not for the fact that Soylent Green was set in a year we’re all very familiar with: 2022. Predictably, there’s been a flurry of journalistic interest this year in what was predicted back in 1973, and how it compares to where we are now. The good news is that we haven’t yet resorted to eating people (although based on recent trends in fiction we may be closer than we think!). But this isn’t the only thing that the film gets wrong.

Despite being underpinned by very real issues, the extrapolated future that Soylent Green portrays is deeply out of step with present-day reality. Overpopulation is not the issue it was perceived to be in the 1970s—rather, the prospect of static and declining populations is now raising concerns. The productivity of agricultural systems has been vastly extended through technologies ranging from high yield crops and advances in irrigation techniques, to innovations in agrochemicals and genetic engineering. And rather than the dystopic single-noted social, political, and culinary narratives portrayed in the film, many—including me—would argue that the world we live in has never been more diverse and full of potential (even if some of us do have a tendency to reject this in favor of our own manufactured monotoned bubbles)….

(13) DOES THIS RING TRUE FOR YOU? Here’s a compilation of anecdotes in support of Tolkien’s reputation as a funny guy: “JRR Tolkien: academic, philologist – and prankster extraordinaire”.

…Humphrey Carpenter put it well in his authorised biography of Tolkien: “He could laugh at anybody, but most of all at himself, and his complete lack of any sense of dignity could and often did make him behave like a riotous schoolboy.” He catalogues incidents where Tolkien dressed up as a polar bear in sheepskin rug, as an Anglo-Saxon axeman (he chased a neighbour down the street), and gave shopkeepers his false teeth in a handful of change.

But it was the late Hugh Brogan, eminent professor of history at the University of East Anglia, who showed me the lengths Tolkien would go to in his quest for a laugh. As a child, Brogan lived in a late Regency house with a tall, elegant, winding staircase. Tolkien, visiting the family, “went up to the first-floor landing and fell all the way down quite spectacularly – about a dozen steps, I guess – arms and legs splaying about in all directions, and an immense clatter. We were literally breathtaken.” The elderly Brogan regretted that he couldn’t remember for sure whether Tolkien gave an encore….

(14) HEAVY METAL NEWS. [Item by Dann.] Heavy Metal Entertainment is taking another plunge into the video market. Its studio division, Heavy Metal Studios, will produce live-action video content from Heavy Metal’s library of properties. (TaarnaCold Dead War, Dark Wing, Arena Mode, etc.)

A sizzle reel accompanied the announcement at this year’s San Diego Comic-Contm. Curiously, the sizzle reel includes snippets from movies that have already been released. (I swore that the rhinos came from Jumanji. There were others.)

“Just as Heavy Metal Magazine changed the way the world looked at comic books, and how the ‘81 animated film Heavy Metal changed animation forever, Heavy Metal Studios is about to take the reins on live action content and push it far past its current stagnation and into new heights. Things will never be the same again, again,” said Tommy Coriale, Heavy Metal’s President and Head of Studio.

(15) JUMP ABOARD. Marc Scott Zicree is “Riding Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone Carousel!”

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Games Trailers:  Madison,” Fandom Games says “Madison,” even though it appears to be named after a really annoying Valley Girl, delivers an oldschool horror experience:  so old-school messages come on cassette tapes and clues come from snapping Polaroids. But can you take enough Polaroids to find the ghosts?

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

Pixel Scroll 7/13/22 Read The Scrolls That They May Teach You, Take The Pixels That They May Reach You

(1) KEEP WATCHING THE SKY WATCHER. At Heritage Auctions bidding is currently up to $62,500 (excluding Buyer’s Premium) on “Clyde Tombaugh’s Renowned Handmade 9″ Reflector Telescope”.

Clyde Tombaugh’s Renowned Handmade 9″ Reflector Telescope [circa 1927]. Presented here is the most notable telescope ever built by legendary astronomer Clyde Tombaugh. Constructed by hand entirely of materials salvaged from the family farm in Burdett, Kansas. Presents signs of weather and wear; however, fully operational and intact.

Tombaugh’s fascination with astronomy led him to begin building telescopes in 1926 to explore the night sky. Using handmade lenses and mirrors, he began construction on his most prominent telescope in 1927. Fabricated from the hardware he was able to collect, including a grain elevator tube, a cream separator base, a 1910 Buick axle, tractor flywheels, and other farm machinery parts, Tombaugh produced one of the most outstanding achievements of American ingenuity of the twentieth century.

Tombaugh used this exact piece of equipment to illustrate his interpretation of the planets Jupiter and Mars. He, in turn, sent these drawings to the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona for critique. His only wished to know if his home-made telescope was an accurate interpretation of the Cosmos. Instantly recognizing Tombaugh’s gift for astronomy, the Observatory wasted no time in offering him employment. Shortly after he began his work at Lowell, Tombaugh started his long list of new astronomical discoveries. The most famous of these is unquestionably his discovery of what was, at the time, the ninth planet in our solar system, Pluto. Clyde continued to work throughout his life as both an astronomer and professor at New Mexico State University.

The telescope itself is approximately 93 inches tall (depending on configuration) and sits on a custom metal base measuring 40 x 40 inches square. As previously stated, it is constructed from farm equipment remains and has some interesting aspects that only add to its character. One is the can of Coca-Cola attached to a chain that protects the eyepiece. According to his son, Alden, the telescope is in the same working condition it was when his father last used it. In fact, in the 1990’s the Smithsonian Institution inquired if the telescope could be loaned to them for display. Clyde politely declined stating, he was still actively using it to search the skies.

(2) PILOT REACHES PORT. Marc Scott Zicree’s Space Command: Redemption premieres at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood on July 21.

Space Command Red-Carpet Premiere at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood July 21st! It’s finally here! The WORLD PREMIERE of Space Command Redemption at the famed Chinese Theater in Hollywood! This is the full TWO-HOUR PILOT of Space Command, starring Doug Jones, Mira Furlan, Robert Picardo, Bill Mumy, Ethan McDowell, Bryan McClure, Sara Maraffino, Nathaniel Freeman and Bruce Boxleitner!

(3) PLAYING SATURNALIA. Mark Lawrence rediscovered the text of a play-by-mail game he helped write 40 years ago: “Off Topic – big time!”

Back in 1987 I helped run a Play-By-Mail game called Saturnalia. I ran it full time for a year with a bunch of other folk in an office. And I ran my area for another 12 years after that in my spare time.

There was an extensive Wikipedia page about it – but they decided in their wisdom to reduce it to a very brief summary.

I found the original text online today (I wrote a fair bit of it), and have copied it here for posterity in case that last site vanishes….

(4) VANISHING POINTS. Amanda S. Green has experienced some more Kindle Direct Publishing accounting adventures: “Check Your KDP Emails” at Mad Genius Club.

Welp, it finally happened. My KDP/KU sales report for the month has been changed from one day to the next. No, I’m not talking about the move to the new format Amazon decided to go to. You know the one I’m talking about. The one that makes it even more difficult to get a snapshot view of what is going on with your sales and promotions. What I’m talking about is the disappearance of page reads under Kindle Unlimited….

(5) KSR’S DAYS AT BU. “Kim Stanley Robinson on the Importance of Imagination” in Bostonia.

…I’m happy to say that my career as a science fiction writer had its tentative beginnings at BU. Between my classes I would go to the library, find an empty carrel, sit down, and immediately plunk my head on the table and fall asleep. Faced with the overwhelming task of writing fiction, my mind would shut down for a while, perhaps reorganizing itself to face the strange task I was imposing on it. We’ll learn more about the mysteries of sleep in one of the articles in this issue.

For me, my naps would last around 20 minutes, after which I would wake up and work on a story I later titled “Coming Back to Dixieland.” It concerned asteroid belt miners who played jazz on the side—not a great idea for a story, but it got published a few years later in the anthology Orbit 18, edited by my great teacher and mentor Damon Knight. …

(6) IS IT YOU? Do Filers have what it takes to be America’s Next Great Author? “Kwame Alexander to present new reality show America’s Next Great Author” – the Guardian has details.

… The six finalists, locked together for a month, will face “live-wire” challenges as they attempt to write an entire novel in 30 days. The winning novelist will be crowned America’s Next Great Author.

Bestselling author and Newberry Medal winner Kwame Alexander is presenting the show, and is listed as executive producer. In a promotional video posted on the show’s Twitter feed, Alexander said it will be “the first reality show for writers produced by writers. This is your chance, if you’re writing the Great American Novel or the great memoir masterpiece or something, this is your chance to get published.”…

(7) MEMORY LANE.  

2018 [By Cat Eldridge.] Just four years ago, a film called 7 Splinters in Time premiered in limited release in the States. With a great title, it had the premise of a down at the heels detective who investigates a murder, only to find that the victim is himself. Over and over and over again. Soon, he discovers multiple versions of himself, not all of them who want him to investigate what’s happening. 

It was written by Gabriel Judet-Weinshel who has no other genre creds unnless you think a writing the weekly series with comedy icons Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara talking about whatever is on their minds is somehow genre adjacent…

Darius Lefaux Is played by Al Sapienza, best known as Mickey Palmice on The Sopranos. It had a large cast of French performers. 

This film is writer-director Judet-Weinshel’s debut full-length feature, and most critics weren’t thrilled by it though the Austin Chronicle said of it that it was “free jazz, and Judet-Weinshel finds echoes and frequencies in the form and the content.” not at all sure what that means. 

The Variety review was much more understandable in that they said it was “edited to ribbons in a schizoid manner that likely only makes complete sense to its maker.” (I wonder if they ever read any Heinlein time travel stories.) 

And the Los Angeles Times thought that “the neo-noir sci-fi indie is a fractured narrative that can’t achieve what its lofty ideas intend.”

It however did pick up the New Vision Award from Cinequest San Jose Film Festival the year that it was released. 

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes aren’t terribly impressed by it giving it just a forty-three percent rating. Oh well. 

I think it sounds fascinating and have added it to my To Be Watched list if I can find it somewhere. One second… Ahhh. I can watch it on Amazon Prime which I have. Good.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 13, 1904 Norvell W. Page. Chief writer of The Spider pulp series as Grant Stockbridge. He started out by writing a backup story in the first issue of The Spider pulp: “Murder Undercover” and by the third issue was writing the main Spider stories which he did for some seventy stories. He also wrote The Black Bat and The Phantom Detective pulps. (Died 1961.)
  • Born July 13, 1926 Robert H. Justman. Producer and director who worked on many a genre series including Adventures of SupermanThe Outer LimitsStar TrekMission: ImpossibleMan from Atlantis and Star Trek: The Next Generation.  He was the assistant director for the first two Star Trek episodes: “The Cage” and “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. (Died 2008.)
  • Born July 13, 1937 Jack Purvis. He appeared in three of director Terry Gilliam’s early fantasy films, with roles in Time BanditsThe Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Brazil. He’s in three of the Star Wars films, the only actor who claims to have played three different roles, and he’s also in Wombling Free (based on The Womblies, a UK Children’s series), The Dark Crystal and Willow. (Died 1997.)
  • Born July 13, 1940 Sir Patrick Stewart 82. Jean-Luc Picard starting with being Captain of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) on Star Trek: The Next Generation up through the current Star Trek: Picard. (They’re filming two seasons of Picard back-to-back.) Also had some minor role in the MCU as Professor Charles Xavier, and played Leodegrance in Excalibur. Though only slightly genre adjacent, I’m fond of his role as King Henry II in the second version of The Lion in Winter
  • Born July 13, 1942 Mike Ploog, 80. He’s a storyboard and comic book artist, as well as a visual designer for films. His work on Marvel Comics’ Seventies Man-Thing and The Monster of Frankenstein series are his best-known undertakings, and as is the initial artist on the features Ghost RiderKull the Destroyer and Werewolf by Night.  He moved onward to storyboarding or other design work on films including John Carpenter’s The Thing, Little Shop of HorrorsThe Dark CrystalLabyrinth and The Storyteller series.
  • Born July 13, 1942 Harrison Ford, 80. Three great roles of course, the first being Dr. Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones, Jr. in the Indiana Jones franchise which is four films deep with a fifth on the way. The second of course being Han Solo in the Star Wars franchise, a role he’s done four times plus a brief cameo in The Rise of Skywalker. And the third being Rick Deckard in Blade Runner, a role he reprised for Blade Runner 2049. Oh, and he played the older Indy at age fifty in the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles in the “Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues” episode. 
  • Born July 13, 1955 David J. Schow, 67. Mostly splatterpunk horror writer of novels, short stories, and screenplays. (He’s oft times credited with coining the splatterpunk term.) His screenplays include The Crow and Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. He’s also done scripts for Masters of HorrorPerversions of Science and The Outer Limits. As an editor, he’s did the very impressive three-volume collection of Robert Bloch fiction, The Lost Bloch.
  • Born July 13, 1960 Gary A. Braunbeck, 62. Horror writer primarily who has won a very impressive six Stoker Awards. Interestingly his first was SF, Time Was: Isaac Asimov’s I-Bots which was co-written with Steve Perry.
  • Born July 13, 1981 Monica Byrne, 41. Her debut novel The Girl in the Road which is I’ve added to my reading list as it sounds fantastic which won the 2015 James Tiptree, Jr. Award and was also nominated for the Locus and Kitschies awards. She also had an essay in Wired back seven years ago, “Hey, Book World: Sexism is Way Bigger Than the Hugos”, commenting on the Sad Puppies. It’s interesting reading still. And this essay in The Atlantic, “Literature Still Urgently Needs More Non-White, Non-Male Heroes”, certainly shows where she is ideologically.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro finds something that makes a bird flip.

(10) JOE QUESADA’S AMAZING FANTASY #1000 COVER REVEALED. Here is Joe Quesada’s wraparound variant cover for Marvel’s giant-sized Spider-Man 60th anniversary one-shot hitting the stands on August 31.

(11) SOME FACTS ARE TRUTHIER THAN OTHERS. YardBarker says there are “20 facts you might not know about ‘Men in Black’”:

For a couple years in the ‘90s, Will Smith was apparently all about interacting with aliens. Independence Day was the big, crowd-pleasing action film, but personally, we’ll go with Men in Black any day of the week. It’s a weird, more cynical film, but with plenty of fun in the mix. Here’s 20 facts about the movie….

But is #15 – “The movie was a box-office success” – a fact? According to Sony, the movie has yet to turn a profit, or so they tell Ed Solomon: “1997 hit ‘Men In Black’ is still yet to make a profit says screenwriter”.

(12) ALL EARS. Paul Weimer recommends you listen to “The voice of Eru Ilúvatar: The Silmarillion in Audio” at Nerds of a Feather.

Back when, after I read The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, I tried to read The Silmarillion. I was still in my early teens and frankly, reader, I didn’t know what I was in for, and I bounced off of it and did not try it again for a decade. It took the second effort for me to understand the power and beauty that was to be found within, but even then, it was not the easiest of reads. Portions of it are like the Appendices to the Lord of the Rings, other parts myth and legend, other parts resembling the outline of a tale that could be told in many more pages (and in some cases, subsequently has)

But, friends, I am here to rescue you from those fears and difficulties and to get you into this Silmarillion, today. I am here to provide you a way to experience and absorb the book and get a feel for Tolkien’s earliest parts of his Legendarium, and that would be the audio edition, narrated by Martin Shaw….

(13) TODAY’S HISTORY & MORAL PHILOSOPHY HOMEWORK. It’s in Camestros Felapton’s “Review: Malnazidos (aka Valley of the Dead)”.

Is it OK to ally with fascists during a (localised) zombie apocalypse? That is today’s moral conundrum brought to you by the Spanish film Valley of the Dead (the Spanish title Malnazidos sounds cooler though).

I’ve seen Korean train zombies, Korean school zombies, British remake of Day of the Triffids zombies, Korean historical zombies, Las Vegas Casino zombies and WW2 zombies. Today’s spin on the genre is Spanish Civil War zombies….

(14) WIRE PALADINS. Also at Nerds of a Feather, “Review: The Saint of Steel Series by T. Kingfisher” is Roseanna Pendlebury’s overview of a three-book arc.

What happens when a god dies, but His berserker paladins are left behind without a hand on the holy reins? If T. Kingfisher’s Saint of Steel series is anything to go by, the answers are: angst, romance, lawyers, angst, tutting, solving murders, angst, exasperated bishops, angst, magical morticians and a lot of pragmatic, down to earth do-gooding. Each book (three currently published but more promised) follows one of the seven remaining paladins of the Saint of Steel as they rebuild their lives with each other, find love, and… yes, angst a bit….

(15) GOING SOLAR. Matt reviews “She Who Became The Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan”, a 2022 Hugo finalist, at Runalong the Shelves.

I often think exploration of power is a big part of fantasy. The rise of one; the search for power to defeat another and how power can work are all themes you can explore in tales from Tolkien, Abercrombie to Pratchett. One less explored theme is why do people do it? What makes someone decide out of all the things in the world they could do this is what I’ll choose to do with my life and the inevitable huge consequences this will have on their country, close relationships, and themselves? In Shelley Parker- Chan’s stunning She Who Became The Sun we get an examination of how the need to be great or to have revenge can send people down quite unexpected paths delivering a fascinating historical fantasy….

(16) FIRST EYES ON THE JWST PRIZE. The New York Times introduces readers to those who performed “The Lonely Work of Picking the Universe’s Best Astronomy Pictures”.

After the image flashes up on the projector, a few quiet beats tick by, punctuated only by a soft “wow.” Everyone is processing.

Then more “wows” bubble out, and people are talking over one another, laughing. Suddenly two astronomers, Amaya Moro-Martin and Karl Gordon, are out of their chairs, sticking their noses closer to the space fantasia onscreen, agog — “It’s a jet! This is full of jets!” — at the crisp, hallucinatory grandeur of new stars sprouting from a nebula like seeds from a flower bed.

The screen zooms in, in, in toward a jutting promontory many light-years long that stands out in sharp relief.

“Oh my god,” someone says — only that someone was me, accidentally.

“Welcome to the team,” someone else responds.

On Tuesday morning, this view of the Carina Nebula was made public alongside other new observations from the James Webb Space Telescope. But it made an earlier debut on another Tuesday morning — this one in June, when a small team clutching coffee cups gathered around a conference table at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore for one of many morning meetings to receive, process and repackage for public consumption what humanity’s latest and greatest set of eyes could see — after the team members had first signed nondisclosure agreements to ensure no early leaks….

(17) COMPARE AND CONTRAST. NBC News lets viewers “Compare photos from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope”.

The first images from the James Webb Space Telescope are just a preview of the impressive capabilities of NASA’s $10 billion, next-generation observatory. Billed as the successor to the iconic Hubble Space Telescope, which launched into orbit in 1990, Webb was designed to peer deeper into space than ever before, with powerful instruments that can capture previously undetectable details in the cosmos. 

Here’s how the Webb telescope stacks up to its famous predecessor….

(18) WHO ARE YOU? (DOC WHO, THAT’S WHO!) According to the Huffington Post, “This NASA Picture Is Giving Brits 1980s Nostalgia”. They’re referring to the first JWST image released the other day.

The image is a photo composite made from images at different wavelengths, adding up to 12.5 hours, and it shows the galaxy cluster as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago.

Despite the significance of the new release though, there were plenty of people who couldn’t help noticing it reminded them of something: Doctor Who.

More specifically, the opening credits to the long-running fantasy/science-fiction show during earlier seasons.

Several people referenced Peter Davison, the fifth doctor who was in the role between 1982 and 1984, and pointed out that the image reminded them of this particular era….

Others joked about it clearly being a nod to the fourth doctor, Tom Baker, who starred in the series between 1974 and 1981.

(19) INSIDE JOB. A special trailer from Disney celebrates that Tron and Tron: Legacy are now available on Disney+.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/10/22 We Are All Hiding In The Pixels, Camouflaged As Scrolls

(1) I DUB THEE. Mr. Sci-Fi, Marc Scott Zicree, shares with his audience “The Amazing Secret Behind the Woman Who Named Spock — Only Here! Don’t Miss It!”. He also observes about the original Star Trek

…[The pilot] did not get picked up but now in 2022 the future that show is getting greenlighted. It is the only pilot made in 1964 and picked up in 2022, two different centuries, so if that isn’t science fiction I don’t know what is….

(2) PUBLISHING STAFF ORGANIZES. “Why Condé Nast Staffers Are Unionizing: ‘Prestige Doesn’t Pay the Bills’”, as they tell the New York Times.

… Late last month, hundreds of employees at Condé Nast, including those at Vogue, Vanity Fair, Architectural Digest and Allure, noting that “prestige doesn’t pay the bills,” announced that they were forming a union and had asked company management for voluntary recognition. In another time, indifferent to the scourges of entitlement and unfairness, the jokes would have written themselves: The assistants at Vogue are mobilizing … for bigger Town Cars; they demand that all corporate retreats be held in Portofino; they’ll hijack negotiations until Keith McNally runs the cafeteria.

But the world, of course, is not what it was. Editorial, video and production staff were demanding better pay, job security and stronger commitments to diversity. Young workers were drawn to Condé Nast because it embodies a certain culture, a representative of the News Guild of New York pointed out. (The guild is currently in contract negotiations with the Times.) Today, however, that isn’t enough.

In a moving video laying out the need for collective action, writers, editors, social-media managers, graphic artists, fashion assistants and researchers explained that they were fed up and burned out, and they were seeking overtime compensation for relentless hours, pay transparency and salary floors, which previously unionized colleagues at The New Yorker obtained last year. They worried about layoffs without severance and meetings where minority representation often amounted to the presence of a single person in the room.

A spokesman for Condé Nast declined to address specific grievances but said, “We plan to have productive and thoughtful conversations with them over the coming weeks to learn more.”…

(3) DOCTOR WHO REDACTED. “Doctor Who Reveals Spinoff Podcast Series Featuring the Thirteenth Doctor”CBR.com says we’re going to get an earful.

Jodie Whittaker might only have a few Doctor Who episodes left before she regenerates, but the Thirteenth Doctor is about to receive even more adventures in podcast form.

The official Doctor Who website announced that Episode 1 of a ten-part podcast series called Doctor Who Redacted will drop on April 17, the same day as the 2022 special episode “Legend of the Sea Devils.” Instead of being directly Doctor-centric, Redacted follows “three broke university drop-outs” and podcast co-hosts Cleo Proctor (Charlie Craggs), Abby McPhail (Lois Chimimba) and Shawna Thompson (Holly Quin-Ankrah), whose series “The Blue Box Files” analyzes the reoccurrence of a mysterious object (i.e. the Doctor’s TARDIS) throughout historical records. However, Cleo, Abby and Shawna soon become the universe’s best chance at survival, thanks ironically to poor viewership numbers, after getting “caught in a supernatural conspiracy as they learn that everyone who’s ever met the Doctor is disappearing and being forgotten.”

(4) SPINDIZZY? NO, SPINLAUNCH. The space agency is going to give them shot. “NASA to Test SpinLaunch, a Huge Accelerator Built to Slingshot Payloads to Space” at CNET. This version is suborbital. A version is on the drawing board that could be used to achieve orbital insertion (in conjunction with a small upper stage). The system is strictly for uncrewed launch. 

On the long, desolate road between Las Cruces, New Mexico, and the main terminal of Spaceport America over an hour to the north, a bizarre structure looking something like a huge yo-yo with a small smokestack can be seen rising out of the desert floor to the east. 

But the spinning that happens at this facility run by California-based SpinLaunch takes place on the inside of what is really a steel vacuum chamber 300 feet (91 meters) in diameter.  A payload attached to an internal carbon fiber arm is spun up to a speed of 5,000 miles per hour (8,000 kilometers per hour) before being released and fired out of the stack toward space. 

The company completed its first public test of its suborbital mass accelerator in October and now NASA has signed up to try out the huge centrifugal slingshot later this year.

The space agency has signed a contract with SpinLaunch to fly and recover a payload as part of a developmental test flight that could lead to future launches.

(5) SILVERSTEIN BOOK ON STAMP. The U.S. Postal Service honored author and illustrator Shel Silverstein with a Forever stamp featuring artwork from his book, The Giving Tree. The first-day-of-issue event was held April 8 at the school Shel Silverstein attended, Chicago’s Darwin Elementary School. “USPS To Release Shel Silverstein Stamp”.

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1981 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-one years ago, one of those truly great genre films premiered in Excalibur.  I saw it in a movie theatre virtually empty at the time but it still was a wonderful experience. It’s directed and produced by John Boorman off a script by him and Rospo Pallenberg who later got on to The Emerald Forest with Boorman.

Lest you think those are the only Boorman connections, they’re not as it was shot was filmed in Irish locations in County Wicklow, County Tipperary, and County Kerry. The Count Wicklow locations were just a few miles from where Boorman was living at the time. No idea if the cast popped by his manor house for drinks after filming ended for the day. 

I say that as it has a stellar cast: Gabriel Byrne as Uther Pendragon,  Nicholas Clay was Lancelot,  Ciarán Hinds as Lot,  Cherie Lunghi was Guenevere, Helen Mirren was Morgana, Liam Neeson was Gawain, Corin Redgrave was Gorlois, Patrick Stewart was Leondegrance, and Nigel Terry was Arthur, and Nicol Williamson was Merlin. What a group that they would’ve been to party with! 

So what did the critics at the time think of it?

Well Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times summed it rather appropriately in his lead to his review: “What a wondrous vision ‘Excalibur’ is! And what a mess. This wildly ambitious retelling of the legend of King Arthur is a haunting and violent version of the Dark Ages and the heroic figures who (we dream) populated them. But it’s rough going for anyone determined to be sure what is happening from scene to scene.”

And Gary Arnold of the Washington Post said that “In ‘Excalibur,’ opening today at area theaters, Boorman can’t seem to master the ironic approach to high adventure that allows a movie to satisfy heroic longings without getting ridiculous. This stilted reenactment of the Arthurian saga finds Boorman evolving into a modernist parody of Cecil B. De Mille, whipping up a kitschy costume spectacle.” 

It was nominated for a Hugo at Chicon IV finishing second to Raiders of the Lost Ark

It has a sterling eighty percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes, and it earned thirty-five million at the box office against a rather small budget of just eleven million dollars.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 10, 1932 Hari Rhodes. Actor who had an impressive and very extensive genre history starting where he was the Black Man at the piano in The Lost Missile (1958) written by John McPartland and SF writer Jerome Bixby. He shows in The Satan Bug and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. Series wise he was in I-SpyMission: ImpossibleOuter LimitsEarth IIThe Six Million Dollar ManThe Bionic WomanLogan’s RunWonder WomanSalvage 1Beyond WestworldThe Powers of Matthew Star and Automan. (Died 1992.)
  • Born April 10, 1929 Max von Sydow. He played Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the Never Say Never Again and Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon. He shows up in the Exorcist II: The Heretic as Father Lankester Merrin while being King Osric in Conan the Barbarian. Dreamscape sees him being Doctor Paul Novotny while he’s Liet-Kynes the Imperial Planetologist in Dune. He was Judge Fargo in Judge Dredd (and yes I still like it), in Minority Report as Director Lamar Burgess, Sir Walter Loxley in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood and finally in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as Lor San Tekka. (Died 2020.)
  • Born April 10, 1953 David Langford, 69. And how long have you been reading Ansible? If he’s not noted for that singular enterprise, he should be noted for assisting in producing the second edition of the EoSF, not to mention some 629,000 words as a principal editor of the third (online) edition of the publication, and contributed some eighty thousand words of articles to the most excellent EoF as well. And let’s not forget his genre writing as well that earned him a Short Story Hugo at the Millennium Philcon (2001) for “Different Kinds of Darkness”. Langford holds the all-time record for most Hugo Awards, with a total of 29 wins. In addition to his short story, he has won 21 Hugos for Best Fan Writer, five for Ansible as Best Fanzine, another for Ansible as Best Semiprozine, and one for The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction as Best Related Work
  • Born April 10, 1957 John M. Ford. Damn, he died far too young! Popular at At Minicon and other cons where he would be Dr. Mike and give silly answers to questions posed to him while wearing a lab coat before a whiteboard. His most interesting novel I think is The Last Hot Time, an urban fantasy set in Chicago that might have been part of Terri Windling’s Bordertown series but wasn’t. Possibly. (And no, the Suck Fairy hasn’t gotten near when I last read it.) The Dragon Waiting is also excellent and his Trek novels are among the best in that area a of writing.  He’s finally coming back into print after a very long time. (Died 2006.)
  • Born April 10, 1962 James H. Burns. Every search I did in putting together this late Filer’s Birthday ended back here. That he was beloved here, I have no doubt. In OGH’s obituary for Burns in 2016 he said Burns’ pride was this trio of posts that paid tribute to the influence of his father — My Father, And The BrontosaurusSons of a Mesozoic Age, and World War II, and a Lexicon in Time. Burns also wrote for File 770 about memories of “growing up fannish,” such as the very popular Once, When We Were All Scientists, and CLANKY!. And his good friend Steve Vertlieb also has reminisced about Burns here. (Died 2016.)
  • Born April 10, 1973 Dean Hsieh, 49. He’s best known as the animator of A Scanner Darkly which was nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form at Nippon 2007 which was the year that Pan’s Labyrinth won. 
  • Born April 10, 1992 Daisy Ridley, 30. Obviously she played the role of Rey in The Force AwakensThe Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. She was also in Scrawl, a horror film as well as voicing Cotton Rabbit in Peter Rabbit. Though stretching to even call it genre adjacent even, she was Mary Debenham in Murder on The Orient Express which was rather well done.  Not as nearly good I’d say as the Seventies Murder on The Orient Express film whose original poster I have on my living wall but I’m biased. 

(8) CAKE DISCUSSION. Mike Kennedy joins Geek Tyrant in encouraging all fans to “Check Out This STAR WARS Death Star Trench Run Cake”. Like the Force, this cake has two sides; sponge cake and carrot cake. It’s up to you to deduce which is the dark side. If only we could queue up for a slice after the photographer finishes.

Star Wars fan Evie Rees used her talented skills to make this birthday cake that’s clearly inspired by the LEGO diorama of the Star Wars Death Star trench run. Everything you see on the cake is edible, except for the little ships and their stands.

… You can see a gallery of ten larger images of the cake in this reddit post.

(9) HOUSTON, DO YOU READ? “MLB World Reacts To Houston Astros’ New Uniform” – and MSN.com collected the tweets. Here’s one example.

On Sunday, the Houston Astros became the second MLB team to launch its new Nike City Connect uniforms. The “Space City” uni’s pay homage to the ballclub’s 1970’s look and the city’s history with the space program.

(10) LITERARY DESIGNS. Here are three intriguing product designs from Holly Sewsephine.

(11) SFF IN THE CURRICULUM. Colby College posts about how “Government Professor Joe Reisert Uses Science Fiction ‘To Make the World Better’”.

…Interesting novels that illustrate complex situations are more likely to resonate with students than conventional works of scholarship, Reisert said, explaining his reasoning for including unlikely texts in his coursework. One of his go-to books is the novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Published in the early 1930s and set hundreds of years in the future, Brave New World imagines a society dominated by technology, where citizens are engineered to perform specific jobs, programmed to love their society without question, and where “mother” and “father” are dirty words, and where genuine human emotions are unknown. Reisert, who is also the Harriet S. Wiswell and George C. Wiswell Jr. Professor of American Constitutional Law, uses other books as well, including Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed and Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, to help students envision and think about Marx’s social ideals….

(12) NOW, TALKABLE FUNGI! “Mushrooms communicate with each other using up to 50 ‘words’, scientist claims” reports the Guardian.

Buried in forest litter or sprouting from trees, fungi might give the impression of being silent and relatively self-contained organisms, but a new study suggests they may be champignon communicators.

Mathematical analysis of the electrical signals fungi seemingly send to one another has identified patterns that bear a striking structural similarity to human speech.

Previous research has suggested that fungi conduct electrical impulses through long, underground filamentous structures called hyphae – similar to how nerve cells transmit information in humans….

Daniel Dern sent the link with a comment: “And with the right fifty words, they could do ‘Green Eggs And Ham'”

(13) ART CLASS. This six-part series has Disney animators teaching you how to draw Disney characters: “Disney’s Sketchbook”.

Check out the trailer for Sketchbook, an upcoming Disney Plus series featuring six artists from Disney Animation. Disney’s Sketchbook will be available to stream on Disney+ from April 27, 2022. The show covers iconic Disney characters, including The Lion King’s Simba, Frozen’s Olaf, Encanto’s Mirabel, Aladdin’s Genie, Peter Pan’s Captain Hook, and The Emperor’s New Groove’s Kuzco.

(14) CONSIDER YOURSELVES WARNED. This is grotesque. Why am I including it in the Scroll? Chucky takes a star turn in this (mean-spirited) office segment from last night’s Saturday Night Live.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/12/22 Asking Only Filer’s Pixels, I Come Looking For A Scroll

(1) BIPOC WRITERS INVITED. Editor Jonathan Strahan is reserving up to three spots in his upcoming anthology The Book of Witches for new BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and other People of Colour) writers. “Open submission period for BIPOC* writers for The Book of Witches”. He will be taking submissions from March 14-18. Complete guidelines at the link.

Following on from the award-winning success of The Book of Dragons, Harper Voyager will publish an exciting new anthology, The Book of Witches, edited by Jonathan Strahan in the fall of 2023. Like The Book of DragonsThe Book of Witches will be a big, inclusive, illustrated anthology of fiction and poetry, this time looking at “witches”, more specifically your witch and what it means to you.

So far writers who have agreed to contribute to the book include Linda Addison, S.A. Chakraborty, Zen Cho, P. Djèlí Clark, Indrapramit Das, Amal El Mohtar, Andrea Hairston, Millie Ho, Nalo Hopkinson, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Cassandra Khaw, Fonda Lee, Darcie Little Badger, Ken Liu, Karen Lord, Usman T. Malik, Tochi Onyebuchi, C.L. Polk, Rebecca Roanhorse, Kelly Robson, Angela Slatter, Rivers Solomon, Andrea Stewart, Sheree Renée Thomas, and Tade Thompson, and we are reserving up to three spots in the final book for new BIPOC writers.

If you are a BIPOC writer – regardless of whether you’re widely published or just starting out – and would like to see your work appear in a major anthology like The Book of Witches, we’d love to hear from you. Just check out the submissions guidelines below and send us your story. 

(2) KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. The American Museum of Natural History will livestream Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “Year in Review” on February 26. Purchase tickets at the link.

Find out what’s new in the cosmos as Tyson, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium, reviews top stories from 2021, including notable commercial space launches, missions to Mars, visits to asteroids, and sky phenomena. 

This program will be presented online. Viewing information will be provided with your purchase confirmation. Only one ticket is needed per household.

(3) APPLY FOR SLF’S BOSE GRANT. The Speculative Literature Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2022 A.C. Bose Grant for South Asian Speculative Literature. Applications will be open through January 31. Complete guidelines are here.

The $1,000 A.C. Bose Grant for South Asian Speculative Literature, co-sponsored by the SLF and DesiLit, is awarded to a South Asian or South Asian diaspora writer developing speculative fiction.

The grant is named in memory of Ashim Chandra Bose, a lover of books, especially science fiction and fantasy, and was founded by his children, Rupa Bose and Gautam Bose.

(4) RELOADING THE CANON. Lois McMaster Bujold has updated her recommended reading order for her various series: “The Vorkosigan Saga Reading Order Debate: The Chef Recommends – Bujold reading-order guide 2022 update (chapter 2)” at Goodreads.

(5) NASA’S WEBB TELESCOPE LEADER PROFILED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Courtland Milloy profiles James Webb Space Telescope program administrator Gregory Robinson, who is Black. His parents were tobacco sharecroppers and he began his student days in a segregated school, but after graduating from Virginia Union University and then from Howard University joined NASA in 1989 and worked his way up to his current position. Gregory Robinson, Webb telescope director, has had his own journey – The Washington Post

…“I often reflect on how dedicated, smart, encouraging and supportive they were during that time,” Robinson said of his teachers. “They’d tell us that we could do anything we wanted if we had an education. That appealed to me because I wanted to get out of Danville and have a better life.”

“I wanted to go to college but didn’t know if I could afford it,” he recalled. Fortunately, along with his knack for math, he’d been a pretty good high school quarterback. He earned himself a football scholarship to Virginia Union University in Richmond, packed two bags, and caught a Greyhound bus to the university.

At Virginia Union, he earned a bachelor’s degree in math. Then he transferred to Howard University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He later earned an MBA from Averett College in Danville and attended Harvard University’s Senior Executive Fellows Program at the Kennedy School of Government.

While attending Howard, he met students who had done internships with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. He was intrigued by what he heard. “They were doing really interesting things, unlocking many secrets, mysteries and unknowns about our solar system, our Earth systems,” he said….

(6) FROM AN OLD FAMILIAR SCORE. CBR calls these the “10 Most Overdone Sci-Fi Clichés”.

…However, the overabundance of certain clichés can be a tad tiresome, especially for fans of sci-fi. This is because the genre insists on recycling the same old symbols and allegories, over and over until all meaning is drained out of the story, leaving behind nothing more than a stale skeleton of something that used to be original at one point….

One of the offenders on their list:

7 Hacking Into Computers Is Easy Enough For Anyone

The process of hacking, particularly methods that rely on brute force, is long, slow, and painfully dull. Most people wouldn’t have the attention span to work out the countless algorithmic permutations required to break into secure computing systems, but sci-fi would have audiences believe that anyone can become a hacking professional.

Even scientist characters aren’t immune to this trope: in Independence Day (1995), they somehow write a virus and inject it into the alien’s computer, despite having no formal knowledge of extraterrestrial tech. Similarly, R2-D2 from Star Wars is capable of hacking practically any computing device with ease, even though his build is relatively ancient.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1937 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Eighty-five years ago, the German adaptation of The Hound of Baskervilles, Der Hund von Baskerville, as directed by Carl Lamac premiered in Bavaria from the screenplay by Carla von Stackelberg. 

Two individuals are credited as playing Holmes, Bruno Güttner doing the physical work and Siegfried Schürenberg doing the voice. The latter dubbed most of Clark Gable’s films into German including Gone with the Wind. Fritz Odemar was Dr. Watson it was the ninth German film adaptation of this story with the first being in 1914. (There’s only been three such adaptations since then.) 

This was one of two films that was found in Adolf Hitler’s bunker by the Allies in 1945. The other film was Der Mann, der Sherlock Holmes war (The Man who was Sherlock Holmes), another Thirties film. 

If you’re interested, you can see it here with English subtitles.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 12, 1913 Marc Davis. He was one of Disney’s Nine Old Men who created some of Disney’s most-remembered animated cartoons from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to The Rescuers in the Seventies. He worked on Snow White and the Seven DwarfsBambi, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty and A Hundred and One Dalmantians. (Died 2000.)
  • Born January 12, 1916 House Peters Jr. Though he’s best remembered as Mr. Clean in the Procter & Gamble commercials of the Fifties and Sixties, he did appear in a fair amount of SFF including Flash Gordon, Batman and RobinKing of the Rocket MenThe Day The Earth Stood StillRed Planet MarsTarget Earth and The Twilight Zone. Here’s one of the pre-animated Mr. Clean commercials. (Died 2008.)
  • Born January 12, 1937 Shirley Eaton, 85. Bond Girl Jill Masterson in Goldfinger, and yes, she got painted gold in it. She was not nude as is generally thought but was wearing a monokini. She also shows up as the title character in The Million Eyes of Sumuru, the Sax Rohmer based film we discussed last year. Her other significant role would be as Dr. Margaret E. ‘Maggie’ Hanford in Around the World Under the Sea. She retired from acting in the late Sixties. 
  • Born January 12, 1948 Tim Underwood, 74. Bibliographer with such works as Fantasy and Science Fiction by Jack Vance (done with Jack Miller), Shameless Art: Paintings of Dames, Dolls, Pin-ups, and Bad Girls (genre adjacent at the very least) and Stephen King Spills the Beans: Career-Spanning Interviews with America’s Bestselling Author.  
  • Born January 12, 1951 Kirstie Alley, 71. She’s here for being Saavik on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, her very first film. It was, errr, interesting reading the various rumors why this was her only Trek film. Her SFF experience otherwise was brief limited to being the villain’s ex-girlfriend in Runaway, an uncredited handmaiden on Quark, and being in the Village of the Damned as Dr. Susan Verner.
  • Born January 12, 1952 Walter Mosley, 70. I have read his most excellent Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins series but hadn’t  been aware that he wrote SF of which he has four novels to date, Blue LightFutureland: Nine Stories of an Imminent FutureThe Wave, and 47. There’s a Jack Kirby art book called Maximum Fantastic Four that was conceived of and orchestrated by him.  Interestingly enough, he’s got a writing credit for episode of Masters of Science Fiction called “Little Brother” where Stephen Hawking was the Host according to IMdB.
  • Born January 12, 1952 Rockne S. O’Bannon, 70. He’s the genius behind the rejuvenated Twilight ZoneAmazing Stories, the absolutely frelling fascinating Farscape, the could-have-been-great SeaQuest 2032, the Alien Nation series and Defiance.
  • Born January 12, 1980 Kameron Hurley, 42. Winner of a Best Related Work Hugo at London 3 for We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative. Fiction wise, her most excellent God’s War won a BFA and a Kitschie, whereas her The Geek Feminist Revolution won her a BFA for non-fiction. Very impressive indeed. Oh, and she won a Hugo for Best Fan Writer at London 3 as well. Nice. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

 (10) THINK AGAIN. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt says Andrew Garfield’s good work in Spider-Man: No Way Home should lead to a reassessment of his two Spider-Man movies, which Betancourt believes are underrated. “Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man deserves redemption”.

…That is not to say Garfield’s Spider-Man never had believers. There are plenty of younger fans who were children when he was sticking to walls on the screen between 2012 and 2014 and who identify him as their Spider-Man. For many, however, Garfield’s Peter Parker was the Spider-Man that couldn’t. A Spider-Man who couldn’t beat the worldwide box office of his predecessor, Tobey Maguire. A Spider-Man who couldn’t make it to trilogy status. And worst of all, a Sony Spider-Man that couldn’t swing on his webs alongside the Avengers over at Marvel Studios because of legalities.

But our spidey-senses failed us. Now we know we were wrong about Garfield….

(11) A PREVIOUS PIXEL. Pat Cadigan is always supplying her Facebook readers with essential facts.

Robert Heinlein told me that one winter day, he and his wife were watching one of their cats go from door to door in their house. The cat would look at each door curiously, meow, and then move on to another door.

Heinlein said to his wife, “I wonder what he’s looking for.”

Virginia Heinlein replied, “He’s looking for the door into summer.”

Heinlein said, “Don’t say another word!”

He ran to his typewriter and finished a first draft of the novel within ten days.

Just because I know you couldn’t go a moment longer without knowing this. You’re welcome.

(12) LOOKALIKE COLLECTIBLE. Space Command showrunner Marc Scott Zicree tells “How I Saved Myself $300,000!” Before Marc gets to the main event he talks about some other Star Trek items.

…Then this could easily be an illustration from that but, no, this is an officially licensed product — the Star Trek Coloring Book. Spock has the wrong color uniforms so he’s a red shirt, so he should probably  get killed in this coloring book…

(13) SOLAR BUBBLE. Been having a “lonely, empty feeling” lately? “The Solar System Exists Inside a Giant, Mysterious Void, And We Finally Know Why”ScienceAlert has the story.

The Solar System floats in the middle of a peculiarly empty region of space.

This region of low-density, high-temperature plasma, about 1,000 light-years across, is surrounded by a shell of cooler, denser neutral gas and dust. It’s called the Local Bubble, and precisely how and why it came to exist, with the Solar System floating in the middle, has been a challenge to explain.

A team of astronomers led by the Harvard & Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) has now mapped the Local Bubble with the highest precision yet – and found that the Local Bubble was likely carved out of the interstellar medium by a series of supernova explosions millions of years ago.

(14) DEATH WILL NOT RELEASE YOU. Netflix previews a Korean series about zombies taking over a high school. “All of Us Are Dead”.  Gore warning.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/12/21 To Your Scattered Pixels Go

(1) THE RIGHT PANTS. Sharon Lee assures Facebook readers it can be done. Repeatedly.

So, the question arises on Twitter — Is it possible to pants — i.e. write outline-free — an entire novel?

Er, yes, it is possible to pants an entire novel — or even 34 entire novels. It’s not neat, and there’s a certain amount of waste involved, but, let’s face it, I’m never going to outline a novel. How could you even DO that? Things are gonna change as you go along, anyway.

(2) SHOPPING LIST. In the second part of his Christmas book round up, Michael Dirda reviews The Ray Bradbury Compendium! Also, American Christmas Stories edited by Connie Willis. “Books make the best gifts. Here are seven surprising choices for the readers on your list” in the Washington Post.

Years ago, I was invited to write a letter recommending Ray Bradbury for a special Pulitzer Prize. Anne Farr Hardin helped organize that successful effort, largely out of her affection and admiration for the author who gave us “Fahrenheit 451,” “The Martian Chronicles,” “Dandelion Wine” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes” (all, by the way, available in a new Library of America volume edited by our leading Bradbury scholar, Jonathan Eller). Hardin’s own fabulous Bradbury collection — now housed at the University of South Carolina and the basis for this annotated catalogue — features warmly inscribed books, personal letters, rare pulp magazines, manuscripts, photographs, poems, Christmas greetings and all kinds of memorabilia, even Bradbury’s famous bicycle, now painstakingly restored.

(3) FILLING IN THE BLANKETYS. “’They were a bit abrasive’: how kids’ TV Clangers secretly swore” — “The son of Oliver Postgate, creator of the 1970s show, reveals what was in the scripts for the delightful and puzzling swannee-whistle creatures” in the Guardian.

…“People have often wondered whether there was swearing,” said Postgate, who revived the show for a new generation in 2015. He is surprised, he said, by the idea the soundtrack of whistles could ever have been entirely improvised. “Some people don’t realise that the scripts were written in English. And those who do often speculate on whether a certain amount of bad language – swearing, to be blunt – had been slipped into their conversations.”…

(4) UNDERGROUND LITERATURE. Londoners know all about this, but it was news to me – every month they post poetry on the Tube. If you can’t make it there, you can read this month’s Poems on the Underground at the link. (Or the poems from November 2021 here; all of 2021 here; and all of 2020 here.) Some of this month’s selections are of genre interest — beginning with Margaret Atwood.

(5) SECOND REITH LECTURE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] The second of the 2021 Reith Lectures can be heard on BBC Radio 4. The lecture can be downloaded from here for a month. (After that search for it on BBC iSounds.)

AI in warfare – Episode 2 of 4

Skynet is not the problem…

Stuart Russell warns of the dangers of developing autonomous weapon systems – arguing for a system of global control. Weapons that locate, select, and engage human targets without human supervision are already available for use in warfare,. Some argue that AI will reduce collateral damage and civilian casualties. Others believe it could kill on a scale not seen since Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Will future wars be fought entirely by machines, or will one side surrender only when its real losses, military or civilian, become unacceptable? Professor Russell will examine the motivation of major powers developing these types of weapons, the morality of creating algorithms that decide to kill humans, and possible ways forward for the international community as it struggles with these questions.

Stuart Russell is Professor of Computer Science and founder of the Center for Human-Compatible Artificial Intelligence at the University of California, Berkeley.

There was also an accompanying science programme later that day: “Rutherford and Fry on Living with AI”.

What if a despotic leader could programme a swarm of drones to kill a set of identified targets with just the push of a button? Due to ever expanding AI capabilities this extreme dystopian vision may not be technically unfeasible. In this second of a four part series responding to this year’s BBC Reith lectures from Stuart Russell, Adam Rutherford and Hannah Fry unpick the role of AI in warfare.

Joining them to help them navigate the battlefield of information is Ulrike Franke, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations who specialises in the future of warfare.

Together they will be investigating ‘lethal autonomous weapons’ – these are weapons that can find, chose and kill human targets without human supervision. We will be discussing how advanced this technology actually is – some think the world may have already experienced the first ever autonomous strike in Libya. What are the repercussions of this technology for safety on the battlefield , and what are the wider geo-political ramifications?

Stuart Russell has deep concerns over the development of these types of weapons and Rutherford and Fry pick apart some of the ethical debates this technology raises. Who would be responsible if a system malfunctioned and killed a civilian? What’s to stop it getting into the wrong hands? Should we even be creating these weapons in the first place – do we instead need a convention banning them? And is that even possible?

(6) ANNE RICE (1941-2021). The author of Interview With the Vampire, Anne Rice, died December 11 at the age of 80 due to complications resulting from a stroke.

Interestingly, Rice’s Interview With the Vampire received many rejections, until Rice attended a writer’s conference conducted by Ray Nelson, where she met her future literary agent, Phyllis Seidel, who sold the book. (Ray Nelson is a writer, and also the fanartist whose cartoons popularized the image of beanie-wearing fans.)

 The Guardian notes:

…Rice wrote a further 12 novels in the Vampire Chronicles series, and was dismissive of the sparkly, vegetarian version of vampires made popular in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, saying she felt “sorry for vampires that sparkle in the sun” and that Lestat “would never hurt immortals who choose to spend eternity going to high school over and over again in a small town”.

…Rice was also known for her erotic fiction Sleeping Beauty series

Her son Christopher eulogized her death on Facebook:

(7) MEMORY LANE.

1971 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fifty years ago at Noreascon 1 where Robert Silverberg was the Toastmaster, Theodore Sturgeon won the Hugo for the Short Story for his “Slow Sculpture“ story that had been published in the February 1970 of Galaxy. Other nominated works were R. A. Lafferty‘s “Continued on Next Rock”, Gordon R. Dickson‘s “Jean Duprès”, Keith Laumer’s “In The Queue” and Ben Bova and Harlan Ellison‘s “Brillo”. It would also win a Nebula Award, but in the Novella category. Note that the Galaxy cover calls it a Novelette thereby giving us a hat trick.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 12, 1891 Malcolm Jameson. His “Blind Alley” novella, first published in the June 1943 issue of Unknown,was used for the Twilight Zone episode “Of Late I Think of Cliffordville”. It was broadcast on April 11, 1963. He only wrote three novels but penned over seventy short stories. Kindle, though not Apple Books, has most of his fiction at very reasonable rates. (Died 1945.)
  • Born December 12, 1944 Ginjer Buchanan, 77. Longtime Editor-in-Chief at Ace Books and Roc Books where she worked for three decades until recently. She received a Hugo in Best Editor, Long Form at Loncon 3 after five previous nominations. She has a novel, White Silence, in the Highlander metaverse, and three short stories in anthologies edited by Mike Resnick. And she’s a Browncoat as she has an essay, “Who Killed Firefly?” in the Jane Espenson edited Finding Serenity: Anti-Heroes, Lost Shepherds and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon’s Firefly.
  • Born December 12, 1945 – Karl Edward Wagner. Trained as a psychiatrist, Wagner quickly abandoned the medical profession in favour of writing and editing. Nowadays, he is best remembered for the adventures of the immortal warrior Kane (implied to be the Cain from the Bible), who appeared in three novels and twenty short stories and novellas between 1970 and 1994 and even met Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné in one story. The Kane stories rejuvenated the sword and sorcery genre and are considered precursors to today’s grimdark fantasy. Wagner’s Robert E. Howard pastiches, the Conan pastiche The Road of Kings and the Bran Mak Morn pastiche Legion of Shadows, are considered among the best of the many Howard pastiches. Wagner was also an acclaimed horror author and his 1974 story “Sticks” is believed to have inspired the movie The Blair Witch Project. Between 1987 and 1991, Wagner edited three volumes of the heroic fantasy anthology Echoes of Valor and was the first to publish stories like Robert E. Howard’s “The Black Stranger” or Fritz Leiber’s “Adept’s Gambit” in their original, unaltered form. Wagner was also the editor of the Year’s Best Horror Storiesanthologies from 1980 to his death in 1994. Together with David Drake, he founded the publishing house Carcosa, which specialised in reprinting pulp era fantasy and horror stories. Wagner won the World Fantasy, Stoker and British Fantasy Award and the special British Fantasy Award for contributions to the genre is named after him. Wagner is the subject of the 2020 documentary The Last Wolf: Karl Edward Wagner, which may be viewed on Vimeo. There is also a podcast about his life and work named The Dark Crusade. (Died 1994)  [By Cora Buhlert.]
  • Born December 12, 1946 Josepha Sherman. Writer and folklorist who was a Compton Crook Award winner for The Shining Falcon which was based on the Russian fairy tale The Feather of Finist the Falcon. She was a prolific writer both on her own and with other writers such as Mercedes Lackey with whom she wrote A Cast of Corbies, and two Buffyverse novels with Laura Anne Gilman.  I knew her personally as a folklorist first and that is she was without peer writing such works as Rachel the Clever: And Other Jewish Folktales and Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts: The Subversive Folklore of Childhood that she wrote with T K F Weisskopf.  Neat lady who died far too soon after falling on harsh circumstances. Let me leave you with an essay she wrote on Winter for Green Man some twenty years ago, “Josepha Sherman’s Winter Queen Speech”  (Died 2012.)
  • Born December 12, 1949 Bill Nighy, 72. Yes, he shows up as Dr. Black on Who in an Eleventh Doctor story, “Vincent and the Doctor”. He’d make a fine Doctor, I’d say. He’s done a lot of other genre performances from the known, Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and Slartibartfast in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, to other blink-and-he’s-gone, as when he played the ENT Doc in Curse of the Pink Panther. (Yes, ENT Doctor, not EMT Doctor.) He’s John Kildare in the most excellent The Limehouse Golem.
  • Born December 12, 1956 Noël Sturgeon, 65. Daughter of Theodore Sturgeon. And yes she’s has genre creds though ISFDB doesn’t list them as she has edited Slow Sculpture: Volume XII: The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon and The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon, Volume XIII: Case and the Dreamer. She’s a tenured academic who has two published works to date, Ecofeminist Natures: Race, Gender, Feminist Theory and Political Action and Environmentalism in Popular Culture: Gender, Race, Sexuality, and the Politics of the Natural. Hardcore stuff that. 
  • Born December 12, 1959 Beth Bernobich, 62. Her novel, A Study in Honor, won for Best Lesbian Mystery at Lambda Literary Awards. (The Hound of Justice novel picked up a second nomination for the same Award.) Her River of Souls series, of which the second book, Queen’s Hunt was longlisted for a David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy, is quite good. 
  • Born December 12, 1961 Sarah Sutton, 60. She’s best known for her role as Nyssa who was a Companion to both the Fourth and Fifth Doctors.  She reprised the role of Nyssa in the 1993 Children In Need special Dimensions in Time, and of course in the Big Finish audio dramas. She’s in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
  • Born December 12, 1970 Mädchen Amick, 51. I remember her first as Ariel, the shapeshifter who was Roarke’s second-in-command, on the second Fantasy Island which I had no idea only lasted for only thirteen episodes. But her first genre role was on Next Gen as Young Anya in “The Dauphin” several before she played Shelly Johnson on Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, a role she reprised on Twin Peaks and the recent Twin Peaks in which she’s renamed Shelly Briggs. 
  • Born December 12, 1976 Tim Pratt, 45. I think his best work was his very first novel which was The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl but there’s no doubt that later work such as The Constantine AfflictionBone Shop and The Stormglass Protocol are equally superb. That’s not to overlook his short fiction which you’ve not tried it you should and I’d recommend Little God as a good place to start. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Foxtrot’s “The Spice Must Flow” suggests that perhaps nutmeg and  melange are similar. (Hey, melange could almost be read as “allspice”, right?)

(10) MORE SEASONING. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] They could call this “Spice: The Final Frontier!”

Dune Spice Wars is an upcoming real-time strategy game with 4X elements and featuring asymmetrical gameplay, as well as multiple playable factions.

(11) YOUR SCI-FI DOCENT. Star Trek writer Marc Scott Zicree takes you on a tour of the “Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds” exhibit at Skirball Cultural Center in LA.

(12) IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Laura Sheppard Churchley, the daughter of pioneering American astronaut Alan Shepard, was among those on the latest suborbital launch by Blue Origin. And, oh yeah, some famous guy was also in the capsule. Can you guess which one was named in the headline and the lede? “Strahan flies to space with astronaut’s daughter: ‘Wow!’”

Football star and TV celebrity Michael Strahan caught a ride to space with Jeff Bezos’ rocket-launching company Saturday, sharing the trip with the daughter of America’s first astronaut.

“TOUCHDOWN has a new meaning now!!!” he tweeted after landing.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket blasted off from West Texas, sending the capsule on a 10-minute flight with the two VIP guests and four paying customers. Their automated capsule soared to an altitude of 66 miles (106 kilometers), providing a few minutes of weightlessness before parachuting into the desert. The booster also came back to land successfully….

(13) GET A LIFE, KEEP A LIFE. Meanwhile, William Shatner is still holding onto that sense of wonder inspired by his Blue Origin trip. He declares, “The Future Is Worth Fighting For, And Fans Will Lead The Way” at SlashFilm.

So. I’m back from space.

I saw just how fragile our home, this spinning blue ball, really is in the depthless darkness with my own eyes and I was moved. It made all the constant static we are surrounded with evaporate and gave a clarity unknown to me.

If only the world could see what I saw — this comforter of blue that surrounds us. When everyone can see how fragile and special life is, we will finally see ourselves as one community, one people.

This past August I was in the green room of a San Jose pop culture convention when I was approached by two men — one dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, the other wearing an Indiana Jones costume complete with bullwhip. They didn’t want a selfie, but instead pitched me on a startup (this was Silicon Valley, after all) – Legion M, an entertainment company built from the ground up to be owned by fans.

It’s a simple but brilliant idea: Harness the wisdom and power of the community. Shorten the distance between creators and consumers. Give people a say in what gets made and a stake in the outcome. Grow that community large enough, and you could potentially change the way entertainment is produced forever. A big idea….

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Rich Horton, N., Steven French, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson, part of “The Hugo Pixel Scroll Winners” series.]

Pixel Scroll 11/28/21 I Have Squandered All My Pixels

(1) CASTAWAY. BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs hosted “Neil Gaiman, writer” who shared the eight tracks, book and luxury item he would take with him if cast away to a desert island. Listen to the program at the link.

Or, let BBC Radio 4 blab it to you in a post: “Nine things we learned from Neil Gaiman’s Desert Island Discs”.

Neil Gaiman is a multi-award winning author whose work includes the novels Stardust, American Gods and The Graveyard Book and the comic book series The Sandman. His first novel, Good Omens, written with Terry Pratchett, was published in 1990, and Neil recently adapted it as a TV series starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen. He specialises in creating fantastic alternative realities which exist under the nose of the world as we know it. He recently told his 2.8 million Twitter followers that he wore his ‘lucky Batman underpants’ for his Desert Island Discs recording – and here are nine things we learned from the programme…

5. A furious child inspired his first book for younger readers

Neil published The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish in 1997.

“The idea, like most of my children’s books, was stolen from one of my children,” explains Neil. “In this case from my son, Mike, and he would have been four, maybe five years old. I’d said something to him that he didn’t like, like possibly suggesting to him that it was actually his bedtime.”

“And he looked up at me with a fury that only a small boy can generate, a special kind of fury and he just said, ‘I wish I didn’t have a dad’. He said, ‘I wish I had….’ And then he paused because he hadn’t thought that through and, and then he said, ‘I wish I had goldfish!’ And he stomped off while I just thought ‘That is brilliant!’”

(2) HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS, DISCON 1. Andrew Porter received this postcard after reserving his room for Discon, the 1963 Worldcon in Washington DC. “Back when I was still Andy Silverberg…” – his name at the time.

(3) QANTAS PHYSICS. Fanac.org’s next “FanHistory Project Zoom Session” will be “Wrong Turns on the Wallaby Track: Australian Science Fiction Fandom to Aussiecon – Part 1, 1936 to 1960” featuring Leigh Edmonds and Perry Middlemiss. According to your time zone, it starts December 4 at 7PM Dec 4 EST, 4PM Dec 4 PST, or December 5 at 11AM in Melbourne AU. RSVP to [email protected] to get the Zoom link.

From the 1930s to the 1950s sf fandom in Australia was active and buoyant. Centred mainly around the city of Sydney their activities included fanzine production, club meetings and feuding. Yet by the beginning of the 1960s it had nearly all withered away. How did this vibrant community survive the Second World War and yet somehow fail to make it through peacetime? This, and many other questions, will be addressed by Dr Leigh Edmonds, sf fan and professional historian, in his FANAC talk titled “Wrong Turns on the Wallaby Track: Australian Science Fiction Fandom to Aussiecon – Part 1, 1936 to 1960.”

(4) WHO WAS THAT MASKED FAN? The Los Angeles Times reports on Comic-Con Special Edition: “Comic-Con returns to San Diego amid COVID-19 pandemic”.

They say not all superheroes wear capes. But they do all now wear masks.

This weekend, thousands of people flocked to San Diego for the city’s first in-person Comic-Con — the beloved geekfest for all things science fiction, superhero and fantasy — in two and a half years.

The cosplayers squeezed into their spandex, strapped on their plastic weapons and secured their brightly colored wigs.

But with great power comes great responsibility. So, in a pandemic twist, they all donned face masks and red wristbands after proving they had either been vaccinated against or had recently tested negative for the greatest villain of all: COVID-19….

(5) COMIC-CON MUSEUM. The Times of San Diego takes its “First Peek Inside Comic-Con Museum, Revealing Exhibits Amid Soft Opening”.

…Local dignitaries, Comic-Con officials and volunteers were the first to see the 250,000 square feet of exhibits as a “special edition” San Diego Comic Convention opened Friday at the San Diego Convention Center.

The former San Diego Hall of Champions sports museum will be a destination for Comic-Con attendees, who can take a free shuttle between to the venue. The shuttle goes every 30 minutes….

This is the link to the Museum website where these six theme exhibits are now on display:

  • Gene Roddenberry: Sci-Fi Visionary as creator of “Star Trek.”
  • Chas Addams…Family and Friends as cartoonist of darkly humorous and macabre characters.
  • Eight Decades of Archie: a new pop-up exhibition that explores the storied history of America’s typical teenagers
  • Cardboard Superheroes: the art of teenage brothers Connor (17) and Bauer (14) Lee, this exhibit features life-size cardboard models of superheroes such as Hulkbuster, Groot, C-3PO, and Baby Yoda.
  • Out of the Darkness: Comics in the Times of COVID featuring artwork by San Diego young people.
  • The PAC-MAN Arcade on the 2020 Museum Character Hall of Fame Inductee.

(6) COMICS EXHIBIT IN WASHINGTON, DC. There’s news about what the Library of Congress is doing with Steve Geppi’s collection of comics. Geppi Gems is on view in the LOC’s Graphic Arts Gallery through March 2022. A second rotation, with a completely different selection, is intended for the Spring of 2022. “Geppi Gems Exhibit: Highlights from the Stephen A. Geppi Collection at the Library of Congress”.

…Stephen A. Geppi opened the Geppi Entertainment Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, in 2006, with the intent of showing how artistic creations from the pages of newspaper comic strips and comic books permeated popular culture. Over time, he expanded his collecting interests to reflect such comic book themes as superheroes, westerns, science fiction, horror, sports, music and entertainment. When the Geppi Entertainment Museum closed its doors in 2018, Mr. Geppi generously donated a large portion of its contents to the Library of Congress, with a desire that thousands of people share his excitement for comic books….

There’s also an online version of the exhibit: “Geppi Gems”.

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1972 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-nine years ago this evening, Via Galactica, a SF rock musical, premiered on Broadway. Critics all hated it. Audiences really weren’t fond of it either. It lasted but seven shows before being cancelled. Yes, it was that bad. The story by Christopher Gore and Judith Ross, lyrics by Gore, and music by Galt MacDermot. It marked the Broadway debut of actor Mark Baker who went on to far better things. (Raul Julia was in the cast.) The storyline was so difficult to follow that at the very last moment producers inserted a plot synopsis in Playbill, but audiences still had no idea what they were witnessing unfolding on stage which involved, among other things, a clamshell-shaped garbage ship called the Helen of Troy. No, I’m not kidding. It would be one of the very first Broadway plays to lose a million dollars. That’s over six million dollars today. 

Jennifer George, daughter of the producer George W. George, has a look at it here.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 28, 1930 William Sargent, 91. He played Dr. Leighton in “The Conscience of the King”, a first season episode of Star Trek. He also shows up in Night Slaves (really don’t ask), Mission: ImpossibleShazam!Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaThe Twilight ZoneAlfred Hitchcock Presents and The Invaders. He was in the pilot for The Immortal series but wasn’t in the regular cast.
  • Born November 28, 1939 Walter Velez. His agent and fellow artist Jill Bauman wrote, “Walter created illustrations for most of the major book and gaming companies. He has been long known for his cover art for such popular books such as the Thieves World series and the Myth Adventures series, both edited by Robert Asprin; and the EbenezumWuntor, and Cineverse Cycle series, all by Craig Shaw Gardner. Walter illustrated for TSR games extensively. He applied his multi-faceted talents to trading cards for the Goosebumps series for the Topps Company, and a series of Dune trading cards. In the early 80’s he worked with Random House to create art for several Star Wars books that were licensed from George Lucas.” (Died 2018.)
  • Born November 28, 1944 Rita Mae Brown, 76. Author of the Sister Jane mysteries which features foxes, hounds and cats as characters with voices which in my mind makes them genre novels. Not to mention her creation of Sneaky Pie Brown who “is a New York Times best-selling writer and cat who co-authors the Mrs. Murphy series of mystery novels with her owner, Rita Mae Brown.” And who she has an entire series devoted to. 
  • Born November 28, 1946 Joe Dante, 75. Warning, this is a personal list of Dante’s works that I’ve really, really enjoyed starting off with The Howling then adding in Innnerspace, both of the Gremlins films though I think only the first is a masterpiece even if the second has its moments, Small Soldiers and The Hole. For television work, he’s done a lot but the only one I can say that I recall and was impressed by was his Legends of Tomorrow’s “Night of the Hawk” episode.  That’s his work as Director. As a Producer, I see he’s responsible for The Phantom proving everyone has a horrible day.  
  • Born November 28, 1952 S. Epatha Merkerson, 69. Best remembered as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren on Law & Order appearing in 395 episodes of the series. Since Dick Wolf also is responsible for Chicago Med, she’s now playing Sharon Goodwin there. Both of her major SF roles involve robots. The first was in Terminator 2: Judgment Day as Tarissa Dyson; a year later, she had a recurring role as Capt. Margaret Claghorn in Mann & Machine. And she had a recurring role as Reba on Pee-wee’s Playhouse which I believe the consensus here is that it’s genre. 
  • Born November 28, 1962 Mark Hodder, 59. Best known for his Burton & Swinburne alternate Victorian steampunk novels starting off with The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack that deservedly garnered a Philip K. Dick Award. He also wrote A Red Sun Also Rises which recreates sort of Victorian London on a far distant alien world. Emphasis on sort of. And then there’s Consulting Detective Macalister Fogg which appears to be his riff off of Sherlock Holmes only decidedly weirder. 
  • Born November 28, 1981 Louise Bourgoin, 40. Her main SFF film is as the title character of Adèle Blanc-Sec in The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec as directed by Luc Besson. Anybody watched the uncensored English version that came out on Blu-ray? It’s on my list To Be Watched list. She also played Audrey in Black Heaven (L’Autre monde), and she’s the voice heard in the Angélique’s Day for Night animation short.
  • Born November 28, 1987 Karen Gillan, 34. Amy Pond, companion to the Eleventh Doctor. Nebula in the Guardians of The Galaxy and in the later MCU films, Ruby Roundhouse in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Two episodes of Who she was in did win Hugos, “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang” and “The Doctor’s Wife”, the first at Renovation and the latter at Chicon 7. 

(9) FORTY WHACKS. The New Yorker enumerates “The Lessons of ‘The Lorax’”.

In 1989, the year that Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the death of Salman Rushdie, for writing “The Satanic Verses,” American parents in Laytonville, a small town in Northern California, demanded that their children’s elementary school take Dr. Seuss’s 1971 book, “The Lorax,” off its list of required reading for second graders. The book is “Silent Spring” for the under-ten set. “I speak for the trees,” the Lorax says, attempting to defend a soon to be blighted forest, its tufted Truffula trees chopped down and knit into hideous thneeds—“a Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need”—until there is nothing left but one single seed.

…“I drew a Lorax and he was obviously a Lorax,” Geisel said. “Doesn’t he look like a Lorax to you?” But, in 1989, to Bill and Judith Bailey, the founders of a logging-equipment business in Laytonville, the Lorax looked like an environmental activist. “Papa, we can’t cut trees down,” their eight-year-old son, Sammy, said after reading the book, in which a “Super-Axe-Hacker” whacks “four Truffula Trees at one smacker.” Townspeople were caught up in the so-called “timber wars,” when environmentalists camped out in trees and loggers wore T-shirts that read “Spotted Owl Tastes Like Chicken.” Logging families took out ads in the local newspaper. One said, “To teach our children that harvesting redwood trees is bad is not the education we need.”…

(10) ONE DAM THING AFTER ANOTHER. “Ian Frazier Wishes Somebody Would Write About the World’s Largest Beaver Dam” in the New York Times. He avoids SF…but we’ll skip that quote.

Which subjects do you wish more authors would write about?

I don’t know — how about the world’s largest beaver dam? It’s in northern Alberta, Canada, and very hard to get to. Supposedly it’s the largest animal-made structure visible from space. I would like to write about it myself, but no editors are interested. (Write about it, that is, without actually going there.)

(11) ELON MUSK NEWS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post.  Isabelle Khurshudyan and Mary Ilyushina discuss the popularity of Elon Musk in Russia.  Among his fans is Pavel Antonov, who wants to be the first bartender in space, with his role model being the android Michael Sheen played in Passengers. “Why Russia’s mania for Elon Musk just keeps on growing”.

…Pavel Antonov’s life goal can be traced back to the 2016 movie “Passengers,” a sci-fi romance that takes place on a luxury spaceship. One character in the movie is Arthur, an android bartender played by Michael Sheen. Arthur provides smiling relief amid the chaos.

“I immediately thought Musk will definitely need such a person who would distract from all problems,” Antonov said. “For at least one hour, you can sit at the bar, forget about everything and talk about neutral topics. From then on, I decided that I want to be the first bartender on Mars.”…

He’s developed “a signature cocktail for Mars” which is bright blue and a red cherry for the Red Planet…

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Mr. Sci-Fi” Marc Scott Zicree is roaming the aisles at San Diego Comic-Con — Special Edition.

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